So my neighbors started composting

So I guess I'm a composting now? Here's what I've learned

So my neighbors started composting and lucky for me they created a VERY large composting box..which means it’s time to take my recycling and earth-friendly habits to the next level.

To be honest, when they first told me that this box was being created, I didn’t know much about composting. I mean, I knew it cut down on garbage/waste and helped with growing a garden, but that’s kind of sad, basic information, right? After a quick google search I can formally share that “Composting is the transformation of organic material (plant matter) through decomposition into a soil-like material called compost”.

Okay, so how do you do it?

You start by getting yourself a composting bin. My neighbors took care of this for us by making one out of pallets. You can also choose to follow the DIY route, or you can buy one. Then you just start filling it up!

Different websites take different approaches. Some are very methodical (think layering different kind of organic material and putting leaves through a paper shredder), others are a little more natural. We’re heading down that second road, throwing in various items as they become available and taking care of the pile as we go.  The big thing to remember of course, is that the point is for this organic material to break down and create this nutrient-rich soil or compost. As we all know, all waste is not created equal and therefore all waste can not just be tossed in your bin.

Here is a quick list of organic materials you can add:

  • Leaves/grass
  • Fruit and veggies
  • Coffee grinds/filters
  • Tea bags
  • Egg shells
  • Garden soil
  • Newspaper (with no color print)
  • Saw dust
  • Soil
  • Herbivorous animal waste (no meat eaters, please!)

Things you can NOT add:

  • Pet waste
  • Meat scraps/bones
  • Disposable diapers
  • Plastic
  • Synthetic fibers
  • Dead plants
  • Anything with dairy

I also learned that it’s a good idea to keep a healthy mix of the “yes” items above. Most things that I read split this list up into two categories: Green and Brown materials. They break down in different ways and produce different materials. It’s a good idea to water and turn your pile regularly, to keep air flow and discourage any foul odors.

To be honest I’m a little nervous about this endeavor. South Florida is known for an early summer and I’m just going to guess that heat and humidity probably play a rather smelly part in decomposition… sooo wish us luck! If you have tips, please leave them in the comments.. I’m sure I’m going to need them.

 

Photo via ManMade

Pinteresting Kitchens

kitchen organization inspiration

 

via

If you follow me on Pinterest you probably already know that I’m currently trying to organize our kitchen. While most of our apartment is roomy and wonderful, our kitchen just wasn’t so lucky. Its small and has minimal cabinet space and even less of a counter top. Dean always talks about some roomy kitchen being on his “must have” list every time we move… this time it’s clear that he had to give a little.

Our previous two apartments had a solid amount of kitchen space. Actually, our last kitchen had SO much space that we felt like we had to get more stuff just to fill it. Now we had to buy 3 storage/utility pieces from Ikea just to empty out our boxes and things are all over the place. Have you ever noticed how much more cluttered a space feels when it’s unorganized? If you haven’t, I’ll have you over for coffee sometimes so you can get a feel for it.

I’ll post our winning solution when we’re all done, but for now here are some of my favorite inspiration photos.

kitchen organization inspiration

I love the fact that this example not only hangs items inside the cabinet door, but the extra cork board backing also lets you use the door to attach various memos. I’m picturing cabinets littered with favorite recipes and kitchen tips in the best way possible.

 

kitchen organization inspiration

Even though Dean doesn’t want to admit it, we really need to go to the Container Store. Imagine all of the upper cabinet space you could neatly fill with little shelves like these?

 

kitchen organization inspiration

This picture almost makes me want to pull out some chalkboard paint- almost. If I wasn’t renting I’d probably do it, but from experience I’ll let you know that it’s kind of a pain to cover up. But I digress- what I really love about this kitchen is that they use their wall space. Instead of letting cooking utensils and paper towels take up important counter top space, they decided to spread the kitchen a little wider and look up.

 

kitchen organization inspiration

 

Open shelves are another great way to use your vertical space. I love that almost anything could go on these shelves- plates, bowls, baking supplies, baskets, a microwave- anything to free up your prep-space.

 

kitchen organization inspirationIf you have the space to add a cost effective industrial shelving unit like this one- I highly suggest it. We had one in our old apartment and it was seriously a godsend. Just like the open shelving concept above, this unit lets you keep some of your most used kitchen gadgets within reach, but it still allows them all to be put away when not in use. It’s probably the single kitchen item I miss the most from our last apartment and if we had the room she totally would have made the move with us.

 

kitchen organization inspiration

This easy diy bag organizer makes me feel terrible about throwing away my last coffee can. We use our plastic bags when cleaning up after Allegra, so we do keep and reuse any that we receive. That being said, our collection is a little out of control. Something like this could really help us save space in the pantry.

 

I think I have something planned for pots/pans and a few other things, but I’m still lost on my tupperwear. The lids always seem to be in the way. Tips are welcomed!

How I built my savings account

how to start a savings account

I was one of those lucky SOBs who had a job right out of college. I say lucky because even though I worked my butt off for it, you need a little bit of luck in today’s market. I say SOB because whyyyy was I so excited to start working just two days after graduation? (I highly suggest giving yourself a week or so to move and adjust.) While I was super excited to jump  right into my new life, I was also a broke college grad who didn’t have two pennies to rub together. I mean if I had $50 in my bank account on my first day at work I would be surprised.

It’s funny because I used to be a saver. I worked all throughout high school to save for college and I had 2 jobs every year of undergrad. But college life was loud and fun and expensive. Senior year alone I went on spring break with friends, my computer died, and I paid my own utilities… so really my $50 bank account probably shouldn’t have seemed so surprising when I was only making minimum wage.

Luckily my family is extremely loving and supportive so they helped me with the deposit on my apartment and my dad lent me a car so that I could start an adult life, but I’m way too independent of a person to want to use their generosity for too long. So I put myself on a strict saving plan and here’s how it worked:

I opened two checking accounts and a savings account.

  • Checking Account One was for BILLS. This is where my direct deposit was sent. I had no debit card for this account, just checks for bills.
  • Checking Account Two was for GENERAL SPENDING. I was allowed to use it for fun, but it’s also where my grocery money came from so I had to prioritize a little. I got a debit card for this account for easy use.
  • As you can guess, the Savings Account was for SAVING. The rule was the money went in, not out–Emergency use only!

Everyone has a different bill budget and fun budget. For me at the time, I wanted to keep $1000 in my bill account at all times. It was important to me to know that as soon as a bill came in it could go straight out, no questions asked. Since my various utilities and student loans all came in at different times of the month, this was pretty reasonable. When a new check came in and I had extra money in my bill account, I would move some of it into my spending account and a little into my savings account. Once in a blue moon (or during a glorious three-paycheck month) I would be able to save a solid amount of money per month, but for the most part I was throwing in $50 here, $100 there, whatever I knew I wasn’t going to need.

I’m a very visual person, so keeping my spending money away from my bill money really helped me understand the reality of how much money I actually had available to spend each month. At a quick glance I knew if I had enough money to go to the movies and meet friends for dinner or if I had to go grocery shopping first.

So did it work? Well within that first year I was able to go from living paycheck-to paycheck (with no cable, internet, or couch) to an adult with real work clothes, a real couch, premium cable & high-speed internet, plus almost 10% of my annual salary in savings. #winning

 

Unfortunately as my savings grew I got more and more relaxed with my budget, so I wasn’t saving as much over the last 2 years. Then we had to spend a good chunk of that savings when moving down to Florida last fall, but the good news is that Dean and I now get to practice some saving together. Do you have any saving tips for us?

 

PS- Tips for your next job interview.

photo source unknown

Interview Prep- Part two

what to wear and how to prepare for an #interview

 

 

Over the last few months Dean and I have been actively job hunting. I forgot how painful this process is! I feel like I have a hundred different resumes for various jobs and then I have even more cover letters. My computer is overly packed out with personal information, but of course these are just the beginning. You still have to fill out the individual job applications, maybe go through a background check and then you’re waiting for a call or email to show up. And then after days/weeks/months, you’re lucky to get a few interviews. This job hunt thing is no joke! So when I get a call requesting an interview, you better bet that I’m going to do everything I can to put my best foot forward. Here are my favorite tips…

Last week we talked about how to research and mentally prepare for an interview and I promised a follow up. While being mentally prepared is SUPER important, it’s not enough. It’s kind of sad, isn’t it? You can give amazing answers all day, but if you don’t look the part then you just might lose out on that job. Don’t let this happen to you!

  • COME PREPARED– Remember when we were talking about bringing a list of questions for you to ask your potential employer? Well it wouldn’t look right to just waltz in with a folded paper filled with questions in your back pocket. We want to look professional and fully prepared. So this means you’re going to bring a sleek portfolio with you. Inside that portfolio you’re going to have the following:
    • multiple copies of resume (on nice paper!)
    • copy of references (also on nice paper)
    • questions for the end of your interview
    • extra paper or a small notebook

There may come an interview where a professional doesn’t have your resume on hand or maybe they ask for a list of references at the end of your meeting. Sure you can follow up with this stuff later, but why wait? Before your interview head out to the store and buy some nice resume paper. Print a few extra copies of both your resume and references to have on you just in case. Then because those follow up questions are so important, you’re going to have your favorite written down for your self with some extra room/paper for you to take notes if needed.

  • PUT THOUGHT INTO YOUR OUTFITThis is one we all have heard before, right? You are what you wear, after all! When it comes to interviews, I think you’re way better off over-dressing compared to under-dressing, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should wear the same suit and call it a day. You want to wear what best fits you and what best fits your industry. You want your interviewer to see you fitting in with their company, and you want to feel great about how you are presenting yourself. It’s just another reminder that this interview business goes both ways!  I work in higher ed, so there are definitely times that we have to wear suits. With that in mind, I’ve always worn suits to my interviews. However, Dean works in the fitness field. He’s worn suits to some interviews and slacks and a nice polo to others. Nicole also gave a great example when she showed off what she wore to her recent creative interview. It totally depends on the company you’re interviewing for. However, if you find yourself stuck go for nice slacks, a great blouse, a power blazer, and a sleek bag. (mix and match options below!) 
  • FOLLOW UP– Before going to my first ever professional interview, I sat down with my college’s career center. Here I got tons of great tips like the ones I’m sharing with you here. One of those tips was to write a follow up letter fitting for the person who interviewed you. Take some time to seriously think about this. It may seem trivial, but following up the right way can really have a big impact. Are you applying for a tech based company? A thank you email is probably just fine. Are you applying for more of a creative type job? Maybe you can create your own thank you card to send! My first boss was very professional, and a bit more on the traditional side. I ended up typing up a more professional letter and printing it out on resume paper. I signed my letter and since I lived nearby, I handed it to the front desk woman the next business day. I got a phone call within the hour that the director had received my letter and wanted to offer me the job.
    • Also, remember that extra paper you brought with you? Here’s something very important to write down: the names of your interviewers. I always suggest getting yourself a business card of your interviewers, but sometimes the person won’t have one for you, or maybe you’re doing a phone or skype interview and you can’t get one. It’s a good idea to write these kinds of things down just in case, because you’re going to want to refer to these names when following up. Because you’re going to follow up right? Of course you are!

So I know that’s a lot of information, but being both mentally and physically prepared are super important. Does one of these tips stick out to you? What’s the best interview advice you’ve ever been given?

Calendar by Week

weekly calendar- free printable!

During travel season I head to 3-5 different places for meetings each day. I type each meeting into my calendar and then I usually print out a copy to keep in my car. But even with all of these technology support options, I still find that writing out my schedule helps me get a better idea for the week I am building.

With this in mind I made a quick little printable that just gives me an empty week that I can fill in. I got some positive reviews from my office, so I thought maybe someone out on the interwebz was searching for something similar.  If you want to use this simple weekly sheet, just click on the above photo, save it to your computer, and print it out. If you run into any trouble, let me know!

PS- Do you like the idea of these kinds of printables? What calendar ideas would help you better plan your day?