House Hunting in NY

Well, we spent a whirlwind couple days touring what seemed to be every house on the market in the area we’re moving to in every little town and community. 

There were some homes that were immediate NOs based on the street or area they were located, how far they were to campus where William will be working, the layout of the rooms, or the work needing to be done to update the home and make it livable. Our price range seemed to be generous, given the variety and number of homes we were able to explore. After all was said and done, we were left with five homes that we went back to our hotel and seriously discussed.

Option one was built in 1997. It had a great sitting room, cute front porch, big back yard and a nice finished basement. However, the rooms were really small and our master furniture wouldn’t have fit, the bathrooms need updating and the kitchen is not usable for our needs. There was a lack of counter space, lack of storage and a weird arrangement of appliances. It would need quite a bit of work pretty immediately; so on a second walk through, my hesitations became more visible than William’s vision for the home.

Option two was a tri or quad split level with a confusing layout. The house was adorable, with a great yard and the master was awesome – two HUGE walk-in closets, plenty of room for our furniture and a sweet little reading nook. However, the layout was weird and the living room was really narrow, so trying to envision us living in that space was a challenge.

Option three was an adorable, well maintained cape cod with a steep driveway and tiered backyard. This home was very lovingly maintained, but the driveway and backyard really were the deal breakers for us, as much as enjoyed the home. The backyard would be really difficult and expensive to fence due to the tiers and the driveway could get really icy in the winter with its steep grade. It was also listed closer to the top of what we wanted to spend.

Option four was a Victorian and an original home to the Olean area. It was not even a block from the high school and built in 1885. It was way too much house for us though and also needed a lot of work. The rooms were huge though!

Option five was a suggestion of our realtor, a Dutch colonial revival built in 1925 during the oil boom that occurred in the area. The home was built for an oil executive and his family, and you can clearly see that no expense was spared in the building because of how solid the bones of the house are and the beautiful materials they used. The sellers have lived in the house for just under 30 years, and have lovingly restored the home and renovated the kitchen. The backyard is a nice size, but needs a fence. There is. Two car garage and a carport. My favorite part is that the home is directly across the street from a park! 

After considering our options and weighing the pros and cons of each one, we decided to make an offer on option five! The house is truly beautiful and standing both in the foyer and upstairs, I could picture our family living in the house for the next several decades. I envisioned taking prom pictures on the stairs and rocking babies in the nursery, I envisioned chasing Mavis and future fur children around the backyard and taking kids across the street to play. It’s a house I can see becoming the home we live a lot of life in and raise a family in. I knew the moment we stepped inside that this was the house I hoped we’d get. So, after a bit of negotiating, we’ve had a verbal offer accepted and are working on the paperwork today.

Provided the sale goes through on our home in Idaho, we have found a home in New York. A home we see ourselves in for life.

The house hunting process was a whirlwind of long days, lots of discussion between ourselves and with our realtors, and about 40 houses in two and a half days!

Please pray that this all goes through!

Niagra filled Tuesday 

Good Morning! Yesterday was a fun day exploring western New York and visiting Canada for an hour or two. 

We woke up and got out early, heading the opposite direction of most Monday morning traffic and avoiding the toll roads – something we’ll have to get used to being back east! We stopped by Paula’s Donuts for breakfast since their Trip Advisor ranking was so high. While quite tasty (I had a cinnamon crumb and a lemon filled), I’m going to miss the airier potato donuts of Idaho, and William will always be a southern donuts man. Cake donuts can just feel so heavy.

We were at the Niagra Falls visitor center by about 8:30 and there were few other people there. We didn’t think about how it would be pretty empty this time of year, with most people visiting in the summer. It was wonderful to enjoy the views pretty much to ourselves all morning. We walked along the American side near the visitors’ center, but did not cross to the island; we figured that can be a summer visit adventure. Then we headed across the bridge to view the falls from the Canadian side, and I agree with the consensus of others that the view from Canada is the prettier view. It was great to get some walking and fresh air while taking in the majestic power of water. I always try to imagine what it would have been like to stumble upon the power of nature unwittingly in the centuries before and this place would have been awe inspiring for sure!

The American side.

The Canadian side.


After the Falls, we headed up to Fort Niagra, which was my favorite part of the day. Fort Niagra served as an active military installation through World War I, being used for various training exercises after the Civil War before soldiers were sent to conflicts overseas. In the 1920s and 1930s, the fort was at risk of falling into the water, and local organizations lovingly restored the fort to what you see today, allowing you to step back in time to experience events of historical significance first hand. The fort was first built by The French as an outpost to give them control of the trade route that bypassed the great falls. The fort played an active role in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812. It was rfortified during the Civil War, when both sides though the British would be coming to the aid of the confederacy, since the Great Lakes would have been the perfect second front, to control access to waterways and trade. The fort has not only gorgeous views, but allows you to visit each floor of the restored buildings, has a museum with the history of the fort, and interpreters who offer demonstrations and answer questions. Basically, days spent at places like Fort Niagra are my favorite and what sparked an early love of history as a kid and having the opportunity to visit places like historic Jamestown, Williamsburg, Mount Vernon and Monticello. There is something so important about preserving the past, to allow us to interact with its significance and encourage learning. The demonstration yesterday was an American Revolution era British soldier educating you about the musket, the bayonet and the canon. He was really fun and you could tell loved coming to teach visitors about history. I definitely look forward to returning to the fort at different times of year when more of the park is open, more interpreters are out educating and it’s the high season. The views of Lake Ontario from the fort really did feel like we were looking out on the ocean!

The French castle in the background.

One of the British built fortifications to defend the main building.

On our way back to Buffalo, we decided we wanted to try the Buffalo classic beef on weck. So, Google took us to Schwabls, a cute little German restaurant in West Seneca that’s been around since 1835! With it being restaurant week, it made ordering pretty brainless, but I definitely want to go back in the future! We split the basket of Bavarian pretzel sticks with their house made honey mustard sauce, which was incredible! Then we each had our beef on weck, and the rest of the country needs to get on board. That sandwich was delicious! The roll was the perfect compliment to the beef, the beef was perfectly cooked at medium rare and it just tasted incredible. I’ve always been a French Dip fan, but this definitely was better! They also had a local birch beer available which made me so happy! To be back in a part of the world where birch beer is a thing has my taste buds rejoicing. My favorite kind of coke is birch beer, but outside of the mid-Atlantic area, it’s hard to find. William ordered me a case of birch beer around my birthday because he knos it’s my favorite treat, so to be able to order it at a restaurant was so fun to me!

After our late lunch, we were pretty beat from lots of walking earlier in the day and the time change from Mountain to Eastern, so we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel. We did some reading and watched a movie and eventually ordered a Buffalo style pie for delivery. Buffalo pizza is a hybrid somewhere between New York style pie and Chicago deep dish, and I really enjoyed my couple slices.

Overall, day two was a lot of fun! I enjoyed all the walking we did to see new things and really enjoyed learning the history of the area. I look forward to visiting both places again in the future, and learning more about the history of western New York in the story of North America and the United States.

A Sunday in Buffalo

Good Morning and Happy Monday!

We spent all day Saturday traveling by plane from Idaho to New York, but we made it and set out straight to exploring our new geographic area of the world Sunday morning!

After we got ready for the day, we headed to grab breakfast at Sophia’s, a little Greek diner type restaurant. The restaurant has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and they won the Buffalo Bloody Mary festival a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately we were too early to order a Bloody Mary, but that just means we’ll have to go back again in the future! I ordered their special French toast for the day with homemade whipped cream and fresh strawberries, and William ordered their souvlaki breakfast platter that came with potatoes, eggs, a lot of gyro style souvlaki, homemade toast and homemade taziki. Both meals were delicious and the portions were huge! We left very full and very satisfied.

After breakfast, we headed down to walk along the canal side. It was fun to see the USS Little Rock from the ground and read about the history of the canal connecting inland to New York City for improved transcontinental commerce. I’m excited to go back in warmer weather when we can board the Little Rock and spend more time exploring the surrounding area.

We wanted to tour the cathedral while here, and times it perfectly to attend the 10:30 mass. Low and behold, it was a spectacular mass. Our Bishop served as our pastor, and I can already tell he is a precious human being and I’m excited for us to live under his leadership and stewardship of the diocese! Yesterday’s gospel reading was about Jesus being the living water, and the Bishop’s homily was incredible! He shared a story from his seminary days in south Mississippi on an excruciatingly hot and humid day. He and his friend were very thirsty, but had forgotten to bring a beverage and they were very far from the seminary. The only refreshment they found was at a small store with a sign that said “whites only” on the door, and in the conscious of being men of the holy cloth, they could not enter the establishment. The bishop said this was a clear example of when the living water sustained him in place of physical water. He then shared about how we live in the water through our actions of caring for the poor, the refugee, the orphan and the widow. I’m not capturing it all, but I have to say it was the best homily I’ve heard in years! At mass, there was also a confirmation of a woman who leaves on Good Friday for a peace corps mission in the Republic of Georgia, the full regalia of the Knights of St John, and the parade grand marshalls for the Buffalo Irish parade occurring that afternoon. The processional and recessional were so fun! I also loved being back in a church where the choir is in a loft to the back and an organ plays; it was so traditional and lovely! 

After mass we had plans to head to the Teddy Roosevelt Innagural Site, but parking was already crazy for the parade a few hours later, so we found some parking and hung out at a local sports pub until the parade began. The parade was fun with different Irish groups, Irish steppers, lots of bagpipes and a fun group of corgis and Irish setters! 

After we watched a bit of the parade, we walked to the original location of Anchor Bar, the place where what we know as “Buffalo Wings” was born. We enjoyed some tasty wings and warmed up a bit after being outside in the cold.

That night we went to see Beauty and the Beast and it was so beautifully done! I was proud I only went through two tissues, because I had tears falling and chills so often throughout the film! I was a little disappointed none of the Broadway added songs made the film, especially Human Again! However, everything that was in the film I found to be perfect and loved how they filled in plot holes and added back elements of the original fairytale that the 1991 version was missing. I loved there nuance of LeFou and his funny one liners, I loved the character of Agatha, I loved the sets and the costumes and though the casting was truly spectacular! Who knew Dan Stevens can sing like that?! Overall I was so very pleased, and left knowing that we’ll be buying that movie as soon as possible. My love for the story of Beauty and the Beast will always remain! It was the very first movie I ever saw in theaters back in 1992 and Belle has always been my favorite princess!

Overall, I’d say for a day where we had nothing planned (something that drives my sweet husband crazy!), it was a fun filled day in the spirit of Buffalo!

Friday Favorites

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It’s the Friday before spring break! Where is 2017 going? This semester is flying fast and furiously by! We are headed east tomorrow and having to pull back out our winter clothes that I thought we had said goodbye to as we prepare to spend time in Buffalo, NY and Pittsburgh, PA for our spring break. I am so excited to squeeze my grandmothers in great big hugs during our couple days in Pittsburgh!

I have a few things I’ve loved this week, but the first is a book called The Lucky Few by Heather Avis.

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Earlier this week I was listening to the latest episode of The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey (this podcast is another favorite!), where she was speaking with Heather Avis, the author of this book. I loved listening to their conversation about adoption, parenting and the grace of Jesus. Hearing Heather share about what it means to use people first language that honors and respects the dignity and humanity of her children, and the sweet ways she tries to extend grace and education to the people she meets in her daily life who may have questions about her family. That podcast episode made me anxious to get home and start this book. This was such a good read! It doesn’t take long, but Heather walks you through how she and her husband went from the pain of trying to create a family to adopting their three beautiful children. Two of their children have Down syndrome, and reading her feelings towards adopting and parenting a child with Down syndrome reminded me of many of the conversations I had with a friend who is also the parent of a child with Down syndrome. They share much of the same fear, joy and awe at the task of parenting these precious humans. This book is a testament to the power of saying yes to God when he places something on your heart, the power of loving people well, and the power of grace that God offers to each of us as we embrace each day and what it holds. If you want a book that will make you smile deeply, cry tears of joy in solidarity with the author and her family, and a book that will leave you refreshed in the healing power of love, then this book is for you. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

I received this book to review from Netgalley

I also loved finally watching Ken Burn’s documentary The Roosevelts: An Intimate History while working. I had a lot of data input to do this week, and when doing work like that I like to have historical documentary shows playing in the background. This one was my favorite Ken Burns documentary yet, and I’ve loved them all!

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We finally cut out cable and so far, I haven’t missed it!

This week I’ve also been back to loving multiple cups of coffee a day. There is just something that my body and soul love about good coffee!

I was sent a copy of Home is Wherever Mom Is: Creative Coloring and Hand Lettering by Book Look Bloggers to review. The actual book is gorgeous! There are a substantial number of pages, each image is peaceful and inspiring, with plenty of detail to make your own! I like the pictures in the book because the lines aren’t crazy small to color between like many other adult coloring books I’ve encountered. I think this would make a beautiful gift for Mother’s Day, for a friend who just found out they’re expecting, or to simply honor a mom you know with a gift to engage in some self-care, and to take time to relax!

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What have you been loving this week?

Show Us Your Books

I thought it would be fun to link-up today with Jana and Steph to share what I’ve read in the first half of the month, knowing that I’m devouring books like crazy this month – I love hitting a groove in reading!

The New Irish Table: Recipes From Ireland’s Top Chefs by Leslie Conran Carola

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William and I both really enjoy cooking and on top of that, I really enjoy reading recipe books. I feel like this genre gives you so much insight into regional culture, history, economy and local values and customs. Food is a great way to explore through history and travel. This book was fun because I previously did not know much about Irish cuisine, outside of what you can find in Irish pubs in the states. With March being when we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be a fun time to look at some fun Irish recipes.

The photography in this book was gorgeous, the recipes all sounded incredible, and I loved getting a tour of Ireland through different restaurants, and their dishes. I received the digital copy for review, but this is one I may go and buy the physical copy of because of how much it appealed to my taste in cookbooks. While I have yet to prepare a recipe from the multitude within, I can see myself reaching for these recipes in the future. I highly recommend at least flipping through this beautiful take on Irish fare!

This book was provided for review by NetGalley.

The Bloody Mary: The Lore and Legend of a Cocktail Classic, with Recipes for Brunch and Beyond by Brian Bartels

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I love bloody marys! They are one of my go to drinks for brunch or in the afternoon. I really enjoy the spice and the levels of flavor. We even had these as one of our beverage options at our brunch reception when we got married!

This book shared the history of how one of my favorite cocktails came to exist and different recipes and takes on the drink. While interesting, I don’t think its outstanding or one I would like to own.

This book was provided for review by NetGalley.

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker.

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Jen Hatmaker is one of my very favorite Christian women to read. I love that she is authentic, fights for human dignity and equality and really walks the path of loving those the church has had a pattern of pushing to the periphery. I have had the pleasure of seeing Jen speak at the MOPS conference one year and listen to her on numerous podcasts. She genuinely seems like the kind of woman I would want to be friends with if I lived in Austin, even though she is a decade ahead of me in life.

This book has been on my to read list for well over a year, even though I received a complimentary copy from Netgalley prior to publication release. I don’t know why it took me so long to start it since I flew through it in a weekend.

This book highlights the important role of empowerment, community, love and laughter in leading a life we love. She highlights the fact that Jesus called us to love God and love each other, and that those are our two most important missions in life. She shares about the importance of family, about extending the grace you give freely to others with yourself, and the importance of finding your deep community of friendships to walk through the highs and lows with.

This book was refreshing to my heart and soul and made me laugh out loud several times. Reading it felt like having coffee or a soul-quenching meal with a dear mentor and friend. I highly recommend taking an afternoon or two to read this book.

This book was provided for review by NetGalley.

To Have and To Hold by Lauren Layne

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This was a cute, easy afternoon read that would have been perfect for a pool or beach day! I’m interested in reading the subsequent books about the Wedding Belles, because each girl seemed different enough to have a fun story to share. I enjoyed the break from the “heavier” books I normally prefer, and loved the fun take on this wedding planner falling on love with her client’s brother. There is much more to it than that, but I don’t want to give it away!

This book was provided for review by NetGalley.

Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything by Gloria Furman

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I enjoyed this look at the book of Ephesians in the New Testament. It was an easy read in an afternoon to reflect on Paul’s letter.

This book was provided for review by NetGalley.

What have you read the first couple weeks of March?

The Defender

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I was reading Brianne’s post earlier about how she is an advocate, or an INFJ, the Myers-Briggs type I used to test as. However, as I’ve gotten older, I have come to be more honest in my assessment of how I really operate, versus how I wish I did. When I took the test again, I came out as a Defender, or ISFJ, -A/-T. The description of the Defender make so much sense to me!

Defenders supposedly make up 13% of the population, and one of the lines I most identified with in the profile was, “Defenders are true altruists, meeting kindness with kindness-in-excess and engaging the work and people they believe in with enthusiasm and generosity.” I definitely feel like that describes me.

I also strongly related when it said, “Naturally social, an odd quality for Introverts, Defenders utilize excellent memories not to retain data and trivia, but to remember people, and details about their lives. When it comes to gift-giving, Defenders have no equal, using their imagination and natural sensitivity to express their generosity in ways that touch the hearts of their recipients.” My parents have always said that my memory recall and love of finding the perfect gift is something they admire in me, and it is something I enjoy doing too. Seeing someone’s face light up at receiving something that speaks to them on a heart level is magical.

Defender Strengths

Supportive – “…choosing empathy over judgement whenever possible.”

Reliable and patient

Imaginative and observant – “Defenders are very imaginative, and use this quality as an accessory to empathy, observing others’ emotional states and seeing things from their perspective. With their feet firmly planted on the ground, it is a very practical imagination, though they do find things quite fascinating and inspiring.”

Enthusiastic

Loyal and hard-working

Good practical skills

Defender Weaknesses

Humble and shy

Take things too personally

Repress their feelings

Overload themselves

Reluctant to change

Too altruistic

After reading the descriptions for each of the strengths and weaknesses, all I can say is YES. This personality type “fits” me so much better than what I thought I was.

On the page about relationships, this paragraph felt so familiar:

“When it comes to romantic relationships, Defenders’ kindness grows into a joy that is only found in taking care of their family and home, in being there for emotional and practical support whenever it’s needed. Home is where the heart is for people with the Defender personality type, and in no other area of their lives do they strive with such dedication to create the harmony and beauty they wish to see in the world.”

That sounds like me absolutely. One of the things that brings me the most joy and satisfaction is caring for my home and family, and using my actions to make them feel loved and valued through my caring for them.

I saw a fun article shared recently that connected each personality type to a literary heroine, and the ISFJ is Meg March from Little Women, which I love. That is such a good book, and Meg was always who I related to most, though I loved Jo dearly. Now it makes sense why Meg always felt the most relatable 😉

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I know that we are each much more complicated than something like this allows for, but its an area I’ve always found interesting as it can provide insight into yourself and those you are surrounded by.

I’m curious, what is your personality “type”? Do you feel its accurate?

Friday Favorites

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Happy Friday! How are we already three days into March and in the midst of the Lenten season already? This year feels like each week is moving progressively faster than the week before.

First I thought I would share the devotional I am doing every day during Lent alongside the She Reads Truth community. All of their devotionals are wonderful, but as we prepare for the Easter celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection, we are reading through Isaiah in a study called You Are Mine. It is wonderful and I recommend diving in today if you are interested.

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I also am reading Blessed Is She because they pull the daily readings for us Catholics into a convenient blog post, and one of my goals this Lenten season is to intentionally read the daily readings every day.

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I bought new nail polish last week as a birthday present to myself. I’ve been wanting to try the Essie gel nails system, and picked up the duo with Lace Me Up and the top coat in it. I painted my nails last Friday night when we got home from sushi, and my nails still look great! I’m in love with this sweet blush pink, and look forward to trying out a few other colors in the future too!

What have you been loving this week?