February 27, 2012

Half a Closet Reveal & Possible TMI

Happy Monday peeps!  I hope you all had as nice a weekend as we did.  We didn’t do a whole lot, but Nick got those shelves installed in our front closet, and I had a nice couple hours painting the closet while he did baby duty. 

Is that a stripe?

The only thing is, I still don’t have organizers.  I kept meaning to drag my butt to Target to get some, but then I took a look at our running budget for the month.

Umm…. We’re over budget for “household” stuff, so there’s a moratorium on  household stuff until Thursday.

I figure it doesn’t help anybody to bust budget (or bust budget even more) to run out and buy something for the sake of a blog post.  I mean, really.  Right?  I try to stick to a budget and I appreciate reading about my fellow bloggers who do the same, so I’m just being real with ya’.  Waiting a couple days until March is no problemo.

So you get a little sneak at the new and improved (and FUN, hello!) front closet, but the rest will come later this week. 

I think this closet will be a pretty snazzy place to hang up our guests’ coats, don’t you?

Hanging?  Those are SHELVES!

In the meantime, in the same budgeting thread, I’m thinking of dinners to make with what we have on hand.  Here’s the tentative meal plan:

  • Tonight:  Leftover stew (venison stew or beer-braised beef stew – I made a lot of way too much stew last week)
  • Tuesday:  Slow cooker “Saucy chicken”.  New recipe – I’ll keep you posted!
  • Wednesday:  Meatless spaghetti
  • Thursday: Baked chicken with couscous and steamed veg
  • Friday: Who the heck knows.  Let’s put “frozen pizza” here for now.

And how about a (sorta) random weird story?  This may or may not fall into the “too much information” category for you, so if you’re disappointed in its tameness, my apologies!

As I was evaluating the front closet, I was reminded of where I’ve gotten many of the current mismatched organizers in our house.  It sounds a little weird, but the answer is…..other people’s trash.  I’d like to think I’m sensationalizing a little bit by saying “trash”, because it was more like “other people’s barely used stuff that they would rather pile next to the dumpster than haul home with them from college.”  There IS a difference.  

My cutie pie - you can't have her.

Avery may or may not agree…

I was a “resident assistant” in college, and we stayed a week or so later than the residents at the end of each school year.  You would not believe the brand new and barely used stuff college kids throw away at the end of the year (or place next to the trash can because they’re too lazy to put it in the trash can!).  Since I was there a little later than everyone else, I got to see (and sometimes adopt) the perfectly good stuff that ended up tossed out.

Meet my thrifty college self in a rockin’ bed sheet toga (and my roommate, but she’s a big time lawyer now so I cropped her out, even though her toga looked pretty rockin’ too):

Toga! Toga!

Among the items I adopted were a couple of shoe racks, several over the door hooks, a Brita water pitcher, tons of various hangers, and office supplies.  

Anyway, as a result of my “found” organizers, our stuff has been somewhat/mostly organized, but in a mismatched kind of way.  Until now.  Finally, I’m not being a cheapskate (translation: observant and broke college kid) and I’m finally buying matching, classy organizers.

But not ‘til March Winking smile 


February 22, 2012

3-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Cobbler

I tried a new recipe yesterday and it was SO good, I have to share it with you all.


I might’ve had 3 servings *before* dinner…. Smile

I found it in a Taste of Home slow-cooker recipe booklet from the grocery store checkout line.  I don’t normally pick up stuff in the checkout line, but I flipped through this one and had to have it. 

3 Ingredient Slow-Cooker Cobbler


  • 9 oz yellow cake mix (I used Jiffy Golden Yellow)
  • 1 can pie filling (I used strawberry)
  • 1/4 Cup butter, melted
  • Nuts if you prefer

Pour the pie filling into your slow cooker.  Sprinkle the cake mix and nuts on top.  Drizzle the melted butter over that.  Cook on high for 3 hours or until golden brown.  Can serve with ice cream or whipped cream on top, but it’s really good by itself as well.  Makes 6 servings.



February 20, 2012

A President’s Day in My Life

Happy President’s Day, everyone!  If you have a holiday from work today, it’s particularly happy, am I right?

Yes, this is a finger puppet.

My day off isn’t going quite as planned.  I did get dinner in the crock pot this morning – hello chicken chili! (yep, totally found it on Pinterest) 

My big “day off” plan was to have a shopping afternoon with my favorite baby.  We were going to bust out the stroller, hit a couple stores around town and have a nice time out of the house.  I also planned to get a few things for my closet projects.  But a side effect of Avery’s antibiotics for her sinus infection is chaining us to the changing table. 

I’m a bit of a grump about the fact that my child was struggling with one affliction, and now that it’s clearing up, she’s got another issue as a direct result.  But marathon diaper changes and tendonitis from the Spray’n'Wash are still better than a miserable baby who can’t breathe through her nose. 

In other news:

It’s supposed to snow tomorrow.  I love it when it snows.  I also love a fabulously gray, cloudy sky in the wintertime. 

Avery’s learning that sucking on just her thumbs is easier than trying to get her whole hand in her mouth.  I can hardly believe she’s almost 4 months old!  Time FLIES.

We had some strange water-damage-looking spots appearing over our new (a year old) shower.  Turns out it was mildew and it cleans right off with 409 and a rag.  Sooo glad it was an easy fix.

With those random thoughts thrown out to my most favorite peanut-gallery, I think I just heard the sound of an imminent diaper change.



February 17, 2012

Organizing the Pantry Hoard

Organized Pantry

Hello, Hello!  I’m in a fabulous mood today because the closets around this little house of ours are looking mighty fine lately.  Have you seen the linen closet?  The bins and the labels and the command hooks….make me giddy!  Ok, no they don’t, but I do enjoy opening those closet doors a lot more these days.

And now, finally, I’m done with getting the pantry organized too!

We moved into this house in 2009 (wow, pathetic – I just had to check with Nick on that year) and stuff made its way into various closets here and there, was arranged in some semblance of functionality, and then was left to its own devices for three years.

Since our biggest “closet” in the house (pre-master bathroom renovation) was our pantry, you can imagine how much stuff found its way in there.  Of course it held all the usual suspects of canned goods, small kitchen appliances, and dishware….and then it became décor central as well.   And then Nick’s beer-making supplies moved into the pantry…and various piles of coupons, calendars, a yard stick (crucial, by the way – I must have a yardstick nearby), some wreaths, some silk florals, a couple random baskets I couldn’t figure out what to do with…

Yeesh.  The top shelf was a particular disaster.

Pantry Before

But the other shelves weren’t exactly a picture of beauty either.

Pantry Before 2

The grocery sacks thrown here and there are nice, right?  Grocery sacks aren’t even stored in the pantry.  That must’ve been a particularly lazy moment of mine.

Pantry Before 3

Pantry Before 4

Pantry Before 5

It took me a couple organization attempts to get it just right.  I pulled a chair in there and camped out for a couple hours one evening (I’m such a wild child), staring at the piles, moving stuff around and wondering how to make the space work better for us.  Then I bought a few new baskets and organizers, moved several things  out and several in, and suddenly it makes a whole heckuva lot more sense in there.

Oh yeah, and I painted. <GRIN>  I even painted the cork board.

Valspar Granite Dust paint color in pantry

A painted pantry might be a little overkill, but hey! It looks GOOD.  And all those canned goods are secretly thanking me (Brave Little Toaster-style!) for classing up the joint.  I went with Valspar’s “Granite Dust”, which is a pale gray, and I used semi-gloss paint.  Hopefully gray walls will hide any can scuffs that might show up.

Pantry After 1

So here was the plan of attack:

I put “occasional use” items on the top shelf.  This includes our roasting pan, electric skillet, beer-making supplies, cake tote, platters, etc.


Tension rods for platter organization

Spring tension rods provide perfect supports for storing platters and trays vertically. (Found that idea on Pinterest!) 

The next shelf down from the top is our “place settings” shelf.  We have two sets of fine china – one of which is absolutely enormous.  The less used pieces in that huge set are stored on this shelf along with our “fancy” cutlery and placemats.  I may take the china out of the quilted storage bags so we will see it and use it more often, but I haven’t decided yet.  I also put our liquor on this shelf, since it doesn’t get used much.  Liquor is somewhat of an “entertainment” item anyway, right?  


As I was trying to figure out the best way to store placemats, I came up with this:

Rolled placemats in wine rack

Store placemats rolled

Roll the placemat set and store it in a wine rack. It worked great, but I didn’t want them sitting out in the dining room, and the wine rack I have is too big for the pantry.

But rolling the placemats still seemed to be a better option than laying them flat, so I stuck with that idea for now. 



Next shelf down is our canned goods, dry goods and snacks. 

Canned goods

Dry goods

Below that is the “baking and breakfast” shelf. It holds all the bulk baking supplies, mixes, tea, coffee, extra coffee filters, and cereal.

Baking mixes and bulk

I may or may not have accidentally knocked that baking soda box into my paint tray…

Canisters for tea and splenda


The bottom shelf holds the décor, since our everyday décor still lives in the pantry.  Baskets will help keep the decor organized, and a Command hook is now keeping that extra grapevine wreath in its place.  (Wreaths never know their place, do they? This one had been in the front hall closet.)

Command hook wreath storage

And there’s the yardstick.  You’ll never know how handy one of these is until it’s within easy reach on a daily basis.


And here’s the before and after:

Organized Pantry Before and After

Meanwhile, Avery’s a sick baby. 

The doc thinks she has a sinus infection.  We had a particularly tough evening last night when she woke up screaming with a plugged nose and then whimpered herself back to sleep on her daddy’s shoulder.  We’re doing the saline thing with the bulb syringe, plus infant Tylenol, and later today I need to pick up some antibiotics for her.

Hopefully she’s feeling better soon. It makes my heart hurt to see her uncomfortable. =(

This weekend I hope to tackle the next closet – the front hall closet.  If you’re still in a closet mood, stay tuned. :)


February 13, 2012

I Heart Pinterest

Heya! How’s it going in blogland today?  My closets are still *under construction*, but I’m feeling some Pinterest love, so we’re going there today.


It took me for-eva to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon.  Really.  Sometimes I see people getting all excited about something and I just dig my heels in and decide I’m NOT going to do that.  I guess it’s the wild stubborn streak that comes from growing up with the coyotes and antelope out on the windy prairie. 

Or in the city next to the windy prairie. Open-mouthed smile  One of the two…?

True story:  When I was in elementary school, the wind was occasionally so strong that we’d have indoor recess to keep us kiddos from being picked up and blown over.

Now back to Pinterest…

Okay, so here’s a super-brief description of Pinterest for anyone who is still exercising their right to Pinterest-stubbornness:

Pinterest is a webpage full of photos.  You browse through them, "pinning” your own favorites to your personal “boards” which are categorized however you want.  For instance, I have boards called “Recipes to Try”, “Baby Ideas”, “Kid Ideas”, “For the Home”, “Tips & Tricks” etc.


Camera tips, cleaning tips, recipes for homemade cleaners, image transfer tutorials….



Uh, S’mores Pie?  Rhubarb lemonade? Crockpot tapioca pudding? 



Adorable baby photo ideas, baby clothing patterns, nursery ideas, how to make a diaper cake….


Each pin is a link to the original source – the recipe, the blog post about a project, whatever.  So you can pin a photo and go back later to read more about it.

It’s kind of like crack for project junkies.  The great ideas are endless.

Here are a few of my favorite pins (and my little notes about them) so you can see the kinds of treasures to be had out there:






How about those cookie dough brownies!?  Are you drooling on your keyboard?  DANGER!  If When I make those, the Hubs will have to get in there pronto because I WILL polish off the whole batch.

See what I mean about the coolio stuff you can find?  Those pins are only a few of the 344 pins I’ve accumulated so far (did I mention I took forever to check out Pinterest?  That’s probably on the low end of most people’s pinning.) 

Oh yeah, then there’s that part about pinning photos TO Pinterest and making them part of the Pinterest universe for other people to find.  Like the DIY art idea above – I found that on Better Homes & Gardens one day and added it to Pinterest with the “Pin it” button in my navigation bar.



Not sure what I’m talking about?  Go check out Pinterest and it’ll become crystal clear– you’ll be glad you did.

I spend way too much time on Pinterest.  If you want to follow me and see all the cool stuff I manage to find ALL.THE.TIME – feel free to click that button in the sidebar and join me in my distraction.



P.S.  Although it would be legend-waitforit-DARY if Pinterest wanted to pay me to promote their site, alas they do not.  I just LIKE it Smile

The End.

February 10, 2012

Thinking Outside the Music Box

Hey there friends!  I’m up-to-my-eyeballs in closet reorganization (now that the linen closet is done, the pantry is next to be revealed), but in the meantime, here’s a peek at one of the quick changes I’m making in our master closet.

Dated jewelry box

This jewelry box was a garage sale find like….20+ years ago.  No, no, not by me – my mom found it and it was in her closet forever.  When she didn’t want it anymore, I figured I could use it.  It does have a lot of drawers, and I  like having options for where and how to store my hoard of jewelry.  It also happens to be a music box.  It’s positively quaint!

But….let’s admit it.  The jewelry box leaves a little to be desired.  That dated old walnut stain with the “antiqued brass” pull hardware….just doesn’t turn my crank.

It also doesn’t exactly bling up our master closet, either.

(Except our master closet doesn’t look like this anymore…it’s thoroughly entrenched in the “before it gets better, it must get worse” category at the moment.)

This closet is so off-balance...

Spray paint to the rescue!

I spent $ZERO on this project – love that!  I had grey spray primer, flat white spray paint (why I bought flat paint I don’t know – gah) and some spray gloss.  I also had some leftover “oil rubbed bronze” spray paint for the hardware. 

Hardware painting trick

I got a little creative rigging up a system to paint the hardware.  I hot glued the hardware to cardboard and hung the cardboard from the basement ceiling.  Fancy, I know.  Especially the purple curling ribbon.

Hardware painting idea

And here’s the finished product!

Refinished jewelry box

The lighter color highlights the uneven drawers a little more, but then this wasn’t a high quality piece to begin with. 

Can’t wait to see it in my “new,” organized master closet one of these days…

One more time – because I love a before and after:

Dated jewelry box before

Dated jewelry box after


Linked up to Thrifty Décor Chick’s Before & After Party!

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