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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Week Wrap-Up | Link Round-Up | October 26 – November 1, 2013

This week started with a lovely, lovely birthday dinner with some close friends from Rochester.  Alan and I drove back for the weekend, and it was such a nice way to celebrate my 30th birthday!

On house-buying/selling: we are SO CLOSE to closing on our Rochester house.  I can’t wait to say that it’s done.  We’re working on stuff for the Hartford house, since our contract has us closing by the end of November.  I actually really like where we’re living now, which seems like such a blessing to me.  It seems like a short-term rental should be miserable, but the apartment is great.  It helps that it’s not strictly short-term housing, we just happened to get a short lease, with flexible sub-leasing options.

Today Alan is working.  He only works every other Friday, and this is a long week.  We don’t have any plans for the weekend, although we’ve been trying to go on a hike every weekend.  I’ll post some pictures if we go.

I’m also starting a 31-day yoga challenge with myself.  I have a delightful 20-minute workout on this DVD (the “shanti” workout) that is such a good stretch and very relaxing.  I’ve been quite sore from going to the gym three times a week, and I think some yoga is just the thing I need.

 

Here are some links from the last *mumbles* months since I last did a link round-up:

11 Simple Ways To Be Happy  |  Your Super-Awesome Life

Angelina Jolie’s Breasts and the Bravery of Letting Go  |  Storyline Blog

Congo’s Superhero Moms  |  The Daily Beast  |  via Lindsey Cooper

Euphemisms about babies  |  Indexed

How to Cite Social Media in Scholarly Writing  |  Sage Connection  | via I Love Charts

The Incredible Case Of The Bank Robber Who’s Now A Law Clerk  |  NPR

The Rise and Fall of Katharine Hepburn’s Fake Accent   |  The Atlantic

Why You Need to Brag More (And How to Do It)  |  Huffington Post  |  via Anne-Marie Slaughter

 

Let’s chat!

What are your weekend plans?  How do you feel about daylight savings time?

 

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

 

yard sale & farewell party

So things are happening fast around here.  We spent the summer noses-to-the-grindstone, anticipating Alan’s dissertation defense.  That was the big deadline, the big finish line.  Then, all of a sudden, it was over.  We went to Utah, we came back, I was sick.  And now it’s one week before Alan starts work!  When did that happen?!

We had been planning on hosting a yard sale Saturday the 17th.  I was going to spend last week preparing: sorting through stuff in the storage areas of the house (porch, garage, loft, basement), pricing items, setting up.  Instead, I rested and tried to recover from being sick.  It seemed like the yard sale was going to have to wait.

Thursday morning I woke up feeling better.  I hadn’t felt good in nearly two weeks, and the energy was stimulating.  I decided, in bed before I even got up, to do the yard sale.  I’d have two days to sort and prepare, but I could do it!  My mom came over Thursday to help, and Alan didn’t go in to work on Friday.  (He finished the changes necessary to his dissertation Thursday, so he’s kind of done.  He will clean out his office, and he wants to spend some time training group-mates on some laser stuff before he leaves.)

Saturday we woke up early (5ish), and set up the yard sale.  It was quite a success!  Let me tell you what we did, what worked, and what didn’t.

 

1. I read The Joy of Less a while ago, and had a great mentality when sorting our possessions.  Instead of asking myself “am I willing to part with this?”, I asked “is this ‘treasure’?”  I didn’t decide what to sell, I decided to sell everything, and then had to choose what to keep.

2. I priced things low.  I advertised the sale as a “nothing over $10” sale.  Some people got really good deals on the items with the highest value.  I ran out of $0.25 and $0.50 stickers first, because I priced things so low.  I wanted things to be gone, I didn’t want to get the most money for each item.  I didn’t want anyone to want something, pick it up, and think it was too expensive.

3. We sold home improvement supplies.  This was Alan’s idea, and it worked great.  We sold the faucet we bought and never used, and the left-over chain link from installing the gate across our driveway (40 feet for $10).  We sold PVC pipe ($0.25 to $1.00 per piece) and green-board ($0.50 for partial boards) and cement-board ($0.25 for partial boards).  We sold partial cans of spray paint ($0.25) and wood stain ($0.25).  It was a good portion of the sale, and it attracted more buyers, including people just driving by the house who stopped.

4. We advertised on craigslist and gsalr.com.  In fact, I put up the gsalr.com ad first, and it had an option to cross-post on craigslist.  I still had to make the craigslist listing, but I could cut-and-paste some nifty html from gsalr.  It made the craigslist ad look nice: it had a map and a nice font.  It was easy and free.

5. I advertised for no early birds.  I don’t know if this made a huge difference, but it helped me not get stressed out when setting up.  In the ad I mentioned that prices were tripled before 8am.  That kept people away!

6. I made really legible signs.  I read some advice to simply make signs that say “yard sale” with an arrow.  I used some foam-board we had, and a huge magic marker.  I made the letters six inches high, and the arrow was seven inches high and 15 inches across.  We put out five signs.  Two were double-sided, so they could be read by traffic going either direction.  They went on the main roads leading to our house.  There was a single sign that pointed to our house if you came via a side street.  And there were two signs right in our front yard: one on the left and one on the right, for traffic going both directions.

7. We had a cooler of bottled water and ice.  We sold the bottles for $0.25.  It wasn’t a huge draw, but we did sell some bottles of water to people who didn’t buy anything else!

8. We had lots of change (probably too much).  We withdrew $150 from the bank: 5x $10, 10x $5, 30x $1, and two rolls of quarters.  In retrospect we probably needed 5x $10, 5x $5, 15x $1, and one roll of quarters.  I had priced so many things at $0.25 and $0.50, that I felt the need for nearly a hundred quarters.  But I didn’t think about the fact that most people would buy more than one thing.  Plus, I’d often round down, to make people feel they were getting a really good deal.

9. I kept the change in a carpenter’s apron.  It kept the money on my person, and it was easy to pull out change.  It was also easy to switch the apron between me and Alan during the sale.  I handled most transactions, but I also left the sale several times to pick up more stickers (see #2), and to pick up some lunch.

10. We set out everything for free after the sale was over.  I put a curb alert on craigslist, and we told the neighborhood kids everything left was free.  They were so excited.  Their parents probably weren’t thrilled that they brought home so much junk, but it was fun to watch.  I did pick out a few high priced items that didn’t sell: a clarisonic mia face washer, a pair of unworn dansko shoes, and a nice coat Alan’s never worn.  We’ll bring those to Goodwill, along with anything that was left.  I think we’ll have just one box worth of stuff for Goodwill.

 

We made over $300 at the sale, which sort of surprised me.  (I say “sort of”, because I kept an inventory list as I priced the items, and I entered it into Excel.  I knew that the sum of what I had priced was over $300, and that surprised me.)  I said to Alan several times before the sale that I was most excited to get rid of so much stuff.  Making money was secondary.  Yard sales are such a win-win!

 

We held the sale from 8am to 4pm.  At 6pm we had some friends over for a farewell/congratulations Alan party.  I knew I’d be tired, so I planned a super low-key party.  I cut up a watermelon and a pineapple into wedges (finger food!), and set out the leftover bottles of water (#7 above).  I asked people to bring soda, beer, or chips/dip.  We ordered six pizzas, and an hour-and-a-half into the party I went out to buy a box of ice cream sandwiches.  We ate in the back yard, sitting on wooden arm chairs Alan brought from the house (we sold almost all our outdoor chairs that morning!).  It was the best party I’ve thrown in a while.

Our friends from church came (as well as my parents), and it was really great to sit and chat.  Most of the people had been in the first Small Group I joined, five years ago when I returned from China.  That’s where I met Alan.  That group has since dissolved: people got married, and had babies, and moved on from just being “young adults.”  It was so, so nice to be together again.  We talked and laughed until it got too dark to see anymore.

The reality that we’re moving has only just sunk in.  Alan’s first day of work is a week from tomorrow.  A week later the cats and I will join him.  There’s still lots to do, but it’s all very exciting!

 

 

P.S. Today is our anniversary–four years!

 

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getting the house ready to sell

I redid the kitchen last fall.

I just remodeled the bathroom.

The living parts of the house are fairly tidy (empty).  The storage areas (porch, basement, loft, garage) are not.  They have lots of stuff, and they aren’t very well organized.

We’re having a yard sale next Saturday (the 17th), which will go a long way towards clearing those parts out.  My goal is to either sell or pack everything that’s currently in storage by next Saturday.

There’s a small list of other things to do around the house: paint both stairways (the walls, not the stairs), hang two cabinet doors in the kitchen, install crown molding in the bathroom, take down photos, fill holes & touch-up paint.

I had a realtor come over today to look at the house.  I gave him our list of things to do, and we walked through the house.  He asked me if this was going to be a “spring sale.”

“Next spring?!” I asked, incredulous.

“Yes.”

“Um, we’re moving in a month.  I want to get the house on the market ASAP so we can put an offer on the house I love in East Hartford.”

“Well,” he said, “this is a long list…”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So that was sort of a bummer.  It’s possible that he was thinking that Alan and I both work full time, and would only have evenings and weekends in which to work.  Alan’s dissertation defense is tomorrow (!!!), and hopefully he’ll be home more after that. [I know I said that when he turned in his dissertation, and he was home more.  But he still worked 60-ish hours a week, which doesn’t leave tons of time for projects.  After defending tomorrow, he has to make the changes his committee suggests, and he wants to write another paper for publication.]

If we’re both home during the day, and working on the house, I don’t see why we can’t get it done in a couple of weeks.  There will be heavy lifting clearing the storage areas, sorting our stuff, lots of painting, lots of cleaning… But we can do it, right?

I’m kind of bewildered right now.  Every day we don’t list our house is another day that someone else will make an offer on the East Hartford house.  I’m making progress, but my injury has slowed me down significantly.  I had hoped that we could list the house, and then keep working on it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For the next 24 hours, I will focus on Alan’s dissertation defense.  Then we’ll revisit home improvement and listing the house.  It’ll be okay. :)

 

 

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Week Wrap-Up // Link Round Up // July 27-August 6

Ptoley & chipmunk  |  Eliza Everyday

This week has been more of the same: working on the house, Alan preparing for is dissertation defense and writing some papers.

After crazy procrastinating, I finally contacted a real estate agent last week regarding getting our house on the market.  I wanted to finish the bathroom (which I did [mostly] this week!) first, but I also dragged my feet getting that done…  Anyway.  I emailed an agent last Friday, and when I hadn’t heard back on Tuesday, I left a voice mail.  And I still haven’t heard back from her.

So I called a different agent yesterday, and he called me back three hours later!  Excellent!  He’s coming over tomorrow to look at the house and talk about how soon we can get the house on the market.  So today I have a huge list of things to do.  If can get through the first 10 or so, I’ll be in great shape:

Update: I was doing pretty well getting things crossed off my list yesterday.  Then, I was standing on my bed, leaning over Alan’s window, with my foot on his side-table for balance.  I lost my balance, and put too much weight on the foot on top of the side-table.  The side-table has a glass top, and my foot went right through it.  Fortunately my injuries were minor: a few cuts and bruises.  But that kind of killed my momentum.

patch the bathroom ceiling where we took out the wall

trim out the kitchen window, caulk, paint (and put a bit of drywall in the gap)

fill gaps between cabinets [update: I can’t find the pieces of MDF we cut in the fall for this–this may have to wait]

paint 2nd coat on open cabinets [update: this depends on the MDF gap pieces; also on hold]

cut and install some cove molding in the bathroom

take down the broken blinds (thanks Copper & Ptoley!) in the upstairs

clean out the rec room upstairs, which housed all the tools & supplies for the bathroom project (it’s a huge mess) [update: mostly done!]

re-arrange the rec room into a bedroom (since it’s the 2nd bedroom in the house)

tidy whole house / pack boxes with any extraneous items that we definitely want to bring to Hartford / gather yard sale items [update: partially done!]

dust, sweep, vacuum

plant some flowers in the front barrel

trim the front bushes

make some space in the garage, and transfer garage sale items from porch to garage

paint the shutters

paint the front door (second coat)

paint the picnic table

plan and put together a shopping list for re-doing the stairs going up to the front door

 

links from the last two weeks after the jump Continue reading

stuff

So Alan’s still working, but he’s almost done!  He’ll submit his paperwork and dissertation this Friday (June 28th), and defend his dissertation the week of August 5-9 (the day isn’t certain yet).

I am at that particular moment where the work to be done seems overwhelming.  There was a point every semester of school when I’d look at the syllabus to see what remained–assignments, papers, tests–and decide that it was impossible to get all that done in three weeks (or however long was left in the semester).  Of course it would always get done.  And the best way to ensure that it will get done is to start working.  But I would always panic and despair.

I was in the basement today cleaning the cats’ litter box, looking at the pile of old kitchen cabinets, some old bath towels that I’ve wanted to donate to a shelter, the old refrigerator we moved to the basement when we bought a new one three years ago that mostly has old bottles of ketchup in it, disorganized home improvement tools, cleaning supplies, cans of paint.  We need to replace our furnace before we put the house on the market, and I’d like to get the basement cleaned out before we do that, and oh, there’s just so much to do.

I’m an aspiring minimalist, which is hilarious if you know how much I like stuff.  It’s not that I like having stuff just to have stuff.  I like having the right stuff; the right tool for the job.  The reality is that I often buy the wrong tool, then buy something else to supplement it or partially replace it, and then maybe finally buy the right tool.  The problem is then I have four tools, when I only want one.

Minimalism is more of a philosophy than an aesthetic.  It’s often coincident with a spartan aesthetic.  Alan likes the spartan look.  He’d be content with very little furniture and white walls.  I like a house to feel cozy and inviting, which is often coincident with clutter, but not necessarily.

Alan’s been pushing for us to get a Japanese futon for our next bed.  Our current bed (frame and mattress) is one that we got for free from a friend, who got it for free from her parents.  It’s ancient, and probably full of all sorts of dust and allergens, but we’re poor graduate students, so we use it.  Rather than buying a new bed, new box-spring, and new mattress, we could buy a Japanese futon mattress that goes on the floor.

I’m trying to imagine a house that’s minimalist, partially Japanese-inspired, and cozy.  It’s doable, right?  Floor pillows are both Japanese and cozy.  We could still have a couch.  I already don’t want to dedicate a whole room to dining; Alan and I could eat at the coffee table, and we could pull out a folding table and chairs for company.

But here’s the thing: it’s fun to imagine a new house with a new aesthetic.  But in order to get there, we need to seriously thin out our current possessions (yard sale coming up!), sell our house, buy a new house, and then buy stuff for that house.  The whole idea is just a lot to take in today.  Tomorrow I’ll sort through a few boxes and it’ll all seem better.  But today… oof!

 

 

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that time our cats jumped out of a second-story window

A few weeks ago the weather got really hot and muggy, and I asked Alan to put the air conditioner in our bedroom window.  He opened the window and screen, and I warned him not to let the cats jump out the window.  They love to be outside, and we let them out occasionally, but only if we’re out with them, and only if the gate is closed so they can’t escape.  Also, I didn’t want them to jump too far, or to get stuck in the big tree outside our window.

view from our bedroom window

Alan kind of rolled his eyes at me and gave me a “yes, Dear” nod, as the cats slipped out the window one by one.  I gave a little shriek,  and scrambled to get downstairs and check on them.  I put on shoes to go outside and close the gate so they wouldn’t escape from the back yard.  Alan seemed unconcerned.

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