Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some Really Awful Before Pictures and Finally, An Organized Closet

All righty! To reiterate, this is not the prettiest closet makeover. I am using what I have and I did not paint everything with chalkpaint. This is my closet/laundry room and except for you, no one else will see it.
First, I have to confess, that I broke down and purchased one $19 wire shelf from Home Depot. I couldn't confiscate another bookshelf from my sons or there would be mutiny.

Here are the really awful BEFORE pictures (so you know that I had my work cut out for me).

 I'm not proud of these (I actually cringed when I made these photos larger):

Above: My mailing center where I stored my boxes, bubble wrap and inventory for my esty shops, next to our sock drawers...yeah, that makes sense. I wonder why it took me so long to find everything?

Below: We have a very cool built in ironing board, which I couldn't use because I couldn't get to it.

Below: Wow... clothing, paper, frames and lampshades...let's move on...

Below: My organizing system for future projects --didn't work out too well. 
So, after three huge trash bags and three large cardboard boxes donated to Purple Heart, I FINALLY have an organized closet/laundry room. Here's what I did:

1.  I traded my son a computer desk for a set of bookshelves. He was happy; I had storage. This is where I am storing my inventory of completed projects and my jewelry for Country Tag Sale. Those wire baskets were purchased at a yard sale for $5 each. Pretty doily hides plastic storage for jewelry. Old window used as window treatment.

 2. My sock drawers/junk drawers were turned into a functional packaging area. I have bubble wrap in the lower two drawers, ribbon, wrapping/tissue paper, tags, and notecards all in one place.

3. Scissors, tape and odd shaped items that I need access to are hanging nearby in this organizer.

4. I used antique sewing machine drawer boxes to hold my assortment of ribbon - perfect fit! Ribbon scraps are color-coordinated in clear baggies. On top, an old card catalogue holds specialty ribbons (that are wrapped around cardboard). In case you haven't noticed, I have a lot of ribbon.

5. I used an old baby gate to display/store my collection of vintage linens.

6. For Christmas, I got a Michael's gift card. I used it to purchase some black and white storage containers. I labeled them with my handy, dandy, label maker that I purchased over a decade ago, but never really used.

6. The large dresser stores all out-of-season clothes for myself and my boys. The taller dresser holds socks for my husband and myself, plus long underwear (for ski trips). Notice I have room to use the paper cutter.
I would show you pics of my shelves and my husband's shelves, but it's pretty boring unless you really want to see an excess of Pittsburgh Steeler jerseys...in that case, let me know and I'll email you the pictures.
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

College ( Junk) Mail Overload? No Problem

At our house we've been receiving a plethora of college mail for let's say the past six years with a one year break...However, just a heads up because it’s a little known fact that there is a severe punishment for your kids doing well on college assessment tests – it’s called mail overload. 

Sure, it begins as innocent fun in your kid’s sophomore year when you receive those first few letters in the mail. Your teen may even actually open them and read them, feeling pretty good that Mountaintop College is really interested in “motivated, high-achieving students like you.” 

Then, it becomes a little more irritating when you open your mailbox and see an even larger stack including three (differently disguised) letters from Mountaintop. These letters all seem to say the same thing -- except YOUR SON’s NAME is cleverly placed on each one. If you don’t open these IMPORTANT and DATED letters every day, your kitchen counter could start looking like the top of your kid’s dresser. So, what to do with this plethora of paper? 

Here are five ideas (after you’ve sorted out the ones you may actually want to read):
1.     Give it right back to them. Nothing like “return to sender” to stop them coming…can you imagine the college mailrooms if everyone did this? Tip: Buy a “return to sender” stamp so you won’t get writer’s cramp.
2.     Hold a contest. Collect the letters and have a contest with a friend: who’s pile will get the highest within a month or who’s pile can get the tallest without toppling? Winner gets to give all the envelopes to the other to recycle.
3.     Make paper airplanes and tell your teen to toss them one by one when college reps visit his or her school and give a presentation. I guarantee they’ll have enough to last the whole hour and you won’t get another letter from that school.
4.     Answer EVERY letter they receive by sending an email to the admissions office of that school. Or better yet, forward them to the admission’s director’s home address.
5.     Estimate the environmental impact of all 400 pounds of paper you’ve received by your kid’s senior year and send an email to all the colleges that you don’t want to get into, and Cc the EPA, Greenpeace, and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF).
What do you think?
BTW. Another awesome giveaway going on right now at Villabarnes.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sweet Lavender Box

In between organizing and life, I do manage to sneak in a little creating. Rosemary from Villabarnes inspired me this time with her old world finishes. I had a small cigar box that I had painted lavender (just because it was the paint color I happened to grab). I decided to do a little old world finish (actually it looks more like a whitewash on my box) by using white gesso and wiping it off. I stenciled a number two and this is the result. I also decoupaged a vintage-inspired label on the inside lid and added some velvet paper to the bottom inside.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Different Type of Window Treatment

I don't like to sew, even though I have a sewing machine. I'm always looking for new ideas for window treatments that keep me away from the dreaded sewing machine, such as this one in my kitchen (above). I used a piece of antique lace that I bought as a souvenir from a trip I took to Montreal years ago; I added the stained glass window I purchased at The Barn Sale ($4...no kidding!) and love the results.

I have a window in my large closet and to finish off my organization project, I was looking for an idea.  I saw these on Pinterest and it got me thinking:

And, this one really got me thinking....
I have two antique windows that used to decorate my living room wall and they are just waiting for a new place to reside. I carried one upstairs and draped an antique tablecloth over it...ta da! My new window treatment. (Sorry about the photo...it's hard to take photos in a narrow closet with little light and the evening photos looked terrible.)

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Valentine's Day Ribbon Heart

I bought a wood heart last year at AC Moore (local craft store). It sat in my closet buried beneath everything. I found it and yes, decided to do something with it. First, I painted it with Gesso and then used an antique white paint to finish it. I lightly stamped French script in spots and then used a pretty satin ribbon I had. It still needed something. Scrap paper to the rescue! Here's the result. Simple, but sweet.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Closet Sneak Peek: Using What You Have

Okay. I admit that I've been working on this closet for over a week and it's really shaping up (but remember, it's not going to take your breath away or anything with it's beauty). I am trying to use things I have on hand, so I don't have to spend the money. For example, I kept this old piece of a baby gate  (never mind that my youngest is now 11). Why did I keep it? Well, I knew someday it would be good for something and it was easy to store since it took up little space. So, I finally used it!

It now proudly holds all my vintage linens. I use the linens to wrap some of my vintage items that I sell in my Country Tag Sale shop...makes a pretty presentation and the buyer gets a little surprise. I wrote a blog post about presentation right here.

I'm also using a wooden bowl that I bought at a tag sale (for a song) to hold all of my vintage clothespins.

As for the rest of the closet, you'll all have to wait a bit longer because I'm still not done (life just keeps getting in the way)!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Valentine Vignettes

Update: This post was before last Valentine's Day, but I think it fits beautifully with the CSI Project's latest linky party...Love Theme Challenge! Enjoy and be inspired...

Valentine's Day...not a lot of decorations, but, I do like to place little romantic touches around the house (hint, hint, husband). A heart here and a heart there.
For example, a collection of vintage bottles with a little "amour" charm that I made:

Lots of crystal and one of my heart boxes from my shop:

A touch of pink on my all white mantle. Th glass is from Michael's, but it mixes well with my revamped vintage candelabra, don't you think?

Another heart box in my bedroom:

Little romantic touches...just a reminder for a very special day coming up.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A "Souper" Easy Soup Recipe

You like easy, right? You like delicious, right? Well, then this post is for you.  
I absolutely love soup during the winter...especially homemade. I have two "go-to" soups that I make quite often. One is my Italian wedding soup; it's a recipe that I got from a friend, but I embellished it a bit. It's my family's favorite, but it really takes a long time to prepare.
The other is soup is one of my favorites because it's so easy, but it really, really tastes great. It's my recipe that I call Very Veggie Soupie (i know, I'm weird). I believe I got the idea for this one on the Internet, but, again, I changed it a bit to make it my own.
1 large package of frozen mixed vegetables
4 cans of Vegetable broth (I use Swanson's because I like the flavor)
1 package of frozen chopped spinach
1 cup chopped onions
3 stalks of chopped celery
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of diced tomatoes with garlic, basil and oregano
1/2 cup (uncooked) of acini de pepe pasta
1. Heat the celery and onions in broth until tender, then add everything else but the noodles.
2. Bring to a slow boil and then let simmer for 30 minutes
3. Cook the noodles, drain, and add before serving.
That's it! Really. So good.
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Got an etsy shop or any shop? Read on about Handmadelogy

Most of you know that I have two etsy shops. I love having them and especially love creating for my Where the Grass is Greener shop. For example, I had so much fun today creating this pretty little muslin bag (I'm MARKETING) for the shop. My other shop, Country Tag Sale, is full of vintage finds and I do a fairly steady business there, but it could be better.
My biggest problem is marketing and you would think that a gal who had to take marketing classes as part of her major, a gal who worked in an advertising agency for years, and a gal who worked as part of a marketing department most of her career would be a natural. That is not the case. Fact is, I'm horrible at  marketing myself. I can't explain.  I've been out of the corporate world for 12 years, but, I have worked on plenty of marketing programs --for someone else.
So, when my sister told me about things like Craftgawker and Handmadeology, I looked at them, but that's about it. No more. I just joined Handmadeology and I'm amazed at amount of great information they share and I'm kicking myself for not joining sooner. For example, the link below provides some simple, but very doable tips. Check it out.
Also, they are issuing a challenge. You can read about that right here.

Anyway, join the challenge and by the way, check out my shops (I'm MARKETING).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

When I Crave Organization, I Go to My Office

I have to admit it....my closet, it's getting organized, but it will never be the stuff you see in magazines, on other people's blogs, or on Pinterest. Well, you may see it on this blog, but it's not pretty. However, it is getting very organized and it's working for me, so that's something, isn't it? 
I'm almost done with the closet, but the husband has to do something with his overwhelming collection of  tee shirts, golf balls and crap before I can show you it (it takes over half of the closet). Just so you don't think I'm making this up, here's a peek (okay, that's my pink robe, in case you're wondering):
I admit it, my sections weren't much better--actually worse.
Anyway, on to my office, which I now partially share with my husband (although he uses it for storage more than anything, hence the bigger than life armoire).

The office is to the right when you come in the front door, so I have to keep it clean. This can be a challenge because it's where I used to store my etsy inventory. No more... it's now in my semi-organized closet.

The only things I keep in my office now for the shop are my mailing envelope, stamps, and postage scale. The rest are files and books that I use to write my articles.

Speaking of articles, I store my back issues in magazine holders that I got at Target and Ikea. Current issues go here in my old tool box:

My pencils, pens, markers are collected in this little plant holder thingie. 
So, now I need to go back to reality...the rest of the house.
Cottage & Vine