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.

2016 Budget: Clothing

This would be one of those posts that got stuck in draft status when I was having my computer woes.

For the past several years my clothing budget has held steady at $600 for the year. It is a number I’m completely comfortable spending and one that lets me purchase pretty much everything I want while having to keep an eye out for sales. I’ve decided to keep the same budget for 2016. I toyed with dropping it down to force me to be more creative in secondhand shopping, but because of where I live I’m forced to rely on online secondhand shopping and I find it far more expensive than in-person.

One thing that’s going to change in 2016 is recapping my purchases on the blog.  Even though it may make for some lengthy posts, I’m going to switch from monthly to quarterly recap posts.  Personal style is a fun hobby of mine but I think that writing monthly recaps leads me to focus more on the acquisition than the styling.  So my next recap will cover everything I’ve purchased from now until the end of March.

I have already bought a few new things this year.  In the after Christmas sales I found a pair of legging jeans and two lace-sleeved shirts (that trend is probably over but I bought them for work anyway) at Gap.  I would also like to buy a new dress for Easter (and work) but I won’t be looking for that for a little while.

PSA: Back up your computers!

I was so excited to choose a word for 2016 (support). I had a great post in my drafts about why it was my word and what kinds of things I want to focus on this year.

You didn’t miss it because I was never able to post it.

That post (and any others) were put on the back burner when my laptop went on the fritz right after the new year. I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to back up everything I can and providing whatever life support to my poor old co that I know how to do or can find on Youtube. After a few weeks of doing everything i can, I fear that the end is nigh.

I cannot use any of the Microsoft Office programs and I get that Mac rainbow wheel of doom every few minutes. My computer is fairly old (5.5 years) and it was used daily for 8-10 hours a day while I was in grad school so I’m not surprised that it’s coming to the end of its useful life. Even though I probably will buy a new Mac somewhat soon, because I cannot use my work computer for anything personal, I think that the immediate solution is just going to be a keyboard and stand for my tablet.

Anyway, the whole point of posting the saga was to hopefully encourage you to back up your computers! I put all of my pictures and grad school files on Google Drive and was still able to come in well under their free storage limit. YMMV, but I have thousands of pictures and lots of photo-heavy notes, so I was pretty pleased with how much space they give for free. Dropbox is another option but I had problems trying to set it up because my computer was remembering an account I used in school and no longer have access to. I know I would have been completely crushed to lose everything on here, and was so relieved when it almost-but-didn’t happen to me.

Holidaze

Title trope? Maybe.

This is a strange time of the year for keeping a blog. I’m still here (!) but not sure what is worth sharing and recording.

Most of us don’t want to read another holiday gift guide – or even opinions of holiday gift guides – at this point.  Work is doing some fun (and unfun) things related to the holiday season, but I don’t really like talking about work on the internet.  So we will leave it at this: I’m scratching my head over a vegetarian breakfast-y side dish to go with a potato and egg casserole and pancakes.  Maybe broiled tomatoes?  Maybe I’m just not thinking hard enough.

Liam and I leave in TWO WEEKS to head back to Chicago for the holidays.  Because we still don’t have snow here (I’m starting to fear a very ugly February/March) I haven’t fully grasped the fact that we could be dealing with things like flight delays and cancellations.  I have already emailed my mother a list of dishes that I want her to make and L and I are trying to narrow down our takeout to-do list so that we both fit in our seats for the return flight.  I may only ever get a plain hot dog but even I think Portillo’s is a magical place.

Work is going to be rough for the next two weeks because I’m still a bit slow at what I do and the expectations on output aren’t really adjusted for the holidays.  I am working slightly extended hours and really trying to avoid even two minute breaks during the day.  Sadly blogs are becoming those things I used to read.  I’ll catch up after Christmas!

Liam and I always take a generous amount of time off from work at this time of year.  More often than not we’re vacationing the week between Christmas and NYE, and that’s true this year as well. I have fewer than 10 work days left this year!

This will very likely be my last post until after the holidays, so whatever you celebrate this time of year I hope it’s wonderful!

 

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.

 

Seis.

Liam and I celebrate six years together this month.  We’ve already exchanged gifts and I couldn’t be more excited because apparently the traditional sixth anniversary gift is candy.  Candy!  That’s so rad.

That Liam and I even met in the first place is definitely a nod to whichever universal force you choose to credit.  Considering the 1300 miles between the places that we grew up and the vast differences in our backgrounds it’s pretty crazy that we even had the opportunity to pair off in the first place.  If Liam hadn’t gone to college (he’s the first in his family) he wouldn’t have been able to be in the place and role where we met.  And if I didn’t have a wanderlust and love of a good cold winter I wouldn’t have either.

Neither of us were looking for a relationship when we met.  I was headed to graduate school in the near future and didn’t want to be conflicted or distracted about my choice.  And, believe it or not, Liam was contemplating a monastic life.   We both thought we would ‘settle down’ in our mid-30s, if at all.  Life is funny that way.  I never know how to respond when people ask me “but how did you know he was the one?” because the truth of the matter is I was never not sure.  In the moment I decided I liked this boy I also realized that we were going to be together forever.  That kind of sounds like tween fangirl talk but it’s exactly how things went down.  For both of us.

Our relationship isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s perfect for us.  I’m fiery and can start a fight about anything and he’s a cold-shouldered Yankee who can be more gruff than he realizes.  We don’t do big romantic gestures or write love notes or send flowers.  We’re both introverts and sometimes we’ll run out of things to talk about when we’re out to dinner.  (Years ago someone said something to me that made me feel terrible about that but now I think it’s just a reflection of who we are.)  Being together is easy, our relationship has been steady and that’s exactly what both of us wanted even if we didn’t know we were looking.

Even though last year’s anniversary was the first milestone that we reached, this year feels more significant.  This past year has been the hardest on us as individuals, and as a result I feel like we really grew up a lot together.  It isn’t so much that our marriage was tested though; that has been the constant and the comfort in a year full of changes both good and bad.  I can think of a few isolated things that would have been easier if I were a single person but the year as a whole would have been much, much tougher without Liam by my side.  So as cheesy as it might sound he and our relationship are what I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving.

We’re off for a super-quick Thanksgiving celebration with L’s family.  Sadly we have to head home right after the big meal because my employer has requested my presence in the office on Friday.  I guess it’s a mixed blessing since it means that I won’t be tempted by Black Friday shopping that I don’t need to partake in anyway because I’ve been done shopping for weeks.  I hope that you all have a wonderful and relaxing weekend with family and friends.  Safe travels!