Going to Court

I’ve been at my job for two and a half months now, and I’m starting to go to court!  It’s very exciting for me, although, like most things, I’m sure it will become boring or even something I dread some days.  But today is not that day!  Today, I am excited to go to court!

I went to a “Short Calendar” in New London yesterday that was only foreclosures.  I went to observe my colleague argue two cases.  As the name implies, Short Calendars are made up of dozens of motions between dozens of parties that can be argued relatively quickly.  In foreclosure court that might be a Motion to Reapply for Foreclosure Mediation made by a defendant, or a Motion to Extend the Law Day (the day the house is foreclosed on) by the defendant, or (in our case) a Motion for Strict Foreclosure made by the plaintiff (in our case this was the Town–we do tax foreclosures), or a Motion for Foreclosure by Sale made by the plaintiff (the Town or the bank).  These are relatively short arguments, and the court hears dozens of them over the course of a morning.

Well, yesterday was a bit odd.  Everything moved slowly, and my colleague told me to leave at 11:00, even though he hadn’t argued yet.  I needed to go to Probate Court in Norwich to read through a file, and then we needed to get back to the office to prepare for a Trial/Administrative Appeal today.  So I reluctantly left, not having seen the argument.  Next Monday I will accompany him to a foreclosure Short Calendar in Middletown.  And at some point, very soon, I will have to go to the Short Calendars by myself!!

So today is a Trial/Administrative Appeal.  It’s an appeal of a decision by a Zoning Board of Appeals.  You appeal those decisions to the Superior Court, which is the trial court level in Connecticut.  So even though it’s an appeal, it’s heard at the trial court level.  I’m not exactly sure how that all shakes out, but I’ll find out today.

My very first day of work, two and a half months ago, I was given the task of writing the reply brief/trial brief for this case.  I read a bunch of case law and zoning regulations, and went through a half-dozen drafts back and forth with my colleague.  So I have a soft spot for this case, and I’m psyched to “second chair” the trial.

 

In other news, I’ve been loving the August Break photo-a-day program.  A few weeks ago I was at my grandparents’ cottage with my brother and sister-in-law.  We were chatting about Instagram, and I said that you could follow me on Instagram to see pictures of my cats.  “And food!” my sister-in-law added.  “And food, indeed!” I agreed.  The August Break prompts have given me a new perspective on things to share.

I obviously adored the “in my bag” prompt, sharing what’s in my work bag, my clutch, and my organizer cube that goes from bag to bag (thanks Tom Bihn for retweeting that link!  My blog traffic really spiked!!!).  Taking the “selfie” brought me a bit out of my comfort zone, but I was reminded of the Dove Selfie Campaign video I saw in January (it’s 8 minutes long, but worth it).  I feel generally more inspired to capture different parts of my life, now, which is super cool.

I also have been appreciating my camera, which lets me take cool shots, like this one where only the water is in focus.  I posted what’s in my camera bag, and I’ll write more about my camera set-up sometime.

 

I hope your August is going spectacularly.  Wish me luck at court today!

All the best,

Eliza

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Mid-Summer

So, I’ve been working!

I started working June 2, which means I’ve been working:

  • 8 weeks
  • 56 days
  • 1344 hours

(do you guys use timeanddate.com?  It’s great!)

Eight weeks.  It seems like I’ve kind of been working there forever!   It’s a really good job, and it’s a really good fit with my background.  I am an associate at a small (4 lawyers) land use law firm.  We specialize in municipal law, planning and zoning, and wetlands law.  We also do some real estate law, some tax foreclosures, some wills and estates.

The job is 9-5, plus evening meetings.  Of the 8 weeks I’ve worked there, 6 weeks have had two meetings, one had one meeting, one had none.  It’s not unheard of to have three meetings.  The meetings definitely make for a long day.  I still try to get to work around 9:00am.  We work until sometime between 3:30 and 5:30 (depending on travel time to the meeting), then drive to the town, eat dinner at a restaurant and strategize about the meeting, then attend the meeting.  The meetings usually start at 7:00 or 7:30pm, and can last from one to four (or more!) hours.  I always get home after 10:00pm (after the Fairfield nights [see below] I got home a little before 1:00am).

Two weeks ago I had two meetings in Fairfield, CT, which is a good 90 minute drive.  And the meetings were contentious public hearings for affordable housing developments, so they went late.  Fairfield has an end time of 11:00pm, which is unusual.  Most towns just go until it’s done.  There are stories around the office of meetings going until 2:30am!  Fortunately, that is the exception.

It’s been an adjustment, physically, to the work schedule.  The first weeks were rough.  I slept a lot, and weekends were so short!  But I seem to have turned a corner.  This weekend I actually tried to take on some home improvement projects!  That’s an improvement from my “just survive” mentality up to that point.

I’ve been sworn into the Connecticut bar, so I can go to court in Connecticut and sign court documents.  I’ve done both of those things, which is thrilling!  I framed my diplomas, and my name is now on the office door (!!!).

It’s definitely been an adjustment to working, but it’s been so good.  It’s good to be doing what I trained so hard and so long to do.  And it’s nice getting a paycheck!  I hadn’t worked for pay since before Alan and I married, five summers ago.

Here is a photo of the sky outside our house right now.  We had odd weather today: rain in the morning, steamy sun in the afternoon, and ominous clouds in the evening.  Alan says it reminds him of tornado weather, but I’m not sure he’s ever lived in tornado country before…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

All the best,

Eliza

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starting, again

Hello, again!

 

After an extended quiet period, I’m back.  I have news: I got a job!  Starting Monday, I will be an Associate Attorney with a small, Land Use law firm in the greater Hartford area.  It’s a very good fit for me with my Law degree and my Master’s in Urban Planning.  I am just thrilled to be finally (finally!) starting my career.

 

The last eighteen months have been tough.  December 2012 I finished my Master’s degree.  I had already graduated from law school in May 2012, and I already had taken and passed the New York bar exam.  But December 2012 is when I started waiting.  I waited nine months for Alan to finish his PhD, so we could move.  Then I had to wait six months to take the Connecticut Bar exam, and another three to find out if I passed [I did!].

 

I didn’t enjoy waiting.  Sure, my friends would mention that they’d love an extended vacation, and yes, it’s been nice to take daily naps if I want.  But I realized early on that rest is only rest if you’re resting from something.  The weekend is sweet because you’re going back to work Monday.  Getting up every day with an entire, open day in front of you gets tiresome and demoralizing.

 

On the other hand, I really learned how to be alone in these eighteen months.  And I think it’s been a good lesson.  I’m more comfortable being alone with my thoughts, alone in the quiet.  I used to get quite frustrated with the time between 5:00pm, when I wanted Alan to come home, and 7:00 or 8:00, when he actually arrived home.  I hated that quiet, alone time.  I wanted to be talking about my day, making plans for the evening or weekend, discussing dinner or current events.  I wanted to go right from school/work to talking.  I’ve learned to be happy with some quiet, alone time.

 

I have lots of fun things to tell you about.  Since I’ve gone quiet, I’ve taken up crosswords and Crossfit.  We’ve started to renovate and redecorate the new house.  Alan and I found a church we really like, and have gotten involved in small groups and service.  I bought a whole new work wardrobe (see above RE: Crossfit), and am embracing the idea of a capsule wardrobe.  For nine months, I got to be close to my sister (she was in Boston, we’re 100 miles away in Hartford), and then I got to help her move to Minnesota for an awesome new job.  I’ll work on telling some of these stories, as well as new ones that haven’t happened yet.  I’ll also continue to link to my Instagram account, so you can see snapshots of my life (which is mostly the cats).

 

Well, today is the last day of my 18 month vacation.  I’m going to do some grocery shopping and maybe take a nap.  :)

 

 

 

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Productivity for nurturers: my [so far, so good] system for overcoming procrastination

I wasn’t always such a procrastinator.

Sure, I’d put off school projects from time to time, but I got enough pleasure out of doing a really good job that I’d usually get to work on them right away.  I liked having time to revise things.  I liked working hard.  It seemed worth it.

I dealt with the usual senior-itis, in both high school and college.  And then I worked a couple of assistant-level jobs where I, for the first time in my life, didn’t feel like the hard work was worth it.  Part of the problem was that I didn’t mesh well with some of my supervisors.  My go-get-’em approach, combined with a few errors of the “you don’t know what you don’t know” variety, made me gun shy.  I didn’t want to try and be wrong and get yelled at, again.  So I started putting things off.  It was extremely stressful.  Not only did I have to deal with the stress of being undertrained or having a boss with unrealistic expectations, I had to deal with the stress of procrastinating.  But, like most issues that involve feeling hurt, it wasn’t a rational decision.

I brought that baggage with me to law school.  I was very much “once bitten, twice shy.”   The instant I felt like I wasn’t understanding a topic as quickly as my peers, I resigned myself to being a second-rate student.  If I didn’t try my hardest, the [relative] failure felt easier to bear.  Don’t get me wrong, I graduated with honors.  I was in Law Review, and the Editor-in-Chief of a specialty journal.  I competed in moot courts.  I did well.  But I think I could have done better, if I had more confidence.

I graduated from Law School nearly two years ago.  Sheesh, that’s a long time ago.  Due to a variety of circumstances, I’m still not working.  I finished the second part of my dual degree (a Master’s in Urban Planning), I studied for and passed the New York Bar.  I waited for Alan to finish his Ph.D., and then moved with him to Connecticut, where I would need to take another bar exam.  That exam is in 10 days, and if/when I pass, I will finally be able to work as a lawyer!

And just this week, I seem to have found a work-around for my now-chronic procrastination.  The only way I can reliably get my house clean is to go on vacation.  I will work and work and work to have the house clean when I return.  I want to come home to a clean kitchen, an empty sink, a freshly made bed with clean sheets, swept floors–the works.  Inviting people over will motivate me somewhat, but going away will make the house sparkle.

Earlier this week Alan came down with a cold.  He almost certainly caught it when he was flying back from spending a week in San Francisco for a conference.  I felt the beginning of the sickness, and decided to take care of future me.  I did all the laundry and put it away, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned out the fridge, made sure I had some prepared food ready to go, gathered the appropriate over-the-counter medications, and filled the electric tea kettle.  I did this for the first time last year, when a similar pattern befell our home: Alan got sick, gave me the cold, but that time he had to leave for the long weekend to go on a job interview.  I knew I’d be home alone, and I wanted to make sure I was taken care of the only way I could: the just-coming-down-with-a-cold me took care of the full-blown-sick-me, through some ordinary time travel.

As I marveled on my ability to get the house so clean, even as I was feeling ill, I saw the connection between my pre-vacation and pre-illness behaviors.  Taking care of myself in the future prevents procrastination!

I also observed this, to a smaller extent, in a few habits I’ve recently developed.  I’ve been setting out outfits the night before, making it a no-brainer to get dressed for the gym, or for the day.  I’ve also become a devoted fan of mise en place, the practice of preparing and measuring out all the ingredients for a recipe before starting any cooking.  Both of these habits make it nicer for future-Eliza to do something easily.

So here I am, 10 days before the bar exam.  And I’ve decided to think of poor Eliza, on Tuesday, one week before the bar exam.  She’ll be stressed and tired.  What can I do for her?  I can review all the outlines in my bar preparation materials, take notes, and transfer them to one 4″x6″ card per subject.  She can carry them around for quick review.  I can read and review all the exam procedures, print off maps to the venue, and get that all set, so she doesn’t have to worry about last minute stressors.  I can also write out a flexible review schedule for the last week of studying.  In addition, I can look over some meal plans, and sign up for some classes at the gym.

I have been more productive today than I’ve been in years with this realization.  I’m definitely in the beginning stages of figuring this all out.  Perhaps I’ll take some time every week to ask myself: what can I do this week to make things easier/better for me, one week from now?  It’s not that different than deciding what I’d like to get done in the following week, in theory.  But in practice, personalizing it, empathizing with who I will be ____________ [when I get back from vacation, when I am in the throes of this cold, when I am a week out from the bar exam, when I’m looking back on this week] makes all the difference.

 

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New House + Catching Up + CT Bar Exam

Hi all–

As you can probably tell from the photos, we’ve moved into the new house.  Things are still very much in process.  There are boxes in at least half of the rooms, and so, so much wallpaper to remove.

The CT Bar exam is in less than two weeks, and I have been having the hardest time studying.  On the one hand, studying has been great.  Every time I sit down to write a practice essay, my answers are more or less the same as the sample answer.  Which is wonderful!  Except it invariably prompts me to say: “I know this stuff!” and then close my books for a week or two.  I keep hoping that as the deadline approaches I will feel more motivation (panic!), but I don’t.  I really thought two weeks would scare me.  But it hasn’t.  So it looks like I need to just do it, not to wait for inspiration to strike.

On that note, this will be a short post.  I will keep linking to my instagram pictures.  I think it helps keep the blog up to date without taking a lot of time or energy.  Expect to continue to see a few pictures a week.  After the bar, I’ll try to write more about the house and other fun projects and activities we try out.

Take care!

in the house/projects!

Hello!  Long time, no see!

We closed on our house in Rochester mid-November, and closed on our house here in East Hartford last Monday (12/9).  I didn’t share much here on the blog while it was happening, because things got complicated and frustrating, and it looked like things might not work out (with either house!).  But, thankfully, we were able to both sell our old house and buy our new house!

Last Friday, Alan took the day off.  We rented a U-Haul, and moved our furniture, most of our tools, and a bunch of boxes that we never unpacked from our first move in September.  We’re not completely out of the apartment: that is the topic of the second half of this post.

This past Monday (12/16), the previous owner, Angela, who had lived in this house for either her entire life (of 70+ years) or at most of her life, came by to tell me about the house and the landscaping.  I was holding my breath and waiting to start on projects until after that visit.  I didn’t want her to come by and for her beloved home to be torn up.  So now it feels like I can really do things around the house, like strip the wallpaper that is in every room.

wallpaper  |  Eliza Everyday

 photo courtesy of the real estate listing for the house

And as I mentioned above, we are still not completely moved out of the apartment.  So right now I have four priorities:

1. move out of the apartment

2. get settled in the house

3. begin projects around the house

4. study for the CT bar (which is in about 2 months!)

It’s much more fun to begin projects around the house than it is to move the last bits out of the apartment, or to dive into Admin Law.  But it is much more important to get out of the apartment.  The sooner we can vacate, the sooner they will re-list our place.  If they can find a tenant to move in, we can stop paying rent!  It’s also very important that we get settled in this house.  It took me years to feel settled in our Rochester house (don’t move right as you start Law School, if you can help it!), and we lived in half-unpacked stasis in the apartment for the past three months.  I want things to be put away and organized and tidy here.

I want to both document our progress, and share it with you (and keep myself accountable), so I’m going to post some before and after pictures.  This will cover points one through three above.  First up is moving out of the apartment.  After we finished moving big stuff last Friday, this is where we ended up:

apartment before  {Eliza Everyday}

apartment before  {Eliza Everyday}

apartment before  {Eliza Everyday}

 

These pictures don’t show the upstairs (which is about the same in terms of chaos, but half the size of the downstairs), or the kitchen (which is tidy, but not packed).

After an hour of work this afternoon, here is one “finished” corner:

apartment after  {Eliza Everyday}

 

I’m boxing things up, recycling and tossing as much as possible, and getting things in order.  I’m also bringing a carload of stuff back to the house every time I go.  My goal is to have the apartment boxed up and tidy, so that I can more easily bring things to the house, and so that if I need Alan to help me he won’t have to spend time packing, just moving.  I’m going back this evening to work on another corner, and I’ll update this post with another picture tonight.

Update: here is a pic from Wednesday

20131223-084228.jpg

Well, I’m going to do some tidying/settling here, as well as put a coat of paint on the kitchen cabinets.  The kitchen is currently quite chaotic, but that is a topic for another post (tomorrow?).

 

 

Oh, and I will finish my house-cleaning mini-series, eventually.  Hold on, it’s coming!

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Hello from CT!

We are slowly settling into life in Connecticut.  We’re in an apartment with a six month lease, but it looks like we’ll actually be in the house closer to November than March.  Fortunately, our leasing office said we can assign (sublease) the rest of our lease, so it should work well.

It took way longer than anticipated to get internet set up.  I was somewhat smug that I had made an appointment to install internet at the apartment last Monday (the 9th), but it got really confusing with self-installing and dead phone jacks.  They finally sent a technician, who unplugged the filter from the phone jack, and everything worked.  I asked him if that was the whole problem.  He shook his head and said no, that he had hooked up the cable in the basement before coming to the apartment.  That would help, yes.

We got a new bed, new mattress, new chest of drawers, and new sectional couch delivered from Ikea.  Alan and I picked everything out a week ago, but because direct deposit wasn’t set up for his paychecks then, I went back this week to actually place the order and pay for everything.  I didn’t feel comfortable loading up a cart with 86 lb. mattresses and 240 lb. dressers.  So I used the “pick and deliver” service, which was only $119 for everything, and they delivered it 24 hours later.  It helps that we live about 45 miles from the Ikea in New Haven!

I’m still assembling furniture.  I have everything put together except for the drawers for the bed.  It surprises me that I like putting together Ikea furniture.  I’m very much a “big picture” person: I really prefer to know the overview before I hear the details.   But that doesn’t work (for me) with looking through furniture instructions.  Instead, I have to just do the next step, and trust that it will all come together.  And it does.  It’s a very Zen-like experience for me, focusing on the present.

Copper and Ptoley are doing well.  They did not like the seven hour car drive.  Copper hid under the passenger seat for 99% of the trip.  Ptoley walked around for a while, before perching on the center arm rest and looking out the windshield.  It wasn’t long before he got nervous, and climbed into my lap.  He’d lay there for maybe a whole minute, before he decided he really wanted to be able to see out the window, so he’d make a loop back to the center arm rest.  He split his time between those two locations, never staying long in either.

They weren’t happy to be in the car, and they were even less happy to be locked into the bathroom for the next six hours.  The apartment is a loft, and the bathroom is the only room of the house that has a door that closes and latches–all the closets have metal bi-fold doors.  So the cats, their food, and their travel litter box hung out in the bathroom while we (mostly Alan–I had come down with a miserable cold the day before) unloaded the van.  They hid in the cabinet in the bathroom–poor cats :(

Alan seems to be enjoying his job.  He’s working on getting his security clearance right now, so his job duties are somewhat limited.  His office is in the unsecured part of the building, and the lab is secured.  He said the most common conversation in the cubicles is “let’s go to the lab–I need to talk to you about something.”  Despite the fact that all the employees’ offices are in the cubicles, I get the impression that he’s sometimes the only person there for portions of the day; everyone else is in the lab.

I got a new phone, an iPhone!  I’ve had a flip phone since forever, which has worked fine for me.  But being without internet, and without the ability to do things like look up bank balances, the decision to get a smartphone was reinforced in my mind.  I hadn’t been able to wrap my mind around a two-year contract for a ridiculous amount of money each month, so when a friend told me about Page Plus Cellular, I was intrigued.  I bought the phone (it works on the Verizon network with any Verizon phone) from Amazon Warehouse.  It’s a few generations old, but it was in a sealed package with all the original accessories, so I do not care!  And then I put a $12/month plan and a $10 prepaid card on the phone.  The $12/month plan is the lowest, and provides 250 minutes, 25o texts, and 10 MB of data.  I have cellular data turned off, and will turn it on if I’m out and about and need to look something up.  The $10 card is a cushion, so that if I use up the plan minutes/texts/data, I can draw from the card, which lasts 120 days.  So I could spend as little as $14.50 a month for iPhone coverage, which is awesome.

I also hooked my phone number up to Google Voice, so that I can have both a local number, and keep my old number.  It’s kind of like getting a new email address when you get married.  Plus, I can use the Google Voice app on the iPhone on WiFi (at home), and make calls without using my minutes!  It’s pretty nifty.

Lest you think my life is all new phones and new couches, 65% of the apartment is still boxes.  The decluttering never ends.  I’m hoping to consolidate between this move and the next.  And it’s hard to wrap my mind around settling into this apartment, if we’re moving again in a few months.  I have to go assemble more Ikea furniture and live in the present… or something…

 

I hope you have an excellent weekend!  Is it starting to feel like Fall?  Do you have any plans for the weekend?  I’d love to hear them in the comments!

 

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introducing Brickhaüs

It looks like we got the house!

The seller wanted her attorney to review the contract before she’d sign off on it.  That happened today, and the latest we heard from the realtor, the attorney had reviewed the contract and all was good.  But we still don’t have the signed contract quite yet.

Nevertheless, it looks like our offer will be accepted!

 

My emotions are mixed.

+ I’m glad to have our offer accepted.  It’s a good feeling.

– I’ve never even seen the house in person, so I’m not really attached to it (the way I was to the other house).

– I feel slightly bad knowing another buyer wanted the house.  Apparently they’ve wanted it for a while, and had a hard time getting financing together.  I know how it feels to want something for a long time, and for someone else to swoop in and buy what you wanted.

– We’re moving to an apartment tomorrow, and so I’m packing up our current house.  It’s work, and it’s emotional–this was our first home together, and I really love it.

– We haven’t sold our current house yet, and that has to happen before we can go forward with the new contract.

 

It’s good.  It’s really good.  The house seems adorable and well maintained, and it’s on a lot of land (for a city house), and it’s in a nice neighborhood, and it’s near Alan’s work.

 

Hopefully I’ll be firmly on the “happy” side of things next week: we will be packed and moved to Connecticut, and I’ll get to see the house in person.  I’ll definitely take photos to share!

 

Happy weekend!   I’ll get back to posting links/round-ups once we’re settled in CT.

 

 

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waiting, again

I am on hold with Connecticut Natural Gas.  This is the third time I’ve called.  Apparently when they pull up my social security number it has my maiden name listed.  So they’ve requested that I fax over a copy of my social security card, and my marriage license.  I filed my name change with Social Security four years ago.  Sigh.

So I faxed it yesterday, but apparently it didn’t go through.  I found this out after waiting on hold for more than an hour.  The representative said to “just call back real quick” after I faxed it.  Ha!

It wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have prepaid cell phones.  It’s cost me at least $10 to wait on hold so far…

 

We’re also waiting to hear about the offer we made on the brick house.  We weren’t planning on making an offer so quickly, but someone else made an offer, so it was now or never.  I love that house, and I’d be thrilled if our offer was accepted.  There are lots of other houses for sale in the area, so we’ll be okay either way.  And every time we make an offer, we get closer to having all the paperwork and such that we’ll need eventually, so that’s good.

 

I am also packing boxes this week.  It’s not difficult, but it’s been hard for me to do.  I don’t know if it’s the symbolism of moving, or the heaviness (literal and metaphorical) of all our possessions, or what.  It’ll all get done, because it has to get done.  I think I’m going to conscript my friends who come over for Ladies’ Night to help me wrap and pack dishes :)

 

I’m still on hold…  I just hope I can get through before they close for the day…!

 

Update: 25 minutes later, I’m still on hold.  But at least I can find some humor in the situation.  Instead of playing their desired message (something like: “your call is important to us; please stay on the line”), there is a computer voice that says “CNG message 2 dot wav,” which obviously the file name.  It’s pretty funny.

 

 

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new chapters

Today is Alan’s first day of work!  I’m so, so proud of him.  He’s at a hotel in Connecticut, and I’m still here in Rochester, working on the house.  I wish I could be there to eat breakfast with him, and see him in his work clothes.  But I’m sure he’ll be great.

 

So we didn’t get the house.  Our offer was more contingent than the other offer.  We have to get our house sold before we could go through with the contract.

 

By the time I heard back last evening, I was prepared to be okay with either outcome.  See, I had told my mom that we put in an offer, but that there was another offer in at the same time.  And she jumped on Zillow to look at other houses in East Hartford.

 

She sent me an email Saturday night with the subject “isn’t this the house you love in Indiana?”  I went to college in Indiana, and drove from Rochester to Upland dozens of times.  Every time, I drove through the town of Angola, and passed this house:

 

I love the red brick, the white shutters, the front door, the ivy.  It was my dream house.

And here is the house in East Hartford:

East Hartford house

 

It’s really similar, right?  I still prefer the double-wide windows in the Angola house, but wow, I like this house!

 

It’s a touch bigger than the other house, and 50% bigger than our house now (1,500 square feet v. 1,000).  And it’s a touch more expensive than the other house, but still really affordable.  The inside is covered in wallpaper.  It’s really well done, but really dated and not my style.

 

Alan’s going to try to go see the house this week.  Our house here in Rochester will be listed on the MLS this week, so things are happening!

 

 

DID YOU FIND A TYPO IN THE POST?  LET ME KNOW HERE.