Apartment Living: How To Have A Stress Free Move

I hadn’t planned on moving this year. I loved my apartment. It was a huge two-bed two-bath apartment with a massive walk-in closet, a balcony (and grill!), a fitness center and sundeck. But when things shifted and I could not afford to stay there on my own, I knew I had to move out. Moving can be as stressful or as easy as you make it. Here are some tips that helped me make the move as smooth as possible.

Plan Ahead:

  • Do your homework: Start researching and visiting potential new places about 30 -45 days out. The stress of not knowing if you will be homeless is enough to give you an ulcer.
  • Research multiple moving companies: Compare moving companies to see which fits best with your schedule and budget.
  • DO NOT wait until 1 week before to schedule your movers. Weekend and end of the month moves fill quickly, so schedule this as soon as you know your new address and desired moving date. Do you have an elevator that needs to be reserved? The longer you wait, the harder it is to coordinate the buildings and to get the time/date that you want.
  • Call to confirm mover/vendor appointments a 3-5 days prior to your move to avoid any surprises.
  • Create a “change of address” check list of vendors. Go online or call (credit-card companies, subscriptions, work documents, bills, bank) to include your new address.
  • Get your mail forwarded by going to USPS website 7-10 days before you move. *Note: most magazine subscriptions do not get forwarded. You must manually change this online.
  • Contact utility companies to activate service at your new address and to cancel or transfer from your old address. You don’t want to move in with no electricity or heavens forbid, internet!

Organize/Packing Strategies:

  • Bankers boxes are great for the heavier items. They are smaller and have handles so this makes it easier to lift and carry.
  • Get wardrobe boxes! If your moving company doesn’t provide these – this is worth the investment. Instead of shoving your clothes in garbage bags, boxes or suitcases and then having to spend the time to hang everything back up – it is a simple transfer. Simply move them from the closet to the hanging box and directly into the new closet. It makes unpacking a snap and keeps clothes as virtually wrinkle free. Plus, it helps you feel productive and less overwhelmed when it comes to unpacking.
  • Group similar items together. Pack books with books and DVDs with DVDs. Keep kitchen items in one box and bathroom supplies in another.
  • Pack cleaning supplies last so you can do a final clean before you leave the keys behind and a quick clean at the new place.
  • Make a To Donate box to give to the local shelter.
  • Label boxes: Identify general contents, location to be delivered and if it is fragile. This helps you unpack more efficiently and helps the movers know where to place them. Use sharpie pens or stickers. This packing strategy can eliminate a lot of stress.
  • Use towels & blankets to wrap fragile items. This accomplishes two things – it serves as protection for the breakable item as well as a place to pack the blanket, thus leaving more room in other boxes for other things.
  • Do not overpack a box. Although it may all fit, remember they get heavy fast and that you have to be able to lift and move the box.
  • If you live in a building that has doormen or maintenance men – ask them for boxes. Or go to your local grocery store and see if they have left over boxes they’d like to recycle. Boxes aren’t cheap.
  • If you have something you are afraid might spill – like an olive oil pourer – tape a cotton swab to the spout before wrapping.
  • Do not wait until the night before to start packing. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you run out of tape/boxes, all the stores are closed and the movers are coming in 4 hours. It will be a lot less overwhelming if you make it a gradual process.
  • Use a buddy system: packing is more fun when you have someone to help keep you focused and motived.
  • If you rent your own moving truck – put the big heavy stuff (the couch, bed, tables, TV’s) in the truck last so they are the first to come out. This way you can determine where you want them to go and place the boxes around them rather than have to trip over boxes and move the heavy stuff again.
  • If you move on your own – get a dolly. It will save you weeks of aches and pains and medical bills.
  • Pack perishable food last.

Eliminate:

  • Moving is a great opportunity to purge those belongings that you have been unnecessarily hoarding. Go through your belongings for things to throw away or donate. The more you keep, the more effort required to move it and unpack it. Do you really need those magazines from three years ago? Those shoes you haven’t worn in 5 years? That half empty hotel shampoo bottle?
  • Check expiration dates: Go through your cupboard and toss anything that is expired, will expire within a month of moving or has is 1/3 or less remaining.

Keep This “Just In Case” Kit With You:

  • Move any items yourself that are especially delicate, valuable or personal. The mover’s limits of liability would not cover the replacement of these items of they were lost or damaged during the move and it gives you a piece of mind.
  • Basic tools (hammer, screwdriver, knife, tape, etc.)
  • Payment for movers
  • Bathroom Essentials (towels, soap, toilet paper)
  • Kitchen Essentials (snacks, disposable utensils, cups, plates, etc.)
  • Cleaning Essentials (sponges, all-purpose cleaner, broom, dustpan)
  • Important Documents & Personal Essentials – (fancy jewelry, medication, glasses, medical records, bills, passport, new/old lease etc.)
  • Keys and directions to your new home (pick this up before the move to avoid delays and stress)
There’s a lot to do when moving, things can easily be forgotten and there can be a lot of anxiety about the process and pending change. But, following this easy tips and with a little planning and organizing, moving can be stress-free and possibly even an enjoyable process.

What are your best moving tips? 

My last wardrobe box.                                         The others were filled to capacity.
*This post was sponsored by you move free. They can help you find a new apartment. All the tips and suggestions are my own.*
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The one where I stop making excuses and decide to make shit happen.

“If you could do or be anything you want, what would do?” For as long as I can remember, my answer has always been the same.  I want to give back and help others. I want to start my own charity and volunteer in a less developed country. Ultimately, I want to make a difference in someone’s life.

Then reality struck. I got a job, settled down and prepared for my life as it seemed to be going. My dreams of volunteering and making a difference took a back seat to the hustle bustle of everyday life. I brushed it off as “just a dream” because it just didn’t seem practical or good timing. Then in January, everything I knew got turned upside down and I began to reevaluate my life, who I am (or am not) doing and I declared 2012 The Year Of Caryn.  

Some of my goals for The Year Of Caryn include actually making time to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do but managed to make excuses for as well as focusing on me. Those excuses stopped the second I put up that post. I realized if I really wanted something to change or to do something different, I had to do something about it. No more just sitting on the couch waiting for change. I had to go out and make that shit happen.

So I am done dreaming, done waiting for things to happen to me, done making excuses. I am on a positive path of self improvement and I am making my dreams a reality. So, in September, I am going to Africa! That’s right, I am spending 4 weeks  (FOUR!!!) volunteering in Tanzania! There are three volunteer programs to choose from: Caregiving (caring for kids in orphanages and daycares), Teaching English, (schools are overcrowded and there is a shortage of teachers and resources), or Community Development (women empowerment or helping AIDS patients). Because I have always felt that I was meant to do something big in this world, to give back, to make a difference in someone’s life, I want to be a role model and help educate the children. I want to immerse myself in the culture and make an impact on their lives. I am going with an international volunteer organization called Cross Cultural Solutions.  I am shaking with excitement, I cannot wait!

People ask why Africa? Because it just feels right. Ever since I was little, I have always envisioned myself volunteering in Africa so I want to follow that gut feeling. There is something to be said about following your intuition. Plus, one of my biggest Life List goals is to go on an African Safari. So why not kill two birds with one stone?

I originally planned to go in April but as April is almost over, you can deduce that it didn’t work out. As it turns out, it is rainy season now and it just didn’t give me enough time to prepare. My program runs 9/22 – 10/20 and I’m hoping to catch the return of the Serengeti migration and avoid the second rainy season. The best part? I don’t have to quit my job! I am extremely lucky that my company is supportive of my volunteer dreams and is letting me take this 4 week sabbatical. I have been itching to share this but had to go through proper HR protocol first. I am so excited I want to scream it from the rooftops!

Currently, I am trying to figure out the best flight path to get there that is the most cost efficient/shortest possible route. Looks like it will be 18-24 hours of traveling with a stop in Europe. If I can have my pit stop in Rome, and get to visit Africa and Italy in one trip, I might just be the happiest person on earth. But first, in order to be allowed into the country, I need to apply for a work permit and visa as well as clear all medical requirements. It is a good thing I am not scared of shots because I have a laundry list of shots I need to have done before I leave.

It isn’t required to have the Hep A/B shot series 100% completed before you leave, but because I am a planner like that and am aware of my travel plans so far in advance, I’d rather have everything completed before I leave. There is a lot to be done and anxieties to be calmed which could mean a lot of room for making excuses. But I won’t let happen. This dream will be checked off my list.

Shots I cleared 6 months out: My doctor did a blood test to check for evidence of previous childhood vaccinations. I am all about saving money and not repeating tests. They found remnants of Hep B, mumps, and Rubella in my blood.

Yellow Fever * (March 13) Yellow fever is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito and is not transferable by direct contact. I asked my Dr. of all the shots “I need, which will be the worst?” And the Dr. smiled and said “This one!” as she stabbed the back of my arm with the vaccine. It felt like she was holding the needle in place in my arm even after it had long been removed. It didn’t hurt though, just stung/burned/tingled for about 30 seconds. It has a reputation of being one of the worst shots and often gets people sick with flu-like symptoms and/or swelling at the site of the injection. I luckily didn’t get sick. In fact, I had such a mild reaction, if it weren’t for the stinging, I would have wondered if I actually received the correct shot. It only made my jaw and joints feel stiff that afternoon. I woke up the next day with a pretty bad hangover-like-headache without having had any alcohol the night before. If that was the worst shot, bring on Africa!

Polio (March 13) – done, check!

Hep A(March 27) 2 shot series if not combined with Hep B – 3 shot series if it is. One shot down – one to go! Easy enough, just your average shot.

Hep B booster – (March 27) I had already  have remnants in my blood from when I was child, so the Dr. said a one time shot of Hep B would suffice.

In July I return for the Meningitis, Typhoid and Measles shots and then the week before I leave I finish my Hep A series and pick up my Malaria pills.  These pills supposedly can make you hallucinate, so we’ll see how that goes.

*my mom keeps saying “she got yellow fever” and this cracks me up. I got the yellow fever shot, not the disease, thanks! Oh, semantics.

 

I know there are risks to going to Africa. If I don’t go now, when will I?  I’ve always believed actions speak louder than words. I am putting my words to action and making my dreams come true. I AM GOING TO AFRICA!! NBD. JK. OMG! BFD!

What dreams can you make a reality?

** UPDATE: as of 7/27 all shots complete. I can’t believe how time has gone so quickly.

Typhoid – no big deal. Just your average shot. You have a choice of taking a one time shot that requires a booster dose every two years for those who remain at risk or taking live vaccine pills. I chose the shot as it’s easy. One shot and your done. You just need to get it at least two weeks before travel to allow the vaccine time to work. The other option, taking oral pills, is more complicated. You need to take four doses which are given two days apart for each dose. The last dose needs to be taken at least one week before traveling. The bonus to the pills is that the booster dose is needed every five years for people who continue to travel. I prefer one and done.

MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) or Meningitis – I don’t know which was which but NO WONDER KIDS CRY when they get shots. I am a pro at shots. They rarely phase me. But this one sucked. It was worse than the Yellow Fever vaccine for sure. I was advised to take advil or that it might swell, neither of which applied to me but it was a beast of a shot.

 

 

What exactly are you eating when you eat McDonald’s french fries?

Warning: watching this video may cause you to curse me for showing it to you and you may never want to touch McDonald’s french fries again. (You are welcome!)  So if you love the fries and want to continue eating them in peace, stop right here.  Personally, I have not had fries since I saw this video almost a year and a half ago. I’ve thought about it because they are delicious and the best around (for fast food places) but remembered this video and passed.

I have always believed in the “everything in moderation” theory.  I eat healthy, I watch what I eat, but I also let myself enjoy food. Brownies? Delish. Bacon? Bacon! Bacon! I drool… Grilled veggies? Yes, please. mmmm I’m hungry now… anyways, everything in moderation is my key to being happy and healthy. Life is too short to do anything but enjoy it so I try not to deny myself of anything, except for these fries.

How many of you have gone to McDonald’s craving chicken nuggets or a Quarter Pounder with cheese, large fries, and a drink? You know you really shouldn’t eat it, you know it is not good for you, and that you’ll feel guilty and likely gross afterwards, yet just like those dirty magazines in your closet, you just can’t help yourself because it is Just. That. Satisfying.

I generally try not to think about how my food is made or what goes into the food I am digesting.  Ignorance is bliss, right? After all, food is food, it all gets digested the same way. Simple, right? Wrong.

See, that’s when it gets disturbing. As you’ll see in this video, the experiment puts McDonald’s fries and various sandwiches in glass jars along with a freshly ground burger and fries from the local joint down the street.  The process is videotaped over the course of 10 weeks.

Watch this video and you might just thank me for doing your health and stomach a favor. The fries have an uncanny and disturbing ability to stay fresh…  indefinitely.

NOTHING SHOULD STAY FRESH INDEFINITELY.* Except honey. So what exactly are you eating when you eat McDonald’s fries? Granted, the way food breaks down in our stomach is not the same as the way it breaks down in a glass jar, but that isn’t the focus here. The point is that among all the items IN the jars, everything molded and decomposed except the fries. You can argue that fries are not the same as meat and bread and that’s why they didn’t decompose. But if that is the case, why did the local store’s fresh fries rot, and rot fast at that, while the McDonald’s fries remained unchanged? For 10 weeks!

This is blasphemy! This is sick and disgusting and gross and disturbing.  What exactly are they putting in these fries that preserves them so long? How are they so chemically processed and manufactured that they doesn’t decompose? Or even wilt?  More importantly, what are we putting into our bodies when we ingest this? What kind of chemicals and preservatives are we digesting? Are we giving ourselves and our children poison?  No wonder that the obesity rate in America is so high.

Also, I recently came across this photo on the internet. This is what chicken nuggets look like before they are nuggets.  Apparently, McDonald’s claims that they don’t do this, but regardless of that debate – it is nasty and makes me question chicken nuggets in general. Hello Morningstar! It looks like a snake mated with a flamingo after eating strawberry fro yo.

I’msorryI’mnotsorry if it grossed you out too.

*No one tried them to know if they were edible so when I say fresh, it is more in appearance as if they were fresh out of the box.