paper love (& hate)

I write this post to keep it real. When I follow zero waste bloggers, I can feel like I don’t measure up. But writing my own posts, I want to make sure I’m not only highlighting the victories and practices that I’ve mastered. I just want to write about how I’m being mindful; not perfect, but at least living with the intention of doing better. I have a love/hate relationship with the term “zero waste.” I understand that it’s an intentionally high bar – getting as close to zero as possible is the goal. But it can also make me feel inadequate or hypocritical when I don’t achieve perfection. But truthfully, I don’t even want to. I simply want to be the queen of my own castle. I don’t want toxic plastics, unsolicited junk mail, or sweatshop-made clothes taking over my life. But I’m ok with consumption that feels purposeful and truly makes me happy.

Stationary, journals, planners, scrapbooking.. I’ve always been partial to paper. My favorite gifts are of the paper variety, to give and get. I like tech to a point, but when documenting life or making lists, paper is my go-to. Productivity apps – I’ve tried them all – don’t cut it for me. Partly because my office was in a high-security (i.e. no cell phones and outside gadgets) facility, so I couldn’t fully rely on them. It was always paper and it’s likely that for me, it always will be paper.

I’ve tackled most other household areas by now; paper remains one thing I’m so tethered to. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot as I phase out the wasteful products in our household – is it ok for me to justify all the paper? I’ve decided that for me, it is. To a point. But whether it’s good paper or bad paper, it all comes from trees. I’ve decided to take a look at what I feel ok justifying and where I can make some real changes.

bookshelf

  1. Books. I’ve made a big dent in this already this year. I got a Kindle for Christmas, which I LOVE. My library loans eBooks that deliver to my Kindle, which means my YA fiction can be read on the DL. (It’s a truly great time to be alive.) I still love physical books though, but again, my library is so great. I have donated many books in 2016, but have only bought one second-hand. One strategy that made it easier for me to part with the books taking up my shelf space was determining how difficult they’d be to find at the library. No more hoarding books I may never read (or re-read). The picture above shows the remaining books I own (aside from about 20 cookbooks in the kitchen). This is less than half of what I had a year ago (but let’s not discuss Hannah’s growing collection of books..)
  2. filoOrganizing/Productivity. My lists. My Filofax. Nothing else does the trick to making me feel in control of my day than keeping a paper agenda and to-do lists; I don’t think it will change. I have used planners since the 7th grade. My notes, calendar, lists, contacts, work info, ideas, doodles, etc. all fit in a small binder, and my supplies in a small canvas riggers bag. As far as hobbies go, it’s a minimalist and functional one that keeps me sane. Sorry, trees. I am, however, trying to lessen my gravitational pull toward stickers and embellishments, instead working on my doodling skills. (A girl’s still gotta decorate all the things.) I also avoid over-printing the fun printables, and use scrap paper for notes instead of post-its and virgin paper.
  3. Recipes. I am a recipe printer. I know, the shame! I have a binder of favorites, knowing if I save them on whatever device I found it on, I’ll never find it again. I have failed at having a digital method that makes any sense. Not only that, but when people give me hand-written recipes or I tear one out of a magazine, or I copy one down in a notebook, they all have to go somewhere. I need to make it a goal for the near future to tackle this digitally or at least vow to only print recipes that are either zero-waste or absolutely critical to the happiness of someone in the family. 🙂
  4. hannah paintKid Art. This is a legit category in my home already! Hannah loves all things artsy, and I don’t want to ever discourage that. We use the backs of bills and junk mail, and single-sided print outs, and random stuff from the recycle bin, in addition to always having coloring books on-hand. I am going to try to use up everything we have before getting anything new in this category. It’s tempting to, with a desire to support all creative whims, buy all the supplies! I need to remind myself that the alternatives are truly more creative – nature crafts and using what we already have.
  5. Memory Keeping. No technology will replace physical photographs and albums. I love looking through old albums and I want to pass them on for future generations. I’m currently working my way through preserving memories from our wedding (2005) to present, as well as Hannah’s baby book, using the Project Life system. Scrapbooking can get pretty out-of-hand when it comes to supplies, but Project Life relies on printed papers and pockets for photos so there’s no need for extra embellishment. All my supplies used to take up several totes and drawers, but now fits in an IKEA Raskog cart. My ultimate goal is for all my paper crafting supplies to fit in this cart (I still have some using up and donating to do, but I’m not too far off). My albums are kept on the IKEA Expidit (also shown above).
  6. Magazines. I am kicking myself for signing up for all those free subscriptions last year! I haven’t cancelled them, as they are all ending soon(ish). But I currently subscribe to 6 or 8 magazines. I read them then pass them on to others (ripping out a few things here and there). I need to cancel them all. I also recently went through all my hoarded magazines, donating and recycling most. I haven’t been able to part with my back issues of Domino (from their first printing life in the mid-2000s). I’m not sure why, but I still love flipping through them! Maybe one day soon I’ll part with them.
  7. Bills, statements, etc. I have requested e-statements and e-billing where at all possible, but that doesn’t mean we prevent all the paper. It’s crazy that some places offer auto-pay but still send paper statements! UGH!
  8. Junk mail. Beginning now, and for about 2 weeks, I’m going to keep all junk mail in a stack, then spend a couple of methodical hours demanding that it’s stopped. This means phone calls or returning some forms with their prepaid envelopes. I’ve already put my name on the lists to stop junk mail, but much of ours comes in the name of prior owners of our home! It’s been 5 years! I’ll do a post on this battle later. I also recently found this post detailing how to stop unwanted phone books (which is all of them, as far as I am concerned). I haven’t applied the tips, but I plan to.
  9. Gift-giving/cards. I’m a re-user of gift bags and tissue paper, so when you receive a gift from me there’s a 98% chance the gift wrap was previously used. As I run short on it now (as my family and friends have so lovingly been gifting me with unwrapped gifts(!), I am not replacing. I have a good stash, so it will be a while before I come up with clever zero waste gift wrap. I also have a pretty good stash of paper (upcycled and otherwise) to make cards from. Until the Christmas season, this will be an area that will be easy to prevent waste. While I love and appreciate beautifully wrapped gifts, I never perfected the art anyway. So I guess now’s the time to practice the art of beautiful zero waste gift-giving.
  10. Work paper. The final frontier. I wear many professional hats, but all my tasks seems to require so.damn.much.waste. I’ve implemented many electronic systems, but I can’t entirely avoid the paper monster. One way to avoid as much as possible is to print everything possible to PDF and save to my hard drive. I also call vendors who want a faxed PO, requesting to email instead (mostly out of necessity.. I don’t have a fax machine). I do all the supplies ordering for my offices as well, and while I’ll never convince everyone to bring their own mug instead of purchasing those paper coffee cups, I can at least request minimal packaging, buy in bulk to cut down on the packaging-to-product ratio, buy items made from recycled paper, and pick up what I can locally and deliver when I go into the office anyway (reducing the carbon footprint where I can). None of it’s ideal, but at least it’s slightly better. I’ve got a long-term goal of proposing less wasteful practices, but I haven’t actually gotten around to it yet. Does anyone have any tips on this?

As with all categories in my life, this once seemed overwhelming. But now I actually look forward making a significant dent wherever I can (and then continue to refine and improve).

So this is going to be my zero waste focus for the month of August. Here is my to-do list; I will update at the end of the month with how much progress I’ve made.

  1. Ensure I’ve signed up on all junk mail lists (for myself and my husband).
  2. Apply the phone book opt-out tips here.
  3. Hoard any/all junk mail, paper statements and bills for 2-3 weeks, then spend the time making phone calls, sending emails, and returning postage paid envelopes insisting to opt out.
  4. Cancel all the magazines I am subscribed to.
  5. Find something to propose cutting out at the office, or at least look into some alternatives to make the office a bit greener (where I can control it).

 

 

 

Advertisements

the raspberry finsbury 

I’m a paper lover.. Lists, letters, calendars, journals & scrapbooks. I keep a lot of scraps and notes, and I don’t remember a thing if it’s not written down. I’ve recently taken on more work (still mostly at home- I’m so lucky!) but it’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed when I juggle so much. It always helps to plan ahead, and to plan for balance. I recently bought my dream planner- a personal Filofax (the raspberry Finsbury, to be exact) and I LOVE it. I anguished over which Filofax to buy (it’s a big investment for a planner, and I had to carefully budget for it so I didn’t make the decision lightly). But I am content with my purchase. Here’s the outside. Such a pretty color. I’ve been really into shades of purple lately. Here’s the inside, right out of the box (I’ve modified it quite a lot):

Continue reading “the raspberry finsbury “

nursery progress

Only 5 weeks or less til welcoming a baby girl into our home (OMG), and we’ve done what we can to make sure she’s got a cute space to come home to. Babies totally know the difference, right? I can’t wait til it’s completely done (well, nothing’s ever completely done..) to reveal some pictures of the nursery, so here’s a progress update (and yet-to-do list).

IMG_2013

I shared the above picture on Instagram last night after we finished hanging the vinyl wall art we picked up at Target. I really love it! I have been trying to decide what to do over the crib for a long time; everything seemed like a potential baby hazard! Shelves or pictures would come crashing down (not that I’ve ever had anything fall off a wall before) or a canopy would surely cause suffocation. New mom paranoia! Vinyl art is the perfect solution and I finally found this one I loved.

That little white bookshelf has been everywhere in my house (and our old house, and our first apartment). It’s the perfect thing to store the cute blankets, books, stuffed things, etc I’m collecting and have saved over the years (including afghans that were mine as a baby on the top shelf!). Nothing too notable on there except this tiny wood elephant that was my grandparents’ and I think it’s so cute. I have all 4 of them, from small to big, and this is the tiniest. I made a cloche from a drinking glass and round wooden plaque I painted. I glued a broken brooch to the top of the glass. I don’t know why, but this little detail makes me smile.

IMG_2024

My parents gifted us the crib and mattress (from Babies ‘R Us) and it’s so pretty. I love the weathered grey finished and that it turns into a toddler bed, then a twin bed head/foot board. I kind of hate all nursery bedding sets I’ve found (and half of it shouldn’t be used for safety reasons anyway!) so I went with a simple white fitted sheet and fashioned my own crib skirt; really I just found some vintage fabric I liked on Etsy and cut it to size and used Velcro squares to secure it around the part of the crib supporting the mattress.

IMG_2027Moving slightly to the right, here’s the other corner of the same wall. I love how it’s all coming together. The night stand was mine as a kid, and Jonathan painted them green (Behr “Minted Lemon”) for me. The mirror above the night stand is from Target.

IMG_2029The closet is still a favorite feature. The whole room is pretty feminine, but the closet is uber girly, with coral walls and all those little dresses. The curtains are the LENDA’s from IKEA (same as my dining room and nursery window). I just hemmed them to the length needed and Jonathan installed the rod on the inside of the closet near the ceiling for me. I like it open while it’s so organized, but the curtains can be closed to cover up the chaos that will soon happen in there. 🙂 The bird and squirrel prints and frames are from IKEA, as are the baskets on the shelves in the closet.

IMG_2023The other side of the room still has some work left but I’m struggling with finishing it all. We are using my old dresser, also painted that lovely green (thanks, Hubby!) as the changing table. The changing pad takes up most of the dressed top width, so the mirror that accompanies the dresser can’t be installed until we no longer need is as a changing table. So, I haven’t decided what to hang on that blank section of wall. The owl print above the chair is an old calendar page I saved, and framed in a Target frame. The white shelf was mine from college and the bear on top was mine as a baby!

IMG_2031I really love the purple crushed velvet chair. Isn’t it a beauty? I found it at a consignment shop in Ogden and it was a steal. It fits me perfectly, and it rocks (literally and figuratively). The pillow case I made from an old vintage bed pillow case. There’s a lot of vintage clashy-ness happening in this room, and I love it.

IMG_2022I made the little hanging elephant garland just today! Well, I made the elephants several weeks ago with some scraps leftover from the quilt I’m working on, with the intentions of making a mobile. But I decided I would rather use the little animals for a beaded garland and I really love how it added something to the windows. Again, same LENDA curtains from IKEA. They are so cheap and the best!

IMG_2026My dad built the crib under the window for me, before I was born! It won’t reside in the nursery here shortly; it will be next to our bed for several months! But it’s really cute there for the moment.

IMG_2020

One final thing to share because I must: the cloth diaper stash! They are so cute, I can’t even handle it. In case you’re wondering what I picked, I have some snap Alva Baby diapers that you stuff with bamboo inserts, and some BumGenius all-in-ones with Velcro. I have collected unisex colors so they can be used on the next baby, which makes the whole thing more economical than it already is. I admit the whole concept of washing diapers is daunting, but I knew immediately it was something I wanted to try, for many reasons. The cuteness factor is just an added bonus. I mean seriously.IMG_2028

Thanks for taking the tour of our nursery so far! Here’s what’s left on the to-do list for this room:

  • Finish quilting baby quilt I am making! It will probably reside on the purple chair.
  • Hang something above the changing table/dresser.
  • Make a tissue paper garland to hang above window or off the small white wall shelf (just a fun DIY I’ve been wanting to try).
  • Get a lamp shade for the cute thrifted lamp I found. It will sit on the changing table.
  • Make a small row of mismatched knobs to hang near the door for diaper bags and such (and later for the little one’s jackets!) I have everything, I just need to put it all together.
  • Gather up diaper changing accessories and corral in cute basket or on something wall-mounted above the dresser).
  • General primping of the space. I definitely like where it’s headed but it can use a few more touches. That’s the fun part!

What do you think? Any ideas for some other fun things I can do?

dining room inspiration board

Last week I posted some house updates, including this picture of my dining area:

IMG_1292

What to do with this area of the kitchen has kind of alluded me. I don’t want to buy new furniture {switching up the chairs was fun}, or spend a lot of money on anything for the house right now, because I am saving my house budget for the yard this summer. But I also think it’s time to start making some small changes, using things I have, and adding a few things that will make it prettier and more functional.

I have been pinning images that give me fun ideas for this room. I love this one; simple white curtains and lots of plants. I’ve been meaning to plant lots of herbs indoors {kicking myself for not bringing some in from the garden at the end of the summer!!!}. That will definitely be on the agenda in a couple months {I’m afraid bringing them home from the nursery in this weather will cause them to go into perma-shock}.{Image Source.}

8135609280_32c51a7cf9_b

This dining area’s a little too shabby chic for my tastes, but I love the mismatched chairs (duh) and mostly neutral palette with a few pops of color. The mismatched candles are fun, too. {Image source.}

287245282452721448_2uwad0tj_c

This eat-in kitchen is awesome (I covet white cabinets!). The red chairs are perfect. I think I need more red in my life. {Image source.}

187954984418692974_VKDj3LJR_c

I made this little collage incorporating some of the ideas I want to get around to for the dining nook, because it’s my idea of a good time, and I like arranging ideas visually to get them outta my head and into (semi) action.

dining room update

Here’s what’s happening:

  1. Some breezy white curtains from IKEA would be a great way to make the bay window a bit less boring, but without spending a lot (four panels can really add up elsewhere). If I do nothing else on this list for a while, I should at least get to this one soon!
  2. Even though I spray-painted the light fixture to a better color, a pendant with a drum shade would balance out that side of the room a bit more.
  3. Mismatched chairs – I should paint one red.
  4. A great rug makes a room. I love Persian rugs. I want one in every room. But for the budget, I could probably find a fun rug at Urban Outfitters or IKEA.
  5. Plants! Herbs, mostly. I want to plant every type I use on a regular basis.
  6. I’ve always wanted a terrarium like the one in the middle of the table.
  7. That hanging box-shelf is from Urban Outfitters and would be perfect for above the dresser. I think it would be a pretty easy DIY hack, though. There’s a junkyard near my house that has old wooden ammo boxes that may just be perfect…
  8. A little framed mirror or art. I’m sure I could find something around the house for this.
  9. Metallic baskets! I have a few I could spray paint with metallic paint. I did that with a few smaller baskets and I love them.

Anyone else have any suggestions for this space?

july already.

If this garden snap from yesterday afternoon isn’t a sign that summer is getting away from me, I don’t know what is.

Remember what it looked like not too long ago?

Between longer-than-normal work hours, my Finance class, and various other time-suckers, nearly all my spare time’s been devoted to yard and house work – the daily maintenance kind, not the fun kind. And except for one weekend camping trip, we’ve yet to play at ALL! Pitiful.

So, with work projects winding down finally, it’s time to make the most of a new month. Here are my plans and goals for July:

  • 4th of July picnic & fireworks
  • Hit the Farmer’s Market
  • Rock climbing.. first hack
  • Host a BBQ
  • Go camping
  • Go tubing on the Weber river
  • Pay off my student loans! (:
  • Fiona Apple show
  • Finish up Finance class and map out the rest of my courses to finish my MBA.. let’s get this done already!
  • Organize the shed
  • Return failed Jasmine plant to Lowes and get a replacement
  • Finish painting the outside chairs, and get a new cushion for the lounger I got for free & fix the cushion Paisley destroyed, if possible. (:
  • Get some paving stones for in front of garden gate
  • Mount the birdhouse somewhere
  • Plant some flower pots in the garden
  • Spruce up master bathroom tub area {got some fun plans}
  • Get or make a new shower curtain for the little bathroom
  • Hang some art in the guest room {making this..}
  • Return the cabinet hardware I ordered
  • Make cherry jalapeño jelly with the bazillion cherries I pitted and froze last weekend

What’s everyone got planned for the month?

Yard Update

Yard progress is sooo much slower than house progress, so it’s been a while since I have posted anything. Not that we haven’t had lots of mini victories – we have – but that kind of blogging takes some serious time and effort. Time and effort that could be better spent actually doing the work! So, I apologize that this is a magic-of-television style post, but we suddenly have a shed and garden!

But before the unveiling, here’s a before pic for reference. This was our yard one year and four days ago:

Our back yard was sporting a dog-potty area while the rest was dirt, getting prepped to seed. Jonathan and his brothers put in a concrete pad for the shed in the corner {the junky dog kennel was in the yard when we moved in and we sold it online for a few bucks}.

And here’s that same little recessed area today:

I know, right?

Jonathan built the shed himself with a little help from his brothers and a neighbor. I love it – it’s just adorable. The blue really pops in our beige neighborhood {in a very good way}.

We fenced it in because Miss Paisley just cannot stay out of things. That’s a story for another day when we may consider ourselves puppy-proofing experts but right now we are still learning as we go.

We built the raised beds this winter. They are nothing fancy but they are perfect.In the picture above you can also see my really sad composting attempt {the green bin to the left of the shed}. I really need a better system. I’m basically creating a bin of smelly garbage. The little box in front of the shed is an old ammo box I got at a junk yard, and I planted some herbs in it. The yellow pot has a cherry tomato.

In the beds:

  • three varieties of heirloom tomatoes
  • red and green bell peppers
  • jalapenos
  • yellow onions
  • dragon tongue beans
  • calypso beans
  • peas
  • Napa cabbage
  • bok choy
  • carrots

We installed little garden bed sprinklers and I planted a couple weekends ago. Everything’s already making crazy progress!

This is one happy herbivore right now.:)

Because it’s fun, I want to list of all the things we’ve done in the yard in the 14 months we’ve been here:

  • Finished the fence and installed gates on either side of the house
  • Put gravel in the RV pad area {was weeds}
  • Dug out the grass, leveled
  • Installed sprinklers
  • Seeded the lawn
  • Put in flower beds along the front {planted many bushes and flowers and trees in them}
  • Planted FIFTEEN trees {seriously!? 15?}
  • Built a shed
  • Built raised garden beds
  • Started seeds indoors {which yielded about a 20% success rate..}
  • Put in a vegetable garden
  • Fenced in the vegetable garden and laid down pea gravel
  • Installed an outdoor ceiling fan on the covered deck
  • Got solar LED garden lighting for front flower beds

There’s more to do:

  • Dig out a walk-out patio under the deck
  • Extend the size of the deck, and paint it
  • Build a compost bin from pallets
  • Put a flower garden on other back corner {across from the shed}
  • Organize the shed and garage
  • Get some paving stones for the garden
  • Put an arbor around the garden gate
  • Install a path from the deck stairs to the back gate
  • Build a fire pit area
  • Plant grass in the part strip {or maybe wild flowers if I can get husband on board!}
  • … I am sure this list will keep evolving

I’ll have to post on my seed-starting experience because it’s totally funny. It was a complete experiment and failure {because it wasn’t puppy-proofed more than anything}. More yard posts to come – our front yard is really coming together nicely, too. YAY summer! What are you all working on?

 

2012 resolutions//to do list

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wishing you all the very best for this upcoming year. We ended our year right with a fun party, bubbly drinks, and lots of laughing.

I recapped 2011 and all the resolutions I made for it yesterday. I am so excited to work on my 2012 goals!

And here they are:

  1. Finish the half-marathon & the Dirty Dash
  2. Fit in fitness 4 days a week {I already do this – just a goal to keep it up!}
  3. Get my goal weight and stay there {I have been doing Weight Watchers and I am getting there!}
  4. Take 4 classes for my MBA
  5. Pay down $6,000 on my student loans
  6. Save $ for a trip to NYC for my 30th birthday {June 2013}
  7. Write 2 blog posts every week
  8. Live super frugally! Scrimp on the unnecessary to pay off student loan debt and save for trip. Some ideas:
  • Limit “extras” to $100/month. Includes clothes, shoes, books, alcohol, coffee runs, household items like décor, kitchen stuff, gym stuff including passes
  • Make my own dishsoap, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, etc.
  • Start a garden
  • Eat $1 dinners twice a week (pasta+sauce, veggie+rice, grilled cheese sandwiches, baked potatoes, pancakes…)
  • Make menus every week
  • Be a better couponer
  • Come up with a free or VERY cheap date once a month
  • Buy or make Christmas gifts months ahead
  • Reuse//revamp
  • More DIY//craftiness!
  • Blog about this monthly!

9. Lastly, some house projects that are our highest priority in 2012*:

  • Build a shed
  • Put in a vegetable garden and an herb garden
  • Paint interior doors and trim
  • SUPER organize the garage
  • Re-caulk shower, and get new or fix up old shower door {maybe frost it?} in master bathroom
  • Hang curtains in the office and spare bedroom and figure out something for the bay windows in the kitchen
  • Get outdoor lighting
  • Replace kitchen faucet
  • Make the laundry room also a functional mud room

*PS: It might seem like a lot to take on with all those penny-pinching plans, but it’s how we roll. If there’s one thing we do well in our household, it’s save on the little things so we can pay cash for the things we really want to do. The last two months of 2011 I fell out of the mindset and went rather crazy on the spending {compared to my norm} and it’s time to get back on track!

What are your resolutions and plans for 2012?