Bedroom Art for Less

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Rose (1)

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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:

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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

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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:

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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)

How to Budget When You’re (Close to) Broke

Ahhhh… Money. Everyone’s favorite topic, right?

Ugh.

It’s one of my least favorite things to talk about. But as I’ve been writing these posts, I’ve realized how much of my behavior is dictated by trying to save money in these little ways. So I thought it might be helpful to write these things down. Maybe make a little series of it.

Here’s the thing though: I’m not a financial adviser or banker or accountant. I’m just a young person who has mostly worked in education and has only managed to make over $11 / hour in the last two year years. If you need serious financial counsel, I highly recommend you consult a professional. But if you just want to learn how to not be freaked out about money all the time, these tips might help.

Copy of Christmas in September

There’s a lot out there on how to make a little side money, and things that people will tell you (like turning off lights in the room you’re not in) to pinch pennies and legit – those things are great and I definitely recommend that you do them.

But there’s this other piece that people don’t know about, I think: how to not feel afraid when it’s time to pay the rent; how to purchase groceries in a way to make sense; and how to still be able to go out with your friends everyone once in a while.

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I’ll be real honest: its taken me almost six months to write this because the topic of money stresses me out so much. So we’re in this fear together. Let’s start with the real game-changer: actually making a budget.

What’s a budget?

A budget is a detailed list of expected income / expenses. Your income and expenses should match. Start by listing every expense you can think of. For me this looks something like this:

Rent
Utilities
Cable & Internet
Credit Card
Medical
Gas
Food
Fun
Fun food
School Book Money
Misc.

Note: You always want to have a “misc” category – that’s where things like birthday presents come from.

Then, add in the “fixed” rates. So let’s say we have $1000 to work with (because that’s easier). Fill-in what you know isn’t going to change:

Rent: $400
Utilities
Cable & Internet: $80
Credit Card: $25
Medical
Gas
Food
Fun
Fun food
School Book Money: $10 (I know I’ll need X amount of money each semester, so I set a small amount aside each month)
Misc.

That’s $515, so you have $485 left over. Next, overestimate each of your monthly bills.

Rent: $400
Utilities: $50
Cable & Internet: $80
Credit Card: $25 (minimum payment)
Medical: $50
Gas
Food
Fun
Fun food
School Book Money: $10
Misc.

Notice the things that aren’t bills. Those are the things you can flex and challenge yourself to bring down.

So now, we’re at $615, meaning we have $385 leftover. I typically do gas before food, because gas gets me to the job that lets me buy the food. I also have a lengthy commute. If you don’t, or if you have a family to feed, you might need to do food first. Estimate how much you think you spend each month on those things:

Rent: $400
Utilities: $50
Cable & Internet: $80
Credit Card: $25 (minimum payment)
Medical: $50
Gas: $60
Food: $100
Fun
Fun food
School Book Money: $10
Misc.

So now we’re at $775, meaning we have $225 leftover. So, that looks like a lot of money to have fun with. Except we’ve only listed expenses. We haven’t listed savings. Month-to-month, my Fun, Fun food, and Misc category change.

There are seven birthdays in the first two weeks of August, so July has a pretty big Misc. section, but Fun as like, $10 in it because I spend so much time just being outside (which is free).

You can do this two ways: you can decide you’re going to save a specific amount and the remainder goes to fun, or you can decide you’re going to spend a specific amount and the remainder goes to savings.

Giving you the option is really counter to what literally everyone says about money, including my dad who taught me how to make a budget.

What I’ve learned over the years, though, is that you will never stick to a budget that isn’t honest. For most of my life, my Fun Food category was four times the size of my actual Food category because I hated cooking. It didn’t feel “grown up” to have things arranged that way, but it did keep me in check.

Those are the basics. What do you think? What about this is scary or feels good or is both at the same time?

A. Rose (1)

Quick Fix Friday: Shower Shelf Dilemma

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

Copy of QFF_ Trading Spaces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So. Easy.

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

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

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

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Glorious!

Seriosuly: why did I wait so long?

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

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

A. Rose (1)

Limiting your Wordrobe

When I wrote this day in the life post, I talked about having a limited amount of clothing options for work.

The truth is, I sort of generally have a limited amount of clothing options.

Closet

I try not to have more than 5 work outfits that work in all temperatures and then 5 work outfits per season (season for this Florida girl is defined as hot and not hot) and 4 “play” outfits. So 14 outfits in rotation at a time. Of course, you can mix and match pants / jeans / tops, and I do own six cardigans. But that’s it.

I own two pairs of jeans, grey and black slacks (one pair each) and three skirts (jean, black and grey). Everything else is dresses, and I typically only have 4-5 per season.

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My family and friends are always like “Hoooooowwwww?” and “Whyyyyyyy?” because it’s definitely not common to operate this way.

What really happened is that I hate laundry.

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I started out the way most people do: by getting rid of clothes I don’t like or don’t wear, but I still found myself doing six to eight loads at a time! As a single person, that’s nutty. What was happening is that I hate it so much that I just wasn’t doing it, so it built up and turned into this monster task that took forever and reinforced how awful it is to me.

So, I started to think about how my sister told me once that dreadlocks were a sign of giving up the sin of vanity. I’ve always loved that idea. And I love the idea of not regularly supporting a society that tells me that I must have the current trend, the prettiest hair, the best of everything.

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I like certain things that I don’t really want to give up; things like my Pandora bracelet, flowy dresses and nail polish. I’m not trying to go rogue with my look. But this amount of clothing works for me and picking out an outfit for work in the morning isn’t hard because there are so few things to choose from.

The truth is: I love to get dressed up. I love to window shop and create and come up with a style. Love it. And if my schedule were more laid back, I would probably bring in some more options. Maybe. I seriously hate laundry that much,  y’all.

Mixture of Whites

But one thing I’ve learned from a combo of time and reading (shout out to you sharing your journey, Megan, it’s made a huge difference to me!) and getting older, it’s that need to feel good. I need to look in the mirror and like what I see when I have no clothing on at all.

Learning how to embrace my body has made me care both more and less about what clothes I put on it. I insist on high quality, only wear things that are comfortable, and require they be adorable. But, I also don’t need gobs of clothing like I used to because it’s my body that’s great, not my closet. My wallet thanks me for this.

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Now, if having a lot of clothing is important to you and you don’t mind (or have to do) the laundry that goes with it then rock ‘n’ roll – keep it up and keep doing what you love the way you love it!

I’d like to know – how do you keep your closet feeling fresh and clean? What kinds of things do you love that are in there? What’s your relationship with your clothes?

A. Rose (1)

Quick Fix Friday: Trading Spaces

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.

QFF_ Trading Spaces

You might remember my little galley kitchen from my Apartment Tour post.

It looks something like this:

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When you’re a renter, there’s not much you can do about 70’s faux-wood cabIinets with cream counter tops, so you just have to appreciate your kitchen for its’ deep sink, massive storage (relative to the size of the space) and random potato drawer that makes you smile.

I took this photo on a day when things were kind of just how they are – not when I was just done cooking, but not when I had just finished cleaning – because I want this to be an honest space.

So, what’s not lovely is what happens when D comes in and all the things in his hands go on the counter in front of the microwave, which means the microwave can’t be used without moving all those things. I usually don’t notice until I’m in the middle of cooking something and my hands are full. Then, I get frustrated.

So I went through a thousand ideas: should D have a backpack? should I chill out? should I ask him to put things somewhere else? does that fit with my ideas of organic organizing? What about a shelf in the front hall? Do I even need a microwave? The questions kept coming.

Then, one day, I just decided to move the microwave and man-oh-man was it the right decision!

Updated Counter

This may not look like much, especially since there are still items on the counter, but f’rill – it’s a HUGE change. Now there’s space on the counter for dinner dishes that need to be washed; there’s still space on the right side of the sink to prep foods; and, best of all, D’s stack of items is no longer in front of the thing I need.

So just a little reminder that sometimes the best solution is the simplest.

What kinds of things have you switched around that made a big impact?

The Situation

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

It looks something like this:

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And this:

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*Sigh*

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

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

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

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

So I’m going to!

I started a little plan up:

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

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