September 04, 2018

We have a house!

It finally happened: we bought our first home! (Well, technically, second for Stephen. ;) He bought our duplex before we got married, but this is MY first time buying.) We are so thrilled to have bought this home and are excited to get to work on it.

We actually closed two weeks ago and have already put a fair amount of work into it. (Let's just say we grossly underestimated how much prep work we'd have to do before we can even PAINT.) It's hard work, but we feel so grateful and so blessed to get to work to turn this house into our family's home. It's definitely much bigger than we need for just the two of us right now, but in buying this house, we've shared a part of ourselves with the world. At least it feels that way, since we bought this house with the dream of filling it with family, with friends, and of course, our own children someday. I hope for our home to be a gathering place, and for all who come in to feel welcome and loved.

I'll be sharing more updates about our home renovation process (and soliciting opinions on paint colors and home decor choices!) here on this blog and on my Instagram. And if you want a behind-the-scenes look at the "Before" of our home, check out the highlight on my Instagram Stories! (And if you're one of our friends in the SLC area and really love painting and renovating, come on over!)

August 31, 2018

Wedding Website Info (Getting to know The Chatwinners!)

Stephen and I made a wedding website before our wedding last year. It's still live on The Knot, but I don't know how long it'll live online. I wanted to preserve some of that info, juuuust in case it ever disappears, and I figured it would be a fun way for my RWL peeps to get to know The Chatwinners a little better. :)

Our Story
Once upon a time, in the year 1984, two little babies were born. Stephen came first, and Yándary followed 60 days later. 31 years later, it would take an iPhone, a Kindle, and a dating app called Bumble to bring them together.
As Stephen and Yándary got to know each other, they realized they had a lot in common and had actually had similar life experiences! Both of them majored in Political Science at the University of Utah. Both of them joined LDS sororities/fraternities in the fall of 2003. Both of them had spent time living in Yándary's favorite city, Washington, DC. It's a wonder their paths hadn't crossed sooner than the spring of 2016! In addition to their shared life experiences, Yándary and Stephen also share a love of thrift store shopping, cheeseburgers (even though Yándary is now lactose intolerant… sniff), all things Harry Potter, scoring good deals, winning online giveaways, and, of course, each other.

About Us

Stephen was born and raised in Salt Lake City. He served an LDS mission to Lansing, Michigan and then earned a B.A. in Political Science, a B.S. in International studies, and a Master's in Public Policy from the University of Utah. (He's an over-achiever.) While he was an undergraduate at the U, Stephen was a collegiate squash player and a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. He currently works doing data management for the Neurosciences Department at Intermountain Hospital in Murray (aka he is really smart and is good with numbers and Excel). In his spare time, he enjoys sunning himself, playing squash (he actually played in a squash tournament the night he proposed to Yándary!), rock climbing, thrifting, and trying to teach Yándary how to sit still. His favorite snacks include Cheetos, Mountain Dew, and frozen pizza. ;)

Yándary was born in El Salvador and raised mostly in Riverdale, Utah. She served an LDS mission to Oakland, California, where she got really good at walking backwards (she served at the Visitors' Center ;) ). She also earned a B.S. in Political Science at the University of Utah (she and Stephen overlapped a bit in their college years but never crossed paths!), and she went to graduate school in DC at The George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. She lived in DC for five years before moving back to Utah two years ago to work for the Utah Democratic Party. She now works doing Communications and Community Relations for the Salt Lake City School District. In her spare time, she enjoys thrifting, baking chocolate-chip cookies, running, eating delicious things,and going on walks with Stephen. :)

Fun Facts

We filled out a questionnaire for a bridal shower game and thought we'd share our answers to help you get to know us a little better!
ndary's Answers
1. What was your first job?
A: Baby-sitting (age 12) and Chick-fil-A (high school)
2. How many siblings do you have?
A: I'm the oldest of five kids. I have one sister and three brothers.
3. What's your favorite holiday?
A: My birthday!
4. How many languages do you speak? What are they?
A: 2.25: English, Spanish, and a little German (German was one of my college minors  the other one was Campaign Management  but I haven't used it since my study abroad in 2004!)
5. What musical instrument(s) do you play?
A: Violin
6. What is Stephen's best character trait?
A: He is so patient! Whether I'm running late (yet again), can't decide what I want for dinner, or am having an off day, he is so patient and loving and kind. (Also, he smells good!)
7. What is your favorite food and/or meal?
A: Pupusas!
8. What are your top three movies of all time, preferably in order?
A: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Legally Blonde
9. What is your "guilty pleasure" TV show to watch?
A: Right now? The O.C. with Stephen.
10. What is the best book you read in the last 1-2 years?
A: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.
11. How long do spend getting ready in the morning?
A: At least an hour; maybe more!
12. If you had unlimited funds and could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Everywhere! But Thailand and Europe first.
13. What is your favorite midnight snack, if/when you get the munchies?
A: Frozen balls of chocolate-chip cookie dough, which are always in stock in my freezer. :)

Stephen's Answers
1. What was your first job?
A: Paper boy
2. How many siblings do you have?
A: Five (one sister, four brothers). I'm the youngest of six kids.
3. What's your favorite holiday?
A: Memorial Day, because I get a day off and don't have to do anything.
4. How many languages do you speak? What are they?
A: 1: LOVE (English)
5. What musical instrument(s) do you play?
A: None
6. What is Yándary best character trait?
A: Her niceness.
7. What is your favorite food and/or meal?
A: Pupusas
8. What are your top 3 movies of all time, preferably in order?
A: Willow, Thoroughly Modern Millie, What's Up, Doc?
9. What is your "guilty pleasure" TV show to watch?
A: The O.C.
10. What is the best book you read in the last 1-2 years?
A: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
11. How long do spend getting ready in the morning?
A: 10 minutes
12. If you had unlimited funds and could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Thailand
13. What is your favorite midnight snack, if/when you get the munchies?
A: Cheetos

July 23, 2018

Under Contract!


Just in time to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, we went under contract on our first house!!

The real estate market in the Salt Lake area is insane right now, with home prices, interest rates, and demand for homes on the rise, with no sign of letting up soon. Even though the market isn't favorable to sellers right now, we felt like we needed to be looking. We were in no rush, since we are just fine in our duplex, and we have a spare bedroom, which means we could even live here with a kid or two down the road. We set a deadline of July 21st (our one-year anniversary) and decided that if we didn't find a house by then, we'd take a break from house hunting for a while.

Well, we submitted an offer on Friday, we received a counter-offer on Saturday (our anniversary!), and we went under contract on Sunday. It all happened so fast! It's still not a done deal, of course, and we won't necessarily get the house, but we are excited to even be in the game, and I wanted to make sure I documented it.

Today, we scheduled a home inspection and found a title company we want to work with. Keep your fingers crossed for us during the next 30 days! 💓

June 19, 2018

Visiting the Parkers

Quill, the goat, feeling very excited about things.
Last night, we went on a walk to the library. Both of us were exhausted from a long (but good!) weekend and not enough sleep the night before. After a long day at work (and at the mechanic's and working from a coffee shop all day for me), we got home to tackle the housework we didn't get to over the weekend. (Looking at houses + baking all day for the Girls' Camp fundraiser + Father's Day with all the dads = not enough time for chores at home.) Stephen was AMAZING and fixed our bathroom sink. I washed ALL the baking dishes and made dinner, and just as we were getting ready to settle down, we realized our microwave was broken. After poor Stephen's frustration with the sink (did I mention how AWESOME he is for figuring it out??), we were ready for a break and decided to go on a walk to our local library instead of staying home. Fresh air and a change of pace is good for our grumpy souls, it turns out.

I checked out two new books (this one to help us plan our one-year anniversary trip later this year, and this one, just for fun). I'm super excited for both! AND I've felt a renewed appreciation lately for my local library. I have so many books I want to read this summer, and it's nice that I can do it for free through our county library. Thanks, Ben, for the books!

On our walk home, we passed by our friends, the Parkers. We go to church with them, and they live really close to us. They also have a lot of land, where they have.... chickens! horses! cats! a bunny! and BABY GOATS!! I heard bleating as we walked past their fence, and lo and behold, baby goats were approaching us through the gate!

We had to stop and play with them, of course.

Kids love Stephen

The Parkers were finishing dinner, so hung out with the kids (Get it? Ha.) on our own for a while. The goats' names are Quill, Gamora, and Rocket. :) The grumps melted away almost instantly once we were playing with these little guys. :)

A few minutes later, the Parkers came out, and we met everyone else! (Except the second cat, which is fine by me, on account of I recently found out from one of those poke-you-in-the-back allergy tests that I am a 5/5 allergic to cats, 5 being the highest possible. But good news: I am NOT allergic to horses.)

Parker chickens

It turns out that playing with animals is also therapeutic for our grumpy souls. I even got to RIDE A HORSE FOR THE FIRST TIME, and it was really fun!

Parker horses

I'm grateful that we went on a walk last night, that it is *basically* summertime and stays light out much later, that we have such nice neighbors/church friends, and that they let us play with their animals (and also sent us home with a dozen fresh eggs + freshly picked cherries).

The moral of the story is: when the grumps have you down, go outside and/or visit some friendly animals!

May 31, 2018

Whale Watching + Lahaina Banyan Tree (and some food, of course!)

So excited for whale watching! 

One of the first things we did in Maui was to take a whale watching cruise. We were told peak whaling season ends in February, but the Pacific Whale Foundation (through whom we bought our cruise) also guaranteed us a whale sighting or we'd get to take another whale watching cruise for free within a year, so we figured why not book it?

And boy, were we glad we did! (Travel tip: you can book your whale watching cruise in advance. You can cancel without penalty up to 48 hours before your cruise, so it's a good move to book as soon as possible. As your trip date gets closer, you can check the weather to make sure you'll have good weather on your cruise. While I'm on a travel tip, I learned that they only offer sunrise cruises during peak season, which is why we took our cruise in the afternoon. Word on the street is that a sunrise whale cruise is an awesome experience. Oh, also, we booked our cruise leaving from Lahaina. If you do this, remember to leave plenty of time to find parking, most of which is in paid lots!)

Whalewatching in Maui

So excited to see whales! whalewatching cruise

We saw not one, not two, but THREE (maybe four?) whales! Our guide said it looked like a love triangle: two males fighting over a female, which seemed especially probably at the end of mating season when the pickings are slimmer. ;)

I'm not sure what I was expecting to see, but the first whale sighting came from a fellow passenger and was sort of underwhelming. In fact, I didn't even see it! The whales were far from our boat, and the only way we could tell they were there was because of the stream of water from their blowholes every time they came up for air. Our captain told us to scan the horizon to see the blowhole spouting better, and that definitely helped. See blowhole spouts below! (Note that the photos below were taken once our boat was closer to the whales.)

whale blowholes
whale blowholes spouting water

Our captain steered our boat as close to the whales as legally permissible, and then he turned off the engine. And then the whales got closer (there's no law governing how closely the whale can approach the boat), and one of them even swam RIGHT UNDER OUR BOAT!! See its back and blowhole in the photo below?? That's how close we were. It was amazing! I'm actually shocked its tail didn't whack the bottom of our boat as it swam.

Whale blowhole

Two whale videos from our cruise:

whale watching video whale tail in Maui

We had an amazing experience. I would highly recommend a whale watching cruise to anyone heading to Maui! Stephen and his parents have done whale watching cruises before, and they said this was, by far, their best experience ever. I guess my bar is set pretty high now! We decided that next time we're in Hawai'i, we'll try a dolphin cruise. :)

After our whale watching cruise, we spent some time in Lahaina Square. We stopped to snap a photo with the famed Lahaina Banyan tree, of course. It was originally planted in 1873, and its canopy spreads out over 2/3 of an acre! It's the largest banyan tree in the United States and the oldest banyan tree in Hawai'i.

Lahaina banyan tree With the in-laws at the banyan tree

And then we had some fantastic burgers (voted Best on Maui 13 years in a row) at the Cool Cat Cafe across the street. Our favorite was the monthly special, which included a burger patty, lettuce, tomato, bacon, a fried egg, and two glazed donuts in place of buns. It was so good! (Of note: I wish we'd known this beforehand, but the Cool Cat Cafe will validate parking!)

Donuts are better than buns any day

Oh, and I can't end this post without mentioning one of my favorite food discoveries from our first day: Dole Whips! AND, even better, I learned they are DAIRY-FREE! Woot woot!

Dole whip in Maui!

We headed back to our resort after dinner to wind down and relax. It was a great first day in Maui!