Sellin’ Mah House

t-shirt "I live in a van down by the river"

My house went on the market mid-last week. The first day, one person came to view the property. We got a contract later that night and I met with my Realtor the next day to sign a bunch of papers. So my house is officially under contract! Within a few days (and more signatures) I had a back up offer secured as well.

Overall the process has been going really well. It’s been a pain to keep all of my stuff out of sight, make sure the bed is made, and vacuum up after the bunnies every morning. Even though I’m unemployed, I’m usually busy all day and have to be out of the house fairly early most days!

There’s been a bit of drama from a few people who probably just mean well. I’m really good about making a plan and acting on it, but I am not so great when it comes to not taking things personally and letting “stuff” get to me. There is also the question of where I will end living up when I leave this house. I have enough friends that I’m sure I could couch surf for a few solid months if I had to. I’m welcome at my parents house, but space is tight. I was driving around yesterday and spotted an old contractor van for sale. I definitely thought about it.

Unemployment in the Social Age

I’m absolutely exhausted this morning. My to-do list is a mile long and growing. I’m currently drinking a Red Bull, and laying face first on the couch with 10 tabs open in Firefox.

Things have actually been going really well. I haven’t won the lottery, gotten married for the insurance, or struck gold in my backyard. I have been completely overwhelmed (emotionally and literally) by support and help from friends and acquaintances.

It’s gotten me thinking that I am very lucky to have lost my job in 2012, with the Internet and social media as resources. My layoff happened on Friday at 5 pm. I posted my status on Facebook Friday night. I have 48 comments on that post along with a bunch of emails and private messages. I had to create a spreadsheet to track all the leads I’ve gotten.

I immediately updated my LinkedIn contacts and sent out a bunch of recommendation requests. In three days I’ve gotten a handful of great ones already.

Thanks to social media I’ve gotten several leads on freelance projects and odd jobs (such as helping a friend set up for a consignment sale). I found someone to buy an unused $100 J. Crew gift card within a couple hours. I posted some gently used Anthropologie items for sale on a group Facebook page. I’ve used the Internet to list a bunch of old books for sale on Amazon (making money and de-cluttering!) and sold back the textbook from my Summer class.

A friend alerted me to a happy hour for graphic designers in Richmond, and took time out of her busy week to meet me there and buy me a beer. Even though it was a small group, I got two leads (and a free beer) out of that event.

The Realtor who is helping me do a short sale on my house is someone I met through Twitter. My mom came with me to our first meeting and was amazed that I met someone smart, kind and non-murderous via the Internet!

Some friends that I’ve know for a long time (so long that it’s silly to mention that I originally met them through a message board for a sci-fi cartoon) have been perhaps the sweetest of all. Offering to pick me up at the airport about an hour away this fall so I don’t have to spend money on a rental car. One guy, living in a different country, offered to make me a portfolio website. Three others offered financial assistance to ensure I could get my medical care covered. And I’m misting up again. My mom has offered the same (of course) but no other family members have. But people, friends, from the Internet have offered. And that makes me very fortunate indeed.


I was laid off this past Friday. That marked four years and three weeks since I had started at that particular job, if anyone is counting. After three years, I had finally earned a bump in vacation time. At my previous job, even though I worked the same position for for years, the ownership of our division changed hands, so it never counted toward the bump in vacation. I feel like I’m playing Chutes and Ladders.

Luckily, I already had plans that same night to have dinner with a friend and her family. The mom works for HR in a government agency and she offered to help me with their job website and offer tips for searching. I’m hoping to get hired on with the government because there is more stability, great benefits, and opportunities for training and advancement. Also, there are some options to eventually transfer to another part of the country, without having to give up the pension and other benefits.

I’m going to be applying to places in Richmond, Fredericksburg, and the DC area. They won’t all be government of course, but I think that’s where my heart is set at the moment. After working for small businesses for 10 years, I would definitely like to see what it’s like to work for a larger company. Who knows where I’ll end up though!

I posted on Facebook and Twitter and called a few people. The response has been really great. I’ve gotten a ton of people who offered to pass along my resume (as soon as I polish it up!) and a bunch of links to job openings. Thanks friends! One friend-couple even offered me financial help! I was so blown away, I was choking up. I feel so alone at times (like everyone) and it was wonderful to know that there are people who care that much.

I’m all about action, so here’s what I’ve done already:

  • Mom bought me a printer yesterday
  • I bought resume paper
  • Mom is staying with me this week so I’m not alone all day (she still works though)
  • I tripled my course load for the upcoming eight week semester. I’ll be doing three classes, instead of just one. If my request is approved, I will be taking two classes the following eight weeks.
  • Unsubscribe from all store emails and most shopping-related blogs.

Here’s my plan so far:

  • Go to unemployment office. Figure that whole thing out.
  • Determine how much I can make, before it affects unemployment benefits. Find part time job that will fill that gap.
  • Fix up resume. Some people have already reviewed it, but I have two others who offered to help as well. I need to get that to them early this week.
  • Plug my resume into USA Jobs. There’s a job that I’d really like and I only have another 10 days before it closes.
  • Clean up my home office area and unload all my boxes from work.
  • Beg someone to code me a simple website.
  • Get files off my work computer.
  • Get PDF samples of projects I’ve done.
  • Update portfolio.
  • Put as much stuff up for sale on Craigslist or eBay as possible.
  • Talk to realtor about doing a short sale on my house.
  • Attend a bunch of networking events and career fairs.
  • Speak to patient advocate about volunteering.
  • Set up a schedule so I don’t slack on job hunting, but also don’t get overwhelmed.
  • I know that sounds like a lot and is probably boring for you all to read. I’m sure I’ll have more details about different aspects as this progresses. I’m really bummed out now, and having a hard time not taking it personally. But I really do think that there will be a few silver linings out of this situation and I’m lucky that my parents and some friends live close enough to help me (and some others can help virtually)! Everyone send good vibes and job openings!

Wallis Fashion Review

Spot Print Belted Dress (Taupe and Black)

Taupe Spot Print Belted Dress | Also offered in black

I recently placed my first order with UK clothing website, Wallis. I ordered the Taupe Spot Print Belted Dress, shown in the pictures. I also picked up a black jersey dress for only $18, but that one was too small, because I ordered it in petite and didn’t account for the stupid fact that petite sizes are normally smaller in all measurements, not just shorter. I ordered both dresses in size 4 (which is a size 8 in UK size, but they display American sizes on their .com site). Obviously I would order a size up in petites next time. I am very happy with the way both dresses looked. The quality is not fantastic, but for the price, I think it is a reasonable quality. The dress is not lined, and the zipper is a little difficult. The belt it comes with is pretty low quality, but that is to be expected even with a higher-priced dress. Both dresses were machine washable, which is a huge thing for me.

Wallis offers free shipping with orders over $30. You do have to pay for the return shipping, though. The sell clothing, petites, shoes, accessories and even beachwear. Probably only 30 percent of the items for sale appeal to me. Some of their items look a little too trashy or crazy for me personally. The items arrived on individual hangers (marked with the UK sizes), sealed in protective plastic bags. The price for this dress has changes at least 3 times since I bought it, so definitely keep an eye out for sales. I think it was about $50 when I bought it and it is currently $63. I would recommend checking them out!

I’m going to Medical School (Sorta)!


Nearly 2 months ago, my friend Nick Dawson encouraged me to apply for a scholarship to the Stanford Medicine X conference. I didn’t think I had a chance, but the conference sounded so exciting that I decided to give it a shot and whipped up an application. The deadline for the award announcement passed, and I never heard anything, so I chalked it up to a miss. And then last night I got an email saying I’d been awarded a scholarship! My name is up on the website and everything.

According to their website, “Medicine X is a catalyst for new ideas about the future of medicine and health care. The Medicine X initiative is designed to explore the potential of social media and information technology to advance the practice of medicine, improve health, and empower patients to be active participants in their own care. The “X” is meant to evoke a move beyond numbers and trends—it represents the infinite possibilities for current and future information technologies to improve health.”

They’ve got Michael Graves as a keynote speaker! A man I wrote about in my application without even realize he was going to be at the event. They will also have IDEO, which is a company mentioned in every business book ever written. As a designer who is also getting her MBA, I have immense love and appreciation for IDEO. Plus I’m hoping to meet up with some awesome people. Some I know from Twitter and communities like #hcsm and But You Don’t Look Sick.

Now it is not a full ride, but it is significantly less than the over $1,000 fee for normal attendees. I still need to cover accommodations and travel costs, but I’m hoping some lovely friends in the area will let me couch surf. I’m so excited to be going and the bonus is that since I’m already going to be flying to California, I have the perfect excuse to spend a couple extra days bumming around my favorite state. (I haven’t been back since the Lost finale.) I’m hoping to be able to fly out of LAX and spend a day or two in my old (preschool) stomping ground.

This week I got some bad news about the current state of my health, and this positive health-related news is really cheering me up.

Strawberry Whipped Cream Vodka

Today while I was driving, I had an amazing thought. I had fresh strawberries I picked on Sunday. I had a bottle of whipped cream flavored vodka. I wondered what sorts of delicious beverages I could make with these ingredients.

Well it turns out the company that makes the vodka had already thought of that. Here’s a PDF of several recipes using fruit added to their flavored vodka.

I made strawberry-infused whipped cream vodka, but it won’t be ready for about a week.

Berkeley Springs Weekend

A few weeks ago, I spent a long weekend in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. My mom has been a bunch of times (with my dad or just with her friends), but this was my first visit. It is about 3 hours from where I live on one of those nice drives that doesn’t see much traffic. I took a Friday off work and spent two nights in town.

The Star Theater

The Star Theater

The main town is extremely small. There is a main street with shops and restaurants, and a side street with a collection of shops. There are a few things outside of this 2-3 block range, mainly restaurants, spas, or places to stay. The shops in town fall mainly into the following categories: gift shops, art gallery/shops, new age stuff, antiques. The main attraction is town is the natural spring water and spas have been built all over that offer whirlpool baths and other spa services like manicures and massages. There is a small arts community and you can see dramatic performances, art done by school kids, or even catch a movie (only on the weekends) in the renovated theater. There are also a bunch of nature-related activities to enjoy nearby, like hiking or fishing, but I cannot speak to those based on this trip.

My Room at the B&B


The View from the B&B Patio

I stayed in the least creepy B&B I could find: Brookside Manor. It is in an old house, but is only a year into its life as a B&B. The decor is country/antique but not overdone. I couldn’t relax in a B&B full of lace and creepy dolls. The rooms also have really comfortable beds and modern bathrooms with jacuzzi tubs. There was not a full breakfast, but a sort of plus-sided continental breakfast.

Lot 12 Salad

Lot 12 Salad

The best meal I had was at Lot 12 Public House. It is an upscale American farm-to-table restaurant and is a real gem for the town. My only regret was that I went their my first night and spent every meal after wishing I was back at Lot 12! If you plan to go, make reservations.

Berkeley Springs State Park

Park Entrance

The Country Inn


Spring Water

Washington's Bathtub

Washington's Bathtub

Mysterious Castle

Mysterious Castle

Since I have never been to Berkeley Springs, I wanted to sample the different spas. The State Park operates a spa. The park itself is very small, just one block. You can get massages and other treatments in one building, but I opted to get a “Roman Bath” which is in the second building. It was $35 for one hour. You get a private room, with a large titled, walk in mini swimming pool-like arrangement. The pool dimensions are probably 5 feet by 10 feet. It spans the width of the room, and there is just a small area for a chair outside of the pool. You are allowed to have up to two people into these pools. The water was a little over waist high, and warm but not hot. I basically just hung out, and read a book for a while. The facility is somewhat run down and not fancy. It seemed clean enough, but definitely had more of a YMCA locker room feel than a day spa feel. Still for the price, I would go back.

Roman Bath

Roman Bath at the State Park

I also went to Atasia Spa (caution – website has sound) for a 15 minute whirlpool bath and a massage. This is a more traditional day spa, with a fancy reception area, small gift shop, and locker rooms with a shower and amenities like a hair dryer. An attendant showed me to a locker, gave me a giant fluffy robe and told me to step into the hallway when I was ready. It seemed like they had three separate rooms for whirlpools. The rooms were tiny with low lighting and wood paneling (like a sauna, not a basement). This tub was one of those large, jetted ones that is more like a personal hot tub than a bathtub. They turned the jets on for 15 minutes and when the bubbles stopped, that was my cue to head upstairs for my massage. There were two different waiting areas with couches, futons, and chairs for you to wait for your massage, or to chill out after having a massage. These areas had low lighting and typical spa instrumental background music. The massage itself was awesome. The massage therapist used a variety of techniques, including hot rocks and hot towels on my neck. I would recommend this spa if you are interested in massage or other more traditional services.

On my last day I went to the Five Senses Spa at the Country Inn for a whirlpool bath. I had a terrible experience, which started with them calling me at 12 to say I was late for my 11:30 appointment. My appointment was for 1:30 by all records I had. The receptionist was not there, and when someone did show up, they gave me the room where the tub water had been sitting since 11:30. They assured me it was still warm. The actual spa rooms were nice, but I would not bother going there again.

On my way home, I stopped at Frog Valley Artisans, and bought some jewelry and a metal star sculpture. Then I ate brunch at Panorama at the Peak (caution – website has sound), enjoying the locally sourced food and the fantastic view.

View from Panorama at the Peak

Cute Easter Items

Target has some cute Easter items, in case you wanted to do some last minute shopping (or pick up some stuff on sale after Easter).

$9.99 Bunny Mug. Set of 2.

$19.99 Bunny Apron and Pot Holder Set.

Bunnies Update

After about two weeks of getting to know each other, I finally moved Sadie into the same cage with Domino. She is growing fast and her fur is getting softer. She’s trying to get the hang of the litter box, but she’s not all there yet. I’ve only been peed on once though! Sadie had special baby food (fancy pellets that she was used to eating from the farm she was born on), but I had to start giving it to Domino too, because she would hop in his cage and try to eat his food and he would hop in her cage and gobble her food up. It looks like the farm food is more tasty to both of them, so I’m going to try to just buy that for both of them. Anyone want 25 pounds of bunny pellet food?

Bunnies are really funny when they learn a new skill they seem to obsess over it. Domino recently discovered that he can jump up on the dining room chairs, then hop from chair to chair without touching the floor. The chairs are pushed in to the table, so he’s protected from above and from below. I have to watch it though, because the chairs are fake leather and is he scratches them up, he’s dead meat!

My dad built custom baby gates for me to block off the stairs so the bunnies can no run around the living room. They love it because there is a big sectional sofa to hide under and behind and the carpet is easier for them to run on without slipping and sliding. Sadie will let me pick her up, so I put her on the couch with me and force her into cuddling. Then Domino wants to see what is going on, so he jumps up in my lap too. Seems like his fear of being left out is helping him overcome his fear of possibly being picked up!

Domino Video

Here’s a short video I shot with my phone of Domino eating a cherry and washing his face.