An Improved Guest Room

One way I’d like to grow Wednesday & Wine this year is by sharing the updates we’ve done to our home. Mr. E and I rent a townhouse that we absolutely love, and plan on staying here for a few more years. It has more than enough space for the two of us and the cats, and if we decide to start a family it will still meet our needs (we hope). Since we rent, we can’t make too many cosmetic changes, which can limit how rooms look. As much as I hate the way my kitchen looks, I can’t change it, and so I’m stuck with it for now. But that’s okay.

Our townhouse has two bedrooms, and since we aren’t planning on having kids for a while we decided to convert our second bedroom to a guestroom. We often have friends or family staying with us, and they needed a space to sleep where Jack and Wednesday wouldn’t bother them. The room is small compared to our overly large master bedroom, but there’s plenty of space for a bed, night table, and dresser.

Of course, Mr. E and I moved into our townhouse in late August, and planned to be married in mid-May of the next year. During that time period, the guest room was less of a guest room and more of a place to stash wedding stuff out of the way of Wednesday and Jack. In fact, up until this past summer, the room looked like this:

Yep, that’s a mishmash of wedding planning stuff and gifts galore that we hadn’t yet gone through. And Wednesday, who wasn’t supposed to be in there. So welcoming, right?

When Mr. E and I decided to upgrade our bed, we realized we needed to go through the stuff in our “guest room” to make it more inviting for guests (and so that we could fit our old queen bed in there!) It didn’t take long to go through what was leftover from wedding planning and we had already started opening (and using) our wedding gifts. What we weren’t using or didn’t have storage for went into the closet. Our new bed was delivered and Mr. E moved our old one into the guest room, and suddenly we felt much more established!

Here’s how our guestroom looks right now:

Obviously, the pictures I hung up are a bit too small for the wall space, but they’ll have to do for now. I need to order blinds and curtains; in the spring and summer our backyard is private, but when the leaves come off the trees you can see straight into the factory warehouse right behind us. The window also faces east, which means guests can be woken up fairly early depending on what time sunrise is that morning. The good news is that the lack of furniture in the room means that we can slide the bed towards the window and fit a queen sized air mattress on the ground. My friends stayed over in October and they all miraculously fit in this room!

I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on my inspiration for this room. While I love a lot of color in the rest of my house, I want my guest room to feel calm and relaxing. It also needs to accommodate various types of guests, from my mother in law to my best friends from college, to possibly even a little baby girl. While perusing Pinterest I was drawn to the rooms which looked like this:

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I am in love with those window shades and that wrought iron bed. Obviously the bedframe is a bit out of my budget right now, but those shades shouldn’t be. I also love the white on white bedding with small pops of color. I want to curl right up and take a nap!

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This room is plain, but I am a sucker for a 1920s Craftsman home. I actually love this entire house!

The timing of this post is…timely, as the One Room Challenge has recently started up again. My social media feeds are filled with photos of already beautiful spaces ready to be redone. Realistically, it would be impossible for me to complete this room in 6 weeks as the challenge rules dictate. It’s still the busy season at work, and Mr. E and I are on a serious budget. I’m hopeful that perhaps this summer I can devote some more time to this room. For now, I’ll continue to dream of what this room could one day become. Who knows, maybe I’ll link up for the ORC when it comes back this fall!

What do you want to do in your home?

March Comings and Goings

March is over! It’s finally spring! This year is flying!

I am in the midst of the busiest season at work, which is why this little blog of mine has been so sorely neglected lately. It’s been a steady stream of reports from January until now, and the meetings (for each report) started this month. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, however, and by the end of May Annual Review season will be complete and it’ll be smooth sailing until summer!

Until then, I’m keeping my head down and letting my fingers fly all over the keyboard. Gotta justify those services!

Of course, I didn’t spend a whole month doing absolutely nothing but work. Mr. E and I still managed to have quite a bit of fun.

Early in the month I attended my first fancy gala! Mr. E’s company works closely with the local chapter of the American Red Cross, and he and a coworker were invited to attend their Fire and Ice Gala as a result. The theme was (naturally) red and white, and I spent entirely too much time debating on what to wear. As it happened, I had a hair appointment that morning and my stylist set my hair in rollers so I would have bouncy curls for the evening. It felt a bit odd running errands at 10:30 in the morning with curlers in my hair, but the final results were worth it. The gala was held in downtown Rochester at the Wintergarden, which is a beautiful venue with wall to wall glass windows and a tall glass ceiling. There were twinkling lights everywhere, which really added to the aesthetic. I was really looking forward to my dinner at the event, as the company that owns the Wintergarden also runs the restaurant that we hosted our rehearsal dinner at! As expected, the food was absolutely amazing. Mr. E and I didn’t really know anyone there other than his coworker, Marti, but we still had a great time. It was nice to dress up and do something out of the ordinary for us.

 

Boldy rocking that red lip, something I am often too nervous to wear, but should more often!

 

 

The pictures I took do not do this room justice. 

The all glass ceiling at the Wintergarden.

 

 

I was glad we had a chance to go out and do something fun, because the next two weeks were some of the worst Rochester has seen weather-wise in a long time. First was a windstorm that blew 80mph winds and caused hundreds of thousands of homes to be without power for days. Then we barely had a chance to recover before a snowstorm dumped two feet of snow on us. I had two snow days, which was great (especially because Mr. E stayed home with me for the second as the roads were too bad) but it was a lot to handle all at once. I think everyone was grateful to see the first official day of spring a week later. I know I was!

The start of spring means it’s officially time for Spring Cleaning. Mr. E and I are hard at work cleaning our townhouse from top to bottom. We started with our room and it is so nice to go to bed in a completely clean room. We wiped up quite a bit of dust and cat fur! We’ve made a goal to clean out one room or area each weekend. We are also trying to clear out items we don’t need. There are still unpacked boxes from when we moved here 18 months ago. It’s time to go through it all and get rid of what we don’t want. Mr. E says we’re trying to be minimalists. He may be getting rid of stuff, but my shoes and makeup aren’t going anywhere!

Later in the month we had time for one more night out. Mr. E had free tickets to see Brass Transit over at Roberts Wesleyan College. Brass Transit is a Chicago cover band, and they were really good! Mr. E didn’t think the lead singer sounded like Peter Cetera, but I thought he was passable. Mr. E and I were by far the youngest people there (okay, I think there were a few preteens there with their parents and grandparents, but we were the youngest actual adults), but since we like Chicago we had a great time. I enjoyed watching all of the people around me watching the band play. They were all in their 60s and 70s, but as the band played I saw them all transported to the days of their youth, when Chicago was their favorite band and they played their albums on vinyl in their bedrooms. It makes me wonder if one day Mr. E and I will go see tribute bands for our favorite 90s artists.

 

 

 

It was a soggy end to the month, but I’m already looking ahead to the rest of April and the weather (finally) starting to turn around. I hate the snow, but I don’t love the rain. When you’re in and out of a car all day it’s hard not to feel drenched all of the time. Bring on the sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures! I’m excited to start planning my summer garden, and putting the finishing touches on our summer vacation. Mr. E and I have something else potentially in the works, and I’m looking forward to sharing that here soon. Until next time!

 

February Budget and Debt Repayment Progress

And just like that, another one bites the dust!

Another month, that is. Sadly I can’t say we dropped another loan in February. Rather, we gained one.

At the end of January and beginning of February, Mr. E finally found a new (to us) car that was in our budget and checked all of our boxes (all wheel drive, under 50k miles, etc.). We put 25% down and are financing the rest at a very good interest rate (it’s better than mine! We’re looking to switch my car over very soon). The first payment is due this month, and I’ve loaded the loan into our Mint account, where it stares me down every time I log in, which is every day.

I had wanted to add a graph to this post to illustrate the changes to our debt this month (since we did pay down a bit) but I realized as I was editing that I also added Mr. E’s student loan to our Mint account this month, which caused my nice, descending columns to spike up…way up. Maybe I’ll add a graph next month when things even out a bit more 🙂

Budget wise, here’s how we did for February:


 

Once again, our landlord has not cashed our rent check yet, but we did pay it! We were slightly over on eating out, and I broke down and purchased a few items I needed for work that I couldn’t put off any longer. I increased the budget for gas and we still went over, so I’ll have to allocate more money to that area for March. I was banking on not needing as much since I was off of work for the February break, and not driving as much as I usually do during the week. I am very pleased to announce that I came in under budget for groceries!! That was definitely something I worked at over the course of February, because I was determined to make it happen. Now I just need to continue this into March.

You’ll notice it looks like we spent a ton on travel this month (37% of our monthly spending). That right there is my girls’ weekend in Boston. Before everyone panics that I dropped that much money on a five day vacation, I should explain that more than half of that is the cost of our hotel rooms. I made the reservations with a friends and family rate and put it on my travel rewards card to get double points. Everyone reimbursed me in Boston, but of course Mint doesn’t know that.

I did remove Mr. E’s car purchase from our Mint budgets and trends, as it was making it difficult to see how February’s spending compares to January’s spending. We put a significant amount of money down on the car and financed the rest, but to get more points we charged it to our travel rewards card and then Mr. E paid it off right away with the cash we had on hand.

Everything else in the budget looks good. I had some impulse shopping a week before my vacation, but since I barely wore any of it in Boston it all went back to the store when I got home. It’s nice to see that even though I struggled with my spending freeze I still managed to stay close to where we should be. I did take the first weekend (okay, 2/28-3/6) to spend and purchase some items that I’ve been wanting or had run out of during the freeze, and I should be set now that I’m restarting it for the rest of March. I do have a few beauty items I need to replenish (dry shampoo immediately comes to mind…) but I have the cash to pay for it already. I’ve stopped using the rewards card for my personal purchases; I stopped after Boston. I was getting too used to the weight of that card in my hands (it is quite solid) and old feelings of living beyond my means were creeping back in. Since March is a three paycheck month for me, it seemed like the perfect time to reset my spending habits knowing that I’ll have a little wiggle room this month in case things don’t go to plan. I paid cash for my hair at the salon last week and still have money for the gas I’ll need for this next week, and then I get paid again on Friday. We will still put most joint purchases on the rewards card, as we pay out of our joint account for those items and we generally (with the exception of Christmastime, which was a spectacular fail) pay that off each month. I’m hopeful that my budget update at the end of March is a bit more positive!

 

 

 

 

 

Spending Freeze Wrap Up–February 2017

Let’s just say it didn’t go as planned.

I don’t even want to get into how many days I went without spending, because it wasn’t many. I had a long weekend vacation planned, and thought I would be okay if I (obviously) spent money on those days. I’m not even concerned about that spending. It’s all of the other incidental purchases that added up quickly.

Attempting a two month spending freeze for the first time isn’t easy. I did very well in January, and in February I started to lose steam. I was too comfortable and too confident. I left my planner in my car and stopped filling in the boxes when I didn’t spend money. Without that visual aid I lost motivation. I started to run out of items I needed, like moisturizers and ink cartridges. Once I walked into the store to purchase that item, magically other items appeared in my hands. Or, I decided that “just this once” I could grab a snack while I was driving for work. Twice I went to use a gift card at a coffee shop, only to find I had less than the total balance left, meaning I had to pay with my credit card.

And then, of course, going away meant purchasing new clothes. And a Kate Spade bag I’d been lusting after, because it was (finally!) on sale. And grabbing lunch while at the mall, because why not?

Although February’s freeze was a fail, I did learn quite a bit about my spending habits. I learned what I wouldn’t spend money on (speech supplies, Dollar Spot, home goods) and what I was actually more likely to spend money on (food). I knew I loved buying food out, but I didn’t realize how often I got food on my own (Mr. E and I continue to limit our eating out, but that’s a discussion for another day). This is definitely an area of my spending that I need to work on. While I did buy a couple of clothing items, I returned the ones I didn’t wear in Boston.   I was also able to finish saving the money I need for the summer, even despite spending more than I really wanted to this month. I feel relieved knowing that I can pay my bills for July and August and don’t have to worry about having less income for those months. Now I can use that summer income for other things, like summer vacation or paying down some debt.

So would I ever attempt a spending freeze again? Of course I would. While I’d love to start one right away for the upcoming Lenten season (which starts, conveniently, on March 1) I don’t think I have the stamina to continue another 40 days. I was starting to feel deprived, and I think that led to my failure during February. So I’m giving myself a grace period.

Another spending freeze starts March 6.

If at first you don’t succeed…keep going until you do.

A Long Weekend in Boston

What fabulous weather we had last week! It hardly seems like we’ve had winter at all this year, with the lack of snow and single digit temperatures. I’ve been on February break this week and it feels more like Spring outside. I always tell Mr. E that it’s all downhill once you get to Valentine’s Day, but it seems like Spring is coming even quicker this year.

Winter weather always makes me a bit nervous, particularly when travel is involved. So when my dear sorority sisters decided to plan a girls’ weekend in Boston, I hesitated. Boston in February conjures up images of cold winds and snow piled as high as your head. I envisioned covering up adorable outfits in giant parkas and airport delays.

Thankfully, all my worrying was for naught, because our President’s Day long weekend was full of sunshine and blue skies from the moment we arrived to the moment we left.  I didn’t even need my parka, just my wool coat (and even then, I was often warm). We couldn’t have asked for better weather for a fabulous weekend.

The objectives of our weekend were as follows: history, beer, and lobster. I’d say we accomplished all three. Sadly, due to the beer (or cider for me), I don’t have as many pictures of my adventures as I usually do when I travel with Mr. E. That’s okay. This won’t be my only trip to Boston.

Since we’ve already addressed the drinking, can we just talk about the fabulous cocktail I enjoyed at WARD 8? Called the “Hang Ten,” it arrived in a copper pineapple and had to be shared by two people. Paired with a lobster roll, it was a wonderful first meal in Boston.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express right across the street from Boston Garden and less than a fifteen minute walk to Quincy Market. We upgraded to to suites and the amount of space was perfect for 8 women. Unfortunately, the room I was in had large windows on two exterior walls, which while beautiful meant that it could be very loud from outside noise. I think the girls staying in the suite down the hall had a much quieter time. Conveniently, there was a Dunkin Donuts right under the hotel, so coffee was never more than a few minutes away.

After a relaxing first night a few of us woke up early to get ready for a chocolate brunch at Cafe Fleuri, which is located inside the Langham hotel. The hotel was stunning, and the chocolate brunch was everything I imagined it would be. It was almost too much chocolate for me, which is something I never thought I’d say.

 

 

 

 

After eating so much, we met up with the rest of our group and decided to walk the Freedom Trail to burn off some calories. We started at Boston Commons and followed all the way to Faneuil Hall. We didn’t spend the money to go into the locations that weren’t free, but it was nice to admire them from the outside. It can be a bit jarring to be looking at an eighteenth century building surrounded by buildings from the modern era!

 

Boston State House

 

Marker for the Freedom Trail

 

The Old South Meeting House, also the site of the Boston Massacre

 

Faneuil Hall and a statue of Samuel Adams

 

Saturday night meant a brewery tour. As someone who has never liked the taste of beer,  I was apprehensive that I’d have a good time. Sadly, none of the stops on our tour were to cideries (I had been hoping at least one would be) but we did get to go to a distillery, where we sampled rum and gin. That, I could do. The beer, not so much. My friends drank it for me.

 

Unsure about all of that beer!

 

I much preferred the Boston Crawling tour we did the next day, where we went to local bars and pubs and enjoyed a history lesson of colonial Boston at each stop. I drank cider to my heart’s content, and learned quite a bit (such as, did you know the person on the Sam Adam’s logo is more than likely Paul Revere? Or that colonial beer was less alcoholic?) We had dinner at Koy Sunday night, which was right in Quincy Market and I enjoyed my Korean dinner very much.

 

The Bell in Hand, the oldest continually run tavern in Boston

 

Our party had dwindled to six by Monday morning, and after a quick breakfast at our hotel we set off on our trip to Salem. The train station was conveniently located across from our hotel, and with Dunkin in hand we set off on a quick 20 minute train ride. We were there before we knew it.

I have been to Salem many times over the years, and I still never tire of it. Given that we also wanted to visit a cidery and possibly a brewery while we were there, we didn’t do much of the historical activities (and also, many were closed due to the off-season). But I did get a chance to wander down this beautiful cobblestone street. I think I could live here and be very happy.

 

 

An oldie but a goodie, the Salem Witch Museum is always a treat

 

I think I could live here…

 

Bewitched statue

 

 

After a delightful visit to the always cheesy Salem Witch Museum, we took advantage of the warm sun to wander down to the Far From the Tree cidery. I had been waiting all weekend for this moment: a flight of ciders. Another group of tourists had brought board games with them to their tasting and were playing Uno and Guess Who. I thought that sounded quite fun. We’ll have to remember for our next tour.

 

 

Delicious ciders…my favorite was that pinkish one on the left

 

 

At our farewell dinner back at the Bostonia Public House, we dined on lobster (what else!) and drank fancy cocktails while congratulating ourselves on a successful girls’ weekend, hopefully the first of many. My only hope is that, if we choose to go in the winter again, we pick someplace a bit warmer than Massachusetts. I don’t think we’ll get lucky with the weather again!

Have you been to Boston? What should I do next time?