Friday, January 14, 2011

Dollar Section Fixer-Uppers

I shall begin by saying that the dollar section in Target is like crack to me. Resistance is futile, even if I manage to stroll on by at the beginning of my shopping trip, it inevitably sucks me in when I am getting ready to check out. Such deals! Such clutter and junk! But I love it, and sometimes there are some really super finds.
The last time I was there I saw some golden opportunities, items I knew I could fix up and use for storage in my craft room. I had been pricing magazine holders for a while, and lo and behold there they were in the dollar section. They may be cardboard, but that is good enough for me, after all, that's usually what the expensive ones are made of anyway (the ones Target sells are around 10.00 a piece for the cardboard "pretty" ones), and it's not like I'm using them to hold weights or anything. There were also some little bins for Valentine's day, that were begging to be made over for my craft room. How could I let them down?
So these are two projects for you, and they are surprisingly simple and inexpensive.
These are the bins before:

My initial idea was to cover them in beige fabric, then embellish it. After days of mod podge induced delusions of grandeur, I ripped the fabric off and almost gave up on the whole stupid thing. So, I took the easy way out: spray adhesive and scrapbook paper. Ahh, life is so much easier with those two items, and the job flied by. I simply made a template, cut out the pieces, sprayed and stuck. Super easy, and when it dried I added some ribbon and a tag holder. Some of the ribbon went on a little crooked, but I am trying to ignore it. Here is the finished product:

The second project was the magazine holders, which started out looking like this:

And ended up looking like this, using the same spray and stick technique. I found some great paper on sale at Michaels for 29 cents a sheet, the tag holders are 2.99 for 3, which I used a 40% coupon for, so all told these cost about 2.00 a piece. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

Sorry about the picture quality, I probably should have waited until daylight to take the pictures, but I couldn't resist sharing!
I hope you try these dollar section projects, there will be more to come.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Well Organized Pantry

I organized my pantry this week, and decided that this would be a good time to provide some tips on keeping this, an essential hub of the home tidy and neat. I like tasks like organizing a pantry because in my disorganized world, it is something that is relatively easy to accomplish and maintain. I, for one, struggle daily with maintaining order in my home, but I am trying to stick to the wise words of my sister who once told me to pick a small task and do it to completion. Completion. What a wonderful word, one that I do not accomplish very often. This is where projects like the pantry come into play. You see, a pantry is one, enclosed space. When it is done, it is done, and no matter how cluttered or ugly your pantry is, when you are organizing it, you can still see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is much easier to say "today, I will organize the pantry" than to say "today, I am going to get this house organized." After I organized the pantry, I felt elated that I had completed a task, which gave me the energy and incentive to accomplish other small tasks. The beauty in a well organized pantry is that once the initial purge/re-organization is complete, it is actually quite easy to keep it that way. Another thing I like, since I tend to organize then destroy.
As a matter of fact, organize then destroy pretty much sums up my world, and I am sure I am not alone in this.
So in the spirit of taking baby steps to organize my home, I'll share the first babystep, which for me was the pantry.
The first step is to take everything, and I do indeed mean everything out of the pantry. This is essential, as the clear shelves will give you clear direction.
Now wipe down the shelves and line them if you desire (I think it goes without saying that mine were already lined LOL).
Once you get everything out, check all of the expiration dates on your products, and toss anything that is expired or that you have no intentions of using. When I remove everything, I sort it on my table and countertops by category; pasta and grains, breakfast items, baking supplies, ziploc bags and such. This was the biggest pain of the project, yet I forged ahead (after taking a break and considering scrapping the whole thing).
After sorting and tossing, it was time to re-package. I love jars and containers, and I try to put most of my goods into glass canning jars. They are inexpensive and sold in cases of 12. You can even find them at your local grocery store. I like transferring things to jars because I think they keep food fresh, you avoid things like spilled bags of rice on your shelves, and because I will do whatever it takes to keep ants away (I have a fear - yes, a real fear of ants). I also love jars because they make the ordinary look lovely. In our last house, we had no pantry. No pantry at all, so I purchased a pine shelving unit and made an exposed pantry. Well, when your pantry is exposed for the world to see, you want things to look nice and jars are the answer for that.

Now that you have put everything into nice containers, it is time to re-stock. I use inexpensive shelf risers for canned goods, and turn all of the labels forward facing, with the cans grouped by type (tomato products, soup, etc.) As I was doing this I kind of felt like the husband in "Sleeping With The Enemy", but it does look nice!
I grouped breakfast items together, then baking, cat items, etc.

So now the pantry is complete, and it is easy to keep it that way. A little corner of my world that is organized, even when the rest of it might be chaos. The best advice I can offer is that when you take everything out and start to feel that overwhelmed, panicked feeling, keep going. The entire thing took less than an hour, and the sense of accomplishment is well worth it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Craft Rooms Are Not For Kids

This week, I have been working on getting my craft room in order. This is turning out to be quite the task, since I am indecisive while at the same time quite particular about how things should look. While unpacking my supplies and trying to get things organized, I have once again been exposed to the brutal and annoying truth: craft rooms are not for kids. Now, I love crafting with my son. I also hate it. For example, the other day I let him use some of my acrylic paints to make pictures. It was a wonderful time, he loved it, and I loved watching him be creative. Since that day, he wants to paint every day, which is not always possible, added to the fact that his idea of painting has evolved into squeezing out ungodly amounts of paint and making a mess.
If I had been smart, I would have hidden the real paint, letting him live in ignorant bliss that watercolors were the be all end all of painting. How much easier my life would have been this week if only I had concealed the real paint.
My loving husband, who is in full support of my craft room dreams, says "this is mama's sanctuary - you stay out",and bought me a lock today, so I can keep the little one out. While I am thrilled to have a lock, it is self control I need. I let this happen, and I need to fix it. I want to do creative things with my son, but I need to realize the construction paper is for him, while the $1.00 a sheet scrapbook paper is mine. So I guess the lock is the answer. If I can keep the boy out of the room, I don't have to feel guilty about hoarding the good stuff for myself.
This may seem, to the casual observer, as nothing more than a discipline issue. And to that observer, you would be correct. But the lack of discipline is not with my son, it is with me. I love to watch him create, so I let him go through my stuff. My mistake, but I assure you it won't happen again.
Now to start my next craft project. What is it? Well, friends, it's a sign for the craft room. Can you guess what it is going to say?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Shelf Liner, How Do I love Thee...

Apparently enough to start blogging again!
We have moved quite a bit in the past few years, and through every move I have one hard and fast rule: Nothing goes on a shelf or in a drawer until said shelf/drawer is lined.
Every time we move, the first thing I do is line the shelves. I don't mean the old contact paper sticky shelf liner, I use liner that is non adhesive. As a bacteria freak, the thought of putting my drinking glasses and towels on shelves that someone has used before me gives me the creeps, even after I have sanitized them. In new houses, I still line the shelves, since I also like the easy clean up and streamlined appearance.
The benefits of lining the shelves are many, these are the reasons I do it:
Sanitation - You never know what somebody before you did to the shelves or cupboards, and I am not willing to risk it, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms. Really, do you want to set your stuff down in a bathroom that somebody else has used for who knows what?
Protection: Shelf liner offers some degree of protection for the shelves and cupboards, making cleanup easier and offering some insurance against under the sink floods and water damage. When you move out, the shelves are in the exact condition you found them in, with no crumbs or dings.
This is particularly helpful if you are renting.
It also helps protect your glassware and crystal from chips and dings by cushioning the shelf. This, in and of itself is reason enough to line, at least in my opinion.

Unfortunately, if you have a lot of cabinet space, it will take a lot of liner, and it can get expensive quickly. So I recommend doing it in stages. One roll of liner does not go very far. Lowe's sells jumbo rolls, available in white or beige, which I have found to be the most economical choice.

Cutting your shelf liner is a pain in the butt, the cuts almost never come off straight, then when you lay it in the drawer it inevitably veers off course and looks sloppy. I dealt with drunken shelf liner for years until I wised up and decided to use my quilting tools to get straight cuts. If you quilt or sew, you probably already have a rotary cutter and mat around the house.
If you don't, you can still use scissors; however, if you are lining every shelf and drawer in your house, I would invest in a rotary cutter and mat. You can get both for around twenty bucks, and it will save you quite a bit of aggravation.
This is the shelf liner I use, it comes in two different sizes:

I use a rotary cutter, available at craft stores or even Wal-Mart. A note to quilters, I save this blade for cutting shelf liner or other things, as it dulls the blade quickly and will no longer give you a clean cut on fabric.
Measure your drawer or shelf, lay it down on the mat and cut. The rotary cutter is like an exacto knife on a wheel, it is effortless to use and when paired with a ruler to guide it makes a perfectly straight cut.

Lay it in the drawer or shelf, and you are done! It makes everything look clean and tidy.
Here I have used it in my kitchen, don't mind the overlap in the back of the cupboard, some trimming is too time consuming for me, since I have 5,000 cabinets in the house I am living in (finally, real storage!! I love it!)

Even my junk drawer looks classy! (For now, LOL.)

I could go on for days about the wonders of shelf liner, but that would bore you all. Now go forth and line those shelves!