A Little Kitchen Organization

With Thanksgiving over and Christmas just around the corner, I know a bit of baking is on my to-do list, and I bet it’s on yours, too. So I thought I’d share a recent, upgrade to my spice drawers.

In the last house, I had risers in the cupboard and carefully placed my spices alphabetically row upon row. It was with great care and trepidition that I’d carefully reach for a jar and hope not to knock over half-a-dozen of my carefully arranged containers. Here, in my huge kitchen, with 17–yes, count them 17– drawers, I’ve arranged my spices in drawers, on their sides, easy to find with no danger of toppling in sight.

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Is this bliss? Sort of, but you know there’s always room for improvement. All the jars are different sizes, and they get all wonky. Wouldn’t it be great if they were the same size instead of a hodge-podge? It would be so neat and tidy, and they wouldn’t use up the better part of two drawers.

Well, that little jar I was using for some of our dried basil gave me a great idea. A friend’s daughter had handed out little jars of coffee and tea as a wedding favor. We had been blessed with some of the leftovers, and I’d used one of these jars to hold some herbs. These would be great for my spice drawer. Even better, when I asked where my friend had bought them, she was happy to give me 20 more.

I do like organization and get a little picky about things–just ask my family–so I started with my tried and true alphabetical plan.

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This ended up much too hard to navigate: too many sizes, too many shapes, too chaotic. So I compromised by separating the jars by size and then alphabetically.

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I’m rather pleased. Cost Plus World Market offers spices in little cellophane bags at reasonable prices, so I can restock my jars economically. PCC Markets are a local grocer that allows you to bring in jars and refill them, so if I’m really organized, I may try that.

I started labeling the lids with a wine glass writer but worried they would smudge if grabbed with a wet hand, so I switched to a chalk marker. I guess I’ll wait and see which one holds up the best. As I make my way through the larger containers, I’ll continue to replace them with little hex jars that are readily available on Amazon.

Spices lose their potency over time, so the little jars are another way to up the flavor in my cooking and keep me organized.

So for zero dollars, and just a little time and energy, I was able to free up a drawer and make another one oh-so much neater.

I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I feel the urge to organize. Just a little effort can have a big pay-off.

Any organization tips to share?

 

 

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Taking It Up a Notch

For years my craft organization has been hit-and-miss. I’d buy some shoes and notice that the box looked pretty cute and put it to use.

While that works fairly well, it’s not a perfect system. Boxes come in all different sizes; nothing matches; it can end up quite a jumble.

But the other day, I was doing a little “window shopping” on Joss & Main—dangerous, I know—and came across some lovely storage options. Artsy with a hit of color; I was smitten.

Maybe I’ll organize yarn in boxes in baskets. There are so many options.

I did hijack one for the French doors by the master bedroom. Sometimes Cocoa can’t be bothered to use the stairs and squeezes under the rails. This is her first stop, and it can take a bit of persuading to get her to the other doors.

When you have a dirty dog, a towel to wipe her off is so helpful.

Keeping dirt off the floors and looking chic—sounds like a win-win to me.

Any organizing tips you’d like to share?

Let’s Get Organized

It all started with a pair of shoes. Remember when I went away for the weekend, and the MR left for work, and Baby Girl had to get herself off to school? The dogs had all of 15 minutes to behave. But will dogs behave? No.

Chewed Up Shoes

Cocoa chewed up my slippers and ate my shoes. That’s when I out-smarted her by putting my shoes in boxes and back in the built-in shelves.

Open Doorway

 

Over time, I gathered a few more boxes, and before you know it, I didn’t remember I had any of those shoes. Cocoa was no longer chewing them up, but I wasn’t wearing them either.

Flash forward to this spring when I picked up some shoe bins at Walmart, and some labels online. My shoes held a fashion show, I took pictures, printed off labels, and we were good to go. Unfortunately, the bins stuck out too far, and I couldn’t see the pictures, and I didn’t like the way they looked. So I just up and moved them to the other closet.

Shoes

I liked my new shoe boxes so well, that I went back for a few more. They were out of stock, but Fred Meyer had similar boxes and some larger “boot” boxes, as well.

Boots

These are a little bigger than I wanted, so I haven’t added the labels just yet. The shelves are a bit high, and we didn’t have anything on them before, so maybe it’s just fine.

Now I had the organizing bug, and when I was looking through the list of new online books at my library, I came across The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This book sounded intriguing, so immediately, I downloaded it. I’ve read more than my share of organizing/tidying books and wondered if this could be as dynamic as the title proclaimed.

Kondo talks about how reorganizing your home causes dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. I laughed when I read “Tidy a little a day, you’ll be tidying forever”. I’ve tried that. My cupboards are full, I’m carrying the weight of a lot of junk. Tidying a little every day doesn’t help me get ahead.

Her basic premise is to keep only what you love, what brings you joy, and then put it away. She suggested starting with clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and lastly mementos. I’m still part way through my clothes. You’ll notice I didn’t say the MR’s clothes or Baby Girl’s clothes.

“To quietly work away at disposing of your own excess is actually the best way of dealing with a family that doesn’t tidy.”

Instead of backwards hangars, or asking yourself if you’ve worn something lately, she advises getting rid of anything that doesn’t touch your heart. So I’m guessing that those clothes that make you feel old, fat, or frumpy should go. I’ve donated three trash bags full already, and my closet is so empty.

walk-through closet 2

 

I was able to put all my jackets and tops on one row and bring in my pants and skirts.

One of Kondo’s epiphanies is that people are storing their clothes wrong. By storing them on their sides (usually in drawers), they can breathe, get less wrinkled, and are easier to access. I have found a favorite t-shirt at the bottom of a stack looking squished and lifeless. tshirts tanks and shorts

Paring down my number of sweatshirts, I was able to bring in my t-shirts and shorts, and have easy access to everything.

Another unusual idea was rolling your socks like sushi rather than rolling or folding them. I know I said I wasn’t messing with the MR’s stuff, but I used to have agnst about stuffing all the clean socks in one tiny drawer. Now his socks are organized by color and size, and I always have room for a few more.

Socks from above

 

He isn’t 100% won over on this change. But sometimes you have to appease your crazy wife.

Remember my new shoe bins? Look at that closet now.

Empty closet

I got rid of the wrap dress that looked so chic but wouldn’t wrap around me. Sometimes you make a mistake and just have to let it go.

You may have noticed, I’ve taken Kondo’s advice to arrange your clothes so that they rise to the right, from heavy to light, both in weight and color. It’s sounds a little hokey to me, but why not give it a try? I’ve been organizing by color for years.

All this purging has eliminated the need to store out of season clothes. When I packed things up, often I’d forget to unpack them—especially when we had a particularly cool rainy spring and summer.

As I said before, I haven’t finished all my clothes. I still need to take a look at my jeans, my workout gear, scarves, jewelry and sweaters. Sweaters will definitely be a challenge. Kondo says to dump everything out on the floor and then pick it up, touch it, and you’ll know if you want to keep it.

“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”

I’m a little fearful of tackling the books; we have a lot; and I don’t want to dump them all on the floor. Perhaps that’s why I like that she calls tidying a special occasion. Something you should dress for and not to be performed every day.

“I can think of no greater happiness in life than to be surrounded only by the things I love.”

I think I’d add the people I love, too. Either way, I’m working on it.

Any tidying advice you’d like to share? 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind Closed Doors

On the face of it, we have these nice white cabinets. Who cares if they’re a little messy behind closed doors?

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Well, it’s not a big deal until a repairman and your husband have to climb under the sink over and over again when you’re hot water is on the fritz and you just smile and nod and pretend messy cabinets are no big deal, or when you’re looking for the scraper or the SOS pads that you set on the edge of the box of trash bags and they’ve disappeared in the void once more. This is all hypothetical, right? Or is it?

Under sink mess

First things first, I cleared it all out and gave the bottom of the cupboard a good scrub. Who knew we had a tube of tennis balls under the sink? Bogart loves to play and winds up losing them now and then. It can be quite handy if you actually remember you have them right there in the kitchen rather than a case all the way down in the wine cellar.

Clean Slate

 

I recycled the bottles destined for a craft project that never came about, tossed some old sponges, and finished off the dregs of an all-purpose cleaner with a quick toilet swish. Then it was time to put my mad building skills to the test. When I was out shopping with the girls last week, Sweet Miss stopped at the Container Store to look at office storage supplies, and I checked out the under sink organizers. This looked like it’d do the trick.

Organizer

 

So I put my ability to follow directions to the test, and viola–there it is.Organized Up Close 2

 

I tried to group like items and separate poisons from plant food and dog toys. Now I can easily find my cleaning gloves and know just how many half bottles of dish soap are lurking under the sink.

There’s something to be said for the saying:

A place for everything, and everything in its place.

Perhaps now it’s time to tidy the desk area–again.

What little project did you tackle over the weekend?

The Handyman is Back

For years, summer has meant the MR’s folks coming for a visit. Way back when, they used to arrive in late-June to sell fireworks and then stick around until early September when they finished selling copper art and jewelry at the King County fair.

Now that they’re getting older, they’ve cut back on the number of shows they do, but they still manage a few weeks in Washington each year.

When company comes, some people take them to the Space Needle and a tour of downtown, or Mount Rainier and Snoqualmie Falls. Well, MeeMee and Papa lived in the Seattle area for years, so instead of showing them a good time, we just put them to work.

Remember my genie in a bottle handyman? (Check it out here.) He’s back in full force, and boy do I have a list of things for him to do.

That cute red shelf that used to hang in Sweet Miss’ room at the old house has found a home over the ironing board.

Red Shelf

Now, I have the perfect place for my spray starch and water bottle, and it is no longer on the floor just waiting to be hung.

When I showed Papa Larry the hooks I bought at Ikea and told him my plan, He said they were too nice for the garage and bought a rail system with hooks for all the random dining chairs and lawn chairs that were scattered around the floor.

Hanging Chairs

We’ve never had so much room in the garage. (OK, so we did just bring back the cradle the MR’s grandpa made for the girls before they were born. It was at his aunt and uncle’s house and will now find its home in the upstairs storage room, but the floor really is quite clean at the moment.)

And the pictures we took down in the guest room when the painters came back in February–a year ago–they finally found their way back up on the walls. Suddenly, that room looks a lot more warm and welcoming.

Pictures

A little something personal, loosely referred to as art, can brighten up a space and make it feel like home.

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Some jobs get done before I even ask. The barbecue broke loose last winter and banged up the deck railing. He had the hand rail sanded and painted in a jiffy. And when Baby Girl went to the store last week, she found Papa lying on the ground in the driveway sharpening the mower blades.

I don’t want to say the MR would never have gotten these things done, it’s just that he has his own to-do list. When you’re recoating the blacktop, mowing the lawn, weedeating the orchard, barbecuing burgers, driving to a family reunion, going to church, and watching World Cup, sometimes you don’t have time for your wife’s little projects.

Thanks Papa for all your help. While us girls are headed out for pedicures, we have some planters that need sanding and painting if you’re up for it.

Can’t say I don’t know how to show a fella a good time.

What’s on the honey-do list at your house?

 

 

 

Bling Baby Revisited

My jewelry is taking over the closet.

Last year, you may remember, I made this jewelry organizer and thought all my problems were solved, but I have a lot of necklaces and bracelets, and I want them all to be neat and tidy. Instead they just wind up in a jumble.

Jewelry in the closet 2

So I decided it was time to take another look at the jewelry box I’d picked up at the thrift store ages ago. Sure it was ugly and a little smelly, but with a new coat of paint and new lining it would be perfect.

Short and Squat

It sounds so reasonable. I thought shiny silver spray paint would be oh so sleek–awful. OK, maybe the gray chalk paint I used on the hope chest would do the trick–much better.

That still left the lining. I had leftover silky green material that would match the jewelry organizer. After I ripped out the drawer linings, it was just a matter of making templates, cutting up cardboard and covering them with the fabric using spray adhesive. Note: if you want your drawers to close, make sure you make the templates a touch shorter than you think.

After the drawers, I was left with the drawer pulls. The old ones were U-G-L-Y. I bought new ones on Amazon that were way too big. I had some beads from an old necklace of my grandma’s. They were certainly cute and sparkly, but how was I going to attach them to the drawers? I bought the smallest nuts and bolts I could find at the hardware store–still way too big. Maybe I needed to go a different direction? In the end, I used hot glue and straight pins. If they wind up needing constant fixes, I’ll have to come up with a more permanent solution.

So the drawers were done, the outside was painted, that just left the inside area where necklaces hang. After recovering the drawers, I knew the lining wouldn’t come out in one piece. And I had a pretty good idea that the boxes and ring holders at the bottom would look less than professional if I tried to recover them. I had fabric dye and thought maybe dabbing that on would do the trick–awful.

Finally, Sweet Miss and I were shopping last week and I picked up some spray fabric paint. I’d used a similar product to spray my mother-in-law’s Chinese lanterns when we visited last winter (don’t worry she asked me to), and those had turned out nicely. With a little taping off and a little spritzing outside on a sunny day, I finally ended up with something I was happy with.

Navy dye up close

It still has its flaws–we’ll say they add personality–but it’s a whole lot better than where I started.

Jewelry Box

And now, I have a lot more room to keep my jewelry organized. Maybe that means I need more jewelry–are you listening MR?

Tidied Up 2

Yes, those are my shoes next to the jewelry box. Cocoa has chewed up way to many of my favorite pairs.

 

How do you keep your closets and jewelry organized? Any thrift store makeovers to share?

Check out Bling Baby to learn how to make your own jewelry organizer, or From Country to Chic to see how I updated my hope chest with a little chalk paint. If you’re into thrift stores, see some of our favorite finds at Getting Thrifty and Getting Thrifty–Part Two (notice how creative I can get with those titles.)

 

 

 

It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask

A couple months ago, I was chatting with a fellow who works at the local hardware store about the weather as I was heading to my car. That’s when I decided that it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Do you carry peg board? I said innocently, although I’d already scoured the aisles of his store. He told me that they didn’t sell the board, but they did have the pegs. They’re not much good without the board, I quipped back. That’s when he told me to wait a minute, he could help me out.

Back inside, he showed up at the cash register with a large sheet of peg board. It was a little worse for wear, but for five bucks I’d take it. Oh, and while I was at it I picked up a few of those pegs, too.

I’ve been thinking it’s time to organize the sewing room. I can pretend that it’s always neat and tidy like when I made this big reveal.

Lots of storage, so I can attempt to stay organized.

But sometimes I get all creative and random and my supplies just seem to explode. I blamed it on all the plants we were trying to overwinter in there, but that’s just silly. They’ve been gone for months, and it’s still a jumbled mess.

messy craft room2

It was time to add something besides book art, and peg board seemed like a great idea.

Asking a simple question had been so effective before, I decided to try it again. So I asked the MR if we had a stud finder. Sure enough, we did, and he gave me a little lesson on how to use it. I figured this was definitely a two-man/woman job, so I was waiting for an afternoon when Baby Girl had some free time, but before I knew it, the MR had my peg board up on the wall centered between the windows. It was perfect–almost.

You see the MR didn’t realize the board was primed and painted on one side and just press board on the other. I figured it would be fine and started organizing. An old curtain rod would come in handy for holding reals of ribbon.

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But then every time I saw it, I wished the painted side was out. It seemed so silly to waste time on it, but it was just bugging me. So with some help from Baby Girl, we did a little switcheroo. In order to be able to use all the same holes to fasten it to the wall, we flipped the board vertically rather than horizontally.

old side

Unfortunately, the painted side looked a little old and yellowed. We have a ton of sample paints from when we were trying to decide on what color to paint the great room, so I figured that could be remedied really quick. One coat of Benjamin Moore’s Simply White had the peg board looking bright and fresh.

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Fresh white

I added some hooks, drilled holes in cups, hung them up, and thought wow it’s going be great. But it just wasn’t. Perhaps that’s why this post has been languishing for months, and I never quite got around to taking a picture of a bunch of ho-hum, white cups hanging on a peg board.

Then last week, we were invaded by the floor guys. What’s a body to do when it’s rainy and yucky outside and your stuck in the garage with two dogs? Retreat to the sewing room, crank up the space heater, and get busy.

My plan was to recover a few pillows for the couch and finish up some other projects, but my sewing machine conked out on me. With it back in the shop, I started organizing. I added a little decorative washi tape to the cups and trimmed out the peg board, added bows to buckets, and hung some party favor boxes from Target. Suddenly my little peg board looked oh-s0-fab.

New Decorated Peg Board

With projects in bags lining the edge, I have a visual reminder of what to do next. I covered the clipboard with some scrapbook paper using spray-mount adhesive. To finish off my not-so-perfect job, I added a little more of the washi tape. Now I have an actual list of ideas and things I want to do; I was surprised by the number of half-way done projects I unearthed in my organization efforts.

I said goodbye to the thick, wool rug that served as a magnet for pins, threads, and bits of fabric and took a hard look at the shelving unit. I have a lot of space that could be better used.

Shelving Unit

It needs a lot of work, but for now, I added some labels to boxes just to help me remember what I’ve got going on. Lately, I’ve picked up some really beautiful yarn without a definite project in mind. Taking a picture with my phone and displaying them on the ends of boxes helps me see my options.

labeled boxes

I have big plans for the sewing room. Graphic, black-and-white, peel-and-stick floor tiles might be just the thing for this space. A little paint, some curtains at the windows, and suddenly, my retreat could look quite lovely, vibrant, fun, funky, and creative. It’s getting there–don’t you worry.

Any organizing and beautifying going on at your house? What do you do when your trapped in a small space with two large-ish dogs?