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!



useful web tools

Every so often I come across a tool that makes my life significantly easier.  Here are a few tools I use when browsing the web that I love.

{click on any picture in the post for a larger view}

downforeveryoneorjustme.com {http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com}

You’re trying to check gmail.  It doesn’t seem to be loading.  Is it just you?  Or is Gmail down?  Go to this website, type in the URL, and let it check for you.  It’s better than asking a friend on Facebook or Twitter whether they can access their Gmail.



wheresmycellphone.com {http://www.wheresmycellphone.com}

Can’t find your cell phone and don’t have a landline?  Type your phone number into this website, and it will call your phone for you.  I use this one more than I should–any time I use my cell phone on the couch, I invariably drop it down in the cushions.



control+shift+T {PC} | command+shift+T {Mac}

Did you just close a tab that you wish you hadn’t?  You could go to your history and open it back up, or you can click command+shift+T.  It opens up the most recently closed tab.  You can open the last ten closed tabs. It’s just like opening a new tab, but you also hold shift down at the same time.

If you close a whole window of tabs Chrome (but not Firefox), you can control+shift+T and get the whole window back.  If you have to force quit your computer, and had a bunch of tabs open in Chrome, you can get them back when your computer starts up again.  Just open Chrome, and click command+shift+T.  It’s magic.  I love it.


Google Reader is going away in July 2013.  I’m still working on finding a replacement I like as well.  I’ll update this when I do!

Google Reader {google.com/reader}

I read a lot of blogs: at least a hundred.  I used to bookmark blogs in categories (home, recipes, crafts, organizing, etc.), and open them all every couple of days.  It was less than efficient.

Now, I use Google Reader to organize my blogs.  If you have a Google account (Gmail, etc.), you can easily set up a Google Reader account.

Just go to google.com/reader, and click “SUBSCRIBE.”

Type in the name of the blog you want to follow, for example: elizaeveryday.com, apartmenttherapy.com, or chezlarsson.com, then click “ADD.”


You should get a yellow bar at the top that tells you you have been subscribed to the blog.

If it didn’t work, you’ll have to go through the website itself.

If you get this message

 go to the blog you’re trying to follow.  Look for an RSS link or button, or maybe a +Google button.

If they have a +Google button, click on it, and then choose “Add to Google Reader”

If they have an RSS, click on that button


Then choose “Subscribe with Google.”  You may have to click on the +Google button first.

Now.  Now! Here’s the best part.  Go to your Google Reader Settings

And click on “Goodies.”  Click on the yellow “Next” button and drag it to your bookmarks bar.

Now!  Open a new tab, and click the new “Next” bookmark.  It will bring you to the newest (or oldest–change it in the settings) blog post from any of the blogs you read.  With one click, you can read your blogs, without tons of bookmarks, or typing in URLs.

I set Google Reader as my home page, though I almost never go to it.  When I open a new tab in Chrome, it gives me the new tab form, not my home page.  But, when I come across a blog I think might be interesting, I copy the URL, click the home button, and subscribe to the blog right away in Google Reader.  I do accumulate quite a few blogs this way, but I’m equally unsentimental about unsubscribing from a blog.  If I click the “Next” button and come to a blog post that is boring or irrelevant to me, I do a quick mental scan to see if this blog has been boring or irrelevant for a while.  If so, I click on the home button, find the blog in my Google Reader, and unsubscribe.


That’s it for now.  Those are the tools I use most often and find to be the most helpful in my day-to-day online life.

What are your tips and tricks for navigating online?  I’m always looking for cool new tools!


Did you find a typo in the post?  Let me know here.


I have two email addresses.  One is for school and friends (important things).  The other is the one I use when I buy stuff.  Any mail trying to sell me stuff ends up there.  Sometimes I use my important stuff email for a charitable donation, and then get sort of annoyed when they send me emails that seem like they’re trying to sell me stuff.  But for the most part it works.

The split email system allowed me to keep my important email inbox clean, but for a while it wasn’t saving me any money.  My purchases email account is a hotmail account, and I used to click through every message before filing it away in a folder.  I had a bunch of folders: bank, Groupon, etc.  I’d click on the message so it marked as read, and then move it to a folder.  And even though I was just clicking through to avoid having a billion unread emails in my folder, I’d still be swayed by the advertisements.  I spent way too much money at Lands End, since it seemed like they were always having a sale.  (If they were always having a sale, you’d think I would figure out that I didn’t need to buy something this week, because they’d have a sale next week.  Nope.)

Side note: I love a clean email inbox.  I stare, rudely, at people with a huge number of unread email messages.  How can you function with 1,189 unread messages?  How do you ever find what you need?  I only keep emails in my inbox that are still actionable—things I’m waiting on (i.e., confirmation numbers for deliveries), and things I still need to do.  Everything else is filed away, where I can find it with a simple search.

Back to my purchases email account: It was a good day for my bank account when I discovered the “mark as read” function in hotmail.  Now I simply select all of the messages, unclick the ones that I might want to read—that tell me an online bill is due, or have tracking numbers for a package—and click the “mark as read” button.  Boom, no unread messages.  Then I click “move to Archive,” the single folder that I created.  I replaced all of my particular folders with one big folder.  It’s easy enough to search for “Groupon.”  I was wasting a bunch of time filing messages in particular folders.  The unwanted messages are moved to my Archive folder, and I just read the two or three interesting emails.

But this morning, I decided to go one step further.  I’m just going to unsubscribe from most of the emails I get.  I get emails from Toys’R’Us because I bought something off a baby registry, from Hanes.com because I bought Alan underwear online once, and from all sorts of fancy websites that I would never buy anything from.  I’ll keep a few clothing stores for their occasional coupon codes.  Hopefully this will simplify things.  And in a few years, when I’m (hopefully!) gainfully employed, maybe I’ll re-sign up.  Or not.  I hate junk mail.



Did you find a typo in the post?  Let me know here.