This is my craft room… studio… office… whatever you want to call it, and yes it’s looked that pretty much since we moved in. Sure it’s been slightly more tidy off and on, but it’s always returned to this state. If you’re wondering where my computer is, it’s a laptop I keep parked in the living because this. Awesome, huh?
The biggest culprit is probably my jewelry supplies.
I got one of these bad boys for Christmas last year and it’s wonderful and stack-able, but a little pricey for as many as I need. I picked up a couple more (1 tiny, 1 small–the “small” is what’s shown here) for smaller beads since it’s sooo nice to be able see them all at a glance. The fancy case isn’t necessary for all my stuff–findings, wire, tools–so I picked up this guy last time I was at the hardware store.
Love the drawer sizes and adjustable dividers… not lovin’ the uber industrial look. I already had some white spray paint on hand for my radiators, so I hit it with a few coats of that.
If you think this and the container units are the extent of my jewelry supplies you are very, very wrong. I have 4 full cubbies of my Expedit unit crammed with beads, wire, and tools and could easily use another 10 of the container units, but will probably work in more of these drawer units because they are WAY cheaper.
Still a long ways to go, but better right? The closet is still filled with boxes that I need to go through but I’ve also cleared out tons of stuff and rediscovered my floor so I’m calling this a success. The room is going to be a long-term project for sure, but it’s at least no longer completely overwhelming.
We started painting our entryway/stairs yesterday! We’re actually doing pretty good on the ground floor, but have all the upstairs landing to do yet (trim and walls).
Matt was champ dealing with the obnoxiously tall wall on the stair landing…which was good because I am really not a fan of ladders. He managed to reach most of the wall just by having the ladder on our larger landing, and I came up next to him to point out spots it looked like he missed.* Now, there was plenty of room on the landing for the ladder, but me standing next to it meant I was standing pretty close to the edge and being the genius that I am, took a step back to get a better view.
I immediately felt myself unbalancing as my foot connects with nothingness and flailed wildly for support. My left hand grabbed at the railing and my right hand grabbed for the ladder.
The ladder that wasn’t actually solidly attached to anything.
The ladder Matt was sitting on.
I realized this was probably not a good idea a split second after I actually grabbed hold of the ladder. Oops.
Luckily, my foot shortly connected with the stair tread, about 6″ past where I expected to feel floor, and I was able to regain my balance without pulling the ladder down the stairs after me. Matt was looking a little horrified though, and I can’t say I blame him.
He made it out completely unscathed, but I managed to bang or twist or something my left wrist as I grabbed for the railing, so it was pretty sore. Luckily it’s my left wrist, but because I’m also prone to emphatic hand gestures and continuing to work on projects when I’m sore, I picked up a wrist brace to try and avoid twisting it further since certain movements do make it worse.
I really don’t think whatever I did to it is that bad. I’ve sprained both a toe and a foot in the past and at worst this is probably just a very mild sprain, but the best thing for a sprain is to avoid stressing it, so wrist brace it is.
In 90 degree weather. Fun times.
*Painting light gray over light cream is a beast since it’s almost impossible to tell if you’ve missed anything until it starts to dry.
Ooof… this one was badly timed…. although I suppose we currently have tons of room in our entryway.
Heck, we don’t even have the door taking up space!
Mail is one of those areas that tend to get out of hand for us pretty quickly. Usually every weekend we stare down at the small mountain of mail on our table, sigh resignedly, and sort through it. Most is of it is junk mail and just gets tossed, but we still pile it back up every week.
Part of my goal with the entryway is to (hopefully!) streamline our mail system. I’m thinking a wall sorter (his-hers-ours) and a trash can immediately on hand may help.
Our coat-closet-that-is-also-a-vestibule needs a little work too. We already picked up supplies to add some shelving and I’ve resigned myself to purging my coat collection.
That’s all going to have to wait until after everything’s painted though so no After photos for you today. I’m lame, I know.
Last week I tackled clothing + accessories, this week was supposed to be accessories. Oops… looks like I’m an over-achiever. Because we don’t have a “master” bathroom (only 1.5 baths in the whole house) I don’t really keep my jewelry and whatnot in there anyway, but I do have plenty of other stuff I can organize and purge.
You’ve probably heard that everything in your bathroom has an expiration date, but, like most people, don’t really care. If you’re trying to crack down on your household organization though, it’s time to care (added bonus is that you won’t have to worry about nasties growing in your toiletries).
The quick-n-dirty guide is as follows:
You haven’t used it in 12 months
It’s past the expiration date
It’s empty or nearly empty
You don’t need it any longer
Even if you’re still using it, my understanding of cosmetics is pretty much if it’s older than a year, it’s time to replace it. Not too hard, right? If you’re deposing of medication, try calling your pharmacy to find out what the disposal guidelines are. I sat on some Vicodin left over from my wisdom teeth surgery for years because I had no clue what to do with it. Another note about medication–if you can try and store it somewhere not the bathroom. Lower humidity and minimal temperature variance tend to be better for just about anything with an expiration date.
This is everything I did away with. Daaaang it feel good!
And I tidied up the bathroom closet because it was starting to get a little jumbled. I’m working on our hallway closet too, but that’s still a little bit of a dumping ground.
I’ve also finally developed a system for quick and easy bathroom cleaning. Seriously. You’ll still want to rotate in a deeper clean occasionally, but for for your average cleaning or oh shit my mother-in-law will be here in 5 minutes moments this is pretty sweet.
First I squirt some cleaner in the toilet bowl to give it time to sit and work its magic. Next I spray some windex on the mirror and an all-purpose cleaner on the sink, tub, and toilet (or any other surfaces you may have in the bathroom). Then, working from cleanest to dirtiest (ie mirror, sink, tub, toilet) I give everything a good wipe-down with a micro-fiber cloth. Toss that cloth in the laundry, scrub out the inside of the toilet bowl and BAM done. All in around 5 minutes. I have it ever so slightly easier because of the claw-foot tub (ie no tub surround), but even wiping down tiles or shower doors shouldn’t add a ton of extra effort.
I am such a sucker for design/organization challenges! Sure, I can organize on my own but I tend to get a little ADD and lose steam. But a daily or weekly goal that’s not set by me? Bizarrely enough this makes it easier.
Clearly my failure is at goal setting.
Anyways… I saw a big, shiny banner ad for The Inspired Room’s new book Make Room for What You Love and since I pretty much am every click-bait advertisers dream I went to check it out. I hoped it going to be like the KonMari trend without the talking to your shoes.
So I click on the ad for this book and it turns out they’re doing a promotional organizational challengey thing. SOLD. And by “sold” I mean “signed up for free.” Five weeks of organization goals sent to your inbox every week and since I’m in Spring Cleaning mode this works out perfectly for me!
Week One is the master bedroom. Specifically organizing clothing and accessories. This was very much on my to-do list anyway so the timing was perfect.
I am so ashamed to be showing this picture online… this is seriously what the top of our dressers have looked like for months.
My closet is actually fairing a little better thank god.
Step one is to take everything out of your drawers/closet. I decided to tackle my closet and dresser separately so I didn’t have complete clothing chaos and I started with the closet.
Ooof-duh as we say in Minnesota.
At this point I ever-so-slightly switched gears. Ya’ll have probably heard of capsule wardrobes I’m guessing? Where you pair done your clothing to around 30 pieces for each season? While that’s a little too minimal for me (and I am most definitely not a minimalist) I think the concept is solid and the guidelines to get you started can be used for just about anyone to sort out unworn items and pinpoint their style. Try not to get hung up on emotional attachments. Sure it was a gift, but is it any better for something to sit there unused rather than donating it? Or maybe it’s something you bought with high hopes but never worn. It happens to all of us, if it’s really not working, toss it even if it’s brand new.
The first things I put back in my closet were the things I wore constantly. We all have those things. After my favorites were hanging up I looked at their overall color selection and style feel. Everything I put back after this I tried to blend with that palette and style. This is the big reason I opted to do the closet first–it’s where my more stylish pieces are (my dressers is more undies, t-shirts, tanks, and PJs).
And the stuff I’m bidding a fond farewell to.
I did the same thing to my dresser, but the photos are less interesting and I am most definitely am not posting a photo of my knicker drawer. My shame does have some boundaries. Trust me though, the inside is way better.
And so is the top! My jewelry was the big killer–I never got a good system in place after we moved so the tops of both of dressers just became my personal dumping ground. The shelf brackets and hooks are from IKEA and I had a leftover board to use as the shelf. BAM storage top and bottom! I didn’t bother painting them because, while I have an idea in mind for the bedroom, I don’t know the exact colors yet. Same goes for the mirror–that was salvaged from our bathroom (don’t you recognize the brown?). I was trying it out in the space for balance. I think I have a better mirror for here though, I just need to find it….
I still have a ways to go–I want to get some drawer dividers for my dresser and completely revamp my closet system. Those are projects for another day, but purging all the clutter is the first step.
Happy Memorial Day weekend! While it’s really a time to honor our Nation’s deceased veterans, the focus tends to be a little more a little more on barbecues and booze (….and appliance sales…. go ‘merica*). The good new is that with a long weekend you can do both! Attend a Memorial service, spend some beautifying a loved one’s grave site…and celebrate with friends and family.
And if you like your celebrations on the boozy side, here are some cocktail recipes for you to try out.
Matt and I are both mad for Gin + Tonics… although I’m a little more open to variation than he is. Rosemary-gin-lemonade? Sounds deliciously summery.
If lemonade isn’t your jam, maybe try a different fruit with your g+t. I think the blackberry sounds especially amazing!
Our go-to Sangria recipe is, oddly enough, more winter-friendly, using oranges, lemons, and limes. Peaches just started appearing in stores here and I cannot wait to try this more seasonal recipe.
Mojitos are one of my favorite summery drinks, and I just planted some mint this year (if you do grow your own mint make sure you keep it in a container otherwise it could take over). You can also easily make mojitos by the pitcher.
Ever heard of a caipirinha? Most people I know haven’t, but they’re all missing out. It’s basically a Brazilian margarita–delicious, simple to make, and massively boozy (so be careful about how fast you go through them!)
Looking for more? I’m a little biased towards gin and rum so if you’re looking for something else Total Wine’s website has a recipe index by type of liquor.
And of course, please be responsible people.
*I feel like there really needs to be a be a proper sarcasm tag in HTML…
Matt likes to cook and I like to bake, but with limited space we haven’t amassed a huge collection of kitchen gadgets (and I’m actually not a fan of super-specific gadgets). I thought I’d share some of our favorite kitchen pieces though.
Ohhh yeah, the highlight of any wedding registry, right? If you don’t do any significant baking you probably don’t have to go this fancy, but for me it’s awesome (especially come my annual Christmas Cookie Bonanza). I haven’t bothered with any of the uber-fancy attachments, but I do really like the flex-edge beater. I also feel a little lame that I stuck with the classic stainless steel when there are so many color options out there, I just figured there were cheaper ways for me to change up my kitchen color scheme.
The first food processor I got Matt was a little mini-prep one. It was amazing for dicing onions and chopping up things for guacamole…. but then we discovered the joy of using a food processor to cut in butter so we upgraded to a bigger model. Matt makes scones every Saturday so he actually uses this one more than me!
I’m a big tea drinker, and Matt’s the only coffee drinker in the house so we don’t have need of a full coffee maker. An electric kettle though? It makes us both happy, and this one also looks so cute on our counter! Personally I prefer the ones where the kettle is independent of the heating element, but this particular one is a little heavy because it’s ceramic.
It looks so simple, but it’s so useful! Anytime I’m working with a stickier dough it help to cleanly remove it from my rolling surface and get cut-out cookies off without deformities. It also will do a great job scraping off cutting boards if you want to compost or just don’t have a garbage disposal.
Spatulas are pretty standard cooking gear, but these specific ones are my favorite. They’re one solid piece so you don’t get ickiness building up in between the blade and the handle. As I was putting this post together it looks like more places are making solid spatulas… plus some in fun colors!
What’s my secret to perfectly proportioned muffins and cupcakes? A cookie scoop. It’s super easy to get the batter from the bowl to the pan and a large (3 Tbsp) is the perfect size for a standard muffin tin.
I have a nicer set on our table, but for the counter I love these because they’re a combination shaker AND pour spout. Cool, huh?
You can find rolls are parchment paper most places, but the flat sheets are kind of amazing. No ripping, no curling, just easy-peasy. (Also, if you’re in a bind you can substitute a cut up paper bag for parchment… just never use wax paper as a sub).
You know how I said I didn’t really like task-specific gadgets? This one’s the exception. Sure, it’s not that hard to make rice on the stove top, but having to get it just right when you’ve got other stuff happening? It can be a little putzy and this guy takes all the guesswork out it (plus a lot come with a steamer so it’s not totally a single use gadget). It’s also no more work to clean up after than another pot you would have used to make rice anyway.
I have my music pretty solidly under control since I switched to download only for any new purchases and ripped everything else to computer several years ago. I’ve known some music snobs though who still prefer to buy CDs so they can control the settings when they rip them to their computer. If you’re among the music snobs you may still want to back everything up on an external drive and then rid yourself of the physical CDs. Seriously, you Do Not Need Them.
My personal favorite media player is iTunes (yup, I’m an Apple fan girl*). It’s free, and I really like their sorting options. Most people know iTunes, but not everyone knows the extent of their sorting options (heck, Matt still complains about their options and I don’t think he’s used iTunes in a decade). I also have a nice Bluetooth speaker so I don’t have to haul my computer around to listen to music around the house.
Movies + TV
DVDs are my main trouble spot. Most downloads are protected and will only play on whatever player the seller says (ex: iTunes, Amazon Video). I don’t particularly care for these restrictions so I continue to buy hard copy.* Unfortunately DVDs take up gobs of space.
It’s not even that bad, but shuffling through all the boxes was annoying, plus Matt started to complain about my collection so I decided to compact it because I’m a good wife. Matt’s a fan of the disc binders but I think they look kind of ugly. You can get nicer looked ones, but they’re pricey and the style still doesn’t fit what I’m looking for. I opted for inexpensive CD sleeves, labels, and a couple small bins.
Labels: $10/350, Mircrocenter
Sleeves: $2 /100, Microcenter
Bins: $6, Target
Please ignore my slightly dysfunctional curtains…
I have one bin for movies and one for TV (and a third for the extras/special features disc). I may add some dividers for genre/TV Show Name, but right now it’s just alphabetical. The movie labels have the movie title, rating, and run time, and the TV labels have the show name, season/disc number, and episode names. On some I could fit the episode names on the main label, but for others I had to print a second which I just stuck on the back.
It works for now, but I have dreams of creating a CD sized card catalog style drawer system some day. I’ve been looking for plain wooden CD drawers that I could cobble together, but no such luck so far. I may try and make the whole thing from scratch, but drawers are a little finicky.
If you have oodles of free time, you could also rip all your discs to a portable drive and plug that right into your computer. My current computer is USB only and my old laptop was very slow at ripping DVDs so that may be a super long-term project for me…
Oooh this one’s touchy for me. As I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE books. Not ebooks, real, physical books. I also tend to hoard despite the fact I live right across the street from a library. Basically, don’t use me as your role model for book storage (but if you do, no judgement here). I still browse through my collection occasionally and weed out things that no longer hold my interest…. when we moved I think I got rid of about 5 books…
Also, does anyone else wish amazon paired an ebook with any hard copy books you buy like they do for CDs? That would make travel delightful for me (which is like the only time I really use ebooks).
Last time I touched on cleaning up photo files on your computer, but what about preserving your photos? You take them for the memories right? So you probably want to go back through them now and again.
I’m not much of a scrapbooker, but I love having nice printed albums. You don’t have to print off your photos before hand, you can resize as necessary, and they’re so much slimmer than if you scrapbooked by hand. I tend to have individual albums for big trips/events, but I’ve also been toying with the idea of creating little “yearbooks” to use the random photos I take over the year. I saw the idea on Young House Love and I think it’s a great idea. I’ve been using Shutterfly for my printing so far because they always have coupons, but there are tons of options out there.
If you don’t want more stuff (more power to you!) albums might not me for you. You may still want to put together slideshows to make your digital photos a little more accessible. iPhoto has a slideshow option, but my dad (who is not a total Apple convert) just uses Powerpoint and it works for him. Bonus, if you hook your computer up to your TV you can show off your photos to a whole room of your captive family and friends.***
*Except for the iPhone… I have an irrational dislike of their charger. I hit charger Zen when I realized all my small devices took a micro USB. Why do you want to take that away from me Apple????
**Ok, Doctor Who I still buy off of iTunes so I can get instant gratification
*** I actually like seeing people’s photos, just pleaseplease spend at least a little tend editing them before showing them to other people…and I don’t even necessarily mean like Photoshop editing, just weed out the super blurry ones and the 20 bajilion duplicates, mmkay?
Yay, the dining room’s done!!! So now what? Nothing quite as dramatic unfortunately, but still important house things. I want to get the entry way and upstairs hallway painted (walls + trim), tackle some landscaping now that the weather’s getting nice,* give the micro-bath a mini makeover, and, of course, tackle some Spring Cleaning.
Dun dun DUUUN
I don’t know what it is about the change to spring that prompts the crazy cleaning sprees in everyone, I mean, wouldn’t winter make more sense because everyone’s holed up inside with nothing better to do anyway?** Maybe it’s because you’re finally able to open up windows and air everything out, and the outside seems all clean and fresh so people suddenly get the urge to keep up. Either way, I don’t think I’m the only one who goes on a spring cleaning rampage.
I kicked off my rampage with my computer.
I have a nasty habit of saving random crap all over my desktop. So periodically I delete the old stuff and move the important into properly organized folders. My two big computer clutterers are photos and design projects. Photos I break down by year and then any specific events/trips. I have specific folder for blog related images too. For design projects I have WIP folder with current projects arranged by title and sub folders for each for Design, Web, and Finals. Once the project is complete I have a Completed Projects folder arranged by year and then project. This is also a good time to back up any files on an external hard drive and remove any non-essential files from your main computer.
I love gmail, but the virtually unlimited storage means I get lazy about deleting, and seeing a full inbox kind of drives me a little crazy. First I look for mailing lists I’ve ended up on and unsubscribe from any that I don’t care about. I also use the search feature to hunt down specific senders so I can delete whole pages at a time. I also created a spam account awhile that I use for anything that needs an email but I know will never send me anything useful.***
Spring cleaning Facebook? Boo-yah! I don’t mean deleting everyone you haven’t physically talked to in the last year (although if that’s your thing, knock yourself out). I recently discovered the Acquaintances option and I have found Facebook zen. Have someone who posts what they ate for breakfast every single day? Have someone who shares every single page/article/video they find? Have someone who just”likes” a lot of things that that are not at all relevant to you, or gets tagged in a ton of stuff from people you don’t know? I’m fine with this stuff in moderation but it was getting overwhelming! BAM! Acquaintances to the rescue!. Facebook will weed out only the “important” stuff to show in your main feed, but you can always navigate to your acquaintances list if you feel like you’re missing out. It’s not 100% perfect, but it definitely tones the feed clutter waaaaay down.
If you’re logged in you can go right to https://www.facebook.com/friends/organize This will populate a list of suggestions for who to add to your acquaintances list and you can select in bulk. It’s not perfect though and won’t show everyone on your friends list.
If you want to add someone who doesn’t show up here, look at the menu to the left of your normal feed. Acquaintances should be right under the Friends heading.
If you click on it you’ll now see your Acquaintance feed and to right hand side you’ll see a search box with Add Friends to This List. Voila! Facebook Zen.
If you’re feeling really ambitious you can also tackle your Pinterest boards. I periodically weed through my Likes and decide if they’re worth assigning to a board, if they actually only link to spam, or if they’re still only in that limbo that is Likes.
Pinterest has basically taken the place of my Bookmarks, but if you’re not a crazy pinner that may be the area for you to clean up. Do the links even still work? Are they organized so you can find things?
For phones and tablets you can see if you have apps you never use that are worth removing. Just be careful if you don’t actually know what something is, and google to see if it’s an essential process.
There’s also the physical cleaning of your computer–vacuuming out keyboards, cleaning screens, dusting out towers. Depending on your monitor you’ll want to search for the best cleaning method so you don’t end up damaging it. Apple recommends dampening a lint free cloth with only water and wiping off the screen. Don’t spray liquids directly on your screen though.
Nothing too crazy right? A few key areas still make a big difference for me in how less cluttered my electronic life feels.
*Ok, so it’s been raining all week, but it’s “nice” in that I no longer need my winter coat
**Can you tell I’m so not a winter sports person? I prefer to hibernate under the couch.
***if you’re wedding planning, seriously do this and get a Google Voice number to give to sales people… I had to lie and tell a David’s Bridal sales person that we had eloped early just so she would stop calling me! (buying a different dress elsewhere wasn’t enough of clue apparently) Google Voice will automatically transfer calls to other lines, but you can block numbers with a single click. Also super useful when car shopping.
So we accomplished sod all on the house this weekend, instead we skipped town for Las Vegas. Neither Matt or I are big gamblers but we had friends who were going and it was 75 degrees there and 20 or lower here. Plus Matt had never been to Vegas and it’s definitely worth seeing.
We got in Thursday evening and headed back early Sunday morning. We came, we ate, we drank*, we gambled (a little and came out very slightly ahead), and we saw some drag queens (Frank Marino’s Divas at the Linq). The weather was beautiful which was good because we walked a lot. If you’ve never been to Vegas, everything looks deceptively close. Also, because of the wonky sidewalks, wait time for the monorail, and insane traffic on the strip, walking, monorail, or cab takes roughly the same amount of time…. although if you don’t walk you can avoid the random street mime. I don’t do mimes. I also don’t particularly care for clowns.
We stayed at the Flamingo which was A) centrally located B) A decent price and C) I kinda dug the fact that it was a little more old school Vegas. Most of our time was spent on the south end of the strip (Mandalay Bay, The Luxor, New York New York). On our last night there I hauled Matt through The Venetian which is GORGEOUS!
By staying at the Flamingo we got free tickets to the High Roller ferris wheel, which was actually pretty cool despite my serious discomfort with heights. Once you were in the bubble-room-thing it was silent and the ride was totally smooth so I was actually calm the entire time.
One of my friends hauled the girls off to The Luxor to visit the Pearl Factory where you can crack open an oyster and get a pearl for $15… and then of course they try and sell you on the setting. Do you have that one friend who’s just an instigator? Yeah, she was my Maid of Honor and one of our travel buddies. She had stopped here on a Vegas trip a few years ago brought the rest of us over to the place, must to the chagrin of our husbands.
I am probably a jewelry sales person’s worst nightmare–I don’t do sparkles (no diamonds for me) and I make most of my own jewelry. I thought it would be fun to try and do my own setting for a pearl… which didn’t go over too well with the sales lady, but what evs. I got a lovely silver pearl which was probably my best luck in Vegas since I thought those were the prettiest and I didn’t own any dark pearls. Then I had an idea for a double pearl setting… so I cracked open another one (this one was pink)! I’ll keep you posted on how my DIY pearl setting goes…. I think it will be amazing!
We also avoided all the time share pitches… one of the other couples wasn’t as lucky and suckered into it. They didn’t end up with a time share, but came back way later then planned and “felt incredibly violated.” Everyone kind of wanted to see how Matt would handle the sales pitch since he’s got the lawyer arguing skills down. Neither of really wanted to lose 4+ hours of our life during a 2 day vacation though.
It was a fun few days and I even stayed up way past my usual old lady bedtime… and then got home and passed out. Now it’s time to get back to work on the house!