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big decorating dreams. tiny little budget. don't be a wallflower! jump on over to the discussion boards and get decorating help.
other recent LOUNGE articles:
o Fight the Chaos
Gallery-style Picture Hanging Tracks
o After School
Sew What?
o Curtain Time
Lazy Decorator's Bag of Tricks
Home sweet homes
Minor Makeover Miracles: Kitchen
CD decor
o Say it with Spraypaint
Painting 101
Make it Mosaic!
Estate Sales 
Open House 
Hammock Heaven 
Makeshift Vases 
o Newlyweds' Nest 
o Variations on a Theme 

copyright ©1999-2002

a room of my own 
Kathryn OíHalloran | 1 2 3
continued from page 1

Plus there were the other problems that became apparent once I began settling into my exciting new life without roommates. Not being a domestic freak, I easily let things slip. It was so easy to start thinking I didnít need to cook meals or bother too much with housework, because after all, nobody would notice but me. The danger of being able to do whatever you want? Doing whatever you want, even when itís ill-advised. Spending a huge chunk of the budget on takeaway meals. Flirting with malnutrition when you decide to survive on tinned soup. Not to mention huge pile-ups of dirty dishes and laundry.

So it took me some time to learn how to keep things running smoothly in this apartment of mine. I decided to use some common sense rules to keep the bills down to an affordable level Ė something that was much easier without flatmates carelessly sabotaging my efforts. I donít like paying to power anything Iím not using so I got into the habit of turning off the computer, television and radio the minute I was finished with them. I learned to put on an extra layer of clothing and snuggle up with my hot water bottle instead of running a huge money-eating heater; when I do need to use the heater, a small bar radiator is enough to warm my toes. In summer I would so much rather cool off in the shade with a frozen margarita (paper umbrella optional) and a kiddy pool than be stuck inside with electric fans or air conditioning.

I learned to cook efficiently for one. Half the battle, I discovered, was in the planning. If the cupboards were filled with all the essentials and the fridge with lots of yummy vegetables, then making a quick and simple dinner wasnít such a chore. I have always wanted to be one of those people that cooks extra at meal times and then freezes the leftovers for another night, but I know myself well enough to realize itíll never happen. No matter how many times Iíve tried to convince myself itíll save work in the long run, the closest I get is preparing a big pot of soup in the winter. But as long as I shop sensibly and keep the kitchen stocked, I can knock together a stir fry or pasta in minutes.

The other half of the battle was purely mental: convincing myself that Iím worth cooking for. Cooking, I learned, didnít have to be tied to entertaining, to those special occasions where other people would actually be consuming my food. I could go to the slight trouble of fixing a nice meal for no one else by myself, and enjoy it, because a good home-cooked meal beats takeaway any day. These days, itís no longer necessary for me to have a whole sway of friends over to get out the cooking pots. I still love making a meal thatís going to win me admiration, but I can make a good meal for myself and sometimes even set up the table nicely Ė with fresh flowers and the works -- instead of crashing down in front of the telly.

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