Farmers Markets

In the past year or so, my fiancee and I have been going to our local farmers market from time to time for a multitude of reasons. There’ve been times we just wanted to check out who was there and what was going on. At other times, we just wanted to take the dog along with us to meet other dogs and have a snack in the morning. And even other times we went solely to gather a good amount of groceries for the week.

One thing is for certain, though. We love going to farmers markets now, and that’s a fact. There’s nothing cooler than experiencing your own local culture and vendors. Being able to talk with the farmers and vendors about their products, how they treat their animals, what they grow their produce with, and more is something you won’t get anywhere else. There’s no option to do that when you go to a Kroger or Walmart or Meijer. There’s no one there to answer your questions, inform you on their products, and quell any concerns you may have.

But at a farmers market, all of those things happen and more.

Sometimes you’ll get people saying how it’s more expensive and that they don’t like that. Price is an understandable reason to stray away from these things, but I cannot vouch enough for the freshness and taste of all of the products I’ve already had at my farmers market. It’s unparalleled, and it’s great to know I’m supporting local vendors instead of people or companies that do the best they can to undercut competitors, pay their workers lower wages, and worse.

One thing I know that my partner and I can do in future to help ourselves have an easier time, though, is bringing along a few cheap moving boxes. Sometimes when we bring our reusable bag, there’s not enough room for all the different types of produce we end up walking away with. I think it would help to have a few cheap moving boxes to carry our produce around in, which we can then put in our vehicle once we head out. Too often I find bigger vegetables crushing smaller ones, and I think it’s important to keep certain things separate.

Regardless of how we handle these problems, I know that we’ll be making a point to go back to our local market every Saturday when given the chance. We simply connect too much with the people, the atmosphere, and the food we come away with.

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On the Move

Throughout my life, I’ve moved around (as in, packed and unpacked my vehicle with my belongings) so many times that I wouldn’t be able to tell you how much I’ve truly done it. In fact, I’m almost positive that I’ve become a nomad, even if it’s only by definition from the percentage of time I’ve been on the move.

I think that I used to like the fact that I would hop around from place to place, moving in and out of apartments, dorms, and even crashing on couches. I was proud of the whole “up and moving again!” thing simply because it meant I was “adventurous” and free.

But then it got pretty old. I realized how often I was doing it, how stressful it could be to pack and unpack and load up my truck and unload it. It became time consuming, it wore me out, and I generally started to wish I could stay put in one place for at least a few years.

Well, that all changed once I moved in with my partner over a year ago. We’ve already renewed our lease at this apartment for another year because we enjoy the area so much, meaning I’m able to stay in one place for at least two years. That’s actually something I haven’t been able to claim for the last 6 years, if I’m not mistaken.

Now, while we will be moving out next summer which is just another move in my life, it’ll be to a new house that we eventually buy. And that, quite honestly, has been the ultimate goal for me for awhile now. Sure, it’ll be more moving and unloading than I’ve ever done in my life, but it at least has a sense of permanence attached to it this time. All the packaging supplies and moving items I’ve accrued in my years will yet again get some recognition and use, though this time may be one of the last that they’re put to full use. I’m not a huge fan of my meager collection of packaging supplies in the first place, but you know what? They’ve done me well throughout the years, to the point that I never had to go out and buy a new moving strap or new cardboard boxes.

Moving is a bittersweet activity. On the one hand, you look forward to the new place you’re going and are happy to be upgrading “well, most of the time it’s an upgrade.” On the other hand, though, you’re leaving behind a place that you have called home. It can be sad to say goodbye to an old abode, but it you look at life as constantly changing, it’s actually a good thing to move and switch it up.

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Art and Shipping

I never quite realized the need for specialized cardboard boxes until I came across art. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t have figured that it was art which would lead me to learn more about such shipping materials.

Here’s the thing: there are a lot more cardboard box variants out there than you’d probably realize. From small to big, rectangular to cylindrical, cardboard comes in many shapes, sizes, forms, and specialities that you probably wouldn’t know about unless you owned awkward shaped possessions that needed to be moved or shipped safely.

So, one of the types of cheap moving boxes I’m really talking about is picture boxes. You know, flat, rectangular boxes solely used to ship pictures and paintings and art? These are the ones that you’d never bother to go out of your way to buy unless you were an artist yourself or owned some more expensive paintings. Otherwise, why go to the trouble to secure a specialized box if the contents weren’t worth something to you?

I had the realization that these sorts of boxes had to exist when I was at a museum this past weekend. While I never took myself to be one to enjoy viewing art, I quite enjoyed myself getting lost in the artists’ pieces at the GRAM up in Grand Rapids. And that’s when I began to ponder the price of some of those pieces.

A little lost in thought, I wondered how it was that some of those paintings and pieces could be shipped from one museum to another (whether it was purchased, donated, or borrowed). And that’s when it dawned on me: they’ve got to have some sort of sturdy, reliable box out there that both protects the art within and secures it well enough to withstand some jostling in transit. Lo and behold, I come to find out that there are specific boxes meant for framed art or pictures. While museums everywhere likely don’t use cheap moving boxes for their pieces, I do know of some cheaper variants for consumers out there if they were worried about a keepsake of theirs being damaged on a move or while shipped.

Like anything, there’s always a solution or product out there that fits your needs. It’s no different when it comes to art or paintings or portraits. Be sure to ensure the safety of your possessions by grabbing some sturdy cardboard boxes made to protect your belongings.

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How to Get Great Boxes – For Free!

Here we go again – my 7th move in 6 years. I was literally turning into a nomad. I was more comfortable living out of my car than I was living out of a house. However, I realized that every time I moved, I always chose the worst type of boxes to move my stuff in. The boxes were always flimsy and hard to hold, making moving my things potentially hazardous. Throughout all of these moves I had had several boxes break in the bottom and my most valuable items put at risk.

I decided for this seventh, and hopefully last, move, that I wanted to properly prepare and make sure that I got the correct packaging supplies to get the job done the right way. But upon deciding this, that led to the next question….where do I even go to get good boxes? I am also getting married and getting ready to leave on a honey moon, so money is pretty tight. I was determined to get good boxes, but also determined that I would not be paying any money for them.

I plotted out the circuit of all the places that immediately came to mind that would have great boxes. After touring as many big home improvement and hardware stores as I could find, I quickly realized that if I wanted their packaging supplies and their good boxes, I was going to have to fork over some pretty serious cash. Who knew that a decent cardboard sized box could cost $2 a box?! It does not sound like that much, but when you are buying 10-20 boxes it really begins to add up. I really did not want to pay anything at all, so I started to do some creative thinking, and began to think outside the box, if you will.

I am a frequent shopper at big box stores, which allow you to transport your groceries out in the boxes that the food gets delivered in. I had seen some massive boxes there in the past, so I decided to swing by and check them out. Sure enough, costco had some awesome boxes at the front of the store that, if you can believe it, let me take the boxes away for free. I was ecstatic and quickly loaded up my car with as many boxes as it could hold.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my experience and to learn how to avoid paying a lot of money for moving boxes and the supplies needed to package everything up. And remember to continue thinking outside the box!

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Planning for Buying a Home

We all hit a point in our lives when we should be focusing on the more mature things, the responsibilities that are upcoming, daunting, and a little worrying. These are the things we are likely to put off longer than we should simply because accepting the reality of our near future is a scary and uncertain thought.

These are the things, though, that we usually can’t afford to put off, and so when we do we end up putting ourselves behind schedule or even missing out on opportunities, causing us to settle for less. These things usually manifest in buying a home, planning a wedding, looking for a new job, or relocating to a new city.

I find myself in the home buying and wedding planning categories. These are, perhaps, two of the most exciting things for a mid 20-year-old, but they’re also scary to think about if you don’t know the entire process or have the help you wish you had.

The good thing is, I’ve got at least a year to plan the wedding and around 10 months to start looking for new homes. My fiancee is great about looking for homes (far more than I am), so I’m thankful to have someone at my side who is even more enthusiastic about the entire process than I am.

The thing we’ll need to consider when the move does come, though, is having plenty of cheap moving boxes to pack all of our smaller belongings in. We’re lucky to have her dad, who owns a furniture store, since he’ll enlist help on moving and has plenty of trailers to put all of our furniture in (and he gives us new furniture from his store, too). In fact, we’re extremely lucky for these things since it makes the entire moving process much simpler and less stressful than if we were to not have him.

So really, it just comes down to being prepared for the move by having everything boxed up in these cheap moving boxes. Finding or purchasing some won’t be any hassle at all. It’s just all about having everything ready to go when the move comes.

And yeah, I won’t mention the home buying process itself since that’s an entirely different beast altogether, one that will rear its head in about 6 months. That’s when the excitement and stress truly begins. That’s when I’m sure my fiancee and I will have many a debate and stressful conversation about the future of our little life, since buying a home is no small task.

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Reading is a Lifelong Learning Experience

Over 4th of July Weekend I finished a 300+ page novel. In fact, I did it in just three days without devoting more than 8 or 9 hours total to the book.

It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve read this much in such a short amount of time. I’m not sure if the author was so compelling that I was blazing through the material wanting more or if I was just in the zone and would’ve finished any book in this time. What I do know, however, is that I sincerely miss reading that much.

Let’s take a step back. I used to read a lot of novels in middle school and early high school. Like, at least one a week. And I was happy when I read. I was healthy, I slept better at night, and I felt like my vocabulary expanded a reasonable amount. There was nothing else I would have rather done with a few hours to myself than read. It would get to the point that I would bring my book anytime my parents drove me anywhere (whether it was a two hour drive or just a 15 minute hike down the road to the grocery). I’d say “Hold on, hold on, I’ve got to finish this page” when they would be getting out of the car, and it would get on their nerves at times.

I want to revisit that time in my life by reading as much as I used to. I want to feel like I’m actively gaining knowledge and experiences and analyzing the material I read from multiple perspectives, too. I used to read just for fantasy’s sake, to escape. But now, I want to bring into my life what I read and make it a part of who I am.

There’s much to be said about reading habits, different genres, what sorts of authors you like, and if you’re a fast or slow reader. None of that truly matters if you simply are reading, I believe.

I think buying books is one of the best investments anyone could make, because that single book can be read multiple times by multiple people. It can impart its knowledge and its stories on you many times in your life, each time giving you a new perspective on the same content.

That’s why I use packaging supplies to create makeshift bookmarks and leave my annotations in books. I’ll fold up packing tape as a cheap (i.e., pretty much free) bookmark and I’m known to write little notes within pages on some cheap label tape. Heck, I’ll put label tape on the covers of my books with specific things like “read again in ____” with a year in the blank. Packaging supplies have been a great way for me to enhance my reading experience while also keeping organized enough to know when I last read something and what I learned from it.

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4th of July Festivities for 2019

When it comes to planning for the holidays, things can get out of hand and you can underestimate the amount of guests you have coming over. Heck, you can underestimate the amount of hot dogs you’ll need for the grill and even short yourself of beer for when the night goes on!

Planning, then, all comes down to being prepared more than anything. It’s okay to get more alcohol than you think you’ll need. Why? Because you can still drink it the weekend following! It’s fine to have more meat than you figure you’ll grill, because you can just grill it all the next day to get rid of any excess you had. It’s all a win win so long as you have enough.

But what happens when you’re underprepared and understocked? Well, people get hungry, people sober up, and the evening isn’t as fun for everyone as they had originally thought.

That’s why I’ve got a short list of supplies you’ll absolutely need when this weekend rolls around. I’ll have you so stocked that you can party Thursday night through Sunday afternoon!

Party supplies.

These include your fireworks, the napkins and paper plates, and other random office or even shipping supplies you wouldn’t think of to begin with. For example, don’t you think having some extra packing tape or cheap moving boxes would be nice for having a mini fireworks base to shoot off of in the evening? All you’ve gotta do is break down those cheap moving boxes, set them up as a base, and tape mortar bases to them.

Activities.

Activities make the evening last. You don’t need to go overboard with activities, especially if it’ll break the bank. Just try to get someone to bring a cornhole set and have some extra solo cups sitting around for beer pong and you’re golden. And if someone has a lakehouse to party at? Well, that’s all you’d really need for a memorable 4th of July in order to have fun on the water and in the sun, drink what you want, and grill out by the lake! And don’t forget the tunes. Music is what keeps the party going.

Food and drinks.

Here’s the best suggestion I can give when it comes to food and drinks: overstock your fridge. If you run out, well, things can get boring, people will sober up, and stomachs will begin to growl. Of course, you want to tell your guests to bring their own drinks and contribute to food if needed. But the best thing you can do as a host is overprepare and overstock unless you want to run out of stuff in the middle of the evening/weekend.

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Supplies & Chores

Ever think about putting your kids to work to help out around the house but you’re never quite sure where to have them start? Or maybe it’s a slight fear you may have of what chores they can actually handle (especially if they’ve never done chores before)?

Well, there are a handful of cleaning tasks around the house that they can easily handle, you just may not have thought of them initially. The good thing is that a lot of these suggested chores pull the most weight in transforming your home from meh to wow. How’s that possible if they’re easy for your kids to pick up and do in on time, though?

Because these chores are the ones that make the most difference when actually tackled. You’ve just been putting them off for weeks or months because it’s a little extra labor for you. If you happen to spur forth some ingenuity and think about making your life easier with the right preparation, from using random packaging supplies to planning out your time better, you’ll be on the right track.

With that said, let’s dive into a few of my favorites that children won’t even mind if they’re doing it with you.

Cleaning the floors.

My mom had my brother and me do this about once a month. We would start by sweeping the floors, both of us with a broom in hand. This helped to pick up all the hair, dust, dirt, and other granules of who knows what before anything else.

Then, though, was where the magic happened. She would get out two hand towels, one for each of us, and soak them in warm water with some dish detergent. From there, all we did was spread them wide, put a foot at the end of each side of the towel, and then “walk” it around the floors which would scrub it down, yet we never had to get on our knees and inevitably complain about it.

To me, this was genius because it took no time with 2 or 3 people, no one was breaking their back to mop the floors, and it was almost kind of fun for us kids. Sometimes it was easy to place some stripped up packaging supplies (like cardboard that was broken down) beneath our feet but above the wet towels for more traction. The result? Absolutely sparkling floors, something any guest would notice right off the bat as they walked into the house.

Wiping down windows.

Talk about a task that takes no more than 10 to 15 minutes and yet is easy but will make a huge difference. I remember fighting over who got this chore with my brother. We were always wanting to do this first as it was an easier chore, yet mom would always praise the window work more than just about any other chore. Why? Because it’s so noticeably better when there’s no apparent window in front of you. If you can see handprints and smudges, though, it’s easy to notice a dirty window. When all that’s gone? Everything is crystal clear and beautiful.

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Home Projects Can Be Fun

This past weekend I took a trip back home to pick up my dog from my parents and hang out with them for a day or two at their place. I always forget how much I truly enjoy staying at home and just soaking in the countryside in the small town I grew up in. There’s zero worries, zero effort to just hang out, and a lot of fun and good conversation to be had.

Something that was particularly fun for me was helping my dad set up his outdoor pop up bar.

To give you a bit of context, my parents own two houses with three plots of land (one per house and then a plot between the two). This is all on the outskirts of our small town, so it’s essentially a big open expanse of pasture between their houses.

Well, my dad is always busy constructing something new for their home and property during any hours he’s not at work. This time, he was building structures that would be able to roll out to the field, stand up, and function as a little “bar” of sorts, almost like a tiki bar you’d see on the beach.

While I know he was using a decent amount of packaging supplies just to get things started, a big part of the project was cutting big patches of plywood to make “tables” of sorts for the bar itself and for the two stands to sit at.

Basically, he wants to use two whiskey barrels as the bar’s base, so he’d be able to roll those out to wherever he wants, lay the rectangular piece of plywood on top, and have a little bar. Then, he’d use the two giant rope spools (think of a small plastic spool that has thread around it and magnify that spool by about 200 times) as tables to hold umbrellas and have chairs to sit around them.

Again, I’m not sure what all packaging supplies and tools he used, but it seemed pretty minimal considering the biggest part of it all was just making the table tops and boring holes in two of them for holding up the umbrellas.

Needless to say, once we were done setting things up, it actually looked like a legit little pop up bar with protection from the sun, places to sit down and set your drinks, and even storage for beers so that you wouldn’t have to walk all the way back to the fridge in the garage for more drinks. Talk about a vacation spot within the boundaries of your own home!

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Essential Items to Have at Bonnaroo

Considering I’m about to make my second 5-day trip to Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival outside of Manchester, Tennessee, I’m starting to get a good grip on what’s needed for packing, how tight the vehicle will be after you’ve loaded it, and what you can afford to leave behind and what is an absolute must-have item while on the farm.

So rather than ramble on about the packing process itself and what packaging supplies you should have handy, I feel inclined to share with you some of the items that you should consider absolutely essential when traveling down to the middle of Tennessee for live music, good vibes, and summer heat camping.

Toilet paper.

Always, always, always bring a few rolls for yourself and never go to the bathroom (read: portapotties) without your own TP. You never know when the toilet paper in these bathrooms is missing, wet, used (ew!), low quality, or even ripped apart. So rather than risk it each time you go, just bring your own from home. Trust me, this is the number one item all fellow Bonnaroovians will suggest packing first.

Low sitting, portable chairs.

This product would make packaging supplies experts out there very proud simply because they break down into small pouches that are lightweight and out of the way. And I’m not talking traditional lawn chairs here. I’m talking about the little camping chairs you can break down and load into a small bag or the very low sitting chairs that fold up, are lightweight, and can attach to your backpack.

Chairs in Bonnaroo need to be under 12” off the ground at the seat level, but once you hit this parameter, you’ll be glad you brought one and will never look back. From sitting in pit lines to giving your feet a break between acts, chairs are a godsend out in the heat. You’ll be able to conserve your energy, take a nap, and give your body a break between bouts of dancing with these.

Multiple bottles of sunscreen.

Don’t ever go down to this music festival with under 2 bottles of sunscreen. I’m telling you what, you’ll be applying sunblock about 4 to 5 times a day out in the blazing sun, and you won’t even care if it’s wiped in perfectly.

So long as you’re covered from head to toe, you’ll be good to go. You won’t even care that you look a little weird if white spots are on your shins or shoulders because, honestly, no one cares. People all understand that your safety and health come first and foremost, as that’s what they’re thinking about themselves.

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