Restoring My Mood with Retail Therapy and a Mini Home Remodel Project

Dear Friends,

Happy Thursday! I hope your week is treating you well. If you’re anything like me, your week started off with a blast of winter weather about two months premature! I was off work on Monday for Veteran’s Day, and we had sleet, snow, and arctic temperatures. When I woke up Tuesday morning the boys’ school had cancelled for the day and it was only 10 degrees with a feels like temperature of 1. Thankfully that only lasted for a day before the weather started climbing back to somewhat-normal.

Monday morning I dropped Logan off at school and Ruby off at the groomer, then I hit the stores. I’m not a big shopper in general, especially when the holidays are near. The stores are full of people and the traffic getting there is hectic, and it sucks all of the joy out of it for me. On a weekday, however, when most of the world is working except for those of us on a government holiday schedule, it is pretty calm and peaceful.

My mood has been down for a while, and I’m not entirely sure why aside from general life busyness.  I’m not a stranger to this, as I have experienced both depression and anxiety in the past.

Pause for a side note here — if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, I want you to know that a) you are not alone, and b) there is no shame in what you are going through. The stigma around mental health is lifting more all the time, and I personally think the bravest people are those who struggle and keep right on growing.

Even though I’ve been through counseling and done the work, that doesn’t stop depressive or anxious moods from creeping back in from time-to-time, and that has definitely happened here lately. Life has been busy (thankfully it’s finally slowing down) and pressure has been high, and I don’t think I realized how much it was getting to me.

Last Saturday I helped my son with his first ever paid job — painting a mural in someone’s home — and it ended up taking so much longer than we anticipated. He usually does graffiti in chalk, or spray paint where it’s legal, and one piece takes anywhere from one-to-four hours to complete. This particular project is for an arcade, which means lots and lots of pixels that first need to be sketched onto the wall, then painted in acrylic paints.

We were two hours from home and he realized he forgot his sketch book, so he had to start the sketches over from scratch. Luckily we are an art family, so I was able to take the sketches from him as he finished them and transfer them in pixels onto the wall. I even helped paint in some of the Pac Man ghosts while he was finishing sketches. It was about the time I thought we’d be finishing up, and we were barely even started good. Then to make matters worse, he started feeling rotten. He ended up with a cold that decided to make its presence known about mid-afternoon.

We ended up having to make plans to come back and finish in a couple of weeks, and my plans to go home and get the grocery shopping done, then spend a little time with Michael for the evening, were completely shot. We got home just in time for bed, then got up early for church the next day. Which means the grocery shopping got moved to Sunday, and then I had to prep breakfast, lunch and snacks for the week. And I still had an assignment for class that I’d been trying to do for four days and still hadn’t gotten done. The weekend was all but gone, the pressure was high, and I’d gotten no time for “me” so I could recharge.

I’d realized I was feeling depressed — just unmotivated to do anything, not working out, not caring what I look like and having zero desire to get up and ready for work in the mornings, and focusing a lot on the negative — a couple of days before the weekend. I thought about calling my counselor, who I worked with a lot about five years ago, and still find myself going back to see once every couple of years when I hit a rough patch. But I’ve found a way to work myself back out of it all on my own.

What I was really needing more than anything else was simply time for me. Time to focus on my needs instead of everyone else’s. Time to do something that makes me feel good and accomplished. I got that time, at long last, on Monday. The kids had school, Michael had work, and I had a day to myself. I’d managed to get the homework assignment and food prep all done the day before, so I had no obligations at all and was entirely, utterly free…and it felt GREAT!

You know how you go to bed at night, and that’s when all of your ideas suddenly hit you? That happened to me on Sunday night. I gave Instagram one last scroll before bed, and had the thought that I really need to separate my blog profile from my personal profile. Right now I share it all in one place, but it would be nice to give my blog it’s own separate profile. And immediately after that, I thought about my kitchen. So much of my blog is food and recipes, and I have this breakfast bar in my kitchen that is solid wood stained a hideous shade of orangey oak that I’ve been wanting to redo since I bought the house two years and eight months ago. If so many of my pictures will be taken in the kitchen, I really need to get that last part of my kitchen finished first…which set me on a mission for my Monday.

I’ve been working on turning my family room into an entertainment space — it’s already a small library, with a fireplace and a TV. But I also wanted to set up a projector for family movie nights, that I could connect to the surround sound that is down there. So when I dropped Logan off at school and Ruby off at the groomer, I ran over to Walmart to pick up the projector I’d chosen, which was finally back in stock. I also had to run to another store to pick up the first part of Michael’s Christmas present that had come in, so I had time to kill while waiting for that store to open.

I ran over to Menards to pick up supplies to refinish my countertop, and by the time I was done there it was time for Hobby Lobby to open. I wanted to look at buffalo check pillows, which they had but I opted to order covers for my existing pillows from Amazon instead. While I was there I bought eight new poinsettia tree picks for the Christmas tree that will be going up soon, and they had the lamb’s ear garland that matches the wreath on the inside of my living room door on sale this week. So I bought three lengths of that garland with plans to dress it up for Christmas (my current garland doesn’t match the décor in my house, and I’ve slowly been swapping things out over the last couple of years). I also bought new Advent candles, then remembered that I managed to set my Advent wreath on fire last year (whoopsie!), so will need to make a new one of those this year as well.

After that I stopped at TJ Maxx. I wanted to check out their kitchen stuff to see what kind of copper pots and silicone utensils they had (turns out none worth purchasing, at least yesterday). They had so much Christmas stuff out, and I found something I couldn’t resist. Michael’s carafe for his coffee pot broke, so he bought himself a new Ninja coffee maker that does everything you could possibly ever want a coffee pot to do. I spotted a set of four Christmas coffee mugs in a stainless steel holder that matched his kitchen colors perfectly, and I just had to get that as an early Christmas present for him to display with his coffee maker!

He’s also been looking for coffee syrups and stuff to make lattes and flavored coffees. My favorite at Christmastime is peppermint mocha and I found a sugar free peppermint mocha coffee syrup at TJ Maxx too. So I grabbed that, plus a bag of shortbread cookies, and headed for the checkout. On my way I passed a Calvin Klein sweater display…and I cannot resist Calvin Klein! I’ve been searching for a new white sweater for this winter, and there was a white CK turtleneck right at the very end of the display. $20 for Calvin Klein? Yes please!! Then as I traversed the checkout line there was a little baby Christmas tree kit with blush and gold sparkly ornaments for $25. My kitchen Christmas tree is still the retro style from my last house, so I decided to make the purchase and update my kitchen for Christmas too.

img_0434So way more money than I’d planned to spend later, I left TJ Maxx and went to pick up Michael’s gift before heading home to start on my countertop. My original plans for my day off were to set up the projector (which I did), then veg out watching movies and reading a book all day. Instead, I decided to tackle the countertop. Home improvement projects are a lot of work, but they make me feel so good when they’re done. So I stripped, sanded, and scrubbed the wood countertop, then stained it with a whitewash stain, and applied three coats of polycrylic sealer on top. Sounds simple, but it took a few hours to finish and I love the way it turned out:

It was incredibly refreshing just to do something for me, with no one else there to distract me or need my time and attention. Michael called me on his way home and commented that I sounded in much better spirits, and I truly felt in good spirits too. I knew I’d been feeling down lately, but I didn’t realize he could see it that much too. I guess I haven’t been my usual, energetic, positive self. But I’m feeling like myself again now, and I’m grateful that I was able to give myself what I needed without needing talk therapy…this time!

I finished off my Monday night by leaving all the dinner dishes piled up in the sink, putting on a homemade Tan France face mask (recipe is plain Greek yogurt + steep green tea leaves from one tea bag), and watching the newest episodes of Queer Eye on the projector in the basement. My spirits have been back on high ever since, and I’m now ready for whatever comes next.

First step = yoga. I’ve been slacking on my yoga just because I’ve been feeling so down and unmotivated, so I’m excited to get my body flowing again. I’m also pretty excited to finish up the kitchen and get the new blog Instagram page up and running. It will be coming very soon, just as soon as I get a few good photos ready to share now that the kitchen is up to snuff. I will be linking the new Instagram account to this page, so pay attention to the link on the right (or down below if you’re on mobile), and you will see the new feed when it’s up and running!

With that, I send you off with many well wishes for the weekend. I will be getting my hair done and spending some quality time with Michael this weekend. And I will see all of you back here on Monday with a brand new Mediterranean Monday post.


Author: Loren Miller

I'm a Midwestern woman living my best and healthiest life, fueled by passion and caffeine. I follow the Mediterranean diet, I'm a yoga newbie, and a hiker and general explorer of the outdoors. I adore fashion and dressing up, and finding amazing, quality designer pieces through thrift shopping. Most all of my outfits have at least one thrifted item--saving my wallet and the planet one designer top at a time <3

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