Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Skydiving Slowly Into Homeownership

I have been looking at houses in Florida for a year and a half. At first I was super optimistic and thought I could get a steal if I did enough research.  Five offers later, I've raised my budget and lowered my standards.  Not that they were so crazy high to begin with - I made my first offer after the first weekend of looking. But I digress.

I found a house I am strongly considering bidding on. It's small. Much smaller than I originally thought I'd buy, since this is an investment property I want to rent out. And it's a good 20k above my original budget. But the current owners are in the process of fully renovating it, so everything is new. New floors, new kitchen, new bathroom. New windows even. So if I rent it to somebody, I probably won't have to worry about a bunch of repairs right away. It will be ready to go.

So I think I'll probably make an offer. Which, even though it would be my 6th (I think? 5th?) is still scary. It's scary every time. Because I'm putting my entire life savings into an investment, hoping the market will continue to grow, hoping I can get renters, hoping they will be willing to pay what I need to make, hoping they won't trash the place or refuse to pay their rent, hoping, hoping, hoping. I think it's a pretty good area right now to buy in, or I wouldn't be doing this, but .... scary.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Green Bay Baller

My family doesn't understand me, clearly. My sister received a Packers jersey for Christmas while I got regular clothing and makeup. Which may be one in a continuing series of hints to up my game (my own grandmother said I dressed dowdy). However, I will continue to ignore those hints and watch today's game in pjs as the good lord intended.  I've avoided being stylish for the first 32 years of my life, might as well continue the trend.

Luckily for everyone, we've clinched our playoff spot this year. This is a relief because we went from dominating at the beginning of the season to crawling towards the finish. Rodger's crazy Hail Mary pass notwithstanding.  We robbed ourselves out of a Super Bowl trip last year, with the help of the Seahawks, so I'm really hoping we can get it together this year rather than taking a nap mid game. I mean, the Vikings even won against us this pre-season.  The VIKINGS.

So, I will be enjoying a nice cold Packers beer while watching the Arizona game.  Where we will kick their ass, secure in the knowledge that it's a bonus win.

Edited to add:

Fuck that. That game was painful. We didn't necessarily NEED to win, but neither did we need to stink the place up. Worst game I've ever seen. I have PTSD from that game.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Blue Cheese Yorkshire Pudding Popups

I was bored yesterday so I made blue cheese Yorkshire pudding. I was going to take a picture for this blog but I ate them all instead.  Hopefully that is enough of an endorsement.  The recipe can be found here

I used butter instead of drippings (if only I had prime rib at my disposal). And I would recommend putting in a little extra salt, since my first batch was a little bland. And also letting them cook fully, as my first batch was also less crispy then they should be because I was hungry and impatient.  But overall, a successfull effort and cheap to make.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Post Exercise Bloat

Why is it whenever I exercise I actually gain a pound or two in the days immediately afterwards? And feel more bloated? After eating my way through Europe in November and knowing that I'm going to be pigging out come Christmas, I would really like to preemptively lose a pound or two. Yeah it's vain. I don't care.

I mean, on the plus side I'm very proud of myself for lurching my way through a 2.7 mile jog. That is quite the accomplishment for someone with a resting heart rate in the 90s. I'm not proud of it, but I've coasted through life on a decent metabolism and so have let myself get totally unfit in any kind of practical way. And then today, after that weekend jog, I walked another 4 miles or so. Again, not so much out of any kind of virtue as that my subway card was empty and I didn't feel like refilling it.

So why is my body punishing me for attempting to make it healthy? Google claims the culprit must be compensatory eating, which certainly makes more sense than my body actively plotting against me, but I really don't think I'm eating more (mainly because I'm too lazy to cook - I already went for a run! Now I have to cook?) so all I can theorize is that my body is shutting down from shock and it's causing me to retain water.

This is just reinforcing my belief that exercise is bad.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Internet Created ADD

I never felt like I had difficulty concentrating when I was younger, but the older I get the more I bounce around from one "task" (is reading a website a task?) to the next every five minutes. I'll have six tabs open and it will take me an hour to write an email because I have to watch that Youtube video or read that one article or write an indignant follow up to that one stupid comment on that one blog or....whatever. Seriously.

Like, I read the Hobbit when I was 8 years old no problem and have basically spent my childhood in unmoving absorption of either a book or a movie, but I can't have a conversation on the telephone without doing five other things at the same time.  Focusing on a book in the subway for an hour is easy-peazy but focusing on sending one goddamn resume out takes multiple cups of coffees and several internet breaks. What gives?  I'm writing this blog post in order to avoid writing another email I'm trying to finish.  Can someone have adult onset ADD? Internet caused ADD? Help!

Musings Of A Single Lady

I've been single so long I'm looking forward to Sheldon and Amy getting laid in the Big Bang Theory. Sad. For me, not them. They've earned it.

Not that there aren't opportunities. New York isn't exactly a chaste and modest city. But as someone who is half convinced everyone is a serial killer with AIDS until they can prove otherwise, I'm not particularly good at one night stands. Plus, super awkward aftermath even in the best of non-serial killer scenarios.  I'm thinking the only way I manage to calm my own distrust of humanity enough to fall into a relationship again is some kind of airplane crash/survival hike scenario where it's me and some (hopefully non-serial killer) man battling nature for our lives. And maybe, MAYBE, if the guy is able to bring me enough berries and nuts and stuff, we can go steady.

Also, I'd really like it if he were tall. Not to be picky. But I'm short and I think the same way men apparently subconsciously go for certain hip-to-waist ratios, I go for certain heights in order to improve my own gene pool. 

In other news, here are my cats. They are adorable. They will be the ones that eat me after I die.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Keeping Busy Between Projects

As a freelancer, I am either working like a crazy person or on complete budgetary lockdown in between projects. Or, you know, on awesome post-project vacations (more on that later), but that is rarer.  I'm KNOW I'm not the only one who finds themselves at loose ends with not enough money and too much time, and I can't complain too much. There are a lot of people with not enough time or money, and I'm lucky I'm able to save enough during the busy times to get me through the lean.  It still drives me kind of nuts though - I hate sitting around, and sending out resumes into the void is necessary but frustrating.

So I'm going to try to document my fun-employment here a bit, both to keep myself sane and to maybe give and receive some ideas from readers who have gone through the same. New York has great options for free events, including free workout classes and museums. I'm thinking of joining a writing group and maybe a language meet up as well. The biggest expense there will be the metro swipe, which even then can add up but the only alternative is total hibernation.

So what are some things you all do to get through lean and boring periods? What are some ways of making extra money during the slow times? Surveys? Focus groups? Catering? I'm signing up for them all - stay tuned for how it's going!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Hunting for Cheap Airfare to and within Europe

Ok. Rarely can I say that I have knowledge to pass on, but I'm feeling confident about this one. At least if you're an American - Europeans, you probably know all this plus another 5 airlines I haven't heard of. But, for those among you who don't live in Europe, let me tell you how very very cheap it is to fly within Europe. It costs less than a train ticket. It costs less than a tank of gas. In fact, they come very near to paying YOU for travel. The key is buying tickets early - last minute tickets are almost normal price, but if you pre-plan a bit you can get crazy deals.

For example, I got a ticket from one country in Europe to another just this month for about $16 American dollars. An almost 3 hour flight, for less than what the cost of US minimum wage would be if the airplane was a fast food worker. So cheap.  I've put together a short list below of the discount airlines I know about (I almost wrote bare bottom price airlines, but then began to doubt whether that was actually a saying - it sounds wrong, right?).

Ryan Air: This one is Scottish and I've flown it a bunch of times. Like all the other airlines on this list you pay for food, drink, checked luggage and even for printing a boarding pass at the airport. But as long as you can get everything into a carryon bag and you have a printer at home, it is very very cheap.

EasyJet: See above. Except I'm not sure if they charge you for boarding passes - wouldn't surprise me though. Still, cheap and easy.

WizzAir: This is one where I think they maybe should have done a little more work on the name, since it makes me think of nothing more than peeing. However, that aside, it is the source of my magical $16 ticket so, again, very cheap. Double check your carryon though - it has VERY small carry on limits, even smaller than Ryanair or Easyjet and I ended up paying to check a bag. Also, they  will actively try to sell you things like lottery tickets on the flight. If you can ignore that, go for it.

Norwegian Air : If you fly from a major city like New York or Miami, you can get very cheap tickets to Europe on this airline. I bought a one way ticket to Oslo for $179.  There were tickets even cheaper than that. They fly to several European hubs, including London, but for that bare bottom (I'm going for it - I'm hoping it's a real expression) price you don't get a checked bag or food on the flight. I bought a sandwich and bottle of water at the airport to bring with me, and used a large carry on instead. Worth it. Even if you do end up paying for a checked bag, it's still a good price.