I got back from my business trip to Boston on Wednesday night. After freezing for four days, I was happy to get back to the non-jacket, non-glove weather of Atlanta. I’m usually good with a long coat and gloves, however no told me to pack long underwear or an ear warmer or boots. While Boston unfortunately has a way of not making me happy, here are some highlights of the trip:
I did get a chance to walk around Boston Back Bay before and after each work day. As a person who absolutely hates cold weather (when I’m not prepared), I tried to make the best of it by sneaking into local shops, restaurants and coffee houses. It is a fun town to explore, I just wish it was better timing.
Another highlight of the trip was that Troy and I finally booked our flights to Europe for the Spring. This includes a round trip flight, jumper flights via Easyjet, and a reservation on the Eurostar. We also purchased our Paris Passes and tickets to the Vatican museums. Needless to say, we won’t be doing much for a while after dropping that much cash.
Next week, I will be off to Boston for work. It’ll be my first time in Boston on non-rowing related business. I went for the first time in college and have visited three times since for the Head of the Charles in October. Nothing like kamikaze coxswains and a traffic jam on the Charles River to really ruin your taste for city. However, despite the cold and possible snow, I am looking forward to hanging out in Boston without being cold, wet and broke.
Here are is week’s Sunday Reading, not from bed but from 10,000 feet:
Ten House Rules from Cupcakes &Cashmere. Makes me think about what our house rules are, and when I should blog about them.
28 Simple & Natural Ways to Detox your Bodyfrom Bembu. I read this article in December to get ideas about my health resolutions for the year. Some things are pretty easy and have become staples in my routine. Try a couple out.
When we moved into our house, it came with some surprises: 20+ cans of old paint, a screen door and a swinging door that now live in our basement, old cabinet doors and windows with removable window panes (???). I still have no idea how central vacuuming works, but we have all the hoses and attachments for those, too.
I finally got a chance to get rid of it all this past week, along with turning off the heat and opening the windows for the first time in forever. Here’s what went down:
The window panes were moved and the cabinet doors were tossed. We definitely don’t have a need for an assortment of old cabinet doors. I did keep the panes and two of the larger cabinet doors because they were wood, in good condition and painted white. No idea if they’ll find their way into a project somewhere along the line.
We’re in year 2 of resuscitating the back yard. We re-seeded and de-weeded everything, along with cleaning up our side yards overrun with ivy.
I cleaned and organized our half basement/garage. We don’t have any built-in shelves, so we brought down a wire rack to keep plant food, weed and yard sprays, and all of the other stray bottles. The tools, mower and trimmer now have a home, along with my furniture refinishing project.
A trip to Goodwill and recycling. We have three boxes of stuff in our spare room for Goodwill. I don’t think the recycling center has ever seen so many old paint cans or leftover computer equipment. Our parents are quintessential pack rats, so every time we bring something new into the house, we try to get rid of something as well.
Getting this off the counters. When my grandparents remodeled their kitchen last year, they wanted everything to have a place and nothing extraneous would be on the counter tops. We’ve adopted the same mentality.
Minimalism at its best, but we’ve got a long way to go.
Today is the last day of my 2-week blogging challenge. It was fairly difficult, mostly because I’ll write about something then realize it’s absolutely worthless and no one would ever want to read it. Just a bit self-conscious…. Planning blog post does take time, and now I think I have a bit of a strategy,
Today is at least a blog post that I enjoy writing, because I get to share what I’ve reading all week. I definitely will not keep up writing everyday, but I do like my Sunday Reading post. I hope you will enjoy these, too.
The Beautiful and the Damned– I never read more than one book at a time, but this one is my “traveling book”. Portrait of a Lady is too big to bring in a carry-on (I don’t like eReaders). I read The Paris Wife and Z last year, and wanted to take on all of Fitzgerald’s books ever since. American expatriates in Paris in the 1920’s is my favorite era to read about.
I am writing this post in between batches of Chocolate Guinness cupcakes. Today, Troy and I are celebrating the 31st birthday of our friend Mark. After they are done with the “St. Patrick’s Day” festivities, there will be a house party and UFC viewing tonight.
Birthdays have always been my favorite “holiday”. Last year, I saw Britney Spears in Vegas. The year before, we had just moved into our house and we had a banana split/housewarming party. For Troy’s birthday, we had a big group go for Korean BBQ.
This year for my 30th birthday, we will be headed to Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire. I am thoroughly excited to spend my 30th birthday eating a Ben & Jerry’s Vermonster Sundae. Although, Troy will probably top that with his 32nd birthday/our trip to Japan next spring. Get the picture?
I’m getting back to these birthday cupcakes. Try them out for St. Patty’s day, or maybe someone awesome will make them for your birthday.
I’ve written this blog post several times, whenever I am expecting family to visit the house. In preparation for a family visit, or more especially a parent-visit, we have been known to go above and beyond; from buying an obscene amount of groceries, to cleaning and laundering everything we own, to planning family dinners that take me hours to actual make.
This time, when the parents arrive, they’ll see not much has changed because we’re prepping for our trip to Europe. Not a lot of extra cash to put toward home improvement. However, there are a couple of things I’m planning to prep for this visit:
Deep Clean- In addition to sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, etc., we’re going through our spare junk room. Until now, it’s been used to keep all of our unpacked stuff from the apartment. We’ve gone through to separate our donation boxes, papers to be shredded, things to be organized or packed up for storage. Laundry, window washing and straightening up the garage is also on the deep clean list.
Landscaping- Now that the weather is better, it’s time to seed and weed the lawn, clean up the fallen twigs and branches, and tidy up the back deck.
Ikea– We won’t be buying “fill up the room” furniture, but we do need to pick up a couple of room accessories: frames, curtains, possibly a new nightstand. We have guest rooms with the necessities, but I would like them to be more welcoming.
Meal planning– Cooking for two people is very different from cooking for 6, especially when you take into account food allergies and picky eaters. We try to plan one night out at a restaurant that has a little something special. Then, one night in where I try to cook a bigger meal. We also buy more snacks than usual, in addition to actually planning lunches. There aren’t ever enough left overs to cover two meals.
Activity planning– Last time family visited, we took everyone to Top Golf. Before that it was, the farmer’s market, Ikea and antique shopping. I have no idea what to do this time around…
After setting up, you could post dolls (seen on the left), post photos or blog TMI about what happened in yearbook club. I even had subpages for each city I lived in to keep in touch with my friends. Since we didn’t all have email, I’d spread the word about my page on my AIM profile.
As cheesy and girly as it was, Chickpages was also the only site I can remember that encouraged girls to be tech-y. Sure, most girls would be posting photos (scanned from an actual camera) or writing about the group politics of high school, but they’d also be in front of a computer, building a web page, learning HTML and experimenting with web design.
That was in 2000, and sorry, my chickpage has since shut down. I’ve had a Xanga/LiveJournal and a couple of Blogspots since (sorry no MySpace), but it’s definitely weird to know that I’ve been openly sharing online for the past 15 years. There are some regretful posts that have thankfully disappeared, and I’m pretty sure there are a couple that thankfully never made their way to the person they were intended for. You’ll never know what mood I was in or what song I was listening to at some random date in 2003, but all of those posts and sites did provide a lesson.
Technology was never that intimidating to me, and after taking time to understand it, it’s pretty easy to get the hang of. I am a girl who knows HTML. I can build a site. I want to learn how to code and get into web design. From little girly beginnings, grow some pretty substantial things.
I’ve seen a few blog posts lately about how to stay focused when you’re working from home. They’re always a bit humorous, since I’ve been working entirely from home for almost 5 years now. For me, telecommuting isn’t necessarily about discipline or sticking to schedules. It’s about know how and when you work best.
Here is my usual work schedule:
7:30am Wake up.
Casually get to my computer and log in by 8am.
8-9am Go through all 3 email accounts, check FB/Twitter/blog list, check work and personal to-do list for the day, eat breakfast. All at my desk
9-10:30am This is where I get 90% of my work done, whether it is priority projects, email correspondence, processing, paperwork, social media, etc.
10:30-11:30am If I don’t have a meeting, this is when I move to the couch. Troy works exclusively on the couch, so this is where I get my “office interaction” and ambient TV noise while I work.
11:30am-12:30pm Lunch break: Eat, shower, go for a walk depending on how busy things are. Troy and I will go out to lunch twice a week, just to “get out of the office”.
12:30-3:30pm Unless I have a big project to work on, this time is usually spent doing odds and ends. In between work emails, planning and non-priority tasks, I’ll do laundry, start dinner, or work on a blog post. It’s a bit of a perk, especially since almost all of my work is done before 10:30.
3:30-5pm I will still keep my email open to field any late tasks or answer questions from clients in different time zones. If I’m feeling ambitious, I will start a project for tomorrow or update my to-do list.
5:30-7:30pm Gym, usually the only time of the day to really leave the house.
7:30-10pm Dinner, DVR, check emails on last time.
Sleep by 11pm. Yes, this means I get over 8 hours of sleep every night.
Not too bad of a schedule. What I’ve learned through working from home, is that you have to be available more than the standard 9-5, but you don’t have to be “crazy busy”. I will check emails on weekends and while I’m traveling. I am still productive during the work day and everything still gets done. Work smarter, not harder.
Troy and I find that on the occasion when we do go into our actual offices, we get crazy busy. Whether it’s because we are interacting with more people or because people will schedule face-to-face meetings, I’ve found that when I’m in the workplace I am pushed to capacity and it’s a bit draining. The same amount of work gets done, but I don’t get winded working from home….
It’s definitely a different environment, and there are times when I absolutely need to get out of the house. We probably will not be working from home forever, but it’s given me/us a better sense of how we operate, how we can be effective/productive, and how we can more efficiently use our time.
Even if you’re not a telecommuter, imagine how many hours you could save by better knowing how you work. Whether it’s at night or super early in the morning, with loud music or absolute quiet, with little breaks or powering straight through, what works for you?
One week into this 2-week blogging challenge, and I really needed a blog idea. I can definitely see why it is a challenge to write everyday, especially if you want your writing/blogging to be something people would actually want to read. No pressure or anything…
So last night, we decided that we’d waited long enough and we should go ahead and book our hotels for Rome and London. Troy and I have accumulated an impressive number of hotel points over the years and we had scoped out which hotels we wanted months ago.
Turns out, hotel rewards are not always finite. The hotel we wanted in Rome was no longer offering Points+Cash options, and our hotel in London was only doing Points+Cash options, and the points per stay had skyrocketed. Both put a wrench in our plans and we scrambled a bit (at 11pm) to find alternative hotels within our points budget.
While we did find and book our alternate hotels, it also put a bigger dent in our hotel points than I had hoped and I found myself searching for New York City hotels at 2 in the morning. I was planning a birthday trip to NYC in the fall with one of my girlfriends, using hotel points to alleviate costs. But, the above-average seasonal hotel rates threw me for my second loop of the night. No rest for the Wicked, even if weren’t planning on seeing it on Broadway.
While I have no problem playing tourist, I do have a problem with $300+ per night and still having to share a communal bathroom down the hall. Now, our options are:
AirBnB someones apartment ($200/night)
Stay on the floor of a friends places
Go in December
Befriend a generous New York millionaire
I’ll be 30 years old this year. Staying in a hostel isn’t exactly my cup of tea anymore. Any ideas for traveling New York City without breaking the bank?