Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Motivation: 10 Things To Get Rid Of

One of my favorite things to do is throw away (or give away or recycle) items that I no longer need.  I try to strive for at least 10 items but this week I worked on 10 categories. 

Here's what I got rid of:

     1.  Candles:
               . . .  whose scent I didn't care for.  I sold them at my daughter's yard sale.
               . . .  that just don't look good anymore.  I threw them away.
     2.  CDs:
               . . .  those I never listen to.
               . . .  those I had duplicates of.  I sold them all.

     3.  Books:
               . . .   any that I never intend to read again.  I sold them.
               . . .   those that belonged to someone else.  I returned them.
               . . .   old coloring books (some 20 years old) were thrown away.

     4.  Vases:
               . . .  duplicate sized vases.  I saved my favorite of each size and sold the rest.
               . . .  any that were chipped or had permanently etched water marks.  I actually sold several.
     5.  Magazines:
               . . . old magazines were added to the "free" box at the yard sale.
               . . .  my old collection of cooking magazines are ready for me to go through and glean only
                      the recipes I actually use.  The rest will be donated or recycled.

     6.  Old School Supplies:
               . . .  any that were still usable I donated to a school.
               . . .  paper that was not in donating condition was recycled.

     7.  Sad Looking Houseplants:
               . . . I added worn out plants to my compost pile
               . . .  any diseased plants were thrown away so the disease would not be spread to other

     8.  Napkins and Placemats:
               . . .   any "loners" or patterns I no longer use were added to the yard sale pile.
               . . .   I'll upcycle several of my favorite patterns that don't provide enough place settings
                       to make bags and aprons.

     9.  Coasters:
                . . .  how many coasters do we really need?  Not as many as I had!  Sold them!
                . . .  any that were beyond their lifespan were discarded.

    10.  Serving Pieces:
               . . .   if I haven't used a piece in the past year then it went in the yard sale box.
               . . .   not sure how disposable pieces got stored in my dining room sideboard, but they
                       went to the recycling bin.

So, what will you get rid of this week?  Be sure to tell us in the comment section. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

I Borrowed From The Recycling Bin To Organize My Drawers

I came across a stash of Crisco shortening containers that I had saved from my days of eating poorly.  I had saved the containers thinking I would use them to store small craft supplies.  Since that never happened, I decided to toss them into the recycling bin. 

Upon further thought, I pulled them back out of the bin and gave them a trial fit in my dining room sideboard drawers.  YES!  They fit perfectly.   

I lined them up, side by side, and used them to hold napkin holders, toothpick holders, and small easels that I use to hold food labels at buffets.

Another drawer already held a wooden silverware tray that I ordered from The Container Store, but the shortening containers fit neatly next to the tray and held spreaders, picks, and salt and pepper shakers. 

I'm very happy with my "free" dividers.  I decided not to use the lids that came with the containers, but if I had deeper drawers, I might have used the lids and stacked some of the containers for more storage. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Turning A Broken Bird Bath Into A Planter

When we moved into our home 6 years ago, there was a sad looking concrete birdbath smack-dab in the middle of the yard.  It had a funny little squirrel "climbing" up the base.  The top was cracked and would not hold water.  I moved it into a flower garden we made, but it still looked bad.

I tried to patch it by spreading a concrete patching compound over the bowl but it failed miserably.  I was left with a mess, but hated to get rid of the funky little birdbath

After pondering for a bit, I decided to make a planter out of it.  After all, it did have good drainage - in fact, it didn't hold water at all!  I planted 2 types of sedum, 1 type of rockfoil (red flowers), and 1 type of lithodora (blue flowers).  All of the plants like full sun, little water and are perennials.  I also tried to get a combination of spring and summer bloomers so that there would be seasonal interest all during the growing season.

It's nice to see the funky little birdbath functioning again - even if it's not hydrating our birds. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Making A Table Spring Centerpiece Using What You Already Have

I wanted to show you how simple it is to make a centerpiece using what you already have on hand.

I made a dozen of these little vases for a women's event at my church. 

First, I gathered all of my white vases.  Since I was a few short, I made a quick trip to the thrift store and picked up some more.  I was still 2 short, so I bought cheap clear florist's vases and painted the inside white. 

To make the innards, I picked up sticks from my yard and arranged them in my hand.  Then I wrapped grocery bags and newspaper (from the recycling bin) around the base of the sticks. 

Then I stuck the whole shebang into one of the vases.  I covered up the recyclables with green excelsior left over from making the party favors.

I cut small pieces of recycled tissue paper into small squares and glued them onto the sticks.  I used Tacky Glue instead of a hot glue gun because, frankly, I hate to burn my fingers.  The Tacky Glue is thick enough to hold the paper into place until it dries. 

I added one of the vases to a tray on my dining room table for my spring centerpiece.  Everything on the tray was bought second hand except the beautiful bird's nest which I recently purchased at Keep Good Company in Richmond, Virginia.  Actually, the tray and table runner were also purchases at thrift stores too.


So, get outside and pick up some sticks!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wrensday: Making New Tomato Plants

I've been growing three different kinds of tomato plants from seed in my garage under grow lights.  I put them outside on Saturday to get some real sun, and one of the plants broke off when a strong breeze came along.  Bummer!

I picked off the broken stem and put it in a small glass of water on my window sill.

After just a few days, roots have started to grow.  In a few more days, I'll plant it in a pot and when the weather warms up enough, I'll plant it in my garden. 

This also works later in the summer when your tomato plants get leggy and stop producing.  Just cut off some of the branch tips and root them in water for new tomato plants.  Last year I still had tomatoes growing in October because I started some new plants in mid July. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Motivation: Clean The Gardening Tools

                                           The last of the kale and collards

I was excited to finally get out in my garden this past weekend and get some work done.  If you're like me, you didn't give your gardening tools much thought last fall when you put them away. 

When I opened the door to my tool storage area, I was ashamed at how I had stored the tools.  There was dirt still hanging from the shovels, pine straw on the rakes, and sap on the pruners.  Bummer.

I pulled everything out, swept the area clean, and got to work.  Here's what I did to get my tools back in shape.

1.  I washed off caked-on dirt, mulch and dried grass from the gardening tools.  I scrubbed with a stiff bristled brush and then rinsed with water.  I let everything dry in the sun.

2.  For pruners, loppers, and cutters (is that a proper word?) I wiped the blades with paint thinner to remove sap and tree pitch.  On one pair I had to use some steel wool because the spots were so stubborn.

3.  I sprayed all of the tools with WD40 and rubbed them well.  Then I took some paper towels and wiped off all of the excess. 

4.  I didn't need to do this step, but if necessary, I could have used a metal file to smooth shovel edges or pruner blades.

5.  I added a few extra hooks and nails to the storage area so that none of my tools were sitting on the ground.  I also added a small container  near my backdoor so I can keep my small trowels, gloves, and pruners where I can grab them as I head out to the garden. 

Let the gardening season begin! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wrensday: Bluebirds Are Househunting

A few weeks ago, before the trees got some green on them, we had some bluebird visitors to Brown Wren Acres.

The beautiful bluebird couple came to house hunt at one of our bluebird houses.  I wonder if it is the same couple who came by last year?  This lovely, one bedroom house has a roomy entrance, clean floors, and a snake barrier for safety.  It stands in an organic vegetable garden with lots of worms and bugs.  It's close to birdbaths and trees. Move-in ready!

Daddy bluebird checks out the neighborhood from high up in the tree tops.  He wants to make sure his babies will be safe. 

Mama bluebird looks uninterested in the structure.  I have a feeling they will pick the bluebird house near the goat pen like a bird family did last year. 

The bluebird house is on a fence post just outside of this picture, but you get the idea.  Bubba (the lighter goat) loves to butt his head against all of the fence posts.  I can't imagine why any sensible bird mother would want her babies to be born in such a noisy, vibrating house.  Maybe the goats offer a sense of protection?  Maybe not. . . See how the goats have climbed up onto the wood?  It's because they are afraid of the chickens.  Yup!  Scaredy cats - I mean - Scaredy Goats!  Good Grief.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Motivation: Organizing The Bedroom

Here it is, the first week in April.  That means it must be time for Monday Motivation.  If you're new to this blog, we're tackling one area of our homes each month.  By the end of the year, the whole house will have been purged, organized, and cleaned.  It's an organized way to evaluate our homes and stay on top of things.  Won't you join us? 

If you've missed the first couple of months, don't worry.  Just jump in right now and start with your bedroom during the month of April. 

For those of you who have been with me for awhile, you know what to do.  Here's a compilation of Monday Motivations from last April:

Monday Motivation: Organizing The Bedroom

So far this year we've organized the entrance, kitchen, and bathrooms. Now we're ready to work on the bedroom.

It's the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we see when before we close our eyes to sleep. What we should be looking at is something like this. . .

But, in reality, this is what it usually looks like. . .

Most of the time, when I'm called in to help stage a home, I encounter an overstuffed master bedroom. What I mean by overstuffed is too much furniture, too many clothes, and too many items that don't belong in a bedroom.

A lot of people, including myself, tend to put stuff in the bedroom that doesn't belong because we don't know what else to do with it. It becomes a staging area for projects, laundry, exercise equipment, and "stuff".

So how do we get from ransacked to restful? I thought you'd never ask! Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. What do I want this room to feel like? Restful retreat, romantic getaway (TMI), or an inspired haven?

2. What pieces of furniture could be gotten rid of? Bookshelves, dressers, chairs, exercise equipment?

3. What items end up in your bedroom that don't belong there? Toys, paperwork, laundry?

4. Are there any repairs that need to be made? Loose handles, broken curtain rods, stuck door?

5. What activities will take place in the bedroom? Reading, bill paying, television watching?

Color has a lot of responsibility in setting the tone of the bedroom. Do you want calm and relaxing? Pick solid colors in soothing blues, greens, and creams.

Desiring a romantic feel? Choose a monochromatic style in either light or dark tones. Light colors are more spa-like and darker tones are more lounge-like.

When deciding to weed through furniture: less is better. The above photo shows a furniture showroom. It is a look that you don't want to copy for your home.

I'm dealing with this situation right now in my own bedroom. Hubs and I bought our furniture when we lived in a larger house. We love our furniture and spent over 2 years picking out the pieces. My solution, when I have more energy, is to recess a dresser into an unused space next to our chimney. With a bit of trim work, the piece will fit nicely.

The master bedroom tends to collect "stuff". We're never quite sure how the "stuff" ends up there, but after awhile, we don't even see it anymore. I've seen a lot of bedrooms that looked more like storage units than bedrooms.

Got stuff? Here's a quick method to declutter:
1. Get 3 boxes and a black garbage bag.
2. Starting near the door, pick up items and make an immediate decision about the item. Items that stay in the room go into box #1. Items that belong somewhere else in the house go in box #2. Items to be donated go into box #3. Garbage goes into the garbage bag.
3. Continue around the room (even under the bed).
4. Only what is in box #1 can stay in the room.

A lot of my clients regret not making repairs to their rooms sooner. I think most of us overestimate how long repairs will take and we just don't want to take the time. I always carry my bag of quick fixes and a small tool box when I work and that way we can take care of small repairs when we find them.

Have you decided what activities will take place in your bedroom? Paying bills? Then you'll probably want a small desk or file cabinet in the room. In my previous home, I used a 2 drawer file cabinet as a bedside table. I topped it with a round piece of wood, covered with a table cloth, and no one was the wiser.

If you want to read in bed, you'll need proper lighting and a place to keep your reading material. A bedside table that has drawers or shelves would be needed.

So, take a gander around your bedroom with fresh eyes. Have you been overlooking some things? Next week we'll be looking at storage solutions and ideas.

Monday Motivation: Bedroom Storage Solutions

You only had a holiday from Monday Motivation last week because I was having a kidney transplant!

Now, let's get back to work!

When we last got together, we were evaluating the bedroom to see what worked and didn't. Hopefully you've decluttered, moved out unnecessary furniture, and made any necessary repairs to the room.

Now, we need to make sure you're using the storage you have efficiently. I find that a lot of my clients purchase extra storage containers, including furniture, when they don't really need it. The problem is that they really have TOO MUCH STUFF. I know, it's hard to hear. But, I need to hear it, too.

If you have not gone through your closets and drawers already, now is the time to do it. I've already posted about how to do this, so just check out. . .

A lot of master bedrooms hold a typical furniture set that was purchased all at the same time at a large furniture showroom. I know that's what we did years ago.

If you have one of these sets, and find that it's not functioning for you, you have my permission to break up the set. Really, you do. I have a master bedroom dresser, minus the mirror, as a sideboard in my dining area. The drawer space is more practical than a china cabinet for holding large amounts dishes, linens, and accessories.

Below is a picture of my "dresser" used as a dessert buffet at Thanksgiving.

You can also use a dresser in the family room as a console table, storing games, music, and such out of sight. If you have a very large foyer, you can use one as a storage unit for gloves, hats, backpacks - anything, really.

But I can hear you saying, "what do I put my clothes in now that I've moved my dresser to the dining room?"

I knew you'd be wondering. If you have limited square footage in your bedroom, it's always best to go vertical. Tall wardrobes can hold a lot of clothing and not take up much floor space. I also like to look at drawer size as well. Some beautiful dressers are not functional at all because they have a lot of tiny drawers that only hold 4 pairs of socks or 2 undershirts. Large drawers that slide out easily make putting away laundry and getting dressed 10 times easier.

If you want to use a wardrobe that doesn't have drawers in the top section, you can use storage bins or baskets as "drawers" for your clothing and accessories.

If you are very limited on floor space, there are containers you can purchase to slide under your bed for added storage. If your bed sits a little too low to store something under it, you can lift it up with very inexpensive risers. I find them all the time at the thrift store and use them when I stage homes to give the bed more "presence" in the room. You simply put a riser under each leg of the bed and let the bed skirt cover the riser. Sometimes I have to use a longer bed skirt (or a double one) to cover it completely.

Another place to add extra storage in a bedroom is to make sure your bedside tables have storage capacity. Drawers, shelves, and drawers are all nice features and keep bedside clutter to a minimum. I use a little caddy next to my side of the bed because I don't have room for a piece of furniture next to my bed. I made mine out of fabric, but here is a nice one I found.

I'd love to hear about what other storage solutions you might have come up with to organize your bedroom. Please share about them in the comment section so we can all learn from each other.

Monday Motivation: Favorite Organizing Solutions For The Bedroom

Yes, this Monday Motivation is being posted on a Tuesday. Better late than never, I say.

We're just about finished with organizing the bedroom. All of the big areas have been covered in previous weeks and now all that is left is figuring out what to do with those little accessories we have in our bedrooms. I've discovered that if I don't have a place for my accessories to "live" they just pile up on any horizontal surface in the bedroom.

Here are some creative ideas that I've saved in my idea file. I don't personally use all of them, but they are good solutions to check out if you have a particular need for storage.

First, is jewelry storage solutions. Here is a wall-hung necklace holder. It looks like a wall hung mirror but you can open it and store your necklaces, tangle free. Two of them, side by side, could replace a large mirror over your dresser.

Next, is an almost free solution. Little bowls or dishes set inside a dresser drawer hold all manner of jewelry. You could also use this idea for make-up, finger nail polish, and perfumes.

Scarves are all the rage right now, and this unique hanger is a great tangle free solution for storing them. Hung in the closet, it doesn't take up much room at all.

This is one of my most used storage solutions. I have a lot of these in different closets around the house. They can store sweaters, shoes, purses, folded jeans, pajamas, anything really. I also use them in my craft room to hold fabric, sorted by color. I love, love, love this item.

Lastly, a really inexpensive option to store earrings in is a divided storage box that is sold in craft stores and even in the fishing section of department stores. You can line the bottom with felt if you're worried about your jewelry getting scratched.
I'd love to hear what solutions you use for your accessories. Please tell us about them in the comments section.