Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Hubs friends gave him tickets to the Red Sox Yankees game last Thursday and he wanted to go with me! I am not particularly into sporting events so I thought he'd prefer to go with someone who'd care more and would be more involved in the game. But no, he wanted to go with his wife.

It was spring in Boston and there were flowers
and pollen. Spring has not yet come to Maine.

We headed down to Boston that afternoon. (I planned on street parking and I found some! But Hubs doesn't keep quarters in the car for meters. So I sat in the car while he found some change and a meter maid came by but I didn't have to move and Hubs came back with some quarters.) We met up with one of my high school friends at Algiers Cafe in Harvard Square. I ate some delicious fries and she told me about how her life's been going. It was good to see her since I hadn't seen her since my wedding and we didn't really get to talk then.

We sent a snapchat selfie to a friend who
just found out he passed the Bar!

After catching up we headed over to Fenway and got stuck in a tunnel in traffic. One of my law school exams involved a traffic accident in Boston's big dig that turned into a disaster with explosions and collapsing tunnels. Ever since that exam I've been so afraid of all the tunnels under Boston and I was so nervous sitting there in traffic.

It was all okay though! Nothing happened that would give rise to a law suit and we got to the game an hour and twenty minutes before it started.


We found our seats and got our dinner. Always one for novelty food items, I could not resist the foot long hot dog. Where else can you get them? Not at your average grocery store. FYI the Fenway franks are delicious and they're a close second to my beloved Vienna Beef hot dogs. I also got cotton candy to save for later (I managed to wait to eat it until the game started). There was a cute baby at the game near us who kept giving her cotton candy to her parents. She had no idea what she had apparently.

I beg to differ. America's most beloved ballpark has ivy in the outfield.
#WrigleyPark #LetsGoCubbies

I got hungry again during the second inning so I went to get more foods. While looking for the pizza Hubs requested, my coat and I got hit on a man who asked if there was room for him to warm up in my coat. I gave him an honest answer of "no" and he politely ambled on.

We could have gotten Clam Chowdah from a vendor. I guess only in
Boston. We didn't indulge because I have bad memories involving
Yosemite National Park, carsickness, and clam chowder.

After that encounter I waited in line and got Hubs a pizza slice. The line at the hot dog place was so long I just went back to my seat. So between the next inning I went to go get myself another foot of hot dog. It was also delicious.

The game went horribly for the Red Sox. I tried to give them pep talks from my seat but I wasn't terribly good at it. Going into the 8th or 9th inning I observed that they'd need more than two grand slams just to tie up the game. I also enjoyed booing at Ellsbury. I used to like him but not anymore.

It kind of reads like a Menu, "Carp Tonight."

But, since the game went so horribly, a wonderfully horrible thing happened. Mike Carp, a position player, pitched to close the game. I love novelty so I was happy to see something so unusually occur. We were trying to figure out what was going on with the score board while he was pitching. Carp threw a variety of pitches including knuckleballs and we weren't sure if the person naming the pitches was just making things up or if Carp was actually trying out every type of pitch possible. I wish we could have listened to Don and Remy's commentary during that last inning!

It wasn't very cold but we were sitting in the dark for hours and it was
so windy. I needed to fasten my hood to keep it from blowing off.
The game ended well after ten. We stopped at Dunkin to get coffee before heading home (Starbucks was closed). We got to our car a little before midnight and I got us home by 2 AM. There was a package on our front step. Hubs had ordered a birthday present for his friend. The mailman left it there around 2 PM and it was still there 12 hours later. Maine where people don't steal packages off your front porch even if they sit there ALL day. We slept in so late the next day.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

April Thankful Thursday

Things I'm Thankful For
3/28 Hubs was so nice about cheering me up when he got home. I had such a rough day for no reason in particular but he made me feel better. I am so thankful that he's a part of my life.

Alumni Dinner OOTN

3/29 It was sunny and warm and we went for a walk and got Frosty's Doughnuts! I sold over $1,000 worth of stuff on eBay in the past two days.
3/30 The vegan red beans and rice were delicious

No Socks for the First Time this Year

3/31 I learned a lot at the mortgage regulations CLE and it was great to see some of my classmates.
4/1 Free slushie!
4/2 I did a lot of work for the freelance project I have.
4/3 My job interview didn't go horribly.

4/4 We are making more on the side than I thought so I can take that into account in our budget and get more contact lenses this year. I caught up on my social media stuff!
4/7 Discovered Call the Midwife! Such a good show (I love my BBC period pieces)! It's on Netflix.
4/10 Alumni Dinner. I am proud of how much personal growth I've had in the past couple of years. I am a grown up.

4/11 I tried a new coffee house in town. I wore sandals for the first time ever this year!
4/12 Hubs has a new suit that fits and isn't black! I couldn't stand him wearing his black suit to weddings.
4/14 I have two job interviews this week! One over the phone and one in person.
4/15 I went to a carrer developing networking session.

#aprilinmaine It snowed on the 16th.

4/16 I thought my phone interview went well!
4/17 I had my in person interview.

Easter OOTD
Busting out My White Jeans Before Memorial Day

4/18 I went to a brown bag lunch with other attorneys, Judges, and Justices! I felt so good to go to meet people and learn a lot.
4/19 I started seeds for our garden.
4/21 I wasn't able to give my blood but that mean I could hang out with our friends that afternoon.

4/22 I have a job offer and I accepted!
4/23 I had a great time at the Junior Leauge Meet and Greet for Prospective New Members. Plus I found Cadbury mini eggs and Starburst jelly beans for Hubs!

New Years Resolution Updates
April was a tough month for me for some reason so I haven't been good at challenging myself or minimizing my envy. I didn't do a good job of sitting down and writing what I've been thankful for everyday, as you can see. I didn't get much exercising in but I had been doing a better time logging my food consumption. I have been having such a hard time drinking enough water!

How was your month? Are you excited for May?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Good News Everybody!

Guess which blouse I wore for my winning interview!
Posted this to Facebook looking for help deciding what to wear.

I got a call about an hour ago! I have a job! Hubs was so excited he was literally jumping up and down! It's complicated though. It's a job I want but not the job I want most. I heard that my interviewer had called my references for the job I wanted most! So I've got a call out to that person to see if I am still in the running for that position before I accept this position.

But, this news is an enormous relief! I have a job and it's one that uses the JD! It's also a job where I thought the interview didn't go so well. I was almost kind of late and I didn't think I did a good job selling my lawyer abilities. In retrospect my husband was right, they already knew I had the skills needed for the position, they just wanted to get a sense of the applicant's personality.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Interview Advice

So! I had two interviews this week. Last week I reached out to my school. I had interviewed for a position at my school and didn't get it. But I knew everyone who interviewed me so I reached out to one of my interviewers and asked her if I could sit down with her and talk about how I did in my interview and how I could do better in my next interview.

We had a really great time talking.  I was a shy child and I never grew out of that so I am a quiet and reserved grown up. I like sitting and thinking but not necessarily talking with people. So she invited me to give her a call so that she could help me practice for interviews. Well on Monday I found out I had two interviews and I sent her an email on Monday and I popped into her office on Tuesday to practice interviews with her and another school employee.

It was great. Practice really does make perfect and they pointed out things I had never thought of doing in order to prepare for interviews. The two most helpful thing they told me to do was to read the job description in the mirror and pretend that each bullet point or sentence was a question for me to answer and to practice describing past work experiences. Looking in the mirror when I was talking helped me make my face look more confident. Practicing saying what I had done and what I could do helped put me at ease and feel like I could do the work!

What do you do to prepare for interviews?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Garlic Cheese Drop Biscuits

So I've been afraid of making biscuits because I don't have quite enough counter space in my tiny kitchen to roll out biscuits. But one day I made a split pea soup but we were out of bread so I looked in my How to Cook Everything cookbook for a quick bread recipe, I saw the drop biscuits, decided I'd try to replicate Ruby Tuesday's Garlic Cheese Biscuits. I think these are a close success! I believe the Ruby Tuesday's ones are a bit saltier but Hubs was incredibly happy with these. And, despite Bittman's warnings that they're best eaten right out of the oven, I thought they tasted great for breakfast reheated in the toaster oven the next morning.

Garlic Cheese Drop Biscuits

1 cup all-pupose flour
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoon canola oil (or butter)
1/2 cup milk (I use skim)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder (8 cloves fresh garlic minced/chopped)

Heat oven to 450º. Mix the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter or mix in the oil. Mix in the milk and cheese. Drop tablespoons of dough onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Anticipating April 15, 2014

As usual, I did our taxes this year (really I've only done our taxes once before since we've only been married about a year and a half). So I sat down to figure out just how big our refund would be! (I hoped to use some of it to replace my broken camera since a new camera costs as much as repairs for my old one.) Oh boy was I in for a surprise. Our total state and federal tax bill came to about $2,000 above and beyond what had been withheld from our paychecks!

After phreaking out because I no longer have a job and Hubs gets paid a pidly teacher salary (what we owe is about how much he gets paid each month)! We decided not to file right away and I did some thinking. There is a deduction for contributing to a traditional IRA. So I did some math and I calculated that we could reduce the amount we owed the federal government to a much more manageable amount if we both maxed out our IRA contributions for the year.

Random Photo of the Hallway Outside my Freshman Year Dorm Room
I've has a lot of text heavy posts recently so I'm trying to include more pictures.

I had a number of misgivings about doing this. We have enough money saved to max out IRAs in our home down payment fund but we'd wipe out our downpayment savings. I also don't want to use traditional IRAs as retirement savings because I'll have to pay taxes on that money when I take it out in retirement and federal tax rates are at a record low. One the other hand, it makes a lot of sense though to pay our future selves $11,000 instead of paying the IRS $1770 today.

I also worry about our precarious economic situation. We only have one income right now so I'd like to have a large emergency fund and I thought of our downpayment fund as a back up for our regular emergency fund. If we need money from our IRA we'll have to pay taxes and a 10% penalty. But, while wandering the internet, I learned that there's an exception to the IRA withdrawal penalty for "first time" homebuyers. Hubs and I decided that opening IRAs and sticking our home downpayment money in the IRA for the time being seems okay.

I still have my misgivings. We'll have to pay taxes on the money when we withdraw it for a home even if we don't have to pay the penalty. Right now we're in the 25% bracket, we might move up to the 28% bracket when we're ready to own a home. I was worried we'd have to open an investment account for the IRA and I was hesitant to do that because I don't like investing when I might need the money soon the market is risky and volatile. Fortunately we were able to start savings account IRAs. Congress can could also change the tax code and remove this exception so that first time home buyers can no longer access their IRAs for the purpose of making a downpayment.

When I was in school I loved the gaming aspect of tax law but it's so much more stressful in real life. So, to keep this from happening again, Hubs has changed his withholding status so that the withholding is at the higher single rate, not the low married rate.

Please don't construe this blog entry as legal or tax advice. If you need tax help talk to a professional. If you have middling to low income the IRS has programs to help people get their taxes prepared. Every year I've done my taxes by myself I've made a mistake sometimes that mistake means I get more money than I thought sometimes it means I get less. I'm just explaining my frustration with my life situation this tax season.

Do you anticipate getting a refund this year? What will you do with it? Do you do your taxes yourself?

PS I just realized half of all the bloggers in the US blogged about taxes this week so sorry. :(

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Closet Clean Out?

I have that problem where I have a full, full closet and nothing to wear. I also have a hideous number of NWT things hanging out in my closet. I know part of the problem is that I over buy for summer but I live in Maine where is is winter pretty much all year round so I have lots of pretty summer dresses that don't get much wear.

 I've always wondered what a normal size wardrobe and I wanted to make sure my wardrobe was normal. When I was a pre-teen I wanted to be sure to have just as many clothes as the cool kids. Now I am afraid that I have to many clothes and I am being wasteful. So I'd like to know what's normal interns of closet size for your average American woman. But, I think there is no normal sized wardrobe. It all depends on who you are, what you do, and where you live.

My Primary Closet

I recently stumbled upon "Food, Shelter, Clothing and Optimal Wardrobe Size" by the Vivienne Files which lead to me reading "What is a 'Normal-Sized' Wardrobe?" by Recovering Shopaholic and I was inspired to try to par down my wardrobe to better fit my lifestyle (and my available space). These helped me figure out a good sized closet for me. based on the seasons I experience (endless winter), the range of clothing I need (business formal to yoga class), and how often I want to wear each item each season.

Maine is cold most of the year, September-ish through April. We have a brief spring/summer season May through August but it can still get very chilly at night. I figure I should aim to wear each item in my closet between two and four times each season. When I have a job I spend most of the week in business wear and most of this needs to be more formal business wear.

The Closet in our Spare Room with Nice Clothes, Party Dresses,
and NWT Things I Haven't Worn Yet

I did some math based on these factors and I'd like to try to par down my cold weather wardrobe to 30 work outfits and 22 casual outfits. I have a really hard time finding cold weather clothes that I like. Winter clothes take up more space than summertime clothes because they are heavy and warm. I also wear lots of layers in the winter so I can go a while between washes. So I will assume I'll be okay with repeating outfits up to four times. Indeed, after a quick count, it looks like I've been doing okay with 19 wintertime work dresses.

One of Three or Four Tubs of Summer Clothes in the Basement

I am going to be more lenient with my warm weather wardrobe since I love shopping for summer.  I would like to aim for between 34 and 26 warm weather work outfits and between 26 and 19 casual outfits. I have no idea how many summer clothes I have. Right now most of my summer clothes are packed up in several large plastic tubs in our basement. I think most of my pruning work will be in this area. I'll update when I unpack my summer clothes next month.

My Too Full "Dresser" with Tee Shirts, &c.

I also struggle with what to do with "basics" like layering tanks, tee shirts, and underwear. I spent about 10 years collecting C & C layering tanks in every color. Now I don't need a rainbow of layering tanks because I am a boring lawyer. I also don't need the what seems like millions of tee shirts I have from high school and college. At the same time it seems like I never have enough long underwear, pajama pants, or sweatshirts for lounging in on the weekends.

What does your closet look like? Do you have any plans for downsizing it or strategies for keeping it from getting out of hand while still making sure you still have enough to wear?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thoughts That Keep Me Up at Night

Sometimes I stay up at night thinking about all the things I've got to do the next day or later in the week. Sometimes my thoughts are just a giant pile of horrible that start off like this . . .

My student loan payments started off at $1161.06 a month. On an income based repayment plan loan payments are limed to 15% of my discretionary income. To make a $1161.06 a month payment payment on a income based repayment plan we would have to make $9033.40 a month, or $108,400.80 a year. I am unemployed right now and the job market in my field continues to be in the tank.

So Hubs and I would like to buy a home one day. According to Mint lenders generally won't give a mortgage if the payment will be greater than 28% of your gross monthly income. And they look at your other debt payments and combined with the mortgage payment they don't want those to be greater than 36%. Most lenders prefer you to have a 20% downpayment. In order to buy a house we'll have to save up an extra $10,000 to $40,000. And we'll have to have a combined income of $94,000 to $84,000 by the time we have all that saved up. And that just seems so impossible. I still can't find a job and if I don't find a job soon start my own practice and will likely have no income for year.

I want to have children, hopefully four about two years apart. If we wait another year it will be too late to have as many children as I want to have since I've always been told your ability to have healthy children decreases dramatically after 35. I want a job and want to buy a bigger place before we start having children. Neither of those things look like they'll happen.

And yesterday Hubs came home and said he'd like to quit his job. I don't want him to suffer at a job that isn't what he wanted so I'm supporting him. It wouldn't be as bad as I initially imagined. We'd still be able to pay rent for our apartment buy food if we both worked minimum wage jobs. But we wouldn't be able to afford anything else, like car insurance. Also, health insurance and all my allergy shots!

I also think about the job interviews I've gone to in the past year and I just want to know why no one has picked me yet. What am I doing wrong? What have I done wrong? I can't figure it out.

After thinking about all this I can't help but think about all the things I should have done differently in my life. . .

I went to school and I went to school for a long time. I had incredibly mediocre grades the whole while. If I had better grades I would have a job an a house now. I was so irresponsible with money. I shouldn't have taken out so much in student loans or I should have worked on paying them back while still in school. I shouldn't have even gone to law school--I could have gone to medical school for free but I choose law school because it was faster and easier and I hate touching people. I should have checked out the Bureau of Labor Statistics while in college and chosen a major based in part on which professions were expected to experience growth instead of majoring in History. I should have gone to a bigger school so that my major was more career oriented.

It all just makes me feel so frustrated and stupid. I can see all the mistakes I make and I get so angry at myself for being stupid I also get frustrated when I waste my time thinking about how I could have done things differently because I'm just wasting the time I have now. Sometimes I am sad about being off track and sometimes I get angry at my little pity party because I know so many others have it worse and they're making the most of their lives and getting plenty of sleep each night.

Some nights I'm still thinking hours after Hubs has fallen asleep and I just can't stop. So I'll read under the covers until I fall asleep just to keep myself from thinking about how it feels like my life is totally out of control and off track.

Delayed Posting Today

I've got an interview today (wish me luck) and I have a research project (already at close to 10 hours and not done yet) with a deadline today. So while I try to post at noon every Tuesday and Thursday, todays' post won't be ready until this evening. -eHa

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Maple Syrup Bread

This is an expensive recipe since Maple Syrup is the most expensive thing I ever buy. I modified Mark Bitmman's "Quick Whole Wheat and Mollasaes Bread" to get this recipe because I really, really can't stand molasses and it turned out great!

I'll pretend I made it in honor of Maple Sunday here in Maine (a couple of weeks ago now). This year's been a bad year for the maple syrup makers. The farmers tap the tress but they need cold nights and warm days in order for the sap to flow in the trees. It's been so cold during the day that the sap isn't flowing so there was hardly any maple syrup from this year for Maple Sunday.

1 1/2 c. milk warmed (microwaved for a minute) (or if you have it, butter milk)
2 T vinegar, white (apple cider vinegar or lemon juice would likely work as well)
1/2 c. maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. cornmeal
1 t salt
1 t baking soda (box)

Instructions: Make "buttermilk" by mixing 1 1/2 c. warm milk with 2 T white vinegar. Let the "buttermilk" rest, it will curdle a bit and that is okay. Combine the dry ingredients. Add 1/2 c. maple syrup and the butter milk. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake at 325º for one hour. (I always turn my baked goods around in the oven when they're halfway done.)

Hubs loved this. It was a very hearty bread and it was more like regular bread with yeast than like other quick breads. FYI Hubs thinks its snobby to say and prefer maple syrup over pancake syrup. But I think that's just being accurate since Maple syrup is made from tree sap and pancake syrup is maple flavored corn syrup. I can notice a real difference between the texture of two and I assume maple syrup is better for me because its less processed than pancake syrup.

I've been getting nutrition facts for my recipes from Calorie Counts' Recipe Analyzer. You copy and past a recipe in to the text field and it generates nutrition facts like the above for you! I also use MyFitnessPal to count calories and they have changed their Recipes section to make it easier to use! If you found a recipe on a website, it lets you import it by just copying and paying the URL. With both you'll likely have to clean up the recipe before it's finalized but both of these make it so much easier to keep track of calories and other nutrients when you cook from scratch.