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clean house

Today, we’re being a little less thought provoking, and a little bit more practical and helpful.

Today, I cleaned my apartment. If you don’t know, I live in about 550 square feet, so I’m not exactly an expert on keeping a giant house clean. But, here’s what I do every week for base levels of cleanliness- and in what order. When I do things this way, it takes me about 2 hours or so to get my place in fine running order, and then I can go about my day!

So, here we go:

FIRST: I collect all of the dirty dishes, put them in the sink, fill the sink with water and soap, and leave those bad boys to soak. For a while.

After I start the dishes, I spend a few minutes in the kitchen. I start by putting a small bowl of half white vinegar and half water in the microwave and turning it on for about 2 minutes. During those two minutes,  I finish cleaning off the kitchen counters- trash, recycling, put things away, etc. When the microwave goes off, I place the bowl on the counter, and use paper towels to wipe out the microwave. I use the warm water from the microwave to wipe down the counters and the outside of the fridge. I check and see if there are things in the fridge that need tossed, and then I haul trash and recycling to the trash can. IMG_1325

Then, I move on to the bathroom! I put things away, first, and then use some all purpose cleaner to spray down the tub, sink and the outside of the toilet. I shake my rug out (usually out the window). I replace towels as needed. I scrub the toilet and reapply the scrubbing bubbles gel stamp thingy.

Bedroom is next. I make the bed first. And then I get any laundry that needs put away folded. I dust off dressers and clean off bed side tables. I put away jewelry that’s sitting out, and tuck any loose shoes back into their cubbies. IMG_1293

Living room is next. I deal with mail and clutter, I fold couch blankets and fluff pillows. Then I clean out the cat box and throw out the dirty litter. While I’m at it, I make sure all of my trash cans are empty. IMG_1103

Next up, floors. I use my swiffer almost exclusively. I start in the kitchen again, and I do all of my floors. Sometimes it takes more than one pass for me. Fur is a real problem around here!

Now, last step! You didn’t forget about those dishes, did you? Wash those dishes up right quick, and then wipe down the sink.

There, not so bad, right? Now you can get on with your day in a sparkling clean house! Have fun!

Vulnerability

You know what one of the hardest things in the whole world is?

Being vulnerable. Telling your truth. Especially when you aren’t proud of what you have to say.

Being vulnerable. Especially when you’re scared.

Being vulnerable. When you’re used to being strong.

Being vulnerable. When you’re ashamed.

Being vulnerable. Like, ever.

This week, I’ve had to face a couple of hard truths. The biggest one, of course, I shared with you all last night. And that was hard. I didn’t start this blog to be a downer. I started it to encourage and help people. But I also started it to be honest. I started it to practice my own vulnerabilities. I started it to be brave. I started the blog to be a superhero.

But then I realized something.

You know how in the comics or tv shows, sometimes something bad happens to the hero, or, more frequently his (why are they always men?) love interest, and the hero goes to some scary, dark place, pushes every one away and goes strong and silent? And if you’re anything like me, you scream at the page or the screen and say “YOU MORON, let them HELP YOU. You can’t DO THIS ALONE, DON’T TRY.” And then they go off and do it anyway?

Or, even worse, someone you care about in your life pulls that crap? Won’t let you help with something? Insists on doing it him/herself? Whatever it is- and whomever? And you fume and rage and think, STOP IT, LET ME HELP WITH THIS. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Well. I realized recently that I was doing the same thing. Maybe not quite as dramatically (at least, I hope), but it certainly has been affecting the way I behave.

So, in the interest of being brave, I’m trying to be vulnerable about my struggles. Because that’s a big part of being brave for me. So I hope you’ll bear with me! This is part of my superhero training.

I know the struggles will pass. I know that I have an entire village of people itching to help. But I also know that shame dies in a petri dish of honesty. So vulnerable honesty is what we’ll go with. Even when it’s difficult.

 

Superhero action of the day: find something you’re afraid of talking about. And share it with someone. Tell them how you feel. You can do it! I believe in you.

When you find yourself in a rut

Hi Superheroes!

I have a confession to make. When I found out that I wasn’t going to have a lot of work commitments this Summer, I was preliminarily excited. I was coming off a really long, work intensive and exhausting school year, and I was ready for a rest. I started thinking about all of the things I could do over my break- starting this blog, launching my professional online presence, learning new skills, working on my sewing skills, planning for next year, drumming up more work the coming season.

It’s July fourth, and I’m in a rut.

In fact, I was talking to someone about it today, and she suggested it sounded a lot like depression. She’s not wrong. It does sound a lot like depression. And to be honest? I’m struggling. I haven’t gotten very much done- most of my projects haven’t progressed past the prep stage. I’m sleeping erratically, eating erratically and watching an absolutely ridiculous amount of Netflix.

There have been extenuating circumstances. Funerals. Friends that need me. Weddings. And I underestimated how exhausted I was.

But now it’s becoming pretty clear, I’m feeling stuck and unmotivated. I know I should do more, but I find myself simply unwilling to get off my couch and do it.

And that, my friends, is frustrating. I’ve always considered myself highly effective. I have systems. I am efficient. I meal plan and prep and pack. I schedule my life down to the minute. I make lists.

But those systems only work when I’m very busy. When I only have four or five hours of requirements for an entire week… why should I bother to meal plan? When I have that much free time, it becomes easy to put off things I should do in favor of a longer walk, or a nap.

I’m not sure what to tell you. I’m going to keep trying to push through. My plan for tomorrow is to get up and put in a full work day… away from my couch and Netflix subscription.

So if you’ve also got a set of the Mid-Summer blues, I’m here with you. I am sure it will pass. But in the mud, here in the rut, it’s hard. I get it. We’ll do it together.

 

Fireworks

Fireworks are pretty magical, right? I mean, I know, I know, I’m sure they are very scientific and specific, but to me, they have always been magical. I like everything about them. The flash and the magic, the colors, the loud sounds, the way they pull people together, even the fact that you have to see them at night. They’re beautiful and brash, but also a little mysterious. IMG_1739

Fireworks remind us that a little bit of magic can be carried into our everyday lives. We can carry a little bit of that explosion, that spark with us. Fireworks help us remember that things are special.

IMG_1771There’s a reason we show them at special occasions. There’s a reason we oooh and ahh.

And maybe you’re someone’s reason to ooh and aah a little bit. Maybe you’re someone’s firework- or maybe you could be. IMG_1716

Superhero Action of the Day: Be a little magic today.

10 things I’m loving for July

Can you believe it’s July already? I know. What happened to June? I don’t know either. Well, in any case, here are 10 products I am absolutely loving for July! Check them out!

 

** again, I’m not making any money from this, just recommending things I like!**

 

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  1. naked grape moscato. You know how last month I said I was declaring it the summer of grapefruit Shandy? That hasn’t changed, but moscato is perfect for summer.  I mean, sweet. Cold. Crisp. And this one is three things: sweet, refreshing and honestly, it’s cheap. Less than $10. How can you go wrong. Keep one in the fridge for special occasions. You know, like Tuesdays. 9971556
  2. Dior Lip Glow: I actually discovered Lip Glow several years ago when I was working at the cosmetic counter at Macy’s. But it’s worth a revisit. Lip Glow goes on like chapstick, but it changes colors according to your body temperature, so it’s beautiful on everyone. It turns pink on me, but I’ve seen it red, coral, even almost plummy

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3. manic panic. If you want funky colored hair, I can’t recommend Manic Panic enough. If you’re following me on Instagram, you might have seen that I dyed part of my hair blue this summer. And I have to be honest, I switched to manic panic atomic turquoise for my most recent touch up and it is SO cool. If you AREN’T following me on Insta, you should do that, because I’m gonna post photos of my atomic turquoise hair really soon, and it’s an insta exclusive!

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4. bare apple chips. My sister and I discovered these last Spring on the West Coast, and we fell in love. They’re baked. They’re delicious. They’re healthy. They’re amazing. Do it. In the midwest, I can only find them at Target. Worth it.

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5. croc sandals. Okokokok, hear me out. Original crocs. Ugly. Uglyuglyugly. But this is my second pair of the sandals, and they’re cute, durable and SO freaking comfortable. My only gripe is that the new pair I bought don’t come in half sizes, which would be a little better for me. But still! I love them. And I’m not ashamed. I refuse to be ashamed.

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6. Jane the Virgin. If you aren’t watching this show, you REALLY should be. It is hilarious, touching and sweet. And it’s on Netflix. What more could you ask? Do it.

7. Diana’s Bananasmaxresdefault are part of my never ending quest to stay cool in the Summer without losing my exercise gains. They’re a frozen half banana, dipped in chocolate. They’re excellent. They’re cold and sweet and mostly fruit. How can you go wrong?

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8.EOS shave lotion. I bought this on a whim a couple weeks ago, and I really like it! It has a little bit more perfume than I usually like, but it’s a nice smell. It’s very moisturizing and soft and seems to be helpful in avoiding razor burn, which is great. Especially this time of year, right?

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9.  Say Yes to Cucumber face wipes. These are my go to for everyday. They’re quick, they’re gentle, and when it’s hot, they’re great fresh out of the fridge. (That, my superheroes, is a HOT TIP. Or a cool one. You choose.)

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10. La Croix. Ok, so maybe this is a cop out. Surely everyone knows about La Croix by now? But if you don’t, you should try it. It’s super refreshing, fruit flavored, no calorie and completely guilt free. I recommend grapefruit. But as we know, I love grapefruit flavored drinks, so…

So there you have it. 10 products you should try out this month! Enjoy!

Superhero Action of the Day: Try something new! And if you have a suggestion for August, LET ME KNOW!

F(m)F Fridays: Crafted and Cured- www.superheroliving.blog

F(m)F Fridays: Crafted and Cured

If you live in the Dayton area and you haven’t been to Crafted and Cured yet, it’s way, way, way past time.

Full disclosure, I hadn’t been before last week. It had been on my list of “things to do”, but I just hadn’t gotten over there.

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Crafted and Cured is a craft beer and meat/cheese place in the Oregon District of downtown Dayton. It’s in the extended blocks of the district, on Wayne avenue in the Dietz building. There are several more stores going into that building, so it’s definitely a place to keep your eye on for the future.

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For now, though, Crafted and Cured is no slouch! The decor is funky in an antique-y way. The people are very friendly and very, very knowledgeable. The “Crafted” bar has 60 taps. Yes, 60. Many of them, although not all, are local, and they have a healthy variety of things, including two taps for non alcoholic drinks. There’s wine as well, although not as much. The “Cured” counter has a menu that includes a variety of different cheeses and meats. You can choose any combination of the meats and cheeses, and the chefs will put together a custom cheese board for you. And they are really works of art. I mean, look at this thing:IMG_1649IMG_1670

It is a little pricey for the evening, although I think well worth it. My one real complaint is that there aren’t any “pre built” cheese board options, and the menu is a little overwhelming. The things we chose for our board were all really superbly delicious, but I had no idea if they would go together well at all- still don’t, in fact. It would be nice to be able to choose from a few options that had been curated for the customer a little bit. img_1673.jpg

But really, that’s my only improvement. It’s a dynamite little spot- I can’t wait to go back!

 

Superhero Action of the Day: have you been anywhere new lately? I’d love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments!

DIY Stick surtain rods- www.superheroliving.blog

DIY: Stick Curtain Rods

Tonight I have a decorating tutorial for you. About a month ago, I made new curtain rods for my living room, and tonight, I want to talk you through the how-to!

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Ready? Let’s go.

First of all, I found this stick well over a year ago while I was walking in the neighborhood one night. It turned out to be almost exactly 8 1/2 feet long, which was perfect. I got the idea from a house I used to house sit for, and I’ve loved it ever since. When I found that stick, it seemed like a match made in heaven. I traipsed home with the stick, squirreled it away, and started thinking about curtains for my living room.

Here was my problem: I couldn’t decide what I wanted for curtains. I’d talked about purple, mostly for the pop of color, but I couldn’t even find any fabric I was really in love with. And curtains, yikes, they’re SO expensive. Yeesh. So I worked on that, off and on, for about a year.

And then, one day in April, I went to Target. And I don’t know about you, but I ALWAYS look at the endcaps in my Target stores. That’s where the clearance stuff turns up, and well, you just NEVER KNOW. Sure enough, on this fortuitous day, there were four soft gold curtain panels. And because they were a return, Target wanted $8.37 each for them. I swear I’ve never put anything in my cart so quick in my life. I mean. EIGHT DOLLARS. You can’t buy the fabric for that much. So, I brought them home, and about a month ago, I finally made the curtain rods to hang them on.

They add a lot of warmth and softness to my room, and they look really nice. And the curtain rod makes the kind of formal curtains a little more easy going and funky, which is right up my eclectic decor alley.

I started by collecting some more supplies. After a little bit of pinterest based research, I went off to the hardware store and picked up some medium grit sandpaper, some clear coat spray, some large cup hooks and some clip on curtain rings. IMG_1512

Then, I came home and got to work. First, I measured my stick and my windows. Then, using a sharpie, I carefully marked on the stick where I needed to cut the stick- it was actually right in half for me, but it will depend on the length of your stick. Then, I used a small hand saw I borrowed from my mother, and I cut the stick in half. It wasn’t hard- my stick was only about an inch thick, so no big deal. I did most of this outside, obviously, because of fumes and/or mess. IMG_1513

Once I had two sticks, I grabbed my sandpaper. I got lucky in that this piece of wood was already really dry and almost all of the bark was off it, so I didn’t have too much trouble with this step. However, you want to remove the bark and make sure the piece is really, really dried out before you do this. That gives anyone catching a ride time to get out before you put a piece of nature in your house. IMG_1514

So, I sanded it down, nice and smooth, especially on the ends. I double checked the width of the stick against my cup hooks, and put a notch in the thickest end and sanded that out really well. When I was content with the smoothness of the sticks, I sprayed all sides of the sticks with my clear coat. I followed the directions on the can for this, and it was pretty easy. I ended up doing about three coats, and waited a little while in between coats- maybe about a half hour in between each coat.

I got the curtains out of the package and ironed them. Not my favorite, but definitely necessary in this case! Then I did some measuring and marking on my walls. I chose to hang my curtains considerably higher than my window trim. I did this for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it makes the windows look bigger in your room. For another thing, when I measured I realized my clearance curtains were too long for my room. Oops! I’ve got a plan for that, but I haven’t done it yet. In the end, I hung the  curtain rods as high as I could without moving the furniture to stand on it. See my special short people standing device? IMG_1515

It took some elbow grease to get the hooks into the walls, but I figure that means they aren’t likely to come out easily, right? Don’t forget that your hooks need to be closer together than the lengths of your sticks so you can support the stick properly!

Then I just clipped the curtains onto the rings and wiggled them onto the sticks. Easy peasy. I put the stick through the cup hooks, and voila! I was all done. Because I didn’t want to lose the light in my living room, I cut two vintage belts from South America that someone had given me in half, and, using 4 more smaller cup hooks I had left from another project, I made some easy (and very eclectic) tie backs.

I was pretty pleased with the result- and the best part was, all totaled up, it only cost me about $50. Not bad, when some of the curtain panels I was looking at would have cost me about that per window before hardware!

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Superhero action of the day: Is it time to freshen up the decor in your living space? Maybe take a look at what you have. Can you use it in a different way somehow?

 

 

Go on an adventure- www.superheroliving.blog

Adventure is out there

Sometimes, you have to be a little spontaneous.

I am not, by nature, a spontaneous person. I like routine, and lists, and schedules. I like plans. I like to know what’s happening and when. To be brief, I like control.

Most of the time, that works for me. All of those things make me better at my job. All of these things make me a better freelancer. It can be a little rigid, it isn’t for everyone. But it works for me. Most of the time.

Sometimes, however… you just have to get out there. Sometimes, you have to throw plans to the wind and just… go with it.

Sometimes, you have to throw all your plans to the wind, and have an adventure. Unless you’re some kind of millionaire, odds are you can’t afford to go on a multi-continental adventure without some planning. I know I can’t! All my crazy vacations and trips are planned out within an inch of their lives. Obsessively. I run the numbers over and over again, and plan it out to the last detail.

But Charis, I can hear you saying, you just said to be spontaneous! I know I know I know. Let me explain.

I’m a firm believer in “making your own fun”. My Grandpa used to say that, and of all his many sayings, that’s one of my favorites. You’ve got to find your own adventures. Sometimes, that means something small- a new recipe, or taking the evening walk at the park instead of around the neighborhood. Sometimes it’s something more- surprise a friend, cancel your plans and go on a day trip. Sometimes it’s something that feels trivial- go ride a long with a friend while they run errands.

It’s about being open to new experiences. It’s about not living in such a way that you never try anything new. It’s about making relationships with people that help you look at the world with a new perspective. It’s about not being afraid to saying ‘yes’ to doing something that wasn’t in your plan, whatever the plan was. It’s about learning to surrender that control, just a little bit. Sometimes. Give yourself the freedom to deviate from the plan.

But finding your own adventure goes beyond the physical kind. Adventure is a state of mind. Anything is an adventure if you decide you’re going to enjoy it.

Maybe, instead of dreading something, we start to look at it with new eyes. Hate looking for items in the store? We’re on a quest! Hate sweeping your floors? The dirt is the villain of the day! Sure, you might feel a little silly, but we’ve already talked about that and decided it’s totally fine.

Put yourself in adventure mode. Switch things up. Let yourself be surprised a little bit.

Superhero action of the day: Do something out of your routine today! ESPECIALLY if you’re starting to feel hemmed in by things. Get out there and do something adventurous.

 

The Power of Rest

Happy Monday, superheroes!

I hope your Monday was amazing. I hope you were productive, and helpful, and strong.

I was not.

I’m struggling with the amount of freedom I’ve got this summer. I’m not used to having so much free time, and quite honestly, I’m not reacting to it as well as I had hoped. I have a ton of projects I thought I was going to work on, but so far, not a lot of progress. I’ve gone on some adventures, had a lot of fun… but I’m not getting enough done.

But you know what I AM doing? Taking a lot of naps. Spending time with my dog. Taking long walks. Working on THIS project. Spending time with friends and family. Reading books.

I’m not doing very well with my to do lists. But I have to keep reminding myself that for most of the last ten months, I worked 60-80 hours a week at three or four separate jobs. And that that kind of long term abuse (because that’s what it is, if we’re being totally honest) takes a toll. And now I have to pay up. I don’t have to like it. But I owe my body some time, and it is collecting.

So often, I think it is easy for us to forget the power of rest. We love to be busy so much it literally makes us sick. We hop from thing to thing, from job, to exercise, to social event. We don’t sleep enough. We don’t give our brains down time. We just grind and grind and hustle and hustle.

And sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes, you have to go back to bed with your dog. Sometimes your greatest accomplishment for the day can be cleaning out your email inbox and sending two important email replies.

This can’t be everyday. I’m bored already, and it has only been a month. Soon, my motivation will come back and I’ll get more done again. I’ll start getting serious about the upcoming work season, and all of my projects will start to sound interesting again. Hopefully I don’t drop anything out of my net while I’m resting, but rest is important.

When we go through something physically exhausting, we wake up the next day, or maybe two days later, and we can feel it. When we workout a lot, we get sore muscles. If we’re in an accident, we get bruises. If we have surgery, there’s pain from that.

A lot of times, when we go through something emotionally exhausting, we take a day or two- or longer- to get back on our feet. When we lose someone. When a relationship falls apart. When we get handed a big disappointment. We take some time. We rest.

But we don’t tend to do that with mental exhaustion. When we’re mentally exhausted, we grab another cup of coffee and buckle in. We berate ourselves for our brain fog and insist that we “don’t know what’s wrong” with ourselves. We push harder, and harder. We sacrifice sleep. We sacrifice down time. We give of ourselves until there is nothing left. And then we collapse, or explode, or lash out. We hurt the people who love us best. We get irritable. We let our lives get pushed to the side.

And all because we refuse to rest.

 

Superhero action of the day: are you taking the time you need to rest? Are you tired? Time to start thinking about how to get what you need.

A Walk- www. superheroliving.blog

A Walk

In 2013, I fell in love with a small, 12 week old black puppy. In the four years that Penelope and I have been living together, she has become my best friend, biggest confidante and almost constant companion. img_0555.jpg

Right before Christmas in 2014, Penelope and I moved into my current apartment. My apartment is small. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but it is pretty tiny- about 500 square feet. Not really enough room for 45 pounds of fur covered energy.

And so, Penelope and I walk. We walk two or three times a day, every day, no matter the weather. We walk when I’m exhausted, we walk when I can’t wait to get going with my day. We walk, quite literally, morning, afternoon and night.

Walking is a simple motion. Most of us learned it before we can remember. We do it without thinking. When we need something, we get up, and we walk. But the simplicity of the motion is what makes it so powerful.

Typically, when I workout, I want a workout so difficult that I can’t focus on anything else. I want it mind numbing. I want it to hurt, to stretch me, literally and metaphorically. I want to push my body past it’s limit. After a workout like that, I feel powerful, invigorated, full of promise and possibility.

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But when it’s really my brain that needs the workout, I go for a walk. When I need to think hard about something, I go for a walk. Heck, even when I need to memorize something… I often find myself going for a walk.

When Penelope and I started walking together so consistently, I started to notice some changes in both of us. First of all, her behavior completely changed. She doesn’t tear things up. She doesn’t get into my trash, and she doesn’t get onto my counters. Also, she became better and better with a leash. I guess I always thought dogs just knew how to walk on a leash. But I guess that’s not true- we definitely learned together. She sleeps more and better, she’s more calm in general- she’s just overall a more happy and healthy dog. That alone is enough of a reason for me, but I have seen some real benefits too.

I lost weight. A lot of weight. In the first 6 months we lived in this apartment, without really trying too terribly hard, I lost 30 pounds. And the vast majority of my exercise was walking. I became more confident. I’m cautious about walking at night, although I’ve never had a real problem when I’m out with Penelope. However, I am not afraid to go for a walk at night, and I like that part of myself.

IMG_1080Also, she forces me to get out of bed in the mornings. Sure, sometimes on Saturdays we go back to bed, but like it or not, I am usually up by about 7:30. I’m not a natural morning person, but I know that I’m most productive in the morning, so it’s nice to start my day with at least a little bit of activity. These days, our morning walk is usually about an hour- roughly 2.5 miles- and it is such a nice start to the day.

I also often use our walk as a time to catch up on phone calls or on books I’m listening to- or podcasts, although I’m mostly on books right now. I love to multi task and this is such an easy way to do it.

I am a lover of routine, and I like that about our walks too. In a life that sometimes feels frenetic and zooey, every day, I must carve out at least a few minutes to strap on Penelope’s leash and get outside. I don’t always love it. I don’t always want to do it. But she needs me. It’s our routine. And I always feel better afterwards, no matter what else is going on. IMG_1281

But I think best of all, walking every day with Penelope helps me to find perspective. The morning walk is a time to think through my day. What projects do I need to work on? Who do I need to be in touch with? What are my top three to dos? The afternoon walk breaks up the day: the major part of the work day is over. What do I still need to do for the evening? Did I get everything done I needed to finish up? The evening walk is the hardest- and the easiest one by far to skip, but I find myself in a better place to go to bed if I go ahead and take it. What does tomorrow look like? How am I feeling about today? And sometimes most importantly, can I make my step goal yet tonight?

 

Pictures in this post are various things I’ve seen while out walking! Enjoy!

 

Superhero Action of the Day: Carve out 20 minutes, and go for a walk. Try to make it a habit!