Posted by Jim on Nov 21st, 2013
Nov 21

I’ve been cellaring beer for five years this month, and all that time, I’ve used one wooden cabinet with particle board shelves and a door and many cardboard boxes to store my collection. This was not an ideal way to view my beers. I had to consult a spreadsheet to see what I had. With our current long-term finishing of our basement, we’ve taken apart the partially completed room which included the aforementioned cabinet. This gave me the opportunity to finally purchase some decent shelving for my beers. Today I ordered a 5ft steel wireframe shelving unit from Home Depot. It only has two moveable shelves, so I also ordered an extra shelf to maximize storage space based upon the heights required by beer bottles. This should give me plenty of space to store my bottles. Some of my verticals may take up a lot of space; I’m not sure if I’ll display them or leave them in cases. This included six years of Anchor Christmas Ale 6-packs and five years of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 12-packs (I’ll add a sixth year as soon as it comes out).

The shelves should arrive the first week of December. Once assembled and stocks, I’ll post some pictures. I’ll want to document it right away, for once my collection is sitting on the shelves, I’ll be more likely to drink it. How long will what I have now last? I wonder if this will be the beginning of a new chapter in my beer cellaring, or the beginning of its end? I’ll have to be good about adding new items to the collection as I drink my older bottles.

Happy Birthday Luigi!

Posted by Jim on Jan 5th, 2010
Jan 5

Luigi relaxing in his favorite chair/water dish.

Two years ago today, Nissa and I took a drive to H.A.R.T. in Cumberland and came home with a new friend.  Luigi was a stray found on the streets of Lewiston who had been living at the shelter since September.  When we met him, one of the volunteers opened up the binder with all of the cats listed in it, and Luigi walked over and sat on it.  We decided that this outgoing young man was the guy for us!  The vet estimated his age to be between 1 and 2 years, as his actual birthday is unknown.  So today, we celebrate his 3-4 year birthday.  As a special treat, he’ll get some extra food for dinner, and probably a saucer or two of skim milk.  Adopting shelter cats has been one of the most rewarding things we have done; I highly recommend that anyone with a little extra love to give consider adopting a cat.

LOL Analytics

Posted by Jim on Apr 16th, 2008
Apr 16

I was checking out my web stats to see what kinds of search terms bring people to my site.  Surprisingly, one was jim flanagan cats.  Even more surprising is that my site is the second result for this search term.  I’m also glad that someone stumbled upon my site by looking for an autograph of the Singing Nun.

In other news, Nissa and I are still looking for a house to buy.  We found one we liked that we put a low-ball offer on.  The people selling the house also received another offer the same which must have been higher than ours, for they decided to negotiate with the other prospective buyers.  We’ll be looking a three houses in South Portland later today, one of which looks very promising.  I hope we can find something soon.  I’d really like to get out of our apartment when the lease ends on May 31.

Realtor Expedition to Brunswick

Posted by Jim on Mar 22nd, 2008
Mar 22

Nissa and I have signed a buyers’ representation agreement with a Realtor and spent a couple hours in Brunswick this afternoon looking at four homes.  The four properties appeared good on paper, but only one of the four would we consider living in.  We’re not about to make an offer on it or anything; we’re also looking in South Portland and Westbrook and want to see what’s out there.  It is reassuring to view a home that we could see ourselves in for the next few years.  The Raltor will keep us updated on any Brunswick properties that come onto the market and fit our budget, plus go over what’s available in South Portland and Westbrook and e-mail us with some listings.  From there, Nissa and I will plan another trip to visit some potential purchases.

Future Planning, the Home and Kids edition

Posted by Jim on Mar 12th, 2008
Mar 12

Nissa and I are still in the midst of purchasing our first home, dealing with mortgage brokers.  While looking at some financial information today, I found myself researching college savings plans.  We don’t even have plans for having children yet, but it already looks like we’re off to a great start for our future children’s college savings.  Maine is one of the best states to live in when it comes to saving for college.  State tax laws allow for a state tax deduction of up to $250 per beneficiary, no matter which state’s program we decide to use.  Plus, we aren’t limited to using just one state’s plan.   So, we could begin investing in Maryland’s College Investment Plan and take advantage of their low fees, low minimum contributions, and great funds managed by T. Rowe Price and count $250 per year towards our Maine state taxes.  At the same time, we can take advantage of Maine’s NextGen College Fund and reap the benefits of being an in-state resident by getting grants and matching contributions.  That’s like free money!  Take that Matthew Lesko!

There is a lot more great information out there about college savings.  Check out How Stuff Works’ guide to 529 Plans for a good overview.  Then use the wisdom of the folks at Kiplinger to find the best 529 Plan for your needs.

In other news, we met with a loan officer from Nissa’s credit union (Navy Federal) on Monday.  They offered us a great deal based on our current financial situation situation.  We don’t have enough money on hand to make a 20% down payment on they kind of house we want, but Navy Federal has some great 100% financing programs.  The money we had saved for a smaller down payment can now be used to pay some origination fees and points on the loan to get us a great interest rate (lower than my parents’ rate, I’ve discovered).  Plus, since Navy Federal is so large, they don’t require mortgage insurance!  That’s a savings of $135 a month right there.  If we were to get a loan for $180,000, we’d have a monthly mortgage payment (including taxes and home insurance) that is slightly higher than our current rent yet still within our budget.  That would get us a nice house that we’d actually own!  No more lying in bed grumbling that the heat isn’t on, we’d control it.  It would be ours.  We’re hoping to meet with a realtor Nissa knows sometime next week to begin searching for our home.

The Road Home

Posted by Jim on Feb 27th, 2008
Feb 27

Nissa and I have been discussing buying a home for a long time. We’re now going ahead and hope to have a place of our own by the summer. In the first two weeks of February we attended a first-time home buyers course offered through hoMEworks. This past Saturday we met with a representative from my credit union, who referred us to a local mortgage company that they arrange their home loans though. We have an appointment with the lender on Friday morning. Since it is wise to shop around for the best deal (which isn’t necessarily the lowest interest rate), we also have an appointment with a lender from Nissa’s credit union on Saturday morning. We are hoping to get a loan that will cover the kind of house we can both be happy with. Each of us has good credit, but also a bit of debt in the form of auto and student loans. I think we are being reasonable with our home buying expectations. We certainly aren’t going to look for who will loan us the most money and then buy as much as we possibly can. We’ve determined how much money we’d like to spend each month on the house (the mortgage, home insurance, heat and taxes) and we’ll find a home that fits that budget. I’m quite confident that the amount we will qualify for will more than cover the amount we are willing to spend on a house.

Being a first time home buyer isn’t easy, but luckily there is a lot of great information out there. The home buyers course I linked to above offered a wealth of information, as well as some contacts in the banking/real estate/title law fields. The Maine State Housing Authority page has a lot of information for first time home buyers as well. I’ve begun to read the Get Rich Slowly blog for economic advice that goes beyond the home buying process. There is also good advice available the The Motley Fool. Lastly, we’ve had some fun looking at what homes are available through Realtor.com and Zillow.com.