Wednesday, April 29, 2015

our bedroom makeover. part one: the "before"

ok, so this post is totally new, uncharted territory for me. not only is this whole buying/changing furniture business something totally stressful and scary (especially since were making BIG changes), i also have never really felt all that comfortable sharing pictures of the inside of our apartment. you know, because it was always so cluttered and ugly and embarrassing. but now as we make our way through this journey to a sleek, minimal household, I'm feeling a lot more comfortable not only changing it, but also documenting and sharing those changes. i told you that this minimalism business has been life changing. 

while things in general are shifting all over the house (things getting cleaned out, moved, replaced, sold), those changes have all been on a smaller scale (typically only one small thing at a time). but our bedroom... well, over the next few months (i really, really hope we can get everything done before the baby comes in july...), its getting a complete overhaul. and honestly, it really needs it. see, with the exception of our bedding, clothes, and personal affects, there is not one. single. thing. in our bedroom that we picked or even actually like. most of it is hand-me-downs from jamess family, and im pretty sure everything else weve pulled out of the trash. im not joking. 

so here are a few "before" shots (which i kind of hesitate to call an actual "before" because weve already purged so much junk that it looks like a completely different room). while we are mostly done with our big house purge, we still havent gotten to jamess side of the closet/his dresser area, largely because previously they had been physically blocked by other piles of crap. i cant believe i just admitted that on the internet. 

now before we get into actually changing things, lets take a minute to go over the problems that need addressed here and what our goals are: 

1. the bed. i hate this bed. its a king-sized pillow top mattress that jamess mom had in storage for who knows how long before giving it to us... almost five years ago. i guess its nice if you like absurdly soft, completely unsupportive mattresses that are so tall your feet dont touch the floor when you sit on them, paying literally $100 on sheets and not having any usable floor space in your entire bedroom. unfortunately, i do not like any of those things. also take note that its just on a basic wire frame with the hideous box springs totally exposed. ive wanted a cute bed frame and a smaller, firmer mattress for years, so, a new bed and mattress are the #1 priority. 

2. the dressers. objectively, i cant really say anything bad about these dressers. theyre super solid actual wood and theyre a matching set and im sure they were very expensive new. but like the mattress they were in storage for years and not looking so hot. also, theyre totally not our style, which was something i was totally willing to overlook until i realized just how HUGE they are for how pathetically little they hold. we werent even looking for dressers the last time we went to ikea but we literally found some that could comfortably hold all of our clothes (i feel its worth noting that neither of the existing dressers is full) in about 1/2 the space. im not exaggerating. so after the beds all done, those are up next. 

3. a place to put the new baby. honestly, i wasnt in a rush to get a full blown crib because of how long alice co-slept with us/how long it was before we used ANY of her nursery furniture. BUT once we realized just how much space the new furniture was going to free up, we realized that for just a tad more money than we were going to spend on a bassinette, baby #2 could have its own mini-crib to last it to toddlerhood. unfortunately/fortunately, bedding options for mini-cribs are severely limited, so ill also need to make baby's nursery from scratch (though this is a challenge that i am totally up for/not freaking out about).

as of right now, were still working out the bed situation. but over the next few weeks i promise to keep you updated on our progress! 

Monday, April 27, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 5: chickpea and brown rice soup.

im going to be completely honest here: researching recipes when youre gluten free is total lamesauce. typically youre faced with one of two options: you can either search for specifically gluten free recipes and being assaulted with a barrage of kale and quinoa and "skinny" this and "paleo" that until you silently weep because youre pregnant and have a family to feed and you need recipes for actual food. OR you can browse "normal" recipes for inspiration and try your best to figure out if its even un-glutenable before getting tired and just making something that you already know will work (and be safe to eat). 

this soup though, happens to be my first full-blown success with the latter option. i had originally found this soup on pinterest and thought it looked/sounded fantastic. quick, healthy, filling, and CHEAP, basically everything i look for in a weeknight dinner, with the added bonus of involving garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas). alice LOVES garbanzo beans. it can be really difficult to get her excited over a new dinner, but not quite so much if it has her favorite beans prominently featured in it. 

the only problem with the original recipe was the orzo. orzo is definitely not gluten free. maybe somebody out there makes gluten free orzo but i wasnt really willing to put in the extra effort (and money) to find out when, you know, rice is pretty similar to orzo. and already gluten free. and 99 cents a pound. what could possibly go wrong here? not much, actually. the first time i made the soup i just followed the recipe verbatim, just substituting the rice for the orzo and while it was ok, it wasnt quite right. the rice soaked up WAY too much broth and i found it a little lacking in the flavor department. so i took a few notes and made a few adjustments and the next week: perfection. i think we have a new favorite soup on our hands. 

so are YOU ready to have a new favorite soup? i think so: 

chickpea and brown rice soup. 

(makes approximately 8 servings)

heres what you need: 

1 onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
olive oil
salt, pepper, dried rosemary, oregano, thyme, and bay leaf to taste
3-4 carrots
3-4 ribs celery (i tend to err on the side of more because who doesnt want more veggies?)
1 can of garbanzo beans (or two cups of cooked beans if you make your own)
3/4 cup brown rice
2 quarts vegetable stock + 2 cups of water
1/4 cup lemon juice

heres what you do: 

finely chop the onions and garlic and sauté with olive oil on medium-high heat in a large soup pot. 

when the onions become translucent, season with salt, pepper, and herbs (i dont really measure i just do what smells nice), and continue to cook until the onions start to brown. 

chop the carrots and celery into small pieces and stir them into the onions and garlic, cooking for another minute or two. 

add the garbanzo beans, rice, stock, water, and lemon juice and bring soup to a boil. 

cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for another 15-20 minutes, until rice is fully cooked (add more water if necessary depending on how much the rice swells). finish off with a little more lemon juice if desired. 

and thats it! now you have a perfect quick and easy soup!

Friday, April 24, 2015

our move towards minimalism (a surprising lifestyle change).

to say that we have a complicated relationship with our stuff would be an understatement. i mean, i know this is probably true for a lot of people, but for james and i, it seems to be especially bad. both of us came into this marriage with a lot of crap (both literally and figuratively), and due to the typically mostly really bad circumstances weve lived through since getting married, we never really learned how to properly deal with all of it. its not that we didnt know it was there, of that it was a problem, or that we totally needed to do something about it, it was just... overwhelming. we didnt know what to do, where to start, or even what kind of end product we were after, anyway. so we just kind of ignored it. for four freaking years. 

but then things started changing. really changing. things started getting better. not "magically swimming in money so we can move somewhere big enough to hide all this crap and continue to not deal with it" better, but "you know what the way were used to living is totally not what either of us wants and we can totally do things that will make it better so lets do that". so we started dealing with our crap. the process started slowly, first we cut way back on what we were buying until we were rarely ever bringing anything new into the house. then about a year ago, my mom had a yard sale and we quickly ransacked our apartment for things that were just taking up space. we ditched two car loads of stuff that weekend. two. car. loads. from a one bedroom apartment. 

and thats where things really started to get moving. we stopped looking only at what we were buying, but also at what we already had, more critically, more practically. we started small, a drawer here, a box there, throwing out obvious trash and giving things away as the opportunity arose. i spent a good chunk of the year picking my closet over (and over, and over) to try and sort out my actual personal style and reduce my wardobe down to only the things i actually like to wear. we started to get pretty dang good at this decluttering thing. 

then recently, things really got kicked into high gear. partly because of the new baby, but also because we were hit hard with a hard truth: we didnt actually need more space. our apartment is plenty big enough for the four of us, we just needed to not have every nook and cranny stacked to the ceiling with stuff. and we noticed something else: the more we got rid of, the more we saw how little of what we own is stuff that we actually use, that we actually like. and there began our quest not just for a tidy, organized home (which, to be honest, was our original intention), but for a minimal one. the questions shifted from "do we want/need this?" to "could we live without this?". more often than not, the answer to that second question is yes. so away those things go. 

and its absolutely wonderful. something as simple as getting rid of all this old crap that we didnt even realize was weighing us down has renewed and inspired us to get moving on some other things that weve been ignoring all this time: projects, goals, even dreams for the future that we were just too distracted to get around to. really i can not stop talking about how much ive loved this move towards a more minimal lifestyle. 

it hasn't been easy though, and to be completely honest, i never expected this change for me. ive always been a cluttered, disorganized, sentimental person buried in things. james too. but what i didnt realize is that these things were actually weighing us down and holding us back. without them, well... watch out. big things are happening over here. 

so whats up next? obviously, a continued series on de-cluttering/minimalism, because ive really learned a lot through this process that i just cant wait to share with you guys. but more surprisingly (for me, at least, cause i never thought id be that kind of blogger), a bedroom makeover series. yeah, miss i-dont-decorate-cant-make-domestic-decisions is doing a room makeover. 

so be sure to stay tuned for next time because the "before" is coming right up! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

ashley brooke designs mug giveaway with kate the almost great!

i have the honor of sponsoring my dear internet friend kate right now, and as a result, i get to team up with a few other rad bloggers for a super fun giveaway! this week were giving away the coffee mug of your choice from ashley brooke designs, and OBVIOUSLY i dont want any of you fine readers to miss out on this!

so if you get a second, be sure to get those entries in (and say hello to all the other sponsors!) before its too late!

Image used with permission from Ashley Brooke Designs
Winner gets to choose their prize! All mugs here (except for the set) are options.
Kate - Kate the (Almost) Great Elizabeth and Luke - Something Saturdays Victoria - Poverty Luxe Stephanie Rita - Letters from Rita
Ashley Brooke Designs Mug Giveaway - Kate the (Almost) Great
Details: - Giveaway goes from 4/20/15 12:00 AM EST to 4/26/15 11:59 PM EST. - You must be 18 to enter. - This is only open to the USA. - Any entries that are falsified (aka you lie and say you did something that you didn't) will be deleted without warning. (Actually had this issue last month. Come on - you're smarter than that.) - The winner will be notified via email within 48 hours. - You will have 48 hours to respond to claim your prize. - If you do not respond within that time, a new winner will be chosen. Kate the (Almost) Great Privacy & Disclosure Policy Join next month's giveaway

Monday, April 20, 2015

the poverty luxe kitchen vol. 4: black bean and corn enchiladas.

i know ive said time and time again that one of my big personal goals for this year was to branch out with cooking and try out some new recipes to add to our standard rotation. not that our current rotation is really much of a problem per se since we all LOVE salmon, mac and cheese, fish tacos, black bean chili, etc., its just... probably about time that i get more creative in the kitchen. 

and i have. honestly ive probably tried (and fiddled with) more recipes in the past four months than i had in the past four years of our marriage (ok maybe im exaggerating slightly), but obviously, these recipes need to be tested and re-tested before i can, you know, share them in public. so, after months of stringing you guys along with "i promise  new recipes are coming", NEW RECIPES ARE FINALLY HERE. 

today were going to start with with some totally awesome black bean and corn enchiladas. im really excited about this recipe in particular because not only is it delicious (obviously my #1 priority), but its also super affordable (actually, almost all of the ingredients can be purchased at the dollar store), surprisingly simple to put together (i dont know why i went all these years thinking enchiladas were so hard to make), AND conveniently both vegetarian AND gluten free without requiring ANY special ingredients (or being weird crunchy health food). could you ask for a more perfect dinner? well actually alice wont eat these because theyre "too spicy" (nevermind she totally eats way spicier food all the time) so i guess there maybe is a more perfect dinner out there...

but anyway, without any further distractions, the recipe:

black bean and corn enchiladas

serves 4-6 (note: this recipe is BEST for a 9x13 baking pan but i dont have one so i make it in two casserole dishes and freeze the extra one for later)

heres what you need: 

1 package (at least 12-16) corn tortillas 
1 large can (or two small cans) of enchilada sauce (once in a pinch i bought a huge can of "mexican style tomato sauce with peppers" from dollar tree and it was actually perfect and made like three pans of enchiladas)
1 can sweet corn
1 can black beans (or two cups of cooked black beans if you make them yourself)
1 onion
3-4 cloves garlic
approximately 2.5 cups of shredded cheese (cheddar and/or jack or "mexican blend" or whatever you like/have)
olive oil
salt and pepper

heres what you do: 

preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

finely chop the onion and garlic and sauté in a large frying pan with a little olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste.

once the onion and garlic start to soften, add the corn and beans (make sure to drain them well) and a splash of the enchilada sauce. continue to cook until everything is hot and the flavors are nice and combined. 

remove veggies from heat and heat up your tortillas to soften them (you can either do this in the microwave or by heating them in a pan with a little olive oil). 

spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish (or two smaller casserole dishes). 

place a heaping spoonful of the veggie mixture as well as a little cheese in a tortilla and roll it up, placing it seam side down close to the edge the dish. repeat this with each tortilla, making sure to fill all the available space until the pan is full. 

top enchiladas with a generous layer of enchilada sauce (using a pastry brush to make it even if you so desire), and top with remaining cheese. (note: i often have a little bit of extra veggies so i typically throw those on top of the enchiladas as a garnish of sorts)

bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and starts to brown. 

and youre done!

one of my favorite things about this meal is that while you totally could dress these up with some spanish rice and sour cream and other fun things on the side, theyre still a totally great dinner on their own. these enchiladas have definitely earned their place in our normal dinner rotation, whats your favorite go-to meal? 

Friday, April 17, 2015

8 tips to keep you from going broke on maternity clothes.

im going to be completely real here, i HATE maternity clothes. a strong, powerful, oddly disproportionate hate like the hate i have for morissey and wil wheaton and things that are orange-flavored. i hate having to buy special, single purpose garments for a very specific, very temporary transitional period in life that lasts approximately five months. when you add the fact that the majority of traditional maternity clothes are expensive, unflattering, uncomfortable, and inexplicably geared to the over-40 set style-wise, well, there are a whole lot of layers to that hate-cake. 

but being pregnant doesnt have to mean dropping hundreds of dollars on clothes that you hate. i mean, theres not a whole lot you can do to change whats already out there in the world of maternity clothes, it turns out there are actually quite a few things you can do to make things easier in the money department. 

and now that i have (almost) two whole pregnancies under my (currently very large) belt, i herby present to you my top eight tips for saving money on maternity clothes: 

1. re-evaluate your "normal" clothes. so the idea that youre going to need an ENTIRE new wardrobe as soon as you find out youre pregnant is a total lie, because 1. its probably going to be a while before you actually need different clothes (especially if its your first pregnancy) and 2. you probably have a LOT of regular clothes that will serve you well through pregnancy. things like: long/loose tops, sweaters, jackets, empire waist/fit and flare dresses, stretchy skirts, leggings, etc.. so before you rush out and buy anything, move all of THAT stuff to the front of your closet and see how far you can go. 

2. splurge on a belly band. these range anywhere from $15 to upwards of $60, which is an absolutely stupid price for whats basically just a circle of stretchy fabric that really isnt all that comfortable (personally i find it very itchy and constricting). but, it does have two key benefits (especially for the first half of pregnancy/postpartum): 1. it lets you wear your normal pants unbuttoned without them falling down/everyone being able to see your open pants, and 2. it fills in the gap when your shirts start getting too short (but not necessarily too small). 

3. dont get ahead of yourself. i know the idea of a single, big maternity shopping spree to outfit yourself for your entire pregnancy might sound super fun and efficient. but honestly thats a surefire way to end up wasting a TON of money on clothes that wont get worn. why? because, like most things involving babies, you really CAN NOT anticipate what youre going to need until you actually need it (or dont need it). there is literally NO way to predict how big you are going to get at what stage, how youre going to carry, or what kind of clothes you are going to want to wear/feel comfortable in once you get bigger. so when you run out of pants or shirts or underwear or whatever that fit, go get that one thing you KNOW you need, and hold off on everything else. 

4. look for non-maternity alternatives. heres the thing with anything labeled "maternity": much like anything labeled "wedding", whatever it is is going to cost about three-four times as much as its normal counterpart. but the thing is (just like with weddings) sometimes there is literally no difference. take extra-long tank tops for layering: theyre a good $20 + in the maternity section (even at cheap places like h&m), but you can get them at forever 21 for like $4. another great trick (especially for skirts and dresses) is to find a flattering cut thats loose around the belly area, and buying it in a larger than normal size. in addition to saving you tons of money, it will not have the belly-accentuating gathers and panels that maternity clothes tend to have, so you can continue to wear them postpartum without still looking pregnant (trust me on this, you do NOT want to be wearing belly-emphasizing maternity clothes after the baby is born). 

5. invest in versatile basics. as with clothing in general, youll get a LOT more mileage out of your maternity budget if you stick to higher quality, mix and match pieces in neutral colors. one really great dress or pair or pants can be dressed up or down in a variety of combinations and no one will really notice, but loud, trendy tops will only last you a few wears. also, great basics are less likely to go out of style, and a LOT more likely to be useful to save for your next pregnancy/hand down to another expecting mom. 

6. always look check the clearance sales. there is one plus side to the fact that maternity clothes tend to be horribly dated: the stuff on clearance is exactly the same as the stuff thats regular price. wherever youre shopping, whether its an an actual maternity store like motherhood or somewhere less expected like h&m or amazon, check the clearance, because there is probably something fantastic/necessary for a fraction of the price. actual real-life clearance scores so far: $6 and $12 nursing bras, a $12 bathing suit, $5 tshirts, and a very, very versatile black and white striped dress (because we all know how i love those) for $25. all because i checked the clearance. 

7. thrift/consignment stores, thredup, and your other mom friends. so far ive only talked about buying new maternity clothes. but, of course, theres also the option of not buying new maternity clothes. since theyre typically worn for such a short time, most used pieces are still in fabulous condition, and if you have the patience/free time for it (but if you dont, thredup is a wonderful online substitute) you can find deals way better than the clearance racks. also, hand me downs. if you have other friends that are new moms, pregnancy is not a time to be too proud for hand me downs. 

8. consider your postpartum needs when youre shopping. i really, really hate to break it to you, but you are probably not going straight back to your pre-pregnancy shape immediately after giving birth. youll need transitional clothes. also, if youre planning on nursing, youll need tops and dresses that will work for that too. BUT, if you carefully select your maternity purchases so that theyre also useful postpartum, then you can really stretch your clothing budget. 

so yeah, long story short, maternity clothes kind of suck. but at least they dont have to eat all your money. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

a year without a real job (and 10 other things ive stopped doing).

its the middle of april now, and if youve been following around here for a while, you know that the middle of april is also the one year anniversary of me quitting my job(s) at joanns. quitting joanns was definitesly a hard decision, but ultimately, it was absolutely neccesary. we did need the money, but we also needed me to be home more, less stressed out and to be able to pursue the schooling and self employment opportunities that would actually help us acheive the kind of life that we want. and looking back over the past year, cutting out that one really big source of stress/tension/anxiety/problems really served as a catalyst for a whole bunch of other, albiet smaller, changes that, all together, have added up to HUGE changes around here. i mean, im still the same super annoying-uptight-no-fun-at-all victoria i always was, but i promise, i used to be way worse. 

so aside from quitting my job, what else have i stopped doing this year? 

1. drinking soda. 

2. playing phone/ipad games. 

3. buying things just to buy things. 

4. clipping coupons. 

5. going to two grocery stores. 

6. treating our apartment as temporary. 

7. letting my diet ruin my life. 

8. chasing freebies. 

9. keeping things for stupid reasons. 

10. being "friends" with people that make me feel bad. 

i wont bother going into detail about what went into/resulted from each, since really they all kind of overlap, but together all these small changes added up to make huge changes in how i live my life: im way less stressed out, i have way more free time, i have more spending money, im less anxious and for the first time in my life, im actually able to focus on making long-term goals and changes. 

case in point: right now were elbow-deep in some major home projects. the kind of thing that a year ago, i wasnt even able to mentally process because of how busy and cluttered my life was. 

did quitting my terrible job instantly fix everything? no. did i instantly jump into 100% dream-following mode? no. do i even know exactly where were headed from here? no. but was it absolutely life changing? yes. not in the big, dramatic ways that one usually associates with quitting their day job, but in lots and lots of small ways that have added up to givign me the space and freedom to dedicate time and energy to making life better for all of us, in a way that i really wasnt able to before. yeah, i dont have a real job. yeah i dont really have a satisfactory answer for any of the people who ask me what it is i do. but thanks to taking the leap and quitting joanns, I'm a better wife, a better mom, and all around a better person with a better life then we ever had when i was working. 

so happy unemployent-aversary to me. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

if i could make an honest baby registry (a definitely not sponsored post).

yesterday james and i (along with alice) went to buy buy baby to make our registry for baby #2. not that i was all that keen on even making a registry for our second kid because i feel weird even having a baby shower this time let alone asking people for things, but, i didnt exactly have a baby shower with alice (we lived in arizona with zero local family/friends) so i guess theres no way around having a shower. and people have been asking what we want/need for a while. since this is our second baby and 1. we already have quite a bit of the basics, 2. have a much better perspective of what a new baby actually needs, and 3. live a much different lifestyle than we did when we were expecting alice, we have a very short list of very specific items. actually its mostly diapers. i just checked and its literally more than half diapers. im just really boring, ok? also, babies use a LOT of diapers. 

even though making the registry wasnt exactly my most favorite baby prep activity (mainly because we got stuck fiddling with different strollers for like an hour even though im not even 100% sold that we even need a new stroller), it was really amazing to see just how much things have changed in the past four years since the last time we made a baby registry. i mean, when i was pregnant with alice buy buy baby didnt even exist, diaper bags that dont look like diaper bags were like a brand new emerging trend, and there were like, no options for furniture that was affordable AND attractive. so that was neat. also the free goodie bag. buy buy baby doesnt mess around with the goodie bag. 

but in all honesty, with the exception of a safe place to sleep and the obvious mountain of diapers, babies really dont need most of whats out there. even my super boring overly practical gender neutral registry feels pretty excessive (to me). and it kind of got me thinking about what i would really ask for, if we could eschew social conventions for just a minute. i mean, ive been a new mom before, i think i have a pretty good idea of what i actually want. and its not 300 different contraptions and appliances or a dozen tiny little hats. 

(disclaimer, this post was NOT sponsored in any way by buy buy baby OR any of the companies/products i am about to mention, HOWEVER the links used throughout may or may not be affiliate or referral links depending on whether they offer that sort of thing)

so without any further ado, heres what id put on an honest baby registry: 

1. an amazon fresh membership. we happen to live in an area where, given that you pay the appropriate membership fee, amazon will totally deliver groceries to your house. and you know whats REALLY hard to do with a newborn?  going to the grocery store. 

2. a professional house cleaning. ill admit that i am MUCH better at keeping a clean house than i ever was before, despite having a three year old and being six months pregnant. but nothing quite feels as good as a perfectly spotless spic-and-span clean that only a professional cleaning service can deliver. especially when youve just had a baby. 

3. amazon giftcards. the thing with new babies is they frequently need weird random things that you really cant anticipate in advance. and then OF COURSE the first (or second, or third) store you go to looking for it doesnt have any and youve just run all over town looking for the pacifier that the hospital gave you and nobody has it. but chances are, amazon does, and you can avoid the whole ordeal and have those pacifiers in two business days. also, amazon was BY FAR my favorite place to get diapers cause the prices are fantastic AND you can buy in bulk without leaving the house. 

4. giftcards for pizza. true story: when alice was born jamess (super weird) boss at the time gave us a $50 gift card for pizza. at first we were like "seriously? pizza?" but after a few weeks, we realized that was actually one of the most useful things anyone gave us. having a newborn is an exhausting and emotional experience for everyone but pizza really makes it all better. 

5. wine. lots and lots of wine (or scotch. i also like scotch). i really shouldnt have to explain this one, but... 

6. some adult company. seriously, come over and hold my baby and talk to me about something other than babies while i do something with two hands. i had a couple friends do this when alice was born and that was by far the BEST gift i got from anyone. 

unfortunately, buy buy baby does not sell any of these things, so, we registered for diapers and a stroller...

sidenote: if you happen to be shopping for a friend thats expecting a baby, i promise you, one of these gifts will me much more appreciated in the long run than a giant stuffed animal or big, noisy contraption. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

life lately. (and our march goal progress).

a long, long time ago (its honestly hard to believe ive been blogging long enough to say that) i used to do a "month in review" post at the end of the month with photos and tidbits about the past month and lately ive started to miss that. especially as life has gotten crazier and things are shifting with the blog and im not really writing much about our general family activities anymore. march really made me miss this old feature. march was one of those months that really flew by.

among the highlights were our first real family trip, probably the best wedding ive ever been to, beach days, bridal showers, baby showers, family dinners and days at disneyland. in a lot of ways i was a little too busy enjoying life to get to the computer to work on serious blog posts. especially since, you know, i have school and james has work and we still have all our other normal adult things to do. 

but theres also been a lot going on behind the scenes, stuff that i want to write about, stuff that i probably should be writing about, but stuff that i cant ever really get myself around to actually writing about. 

like this pregnancy. pregnancy has not been kind to me. i mean, im not all that alarmed/surprised about how things are going, because ive done this before. i know that im just not one of those women that gets to go about her normal life while pregnant, and i really dont enjoy this process all that much (like seriously, can the stork be real please?). i was really sick for a good four months, i am really tired basically all the time, and (very much unlike last time) i have had to deal with horrendous back pain on top of my usual fibromyalgia related issues, and really this whole time ive barely been able to function as a human. and thats not even getting into the emotional effects of constantly feeling ugly and gross as i slowly transform into a huge, greasy, sweaty, useless bipedal land whale that is vastly inferior to seemingly every other pregnant woman that gets to just go on doing 20x the things i do in a day and still have nice hair. 

i dont want this to come off as being unnecessarily negative because even though yeah, pregnancy totally sucks (which i really feel like women are not allowed to say/talk about but thats a rant for an entirely different day) were all very excited about the new baby (which, for the record, we do not know the gender of) and the assorted preparations that we get to work on. im just, equally as excited at the prospect of finally not being pregnant anymore (and wouldnt be at all opposed to baby coming a bit early the way ive heard second babies have a tendency of doing). 

and as if a new baby wasnt a big enough change to go through right now, james and i have also decided to embrace/move towards a more minimalist lifestyle. actually thats kind of a lie, were getting close to embracing full-blown minimalism around here. see, in a lot of ways weve really been weighed down by the sheer amount of crap in our lives, and over the past year or so have been slowly making changes in our habits (buying only what we absolutely need, getting rid of things we dont use, etc.) and values (people and experiences over things, quality over quantity, efficiency over excess). this has been a slow and gradual process, though recently, weve just been on a mission to get rid of all the things. and it feels SO good. 

we literally own less right now than we have ever owned in our marriage and the more things we get rid of, the more things we see that we can totally get rid of. its like a vicious cycle thats also COMPLETELY FREAKING FANTASTIC. there are surfaces in this apartment that im not sure ive ever seen empty, and the place feels HUGE compared to when we moved in. and no, we are nowhere near being finished. did i mention we havent even gotten the new, smaller, more efficient bedroom furniture yet? for a long time we worried about where wed put another baby, but now its starting to look like baby #2 will get its own WHOLE CORNER in our room. maybe even with an actual (mini) crib. the only downside to this whole process is its kind of a mess: one area gets torn up, we make a big pile of stuff we dont want, put the stuff we do want away and then have to deal with the pile before moving on to the next area, lather, rinse, repeat. this constant state of flux is not great for my anxiety (though, removing the clutter is actually totally great for my anxiety!). 

putting all our physical possessions into their place has also had me trying to figure out how to put all my different interests/efforts into their place. the past couple years has been awesome as far as finding things that im good at/make me happy/put us on a path to me actually providing a second income from home, BUT i cant give 100% to all of them. school, blog, shop, jamberry, theyre all great. i love all of them and they all have their different strengths and benefits, but its really getting to be too much trying to juggle all of them. realistically, even though its the slowest going, finishing/doing well in school is really necessary so that i can build the skills that ill need wherever i end up in my creative pursuits, and investing time and effort into a strong blog/web presence probably wisest since that will give me a foundation for launching any kind of actual business. and honestly, im running out of steam and inspiration when it comes to the shop and jamberry, but i also really dont want to just flat out quit either of them (especially when its jamberry that has the most/easiest earning potential). so what do i do now? i dont know yet. 

so thats whats been going on around here lately, and since its a fresh new month, why dont we quickly check in on our goal progress this month: 


with a solid foundation for my content/branding coming together, its getting a lot easier (in theory) to plan posts and write consistently (of course, in practice real life keeps getting in the way), and lately ive been working on less conventional ways to connect with my readers/other bloggers that i think are more effective than the traditional sponsorship/link up route. 


we traded patchwork for the silver lake market, and while it wasnt a financial success, we did it, and tomorrow ill be doing my second craft fair of the year (the community bazaar in anaheim), so the craft fair related goals are coming along nicely, even if more design-oriented things are more or less on hold. 


this month we have gotten WAY better at having intentional family time every week, and while james and i didnt get a date date (march had some kind of big thing every single weekend) we did do the silver lake flea market together without alice. homeschooling though, i need to work harder at finding better (age appropriate) activities. 


you probably read about our most recent trip to ikea, and how we totally got the credenza situation taken care of before the bed/mattress. but we also DID pick a bed and mattress and are making GREAT progress with decluttering so our home goals are sailing along nicely. 


march was still slow work-wise for james but we are working on figuring out a reasonable budget plan, our savings account is inching along, and weve made a couple big payments to the credit card, so i cant complain here. 


school is going amazingly well, i actually got the only perfect score on my illustration midterm, and im learning a lot (which is whats most important), and im really finding a lot more confidence in the kitchen. jamberry though, i dont know if im being lazy or if maybe thats run its course, but i suppose i should give it some more time. 

so whats going on in your life lately?