Saturday, September 9, 2017

home (noun): the place where one lives permanently

Well, it happened. Over three months went by without a new blog post from me. There are a lot of reasons for my hiatus, but one of them being... WE BOUGHT A HOUSE. Whoa, that still feels very foreign to say type. It all happened so fast but it was a few weeks after my last blog post that we were writing up an offer.  Where do I start? I guess at the beginning.

From the moment we arrived in SoCal, I knew this was the place for us. We had a bit of a rocky start getting adjusted to how things work here. But, it's California, you say and everything is so laid back and easy, right? Actually, not really. But, after a little over a year, I feel like we have figured things out at least a little. We are still rookies, but not the newest kids on the block by any means. 

We started thinking seriously about buying a house towards the end of last year and even though we weren't ready (I am not sure anyone is ever 100% ready), I was subscribed to daily emails from a local real estate company. Each morning I would anxiously await the daily digest email and get kind of depressed looking at how expensive everything was. 

One day in early Spring I suggested to Jake, "let's go to this open house". And he looked at me like he saw a ghost. I said, we aren't signing a contract that we are buying this house, we are just going to look and see what it's like. So, he agreed and we went. The house was a 'flip' and we were not impressed. We did get free subway sandwiches so they made it worth our while. That is when we realized that pictures online are not to be trusted. We went to a few more open houses on our own and then decided to get an agent. We had a meeting with her in April and decided to start going to open houses with her and start seriously looking for something. Our lease was ending in June so being the planner I am, I wanted to time it perfectly so we didn't have to end our lease early or have to figure out temporary housing. I was trying to make this as seamless as possible, but you know how that often turns out... 

We went to open houses a few times with her, but little did we know that on our first day of looking we would find our home. She brought us to an open house for a property that was already under contract so she could get a feel for what we like. We loved the inside but didn't love the outside as much (it wasn't modern enough), I think we rated it 8/10 so in our minds we really liked it, but we knew it wasn't available so we didn't even think twice about it. A few weeks later it fell out of escrow (which is fairly common, I am told). It was still out of our price range so we waited (some days patiently, others not so patiently).  We kept looking at other houses but nothing ever came close to this house. Nearly a month later, they lowered the price into our price range (we put in an offer that day -- we were also traveling to Seattle the same day so it was kind of hectic and we didn't have time to write a love letter). We knew it was a flip owned by investors, so we didn't think they would care too much about a love letter anyway...or at least that is what we hoped. The next day, we found out that there were two other offers higher than ours, so the owners did a multiple counter offer back to all three parties. We agreed on their price and signed the papers and waited to hear back. We were not prepared to get into a bidding war so we decided that we had reached our max and would drop out if the price went up again.

The day we found out was a Sunday a few days before Jake's birthday and we were in downtown Seattle, walking right past the Four Seasons, oddly enough. Our finance guy texted me "Congratulations" out of the blue and I was like "Whaaat? Did we get the house?" And he was like, "I think so!" A few minutes later our agent called with the good news. We were kind of in shock because we didn't really expect that they would accept our offer. We had heard how competitive things were and the SoCal market has been and still is on fire. Seattle is probably one of the only other places in the country that is this crazy to buy real estate in.

We went through all the usual steps, and had a super fast < 30 day close since Jake had a trip  pre-planned that he couldn't reschedule, we wanted to (1) move out of our rental, (2) close on the new house and (3) move into the new house by June 17th. Keep in mind our offer was accepted on May 21st. Somehow everything fell exactly into place. We did have to give notice on the rental by June 1st which was before our financing contingency was removed, but I just knew that everything would all come together. It was scary and nerve-wracking to say the least, but nothing could have prepared us for (how do I say this delicately)... some water issues that arose three days after we moved in. I will save that story for another day (if I ever tell it), but let's just say we made it to the "other side", got to know some of our neighbors really well, and are stronger now after going through it.

Here are a few sneak peeks of the house. I have been sharing a lot on Instagram (including Instastories) @thevintagemodern -- be sure to follow me in you aren't already.


I've always wanted to have an entryway! ... This was so simple but so fun to style.


So I bought Jake a house for his birthday. And we celebrated signing our lives away with IN-N-OUT because, duh. #typical #californian

..Expect more updates on the house in the coming months including more pictures of our updates and changes we've made so far. We worked with Laurel & Wolf on redesigning and decorating our main living area and we are currently in the process of getting a new front door. So be on the lookout!

P.S. Gosh, I've missed blogging!

xoxo,


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

#offline

YOU GUYS... How is it already May?! And I haven't blogged in a minute. Well, life has been busy offline. We have been exploring this new state of ours and keeping busy despite not really having much of a social life here in Long Beach.  But, we are having fun in the meantime! I can't believe Jake is only weeks away from finishing his first year teaching. This year is truly flying by.

I am definitely in a groove in my work-from-home life but could improve my eating and workout habits (always room for improvement there). I find that the older I get, the more I want to focus on goals, improving my daily life and just being happy. Because -- to me, that is what life is all about.

So, what have we been up to?


In the first four months of 2017, we (I):

  • Explored Downtown Pasadena
  • Finally went to The Grove (fave shopping center in LA so far!)
  • Went to the Getty Villas
  • Purchased a wifi extender and now the internet works in our bedroom and outside. Best purchase of 2017 so far. 
  • Dropped a bookend on my foot from the 2nd highest shelf and possibly crushed a few bones. NBD. I am currently on ~2 weeks of R&R and I have been instructed to avoid unnecessary walking. And I just got back from a 4-day work trip to Nashville where we walked all over and also ziplined... oops. 
  • Got to see Gonzaga play at Pepperdine (reminded me of the OLD KENNEL!)
  • Went to Malibu Farm and ran into some Instagram models. 
  • Discovered Newport Beach and Corona Del Mar (The houses there are insane! Does anyone have a couple mil I can borrow?) 
  • Stumbled upon Lido Marina Village. Went back 3x since. 
  • Went to Palm Springs. Again. You know I love that place!
  • Got to experience Modernism Week in Palm Springs. Incredible! 
  • Discovered my favorite lunch spot - LEMONADE! Think: healthy foods, cafeteria style + a bunch of different kinds of lemonade 
  • Walked along Huntington Beach for 3 miles 
  • Had lunch and walked around the Promenade in Downtown Long Beach -- for the first time!
  • Headed down to San Diego for a conference over a long weekend  
  • Saw the Superbloom in Lake Elsinore 
  • Made a spontaneous trip to Phoenix to see the ZAGS in the Final Four. Didn't get to see the Championship game since Jake had to get back to teach a class. Educating the future generation is important, too. And it was for the best anyway since we all know how that turned out. 
  • Shopped at the Rose Bowl Flea -- you can bet we will be back! 
  • Had drinks at the wine bar in my new favorite grocery store -- Gelsons -- where have you been all my life? 
  • Flew out of LAX during rush hour traffic -- it took me 1.5 hours to get to the airport and I live 20 miles away. So I can officially consider myself a Californian now... I think. 
  • Ate In-N-Out too much -- we had set a new rule, only once a month from now on. Wish us luck! 
  • Have a few other exciting things up our sleeves which will reveal themselves in time... (#notpregnant though). 

Still on our list for 2017:

  • Go to Disneyland (Jake will probably veto this until someone comes to visit us) COME VISIT US! We only live 20 minutes away. 
  • Visit Catalina Island for my birthday weekend 
  • Try almond charcoal ice cream from Little Damage in LA 
  • Make a trip to Hawaii to see the fam (this is now an annual requirement in my book) 
  • Take a Pacific Coast Highway Roadtrip (if that bridge near Big Sur will ever open again?!)
  • Drive up to Santa Barbara -- in the books for this summer! 
  • Try Open Sesame (Lebanese restaurant in Long Beach (LB)) 
  • Find a good nail salon (ongoing)
  • Find my favorite coffee shop in LB 
  • Explore Temecula -- in the books for this summer! 
  • More celeb sightings! I now keep a list in my iPhone notes to keep track of who we run into! Ha! And the funny part is that most of the sightings took place outside of LA (or Cali, for that matter). I do love flying in/out of LAX though cause two of my celeb sightings have been on a plane in First Class (one day I will be sitting up in First Class with them... one day)
  • This list could be never-ending... but I will stop now. 

As you can see, I have an ongoing list, so if you have any rec's, send them my way! And as you also know, I am always planning my next trip.

Cheers!

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

NEWport Beach

As you may know, one of my favorite things is discovering new places. Sort of on accident, Jake and I stumbled upon a new outdoor shopping area in Newport Beach (it's still under construction) that I am totally obsessed with. Let me backup: In January, I had a bad eye infection and needed to take a break from wearing my contacts. I decided to get new glasses from Warby Parker. I did a home try on but you might know how difficult those are -- it is so hard to tell what will look good in person and I ended up not liking any of the ones that I had tried on.

Then I remembered there are a few b&m Warby Parker locations in Socal. I noticed they had a location in Orange County which meant that we didn't have to drive to L.A. Cue our first trip to Lido Marina Village.

It started out as a surprisingly chilly and rainy day. I bundled up in this super cozy Tobi coat and then the sun peaked out. We got coffee from a little coffee shop called Honor Coffee and got lost in a few shops for a couple hours.






We've been back three times in the last few months, so you can tell how much we truly love it. It's still under construction, so it's not completely filled up yet, but I can't wait to see what other stores pop up here.  Some of my faves so far: aesop, Warby Parker, Clare V, Faherty (Jake's fave).




Get the Look: 

Coat | c/o Tobi
Denim | Levis 711
Sandals | Old Navy (sold out), similar

I ended up picking out Warby Parker | Keene in Beach Glass in case you were wondering.

xoxo,

Friday, February 24, 2017

Desert Style

Jake and I just got back home from a week in Palm Springs and let me tell you, it is just what I needed. Things have been crazy busy on the homefront as well as work so it was nice to just get my heart rate down and relax a bit. This was my third trip to Palm Springs in less than a year -- can you tell I like that place a little? I'll be sharing a City Guide soon -- so keep your eyes peeled. 

We spent a lot of time at our rental house and also visited a few new-to-us spots. Below are a few photos from the Ace Hotel restaurant called King's Highway where we took a bunch of pictures. I love a good mid-century modern rock wall -- and Palm Springs is filled with them! I wanted to share some photos of a few looks that I have been really living in lately. Both of these Tobi dresses are perfect for "dressing up" or down (pun intended) and relaxing at home or going out. 





Golden hour in Palm Springs is THE BEST. 


These photos below were taken at our rental house in Racquet Club Estates (I'll share more photos soon). I've stayed in this neighborhood twice now and really love it the best. Hoping we can get a house around here someday... Stay tuned, folks! (Also, say hello to Craig photobombing me during my sunset photo shoot ;)) 


<3 Cactus love 


... On our last day in Palm Springs, we headed out for pre-dinner drinks at Escena Golf Club... Of course, I found another rock wall... Imagine that?! 


Outfit Details: 

Dresses: c/o Tobi Gray | Blue

Sandals: jcrew (no longer available), similar

Sunglasses: Etnia Barcelona

Purse: jcrew

xoxo,

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

CITY GUIDE | L.A.

So we've lived in the L.A. area for just over seven months (time flies, right?) but I thought I would put together a list of a few of our favorite things to do in the city, just in case you are ever in the area. This will be my first city guide and hopefully not my last -- so here goes!

L.A. is similar to New York City in that each time I go, I can create my own unique experience. Each time we visited NYC, we stayed in a different area -- and each area has such a different vibe. I feel the exact same way about L.A. It is so versatile and you can go from people watching on Venice Beach to watching a Red Carpet event in Hollywood. Celeb spotting is fun too. It can be a crazy place, but you can really customtize your experience -- the possibilities are endless!



Shall we begin?

We like to go to L.A. on Sundays because traffic is almost non-existent and everything is so much less crowded.

Coffee: my favorite coffee shop is Alfred Coffee on Melrose Pl. It is Instagram Gold, trust me. And my favorite drink is not even coffee - it's an iced chai tea. So good! They also have a Tea spot really close. It is also a must try! 


Others to try: Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, Verve Coffee, RUBIES + DIAMONDS



Healthy Spot: Sweetgreen. I wish we had this place closer to home, because it's so good. Have you ever had Chopt? - it's on the East Coast but sadly has not made it's way to the West coast yet. This is one way to get me to eat salads and I will definitely take what I can get.

Others to try: Simply O Juice Bar, Lemonade 

District: The Flower District. We picked up a bunch of fresh flowers here that lasted over 3 weeks! The prices are insanely cheap and the flowers are so good and fresh. Not quite Pike Place Market, but I'll take it. Beware, the areas around it are sketchy at best. We decided to get some steps in and walked here from the Broad near the Financial District which I do not recommend, so much so that we had to uber back to the car. Let's just say I was clutching onto my purse for dear life ...which brings me to...

Museum: (so far) The Broad. The architecture of the museum is spectacular and one of my favorite things is that you can even see how they store items they are not currently showing -- a behind the scenes look, if you will. Jake and I got to spend 45 seconds in the Infinity Mirrored Room below and it was amazing. Highly recommend! It's hard to get into, but if you can get tickets right when the museum opens (they're free), you should be able to get a time to see this room. In other exciting news, the museum is getting 6 more rooms like this in October 2017. 


Others to try: LACMA, Griffith Observatory 



Fast Food: In-n-out (duh). Except there is a Shake Shack in Hollywood now, so... Shake Shack.

Beach: Santa Monica. The mountains in the background (not pictured in the photo below) are so picturesque. Must see!


Others to try: Huntington Beach (for surfing), Venice Beach (for people watching), Hermosa Beach (shopping / outdoor cafe vibe)


Restaurant: Gracias Madre. Makes me want to seriously become a vegetarian. Everything here is good, the drinks + the food + the atmosphere. You get the idea. 


Others to try: Fig + Olive, By Chloe, Urth Caffe, Bottega Louie, Eggslut, Mendocino Farms (I have so many!)



Drive: Pacific Coast Highway. Believe me, what they say is true. We are dying to go on a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco. Hopefully we can make that happen this year. We are still working on our travel plans this year. So far the list is shaping up quite nicely: Palm Springs, San Diego, Nashville, Seattle, Austin, Catalina Island, Hawaii ... and hopefully an international location if we can squeeze it in! 

Hike: Runyon Canyon

Viewpoint: Griffith Observatory

Roadtrip: Palm Springs! We're going again next month and I cannot wait! 


Others to try: San Fran, Napa/Sonoma, Newport Beach, Pasadena



Still on my to do list: Getty Villa, LACMA, Laguna Beach, The Grove. Basically the list of things to explore in this area is endless. I have never lived in a place with so much to do before. At times it can be overwhelming, but it's important to decide what your priorities are first. Then it helps you to narrow down what kind of experience you want to have. 

xoxo,

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

#BROWSONPOINT

I first heard about eyebrow microblading (semi permanent eyebrow tattooing) this summer and was immediately intrigued. If you know me in person, then you know that when I start researching something, I quickly become obsessed. Jake says, just wait until we have kids and they take on that trait... I am in for a real treat, ha.

When I was in college, I started wearing makeup for the first time and began wearing eyeliner every day. It was a rare sight to see me without eyeliner on. Then, a few years after college I started really paying attention to my eyebrow shape.  I quickly realized that in order to achieve the angular shape I was looking for, I would need to get my brows waxed and tweezing alone was not going to cut it anymore.  So, I visited the Benefit Brow Bar at Macys and got my brows waxed for the first time when I was 26. I was hooked and to this day, I have been getting them waxed religiously! I have been trying to grow fuller brows ever since. I've tried all kinds of things such as LiBrow, coconut oil, and pre-natal vitamins (no, I'm not pregnant).  Within the past few years, I also started tinting my brows which is another good option if you are looking for fuller brows. So, I would encourage you to get your brows tinted before you opt for microblading. And if the tinted brows aren't enough (it's OK - they weren't enough for me either), then, by all means, proceed. Just a note - I am not wearing any eyebrow makeup in any of these photos.

My Before + After



Microblading 101 


Fast forward to 5+ years later, I am sill growing out my eyebrows. So when I read about microblading, I decided it was the perfect solution. I would get fuller eyebrows with minimal work.  Have you googled microblading yet? If not, it's a semi-permanent tattoo, but instead of using a single needle, the artist uses a manual tool to freehand tiny hairlike strokes onto the skin, which mimic the look of real hairs. This type of tattooing is softer, more subtle and is meant to be a natural-looking enhancement. Body tattoos use ink while cosmetic tattoo procedures involve pigments. These pigments are designed to gently fade over time. The tattoo should last 1-3 years with touch ups needed every 12-16 months.

I got my brows waxed about a week before my microblading appointment. My aesthetician drew on these lovely arches so I could envision what my brow shape could look like, with thicker brows.   No, it is not a Halloween costume, Jake! My microblading artist did a similar exercise at the beginning my appointment, but I don't have any photos of that, so these will have to do.


Choosing an Artist 


I spent hours researching microblading artists online and finally decided on Paris Elyse. Her instagram page @paris.elyse is full of gorgeous brows, so I knew right away that she would do amazing work -- which she did!  If you are considering microblading, choosing your artist is probably the most important part of the entire process.  Typically, they are booked out for months (which is a good sign and means they are popular). Other things to consider: ensure they are using sterile tools, make sure you study tons of photos of their work to get a feel for how they do things, the shapes they create, etc. It is all based on science, face shape etc, but each person does things slightly different. Read reviews online and make sure you are 100% sure that you want this person to tattoo your face. I mean...

The Initial Visit 


I booked my appointment and patiently waited several months. The day was finally here! I went in for my first appointment which takes several hours. Paris and I spent about 30 minutes discussing how I wanted my brows to look while she carefully drew them on and measured them to make sure they were the perfect size, shape and thickness for my face. I actually had a pretty good base shape already, we just needed to make them a little thicker and fuller. After we were both satisfied with the shape, she put on numbing cream, sealed my brows with plastic wrap and let it sit for 20-25 minutes. Then, it was time to work her magic. She instructed me to lay down in the chair and I felt like I was at the dentist's office (but this visit was much more pleasant). She took off the plastic wrap and we started discussing colors. She put a little circle on my forehead of the color she wanted to use, which was a  custom mix she whipped up of several colors including latte and sandalwood. I didn't want to go too dark because I didn't want my brows to look too harsh and she was totally on the same page. Then, she started with the actual microblading process and it took about an hour or so. It felt like someone was scratching my eyebrows and I felt some strokes more than others. Personally for me, I bled a bit (my skin is very sensitive) and it was slightly painful at times. Keep in mind that everyone is different and some people don't feel any pain at all. So, it really depends on a lot of different factors, if you will feel it or not. Either way, it's worth it! Beauty is pain, #amiright

At the end of the microblading process, she handed me a mirror and it was time for the big reveal. This was one of my favorite parts! She wiped off the pigment and bam! I got to see my brand new sparkling brows for the first time. I was speechless and so happy with the results!

The Healing Process


If you go to Paris' website (linked above), you can read about the specific aftercare instructions. I will say the hardest part of aftercare for me was not getting my brows wet for at least a week. We stayed at a hotel after I got them done and it didn't have a bathtub, so I took a VERY CAREFUL shower and attempted to wash my hair. Not an easy task, but I made it! Also, on days 2 and 3, my brows were really dark to the point I was VERY self conscious to go out in public... it almost looked like they were tattooed on (like a real tattoo), so once you get through the first couple days, it gets better, I promise.

As you can see in the photos below, most of the pigment falls out after about two weeks and the eyebrows lighten up considerably.

[Brows on Day 2]

[Brows on Day 9] 

The Touch Up


Four weeks after my initial appointment, I went in for a touch up which was super quick and relatively painless. Basically, it's an opportunity to review how your skin took the pigment and to touch up any areas that are looking too sparse. Many people don't even need to do a touch up, so again, it depends on how your skin reacted and healed from the initial appointment. You should follow the same aftercare instructions as the initial appointment. Again, your brows will be significantly darker than normal for a few days after, so be prepared and avoid any important things directly after.

My Final Thoughts 




Overall, I am very happy with the results! I am so glad I finally decided to go through with the process. I used to fill in my eyebrows every single day, but I rarely use brow makeup now and my brows are always "on"! While I did experience some pain during the appointment, it wasn't the worst pain in the world and it was totally worth it.

Questions? Comments? I'd love to share more of my experience and answer your questions, please reach out if there is anything else you want to know. As you know, I am an open book!

xoxo,

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Twenty Seventeen

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and all that jazz... Guess what? We made it to a new year! Despite both of us being sick for the past few days, I am optomistic for what is to come in 2017. We are just finishing up spending nearly two weeks visiting friends and family in Seattle and Portland (#welovethePNW) and are looking ahead to several more weekend-type trips this coming year. If you know me, then you know one of my favorite parts of starting a new year is trip planning! I am hopeful that we can maybe do an international trip (Tulum? ) in 2017, since we skipped doing one in 2016 due to our second cross country move. But, more to come on our travel schedule once we get that ironed out. 


Other recent highlights: 


I will be starting another round of 21 day fix tomorrow. Read about my prior results here

Jake and I celebrated a BIG milestone - 10 years (a whole decade) since we met on 12/31/06. Time flies when you're having fun! xo 

I recently got my eyebrows micro-bladed (yes, it did hurt a tiny bit but it was totally worth it!) and will be sharing more about my experience on the blog coming soon. Paris Elyse worked her magic and I cannot wait to tell you all about it! 

This mini travel steamer I got for Christmas has changed my life. Seriously. How did I survive so long without this thing? 

That's it! Just wanted to share a little bit of what I/we've been up to lately. How are you starting 2017 off? 

HNY,
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