About Us

One Year Later

I was sad to see on the news this morning that a boat capsized on Maine lake this past weekend, killing two of four men who were in it. It seems like a bizarre parallel coincidence but it was upon hearing this that I realized how far I've come this year. The families involved are in my thoughts. It has become less about my grief, and for that I am relieved.

Today is the one year anniversary of my father's death. He drowned when a boat he was in with three of his friends capsized on Maine lake. He was 51 years old and I miss him every day. This experience has dramatically shaped my life and made me more aware of the human condition and the suffering of other people.

I think it might be easier today if I continue with my normal routine rather than take the day off, in part because the there is a lot to do this week but also because that's what he would've wanted me to do.

So expect Too Cute Tuesday post later today. My crafts often drove my father crazy, and I don't see the point of stopping now.

Of Good Things (And Breakfasts) To Come

My arm is sore from a long week of work and stress and last night, I was so excited about my new place that I slept about four hours. Needless to say, I'm beat. Sadie and I just ate dinner and it's going to be a relaxing early night before a busy weekend. I'll probably pass out in the next hour or so.

While reading Jen's magazine Saveur this morning,I came across the following quote. Hope you like it too:

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”

In hopes of exciting things. For all of us. Happy Friday!

Adventures In Real Estate

In typical Nicole fashion, I'm all over this new apartment search. I've looked at five places in my acceptable price range and have called about many others.

Adventures_in_babysitting I'm continually surprised at how many bad places there are out there. And since I'm not looking at the bottom of the bottom, I can't imagine how some people out there are living.

I think tonight, I found my new home. It's not what I expected and it's quite small, but I just had that really good feeling when I walked in. 

I've learned some things in my search these last couple of weeks:

1. The more you look at, the more you know. Nothing gives you a glimpse at the real estate market like looking at a lot of places. You get a feel for what is a good deal and what isn't.

2. Take a cue from the landlord. Are they snoopy? Can they not look you in the eye? Your landlord is someone you will deal with regularly. You will call this person when your pipes freeze or you get locked out. Your landlord doesn't have to be your best friend but liking them really helps. My potential landlord happens to be a long lost cousin of mine, and known as the nicest guy in town.

3. Know your dealbreakers, and deal makers. For example, I love a gas stove. I don't expect it but when I see one, I make a little mental check mark. And as the owner of an older dog, I need easy porch access. (I've walked down three flights of stairs at 3 am more then once this week to let Sadie do her thing. That can't happen on a regular basis!) Don't think some little aspect you'd like to have is trivial. It's the little things in life that are important.

4. Don't be afraid to bargain. If you have a well behaved dog, maybe you can talk your way out of a pet deposit. Maybe the lease can be made more flexible if you can't commit to a year. If you like a place, it's worth asking. It's like haggling in a retail store: delicate but it can be done.

5. Go with your gut. Like I said, the place I saw tonight definitely had some flaws, like being tiny. But the feeling I got when I walked in was one of calm. The place had a lot of windows, was well divided, had a nice kitchen, and it had something else I can't quite put my finger on. There's a lot to be said for that love-at-first-sight feeling.

Thanks to all of you for all your kind thoughts during my transition to this new life. Like with all major decisions, I'm going to sleep on this one but I'm pretty sure I have found my little place.

Moving Out But Not On

I've been going through some changes these last few weeks (and no, I'm not talking puberty, that ship has sailed!).

I am moving out of my boyfriend's house. A big change, but something that has to happen.

I don't want to get deep into explaining this. It's between Sean and I and all I care about is that we understand each other, which we do. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about Sean. As a matter of fact, I have even more good things to say about him after this weekend. We're maintaining a strong friendship in hopes of the best for each other's futures, whether it's with each other or not.

So here I am, moving for the twentieth time in my life into my own place. Besides being more expensive to live on my own, there is the added complication of moving with a dog (so many rents don't allow pets).

I found myself last week touring apartments and then coming back so discouraged to Sean's wonderful house I've helped fix up. I have to keep telling myself I haven't earned a three bedroom house yet, and that's ok. This idea still takes some getting used to.

I'm lucky to have the support of family and friends during this time. My mother has been particularly supportive. She's right, this is a big change and I need somewhere nice where I can go and be happy alone." She doesn't want me to get a crappy apartment, even if it means she helps me with rent awhile.

So I'm searching for a place to call my own (and staying with a very generous friend until then). Sean and I have dinner plans for Wednesday. And I'm feeling good about what I'm doing. 

It's said that with great love comes great risk. And I'm lucky to have such supportive people in my life to help me with the risky parts.

Getting A Cell Phone

Nicole Joins The 21st Century

Today, I did the unthinkable and bought a cell phone. Those of you who know me are probably shocked so I'll give you a moment to recover from your shock.

Ok, now that you've recovered…

Crackberry I finally bit the bullet on the cell phone for a few reasons. First of all, I missed an important phone call while on vacation that required me to spend $17 overnighting a check. Also, since I've been traveling a lot, I am beginning to see the importance of having one while I'm in transit (I mean, I have to use 45 units off my calling card to make one call from a pay phone! Come on!). And finally, I sat next to someone on the plane who I had a very in depth conversation about the pros and cons of cell phones with. In having this conversation, I realize my beef with cell phones is the lack of manners associated with them, not them as useful devices. Colan (my seatmate) finally convinced me the benefits far outweighed the costs and since he isn't family or a friend, I was able to listen to him objectively.

Being the over researcher I am, I've been asking around with family and friends this past week about good plans and companies to go with. Verizon was recommended, Sprint was not. My Canada-adjacent friends also turned me to the fact that there is an additional plan that can work with Canadian towers without charging roaming fees. I also found out things like 300 text messages a month is more then enough for a 27 year old woman and that the superfast network with the Apple iPhone isn't even available in this area. I do like my internet research but I find talking to a lot of people most of the time even more helpful, don't you?

So I walked into the store armed with all this information today and picked out my phone. The store didn't have it in my preferred color so I'll be picking it up tomorrow.  

My one hesitation with the cell phone is the two year commitment with the plan. My friend Sarah says Congress is working on passing a law that would make it easier to get out of a cell contract early. Until then, I guess two years with a nationwide carrier is doable.

I am also getting a hands free device right away. My friend Robby knows someone who go lymphoma on one side of his neck possibly from cell phone use and quite honestly, with cancer speculation is enough for me to err on the side of caution.

I'm excited to be joining the rest of society in this regard. I'll hopefully be able to be more productive and a better friend with my new toy. (This progressiveness is made possible by my mom, who is paying for my phone and first year of service as a Christmas gift.)

In the meantime, I urge all cell phone users to use manners while operating. Check out this comprehensive list to remind you of some things you shouldn't do.

Article from the University of Wisconsin about cell phone use and cancer
State Laws in Regards To Cell Phones

Image from http://truehowto.com/files/cb/bart.JPG

Fourteen Things I Learned In Las Vegas

I am sitting in the hotel lobby, waiting to head to the airport. I don’t have quite enough time to go on a new adventure but since I’m feeling a little reflective, I might as well pen a few things I’ve learned in Las Vegas. (You know me, always looking to learn something!)

1. Casinos make it as easy as possible to get inside, and really hard to get out. If you go to Vegas, you’ll notice moving walkways always work on the way in but not necessarily on the way out. Also the casino entrances are clearly marked (usually even with people to welcome you) but finding an exit can be a whole other story.
2. The constant advertising and pushing of agendas that seems annoy everyone must clearly be working. The guide books complain about the guys on the corners handing out cards for hookers but there is clearly some payoff to them standing there day in and day out or else they wouldn’t do it.
3. There’s no such thing as a free drink. The guide books talk about how you can get free drinks if you gamble but if you’ve ever sat at a slot machine or even played at a table you know that the $10 you would have spent on a drink is gone in about five minutes. (Unless you bring my horse expert friend Bailey to pick mules in mule racing but that’s a whole other story.) There is always a catch, and that’s ok as long as you know that up front.
4. If you’re going to do something, you might as well go all the way. I bought tickets to Cirque de Soleil’s O show at the Bellagio. At $173 for premium seats, it was a splurge but worth it to see the most amazing show of my life. (Yes even personal finance bloggers need to splurge on occasion).
5. Multiple sinks in a room of multiple women just make sense. A suite is such a comfortable way to go when you are staying somewhere. Last night, I cooked myself dinner and did a load of laundry. Hotel rooms are so variable here that it may be worth a little investigation into a suite if you are staying with a group. The money you save on the occasional meal and other conveniences may make it worth a slight cost increase.
6. It’s good to be a woman in Vegas. Girls seem to get better treatment around here. I went to some pretty swanky clubs never paying cover while other people I met had paid $30 to get in. There are also free drinks and in general a lot more attention then you’d get anywhere else (at least in my case). Oddly flattering but a little much at times.
7. People like coming here because they can be a high roller, if only for a few days. A limo is almost as cheap as a cab, everyone is really nice to you, and pretty much everything you’d want to do is within a 20 mile radius (I’m including scenic desert and hiking as well as dining and dancing). There seem to be a gazillion flights in and out of here judging from the amount of planes I saw from the top floor pool of my hotel in just a couple hours. Easy to get in and out and you can get access to luxurious things like fancy cars and crab legs relatively cheaply means people can come here and feel like one of the beautiful people without much extra effort or spending.
8. You can be whoever you want in Vegas. There are enough people to be anonymous but the downtown is small enough to be walkable. I may be a writer to a few people out there now and it was pretty fun to be Nicole the Writer I must say!
9. Good company makes all the difference. Coming to a place like this with good friends who are open to a good time made this probably the best vacation I’ve ever had.
10. I am a lucky person. I don’t have to let people use my body to make money. I have a roof over my head. I have enough self control to walk away from the table when I’m ahead. There are a lot of great things about a place like Vegas but such a cross section of life can also really put your non-Vegas life into perspective.
11. I’m missing absolutely nothing on cable. I’ve caught up on Kimora Lee Simmon’s reality show and watched some commercials for upcoming Lifetime television movies. I’m all set for awhile!
12. It is totally worth the prevacation hassle to take a vacation. Yes there is planning, packing, air travel, and setting work up so things can continue while you’re gone but all that is worth it the second you step in that hotel room.
14. Skipping the thirteenth floor doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The elevator went from 12 to 14 (and I was on the fourteenth floor) but I know darn well I was on floor thirteen. I guess people really are superstitious in the city of luck!

Goodbye Vegas. I'm sure I'll be back soon!

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