Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Wrap-Up

Hello, everyone out there still reading (so, no one)!

It's been forever. You guys, I have had a CRAZY year. Don't get me wrong, it's been one of the best years of my life thus far, but it was also STRESSFUL and exhausting. But now that the holidays are (pretty much) over, and I'm pretty settled into my new job (yes, ANOTHER new job), I think things will finally level out. So I think I'd like to get back to blogging. I don't want to make any promises given my history, but I miss writing. So, here's what I'm (most likely) gonna do. I'm scrapping the DIY blog. Turns out, I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to home improvement, and though I'm going to continue to try and get better, blogging about it in detail just is not my foray. Plus, I just can't deal with the blog name (DIYikes? Christ, Jess. Just yikes.). I will add home improvement/domestic posts to this blog, because if we're being honest, that's what I've become. My life is about 98% different than what is was this year around this time. If I have a rant, I'll rant. If I re-do my kitchen, I'll post it here. What can I say; I'm a free-spirit, man! So. In the spirit of returning and the new year and all that jazz, here's a summary of my last year to catch you up(even though the first half of the year was pretty much chronicled on here already and feels like a decade ago)...

Career change numero uno

As previously documented, I decided to bite the bullet and become a professional baker. I went to work at my good friend Greg's brand new cafe, Drip (which I might add is still doing awesome, which I'm thrilled about) as the head (and really, only) baker, while keeping my long-standing serving job at RedFire Grill. It was exciting and scary and a great learning experience. I originally planned to work both jobs for a few months and then go full-time at Drip once it got off the ground. Working both jobs wore on me pretty quickly, mostly just because I was working almost completely opposite hours at each job, and was doing it every-other day. So in other words, one day I'd work from 8am-4pm, and then the next day I'd work from 4pm-11pm, and then have to be back to work at Drip the next day at 8 (or in some cases, earlier). And one day a week, I'd work both jobs, so I'd work from 8am-10pm or occasionally later. I wasn't really working more hours than I had been previously, but on that kind of schedule, it was impossible to regulate my sleep patterns, so I was just always exhausted. I ended up carrying both jobs from April through October. When it came time to go full-time at Drip, Greg and I realized that there wasn't really enough for me to do baking-wise, so I'd either have to start picking up front-of-house management duties, or we'd have to create some sort of other position for me. I had made it pretty clear from the beginning that I wasn't interested in anything having to do with front-of-house, and it didn't make sense to create a job that wasn't really needed for me, so Greg and I mutually decided that it was time for me to move on. We're still on great terms, and I made it clear that I'm available to help out anytime he needs me. Of course, I wish him and everyone else at Drip the best in everything.

Buying a house, and everything that comes with it

So of course, as you know, right smack in the midst of this first career change, we bought a house. In a LOT of ways, we got super lucky with the house that we bought and the way that we were able to buy it, but (mostly entirely due to our former apartment management) there were a lot of bumps in the road. Without restating all of the nonsense that we went through, basically what happened was that we started casually house-hunting on our own sans realtor, were notified that we had to move out of our apartment in less than two months, found a house that was for sale by owners, and moved into Jeff's mom's house. We never hired a realtor, because since the number one house on our list was being sold directly by the owners, they told us that if we worked without any realtors that they'd pass those savings directly to us. This was great, except for the fact that Jeff and I had NO IDEA what we were doing, and normally your realtor is the one who walks you through the whole home-buying process (especially if you're first-time buyers). Applying for the loan was, of course, a headache (as it always is, but even more so because I was a server with very little means of proving my income, and Jeff was in the middle repairing some credit issues), and we had some issues with the house (which was built in 1920) passing the FHA inspection, but in the end everything worked out and we ended up moving into our new home almost exactly one month after we moved into Jeff's mom's. The house was actually in great shape when we moved in (the previous owners had done a lot of updates and left us a TON of stuff including lighting fixtures, window treatments, various furniture, various tools, two lawnmowers, and lots of other stuff), but there was still a lot painting that needed to be done right off the bat, along with a TON of stuff to buy (since we were coming from a 700 square foot apartment, and we got rid of the majority of our furniture). We moved in and immediately started painting (we've painted every room in the downstairs, minus the kitchen, and the upstairs hallway so far) and decorating and arranging furniture. That was pretty much how we spent our summer. Once the house got to a very comfortably liveable and presentable state, we took a break on updating (plus, lots of other stuff was happening). We haven't really done anything since summer, but we're going to resume updates early in the new year. We want to tackle the office and guest room first thing (which still resemble little girls' rooms from the previous owners), and then we have a relatively big project in our kitchen, which I'll get into in a different post. But for now, I'm thrilled to say that we're comfortably settled and this house officially feels like home.

Career change numero dos

So, we're now in October, which is when I decided officially to leave Drip. I had made a deal with myself before starting Drip that if, for whatever reason, it didn't work out, that I would quit both Drip and RedFire and start from scratch. And start from scratch I did. As soon as I determined that a future at Drip wasn't in the cards for me, I applied to be a Sales Associate at Capital One 360. Jeff has been working for the company for about four years (he's now working for Sharebuilder, their brokerage department), and LOVES it, and I had experience in sales, customer service, AND banking. So I bit the bullet and applied, and I got the job. I love it so far, and there's a lot of potential for advancement and a lot of benefits associated with the company and position. I'm the first one to recognize that I can't predict the future, but I plan on staying with the company in some form for the duration of my career at this point. I don't really want to go into major details about my career in the blog world, but it's definitely a major change, and it's most certainly for the better. I finally have normal hours and paid vacation and a 401K for the first time in years, and it feels great.

Holiday craziness

If you know me, you know that the holidays are my FAVORITE time of the year, and that's a major understatement. In fact, I'm currently so bummed about the holidays being over that I almost want to cry. That said, this was our first holiday in our house, and the holiday season fell right in the middle of my second job switch of the year, so I'm pretty drained. We decided to host Thanksgiving this year, and I've never hosted ANY holiday ever in my life. Luckily, everything turned out well, and there were only 5 of us, so it was pretty easy-peasy. We ended up having one of the nicest Thanksgivings that I can remember ever having. And then for Christmas, I got to decorate the house for the first time, which was super exciting, and as usual, we traveled to middle-of-nowhere PA to spend Christmas with my mom. I traditionally take off work from Christmas Day-New Years Eve, and we came home a little bit early this year, so we have a few days to relax and prepare for New Years Eve. Our good friends the Drakes have hosted a New Years Eve party every year since 2009, and this year they had a baby and are in the middle of buying a new house, so we volunteered to host the party. I think it should be pretty low-key, but with our crazy group of friends, who knows. We're definitely looking forward to the party, and then after that we can finally RELAX. Now that we both have (relatively) normal schedules, house projects should be a lot easier and less stressful.

So, that was my year. And that was really just ME; Jeff had tons of stuff going on this year, too. He was promoted to company trainer late last December, and has been adjusting to his new position, and he took his Series 24 licensing exam this fall. Early in 2014, he plans on taking another licensing exam, and he always has tons of stuff going on with his career. He's one of the most dedicated workers I've ever met, and I'm ridiculously proud of him. This year was one of the most exciting, rewarding years of my life, and I can't stop marveling at how fortunate and just generally HAPPY I am. I can't lie, I'm not very good with dealing with stress, so I felt like I was going crazy a lot of the time...but in the end, I'm happier than I've been probably ever in my life. There's so much to be excited about in the future, and I cant wait to kick 2014 off. Happy New Year!

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