Well, it’s that time again, where bloggers across the world highlight their top moments of the year.
Given this was our first year of home ownership, 2018 was both rewarding and challenging.
There was a lot of crying in Home Depot parking lots. An amazing road trip. A ton of new projects created (and some left on the back burner). A huge learning curve thrown at me. A new country visited. And an influx of new friendships made along the way.
Ultimately, I fulfilled most of the goals on my 2018 list and am excited to share my favorite moments!
In an effort to reserve more money for house repairs this year, we traveled somewhere quarterly (as opposed to monthly like last year!). While definitely a good financial decision, it didn’t quite quench my restlessness. Hopefully we can travel more next year. As for the places we did get to visit this year though, we had a blast!
Here are some of my top travel related moments of 2018.
(Image description: A photo of the Grand Canyon)
Enjoying the warm weather of New Orleans
Our first small trip of the year was a visit to one of our favorite cities: New Orleans.
It was a much needed break from the cold Missouri weather, the post holiday drag, and from the seemingly endless house projects that needed fixing.
During our stay, it was warm and rainy. Since we’d already visited NOLA before and done most of the touristy stuff, we spent a good chunk of this visit sleeping in, taking naps, and eating until it hurt.
Important criteria to meet on vacation!
(Image description: A photo of two a fake skeleton in a New Orleans store)
Driving all the way to California and completing the Great American Road Trip
The absolute highlight of my year was driving all of the way to California.
With activities in each state meticulously planned and various hikes mapped out, we covered a lot of ground in our two weeks gone.
Just a few highlights of the trip:
- Jumping into the Santa Rosa Blue Hole and nearly going into shock from the cold
- Drinking arguably the best margarita in existence while in Tucson
- Hiking the Grand Canyon while evading confrontational squirrels
- Trying (and failing) to find a famous person in Los Angeles
- Getting David to conquer his fear of visiting the beach
- Seeing the absolute most gorgeous rainbow in Moab
- Finally facing one of my fears by coming across a rattlesnake in Denver
- Summiting our first 14’er (!!!)(more on that later)
(Image description: A photo of David and I at White Sands National Monument)
(Image description: A photo of the back of the Hollywood Sign)
During our trip we visited 8 National Parks and numerous other state parks, including:
- White Sands National Monument
- Saguaro National Park
- The Grand Canyon National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Sequoia National Park
- Arches National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Rocky Mountain National Park
State Parks/National Forests/Etc.:
- Cibola National Forest/Sandia Mountains
- Griffith Park (hike to Hollywood Sign)
- Leo Carrillo State Park/Beach
- Roxborough State Park
If you ever have the chance to drive across the U.S., we highly recommend making a vacation out of it and stopping in all of the National Parks along the way. We are so lucky to have such a vast and beautiful country.
I can’t wait to explore it more!
(Image description: A photo of saguaro cacti in Saguaro National Park)
Hiking our first 14’er
At first, I thought hiking to the Hollywood Sign was the most challenging hike I’d faced. Even though we started early, we really had no choice but to go on one of the hottest days on record for L.A. (it was either “go or don’t go” due to time constrains). The trail is basically all road walking and super exposed, and I thought I’d melt on the 6 mile hike.
Then we did our first 14’er.
While only 1 mile extra, the altitude (and 3 a.m. start time) on Bierstadt felt much harder on our bodies. Even after nearly 2 weeks of elevation gain and experience, we still found this hike to be tough. But that only made the experience more rewarding!
Some say this is the easiest 14’er in Colorado. That might be true for Colorado residents, but we sea(ish)-level folk thought it was pretty challenging!
But we made it and I am glad we did.
(Image description: A photo of David and I at Mt. Bierstadt’s peak)
(Image description: A photo from Mt. Bierstadt’s peak)
Exploring Toronto for my 26th birthday
Each year for my birthday I try to explore a different city, and this year was no different!
Originally I’d wanted to go to Mexico City. But due to budget and time constraints, we instead chose to drive to Toronto. I was definitely glad to still get to visit a different country, and we enjoyed delicious vegetarian poutine, walked endless miles around the city, and even took a quick trip to Niagara Falls.
Our consensus was that it’s definitely a fun city to explore and is perfect for a short trip. This also made for David’s second country visited!
(Image description: A photo of the CN Tower in Toronto)
(Image description: A photo of a street in Toronto)
Going to NYC for New Years Eve (flight leaves Friday!)
A goal of mine has always been to see the NYE ball in New York City. It sounds super touristy – and it is. But I love big traditions and parties and this seemed like a fun time to attend.
So when I discovered flights for $250 round trip a few months ago… And an Airbnb for $50 a night… I booked the tickets.
(Image description: A photo of NYC circa my Coolpix camera in 2010)
We bought a fixer upper on New Year’s Eve of 2017, and this first year of home ownership has been kicking our butt. It’s been stressful, it’s been tiring, but most of all it’s been incredibly rewarding. I have learned so much and cannot wait to see what else I can tackle next year.
Enjoying/stressing out over the first year of home ownership
Owning a home is terrifying! But also super great.
After spending the first few months of the year ripping out floor, drywalling the bathroom, and kilzing the nicotine stained walls, we were finally able to move into our home in March.
The work didn’t stop there though (obviously), and we are still in the throes of making the house truly ours. We’ve got quite a few things to fix still, but we are happily moved in and enjoying not having to heed any landlord.
(Image description: A photo of the glorious herringbone-patterned floor I laid over our asbestos tile in the sunroom)
Completing my Not-So-Scary Sunroom in just 6 short weeks
One of the room’s that needed working on in my house was our truly depressing and non-functioning sunroom. Because the entrance to the backyard is through this room, it wasn’t a project I felt I could just shut the door on for a while.
To kick my butt into gear, I joined in on Calling It Home’s One Room Challenge. The goal was to complete the room in just 6 short weeks. And after countless hours of painting and laying floor… I finished it!
For just under $200 I managed to transform this room. And I am still so pleased with how it turned out.
(Image description: A photo of my Not-So-Scary Sunroom)
Getting featured on Apartment Therapy about it
Apartment Therapy featured my sunroom’s transformation on their website’s “Before & After” section. It was truly an honor to have my home showcased and I still have a big head about it ;).
(Image description: A photo of my Not-So-Scary Sunroom featured on Apartment Therapy!)
Learning more about building, my own home’s structure, and about power tools
It might not sound like an exceptional feat to learn how to use a power tool. But if you knew me when I first started living on my own, you know I was utterly helpless. In fact Facebook memories just reminded me that I couldn’t install my first apartment’s shower rod, so I asked on Facebook if anyone could come help me.
(Image description: A photo of me using floor patch)
No one really ever taught me much about “home improvement” growing up. Much of my (and countless other millennials) obsession came from HGTV. And the closest I ever got to woodworking was in a shop class while in school.
(Once while using a wood burner on a project, I set off the fire alarm and caused the entire school to be evacuated. The local fire department confiscated my shop teacher’s wood burners and his blow torch, and I am pretty sure he hated me every day of class after that.)
(Image description: A photo of some display ledges I made and installed)
As such, while the prospect of building and home-improvement interested me, I never really felt capable of doing any of it. It all felt well past my level of intellect.
It wasn’t until I started focusing more on what goals I wanted to accomplish that I changed my way of thinking. I’d always been interested in it – why couldn’t I learn?
Now with the first year of ownership of my home, not only do I know how to do basic projects (installing a hand rail, joint compound-ing a hole in the wall, installing a large shelf), I have also pushed myself to take on bigger projects. This year alone, I put up drywall in my bathroom, laid down a floor, epoxy-ied a table, and built an entire fire pit!
I have also learned that there are differences in electric sanders, paints, flooring, and dry wall. And I actually own and use a miter saw, despite years of being terrified of such a prospect.
Nothing like buying a true fixer-upper to basically force yourself to learn! Excited to see what I can accomplish next year.
(Image description: A photo of my cat in his cat tree that I upgraded!)
Finding this bar cart on Craigslist
This is trivial BUT I AM SO EXCITED.
For month’s I have been patrolling second-hand sites for a retro-styled, affordable bar cart. There were plenty being sold, but none that were both exactly what I was looking for and listed at a reasonable price.
I’d begun to give up hope, but decided to search Craigslist randomly last Saturday afternoon. This little number had been listed for just 12 minutes and I knew it was the one. Within 30 minutes of this person listing their cart, I had swung by and purchased it from them. For just $40!
Just look at it!
(Image description: A photo of the bar cart I scored on Craigslist!)
Self Care/Misc. Related:
I spent a lot of time this year focusing on my mental health. Every year is a challenge with anxiety, but this year felt especially tough.
Because I am still able to function with my anxiety (most of the time), it’s very easy for me to shrug my shoulders and think “welp, this is my life!” But it also really sucks. And it’s hard. And so this year, I decided to start going back to therapy and figure out a less sucky way of living.
Another goal I set this year was to spend more time with friends and family. After traveling so much last year, I felt like I let relationships go a little to the wayside. This year I worked on finding a new balance.
Additionally, I joined some different groups this year to get more involved in my community.
Making friends as an adult is tough y’all. But, with the power of the internet, I was able to join in on a group about true crime. We meet up every so often to drink wine and talk about what’s going on in the world. I also joined in on a hiking group called STL Female Trekkers. It’s organized by an awesome woman named Melissa, and I have really enjoyed getting to know her and the other hikers so far!
(Image description: A photo of the Sandia Mountains)
(Image description: A photo of a rattlesnake I saw in Denver)
(Image description: A photo of a rainbow in Moab)
And that’s that for 2018! I’m ready for 2019. Are you?