Monday, April 30, 2018

Kitchen Storage Organization (Small Space Living)

Living in a small space has its challenges.  Although we redid our kitchen a couple of years ago and added lots of new cabinetry, I still needed to economize on space.  A lot of the items below were put in initially with the kitchen remodel.  But a while back I did a lot of kitchen reorganization which really helped working in the space.  I ordered some new things for this.  I also repaired an appliance, and employed an antique tea canister for fun.

One of the first space organizers I purchased was an Ikea Pot Lid Organizer, to be use for baking dishes and pie pans, rather then the pot lids it was intended for:

A more recent project, I took everything out of the drawers, and reorganized them.  Here is the big drawer reorganization:

Everything from the bottom section out to sort and purge
The bottom section reorganized: baking utensils, etc.

The top section is silverware

Speaking of silverware, I bought new stainless.  This was problematic, because the bottom of the dinner fork handles are large and ornate, much wider than before, and they did not fit in our small dishwasher basket.  I liked how the dishwasher basket fit in our small-space dishwasher, and didn't want to try and find a new one that might not work anyway.  Paul suggested opening up a few of the basket sections, so they were wider:

The basket before
It just doesn't fit!
The basket after, with four of the sections in the middle widened out using a metal rasp.

Then there is small-space pan storage.  We used two separate units in one of the base cabinets, a two-level unit for pans and lids (that have to be placed with their handles just so on the adjustable rack), and another for cookie sheets and cutting boards:

Bottom pan level
Top level - lids, and the teensy-tiny frying pan

I also repaired my grain mill (the air outlet piece).  Note that my grain mill will now be used for non gluten grains such as oat groats (back on gluten-free diet).  This deformity had been here since I purchased the mill.  It didn't affect the functioning, but it bugged me, so I ordered a new part:

Finally, I needed tea storage for some little samples I had gotten.  I found this canister in an antique store - just like mother used to have!!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

What I Did Instead (Went On Vacation!)

(Note: I thought I had posted this already!  Well, better late than never!)
This past November, there was a problem with a group I was working with.  It all had to do with music and harp, an inexplicable and unnecessary rude email from one of the leaders to me, and an unexpected invitation that same day from another group that helped salve the wound (a group I am happily working with now).  I don't want to go into details since this is a public blog, but suffice it to say, it was so disappointing.  I have moved on, but still am flabbergasted by the whole sequence of events.
There was a special event planned for February with the old group, that I was so looking forward to.  I had blocked out a series of days from my work schedule to accommodate this.  When everything fell apart, I had this rare lengthy time off.  Paul had not been feeling well, basically from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  When thinking of a gift for him for Christmas, I thought time at the beach would be therapeutic.  Plus we had enough points on one credit card to cover two airline tickets, enough on another to cover the rental car.  So I booked a long weekend in Florida.  We had a lovely time.
I made sure, on the evening of the event that I was not part of, that Paul and I were drinking cold champagne in a warm place.  And celebrating our lives together.

Friday, January 12, 2018

An Improvised Vanity Table

I have been wanting a vanity table for makeup application forever.  But in our smaller house, and the configuration of the chimney as it relates to our bedroom (right in the middle of one wall), we have to pick furniture carefully and are limited in where we can place it.  I thought about looking into a new dresser that might just have a makeup space in the middle, but our dresser wall just wouldn't accommodate that, and besides, I'd rather not spend the money on that right now.

So I looked around, and realized that a small desk we have in our room could easily be re-purposed into this makeup station for me.  It's a nice desk, an antique, and had the blessed feature of sitting fairly flat against the wall, thus fitting perfectly into the "nook" to one side of the chimney in our room.  I really don't use the desk as a desk, since all bills are paid online and letters have morphed into emails, so it was mostly for storage, and (ahem), clutter.

I went through and purged a lot out of there (old cancelled checks from back when they still sent you those each month, unnecessary papers, index cards, you name it), found a mirror online that fits "just so", and has a magnetized little magnify mirror that you can take from the back of it, stick on the bigger mirror, and see yourself close up to do your eye makeup), and a small plastic makeup storage caddy.  All of my cleansers and moisturizers stay in the bathroom.

I needed a small chair or bench to use with this.  I found this one online, that is small, and stows off to the side nicely.

The desk 
(still a lot of stuff in the side cabinets part, but I'll get to that!).

Close-up: the mirror (reflecting my flowered shirt), 
to the left is the makeup caddy, 
to the right another storage box, and a "tea facial" kit.

The desk with the new bench in front.  
I love the floral upholstery!

The bench placed off to the side  
and the desk folded up after use, 
so I can get by the corner of the bed easily 
to go around to my side.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Another Fireplace Snafu

I think we finally have it right.  It took some doing.  Last night we lit a fire.  We (thought) we had the flue open, the flue fan (installed last year, see here) was on.  But wouldn't you know it - smokiness.  We figured maybe we needed some sort of "turbo-booster" in the flue to propel more air out.  I dashed off an email to the fireplace guy (who ended up responding almost right away, good guy, that one), but then the smokiness got really bad, ending with a scary comedy of errors where Paul had to get the fireplace log out into the snow in a metal tub (don't ask).  Then Paul was testing the flue, trying to figure out what on earth was wrong.  Well since it has been gajillion degrees below freezing here, the flue had frozen shut (our first clue should have been that the flue fan did not sound very loud, even on high, which we now know means - it isn't open!).  Once Paul had tugged the flue chain several times, it finally opened up -we knew because the fan sounded loud, about the same time we got an email back from Fireplace Guy suggesting that very thing.

Today I was very brave, and asked Paul to light another fire before he left with the kids to go see his mom.  I was contemplating doing some quiet journaling after a very busy morning away from the house.  I really wanted to sit by the fire on this freezing cold day, with a cup of tea, and a chance to work in a new journal I got (more on that later).  All was well!!  No smokiness, a beautiful fire, and I enjoyed my respite.
And I captured a nice picture of Tyler 
in front of the fire right after it was lit.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Bedside Table Scarf Craft

A while back, I needed a quick nightstand scarf for our guest room (which was Robert's room, and he still stays here when he visits home - which will be tomorrow!!).  After Robert moved out to Portland, we decided to do some long needed renovations to this room that were too involved to do whilst someone was living in it.  These included:
  • Gutting, insulating, and wallboarding the closet (still in the works, but mostly done, no secret passageway yet though)
  • Revamping the electrical in the closet
  • Tearing down the ugly tile ceiling, replacing with wallboard
  • Fixing the venting system in the floor (the pros did that)
  • Removing the old wallpaper and painting
  • Sanding and refinishing the large dresser (but only the top of it; the rest was in pretty good condition)
  • New carpeting
We also found a cute bedside table and a "banker's lamp",  which this room was lacking the whole time Robert lived here (poor boy!).  This is what I wanted the nightstand scarf for.  I found and inexpensive, washable, cloth placemat at the nearby hardware store, and saw that I could easily cut it down and stitch it with very little time involved.

I measured the table top, and cut the placemat to size, keeping the existing hems on two sides 
and allowing seam allowance to turn under for a matching hem on the other two sides. 

New hem pinned and ready to sew.

The little table fits perfectly in this awkward little corner next to the bed.

I love the vintage feel of the banker's lamp.  The placemat will allow a water glass to sit without ruining the finish of the table.  Paul ran an extension cord unobtrusively for alarm clock or a cell phone charger.  There's a shelf below as well for books, tissues, etc.

Saturday, December 30, 2017


This is a tale of the elusive "Darling" pin.  My mother had a beautiful antique pin, inscribed with the word "Darling".  I always loved that pin, and when my mother passed, expressed a desire to keep it from my mother's belongings.

When my sisters and I began going through my mother's things after she passed, we could not find the pin in with the rest of her jewelry.  We felt really horrible.  Then, miraculously (St. Anthony had a a hand in this!) we found the pin almost by chance, after unfolding a crochet shawl my mother had made.  She had worn the Darling pin with the shawl, but had the foresight to attach it to the shawl with a vinyl (invisible) thread so it would not be lost by accident.  So I took the pin home and placed it in my jewelry box.

A few weeks ago, I was looking for the pin.  I swear I took apart my jewelry box looking for it, but it was not there.  I asked my sister Barbara if she had it by chance - she did not, but promised to say a prayer to St. Anthony, asking for his assistance.  I did so as well.  I looked in the attic, trying to find my mother's shawl.  I couldn't find that either (although I did find a shawl she had made for me).  I felt just awful, thinking it was gone for good.

Today, I set about cleaning my completely messy and disorganized house (Robert is coming here on Tuesday!!).  I have been in the process of setting up a makeup table in an antique desk in our room (more on that in a future blog post).  I decided to do a clean and purge of my jewelry box (something I had planned on doing whilst looking for the pin; there was so much in there that I no longer wanted, and it was bursting at the seams).  And what do you think happened?  I found "Darling"!!  She is now in a small box, safely in the jewelry box, so I will always know exactly where she is.

I'm so happy!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

End of Season Tasks

Last week and this, Paul and I have been tidying up the garden in preparation for winter.  Paul took down our birdhouse for winter storage, we gathered up the tomato cages, and covered some of our perennials.  Paul will run the mulching lawnmower over the grass to collect up the leaves on Monday, when the weather is predicted to be "warm".  We also arranged for Sears to come do routine maintenance on our snowblower. 

Paul and I also went through our canned goods, purging any expired ones, cleaning and sorting.  This was not planned; the upper shelf of our Lazy Susan base cabinet shifted down, needing an adjustment, which Paul took care of.  But I have been meaning to go through it, so all was good.  The trick is to use up all of the duplicates I found and didn't realize I had - how much coconut milk can one person accumulate?!  I see Thai food in our future, maybe some Indian or Caribbean as well.  We are well stocked in vegetable soup for the winter.  It feels good to have that done. 

Sadly, there is a frost predicted for tonight.  So I went out and collected the last of the herbs before they are frozen.  Surprisingly, in spite of some pretty cold and awful weather in the past month, three herbs survived: rosemary, oregano, and parsley.  In keeping with my international cooking, I will also need to make some recipes that use parsley and oregano (Italian, anyone?!).  The rosemary I plan on using to make a rosemary hair rinse (link to holistichabits video/prep instructions here).  Rosemary is great for the hair, and has aromatherapy benefits as well, which apparently one will smell while prepping the hair rinse.

Left to right: rosemary, parsley, oregano