Thursday, June 27

Apartment Wishlist

As for Concord moving plans, it's been established that my dad and I are going to move me up. J will either drive my car up or fly up once he's finished with his summer class. And that's about the only thing that's been established, haha.

We were planning on taking a UHaul, but it turns out it'll be suuuper expensive to rent and drive all the way there. My dad and I are discussing leaving all of my furniture here in Iowa; my mom's renting an apartment in Des Moines starting in July, so she might be able to take it (side note: no problems in my family, she just works in Des Moines part of the month and wants a place to stay).

Basically, it'd be cheaper to buy me all new stuff once we get there than it'd be to move all my stuff up in a UHaul. Obviously I'd still be bringing my clothes and small furniture and everything I've had boxed up - I would just need to buy a new desk, mattress (I'm going to put it on the floor and I am WAY too excited about that), bookshelves & some kind of dresser.

I know that my friend Hannah bought all new stuff off of Craigslist when she moved down to Atlanta, but I'm not sure what my other friends did when they moved. I'm probably just going to head to the local Target and get what I need. I'll still be using my "Iowa" furniture in the future - we're just not sure when - so this stuff will be temporary. 

Ultimately, I need a space that's functional. I need a space where I can do loads of writing, reading and researching (because, hey, I'll be in law school) while still being fun and comfortable!

If you couldn't tell, I'm really excited about this. I've tried to not buy anything for the apartment until I move in because I have no idea how much space I really have. I don't want to move in and realize I have to get rid of half my things! I also want to be frugal and not spend more than I have to. It's definitely going to be an adventure. :)

How did you transport your things cross-country? What's the easiest way to get new furniture? What are fun ways to personalize your space?
P.S. Check out my Apartment Decoration Inspiration blog post!

Wednesday, June 19

Moving Tips: We Did This Right!

I have just over a month until I move to Concord! How time flies, right?!

One thing I've started to think about again is packing and moving. I don't know if I'm just weird about this, but I love to move - I love new possibilities! 

When J and I moved to J's mom's house at the end of April, this was my first time really moving out of anywhere besides my house in Johnston. Moving in was weird enough - I realized I had no essentials, like a toilet plunger, but I'll get to that another day, haha.

J and I did a great job moving out, but it was hardIn preparation for this next move, I've decided to put together a list of a few things we did did right!

#1 - Use up the food you have!
Apparently J and I like to eat the same kinds of things over and over again. Angel hair pasta with a spicy tomato sauce is a staple, after all! A month before we had to move out, I decided to clean out our pantry so we could get rid of all the things that were expired or that we didn't need.

I ended up throwing a lot of expired food out (in our defense, my parents were moving when I moved in, so I got a lot of their disowned pantry items), but I also ended up finding a ton of great food that I didn't know we had! Among the goodies were steel-cut oats, some great canned goods, tons of Kraft mac n' cheese, and a mountain of discarded Tupperware!

J and I usually went to the grocery store every two weeks, give or take. We both decided to try and use everything we could from the fridge, freezer and pantry before making another trip - we didn't see the point in having any leftover food when we moved. 

It was an interesting but very good month. I started bringing the oats to work with me for breakfast. We started experimenting with dinners, using the pilaf we had found and trying out the frozen salmon patties. Not everything was delicious, but we certainly made that month work. I even ended up boiling the remains of our rotisserie chicken to make chicken stock for a homemade soup!

I won't have to do this for this next move since J and his mom aren't moving with me, but I definitely think it was one of the most helpful things we did!

#2 - Pack before you have to!
Since I'm so excited about packing, this was something I really pushed for. We didn't do a perfect job at this - I was a little too relaxed at packing for the first half of the month, and it stressed J out. The hardest parts of packing up your house or apartment? You're still living in it!

It's hard to figure out what can be packed beforehand or not, but (like with the food) it can also be easier than you'd think. For example, after I cleaned out the pantry, I decided to pack away half of my cooking supplies. I had a few different cooking pans, baking sheets, mixing bowls and utensils - instead of keeping them until the last minute, I packed them away a month before! Plus side? FEWER DISHES TO DO.

I would definitely be more consistent about this next time and try to do the bulk of the packing in just a few days. While it was nice to have the extra time to leisurely pack, it was sometimes stressful to figure out what could be packed when. I feel like things would have been a lot easier if we had just gotten 50% or more of it done and dealt with having less stuff for the rest of the month. Do you really need all those dishes for the rest of the month? How about a whole closet full of clothes? All of those DVDs and books? No, I didn't think so.

We had it especially hard because we had THREE different types of boxes: Boxes that were "our" stuff, going to our new room; boxes that were "ours" but didn't need to be used immediately; and boxes of my stuff that I wouldn't need until law school. We quickly realized just how much stuff we had, especially stuff that we didn't need. Because of this, J and I started a "donate" box pile, which brought our "three" box labels up to "four." It was still so worth it!

When you label, there are a few rules to follow:
1) Make the writing clear, easy to read, and in a convenient location (preferably a consistent location with all the boxes)
2) Mark where the contents of the box came from (i.e. "From Bathroom")
3) Along with that, it is helpful to list the general items in box (i.e. "Hair dryer / face stuff / under the sink stuff")
4) Mark where you want to box to end up at the new location (i.e. "To J Room" or "To Bathroom")

Even if you just have "your" stuff going to one place, labeling what's in what box and where it goes can be a nightmare. When we started unpacking at J's mom's house, it seemed very simple - after all, I had labeled every box by these rules... Except sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I didn't label what was inside of the boxes. By the end of packing, I was literally just throwing everything that didn't have a place yet into boxes and labelling, "Random." This was not a good idea. Next time, I am going to be much better about following my own advice. 

Thankfully, half of my things are already packed away! Everything that was for "Law School" hasn't been touched. I will still have to pack up my clothes and track down all my movies and bathroom stuff, but the packing should be a LOT less intense than last time.

Be prepared for another blog post about "This Time We Should," where I go over things I wish we would have done last time we moved (and which I will be doing this time or in the future)!

Do you think these are good moving tips? What would you add? How do you deal with the stress of moving?

Monday, June 17

Happy Father's Day!

Happy (Late) Father's Day to all the dads out there! As Barack Obama said, 
"Any fool can have a child. That doesn't make you a father. It's the courage to raise a child that makes you a father."
Damn straight. 

My dad is easily one of the most important people in my life. He's always so selfless and takes care of other people. He was able to get a job working from home when Chase were younger, and it was pretty great to have a parent around after school. It was also great because he did the laundry a lot, so we always had clean clothes, haha.

Without a doubt, my family is the most fun family I know (sorry I'm NOT sorry), and my dad is a huge part of that. While he likes order and is a stickler for being on time to things, he is also super fun and never ceases to make us laugh!

My dad taught me to stick up for myself and that I should be with someone who appreciates me. In the midst of a crappy high school relationship, he was the first person to really stand up and say, "M, this isn't right." It's not that other people didn't say things like that, but this was the first time it stuck out to me. I know that my dad will tell me the truth about what he sees. He is also the best buffer in the world when my mom and I fight, haha.

He and my mom have taught me more about marriage than I ever could have learned from theology, books, or blogs. They showed me that marriage takes work - it's not just this easy, flawless thing that shouldn't be hard work. They've been through so much together, and while I know it's never easy to stay married to another flawed person for a long time, they've been such an inspiration about working for something you believe is right. I'm so thankful they've stayed together. :)

My Grandpa Jim & Grandpa Chuck have also been a huge part of my life! Grandpa Jim taught me so much about patience, respect, and sticking up for what you think is right. He and Grandma Dar got me hooked on being out in nature. I can't walk through the woods anymore without thinking about Grandpa Jim quizzing me about which tree was which (I failed, often). 

Grandpa Chuck is one of the nicest, most kind-hearted people I've ever met! He's somehow always happy and laughing, which is a trick I would love to learn, haha. He taught me not to take life so seriously - there's always something to laugh about in any situation. It's also hilarious, because I had no idea how much alcohol was served at holidays until about last year. We're German, okay? I haven't gotten to see Grandpa Chuck for a while, which hurts my heart. Hopefully I'll get to see him soon.

I'm so thankful to have such great male role models in my life. I know most people aren't as lucky as I am, but I appreciate who I have in my life so much. My heart goes out to everyone whose father wasn't around or couldn't be around - and to all the single moms who have rocked the whole child-rearing thing, because they're clearly superheroes!

Happy Father's Day!

Tuesday, June 11

Recipe: Kale Chips

Making Kale Chips is actually really easy, though I've had to try it a couple times to find a recipe that works for me! I kept seeing recipes on Pinterest, and a few of my favorite blogs even posted recipes. My biggest hurdle was that kale tends to be bitter - bitter and M don't usually mix well.

I posted my first try making kale chips on Instagram this fall... which sucked, truth be told. J ate them later that night and loved them, but it was a no-go for me. I figured it was just the kale, but I tried again that winter just in case. The second time I made the kale chips, they turned out a lot better! I've been using pretty much the same recipe ever since. :)

What you'll need:
  • Fresh kale (I use it already cut up in a bag)
  • A baking pan
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper

Take your kale out or cut them up into relatively small pieces. Make sure there are no large stems mixed in. Place them in a bowl or a plate where you can toss them around (I would use a bowl, but we still don't have a sink or dishwasher, so if I can avoid getting things dirty, I do). Pour olive oil and lemon juice on top and toss the kale around until it's completely covered with both. You'll probably use more olive oil and lemon juice than you actually need, and that's okay.

Once your kale is coated, get out a baking pan. Again, I don't want to wash anything I don't have to, so I use aluminum foil to cover the pan. This isn't necessary! Set the oven to 375* and let it heat up.

Take handfuls of your kale and place them on a baking sheet that's been sprayed with Pam. Do NOT pour any excess olive oil or lemon juice on top. Make sure to spread them out - try and let each piece have it's own space so it can crisp up properly in the oven! They shrink up like shrinky-dinks, so it'll look like a lot less once they're done.

I use salt, pepper and cayenne pepper on my kale chips (Update: I no longer use pepper). The salt really helps to cut through the spiciness of the cayenne, but so does the lemon juice, so don't use too much salt. If the chips are too spicy after they're done, you can always add more salt or lemon juice (or just add less cayenne next time).

Cook them in the oven for 15-20 minutes. You'll know they're done when they start to get really dark green or brown - they'll crackle when you touch them with your spatula! You don't want to overcook them, because they can get very bitter. But if you don't let them cook long enough, they don't crisp up properly. So much of making a good kale chip is a waiting game - wait too long, they're burnt, but if you don't wait long enough, they're not crispy yet! I would suggest checking on them after 10 minutes, and then every 3-5 minutes after that, just to be safe.

Kale chips are pretty simple to make and they're a great treat when you want something crispy and crunchy, but want to avoid something fried, like a bag of chips. These may not be "guilt-free," but they're about as guilt-free as you can get! Plus you can choose whatever spices you want on top - I've been on a spicy kick lately, so cayenne pepper is always a go for me.

Have you ever tried making kale chips? What do you like to use on them? Let me know if you try out this recipe - did you like it?! What would you change?