Tools for House Hunting

We’re definitely still dealing with the stress of house hunting. I thought I’d share some of the tools that have helped us along the way (in addition to our Realtor and loan officer, who have been awesome).

1. Wells Fargo’s “How Much Can I Borrow” calculator

One of the graphs on the “How Much Can I Borrow” calculator.

This nifty interactive resource calculates your debt-to-income ratio in order to estimate how much you can borrow for your mortgage.

It was really accurate for us – after I realized that cell phone bills and the like do not count as debt.

2. Wells Fargo’s “How Much Will My Mortgage Payments Be” Calculator

It’s one thing to figure out what the bank will loan you, it’s entirely different to figure out what you can afford. That’s why we used this calculator. It factors interest, property tax, home insurance, and mortgage insurance into your monthly payment. Your loan officer can verify these numbers. They’ve been pretty accurate for us!

3. Redfin & Zillow

These housing search engines allow you to browse through listings according to your criteria. They are helpful to get an idea of what you’re looking for in a house and to see what is available in your intended price range.

There are some limitations with these resources. A lot of the listings are old and some are off the market by the time you see them. Also, neither of these sites are a comprehensive list of available houses. Once you begin working with a Realtor, you will have a much more inclusive list of options.

4. Apartment Therapy

Looking at houses makes me anxious to be done with apartment living. Apartment therapy (along with my own 5 Ways to Thrive in an Apartment) helps me stay sane in my rented space. 

Do you have any house-hunting resources?


Our Own March Madness

This March may be the craziest month of our marriage to date. We’re meeting with a realtor this week to get on track to buy a house. My wonderful husband, Riel, is turning 21. We’ll also be celebrating our second anniversary in New York City!

First, We’re looking into the possibility of getting a house. Apartment living is getting cramped and stale. We won’t likely be in the market to buy any time very soon, but we would like to start in that direction.

Then, Riel’s birthday is in the middle of the month. It’s going to be a pretty laid back event. Mostly because I’m not 21 yet, so we are limited in what we can do. We’ll have pizza at Round Table with friends and family (Riel does love pizza) and then he’ll go out with his friends.

On a side note, it’s really bizarre to be married for nearly two years and not be 21 yet. We can file taxes, pay bills, and do other terribly grown-up things, but we can’t buy wine. Turning 21 will be an extra-important rite of passage for Riel.

I’m debating how far to go with the festivities at Riel’s party. He pretty much hated all my ideas for games, so it looks like we won’t be doing any of those. There isn’t a good way to decorate for a man’s party. I’ll probably just buy candles shaped like the number ‘21’ and stick them on top of an ice cream cake (Riel and I both hate normal cake). And Riel is difficult to buy for. Well, Riel, if you end up with Hot Cheetos and Coke you’ll know I couldn’t think of anything better.

Finally, a week after Riel’s birthday, we’ll be heading to NYC for our anniversary. Neither of us has been to New York, so we’re psyched.  We’ll be seeing Chicago on Broadway (eee!).  Other than that, I’m not sure what we’ll be doing. There’s so much to choose from and we’ll only be there for 4 days.  I really need to look into it more before we leave! I’ll likely be posting more about planning (and going on) the trip.

I hope this crazy month goes smoothly. It’ll be tough to keep up with homework and blog posts with all of this craziness going on.  Wish me luck.

If you have any tips on what to do in NYC please comment or contact me!

Surviving Sickness: Planning Ahead

Getting sick ruins your plans. It wreaks havoc on your resolutions, like that new diet or exercise routine. Worst of all, it makes it near impossible to keep up with work, home, and school responsibilities.

In high school illness excuses you from class. In adulthood, a cold is hardly reason to sleep in on a Monday. Sometimes being an adult is so depressing!

The best thing you can do to weather the storm is plan ahead. Planning is probably the main thing that preserved my sanity through this cold!

If you’re just tuning in, check out Part 1: Address your Ailments.

2. Plan ahead

Plan Dinners:

As soon as you realize you are coming down with a cold, make a list of possible dinners. You do not want to be hungry, sick, and exhausted with no plan when dinnertime rolls around. Make sure the meals are simple enough for your cold-induced grogginess.  Check that you have the ingredients for those meals.

I chose simple meals: Canned chili & cornbread, Pizza Lasagna, Pancakes, Nachos, Fried Rice, and so on.

Plan for the Next Morning:

Waking up is the single most difficult part of being sick. I got sick right at the start of my 8 A.M. spring classes. That meant that I had to adjust to waking up 3 hours earlier while congested and miserable.

I feel better in the evening than in the morning. I use the evening to figure out breakfast, clothing, medicine, and lunch for the next morning. This saves me a lot of energy and stress in the morning.

Plan to Recover:

Make sure that you have a regimen to bolster your immune system. Mine is simple: Eat, hydrate, sleep, vitamin C. Your meals should provide you all your nutrition – don’t just eat Top Ramen, even though it’s easy. You may have to work extra hard to hydrate if you have a sore throat. As I mentioned in Part 1, you can rely on tea, popsicles, and ice cubes to sooth and hydrate. Sleep shouldn’t be too difficult. If coughing or congestion is keeping you awake, try Nyquil.

You can get your vitamin C from citrus fruits, certain teas, apple cider, apple juice, orange juice, fortified cough drops, Emergen-C, and many other places. Vitamin C is essential to fortifying your immune system. Don’t leave it out of your diet!

You may need to visit the doctor if your cold is serious. I joke that in my family we only visit the doctor after we’re dead. This is partially true, but I would definitely go if I had a cold I couldn’t shake.

What do you do to get rid of a cold?

Cold season is almost over. I wish you luck in avoiding pesky cold germs!


Surviving Sickness: Cures for the Common Cold

Every day this week I’ve had to peel myself out of bed and hop into a steamy shower so that I can breathe. I have a cold. At times, my lips and nose are so dry I feel that if I smile, they’ll bleed. I have not been able to speak above a whisper for three days.

If you are a student, caretaker, or can’t take time off work I’m sure you know that regardless of illness, the show must go on. I’m proud of how well I have been operating while under the weather. I’ve cooked dinner every night, my house is clean, and I’ve made it to all my classes – all while unable to speak or breathe through my nose! One of the reasons I’ve been able to function (albeit quite groggily at times) is by actively fighting my cold symptoms.

My first tactic to defeat a nasty cold is:

#1 Address your Ailments

This may seem obvious, but often the last thing you feel like doing when you’re sick is making soup or taking medicine. You have to take an active role in fighting your cold symptoms.

Sore Throat:

Once you’ve medicated (with an antihistamine like Benadryl), go for the classic cure-all: tea! Tea is really soothing on your throat. There are even teas made specifically to treat a sore throat, though I’ve found that they tend to taste terrible. If you don’t like tea, try Apple Cider. Cider has the added benefit of Vitamin C.

Cough drops are also an indispensable resource – especially to keep from coughing in class or at work. Thankfully, cough drops don’t taste disgusting anymore. I’m a big fan of Halls’ mixed berry cough drops. But if you want to change up the flavor you can also use hard candy, like starlight mints or caramels.

Popsicles are my final go-to for a really bad sore throat. This time around I didn’t have any popsicles on hand – so I sucked on ice cubes. Weird, I know, but it worked well and kept me hydrated.

Be sure to get sugar free varieties of popsicles and cough drops. The last thing you want is to rot your teeth by soaking them in sugar for a week.

As far as meals go, canned soup is your friend. You won’t feel like cooking – but soup is a soothing and delicious option.


You need a decongestant (shocking!) like Sudafed. You will be able to breathe again!

If your throat isn’t hurting you too badly try some culinary decongestants. Horseradish, wasabi, and other spicy foods work wonders. I also like a steamy bowl of soup for decongesting.

When bed time finally comes around, I highly recommend Nyquil. It works better than any other decongestant I’ve tried. It tastes horrible, but it clears out your nasal passage so you can finally get to sleep.

Tender nose and lips:

This product has been discontinued, but you can get it on Amazon (here).

Rose Salve! I discovered this Blueberry Rose Salve on super sale at Bath & Body Works. It’s multipurpose for “face, cuticles, and lips.” I’ve been using it over my dry, irritated nose and lips. It’s amazing! It moisturizes and heals my tissue-rubbed skin.

Unfortunately, I have not yet found any sure-fire way to clear that groggy, fuzzy feeling I often have during a cold. Please let me know if you have any methods – they would be invaluable!

Check back for part 2 of Sickness Survival: Planning ahead to make life easier!