Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mantel Decor: A Study in Metal and Greenery

Oh, how I love to decorate for Christmas!

The mantel is always first. 

It's a difficult mantel to decorate because it's very large and has to be flame resistant because we use our fireplace a lot during the winter.  And did I mention, it's large?  No hanging stockings, no draping garland, and no sparkly tinsel allowed for fear of it going up in flames.

I used the same fake greenery I've been using for years, adding large pinecones to beef it up.  With the addition of new lanterns left over from my daughter's wedding, I decided to just use metal and natural elements this year.  I used three rustyish stars that hubs strung onto a piece of barbed wire.  I love how they fill the ackward space between the mantel and the firebox. 

See the top of my fireplace tool holder?  It's actually a small weather vane that I found in my uncle's basement about 20 years ago.  We screwed it onto the top of the tool holder that the previous owners of our home had left on the fireplace.  The tool holder was black and brass so I spray painted it with high heat black spray paint before adding the weather vane.  I have to repaint the tools and holders every few years as the paint tends to wear off from repeated use.

The Lettered Cottage

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Motivation: Dust your lightbulbs


I had to chuckle while writing this because I was imagining your response to this Monday Motivation!  "She's nuts".  "She has too much time on her hands".  Or my favorite, "She's just too tidy".  Yes, all of these comments have been directed to me at one time or another. 

Truth is, I have an eye for things that need to be cleaned.  I can't help it.  Now, that doesn't mean that everything in my home is clean (or tidy).  On the contrary, I often get sidetracked with a  project and neglect everything else around me. 

My point is, while you're up on a ladder decorating the house for Christmas, go around and check your light bulbs.  Do any of them need to be replaced because they're burnt out?  I finally replaced two light bulbs in my foyer light while hanging the mistletoe.  

When setting up for Christmas, I have to rearrange my family room to make room for the tree and that includes moving lamps.  Since I'm rearranging, I might as while clean.  Clean light bulbs give off more light and help the bulb to be more efficient.  We could all use a bit more light during the dark days of winter. To clean them, simply wipe the cool bulb with a paper towel or clean rag that has been sprayed with Sparkle Cleaner

If you have to replace a bulb in a glass fixture, go ahead and clean the glass while your standing up on a ladder.  It will help the bulb to shine brighter.

 We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.      Dwight L. Moody

Friday, November 26, 2010

Perfectly Imperfect Holiday Table

I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner at our home.  I love celebrating with lots and lots of people.  We like to invite anyone who doesn't have family in town to join with us.  Some years, we keep joining tables to our dining table to make sure everyone has a seat at the table.  I don't wait for my home to be perfect before I entertain because I know it will never be. 

This year it was only a few members of our family who gathered at a single table to thank the Lord for all of the blessings He's given us.  It was a bit somber as it was the first holiday without my mother-in-law.  I was brought to tears as I made gravy, because we always did that together.  I was happy that it turned out well - I've never made it without her!

Lately, a number of people have been curious about holiday celebrations at Brown Wren Acres.  It always surprises me because I just  figured we are doing our "thang" - making do with what we have and trying to make people feel welcomed in our home.  Since there is some interest in how we celebrate, I thought I'd share how I set up for Thanksgiving. 

For Thanksgiving, this is how our table scape came together during cooking breaks.

First, I start with a perfectly imperfect table.  I bought it for $60.00 at a consignment shop 15 years ago.  I refinished the top. 

It didn't have a leaf, which wasn't a problem at the time, but now our family has expanded and we need more room. Until I can find a better table, Hubs (my hero) made a leaf out of a scrap piece of wood. It doesn't match the table, but I always cover it with a tablecloth.

I top the table with a damask table cloth that was made by my grandma for her parent's 30th wedding anniversary.  It is around 75 years old.  This year I topped it with a crocheted table cloth that one of my clients gave me.  (Actually, he threw it in the dumpster while we were staging his home.  I dumpster-dove and pulled it out.  I carried it into the house and pleaded with him to give it to one of his family members.  He said it had been part of a set of two and his daughter took the better one and told him to toss this one.  He told me I was welcome to have it.  I brought it home, repaired it and washed it.  It is beautiful.  I feel good about rescuing it!)

I added a table runner for some color and used my china to start the place settings.  I don't have enough china for everyone, so I alternate my china with some perfectly imperfect plain china plates I found at the thrift store. 

Continuing with the table settings, I take the damask napkins that match the tablecloth and I use a small craft grapevine wreath as a napkin ring.  I like the juxtaposition of the elegant mixed with the rustic.  I use our regular silverware because I don't have real silver.  I add a small hurricane filled with coffee beans and a second candle holder.  I've found that our table won't hold a lot of food and a centerpiece at the same time. 

The glassware consists of Princess House iced tea glasses mixed with my grandmother's old amber pressed glass sherbet glasses as fruit dishes.  I also like to use my salt and pepper shakers that are shaped like leaves.

I like to use all of these items because they have memories attached to them - not large price tags.  This table represents how we live life.  Be content with what you have - and USE it.  The rule I have for myself is if I am not using it then I need to get rid of it.

When I set the table, I also set out the serving dishes and utensils I will use for the food so that I can grab them when I need them. 

I set our desserts on the sideboard.  I used a fall garland with Christmas lights to highlight the back of the sideboard.  Then, I added two glass cake stands topped with cloth napkins to hold the pies.  A small dish holds ginger cookies and candy acorns

Our Thanksgiving dinner was perfectly imperfect - just like our family - and I love it!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanks, O God, for boundless mercy
From thy gracious throne above;
Thanks for every need provided
From the fullness of Thy love.
Thanks for daily toil and labor
And for rest when shadows fall;
Thanks for love of friend and neighbor
And Thy goodness unto all.

Thanks for thorns as well as roses,
Thanks for weakness and for health;
Thaks for coluds as well as sunshine,
Thanks for poverty and wealth,
Thanks for pain as well as pleasure
All Thou sendest day by day;
And Thy Word, our dearest treasure,
Shedding light upon our way.

Words by August Ludvig Storm (translated by Norman Johnson)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Acorn Hostess Gift For Thanksgiving

Every year, on Thanksgiving Eve, our family drives across the water (Chesapeake Bay) to have a feast with my Dad's side of the family.  Aunt Essie puts on quite a spread and doesn't allow anyone to help.  Since our family consists of several large eaters, I always feel bad about not contributing to the meal but Aunt Essie insists on doing it herself.

I don't want to go empty handed, so I always bring a hostess gift - something small as a token of thanks.

I usually take a jar of apple butter, or a candle, or a loaf of banana bread.  This year I wanted to do something different.

I bought a small jar at Walmart, tied on a bow, and added a sticker.  

The hardest part, so far, was getting the store sticker off of the bottom of the jar.  I practically had to do surgery!

Then I got my ingredients out to make a fun treat.  All you need are Hershey kisses, mini Nilla wafers, and a bit of chocolate frosting.  You simply put a dab of frosting on the bottom of the kiss and stick it onto the flat side of the Nilla wafer.  You can pipe on a little stem or use a toothpick (like I did) to make a little mark.  Put them in the fridge to harden up a bit. 

Then fill your jar with the little acorns and try not to eat them on the trip over to see the relatives. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Motivation: Practice having a Grateful Heart


Whew!  It's been a crazy few days but I made it through!

First, thanks to those of you who came out for the Craft Stash Swap.
  I think everyone was happy with what they took home.

Second, you can't tell by reading this post, but I'm typing on a new computer.  Our old computer woke up with an ugly case of "The Blue Screen of Death".  Hubs is working on it but it was decided that Tidy Brown Wren needed her own computer.  So, now she does!   It's taking me a while to get used to the new, stiffer keyboard and "touchier" touch pad. 

Now, on to business. . . practicing to have a grateful heart.

It does take practice.  You must purpose, in your heart and mind, to be grateful for what you have and then work at reminding yourself to be thankful. 

Because our typical days are  usually fast paced we seldom have time to look up, out, or in.  We simply look forward - to the next thing happening in our life.  When chronic disease plops itself down in the middle of our life it tends to slow us down.  Slowing down can cause us to look up (to our Heavenly Father), look out (to others who are better off or worse off than we are), or within (to how we really feel).  How I really want to feel is thankful, so I've been practicing being grateful.

Grateful for my family who surrounds me with love every day.
Grateful for friends, old and new. who pray for me every day.
Grateful for my church and my pastors who love me.

Grateful for appliances - those that work and those that struggle along, duct-taped together.
Grateful for food and the sense of taste and smell.
Grateful for a job(s) when it is so common to be out of work.

Grateful for the medical community and their care and concern for me.
Grateful for music and for those that use their talents to perform it.
Grateful for the variety of colors I get to enjoy playing with.  A treat for the eyes.

Grateful for God's word that provides me with comfort and instruction.
Grateful for comfortable clothes and shoes.
Grateful for candlelight - making everything seem cozier.

Grateful for my God who knows everything about me and still loves me.

I invite you to purpose in your heart  to be grateful for what you have.  Make a list and add to it over the next couple of days.  I think you'll find that the longer your list, the happier you are.  Not because you have more things, but because you are aware of more things.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Seeking an Organized Craft Room

When we moved into our home 5 years ago this room had pink shag carpet, fake birch paneling, and pink plastic mini-blinds.

We ripped out the carpet and mini-blinds and painted the paneling.  I immediately filled it with our old computer desk and all manner of crafting supplies.

This is how it looked most days because I had no room to store things and the desk did not function very well.  My sewing table was made from an old file cabinet I painted and an old dining room table leaf that we found in our barn.  My ironing board was always in the way.

This is the other corner of the room.  This is all of the space my Hubs has to do our bills and paper work.  It used to be a closet.  The opening was covered with sliding mirrored doors.  We removed the doors and painted the interior to brighten it up.  We already had the desk which, thankfully, fit perfectly into the nook.

After many hours of pondering, visits to Home Depot and Lowes, and marking layouts on the floor with tape, we finally came up with a plan.

Here's what we came up with.  We bought an unfinished lower kitchen drawer unit and a 4x8 slab of thick birch plywood.  Hubs cut off the bottom of the drawer unit (reinforcing the back) and custom cut the plywood to make a work surface.  We used the existing file cabinet to hold the peninsula end.  You can see the masking tape on the floor.  We always lay out designs on the floor first, either with tape or with pieces of newspaper to see how it works.  The work surface is held in place temporarily with clamps and propped up with wood until it can be secured with braces and cleats underneath.  That's why my sewing machine is sitting on the floor, underneath the window.  The ironing board has been sent back downstairs and I'll be using something different.

Here's a view from the other corner.  I'm clearing off those shelves a bit.  I'm getting ready for my Craft Stash tomorrow afternoon.  By the way, if you'd like to come, there's still room for more guests.  It's at 2:00 at my house.  Email me for directions. 

This weekend, Hubs will be securing the work surface and putting trim around the edges.  I'm still trying to decide how I want to finish the raw wood.  Any suggestions?

I'm linking to:
Furniture Feature Fridays

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Good For You" Pumpkin Pie

One of my readers, Tiffany, asked for a pumpkin pie recipe after reading my post about processing your Halloween pumpkin to make pumpkin puree.

 I started to give her my old pumpkin pie recipe but realized that it really wasn't as healthy a recipe as it could be.  So, I began to experiment.  Here's my new and nutritionally improved recipe.  I'm still working on tweaking it and I'll write in paranthesis what I plan on changing next time.

First, the pie crust:

This is an unusual pie crust, but it's very flaky. 

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 cups white wheat flour or unbleached flour
1 1/2 cup organic shortening
2 tsp. kosher salt

Mix with a fork or pastry blender until well mixed and forms "pea sized" chunks.

1 Tbl. vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
1 egg

Add to the flour mixture to form a smooth dough.

The recipe says it makes enough dough for 4 crusts, but my pie plates are kinda big and next time I'll divide it into thirds.  I divided the dough into fourths this time and wrapped the disks in wax paper.  I put one in the fridge to cool for an hour before I used it and put the others into a gallon ziploc bag and froze them.  I'll use them for pies or quiche later on.

While the dough is chilling, make your pumpkin filling:

2 cups pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup cane sugar (I used Succanant and the flavor was too strong.  I'll use regular sugar next time)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt or sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger (I'll add less ginger next time)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves

Beat the eggs and add remaining ingredients.

After my dough chilled for an hour, I rolled it out between 2 sheets of wax paper and placed it in my glass pie pan.  Be sure to use the dough as soon as you take it out of the fridge or you'll have a hard time rolling it out as it warms up.

Fill the pie crust with the filling and place in a preheated 425 degree oven.  Bake 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake 45 minutes.  The middle of the pie should wiggle just a bit and when you stick a butter knife into the center of the pie it should come out clean. 

My poor little pie looks a bit frazzled.  My crust wasn't big enough for the pan.  It tasted delicious but I've got to work on my pie making skills.  I can't believe I'm even showing you this pic. 

Don't forget to whip up some fresh whipping cream to top off your slice of pie.  This pie was gone in a few days and there are only 3 of us living in the house right now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Drying Herbs

Out in my herb garden, I was able to harvest parsley, rosemary, and sage.

I stripped the leaves off of the stems (laborious) and laid them on newspaper in the window of my guest room.  After a few weeks this is what they looked like. . .

I threw the dried leaves into the food processor and 30 seconds later I had enough "spice mix" to fill 4 cute jars.

My herbs are still producing, so I think I'll have enough to make 4 more.  With a cute sticker, this will make a nice addition to a gift basket.

Speaking of gift baskets. . . I'm preparing one for my 100 follower give-away.  As soon as my
 little "thing-a-mabob on the side bar shows 100 followers, I'll do a drawing for a wonderful Tidy Brown Wren gift basket.  Hmm. . . I wonder how long it will take me to get to 100? 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Little Table That Could

Once upon a time, there was a little coffee table.  It was small and inexpensive and it wasn't particularly beautiful. 

After many years of use, it found itself in the back of a pick-up truck, heading to the dump.  Along the way, the truck hit a bump in the road, and the little table bounced out of the truck and landed in the middle of a rural road.

Shortly thereafter, a young grad student on her way to school, found the forlorn table sitting upside down in the middle of the road.  Feeling sorry for it, she scooped it up and placed it in the back of her compact car.  Since the grad student was preparing to marry, she knew she could fix the little table and place it in her new home.  Alas, on another day heading home from school, the grad student found a better table on the side of the road.  A large, round pedestal coffee table that would be perfect for her new home.  She forgot all about the little coffee table she had stored on her back deck.

Several months later, her mother (a professional organizer) was planning to throw the neglected little table into the trash pile.  However, upon hearing about a needy young mother with no furniture, she decided to give the little table another chance.  She carefully sanded down the old finish and applied a new finish.  Her Hubs tightened the joints and secured the legs.  The little table sparkled in the afternoon light of the Autumn day and rejoiced in the fact that it would soon have a new home with a family that needed it. 

Indeed the little table did go to live with it's new family and enjoyed getting to know them.  It's journey was long and uncertain at times, but it still had life left in it to share. 

Do you ever feel like you don't have anything to give?  Most people would say that the little table was trash and not useful anymore, but we know that it was in the right place at the right time for a reason - to be used.

I'm linking to:
Furniture Feature Fridays

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Motivation: Order Your Christmas Cards

I know it's early -  but it's not too early to order, purchase, or make your Christmas and Holiday cards. 

                                                                                               (the inside of last year's card)

I just discovered a pretty good deal on the BeCentsAble blog about ordering from See Here.  I saved 50 % on my cards and I can check that "to do" off of my list. 

I usually make my cards but this year has been really crazy- busy and we had wonderful photos taken at my daughter's wedding.  I knew I had to send a photo card this year. 

What are your plans for Christmas cards this year.  Do any of you forgo sending cards altogether? 

Today's interesting fact:

"Christmas is the largest card-sending holiday in the United States with approximately 1.5 billion cards sent annually." (source)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Craft Stash Reminder

If you live locally, you're invited to a Craft Stash Swap.  If you're a crafter, I know you've got extra supplies laying around.  It's just how crafters roll.  This is an opportunity to swap craft items. 

 If you would like to start a certain craft, but don't have any supplies, come and check out the swap.  Crafters are generous and you'll be able to pick up scrapbooking supplies, rubber stamps, fabric, etc. to get started.  We'll also have some craft storage containers to share as well. 

I'll provide refreshments.  Feel free to invite friends.  The swap will probably last around 2 hours but there is no time limit.

Here are the details . . .

What:  1st Annual Craft Stash Swap
When:  Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 2:00 pm
Where:  Brown Wren Acres
Why:  To trade extra  craft supplies with other crafters.
Who:  Anyone who like to recycle craft items

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Etsy Items

I finally got around to taking some pics of items I've been upcycling to put in my Etsy shop. 

I've got different styles for different folks.

Here's a button accented shoulder bag.

Here's a stylish tote bag for the "mom on the go".

Here is a retro looking apron I upcycled from 2 pillow cases. 

Who doesn't love a pink purse? 

Because I can't get enough of buttons, I added a pre-made button trim to this little tan cutie. 

I've still got Christmas items to put into the shop so I'd better get busy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall Garden Update

We're having some success in our Fall garden. 

We planted seeds and seedlings in August and hoped for the best.

Here's our Swiss Chard - one of my favorites.

This is a variety of cabbage called 45 day cabbage or "short" cabbage.  I need to research how to harvest it.  So far, no heads of cabbage are appearing and it's well past "45 days".  Anyone?  Ideas?

Our Sugar Snap peas are blooming now.  If I could just get a few pea pods, I'd be happy.

Here's the next round of peppers for me to pick.  I'm a bit apprehensive after my last adventure.

Here are some greens I'm experimenting with.  Mustard (Mizuna) to the right and broccoli raab to the left.

This is all of the spinach that came up.  That is, unless my chickens really like to eat spinach seedlings.

 And what do we have here?  A tomato plant trying to horn in on the Fall veggies?  Sorry babe, you don't stand a chance.  Don't you know you're a tropical plant?

Behind the sneaky tomato plant is a few green bean plants.  They are blooming right now but I'm not sure if we'll be able to harvest any beans.

In just a few days, all of these gardens will be covered with hoops and row covers to protect them from early frosts.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Natural Bathroom Cleaner

In my quest to be healthier, I'm venturing into the area of  home cleaning products. 

Lately, I've become more sensitive to the scents and chemicals used in everyday cleansers.

For the past month I've been experimenting with using borax, baking soda, vinegar, and lemon juice to clean my bathroom and kitchen.  My goal was to narrow down the ingredients to 1 or 2 basic items that would do most of the work for me.

Here's my choice:

I already use borax in my homemade laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent so it was one of the first products I tried. 

To clean my sinks, I simply wet a sponge, sprinkle a bit of the borax on it and scrub the sink.  Then I rinse the sponge out and use it to rinse the sink.  I dry and polish with an old dish towel.  My sink comes out clean and shiny.  I do the same with my shower and bathtub.  As for cleaning the toilets, I simply sprinkle some borax into the toilet (@ 2 Tbl.), scrub with the brush, and let it sit for a few hours.  I swish again with the brush and flush.  *I would let it sit longer, but I can't wait any longer to go to the bathroom - I know, TMI!

The amazing thing I've discovered is that the rings I have in my toilets due to well water are slowly disappearing.  I've tried every other chemical known to man to get rid of those rings.  Believe me, every chemical!  The rings aren't gone completely, but they're fading fast!

Borax works well because it's an alkali which cuts dirt, grease, and oil.  You can also add vinegar, lemon juice (or scrub with a lemon, cut in half) to get rid of soap scum. 

I'm really pleased with the results of my experiment.  I'm able to breath easier too!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Motivation: Door Mat Check Up


Often neglected, rarely looked at, always stepped on.

  No, I'm not describing how you might feel on a particular day.  I'm talking about door mats - the workhorse of the home.  They keep dirt from entering your abode.

Before the weather starts getting crazy around here, I want to take a closer look at my door mats.

Here's what I'll be looking for:
1.  Do the mats look worn or tattered?  Frayed edges can be a tripping hazard.  Worn out mats won't do their job very well.

2.   Are the mats the right size?  I've accidentally bought rugs that were too thick for my door to pass over easily.  Rugs that are too small won't be as affective.  Odd shaped rugs, though eye catching, might not catch enough dirt. 

3.  Are the mats the right material?  There are a variety of materials to be found.  Before investing in a mat, check it out by bending it, stepping on it, and rubbing your hand across it.  Will it collect dirt?  Will the decorative pattern rub off easily?  Will high heels catch on an open weave? 

4.   Is the mat heavy enough to stay put?  You certainly don't want rugs sliding around or blowing away.

5.  Is the mat easy to clean?  Because it's job is to collect dirt, you should be able to clean the mat with little effort.  Can you shake it clean?  Hose it down?  Vacuum it? 

If you have a lot of dirt tracked into your home like I do, you might want to put a mat at both the interior and exterior sides of the doorway.  If one is good, then two is better!  I put a rough textured mat outside and a nicer mat inside.  My  inside mats also absorb moisture so there won't be too many rain drips in the foyer. 

Doormat joke for the day:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Check your calendar - Time for a Craft Stash Swap (and a give-away)

If you're in the Hampton Roads area, mark your calendar for Saturday, November 20th.

I'll be having my first Craft Stash Swap at my home.

What's a Craft Stash Swap?

It's a party where everyone brings their extra craft supplies -  fabric, yarn, stamps, paper, stencils, patterns, craft books, anything crafty - to trade or share with others. 

As you can see, I have a lot of craft supplies.  I'm getting ready to redo my craft room, adding more work surface and better storage, so I want to weed out items I no longer use.  I have several stamp sets, hard cover craft books, and pieces of nice fabric.  I also have craft storage containers to share.

Any items left over after the sale will be donated (unless you want to take it back home with you - which your professional organizer highly discourages). 

Here are the details:
What:  1st annual Craft Stash Swap
Where:  Brown Wren Acres
When:  Saturday, November 20th  at 2:00 pm

Email me with your RSVP and I'll give you my address and directions if you need them.    I'll provide some yummy "Fallish" goodies and we'll have a great time. 

 Also, I am almost to 100 followers.  I'll be having a "give away"  when that wonderful moment happens!  Spread the word about Tidy Brown Wren so we can get there faster.  I'm preparing a lovely seasonal basket to give to someone special. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Feeling like Thirty-One

My friend, Donna, introduced me to a company called Thirty-One.  They have a variety of products designed to make our lives and our homes more functional, organized, and beautiful - all at the same time.

Oh, the name?  The company's mission statement is based on the 31st chapter of Proverbs in The Bible.  This chapter describes a godly woman providing for her family and taking care of them with purpose and grace.  The Thirty-One motto is "Products with purpose - opportunity for a lifetime". 

Donna gave me one of the products to "test drive" in my home.  I had a great time experimenting with the Square Utility Tote.

It would make a great library tote.  I loaded it down with some of my largest books and it handled them like a champ.  The two sturdy straps can handle much more weight than I could possibly carry.  The top rim is sturdy metal so it keeps the sides from folding over.  Clever!

I made a simple tag for the handle and used it in my guest room closet.  It held a set of sheets and towels well and looks much cuter than the plastic bin I was using. 

Next stop, bathroom.  I love seeing a cheerful container in my cabinet when I get ready in the morning.  The Square Utility Tote held my blow dryer, curling iron, and flat iron with plenty of room left over.  I could have fit 3 of each appliance in there with no trouble.  The material is sturdy and you can wipe it down with a damp cloth so there's no worry about getting any hair product on it.  It's very easy to clean.

At 9 inches tall, the tote slides nicely under a bed.  In a child's room this would be great for legos, blocks, and other small toys that need to be corralled.  Children are more apt to clean up their toys when they are easy to put away.

In my coat closet, I loaded it up with gloves, hats, and scarves.  You can see my old, ugly (but practical) bin on the shelf below.  At 12 1/2 square, the tote holds a lot!  I'm in love with the cheerful plaid - this pattern is called St. Andrews Tartan. 

Now, for the laundry room.  How great would this tote be to carry dry cleaning to the cleaners!?  Classy!  Because the tote is collapsible, it doesn't take up much room when being stored.

Lastly, I tried it out in the trunk of my car.  I filled it with my picnic blanket and first aide kit.  It's great for corralling items that would likely slide around in this cargo space.  As you can see, I still have enough room to add my cloth grocery bags to use when shopping.  And it's cute too!  Also, the material is Thirty One also carries a Large Utility Tote for those of you with larger families and more stuff. 

If you're interested in finding out more about these great products, here's Donna's contact info:

thirty-one consultant Donna Gelardos
(757) 482-2012

**I was not compensated for my review of this product.  I was interested in the products and Donna kindly let me borrow her tote to check it out.  If I found something I didn't like about the product, I would have told you.  Just lettin' ya know!