House Hunting, Round 2

Well friends, I’m back at it again.

If you follow me on instagram you may have caught that I put in an offer last week on a house. It was House #5 from the first house hunting post. Unfortunately, the sellers and I couldn’t come to a number we both agreed on so that was the end of that. It’s okay, life goes on.

On Sunday I made the drive back up for a quick visit and tour of a few more houses. Here’s what I found…

House 1

I didn’t plan to see this place because it’s out of my price range, however it’s next door to my parents house and has been on the market a while so we decided to take a peek inside.

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Talk about a farmhouse dream!

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It sits atop a hill on almost an acre of useable land, with a few sheds and a large detached lofted barn.

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I would go crazy decorating the inside of this barn…

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There’s a large foyer with an amazing brick wall:

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A decent sized living room:

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With an adjacent dining area:

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And a small closed off kitchen. It’s a terrible layout.

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Walls would have to be knocked down and rooms gutted.

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Off the kitchen is an open bonus room of sorts…

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And that leads to an awkward narrow bathroom…

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And a laundry room.

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There’s also a tiny room (not counted as a bedroom) downstairs by the front door:

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Upstairs you’ll find three bedrooms.

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And a bathroom:

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Verdict: This is a property I’d love to buy, renovate slowly over time and keep in the family for generations. It has so much character, it’s in a great quiet setting and has the potential to be worth quite a bit if completely remodeled, but it would easily cost well over 100k to bring it to that level. And apparently the seller won’t budge on the price. Not worth writing an offer at this point.

House 2

I spotted this on the MLS a month ago but assumed something was very wrong as it’s a 6 bedroom and still in my price range. I had to see it for myself…

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Can you just imagine how stunning it would be cleaned up with some fresh paint?

And a few adirondack chairs on this southern style covered porch…

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Yep, this place had my heart right away.

Inside, the walls and ceiling are covered in pine, with the living room on your left and kitchen on the right as you walk in.

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The stairway is in the center which unfortunately can’t be moved to really open up the space. But I’ve already figured out a new floor plan in my head.

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The home is 60 years old and I’m assuming there’s wood under those carpets.

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The windows are all updated, so all it really needs is white paint to brighten it up (and lights that work, sorry for the dark photos).

There’s a full bathroom next to the kitchen:

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As soon as I reached the top of the stairs, that was it. I was sold.

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I mean, look at these bedrooms…

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There are two larger rooms on opposite ends of the hallway.

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Wood beams and trim in every room.

And there are four small bedrooms, similar in size and layout:

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Look at that sweet window nook!

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Bedroom #3:

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I don’t even mind the wallpaper. (Not that it would stay, but it completely adds to the storybook charm)

Bedroom #4:

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How fun would this be for a family vacation home?

Bedroom #5

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And finally, #6:

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It feels like you’re in a dollhouse in the trees. There’s just a feeling about this place.

And the bathroom just needs paint and a vanity—look at that gorgeous woodwork and clawfoot tub:

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The ten different types of wallpaper is a little much, but that’s easily fixable…

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Verdict: In love. Possibly even more than House 5 from last time. Another place I could see myself keeping for family vacations one day. However, it is more than I wanted to spend and there’s obvious exterior issues, probably some structural as well, that may come at a high cost.

House 3

This one is on the same street as House 2 from my last house hunting post, and the floor plan is very similar.

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The deck is new and of course I love those A frames.

However, the inside is underwhelming.

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The ceilings are great but the walls have cheap paneling and texture… it just felt flat and pieced together.

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Another small kitchen that can’t be opened up unless you remove a bathroom.

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The deck space off the kitchen was nice though:

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One bathroom downstairs…

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And a bedroom next to it.

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Upstairs there are two more bedrooms…

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But one is more of an enclosed loft and it’s pretty strange:

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And one more bathroom:

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The verdict: I spent no more than five minutes in this place, knowing pretty much right away it wasn’t the one. Nothing about it spoke to me. Too bad, because it was the lowest price!

House 4

I was sure this one would be my favorite before seeing any of the houses that day. Great location, price, and pictures…

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Problem is, the location wasn’t as great as I thought. And the deck is rotted and falling apart.

But the inside was much better, with an open floor plan, wood planks and pitched ceiling:

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Divided by the stairwell, there’s a living space on one side…

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And a dining on the other.

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From the front door you walk into the small kitchen.

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And there’s a bedroom on the other side:

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Across the living room there’s a hallway with another bedroom:

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A laundry closet, and a bathroom:

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Downstairs there’s a den with the second bathroom:

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The verdict: I like the interior but it’s not a very private or quiet location (we could hear the neighbors dogs barking the whole time) and it’s pricier per square foot. I wouldn’t completely rule it out, but it’s not at the top of my list.

After my offer fell through last week and I found and fell in love with my sweet storybook House #2, I decided to put an offer in on Tuesday. As I write this now (Tuesday evening) it has only been a few hours so I’m still awaiting their response. I’ll be sure to update on instagram, facebook & snapchat (@ jennasuedesign) with any breaking news and post a blog update once I have the details.

Exciting times ahead… send some positive thoughts my way! Oh, and if anyone knows a great deal on a house… drop me a message. I’m keeping my options open 😉

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The day that changed everything

One year ago today I boarded a plane with a one way ticket to Bangkok, and as many of you long time readers know, my life was never the same. I still remember exactly how I felt that day. No hesitation, no fear, just ready to begin. I knew it would be a crazy adventure, but I had no idea just how monumental those next few months would be. I have to fight the tears from welling up every time I think back to those first days. Today is more than an anniversary, though. It’s the celebration of one of the most important days of my life—a second birthday, if you will. Sorting through the photos is still bittersweet and I’ve yet to go back and read any of my blog posts during that time. But the gut feeling that told me I had to leave last year is the same gut feeling that stopped me from going back once I had a reason to stay. I trust that feeling now, but I’ll never forget how I felt in Asia. Now that I’m finally able to revisit some of those memories, I felt it was time to acknowledge them by uncovering the photos and videos buried in the archives. Sometimes images and sound can tell a more powerful story than words alone…

 

I can’t believe a year has passed. Everything has changed in what feels like the blink of an eye. I’ve never been happier or more fulfilled, and I owe it all to this trip—I am where I’m at today because of the experiences gained, lessons learned and people I met. Life is a wonderful adventure when you follow your heart….

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Escaping to the Mountains: Vlog Episode 26

With my days now dedicated to planning for my next rehab, priorities have shifted and blogging and vlogging have been put on the back burner, as there’s just not enough hours to do it all. Not to worry, they’ll be back in a big way once the renovation begins.

But these vlogs are my creative outlet and the best way I know how to preserve life’s little moments. So while they may not be weekly events now, I’ll always make time to capture and hold onto the memories. It’s so important to be able to look back and remember the journey.

Last weekend while I was house hunting back in my hometown, Lucas and I took the opportunity to escape to the mountains for the weekend on our first camping trip. Like every adventure we’ve had together, it was beautiful. I’ll let the video tell the story:

These fun weekends off are becoming fewer and farther between as I focus on my goals and put in the time and effort it requires to get there. Over the next week I’ll continue to work on landing that first deal, and you’ll find out here as soon as I have news to share! Until then, you can connect with me on instagram, facebook and snapchat (@jennasuedesign) as I check in with updates.

Wish me luck!

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House Hunting: Here we go again…

For the past two weeks I’ve been studying, researching, pondering and planning my next venture in real estate. I announced my big plans on this blog in June, and after a few weeks of packing/moving/settling in, I’m ready to hit the ground running.

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While I may not be posting as often or regularly right now, it means I’m working overtime to make this dream happen and share the process with you. There’s so much that goes into producing those “After” photos, and I’ve always been fascinated with the business and investing side of it. And I know many of you are curious as well.

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This blog has always been an open and honest place for me, and the more transparent I am, the more readers can benefit. So I’ve decided to let you all in on this with me for a first hand look at the ins and outs of real estate rehabs.

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You’ll be able to follow along as I house hunt, land my first deal, plan the renovation, manage contractors/timelines/budgets, stage and decorate, and finally sell. You’ll witness the good, bad & ugly and hopefully lend your advice, input or support in times of need. Then we can all celebrate together once it’s sold and do it all over again. Now that I’m taking this on alone I’ll need all the help I can get (even if it’s from afar).

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And yes, I’ll be sharing the numbers. All the details on the purchase price, rehab/closing costs and profit. I’ll share how I acquire deals, source materials and financial strategies. I want this blog to become a wealth of knowledge and a continuation of this journey that began five years ago.

Are we getting excited yet? Good, because it’s time to see some houses!

House hunting is always my favorite part of the process, even more than when the project is finished. It’s full of unknowns and potential and keeps me up at night (in a good way).

These homes are all in the 200-250k price range in the foothills of Northern California (I’ll share more once the house is purchased). I viewed a few more than what’s shown here, but knew right away they wouldn’t work so those aren’t included. Here are the top six contenders:

House 1

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First impression from the outside was that it’s pretty average. The neighborhood wasn’t ideal either. But the size was great—a 1300 sq ft 3 bedroom 2 bath.

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Vaulted living room ceiling but no real character, and the kitchen wall/fireplace would have to be removed.

There’s a bedroom and bathroom on the main/top floor:

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The backyard was nice with a large deck and quiet wooded setting.

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Downstairs there’s a lower deck, two more bedrooms and another bathroom.

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The Verdict: It’s not horrible, but it’s so generic. Definitely none of the cabin style charm I’m looking for. And it was tied for the most expensive property, so it wouldn’t be a wise investment unless they significantly dropped their price.

House 2

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This property is a 1200 sq ft 3/2 in a private gated community. There’s no parking/driveway/garage so that would be a large added expense right off the bat.

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It’s a bit cramped inside, so I’d want to open up and reconfigure the kitchen.

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The best part about this house is the ceiling. Gorgeous rustic wood in every room.

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This house had a few updates already like a new roof and dual pane windows. But the condition of the back deck was questionable and there’s no laundry hookups.

Off the kitchen downstairs is a hallway leading to a bedroom and bathroom.

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From the bedroom window you can see the back deck:

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Upstairs there are two bedrooms and a bathroom, and it is everything I have ever dreamed of in an A frame cabin (excuse the photo cropping here, but you get the idea, right?):

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The Verdict: I love this house. There are a few deterrents (lack of driveway/entrance, a bit small, no laundry) but so much potential. Keeping it on the radar for sure.

House 3

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Hello curb appeal! The exterior of this place is easily my favorite. It’s a 2/2 and roomier than the others at 1656 sq ft.

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But I could tell within seconds that this place is a money pit. Photos  tend to hide flaws, and this place has a ton of them.

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The overall layout and structure was nice, but a closer look reveals crooked walls, sagging ceilings and uneven floors. It looked as if it was pieced together.

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I really wanted to love this place. And there’s a lot to love about it… I could easily visualize the “After” from these photos…

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There’s a large deck off the back, but the tile job was questionable.

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The laundry room is accessible from the deck sits adjacent to the kitchen. This could be a fun makeover.

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Both bedrooms and a full bathroom are upstairs.

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Look at the slope on this ceiling…

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The Verdict: This home won on best location and curb appeal, but sadly, the risk of it becoming a money pit is too great to make it worth it.

House 4

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A sweet little storybook home.

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Another 3/2 but a bit smaller at just 1144 square feet.

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The size is apparent when you walk through the door, with a compact kitchen straight ahead and a cozy living room to your right, with no real space for an eating area.

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Downstairs is a bedroom and adjacent bathroom.

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Upstairs you’ll find a really neat loft area, which they’re claiming as a third bedroom even though it’s not enclosed.

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Just off the loft is another bedroom. I’m digging all the wood paneling here. Not an ounce of drywall in this house!

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Next door is a bathroom/laundry room:

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The Verdict: Nice curb appeal, good location, but a bit cramped. There’s also no parking/driveway and it may require more maintenance/repairs than I’d like.

House 5

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This home is also in a private gated community with lake access. Has a new roof but needs exterior paint, and the deck is a bit worn.

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Inside there’s a large open kitchen/dining/living area which I love—no walls to knock down!

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This space would be transformed with paint and new flooring.

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Off the dining area is a sliding door to the deck.

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And beyond that is a laundry area, bathroom and main bedroom.

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There are custom built in storage closets everywhere, which I love.

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This bedroom was my favorite, but in the midst of my excitement I neglected to take proper photos. Those of you who follow me on Snapchat may remember! More built ins:

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The ceiling is a show stopper—my favorite single part of this house. All I have is this fuzzy screen shot from a video I took, so you’ll have to use your imagination…

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Upstairs there’s a loft (which they’re counting as a third bedroom) with more amazing ceilings. The potential in here is insane.

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There’s a full bathroom currently under construction and more lovely pine built in closets.

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On the other side is another bedroom with more fantastic ceilings and built ins.

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The verdict: My favorite yet. And it’s the least expensive out of all the properties. It’s a pretty far drive though and there’s no cell service/reception in the area which will make the rehab process tricky. But I think I could make this place amazing.

House 6

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A classic A frame in the woods with a creek running through the yard. Sign me up.

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Another 3/2 with just over 1300 square feet. The kitchen is small but I wouldn’t have to gut it and start over (the only house with salvageable cabinets).

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There’s a small but open living room with a dining area on one side.

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To the left of the kitchen is a hallway with a storage closet, bedroom and bathroom.

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Upstairs there are two bedrooms on either side of the staircase, but they’re not enclosed.

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Pure A frame heaven.

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One bedroom also has a door to a private balcony.

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And finally, a half bathroom:

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The verdict: Great bones, a lot of potential and it needs the least amount of work of all the homes. However, it also most likely needs a new (very large) roof and an even larger new deck. It’s also a 30 minute drive from any sort of civilization.

Overall, my favorite is House 5, followed by House 2, then House 6. It’s all going to depend on the numbers. The more research I do, the more conservative I want to be going into this, but it’s tough to find those deals here in California—the market is not nearly as investor friendly than other parts of the country (I’m looking at you, Texas and Florida). This is compounded by the fact that these homes are a 4+ hour drive away so I’ll be mostly orchestrating the renovation from afar.

As anxious as I am to get started, I need to wait for the right opportunity rather than jumping on the first decent property I can find. It may be a bit of a waiting game, but I’m actively working every day to make it happen. It will be interesting to see how this evolves over the next several months!

Stay tuned for Vlog 26, coming up next…

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Stories from Cuba & Vlog Episode 25

Two weeks ago today, at 3 am on a Thursday morning, I hit publish on my big announcement post as we ran out the door of our San Francisco apartment, headed to the airport for a 10 day adventure in Mexico and Cuba.

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I’ve cut and compiled the footage into a five minute video documenting the experience into what will be the first of many travel vlogs. It’s so nice to finally be able to share the person by my side and watch our relationship grow and evolve through each story:

For three days we stayed with my sister and her fiancé in a small beach community called Puerto Aventuras, an hour south of Cancun.

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It was wonderful to catch up with them and indulge in some R&R after the past hectic month of packing and moving, but we were soon ready for the real adventure—Cuba.

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We decided to take the same free spirited approach we both practiced while in Asia last year: no pre-arranged or scheduled itinerary—just arrive and go with the flow.

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Don’t get me wrong—of course we did our due diligence prior to arriving by researching laws and logistics, and speaking with many other travelers so we knew what we were getting ourselves into. But my favorite experiences have always come from those left to chance, where I’ve been able to take spur of the moment opportunities that have come my way, and had I not done that, I likely wouldn’t be where I’m at today.

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But let’s talk about Cuba.

There’s so much to say about this amazing country. As soon as you step outside, you feel as if you’re in a time capsule. The modern cars we’re used to seeing are replaced by classic 50’s and 60’s American muscle, bicycles and horses.

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It’s the world’s largest auto museum, unfolding right in front of you.

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Colorful, crumbling buildings full of history line the streets of Havana and locals dressed in equally brightly hued clothing wander about in every direction.

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We hailed a cab in front of the airport, asking if he knew of someone we could stay with for the night. In Cuban communities, everyone knows everyone—they’re all familia. Ten minutes later we were dropped off at a doorstep, greeted warmly by a smiling woman who lead us upstairs to our room.

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Casa particulars are the preferred and most common means of accommodation in Cuba. Hotels are few and far between outside of Havana and don’t provide the cultural experience you enjoy by staying with a family in their home. For $30/night we had a private room/bathroom, a rooftop balcony overlooking rooftops and the sea, and a friendly hostess who told us everything we wanted to know about her country and its people.

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While there was no hot water and most of the public restrooms had no toilet seat or paper, it felt luxurious compared to many of my accommodations in Asia. And it’s not just the old cars and buildings that keep this country frozen in time, but the lack of technology and internet access. It’s slowly becoming accessible to locals, but as tourists we were off the grid during our entire stay… and it was a nice break from constant information overload. We had only each other and a rich, diverse and beautiful nation to focus on.

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When we first planned to visit Cuba a few months ago, we committed to learning as much Spanish as possible to get the most out of our experience. The country is not overrun with tourists (yet) and there’s little English spoken, so we wanted to make sure we could communicate with them not just on a level of necessity, but learn from and share with them, as they don’t encounter too many Americans.

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Lucas had studied Spanish in school and knew enough to get by, but we both practiced daily and I found myself holding entire conversations with locals by the end of the trip. I honestly didn’t expect it to make such a difference but when that language barrier is eliminated, it opens up a new world and really changes the entire experience. I’d highly recommend learning the local language for anyone planning to travel to a foreign country.

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And speaking of the people, they are some of the friendliest out there. They absolutely love Americans, as proven by the countless U.S. flag attire worn by locals walking the streets of Havana, U.S. baseball memorabilia and clothing, flags, air fresheners and stickers on the cars.

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As one local said—our governments may be enemies, but the people are friends. We embrace one another and we’re treated like family when we’re together. The way it should be.

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And in Cuba, unlike many parts of Asia, you can walk the streets alone at night and feel safe. Perhaps it’s due to their government history and influence or the fact that the tourism industry hasn’t exploded yet, but the locals insisted that you won’t find guns or violence on the streets like we do back home, or the pickpocketing and scams that are prevalent in other tourist destinations. And while still cautious, we definitely had that sense of security.

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After two nights in Havana we were anxious to head south to a coastal town we’d been hearing about by the name of Trinidad.

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The unique charm of Trinidad is like no other place on earth. I was in love after the first glimpse of cobblestone streets, pastel hued buildings with Spanish tile roofs and families gathered on porches along the sidewalks.

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Much more quaint, quiet and slower paced compared to Havana. It felt like home.

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Our taxi dropped us off at a casa where our hostess made freshly squeezed juice from the mangos we picked on the side of the road on our way there.

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This may be a bold claim, but the mangos in Cuba are the best in the world—even better than Southeast Asia.

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But my love for Cuban food ends there, sadly. We’d heard the warnings about Cuban cuisine before traveling but I was still hopeful—my tastes are easily satisfied and I couldn’t wait to try something different. But ‘different’ and ‘Cuban food’ are oxymorons, because here, every meal is more or less identical.

A sampling of the food provided by our casas:

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At first glance they’re impressive spreads with a wide variety of colors and tastes. And the meals themselves were tasty—however, seven days of the same food when you’re used to having any cuisine in the world at any given moment can become disheartening.

The fruits and meats are generally fresh and organic which is wonderful, but their imports are limited so they make due with what they have access to. Veggie portions are small, and “seasonal vegetables” consisted of 4 thin slices of cucumber, defrosted green beans and/or a few slices of tomato and cabbage. You have to applaud the creativity though—one breakfast included spaghetti in mayonnaise with chunks of pineapple.

My insatiable sweet tooth suffered the most when I learned it was near impossible to order anything chocolate, and the one dessert I ordered appeared to be mango pureed with ketchup and cheese.

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The drinks, however, are another story. Every bar claims to have the best mojitos in town and you can order them freshly made all day for $3. Rum is cheaper than water so we may have over indulged ourselves a bit… which I didn’t mind considering the water had an interesting taste and included bonus ingredients like dry residue, sulfates and chlorides:

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Coffee and cigars are Cuba’s most celebrated exports, so naturally we had to test them out to confirm the claims.

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We’re not exactly connoisseurs of either, but we sure had fun trying them out with locals under a straw hut in the countryside during a horseback ride trip to a waterfall.

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I could make this into a novel, but the vlog captures this trip better than words can so I’ll end with a few favorite and noteworthy memories and photos…

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-Making friends with locals in the streets of Havana, practicing our Spanish and exchanging stories while sipping mojitos

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-Our taxi driver pulling over on the way to Trinidad, climbing mango trees and devouring them on the side of the road

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-Sipping local beer while listening to live Cuban music in the outdoor courtyard in Trinidad

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-Jellyfish attacking both of us on the beach

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-Waiting out a thunderstorm under a hut while eating a giant fish, practicing our Spanish and sharing rum with the locals

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-Local musicians singing Happy Birthday to Lucas at midnight in the middle of the street in Trinidad

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-Swimming in a waterfall while drinking mojitos, playing music and making friends from around the world

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-Dance club inside of a cave

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-Late night standoffs with multiple large crabs in our bedroom

-Snorkeling in coral reefs and a lagoon in Playa Larga

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-Smoking a cigar on the porch of our casa on our last night under an intense lightning storm

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Traveling as a couple is completely different than traveling alone, as expected. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much but when you find someone you’re so compatible with, who has the same sense of adventure and excitement and desires, who you can share every beautiful moment with that you can’t put into words—those moments, that pure feeling of joy is multiplied. And there’s no greater feeling that I’ve had in my lifetime than this. These are the best days.

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Get out there while you can and seek out a new adventure. Days are precious and life is short.

Until next time…

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A very special introduction: Vlog Episode 24

In last week’s vlog and blog post I finally shared that I had made the decision to move to San Francisco rather than continuing to travel. What I didn’t tell you was the reason I chose to stay.

I’d like to introduce you to someone very special…

Lucas and I met in Vietnam last fall. He was also on an extended solo travel journey and we connected after learning we lived just hours from each other.

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I came home with plans to travel full time once the house was sold, but something was stopping me. The same something that told me to change my life last year. The one I swore I’d never ignore again, so here I am in San Francisco with the most amazing, unexpected souvenir I could ask for.

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While deep down I knew this was the right decision, it has not been easy to let go of the life I gave up. I was so scared I’d never get to feel that surreal state of being experienced while in Asia, and that the most defining journey of my life would become nothing more than faded memories.

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Those memories became painful to think about, let alone talk about to others. I had to unfollow every social media account sharing pictures and stories from the places I visited, to avoid the sickness in the pit of my stomach each time they appeared on my screen. I often wondered what I’d be doing in this moment if I’d stuck with the original plan—where I’d be, who I’d be with, what new sights and sounds I would be surrounded by. The “what-if” has been the most difficult thing I’ve had to come to terms with, but then I look back to exactly one year ago during the most painful decision of my life. The one where I listened to that quiet voice telling me to let go of the vows I made six years ago—the decision that lead me places I never thought possible. Your intuition doesn’t always lead to the easiest path, but if you stay on it, eventually you’ll understand why.

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Two days before moving to San Francisco I was on a lake, staring into the sky and it hit me. It was the feeling I couldn’t put into words—the same one felt while floating in the ocean in the Philippines and in the streets of Vietnam and in the plane above Bangkok. For a moment there was pure clarity—I was whole and complete. For those few seconds of bliss, everything in life made perfect sense.

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It was the first time I’d experienced that feeling since Asia, and it was only then that I was able to let go of my hesitations about not continuing to travel. And now for the past week living in my new city I’ve felt it every morning—that split second when I wake up smiling because reality is more beautiful than anything I could dream of.

I can’t predict the future, but right now, I’m exactly where I belong.

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I’ll be out of the country for the next ten days with limited contact, but will check in when I can on instagram, facebook and snapchat @ jennasuedesign. And the following week will begin a new era of more personal vlogs, now that the secret’s out 🙂

Here’s to new beginnings…

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A Complete & Final House Tour

As I finish unpacking boxes in my new San Francisco apartment, I wanted to take a moment to pay tribute to what I’ve dedicated myself to over the past 2.5 years. Countless days and nights of blood, sweat and tears to create my dream home. It has been a rollercoaster—those of you who have followed me from the beginning certainly know this. But it’s a ride I wouldn’t trade for the world, because it got me to where I am today.

I spent 13 hours last week going through the archives, gathering up every before, during and after photo and video of this house. I sorted and organized the highlights into a comprehensive Before & After House Tour video, including plenty of never before seen footage. This is the compilation of the entire experience dating back to November 2013, from start to finish:

And just for fun, here’s a shortened room by room before, during & after breakdown. As always, you can find complete room details, photos and sources on my Home Tour page, or via keyword search on my blog.

Foyer:

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Kitchen/Dining:

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Living Room:

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Deck:

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Laundry Room:

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Guest bathroom:

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Studio:

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Garage entry:

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Master bedroom:

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Master bathroom:

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Guest bedroom:

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Downstairs:

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Whew, that’s what about 800 days of hard work look like! I’m curious—do you have a favorite room or project? It’s impossible for me to choose just one since I’m emotionally attached to every room in a different way. So let’s break it down with a little Q&A… feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

Biggest transformation: Laundry room

Best selling point: Tie between the kitchen/dining room and the view

Favorite place to spend time: Master bedroom

Most popular/shared online: Guest bathroom

Most expensive/time consuming: Kitchen/dining room

Most frustrating DIY: Master bedroom ceiling

Most enjoyable DIY: Rustic wood projects for guest bath

So many memories here… both good and bad. Am I crazy for wanting to do this all over again right away? Maybe. But next time I’ll hire out most of the work and it won’t take over two years 🙂 Let the house hunting begin!

Once again I have to let you know how much I appreciate you reading, commenting, sharing and reaching out to me over the years. It means a lot to know that I have friends all over the world who care—not just about the pretty pictures, but the person behind them as well.

When my life turned upside down last year and this blog became a diary as I was trying to figure it all out, I knew I’d lose a lot of readers. But to those who stuck around, thank you for being there. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be back here talking about home renovations, but there have been changes happening behind the scenes which have made me re-evaluate my future.

You already know about the move to San Francisco and decision to begin rehabbing homes, but there’s more to the story. It has been a while since I’ve opened up to you and I’m finally ready to share. You’ve seen glimpses of my personal life through my weekly vlogs, and starting with the next vlog you’ll see more of the full picture.

This might be my biggest reveal yet, so make sure to check back here on Thursday. See you soon…

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Saying Goodbye: Vlog Episode 23

This is it, my friends. The last full day. Tomorrow I’ll be walking out of an empty house, taking with me a car full of boxes and the memories of two and a half years spent building a home.

As I sit down to type these words, for the first time I realize that the renovation of this home was a metaphor of my own personal transformation. Walls were torn down so that new foundations could be built. Lessons were learned and new skills gained. At times it was messy and exhausting and I wanted to give up. But tomorrow I’ll leave this house a changed person—a more improved version of myself. Tomorrow, this house and I will start over from a much better place. It took a lot of work to get us here, but the investment is always worth it in the end.

Today I’m sharing the last moments spent in my home. Oh, and there’s a couple big announcements in here…

You may have been able to guess the move to the city, as I’ve been staying there almost every weekend. But I’m also thrilled to embark on this new path of investing in and remodeling homes. A lot of thought has been put into this decision as I’ve had to evaluate the direction of my life after starting over. There are more factors involved and I’ll share more about that soon. For now, I’m focusing on settling into the new place, then I can devote my full time and attention to the next renovation.

The properties I’m looking at are near my current home which is a few hours away from the city. I’ll have to commute quite a bit, but I’m used to it at this point. I’ll work with my team of contractors who I’ve come to know and trust over the past couple years, along with squeezing in DIY projects when possible. But the timeline will be condensed for a fast turnaround to sell, and the process repeated. And of course, it will all be documented on this blog so you can continue to follow along!

On a more somber note, I’m taking Susie with me but sadly, Biscuit has to stay. It breaks my heart to leave her behind but she is mostly an outdoor cat (she was ownerless and living in the yard so we took her in) and she would be miserable stuck indoors in a noisy city. The new owners have graciously agreed to adopt her and love her and I know she will continue to live happy and free where she belongs. It’s going to be difficult to say goodbye tomorrow.

My new place is an apartment in a great location in San Francisco. You may have seen it pop up on this blog already…

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…or at the end of last week’s vlog, or instagram and snapchat and facebook. Trading in a mountain view for bays and bridges. A very different change of pace from this sleepy little town. Bring on the action.

The next blog post will be published from my new home, and you won’t want to miss this one. I’ve put together a complete house tour video, including some never before seen before, during and after footage and images. It’s a great way to have the entire renovation documented in one place and I can’t wait to share it with you on Monday.

This blog may be five and a half years old, but life is just beginning and the best is still to come. I’ll be sharing some behind the scenes action from the move over the next several days on Snapchat @ jennasuedesign, so feel free to follow along and say hello!

Here’s to new adventures,

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Guest Bedroom Reveal

This has been a long time coming, hasn’t it? As promised, the day has finally come to reveal the last unseen space in the house.

The poor neglected guest room had been empty/unused the majority of the 2.5 years since buying the house, as guests normally used the daybeds downstairs. Here’s how it looked before we bought it:
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Right after moving in the carpet was ripped out, and new floors put in (don’t believe the wide angle lens making the room look huge—it’s small):

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At some point down the road a mattress & bed frame, a couple old night stands and a dresser were placed in there and that’s about it. I never bothered painting or attempting to decorate as other projects took precedence.

Then the room was emptied as it came time to sell the house, and I couldn’t simply ignore it. So I borrowed a bed, dresser and mirror, purchased an inexpensive rug, night stands, a chair & chandelier, and grabbed curtains, linens and picture frames from storage. The space was pulled together in a matter of days—and by far the most inexpensive “makeover” in the house.

You don’t have to get fancy to create a calming, put together space…

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The full size bed takes up the majority of the room (that’s how small it is) and Susie sure loved having a new spot to sunbathe in while it lasted.

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Or hide under the covers…

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Fair warning, Susie tried to photobomb this entire shoot.

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A lot of you have been asking about where the bed came from. It was borrowed from a friend and it’s an antique purchased many years ago—sorry to say it may be one of a kind!

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Instead of purchasing a mattress, I borrowed my dad’s air mattress (there’s a helpful staging tip for ya) and dressed it up with old pillowcases and flea market blankets.

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$20 side tables from Ross flank the bed and they’re topped with Ikea lamps purchased years ago. Custom roman shades from Amazon were hung in the window, along with simple striped Ikea curtains.

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The dresser is also an antique borrowed from my parents, and an Ikea chair sits in the corner.

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The large empty wall was filled with frames and art I pulled from around the house.

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A pretty crystal chandelier adds a little sparkle.

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Oh, and this rug from Rugs USA might be my favorite thing ever. It’s like a giant wool knit blanket.

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And that wraps the tour!

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Source list:

Bed – antique/unknown

Dresser – antique/unknown

Metal mirror – antique/unknown

Bedding/pillows – flea markets

Side tables – Ross

Lamps – Ikea (discontinued)

Flowers/pots – Ikea

Chandelier

Rug

Woven blinds

Curtains

Wicker chair

Art on dresser 

Wall art – My shop & Minted

Wall art frames – Ikea & Minted

So there you have it—the quick and simple makeover you’ve been waiting months for 🙂 And the very last reveal you’ll ever see from this housee… sniff. But onwards we go.

The next vlog will show the final shots of the home as I finish packing up… and the big reveal of what is next for me. There will be a lot more opportunities in this new future, and I can’t wait to share the news! Enjoy your last week of June and don’t forget to check back in a couple days for the announcement,

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A Bachelorette Weekend in Sonoma: Vlog Episode 22

Last weekend, over a dozen girls from across the country came together to celebrate the upcoming marriage of a very special person—my beautiful cousin, Amber:

It was exactly one year ago this week that I stayed with her in Seattle to clear my mind before making the biggest decision of my life. I hadn’t seen her since and we certainly had a lot to catch up on, so I was thrilled to have the chance to reunite with her in nearby Sonoma wine country.

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Memories like these are why I started making vlogs. A once in a lifetime event that passes in the blink of an eye will now live on forever, shared with friends and family and future generations. Documenting life’s experiences—from milestones to small everyday details often overlooked—captured through my own eyes and perspective, has become my mission. The only way to make sure I’ll never forget what I saw, who I shared it with, how I felt in those moments.

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I could go deep on this, and I’m in the middle of projects that are the most important work in my life so far… but I’ll save those for a later date. For now, I hope you enjoy a few minutes of lighthearted & happy memory making with new friends 🙂

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On another note, packing has officially begun in this house! The movers are scheduled, storage unit is ready and I’m soaking up the last 8 days I have left here. On Monday I’m finally sharing photos of the finished guest bedroom for those of you who have been wondering. Then some more big news about the future is coming your way. Exciting times ahead. Enjoy the rest of your week!

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