As you know, I’ve spent the last 11+ months living in Portland, Maine with my boyfriend. We’re from Connecticut originally and I spent 4 years living outside of Providence, Rhode Island for college. Chris never got away for school so we wanted to have a little adventure for a year, really soaking in a new place. Our time in Portland is coming to an end and I’m so incredibly grateful that we were given this opportunity. I say this because my boss let me work remotely for a full year and didn’t even blink; she’s kind of the best. Anyways! The point of this post isn’t to reminisce on what we’ve done so far, but to think ahead to when we move home in a couple of weeks (eeeek!). We’ll have a house instead of an apartment and TBH I am most excited to not share walls or floors with other people for the first time since basically high school when I lived at home with my parents. We’re moving to a very suburban (almost rural with all the farming around, I guess) area that’s a bit farther from our hometown, so there will be a lot to get used to. We’re actually going to be living 15 minutes from UConn and all of the great restaurants in that area, so I’m pumped. I started to think of all the lifestyle moves and changes I want to make that I just haven’t been able to pull off since we moved here. Everything in Maine has been so temporary and we’ve done a really good job of not buying too many things while we’re here because we didn’t want to move it all back. I want to implement a lot of these changes or new ideas when we move, because we hope to really settle into the house and not have to move again until we BUY a house in a few years.
Things I’ll implement when we move
(1) Meal prep and food organization
One thing I’m terrible about right now is genuinely preparing meals, more specifically for daytime/lunches. This is because (a) I work from home right now and will just peruse the fridge when I’m hungry for lunch and (b) Chris works overnight and just fills up a bag with a frozen breakfast sandwich and snacks to have throughout his shift. We technically don’t have much of a reason to prep lunches. This is something I DEFINITELY need/want to do when I start at work again, even just to make my calorie counting easier. When Chris and I are both heading off to work during the day, we should be able to grab something out of the fridge and call it a day. I want to prep on Sundays so that everything is taken care of throughout the week.
I mentioned a while ago that this Buzzfeed article inspired me to be better about eating all the food I buy (instead of forgetting things and letting them expire accidentally). I want to use similar ingredients to create multiple meals instead of buying one item for one meal and not finishing it ever.
Where and when I shop
I do some impulse buying when I shop at Trader Joe’s but honestly I could be much worse at this. I stick to my list the vast majority of the time. My biggest issue is that I often buy too many things that will end up expiring before I eat them, because I don’t like to grocery shop too much. I need to balance frozen vegetables vs. fresh ones, freezing meats to keep them around longer, etc. My plan is to shop at Trader Joe’s for a lot of things I need, Stop & Shop for quick or cheaper things instead, and my friend’s dad’s meat store for bulk meat purchases that I can freeze. I want to support his business and his prices are SO good. I can stop there once a month to stock up on meat and do little grocery trips a couple times per month for everything else. I also want to use online sites like Brandless or Thrive Market when they make fiscal sense.
Our new town is well-known in the state for having an unbelievable Farmer’s Market. I know it could be more expensive but I absolutely plan on shopping from some local vendors, especially for produce. We’ll see what the price difference is but I think I’ll enjoy that environment a lot.
(2) Eliminate clutter and utilize storage methods
We have a lot of clutter-y stuff packed away in boxes right now, because we didn’t bring 80% of our belongings to Maine with us. We’ve been living pretty minimally up here and it’s been nice. Don’t get me wrong – I love my books, decorations, picture frames, Lego sets… but we just have SO much stuff. Moving into this house and really sifting through our unnecessary belongings will hopefully be really helpful. I’ve investigated some storage-related ideas on Pinterest too because we’ll have a storage shed but minimal closets. We’re going to keep some stuff in Chris’s parents’ basement as well.
(3) Buy things we’ve put off
There are quite a few household items that would make our lives easier that we’ve been putting off buying. When we moved here, we were just going to be as minimal as possible… even if that meant frustrating ourselves at times. One example of this is a drying rack for clothes. We’ve always wanted one because I air-dry a lot of my clothes (any of my normal tops, our jeans/pants, etc.) and we usually fling them over railings, hang them from hangers off of various surfaces, etc. It’s a pain, to say the least. I used to get panicked about shrinking things, even my household/pajama shirts, so I’d barely dry ANY of my clothes. Luckily I got over that recently and have been drying my loungewear, so a small drying rack should do the trick!
(4) Budgeting tools
I used to use YNAB but got too lazy and frustrated. I’m not great with money (especially saving it) so I’ve just kind of… avoided doing it. Our budget and bill-paying system was weird over the past year because Chris wasn’t working for a while and we were operating off of some money we saved. We did this on purpose and it worked really well for 6+ months. It’s gotten more complicated with other expenses (relating to moving, weddings, etc.) coming up so we need to start figuring our money stuff out now for the next few months. However, I plan on paying for and starting up with YNAB again after we move home (and potentially earlier).
(5) Cull clothes, reorganize how I store them, and buy a dresser
Can you tell that my biggest overarching goal is ORGANIZATION? Yep. It’s hard to be organized when all of your stuff is scattered across three different houses / two different states. I plan to get rid of a looooot of clothes because (A) I’ve lost a bit of weight in the last two years and (B) I don’t wear so many things. Our closet space in the new house is going to be limited, comparatively, so I need to revamp how I store my clothes too. Right now, I hang pretty much any shirt and dress up. I fold my lounge shirts and bottoms to store them, but I should also do this with other types of clothes. Unless the shirt or dress needs to hang to retain shape and lose wrinkles, I should fold it. I have plain cotton tee shirts hanging up and cardigans getting stretched out by hangers. We’re going to be getting a dresser or two when we move because we’ll need to keep our clothes in there. Chris currently has 98% of his wardrobe in one of those clear Rubbermaid dressers so we need an upgrade.
(6) Make a cleaning/rotation schedule
I have to admit, I’m really bad about keeping up a cleaning or laundry schedule. I DO clean… I just don’t do it on specific days even though my life would be easier. I also want to be better about tracking my makeup and related tools and brushes, so I can clean them according to a schedule and throw things away as needed. I’ve been looking into getting some kind of divided notebook that will keep schedules and documents (things that don’t change related to specific times, so I wouldn’t put them in my yearly planner).
(4) Buy/plant flowers, start gardens, and create an outdoor space
This is slightly more toward Chris than me, since he has a green thumb and I have a brown one, but it’s worth mentioning. The house we’re renting has some perfect spots to add gardens and plants. I want to get some pots with pretty flowers for the front section of the house and a few things for the back porch. We want to get some string lights and a patio set for eating and relaxing outside too. There’s a container for fires but it’s not super cute so maybe we’ll get a little fire pit instead.
(5) Scheduling bills and paying things down
I feel like I’m constantly saying “I’ll pay this down in a few months once X happens” but I need to stop doing that. After the next month or two of expenses, I have no excuses. I need to be much better about saving money. This goes along with the “buy stuff we’ve put off” section except we need to SAVE whenever we can. I also want to be better about automating my bills. I currently have 2-3 monthly payments that are automatically taken out and I would love to have 90% of them automatic instead.
(6) My health
I’ll be real here for a sec: I haven’t been to a doctor in a very, very long time. I never stepped away from my pediatrician when I was “done” with her and found a new doctor. It’s a long story. I plan to get better about seeing doctors of all kinds (I do go to the dentist frequently though).
New area bucket list – summertime and beyond
(1) Attend a UConn basketball game
If you follow ANYTHING in college basketball, you may be aware that the UConn women’s basketball program is all kind of amazing. They have unreal amounts of NCAA records (including beating many, many men’s things) and are overall just absurdly talented, no matter which year you look at in history. I hope to go to a Women’s game because it’s been probably 10 years since my last one.
(2) Explore the restaurants near UConn and go to the Dairy Bar
The new Storrs Center has so many new stores and restaurants! A lot of them have some foods that I REALLY love and we usually struggle to find. They have bubble tea (and Chris’s fave avocado smoothies!) and Insomnia Cookies (soooo good) and countless other options. I hope to check them all out and spend a lot of time over there. I also NEED to get my ass back to the UConn Dairy Bar because their ice cream is so good and it’s been years since I’ve had it.
(3) Take advantage of our new location by exploring now-closer towns
We’re living 40 minutes from our hometown and we’ll be closer to the shoreline, Rhode Island, and just new places across the state. I’m excited because it opens up new possibilities of towns we can check out regularly. This is along the same lines as the previous stuff I mentioned, but we can expand beyond Storrs Center and explore soooo many places near the CT shoreline.
(4) Host my friends for a housewarming in the fall
I know I’m moving in June/July, but my group of friends still has a lot going on this summer. My friend just got married the first weekend of June and we have another friend (in the same group) getting married over Labor Day weekend. We have her Bachelorette trip in July, among many other trips and events being scheduled. I don’t think I’d be able to have that couple over until they get back from their honeymoon and move to Connecticut in September… so I’m thinking it’ll be early October for an official housewarming dinner/party with that FULL crew of friends.