Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Tap, Tap, Tap... Is This Thing On?

Well hellooooooo again.

My name is Cathy, and it's been 5 months since my last post.  (Cue the AA "Hiiiiii, Cathy....").  I've got to tell you, I'm not going to apologize for neglecting my blog.  Life happens.  And boy, has LIFE certainly happened in the past 5 months.

Landing in Boston

Let me catch you up to speed.  Last I left you, Jeremy and I got home to Boston, only to be welcomed by about 10 feet of snow, which was glorious.  Except not at all.  When we first moved back, we were staying with my in-laws while we looked for an apartment.  (The move happened sort of quickly, and we hadn't had time to find a place AND buy a car before we got back.)  Anyway, so my mother-in-law, Carol, who is easily one of the sweetest people I know, took us in while we looked and weathered the storm (quite literally.)

The End of an Era

Jeremy began his new job a week after we got back, and I immediately resumed working my job upon return.  It didn't take me long to realize that working from home really wasn't going to work for me.  Don't get me wrong.  Not having a commute is glorious.  But it's hard to feel motivated when you wear yoga pants to "work" every day, and you've got two cats meowing incessantly and walking across your keyboard until you give them attention.  Needless to say, I quickly began considering other career options in Boston.

Very soon thereafter, I was very fortunate to be offered a really amazing job as a Marketing Manager at a Digital Marketing firm.  I accepted their offer and left my travel position behind.  I'll always be grateful for my job in travel because it afforded me and Jeremy a fantastic opportunity to see one of the most beautiful places in the world, and it really taught me a lot about in-house marketing.

My Job Now

So, as I've said, I now work for a digital marketing agency, and I really am loving it.  Some days are better than others, and frankly, I cannot vomit rainbows every day.  But I work with some truly amazing, hilarious, talented, brilliant people, and I feel honestly lucky to work in such a fun office.  While I absolutely miss the fantastic perks that come with working in travel (*Cough*Trips to Tahiti*Cough*), I have to say that working for an agency is so much more... me.  The days fly by.   I like coming to work and not having to market the same thing every day.  I enjoy the variety, the client relationship management, and having a team behind me that has varying levels of expertise in all sorts of technical mumbo jumbo that make anyone's head spin.

In short, things with my job are going well.

Our New Place

The day before my birthday (I'm 27 now...eesh...), we moved into a gorgeous apartment in Waltham (about 20 minutes outside of Boston.)  We live in a townhome community, and our apartment faces west, overlooking a pretty lake.  We set up a cat tree in front of our big window, so Annie and Tessie can climb up there, nap, and look at the lake and birds.  We absolutely love our new place, got brand new furniture (my favorite part is the acacia dining room table!), and are FINALLY now fully settled in.  We've even got a washer/dryer in unit for the very first time, and let me tell you, we do a lot of laundry now.

We're really happy with it, and Annie and Tessie agree.  We've pretty much decided that until we buy a place, we're going to try really hard not to move anywhere else.  Haha...but seriously.

Our Lives Otherwise

Aside from the hubbub of moving, getting new furniture, and new jobs, things are very much the same.  We've seen my dad a few times, which has been really nice.  We've gotten to see our friends here and there, but not as much as we'd like.  (We both work a ton.)  But we're working on making a point to socialize more.  BFF got married, and was the most stunning bride I have ever seen.  I cried my way through the toast at her wedding, and had so much fun.  I went to an improv comedy show with my friend Alex, and we recently went wine painting (SO MUCH FUN).  So that's check, check, and check off my 101 in 1001.  We're working on going to Vegas for Jeremy's 30th birthday.  (So hopefully another check there.)

In general, we're just enjoying life.  Finally feeling settled in.  Trying to enjoy our summer when we're not working and running around.  And...yep.  That's what's been up with us, in a concise nutshell.

I will try to post more, though no promises.  I honestly have really missed blogging.  Hoping you are well, dear reader.



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Eagle has Landed...In a Snowbank

Long time, no write.

To say that the past few weeks have been busy and stressful would be a major understatement.  I'm not going to lie, you come to expect that when a cross country move is on the horizon.  What I did not expect was to get to Boston and spend the better part of two weeks snowed in.

We officially moved to Boston on January 24th, and the drive out was uneventful.  We made pretty decent time, the cats meowed incessantly in rebellion, we ate a lot of fast food at truck stops, and we spent one harrowing night at a little hotel on the side of a highway that is the epitome of "place you go to get murdered."  Thank God Jeremy was with me!  No way I could stay there alone!

Once we got back, it was a lot of the usual.  Unpacking, trying desperately to get organized, dealing with two grouchy cats that softened up with copious amounts of treats and apologies, and getting prepared to work from home. 

And then came the snow.

Mountains upon mountains of snow.  And just when we'd finished shoveling out, and had one day of being able to leave the house, more would come.  Where we are, we've gotten around 5 feet (yes, FEET) of snow in the past 2 weeks.  It's been completely insane.  Is there any water left in the Atlantic?  Is this God's way of reenacting Noah's Arc except with snow?  I couldn't tell you.  What I can tell you is that it is a sad, SAD day when the weather in New England makes the weather in Chicago look enviable.

So, here we are.  Back in Boston and really looking forward to when we can leave our house every day for an entire week...after all, there is so much in this city that we miss and can't wait to revisit!

With the warmest thoughts (pun definitely intended),


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Closing the Book on Chicago

The end is near.  As I sit among boxes, packing tape, and a stack of important papers that can't be lost in the ruckus, I am reminded of a sobering fact:  My days in Chicago are numbered.

Moving across state lines is not a new experience for me.  The product of divorced parents who happen to live in different states, I've been down this road before.  First in childhood, then in adolescence, then for college, and finally for the biggest trek of all, out to Chicago. Despite my experience with it, moving has always been tough for me.  Perhaps it's because my first interstate move, as a child, was a forced move that I had no control in or say over.  Perhaps it's because I tend to associate memories with places as well as with people.  Perhaps it's because the unknown is scary.  This time, I think it's because as much as I'm looking forward to what lies ahead, I feel so sad about the people I'm leaving behind.

To say that my time in Chicago has been a mixed bag would be a huge understatement. The last year and a half has been riddled with health issues, loneliness, the challenges of being in an unfamiliar environment, and familial upheaval.  And at the same time, I can honestly say that my time in Chicago has made my marriage stronger than ever before.  It's made me reevaluate, and in some cases change, my priorities and beliefs.  It's been fantastic for both my and Jeremy's careers.  Through my job, it's enabled me to travel to the most beautiful place I've ever seen.  And it's exposed me to a few truly amazing people, whom I can now call my friends.  The fact that I can look back on this period of my life and see such personal, professional, and marital growth means that no matter what else has happened, my time here has been a success.

It's been an adventure.  That's for sure.  I'm so glad for this experience, and I can't wait for what the future holds.  See ya on the other side.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

How I Got Mascara for $0.49 and Other CVS Couponing Gems

Happy Saturday!

Since it's absolutely frigid in Chiberia Chicago, I'm having a pretty uneventful day.  Jeremy and I slept in, went to one of our favorite breakfast places for some indulgent pancakes, and went to CVS before heading home to watch the Patriots game.  (Meaning we're snuggled up under our favorite blanket, he's watching the game, and I'm blogging.)

So, now you're likely wondering why the CVS run, and whether I've gotten so old that the one of the highlights of my weekend involves a trip to the local pharmacy.  Well, sadly, it does, and here's why:  They were having some crazy good deals.  I had some crazy good coupons, and the marriage of the two resulted in me getting a lot of awesome household stuff for very little money.  I literally giggled on my way out, as it almost felt like stealing.

Just a few of the goodies I snagged at CVS today

So, let me tell you about some of the deals I got.  I'll start with the Ricola cough drops, which were originally $3.19 each.  CVS had them on sale today for 2/$3, making them $1.50 each.  I combined the sale with a $1 off of 2 manufacturer's coupon that I had, which made the cough drops $1 each.

Next, I got two large bottles of Tresemme Shampoo, which originally retailed for $4.99 each.  CVS had them on sale for 2/$8 (or $4 each.)  I had two manufacturers coupons for $2 off each bottle, making them $2 each.

Jeremy wanted some Balance bars, which are great snacks (or meal replacements) on the go.  Originally they were $1.87 each.  CVS had them on sale for Buy 1, Get 1 50% off, making them about $2.80 for two.  We had a manufacturer's coupon for $1 off two bars, so we ended up spending just 90 cents per bar.

Next, we got a super amazing, but sort of complicated, deal on Gummy Vitamins, Aleve, and One A Day Men's Vitamins.  Let me do them one at a time.  The Gummy Vitamins were originally $9.49 and were on sale for $7.  Then we got the Aleve at retail price for $10.99.  We had a manufacturer's coupon for $3 off of it, bringing its price down to $7.99.  There was a Buy 1 Get 1 50% off offer bundled with the Aleve and the OAD vitamins for Men.  So the OAD vitamins, which retailed for $7.99, were $3.99.  We had a $3 manufacturer's coupon for the OAD vitamins, lowering the price further to $0.99.

THEN we had a coupon for $10 off all three of those products (Gummy Vitamins, the Aleve, and the OAD vitamins.)    So at this point, we paid $7 for the gummy vitamins, $7.99 for the Aleve, and $0.99 for the OAD vitamins, which totaled $15.98.  The $10 off coupon made all three items $5.98.  And if that wasn't enough, we then had the purchase of all three items generate $6 worth of Extra Bucks, meaning we made two cents on the three items.  Not kidding.

Finally, let me tell you about my favorite deal of the day.  It was on some Maybelline LashSational mascara, which is the newest mascara in their line.  Originally, the mascara retailed for $7.99 each.  CVS had a Buy 1 Get 1 50% off Sale on Maybelline products.  I bought two mascaras, so one mascara was $7.99 and the other was $3.99.  Together they totaled $11.98.  I then had some manufacturer's coupons for $3 off each mascara.  This lowered the total to $5.98.  The sale generated an additional $5 in Extra Bucks, meaning the two mascaras cost me $0.98, or $0.49 each.

Needless to say, I am continuing to shamelessly hoard mascara in my vanity.  And I'm not sorry.  My purchases today reignited my love of couponing, and got me excited for all of the great deals still to come!

What have you saved crazy money on recently?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: A Year in Review

Well, now that it's New Year's Eve, I suppose I should post the obligatory year in review.  For me, 2014 has been a really mixed bag of great things and awful things.  It's been a year in which I've regularly felt sad, scared, lonely, proud of myself, excited, and loved.  I know, what a mixed bag of emotions.  What can I say?


Some of the definite highlights of my year include:
  • My best friend's engagement, and going wedding dress shopping with her at Kleinfeld
  • Reconnecting with old friends and making a few great new ones
  • Visiting some girlfriends in DC and touring the Capital building
  • Going to some really fun and gorgeous weddings over the summer
  • Launching my company's new website
  • Traveling to French Polynesia with Jeremy
Yes, we really stayed there.

I've also dealt with a lot of challenges this year, and those have weighed on me heavily.  I'm going to focus on the positive right now, but I think not acknowledging that I've been dealing with challenges would be phony.  It's so easy to paint the picture of a perfect life on Facebook, Instagram, or a blog, but I'm not going to do that.  I'm going to keep it real and say that 2014 has been a bitch of a year in a lot of ways, and I'm glad it's over.  I'd also like to thank the people who have loved and supported me through it all, especially Jeremy whose love, kindness, and commitment has never wavered. 

In 2015, I'm looking forward to moving back to Boston and being close to so many people who are a support system for me.  I'm looking forward to being the Matron of Honor in my best friend's wedding.  I'm looking forward to paying off all of our debt (minus the new car payment).  I'm looking forward to driving said new car.  And I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds.

Until then, cheers to a happy, healthy, and safe New Year!



Sunday, December 28, 2014

Car Buying - Tips and Tricks

We finally did it!  After several years of big city living, in which we regularly rode the subway, walked, and occasionally opted for a ZipCar, Jeremy and I finally bought a car of our very own.

Since we're moving back to the Boston area, we had to have some very real conversations about where we'd live and how we'd commute.  While living in a city is great in that you don't need a car, we're getting to the point that living in the middle of a large city isn't for us anymore.  It's great to be within walking distance of the grocery store, shopping, and subways, but city living can be very expensive.  And you typically don't get a lot of space for that money.  While we haven't decided exactly where in the Boston area we'll live, we do know that we'll want more space.  I think it's a safe bet to say that we won't be living right down town, and having a car will be a good idea.

While we were home for the holidays, Jeremy and I did some car shopping, and ultimately decided to buy a VW Passat TDI.  (If you don't speak Car & Driver, like me, that means it runs on diesel instead of gasoline.)  We're really happy with that decision, since our car will get around 40 miles per gallon.  Aside from that, our car has some nice leather interior, a moonroof, roomy interiors, and an absurd amount of trunk space.  (I think this might mean shopping trips are in order!)

After having visited many car dealerships prior to our purchase, I've compiled some car buying tips for any of you who might be car shopping.

  1. Know your budget.  First, unless you can afford to buy a car outright (ie. have no car payment), you're going to need to figure out how much you can afford for a car payment.  Make sure that before you arrive at this number, you've factored in a car payment, car insurance, parking fees, excise taxes, tolls, warranty payments, and fuel costs.  
  2. Do some math.  Now that you know how much you can afford for a car payment, you can figure out the general price range you're looking in.  Be mindful that you can stretch out a car loan as long or as short as you want.  In general, I think most financially savvy people would agree that if you cannot pay off your car within 60 months maximum, you can not afford the car.
  3. Know what kind of features are important to you.   Everyone has different priorities.  For me, I cared about getting a car with great fuel efficiency, strong resell value, spacious interiors, and great safety ratings.  To be honest, I also really wanted a car with all-wheel drive for New England winters, but I wasn't spending the money on an Audi A6, the Audi A4 was too small, I wasn't going to pay for a Mercedes or a BMW, I didn't trust the Subaru salesman as far as I could throw him, and I didn't want a gas guzzling SUV.  So, I compromised on that one.  What's important is to know what matters to YOU and what you're willing to compromise on.
  4. Go to a reputable dealership, and bail if something seems fishy to you.  This is so important.  Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with a strong moral compass, particularly in the business world.  Trust your gut.  If you're seeing or hearing things that are concerning, do business with someone else that you can trust.  When shopping, Jeremy and I strongly considered Subarus.  They're among the only non-luxury sedans that come with all-wheel drive, and they're generally regarded as safe, dependable cars.  However, when we went to the dealership, we were really disturbed by what we saw.  The salesman didn't ask us any of the proper questions (what are you looking for, why do you need a new car, when do you need the car, what's important to you, etc.)  What few questions he did ask (like "What is your budget"), he directed at Jeremy only.  Whenever I spoke, he rudely cut me off.  He bragged endlessly about how fantastic of a salesman he was, that he drove a BMW, and that the dealership sold more than 10 cars per day.  He had almost no inventory to show us, and except for a used car that had not yet passed safety inspections, he did not show us the interiors of any car.  He then demanded we put down a deposit on a car.  (He didn't seem to care if the deposit was for the used car that we did not test drive or a car that we saw from the outside only.)  When we told him we were not comfortable doing that, he dismissed us as not being serious about buying a car.  I've majorly digressed here, but my point is that if something feels wrong, walk away. 
  5. Make sure you know what your warranty covers.   And then decide whether or not you'd like to purchase an extended warranty.  Gap insurance is also a good idea if you're buying a new car.
  6. Negotiate.   Remember that you don't get 100% of all of the deals you don't try to negotiate.  See if the dealership is flexible on the price of the car or extended warranty.  Even if you negotiate $500 off the cost of the car, that's $500 in your pocket.  All they can say is no, and all you can say is that you tried.
Happy shopping!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

Hi and Happy Hump Day!

I have some rather large news, and now that everything is official, I can finally let the cat out of the bag... 

Sorry.  I couldn't help myself.  Anyway, Jeremy received a super exciting job offer to work for a company in Boston.  It's a really fantastic opportunity for his career, so after a lot of discussion, we agreed that he should absolutely take the opportunity.  So, we're moving back to Boston at the end of January!  We're both really excited.

Until then, we've got so much to do, including packing up our home in Chicago, buying a car (or two), doing all of the things in Chicago that we've never gotten around to doing, and celebrating the holidays.  It's going to be an insanely busy next 5-6 weeks, but we're glad to be going home to the East Coast.

So glad I can finally share the news with you all.  Stay tuned for the updates on this insanity!