Sunday, January 30

fun with coffee filters

Last night, my latest craft project made its debut. 

This is probably one of my easiest projects so far, and it was pretty inexpensive!

All you need is:
a wreath form - $2 at Hobby Lobby with 50% off sale
two packs of coffee filters - $4 (a lot of tutorials only used 1 pack, but I ended up needing two)
hot glue gun (low temp)
glue sticks

There are a TON of these wreaths all over blogland.  I read a few tutorials, but the steps are pretty simple. For me, I folded the coffee filters in quarters and then glued them randomly to the wreath form. 
 I wanted it to be really full, so I just glued them as close to each other as possible.

I think the only downfall to this project is that it takes time. Over the course of 4 or 5 hours of the Man playing Assasin's Creed, I managed to glue around 400 filters.  I'm pretty happy with the finished wreath.

Not to shabby for a $6 investment.

Sunday, January 23

aren't you just the cutest!

Remember this cutie from our adventure to the Cotton Pickin' Fair in Gay, GA?

Well thanks to the Man's folks and the Sister, guess who got to join our nerdy nest this Christmas?

I have to admit, if I wasn't already spoiled rotten by the Man's family-- I officially am now.  Somehow they managed to smuggle this past me during our trip, and keep it hidden for months! Granted, I am one of those people who love suprises-- so all they had to say was "don't look in the back of the car" on the way home and I was averting my eyes like a horse with blinders.  Still, I never expected something so generous, on top of everything else they do for us nerdy birds.

There are so many things I love about this little cabinet, the size is so unique, and the finish merges our somewhat modern cabinets with my retro ceramic table.  What I really love is that the glass door is made from a rescued and refurbished two pane window. It houses my birthday jars from the Dad, and a few cut glass pieces perfectly.
Love it!!

Thursday, January 20

111 in 1/11: week three

This week's attempt at the 111 in 1/11 takes me to the deep dark recesses of our guest bathroom cabinet. Although we use this room all the time, the storage under the sink seems to be where I stash things long forgotten.  I only purged about 10 things, but it's better than a cabinet full of things I don't use.

pictured products of the purge:
  • expired sunscreen
  • method hand soap (that stained my countertops, so it got the boot!)
  • a sponge holder (it kept falling in the sink)
  • some gradual self tanner stuff (i've embraced my paleness.. and faux tanning is too troublesome)
  • a few face scrubs/masks
  • a few Bath and Body works "splashes" that I really never spritzed.  I kept my mango-mandarin and coconut-lime verbena in case the Man decides I'm too stinky
  • some aromatherapy linen spray that I used maybe once
I'm not much of a girly-girl. I have my moments, but I try to be pretty low maintenence. It wasn't too heartbreaking to get rid of some of this stuff, as well as some costume jewelry and makeup from about 4 or 5 years ago.  Most of these went into the trash, but a few unopened bottles made it to the yard sale purgatory.

I predicted this would be a low key cleanout week, since I did a HUGE purge in the office.  Still,  hopefully I can find some time this weekend to tackle some of my closet clutter. I can't wait to see how everyone else has been doing over at the linky party:
Check out everyone's progress at Words on Wendhurst!

Tuesday, January 18

my pot pie, kitty!

As much as I love to cook, dinnertime in the nerdy nest can be a mixed bag.  I don't know about you, but many nights when I get home from work-- I really just want to take a hot shower, watch some cheesy television or read a good blog book, and tell the Man to fend for himself.

When I was a single girl, I'd cook a pot of whole-wheat penne and have a jar of sugar free tomato sauce in the fridge.  Those two things (plus some occasional Dove chocolates/place&bake cookies/pint of Rocky Road) would be my dinner for about a week.  I didn't really "do" grocery shopping, I didn't really "cook" other than holidays, and dinner was just another meal.

Then the Man came along, and I felt compelled to follow along with my natural inclinations of nesting.  I'd been feeling the pangs of domesticity, but it hit full on when I had someone else to cook for. 

Recently my desires of the domestic have become even more pronounced.  I'm determined to have a solid repertoire of "go-to" meals that are: easy, quick, and have only a handful of ingredients
 (also if they only used a dish or two, that would be awesome.. the less mess, the better.)

Personal Chicken Pot Pies
(modified from the recipe found at Mine for the Making):
I used:
  • 1 package crescent rolls
  • 2 baked chicken breasts
  • 2 cups mixed veggies (frozen)
  • 1 can cream chicken soup
  • 1/2 can milk

For the chicken, I put 2 breasts (sliced into strips to speed up cook time) into my glass loaf pan with some Italian dressing, 1/4 can crm chicken soup, and my "special seasonings."
Note: the "special seasonings" are just a wide variety of whatever I grab from the spice cabinet that smells good.
I baked the chicken for about 45 minutes on 375 or until I could easily pull it apart with a fork.

While the chicken was baking I finished the rest of the prep work:
  •  Steamed the veggies (Thanks, Microwave!)
  • Covered the inside of the 2 cup Pyrex bowls with crescent rolls
  • Mixed the veggies in with the rest of the cream of chicken soup and milk
  • Baked the crescent-filled bowls for about 5 minutes
Once the chicken was finished, I shredded it and mixed it with the veggie/soup mixture. 
The next step was to ladle the chicken/veggie/soup mixture into the bowls.
Cover the bowl with the rest of the crescent rolls.

Completely optional: Take any leftover crescent rolls and make a futile attempt at a small pouch which you will then use to try and contain some of the excess chicken/soup/veggie mixture.  Haphazardly seal the mixture within it's crescenty-flaky prison and casually toss on the cooking sheet next to pot pies. Hope that this pouch of chicken will not explode and cover the entirety of your oven with chickeny-veggie-soupy goodness.  Luckily my chicken-pot-pie pouches turned out okay (sans explosion.)

Bake all until the crescents begin to brown.  Mine was still a little doughy, but the man likes doughy and was hungry, so after 15-30 minutes we called it done.
It wasn't fantastic, but it was warm and hearty.  I'd say it's worth a repeat performance
(and maybe a little refining.)

P.S. If you caught the pop culture reference in the title, I think we can be friends.  If not, for shame.

Sunday, January 16

111 in 1/11: week two

My second week of the purge started off pretty slow.  I did quite a bit of work last weekend in the office, but about halfway through I hit a barrier.  I was tired, frustrated, and growing overwhelmed.  It just seemed like the mess was growing and the room was getting smaller around me.

I love organizing, and I think an organized home can really help make a small space more livable-- but my small space was making me feel a little claustrophobic.  So I took a break.

I realized that what was so overwhelming was that I wanted an end result that just isn't possible right now.  I wanted my office to have a clear and defined identity-- but I couldn't quite figure out what that should be.   I'll talk more about that later.  In the meantime, I had to settle on a "good enough for now" space and try to make it a little less cluttered.  Back to the purge...

I decided that will all this declutterization and inspiration from other bloggers, I would host a yard sale sometime when the weather is better.  So far, I've got 112 items in my yard sale pile.  That's not counting the 2 garbage bags of research, two broken vases, and a host of other things I dumped that weren't quite yard-sale worthy.
In the office I am eliminating:
  • a few books
  •  tons of empty binders
  • a wobbly plant stand
  •  some iron scrollwork from my apartment
  • a cool barnwood framed bird print from a yardsale
  • some empty plastic bins without lids, a few lids without bins
  • a basket (gasp!)
  • a memo board from my old kitchen
  • a chalk line
  • a few glass jars
  •  and the slipcover bag that I swore I would use for something. 
Spillover into the living room (from the hall closet, 3rd bedroom, and my purgatory include:

  • About 15 candles of various sizes
  • two sets of curtains
  • a blue toile shower curtain
  • a full bedskirt
  • two giant vases
  • picture frames
  • curtain rods
  • lightbulbs and cleaning supplies
  • another box of books!
I still have a long way to go-- I'd like to tackle a few of my purge-atory drawers in the bedroom (hello clothes that haven't been worn since highschool!), my excessive handsoaps in the bathroom, and maybe a few undisovered areas of hoarding over the next few weeks.  

For now, I am going to try to celebrate the progress so far.  I'm not at my ideal, but I'm getting there.
The linen closet before:
The top half was full of cleaning supplies I rarely used.
The bottom had more cleaning supplies, a few unpacked boxes, and other things just stashed in the free spaces.
 During (the disaster zone and a helper):

Empty bins for growth! And cleaning supplies I'll actually use.
The bottom shelves hold my favorite frames, empty gift boxes, a few tall candle holders, and my gifting bins: cards, ribbons, bags and gifts.
The office closet before:
And for now (with room to grow):
The office before: 
 Soo much stuff!!!
The office (for now).  If nothing else, it's not as cluttered!

And now, for hanging in there through a terribly picture heavy post, I give you:
"fat cat in a little basket"
You're welcome.

Wednesday, January 12

Dear Mother's 111

I inherited my clutterbugness.  As the Man says, I get it honest.  The Dad is a collector in the truest sense (every issue of National Geographic published between the 70's-90's sits proudly on his bookcase, right below his glass power line covers--or whatever they're called).  He loves anything unique or antique or really anything that has potential to end in a -que.  I believe that he could find a rarely made, mint condition car part just by looking in the general direction of a junkyard.  The Dad loves his bargains and I attribute my affinity for thrift stores and yardsales to him. We both get so excited talking about an awesome B1G1 at the grocery store and he's always got an eagle eye open to find me a good coupon.  There's just something so thrilling about "the hunt."
Sweet grandmother
My Sweet grandmother (not to compare to my Sassy Grandmother on my Mom's side) was so thrifty.  She would use every last bit of something, washing alumnium foil and reusing cling wrap until it couldn't cling anymore.  It's from her that I got my stockpiling nature.
Sassy Grandmother
From my Sassy Grandmother, I got my love of shopping.  She's also a thrifty one-- but nothing lures her in like a SALE!  I think she could spend all afternoon in a thrift store and the Dollar Tree if given the chance (and she felt up to it.) 

Aside from the shopping, sales and stockpiling-- one of my main issues is stacking and sorting.  I attribute my stacks of things and baskets of stuff and labeled bins for EVERYTHING to Dear Mother. 

She's a listmaker, like me and we both find solace in our lists, post-its and calendars, no matter how scattered they may be.  However, piles and baskets and bins-- if not tended to properly can quickly manifest into something much worse.  Organized chaos.
Part of the 111 in 1/11 challenge is to make room for organization.  What good is a basket or bin if you don't have room for it?  How helpful are those post-its and labels if you can't see them under that stack of papers?

During Dear Mother's surgery and recovery this past May, I kept myself busy with cleaning out her hall closet.  We made a ton of progress, but things have been at a bit of a stalemate since then.  Dear Mother is always so much happier with a clean house (just like me) and this is why I am so proud of her for accepting the challenge of purging 111 things this month. 
Check out her progress so far:

The starting point for the tupperware cabinet-- the hardest one for me to keep tidy too!

In her own words: "I got aggravated with the plastic containers tonight while putting away groceries and decided that tonight was the night to throw away lids that did not have containers and containers that didn’t have lids and some lidded containers that just needed to be thrown away."
This looks so good!  She's already hit 28 of her 111, but she had one more thing to tackle for this week. 
What is it about Southern women and keeping grocery bags?  If you ever come over to our house, I can't help to offer you a bag to carry your leftovers home in.  I swear, it's genetic!  I used to make fun of both Grandmothers doing it, and now I do it too!
Dear Mother is known for stockpiling grocery bags and simply stashing them in an awkward cabinet in the kitchen.  They're difficult to get to, and the last time I cleaned it out there were over 100 bags back there.  Thankfully she's counting this stash as just 1 item, so I don't have too much catching up to do.

I can't wait to see the rest of her after pics!  It's amazing how refreshing it can be to just tackle one small area in your home. 
Speaking of which, I should get back to work!

Sunday, January 9

a quick before and after

On a (not so) recent thrift store visit, I picked up this odd plant stand/ashtray stand/candleholder for about $3.

It was a terrible aged brass and had some pretty icky stains.  But I really liked the shape and scale of it.
A quick coat of primer and two coats of gloss black later and ta da!
So far I've used it as a drink-holder, candleholder, and candy bowl stand.  I love it!

Friday, January 7

111 challenge: week one

 I mentioned earlier that I try to purge regularly in our home .. to keep my clutterbug nature at bay.  Initially, I was concerned that I would have a difficult time finding 111 things to get rid of in our seemingly tidy nest.

But then. as all the Christmas decor came down.. I realized that there were a few spaces in our house that have been severely neglected over the past few months.  We have a fairly small house, so when I did a quick tour to take some "pre-111 challenge" pics, I was suprised by the spaces I have let become un-functional.

For example, my office:
Not only is it going through a bit of an identity crisis: I don't really need it as a full office since I'm no longer a student, but I'm not quite sure what direction I need it to go; but it has become one of the worst catch-all spaces in our house.
Every corner is filled with yardsale finds, assorted home decor stuff, unpacked moving boxes (from over a year ago!), and papers, papers, papers!!

Another space is the spillover from the Holidays in our third bedroom.  I stored all my servingware in here during the party season, as well as gift wrap and boxes.  My initial reaction is to just move all that into my office.. but hopefully I can be a bit more selective with what is worth saving or storing.

My final gem is my linen closet.  We are really lucky to have quite a bit of closet space in our house, and to me-- this closet has the most potential. 
The first few shelves seem fairly nice:
but I have to admit that I could probably lose over half the things in those bins and not cry. The worst part of this closet is the bottom half.  It's filled with more moving boxes, a non-working lamp or two, some vases, and then random items just shoved willy-nilly. The linen closet, along with my office closet need the most work. The office closet is my craft supply catch all, home to unfinished projects, and too many bins and clutter catchers.
  Enough exposition...

Let the purging begin.
So far, I have a paper box in the livingroom and my purge-atory in the garage. Probably about 20 things, and that's without actively sorting and attacking the mess.  It's not much, but it's a start.
How's your challenge going?

Check out everyone else's week one progress over at Words on Wendhurst!

Wednesday, January 5

call the doctor?!

When we bought the house, we had a professional come in to try and salvage the carpet.  Our carpet is a beigeish tan and let me just say that I am not a carpet fan.  However, hardwood (or laminate floors) aren't quite an option just yet. So they cleaned it... and all was fine.

And then home renovations started... and walls were torn down, floors were replaced, dirt and ick and gross were tracked in (not to mention a few spills from either clutzy nerdy nester, or an overzealous party, or a vindictive kitten or two) and we took a look at our carpet.  It was gross.  Worse than before.

That kinda gross.  Uck. Embarrassing!!

We wanted to move the furniture back into the great room as soon as we finished painting everything, but that was put on hold until the carpet could be addressed.  I was trying to be all frugal and DIY-tastic.  So I rented a Rug Doctor.  I had high hopes.

It was clunky.  It was almost $60 (with cleaner and all).  But I had hope.

It didn't really fit in my little car all too well, but I got it home.  After work one night, the Man and I attacked the floors with our Doctor in tow.  It foamed and scrubbed.  The first pass didn't show much difference-- shame on you infomercial!  The Man was vigilant... he hit the worst spots a few times, and we did see change.

All in all, we did the best we could with the Doctor.  I cussed, and cried a little.  The carpet really wasn't much better... but at least we knew it was clean.

So we let things dry, and sprayed a hefty dose of Scotchguard over the floor.  And waited. 

The next day, things were still damp.  In my head, I'm thinking of all the terrible things that could be festering in our carpets-- mildew!  Mold!! I began to visualize a miniature ocean beginning to breed under our carpets, filled with all the creepy sea creatures that live in the deep...
I think Nemo and Dory would agree... not a good thing to have hiding in the carpet.

...and then the Man told me to chill.  The carpet would dry, and things would be fine. 
And eventually, the carpet was dry.

But it felt ooky.  Almost sticky. Not wet, but very "oh gross I can feel the residue of something on my bare feet, am i breaking out? am i allergic to the gross residual stuff this Rug Chiropracter left? what is this? eew... i don't like it i don't like it IDONTLIKEIT!"

Yes, it was a full blown temper tantrum.  The Man blamed the residue on the Scotchguard.  Based on the bottle, Scotchguard needs to be reapplied after a deep cleaning or Xtimes vacuuming.  The Rug Doctor had been returned to his home at Lowe's-- but I had a steamer that might do the trick. 

I pulled out my Shark Steamer (which is awesome, BTW) and steamed the carpet. The white microfiber pad from the steamer was brown and black-- which to me means that our carpet was even worse than we thought.  Keep in mind, this was dirt after a "deep cleaning" with the Doctor.  What?!  So I flipped the steamer over to a new microfiber cover, and steamed again.  And then I did it again. My routine for the next two days was a manic one of steam, vacuum, test with bare feet, freak out a little, and repeat. 

It's been a while since that happened.  I'm still mad at the dude on the Rug Doctor website.  I've vowed to never try to apply scotchguard by myself again, and our carpet finally feels like normal.

This was a long rant, but it felt like an Odeyssian journey trying to get that dang carpet clean. It did cement my love for my little Shark steamer though.  That thing's a powerhouse and I highly recommend it.  I heart it, to say the least.

Have you ever called on the "Doctor?"  Was my utter failure with this a fluke?

Monday, January 3

111 in 1/11

I love a clean house. I really do. However, I am a natural clutterbug. With a habit of thrifting, and an affinity for anything home decor related, I always end up with a home filled to the brim with STUFF.

But I feel better when our nest is organized, and I'm not perpetually having to fight all the things I've accumulated over the years to be able to enjoy our space. I preach this same theory of purging regularly to my parents (Dear Mother hears it most frequently) but I thought, what better way than to live by example.

I stumbled upon the 111 in 1/11 blog party when reading Emily's post. I love the concept, and though I may not hit 111 items purged in January-- I do feel like I could do that easily in 2011.

So with that, I issue a challenge to my family, friends, and fellow bloggers (and readers, if you're still with me after my suprise sabbatical). Let's try to purge 111 items this year-- this month if you are feeling ambitious. Don't get rid of something you love, or enjoy, or even like to have around. And if you aren't sure about something being removed from your home or your life, put it in a purge-atory.

I keep a box of items I've purged for a month or two before officially giving it away or donating it. That way, if I do change my mind-- I have a few months where I can still "save" whatever I may have doubts about.

Honestly, there have only been a few things over the course of my 10 years of active purging that I have regretted giving away. I attribute that to making rash decisions and not thinking about the potential significance or usefullness of whatever I purged.

So take your time, we have a year. I'm going to aim for 111 in January alone, as I have a few rooms that desperately need a little TLC and room to breathe.

Leave me a comment or send me pictures as you purge! I'm planning on posting my progress and I'd love to encourage you as we tackle the clutter together.

Sunday, January 2

Hello there..

Do you ever go a few months between talking to a close friend?  Like both of you get busy with the hustle and bustle of life and then something prompts an out of the blue phone call, or facebook message, or even a visit?  I have a few of those friends.  What's so awesome about them is that when we do talk, or chat, or go to dinner-- it's as if no time has passed at all.  We are instantly back into our old rhythm of bad jokes, excited chatter, and laughing a little too loud.  It's fantastic and reminds me every time why we are still friends after all these years.

So, hello friend. It's been a while, and we have a LOT to catch up on!

In the meantime, cheers to a New Year! I'm excited for what 2011 has to bring for all of us.