Tag Archive | organization

my extra hour

Yesterday our time ‘changed’ in the stupid WWII artifact of a social contract where we all agree that we ‘fall’ back one hour.

In reality, it is annoying to nearly everyone and absolutely despised by pets that are very used to being fed at the same time.  This time of year we ‘get’ an hour so the question of the day was what did you do with your hour?  It is silly because you get no more or less time, you just shift as if you drove across a time zone, but I had scheduled us a ‘do nothing’ weekend and the kids have today off (again, no real reason, just off today to keep parent on their toes) so I do actually have some extra hours.  Want to guess what I did?

I cleaned closets.

For a month I’ve been intending to go through the closets.  Purge.  Get things ready for winter and put away summer.  Someone lost 60lb and he is due for an exodus of too big stuff.  I have lost no weight, but also gained no weight, so I have been wearing the same stuff for years and some are now just too worn out or not the right ‘look’ and it needed to be gone through.  I’ve also come to the conclusion that it is silly to keep everything post-Fiona so 100% of her previous size is already packed up and is getting taken to its new home tomorrow.  We tried on everything, made good choices on what to give away, and powered through!

I’m proud of myself for letting go of so much

  • one overflowing tote of 6Tis going to a new family
  • one giant bag is going to goodwill
  • one medium bag going to fabric recycle (torn or too worn out)

In my closet, I’m down to 4 totes of seasonal stuff for both of us including shoes (mostly mine but his shoes are bigger so take up more space)

Each child has an organized wardrobe where they can find anything they want to wear and on their top shelf of the closet is a neat box labeled “Next Size or Season”.  I’m very pleased that I don’t need to do major shopping, everyone has plenty that fit and they like.  The only thing I semi need to get is some more hangers, who knows where they go.

We also didn’t let the rest of the house go to absolute poo while I was focused elsewhere.  Most of Halloween is back in totes, laundry is going, and things are generally tidy.  I don’t get my normal Monday to put things to rights but Niamh’s room looks great and so do the closets 🙂  We are going to go swimming later and we have a busy evening but it was a mellow but productive weekend.


Never ending projects

Sometimes a project is absolutely necessary and so you just do it.  Time is found, maybe counters are dirty for a day but the projcet gets done.

Then there are projects that aren’t really neeeeeded right away so you do some planning, then pick up some supplies intending to do it ‘that weekend’ and then step over said supplies for a month (or more).  At a certain point, you might actually clean up the supplies to the garage and then have to go find them again.  I didn’t get that far this time, I finally finally got some of our storage shelving up today; only took 3 months.

Note I say ‘some’ because, in my mental fog of life+too many projects, I got 8f long shelves and 2 shelf brackets each.  Yeah, um, gravity etc.  Now I have 1 shelf left to go up and a single bracket.  Can I possibly complete a project without going to the store 3x?

I also got a tad frustrated because I had a great plan for spacing.  I got a new stud finder because my old one took a little too much head trauma over the past 10 years and it makes noises but not very accurate ones.  I marked studs, I marked and measured and used a level.  However, on THREE of my brackets, the spot for the screw was EXACTLY where the builder used a screw to attach the drywall.  I guess I should be proud I have the instincts of a builder but they got there first so I can’t also use that exact spot.  I adjusted around and maybe one of my brackets only has 1 fastener, this shelf is not holding up bricks, but it is up.  Do I go to the store for more brackets to finish the darn thing?  I’m not sure, once I get shelves up then I just have to clean and organize so if I never get that shelf I can leave it the way it is right?


storage room ‘so far’

I’m glad that I pulled myself away from computer work and routine housekeeping to get this done.  I always feel better for making headway even if I don’t finish.  That last shelf might just decorate the floor for a bit longer but probably not forever.

Happy 2019!

In the mornings, pre official wake up time,  I surf my reading list on my phone.  Over the past few days the big theme seems to be resolutions.  The opinions range from “yes! clean slate, do the things!” to “resolutions are stress inducing and dumb” and a semi unique tangent this year seems to be ‘alternative’ resolutions like declutter or go on more social outings.  All the opinions have merit and I’m not really going to add to it other then say; you do you, I’ll do me.

The last post talked a little about projects in the works.  Like most of my projects I end up doing a little bit on a lot of things and nothing gets done until suddenly one day they all get done.  Putting a big party* on my calendar really helped motivate too, and, Lars really helped by feeding us all so I could focus.  He also checked in to see if his lifting skills were needed and he toted many many boxes (my nemesis!!!) to recycling, donation, and trash. I’m happy to say there is only one last major battle against the boxes on the horizon; the storage room.  Here is a list of my recent conquests;

  • the pantry. Was epically disorganized and desperate for a purge.  It also harbored 2 unpacked boxes.  It required 1 trip to menards and 1 trip to ikea to tame.img_9155
  • my closet.  This was a box stronghold, there were at least 6 very large boxes and 4 totes.  You could not touch the back wall even if you had long arms.  This required a dive into pinterest, a trip to Menards (yes, a different one), a trip to Tom’s where we still have some stuff (less now), an amazon purchase, and a trip to walmart for hangers.  Changing that light fixture was really annoying but worth it. I added to the existing closet system but now it works for us.img_9160
  • my room!  This is less a single battle and more a general campaign.  It is now box free (there were about 6 medium ones) and almost ‘done’.  There is still furniture to paint in the spring but it is now functional and pretty.


As all people with homes and children know, the daily skirmish against the creeping clutter is never ending.  I’ve read the how-to’s and they all boil down to a 2 part plan; get rid of most of  your stuff, including any messy hobbies, and, clean every day.  I don’t want to do either of those things so my modified version is to get to a point where things have a place to go away and that is what I’m working on.

In this oddly short week I feel pretty good about where I am since I really did spend 2 weeks working toward organizing it does pay off for a little while.  I even had time to get through the piles of paper around the house.


*The Party – we hosted a new years day open house and we had a great time, I hope our guests did too.  There were about 50 or so people over the day and while I missed a few that couldn’t make it I was super happy to see everyone who did and we even got to meet our elusive next door neighbors!

A happy note while paying bills

As Vacation Mom likes to tease me, I’m very habit based on certain things.  I do laundry on Monday, I pay bills on the first Wednesday of the month.  Deviations are absolutely possible but I don’t like them much.  Today, a Tuesday, I had to tackle the bills because tomorrow I start a 2-day meeting extravaganza for school board stuff.

Bills don’t usually make people happy, neither do Mondays, I think I’m a little odd on the subject because I don’t mind either too much.  I absolutely recognize that the reason I’m ok with them both is that I’m super lucky and also have worked hard to be in a good place because Mondays (as I believe I’ve said before) are like MY day to get organized and the potential of the week is ahead of me and nothing has yet fallen behind.

I like paying bills primarily because I *can* pay them without worry due to budget mindfulness and good job and planning.  I also like double checking things to make sure there are no errors, it is annoying sometimes but so satisfying to work out the problems.  This totally paid off today when a billing lead at the town called me because a tangle we worked out 2 weeks ago didn’t execute and because I had been working with her nicely over the past 10 years (it is a funky old system) she called me instead of just processing.  The final reason I like bills is that I like to do the stats behind them.  How has my electric bill been doing?  How about gas?  (This new house has them split) What is the spending trend on the credit card? Today I decided after 3 months in this new house I could compare its energy use to our energy use over the same period last year in the old house.  Best results ever; they are nearly identical costs!  That truly means that

#1 Good news; given the price of energy increasing we are doing better this year with energy use to have the price be the same

#2 Better News; Our new house is not quite double the size and that isn’t costing us more energy!  We planned in so many things that should be energy savings but I was waiting to see if it proved out in dollars and cents.

It is a good feeling to have the bills for the month more or less settled, recorded in my spreadsheet, and analyzed nicely.  A pleasant byproduct is my desk gets an extra tidy on bills day to make sure I didn’t lose a random bill from a dentist etc.  I can jump into my busy week from a place of strength; laundry is done and bills are paid and bonus – I even know what I’m cooking for dinner.



The box war

I had at least three things to blog about but my brain is too tired.  I’m tired because I am in a war; the box war.  I am attempting to rid rooms of boxes and I’m doing pretty well, today I finally got Niamh’s room done and the playroom as tidy as a playroom ever gets.  Sometimes I feel I win a battle but when my back is turned they regroup and there are boxes in the room again!  Like they are stalking me…..  The worst part is that they seem to be increasing in number in my room in particular.  Surrounding me while I sleep.  I have done nothing in my room yet so I think the boxes must be feeling safe there, they are settling in, I actually dusted a box the other day.  They must be stopped or else!

My revenge on the boxes is throwing them down the stairs when they are empty.  They take a pretty satisfying tumble but their retaliation is then they lay in wait for me to try and walk down the stairs.

I’m not sure who’s side Lars is on.  On the one hand, he escorts the boxes out of the house on their final trip, the ultimate room clear.   He breaks them down flat and plays judge and jury deciding who is fit to be given to the next mover and who gets recycled.  However, I think he is also the one that is toting in boxes from the garage and putting them in the spots I JUST CLEARED.  Sometimes he puts them in closets or ‘out of the way’ places so I open what I thought was an empty closet and it is a giant stack of boxes.

This is a critical week, I hope to turn the tide on the boxes so I can move on to the next battleground; curtains.  Isn’t my life exciting 😉

Making a Mudroom

When we were designing the house there was a wide hallway with 4 doorways and an opening (is that 5 doors or not?  The last is more an arch and has no door) that was between our garage door and the rest of the house.   On the single uninterrupted wall, they put in a bench and ta-da, they call the area a mudroom.  I called it a *future* mudroom because it really had no place to hang anything.  It got higher on my priority list when kids got back to school and there were backpacks all over the floor.  It got even higher when it got cold and jackets joined the jumble.  As with all good projects we start with Pinterest, but, one of my constant annoyances with Pinterest is that there are no directions, this is my contribution to the mudroom category.

I have no before picture – imagine a navy room with a built-in bench.

First step was to evaluate use.  For us we need lots of coat and backpack hooks at a height that my kids can actually reach.  I also wanted a shelf for cool hats, I have a pretty good collection so they needed a spot.  We also end up with wet stuff a lot so we needed wall protection.

Second step design and research.  After some Pinterest searches, I fell in love with the ‘pretty shelf holders’ but that is not the name for them; they are corbels and can be very tricky.  Some I found are decorative only, made of a plastic or hard foam.  I needed structural corbels and the internet has plenty, some are very expensive, and I ended up getting them from Home Depot; 2 for $15 (I got 2 packs).

Home Depot also had wainscoting (the decorative wood panels) for $12 a panel, our wall is 90 inches so we needed just under 2 full panels.  They are pretty flimsy MDF but they got less brittle after 2 coats of paint.  I made the needed cut, using a circular saw, on the far corner and just ignored the asymmetry.  I wanted to avoid too much cutting so I tested the hight dimension on the wall for hook rail #1 before I bought them and it worked for us.

Both hook rails and the shelf are pine from the dimensional lumber section.  The hook rails are 1x4x8 and the shelf is 1x8x8.  They cost about $20 total.

I painted everything  (SW7005) Pure White to match our trim, the base of the bench and the door frames.

I marked the studs with masking tape in the area I was not planning on putting anything so I didn’t have to constantly look for them.  In my 90 inches, I had 5 studs to work with.  One thing I’ve had problems with in the past is overloading coat hooks so I wanted to make sure this was very strong.  Yes, Dad, I overdid it I am sure, but now I know I can put everything, including a bag of bricks books, on the hooks. Here is my hardware/mounting list (not the order of building)

  • 2 of the 3 corbels are mounted on studs, 3rd is on a screw in anchor
  • The bottom hook rail is mounted using 3in #10 cabinet installation screws
  • The long sections of top hook rail are also mounted to studs with the 3in #10
  • The two short sections of the top rail use wall anchors rated for 50lb
  • Wainscoting is held up by finishing staples from a nail gun, but, finishing nails would work fine.


Order of building;

  1. Wainscoting first, making sure it was perfectly level.  Fun fact, the bench is not level…  I kept the nails around the edge for easier painting later.
  2. Lower rail next.  I positioned the screws so I could cover them with hooks

dry fit everything first

3. Corbels mounted per directions – I decided on the height by a very scientific method; I put a mark where I could still reach but was high enough to look balanced on the wall.  I’ve done enough ‘rule of 3rds’ that it is just part of my life.  I like to use post-its to mark so I can stand back and look and easily move if I need to.


pink marker is a post-it, blue marks are painters tape on my studs

4. Cut sections of wood for the top rail, mine were 4 different lengths so cutting had to be after corbels.  I decided anchoring to the studs was more important than perfect symmetry. In planning, I made sure each long section would have a stud, the short sections I used toggle bolts.

5. The shelf is mostly held by gravity but to be more secure I used the nail gun along the back to anchor it to the top rail.

6. I added hooks, starting by covering my fasteners and then eyeballing (using pink post-its) the others.  The lower hooks are the bigger style and the uppers are small because I didn’t want to bang into the shelf above so I needed a low profile.

7. Touch up paint.  Went over all the nail heads and the seam of the wainscoting and along the joins of the rails to the shelf above.  Looks way better with the hairline cracks filled in with paint

8. Clean up all the tools, trash, and dust and took a picture because this is likely the last time it will be so empty ever!



There are 2 things I wish I could have done differently.

First, I’m not wild about how the upper rail looks cut up because it is slightly thicker than the back of the corbel.  Paint helped but the only real solution would have been to put in verticle strips but that would have looked bad because my spaces were not equal, or, even with the wainscoting.  I found other places on Pinterest that did the same so I’m not the only one with the quandary.  I don’t think anyone will really notice.

Second, I would have preferred to run a router grove on the lower rail so it nested over the wainscoting adding to the structure.  I didn’t because my router is still at a friends house and I wanted to get this done and he was on vacation.  It worked out fine so far at least.

Even with those two reservations, I’m really happy with how this turned out.  I’m proud to contribute this to the Pinterest universe.

Oh! I was asked about the color and we used SW6244 – navel here and in the front hall and it is scary dark on the chip but awesome in person.  The bench stain is Koa, the flooring is a vinyl plank laid in a herringbone pattern (left that to the pros!)