Weekly Challenge: Kitchen Organization

This week’s challenge from A bowl full of lemons is to organize the kitchen. Read her post here. You can enter a tupperware giveaway too! Check it out!I’ve got a loooot of work to do on this because I missed out on the 21 Day Challenge. Fortunately, my tupperware cabinet and spice cabinet are in tip top shape already. However, the pantry will take a bit longer. Here’s how I’m hoping my week works out.

Sunday – homework (haha… it has to happen sometime!)
Monday – Empty out pantry, wipe down & finish papering the shelves
Tuesday – Purge, label, and organize pantry
Wednesday – Tackle under the sink (SCARY!)
Thursday – Organizing kitchen drawers & half the upper cabinets
Friday – Organizing the lower cabinets

Hopefully I’ll be able to do all this this week. It’s been a long time coming. I do have midterms this week, so we’ll see how I get along!

Will you be joining me in the challenge this week? Where could your kitchen use some organization?

How to revive an antique trunk

So I promised you a post about my antique trunk that is currently serving as my wrapping paper station.
Back in September of 2009, I went estate sale shopping with my mom for some basic furniture for my first apartment! (You know we all need to start out that way!) I was fortunate to receive lots of hand-me-down furniture, but I didn’t really have any place to sit in my apartment. So off we went… and I found a couch, a swivel chair, and a loveseat. I had had my heart set on a trunk as a coffee table so that it could have double functionality by providing storage for me. As we were checking out at the estate sale, I saw it….. a trunk…. a HUGE trunk that just needed a little love. For about $37.50 it was mine….ALL MINE!!! And I had huge plans for it.When I got it back to my parents’ house (I hadn’t moved out yet), I cleaned it up and set to work on making that baby sing!

Here’s the plain ol’ brown before. This picture is actually it upside down because it was pre-blogging days where I try to take pictures of everything! But this is what the trunk looked like all over.

I made a quick trip to the used bookstore around the corner to see if they had any old maps. I found a beautiful 1970’s map of the Grand Canyon. It was perfect! But it wasn’t enough to cover this behemoth. So I started poking around the National Geographic magazines from the 1940’s and 1950’s. In the front and back few pages, I found old travel ads that were PERFECT! So I bought 8 or 9 of them along with the maps, and then headed to Barnes and Noble to see if they had any map calendars. They did! I bought 2 mini calendars – Old World Paris and Old World Maps.

The next few days consisted of cutting, arranging, and mod-podging all of the beautiful pictures into place. I had to use an exact-o knife to get the pictures to fit around the metal latches perfectly. It took me several hours to finish this project, but it was SO WORTH IT!

Here are a few pictures of the finished trunk:



Other side:


And a few details of some of my favorite aspects:

And my absolute favorite: “SURPRISE awaits you in South Africa!” (I wonder why….)

I’m linking up with:

You light up my world (part 2)

First of all, can I just say that I love estate and garage sales? They’re so much fun!I was able to find some new floor lamps to replace our outdated 80’s lamps today! I was just leaving a farmhouse estate sale when I saw a sign for a moving sale. So I wandered down the unknown country road, and I’m so glad I did! They lady was so sweet and had great prices on everything! She had 3 floor lamps, and I scooped up 2 of them for $4 a pop!

Here’s the other side of the living room before:

And here it is after:

There’s definitely a lot more light in the room now. And the best part about these lamps is they are the kind with 3 different brightness levels. All I need is some 3-toned lightbulbs and we’ll be set for brightness adjustment! Woo hoo!

The 80’s lamps moved to the basement for now. My husband still loves them. I haven’t a clue why, but we’re not dumping them yet!

I’m linking up to:

Gift Wrap Station

This week’s challenge from A bowl full of lemons was to create a space designated to be a wrapping station. Let me tell you, this challenge almost beat me. But I prevailed in the end.We have a second bedroom that is currently a disaster area. One day I’m hoping it will serve as a multi-functional room as a guest bedroom with a craft area.

Here’s how it looked when I started this project:

And here was my wrapping paper organization before:

First, I decided it would be cool to do something like this. The Youngsters took metal boxes screwed into a closet door to help with space conservation (details found here).

image from Young House Love

So, in the spirit of being thrifty, I went to several stores before finding these beauties from Target, on sale for $1.34 each.

I also bought 2 cans of white spray paint from Walmart at $0.96 each. I raced against the rain to get these finished before the downpour began. I made it just in time. Once they were dry, I set to work with my trusty Command Hooks. I didn’t want to drill holes into my closet because we’re renting. I’ll putty walls, but I don’t really want to mess with wood filler too. I bought the right size for what would fit through my boxes, and hung them up.

It was so pretty. Until I heard a big THUMP later on. This is what I found:

Sad day. One of the cheap-o boxes cracked. It’ll be fine to hold larger items, but only sitting on a shelf. Bummer. So I was back to the drawing board. I had already wasted some money (only $6, but still) so I didn’t really want to spend any more money. Even still, I went to a bunch of thrift stores and finally found 4 metal boxes at TJ Maxx. I bought them (to the tune of $30.32), immediately regretted spending that much money, and returned them within 20 minutes. I’m sure the clerk thought I was crazy. Oh well. A penny saved is a penny earned, right? Or in this case, 3,032 pennies is 3,032 pennies earned.

So I went back home and “shopped” around my home to see what I could use. Then it dawned on me.

See the arrows? They’re pointing to a mostly-empty, large antique trunk that I bought a few years ago and recovered with vintage maps and travel ads. It was holding a few off-season decorations and not much else. So I emptied it out and made it my new wrapping paper station!

Here’s the bottom of the trunk. It holds the wrapping paper, boxes of ribbon & bows, and some boxes for presents.

And here it is with the top shelf insert. It holds the gift bags, small boxes, tissue paper, tape scissors, and gift tags.

The room is still a mess, but it’s sooo much better than it was. Here’s the in-progress-not-totally-finished “after” pictures:

I’m not 100% sold on this trunk staying in this room. It’s humongous in a tiny space. So it may move elsewhere in the future, but that’s where it is for now.

I will do another post later about how I revived this antique trunk before. Thanks for reading!

I’m linked up to:


Organize and Decorate Everything

I won!

I won my first blog giveaway! And not only that, my name got drawn twice! For honesty’s sake, I asked them to re-draw one name because I only really need one sample to try in my home, but I’m actually getting sent 2 samples!

I won a sample of Shakelee Basic H2 Cleaner from Organize and Decorate Everything!!

I’ve been wanting to try some Shaklee cleaning products for a while now after seeing them endorsed on A bowl full of lemons. They are non-toxic, natural cleaning products, and Basic H2 comes in a concentrated 16 oz bottle, which makes 48 gallons of cleaner! Here’s just a few uses for it (taken from this post on ABFOL):

Here is a shocking comparison…

1 bottle of Basic Hequals the cleaning uses of 5,824 bottles of 26 oz. Windex

To Use Basic H:
For all-purpose cleaning:
Add 1/4 tsp. to 16 oz. of water.
For windows and mirrors:
Add 1-2 drops to 16 oz. of water.
For degreasing:
Add 1 1/2 tsp. to 16 oz. of water. For bigger jobs, add 2 oz. to 1 gallon of water.



Many uses for Basic H:
Window Cleaner – Mix -Only 1 to 3 drops in 16 oz. spray bottle of water. If smearing occurs, mixture too strong – add water to dilute.
General Spray Cleaner – Mix4-6 drops in 16 oz spray bottle of water. Use all over the house to wipe furniture, chrome, the stove, the refrigerator, vent blinds, and excellent for louvered doors.
General Spot Remover – Apply Basic-H directly on spotted area. Use a toothbrush or finger to rub into area. Wipe off with a damp cloth or rinse in basin of water. (Removes coffee, ink, grass, etc)
General Cleaning – 1/2 tsp. in qt. of warm water. Cleans doors, walls, woodwork, appliances, bathroom fixtures & tile.
Insect Repellent for People and Animals – Rub/Apply full strength Basic-H wherever you do not want insects to bite; they won’t bite where Basic-H has been applied. Also relieves itching of insect bites (rub on, full strength). Be careful around eyes, it does sting. If you get some in the eyes just flush with water.
Floors-1 Tbs. per gallon of water. Leaves floor shining. May require rinsing.
Dusting – 1/8 tsp. in pint of water, squeeze sponge almost dry (Or spray on), Wipe off dust, fingerprints, etc. Dry with clean cloth. Leaving the wax finish beautifully bright & dust repellent, less dusting required.
Outside Windows – 1/2 tsp. in “Ortho-type” spray applicator full of water. Makes 2 gallons of solution for windows & screens. Squeegee dry.
Coffee-makers – Dilute 1/8 tsp. Basic-H in pot of water. Run through cycle & coffee stains will rinse away.
Ironing– 1 drop in steam iron keeps the jets & interior clean.
Wallpaper– Excellent for removing wallpaper. 1/2 Tbs. per gal. of water. Soak wallpaper with sponge & peel or scrape.
Concrete & Mortar Mix – 1/4 oz. per 1 gallon of water. Makes cement & mortar spread easier & smoother, set harder.
Plumbing – Will keep pipes clean & free-running when used regularly to wash hands, pots & pans at sinks. It emulsifies grease & can eliminate cleaning of grease traps.
Pressure Washer – 1/2 oz Basic-H to 20 gallons of water.
Heavy Duty – use 1 oz per gallon of water. Leaves a luster to mobile homes, homes, RVs & etc.
HumidifiersUse 1 or 2 drops in humidifier water to help prevent rust & scum.
Knives–1 or 2 drops on cutting stone for sharpening knives. Keep moist & add Basic-H as needed. Doesn’t clog stone – very important when sharpening tools. Stone rinses free of residue.
Yard Spray to Rid of Fleas– in hose spray bottle, fill with water; add 1 cap-full of Basic-H. Attach to hose & spray yard every 10 days for 3 applications. Use twice a year thereafter to control. Rinse all plants thoroughly.
Liquid Hand Soap– Mix 1/4 Basic-H to 3/4 water in pump dispenser by sinks. Will not dry or irritate hands like soaps may. Will help moisten, soften & protect hands!
Fine Fabrics– Use 1/2 tsp to a basin of lukewarm water to wash woolens, nylon stockings, and all fine fabrics.
Gum – Use full strength to remove gum from skin, hair or carpeting.
Fruits & VegetablesUse 1/8 tsp. in pint of water wash and rinse. Removes insecticide residue, dirt and waxes. For lettuce cut head in half and place in cold water with a couple drops of H. It removes the poisons and crisps up the lettuce.
Automotive UsesWashing- vehicle– 1/2 tsp. per gallon of water. Wash small area at a time and hose off. Wipe windshield, windows and chrome with paper towels after rinsing. You’ll love the shine!
Battery Terminals 1/2 tsp. to pint of water and spray on battery terminals and let soak 2 minutes. Clean with wire brush.
Filters1 tsp to gallon of water. Soak air filters from motors and watch the dirt float out into the water. Air dry or put on hot engine for faster drying.
Camping Cleaning & Washing -Coat bottoms and sides of pots and pans with Basic-H before placing over campfire. Black soot just slides right off when you wash.
Fish Odors – 1/2 Tbs. per quart of water. Basic-H2 works wonders on boats, docks.
Washing RV, Boat & Camper– 1/2 Tbs. per gallon of water.
Crayon– To remove from walls, use full strength.
Spot Remover-Apply directly on spotted area, which has been dampened with water. Use a toothbrush or finger to rub basic-H2 into area. Wipe with a damp cloth or rinse in basin of water
Upholstery– Mix 1/2 Tbs. to ½ gallon water. Spray on & rub clean.
Septic Tanks – Keeps crust from forming. For maximum health of septic system use all of Shaklee’s phosphate free cleaning products. This will do much to promote the growth of needed friendly bacteria.
Houseplants – Water plants with 1 oz. Basic-H to 1 gallon water. 4 drops to 1 pint water can be sprayed on the leaves to make healthier plants and keep dust off.
Fertilizer -Add a few drops to warm water, then water your indoor or outdoor plants. The Basic H2 solution will make the ground soluble to the water, thus making your plants much healthier than with regular water.
Toothpaste -Add a drop or two to your toothbrush, right on top of your normal dab of toothpaste. Watch as your teeth become whiter and your gums healthier. Your breath may even stay fresh longer, as Basic H fights germs of all sorts.
Glove – Before you start a dirty job or before gardening, pour a few drops directly onto your hands. Rub them together to coat both hands. After you are done cleaning, wash your hands to find that dirt, scum, smell and overall ickiness are nowhere to be found.
Pesticide – Dilute your Basic H2 to a couple of drops per spray-bottle, then spritz your plants as part of your regular routine. Not only will the bugs stay away but you might also find that they are bigger and healthier, as well.
Produce wash – Just 1/8tsp. added to a pint of water will make an effective and safe wash for your produce. Grit and dirt on leafy vegetables are easily removed, and you no longer have to worry about a funny taste remaining on the produce.
Diaper wash -Coupled with 1/2 tsp of Shaklee Basic G (a germicide), 1/4 tsp of Basic H2 can remove germs and odors from your cloth diapers. Leave a bit in your diaper pail to prevent odors there, as well.
Windshield Wash/Rain repellent -Pour 3 1/2 tsp of Basic H2 into one quart of water, and use it as your windshield wash. Rain and slush will easily wipe away from your windshield, and bugs will slide away, as well.

I’m so excited about my samples!!!

Front door wreath

I love making Christmas wreaths so much that I decided I wanted to try my hand at making a year-round wreath for our front door.

Here’s the new wreath!

I haven’t set up an etsy site yet, as I’m still making the goods to advertise on there. If anyone would be interested in purchasing one, I can sell them for $15 plus shipping. Obviously, local area could be delivered.

I’m linked up with:
Bubbly Nature
 http://www.thethriftyhome.comTransformation Thursday

Recipe Binder

This week’s weekly challenge from A bowl full of lemons was to create a recipe binder. I’ve desperately needed to do this for a while now. I get a lot of recipes through emails. When I find one that I like, I print it out and stick it in a basket in my kitchen/dining room with my cookbooks.

The basket is on the bottom shelf.

And yes, that is my kitty in the recipe basket.

I bought some cute file folders at Target, cut them in half, trimmed them to binder size, and then printed out labels for my recipes.

My categories are:
Appetizers, Dips, Dressings & Sauces
Soups & Salads
Main Dishes
Side Dishes
Breads & Pastas
Smoothies & Detox

I’m still going through my email stock-pile of recipes I want to try, but I’ve got most of the ones from the basket in the binder. I’ve already made huge improvements in this, and I rediscovered some recipes I really wanted to try!

Recipe storage before:

Recipe storage after:

I’m linked up with:

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Projects in the works…

I actually have quite a few projects around our home in the works. Some require more work than others. Here’s a list of the plans by room. The teal ones are actually in progress (meaning we already have some materials needed to complete them).

Front yard:

  • Repainting the front door
  • Making a year-round wreath or door hanger for the door
  • Adding some brightly colored flowers to our yard
  • Aerating and seeding the lawn
  • Fixing the sprinkler system
  • Getting rid of the dirt pile leftover from our plumbing project
  • If we get adventurous – repainting the carport and porch overhang

Entry way:

  • Finding/building a bench for behind the front door
  • Putting a doormat on the inside for wiping feet (even though we have one outside)
  • Adding some wall art above the coat rack
  • Adding a basket for shoes to go under the bench

Living room:

  • Replacing the dead floor lamp (I’m currently in love with this one, but it’s out of our price range)
  • Painting the piano bench & upholstering it (or swapping it for whatever one we find for the entry way)
  • Making no-sew curtains
  • Hanging the hardware & curtains
  • Hanging a mirror over the mantle (totally in LOVE with this one, but that’s DEFINITELY out of our price range)
  • Swapping out the area rug for one that matches the soft colors of the room
  • Swapping out the ceiling fan for one that will actually light the room
  • Finding an upholstered storage ottoman/coffee table
  • Maybe adding a mantle on top of the fireplace

Dining room:

  • Repainting the dining room set (Two chairs have 1 coat of paint on them and need 1-2 more coats. This takes me several hours of sanding per chair, plus the table, then priming, painting, and poly-coating them)
  • Peeling off the damaged veneer tops from the china hutch and buffet
  • Painting/refinishing the china hutch and buffet
  • Adding a mirror to the dining room to open up the space more and get some more light in there
  • Hanging some art/framed pictures to the walls


  • Finishing contact-papering all the shelves (about halfway done)
  • Re-arranging the placement of things in the cupboards (the pots and pans have been in the upper cabinets since day one, and we haven’t moved them yet because….?)
  • General organization of things in the kitchen/pantry (with bins, baskets, labels, etc.)
  • Establishing a recycling system


  • Painting all the doors and trim that is still unpainted from when we first moved in
  • Replacing the doorknobs (the ones we have are all outdoor knobs with keyholes, none for which we have keys)
  • Reframing a large mirror that we own and hanging it up
  • Adding a console table/buffet/bookshelf/dresser to the hallway for added storage
  • Hanging art/pictures on the walls
  • Reorganizing the over-stuffed linen cabinet


  • Replacing the mismatched bookshelves (4 of them) for a matching set that will house all of our books
  • Adding curtains to the windows
  • Updating the ceiling fan
  • Swapping out the hubby’s cheap-o secondary desk for a white Ikea extension
  • Maybe moving my desk to the other bedroom and getting me a new one

Middle bedroom:

  • Decluttering/organization
  • Finish painting the cabinet doors & closet
  • Sanding/painting or refinishing the futon
  • Assembling the futon
  • Find a mattress for the futon (the old one was too far gone to save)
  • Maybe painting an accent wall with stenciling (still deciding on that)
  • Designating spaces (this room will be multi-functional) – craft/project area, gift wrap station, place for the cat stuff, and guest room arrangement
  • Hanging curtains, art/pictures, etc.

Master bedroom:

  • Purchasing the dressers that match our bedroom set (about $250 each, so that won’t be for a while)
  • Creating a more organized closet space
  • Finding a red throw blanket to complete our bedding
  • Updating or replacing our nightstand lamps
  • Adding curtains
  • Touch-up paint on the ceiling (we did a really crappy job at it and I see it every night when we go to sleep)
  • Hanging a mirror
  • General decorating


  • Painting the vanity
  • Changing out the vanity drawer pulls
  • Adding roman shades to the window (there’s not really room for a curtain rod


  • Assembling more wire rack shelves
  • Making sure we have enough shelves to get all our stuff up off the floor
  • Swapping out cardboard boxes for more durable plastic ones
  • Fixing the leak that shows up every time it rains
  • Adding some kind of a light to the water heater closet/space under the stairs


  • Moving the shed to the backyard
  • Taking down the DirectTV satellite which we have no use for
  • Planting a vegetable garden
  • Adding a trellis and planting a climbing plant of some kind (maybe trumpet vine or roses)
  • Maybe adding an awning
  • Adding some weather-resistant patio chairs and a grill!

So there’s our whole house and the projects I’ve been dreaming up and planning. There are no time limits on any of these. Just things I’d like to get done sometime whenever time and finances allow.

You light up my world

We have some new lighting in the living room!

Our current ceiling fan in the living room doesn’t put out enough light to effectively light up the whole room. So we’ve surrounded the room in lamps. Brass lamps. From the 80’s. Hey, at least they matched.

Don’t get me wrong, I love these lamps because they were all hand-me-downs. Hey, you do what you can when you’re just starting out. I had these babies in my apartment before we got married. They were well loved and well used. Plus, for some reason my husband really likes the brass-with-etched-glass-and-night-light lamps.

So we’ve been using these lamps, but in order to fully light the room at night (for reading or if guests come over), we’ve had to turn on all 3 lamps plus the ceiling fan lights. Talk about wasting energy!

I’ve been on the hunt for some matching table lamps to flank the fireplace that would not only update our fixtures, but would be something we both loved AND within our price range. I figured out that I had about $10 to spend on each lamp (not including shades). So I began to scour the thrift stores and consignment shops. I thought I might find some ugly matching lamps then paint them, but I could NOT find any matching lamps. Anywhere. And the ones that DID match were $45 per lamp, which wasn’t working for me. Ugh.

Then I found a new thrift store in town. It’s called the Thrift Emporium on 9th street. Not the best area of town, so I wouldn’t recommend going alone (unless you’re a man). I went during the bright daylight hours and took a friend whom I just happened to run into at a previous store. Wonder of wonders! I felt like bursting out into song!!! I found not just one pair of matching table lamps, but 8 matching sets!! And then I found them… two lamps for $10 each. And they were perfect just the way they were! No painting needed! Score! I scooped them up before anyone else could take ’em!
Later I found some burlap lamp shades for them at Target. I’m so pleased with them!

Please excuse my adorable kitty who’s made it her personal goal to make a cameo in every blog post. 🙂



And one more beautiful after…….

There is SO much more light in the room now. And the hubby loves the lamps – which is definitely an added bonus. I would have found someplace to put them if he’d hated them – even if it was at a friend’s house instead of mine. And don’t worry…the 80’s lamps that he loves so much are still here to stay for the time being. They’ve just moved to the other side of the room for now. I can’t wait to get a large oval mirror hanging over that fireplace to bounce some more light around and open up the space even more!

Thanks for reading!

I’m linked up with:
Transformation Thursday
Join  us Saturdays at tatertotsandjello.com for the weekend wrap  up           party!