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Party Over There!

December 30, 2011

Hey all!  Merry Christmas, happy new year, happy Hanukkah, and crazy Kwanza to everyone, even if it’s a little late!

I just wanted to pop by to let you all know about my latest project.  I have been sharing all of my thrifting finds at Goodwill and other thrift stores with  my family and friends, and so many of them wanted me to start documenting it.  Thus began my new fashion blog:  A Wife of Material.  Please stop by, say hi, and look around.  It would be great if you followed me as well!  I will be sharing how I am learning to style my clothing so that they look age appropriate (a risk you run when you teach high school), how I am revamping my wardrobe on $10 a month (yes, just $10!), and what reflections on what I am seeing on runways, YouTube, stores, etc.

Have a great new year!  Enjoy 2012!

Double Faced Media

October 11, 2011

As blog readers, we all know that there is a difference between what we read online and what actually goes on.  I like to think that I mostly tell the truth, but I leave out parts that could be unsafe (like telling you our full names, where we live, and when we’ll be out of our apartment) or needlessly unkind.  Forgive me for those, but I don’t imagine that I will be giving those rules up any time soon. There are other blogs, though, that have kind of gotten to me with how much they spin facts back and forth, and while I won’t name names, I am sure you can think of some you have read that fall into this categories.

The internet has always been filled with skepticism.  First with random emails, then chat rooms, then Facebook, then blogs.  I’m sure people were a little shaky on whether or not the cavemen were telling the truth on their cave drawings too.  I mean, was the mammoth really that big?  Did the spear really fly that straight?  Come on.  We have a tendency to over-exaggerate.  Somewhere along the lines, we learn that it gets us more attention, and for all of you attention whores out there, you know it works.  I don’t blame people for wanting more attention; that’s pretty much what the internet was invented for, right?  A place where a bunch of people who couldn’t talk to the real people in their lives could go and talk to random strangers about who they are and what they think.  Hey strangers!  But how much truth are we actually telling on here?

The first commonly stretched topic is money, or lack there of.  As a teacher, a newlywed, and a student loan-slave (but not my own!), our household budget is super important.  Can we afford to go out to eat?  Do we have enough money in our checking account to pay the bills and get gas this week?  So many others feel the same way.  Many blogs I read are written by people who may be unemployed, in college, their spouses are unemployed, they have kids, etc.  In short, we all think about money being pretty short.  The internet is an incredible place to learn about how to cut costs in various ways, but it can get lost in the moaning and groaning.  How can we hear about how money is in short supply in one blog post and then read about the great clothes you bought and the restaurants you ate at three times last week in the next posts?  How does that make sense?  I consider eating out and buying name brand clothes from the mall activities that you do when you are very secure in how much money you have, not things you just do because “you have to.”  Tell you what, internet.  There is nothing you “have to do” for your readers besides live, breathe, and occasionally write.  Seriously.  Buying clothes should come wwwaaaayyyy after paying bills, applying for jobs, getting hired, and providing for your family.  If you don’t have to worry about those aspects of life, awesome!  Then you don’t need to pretend your blog is about money problems.

I feel like morning TV shows have the same personality problem.  They are always talking about how the economy sucks and no one has money.  Which is pretty much true.  But, within two minutes of covering that, they put on a piece about the latest fashion trends and how “affordable” they are.  Dear Ann Curry, an outfit that costs $120 is not “so affordable.”  Some people only make that in a week, and they sure as heck wouldn’t just spend it on the newest way to wear stripes when you are fifty or older.

This sounds like a rant, which was not my exact intention, but what I want is for people to open their eyes to the real messages they are sending.  Yes, we all at one point or another go a little overboard in how we spend and what we say.  Even with those times, though, what we say about them sends a message about what we think about the world.  Here in Maine, one city is considering an ordinance that would ban all plastic grocery bags.  Customers would either have to bring in their own canvas bags or pay a fee to use paper grocery bags every time.  Great for the environment, but hold on a second.  What about families who can barely afford food as it is?  It’s unfair to expect them to shell out $1 a bag for either canvas or paper.  That dollar could mean the difference between everyone getting to eat a meal that day or part of the family going without.  We aren’t thinking about those people.  We aren’t thinking when we describe ourselves as “starving.”  If you think I’m kidding, check out the facts on the graphic below.In short, for the love of the written word, think before you write.  Be honest, be yourself, and be a friend to your fellow person.  Be nice.  Be real.

Mainiac Monday – I Swear They’re Coming

October 10, 2011

It has been almost a month since I last shared something!  Ahhh!  I bet Bestie C is ready to kill me for not writing more wedding recaps.  I swear, they’re coming!  Promise!

School has been cah-raz-ee for me.  It’s awesome that I am teaching the same classes for the second year in a row because I get to reuse my stuff from last year, but that doesn’t mean that school gets easier.  If anything, it gets more hectic just trying to find where I put the freakin papers!  Coaching is almost over; our last scheduled game is about a week away.  I love love love coaching field hockey, but it will be nice to have only one after school activity for the rest of the school year.  Having two at the same time has knocked me on my butt.  Drama club has only been meeting once a week, but there is so much that goes into putting together a show, not to mention helping a senior through her first foray into directing.  But I love it.  I wouldn’t give up any of my jobs right now.

I have so many ideas for new blog entries, so I cannot wait to show you what has been going on!  B and I have taken a few weekend side trips to fun fall locations, I have to catch up on Bestie C’s wedding festivities, I have found some amazing thrifty clothing finds, and I have some cool news about my photography!  I promise, they’re coming!  Promise!

Ding! Dong! My Loans are DEAD!

September 22, 2011

Today is momentous in the H household, people.  MONUMENTAL!  Such a big day!  Why?


I’m so thrilled that only jumping at the Vatican can express it completely!

For reals!  For reals for reals!  I am so excited and proud of us that I just can’t stand it.  Sure, there will be a huge chunk of money missing from my bank account for quite a while, but we’ll save up again.  After all, that’s how we ended up at this momentous day.

It started way back when in the “in between” year I still lived with my parents.  Being your typical middle class family, I was told that we were “too rich” to pay for college, but in reality we were “too poor.”  Now, I am not going to pretend that I grew up in a poor living situation.  Were there times we worried about money?  Oh yeah, but we were far from wondering if we would be able to eat the next day.  We were blessed that way.  But with college, it wasn’t within my parents’ means to pay for my tuition.  They provided for me in other ways, like food and car maintenance, and I worked two jobs.  During undergrad, I was lucky enough to receive a lot of scholarships, and I only ended up with about $10,000 in federal loans.  No parent loans, no private loans.  For a school that cost around $15,000 a year (thank goodness for state school prices), that was pretty tame.

Then I went to grad school.  This time, my parents weren’t asked to contribute anything because I was “an adult.”  (Umm… yeah… we’ll just go with that story…)  Grad school was MEGA expensive, around $56,000 for one year.  ONE YEAR.  Seriously, I don’t quite think one year could be worth that, but going to grad school isn’t quite like dickering at a yard sale.  Again, I was blessed with some scholarships and scored two excellent jobs, one of which supplied me with free housing for two semesters.  Since I only had to go to school for a summer, fall, and spring calendar year, I only needed to take out a federal loan for $20,500, the maximum the feds will give you.

So I lived with my parents for the year before B and I got married.  And it worked.  While my dad will go on and on about how he feels bad that they weren’t “able to help me out with paying for college,” I don’t see it that way; they helped me out a lot.  By living with my parents rent free, I paid off my undergrad loans in a year and a half (I started during grad school with some of my stipend money).  Now that B and I are married, we came up with some magical way of living on one paycheck.  How do we make it work since I am a teacher and B works in a small credit union?  With a lot of cutting back and budgeting.  We make food that lasts for four dinners, we pack lunches, I order free things from the internet, and I thrift.  Oh, and bargain hunt.  Lots of bargain hunting.

With that one paycheck paying everyday expenses, we can save the other one.  With saving the other one, we just left the money alone.  We couldn’t look at it as “Oh hey, we need some awwwweeessssooommmeeee new toys and trips.  Let’s spend it!”  And, as money slowly makes it crawl into higher levels, we plan.  We have specific goals that we must hit before we act on plans.  For us, our account needed to get to a comfortable amount that we could take the rest of my loans out without going completely broke.  There is no way I would let our accounts be drained.  Totally uncomfortable with that.  So when we got to that level, with my paycheck last week, we knew it was time.

I put the check, the biggest check I have ever written, in the mailbox today.  I wrote a note to the Department of Education and put it in the envelope:

To Whom It May Concern;

Enclosed you will find the payoff amount for account number XXXXXXXXXX-X.  Thanks for the help with school, and now, thanks for being DONE!

– EH

Enjoy the note, mail opener.  It’s the last you will hear from this lady!

So here is to tomorrow; may all of you find this little slice of heaven too!  I’M DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE!

Oh… yeah… there are B’s still… which are way bigger than mine were…. but whatever.  I’M DONE!

If you have any questions about how we did it, leave me some comment love!  I am more than willing to answer any and all questions about getting on the track for being a little more debt free.

I’m Yours: Pretty Pampering

September 19, 2011

The morning of August 19 started bright and early for me and B.  We had a lot to get done before I had to jump into a car with C to head out to appointments, so it was up-and-at-’em.  I had decided to do my own hair for the wedding because of how expensive the hair salons were in the Old Port area, so I needed time to get it right.  It turns out that watching all of those hairstyling YouTube videos was worth it because it turned out pretty well and C’s sister’s stylist thought I had gotten it done professionally.  Score!I swear, it looked better from the front.

After breakfast, I grabbed my dress and jumped into the car with C, her mom, and A’s mom and headed off to our first appointment:  pedicures and manicures!  I hadn’t had a pedicure since C and my freshmen year of college, so this was an exceptional treat.  The people at the spa were incredibly nice and did a great job.  I went last so that I could get pictures of everyone getting ready.C’s sisters, the three ladies above, were incredibly generous; they picked up the tab for all of our manicures and pedicures.  I was flabbergasted by how it didn’t seem like a big deal to them.  That was a big bill, and I am still incredibly thankful to them for that.  What a nice thing to do!  Maybe, when B and I have higher paying jobs, I can do the same for someone else’s wedding party.  You know, pay it forward.When people asked C if she was nervous, she told them that she wasn’t nervous about getting married; she was nervous about the ceremony.  C isn’t a fan of a lot of people with their eyes on her, so having a wedding with her as the bride was outside of her comfort zone.  But other than that, she was as cool as a cucumber.  A well pampered cucumber.

After our nails were polished and our limbs were massaged, we scooted to grab some lunch and to get C and her oldest sister Ka to the hair salon.  Her other two sisters had already left for their hair appointments at a different salon.  Again, I played photographer (and I was treated to a delicious mimosa by the salon)!  Seriously, who can turn down a mimosa on a wedding day?  Not this girl!

This is one of my absolute favorite picture of C that I took that day.  She’s so gorgeous.

C had selected an inspiration photo of a half-up/half-down braided style with loose curls.  Since her hair was already naturally curly, it just took a little sculpting and braiding.  The final product was incredibly pretty and very much C’s style.

With her hair done, we waited for Ka to pick us back up after she ran to her apartment to get her dress.  But then I got a phone call from B.  He was in charge of picking up the flowers for the wedding in the town one over from where we currently live, about 1.5 hours from the wedding site.  He called to ask how many bridesmaids bouquets he was supposed to have.  Four, plus the bride’s, plus the tossing bouquet, so six total.  He had five.  Mine was missing.  Thankfully, B had the foresight to check what he had before driving all the way to the wedding site.  Unfortunately, the phone call tipped C off to a small crisis and made her more anxious.  I did my best to reassure her that everything was a-okay, and it was.  B got the last, sneaky bouquet, but now the time was running out.  We had no idea if he would make it there in time because we needed the bouquets for pictures before the ceremony.  Now it was time for us to get there, too.

I’m Yours: An Impromptu Bachelor Party

September 17, 2011

With the official rehearsal activities wrapped up, a bunch of us, including the bride and groom, decided that the night was still young and there was still celebrating to do.  After all, because of some confusion and waiting to find out if A’s best man would be able to make it to the wedding (he couldn’t), A hadn’t had a bachelor party.  That needed to be fixed.  There were quite a few bars around the rehearsal dinner location, so we decided to go to one of those… after we drove back to the hotel for my I.D. since I had forgotten it.

The bar was relatively crowded for a Thursday night (oh wait, Thirsty Thursday… duh), and we joined Bestie C’s family at a large table for a rousing game of Jenga.  It turns out that C’s dad, Mr. L, is quite the Jenga shark.  The boys eventually wandered over to the open pool table.  Mrs. L later commented that she had never seen B so talkative with other people.  It comes with time, Mrs. L.  All in time.  I swear, B does have fun in life.  Promise.

Wedding rings are hot.

Around 11, we all called it an evening and headed back to the hotel.  We laughed, had an amazing time hanging out together, and laughed some more.  Apparently, the fun and laughter continued well into the early morning in C’s room.  B and I headed back to our room, watched about 10 minutes of Iron Chef, and promptly fell asleep.  We had to be up early in the morning to get the festivities started, so it was lights out for us.

The C and A Chronicles:

We rehearse for the big day!


September 17, 2011

And then the school year hit!  Oh man, going from 0 to 70 is hitting me hard.  I have gone from a relaxing, entertaining summer vacation to planning classes for 100 kids, coaching 21 seventh graders five days a week, and running a drama club for 30 kids all at the same time.  I am in bed by 9 or 9:30 every single night, and I am asleep within three minutes.  My life has taken on a similar pattern:  wake up, get ready and eat within 35 minutes, drive to school, teach, get dressed for field hockey, go to field hockey (and drama club for an hour on Tuesdays) for a couple hours, run for a half hour around the track, go home, eat, correct and plan, sleep.

Where is blogging in there?  Good question.  I am still figuring that one out.  I have to plan out my posting better, especially since Bestie C is eagerly waiting the continuation of my recaps of her wedding.  And she knows where I live, so it’s not like I can put that off.  She could find me!

So as I find my rhythm in life and in blogging again, bear with me!  I love all of my (few) readers, and I promise I WILL write!  Promise!