I wish I had something really deep to share but honestly, these last few weeks have been so busy that I haven’t had much time to really reflect. So I’ll just keep it short and sweet with this:
My 20s was filled with several major milestones: graduating from college, getting my first real job, becoming a Christian, getting my CFP, buying my first property, discovering minimalism, getting engaged, getting married, etc.
A milestone I want to hit in my 30s is becoming debt-free and achieving financial independence. (You can track my progress here.) A kid or two would also be nice :).
So goodbye 20s! You were filled with highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I don’t regret any of it but I am ready and excited for a slightly less dramatic decade.
I started using Clinique’s Superdefense face cream back in high school thanks to my aunt giving me all her free samples and it has served me well over the last decade. So well, in fact, that every time a friend complimented me on my skin, I credited it to this face cream. Clinique should’ve paid me a referral fee for all the business I gave them ;). Every time I strayed and gave another face cream a chance, I always regretted it and went back to Clinique. This was my holy grail, #1 staple.
But now, it’s time to say goodbye. Why? Because I’m slowly switching to a vegan, cruelty-free lifestyle and Clinique, unfortunately, tests on animals. (FYI, any product that is sold in China currently tests on animals.) I’m not as strict about all my products being vegan, but I am getting increasingly firm on products being at least cruelty-free. The thought of a bunny being poisoned to death for my face cream (especially when there are plenty of alternative options available), makes me sad.
Thanks to Christine’s recommendation, I bought this one to try and so far it’s been working just fine. It is easy to apply, feels great on my face and smells fresh (like citrus). I also like tube packaging a lot more than the jar packaging that Superdefense has. Most importantly, it’s vegan and cruelty-free. Even though I have no complaints about this face cream, I’m definitely open to trying other ones so if there’s a cruelty-free face cream with SPF that you’d recommend, please let me know!
At first the only changes we planned for the hallway were switching out the carpet for hardwood floors and painting the cabinets and doors white. But my mom came up with the idea of removing the current cabinets and replacing them with new, separated cabinets. The idea was brilliant because it made the hallway look a lot wider and now there is counter space to fold laundry, display pictures, charge your phone, etc.
The main changes that were done for the living room & dining room were switching out the carpet for hardwood floors and removing most of the wall mirrors.
The only wall mirror we kept was the one above the fireplace because the frame around it made it look modern and it fit the aesthetic we were going for. We replaced the pink tiles around the fireplace with new marble tiles and bought a new fireplace door. The wet bar was completely redone with the same cabinets, countertop and mosaic as the kitchen and the faucet was replaced with a new one.
Before we closed escrow on our condo, we already started planning the remodel. We knew everything in the kitchen had to go except the fridge because it looked new and matched the look we were going for: white, grey and modern.
The white cabinets and grey counter tops were an easy decision. But we went back and forth on if we should use quartz, granite or real marble. We ended up choosing quartz because it was hard to find a grey granite that we liked and real marble stains and yellows too easily. We didn’t know what kind of mosaic we wanted but as soon as we saw the one we chose, we knew it was the right one. It has marble and pale mint glass, which surprised no one considering our wedding colors were mint & grey.
In addition to replacing all the cabinets and counter tops, we also moved the placement of the fridge and pantry. By moving the pantry to where the microwave and stove used to be and keeping the space where the pantry used to be open, it made that corner look much bigger. We’ll eventually add a built in breakfast nook bench.
All the under cabinet lighting was installed by James. Even though it was his first time, he did an awesome job :)!
What transformed the space the most was removing the doors and widening the entryway to the dining room and removing the blocks on the ceiling that was covering the HVAC vent. We had our contractor shorten the vent and move the opening so that only one wall needed the block. With the entry way wider and the ceilings higher, our kitchen looked twice as big as it did when we started.
Here are some more before and after photos of the space:
It’s been a quiet few months on this blog because I’ve been busy renovating the new condo James and I bought at the end of last year. It’s 1,800 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms located near Century City. You can actually see my work building from the balcony!
Renovations began right before Christmas and ended last week.
We still have a few things to take care of (fixing windows that won’t shut, replacing a rusted doorknob, getting some of the doors sanded and repainted, etc.) but for the most part, it’s done and will be move in ready soon.
Now, we just have to find a suitable tenant.
We bought this place with the intention of moving in eventually – maybe when we have a kid or two. But right now, we’re perfectly happy living in our 480 sq. ft. (rented) studio. Not to mention, the overhead cost of our new condo is twice our rent so we’ll be saving a lot more money staying put ;).
Back in 2011, James and I started a Valentine’s Day tradition: rent a movie and eat pizza (usually Dominos) and sushi at home. We didn’t know it would be a tradition at the time. But it worked out so well, we’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day this way ever since, with exception to 2012. In 2012, James got his first paycheck right around Valentine’s Day so we went to a nicer restaurant to also celebrate his first full-time job.
I got the idea to stay-in for Valentine’s Day when I realized how stressful this holiday was for so many couples, especially couples who were semi-long distance. James was living in Irvine at the time while I was living in Los Angeles. So we lived justtt close enough where it didn’t make sense to NOT spend Valentine’s Day together.
That night, instead of showing up frustrated like he usually did after sitting in 2 hours of traffic, James showed up relaxed, knowing that that was his one stop for the night. And when he’s more relaxed, he’s also much more romantic, which makes me feel happy and relaxed. We enjoyed a relatively inexpensive dinner, which still felt indulgent because who eats pizza and sushi in one night?!
What’s great about our tradition is that it takes the pressure off. No more deciding on where to eat, what to wear and what we’re going to do to make this day “special.” And without pressure, Valentine’s Day is a lot more fun for both of us.
So if you haven’t made any Valentine’s Day plans yet, why not considering making a night-in your new Valentine’s Day tradition?