Monday, May 26, 2014

Real Estate Monday: Central North Shore

Hope you all had a wonderful, relaxing Memorial weekend. I took about a three hour nap that felt great!
I thought I'd throw in a place I've actually seen in person. This weekend I took a client around the North Shore area. He's a young professional and wants to live where he can walk to work, or at least be a short bus ride away. I don't blame him. We looked at a place called Foster Square, right down from the Children's Museum and the legendary Gus & Yia Yia's snow cone stand. It's a co-op and it appears to be beautifully taken care of- the grounds are very well-maintained.
I wish I would have taken my own pictures because I actually felt like this apartment was much cuter in person. I told the listing realtor that the owner did a fabulous job at de-cluttering and staging as well, especially since they have small children. Not an easy task to do even without kids.
Here's 50 Foster Square, a 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bathroom co-op, listed at $176,900.

You walk immediately into the kitchen. It's small, but completely up-to-date and very adequate. There's a half bath opposite of the kitchen, and an open floor plan that flows into the dining room, then living room. 

 Every bedroom has huge closets that line the wall. I was very impressed by the amount of storage this condo has. The master occupies the entire third floor. It has a Juliet balcony and an en-suite bathroom. On the second floor there are two bedrooms and a bathroom, with the laundry room tucked in one of the closets.
 The second bedroom has a balcony off of it as well, and it's a fairly large room.
Living close to downtown is definitely lifestyle decision that I find appealing. We park near here for Pirate'd be awesome just to walk right outside your back door. What do you think? 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Our New Couch & A Can Of Worms

I've finally got this living room under control- enough to show you pictures at least. See, when we first got our new sofa, I wasn't too excited (at all) about the color. In my defense the color sample was more of a taupe rather than a dark charcoal. It wouldn't be that big of a deal had it not been a splurge on a custom item- normally we're all for purchasing our items [gently] used. It's more fun that way. But my husband and I were desperately wanting a super-comfortable sofa that we could both sprawl out on. I'm not going back over the entire story... you can read it here if you'd really like to know about our decision-making-process. 
Once the new couch arrived (it took a whole six weeks), we had one day to enjoy it before we left on vacation. When I got back, I just felt like it looked so blah. Not the look I was going for at all. This is the whole can of worms part. New sofa leads to new paint color leads to new rug leads to new coffee table. It's never-ending really. Here's a before pic (excuse the quality of the picture). 
The first thing I realized was the couch and the wall color didn't do each other any favors. So we decided to repaint. I was tempted to do this anyways, so not a super, huge deal. We thought something in the lilac family would look nice to compliment the gray. This is what we started with. 

After painting one wall, I quickly had a mini panic attack that it was too purple for any living room and mixed it with some leftover dark gray paint I had. I'm really happy with the end result. It even makes the room feel so much bigger now that it's all one color. I even painted the chair-rail the same color so everything looks seamless and smooth. Here's the semi-final result from the paint, plus some new pillows. I'm much happier with the couch color's amazing what a little paint can do. And it's sooooo comfortable. Finally. 

 *Our little "Luna" chair we picked up from the Regent Square yard sale in the corner.
Now onto the rug and coffee table. I might opt to use the legs from my old table to make an upholstered ottoman. Preferably round like the basket in the pics above. I'm going to be sad to see those pretty wood floors get covered, too, but it's just too bare without one in the room, especially since Taliila plays in here the most. Any fabulous, secret rug stores in Pittsburgh? I think I've exhausted them all. I'll let you know when I find one. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Our Transatlantic Cruise In Review

We just got home two days ago from an elaborate vacation-the good kind where you're ready to come home. My husband and I booked an eleven day cruise across the Atlantic to Barcelona, Spain. I'd been on four and five day cruises around the Bahamas before, but had no idea what to expect with this one. Two variables made me especially uneasy- my pregnancy and bringing our three year old along for the ride. So here's a little breakdown of the trip:
Day 1-3: Conditions at sea- absolutely beautiful weather. Smooth sailing waters. We spent these days around the pool. The Norwegian Epic had three large pools (one of which was adult only, with a huge movie screen over it), and an adorable kids play area. This was the nicest pool experience we've had on a cruise yet. I liked how one of the pools had a shallow area with stairs where Taliila and I could play without being fully submerged (I'm a baby and don't like cold water). Most cruises only have a single pool with no shallow end. There were also three water slides, a climbing wall, and a trampoline we didn't take advantage of.

Day 4: Conditions at sea- still fairly calm, weather was starting to cool down. Wind was picking up. The pool was no longer appealing- brrr. We spent this day hanging out around the deck outside on the sports court, and inside the casino. Taliila was in love with the kids program where she was allowed to be dropped off from 9-12, 2-5, and 7-10:30 free of charge. This was awesome. Tony and I got plenty of time on our own to enjoy all the cruise had to offer.
Our Room 

View from our Balcony
Day 5-8: Conditions at sea- rocky and I had no idea it'd be so cold. I mean, I should have known. We were in the middle of no where. Kind of scary. The crew said it was the calmest they'd seen. I'd hate to see it at its worst. We spent our days inside. The pools initially looked like wave pools and then were drained. We watched live shows on the ship, like Blue Man group, and Duo Yalba. Taliila got to meet Nickelodeon characters.  I liked that I didn't feel the need to do EVERYTHING because we had so many days to fit everything in. On other cruises I felt the need to go, go, go all the time. Not the case with this one. We felt very relaxed as a result.
Taliila got to meet Dora, Diego, and Sponge Bob.

View looking over our balcony. We were actually on the 14th floor, hard to tell here.
Day 9: I was super-ready for land! We arrived in Funchal early and got off the ship around 10am. This was a fascinating island owned by Portugal, but closer to Morocco. Very European, with a great mix of metropolitan stores and local shops. It was quite mountainous and there were cable cars in the air that you could take up to the top. I was also excited to finally be able to wear shorts again. The pools were refilled, and the sun worshipers were out in full force when we got back on the ship.
Cobblestone streets 

Day 10-11: Conditions at sea- much warmer and smoother, but still not warm enough for my liking. Taliila deemed it ok to swim in the kids area, but I sat in the sun to watch.
Day 12: We arrived in Barcelona early. Woke up around 8am, ate breakfast and got off the ship.
Unfortunately we weren't staying in Barcelona so we opted to head straight to the airport instead of lugging our bags around while trying to see some sites. We flew Ryan air to London for 100 euros total for the three of us! And visited friends in Bury St. Edmonds for a long weekend before flying to Toronto and driving home.
It was cold in England, too! 

Overall, we really enjoyed our cruise. I've always found cruising with kids to be the least stressful way to vacation. I wish I had known what to expect, weather-wise, so I wouldn't have been so disappointed about not getting to swim/ sunbathe as much as I wanted to. There's always something planned on the schedule to fill your time, and the food on Norwegian is much better than what we experienced on Carnival. The best part, I think was the kids academy for Taliila. She loved it and is still talking about it. The staff was exceptional with the kids and she came back to our room every night with her face painted- her favorite! If you're contemplating a transatlantic cruise, I hope this helped. It was truly the least expensive way for us to get over to Europe and enjoy ourselves in the meantime (our total cruise including all the money we spent at the arcade on the ship, and tip money was under $2000 for a balcony room for the three of us for 11 days... the flight alone would have cost more, let alone all that food and entertainment).
I know we won't be able to take a vacation like this for a while with our newest addition arriving in October, so I'm grateful we got to experience this now.


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