Finding your team after a move

29 January 2014

Hello, friends. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Monday’s post. I was sad to hear how many of you have dealt with homesickness, but also not surprised — it seems like very few people our age live in the same place they grew up, wouldn’t you say?

A few of you asked me to write about making friends in a new place. While I would love to tackle that topic, I have to think some more on whether I actually have anything useful to share. I feel like we lucked into our friends down here, which is not a very replicable strategy! But I will think on it.


In the meantime, I wanted to touch on a different related subject, and one that is a little cheerier: how to find “your people” after a move. Nope, not your friend people — your service provider people! Moving to North Carolina was the first time I really had to search for a whole new roster of talented professionals — I went to college only two hours from home, so I kept the same hair gal, doctor, etc. throughout undergrad. To be honest, I kept many of them for our first few years after the move, and just scheduled a full slate of appointments for my trips home!! But eventually it got old to be filling my time up North with appointments instead of fun, and I realized that if I were to get sick, it would be better to already have a doctor than to try and find one while feverish.

Over the last five years, I’ve found a guy or gal in almost every category, but some were easier than others! And each seemed to come via a different route. A sampling:

— Hair stylist: Friend recommendation. Tried two other places before settling on this one!
— Ob/Gyn: Yelp, of all places! I started out by asking for friend recommendations, but some weren’t terribly happy with their current provider, and others were located too far from me to be practical. My doctor got glowing reviews on Yelp, so I decided to take a chance, and have been so happy with him! (Yes, him! Didn’t see that one coming, either.)
— Realtor: Friend recommendation
— Vet: Google
— Eye doctor: Yelp again!

This isn’t really meant as an advice post, but written more out of curiosity. If you, too, had to replace your pros, how did you find your new ones? Anyone else have surprisingly good luck with Yelp?!

P.S. If anyone wants my Triangle recommendations, I’m happy to share!

The cure for homesickness

27 January 2014

I don’t think I’ve written about it much (ever?) here, but when I first moved to North Carolina, I was miserable. Actually, just to make you feel better about yourself if you’re currently suffering from a severe case of homesickness, let me be clear: every day when I came home from work, I would cry through dinner. For a month. The only thing I wanted to discuss on our evening walks was our plan for moving back to Connecticut — how, and how quickly it could happen. I hated NC and the town we lived in, I missed my family and my friends horribly, I found starting a new job ridiculously stressful, I couldn’t stand the July heat… the list goes on.

A lovely reader emailed me last fall to ask if I could write a post about how I got over my homesickness. I feel badly that it’s taken me so long to do so, but the truth is that even now, after almost five years, the memory is still a bit raw. Thankfully, it has much, much softer edges, and I hope this post might be an encouragement to any of you who are going through something similar. My best tips for curing homesickness, accompanied by pictures of our cats, because everything is better with cats:


1. Have a support system. I almost feel bad for writing this one, because if I hadn’t had John by my side, I don’t think any of these other tips would have done the trick. But, it needs to be said. Keeping in mind that it was MY job opportunity we had uprooted and moved for, it’s nearly unbelievable to me how kindly and stoic-ly he tolerated my complaining and wailing, commiserating without joining in on my NC-bashing fests. He fed me dinner every night (even if I cried through it), and never once made me feel guilty about my opportunity even though he was dealing with his own homesickness. He was, and is, my hero. Maybe it’s not your boyfriend — it could be your Mom or Dad or your best friend. But please, find a patient soul who will love you and listen to you, for as long as it takes.


2. Get your internet hooked up ASAP. A practical tip! Make arrangements for your internet to be hooked up the day you move in, if possible. Though in reality it was a week at most, it seemingly took eons for our internet connection to get hooked up after we moved in. In those extremely fragile first few days, it was almost more than my stressed-to-the-limit heart could take to have to go to the library to use the internet (we didn’t have smart phones back then). Why did I need to use the internet? Aside from simple things like looking up how to get places, the internet was the easiest way to connect with faraway loved ones. My family started a private blog the week before our move, and chronicling our first days and weeks in a new place was a great way for me to vent. It also was more efficient than calling four family members every night to give four separate rundowns on my sorry state. When you’re spending a lot of time crying, you need to be efficient in other areas of your life :)


3. Find a church. It took us a few weeks, but finding a church we loved was the first tiny step toward feeling like we belonged in NC. We still attend the first church we tried, so our search was easier than most, but even though we didn’t know anyone at church, feeling like we had somewhere to go every week, somewhere down here that we identified with and felt a part of, was a huge turning point for us.

4. Concentrate on the good parts. Easier said than done, my friends. And it took me a long time to take my own advice. I was so busy hating our new town for everything it wasn’t (charming, historic, familiar, near the water, moderately temperatured) that I had no time to appreciate it for what it was (new, filled with stores I used to have to drive an hour to, close to the airport, surrounded by amazing city centers). It’s not that I’ve lost my love for New England, just that, over time, I’ve grown to appreciate the GOOD things about where we live.


5. Get out there. Of course, until I started experiencing those good things, it was hard to appreciate them. Despite our depressed state, we made everyday adventures a priority, discovering more and more things to love about NC along the way. Use the tips in this post if you need help — getting out of your house/apartment and doing something fun instead of moping/sulking is key.

6. Get a pet. I’m serious. Until we got our cats, going back to NC after a visit to our families was nothing but misery — but once we had two little fur friends waiting for us, “home” started to feel a little more like home.

To return to the title of this post, in my experience, the only real “cure” for homesickness is time. Hopefully, the rest of these suggestions will make the wait a bit easier. One other thought that might help? Homesickness only exists because the people and places you’re leaving behind are so well-loved. Reminding myself of this didn’t always work, but it’s worth a try :)

I would love to hear: Have you ever up and moved somewhere completely new? Have you ever experienced intense homesickness? If so, what helped you cure it?

P.S. I don’t have anything about friends on here because making friends was an entirely separate issue for us than curing homesickness. If you can believe it, it took us even longer :) Perpetually jealous of those, like my younger sister, who make friends at the drop of a hat!

New kitchen pendant lights!

22 January 2014

The light fixtures in our house are perfectly serviceable, but they are also not exactly our style. I guess you could call them “builder fancy”? (The upgrade from builder basic achieved via faux wrought iron detailing.) We knew we wanted to switch out almost all of the downstairs fixtures eventually, but I wanted to move slowly because a) it’s an expensive undertaking and b) our downstairs is pretty much one big open room, so all of the fixtures have to work together. We do now have a rough plan, and so have proceeded with step one!

But first, here’s the before:



For the pendant lights over the breakfast bar, we wanted something bright and that took up very little visual real estate. The fixture over the dining room table is very close by and will eventually be a larger statement piece, so we didn’t want them to compete. I first came upon the idea of the glass funnel lights after seeing Courtney’s kitchen (which you know I love):



I like that they’re clean and modern but kind of classic at the same time. John was worried that they’d be too bright since they’re clear glass, but we decided that if we hung them a bit higher than eye level, we’d be okay. The lit-up example in the store helped convince us they wouldn’t be blinding, as well.

Once everyone was on board, we picked out these ones from Home Depot (the pewter finish, which is not available online), and waited patiently until we received them as a Christmas gift (thanks, Mom + Dad!!).

I was SO excited to see that Young House Love ended up using the exact same pendant in their kitchen! Even better, they posted a step by step tutorial for hanging, which was the main reason we didn’t electrocute ourselves during install.



I also found this example, which is just gorgeous:


Maine Home Design

And here’s our version!



The chandelier you can see in the above photo will be next to go! We’re very happy with this light + bright change, and proud to have some electrical work under our belts! :)

California dreaming

20 January 2014

It’s official: John and I have booked our plane tickets for California! It’s going to be our big trip of the year, and we are very excited! We’re flying into Los Angeles and then driving up the Pacific Coast Highway. We’ll head east for two days to explore Yosemite, then finish up in San Francisco for two days before flying back to the East Coast.

As thrilled as we are, the planning has actually been a bit stressful so far. As opposed to, say, our Nevis honeymoon, where we were staying on the same small island for seven days and could have done little advance planning and still had almost every option available to us when we arrived, there are SO many decisions that need to be made months ahead of time for this trip. And there are SO many amazing things to do and restaurants to try and places to stay that we’re feeling the pressure of choosing the BEST ones. Of course, it’s also a large financial outlay, so we want to feel we’re making the most of the money we’re spending. Finally, since we live on the East Coast, a trip like this is far less easily repeated than, say, a trip to New England or Florida, so we’re trying to check off as many things as possible — possibly too many things.

When conversation snarled over whether to stay in Santa Barbara or Montecito last night (oh the difficult choices!), we had to take a step back and laugh — and remind ourselves that no matter what we do, even if we simply drive from point A to point B, it’s going to be a breathtakingly beautiful trip, and well worth our time and expense. And whenever we need a reminder, there are plenty of lovely photos to dream over, like these of Ojai from the Sweet Thing blog (a great recommendation from Meredith!)…









Jessie grew up in Ojai and shares beautiful photos from her travels back home. Doesn’t it look like a magical place?

Though we probably don’t need any more information (ha!), I’d love to hear your recommendations for the stretch of California coast from LAX to SFO. At the moment, we’re planning to spend one night in Montecito, one in Cayucos, one in Big Sur, one in Monterrey or Carmel, two in Yosemite, and two in San Francisco!