Sunday, February 26, 2012

"No, I do not hoard JELL-O" guest post!

Back in November, I mentioned that BFF-J and I took over her kitchen and reorganized the heck out of it. She's here to tell you her interpretation of events. Take it away, J!

I'm not a hoarder.  Really, I'm not.  There are neither unopened boxes of crap purchased on eBay crowding my hallways and creating a fire hazard nor food in my fridge that looks a like a junior high science experiment gone awry. I am guilty, however, of finding twenty four boxes of jell-o in my cabinets.  I blame the jell-o infestation on one simple problem:  there is no pantry in my house.

IMHO, this would be a much better use of jell-o...

How does one buy a house without a pantry?  Easy.  The house is chosen before completion and two first time home buyers ASSume that there will be a pantry somewhere in their shiny new abode.  Alas, on move-in day, the question was finally asked. "Hey, Honey, where is the pantry?" Sadly, there wasn't one to be found.

Sooooo, fast forward quite a few years and two rug-rats later and the pantry-less kitchen is in utter chaos. Said chaos has spilled over to nearly every other part of the house. There is no rhyme or reason to where anything is stored and grocery planning is a complete nightmare. Hence the existence of the abominable jell-o stash.

It was at this point that I realized I had to seek expert advice.  I needed divine intervention or the services of a certified domestic engineer  Since neither the great and powerful Oz nor Martha Stewart were available, I sought help from the next best thing:  my BFF, MBG, hater of clutter and purger extraordinaire.  The date was set and the countdown began.  Spurred on by the impending arrival of my own personal disorder exterminator, I first tackled my laundry room and master bedroom closet.  I became great friends with the collection lady at my neighborhood Goodwill after bringing no less than sixteen garbage bags and four giant re-purposed boxes of stuff. I considered it like preparing for a 5k. Or the Sugar Bowl. Maybe even an epic battle.   I had to be ready when my trainer/coach/master sergeant arrived.

The big day arrived, which just so happened to coincide with Black Friday.  I cut my shopping day short and went home before lunch to take a power nap.

When MBG and her crew arrived, my little devil dragged her little angels into the playroom and the great re-org of 2011 began in ernest. Every single thing was emptied from every cabinet in the kitchen, the hall closet and the old TV armoire which had been doing duty as additional kitchen storage.  My shiny new iMac was waiting in the wings for its new home in the living room.  Under the direction of MBG, like items were grouped together and inventory was taken. Actually, it was more like re-direction and more re-direction as my ADD meds had long since worn off.  Luckily, MBG has lots and lots of experience dealing with those of us who need that type of assistance ;).
About 20% of the stuff pulled from the armoire.

Work in progress...

We called in reinforcements in the form of my husband being dispatched to my favorite pizza joint for sustenance.  With full bellies and plans in mind, we took a quick trip to Target for supplies and then the real fun began.  In the words of the late great Ben Franklin: "A place for everything, everything in its place." 


Bakeware and small appliances were all re-located to the hall closet just off the kitchen. Canned goods, which had formerly been in three different places were put all together in the can racks in the utility room.  Seldom used party ware and serving pieces were placed in sealed bins and relegated to the new black Friday special shelves in the garage.  Coffee, tea and their accoutrements together in one cabinet, food in three others, all the pots and pans in the two next to the stove and finally drink ware and plates/bowls in the top two near the microwave. My favorite part?  I finally had a good home for my at-home coffee bar. 

Why, yes, you do want to have coffee at my house!

It was only 3 AM.  And definitely time for wine.

I wanted to kill, or maybe just severely main, my not-so-dear husband when he wandered into the kitchen for breakfast and said "3 AM, really?  Nothing looks different." 

Seriously?  SERIOUSLY? 

Fortunately for him, he avoided certain death as he recognized the scary-as-all-hell look on my face and tone of my voice when I suggested that he look in the armoire and cabinets.  This time, he had the right answer and heaped mounds of praise upon me and MBG for being the answer to his prayers and making our kitchen the epitome of domestic bliss (or something veeerryyy close to that).

Well, it's been three months since the intervention, and I am happy to say that I have not relapsed.  I have even cleaned out my office/overflow junk room and put a treadmill in there to help me get ready for my first 5k!

All hail MGB, my personal domestic goddess and queen of organization!

Now, if I can only bribe her into taking on my kids' closets...


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Moving again :(

Oh man, that title is such a fake-out, I almost feel bad.

This weekend, BG and I did so much whole-room reorganization, that it felt like we were moving in all over again. At one point, both of the kid bedrooms were empty. There are only two kid bedrooms in this giant house... #158,765,233 in the uniqueness column.

Last April, when we first moved in, we had a nursling (in our room), a little tot in a crib (in his own room), and two big girls who shared bunk beds (in the bigger room). Since the baby weaned at 14 mos, we had a tot in her crib (in her own room), a big girl in a single bed (in the office, because she could no longer stand the nocturnal wildness of the sister 28 mos her junior), and two middle children who wandered and thieved in the night (in the bigger room--or occasionally the kitchen, hallway, or bathroom where they once created an unholy mess with their preferred medium, baby powder).

We never did a proper re-org when the kids played musical rooms, and we were living in chaos. W's clothes were in C's room; C's clothes were in our room; V's clothes migrated into E's dresser drawers; E's clothes were everywhere they shouldn't be. I found dirty socks in a lunchbox under her bed, I kid you not. I couldn't take it any more. This weekend, it all changed.

Since the big one (E) and the little one (C) share sleeping patterns, we put them in the bigger room together. It was such an obvious solution, we wondered why we had not done it sooner. Of course then we remembered the whole nursing/night feeding thing that was my life 9 mos ago. Babies do grow up so quickly, don't they?

The two middle beasts, who could stand a little more oversight, are bunked in the smaller room. It is closer to the hallway entrance to the main living area, so we can hear every move they make. Heh. One step toward the baby powder, and I'm turning the hose on them.

I went through dressers, purged and sorted clothes, washed about 15 loads of "is this clean? how can anyone be sure?" laundry, and then labeled drawers with small adhesive chalkboards from this etsy shop. BG and I also took this opportunity to purge and organize toys. THE TOYSSS. We feel like such conspicuous consumers. And I mean that in a totally gross way. It was cathartic to bag up three Hefty (Target knock-off) sacks of stuff to toss and donate.

Now the bedrooms are actually functioning like bedrooms instead of playrooms. The kids have their sleeping space and books on their shelves. The toys, which are on the ballroom shelves, are where we will be forced to keep a keen eye on their operation and maintenance. I'm slowly but steadily reaching my goal of becoming so hyper-organized that my house is generally picked-up-ish at all times. JUST TRY TO CATCH MY HOUSE LOOKING EMBARRASSING NOW, GIRL SCOUTS WITH YOUR DELICIOUS COOKIE SALES AND EXTEMPORANEOUS KNOCKING.

No pics this time. I would have had to show you the shelves before they're done. BG and I needed a break from trim and paint and construction materials. Showing pics now would make the big taaa-daaaah! post so super anti-climactic. I love you all too much for that.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My circle of friends just got famouser!

I read for escape. Sometimes it's post-apocalyptic young adult dystopian love triangles, sometimes it's literary marriage plots, and sometimes it's non-fiction that teaches me something new about our world. The words give me precious moments of respite from the daunting projects that are closing in.

You guys... you must head over to my dear friend EB's blog and enter her giveaway. EB is a novelist. She interviewed a friend, C. Hope Clark, who is also a novelist. And she's giving away an autographed copy of  Hope's new book.

Do it! DO IT NOW! You're welcome!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Organizing the progeny

Last weekend, a neighbor and I chatted about how I store my kids' activities and important school stuff in mah brain, which is getting a little rusty. It's also not transparent, which causes issues for BG when he needs access to the information. The kindly neighbor suggested, "You need one of those calendars blogs always talk about but no one actually uses!" Ding!

To Amazon I went, and to my door this evening, the Brewster Wall Pops calendar was delivered.
For $12.99 with free super-saver shipping, I think it's a good deal. It's large, it's dry-erase, and it's peel-and-stick (but removable!). I'm in love.

I've already plotted out February. Each kid has a color. BG and I have our own colors. My head feels less fuzzy since it emptied many of its contents into our new family info center. There might even be space for Sudoku in there now!

Monday, February 6, 2012

You miter not be a carpenter if...

BG and I have been working like crazy people to get four book cases like this


to look less depressing.

We had a few goals for this project:
--Provide organization for toys
--Create zones in the vastness that is the ballroom (family room, play room, homework/art zone)
--Accommodate photo frames and fun storage baskets we've accumulated but lack the surface area to display

The first two steps were to paint the shelves and procure MDF to make the cases sturdier and nicer looking. I used two Allen and Roth colors from Lowe's--Elegance and Liberty Bell. These are looking really pukey on my monitor, but in person they are both warm grays. Elegance went on the shells (shelves, sides) and Liberty Bell on the sheets of MDF. How I regret not painting them in something more punchy. I thought they would really sing in a contrasting gray, but because of the shadows and such, it just looks like... well gray. One day when I hate painting less, maybe I'll redo them. I can't actually imagine such a day will come, but one never knows.

After a few coats of Mod Podge Hard Coat on the shelves, BG and I screwed the painted MDF backings to the cases and played around with the configuration. We decided on an L-shape, with two book cases facing the future homework/art zone and two facing the new television viewing area <--which I have not mentioned until now. Blog post of the future. The right angle creates a really nifty play zone for the kidlets and hides some of the big plastic stuff.



Oh wait, that looks like crap.

BG and I knew we needed to get some trim happening. The problem is that trim confounds me. I walk through the aisle of trim at the home improvement store and think: Whaaa? This book case situation just got a whole lot more expensive. And scarier. This is not what I had planned for our Sunday!

On my first trip to Home Depot yesterday, I stared a lot and did some calculations. I bought one wee rosette, like this (except 2" instead of 3-and-some-odd") and stood in front of the monstrosity we had created. More math, more visualization, back to Home Depot.

On my second trip to Home Depot yesterday, I bought five 8' lengths of fluted casing, like this. It would be enough to trim out the homework-zone facing shelves, and if that didn't fail catastrophically, I'd go back again and buy more. Why not just buy the materials for the entire project and return them if they appeared not to be working? See: "confounds me" above. I was not thinking clearly.

On my third trip to Home Depot yesterday, I purchased three more lengths of fluted casing, the last of the rosettes, and shoe molding. GAH! Shoe molding! We got away with avoiding miter cuts all day, but when it came to the molding, two 45*s were required.

If you've never cut adjoining 45* angles, give it a shot. You have to think in upside-down mirror image. My brain rejects that proposition. Here's BG, killing it. He don't need no stinkin miter box.


And here's how he accomplished the cut without an assist (I was bathing kids, etc.):

^Pretty schmart. Give the man a ladder, clamp, liquid level, and handsaw, and he can rock your world.

As of 10PM last night, here's how our project looked:


It's not complete, of course. I have to paint the molding (uuuuuuuuuugh). Then the fun begins--organizing and placing stuff. One-and-a-half weekends, $200 in MDF and trim, and a lot of team work later, we accomplished the three goals for the book cases and learned we would really, truly suck as carpenters... except when it comes to BG's savant-like mastery of 45* angles.