Slow Down and Say Yes






Hey, remember me? I've been gone a little while. I took a break without really meaning to, it just kind of happened with summer ending and classes beginning. I think it was good for me, and I've been thinking about coming back, but I've also been thinking about now because hey, I have a thesis to write, and this blog IS a bit of a distraction. And then I read this post from my bff Nicole over at Writes Like a Girl. I started to write a comment and then I had a response and a story to every single thing she said. So I'm back, and I'm saying them.

Nicole talked about being weighed down by complication, and laid out a plan for simplification:
// be kind, no matter what
// don't get worked up about things that haven't happened yet
// do what feels good, not what I think I need to
// surround myself with objects that are useful or add beauty to my life
I don't know how or why this has happened, but I feel like the older I've gotten, the less tolerant and patient and kind-hearted I've become. I grew up with a not great home life so with the pretty great life I'm living now (poor, but otherwise good) it seems counterintuitive that I should be less kind. Maybe I've just gotten jaded, or had too many friendships end weirdly, or have been in too many arguments, or have too much stress and expectations weighing me down. It's not that I'm a mean person, I just want to be more patient and give people the benefit of the doubt and be kind no matter what, and I feel like I used to have that. I want to go back. I want to take time. I want to reclaim kindness.

I have been having stress dreams about moving. Seriously. I have a full year left in my program and I'm already thinking about afterward. I mean yeah, I do have to start applying for jobs and fellowships really quickly. It is a year of finishing things and transitions. And I'm in a relationship that started here and maybe part of me thinks it when we leave here. And said otherwise awesome boyfriend is currently unemployed, meaning he's stressed and not in the best of moods. And then his mood catches and I'm not doing so hot myself. I'm behind on my thesis. Yikes, I'm a hot mess right now. So, let's pause. Let's not get worked up about things that haven't happened yet. My thesis due date has not yet arrived. I haven't even started applying for jobs yet, so let's not think about job prospects or moving or unemployment. This is not the time for worrying. This is the time for doing.

My summer babysitting gig is over, and though I wasn't originally intending to have any regular work besides teaching during the semester, I actually ended up taking a part time babysitting position with a five month old. Best idea? Maybe not. But, when I was thinking about whether or not I should do it, I told Andy that I was actually kind of looking forward to it (Baby time! Cuteness overload!) and he said that I should do it. So I did. And while the timing does pose occasional scheduling conflicts with school, I'm really glad that I'm doing it. Not something I'm "supposed" to be doing, but hey, it feels good and it gets me a little extra money.
As a GTA, I really do not make great money. It's actually enough to pay my bills and that's about it, so I've been fairly practical with my purchases. That's great, but recently I've been looking around and noticing that very little of what I have is "for fun." My shoes are pretty neutral so they match with most of my clothes. I don't really have any pretty knick knacks; everything has a function. My only real "for fun" kinds of purchases besides dining out and alcohol is makeup, which is nice and all but I've started yearning for more prettiness in my life. Which makes my life sound so austere which it isn't, but I want an impractically tall, bright pair of heels or some pretty things to sit on my desk. I have so many practical things that I want/need that these things get forgotten.

This semester I'm making efforts to do more. More exercising, more writing, more (attempting) publishing, more editing, more reading, more fun. But I'm also planning to do less of the things that I just don't have the energy for anymore or give too much time to, like caring about what people think of me, trying to dress perfectly for every situation, wasting time on the internet, and watching shows that I don't love. We've only got so much time on this planet, people, so let's spend it being ourselves and doing the things we love and being surrounded by people and things that are kind and beautiful and inspiring. That's all we can hope for really.

Yours Truly, Jen
P.S. The title of this post comes from this post by Casey Leigh. Check it out.

Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll-ups

I saw this recipe over at Bless This Mess and thought it looked different and delicious and didn't have too many ingredients. Plus I already had a box of lasagna noodles sitting up in my cabinet waiting to be loved, so I decided to go for it. I've adapted her recipe a bit based on my preferences and whatnot.

Let's start out by cooking our noodles. Add a little olive oil in their because no one has time for stuck together noodles. Cook following package instructions. I made half a box (11 noodles) and one ended up sticking to the bottom. You always have to throw one away with lasagna noodles.

While your noodles are cooking, take care of the squash. I realized as I was getting started that I have never worked with a butternut squash before. Seriously? It seems like people are always working with squash on the food network. I was a little apprehensive about messing it up so I watched this video. Thanks internet!

True story: peeling a butternut squash is a bit of a pain. You peel a spot once and it takes off the outer skin, but then you have to peel again another time or two to get the icky white stuff off. After peeling and chopping, this is what I ended up with.

When your noodles are nice and tender but not mushy, remove from water with tongs and lay out in one layer on a clean counter.

Throw your chopped squash in your noodle water, bring it up to a boil, and throw a lid on it. Reduce heat and let cook for about ten minutes, or until fork tender.

It's blender time. Throw your tender squash plus a tiny bit of water in your blender and mash puree. You could also use a food processor for this. I broke mine making bread. Boo.

Throw some salt in there for flavor. Blend until it's nice and creamy.

Throw together a simple white sauce. Melt some butter over medium heat, then add in some flour. Let that thicken up.

 Slowly whisk in milk. Add nutmeg and salt for flavor. Whisk frequently until it starts to bubble. Remove from hot burner.

 Assembly time, and it's real simple. Bring your pureed delicious and your Parmesan cheese over to your noodles (the original called for shredded which I think would be delicious but I didn't have any on hand, so I just used grated).

Spoon the squash down the length of each lasagna noodle. This is not an exact science people.

Sprinkle parm over noodles. As much or little as you like.

Roll up each noodle from end to end. Fit into a greased glass pan. Get creative.

Pour prepared white sauce all over the top of your roll-ups, then cover with shredded mozzarella.

Pull from the oven when it's hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted and lightly browned. That's the good stuff.

Take a terrible picture of your served up food and consume. I was too eager to try it to bother with lighting and things.

This recipe was fairly involved, but it was different, delicious, meatless, and clean. I also loved that it's easily doubled if necessary. This made enough for Andy and I with leftovers for each of us, so it easily serves 4-6 people. You could double it without much extra trouble to serve a large group or bring to a potluck. I will definitely be making it again.

Yours Truly, Jen


Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll-Ups



3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
dash of nutmeg
salt to taste
1 butternut squash
10-12 lasagna noodles
parmesan (grated or shredded) to taste
about 1 cup shredded mozzarella


1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and grease a glass baking pan.
2. Cook lasagna noodles per package instructions. Remove from water with tongs and lay out on a clean counter.
3. Peel and dice butternut squash. Put in leftover noodle water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for ten minutes or until fork tender.
4. Puree butternut squash in blender or food processor. Flavor with salt to taste.
5. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Let cook for additional thirty seconds.
6. Slowly whisk in milk. Cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and set aside.
7. Assemble roll-ups by spooning squash puree down the length of each noodle. Sprinkle with desired amount of Parmesan cheese. Roll up from end to end and place seam side down in prepared glass pan.
8. Pour white sauce over roll-ups and cover with shredded mozzarella.
9. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Allow to rest five minutes before serving.

Flexible & Affordable Makeup Storage

Last week I shared some makeup organization inspiration. After that I was itching to get my makeup good and organized as soon as humanly possible. I started shopping around online and found a couple of acrylic pieces that I thought together would fit the amount of makeup I have nicely. I quickly realized that with the cost of shipping (I hate that the Container Store charges so much for shipping!), these two pieces were going to run me fifty bucks and I thought, we can do a little better than that. One afternoon when I got off early from work I headed out to shop around and see what I could find, and I'm really happy with what I came up with. It's cheap, easy, attractive, and makes my morning makeup routine a breeeze.

The first thing I got was a clear acrylic tray by Caboodles from Target. I instantly loved how compact it was (instead of lots of little bins and things), not to mention functional and attractive, plus it only cost about fifteen dollars. Helpful side note: there are a couple of different places you can look in Target for makeup storage type things. The first place (and where I found this tray) was by the beauty products, next to makeup bags. There were only a couple of tray options, so they would be easy to miss. I also found cosmetic storage stuff in the home section down what I guess was technically a bathroom aisle (shower caddies and such). They had a bunch of countertop organizers and some under sink basket and drawer options and such. I looked at a couple of countertop options that were a little cheaper than the tray, but they were a little taller than I like and were regular plastic, not acrylic, so they didn't look as nice.

I decided to stick with my tray, but didn't think all of my lip products would fit in it. The tray that I had been looking at from the Container Store came with a lipstick tray and this didn't, but I have a lot of stains and glosses which aren't the standard lipstick size, so that wouldn't have been a solution for all of my lip products anyway. I went looking around for a individual bowl-type thing or two to keep my lipsticks in. I browsed down the candle aisle and found a really pretty candle holder for seven or eights bucks, but it wasn't big enough for everything and was expensive enough that I didn't want to buy two. Down another aisle I found a little square glass vase marked down to five dollars, and I looked at it for a couple minutes and almost put it in my car, when I was like, duh, I see stuff like this at the Dollar Store all the time. So I bought my tray and headed over there, were I found these Libbey brand (you might recognize the name from cheap glass kitchen items like wine glasses and bowls) candle holders. I bought four just in case.

Here's what we started with:

I got them in my designated makeup shelf in the tiny bathroom I share with my boyfriend and realized they fit perfectly!

The lighting in the bathroom is atrocious. Sorry!   
After a little trial and error, here's what I've come up with.

I have red and orange type shades in the jar on the left, and pink and other shades in the jar on the left. My face and eye makeup brushes go in the two back jars. I keep them sorted like this to make each brush easier to find, but if I needed to I could combine them in one jar and use the third jar for something else. In the back of the tray I've got my foundations/bb creams, blushes (I did not realize how many of these I've collected until now), and bronzers. Next to that in the four little sections I have eyeliner pencils, liquid eyeliner, gel liners, and mascaras. In the little compartment on the far right I have a couple of different concealers. On the front left I have all of the eyeshadows that I "use" (I tried to weed out any that I simply never use or don't like), with multi-shadow containers (duos, quads, etc) lined up and creams and individuals pots laid out. My palettes sit stacked on another shelf. The front right compartment just has my pencil sharpener and a couple of powders in it right now, but I like that it leaves me with some room to grow.

The tray cost fifteen and some change, I believe, and the four glass jars were a dollar each, so all of this storage only cost me about twenty bucks. That's thirty dollars less than what I almost spent! I'm really happy with it, plus these are pieces that would transition well to a vanity or dresser top. Flexible, affordable, and effective is exactly what I wanted. This storage system obviously wouldn't work for someone with a huge collection, but it's just fine for an every gal.

Choose Your Own Granola Adventure


Let me tell you about granola. My mom used to make all different kinds, playing around with toastiness and dried fruit and nut combinations. It was the bomb. One time in college she made a gimundo batch and gave me a big tub of it to eat because she's sweet like that. I lived in a dorm all through college so I never cooked. Those were sad years, because before I went off to dorm land I was known for my brownie-making skill. Since I've been in grad school and living in homes with actual kitchens, and dating a guy who truly appreciates making and consuming good food, I've been making up for lost time. After looking at several different recipes, I came up with this one. It has everything I usually want in it, plus is flexible enough to adjust to your preferences without a lot of thought.

Start out with a big ole bowl, the biggest one you've got. Throw in your rolled oats, wheat germ, bran, seeds of your choice if you want em (I didn't include this time, but often like sunflower seeds for a little saltiness), and nuts of your choice. I've used sliced almonds here but I've tried walnuts and pecans in the past. Choose one or mix it up.

 Mix it all together real good.

Put your coconut oil, honey, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar in a medium sized pot and melt over medium heat. Stir to make deliciously smooth and let come to a boil.

I know it's lame, but you need to stand there and watch the pot. Your ingredients will melt and you will stand there and think nothing's happening for maybe two minutes, and then all of the sudden your pot is boiling over while you're washing dishes or playing Candy Crush or whatever. And then you've got smoking burners and the smoke detector's going off and your roommates are like what the hell is going on in here (not that this has ever happened to me or anything). 

 As soon as your liquid gets nice and bubbly like this, turn off the heat and pour over your nicely mixed dry ingredients.

Think of this part as an arm workout. You mix and mix and mix. Keep it classy with a wooden spoon. You will probably think you're done at least twice and then find pockets of dry ingredients. Keep going!

Spread your coated granola on your parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Try to get a nice, even layer. Put in a 250 degree oven for about twenty minutes. Take out and turn over the granola to allow it to toast evenly.

At thirty minutes, pull back out and, if you want to (and you do), sprinkle some shredded coconut on top, then mix it in good so the coconut doesn't cook too quickly. Put back in the oven for another ten minutes or so.

I usually take mine out right around 40-45 minutes, but you can leave it in longer if you like it more toasty (Andy and I like ours a little more chewy). If you leave it in longer, check every four or five minutes. When it's done to your liking, add your raisins or dried fruit of choice and mix in. Allow to cool.

Please note: the granola will clump up as it cools, NOT as it cooks. You want to judge done-ness by color and texture. 

Once the granola is fully cooled, move carefully into an airtight container (or two, or three). I keep mine in these cute canisters on my counter, and store the little bit extra in a plastic tub (we'll eat this first). You may or may not have to sweep your floor after doing this. Hey, it's totally worth it!

This recipe makes A LOT of granola. If you're making it for just you, you may want to half it. However, it also stays good a really long time (we've never had any go bad on us, even if it's on the counter for a month), so even if you're only eating a couple bowls of it a week, you'll get through it all eventually. It takes a bit of work, but it's an easy, healthful breakfast for busy/lazy mornings.

What's your go-to for a quick, healthy breakfast?

Yours Truly, Jen

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Jen's Homemade Granola Recipe



8 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups wheat germs
1 1/2 cups bran (I used Kellogs Bran Buds here)
1 cup seeds of your choice
1 1/2 cups nuts of your choice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (you could throw in other spices for flavor variety if you want)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-3 cups dried fruit
Shredded coconut or coconut chips to taste


1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. Combine oats, wheat germ, bran, seeds, and nuts in large bowl. Mix thoroughly.
4. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, then pour over dry ingredients.
5. Mix wet and dry ingredients thoroughly.
6. Spread mixture evenly over lined baking sheets.
7. Baked in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Take out and turn granola over in order to cook evenly.
8. Cook another ten minutes, then take out and add coconut (optional).
9. Cook to desired level of toastiness. The oats should be golden brown. Taste some to test crunch.
10. Mix in dried fruit and allow to cool completely. Store in airtight container(s).

Evening Skincare Routine

Blogging was just not going to happen yesterday. I was on a deadline for a freelance project I've been working on and off for all summer and it finally had to be done. Which it is. So now I will share with you my evening skincare routine (Check out my morning skincare routine here and my skincare journey here).
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 I have kept my evening skincare routine pretty simple, because otherwise I absolutely will not do it on a daily basis. For a while I was reading all of these posts from beauty bloggers who talked about routines that have to be started an hour and half before you go to bed because of product leave-in time and blahblahblah and I was just like so not going to happen. This routine is quick, simple, and covers makeup removal, face cleansing, acne prevention, anti-aging, and redness reducing. Those are the target issues I wanted to hit with these products.

1. Remove eye makeup with eye makeup remover. I'm using the Up & Up brand from Target because it's cheap and works great (even on Waterproof products), but they don't seem to sell it online, so the link takes you to the Neutrogena makeup remover (which is what the Up & Up is supposed to compare to, just for a little more). Dampen cotton ball with product (one per eye), rub gently over the eye area, and rinse with cool water.

2. In the process of rinsing off my eye makeup remover, my face gets damp, so without adding any more water I apply Loreal sensitive skin wash all over my face with my fingers.

3. With the face wash still on, I go all over my face with my Clarisonic Mia, which gives a nice deep clean. Removing makeup with the Clarisonic will make your brush head a little stained looking and dingy, but eh. I used to always use two different face washes at night to make sure I was getting every single bit of makeup off, usually this all-purpose face wash by Neutrogena and then a targeted face wash, but I've actually found my skin to be clearer since switching to this method (not to mention less time consuming). I do not use my gel cleanser twice a day because it dries me out. I have tried using gel cleansers with my Clarisonic and that dries me out really bad. I basically only like to use cream cleansers with my Clarisonic and that's worked out well for me. Side note: I've used expensive cream cleansers, and I love this one. It does not irritate my skin and works perfectly with my Clarisonic. Side note 2: yes, I use my Clarisonic just about every night. Sometimes on the weekend I'll take a break from it, but I've never experienced any problems. I've read some places that you should only use it 2 or three times a week, but I really like the way it completely removes my makeup and keeps my face clear. You really just have to try it for yourself and see what works for you. Side note 3: The Clarisonic is an investment. If it's not in your budget, save up (that's what I did) or ask for it as a gift. You can also purchase cheaper models like the one from Olay if you're not sure if you'll like it.

4.  Swipe witch hazel on a cotton ball all over face and neck.

5. Apply this Alpha Hydroxy lotion all over face and neck. Okay, so a couple of things about this product: the bottle recommends you do a patch test, and I would recommend that too. The first couple of times I used this it irritated my skin somewhat (felt tingly/itchy), and I broke out. I stopped using it and went back to it a while later, had no more problems, and my skin has been so much better. This says it's for dry skin, but I haven't found it too be overly heavy/greasy. I only use it at night (the bottle recommends use twice daily) because it causes sensitivity to the sun and I just don't want to deal with that during the daytime and once a day is enough for me. This product is awesome for acne and anti-aging. Only use a tiny bit! A little bit goes a long way. If you're using a retinol or retanoid you can alternate nights between this and your other product. This product is super affordable, especially for an anti-aging product, and if you scroll through the reviews on Ulta you will definitely want to try it. Plus, one bottle lasts about a year and a half with once daily use (for me anyway).

6.  Let lotion soak in for a couple of minutes, then rub a couple of drop of seabuckthorn oil onto face. This oil does a bunch of good things for your skin: it's moisturizing, it reduces redness and inflammation, and it's good for acne. I do not use a moisturizer because I use this oil, but if you have dry skin you can always combine. I know you're like ew, I'm not putting oil on my face, but it's awesome. I have somewhat ruddy complexion, and this really helps balance it out. Side note: the bottle tells you to put a couple of drops on each affected area, but I only use a couple of drops for my whole face.

Occasionally I do a mask, but that's a whole other post, folks. When my skin was really bad I obsessively did masks because I thought they would fix everything, and now that my skin is pretty cooperative I don't do them very frequently.

This routine is seriously the period at the end of my day. After this I know it's time to read or play a little game on my phone and go to sleep. It's calming and methodical to go through this routine and once you've invested in all of these products, you won't have to replace most of them for six months to a year.

What's your evening skincare routine like?

Yours Truly, Jen

Let's Talk Cohabitation: The Money Edition

This is the time of year when people tend to move a lot. My boyfriend and I moved into the house we currently live in (rental) on July 23 of last year. We celebrated our one year house-iversary with cheesecake and roses. He remembered, I didn't. It was pretty special. Before we moved in together, we were basically going back and forth from my place to his, so it made a lot of sense for us to move in together even though we'd been dating for less than a year when we moved into the house and for only about five months when we signed our lease. We also both had to move at the time for various reasons and after talking about it a lot we decided to look at places and see how we felt. We found the house we live in now and fell in love with it. The move felt right for convenience and financial reasons, and neither of us saw the relationship ending anytime soon. But I digress. Discussions of good and bad reasons to move in with someone is a whole different subject, but that is an abbreviated version of our story.

When you move in with a special someone for the first time, there's a lot of excitement and a little nervousness. Here is someone who will see you without makeup on, with whom you will share a bathroom, who will witness your ups and downs. But there are a lot of little logistical things that you don't necessarily even think to get nervous about or make preparations for until they come up, and then they become topics of awkward discussions and possibly arguments. Cohabitation is a lot different than marriage in a lot of ways (unless you're living together with the agreement that you have no desire to get married but will function as a married couple); it's a high commitment relationship (I mean, there is a contract i.e. lease involved) but there is no promise of forever. You pay separate taxes. You're probably not thinking about children yet. So, unlike marriage, where you join assets and start a life together, you plan on forever even if it doesn't work out that way in some cases, cohabitation is more tentative. In order to cover everything related to cohabitation I would have to write a whole book, or at least an extensive series of blog posts, but here's the financial side of things as I see it. Whether you're getting ready to move in with someone, have just moved in with someone, or are simply considering moving in with someone, here are some of the financial things to consider, discuss, and make a plan for (This is designed with a S.O. in mind, but many of these can also apply to platonic roommates. Also, the language is set to his and mine since that's my situation, but please plug in the pronouns that apply to your situation).

1. Rent, bills, and other set finances
This is probably the most obvious one, but I feel it should be mentioned just because there is no one way of doing things and a lot of people think it's impolite to talk about money. It is, and it sucks, but when you live with someone it's a topic that comes up a lot. Andy and I split our bills down the middle--rent, water/sewer/trash, electricity. If one of you makes more money than the other, you may want to split things differently. I know some people take charge of certain bills, like I pay cable and internet and you pay electricity, so you have to decide what you're both comfortable with.

2. Optional monthly fees
Optional expenses like cable, internet, and Netflix should also be considered. I don't feel like I need cable, but Andy really wanted it. We talked about it, and at the price we were able to get it I felt okay paying for half with the caveat that if the price went up we would re-discuss. If one of you absolutely does not want to/have the ability to pay, the other has to consider if they will do without or pay the full amount. Will you each keep your own Netflix subscriptions or share one?

3. How separate do you want to keep your stuff?
Presumably, you are both coming in with things of your own and will be sharing many of these things like furniture and dishes with the other. Presumably, if the relationship were to end you would leave with the things you came in with no argument. But what about the stuff you acquire during the relationship? For example, would you go in together for a big ticket item like a flat screen TV? Or do you want to be able to point to things and clearly say that's his and this is mine? Andy and I have chosen to keep our purchased stuff separate at this point, but we have been given some joint gifts by family members.

4. Will you share groceries?
This goes along with the previous point, but is a slightly different issue because it's not something you keep. You have a couple of choices with groceries. You can choose to keep things separate, meaning each of you pays for and consumes you own food, you can split groceries, or you can do a combo of the two. Andy and I cook a lot, so we split most of our groceries. I'll talk more about our shopping methods in a different post, but basically we agree upon a dinner menu for the week and split the cost of those meals, as well as staples like eggs, milk, and bread. We also have individual items such as lunch foods (which we usually eat separately), snacks, and sweets that we get for ourselves, so we pay for these ourselves. To make checkout quick and easy, I put the whole total of the groceries on my credit card, then go home and highlight our individual items on the receipt. I deduct the cost of our individual items, divide the remaining total in half, and then add on the cost of his individual items, resulting in the total he owes me for that shopping trips. Usually he writes me a check every couple of week for his grocery money and I pay off the credit card.

5. Uneven Expenses
I have a car. Andy doesn't. He got along fine without a car before I came along, enough that he doesn't want to get one of his own, but he likes being able to use mine in bad weather or when he needs to get somewhere quickly or far away. Also, anytime we are going somewhere together, we take my car (obviously). For the most part, I am happy to let him use my car. However, I have the added expenses of car payment, care insurance, maintenance, and gas that he doesn't, yet the convenience of having a car on hand. For now, he has the financial and chore responsibility of the outside of the house as a way of evening this out slightly. He is responsible for lawn maintenance, including cost of tools, etc. He also has permanent trash duty. When we go on trips or anything that requires an unusual amount of gas, we split the cost of gas, and if he uses an unusual amount of gas on his own, he pays for it. Sometimes he'll buy me dinner or drinks when we're going out instead of chipping in for gas. The burden of payment still falls on me (and I can totally see why he wouldn't want to pay for it, since he didn't ask for the car and has no rights or ownership to it), but we've done our best to make it less of an issue. Trust me, you do not want to not address issues like this, because these are the ones that most often end up with passive aggressive behavior due to unhappiness or irritation.

6. Budget
This is probably the area in which Andy and I have been least successful, since neither of us are organized or super restrained in the kind of way that good budgeters are. However, having at least a general idea of how much money you should be spending on certain kinds of things is really important. When you add up all of your fixed monthly bills, how much does that leave you?  How much then would you like to spend on groceries? How much does that leave you for dining out, shopping, and entertainment? How much can you save each month? Since the person you will likely spend the most time out with is the person you live with, you should both have similar budgets in these areas, unless one of you is going to pay for both of you for those types of activities or one of you goes out more with other people than the other does. Otherwise, one person will be wanting to go out more or to more expensive places and the other will be put in the awkward position of having to say no, I can't afford it, or make the bad decision to charge it. If you like to go on trips or are planning for a wedding, you might like to agree on an amount for each of you to save each month.

Those are the big conversation topics for me, and the ones we had to work to find amicable situations with most prominently. What money advice do you have for cohabitators, or what questions do you new cohabitators have?

Yours Truly, Jen

Back to School Checklist Challenge



Sometimes I wish that summer was endless. I'm going back to school in less than two weeks and I'm just not ready yet. With that in mind, I'm making myself a checklist of things to get done before classes begin to make my transition back to school as smooth as possible.

1. Get makeup and hair organized (see my makeup organization inspiration post here).
2. Along with point 1, get bathroom all cleaned and organized.
3. Transition closet from summer to fall wardrobe.
4. Update Closet app to incorporate new clothes and remove items digitally that have already been removed physically from my closet
5. Make my office a clean, organized, inspiring space.
6. Clear out digital clutter on my computer and organize files.
7. Write at least 20 pages for Thesis.
8. Make homemade bread.
9. Make homemade granola.
10. Get out of town and do something fun. Hiking? Camping? Weekend trip? Nice dinner out?

What are your plans for this end of summer?

Yours Truly, Jen

Makeup Organization Inspiration

I've talked before about the bad spending decisions I made in college, when I had fewer bills and a brand new interest in beauty. Beauty products continue to be something that I struggle to restrain myself from over-purchasing. Most beauty products can be easily shopped for online, and you don't have to worry about them not fitting. You don't have to worry about gaining a couple of pounds and them no longer fitting. You get to play around and try new looks. There is a promise of smoother, more natural looking complexion, or longer lashes, or a different flush.

People, I've got a makeup collection.

It really isn't that big. I'm pretty good about pruning items I don't like or use or that are old and icky. If you do a quick "makeup organization" Pinterest search you'll see some pretty extensive makeup collections, and mine is not that big. But, I have not yet found the perfect way to organize it, and so I don't try new things as much and there are lots of pretty eyeshadows that aren't getting used.

Last night I got a real itch to search around for some makeup organization inspiration. Over the summer I've been going to the pool quite a bit with the kids I currently babysit, so I've been limited to only waterproof makeup so I haven't really been playing with eyeshadow or anything anyway. Now that classes are getting ready to start and my babysitting position is about to end, I'm wanting to get my makeup more organized so that items can be quickly and easily found and that I'm more inspired to use the products I've invested in.

 I covet her cleanly organized drawers so hard. I watched this video the other day and it's probably what gave me the itch to get my makeup more organized.

I love vanities. They are so pretty and inspiring and I swear if I had one I would just sit around and do my makeup all day.

I love the clean modern/vintage look of this one, but it definitely does not have enough storage for me.

I've recently started looking at more pictures like this, which are less of the old glam vanity and more contemporary, makeup-artist, behind the scenes of a movie set type look.

This one reminds me of a hairdresser's station at a salon, and I love the idea of having a place where hair, makeup, and skincare can all be housed and used.

A tower like this doesn't give you a station to work at, but if you had room next to your dresser or vanity in the bathroom, it would give you one space to keep all of your stuff.

I love these wide, ultra divided and organized drawers.

Unfortunately, after looking at all of these inspiring photos, I started to think about my current living situation and the limitations I'm dealing with. I used to have all of my beauty stuff in the hall bathroom, which isn't big but is at least a little bigger than the closet of a bathroom we have attached to our master bedroom. Lately we've been having a lot of guests, so I've been relegated to sharing that tiny bathroom with my boyfriend. Yikes. I would love to have a vanity, and could make room for one in the bedroom, but the light in the bedroom isn't very good and I tend to get up earlier than my boyfriend, so that wouldn't really work with him trying to sleep while I'm sitting there at my vanity with the lights blazing trying to get ready to go. I could move my makeup to my dresser but there's the same problem as with the vanity, and I don't want to move my makeup into my office because that feels like it should be separate. So, I'm basically stuck keeping my makeup on the over-the-toilet hanging shelves which are not super deep or tall, though they are reasonably wide.

I'm in the process of shopping around for acrylic organizers. I think if I can find one or a combination of ones that would accommodate the amount of makeup I have and fit into the shelf space I have, that would be a really nice solution. I'll let you know when I end up with!

How do you keep your makeup organized?

Yours Truly, Jen