Organized Bliss

The pantry is finally finished. When you open the door, it is easy to find exactly what you are looking for. I love it!

Before I started working on our pantry this was my inspiration.

Dream pantrypantry pantry

And now our pantry looks like this, the top view:

And the bottom:

We have a lot more food in our pantry than the first inspiration photo and we also have a mix of boxes and vacuumed sealed containers. But for us, this works.

Before our pantry looked like this:

It was chaos. I also had trouble with the cans on the bottom shelf. They took up a lot of real estate and you couldn’t really see what was there. We decided to solve that problem by looking for something that we could put under the bottom of the pre-existing pantry shelves. We found this stacking shelf system at the Container Store and it works perfectly.

I also took our organizing one step further and labeled the majority of our containers. And because I am a Weight Watchers Lifetime Member, I have all the serving sizes and PointsPlus values written under the name of each product. For the baking and cooking products, I just labeled them with their name.

So our pantry is finally organized and hopefully it will stay this way for a long time. I love opening the door and finding everything I need without digging around. And because we used vacuumed sealed containers to store much of our food, we don’t have to worry about food going stale quickly. It’s a win-win!

Making a House a Home

One of my favorite boards on my Pinterest page is my Making a House a Home board. I use this board to pin pictures that I would enjoy seeing incorporated in our home.

For example, I love these wall letters and they gave me the idea that I could incorporate something like this in our kitchen. Once we finish the crown molding project, I want to hang the word “Yum” on the wall.

wall letters

Below is another pin from my board. I love the pillows on this couch, and since we just added a new couch to our living room, I decided to do my own interpretation of bright pillows on a dark couch.

Love the couch

I took our existing pillows and added a few more.

I also appreciate the look of a clean, well-organized pantry and I’m working on getting ours there.

Dream pantry

A few months, ago I started collecting OXO vacuumed-sealed containers.

These are the best storage containers!

And I started incorporating the containers in our pantry.

Recently, I found a 12 pack of the OXO containers at Sam’s Club. They’re kind of a pain to clean because you have to hand wash them, but I’m slowly getting them all cleaned and into our pantry.

I’ve added about half of the 12 into the pantry and had to do a little reorganizing. It looks a little like a hot mess right now. But I’m on my way to a better organized pantry and our food will last longer in the vacuumed sealed containers. No more wasted snacks!

Just focus on the top shelf for now. Doesn’t it look nice? 🙂

Another picture I’ve pinned to my Making a House a Home board is the antique-looking wooden wall quotes.

For the playroom.

I found a similar one that doesn’t have quotes on it, but I love the idea of incorporating wine into our kitchen decor, so this will hang above the entrance to our dining room once the crown molding is finished.

What is your own favorite Pinterest board? How do you find inspiration to make your house feel like a home?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Green Living

BJ and I try to do our part to try to make our slice of the world a little greener. A few months ago, I put together a list of how BJ and I “Go Green” for an initiative at work.

Here is our list of what we do to save energy, reuse items and recycle:

  •  Recycle glass and aluminum cans
  • Use coupons on my cell phone to avoid printing them.
  • Use fluorescent and led light bulbs in our house.
  • Use led tealights and instead of burning tealight candles and throwing away the metal container.
  • Keep our thermostat higher in the summer (76) and cooler in the winter (68).
  • Open our windows in the fall and spring and use the house fan instead of running air conditioning or heat.
  • Use reusable cloth bags at the grocery store (FIY: Target gives you 5 cents for every reusable bag you use).
  • Keep our fish tank lights on a timer so they are off during the day until we get home.
  • Buy milk in glass bottles and return the bottles to the store.
  • Cook with an induction cooktop which is more efficient than gas or electric.
  • Switched many of our bills to paperless statements.
  • Recycle motor oil from oil changes on our cars.
  • Our cat has an automatic water fountain that continuously runs cool water for her. It uses electricity to run, but we do not have to dump out her water as often and she always has fresh filtered cold water.
  • When we forget our reusable bags, I reuse the plastic bags from the grocery store for cleaning our cat’s litter box.
  • Our kitchen appliances are Energy Star appliances.
  • When we were planning our wedding, I picked centerpieces that I could keep so that we could reuse them after our wedding. I chose lanterns from Ikea and vases with a few fresh flowers (unfortunately, I couldn’t keep the flowers) for the tables. Each table either had a lantern or vase. After our wedding, I incorporated all the vases and lanterns into our home decor. We also chose wine bottle stoppers as our favors for the adults so guests could take something home with them that they can reuse over and over! I also kept some of the other decorations we used for the escort card table so that we had minimal to throw away.

And a few months later, we are still practicing what we preach and then some.

Since we moved into our house, we’ve been switching out the incandescent lights bulbs installed by the builder to fluorescent and led bulbs.

In our master bathroom, we often leave the light on at night so that Zoey see to eat her food and use her litter box. To keep the cost of running the light down by drawing less power, we switched the incandescent to an led bulb. The up front cost is more than a traditional light bulb, but the savings over time will add up and make it worth the price (about $30)

The led bulbs in the bathroom use about 13 watts versus the former incandescent bulbs which drew 60-70 watts.

We also installed led lights in the table lamps by our bed.

And we have led rope lighting installed above our kitchen cabinets.

Another way we go green and try to save a few pennies is by using reusable grocery bags. We do a great deal of our grocery shopping at Super Target and as I mentioned above, they give  $0.05 back for every bag used.

Occasionally, we will leave our reusable bags at home so we can save the plastic bags to clean Zoey’s litter. We keep all of our plastic bags in our handy-dandy Simple Human bag organizer.

In our kitchen closet we keep bins to recycle glass and plastic. Once the bins are full, we take them to a recycling drop off center at our local park. Looks like it’s time for a visit to the park!

So those are just a few of the ways we go green. How do you  go green?

Wrapping up our floor project, coupon clipping and palm leaves

And we’re done! Well, almost. The floor has come along way since November and we are really in the home stretch now. The grouting is complete and now we need to seal the floor again and put in a new baseboard.

One important note to keep in mind when you are grouting a floor is to make sure you do not grout yourself in. Always grout toward a door so that you can get out when you’re finished. We started in the far right corner of our room and worked our way toward the kitchen door. This would’ve put us finishing out into the foyer entrance. But after we started, it made more sense to grout toward the foyer entrance and put ourselves out the kitchen door so that we could still access the sink for water buckets and the garage for clean up.

BJ grouted and I followed behind with the bucket of water and sponge to clean up the excess grout. (Obviously I wasn’t cleaning when I was taking pictures :))

Here are my buckets of water! Ready to clean!


Even though it has taken awhile to finish this project, it has been worth the wait. The floor looks so great with grout and it will look even better once we install the baseboard and finish off the edges. I’m looking forward to the return of our dining room furniture and seeing the complete look.

What else have we been up to lately? I started coupon clipping like crazy, but due to my lack of coupon organization, the first few trips to the grocery store did not go as well as I planned .  So to fix that, I made a trip to the Container Store to buy an inexpensive coupon organizer to help me in my coupon clipping endeavors.

You can see in the photo that my former carrying method was a ratty white envelope. It made it very difficult to find anything and the coupons kept spilling. It was a mess. Now our coupons are organized by date and hopefully this will allow future money-saving trips to the grocery store.

In the background of the coupon madness, you might have noticed our island center piece has a new look for the Easter season. Last Sunday, BJ and I attended Palm Sunday service and we brought home these palm leaves. I thought they would look nice in our center piece for the rest of Lent.

That’s all for tonight! Goodnight everyone!

Updates on the slate tile floor and kitchen pantry

Over the past few months our dining room floor has sat idle, waiting for grout. The cold weather made it difficult to open the windows and let the room air out during the grouting process, so we patiently waited for it warm up again. Spring is officially here and since they are calling for nice weather this weekend, we took the opportunity to get the floor ready to grout.

Before we could start the next step of finishing the floor, we needed to fix a few broken tiles and re-set the tiles that came loose after we set them.

We walked around the floor trying to feel if anything rocked or squirmed under our feet. If we found a tile that was either broken or loose, we marked it with painters/masking tape. The tape served as a way to find the tiles we planned to repair so we wouldn’t spend time walking on every tile each time we fixed one.

After we were sure we found all the tiles to repair, we slowly lifted the loose tiles to make sure we didn’t break anything. Then we used a hammer and chisel to remove the mortar from the concrete. For the broken tiles, they were set a little better so we had to use the chisel to pry them off of the floor. Some tiles were set so well we had to lightly hit them with the hammer a few times to loosen them from the floor. Then we used the chisel and hammer to remove the remaining mortar and tile.

For the broken tiles, we had to replace them with new tiles and throw away the old ones.

We saved a few tiles when we first laid the floor just in case we needed them down the road. We used three of the tiles today and now we have 2 or 3 left if we need them. Once we picked out new tiles from our reserve and cleaned up the dust and mortar pieces, we started replacing the tiles. Before we put the mortar down, we taped off the surrounding tiles to prevent excess mortar splattering on the faces of the clean tiles. Then we spread the thin-set mortar.

For a few of the tiles, we added extra mortar to the low spots to make sure they set.

Then we laid all the tiles and made sure to press them into the mortar to get a strong contact between the mortar and the tile.

It took a few hours to remove the old mortar and set the tiles and during that time, Zoey paid us a few visits. She’s not allowed in the dining room, but she kept coming to supervise and even crossed the threshold to test her limits and run to the open window. She is mischievous!

Now that the broken and loose tiles are repaired, we are ready to fully prep for grout. Our next steps are to seal the tiles again and then wait 24 hours for the tiles we fixed to set up. Then, we grout! Once the grout is finished, we will seal the floor two more times. After we seal, and the floor dries, we can replace the base board. And then, our dining room is finished!

The floor project has gone well so far and although we’re not quite finished, I have a few lessons learned to share with anyone thinking about a DIY slate floor:

1. Do not rush a tile floor. It takes time to do all the associated steps.

2. Make sure you press all the tiles firmly into the mortar. If they are not in the mortar, they will come loose a few days after you are finished.

3. Always take the time to prep the floor before you put tile down. A clean floor is better for the mortar.

4. Make sure you can open the windows when you lay the thin set mortar. It will help keep the overwhelming smell down.

And that’s where we are with the floor. It’s almost ready to grout, we just need to wait for the tiles to set, clean the entire floor and seal it one more time.

More updates to come!

In other news, I also worked on the kitchen pantry this week. I acquired more Target gift cards and used them to buy OXO containers. I also reorganized the pantry and it went from this:

To this:

I still need a few more OXO containers for some of my baking supplies and snacks, but it has definitely come a long way from before. There were so many boxes of cans stacked on the floor and now they are easily accessible on the bottom shelf. I also reorganized our food into categories. I tried to keep the breakfast products somewhat together, the baking supplies in one area, the cans on one shelf and the snacks together. Now I can see exactly how many of items we have. And with our snacks in vacuüm sealed containers, they will last longer and I won’t have to throw away stale bags of chips!

That’s all for now! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Winter cleaning

It’s that time of year again. Time for spring… err… winter cleaning.

This year I got a head start on my spring cleaning and now I’m calling it “winter cleaning.” As part of my new year’s resolutions, I want to get organized. I started with my scary bathroom drawer and moved my way around the house. So far, I’ve cleaned/organized our closet and now I’m moving on to other locations in the house. My next stops are the laundry room and kitchen pantry.

All of this organization mania started a few weeks ago when I received this in the mail:

I love the Container Store. I would also love to go there and buy an Elfa system for every closet in the house as well as the laundry room. But for now, cleaning and self-organizing will have to do.

So as promised, an update on the closet. Here is the before and after for our master closet.

Before:

After:


It doesn’t look like this yet… but it’s still a work in progress. We are getting closer!

2-19-08closet7.jpg 

I spent a few hours just sorting through and getting rid of clothes I no longer wear. A local non-profit will be in receipt of our donations in the near future. After I eliminated the clothes I no longer wear, I start organizing and folding the remaining clothes. For the non hanging clothes, I folded and neatly arranged them on the shelves and then I organized the hanging clothes by color and type. Finally I organized the shoes and scarves and then, I could see the floor again! Hooray! Now I won’t feel as stressed when I walk into the closet every day. I can pick out my clothes in a more welcoming environment.

While I’ve been cleaning, BJ has been busy working on the crown molding project. He made it all the way above the kitchen cabinets before running out of molding. Another trip to the home improvement store is in our future. We also need to pick out new baseboards for the dining room, so the timing worked out well.

So far, our 2012 has been full of cleaning and home improvement projects. Even Zoey is excited to see the progress!

That’s her serious face.

Well even if Zoey isn’t excited, we certainly are. I can’t wait to wrap up the dining room and crown molding projects.

We have some big plans for this year. Here are some of the things we would like to do in 2012:

1. Cleaning/Organizing the garage
2. Cleaning/Organizing the laundry room and kitchen pantry
3. Towel rack projects for master and guest bathroom
4.  Decorate the loft area

And I’m still working on my resolution to blog more often. So much to do! More updates to come.

2012 New Year’s resolutions

My 2012 New Year’s resolutions:

1. Get organized (closets, bathrooms, laundry room and kitchen pantry)
2. Finish projects we started in 2011
3. Blog more often

Resolution #1: Get organized (closets, bathrooms and kitchen pantry).

This year, the holidays came and our organization methods went out the window. The current state of our master closet is scary. Yikes!

Organizing a closet is easy, but the problem lies in keeping it organized. The organization needs to be functional. If it’s difficult to keep something organized than it’s not worth it. My organization methods have failed in the past because they are too difficult to keep. So I went to Pinterest for some inspiration. Here is what I found:

 

Here are a few of my favorite ideas for closet organization:

2-19-08closet7.jpg

2-19-08closet15.jpg

We spend every morning in our closet. I want it to be a place where we can go and feel good starting our day. I love the idea of putting a chair or a rug in the closet. It makes it feel like another room in your house instead of just a place to store your clothes. Hopefully we can find a way to make our closet both functional and welcoming.

Next on the list is the bathrooms. I always struggle with keeping bathroom items organized. I start off so well, but after a few weeks my drawer looks like this:

I waste time digging around to find what I need. The frustrating part is that I only use half of the items in this door. The other items are in there for storage because I use them occasionally. There has to be a better way. So again, it’s off to Pinterest for inspiration.

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

I bought a few blue flower pots at Ikea to start an herb garden. The pots are sitting in our kitchen and have been there for almost a year. Perhaps, I could use them to organize our bathroom instead.

I would also like to organize our pantry and laundry room. Here are some of my ideas for organizing these spaces:

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

New Year’s Resolution #2: Finish Projects we started in 2011.

After Thanksgiving, December flew by. We ran out of time to finish the floor in the dining room before Christmas. Now that the holidays are over, we should have more time on our hands.

The crown molding is also on hold until we have more time. Hopefully we can finish this project soon.

New Year’s Resolution #3: Blog more often. 

My New Year’s resolutions will keep me pretty busy this year, so hopefully that means more posts to read. I will keep you updated on our progress!

I’m off to start on our closet and bathroom!

Happy New Year!