Tag Archive | organization

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!)

Building a garage shelf in 2 hours

(spoiler alert…. or NOT)

I think I have said before that there is no simple “Oh let’s do this” projects in my world.  I count myself lucky if I *only* need to gather tools not find them, or, buy them.  Things are getting better as we unpack and organize but it is a frustratingly slow process.

One thing I intended to start a full 2 weeks ago was build shelving in the garage.  I did my research, plumbed the Pinterest pit, and consulted friends and came out with a plan with few cool things to try but the hitch was that I needed full sheets of plywood and 8ft long 2×4 and my mini van is just not up for that.

Order it you say?  They deliver?  Yes!  I started down that path because I recall someone had free delivery.  Called around last week and no, not free, but $25 is ok.  Spent a few days building the cart, researching weight limits and looking at a few cool options for the next project because if I’m paying for shipping I’m getting everything for the next few projects in one shot.

Cart finally as perfect as I can make it and then I see delivery is $75….  put on the breaks, call, hear  “no, $25 was never a thing” (I swear it really was!) but this puts me in a mind to just buy a utility trailer.  Why shouldn’t we buy a >1K trailer to build a less than $100 garage shelf?  It has been on our list for a while, this just bumped it up.  NOW we need to research trailers!  I already had gone down the path so we just needed to actually do the looking.  That means 1 day lost to thinking, another to research, and on the third we went out at lunch and found the perfect trailer and a good price but they needed 1 more day for paperwork.


Look at that cute trailer and that (kinda) clean garage

Yesterday!  Yesterday we got the trailer and I got to push ‘buy’ on my cart so the lumber guys could pull everything and I finally got the wood at the house.  Now I can start?  Well almost….  It would be much easier to just pull the trailer full of wood into the garage but there is a pile of boxes (much smaller than it was, I’ve been working on it) in the way so I moved them all and walked in the trailer.  This trailer weighs practically nothing,  nearly 100% aluminum and I had no problem walking it full of lumber into the garage.

Finally! Finally, I can start!  I use my impact driver (love!) with a new star bit (love love) and some highly recommended lag screws that require no pre-drill (love love love!).  I put up my back supports and then… then the battery dies.  Oh well, I had to cook dinner anyway and tomorrow I think I can just get it done.

The night passes and morning comes; it is the next day.  Make breakfast, pack lunches, brush 3 sets of hair and find shoes/jackets/papers and bring all the children to school.  Come home and hear the beginning of the supreme court testimony and turn it off.  I can see both sides, I am glad I’m not in charge of that.  At 10am I get out there and by 11:15 I have this.


Lars for scale, and, to show strength.  He is not 300lb but he is also not 200….

So not 100% because I don’t have the short screws I thought I had to screw down the plywood but no project can be finished in just 1 trip to the store.  Given the time yesterday to anchor the backs, I would say this is a 2 hour project IF you have;

  • a clear plan on what you want and how to build it
  • ability to make the cuts and the joints without some youtube research
  • tools
  • materials
  • way to get materials to your house
  • clear space

It personally took me 2 weeks and 4 days to make a 2 hour set of shelves.  I think we need a bit more reality in our building expectations.  Those youtube people just skip right to the building part and make it look so easy.

My further plan is to extend right with top shelving only and to the left I’m torn between another section of 4, or, just another top shelf.  Either way I’ll be faster this time because I have 5 of the 6 necessary steps to get going done already.  It does feel good to finally check this one off the list.

Act locally. vote

Last year on election day I stayed up with my cousins texting each other as we watched a train wreck in slow motion.

The next day I got this shirt.


I come from a long line of women concerned with rights and freedoms.  We may not always agree on every point but that is ok if you come from a place of education.  Unfortunately too many times there is no education, so, when my local community needed help I was happy to “Organize, agitate and educate” I was flattered to be asked and I am glad I got the opportunity to run a positive and educational campaign.

Walking that professional and positive line is difficult.  It is so tough to not use the phrase ‘math is hard…’ because some people seriously can’t tell the difference between when the cost of something tripled v the total tripling.  That would be like saying that apples are now triple the price, my grocery bill is tripled!  no…. your apples did.  Math is hard.  So far so good with keeping professional and there are some people out there truly pushing buttons.

Polls opened at 7am and close at 8pm.  I’ve been so happy to work with the team of fellow volunteers.  So many times I was surprised by the kindness and generosity and willingness to go the extra mile.  The people I’ve met during and on the campaign have made all the difference and I think I’ve found my people here.  I’m keeping optimistic.  I did my best.  The team did all we could.  Now we wait….

Where do you put your stuff?

Constantly I feel the need to clean out or organize this place or that.  Usually, I have very organized storage, it is the ‘homeless’ stuff in my house that causes the clutter and mess.  I don’t even remember when I started but it hardly matters because like painting the Verrazano bridge, as soon as you get to the end you need to start again because where you started is messed up again.


Recently I’ve circled back to the kitchen.  It has been nearly a year since I took out ever piece of silverwear etc and this year I could part with over a dozen kid plastic stuff because only Fiona wants to use it now, so, don’t need plastic service for 12 anymore.  I know, how interesting!  I would never have mentioned it except yesterday a friend acutally asked my opinion on orginizing in her kitchen.  She noticed that I orginize by use of item.  I’m flattered she noticed but except for a few things I don’t know how else one could possibly orginize?  So that is the question; in your kitchen what do you put where?

For us, the kitchen isn’t that big so everything is pretty in reach.  When we made the pantry in the garage I moved all baking pans I didn’t use daily and the majority of the dry goods that are not needed for daily use, and, all the extra/duplicate stuff.  It is normal to put the extra things out there like when I buy a 3pack of ketchup or a double syrup 1 is inside and the other are stored.  The dry goods took some thinking, seriously, I don’t need a cake mix within arms reach so out it went.  In the pantry are; all baking mixes, jello, noodles of all variety, and, canned/jarred everything.  It is easier for me to go out and look at the options then go to the cupboard and dig around wondering if I have spaghetti in there somewhere.  My exception is open packs have a home and I try and use them first.


The other organized thing I do is that I put all the things I use together in the same spot.  I put all my baking spices on one shelf, including baking power/soda and all the not baking spices on the other.  My cupcake cups and all decorations are right above them. I have a shelf of all the lunch stuff for the kids so it is an easy selection when I’m packing 3 lunches in under 10min.  Dinner sides are also all together on the same shelf for easy finding.  My last is that I put the tea next to the teapots on a shelf near the coffee and the coffe and sugar together directly above the coffee maker. The worst thing is when the container that something comes in does not fit in the designated space…

Other then those little tricks, I’m not sure how other people organized and I’m interested!


ps.  the one thing that nobody has a real spot for; lightbulbs.  We keep ours in the bathroom closet by the towels but I’m open to suggestions.