Tag Archives: apartment

Apartment Modifications Part 1

unnamedWith the move in progress, the kids and I visited Riley in Texas recently for a whole week.  He has been in corporate housing (housing provided by his work until he gets more established), and will be for a couple more weeks.

This housing arrangement, while temporary, was a bit of a shock for me because it is a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment.  There is no yard, there are people around us to be respectful of (tough to do with two little ones who enjoy running and hearing their voices at full volume), and not as much space.

While there can be benefits to apartment living (not having to worry when things break, for instance), our weeklong visit got me to thinking of ways in which my current simple living strategy would need to be modified for apartment dwellers, especially those with kids.  The rest of this list will come next week!

Playing outsideWe were lucky–the apartment we were at had both a balcony and a park within the complex.  That said, it was very warm, wet, and mosquito-y during our time there, so we did not spend as much time outside as we ordinarily do.  I can absolutely sympathize with those who cannot just open their back door and enjoy a backyard.  Modification:  We planned thirty minutes of outside time each day, and shared that expectation with the kids–a sort of accountability program.  And we packed the bug spray, so no excuses!

Keeping stuff in checkExtra stuff takes on a whole new meaning when you have a smaller space.  It enforces the “one in, one out” rule.  Modification:  There would be no room for error on this, if we were staying in an apartment for longer than a month:  we would have to pare our possessions down even further, and keep them pared down. Honestly, this is something that we would benefit from, regardless of where we were moving to.

GroceriesI had to haul four days worth of groceries up three flights of stairs, with both kids in tow.  That was enough of a feat in itself–I can’t imagine doing that with a couple of weeks worth of groceries.  Modification:  If I were staying in an apartment long-term, I would back off the “buy as much as you can to avoid shopping more often” rule, and would instead focus on saving money other ways, such as a store loyalty program or coupons.

Living in an apartment with kids for one week was a good lesson for me, and reminded me that everyone’s situation is different.  What works for one person, may not work at all for the next.  Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

Ronnica’s Garden Plan, 2016

balcony garden in evening sunThis may be the blog post that I’ve spent the most time on. I know that I’ve spent at least 5 or 6 hours before I even started typing the first sentence.

Clearly, I take gardening very seriously.

Daydreaming about gardening is one of my favorite things to do. Before you have planted your first seed, you can imagine months of produce. Powdery mildew, late-coming spring and windy days do not appear in my daydreams, so the fruit is always abundant.

I think that is one of the exciting things about gardening: you’re always trying to game the weather, elements and pests. What choices will provide the highest yields this year?

What’s New

The biggest new thing I’m attempting this year is to grow my tomatoes and peppers from seed. I plan on completing the transition of part of my living room into a plant nursery in order to make the most advantageous environment for them.

I want to grow my plants from seed for a few reasons:

1. Save seeds. I’ve had a dream to save my own seeds for a while now. In order to do so, you have to have heirloom (not hybrid) plants.

2. Save money. I spent $8.50 for heirloom seeds, instead of twice as much for hybrid plants. If I’m successful in saving seeds, this may be my last expenditure for these seeds until I want to add another variety when I have more garden space.

3. It’s a fun challenge. There’s a reason kids get excited about growing their own plants from seed: it’s exciting.

What I’m Growing

garden seedsVeggies: cucumbers, onions, snap peas, bell peppers, tomatoes (Amish paste), spinach, zucchini
Herbs: basil, chives, cilantro, dill, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
Flowers: lavender, nasturium, likely some others

Last year I only grew nasturium, but I want to up my ante for flowers. They are the best use of my hanging baskets, and I want to grow varieties that will be useful for bees and butterflies as well as good companions for my veggies and herbs.

I still have a couple of weeks before I can start to plant, even indoors. But when it’s time, I’ll be ready!

What are you wanting to grow this year?

Building Community

all inI had already thought about writing this post before Amanda posted her post “On Community” a few weeks ago.

I don’t remember what book I was reading recently, but it mentioned that to build in practices of urban homesteading, it is best done with a partner. This makes sense: no farmer would go it alone. He would seek a wife (who would hopefully birth lots of sons), hire help or fail.

I want a partner. The most obvious partner would be a husband, but I don’t have that nor am I actively looking for one. As I have gotten older in my singleness I’ve recognized blessings that come with singleness and I want to take advantage of them as long as I remain single.

The second most obvious partner would be like-minded roommates. For me, it’s important that roommates be like-minded if we’re to be partners in simple living and sustainability. I haven’t found a roommate to partner with, but I will prayerfully look again when my lease is up next summer.

So in the absence of a partner, I must seek community. In fact, even if I had a partner, I still think that it would be healthy and wise to seek community to serve with and alongside towards my “green” goals.

For me, that community is primarily the church. While the evangelical church has been slow to embrace sustainable living, the individual church families I’ve been in have been quick to lend a hand and share with others. I want to continue to foster that in my current church family.

May we all look outside of ourselves and our own families and use our unique gifts to bless others beyond our walls.

Photo by Sombilon Photography

Purposefulness in Apartment Living

sunny apartmentI live in a 580-square-feet, one-bedroom apartment. Some might consider that small, but I find that it’s really sufficient space for one person (I think it would actually be enough space for two, if that man ever comes along). I almost wish it was smaller because I would feel more freedom to get rid of things.

I don’t think I’ll live in an apartment forever as I do want to have a second bedroom for guests and a larger space for gardening. But for now, I’m quite happy to be where I am.

Advantages of Living in an Apartment

1. Hands-free maintenance. This is probably my favorite thing about living in an apartment. If something breaks, all I have to do is place a service request.

I’m not very handy, but I will definitely be learning some of my own maintenance when it’s time to buy my own place.

2. Living in close quarters. I know, that sounds crazy that I think that this is a perk, but it is. I love watching people come and go from my building and the parking lot.

Lots of people share horror stories of noisy neighbors (and I have had those), but I prefer older apartment complexes because they walls are more sturdy and transmit less noise.

3. Better use of resources. Because of those close quarters, I save money on heat. Between being sandwiched between other apartments and a very sunny apartment, I only run my heat for a few hours on the coldest of days.

apartment kitchenI also like that my apartment has a community laundry room on each floor, instead of machines in unit. I only run 2-3 loads of wash every other week, so I definitely don’t need my own set.

4. Perks. I like having a pool within a 3-minute walk of my apartment. While some houses have neighborhood pools, they don’t tend to be so close. My apartment also has a gym, if I ever wanted to take advantage of that.

5. Small spaces help you limit your belongings. The larger our space, the more we will feel compelled to fill it (and the less compelled to purge).

While I do hope to be a homeowner some day, I’m not waiting until that time to feel like I’ve “made it.” I don’t think that we should look down on apartment dwelling as second-class living.

How it Works: Indoor Clothesline

I have saved hundreds of dollars by rarely drying my clothes. However, I live in an apartment that’s nice enough to have a ban on hanging clothes outside.

Sidenote: when did it become “cool” not to allow residents to dry clothes outside?This has been the rule in each apartment complex I’ve lived in.  It seems classist. 

While I do wish I could hang clothes outside (there are so many beautiful sunny days here in Denver!), I still wanted to take advantage of the cost savings of line-drying clothes by hanging an indoor clothesline.

I’ve now done this in 2 different apartments…it’s easy to take down and rehang! Also, the carabiners allow you to take the line down when you’re not using it, making it nearly invisible.

indoor clothesline

How to Hang an Indoor (Removable) Clothesline

What you’ll need:

2 carabiners (I used 3″ ones like these)
2 eye hooks (like these)
clothesline rope
drill (or someone who loves you who has one, in my case)

1. Find a good location to hang your line. I would recommend an area that you can shut off if company comes by, but is well ventilated. I put mine in my bedroom (but if you do so, do not hang over the bed!).

2. Drill holes in the wall for the eye hooks. Be sure to drill into a stud: the line will get heavy with wet clothes on it. I recommend picking a spot about a foot  below the ceiling. You want to be sure it’s a place you can reach (even if you’re short like me and have to climb up on something).

3. Screw in your eyehooks until they’re tight. I prefer mine to be perpendicular to the ground, but it doesn’t really matter.

clothesline attached indoors4. Tie your clothesline to the carabiners. You can show off your scouting skills, but any knot that will hold up under the weight works.

Tie one end and attach the carabiner to one eye hook then pull the excess line towards the other eye hook to see how long to make it. Pull the rope tight, taking out the slack. The clothes will pull the line down, but you don’t want the middle clothes dragging on the ground.

How long does it take to dry clothes indoors?

Machine-washed clothes dry in 12-24 hours here in Denver (a dry climate). When I was in North Carolina (a humid climate) they would take 18-36 hours.

Fans are very helpful. I use the window fan in my bedroom on warmer days to push the clothes-moistened air into the rest of my apartment while at the same time blowing drier air on the clothes.

Does drying clothes indoor make them crunchy?

Sometimes, yes. Adding a cup of vinegar to your wash (along with your normal detergent) goes a long way to cut out the crunch.

Crunchy clothes don’t bother me. Once I’ve put them on, I’ve manipulated them enough that they’re no longer crunchy.

That said, I would recommend machine-drying sheets and towels, unless you have an outdoor line to hang them on.

Ronnica’s Garden Plan

balcony container gardenOne of my favorite things about spring is getting to plant my garden. This will be 6th year to plant a garden, but only my 2nd in Denver. Each year has been a learning experience and new challenges have presented themselves. By far, last year’s greatest challenge was getting used to a new climate with a shorter growing season.

I have a strong heritage of gardening. Summers were marked by eating garden-fresh cucumbers (my favorite), strawberries, radishes and beets. Garden onion flavored every dish.

Though this is my 6th year gardening, I’ve never had a plot of land to do it in. Instead, I’ve gardened in containers on apartment balconies. Container gardening has it’s own challenges, but I love the opportunity of taking advantage of the space and light I do have to grow much of my summer veggies (and increasingly, feeding myself year-round).

To add to my inspiration, this winter I’ve been reading several books that have encouraged me towards sustaining myself like Depletion and Abudance and Year of Plenty.

So what am I planning on growing this year?

garden plan
My garden mock-up. We’ll see where everything really goes when it’s time to plant!

 

Please don’t hold me to my plans: I’m constantly changing my mind! Still, this is what I’m thinking:

3 tomato plants
9 cucumber plants (3 per pot)
3 bell pepper plants
3 basil plants
2 window planters of onion
2 pots of carrots
1 window planter of spinach
1 window planter of lettuce
1 window planter of radishes
balcony container garden1 zucchini plant
1 pot of snap peas
Cilantro
Dill
Sage
Oregano

This is the most ambitious garden I’ve tried yet, trying the greatest variety I have ever had. I wanted to increase my variety because that will make it more likely that I’ll not need to buy many vegetables.

I’m antsy to get started, but in Denver, I can’t plant even the earliest vegetables until mid-April. Make sure to consult an almanac or your local agriculture extension office to know when to plant.

Be sure to check in tomorrow when Amanda shares her garden plan this year. What are you plans for gardening?