Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lola & Zoe's Holiday Boutique Sale with Chloe + Isabel!

If you are anything like me, you're already into holiday shopping. Also if you're anything like me, you're using said shopping as an excuse to buy a few things for yourself too.

My friend from graduate school, Angelina, teaches just like me, but now she has a part time business selling jewelry with Chloe + Isabel too. She asked me if Lola and Zoe wanted to host an online party where all our readers and friends would get four days of Chloe + Isabel discounts, and of course, they said "meow," which means "yes."

A little about the brand: It's a mix of the trendy (Chloe) and the traditional (Isabel). All pieces are hypoallergenic and come with a lifetime warranty.

About the deals (Good November 20-24 at  www.bit.ly/lolaandzoesshop:
Free studs for the first 3 orders placed (your choice):

Free shipping, all orders, use this link
Free shipping and free studs, orders of $125 or more
Free shipping, free studs, and $50 off orders of $200 or more
Each time you spend $20, you will be entered into a raffle to win $25 off of a $75 purchase

Also, this gift set of Lola and Zoe's favorite things is $158 and comes with free studs (and free shipping of course).

One thing I really like about Chloe + Isabel is that they have a lot of options under $25, which is perfect if you are exchanging gifts with a lot of girlfriends this holiday season. In that section, I'm really eying the aquamarine and teal studs, the braided double leather wrap bracelet in navy, and the art deco hair pin duo. What do you have your eye on? If you're on my X-mas list, you just might end up with it under the tree ;) but you gotta tell me! I can't read minds!

Shop for you and yours until November 24th at the link www.bit.ly/lolaandzoesshop

Merry wish fulfilling!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Building a House Month 7.5: Would You Like Walls With That?

When we last left off on October 27th, the house had plumbing and electric in place, a failed fire inspection had caused things to slow down a little, and the insulation would waiting in the garage.

I returned to the house on November 5th in between trips to Orlando and Boston. I walked through with the builder and his assistant; they had questions about where we wanted the cable hookups in all the rooms. Though we will have hookups in the living room and all three bedrooms, I know the living room is the only room that will likely have a TV in it as long as we live there, and I don't think we'll ever pay for cable. The builders also delivered the good news that our HVAC, electric, and plumbing inspections had all passed: we were ready for drywall.

November 5th 

Our house had its very first leak. A plumber had to be called in to fix it. 
2nd bathroom 


Master bath
The builder also told me they were planning to start on drywall that week and finish the next week. He told me once drywall goes in, we can expect 75 days until closing. In my mind, I calculated a late January closing: perfect. However, when I ran that by the builder, he said more like late February because they would "lose a lot of time for Christmas." Even with losing a week for Christmas, 75 days should still put us at the beginning of February. I don't know if he was just being conservative in his estimate, or if construction workers take off a month at Christmas, but I told him March 1st was the latest we could close on the house (our lease at the apartment ends 3/5/14), and he seemed to think that was doable. I was a bit disappointed in the news because I don't want to wait, but I was also relieved to hear we might not be wasting as much rent money on the apartment as I had suspected (we cannot break the lease without more financial penalty than just paying the lease off). The builder also told me he would be living across the street from us in a house that was closing next week. I wonder if he realizes that I will now be at his door anytime something goes wrong?

Brendan and I visited the house together on November 10th and saw the first stages of insulation and drywall going in: 
November 10th 

Skylight with insulation 

Master bedroom with insulation 

Hallway view 

Hallway with drywall

Kitchen area with drywall

garage with drywall

Laundry with drywall

Breaker box 

We returned again yesterday on November 15th, and we were able to meet our neighbors on the right side (The Johnsons). They seem like a nice couple. They have two young boys and a dog. I said a silent prayer that the dog isn't the yappy type. They told us that they were supposed to close in August but ended up closing in October. We knew the building process would probably be slower than expected, which is why we signed the apartment lease through early March, though we were told to expect an early January completion. 

November 15th 
Inside, the drywall is about 90% complete. 

View from entry 

Master bedroom 
And the big development: we have cabinets! Of course, they haven't been stained yet.

Cabinets and kitchen island unstained
Master bathroom:
Master bath cabinets unstained
The second bathroom is the one place still needing drywall.
Second bathroom cabinet 

Living room 

Bedroom 2

Bedroom 3

Garage with attic 

Yesterday, our lender CCed us into an email to the building office asking what our expected closing date would be, and the building office wrote back and said "looking at the end of December." What? I wrote back relaying the conversation with the builder the week before, in which he said the end of February. The office emailed the builder asking him to confirm the closing date, but he hasn't responded yet. End of December would be way too early for us. We won't be in town for a good half of the month! 

So, in summary, in less than three weeks, our house got insulation, drywall, and cabinets, and we will close on it sometime between the end of December and the end of February. According to my research, up next is primer paint, brick, interior doors/baseboards/decorative trim, and paint. 

Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I did it! 4th 5K day!

I felt insane when I realized I had scheduled a 5K (Face the Race) for the first weekend in three weekends that I would be in town. As I mentioned, Midland had a recent cold front, and my training plans went out the window with my trip to Florida 2 and 1/2 weeks ago, so these factors made me unenthusiastic, but there was one motivation stronger than all the deterrents: we had already paid for the race!

With my mind made up that I wasn't skipping, I set my Saturday alarm for 7:00am. Lola had other ideas and woke me up at 6:00am. It was 36 degrees. I ate an English muffin with peanut butter, hydrated, and made sure my iPod was charged. I dressed in running shorts, multiple layers on top, a band to cover my ears, gloves, and sunglasses. It all seemed like a good choice...my legs were numb the first mile or so, but they warmed up as Brendan promised. Brendan decided to run with me, which was cool. He wanted to pace me and help me beat my previous best time. I kept pace really well on my own (despite having to pass around lots of walking traffic) and listened to my Ipod but had a really tough last 0.5 mile. Brendan didn't let me walk though and kept reminding me how close we were. So much of running is mental. I know things were feeling worse than they really were, but I really wanted to slow down, and I was arguing with him (I'm so stubborn!). The cold wind in my face when we made the second to final turn was not helping, and there were no mile markers, so it was hard to tell just how far the finish was. The bottom of my foot had a blister, which didn't help matters either. But Brendan had the watch and assured me I could beat the time if I just pulled ahead, so I gave it my all at the end.

I ended up beating my personal record by 10 seconds, which was awesome. I was in better shape in March 2013 too, so it feels like a big accomplishment to beat that time. I came in at 35 minutes, 28 seconds with an 11 minute 25 second pace. I placed 7 out of 14 in my age group. Afterwards, I was very tired and very ready for breakfast. Brendan said he was proud. 

We had a good time, and the race benefits self esteem programs for local junior high girls. Many of the girls ran in tutus and glitter today. It was pretty cute! This is cute too: 

I love my husband :) 
We met a co-worker for after race breakfast, and then we checked on our house (update coming tomorrow). I'm feeling a day on the couch for the rest of the day (I am already sore). I have no plans other than movies and magazines. Happy Saturday! 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

16 Things I've Learned From Mimi

A week ago tomorrow, my grandmother turned 97.

I was in Boston for a wedding and unable to attend her party, but she was certainly in my thoughts all weekend, as she is most everyday. My Mimi and I have always shared a strong connection. In honor of her birthday, I'm reflecting on 16 things (9+7) that I've learned from Mimi. In no particular order, here they are:

1.) Reading is the best way to escape to somewhere different and keep your mind active. Don't keep reading a book if you don't like it, life is too short, and there's no point in that. Find books that you love and read them as fast as you can. Develop a lifelong love for reading, and your mind will stay sharp.

2.) Smoothies are the best kind of breakfast. Blend up fruit and juice, and it's ready to eat.

3.) Always send a thoughtfully written thank you note. Late is better than never.

4.) "Hiring movers now is cheaper than paying for back surgery later." Well said, Mimi, well said.

5.) You don't have to make promises that you will be anywhere. It's okay to say no or say that you are not sure.

6.) You can disagree with someone's choices and love them at the same time.

7.) Life is too short for regrets. Stop focusing on what could have been and accept what is with as much grace as possible.

8.) If you are not a good fit with someone's family, save yourself time and end the relationship. When you marry a person, you marry that person's family. Unless being close to family isn't important to you, this will be a big source of conflict.

9.) Never read your partner's mail or email or pry into that person's personal business in any way. You have to trust the other person fully to have a happy relationship.

10.) Heartbreaking, difficult, and hard things will happen to us all. This is a part of life. When bad things happen, you have to continue living. A tragedy shouldn't define the rest of your life.

11.) Don't be a person that talks constantly. This is exhausting to other people. Stop and listen.

12.) Buy things at places where you can get the best deal, even if this means making trips to multiple stores.

13.) Save your money. You never know what is going to happen to you. Being self sufficient and financially secure are more important than anything material that you could buy.

14.) Find a lot of people to love. Whether you have a family or develop rich friendships, being invested in other people will add quality and quantity to your life.

15.) Keep busy. Schedule weekly bridge games when possible.

16.) Never say no to playing a game of Scrabble.

Photo taken by my cousin, Amanda Figueroa. 
Happy belated birthday, Mimi. Thank you for all you continue to teach me. I hope I get to be 97 and just like you one day!

In other news: we got Brendan's car back from the shop today. Three cheers for having two cars again! It has also turned very cold in Midland (currently 31 degrees). I am not ready for it to be this cold, but I have no choice, so I took my boots in to be repaired, and I took my work pants to the dry cleaners. Winter is coming. Stay tuned for a 5K recap (spoiler alert: I don't think we'll be breaking any records) and a house update this weekend. Happy almost Friday!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Katie and Anthony's Wedding Weekend

Happy Monday...

If you don't think those two words go together, then just make the executive decision that they do. I'm having a good day because I decided to approach the day with positivity and energy, even though I am, admittedly, feeling a bit drained.

Brendan and I have had an incredibly busy week since my previous post last Monday. We worked the first half of the week (Monday through Wednesday), and I even fit in a quick look at the house on Wednesday (update post coming soon). After his night class on Wednesday, Brendan's car was giving him some trouble, but we didn't have time to do anything about it because we had to pack for our trip to Boston. We set the alarm for 4:30am on Thursday morning, and we caught a 6:00am flight out of Midland. We were headed to Boston to celebrate the marriage of Brendan's cousin, Katie, to Anthony, and we were both excited to be a part of the day.

We arrived to Boston in the afternoon, and we were lucky that the groom had some time to pick us up from the airport and give us a ride to our hotel. We checked in and met up with Brendan's parents and sister Annie later that night for our version of Thanksgiving. Brendan's parents treated us to an AMAZING meal at a really exceptional Italian restaurant called Davios. I highly recommend it if you are ever in the area. What followed? Bowling of course, with all the Egans that were in town.

On Friday, we got to spend time with family, and Brendan's mom treated Annie and I to manicures, pedicures, and eyebrow waxes at a fancy salon called MiniLuxe. Then, Brendan, Annie, and I rehearsed for the wedding and enjoyed a most delicious rehearsal dinner hosted by the groom, Anthony's family. My gosh was the pizza and pasta good. It's a wonder any of us could fit into our wedding outfits! The bride made us the sweetest gifts: personalized make up bags (filled with lip balm, nail file, earrings, and bracelets), personalized stationary (each bridesmaid's stationary looked different to match her personality), sour patch kids, and the sweetest card. Brendan got journals, a bag of miniature cats (don't ask), and cards shaped like business cards that simply read "Stop talking." I think he should pass them out when students talk in class.

Saturday, the girls met early for hair and make up at the BeStyled Salon.
Becky (bridesmaid/cousin by marriage), Carol (mother of the bride), and Katie (bride)
Annie (cousin of the bride/bridesmaid), Me (bridesmaid/cousin by marriage), and Katie (bride)

After hair and make up, there was lunch, a few set up things, getting ready and lots of photos. Check out these amazing paper bouquets the bride made. I love that it will last forever.

And each one was personalized:

I don't have photos of the ceremony because, well, I was in it! But I can say it was beautiful: Brendan wrote and read a poem for the occasion, and friends of the bride wrote and performed a song. The vows were written by bride and groom and were funny and sweet. I definitely was teary eyed. Afterwards, I was ready to party. There were buses between ceremony, reception, and hotel, so none of us had to worry about transportation all night, which is awesome.

At the cocktail hour, there was an amazing board that just had tons of different cheeses, chutneys, and toast on it. It was heaven. Sorry the photos are a little dark!

The space for the reception was decorated beautifully:

Katie added so many little touches. The favors were spices that were personalized with our names and also served as escort cards. The food was served family style and was very tasty. The band kept us all dancing and even let the wedding party join them onstage for the final song (Journey--Don't Stop Believing).

It was a magical night to remember, and I was very honored to be a part of it. Being a bridesmaid was definitely another "official Egan" moment for me, and I loved it. After the after-party Saturday night (you didn't think we'd go to bed before 1:00am, did you?) we were very tired on Sunday morning and very glad that a delicious breakfast was included in our stay. We were also glad that we sprung for more expensive 2:00pm flights instead of early ones.

We had to take three flights to get home yesterday (Boston to NYC, NYC to Dallas, and Dallas to Midland). We made it back to the apartment around 11:30pm last night, slept, and woke up bright and early to teach at 8:00am this morning. Complications: we were completely out of water, so had to leave early and stop at 7-11 for coffee (and they only had decaf!) AND we are sharing a car until the shop can get Brendan's back to us (fingers crossed for the repairs being easy, inexpensive, and relatively fast). All in all, I'm just so thankful our travels were not delayed or complicated.

There was also a big celebration in my family this week: On Friday, my grandmother turned 97, and my family threw her a party on Saturday. I decided I want to do a separate post on my mimi later, so here is a pic of her cake in the meantime.

Tonight, I am off to yoga and Brendan is teaching until 10:00pm. I have big dreams of cooking us a healthy and delicious dinner (even though Brendan will have to eat his late). Brendan and I are also signed up to run a 5K Saturday morning (sigh). I have no idea what I was thinking when I scheduled this, but by golly, I'm gonna make it happen.

By the way--If you are interested in paper flowers, personalized stationary, or personalized wedding invitations/menus/escort cards/thank you notes, etc., Check out  Katie's website. She does custom jobs that turn out extraordinary.

Monday, November 3, 2014

OBSESSED (Erin Condren Life Planner Review and Coupon)

The following is my review. I purchased this product myself, and this post is not sponsored by Erin Condren...For coupon, click this link and sign up for an account. 

Yesterday, when I returned home from Orlando, I was most excited to see Brendan and the girls, but I was second most excited about THIS package:

What was inside, you ask? Oh, just the LIFE PLANNER that I designed two and half weeks ago and have been fantasizing about ever since. What is a life planner, you ask? It's a customizable paper planner. It is on the expensive side for a paper product (I paid $55 for 15 months), and it is certainly bulkier than an ipad or iPhone, but, for me, I can already tell it is going to be far more effective than any computer/iPhone/or ipad ever could be in helping me organize everything.

Let me start by saying, I am a paper person: always have been, always will be. My current system of organization involves a wall calendar in my kitchen and one in my office. Even with the option of google docs or calendars, I am never going to find efficiency in the tech world. My brain just doesn't work that way. I need to see it on paper. Colors and checklists are also a big help, as is having space to actually write. My current organization system is failing me. There is more going on than I can fit in a box, and I can't take a wall calendar with me. Plus, with a wall calendar, it is hard to flip forward and back in time. I need to be able to track my professional development and plan for conferences and weddings that are a year ahead. All of this was motivation to buy a life planner, even though, at first, I was hesitant to spend that kind of money a paper planner. I'm glad I did though. I don't think Office Depot sells anything that I would like remotely as much, and as Brendan points out, my planner has already given me $55 worth of joy! For me, I have to like the product to stick with it consistently, and I know I will get tons of use from my EC planner.

So here's a look at my planner:

The front and back covers are laminated and 100% customizable. There are may designs to choose from. I decided to make a collage. If you can't decide, the covers are actually removable (you can take them on and off, but it takes effort, so they aren't going to just fall off). Extra covers retail for $10.95, which is more than I, personally, would spend on one, but I've seen several free promotions for them lately.

Front Cover 
Back cover 
The durable cover is very appealing to me: you could spill coffee on this, and it would be fine (in fact, I've already spilled water on mine, and it was totally fine). It would also be really difficult to bend, and it is tear proof. The planner is bound with very durable coil. This isn't going to fall apart on you. On the inside cover, there is a place to write your name and contact info.

Then, you get a page with the year at a glance. This goes from July 2014-December 2015. Erin Condren debuts 18 month life planners every July.

Up next, there are color coded month and week calendars. What I mean by this, is that each month has an assigned different color, and that color theme is on the month at a glance and week at a glance pages. There is also a ruler/bookmark to hold your spot.

Each week has a view like this, giving you space in every day to write your plans for morning, noon, and night, and giving you the all important checklist space.

I couldn't wait to attack my first week. Taking some time on Sunday to really think about the upcoming week has already made a huge difference in how organized I feel. I LOVE the three parts to the day set up. I use morning for anything before noon, afternoon for anything from noon-5pm, and night for anything after 5pm. I use the side for a checklist, which has grown to disturbing proportions since this photo.

Another thing I love is that each month has a laminated tab:

Those bands were an accessory add on for $6.95; they hold the planner together and bookmark pages. Honestly, another selling point for me was that they double as headbands/hair ties. This is coming from someone who forgets a ponytail holder for the gym 10% of the time and is really annoyed by it.

After all the tabs for each month (my planner is running October 2014--December 2015, so I have 15 months), there is a notes section.

I love that both lined and blank pages are included. I will definitely be taking meeting notes in here, and I even envision using this is as a space to write down attendance next semester. I'm so tired of taking notes in random notebooks and on random scraps of paper...there are about 31 sheets for notes, and I know I will use them all and be happy to have everything in one spot.

The designs are so cute! 
After the notes section comes the glance ahead 2016-2017 calendar:

Then comes four pages of different colored stickers. The first two pages have things written on the stickers like "birthday," "hair appt.," "dr. appt.," etc. The last two pages are blank. There are a total of 240 stickers. When you make your planner, you can add more customized typed stickers or blank stickers. The stickers can also be moved around in case appointments change, but that also means you can "recycle" them. 

Next comes the pocket folder, which is great to hold invitations with directions, or things like that in, and the "Forget me Not" booklet.

Inside the booklet, you can write birthdays and anniversaries, and the nice thing is, you only have to write it all down once, instead of transferring them from planner to planner each year.

Up next is a plastic pocket that can hold things like pens, business cards, etc. Inside, there were 25 labels (gift labels, "this book belongs to" labels, and some labels customized with my name). I also had 2 "let's get together" cards in mine, which are basically like blank business cards that you can fill your information in on.

Overall, I'm very happy with my EC life planner, and I plan to purchase one again in January 2016 when mine runs out. That said, here are some factors to consider: 
  • I wish I could order 18 months at any time, versus only being able to order an 18 month version in July. 
  • Price: Even with my $10 discount, the planner, elastics, and shipping came out to nearly $60. This is a lot for a planner. I think each person has to individually assess whether or not it would be "worth it."
  • Wait time/Shipping: I ordered my planner on October 14th and picked the cheapest shipping option ($7.95). My planner shipped on October 23rd and arrived on October 30th. All in all, the process takes over two weeks, unless you pay for faster shipping. For someone desperately needing to get organized (me!), the wait time is the worst part. 
  • A final thing to consider is the size of this planner. It is 7x9 and pretty heavy and bulky. It isn't something that you could easily fit in a purse. I usually use both a purse and tote bag, so, for me, the larger size isn't a problem. 
Overall, I'm very happy with this planner. It is cute, colorful, fun, and easy to use. I feel a lot more organized, even after just one day of use! To order your own life planner, click here for $10 off. You will be redirected to a sign up page, and EC will email you a coupon for $10 off.

Happy life planning! 
P.S.-My life planning is crazy. I returned from Orlando yesterday afternoon, and on Thursday, Brendan and I leave for a wedding in Boston. I'm excited and exhausted. Wish me luck this week! 
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