Organizing one tiny step at a time!

This time of the year the blogs are filled with organizing tips. They are all great but man, can they be overwhelming! 

They feed into our desire to get our lives and homes in order. So I thought I would share a few TINY things I have done in each room of the house that have, in one way or another, made my life a tad simpler. Nothing major or earth shattering...just little things you can do that don't require a pickup load of storage boxes or a week of total madness in your quest to "get it right."

So I walked around my house with my camera and asked myself...what in THIS room makes my life a little easier.

First...my bedroom. Getting my bedroom the way I love it was a looooong process that I revealed here. But there is one tiny element that makes my life a little simpler....

This tiny little change to the outlet next to my bed was super simple to install (here I share how to install one!) and has made my bedtime ritual so much easier. I can still have my clock and lamp plugged in while charging my phone and Ipad.....zero hassle! 

My office...I have a ton of organizing tips for home office spaces, but my absolute favorite is simple...binders!

These are just a few I keep at my finger tips...on a shelf in my closet I also have binders for home and car insurance documents, tax returns, legal papers, etc. Since I have a business, all my receipts and invoices get tossed in a paper box each month and at the end of the year stored in the attic...just in case the IRS comes knocking! Super simple "filing" system! But the documents I need on a regular basis are kept in binders at my finger tips!

The toilet paper holder. Okay, this may seem silly but if you have ever had a puppy, kitten or toddler, you know the struggle....the daily ritual of cleaning up the toilet paper that has been "unrolled!" I discovered this little trick with my last kitten...

Install an "open ended" toilet paper holder vertically rather than horizontally. Not only does it take away the entertainment value of "unrolling" the paper it makes it super simple to replace the roll!

See, I told you these were simple little changes...

On to the laundry room. I have said time and again, I like pretty but it has to have function. One of my favorite little things to collect are the old Lane cedar boxes. Some believe they are old "sample" boxes used by Lane salesmen for their cedar chest line. Not so! They were actually little cedar boxes Lane gave away to girls when they graduated from high school to entice them to buy a large Lane cedar chest. I find them all the time at auctions and in flea markets. A quick strip with my acetone/lacquer thinner mixture and a few coats of tung oil and they are as good as new...and super pretty!

I use one to hold dryer sheets in my laundry room and I also have one on my dresser for reading glasses and such and one in my den to hold the remotes. Pretty with a purpose!

Which brings me to my kitchen. So many neat little ways I have made this space much more functional and organized, but I chose to share one of my few loves that really serve little purpose...my cutting boards....

Here and here I share how super simple it is to revive old cutting boards! Except for the one I use as a recipe holder, they really serve no purpose because I don't use wood cutting boards. But I love the warmth and whimsy they add to kitchen!

In the den a few more of my favorites "with a purpose!" When I started seeing all the "old work benches" being repurposed in the blogosphere I remembered I had my dad's old tool bench stuck back in a storage shed. I pulled it out and gave it a little makeover! It is one of the few "primitive" pieces I feature in my home. Because it was actually built and used by my dad, I LOVE it!!!

It is relatively small and doesn't take up a lot of space and serves as a perfect little side table next to the lounge chair in the den! 

Coffins...again, morbid sounding, I know. But they aren't REALLY coffins, that is just what they are called! I have several and I use them for storing fire wood, photo albums and books!

Another super simple "makeover" project that yields "pretty with a purpose!"

I did manage one major "purge" this year...partially out of necessity. When I redid my entry this year I created a dust bowl that forced me to remove a 30 year collection of hardback books for cleaning and I decided it was time to finally let go! Over 150 books found a new home and my bookcases finally found room to breath! 

I kept the collections of two of my favorite authors but the rest were boxed up and given to a friend.

Truthfully, I haven't missed them and now I think twice before spending money on another hardback. I still read, I just don't "buy to have"...I buy paperbacks I can leave for others or I download them on my Kindle. 

I will say that getting rid of clutter, a real heart wrenching purge and declutter, is ESSENTIAL to making your house a home. Maybe one or all of these tips will make that process a little easier!

Happy New Year!!!

This weekend we put another year in the books and begin a new one! 

I love when bloggers post their "favorite" projects of the year but for me it's a toss. Every project is a "favorite" because I love doing what I do and I learn something new every time I pick up a tool or a paint brush. So feel free to look around in my archives and find your favorite...and hopefully some inspiration! After all, that is why I share...to inspire and motivate! 

We had another wonderful Christmas...Mitchell couldn't make it home which always makes me sad. But this year we added two new members to the celebration. 

The first is our soon to be daughter-in-law! Taylor and Brandon will be married in Hawaii this summer (yes, we are going...yippeee!) so we let her sneak into the annual family photo. I told her if the wedding didn't happen I would have to "photoshop" her out...lol! Truth is, she is precious and a wonderful addition to our family and I expect her to be in our holiday photos in the future! 

The second? Well, as I have mentioned, I have quite a few "feral kitties" at my apartments and over the years several have made their way home with me. A few weeks ago a very friendly and tame kitty hopped in my car and seemed more than happy to come home with me. Seriously, what choice did I have? He obviously wasn't a "feral" kitty but he has been around for months and I can only assume he was abandoned. Naturally, I couldn't just bring it home...after all, he could be diseased or sick...and he obviously wasn't neutered. So we stopped off at the vet's, had a few tests run, got a bunch of shots and of course, neutered. 

Brian was not the least bit happy with the idea of "fostering" a kitty...after all, we already have four and that is a few too many as it is! But "Mr. Jinx" really is a precious kitty. The vet agreed that if he isn't full "Maine Coon," he definitely has some in him. Beautiful, precious personality (reminds me of my Molly!) and HUGE! Seriously, he is a big cat! 

So for now, he is the newest member of the family...until I am forced, kicking and screaming, to "rehome" him. But in my opinion, he is right at home here!

Today all the Christmas decor, except the tree, will be boxed and put into storage. Makes me sad...and the house just looks so "blank." 

Oh well...the wheels are already turning. Lots of projects in the garage and I'm sure I will find something in the house to tear up this year! 

Stay tuned...you never know what I might decide to "learn" this year...until then have a very safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Making the holidays a tad easier...

"Its the most wonderful time of the year!!!" It is, but man, can it put a strain on our bodies, time and finances! 

Over the years I have found a few ways to make my holiday season just a tad easier and economical.

Today I want to share a few of those things....

LIGHT REMOTE

I bought mine at Lowe's....

This nifty little gadget allows you to turn on your indoor Christmas decor with the touch of a button. I have one on my big tree, one on my small tree in the den and one on the big wreath and trees in the den. Just plug anything into this outlet, plug it into the wall and punch a button...on or off...simple as it sounds!

TIMERS

Definite must-have for outdoor lighting! No more going out into the cold and unplugging the lights before you go to bed...or worse, FORGETTING to unplug the lights! I set my timers to 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. and know that my lights will automatically turn on and off! (Most home improvement stores carry them!)

STAR SHOWERS

These were pretty much out of necessity. Brian has been the official "outdoor light" guy for 16 years...but a few years ago he fell off the ladder and last year he had a hernia. So I had to find a way to light up the outdoors without killing him. Hence the Star Showers! One...mehhhh. Two...so-so....but two on the house and four pointed at the tall pine trees....WOW!!!! Beautiful. I almost don't miss all the colored and icicle lights...almost!

I bought mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond and I have seen them advertised online and on TV.

WRAPPING TABLE

Again, out of necessity. I'm too OCD to leave wrapping stuff strung out on my dining table for the entire season...and sitting on the floor wrapping presents for hours on end was more than my knees and back could handle. So now I set up this little table in my room and load up my wire baskets with paper, bows and boxes. Not only do I have a perfect spot for wrapping, I have the perfect place to stack gifts that need wrapping. Pens, scissors, labels and the tape dispenser are always at my finger tips!

WIRED RIBBON

I love this stuff...it makes beautiful simple bows for packages but the great thing is you can reuse it year after year. Just roll them up after all the gifts are open, thrown them in a box and you will have beautiful ribbon next year! Pretty and economical! 

STORAGE UNIT

This one is new for us this year. I have always stored my holiday decor in the attic. But as you get older, climbing up and down the rickety attic stairs with bulky boxes gets a little dicey. When Brian moved this year, we decided to get a storage unit big enough to hold some of his stuff and ALL our seasonal decor...both fall and Christmas. And there is A LOT! Yes, it is kind of a pain to have to go get the boxes and then take the empty boxes back, then go get the empty boxes, and then take them back. But honestly, it is easier than hauling it all in and out of the attic...and far safer! 

HEIRLOOM ORNAMENTS

I've shared this before...and it bares repeating...it is never too late to start a "tradition." When my oldest daughter was a baby my mother started giving her several special ornaments every year. She continued this "tradition" for all my children, who are now 35, 28, 27 and 19...2-3 ornaments times all those years! You can imagine how many I now have. My oldest daughter now has all her and her children's ornaments and they fill her tree. I still have the boys' and my youngest daughter's and will keep them until they have their own Christmas tree. Each ornament has some meaning...the year they went skiing, their first deer, high school and college graduations, glass ornaments created from the ash of Mr. St. Helen's...so many ornaments... enough to completely cover a 9' tree. I don't need ribbon or balls or "fillers"...I have a tree full of memories, each ornament marking a milestone or special time in our lives! Priceless...and beautiful! 

 

These are just a few little things that have made our holiday season a tad easier...and economical...and safer! 

Enjoy the season!

Farmhouse table....

Today I want to share a farmhouse table I put together using some "mismatched" pieces I picked up!

Sometimes I find things at the apartments and drag them home "just in case."

This ugly pine table top is a prime example....

(No, I have no idea what the black stuff was...paint maybe?)

It hung out in the garage for MONTHS because I knew I would have to find the perfect legs for it...and honestly it wasn't on my priority list.

Just so happens I snagged some nifty old table legs at an auction a few weeks ago...

By themselves they didn't amount to much!

I stripped the top using this process and stained it with gel stain. Chalk painted and distressed the legs and attached them to the top. Sealed it all with poly. 

Cute as a bugs ear.

I even managed to drag it into the dining room and stage it for a few pics. Okay, honestly it was cold outside when I decided to work on it so I brought it into the dining room to stain, paint and assemble! (NEVER strip furniture in the house...the chemicals are just too strong! I stripped it when it was warmer outside last week!)

You may notice that one of the wood castors on a leg was missing. I keep spares around but didn't have one the right size or four that matched so I just removed them all...no biggy!

Just another example of how easy it is to take something destined for the dumpster and create a beautiful piece!

I still love my dining table so this one is off to 410 Vintage! If you are local you should really drop in! Even if this table isn't your style, I PROMISE you will find something you will love! 

Next week I am going to share a few things that make my holidays soooo much easier!

Until then....

Thanksgiving bench....

Last year I shared a couple of little benches I whipped up out of necessity! 

My dining table spends 364 days a year against the wall with nothing more than a couple of chairs.

Since I host Thanksgiving dinner, the table is extended and pulled into the middle of the dining room so I need the additional seating!

It is no secret that I tend to stick with what I know so when it was time to pull out the table and get ready for Thanksgiving dinner last week, it was back to the garage to build another bench for the holiday!

Since I had already designed and built a few last year, I really didn't need to draw up new plans...I just needed to dig around in my scrap wood and find a few pieces I could use to construct a new bench.

That was pretty easy considering I had some oak left over from my stairway demo earlier in the year!  I found an old pine dresser at the apartments that was missing the drawers, but the sides and top were perfect slabs of solid wood for the top of the bench. I also had some trim from who knows what project. I always have paint and stain on hand! I had to pull a few nails and sand off some old mastic, but other than that I had everything I needed! In the end, the bench cost me nothing more than a little bit of time!

It's no secret that oak is not my favorite wood but since I just need this little bench for the day, no biggy! The benches I constructed last year served their purpose and then where promptly sold in my booth, which explains why I had to build a new one!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! After a day of stuffing our faces with turkey and EIGHT pies, I spent the weekend decorating for Christmas! Some people start off the holiday season fighting the crowds at the mall on Black Friday, I start mine wrestling with strings of lights and yards of garland...fun time! 

Little changes from year to year...rarely do I tackle holiday projects. Here I shared a cute little project made out of a butter dish ...

...and here you can see how I made this versatile primitive box display...

....but all in all things pretty much stay the same. 

Well, except the constant changes I keep making....

Fabric transfers...

I have shared several transfer and pillow creations...here, here and here

A few years ago I made this floor pillow out of drop cloth fabric and added a transfer graphic.

This weekend we went to an auction. At one point they had another one of those "nobody wants it" items so they add a few things...I ended up buying a pile of "stuff" just because I wanted a little stuffed opossum they threw in the pile. Seriously, a stuffed critter.

Turned out to be a pretty great pile for $1...some batting for upholstery projects, a few ticking cloth down pillows and of course, my critter.

Wasn't sure what to do with the pillows...cute but kind of plain! But they have that "farmhouse vibe" that is all the rage! I washed and dried them because, well, they are "used." 

Then I remembered my transfer paper.

I LOVE this stuff! I used it on the floor pillow and have used it on several other projects...never fails!

I buy it here, on Amazon. It's not the cheapest transfer paper you can buy but in my opinion it is the best!

For graphics, hands down, The Graphics Fairy! They have thousands of graphics for the taking. And they even have great tutorials for transferring to any project....fabric, furniture, signs, etc!

I choose this graphic for the pillows....

I decided to try to iron the transfer onto the pillows without deconstructing them. Probably not something I would have done had they been super stuffed, but they weren't and they turned out pretty good!

Print the graphic (mirror image) onto the transfer paper with any ink jet printer. I always trim the paper close to the graphic so there is no excess transfer paper.

 

Make sure the fabric you are transferring to has been washed and dried. Set your iron super hot, no steam, and iron away. I usually go over it until it is super hot, then CAREFULLY lift one corner to make sure the transfer is happening. If not, just keep ironing!

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Cute as a bugs ear!

Next week is Thanksgiving and I had to build another little bench for my dining table. I'll share that early next week. 

Lot of other projects going on around here...the biggest is the new privacy fence! Cleo has a habit of "wandering" so after 17 years I finally had to break down and put up a fence. I hired someone to install the fence but I had to rebuilt the swing harbor that was actually on the neighbor's property and God forbid I put in a plain ole' gate. So I did spend several days "constructing." I hate sharing anything in my yard this time of the year, but hopefully I will get around to it in the next few weeks! 

Until then....

Change is a coming....

If you have taken a peak at my "About me" page, you know Brian and I have been blissfully together for 16 years...me in my home, him in his.

This month, that all changed.

We are still blissful, but after 16 years we now have one home.

Truth be told, he's been here since his shoulder surgery in June. When you have to dress someone, put on their deodorant, cut up their food and share a relatively small bathroom, you find out real quick if you could live with that person full time. We have and we can. So over the last few months it has become apparent that living in the same household is doable and maintaining two households is a waste of time and money. 

Soooo....we took the leap. A couple of months ago he put his house on the market on a Tuesday, had two offers by Saturday and closed in three weeks. 

Wow! 

That was easy. 

The hard part was negotiating the "combining of households." And truthfully, that process really wasn't that difficult. We rented a storage building and had a massive garage sale. 

But there were still a few non-negotiables (even a few necessities).

Clothing: This is where Brian shows his "feminine" side....the man has waaaaay more clothes than I. Fortunately I am NOT a clothes hoarder and I am an "empty-nester." I donated 1/2 my clothes to free up space in the master closet. He also took over Katie's walk in closet upstairs for the clothes that didn't fit in the master closet. (I have to give him credit for scaling down from 3 to 1 1/2 closets!)

The brown leather couch and chair: First I am NOT a brown leather couch kinda gal.....not in my decor wheel-house. But honestly, it is kind of my fault. When Brian bought his house six years ago, we went furniture shopping. Being as that is not something I really enjoy, I yawned my way through most of the day. We found a beautiful couch and chair set at one store...price tag over $4500. We found another really nice couch priced around $1500. Later that day when he called for my opinion, he thought I told him to get the pricey one....I'm almost certain I did NOT! Anywho, a week later he had a $4500 couch and chair delivered....and six years later they had to come to my house! 

The black chair and ottoman will definitely need a makeover if it is going to stay in here...just too much "dark and heavy" going on. It will have to be moved out for the Christmas tree so maybe I will start on that project then...provided I can decide on a fabric!

Remember when I said something about decorating around a brown couch...yes, well, I am having to take my own advise. I am still struggling to mesh my "light and bright" quest with "humungus and dark," but somehow it will all come together...someday...maybe.

The flamingos and a frog: Not kidding. A pair of pink ceramic flamingos and a frog that lights up.

Again, my fault to some degree. He likes frogs. I found this "cute" lighted frog while picking up knick-knacks for his house. Honestly, it was kind of a joke but he loved it. The joke now has a new home....

He loves them, and I love him, and well....whatever.  

Almost forgot the massive giraffes...it's official, we have a zoo! Another auction buy. They are from Africa and were carved from some kind of tree root. They really are kind of cool, but again they will have to be relocated when I do my Christmas decorating. 

These are just a few of the "non-negotiables." There is also the massive safe that required a complete restructure of the master closet pantry. It is filled with his knife and coin collection. I had to clean out the large dresser to make room for his hoard of socks, under shirts, undies and such...I say hoard because, seriously the man has more undergarments than any reasonable human really needs. Especially considering I do laundry every other day! The Bow Flex and elliptical (we now have a "work out" room!)  His "electronic" obsession...2 computers, an ipad, blue ray players, stereo systems and OMGosh how many TVs does one person really need. 

Truth of the matter is, he made waaaay more sacrifices than I. And in the end, at our age and with the wisdom we have acquired over the years, the "give and takes" aren't really even sacrifices. 

I wish young couples REALLY understood this...

Heirlooms trump everything!

I have said it time and again....family heirlooms trump EVERYTHING!!! So when my uncle dropped off a china cabinet this week that had been my great-grandmother's, everything was rearranged to make room for it!

It's not "my style."(very traditional) It's not "my wood." (oak) It's not "my finish." (white-wash/pickled kinda look)

But it was my great-grandmother's and that is all that matters.

I even have a picture to prove it!

This is my maternal grandmother, great-grandfather and great-grandmother gathered at a holiday dinner in the early 80s....the china cabinet is in the background and the dishes on the table are my great-grandmother's china I recently acquired.

I vaguely remember this piece in my great grandparent's dining room when I was a child. They lived in a charming little post-war neighborhood in Dallas and during my childhood it was the family gathering spot for holiday's and special occasions.

While I was looking through my family photos for a picture of the cabinet, I also found this awesome holiday photo of my mother's entire family taken in 1948 at their home in Houston.

My mother is the sullen looking teenager in the red gingham shirt, my uncle to her left. The woman to the far left in the picture, in white, is my great aunt Judy. She inherited this china cabinet after my great-grandmother (woman far right) passed in 1986...and now it has come to me!

On the table are my grandmother's dishes I also acquired recently! 

These pictures are pure treasure!

Sooooo...now I have a china cabinet that is not my style, not my wood and not my finish.

I'm not sure what I will do with the finish...if anything. Right now I am just going to let it sit and mull it over. This is one of those pieces I will not touch until I have a very firm game plan in place. I know it needs a few small repairs but the beveled mirrors were replace in 1986...seriously, I found the receipt in the cabinet....$15 for two beveled mirrors. I just spent $130 to replace two mirrors that broke when my living room wall mirror fell off the wall!

I do know I would like to replace the wood shelves with glass...maybe add some interior lighting....and I couldn't wait to remove the metallic red paper inside the cabinet!

Had I picked this piece up at an auction, I would have immediately slathered it in paint. 

Not that I am opposed to making changes to family heirlooms. Sometimes you have to make changes to a piece so it will serve your family for many more decades. But when you are dealing with family heirlooms you should proceed with respect and caution! 

It's the little things!

Cheap and/or free are always my favorite way to add a little seasonal warmth to my home!

I shop sales, clearances, auctions, yard sales...it is always fun to find inexpensive little "treasures" I can use to decorate a space or add a touch of warmth or whimsy. 

Last Friday I actually did something I really hate. I shopped "retail stores." I was specifically looking for cotton stems or cotton wreaths. Evidently decorating with cotton is all the rage this fall and I wanted some...but evidently that is another "fad" that hasn't hit our area because after hitting every home decor store in the area I came home empty handed.

My neighbor Tammy dropped by this week...she had visited her daughter in south Arkansas and brought home some REAL cotton stems from their farm.

Tammy to the rescue!!!! I couldn't believe she had a pile of cotton stems in her garage just sitting there for the "pickin!" 

LOVE! I literally just snipped off the root ends and stuck them in a little vase. I probably should find a bigger vase, but I love how these REAL cotton stems fill this space! 

Last year I feature some awesome little "coffins."  Sounds morbid I know, but as I explained, they are actually the lids to antique sewing machines...and I absolutely love them! I used a couple for storing photo albums but I had one that was just sitting in the den.

My other neighbors, Kenny and Maryann, have these really cool trees in their backyard...they kind of look like Aspens and the bark is "whiter" than normal tree bark. I have no idea what they are but I used the branches in my little seasonal box I shared here. I decided to cut a few more of their branches and use those in this little coffin in front of the fireplace.

So simple!

Outdoors...an old galvanized bucket dressed for the season! Just drop a potted mum in it (no need to get your hands dirty!)....or if you don't want to spend the money on a mum, fill it with berry stems, pine cones and pine branches! Again, super simple!

 

My point? Adding seasonal touches to our home decor doesn't have to cost much, if anything. Just look to nature (and your neighbors!) We do it in the spring and summer when we bring in cut flowers. Fall gives us just as many ways to bring nature into our homes!

Green "horse apples," red berry bush stems, pine tree branches, tree limbs with colorful fall leaves...all ways to bring nature into your space. You can stick them in wood bowls or galvanized buckets or cheap vases or old wooden boxes. 

Some of the prettiest seasonal decorations are free!