Job Sampling & Home Decorating

The weekend before last we did something a little different – we worked with a team of folks from Georgia and Alabama to pack up a Staples store that was going out of business in Hermitage, TN. We found out about the project through one of my side hustles and it seemed like a great way to earn a good bit of vacation money pretty quickly and easily. Admittedly, I thought about backing out when we first arrived on site but after a few hours, we fell into a groove and actually had a lot of fun.

Besides the cash (almost $500 to be exact), they were also giving away a lot of items from the store. People left with desks, filing cabinets, plastic storage drawers, and more. We declined the big stuff but did take home a 2017 Rand McNally Road Atlas to replace our 2015 version. On Sunday, while watching football, I re-purposed the old atlas and some postcards into wall art for our new bedroom. I haven’t hung them yet but I think they turned out pretty good.


Our decorating style is probably eclectic with a focus on minimalism. The theme of our our home, if homes were to have themes, would be travel. The few items we have on display were mostly acquired during our travels. Last year, we invested in a few pieces of quality furniture (the couch, loveseat, ottoman, and dinette set) but for the most part, our home is a mix of odds and ends picked up in thrift stores, closeout stores, Goodwill, and yes, even the dumpster.

Though it is the smallest floor plan offered here, our new apartment is still 1 1/2 times the size of our previous one. The amount of wall space is insane! We could almost open an art gallery in here. It’s been a real challenge to make the new place feel cozy but here’s a look at what we came up with.

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The thought crossed our minds to buy a few new things to “fill the wall space” but that idea was vetoed in favor of using our “mad money” to do something special on our trip to New York & DC next month.

Speaking of mad money…

The Staples project gave us the opportunity to sample a different kind of job and Angie was really intrigued by the travel aspect. Besides us, everyone on the team was from at least 4 hours away. They were working 5 days (not just the weekend, like we were) and staying in a nice mid-range hotel. Each received mileage reimbursement and a $25 per diem for meals. Since the job ended promptly at 5 PM every day, they still had time to explore Nashville (which the vast majority said that they did). I’m not sure I’d want to do it all the time but we calculated that one 5-day work/travel trip would cover all of our expenses for an entire month so I’m definitely putting it on our list of potential semi-retirement jobs.

Moving Meets the Murphys

I’m firmly convinced that we should change our last name to Murphy. If something can go wrong, we will without a doubt be right there in the middle of it when it does! Moving to our new apartment on Saturday was no exception.

Outside our new apartment
Outside our new apartment

The day started off well. We walked to Best Do-nuts, the Chinese-owned bakery across the street from our old apartment, and treated ourselves to a bag of doughnut holes (a very rare treat, I might add) before heading to the new apartment for our walk-through. Our leasing agent was busy with another couple so she gave us the keys and our checklist and sent us on our way. We oohed and aahed over our new place, making notes of where to put things; basically dilly-dallying, all the while thinking we had plenty of time. We weren’t scheduled to pick-up our U-Haul until noon and the moving helpers weren’t scheduled to arrive until 1 PM.

Midway through our daydream the phone rang. It was U-Haul letting us know they would be closing in 15 minutes. Luckily the rental counter was only a few miles away so we headed over to pick up the truck. When we moved from Colorado to Florida and then again from Florida to Tennessee, we towed a 8′ x 12′ trailer. This time, I thought a 10′ truck should do the trick for our 2  mile move. Though we have a little amount of stuff, the stuff we do have is definitely not little. The couch, loveseat, and bed took up almost the entire truck!

Speaking of those large, bulky, heavy-as-a-ton-of-bricks items…

Our moving helpers were a no-show!! After confirming and reconfirming, the guys from Craigslist must have decided they had better things to do than carry a couch down a flight of stairs. Thankfully, we had started loading the U-Haul early and by 1 PM (when they were supposed to show up) all we had left to load was the big stuff. At 1:30, I officially called them flakes and yelled down to the crowd of neighbors that had gathered to watch us move, “Anyone want to make a little extra cash loading a couch and loveseat into the truck?” We were met by a chorus of, “Oh, I would but I have a bad back.” and “My chiropractor would kill me.”

Our "monster" loveseat
Our “monster” loveseat

Finally, Larry, our stalker neighbor stepped up. He and another football-player-sized neighbor loaded the couch and loveseat. Neither accepted payment, though I offered each what I would have paid Carlos and his brother. (All stalking incidents are now forgiven, though I can’t say that I’ll be sending Larry a thank-you note from our new address anytime soon).

At our new apartment (also on the 2nd floor), we reversed the process and started with the heavy stuff first. Angie and I successfully unloaded the mattress and loveseat and were halfway up the stairs with the couch when our new neighbor, Anna, jumped in to assist. She’s a bubbly young woman with 2 dogs who works at an animal shelter. I think we’re going to like her just fine. I should also mention here that our unloading was interrupted by a little storm – okay, a pretty substantial storm with lightning. At one point, the high winds caught Angie carrying a section of the platform bed and spun her around. The rain delay lasted about an hour.

We spent all day Sunday unpacking and watching a little preseason football. On the positive side, FOX and NBC both come in really clear here. With the exception of wall decor, we’re officially moved in. Every box is unpacked and everything has a home. Having less stuff definitely makes that part of the process a lot easier!

View from patio
Trees! We have trees again!!

Despite the unintended workout on Saturday, I have to say that our move has been a positive experience. Just waking up in a home filled with sunshine or looking out at an actual tree (instead of a truck filled with garbage) has been a real boost – the kind of boost that was long overdue!

Yesterday, I worked a bit from my “new” office in the bedroom before we headed down to the pool. We were the only ones there, which was really nice. We haven’t yet walked our new complex but I foresee many evening strolls beneath the trees and we’re especially eager to check out the picnic area, which has a gas grill, a gas fire pit, and lots of umbrella-covered tables. To round out our day, we went to ALDI for our weekly grocery run. Instead of piling into the car and driving across town, we simply walked next door. Yep, we live right beside ALDI! (We’re super excited about that, if you can’t tell.)