- The week before buying a house feels a lot like the week before getting married did. My brain is full of static, basically. I can’t stop saying how WEIRD everything feels.
- Because less than 24 hours before we sign all of these papers and hand over a gigantic check, I still can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that we’re really buying a house.
- I have had a series of hilarious, sitcom injuries this week – falling up the stairs at work and making the loudest clatter EVER, stabbing myself with the un-attached legs of a Lack table, slicing my finger open pretty nicely with a potato peeler.
- We finished packing last night, finally, after emergency box deliveries care of my brother and parents, and one last trip to Lowe’s for the really big boxes. I kinda don’t care that we packed everything but our solo cups, even if it means our food options amount to take out.
- The vodka tonics have been flowing. I’m concerned that the guys at the liquor store are starting to notice how often I’ve been there in the last two weeks.
- Dan told me last night that even though we sorta hate it, he’ll also kinda miss our apartment. Because it was the first one that was Ours.
- I’m irrationally worried that I’ll mess up all those signatures – I’m really not very good at signing my new name yet.
- But all in all, it seems like things are poised to go smoothly, so keep your fingers crossed that they do. I definitely will be. And I just can’t wait to start this part of our lives.
I have wanted to write a bit about how Project Life has been working out for me this year, since I really love reading about how others approach the project. I also LOVE seeing pictures of your craft desk/corner/area. And truly, I think Project Life is so accessible, so I feel like writing about how I approach it might help someone out there realize that they could TOTALLY do this, too. The irony of the timing of this post isn’t lost on me, as I’m here posting photos of my craft space only after it’s all packed away ahead of our move this week. I don’t know how I’ll set up my craft space in the new house, but I know that this set up worked really well for me so I’m sharing it here anyway.
I finished my first album with week 26, so it includes January – June. It seems that some people can get an entire year in one album, and others split the year into two (or even three!) albums. I squeezed 7 months into one album in 2012, which was probably just a bit much.
Here is the end page of my first album for 2013. I posted a photo of my first page in this post. I’m trying to keep the style simple, with black and white photos, some of the same patterns from the title page, and some notes about the year so far.
It’s funny to read that starting post again, because I definitely haven’t been using more “real camera” photos. Most weeks are primarily iPhone photos, and I’m okay with that, really. I still use the calendar cards and “this week” journaling cards, but sometimes I remove them if I have more content, or want to use that slot for something else. I’m trying to relax my self-imposed rules for the project by a lot, which goes a long way toward making it more accomplish-able.
So how do I approach putting my pages together?
I have been using the same basic method for a long time now. I have a small 6×8 spiral notebook that keeps everything together. It actually started with what I thought of as my “wedding planning” notebook, and has expanded to be the notebook where I plan PL pages, write important to do lists… everything I don’t want to forget. It’s easy to toss in my bag if I want to work on the week’s plan at lunch, and doesn’t take up too much desk real estate when I’m building the pages itself.
Each week, I draw out the spread, and put the week number and dates at the top and bottom of the page. I use pen for the framework – and then pencil for everything else. I tend to move things around and change my mind as the week goes on. I use the mini calendar at the bottom for a quick summary of what happened each day, as I’m always surprised how quickly I forget what happened each day. I use the margins to include a list of the photos I’ve taken so far, and to help determine if I need an insert to accommodate extra photos, etc.
There are some weeks where I put the pages together very quickly, but every week, without fail, I fill out my pencil plan during the actual week. This makes it SO much easier to build pages even if I’m doing it several weeks (or a month!) later. Seriously, if you take one thing from this: it’s that planning out pages as the weeks happen is HUGE.
Building the pages themselves happens in two stages: 1. Editing/cropping photos, creating any text files, and printing everything on my printer at home, and then 2. Actually filling the page protectors. Sometimes I print the photos that week or the week after, and don’t make the page until 3 weeks later, and sometimes I print them much later. It depends on a lot of things – whether I have an evening to myself while Dan’s gaming or staying late at work, how lazy I feel, how much else is going on, etc.
My desk often looks like this. Even after I organize it nicely, this is mostly how things end up. I have the piles organized by size or category (the pile to the left is all letter stickers, for example). It sort of makes sense as I’m working, but I often forget about supplies that I don’t use much.
Once I bought the second core kit (I now have Honey and Seafoam), I bought little bins for 3×4 and 4×6 cards. I pulled out one or two of each design so they’re handy, since flipping through the entire box wasn’t working very well. I’m very tempted to get one of these Things Bins from fab to replace all of my various mugs, bins, and bowls… even though I love them (and the excuse to buy more mugs/bowls/bins).
This is my desk on a good day. I try to keep it clean when I’m not working, so that I can pile the papers and business cards and menus I collect as the days pass right in the middle where they won’t get lost. (Or, okay, sometimes “clean” = keep all the crap off of the green mat.)
And this is my super-fancy solution to where to keep my album as I’m filling pages. We had piles of wedding gifts in my craft room (because our apartment has been packed to the GILLS, and we’re saving many of these for the new house, to help the new house feel even more fun, rather than have to re-pack everything now), and I made a nice little shelf out of boxes. I keep the open album on the pseudo shelf, which is right behind me when I’m sitting at my desk. In my new space I would LOVE a corner desk, but I’m not sure it’ll work out that way.
So that’s how it works. I have gotten pretty seriously behind a few times this year, and surely will with our move to the new house this week, and that little spiral notebook has made it possible to catch back up pretty quickly. I’m always looking for more ways to stay organized, that’s for sure. I’ll probably also sign up for Catherine Davis’s Process workshop at Big Picture, just because I can’t get enough of anything process- and organization-related.
When Dan and I move out of our apartment, it will mark the fourth time I have moved in six years, going back to when I first moved out of my parents’ house in 2007. I know many people move more frequently than that, but moving every two years has been wearing on me for a long time. I never imagined any of those apartments to be very permanent. It’s not like I’ve avoided decorating, or anything, but it has been a very unmoored kind of feeling. And that’s a huge part of why buying a house is such a relief, even as intimidating as it is. I’m SO ready to put down some damn roots and stay somewhere for longer than two freaking years.
But moving this many times in the past few years has given me a bit of perspective on moving and packing techniques. It’s all I seem to be able to think about lately, with Moving Day closing upon us more quickly than I care to admit.
When I first moved out of my parents’ house, they made me take every single box from their house and attic that had an E on it. I lived in honest-to-God fear those first few years that they’d realize that my bike was still in their garage. I have complained about this for years, but truthfully? I’m glad they did that. When combined with moving every two years, it has sort of forced me to be a bit ruthless about some of the things I’d be inclined to hold onto because I’m absurdly sentimental. My dad was still getting boxes of his from my grandmother’s attic for years, and it can’t get any easier to sort through this kind of stuff as you get older. My friend Melissa pointed it out this way recently: “If you don’t care enough about it to have it in your house, how is it fair to ask them to have it in theirs for you?” But when it came to boxes of “books for future children,” I sort of resented having to store it, at first.
So each time I have moved, I have spent a lot of time sorting through boxes and making executive decisions about all of this stuff. When I moved out of my parents’ house, it was boxes like “E-clothes for later” (containing all of my beloved overalls, which I wouldn’t wear anymore, but thought were high enough quality to save, just in case?) and all of my high school notes and certificates and programs and crap. When I moved from my first to my second apartment, I found myself making decisions about much of the things I had saved from college.
And this brings me to my general theory – that everyone has a threshold for sentimentality and holding onto things that meant something to them. Perhaps those of us who are journalers and scrapbookers naturally fall more toward the “save everything” end of the range… Every time I find myself sorting through boxes of mementos, I start out completely ruthlessly, adding things to the recycle/donate/toss piles with abandon. I’m making progress; the garbage bags are filling up with speed… and after a few sessions, I start to worry. Am I being too cruel to my former selves? 2005-Elizabeth obviously saved this for some reason. Why do I need to save every Christmas card I ever received?? But… am I glad I still have the ones with Ghami’s notes and drawings, now that she’s gone? You better believe I am. So I’m ruthless and chucking things left and right… until my conscience takes over and I suddenly start to doubt my ability to be reasonable about things anymore.
It’s like there’s a limit to how much a person can chuck/donate/recycle in each given round. I couldn’t throw away my library school notes and textbooks when I moved in 2009. But in 2011? I really didn’t need to keep them anymore. I suppose it’s partially the luxury of having to move so often; and this time around, I’m HIGHLY aware of the large quantities of storage space in this townhouse we’re buying. The LAST thing I want to do now is fill that basement with crap I don’t feel up to sorting through now, only to have a monumental task ahead of me ten or so years from now when we might move again. Assuming we even move again. Is it making me more ruthless now? Probably. But maybe being ruthless now is easier than ten years from now, when getting rid of anything related to the wedding will feel cruel to 2013-Elizabeth. But 2013-Elizabeth, right now? Thinks it’s probably okay to recycle all of the wedding magazines that I’ve had in a stack since my sister got engaged.
I still feel like a bit of an idiot that I went out to buy a special pack of 5-color post-it notes to label the boxes Dan and I are packing… until I remember how many compliments I got from the muscle (Dan, my brother, my now-brother-in-law…) in 2011, at how easy it was for them to just carry boxes and not need to ask where they belonged. Several friends have recommended numbering the boxes and including a list of what’s inside, which would make a shit-ton of sense, as well. We’ll see.
(Dan’s theory on packing, incidentally, is “There’s tons of stuff to do… and we’ll just do it all.” Whereas I’m here typing 950 words about packing. With six days until closing and eight days until we move… maybe Dan’s right. Holy crap, you guys.)
I have had my June Project Life pages done for a while, but just never got around to blogging them. June started out with the honeymoon, which was fantastic, of course, and then was pretty mundane, other than quite a few house hunting updates.
I made a Project Life mini album for the honeymoon (which reminds me: I should take photos so I can blog about it one of these days), but wanted to document the week in my main album, as well. All of the journaling is in the mini album, so I chose my favorite photos to include here.
Week 24 contained a few days off for me after we got back from Antigua, which I’m so glad about. Things like a haircut and pizza seemed so “real life” after getting back from such a great trip.
I like how the color scheme developed naturally on these pages, taking the orangey/yellow/browns from the photos and into the cards from the kits that I used.
Dan and I were with our respective families for Father’s Day this year, but much like I did for Mother’s Day back in May, I wanted to include photos of each of our fathers here.
Week 25 included Dan’s first day at his new position, a trip to the movies, and a color-focused photo project for me.
The other really big news was my sister and brother-in-law’s new puppy, Jax. I used an insert because I couldn’t narrow down the photos of him and had to include them all. (Even more knowing he won’t be this little and calm for very much longer!)
The back of the insert – adore these photos of my parents with Jax, and with his “uncle” C.J., who looks gigantic compared to baby Jax. (C.J is James’s parents’ dog.)
Number 21 on my 33 Before 33 list was, simply, to get rid of all of the clothes clogging up my closet and drawers that don’t (and haven’t) fit. This type of item has appeared on lists in previous years, and tends to be something I’m only really spurred to do knowing I may need to move soon. My weight has always fluctuated between a few sizes, and as much as I hate to admit it, the past few years have had me at the higher end of my comfortable range. Higher than the dark, overalls-laden high school days. Like most brides, I had all sorts of plans to lose weight before my wedding… but I self-medicate with beer and food, so attempting to cut off my primary “you had a shitty, stressful day, you’ve really earned a beer” coping mechanisms during such a stressful year didn’t seem worth the, well, stress. (And let’s face it: part of me also recoiled at the idea that I should lose weight for my wedding. This is what I look like, dammit, why wouldn’t I look like myself on my wedding day?)
All that being said… I have a hard time getting rid of perfectly good clothes that fit recently but just don’t, now, and probably won’t in a while. I really liked that polo shirt, and that’s my “reading is sexy” t-shirt, and those jeans are just the best.
But there’s a line between holding on to things because you loved them, and holding on to things that depress you to see. So I put it on the list. Because hopefully we truly are moving soon, and the last thing I want to do is continue to fill closets with clothes I can’t even wear anymore. Yes, I probably need to work harder to exercise and eat smart and stop rewarding myself for hard days with booze and burritos. But setting aside those perfectly good shirts for my sister to look through, and bagging up another giant bag to get rid of felt GOOD. I feel lighter already.
And I can always buy some new best jeans if I need to.
Item #27 on my 33 Before 33 list is a special one. I’ve written about how Dan and I first started dating before, but the quick version is this: at a Somerset Patriots game on August 16, 2008, Dan and I sat next to each other, and didn’t stop talking the entire night. Maybe it was the magic of baseball under the lights, but we both felt the spark that night, even if it took us almost exactly two months to go on our first date.
Every summer since then, Dan and I have gone to a Patriots game together, to honor that first spark. Sometimes we go with his parents to celebrate our birthdays, and sometimes it’s just the two of us, but it is now tradition to see a game there each summer, no matter how many other baseball games we see.
Even though there are plenty of other anniversaries now, between our first date and when we moved in together and that whole wedding business, August 16 has always felt especially important, because it’s really where everything started. So when I realized that the Patriots had a home game on August 16 this year, I knew we had to go, in honor of the magic under the lights five summers ago. We were leaving for Cape Cod at 5am the next morning, but we couldn’t miss the chance.
And I’m so, so glad that we went.
The golden hour felt a little more golden, and we drank cold beers and elbowed each other. I made Dan take an awkwardly-too-close self portrait before we found our seats right behind home plate. We got hot dogs and fries, and ended up with juice boxes too, as we unwittingly ordered kids’ meals instead of plain old hot dogs. We sat next to some really obnoxious teenagers – so obnoxious that we moved our seats twice. But the lights were twinkling and the beer was cold and it was me and Dan and baseball, back where it all started. It feels like a million years and yesterday all at once.
When I was a kid, we went to Cape Cod almost every summer with the extended family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents all stayed in this giant house. The weeks we’d spend there consist of some of my very favorite memories – learning how to shuffle cards, watching James Bond movies, sharing a room with my sister and older cousin (trading off whose turn it was to sleep in a sleeping bag between the two beds), buying penny candy, hours and hours at the beach. We stopped going sometime in the 1990s. I think it just got too difficult to coordinate once many of us cousins were in middle school and high school. But I think we all missed it.
My parents started going back a few years ago, right around the time my college friend Pete’s parents bought a house on the Cape. My parents have been renting that house every summer since. It’s a bit strange to restart yearly vacations in this way, picking up where you left off 15 years before. Last year, my extended family rented a big big house over Memorial Day, and I have a feeling that will become a new yearly tradition, too.
Cape Cod is one of those places that time doesn’t seem to really touch. So many of the things I remember from my childhood visits are still there. Vacations on the Cape are repetitive in the best nostalgic ways – there are just so many things we need to do each time we’re there, even if we just did it last summer. A cup of clam chowder at the Squire in Chatham, a new sweatshirt from Cuffy’s, fresh fish from the fish pier for dinner… it’s comforting to be able to continue all of these traditions, and to share them with Dan, now.
Dan and I don’t go every year (and now that the extended family is going in the Spring, going twice each summer is even harder), and we hadn’t been with my parents in August in a few years, so we made it a point to go for a long weekend this year. I’m so, so glad that we did. We both sorely needed a weekend away from everything, knowing how much things are going to explode with the new semester starting at work and that whole Buying A House Or Some Shit thing.
My photos from Cape Cod are sort of unoriginal, in that I know I’ve taken many of them before, but can’t seem to resist taking them again. In our brief 3+ day visit, we visited Chatham, took a tour at Cape Cod Brewing (so interesting! And they only distribute on the Cape!), watched lots of Red Sox games (arguably my dad’s favorite part), bought new sweatshirts, read a lot, and saw the ocean (even getting partial credit for #11 on my 33 before 33 list). It was pretty great.