If I wasn’t a renter…

Renting has a lot of perks. You never have to mow the lawn, rake leaves, shovel snow. You (in theory) don’t have to fix things when they break. (Though in our case, sometimes it just means they NEVER get fixed…cryptic grumble…)

Of course, as any renter knows, it also comes with a lot of…shall we say, downsides.

You know my beef with not being able to paint. (IT WILL BE A BEEF FOREVER.) But lately I find myself staring around the apartment making mental adjustments to other things. Unfortunately, they will have to stay mental because I am not allowed to touch those things (plus, it would be a huge waste when we eventually move on to nicer digs), BUT. The best part of having a blog is that I can imagine it a bit further.

So, without further ado, here are three things I would change about our apartment if I could:

A chalkboard door. {source}
I don’t know why I’ve become obsessed with this idea, but I think if we painted the back of our door with chalkboard paint, it would be the cutest thing ever. It’s already metal, so it’s magnetic, but being able to write out little notes, things to remember, etc. would be so handy. Plus, I think the black door would look really cool in our mostly white room.

Dining room built-in cabinets. {source}
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. I would do a smoky grey. Open shelving mixed with closed cabinets to hide the less-inspiring stuff. And it would be perfection.

Open kitchen layout. {source}
Ok, so pretty much nothing I could do to the current apartment would make it look like that, but I love the look of an open kitchen. If I could, I would knock out the (totally useless) wall that turns our kitchen into a cave separate from the living area, instead turning it into a bar/work surface area. Then when I’m cooking, I can still be involved in what’s going on out there. Plus, it would make the whole space feel so much bigger.

Obviously, I have a lot more I could add to this list. (Including a complete overhaul of the bathroom and kitchen.) But those are posts for another time.

To my renting readers: What’s on your short list of “things I wish I could do to this place”? Misery loves company, so tell me about it!

Advertisements

One way or another

It’s funny how a simple interest can grow into a near obsession.

No, I’m not talking about my relationship with the song “Call Me Maybe.” Although it’s true in that case also.

SIDE NOTE! As I mentioned, there were several local bands and DJs set up along the course during my recent half marathon. It was really nice because you had music to listen to while you ran. (I don’t like wearing headphones because a) I like to be aware of my surroundings and b) most headphones don’t fit my ears and are uncomfortable and fall out a lot and drive me crazy and I was trying to focus. So I appreciated the bands and DJs. But the best part was that there was a radio station set up at like, mile 1.5, and the song that started playing as I approached? Ms. Carly Rae Jepsen herself. I almost wished it would have happened on mile 9 or something (you know, when I would really need the boost), but I would be lying if I said that wasn’t the greatest way to start a race ever.

Anyway. As I was saying. Obsessions.

I’m sure most people who work on computers have a few sites that they always start their day with. Facebook. The Times. Twitter. Maybe even certain blogs. (Ahem. Feel free to add mine to your list.)

But lately I don’t hit 8:45 a.m. without having stopped by Craigslist.

As you know, I have been searching for a trunk/storage coffee table and a desk that I can turn into a vanity table. You also know that I actually FOUND the trunk/coffee table I wanted, but it had been sold. What you don’t know is that I’ve since found it two more times, and found one that was a little different, but that I could have painted and loved forever.

ALL THREE OPTIONS WERE SOLD BY THE TIME I EMAILED.

It’s just. Ugh. I tend to fall fast for things. One second, I’m curiously clicking a promising sounding link. The next, I’m imagining the two of us growing old together, storing blankets and odds and ends in my lovingly cared for coffee table.

The vanity options are even worse. Every day, I email at least two sellers about potential options and get zero responses.

Um, excuse me? This isn’t a job application. (You know, which I expect to not hear back from BECAUSE EVERYONE IS TERRIBLY RUDE.) You want to sell this item. I want to buy this item. If anything, I’m the answer to your prayers. And if you’ve already sold it, take the dang post down! You cheap teases.

I’ve started tweaking my response emails to try to elicit a reply. I’ll usually ask if it’s still available (unless they have stated in the post that they will take the ad down when it’s sold), then mention I could pick it up right away, then maybe haggle with the price a little.

I realize the haggling could hold me back in the end, but if I can get a desk/vanity for $50 instead of $75, I’m going to go for it.

So anyway. The search goes on.

It would be so much easier to shop if Craigslist had an image search function. I know there are sites that are supposed to do this for you, but I haven’t found one that works well. Anyone have a service they use with success? What are your early morning ritual sites?

I don’t care for spam.

So, a decision has been made. We’re going with the rug.

I know. I know, you guys. I’m only sorry for making you hold your breath this long.

I’m going to order it next month. You know, after those pesky costs (like rent, car payments, etc.) have been covered. Ohhh, adulthood! You are such a fun suck.

Fortunately, aside from the rug, there are only two things in that inspiration board I don’t already have (because, again, I don’t expect to own that coffee table trunk anytime soon): the map print and the turquoise pillow.

Isn’t that kind of amazing? Like, my living room doesn’t really look anything like that image right now, but with only a few accessory swaps (and a giant rug) we can have a whole new space. Wacky.

Anywho, today at lunch, I was going to get a manicure, but instead I think I’ll hit up Jo-Ann’s for fabric and possibly Michael’s for a canvas and some paint because I’ve decided I can make those two things myself. (Or at least something similar.) I need fabric for a project I’m working on with my sister anyway. Two birds, y’all.

Now that you’re caught up on my weekend plans, can we just talk about something for a second? We need to talk about spam.

No, not that kind of Spam. I’ve never tried that, but I have to believe it would be less horrible than the kind I’m talking about. I’m talking about spam blog comments.

If you maintain a blog, you probably have some idea of what I’m talking about. If you don’t…OMG they are SO ANNOYING.

For a while, I had a spam blocker that required commenters to check a box to “prove they were human,” as opposed to the stupid bots that apparently just troll the internets leaving tainted links on everything. I thought checking the box was fairly simple. I mean…it’s one click. I had seen (and used) it on other blogs with great success. It’s not like I was asking you to decipher and repeat one of these:

I mean, I agree, those are annoying. But a check box? Did I mention it’s one click?

But still, you guys didn’t like it. Apparently it wasn’t obvious enough, and people were missing it, and then when my blog was all, “Nuh-uh! You ain’t leaving no comments til you prove you’re a HUMAN! IFTHATISYOURREALSPECIES!” (My blog is very sassy when it comes to spam threats.), and then it would just delete your lovingly crafted comment. And I certainly do not expect you to repeat yourself. That’s lame.

So I removed the spam blocker. Because I care about you guys. I want reading my blog to be a pleasant experience for you. It’s not like I’m oh-so-famous that I don’t need each and every one of you. I’m not. I appreciate each and every one of you and, if given the opportunity, would kiss you all on the face. (But not open-mouthed. I’m a married woman.)

But since that isn’t altogether feasible (or, let’s face it, sanitary)(you don’t know where I’ve been)(what?), instead I opted to try to make commenting easier for you.

Which, it has been, right? I mean, you guys are kind of a quiet bunch in general, but I feel like commenting has picked up a little since I removed the blocker (and therefore the check box). It’s easier now, right?

Of course, the problem is that while you guys are living the good life, I’m swimming through message like these:

As you can see, most of these don’t even make sense. And the ones that do are…well…almost insulting? (“ps decent site” could quite possibly be the most backhanded compliment I’ve ever received. And I’ve actually been told that I have a “great personality”…so…yeah. Dark times.)

It wouldn’t be so bad if I only got a couple of these a day, but it’s more like a dozen or more. If I don’t check my dashboard over the weekend (which I usually don’t), I could wake up to 60 or so spam comments on Monday. It’s madness. And it’s just annoying.

I don’t want to pay for the spam service that comes with WordPress.org, and I don’t want my readers to have to jump through a million hoops to leave a comment. Is there a middle ground? Some plug-in that I don’t know about? If you know of anything, please leave me a note below. (UNLESS YOU’RE A ROBOT, IN WHICH CASE, GET LOST.)

To you other bloggers out there, do you get a lot of comments? Does it come with a price?

I’m medium-maintenance

I was never a girlie-girl growing up. After three older brothers, I’m sure my mom was more than a little disappointed at just how much I preferred soft ball and collecting bugs to dressing up and painting my nails.

Of course, things changed as I got older. I started wearing makeup in the eighth grade. (Though I vividly remember being so uncomfortable asking my mom if I could. I think I was embarrassed? Not embarrassed to be wearing makeup. But embarrassed to be making a fuss about my appearance.

Somewhere along the line, I equated caring about my appearance with being high-maintenance. Isn’t that kind of sad? I mean, shouldn’t you feel like you’re worth making a fuss over?

Obviously, I don’t feel that way as much anymore. I’m a huge proponent of the lunchtime manicure (I haven’t had naked nails in…geez, months?), and you know I love a good blowout. My favorite indulgences (besides my running time) are getting my hair or nails done. I feel like a whole new person after a trip to the salon.

But despite how much I love taking care of myself and how great I feel when I do, I still sometimes feel a tug of guilt about it. I know that these things are not actually important. And I could very well survive without either indulgence. But as long as it is fiscally responsible, why should I beat myself up about doing whatever I can to be my best self?

Am I the only one who ever feels this way? Or should I just knock it off and embrace my life as a pseudo-high-maintenance chick?

Planning My Dream Closet

My husband will tell you that one of my biggest complaints about our current apartment is the closets. Here’s a running list of the things I do not like:

1. The doors. The doors are those awful sliding kinds that slide over each other, so you can never at one time see everything in the closet. Plus, they get stuck on things and we can’t both get to our sides at the same time, which interrupts the “getting ready” process.

2. The hanging bars are too low. Which means there is a lot of wasted space at the top of the otherwise large closet and clothes hang too far down, so anything on the floor is obstructed.

3. The shelves don’t make sense. I like the idea of built-in shelving in a closet, but the current arrangement is too small and shallow for us to make use of it. I’d like to put drawers in the shelves for the hubs to store undershirts and things, but all of the drawers I’ve found that have enough room extend out past the shelf too far, so they wobble around and make the whole thing look like a big ol’ mess.

But because we signed a new 1-year lease yesterday, I’m just going to have to live with it for another 12 months.

I have a few plans for upgrading what we have (without investing too much time or money…it is only a rental, after all), but because I like to shoot for the stars, I decided to first come up with what I would do if I could completely makeover the closets. Here’s what I came up with.

For the hall closet:

1. First things first, those sliding doors have to go. They make zero sense logistically, and, well, I hate them. So, away with thee! I would replace them with normal swinging doors. You can open them to see everything inside, and then discretely close them to hide any messes that might crop up within. Not that this dream closet would ever get messy. It’s also magic.

2. Next, raising the bar. Literally. And figuratively. Anyway. I would move the top shelf up about five inches. On this higher shelf, we would store the stuff we don’t need to get to every day or anything out of season. (Gloves, hats, scarves would be neatly contained in matching, labeled boxes that also never get cluttered.)

3. With the higher shelf would also go the higher hanging bar. We hang most of our longer clothes (okay, most of my longer clothes) like dresses and jerseys here, and now we would actually be able to see anything stored on the floor.

4. Speaking of which, let’s talk shoe storage. I’d like to have two built-in shelves across most of the floor. With our current sliding door system, we can’t have shelves wider than half the closet, but this new system would allow us shelves that span at least 3/4 of the way across. AKA, more room for shoes! Yay!

5. Built-in drawers. Not only are they more aesthetically pleasing than the cheap-o plastic bins I bought at Target, they would also fit the space perfectly and give the hubs a place to store undershirts, socks, underwear, or whatever his little heart desires.

6. And finally, I would upgrade our current shelves to match the other built-ins. I would also extend them out to the doors so we can actually fit more than two towels on each. This closet doubles as a sort of linen closet/storage closet, so anything extra could be kept here in boxes or bins as well.

Isn’t it pretty? (And don’t you love how everything stored in our new closet also matches? This is how we live our lives when we have the perfect closets.)

Next, the bedroom closet.

This closet drives me crazy because it’s SO big, but the space is impossible to utilize because of the way it’s constructed. Here is what I would change.

1. Again, the sliding doors HAVE TO GO. It is my dream that one day Joey will be able to get a shirt out of his side while I’m getting shoes out of my side. AT THE SAME TIME. I dream big. Plus, when the doors swing out, you can take advantage of that space with hooks and baskets installed to the inside of the doors. FOR MORE STORAGE.

2. Again, moving up the hanging bar and the top shelf would make this a great place to store out-of-season items or anything we don’t need regularly, like crafting and sewing supplies.

3. The higher hanging bar means we can actually keep stuff on the middle shelf without it getting knocked around by shirts and sweaters.

4. If I’m truly dreaming, I would change the structure of this closet so the hanging bars/shelves only extend about 85 percent of the way across the closet. Then I would put one tall storage space on the side to keep guitar cases and hockey sticks. This would free up space in the front closet. (Have I mentioned that I would also change the front closet?)

5. And finally, raising the middle shelf/hanging bar would give us room to keep shoes and other boxes of things on the floor and actually be able to see them.

So there you have it. Much dreamier, right? Hopefully in the next couple of months, I’ll be able to at least modify what we have to be closer to what I would like. Honestly, even just changing the doors would make such a difference. (HAVE I MENTIONED HOW MUCH I HATE THE SLIDING DOORS?)

Alas, such is the life of a renter.

Anyone else battling renter woes? Have a project you would love to tackle, but just can’t? Or have any closet storage tips to pass along? Share in the comments!

Bite-Size Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning. Such an ambitious topic, isn’t it?

On one hand, I love the idea of one big, deep cleaning. I love the idea of getting into all those little nooks and crannies where normally you just stuff the junk and never look back and finally straightening the out for once. I love the idea of everything being sparklingly, perfectly clean. (Even if it’s only for a week or two.) And with a full-time work schedule (along with a bunch of other time commitments throughout the week), it’s nice to know that I can have one giant junk purge to get me back on track even if I can’t keep up with the clutter every single day.

But on the other hand, spring cleaning is a commitment. And if you don’t actually get everything sparklingly, perfectly clean…well…I feel like I’ve failed somehow.

That’s why this year, I’ve decided to break up the chore a bit. Every weekend (despite all the weekends this month and next being a bit, shall we say, insane), I’m going to tackle at least one hidden corner of mess and at least one DIY project that I’ve been putting off.

We’ll call it the month of “Will You Just Do That Already?” Or, the month of “No Excuses.” Or the month of “It’s Really More Important That You Just Do Whatever it is You’re Promising to Do Rather Than Come Up With a Cutesy Name For It.”

Kinda rolls of the tongue, right?

Last weekend, I actually did quite a bit of cleaning in the living room/dining room/kitchen because I had company over on Friday night and our tax guy came over Sunday morning. (How old do saying the words “our tax guy” make one feel? Really, really old. That’s how.) And as you know, I like to maintain the illusion that we live in a perfectly organized life when guests are over.

This weekend, I have three goals:

1. Organize the hall clothes closet. The hubs has this maelstrom of shoes going on in the lower left-hand corner, and the shelves are all kinds of wonky. (Technical term.) So this weekend, that ends.

2. Sew the new bedroom pillows. The fabric came in over the weekend, and it’s super pretty in person. I can’t wait to get it put together to adorn the bed. (Who knows? I might even invest in the new comforter too.)

3. Finally go to Goodwill. I feel like I’ve been saying I’m going to do this for a million years, but I really, really mean it this time. Sunday. I’m there. And I’m on the hunt.

Oh, and I also will hopefully get started on the shadow boxes. I organized a few of the knick knacks I want to include last Sunday, so now I just need to wait for the photos I had printed to arrive, buy some matting, and get the dang thing started.

What about you guys? Do you do your spring cleaning in one big sweep or break it up into smaller tasks? Speaking of which, what little chores do you find yourself putting off for weeks?

What a waste.

I have a sort of shameful confession: Sometimes I forget to use the Groupons, Amazon Local deals, and Living Social deals I buy.

Don’t LOOK at me!!!

Okay. I know this isn’t the most shameful thing I could have confessed. There are loads of people who do this. You get excited when you see a deal for a massage and chiropractic evaluation (for only $40!!!) because, I mean, haven’t you been having weird back issues ever since you tried to convince your then-fiance you were stronger than him by picking him up, except you lifted with your back instead of your knees and tweaked something in your spine and things sort of got better over time but were never really the same and sometimes just getting up from the supine position is a lot harder and more painful than simply getting up from lying down ever should be when you’re not even 25 yet?

Or maybe that’s just me.

But anyway, the point is, you get all jazzed about a good deal, snap it up, and promptly forget about it for the next six months. And then, six months later, when you’re watching the deadline toward expiration slowly tick down, the money that you invested so long ago just suddenly stops feeling as important. I mean, you haven’t had the money for six months. What do you care if you got something for it or just donated it to the internet?

Well, I say this stops today. Because I do care, folks. I don’t think I will ever be so rich that I won’t care about just throwing money away.

Which is why today I made a few appointments. And I am going to be looking goooood come April. (Though I still need to figure out how to use that chiropractic evaluation since the office is in the city and I’m hardly ever there anymore. D’oh.)

Does anyone else ever find themselves as spontaneous internet philanthropists? (Sounds a lot fancier than “chumps who throw their money at impulse spa treatments and then never collect.”) Have any strategies for making sure you don’t forget to use your Groupons? Share in the comments!