A Cleaner Basement







The five shop lights were sold.

The paint cans were sorted. So many of the paint cans that had belonged to the original owners of this house had paint in them that was rock hard. With glee, I threw that paint in the trash. Then, I made a huge pile of the old oil-based paints in colors I will never use, pea soup or aluminum anyone?, to drop off at an upcoming household hazardous Montgomery county collection. Finally, I organized all the remaining paints and painting supplies that I wanted to keep.

The best part is all the toxic paints are no longer in Elly’s reach. Thankfully, she has never been a child to try to drink unknown liquids but it still makes me sleep better at night.

Anything metal that was of no use to me went to my scrap metal gal. In exchange, Elly got 3 bottles of bubbles. It was a fair trade in her eyes.

The bakers rack was moved to the oil room where it now stores all my kitchen gadgets that I use only a few times a year or less. This little move not only cleared out my laundry area where the rack was but it also cleared out the closet under the basement stairs where all my kitchen gadgets had been housed. I am eyeing the empty closet shelves for my craft supplies.

Dan’s tools were for the very first time organized. I didn’t go overboard here because Dan prefers a certain amount of chaos, but I did group all of his tool boxes together and all of his accessories together.

This was a cheap transformation. The only supplies I purchased were a new metal organizer for Dan and a fistful of paint hardener packs to get rid of the old paints that had only dried out halfway.

It took me a full month to clean this space out working just a few minutes here and there.

Thank you to Laura and her 31 day organizational challenge for providing me the motivation and the encouragement to follow through.


Updated with questionnaire: 

1. What space did you decide to organize and why?

2. What steps did you take to ensure you completed the space within the 31 day timeline?
I tried to set aside time each week to tackle another section of the basement. I even dedicated my only child-free time to it. 

3. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part was figuring out what to do with all the hazardous materials that we had stashed in the basement, such as the dehumidifiers that had Freon in them, the oil-based paints and the materials used in staining furniture. 

4. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?
Anything metal was given to my local scrap metal lady. Anything hazardous was put in a pile to take to the next county clean-up day. All unwanted latex paint was thrown in the trash. Some items that Dan objected to my donating were sold on eBay. 

5. Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge?
Selling the shop lights that had sat in our basement for 8 years. It cleared up so much space. 

6. Explain any organizing “tools” you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries?
I just used the honesty tool. If I hadn’t used the paint or the tool in the past 5 years, I had to be honest with myself and admit that I was never going to use it. 

7. What is ONE piece of organizing advice you’ve learned on this journey that you could encourage someone else with?
Your motto. A lot of organizing can be accomplished in 15 minutes. There is no need to set aside hours to tackle one big project. Tackle the project little by little. 


Easter Eggs

Dan was sick last week.
This week Elly and I are sick.

The house is a mess.
Very little food is getting cooked.
Sometimes we wear our pajamas until noon.

Yesterday was like that.

To pass the time, we dyed Easter eggs.

Elly dyed each egg a different color.

When they had dried, I encouraged Elly to add stickers to her eggs. The sheet inside the Paas kit has something like 50 stickers. Elly, ever the lover of simplicity, added just 1 sticker to each egg.

This year Dan and I decided that Elly would of course get a basket Easter morning but there would be no mention of the Easter bunny bringing it. Neither of us grew up with that tradition and it seemed like a hard thing to deceive her on especially since the eggs in her basket would be the eggs she dyed today. Surely she would recognize her own eggs.

Is the Easter Bunny a part of your Easter celebration?

Thank You eBay

For 8 years, shop lights sat in my basement unused. They had belonged to the previous owners but were taken down when we bought the house because they did not meet the current code laws.

At first, Dan was going to give them to a friend. Yet, the friend ended up buying a new set of shop lights for his garage. Still Dan kept our shop lights because shop lights aren’t cheap and surely someone someday could use them. Gah! I put up with this nonsensical logic until the day I started the 31-day organizational challenge. Then, I took aim at those lights.

I wanted them gone. Dan was still unwilling to just throw them out or even donate them. Finally, I came up with a compromise. What if I sold the shop lights? Dan loved the idea.

I tried the Pottstown Yard Sale page on Facebook. No dice.

I tried Craigslist. Two people were interested, but neither was willing to pick the lights up.

With little hope, I listed them on eBay as a local pickup and in less than 48 hours they were sold and a man was knocking on my door to pick them up. I couldn’t thank him enough.

Dresden Quilt Progress

The Dresden plates are being appliqued to the awesome wheel fabric I found at my local quilt shop. Have I mentioned how much I love Generations Quilt Shop lately? Their fabric selection is unbelievable. Seriously, if you live in the Pottstown area, you have to visit.

I’m not sure if you can see in that photo, but I am hand basting the plates down, since they are so huge and I did not want to leave a million pins in the plates during the assembly of the quilt top.

In addition to the wheel fabric, I bought fabric for the sashing and for the backing.

The polka dot fabric will be used for the sashing and perhaps the binding. The circle fabric will be used for the backing and maybe the border. I haven’t decided yet.

Knitting in between the Quilting

Work on the Dresden plate quilt continues but at this stage it is not portable, so I have picked my knitting needles back up.

The pattern is called the Ten Stitch Blanket.

My plan is to use it as a rug in our bedroom. As much as I love our hardwood floors, they are cold. A rug would warm things up and provide Jake, who is getting old, another soft spot to rest on.

The yarn is Briggs & Little Heritage wool, a gift from my mother-in-law.

To brighten the dark blue up, I plan to incorporate SewSpun‘s fall yarn though I am not entirely sure how yet.

A Quilt for Me

Every single quilt I have ever made has been given away as a gift, mostly to expectant moms or to my own daughter.

This time, I am keeping a quilt for me. It is to hang in our bedroom once Dan nails a short board to our wall.

The quilt started as a cloth calendar that I purchased because I loved the picture.

Not needing a calendar of 1978, I cut the calendar section off and went about saving the picture. Two borders that highlighted the blue and orange color scheme of the picture, which happens to be the color scheme of our bedroom, were added.

Then, I hand quilted around the trees, clouds and shrubs. I learned that a good needle and a good leather thimble are worth their weight in gold.

Finally, I added a black border to make it blend in with the rest of the pictures hanging on our walls. The end result looks like this.

I sewed velcro on the back of the quilt as that is how the quilt will be adhered to the board on the bedroom wall.


Though Dan has never been a fan of the bright orange accents I like to add around our bedroom, he does like this quilt, which is a good thing because I’m giddy to see it hanging in our bedroom.

Sunday Snapshots (of decorating boxes)

The large boxes that arrive from Amazon are highly sought after from Elly. She loves to climb inside them and decorate them from the inside out.

Recently, I bought her a half pound of pom poms as well as a bag of feathers.

Elly put them both to good use while decorating the latest box that arrived on our doorstep.

Yeah, Elly gets serious about her decorating. Don’t even think about borrowing her bottle of glue when she is on a roll. The answer is no.

Come On Spring!

Winter needs to leave now. The cold weather is keeping me from my garden. Seeds for the garden arrived 2 months ago, but it’s still too cold to plant them.

The cold weather is NOT keeping Elly from doing what she loves to do:

playing in her sandbox

(note the boots)

and swinging

Balls of steel my girl has!

Flea Market Finds

On Sunday, there was a flea market at a nearby firehouse in Gilbertsville.

I found too many amazing finds that I had to bring home.

a new sewing box

It took me no time at all to fill it with my sewing notions.

an eggnog set for making and drinking homemade eggnog

If you have never had homemade eggnog, then you have never had eggnog. The homemade version is so different and superior in every way compared to the store-bought version. It’s heavenly light unlike the store-bought version that is so thick you could probably stand toothpicks up in it.

cookie cutters that I bought from my next door neighbor

Thanks to him I have added a turkey, a chicken, a goose and a camel to my collection.

an apron with pockets!

I loved the color and did I mention that it had pockets? Oh, yeah. It has pockets. I love pockets in aprons.

The best find was a new bird feeder.

Elly and I love it! It’s so whimsical and fun!

Dan is hoping that it will grow on him.

My neighbor who was at the flea market and whom I bought the cookie cutters from told me not to hang it on the side of my house that was close to his house. Then, perhaps to soften the criticism because he could see I really loved it, he told me that I would be the only person on the block with such a unique bird feeder.

He’s right. Nobody else will have this bird feeder. I love it all the more now.

Hand crafted by Alan Hammer

Cleaning Out and Cleaning Up a Basement

The pictures say it all.

The alcove

The tool bench

The back of the laundry room

It’s a hot mess down in our basement.

In my defense, when we bought this house 8 years ago, it came with its own collection of old paints, old electronics and an array of wood and metal. For some odd reason, we have hung onto it all these years. Being stored in the basement, it was easy to ignore. Then, the pile started to grow. And grow. And grow.

I am not a pack rat. I keep a box in our basement for Purple Heart, the donation service we prefer, and add to it periodically. Each month, I set up a pick-up with Purple Heart and get rid of it all.

Dan, on the other hand, would have our house piled from floor to ceiling with stuff if I let him. He operates under the “we might be able to use it someday” belief. Case in point, check out our bins of old keyboards, mice and odd cables. I’ll eat my hat if we ever use anything from those bins.

I love my husband, but this little quirk of his drives me batty sometimes.

To be fair, the basement is not all his fault. I have a bad habit of operating under the “out of sight, out of mind” method. The other well-loved method of mine is to store an item in the basement for 6 months to a year with the idea if it doesn’t get used, then it will get donated. Years later, the item is still in the basement because I have forgotten about it.

Enter Org Junkie’s 31 day Organizational Challenge.

Laura’s challenge has motivated me to tackle the basement. My goal is to get all the paint and toxic chemicals out of the reach or our growing daughter, purge the junk and organize the rest of the tools and paint in such a way that I can actually find everything without a several minute search. Wish me luck!