Spring Shuffle of Clothes

Our house was built in the 1950s.

Like most homes built back then, there is only 1 closet per room and the closets are super small. No walk-in closets here.

Dan’s side of the closet in our bedroom.

My side of the closet in our bedroom.

It is a mystery to me as to why the closets were built so small back then. Did people not have as many clothes? Did they use armoires? Perhaps, they did what I do.

Every Spring and every Fall, I swap a season’s worth of clothes. Today I packed up all the winter clothes from wool sweaters to fleece jackets to scarves. Then, I unpacked all our summer wear from shorts to bathing suits. It made me so happy to see those clothes. I can’t wait to go swimming again and head down to the Jersey shore.

Since I have been doing this for as long as Dan and I have lived here (8 years), I am used to it and can accomplish it in about an hour. The plus side of doing the swap is that I have a chance to weed out the clothes that didn’t get worn all season. Clothes that don’t get worn for one reason or another get donated. The trash bags in the picture below hold all the donated clothing.

The bins are stored in our cedar closet in the basement. It is another clue that makes me think the original owners did the same clothes shuffle each season.

Since Elly does not have to share her closet with any siblings, I can keep her winter dresses tucked in the back. I still packed up her winter jacket and snowsuit, mainly because I am SO done with winter.

The Case of the 4-inch Window

One window in our living room has had a 4-inch window.

It was designed around the AC unit that came with the house. As everything that came with the house, the AC unit was at least 30 years old. Naturally, the old AC unit died.

The new AC unit was not as large as the old unit. For at least 2 years, we have had a piece of wood jammed in between the new AC unit and the 4-inch window.

My neighbor who designed the 4-inch window is terribly proud of his invention.

The local window company agreed with our assessment: a 4-inch window is stupid to have.

On Friday, the old window was removed and a new window was installed.

I can’t wait for warm Spring weather to arrive. For the first time in 8 years, I will be able to open this window.

Elly loved the whole process. She loved chatting with Chad, the gent who installed our new window. She even loved helping me clean up the mess afterwards.

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. 

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.

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!

Building a Pyramid

I bought storage cubes from Just Cabinets last year.

It took 3 months of staining, sanding, and sealing before they were all finished and could be stacked up and formed into a pyramid.

I shouldn’t complain so much.

The effort was worth it because I got the exact wood grain I wanted for a fraction of the cost. The color matches all of our other dark furniture.

The storage space houses most of Elly’s books and games as well as a handful of our photo albums and coffee table books.

Besides, it didn’t take me years to construct like the great pyramids of Egypt. ha!

More Fun with a Staple Gun

While shopping with Elly and my sister-in-law in New York City, I found fabric in an unusual spot.

Crate & Barrel

The bolts of fabric were beautiful and caught my eye immediately, but I didn’t think for a moment that one could buy the fabric by the yard. It had to be for custom tablecloths or curtains. Crate & Barrel is not a fabric store.

I was both wrong and right.

The fabric was for sale. I bought some orange and green fabric, unable to walk away from such bright, happy colors.

I was right in the sense that the fabric wasn’t sold by the yard. It was sold by the foot!

I bought 2 feet based upon the very helpful sales lady’s recommendation.

Her estimate was accurate; 2 feet was enough to recover two dining chairs.

Orange Furniture

Go on. Admit it. You’re jealous.

Well, maybe orange isn’t for everybody, but it’s definitely for me. I smile every time I walk through the dining room and see it sitting in the corner.

This was one of the colors I was going to use to paint stripes on my dining room wall, but we all remember how that ended. So, this table is my consolation.

It houses all of Elly’s crafts that are allowed upstairs. (The messier crafts like play-doh, paint and glitter are kept in the basement.) Oddly enough, pouring a quarter of a bottle of glue on a paper plate to make a tissue flower is not considered messy in my book.

Elly’s craft table is so bright and cheery now.

When Elly saw it finished, she gasped “It’s beautiful, mama.”

That’s my girl.

Fearless February update



The pictures look the same, no?

A side view is needed.

Before the seat cushion stuck out a full two inches from the chair base. It was so uncomfortable to sit in.

The seat cushion didn’t always stick out so far. It appears that my replacement foam cushions were thicker than the original cushions.

My original fix-it plan was to trim the seat cushion. Dan stopped me just as I was ready to cut open the muslin lining. He reminded me how long it had taken me to sew the slip cover. Wouldn’t it be easier to trim the back cushion?

Indeed it was. I cut a 2 inch depth by 4 inch tall section out of the bottom of the back cushion. Now the seat cushion fits snugly into the contours of the chair and doesn’t stick out.

It is much more comfortable to sit in. My feet touch the floor, which is a big deal when you are only 5 feet tall like me.

2012 in Review

At first I felt as if I couldn’t write a Year in Review post. It seemed like the year had flown by and I hadn’t had a chance to do much at all, but looking back that is hardly true.

The year started off with the Pottstown Knit Out and my teaching a class about knitting charts.

Then, every spare moment in the Spring was dedicated to knitting a hexagon blanket for I was determined to finish before the dog days of summer began despite not needing it done until September. The blanket was a wedding gift to my sister-in-law and her fiancée.

Oddly enough, even though I accomplished my goal of completing the blanket before the heat rolled in, I still knit throughout the summer. Elly got a new twirly skirt.

By the end of summer, I was harvesting the best crop of tomatoes I have ever grown. I only wish I knew what I did right so I would know how to repeat it this year.

In the sewing room, I made a flower dress for Elly and a strapless dress for me.

They were hands down the hardest clothing I’ve ever made. I told everybody at the wedding that I made the dresses, even people who were just making pleasant conversation and could have cared less. Darn it, I was proud.

Right before Thanksgiving Day, Elly and I ripped the old golf green carpet up.

Girl power rules!

Of course, everything couldn’t end in smiles. The dining room wall nearly sent me to the funny farm. It should come as no surprise that the walls still aren’t finished. The wind fell out of my sails not to mention the holidays took over my life.

I have not made any resolutions for the New Year. However, I do hope to publish 2 knitting patterns, finish sewing all the curtains and slip covers that I started last year and placed on the back burner for one reason or another and continue enjoying my time with Elly for she is growing up so fast. I hope 2013 will be a fabulous year for you too!