528 E 5th Ave

The dream started one day in early Spring 1999, I was sitting in an office in Geneva, Switzerland and missing home.

I was day-dreaming about making it back to the States after my 3 month stint working in our European headquarters.  It was a trip of a lifetime, to be in Switzerland… a single woman with very few obligations back home:  I had a really great job (that allowed me the opportunity to pack up my bags and go work in Switzerland for a couple of months), a car payment and monthly rent.  That was about it.

I cannot express how much I missed being “home”.  I day-dreamed about making a place my own and even started looking at websites for home listings.

As I reminisce on this 15 years later, I do not remember which website I was on.  But I do remember being excited about this home as soon as I saw the listing.  The home was located in Old Escondido, a neighborhood I had only dreamed about purchasing in for quite some time.  And it was actually within my price range!

Once I got back to the States I made a point of driving by 528 E. 5th.


The house, built in the 1930s or 1940s, was located in an alley… a weird little lot on top of a hill.  The property in front of it had been built in the 1970s and it was immediately clear that the owners at the time had split the lot and sold off part of it.  And that left no access from 5th Ave… in fact, the sidewalk that had once stretched from the alley down to 5th Ave was cut-off at the property line… handrail and all.  It just ended at the fence at the back of the property.

I remember getting out of my car and walking up to the kitchen window.  The home was empty and there were no curtains on that kitchen window.  I cupped my hands up against the window and peered in to see the built-in hutch, painted white with glass doors on top… and gasped.  I knew I was looking at my new kitchen.


As a single woman in my mid-twenties I was beyond blessed to be able to purchase this home.  Beyond blessed.

And the home itself came to life real quickly.  About 8 or 9 girlfriends helped me move in … and I vividly remember us having country music blaring while we did so… windows and doors thrown open.  One of the neighbors even came over to mention the loud music… I’m sure he was not thrilled at the time.  We just laughed and kept cleaning and unloading boxes.

That was November 1999.  Since then the home has welcomed many friends, served as host for many parties (both creative and festive), warmed us through many holidays, surprised us with a few maintenance headaches every now and then, and been a perfect starter home.


When Gramma Helen saw the home she offered up a set of her china so that I would have something to put in that amazing hutch.  And so my collector’s habits started… I eventually added a set of hand-painted wine goblets that I brought home from Romania, and then a demitasse set (also from Romania), and then eventually got to add some of Gramma Ruth’s “apple plates”.  Unloading that hutch was emotional..


A year after buying the house my Dad and I built custom faux-shutters to adorn the frames of the windows… my birthday wish.  Well, he built them… I dreamt them up and painted them.

528 E. 5th Ave was also a temporary home to a few roomies:  Jen, Amie, Lisa, Kristen, even my lil’ bro when he was in town.

In May 2001 my roomie Debbie Russell (Russell at the time, but know by “Graff” now) and I started an annual tradition… Gringo de Mayo.  Yes, on May 5th.  We invited over our friends and neighbors and set out a host of food and beverage, hung a pinata and a dozen strands of lights in the backyard and partied the night away.  This tradition lived on for many years… until all of our friends started having kids and could no longer “come out & play” like they used to.

And life goes on…

In 2003 Lee and I even had a surprise for a bunch of our friends.  Although our marriage license states that we were married in Clark County, Nevada it meant a lot to us to share in some special moments with our friends IN OUR HOME.  At a 30th birthday party for me we sprung it on our guests that there was a different reason for them being invited into our home.  And we delightedly watched their faces as we shared our secret with them… we had been married a few weeks prior and had been keeping a secret… what horrible friends we were!  We proceeded to re-read our vows to each other and share in a few moments of excitement with them in our living room.


Since then, the doorsteps of 528 E. 5th Ave have been graced with friends and family for many special occasions, a surprise birthday or two, many special holidays, “hey – i was just in the area” visits (my favorite kind)… and there have been creative times in the craft room and on the patio, there have been plenty of casual dinner parties outside as well… and the backyard has seen many different variations of greenery and colorful bursts of annuals.




The backyard is now seeing a lot of our fur kid Callie… she has brought such joy to our home.  And we look forward to having a place where she can run more freely in the backyard and maybe add to our family, in the furry way.

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The walls of 528 E 5th Ave have seen MANY coats of paint  What can I say?  I’m a colorful, creative girl… and I love to paint.  So, you can just imagine…

Hours upon hours were spent in the back patio room… my craft room… crafting has been my therapy (and will continue to remain my therapy).




It goes without saying… but I’m going to say it anyway… my heart and soul went into 528 E. 5th.  And I’m going to miss this quaint, quirky, tiny little lot on top of the hill on E. 5th Ave.

And life goes on…


A friend sent a friend our way with a potential buyer, and as crazy as it sounds… we accepted their offer.  We weren’t really expecting to sell at this point of our lives.  But we prayed over the decision, welcomed the opportunity and felt led by the Lord that the timing is in His hands.

We will be living in the area, in an apartment, for the next couple of months while we look for our new home.


Over the past two weeks we’ve been busily packing away our belongings… one box at a time.  During that time I’ve only broken down in tears twice… partly because I’m (tired and) overwhelmed with the task in front of me, and partly because I’m kinda sad to let go of this ol’ place.20150124_145259_resized

It has served us well, and for a long time.  In fact, it’s been perfect for our little family for the time we were in it… and now it’s time to find our new home.  So, we’re dreaming … let the dreams soar!

At the time, I didn’t know it, but…

  • I’ve already hung the Christmas cards on the back of the front door for the last time…
  • I’ve already cleaned the mason jars lining the kitchen window for the last time…
  • I’ve already made the last handmade card in the craft room…
  • I’ve already rearranged my framed photography on the walls in the hallway for the last time…
  • I’ve already hosted my last dinner party on the patio…
  • I’ve already moved the living room furniture around for the last time…
  • I’ve already picked my last bunch of freesia from the back yard…
  • I’ve already enjoyed the aroma of orange blossom in the back yard for the last time…
  • I’ve already painted those walls for the last time…



One thought on “528 E 5th Ave

  1. Lori, this was beautiful!! It’s was so nice to see your comfy wonderful home. I love your style, girlie! That craft room is beautiful lucky girl. …and me lucky to have received things from that room! Good luck as you look for a new place to call home! Please let me know where you land so I can send you some new home love! Many blessings! Sherri Retton (Ohio )


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