Change Is Coming

The time for immense change is upon me. 2020 marks a new year for most and a new decade for some who choose to think of it that way. For me and my partner, it’s a little bit of both while also being one of the biggest years of our lives. Normally, I don’t buy into the whole “This year was the greatest of my life!” or “Last year was the most I’ve ever learned.” But with 2020, well, it will literally be one of the years with the most change in my life.

First off, we’re getting married in October, so that alone makes this year worthy of being one of the biggest, most momentous years for me. Most would say a wedding marked the biggest time of their lives, and while it’ll be a memorable occasion, we like to look at weddings as a little party for a couple celebrating life rather than some “huge day with a huge amount of change.”

In addition, we think that buying a home fits perfectly with getting married and inspiring new change in our lives. So we’ll be enlisting the help of our families to help with the home buying process and the steps of moving into a new home. I foresee a lot of cheap moving boxes in our near future, and with those come a lot of sweat and blood. But in order to look out for our own equity, a little sweat equity is needed.

If those two things right there don’t mark a single year as one of the most change-inducing years for someone, I don’t know what else would. Considering we’ll be switching jobs in one month, buying a home a few months later, and then getting married not long after that, a lot is going to be different for us. And they’re the sorts of changes we need in our lives. With increased square footage, we can feel free to do more projects around the place, do a lot more cooking in a bigger kitchen, and even renovate a room to make as an audio room. (And that may involve bringing some cheap moving boxes full of vinyl records along with us to supply for that very room.)

I think 2020 will be one hell of a year for us, and though change can be a cause of anxiety, we’re in it together, meaning it’ll only strengthen our relationship and our lives for the better once it’s all over.

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Moving Into a House

With a new decade comes lots of change. And though I’ve long been a naysayer concerning new year’s resolutions, I know that this year more than any other makes sense to have resolutions. And that’s because it’s the turn of the decade.

You see, from one year to the next, people seem to make the same resolutions for themselves and constantly fail to uphold what they’ve promised themselves they would do. I think this happens because a year is just not enough time to really buckle down and do some pretty major changes. Yes, it’s possible to complete most things in a year’s time. The problem is, to do this you would either need to focus all your time and effort on that thing or you’d need to be superhuman. Considering most people have a full time job and social life outside of that, the big resolutions we set for ourselves can be too lofty to complete.

But now that a new decade is here, things look a little different. And I’ve been encouraging people to tackle their own new decade’s resolutions instead of new year’s resolutions.

For me, this entails finally seeking out a home to buy with my partner. I think it’s the point in our lives where it makes sense to buy a home and help build our equity. Just as well, we’re both becoming more established in our fields, and so our financial situation allows for such a big change.

But it’s not something I’m trying to cram into a single year. Consider we’re also getting married this year, the year itself is already full of new changes. Who wants to be messing with packaging supplies and moving boxes in the middle of the year when a wedding still needs planned?

So that’s why I’ve set out a few goals to accomplish this year that helps me reach my loftier goals that exist for the decade. Yes, we’ll eventually have to tackle the project of finding a new home and moving, and yes, that involves so much packaging supplies. But if we can break down our goals into more achievable tasks that aren’t jam packed into a 12 month period, well, I think we have a much better shot at accomplishing those goals or “resolutions” in due time.

Ultimately, it’s about looking multiple years down the road and not focusing on the here and now. With this sort of perspective, anything is possible.

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Embrace Your Inner Child

Sometimes I get to thinking about how grown ups (adults, in adult terms haha) don’t do enough things that children would do. This is an easy way to keep their lives interesting, always on the move, and unique enough to be interested in something new, but everyone says they don’t have enough time to do the little fun things that instill happiness. It’s quite easy to fall into a boring, monotonous lifestyle that consists of work, cooking dinner, cleaning up the place, putting the TV on for an hour or two, and falling asleep to get ready to do it all over again. For me? That’s not a life I want to lead if I’m seeking happiness and fun.

Kids seem to have an extremely fresh perspective on the ways of the world, and that’s because they haven’t lived long enough to let their mind’s filter get in the way of fun. I envy them for that reason alone and wish I could go back to a time when everything was new and weird and interesting. It’s that thought alone that makes me realize that I truly do want to be a kid at heart for the rest of my life. Some people throw that phrase around like it’s a bad thing, but to me, it’s one of the best things you can be described as.

I understand that there are a lot of responsibilities I need to consider as an adult, but why would I want to be the same boring adult that everyone else out there seems to be? Especially when I could still have fun with my own interests and hobbies while also trying out new things with my friends and my partner. Something I’ve come to realize is that crafts are a super simple answer to that problem. I’ve always thought that I was pretty uncreative and bad at art, so it was a bit daunting at first to even consider crafts.

But my suggestion? Grab a few cheap moving boxes and break them down into flat pieces for painting. As a medium, cardboard is a very industrial variant that can be rough, everyday, or quite clean. The good thing is, you’re not spending anything out of pocket for those cheap moving boxes. The better thing is that you can scrap the piece once you’re done if you’re not satisfied or just don’t have the room for it.

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Gift Giving and Its Implications

Holiday gift giving is a tradition that always piques my interest, if only for the fact that people in America have grown so accustomed to the idea that they feel obligated to be a part of it all. The fact of the matter is that no one has to do it. It’s just what families and even friends have come to expect from one another, and so everyone continues to give gifts as if they each owe each other something.

Of course, gift giving can be a negative thing if one party has a lower socioeconomic status, because then the gifts exchanged between two parties aren’t “equal” in terms of value. This can cause resentment from either party, or it can cause people to fall out. Obviously I’ve never met someone who has fallen out of good faith with their family all over mere presents, but I definitely have heard stories of certain families becoming angry with one another around the holidays for very similar reasons.

If anything, I think the presentation of it all can make up for the price differences between gifts, and that’s something that packaging supplies companies benefit from largely around this time of year. When you think of some of the coolest gifts, the first thing you probably think of is uniqueness and application to you and your own interests. There’s no substituting for something that just speaks to you when you open it. THAT is the greatest feeling about loving something someone got for you.

But when you think about some of your other favorites, I guarantee you that the presentation and packaging played a big part to you without ever probably realizing it. Whether it was the twine or bows on the gift wrapping, the pattern or design of the wrapping paper, or just the color scheme that your gifter came up with, these things can really be memorable and stand out. Who would’ve thought packaging supplies would influence your perspective on a gift so much?

I think that, ultimately, we all need to temper our expectations around the holidays when it comes to gifts. For me, I ask for less and less each year and also give less and less. Sometimes people find this weird, but I think that my presence at holiday functions and the ideas I share with people close to me are what matter most. Sure, I could buy you a $20 trinket that I’m not sure you’ll ever use, but what’s the originality and genuine interaction in that?

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A Simple Gift for Those You’re Not as Close To

It always surprises me how quickly Christmas comes around from one year to the next. One moment you’re out celebrating the 4th of July with family and friends on a lake, barbecuing it up and soaking in the sun, and the next moment winter is upon you, you’re wearing multiple layers just to stay warm, and your holiday shopping has snuck up on you.

Obviously this is a good problem to have considering the winter holidays bring lots of food, time off, drinking and cards with the family, and gift giving galore. But still, it just baffles me how quickly a year can go by when you’re living every day to its fullest. More often than not, the more fun you’re having in your day to day life, the quicker a year goes by. It’s a weird correlation, but it’s the same as it always has been: if you’re waiting around for hours for something to happen, time goes so slow. But if you’re occupied and having fun, that event will arrive in no time.

So, I’ve been trying to think of a catch all gift that I can give to my friends, family members, and coworkers that wouldn’t be the primary gift for each of them but rather something small to get the holidays kicked off. And after thinking up a ton of different cheap items, I settled on one that is likely super easy to pull off while not breaking the bank in the slightest: candy boxes.

Don’t get me wrong, I know candy boxes don’t suffice as their own gift. But for something that can accompany other gifts, they’re really not a bad idea at all. From trying out new flavors of chocolate to being able to share multiple candies with the rest of your family, boxes of candy are great for thoughtful holiday gifts.

The other thing to consider is that you can gift these to family members or coworkers whom you’re not that close to and it’ll pass off as a “thinking of you!” gift without making anyone upset they didn’t get anything at all. I know politics within the workplace or family can cause you to grow distant to a handful of people, so getting them something small but traditional is never a bad idea. All it takes is going out to get the goods and making the presentation somewhat nice and you’re golden with those people.

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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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