Meal Planning for Two

I’ve started posting on Instagram what I eat each day. I’m learning a lot about myself through this process and I intend to write a post about it soon, because I think it will help me a lot in my quest for balance and understanding.

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I’ve spent a lot of time leaning about how people meal plan for their families, written by parents who work (usually their work is blogging) and raise their kids who are heavily involved in their schools and sports, etc. Two people who work full-time and don’t raise children and don’t play sports have a meal plan that looks really different and so I thought it might help people to see what that looks like.

Why meal plan?

Yeah, I get this question a lot. Especially because there’s just two of us.

What was happening is that I was making our plan for the week on Saturday morning before I went grocery shopping. This resulted in us eating the same 4 meals every week, getting bored, eating out and throwing away what was in the fridge. It was like we were wasting double money because of the cost of eating out and the cost of what we were throwing out.

How I got started

So, I sat down one day and made a google doc of all our meals and sorted them in a way that made sense to me. I didn’t get crazy detailed, I just tried to write down as many thing as I know we like, not including things like Hamburger Helper or frozen lasagna (two of D’s favorites – I promise I’ll tell you why I’m just a second). Then, I grabbed a paper calendar and added five meals for each week.

The reason I only did five is because our life is probably differently spontaneous than the people I was learning to meal plan from. So if our friends called us to go swimming 15 minutes before work let out, then we didn’t end up throwing away a day of planned food by the end of the week. Having two days of wiggle room worked really well for us, and in the summer months I usually only plan four days, rather than five, because we tend to wander to friends houses more or eat a salad or sometimes just have ice cream for dinner.

What do you save?

It’s almost 100% about emotional labor for me. By the end of the work day, I’m so riddled with decision fatigue that I’m like, let’s just eat popsicles because they’re what’s in front of my face. So in addition to not planning well, I didn’t have a ton of mental ability to switch it up when it came time to cook. This way, I make a ton of decisions once a month and only ever take things away – if dinner at a friends gets scheduled, then I take a meal away. That’s it. Sometimes I even make my grocery list while I make the meal plan. When I’m super on my game, I buy all the meat and dry goods in bulk at the start of the month and just buy produce as we go because, again, less thinking.

There’s definitely money being saved. Partly because of the bulk shopping but mostly because we were throwing away about $20 in produce and spending an extra (assuming we’d eat out once a week, pre-COVID) $60 a week. That’s a monthly savings of $320, which is an annual savings of $3,840.

Y’all. That’s so much money.

I also think we eat more vegetables this way (not so much fruit, but I’ve always been a pretty good fruit eater). I feel like I’m more willing to spend money on organic, delicious veggies because I spend a bunch at the start of the month on stuff that isn’t that.

So emotional energy, money & health.

I think it’s true that we don’t need to overthink it. My mom has talked a lot with me about enjoying this age without children and embracing not needing to be hyper organized. I’m 100% with her in that. I think doing this helps me stay calmer because I know what’s coming. So that tense need to fix something means I can just fix dinner.

Do you meal plan? What works for you?

A. Rose (1)

 

 

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)

 

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)

Updated Day in the Life: 2018

I have no shame when it comes to my fascination with peoples day in the life posts. I love them. I love biographies and I love schedules, so it kind of makes perfect sense.

When I did one of these in January, I actually learned a lot about my life. It seems a little soon to be doing another one, but a whole heck of a lot has changed since that last post and I think I need to do it for me, more than for you (though I do hope you find it interesting). My class was actually cancelled this passed Monday so I was able to actually devote some time to this little blog. It felt nice to put this down on paper.

Here’s a peek at a usual Monday. I may also do a Tuesday and a weekend day, just for my own sake, if you’re interested.


5:15am – The alarm goes off & I roll out of bed. D gets up at 5:15 now and is not quiet at all.

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He gets himself ready and I take a laundry basket I’d sorted and filled the night before downstairs to the washer. I pull out D’s protein shake; unload and reload the dishwasher and then make my lunch.

5:40am – D says goodbye & I keep cleaning.

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I pour myself a glass of ice water and a protein shake and head downstairs to switch the laundry. When I come back up, I set a timer for an hour, empty (and reload) the dishwasher and wipe up the kitchen counters. I also defrost any meat I might need for a crock pot meal.

By 6:05am – Yoga

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This is, by far, the greatest part of waking up early. I do 30 minutes of yoga almost every single morning. In the past, I was trying to do it when I came home from work, but I would end up feeling like something else was more pressing, or thinking that yoga was something I “had” to do, rather than wanted to do. At that time in the morning, I’m too tired to know the difference, so I just get it done.

6:40am – Shower

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True story: I’ve started brushing my teeth in the shower and I don’t even care if people think that’s weird. I don’t actually have buckets of time in the morning even though it seems like I should because I jam so many things into. So, I start brushing my teeth while I get my hair wet, wash my hair with my toothbrush still in my mouth, and then finish brushing while I rinse my hair. It sounds ridiculous. Whatever. It’s working.

6:55am – Get dressed.

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Similar Dress

Usually, I pick out my clothes in my head while I’m in the shower. If I’m really on top of my game, I’ll pick out my clothes the night before or if I’m feeling like a total over achiever, I’ll pick out a weeks worth on Sunday (the weather lately has been way too unpredictable for that though). So, I get dressed and make the bed while I’m in the bedroom. Then, I give myself until 7:10 to get dinner going in the crock pot.

7:10am – Hair and make up

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I don’t know why I set an alarm on my FitBit for 7:10, but I did. I use it as the signal to go brush my hair and put some make up on. It’s working, so I don’t totally question it. I try to keep my make up simple – mascara, blush, a little eye shadow – and lately I’ve just been brushing my hair and then going. Once the snow comes, I’ll go back to blow drying / curling it, but for now, I’m giving my hair a break.

7:20am – Finish dinner / Start breakfast and lunch

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I know – confusing, right? Whatever I stopped doing at 7:10 to do my make up, I finish up, and then I pull together both breakfast and lunch.
I start drinking that protein shake usually just before I start yoga and I finish it on my way to work, so that drink plus a bunch of fruit is usually my breakfast. Lunch is typically vegetables and some cheese. Then, I also pack some crunchy things for snacks – popcorn and rice cakes. I also usually have a banana and something + hummus because I have class at night.

7:30am – head to work!

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I have about a 30 minute drive to work and my boss is really flexible about when we arrive. I try to be as close to on time as possible, but realistically, I have to drive through corn fields and if I get stuck behind a piece of farm equipment going 25 mph in a 55 mph… well, it is what it is. *shrug*
I have a little walk in from the parking lot and I try to use the time to text my best friend. My schedule is really jam-packed right now, so I don’t get to see her a ton and I miss her a lot, all the time. This helps a little and I hope it helps her know that I haven’t forgotten about her; I’m just slammed.

8am-ish – arrive at work

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I’ve started making my morning about something other than checking emails. I used to come in and be bogged down with emails for the first three hours of the day. Instead, I go through and clear out any spam emails, color code what’s in there (this takes about 5 minutes), respond to anything immediate (i.e. from the Director or my boss) and then start in a project.

10:00am – break time.

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I go outside for my break and text my bestie back. I like to physically leave the building because it helps me clear my mind (and get some steps in). I usually call my mom and ask about her day and what’s she’s planning to do. It’s nice to have a structured, quick check-in with her and my dad, so that I’m always in the loop.

10:15am – back to those emails

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I spend a pretty good chunk of the day in emails. There’s nothing fun or exciting about this.

12pm-ish – Lunch break!

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I don’t really eat lunch on my lunch break. On Mondays, I usually do work on the blog; Tuesdays and Thursdays I do homework; and Wednesdays and Fridays I do work on the book I’m ghostwriting. If it’s sunny, I sit outside. If not, there’s a great room in the building I work in that’s full of windows and I like to be there.

1pm – Meeting with my boss

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This is my actual boss

Every other Monday I meet with my boss. If you’re able to have a regularly scheduled meeting with them just to talk, I highly recommend it. We go over the projects I’m working on, how things are going in the office, with school and in my life. It helps me to stay grounded. I usually write myself notes throughout the two weeks and then use those to guide me through our conversation so that I don’t forget anything.

2:30pm– back to work again!

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I work on a team with two other people, not including my supervisor. We tend to collaborate for a little while, divvy up the work, then come back together later. We work in a cool space that was built with our process in mind. So, we collaborate for a little while, then jump into what needs to be done.
This is also when I usually eat my lunch.

3:30pm – break time!

I walk around the building and make a call to the doctors office about an upcoming appointment. The building is big, but only takes 3-5 minutes to get around. I walk around it 3 times, then head back in.

3:45pm – cleaning up.

There’s about an hour and 15 minutes left of the day. I use the time to comb back through emails and attend to anything I might have missed. I finish up whatever I can on what I was working on. Then, I make a list of what needs to get done tomorrow, followed by what it would be nice to have done by tomorrow. That way, when I leave, I can really, truly leave because the tasks are somewhere other than just my brain.

5:00pm – closing time

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I shut everything down and walk across the sidewalk to the building where my class is. There’s an hour before it starts, but there’s a semester-long project for this class, so my group meets every Monday from 5pm – 6pm. The two women I’m working with are awesome! They’re so funny and smart and dedicated to what we’re doing. I’m really fortunate to be part of a group like this; it makes the work so simple.

6:00pm – class time!

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The classroom buildings are all full of leaves this time of year

Our desks are arranged in a semi-circle, because the professor prefers we’re in discussion with each other. This week, we’re talking about Social Identity Development. I love listening to peoples stories of their backgrounds and what resonated with them about the theories.

7:15pm – break!

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He’s been helping me study lately

Because the class goes until 9pm, the professor gives us a break in the middle to use the restroom, get food, whatever. I call D. It’s the first time since he left this morning that I get to talk to him. I only have 10 minutes so I quickly ask about how work was, and what he did after work. He asks me the same. I tell him not to wait up for me.

7:25pm – group activity!

This professor really values collaboration, so in addition to our semester-long group project, we also break into groups (different than our semester-group) to talk through different theories. Each group is usually assigned one theory that we read about and has to give an overview to the rest of the class. It helps us get to know each other and puts the theories into accessible language, which is super helpful!

9:00pm – Time to head home!

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It’s a short walk to my car, and then a 20-25 minute drive home (since there’s no traffic). I usually text D and let him know I’m on my way since most of my drive is through the country with no street lights. The deal is: if I’m not home by 9:45, he comes to find me.

9:30pm – HOME

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Finally! I hug the cat and sneak into the bedroom to give D (who’s already asleep) a kiss. He’s turned off the crock pot so it can cool, and left me a plate of food in the microwave. He also cleaned the family room and tidied up the kitchen table and bedroom. I sit down on the couch and eat real quick while I look at social media.

10:20pm – Bedtime

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After I take care of the dinner dishes, etc., I change into jammies and get into bed. D has been asleep so I change the TV from his show to mine (which right now is Pretty Little Liars, for the 10 millionth time). I usually make it about 30 minutes into an episode before I notice my eyes drooping. I put on the sleep timer and my eye mask and knock out, ready to do it all again tomorrow!

 

 

One Month | One Year

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything here. I feel like the month of October didn’t slip away from me – it ran at full force.

So, a quick recap?

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The leaves started to change colors here around the start of the month. I can’t believe that I forgot the vibrancy of autumn. I know that I’m in a new place, but you think I would remember, wouldn’t you?

There’s something exciting about the idea that the world is about to close up and be blanketed in perfect sheets of white snow. There’s also something horrible about the idea that I’m now driving to work in the dark and soon will be driving home in the dark too. #notinlove

I’ve been using this calendar to meal plan and it’s freaking saving my life (this is also the calendar that I use for my general monthly calendar). I’ve never meal planned a whole month at a time before and I am totally in love. It’s legit the greatest. I promise there’s a post coming about how and why I meal plan my month like that.

I also made this cute, inexpensive jewelry/hat/coat hanger for my favorite 9 year old’s birthday. I had some scrap wood that I painted pink with craft paint, drilled 10 holes in it, bought these drawer pulls and painted her name on it! I believe I took enough pictures to do a step-by-steps if folks are interested.

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I also made myself this little printable and have been using it to clear out my brain and keep track of my life. It’s helping a ton. I was thinking that I would share a blank version of it, but I’m not sure the best way to go about that? Any tips?

I had my three favorite kiddos over for a shrinky dink party the other day and that was basically the greatest thing ever. I’d never done them before and seriously – I had as much fun as they did!

It was the first time I had seen them in a long time. I’ve been buried in work, other work and school. It felt so good to turn my brain off for the night and just be present with them. Grad School Pro Tip: schedule time doing simple things with people who make you feel good. Seriously. Schedule it. Schedule it and don’t let things get in the way of the plan. You need that shit.

I’ve made some exciting changes in my house recently, but the most exciting (to me) is this amazing pantry change. It’s going to be a process to get it together, I would imagine. So, keep your eyes peeled for something soon!

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My rockstar mom took me to the ER at 4am

And, truthfully, a good portion of my life has been going towards health – maintaining balance and changing things that hurt. It’s been a year, today, since I had my gallbladder out. Much of my desire to keep this little blog going has had to do with trying to make sense of my life now that I’m down an organ.

It’s been a weird and complicated year. I’m grateful to be able to say that I understand my body differently than I ever have before. And I’m grateful to share that things are getting easier – I have a much better sense of what hurts and what doesn’t, and what’s going to be painful in the long-run.

I’ve decided I’d like to keep as many organs as possible, so I’m hoping to be able to talk through what that means for my life right now soon.

All things in due time, folks. I’ll be back to posting more regularly soon.

A. Rose (1)

Bedroom Art for Less

I’ve been trying to figure out how to make my bedroom feel a little less… Amish.

It’s been a while since I talked about it here, so here’s a little reminder of what it looked like:

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White. And more white. And more white. With a dash of blue.

I adore this room, that bed frame, those little embroidered flowers. But that white space above the bed makes me nuts.

So, I’ve been thinking about what I could put up there – three long panels, fabric on the whole wall, just leave it white because it’s an apartment…. ugh.

 

Then, a friend of mine told me about a deal on canvas, so I scooped up five thin canvases for $7 (all together!). And I wandered to the craft store to pick up some cheap craft paint.

I bought the bedspread because it reminded me of these quilt squares I bought to embroider (ten years ago and I’ve never finished one), which got me thinking that quilt squares might be cool!

I’m not sure what my life is that I just used “Quilt squares” and “cool” in the same sentence…

So, I started Pinteresting and found the ones I really liked and started to experiment with what I had – Prang watercolors and a sketch book from middle school:

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Clearly, I would need to measure. So, I just made the long canvas into a square and used a ruler to create some triangles and came out with this:

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A little too dark for my taste, but I was into the idea. I thought maybe I could lighten it up by adding a pattern:

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Much brighter! So far, I’ve gotten two done and started in on a third:

I’ll post an update once all five are done, but for $20, a lot of math but not a ton of time — I think it’s gonna be pretty cute!

A. Rose (1)

The Situation, Part 2

I talked in this post about my struggle to find a dresser that could work as a TV cabinet for my space. Nothing was the right size and things that were didn’t do the things I wanted.

But then I saw this glorious dresser at Pier One:

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It, also, isn’t the right size, but the idea was the best I had found in a long time. So, I’ve decided to make my own. Knowing next to nothing about carpentry, I decided the best option was to make a mock up of what I wanted and show it to people who do know a lot about it.

At first, I came up with something like this:

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It’s 24″ tall and 55″ across. I was in love with my invention.

But then I actually used a measuring tape near my current TV arrangement and realized that 24″ really isn’t a lot.

So, what’s great about this initial drawing is that there’s definitely enough support that the middle on top won’t bow, and there’s buckets of DVD storage (each cubby hole fits a DVD sized bin).

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Yeah… I forgot that I was also hoping to find a home for books… Smooth move, A. Rose.

So, it was back to the drawing board… which in this case is actually just Excel.

First, though, I did a quick search of how high a TV should actually be. Houzz has a great, though complicated, explanation of how to determine how high your TV should be. According to this, that 24″ is correct. BUT, there’s that section about “Trade Offs” that says that style can trump function, which I’m definitely good with the idea of!

I found these adorable bins at Target that would be so cute, so I used them to start to figure out the math: if the bins are 13″, I need to make a hole that is at least 13.5″ all the way around. This will allow for both the larger bins and books. So, I increased the height and added larger bin storage and increased the DVD storage. Here’s what it looked like after some tinkering:

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It looks giant, but it’s actually just slightly over three feet tall! There’s still tons of DVD storage, and spots for up to four bins, plus a shelf for the PlayStation, etc.!

But then I started thinking… Each DVD bin should be able to comfortably hold 35 DVD’s. With this current arrangement, that means this unit can hold 540 DVD’s. I don’t really need that. I just need to move the DVD’s in my dresser out of my dresser. The bigger priority is the stacks of books.

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So, I started thinking… what if I added another bin spot, and lengthened some of the DVD boxes to make book shelves? Would I lose too much DVD storage?

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That’s still room for 210 DVD’s. The height of each of the three shelves on the bottom (stacked on top of each other) is 5 inches. That’s not really enough for books. Hmmm…

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This could work, though. This could definitely work.

I’m going to leave it up to you though! Which option do you like the best? One, two, or three?

A. Rose (1)

Budget Tip: Christmas in September

There’s nothing like trying to find ways to save money when you don’t make much money. These budget series posts were created out of the desire to share what I have learned about alleviating some of the soul-crushing stress of living paycheck to paycheck – and the things I’ve learned that have helped me move away from that life. Please note that I am not, in any way, a licensed financial professional. None of these tips are guaranteed to make you money or save you money; they’re simply different ways of thinking about and using money that one person who doesn’t make much has learned over time.


Christmas in September

I love Christmas. I love twinkly lights and freshly baked cookies and laughing with my sisters so hard we cry and giving presents. I want to give all the presents in the world.

Last year, D and I went in 50/50 on presents. With five parents, nine siblings (including brothers-in-law) and six kiddos we adore, 50/50 still added up to a whole bunch really fast.

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We set different price caps based on how our families work, or what parents would prefer for their children. This year, I went the homemade route for my sisters and mom to save some cash. I made them personalized hand towels and hot pads that match their kitchens. I really prefer this, and will be doing it again this year.

 

For everyone else, though, we bought from the store.

So why bother talking about this now? Because I bought my first Christmas present in July.

Yep.

Tip #1: Shop Early & Often

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D and I had certain things we knew we wanted to get for folks – things like a nice set of towels, or classic, wooden toys for specific age ranges. So, every paycheck, we either buy something or set aside money for when we figure it out. That way, it doesn’t feel like we’re suddenly bleeding a ton of money, we don’t have to rush to the stores during the crazy holiday season, and we can spend our time doing things for others, like taking on an extra dish for a family event so our moms don’t have to, or planning a family service trip. Which leads me to my next tip:

Tip #2: Plan it Out

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There’s an (a) and a (b) to this idea.
(a) When it comes to time, start writing down your Holiday events as soon as you find out they exist. You can use an electronic or paper calendar. But make sure you include time for things like getting ready, driving to and from (especially if there’s snow) and rest. For goodness sake, make sure you allow yourself space and time for rest. Write it in now, as you’re reading this even. Maybe I’ll do a post with more details about how I plan this out in the future. Would that be something you’d enjoy?

(b.1) I have been using this holiday gift tracker from IHeart Organizing since it came out a few years ago (six years? Maybe?).

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I print it out at the start of the year and as I think of a gift, I write it down. For example, D and I went to Florida in March and saw something we just know his nephews will love, but it wasn’t Florida-y enough for us to buy as their trip-gift. So I wrote it on here so we wouldn’t forget.
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(b.2) The gift tracker is amazing because it doesn’t let you spend too much. I actually keep the “budget” and “actual” columns filled in as the year goes along. But, I keep a running “presents” lists on Amazon too. This has things like the nursery rhyme book is always get for babies, and things that could work well for a birthday party for a coworkers kid that I don’t really know. I also pop Christmas presents there.
In the case of the Florida gift for D’s nephews, I added it to this list while we were looking at it.

Tip #3: Plan to Wrap Away!

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So, this is going to sound nuts, but I actually bought wrapping paper in August. And March. I love cutesy paper for kiddos and will probably do that forever, but for my family – which doesn’t have younger children – I usually go with some kind of Hallmark swirly, classy, beautiful paper (like the top photo). So when I find a coupon or see a sale, I grab some up.

This goes for bags too. The Christmas themed ones are adorable and I definitely buy them. But I also buy the five-pack of brown gift bags and add embellishments in the same colors as my papers.

I also buy the cutesy paper at the start of the year, usually, when it all goes on sale. I’ve done that paper different ways and always end up needing to buy extra of it, so I just try to account for it in the budget.

One of my sisters wrapped all her presents in butcher paper for many years, and spent her money on ribbons and dried flowers. Her gifts always look gorgeous. I had a year where I bought a bunch of white tissue paper at the dollar store and then hand-made my gift tags with brightly colored construction paper. Thinking outside the box is another helpful way to save.

I write gift wrapping into my planner on the day after I plan to have all my gifts bought and I put on a cheesy Christmas movie or some music and wrap all in one session. It’s like a backwards Christmas surprise when I wake up the next morning to a tree full of presents for other people – exactly the kind of gift I want to give myself!

What kinds of things do you do to save money at the holidays?

A. Rose (1)

Bathroom Cleaning Hacks

I don’t live in a very big space, and, as a result, it only takes me about an hour and a half to give a good cleaning to it. #apartmentforthewin

But no matter what type of home I’ve lived in, keeping the bathroom clean has always taken the same amount of time.

Bathroom Cleaning Hacks

Secret: I worked in two different hotels for a cumulative four years after college, sometimes in addition to working full-time. #sidehustle? While I was technically a front desk clerk, when you work in a smaller hotel, it’s pretty much all hands on deck all the time.

So, I learned a lot about industrial laundry, and general maintenance, and cleaning bathrooms. A whole lot about cleaning bathrooms. This knowledge is just kind of sitting in my brain, so I thought it’d be good to share it!

Tip #1: Wipe the Counter Frequently

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I rinse out my sink every time I brush my teeth. But a lot of things happen in my bathroom – like hairspray – that dirty up the sink, so I keep some Clorox wipes under the sink so I can wipe it down while brushing my teeth or hair. It keeps the counter from accumulating a bunch of gunk that takes forever to scrub out.

Tip #2: Fill the Sink & Turn on the Shower

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When I’m going to scrub up my whole bathroom I start by filling the sink with hot water and turning on the shower (on super hot). A housekeeper once taught me to do this because the steam helps loosen up anything that’s really stuck on there (read: hairspray. all the time). I don’t leave the shower on the whole time I’m cleaning because it would make scrubbing the tub impossible, but I do pretty much everything else while it’s on.

Tip #3: Clean the Toilet Bowl with Your Hands

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Okay. I know. That sounds terribly gross. That’s why humans invented cleaning gloves. And toilet bowl cleaner.
I put the toilet bowl cleaner in, and then clean my mirrors / counters, then scrub with a toilet brush. But, when I’m cleaning the rest of the toilet (base, lid, etc.), I use a cloth and some cleaner and give a swish to the inside of the bowl.
It has already had cleaner in it, so it should theoretically be clean, but an extra coat of cleaning solution never hurts. And, according to the housekeepers I know, it helps you to clean the under-the-rim spots that often retain germs and gunk that the toilet brush doesn’t always get. And in my mind, it’s much grosser to think about leftover germs than it is to get rid of them.

 

Tip #4: Let the Spray Sit

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What does that even mean, A. Rose? It means that I turn the water on, and then spray things down – toilet, counter, etc. I spray the mirror last and clean it first, then I work my way around the bathroom, and having let the cleaner sit for a while with the steam lets anything that’s stuck on there come up more easily.

Tip #5: The Bleach Dress

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I have a dress that D calls my “Bleach Dress.” Because my bathroom isn’t exactly a high-traffic area (there are no kids, the apartment is empty for most of the day), I clean the toilet every week, and give the rest a quick scrub every two weeks. But once a month I clean it with bleach. When I first move into an apartment, I always clean the bathroom with bleach for a few weeks in a row because you just never know what the person before you was doing.
I have a light weight dress my sister gave me – it’s super comfy but it has a hole in it. It’s my dress I wear when I’m going to clean with bleach, because if it gets a bleach stain, I don’t care – there’s already a hole in it so I don’t wear it out.
As I’m writing this, I’m feeling really high maintenance that I have a separate dress for bleach, but I don’t own a lot of clothing, so I try to preserve what I have as best I can.

 

What about you? What are your tried and true methods for keeping your bathroom sparklingly clean?

A. Rose (1)