Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Motivation: Organizing The Dining Room

How did your dining room function for you for the Thanksgiving holiday?

Does it need to be organized before Christmas?

For the month of December we'll check out how to organize and spruce up the dining room.

This week we'll do some brain storming about the purpose of the room

Next week we'll get our hands dirty with purging and rearranging.

The following week we'll look at storage solutions.

Our last week will cover decorating and inspirational ideas.

So, let's do some brainstorming by asking some questions. . .

1.  Is this room used daily or occasionally?

2.  How many people use the room?

3.  What activities take place in this room?  (eating, homework, crafts, home office?)

4.  What items need to be stored in this room? (dishes, linens, school/office supplies?)

5.  How well does the lighting function?  Does extra lighting need to be added?

6.  Does the room need to be painted?

7.  How well does the flooring function?  Does it need to be cleaned or repaired?

8.  How about the window treatments?  Do they need to be changed out to allow more light in or do you need to add a light blocking option to make the room more comfortable?

9.  How does the room flow?  Would the room function better if some of the furniture was removed or rearranged?

So, get in your dining room and check it out with a discerning eye.  Pretend like you're walking into someone else's home.  How do you feel in the room?  A little too cozy?  A little too cold and sterile?  Next week we'll roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Blessed All Year Long

Wishing you and your family a very blessed and thankful Thanksgiving.

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow. 
  Praise Him All Creatures Here Below.
Praise Him Above Ye Heavenly Host. 
  Praise Father, Son, And Holy Ghost. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Function Trumps Form In The Pantry

When does aesthetics give up it's rights and give in to practicality? 

That is a question I have had to mull over in my little brain lately.

You see, I just couldn't leave my canning jars be canning jars.  I had to "cutify" my home canned relish, salsa, and tomatoes by adding tags and burlap toppers. 

It was fun while it lasted, but something had to go.  I had neglected to remember that burlap sheds.  Badly.

After several weeks of opening my pantry to find burlap dust on the shelves, I knew it was time to take action. 

I removed the burlap covers and left the hairbands and labels attached. 

Function over form.  I knew better - I really did - I just wanted to try something different.

The new hair bands and labels by themselves are working great.  Now my shelves are clean and tidy again. 

All better, now.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Motivation: Organizing Your Laundry Chores

I'm so glad I don't have to use this old washing machine for what it was originally made for.  I much prefer to plant flowers in it and set it on my back porch.

It's one of those chores that you either love or hate - doing the laundry.  Dirty laundry can quickly take over your home and cause you great consternation every morning when you try to get your family dressed for the day.

Every family will have different laundry needs and it's important to develop a schedule and routine that works for you instead of following what someone else does.  For some families it works better to finish all of the laundry in 1 or 2 days.  For others, it works better to run a load every day or every other day.   As your family grows, shrinks, and changes, you'll find that you will need to reevaluate your routine and adapt as necessary.

  Right now, as empty nesters, we (and when I say we - I mean me) wash 3 loads a week.  I don't use chlorine bleach, so I like to soak my lights/whites with detergent and an oxygen bleach overnight and then run the load in the morning.  I also do a load of darks and one of linens later in the week.

 When my kids were little, I ran a load of clothes every day.  I found that if I did too many loads in one day, I became overwhelmed with the folding and putting away later in the day.

You've heard of the adage "Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)"?  Well, that's particularly true of laundry.  Whatever you can do to keep the process simple will keep you from getting frustrated.  Here are some ideas that might help:
     1.  Keep laundry baskets near where clothes are removed.  Also, rethink whether you want to have a cover on the basket - that's one more barrier between you and putting the clothing where it belongs. 
     2.  Treat stains as soon as you know about them.  This will save you from accidentally washing and drying the untreated stains and thus setting them, ruining the clothing.
     3.  Keep extra laundry supplies on hand so you never run out.  Stock up on detergent and other items when they are on sale, or make your own in large batches.
     4.  Have a place handy for mending and dry cleaning to be kept until you can process it.  Otherwise, it will get forgotten about or accidentally tossed into the wash with the other laundry.
     5.  Keep a small basket for unmatched socks, found money, and other items you come across on laundry days.   Once a month, clean out the basket. Use the extra socks for dusting rags and toss the money into your change purse.  Any other items can be put away or thrown out. 
     6.  Reconsider how often you wear your clothing.  Years ago, people wore the same clothes all week - that's why every woman had an apron to wear over her dress to keep it as clean as possible.  Nowadays, we change clothes several times a day - hmmm. . .  makes me wonder! 
     7.  Think about how many clothes you actually own.  Many of us own so many clothes that we don't have storage space for them. That's why they are piled on top of dressers and stacked in the bottom of closets.  If you dread putting clothes away, or you don't even bother to put them away anymore - could it be that you simply have too many clothes?  If so, go through your closets and dressers and purge them of unnecessary items.
     8.  Make sure your laundry area has everything you need to do the laundry quickly and without unnecessary effort: 

                             a.  proper lighting
                             b.  storage for supplies
                             c.  a place for folding laundry
                             d.  a wastebasket
                             e.  a line or rack to dry laundry
                             f.  basket for unmatched socks and found money
                             g.  a place to hang your ironing board, iron, and hangers
                             h.  a rug or padded mat to stand on for comfort

If you're finding that you dread going into your laundry area because it's just too dreadfully drab, then now is the time to brighten it up.  Here are some ideas from Pinterest to get you started:

A patterened ironing board cover makes the board look like a piece of art.

Practical storage and an adorable rug make this laundry room bright and cheery as well as functional.
Why not hang a chandy in the laundry room - after all, you are the queen of the house.
Well, I hope you've been inspired to change up your laundry routine to make it work better for you and your family.  Be sure to share your ideas in the comment section or shoot me an email.  I'd love to see some pics as well, if you're willing to share. 

If you're wondering if line drying your clothes is beneficial, then check out this website that touts the positives of drying your clothes that way.  For a little chuckle, scroll down the page to see the picture about "global warming".  Cute!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guestroom Bed Begins It's Makeover

My first step in making over the guestroom on my third floor was to paint the bed I want to use in there.

I bought the bed at a junk sale over 20 years ago for $20.00 (my birthday money). 

See the bed frame leaning up against the back wall? 

I decided to paint it black to showcase the linens I plan on using. 

This shows the before (on the left) and the after in my official spraypainting area (a tarp thrown over my portable composter).  I used Krylon black spray paint in a satin finish. 

 In this photo, the paint is still shiny wet, but it dries to a nice satiny finish. I can't wait to see how great it looks in the new room.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Guest Room Begins It's Makeover

With the weather cooperating for a few more days, I decided to tackle the third floor bedroom. 

It had been my son's bedroom until last fall when he moved to the apartment over the detached garage. 

Now that it's been vacated, my brain has been dreaming about how to make it into a nice guest bedroom.  It has an adorable full bath attached, which makes it perfect. 

Here's what it looked like this morning - basically a storage room with extra furniture, linens, rugs, and pillows.  It also holds a gun cabinet which will be moved promptly.  Guests won't feel very "guesty" while staring at a bunch of rifles. 

Another nice feature of this room, besides the abundant sunshine, is the window seat.  The floor is solid wood except the raised area (where the bed will go) which is carpeted.  This room was originally a sun porch until the previous owner converted it into a bedroom.  Because of that, the ceiling is pretty low.

I got to work on the room this morning, patching nail holes and wiping down walls.  After that, I started painting the room a pale blue color.  Tomorrow, I'll show you what I did with the bed pictured in the first picture.  Everything's getting a makeover!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Motivation: Laundry Room Storage Solutions

I had a great time collecting ideas about laundry room storage to share with you.  There are a lot of creative people out there and their projects are amazing.

This first photo is one I have a paper copy of, stored in my file cabinet.  I have always loved the creative way this homeowner disguised their washer and dryer in their kitchen.  I think this came from Southern Living many years ago.  When the cabinets are closed, the counter can be used as a buffet.  When doing laundry, the homeowner can use the surface to fold laundry.  Brilliant!

This next photo is evidently one of my favorites because I pinned it several times on Pinterest  before I realized I had duplicates.  It looks like this laundry area is in a bathroom - maybe in a basement.  I love the baskets and the pull-out counter top.  Notice that the whole laundry area can be concealed with a Roman shade.
Martha Stewart

Jennifer gives the details about how she made over her laundry room.  Check out the link below the photos to visit her blog and get the juicy details.

Jennifer's laundry room makeover at

This laundry room has plenty of storage and the great sink is a nice bonus (although I would choose a deep sink).  I like the shelf over the hanging rod as well as the enclosed cabinets.  Very clean and fresh looking.

Laundry room modern laundry room

I love the colors that Nicole chose when redoing her laundry room.  Her room is the perfect blend of cheerful and functional.  Check out Nicole at  You have to go to her blog to see her pics. 

If you have the room, a large counter top island for folding laundry would be great.  If I had the room, I'd do this and extend the counter top so bar stools could float around and the area could be used for crafts and projects.

Add a Storage and Organizing Island

Southern Living

Who doesn't need a space to store cleaning supplies?  Here's a great closet that holds everything.  Wow!

So, what are your favorite storage solutions in your laundry room?  Any tricks you need to share. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

New Changes In My Studio

Some of you have inquired about my hit or miss blog posts lately. 

First, let me say, "I'm very, very sorry".

Secondly, let me say, "Tah Dah"!

It's done!

Hubs remodeled my studio for my Christmas present *cough* two years *cough* ago. 

The only thing he didn't do was finish the birch top and paint the drawer unit.  I am "The Painter" in our home and I wanted to finish it myself.  First I had to decide how I wanted to finish it (paint or stain?) and then I had to wait for weather that was neither too hot, too cold, nor too humid.  Well, there was also a gallbladder removal and  kidney transplant thrown in there sometime as well.

Well, I finally got my break in the weather and I had the renewed health to get to it.  I am sooooo happy it is finally done.

I love how the middle piece of the counter folds up so that I have extra work space but it can be folded down to make more room for when I want to work on the floor (I have a bad habit of covering every inch of the floor when I'm working on a big project).  Hubs used the mechanism from a damaged drop leaf table to hold the counter up. 

Here is the sewing side of the counter.  I have two book shelves that fit perfectly within a little cubby area behind the door.  The one on the left (behind the door) holds a lot of paper supplies and scrapbooking materials.  The right side holds only a small part of my fabric stash.  I have the neutral colors stored here and the many colored pieces are stored in a closet on the third floor.

Between the two book shelves, I have a small rod to hold items that are waiting to be mended and also finished Etsy items waiting to be photographed for the shop.   The space is also handy to store my mini ironing board and a trashcan to contain my discarded threads and fabric scraps when sewing.

I added to my collection of milk glass containers. They hold my punches, scissors, writing utensils, product tags, handmade Tidy Brown Wren business cards, and paperclips/binder clips.  Everything I need right at hand.

I spray painted my desktop baskets to lighten things up.  I also set up my spool lamp for extra light.  Notice my vintage "princess" phone?  We like to keep one corded phone in the house in case our power goes out.  Our cell phones don't work very well out in our rural area.

I'm glad I'm able to still use my roll-top desk interior.  Hubs rescued it from the side of the road 25 years ago. 

My antique printer's job case holds part of my rubber stamps. 

This is my grandma's tomato pin cushion.  It is nestled in a handmade sugar dish that lost it's lid (I will not mention who broke it). 

I thought I should show you what this room looks like clean and tidy, because it will not look like this for very long.  I've got a ton of projects and custom orders that need to be finished so I need to get to work - and I'm a very messy crafter.

I've got a few more touches that I would like to add to the space (like vintage pulls on the drawers), but they will have to wait until the holidays are over. 

I'm linking to:

The Shabby Nest

Furniture Feature Fridays

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Apple Cake: A Family Favorite

Whenever the cool breezes of fall start blowing, my tummy starts yearning for apple cake. 
 My mother-in-law always made this cake and it is definitely a family favorite.

It takes a little bit of time to put together, but it's surely worth every bit of effort.

First, I peel and slice about 6 large apples.  I like to use a crisp, pie-making apple.  You can also use an crank-style apple peeler to make the work go quickly.  I also juice an orange and zest the rind.

I add cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar to the apple slices and let them sit while I make the batter.  I also grease and flour a bundt pan or angel food cake pan. 

Alternate the apple slices and batter in the pan, ending with the apples. 

Here's where I should be showing you the beautiful, finished cake, but this is what happens in our house: 

And yes, the family voted it delicious while it lasted. 

Here's the recipe:

Nana's Apple Cake

6 large apples or 8 small ones, peeled and sliced
5 Tbl. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

Mix apples, sugar and spices and let sit to meld while making the batter.

3 cups flour (I use half whole wheat pastry flour)
2 cups sugar
1 cup melted coconut oil
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbl. orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 tsp. orange zest
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix batter ingredients together.  In a greased and floured tube pan, alternate batter and apple mixture, ending with apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Let cool for 10 minutes before removing to a cake plate.  I like to drizzle a simple glaze over the cake when it cools (1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, enough water to make a glaze that will drizzle).

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Motivation: Purging and Organizing The Laundry Room

Last April, I posted about my laundry room mini redo here and here.  The redo held up well and  the laundry room has been easy to work in.  I've rearranged my cabinets a few times - once in canning season to accommodate all of my canning paraphernalia and once during the holidays to accommodate my extra holiday supplies.   Supplies that aren't needed are moved to the "party pantry" temporarily.

Here's what my laundry room looked like before:

And then after:


And after:

There are two views because there are two doors in the tiny room (I know, what was the builder thinking!)  One door is from the hallway and one is from the kitchen.  The best part is that it is very convenient to the kitchen.

If you are planning to clear out your laundry room and organize it, here are some ideas to get you headed in the right direction:

1.  Remove any clean laundry sitting around.  If it is ready to be put away, then do that.  If it is clean laundry that needs another step (like mending or ironing), then place it out of the way so it doesn't get dirty during the purge.

2.  Set up a staging area near laundry room.  Because laundry rooms (or closets) are usually very small, it's best to remove items from the area while you're working on it.  You can use a table or even the floor.  Set up:
     a.  1 solid colored bag to contain trash
     b.  1 box or bag for items to be donated to a charity or sold at a yard sale
     c.  1 box or bag for items that need to be given to someone
     d.  1 box or bag for items that need to be moved to another room of the house (for instance - the hammer that needs to go to the garage)
     e.  make an area for each category of items you'll need in the room (cleaning supplies, pet supplies, tools, food, picnic supplies etc.)

3.  Starting at the door, go around the room picking up one or two items at a time.  Place each item in the proper category and/or bag.  Remember that items you have not used in a year should seriously be considered donate-giveaway-throw away.  Every extra item that stays in that room is a potential speed bump in your laundry race.

Let me say that again - Every extra item that stays in your laundry room is a potential speed bump in your laundry race.   

4.  Now is the time to fix or update any areas that need work.  Paint?  New lighting?  Shelves or cabinets?  If everything is staying the same, then give everything a good cleaning.  Move out the appliances and clean behind them and under them too. 

5.  Go back to your staging area.  Working with one category at a time, put the items away as close to where you'll use them as possible.  (Example:  laundry detergent near the washer, dog leash near the door)  Place frequently used items on shelves within your reach and infrequently used items up high or down low.  Heavy items should be stored on lower shelves for safety.

6.  If possible, try not to store anything on the floor to make it easier to clean.

7.  After every item is in place, turn to your bags and boxes of items that are not returning to the room.  Place the garbage in the outdoor can or dumpster.  Trust me - you don't need your family going through it!

8.  Place the donation bag in the back of your vehicle to drop off this week.  If having a yard sale, place bag of items with other yard sale items (since we've been going through the whole house this year, I bet you have a hum -dinger of a yard sale pile by now). 

9.  Go though the "belongs somewhere else" box/bag and return items to their proper place.  Do not leave in the box/bag to put away later.  I know from experience that the "temporary" spot will become permanent.  I'm just sayin' - do it now!

So, are you game?  Email me if you run into any problems and I'll talk you through it.  Now, I've got to get to my ironing pile.  It's nearly as tall as I am. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Enjoying Zinnias In and Out of the Garden.

I sure did enjoy all of my zinnias this summer.  I bought 2 packs of seeds in the spring and planted them at the edge of my veggie garden.

As the flowers faded, I collected the flower heads and dried them inside.

After enjoying them in my star shaped dish, I plan to keep the seeds from the flower heads and plant them next spring - free flowers!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Monday Motivation: Laundry Room Organizing

I've chosen November as the month to cover the topic of organizing the laundry room.


This first week we'll talk about how to decide what purpose your laundry room will serve.

Next week we'll cover how to purge unnecessary items and organize what you want to keep.

The third we'll look at storage options and appliances.

Lastly, we'll talk about laundry chores and fun ways to decorate the room.

So, this week is all about deciding what you'll use your laundry room for.  Here are some questions you'll want to ask yourself:

1.  How many people use this room?
2.  What types of laundry are handled in this room? (whites, lights, darks, linens, delicates, dry cleaning, diapers)
3.  Do you hand wash any laundry?
4.  Do you hang laundry up to dry?
5.  How many loads do you do in a week?
6.  What types of laundry products do you need to store?
7.  Do you need space to hold dirty laundry until it is washed?
8.  Where is clean laundry folded?
9.  Where is ironing done?
10.  Where is mending done?
11.  Does this room need to function for your pets?
12.  Do you use this room as a mud room?
13.  What other items need to be stored in this room? (sports equipment, school supplies, pet supplies, craft supplies, home cleaning equipment, food storage, outerwear and shoes/boots)

While you are taking a good look at the room, you should also look at what kind of shape your room is in.  Does it need to be painted?  Does it need new flooring or extra storage?   Do you have items that are piled up or sitting in boxes?  That is a sign that you need more storage (or proper storage). 

Ready to get started?  Don't forget to take some "before" pictures so you can look back and see what an improvement you've made when you're finished.