Saturday, March 26, 2011


Today, I'm frustrated.

I'm frustrated that I don't make enough money to do the things I want, and that I don't get paid for my degree.

I'm frustrated that I can't be in Georgia with my best friends.

I'm frustrated that I can't be in StP for my sister in law on her shot night.

I'm frustrated that I can't find my Costco card.

I'm frustrated that there's mold growing on our bedroom wall, who knows from what. (We just found it - calling maintenance on Monday!)

I'm frustrated that no matter how much I clean, our apartment still feels dirty.

I'm frustrated because I feel like I really don't have any friends anymore. And it kills me so. freaking. much.

I'm just frustrated with life.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Passport!

I just got my passport in the mail!

I'm super excited about it, mostly because it means thundercats are go for our honeymoon in August! It's also one of the new, fancy ones with a microchip (hence the little flag looking thing). It cost $110 for the book (if you only plan on going to Mexico and/or Canada, opt for the Passport Card, which is a much cheaper alternative), but since our travels will be in Europe, it was required. And since I was getting the book, I didn't bother with the card. Hah!

It was actually a really simple process. I already had a passport, so technically all I was doing was renewing mine with a name change. Because of that I could A) mail it in, and B) identification parts weren't needed - I didn't need to gather up my birth certificate or anything like that. All I had to do was send away my previous passport, my marriage license (ie, proof of name change), two photos, the DS-82 form, and a nice, hefty personal check. I also had my photos taken at CVS - the $10 made my life simpler, and I didn't need to worry about them being returned for not being properly sized and whatnot.

It took less than a month for me to get my passport back (though, for the record, I still haven't gotten back my marriage license. It should come back in a separate envelope in a few days).

It's nifty, and it has my new name! I love all of the holographics on the US passports...even if they make me look like an oompa loompa with nearly blonde hair (wtf?!). The coloring is a little off, clearly.

So now, I'm only 1 step away from changing my name on everything - all I have left is my car title. Which, coincidently, is being changed on Friday. I wouldn't bother, but when we refinanced my car, they offered to pay for the change - done!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Greatest Shower Gift Ever.

Yep, this post was written in March, when my shower was in November. Get over it, I was planning a wedding.

So, my bridesmaid Allie gave me what is quite possibly the best shower gift ever. And if any of you ever need to come up with an easy shower gift for a bride, I highly highly highly highly recommend this one.

I received a shiny box.

But the shiny box wasn't the cool part. The cool part was what was inside the shiny box (duh).

It was a thank you note kit!!

Inside, the box held thank you notes, addressed envelopes, and forever stamps. I had to add a few envelopes (a few older cousins bought their own gifts, so I wrote them their own notes). But seriously. It saved me a ton of time having to address envelopes, and I didn't need to go buy cards or stamps so I was able to start writing them right away.

It wasn't very expensive. It wasn't very complicated. But it was very very helpful, and to me, meaningful. It was useful.

Get this gift. No bride will ever complain.

P.S. Will someone get me this as a shower gift when I have babies? That'd be great. Thanks.

The Thank You notes are GONE.

Thank. God.

Okay. Let me preface this post by saying this: I think thank you notes are incredibly important. I don't expect them for annual events (like birthdays, Christmas, or Halloween - which my family sends cards for), but I do expect them for unusual circumstances. When I graduated, I sent thank you cards. When I had my bridal shower, I sent thank you cards (which was made SUPER easy by my bridesmaid's awesome gift - which I never posted about. sad. I'll do a back post!), and now that I've gotten married - you guessed it - thank you cards. It makes me livid when people don't send thank yous for the big events. Someone took the time to A) schedule time to attend your event, B) travel to your event, and (most likely) C) pick out and purchase a gift, for you. And you can't bother to write one lousy note? I'll even take a typed generic note!


Okay. So. I've spent the last 2 1/2 months writing thank you notes. I bought a big box of standard, pretty cards from Michaels, punched a circle out of cardstock, stamped (and embossed) a Thank You on the front, added a touch of ribbon, and voila! Thank you cards.

83 cards.

That's a helluva lot of thank yous!! But I'm so grateful to be able to thank so many means we're that loved. Which makes me feel awesome.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Seasoning a Wood Chopping Block

For our wedding, we received a gorgeous wood chopping block. It's an end grain chopping block, which means that, unlike plastic or edge grain, it won't dull the knives we use. It absorbs the impact of the knife, which is really cool. I think it kind of looks like a parquet floor, and it's very classy. It looks a lot like this:
There is, however, a downfall to having a nice, wood chopping block. Like all nice things, it needs a little more TLC. In this case, it needs to be seasoned. 

A wood chopping block doesn't have to be seasoned. But, an unseasoned board is more likely to crack and warp, and a cracked board can harbor bacteria and other nasty stuff. If a board is cracked, it can still be seasoned, but it needs to be sanded down first. 

And so I broke out the google, and figured out what I needed to do. I was hoping for an Alton Brown tutorial (which is how we seasoned our cast iron skillet), but no such luck. So after scouring the interwebs, I've figured out the best way. 

1. Get your hands on some mineral oil. Don't know what mineral oil is? Neither did I. It's actually - wait for it - a laxative. Yep. I freaked. But I scoured google a bit more, and seriously, that's what you use. But it makes sense - it's food safe, it's odorless, and it's tasteless. So buy yourself a bottle awkwardly at CVS or your local drugstore. 

2. Heat a bit of oil in a bowl for about 20 seconds. It should be slightly warm, but not boiling. Find a clean cloth (I used a cheapo washcloth from the dollar store), and rub the oil onto the wood. Every inch of the wood. It'll soak right in most likely, but if there's a bit left on the surface, wipe it off with a paper towel. 

3. Now. Wait six hours, and do it again. Repeat. And repeat again. It needs to be done 4-6 times the first time you season a chopping block (with six hours in between), and then once a month afterward. Or if your wood ever starts to feel dry. 

The wood on the block will darker once it's seasoned, but that's okay. Also, you can't submerge the wood (wood soaks up water, which causes it to crack), so if when it needs to be cleaned, just used a damp cloth or a spray bottle with vinegar. 

Once it's done the first time, it's really easy to take care of. It just needs a bit of TLC to be awesome. Love my new chopping block!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Student Loan Blues.

Sean and I learned this week that we have to start paying back some of his loans.

*screech* what? Isn't he still in school?

Yea, yea he is. And he's still a full time student. Which, by federal loan standards, means that he's eligible for deferment. Except. Oh except my wonderful husband doesn't have just federal loans. Oh no. He had to go and get private loans for school. Which, ladies and gents, only have to defer for a mere five years. This would be fine at all, if he had gone into the workforce after a bachelor's degree. But it doesn't account, or help, those students like him going for graduate degrees.

Big. Fat. UGH.

Sean ran into the problem during undergrad that his parents made too much to qualify him for standard federal loans, but they were only willing to help him part of the way through school. Which means he had to find a way to make ends meet for tuition purposes. Because he was still classified as a dependent, his parents' earnings affected him 100%. Though we're grateful that they did help quite a bit (they paid for about 1/2 his education), that still left the other half...funded by private loans.

The loan is about $25k, which is chump change is student loan world, but it's still another $169 a month we have to figure out. And because it's a private loan (once again, I HATE the word private), it's not eligible for income-based repayment plans (like my awesome federal loan). Thankfully, it has a ridiculously low interest rate, but it's still painful. (oh, and did I mention that if we pay extra, it doesn't go to principle? EFF!)

Basically, at this point, we have a few options. We have enough with savings and loan extra to make it. But we don't want to rely on that. I'm looking for a new job. I've come to actually enjoy my current job, but it just doesn't cut it bill-wise. I need a job that actually, you know, requires a degree, and maybe a touch of critical thinking. If I can't find a new full time job by the end of April, I'll be applying for second jobs (preferably at a place that gives employee discounts too!). Over the summer, Sean will have both class and hopefully a job/internship at a local law firm. He'll be really busy, so us not having as much time won't be as much of an issue, because we already won't be having time together.

In order to live comfortably, we need to bring another ~$500 a month. It can easily be done with his student loans, but we'd rather avoid that. I know that next year we'll get better loans and all (though not grants, because it's graduate school), but we have to make it through this year too. If he takes two classes this summer, he's full time, and gets loans at that point too.

It'll work. I mean, clearly, we have to make it work. There are thousands of people that are far more in debt than we are. But neither of us ever want to get behind on bills, and we want to have decent credit to buy a home in a few years. So work our tails off we will. We're getting rid of this debt dammit!!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

St. Patty's Day - The STL Way!!

Today is Sean's sister's 21st birthday. Katie is an Irish girl. Her first tattoo was a four leaf clover. She's proud of all of her heritage (not just the drinking part), and loves anything and everything to do with her Irish family. Today is also the beginning of the St. Patty's day celebrations in StL.

One of the best parts about StL (in my opinion) is the rich heritage we have. We celebrate Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's day, both with the 2nd largest festivals in the nation (and Thanksgiving too). We're a huge Irish and French city, both with deep ties to Catholicism, and it's such a large part of the city. Everyone comes together, not just the people of one religion or one descent. And yes, alcohol may be a large part of it - but anything that brings that wide of variety of people together has to be good.

Today was the day of the downtown parade. Dogtown (our little Ireland) will have their own parade on the 17th, but downtown celebrates theirs the Saturday before. We met up with Sean's aunt and cousins, and Katie's boyfriend's family, and Katie's friend's family - all under one tent (complete with their own port-a-potty!). It was a great time. We had a blast seeing everyone, and it was really awesome to have such awesome family around.

Family <3

Friday, March 4, 2011

To Stay or Go

Sean and I, like most young people, live in an apartment. We moved here in September - we have a 1,000 sq foot, two bed-two bath basement apartment. It's not in the nicest part of town (read: there are nearly always cops patroling), but it's not the worst place I've lived in (there's no parties, and I've yet to hear gunshots). Right now, the biggest discussion on our minds is moving. Sean hates it here. He wants to buy (or at least rent) a house, and wants a yard for his own. He wants to live somewhere nicer. I've moved 4 times in the last 4 years, and frankly, I'd like to stay put. I'm tired of moving. I mean, we're not even completely unpacked here yet.

I've lived in an apartment for the past 4 years, and while I don't want to be in one for the rest of my life, apartment living doesn't bother me. It's easy, low-maintence, inexpensive. There's only two of us and a kitty, so we're not hurting for room. We want to move back to StP in a few years too, and an apartment doesn't have any responsibility. It's more liquid (which is ironic, because our apartment actually flooded last weekend). Like I said before, I'm tired of moving. I want to be more permanent.

Sean, on the other hand, has lived in a duplex for 6 months. He claims to have lived in an apartment for another 6 months while they were building their home, but to be honest, that was the summer he got sick (so he was what, 8?) - he was in the hospital/practically unconscious for at least 3 of those months.  He complains about the apartment ALL the time. About the kids running around, about hearing the neighbors vacuum, about hearing people outside. His duplex living was with his brother and friend, and they lived in a sh*thole - but mostly it was the fact that 3 college age guys were living together.

I know that Sean isn't a fan of where we live now, but I think it's more that he hates apartment living all together, rather than the place we're at. We were at a much nicer place first (paying $300 a month more), and he complained there too. We have a downpayment saved up, but we put it in a CD - it's untouchable until August of 2012. At that point, we'll only have a year of left of school. I don't want to buy a house and move 2 years later - we won't be able to afford that.

I just don't know how to get it through to him. I don't know what ways I can explain to him that we can't afford a house, that it's not the right choice for us yet, and that, however crappy it is, I'd rather stay here for a while. He's stubborn, and his eyes are too big for his (my?) wallet sometimes.