Moving + Decorating on a Budget: A Newlywed’s Moving Survival Guide

“Let’s move!” we said.

“It’ll be exciting and fun!” we said.

“Let’s move in August in the high heat of summer!” we said.

Next time we move, we’ll probably do it in like, winter.

Not summer. Sweat. Bees. More sweat.

PLUS there was the added factor that wife is to change as cat is to bathtub full of water.

So it took a little prodding to get me out of our tiny nest and into a different not-as-tiny-nest (“But I like hearing the neighbors through the walls! It makes me feel all cozy!”)

But – I’m happy to announce – the change and the bees and the sweat was all WORTH it, folks!

Michael was right.

Our new home is the best place for our little family.

I love it. A lot.

I don’t even miss the neighbors‘ footsteps or the smell of what they’re having for dinner each night.

Plus, Tucker has like 5,324 new stalking spots, so he’s pretty happy about it. (Still trying to figure out how to fend off the stairwell sneak attack. So far, it’s Tuck: 76, Humans: 0.)

Anyway, my favorite part has been decorating our new place to fit our needs (nothing breakable because Tuck will destroy it – except for the candlesticks that I TAPED DOWN to the mantle), and decorating the spaces to reflect who we are and to make our home a haven for us.

My sister worked with our budget and helped us pick out colors and lovely pieces for our space, and she’s brilliant at it. If it were up to me, the whole house would be pink and glittery, so I think Michael was especially happy for her help.

Before + After Pictures of our New Nest!:

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Wall Color // “Moonshine Grey” by Benjamin Moore // found at Home Depot. Pillows // Target. White Chair // IKEA. Mirror // IKEA. Coffee Table Tray // Target. Ottoman // hand-me-down, covered with duck cloth from JoAnn Fabrics (made by mama!). Lamp // IKEA. Side Table // church garage sale, people!

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Blue Rug // Overstock.com. Blanket Basket // HomeGoods.

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Curtains // IKEA. Side Table // HomeGoods. Vase + Flower (now destroyed by Tuck. That’s how I learned to tape things down, unfortunately) // HomeGoods. Mail Holder // Target.

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Occasional Chair // HomeGoods. Candlesticks // IKEA. Frames // Target. Painting // Lindsay Cox. Cat Lounge + Cat…Pet’sMart 🙂

Some other tips we picked up along the way:

  1. Embrace the chaos – it’s there to stay until a few months after you move in. Might as well accept and enjoy it for the adventure that it is!
  2. Increase the # of boxes you think you need substantially. If you count your belongings and decide you’ll need 50, get 75.
  3. Pack room by room or section by section, starting with the room you use the least to maintain a sense of normalcy for as long as possible!
  4. Once a box is packed, label it and indicate which room it WILL go to once it’s moved in. Michael and I color coded our labels to make it even easier (ex: green = kitchen). 
  5. Set a budget. Know that moving is expensive and you’ll probably go over the budget a little, but set a budget so you have realistic goals.
  6. Whole Foods hot bar is a great option for a “home cooked” meal prepared for you the fast food way!
  7. Be content with the fact that your new home won’t look perfect immediately. With budgeting and the time it takes, it will take months! And that’s kind of the fun part. Watching it take shape. Is it ever really done, anyway? Probably not. 😉 

Enjoy your day! Blessings,

Robyn

8 Easy Ways to Stay Productive as Your Own Boss

Working for yourself is all fun and games until you start having one-sided conversations with your cat…then you might need a little motivation. 😉

That being said, this past month marks my 1 year anniversary of working for myself! WOOHOO!!!! Cue the fireworks, people!!

My career choice – God’s career choice for me – has been nothing short of His gift for my soul.

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I can’t imagine a day now without exercising my creativity through writing. And neither can I imagine a day without playing with my favorite littles in the whole world outside of a classroom…talk about the best inspiration!

So, best part about working for myself? No one tells me what to do.

Worst part about working for myself? No one tells me what to do.

I’m sure it’s with that in mind that lots of people ask about what my work day looks like. 

“How do you stay motivated?”

SO – aside from becoming a cat lady and hounding instagram with pictures of Tuck – here is a list of the ways I’ve learned to not only stay productive, but to really thrive in my unique (and 1 year strong!! eek!) working environment.

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8 Easy Ways to Stay Productive as Your Own Boss

  1. Wake up early.

  2. Establish a routine. (But if you’re a creative, make it a loose routine. Give yourself some leeway and grace for the mornings when you’re in the ZONE and don’t want to take that scheduled break or when you’re enjoying making pumpkin bread and the work can wait for thirty more minutes.)

  3. On that note… work in chunks of time and take breaks. I do it this way: 45 minutes of straight work, then 15 minutes of a break that has nothing to do with whatever creative project I’m working on. Like, laundry. But I don’t usually do that. Because….laundry. (Side note: I’ve even read that if you work in a regular office from 9-5, you’re more productive if you work in chunks of time, too, even if your break is simply walking to the water machine and back.)

  4. Text a friend at least once during the day – this provides human interaction during the work day because…the cat doesn’t count.

  5. On a similar note, if you don’t work from a rented office, get out of the house at least once a day! Even if it’s just to Target. Scratch that. Don’t go to Target. You’ll spend $300. Go to Home Depot instead…?

  6. Complete the hardest task first thing! (Not my favorite tip. But it’s true.)

  7. Exercise – with somebody! Endorphins and extra human interaction?! Jackpot!!! (Another side note: this great exercise program called Piyo is literally the bomb-dot-com.)

  8. When your established routine says it’s the end of the day, STOP. Don’t overwork and burn yourself out! Your work will be there tomorrow. I promise! 

“And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God…” Col 3:23, MSG translation.

Now go and have a wonderful and productive day!

Blessings to you,

Robyn

Things Learned As a Young, Jesus-loving Post-Grad Female – Two Years In

1.     Everyone doesn’t have it all together – no matter what Facebook and Instagram make it look like.

        You can see mine and Michael’s wedding pictures on social media, but what you don’t see is the months of pre-marital counseling, hard work, tears, and prayers that got us there with God’s love and help.
        You will see pictures of friends’ new jobs and their smiling faces on the way to their first day of work, but what you don’t see is the months and even years of job searching it took to get them to that exciting day. You are not the only one searching.
        You will see pictures (someday!) on my Instagram of the house that I am so excited to buy. What you won’t see is the year I spent living with my parents to save money on rent.
       As Louie Giglio said, “We don’t Instagram a lot of our reality, do we? If it’s not a good hair day, no selfie today!”
I’m all for sharing delightful, joyful pictures depicting God’s faithfulness and goodness and fluffy kittens and beautiful sunsets and elaborate dinners. My Instagram is proof of that. But I also finally realize that we are all real people behind our social media. No one has it all together. But, praise God! He does. And He holds everything together (Colossians 1:17).
      Jesus said “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). It takes wisdom and self-control, but I can’t let comparison steal, kill, and destroy my self-worth via social media. Jesus came so that we can have life, and have it abundantly – even if that abundant post-grad life feels different sometimes from those pictures on Facebook because it’s lived under the roof of a parents’ house to save money on rent, is spent searching for a job, is spent working hard for a marriage, or is spent at a job other than the one you wanted right off the bat. Despite the mirage of Facebook and Instagram, everyone is real. And we are promised an abundant life from the One who loves us most.

2.   Being anxious doesn’t add a single hour to anyone’s span of life. Matthew 6:27. I need this reminder daily. Hourly, even.

3.   When having a particularly bad day, it’s best to go do something active and listen to “Gold” by Britt Nicole or any fast songs by Mandisa. Seriously, do it. It will change your day. Mandisa understands – and she’ll make you dance on the treadmill while she’s at it. Really.

4.   On that note – Go for the run! Eat the ice cream, too! Both are glorious treats to end any work day. I would advise eating the ice cream second, however.

5.   Pray for the people who hurt you. Really. It’s healing for you, and it’s a blessing for them. Plus, you need God to do it. That’s the best position to be in.
Praying for hurtful people is hard, sanctifying, and beautifully freeing. I love the God we serve. He heals and blesses us in miraculous ways.

6.   Italian bread crumbs make any meal taste better. Literally. Pasta, chicken, green beans, everything. It’s a good idea to keep the 24 oz can handy in the pantry.

7.   It’s okay to start at square one. In fact, now I think it’s good to start at square one. I think sometimes as graduates we expect to have the jobs our parents had and the house our parents had and the budget our parents had, but what we forget is they started at square one, too. And they worked hard.

8.   Cleaning is a necessary evil. I like to start at square one with cleaning, too. For instance, I’ll put a load in the wash. Then I’ll take a break to watch a Boy Meets World rerun. Next I’ll switch the laundry. And then I’ll watch Love It or List It. Then somehow the cleaning gets done. Michael probably has a lot to do with that. But really, there’s nothing like getting home from work to a vacuumed carpet. It’s the little things.

9.   Coffee.

10.   Focusing on other people around you helps put things into perspective. If you tend toward worrying incessantly (like me) it’s also one of the best cures for anxiety, alongside thankfulness.

11.   Watching Pride and Prejudice is a surefire way to make any bad day better. If you’re female.

12.   You’re beautiful. Praise the Lord! All beautiful, actually – flawless. That’s in the Bible (Song of Solomon 4:7). So it’s true! Woohoo!! Don’t let the “frumpy” days fool or define you.

13.   A wise person once told me, “The work WILL get done.” And it does! It always does! At some point you need to take a break and do something you love. The work will get done. Far better to finish the work refreshed than to finish it cranky and at 1 in the morning.

14.  Reading scripture is not about checking a good deed off your list. It’s about being lovingly reminded in the midst of the busy work week of who you are and to Whom you belong.

15.  Upon entering the working world – give yourself grace. Something I think God has taught me is that He is not checking logged hours of reading the Bible or praying. No, that’s a perfectionist mindset. When you enter the working world, it’s different than college. Much less of your time is your own. Your day looks different. Your job can drain you in ways that a marathon of finals in college doesn’t even come close to. The pressure can feel constant – new employee, you are NOT ALONE in feeling that way! But what God promises is that He is the Constant One (Hebrews 13:8), and He loves to meet us where we are. Jesus surprises me with the reality that spending time with Him isn’t about proving that I love Him. It’s Him proving His steadfast love and graciousness. Performance-based mindsets need humility to receive that love. And about that constant pressure from your job – from personal experience, I bet the pressure is from your own “standards” and I bet you are doing an awesome job. ☺

16.   Your name. Your name happens to be Beloved Child of God (Eph 5:1). The world will try to call you lots of different things. Lots of things. Not always in words, even. Not always bad names, either. But, sometimes we take on burdens and identities based on how someone treats us. It’s a daily choice to remember your true name: Beloved. God has the final say. Rest in that.

17.   But really, above everything else, Jesus. All these good things come from Him. And He is good. All the time (Lamentations 3:22-23).

18.   Coffee. It’s worth mentioning again.

Praise God, for His loving mercy on us post-grads and all His children! ☺

Blessings to you, and peace,

Robyn