Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure: Defining My Style

Hello Everyone!

Life has been (or at least felt) very full lately.

I think I go in cycles. Sometimes feeling like I have everything more or less under control and I’m making good progress on my goals.

And then other times I find myself overwhelmed and sitting on the couch, looking at unfolded laundry and our Cheerio-garnished floors, wondering how other people with more than one kid and/or kids + careers make it all look so easy. 

This has been one of those other times. 

9months

Javi turned 9 months old and has recently discovered his love of standing (with assistance). He just figured out crawling and as much as I love watching him gain new skills and independence, I’m not ready for walking(!). 

All that said, I’m still pushing through with Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure! It started last week and so far the assignments have challenged me to define my style preferences. 

The first task was to take the Style Cure Interview (check it out here) followed by gathering inspiration images. I’ve been collecting them here on Pinterest. 

Things that have stood out for me:

I LOVE light…

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via Apartment Therapy

I feel sad in unintentionally dark or dim rooms – especially during the day. All of my favorite places & memories involve an abundance of sunlight.

I like white walls & clean lined furniture – Especially Mid-Century modern pieces. 

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via DesignLoveFest 

California House Home Tour Cup of Jo Living Room 7
via A Cup of Jo

And I’ve rarely met a colorful boho accent or cozy textile that I didn’t want to bring home. (The more throw blankets, the better).


Anthropologie vases

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TexturableDecor throw

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Our new rug

I like abstract paintings and simple nature photography.

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Nouveau Tree by LupenGrainne

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Autumn Day No . 1 by Amber Alexander

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by Cristina Ripper 

And I think every space feels better with plants.

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via A Beautiful Mess

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via Apartment Therapy

I’m looking forward to what the next assignments will bring!

The Rug is Here!

Last month, we bought a vintage Turkish rug for our living room from a seller on Etsy.

I’ve been checking the shipment tracking information every day since the rug left Turkey three weeks ago and yesterday it finally said “Out for Delivery”. Hurrah! 

When the mailman rang our doorbell, I almost didn’t mind that a giant bell had just sounded during nap time. The rug was here!

I opened the door, fully expecting to start pulling a heavy, rolled up rug into our apartment. Instead, he handed me a box. 

Managing the Everyday

At first glance when I opened the box, I wondered if they sent the wrong rug.

I knew I was looking at the back of the rug (which always looks different) but I didn’t remember it being so dark. Maybe the photos were really off?

Managing the Everyday

Turns out, I was right. It wasn’t the same rug…It was another smaller rug that they added for fun!

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I tried this little rug in front of our kitchen sink and then nearly slipped and fell during my dinner-making dance. (In this house, we dance when we cook. Don’t you?)

I did like how the rug looked in the kitchen, so once I get a rug pad to keep it in place on the hardwood floors, it will be back. 

But what – I hear you asking – about the other rug? The one you bought during No Spend Month, when you really weren’t supposed to be buying anything?

Ladies & Gentlemen, meet our new rug! A beautiful mix of burgundy, orange, taupe and a little fuchsia (to name a few).  

Managing the Everyday

And, the moment you have been waiting for (or maybe just scrolled all the way down for) the The Rug + Room:

Managing the EverydayIt’s amazing how much more put together the living room looks with the added color & texture. As much as I want to be a beige/white/black/grey minimalist, I can’t seem to give up color. Just can’t do it. 

I have, however, declared to Juan that I’m not allowed to buy anything else orange. I gravitate to that color like a moth to a flame and it can get a little ridiculous. Especially when I look around and start asking myself “Why is there So. Much. Orange!?”. 

Like I’ve mentioned, I’m going to be participating in Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure and I’m excited to see how much more the living room will change in the weeks ahead! 

100 Walks

Managing the EverydayI’ve always been a homebody. 

I definitely like the idea of outside. It’s beautiful and I’m always glad to get out when I do.

But if given the choice between going for a hike or curling up with a good book? You will find me turning pages on the couch, under a throw blanket. 

And now that I’m at home with Javi, just getting out the door feels like a lot of work. Mostly because there is no simple “open the front door and roll on out” in our elevator-free building.

Instead, it takes at least 3 trips back-and-forth from our apartment, down the hall and up the stairs to get our beast of a stroller (first the base and then the seat), reusable shopping bags, etc. (if we are running errands) and the baby (most important) ready to go. (I’m sooo glad we don’t live on a higher floor.)

All that said, I have one BIG incentive…this guy:

Javi

Javi absolutely adores being outside. The fresh air, trees, birds, people watching. He stares at the world with his big beautiful eyes and can’t get enough. 

And I want to be the Mamá who encourages getting outside and exploring nature – even if it goes against mine.

So that means…a New Challenge! I am happy to introduce…

100 Walks!

The goal? Go on 100 walks with Javi before his 1st birthday (January 25).

We kicked it off on Sunday, where we got caught in the rain a torrential downpour and had to buy emergency umbrellas from the corner store. 

Managing the EverydayToday (Walk #3) we avoided rain, ran some errands and said hi to Jimmy, one of two honest-to-goodness alley cats who live – as you might have guessed – in our alley.

Managing the EverydayI have 97 walks to go and 102 days until Javi’s birthday, which gives me a nice little buffer for illness, extreme laziness, blizzards, etc. 

I’m excited to see where these walks will take us. So far, we’ve been exploring our neighborhood and based on our travel plans, the view is going to change a lot over the next few months. 

If you want to follow along, I’ll be posting images from our walks on Instagram.

Feeling inspired to do your own 100 walks? Share your own photos on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #100walks so we can follow along! 

Happy walking. 

Blah Room? Let’s do Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure!

5935527884_3eb00ca5bb_zphoto: David Fant

A lot of people have asked me what the next “challenge” will be now that we’re done with No Spend Month

I’ve been wondering that too! Juan suggested something “home”-oriented so I’ve decided to sign up for Apartment Therapy’s Style Cure

Apartment Therapy is one of my favorite websites (I dream of our place being featured on there one day). The Style Cure is their yearly project to help you refresh a room in your home in time for the holidays. 

I signed up last year, but I was pretty pregnant so that didn’t really happen. But I did read the emails and loved how straightforward and easy the steps seemed.

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 photo: Katie Brady

My Goal? Refresh our living room. 

But, wait!?, you may say. Didn’t you just work on the living room?

Mmmhmm.

I tend to get partially through a home decor project and then feel paralyzed by indecision and self-doubt. (Was this couch a mistake? Oh! Look at this room on Pinterest. Does our space say “us”? What does “us” even look like?)

That said, our living room hasn’t changed much since we added our new couch and got rid of our old rug. Basically, it still looks like this:

Managing the EverydayIt’s better than it was, but it still has a long way to go.

I’m SO ready to get some more art on the walls and add some texture and color to balance out the white. 

And if I can do it in bite-sized pieces with guidance? All the better!

Want to join in the fun? The Style Cure starts on October 23rd so sign up now!

3 Tips to Get out of Funky Town

14496537236_932d9a9acd_zphoto: Holly Lay

This week, I’ve been in a funk.

I’m tired, unfocused and all I want to do is sit on the couch, fold laundry and watch TV.

But I’ve already done all the laundry folding. And sitting on the couch just watching TV seems like a poor use of time when my head is swimming with snippets of to-do lists, reminders of unanswered emails & voicemails and unwritten blog posts. 

I feel completely unmotivated, uninspired, overwhelmed. Can I just go back to bed and not think of any of it? 

Apparently not. 

So with that, here are my top 3 ways to get out of funky town:

1. Drink water. Even mild dehydration effects your concentration & mood so before you reach for the coffee, grab a glass H2O. 

2. Get some fresh air. Open a window or even better yet, step outside.

3. Finish one thing. Build some momentum with small victories. 

I have my glass of water and Javi & I will be headed on a walk as soon as he wakes up from his nap. And my one thing? You are reading it. 

 How do you shake the funk?

The End of No Spend Month!

Managing the Everyday

No Spend Month is OVER! 

Best of all? We made it, with a little cash left over. 

Managing the Everyday We finished strong! Celebrating with a shared cupcake & homemade coffee.

The Grand Total

294.56 on Groceries (food, cleaning products & personal care)
174.37 on Dining Out
48.75 on Fuel
26.25 on SitterCity (to find a babysitter for Javi)
22.78 on a New Headlight Bulb
22.33 on Paint (to finish painting the hallway)
21.89 on a New Wireless Router
12.00 on childcare (for a class we are taking)
10.00 on a book (for a class we are taking)
3.27 to watch an episode of Tiny House Nation
3.00 on Parking
2.83 on Baby Bottle Nipples (Javi need a bigger size)

TOTAL: $642.03 ($7.97 left!)

3 Things We’ve Learned from No Spend Month

1. Planning is Everything.

Before this month, we used to eat out a lot. Nothing to make for dinner? Let’s go out! Nothing for Juan to take for lunch? Just buy something. 

This month we planned our meals, bought what we needed, made it, ate it. 

This alone has saved us a ridiculous amount of money.

It also saved me a lot of time since I was no longer running to the store for missing ingredients or thinking about what we were going to make for dinner every night. 

2. DIY = $$$

Managing the Everyday

Before this month, the idea of cooking all of our meals at home instead of going out at least once a week (plus a lot on the weekends) was extremely daunting.

It definitely felt that way when we were both working – even more so when Javi was a newborn and we were spit-up covered zombies. 

But now that he’s older and sleeping well, it’s not the challenge it once was. It’s not always fun, but I can definitely do it. 

And when we do go out? It feels soooo nice.

Managing the Everyday

We also cancelled the cleaning service we had started using.

Since our space is small and we don’t have a lot of stuff, I’ve found it only takes about 30 minutes a day to keep it reasonably clean. 

Bonus? I get a great sense of satisfaction just looking at our freshly scrubbed tub. It’s a good workout, I know it was done “right” and it saves us at least $180 per month.

3. WE were the problem.

Before No Spend Month, we regularly went over our budget. We would make adjustments – adding a little here and there – and STILL went over.

Spoiler Alert: The problem wasn’t the budget. It was US. 


Our new theme song.

Looking back at what we spent over the last few months as compared to our “new normal” is pretty shocking and embarrassing. 

Even though No Spend Month is over, we have no intention of going back to our old ways. We’ve made big changes to our monthly budget (although it’s not as tight as our No Spend Month limit). Now that we know what we are capable of, there are no excuses. 

I’m so glad we took this challenge and highly encourage you to consider doing your own No Spend Month.

Seriously, do it.

p.s. A BIG thank you for reading along and keeping us accountable to this goal. Just knowing you would be expecting updates and asking us how it was going kept us from throwing in the towel. :)

5 Tips for Saving Money at the Grocery Store (no coupons required!) + No Spend Month Week #4

Managing the Everyday: 5 Tips for Saving Money at the Grocery Store

We’re in the home stretch of No Spend Month! Only a few more days to go! (Current $ totals at the end of the post.)

The Final Shop

Yesterday, we stopped by the grocery store on our way home from church.

We knew we only had about $30 left to spend on food until the end of No Spend Month so we brainstormed a few meals in the parking lot based on what we knew we had at home.

Juan stayed in the car with our sleeping baby and I braved the store, armed with our list and the calculator on my phone. I managed to get everything we needed for $27.28! 

Here are some tips I’ve found helpful this month:

1. Check the Store Flyer.

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Find out what the weekly specials are before you get to the store.

This way, you can plan your weekly menu around what is on sale and avoid searching for the deals when you are at the store (and buying things you don’t need). 

If it’s a good deal AND is something you need, it’s on your list. Speaking of…

2. Make a List.

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This one is pretty obvious. Figure out what you need to buy for the week and buy ONLY what is on the list. Get in. Get out. 

3.Buy only what you will actually use.

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We started No Spend Month with two pot roasts in the freezer that I bought back in March on a “Buy One, Get One FREE!” promotion. 

Stocking up on an amazing deal is great, but those savings won’t do you any good if you don’t actually use what you buy. Meat freezes well so we were able to still enjoy those pot roasts, but not everything lasts that long.

Eat the food you have. Then buy more. 

And if that new recipe that calls for an exotic spice or unusual ingredient? See if your store has a bulk section where you can buy only what you need instead of a whole container. 

4. Shop the Outside Aisles. 

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Grocery stores usually put the produce, dairy & meat sections around the outer edges of the store. These are usually the only places you need to shop to get wonderful ingredients for homecooked meals. 

Instead of buying pre-made goodies, buy some basic staples and make them yourself.

Chances are, you will spend less, eat better AND your home will smell like chocolate. (We used this easy brownie recipe multiple times this month.)

5. Meet the Dirty Dozen (& the Clean Fifteen).

Peppers
We generally buy organic produce, but it’s often more expensive.

As a compromise, this month we’ve been using the EWG’s Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen lists to let us know where buying organic matters most and which conventional foods are safest from a “pesticide in your mouth” standpoint. 

The No Spend Month Numbers

Last week we spent $161.96.

$103.35 on Groceries
$35.22 on Dining Out
$23.39 on Gas

We have $68.72 left!

What are your favorite grocery shopping tips?

To Buy or Not to Buy

rug

So what do you do when you:

  1. Find a beautiful one-of-a-kind vintage rug that would be perfect for your living room. AND
  2. It’s No Spend Month.

I’ll be honest. If you are me, you buy the rug. Like I just did.

You Did WHAT?

Yes. I know. 

I debated buying it – I could have waited.

Someone else could have bought it, but I would have remained firm in my No Spend Month principles. (And part of me really likes following rules.)

I thought about buying it and not saying anything. I mean, it’s not like any of you would know that I didn’t wait until October. (But that’s shady.)

Instead, I decided to find a way to make it happen while still honoring the goal of No Spend Month. 

Take a Penny…

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photo: 401kCalculator.org

Since we didn’t have the extra money for a rug in our No Spend Month envelope, this meant making sacrifices elsewhere. (No pigs were harmed in the making of this sacrifice.)

We use the Envelope Technique of putting a little money aside every month to save up for big purchases. 

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We have virtual envelopes for everything: Car Repairs, HOA dues, Christmas Gifts, Clothing, etc. 

We looked at the balance in each and made some cuts. I sacrificed some of my “Fun Money” aka Allowance. We each took some from our Clothing envelopes (which were very healthy thanks to months of OVERfunding.)

When I asked Juan if he was really cool with taking from his Clothing budget, he said not to worry:

“If I run out of money for pants, I’ll just wear the rug.”

Sounds fair. 

Goodbye Creative Accounting

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Before No Spend Month, we would have bought the rug, let that envelope go negative and made up for it next month by saving a little less. 

It was a sneaky little give and take that in retrospect made about as much financial sense as spending Javi’s college tuition money on cupcakes

We didn’t do it all the time and never went into debt, but it still wasn’t a healthy habit. Now, we are feeling the pinch in the moment and not sacrificing our future. 

I think that’s a good No Spend Month Compromise.

My New iPhone: The Boringest Brick on the Block

photo: Gonzalo Baeza H

A few weeks ago, an interesting article showed up in my Facebook feed.

The author wrote about his experience of removing all “infinite” apps on his iPhone: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even email and the web browser. Basically, if it was a doorway to endless information – it was gone. 

I’m all about simplifying and getting rid of things, but this scared me a little. 

And the fact that it scared me? That scared me even more. 

Gone, Gone, Gone 

6421424935_0b6f8d06ab_zphoto: Thomas Kohler

Scared, but kind of excited, I picked up my phone and deleted Facebook. 

Next, I deleted a bunch of random apps: Yelp, TripAdvisor, YouTube, an airport map app that I’ve only used once. 

I got rid of Feedly. (And the pressure to keep up with multiple blogs.)

I decided to keep all photography related apps: Instagram, VSCOcam and other photo editing apps that I actually use. (I have been known to accidentally refer to my phone – in all seriousness – as my camera.)

I kept Pinterest, but disabled all notifications and tucked it away in a folder. (While writing this, I realized that I barely look at it now and deleted it as well.)

How to Save 100% on Things You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Buy 

2179579524_35f56b8e16_zphoto: Rick Harris

After deleting a few more apps and organizing the ones I had left, my mind turned to my email…

I get dozens of new emails everyday. Mostly “deals”.

Usually, I have no idea that the thing they want to sell me is something I might like or need. Until I see it. Then it sounds like a great idea! (Am I right?)

So I sat on the couch and unsubscribed myself from everything I could.

I reasoned that when I needed something, I would shop for it and if there was a deal? Great! If not, I’d either wait or pay full price (and survive).

After all this purging, I felt really cool and immediately went to share about it on Facebook. 

And then I remembered that I had uninstalled that app. Ha. 

Old habits die hard.

How It’s Been

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photo: Lauren Garza

It’s been over two weeks now. I like to think I’ve been more attentive and a lot less distracted. 

I still check Facebook more than I would like during the day on my laptop, but since I don’t take the laptop with me everywhere I go it’s been much better. 

The other day, Juan was looking at my phone and said “Wow, babe. Your phone is really boring…It’s great!” 

He’s right. And I’m learning to be OK with boredom. 

I still don’t like boredom, but now I can’t easily escape from it. Instead, I have to get creative and come up with something else to do in real life

Like paint the hallway. Make dinner. Play with Javi.

It’s a good thing. 

No Spend Month: Week #3

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month / Week #3

Week #3 went by very quickly and felt surprisingly easy. 

I went grocery shopping, made some good food and we ate it.

Pretty normal stuff.

Normal.

This month has been all about redefining what that means.

Before No Spend Month, we had an almost weekly habit of stopping at our favorite Cupcake Royale for cupcakes & lattes. 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #3

It didn’t start out that way. At first, we started going there for our monthly Money Meetings (what Juan and I call going over our budget, etc.). We split a cupcake and each had a coffee. 

At some point, we decided to get 2 cupcakes so we could try a different flavor, but still have one of our favorites too in case the new flavor was a dud. (Because that would be disappointing). 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #3

After Javi was born, it was one of the few places we felt comfortable going to late at night with our giant stroller & tiny baby. 

Getting out of the house is super important for new Mamás. (So is chocolate cake & cream cheese frosting.) Our visits became more frequent. 

Now, we were sometimes stopping there on our way home from the grocery store and getting cupcakes to go.

Our special once a month treat was now a regular impulse buy. 

2 Cupcakes + 2 Lattes vs Javi’s College Fund

Managing the Everyday- No Spend Month, Week #3

So what was this normal cupcake & latte habit costing us? Almost $1000 per year. 

It’s a lot, but if you really want to put it into perspective consider this:

Imagine we took that same $1,000 per year and put it in a college fund for Javi. And assume that we did that same thing every year for 18 years.  With a 6% return, that would be $32,760 by the time he went to college. 

$32,760!  (And $14,760 of that is interest aka FREE money.) 

We know that college is going to cost a LOT more than that, but it’s not a bad start. 

This Week’s Numbers

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month Week #3 Late night walks to get pizza from Zaw are sooo fun!

Now that I’ve said all that, I will say that this week we did go to Cupcake Royale.

We split a cupcake and had an Americano and a drip coffee. We spent half of what we usually spend and for the first time in a long time, actually cringed a little bit at spending $10 on sugary goodness & caffeine. (That was an oddly good feeling…Our “normal” is adjusting!)

This week we spent $221.56. It was the most we’ve spent yet, but we did purchase several things that are not going to be regular expenses. 

$93.19 on Groceries (food, cleaning products & personal care)
$41.18 on Dining Out (Cupcake Royale, Zaw Pizza & Woods Coffee)
$26.25 on SitterCity (to find a babysitter for Javi)
$22.78 on a New Headlight Bulb
$22.33 on Paint (to finish painting the hallway)
$10.00 on a Book (for a class we are taking)
$3.00 on Parking
$2.83 on Baby Bottle Nipples (Javi needed a bigger size)

We have $234.68 left!

Does Your “Normal” Need an Adjustment?