Welcome to my blog, I am glad you are here, and I hope you will stay awhile and read, explore, and hopefully be inspired!
My name is Jennifer Panehal-Pelayo, and I live in Summerville “Flowertown”, South Carolina. I am married to my husband Christopher Pelayo, and we have 4 dog babies, Cowboy who is a 8 year old black Chow Chow (yes he is male!), Cowgirl, our 7 year old female cream Shar Pei, and then our two youngest “twins”, Snowball and Blizzard, who are 2 year old white male Chow Chows who we rescued. Chris and I love many things, but dogs are definitely on the top of our list! We love our furkids, probably a little too much, but they deserve it! ♥ Also on the top of our list, is our love for DIY and Home Projects, which is the reason for starting this blog. But first a little background…
I was born and raised in Hawaii, yes…those beautiful islands often called paradise, which it really is, I am not going to lie to you…Hawaii is a wonderful place to grow up and learn the value of nature, beauty, and family. My parents raised me in our wonderful family home up “mauka” (in the mountains), that overlooks the crystal blue ocean and colorful sunsets, and I had a happy childhood going to the beach and playing in the sand. I have one younger sister, Julie, and my parents, JoAnn and Bob Panehal, are still happily married for the past 30+ years!
I was a “good kid” and stayed out of trouble. At 16, I met my now husband, and we have been together now for over 10 years! I graduated high school as Valedictorian, and after high school I went to the local University of Hawaii at Hilo, and graduated with my Bachelors Degree as a double major in Psychology and Communications. So I have nothing to complain about, I have had a happy childhood, supportive family, and my loving husband. I am very humble about what I have and have accomplished, and am grateful everyday for my life and happiness.
So how did end up here in South Carolina and on the completely opposite side of the states? Well it is kind of a weird story, so here we go…
Chris and I went to college together, and majored in the same thing, so we had all our classes together. We moved in together our junior year, which is when we also got our first dog, Cowboy, who was the cutest black fluffy puppy ever!!! We spent our spare time at the beach, and working normal college student jobs, and that was our day to day activity, not bad at all, but not exciting either. We really didn’t have a planned future, or any idea what we wanted to do, so we wanted a change. Maybe it would help us decide, maybe not, but we wanted some time off the islands to figure it out. All we knew was we would be fine if we had each other, that was all that mattered. Our college offers a program to do 2 semesters “nationally abroad”, so we decided to take our senior year at the University of Nevada at Reno. My family took me traveling a lot growing up, and Lake Tahoe was a place I fell in love with, so why not start near there?! So off to Reno we went, and yes we brought Cowboy with us!
So we navigated moving all on our own, we found an apartment, jobs, and continued our schooling. On weekends we explored and made new friends, and went to Tahoe of course! We even got Cowboy a sister, Cowgirl, who was an adorable wrinkle ball, and they played nonstop! Tahoe is a beautiful place, and Reno is so much fun, but most importantly it opened our eyes to what else is out there in the world, and the many opportunities we could have. We experienced snow, seasons, being able to drive to a different state, even seeing different bugs of all things! LOL. Don’t get me wrong, I missed, and still miss Hawaii all the time! But…it really is an island, you can get “island fever” and this adventure gave us a new perspective on what life could look like. After our year was up, we transferred our credits home, and could graduate, but we physically didn’t have to go home to graduate. We were at a standstill, do we stay, or do we go home? What should we do???
We came to a decision we didn’t want to go home. It was hard, as we were away from our family and friends, but we felt free, and had this whole new want of exploration and change. It was exciting for us, and experiencing it together made it that much more desirable! But in the same breath, Reno was not Tahoe, and as close in proximity as it was, it was not the same setting. We could never afford to live in Tahoe, nor could we afford to live in Hawaii. We also were getting to a point where Chris and I were talking about getting married, we had always said after we graduate, and usually with a marriage comes a home. Well we were fresh out of college, no careers, and not much money either. But this was 2009, can you say “housing crash” anyone?? So my dad mentioned a town he was researching for his own investments, that was literally the poster child for the housing crash, which was Maricopa, Arizona. Houses were very cheap, hundreds of foreclosures, and he said,”why don’t you just buy a house?”.
Really, we could do that?We were 21 years old, not married, no down payment, and have never been there, were just going to buy a house, in Arizona? I wasn’t to thrilled about living in Arizona, but, thats what we did! We drove 14 hours to Arizona, brought Cowboy and Cowgirl with us, and we bought a house in one weekend. We did not end up buying a foreclosure though, as investors were buying them left and right, it was too difficult to get involved in. However we did buy a typical cookie cutter new build, which for our first home was very exciting! We spent our last day picking out our finishes which was so appealing, and we were thrilled. We were able to pull this off because of our good credit, FHA loans, and the First Home Buyer tax credit, and we got our home at the very bottom of the market, right before it started to recover. We were very very lucky…
From 2009-2014 we lived in Maricopa, Arizona. A small suburban desert town outside of Phoenix, and we spent much of our time and money decorating and making our house to our style and taste. This is where I fell more in love with design and decorating. I had always has a niche for it, always rearranging, painting, and redecorating every space I have ever lived in. But now a whole house really got my imagination juices flowing! So much so that I decided to go to trade school for interior decorating. I now use my knowledge and creativity to design not only my own homes, but to help inspire others I know, and maybe after this blog, to those I don’t know! That would be amazing!
Ok back on track. Remember I told you we are obsessed with dogs? Well I decided to open my own business as a pet sitter in Maricopa, and was very successful! A small suburb is perfect for a pet sitter, not to much driving, everyone has pets, and in the suburbs everyone commutes, so luckily I had a fun and busy job I loved! Well around the time I was planning to open my business, I was also planning our wedding! I took my organization and design skills and planned our whole wedding, which we had in Temecula, CA, September 24, 2011. We figured a wedding right in the middle of our old home in Hawaii and our new home in Arizona would be fitting. Our wedding was like a dream and a day I will cherish forever. Maybe I will make a post later about the design ideas from that day ♥
On top of my business opening and our wedding, my dad had convinced us to purchase an investment property in Maricopa. The prices were still low, and we had the financial stability to do so, so why not? We bought that home literally up the street from our home and rented it out to family. For awhile everything was steady, we explored Arizona, worked, and did many DIY projects in between. In 2013, we helped foster 5 Chow Chow puppies that were going to be put to sleep if we didn’t. We found three of them homes, and decided to keep two, Snowball and Blizzard! We were happy to be married, happy in our careers, and had our furballs to put smiles on our faces everyday, but something was missing. More and more I became unhappy with where we lived, I kept it to myself for a long time, but slowly started opening up about to Chris, and then very slowly to family. Something about Arizona just didn’t feel like a place I wanted to live forever in, it was perfect for our first home, perfect to grow and find ourselves, but maybe we could start figuring out what next would be.
You’re probably thinking we are crazy at this point, well, we kind of are! LOL. We had a lot going on all at once, and it gets crazier. We spent all of 2013 trying to figure out where we wanted to permanently settle down, what kind of home we would want, country or city, ocean or forest, sell or rent out our homes, it was such a tiring thing to figure out, and we almost gave up hope many times. We narrowed it down to Hawaii, Colorado, California, Georgia, and Florida. We then chose Atlanta, GA, because it was a corporate headquarters for my husbands work, so many opportunities to move up, we LOVED Southern Homes, we could drive to the ocean, be around flowers and trees again, no major snow, near a big city, and could have more land with our home. We flew out for a visit, and it just didn’t feel right. It was beautiful, and very close to what we wanted, but too much hustle and bustle, especially living in small towns our whole lives. I was laying in bed in Atlanta while Chris watched TV on our last night there, heartbroken, thinking maybe no where would ever feel right, maybe the perfect place for us doesn’t exist.
Then, my favorite movie came on TV, The Notebook, which I have watched dozens of times and know by heart, and have always dreamed of living in such a beautiful place…but in that moment, I didn’t even know where it was filmed! I am grabbing for my phone to google it, while Chris is looking at me funny, and I said “there! wherever that is, I want to live there!”. We found it was filmed in Charleston, SC, which we knew absolutely nothing about, but oh would we find out! I almost wanted to extend our trip and drive there, we were so close, but jobs and life wouldn’t allow it at the time.
We spent the next few months researching, fell in love with everything we found out about it, and then how we could make it happen. We did 3 trips to Charleston over the next few months, and fell more in love. This was it, this had to be home. I had never seen such beautiful architecture, history, and charm! I feel like I am in another country! My husband started applying for job transfers, and I started to figure out the rest, and listed the investment home for sale. It took months of hard work and planning, it took a toll on us, but I knew it would be worth it. Finally, in mid-December 2014, my husband got a call that they wanted him, and wanted him the first week of January! Say What?! Like 2 weeks?
We immediately listed our home for sale while he flew out to look at the homes we had on our favorites list, but I secretly had a favorite I knew was the one, but I didn’t get to see it in person, only Chris would, I was so jealous…Chris loved the house I loved, but it was a well priced historical home in major need of work, in a highly desirable area, and we still had 2 homes to sell first. Somehow fate and hard work met in the middle, and we got offers on our 2 homes for sale, I kid you not, the same day! January 3, 2015 we had our two homes in contract. WTF?! How does this happen is all I could say to myself. We talked to our realtor and mortgage officer, Chris’ company was also very helpful, and we were able to make an offer on the house we loved January 7, 2015, and it was accepted. We were selling two homes and buying one at the same time, and it was damn crazy! We were buying our dream home, in a place I thought was a dream, with the man of my dreams.
So thats how we got here, you now know our life’s story, our past. Next up, I will post about our present. How did we move across the country? Where are we living in the meantime? Where are the dogs? Do we like it now that we are in SC? Did we close on the home? What are we working on?