March 2015 Shopping Summary

I’m linking up once again with Franish and the budgeting bloggers to show you what I’ve purchased this month.

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In my post last month  I mentioned wanting to find a dress for Easter as well as for spring itself. I spied this one at Old Navy (which looks startlingly like one from A.P.C. last spring) and had to have it. The boatneck! Sleeves! Tall sizes! It had to be perfect. The reviews were mixed but I decided to go ahead and order it because the tall sizes are online only. Well, it has arrived and the verdict is that it is for $25 I am a big fan of this dress.

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This next item was something bought in February but it didn’t arrive until March. I love it! Rings are my favorite pieces of jewelry to wear because I work at a computer and can always see them. I was initially looking for something on Baublebar, but their prices are so dang high that I thought I would go for etsy instead. With shipping this was $42.  I wear this almost every day and am trying to be careful about storing it in an airtight container to prevent  tarnishing.

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I also picked up the tee pictured above in teal/blue and beige with blue stripes from LOFT.  When I bought them the promotion was 2 for $30 and I think it might be even better than that now.  They’re  not going to last forever but I have noticed that LOFT’s basics seem to be a better value than the rest of their line.

$97 spent in March means that I have about $450 left for the year if I’m to stay within budget.  I tend to shop in spurts, and March meant the beginning of a new capsule so it is entirely likely that I won’t purchase anything in April.  I would still like to find a pair of white jeans though.

2015 Word of the Year

I realize that we’re already halfway through March (goodness!) and that everyone and her sister has already done this, but I wanted to share my word of the year for 2015.

The idea is something that I have been tossing around in my head since January, but couldn’t get myself to commit to until this past weekend. I picked a bit of an odd word – you’ll see – and I kept trying other words on to see if they would fit better. But then something happened this weekend to absolutely convince me that I had chosen the right word.

You know how people say that sermons and homilies really speak to them? How people will say that something they heard touched them and was exactly what they needed at that very moment. Yeah….that has never been me. I appreciate a good homily as much as the next person. A good argument well presented is one of my favorite things.

So imagine my surprise in typing out these next words: the homily at Sunday’s mass really convicted me. I now see that my chosen word is completely appropriate for this stage in my life. The priest used my word not once, but twice in his homily. And the message was exactly what I needed to hear at this very moment.

My word for this year is redoubled. Redoubled? Yes. Odd, right? It means to “make or become greater; more intense”. The homily itself was about Lent, and how we’re at the part of the season where our resolve is fading, our excitement over the changes that we are making in our lives is waning. This is the point at which we need to redouble our efforts so that we can live well during these last few weeks rather than slog along until Easter.

There are a few aspects of this stage in my life that aren’t all that great. There are projects that I’ve started and am stalling on because we’re in that stage where it is hard to see progress.

Do better. Work harder.

I need to redouble my efforts in a few areas of my life in order to see the progress that I am looking for. And last Sunday gave me even more motivation to do so.

Story of a Name

I’m excited to be joining in on The Circle link-up with Kiki this month. I’ve been reading along for the past several topics, but this is the first one that I have had very much to say about: the meaning of my blog name!

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I didn’t want to use any part of my name. I don’t want to be google-associated with my blog. In general, I try to limit how searchable my personal life is because I know that potential clients are prone to searching me.  There are plenty of ladies named Sara in this world – but if you have found my last name, please keep it to yourself.  Thanks!

I wanted a plural pronoun.  I started this blog as a married lady and knew that, even though this was my blog, my other half would make the occasional appearance in the stories and photos posted here.

I didn’t want anything location-specific.  It would have been very easy – and maybe catchier- for me to throw “Chicago” somewhere in the title of my blog, but that would have been asking the universe to relocate us ASAP.

We were living in a studio apartment in downtown Chicago when I started blogging.  This is probably the most direct association with my blog’s name.  We were living in a tiny place!  Not many couples share studios for very good reasons.  It’s hard to find your own space for a few minutes when the only door in your apartment is the bathroom door.  Lesson learned.

The more I thought about it the better my name fit with our worldview.  Our story is only a small part of this bigger world that we live in.  And as a couple we try our bets to live within this context.  We’re earth-friendly hippies who try to live as green and minimally as possible.  While we may not always live in a tiny studio (we don’t at the moment), we will always live with respect for this fact.

And for fun I thought I’d let you know the name that almost was.  It breaks just about every “rule” listed above but I can’t help but think that it’s catchy.  What you’re now reading as Our Small Space was almost named…..Sara of the Smokestacks.





Internet-Free Week: An experiment

We accidentally conducted a very interesting experiment a few weeks back. Our internet mysteriously went down and it was readily apparent that we would need our provider to send out a technician to see what was going on. Instead of scheduling an appointment AS SOON AS POSSIBLE we decided to wait a week and see how it felt.  Now, we do have smartphones with data plans but we really tried our hardest not to use them. I also work from home a few days per week, but I have an air card through work that I was able to use. Clearly life was not exactly the same as pre-internet but it was an experiment nonetheless.

The challenges

  • Life sans-internet was a bit complicated by modern-day problems. I mentioned work above, but there was also the issue of Liam’s schooling, which is heavily internet-dependent. He stayed late at work one night for one of his classes and viewed the other one at a coffee shop. Neither of his classes require much student participation during lectures, (meaning he could easily watch in a public place) but that would have been an issue in earlier terms.
  •  Who uses checks anymore? We can even pay our rent online in our current apartment. Paying our bills online was a potential issue. I was not a huge fan of the idea of using open internet for the few bills that we paid during our internet-less week (nor did I want to use work internet for personal reasons) so we used management’s internet for about 20 minutes one day. I went down into their office with my computer on one of my at-home work days and connected for a little while.

These are the only two real challenges that came about during the week. We both have work phones so we had consistent access to work email – more of a necessity for L than for me. My immediate updates about work usually come in the form of texts anyway.

Things I did during our internet outage

  • Used cookbooks. Whoa! Instead of going online for recipes I broke into my cookbooks. I tend to use them anyway, but I went to them for techniques as well as recipes. I couldn’t google “how to make rice” (for example; I actually do know a little bit about cooking) but had to look it up instead.
  • Read more. So obvious, right? I spent more time reading than I do when we have internet.
  • Went to a local coffee house for the internet. Enjoyed the social aspect the most. There was one evening where the house was clean, nothing was on television and I wanted nothing more than to write a few posts that I had been creating in my head. So I did. It wasn’t like we were pretending the internet didn’t exist. I spent a few hours with a coffee and my laptop and got in some fun people watching as well.
  • Went to Target. Odd, right? Not really. We pay for Amazon Prime and normally get things like paper products and cleaning solutions delivered to our house as a time and money saver. It’s a time saver because we don’t have to wander around a store and a money saver because I am much less likely to make impulse purchases online. I ventured to Target one evening to get a few things we needed and hope I don’t have to return any time soon. The temptation is just too great

Did I have any life-changing revelations while we were internet-free? I’m afraid not. Is it a permanent lifestyle change that I want to make? Definitely not. But I think it made me “hit reset” when it comes to internet usage. There is a lot of internet in my life. Yours too, likely. And there are some places where it just doesn’t need to be. Normally I will stream the news while I’m getting ready each morning. I realized how stressed that makes me.   Now I just check the weather before I leave the house and wait until I actually start my workday to see what has happened in the world. It’s not choosing to be uninformed; it’s choosing to wait 45 minutes and it works for me.

I have a good friend who, along with her husband, lives without any home internet. Neither of them have jobs that require connectivity. They do have a television, laptop and smartphone –so it’s not like they eschew technology. Internet-free living works for them and I’m glad that I tried it out for myself. But I was also very relieved when our technician showed up and changed out our modem for us.

Internet, I just can’t quit you. Instead I’ll just limit you more than I did before.



Currently: March 2015

Today I am linking up with Anne (in Residence) and Jenna of Dearest Love for their “Currently” link up.  It is facilitated group microblogging: they throw out a handful of prompts that everyone responds to with little updates that otherwise wouldn’t be deemed blog-worthy.


Dreaming: I spend more time than I would like to admit daydreaming about Easter. It’s my favorite holiday and I can’t wait to spend time at my parents’ house with all of my siblings. I love everything about Easter. The days are longer, the weather (a little bit) warmer, and everyone dresses up for church. We take family pictures after mass and then dig in to the most delicious breakfast of the year. It’s the best! Oh…and the Easter Bunny does still visit our house :)

Planning: our road trip! We love traveling by car and exploring new parts of the country. This year we are heading to the southeast. I know we want to hit Savannah GA, Charleston SC (or thereabouts), Asheville NC and Richmond VA. I don’t know if the route will make perfect sense or if we’ll be doing some doubling-back while we’re there. This trip is part new and part nostalgia for me: when I was growing up I spent several weeks each summer at a camp in western North Carolina. I have always said that if I were to want to start all over in a new state it would be NC.

Making: a birthday wish list. Per mother’s request. I don’t need an espresso machine but it sure would be a fun present!

Baking: very little. I attempted an egg bake that I thought could be good for Easter brunch but it was just ho-hum.

Watching: Parenthood. I know, I’m late to the party and totally binge watching this show. The last time I started a series because of its internet popularity was Friday Night Lights. This doesn’t hold a candle to that. If not for Lauren Graham I would have probably quit by now.  I generally like the story lines and character development, but the show has just enough characters that annoy me and every third episode seems like a waste.  Also, House of Cards.  —-> What is going on with Doug!?

Month in Review: February 2015

Ah, February. The month of love and cold. And snow. Oh, there was much snow. Even though the month is short we have a lot to celebrate. My husband’s birthday. My BIL’s birthday. Valentine’s Day. The Superbowl. Looking back, it feels like the month was packed with parties. No complaints here!

Like last month, I thought it would be fun to do a recap of February 1st. I think (hope) it will make for an interesting read at the end of the year.  Like I mentioned in my day-in-the-life post, we had plans to watch the Super Bowl with my parents and because of an impending snow storm they actually requested that we come by Saturday evening.


Sunday morning we woke up to almost white-out conditions and L, my dad and I headed outside to get working on snow removal.  I can’t believe that February 1 was the first time this winter that I needed to do that.  My parents headed to church and I watched a sermon online because I was still working on a neighbor’s driveway when it was time to leave.  I love that my parents live in a neighborhood where people take care of each other – helping single moms with the shoveling, passing snowblowers around from family to family and kids out helping alongside their parents.  It actually reminds me a lot of the neighborhood I grew up in, so I’m not surprised my parents chose to relocate here.  After taking care of the snow L did homework and I helped my mom go through her closet and discard things that didn’t fit or work for her anymore.

Superbowl food

Regarding the Superbowl itself, we were most definitely a house divided. My husband is a native New Englander and his roots kicked in just before kickoff. Being an avid Chicago Bears fan myself, I was clearly obliged to cheer for the team that knocked Green Bay out of contention and that made me a Seattle fan for the day. I also quite like the city of Seattle itself, very much enjoy Skittles (can someone explain the association between Skittles and the Seahawks to me?) and find Boston sports fans obnoxious on all levels.  It wasn’t a difficult decision.  I’m not a Katy Perry fangirl, but I thought she was a brilliant choice for the halftime show.  She did an excellent job of captivating everyone we were watching with and I thought it was a really fun performance.  The commercials this year were really….heavy.  They were much less fun.  We headed home immediately after the game ended because that was when the roads were clear and the snow the lightest it had been in hours.


Other notable events included Valentine’s Day and Liam’s birthday.  I read quite a lot and was able to make my miles biked goal rather easily.  That was a huge relief after a January where I was hardly able to workout on account of the car accident.  We were hoping for a boring, inexpensive month and that is exactly what we got.

States we slept in: IL

Books read: Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (my thoughts are here).  An abridged version of The Five Love Languages – definitely not interested in reading the full thing anymore.   That puts me at 4/35 for the year because I’m not counting the Love Languages overview.

TV shows watched: Parenthood.  House of Cards.  Downton Abbey.  Friday Night Lights.  Oookay, that’s a ton of television for me.  Looking back I’m not sure how that happened, but now it makes sense that I didn’t get through many books.

Projects completed: Inspired by Marie Kondo I did a fairly significant purge of our household items and my personal belongings.  I also helped my parents do the same when I spent the weekend with them.  I tracked our spending on a daily basis (boring!) and cooked fish for the first time.

Dates: We celebrated Liam’s birthday dinner at a new brewpub near our house and went for Thai food on Valentine’s Day.  Technically we left for the Superbowl in January and I think that our two dates may have been the only times all month that we left the house together.  Thanks, grad school.

Snippets: More aftermath of the accident to deal with – not complaining; it was just very time consuming.  Received our tax refund and put it in savings like boring people.   Shoveled so much snow at the beginning of the month.  Liam had midterms and I spent a weekend with my parents.  Celebrated lots of birthdays.

Like this type of post?  Check out more via the linkup on Amanda’s blog!

January and February shopping roundup

Man, it has been a while since I have done one of these.  I’m linking up with Franish and the budgeting bloggers to share a report of the clothing that I have purchased so far this year.


In January I bought two new dresses to replace the two sweater dresses in my capsule. One had worn out and the other shrunk badly in the wash.  After sitting on them for a few days I realized that, while I liked both of them, I didn’t love either of the dresses that I bought.  So I returned a sleeveless gray dress and kept the blue one above.  Old Navy ran a promotion in the beginning of the year where if you bought two clearance items the third one was free.  Because L had gotten something, the dress that I kept wound up being free.  So, oddly enough $0 spent in Jan.  (I don’t count spending on L’s clothing toward my yearly total and the third January item was for him.)

The dress doesn’t sit quite as oddly on me as it looks on the model.  It’s a simple ponte flare dress.  I think that I might actually try to shorten the sleeves to just above my elbow so I can continue wearing the dress into the spring.

In February I bought a pair of white jeans and a trench coat for the spring. I’m happy with this Old Navy coat at the moment but I am going to think on it for a bit longer.   I really wanted to like the “white” jeans that I bought…but they unfortunately wound up not being white at all.  Imagine washing a pair of white jeans with the rest of your regular blue jeans.  Can you picture the color?  That’s the color they wound up being when they came in the mail.  Total spent: $42.

That leaves me with $558 for the rest of the year.  Spring clothing is hitting the stores and I have already seen lots that I really like!  I do think I will be buying a few things in March since i am switching into my Spring capsule wardrobe.  I would like to find a new dress for Easter – the one dress I have that would work is sleeveless and Easter is early enough this year that I’m positive it will be too cold for that.  I’m still on the hunt for white jeans to add to my Spring wardrobe.  Lastly, I think I may try to replace a boatneck tee that I have had forever with one from Everlane that Fran reviewed.  I know she didn’t love it but the weight of it appeals to me more than anything.