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The Sort-of Single Life

31 Aug

First, a couple little updates in the nesting department. My milkshake room is still working its magic on me:

Some new touches.

 

I’m starting to throw in the reds and pinks and so far, it’s still looking cute as it did in my head. What do you think?

We also got our bed! Yay! And I found out how much I hate Ikea. Yep.

Best $100 bed ever.

 

The bed is super tall. Way taller than I expected, at least. I actually have to give a little hop to get onto it but it’s lovely. I’m thinking it’s a good solution to our shoe storage problem too. My next step is to find some under-bed storage that I can throw all our copious amounts of footwear into.

Now, I’ve got some good news and some bad news: Will is gone to Vegas for three months. Oh, that was both the good and the bad news.

Even though I miss him terribly sometimes, I actually really love my alone time. There’s a ton of not-so pleasant chores I have to take on now that he’s gone like taking out the trash, sending the bills, and taking the recycling to the center but there’s a lot of nice things too. I have the entire bed. Wait, actually I only have half the bed because Luca has taken over his side…but it’s still better than the third that my two bed-partners usually leave me. And the thing I’m really excited about? Cooking whatever I want!

Cooking is mostly Will’s thing. It gives him a way to unwind after work and it gives me one less thing to worry about. There’s no doubt about it; cooking can be very relaxing with all the aromas and tastes. For me, though, cooking is only something I do when I have to. I don’t actually like it and sometimes it’s even stressful to me. I can feel rushed and nervous about the outcome–it’s just not fun for me but I want it to be. The thing is, when it comes to food, I don’t really know what I love. That’s unusual for me. Typically I know exactly how I feel about almost everything. I eat food that’s good to me, but would I say I love eating? Not so much and it complicates things, including my health. I rarely ever feel the urge to snack between meals and that’s part of the reason I have issues with low blood sugar. I only eat when I have to, when I know it’s good for me.

So. I want to begin a love affair with food while my husband is gone. For my health and for my happiness, I want to be happier in the kitchen.

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The Mismatched Life

19 Aug

I finally did it! Last Friday I had a sudden stroke of motivation and I decided it was past time to paint the dining room.

Now, don’t laugh when you see this but…

Ta-da!

I know, I know. The colors don’t go together even using every bit of my imagination. As some of you may remember, I went through pretty much every shade of brown and gray before making a realization about myself.

I don’t like neutrals.

At least not on my walls. After I gave into this fact and made my peace with using another colorful color, I went to my one-stop shop for color inspiration (Creature Comforts) and looked up swatches that could be used with yellow. I fell in love with this one:

Since the first two are the dominant colors in my living room, I decided I liked the second two for the dining room and kitchen. I dashed off to Lowe’s and picked out a few sample containers for colors that looked similar. Since I didn’t have a print out, I went by memory. I tried a little of two colors: a minty color (that I wound up keeping) and a more teal color that’s actually dead on for the light teal tile above. I fell in love with the mint color, though. I stared at it up close, from a distance, looked at it with the yellow and told myself I had no reason to be so enamored with it. It clearly didn’t match. I walked off and came back in. I tried a little more of the teal. I went back to Lowe’s planning to get the teal paint but when I was asked I pointed to the mint color in my purse. It was my soul mate.

So that’s the story of how I wound up with mismatched color progression going down the hallway. Since finishing the job, I’ve thought a bit about how to make the transition a little more cohesive and was puzzled up until yesterday. I was gazing into the dining room, fondly admiring my work, and I thought to myself how much it looked like a minty milkshake. I pictured it in a tall, pretty glass with a retro, red-and-white striped straw sticking out and smiled. I’m going to accent it with reds and pinks. Since both the colors are also used in the living room, I think throwing in those pops of color will make things blend much better. I’m also going to make sure that the art work is very similar to that in the living room and maybe even from the same artists, if I can swing it.

So, this is my Milkshake Room. 🙂

Divying Up the Chores

9 Aug

It’s one of the first orders of business when figuring out how to live with another person and it’s always a tough job. You can’t decide how to approach the conversation of telling someone else what you think their chores should be because that seems so harsh. And then what do you do when the other person doesn’t hold up their end of the deal? There’s another awkward confrontation. “Uh, remember that deal we made where you do the laundry? Yeeeah, doesn’t look like you’ve been doing that.” Since I’ve now been living with someone (lovely who is never, ever an issue ;)) for almost ten months, I have a small amount of insight on how to take the sting away from sharing chores.

Remember that in my situation, I’m home for a good 75% of the week so in our case, I do around 80% of the chores. In most people’s lives, this isn’t the case but I think there may still be someone who can draw wisdom from my suggestions.

Amount of chores per person should be based somehow on how long each of you are home. As I just illustrated, if one of you spends more time than the other in the house, that person should naturally do more. I don’t mean that if someone is constantly going out with friends or partying that they shouldn’t spend anytime helping out around the house, though. I mean that your portion of the chores should depend on the time that you’re not working.

If your roommate/partner likes a certain chore more than you do, let him/her handle it. That’s one less thing to worry about. You may have someone who doesn’t like to do anything, though and I’ll get to that in a bit.

If you have something that you like done in a way that is uniquely and precisely your style, it’s polite to take that as your job. Because assigning dish-washing to your friend and then fussing at her for leaving a tiny particle of cheese on the bottom of the plate is a bit rude. Also under this category, don’t criticize anyone who is genuinely trying to help out. It can cause a lot of insecurity to look at the other person’s work and say, “but you just did it all wrong.” Then what’s the point of them even doing it? If you really must, offer suggestions…but nicely. Otherwise, deal with the little imperfections and realize that they’re better than no help at all.

When you get to the things that neither of you like to do, make sure you have an equal number of chores that make you frown.  That’s what sharing is all about. Some people can never be made happy no matter how fair you are, though, and it’s important to show that you’re both sucking it up. At least if they’re going to be cry-babies, they can’t cry about you being so unfair.

Try to steer clear of alternating days/weeks. It’s confusing but if you really must, then you must.

Now that you’ve set up your lists and schedules, let me share my method for handling chores that aren’t being done.

1. I try to wait a little while and see if the accumulation of things triggers the other person’s memory. Like if my partner is supposed to help with the laundry, I see if letting all the baskets fill up makes it easier to remember. However, this could become a negative kind of avoiding and if you’re not careful, could become passive aggressive. So…

2. The moment that it starts to actually annoy you, have a sit-down with the other person. Or just give a little suggestion. “Hey, it would really help out if you could do the dishes tonight. We’re running out of clean cups.” If it’s consistent, then a come-to-Jesus meeting might be necessary. Just don’t let it go on bugging you because life’s too short not to share what’s getting under your skin with the person you care about. You always want to give a friend a chance to improve.

3. I think this is especially important if you’re in a relationship/marriage with the person you’re living with: never do it for him/her. Mainly because it will make you mad and will sprout a tiny hang nail that will never really get plucked until one day you explode like, “I always have to clean the tub out for you! Why don’t you love me?!” My rule is, if it would upset me to do it, I don’t. I don’t martyr myself like that, ever. Now, if I feel like doing something nice for hubs, I certainly do but that’s different.

Well, I hope this experience comes in handy for you. Hubs is going to join in later this week with a little guest post on advice for new husbands (and maybe even for some of us ladies on how to handle them). I’m so happy I could just pinch his cheek. 😀

Home and Life Improvements

14 Jul

I have to tell you, I suffered one of the worst days I’ve had in months yesterday. Despite all the positive steps and plans I’ve made to reach my goals, I just can’t predict how my body is going to act anymore..and that’s okay. I was in some serious pain and feeling extremely emotional but in the moment, I was actually a little grateful that I had the opportunity to start learning how to cope so soon after deciding that’s what I need. I learned that having a perfect diet occasionally won’t deter feeling like the devil lives in my head and the only thing I can do is take a hot bath, block out the noise, and just lie with a good book and something lavender scented. (Okay, just this one time, I’m going to say something that can be construed as self-pitying and then we’ll move on. If your body regulates itself in a healthy manner, routinely preventing migraines, nausea, and nutrient-related mood swings/anxiety attacks, you go ahead and give it a big hug. Indulge in dessert for lunch, slack a little at the gym, sleep in, and otherwise love your body a little more.)  Anyway, I beat the Sugar Monster and today I took a victory lap.

As part of our adjusting for Will’s promotion, we made a small allotment for home improvements…which we didn’t actually have before. Basically, I have $20 every two weeks to make little upgrades here and there. Today I went to the craft store to pick up some supplies for a friend’s gift and while I was there, I got inspired to fix our vase situation.

You remember the vase situation, right?

At first I wasn’t sure if I liked them so I took votes and…well, you actually told me to get rid of them. But I didn’t because for some reason, I believed in the vases. I thought with some better inserts and maybe something to raise them, they’d look good. And you know what? They do look a lot better.

I don’t know if I would call them perfect and I’ll probably play with them a little more but I think I can officially declare them “good enough.”

The best news is that those boxes are filled with DVD’s (36 to be exact) and I can now get rid of our broken DVD stand that you see in the front right. Hooray! So if you’re looking for little boxes like these, they’re $1.66/each at Michael’s right now. They even come with little cataloging slips to keep your goods sorted. Who wouldn’t get them?

Willow-y branches are from Pier 1 at $8/each.

I did good. 🙂

Asking for Help and a Finished Bookcase

10 May

Hi, readers! Welcome back from your weekend. I had a great one celebrating a best friend’s graduation from nursing school and spending time with my mom, grandma, and mother-in-law. It was a perfect time to appreciate my inherited and chosen families. I really am a lucky girl to have life-long friends and wonderful women to guide me through life. I hope you spent some time reflecting on the women who shaped your life this weekend, too.

So weeks ago I told you that hubs and I were going to finish our bookcase project together and…well, we were finished with it by the end of that day. We didn’t predict that the paint wouldn’t go on well, even with a primer, and when we were through and went to put in the shelves, it all scraped off in an instant. Irritated and exhausted, we let my parents take it home with them the next weekend to fix the paint and along the way, my mom added a cute panel to the backing.

See?

That’s the close-up of one shelf.

This is the whole thing, shiny and new.You can see that we still need to touch up with some white paint around the edges and we need to add our cut-outs to the corners, but otherwise, it’s basically done. My parents were so awesome to help us out and I didn’t feel bad about asking. If there’s one thing I learned from the wedding planning experience, it’s that some people are waiting for you to ask them to help and it’s okay (and even nice) to give them something to do. If you’re like me, it’s contrary to your nature to ask for help because you feel like you’re burdening someone else with your problems. It’s been hard for me to grow into, but I’ve accepted that when you’re overwhelmed, you’re really not doing anyone any favors. The people you love are there to relieve you and balance your load and that can open you up to work on more constructive things. It can help you focus on and contribute to your community and family in healthier ways. So, let someone help. You know, every now and then.

Anyway, if you’re working on a similar project, here are my tips:

If you’re working on a cheap-o laminated bookcase like mine, sand down the areas you want to paint before spraying them. Even primer can’t make the paint cling to that coating. You absolutely must sand first.

Spray adhesive is the best way to make your material/paper lay against the shelves. I tried stapling it all first and it was still a little more loose than I liked because the surfaces are so slick.

Or, buy an actual wooden shelf if you can. It’ll be a dozen times easier to work with if you can afford it.

Here’s the almost finished product:

Not bad, right?

Thanks Mom and Dad. 🙂

Jolly Good Gardening

7 Apr

One of our raised beds is finished! I’ve named this one Bertha and it’s closet to the steps leading to our back door. I’m really proud of this bed because it turned out to be more work than I expected with a layer of dense clay, pebbles everywhere, grass, remainders from the previous flowers I removed with a vengeance, and one hefty root that I sawed in half with a tactical knife and pulled out with my bare hands. Mwahahaha!

But really, I’m glad it’s done and I can move on to the next one. Here are some close-ups of the darling things.

The beautiful salvia.

This is May Night Salvia. They’re gorgeous purple stocks with vibrant green leaves and they’ll grow to be almost two feet tall, which will work well to cover some the ugly brick behind them. They’re mounding perennials which means they’ll return next year and they’ll grow in the shape of a big ball of color. They’re water wise so they don’t require much care after establishment and they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. They’re not very fragrant.

The boldest wallflower I've ever seen.

These are Fragrant Sunshine Wallflowers. They’ll grow upright in stocks and will reach around 18 inches, which should layer well with the Salvia. They smell wonderful and are also water wise, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds…and also Marco as I caught him in the bed right after planting them.

Little, leaping Lantana.

The smallest flowers in the bed are Lantanas which will leap one day to 12-20 inches. They’re mounding perennials like the Salvia but actually, I’ve found they don’t do so well after the first year. Anyway, these are famous butterfly bushes and they’re also water wise.

I have some more good news for those of you following the bookcase dilemma. It looks like I can finally finish it tomorrow with some help from Hubs. Hooray!

Good Will Giving and Freedom from Stuff

6 Apr

Before Hubs and I got married, there was a lot of conversation over the kind of life we wanted. We talked about the way we imagined our futures and spent a lot of time mulling over the kind of life we wanted to share. Something we both agreed on was that we wanted to live without attachments to our things. If we wanted to pick up and move to a big city where we could only afford a 500 sq. foot studio apartment, we wanted to be able to do that and to be happy chasing that dream. When we actually moved into a tiny house the size of my old one bedroom apartment, we started realizing how active you have to be in minimizing your junk to fit into a small space and exactly how liberating the feeling is when you can send something big off to Goodwill. We are two very content minimalists and here are some key things we’ve learned:

Our golden rule for wardrobe management: “If you don’t wear it in two weeks, give it away.” With almost no closet space to speak of, we both shrunk our clothing “needs” uhm, by a lot. I have about five t-shirts, five tank tops, two pairs of jeans, two pairs of shorts, and a handful of cardigans, jackets, and accessories that I wear routinely and that works for me. If I don’t want my wardrobe size to be obvious, I think about what I wore the last time I saw someone or went somewhere and I consciously switch it up. If I absolutely can’t stand my clothes anymore, I have to give away in proportion to what I buy. Also, I try to pick things that I know will stay in style for a long time. A good pencil skirt or a classic cardigan. I actually don’t buy many things with prints on them because they change every season, so if I want to add detail, I accessorize, especially with scarves. And yes, the same absolutely goes for shoes. I only have about three pairs of shoes that I wear often.

Packing away winter clothing is something totally different but also really important to making you feel liberated from clutter. Keep a couple warm things and then put the rest away in a box or somewhere out of the way. No need to have those big coats hogging your closet space.

Although we are avid users of electronics, deciding where they should be is crucial: There are some places where you just don’t want the option of flipping on the television or getting on your computer. Everybody probably has different ideas for what areas should be electronic-free but for us, we drew a hard line at the bedroom. A lot of people swear by watching TV before bedtime but as someone who used to do it, not only do I sleep better without it but it also makes the bedroom kind of sacred in a way. It’s a place for talking ourselves to sleep and playing cards cross-legged on the bed and it’s a refuge when we’re just tired of cable and video games and facebook. Less is definitely more for us in that area of the house so we keep our bedroom pretty simple and comfy and I think it makes it that much more of a restful place. Some of you may insist on eating dinner at the table without TV distractions or you may have a library without a computer. I think we can all agree that in some places, it’s more rewarding not to have distractions.

Grocery shop only for a few days ahead of time: I bet you this will save you money and weight in your trash bag as you throw out unused produce. Even with just the two of us, Hubs and I are bad for buying things we never wind up eating in time. Even though I actually like the look of a full refrigerator (that’s an evolutionary comfort), what I like more is the feeling of not wasting money with each moldy crown of broccoli we prevent.

When it comes to furniture, think of what you would use every day: Because if you don’t use it every day, you don’t need it clogging your life. We all have our little luxuries like the dining room table or the guest bedroom we (almost) never use, and that’s fine when you’re not really serious about superficial furnishings and space. Some people like to have rooms and things they don’t use just for decoration or comfort, but I want you to do a little exercise with me.

Envision your house without all the things you never or very, very rarely use. Does it make you uncomfortable to imagine that blank space? Well then, think about shrinking that space down, like it almost never existed, and then imagine how you would feel without that area to clean or that thing to dust or all that extra room to add dollars to your bills. Do you feel lighter, slightly relieved, or just happier? Maybe it’s time to think about how much you’ve built your life around finding space for your stuff or about the things you’ve told yourself you need.

And that is actually the key to living free from your stuff. Just thinking those thoughts and imagining your space with and without that item and deciding if you really, truly need that or if all your desire will just later become a burden. See yourself as a person who uses things and not a person who needs them. Also see yourself as someone who will not be judged by your stuff because if you are, then the person doing the judging is probably a jerk who shouldn’t matter anyway.

Also, does anyone want some casserole dishes?