Friday, February 25, 2011

Follow-Up to Monica's Closet

Here are my bookshelves. I couldn't get a shot of all five shelves because our futon is in the way of the bottom two. You get the idea though. This is the non-fiction shelf. The individual shelves are, for the most part, categorized further into Church, Reference, Photography, etc. I wasn't too big a stickler. If you look closely you'll see some intermingling. I like the idea that if I need to find a book, I know exactly where to look. In fact, I was looking at some Christmas gift ideas for Chance and I needed to see if he already owned a book I was considering. I went right to this shelf and spotted it within seconds. It was awesome.

The fiction shelf. Ah. It's funny but the non-fiction shelf is basically a few books away from being Chance's Shelf. The fiction shelf then, belongs mostly to me. :) You can see I have no problem stacking the books creatively to allow for decor and such. I also didn't break these shelves up into genre specific categories. The top shelf is my "antique" book collection. I LOVE old books. For college graduation I got a dictionary from 1908 that belonged to one of my great-grandparents. It's one of my most treasured possessions. Anyway, I digress. The next shelf was exclusively Harry Potter until my birthday. My best friend loaned me some books about writing fiction. I needed to keep them all safe and together so they are with HP. Her mom gave me those awesome frog bookends. Aren't they perfect for the Harry Potter collection?! The stack of books on the third shelf belongs to Chance. It was a lot shorter when I first organized the shelf but the public library had a ridiculously good book sale. AH! I can't keep myself from going off on tangents. I love books. Let's move on before your eyes cross and you give up on this post all together!

Under the bathroom sink. HA! How many of you would be willing to post a picture of THAT on the internet? Sorry about the flash on all these pictures. Without it everything is blurry. So I bought these blue totes at Wal-Mart for $2.50 each. The light blue handles fold into the tote to create a flat surface on which to hold another tote. Essentially they are stackable as long as you don't over-fill them.

I put all our bathroom stuff on the floor in the hall and sorted it into piles that made sense to me. Then I figured out what items need to be IN the bathroom and what items could go into the linen closet. Then I thought about which items are accessed the most. Those bins went on top.

The linen closet contains: towels (on the unpictured top shelf), Skin Care, Wound Care, Medicine, T.P, and extras. Here's a full view. Then I'll zoom in for you.

Our shelf of extras is basically just my bathroom supply version of food storage. I shop sales AND coupons to get good deals on Health and Beauty (H&B) items that we use frequently like shampoo, body wash, and deodorant. Chance and I are quite brand loyal when it comes to these things so that just makes sense for us. Having it all in one place allows me to know when I need to buy something. I just bought hand soap. They had seasonal scents for .99 each. I bought three. I usually buy those big refill containers but sometimes it's nice to change it up a bit. After organizing this shelf I banned myself from Bath and Body Works until my stock pile goes down a smidge. :)

Finally, the totes. Here are the categories I have, including the ones under the sink: Skin Care, Wound Care, Medicine, Feminine Hygiene, Hair Care, Travel Size, Make Over/Mani-Pedi; and Ears, Eyes, Nose, and Mouth. That last one is a weird one I know but bear with me.

Skin Care=Lotions, sunscreen, any kind of creme for bug bites or athlete's foot or whatever.

Wound Care= band-aids, neosporin, wound cleaner. We have more of this than the average household thanks to my accident. Also this bin came from the hospital. Ah, memories.

Medicine=Duh. Tylenol, NyQuil, anything really that one would take for an ailment. Except I put gas medicine and Immodium in our medicine cabinet in the bathroom. If we have a guest with an embarrassing need for one of these I want them to find it without having to ask. I'm thoughtful like that.

Feminine Hygiene and Hair Care= also duh.

Travel Size= I keep all travel size items handy for guests or when we travel. You often get these things free with a purchase of something else or you keep it after a hotel stay. Why throw it away?

Make Over/Mani-Pedi= This tote is really girly. I have those packets of face masks, nail polish, biore strips.

Ears, Eyes, Nose, and Mouth= Weird name but it makes total sense. Nasal spray, eye drops, orajel, mouth wash. See? They aren't medicines per se, so they all go here. :)

Anyway, the best advice is to sort your stuff into categories that work for you. If you are like most people and you have one box of bandaids and a tube of neosporin you might not want to devote a whole bin to wound care. Or if you aren't OCD about pinching pennies and you throw out travel size stuff you won't need a bin for it! These categories just worked for us.

Finally, I took twenty minutes and made labels. I used card stock and ribbon that I already owned. (The ribbon was from our wedding announcements). It didn't cost me anything but it has made keeping track of everything much easier.

Monica's Closet

So if you watched Friends my intro might make sense to you. If not, here's a little background:

On Friends there is a character named Monica (played by Courtney Cox). She is very Type A, super organized, and clean. However, there is a closet in her apartment that no one has ever seen. Eventually, curiosity gets the better of another character, Chandler, and he breaks into the mystery closet.

It is, obviously, packed to the rim with crap. It's her secret shame. I LOVE this episode. I am totally a Monica. I love organization, order, and cleanliness. I'm so organized that I sort other people's stuff.

**Tangential comment**When I go shopping with Tana I organize the stuff she picks out to try on. I'm bossy enough to get her to try on like items so she can avoid buying things that are too similar. Once, while staying the night with our friends Bryan and Emilie, I reorganized all their books so that non-fiction and fiction were not intermingled. It seemed to make sense at the time but now that I have typed it out I realize I have issues. **End Tangent Here**

Almost everywhere you go in my apartment you will see things neatly organized. There are bins in our linen closet with cute little labels like; Skin Care, Medicine, and Hair Products. Our DVDs are alphabetized. We have one book shelf unit for Fiction and one for Non-Fiction. You get the idea.

Well, the top drawer of my bedside table is my "Monica's Closet." Every 6 months it gets too full to open. It's out of hand!! Anyway, I didn't have the presence of mind to take a picture of the drawer before but I did take a picture of its contents.

Yeah. Intense.

Again, I regret not taking a picture of the process. I sorted into piles: meds, books and papers, lotions, and misc. You should have seen the piles. I had 4 bottles of lotion, 5 crossword puzzle books, 11 bottles of meds/vitamins. AUGH. Then I figured out what was trash, what could be put into a better home, and what made the cut to re-enter the drawer.

And...ta DA!

You can see the bottom! To give you an idea of my progress, the drawer is deep enough to hold a bottle of Bath and Body Works Lotion standing upright (as evidenced by the bottle of Exotic Coconut). Oh, and before you ask, YES...I do "take" Flintstones vitamins. :)

I kind of felt inspired by Thrifty Decor Chick to share with you my insanity. Maybe this will inspire one of you to buckle down and organize your own space. Even if you only get to one drawer it feels so good! It's lovely. Or maybe you'll open a completely disorganized closet and thank your lucky stars you aren't crazy like me!

I know that those of you with small kids are shaking your heads at my OCDism regarding books and DVDs. I'm sure I'll relax but I pray to have the power to brainwash my children into tiny little alphabetizers.

If I get enough interested feedback I will take pictures of places like under my bathroom sink, my bookshelves, and linen closet so you can see evidence of my organizational habits. Oh and if you ever want help organizing something, you know who to call. I LOVE it!

Valentine Before and After

I decided that I would link to Thrifty Decor Chick's February Before and After Party. I've never done this before but I'm so happy with how my little blocks turned out I couldn't resist.
I bought a box of 9 wooden blocks for about $3 at costco.
Painted them with cheap craft paint.
Then I Mod Podged scrapbook paper and Cricut cut letters onto the blocks. They went from Christmas to Valentines Day in one day. Plus the total project only cost about $5 and that is if you include the paint that I already owned!
Check out other cool Before and After Projects at TDC.

Valentine's Decor

Well kids, I've wanted to post this for a while but I've had a headache for the last seven days. I've had enough lucid hours in the day to enable me to keep up around the house but not much more. I still feel terrible but I really hate getting so far behind on my blog. So here are some pictures of the decor in place. I still have a couple more crafts that I am going to attempt but those are projects for tomorrow. I am going to a Girl's Night tomorrow and I plan to do a cute wreath that I saw on another blog. (I WILL go. I will NOT have a headache!) I'll keep you posted...
So right before Christmas we did a craft at church where we painted wooden blocks and applied cute paper and vinyl numbers to create countdown blocks. I made these as a Christmas gift for my sister-in-law. Here is a picture that I stole from her blog.
So fast forward a week or two and I find myself at Costco. They have these sets of wooden blocks for Christmas.
In this particular set there were 9 blocks of varying sizes. A box was just over $3. I freaked out. I'm sure I could get raw lumber for less than that but we don't have tools or a proper workspace. So, I bought 4 boxes. Chance was skeptical but even if I never looked at them again it was only like $12!!
So I experimented with sanding and painting the blocks. I learned that I need a power sander because I sanded until my hand burned and not a lot happened. So I used an old bottle of cream colored paint as "primer."
You can see how careful I am. :)
After I got the blocks painted I used Mod Podge (some people call it Modge Podge) to glue Valentine's paper to the blocks. I used my Cricut to cut out letters that I then glued to the blocks. Finally, you use the MP again as a finisher.
**Tip: I've heard some people complain that the paper will bubble during the process. I found that to be true when I got impatient and tried to do the finishing step before the first step was fully dry. When I left adequate time between each step I didn't have those problems.
Here is a beautiful picture Chance took of the finished product. For those of you who don't know or don't remember S.W.A.K. stands for Sealed With A Kiss.
Here's my version that was taken earlier that day. You probably can't tell but the mailbox didn't have a post. So I painted one of my blocks brown. These things are really multi-purpose!
So I previously blogged about my shopping spree at Target (if you haven't read that post don't worry but if anything is confusing it's because I am writing under the assumption that you're familiar with my story.)
So I bought this cute little mail box. I have this "Love Note" station set up on our little bureau (technically it's called a Low Boy). Anyway, the mailbox is what inspired the SWAK theme. After I got everything all set up I opened the mailbox and found that Chance had already written me a love note. He wanted me to find it when I finally put up the Valentine's decor. It was so fun and exciting to find a little note from my honey. My interactive decor has already worked!!
Chance took a close-up shot of the block I decorated to look like an envelope. I put on my darkest lipstick and kissed a piece of paper. I then cut out my lip prints and glued them right onto the block. Since I used MP to finish over the top the lipstick won't smudge!
Here are the other bits of decor that I bought at Target now that they are up around the house. I already owned all the fabric you'll see. The picture frame was one of the cheapies from Wal-Mart. I bought it to try a craft I saw on TDC but I didn't get the supplies in time. In desperation I just cut some scrapbooking paper and stuck it in the frame. I took the glass and the matte out of the frame so there wouldn't be a glare. I love it! First of all, I have already gotten so many different uses out of that paper! Secondly, I'm already excited about the endless possibilities of this frame idea.
So, we have this great bookshelf on Chance's side of the couch. I actually like this thing so much it is going to get it's own blog post tomorrow. Anyway, it's right by the front door so the Basket O' Mail is always on it. It has 6 cubes that I have filled with stuff we love. I put a nice blue micro-suede on top and, to insure that it stays in place, I...oh man...I stapled it down. I can't believe I just admitted that! Anyway, I never decorate it because I don't want to remove the blue fabric. This month I decided to put fabric over the top. If you come by, feel free to let me know if you think I'm pulling it off. I genuinely want to know!
I also used the little wreath I bought as a stand of sorts for the lamp. I intended to put a candle holder in the middle but Chance's lamp fit so nicely I just left it.
Then there is my side table.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I spent another $1 and bought a roll of tulle at JoAnn's. It helped finish everything off.
Share the LOVE by letting me know what you think and what kind of fun things you have up around your place!

You're my inspiration! Thrifty Decor Chick

I follow a blog called Thrifty Decor Chick. The blogger, Sarah, is a super cool girl who finds and shares clever ways to inexpensively spice up the decor in your home. She is the master of replicating Pottery Barn on the cheap. I have already used a couple of her ideas around my house. This post, though, is not how I used her ideas but how her blog inspired me to try to become my own Thrifty Decor Chick.
I went to Target today. If you're not already chuckling then you must have more self-control than I do.
Target has a Dollar section that I scour thoroughly every time I go to there. They are awesome about having very inexpensive holiday items, kids stuff (like coloring books and stickers), and paper products like planners and cards. I spent WAY more today than I normally do in that section but I am so danged excited about my purchases. Enough suspense, here's what we got.
I have almost no Valentine's Day decor. I usually don't like the style of store-bought Valentine items. I got all four of these items for around my house. The words are about 2" thick and will stand on their own. They are glittery but they aren't frilly. The font is still classic. Can you believe I found each of these items for $2.50?! I spent $10 and I have cute stuff to add all over my living room.
Next, I found this adorable, tiny mailbox. It came in white, red, or pink. How much? $1.00. Yup. ONE DOLLAR. For the record it came completely plain but it has a working flag!
So I decided I would add an interactive decor feature this year. I used stickers to write "Love Notes" on the side of the mailbox. Then, I put scrapbook paper, stationary, markers, stickers, and scissors into a box that I wrapped in Valentine type wrapping paper. Anyone who feels so inclined can write a note and leave it in the tiny mailbox. I think it will be a fun way for Chance and I to send little love notes around the holiday. I already owned the scissors and the markers but everything else was purchased at Target today.
It cost me a total of $9. It contains 9 items from that dollar section including the mailbox. There are 2 sets of heart stickers, 3 sets of alphabet stickers, 1 container of brads, an 8 pk of small cards with envelopes, and Valentine's Day paper. The paper came in 16 pre-cut 5x7 sheets.
Finally, I got some scrapbooking supplies. I got 2 sets of really cute 12x12 paper (8 sheets each, half are embossed), 3 sets of 7x7 metallic sheen paper, and two more sets of alphabet stickers.
Here are some pictures of the individual items:
All the papers:
The alphabet stickers:
The embellishments:
Finally, the little cards and the wrapping paper. I'm really excited about the wrapping paper. The dollar section sells these rolls that are shorter than normal. They have 40 sq feet of paper and it only cost $1!! I am certain I can use this paper for a number of things besides Valentine's. What a great find!
So, total I spent $27 on new Valentine's Day stuff. If you're not a scrapbooker but you liked everything else you would really only be looking at spending $20.
So, thank you TDC for helping me look at the world a little differently. I can't wait until February so I can show you how these items look in the house.

You're my inspiration! Organizement

Hello friends. I want to share a couple of websites with you that particularly inspire me. (To avoid super long posts I will only talk about one website per post.) I know what you're thinking. "Um, Jenny. You haven't posted about Christmas yet. Why are you jumping to something else?" I know. I know. While I AM excited to blog about some cool things that happened in December my mind is already in January. Part of me is actually already mentally blogging about Valentines Day. :) Anywho! You will get your Christmas updates in due time. Until then, let me tell you about Julie.
Recently, I blogged about some of my organizational habits. Organizing comes naturally to me. I see the world in categories. But even I need some fresh ideas every once in a while. My friend, Julie, is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers in the Metro Atlanta Area. She maintains a blog, Organizement, where she gives tips and advice on how to keep your home more organized. The link I provided goes to a specific post that I LOVED.
She told me about a program run by St. Jude's Ranch for Children.
You can donate the fronts of your old greeting cards to their program and they re-use them to make new cards. Chance and I always hang all the cards we receive on the back of our front door. It allows us to add decor to a big white spot in the room and we get to appreciate the cards people send for much longer. At the end of the season though, I hate the feeling of throwing the cards away! I was so happy to learn about re-using the cards. So, unless your Christmas card had your picture on it, it has been sent off to benefit sick children.
This is just one of the many ideas that she shares on her blog. I LOVE it! Thanks for all the ideas Julie!

LOST Party

So, after six seasons on the air the TV show LOST ended on Sunday. This post is going to focus on that so if you don't watch the show, you might not get some of my references. If you follow my Facebook you probably know that I have really hated this last season. So for me this party was to celebrate not having to endure it every week. I wanted to do something fun but I didn't want to spend a lot of money. Here's what I came up with.

1. In Season 1 there is a Polar Bear on the island. So I bought Klondike Bars. Two six packs cost me $5 at Wal-Mart. Sadly, I forgot about them and no one at the party had any. :)

2. All the food they find on the island (besides fresh obviously) is from the Dharma Initiative. So I spent some time in the Business Center of our apartment complex and printed labels for all our soda and party food. This cost me time and a few sheets of paper. But otherwise it was free.

3. While printing the labels I saw customizable Oceanic Flight 815 Boarding passes. I printed one for every person that I knew was coming. I found the Oceanic logo and printed it on an envelope. I used the Oceanic logo again and printed an itinerary. I stuffed the envelope with the itinerary and boarding passes and put them on our friends doors or in their mail boxes. Again, it took time but it was free.

4. I printed a Dharma station logo for each of the doored rooms in our apt. The bathroom was the Hydra Station, the bedroom was The Flame, and the spare room was The Arrow. FREE.

5. I bought two rolls of crepe paper in green to create a fun pass through from the living room to the other rooms. The crepe paper was .79 per roll.

6. Last but not least, I bought a piece of black poster board and printed the word LOST in the right font in white. I cut it out and pasted it and the poster board. This was the sign for our door. I paid .59 for the board.

Total cost: $7.17 On Decor related items. If you don't count the klondike bars I only spent $2 on decorations. Mind you, I spent about 3 hours doing research, printing, and delivering envelopes. But that is a luxury I have since I am at home.

I also bought chips, dip, and some 2L of soda. I estimate I spent roughly $15 on food. So not much more than $20 to throw a party that was a hit.

Here is the evidence!

Tervlon is a very gifted LEGO artist and he created a scene of Locke at the Hatch to add to our decor. Might I add that this was also time consuming but free. He already owned all the LEGOs that he used.

Rag Quilts

So I have at least three friends who make rag quilts. Claire, Erin, and Chrissa. Over the course of the last couple of years these ladies have inspired me to try my hand at it.

First, Claire convinced me that they are a good thing to sew because they don't have to be perfect. That tempted me because I have been working on a regular quilt for Chance for years and it's imperfections are driving me mad.

Second, Erin showed on her blog how to do it step-by-step. She even included pictures and advice on how much fabric to buy.

So I went for it! Here is a picture of my first ever rag quilt. A baby quilt for our friends Jozef, Hollie and baby Sadie.

I didn't quite set out with the perfect plan. I cut the pieces and then started arranging them. I did Pink, Stripe, Blue, Stripe and that is how this pattern was born. When I had it laid out I loved it. I didn't think about the fact that I was using twice as many striped pieces. So when I got to the back I had to develop a new plan.

I still love it. It looks very beachy to me. Because of all the sewing you lose a lot of the size. This blanket is the perfect size for a car seat blanket. While she's still little it will be great for throwing on the floor to set her down but it isn't nearly as big as I expected.

Also, I put batting in between the layers. A lot of my friends don't. But I live in Northern Virginia and I wanted this blanket to keep baby warm. If you don't use batting the blanket has a flimsier look and feel which is great for warmer climates or summer babies. Because I used batting this project took on a new level of difficulty.

I had the front, back, and batting section of each square. Then I sewed an X across each one. Then I sewed the squares together to form rows. Then the rows together. It took forever! I got so discouraged. I was sure I wouldn't finish before the baby came. If it hadn't been for my church sewing group I may never have finished.

Now we come to motivator #3. Chrissa. She showed me how to make rag quilts without doing tons and tons of squares!

STRIPES!! Brilliant!

Here's a close up so you can appreciate the cuteness of the fabric.

This one is for Danny and Emily. They decided not to find out the gender of their baby but she loves monkeys. If you look closely the yellow of the bananas is much more bold than the pastel yellow I chose. If I went with the bright yellow it looked kind of like an ode to the potty. :)

Anyway, the stripes were a lot less cutting and a lot less sewing. I actually feel like you also get to appreciate the pattern of the fabric a little more too. In case you're wondering. It takes a yard of each fabric. The stripes are 3", 5", and 7" wide. Unlike my first quilt it is the same front and back. I had about 6" of yellow left over and I also had some brown left. So really you need 1 yard of pattern, 3/4 yard of secondary color, and 1/2 yard of the third. I would still buy extra if it is your first time (or second or third, hehehe) just so you have wiggle room to mess up. Plus I bought the fabric on sale and got the yellow and brown at 50% off or $2.49 a yard. So even though I bought a full yard of each it was only $5 total. I buy the crib sized cotton batting and I open it all the way. So one package of batting lasts me 2+ quilts. I either buy that with my 40% coupon or wait until batting is on sale. I don't pay full price unless I am desperate to finish on a deadline and I didn't plan ahead.


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