Is it too cliché of me to say, "It's hard to believe just howfast this year has flown by!"? I know we all say this sort of thing way too often, but this year, just like every other year that I say it, I really believe it. I don't know what it was about 2012, but I feel like it was absolutely packed full of so many things that it couldn't possibly have held another moment. However, as busy as it may have been, it seemed to be over in what seems like a blink of an eye. From house projects to vacations, and first time events to annual fun activities, we hope you've had fun reading along. We know we've enjoyed your company.
Yesterday we shared how we successful we were in keeping our 2012 resolutions, but that was really only part of what our whole year was about. Before last year becomes a distant memory, we'd like to take a few moments to recap the days, weeks, and months that combined to become the wonderful year otherwise known as 2012. Besides, we know that many of you started following Old Town Home at some point during this year, and perhaps you didn't see some of the epic adventures we undertook (we're talking Friday and Saturday trips to the home improvement store type of "epic"), so we're going to do our obligatory retrospective on the year of 2012 in the life of Old Town Home. These various projects and moments represent our highs and lows of the year that was, and we hope you enjoy.
Highlight - Home Projects
Though our home projects were ongoing throughout the year, our 2012 was actually bookended by two significant projects that have changed the way we use our first floor.
The first project was actually one of the very fun opportunities we had as bloggers, and it resulted in a rather unexpected DIY project. Back in January we saw that Brooklyn Limestone was looking for a few guest bloggers for her "Conquered Closet Clutter" series. Though we'd never guest blogged anywhere before, we responded to Stefanie's request and offered up an organization project. Truth be told, we weren't sure just what we were going to guest blog about, but hey, why not? She accepted and we got to work on turning our cluttered and dark basement stairwell...
...into a functional and bright coat closet (which also happens to be the only closet on the first floor).
Sure the project may have put several others on hold, but the guest blogging opportunity was enough to inspire us to do something that we've long talked about but had yet failed to act on. We both consider this effort a major mark in the "win"column for our year.
The second project that more or less capped the end of the year really kicked off in early August, though it had been building for the entire year. Our "sun porch makeover" that stemmed from a bargain rug purchase at the beginning of the year...
...quickly morphed from a simple refresh of the small sun porch space...
...and ultimately ended in an overhaul of our kitchen too, including a new paint job, kitchen countertops, tile backsplash, a wine bar, window treatments, custom shelves, new appliances, and a whole lot of unexpected effort.
Now that we've more or less completed the project, we can't be more thrilled with the outcome. Our previously depressed kitchen is now one of the highlights of the first floor and always knocks our guests' socks off when they see the "after."
Lowlight - Cooper Larceny
Though our big projects were a great success, one thing that was a rather major lowlight of our year was the theft of our copper downspout from the rear of our house. To rub salt in the wound, the theft occurred just weeks after I replaced an old and damaged piece of downspout with a shiny new piece. (Ultimately, I believe the "newness" of the copper is what attracted the thieves in the first place.)
The bad news is I ended up replacing our stolen downspout with a 25' length of flexible dryer vent and still haven't gotten around to purchasing and installing new stuff. The good news is it seems the culprits responsible for the theft may have been apprehended.
A few weeks after our downspout was boosted, Wendy was checking out the local crime reports and noticed another copper theft report that occurred just about a week after our theft. The owner of another house in the area spotted a few people trying to steal his gutters and called the police. The police were able to locate the individuals and apprehend them. Hopefully we won't have any further issues when we finally get around to replacing our missing item, and hopefully that will be sooner than later.
Highlight - Wendy's Great-Grandfather's Great-Great-Grandmother's Chair.
Yes, you read that right. Wendy's Great-Grandfather's chair turned out to be Wendy's Great-Great-Grandmother's chair (thanks to some additional info from Wendy's grandmother over Christmas). In what turned into one of the most delayed and overdue projects I've ever worked on, I finally got my butt in gear and finished the project I started nearly a full decade ago.
I've always wanted to complete it in order to breathe life into something that was both significant to Wendy's life and that could be appreciated by her family. I feel I was able to accomplish this by completing this project. Event better, Wendy was able to show her grandmother a few photos of our efforts over Christmas.
It was particularly nice that she was able to share the end results since the chair originally belonged to Wendy's grandmother's grandmother. For the record, Gram was really happy with how it turned out.
Lowlight - Disasterous Duct Work
When I crawled into the attic to do a little insulating during the 100 plus degree days of the summer, it may have been a horribly dumb decision, but it did help me realize there were several large holes in our AC's ducts that let cold air pour into the attic. Talk about wasting money.
I was able to resolve the issues by patching, taping, and applying a mastic sealant to the ducts, but I wish I wouldn't have had to do it in the scorching heat. It ended up making me lose about eight pounds in water weight, but the whole house was far more comfortable for the rest of the summer.
My body was quite literally sore for days after this whole event. I hope to never do something quite so miserable again.
Highlight - Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
Back in March in celebration of St. Patty's day, Wendy decided to try her hand at making something we had seen on Pinterest and always thought "OMG, those look amazing!" Well, she came, she baked, she conquered. After nearly two solid hours of preparations and baking, Wendy delivered on some of the most complex and delicious cupcakes she's ever made, Irish Car Bomb cupcakes to be exact.
We brought them to a friend's party and they were literally gone in seconds. They were a hit with everyone who snapped them up, and we still periodically hear rave reviews. Wendy's a talented baker (in my book at least), and she clearly outdid herself with these car bomb inspired cupcakes.
Lowlight - Pet Cancer
Forgive me if we're overly sensitive about pet health issues, but we've been through the wringer in the area of veterinarian oncology after Ollie was diagnosed and ultimately died of lymphoma. This summer we had the unfortunate circumstance of discovering small lumps that turned out to be mast cell tumors in not just one, but both of the four legged members of the Old Town Home crew. Talk about a completely crushing and bewildering feeling.
After same day dual surgeries, a tenuous few days of recovery, and lots of love and affection showered on both Mel and Lulu, I'm happy to report that both patients are doing well, even if Mel is without about 1/2 of his tail. We're cautiously optimistic for both of their long term outlooks, and we're very glad we caught both tumors early enough that the prognosis is good. Fingers crossed for no recurrences in either pet throughout 2013.
Highlight - Scottish Walk Weekend Holiday Designer Tour of Homes!
As one of the absolute highlights of our entire year -- and actually of our time living in Alexandria -- we were invited to participate as one of the homes on the Alexandria 2013 Holiday Designer Tour of Homes. Though we still had a lot to accomplish on our kitchen/sun porch projects, we figured this might be our only opportunity to ever do this sort of thing. We threw caution to the wind and started into a whirlwind and hectic process that whipped our home into shape!
The end result was a veritable Christmas wonderland throughout our home. From the tree in the front...
...to the fresh floral arrangements throughout the house...
...Christmas had overtaken every room and was put on display for hundreds of onlooking guests to see.
We're so very happy to have participated in the event and supported the Campagna Center's cause. We received some overwhelmingly positive feedback from people who went through our house on the tour and from people who commented on the blog.
Lowlight - Calling Out Your Spouse
Okay, okay, this one is totally on us. Wendy and I have both misused the blog on more than one occasion this year. I hate to say it, but it's true. We've both gotten up on our Internet enabled soap boxes to publically shame our partner for one of their bad habits. I shamed Wendy for her propensity to collect and excessively store shopping bags...
Lulu is not mad, she's just disappointed.
...and she's publicly shamed me for the tremendous amount of wood I've amassed and giant mess I've created in the basement of our home.
Lulu's not even allowed down here for a photo.
The problem here, we're both totally guilty! But the real question is has this virtual intervention had any effect on our bad habits? You be the judge.
After many diligent months of consistent cleaning, the basement is starting to shape up. Sure, there are still buckets of wood, as well as many scraps that could possibly be tossed, but I know this wood hoard had come in rather handy for both Wendy and me at several points during the year. The key isn't throwing it all away, the key is organization and keeping the basement clean in general. I'd say that it's looking not too terrible, especially given where it was just several months ago.
Wendy, on the other hand, has significantly fallen off the wagon. The bag reposity is now located in several locations around the house, not just behind a single piece of furniture. When I open the cabinet below the sink for a paper towel, I must fend off the bag monster for fear I might lose an arm...or worse. Perhaps we can focus on ways to curb this little problem in 2013?
Keep in mind, I (Alex) am the author of this blog post. Had it been written by Wendy, there is the ever so slightest of possibilities that the spin may have been just a little bit different.
Highlight - Vacation Destinations
For all of the work we did over the course of the year, we also made sure to enjoy ourselves with lots of little and big getaways. Of all of our 10 years of marriage, this was by far the year we did the most travelling.
Early in the year, January to be exact, we spent a short weekend in Las Vegas. Though Wendy had visited for work several years before, I've never been and have always been interested in the experience of going to Vegas.
It was such a quick trip that we didn't have an opportunity to do much other than enjoy a few great meals and lose a little bit of money at a few casinos. It was such a relatively uneventful trip, we didn't even blog about it. Well, at least we got a good photo or two from the experience. Apparently we still have some secrets.
Our next trip came as a birthday request from Wendy. One day she said to me, half joking, "I would love to go to Napa Valley for my birthday." This gave me a great opportunity to plan a trip and head out that way.
We had an absolutely wonderful time, tried a bunch of new vineyards, had some amazing meals, and made sure we stopped by some of our favorite places. I can't imagine Wendy having a better birthday.
Over the spring and summer we took several small weekend trips to Maryland's Eastern Shore and Tilghman Island.
This short 90 mile drive gave us a few chances to just sit back, relax, and enjoy a few low key days amidst our busy times at work. It also made us daydream about owning our own "getaway" property. Oh, to dream!
In August, Wendy and I took a rather unexpected trip to, of all places, London, England. We hadn't planned on going to the Olympics, but that's right where we found ourselves.
This trip was absolutely one of the highlights of the year, and it was completely impromptu. We consider ourselves amazingly fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience this event in person, even if we didn't have any tickets to Olympic events in venues. It was a true once in a lifetime experience and one we're so happy to have enjoyed.
Our final big trip of the year took us on a major 10thanniversary vacation to Budapest, Hungary, next to Vienna, Austria, and finally to Prague, Czech Republic.
We had an amazing time walking ourselves to exhaustion in each city. In cities where the beer is cheaper than water (no joke), the culture is apparent, and the architecture is amazing. We felt like we were able to experience the cities to their fullest.
This year's collection of vacations helped to remind us just how much there is to see and enjoy in the world. It's important to us that we're willing and able to experience things that are outside of our little comfort zone in the corner of the Alexandria and DC area. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate that we were able to enjoy some many new and familiar places during 2012, and we hope that one of our trips has in some way served as inspiration to see something new or as a reminder of something you've enjoyed.
In Conclusion - A Great 2012!!!
There you have it, that's our 2012 in a nutshell. Obviously we couldn't cover every little thing that we undertook this year, but this should give you a pretty decent glimpse into our last 366 days. To new readers and familiar faces, we hope you've enjoyed what you've read and will continue to join us in the coming year. Now that we're headed into the conclusion of our second year of blogging, it's starting to feel like we're beginning to hit our stride and get the hang of it. We have a lot of fun projects, adventures, and various life activities planned for the new year, but from our track record in 2012, it seems the more unexpected items are the ones that are most enjoyable.
Are there any things you'd like to hear more about as we enter 2013? Do you have any big plans, renovation, DIY, or otherwise coming up in the next year? We're always curious to see what all of you are up to.