< two fifty: life in a tiny apartment.

June 13, 2012

get a tool box. use it for tools.

i’m a woman and i write a blog. it’s not a blog about art or culture or oral history or historic preservation or any of the other things that i went and got a fancypants graduate degree in order to pursue. it’s about my life and it’s an awful lot about my domestic life: my apartment, my food, my make-believe outfits. this makes me more than a little bit self-conscious. sometimes i think i should quit this blog thing, just on principle.

i know i should be unapologetic. mostly i am. but i’m just saying that i get a little worried about this whole lifestyle genre. maybe it’s boorish or rude to say it, but this worry usually sets in around father’s day. we don’t have a television and so mostly we’re spared the inane commercials imploring tv-watchers to rush out and buy grills and tool boxes for Dad. in lieu of commercials, i get gift guides. just after mother’s day curtsies out, my google reader is inundated with gift guides imploring me to go out and buy clock radios and hatchets and awesomely rugged camping implements for Dad. what the what. i want that shite, too. so does my mom.

all of that is a roundabout and tormented way of saying that my absolute favorite items in my tiny apartment are my tool boxes. i have three. each of them is filled with tools and even though they take up about 3 of our 240 square feet, every inch of that space is well used. if you’re going to be an independent person in this ol’ world, get yourself a damn toolbox. it doesn’t matter that you’re not a dad or a grandpa or some monkey’s uncle, you need a tool box and it needs to be filled with tools, not just glue guns.

with me?

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  • Reply Jane Flanagan June 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm


  • Reply Shannon June 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Love this, and the picture is the perfect accompaniment. I went college for creative writing, and this was often a prompt, pick an object and describe it. Sometimes just describing something meaningful is a story in itself.

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 12:57 am

      thanks, shannon!

  • Reply Sue @ SimonsSistaSaw June 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    A lovely tool box no less. I think my Dad was on to something when he gave me some tools a few years ago. He always said he'd give me a tool set when I moved out of home so I envisaged a hammer, pliers & screwdrivers. Whilst he gave me them, he also gave me saw horses, a jigsaw, electric drill, a cordless drill, extension leads, drill bits, spanners, safety goggles, a whole lot of things. I didn't appreciate it at the time but now I'm thankful he treated me the same as his two sons, my two brothers. The only real concession he made towards me being a female is the hammer I got had a purple handle, a favourite colour of mine. Now, when I move back home to Australia, I just need to learn how to use all these things!

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:00 am

      that's quite a set! one day i hope to have the space for a proper workshop one day, too. power tools included.

  • Reply Meg June 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    absolutely!! the first time i put up a shelf (screwing in the screws BY HAND, no electric drill here!) i called my dad just so he could be proud of me. i love fixing things around our house, and i'm not afraid to use a little elbow grease (or a lot) to get 'er done. we have a dinky little toolbox that badly needs some additions, and i'll get to those. but for now it's exhilarating being able to fix that wobbly closet door, or install the paper towel holder inside the cabinet, or put up coat hooks in our front hall (with anchors!) all by myself.

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:05 am

      totally. i love that little thrill of actually getting something from broken to fixed, from in pieces to put together. the bathroom door of my sister's old apartment had a broken door knob for almost a year until i finally got out a little screw driver and chisel. triumph!

  • Reply Norma June 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Yes!!! I love tools, my husband loves tools and we gave our two oldest tool boxes, with tools, when they moved out. The two yougest will get one too and all our kids know how to use tools. Definitely necessary to independence. My mom never understood why I would do stuff myself when I could just tell my husband. Ha! Old school woman there and she never did, ever, use a tool. A tragic loss if you ask me.

    We buy lots of used tools at thrift shops, garage sales and estate sales. Almost never new. Love the old chippy paint and wonder about the people that used them before. We bring em home and give them life again at being usefulβ™₯

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:06 am

      couldn't agree more–old tools really are the best tools, and not only for their pretty patina!

  • Reply sweet harvest moon June 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Well said!

  • Reply Nicole June 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    please don't ever quit blogging! you are one of my favorites!

    I completely agree with the tool box rule. when i went off to college my mom bought me a pink (yes…pink!) tool kit. my tool collection has grown since then, but I still have some of the pink ones thrown in the mix. no reason you can't be tough and pretty :)


  • Reply Kayla Poole June 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Hoorahhh! And amen. P.S. I regularly feel weirded out being regarded as a lifestyle blogger. I too like tools more than washi tape :-)

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:06 am

      ha! don't get me wrong, i love my washi tape, but, well, you get it.

  • Reply Sophie June 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    even your tool box is super cool!!

  • Reply Milynn luong June 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Yes! I have 2! As much as I love having the convenience of my dad being nearby to help me put together a new desk, I love having my own tools to do it myself! I feel so much more accomplished and like you said… independent. But I don't think you should ever quit blogging, I love visiting here and being inspired to live more sustainable and trying your recipes :) Sorry for being a little selfish. πŸ˜›

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:09 am

      thanks, milynn! don't worry, i'm not planning to actually stop blogging, but sometimes i feel ready for a new challenge, you know?

  • Reply Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn June 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Don't stop blogging – because if you stop blogging, I won't have your pics and stories to make my day!

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:09 am

      oh, shucks.

  • Reply IndiaMorgan June 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    YOU'RE A BADASS CHICK, BABES. Remember this – feeling loopy for being a blogger is expected after so much solid education. But if it allows you mornings in the park and afternoons with you boo and the feeling of creative fulfillment, it's a million times better than any job in a windowless office behind a desk. Keep at it!

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:10 am

      thanks, sweet lady india. doin' it.

  • Reply Alexa June 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    sure am! i feel such a sense of pride and independence every time i hang a picture, tighten a screw, etc. i even texted my dad from ace hardware just this past weekend. his "what kind of screwdriver is this?" pop quizzes of my childhood paid off :)

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:12 am

      totally. i remember distinctly gloating in the third grade about being to able to make just this distinction.

  • Reply jacquelyn | lark & linen June 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I could NOT agree more!! I have tools and they are NOT pink.

  • Reply LIN June 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    It's funny you should bring up this topic of domestic life (and tools) as a way of life in the blog world. I just closed down my blog because I had the same feelings (former teacher, administrator, currently interested in emerging literacy) – that feeling of spinning my wheels in domestic land and wanting to more narrowly focus on other interests and begin a new adventure. I was beginning to feel like it's all been done before (blah blah blah), and really, how much more can be said? But, and this is a very big but, I completely enjoy your blog and think you do the domestic, sustainability, thoughtful, simple lifestyle perspective better than anyone out there in cyberspace. So, my long way of saying – as long as you're enjoying yourself and it brings you satisfaction, then who's to say what's what? And love your toolboxes! Thank you for your thoughtful and beautiful blog. Happy summer.

  • Reply Allison June 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm


  • Reply Chelsey June 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Yes – Love, love, love this. My tool set was my shower gift from my husband's grandma.

  • Reply Shelly { @ Quiet Luxury } June 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    hilarious! great post.

  • Reply Rebecca McKanna June 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Love this post for so many reasons. Also, it's a great reminder I need to get a toolbox. I've been using my husband's tools, but next year I'll be moving into my own tiny apartment to go to grad school out of state. A toolbox will be the perfect going away present.

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:17 am

      i'd say so. a tool box of one's own, as it were.

  • Reply Eva June 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I totally agree on this one! My mom learned me all the stuff I needed to learn abouts tools when I started to live on my own. I think I even more women who are more handy than men! And I think women should get there own toolbox just to make themselves independent ;-).

    p.s. I am a reader from Rotterdam, the Netherlands, I really love your blog and the little sustainable facts you put on your blog. I think your ideas and posts spread a little of a new way of seeing the world and your own life on the internet. So I hope you'll continue.

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:18 am

      thanks so much for your encouragement, eva! i'll keep on keeping on!

  • Reply Lea June 14, 2012 at 1:03 am

    I have just stumbled upon your blog and I am completely mesmerized. Especially by this series. My boyfriend and I moved into a studio a month ago and because of school, I am just now able to start organizing and decorating.

    Definitely agree! No good to borrow tools all the time :)

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:21 am

      hey lea, thanks so much for reading! ah, the challenge of a studio. courage, friend!

  • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 1:17 am

    thanks so much, lin. i'm hoping i can offer a little something different–your note is very encouraging. kudos to you for exploring other interests–glad to see you're shaking things up a bit!

  • Reply laura June 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    boo. ya.

  • Reply Ashley Blossom June 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    I'm totally with you! :) And that tool box is super awesome. Love, love that it's cute enough for decoration.

  • Reply ABBY June 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    i like it!

  • Reply Anonymous June 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    Absotlutely the best advice. The second I moved away from my Dad's tool box, I started one of my own. 20 years later I still use it all the time.

  • Reply Rachel June 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    I got my first tool box when I moved into my college dorm (and thus out of the house for the first time). It was weird when D and I merged toolboxes later on. I still sometimes ask where "my" screwdriver is.

    That said, I stay far away from power tools. I've had to make too many ER runs to ever feel comfortable with a table saw. I like my fingers.

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      ah, yes. fingers. my first year in college i had to take a class in set building (i wanted to be an actress, it was part of the drill, so to speak). i managed to save all my fingers while using power tools, but did suffer a two by four falling and hitting me square in the face. oh, me.

  • Reply Unknown June 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Everyday life is one of the most important things to document … especially if you're interested in place, history, and culture. I wonder where blogs will be in a couple of centuries — will historians be using blog archives for research?

    • Reply erin June 14, 2012 at 9:37 pm

      why, yes, you know you're right. as a former archivist myself it's of course these little documentations of daily life that i always most enjoyed. and YES. i think about the longevity of these sites all the time. where once there were scrapbooks, now there are blogs–mostly. i know there are historians thinking about these things, but i'm especially curious about the small state and local history archives. are they keeping tabs? will they archive the blogs that document their cities and towns? food for thought. thank you.

  • Reply Rachael June 16, 2012 at 1:16 am

    So completely with you! Although I will admit my toolbox was given to me by Dad the day he left me at college… disappeared for a while on move-in day & returned with a fully stocked toolbox I've had with me ever since!

  • Reply Emily August 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Yes, I am with you. I feel similar about blogging sometimes but then I remember that it's okay to not have to explain myself fully at all times. I used to think I had to, so I would try and cram my life story in to conversations with new aquaintainces. That rarely worked out great, but it was quite amusing to see their reactions. Sometimes I like to tell people about the time I took a bricklaying course. The reactions are interesting!

    And, yep, everyone should have a toolbox!

    Emily x

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