Valentines Day

Valentines Day is actually my favorite holiday.

I know it’s made up. I know it’s this commercialized mess. I know it puts unnecessary pressure on couples and partners. I know.

But I also really like to talk about love, in all it’s forms. And I like flowers and candy and the color red.

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The unruly little one is me.

When I think about love, D isn’t actually the first thing that comes to my mind. My family is (he gets grouped in with them). I believe that the love of the family, whatever family may look like for an individual, is the place where strength comes from, and is the central root that connects us to society in an unbreakable way.

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My friends come next. If family roots us in our community, our friends are the trunk of the tree – the steady base that lets our branches move outward, with love and careful reflection.

It’s been tricky to be in a new state with a new culture. It makes it hard to make friends, especially when most of the town grew up together. I’ve lucked out with a core group of great people who keep me grounded.

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After that, I think about romance. It tends to fall toward the bottom of my priority list, and lately I’ve been trying to do a better job of changing that. Even though I don’t think it’s the most important part of being in a relationship, I do still think it’s important.

At one point in my life, my mother told me that the most romantic thing about my father is that he knows her 2:30pm coffee is taken differently than her morning coffee. I’ve been trying to think about ways that I show care, and spaces where care is absent and bump it up.

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I hope that this Valentine’s Day gets to be about all the varied forms of love for you.

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….

 

A Weekday in the Life

It makes me feel like a total creeper that I love to read Day in the Life posts from bloggers but I totally do. I did a half-hearted version when I talked about what my Saturday Morning looks like. But the other day, I read this one from one of my favorite bloggers and I thought about making one about the weekday, as a way to truly reflect on where my time goes. I thought it might help me. So, hold tight! Here we go!

Note: If it’s snowing or snowed the night before, all of the morning gets bumped up about 20 minutes, except the part where I get to work around 8am.

6:30am – “Wake up. For the love of all that is good, your day will be so much better if you wake up.”

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Alarm Clock

A few months ago, I realized how much I was on my phone, so I challenged myself to leave my phone in the kitchen when I went to bed. The first step to that was buying an alarm clock. I have yet to regret it.

6:32am – “Brushing your teeth will help you wake up. Seriously.”

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Similar Kettle / Travel Mug

I usually brush my teeth while I get a cup of tea started and take my make up out of the case. By the time I’m done brushing, the tea is usually ready. I pour the hot water in and sit down to do my make up.

6:37am – “I bet you can do your make up faster today than you did yesterday.”

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Dark Eye Shadow / Shadow Pallet / Light Eye Shadow / Brush was bought at Walgreens? like, a decade ago / Concealer / Mascara / Blush (similar) / Mirror (compact) was made by my oldest sister out of a Cover Girl powder that she hollowed out and put a Tori Amos quote on

I feel like that’s not the “normal” feeling about make up. I’m pretty minimalist when it comes to my face. Eye shadow, mascara, blush, under eye concealer and done. I don’t know if this theory holds water or not, but my mother has gorgeous skin. She’s 60 and I’ve never seen her have a breakout, uneven tones or any kind of blemish. She also has never in her life worn a full face of make up. I don’t know if the two are connected, but I’m going to roll with it, because it justifies me not having to spend the time on it. The result is usually something still tired but a little perkier looking.

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6:47am 
– “Why is my hair like this?”

I have weird hair. It’s incredibly thick (like, if I put it in two braids, one of those two is the thickness of most peoples one braid if they were to braid all their hair one time… if that makes sense…) – even the strands are thick – and coarse. It naturally curls in every which way and usually heat causes it to straighten out unless I use a crap-ton of hairspray. If I wake up late, it goes in a ponytail and I just roll with it. But, I’ve been trying really hard lately to actually do it because I feel better when I do.

7:12am – “Thank goodness I picked out my clothes the night before. Sheesh.”

There’s no picture of this because it would just be a picture of my closet. I just group four or five outfits together and that’s my version of setting out my clothes for the week. #lowkey

I always forget that I’ve picked out my clothes the night before until the point of getting dressed. I don’t always do this, but I try to. Sometimes, when I’m really on top of my game, I’ll pick out five outfits on Sunday night!  That doesn’t happen often.

I own a very limited number of work clothes (about 7-9 outfits) which helps to keep things simple if I don’t pick things out the night before. Maybe I’ll write some more about how I got to a point of a limited number of outfits. Would that be something  you’d be interested in?

7:20am – “Wallet, keys, phone, planner, lunch. Wallet, keys, phone, planner, lunch.”

Planner / Cat Clutch (similar) / Cup / Food Storage Container / Work Tote

I pack my bag in the morning. Sometimes I do it at night, but it’s almost always first thing in the morning. Depending on the day, there’s a lot of different things I might take with me. I almost always take breakfast and lunch. If it’s winter, then non-snow shoes come with for me to change into at work. School stuff and snacks are a must. On Mondays and Wednesdays this semester, I leave my house at 7:30am and get home around 9:30pm, so I usually have a decent amount of food with me.

7:25am – “I shouldn’t wake him up. But I don’t want to not say ‘I love you’ and then drive through the ice.”

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D works four jobs with unpredictable schedules (ex. one of them is snow plowing, so sometimes he doesn’t have any hours of that for two weeks; sometimes he works 40 hours in a row without sleeping) and so I do my best to respect his sleep, and he does his best to respect mine. My most favorite and D’s least favorite part of the day is when I creep into the dark bedroom and say goodbye. He’s always warm and soft feeling and so I gently tell him that I love him and to have a good day. Often, I sit on the bed and put my socks and snow boots on while I talk to him. He hates that I wake him up as it’s happening. But every evening he says thank you to me for it.

7:30am – “I’m glad I have Spotify.”

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Seriously. This is not an ad. I just really feel that way. I drive anywhere between 30 – 90 minutes to work, one way. Having good music, where I don’t have to use my hand and skip the songs, is a must.

I also try to use this time to get ready for work. I don’t make a mental to-do list. I don’t get paid to think about work when I’m not there, so I don’t do it. Instead, I sort through conversations I had the night before; what kinds of things I need to do on my lunch break; and plan out my evening. Some days, a song comes on that gets me thinking about other things and I, instead, use the time to reflect on my relationships with friends and family. It helps. A lot.

8:00-ish am – “Tell the family you’re not dead. Don’t forget.”

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I’m really lucky to work in a place that’s flexible about what time you arrive when it’s snowing out. Most of the office lives 30 minutes away, with some as far as an hour and a half. So, when the snow comes, we all just adapt if someone’s not here. Before I get out of my car, I text my mom, dad and sister and let them know I got to work safely.

Note: I never did this before I lived here. My parents didn’t really care and my sister and I talk so much that she pretty much always knows where I am. But now that I drive on windy roads through fields with strong winds and big hills, my parents are always nervous, so I send the text. 

Slightly After 8:00 am – “Knock out what you can.”

I usually start my morning slowly. I drink my tea and check my emails and knock out as many little things as I can. This doesn’t always work as planned, but it’s what I try for.

Around 9:00am – “It would probably good to eat breakfast at home.”

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That’s what I tell myself every time I pull out a literal bowl of breakfast at work. I usually eat yogurt, fruit and granola. I keep the yogurt and the granola at work and just transport a mason jar of fruit back and forth.

Sometime between 11:00am and 2:00pm – “I should probably use my lunch break to eat.”

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I don’t though. I usually eat lunch around 2pm. Instead, I usually use my hour lunch break to take a walk and then do homework at my desk. I don’t really recommend this but I can’t figure out a better way to get through grad school.

My job is 50% database management, 50% putting out fires that are comprised of the very real emotions of young adults. Talking about a typical day is impossible because you never know who’s going to come in crying, who’s going to scream at you because they’re actually just scared, or if nothing at all is going to happen. I freaking love it.

5:00pm – “Maybe earlier than 5pm. Never later than 5pm though.”

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I leave work at 5:00pm. This time of year, the sun is starting to set. Depending on the weather and how much snow is on my car, I get home between 5:35pm and 6:15pm. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I drive directly downtown (about 45 minutes from the campus I work on) to the other campus to take classes until 9pm. But let’s pretend it’s a Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

On my drive home, I usually call D to figure out what he’s doing, and spend the rest of the drive home thinking about the good pieces of the day.

5:45pm – “I know you were alone all day. I missed you so much.”

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I snuggle the cat when I get home and then I change my clothes. When I lived in Florida, I would take a shower after work. I usually didn’t wash my hair until before bed, but I had to do something to get the heat off me and it signaled that I was home. Now that it’s the opposite of 100 degrees here, I just change my clothes and put my slippers on, because slippers mean home to me.

6:00pm – “What should we make for dinner, kitten?”

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I’m pretty good about taking meat out the night before for dinner, but it doesn’t always happen. Around 6, I start figuring out dinner and set up at the dining room table to start my homework. If D is going to be there soon, I’ll start dinner (if it’s my turn) while I read. If he’s going to be working through the night, dinner is usually a grilled cheese or some applesauce. If he’s there, he usually watches TV with his headphones on while I do my homework and we eat separately. Twice a week, he does the cooking and while he cooks, I put my homework away so we can talk. Either way, whenever we’re both done, we do dishes together.

8:00pm – “If you don’t stop doing homework soon you’re going to be writing in martian.”

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I know two hours isn’t a lot of time, especially compared to what I did in undergrad, but after a full day of emotionally draining work, two hours of theory is a lot. So, instead of trying to push myself past my breaking point, I do two hours every day, except the weekends. On the weekends, I get the bulk of it done.

I clean up the kitchen table and usually one other cleaning thing – the bathroom, picking up clothes, sorting through something. I try to do one little area so that I don’t completely lose my weekend to cleaning.

8:30pm – “What about a shower? I should take a shower. I should always take a shower.”

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I freaking love showers. My sister calls the shower her “reflection chamber” and feel like that’s 100% accurate. Most of the time D and I take a shower together – sorry if that’s TMI, but it’s actually because we do some of our best talking when we’re trapped in the same tiny place together.

9:00pm – “Remember that time you wanted to start a blog?”

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Yep, that’s right. 9pm is prime blog-writing time. No. No, it’s really not. I usually sort through pictures, come up with ideas for posts, try to figure out how people actually get followers, wonder if I actually want followers, get distracted by Pinterest, plan out next weeks meals, realize I was thinking about blogging, start over again from the beginning.

9:45pm – “Remember that time you said you were going to relax more? Do that.”

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9:45 is usually when I crawl into bed, turn on Pretty Little Liars, and lie to myself about how I’m just going to finish the 20 minutes left on this episode.

11:00pm – “Honey, you said you were going to sleep at 9:30…”

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Every night, D reminds me of my constant mission to go to bed on time and how I’m not accomplishing it. Not in a mean way. He just points it out. I make an excuse. He suggests that I might be making an excuse. I huff about it. He lets it go. Then we hug and go to sleep.

I’m not a good sleeper. And as you can probably math from all of this, I usually get about five to six hours a night, which isn’t good for anyone in my life, least of all: me. I really am working on it. I got a Fitbit for Christmas and have set a reminder for 9:30 to start winding down so I can try to be in bed by 10am.

D and I have been talking a lot about what I could take off my plate and put on his to create more time in my day so I can sleep. The housework is the big conversation because right now it’s technically divided equally (in terms of a time/effort combo that we agreed on), but I’m still either not getting enough sleep or not getting enough relaxation. I’m open to suggestions! For real! I know I won’t last long at this pace!

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Thanks for sticking it out, if you made it through this whole thing. I actually didn’t know a day in my life would have this many details and it was really nice to reflect on it.

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November just whisked itself right past me.

At the very end of October, I had my gallbladder out & spent about two weeks recovering.

I had visits and calls from family and friends. My brave mother took me to surgery and brought me home. D cared for me the rest of the week and was a total rockstar. I will say, for any folks out there that might be facing this now or in the future: it’s not as bad as it is in your mind. My incisions hurt more than I thought but for less time than I thought they would. Take the medicine they give you, listen to the doctor, keep everything clean and you’ll be just fine.

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It’s been about a month now and I no longer need as much rest as I did two weeks ago. I basically feel normal now! Probably from all the help I got from this kitten! I still don’t fully understand what I can and can’t eat, but I’m definitely starting to get it, which made Thanksgiving a little complicated, but with every meal I learn a little more.

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Sister’s Boots / My Boots (similar)

My dad is a veteran, so my sister and I took him and my mom to lunch for Veteran’s Day, which turned out to be one of the coldest days we’d had so far. The restaurant was crowded with other veterans and people who came up to say “Thank you,” to my dad (love it!). My sister and I huddled around this little heater that was set up in the lobby.

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We’ve only gotten a couple of flurries so far this year. I’m excited for more; it would be nice to have the beautiful snow to go with the cold. D works for a snow plow company during the winter, so we get to ride around in this during the winter! I prefer my cute little car, but as soon as the ice gets on the road, I’m sure I’ll be batting my eyelashes, trying to convince him to drive me the hour to and from work.

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Salt & Pepper Shaker / Pie Plate

I thought I burned the pumpkin pie this year. It turns out that when you have a deep pie plate, you have to either make more filling, or keep your pie crust almost at the same height as the filling or else it looks burnt. The pie itself was just fine and only the top part of the crust was burnt. There was only one piece left at the end of the night, with five pies and seven people, so I suppose I can say that it turned out delicious.

How to Make Grocery Shopping Less Boring

I don’t like grocery shopping. I try to tell myself I do and it doesn’t work. But I’ve learned some things that make it more bearable.

Step One: Split it up!

I do two different kinds of grocery shopping: a monthly big shop and a weekly little shop. Once a month (sometimes every other month depending on the weather) I drop around or over $100 and I always buy certain staples that either go in the freezer or pantry. Here’s a little breakdown of what that monthly trip looks like:

Grocery List

So that’s a lot of food, but it accounts for usually eating with D, plus hosting people for dinner. I usually have left over of everything except chicken and vegetables. I’ve found that this makes it easier to budget and it’s much easier to grocery shop weekly for twenty minutes and only spend an hour and a half in the grocery store each month.

My weekly grocery list looks something more like this:

Get Some Groceries

Way more confusing. & mostly produce. This means that I can spend most of my time in one area, meaning I’m in and out much faster. The weekly grocery shop has turned into a game that I play, which makes it much more fun!

Step 2: Bring Minimal Supplies

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I bring a very limited amount of things with me when I go grocery shopping: reusable bags, grocery list, headphones, my clutch (similar here) & my phone. If you think about it, it’s really all you need and holding on to your purse just slows the whole process down.

Step 3: Treat Yo Self

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My grocery store has a Starbucks in it and when I do my big monthly shop, I definitely am all about a White Chocolate Mocha (or a White Chocolate Hot Chocolate if it’s night time). But I can’t justify a $4 coffee every week (that’s $20 a month!), so I bring my little coffee mug with me. Yes, I do feel slightly ridiculous. Sometimes I bring my travel mug instead, which makes me feel slightly less ridiculous. I’ve found that having a drink (even just some water) actually makes me feel relaxed, more than anything else.

Step 4: Rock Some Tunes

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My Driving playlist is my go-to for everything, basically, because it’s the right mix of feelings. I don’t always listen to music while grocery shopping if I go early in the morning. But if it’s the afternoon and I want to be in and out as fast as I can, I put headphones in and it helps me stay focused on what I’m doing, and also helps me to enjoy the fact that I get to pick through beautiful, fresh produce.

Step 5: Make it About Others

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I try to challenge myself on each grocery trip to find something for someone else. If it’s under $4, I get it for them (last weekend I got my Chicagoian dad a bag of this popcorn). If it’s more than that, I take a picture of it. My cousin’s girlfriend loves skulls and bright colors so I texted this to her with a little note that I was thinking about her.

My grocery store has more than just groceries; it’s more like a Michigan-only, super clean and friendly Wal*Mart. So I try to give myself a little leeway and spend some time in the Home section, not just strictly spend my time in the food area.

I also don’t always do this – sometimes I get all the way through the check-out lane and discover I got too focused and forgot, so I take a look at my coupons, and if I somehow ended up with coupons for baby formula or something, I pass them to another shopper who I see has a little one. And if all else fails, I give a stranger a compliment and a nice smile.

Step 6: Time Yourself

I know, I know. That sounds so weird. Here’s what happened: I usually do my grocery shopping in between loads of laundry. When I do the laundry, I set a timer because it’s in my apartment complexes basement and I will forget it. Like, for days. So one day, I thought to myself, “I have an hour. What can I do with an hour?” And my grocery list only had like, 10 things on it and my grocery store is 5 minutes from my house. So I tried it — what was the worst that could happen? I got groceries and laundry done at the same time! It. Was. Amazing! So, it became a thing. I do keep my timer on, but I also run the stopwatch on my phone to see if I can get below a certain time.

I tend to like any kind of game, and this is the most compelling grocery shopping game I could come up with.

Step 7: Don’t Leave Your Keys in the Car

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Do you know what that’s a picture of? My car keys, and my wet dress. Because in a freezing, torrential downpour the other day, I couldn’t find my keys as I was leaving the grocery store. I was partway through the parking lot and going through my coat and nothing. I don’t often lock my car, so thankfully, I was able to put the grocery bags in the back and shake my coat out and quickly toss it on the bags and didn’t end up too drenched (my hair would tell another story). I finally told myself to just sit in the front seat and start to retrace my steps, and when I sat down, I found my keys!

This a recurring problem in my life. Remembering what you did with your keys definitely makes for a more pleasant trip to the grocery store!

Step 8: Remember that it’s Okay.

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This was the most soothing image I could find.

Sometimes you spend more than you mean to (would it be good if I talked more about the money of things?). Sometimes it takes a literal 45 minutes to get through the check out lane. Sometimes you totally blank on the fact that you’re having six people over in the middle of the week. Sometimes you get home and learn that you now have seven boxes of pasta when you thought you had none.

Whatever.

That happens to everyone who goes grocery shopping and you know what else happens? Sometimes you spend less than you thought you would. Sometimes you get to talk to the awesome person in line behind you and make a new friend. Sometimes you end up making a super delicious brand new thing for your friends because you have no time to go back to the store. And sometimes, you learn that a friend is having a hard time and you just so happen to have all that pasta you can give to them right at that moment.

They’re just groceries. It’s only a very small chunk of your life and you’ll figure it out eventually. At least, that’s what I tell myself every time I go.

 

How Did I Get Here?

I don’t believe that we can understand right now without understanding what came before it. A thousand trees have lead me to this place, and a thousand bouts of deep laughter.

Family

Those tiniest of feet are mine

I grew up in a coastal town in South Florida with five of the best people I’ve ever met: my mother, my father and my three older sisters. Each of us is very much our own, and very much part of each other.

college

I spent my college years studying Literature and Religion at a large state college in North Florida. I went for college and stayed for the trees and the amazing job I had working with college students & non-profits.

many houses

With a high population of college students, the city I lived in was incredibly transitory – meaning I moved 11 times in the eight years I lived there. My ability to swiftly load a minivan with boxes and move a couch on top of my car are two of the things of which I am most proud.

grateful

A lot of things happened when I turned 24 and I moved back home to be with and help my parents. I took a number of jobs – ghost writing, working with a publisher, marketing a real estate company & tutoring college students – all at once. It was a blissful nine months of risk-taking, beaching and helping the family prepare to move north, to Michigan!

Campus

As much as I grew up in South Florida, I grew up in Michigan. My mother is from here; three of the four of us were born here; and I spent every summer from the time we moved (when I was 2) until I was 21 here. I’ve been living here since 2015. At first I stayed in my parents house with one of my sisters and her husband and my parents. I worked in a hotel for a few months before beginning work at a university that’s tucked into the trees.

And then Javier and I moved again, to a little apartment six minutes from my mom and dad!

Mudbog

In June of 2016, I jumped as far out of my comfort zone as I could come  up with and went to a mud bog (where big trucks go into the mud and try not to get stuck). While I was there, I met a tall, quiet man who I still can’t get enough of.

I don’t super-love trucks, can’t eat twelve tacos in one sitting, and often can’t get out of the details of my own brain. None of those things are true for him, and because of that, I think we balance each other out pretty well.

 

After a million moves, a million jobs, a million cities and ideas, I’m finally holding still. I work full time and am a part-time masters student. Between those two things and the rest of life, I’ve learned to thrive on structure. I love lists, meal prep, cleaning plans – anything that can be put in order or give my life order.

But that’s not always realistic. Sometimes you have to move again. Sometimes you can’t afford curtains and have to figure something else out. Sometimes you turn your back for one minute and the cat is on your kitchen counter eating the corn, or has laid down where you’re supposed to be working.

That’s life. It’s messy. It doesn’t always have clean lines and perfectly made beds and end tables that match. I struggle with that. And while I don’t think I’ll ever hit the point where I’m 100% comfortable wearing pajamas to a cook-out, I am learning how to get right with it. And the learning is messy. So I thought I’d try to write it all down – successes and failures – to help me to remember to trust the process and that life is about living, not arranging.