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Happy Holidays From Scott & Caroline!

12/17/08 - Albuquerque, NM

Scott & Caroline's holiday greetings and 2008 Year-in-Review

Holiday Greetings, Live From Albuquerque!

Ready to begin a new chapter, Scott & Caroline cheerfully dispose of their remaining The Alluring Home postcards

Holiday greetings to all our Family and Friends! Once again, we can barely believe another year has slipped by since our last holiday newsletter.  It has been a busy year (of course - we are the Brookses, after all!), but with slightly fewer exciting adventures as in recent years.  As many of you know, we closed on a house here in Albuquerque at the end of January, after living the free-and-easy renters’ life in 2007.  Our ‘new’ 25-year-old home, located in the foothills of Albuquerque’s Sandia Mountains, has required a bit of TLC.  Sometimes we still wonder what we were thinking, becoming homeowners again!

Much of our year revolved around the new house as, in addition to completing repairs typical to a neglected older home, we decided to do a somewhat extensive renovation of the Master Suite.  The renovation project included gutting the master bath, turning the existing hallway into a walk-in closet and building a larger laundry room in what was originally the master closet.  Over-budget and taking far longer than anticipated (of course!), it turned out beautifully and was worth all the hard work and expense in the end!

Although the minutiae of continuing to set up our home staging business, along with actual home staging jobs and our extensive remodeling project, took up the better part of our year, we still managed to have some fun, socializing with new friends and enjoying visits from several out-of-town visitors.  In February, Janet & Mark from San Francisco paid us a wonderful visit, as they passed through New Mexico on their move to Washington D.C.  Over Memorial Day Weekend, Scott’s childhood friend John came for a visit, cheerfully agreeing to sleep on the sofa in the living room, since we were sleeping in the 2nd bedroom/office, while our bedroom was a full-fledged construction zone.  We spent a great weekend hiking, eating, drinking and catching up and we hope John comes back soon!  At the end of August we were treated to a visit from Chris and Jacque - pregnant with their first child-congrats! - from Michigan, who helped us celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary (August 29th).  Shortly thereafter, Caroline’s childhood friend Barb, who lives in Chicago, came to check out our new hometown; we look forward to another visit from her in the New Year.

In early March, we decided to honor our circa-1984 new home by hosting an ‘80s party prior to starting the bulk of the renovations, thus giving our guests the opportunity to revel in the ‘lovely’ retro aspects of our house.  One thing we’ve learned since moving to New Mexico is that the people of Albuquerque LOVE an excuse to dress up in silly costumes (of course, we’re in heaven over this fact!).  Our guests went all-out and the ‘80s attire that showed up on our doorstep provided quite a blast from the past.  We certainly feel very fortunate to have made such wonderful and fun friends here in our new hometown.

We also had some amazing travel opportunities this year, both near and far (almost as far as Timbuktu, literally!).  Towards the end of July, just as the light appeared at the end of the renovation tunnel, it was time to hit the road for San Diego to attend family friends Deanna & Ryan’s swank nuptials at the Ivy Hotel in downtown San Diego.  Although the wedding itself wasn’t until August 2nd, we really needed some R&R after all our construction work and spent a few days walking the beaches and sampling all the budget-friendly local foods we could manage before the big event.  The wedding and reception were simply magnificent and we were glad to be able to share Ryan & Deanna’s special day with them, their family and friends.

The day after the wedding, we jumped in the van with raging hangovers (testament to a great party!) and hurried home in order to catch a flight to our next wedding, the following weekend…in Nigeria!  Scott’s college friend Trevor met (and was now marrying) a young Nigerian woman named Maria, while he was working and she was attending university in Baltimore.  The wedding was to take place in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, where her parents and other family members reside.  We spent a total of almost two weeks in Maria’s home country, first in Lagos, meeting Maria’s family and attending (and participating in!) two full days of wedding ceremonies and festivities – both traditional Nigerian and Catholic – and then traveling on our own up to the northern (predominantly Muslim) part of the country to see what we could see.  It was an amazing and eye-opening experience, to say the least, and we will be forever grateful to Trevor, Maria and their families for giving us this priceless and amazing opportunity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      At friend Trevor’s wedding in Lagos, Nigeria

View of the Sandia Mountains from our backyard at dusk

Exhausted and flat broke, we returned home, where Scott started his new job as a financial analyst for the University of New Mexico Hospital the following week, toward the end of August.  Caroline continued on as the main force behind The Alluring Home, our home staging business.  After much deliberation, we decided to close the doors of The Alluring Home this fall, upon concluding that the business would ultimately not meet our goals (to provide an income we might live off of AND give us flexibility - we know, a stretch for any business).  We haven't regretted our decision, and are excited to move on to other endeavors, after the time-consuming process of selling off our home staging inventory is complete.

Even with Scott working full-time, we still managed to feed our ravenous travel bug a few crumbs, squeezing in a couple of weekend road trips this fall: a visit to both Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado and Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona in one weekend(!) and also a trip to Colorado Springs, CO, where we drove to the top of the famous Pikes Peak - at 14,000 feet!  On both jaunts, we saw some cool sights and beautiful fall colors, as we hit peak color season for the flaming yellow aspens and cottonwoods of Northern New Mexico and Colorado.  In between our rejuvenating mini-vacations, out-of-town visitors, renovation work and home staging, we spent some quieter

recreational moments this year enjoying the numerous mountain hiking trails near our home, going to the movies at our local ‘dollar’ theatre and spending pleasant evenings with local friends.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we enjoyed a fabulous trip to San Francisco, where we had the opportunity to celebrate the holiday and visit with many dear friends from a ‘previous life’ (and eat and drink a lot!).  Jen, Tod, Christine, Mark, LeAndra, Dylan, Sarah, Ted, Ian, Roxanne, Neil (and all the kids!) and last, but certainly not least, Leane – it was so, so wonderful to see you all!  We hope to see you all in New Mexico someday!

For Christmas, we’ll be making a quick trip back to Michigan for a long-overdue to visit both sides of our family and most specially to see our 2-year-old nephew Christopher, who is growing up very fast!

All-in-all, although challenging and budget-conscious, it’s been a rewarding and productive year and we look forward to seeing what 2009 brings!

Wishing you and yours a joyful holiday season and a prosperous year in 2009,

Caroline and Scott

It's Christmas-time on Quail Run Road!


The Alluring Home is no more!


Albuquerque Winter Wonderland!


Burn, baby, burn!

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