Smarter Hydration Reminders with Ulla

This week I’m taking a break from my normal app posts and posting about something a bit more simple. Last week, I wrote about how I’m using Keyboard Maestro to remind me to drink water when I’m at my desk, but I recently received a small device that works wherever I’m at and I just had to share it.

As I mentioned last week, I’ve explored countless options: expensive water bottles that track your drinking, less expensive apps for your phone that nag you to drink, even drawing timelines on existing water bottles. None of them worked for me.

I’m not sure where I first read about Ulla, but boy am I glad that I did, because it just works! It’s a simple $25 device that you can strap onto ANY water bottle or cup you already have using an included silicone band. Once on your water bottle, it will blink obnoxiously every 30 or 40 minutes to remind you it’s time to drink. That’s all. It doesn’t beep or buzz your phone. There’s no app involved. Just a tiny little clip on device with a battery that should last for 6 months.

I’ve had it for a little over a week now, and I can say, it works. I almost always have my water bottle within sight, and the blinking light is nearly impossible to miss. The few times I have missed it have been met with my friends asking “Why is your water bottle blinking?”

I was skeptical at trying it, but for $25, I couldn’t be more pleased.

Check out the video.

The even better part, Ulla has a Refer-a-Friend promotion. You’ll get $5 off and I will as well. Check it out, and if you’re interested use code R3C588 at ulla.io.

General Life Update

Apparently I haven’t updated this blog since March. Whoops. My life has been a whirlwind of fun and chaos for the past few months.

Work on the condo has pretty much ground to a halt, and I walk through the place and see nothing but unfinished projects which is a bit depressing at this point. My kitchen and master bathroom are still sorely lacking cabinets. Artwork is sitting in various rooms waiting to be hung, and my guest bedroom has become the “stuff I don’t need” room. It’s gotten to the point I rarely open the door just to spare myself the sight of the mess residing inside. BUT… I did manage to replace my HVAC system, so at the very least, my Nest thermostat is back up on the wall, and I will have heat this winter. It’s also one very costly thing crossed off the list of major projects to tackle.

So what’s been taking up my time (aside from a small bit of laziness)? Graduate school has been kicking my butt for the past two months. Every semester I consider taking two courses, only to end up taking a course with a new professor who’s not privy to the typical workload. This semester is no exception, and ominous deadlines for massive group projects are looming over me for the foreseeable future.

I can really only blame class for the last two months though, because I have a more fun excuse – a pretty awesome guy that’s turned the last 5 months of my life into quite the adventure. I was pretty content with my independence, so I’m still shocked each day that he managed to get me to agree to a relationship, more surprised I haven’t run away yet. Then again, the many beach trips, concerts, and other fun things have left me feeling pretty darn spoiled. Plus, after years of rocky relationships plagued by constant fighting, I’m enjoying the fact that we haven’t managed to annoy one another yet despite spending pretty much every day together.

My main goal in writing this post wasn’t to update any readers I still have about my life though. This past week has made me realize I’m approaching my breaking point. As much as I love the spontaneity in my life right now, I’m desperately craving some sort of routine to get my life back in order. The rushing home from work to quickly change clothes before heading out again, the frantic 5 minute cleaning sessions during rare moments of free time, and the lack of sleep has gotten old, not to mention it’s downright unhealthy.

Of course, my first step in getting back on track is revamping Omnifocus. When it comes to life outside of school and work, I’ve pared down my list of fussy projects, instead opting to break repeating tasks down by frequency (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) I still have a general personal tasks list for one off tasks, and some things still projects (like reorganizing my closet). I don’t think that’s going to change, but I’m finding that I like being able to see tasks broken down by how often they occur much more than how they were laid out before.

I’ve also modified my custom perspectives a bit – eliminating the @Work and @Home all together. Instead, I have one single Today context which shows any Flagged or Due, Available tasks grouped by Project and sorted by Context. Each morning, I go into my Available perspective and flag anything I intend to do, so by the time I get to my Today perspective, I have a nice list of routine tasks broken down by frequency (much like a daily or weekly routine checklist) with anything that’s due or part of a particular project listed as well. My last part of the puzzle is trying to schedule reminders for myself using the Reminders app in iOS just as an added push to get things done.

Here’s to getting back on track, but for now I’m off to the grocery store before heading off to the boyfriend’s house. *Sigh* Old habits are hard to break.

Andrea

 

 

 

Condo Project – Week 24

This past Saturday, IKEA held their “BYOF” (Bring Your Own Friends) event. If you’ve never attended, it’s basically a normal IKEA day with a lot more people, free breakfast and bag, and some other offers thrown in. After attending the first with my mom last year, I suppose it’s become a tradition. I, of course, took this trip as an opportunity to stock up on all the IKEA goodies I’d been wanting to grab.

Last month, I purchased some Baltimore-themed prints from a wonderful Etsy shop, RetroBookArt. They actually had a promo to buy two get one free which made the deal even sweeter. I’ve been dying to get them up on the wall, so some simple frames were on the list. They were up on the wall within 30 minutes of coming home. They look fantastic, and certainly brighten up the hallway much more than I was expecting. (Side note: Ignore the access panel popping out of the wall. I’m still very much living in a fixer upper. The access panel is merely propped there to keep the cats from going into the walls.)

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Next on the list was a set of wall hooks and a door mat for the entry way. After a quick trip to Home Depot to get some anchors, the hooks were up. If there was one thing I’m most pleased with, it had to be these hooks. I can’t tell you how much of a difference it’s made in making my space functional. Instead of running all over my condo when I get home to put things away, everything is right at the door in one place. All that’s left for this space is a “Welcome” sign above the hooks, and the Hemnes shoe cabinet on the opposite wall. I’m also toying with the idea of painting the back of the door with the same aqua spray paint I’ll be using on the dining room chandelier.

IMG_3895 2Something else I picked up were some feet for my remaining Besta cabinetry. I’d managed to utilize all of the cabinets I originally purchased for the wall unit I designed before I moved out except for one. I figured I could use it in my living room, but I needed one more set of feet for it. After waiting months for any IKEA within driving distance to get them back in stock, I learned that IKEA is likely revamping the Besta line, and they might not come back for a while if at all. I wanted to use the cabinet so I came up with plan B: I’d buy any feet that were in stock and swap them out for two of the back feet from the cabinets in my bedroom which you never see. It turned out to be a great plan, and the cabinet went together.IMG_3899 2There was only one problem. After seeing the cabinet together, I realized I had to get another one to balance it out. Back to IKEA I went for a second trip to get more mismatched feet (these went in the back of the TV stand this time) and a second cabinet. The end result gives me a more storage and ties the room together much better. (In case you’ve noticed the picture that’s floating around in the last two pictures, it will be part of the gallery wall I’m putting together in my bedroom, but I don’t have any place to put it right now.) I’ve ordered two mirrors to hang above the end cabinets which will hopefully brighten the room up.

IMG_3901And just for the heck of it, I figured I’d throw in the picture of this room from the listing. I’m still shocked at the transformation.IMG_3896 2Still left on the to-do list for this room:

  • Buy the Hemnes Shoe cabinet
  • A rug
  • Artwork for the fireplace (potential candidate)
  • A larger tv (mounted to the wall)
  • Hanging up the mirrors I ordered
  • Painting the door
  • And some plants and decorative items.

All in all, it’s nice to finally feel like at least one space is nearing completion. My Pinterest board is becoming a reality, little by little.

Andrea

 

 

10 Things I Love About Living Alone

One of the things I always regretted was living at home during my college years. I did eventually move out out of my childhood home, but I only lasted 3 months before deciding to move back home. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to move 20 miles away from campus (vs. 4) to live with friends on a part-time, college-employee paycheck. I quickly realized I was wrong. Living with friends rarely works out. I wasn’t prepared for the expenses. I was cooped up in 1 tiny room with 2 cats, and I definitely didn’t enjoy the long commute.

When it came time to move out a second time, naturally, I was terrified. I bought a home, so this time there was no turning back like before. It was also the first time I was truly living on my own, so everything was up to me.

This week is the 3-month mark of living on my own (the same amount of time I lasted when I moved out the first time), and today it occurred to me that I actually have no desire to move back home. To celebrate, I thought I’d include 10 reasons I enjoy living alone.

  1. No one tells me when to clean my house. – I certainly don’t live in a pigsty, but some days my house is defintely cleaner than others. Either way it doesn’t matter because if I choose to sit on the sofa and watch Netflix while letting my dishes pile up on the coffee table, that’s my choice.
  2. I can choose my own schedule. – If I’m tired at 4PM. I can sleep without someone worrying that I’m sick, and if I’m wide awake at 3AM, I can make myself food and watch TV in the living room without worrying about disturbing anyone.
  3. Sweatpants or no pants, it doesn’t matter. – It’s Winter right now, and quite chilly in my condo, so truthfully, there’s not much “no-pants-ing” happening, but if there was, it wouldn’t matter. I can wear whatever I want all day, and no one judges me.
  4. I save money on make-up. – I’m one of those people who wears at least a little make-up whenever I’m with other people. My skin is not perfect, and I like to at least look presentable in front of people, but now that I live alone, there are truly days where no one is seeing me. If I’m not going out, it might be 7PM when I finally discover that I’ve had raccoon eyes from remnants of yesterday’s mascara because I’ve not looked in the mirror all day.
  5. I can have anyone over whenever I want. – Sure, my mom said I could invite anyone I wanted over her house, but I never felt comfortable doing it. I spent most of my time in my room which was essentially a studio apartment. Bringing a guy friend over immediately created a sense of awkwardness even if we were just watching TV because it was my bedroom and of course boys weren’t allowed when I was younger.
  6. I can eat whatever I want. – If I decide to make myself a grilled cheese 9AM or have cupcakes for dinner, that’s my decision. I still try my best to have a real dinner before I eat dessert most nights though.
  7. Every decorating decision is mine, and mine alone. – Interior design has always been a passion of mine. I’m no expert, but I certainly enjoy seeing my Pinterest boards turn into reality little by little, and when it’s all done I know that it was 100% my vision.
  8. I can do laundry whenever I want. – Since I started doing my own laundry in high school, I’ve done laundry on Sundays. Sadly no one else in my house had any sort of schedule, and as more people moved in, I found myself having to wait for everyone else to finish their laundry before I could start mine. Sunday laundry turned into Sunday at 11PM laundry. Now that I live alone, I know the only time there’s ever going to be laundry left in the dryer is because I didn’t empty it from last time.
  9. No noisy, interrupting roomates or relatives to worry about. – I’m an introvert, so I love my quiet, alone time which is nonexistent when you have a house full of people. Now I can watch a show and not be interrupted by someone wanting to start a conversation with me or study in complete silence in the middle of the day.
  10. I can be weird without being judged. – If for some odd reason, I decide to turn my life into a musical for an hour, dance around the living room to 90s music, or race my cats down the hallway in socks, no one will ever know. (Tip: Don’t race your cats down the hallway in socks. You will probably slip, fall, and of course, because you live alone, no one will ever know.)

Moving out has been fantastic. Any fears I had were primarily about what other people were going to think: What if I became a crazy cat lady or a hermit? What if people thought I was weird for not going out all the time? What if my condo was a mess? Well guess what?! It’s my condo, and no one is there to judge me anyway. Who cares?!

Andrea

Condo Project – The Past Two Months

My how time flies. Apparently it’s already been two months since I last left you with any sort of update on the condo. By my calculations we’re approaching the 22 week mark of when I first started on this journey which is simply scary to me. That also means I’ve been a homeowner for nearly 5 months at this point!

When I wrote my last post about the condo, I was in a state of dismay. It seemed like every day something new was breaking, and if I wasn’t already at the condo, I was rushing back to it hoping the place wasn’t falling apart. I basically spent the first month questioning what I had gotten myself into and wishing I had decided to buy a a place rather than just rent. For now, *fingers crossed*, things have finally stopped breaking, at least on a daily basis, and I’ve been able to spend the past 2 months getting things livable. I’m naturally interested in finding efficient, organized solutions, so every day I find a new thing to tweak or fix. Nothing like actually living in a house to find out all its quirks.

The Living Room

One of the first things I did after moving in was pick up some necessities from IKEA. Most of what I bought were odds and ends for the kitchen, but I picked up some throw pillows and a sheepskin for the pink chair in attempts to pull the room together. Since taking this picture way back in December (Note: the Christmas tree…) I’ve moved the pink chair to the other side of the sofa, which has made it everyone’s favorite chair now that you can actually see the TV from it.

There’s still a ton on the list for this room:

  • Find artwork. The blank walls are driving me insane much faster than I anticipated.
  • Purchase a larger TV. My 42″ TV worked fine in my bedroom, but it looks minuscule in my Living Room. It will eventually be mounted to the wall.
  • Assemble the remaining Besta cabinet for additional TV storage – I have one remaining cabinet from my former bedroom’s wall unit to repurpose, and it will work perfectly next to my TV stand for more storage. I’m just waiting for any nearby IKEA to restock the feet that match what I already have. I already have one set of 2, so I only need one more box. Sadly they’ve been out of stock for months at this point and I’m worried they’ve been discontinued.
  • Up for debate – a rug. While I love the way rugs anchor a room, I don’t love how the catch dust. I’m not sure if I’m willing to give up the ease of sweeping for a rug.

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The Kitchen

The old black dishwasher that started leaking unexpectedly has been replaced with a new white one, and the mice-chewed wiring was replaced for both the garbage disposal and dishwasher. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was to have a working dishwasher. My nights are no longer spent washing dishes. I did have to buy a lot more dishes and silverware though because I started running out of things before the dishwasher was full. (Worth noting, the day this picture was taken, the dishwasher had just been delivered hence the dishes in the sink still.)
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Another ongoing project is the cabinets. Little by little I’ve been lining them. I was so shocked at how much better the guest bathroom vanity looked lined, I had to snap a picture. Life without cabinet doors and drawer fronts has also been an interesting one, especially with my OCD. I had been planning to wait until the weather warmed up to paint them at my mom’s house, but I gave up and started bringing them back home to paint in the dining room. As of today, I’m happy to report that all drawer fronts except for one that needed to be repaired have been reinstalled. I’ve also started on the cabinet doors. I can’t wait to see what the bathrooms and kitchen look like with all the doors back up and the new hardware installed. It’s no Pinterest worthy dream kitchen, but for the $200 I spent, the before and after will be dramatic.

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The Entry Way

Thanks to all this winter weather, it didn’t take long for me to realize how much I desperately needed to do something with my entry way. Coming home with wet boots meant taking my shoes off at the door, carrying them to the fireplace (the closest place with tile), then walking back across the room to hang up my coat on a hook I hung on the coat closet door, and dropping my work bag somewhere in the process. And because my unit has a second bathroom where the coat closet would normally be, my unit’s coat closet is actually about 10 feet into the condo around a corner making it useless for storing things I need when heading in or out. So here’s my plan:

  • Hang up hooks on the angled wall by the front door paired with a boot tray so that I can hang my outdoor things up and take my shoes off on the way in. I plan to hang a Welcome sign above this too.
  • On the opposite wall, I’m going to purchase a Hemnes Shoe Cabinet. I don’t necessarily plan to use it for shoes but rather odds and ends like sunglasses or outgoing mail. I may stash the throw blankets that live on my sofa during the winter or when people stay over there too.

As of today, I’ve added some mirrors to the wall right by the door and a boot tray, both from Target.
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Other updates not pictured:

  • I’ve started repainting the louvered doors for both the utility closet and laundry closet.
  • I repaired the trim that was damaged when bringing the washer and dryer back in.
  • I replaced all of the interior door knobs (all 4 of them) from their mixture of brass and chrome to a satin nickel finish.

And last but not least, the cats have settled in nicely and spent a lot of time lounging around (well at least the boys lounged around). Skyler quickly took to watching the birds out the back windows.IMG_3739IMG_3728

 

Stay tuned for more updates.

Andrea

Developing my [Miracle] Morning Routine

While I wish I could say 2014 ended on a high note, I can’t. It ended awfully, but, what came next was definitely something much better. I was really questioning what I wanted out of life to the point I was considering some pretty radical changes to my life. Knowing I needed a change, I decided to re-read one of my go-to books, The The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. Part of me still thinks the ideas are crazy, but I also know I always feel better when I do a Miracle Morning, and this time around is no exception – partly because I truly committed to implementing the couple extra steps I wasn’t doing already, but mostly because I really took the time to figure out what I wanted in life.

So what does a weekday morning look like for me?

I wake up at 6:15AM. I may not always be morning person (espescially during these cold winter months), but I’ve also never been much of a snoozer. Nevertheless, I’ve always kept my alarm clock away from my bed, so I have no choice but to get up to shut it off. Another of my tricks has been to set my thermostat to increase a couple degrees right around the time I wake up which makes leaving my warm bed for the cold a little more bearable. My bedroom lights are even set to turn on automatically at 6:15AM when I wake up thanks to a Wemo switch.. Simply shutting off both my alarm, which requires getting out of bed, and turning off the lights, which requires my phone, are usually enough of a hassle that I just decide to get up.

After a quick trip to the bathroom, I make my way into the living room for a quick 7 minute workout. I’ve been using the Seven app which is pretty standard as far as 7 minute workouts go, but it comes with a few extra features including some wonderful graphs as well as achievements along with looking better than most of the apps I’ve tried.

After my quick workout, I make my way back to the bathroom where I hop in the shower and get myself ready for the day. I typically listen to various podcasts while getting ready. My closets happen to be right outside of my bathroom so after I’m done with my hair and makeup, I have no choice but to walk through them to leave which is pretty convenient. Since everything’s within arm’s reach, I tend to get dressed right in my closet area. If I actually prepared for the week properly by picking out my clothes for the week Sunday night as I put my laundry away, I’ll have an outfit set out ready to go hanging on an over the door hook. If not, I’ll throw something together quickly. I tend to gravitate towards a blouse, cardigan, and black pants most days (my uniform of sorts) and only change up my shoes so this doesn’t take too long, but I still prefer to have my clothes laid out already though.

Once dressed, I’ll head to the kitchen to get my lunch and coffee made. Here’s where prep comes into play again. If I was proactive the night before, I’ll have most of my lunch already packed with the exception of anything cold as well as my Keurig ready to go so I only need to add creamer and press a button. With most everything prepped already, it takes me maybe 5 minutes to get my cup of coffee, refill my water bottle for the day, and finish packing my lunch.

Side note: I’m a fairly simple (cheap, and somewhat lazy) person, so on Sunday night, I’ll typically make a batch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the week and just throw them in the freezer – essentially a homemade Uncrustable. In the morning, I just pull one out of the freezer and throw it in my lunch bag, and I’m done.

Exercised, dressed, and lunch fully packed, if I’m hungry I might grab something to eat and then I read over my daily affirmations. Admittedly, this was something I balked at when first reading The Miracle Morning, but it actually helps. Throughout the day, I even find bits and pieces of them popping into my head reminding me to live in line with my goals.

After reading affirmations, I’ll grab my lunch, coffee, and water from the kitchen and make my way to the living room where I spend 5-10 minutes meditating. This was another thing I skipped my first time with The Miracle Morning, but something clicked in me this time around, and I decided being so tense, on-edge, and frustrated with life was just no way to live. Meditation has helped me take a step back, breathe, and enjoy life.

By this point in the morning, I’ve made it to the living room along with everything I need for the day, and it’s time to head out the door (which happens to be right off the living room – how convenient).

After the longest of commutes – a whole 5 minutes 🙂 – I end up getting to work early enough to spend a few moments planning my day. I start by pulling up Omnifocus to decide what I’ll be doing for the day. After figuring out what I’m going to do, I open up Day One where I do my morning journal reflection which is where I make a quick note of what I plan to do for the day, how I’m going to do it, and how the morning went. Then it’s time to start working.

All in all, I may not necessarily do a complete Miracle Morning each day. Some days I shave time off some of the components, and certainly don’t do them in order, but implementing them has worked wonders for me so far to the point that I enjoy waking up each day. I even found myself singing to myself the other morning like my life was a musical which was a bit scary to say the least. Hopefully, no one heard me.

In summary, these are my Life S.A.V.E.R.S., the term Hal Elrod gives to the components of The Miracle Morning:

  • Silence (Meditation) done before leaving each morning
  • Affirmations and Visualization done after I make my lunch.
  • Exercise, my 7-Minute Workout done as soon as I wake up.
  • Reading is done in the form of podcasts but I do actually read before bed each night.
  • Scribing (Journaling) is done in Day One right before I start my day.

If you haven’t read Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning, I highly recommend it. Even incorporating just a few of these items into your morning are sure to make a difference.

Signature Update

One Word for 2015

One Word 2015 BannerLast year’s big thing around the new year was everyone’s “one word”. Mine happened to be “simplify“. I’d say I did an okay job. I simplified a lot of things: my make up routine, my computer, my organization systems, etc. The whole “one word” concept was something that really resonated with me, so when the new year rolled around, I knew it was something I wanted to continue.

But that begged the question, “What on earth would my word be?” I loved “simplify”, but that was last year’s word. I obviously had to pick something else.So I thought about it and came up with one I like… drumroll please…

My one word for 2015 is…

fresh

2014 definitely ended in a way that shook things up for me. If there’s one thing I learned from it all, it’s that I need a fresh start – a fresh outlook on everything whether it be relationships, my work, or where I’m going in life. There’s nothing like getting a swift kick that forces you to realize you’ve been on auto-pilot for far too long heading in a direction you don’t want to go, and that’s where I’ve found myself.

I’m also hoping to apply fresh to other areas of my life. I want to be more open to fresh ideas and not so set in my ways. Going in a completely different direction, I also want to incorporate more fresh meals into my life. Living alone for these past couple months has definitely led me down a path of prepared foods and things that come out of a box, and I’d like to change that.

So here’s what I’m focusing on big-picture-wise for 2015:

  • I’m committed to becoming debt free as soon as possible. I’m blessed to not have any student loans or a car payment, but the $40/mo I pay in interest alone on my credit cards, in addition to the payments I’m making, would be much nicer in the bank. Based on my current payment plan, I should be debt free (minus the mortgage) by summer of 2016, just in time for my 26th birthday.
  • I absolutely need to figure out where my career is going. If I choose to stick with my current path, I need to reassess how to make it work for me. If I choose another path, I need to figure out what that path is.
  • I want to grow as a person. I cannot be on autopilot anymore, and that means doing things for me and finding out about myself.

Habit-wise, I’ve got a few things on the table too:

  • Journal daily – I’ve been trying to use Day One more, starting primarily as a gratitude journal where I record 3 things I’m grateful for each night before bed.
  • Drink more water – I am pretty sure I’ve been in a perpetual state of dehdryation for about 2 weeks now, and that absolutely needs to change. I’m aiming to drink half my bodyweight in ounces each day.
  • The last is more of a collection of habits related to health including taking the recommended number of steps per day (which I fail at pretty regularly), taking breaks from sitting in front of a computer all day, etc. I jumped on the quantified self bandwagon as soon as fitness trackers came out, yet I’ve never done much with them, and I hope to change that this year.

Well there you have it folks, my one word for 2015, and what I’m focusing on this year.

Here’s to a great 2015.

Signature Update

Wrapping up 2014

Quick Blog Update: After this post, I’ll actually be taking a brief hiatus from posting here until the beginning of next year when my semi-normal posting schedule will resume.

My focus for 2014 was to “simplify”. As you might imagine from reading this blog, 2014 was anything but simple for me. It was full of twists and turns, none of which I ever expected.

Looking back at my goals post from the beginning of the year, I was a bit overzealous. Unforeseen circumstances meant reading 52 books was just not possible. According to Goodreads, I did make it to 25 though. Most of the year I was focused on putting out daily fires not proactively picking three tasks a day (and completing them), exercising regularly, drinking enough water each day, or running a 5K. I did, however, manage to knock one thing off the list. I did purchase my bedroom furniture (and a condo). I spent time with friends though not as much as I’d have liked, and I would like to believe I didn’t neglect this blog too much.

So maybe I didn’t reach all my goals I set for myself, but that doesn’t mean they turned out badly at all. I mean in the past year, I received a significant promotion at work. I completed one graduate program and started on another, and I have embarked on the experience of a lifetime buying and renovating a fixer upper, that also happens to be my first time truly living on my own. I stopped living as if there was no tomorrow and started living in order to have a great tomorrow. I feel as if I truly grew as a person, and that’s better than reading 52 books or remembering to pick 3 tasks each day.

2014 was full of ups and downs, but I’m ending the year on a high note, incredibly proud of what I’ve accomplished, and still a little shocked at it too. I still lie in bed at night and just smile looking around thinking back to when my condo was covered in wallpaper and everything was all just an idea in my head.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! See you in 2015!

 

Signature Update

Confessions of a First Time Homeowner (Take 1)

When I decided to buy a house, everyone told me I was crazy. At the very least, they were adamant I was making a poor choice. I was 24, buying a home seemingly at the spur of the moment that exceeded the recommended 30% of income budget, and I didn’t have a whole lot saved up either.

But I had a problem: I needed to move out.

Rent in my area is $1300+/mo for a 1 bedroom apartment that might be nice but more likely is in a not so great neighborhood, too far away, or isn’t so nice looking. The “luxury” apartments that were for lease a few minutes away fit all the requirements other than the fact that they were going for nearly $2000/mo. Maybe it’s me, but that’s just a wee bit ridiculous for an apartment. Never the less, I’m happy to say I have a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home that I own for half that.

Living alone, of course, also has its perks. I love being able to stumble out of bed in the morning and head to the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee without a care of what I’m wearing or what I look like. I love not being judged for who I have over (Well the cats judge everyone, but that’s another story…). I love deciding whether to leave my dishes in the sink until the next day, and I adore the fact that I can do laundry whenever I want.

My favorite part is being able to decorate things my way. I love seeing my Pinterest boards come to life in my home.

BUT…

There’s a flip side to homeownership that’s not so lovely.

For starters, I cry a little every time I think about how my bank account had 6x as much money in it a few months ago. Bills, repairs, and stocking a new home add up and they add up quick.

But really what kills me is all the stress of managing this entire place myself. Every day is a new adventure and not necessarily in the fun way.

I’ll take you through the timeline of some of the various crap I’ve dealt with since starting to buy this place

1) It took weeks to get the power on. – Everyone involved could not figure out why there was no power. The electric bill was paid. The meter was receiving power, but there was still nothing. It actually stalled the inspection and delayed the whole buying process. Turns out there was a separate breaker outside that was only discovered thanks to a passing neighbor.

2) My cable connection didn’t work. – The bill was paid. My cable modem and router arrived. The modem was provisioned (since I bought my own). Everything looked right, but nothing worked. Taking a wild guess, I decided to check the closet where the electric breaker was… sure enough, 8 cable jacks (1 for each unit) that were all being used except there was also a wire disconnected… mine…

3) My bank kept trying to get me to pay for additional insurance. – When you have a condo, you pay for your own insurance which covers the contents. A portion of your HOA dues go towards a master insurance policy for the building. For a while it seemed like every other day I got a letter from my bank insisting that I 1) didn’t have a master insurance policy 2) my master insurance policy didn’t have the right coverage or 3) the policy had expired. All of these things resulted in something along the lines of “If you don’t get this by x date, we’ll add it to your mortgage for you.” It took about 2 months (and probably 2 reams of paper) to get that worked out.

4) Mice in the walls don’t mix with electric wires. – Turns out vacant condos = perfect homes for mice, and the building I live in seemed to be no exception. I didn’t have mice, but they did chew my electrical wires, a fun fact we discovered when we noticed the line to the dishwasher arcing in the wall. All I can say is I’m glad this was discovered before I started using it.

5) Thermostats that are broken in the middle of winter are absolutely no fun. – Of course the one day it drops to 30 degrees is also the day I don’t have heat. I’ve lived nearly a week without heat thanks to an ice storm that knocked out power to my house, but having power but no heat is even worse (especially when you’re alone). I now own a small portable heater, but living without heat for more than a couple days is still a no-go from now on.

6) Plumbing nightmares always happen at inopportune times. – Like an overflowing toilet first thing in the morning, or getting a call from your neighbor 15 minutes after you got to work telling you something in your kitchen is leaking down her walls.

7) A house that sat vacant for a couple years is full of surprises. – I literally never know what to expect every single day. For instance, that random leak my neighbor called about – the dishwasher that looked brand new ended up having bad valves that allowed water to flow into it until it overflowed (even though it didn’t even have power running to it.) On that very same day, fixing a clogged sink turned into replacing a garbage disposal that rusted out.

In hindsight, yes I wish I had saved up more money. (Don’t we all though?) Thankfully, my wonderful realtor gifted me a home warranty that actually covers all the appliances (even the 30+ yr old ones on their last legs). At the end of the day, I know I’m saving money buying this place rather than renting. I also know that every little bit I fix will only make this place increase in value more than it has already. I just have to keep reminding myself that every fix I make is being done right, and eventually the daily problems will subside.

But really – I’m 24, and I’m a homeowner! How freaking cool is that!

Rant over.

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Condo Project – Moved In (1 Week Later)

It’s been a little over a week since I moved in to the condo, so it’s time for an update.

Despite most of my week being spent binging on True Detective and Girls, I’ve managed to get nearly every box unpacked. I think I have about 3 left to unpack.

My main priority was getting the boxes in my bedroom unpacked. The large majority of the boxes were filled with items in the closet. I’m happy to report my closet’s now organized. Thanks to having “hers and hers” closets, I even get somewhat of a shoe closet, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a shoe closet? Looks like I need more shoes though.IMG_3055

Second project of the week was putting together the window bench in the master bedroom. I never got to complete the entertainment center/desk combo I had designed for my old room, so I had left over cabinetry still in boxes. Turns out some of that cabinetry fit perfectly in the nook in the master bedroom. As expected, it turned into an instant cat magnet. Not expected was how the cats now growl at everyone walking by.

IMG_3682Other projects for the week included unpacking the several boxes of disorganized toiletries which are now stored neatly in plastic containers in the linen closet and master bathroom, starting to unpack things in the second bedroom (aka office/gym), and of course getting rid of the plethora of moving boxes that I’d been storing on the balcony until recycle day. I’m pretty sure I had more recycling than the whole building.

I wish I could say that everything turned out to be roses, but this week was full of plenty of fun new homeowner experiences. The biggest annoyance was that my Nest thermostat shorted out, a fun fact I discovered when I realized that my thermostat thought it was almost 80 degrees inside and there was only cold air coming out of the vents. While I wait for Nest to send out a new thermostat, I’m stuck using emergency heat. I’m thankful for heat, but more thankful that it’s finally warm enough that I don’t have to use it too often. If that were it, I’d have had a fun weekend, but I also got to deal with an overflowing toilet at 7AM and an incredibly slow kitchen sink which is great when the dishwasher and disposal are both not working.

On the schedule for this week:

  • Apply the top coat to the cabinet bases in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Get my office set up.
  • Getting the cats toilet training started.
  • Getting the remaining doors installed.
  • And getting the heat fixed.

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