January 2016 in Review

Days of Note

It was weird to write down notable dates from this month because the only thing notable about the beginning of January was ringing in the new year with my family…and then turning around to come back to our city.

January 12: New England winter bucket list item crossed off: we ate dinner in a beautiful restaurant with huge, wide-paneled windows that overlook a cobblestone street (and the ocean!) during the most beautiful snowfall of the year.  Norman Rockwell would have been impressed.

January 16: A Nor’easter kept us inside for most of the day.  We made beef stew and snow ice cream and enjoyed going for a bit of a walk during a break in the precipitation.

January 18th: MLK Day was a holiday for both of us.  Though we were housebound for three days (see above) the long weekend came at a perfect time.  We did homework, cleaned house, baked cookies and relaxed after the hardest work weeks of the year.  (Coming back from the holidays is rough!)

January 24th: Oss Bed and Breakfast in action!  Friends from out of town crashed here over the weekend.  Even though visiting with us wasn’t the purpose of their trip we got to catch up and hang out a fair bit.

January 31st: Dinner with friends at a new restaurant

On the whole, January was notable for its relatively mild temperatures.  Liam started a new school term at the very beginning of the month so it was mostly work-school-house work for both of us.  I really enjoyed the month at work and it seems like I started to get into a groove by the end of it.

Books read

The 1950’s Kitchen.  This was probably someone’s thesis, but I thought it was a fascinating read.  Granted, I thought there was going to be a little bit more socio-cultural analysis of the role of women in the 1950s but it even as just a discussion of kitchen designs, placement and materials kept me interested.

I tried to read The Husband’s Secret.  I really did!  I got past the first few pages and realized that I was annoyed by the main character and really didn’t care what the husband’s secret was and whether or not he was cheating, which I think is what you were supposed to be assuming at that point.

Miscellany 

This month I taught myself how to crochet!  I’m not saying that I’m very good at all, but it’s really enjoyable to do while watching television, and I think I would like to make a granny square quilt for our next place.  I mean…we could use it in our current place too, but I doubt I’ll finish it any time soon.

On another note, I applied for a few new jobs this month as well.  I love my current job and am very happy there for the time being.  Heck, I only started in October and feel very much like I’m still in the learning phase.  However, it has been several months since I have applied for anything and I like to keep my resume fresh and in circulation.  So I applied for a different job that is very related to what I do now.  Another few jobs that I applied for were part-time retail jobs.  Budget-wise I do not need to work another job, but at the moment I am happy to trade my time for a bit of extra money.  Have I mentioned my ten-minute commute?  That’s a big part of why I have free time.  Also, the downside of renting a furnished apartment is that we are going to need to purchase several big-ticket items once we leave this unit.  It would be nice to not have to use our “normal” money to do that.  More importantly though is that I would feel better with an additional income stream.  Maybe it’s the Millenial in me, but I don’t know that we will ever feel completely secure in our jobs without a bit of extra money coming in on the side “just in case”.

Other than returning to New England there wasn’t any traveling in January. We might try to take a weekend or day trip in February but I’m totally okay with that not happening.  March is going to be crazy busy and February is so short that it’s over in the blink of an eye.

Month in Review: November 2015

After the massive catch-up at the beginning of the month it’s time to go back to doing these reviews monthly.

November was my first full month at the new job and things started to feel more normal. I have settled into a comfortable routine and I feel like a part of my office rather than just a visiting worker. From both a professional and a personal standpoint I work with a really great group of people. And perhaps most excitingly, I’m no longer the newest person in the office.  I’m technically still the newbie because this person transferred from another site…but it was still nice to be able to let someone else know where the coffee was and which printers are where.  It wasn’t that long ago that I was on the receiving end of such helpful hints.

For the first time in at least 15 years I dined at the Cracker Barrel this month.  We also tried a poutine place (extra delicious late-night food) and a distillery that are walking distance from our apartment.  There is such an amazing food scene here that it’s going to be a real battle to stick to a meal plan regularly.

Thanksgiving happened!  After work Wednesday we headed up to Liam’s hometown to be with his family.  We had a midday meal on Thursday because one of his siblings had to work that morning and I had to work on Friday and we wanted to get an early-ish start back to our place because night driving and moose don’t mix.

To continue with the food theme of the post, we kicked off the week of Thanksgiving with a potluck Friendsgiving celebration hosted by one of Liam’s acquaintances.  I knew no one and Liam only knew a few people, but it was lots of fun.  And the food was amazing.  I had to laugh because we were in charge of making a vegan recipe and the joke was that we were set up to have the least favorite dish of the night.  (Curried pumpkin soup if you’re curious; I happen to think it’s quite good but it didn’t really go with the non-vegan offerings.)

Now that we are settled I feel like I can get back to enjoying hobbies that I had set aside while we were working toward relocating.  I attempt to become a “good” knitter each winter and this year is no exception.  I’ve been re-learning everything that I forgot over the warmer months and I have also picked up a set of crochet hooks although I haven’t touched them yet. I got my new library card and have been enjoying the vast e-lending library that I have access to as a result.  Though I try to avoid going to the library on my lunch hour (it’s amazingly crowded during the workday) I may have to drop by soon and see whether they have a foreign language children’s section.  I’ve been working on a new language – possibly in preparation of a trip next year and kids’ books are a great supplement to my daily practice.

My Christmas shopping is entirely done, although if we’re being totally transparent the last gift is still on its way to me and all of them need to be wrapped.  But as a result I had the time (and desire) to do some selfish shopping this month.  I was crushed to realize that secondhand shopping is terrible here – especially the thrift offerings.  So I wound up coming home completely empty handed.

And finally, can we talk about the weather?  Forgive the shouting but it’s necessary because WE STILL DO NOT HAVE SNOW.  I think that the northernmost part of the state finally has some in the 10-day forecast but we are looking at the mid 40’s for the next several days.  I’m not complaining but it is so, so weird.  Remind me about this when I’m whining my face off in March, okay?  Maybe when I’m complaining about wearing my winter boots to Easter services.

 

Month(s) in Review: July, August, September, October (!!!) 2015

1015 color

Hi.

Remember me?

This summer and early part of fall were fraught with stressors. And there were sad things, too: if you’ve been following along you’ll know a few of my family members passed away this summer. These are the first members of my parents’ generation to pass and it’s frightening in many ways.

Lots happened over the past few months that I didn’t want to dwell on (at the time) or remember in detail anymore. The sinking ship that was my mood and my life (so dramatic) finally righted itself toward the end of September. So, let me start there in catching you up on what has been going on around here lately.

1. We moved! I don’t just mean moved to a new apartment. I mean we moved states. And time zones! And climates (sob). That’s right; this is hello from New England! And yes, I already miss Chicago and its pizza.

2. New job! I was in an okay-but-not-great situation back in Chicago. I had a job that I was able to do mostly from home but that wasn’t related to my graduate degree. I got my new job as a direct result of what I studied in grad school – so, yay! I don’t think this is a permanent position for me (as in, I don’t expect to retire from the office I’m sitting in now) but I do think the job has the potential to propel me to that ‘forever’ job.

3. Job offer! Shortly after I began training for my current position I was actually offered another relatively local job. It would probably have required a move to be feasible in the long-term and it was slightly closer to what I dream of doing but there were a few factors that made the role I stayed in much more appealing. Still, I seriously considered switching and it was ultimately a very tough choice.

4. Interview offer! Immediately after I turned down the second offer I was asked if I was interested in interviewing for a third position. The interview will be later this winter. Job #3 is actually a blend of my current job and the one I turned down so I am going to take the interview if timing works in my favor. (If it doesn’t; no big deal.) I’ve never interviewed from a comfortable position before – I’ve always wanted out of the role that I was in, and I feel like I want that experience just so I’m comfortable the next time the situation arises. And I’m not just taking advantage of the opportunity; this is a job that I would also give serious consideration to if offered.

I typed this up on my lunch break and got distracted by the ocean view from my office. I’m going home to my small, quirky apartment that is walking distance from where I work. We may get lobster rolls while running errands on Saturday. My in-laws will likely come down this weekend for dinner and to see our new place. And though my family doesn’t (yet!) have tickets out here there is discussion of their coming once we start to thaw.  Things are very, very good right now.

Liam also had a very stressful summer at work and that was ultimately what pushed us into trying to relocate as quickly as possible. He is currently debating between two job offers here in New England. Neither are the dream job he thought he would have (something fell through; I haven’t pressed much) but both are good options for him while he looks for the next great match.

And that’s where we stand.  Hope things are well with you!

Sounds like lightening.

 

If you looked at the weather radar during the night of August 18th you would have seen that the worst weather in all of North America was centered over the greater Chicago area. In fact, for a good portion of that evening the most severe parts were centered right over neighborhood.

Right before Liam left work (approximately 5pm) he texted me that our area was in a tornado watch until 10pm. I’m not sure how it is elsewhere, but at least in Chicago those watches are issued pretty freely – a good thing! – and this was at least the fifth or sixth this summer. Tornados can happen rapidly and without warning (see: Plainfield, IL tornado of 1990) but only under very specific weather conditions.

Liam got home and we had dinner and sort-of forgot about the watch and went about normal evening tasks.

And then.

At 7:22 pm we heard tornado sirens. To me they mean: get in building’s basement and turn on the television. To someone who is experiencing them for the first time and has only the movie Twister as his point of reference for what happens next this was a Very Frightening Thing.

Most of our building headed into the basement and we turned on the local news looking for the weather. I’ve mentioned before that we live pretty far out in the suburbs, and when we were looking for news reports we had to go to a super-local channel to get anything because the main stations hadn’t switched over from regular programming. This was mildly comforting until we looked at the map.

The red cone of danger was centered right over us (seriously – over the nearest intersection!) and extended southeast to my parents’ current home and northeast to the area I grew up in where we still have many friends.

My family has a group text message and as soon as I messaged out to say Liam and I had heard sirens and were in the basement my mom responded that they had heard sirens and were in their own basement as well. My siblings both checked in: one of them was far to the south of the watch and the other said they were in the watch zone and paying attention but that not much was happening.

For 20 minutes we heard lots of thunder and lightening but the sirens weren’t continuous and even the local local weather station signed off their coverage of the storm to go back to regular programming. What i understand is that the sirens went off because there were “winds capable of rotation” very near us but that nothing materialized and they weakened enough to end the watch. I updated the family, we fist-bumped with building neighbors before heading upstairs and settled in to watch the storms. I think this was right about 7:50.

At a few minutes after 8:00 there were more sirens. Hi-ho, hi-ho; it’s back downstairs we go.  If you thought Liam would be more comfortable the second time around you were most incorrect.  However, the overall mood was significantly more joyous this time because there was one really excited bunch of kids who were able to avoid bedtime because of the storms.

This time our sirens stayed on longer and all of the main channels were carrying the weather. There were reports of rotations immediately to our north and south. At some point my parents checked in to say that their area hadn’t heard sirens but were put back under the warning zone for all of three minutes. Our power flickered several times but never went off. We heard a really loud bang of what we thought was thunder. Within the next few minutes the warning either expired or was cancelled because the storm was weakening; I don’t remember which.

At Liam’s request we slept in the family room with the weather channel on just so we’d be aware of what was going on if we were awoken by sirens. I don’t think the poor kid slept for more than 20 minutes at a time that night. Having been through the song and dance a few times before I didn’t really think much about the events of the night except to say a prayer of thanks that there was apparently very minimal damage as a result of the storms.

Being the more rested of the two I volunteered to take our dog out the next morning. I swung our building door open and my jaw dropped open. Lightening struck a tree not five feet from our building. Bark shot off of the tree in all directions, and though it didn’t fall over the tree was splintered into lots of thin strips where the lightening must have hit. It looked a lot like pulled chicken if that’s any sort of helpful reference. Our building does not have a lightening rod (it should!) so we feel very, very lucky.

Liam called his mother when he was on the way to work the next morning to tell her that we were fine, and about the lightening strike. Apparently she and my FIL were watching the weather on the nightly news and my normally very reserved FIL shouted at the tv “OH YEAH…HOW DOES HE LIKE IT NOW!?!??” in reference to our current residence.  We hear you FIL; we hear you.

Cross another item off of the Authentic Midewestern Experience list for Liam because his tornado experience was definitely the real deal.  Luckily there was very little damage that night – I believe about 30,000 lost power and there was some flooding and damage from a few lightening strikes…overall a very quiet night for such a stormy one.

July 2015 Shopping Summary

More clothing talk!  I’ll be back tomorrow with something not related to clothes, so feel free to check back then if my wardrobe just isn’t your thing.

I realized that I haven’t shown you two items that I purchased with gift cards from the holidays/my birthday.  Surprising no one who knows me in real life, I purchased shoes.

First, sandals.  Earlier in the summer I posted a blog of all of my shoes and I mentioned that one of the pairs of sandals was at least four years old.  Well, they died.  I wore them all the time when I was on vacation and they finally did snap shortly after we got home.  Feel free to tell me if you hate my new pair because I’m genuinely curious.  In New England (that place I think I live) plenty of adults wear these shoes.  But I know that in other parts of the country this brand is considered toddler shoes.  Behold, my Salt Water sandals:

Screen shot 2015-06-23 at 10.20.25 AM

Now I could have gotten a more mature color (they come in black/navy/white/red/tan) but then I wouldn’t be me.   Besides – I already have a pair of sandals in a dark green leather.  They are between $35 and $40 on Amazon.  Be warned: some places like to mark these up a LOT.  I’ve seen them for $80 (!!!!!) in hipster-y boutiques.  Don’t pay that much.

I also bought a pair of Chelsea boots for fall.  They were from the Topshop pop-in at Nordstrom.  Special snowflake statement coming: I have a hard time finding boots without tongues that can fit over my really high arches.  Boo hoo.  Chelsea styles work really nicely for me because of the elastic pieces near the heel.  Hot feet are uncool so I’m not wearing these yet but I’ve worn them at home and they are really comfortable!

Screen shot 2015-06-30 at 12.26.18 PM

So there you go.  I didn’t actually buy any clothing in July.  I don’t need anything else for summer – heck, I don’t want anything else for summer at this point.  It’s too warm to be thinking about fall clothing and that’s all that seems to be in stores right now.

And as always I’ll be liking this post with Franish once hers goes live.

Month in Review: June 2015

 

road trippin'

 

Road trippin’

Alternative title: The color of my legs matches my iPhone cord😦😦

June was such a fun month!  Liam was free for most of it and I took a vacation with some of my best friends. We kept things fairly relaxed around the house for the most part.

tomatojune

The apartment gardening project is just okay.  Not much better than that.  I must have been right about the strawberries being diseased because they died almost immediately after planting.  We also think that we got a bad packet of bean seeds because only one spouted and it’s now dying as well.  In happier news, we have had lots of basil and parsley-filled dishes and just harvested our first pepper yesterday.  No tomatoes are ready yet but we added the plants kind of late.  Because the beans were totally unsuccessful we planted radishes the other day and those are just starting to show tiny sprouts.

empanada taco chips

Though we were out and about a ton last month we only had one real date night with just the two of us.  Early in the month we went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner and had some fabulous tacos.

ice cream pod

There was also one road trip: we headed to my parents’ house for a weekend of celebrating my dad.  Ice cream is our fuel of choice for these drives.  Culvers is a thing we will miss greatly if we leave the midwest.  We celebrated by power washing, sanding, staining, weeding, mulching, tree trimming…all the outdoor -ings, basically.  My dad is of the Puritanical “early to bed, early to rise” mindset and is always, always, always the first one to bed when we’re together.  Slightly embarrassingly all of the children were in bed before him.  We were so tired from the yard work that a few of us even fell asleep before dessert!

Books I read: Primates of Park Avenue; Where’d You Go, Bernadette?  I liked both!

TV shows: None from what I remember.  Hockey, obviously.  We’re both big Blackhawks fans (even though Liam *should* be a Bruins fan he agrees that Chicago sports > Boston sports!) and are very saad about the trade news.

Snippets:  This is the first month where I have waited until the end to draft this post.  Normally I will have it in the draft folder for the entire month and I’ll add little bits as I remember them.  There was so little computer time this month that it didn’t work out that way and I really have nothing else to add.  :)

June 2015 Shopping Summary

Time for yet another round-up of what I purchased this month.  Liam had most of the month off and I hardly spent any time shopping or browsing at all.  At the very beginning of June I bought a few summer things that I knew I would want on the girls’ trip.  But that was it.

First off, printed pants.  Last summer I wore a pair of wide-leg linen pants to death and instead of replacing them with something very similar I bought these goofy pants at Old Navy.  They’re very comfortable and I wore them on the plane both ways.  I also wear them while I’m working now that our complex has turned on the air conditioner.

Screen shot 2015-06-15 at 9.12.05 AM

Old Navy Women’s Printed Soft Pants $20

I spotted this shirt while shopping with my mom and bought it because it was everything I want in a tee.  Long enough, flowing, lightweight and extremely soft.  Often worn with the above printed pants.

Screen shot 2015-06-15 at 9.10.39 AM

Gap V-neck Linen Tee $17

Last, a tank top.  I have a few fitted tank tops that I wear under sheer or low-cut shirts but I don’t like wearing fitted tank tops on their own.  So I bought this loose one from Everlane.  I had a credit in my account so I didn’t pay for it, but I would definitely pay $25 for another one.  I love that it’s Made in USA and it has held up really well to washing.

Screen shot 2015-06-17 at 1.18.55 PM

Everlane Pocket Tank $25

That is $37 for the month of June.  And because I’m a nerd I can also tell you that the cost-per-wear of each item is already under $5.  For that metric it’s definitely beneficial to buy things in the beginning of the month🙂  Hop on over to Franish for more monthly budget posts.