Mimosas in Texas

Back at it – Updates & Happenings

SO, I took a couple few of months to myself.

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything recently, and well, that’s because I’ve been doing the things I love to do! The past few months have been filled with visiting with friends, going back to my Alma Matter, traveling to Tennessee to see my family, some house projects, raising our crazy puppy, starting new workout programs, and working hard at my job – which I love. All things that take time, and require all of my attention. So, blogging about those things has kind of taken a back seat.

BUT I now have so much to write about and to share with you! Over the next few weeks I will have lots of fun home project posts (we finally got our countertops and backsplash YAY), fitness updates and information to share, and I hope that you enjoy all of it! Here’s a start:

UPDATES AND HAPPENINGS

In September

we went to Smith Mountain Lake for our annual Labor Day Weekend trip. It was a beautiful weekend full of laughter, tears, and flip cup. We coined a new phrase for what happens when we all get together after not seeing each other after so long: “Tears and Tequila.” Once we got the sentimental catching up out of the way, the weekend was great and we had a fun time boating and hanging out. It was also fun to have a bunch of added puppies this year!

Then we went up to DC for Matt and Alex’s wedding. It was GORGEOUS and we had a great time dancing the night away in celebration of some great friends!

The rest of September was really spent relaxing. We did a lot of small home improvement things like replacing some ceiling fans, putting the french doors in the sunroom and some yard work. Yard work is literally so easy to underestimate as both a task and a workout – happy we don’t have to do it in the winter months!

In October

I started off with another round of 21 Day Fix Extreme. I was loving the harder program, feeling good and getting excited for the fun month ahead that I had planned.

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Mid-October I was all set to fly to Houston to see one of my best friends, I knew the trip would include lots of indulging in delicious mexican food, and consuming lots of wine and whiskey.

It did, and it was so so so much fun. But the last day I was there I started feeling like death. I had an awful migraine that I thought was a result of a weekend of drinking and having an allergic reaction to Kelsey’s cats (who I could not resist petting), but in reality it was a nasty viral infection that resulted in me having to fly from Houston to Richmond with a 102 fever. It sucked. I realized that the Houston trip was the longest I’d gone before without drinking my Shakeology. Coincidence? IDK but I DO know that I won’t be leaving it behind on trips anymore.

Then Goodman and  I had my cousins wedding in Tennessee the following weekend. Their wedding was beautiful, and it was so great to see family after so long.

Kendra & Lia's Wedding
Kendra & Lia’s Wedding Reception

It was also June’s first long road trip! She did great, and even had some remarks on Goodman’s driving as you can see in my snap story.

The weekend after that I had planned to stay with friends and go to JMU’s Homecoming game. The weather was beautiful, I got to see and hug so many old friends and meet some new ones!
I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to go to a JMU Homecoming game after graduation, and definitely won’t be missing any in the future. My friends and I already have a list of things to do next year that we learned lessons about this year. Hint: get a dang hotel room, bring two outfits depending on the weather, and make sure that you get to the parking lot before the officer randomly decides it’s too full (even when you have a reserved parking spot).

 

JMU Homecoming
JMU Homecoming Tailgate

It was a very busy month, and full of so much fun and seeing lots of friends, but it was also really stressful and totally knocked me off of my normal schedule: Sunday grocery store trip and meal prepping, working out in the mornings before work and around lunchtime on the weekends, and drinking my Shakeology for breakfast every morning. I felt WAY off track and like I needed to reset.

 

So, naturally, Beachbody has a cure for that with this thing called the 3 Day Refresh. It’s a cleansing program, and I tried it! I survived all three days. You can read about what happened and how hangry I got here!

 

November and December

were filled with lots of great food, a 5k with my friends, a new workout program that I am in LOVE with (Shout out Core De Force!), finally getting our kitchen finished (blog post to come!) and Goodman and I planning and purchasing our first trip to EUROPE! 2017 is set to be an amazing year!!! Stay tuned!

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Does a 3 day cleanse really work? I tried it. Here’s what happened.

So, I went ahead and purchased Beachbody’s 3 Day Refresh before I left for a fun weekend of eating tailgating food and drinking lots of beer. I planned to do it when I got back.
It’s a three day cleanse that is gluten, sugar, coffee, meat, and dairy free for three whole days. *Cue fear of missing carbs and lattes*
It includes a very detailed timeline full of fruits and veggies, protein shakes, and a fiber sweep each day in order to cleanse your body of everything to the best of it’s ability in just 72 hours. Here’s what happened.

PREPPING AND PLANNING:

The kit comes with all of the shakes you need and the a planning guide that helps you plan out exactly when and what you are supposed to eat and drink for all three days. It also had recipes for dinner for the three nights and ingredient lists… pretty straight forward.
I planned to just go ahead and make the same thing all three days/nights so that I wouldn’t have to buy so many ingredients and made a list, went to the grocery store, came home and packed my lunch for day one.

DAY ONE

Day one schedule
The HARDEST thing was starting off the day with no coffee. If you know me, you know that black coffee with a little stevia in it is ESSENTIAL to my everyday life….like 3 cups of it. The refresh said only tea, so I was slurping down big mugs of tea in the morning trying to get all of the caffeine that I could.
I found it REALLY hard to finish all of the liquids I had to drink in the morning: Water, Shakeology, Tea, Fiber Sweep, Tea, More Water… I made so many trips to pee during the day it was ridiculous.
The fiber sweep is literally DISGUSTING, and on this first day I couldn’t even finish it. They mean it when they say that you have to chug it immediately because it basically turns into a sand + water consistency after 3 minutes. I ended up drinking as much as I could without throwing up and then drinking a bunch of water right after. Not fun.
Then it was time for my Vanilla fresh shake. I brought my NutriBullet to work so that I could blend it and felt really awkward loudly blending a shake for lunch. A couple people asked me if I thought it was happy hour  – HAHA I wish – pretty much the opposite. But, the shake was actually pretty good with the strawberries blended in.
By about 12:30 I had finished the shake and eaten my first “meal”, consumed all of those liquids and was feeling surprisingly full. Then, when it was time for my lunch (peppers and hummus.) I ate the snack and felt even more full which was a pleasant surprise considering I was expecting to feel like I could eat a horse by that time during the day.
But at about 4:30, the hunger really set in. I was definitely hangry. Not to mention that I decided to start this cleanse THE DAY AFTER halloween. There were so many snacks and so much candy everywhere, so I just want to say I’m really proud of myself for not cheating and having any. I literally did not even eat one M&M. I persevered.
As soon as I got home I made dinner. I was so hungry, I had to eat before my scheduled time. I followed all of the instructions, and cooked the veggies (Broccoli, Carrots and Cauliflower cooked in water and coconut oil) and added my own seasoning. It was delicious.
My veggie dinner
My coconut veggie dinner
Turns out I used lemon pepper seasoning that did actually have a little bit of sugar in it, but hey, I still stuck to the meal plan 100% otherwise… so I’m not counting it. 🙂
After literally licking my bowl clean, I drank some La Croix, which helped make me feel full for a little while. Around 9pm, I felt super tired and like I was going to end up snacking, so I just made myself prep the next day’s food and then went to bed.

DAY TWO

I overslept, and felt SO groggy. Almost hungover – It was really strange. I drank the water that I was supposed to drink as soon as I woke up, and went downstairs to make my shakeology, drank it, hopped in the shower super quick, and then tried to rush to work.
This day ended up being an abnormally busy day for me with meetings, so I found it SUPER hard to stay on schedule. BUT I think it was a little easier on this day because I was really distracted with work. I had to compromise on the schedule a bit, and consequently had a feast of a lunch (comparatively): fiber sweep (chugged it this time and drank all of it), vanilla fresh shake, combined the strawberries with my spinach and oil, and then tea.
Around 3pm I had my peppers and hummus, and I think having it later helped me not feel so hangry at the end of the day.
Got home, made my meal, felt SO tired, and fell asleep on the couch around 8:45 HAHA. Not having coffee and limiting my calorie intake really impacted my energy levels, obviously.

DAY THREE

I had to meal prep in the morning in a rush because I had fallen asleep on the couch the night before, so I ended up cutting everything as I ate it at work this day.
Day three was also a really busy day at work, which, again, helped distract me, but I will say that this was probably the easiest day of the three. My stomach didn’t growl, I started to get used to everything, and I knew how to space out my meals as a result from the days before.
After the busy day, I went home, had my final veggie skillet meal, and debated celebrating early with a drink or snack, but decided not to.
I weighed myself that night and was really bloated so I weighed more than when I started. That was disappointing, but expected, given that my body was still digesting and getting all of the bad stuff (cough, Halloween candy, cough). I thought I’d weigh again in the morning to see if there was a big difference after I had actually digested everything.
There definitely was. In the morning I weighed in at 113.4!!!!! That was three pounds down in three days. I took after pictures and compared them with the ones I took the night before I started the three days and noticed a pretty big difference. The bloat was gone and I just felt really clean…dare I say REFRESHED! Here are the pictures for proof.

RECAP

I would totally do this again. It was pretty great to do it right before starting a new program, because it was great motivation to KEEP eating well and not have to start over again. That being said, I definitely indulged in a nice big chicken sandwich the next day for lunch (I don’t think I could ever say goodbye to chicken…or bread), but it’s about moderation and educating yourself of the foods you put into your body. 
If I have a special event in the future (vacations, weddings, etc.) I know I will be doing this in prep for it. It was a great way to keep my mind focused and determined and it felt good to know that I had completed the three days wholly, and and in a healthy way without cheating!
If you want to try it, let me know! The 3 Day Refresh only costs about $60! If for nothing else, do it to challenge yourself and learn about your body and better appreciate the food that you put into it! I certainly look at labels and ingredients much more closely now.
Reach out to me to learn more via Facebook, text, or email at kristenmduke@gmail.com! 😃

We bought a house [and here’s how we did it]

So, lets start from the beginning.

Working on the Quarters

When Goodman and I were engaged and looking for a wedding venue his parents agreed to let us have our wedding on their land, behind this cute little cottage. They call it The Guest Quarters – we always call it The Quarters for short. They had slowly been working on the cottage ever since I met them in 2011. The agreement was that we had to help them finish the cottage in order to use it for the wedding.

Over the 9 months that we were engaged, we spent a wholleeeee lot of weekends working on the house. Together with his parents, we did everything from building, staining, and painting the stairs to helping put the cabinets and appliances in the kitchen. [To clarify, all I was really ever given permission to do was paint – lots and lots (and lots) of painting. I don’t think they trusted me to do much else and I totally don’t blame them – Goodman was much better than I was. But, I like to think that I know a little bit more about what I’m doing with power tools now :)]

We started to love going to the house on Friday, working all weekend, and standing back to admire our work in the afternoon on Sunday before heading back to Richmond. Eventually, it was weird if we took a weekend off because the whole time we just felt like we were late to something or like there was something more useful we should be doing.

Then June 13th, 2015 came along and we had the best day ever. It was SO COOL to get ready in the house with all my bridesmaids, get married in the field behind the house, and then stay there the night of our wedding. It’s even more cool that we get to go back there and stay in our honeymoon suite all the time! And, even cooler than that, people come and stay there and enjoy time with their friends and family now as Butch, my father-in-law and Sharon my mother-in-law allow it to be rented on VRBO. People leave comments in this little notebook that they leave in the kitchen and  everyone who writes in it talks about how much love the feel in the house. It really warms my heart.

K&G-24

After the wedding it was great to have a nice long honeymoon and catch up on some much needed sleep. But, after a couple of lazy weekends, we were like…. “What do we do now?!” We had all of this energy and were so used to getting up at 7:30/8 in the morning on Saturday and Sunday. We spent the summer leisurely doing things we said we’d been wanting to do, and then one day while we were driving around we saw a sign for an open house. We decided to hop out and tour it, and talked to the realtor there who mentioned some different loan options for first-time homebuyers.

Starting the research

I eventually posted something on Facebook asking friends for helpful information on Richmond neighborhoods and about how we may be looking into starting our home search. A friend referred a loan officer who suggested we attend his first-time homebuyers seminar, so we went! Afterward, we set up a meeting to talk with him about what next steps in the home buying process might look like. We were purely doing this out of boredom, honestly, and didn’t really think we’d be ready to actually buy a house anytime soon.

Going into that meeting, we expected to be told that we were on track to be able to buy a house in the next couple of years. But, we left with an official letter that allowed us to make an offer on a house. We were really surprised and super excited!

Basically, we learned that if you make enough to comfortably pay rent in the city or fan of Richmond (or any city, really) then you are probably able to buy a house, too. As long as you look for houses that are in the range that will put you at about the same price as the rent you are paying (which is what we did) then you’ll likely be approved. Your loan officer will crunch the numbers for you to tell you exactly what that range is.

This is obviously also dependent on your credit, the stability of your job, etc. But it does not hurt to talk to a loan officer to get recommendations and information about your specific situation. (See the end of this post to get in touch with our L.O., Kenny)

Starting the actual search

Sharon is a realtor, so we asked her if she’d be our realtor and show us around some houses that we were interested in on Zillow. She agreed and came up to richmond a couple of Saturdays in a row to tour homes. A bunch of duds later ,we found one that we thought had potential. We made an offer, negotiated, and eventually our offer was accepted!

Then came the home inspection. Unfortunately, there are so many people out there who think they know what it means to flip a house. (I love you, but I blame you, HGTV.) This particular house was purchased by one of those people, and he hired a bunch of people to renovate the home who were likely unlicensed and definitely did not know what they were doing. The brand new roof was put on completely wrong! Wrong, as in, every single shingle (say that five times fast) was put on the roof incorrectly and you could tell that they weren’t even using the right tools for the job.

Side note: please please please if you ever have serious work that you need to get done on your house, or if there is a project that requires skills that you do not currently have, don’t try to learn it on youtube. You really should hire a professional contractor. They will get it done in much less time than it would take you, and it will be licensed, permitted, and done right the first time.

We were upset because we knew that we should let the home go – thanks to our realtor knowing her stuff, she was able to pretty easily get us out of the contract due to the poor inspection.

A couple of weeks later the exact same thing happened again. Much to our disappointment, a cape cod that we loved that had also been flipped had a basement wall that was practically about to cave-in but you would never have been able to tell by looking at it. We had to let that one go, too.

Finding the one

About a month later we set up a Saturday full of house tours with Sharon. At the end of the day we had to make a decision on whether or not to go to the last house on our list. It was a house that was listed for about $20,000 over what we wanted to spend and they didn’t provide any pictures on Zillow. I was going to say no, but Goodman said “Why not, let’s just go check it out.”

So we went, and I am so so happy that we did!  We absolutely fell in love. We had no idea anything close to our budget would get us this much space or this many bathrooms! The house was listed as 1578 square feet, but we could tell when we walked in that it was more than that. We later found out during the home inspection that the square footage was recorded closer to 1800sq.ft so we have no idea why they only listed it at the 1578. But, this may have deterred some potential buyers from the home before we found it, so we aren’t complaining!

Closing the deal

The home was a foreclosure, and miraculously, we were able to work with the bank to get them down to our budget. On the day of negotiations after almost 8 months on the market, another person decided to make an offer as well (or so they said). But, because we came first and had a counter-offer in our hand from the bank, we had the ability to accept the bank’s offer and win the house.

When it was time for the home inspection we were super nervous given our previous experiences with the other two homes falling through at that stage. The H.I. said that we needed to replace the attic pull-down steps and a board in the deck……that was it. WE WERE SO HAPPY! Sharon was able to get the bank to fix those things AND get them to pay our closing costs – it was great.

We closed on Dec. 15th, 2015 and have been renovating ever since.

I was able to find and screenshot some of the pictures that a realtor took on another website. They are a bit blurry, but you can see them below!

A final word

  • Don’t be scared to meet with a loan officer to find out where you stand. It can only help you plan for the future and make some smart financial decisions. But, make sure you choose a L.O. that you can relate to – our L.O. was around our age, and I think that allowed our relationship to work a lot better throughout the process. Shout out to Kenny Fryman of TowneBank Mortgage!
  • Hire a great home inspector and stick with him. – Look at reviews online and you’ll be able to find a good one. This is really the most important part of home buying in my opinion. We used Cranor Inspection Services – the House Whisperer.
  • If you are renovating – hire an actual contractor to do the big stuff. It could cause you not to be able to sell your house in the future if it isn’t done properly! Contact Goodman B Duke, General Contractor Inc. if you need help with that! 😉
  • Make sure your realtor knows their stuff – the fact that Sharon did know her stuff helped us get out of the bad houses and save a lot of money on our final purchase. Thanks Sharon Duke of William A. Cooke LLC!