Join us on a zero waste adventure!

April is Zero Waste Month! At least in our home. And since I don’t want to talk about the awful outcome of my perm, I’ll steer toward something more uplifting.

I first read about the notion of zero waste around October of 2012 here.  In its most basic sense, it means not purchasing or using anything that produces unnecessary waste. The principles are Refuse (anything wasteful or unnecessary coming into the home), Reduce (consumption, packaging, etc), Reuse (containers etc), Recycle (as a fourth option only after refusing, reducing and reusing), and Rot (any food waste leftover).

Within moments of stumbling on this philisophy, I knew it was something I wanted to try. And then 6 months went by. And then 6 more. And then 6 more. Every time before we grocery shopped, we vowed to try it. But then we (ahem, James?) made excuses for not making it happen. Our neighborhood grocery store sold nothing in bulk. We had great options for fresh produce without packaging but little else. One of our first attempts (complete with lots of packaging) is below. While there were many options for bulk purchase in the metro area, we were reluctant to drive across town to make it happen.

grocery cart

It was April of a year ago that I decided to finally make a concerted effort to try living without producing any garbage. After the initial six months of procrastination, James and I headed out to an organic market, which is now in our current neighborhood. We even ordered bulk reusable shopping bags (and yes, they arrived via a large, fossil fuel-burning delivery truck, probably in an oversized box with unnecessary packaging, but was a start.) I was pleased to find that the bulk bags available at the market were also made of compostable cellulose.  And some of the bulk items which came pre-weighed and packaged were also made from a compostable product. Phew! I had almost thought I wasn’t going to eat sweetened dried cranberries for that month.

We were largely successful in that first shopping mission. We ended buying almost all of our produce without packaging, and then purchased only a few items in biodegradable or reusable packaging. We bought yogurt in a recyclable container (Whole Foods has a special collection for them because they aren’t collected by the city but it really is a fair question whether we will save the tubs and transport them for recycling) and our bread unfortunately had a regular plastic bag. However, we were successful in finally buying milk in those lovely old-fashioned returnable bottles. I remember my dad purchasing soda in returnable glass as a child (am I aging myself?). I thought those days were long gone, but it seems glass bottles returned for deposit (at least for dairy products) are inching their way back into stores.

On that fateful day one year ago after our shopping trip, we were feeling incredibly virtuous unpacking the car, when one of our beautiful glass milk jugs became a casualty, right there on the pavement, milk all over James’ pants and shoes and glass all over the ground. I wanted to document it on my phone, but James felt so bad about dropping my milk jug that I didn’t want to rub it in.

James left for a work trip shortly after and I fell off the wagon on my zero waste efforts. Bulk bean preparation for one hardly sounded convenient.

So, here we are one year later, and we are going to try it all over again, this time with a baby. Over the next month I’m going to document what it means to be zero waste and just how feasible it is for our family of four (including Wallie who is quite the consumer of 50 lb. bags of kibble since we haven’t yet explored bulk dog food).

I love the idea of zero waste and the feeling of simplicity that it evokes. However, there seem to be some significant hurdles, namely food preparation. Is anyone else out there following a Zero Waste lifestyle? If you are feeling adventurous, please join us for April!

Motherhood and the 3 Stage Makeover Plan

Most folks who have known me for a while know that I’ve never been one to fuss about my hair. Its been very long and its been pretty short. Its been blond, and its been red. I’ve had a few disastrous haircuts in my day. A few haircuts from my mom incited tears as a child. And maybe a few from some professional stylists too.  Twice I’ve gotten up from from the chair mid-cut because it was that bad. I left with half cut hair and went about my day, probably in tears.

Once, when my hair was exceptionally long, my mom asked what was happening to it, as in what was I going to do next. When I expressed being unsure what she meant, she said ‘well, you don’t want to end up looking like an earth mother.’ Hmm, maybe I did. Mom wouldn’t understand. Her luscious thick hair is easy to deal with. As the only child of 4 who ended up with thin hair, I feel a bit cheated, but try not to worry too much. So much so that I went through a phase where I didn’t wash it for about 3 years. I tried all of those natural no ‘poo methods, much to the chagrin of my potential suitors.  It didn’t really work for me.

Ok, it didn’t work at all.

Now, I try to keep my hair somewhat clean. However, it always ends up in a ponytail. Since this thing called motherhood happened to me, my normally long ponytail has gotten a bit shorter. I cut off 6 inches and still can’t manage to find time in my day to look decent. And I’ve started to get grays. Lots of grays. And what you’ve heard about your hair falling out after pregnancy is true. I am losing gobs of hair every day. Its a bit startling. A friend of mine is a wig wearer (hey girl!) and I half-joke that soon she will need to take me shopping.

The mothers picking up their infants at daycare look effortlessly stunning. Are they sleeping? Did their hair not fall out or did they have more to start with? Comparisons aside, I need an intervention. Those 6 inches were not enough. So here is my 3 stage makeover plan to change my look in attempts at slightly more polish. For James’ sake, I’m hoping to not make it to stage 3. But secretly for my sake, I hope stage 3 comes soon.

Stage 1, to be implemented tomorrow. Perm. That’s right. I said it. The last and only time I had a perm was a home perm in 3rd grade. I tried to find photo evidence but I’m afraid it has all been destroyed to protect the innocent. I’m going more for Kate Hudson beach waves than Dee Snider spirals, but there is certainly risk involved.

Stage 2, to be considered for some point after. Bangs. I like my hair with bangs, but bangs can be kind of a hassle. They do add a more finished look, however. Until I walk into a slight breeze. Then I might as well still have my hair pulled back, massive forehead and widow’s peak gleaming for the world to see.

Stage 3, when all else fails. Pixie cut. I’ve been wanting one for YEARS. People have gotten them and grown them out in the time I’ve agonized over one. My hair has been as short as my smiley line, just long enough to tuck behind my ears. I’ve had cuts like that many times but not for a while. Every time I mention a pixie cut, James kind of nods and smiles. This guy, with luscious thick hair, doesn’t even own a comb and is tangle-free. I spend 10 minutes combing mine out and I’ve got dreadlocks 5 minutes later. How could he possibly understand? Plus, is it weird that my hair would be shorter than his? If his hair is long, why can’t I also buck the gender stereotype and go short?

Anyway, the big fear with a pixie is ending up with a mom-cut. But I guess I’m still at stage 1, which means the current worry is that the result doesn’t look straight out of 1985. Let’s hope tomorrow I don’t have any reason to get up from that chair.

What have you done to get through that rough patch in early motherhood when you don’t have enough time to feel your best?

Excuses, Excuses

Oh, hey!

Its been a while. In fact, this last year I’ve been pretty abysmal at posting, and it has only dwindled further with the addition of our Little Love in September. We had a rough time settling in. Babies are amazing. And demanding. They need so much and depend on you to answer to their every beck and call. And we did. Call me a softy, but I can’t let this girl cry. I spent my entire maternity leave holding her because she was so fussy. She had trouble nursing (more on that another time), plus reflux. Since newborns eat almost hourly, this caused an incredible amount of stress and made her want to be vertical all the time. Despite my feeling that something ‘wasn’t right’ with Isla, no one really knew how to help her bouts of wailing.  It wasn’t until about 8 weeks that nursing got easier and sometime after that, her frequent crying eased up.  I don’t know what I expected of maternity leave. I certainly didn’t expect a party, but I guess I went in to it thinking that there would be hours where she would sleep and I could write, sneak in a shower, or maybe even sleep. On the contrary, days and days turned into weeks and months where James and I were barely catching our breath.  If I got her to finally stop crying when she was in my arms, the last thing I wanted to do was set her into her crib and start the cycle all over again.

When Isla was 12 weeks, we visited James’ sister who had a baby nearly 2 months after us to the day. Her son is the most chilled out babe one can ever imagine, a direct contrast from our intense, noisy, demanding little bundle of love. Isla squawked the second she had a wet diaper, rendering me either home bound or melting into a sweaty mess while I tried in vain to calm her down.  Her cousin, on the other hand, could hang out in a wet diaper, completely unfazed. Isla would wake from a peaceful sleep in a hungry wail; he needed to be reminded to eat again. Seeing them side by side, I did have a fleeting moment of jealousy for how ‘easy’ he was  in comparison. But then this happened during our visit to Santa, and all I could do was laugh. It is the perfect visual of the contrast between these kiddos.

Christmas

So this intense little babe, taking up all my time, is my excuse for not writing for a while.  Or perhaps I should say my excuse is wanting to please her at all times. I can’t help it; motherhood flipped this little switch in me. We were told many times you can’t spoil an infant. I’m very afraid this statement is untrue. I’m working to strike a bit more of a balance moving forward. I hope you will excuse my absence.

No Nursery? No Problem

When James and I moved into our 557 square foot apartment in January, we had no idea that almost exactly 9 months later we would go from three (Wallie included) to four in a space the size of many people’s living rooms. As the months passed in our little space, even with living small and incredibly simply, we realized we were just about bursting at the seams. I’m a big fan of minimalism, but let’s be honest- we live in a city with four seasons. We each have clothing appropriate for all weather conditions for both casual and work, not to mention exercise clothes. With hobbies that require a lot of gear (motorcycle riding and rock climbing for James; cycling for both of us, plus James’ vast tool collection), our closets are packed. Besides these things, we aren’t really collectors of any type of clutter (besides magazines that I swear I will one day read), but space fills up fast in 557 square feet.

When we found out we had a baby bug on the way, we panicked a bit. We would still be committed to a lease for 3 months after she arrived and were at a loss for how to make it work. While I have dreams of what her room will look like, throughout my pregnancy, there was no nursery to decorate, no space to fuss over which furniture to buy. We joked that we would clear out our walk in closet and make it her ‘room’, but in reality we knew we’d have to make do with all four of us crunching into the main living space together.

People assured us that ‘babies don’t take up much space’, a statement 100% of the time followed by, ‘…but their stuff does’. So I looked on it with an adapted view of ‘just in time’ manufacturing. We would buy only what we absolutely needed at the time we needed it. No high chairs, bibs, toys (newborns can’t even see!), shoes, swings, and a whole list of other items she would not be using before we moved. We received some generous gifts for items we will need down the road, but luckily friends and family mostly understood just how small our space is.

So just how much space does little Isla take up of our 557 square feet? She has one corner of the apartment for her changing station, and another even smaller corner for her crib. We’d love to write more on the topic of how much a baby costs, but with a little creativity, we were able to keep at least these start up costs pretty low; a friend lent us a cosleeper which is smaller than a crib and helps us to save on precious inches. Knowing the apartment wouldn’t be a long-term arrangement, we were able to get by without buying a lot of new furniture to accommodate our little girl so we repurposed some items we had on hand. My West Elm Parson’s desk is currently our changing table and my Ikea shelf that used to live in the kitchen at my last apartment has found a new life holding Isla’s clothes.

June

My West Elm Parson’s desk before it had ever been pooped on

ittybittykitchen-final

Ikea shelving in the kitchen at my old apartment

Changing Station - small

Ikea shelving and West Elm Parson’s desk repurposed as a ‘closet’ and changing station

Crib - small

Isla’s sleeping nook- the extent of our ‘nursery’ for the moment

Remember all of those cabinets that came with the murphy bed? We have been able to pack a lot of our extra baby accoutrements (bouncy chair, baby bath etc.) in there to get them out of the way, though we will admit that as the last two months have passed, we’ve failed to put most items back in the closet. But at least they fit.

As the days race by (we can’t believe she is two months old!), we have started counting down to our next adventure – moving to Del Ray and living in a space that is more than one room. Imagine that. For now, however, we are loving our small living journey.

And Baby Makes Four

At the end of September we welcomed our beautiful daughter into the world. We couldn’t be more excited to be parents. After just 6 weeks of parenthood I already feel like our little girl is growing so fast. I have barely blinked and her once wrinkly little raisin feet are now plump and juicy; the peach fuzz that covered her back has all but disappeared; she now has eyelashes when she had none at birth; her newborn footie pajama sets are suddenly too small. I notice those distracted moments when I am nursing and wishing I was in reach of my cell phone or laptop so that I can check my emails or space out on Facebook and then she gurgles and gulps and I’m reminded that there isn’t anything else I should be doing right in that moment besides just gluing my eyes on her and taking in all of her loveliness. Of course the dishes are piling up, the leaning tower of diapers is close to toppling over (didn’t we just wash them yesterday?), and I can’t remember which day this week I last washed my hair. But when I’m sitting there nursing I can’t do any of those things right then anyway so I enjoy the moment and try not to think about passing her off to strangers at day care in just a few short months.

A friend of my friend mentioned over brunch one day that as a new mother if you already disliked your job you will resent it even more once you have to leave your newborn in daycare so as to go back to work. As I sit staring at my beautiful girl I think I should be working on my life coaching business, making these 3-4 months at home count so that maybe over the next few months I can get enough clients to justify not going back to the office. And then I look at the little cupid’s bow of her mouth and the other part of me feels I’d be doing myself a disservice to not just enjoy the brief time I have to spend my days with her, and that business planning can wait. Sleep is much more important now, and even then, there isn’t enough of it.

All of the non-essential to-do’s on our list have waited for weeks and finally after catching a few moments while Isla is sleeping, we’ve collated some of our pregnancy photos. (Oh, and, big up to all the women in the blogosphere with maternity glamour shots. I was lucky most days if my eyes were open and my hair was brushed.) These represent just a smattering of the mountain of pics we have from near-daily photos taken over 8 months One day, we’ll go through the rest and perhaps post them all. But right now that project can wait.

We have a baby to enjoy.

Index from Side - web size

Up in the Air

I wish this title referred to some exotic travel plans, but alas, my air travels are done for a little while (I’ll be recapping some recent travel on the blog soon). Right now, we’ve been trying to figure out where we will be spending our first 3-4 months with our baby bug once she arrives.

As I mentioned, when we moved into our 557 square foot space, it seemed like it might be a bit of a crunch with two adults and a 70 lb. mutt who has zero sense of his size.

wallz

It wasn’t too long before we realized how tough it was going to be. After 3 years living, and largely working, in 270 square feet, I was no stranger to small spaces. But I loved my former neighborhood of Logan Circle, so with DC at my doorstep, I rarely felt the smallness of the space. However, settling into our new neighborhood together, we quickly realized it would be tough to call it home. The smallest quadrant of DC, Southwest, is home to some seriously ugly mid-century architecture.

SWDC

Living along the Potomac River has been a saving grace over here, along with a beautiful courtyard pool and friendly neighbors. However, Southwest DC also lacks a walkable neighborhood. I mean, you can certainly walk in the neighborhood, but we miss having something to walk to- a gym, a yoga studio, a variety of restaurants. Call me a snob, but these are the reasons I’ve stayed in DC so long. Here in Southwest, there isn’t much going on and what with metro delays and parking hassles, its made for a nosedive in my desire to actually go anywhere outside of my little quadrant. Its just a lot more work. Getting to yoga class, which I gave up trying long ago, means about a 3 hour round trip expedition, completely negating any hard-earned yoga-induced bliss. Plus, with fall and winter ahead, the activity of the courtyard will soon die down and we will be back to feeling the isolation we felt when we moved in last January.

So I lobbied hard for a move. Yes, I’m that crazy pregnant lady. Our lease is up in early January, but I figured that maybe, perhaps we could juuuusttttt consider packing up and going elsewhere for a few months after the birth. It wasn’t so much about our space being too small (but that was part of it); it was that I half believe I might go a little nuts being in Southwest DC every day for the duration of my maternity leave. There are tons of neighborhoods in this city with vibrant parks and playgrounds and our neighborhood happens to be one without either.

So I proposed this elaborate scheme that we sublet our apartment or get someone to take over the lease and we find somewhere else to live for 3 months.

Easy? Perhaps.

Logical? Not really.

It turned out that it was no problem to find people interested in taking over our lease. The problem was really finding somewhere else to go for 3 months that met 4 criteria:

1. It needed to give us more space

2.  It was surrounded by a vibrant neighborhood

3. It did not extend James’ commute. (Less traffic = more happiness for the entire family. Trust me.)

4. Of course, it needed to allow our shaggy beast.

Despite plenty of sublets available in our time frame, none were an improvement in numbers 1 and 2, and those that were did not meet 3 and 4. So we abandoned the operation.

A few weeks later, James wanted to notify our tenants that we could not renew their lease beyond the original terms. Read: we would like to move back in come January. We feel bad about it, but also feel that 4 months notices is considerate and would give them time to look for new housing. One of the tenants asked if we would be willing to let him part ways earlier…and James responded that yes, we would entertain that idea if we could get someone to take over our lease. It wouldn’t make sense to carry our existing rent on top of the otherwise-covered mortgage payment. We loved the idea! Since finding someone to take over our lease hadn’t been the problem the last time around, we figured if our tenant wanted to leave early, we could make our way back to the house soon, maybe even in time for maternity leave.

Now, this all happened after we had just spent a few weeks trying to get our space ready for the arrival of our little person and the idea was finally sinking in that we’d be in the studio through January. We had rearranged all of the furniture, installed shelving for tiny clothes, made a makeshift changing station out of my home office desk, and basically cleared out two floor to ceiling cupboards of our own belongings to accommodate all of the baby goods we had recently acquired.

But the opportunity to move was one we wanted to pursue.

So the search resumed.

For a week.

In that time, we found about 5 interested parties.

And then our tenant came back and said he preferred to finish out the lease terms.

I was a bit crushed, but of course it’s his right to stay in the house for the duration of the lease. So now its final. We’ll be here, all 4 of us, in 557 square feet until early to mid-January. I was feeling up in the air with all of the back and forth but now I’m working on settling back into the notion of learning to be parents in a studio apartment.

I’m the one who got us into this mess (ahem, I mean living in the studio. I place responsibility for the pregnancy squarely on James…jk) so I am working on accepting the outcomes of this decision.

This little person will be arriving in our lives anywhere in the next few weeks. Living in this little space is going to be a trip and we are going to work on figuring it out as we go. We are working on living as small as possible for the time being and will certainly be providing updates on what we found necessary for the baby and what is just taking up our precious space!

Things to never ask a pregnant lady

I’ve had some serious writer’s block for a while and for some reason could never get this down on the screen. We’ve been a bit remiss in sharing some rather large news here on the blog. We’re having a baby!

This child won’t be furry…at least we hope not. (My laser hair removal lady would probably weigh in heavily on that, but right now I’d rather not think about her opinion in the matter.)

We can’t wait to meet our little girl.

We had only been in our little place about 6 or 8 weeks when we found out the news. I wanted to wait to announce it until it felt definite. 3 months? Too soon. 4 months? Not ready yet. 5 months? I got tired of trying to suck in my belly. When I finally let it out, people couldn’t believe they hadn’t noticed. I was somewhat braced for some of the questions, but at the same time, wasn’t ready at all.

Among them:

Were you trying?

Did the condom break?

Wait, WHAT?

So are you getting married now?

My brother actually asked if ‘Homeland Security’ was down at that time.

Don’t get that one? Stop and think about it for a moment.

My Catholic mother’s first words were: What are you going to do about that?

I wasn’t equipped with how to respond. I rambled. I overexplained. I dodged the answer that people were fishing for. Each time I was met with questions that made me uncomfortable, I vowed to let people know it was something I couldn’t or wouldn’t answer. And each time it happened, I found myself rambling on uncomfortably. All I wanted was a simple congratulations. In many cases I got it, but often sharing the news with family, friends, acquaintances, and colleagues made me anxious. Despite our own excitement about this little person who was going to join our lives, I had a tough time settling into the excitement because of the barrage of questions. It wasn’t as rough for James. It seems men ask less questions.

Over time it’s gotten a bit easier. And my belly has gotten bigger. And we’ve gotten more excited by the day. And to a large degree, that anxiety has diminished as the questions have subsided.

At work last week I ran into a colleague who I had completed a very brief project request for. He had spoken at two meetings I had attended and we had exchanged pleasantries before, but for all intents and purposes, we were strangers. I knew that he had just been married and returned from a honeymoon not so long ago. As I said hello and started walking past, I noticed a reaction in him that indicated he wanted to say more, so I stopped. He has a good-natured innocence and curiosity about him that I really enjoy so I was eager to find out what he had to say. After briefly geeking out over his text analytics project, he cut to the chase and I braced myself further with each question.

Colleague: How is your pregnancy going?

Me: Oh, fine, I can’t complain at all.

Him: Oh that’s so great. My wife and I are already trying. We figure since we are a bit older, we should allow some more time. I mean, you never know… I suppose its easier to get pregnant when you are young…?

Me: Hmm, I believe I’m much older than you think.

Him: You can’t be much older than 25!

Me: I’m almost 35.

Him: Wow! I would have never known! You look about 25! Wow, that’s great. That is so encouraging. My wife is 35. Hopefully she’s able to get pregnant. Do you eat well and exercise? My wife isn’t really great about either, though she is thin.

Me: Yes, I’ve always tried to keep healthy.

Him: Well, I’m sure that helps. Can I ask how long it took before you got pregnant?

I paused for a nanosecond and gave him the answer that everyone else was digging for: Just once.

He laughed nervously: Kind of like a honeymoon surprise?

I laughed along, deliberately failing to tell him we were not married: Kind of.

We exchanged goodbyes and I walked away with a big grin on my face. How incredibly, deliciously awkward.

It took months of uneasily answering questions to get to the point of feeling free to give that information out and not worry too much about what anyone thinks.  I don’t owe that information to anyone. But it felt pretty damn good to finally just say it.

Too soon, unmarried, unplanned, whatever your judgement, I am not bothered. James and I couldn’t be happier about the direction our lives are taking together.

Murphy Bad Ideas Part 2

Its been a very long time since we’ve written. You’ve probably even forgotten about our murphy bed saga. But in the interest of tying up loose ends, we want to follow up on the installation before we launch into all the excuses we have for not writing lately.

In the three days it took to put this beast together, I think I said fewer words to Alexa than ever before. Of those words, one set was “I’m not going to move or assemble this thing ever again. Ever”. On the plus, it took only one trip to the Depot, instead of the usual three.

Step 1 of the installation involved trying to find some sort of support structure amongst the truck load of pieces and piles of our unpacked belongings. Each subsequent step required hunting for the right piece, and then we had to shift around no less than five objects, including the mutt, to move the massive pieces around our small space. As a refresher, since we haven’t written about this for a while, we had no instructions for the disasassembly or the assembly, so this was one giant puzzle.

Bed - setting frame

I decided that there was no better way to show the install than with an animated gif. Click the image to watch!

bed---new-sequence

Next, we set up the foundation, which involved a haphazard series of wooden blocks and beams that made no sense to us, except to try to reassemble according to where the nail holes previously were. After that, we assembled the cabinet portion that would later house the bed. The next step involved assembly of the storage cabinets. Again, one giant puzzle, piecing together like kinds and stacking them together. Each of them are about three feet tall so even hauling one on top of the other and trying to prop it in place before drilling proved to be a fiasco.

Installing the pistons to raise and lower the bed ended up to be the most challenging part. I’m pretty sure we had them upside down to start with. They somehow got stuck and therefore we couldn’t raise or lower the bed. It was fixed in a semi-raised position. At that point, another night of sleeping on the floor was no big deal. Luckily, the pistons had a phone number on them for some small family company in Kentucky. We got a phone call back soon and were able to work through the problem. Good thing for all those engineering classes.

Fortunately, the photos don’t provide an indication of how much pain and suffering went into the installation. My favorite part was sleeping in the bed before we installed the front panels, which were required to provide enough weight to hold the bed down so it wouldn’t slam shut. We slept like this for a few days.  We only forgot once, when we both hopped out at about 3am for a snack. Sorry neighbors.

Bed - partial done

In order to mount the external panels, I had to get inside the frame and drill the boards in. Alexa’s job was to hold them up and ensure they stayed aligned. This was her job because I’m not nearly enough of a perfectionist. They had to be eyeballed for alignment one by one and then pressed in place from the outside by Alexa while I drilled from the inside. Due to the plain front panels, there was no other way to do it. Words can’t really convey how tedious the process was.

Bed - me behind1

Given the task we had taken on, everything was going well. Until Wallz decided to throw up on the carpet. Maybe he had too much grass that day. As a general rule, he only throws up when I’m not available so Alexa has to clean it up. Usually, its when I’m at work. This time was no exception, but perhaps slightly more painful for everyone involved, as it turned out I was stuck behind the bed so I had to watch the whole scenario unfold.

Bed - me smiling

Bed - wallz throwup

Almost there. Alexa cleaning up vomit amidst a half-unpacked apartment and mountains of stuff.

Bed - me behind

All six of these middle panels were aligned solely by Alexa’s meticulous eye. Maybe all that effort was worth it.

Done. Shown here with the bed and cupboards open.

Bed - installed open

And now, everything put away.

Bed - Final Product

In the end (at least so far), it turned out to be a great purchase.  The upfront cost of the murphy bed has prevented us from having to pay for a storage unit in the basement. We may even recover the cost if we  do decide to sell it. This wall unit is pretty much the only thing that makes living together in a studio possible. Well, that and the fact that we get along. I had told Alexa earlier that I would never move it ever again, six months later, it’s possible that I may reconsider.

We made it into Small Cool 2013!

I’ve eagerly anticipated Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool contest each year they have run it. I love looking at the tiny spaces to see how people live small…and beautifully.

As we mentioned in our last post, we didn’t think we’d get around to entering. But we decided to go ahead and take the plunge. And after a few days of not hearing back, we stopped checking to see if we got in. But then last night, after 4 lovely days in St. John with no internet connection,  we were beyond stoked to check email and to see our little place was chosen as an entry!

Take a look at it here!

We would be more than grateful if you would take a moment to vote for us on the website. Unfortunately, one must register as an Apartment Therapy user before voting, but if you have about 2 minutes, it can be done.

Thank you so much for viewing and for your support.

Murphy Bad Ideas Part 1

When James and I moved into our new little apartment, we brought with us the murphy bed from the Itty Bitty, my affectionate term for my 270 foot apartment where I lived previously. At $300, it was nothing to look at, but it kept me sane in that tiny space, and allowed me to live there longer without upgrading to a bigger apartment with a higher monthly cost. Here it is. It was a behemoth to move into my apartment and no more enjoyable to move to our new place.

Bed - old murph

When we moved in, I lobbied James to not install it right away as I wanted to find the ‘right spot’ in the apartment. My secret agenda was to find a panel bed, something slightly sleeker with a front that drops down in one piece as opposed to opening accordion-fashion to the sides. While trolling the Craigslist postings, I found it, our new future murphy bed. Offering significant storage, and a built-in appearance, with an asking price of $300, I was pretty sure I couldn’t walk away from this one. I immediately phoned the seller from work and he said that since I was the first respondent so I could buy it and I should just let him know once I had arranged a truck.

It was too easy, I thought.

I was right.

Within a few hours, he phoned me back and said he had gotten multiple higher offers from contractors and unless I bid up, he’d have to take back his word to sell it to me. While irritated, I wasn’t incredibly concerned. We have a lot of stuff and we realized we would need a storage unit in the building for the remaining 10 months of our lease (2 were free). At $50 per month for 10 months, buying the murphy bed unit would cover the cost of storage, plus we would have the benefit of all of the belongings right inside our apartment, as opposed to in a cage in the basement. We did end up paying $650 for it, still a steal for what we got, as these things cost thousands of dollars new, plus we’d be able to sell it upon moving, whereas with a storage unit we wouldn’t be able to recover any cost.

I know, I know. You are thinking what a hassle to fold up a murphy bed every day.

Do you make your bed every day?

I didn’t think so.

I’m a huge fan of murphy beds, as they take about 30 seconds to put away and you never have to make the bed or look at rumpled sheets.

Now installing one is another story. We bought our upgraded murphy bed from a seller who had purchased a new condo. The previous owner had it custom built for one of the bedrooms, but the new owner just wanted it out.

This was the seller’s photo.

murphy bed

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t realize that it was quite so massive from this photo. The unit is about 12 feet wide, and as assembled in the photos, reaches the 12-13 foot ceilings. For reference, the top of the bed (in line with the middle set up cabinets) is about 8 feet high. Since the seller had no idea about how it was installed and therefore how to uninstall it, we just came over and went to town with the tools, trying to create some order in logging which screws came from which piece. Disassembly and moving it took about 6 hours. There were 3 of us disassembling, 4 of us moving each piece down two flights of stairs and a hallway (keep in mind extra stairs due to the vaulted ceilings) and loading into a moving truck, and James and I alone carrying all of it up into our apartment late night. The bed portion was too big for the elevator so around midnight we had it laying in the lobby of the apartment seeing if we could find any removable parts to make it fit. We are pretty sure the concierge thought we were crazy. We had no other option but to maneuver it into the stairwell and heave it up five flights of stairs, as quietly as we could.

Bed - uhual

I’m pretty sure by that time of night, after a long day of work, and 6 solid hours of taxing manual labor, James was ready to leave me. Another terrible Alexa Idea executed with slightly disastrous results. I mean, we got it inside without out any thrown out backs, broken bones, or stabbed fingers, but we still had a moving truck to take back in the morning and hours of assembly trying to put the pieces of this enormous, bulky puzzle together with no instruction.

Bed - Alexa in box Bed - james in boxUp next- the installation.

Oh, and in case you are interested in more on small spaces, check out Apartment Therapy’s Small Cool contest. We didn’t enter, but we still want to encourage you small apartment dwellers to check out how creative people can be in little places. Can’t wait to see the finalists! http://community.apartmenttherapy.com/contests/smallcool/2013