The World is Ending

Well, probably not, but at least that’s how it looks outside right now. The forecast is calling for thunderstorms all day and then temps in the mid-70s over the weekend. On my commute Monday morning I couldn’t crank the heat high enough to fully thaw out (I know you people enduring tundra-like negative degree weather are scoffing right now, but temps in the teens are pretty much tundra-like for Austinites) and then last night on my way home the air conditioning was on. Texas, I will never understand you.

My first week back to work after the glorious 16-day hiatus was definitely a clusterfuck and I am pretty psyched it’s only a few short hours from being over. My email is caught up and I can somewhat see my desk again, so I guess progress has been made. But it sure doesn’t feel that way. I spend the weeks leading up to and following a vacation freaking out because of what could/did happen while out of the office. But that vacation was totally worth it.

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So now the weekend is almost here and my to-do list is overflowing because the end of the month is already booked for Houston & the “I’m no longer in my 20s” Pity Party. It’s time to focus on whipping the office into shape, which is one of the things on my 30 Things (creative, no?) list. And speaking of that list, I should probably finish making it. 30 Things currently consists of 15 things, so I’ll need to come up with a quite a few more this weekend. Finding items that are a good balance of “easily attainable” and “ridiculously impossible” is interesting to say the least.

One thing I can put a big satisfying check mark next to is fixing all of the broken links here on STAMT. Well if that wasn’t a monster project. One of my resolutions in 2014 should be to not include 1200 links in every post. There were even some that still linked back to posts with the We Run for Wine address! 2012 was the most time consuming to fix because I found the need to participate in these little challenges where I’d post every.single.day of the month, whether I had legitimate content or not. You know what that results in? Garbage posts. Garbage posts full of broken links. Oy vey. LESSON LEARNED.

Anyway, back to that whole office task. Who out there reads an affordable interior design blog that wants to share the link with me? I’ve been researching a lot of the ideas I have on Pinterest and then I inevitably get sucked into the black hole that is Etsy. And before I know it I’ve lost three hours and my cart is filled with $200 worth of crap I don’t need – and $100 worth of shipping fees. So basically I need some blogs to stalk for ideas and then I’ll head to Hobby Lobby to buy the stuff for 75% cheaper.

I sent Brad to Target yesterday to buy new sheets for the bed in the office and as it turns out, even men can’t escape that store with only what they intended to buy. So now we have this fancypants new drawer organizer (for the shiny new silverware):

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Kitchen-related things are my FAVORITE. Seriously, if you buy me a spatula we’ll probably be best friends forever. Except don’t really buy me a spatula because I already have three. Anyway, this drawer organizer was completely unnecessary but apparently he hated our old one so much that he wanted it replaced ASAP. Oddly enough, I had looked at them when buying the silverware last weekend but was like, “nahhhh, we don’t really need a new one.” Guess I was wrong.

And he also came home with a new – well, is it still considered new if we didn’t have one to begin with? – doormat:

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Maybe we’ll be able to explain to Sox how to use this so she doesn’t tattoo her muddy pawprints all over our carpet and couches. Not holding my breath on that one.

Speaking of the little devil, WHY IS SHE HUGE? Here’s your daily puppy photo, whether you like it or not:

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Now, fork over the links to your favorite interior design blogs.

Fun While It Lasted

Well it’s a sad day, friends. Not only is it Monday, but also my long vacation from work has officially come to an end. I’m lucky enough to work for a company that operates on a “non-accrual” PTO policy, which basically means you can take off however many days you want. These days are subject to manager approval but as long as your work is done and your requests aren’t excessive, the number of PTO days you take in any given year is up to you. I’ve read that companies expect employees to take 3-4 weeks off per year under this policy, but in 2013 my days totaled just over 2 weeks. Definitely not going to be the person who abuses that policy.

Anyway, since I don’t take many days off during the year I was able to use 6 PTO days to create a 16 day holiday vacation for myself. Initially we were planning on going back to work on the 2nd, but the idea of going back for only Thursday + Friday seemed silly (and painful) so we took the additional two days. You know how after a vacation you find yourself wishing you had a vacation from your vacation before going back to work? That’s pretty much what that was. The road trip and all of the traveling wreaked havoc on our sleep schedules – which is why I slept through NYE – so it was nice to have a few extra days to reset before going back to the grind.

You probably hate me now. Sorry about that.

While the days off were certainly relaxing, they were also very productive. On Thursday we did all of our laundry from the trip. Brad took the dogs to the park and I went shopping for baking sheets. I came home with new baking sheets, cake pans, a muffin tin, a loaf pan, and new silverware. Still not sure how I ended up with all of that stuff. Whoops. Our previous bakeware and silverware sets were ~8 years old, so they could be somewhat justified. But probably not. But oooh, look how pretty the new silverware is:

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Thursday night we went to see the Wolf of Wall Street. I read the book awhile back (‘09 or ‘10) and was really excited to see it was being made into a movie. The reviews were so-so and some people seemed to be genuinely horrified by it. Let’s be serious here: it’s a movie about Wall Street. Obviously there’s going to be sex, drugs, excessive spending, and a hell of a lot of cursing. Maybe I was prepared because I read the book. Maybe I was prepared because I expected it out of a movie directed by Scorsese exposing the lavish lifestyle of stock brokers. Either way, just know this: if you’re a modest (or even somewhat-modest person), this movie might make you ridiculously uncomfortable. After all, the movie set the all-time record for the use of the F-word.

On Friday the Christmas decorations came down. This is kind of a big deal considering we usually we keep them up until my birthday on the 21st. But the weekend before my birthday is the Houston Marathon and the weekend after I have friends in town to help me mourn the loss of my 20s. I really didn’t want to wait until February 1st to take them down so it happened this weekend. And I’m not really upset about it. The house looks so clean now.

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Saturday I did some work on the office. Someday this room will be done. I emptied a huge filing cabinet that basically held every important (and some “WTF did I save this for?”) document from 2002-2009. You know, just in case I’m curious how much I paid for electric in October 2004 ($89.52) or what my rent was in 2008 (more than our current mortgage payment). I filled up a laundry basket with paperwork that needed to be shredded and that thing was HEAVY. Then I went through the manila folder labeled “To Be Filed” that has been sitting on the desk since 2010 and created hanging folders for each category, filing each paper away into its new home. There’s still a little more work to do (pictures need to be hung, desk needs to be cleaned off, etc.) but it’s getting there. Paula, here’s your progress photo:

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Sunday morning Brad went out and bought a shredder. We spent over 5 hours shredding our own crap, plus a giant box of his mom’s paperwork. Six garbage bags later, anything with personal information on it had been converted into confetti. Then I deep-cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom. Our counter space in the kitchen is pretty limited so I moved a few things into cabinets and a few things into our bookcase.

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All wine and booze now live amongst our many leather-bound books. And this corner of the house smells like rich mahogany. I’m slightly upset about how empty that wine rack is. Don’t worry friend, I’ll fill you up soon.

After cleaning the bathroom and organizing hair products + makeup, I decided it was time to bring my makeup brushes out of the drawer they’ve been living in. Now they’re out on the vanity for easy access (thank you, Pinterest):

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So now that the laundry is done, the Christmas decorations are gone, the kitchen is clean, and the office is somewhat organized, I feel a little bit better about going back to work. There’s something about a clean + organized house that calms me. Here’s hoping this first week back is quiet and uneventful!

Oh, and a puppy photo, because… why not?

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Over the Weekend…

… I became legitimately upset when I realized how big Sox is getting. In two months she has gained twenty pounds. Um hi, you can stop that now.

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… I donated a ton of clothes to Goodwill. In Florida I always had great luck with selling a few things to Plato’s Closet, but it seems since I stopped dressing in Hollister and A&F they’re no longer interested in my clothes. So I dropped two garbage bags off at our Goodwill store on Sunday morning.

… my Erin Condren planner came in the mail. I had been tracking its whereabouts on the USPS website incessantly and was stoked when it arrived slightly ahead of schedule. There’s a few issues I have with it but it’s only because I’m comparing it to last year’s edition. Here are my thoughts:

– The cover isn’t as sturdy. It’s still more durable than most planners on the market, but I noticed a difference right out of the box.

– The coil doesn’t appear to be made of the same material, causing the pages to catch slightly when you turn them. Maybe it just needs to be broken in. I honestly can’t remember if this was something I noticed last year, but want to say no.

– The color on the cover doesn’t extend all the way to the coil. When I designed the cover, I requested a black background. Well, the black stops just before the coil and you can see the first page of the planner through the cover. Nitpicking? Probably.

95% of the planner is exactly the same and the issues I have are purely cosmetic – not a huge deal. The pages inside are nearly identical to last year’s edition, with the addition of a section on the bottom of the weekly pages for meal planning or workout scheduling. I actually really like that feature because in the past I’d use the ‘night’ section to meal plan or jot down notes about a blog post.

Erin Condren Planner

… I put booze in my cupcakes. Yep, you read that correctly. Jenna posted a recipe for Chocolate Cake with Pinot Noir Frosting on Friday and she had me at Pinot Noir. I couldn’t frost a cake properly if you paid me a million bucks so I opted to go the cupcake route instead. And the “drink-wine-with-cupcakes” route.

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… this Caramelized Onion, Gruyere, and Pepper Bacon Pizza also came out of my kitchen. Note: this recipe is not for the starving and impatient. I begged the onions to caramelize faster pretty much the entire time, but you and I both know that didn’t happen. Worth the wait though! I also added chopped sun-dried tomatoes and crushed red pepper flakes. One of these days I’ll make a recipe the way it was intended. Wait. No I won’t.

… I made Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Cream Cheese. We’re pretty much obsessed with the Einstein Bros version so when I realized I had a ton of sun-dried tomatoes in the fridge (hence the addition in the aforementioned pizza) it only made sense to whip up a batch from scratch. It’s even BETTER than Einstein Bros. So good.

… we finished the first season of Chicago Fire. We hardly watch any shows during the summer (with the exception of Burn Notice, which is in its last season anyway) so we took advantage of a free month of HuluPlus by getting caught up on CF.

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We watched the final 3 episodes of the season (including the finale) in May and had NO FREAKING CLUE what was going on. So now we’re all caught up and ready for the next season to start in September. Also: Taylor Kinney, who plays Kelly Severide, is dating Lady Gaga. AND was in her music video for “You & I”.  Mind = Blown.

… the dogs enjoyed two full mornings at the park.

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And then two full afternoons of napping (and sometimes in my lap)

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Swimming and chasing other dogs is strenuous stuff. I can’t imagine how difficult their lives must be. Poor things.

Finish this sentence: Over the weekend ________________________.

Time to plan!

Yesterday I left work for my lunch break on a mission to purchase a new planner. I headed to this wonderful store:

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The Paper Place is extremely dangerous! There were two tables full of planners and journals, walls full of pens and cardstock, and spinning racks of stationery. I had spent 35 minutes in the store and I didn’t even realize it!

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pads

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After wandering around for a bit, I realized I should probably start looking for what I actually came for.

Initially, I had my heart set on Exaclair’s Exacompta Space 24 since Sarah from The SHU Box raved about it. I appreciated the limited amount of room for actual appointments (because I’m not really that important) while also having ample room for notes/lists/reminders. I usually find myself doing rough drafts of budgets and sketching grocery lists in my planner, so the more room the better. It was perfect – except when I started thinking about carrying it around. I rotate through my purse inventory fairly often, probably about every 3 weeks. While it would fit in my current bag with ease, my smaller bags just wouldn’t have room. This was a deal breaker.

Just as I was about to admit defeat and head back to work, I noticed a smaller planner on the very bottom row. The Textagenda. I believe it’s marketed towards students since the calendar runs from July to August, but this was fine by me. It meant I was able to start using it right away!

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I’m not too wild about the color, but it was my only option. Sure, I could have waited and ordered it online with a color I liked more but I’m not all about delayed satisfaction. I’m more of a Veruca Salt “I want it NOW” kind of gal. So red it is 🙂

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Even smaller appointment area, more space for notes/lists, and “priority” boxes to fill with the day’s most important items. Even better, it was nearly $10 cheaper than the Space 24! Sold!

I haven’t started writing in it yet, I’m saving it for tomorrow evening when I will start planning out my week. Today is reserved for organization of the bedroom, which is going really well actually. Back to work I go, hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

Get it together!

Lately, I’m feeling unorganized. In my life, lack of organization equals stress, which ultimately equals crankiness. I am not a fan of being cranky, nor are the people around me. I mentioned last weekend actually two things I needed to work on: sleep quality and organization.

I’ve pretty much nailed down what time I need to be in bed every night in order to have a good nights sleep. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t 9 or 9:30. I need to be in bed no later than 10:30, and the TV off & lights out by 11. Waking up at 5:30 gives me about 6.5 hours of sleep. Weird, right? I’m always reading how it’s recommended you have 8 hours of sleep every night in order to reduce stress and increase productivity. Different strokes for different folks.

This weekend I am planning on tackling my organization approach. I don’t feel organized unless the coffee table/dining room table is clean, the laundry is done, and there aren’t any (dirty) dishes in the sink or (clean)dishwasher. Here is my downfall: when I clean off the dining room & coffee tables, I put everything in the bedroom. Uh, how does that make any sense? I’m just relocating clutter. And to the worst possible place, in a room where I need to relax and sleep!

After work tomorrow night, I’m dragging all of my stacks of papers and the rest of the random items out of the bedroom and into the living room. I will file papers/bills, I will throw away things I don’t need, and everything will be put in its place. I need to stop looking at it and stop thinking about it and just DO it!

Between work (I leave the house at 6:20am and return home at 6:15pm), blogging, NaNoWriMo, training for half marathons, and spending quality time with my boyfriend, I’m noticing some things just don’t get done. The only thing which is consistent is work, and that is because it is something I MUST do. However, everything I listed are things I MUST do.

I am going to start scheduling tasks, and treat them the way I treat work. For example, I will schedule 1-2 hours a day to knock out my 2,000 words for NaNoWriMo. If it’s written down, it must be accomplished.

Tomorrow, I am going on a hunt for a good planner on my lunch break. I got a few good ideas from Sarah, so I know what I am looking for. After watching this video from the Healthy Living Summit, I am incredibly motivated to get the ball rolling!