Updating the House List

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

floor plan

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

 

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

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

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

But a new list is forming.

“Study”

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

img_50521

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

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

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

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

Family Room

IMG_3645

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

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

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

Bathroom

img_5049

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

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

Bedroom

 

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

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

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

The Storage Closet

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

Ugh. But I probably should.

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

The Pantry

img_50551

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Storage Part

img_5054

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

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

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

I need to toss some stuff.

And make a shelf.

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

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

The List

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

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

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

A. Rose (1)

Advertisements

Class Schedule Management

It’s that wonderful time of year again, when the weather starts to turn and every now and then you see a leaf that’s a vibrant orange or red. I love the beginnings of fall. My absolute favorite part? Back to school!

I’m not even being sarcastic – I really love everything about school and learning and school supplies and assignments and readings. #hardcorenerd #lifelonglearner

The toughest part of school, to me, is managing the schedule alongside a full-time job and a new part-time job. I shared a little while ago about how I figure it all out, through a process I’ve been using since I started undergrad (12 years ago!) but I wanted to show you all some extra steps I learned over the Spring/Winter Semester!

 

I’m trying to stop using so much paper. I will probably always be a paper planner person, but I thought I’d try my hand at doing this in Excel. I pulled up both syllabi and reviewed them, looking for common themes. I realized there were four categories the work could be split into:

  1. Readings
  2. Major Assignments
  3. Minor Assignments
  4. Discussion Boards

So I made a spreadsheet and key that looks like this:

Step 1 of Organizing School

I have a hard time keeping the “EDH” and “EDF”‘s separate, so I gave myself a little reminder of what each class was. Then, I started plugging things in, based on the syllabus. But, I did it one week ahead of what the syllabus said. So if something is listed there for the week of October 14, I listed it under the week of October 7, because that’s the week I’ll actually be doing that work in. Does that make sense?

It looked something like this:

Step 2 of Organizing School

You can see how the color coding on the side went. I also made one class blue and the other purple. Last year, I did everything in the same color and wrote the name of the class next to the assignment. I much prefer this way in Excel. Here’s what it started to look like towards the time I was done:

Step 3 of Organizing School

So then, I created a new category called “Working Ahead.” For the items in yellow, I looked at them and what the syllabus says is involved and assumed what that means I’ll need to do. So for example, the week of September 2, we’re picking an issue we care about and we’ll be part of a group that writes and presents on that topic. So, that means, the week of August 26, I had to review the Topics:

Step 4 of Organizing School

I continued that process until the end of the semester for both classes, then I printed it out. I only printed it because I knew I had some times the day I made this when I could put some of these into my planner, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have.

I put the items for each week on long Post Its just like I did last time:

img_5073

BUT, I looked at my calendar as I did this: when are Birthdays? other work stuff? evening events? For those weeks, I printed out some of these great sheets (link is at the bottom of the post; I just wanted to be sure to give you the chance to read her whole post) made by Megan at Honey We’re Home (who, btw, is amazing, y’all). For my really crazy weeks, I just went ahead and filled these out and stuck them in my planner for that week, so I don’t have to use my mental energy to figure it out at that point! #BAM

img_5076

And, for two weeks a head of time, rather than working off a sticky note, I just went ahead and broke the assignments up in to how much I thought I could get done on each day:

img_5075

My hope is that this pre-planning keeps me from feeling the crushing weight of all the things I’m juggling. I keep trying to remind myself that this is a choice I’ve made; these are all things that make me happy, and that it’s okay if I can’t always manage it all.

What kinds of things help you survive hectic times? What do you think is the most useful piece of going to (any level of) school that you carry with you now?

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.

d and j

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)

& 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.


This week has been a doozy! Anyone else caught up in the whirlwind that is summer? I feel like I can’t stop going. I love feeling like I’m getting a lot done, but I definitely need to be more intentional about meditation and taking time for myself to just sit quietly. Any great suggestions on how to do that?

On Saturday, D & I went to a diaper party / quadding adventure, for which I had no clothing. I really don’t own much that can get that kind of dirty. It was originally supposed to just be a cookout, but because of the weather, the hosts suggested clothes you didn’t mind getting covered in mud. My sister swooped in and was the amazing sister she is and helped me find something for $20 that I can wear again and again.

img_4859

I got this baby on Amazon for $8 on Prime Day! I’m not really a big Prime Day / Black Friday shopper, but I always like to look, just in case there’s something I’ve been wanting. My fridge has wire shelves and so pop cans go every which way on them. This is a much better solution, and you barely notice it’s there.

img_4881

One of the ladies I work with had a cucumber explosion in her garden so she brought a bunch into work. I snagged a bunch and am going to try my hand at Dill pickles! I’m a little nervous about it, but the recipe doesn’t seem too hard. I’ll let you know how it goes!

img_4882

I snapped this sad picture this morning. This is the file box I’ve been using since 2005 to keep my life in order. It’s broken, and has been for years. It’s also too small and difficult to put things in. As a result, I end up with stacks of paper all over my house, rather than neatly put away. I need to spend some time with it, figure out what I need to use it for and what I want to use it for, and then I think I’ll need to invest in something more stable and less cumbersome.

img_4831

I’ve also been trying to figure out how to wrangle all my earrings and bracelets. I really wear the same handful of necklaces, but I switch out earrings a lot. I found this one on Amazon, but I think I might try to make it myself, instead, so I can get the size exactly the way I want it. #particular

A. Rose (1)

Quick Fix: Reusable Bags

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

You can read the other Quick Fix post here.


I talked a little bit in this post about how my reusable bags were taking up precious real estate in my coat closet:

IMG_3638

See that glorious long shelf on the right? It’s the one covered in reusable bags that are lying on their side, taking up as much room as possible. When you live in an apartment, you pretty much have to use every single spot as carefully as possible. This shelf was not a good example of that.

Enter stage left, the White Knight of this story.

IMG_3582.jpg

D got me this bakers rack for Christmas two years ago. I highly recommend it if you live in a place without a pantry. Or with. Whichever. It’s amazing. What added some amazingness to it is that the posts that hold the shelves in are not flush with the shelves on top. Meaning they are the perfect place for reusable bags!

IMG_3996.jpg

Which meant that this whole open shelf now gets to have important things on it:

IMG_4547

Dryer sheets – super important
D’s work files – super important
Pink bags – super important
Strange collection of lamps??? – super important

& that’s it! It’s amazing how much a little rearranging can do for a space!

What’s you favorite quick switch like this that you’ve done?

P.S. – My sister got me these reusable vegetable bags for Christmas this past year and holy smokes do I love them! I’ve been working hard at decreasing the amount of waste I produce and these totally help!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.

IMG_3663-EFFECTS.jpg

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

IMG_3883.jpg

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

IMG_3884.jpg

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.

IMG_3885.jpg

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.

IMG_3887.jpg

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:

IMG_3888.jpg

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:

img_3964-e1517002816783.jpg

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.

IMG_3951.jpg

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

IMG_3879.jpg

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.

IMG_3833.jpg

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

IMG_3784.jpg

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:

floor plan

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

IMG_3636

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

IMG_3638
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.

IMG_3582.jpg
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.
IMG_3625.jpg

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

IMG_3640
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

IMG_3641

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.

IMG_3642
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

IMG_3643

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.

IMG_3644

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

IMG_3645

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?

IMG_3646

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

IMG_3647

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.

IMG_3648

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

IMG_3947.jpg

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

IMG_3946.jpg

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

IMG_3948.jpg

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

IMG_3949.jpg

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.”

clock

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.”

IMG_3854.jpg

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.”

IMG_3856.jpg

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.

IMG_3858.jpg


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.”

sleep.jpg

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.”

img_3379.png

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.”

img_3864.png

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.”

IMG_3874.jpg

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.”

IMG_3935.jpg

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.”

IMG_3940.jpg

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.”

IMG_3673.jpg

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?”

IMG_3423.jpg

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.”

IMG_3888.jpg

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.”

IMG_3648

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?”

IMG_3668.jpg

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.”

IMG_3803.jpg

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…”

IMG_3871.jpg

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!

Javi No Eye

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.

How to Survive Grad School (while working full time)

Truth? I don’t 100% have the answer for that. Classes started January 8. I’m taking two: one on Mondays and a hybrid one that meets six Wednesdays a semester. For context, I’m at work from 8am – 5pm and have anywhere from a 30-90 minute commute, depending on the weather. And usually on Saturday night I help D with work from 9pm – 4am.

IMG_3879.jpg

So, there’s not buckets of time, which I’m trying to figure out how to manage. So I thought I’d write down my top 5 things I’ve figured out so far, to help me remember.

1. Don’t be Hyper Organized

IMG_3424.jpg

I know that this seems counter-intuitive, but the thing is: life happens. And it happens. And it happens. I believe in being structured and having a schedule, but I include in my schedule the chance to miss a day of homework. I think it’ll help me out to actually write out how I came up with my current homework schedule, which is working really well.

2. Get Good at Saying No

IMG_3752.jpg

Yep. I know. Annoying. BUT, here’s the thing about saying “no” that took me a long time to figure out: you’re actually being kind to other people when you acknowledge your own limitsIf I tell you I can do something at a time when I’m overwhelmed, I will likely only give it a max of 80% of effort. How does that help you? Whether that’s a conversation or a pie, you aren’t helping by giving only a portion of your attention of something to someone else. So, get good at “no.”

I’m a big fan of “no, because, and.” “No, I can’t come over because I’ve only gotten 10 hours of sleep in the last three days and I want to be able to give you my full attention.” “No, I can’t take on an extra project because I have four going right now and I wouldn’t be able to give you my best work if I added another.” People almost always are like “Yeah! That’s totally fine!”

Note: use this with your boss sparingly.

3. Sleep is Your Friend

IMG_3750.jpg

My moms cat is hilarious

When I was 20, I could operate on 3 hours of sleep a night and still submit/create fabulous work. Now that I’m just a few months away from 30, getting around 6 a night is a serious struggle. I will adapt, but I also know that if I drop below 6, or don’t get more than that on the weekends, I’m going to turn into a zombie who can barely make sentences. I am willing to forego a lot to ensure that I’m getting enough sleep. It doesn’t do me any good to be half-asleep in class, and it’s risky to be half-asleep at work.

4. Meal Plan/Prep on the Weekends

meal plan

I cannot stress this enough. You can totally fly through life and never meal plan if you’re better at choosing healthy options than me. I just really like foods that don’t contribute to my overall health and what I’ve found is that when I don’t have something already with me, I’m not going to stop somewhere and get a salad – I’m going to stop somewhere and get a fried thing, or a carb-filled thing or a thing full of refined white sugar.

On the weekends, I fill up four mason jars with fruits (I keep yogurt and granola at work), make three or four salads, bag fruits and veggies for snacks and plan dinners. I look at my class schedule and my homework schedule and use that to determine how much of whatever it is I’m making. I take leftovers with me to class and on heavy homework days, I make sure to throw something in the crock pot the morning of. This is giving me good, natural energy and saving me a lot of money.

5. Post Why You’re Doing What You’re Doing

Desk

In undergrad, I had to get homework done. I needed A’s and I needed to get through it to get a job. That was it. I learned a lot. I had a lot of fun. But it wasn’t in my soul the way this program is. On some level, I’m in grad school because I can’t move up and get a better job with more pay without it because the field I’m in. That’s never not going to be true. But what brought me here is the idea that I cannot stop caring about children and education and the things that influence both. I would stop being me if I stopped caring.

And so all over my desk at work and all over my house, are these reminders that the purpose of me going isn’t to get it over with: it’s to be fully inside of it and soak up every little detail as best I can. That’s what will make the difference in the end.