Category: Homemaking

Whether you own a home or rent, here I share various tips on home improvement, organization, interior decorating, do-it-yourself projects, maintenance routines, and other aspects of homemaking.

Project: Organization

Project: Organization

For the last month, Bradley and I have been working hard (with some help from family) to get our home ready for the arrival of our dear little boy. In just two years of marriage, we had somehow collected enough stuff to overrun a three bedroom home even with the purchase of a nice shed for the backyard. Mostly, the problem was lack of proper organization, but there is no denying we also had too much stuff! Thus “Project: Organization” was put into action.

It began with moving the gorgeous dining room table my parents found for us a year ago into it’s proper place in the dining room. (Shocking!) We had been using it as a temporary desk in our office, but it was far too large from that bedroom. Also I was envisioning a grown up dining room and realized, after seeing so many houses during our months of house hunting, that our dining room is actually quite spacious. Dad helped Bradley move the table into the dining room, and Mom helped me figure out how to arrange the other furniture. We ended up moving a buffet table from the living room to the dining room and it is now the home of half of our house plants under the window. It really opens up the space and gives it a wonderful feel.

That same day, Dad and Bradley built framed screens for the windows along the back of the house. None of the windows in this house have screens and the landlord would not put them in, but with mosquito season upon us and Zika a worry, we knew we had to get screens in. Now the back of the house is protected from the little buggers, which is important since most of the breeze we get comes from the back. At the same time, my parents helped put up some outside shade screens for the corner of the patio that is scorched by the blazing Arizona summer sun in the late afternoons.

The living room is almost completed. We just need have to find a comfortable rocking chair.

Last week, we worked very hard clearing everything out of the shed in our backyard. It needed a good sweep and wash to get the bugs and spiders out. While the shed was drying, we sorted through the mountain of stuff on our patio. We ended up getting rid of some things and when we put the rest back in the shed, we were surprised with how much room there is. That will come in handy as we move some items from inside the house to the shed in the next month.

Yesterday Bradley and I were able to put curtains up in the master bedroom. It has only taken two and a half years! The curtains and rod we had the whole time, but we kept thinking: why go through all the trouble if we are moving? Once we decided not to move for at least another year (possibly two), we decided it was time to finish all of the little unfinished things like putting up curtains in our bedroom. Hahaha! Anyway, the curtains and sheers really polish the room and look great. We should have done that the week I moved in years ago. *face palm*

And we will be doubling down on the nursery now. We plan to paint the room next Friday so we have a week and a half to get all the stuff currently stored in there cleared out. And next week is VBS at our church so our evenings are completely unavailable. Hmm…

So what is left on our massive “Project: Organization” list?

Dining Room

  • move dining room table
  • organize china cabinet
  • organize overflow pantry cabinets
  • buy six dining room chairs

Living Room

  • move exercise bike
  • find rocking chair or loveseat

Master Bedroom

  • find a chest of drawers (4-6 drawers)
  • toss broken drawers
  • hang curtains
  • find two bedside tables
  • finish cleaning out / organizing the closet

Nursery

  • go through everything: keep, toss, or donate
  • move any storage bins to the shed
  • paint
  • hang curtains
  • find low dresser with flat top for baby things
  • find rug
  • get crib from my parents
  • hang pictures/artwork and accessorize
  • organize baby things (after baby shower)

Office

  • sort all books: keep or donate
  • organize bookshelves
  • stain second desk and move my tablet
  • return glass breakfast table to my parents
  • find some curtains
  • find a rug
9 Things People with Clean Houses Do Daily

9 Things People with Clean Houses Do Daily

I read an article recently that provided a list of nine relatively simple tasks that people with clean and organized houses do on a daily basis. Now I am a semi-neat individual, but there are a few areas that I struggle with so my curiosity enticed me to click the link. Not all tasks will apply to every situation, but it does provide a simple guideline that you can use to do a better job of keeping up with the little things around a home.

The nine daily tasks include:

  1. Make the bed
  2. Empty dishwater in the morning
  3. Do a load of laundry a day
  4. Use baskets to organize
  5. Don’t procrastinate
  6. Put clothes they wore that day away before going to sleep
  7. Clean as they move about the house
  8. Never go to sleep with a dirty kitchen
  9. Plan ahead

Obviously, doing laundry everyday may not fit your lifestyle or needs. Likewise, some people may not use or own a dishwasher. However, the principle of keeping up on the laundry, dishes, etc. can help many families improve the tidiness of their homes.

As for me, I need improvement in two areas: cleaning the kitchen every night (instead of leaving it for the next morning) and getting the clean clothes from folded in the basket(s) or on the guest bed and into their proper drawer or closet.

What areas or tasks do you struggle with?

Backyard transformation

Backyard transformation

At the beginning of the month, Bradley and I received two wonderful gifts from my older sister and parents: a washing machine and dryer. Unfortunately, this meant losing our primary storage area in the house: the laundry closet! Though we are enjoying our rental house, it is severely lacking in both indoor and outdoor storage. To accommodate the new machines, we have to re-arrange pretty much the entire house, and we realized the necessity of purchasing a shed for the backyard.

We searched online and found a fantastic deal on a 6 ft by 8 ft shed that we would be able to dismantle, move, and re-assemble in the future whenever we leave this rental. It was shipped and arrived in two massive and extremely heavy boxes. Fortunately, my parents were able to come over and help us move the boxes to the backyard and put the shed together. In the beginning, the instructions were a little confusing, but we managed to get the floor and walls up on the first evening. My parents came back the next day to help finish the shed.

Due to the extreme sun and heat of the summers here, we put the shed under the gorgeous mesquite tree (the only shade tree that is in the backyard) to provide as much protection as possible. The trailer in the third picture actually belongs to my older sister and brother-in-law. They recently moved to a new house (hence the free washer/dryer) that did not have space to store the trailer so we offered a corner of our large backyard.

Since the shed went up, we have slowly been moving our outdoor, camping, and other extra items into the shed. Just this evening, I moved two metal shelving units into the shed for storage. The first is a 6-tiered wire tower kind of like this smaller one and the other is a 3-tiered unit this one. I moved a battery-operated light into the shed as well. Things are coming along nicely!

Bradley has worked hard over the last few weeks pulling weeds and cutting the grass corner. I’ve cleaned up some grass piles and cut the grass along the walls. Just Sunday, my parents brought a pick-up truck full of wood from their trees over and my dad also helped Bradley put brand new bricks around our fire-pit. Our backyard is almost ready to host summer parties!

Now we need to work on the major re-organization of the inside of the house. Having moved the 6-tier shelving unit out to the shed means that our kitchen table is filled with stuff. Our office is crowded with everything we had to pull out of the laundry closet to make room for the washer and dryer. Our guest room has been taken over by camping gear. With the progress we’ve made with the shed, we’re slowly improving our storage situation and reclaiming our house.

Next on our list to do is organize/re-arrange the following areas:

  • Laundry closet shelves
  • Linen closet
  • Guest room
  • Dining room
  • Office

Hmm… No small task, but do-able! It is kind of funny how getting a washer and dryer can throw the organization of the whole house into chaos. But what wonderful chaos it is. You will not hear me complaining, because a washer/dryer means clean clothes whenever we need instead of having to haul our laundry every two weeks to my parents’ house in Chandler!

Another project we finished today was cooling off the master bathroom. Our bathroom is small – just large enough for a small sink, toilet, and shower. No air conditioning reaches the room and the small window faces due west, directly into the harshest and hottest afternoon/evening sun, which makes that small room feel like a sauna in the summer. And our rental does not have screens on any of the windows, which makes keeping the windows open to save on electricity difficult as the flies and mosquitoes will invade the house. Today, we put sunscreen up on the bathroom window with the goal to block out the heat of the desert sun and to prevent insects from intruding. Since we do not want to put money into a rental that we don’t own, we are trying out heavy-duty outdoor Scotch dual lock mounting tape. If successful, we will put sunscreen up on the three large windows in the backyard that we want to keep open: the master bedroom, kitchen, and dining room windows.

In addition to the sunscreen on the master bath window, we purchased a small fan and extension cord and set it up in the small bathroom on a plant stand we were not using. This should help keep air moving and help dry the room after showers. (The landlord won’t fix the exhaust fan because the room “has a window”.)

So… progress!! 😀

Organizing the pantry

Organizing the pantry

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This post is a follow up to Operation: Declutteration, that is actually the brain-child of Abby from Just a Girl and Her Blog. I am excited to share that two evenings ago, Bradley and I made tangible progress on organizing our chaotic pantry. (I wish I had the good sense to take before and after photos, but I did not.)

First a little explanation. The house we are currently renting is lacking in proper storage space and the closet we are using as a pantry was originally a small coat closet. Somewhere between when the house was built and we began renting, it was kind of transformed into a small pantry. There are three wood shelves but above the top shelf was a lot of wasted space and the whole bottom half was a mess with bags and items thrown in haphazardly.

Last summer, I bought some white plastic bins from Dollar Tree and began using them to group like-items. For example, all of my gluten-free pasta go in one bin. All the bags of dried rice, beans, etc. go in another. Bradley’s snacks go in another. You get the idea. At the beginning of the school year, we found bought two locker shelves from Target to put on the top shelf so we could reclaim that wasted vertical space. We now put items that we do not use often way up there. (I actually cannot reach the shelves!)

So that brings me to two evenings ago. We bought a 3-Tiered black metal shelving unit. (We bought ours from Target but this is a similar piece from Amazon.) I love this style of shelving unit as they are very versatile and are pretty cost effective. We had bought one for our “garage” (aka the laundry closet that we are using as storage as we do not have a washer or dryer) quite awhile ago and it has made a huge difference. The best part is that they are very fast and easy to assemble.

Bradley was kind enough to pull everything out of the bottom of the pantry, and I then sorted it all. I could not believe the amount of paper bags we had kept nor the wide assortment of paper plates, cups, and plasticware we did not even know we had. I ended up recycling quite a bit of the unnecessary items and then used small plastic bins with lids (one was from Dollar Tree and the other from Wal-mart) to group like-items: all paper plates and bowls went in one bin and all plasticware in another. I will call these “party items” since we only use them when either we go for a picnic or we host a get-together at our house. I found all of our “missing” re-usable bags and folded them so they would take up less space. I put our camping set (plates, bowls, mugs, plasticware) in a re-usable bag.

The shelving unit fits into the pantry sideways and allows for a little bit of floor space to the side for bigger items like coolers. On the bottom shelf I put the camping set and some of our extra party items. The middle shelf had extra food containers for road trips and the rest of our party items. The top of the shelving unit is temporarily housing extra paper products (napkins, paper towels, etc.).

I need to re-arrange the food on the wood shelves above. I want to move the frequently used items to the lowest shelf and the rest higher. Also, the original metal accordion door was driving both Bradley and I crazy. It would not always close flush nor was it easy to open at times, jumping off the track. One day Bradley just took it off and now our pantry is visible to anyone who walks into our house. I would like to get a small tension rod and hang one of the beautiful brown curtains we are also using to hide the “garage” (laundry closet). Maybe after these little tweaks are done, I’ll post a few pictures.

Operation: Declutteration

Operation: Declutteration

In my Feedly.com feed today, I found a motivating article by Abby over at Just a Girl and Her Blog.

Operation-Declutteration-3

I’m planning on Fridays being “declutteration” days (for the most part), and each week I will tackle a different problem area or organizational system in our home, sharing what I’ve learned along the way.

I hope, though, that you won’t leave me decluttering all alone! If you have spaces in your home that could use a little help in the organization department, I invite you to join me, and let’s do this thing together! ~Abby

I’m in! Since Bradley and I married last April, we have done a pretty good job decluttering and organizaing the main living areas (living room, kitchen, and dining room are all open), the guest bedroom, half of the pantry, and the hall closet. Unfortunately, the house we are renting does not have much in the way of storage space so we began using our office as a temporary storage. Now that is out of control! We can barely use the desktop in that room or get to the book shelves we so carefully arranged. We have too much stuff! The master bedroom has also been neglected, as it is a room visitors never see, and the linen closet and the other half of the pantry definitely need more shelves.

So for the next few weeks, we will be selecting a day (maybe Thursdays, maybe Sundays) to de-clutter and organize these areas in our house. I’m thinking of it as an early, on-going spring cleaning project! Maybe I’ll even post before and after photos. Hmm…