On My Mind

You know what we haven’t talked about in a while? My apartment decor.

You’ll be glad to know things are pretty much where we left off last time. I mean, I updated that gallery wall a bit. We got a computer. But really, that’s about it.

Like just about every other blogger, however, I’ve been on a quiet mission this year to incorporate more color into our decor. I love a good neutral (and live a lot of my life in them), but lately I’ve been drawn to more colorful spaces on Pinterest and in magazines.

This painting.

This office area.

This pastel-y living room.

So, as you can see, I’m not talking like CrAzY amounts of color. I like subtle…so you don’t even notice you’re looking at a colorful room, you just notice the pretty. Plus, I think colorful details pair nicely with white walls. (Which, as we know, I am forced to have.)

Anyway. The reason why I am bringing this up is because I am psyching myself up for a major purchase: a coral rug.

FEAST your eyes on this baby:

It’s the Argonne Rug from Home Decorators Collection. And, um, hi? That price? Amazing. Rugs are expensive, yo. But this? this I could swing.

The hubs is on-board (he’s pretty trusting of my decor ideas…guess that means I haven’t done anything too wacky yet). I just need to pull the trigger.

But first…what do you guys think? The other colors in my living room are taupe, green, grey, and gold-ish. I brought in a little pink with that new print on the gallery wall, and I think it worked well, but this would be a definite statement. And I’m mildly concerned that with the trellis-patterned curtains (which, for the record, I have hemmed since that post) and this patterned rug, it would be too much. But maybe I’m just being a big baby? In my brain, it all just kind of works, but maybe that’s just in my crazy brain.

Any thoughts out there?

I’m just going to tell you right now that I didn’t get everything done that I said I was going to do. BUT. I got most of it done.

I DID organize half of the hall closet. (But I didn’t take a picture because I forgot to take a “before” photo. I know. #bloggerfail.)

I DIDN’T do anything to the office area. But, honestly, it doesn’t look that bad right now. Just a little cluttered.

I DID finish the gallery wall. My favorite new update is a print with a quote from one of my favorite authors. My brother actually included this quote in his “man of honor” speech at my wedding, so it reminds me of happy memories whenever I look at it.

I DID tidy all the common areas. The living room, bathroom, dining room, and kitchen were all pretty darn clean as of yesterday morning. (The dining room has since become “crafting central,” so it’s not as neat currently.)(But it’s for a good cause.)

I DIDN’T make the shadow boxes. But I did get quite a bit of other crafting accomplished.

I DIDN’T make it to a thrift store. I know. I have been promising to do this forever. I don’t know what my deal is. I also have two pairs of pants that need to go to the tailor that have been sitting in the back seat of my car for weeks.

Maybe next weekend.

So anyway, I feel reasonably accomplished.

You might be wondering about the crafting I hinted at. (Or you might not. I don’t know your life.) Well, all I can tell you right now is that it’s for a secret project. I will reveal more next month.

How bout y’all? Did you get anything accomplished this weekend that you had been putting off?

I can feel it, you guys. Next weekend is the weekend of the thrift store run. It’s happening.

OK, so the past few weeks have been super fun. (Two parties AND my anniversary! I’m like, so popular, you guys.) But I still get a little exhausted when I think about how I can’t really stop until May 13th. (Here’s to a long, lazy summer, y’all.)

So obviously my first instinct is to add more to my to-do list, right?

You see, this weekend is the only one I have with zero plans. April 21-22. I mean, I have to do a pretty long run on Saturday. But aside from that, tonight, Saturday afternoon, and Sunday are wide open.

Or, at least they were before my OCD brain booked us up.

Because, I’m not going to lie to you guys. The apartment is looking a little worse for the wear. There’s clutter everywhere, half-unpacked suitcases, piles of letters, half-drunk glasses of water, shoes, hockey equipment, crafting supplies — it’s madness. And when you’re super busycrazed, you need your home to be a sanctuary where your brain can go quiet and enjoy a glass of wine without adding things to your mental to-do list.

I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.

So this weekend is going to be the Weekend of Getting It DONE. What do I mean by “it”? Well, here’s the comprehensive list:

1. Organize the hall closet. Sure, I can’t have my dream closet (yet), but I can make what I have a lot better. And I got PLANS, yo.
2. Organize the “office” area. We FINALLY got a computer (we’ve been making due with our super old, super slow laptops), which I’m thrilled about, but I’m not thrilled about plunking our fancy new computer in our cluttered office area. The current space still looks mostly like it did here, except now the desk has become a dumping ground of stuff that I don’t have time to deal with at the moment. Classy. It needs work.
3. Finish the gallery wall. The gallery wall will probably always be a bit of a work in progress, but since the grown-up frames and updated artwork, I’ve also added a vintage-inspired map of France and procured a new art print with one of my favorite quotes. I still need to hang the new print, and I need to shift a few things around to make it all jive.
4. Tidy all of the common areas. Bathroom, kitchen, living room, and dining room are all in need of a deep clean and clutter removal.
5. Create shadowbox frames for the bedroom. The bedroom is still a work in progress (though I have pillows and a new bedspread!), but I have almost all the materials for these. I just need to put them together.
6. Goodwill run. Looking for a vanity, fabric, old jewelry for a project, lamps for the bedroom, and a few other things if I find great deals.

So there you have it. There are still a bunch of other things the apartment needs (and probably always will), but I think I can get most of that accomplished in a weekend. Everything else will have to wait until the end of May. (Eesh.)

Do you have any projects you’ve been putting off or just haven’t had time to accomplish?

Hoooooo-boy.

So, I’m back at a regular computer. Which is good for all of us, but mostly for the grammar police. Also for my shame level, because when I read over that last post, the errors are just glaringly apparent. Deepest apologies.

OK, so there are a few things you need to know about the current “state of Justine” while you read this.

First things first, I can neither confirm nor deny if I have taken a shower in the last three days. But let’s just say things are looking a bit…ripe.

BUT. The positive to all of that is that is that I am rocking the best topknot of my life right now. Apparently the secret is a few days worth of grime. Who knew?

(Please ignore the zombie death bags under my eyes. It has been a long couple of weeks.)

Another thing you should know? I TRIED A NEW KIND OF COFFEE TODAY. (AGAIN!)

Just when I’m beginning to think coffee doesn’t affect me, I learn that really all I need to do is switch up my brand. It’s like when you try a new shampoo and suddenly your hair is so soft and so shiny even though you didn’t change a single other thing in your hair care routine. (Because I’m not the only one with a routine, right?)(You do all know what I’m talking about, right??)

So anyway. New coffee, from a new gas station. Big morning for me. But I have SO much energy. I mean, I don’t know if it’s the same as the Seattle’s Best “I can probably lift a car right now” energy, but it’s definitely “I could hurl my desk chair a considerably distance” energy. Fine line, folks. Fine. Line.

OK, so now that we’re all clear on my current state. (And that it ain’t pretty.)(Minus that swell hairdo.)

We got a new computer at home! It’s very exciting. We’ve been surviving using a couple of rather old laptops (that are both on their last legs), and it’s nice to have a computer that actually works and at delicious speeds. Plus, it’s a Mac with a camera, so we can FaceTime! I’m mildly obsessed with this technology. I FaceTime’d with my parents last night, and I was comical, to say the least.

If you’re one of my far-off friends/relatives (and let’s face(TIME) it, that’s almost all of you), let’s chat sometime before the novelty wears off for me.

To sum up, we’re almost through with Justine’s Four Weeks of Insanity before the rest of my (kind of boring) year continues. (That sentence was barely English. I just…don’t know anymore.)

I have the half marathon on May 6th, then a wedding the following weekend, and then I have NO plans until September when Annie gets married. We might try to make a trip to Denver sometime this summer, but we’ll see.

And now I’m ending this cracked-out post before I subject you to any more photos of my dirty hair.

-So, I have to work in the city again today. Which means I won’t be able to gchat. Just wanted to let everyone know if you’re the type of person who would be concerned.

-Listen. I know it was really warm yesterday. I know warm weather typically means the bugs start coming out again. But that in no way excuses what has happened in the last 12 hours.

You guys. The centipedes are back.

Some of you will remember when I wrote this post about our first infestation last year. After that post, we found the odd creepy crawly here and there, but things generally tapered off throughout the summer, and by autumn, we were almost in disbelief that they seemed to have packed up for good.

Well, it turns out they’ve just been bidig their time. Waiting. And apparently breeding.

From the moment we got home from our meeting last night, we saw a baby one outside the door, a medium sized one in the door frame, a big one on out BEDROOM WALL, and then I found a GIANT one in the bathtub this morning.

What. The. Heck.

I feel like they have had way too much time to themselves to plot. And i don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.

-Since I’m writing this on my phone on the train, there’s a pretty good chance it has more than the usual amount of spelling and grammatical errors. My apologies in advance. (Well, technically not “advance” because this is the third point in this post. My apologies in general.)

-All these crazy life events (plus the weird work schedule this week) is really trowing off my half-marathon training. Anyone have experience with that? Will it hurt me? Race is May 6th.

If you’ve spent any amount of time with me, it probably will not surprise you that I’m a fan of etiquette.

I was not always this way. When I was little, and my grandma would send us fuzzy pajamas (the early years) or a check for new school clothes (when grandma realized teenagers are notoriously difficult to shop for), my mother would have to hassle me near to death to send the poor woman a thank-you note.

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Because, trust me, I get it. Thank-you notes can be a hassle. You have to sum up gratitude in more words than, “Hey, thanks for this neat thing you got me here.” Because that is not enough words to fill up even the smallest stationery.

Fortunately for you, I have matured from my ungrateful youth and become somewhat of a connoisseur of thank-you notes. I have it down to a science, if you will. I have several friends that will consistently turn to me when writing their own thank-you notes. Yeah. I’m that good.

I should say that I actually truly believe in the thank-you note. I love receiving them, and I think it’s truly…disappointing that our society has more or less abandoned the practice in favor of a “thanks LOL” Facebook post. My 13-year-old niece sent me the cutest, sweetest thank-you note after I sent her a gift last week, and it totally made my day.

Which isn’t to say email thank-yous are rude. In the right setting, they can be more appropriate than the written version. And fortunately, what I’m about to share with you can work in both an online and a tangible setting.

BEHOLD! The patented Justine Thank-You Note Formula!

First, you have your intro. This will vary depending on how well you know the person. For job interview thank-yous, “Dear Mr. So-and-so” is just fine. For your friends, I like to use “My dearest, darlingest So-and-so.” Just to add a little flavor.

Next, you want to state outright what you’re thankful for.

I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how much I appreciated our conversation/you taking the time to interview me/that swell sweater you sent me/[insert what they did for you here] the other day.

This is your thesis statement. Your lede. This is what makes this a thank-you note. Next, you want a wax a bit about why exactly you are grateful.

I know you must be extremely busy (maybe add why you know they’re busy, relate to a personal experience, show you were paying attention, etc.), so it means a lot that you took the time to meet with me.

Or:

It was so thoughtful of you to remember our anniversary, and receiving your gift made our day.

Or whatever reasons you actually have for being grateful.

This next part is extremely important. You might say this is the part that separates your generic one-step-up-from-just-signing-a-Hallmark-card thank-you notes. You need to state something specific and personal to do with what this person did to show that this is a personal note to that person. For example, if you’re thanking someone for meeting with you for an informational interview, you might say:

I thought your opinions and advice on [insert relevant topic you discussed] were especially helpful.

Or, if someone got you a gift card to Target for a graduation gift, you could say:

Your generous gift will be so helpful as I start buying everything I’ll need to survive in a dorm next year.

At this point, I like to throw in a joke or aside to give the note a little more life. Obviously, the definition of “joke” changes depending on whether this is a letting to a potential employer or your great-aunt Helen, so use discretion. For example, in the aforementioned informational interview example, you might say:

As someone who has gone through the at-times trying task of finding a job, I’m sure you can appreciate how helpful it is to get advice from someone who has been so successful.

(Oh, did I not mention that this is also the place to slip in some subtle flattery? Just don’t be obnoxious with it — always, always, always be as sincere as possible.)

For that graduation gift, you might say:

It will be a big change living on my own (I’ll miss mom’s cooking for sure!), but this will definitely help ease the transition.

You might add an additional sentence of you met with someone who offered to do you a favor, and you want to remind them without sounding like you’re just writing them because you want them to do the favor. You might say:

I’m especially grateful for your offer to pass my resume on to your HR department. Please let me know if I can provide any other information to you.

How are you doing? Following me so far? We’re almost done. You’re down to the last few words. All you have to do is find a way to end this note without using the phrase, “Thanks again!”

Ugh. There is nothing worse than having to tack that on. You’re basically saying, “Welp, I see I have about three centimeters of this card left to fill out, but I have nothing more to say, so…see above!”

You don’t want to do that. And you don’t have to. Instead, use this last sentence to nod at the future.

Looking forward to seeing you at Janie’s wedding in May!

Or:

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Then, before you can say, “Best, Justine,” you’re home-free.

As you probably noticed, this whole thing takes about five sentences. Which is good because there are really only so many ways to express gratitude without getting repetitive but bad because each of those sentences carries a lot of weight.

For those of you who are not a fan of reading (in which case, get OUT of here), here are the cliff notes:

1. Greeting
2. Thank-you statement
3. Why you’re grateful/what you’ll do with the gift
4. Joke/Sincere flattery
5. Remind them about a favor (optional)
6. Sign-off without saying “thanks again!”

See? Not so bad now that you know what each sentence is supposed to do, right?

You’re welcome.