Getting Your Houseplants to Survive Winter

This summer, I got my partner new plants for the apartment. She had always mentioned wanting succulents, so I went out of my way and picked up some cute potting accessories, pots, and soil and took her to a greenhouse nearby to pick out a few of her favorites.

It was an absolute blast, and keeping up with the plants as they grow and go through different cycles and seasons has been very interesting.

However, one thing has concerned us at this point in the year, and it’s how well these plants can handle the winter. Where we’re from, the weather can cause temperatures to drop to below 0, and that just won’t work with any plants in general if you’re trying to keep them alive. Whether you stuff them in cheap moving boxes for insulation or not, they won’t make it through such conditions.

So, I’ve thought about getting her a grow light for Christmas in order to keep the plants growing strong, as if summer never left. We could even rig it up to hover over our plants in some cheap moving boxes (now they work!) so that they’re well lit, warmed, and in a container that has great insulation.

I think the only thing in my way of getting one of these grow lights right here and now is needing to do a bit more research on them. For example, how big of a light do I need for 10 different succulents? Will our bonsai tree need its own grow light separate from the others? Do different plants need different temperatures being regulated so that they don’t get too hot or too cold?

I’d prefer to buy one instead of multiple, so perhaps I need to look for a longer lamp that has separate bulbs. That way, I could just buy different wattage bulbs to artificially reduce the temperature on one and not the other.

The other thing to consider is the housing on these sorts of lamps. Do they hang from something? Are they supposed to be purchased on a ledge of a table? Can they mount to a wall if needed? How grow lights are positioned and used is dependent on their shapes, temperature settings, and light emissions. There are multiple things I need to keep an eye out for and research before blindly purchasing something online that we’ll end up sending back if it’s the wrong one.

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Making Due with What You’ve Got

I’m about a year and a half into my lease at an apartment I love, yet I still haven’t done it the service of decorating it enough to feel homey. In fact, the walls are the biggest part that show as a bit empty, something I know I could do better about if I tried.

So to combat this, I’ve recently begun hanging stuff around my apartment in order to liven up the atmosphere. But the problem is I want to hang two posters of my favorite artists in my basement. Unfortunately, the walls are pure concrete, meaning driving a nail or tack into it like it was drywall isn’t exactly an option. So, I had to get crafty.

After a bit of brainstorming, I realized I have multiple options. From common packaging supplies to other nonstandard approaches, I knew I’d have something to hold them up. I just didn’t have them with me at the apartment, so a trip to the store was warranted. With that said, here are a few items and other packaging supplies I picked up. I’m sure they’ll help you out if you ever need to hang something less than 5 pounds and only have concrete walls to work with! Drywall is far better for this stuff, but we don’t always have access to that.

Heavy duty tape.

Yes, some heavy tape (like duct tape) will likely rip parts of the back of your poster off when you’re done with it. The good thing, though, is that this stuff is meant to stick. The adhesive on packing tape is quite strong, so it should do well to stick to a cement wall so long as it’s not dirty or dusty. Nonetheless, remember that your poster most likely won’t remain intact after using this type of tape. I’d use this on your cheaper posters if you must.

School putty.

On the other hand, this is exactly what you want if you want to keep your posters around after using them on whatever walls you’ve chosen. Everyone should remember this specifically from school as you grew up. I recall all sorts of this being leftover on walls when a teacher moved classrooms or a new teacher came in. And to be honest, I never once had use for this stuff until I started collecting posters myself. Kinda funny to think about, isn’t it? The world comes full circle.

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Holding Yourself Accountable

As I’m sure most other people out there can agree on, keeping up with lifestyle habits that are particularly new is quite difficult at first. Since a habit is formed within so many days (I’ve heard 5 weeks, 22 days, and even 60 days), it only makes sense that maintaining that habit early on is tougher than keeping it going later down the road.

For my partner and me, it’s been tough to continue to cook for ourselves every night. We recently started to eat much healthier by adopting a plant-based diet, but there have been times when we didn’t want to cook and ended up ordering food out instead. This is harmless when attempting to get yourself moving forward with a specific diet (especially since restaurant food tastes so great), but the fact of the matter is it can really impact your budget if you’re not careful. And while we typically try to keep our eating out at the same price as we’d have it cooking in, that can go awry when beers enter the picture.

So, lately we’ve been trying to cook more at home, and we’ve developed a little system that has held us accountable quite well. By taking just a few cheap moving boxes and placing our produce in them (whether in the fridge or on the table if the produce doesn’t need refrigerated), we’ve been much better at being certain to use it within the week. And this, ultimately, encourages us to cook far more often.

I wouldn’t say it’s the cheap moving boxes that truly doing the work for us in this instance. Rather, it’s the idea that we’re forcing ourselves to look at it differently. And that’s what is quite useful in affecting your own motivation and willpower. Being able to look at something from a new perspective isn’t easy, and doing so to better yourself is even tougher. But the moment you find a system that works for you, like our box system, I advise you to stick with it. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending months learning a new great habit and then becoming so lazy that the habit ends altogether and you’re back to square one.

Just remember to always attempt to improve your life. This wisdom has honestly kept me on the right track ever since I realized that’s all that matters in life. So long as you’re attempting to shore up your weaknesses and improve on your strengths, you’re doing just fine as a fellow person in this amazing world.

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Holiday Gift Wrapping

With holiday season upon us, I always find it extremely useful to have my home prepared ahead of time for something that everyone loves to say they enjoy but deep down hates to do more than once: wrapping gifts.

In fact, I’ve come across a decent amount of people close to me who say they enjoy wrapping gifts, but every time I see their gift wrapping, it ends up being shoddy. I mean, no wonder they love to “wrap gifts”. It looks like they had a six pack of some holiday cheer and then got around to wrapping them and calling it done within a few minutes. This isn’t gift wrapping and it’s certainly not enjoying the actual process. It’s more of an approach that says “How quickly can I get done with this thing that I don’t like?”

If more people admitted they weren’t fans of wrapping gifts, I think we’d have better wrapped gifts simply because everyone would be honest with themselves.

Anyway, back to my original point: it’s important to be prepared and well stocked for the materials and packaging supplies you’ll need. The more prepared you are, the better your wrapping will be (and that’s primarily because you took it seriously enough to prepare beforehand!). It’s quite common sense to take your time, put some effort in, and realize it’s all part of the process we call holidays. To receive a few gifts, well, you’ll need to give a few (which includes wrapping!).

With that said, it’s important that you’re not just getting crappy tape that cost you a dollar and slapping that on some bland wrapping paper. When it comes to packaging supplies, quality pays off in dividends simply because you’re not overusing your tape, you’re not constantly ripping cheap wrapping paper, and you’re not spending extra time wrapping when you never needed to spend that much time in the first place.

I understand not everyone likes to wrap gifts, and that’s where the gift bag comes in. But throwing something in a brightly colored bag and tossing tissue paper on top does holiday gifts an injustice. At the very least, go with a brown paper bag, label it nicely, and throw in some festive tissue paper and twine. If you’re gonna shirk the wrapping, at least make the bag look nice!

Celebrating the holidays doesn’t have to be hard. But if you overthink it and try to find shortcuts, you’ll make it harder than it ever needed to be.

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How to Set Up a Productive Office

Let’s talk about something pretty important today. That topic will be your office setting, or where you work in general. I mean, think about it: Without a comfortable and familiar setting in your office, why would you have any will or drive to get projects done? For me, I need familiarity, style, and a personalized environment that fits my working mood. Having a good set up in your office is essential for keeping your productivity high and your motivation even higher.

Because of this need to have a great office setting, I recently added a couch to my office in order to keep it homey while also filling the empty space. The more space there is that’s empty in my office, the more I just feel unmotivated But with an environment more conducive to relaxing every now and then, I feel like I can knock a lot of work out at once at my desk and then kick back on my couch for thirty minutes to wind down and reset for another productive bout of work.

So, now that I’ve got that locked down, I’ve been looking at new desks, office chairs, and desk lamps. As it stands, my desk is pretty plain and my chair is alright. And I have no desk lamp. Things could be spiced up with more drawers, better (and prettier) wood, and a more comfortable chair. I really feel like these things will allow me to knock out even more things during the periods I’m at my desk for a long time.

Additionally, I just got myself a great new mouse. Before, I was simply using my little “mouse” pad on my laptop. It was incredibly unresponsive, slow, and clunky, and I’ve definitely been in need of something better. But since I got this new mouse, I’ve been able to map quite a bit of various buttons to things like controlling my volume for the music I play while also including different “productive” buttons like cut, copy, and paste. From here, it’s really just decorating the rest of my office with interesting items and useful office and packaging supplies, like staplers, new pens, and abundant tape.

In fact, I’d say that having the appropriate amount of office and packaging supplies will help me to remember I’m at work, not in my living room. But it may be hard to remember that considering I’ll be quite comfortable once I’ve got the dream set up of an office (especially with that couch).

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Candy Season

Every year when October rolls around, all I can begin to think about are the inevitable bonfires, the cooler weather warranting hoodies and jeans and jackets, and the sweet treats that fit the seasonal theme of the month.

I’ve long considered Christmas my favorite holiday, thanks to the traditions that my parents instilled in our family, but as I grow older, Halloween becomes more and more a favorite of mine. I wouldn’t say I consider the day of Halloween to be my favorite. Rather, it’s the build up to the holiday that is so much fun for me. From hay rides to pumpkin patches and corn mazes and even spiked cider and pumpkin beers, the month of October is quite the festive one. And most of all, I love that it’s all centered around the harvest season, making it quite a “natural” holiday season, rather that one themed around more manmade traditions.

I like to celebrate my October by having friends over mid month for a little get together. Usually, we end up celebrating the end-of-year holiday season officially “beginning”. So, you can often find us drinking apple cider that’s been spiked, eating finger foods that everyone has contributed, and playing some video games or listening to music and hanging out in the basement. It’s always a good time, and most of the time we end up having one of the best evenings of the year.

What makes it especially fun is the candy. I tell everyone to bring a few of their favorite candy boxes to contribute to a growing pile of candy. People willingly bring their favorites so that they can end up sharing what they like with other friends and colleagues, and it becomes this huge pile of community candy that anyone is welcome to throughout the evening. At no other point in the year do I usually indulge this much in candy boxes, so it’s nice to unwind for one night of the year to get my “fix.” Of course, the next day I’m usually left with a sugar hangover and feeling a bit groggy, but to enjoy those different treats with my friends is something I enjoy.

I think this year I’ll tell everyone to bring a recipe for their favorite alcoholic drinks, with the stipulation that each one must have a candy theme to it and include at least one candy within the cocktail. I expect most people to come with hard candy or sugary candies in mind, but some may surprise with a chocolate recipe!

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To Move or Not to Move

I’m currently in the midst of making some big decisions with my fiancee about our next year ahead of us. While I’m extremely thankful to be going through it with her and not alone, it’s still been a lot more stressful than I ever would’ve imagined. One of the biggest things our next year revolves around is if we’re staying in our current apartment or moving to a new place (and if that new place will mean purchasing a home or renting again).

Of course, it doesn’t help knowing we are also getting married next fall! Don’t get me wrong, we’re beyond ourselves thinking about the big day and what it will entail for us. Luckily, we’ve got the most stressful part of that out of the way in deciding on a venue, so at the very least we don’t have nearly as many huge decisions to make there.

Nonetheless, it’s important we make a decision on where we’re living next or if we’re staying in our apartment. If we do happen to move, we’re quite lucky in that her dad owns a furniture store with all sorts of moving trucks, so not only will we have our moving day taken care of by his company, we’ll also have access to any and all furniture we may want or need at the new place. I honestly think our biggest “work” involved in moving will simply be to have all of our cheap moving boxes filled and ready to go on the day of the move. And trust me, if being in charge of our cheap moving boxes is all we’re doing, that won’t be nearly as stressful as planning the move itself. That’s a huge burden taken off our shoulders.

It’s weird to think about moving to a new place “already”, though. I mean, we’ve only been in our current apartment for 15 months, but we absolutely adore our location and neighborhood, so much so that we really don’t want to leave if we don’t have to. It may make sense to get a home sometime soon, but lately we’ve been considering what it would be like to move west for a few years. And since we’re not sold on the idea of having kids, well, buying a home isn’t nearly as important as we first thought it might be.

Overall, every couple has to make these kinds of decisions, so we’re no different than any other mid to late 20 year olds. I just want to make sure we make the most informed decision that fits our lifestyle the best.

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Game Day Preparations

One of my absolute favorite things to do around this time of year is host NFL watch parties at my place on Sunday afternoons. Most people only tend to do this during the playoffs or on Super Bowl Sunday, but I’ve realized it’s much more fun to do it throughout the entirety of the season for both fantasy reasons and fandom reasons. While watching the games out at bars can be quite fun it its own way, being in the comfort of your own home while surrounding yourself with other fantasy league mates and friends who like your team can be a real blast.

The benefits to doing this are many, with saving money at the top of the list. If you can spend just a few bucks on drinks and food and have everyone pull their weight, it’s almost as if you never spent a dime at all. And being able to save big while also enjoying the best day of the week? That has some staying power right there. Everyone would prefer to save more money, but most don’t actually hold themselves to that.

It’s also quite fun to hang out with friends and others you know while not stepping foot outside. While I enjoy being out and about in public on gameday, there’s something awesome about staying in your own home, drinking as much as you want, blasting the TV as loud as you want, and having no “rules” to abide by that you may have to within a bar or at a game. Just as well, you can keep eating everything you want and save so much (as we mentioned above).

I like to take advantage of the packaging supplies I have on hand in order to set up a snack station for my guests. For example, I’ll take basic packaging supplies such as labeling tape and sharpies to write a few labels to stick onto bowls that may have different snacks and sauces in them. Sometimes, everyone who makes it over to my place doesn’t know me that well considering I tell friends to bring their friends. So, they may not be as forward in asking me what’s what regarding sauces and flavors and more. I just feel it’s my duty as host to be thorough and prepared for such encounters.

There’s nothing better to me than kicking back, watching football in the company of buddies, having a few drinks, and eating good food on game day. The only other thing I ask for is a Cowboys win from week to week.

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Preparing Against the Machine We Call Time

There are a lot of things in life that catch my interest. A lot of things, in fact, that I wish I could devote more time to. For example, I wish I could spend more time cooking, and spending my money on nicer ingredients to cook more varying dishes. Or on another end of the spectrum, I wish I could spend more time reading through my copy of the Chicago Manual of Style to perfect my craft when it comes to editing and tweaking my writing. (And, you know, to further the skills in my professional field.)

But, as life has it, time isn’t something that you can summon endless amounts of. In fact, time is the number one limiter to all things in life, not money. Humans could do so much more if we all just had more time. The older and wiser we became, the more advanced we would be. Of course, this is all passed down to generations as they come and go, but it still begs the question. What would happen if we were undying? Would we advance at a much more rapid rate?

Because I wish we had more time, I like to focus on the time I do have now. I used to be so mindless about my days, constantly looking forward or backwards, but never down at what was happening right then. I’ve realized how poorly I have managed my time throughout my life in doing this, and it’s led me to understand how many moments I’ve missed capturing in memory.

So, instead, I’ll focus on taking in the moment, whether good or bad. We learn from the bad and we love to experience the good, so both are valuable to remember and to seize benefit from.

An interesting way I will go about doing this from here on is creating little “memento boxes” out of cheap moving boxes that I’ve had laying around the house. Basically, I’ll take one of these cheap moving boxes and store things that mean a lot to me here and now. Perhaps it’s a t-shirt I’ll have to retire that was a favorite of mine during a specific period of my life. Maybe I’ll start printing photos and creating albums to always have (though I know this is possible digitally, it’s just not the same as having physical copies). Heck, I know I’ll be putting some of my favorite records away in these boxes as well, as music has had such a great impact on my life. The possibilities are endless so long as I’m really soaking in the moment.

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Sustainability and Making a Change

Sustainability is one of those things that everyone knows about yet not many attempt to make a change to implement. And I get it. I was one of those people just a few months ago, preaching the benefits of recycling, shopping with sustainability in mind, and more. Yet what was I doing when it actually came down to practicing what I preached? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Now, though, I’ve taken the liberty of empowering myself and my ideals by backing up what I say and suggest. Instead of just theorizing and spouting what people can do, I decided to take up the most sustainable practices in my home. This has not only reinvigorated my willingness to learn and teach others what I know, it’s also transformed the way I see these things in my own everyday life and what I can do to inspire change in others.

I can’t begin to tell you how much certain packaging supplies have helped me in creating an awesome recycling setup in our home. While some would frown upon using cardboard boxes as their recycling bins, I’ve championed their use as nonplastic containers that can eventually be recycled as well once they’ve become worn down or any unwanted bits of water start to soak through it. 

While some would find it tedious to do what I do to make sure cardboard boxes are kept around for awhile, I don’t mind the extra work. In fact, having a little extra stuff to complete actually makes me feel like this is all worth it. It starts with making sure aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and glass jars are clean by rinsing them out after use. Then, I take a paper towel and dry them out as best I can in a hurry and set them in the respective recycling box.

This has been so incredibly easy to implement, to the point that it seems like a no brainer for everyone to do. I mean, we all have such packaging supplies laying around, from cardboard boxes to packing tape and sharpies used for labeling the different boxes.

It just requires a change in our everyday lifestyle. If you can’t make a change for the world and your home, how can you ever actually make a change for yourself? People will point to selfishness in changing who they are but not the world, but the truly great changes in one’s mental and physical health usually impact the other things (like the environment) for the better. That’s the case more often than not, at least.

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