Making Your Home Work For You

Home is supposed to be a haven. It is the place you relax, spend time with your family, maybe you work from home and your house is also part office. The last thing your home should be is stressful or unwelcoming or a place you want to avoid at all costs. 

I’ve moved a lot in my life. I’ve basically lived in every suburb area in Vegas. Growing up my house was always a mess and the only stress free area I had was my room. Which, my friends would tell you was probably littered with Dr. Pepper cans at any moment. They’re not wrong. But the numerous cans were organized in neat little rows on my computer desk waiting for me to take it to the trash can in the garage. It was my (very) organized mess. I’ve learned that I’m someone who cannot work in messes. The living room being a mess stressed me out, the kitchen looking like a bomb exploded stressed me out. I was a full fledged adult getting anxiety over the state of the house before I even turned 18. So I made my bedroom work for me and it was my oasis. It was my safe place where even the messes were organized and didn’t cause me stress. 

Well, all that got channeled into a very useful adult skill. That and all my HGTV watching since I was a teenager. I can make any space work for what I need (and now what my family needs) even if the space isn’t ideal or the size isn’t great. I’m great at making organizational systems. I can organize anything, including the junk drawer, because my junk drawer is definitely organized. 

Fun fact: I’ve had this post scheduled for about a month and before I started to write this, my washer decided to break and flood my entire first floor. There was water everywhere! I came home to my house being in my backyard while my hubby and my friend tried to sweep all the water out. It was all very interesting. Now we are dealing with all the aftermath of the damage, but in the mean time, I’ve decided to look at the bright side of getting to re-decorate the areas and the things the water damaged. So I thought I would use my most recent experience to share what I did to make our home work for us despite the fact that it is the middle of a construction zone. 

1. Define the purpose.

We are constantly asking what the purpose of gadgets are. What is our purpose? Why do I need an air fryer? Yet, we don’t do that with our spaces. Granted, the kitchen and bathroom have obvious purposes. That doesn’t mean those spaces cannot be pretty. But if you have a drop zone, make it work and as not cluttered as possible.  Which is what I did with mine. When I first made my drop zone, I used a bookshelf we already had and just re-located it. (Which is #1 thing I do when I want to move things around, I grab stuff from other areas.) We got a super small weekly calendar for meal planning and I reorganized some stuff and freed up a basket to use for shoes. Well, the water ruined all that so I got to replan. So I really sat down and really thought about what I wanted the drop zone to be and what would work best for my family. And then I created it. We needed storage space and a calendar for a visual of what was happening each week, a place to drop packages other random things that need to go upstairs. Plus I wanted a place to drop my purse after getting home from work. 

2. Consider the size

Size matters! When we were about to move into our house, we nabbed an end table and coffee table set that was beautiful for under $100. Well, when we moved into our house, we discovered the coffee table was too big for the space. Then I wanted to add more seating and things got complicated. So after a year of trying to figure out how to make the coffee table work in a space it was clearly too big for, we decided to start looking at getting a new coffee table. It was officially added to our project, future list, whatever list I had going on in my head. And it sat on that list for a while because I never really knew what size of table we could fit comfortably in the living room. Flood to the rescue. We decided to not bring the coffee table back into the house and keep it as a table for the backyard so I grabbed the small IKEA lack table we have in our garage. Seriously, this table is a life saver. It is the one thing I’ll store in my garage despite the fact that it breaks all my rules on keeping things around. So we used the IKEA table as our interim coffee table. Which was actually helpful because we liked the size but didn’t think it would make a long term solution because we thought we might need a little more room. So during our IKEA trip (because IKEA is awesome) we found the cutest little nesting table. Now my living room feels complete and not overcrowded. 

3. Move things around

Your decor is not anchored to where it is! Neither is your furniture! There are zero things anchoring your stuff to where it is. Outside of cabinets. You probably don’t want to move your kitchen on a whim. My point is that if you’re not feeling a space, you can change it up and you don’t have to go shopping to do it. Repurpose and reuse that cool thing you have on the table in the hallway by putting on the bookshelf in your living room. That cool statue of an elephant you have in your bedroom? Stick it in the office! See what I’m getting at? Whenever I am feeling bleh about my spaces, I just start moving things around until it feels new. Which usually only ends up being a few things, really. I’ll move a chair to a new corner. I’ll change up how my desk is organized. I actually don’t buy much decor. It’s just been bigger pieces to replace ruined pieces, like this flood deal, and when I fixed my desk area to be a space I could work in consistently. 

That my friends is how I make my house work for me.

Happy Spaces // Desk Area

Welcome to happy spaces! I think this might end up being a series about spaces that make me happy and inspire me. Originally, I planned the title of this post to be happy spaces to talk about my desk area because my office space has been a few years in the making and I’m FINALLY done with it. It is done and I’m happy with it, hence happy spaces. However, once I started playing with the thought of happy spaces, I realized that I do that with all the spaces in my house. Design and decor is a little hobby of mine, on top of DIY-ing all the things possible. So with that in mind, this is probably going to be a series about all the spaces in my house, plus places that inspire me. It’s going to be fun. 

My office area has been the sore spot in my side for a few years. As a writer, I need a space to write and feel inspired. For me personally, I need spaces that are pretty and bright. I like light and windows. I do not enjoy feeling like I walked into a vampire’s den. Enter my old apartment that felt exactly like that. We dubbed that apartment the tiny apartment. It is the smallest of all the apartments we lived in. It was under 1,000 SQF and had exactly three windows that allowed light into the apartment. Well, two windows and the patio door. One of the windows and the patio door were completely covered by the stairs and the walkway for the upstairs apartment, combine that with the way the apartment faced, the only person getting any light anywhere was Little Man in his room with his unobstructed window. That apartment really forced me to get creative with my spaces. I had so little of it that every single piece of furniture and anything in the house had to have a specific spot and be multi-functional. Eventually, I got a small desk that could fit in the corner next to my closet in my bedroom. I put it right next to the window so that I could get whatever light would come though. I added a shelf above it for a plant (that died), a picture my father-in-law drew for me, and a letterboard. It was my corner of inspiration. I told myself that the space was perfect and wonderful and everything I needed. In reality, I had no space on the desk for more than my keyboard and my mouse (I had a desktop back then) and I had zero room for writing on anything if I needed to take notes. However, I had absolutely no where else to put my desk nor the space to have a bigger desk (like the one had my eye on at IKEA for months). 

Then we got to move! We found a townhouse and moved and that was a whole whirlwind. However, because we were moving into a house and we already had a layout for our stuff in mind (remember, I’m a planner) I knew exactly where my office space was going to go and I had room for the desk I wanted at IKEA. We actually went to IKEA and a few other places to upgrade some of our small furniture (like our couch) in order to fit the house. When I say couch, we had a futon for a couch for when my brother would spend weekends with us. Fun fact. We also did all this before the move so that we weren’t moving furniture we weren’t going to use.

In the new house, we had a breakfast nook area plus a dining room in our huge open concept downstairs. When I say huge, I mean it was bigger than my apartment so it feels huge. My office space would be converted from the dining room because we could just use the breakfast nook area for our dining room table. That idea worked for about 3 months. It is very distracting having an office in a living area that is busy. My husband and son would be watching a movie or something and I would just want to watch it with them. So I just never worked in my office area. Or I would make them do stuff upstairs to give me quiet while I worked. This wasn’t anybody’s favorite situation. 

We decided to move my office area upstairs to our bedroom where we already had half of it converted to hubby’s work area (he used to work from home). There was a huge open corner on the opposite side of his work area that would work perfectly for my office space. So we moved everything on upstairs and boom, his and hers office sides.

My side // “Hers” side. This is also the duel monitor situation I mention below.

This worked out for like 6 months. I upgraded my laptop and sold the desktop so I had more space on the desk to utilize for writing when I would write in my journal or study my bible.  Then I started really getting into my blog and started working on launching my podcast. I also am somebody who really enjoys using two screens when I’m working on projects. So I started changing my set up and added an external monitor. I got a keyboard and mouse. I got a monitor stand. It was a decent set up. I just lost all the room I previously had for journaling writing and things. I also felt very cramped when plugging in my mic to work on my podcast. Plus I had zero room for storing things. I didn’t want to keep doing small updates that wouldn’t work in the long run. So I started going through my Pinterest office board to figure out exactly what I wanted instead of just trying to find a solution as cheap as I could make it even if it wasn’t what I wanted. I started to go through the photos on the board and I picked the things I liked best about in the photo. So I knew I was going to get shelves to put on the wall because a large majority of my pins had shelves (My rule for Pinterest is that I pin things that make me feel sometime about the space so I can pick out exactly what I like about the photo when I have to go back. Like, I like the feeling of organization and things having a place they belong).  

Off to IKEA I went. I originally thought I was going to find some sort of cart to put underneath the desk to store things and can easily move the cart (the shelves would hold decorative things and the occasional book).However, there is like one filing cabinet that fits underneath the desk I have and it was $100, which was more than I was willing to spend on a filing cabinet that would be a temporary solution to my storage problem because it wasn’t my favorite thing that existed at IKEA. This IKEA trip was a few hours, in case you were wondering. Many of them spent in the office department trying to figure out solutions. Hubby saw this corner desk table top, that was identical to my current table top and even used the same legs as what I had at home. I didn’t think the huge corner desk would work though and I was afraid of cutting off walkway room. After another hour, we went back to the corner desk and I decided to get it and the shelves I already picked out would still work for it. At this point, it didn’t hurt to try because my other ideas were not panning out with what IKEA had (or any other store based off my searches while at IKEA).

It took me about two weeks before I realized I could put my Cricut on it and be able to do all my projects, all my journaling and bible study, and writing at my desk. Before this monster desk, my Cricut was hanging out in my laundry room and I took over the dining room table to do all my projects. My desk makes everything easier. 

Now I can finally say my office area is done. It is pretty, inspiring, bright and the most important thing, I want to work there. Every now and then I’ll change the scenery  because I get really productive being around people so I’ll go work at a library or a coffee shop. But, I’m less likely to do that these days because I just love my space so much. I have room to write in my journal. I have enough space to use the white tabletop as a background if needed. I have room for bible study time and when I’m planning out blog posts and podcasts. I have room to record my podcast and not feel cramped. I don’t say many things are perfect because there is always room for improvement. My office space though? It’s perfect. 

Adjusting to Change

There are thousands upon thousands of popular quotes regarding change. A lot of people try to convince everybody else that change is good. Then there are those that resist change like the plague. I fall in the middle that leans towards the resist side. I resist change because change makes me worry. Last week I wrote a devotional about worry and the number one thing that makes me worry is change. Sometimes, I believe those who resist change, are those who are content and see no reason that the change is necessary. I’m very content in my life, even in the storms. In fact, I feel like the crazier my life is or the more stressful my life is, the more at peace I am. However, this could be a conditioned response because I worry like nobody’s business when things are calm and good and normal seeming. I’m not used to calm, good and normal. 

Growing up, I was constantly surrounded by change. Divorce, terminal illness, moving, new schools, old schools, summer school, new friends, old friends, am I painting a good picture? What’s crazy to me is how I went through all that change growing up, with a constant revolving door of new information daily, and yet today, I fight against it. Today, I struggle with the adjustment. Perhaps, as a kid, I already knew there was nothing I could do so I just rolled with it. As an adult, I thought I can change all the things and if I was just ___ enough, I could change the outcome. A lot of lessons I’ve learned as an adult is from the mistakes of the adults around me growing up. Perhaps I viewed their mistakes harshly because I thought they could control all the things that were happening. They were adults! How could they not have control over the things that were happening? Now that I’m an adult, I’ve learned just how little adults have control over. I’ve learned that you make mistakes regardless of your control level or even knowledge level. The best I can do is make the best decisions with the information I know and pray that God will cover the rest. I’m sure the adults in my life were trying their best too.

That doesn’t make change any easier. I can go with the flow when I need to, but if I see change on the horizon, I’m instantly questioning why it needs to happen. Change forces me out of my comfort zone. Change takes away the control I think I have and that is probably why I resist it the most. Even though I know I have no control I have this illusion that I do. At least, I have a handle on things and things are going smoothly. Why do we need to change it up? I don’t need it to change.

I’ve said this before somewhere, but change is where you grow. Growing is a good thing, regardless of what anybody says. You don’t want to always be the same person forever, do you? I don’t. If someone came up to me today and said I was the exact same person I was when I was sixteen, I’d probably be slightly offended. Maybe even a little hurt. That would mean all the growth and work I’ve done over the past decade have done nothing and I don’t want to be the person that goes through something and doesn’t learn something from it. I don’t need to revisit the same lesson multiple times. I’m trying to nail the lesson the first time, you know?

So how do we adjust to change? How do we accept it and just allow the change to happen? For me, anytime I see change on the horizon, I start praying. I ask God for guidance and I ask for a willing heart to go with the flow. That is actually something I pray daily. I ask for guidance and the wisdom to know what I’m supposed to do when I need to do it. (Sometimes, I get really attached to my plans and still try to make every single thing happen the way I plan it.) When change is coming though, I know it is because God is allowing it. I have the freedom to trust is something bigger than myself and someone who sees the WHOLE picture. I only see the small amount of change coming and it terrifies me. God, however, sees how the change will effect me and how it will be good. God sees the endgame and the entire picture. God even sees the next round of change to bring you to the next step. 

A pastor I know once said that when you are living for God, you will live out your purpose. Every single change is helping me live my purpose. That is how I adjust to change.

What about you? How do you handle change? 

Currently- August

General- Have I talked about the fact that I live in a dessert? Seriously, the past three weeks have had half of the week holding excessive heat warnings. Check on your dessert friends, they are burning up. This month has been very quiet around my house. We’re trying to stay home more and do more family time. We get plenty of family time, we are just trying to stay home while we do it. When we leave the house, we end up staying out way too long and spend money we didn’t intend to spend. Hubby and I have also been working on a lot of projects together. We made him a workstation in the garage (and reorganized that garage and go rid of SO MUCH STUFF) and he is building shelves. He made me a board so I can keep track of upcoming blog posts. I also made bible tabs for my bible and I’m in LOVE with them. They are so cute.

Reading– I’m still reading Bookish Boyfriends. I actually haven’t picked it back up since my trip to Washington. I started reading some business books and books along those lines. It is a struggle to read those too. It’s been a struggle to read lately. It makes my heart a little sad. 

Listening– I quit the Saving Quinton I started listening to. I just couldn’t get into it the way that I did the first book. I might look up what happens because I’m curious but I could not keep listening to it.  I listened to the first books in the Program series. That was very interesting and scary. It reminded me a lot of Uninvited by Sophie Jordan where the government is scared of something and doing whatever they can to prevent it but since they handle teenagers they don’t care what happens to them. Although, in the Program, the program that is supposed to cure depression isn’t ran by the government, just has a lot of power. They were good books. There are a lot more in the world of the program, different story lines and what not. I’m good with what I read (listened to.) 

I’ve been struggling with music lately. I feel like I’ve been listening to the same 20 songs and I need new ones. Tell me what your favorite song is lately! 

Watching– We cancelled Netflix in favor of Hulu Live (heck yes, sports!) so I am no longer watching West Wing or Criminal Minds. We just started watching Leah Remini’s series on Scientology and WOAH. Scientology was always a weird religion to me. A sci-fi writer wrote the textbooks for a religion? Really? And I’m supposed to believe he knew what he was talking about? I’ll stick with Jesus. We’ve also been watching a lot of Cats, the musical. My son loves it. 

Writing– Projects, presentations, blog posts and Instagram captions. I started an outline for my book. It was painful. Since I’m currently on a week long break from school, I am hoping to get caught up on the outline so I can set word count goals and really get working on this book. 

Other– The project I was going to announce has been announced AND LAUNCHED! I started a podcast called Hasta la Pasta where I will talk about all sorts of fun things. It will be an extension to my blog. The first episode is live now! You can listen on the website or on Spotify right now. (I’m waiting on approval for Apple & Google Play) 

Hobbies & Why They Matter

I’ve never been someone who has a bunch of hobbies. In fact, if asked, I used to tell people I don’t have hobbies. Most people I know have hobbies like drawing, painting, hiking, sewing, etc. Are you getting the picture? So, naturally, I thought hobbies were only things that fell into those categories: nature and art. I’m allergic to nature, no lie. So I avoid it. I am also a fan of modern comforts so camping isn’t usually something I am volunteering for. I have the artistic talent of a newborn. I cannot draw a stick figure with a ruler so art is always out of the question for me. I tried sewing for a little bit, it was rather complicated and something I struggled with. Hardcore.

Despite my lack of artistic talent, I get really creative and good ideas up in my noggin. I always tend to think I can make something myself instead of buying it. A wise woman I know once told me that DIY is always better because (usually) the cost of materials is cheaper than paying for it or hiring someone to do it, AND you get to learn a new skill. Also, my husband’s first MOS is an engineer soooo he is rather handy. I’ve always been about doing things myself.

As an adult I’ve learned that hobbies are whatever you do that makes you happy. I had the wrong idea the entire time. Hobbies are the things that give you time to yourself. While I may not be the best drawer, I’m great at making cute things with cute sayings. This is something that only got easier once I got my Cricut. I also went back to writing, which I’ve learned is my passion and something I am pursuing as more than a hobby. Writing started out as a hobby though. It was a way to kill time when I was a teenager. I’ll tell that story a different day. 

I’ve learned a few things regarding hobbies since I’ve discovered I have them. Oh, I’m a huge reader too. I’ve always had a book in my hand since I was a kid. Reading all the books at the bookstore is definitely a hobby and I refuse to let anybody tell me otherwise. I digress. Back to what I’ve learned with hobbies. 

Hobbies are a mandatory.

Some might not agree with me on this. Hear me out though. For me, ever since I discovered hobbies are not just drawing and existing in nature, I’ve learned why they are so important. People who enjoy hiking usually enjoy getting away from the chaos of life. People who draw silence out the world around them and pour whatever they might be feeling into their drawings. For me, writing is where I figured out things I was dealing with in life. It is where I brain dumped all the crap going on and figured out what really mattered. All of these are good things and get you away from the chaos of life. Everybody these days seems to be preaching about self-care and how important it is. They are not wrong. Self-care if very important. If you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot take care of others. You cannot be at your full capacity when you are in desperate need of a break. You cannot draw from an empty well. When I read, I read a lot of YA (young adult) books. One of the reasons I will never give up YA is because YA books make reading an escape. The storylines in YA books are usually simple, even with series books. Sometimes we are dealing with the toppling of a government like in The Hunger Games, but even then, Katniss didn’t wake up and decide to overthrow the government, it sort of just happened. She was just trying to keep Peeta alive. The simplicity is what I enjoy. Being an adult, life is hardly simple, there are always more problems, more things to do, more cleaning, all of the above. It takes me out of the chaos of my life and inserts me into a fictional world where the (usually) the biggest issue could be solved with communication. 

Hobbies are life-giving.

How many people do you know right now who are making a side business with their hobby? How many people do you know that were able to create a business using their hobby? In today’s day we can make a business out of everything. There are plenty of people, like me, who would rather learn how to do something and make it themselves when a problem comes up. Then there are others that would rather save the time and energy and just buy whatever they are looking for. That is where your hobby comes in! Hello side gig. However, just because you have a hobby doesn’t mean you need to make money off of it. Before getting my Cricut, I used to tell myself I cannot have it because I didn’t need it. I didn’t need it because I didn’t have some side business that required the use of it. I eventually got a Cricut so I could make my son and myself shirts for our Universal trip. Ever since I got it though, I’ve discovered a whole new world of crafting that allows me to make cool stuff for myself and for my friends. I didn’t need a side business to get it for myself. (Although, it does open potential. hahaha)

Hobbies help creativity.

Today, I spent hours creating bible tabs. It took longer than I anticipated. It was frustrating at times. However, at the end, I got a beautiful product and I’m happy about. While making it, I got to think of other things I could make with this new use I found of my Cricut and how easy it was to get the paper off my cutting mat. (Last time I tried to make a card, it was a disaster.) I got inspired for other projects though, while in the process of this one. I got inspired for my book while working on these tabs because every day things happen to characters and my frustration over how much time this project took could easily be placed into a story with different circumstances and it would help make my character seem more real. Inspiration like this doesn’t come from doing the same thing over and over again. New experiences = new inspiration. I think we don’t realize how interconnected things are. Every area of life will bleed into the others. Stretching your creative muscles in a different hobby or craft can help your creativity for your job or future problems. I am a huge fan of creative problem solving. 

This is just a short list of why hobbies are important. There are plenty of reasons why you need to allow yourself have a hobby and enjoy that hobby. Don’t let the culture of today and the demand to be cool and busy allow you to take away the things that refresh your soul.