10 things we are looking for in our first home

If you know Seth and I, you know that we have started looking for our first home (sort of). We have been keeping an eye on the housing market, getting an idea of what we are looking for, and doing lots and lots of research. I've talked to custom home builders, production home builders, and have done lots of independent research on financing, size, location, cost, and pretty much everything there is to do with buying a home.

Here are some specific things we're looking for, and some things that are bugaboos for me (some are sort of quirky, and I'm aware of that).

1) Not too big, but not too small.

At one point, I was all gung-ho for a 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom, 5,000-square-foot house for our first - and only - home. But then I realized how 1) financially irresponsible and 2) wasteful that was (for us). We just don't need that much space! What we need to do is focus on paying off our student loans and take our time working up to our 'dream home'. Lower utility bills, a more sustainable and reasonable home…that's what we're looking for when it comes to our first home.

2) Three bedrooms, two bathrooms

Seth and I currently live in a 600-square-foot, one bedroom, one bathroom apartment. And let me tell you - especially post-wedding - it ain't enough space. There is a strong possibility I'm going to need a home office, and that we will have kids in the not-so-distant future. We're looking for three bedrooms for that reason, because it will allow us enough space for those things without a bunch of extra space that we don't need right now. We'd also like two bathrooms (preferably two and a half!) so our guests/kids have somewhere to themselves and because - GASP! - we plan to cloth diaper. Ain't nobody got time fo' diaper sprayers on the master toilet.

3) Lots and lots of kitchen storage

My husband loves to cook. He cooks almost every night. Thus, he has tons of crazy kitchen gadgets, tons of spices, marinades, tools, etc. We also got all the place settings of dinnerware, dining goods, and table decor we registered for when we got married (almost two years ago!) so we are going to need a pretty decently-sized kitchen to store all that good stuff.

4) A kitchen island

I realize this is probably weird. I guess maybe it's because I grew up in a low-income family and have never actually lived in a "house", but I think kitchen islands are ridiculously convenient. To be able to turn around and put down bowls, dishes, whatever else and turn back around to the sink or stove to cook - I know this is crazy, but houses without kitchen islands are sort of a deal-breaker for me.

5) Open floor plan

Being able to chat with Seth while he's cooking would be so convenient. I currently stand in the kitchen doorway chatting with him half the time while he's cooking, but it would be nice to hang out in the living room, blogging, studying, and in the future taking care of our kids while still being able to communicate with him while he's in there. Obviously, it would also be nicer for entertaining so people could all mingle and no one was trapped in kitchen jail. ;)

6) Carpets upstairs

Seth loves him some carpet. He even wants carpet in the great room, but I like wood floors throughout the downstairs. What I don't love, though, is wood floors upstairs. SO. LOUD. I also don't like stepping onto a cold floor when I wake up. That sucks.

7) Separate laundry room

I have seen houses with washers and dryers in random other rooms, like the kitchen. That's not okay. Ours is currently in a closet-of-sorts. That's also not okay. We hang our laundry up in the bathroom and literally all over the apartment. NOT OKAY. I need space!

8) Master up

This is the house where we will probably have multiple babies and/or small children. It is just unfathomable to me to have a master downstairs, but kids upstairs, so we would have to be constantly running up and down the stairs to deal with their shenanigans. I know downstairs masters mean higher resale values, and running up and down the stairs all hours of the day and night would mean a sick workout….but that just sounds like a logistical nightmare to me.

9) More master bathroom storage/counter space

We currently have the typical 'apartment' bathroom - a tub/shower combo, sink with one cabinet underneath, you know the drill. It's just not enough space. We have a chest of drawers sitting outside our bathroom with all our toiletries, towels, etc. because our apartment doesn't have a linen closet. We need more storage for our normal, everyday, and arguably less-than-average amount of "stuff".

10) Not too much that needs done to it right away

I would rather buy a smaller home that is nicely updated and cared for than a huge house that needs a lot of work and/or styling. When I see homes listed with orange, red, or blue walls (or any other color that would be a nightmare to paint over) it is an immediate turnoff for me. I saw a house with red carpet today - NOPE. I just don't want to have to go in to our first home and do a metric ton of work, especially since most of our funds will be going toward buying the home in the first place!

We will probably still get our 'dream home' in a few years. We'd like to stay in this home until our first kiddo is getting ready to go to school, then build our dream home from the ground up, to our specifications (we have lots of dreams for exactly what we'd love to see in our dream home)! But that is another story to be told another time. :)
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Book recommendations

I've been thinking about writing this post for a while, but wanted to make sure I had the time to dedicate to sit down and write it. These are some books I've read recently and LOVED, so I wanted to give some quick reviews of them for you guys in case you were looking for some great summer reading!

I'll preface this by saying that I love long books. I read super fast, so I love for a book to be 300 pages or longer. Any shorter, and there is a strong possibility I'll read it in two days or less, especially if it's really good. I get most of the books that I read from the Pulitzer Prize Winners' List, and the New York Times Best Sellers' List. So far that has worked really well for me, except when I read the longest-running New York Times best seller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. I was not a fan of that book. But then, I don't love excessive scene-setting nor character-building, which is what the first 120 pages of the book is.

Here are some of my recent favorites (there are no spoilers here, nothing that you won't find by reading the blurbs on the backs of these books):

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand

If I had to choose a favorite book, it would be this one. This is the true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic track-and-field competitor that was drafted into the military during World War II to become a bombardier. On one ill-fated run, Zamperini's plane crashes into the ocean and he and two other servicemen survive for over a month on a life raft. He is captured by the Japanese and taken as a prisoner-of-war, and the rest of the book chronicles his heartbreaking experiences as a POW and abuses as the hands of the Japanese military, as well as his life after the war. The book is just incredible, and really makes you appreciate your life and what you have. It's over 300 pages, but I read it in just two days, because I couldn't put it down. It is the first book I recommend to anyone when they ask for a recommendation.

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt

Seriously, this book is awesome. Like I said, I love a super-long book. And at 771 pages, this book definitely fits that bill. The story is about a little boy that is caught in a terrorist attack on a museum, and how that experience leads him down the path into the world of black market art trafficking. It is super detailed, but so good and such an interesting read. I read it in a week, but I've been debating picking it back up recently because I just loved it that much.

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls

This book is the memoir of Jeannette Walls, a columnist for numerous notable publications such as The New York Times and MSNBC. It essentially chronicles her entire life through early adulthood, which was spent with her nomadic, primarily homeless family. Her parents are extremely eccentric, and her memoir is a really interesting account of how she overcame the struggles of being from such an unstable home and coped with the behavior of both of her parents to become a successful writer. It only took me a couple of days to read, just because I couldn't put it down!

Half Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls

Walls wrote this book after the success of The Glass Castle. If you read The Glass Castle and enjoy it, I suggest you read this one as well. It is an account of the life of her grandmother, who was a sort of renaissance woman. Between accounts of her helping her father break horses at a young age, to riding horses to and from a local school and her struggles as a teacher, to her experiences running a ranch, the book is really down-to-earth and a quick, interesting read. Walls has recently come out with a new book, The Silver Star, which is on my to-read list, because I just loved her first two books so much.

Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, and Dark Places, all by Gillian Flynn

So, obviously everyone has heard of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Obviously. They made a movie out of it. But did you know that she wrote two other books? Her two other books are just as good as Gone Girl. I'd recommend reading Gone Girl first, however, since it is by far the most popular, and to make sure you like her writing style. Her other two books are shorter than Gone Girl, and considerably darker, but REALLY excellent.

Gone Girl is the story of the disappearance and presumed murder of a woman by her narcissistic, egotistical husband. I won't go into any more detail at the risk of accidentally giving anything away, but it is a great book and a super-fast read - it's over 300 pages long and it took me just a couple of days.

Sharp Objects chronicles the life of a woman who has dealt with her troubled upbringing and conflicted adulthood by cutting herself. As an adult, she is required to return to the hometown she hoped never to see again to cover the murders of two girls. She uncovers a lot of lies and secrets, not only about the town, but about her own family.

Dark Places is the story of a woman whose family was murdered when she was a child, her testimony on the stand against her fifteen-year-old brother, and her unwitting re-entanglement in the crime as an adult. These are all obviously thrillers, but they're really gripping and quick reads. I hope she writes more, because all three of these are pretty fantastic.

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