Do you ever stop to think about the little things in your life that make you you?
I don’t. Or, at least, I didn’t used to. Which is funny to me because, as you’ve probably worked out by now, I’m a fairly introspective person. I think a lot about what I feel and why I feel it and what do I wish would have happened and why is that important to me and what does that say about me as a human being.
It can be exhausting.
But as much thought as I put into those things, it’s really not until I suddenly don’t feel like myself that I start to analyze who (or what) exactly I am.
For example, we moved a few weeks ago. (Yuck.) Not on the list of my favorite ways to spend a weekend, but the real worst part of moving to me is that your life is in complete disorder for at least a couple of weeks. Clothes are in random boxes in random rooms, dishes are buried under boxes of towels, and the thought of cooking at home (and thereby increasing the already overwhelming mess) is enough to induce tears. (Or maybe that’s just me?)
So for a few weeks, you wear boring outfits because God only knows where your accessories (or even your favorite jeans) are. And you eat takeout for every meal until your Seamless delivery guy starts to call you by name. And you shuffle and sidle around boxes so much you almost forget what it’s like to walk in a straight line through your own dang living room.
Hypothetically, of course.
Of course, I know that these things bother me, but it wasn’t until this weekend that I really started to analyze why. It wasn’t until I finally cleared away the majority of the boxes, set up our kitchen, and organized my clothes. When Joey and I had finally blocked off the living room and tossed the mound of cardboard molding on our patio. And suddenly…we could actually live in our apartment.
And immediately I started to feel more like myself.
Which…is weird? Because it’s not like you ever stop being yourself. But I had stopped being me in the way I define it. As someone who stays very organized. Who plans their outfits and puts some effort into their hair. Who can make their own breakfast before leaving the house. Who can walk from the kitchen to the bathroom without risking life and limb.
And maybe these are silly, surface things. So maybe I’m a silly, surface person. (See what I mean about the dangers of introspection?)
Now, I’m of course being a bit dramatic here. When I say “what defines me,” I am perfectly aware that there are myriad other things that make up who I am besides the fact that I appreciate a well ordered linen closet and shoes that perfectly mismatch with an outfit. But there’s something to be said for how having those things makes me feel — about my life and myself.
Which made me wonder…what are your things that make up you? Look at it like a desert island game: If you could only have five things every day to make you feel human, what would they be?
Judgment-free zone — there’s no way your list is shallower than a 1-inch curling iron.
It’s supposed to be marginally warmer today, so I’m trying to think all the spring thoughts I can.
And that means dreaming about our new patio! I mentioned yesterday that the patio/yard is one of the best features of our new apartment, and Joey and I are both excited about the possibilities of barbecues, al fresco dinners, and not having to walk Bogey down four flights of stairs every time he needs to pee.
Naturally, we’ve both started thinking about what we would like to do with the space. Here are a few of our initial ideas.
I’d love to turn half of the patio into a seating/dining area with storage benches and a table we can seat at least six around when company comes over. I’d also like to grow a few of our own herbs (a project I undertook a few years ago indoors with…questionable results)(bugs, they spawned bugs), possibly from hanging planters on the chain link fence.
Joey almost immediately started pricing small grills on Craigslist, a project I fully endorse since we have more than enough room and burgers are delicious.
Finally, I’d move our string lights (currently hanging from our curtain rod in the living room) outdoors whenever we wanted a little mood lighting.
The real question is what to do with the dirt patch side of the yard. Ideally, I’d like at least part of it to be grass for the Boges, but that leads to the question of maintenance — we’re not buying a lawn mower. So maybe…mulch? Rocks? I’d like a couple tomato plants on the other half of the dirt, and maybe some other easy-to-grow-and-hard-to-kill veggies. I’m open to suggestions!
Fraaaaands! First, I want to formally apologize for being such a Grumpy Gus the last few posts. Ugh, stress. But in a weirdly-unlike-me-because-things-rarely-just-work-out-for-me twist, I had two of my major stresses resolve last Friday. One had to do with work (blah blah blah) and the other had to do with our apartment situation.
WE FOUND A PLACE!
Even better, we found a place that, while I would be a dirty liar if I said it was actually perfect, is pretty great for a lot of reasons.
Reason #1: It has an extra room, SIX closets, and THREE additional storage areas (a boiler room, a closed off staircase, and an unfinished back room that will henceforth be known as the garage). It’s actually ridiculous how much storage space we have. The bedrooms are actually probably a tiny bit too small, but because we now only have to put a bed and a dresser in it, it really doesn’t matter that much.
Reason #2: It has a YARD. Not a big yard, but half of it is a cement patio (helloooo, summer shindigs) and the other half is dirt that we can do whatever we want with. I would love to make some of it grass for the Boges and the rest a couple tomato plants or something, but I’ll keep you posted.
Reason #3: It’s the basement of a house, but because the door opens in the back to the yard, we have our own private entrance. I am quite over buildings, y’all.
Reason #4: Our landlords are the sweetest little Italian couple you could possibly imagine. A few of the first things they said to us were, “You can stay as long as you want, we will never raise your rent” and “If you need anything, you call me and I run! You see how close I am? I run!” It’s like having our grandparents live a few houses away.
Reason #5: It’s only $25 a month more than what we were paying before, meaning we might actually be able to build up a respectable savings account over the next couple of years.
I’m going to be totally honest: It’s a little…er…cozy apartment. We’ll have to keep it neat to keep it from feeling cramped. But I’m thinking those NINE storage areas will probably help.
Anyway, I am very excited. AND I realized there’s one space I still need to plan — the patio! Stay tuned for updates.
This morning has been supremely irritating, so I’m using this blog post to deliberating only think about things that make me happy.
For example, something irritating: My apartment hasn’t had heat or hot water for over 12 hours (on top of the regularly spotty heat we normally enjoy). Now, I could pitch a fit, but I already did that in the email and phone call I had with our building owners.
But instead of continuing to rant and rave, I’m redirecting this burst of fiery anger energy into something fun. Like thinking about how I’ll decorate our NEW (and hopefully properly regulated) apartment! Yay!
Now, we don’t have the exact place yet, so everything I’m saying here is subject to change based on layout, etc. But, in general, here’s what I’m thinking.
This last year was the first time I felt like I successfully decorated the bedroom, at least to a degree. It was never perfect, but I have been plans for the new apartment. I was extremely inspire by this mood board I found on Pinterest:
It’s not wildly different from the color palette we have going on already — the main difference I would make would be to swap out the mint for a richer navy to match our current bedding. I’m hoping to sell our current bed (here on Craigslist if you’re in the Greater NYC area!) and purchase a bed frame with an upholstered headboard that I have my eye on from Joss & Main. Then I’d like to use this tutorial to create a nightstand/dresser for Joey. A few framed pictures and a navy lamp or two, and we’ll be in business.
Our Living Room
Honestly, I really like how our living room ended up before we left, so I’ll probably leave this much as is.
The only change I would make? Painting the walls a light gray, and updating our desk to something a bit sturdier, like this option from IKEA:
Our Kitchen/Dining Area
A rental kitchen is always a bit of a crapshoot, so I really can’t make too many plans without seeing ours. One thing I know I would like to do if possible, though? Add a chalkboard wall.
I feel like the dark walls even off-set those ugly oak cabinets everyone seems to install (for unknown reasons…I’m assuming you can get them somewhere for free or something). Depending on the current kitchen and how much we are paying, I would also consider installing some sort of temporary backsplash. Home Depot sells a peel-and-stick version that is apparently easy to remove later, and if it makes me happier to be in my kitchen every day, that could be worth the cost to me.
As for the dining area, this will only work if I can find a way to combine it with the living room (or if the kitchen is magically huge). But if that works out, I’d like some kind of rustic wooden table with our existing white chairs on all but one side where I would but a wooden (preferable storage) bench.
So that’s what I’ve got rolling around in my brain these days. Obviously this doesn’t cover every room, but I feel better having a good handle on the spaces where we spend most of our lives.
Here’s hoping for a smooth move (preferably to an apartment with heat and hot water).
Remember two years ago when Joey and I moved to Astoria? Remember what a wreck I was and how I could barely even discuss anything without somehow bringing it back around to how much I hated moving?
Yeah, I don’t really like thinking about that time either.
But alas, the time has come again for Joey and I to find a new apartment. (Pray for me.)
I’m hoping this round goes smoother for a couple of reasons:
1. Joey and I have moved together before. I’m hoping this shared experience will be something we can learn from and help us to avoid the bulk of the stress this time around.
2. We’re moving within an area we are much more familiar with. When we first moved to Queens, we knew next to nothing about the area except that it was more affordable than Brooklyn but just as convenient to Manhattan. This time around, we have actual opinions about neighborhoods and a better idea of what we should be paying.
I’m also hoping to allay some of the stress by giving myself a month and a half to pack, so when we do finally find our digs, we’ll only need to worry about transporting our already carefully packed boxes and belongings.
Here’s a list of everything I hope to accomplish by the end of March:
1. Sell our bed. There’s nothing wrong with the bed, it’s just not my style anymore. But if anyone out there is looking for a storage bed from PB Teen (in perfect condition), let me know.
2. Get rid of as much extraneous clothing and clutter as possible. Anyone who knows me knows this is something I do frequently, so it shouldn’t take long to go through what has remained.
3. Pack. Everything. Woof.
4. Find an apartment. (Just like that, right?)
5. Book movers. In the past, we’ve relied on the kindness of friends to make a move. But last time, we agreed that the next time we moved would be with professional help. Subjecting our friends to our fourth-floor walk-up is a quick way to not HAVE any friends anymore.
That’s not too bad, right? Five things. It’s easier to think of it as five big things than a million small tasks.
Anyway, just wanted to update you on why the radio silence for so long. I’m BUSY. But I promise to have fun things to talk about when the dust settles.
How often do you cook at home each week?
When the hubs and I first got hitched, I cooked often. Joey hadn’t get discovered his love of the culinary, which meant it was either eggs every night or I take on most of the cooking duties. But while I enjoy cooking, I found myself often making pretty much the same thing every night. (This was a weekly staple.)
Fast-forward almost four (!) years later, and the roles have almost entirely reversed. And while I love (LOVE) how often and well Joey cooks, sometimes I miss it. But, to be totally honest, cooking had started to bore me. My veggie-loaded pastas were good, but not that exciting. And while I was pinning new recipes all the time, I rarely had the motivation to seek out new ingredients and learn new techniques.
I guess Joey must have been feeling stuck in a rut too, because a few weeks ago, we started using Blue Apron.
If you’re not familiar, Blue Apron is a service you can sign up for that will send you perfectly portioned ingredients and recipes so you can cook at home. We signed up to get three meals a week, and personally, I immediately loved the process. Every Wednesday night, we receive a shipment of super fresh produce, spices, and seafood (we didn’t want chicken, so that eliminated other meats from our plan as well), along with the recipes cards — complete with step-by-step photos — we need to create the meal. Of course, there have been a couple of recipes we weren’t as crazy about, but for the most part we’ve been pretty pleased with everything.
The best part for me? I’m cooking again — AND I’m learning new things all the time. I’ve cooked Thai food, Vietnamese food, and pot pies, I’ve experimented with new kinds of seafood (I’m making catfish this week!), and I’ve learned so much more about working with fresh spices. I’ve pickled my own raisins. I’ve grated my own horseradish. I’ve become an expert chopper. And I’ve kept all the recipes we loved, so I can create them again any time I want. It’s also surprisingly affordable — we’re not spending any more on groceries than we were before.
I didn’t really realize how much of an effect Blue Apron had had on my cooking until this past weekend. We took a trip to Vermont with a few friends, and I offered to cook dinner and lunch two of the days. My plan was to make venison chili with cornbread quiche for dinner and venison cutlets the next day for lunch. I had never cooked venison before, and I’m always nervous about cooking meat after the Meatloaf Disaster of 2011. But after reading over a couple of possible recipes, I realized that the skills I had picked up over the last two weeks would translate pretty easily.
And you know what? That venison turned out pretty darn good.
So, I’m curious: How do all of y’all learn new recipes? Do you tend to cook the same things over and over? Have you tried Blue Apron? What did you think?
(I feel obligated to clarify that this isn’t a sponsored post — I just wanted to share my opinion about a new service we’ve been trying!)