Week Nineteen and Twenty: My First Offer on a House and Baking an Apple Pie

Week Nineteen – My First Offer on a House:

Over the few months, I’ve been exploring the possibility of buying a home. As much as I love my quaint, surprisingly well-lit walkout basement in Logan Circle, I worry that the money that I spend each month in rent could be put to better use. Accordingly, I’ve spent a good chunk of the spring pouring over real estate listings and making pleasantries at open houses.

I’ve come to this process with a very specific idea of the home I am looking for – a metro-accessible three bedroom, with at least 1.5 baths (preferably 2), in one of the up-and-coming (read “transitional”) areas of NW at a purchase price that would allow the bulk of my mortgage to be paid by my future roommates. In my perfect picture of my future home, I imagine a few extras – a deck for entertaining, a small backyard for Callie, and that classic, Victorian style that makes the history nerd in me thrill. Oh, and exposed brick – if there only would be exposed brick!

Now I expect that some of you are rolling your eyes a bit. I’m sure every prospective home buyer begins his or her search with such rose-tinted glasses. As a single person with no true immediate need to find a home, however, I have the luxury of dreaming big. If I can’t find a home that is the right fit – well … que sera sera, a few more years as a tenant I’ll be. And so, my New Thing during Week Nineteen was to place my very first offer on a house.

My offer was soundly rejected, with good reason. I came in thousands of dollars below list and demanded all closing costs be paid by the seller. The home – a 3 bedroom, 2 bath semi-detached home in Columbia Heights featuring a back deck and a postage-stamp sized yard – had many of the features I was looking for. Yet, the third bedroom was more of a den and the flat brick facade lacked the charm of many of the Washington row-houses that I love. I was hesitant to make an offer at the top of budget this early on in my search. Nonetheless, even though I knew I’d made low-ball offer, it still felt like failure when the news came that this wouldn’t be my house.

A few weeks ago over lunch, a colleague warned me about this – rather dangerous – feeling. Speaking as someone who purchased a home for tens of thousands of dollars outside her budget at the height of the market because buying-a-home-is-always-a-great-investment, she counseled me against treating the process like a race or a lottery. I chose the right number, I win! I’ll admit, despite this sound advice, I continue to feel anxious each time a house that I kind-of-liked is listed on Saturday has 12 offers by Monday afternoon.

Whenever I pass by a particularly charming home on a tree-lined block, my heart aches a bit. Purchasing a home poses an intriguing struggle between my romantic side and my sensible side. Although I hope to stay true to my reasons for buying, I expect there to be some element of a gut feeling (Is this my home?). The process also forces me to think long and hard about my future – at least the next few years – and the amount of work I am willing to devote towards creating roots of my own. In sum, I expect the coming months to leave me with – if not a place to call home – at least a better understanding of who and where I’ll need to be when I find one.

Week Twenty – Baking an Apple Pie From Scratch:

During Week Twenty, I was supposed to accomplish #5 on the New Things List – Hiking Old Rag. Unfortunately, the Sunday allotted for this adventure dawned with gray skies and a foreboding forecast. The bleak weather left me with little motivation to do more than curl up on the couch with a novel. What New Thing is a girl to do on a dismal day such as this? Why – bake something warm and delicious of course!


I decided to spend my morning learning to make a classic – an apple pie – from scratch. At the grocery store, I secured some of my favorite local apple variety and, on a whim, a few pears. I danced around the kitchen to my favorite Pandora station while preparing the crust (just flour and butter and egg, who knew?!?). As I cooked the spiced apple-pear filling, I imagined what it would be like to actually contribute something to Thanksgiving dinner this year. When it came time to transfer the crust to the pan, however, making a pie suddenly lost its pleasant, zen-like quality. I muttered some choice expletives when the soft dough tore yet again on my third attempt.

Thankfully, a friend arrived and came up with the novel idea of placing the pie pan upside down onto to crust and flipping both at once. The fourth-time being the charm, I was able to fill my pie with spiced apple/pear goodness and toss my masterpiece into the oven. I also made six “baby” pies in a muffin pan with the leftover dough and filling. The flaky, golden result actually tasted like homemade apple pie! I’ll admit, we had dessert with lunch AND dinner that day. But, what could be more perfect on a lazy, gray Sunday?


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