HOW I MAKE LIFE WORK IN A STUDIO APARTMENT

studio apartment sofa bed evolstyle blog

One of the things I loved about being an actor was having the freedom to share my deepest, darkest, fears, secrets, wishes; and to just be totally present in the moment as myself. Anything was fair game because to the audience I was just a character, so I could do whatever and say whatever I wanted and it was all OK. It was terrifying to put myself out there like that in front of a room full of strangers, which was exactly what made it such a thrill. How often in real life do you get to just be honest with how you feel and what you really want, and then actually allow yourself to be upset when you don’t get it? Not very often right? This is a good thing, because otherwise we’d all go around acting like toddlers 24/7. But still, it was so much fun while it lasted.

I get a similar little thrill out of blogging. Sharing aspects of my life that are a work-in-progress, shall we say, is scary. There’s something about putting my doubts aside (what if this makes me look crazy? what if it’s totally dumb and no one cares? what if I offend everyone and no one wants to visit my blog anymore?) and pressing that “publish” button that is kind of exhilarating. Being a single parent to a small child is also pretty isolating, so my blog (and you reading this) are my friends in lieu of a social life. It’s a good day when I can just put something out there – anything – and know that maybe someone out there might find it useful or even entertaining. Maybe someone out there is thinking, “Hey, I’m kind of interested in becoming a vegan, but I’m worried I won’t be able to wear cute shoes anymore…” Boom. Problem solved. You’re welcome people.

It’s my 32nd birthday on Thursday, and as a gift to myself I am finally giving up trying to be perfect. Not only am I going to stop trying to be perfect, I am going to love the fact that I am not perfect. I am going to love my life because it’s imperfect. Oh boy is it imperfect. I’m a hot mess you guys. And it’s OK. Instead of going through life feeling like, “Oh geez, I’m thirty two years old, when am I ever going to get my s*** together?” I’m trying, “Hey, you know what? I do OK.” There’s actually a lot that I do right – why do I only focus on my mistakes? I’m going to try really hard not to do that anymore and just embrace my crazy, messy life. Maybe I’ll even try to have some fun with it.

One of the more cringe-worthy aspects of my life is the fact that I live in a studio apartment. With a toddler. I’m a thirty two year old woman with a business degree from a top-tier university and I live in a one room apartment in the valley. There – my secret’s out! What’s worse? I like it! It works for me right now. I know that I need to move, my goal is to be able to afford a two bedroom (or maybe one bedroom with a den/study?) by the time Vladik is 5 and starting school, (oh god, two and a half years… please someone start clicking on my affiliate links) and I’m trying not to freak out about the fact that that seems impossible right now. (But really though, how interesting does the vegan product to the right look? totally want to click on that banner, am I right? KIDDING! not really though…) I’m just praying that somehow when the time is right I’ll find a way to make it work, because I feel like Los Angeles is my home, and I want to find a way to thrive here.

A lot of blogs and websites these days to this really annoying thing where the title of the post/article is something really sensational, like “5 easy steps to achieving your dreams” or “the top 10 things you’re doing wrong with your finances” or whatever, and then you I stupidly click on these links thinking they’re going to hold the key to a better life, but it’s really just some joker freelance writer with basically nothing interesting to say (oh really, I should stop going to Starbucks to save money? NEVER HEARD THAT ONE BEFORE) and you’ve I’ve waisted yet another 10 minutes procrastinating when I could have been doing something that will actually make me happy. Then I get depressed because there’s nothing I can pretend to know all of the answers about so clearly my blog is never going to be popular. Well, hey, I found something I know a lot about. Living in a tiny apartment! So here it is, folks:

The only guide you’ll ever need to living in a studio apartment with kids!

studio apartment living room toys evolstyle blog

1. Poke a lot of holes in the wall. Your landlord can’t honestly expect you to keep all of your stuff on the floor. Utilize that wall space and spackle and paint when you move out. What’s the worst that can happen? You pay yet another fee? Worth it.

2. Get over it being perfect. No one’s home is perfect. Okay, maybe some are, but their kids are probably kind of sad. And yes, that is a diaper genie on the bookshelf. Do you have a better suggestion? I’d love to hear it! That being said…

3. Keep it clean. Give all of the toys a home so you can quickly pick everything up, which you will probably want to do 3-4 times per day. Clutter makes me stressed, but I can still let my son get out all of his toys as often as he wants, because I know it only takes 5 seconds to put everything back.

studio apartment sofa bed evolstyle blog

4. Don’t try to have nice things. Every single piece of furniture in my apartment is from Ikea. Except my futon, which I ordered online from Walmart. Is it ethical and eco friendly? No. Do I care that there’s a giant crater in my $12 coffee table because Vladik likes to turn it upside down Hulk style no matter how many times I ask him not to? No.

5. Make your bed. My bed is my couch. Every night I turn my couch into a bed and every morning I turn my bed back into a couch. It’s terribly uncomfortable but I’m so tired I don’t even notice, and having the extra floor space is worth it.

studio apartment living room evolstyle blog

6. Embrace the toys. When I was pregnant and realizing that I was not going to be able to afford a bigger place I was horrified by the thought of having  an apartment that looked like a nursery. Rookie mom for ya. Now, I’m just grateful for the distractions. The toys are kind of cute and it’s OK that nothing matches. I kind of went with it and now nothing matches on purpose.

mister rodgers trolley studio apartment evolstyle blog

And let’s be honest, I have always wanted my very own Mr. Rodgers trolley. Ding-ding!

studio apartment office evolstyle blog

7. Make a space for yourself. My office used to be a nursery but then I realized that he was never going to sleep in his own bed for an entire night so I got rid of the crib and got myself a desk. Now instead of getting up in the middle of the night to put a baby back to sleep, I get up in the middle of the night to write this blog. Much more satisfying!

8. Kid-proof EVERYTHING. Note the extremely classy netting and extra fencing I’ve added to my patio with the help of zip cord ties. I don’t love the way it looks, but I do love not having to go downstairs and fish Vladik’s toys out of the flowerbed.

studio apartment office evolstyle blog

My office is also a stable for Pete the Pony. Embrace the toys. 

studio apartment kitchen evolstyle blog

Again, vertical storage. Even my dish rack is on the wall. Deal with it, landlord.

studio apartment kitchen evolstyle blog

9. Don’t waste your money on fresh flowers or new vegan handbags. HAHAHAHAHAHA – Just kidding. Actually, my advice is the opposite. For a long time I literally did not have extra money to spend on anything. I still don’t really, and being broke sucks, which is why you have to treat yourself every once in a while or you will go crazy. It’s not like you’re going to buy a new purse every month, right? But one (maybe two if it’s on sale?) a year is really not going to make that big of a difference in your finances. If a bouquet of flowers is going to make you smile, give up something out of your grocery basket that week. Don’t be so serious all of the time or feel like you’re not allowed to have anything fun or pretty because your job doesn’t pay a lot. You work hard and life is short! Keep working hard and be nice to yourself as often as possible.

studio apartment hallway evolstyle blog

studio apartment closet evolstyle blog

10. Get creative and make new rooms magically appear. (See also, #1) Turning this awkward hall space outside of my bathroom into a walk-in closet is the best idea I have ever had in my life. It cost me about $200 at Ikea including delivery and installation. Now I can actually see my entire wardrobe, which means I can shop my own closet, which means I am less tempted to buy new clothes. I will be sad when it’s time to move because this is a great set up.

studio apartment closet evolstyle blog

It’s also a basketball court. (See #6, embrace the toys…)

studio apartment bathroom evolstyle blog

And here’s a picture of my bathroom, just in case you’re curious. I despise the 1990s gold shower door and bronze mirror, but what can you do?

I have one more bonus tip to share.

Stop comparing your life to everyone else’s. Sometimes I get really down about my situation when I see other people my age buying houses or celebrating their 10th wedding anniversaries, but when I really think about it – would I have done anything differently? Probably not. I’m proud of the fact that I attempted to have a career in the performing arts, and I was am a damn good actor. I could have had any job that paid the bills, but I choose to feed my soul instead. That choice has made me stronger, more creative, brave as hell, and better able to appreciate what I do have – which is a whole lot of amazing. Do not feel like you are less than just because you don’t have these material milestones that our society weirdly pushes on everyone checked off of your list. Think about what you really want out of life and make your own list instead.

Happy apartment hunting!

NOT HAPPENING

Stefanie and Vladik

Hi! How was your weekend? Mine was OK. I didn’t really do much. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I’m never going to be able to do all of the things I want to do on the weekends (or ever). It’s just impossible right now. Maybe someday when my son doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore I’ll be able to get to work, but until then, I’m just going to have to learn to let go. NOT easy for me. Of course, it might be easier if Vladik were asleep right now and not sitting in my lap attempting to rub banana all over my keyboard. (It’s 5am. Why doesn’t the kid sleep??!) I’m feeling disappointed and frustrated because I had a lot of ideas for posts that I wanted to write about today, but what can I do? (let it go, let it go…) Things I did accomplish this weekend:

1. I successfully applied self tanner for the first time ever. Although, I think the last time I tried to apply self tanner was Jr. High, so that’s probably not saying much. I’m sure technology has come a long way since the mid-nineties! I used Arbonne Made in the Shade, and I was so happy with how it turned out that I applied it twice. Then, after a walk I took a shower and applied it on my legs a third time. It’s not 100% even, but when did the sun ever give you a perfectly even tan? (No really, I’m asking because I’ve never been tan once in my life…) No streaks or weird dark spots, I’m just super glowy right now, which feels pretty amazing. I think I might try some of this new Pacifica lotion to keep it going. (BIRTHDAY PRESENTS TO MYSELF, YAY!)

2. I finally used the new clamp I got for my iPhone as a tripod to take a self portrait of myself with my little guy. I was long overdue for a new profile pic. So handy!

3. I got some exercise and fresh air. Stress-reducing cardio. That counts as something accomplished, right? I even stopped to snap a pic of some of the delicious jasmine in my neighborhood for you:

Jasmine

So, 3 things. That’s better than 0. Now I’ve got to run because I’m running late for work somehow, despite the fact that I got up at 3:30 this morning. It’s BIRTHDAY WEEK and my Mom is coming to visit so I’m going to try to keep up my regular posting schedule, but who knows? sigh… 

MY NEW FRAGRANCE LOVE

Arbonne in Bloom Eau de ToiletteI’ve never been really big on perfume. I’m sensitive to everything smells, so I have a hard time finding scents that I love enough to wear all day. Often I think I like the way something smells at first, then after a few minutes I’m wishing I hadn’t sprayed it on myself. I’m also extremely picky about the products that come in contact with my skin so I avoid most mainstream cosmetics brands – no weird, hormone disrupting chemicals or animal by-products for me, thank you very much! All of that being said, lately I’ve been feeling the need to top off my beauty game with a little something special, and a spritz of perfume seems like an easy way to add extra polish to my everyday routine.

I did have a couple of go-to scents that I used to love, but I took a break from wearing perfume while I was pregnant and nursing my son, so the bottles are old and in need of replacing. The only thing is – I don’t want to smell the way I used to smell. Every time I spray my old perfume I smell old cities, old apartments, old boyfriends, old dreams… and I just can’t be having a Stefanie Grant Cassel, this is your life! moment every morning.

So I’ve been on the lookout for something new to wear while I make new memories. Something that smells different, yet amazing, yet still like me. I’ve been scouring my favorite vegan beauty websites and stopping to sniff bottles at Whole Foods, but buying an expensive bottle of perfume online seems kind of risky, and nothing I’ve tested has been the one. Then, while I was placing my last Arbonne order I noticed that they had a fragrance from the holiday 2014 catalog in the “while supplies last” section. Arbonne In Bloom. Hmm…

Jasmine? Possibly…

Orange Blossom? Definitely…

Ylang Ylang? No idea…

Sandalwood? Okay…

$18 with my consultant discount? SOLD!

So I added it to my cart, thinking that if I didn’t love it at least I wouldn’t feel like I was wasting my money. Well, I got my order this week and I LOVE it! It’s a much stronger floral scent than I’ve ever worn before, but the sandalwood kind of rounds out the jasmine and gives it a warm, slightly spicy finish. You know what it smells like? No exaggeration – this perfume smells exactly like a walk in my neighborhood right now. (Apparently those little white flowers are jasmine… who knew?! Plus all of the citrus trees… it’s crazy!) So my little weekend ritual where I get my blood flowing, get centered, and brainstorm my creative thoughts while soaking up the sunshine? I now get to carry that with me everyday. There could not be a more perfect scent for my new life. The new me smells amazing you guys. ;)

If you’re intrigued, make sure to check it out before it’s all gone. Arbonne typically only introduces fragranced products during the holidays, and they don’t always bring them back the next year, so once it’s gone it’s gone! Just click on the images or any of the links in this post to shop!

Have a great weekend you guys – next week is my birthday week! Agh – 32 – yikes!

(As an Arbonne Independent Consultant I can earn a commission when you shop from my consultant website… check out my full disclosure page to learn more!)

SHOPGIRL

vegan outfit featuring melissa shoes and gunas handbag

1. Striped Denim Top – T by Alexander Wang

2. Laser Cut Poplin Skirt – J. Crew

3. Love & Stud Earring Set – Tai

4. Cottontail Bag – Gunas

5. Artemis Studded Sandals – Melissa + Jason Wu

This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I’ve been in my current job for 10 months now, which makes this the longest stretch of time that I’ve ever held the same job. Except maybe in high school when I was a hostess at Zio’s Italian Kitchen, but even then I think I changed locations over the summer.

I don’t know why. I guess I just can’t make up my mind about what I want to be when I grow up. After ballerina, everything else just seemed kind of meh. I mean, there are lots of things that interest me, but very few of them actually seem compelling enough to do every day for years on end. I realized this during my first internship in college. I remember watching the clock, calculating how many more hours I would have to be there after lunch, and thinking, “If I can’t stand spending an entire day here* where am I going to be happy?”

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SYDNEY BROWN SHOP

Sydney Brown vegan flat sandalSydney Brown vegan heeled clogSydney Brown vegan open toe metal heelSydney Brown vegan cross sandal

 

Oh hey, more vegan shoe news this week! SO EXCITING: You can now shop for Sydney Brown shoes online through the Sydney Brown website! These beauties are made in Los Angeles out of eco-friendly materials like recycled plastic, reclaimed wood, sustainable cork, and of course no animal products. I just love to see such beautiful and well made cruelty-free shoes become more accessible than ever! Check them out – click on the images to shop!

NEW BHAVA NY SANDALS

Bhava NY vegan sandals spring 2015

Bhava NY vegan sandals spring 2015 neutral

Bhava NY vegan sandals spring 2015 brown

BHAVA NY just released pics of their new spring sandals and they are gorgeous, right?! Pre-orders start Sunday – don’t miss your chance to snap up a pair of these awesome new vegan shoes! Personally, I’d really love a pair in brown to replace my open-toe booties from Target that did not hold up. Which color do you want?

MIAKODA KICKSTARTER

Miakoda vegan sweatshirt tank dress

Do you know about Miakoda? It’s an awesome eco-friendly and cruelty-free clothing line made in NYC and their clothes are super cute! They’re best known for their slouchy pant, which are basically ridiculously comfortable looking sweats that you can dress up or down. Genius, right?

                        Miakoda vegan slouchy pants  Miakoda vegan slouchy pant back

Right now I’m seriously coveting their long cardigan and a-line tank dress…

Miakoda vegan long cardigan and a-line tank dress

Okay, who am I kidding? I want everything.

This brand is ready to takeover grow and they’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $6000 this month to fund their production. Please visit this link to learn more about the Miakoda and help support their expansion. Your pledge will help make ethical and cruelty-free fashion more accessible – let’s vote with our pocketbooks and tell the world that cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and ethically made fashion is what we really want!

Click on the images to shop Miakoda

Miakoda Kickstarter Page

P.S. Don’t forget to check out the Nicora Johns factory fundraiser. Let’s make some more vegan shoes happen while we’re at it! 

GOOD FRIDAY

Vegan outfit featuring dress by Loop, Tom's shoes and sunglasses, and a vegan leather handbag by Matt & Nat

1. Cory Dress – Loop (at Shop Ethica)

2. Charlie Rae Cinnabar Red Tortoise Sunglasses – TOMS

3. Peltola Backpack – Matt & Nat

4. Chambray Women’s Correa Sandals – TOMS

Hi! How’s your Friday? Mine is pretty awesome so far. My office is closed today for the holiday but daycare is still open, so I’ve had a super productive morning getting caught up on my TV shows and painting my nails while drinking too much cold brew coffee. And I’m about to go get my hair done. Mommy heaven! I hope you all have a beautiful Easter/Passover. The Easter bunny sent me some vegan french toast mix and chocolate from Vegan Cuts that I can’t wait to share with my little guy this weekend! (Thanks Mom!)

ONE LITTLE THING #1

What is your commute like? Mine ranges from meh to brutal. From home to daycare to work can take me anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on the day of the week and you know, Los Angeles. Basically, I’m spending almost as much time in my car on weekdays as I am with my child. Depressing thought, right? I recently did two things that have made it a bit more bearable.

1. I stopped taking the freeway in the mornings. There’s a more scenic route that’s just as fast. Now I go over a hill, through a tunnel, and have a much lower chance of crashing.

2. I stopped listening to the radio. The same overplayed songs over and over, annoying DJs, constant advertisements – I just couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like my brain was going to rot out of my head!

I finally joined the 2010s and bought an AUX cord for my iPhone. Do you have one? You probably already do, I’m very late to the party. I don’t know what took me so long! Now I switch back and forth between NPR, Pandora, and iTunes radio, and my brain is happy again. If you drive a new car you can probably just disregard this and connect your phone via bluetooth, but if your car is in the 2010-2013 range, there’s most likely a jack built right into your dash – USE IT! The auxiliary cords are really inexpensive too. I bought this cute purple one on Amazon for under $10 and it works perfectly.

Just another one of those #littlethings that’s making my life better recently. I hope to share them all with you eventually!

Have a great day! Today is my Friday because my office is closed tomorrow. YAY!

VIVA SPRING

Valkyrie crossbody vegan bag by Viva CreaturesVictor vegan clutch by Viva CreaturesJuno vegan bag by Viva CreaturesSeverine vegan tote by Viva Creatures

Claude vegan clutch by Viva Creatures

Viva Creatures recently released their new spring line, and I am just loving the fresh color palette. The combination of navy, tan, marine blue, and gray has a very 70s vibe, no? I’d love to pair that little Valkyrie cross-body with some high waisted flares and wooden clogs! It’s so exciting to see new (and extremely stylish) vegan bag options popping up all of the time. I only wish that I could take them all home with me! Click the images to shop…