Posts tagged #home

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.

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.

New hobby alert... (plus T-2 weeks until vacation!)

A few months ago, one of my favorite friends invited me to join her at a calligraphy class for her birthday. Little did either of us know that this tiny act of awesomeness on her part would result in my latest hobby/obsession. Enter... the theme of all of 2015's holiday gift-giving and entertaining: a personalized note/card/packaging/placecard/ornament/anything-you-can-think-of with Katya's calligraphy and your name on it. Genius! 

Today, I present you with four similar but kind of different calligraphic options for placing your guests at your holiday table. All said and done, it came down to two general options for my table: either a card with my guest's name in calligraphy on it, or an ornament my guests can take home with their name in calligraphy on it (riveting difference, no?). I think I like both but I especially like the idea of the ornament because it can become a wonderful keepsake that will remind your family of you for years to come (as if they needed further reminding... :).

Here was my craft supplies list:

  • Glass Christmas ornaments (you can get similar ones here). 
  • Metallic calligraphy markers (similar ones found here).
  • Gold twine (mine is from TJ Maxx but here is a similar one). 
  • Leftover card stock.
  • Leftover winter greens.
  • "Mad" lettering skills (make sure you sign up for Kristara's wonderful class that started it all :) 

And now that I know how I'll decorate the table, I should probably get back to the basics (such as Christmas shopping).  I am ashamed to admit that I haven't even started that yet. And we are getting dangerously close to Christmas. These two weeks ahead will probably prove to be maddeningly busy. And oh-so-joyful! :) 

Speaking of which, time to get moving. Happy Sunday and have a great week, everyone!

Posted on December 6, 2015 and filed under Design + DIY.

Out with the old and in with the new! Well, sort of...

There is a first for everything! And this self-proclaimed designer had one of those just this week: my very first reupholstery project! And you must be thinking that this is going to be one of the most epic DIY posts on this blog, right? 

Yeah... Wrong. I think it is safe to say that reupholstering is never going to be my area of DIY expertise. It's just too overwhelmingly hard! I think I must be admitting to another first here, by the way: owning up to something I am unable to do...

But back to the project! I have had this very interesting orange chair for a few years. It is sort of an egg chair replica, but not quite. Major differences include price (the cheapest egg chair costs more than $6,000 and this chair was technically free - it came with the house), the seams (mine sports quite a few more seams making it far easier to reupholster but quite less cool) and, I dare say, comfort (I think my chair is clearly the winner here, merely a result of more seams and thus more cushioning). 

The only problem was that it looked like this... (And, oh, hey there, dad!). 

(A little side note here: let's just agree that taste is an ever-evolving thing... So, hey, hold back your kind judgment on my lapses of design judgment from 8 years ago :) (e.g. dear Ikea footstool, I am sure you sounded like a great idea back then but black velvet and two pets just don't gel well!). 

So, as you can see, the chair had some gorgeous lines and some seriously awful color. Therefore, for the last 6 years, it hid upstairs. That is, until my most recent living room rearrangement, during which I moved my two (replica) Barcelona chairs in front of my large windows thus effectively removing all sitting furniture from my sitting area other than my sofa.

My initial thought was to proceed with procuring a brand new piece of furniture. But three to four failed almost $1,000 purchases later, I decided I can be smarter about this. Enter this thought: "What about that orange chair?" Yup, the seed was planted and so I started thinking... If I were to reupholster the chair... what color would it be? Hmmm.... Options, please?

I love having options :). And I took this one to a vote (because I couldn't make up my mind). Everyone overwhelmingly voted for number three. And since I clearly spoiled the surprise by having a picture of the chair at the beginning, you have probably noticed that I picked none of the above. To be fair, I had every intention of going with the popular cognac color. But something quickly dawned on me as I was going through the piles of fabric at High Fashion Home. That all of these designs assumed white floors! What about my awesome rich wooden floors underneath? Yeah, that will quickly get you to a nice brown overload. Which led me to selecting the very polar opposite instead: a creamy and soft white: 

A few key things I had to consider (aka lessons learned) when picking the fabric. First, stretch. In reupholstering such crazy shapes as this chair's, one should always go for fabric that has just a bit of stretch in it. I didn't (mistake!). But thankfully, it was a mistake I didn't have to deal with (see there? outsourcing is always a smart option). Second? The type of fabric. In my experience, microfiber is the only fabric that can stand up to both having a dog and a cat (and as you can tell, Rebel is already taking a liking to his new digs). And last, but not least, price. There's always a possibility for a bargain - you just have to look long enough (e.g. about three hours in the fabric section of the store). I needed 8 yards for this project and I found the perfect fabric buried way, way back that was $15.99/yard with a healthy 50% off. A total steal!

So, there... for the small price of $265 ($200 for labor plus $65 for fabric), I got myself a gorgeous classic chair to my color and fabric liking. And even though it may be an oldie, we certainly taught this chair some new tricks, don't you think??

Happy inspired Monday!

Posted on September 21, 2015 and filed under Design + DIY.

The power of a power wash...

Let's chalk it up to Houston weather and/or the local flora... but I am sad/slightly ashamed to admit that my patio had not seen a lot of love from me these past few winters. Namely, mold seemed to had found its way onto my beautiful (well, used-to-be-beautiful) concrete pavers for what appeared to be an eternity...

This stunning "marble-like" feature on my pavers is not intentional. At all... Compare the above to my gorgeous pavers circa 2010:

Yeah, I miss those too. Granted, 5 years can make any outdoor feature feel unhappy and neglected, right? Indeed! Until this happened... 

Bam! Hello, borrowed power washer! How mighty are you? Well, since you ask Katya, I am exactly 1,900 PSI mighty (is what my friend's power washer would have said). What a difference! And as I was washing each paver, inch by inch, a few things were flowing through my head (I had plenty of time to have things flow through my head: these took a good 2 hours to clean!)...

First? This stuff is addicting! Such instant gratification is rare to find. Ingenious ideas on what else I can power wash included... The outside of my brick house? The furniture? The plants? The dog? Just kidding. But I wanted to do it all. So much so, that I did end up power washing the entire common area of my HOA (e v e r y    s i n g l e    b r i c k). 

Second? I was wondering what would be the most efficient way to wash a 2'x2' paver... Straight line? Zig-zag? Circular motions? Random motions? Writing your name on it? I tried it all. I should have timed it all too but I feared that timing it would erase any time advantage I would gain from being efficient (I told you I had time to think). 

Third? I need to invest in one of these for a permanent use.. 

So... what does this exercise leave me with? One heck of a clean slate ;) But more on that soon! Happy Sunday!


Posted on August 9, 2015 and filed under Design + DIY.

The gift that keeps on giving...

This year, my family shattered every record of thoughtfulness, selflessness, and generosity. Or, perhaps they just finally gave in to the years of constant and unashamed nagging and/or begging? My birthday gift (among other things) was a set of unique original prints by our favorite Bulgarian artist, Kolio Karamfilov. To many (most), this may not mean much. But my family knew exactly how incredibly meaningful this would be to me - we have been collecting his oil paintings and prints for years yet I have always been drawn to these particular prints because of their stunning color, texture, and storytelling. Not sure if they would speak to you as much...but here is a glimpse:

So what is one to do with such a precious gift? Display it, of course! Enter, challenge of the year - how to not spend an arm and a leg but still pay the deserved homage to these amazing pieces of art. Ordinarily, framing and matting 12 prints of this size can easily run north of $1,600. But sometimes, something as equally as respectful (I hope) would be to save some of your hard-earned cash and put plenty of sweat equity into it instead, right? Right.

First, there was the matter of purchasing 12 frames. Each print is a good 11"x15" so it required a substantially large frame too. As much as I liked CB2's picture frame for the humble price of $69.95ea (x12 = $720 + tax and shipping), I just knew that Ikea may have the answer instead. And boy was I correct! Look at what I found.. the perfect frames for a mere $14.99 ea! Those were quickly stacked into my cart. Next? Matting. Gulp. 

Here is where you are probably thinking... Katya, they all look the same. Well, perhaps it appears this way. And yup, this was merely the final selection! I must have gone through a good 100+ white/grey/beige colors and textures. But I was so very picky in order to make sure the matboard would not distract from admiring the art. Which was a fun exercise until I inquired about the price... The one I had picked (the last image above) would have cost me a good $80 per frame (doing some simple math again, x12 = $960).

Well, I found that to be outrageous. So I went to an art supply store instead. The real kind of art supply store. Hello, Texas Art Supply! And how conveniently located are you... on my way home from a disastrous matboard shopping (non)spree! 12 gigantic sheets of matboard of the exact same color I had picked (at the insane price of $4.95 ea), a matboard cutter (for less than $80) and some non-acetic tape later (for a total of $146), I had the look on my face that must have read something along the lines of... "I may have not done my own matting since college, but that has never stopped me before!!" And to be fair, I did not have to sacrifice much to get this done - I only lost the feeling in my right hand for about a week. And check out this sharp professional edge!

And here are my lovely prints all nicely hanging and organized. Well, just kidding. If you were to count, you'd notice that there are only 10 of them on the wall. As it turns out, placing 12 prints together takes up a LOT of real estate. I did my best... 2 of these lovelies are now hanging on the wall lining my staircase. 

And because I find the technique and detail of these prints so astonishing, I wanted to share a couple of close-ups... Just stunning.

And, of course, what is a piece of art installation without its admirers...

I hope I did these prints justice. I cannot be prouder, luckier or happier to be able to display them in my home. And I get to enjoy them every singe day. Truly, the gift that keeps on giving! 

Posted on August 2, 2015 and filed under Design + DIY.

Home: Where Old and New Live Happily Ever After

When you love something, every time you come back to it, it feels like you never left and you find something new to love about it... And my hometown Plovdiv has been undergoing a sort of Renaissance in the past few years which makes it even more interesting to visit: old ruins learning new tricks, playful modern novelties throughout, and art and culture beaming at every corner. What I love the most about Plovdiv though is how all of these seemingly contradicting things about it live so easily together.

So, here is a quick look at the old (Plovdiv's Roman stadium that housed more than 30,000 spectators; Plovdiv's Roman amphitheater which is still a home to nightly performances and houses a good 5,000 people; the main cathedral; Plovdiv's City Hall; the Main Street; and sights from the Old Town from the 19th century):

And here's a look at some of the new the city has to offer (a sign celebrating Plovdiv's selection to be European culture capital for 2019; some gorgeous murals I came across and a look at the lovely decor of a restaurant I visited):

Happy Sunday! 

Posted on June 28, 2015 and filed under Travel Diaries.