I can't believe it, but this week marks the three year anniversary of Old Town Home. And though a billion people probably say this about so many things, time has sure flown. But with this perceived rapid passage of time, the projects we've undertaken, successes we've experienced, failures we've encountered, and life events (both good and bad) we've endured, they've all contributed to our own personal unique view on life known as "perspective."

We've all likely heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20, but this old phrase speaks more to an ability to look back on your experiences with a gained perspective that you couldn't do prior to the experience. Whether you're assessing a decision made, or a task completed, doing so with the knowledge of the events grants an altered view that only you possess based on your specific variables you've encountered. Many people may have had a similar experience to yours, but your own personal experience and perspective is unique beyond all others.

When we started our blog we did so with many goals in mind, but two overarching goals took precedence over the rest.

Our first focus is sharing our love for and experience in DIY. I'm convinced it takes a person with a little bit of crazy to take on major DIY, but that's just what we love about it. By the time we started blogging we'd already been renovating our house for years and had gained a lot of general knowledge about DIY from those experiences. I felt we could share those experiences to help someone else in a similar situation avoid some of the pitfalls or intimidation that inevitably comes with doing something new. Maybe, just maybe, our experiences might even convince someone else getting started to take the plunge into old home DIY.

And second, we like to focus on how much we love our city. Alexandria, Virginia is a special and wonderful place, and we want to share that with people from all over the world. There are few places we've experienced that have a similar vibe to Old Town, and if we can possibly convey even a small slice of what we get to experience, we're pretty sure you just might want to visit some day.

As with almost any birthday, another year means another 365 days of experiences that grant that amazing gift of perspective. More specifically, perspective on experiences, results, and the realization or not of anticipated outcomes and goals. And perspective is oh so important in allowing you to learn and grow, even more than your involvement in the experience itself.

With perspective comes the understanding of what you might change or what you might do the same if given the opportunity to repeat your activities. When we're talking about DIY, this is a critical attribute that can allow you to truly expand your skill set and ability to complete a task.

So, what perspective have we gained over the last year of blogging and working on our projects and life? What about over our decade plus renovation? Well, where to begin?

Last year we entered spring with a pocket full of gusto following a year of very successful but time consuming projects. We had goals of completing our bathroom project by fall, and hopes of possibly more. We knew we wanted to experience a new part of the world at some point, and maybe visit a familiar one. We also wanted to continue blogging as it has allowed us to exercise a creative muscle in writing that is hard to replicate elsewhere. Oh, and did we mention that Wendy had decided to make a change in careers to follow one of her true passions, real estate? Yeah, we definitely had a lot on our plate, but all of these goals were things meant to enrich our lives in some manner.

Now that we're on the other side of these ventures and are taking time to look back, our new perspective, with incomplete projects, major life changes, and some health related items in the review mirror, shows us very clearly that the best laid plans are those that can accommodate the unknown. And while our two primary blog goals still remain, many more items have entered the fray.

First and foremost, over the last year I've had a front row seat (which sometimes required a bit of audience participation) to watch Wendy tackle one of the biggest professional challenges of her life as she pursues her aspirations in real estate, and it's been a truly wonderful and uplifting show. Personally, I'm very proud of Wendy and what she has accomplished over the last year. I've been able to watch and support as the person I care most about not only follows her dream, but excels while following her dream. She's doing wonderfully, and each success she has had along the way only reinforces the leap she took. With as much uncertainty as the initial career shift had, my perspective now is that I only wish she had made the jump sooner.

Given our schedules and efforts in our careers, our home renovation has slowed dramatically over the last year. But at the same time, each completed project, or even each finished step of an in progress bit of work, brings an added sense of confidence to our capabilities. Early on in our renovation aspirations we were laying the foundation through learning the basics. Today, as we are able to tackle more advanced items, we have an improved perspective on our capabilities and what we can realistically accomplish. Something that may have seemed daunting in the past can be a no-brainer today. We now have a better appreciation of the level of effort necessary to do a job and do it well, but we also possess a better understanding of what is possible.

Today, it's my hope that this perspective on capabilities will somehow alter our actual accomplishments over the next year...which includes finishing our damn bathroom on the front end of that time period rather than the back end.

The trials and tribulations of our four legged children's health issues over the last year have given us a renewed perspective on the importance of valuing the time you have, rather than focusing on the time you don't. This is a hard lesson, whether you're dealing with your own ailments, or those of a loved one. Wendy and I have both dealt with loss in varying capacities over the years, and you never look back and say "I wish I had spent less time with that person." But our last several years, and more specifically our last year, has helped both of us understand that it's much better to appreciate the present than it is to dwell on the past of what could have been.

I feel like we tend to focus on the "places we go" on this blog quite often. Whether we're talking about local fun we have in Old Town or the DC metro area, or the distant places we wander, I definitely hope we don't seem boastful or pretentious when sharing, because it is not the intent in the least bit. For both Wendy and myself, experiencing the world and all of the cultures or locales that are not our own is one of the true gifts of life. Each of our adventures are perspective building experiences that require us to leave our comfort zone quite significantly. Without these departures from our nests, we wouldn't know the wonderful destinations that are now some of our most favorite places on Earth.

It's our hope that one of our experiences, coupled with sharing our perspectives, may help to introduce you to one of these places that you can experience and fall in love with like we have.

Back Patio/Garden of Brix restaurant, Yountville, CA

Now I'm not quite sure why, especially given the fact that our renovation has struggled to maintain the pace of a crawl of late, but the experience we've had over the last few years has given me a new perspective on our own ability to take on bigger projects. I know this seems very counter-intuitive, but I feel like we can tackle anything we put our minds to (given a long enough timeline for implementation). I believe this is due to the combination of things we've been able to complete, both with respect to DIY renovation and within our lives, and the vision Wendy and I see when we look at something that's "got potential." This is actually the very reason why I'm STILL trying to convince Wendy that we *need* to buy that house without plumbing.

Yes. It's still on the market. I know. I can't believe it either. I agree with you. We should definitely buy it.

With our newfound perspective on our own capabilities to accomplish the goals we set our minds to, knowing that there will be a good deal of uncertainty while pushing the boundaries of our established comfort level, we can't help but be excited for the future. Wendy and I both tend to dream big, while simultaneously relying on the other for support, reason, assistance, guidance, and reassurance. We are lucky enough to have each other and the perspectives we've gathered over our years of teamwork in building our lives. For us, perspective on the past ensures our continued confidence in pursuing our vision for the future. But most importantly, our perspective gives us an appreciation for the present.

It's been a fun three years of blogging and we look forward to sharing many more perspective building adventures with all of you in the future.

Comments 27


4/25/2014 at 1:18 PM

Congratulations on three blog years! I love reading your thoughts, projects, ideas, and challenges here - we've got an old home too and yours is great inspiration for us. So is your blog - our blog-iversary is this week too (one year old!). Must be a good time of year to start a blog. Alt wink


Thanks, Laura. Maybe there's something about coming out of winter and into spring that makes us say "hey, I'm going to start a blog." I guess there's no better time. Congrats on your blog-iversary as well.

4/25/2014 at 1:26 PM

BUY IT! Alt smile Congrats on three years! I love your writing style and always enjoy updates on your wonderful home.


Thanks, Polly. I need you to help me convince Wendy. Alt smile

4/25/2014 at 3:31 PM

Congratulations!!! Keep up the good work - I make sad faces when you're not first on my feed. And then I just figure you hopped a plane to somewhere fabulous.


Thanks, Karin. If only us not blogging meant we were somewhere wonderful (as in a cause and effect type of occurrence), you'd better believe we'd be missing way more days of posting. Alt smile

4/25/2014 at 3:42 PM

Thank you for posting about your trials and tribulations regarding projects and well, life stuff. Love your writing style and repair tips. You both have done a fabulous job on your home!


Thanks, Tam. That we really appreciate it.

4/25/2014 at 4:04 PM

Happy Birthday!!!! So glad I stumbled upon your blog. I've learned from your trials. And I was hoping to start my own renovation blog at the beginning of the year, but I've had bizarre problems that has level 4 tech support (& now engineering) at my satellite isp scratching their collective heads. Ugh!

And you should definitely buy the house without plumbing. Think of the adventures! (Although I'd hate to have to leave Old Town.) Come on Wendy! Where's your sense of adventure? Hugs to the furkids. Hope their health issues are in the rear view.


Tech problems can be so annoying. Trust me, I know!

Thanks for your vote on the house. I agree 100%!

4/25/2014 at 10:46 PM

Thank you for continuing to blog. I love your posts and projects. I would say buy the house as long as you do not have to live in it while renovating! It would make for great blogging.


And thank you for continuing to read and comment. We always love your input. And I'm not just saying that because you are in my corner on the no plumbing house.

4/25/2014 at 11:07 PM

Happy birthday! I'm still rooting for the no-plumbing-but-definitely-haunted-and-full-of-potential houseAlt smile


I need to start an online petition. I wonder how many submissions I'd need before Wendy considers it.

4/26/2014 at 10:56 AM

Three years is a lifetime in blogging years. So many people start with a bang, then fizzle out if their original motivation fades. You did what a blogger is supposed to do ... you shifted focus as necessary to carry on and continue to make this a place where you share life as you see it. I really enjoy my visits here, and I will continue to come by and catch up on whatever you're doing. Love the furry critters, the DIY, your love of Old Town. IMHO, pass on the no-plumbing house.


Thanks for your vote of confidence. This is exactly what we've tried to do, so we really appreciate seeing that we were at least somewhat successful.

And how can you say to pass on the no-plubming house? This coming from someone who completely saved an entire barn! (Another thing on my long list of things I'd like to add to that no-plumbing house, a century barn.)

4/26/2014 at 11:08 AM

Happy anniversary!
How's Wendy's friend?
I always return to your blog and I find myself in for a treat. Thank you for that! I can't wait to see how your master bathroom evolvesAlt smile


Thanks, Diana. Wendy's friend is doing quite well. She's hopefully through the hardest part and recovery is going well. She's kept us up to date throughout her journey. Thank you very much for asking.

4/27/2014 at 2:32 PM

Congratulations on your three year anniversary. I have been following you for some time and have only been disappointed the times I've visited and there were no new updates.

Despite your DIY theme, It's amazing what an incredible variety of subjects you cover.

Best of luck in your next three!


Thanks, Victor. As long as we stay true to our interests, I really think as can make it at least another three. Maybe we'll even finish the master bathroom at some point in that time. Alt smile

4/27/2014 at 3:44 PM

This is wonderful.

Even though I've only stumbled onto your blog very recently, I've delved back a bunch of posts to get a sense of it and like how the primary focus is on your row house, but everything else as things come up that requires you to shift focus, while staying true to the main essence of the blog. I find that when you post about Lulu's journey through cancer treatment, or your travels, it adds a fresh new angle to the blog and keeps the whole thing from getting stale when it's all about your next home improvement project.

Good luck with this and hope you continue for many more years to come - as long as you renovate/DIY. Alt smile

I've just started a blog myself, though the URL is johnhpalmer.com, it's really Little Haus, Big City just last week, it'll be about my soon to be future home as I'm in the beginning stages of house hunting for a small, house in Seattle to buy. Have the realtor, and am preapproved for the loan, and as you may well know, it's still a tad early for the busy home buying season, which seems to begin in May at some point.


Very cool on your blog. We'll definitely check it out and stay tuned on your progress. Such a wonderful time. We hope only the best for you.

4/28/2014 at 9:51 AM

Love you guys, love Lulu and Mel, love Old Town, Alexandria, love your beautiful home and love all the stuff you share with your followers. Keep up the good work and Thank You!!


Thank you so very much, Cathy. We truly appreciate it.

4/28/2014 at 12:09 PM

Congrats on 3 years!! Feels like I've know you guys forever. Here's to new adventures (with & without plumbing ;)!


Thanks, Carrie. I know exactly what you mean. Perhaps we can all join forces some day and make renovation projects take exponentially longer than they are supposed to up to a whole new level. Alt smile

Threadbndr (Karla)
5/8/2014 at 10:10 AM

Congratulations on three years of blogging your adventures!

You guys are my favorite DIYers and not JUST because Alex answers all my questions (sometimes even before I know I need to ask them!)

Here's to hoping the next year will be a good one.

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