DIY Spice Rack (No Special Skills or Equipment Required)

Every day that I live in my apartment, it feels more like a home. I’m still not 100 percent there in my bedroom, but I did decide to stop waiting for divine decorating inspiration to strike. Instead I worked with what I already had, and that resulted in a productive afternoon and a much cheerier bedroom: I hung my framed photos and swapped out some of the older prints, arranged all of my books and writing tools, redid my closet (that was kind of forced upon me when the rod fell down) and added a bright, beautiful bouquet from the farmers market.

DIY Wooden Spice Rack Tutorial | Jaybird Blog

When we first moved in, there was no question that we would unpack kitchen supplies first. We divvied up shelves, unpacked cast iron and of course, we put up the spice rack. This simple wooden spice rack is a DIY project that has stuck with me for three years. It isn’t perfect: there are uneven edges, and nailing it directly into the wall means it’s tricky to remove, but I love the minimal shelves and ample space for all of our different spice jars. If you’re interested in making your own, read on for a simple tutorial.

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One Day at a Time: A Personal Update

Sometimes, it’s a phone call. One conversation that turns a beautiful day into a nightmare. You might know what I mean (though I hope to goodness you don’t): a phone call that cuts off the air. Words that land on your heart like stones. A message that leaves you without answers, and sometimes, without hope.

I got one last week. Even though a part of me knew it might come, it shook me like an earthquake. It’s a few days later and I still feel the aftershocks.

I want to put this bluntly, to write it quickly and directly so I can spit these words out and walk away from them: someone I love has terminal cancer. My dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2013, went through chemo and radiation, then a successful Whipple operation. He had a difficult recovery but had turned a corner in the past couple months, feeling stronger and more positive about the future…until it came back.

This news comes with two competing desires.

The first: to guard the most painful, intimate feelings I have experienced. To deny them power by refusing to voice them. To turn inward, putting the rest of life on the back burner. To shut down.

The second: to seek community more than ever. To share some of what we’re going through, not to bring others into our pain but to offer understanding to even one person reading who might be going through something similar. To stoke the hearth of normalcy by continuing with life as usual, as best I know how.

My first priority remains, as ever, my relationships–starting with family. There are no words to express my gratitude that my job not only allows but encourages me to go home and spend time with these people who laid the foundation of my life. Time with my parents and my brother, and the friends I grew up with in Virginia, is the best cure I know for heartsickness.

My second priority is self-care. For all my good intentions, it’s something I often preach without practicing, but I know that I need it now more than ever. I found immediate relief in letting some responsibilities go in order to make space for more of it: taking slow walks, writing in a journal and cooking comfort food. Calling Jim to come over and give me hugs, losing myself in the frivolous details of a low-key 25th birthday party. Cooing over puppy videos, reading fiction. Tweeting like a fool as usual.

While I want to keep some semblance of routine, I know the coming weeks and months will bring great change. I can’t quite envision what life would look like without blogging…Jaybird has been my creative outlet, my community, my hobby and even my (very small) business for the past 14 months. Blogging has been part of my life on and off since middle school.

But I imagine that, for now, my life will be enriched by letting go.

I’ll still write, but I won’t follow a schedule or post a set amount of times every week…and I might disappear for awhile. I’ll still read your posts, my inspiring blogger friends, but I may not comment as often. I’ll still share silly and happy things, but I won’t promise every post will be full of sunshine.

I’ll be taking it one day at a time. Sometimes, that’s all there is to do.

Love,

Alicia

Links on Links: True Health, Success & a Giant Obstacle Course

Here’s a reminder that I needed this week, which came on a postcard courtesy of a dear friend:

It's ok not to be ok.

It was just one of those weeks where things kept piling on, and by Friday I felt muddled and mopey. When those days come around, I try to do two things: indulge in self-care and remember the good stuff. So on Friday, I cheered up with a good book (Americanah–thanks Lizzie for the rec!), pancakes for dinner and some happy things around the house. I took to my indoor garden and potted some baby spider plants and repotted my new spearmint plant. Making something grow, seeing that sprout of potential…it’s a good way to feel better.

Another way I get to feeling better is by binge-reading my favorite blogs, especially when I haven’t been keeping up as faithfully as usual. That means that this week I’m especially excited to share one of those reads with you: The Winestain!

Ashley’s writing is sassy, honest and smart (she’s working towards a PhD, so color me impressed), whether she’s writing about past relationships or sharing a playlist of drinking music for a summer party. Her blog encourages you to explore, starting in your hometown with the 30 Days of City Love challenge and these ideas for traveling at home. If I haven’t convinced you yet, I know it’s Saturday, so maybe this post on how to host a cheap wine tasting will.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m having a blast with #30DaysofCityLove, but you should check out the hundreds of other pictures coming in from around the world! Here’s the hashtag page: #30DaysofCityLove–and you can join in any time.

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9 Things to Do When Your Roommates Go Out of Town

When I considered where to move from my last apartment, I briefly thought about living alone. I’ve always had at least two roommates, and over the years I’ve grown used to the sweet moments in a shared space: chatting over the cutting board, exchanging recipes, trying each other’s food (or more accurately: me, shamelessly mooching my roommates’ food). Plopping down on each other’s beds, going over our days, wondering out loud what our next phases will bring. Mixing cocktails, sharing songs, taking walks through the neighborhood. Commiserating over our landlord’s good intentions yet awful execution. Experiencing our first Chicago apartment, together.

Home alone
The idea of living alone and coming home to an empty apartment seemed like just that…empty. Despite that, something about the idea kept tempting me. In my own place, I would be able to decorate however I wanted, read/run/work/blog with no distractions, leave the dishes in the sink for a couple days with no one to judge me (Jim would probably encourage that behavior). I would experience complete independence, an idea as exhilarating as it was scary.

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