& Cookies

I’ve been an avid blog reader for the last six years and my favorite posts are always the personal, here’s-my-life-in-the-last-month-rounded-up kinds of things. I was thinking about this, and about my cousins son whose favorite time of the day is Cookie Time, where he, his mom and his grandma have milk and cookies. So I was thinking about the idea of having milk and cookies with people I like, but I stopped being able to drink milk around age 25, so here we are: & cookies.

You can read the rest of the series here, here, here and here


The past two weeks have been hectic, to say the least! With school starting the last week of August, everything in my life shifted a little bit to accommodate for what was new.

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I try to always get myself something at the start of the school year, almost like a pre-reward. It’s silly to do maybe, but I try to remember that, at this stage in life, even just registering for classes is a choice that isn’t always easy to make. I’ve wanted a pair of these earrings for a while, and when Natalie posted a coupon code, it seemed like a good time to jump on it.

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With school back in session, my commute has gotten about 15 minutes longer, each way. I drive through beautiful farm country, but sometimes find myself behind strange objects. I try to remember that I take this route for the experience – I’m used to palm trees and strip malls – and find it humorous. But my music has been getting a little stale lately. Any suggestions for great driving songs?

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I’ve given up on wearing dressy shoes to work. These sandals are so amazing that I cannot stop with them. You may have seen my Instagram post about them. I’ve been trying to post things to Instagram. To be completely transparent: I’m not great at it. I’m open to any advice folks have. I keep trying to remember that it’s a great way to keep in touch with folks and, really, it’s a lot easier to use than Facebook.

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Look at this perfect photo of my adorable dad and his dog, Maggie. I’ve been working on that TV stand that I talked about a while ago (I promise a great reveal post is coming soon!) and my parents hung out a bunch. That blue swing was my great-grandmas! My uncle recently had it repainted and surprised my mom with it! How freaking cute?

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I recently posted about getting my brain organized for school. I am juggling a lot of different things lately and trying to stay grounded while I do it. I think some of my struggle has to do with not having a planner that works 100% the way I need it to. So, I’m back to thinking about making my own.

I hope you all have been well. I’d love to hear what back-to-school time has been like for you!

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)

House List Update!

So, many moons ago, before I needed a break from blogging, I shared with you my House List, and how to prioritize that list. As of my most recent update about my couch, here’s what the list looked like:

Finallyfoundmy newhome! (1)

In my absence, I made some changes and now, here’s where we are:

Finallyfoundmy newhome! (2)

I’ve got some posts brewing about having made those changes, so I can explain the processes. But the real reason I wanted to give this update is because I first started talking about this a little less than a year ago and I’m not even halfway done.

That feels a little pathetic.

It also feels more than a little realistic.

I think it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of how quickly things should happen, or to compare ourselves to the work / rate of others. But, when I really think about, for as much as I love to tackle house projects and make my little apartment feel cozy, I’d rather lay out in the sunshine, or have some lemonade with my mom, or laugh with my friends.

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I don’t actually think that life is too short. I think life is incredibly long and we should get everything we can out of it. And that means that some days I want to be barefoot in the sunshine, and other days, I want to paint little flowers on a flower pot.

I make a million lists and like to check things off of them and love the feeling of accomplishing both big and small projects – that will never not be true for me.

It’s also true that I still have a hard time not feeling guilty when I pick to hang out and live rather than be task-oriented, almost like I need permission to take a break.

So, here you go: an updated house list and permission to go take a break and play in the sunshine, or the rain; permission to go have the life you want.A. Rose (1)

Planner Inspiration

I basically live my life in my amazing planner.

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This system of putting to do lists over the top of the actual dates isn’t 100% the greatest. It’s been fine this summer, as I’m not taking classes, because I end up using a smaller sticky note and just have one. But the above photo is what my planner pretty much always looked like. #nothelpful

So, I’ve been thinking about making my own. Is that crazypants?

I started searching the internet for ideas.

I know that I mostly use the weekly view to list meetings, appointments and assignment due dates.

I basically don’t use the monthly view for anything, but I do make use of it.

I like the idea of having a little weekly planning page like this one:

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Source

 

And some kind of meal planning page would be good, especially for during the school year:

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Source

Montly meal plan NO logo

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I also love this financial challenge spreadsheet:

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And any kind of goal setting is also amazing:

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Source

 

Phew. That’s a lot. What do you all think? Is it crazy to create my own planner?

A. Rose (1)

The Situation

There’s something very unsettling going on in my little apartment.

It looks something like this:

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And this:

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*Sigh*

I’ve been on the hunt for a dresser that can double as a TV stand, but I can’t find anything that is 55″+ and low enough and not a billion dollars.

And then – oh, then – I was walking through everyone’s secret favorite place, Pier One, and I found this:

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Isn’t she beautiful? Couldn’t she easily be shorter and wider, with bins that are the perfect size for DVD’s? Couldn’t she not cost over $300?

I think it’s all possible, if I make it myself.

So I’m going to!

I started a little plan up:

  1. Source bins / bin sizes
  2. Draw diagram
  3. Talk it out
  4. Adjust diagram
  5. Learn anything about building furniture
  6. Source wood on the cheap
  7. Build!

So, I’m on step one! I’ll keep you updated on what I learn – I’m going to guess this will not be just a weekend project for me.A. Rose (1)

Quick Fix for a Big Space

I talked a little bit in this post about my hopes and dreams and utter confusion around the current state of my family room:

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From the Dining Nook

There are a lot of things happening in this picture that are pretty accurate to what’s always going on in here: bunny figurines, a cat, seven thousand patterns, and a distressing camo chair that D loves so I practice patience towards.

So what do you do when you have an ugly couch/chair combo, limited funds and don’t know what size space you’ll be moving to next?

BUY A COUCH COVER

I waited for Target to have a coupon, and I picked up a couch cover for under $60, which is way cheaper than buying a new couch, even on Craigslist.

It came in a box that didn’t seem like it should be able to fit an entire couch cover, which I will never be able to get back into that box ever again.

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IMG_4130.jpgIt also came with a print out of written instructions and diagrams that showed me exactly how to put the couch cover on. Pretty easy-peasy. There’s a tag that tells you which part of the cover is which:

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Just put the couch cover over the back of the couch:

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Spend some time tucking things in the order they tell you to and voila! Brand new couch for much, much less:

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Spend some time getting it situated, add some throw pillows, and you have a brand new family room!

The best part? It took me, by myself, 10 minutes to figure this out and do it. Now that  I have it figured out, I’m going to guess it will take 5 minutes. Which is awesome. I can wash it as often as I want, the fabric is amazingly comfortable and even though you can clearly tell there’s a couch cover on it, I don’t even care because it looks lightyears better than the other couch before.

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One more little pinnable look:

QFF_ Couch Cover

 

So, a look at where we’re at since I made my prioritized list:

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I talked to my family about the coffee table and my mom ended up saying she wanted to do a project with it. Two down: 18 to go!

A. Rose (1)

How to Organize Your College to-do List

I talked a little bit in this post about the things that are keeping me sane while working full time and going to grad school.

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This guy is definitely high on the list

I made reference to the moderately flexible schedule that I’ve come up with for my classes, given what a usual day look likes.

For some context: I work full time at the university that I attend, which is a 30 – 90 minute drive from home, depending on the weather. I am a part-time graduate student, studying Adult and Higher Education, taking two classes on campus, which is a 20 – 60 minute drive from work.

The time piece is relevant here, I think. When you consider that I usually get home around 5:40pm and try to be in bed by 10pm, I really have four hours to, not only do homework, but also have my life during the week.

Start with the Syllabi

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Duh, right? It’s the plural that’s important. I learned this in undergrad when I took six classes a semester while working close to full-time. I grab up all my syllabi and start to write out due dates, in order. There’s a lot of flipping back and forth between them, so it’s helpful to have a large area to do this.

I only write down my major projects/papers/assignments. It will keep this part a lot cleaner.

Make Notes as You Go

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As I write out the assignments, I think about the timeline. For example, I have an Adult Learner Interview part-way into the semester, so I need to conduct the interview with enough time to actually write the paper.

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I keep doing this, and try to figure out if there’s more than one step involved. For example, on March 26, I have to write a Summary of an Adult Learning Site. So I need to visit the site at least two weeks in advance, which means I need to contact sites before that to ensure I can awkwardly sit in the corner while adults learn and I take notes on how they learn. #thisisgradschool #iloveit

In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to color code assignments or classes. I may try that next semester.

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At the end, it looks something like this (aka organized chaos). Then, I take a look at the syllabi again and start to think about my life. If I have class Monday and Wednesday night, I actually need to be done with my readings by Saturday, if I want to have an actual day off.

So I write it all together, with due dates on the side, categorized by week:

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I just keep going until I’ve written out each week of the semester. I end up with something like this, except longer:

Then, I do a quick double check and slowly enter all of it into my planner, on a large sticky note:

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The left side is school stuff and the right side is home stuff.

If you read my post about a day in my life, you know that currently D and I are trying to figure out how to best shorten the list on the right side. There’s just certain things that aren’t his to take on, or don’t feel right for him to take on given where we’re at in our relationship, and we want to be careful about doing things for each other that aren’t in line with where we are.

That’s it though. Rather than assigning days, I just try to get as much done as I can Monday – Thursday so that I can have a simple weekend. I’ve found that dedicating Tuesday and the Wednesdays that I don’t physically have to go to class to doing homework means that if I get a surprise visitor or just don’t feel like doing homework during the week I’m not dead on Sunday from the amount I have to do.

Total time to complete: about an hour and a half.

How to Prioritize a Household To Do List

Maybe it’s just me, but my house doesn’t “happen” in as systematic of a way as the rest of my life. Work and school, I make these little lists with empty boxes near them so that I can check them off as I go. My house gets tidied and fixed up when the wind blows in the right direction and the sun is out.

So I made a list. I went through photos of my house and I made a list of everything that I wanted to get done and now I have that list:

  • Find a new home for reusable bags
  • Move work space off the kitchen table
  • Reupholster dining room chairs
  • Figure out the couch situation
  • Get a rug
  • Refinish the coffee table
  • Turn the desk into an actual, workable space
  • Upgrade the trunk
  • Replace the trunk with a dresser that can hold DVD’s
  • Window treatment for sliding glass doors
  • Find a new home for donations
  • Revamp online selling system
  • Talk to sisters about the coffee table
  • D – wtf is with this beanbag chair??
  • Reorganize the bathroom closet
  • Lower that one super high shower shelf
  • Bedroom Art
  • Learn to hang up clothes
  • Arrange bedside table
  • Hang hooks in bedroom for towels
  • Return bed frame to my mom

This is overwhelming & I need to make some sense of it.

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Sort It Out

The way I see it, these can be broken up into the following categories:

  • Conversations
    • Talk to sisters about the coffee table
    • D – wtf is with this beanbag chair??
  • Costs Money / Craft Project
    • Reupholster dining room chairs
    • Figure out the couch situation
    • Get a rug
    • Refinish the coffee table
    • Upgrade the trunk
    • Replace the trunk with a dresser that can hold DVD’s
    • Window treatment for sliding glass doors
    • Bedroom Art
  • Domino Effect
    • Move work space off the kitchen table
    • Turn desk into actual, workable space
  • Habit-forming
    • Revamp online selling system
    • Learn to hang up clothes
  • Other
    • Find a new home for reusable bags
    • Find a new home for donations
    • Reorganize the bathroom closet
    • Lower that one super high shower shelf
    • Arrange bedside table
    • Hang hooks in bedroom for towels
    • Return bed frame to my mom

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Think about ease

Whenever I have a long list of things, whether it’s at home, school or work, I try to put the simple little things close to the top of the list so that I a) actually feel like I’m getting things done and b) I can clear some brain-space to figure out other things.

For me, the Conversations and Other category are usually where I start. So, when I look at these nine things:

  • Talk to sisters about the coffee table
  • D – wtf is with this beanbag chair??
  • Find a new home for reusable bags
  • Find a new home for donations
  • Reorganize the bathroom closet
  • Lower that one super high shower shelf
  • Arrange bedside table
  • Hang hooks in bedroom for towels
  • Return bed frame to my mom

it starts to get easy to see what should happen first. My family has a Facebook page, so I can easily just post a thing in there about the coffee table. D and I talk every day. I already think I know where the reusable bags should go and I’ll see my mom this weekend so I can return the bed frame to her.

  1. Talk to sisters about the coffee table
  2. D – wtf is with this bean bag chair??
  3. Find a new home for reusable bags
  4. Return bed frame to my mom

So then I think about time and effort. I think I already have hooks, the bedside table I can start now and keep working on, and the bathroom closet is really more of a purging project than anything else.

5. Hang hooks in bedroom for towels
6. Arrange bedside table
7. Reorganize bathroom closet

That leaves me with the donations and the shower shelf. I’ll set them over to the side for now.

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Be Realistic

The last three categories require a different kind of thinking. There’s budgeting of both money and time involved in that. So I know that I need to figure out the desk/kitchen table situation, but it can live at the bottom of the list because, to me, that’s a project, not an easy one, two, three process. I think the same is true about the Habit Forming category.

That leaves me with the Costs / Money piece. Let’s look at those again, with cost attached:

  • Reupholster dining room chairs – $175
  • Figure out the couch situation – $100
  • Get a rug – $45
  • Refinish the coffee table – $20
  • Upgrade the trunk – $40
  • Replace the trunk with a dresser that can hold DVD’s – $50
  • Window treatment for sliding glass doors – ???
  • Bedroom Art – ???

I think there’s two ways to go about things that have money tied to them: you can start with the things that cost the most/least and go down/up in price. OR, you can let price be a factor and think about time and impact.

I prefer the time/impact route more, myself.

I don’t have buckets of money (clearly I’m not willing to spend more than $100 on a couch and honestly, that’s stretching it), but I do know that if I care enough about something I’ll tuck my money away until I can have it. So I ask myself these questions:

What will take the least amount of time?
What will have the biggest impact?
What is annoying me the most?
What do I care about the least?

Anything that gets listed under the first three questions goes to the top of the list and then I sort by price. I end up with this:

  1. Figure out the couch situation
  2. Get a rug
  3. Refinish coffee table
  4. Bedroom Art
  5. Replace the trunk with a dresser that can hold DVD’s
  6. Window treatment for sliding glass doors
  7. Upgrade the trunk
  8. Reupholster dining room chairs

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Mash your Lists

Alright. So now we have some different lists going on, with different time frames and different amounts of money.

ertificate of Completion

So, now I’ll look at my schedule and blend them together based on homework, work, paychecks, free time, all those pieces.

Here’s the end result:

Finallyfoundmy newhome!

You may have noticed that the hanging up the clothes is no longer on the list. This is something I will just have to learn over time. I only listed the prices for the first couple of projects because I’ve found that when I create a full household  budget I start to think “Yeah, I’m never going to have that much money,” and I give up and can’t do it anymore.

So that’s it. That’s my confusing process for arranging these things.

Now, I’ll  put them all into my planner and pluck away at them!

Apartment Tour & Dreams

I rent an apartment that’s in a booming part of a small town, but tucked into the trees. I’ve decided to stay here for a least a few years, which is a nice break after moving 17 times in 11 years. I’d like to make some changes to it, and figure out where to start. I thought I’d put this here to refer back to.

Here’s a little floor plan:

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This is a (very) little over 730 square foot space and takes about an hour to clean from top to bottom – which is my preferred way to live!

In keeping with the theme of this blog, I took these photos on a day when the sun was out, not a day when the space was clean. So this is a pretty accurate portrait of how things usually look.

Front Hall

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Some people call it an entry way. I call it a front hall because it’s a hallway at the front. It looks directly into the Family Room (which people here call the Living Room). To the left is the storage closet and to the right is the kitchen. That coat hook has been a life-saver. When people come over, I put the coats D I wear regularly in the coat closet part of the the storage closet so they can use the coat hook and I set a towel in front of the bi-fold doors for their boots. Easy winter solution!

Storage Closet

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This storage closet has been a life-saving space. You can see on the shelf in the coat closet part that reusable bags are above the coats. I’m trying to come up with a better spot for those because I feel like I’m losing a lot of space having them there.

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When you walk through the bi-fold doors, this make-shift pantry is to your left. It’s just a bakers rack. Having this pantry has made a huge difference in how grocery shopping happens and how the kitchen is organized.
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To the left is this cubby that stores luggage, crafting stuff, games, cat food (apparently?), and things that just generally don’t have a home.

Project #1: Find a new home for reusable bags.

Kitchen

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I love this little kitchen. It has basically no counter space, which is a pain, but it’s somehow also perfect. I try to keep the fridge decorations fairly minimal: some pictures of cousins, color projects by some of my favorite kiddos, a calendar, and some inspirational notes from family members.
The kettle is always on the stove because, as you can tell, there are only so many cupboards and I use it more than once a day.

IMG_3639There’s a lot happening on the left side of the kitchen, but truth be told, this is really what it usually looks like. I day dream about that being different, but I’m starting to come to terms with my reality.
Also, how cool is that photo above the sink? My dad took it back in the early 1980’s when he was in California. #bragging #hereallywasntahippie

Dining Nook

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I’m pretty sure this nook is my favorite spot in the whole house. I do everything here: pay bills, talk to friends, put on make up, homework, you name it! The table was scored through an online bulletin at work; the curtains just happened to go with well.
It usually looks like this in here: laptop, tea, papers, open windows. I love it.
BUT, I also want to stop. I love the windows and I think it’s fine to perch there every now and then, but I actually have a little library area that I could be using and it really is annoying to have to move all my stuff every time I want to eat dinner.

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I think I might like to reupholster the chairs someday, but I’m waiting for the fabric to wear out some more before I do.

Project #2: Move off the kitchen table.
Project #3: Reupholster Dining Room Chairs

Family Room

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From the Front Hall

There are a lot of things happening in this room. The recliner (left) is D’s pride and joy. The hurricane lamp is from my childhood bedroom. The couch was a quick-buy from craigslist when I first moved in. The rocker was my grandmothers. The iron chairs were my mothers. The painting came from a thrift store. The coffee table was a freebie from a friends Uncle… It just keeps going and there’s no cohesion and even though it feels great when I’m in it, things need to change.

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From the Dining Nook

It wants to all go together. It just doesn’t. There’s been a lot of conversation between D and me about that chair and he feels pretty passionately about it not being covered up. I don’t share his feelings about camo but I like trees, so I think I can make it work.
That back, left area by the bookshelves is just chaos. That’s it. Pure chaos. D’s hunting stuff, a Christmas Tree, extra chairs, a desk that never gets used.

Project #4: Either get a slip cover for the couch or get a new couch
Project #5: Get a rug
Project #6: Refinish coffee table
Project #7: Turn desk into an actual, workable space

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From the hallway to the bedroom and bathroom

Things look a little better from this angle. That trunk in between the two chairs is what my parents used to move their items from the United States to Saudi Arabia and back again – super cool! I gave it an upgrade when I was 12 and had a Beatrix Potter bedroom. For now, it works to hold the television/PS4, but someday I think a change will need to come.
I also hate the vertical blinds. They don’t work quite right and they make it feel like… well, like an apartment.

Project #8: Upgrade the trunk
Project #9: Replace the trunk with a dresser that can hold DVD’s
Project #10: Curtains?

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From behind the recliner

And then there’s the worst of it all: this weird area. That’s an extra chair, an extra coffee table, a beanbag chair, boxes of clothes to donate, clothes to sell, cat toys and a yoga mat. What. the actual. eff.
The extra chair has been working out well lately to hold my backpack when I get home. The coffee table is from the house I grew up in and so even though it’s too delicate for me to use regularly I still have it…

Project #11: Come up with a better system for donations
Project #12: Come up with a better system for selling things online
Project #13: Have that uncomfortable conversations with sisters about the coffee table needing to go
Project #14: Talk to D about finding a new home for his beanbag chair

Bathroom

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From the hallway

This bathroom is the miracle of the apartment. It holds so much. It functions so well. It isn’t a lot of space but it’s doing a lot of work. There are four deep shelves that need some reorganizing and that shelving unit needs some love. But honestly, I can’t complain too much about how this space operates.

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That’s not the all-the-time shower curtain. I pull it out at the first snow and tuck it away once the flowers come back… or when I get tired of snow and need some bright colors. Also, that shower rack shelf is way too tall. #oops

Project #15: Reorganize Bathroom shelves
Project #16: Lower shower rack shelf

Bedroom

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Honest: I said I wasn’t going to clean before taking these photos and I clearly didn’t.

I love this room. It feels really cozy when you’re in it. But I definitely need some kind of artwork above the bed and I need a much better system for clothing than using the foot board for things that need to be hung up. #imthatgirl

Project #17: Bedroom art
Project #18: Train Brain to hang up clothes

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There’s not a lot of space to walk between the bed and dresser. I keep thinking about moving the furniture in here around. It’s also a little crowded in this picture because I took it once the Christmas tree was up and had to move furniture into her in order to give the tree space. #apartmentproblems

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So, some things happening here: I don’t love the laundry basket situation, but it works really well. I am terrible at keeping my bedside table clean. And I want to find a better situation for my towel. I don’t like hanging it in the bathroom because it starts to smell yucky fast because of the humidity.

Project #19: Figure out Bedside Table arrangement
Project #20: Hang hooks for towels

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I’m thinking that spot where the bed frame is currently housed would be a good spot for towels. Or maybe behind the bedroom door?

Project #21: Return bed frame to my mom

Project Summary

So, here’s what I figured out needs to be done to make my apartment a little more functional and a little more pulled together:

  1. Find a new home for reusable bags
  2. Move work space off the kitchen table
  3. Reupholster dining room chairs
  4. Figure out the couch situation
  5. Get a rug
  6. Refinish the coffee table
  7. Turn the desk into an actual, workable space
  8. Upgrade the trunk
  9. Replace the trunk with a dresser that can hold DVD’s
  10. Window treatment for sliding glass doors
  11. Find a new home for donations
  12. Revamp online selling system
  13. Talk to sisters about the coffee table
  14. D – wtf is with this beanbag chair??
  15. Reorganize the bathroom closet
  16. Lower that one super high shower shelf
  17. Bedroom Art
  18. Learn to hang up clothes
  19. Arrange bedside table
  20. Hang hooks in bedroom for towels
  21. Return bed frame to my mom

 

Now to prioritize that list….