Better late than never? Yes, I think so. Although we can technically say we're still celebrating the Lunar New Year (thank goodness there's two back-to-back new years for us).
2013 was a big year. Howard and I hit a lot of milestones and took many first steps together in our relationship. Normally, we would each share our top picks from the year, but since we had so many great ones, we thought we should share them together!
Chronologically speaking, 2013 started off great. As per tradition, we counted down with close friends and went out to try someplace new. Sure, the food wasn't great and the drunken atmosphere wasn't our scene, but we had fun that night! There were many Winterlicious experiences and dinner parties. Weeks passed and our close friends all introduced new additions to their family and to our group. These bundles of joy have cheered us up and we applauded them on their many small achievements (smiling, laughing, being able to hold Sophie the giraffe, flipping, sitting, and now they're moving from milk to other foods) throughout the months. What's more, Howard and I were blessed to be named godparents!
The summer went by in a blink and we continued our Summerlicious lunches and dinners. We finally went looking for a home and were taught many tough lessons from the real estate business. No such luck as we looked at tiny units after tiny units. How do people find affordable housing out there?
Autumn meant we would be embarking on our annual road trip to New York City. This year, we went on a macaron tour and feasted on some great desserts. Then, (even though I suspected it) Howard moved us into our next big step in our relationship by proposing in Central Park. Eeeee! Sparkly! Also during this trip, we found new favourite restaurants: Mile End Deli and Missions Chinese Food.
Back home, we answered many unanswerable questions about our upcoming wedding (which we still haven't started planning!) and continued our search for a place we could call home. Ladies and gentlemen, it did happen. We finally came across a place that we liked. Rushed to get a mortgage approved. Started looking for furniture and dreamed about future upgrades. Got our keys on the closing date. Cleaned the place from top to bottom. Waited for power to be restored and ice storms to pass. Settled disputes about parking spots, range microwaves, and cracked toilet tanks. S-l-o-w-l-y started to move in.
Tips for buying a home. Get a good real estate agent. You'll have many, many questions about the process and they should be able to answer everything to your satisfaction. Get pre-approved for a mortgage first. We were in no rush to buy and was casually looking at listings that we thought we would like, but when it came time to finalize the offer, you'll want that mortgage ready! Check and double check for anything that may need to be fixed or replaced before closing. Use your viewings and visits wisely. Get a good lawyer!!! We found our lawyer to be terrible at communicating with us and answering questions - they didn't seem to understand that first-time buyers need clarification sometimes!
So as you can see, we managed to keep ourselves busy from December to January. Sorry for the silence and lack of posts here! But so many great things have happened and we couldn't have done this without the support of our family and friends. Seriously. We want to thank everyone for their housewarming gifts and even tokens of congratulations for our engagement and new place.
Sprinkles in the Southwest Giveaway
In efforts to keep the New Year joy going, I'm also hosting a giveaway for two cookbooks written by two fellow bloggers. One sweet and one savoury. Let me know in the comments below which one you'd like to win before midnight on Sunday, February 23, 2014. US and Canada only (sorry international friends).
Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts by Jackie Alpers
The New Southwest by Meagan Micozzi
UPDATE: Congratulations to Stephanie, winner of The New Southwest. Congratulations to Dominique, winner of Sprinkles! Please check your inbox for an e-mail from me.