Friday, March 27, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Buying a trailer...

When you get married, there's a standard line of questioning you have to answer when people query you about your relationship status.

"When's the big day?" You tell them a date in response. She'll give an exact count of days, hours, and minutes left.

"How's wedding planning going?" they ask, while your eyes glaze over and you start spouting figures from your bloated budget.

"Where are you planning to live?" It's not always the third question, but it's generally in the top five. And it's a valid one.

Sonja and I don't live together. We live in the same town, but she's four miles down the road—close enough where we spend quite a bit of time together. She'll probably eat about half her meals at my place, she has a toothbrush on the sink, slippers in my closet, and my sweatshirts are constantly disappearing as she wears them home at night.

We've talked about where we want to live after the Big Day. Right now, the plan is to stay put. Moving is a pain and there won't be any time to look for a new place in the weeks leading up to the wedding. Afterwards, we're planning to pay off some bills and settle into life without the added hassle of hauling furniture. So, for the foreseeable future, my swinging bachelor pad will become a cozy apartment for two.

With the housing market the way it is, though, we've talked about buying a place. And why not? If you can get a loan, housing prices are way below the place they were just a few years ago. Up here in the Northeast, the market remains above other parts of the country, but it's still weakened quite a bit. It's gotten to the point where buying a place is feasible, even on our not-too-overwhelming income.

So, in my free time (yeah, I do have bits and pieces of that here and there), I've been trolling through Have you seen the site? It's pretty cool. Basically, it's a real estate listing website. But instead of seeing pictures of homes with addresses, you can actually view available homes in your area by clicking through a Google map. Homes are listed by price and you can sort for your preferred area and cost. Pretty sweet and a great way to kill some time on the weekends.

Zillow lists all kinds of properties: condos, apartments, mansions, vacant plots, big houses, small homes, etc. They have it all... including mobile homes.

That's right, I've been looking through trailer parks for a place to live.

Of course, I haven't been looking with any kind of sincerity. But I won't lie... it has been rather tempting. Did you know, for example, that you can buy a two-bedroom home with a deck right next to a river and pay under $400 a month? Sure, your house will be on wheels and there's always the oft-chance that a tornado will strike your patch of garden gnomes at any second, but $400? That's not much more than I pay for groceries!

(Granted, I like to eat filet mignon covered in gold dust, but still...)

$400 bucks a month! And you can own a house. Yes, the outdoor hot-tub is a caldron placed above a pile of firewood (and it doubles as a possum slow-cooker), but it's still a hot-tub. For $13 a day, you could have the ability to put a gun-rack on your pickup and climb the cinder block stairs with pride to your own doublewide castle. With the money we'd be saving, Sonja and I could take up hobbies like wearing flannel, forgoing shaving, and even figure out how to chew tobacco... or Big League Chew. The possibilities really are endless.

I'm really not considering buying a mobile home. But, for the price, it's probably a better investment than opening another 401k, right?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Wedding Website...

Just a quick note, but our wedding website ( is now live and out of beta-testing—if someone who doesn't know what he's doing can beta-test a website. There are a few more bits and pieces to add (hotel deals, the Target registry, etc.), but that's pretty much as good as it's going to get.

Hope you like it!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Traditional Wedding vs Eloping...

Planning a traditional wedding:

Set date, announce to family, announce to friends, update Facebook relationship status, take engagement pictures, send save-the-dates.

Buy a dozen wedding planning books, book church, book reception hall, draw up budget, throw up in your mouth at how much a wedding costs, re-draw budget, create guest list, slash guest list.

Pick a maid of honor, pick a best man, pick a flower girl, pick a ring bearer, pick your nose.

Meet with DJs, barter with DJs, book DJ, taste cakes, taste cupcakes, taste fake cakes, book baker, find limos, think about music, hum music, book musician, buy custom-made wedding bands.

Look for dress, try on dress with friends, buy dress, wait for dress to be delivered, make final payment on dress, try on dress once weekly for months.

Have tux custom-made on a whim while traveling overseas, hang tux in closet, never try tux on and hope it fits on the Big Day.

Think about flowers, send guy pictures of flowers at work, dream about flowers, create an assortment of flowers, re-create flowers idea after scrapping for a better one, think about flowers some more, book florist, redesign flower ideas once more.

Book pastor, begin 8-week marriage counseling, drive two hours each Sunday so you can attend church and counseling sessions, confirm that you really were meant for each other after all.

Learn how to dance, how to mix a cocktail, how to build a wedding website, how to throw a bouquet, how to spell distant cousins' names, how to not invite people, how to disinvite people, that "full figure garter belts" exist, that everything is obscenely expensive.

Plan ceremony, plan reception, plan honeymoon, plan backup plans.

Day of - wake up, say "I do," party hearty, ooh-la-la.


Book plane tickets. Get married. Tell mom via postcard.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Traveling to Italy

I love travel. I love seeing new places, trying new foods and a new language on for size, and finding out how the rest of the world works (and how much we really all do have in common).

I also love all the day to day tasks that go along with travel, too. Packing lists, passports, tickets, itineraries, and planning, planning, planning—it's all good.

Life just seems a lot better when you have a trip to look forward to. I figured that out the first big international trip I took, a mini-grand tour of Europe. When I got back, I promised myself that I'd take another international trip every year. So far, I've been able to keep to that promise. Every year (except 2007, sadly), I went overseas again. It's been a tremendous ride and I've been blessed to take it.

So, when Sonja and I started planning our wedding, we also started planning our honeymoon. We didn't know where we wanted to go at first. We just had some grand plans and schemes, but now it's all coming together and I'm getting a whole load of pre-trip anticipation. We're heading on a two-week honeymoon to Italy.

We booked plane tickets way back in December, before Christmas even, so we could lock in the price (and fly Swiss Air, so I could collect some Star Alliance points to pay for our next trip), then we booked some hotels and travel insurance. Now, we're just playing the waiting game. But, I figured I'd fill you in on the details so you can get pumped up along with us (or offer some travel tips).

We're going to take it slow. It's our honeymoon, right? We want to enjoy it, so we won't be rushing from sight to sight in a half-dozen different cities. We narrowed it down to four nights in Rome, five in Florence, then three in Venice. For the first two cities, we used Bed & Breakfast Italia (thanks to Lonely Planet's suggestion) and then, in Venice, we booked the second-most-romantic hotel in Europe (according to TripAdvisor, anyway).

The plan is to do all the tourist, historical-type visits in Rome, then move on to Florence for a couple days of the same. But can you be in Tuscany and miss the vineyards? No way... we'll have to do a bike tour of some sort. And we're probably going to do at least a day trip to Cinque Terre to hike along the coast and soak in the beauty of the Mediterranean. Finally, we finish off in Venice where the only plan is to get lost in the canals (which hopefully won't be smelly).

Oh sure, there will be more planning the closer we get. The excitement's mounting every day, though. There's a big trip on the horizon and, like I said, that makes everything better about life. Having a tough day at the office? So what, you're taking a trip. Car troubles? Big deal, you're renting a bike overseas. No money? They take credit cards internationally.

I hope this doesn't sound like I'm rubbing it in or anything. I'm just totally pumped for the trip.