Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Day of 2014

Our 2014 is wrapping up in the airport today, as we head back to Austin after a great visit to Connecticut. We had a great Christmas and celebrated Brendan's 33rd birthday, plus saw lots of family and friends. 

Now, I'm reflecting on all the things that made 2014 special. The two big stand out events were building a house and traveling to Europe. The trip changed me in ways both big and small and was such an adventure. The house has been fun to watch and has given us much to dream about.

We were also lucky to visit Los Angeles for spring break with friends, Houston for work/to see Mimi, NYC for Doug and Maylin's wedding and seeing friends, CT for Brendan's dad's 60th and Christmas, Maine for Egan family vacation, Austin for family and work visits, Orlando for work (me), and Boston for Katie and Anthony's wedding. We enjoyed every trip and really weren't overwhelmed despite the busy schedule. We celebrated our first year of marriage this year in Amsterdam. My one thing I'd change for 2014 would be not ordering clams that gave me shellfish poisoning that night! 

We welcomed new babies Aubrey and Garrison to the family (my mom's side) and our friends Dagan and Stephanie had baby Violet. My cousin Amanda got engaged to her longtime love Matt, and we're so excited for their 2015 wedding.  

Work was crazy but productive, with the writing center making leaps and bounds, Brendan winning teacher of the year in our department and getting promoted to assistant professor, and me winning a Jerry Mills and Dalius award to present at a conference in Orlando. 

I definitely have personal goals in mind for 2015 (writing, financial, and fitness related), in addition to my professional goals, but the first priority of the year will definitely go to moving (hopefully at the end of next month). If 2015 is anything like 2014, I know it will go fast, so I hope to live very consciously and in the moment this year. 

Happy New Years dear friends! Our wish for you is peace, happiness, and health! 
<3 S&B (soon to reunite with L&Z)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Time is Here!

What a fabulous Christmas! 

We arrived in CT on the 23rd, a day later than expected, due to an airline delay, but we had a fabulous Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 

Christmas Eve, we visited with family at a Christmas party and went to midnight mass. Christmas Day, we opened our packages and Bren's parents made a lovely dinner! 

Today, bren's mom treated his grandma, sister, and I to Royal high tea at the Bee and Thistle in Old Lyme

Tonight, we're going to see Bren's friends, and tomorrow is Bren's birthday...never a dull moment! Merry Christmas to you and yours!
<3 all the Egans 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The First Week of Winter Break

A break from work has been much needed and much appreciated. Since a whole week has gone by, here is a bullet list of the things that have happened so far:
  • As usual, I have my winter break sickness: a sinus headache Sunday turned into a sore throat Monday and progressed to a cold on Wednesday. I'm still stuck with it. Yuck! 
  • We saw a musical production of A Christmas Story in Midland. It was pretty cute! 
  • I watched all of season three of American Horror Story: Coven. I also watched Indecent Proposal and Basic Instinct. Don't ask why. Brendan played a lot of computer games. Safe to say, we needed a break from productivity. 
  • I finished out the fall session of my yoga class. I'm getting pretty darn good at forearm stand and hand stand, and even making progress in the dreaded head stand. My forte is still the hollow back. I like tree pose and all the warrior poses. 
  • We drove with Lola and Zoe to Austin on Thursday. That same day, our new house got a driveway and sidewalk. 
  • Lola and Zoe took a trip to the vet yesterday for a rabies vaccination. They did not enjoy it. I did not enjoy the bill we received for afterwards! They were angelic last night and slept at the foot of our bed...I swear, they are different cats in Austin! 
  • We hosted the annual Austin Christmas party early this year, and it was a big success. We had twenty people here last night, a BBQ dinner, and way too many desserts. Brendan spent most of the day yesterday making a trifle, which everyone loved. We were up with company until one in the morning. 
  • Our tiny tree is overloaded with presents, and it's quite a sight! 
  • I got my hair done today, and we also finished our Christmas shopping today. Woo-hoo! 
  • I won my first every game of ticket to ride by six points! I feel so fulfilled. 
  • Tonight, I see Corley and Cole, tomorrow is fake Christmas (early Christmas with my family) and my 10 year reunion (part 2), and the countdown to Connecticut is at two days. There is so much to look forward to. 

Brendan's trifle

Angelic (for once) cats
New hair and ticket to ride victory! 
New driveway
Too many presents? 
We need prayers for Brendan's grandfather who is in the hospital and my aunt Sally who is recovering from surgery. 

Happy winter! We hope you're already winter breaking! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Building a House Month 8.5: Floors, Counters & Fixtures

When we last left off in our house posts, our home was half bricked, had crown molding, baseboards, and some interior doors. On December 6th, we pulled up to our home with the brick 100% completed.

Home sweet home, December 6, 2014

Much to my delight, progress was very underway on the neighbor's home. Living right next to a home under construction isn't exactly my cup of tea, so the more progress they make on this place before we move in, the better (the neighbors on the right have moved in already).

We saw that the tile had just been laid, so we couldn't actually walk inside the house. I could see the granite countertops in the distance. So close, yet so far away.

View from garage 

View from backdoor 
I still just love the brick color we picked.

Since we couldn't go in, it was a short visit, but it was a different story today.

We immediately noticed that progress to the pool and splash area had been made:

When we purchased our lot, I wanted it within a comfortable walking distance to the pool area. We are about 1.5 blocks away. While we may or may not have kids while in this house, we knew it would be attractive to a future buyer. Plus, I plan to use the pool myself!

We drove to our house, and couldn't wait to take a peek inside:

December 13, 2014
However, we encountered a minor road block:

It was locked! We had to go to the office and have our sales representative come unlock it for us. We immediately noticed more doors and some fixtures were installed. And since the tile had grout, we could walk on it.

View from entry

Dining Room 
In the kitchen, I was finally able to see the granite countertops in person, and they had done the backsplash! I really, really like all of our selections. It was so cool to finally see everything together.

We also noticed more of the lighting in.

 The living room had its ceiling fan.

As did our room and the other two rooms: 

One of the other two rooms (they are identical). 

In our bathroom, there was a lot of progress: 

Hello double sink! 

Hello jetted tub! 

Hello not yet tiled shower! 

The other bathroom seemed even further along:

Half tiled second bathroom 
In the backyard, we had dirt.

We mentioned to the sales rep that our real estate agent had confirmed a closing for January 12th; however, the sales rep had emails showing a closing date of January 28th, which she seemed to think was accurate before seeing the house. After seeing the house though, she said our home was further ahead of some that were supposed to close before January 28th, so, we're not sure what that means for our closing date. We do have our rate "locked in" until something like February 9th, and I made sure to mention to the sales rep that we wanted the house closed on before we lost the rate. She seemed to think January 28th was totally doable.We would be totally fine with either date, but fingers crossed, it will be in January.

This was likely our last visit until we return from winter break travels in January. It will be exciting to see what is accomplished in the next three weeks when we get back.

Here's to home sweet home!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Finals and Finalized

Alright! I'm officially writing from the other side of the Fall 2014 semester, which ended this morning when Brendan and I submitted our grades and grade books. Boy does it feel GOOD to be done. I am REALLY proud of all that we accomplished this semester. New numbers in the writing center where I've been doing tutor coordinating show student usage up 66% this semester from where it was the fall before I started. We saw 5,753 students this semester, and we tutored about 100 a week.

Here are the numbers that mean the very most to me: of my developmental writing students, 79% passed the developmental writing course and moved into credit level English with me halfway through the semester. Of those students, 80% passed credit level English 1301 with a C or higher (and 67% made a B or higher!). I feel darn good about THAT.

After we turned in grades, we went to a party at school to celebrate the semester ending with the English Honor Society that we both advise. We had 9 students come and hang out, which was really fun and sweet.

Then, it was time to finalize something else: our home loan.

We locked in our interest rate at 4.125% and found out that our loan payment, taxes, and homeowner's insurance payment will be $4.00 less per month than what we are currently paying for rent at this apartment. I knew buying a house was a financially wise decision, but I was pleasantly surprised at how affordable it will really be. Our lender said our payments will only be 19% of our take home pay (she said most people use about 28% or higher of take home pay), and she said considering our credit scores and savings, we were "dream buyers." That made us feel good. When we started saving in October of 2012, we had set goals, and I'm really proud that we even surpassed those goals. Back then, we were just trying to build an emergency fund, with at least six months of living expenses, and we waited to buy a house until we could do so without depleting the emergency fund (of course, it helped that they needed 9 months to get it built!)

So, the final grades are submitted, the homeowner's insurance is acquired, the interest rate for our loan is locked in, and now, all there is to do is enjoy the next 3.5 weeks of vacation. I know it's going to fly by (it always does), but I have a long list of things I'm looking forward to doing (and it doesn't include packing). Rest and relaxation, here I come!

Here's to getting all the checks off the list,


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December 2014 Stitch Fix Review: The Best One Yet!

I was so excited to get home from work today and open my fifth ever Stitch Fix! For those of you that have no idea what I'm talking about, Stitch Fix is a styling service for women. Check out my initial review of my first fix here. I've had mixed "luck" with my past fixes. Each month, five items are sent.
In February, I kept two items, in March, I kept two items, in April, I kept zero items, and in May, I kept two items. I took a break from June to November from getting fixes, and in that time, Stitch Fix has clearly made some BIG improvements to their services. For one, they ask more detailed sizing questions, and for two, they keep a record of your notes to your stylist and even give you a chance to revise your requests before your stylist puts together your box. I think these additions led to a better fix.

Here is this month's note to my stylist:

I really would like some colored jeans. The same brand and fit that I received in my March box would be lovely. I'd like colorful sweaters and cardigans. I want all winter clothes. Please NO jewelry or accessories and JUST clothes. Thank you :)

I always make sure to specify the no accessories part, because they do carry bags, jewelry, scarves, etc.. I've never had problems finding accessories, and my mother-in-law owns a shop where she sells amazing jewelry, so for me, the focus is all on clothes. I like that Stitch Fix is customizable.

So, without further ado, here's my fix:
Side note: asking for all winter clothes leads to the heaviest stitch fix package ever.

Up first was the Dita Colorblock Sleeveless Ponte Dress.

Oh how I love this dress! Let me count the ways: 1.) It is surprisingly thick and warm, 2.) It is obviously of high quality, 3.) It is flattering, 4.) It is conservative enough to wear to work, and 5.) I don't own anything quite like this. #1 was a keeper for sure!

Up next, the Adora Ankle Length Skinny Jean and the Genie Colorblock & Striped Sweater.

My stylist left me a note that there were no petite colored jeans right now, so she was sending me dark grey. That was actually fine by me. I have light grey jeans, but no dark grey ones. At first, when I saw the jeans were a size 27 and not my normal 28, I was really disappointed. I thought they wouldn't fit, and these jeans are basically the reason that I ordered a fix. But, to my great happiness, the jeans fit PERFECTLY. Not only that, but they are amazingly comfortable. As a child, I refused to wear jeans. I bought my first pair in the fifth grade when I had to wear them for a play. I remember hating them the entire time. Needless to say, as an adult, I am so picky about jeans, and I hate shopping for them. To have jeans sent to my door that fit like a charm and are comfortable is worth so much to me. #2 item was a Stitch Fix win!

About that sweater is expensive ($68) and really just doesn't "wow" me enough to justify that price. It is comfortable, but I think item #3 will be a return for me.

Oh well, I was 2 out of 3, so on to #4, the Armando Geo Knit Sweater:

Out of the box, I was worried this was going to be very boxy and unflattering. Even after putting it on, I thought, well this is either the best sweater or the worst, and I'm not sure which! But honestly, I think I really like it. Though I'm normally not a fan of 3/4 quarter sleeves, I like them here. Plus, the sweater is right for the price ($34). I can see myself wearing it for fun or teaching, so I think it will get a lot of use and be a good value. #4 is a keep!

Onto the last item, the Layla Twin Stripe & Elbow Patch Cardigan:

Stitch Fix kind of has an obsession with these oversized cardigans, and I think I'm going to have to request to nix them all from my future fixes. Being short, I feel these long cardigans drown me out. This was super cozy though...if only I could justify the price just to wear it as a house robe! 

But alas, I'm not buying a $48 house robe. So #5 will be a return.

The one "bummer" here is that the two items I do not want are valued at $116, but there is a 25% discount on everything if you keep all five items, which means the difference in keeping or not keeping the two things I don't want is only $42. Does anyone want a long cardigan (S) and a fuzzy sweater (M) for their 25% off prices ($87 for both)...speak soon; I have to check out with Stitch Fix shortly!

Anyway, now that I've selected my items, I will fill out a survey with my opinions, which will help my stylist in the future (can I keep Angela?!), pay for my items, and return the items that I don't want for free in the pre-paid envelope.

Do you want new clothes without the hassle of actually shopping for them? Try Stitch Fix through my referral link, and I will earn a $25 credit towards the purchase of future fixes. Thank you in advance!

Do you think my choices were spot on? If you were in my shoes, what would you keep, and what would you return?

Tell us in the comments!


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