Today’s A to Z ‘life goal for my 20s’ is a big one: moving to a new city!

Obviously, having just bought my first house, this isn’t on my immediate to-do list.

But the thing is, with the exception of 4 years in college, I’ve lived in Charlottesville since I was born. That’s 25.5 years minus 8 semesters. I go through love/hate phases with Charlottesville, especially during the spring and winter. In the springtime, I remember how beautiful this town is, and how amazing it is to be able to get from the city to the country in about 10 minutes flat. We have wineries galore, and lots of unique events to experience nearly every weekend. In the winter, not as much goes on here, and I get depressed by the cold and the snow and the city’s inability to clean it up properly.

Sometimes I find it comforting that if I’m out somewhere with my dad and/or my grandma, we’re guaranteed to see at least one person that they know. But now that it’s also starting to happen to me, I like it less. There are tons of people still in this town who I went to high school with, but was never close with. I don’t enjoy those run-ins. Sometimes I crave the idea of moving to a new place and starting entirely from scratch — somewhere that no one knows me and there’s zero chance of running into an old acquaintance in the grocery store, or the hair salon, or walking down the downtown mall.

I’m not sure which place makes sense as my next home. During its good times, Charlottesville seems like the perfect fit for me. But I’m sure there are other cities out there that could hold even more possibility. Luckily, I’ve got some time to explore.


House Poor

I’m closing on my house next week. My very first house. The one I’ve dreamed about for 20 years now. The first house that I will be solely financially responsible for. The first house in which I’ll get to make all the decorating choices – for better or worse. Oh em gee!!!

After what feels like the longest process of all time, I’m finally starting to get excited. I walked through the house for the first time on November 21, and made my offer shortly thereafter. It might have been November 25? (It’s crazy that I’ve already forgotten the details!) We were worried that the seller might not respond to my offer before Thanksgiving, but she did, and on Thanksgiving day, I made the announcement to my extended family that I was under contract. I had my home inspection on December 3, and then waited a long time to hear back from the seller. Finally, she decided that she would fix all the items I requested, and they were all addressed by this past Tuesday, January 21. (Hopefully. I’ll see for sure during my final walk-through next week.)

Now, nearly two whole months after making my offer, the loose ends are being tied up and I’m preparing to close. At which point all my hard-earned money will vanish from my bank account, and I’ll start to wonder if it’s worth it. Kidding. Kind of.

There are SO MANY little details in my head: things like inspection items that I didn’t ask to be fixed and I’ll want to follow-up on, the major purchases I need to make in order to have the bare minimum required for living (this will be the first time I’ve ever lived totally on my own as an adult – I need to buy my first silverware set!), and then things like getting all my utilities set up and paid on time each month. Plus, changing over my address, ordering new checks, getting familiar with a new oven/thermostat/bathroom/routine, and on and on.

I’ve been stalking craigslist and pinning like a madwoman to my House Inspiration board on Pinterest. I have so many ideas! I just need to prioritize and save money over time. I dropped $813.92 on a brand-new washer and dryer this past Sunday, which will be delivered and installed once the house is legally mine. After that, I plan to have a plumber take a look at replacing my Quest piping and my original-to-the-house hot water heater. THEN, I should be able to move on to the frivolous things, like non-essential furniture and lots of accessories. 

I’m hopeful that my excitement, the process, and this whole new adventure will inspire my return to blogging more regularly. I’ll certainly have things to write about!

Adobe Photoshop Beginner Class at PVCC

This morning, instead of going to work, I headed to PVCC for a half-day-long Workforce Education class called “Adobe Photoshop for Beginners”!

I work on a team of web designers, and they use Photoshop all the time. All the good bloggers use Photoshop for photo editing and making mood boards. I wanted to learn something!

I’m certainly not an expert yet, but at least now I can say I’ve opened the program.

The first exercise was to take this rubber duck photo:


And insert him into this scene:


Like so!:


I decided that a family of ducks was better than just one, so I did 3. Plus, I added their reflections, which I put on a slant and reduced the opacity. Go ahead, marvel at my skillz!

From there, we moved into photo editing tools, which I picked up quickly, because I’ve had some experience using other programs to do similar things. I couldn’t save those files to share here because they were simply too large. But I feel pretty confident in my basic photo editing skills.

Then we moved on to layer masks, which I totally didn’t understand. I couldn’t get it to work right, and I couldn’t grasp the usage. I didn’t understand the practicality of any of it, and nothing I tried seemed to work. So that part of the class was a bit of a fail.

I’m signed up for the second part of the class, “Adobe Photoshop Intermediate,” but now I’m thinking that I might cancel. I really wanted to learn how to do cool blog things, like designing a logo or a header image, or making design mood boards, and that doesn’t seem to be what the class will cover. I’ll have to do some research on my own, I think.

Overall, though, I’m really glad I took the class, and not just because it got me out of work for half the day! I really had fun with the stuff I picked up quickly, and wish I had access to Photoshop to practice some more. (They won’t pay for a license for me at work, since nothing I do has to do with design. Sigh.)

Anyone else learning any new skills lately?

Monthly Mileage: Summer Edition

I completely slacked off this summer when it came to running. So, for the sake of public humiliation, here’s my Monthly Mileage breakdown for June, July, and August.

June: 31.1 miles + some sprints (looking back over my training log, I actually did really well in June! I ran 14 days out of 30, and was working on adding sprints into my routine to build my speed)

July: 6.65 miles

August: 9.9 miles

Early July was filled with home-buying drama, then P and I went on our Reunion Roadtrip, and then I returned to Charlottesville and moved into my dad’s basement, thereby losing access to my apartment’s crappy gym. Since I no longer have access to an air-conditioned treadmill, I’ve been doing my best to brave the August heat and humidity and have actually been running outside. Of my 5 completed runs in August, two were trail runs near my dad’s new house. 3 miles out-and-back through the woods–watching carefully for roots and rocks and wildlife–is quite different than the strictly-treadmill-and-pavement running that I’m used to. But I kind of like it.

Since it’s September now (my birth month! the best month!), I’m really trying to rededicate myself to making healthier choices, which in turn leads to being happier all around. I always like being able to post “I just ran 3 miles, and I did it faster than last week’s time!,” so hopefully that’ll be happening.

Fall is really the best of all the seasons. There have been a few mornings lately where I’ve walked outside to go to work, and it’s been chilly and crisp, and I can feel Autumn coming. There’s something about this season that I feel in my bones, and it brings tons of happy memories and a peaceful, all-is-right kind of feeling.

Fall in Charlottesville brings the Parade of Homes, wine tasting, lots of fall races, and a general feeling of content. This year, it brings my 25th (!!!) birthday, my 2-year anniversary with P, the re-start of the Charlottesville Design House planning meetings, and many weekend trips (because it’s also football and rugby season at P’s college!).

There’s so much to look forward to in the next few months that even my burning desire to ditch my 9-to-5 has taken a back burner. I was almost completely mentally checked out of work for the entire summer, but lately I’ve started to check back in a little bit. (Don’t get me wrong: it’s still absolutely not my forever job, but there’s so much else to be happy about that it just doesn’t seem so bad for now. But next comes winter, which is my absolute least-favorite and most depressing season. Sigh.)

So here’s to fall in Charlottesville! May it bring lots of sweaty, solid runs, health, and happiness.

Yard Sale Hopping: Look What I Bought

Two weekends ago, a Catholic church here in Charlottesville had their annual yard sale fundraiser. I saw the announcement on Craigslist and decided to go take a look. I’m glad I did! Here’s what I found.

First up, the books (because apparently I’ve been on a secondhand book buying kick lately)…

The Taste of Summer cookbook (which I figured would be pretty just to display, in the event that I never get around to cooking anything in it…):

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Some light reading:

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And a handy reference book, in case I ever get around to purchasing my first home:

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Then I headed to the housewares room, where I found these…

Another silver platter (which attracted Elephant‘s attention while I was snapping these photos):

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A small glass baking dish (perfect for banana bread!):

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And a mini cupcake tin!:

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All of this for only $5!

Since I was on a roll, I headed to the Schoolhouse Thrift Shop, which I’ve driven past a million times in my life, but had never been inside. I learned that their profits support several charities, including Habitat for Humanity, Ministry With the Aging, The Alliance for Interfaith Ministries, and the Gertrude Mitchell House, and that they’re staffed by volunteers. I had no idea!

Their inventory is mostly clothes (and a surprising number of shoes), but I wound up with another book. I’d seen this one for sale several times before and always thought “I know nothing about either of them; I should really read that!” So for 50 cents, I figured it was worth the investment:

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The next morning, I set out with a list of yard sales around town, but was disappointed with what I found. One promised blue Mason jars, one promised antique trunks, and one offered lots of furniture, but I didn’t see anything I liked besides–you guessed it–another book. This one should help me get my life on track:

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For another 50 cents, I couldn’t pass it up. I’ll let you know if I wind up reading it and figuring things out.

All in all, not too bad for $6, right?

my new (dead) roommate

When I came out of the bathroom this morning after my shower, THIS was outside the door:

huge dead spider

I guess now that I’m living in a basement, this is the kind of roommate I can expect. Luckily, it was dead. And judging by the way Delilah was proudly hanging around and trying to play with it, I think she was the murderer.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a spider that big inside a house in Virginia before. It had some pretty sizable fangs, so I really hope it didn’t bite her. Judging by the fact that part of its face was smashed in, I’m thinking there might have been some biting involved. My poor kitty!

But I’m glad she was there to protect me in the night from this big, bad monster.

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Seriously gross.

Goodwill Hunting: Look What I Bought

It turns out I’ve been doing a lot of Goodwill shopping lately. And finding lots of good stuff!

A few weeks ago, I found this silver dish at the Goodwill location on Pantops.

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I really loved the rainbow effect of the patina on it, so for $1.95, I bought it!

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Another day, I headed across town to the Goodwill on 29, where I found tons of books. I’m normally kind of snooty about the books I buy, because some secondhand books can feel really dirty. But I took a look, and found some that seemed to be in really good condition.

I was excited about this one, because I know nothing about British royal history. Maybe one day I’ll actually get around to reading it and learn a little something!

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Speaking of British history, the English major in me geeked out quite a bit when I saw this one on the shelf:

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Next up was another novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, since I read Middlesex a few months ago and LOVED it. (Book review hopefully coming soon!)

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Then I grabbed this hardcover novel, because the plot sounded interesting, and I was on a roll:

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I was quite happy with my haul, but then I saw this cute little gold tea light dish:

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So I grabbed it, too! Since all paperbacks are $1 and hardbacks are $2, along with the gold dish, my total for this stop was $5.95 plus tax.

For less than $8.50 total, I’m pretty happy with my recent Goodwill runs. Has anyone else found anything awesome in a Goodwill lately?