Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Surprises, Tears, and Groceries = One Crazy Weekend

Well that was fun! I just got back to Columbia after a whirlwind weekend, so it’s been a little crazy around here! I left on Friday and drove from Atlanta to Murfreesboro, TN to surprise my siblings. They have been working all summer at a camp there so I hadn’t seen them since the end of May. That’s a little too long if you ask me. Anyway… Neither one of them knew I was coming so it was a huge surprise! I got to spend the whole weekend with them (which was super duper awesome by the way) and as an added bonus, I even got to see some friends that were coming for this next week of camp.

After shedding a few tears at having to say goodbye again, I drove back to Atlanta on Monday morning to pack up my stuff and say goodbye to the rest of my family.  Cue the waterworks. It’s a good thing I left at the same time as my parents, because I do a whole lot better with goodbyes when I have to preoccupy myself with something (like driving) afterwards. Anyone else with me on that one? Once, when I was driving back to college after a visit home, I made it through all of the goodbyes to my family members without a single tear, but as soon as I looked at the dog I lost it. Please tell me I’m not the only big baby around here when it comes to goodbyes. Stupid hormones…

So, long story short, I’m back! Look out world, I'm living on my own and making big grown-up decisions! And if anyone needs me, I’ll just be over here in my blanket fort coloring because growing up is freaking scary, people! But I got this. I just need to keep psyching myself into it. This is going to be fun. This is going to be fun. This is going to be fun…

Well, it’s helping for now. In the meantime, I have to go do big grown-up things like buying groceries. And since you know I love my lists (I should probably buy stock in Post-It…), I thought I’d share my meal planning/grocery shopping list with you!

The grocery list part is super awesome since everything is broken up by section, making it all that much easier to find things in the store. I start by planning out my meals for the week based on my schedule, what’s on sale, and fitting in any meals I want to try. While I was in college, I usually just planned with my roommate and we only planned out our dinners since we were both crazy busy. It’s going to be a little different this time around since #1: I’ll be planning for me, myself, and I; and #2: I want to start planning out every meal and snack, not just dinner.

Meal Plan & Grocery List #1 (portrait layout): This is the original list I used during college. It has stood the test of time, and I even got my mom using it after she saw how awesome it was.

Meal Plan & Grocery List #2 (landscape layout): This is the improved list I will be using from here on out. And here’s why:
  • Allows me to plan out every meal and snack.
  • I am going to start clean eating (no more junk, processed food for me!), so I didn’t need a lot of the categories on the other list.
  • I just really like making, filling out, and crossing off lists. Can I get an amen?!?

Click here to download both: Meal Plans 1 & 2

This list is my main tool for meal planning. It allows me to see everything in one place and is great for keeping track of things I run out of and need to get at the store, as well. If you have any awesome tips for meal planning for one, please pass them along! I can use all the help I can get!

Monday, July 28, 2014

20 "I'm Bored" Ideas (Not Just For Kids!)

I've seen this topic bouncing around the blogosphere for a while now. It's usually found on blogs about family life and pertains to how they keep their kids preoccupied in the summer. Well, this topic doesn't just apply to kids. Or summer.

I don't know about you, but I can get lost on the internet. Especially when it's hot (or cold) outside and I really don't want to do anything… And although spending hours on Pinterest and reading other blogs is great for cultivating blog ideas for this blog, it's not that great for getting anything else done that day.

So, I present to you my list of 20 "I'm Bored" Ideas. Or 20 "Get Off Pinterest and Do Something Productive" Ideas. Whatever floats your boat.

Bonus: Most of these can be done by yourself and with little to no cost (cheap ME time!)

1. Time yourself while you tidy up one room/space and try to beat the clock.

Anyone else remember the kids show "The Big Comfy Couch"? Believe it or not, I actually watched this show religiously as a child… In case you needed a reminder, here's a quick clip of her "Ten Second Tidy":

Don't we all wish we could clean that fast and/or that stuffing things under the couch cushions was an acceptable way to clean? Yeah, me too. But we can all tidy up a room in less than 15 minutes, and it makes any room look 10 times better.

2. Go for a quick walk around your block.

Walking is a great, easy form of exercise that anyone can do. Plus, walking just 30 minutes a day is a great way to fit in your recommended amount of daily activity. So get up off the couch and get walking!

3. Read one chapter of a good book.

I have so many books that I "don't have time to read". But I really do, I just don't make the time for it. Reading only one chapter at a time is a great way to keep active in reading without spending a whole day with your nose in a book (although those days are glorious).

4. Try one new recipe and/or food.

If you have to go on your Pinterest "Food" board to find the recipe, then so be it. I love to plan new recipes into my weekly meal plan, but I rarely try the new breakfast recipes or snack ideas I've pinned. If you're like me, then here's your chance to try them!

5. Go bowling.

I love bowling. It's not so much fun by yourself, but I love to go in a big group. Maybe you can coordinate a "girls/guys/couples night out" with a group of your friends? Count me in if you do!

6. Call a friend you haven't spoken to in a while.

Life gets busy for all of us. But we all have time in our busy lives to call a friend and talk for a few minutes. You can even browse Pinterest while you talk… Multitasking, people, multitasking.

7. Go for a bike ride.

Nowadays, unless you are 7, you probably only ride a bike as part of your commute, if at all. Relive your childhood and go for a long ride. Enjoy the scenery. Just wear a helmet while you do. Yes, mother…

8. Pop in a favorite CD or playlist on your iPod and clean/cook/dance along.

Any household chore is made 100 times better by adding great background music to it. You might actually have fun!

9. Bake cookies for someone who needs a smile.

You get to try out a new Pinterest cookie recipe and someone else gets to benefit from your generosity: it's a win-win!

10. Volunteer at the animal shelter.

Most will let you come in and help out with walking, feeding, and play time after only a few hours of training. Check with your local animal shelter to see about their volunteer policy. This is a great solution for those of us that can't have a pet because of our rental agreement.

11. Visit a new hotspot in town.

Having just moved to a new town in which I know no one, I have a feeling I am going to be using this one a lot. Get out and meet new people! See the sights in your own hometown! Check out local antique shops, hole-in-the-wall restaurants with long lines, local parks and attractions, fairs and community events, farmers markets, etc. You never know what you'll find right outside your front door.

12. Take a long nap.

You know you want to, so why don't you? A quick power nap is all I need sometimes to kickstart the rest of my day. Too bad there's not a rollover plan for all the naps we passed up as kids…

13. Declutter your closet/desk/entry/whatever.

My desk is my big sore spot when it comes to keeping things organized. I always end up with piles of paper and junk everywhere, leaving me no space to actually work. Get rid of stuff you don't use/need. Move items back to their correct location. Find new ways to keep things organized so it stays looking nice and neat. I'm really preaching to myself here...

14. Actually try one of those new workouts you pinned.

New workout ideas have to be the least likely pins to make it into the "I did it" board. So many people pin them, but I doubt they actually do all of them. I know I don't. Here's your chance to try one! You can even combine it with #8 to make it even more fun!

15. Wash your car by hand.

I seriously cannot remember the last time I washed a car by hand. I was probably 10 and getting paid to do it… I always did like the shine of a freshly hand-washed car and if I'm the one doing the washing, I know it'll be done right! Go show your car some soapy sponge lovin'!

16. Make your own wall art.

I have made quite a few wall art pieces for my apartment. It is so much fun to play around with paint, paper, glue, or whatever else suits your fancy. All you need is a plain sheet of paper, canvas, or poster board and you can create fun, unique pieces for pennies on the dollar.

17. Take a long, relaxing bubble bath.

Even better if combined with #s 3 and 8.

18. Paint your nails.

I love having painted nails, but I rarely take the time to paint them myself. Rather than forking over $40 for someone else to paint your nails, go dig out the dozens of nail polishes you own and go to town! Make it a girls night for even more fun!

19. Pack a picnic lunch and eat at your local park or even on your back porch.

I absolutely loved picnics as a kid. Well, I'm about to bring the picnic lunch back into style one park bench at a time. Even better if you can walk to your local park to get in some exercise! Bonus: People watching is seriously entertaining.

20. Start a garden.

Even an apartment balcony can be space enough to plant a container garden. If you don't have a black thumb like me, then go wild and plant a bunch of different flowers and plants, maybe even grow your own vegetables. However, if you are one of the cursed like myself, stick with low-light plants that thrive with little to no watering.

This list even inspired me to get up and do something! Now I want to make one of those cute "I'm Bored" containers…

What do you like to do when you're bored? Send some more ideas my way!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Recent Thrift Store Finds

I LOVE thrift store shopping! Goodwill is my go to hangout (I know, I have no life). But it gets me so much cool stuff! I pretty much stocked my entire apartment from hand-me-downs, yard sales, and thrift stores.

This two week vacation at my grandparents has been just pure bliss. I get to relax every day, go thrift shopping with my family, and visit with friends I haven't seen in a while, all while drinking glass after glass of my grandma's sweet tea and chowing down on her good old country cooking!

Definitely loving all of the thrift store shopping time we've been getting in. I've been to 3 different Goodwills and 3 other thrift stores within the last few days… and I've found some pretty cool stuff!

Goodwill #1:

  • Wooden paper towel holder - This is just dying for some retro colors to brighten it up!
  • Plastic storage drawer - Planning on it going under my bathroom sink for extra easy-to-access storage.
  • Retro plastic bowls - Discovered I had no cereal bowls after everything was unpacked…
  • Air bake cookie sheet - My mom won't bake cookies on anything else, so when I saw this one in great shape I knew I had to have it!

Goodwill #2:

  • Retro rolling TV cart - I have big plans for this cart! It's going to be my new coffee table and I think it would look just adorable with a chalkboard top and a brightly colored base. And you can't beat the price tag: only $7.00!!!!

Thrift Store #1: Some stores are a hit or miss as far as good stuff. Didn't find anything of interest at this store on the day we went.

Goodwill #3:

  • IKEA Bekvam spice rack - This is the second one of these I've found at a Goodwill. They're going to be painted and put up in my bathroom for extra wall storage.

Thrift Store #2:

  • Lumberjack figurine - Ok, long story short… I am collecting one figurine for each college I have attended. My alma mater is Northern Arizona University and their mascot is the lumberjack. Now I just need to find a rooster for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. I may spray paint them all the same color, but I haven't decided yet.
  • Glass/Wood Cloche - In its former, boring life it was a cheese platter. In its new, exciting life it is going to be a decorative cloche for my bookshelf.

Thrift Store #3:

  • Metal wall shelves - My lovely (can you sense the sarcasm?) apartment shower/tub doesn't have any ledge space for my shampoo, conditioner, etc, so these are my solution.

And there you have it! Good finds at 5 of 6 stores visited. Not bad at all. If you don't find something at one store on a particular day, try it again a few days later. Donations come in daily for a lot of thrift stores, so if you wait around long enough there's bound to be something new on the shelves. Back in Phoenix, I had a regular rotation of 4 different Goodwills in the area. Every other Saturday was 50% off everything in the store, so I usually made a day of it and circled through one right after the other and came home with a few bags full of stuff.

My favorite items to look for are: solid furniture in ok shape (nothing I can't easily fix with a little sanding, wood filler, primer, and paint), glasswares, decorative knick-knacks, office supplies, and picture frames. Stick with wood, glass, paper, and plastic and you can transform just about anything from Goodwill into something you will use and love.

What are your most recent thrift store finds? Any exciting DIY plans in the works? Comment below and tell me all about it!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Oven Roasted Salmon and Vegetables

I know I'm not the only one who meal plans almost entirely from their Pinterest "Food" board. It's just too easy! I love to try new foods, and Pinterest is a great place to find new recipes to try. If you wanted a recipe for bacon chocolate pancakes, I'm sure it's just a search away on Pinterest...

Like these! Search result numero uno.


Ok, moving on!

The recipe I've recently fallen in love with is much, much, much healthier. And it's so easy and quick to make, that even a busy grad student has the time to make this dish.

Here's the link to the original blog post I pinned on Pinterest:

Oven Roasted Salmon and Vegetables

Photo credit: Mom Endeavors

  • 9x13 baking pan or casserole dish
  • Salmon fillets - Fresh or frozen and thawed, doesn't matter. I typically have them cut 1 pound into fillets for me at the deli. It's usually cheaper than paying per fillet.
  • Vegetables, potatoes, or anything else that you usually roast in the oven. - My favorites are green beans and asparagus. Other ideas: quartered red potatoes, zucchini, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, grape tomatoes, etc.
  • Olive oil *optional* - see note below
  • Herbed butter - you can make it yourself or buy it pre-made. I found mine over by the cream cheese and specialty cheeses.
  • Salt *optional* - see note below

1. Put salmon fillets skin-side down in the middle of the pan.
2. Put your vegetables on each side of the salmon fillets to fill the pan.
3. Drizzle olive oil over vegetables and salt to taste (*OR you can do what I do and just add a dollop of herbed butter to the vegetables*)
4. Add a dollop of herbed butter to the top of each salmon fillet.
5. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy. And healthy to boot! I'm sure you could also make this with chicken or any other kind of fish, but I just love the salmon. This dish makes it so moist and delicious, it literally melts in your mouth!

Now go make it and then come back and tell me how much you loved it! My mouth is watering just thinking about it...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fabulous Finds

Welcome to the mini series! In case you've never seen one before, this is what they generally look like: a set of posts spread out over a period of time that all have a general theme in common. Ta Da!

The theme of this mini series is Fabulous Finds (in case you couldn't tell by the extremely obvious title to this post…) and will include posts about anything that I think is fabulous! :-) Ready? Great!

1. West Elm Textured Bowl Set -

Aren't they just adorable? I want one in every color and pattern. If you want a set, they sell them in sets of four and the sets are currently on sale! You can't beat a good West Elm sale. $14.99-19.99 for a set of 4 regular size bowls. They also sell smaller dip bowls in the same patterns for $4 each.

2. ModCloth Live Life on the Ledge Container -

I've had my eye on this little guy for a while now. Adorable and practical; it can't get any better! I love everything ModCloth, but their little woodland creatures bathroom line takes the cake! And you can take it home to be your new best friend for only $12.99. Adding to shopping cart now...

3. ModCloth Bathing Beauty Swimsuit -

I am a sucker for all things retro, but especially when it comes to swimsuits. And the fact that this is made by ModCloth and designed by Esther Williams just makes it that much better! This suit is going to be my "buy as soon as I lose this inner tube around my waist" impulse purchase. Maybe next swim season… Retail price is $89.99, but it's currently on sale for $44.99.

4. Chasing Paper Chalkboard Panels -

This is the coolest stuff. Chasing Paper sells temporary wallpaper that is awesome for renters and those who just don't want to commit to anything permanent like paint or real wallpaper. And then they blow you away with this stuff. It's peel and stick chalkboard for goodness sake! How much easier can it get?!? Buy a 2 ft x 4 ft panel for $40 and cut it to any dimension you need. Kitchen backsplash? Accent wall? Cut it up and make labels out of it? I can keep going if you want.

5. Young House Love Octopus Hook at Target -

I am an avid follower of Young House Love in the blogosphere. And now I love them even more thanks to the adorable set of wall hooks and coat racks that they have for sale at Target. I cannot wait to get one for my small entry to help increase the functionality of that space. And they're just too cute to pass up!

*I am not affiliated with any of the above entities. Just linking up to show you where you can find all of these fabulous items for yourself.*

Friday, July 18, 2014

DIY Reupholstered Hope Chest

Have you ever been given a gift that you were extremely thankful for because of who gave it to you, but at the same time, wishing you could change something about it without offending them? Really? Me too!

The fabric was stained and yellowed from years of use, and definitely not my style. Time for an update!

This hope chest has been my mom's since long before I was born and I've known for quite a while that it would one day be mine. Thankfully, my mom was willing to let me update it a little to fit my style. :-) We opted to just update the fabric top and leave the wood as is for now. Maybe I'll have the guts to paint it one day, or maybe real wood furniture will come back in style...

This reupholstery project was fairly easy to complete, especially considering I had never set foot in a fabric store until this project... Sad, I know. I was, at one point, wandering in aisles of tulle, satin, felt, and calico with upholstery fabrics no where in sight. Joann's really does need better signage. Or a giant store map.

Anyway... I ended up getting two yards of upholstery fabric. You definitely want a sturdy fabric for something like this that is going to be sat on/used a good deal. Measure the dimensions of your hope chest seat and use those to determine how many yards you will need. Just be sure that the width of the fabric you picked is at least a few inches wider than your required dimensions. The length can be cut to however long you need it, but the width of a spool of fabric is predetermined and cannot be changed unless you're willing to splice together two pieces of fabric for one project. This is not ideal, however, and you shouldn't need to for this project since the shape you are upholstering is small and rectangular.

Note: You will need at least one other person helping you with this project. You could probably wing it by yourself, but the upholstery work may not be as straight and/or taut as it could have been.

  • Upholstery fabric, cut to your measured dimensions and ironed to press out any wrinkles
  • Batting - Depending on how thick you want the seat of the hope chest to be, you can buy a thicker or thinner batting; if the seat is already pretty thick, you may be able to just skip this step.
  • Staple gun
  • Short staples - We started with ones that were too long and they would not pierce the backing; they just bounced back without tacking into anything. Learn from my experience; go with shorter staples.
  • Screwdriver - To unscrew the hope chest seat from the body of the hope chest.
  • Cushion *optional* - Both the old cushion and fabric on my hope chest were in relatively good condition, so there was no need to start from scratch. If your cushion is crumbling, you should probably get a new one, though those can be a pretty penny.

1. Lift the lid of your hope chest and look at the corners of the lid. There should be at least four (mine had six) screws holding the hope chest seat to the lid of the hope chest. With one person holding onto the seat so it doesn't slide off, unscrew each screw until the seat is free from the rest of the hope chest.

2. Lay your batting out on a flat surface (or the floor if you don't have another surface big enough) and lay the seat top-side down onto the batting. Cut the batting so that you have enough to cover the entire seat plus a few inches extra. I kind of just followed the old upholstery outline on the back of the seat for an idea of where to cut. Now, you can begin to staple the batting to the seat. Have at least one other person hold the seat down and stretch the batting so it will be taut as you staple. Start by stapling the four "middles", i.e. make one staple in the middle of each side of the rectangle. Then, you can turn the seat over to make sure everything is even before continuing with a bunch of other staples. This is not so important with batting, but will be very important to make sure your fabric is on straight. If everything looks good and is nice and taut, staple away! For the corners, my suggestion is to fold them like you would a present, then staple the fold down. When everything is secure, trim away the excess batting, making sure to carve out sections of batting so the screw holes are visible.

As you can see, we stapled right over the old fabric and cushion.

3. Repeat all of step 2, except this time with your fabric. Make sure your fabric is laid out wrong-side up, or you won't be very happy when you turn it over! Also, be very careful making those first few staples that everything is lined up straight and taut before continuing with the rest of your staples. The last thing you want is to get all done, turn it over, and the fabric is crooked on the front. Again, make sure when you're cutting away the excess fabric that the screw holes are visible, or you won't be able to screw the seat back onto the lid of the hope chest.

Isn't the fabric beautiful?!? I love the colors and it goes great with the rest of my decor.

4. With at least one other person holding the seat on the lid, reattach the seat with the screws. We ended up needing two people to hold the seat down, because as each screw was added, it kept trying to push the seat away from the lid rather than screw into both the seat and lid.

5. Stand back and admire your handiwork. You just reupholstered a piece of furniture!

Doesn't it look so much better?!?!?!? It really is so easy to do, and you can't beat the results. I have a whole new hope chest and all I had to do was change the fabric. Easy peasy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Place to Call My Own

Drum roll please…..

The moment you have all been waiting for…..

"Before" Pictures!

I know. Not at all exciting. "After" pictures are way more exciting. Believe me, I want to see the "after" pictures just as much as you do! But it's kind of hard to take "after" pictures when you're not even unpacked yet…

I love having a new space to decorate. It's a blank canvas just waiting for a little bit of paint and creativity. Except for the "no-painting-your-apartment" rule (ugh!). White walls it is, then. It's a good thing I really like a white backdrop with lots of pops of color :-). I can't wait to get started! But until then, this is all you'll get, cause' it's all I've got! 

*I'm also going to apologize in advance for all of these horrible iPhone pictures. They really are all I have for pictures of my apartment right now.*

Here's the overall floor plan again. Mine is actually set up mirrored to this design, but you get the gist.


I am totally loving how they painted all of the outside doors black. It makes each door pop with the plain white/tan trim and the apartment number really stands out with its white lettering.


This hallway/entry is directly to the right when you walk in the front door. The bathroom is to the right and my bedroom is straight ahead. I would love to put up some hooks for a landing area and I have really big dreams of a giant gallery wall on the wall opposite the entry.

This section of the hallway is straight ahead as you come in the front door and leads directly into the living room. Other than a few pictures and maybe an organized mail/junk collection area on the countertop, I don't have a lot of plans for this small part of the hallway.


It's an apartment bathroom. What else can I say, really? Tan-ish/pink-ish tiled tub/shower, a basic vanity, and a 70's era medicine cabinet. Moving on…


This bedroom is really quite large, though you can't tell with my terrible pictures. This is going to be so much fun to decorate! I'm already thinking a vanity would be a good addition, and I need some nice-sized nightstands to balance the bed on that large wall. The dresser has already been moved from its position in the above picture to the wall opposite the bed to help balance things out in the meantime. Big Bonus: A walk-in closet!

Living Room

This is my great room/living room/dining room. I love all of the open space and the natural light coming in that glass door is amazing. I still need a futon (I needed something that would be primarily used as a couch, but with the option to fold out into a bed if I have guests), a large desk (mine was small and rickety so it got left behind), a coffee table, and curtains for the sliding glass door. I already have some artwork for this room but have to wait on hanging it until I have the furniture in place.

Dining Room

I LOVE my dining room chairs. I actually wish I had bought more of them but I had no idea what kind of dining room space I would have, if any. At least they're made by Ikea so I can always buy more down the road; plus having something specific in mind to buy makes a 3-hour one-way trek to Ikea more justifiable :-).

Kitchen/Laundry Room

I love my little kitchen. I have a dishwasher! And a laundry room! Woohoo!!!


Complete with screened-in porch and a storage unit to the left. All I'm missing is a rocking chair and some sweet tea.

Psst… Did you see my color-coded boxes? My moving crew (dad, mom, and uncle) loved them. Unloading the trailer was easy peasy lemon squeezy (minus the backaches caused by moving solid wood furniture into a second floor apartment…sorry, guys!). And unpacking was a breeze thanks to my handy-dandy notebook. Gotta love when a good system really works!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Big Move: Recap

Settling in and making myself a home. It's a great feeling! Heading out tonight to visit family in Atlanta; they're all so excited I'm living closer now!

As promised, here is a recap of my long-distance move complete with budget and actual costs. I tried my best to plan it all out in advance with a detailed budget, but there are just some expenses you forget about or end up being more costly than you expected. Gas would be my #1 "plan for more than you ever really think you'll need", followed closely by "don't forget tax on big items like Uhaul rentals" :-). So this is for all you college/grad/dirt poor people like me; hopefully it will make your move just that much less stressful. Just remember, this was the best option for my move; there are plenty of other great options but they would not have been ideal with my current budget and moving situation. Go with whatever works best for you.

We started out at 6:00am Saturday morning in Phoenix, AZ and arrived in Columbia, SC around 3:00pm the following Friday. Had we not taken any rest days, we probably could have made it in 4 days. However, we would have been exhausted and stressed out, which is not exactly the best way to start a new chapter in your life.

Original Budget:

Trailer Rental: $775.00
Gas: $700.00
Hotels: $285.00
Food: $125.00

Total: $1,885.00

Actual Costs:

Trailer Rental: $755.66
Gas: $672.52
Hotels: $310.00
Food: $85.46

Total: $1,823.64

Not too shabby! One more tank of gas and we would've been in trouble, though :-). Maybe next time I move (in the far, far distant future), I'll have the budget to hire someone else to help me move.

Notes: Unless you plan to stay with people you know along your route, budget more for hotels and food. But, if you have the option to stay with friends, definitely take it! A free night's rest and a good home-cooked meal can help both with your overall health on a long trip and in stretching out your budget.

I am eternally grateful to everyone that helped me move. In case I haven't said it enough: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tips for a Less Stressful Move

WE MADE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nerves are (mostly) intact, Jeep and trailer are holding up well, and the best part of all is... we stayed in budget! We are thoroughly relieved we are here safe and sound. Now we just have to unload it all...

The leasing office emailed me a copy of the lease to read over and sign, so all that is left to be done is do a walk-through (*crossing fingers and hoping all goes well*) and then I get the keys to my very first apartment! *happy dance!*

Now, without further ado, here are my best tips for completing a long-distance move (or really any move) as stress-free as possible:

1. Start planning early.

I've known about this move since April. That gave me a lot of time to plan so I took advantage of it! Pinterest was a great resource for finding moving tips, packing tips, real-life experiences, budgeting tips, and so much more. Planning as much as you can in advance will give you such peace of mind come moving day. Just make sure everyone else involved knows the plan too :-).

2. Start packing early.

I packed my first boxes in May. We had a lot of travel plans for June so I knew if I didn't get a head start I would be running around like a chicken with my head cut off come July. I also worked up until the day before we left, so that would have made it extremely difficult to getting everything packed up if we waited until the last minute. Start by packing things you won't be needing until you unpack at your new place; my first boxes were filled with books, rarely used kitchen items, seasonal decorations, and wall art.

3. Purge BEFORE you pack.

The last thing you want to do is pay to have junk moved that you're only going to toss or donate when you get there. Don't just throw everything in a box because you're running out of time to pack (see #2) but also don't spend hours sorting through years of memories when you should be packing. If you haven't used it in the last year or you don't know why you kept it all these years, toss it! My favorite quote for decluttering your home (and life!) is this: 

That just about sums it up perfectly, doesn't it?

4. Pack with unpacking in mind.

Put like with like. Label the box and where it goes. It's really simple but it can be hard to follow through, especially if you're rushed while packing. You end up with rooms full of boxes that look alike, without any idea what's in each one other than "Kitchen" or "Bedroom". Then you open a box labelled "Kitchen" and find the TV remotes. What went wrong? A. You were probably just throwing random things in whichever box had room, because you waited until the last minute to pack. B. You never had a good system to begin with, so it got thrown out the window halfway through packing. Talking from experience here, people.

My system is a combination of two ideas I saw on Pinterest along with my parents' infinite moving wisdom. Check out the original posts here:
 and here:

  • Before you start packing, gather your supplies: a notepad, pencil/pen, sharpie, scissors, one roll of colored ductape per room/area in your new house, and lots of packing tape. 
  • As you pack a box, keep in mind what room it should go in, and keep track of what items are going into the box.
  • In your notepad, create one page for each room/area.
  • Assign a color of ductape to each room. For example, Orange = Kitchen for me. This is for easy move-in purposes, especially if other people are helping you move. I'll label each room in my apartment the same way so people know where each box is supposed to go.
  • Assign a number starting with 100 to each room. For example: 100 = Living Room, 200 = Bedroom, 300 = Kitchen. Each box will get a number within that 100, i.e. boxes 301, 302, and 311 all belong in the kitchen and are the 1st, 2nd, and 11th boxes I packed.
  • As you finish packing each box, write the assigned number on at least two sides. Write that same number on your corresponding notepad page along with a brief description of the box's contents. Make note of important and open-first items.
  • Close the box with the corresponding colored ductape and then add extra support with regular packing tape (ductape starts to curl after so long in a hot car/garage).
  • Breathe a sigh of relief as you unpack knowing exactly where everything is :-).

*You can also write the box's contents on the box and disregard every tip but using colored ductape. However, I strongly suggest against it if you are not moving yourself. Boxes like "Tools", "TV", "Xbox", etc, might end up missing and unless you have a record of what was in each box written somewhere else, you won't have the proof to show you ever had that box much less that it is missing.

Remember to slow down, breathe, and enjoy the ride. Spend time with friends and family you may not see as much once you move. It will all be worth it when your last box is unpacked and you can finally settle into your new home. I can't wait for that feeling!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

On The Road…... Still

2,000 miles is a really, really, REALLY looooooong drive. Like really. We left early Saturday morning and we're still not there. Now granted, we are stopping to see friends and family and take rest days along the way. But still! It takes two days just to drive across Texas for goodness sake! This blog, my country music, and my crochet projects are the only things keeping me sane right now.

Sunrise as we left Phoenix. Isn't it beautiful?!?

We are trying to do about 500 miles at a time so it's really only 4 long days of driving. Add in 3 rest days with various friends and family in different cities and you get one exhausting week-long trek across the country. Blah.

It is awesome crochet time though! In the last week I have made 4 dish rags, 1 potholder/hot pad, and am working on a crocheted "rope" rug. Tutorials for everything coming soon. Need to get settled in my new apartment first!

Speaking of new apartment, I am so stinkin' excited! Walk-through is on Friday and I (hopefully) move in on Saturday. Brace yourselves for the floods of pictures coming next week :-). I've been DIYing a ton of stuff preparing for this move, so there'll be lots of new tutorials once I get settled. I've painted furniture, made DIY artwork, salvaged picture frames for printed artwork, and crocheted a few home goods. This is going to be one very DIYed apartment, which is both cheaper for this poor grad student and makes for great blog content :-).

Sneak peek of my potential new apartment! Loving the laundry room, walk-in closet, and balcony! :-D

I'll also be posting a nice detailed post sometime later this week or next on how I packed for this move and how it has been much less stressful than it could have been (except for the actual driving part; definitely nerve-wracking.) And for all you other dirt poor college students, I'll post a summary of all expenses so you can see if you too want to be as crazy as me to spend less money.

Now excuse me as I rock along with my dad to the oldies but goodies while I sip my sweet tea from Starbucks. Take note all Arizona Starbucks: you need this. I had to come to Texas to find it, but this stuff is awesome possum!

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Hey ya'll! My name is Julie, I'm 23 years old, and starting in August I will be a graduate student at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. Welcome to my blog!

Saturday marked the beginning of a new phase in my life. I'm excited, anxious, happy and sad all at the same time. It's one I've been anticipating for a few months, but it is just now starting to become a reality. It was the day my family loaded my Jeep and a Uhaul trailer with all of my earthly posessions and set out on a cross-country road trip from Phoenix, AZ to Columbia, SC.

All packed up!

Why South Carolina if you're from Arizona? Yeah, I get that question a lot. I fell in love. But not with a boy. With a part of this beautiful country of ours. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and spent a majority of my childhood there and in Texas. My family only moved to Phoenix when I was in high school so even though I've lived here for 8 years, I still consider the South my true home. All of my extended family lives in either Georgia or Texas, and my sister is attending a college in South Carolina as well. I also fell in love with the Southern mannerisms and way of life. You gotta love guys who dress well, have good manners, treat you like a princess, and know how to be real men. Plus everyone else is just generally nice and inviting. Sweet tea and good country cooking are really just a big bonus. :-)

The center of the beautiful University of South Carolina campus.

Why graduate school? I have big dreams. Really big dreams. Ever since I was little, I've known that I wanted to be a doctor. Now, whether that entails a PhD or MD degree, or even both, I don't know yet. So I'm starting small. I will be attending the University of SC for a Masters in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. After I've gotten my feet wet with a masters degree, I'm hoping I'll better know which doctorate degree to pursue.

What else will you be writing about? My primary passion is science, followed extremely closely by all things arts-and-crafts, DIY, organization, and home decor. This blog will be an adventure for both myself and you, my readers, as I explore living on my own for the first time, decorating my very own apartment, trying new craft projects, and all while balancing life as a grad student. This is going to be fun!

Have you ever written a blog before? Nope! A couple of message boards here and there but no blogging space to call my own. Like I said, this is going to be an adventure for both of us!

How often should we expect to see a blog post? I am going to try to post 2 to 3 times a week. This is all new for me, so I may have to adjust my blogging schedule based on my graduate workload, but I think 2 to 3 times a week is a reasonable start.

Where do you see this blog in one year? Great question! My goal with this blog is to share my passions and various interests with you and then interact with you to learn your passions as well. I don't see this blog growing as big as some of my favorite DIY blogs, but I hope to maintain a consistent readership and maybe one day see a small return on my investment here. I also have big dreams of opening my own Etsy shop one day to sell my own creations, and hope this blog will help me to be able to do that.

What are your favorite crafting and DIY blogs? So many choices... I don't think there's such a thing as following too many good blogs. My favorites, in no particular order:

Check them out! I love their decor, DIY, and blogging styles.

How can we reach you? Leave comments! Tell me your thoughts! I will do my best to respond to each and every one. I will, however, be monitoring the comments and will delete any that are offensive, contain profanities, or are spam. You can follow this blog either through your blog interface or through email (see links to the right). You can also find me on my personal Pinterest page; my username is jly616.

Enough about me, I want to hear from you! If you blog, link up and I'll come check it out!