Life in a Time of Unrest

When we last left off, I had every intention of sharing with you my 30-day gym update. I had started the year talking about my intentions; then my meeting with a personal trainer through my work; followed by my first full week at the gym. And then COVID-19 hit America. I started working and going to school from home. I was a month behind on my masters project, due to my mothers illness at the start of the year, and honestly, not having a commute gave me an extra hour each day that made it easier to complete. It was not easier to try to finish without meeting with my advisor, or to not get to graduate (yet!), or to go from working on a bustling college campus to being alone all day with two cats.

I continued a modified workout routine that includes a lot of walking on the trails by my house, wrapped up my last semester of graduate school and was excited to take a rest but then Ahmaud Arbery was murdered. If you don’t want to think about politics or the state of the word, I recommend skipping down to the first heading. I hope that my transparency will be a source of comfort, not conflict.

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I have been working in public education for over a decade, not counting my work while in college. And I have been committed to being an educator in public education since high school. My work is intricately tied to eradicating systems of oppression – my focus is on untying the mental knots that keep us thinking through the dominant lens by changing the way we talk. I try really hard to embody compassion, understanding and joy.

Lately, I’ve been outwardly angry. And disappointed in myself for that.

More than anything, I feel blindsided by my white friends, who simply don’t know that their line of thinking is rooted in white supremacy. I don’t feel blindsided by white supremacy, but rather that they don’t know. That’s confusing to me and it is a good reminder that I carry my own ignorances:  I live in education, where every day people see the impact (good and bad) of systems, where we are nationally criticized all the time and respond by saying “we’ll do better,” and where people critically analyze sources before assuming they’re accurate.

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That’s my real world. But it isn’t the majority. Folx don’t know the ways that they fight against or give in to the system, turn their noses up at national criticism, and assume that something with a percentage is a fact. And that’s fine. It’s actually fine. I hope that I can make waves in education so that individuals moving forward will examine and assess things differently, but we’re all allowed to be different, and hold to different ideals. That is actually the beauty of America.

The shame of America is that its system reflects ideals that injure entire populations – ideals that are held and defended by its people. It’s hard to jive with freedom of thought (which is usually totally my jam!) when the ideals include people being murdered or children starving or one group being privileged over another.

And so I’m worn out. I’m worn out from 100 conversations a day in my personal and professional world that require me to think about what will happen if we X instead of Y. What population is impacted by Z and will that impact be negative? I am finding myself spouting off in small moments because my every day is so wrought with a lack of closure. But the truth is: that’s how it’s been since I picked education and my white burnout doesn’t help anything. And, at the end of the day, I picked it and I’m not going to leave it, so I have to take educations lead and say, “I’ll do better.”

I’m unwilling to agree to disagree (why do we love this phrase so much?) because that’s what got us here in the first place and, honestly, it feels really anti-American when you read our founding fathers. Instead, I’ll do better. And part of how I want to do that is by revising my 2020 intentions.

Let’s talk about doing better

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When I first wrote them, I broke my 2020 intentions up into three categories: physical, mental, emotional/spiritual health. Then, from there I did a breakdown of what practical steps I could take towards those things. I’m going to put them here with some notes about the steps I’ve taken or hope to take:

Physical Health
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Eating more plants and lean protein – Yo, I’ve got this really great lunch I’m going to share with you that’s almost 100% plant-based (the dressing isn’t…and no, it’s not a salad). I’m also opting for vegetarian whenever possible. Meat is nauseating to me lately. 
Walking for entire lunch break – Pretty much every day, unless it rains. If it’s raining during lunchtime, then I walk in the evening.
Gym three times a week – In Michigan, gyms have been closed since March (or April?). I think maybe I’ll do like an exercise week in the life kind of thing to share what I’ve been doing to stay sane while working from home.
Track progress here – totally haven’t been doing that, but get ready, folx! It’s coming!

Mental Health
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Keeping school organized – keeping school organized by being DONE!! I have some steps I’d like to take in my professional career that I’m not sure I’ll share here, but I think I could share how I organize and stay on top of them… We’ll see. This is a tricky spot. What would you like to see?
Managing Expectations – At the start of the COVID changes, D and I decided to do things 3-5 days at a time. We just couldn’t plan for things because we didn’t know what was going to happen and we were both up to our eyeballs in stress (when you’re the operations person and all of your operations go remote…). That’s been the best move for us. 
More-than-a-month meal plan – This is probably a post all in its own. We’ve had so many changes to food since I started working at home. I’ll do that. I’ll write a post on that.
Weekly routine – We’re starting this! D and I finally started talking through our week. We haven’t really been because what even is a week anymore? But, not having the structure was stressing us both out more than we realized, so we’re moving past three days at a time.

Emotional/Spiritual Health
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Embrace the weekly plan – ready for it!
Use the free counseling at work – Telehealth for the win!
Go to church more than twice a year – Y’all. I’m super on the fence about church. I’ve been a long time non-believer who loves to go to church and the general attitudes of Jesus (per the gospels), but man. The more I see people in abusive relationships defending their abusers and then yelling at me (or friends in general yelling at me) for not being more Christian the more I’m like, “effing patriarchy” because Jesus wasn’t about any of that. Do others have this problem?
Meditate – On it. I’d like to share a little about this too, if folx are interested.
Write for fun, not just for school – That’s actually why I’m back here. I hope it will help and keep me from being so angry.

I also have a little mental list going of some projects I’d like to take on around the house. I have really been thinking about where our money goes and who benefits from it and how to change that, but I think that’s probably going to be a different post since this one was VERY long.

Thanks for sticking with it. I appreciate feedback, thoughts and intentional criticism if you have some.

It’s going to get better. Or at least, we can figure out how to be better. That’s something within our realm of control.A. Rose (1)

 

Week One at the Gym

I shared in this post that I wanted to challenge myself to go to the gym 30 times between February 26 and April 8. I met with a personal trainer in mid-February who drew up a plan for me – 5 workouts a week: 2 upper body, 2 lower body, and 1 full body. The upper and lower body workouts are a little over an hour; the full body is a 2-mile run and time will vary.

I had originally planned to do a big post after 30 days, but by the third day, I needed something more than a lengthy goal, so I thought it would be good to check in after the first week and sum up what the first five days (does anyone remember that song The First Five Times?) were like.

February 26 – Day 1

Day 1

Day 1 was upper body. It started with a 20-minute run/walk and then moved on to mostly free weights. I felt energized and excited when I was done, but by 2pm I was basically toast. It was really hard to fight the urge for an additional cup of coffee.

I did not allow enough time for everything that was included, so there was a circuit of three things that I was supposed to do three times that I only did one time.

Summary: I need more time than I think because not feeling rushed is important to me when I’m learning something. 

February 27 – Day 2

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Day 2 was lower body, which still involved a lot of free weights. I’m really grateful that this plan doesn’t have me tied to a million machines. That morning, I noticed that I was, again, the only woman in the gym that early. Maybe because where I go is small? I was feeling a little achy from the day before, and I need to get better about allowing time to stretch both before and after.

The last exercise was dumbbell lunges and y’all… I barely made it through the first 10. I did a second rep of 10 and stopped, and didn’t do the third rep. I felt terrible for not completing it – when it was about not having enough time that made sense to me, but when it’s because my body can’t? That’s not something I’m used to. I felt kind of crumby for most of day two.

Summary: New disappointments are harder to navigate than ones I’m accustomed to.

February 28 – Day 3

Day 3

By day 3, I wasn’t entirely sure why I was still going. It’s been freezing cold here (in Michigan) and my car doesn’t heat up quickly so I leave for the gym freezing cold. I had class the night before so I didn’t get home until 9pm, which means I wasn’t even relaxed (let alone asleep) until around 10:30pm. That 5am wake up was basically impossible. I was grumpy and decided I was just going to do the full-body workout – the run.

Over the summer, I was running a little over a 5K (3.8 miles – the distance to my parents house) in 43 minutes. When I was at 15 minutes for 1 mile, I was ready to just throw the towel in.

Y’all this is the real – I’m giving it to you straight. Wouldn’t it be boring to hear another “exercising is the greatest thing ever! I love every minute of it!” I’m not going to lie. Working out does make me feel better but the process this day was crap.

Until I hit 1.5 miles. I told myself, “1.5 miles is 75%. If you got a 75% in your class, you would be doing all the extra credit in the world.” So, I kept going because I don’t actually like to do things half-assed. And it was a shitty half a mile, but the music was great and I felt better all day knowing that I had kept going.

Summary: When everything sucks, make sure you have good music because then it will suck less. Also, sleep is really important.

February 29 – Rest Day 1

Rest Day 1

Y’all, I couldn’t do Day 4 after what Day 3 was like. And I don’t mean that to be that I was giving up. I knew I wanted to keep going, but also that my mind wasn’t in the right spot for it. So, I decided on Day 3 to commit to at least one day of rest.

It was less rest-y than probably most days: my parents hired me to put in new flooring in their office. So, I pulled up carpet. And tack strip. And 10,000 staples. It was a workout all its’ own. I got home late (around 7pm) and tried to take some quiet moments for myself. My body was grateful for a long shower and some time in a big, comfy chair.

Summary: Rest is far more important than I usually allow it to be in my life. 

March 1 – Rest Day 2

Rest Day 2

On Day 3, I had committed to going back on Sunday (March 1), but the floors took longer than expected. It was cool to think about my body a little differently on that day. I could lift boxes and get up and down. I tried really hard on this rest day to think about my body as capable, rather than limited.

It was nice to do that on a day not in the gym because I think it set me up well for Day 4 – I highly recommend giving that a shot!

Summary: If I make it less about this idea of going to the gym and more about the idea of learning about my body, I have a better attitude.

March 2 – Day 4

Day 4 (1)

Day 4 felt like Day 1 in terms of my attitude. How crazy that I so seriously needed those rest days?? It was more mental than anything. I was doubting my abilities and feeling overwhelmed without realizing that was what I was feeling. Does that ever happen to you with things like this?

This was the second upper body workout and it also started with 20 minutes of running. I felt like I had better endurance on this day than I did on Day 1, which propelled me forward in a great way. The rest of the time was spent mostly with free weights and a handful of machines.

The only struggle I found myself having was that I wore leggings with no pockets, so I didn’t have a spot for my phone and headphones, so I carried them from spot to spot. Which was just annoying, not like, a serious problem.

I’m doing a no-spend week, but I think I might purchase one of those earbud cases that hooks to your keys when I have the chance to spend again. Or I might just actually purchase a second pair of leggings that have a pocket. I should update y’all on the status of my closet because there have been some major changes since the last time I posted about it.

Summary: I really like upper body workouts and never knew that before.

March 3 – Day 5

Day 5

Day 5 was a leg day and the day of my biggest revelation. I don’t hate leg day (I feel like that’s a thing that people talk about). I actually enjoy the sore feeling after. What I hate, and what I think probably caught up with me in that weird Day 2 & 3 space is that I need the run to get my brain moving.

I like the calculation of running for a length of time vs walking for a length of time. I like how lost in the music I get. Running is something that I know intimately and have done for most of my life. I  think I need it to boost my confidence because I’m doing so many things I don’t know. So, I’m going to add in 10-15 minutes of it on leg day because that’s what I need.

I discovered that my gym doesn’t have kettlebells so there were two exercises I couldn’t do but y’all – I killed those dumbbell lunges that I struggled with on day two. And by killed I mean I actually did all of them. I didn’t necessarily do them well, but I did them.

Summary: Add in something familiar when you’re doing something new or else your confidence will be shot.

What else?

The number one thing I took away from this week is that I can’t frame it in terms of “good” and “bad.” I went to the gym. I went. That’s actually enough. If I had gone and walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes, that’s 10 minutes more than what I was doing before.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway

That’s it. There are 100 things in a day that I come across that I’m “not good” at. If I spent all my time thinking about them I would never leave my house. And if I told you each day about the 100 things I came across that I am “good” at, I would be the most annoying person ever.

So instead, I went. I went to the gym and I did these things that matter to me because they keep my heart healthy and help me manage stress.

Keeping it on those terms makes it easier to go and to keep going.

I did lose 1.6 lbs and I actually do think it’s important to talk about the number because the number connects to heart and whole-body health. But I don’t think I’ll weigh myself again until April 8 (the 30-day mark) because I have a history of caring too much about that number. You’ve got to know your limits, not just in the gym but out of it as well. 

Oh! AND! I’m making this little playlist of the songs that are resonating with me the most each day if you want to follow along. It’s definitely made it more fun to have music to lean in to.A. Rose (1)

2020 Intentions

One of my dearest friends referred to her plans for the near year as “Intentions” rather than “Resolutions” and I find that phrasing much more appealing. I actually “resolve” to do many things throughout the course of the year and, as a result, I’ve always had a hard time setting any “New Years Resolutions.” This feels much more accurate.

Physical Health

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The first bit surrounds the idea of physical health. In the last few years, you may remember, I had my gallbladder removed, experimented with an elimination diet and sought peace surrounding the idea of eating in new and different ways. I’ve had an easier process than many individuals, but I am still learning – always learning!

Last summer I ran from my apartment (3.28 miles) to my parents in 42 minutes. My goal for the start of summer is to be able to get there in 32 minutes. I need to take some weight off in order to do that, so I’ve switched up my meal plan, have been trying to walk for my entire lunch break, and go to the gym three times a week. I met with a personal trainer through a really cool program at the university I work with and she’s creating a plan for me. I think I’ll try to keep a record of it here or on Instagram.

Summary:
Eating more plants and lean protein
Walking for entire lunch break
Gym three times a week
Track progress here

Mental Health

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If you’ve been here for a while, you know that some of how I keep myself from having a total breakdown from overload is by being really super organized. You might also know that I think being organized doesn’t save you from the crap life throws at you. This semester, I’ve come up with a couple strategies that I think I’ll detail once I’ve used them for longer. I’m sticking with the class management technique that I talked about here. I’ve also started meal planning for more than a month at a time and I’m working on creating a weekly routine.

Summary:
Keeping school organized
Managing Expectations
More-than-a-month meal plan
Weekly routine

Emotional / Spiritual Health

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I really wish this wasn’t my most challenging category, but it is.
I could have lumped this in with mental health, but I like things in threes, so here we are.
What I’ve come to figure out is that none of it is separate. That hour-long lunch break walk is as much about physical health as it mental and spiritual. Creating a weekly routine is what will help me take a sabbath day. I want to challenge myself to meditate and do yoga more. There are so many things that are about the spirit that I put to the bottom of the list. And so my real intention is to stop doing that. Here’s my little plan for that:

Summary
Embrace the weekly plan
Use the free counseling at work
Go to church more than twice a year
Meditate
Write for fun, not just for school

Summary of the summaries

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I’m working my way back to blogging regularly and I hope I can use it as a way to hold myself accountable through the last stages of my graduate program. There’s this myth that your education needs to be this insufferably hard, unkind dragon that you have to slay. I don’t think that needs to be the case, and so I’m going to make sure it isn’t.

A. Rose (1)

Quiet Spaces | A Year in Review

It’s been over a year since I posted. 13 months.

I couldn’t tell you the all of what has happened in the last 13 months, but I can make a vague attempt.

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The 2018 holidays came and went. My father was sick and my second oldest sister, M, came to visit. Time moved faster than I could keep up with. I started a new job a week into a new school year.

January 2019 (1)

Hat Pattern (crochet)| Similar coat | Coveralls | Boots

The Polar Vortex swept through the part of Michigan I live in and the second week of my new job was spent snow blowing my parents’ driveway after clearing their roof. The lowest this area reach was a windchill of -20. The combo of a new job and two classes meant that I spent a lot of January exhausted and sleeping a lot.

I did find that being outside – even though it was below freezing! – did make the winter more bearable. And I mentally committed to being outside as much as possible, regardless of the weather.

February 2019

In addition to committing to being outside more, D and I also committed to spend more time together laughing. With both of us working full time, me in school part time and him working part time, our time together often turns into what feels like managing business – schedules and bills and list of tasks. While we’re together because we handle those together well, we’re also together because we really like each other. Once a month we spend more than the typically dinner-date-night might cost and ride Go Karts or take a drive up north – something a little different than the usual.march-2019-1.png

Similar Faux Deer Fur Blanket |Light Blue Blanket | Similar Cream Colored Blanket| Tennis Shoes  | Favorite Socks

In March, the snow lifted and the weather warmed up enough to be able to be outside more. I began to realize that I wasn’t sleeping well and focused my energy on making my bedroom as comfortable as possible. I bought some faux fur on sale at JoAnn Fabrics and sewed it around a $4 pillow I got a Walmart. It’s amazing how quick and easy this was – and much cheaper than it would have cost to buy it.

I also decided – for the first time ever – to purchase tennis shoes / sneakers that were actually specific to my feet, rather than $20 grocery store ones. Y’all. I’m never going back again. These are the most amazing shoes ever.

April 2019 (1)

The shoes took me through the trails by my apartment, and then the trails that lead to my parents house a few miles away, down bike trails, to new cities. At the end of the school year I told D I wanted to spend the summer getting my money’s worth out of the shoes, so we started the process of seeing all the lighthouses in Michigan. By the end of summer, we had only seen six, but everything else we saw made it completely worth it.

May 2019

Spice Rack | Pitcher| Earring Holder | Best Price Earring Pack

I tried to spend the summer both playing as much as possible and organizing as much as possible before the school year came again. My best friend and her kids spent a good amount of the summer exploring woods and having picnics – basically heaven.

I got this spice rack so that I could move the spices off the bakers rack in the pantry to create more space. Holy smokes has it made a difference! I’ve also noticed that I’m more likely to throw away expired spices because I actually look at what I have, rather than just letting things I don’t use often get pushed to the back and buried.

I’ve also become completely hooked on tassel earrings so I bought this little earring rack and it quickly helped clear off my end table. Both this earring rack and the spice rack were under $15 and super quick ways to clear away clutter.

June 2019

One of the hardest parts of being not in Florida is being way from the Ocean. D’s way of managing that is to put me near water as often as possible. This summer, we spent a lot of time in his hometown, about an hour away from where we live. It’s a small lake community surrounded by farms and where he actually lived backed up to a national park. We went there to go swimming, hiking, mudding and picnicking. We’ve been talking about going camping there this summer – I’m totally open to any recommendations for tents! We’d love to get one this winter, rather than waiting until the summertime.

July 2019

We followed in the same vein all summer and learned how to kayak. Folks, let me tell you if you need to work through communication issues in your relationship, just get in a double kayak with your partner. I think D and I learned more in a four-hour ride than we have in four years of being together. It was amazing. We took six trips this summer, but the first was the most memorable.

D got super into bike riding this summer too. I like to ride bikes, but I would rather walk / run. So, he spent a lot of time riding and took me with him only for particularly spectacular trips. The trail pictured above isn’t far from our apartment.

August 2019 (1)

Both D and I have birthdays in August and so we decided that we would take a trip up north. In Michigan, “up north” refers to anywhere that’s more than an hour and a half from the big city of Grand Rapids. We stayed at a delightful place called Caberfe and our only real goal was to get to Traverse City. We hiked around the Pine River, kayaked the Crystal River, climbed Sleeping Bear Dunes and crossed the Mackinac Bridge. It was an amazing three days, packed full of more adventure than either of could have anticipated and I am itching for this summers’ trip!

September 2019 (1)

The week school started, my sister, M, came to visit, which overlapped with my college best friend coming to visit. I worked while they were both here, but managed to get out on the river with both of them more than once. It was a beautiful end to the summer but playtime overlapping with school was much was a major challenge. Just before my sister arrived, my mother broke her shoulder. It was a jumble of things and I’m only just now feeling like I’ve caught up. I think much of the jumbled feeling had to do with resisting winter.

Last year, I did a better job of embracing it. This year, I still don’t believe it’s happening to me because I just want to be on the river.

October 2019 (1)

I got sick in October – just your standard cold that knocks you on your ass for a week and lingers for another two. Ugh. So I spent a lot of it in bed, with Javier and my homework. At the start of the school year, D and I planned to take a Friday off at the mid-point of each semester. We rented a car and just drove up to Glen Arbor, MI for lunch. We ate at the Western Avenue Grill, in front of a fireplace. We stopped in a town called Arcadia just for the view. It was a gloomy Friday, but neither of us cared. It was nice to get a little time together where my head wasn’t wrapped up in school.

November 2019 (1)

There were many amazing November things but none really hold a candle to registering for graduation. That’s right folks, assuming all goes well when I submit my problem statement for review this Sunday – and barring any emergencies – I will be graduating April 25, 2020.

December 2019

I came down with the flu after Thanksgiving and missed a week of work and added in a hospital visit (for fluids) the first week of December. While I was sick, my father started to get confused. My mother thought he was having a stroke, so she took him in. It ended up being that he had major blockage in his Cortaid artery, which has since been cleared. It was scary and the surgery was two Mondays before Christmas. The holiday was a little off and we actually still have Christmas presents to give out and the tree is still up. All things in time.

It’s good to review the year. I haven’t had as many spaces for reflection as I might have hoped.

A friend of mine recommended creating an “After Graduation List,” to keep me going through my final project. On that list is developing this blog into something meaningful and helpful. So, I’ll be back again in a month, and another month and then April. And then after that, I’ll be back with much greater frequency.

A. Rose (1)

Updating the House List

A few months back, I made a list of everything I wanted to accomplish with my sweet little apartment. As a refresher, this is what the floor plan looks like:

floor plan

I gave a little update here, about where I’m at with the original list. Realistically, though, a lot has changed since creating that list: my work, my daily schedule, etc. So, the other day, I was getting ready to leave the house, and I snapped some pictures of the spaces that need some serious love.

 

Clearly, it was dark out and some of these photos just really aren’t great, but you get the general idea: chaos.

I spent some time with these pictures, and my list and I decided I needed to think about it differently. Some things needed to go, and some things needed to be more deeply examined. So, here’s the old list and where I was at:

  1. Talk to sisters about coffee table
  2. D – wtf is with this bean bag chair??
  3. Find home for reusable bags
  4. Bed frame to moms house
  5. Hang towel hooks in bedroom
  6. Find new home for donations
  7. COUCH
  8. Arrange bedside table
  9. Lower super high shower shelf
  10. Revamp system for online selling – I’m just done with selling things online, I think.
  11. Get a rug – $45
  12. Refinish coffee table – $20
  13. Get Bedroom Art – in process
  14. Replace the trunk with a dresser that can hold DVDs – in process
  15. Make desk a workable space
  16. Move off kitchen table
  17. Window treatment for sliding glass doors
  18. Reorganize Bathroom closet
  19. Upgrade the trunk
  20. Reupholster dining room chairs – meh. I don’t really need to do this…

But a new list is forming.

“Study”

I call the little nook where my desk is my Study or Office (sorry for the horrible photo quality – I took these at like, 5am).

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Some things here are great: I played musical desks with my parents and ended up with their much bigger desk. It’s working well but there’s still stuff everywhere, including that bean bag chair (not pictured) I still haven’t talked to D about.

The desk chair was at my mothers secretary when I was little. My sisters and I played on it. It’s really… not that comfortable to do homework in. I don’t want to get rid of it, because I would like to have it in my real house someday, but I want somewhere more comfortable to sit.

That pile of sparkly notebooks is for my classes this semester. They pretty much need to be at the desk, but they don’t need to be piled all crazy-like in the corner. I think that when I finish the TV Stand I can move the trunk under the desk as a combo foot stool / school work organizer

  1. Talk to D about that bean bag chair.
  2. Find home for desk chair
  3. Purchase more comfortable desk chair
  4. Find home for school binders/books when not in use.

Family Room

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I found this much better picture than the one above. Even though it’s been a few months, this is a pretty accurate presentation of what this looks like.

Some items from the above list are staying on here. I think I want to upholster the coffee table though, rather than just refinishing it. D isn’t in love with the idea, but I think it could be really cool.  I also want some art for above the television, and I’m not sure about those iron chairs.

  1. Get a rug – $45
  2. Refinish / upholster coffee table – $40
  3. Replace the truck with a dresser that can hold DVDs – in process
  4. Window treatment for sliding glass doors
  5. Upgrade the trunk
  6. Art for above the TV
  7. Make an iron chair decision

Bathroom

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What is even happening here? Towels are folded all crazy. Bins are overflowing, there’s a crochet project at the bottom. What. the. heck. I realized that I was saying “Reorganize” but I wasn’t breaking that down into smaller pieces that make it easier.

  1. Reorganize bathroom closet
    1. Make better use of under the sink space
    2. Consider putting towels out, not in linen closet
    3. Purchase additional bins to better sort
    4. THROW THINGS AWAY
    5. Dedicated crochet spot?

Bedroom

 

So, in the summertime, this is what the bedroom looks like: no quilt. I don’t actually care because it’s too hot to have a big quilt on there. But I’d like to warm up the bed a little. There’s a lot of blue and white happening.

There’s another crochet project on the ground. Pj’s on the foot board. Sketches of actual art hung with push pins. Those dressers are from my moms closet. And those metal lamps are hers and don’t really work with the space. And there are two chairs on either side of the tallboy that just collect…things.

  1. Warm up the bed – brown blanket? Different color sheets?
  2. Spot for Pj’s – maybe train myself to hang by towels
  3. Get Bedroom Art – in process
    1. Finish paintings
    2. Make frames
  4. New end tables – I want to build these, but need to assess what we really need.
  5. New lamps
  6. Spot for quilt in the summer
  7. Home for D’s robe

The Storage Closet

I like, don’t even want to talk about this closet.

Ugh. But I probably should.

Ugh. Seriously, I stopped writing this for a while because I just don’t want to think about it.

The Pantry

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The pantry actually works really well. It looks crazy because there’s a thousand small things on it. And there’s stuff on the floor. I got a Costco membership and my little pantry isn’t really built for Costco, I guess.

I know that one of the problems is that things are stacked on other things because the shelves are wire. I think I could easily solve this by lining them with foamcore, or something similar. I also think it would help to put certain things (pastas, rices) into canisters that could be stacked and, honestly, I’d like the chips up top to be in big baskets. There are two rows of snacks like that and I’m 5″2′. My rice cakes often get buried behind D’s Doritos and I end up purchasing things I don’t need as a result.

Now that I’m thinking about it, that would be smart to do with the cereal too. I don’t eat cereal, but I’ve noticed that D will buy a bunch of one kind from Costco and then one smaller box of something sweet from the grocery store. So, probably a cereal canister too.

And now that I’m looking at it, I’m realizing that my spices have way over-grown the small-sized baking sheet they’re on. I want to be able to hang something to hold them all, but I haven’t figured that out yet.

  1. Line shelves with foamcore
  2. Purchase canisters for dry goods
  3. Baskets for chips/snacks
  4. Purchase cereal canister
  5. Figure out spices

Okay, so this isn’t really that many things, it just feels overwhelming. This is why we write things down, people. 🙂

The Storage Part

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So, the vacuum and Christmas Tree pretty much have to be there because there isn’t another home for them. Which blows. You can also kind of see that there are boxes in front of the vacuum – that stack is a flat of coke, a box of protein shakes, and a box of single-serving nuts. This is how the pantry complicates things.

There’s also a bag of pop cans. In Michigan, you pay an extra $0.10 for every can / bottle you buy, but then you submit them to the bottle return and get your $0.10 back, so we hold on to the bottles. There’s another bag in the coat closet that’s in the process of being filled. I’m not pleased with any of this. I think I need to either start taking the cans to the store every time there’s a full bag and saving the bottle slips, or I need to ask D to take them to his shop so that they aren’t stored at home.

On that low shelf, there’s foods I’ve canned, which are stacked nicely. That’s fine. But then there are weird like, pasta jars with a humidifier on top of them, next to a printer.

I need to toss some stuff.

And make a shelf.

The same thing goes for the next shelf. There’s a stack of board games, which is great, but then it’s all crazy. I know part of the problem is the pile of stuff in front of the storage space, but shelves actually would help a lot.

  1. Figure out cans.
  2. THROW THINGS AWAY
  3. Build shelves

The List

So I’ve got my list for each room. I’m going to follow the same process I used to organize the last list and put this in priority order. Here’s the new end result, with the items from the original list in green:

  1. Replace the truck with a dresser that can hold DVDs – in process
  2. Find home for school binders/books when not in use
  3. Get Bedroom Art – in process
    1. Finish paintings
    2. Make frames
  4. Talk to D about that bean bag chair.
  5. Reorganize bathroom closet
    1. Make better use of under the sink space
    2. Consider putting towels out, not in linen closet
    3. Purchase additional bins to better sort
    4. THROW THINGS AWAY
    5. Dedicated crochet spot?
  6. Warm up the bed
  7. Spot for PJ’s
  8. Figure out cans in Storage Closet
  9. Throw things away in the storage closet
  10. Line shelves with foamcore
  11. Home for D’s Robe
  12. Refinish / upholster coffee table – $40
  13. Build shelves for Storage Closet
  14. Make an Iron Chair decision
  15. Art for above the TV
  16. Spot for quilt in the summer
  17. Purchase canisters for dry goods
  18. Baskets for chips/snacks
  19. Purchase cereal canister
  20. Figure out spices
  21. Find home for desk chair
  22. Get a rug – $45
  23. Window treatment for sliding glass doors
  24. Upgrade the trunk
  25. Purchase more comfortable desk chair
  26. New end tables
  27. New lamps

It feels a little overwhelming! But I think it will go quicker than I expect. I’ll keep you posted!

A. Rose (1)

Quick Fix: Towel Hooks

This post is part of my Quick Fix Friday Series. The Quick Fix Friday Series is comprised of cheap and simple tricks to make your life easier. I started this series because I often feel like I have no time to make a change in my apartment, and I wanted to remind myself that it’s true. I also have realized that while there is a plethora of information about quick fixes when you own a house, that isn’t necessarily true when you live in an apartment. Each of these tasks takes under five minutes.

You can see the others in the series by following these links:
Couch Cover
Space Swap
Reusable bags storage solution
Shower Shelf


With the first week of school underway, I am craving all projects that take a really limited amount of time – Ha! Anyone else in that same boat?

That’s why I’m excited to share with you a simple tiny-apartment change that I made this week. I talked in this post about my dreams for my little apartment. One of the little things I talked about was needing to find space for my towel to hang dry because of this situation:

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Super classy…

So, there was this spot on the other side of the closet, similar to where my robes are hung (to the right of the doors in the image above). It was perfect. But it has been home to a bed frame I borrowed from my mom that had been there for like, a year, because even though I see her most weekends, getting a bed frame to my mom in my little Chevy Malibu is…complicated and easy to forget about.

I wrote it down a thousand different places, and finally asked if I could put it in her car one day when she picked me up to go to the Farmers Market. Brilliant!

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Now, I have the perfect little spot for two towel hooks – one for my body and one for my hair!

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I hung these Command Hooks adjacent to each other, since that provided more space than placing them next to each other.

When I take my morning shower, I usually leave my body towel to hang over the door until I’m just about ready to leave, then I hang it on the hook. That way, it isn’t super moist and doesn’t get all mucky quickly.

I have to tell you, even though I wrote this super positive post about why it’s okay to chill out and take your time with things, it feels SO good to have gotten this done!

Here’s a little update of where I’m at on this list as of today:

  1. Talk to sisters about coffee table
  2. D – wtf is with this bean bag chair??
  3. Find home for reusable bags
  4. Bed frame to moms house
  5. Hang towel hooks in bedroom
  6. Find new home for donations
  7. COUCH
  8. Arrange bedside table
  9. Lower super high shower shelf
  10. Revamp system for online selling
  11. Get a rug – $45
  12. Refinish coffee table – $20
  13. Get Bedroom Art – in process
  14. Replace the truck with a dresser that can hold DVDs – in process
  15. Make desk a workable space
  16. Move off kitchen table
  17. Window treatment for sliding glass doors
  18. Reorganize Bathroom closet
  19. Upgrade the trunk
  20. Reupholster dining room chairs

Phew! Truthfully, this list has actually gotten longer over the last few months. Once  I have it mentally sorted out, I’ll put it all down on electronic paper for you!

What kinds of little, inexpensive projects have you done recently? I would love to hear or see what has made your life easier.

A. Rose (1)

What’s with All the Questions?

You may have noticed that I end nearly every post with series of questions, asking you what you would do/ what you think/ how you do things.

I have a love/hate relationship with this concept – sometimes when I read a blog, it feels like someone scraping from comments; and sometimes I need someone to push me to that next step with a concept and the question does it for me.

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I started this blog back up because I want to share with the world; but sharing doesn’t just go one way.

I don’t know if you’re this way, too, but I have a hard time being vulnerable. No matter how many Berne Brown TEDTalks I watch or books I read, there is still this part of me that struggles to ask for help, admit my faults, and listen to the wisdom of others.

I don’t mean to need to be right. Maybe it’s just youngest child syndrome. Maybe it’s insecurity.

Family

Those tiniest of feet are mine

So as I’ve been thinking about the kinds of intentions I want to put into this incredibly public space, I’ve decided to use it as practice for the rest of life. I try to think through the process of each post and ask the questions that I don’t have the answer to right now, so that I can lean on the world to find them.

It’s helping. In case you were wondering. And I really would like to know if this is hard for you too, and what kinds of things you do to practice being vulnerable.

A. Rose (1)

 

Learning to Can, Part 2

This post is part of a series on teaching myself home canning. I decided to do this series in part because the reflection that’s part of learning is really interesting to me, and because I think it’s amazing the things we can teach ourselves when we’re dedicated to it!

Learning to Can, Part 2

So I shared a little while ago that my interest in home canning was connected to both health and a class.

I got this book and started taking notes. But as I tend to do, I got partway through the reading and just started doing it myself.

If you’re interested in home canning, I highly recommend that you don’t go that route because you can screw things up in a dangerous way. I realized that once I’d already kind of started doing things and had to go back to my original plan.

I picked up what’s called a water bath canner at a hardware store. I recommend getting the kit because a) it’s cheaper and b) it’s – legit – everything you need.

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It turns out that home canning is super easy. Basically you fill up a bunch of jars with natural foods that you’ve made, boil them and then wait until you hear them seal. That’s it.

The tricky part is cooking large volumes and knowing the correct duration to process them for (“process” here means heat in the water bath canner). This is why a book is helpful.

I learned how to make Bread and Butter Pickles for my first round of canning!

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Y’all – they were not hard at all. You just chop cucumbers and onions, mix them in a bowl with pickling salt and cover them in ice for a few hours. Then, you mix up some vinegar and spices, bring it to a boil, add the cucumber/onion mix and voila! Pickles!

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I’ll keep you posted on what other kinds of things I test out. This summer I’m hoping to make a red spaghetti sauce, a jam and some apple butter.

D’s brother-in-law has a garden growing, so I want to learn how to preserve things like onions, carrots and green beans.

Seriously though, if you have a little garden, this is totally worth learning. I think I spent about $40 on the canning supplies, and jars are about $9 for 12 jars. But think – that’s 12 jars of homemade, organic goodness. Totally worth it, if you ask me.

What kinds of summer projects did you have? Did any of them turn out to be easier than you thought they’d be? How about harder? What were you most surprised to learn about yourself when you took the project on?

A. Rose (1)

Quick Fix Friday: Shower Shelf Dilemma

This post is part of my Quick Fix Friday Series. The Quick Fix Friday Series is comprised of cheap and simple tricks to make your life easier. I started this series because I often feel like I have no time to make a change in my apartment, and I wanted to remind myself that it’s true. I also have realized that while there is a plethora of information about quick fixes when you own a house, that isn’t necessarily true when you live in an apartment. Each of these tasks takes under five minutes.

Copy of QFF_ Trading Spaces

The funniest thing about this Quick Fix Series is that each of these things only take a couple minutes, but I never do them.

I mean, obviously I’m doing them because I’m writing about them, but I’ve had lowering the shower shelf on my “to-do” list for months and it wasn’t until my bathroom ceiling started to leak and had to be repaired that I bothered to do this.

Getting this fixed was a week long process, since I’m a renter. It was a major problem, with quite a bit of mold involved. Talking through this with a rental company, and ensuring things went correctly was complex, especially trying to keep my feelings in check. Would a post about that be interesting to you all? #rentallife

This is how it goes for me, sometimes: the quicker the fix, the longer it takes me to do it unless something really dramatic happens.

You can see in the picture above just how high that top shelf is. You can kind of see conditioner peeking out from the second shelf. It’s fine. But it’s also not great. So, when the leak happened, I pulled everything out of the bathroom and stored it in my bedroom.

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This was a great time to do a quick adjustment to the shelves, since I had already removed it from the shower.

If you’ve never done this before, or if you got here because you were trying to figure out how to assemble your shower shelf, this is SUPER easy. You start by lifting the shelf and back ring.

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I used my nails to move that little rubber piece down about 18″

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Then I pressed the black ring and shelf back down, on to the rubber ring.

It turns out, that little corner spot that holds the shelf also holds a great deal of gunk. #goodtoknow

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So I gave the tub a quick scrub because ew, and then put the shelf back in!

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So. Easy.

Then, I put all the items back on the shelves, after clearing out anything that was empty.

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Yes, that’s dish soap in my shower. D works on trucks all day and the only thing that gets his hands clean is the incredible duck-washing power of Dawn. #seriously

Now, when the curtain is closed, you can’t see the conditioner anymore!

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Glorious!

Seriosuly: why did I wait so long?

I think sometimes that the reason I can’t bring myself to do these things is because I’m a renter, and in my mind, I’ll just be moving again in 9 months so why bother? This is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in over a decade, so I’m still adjusting to the idea of making even very little changes.

What kinds of things do you find that you don’t do because you’re a renter? & What kinds of things do you despite the fact that you’re a renter? #teachme

A. Rose (1)

Mind / Body / Spirit

I’ve been wanting to write down my thoughts on the connection between the mind, body and spirit for a long time, but I haven’t been able to find the words lately.

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I’m a pretty dedicated user of the HeadSpace app, I’ve been doing yoga since I was 15 and I work really hard at loving my body for the life it gives me.

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I started out thinking I’d like to write a post about what I believe the connection between the two is, how to facilitate it and what to do when you fall off-course. But, I decided that instead of that, I’d rather hear from you: what do you do to calm down? What provides balance in your life? What little things are part of your day that without them you would be struggling?

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For me, some of those things include: meditation, yoga, being barefoot, making lists, singing and laughing. I’ve been trying to focus more on being balanced. I tend to take on too much and then later wonder why I’m overwhelmed (how many of you can relate?). So I’m interested in hearing from you. Let me know in the comments how you stay balanced.

A. Rose (1)