Category Archives: organize that

Climbing the Ladder Toward the Finishing Touches

I was looking through Pinterest earlier this year, and found this idea I loved that worked with my decor and even fit into my budget.  I just had to get the renovations to a place where we were ready to start adding the finishing touches.  Well, we’ve finally made it to that point in the living room, so I decided that this week would be the perfect time to try and recreate the Blanket Ladder I found…

I have several crocheted blankets that I’d love to display in my living room, but I don’t want the dogs to destroy them.  This project seems like the perfect solution to that problem.  I started by gathering the materials I needed: 2 5 foot pieces of 2×4, 4 17 inch pieces of 2×6, 16 2 1/2 inch wood screws, a drill (with a working battery), a rag and stain.  Once I had everything together, I stained all of the wood pieces and let them dry over night.

stain the wood

When the pieces were dry, I grabbed the tape measure and my drill.  I laid out the rungs of the ladder along the rails based on the measurements provided in the pin.  She wanted 4 rungs spaced 12 inches apart starting 3 inches from the to of the rails.  I decided to remove the final rung, because I liked the visual spacing better.  I also didn’t use pocket holes, because I’m too cheap to purchase a $100 Kreg Jig.  The design of the piece is rustic/industrial so face nailing the rails worked within the design.  After I had everything measured out, I used 2 screws for each side of each rung to secure the 2×6 pieces between the 2×4 rails.

laying out the rungs securing the rungs between the rails

After all 3 rungs were secured, I stood the ladder up and placed some of my blankets.  I’m not sure if I like the ladder.  I think that it’s not level, but it stands and the rails show level.  Maybe it’s just my crooked old house…

waiting for balnkets   $10 Blanket Ladder




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The Incredible Shrinking… Wardrobe!

On Wednesday I usually write about whatever craft project I have completed this week, but not today.  Today I am going to talk about something a bit different.  Why, you ask?  Well, because I haven’t actually finished this week’s project yet.  I was so overwhelmed and distracted by the Spring Cleaning task I took on this week, that between it and work there just wasn’t enough time for much else.  What kind of Spring Cleaning project could possibly be that overwhelming?  Going through, pairing down, and reorganizing my entire wardrobe!

What on Earth would make me want to tackle that monumental of a task?  We recently moved from Long Island, NY to Akron, OH.  We also went from living in extremely tight quarters (we’re talking less than a studio apartment small) to a 3 bedroom house.  I’ve changed jobs and lost 2 full sizes worth of weight; however, the biggest factor in this project was the design of the master closet.  The master is the last room we need to tackle, in order to get our house to place we want it to be.  The room became closetless when we remodeled the bathroom, so I get to design my closet from scratch.  In order to do that I needed to know exactly what I’m going to have to stuff into the new and improved closet space.  That’s what brought me to taking on this project now…  An influx of universal indicators that screamed at me to get off my ass and go through all of the boxes, tubs and suitcases.

I literally touched every piece of clothing, every single shoe, every boot, and every purse, hat or glove I own in the last 48 hours.  I started the project with great enthusiasm and optimism, but as I continued the process, it became harder and harder.  I evaluated whether each piece was something I liked, if it fit, and if it was something I couldn’t’ live without replacing if it didn’t meet the 2 previous criteria. I literally touched it all.  It was an amazing amount of stuff.

I’ve come to several conclusions during this process…

  1. I had approximately a metric ton of clothing
  2. I have officially left the “Plus Size” category of Women’s Clothing (and NEVER intend to return)
  3. I probably kept more than I should’ve
  4. I still need to replace some items with better fitting substitutions
  5. A woman can NEVER have too many shoes!
  6. I’m going to get a minor windfall of cash when I bring the “NO Pile” to Clothes Mentor!

Can you say consignment??   My Shoes!!!   The Keepers

I’ll keep you posted about the continued progress on the closet, but now that this is mostly finished (I still need to put away the clean clothes, wash some more laundry, bring the toss pile to the consignment shop, … oh it really is a never ending project!), I should be able to get back to my regularly scheduled craft projects.

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Harder than it looked…

OK, so now that the holiday season is behind us, I can get back to trolling my Pinterest lists for projects to improve my home.  My living room is almost completely finished (it just needs a piece of art professionally framed and an area rug – which I am either going to make myself or stumble upon something perfect), so I am moving on to the dining room.  We found a great dining room table at a local 2nd hand shop (Abbey Ann’s), and have been collecting dining room chairs (most of which need reupholstering) for quite a while now.  Which leaves the accessory furniture.  Gwen wants a bar, but I hate the way they look.  I want a bookshelf, but Gwen says we have too many already.  So we are going to have to compromise…  which drove me to search my Projecty Type Stuff board on Pinterest.

That’s where I found these 2 options:

Option 1

Option 2

It was amazing – we actually agreed the first time.  We chose Option 1, but ended up making some modifications to the original design.  It came out great, even if I do say so myself!

First, I had to navigate away from the pin’s original destination to a previous post on the connected website to find a supply list for the project, which was a pain, but a creative way to generate additional blog hits.  It wasn’t on the connected page, I had to click on a link within the post and go to another page to get the specific and extensive supply list.  I purchased everything that they listed at my local hardware superstore.

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Supply List

4 – 48″ 2×12 white wood boards

grey stain

2 – 1/2″ (diameter) x 2″ (length) pipe

4 – 1/2″ x 6″ pipe

4 – 1/2″ x 10″ pipe

12 – 1/2″ x 12″ pipe

4 – 1/2″ x 18″ pipe

6 – 1/2″ flanges

2 – 1/2″ female-female elbows

14 – 1/2″ T fittings

8 – 1/2″ pipe to wood straps with screws

Once we had all the supplies, we sanded and stained the 4 pieces of wood weathered grey.  While they were drying we tried (unsuccessfully) to clean off the black pipes the original crafter used.  They were turning everything they touched black (including skin and clothing).  They just wouldn’t come clean; so, because we were planning on using the shelf in our dining room and didn’t want to have to deal with the black getting all over everything, we ended up exchanging the pipes for galvanized (silver) pipes instead.  The galvanized pipe is more expensive, but my local hardware super store will cut larger lengths to size for you if you are willing to wait.  We were happy to wait and in the end it made the silver pipes slightly less expensive than the original black ones.

Then it was time for the actual assembly.  This is where it got slightly tricky.  There were no actual direction in the original pin, just a couple of photos of the person putting their shelf together.  Which meant that we were pretty much just playing it by ear.  So, I’m going to spell it out for you guys, because it was annoying to have to try and guess which length pipe went where.

You start from the bottom and work your way up.  First take a flange and insert the 6″ pipe.  The pipes are threaded on both sided, so you can just turn it into the flange.  Then repeat that for another flange and 6″ pipe.  Those become the feet for one side of the shelf.  Then attach a T fitting to each of the 6″ flange combos you just made, with the T shape laying down.  photo 2 (22)

Then take a 12″ pipe and connect the two T fittings you just secured so that the pipes look line a lowercase n.

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Then attach 2 18″ pipes to the base you just made.  One pipe goes in each empty T connection.

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Then add 2 more T fittings, just like the two you added earlier, and connect them with another 12″ pipe.  You are going to want to use a pipe wrench to tighten the center pipe, because of the way the pipes are threaded on each side.  You don’t want to make one side too tight, because then the other side won’t stay attached.  Believe me, it was annoying when this happened, until we figured out what to do.

photo 1 (20)

Next add 2 more 12″ pipes, one on each side, followed by 2 more T fittings with another 12″ pipe connecting them.  Then add 2 10″ pipes to the top of the T fittings.  Once you have the 10″ pipes on, you have to secure and elbow to the front of the structure and a T fitting to the rear.  However, this T fitting is going to be facing the other way from the ones you’ve already used.  The cross of the T should be parallel to the floor.  Once you have the T attached to the 10″ pipe you need to screw in a 2″ pipe pointing away from the other 10″ pipe (the one with the elbow attached).  Then attach a flange to the 2″ pipe you just put on.

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Once you have the T/2″pipe/flange combo and the elbow secured, connect the 2 10″ pipes to each other with a 12″ pipe.  Now you have one side of the shelf frame completed.  Take a breather and repeat the process for the other side.


Once you have the 2 side frames, the original directions showed the wooden shelves laying across the tops of each of the 12″ cross pipes.  Let me tell you that just didn’t work in my house.  My floors aren’t level and my walls aren’t perfectly plumb.  (I mean come on the house is almost 100 years old!), the thing fell over 3 times before I got so annoyed that I decided we needed to do something to make the shelves more stable.  So, we used pipe straps (they are U shaped metal things that a plumber uses to make sure pipes stay tight to the joists in the floor or studs in walls) and secured the side frames to the shelves.  We turned the hole thing upside down and secured each shelf with one 1/2″ pipe strap on each side to the wood shelves with screws.  I left a 2″ over hang on each side for aesthetics.

photo 2 (24)

Then we turned it over and attached it to the wall using the top flanges and screws with a very wide head.

Once we had it in place we started loading it with all of the stuff waiting on my dining room table for a home.  That’s when I decided I liked how the unit looked with 3 shelves instead of 4.

IMG_4509     photo 4 (17)

Once we removed the top shelf, we loaded the rest of the stuff on.  All the alcohol and vases went on the bottom shelf.  The shaker and assorted glasses went on the second shelf, and my cookbooks are on the top shelf.

photo 5 (11)

Which way do you like better, 3 shelves or 4?

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Time to start saving for our next vacation…

This week’s Pinterest project is not exactly like the example, but I did try and follow the general intentions of the project.  I really used it as a jumping off point to design the project I really wanted…

I found this pin for a Disney Stache Jar,

and liked the idea, but I’m not crazy about the whole mustache thing, so I decided to change things up…

I went with something that would fit better with my home decor, so I chose a square jar and simple black glass paint.

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I also modified the words that I used on the jar.  I made it say “Vacation Fund” in the Walter font (which is the free version of the Disney font).  I chose to do this, because while we are probably going to use the savings for our next trip to Disney, you never know where we may end up going next…

Once I had my words laid out, I cut them out and taped the stencil to the inside of the jar, so I could trace the words in paint.

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Then I traced the letters with a skinny round brush and my black glass paint.


I let it dry, removed the stencil and filled in any voids in the paint.

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This is my end result with the beginnings of next year’s vacation fund already growing inside…

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Time to Spice Things Up…

This week’s Pinterest project is actually an ongoing kitchen experiment…  A while back, in my Tasty Tuesday – Tacos post I mentioned that we use a homemade taco seasoning instead of the store bought packets.  I promised you all that I would share the recipe that I use to make this seasoning mix and this is the week I’m going to hold up my end of that bargain.  Now, I’ve found dozens of different recipes on Pinterest for all types of kitchen seasonings and while I absolutely love to play around in the kitchen, I really don’t like to use anything prepackaged if I can avoid it.  I’m also in the middle of a huge move, so my time is very limited, but we do have to eat and while in circumstances like these take out is easier it is also stupid expensive and not very healthy.  That being said, I couldn’t just make the Taco Seasoning when we ran out, I had to try 4 other recipes while I was playing mad kitchen scientist.

This week I put together our regular Taco Seasoning, tried out an alternative Taco Seasoning, made Outback style steak seasoning, whipped up a variation of Onion Soup mix (that I’m not so sure about – the recipe called for sugar, so I’m a bit put off and may have to play with it next time around) and finally after hunting down dried buttermilk mixed up some Ranch Seasoning.  I got each of these recipes from Pinterest, and can’t wait to use them and figure out how I can tweak them to become more my own, because we all know how well I do at following directions and measuring exactly.

The recipes are usually very straight forward.  Take some of these different spices and put them in an empty, clean, dry jar (I use small mason jars).  Once everything is in the jar seal it and shake the jar to combine the spices.

First I washed all my mason jars, and gathered my ingredients…

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Ranch Dippy Mix

Ranch Dippy Mix

Onion Soup Mix

Onion Soup Mix

Taco Seasoning - Experimental Version

Taco Seasoning – Experimental Version

Outback Steak Seasoning

Outback Steak Seasoning

Taco Seasoning - Our Standard Version

Taco Seasoning – Our Standard Version

Once I had everything all sorted out, I started measuring each of the ingredients into the corresponding jars.  Like I said this is a ridiculously easy project and so much better for you than all the prepackaged chemicals and preservatives.

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Then I shook the jars to mix it all up and stored the new made mixes in my pantry.  I had an alterior motive to doing this project this week, I needed to make sure that we had enough Taco Seasoning for next week’s Tasty Tuesday Recipe!

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Organizing Things…

I am admittedly a bit OCD.  That being said I am slightly compulsive about organizing things.  It calms me down to have an orderly space and streamlined schedule.  I have learned overtime, that you cannot be to rigid in your own constraints, because the rest of the world does not usually operate in the same orderly manner that you do…

Because of a huge kerfuffle in my life almost all of my possessions are currently in storage, which makes my organizational systems harder to use.  However, it also gives me the opportunity to work my way through everything and make sure that it is all in the appropriate box, bin, bag or tub so that unpacking it once we get to our new destination will be a breeze.  Now of course, that’s assuming we get exactly the space I am looking for (or dreaming of really) in our new home.

Which brings me to today’s blog topic…  Squeezing everything into one small space.  The only way I have found to do this is to organize everything into sections in the confined space.  I have spent the last several days doing just that.  I have the storage area separated into categories.  Along one wall I have all of the clothing (including bags, shoes, and suitcases) grouped together, then the books, followed by the arts & crafts stuff, then the DVDs, board games & puzzles.  The next section is the tools, kitchen stuff, and decorations.  On the opposite wall all of the furniture is lined, stacked, and piled together.  The electronics (with a few minor exceptions – can’t live without the iPad or laptop) are piled on any and all available flat surfaces.

Now you may think I’m off my rocker, but I swear it really does make life easier.  Especially when you need to find that one specific book for your final presentation for a Graduate Class in literacy, or the piece of fabric to reupholster the antique settee that your grandmother gave you, or even the 3rd season of Nurse Jackie because there’s no cable where you are staying right now and your brain might explode from all the quiet.


photo photo (2)  photo (1)

Next on the organizational horizon:  a house hunting checklist!  I’m totally open to suggestions, as this is not something I’m overly familiar with.

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It’s the little things…

No matter how crazy my world seems to get one of the things that keeps me balanced and somewhat grounded are my daily checklists.  I know it’s geeky and OCD and all that, but the structure of having a set list of tasks to accomplish one after the other makes my seemingly unmanageable life more manageable.

I use an app on my iPhone and iPad called Paperless to make and organize my list, well lists.  I use multiple lists: a daily list for each day of the week, a list (actually 3 separate lists) of my bills, a list of calls I have to make, a list of the stuff I need to do on the computer, a list of the errands I need to run, a list of the projects I’m working on, a list of the school stuff I have coming due, and a catchall list for at the other stuff I have to take care of.

I keep standard items that occur everyday on the daily lists, as well as items tied to a scheduled day of the week (my dad’s dialysis treatments are every Monday, Wednesday & Friday so they are always listed on those days).  I flesh out the rest of my daily schedule each night before bed from the other lists.  It usually takes me about 10 minutes to reset the list I used that day and set up my list for tomorrow.

I know this system won’t work for everyone, but it certainly helps me.  It took me a long time to get to the place where not getting to everything on my list doesn’t mess with my  head, but because the list system I use has a counting function when I look at the number of things I managed to get done it somehow makes not finishing everything easier to take in stride.  I also have to make sure I include time to decompress in my day to day life, so I always include at least one item from my projects list and some reading time.

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