Tuesday, June 24, 2014

CATCHING MY BREATH, LETTING IT GO


HIIIIIIIIII! I MISS YOU GUYS! I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while but I promise that I'm still alive. Lots of exciting things happening and so much to tell you. There has been so much in fact that I've been racing around just to stay afloat, but when my priest asked me last night in marriage prep, "What do you do for fun?", my answer included planning and organizing things. I just love it!

So here's what's been happening lately...

Home Search 2014
Josh and I are researching, crunching numbers and looking at thousands of condos in Arlington. We are deciding whether to rent or buy and it's been taking up a lot of time and energy. All good though... I'm learning so much! I feel incredibly empowered and prepared. Thank you to sweet, sweet Meg, Rach and Miemo for the housing search advice. I need all the help I can get!

Wedding-palooza
I am a thousand posts behind on updates for you guys about the wedding. Although, I'm sure no one cares as much as I do. Upcoming topics will be shower games, how to send out invitations in an organized way, favors and welcome bags, and some of the amazing vendors I've used.

Right now we are in good shape. The invitations are going out this week! Eeeeee! We are meeting with our florist and DJ again in July. Our photographer rocks my socks off and is killing it. We have the cake tasting scheduled. And on 4th of July weekend I get to do my hair trial and GO TRY ON MY DRESS FOR THE FIRST TIME! Major win.

First and Last Film
Last weekend I helped Josh shoot a short film. You may have noticed all the pics I put on instagram. He's submitting it for a few festivals and it was fun to help him bring this project to life. He wrote the piece and it will serve to showcase his work. Let me just say that I've never actually shot a short film. IT WAS EXHAUSTING! We filmed in our friend Emily's apartment (she was so nice to let us use it) from 3pm - 1am on Saturday and then 9am - 4pm on Sunday. And that is considered quick for a film. Holy moly.

Now Josh is editing and I'll be helping as I can. Josh taught me everything I need to know to shoot the corporate films I make at work, so it was awesome to learn even more. Although we were a little late to have dinner at Josh's parents' house and meet his extended family, we made it in time for cake. :)



Podcasting
Much like video, my boss looked at me two weeks ago and said "We should figure out how to do a podcast and start a series." By 'we' she means me. So I've been busily researching and actually recorded my first podcast last week. Now I just have to figure out how to edit it all together and create the XML file to get it on iTunes. NBD. Hah!

I will say, that I have fallen in love with podcasts through my research. Did you know that you can download the free podcast app and then just listen to as many free podcasts as you want? My commute is so much better. Here are my favorite podcasts I'm listening to right now. You should check them out!

Just search for them in iTunes or follow the links below to listen on your computer. On your phone, I think it's really easy to download this app and then search for the below names in it and 'subscribe'. This is what I do and then I have them in my app and it tells me which is new. It'll play on my phone or when I'm driving, through my car speakers.


So how are you lately?
Do you listen to any good podcasts?
Do you have any tips about creating one?
What would you want to hear from me if we did a She is Moments podcast?

Monday, June 16, 2014

DO NOT FLY AMERICAN / US AIRWAYS



Let's be honest, if you fly one of these airlines, chances are you won't get to your destination. At all. Ever. It won't happen.

I was going to be generous and entitle this post something like 'He Had Other Plans for Me" or "The Silver Lining" but instead I went with the truth. I will not be flying American / US Airways (they are merged now) ever again because they made me miss my friend Miriam's bachelorette party in Nashville last weekend. 

Sorry I missed Bride Day Friday, I was too busy weeping in the airport. True story.

Yes, I am a dramatic person and no I won't talk about this for the whole post but here is the basic gist:
  • I arrive at the airport and try to print my boarding pass for the first leg of my flight to Nashville
  • I cannot print my boarding pass
  • A rude US Airways employee yells at me that my flight has been cancelled like I was supposed to know even though I NEVER got a notification. 
  • I wait in line (also on the phone) for over an hour and get rebooked on a direct flight
  • I celebrate
  • I get through security and am waiting in line for a beer with a friend when he gets a call that this second flight was cancelled
  • I get no notification
  • We run out of the terminal (without beer) and get back in hellish line at US Airways counter
  • I wait in line for over 2 hours (not on the phone because mine is dead from the first call)
  • I eat weird snack foods I find in my purse to stay alive
  • I watch everyone in line around me being told on their phones that there are no flights
  • I sadly text my friends and prepare myself
  • I let an 80 year old woman recovering from cancer use the last battery percentage on my phone to call her son since she was traveling alone (broke my heart!)
  • I finally get to the counter and they tell me that there are no flights that will get me to Nashville before my return flight home
  • I start to cry
  • I stand there as they then tell me that they can't refund my ticket because it was originally booked through American and even though they are merged that is not how it works
  • I cry way harder
  • I listen to the manager tell the poor man helping me that he can walk me down the terminal to American so I don't have to wait in the two hour line there. 
  • I walk to the American desk and cry to their manager.
  • I wait another 30 minutes before Josh comes to get me and I cry on him.
  • I leave the airport with a few notes in my account, no flight, and no refund
  • I call my friends and cry and tell them I can't come
  • I cry the whole way home
  • I make Josh drive me to Whole Foods to get my some Belgian-style beer
Note: Later that night (after a beer) I called the American hotline and they finally said that they were able to give me a refund.

Double Note: Josh is the most patient man alive. 

So whoops, I guess I did use the whole post to talk about this but I AM FURIOUS WITH THIS AIRLINE. The amount of time I wasted and the number of people who were rude to me and the fact that I missed Miriam's entire bachelorette party make me angry. 

But you know what? There was absolutely nothing I could do about any of it. 

Eventually I calmed down and realized that Miriam was still going to have a wonderful time and that I am healthy as are my loved ones.

Plus there was a lot of silver lining to the weekend once I gave in and accepted my fate.




  • I got to attend my friend Erica's bridal shower and give her my gift in person. 
  • I got to take Grandpa to dinner with my mom and aunt for Father's Day at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
  • I got to go to an impromptu concert at Iota with Josh and hear the amazing Margot MacDonald

  • I got to go to my pool

  • I got to do laundry and cook veggies and feel good about my apartment
  • I got to have a family bbq at Uncle Steve's
  • I got to open some belated shower presents at mom's house


  • I got to talk to my dad, patti and Julia for a long time on the phone
  • I got to see all the pictures of Miriam and my Alpha Phi sisters having a great time (as they should!)
Rant over. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, BUT DO YOU RENT OR BUY?


Josh and I are in full gear with everything. And it's awesome! I really love planning our life together and making intentional choices about how we want to save/invest/spend our money, where we want to live, what is most important to us about the wedding, which leisure activities we should prioritize, etc. There is something almost magical about realizing that there are two of you, and you're in this together, not just in theory anymore but (after September) by law and through vows. What a cool concept and selfless adventure we are starting!

The truth is, we are changing many things at once by getting married. Josh and I have chosen not to live together until we get married, so in addition to planning the wedding, we also have to a) figure out where we are going to live, b) move there, and c) learn to live together. 

It's a lot. But I'm just giddy about it. The wedding is one amazing day, but this home we create for ourselves will be the beginning of a lifetime. 

hahaha google photos automatically did this when i imported and i just couldn't resist!

Right now we are in the research phase since we won't need a new place until September. Josh lives in a house with two of his friends and has a third friend ready to take his place whenever he wants to move out. I live with my delightful roommate Katie in an apartment down the street and we are on a month-to-month lease. We are so lucky to have flexibility because it allows us to carefully decide where we want to live and not feel rushed or limited by leases. 

Currently, we are deciding is it financially smarter for us to rent or buy right now?

I met with our realtor and friend Nicky last night and she showed us some amazing 2 bedroom condos (that we can actually afford) and Josh is meeting with her tonight since he got stuck at work yesterday. We are also looking at potentially renting in my current building which is a great deal for our neighborhood right on the metro. One other rental property closer to Josh's place is also on our radar. 

In the past few weeks of seriously starting to look, I've been doing a lot of research and learning SO MUCH about how it works to buy a home (in our case a condo). I'm such a nerd I know listen to Suze Orman's podcast, and spend a lot of time in the evenings on Redfin. It's fascinating and I love that my brain is expanding regardless of the decision we end up making. 


Here are a few things that you need to know when weighing your options to rent or buy. These are my personal explanations, so if you're studying for a test on this, I'd check a better source. :)

Down Payment
How much money you can pay for the house up front. This is measured in percentages. So if you can put 5% down, you would take the price of the house (or condo or whatever) and multiply it by 0.05. You need to have that much money in cash (check) to give to the bank when you sign the final paperwork and buy.

Closing Costs
I've been told that this is usually around 2.5% of the total home price and is also required up front. Basically it covers all of the fees you need to pay to buy the property. You may be paying the realtor, bank, county, inspector, etc. Get your realtor/lender to itemize this for you and you can know exactly where it's going. But remember you need to have this amount up front. 

Principal and Interest (P&I)
This is the amount that is basically your mortgage payment. The principal is the amount that goes toward paying off your property and the interest is the amount you're paying to the bank for borrowing all of the money on your loan. 

Interest Rate
The rate at which the bank is charging you to borrow money. Right now in the DC area (and I believe at large in our country) the interest rates for mortgages are really low, around 3.5 - 4.5% as a rough estimate. That means that it's a fairly good deal to borrow (take out a mortgage) now because the bank is going to charge you less over the period of the loan to borrow the money. Be mindful though that this does not make it smart to buy unless you have the required down payment and that your monthly costs will be well below your monthly take-home income after you pay all of your other bills.

PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance)
For those of us who are first time home buyers, PMI is often a reality. The lender will tell you exactly how much you have to pay but the general rule is, if you put less than 20% down (your down payment) you will have to pay PMI each month. The good news is that once you own 20% of the home (after paying your P&I payments over a few years then it will go away. Note: If you do FHA, which requires you to put less money down (as your down payment), then you will have PMI for the entire 30 years (or however long) on your loan. Ask your lender and realtor how to determine if this is a smart investment for you. Sometimes if you are going to sell within a given period of time it may be worth it.

HOA (Home Owners Association) Fee
If you're buying a condo or town home there will generally be an HOA fee. This is for the building cutting the grass and taking care of the pool (if you're so lucky) and replacing the roof on the communal building in a condo, etc. This payment of a few hundred dollars (in DC) is ADDITIONAL to the P&I and PMI. So you need to factor this in to your monthly payments. It will always be there. 

Property Taxes
There is an annual property tax when you buy property. Divide it by 12 and add that monthly amount to your expected monthly payment. 

Hazard Insurance
This is homeowner's insurance. I have renter's insurance right now. It's probably going to be less than $100 a month depending on the size of your home, loan, etc. Ask about it and don't stress too much. It protects you from being sued so it's worth it. But make sure you factor it in to your monthly payment.


Phew! We are seeing a few more properties tonight - wish us luck!




Do you rent or buy? 
What do you look for when you are looking for a place to live?


Monday, June 9, 2014

TIME TO BE SHOWERED



I cannot even begin to explain how much fun I had at my bridal shower last Saturday and how grateful I am to my Aunt Celeste for hosting it, Charlotte for planning such amazing games, Kristin for flying into town, my Mom for sending out the invitations, and my future MIL for bringing such yummy goodies to share. Oh, and not to mention the 30 of my family and friends who came to support me, play silly games, drink mimosas and shower me with love and presents. 

I am so blessed. 

When my Aunt Celeste offered to host a bridal shower for my mom's side of the family, local friends, and any of Josh's relatives who wanted to come into town, I was excited. But I never knew how much fun it could be. I was actually a little nervous the morning of my shower as KJ and I were getting ready and I was, inevitably, running late. But I had no reason to be that way, the day was glorious!

When I arrived at my Aunt's house, I saw a gorgeous pink and green "I Do" sign that my cousin Celia made and I knew I was in for a treat. Aunt Celeste, mom, Charlotte, my cousin Celia, and even Uncle Steve, Liam and Ethan were already busy putting out the food.







The house was decorated in green and pink from floor to ceiling and I about exploded with giggles I was so happy. Picture me running around the house taking pictures and squealing. There, now it's like you were there. :)


 


The food and drinks were spectacular. I think the most popular (and my favorite) was the mimosa bar. There were frozen raspberries and three different types of fruit juice to mix with the champagne. I was in heaven. While the orange was classic I really liked the mango and the pomegranate mixers. Not too sweet and really refreshing!
 





There were also little hot dogs, strawberries and angel food cake, sandwiches, egg salad, chocolate covered apricots, chocolate chip cookies, tomatoes and mozzarella, and the list goes on and on! It was so yummy! And everything had some kind of green or pink incorporated, even if it was on a green plate!

   


Mom picked out the favors for the group which were adorable coaster sets. (I got two!) And Aunt Celeste had me bring my recipe box with my new name on it (a gift from Kevin and Kathy for Christmas) and each guest contributed one of their favorite recipes. I LOVE this gift and will treasure making recipes from my family (and new family!) and friends.



KJ got me this hanger for my wedding dress. It's not here yet but we couldn't resist showing it off!


Seeing friends that I've had since Kindergarten and getting to spend time with Josh's grandmothers was really special. I have such a close relationship with my Grandpa, but my mother's and father's mom's passed away when I was younger. It's been really fun getting to know Josh's grandmas and I love being able to grow my relationships with them!




For dessert, Charlotte picked up a white chocolate raspberry cake from Victoria's Cakery. This was such a special treat as this will be our wedding cake! Everyone at the party was raving about it so I think they'll be excited to see it again at the reception.

Charlotte was also SO CUTE. She told me that she specifically requested the lightest color pink for the frosting. She nailed it!



I am still just so overwhelmed by the love from my friends. Those who were able to come to the shower had such an impact on me. I have never felt so loved. I've been to many bridal showers and been invited to still more but it wasn't until becoming a bride that I've realized how much it means when people show up for you. 

The fact that so many of these wonderful women were willing to take time out of their weekends to come and hang out with me and my goofy family just makes me feel so blessed. I am honored to have such good friends and I cannot even begin to express to each one of them how much it mean that they were there. 

I will be trying to though in my wordy thank you notes. Coming soon to a mailbox near you! ;)







It's fitting that the last picture is of me and my Char Char. Charlotte and I have been friends since high school and I don't know what I would do without her. As for the shower, she completely took charge and rocked it and created so many hilarious and personal games for the event. Stay tuned for Part II: Games and Presents. You won't want to miss it!

Thank you thank you THANK YOU to everyone who made my shower so special!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"I THINK THE PYRAMID PICTURE DESERVES IT'S OWN POST"



What a whirlwind weekend I've had. Verrrrrry similar to last weekend haha. I'm on the couch right now watch the Tony Awards where a few of my friends from NU are working. I keep looking for them. No sightings yet, but we'll see. 

Yesterday was my bridal shower and it was out of this world amazing. That recap will be coming tomorrow. But tonight I have to tell you about the rest of my epic trip to Lake George. You can read Part I here. The title of this post came from Andrea... the crowning glory of our pyramid. :)

So after our hike last Saturday, we were starving! We grabbed some food to-go in town and headed back to our glorious cabin for another night of friendship and cards against humanity.



Once Lindsay and Deanna fell asleep it was just Marco, Reggie, Andrea and I. We ended up doing what we do best, debating about politics and were up until 3am. But the best thing about it is, these people are not only smart and opinionated but also kind. I know that my friends will say exactly what they want to me and expect me to do the same. But at the end of the night, we all still love each other. Just like any other dysfunctional family.

I think I had the most fun setting up the automatic timers on my camera to take all of our group pictures. I was famous in college for taking pictures and I am grateful that they haven't forced me to quit yet.

On Sunday we woke up early, cleaned the apartment and proceeded to take group pictures in the grass. I have never had so much fun. First of all this laying on our stomachs thing was Reggie's idea. That in itself is hilarious as he is usually more annoyed by pictures. (Though no one could be more annoyed than Marco!). We took several rounds of these, but here are the best. Just 6 friends, who have known each other for 10 years and are approaching 30. NBD. :)








I wish there was a better way I could explain this, but I really love these people. I know that no matter how far apart the world flings us, we will always come back to each other and it will always, always feel like home.

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