Sunday, March 30, 2014

Won't You Be My Neighbor?: 709 Highwood Drive, Baltimore, MD, 21212

For those of you in the market for a new home, there's a lovely new Lake Walker charmer on the market. The cute cottage features two beds and two full baths, and is listed at the bargain price of $219,000. It's the perfect size for someone who's single, or up to a small family. It's been renovated very nicely, and retains the original architecture of the home. Take a look around and let me know what you think? You can find the MLS listing HERE.

Several of the rooms have cute shutters.

The home also has wonderful architectural details like the archway to the dining room.

The kitchen is small yet functional.

You get a nice view of the backyard from this kitchen window.

This newly updated full bath features marble floors and nice new nickel hardware.

The master bedroom is on the second floor and features a gorgeous alcove ceiling and newly installed full bath.

I hope you enjoyed the tour! Go check it out if you might be interested, but hurry, I don't think this one will last long.

Friday, March 28, 2014

More People Moving To Big Cities, What Does it Mean for Families?

USA Today recently published an interesting ARTICLE on a trend I've been noticing for years, more people are moving back to big cities. After years of families and young people rushing to the suburbs, city life is now becoming more appealing, and rundown urban areas are seeing significant re-flourishing. The article addresses cities nationwide, but uses Baltimore as a specific example of a big city changing for the better.

As someone who grew up in both a city and suburban environment, I've been able to see the pros and cons of both and am admittedly a city gal. I like the historic architecture of big cities, the more solidly built homes and other structures, walkability and transportation, presence of mom and pop shops, cultural institutions, dining options, and diversity big cities tend to offer.

What I've noticed though is that upwardly mobile people who choose to inhabit cities undergoing renaissance are saddled with an increased responsibility to better their communities. While developers come in and offer more amenities and renovated housing, economically well-off residents become tasked with warding off crime and restoring dilapidated institutions, most importantly public education.

My Baltimore neighborhood is currently faced with this challenge, as neighborhood parents decide if they will organize and put in the effort necessary to bring our neighborhood school up to snuff. Will we send our kids to the local public school? Enroll them in private school? Or move away to a pricier neighborhood with better schools?

I for one am all for strengthening our neighborhood school. I feel this way for many reasons:

1. We pay extremely high property taxes, and should reap the benefits of this by attending the school system we pay for.

2. I love my home and neighborhood and don't want to move. Why should I shell out money to move when where I am located could be a perfectly fine place to raise a family with just a little work? (sidenote: I'm amazed at the number of parents I meet who buy more house than they can afford to send their kids to better schools, instead of just improving the schools in areas they can afford.)

3. Poorer children who's parents do not have the resources to send them to private school should have access to good schools and the ability to socialize with students of all backgrounds.

4. My husband and I are fortunate in that we can afford to send our child to any private school in Baltimore, but shelling out $25k a year in tuition while letting our neighborhood school underperform just undermines our property value. So not only will we add a major expense by sending our kid to private school, but we will also be eroding the value of one of money making assets, our beloved home. Even sending our child to the cheapest nearby private option will end up costing $150-200K in lost equity and tuition bills over the course of 9 years, and that's just for one kid.

I know firsthand that schools not performing at the desired level can be changed rapidly through parental and community involvement. I've seen it occur in cities faced with swift population changes such as DC. However, this change does not occur due to one or two active parents, it requires a committed group of residents. So the question becomes, are you committed?

"Life's most persistent and urgent questions is, 'What are you doing for others?'" ~Martin Luther King Jr.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Worth Your Money: Amazon Prime

There are not many bills I look forward to paying, but when it's time to renew my Amazon Prime, I quickly hit the pay button. If you don't know about Amazon Prime, it's a service offered by Amazon that gives you unlimited shipping for a year. They also throw in extra perks like free instant streaming of selected movies and television shows, as well as selected free music. For a household like ours it's a real steal, we regularly milk the heck outta that baby! Though we try hard to shop local, Amazon is our go to source for certain hard to find items, and any large sized purchases that won't fit into our tiny car. We get waaaay more than our money's worth in shipping, plus free entertainment when we've exhausted our going out budget for the month, or just want a night in.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Spy: Items That Can Be Used For Our Nursery

As I begin designing our little one's nursery, besides safety, the most important issue I must keep in mind is the budget. I've set aside a total of $350 for decorating, and not a penny over. To keep costs low I have to be resourceful, and use restraint when shopping (this is soooo hard when all first-time parents want to do is buy all kinds of cute stuff for their kid). The first place I'm shopping for items is at home. Most people have tons of stuff around their house that they are not using or could be temporarily repurposed for a nursery. Today, I took inventory off all the stuff I currently have that might work well in the baby's room. Here's what I found.....

A small chest currently being used in my home office. It's tiny, but so are baby clothes, so it might work. I don't have much money to buy a dresser, so I've got to get creative. It's cheap looking and in a hot mess state right now. I'm hoping it's something some paint and new hardware can fix.

A throw I used to cuddle up on the couch with, but since changing the color scheme in the living room I haven't used it much.

 A vintage rocking chair I picked up a few years ago. I have back problems sometimes, so when I spotted this cute rocker for a good price, I quickly scooped it up. The bear was a gift to my nephew that he keeps at our house, hopefully he doesn't mind sharing with his cousin.

A lamp I bought for a few bucks for the hubs' office. He never used it :-( I guess his loss, is the baby's gain.

 An antique ship photograph that hangs in the hubs' office. This room will become the baby's room, so I figure there may be no need to move it.

A pillow from my office. I love the print of the fabric, so this has a good chance of making the cut.

A dream catcher picked up from a vintage store during our latest trip to St. Michaels. (You can read about trip our trip HERE).

An old basket that's currently housing shoes I never wear. I'm thinking it might make good book or toy storage.

I also have multiple plastic drawers that can be used for hidden storage, a silver picture frame, old shirts I use for scrap material (I frequently shrink the hubs' shirts, terrible, I know), and tons of leftover paint from past projects (remember that powder room PAINT FIASCO?).

I think this is a good start.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Around Town: Wee-Sale

Ever heard of WEE-SALE? They're a group that sponsors seasonal pop-up children's consignment sales. The sales are open to the general public for three days straight, and there's currently one being hosted in Greenbelt.  They offer baby clothes, baby gear, toys, books, and shoes. I was curious about the event, so I decided to stop by. All-in-all it was a pretty good experience. I picked up several outfits that were reasonably priced (a total of $44). I didn't get any baby gear, as a lot it was a bit tattered.

They are hosting events in Annapolis and Charles County in May that I may pop into. The sale in Greenbelt lasts through the weekend and on Sunday all merchandise is 50% off.  It's a great place to get cute cheap clothes. The hubs and I have agreed to buy only used baby clothes, with the exception of onesies. So far, it's saving us a small fortune.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Expecting, The Unexpected.

Life is full of surprises. And in this case the hubs and I received a HUGE one, when we found out we are expecting our first child. As two people who had committed to never becoming parents, this came as a huge shock. Even after several weeks we still sort of can't believe it. But we are taking things in stride and are both super excited. Apparently the universe knew we needed something, we had no clue we wanted.

With little prep time I'm scurrying to immerse myself in all things baby. I've got no clue about this stuff! There seems to be so many decisions. One of my first projects will be tackling putting together a nursery. Because we had no baby budget set aside, all baby prep will need to be done super cheap. I will share with you my tips and tricks along the way.

Well that's all, just wanted to update you on things. By the way, for obvious reasons there will be no more weight loss posts, but these will be replaced with baby posts, yay! Also, if you have any favorite family blogs please share them in the comments section.

“Miracles are what happens when you get out of the way of yourself.” ~Brad Szollose