Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Future Plans

Brendan and I took a big step yesterday and started saving for our retirement by opening Roth IRAs. We have two other retirement accounts through work, but we decided the earlier that we get serious about saving, then the earlier retirement is possible.

We did a lot of research and also consulted with my mom's financial adviser. We found no fee for start up and transfers accounts and that was important to us. We set it up so that we automatically contribute the maximum for last tax year and this one. I like having less bills to think about paying, and it also eliminates the temptation to think of saving for retirement as an option when it really should be a top priority. 

And so is this calculator: 

I'm not an expert, but I do watch a lot of Suze Orman. We follow her advice about putting 20%-25% of take home pay towards retirement and emergency savings. Ultimately, life is chaotic and unpredictable, so even the best laid plans can never be perfect, but we hope for long lives and the means to live them comfortably. If you are young, keep in mind that saving something is better than saving nothing and feel empowered not overwhelmed. 

We've set new financial goals to work toward, as having goals is highly motivating, but for now, we're feeling good about our most recent step. Here's to the future! 
<3 S&B & L&Z 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Start of Spring

Hello friends! 

There is still no internet around here, but I can easily update on my phone. We've had a busy back from break week, and so we're happy to welcome the weekend and Spring today. 

We've done a few home improvements!  Before spring break, we finally figured out what to do with our built in display shelf. Our friend Amanda made this vase, and I found the "flowers" at Target. 
Our friend, Dagan, made us this print, which we hung in our red kitchen.

We're lucky to have such creative and talented friends! 

The Tuesday of spring break, we got some red bar chairs to match the kitchen: 

And this Tuesday, our long awaited bedroom furniture arrived: 

At first, this furniture felt "too tall," but the longer we have it, the more it seems to fit in. I like having extra drawer space, and my clothes are organized for the first time since we moved here. When there isn't enough clothes storage, it is basically impossible to keep a closet functional. I look forward to putting some finishing touches on the closet soon. 

We also have some work to do in our yard this spring. All of our money goes to improving the house lately, but I've never felt more "at home" since I left my childhood home at 18. We try to look for more budget friendly options, like ordering the furniture from discountbedroomfurniture.com, which has brand name furniture for less (we saved $540 vs. ordering from a store in town). We're definitely going to be posting about landscape on a budget this spring, so stay tuned. 

What do you have planned for your weekend? We have sweet potatoes in the oven, and I'm enjoying resting and relaxing in my clean house. Here's to the start of spring and the weekend! 
<3 s, b, L&Z 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Other Half Goes to Spring Training

My 2015 blogging efforts have been lacking due to the busyness of the move + the lack of internet at our new home, but I wanted to check in from spring break. We spent the first four days in Midland, and then we came to Austin on Wednesday. Brendan left via plane very early on Thursday morning for Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers, FL with his Dad and grandparents, and I stayed here to visit with family and friends. 

Here is a very important Red Sox. I'm not sure which one, but I'm assuming he's kind of a big deal because it's the one photo that Brendan sent so far. Come to think of it, I thought the Red Sox wear navy, so maybe this isn't a Red Sox at all! Maybe this is just a picture of a field. Who knows.

This person might be important. 
What I do know is that I got my hair highlighted and cut: 

Also, I did the following Austin activities: 

Brunch with my friend Kelsey
An eye exam (my vision is slightly worse, necessitating new contacts and glasses)
Shopping at Buffalo Exchange
Battling 1 hour and 20 minutes of SXSW traffic (Ugh, it was so bad)

Dinner, drinks, and the Hyde Park Theatre play The Christians with my friend Cassie. It was a tragedy with some comedic moments and very moving. This show leaves you feeling raw and on the edge; I would strongly suggest a drink after seeing it. It stars HPT favorites Katherine Catmull and Ken Webster (husband and wife playing husband and wife), Tom Green and Joey Hood. Plus, it was the first time I saw Jessica Hughes, and she had one of the best scenes in the show and played it perfectly. All five actors get a stand out moment, which makes this ensemble piece spectacular. If you live in Austin, do yourself a favor and see this show which plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until March 28th. Thursdays are pay what you can, which is always a good tip. 

Today, I had breakfast at Trudy's with my parents and then Amanda and I went to the steeping room and walked around the domain. It is a beautiful day out...

Now, if only I didn't have all these midterms to grade. 

I better get back to it. 
<3 S
Missing my other half B and our cats L&Z! 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Happy Day, Happy Housewarming

Oh man! It's happy everything over here: happy weekend, happy spring break, happy housewarming, and happy I've had a few too many brunch drinks. 

We had about 20 of our friends over for a housewarming brunch this morning. I snapped a few pics before everyone arrived. We've been here 5 weeks, and I knew if we waited until the house was "perfect," we'd never have a party, so spring break seemed like good timing since we had some extra hours. The time change threw me off a bit, but the double ovens helped us make up some time! 

On our menu: 
Mini quiches
Pigs in a blanket 
Blueberry, cranberry orange, and lemon poppy seed muffins 
8 types of cheese with French bread, crackers, and apple and peach chutneys
Tomato mozzarella skewers with basil paste and balsamic vinegarette 
Fruit salad (strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, raspberry with mint) 
Veggies with ranch 
And Bloody Marys 

We had a great morning seeing our friends and eating too much. I have a weakness for brunch, so I'll probably spend the rest of the day in a fetal position being too full to move. 

And for Sunday, that is just fine with me! 

Happy weekend! 
S&B plus L&Z 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Greetings From Starbucks

Hello from our home away from home these days: Starbucks; (send giftcards. The lattes are getting expensive).

You guessed it. We still don't have home internet.

But what we don't have in internet, we make up for in snow.

School was canceled again on Friday due to winter weather conditions. Do I even remember how to teach? I'm not so sure.

How have we reacted to the extra time off? Let's just say I've spent a lot of days in my pajamas trying out new Crockpot recipes (Poached Eggs on Spicy Lentils was a favorite and up next is Caribbean Pepper Pot Soup) and Brendan started and finished the novel Mysteries of Pittsburgh.

We finally managed to get dressed around 4:00pm today for a trip to Target to pick out some curtains for the living room...we ended up buying five sets just to see what works. I better not lose that receipt! Our house has a lot of windows, which is nice, but we're pretty cold since the average temperature these days is 28 degrees. Lined curtains seem to do the insulating trick, so we're looking forward to getting them up in the room we spend most of our time in.

I'm most looking forward to tomorrow's high of 67!
Have a great rest of the weekend everyone.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Surprise Long Weekend

Our weekend was...perfect. 

We worked out Friday after work, came home to a clean house thanks to the cleaning service, and I made us stuffed peppers in the crockpot, and we watched Fargo, our new television show obsession. 

Saturday, it was nice out, so after making whole wheat apple pancakes and mimosas, we headed to the apartment for a couple of hours of cleaning. How I cannot wait to turn in the keys and stop paying rent on that place! We had friends over for drinks and snacks on Saturday night, and it was awesome to be able to entertain. We didn't have people over at the apartment much--the stairs, parking, and smaller space just didn't make it totally ideal for guests. Our friends loved the new place. We ended the evening in the jacuzzi tub, which is like having an indoor hot tub. It was so relaxing. 

Sunday was cold and rainy, so we stayed in all day. We watched a lot Fargo. I read Lorrie Moore's new collection bark by the fire, and we made baked potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and salad for dinner. We spent time with the cats, and I even did a little laundry and called the day productive.

At 5am this morning, I got a text that school was delayed until 10am, so I set the alarm for 8am and went back to sleep. Then, at 7:45 another text: school was totally canceled. Since it was and is 21 degrees out, I was totally thankful not to have to bundle up. We slept in, read more, and I made a big pot of chili and we lunched by the fire. 

All in all, it was just the perfect surprise long weekend. We are really enjoying the house. Plus, sometimes the nicest thing is to just be able to break the routine and get some rest! 

We hope your weekend was just as wonderful and maybe even surprisingly long! 

S, B, L&Z 

Friday, February 20, 2015

A House Tour

Happy Friday!

Well, I wish I could post perfect pictures of our house beautifully decorated, fully furnished, and completely done, but my first lesson learned as a homeowner has definitely been we will NEVER be completely done. Yesterday, it finally dawned on me that all the projects are supposed to be enjoyable...so I started letting go of my dreams of perfection and started embracing the craziness for what it is: we have a house, also known as a never ending project and expense!

We've lived in the house three weeks tomorrow, and recently, it has actually started feeling like home. The past three weeks have been the most expensive of my life, but I honestly can say that I love our house. Compared to living in the apartment, I am enjoying: no stairs, a garage to keep my car ice free, reverse osmosis water in my fridge and sink (we used to carry gallons up the stairs since our tap water here tastes so bad), crushed or cubed ice from my fridge (again, no more carrying ice bags up three flights of stairs), purified tap/shower water due to the water softener we had installed, an amazing dishwasher (or maybe it's the water softener? No more streaks!), the double oven and gas stove with a griddle (Brendan loves it for grilling veggies), a lot more space, the fireplace, the heavenly jetted tub, the patio and backyard, and the fact that we share walls with no one.

Moving is stressful, but I would definitely say our move feels worth it. Sometimes I can't believe we have a house. It's still pretty surreal.

Okay, without further ado, here is the tour of house!

First up, the entryway and hallway: 

To the left is the formal dining room (also known as where we are keeping all the empty boxes/we haven't found a dining room table yet):

At the center of the house, our kitchen, featuring our new fridge (would you like crushed or cubed ice with that?)! 

The kitchen is my favorite place in the house. Notice how Brendan has hung our onion baskets in the pantry (this is funny because my mom bought them off our registry for Christmas 2013, and we just now hung them). 

Connected to the kitchen is the laundry room, nothing too exciting here:

And connected to the laundry room is the garage (my dad and Brendan cut, painted, and installed all the shelves):

Okay, back to the house...next to the kitchen is the breakfast area. Our friends Jill & Ryan gave us this table, and we love it:  

Next to the breakfast area is the living room:

And out the back door is the patio/backyard: 
I once, naively, referred to the backyard as a "weekend project" hahaha...we'll be working on it until we move again. We have a lot of yard on the side, so it's a lot of space in need of TLC. 

To the left of the kitchen (under the arch on the right in this photo of the back view of the hall) are the extra rooms and bathroom. 

The front room is the office, which has also become a bit of a catch all for storage. Recognize the mini fridge? We had to do something with it once our real one arrived, so now it is the beer cooler. 

In the middle of the two rooms is the second bathroom:

The back room is the guest room (we still need to hang pictures everywhere!):

To the right of the kitchen/breakfast area is our room:
Hi Zoe!
We ordered furniture (two nightstands, a dresser/mirror, and chest) for this room, but it won't be here for another 2-3 weeks.

 I love my curtains :) I'd like to put a big comfy reading chair next to the window.

And our bathroom, my second favorite spot in the house:  

I love to use my jetted tub...it's the perfect way to unwind at the end of a long day. 

The walk in shower is nice too. Though Lola cannot, for the life of her, figure out what we're doing in this big glass box.

The closet is still a work in progress...hahaha

So that's our home, 3 weeks in! 

I'm sure one day we'll get it perfect...

and then we'll have to move. 

c'est la vie. 


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