apartment

Moving Box Madness

Almost immediately after our wedding, and then our honeymoon, K and I packed up our tiny apartment and said goodbye to our first place together.

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I was pretty sad about it because I get emotionally attached to things and places. There were so many good memories in that apartment!

What was even sadder though was the amount of waste that could have been if I had not been conscious of it the entire moving process.

The Boxes

We had some boxes saved in the basement from the previous move and purchased many, many more to pack up our belongings. On top of those boxes, we had tons of boxes from all of the registry items that we could finally fit into our apartment.

Just so many boxes.  Everywhere!

moving boxes

Just a small sample of the amount of boxes

Luckily, I was able to give away pretty much all of the moving boxes for them to be reused again. I gave some to my mom to pack up all those lanterns for our wedding, I posted some on Craigslist and gave some to a friend who was moving shortly after us.

The Plastic Bags

What was worse than the boxes, was the plastic packaging! As we opened new small appliances from our registry the amount of plastic bags just piled up to the point where I filled an entire gigantic bag with them.

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Recyclable plastic bags can be brought to your local grocery store and usually are not accepted in curbside recycling because the bags get caught in recycling machinery. So I just saved all the little bags until I filled up a big one and kept it in my car until I went to the grocery store next.

The Bubble Wrap

On top of the boxes and the plastic bags was the bubble wrap. So much if it. I have given some away, but still have plenty that I have posted on Buy Nothing Facebook groups. There have been a few leads, but no follow-ups so far. Any readers need some bubble wrap?!

While we usually purchase furniture pieces secondhand (we already bought a desk from Craigslist), we did get some new pieces that reminded me of why I hate ordering stuff.

For instance, our new bed frame was delivered 2 days early when K was out of town and was for some reason put down this unfinished set of stairs in the front of our apartment. It was so heavy that I couldn’t get it out alone and had to call in reinforcements. Thanks, Amazon.

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At least the bed frame came early because our new mattress didn’t show up at all. Through countless calls and legitimate hours on the phone with UPS, we ended up having to pick up our mattress from the customer pickup center. Not ideal.

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As destroyed as the box was, fortunately, the mattress itself was okay. Ugh, eye roll.

I am so glad that we are basically done with finding pieces we were missing for our new apartment. The boxes, the plastic, the styrofoam, it was just so overwhelming.

If you aren’t convinced yet, read Buzzfeed’s recent piece, “The Hidden Environmental Cost of Amazon Prime’s Free, Fast Shipping.” I for one am not a Prime member and happily accept the standard shipping.

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Day of Firsts: Spring & Seedlings

Happy first day of spring!

Our baby herbs are now just over one week old and sprouting like crazy.

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The basil, chives, and microgreens have all sprouted and we are waiting on the spinach and mint to make their first appearance.

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Starting to Sow: An Apartment Herb Garden

We are finally sick of buying copious amounts of cilantro and basil to never use it all. So we decided to start growing our own.

I have a history of killing plants, so I am a bit concerned about how this will end up. Below is the photographic evidence of 2 of my plants that had untimely deaths. Rest in peace, my sweet plants.

Since this is our first attempt at growing our own food for consumption, we decided to take a cautious approach and not get too crazy about it. We bought a little greenhouse that will grow 36 plants (we made the assumption that some would not survive). After joking that we were going to grow corn and watermelons in our tiny apartment, we settled on the herbs and vegetables below.

  • 2 types of basil
  • Microgreens
  • Chives
  • Spearmint
  • Spinach

herbs

We sowed 2-3 seeds in each peat pellet, with each herb getting its own row.

baby herbs

Day 1, 3/12/17

Now we have to wait until the seeds sprout. Then, we remove the dome and place the seedlings in a sunny spot. Once we have full leaves, we will transplant our little babies into some bigger pots.

Stay tuned!

 

Some Tiny Houses Have Bigger Kitchens

Our kitchen is SMALL. When people complain about having a small kitchen, they have no idea how small ours actually is. While it is not tiny house small,  it’s very small for something that is not a tiny house! We can fit a maximum of 4 people in our kitchen, and that would be just standing there, no movement allowed. There is barely enough room for two people to cook, so K kicks me out most of the time. Fine with me!

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This is basically it. To the left of the fridge is where the kitchen ends.

We don’t even have a full-size fridge or oven, but I am not complaining about that.

We are low on counter space and low on usable space, so we had to start getting creative. As you can see in the above picture, our cutting board acts as extra counter space. Sometimes I will put it on top of the sink if I need more space to work on that side of the kitchen.

From the very beginning, we knew the pots and pans were going to take up too much room in one of our precious 3 drawers, so a pot rack and “S” hooks keep them contained over the stove and out of the way.

 

copper pans

Additional copper pots from my Grandmother have been added since this photo was taken.

The microwave was taking up too much valuable real estate on our countertop, which caused us to have to move anything on the counter in front of it to open it. Our solution was to raise it up. We then had space to store bread and goodies on top of and below the microwave. I ended up using an extending shelf made for organizing your cabinet. It fit with the kitchen and we could always end up using it later.

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We have space above and below the microwave now!

While we really only have 3 cabinets, one is dedicated to dishes/glasses. So only 2 are left for storing dry goods. That is plenty of space, but these cabinets are very tall. I am not a short person, but I have to use a fold-out step stool to reach the top shelves. We had to organize so that the things we used the most were on the bottom and easiest to get at. Things used less often, like popping corn, were relegated to the top.

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A shoe box and Tupperware worked just fine for this.

In the case of the cabinet over our fridge, it impossible to reach anything in the back. Things kept getting lost in there, so basically now we have way too much salt. To alleviate this, we used a system of categorized boxes that we could pull out when we needed. I wasn’t going to pay money for a plastic box, so I used a shoe box and the bottom part of a large piece of Tupperware. One box has all our oils/liquids, while the other has pasta and grains. There is a third box in one of our precious drawers that holds all our baking needs together.

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I can only reach things that are at the very front of the cabinet over the fridge.

Last, but not least, underneath the sink can always get a little unruly. To keep together cleaning essentials, we used a plastic bucket that had been a part of a wedding guest gift. At first, I did not know what to do with the bucket, but we put it to good use. Works for us!

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FYI that is my compost sitting in the container on the right.

Overall, we have a tiny kitchen, and I am okay with that. It keeps things contained and controlled. It is pretty easy to clean, I just have to spin around in a circle. It also keeps us from collecting/buying unnecessary items because we have absolutely nowhere to put them!

Using What We Already Have

After moving in, K still had a perfectly good IKEA HEMNES mirror that we really did not know what to do with. We were not using his HEMNES dresser anymore and already had a mirror in the bedroom. So, for the past two weeks it has just been leaning up against the wall, getting in the way of everything.

It so happens that the mirror that came with our apartment’s bathroom was in really bad shape (so bad that I am not even going to post a picture of it) and we had planned on replacing it since we moved in. I had casually perused bathroom mirrors on the internet, but really we already had a perfect mirror leaning against the wall all along.

Since the bathroom is white on white on white, the black frame was much too dark. To go with the beachy vibe of our shower curtain and bath rug, we chose to paint it a blue ocean breeze.

mirror before

This whole project was finished in just over 24 hours. Last night I taped up the mirror, using an outdated bike lane map to cover it up.

Fun Fact: You cannot buy spray paint in the City of Chicago

Over the weekend, when we asked the employee at Home Depot where the spray paint was, her response was “Anywhere outside Chicago.” At first I thought she was joking, but then we did some research and it is true!  It is an attempt to curb graffiti. With no intent but to fix up our mirror, K picked some up when he was out in the suburbs and I got started on the project last night.

I craftily brought the mirror outside on to our fire escape landing and propped it on our compost bucket (serving double duty!) Since it is not a big outdoor space, it took some maneuvering to get all sides and angles of the frame. There were multiple times I probably could have tumbled down the stairs….all in the name of upcycling.

The frame dried really quickly because I used KRYLON COVERMAXX . It dries in 10 minutes and can be handled in 1 hour! After a while of leaving outside and periodically checking to make sure a pigeon did not poop on it, I brought it inside to fully dry overnight.

Some quick touch ups in the morning and it was ready to go! I waited a full 24 hours before actually handling and hanging the mirror to ensure it was dry.

mirror drying

There was already a screw in the bathroom wall to hang the previous mirror on so we decided to wire the back of the mirror instead of screwing more holes in the wall. I drilled two small screws into the back of the frame and strung picture hanging wire between them.

And now for $3, our bathroom looks a bit more cool, and we used something we already had. 🙂

mirror finished

 

How To: Compost in Your Apartment

I have never composted before and I am so excited to start!

I originally met Farmer Jon at Environmental Industry Night in January and when he told me about what he did, I was amazed. Not only does he personally collect composting from around the City, but he does it BY BICYCLE! How cool is that!?

Since I have a bit of a cycling background, I was all about supporting his endeavor and knew when I moved to the City this was something I wanted to try.

After being in the apartment for 4 days, I signed up for Healthy Soil Compost and received my 5-gallon collection container the very next day. While we don’t have any green space, we do have a fire escape, and that is where I will be keeping our composting.

I signed up for pick up once a month, which comes out to only $0.50 a day. Not too shabby.

For the time being, I am using a plastic screw top container to hold my food scraps until it becomes full, which is a lot faster than I thought it would be. The container does not smell (yet) unless you actually stick your nose in the container, which I advise you do not do.

It was surprising how quickly we filled up the compost bucket, which is sitting out on my fire escape landing currently. When the kitchen container is full, I pop open the door and dump the contents inside!

We are only 2 weeks in and so far we have collected:

  • carrot peels
  • banana peels
  • apple cores
  • green pepper insides
  • egg shells
  • flowers
  • asparagus ends
  • bread crusts
  • potato skins
  • onion skins
  • lettuce/spinach

Healthy Soil Compost provides a handy guideline for what they can and cannot take. If I am unsure about something, I always check it first.

I always have to remember that you can compost egg shells, but not eggs!

Read more about Healthy Soil Compost in the press here:

How To: Combine 2 People’s Stuff in 750 sq. ft.

Moving day has come and gone!

For the most part, the apartment looks presentable, except that we have a few piles of things we are not sure where to put yet. In addition to those piles, we also have a recycling pile and a donation pile. Our building does not have recycling yet (there will be a post about this later), so I am figuring out what to do with it until then.

With the two of us having lived alone before, we had a lot of the same things, and we did not need to double up on them in our 750 square foot apartment. So some things had to go!

Here is how we did it:

  1. I pulled all my kitchen stuff out of the attic before we moved and we went through it all together, marking what we already had and what we needed. If we had doubles of something, we decided whose was in better condition and that one was kept. The one in poorer condition was to be donated.
  2. Better quality was pretty much how we decided a lot of things. I had a better couch, so K’s was sold on Craigslist. I also had a better bedroom set than K’s wobbly IKEA dresser. (That will be getting the boot soon)
  3. Since our apartment is pretty small we knew that certain larger items would not fit. These were donated or left in storage.
  4. When I moved back from DC, I sold all of my furniture and left it there. Thank goodness I did. We definitely didn’t need even more duplicates than we already had. I even sold a few pieces that I had pulled out of a dumpster, so I made a profit off those!
  5. If something didn’t jive with both of us or bring at least one of us joy, then it did not get to come with us.

There are a couple of things that we still have too many of though and that includes:

  1. Pyrex
  2. Candles
  3. Pillows
  4. Blankets
  5. Books

I personally think those are great things to have too many of though! Overall, we still have plenty of space to you know, live. So it is all good. 🙂