Monday, January 28, 2013

Pantry Organization - Before and Almost Done . . .

Ok, so finally starting to get some more energy back (might be thanks to those McDonald's half-cut teas) so I decided to start tackling some organization jobs around my house. "Where to begin," I asked myself as I walked around my home rubbing my chin with a snarky look on my face. The answer was quite obvious!

The kitchen pantry after my family has had the run of the house.

The pictures should make it obvious why I chose the pantry however, you don't have the additional pleasure of the smell I was breathing. Ironically, the smell was not from the pantry but from an orange that had missed the trash can and was sprouting underneath the kitchen sink! Not so fresh! Now, I shouldn't complain. I do have some sort of pantry and I am happy to have a roof over my head (and the last pantry I had was under the stairwell and you could only squat in there and that is exactly what a opossum did - long, and really funny story, but for another post). The people who built our house, let's just say to be nice, did not think things through. My kitchen island is shaped like a triangle (ridiculous waste of space), the girls bathroom is only big enough for 1 person at a time (seriously not an over-exaggeration), and the pantry, while it looks fun and practical, is really just a HUGE pain-in-the-@$$! To get to anything in the back, you have to pull out the movable shelves in front. If you do it in a hurry, items have been known to throw themselves at you!

It's amazing how quickly stuff accumulates!
I did clean our the side doors and the movable shelves
in front before I remembered to take any photos.
Sorry about that!
Once I cleared everything out, I read labels.
Those pickles were "Best By 3/2010"!!!

So what's a girl to do when her pantry is a disaster? Hit the stores for the perfect organizational items. Now we have The Container Store opening up in March but I just couldn't wait that long. I hit up my local Bed, Bath and Beyond and the minute I walked in the store, they had exactly what I was looking for, right there on the end cap. It was literally like a light was shining from up-above right on it. Now I did a lot of Pinterest browsing and blog reading before heading to the store. I knew I was going to spend a lot of money but here's my reasoning. One blog lady had redone her pantry and it looked beautiful. She spent $48 on her containers; they were all purchased at the Dollar Store. She did comment that some of them had already broken but since they were cheap, she could easily replace them. Well, I have never been called cheap and was always told 3 things by my parents - Order what you want, eat what you order - Always buy the best you can afford - You get what you pay for. Yes, my parents did share other little pearls of wisdom with me but those came to mind first and two out of three actually apply here. I don't believe in wasting $48 for things that won't keep my food fresh (money running down the sink) or I have to replace every couple of weeks. Therefore, I armed myself with 12 coupons, yes, I said 12 and no, I have never appeared on Extreme Couponing. Did you know that you can use as many coupons, current or expired, all at the same time at B, B & B? I learned that the last time I was there and splurging on a Dyson cordless vacuum (again, a perfect example of you get what you pay for because that thing rocks and sucks . . . but only in a good way!).

I won't tell you my total but you could probably figure it out if you are good with math!!
My pretties! I did do some organizing in the fridge also but not
100% sure about that yet. The labels are still on while I decide if the spacing is ok.
I am almost ready to reveal my fridge and pantry makeover but still have to decide on labels. I do love the chalkboard labels but they are everywhere so not sure about them. Hopefully I will conquer this earth-shattering, mind-blowing dilemma and post you a finished project soon. Plus, I REALLY want to mark something off my To Do list. More photos to come but that is for another post!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ugliest Bathroom . . . Ever!

Ok, so 9 years ago when hubby and I were looking for new homes, I walked around this 1987 ::cough:: masterpiece ::cough:: and thought no freaking way! With the exception of the waterfront view, there was not one thing I liked about this house. On the other hand, we had outgrown our charming 1925 Old NE home and the plans the architect drew up (while beautiful) would have easily doubled our mortgage. This house had been on the market for over a year (it was obvious why), but after a lot of promises from my hubby, a little time sitting out in the backyard, and a truly good deal, this baby became our new home.

I immediately got to work on making some major improvements. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of my before photos when my old computer crashed. I do, however, have photos of my old master bath. Now this thing was hideous and I will let the photos speak for themselves. I did make a few "embellishments" if you will, to try to win two ugly bathroom contests I had entered where the Ugliest Bathroom would win a free remodel.  I did not even place and let me tell you, this bathroom was way worse than the winning ones. Maybe the contest folks thought there was no help for this room!

WARNING: The photos you are about to see may temporarily blind you, make you run screaming for your mommy or force you into a fetal position for the rest of the day (or at least until it is 5:00 and you can drink away the pain!). 

Note the large grey speaker on the upper part of the wall
and the beautiful fan/light. Sweet, right? 
Now I painted the cheesy flowers to try to poorly
"match" the lovely flowers on some of the pink tiles!
Yes, that is carpet and the brown blob is actually where we
had to remove lovely tiles because there was a leak in the tub.

Hand over my heart, the cabinets were extra low and
came just above my knee. My youngest, then 2, could easily
turn the water on and off without a stool!

We have now spent a small fortune but have finally remodeled this bathroom (it only took 5 years of living with this monstrosity!). It now looks beautiful but I will save those photos for another post!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Holy Hoarders Batman!

Not my house, thank goodness!
OMG! Ok, so I had never seen an episode of Hoarders on A&E but I stumbled across one last night and boy, was I grossed out.  I could not believe the way those people were living. It was disgusting looking into their fridges, their bathrooms, their beds, you get the idea. I literally had my skin crawling and the saddest thing was, this addicition of hoarding was tearing the families apart. One of the episodes I watched (yes, I watched two of them), the woman's husband was going to leave her. She fought so hard to keep all her stuff and took everything back into her apartment (thank God you don't live next to her), that her husband did leave and her son just managed avoiding going off to Child Protective Services! She was fighting over empty cardboard boxes, broken lamps, you name it. She really needs help but is just not ready to accept it.

Another Hoarders home.
Now, after I turned off the TV, I laid in bed for awhile and just started thinking. I know I am still recovering from surgery and on limited physical duty, but I just can't take my house the way it is. Granted, my mess is not as bad as the rooms above or the ones I saw on TV but I might just be one rat skeleton and a glass full of mold away from Hoarders!!

My storage area needing major love! 
No parking our car in this garage!
Now, I have always said I am a more-is-more person. That is just how I roll but after watching that show, I have vowed to GET RID OF STUFF! I have more than I need so in addition to my Mission Organization, I am also going to rid our house of stuff. I have probably 10 pieces of furniture to move out and countless decorating items I no longer use. I am going to eBay some, give away others and donate the rest. All junk must go! I refuse to become an episode of Hoarders so first thing this morning, I got up and cleaned out the fridge and freezer (baby steps!).

So, I will continue on my journey to organize and will make that job easier by purging at the same time, but that will be for another post!

P.S. I did just receive six boxes of stuff from Pottery Barn (yesterday BEFORE Hoarders) but most of that is utilitarian and will help me in my organizing quest. You'll see!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Ok, so while I am still recovering from surgery (Dr. told me yesterday I was doing too much too soon and had to rest the next couple of days - ugh!) I was able to haul myself to each room in my house. I sat there with my iPad and started a list of everything I want to do in that room this year. Now this doesn't include all the big things we still need to do like - replace all windows and outside doors, retile pool and repave decking, replace boat lift, you get the idea. However, there are some little things, some big things, things I can do, things I need my GTG (Go To Guy) to do, and some things I need someone else to do.

I just counted my list and I have 186 items! Yikes! So they run the gambit, I have everything on my list from reorganizing my pantry (did you know the Container Store is opening up in Tampa the weekend of March 16 near International Mall, organization heaven!!), touching up paint on the baseboards, adding some plants, restaining deck, buy a new mattress (you slide right off the bed if you get too close to the edge!), and obviously, the list goes on, and on, and on.

Well, I am not able to start on my list today, yes, it's driving me nuts, but hoping to start tackling it this weekend. I will share my progress with you as I actually progress - won't that be fun?!?! So what's a girl who has to rest suppose to do, play on Pinterest and come up with dozens of more ideas, on-line shop (did some serious damage at the other day!!), and brainstorm more ways to get this house together while staring at pine needles still sitting on my floor!! Egads!

So starting this weekend, things WILL BE happening, but that's for another post!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mission Organization

Ok, I think I start off every year (like many other folks) very excited about getting organized for the New Year. I always make plans, lists and get busy pinning on Pinterest. Now I made major strides last year, remember these beauties?

Turned an old TV armoire into a baking center.
Still looks this good!
Cleaned up the spice cabinet.
Found a home for our transient items!
Finally got the organization for my closet I wanted!
The hall closet now makes sense and it is easy to find what you are looking for.
But then I have this lovely sight.
(Note, all those plastic bags in the background are now gone
as those were items for the Winter Store at my daughter's school.)
My little butler pantry definitely needs some love.
Holiday and regular storage totally needs to be reorganized.
So my plan for my house for the new year is simple, I am going to go to each room, sit there, and just look at the room with fresh eyes. I will come up with a list of things that need to be done . . . replace curtains, touch-up trim, fill frames . . . and then I am going to create a master list for each room. I will then assign a week to each room and that will be my main focus for the week. I already have a long list for my GTG (Go To Guy) to give me quotes for some home improvements I can't do, so hoping to finally get over that organization hump.

It may just be in my head but I swear my home (meaning the people who live in it) is more balanced when the house is organized. When it's messy (like right now for instance!!), there is more arguing, running late and basic chaos. My new plans will test my theory but that will be for another post!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy New Year . . . Part Deux

Ok, time to finish December and FINALLY face facts that it is January 8th!

My youngest made this at school.
They had to do blueprints first, then figure out all the building supplies they would need.
Next they had to add up all the costs and then construct it.
I think the finished product just looks great!
(No comment about the items laying behind the reindeer on the top -
they fell out when I moved him for the photo!!) 

Next on our holiday plans was my annual cookie exchange.
I did not take ONE picture of that night because I always have too much fun
catching up with all my friends!
I do however have photos of my containers for my cookies.
I took Dollar Tree glass jars, sprayed them with frosted sealer, painted glue
on the side and sprinkled the glue with Martha Stewart glitter
(I have a slight addiction to that stuff!!). I then hot glued a snowflake
ornament to the front and I think they look great!
Truth be told, the containers were better than my cookies!!
Our Christmas Eve tradition is the early service at church,
then we look at lights on the way to visit one of our favorite families in the whole world
(The Griffins), after a quick visit,
we head home and the girls get to open one gift that is always cute holiday jammies,
we eat dinner by the fire and watch the Christmas Story.
I just love Christmas Eve!
First gifts of the morning are always stockings.

Being silly!
We have always done colored lights on our family tree and when I mentioned
to the girls I wanted to do white lights, they both protested!
Our last big event of the year was that I had to go into the hospital
for a hysterectomy. I know, big fun, right?
I have really been uncomfortable for the past couple
of months so it was something that needed to be done.
I am still sore and on strict restrictions from the doctor but go Friday
for my first follow-up and will hopefully be able to resume
some sort of regularity!
Now do you understand while Christmas is still up?
So that basically catches you up with my family. We have a long list of things we want to have done around the house. We are planning a few small vacations this year as we are taking a VERY big one the summer of 2014 but I will fill you in on our goals for the year but that is for another post!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year . . . Finally!

Well yes, I am ashamed to admit it but it has been seven weeks since my last post (not a Catholic but totally sounds like a confession, doesn't it?!?).  This holiday season is truly a blur (thanks to some really good drugs - prescription of course - but back to subject). I will give you half a quick catch-up and then start fresh in 2013.

We ate turkey (fried by my husband and delicious), I took the girls to the So You Can Think You Can Dance show, and let me stop there for a minute. I have seen some of the best dancers perform, The Joffrey Ballet (with Ron Reagan, Jr., LOL!), Alvin Ailey, The London Royal Ballet, but the SYTYCD show was hands-down, one of the best I have ever seen!! The girls and I got into the TV show during the summer and it is the only show I have ever voted for . . . like ever! We loved Cyrus and was bummed when he lost but understood that Cheon was a better dancer. What we really loved was that they performed some dances from the show and some new ones. It was a nice evening with the girls and we are excited for the next season.

Right after that, the girls played hooky from school and we headed to NYC for our first NYC Christmas ever. We had the absolute best time and would love to make it an annual trip so here's a quick recap -

Saw our first Broadway show ever (mine included) and we chose Wicked.
It was fantastic and the fact that I was able to get a double wine made me love it even more!!
After the show we had to check out all the city lights.
Love the big ornaments!

The whole family at the famous Rockefeller Center tree.
It was big and beautiful (kind of like me?). 

Caitlin acting like Elf on the Macy's OLD escalator.
That store was SO crowded, we bought one ornament and got out.
Enjoying our first real holiday windows. They were truly worth it.
Of course, we HAD to visit One Direction World.
For those not in the know (which was me a couple of months ago)
One Direction is an all boy band put together by Simon Cowell.
My youngest has a major crush on Harry Styles,
one of the members, so here she is signing the wall at 1DW.
This was a window at Sak's. The whole display constantly turns so the snow globes
were always in motion. We all agreed they had the best windows
(and not just because I know someone who works there!).
Later that night, one of our gifts to the girls was the Z100 Jingle Ball Concert
The had an impressive line-up this year - One Direction, Taylor Swift, Olly Murs,
Cher Loyd, Ed Sheeran, The Wanted, Ne-Yo, B.O.B., Jason Mraz, Justin Beiber, and my
personal favorite FUN. It was the best way to see a lot of acts and hear all their hit songs.
Basically the band came out, sang their hits and they were gone.
I knew every song that was sung! 
Taylor Swift performing. We were super close to the stage but had the seats behind it.
I loved those seats as we were able to see everyone getting ready to go out and perform.
We met up with one of my husband's college buddies and his family for a great brunch
at Sarabeth's. The food was fantastic. We then all walked through the park and
watched the ice skaters and played on the rocks. A really nice was to spend the day.
After that, we met up with one of my husband's colleagues and his partner.
They were staying at the beautiful Dream hotel so we all had drinks
and then got to see Times Square from their room (the only balcony room in the entire hotel).
I will add that picture when we get it.
We left them and ran (practically) to Smith and Wollensky's for a great steak dinner.
We always have a great meal there.

We decided to see one more show before heading home and we chose Mamma Mia.
Now us getting from S&W was quite an adventure. NYC during the holidays is always busy.
The valet could not get us a cab but did get us a hired car. This driver was the
craziest driver I have ever ridden with. He went around an ambulance with it's lights on,
got into a yelling match with a traffic cop (according to him, no real power) and
got us to the theater on time! My heart is still racing!
The show was wonderful and you can't help but tap your toes and singalong!
One last stop with all the lights.
Once home, I was full steam for my youngest daughter's school's Winter Store. This has always been a favorite event of mine and will be my last one ever so I decided to be in charge of this year's. I had been busy shopping for the past year - I had a garage full of merchandise and couldn't wait to get rid of it!

I always tell everyone my Winter Store story so I will share with you - real quick - why it's important to me. During my oldest daughter's first year at Lakeview, she went shopping at the Winter Store and bought me a pink ring. My real wedding ring had been stolen a couple of years before (by a house painter) and we were saving up to buy me a new one. When I opened the ring, my daughter said it was because I was a great mommy and I deserved to have a wedding ring. I immediately burst into tears, put the ring on and did not take it off for at least a year. My finger turned green and some of the stones fell out but I still wore it.

Isn't it a beaute?
Well ok, that takes us to the middle of the month so I will stop here for right now! I am beat recapping and really need to go start taking down our Christmas. Yeah, I know it's the 7th, no judgement!

The second half of December to come but that is for another post!