Posts tagged ‘Organization’

January 24, 2015

One and Done

I’m hop-skipping around the different assignments from Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. Last weekend, I was able to strike off assignment #5, “Pick a Project” and assignment #9, “Hey! It’s Time to (Fill in the Blank)“, by completing one of the more inconsequential projects on my list, “Hang new drapes in master bedroom closet”.

If there is any reality of our home that I hide from the blog, it is my closet. If you look back through my posts on the master bedroom, you’ll notice that I never include an angle that shows my closet. The closet is the traditional 6 foot wide, 2 foot deep space with bifold doors. It’s nothing special to look at when the bifold doors are closed. Unfortunately, the reality is that we’re not allowed to close the doors.

Cats are interesting creatures…

If we close the closet doors, like most normal folks do, our beloved Jin would paw and meow at the door and otherwise cause an annoying ruckus, most often while we’re trying to sleep. So the doors were left open, giving us the wonderful view of my entire wardrobe, which, to everyone’s surprise, is not arranged by style, color, and sleeve-length. Sorry.

I hated it. I always felt like my garments were on display and like our bedroom was more chaotic than it should be. For years, I had the idea that I would add drapes to the closet and I was finally able to pick up my favorite Aina drapes on a recent trip to IKEA. Normally, I buy Cambria drapery hardware from Bed Bath and Beyond, but since I knew the hardware would be installed inside the closet and wouldn’t be seen, I decided I’d rather spend less money on more basic hardware. I opted to use IKEA’s Racka drapery rod with Syrlig curtain rings and clips. Using curtain rings, rather than the hidden tabs on the back of the Aina drapes, would allow for faster, smoother opening and closing of the drapes. In other words, I would be more likely to create a habit of closing the drapes when I’m done in my closet.

I was going to include a ‘Before’ photo of my closet with the doors wide open, but realized it exposed just a bit too much of my wardrobe to include on the blog. So you’re missing out on the nitty-gritty, but here’s a pretty picture instead. I present to you, a never-before-seen corner of the house on Penny Lane complete with the culprit that caused all of the aforementioned events.


 Have you completed a January Cure project? Tell me about it!

January 11, 2015

Punch List

The second assignment from Apartment Therapy’s January Cure is “Make a List of Projects“. The idea is to tour your home and take note of any areas requiring attention. Putting the items in list-form is meant to encourage focus on each item, rather than overwhelm.

My list consists mostly of prospective or incomplete projects. Interestingly, I found many projects that spanned multiple rooms, which should help me feel like the tasks are being completed faster. I typed up my list and colored like-items to help me focus. Thankfully, the list isn’t meant to be completed in January, but over the course of the year.

Here’s a peek at my list.

Punch List copy


Obviously, I’m a bit behind on my assignments. Since this it my first time attempting the Cure, and since it’s been an unusually busy January already, I’ll probably pick and choose which assignments I do based on their benefits. I really liked this assignment because it helped me very clearly identify the things I’ve been wanting to do around the house.

Has anyone else been participating in the Cure? Tell me about your experience so far in the comments.

January 6, 2015

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year, folks! I can’t believe it’s been a year already since my 2013 year-end review (just 6 posts ago!) I really don’t think I created enough blog content in order to warrant a review of 2014, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to break tradition and look forward instead of backward!

Since Christmas (read: those weeks that I spent ankle-deep in wrapping paper), I’ve been really itching to get organized. The house on Penny Lane may look nice and tidy, but it’s hiding a doozy of messes. I’ve done a few clean-outs here and there, but I decided that 2015 would be the year that I take on the January Cure from Apartment Therapy.

We’re already 3 assignments in, and I’m only behind on one of them. If I can keep up, I’ll be blogging about my process.

Let’s start with the first assignment: Flowers & Floors. this was a bit of an easy one for me and I’ll be honest why: Rob cleans the floors. He’ll thank me when he finds out that I didn’t make him do a thorough scrub down. I will give him credit though, since he did clean them just a day or so before this assignment. The main goal of the floor cleaning, I must say, is to get better acquainted with your home and what projects may need working on.

Fortunately/unfortunately, I can pretty much list of these projects from memory without even going into their respective rooms. I will be doing that, however, since that is assignment #2, Make a List of Projects. I’ll report back with my list in the next few days, but for now, I’ll leave you with the pretty picture I took after “completing” my first assignment.

May 29, 2012

Marked and Measured

In addition to cleaning out my spice cabinet in an attempt to streamline my cooking process, I also wanted to simplify the storage of my measuring utensils.

I was instantly inspired by this image I found on Pinterest.

image courtesy of

Knowing my new spice jars wouldn’t take my current, largely rounded measuring spoons, I took the opportunity to give my kitchen a mini-makeover and bought shallow, narrow, stainless steel spoons.

Once, I had my materials – cup hooks, blue painter’s tape, ruler, pencil, drill and drill bit – this project took me about 5 minutes, so this description will be just as quick. I eyeballed how high on the inside of my cabinet the spoons should hang. I placed one long piece of tape horizontally in this area and got to marking. I measured out 6 different points equally spaced 1 1/2″ apart. I also marked the drill bit with tape so I could make sure to not pre-drill all the way through the door. I then pre-drilled each hole, peeled the tape off, screwed in the cup hooks and placed my spoons.

These pictures make me so wish I had white cabinets. That, or a better way to take pictures of my cabinets. They aren’t the most impressive…

May 17, 2012


This last week of organization probably got me in a bit over my head. I decided to tackle the spice cabinet. Tired of digging through my variously sized plastic containers, knocking them out of the cabinet and onto the counter top – I started surfing Pinterest for storage ideas.

A few years back, I came this close to buying these spice jars from IKEA.

image courtesy of

Too bad they’re no longer available. I might have saved myself a few hours.

Then I found this inspiring image featuring Crate and Barrel jars.

image courtesy of

I found the jars pictured here, but couldn’t pull the trigger. I hate paying shipping when I don’t have to, and the fact that they’re on sale made me worry that they wouldn’t be around should I need more. After doing some googling, I found similar jars at Hobby Lobby. It was just my luck that they were having their 50% off glassware sale that week. As soon as I could, I made my way over to Hob-Lob and bought 25 of those suckers. Since the jars didn’t have a hanging mechanism attached, I also bought a 3 yard roll of 16 gauge jewelry wire. And to finish off the project, I bought Avery White Sticker Paper for the labels. Total spent? Just under $35.

I then got to washing.


And before I knew it, I had a bucket full.


The next step was snipping and bending the hanging mechanism.


Using needle-nose pliers, I cut each piece of wire to approximately 2.25″. I then used those same needle-nose pliers to bend the ends of the wire at a 90 degree angle the width of the pliers. Next, I attempted to find the midpoint of the wire and bend that at a 90 degree-ish angle. I was left with what looked like a miniature musical triangle.


I took my mini triangle and placed each leg under the spice jar hinge, then wrapped the legs around the hinge x25.


Unfortunately, the physics of my design wasn’t as simple as I expected it to be. But I’ll get to that later. Next was figuring out the grid on the inside of my cabinet. Oh, while we’re at it, let’s take a look at my spice cabinet before.


Ouch. What a mess. This post is only addressing the bottom shelf, but I’m working on future ideas for the rest of the cabinet. Ok, back to the cabinet door.

Putting together the grid was difficult and would be just as hard to explain, but I’ll do my best. First, I drew everything out on grid paper. My cabinet door is 13 inches wide and 28 inches tall, so I drew a rectangle 13 squares wide and 28 squares tall. Based on my measurements, I noted where the horizontal shelves were so I would be sure to avoid knocking the glass jars into them. I was then able to determine that I could fit 2 rows of 4 spice jars between each shelf with 1 inch between each jar.

Next, I translated those locations on to the door. First I found the middle of the door, marked 1/2 inch on either side of that middle point to find the interior edge location of both middle jars. Moving outward from those points, I marked 3/8 inch (half the width of the jar) over to find the center-line of the two middle columns of my spice jars, which would help determine where my nails would go. With my first row height in mind, I marked these locations with an X on top of painter’s tape.

From those two points, I moved outward again 1  3/4 inch to find the center-line of my two exterior columns, marking locations as I went. From that row, I measured up 1 inch plus 3 1/2 inches (the height of my spice jars) to find the second row. I repeated those steps for rows 3-6.

And yes, it was as complicated as it sounds. My cabinet door was full of X’s by the time I was finished. Some pieces of tape even had two X’s on them because I realized halfway through that I had mismeasured by 1/4 inch.


Fairly confident with my markings (and after several sessions of actually taping spice jars to my cabinet door to make sure it would close properly), I pulled out the hammer. 24 nails later, with painter’s tape removed and Rob having not heard a thing as he was engulfed in his Batman video game, my cabinet door was ready for some spice jar hanging. Only my jars weren’t.

As soon as I would go to close my cabinet door, the jars would roll all over the place, throwing disorganization into my beautifully laid out grid. By this time, it was 9pm, but with determination and the knowledge that Home Depot was open until 10pm, I hopped in the car to purchase some vinyl sticky dots. I was convinced these would solve all of my jumbled problems.


Well, the friction they provided certainly helped. Unfortunately, with enough force (that I’m known to use when cooking furiously), these sticky dots couldn’t hold up to physics. Darn physics. Where are Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci when you need ’em?

So I got to tweaking the jars a bit more, this time at the hanging mechanism. By simultaneously swinging and watching the rolling jars, I noticed that the triangle would rock back and forth at the nail point, so I tightened the top of the triangle to be a tighter angle. This helped a little bit more, but what finally got the jars to their most stable state was tightening the legs around the hinges to the point where they could no longer slide around the hinge. The jars still aren’t 100% fixed and I may need to do some tweaking in the future, but it’s at the point where it’s “fine for now”.

Especially considering I was anxious to get to the fun part, label making!

I referred back to my spice jar inspiration pictures for inspiration on designing the labels.

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

It seemed I preferred simple borders with handwritten names. Although I had to learn to write in a certain style for my profession and enjoy doing it, I’m far too much of a perfectionist to do it once and be happy with the outcome. Instead, I downloaded a free font file and put together the labels in Photoshop. I chose mustard for the accent color since it seemed appropriate for spice jars, plus I already have various mustard colored items sprinkled throughout my house.

I printed the labels onto the Avery sticker paper and cut them out using a ruler and a utility knife. I could then peel off the backing and stick the labels to the jars. A word of caution: I learned through this craft session that ink jet printer ink can run when exposed to water. Since I know I don’t always dry my hands thoroughly while cooking, I plan on finishing the labels with clear sealant for that exact purpose.


I got to filling the jars with their respective spices and finally…



In alphabetical order, of course…

I’ll be making more changes to this cabinet and hopefully it won’t take as many hours as this project did!

May 6, 2012

Toe Dipping into Organization

The House on Penny Lane may seem nice and tidy, but it does not run efficiently. Call it nesting or call it being at wits’ end, but I have been obsessed with finally getting this place organized.

The terrible thing about disorganization is that it trickles down and influences many areas of life. For example, my fridge is a mess. When my fridge is a mess, I don’t know what food I have stocked. When I don’t know what food I have stocked, it can spoil, wasting money. I might also double buy items I thought I was out of. Also wasting money. Both of which, I have done. It also wastes time. I waste time trying to remember what I have in stock, rummaging through the refrigerator thinking I had something when I didn’t. Can you tell I’m annoyed?

I have convinced myself that something needs to be done. Piles need to be corralled and contained. Meals need to be planned ahead. Unfortunately, it will be a long process. So let’s toe dip, shall we?

Thanks to Pinterest, I came across a couple blogs that have some great advice on cleaning and organization: Clean Mama and One Good Thing by Jillee. With these blogs added to my reader and a new meal planning app that also helps me keep stock of what’s in my refrigerator, I began my journey into organization.

Saturday, while garage sale hopping, I bought my first organization tool: a Pampered Chef birch storage rack for lids, cookie sheets, etc. For $0.75, I’d be a fool to say no.

My pot and pan storage had been organized recently, but it didn’t quite stick. Apparently, microwave racks don’t work well for lid storage.

Before: Under-Cooktop Storage

After: Under-Cooktop Storage

That was a nice 5-minute organization session. I contemplated ending on a high-note and wrapping up with a few hours worth of Disney movies, but decided I should push ahead.

Next up was the refrigerator. What better way to start this journey than attacking the appliance that wastes so much of our time and money?

Before: Refrigerator

After: Refrigerator

All items were pulled out and filtered through. I’m embarrassed by the amount of spoiled products hidden from view. I wiped down every surface with a water/mrs. meyers/white vinegar solution and products were reorganized in a thoughtful manner. The biggest change was obviously adding the plastic bins to the mix. My goal with these bins is to keep items from getting pushed towards the back and out of sight. They also make it easier for me to sift through items and find what I need. I also removed fruits and vegetables from their plastic produce bags, which seems to encourage their consumption.

Next on my agenda? Tackling meal planning. This should be interesting…