Welcome to Our New Home!


I write this as both little man and big man are taking a nap and recovering from a fun stomach bug. But with that said…

We did it!

Not only did we became parents in the last few months, but we also managed to purchase a new place, move, and attempt to settle down. And it has been an incredible adventure (ahem, challenge :)!

The Story of Our Place

We had been on the lookout to purchase a new place for quite some time. As soon as we found our rental space, we knew that we eventually wanted to have our own. What we did not know was what we really wanted. We went back and forth on location (such as East Capitol and Dupont), back and forth on size (2 bedrooms? 3 bedrooms? 5 bedrooms for a rental unit??), back and forth on type (townhome? single-family??), and back and forth on timing (I wanted ASAP, Robert… was more cautious, hehe). Ultimately, what worked for us had nothing to do with what either of us expected.


We ended up purchasing our home in Glover Park, happily situated a mere 0.5 miles from both Georgetown and American University. What truly sold us on the location were three key things:

  • We are one block away from one of the best hiking parks in DC, an incredibly appealing thing for these urbanites;

  • We are across the street from one of the best elementary schools in the city;

  • It’s quiet but close to everything.


This was a big one (no pun intended). We really couldn’t quite decide on the size we wanted to purchase. If we wanted to go for three bedrooms or more, we became quite limited in the neighborhoods available and the condition of the homes. Neither of us were ready to tackle a major project with a newborn. So even though we started out looking for a three-bedroom unit, we decided to purchase a two-bedroom unit instead. It gave us enough flexibility to have a kid or two, without slaving away at taking care of a large house.


A surprise here too… we were dead-set on buying a townhome. Until the word of the wise came through in suggesting that we consider a condo instead. Why a condo?

  • Maintenance - it is a breeze compared to owning a house. No roofs to worry about, no stucco to worry about, pretty much there is nothing to worry about other than the occasional appliance trouble (looking at you, dryer).

  • Living Small - an aspiration of mine that is finally realizing! I have grown incredibly tired of stuff. Thankfully, Robert is on board with this one. So we have methodically been getting rid of stuff we do not need or use and have become exceedingly picky with acquiring new stuff (baby stuff included).


That one we did not control too much… In fact, once we saw our condo, we fell in love with it so much, that we were signing the offer and papers while I was in labor… Yup, you read that right! You could say this place is indeed labor of love! :)

There are so many things that make this place special: the views, the layout, the fact that this is Stefan’s first home! But I think I will save that for another time.

In the meantime, I should probably introduce you to our little, perfect Stefan:

After a good 36 hours of labor, I would say that he was well worth it! Pictured here, at about 5 months :). <3

Posted on December 20, 2018 and filed under Design + DIY.

Hello, World! It's Been Awhile! Some (small) Updates to Follow...

First things first, WE ELOPED! 

Let me start by sharing a little bit about our story - it's a pretty simple one. Robert and I met on a Friday, the 13th, and we have been inseparable ever since. We knew we wanted to marry each other on our second date. We also knew we wanted to have kids together on that same date. It was a looooong date but also one of my favorite memories of my life. I was about to hop on a plane to Italy the next morning, and he cut a work trip short to make sure we saw each other before I left. One thing led to another, and before we knew it, we were living together. Some more things happened, and before we knew it, we moved to Washington, DC. 

And through all these adventures, we became a family - a family that supported each other through the good, the bad, and the unexpected. A family that wanted to explore the world together, grow old together, and grow wise together. A family that saw each member as a teammate and a partner. A family that felt like home, no matter where we were.

And, when we decided to actually get married, we wanted one thing only: a day for ourselves, where we'd only have eyes for each other and the place we were at. So... we decided to elope! To NYC!

The story of our elopement is quite fun in of itself. But we should save this for some other time. The one thing I would note is... Why doesn't EVERYONE elope? It's amazing! Best decision we ever made! But I am saving this story for another time because...

In other news.... WE'RE PREGNANT! Like, VERY pregnant! 


As I mentioned before, we knew we wanted to have kids together on our second date... So, not long after we settled in DC, we decided to go for it! And it wasn't too long before I found myself six weeks pregnant on a trip to Iceland and England. Overall, I have been fortunate to have a fairly easy pregnancy. The short version goes like this:

  • First trimester: a whole lot of nausea and an international trip that didn't exactly make things easier. But it sure gave us plenty of stories to tell one day (such as, chasing the aurora borealis amidst 10-ft waves on a tiny boat...). In other words, I spent it mostly napping.
  • Second trimester: a whole lot of discomfort from a growing belly plus some minor complications that got resolved on their own (these doctors know way more than they should these days). In other words, I spent it mostly on the couch. 
  • Third trimester (so far): I have to say, this has been my best trimester so far. I got my energy back, I got to feel the baby kick (you're kicking me, smalls! like, all the time!), and, for the first time, I got to feel confident that we've got this!

So, this is it! A catch-all, long overdue, catch-up post.

Truly though, what matters is the bottom line, right? 

And the bottom line is... WE'RE HAPPY! And extremely tired (already). 

PS: Today happens to be my birthday. I don't necessarily believe in New Years' resolutions but shall we try to do birthday resolutions? Let's see how that works. My birthday resolution is to resurrect this blog... Fingers crossed, a new baby and a hectic new life don't throw me off too much! 

Happy Tuesday!

My favorite things about Washington, DC... So far

It has now been almost 4 months since we moved to Washington, DC. Below, I quickly share some of my favorites thus far. The things that you won't see here are food places (yum...) or museums. The first will be hard to write about... I refuse to take pictures of my food :). The latter requires a whole dedicated post to itself.

So, without further adieu... My three favorite things in DC! (So far):

1. The Commute

I am sure no one has ever muttered these words before, but I absolutely love my commute to work every day! Unlike in Houston, public transportation here is an integral part of the city and many people take full advantage of it (including me). I am lucky enough to not have to switch buses... and the above images are taken from my daily walk to catch the bus. It is easy on the eyes!

And I never realized how stressful a driving commute can be until I no longer had to go through it. In Houston, I had to drive an average of 30-40 minutes to get to work and from work. This was peak rush hour and inevitably, it resulted in plenty of almost-accidents, honking, swears, and fake road rage... Well, road rage no more! My daily bus commute involves me, my podcasts (NPR One!) and peace and quiet. 

2. The Office

I have noticed that working for universities has many wonderful pluses (vacation, anyone?:), one of which is that typically, your office location is rather beautiful. AU and Kogod don't disappoint. Actually, AU's campus is a nationally registered arboretum! Being surrounded by trees and gorgeous landscape calms the soul, even if you have had a long and tiring day.

3. Local Travel

The East Coast feels so tiny! Aka, very easy to travel! Since we moved here, we have spent time in Maryland, Virginia (Great Falls and Wine Country), Pennsylvania (Falling Water) and NYC. The longest of these trips was our Falling Water trip that took as about 3.5 hours each way... 3.5 hours in TX would barely get you to Austin! Needless to say, Chewie likes joining in on the fun because of that!

So this is it... the three simple joys of our recent move! I am sure there will be plenty more to come :). Have a great Friday!

Posted on November 10, 2017 and filed under Travel Diaries.

Save $2,287 with this DIY!

Well, okay, so you won't really save that much unless you have always wanted to buy a random light but never had the budget for it. What is a random light, you ask? Well, let me explain!

The random light was designed by Bertjan Pot and it has been in the moooi collection since 2002. I have been in love with it since 2010. But that was only because it took me 8 years to discover it. Typically, designers use these lights in large spaces in groupings of 3 or more because they provide a very sculptural design element to tall ceilings and lofts. Here's some evidence:

The light comes in three sizes and two colors: small, medium and large and black and white. And, surprisingly, the process for the real light is not very different from the process of the DIY version:  a resin drained yarn is randomly coiled around an inflatable beach ball creating a translucent 3D fabric. The beach ball is then deflated and extracted from a round opening in the lamp. Sounds simple, right?

Well, it is and it isn't. Let me explain. 

First, for the record, this is version 4.0 for me. Version 1.0 and 2.0 did not succeed because I did not use the correct materials and did not have the patience to finish respectively. 3.0 was a fantastic light that was well loved for a good 5 years. Unfortunately, it met its early demise in transportation to DC. Which brings us to version 4.0! This version had its own challenges, mostly, due to our new location and my lack of desire to drive anywhere... I wanted to make this light entirely with materials bought on Amazon. And surprisingly, this actually worked!

Here's what you'll need (for a total of $66.88!!)

As you will notice, I picked a ball that is 36" in diameter because I estimated that to be the size that would fit best in our breakfast nook. You can choose as big or as small of a ball as you'd like. I had actually purchased a 42" ball originally, but then realized that this light fixture will end up being larger than the dining table under it...

Next disclaimer? This is one MESSY process. Wear something you won't be upset about ruining, and do it in an area you won't be upset about messing up. I did this in our tiny back patio. 

Here are the steps you will need to take:

  1. Inflate beach ball.
  2. Using a sharpie, draw a circle towards the top with a diameter of about 5" or so.
  3. Cover thoroughly in vaseline.
  4. Open wallpaper adhesive (in lieu of resin).
  5. Open yarn roll (but do not unroll).
  6. Submerge said yarn roll in wallpaper adhesive bucket. 
  7. Hang greased beach ball from a high place (I used the cable that holds our string lights).
  8. IMPORTANT: Put on gloves. 
  9. Start coiling soaked yarn around ball in random patterns.
  10. Avoid coiling over your drawn circle. This is the opening you will use to extract the deflated beach ball and change the light bulb later.
  11. NOTE: The first few rounds that set the foundation are the hardest. Once you have a few layers, it becomes a repetitive and rather easy process.
  12. ANOTHER NOTE: This glue holds very well so do not stress if the yarn is not stretched tightly around the ball. It will still hold its shape when it's dry. 
  13. Put as many layers as you would like. I liked mine tightly packed because it serves as a better light diffuser that way. But you don't have to make it as tight. I used the entire yarn ball and all of the glue for 4.0. 
  14. Let dry for at least 24 hours, or maybe more. This depends on your humidity. The more humid it is, the more time it will take to dry. This one dried in about 24 hours. And it was bone dry by that time.
  15. Deflate beach ball.
  16. Attach light kit (I was surprised to see that the small opening on top where I had attached the ball to hang it was stiff enough to hold the light kit without losing the light's round shape!). 
  17. IMPORTANT: Turn off electricity.
  18. Install light fixture at the height you would like, which will depend on your ceiling height. Our ceilings are at least 11 ft high and I therefore installed this at about 40" above the table. 
  19. Turn electricity back on and enjoy your magical new feature!

And this is it! A couple of hours of elbow grease and a few thousand dollars saved later, you will feel as accomplished as ever!

Posted on October 24, 2017 and filed under Design + DIY.

LIFE UPDATE: Five lessons for first-time home sellers and how we got six offers on our first day on the market

Dear friends,

It's official! We are no longer Houstonians, and I guess we are now Washingtonians? I think that's what it's called. They do have a magazine named Washingtonian around here, so I am taking my cues from that (such a rookie move). 

But this post isn't about our new digs (that shall come too!). It's about how we sold the old ones. And, as you might expect, there were plenty of interesting lessons learned through the process. I have tried to synthesize them into a digestible 5.

Disclaimer: I am not a real estate agent. Also, this may not be true for every market. Houston (at the time of selling) was, more or less, a buyer's market. And, I will be the first to admit, we may have just gotten lucky. Which would make the below 5 lessons completely baseless. =)



Granted, interior design is clearly a hobby for this blogger and not everyone has the time or desire to decorate their space, but I imagine the staging of our house helped us A LOT. Beyond de-cluttering, I tried to make everything look as photogenic as possible. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest (certainly more than necessary) and that has taught me how to mimic styling that photographs well. My advice is to research what is popular there and try to mimic the photographic angles and styling that best fit your house decor. 

As an example, below are some images from previous listings. Compare those to our listing:


Which takes us to lesson two:






Whether you hire a photographer or take the images yourself, make sure you show off your home's best assets. You are best qualified to control this process - after all, you know every inch of your space - so don't be shy about requesting specific angles and views if you work with someone else. I chose to do the photography on my own. It required a small investment in a wide angle lens (you can find mine here) that cost about $320. 

What were our perceived best assets? For the living room, I wanted to show that it is 1) big (hence no rugs on the floor and the removal of some extra furniture) and 2) bright (I pulled up the blinds and used high exposure on the camera settings). For the bedroom, I wanted to show its 1) size (big enough) and 2) incredible organizational prowess (an Elfa closet system). For the master bathroom, I focused on the fact that it is 1) freshly remodeled and 2) funkily designed. For the kitchen, the selling points were the 1) miles-long granite countertops and 2) brand new appliances. 

Identify your top two selling points per space and make sure your photographs really show those off.

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...be smart about it.

When the house was originally purchased, the kitchen was in a rather pitiful shape: the floor tiles were cracked and poorly installed, the appliances were paying homage to the 1980's, the countertops were cracked and poorly installed tiles as well, and so on. Since we have more than 70 sq. ft. of countertops and cabinets to support them, the sheer size of this project was so intimidating that it held us off of ever tackling it.

After speaking with our realtor and researching the competition, it became obvious that something had to be done. The "a-ha" moment was when we realized that not EVERYTHING had to be done. So instead of demolishing the entire kitchen, we decided to simply upgrade its not-so-great parts - the floors, the counters and the few appliances that had not been upgraded yet. After we were done, we were stunned at what a huge difference it made. And sad that we hadn't done it earlier. Altogether, we were able to pull that off with less than $4,000. Money well spent!


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DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Use your local real estate website and see what you are up against. Your realtor should also help you with some further analysis on what has sold around you and for how long it was on the market. But being informed is a must - do not just rely on your realtor. This research should help you identify a two important things:

  • What to upgrade/renovate (as it did with our kitchen)
  • The price range that would be acceptable in the market

Always remember that your real estate agent is, yes, there to help and guide you along. But they also only get 3% of the selling price. $10,000 more or less in selling a house results in a mere $300 difference for their commission, but for you, the difference would be $9,700 more or less in your bank account. So, their incentive is to sell your house as fast as possible, which may sometimes result in a price suggestion that may be too low. For example, our realtor suggested that $229,000 will be the maximum we can ask for with our kitchen situation. After investing the above-mentioned $4,000 in our kitchen, I set the selling price at $249,000.

We had six offers (five of which were above asking price) in one day with us ultimately accepting $265,000. This tells us we still underpriced it! Always do your homework and look after your own interests.






So you have to make the best of it! The first week of a listing is critical for its success. If you have priced it well and your place stays on the market for more than a week, people will simply assume that there is something wrong with it. For that reason, if you can afford it, be patient. Only list your place after you have reviewed and approved ALL photos and ALL descriptions. Adding those later will simply deflate your ability to appear that you are in demand.

Also, chose your BEST image as your headliner. We had the option of using the outside shot (from above) or the living room. Most listings show the outside as it is the most logical first image - that's what you see first. We chose the living room instead because we knew that it has the power to capture attention. And the more people open your online listing, the more people are likely to show up, and the more offers you are likely to receive. It's purely a function of math. And it goes straight to the bottom line. 

And this is it, friends! I hope this was at least somewhat helpful to anyone who is about to embark on the scary process of selling their house for the first time. Good luck and let me know how things go in the comments!

We are on the market!

Living room on 1st floor

I cannot believe that we are here already... This home has been so loved and cared for. But it's time to hand it to someone else who will show it the same love and appreciation! 

We are on the market!

(Well, at least as of Monday :)

Living here has been so wonderful, and frankly, it will be hard to say goodbye. But at the very least, I gave this home one last push of loving. We just completed renovating the kitchen (see below!!) and, as you know, we recently re-did our master bathroom. The things you do not see here are the new roof, paint, window trim, power outlets, and so much more. Because we just cared for this place a LOT.

While we were working countless hours downstairs, the upstairs became an oasis away from the craziness. And for a neat freak like myself, looking at our organized closet just made me feel good, haha. Re: the shower curtain... Well, that's just coming with us because I like it way too much. Besides, our realtor believes some people wouldn't like it... (although I cannot imagine how that's possible at all :). 

And there it is! Our future ex-home, all nestled in our quiet cul-de-sac and ready for someone new to take care of. 

Large floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking private yard and gated common area

Now, back to packing :)

Posted on July 21, 2017 and filed under Design + DIY.

Some news...

Time to say goodbye, Houston!

Houston has been my home for nine years now... And Houston has been good: the people I've met, the relationships I've built, the food! This is the place where I had my first home away from home, with my family away from family.  This is where I found Chewie. And Robert. I'd like to think that this is the place where I have grown the most. Where I learned to be more patient, more kind, more generous... heck, I even learned to love running!

So, yes, Houston, you will be missed. But...

Your replacement is not too shabby either. World, we are moving to Washington, DC! And my oh my, does it feel like I am finally coming home! Our frequent visits to DC reminded me exactly how much I miss Bulgaria. The four seasons, the ability to walk everywhere, the crowds of international people, the plethora of foreign languages around you, the old buildings, the old world cafes and restaurants that invite you into their priceless sidewalk vistas for people-watching... there is so much to savor!

So stay tuned! As you might expect, a cross-country move is so much fun! And I hope to be able to tell you all about it! 

Now, back to packing and making sure this place is in tip-top shape for the market :)

Posted on July 8, 2017 and filed under Travel Diaries, Design + DIY.