Thursday, June 30, 2016

Monthly Spending in June 2016

Net Worth Change from Previous Month: 0.08%
Total Spent: $175.70

I'm continuing to let my accounts go into the red when I spend more than my monthly budget of $300. The $14 was to renew this URL, and I went over in food because ... I guess I always go over on food, even if I'm being really cautious about bringing my lunch to work. Oh well. At least this month overall was much better, spending wise. I was able to spend only $175. $55 was spent on food, then $30 was spent on a completely unnecessary but much-beloved new weekend bag, and about $70 was spent on Ubers to and from the airport for our trip to Florida. Not too shabby.

No freelance income this month, but I invoiced for a project, so I should be getting more next month. It will be nice; I've really missed that extra income the last couple months. I feel like I've been relatively in check with spending, but it was so nice to have the extra to put into savings. I'm lucky enough to have a fully stocked emergency fund, but I'd like to finish saving for our next vacation, and start saving more for a car and the closing fees on my one-day dream home. Freelancing, it seems is the best way for me to get there.

In July, I hope to stay on track with spending under my budget. We have a wedding to go to and a week of camping in Vermont before that, so it might be tough this time, but I'll do my best. Or, if not my best, I'll keep trying to make lunch for the week on Sundays! (It's a lifesaver.)

How's your budget going? Did you meet any exciting goals this month?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Father's Day Weekend 2016

The summer solstice is today, and it's also the strawberry moon. I love this. It makes me feel so connected and whole, even though I'm in New York City, a place that sometimes leaves me feeling far apart from the world. This year on our anniversary, I'd really like to finally see Manhattanhenge. But in the meantime, a full moon on the solstice sounds pretty wonderful.

Many years ago, my friend Emily's grandfather took us to see some stone chambers on a winter solstice hike, to watch the setting (or was it rising?) sun make its way into the back of the chamber. We stood in a circle and spoke, maybe about what we were grateful for? I'm grateful to have had that moment, and all the other weird, wonderful, connected moments of my childhood.

Not so many years ago, in 2012, I went to a friend's Super Bowl party and her sister, only a year ahead of me in high school but someone I'd never really spent much time with, chatted with me for most of the party. I felt so connected to her. She mentioned reading an article in the New York Times about stone chambers, and I told her about that solstice so many years ago. She sent me the article. I haven't seen her since, but in my heart, everyone I grew up with is still holding hands, still slow dancing in the school gym. I'm grateful for that, too.

I spent the weekend at my parents' house, helping them ready it for sale in a few months. I would have expected to be disappointed, lately, at working with them all the time, and not just going out for dinners and relaxing, but it feels good to have something to do. To be productive and moving about. We painted the room that was once my bedroom in my favorite color and I scanned in some old family photos (see above).

Driving to the train station to slowly, slowly make our way home, the moon was exquisite.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Memorial Day in Vermont

Oh, we had a glorious time in Vermont this past Memorial Day weekend. Our lovely friends James and Emily let us stay in their house while they were on the Cape, and we drove all around the state, checking out little towns, visiting with friends, and making plans.

On Saturday morning, we drove up to Brattleboro, which is just 3 hours from our hometown and right near the Massachusetts border. When we arrived, we grabbed a quick breakfast (I got a maple steamer, of course) at Amy's Bakery, and then wandered around town for a bit. We stopped at Twice Upon a Time, which had some fantastic antiques, and I bought a sugar dish and creamer. Now we can really have some tea parties.

We also walked along this bridge, and explored their coop, which was nice, but still far inferior to the Park Slope Food Coop. Will we ever find a food coop as good? Unlikely. 

After that, we took a nice long drive up Route 30, checking out some of the smaller towns along the way, and stopping at a swimming hole on the West River and a covered bridge. It was so idyllic. We stopped in Newfane, Townshend, and couldn't help ourselves when we saw The Vermont Country Store in Weston. I think I tried every single dip in the store! It made for a pretty good lunch. Almost every town we stopped in had at least one (and often more!) independent bookstore and yarn store. I'm in love, guys.

My favorite stop was Woodstock, which was just gorgeous and had a lovely little thrift store and beautiful houses. We stopped at the Billings Farm and Museum, but ended up just petting some cows from the parking lot, because it was closing in 45 minutes, and it didn't seem worth it to pay for admission if we wouldn't have much time there. It's a shame, because they were having a dairy festival, and it would have been fun to check that out. But, we enjoyed our time with the cows a lot. Hopefully we'll be back soon!

That evening, we ate dinner at Roots, a really delicious spot in Rutland. If you go on the earlier side, make reservations! We'd read that you had to make them, and didn't (of course) believe it, but it's true. We waited about 20 minutes to get a seat at the bar, and the food was completely delicious and well worth the wait. I had the pulled pork sandwich and Roger enjoyed one of their specials, a fish dish. By the time we left (around 8:15pm), it had cleared out a bit. We noticed this with a few places we tried for dinner, that they were very crowded until around 8pm, so if you don't want to make reservations in Vermont, it's best to go on the later side.

After dinner, we headed to Montpelier, where we got to spend the night at James and Emily's wonderful house, and meet James's cousin, who was very friendly, and staying with them for a few weeks while he interns in Burlington.

On Sunday, we walked around Montpelier a bit, and grabbed coffee at Capital Grounds. I spent a lot of time during this trip being a little emotional (I know, shocking, huh?), and so this church sign was a nice reminder:

Despite the (completely true) warnings we received that Burlington would be packed because of the Vermont City Marathon, we braved the crowds and met Trisha for a super tasty brunch at The Spinning Pinwheel. The three of us checked out an independent bookstore, and then Trisha dropped us off at Burlington City Arts, so we could see the three shows they had open there. Outside, we found a phone, and Trisha called "Mom" in it, so she could get a hold of the owner. She suggested it might have fallen out of someone's cargo shorts, since those pockets are a little different than the pockets on most men's pants. As it turns out, on our way out of the gallery, we saw the phone's owner coming to claim it, and he was indeed wearing cargo shorts!

The three exhibits that BCA had up were all very interesting, and I especially liked Cal Lane's work, which was in the main floor of the gallery. As it turns out, the artist actually lives not too far from where I grew up! One thing I loved about BCA was how friendly the staff there was, and how willing they were to chat with us about the art. It really made the show come to life.

We made a quick stop at Crow Books, and then headed to the Shelburne Museum, which was the highlight of the trip for me. 

Oh my god, it was the coolest! It's a little village of historic houses, each of which contains a different collection. There was a lot of information about the museum's founder, Electra Havemeyer Webb. Ya'll know I am a huge fan of museum origin stories (I'm looking at you, Dumbarton Oaks and Dyckman Farmhouse Museum), and this one was woven throughout the exhibits in a really charming way. All of the visitor guides were incredible, throughout every exhibit we saw. They were so willing to chat with us about anything that came to mind, and we spent an especially long time talking to the guides in the quilt exhibit, which of course I loved.

It's honestly one of the very best museum experiences I've had, and so it's no surprise we spent most of the afternoon there, jumping from building to building even once it started to really pour. After the museum closed, we drove to Waterbury, where we enjoyed a really excellent dinner at our third-choice restaurant, The Reservoir. We had originally hoped to go to Hen of the Wood, which was closed on Sundays, and then tried to get into Prohibition Pig, which was packed and had an hour-long wait. The Reservoir was pretty crowded too, though like our earlier experience, it thinned out around 8:30pm.  I'm so glad we ended up there, though, because the Firehouse Burger, with its layers of fried pickles and jalapeƱos, was seriously one of the best burgers I've ever had. And, I got to try Sip of Sunshine, one of the trendier beers around and a great match for the burger.

On Monday, we woke up early and left James and Emily's to do some reading before meeting our friends Sarah and Jessie at Down Home for a delicious breakfast and some great conversation about life in Vermont, careers, and goals in general. I wish we could have gone back to Jessie's house afterward, because the conversation was so wonderful and it would have been awesome to continue it, but we had to hit the road to get to Ballston Lake for Roger's first time meeting this sweetheart:

It was so nice to see Violet again, and she's so much bigger than she was the first time I met her! We could only spend a few hours at Shelby and Mike's before we had to get back to real life, but sitting on their deck and catching up was excellent. I'm so glad I get to be a part of this little girl's life!

We made pretty good time back down to my parents' house, and took the train from Peekskill in time to see the beautiful sunset. A beautiful way to end the weekend.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Weekday Wanderings - On Press

Yesterday, we took a work field trip, to our printer in Jersey City. Our rep, Tim, and one of the pre-production crew, Rich, took us on a walk around their facilities, and it was pretty incredible to see. I actually worked at a printer for about six months (right around the time I started this blog), but this one is much, much bigger and had some really fascinating machines. It was also really cool to see their digital printing facilities, which have apparently made huge strides in the last few years.

Web printer.


Folding machine.

Trimmings to be recycled.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Florida Trip 2016

A somewhat strange thing is that I have been to Florida four times since starting this blog, but this is the very first time I'm actually writing about it. Just kidding—apparently I wrote briefly about two of those trips (one was a family trip to Disney at Christmas time and the other was for the Disney Marathon in 2015) and fully about one of them, to Key West. Not sure why it always ends up that way, but I was determined to say a bit here about our long weekend!

On Thursday, we took a 6am flight down to Orlando, and around 9am, my parents had already driven us to their house, where we were welcomed with this beautiful mosaic:

Then, one of the first things we saw out in the canal on their backyard was a pair of dolphins swimming. It was pretty incredible. Roger and I took out their kayak and paddled around a bit on the canal off their back deck, which was quiet and lovely.

Later, we took my parents' boat out to explore the canals further, even though it was having some engine trouble:

On Friday, we spent a fair amount of time driving around the neighborhood, and went on a longer drive to get paint for the accents in the living room and kitchen. We stopped very briefly at a beach. I cannot wait to come back and spend some actual time on the beach again soon.

On Saturday, we headed over to Disney World, where my sister works, and enjoyed dinner and some of the rides in the Animal Kingdom. I really enjoy how nonplussed Roger looks in this photo. (And I really hate loud noises.)

Sunday we dedicated to painting and other little repairs. The colors we picked turned out really beautifully, and we managed to paint everything we'd set out to paint pretty quickly. It's amazing how fast projects like this go when you have four people working on them. And, I'll be honest, Roger is a champion painter and really worked his butt off on it.

On Monday, the boat repairman came and fixed the boat, so we decided to take it out for a spin. Unfortunately, it started raining just a few minutes after we got out there, so we had to turn back. Next time, Florida!

We did a few more small repairs (changing out the closet doors, clearing out the garage), and then made our way to the airport to head home. The trip went by far too quickly, but I'm so excited to return one day soon (hopefully in cooler weather)! The next time we visit, the kitchen should be done, and I know it's going to be really gorgeous. I'm sad that soon, my parents won't be just an hour train ride away, but I know they'll be very happy there, and I can't wait to have a permanent vacation home just ten minutes from the beach!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Monthly Spending in May 2016

Net Worth Change from Previous Month: 0.07%
Total Spent: $568.00

As I've said before, I put a large amount of my monthly income into savings automatically ($458 goes to a Roth IRA, $200 goes to a mutual fund that I'm using to save for a house down payment, and then $150 goes to SmartyPig for fun savings—right now, to fund a vacation, a car, and closing costs). Despite this, in order to keep my Mint account looking clean, when I've gone over my $300 budget in a given month, I've "pulled" from the savings so I don't have any overages. It's mentally allowed me to overspend a bit much, though, so in May, I decided to stop doing that. If I go over in any category, I'm going to make it roll over to the next month, so I have to work it off then. I think this will be helpful for me going forward.

As you can see, I went over quite a bit this month with some semi-unexpected costs. (I say "semi" because I knew they would happen, but didn't plan for them well enough.) What popped up? $86 for a photography course I've wanted to take for a long time, and $100 for quilting supplies for a friend's baby shower. I also spent more on transportation than I expected, using Car2Go twice to get bagels for R.'s family when they came to visit on Mother's Day. Food went over because of our awesome trip to Vermont (worth every penny!). For weekend trips, I'm going to try to keep my expenses under regular month-to-month spending, so I don't have to pull out of my travel fund. And my biggest purchase was a pair of Warby Parker sunglasses for $175. I planned to buy them this month and still keep under budget. Obviously that didn't happen, but I still think they're worth the price, especially because it's allowed me to postpone buying contacts for a while longer.

No freelance income this month, but I did start working on another project, so there should be a bit more coming in soon.

In June, I'd really like to get back on track with the budget I blasted out of the water. Hopefully having the red lines in my account helps keep me honest! We're going to Florida with my parents, which likely won't be too expensive. They very kindly paid for the flights, and I imagine we'll mostly be hanging out around their house and eating at home. Other than that, not too much else I foresee coming up, so hopefully I can clear off the "debt" on gifts and education pretty easily.

How's your budget going? Did you meet any exciting goals this month?