I've long loved a good bruschetta, preferably over a table surrounded by girlfriends with a side of Diet Coke, but more often than not these days, it is consumed in my barefoot on a lazy Sunday afternoon. My favorite bruschetta of all time was from a restaurant called Sauce. It's a fast casual place that we frequent often and I always have to order their Caprese Bruschetta...sometimes I'll share it, most often times I won't.
I loved it so much that one day I determined to make a copy cat. They serve theirs on a big slice of french bread, which they slice for easy consumption, naturally I fashioned mine the same way. It became a staple lunch for me and my friends as we visited while our then-toddlers played. When one of those friends was asked to cater a wedding, we determined that we must make a mini version of this bruschetta and our favorite party trick was born...because anything mini is extra delicious!
These are hands-down my biggest crowd pleaser and the best part is, they are SO easy!
Here's what you'll need:
baguette, sliced & lightly toasted
basil pesto, my favorite is from Costco
sliced cherry tomatos, I like to use kitchen shears for a quick slice
balsamic glaze - my favorite is from Trader Joe's
Once you toast your baguettes, spread each piece with a smear of basil pesto, then place on your serving tray. Top with the tomatoes & mozzarella, then drizzle with balsamic glaze.
Make more than you think, everyone always loves them!
Buying a house has got to simultaneously be one of the most exciting things annnd one of the most stressful! I can still vividly remember when we closed on our first house. We'd been married about a year and I was all in and what I thought fully versed in the process. Scot meanwhile, was overly practical. Is that a surprise to anyone? In my defense, I was fully immersed in the industry so I thought I knew all the ins and outs. In hindsight, I'm incredibly grateful for Scot's pragmatism. We bought in the hay day of 2005...when all you had to do to qualify for a loan was be alive and breathing. Truly.
Thankfully, Scot ensured we didn't get in over our heads, which required some considerable restraint when a bank is wanting to give you more money than you need. While we were both working full-time at the time, we knew kids would be on the horizon and little did we know at the time, that I'd continue working throughout all our child-bearing years. Back then, we both thought I'd hang up my work wardrobe and exclusively stay home with the kids. So when we went to talk to the lender, we ran numbers solely on Scot's income and based our purchase on that. In all honesty, we still operate our finances this way and it's probably one of the better decisions we've ever made.
So before YOU get to buying, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1. If your employment were to change, would you be able to cover the cost of your mortgage for 6 months? If the answer is no, you might want to hold tight. I say might because there are conditions where this doesn't apply. If you're a physician just finishing residency for example. you probably won't have a lot of reserves, but once you get working, you can probably accumulate them quickly. In that case, I'd recommend you purchase at a price that will allow you to accumulate those reserves. I realize that in addition to saving up for a down payment, adding this cushion might feel overwhelming, but the peace of mind it brings you is immeasurable. If you're under 30, you didn't adult through the Great Recession of 2008 and let me tell you, you'd be shocked how quickly it can all turn and that cushy job can be gone in an instant. If both Scot and I were out of work tomorrow, we could feasibly pay our mortgage for over a year. That probably didn't matter when it was just me and him, but when you've got 4 kids in the mix, it's a game changer.
2. Is the mortgage amount more than 1/3 of your take home pay? If the answer is yes, you're over buying. We personally have always shot for this number to be about 1/4 of our take home pay. Again, there are some exceptions to this, so you've got to crunch the numbers in relation to the trajectory of your career. If you're 30 and still have a ton of growth in your employment and you've found what could be your 'forever home,' you might stretch this number a bit, but I wouldn't suggest much. We've always run this number solely on Scot's career so that I can hang up my work wardrobe at any time without consequences on our mortgage.
3. Do you like the location, lot and layout of the home? You can change out floors, countertops and even cabinets if you want, but if you've got a wonky floor plan, a lot that backs up to a busy road, or a location that requires a far commute, consider carefully. If the location, lot and layout are questionable to you, they will also be questionable on resale. Do not compromise on these unchangeable aspects of a home, instead, be patient and save a little more in the meantime. Something that works will come soon enough and if you've planned accordingly, you'll be in the perfect position to snatch it up when it hits the market.
If you're actively looking for properties, you can search them on my personal website here, this is updated in real time with the MLS, giving you the most accurate info there is!
If you've got more questions about buying or selling a home, schedule a call and I'd love to talk through them with you.
In March I focused on creating a habit of meditation. You can read all about my intention for March back here. When I first started this idea of creating a new habit each month this year, I had the ridiculous notion, that I’d decide on the habit I wanted to create, map it out and then each month, just switch it on like a light switch.
Three months in and I’ve learned it doesn’t work quite like that. Well, I suppose it only took me into February to realize that because I crashed and burned fairly hard in February. Naturally I was hard on myself for falling short, but upon deeper introspection, I learned how to better approach it, which I’ll call a success because that really is the whole point of this exercise. The goal isn’t to be perfect, it is to be better.
Heading into March, I was much more measured in my approach. Instead of setting that standard of meditating 5 days a week, I gradually eased myself into it. I allowed myself some space to feel through what would work best in this phase of my life. I tried a few different approaches, a few different times of day and a few different locations. If something didn’t work well, instead of beating myself up about it, I just crossed it off the imaginary list I had in my head and moved on.
It felt so good to allow myself the opportunity to make some mistakes.
The first thing I figured out was where and when. I’m typically at the gym about 5 days a week, so it made sense to link my meditation with my time at the gym. Whether I’m there early, or mid-morning, I’m at least by myself, which felt like step one: Not being interrupted. The next question was regarding where. While I’ve always listened to podcasts at the gym, I didn’t really want to be meditating while I was lifting. Nor did I want to cram myself in a corner. I was really looking for a space where I could lean into the quiet and I’m so grateful to have found it.
Each day, post work out, I head back into the locker room, remove my sneakers in favor of some flip flops and head into the sauna. It is typically empty, but even if there are people there, it generally still feels like a private space. While there I’ll often times set a timer on my phone and then tuck it away before beginning my breathing exercises (I outlined the format I love here) and allowing myself to relax into my meditation.
In the first weeks, I did a few varied approaches, but at the very end of this month, I found exactly what I never knew I always needed. Simply Sadie’s Meditation Guides. You guys. They are total game changers. They popped up in my Instagram feed and since this is where my focus has been all month I, of course, had to learn more. I bought both the adult and kids/teen guides and we’ve been using them every single day. They are the perfect balance of guided meditation, along with allowing enough space for myself. I honestly, just truly love them! They aren’t too ‘woo woo’ and really speak well to my heart and within my personal framework. Check them out if you’re wanting t get started and aren’t sure where. They’re the best ones I’ve found.
Sooo, heading into to April. I debated on a couple of habits I wanted to form this month — for the record, thus far, I’ve been able to carry every habit on into the next month. In January, I created weekly capsule wardrobes to make getting dressed easier and I'm still doing that. In February, I went on a spending fast and while I’m not on a spending fast every month, I’m still feeling the benefits of that reset in February. I'm loving the mindfulness so much, I'm sure that will keep carrying over as well. Coming in to April, I’m hitting my busy season in both work and home. You know all the end of year recitals and responsibilities, paired with increased real estate activity. It’s important I stay organized so I can always approach things from a space of clarity.
For April, my goal is to ditch my ‘to-do’ list, an idea I got from my favorite podcast, The Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but really, I think I can ditch all those silly scraps of paper with tidbits from here and there that I’m trying to remember. Here’s how I’m going to do it.
Each Sunday night, I’m setting aside 1 hour to sit down and write out every single thing I need to do for the week. Cook dinner, phone calls to make, closings to coordinate, carpools to drive. EVERYTHING. Word vomit on a piece of paper. Once It’s all on the paper, I’m going to begin putting it in my calendar. One by one, I’m going to create space for each thing that needs to get done and if there isn’t enough space, well then my list is getting edited. I tried it this week for the first time and I’m happy to report, I got Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday fairly mapped out. I’m writing this on Monday and I can already tell you 2 things: More is getting done and there has already been a lot of movement in my calendar as I adjust for things that are popping up. I’m hoping I can get better at anticipating the things that pop up, as well as, creating a schedule that allows for those things.
I’m hopeful working on this in April will save my bacon in May. Major bonus: I’ll be out of town one of the weeks, so that one shouldn’t be too hard to map out.
Hi, I'm Amy. When I'm not scouring the valley for the perfect new house, you can usually find me in the kitchen with a gaggle of kids. Chips, salsa and a Diet Coke are usually in hand.