Category Archives: life in the real world

an open letter to the hours of 2-5pm

You guys are seriously the worst. I don’t even know why you exist, you serve no discernible purpose in my life. Every day I find myself languishing in your grip of hunger and fatigue until 5:00 appears and I am freed from you tyranny. I don’t understand this hold you have over me. I arise at 6am and spend my morning being an alert member of society but then you roll around and suddenly I am incapacitated. I can’t focus on my work and all I want to do is take a nice long nap and maybe eat an entire bag of tortilla chips, but here is the worst thing about you, 2-5pm, it is not socially acceptable to eat or nap during you! My friends are confused when I ask if we can meet for dinner at 4:30, but they don’t understand that I am merely exercising the feeble hope that by doing so I can outsmart you. But you always win 2-5pm, you win every time.

Another thing I hate about you is how awful the sun is during your reign. It shines right into my windows and bakes my room to an unbearable temperature. Plus have you ever tried to drive west at 5:00? You might as well be blind. Why would you want to do such a thing to me, 2-5pm? It’s rude is what it is. Do you know what people say about your cousins 6 and 7pm? They call them the magic hour. They write songs about them! How does that make you feel? Don’t you think it’s time to relinquish the hold you have upon my circadian rhythm?! Have a heart 2-5pm!

2-5pm, there is only one thing in this world that I dislike more than you and that is the month of February. But today I found myself wishing for the perpetually grey skies and 4:00pm darkness of my least favorite month. At least then I could turn on my beloved twinkle lights and start drinking wine at 3:30 without feeling guilty. Soon winter will come and I will have my brief victory over you, but it will be a hollow victory- one gained in exchange for bone-chilling cold and four months of being confined inside.

You are a worthy competitor 2-5pm. You appear every day despite how vocal I am about my hatred for you. Not everyone could do that and I admire you. I hold out hope that we can one day reach a compromise. I will promise to stop bad mouthing you if you promise to stop zapping my energy. I hope you will mull this over during the 21 hours of the day you are not busy ruining my life. Let me know what you think!

Sincerely,
Emily

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decorating your first place: what our furniture is pointed at

I know you’ve all be anxiously awaiting this reveal, so here’s the other side of our living room!

Here’s our TV and makeshift gallery wall! I tried to make the gallery wall the fancy way by cutting out the frame shapes out of newspaper first and then arranging them on the walls with tape. This is a great way to do it, however (pro-tip) make sure you mark on the newspaper which way the picture is supposed to go otherwise your efforts will be in vain (not that this happened to me…) The giant book canvas was a birthday gift from Pottery Barn and the small print of the girl as well as the silhouette print at the top are from Etsy. The Sufjan album was a Christmas gift but the rest of the art is either homemade or not really art at all, just pretty things I framed.

How cute is this? I tore it out of an old planner- pretty fancy. I also have a matching coffee mug so that everything feels unified while i’m sitting on the couch in the morning watching The Today Show. Oh, that’s weird?

I’m pretty sure this I first saw this tutorial on DesignSponge. Basically, I took the contents of my parent’s junk drawer, spray painted it black, and glued it on to a canvas? Doesn’t get much easier than that!

Do y’all have any favorite crafts or ways to make a place feel more like home? Let us know!

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decorating your first place: books as art and the futon revisited

We’re back with more unsolicited decorating advice! This time we’re tackling the living room.
Let’s start with the BEFORE

Again, we’re faced with the multi-colored trim and masking tape colored walls. The lamp was a lovely welcome gift from the former tenant. We gave it a place of honor…in the basement. Another fun feature of this house were the mile long cable cords poking out of the walls in every room. A nice reminder that we’re too poor for cable.

 

Here’s the AFTER

I know I was hating on futons in my last post, and in doing so I left out a crucial piece of information- we don’t have a couch, we have a daybed. When I moved, my parents graciously upgraded my lowly twin sized bed to a full and since neither my roommate or I had a couch we decided to convert the leftover mattress into a couch. We scored a cheap daybed frame from Craigstlist, used my old Anthropologie quilt, and accessorized with tons of cheap pillows from Target, Pier 1, and World Market. Since our apartment is pretty small, it’s great that we can convert the space into a guest room when we need to. Plus, it’s much easier to convince friends to visit when you can promise them a real bed and not a sleeping bag on the floor. The walls are painted “lemongrass” and we painted the trim white (I’m going to keep bringing this up because you need to know that I painted all the trim. In the whole house. All of it. It was quite the undertaking.) The chair and ottomans are from Target and the shelves are from Crate and Barrel (although you can buy cheaper versions at Target now), the rug is from Crate and Barrel as well, but it was a floor sample so we got a great deal on it. And yes, we have the ubiquitous “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster, but I really did have it before it was cool!

Books are one of my favorite things to decorate with. Nothing annoys me more then when I see people completely fill bookshelves without breaking them up or doing something interesting. It’s such a good opportunity to display your knick-knacks (which I own in spades)! I’ve seen color-coded bookshelves all over blogs, but wasn’t inspired to try it until I saw it for myself while visiting Andy and Lindsey’s sweet Chicago apartment. First of all, I was shocked by the number of orange and yellow books I owned- who knew? It adds some visual interest to the space and it’s easy to change if we get bored of it. That’s actually my favorite thing about these shelves, they’re easy to rearrange and it gives the room a fresh feel without rearranging furniture. The photos on the green shelf are old family photos I found at my grandma’s and the peacock feathers are Christmas ornaments that I taped up.

Hmm, what’s all that furniture pointed at,  you wonder? No surprise here, it’s our TV. (True story: When I was in elementary school a classmate told us he didn’t have a TV and another classmate asked incredulously “What is all your furniture pointed at?!” #America) You’ll have to check back next time to see that wall though. Until then, let us know your favorite decorating tips!

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decorating your first place: a primer

Before Katie left for Chicago, we were sitting in my newly decorated apartment and we had a conversation that went something like this.

Katie: This house is really cute, you should blog about this.
Emily: Oh gossssh I would never do that, I don’t want our blog to become some wannabe Design Sponge.
Katie: Okay, well if you want to you can. It really does look nice.
Emily: Okay! I’ll do it! Geeze, stop begging me.

I’m no interior decorator but I pretty much pulled an extreme home makeover on this place. When I moved in the floors and windows were filthy, the trim was 3 different colors, and the walls were painted a depressing “masking tape beige” in addition to being noticeably crooked. Luckily, my mom, the original Martha Stewart, came to my rescue and flew into town for a few days to help me decorate and we really turned the place around. So much so, that every time Joe, our handyman, comes over (which is often) he just walks around shaking his head and saying “Y’all made it mighty nice in here, looks like one of those fancy magazines.”

I think it’s really important that your house look nice and feel inviting because we are adults now and sometimes we might want to invite our fancy adult friends over for drinks (or, more likely, to watch Gilmore Girls) and we’re too old to be sitting on a futon. I grew up with a mom who was constantly redecorating and rearranging our house and i’d like to think some of it rubbed off on me. So i’m going to take some time over the next few weeks to tell you what I know about decorating (and, also, let’s just be honest I want to show you pictures of my cute house) in the hopes that you futon-dwellers will realize it’s not that hard after all.

First, let’s start with the BEFORE
(ps- I took all these pictures on my phone. Deal with it.)

This is my room, it has a ton of light and a convenient view of the stone wall that separates us from the highway. The trim is 1/2 original wood and 1/2 2×4’s painted brown. Lovely….

 

It also has a fireplace and two of these awesome stained glass windows. It is notably missing a closet, but we’ll get to that later.

 

Here is the glorious AFTER

My decorating mantra previous to this house was something along the lines of “color explosion” so I tried to calm it down a little for my grown-up grad student room. I painted all the trim and fireplace white (I cannot recommend Glidden’s trim paint highly enough. I now consider myself an expert trim painter and this is truly magic paint, one coat will cover even the darkest of trim with no sign of brush strokes. And, duh, I’m not getting paid to say that because we don’t get endorsements- who do you think we are? The Midwestyle?) I painted the walls a pale mint green and got some fluffy white rugs from Target that i’m sure will feel nice once winter arrives. My bedding is from Anthropologie, which is definitely pricey, but it sets the tone for the whole room and you use it every day! I’m still debating dropping the cash on a headboard, so the shams will have to suffice for now. The curtains are $7 each from Target and we used them in every single room. (Full disclosure: They are thumb-tacked and super glued onto the molding.) I’m notorious for seeing things on Pinterest and saying “I can do that!” and the art on the mantle is proof of that. Katie, no stranger to crafting herself, made me the piece on the far right for my birthday.

 

This is where the magic happens, people. (By magic I mean blogging, obviously.) My desk is from Crate and Barrel and the shutters are from an antique store in Columbia. The antique little boy kissing the phone has a matching little girl lamp (CUTE, right?!) that’s on my dresser. The flowers are made from old sewing patterns and pipe cleaners. Pro Tip: This is probably all kinds of illegal but I take images I like off Pinterest and print them out at Kinko’s on cardstock to hang on my shutters. And, yes, I still think it’s cool to cut inspirational phrases out of magazines. I keep my planner open on my desk so that when I am mindlessly browsing my Google Reader I can glance over and remember my massive to do list. That works about 30% of the time. The gold frame was a birthday gift from Molly and contains the police blotter entry of the time we fell through a ceiling on campus. Like I said, art doesn’t have to be expensive to be awesome.

 

This is my nightstand, which is actually an antique bar cart I got in Cape Girardeau, MO. It’s the perfect size for all my books and sleeping pills. (Stop judging me.) The silhouette is me at age 5 and the clock is from Pottery Barn Kids and shows you the temperature of the room also, which I really enjoy because it adds a new degree of specificity to my wintertime complaining i.e. “It is LITERALLY 55 degrees in this house!” The hot water bottle was a Christmas gift from Restoration Hardware and I absolutely use it every winter because it makes me feel like I am Laura Ingalls living  on the prairie.

So, what have we learned here?
1. Antique stores are your best friend. They’re cheap and if you’re willing to put in the time you will definitely be rewarded.
2. You can make that. See some art you like? Take a trip to Hobby Lobby and then spend an afternoon crafting while watching Friday Night Lights. You’ll save money and everyone will think you’re artsy.
3. It’s okay to invest in good pieces. My bedding and my desk are on the pricier side, but I’m not planning on getting rid of them anytime soon so that softens the blow a little.
4. But don’t spend a ton on everything. The majority of things in my room are handmade, from an antique store, or Target. Target is really where it’s at, y’all. Their design sensibility is always spot-on and their pieces are great quality without being too expensive.
5. If you can paint- do it. It’s cheap and makes the biggest difference. Pro Tip: Coerce your friends into painting for you by making them dinner and putting on an awesome playlist. Or just bite the bullet and do it yourself, it’s a great time to catch up on missed episodes of This American Life.

Do y’all have any decorating tips? Let us know!

 

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A letter to my {42 year old} self

Dear 42 year old self,
I hope this finds you well. I hope see this and smile, thinking of the 22 year old version of you: optimistic, fresh, and two days shy of moving to a new city.

Does everyone still call you Katie? Or did your romantic anglophile notions of being called Kate eventually take over? If so, I hope you are wearing a black pencil skirt and Warby Parkers. I bet you look smart and sexy, like Kate Winslet.

I digress…

I hope you don’t feel old. I’m sure you are the same in many ways as you were at 22, drinking Blue Moon on porches and starting but never finishing crafts on Saturday mornings. Knowing us, I’m sure you haven’t let the obligation of the adult routine stop you from being spontaneous, relaxing for more than the occasional Sunday afternoon, and enjoying (and I mean really enjoying) your family and friends. If you’ve faltered here, don’t fret. It’s never to late to be a kid again.

Do you have kids? Do you have a husband? If the answer is yes, then I hope you have a yard and a porch. Are you the sort of mom you always wanted to be? I hope so…I hope you take walks with your kids and read to them every night. Don’t forget to read your daughters Anne of Green Gables, and after this is done please watch the movie. Do this at least once a year. Also, make sure you play in the snow with your kids. Don’t ask why…just make sure you do.

What is your husband like? I hope he smells good and makes you breakfast for dinner when you don’t feel like cooking. Did you take awkward engagement pictures? If so, don’t display them around the house. Please, just don’t. Most importantly, make sure you are spontaneous with your husband. He is your life partner and best friend after all.

Did you ever revisit Wales like you wanted? Please tell me you still have an up to date passport. If not, then march your ass to the nearest post office and fix that immediately. If you haven’t been out of the country in over 10 years, then plan a trip. Go to Greece, South Africa, or Norway. Those are places we’ve always wanted to go.

Most importantly, just remember that you don’t have your shit together yet. There is always room for growth and change no matter how comfortable you are. Break bad habits, find a new hobby, and love everyone better.

There are still adventures to be had. Keep laughing at yourself.

Love,
22 year old Katie
P.S: Did the economy ever turn around? Just wondering…

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guest post: an open letter to my slanket by molly mulcahy

We’re not saying that if we write a post about how much we love you that you have to write a guest post in response, but is is a very nice trend. Plus how could we say no when Molly asked us if she could write about something so near and dear to her heart?! Because of Molly the slanket has become an important part of my life and I hope you make some room for it in yours.

Dear Slanket,

First of all, I am so sorry for all those people who think you are a snuggie! That crappy piece of polyester sold at Walgreens has nothing on your luxurious, warm fleece. You’re a classy blanket with none of that weird team sports/college mascot crap.

Who would have known you would be large enough to adequately warm two college students in the depths of a Midwest winter? More often than not though, we spend most of our time wrapped up just you and I. We lounge around on a Saturday morning eating breakfast and cruising the internet while watching Selena Gomez kill it in some Disney movie (that Emily probably made me watch grudgingly but that I now love). How did I do all three of these things at the same time before you?! I’ll tell you how:
a very awkward mix of sweatshirts, gloves, and a blanket from my childhood I may or may not still sleep with.*

We’ve had some good times together, indeed. The times we spent on the roof at Brickhouse, smoking cloves and drinking beer while you helped me memorize flash cards for the CPA exam. (sorry for that burn mark, btw.) The times I tricked company into thinking you were a normal blanket. “Wow!” they’d exclaim, “This blanket is so warm and soft!” and I would whip out your sleeves and exclaim “Aha! And it has sleeves!” Lets be honest, that kind of freaked some people out. We had several more outdoors + cloves + beer adventures once I moved to Kansas City. You were always a faithful friend, encouraging me to watch just one more episode of the West Wing. We bonded over how smart and witty Josh Lyman was. And we even made sure that LemonLyman.com wasn’t real…(but we were secretly hoping it was.)

Did I mention I have a dog? Yeah, he loves you too, maybe a little bit too much (sorry for the humping incident last week, I swear he’s getting fixed). We’re both anxiously awaiting the days we’ll get to spend with you this winter in my new house. Well, its actually really a old house and probably doesn’t heat very well, which is why you will fit in perfectly! I’ll drape you over the obscene amount of goosebumps forming on my legs while we cruise Pinterest and excitedly watch Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks hate and love each other over AOL in You’ve Got Mail. Speaking of the internet, here’s a cheer for the faithful friend who brought us together. Well played, interwebs, well played.

Love always,
Molly

* this is a may.

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a married girl’s guide to being single by molly cover

We promised and now we’re delivering! Here is the long awaited guest post from Molly Cover, a person we know and like. Molly knows a lot about almost everything (case in point: she gave me an expert opinion on bed bugs recently- who knows about stuff like that?) so it’s only fair that we pass her knowledge on to you! Enjoy!

I am, by no means, a marriage expert. Having 2 and a half years of experience under my belt hardly qualifies me to give much advice. And while I feel like I’m improving in some areas—cooking, keeping house, not crying all the time—I have a long way to go.

But one area where I AM an expert is what I miss about not being married. Please don’t misunderstand. I love my husband and I love being married. He is my very best friend and I can’t imagine my life without him. Still, from time-to-time there are some things I miss about being single. Things I wish I had appreciated more when I didn’t have a boy in my bed. So single girls: listen up! I hope you’re looking forward to marriage, because you should. But in the meantime, take heed. Enjoy these things. They WILL go away.

1. Having your own bed. As referenced above, I now share a queen size bed with a BOY. A 6’2” boy and a 30 lb. dog, to be exact. I got this bed my sophomore year of college. It was comfy, spacious, and all mine. I could sleep wherever I wanted. Now I am confined to one side of it. Most of the time said boy and dog take up ¾ of the space while I’m left to fend for myself and hold onto the covers for dear life. So all my single ladies, enjoy your bed while you can. Buy a ruffled quilt from Anthropologie and snuggle up with a good book. Watch Hulu in bed while drinking a generously-poured glass of wine and eating cookies. There is no one to judge you. In the meantime, I’ll be the one sweating underneath a dog-blanket and eating Oreos over the kitchen sink before bed*.

2. Shopping. I miss shopping. For me, getting married meant growing up and having a budget. As a single gal, I could afford to pay my bills AND where cute dresses. Not anymore. Now I’ve got cash in envelopes and a house payment to worry about. J. Crew sale? Why even bother?! All of a sudden I’m thinking about things like buying furniture and landscaping the backyard. Still awake? Didn’t think so. The moral of the story here is: look cute.

3. The non-existence of Fantasy Sports in your home. They exist now and men (especially my husband) love them. I assume that some girls probably love them too, but I refuse to believe that any woman genuinely loves sports. I just don’t buy it. You can make ESPN.com your home screen and talk about trades (those happen in sports, right?) but I will never believe you. Ever. Before marriage I thought that fantasy sports were things that boys did when they were too nervous to talk to girls in junior high. It turns out that grown, married men get emotionally invested in fake-owning football players. It is also a very real part of my life that I cannot escape. Hold on while you can, sister.

4. Snacks as meals. You know how sometimes you’re hungry for everything in your pantry? It’s ok, we all are. So you just make a plate of cheese, crackers, veggies, fruit, chocolate, fruit snacks, whatever, and that is dinner. I usually accompany said dinner with a glass of wine or rogue beer I find in the back of the fridge. I could also eat this way every night. But apparently men like an actual meal. They don’t want snacks.

In conclusion, I’m not suffering here. It is just different. Different isn’t bad, it just isn’t the same as what I would choose. But that’s ok. We’re saving for a king size bed. My mom still takes me shopping when she notices that my shoes look old and sad. Sometimes David is too busy to watch sports and I get to marathon episodes of Four Weddings while eating only cheese, apples, and candy until I’m full! What I’m saying is that it is all going to be ok. Marriage thrives on compromise, but don’t be afraid to hold on strong to the things you can’t live without**.

*Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

**Pedicures, duh.

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