Renovation in the Time of Corona Part One: The Kitchen

Well, this year has just flown by in the worst possible way.

This year was supposed to be the year I got married (spoiler alert, I did get married. Just not the way I planned to) and the year hubs and I traveled to Europe. But instead, a plague descended upon the earth and we were forced to renovate our kitchen.

Forced is a strong word, I suppose. But we were driven by boredom and a surplus of time on our hands so things started to happen. And we immediately regretted it. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t easy. Yeah, Home Depot had delivery and store pick up, but like everyone and their brother had the same idea at the same time. So really, it wasn’t that much easier. But we got paint and tile and some appliances that we’d planned on (and some we didn’t) and we set out to renovate (actually more like refresh) our outdated kitchen.

So the before.

Before I moved into the 1938 colonial, Hubs had pretty much done all the hard stuff. He had the floors refinished (they are gorgeous original oak floors), painted, added beautiful millwork, and put in new granite countertops in the kitchen. But that is all he did in the kitchen. He left the cabinets in place and called it a day. The cabinets were stock oak from the 90s with outdated hardware and just bland as all hell. The floors were this nasty linoleum and in desperate need of a refresh.

This is the only picture I could find of the cabinets pre-paint. Hubs was making me breakfast before we were engaged.

So the first thing I did to freshen the kitchen was paint the cabinets white and replace all the pulls with these nice modern ones from Ikea. To save some money and headache, I reused the hinges but I used this amazing stuff called Rub ‘N Buff to turn them from a gross old brassy color to pewter so they’d match the pulls. Rub ‘N Buff is amazing and comes in many different colors so you can get the look you want. And a little bit goes a long way.

Hubs had this dream of having black or slate stone in the kitchen. We originally decided to try some slate hexagon tiles for the floor and I picked this beautiful patterned tile for the new backsplash. I ordered a sample of the floor tile from Wayfair and we quickly realized that dark flooring would make the small kitchen even smaller. So no go.

We also discovered the gorgeous tile I had picked out for the backsplash clashed with the brown/black granite. Hey, it was my first time designing a kitchen. People make mistakes.

But, the tile was so beautiful and I couldn’t part with it so it became the new floor! It worked out pretty well actually. Although it was an absolute bitch to install, but I’ll get to that later.

We still needed a new backsplash so I picked out long white subway tile. I liked that it was not the subway tile you see everywhere. It’s about twice as long as classic subway tile and it made such a difference. The length also makes our kitchen look longer too. Science, man.

Once we had the materials (well, most of them), we started some demo. The tiles we had to remove for the new backsplash were a pain in the butt. Once we got them all out, Hubs realized he needed to replace the drywall above the counter. It’s always something with renovation, amirite? So while he did that, I started to patch and repair the wall and get the painting started. That part went mostly to plan.

One piece of demo we had to do was to remove the weird microwave shelf that the previous owners had installed instead of actually doing a proper over-the-range microwave. This meant that Hubs had to relocate the outlet to the cabinet above. I am almost never chill when Hubs is doing anything with the electrical and it was real stressful. But he did great and it worked perfect. The Whirlpool microwave fit perfectly (eventually) and has a fan and a light and I was a lot more excited about an appliance than I should’ve been.

After the drywall went up, the backsplash went in fairly seamlessly, and we finished painting. It was time to move the fridge and demo the floor. In a weird twist of fate, as we went to move the fridge, I noticed there was a puddle of water on the floor in front of it. I opened the freezer and everything was melting. We checked the coils in the back and moved the fridge into the dining room to see if that would do it. No luck. It’s almost as if the 25+ year old fridge knew we were planning to move it, so he just died right there. So we begrudgingly headed to ABC Warehouse (the only place that was open at that point in lockdown) and picked out a new refrigerator. Once again I got too excited for an appliance but we got this awesome LG French door refrigerator with the freezer drawer and water and ice dispenser in the door. It’s pretty bitchin’.

Side note, the day after we purchased that beautiful fridge, Hubs lost his job. The universe giveth and the universe taketh away.

We started demoing the floor and if anyone ever tells you linoleum is a good idea, that person is an asshole. We had to take out two layers of very stuck, very old linoleum. We did uncover the original 1938 flooring which was uh hundred percent asbestos. So we didn’t fuck with that. But we laid cement board down (which smells disgusting) and then waited patiently for the rest of the beautiful floor tile to come in. We originally ordered enough tile just for the backsplash, so we were about 8 boxes short. Home Depot notified me that the order was ready for pickup but when we went to pick them up, they only had half the order. So at that point, we only had 11 of the 15 boxes we needed but Hubs was bored, jobless, and impatient. So he decided to start, even without enough tile. 

It was the worst. Not my Hubs, he’s great. But the tile. For some reason, it just wasn’t sticking. Hubs would lay a bunch and we’d let the cement dry and the next day, a random tile would pop up. We couldn’t figure out why. We still really don’t know what the hell was up. It took forever. It was a nightmare. But finally, it was all done. And it looked beautiful.

The last touches were adding some original artwork that we used in our wedding invites and some floating shelves from Wayfair. I also bought a new white utensil canister from amazon that arrived broken, so I bought the same one on Wayfair even though it was backordered. Look people, the point is nothing – and I mean nothing – goes right during renovation. So do yourself a favor and just bake that into the timeline.

All that work and here’s the finished product!

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Pantry Organization: The great purge of 2019

What I wouldn’t give to have one of those beautiful walk-in, shelf-lined, has it’s own mother fucking wine fridge and maybe even a cute chalkboard wall pantries, but I don’t. I barely have enough cabinets for all the equipment I don’t know how to use to cook.

The last time I had anything like a pantry was the weird closet at my parents house that was between the fridge and the shelf we kept the phone on. Like, the landline phone. Because I’m a 90s kid.

Since moving out on my own and now into a house with HTB, I’ve had to keep food in cabinet space like a goddamn peasant. The dedicated cabinets for our food in our home now is the lower cabinets right next to our stove.

The nice thing about these cabinets is that they do have some pullout drawers, so you can see everything in the cabinet. The downside is that because they are lower cabinets, in our haste and laziness to put our groceries away, we usually just end up tossing things in all willy-nilly.

And that’s how you end up with a disaster like the one pictured above.

So I ventured to my local TJ Maxx and scoped out some storage solutions. I knew that I needed to purge some things in the “pantry” anyway: expired items, things we literally will never eat, weird jams that came in a gift basket that HTB got from some coworker… But most importantly, I knew that I wanted to contain all the items in bins of some kind to keep them organized and force us to not just chuck food in there when we were putting groceries away.

Important

Measure your fucking shit. I found these super cute wooden crates that I fell in love with that were like $6 each and bought two of them because I wanted them to be in my HGTV worthy pantry. Of course they were too wide. OF COURSE. Rather than returning them, I kept them for other organization projects (ones that I haven’t even thought of yet, so naturally they’re just sitting and taking up space).

So I measure (like I should have in the first place) and head back to the Maxx and pick up these less cute, but more practical (and the correct size) plastic bins. Some similar ones can be found on Amazon.

I pulled everything out of the cabinets, chucked outdated/expired products. Put all the fancy jams and anything else that we’ll never eat in a small box to donate. Then I wiped down the inside of the cabinet with some Clorox wipes, cleaned all the packages with a wet cloth and started organizing the foods into categories. I like to bake, so one bin is basically all baking. We also have a pasta bin.

The most important thing to me when organizing was to make things that we use frequently easy to grab. So I put cooking oils, rice, pasta, nuts (ha), and bread crubs right down front. That way, I don’t have to paw through three bins to find what I need. The stuff in the back is less frequently used like flour, sugar, more breadcrumbs (I was assured we needed both Panko and Italian), pancake mix, and vinegar.

Overall, I think purging the pantry helped cut down on buying more of things we already have. We know what and how much of stuff we have and don’t buy what we don’t need. Like more fucking breadcrumbs. It has also inspired me to organize more cabinets (which I’ll probably document and post about later. joy!) and take time to actually put groceries away organized, which saves me time in the long run.

Hey three people who read this blog – do any of you have pantry tips I can steal?

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The Best Garlic Bread Ever

I fucking love bread. Who doesn’t? And I’d eat garlic bread as a meal all by itself if I could. But I’m an “adult” and I can’t. And while garlic bread isn’t expensive necessarily, I do love buying in bulk and freezing.

So enter Costco, my favorite place to spend 2 hours on a Sunday. They have a pack of two fresh baguettes for like $4.99. I usually grab two, because they freeze really well.

Like seriously, you just cut these baguettes in half and wrap them in tin foil and toss them in the freezer. When you’re ready, you can take them out and defrost them in the microwave in like 30 seconds. It’s amazing. And you get basically two loaves out of one baguette, which is a lot of damn bread. I love it.

Garlic bread is seriously the easiest side to add to any meal. Spaghetti, sure. But also like any pasta, steak, chicken, pork, you name it. It’s just the best. AND you know exactly what’s in it so you can make it healthier if you want (like use less butter or salt, or a different kind if you prefer).

Make this bread immediately

So go get you somma dat Costco bread – or any French baguette works – and get started.

Cut the bread in half and freeze one for later if you want. If you’re entertaining or cooking for a large group (or you’ve had one of those fucking days and you need it all for yourself, no judgement), feel free to do the whole baguette. You’ll just double down on the spread for the whole thing.

Then cut it hotdog style. That may be a Midwest thing to say, so I apologize if you don’t get that. It basically means length wise or whatever-the-fuck it is. Cut the half in half. Shit.

Once you got the bread prepped, it’s time to get the spread ready. Oh and you may want to preheat that oven to 400°.  For the spread, you’ll want to use 1 stick of softened butter to start. You don’t necessarily leave it out on the counter to soften, I usually put it in the microwave for 10 seconds or so and call it good. Just make sure it’s not melted. You want spreadable butter. Adding some olive oil to the butter will make it spread more easily.

Now you’ll add the good stuff.

All these ingredients are added to your taste. I have some arbitrary measurements in the recipe, but adjust them to fit your needs/likes. I use kosher sea salt because it’s what I have on hand and I also use minced garlic and dried parsley because it’s easy. If you want to fucking mince your own garlic and add fresh chopped parsley, knock your fucking socks off, man. Does my way still taste great? Fuck yes it does.

Add that shit to your softened butter spread and mix it thoroughly.

Now it’s time to spread that on yo bread. I slather the shit out of that bread because that’s how I like it. You do you, though. Just make sure to evenly cover the tops of both sides. You don’t want anyone grabbing an unbuttered piece and then thinking you’re a cheap ass who just warmed up plain bread.

Once you got that bread buttered, you pop that shit in the oven for 10 minutes at 400°. I use a foil-lined baking sheet because as the butter melts, it likes to leak out a bit. Then it kinda pools around the bottom of the bread and gets crispy and delicious and my mouth is watering just thinking about it right now.

Once that bread is done, take it out and slice it up. Serve it with literally any meal you want. It’s great. People will compliment the shit out of you and your homemade garlic bread. They will think you’re some kind of Martha Stewart wannabe and they’ll ask when your Food Network show debuts. Trust me.

Seriously, when I was taking these pictures I couldn’t even fucking wait two minutes to take the goddamn picture to eat two pieces. Seriously, I have a bread problem and that problem is that this garlic bread is so fucking good it’s ridiculous.

Steal this:

Best Garlic Bread Ever

Better than store-bought garlic bread and cheaper. And also super easy.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • Parsley to taste
  • 1 loaf French Baguette
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

Prepare the bread

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cut the baguette sandwich style (down the middle, making a top and bottom half).
  • You can use an entire loaf or freeze half the baguette for later.

Prepare the spread

  • Soften 1 stick of unsalted butter, either on the counter or in the microwave. Do not melt the butter.
  • In a small bowl, add the olive oil to help make the butter spreadable.
  • Add in the minced garlic, salt, and parsley. All the amounts can be adjusted to your taste.
  • Stir until mixed thoroughly.
  • Place bread halves on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Evenly spread butter mixture over baguette halves, making sure to cover the bread as much as possible.
  • Place the bread spread side up in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the bread is golden and crunchy.
Keyword garlic bread
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Fucking Dynamite Chicken Teriyaki Kabobs

I have never called myself an excellent cook. As a single lady, that Kraft blue box and I were tight as fuck. When I started dating HTB, he would occasionally cook for me and shit, that’s when I realized I needed to get my life together.

HTB had recipes, y’all. He had a box in his kitchen where he had actual plans to cook real food. I knew I had to step up my game and learn how to adult or HTB was going to find some other sucker to make pot roast for.

One night, we were trying to think of what to make for dinner and I checked the pantry/fridge. We had two chicken breasts, half a pineapple, a green pepper, a red pepper, and a bag of white onions. Seemed perfect for some kind of Hawaiian kabob thing, right?

I’m like “Babe, I’m gonna make some kabobs to do on the grill and they will be fucking amazing.”

I found a quick and dirty teriyaki sauce recipe online, but we didn’t have all the ingredients so I leaned on my improv and just made shit up hoping it would be good. Turns out it wasn’t bad. I also called my dad, because that’s what I do. He suggested marinading the chicken in the sauce for 30 minutes while getting everything else ready and soaking the bamboo skewers (that I thought were chopsticks in HTB’s cabinet) in water so they wouldn’t burn too much on the grill.

I made some white rice, HTB threw the shrimp on the barbie (or chicken kabobs on the grill, whatever) and Bob’s your uncle, we fucking nailed it.

I’ve since made some upgrades to this recipe. For one, I bought some bitchin’ metal skewers on Amazon that are way better than the chopsticks HTB had. I also added Polish Keilbasa to the mix and damn, good call me. It’s so damn quick and easy to make this dinner, we probably make it once a week in the summer.

Make some bomb-ass kabobs tonight:

Fucking Dynamite Chicken Teriyaki Kabobs

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Grill

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs Boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 package Polish kielbasa
  • 2 Medium green peppers
  • 2 Medium red peppers
  • 1 White onion
  • ½ Pineapple, cubed
  • ¼ cup Low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Water

Instructions
 

  • For the marinade, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, cornstarch, and water together and mix well. Cut the chicken breast into 1-inch cubes and place in a ziplock bag. Add in the marinade mixture and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • While the chicken is marinating, soak your skewers in a dish with water so they don’t burn on the grill. I use an 8x8 pan and fill it with a half-inch or so of water.
  • Prep the peppers by cutting them into about 1-inch square pieces. I quarter the onion and pull apart the layers. Cut the pineapple into chunks and slice the kielbasa evenly.
  • Assemble the kabobs: Thread the marinated chicken, peppers, onion, pineapple and kielbasa onto the soaked skewers.
  • Note: you can reserve some of the marinade before adding the chicken to brush onto the kabobs before putting them on the grill. I think they are pretty good without it, but you do you.
  • Grill the kabobs over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, the kielbasa is warmed and the veggies are softened.
  • Serve over rice
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Cold Brew Coffee

I am addicted to coffee and have been for several years now. I forced myself into this addiction. I hated coffee until I got my first real job and people would have “coffee meetings” where important shit would go down and I had to learn how to order coffee in a way that didn’t taste like coffee to me. Which was in the form of lattes. Which are fucking expensive.

Eventually, I transitioned to fancy coffee with fancy creamers when I started a job at a startup company. It was free and available in the office all fucking day. When I moved to another position at a difference startup, we were next door to a Starbucks and I became a Gold Member within like, 2 months. Not super financially sound, but fucking delish and at the point, a daily necessity.

Then when I made the bold decision to start a low-paid apprenticeship, which you can read all about here, I could no longer afford to buy fancy coffee and like a goddamn peasant, had to start making it at home.

I’ve never been a fan of hot coffee and though I discovered you could get Starbucks cold brew coffee at the grocery store, it was still too expensive for me so I started making my own cold brew at home and I never looked back. My splurge is on Silk Almond Milk Vanilla Creamer (which is the best shit ever) and sometimes fancy ground coffee but really, I can’t tell between a $3 Trader Joe’s bag of coffee and a $20 bag somewhere else. But hey, that’s just me.

I found a bomb-ass recipe for it that is super easy and delish.

So you’ll need a pitcher, your favorite coffee, and water. Easy as fuck. If you can ground the coffee yourself because you go to a fancy-ass grocery store, try to ground it as coarsely as possible. This helps brew stronger coffee if that’s what you’re in to.

Measure out 1 cup of ground coffee to add to the pitcher. This is some ratio-type shit so feel free to adjust as you like it. For me, I double-double down the ratio – meaning, for 1 cup of coffee, I add 8 cups of water. Mostly because I usually forget about the coffee on the counter for 12 hours or more. If you like your coffee super strong, use less water or more coffee or whatever. Mix it up to work for you.

Now the easy part: just cover it and leave it on the counter.

Seriously, you can basically forget it. I usually make it before bed and leave in on the counter overnight. Eight hours is good to shoot for but honestly, I don’t even start work until 10am usually, so you can leave it up to 12 hours. It’s fine (probably).

Once its steeped for long enough, you filter it out, just like normal fucking coffee. I have these mesh strainers that are amazing that I got on Amazon. They work super well. I place a coffee filter in the mesh strainer and filter that way. Yeah, I know that that seems tedious, but seriously having coffee grounds in your coffee is the worst, so I don’t fuck around.

It takes some time, but it’s worth it. The coffee will last for a week (or more, but I drink it fast) and tastes delicious. I use a cutesy glass mason jar dispenser like this one, but feel free to use whatever kind of pitcher you have.

And that’s it. Enjoy, my fellow caffeine addicts.

Cold Brew Coffee

Super easy and delicious cold brew coffee recipe.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Course Breakfast, Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 12 cups

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Ground Coffee Coarse ground (if possible)
  • 8 cups water

Instructions
 

  • In a large pitcher, add 8 cups of cold water to 1 cup ground coffee - the more coarsely ground, the better.
  • Cover the pitcher with a lid and let sit on the counter at room temperature for 8 hours. You can leave it up to 12 hours for stronger brewed coffee.
  • Place a coffee filter in a mesh strainer and strain the brewed coffee into a larger pitcher or container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
  • Makes approximately 2 quarts
Keyword coffee, cold brew, easy, quick

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Relearning: How I quit my stable job to take an apprenticeship

Sit back, relax, and let me tell you a story about how I quit my lucrative and high paying career as a Creative Director to start an apprenticeship as a Quality Assurance Engineer.

But first, a little history. I graduated from Michigan State University with not one, but two degrees in 2010. I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Advertising and a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media. I left school primed for a career in graphic design or media production at the precise time that the job market took a fucking dive.

Like a champ, I deferred my student loans and got a job stocking jeans at American Eagle and moonlighting as a Jimmy Johns delivery driver. Everything was fine since I still lived in a shithole college house that cost $300/month.

After 9 months and some 175 applications, I finally landed a job at the House of Representatives in Lansing, Michigan. I didn’t even care that it was for Republicans. And thus, I began my career as a multimedia production specialist.

Working for the government has some perks – federal holidays, prestige, lobbyist sponsored events with free food and booze. But it’s not without it’s faults – the idea that if your party loses, you’ll be out of a job, mandatory contributions and campaigning that they claim is voluntary but is totally not. Luckily, I worked with the most amazing people ever and even when the job was total shit, they made it worthwhile.

I worked my way up to Digital Media Manager and that’s when I got my first outside interview request. I had built this little teeny-tiny website for the House Republicans and apparently people started to notice the things I was doing. It felt fucking amazing. So when the opportunity came to take a job as a creative designer at a startup in Detroit, well I fucking took it.

Going from the public sector (where everyone could see my fucking salary online) to a private sector job was an eye-opening experience. For one, I didn’t have to wear a fucking suit to work every day. I could literally wear sweatpants and no one cared. Side note: I may have taken that part way too far – I’ve regressed actually. Please see an upcoming (at the time of this writing) post about how I had to sign up for Stitch Fix to get my style back to “respectable adult”. Outside the government and corporate hustle, startups have no rules. They make the fucking rules. And boy, was that something to adjust to.

But I happily adjusted to working from home and basically wearing a trashbag to work everyday. The startup was a software company that made a social CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform and they mainly worked with the three major automotive companies in Detroit. Everything was great until it started not being great. The other people on the creative team started leaving for other opportunities. Eventually it was just me. It was like I wasn’t seeing the writing on the wall or something. Then the day came when I got called into the CEO’s office and he very plainly told me that they couldn’t afford to keep one creative on the team and that it made more sense for them to outsource my job.

It took me a while to realize what the fuck was happening. He was super nice about it. Very apologetic and genuine. Of course I was fucking pissed, but more confused and not sure what to do. So I drank a bottle of wine on my couch in the apartment I had just moved into and contemplated the choices that led me to this point like any fucking millenial would.

Then my phone started blowing up and it was one of the guys in the office who had left for something else a few months before. He said he and another guy were starting their own marketing agency and they needed a creative director. He had heard about the layoff and wanted to poach me before I started looking for another job. Hells fucking yeah.

The new job came with a sizable pay increase. Not bragging, just explaining the universe provides sometimes, bro. And that was that. I was a big time Creative Director at a successful marketing agency.

While there, I help land some bitchin’ clients, did a lot of really good design work, churned out a couple million in revenue and got to live a comfortable lifestyle. This is also when I started working on me – I traveled, started getting in shape, started taking improv classes, you know just like living the damn dream. But while life was going well, work was getting more stressful.

See, even though we were building a great reputation and landing some seriously amazing clients and shit, the guys never hired anyone else. It was just me. I was working long days and nights and my bosses were setting the most unrealistic expectations – answering emails at 10pm on a fucking Saturday, setting deadlines without consulting me, and agreeing to more work per client than one person could manage. I started loathing going to work. I started resenting my bosses and my clients and even started putting out less-than-awesome work because I was getting bitter.

This was about the point where I started to wonder if I suddenly disliked design work. I would fantasize about a job where I was on the hook from 9 – 5 and no longer. Where I had no responsibilities outside of that window. Something boring as shit like data entry. I knew I was in trouble when data entry or being an administrative assistant sounded so much more appealing that what I was fucking doing.

And that’s when my friend told me about an apprenticeship at the software company she worked at. It was an 8-week paid apprenticeship where I’d learn software quality assurance and then likely get a job onsite at a company (think one of the major auto companies in Detroit that I can’t name that we will just refer to as … Auto Company). Sounded too good to be true, right? Right. Well they were only going to take 8 people for the apprenticeship… out of 375 applications.

So I weighed my options. I thought about what this meant – a full on career change after 7 years as a graphic designer with no experience in software development and no idea what I actually wanted to do anymore. Scary shit.

But I applied. Like 2 minutes before the deadline. And somehow, got an interview. Then another interview. And then an offer. I was excited and nervous and unsure because it was a significant paycut but I was like, I’m going to do this. I want to see what will happen.

Here’s the fuck what happened:

I started the apprenticeship. Auto Company was supposed to hire all 8 of us. They hired 2. The other 6 of us weren’t sure what the fuck to do (we technically still worked for the company that administered the apprenticeship and every single one of us had left a admittedly better job to do this apprenticeship so all our fucking eggs in one basket). Through some miracle, the software company extended me an interview to work directly for them instead of for Auto Company (but only me, not any of the other 5 apprentices). I got hired in at an entry level position for which I was not adequately prepared and making $40k less per year than at my previous job. And the other 5 apprentices were let go. That was two years ago.

Though I’ve been doing QA now for 2 years and I feel more confident in my abilities to actually do it, I’ve realized I hate it. I still love design. I never didn’t love design, I just didn’t love the agency I worked for. But I took a chance and I don’t regret that. Even though I’m still making less than half the salary of what I once was. I know it’s not all about the money. But money is so much easier to not think about when you have it. And I left a great paying job when I had money and I didn’t think about what I’d do when I didn’t have it. That’s the part I regret. Not the risk taking or anything. What I’m saying people is FUCKING INVEST IN YOUR FUTURE AND SAVE MONEY NOW BECAUSE WHEN YOU DECIDE TO FUCK OFF FROM YOUR HIGH PAYING JOB, YOU NEED SOMETHING TO LIVE ON.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

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Spotify Fam

Several years ago I saw a promotion for Spotify Premium for $.99 for 3 months. It was just when Spotify was starting to get more popular and Grooveshark had just been shut down – RIP – so I was looking for an alternative. So I bit.

At the end of the promotion, it was going to go up to the normal $9.99/month subscription. I figured I’d cancel before then and probably just suck it up and listen to commercials.

Well fuck me if I didn’t get addicted. Well played, Spotify. I couldn’t live without it. I could curate all my own playlists and I could create playlists for my friends, for parties, for focusing on being productive, you name it. AND I could download my playlists so I didn’t use data when I was driving or not anywhere with Wi-Fi. Amazing.

So yeah, for a solid 3 or 4 years, I happily paid that $9.99 a month. Then I meet HTB.

HTB (my Hubs-To-Be) is a fan of music. He grew up in the 80s and early 90s so he loves some old school hair band rock and a dash of Wham every now and then. He also can get down with some Tupac and Run DMC. He was still using iTunes and ripping music off like Limewire or something (not verified). Enter me and my obsession with Spotify.

I tell HTB all about Spotify and how great it is and that I would happily upgrade my account to the family plan and let him check it out. Even though this was well before our engagement, I could tell he was Spotify premium material. He seemed neither excited nor opposed to it. His indifference did not affect me, I knew that Spotify would sway him in the right direction.

After about a month, I ask HTB how he’s liking it. He says it’s “ok”. I nearly broke it off right there.

me: “you know you can save whatever music you like, follow playlists, and make your own playlists, right”

HTB: “yeah, I know.”

me: “ok, so what’s the problem”

HTB: “it’s just ok. i don’t really use it that much.”

me: “FINE.”

HTB: “are you ok? your face is red”

So I went back to my regular single premium account. If HTB doesn’t want to have a life-changing music app, then that is his business.

A few months later, I was jammin’ to one of my “Made For You” playlists and HTB comes in hot complaining about his computer slowing down with iTunes and how long it takes to download music and how he wishes he could easily search for new music, blah blah blah. He mentions that he’s thinking about trying Apple Music. FULL STOP.

me: “that shit is the same fucking thing as Spotify and you can just join my account.”

HTB: “Oooo then let’s do that!”

me: “hi where was this 3 months ago dude”

HTB: shrug

MEN. Anyway, I upgraded AGAIN to the Spotify Family Plan for $14.99/month and added HTB and now, of-fucking-course, he loves it. He even added an account so we can have our Google Home connected to it’s own Spotify account. (We’re probably doing that ass-backwards, but it works for us. If you got suggestions to improve that, let me know.)

Please enjoy some of my summer 2019 jams on Spotify:

I will NOT apologize for the amount of Lizzo on this list.

How do you jam to your music?

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Shape Up or Ship Out

There’s no better way to get motivated to work out than trying on wedding dresses. I was at David’s Bridal to order a bridesmaid dress for a wedding I’m in this coming September and thought I might just *peep* some of the wedding dresses since I haven’t browsed in person yet.

On the one hand, it was super fun. On the other, I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Realistically looking ahead at getting back into shape gives me some hope. I am gonna try not to be too hard on myself but I think I have enough motivation to get going. But I’m a bitch on a budget. I mean, that’s the entire point of this blog. So a fancy personal trainer or gym membership just ain’t in the cards.

I’m fortunate to have Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance through my employer and about a year and a half ago, they sent me a letter about Blue365. Blue365 basically offers health and wellness deals for qualifying BCBS members. They have an eligibility check on their website if you’re unsure whether or not your plan includes Blue365. One of their “deals” is a program called Fitness Your Way.

For $25 a month* – paid to BCBS – I have access to any participating gyms in my area. Yeah, you read that correctly. I can have a membership to multiple gyms all at the same time, just for $25/month*. It’s awesome. One of the participating gyms is LA Fitness (that’s Spanish for “the fitness”). I had previously joined LA Fitness because they have a pool and a wide variety of fitness classes that I can attend.

So with wedding motivation and just generally wanting to feel better, have more energy, look better naked and so on, I’m working on breaking a sweat without breaking the bank. Wish me luck.

Got any tips for saving money on fitness?

*Looks like they upped the price to $29/month now. Still worth it though.
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30 Day Declutter Challenge

Ah, Spring. The time of year when I get all excited about opening up the windows and giving my house a deep clean. So maybe it’s 10 days early, technically. But this winter has been brutal and I’m ready for a refresh.

This year is different. I moved in with my fiancé last summer, so the spring cleaning portion didn’t happen. If you want to get technical, the spring cleaning I did last year was just packing.

I have never cohabitated before. Not in a romantic capacity at least. And now I’m very aware of how much crap I have. Hubs-To-Be (HTB) is very neat. Like, freakishly so. So when I moved it, it was all my crap just piled up everywhere. Now nearly a year later, I’m getting self-conscious about it and I know it bothers him even though he’d never explicitly say it.

Enter the Challenge

I found this challenge on Pinterest (because of course I did) and modified it slightly to fit my lifestyle. A simple decluttering task each day for 30 days. Should be easy, right?

I specifically didn’t assign a day for each task so I could tackle them when I could. HTB and I are heading off on vacation for the weekend, so I’m gonna save the digital ones for while I’m gone. I may tackle two small ones before we go too.

How do you spring clean? Is it over a few days or weeks or all in one go?

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Weighing options: The wallet edition

How inappropriate is it to have my first post on a blog about becoming debt-free and living a happy and minimal lifestyle be about buying a new wallet?

It’s probably pretty inappropriate. But I’m all about quality of life and if a new wallet is what sparks joy, then so be it.

Some background: I haven’t bought a new wallet for myself in 11 years. It’s trivial, but I’ve never found one I like nearly as much as my 2008 Fossil wallet. And to have a wallet last 11 years seems well worth the cost if you ask me.

My 2008 "What vintage are you?" Fossil wallet.

This wallet could probably last another 10 years. That’s how well it’s made. But that’s not to say it hasn’t seen better days.

Enter Amazon Prime Wardrobe.

I’ve been a Prime member since college (remember when it was only like $50/year?). And recently I’ve seen the ads for Prime Wardrobe that allows you to “try before you buy”. Brilliant.

After some deep diving into the program, it sounds almost too good to be true. But then again, I pay $119/year for Prime, so it’s about time I get mine if you know what I mean. And it applies to accessories too! So boom. I picked three Fossil wallets that I really liked (you must select at least three items and they must all be Prime Wardrobe eligible) and added them to my cart. Once they ship, which unfortunately not necessarily on the Amazon Prime 2-day shipping plan, you have 7 days to either keep the items or ship the ones you don’t want back.

In my pessimistic “this has to be too good to be true” mind, I assumed that you had to buy at least one of the items you order with Prime Wardrobe. But as far as I can tell, you can send all items back without penalty or fee. Which, wow. Game changer.

So last Monday, I ordered these babes:

I’ve always been a “small wallet” kinda gal. Meaning, I don’t like those longer wallets that never seem to fit in my purse. But I ordered a long one just to see what it’s like. I’m older now, maybe my tastes have changed. That’s the beauty of this. If I don’t like it, I can send it back without getting charged for it.

So my Prime Wardrobe delivery is set to arrive today before 8pm. Hooray. Well then Fossil goes and sends me this:

Good online or in-store. And on payday. The Lord is testing me.

In years past, I would have opted for the convenience of just keeping the wallet I already have from Amazon and paying the full price. But after some calculations on Fossil’s website and the application of other coupons from Honey (if you don’t have Honey, install that shit now on your browser. You’re welcome.), it looks like I could save something like $18 on one of these wallets, including free shipping.

And as much as I love Amazon, they don’t price match. So once I’ve decided on which wallet I want, I’m gonna send them all back to Amazon and order directly from Fossil. Boom. Adulting.

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