Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I have followers!?!

That's not a boast or a brag, that's my excitement spilling over. I started this little blog o' mine to keep me company (and sane!) as I learned my way around being a stay at home wife and thanks to a few linky parties it's grown into something bigger than I had imagined. I'd like to take a moment to welcome you and thank you for following me along this journey. It's going to continue to grow and change and it means so much to me that you would follow a baby blogger this early in the game.

I really enjoy comments so please leave me a message once in awhile. Tell me what you enjoy and what you might like to see here.

Thanks again,

Christina aka "The Scrappy Housewife"

Monday, February 21, 2011

Master Bedroom Closet Decrapification...

Also known as "The Great Goodwill Donation", but we'll get to that in a minute.

I'll fully admit to you that when you see the "Before" picture, it won't look all that bad. It's only upon closer inspection that you'll see how truly grody the closet really was. Please keep in mind the following:

I really do clean my house, I swear. 

Here's the before:

Doesn't look too bad now does it? Sure it could use a little organization, perhaps some purging here and there, but you could live with it right? Right? Uh huh...(Author's note: That bag on the door is my wedding dress that's never made it to the dry cleaners in the year since I got married...)

Anywho, if you want to purge, reorganize and for heaven's sake clean your closet you'll probably want these things before you get started:

A couple of boxes, your vacuum (with attachments), a marker, and a good quality microfiber cloth. I also opted for these:

A nice cold glass of iced tea and my kitchen timer. Can we get real here for a moment? I really like organizing things and I really enjoy making our rental apartment a home...but I have a confession to make. I really hate working more than I have to. Thus the kitchen timer. I really wanted this to go quickly and the timer helps me stay focused on the task at hand. I also wanted to get this done before The Hubs came home, but that didn't happen, and honestly it worked out better that way, but I'll tell you all about that in a moment.

Here's what I did to get our closet in better (and dear Lord cleaner) working order.

Step one:

Take everything out of the closet. I'll fully admit here that I broke my own rule about this and left my large jewelry box and collection of handbags in there, but they were thoroughly cleaned where they sat. Don't panic when working on this step, but I must tell you that your beautiful bed will go from this:

To this:

Don't worry, it'll look pretty again soon, I swear. Also, a word of caution: Don't sort through stuff as you're taking it out of the closet. You'll get too mired in the "Oh that's pretty..." or "I remember that wedding I wore that in 10 years ago..." moments and nothing will get done and you'll be sleeping on your clothes rather than your pretty bed. I did, however, put my clothes on my side of the bed and his clothes on his side. I figured it might make it easier while going through them.

Quick tip: As you're emptying the closet, if you come across rogue hangers, it is beneficial to have a box handy to catch them. That's the box you see in the picture above. It also helped me see that we had quite a few dry cleaner hangers which I hate. "What's wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you: no wire hangers EVER?" (Name that movie...)

Step Two: Vacuum and dust really well. Remember how I showed you the before and it looked ok? Well it's time for full discloser. Take a peek at this:

Why yes, that is an imprint of my shoes in thick dust, why do you ask? Remember:

I really do clean my house, I swear. 

I gave that closet a real going over with the vacuum and microfiber cloth. I even used the crevice attachment to get the dust off of the baseboards and out of the corners, etc. It was nasty. I'm ashamed. I rewarded myself with a chocolate for getting the cleaning part done. You should too.

Step Three: Replace or install your closet fixtures.

Since we have a rental and I can't install all of the beautiful Elfa systems that I want from the Container Store, I had to go with what's already installed, but Hubby was kind enough to indulge me a little and buy one of these neat sweater storage systems from Target.

I'm going to be honest with you here. Part of the reason the top shelf of our closet is always a mess is because I can't reach it. I'm 5'3" in shoes and I don't relish the idea of dragging a stool in there so my clumsy butt can fall off of it while no one is home and I'm doing laundry. So we went with the sweater storage and I. Love. It.

The hardest part of the whole project comes next.

Step Four: Go through your clothes and accessories.

I'll say this: BE RUTHLESS. I wasn't always, but then I started having a friend work on closet sorting with me and she was way more critical than I was. I don't mean that in a bad way at all. She knew that I either hadn't worn it, didn't like it, didn't look good in it or (sadly...) couldn't fit into it anymore and it needed to go to someone else who could be blessed by it. I'm not saying this will be easy. I want you to understand that it won't be. It's not easy for me, ever. But I have to be real about this. By the time I reach my goal weight the clothes I have will be worn out or out of style anyway and there's no reason they should gather dust while someone else could put them to good use. So they went.

I had just finished sorting my stack when Hubby came home and unfortunately saw every piece of clothing he owns sitting on the bed. He gave me a somewhat concerned look when he made it to our bedroom and cautiously asked me what I was doing. Poor guy. Guess he thought I was throwing him out for all of those WIRE HANGERS!!!! Kidding...

As much as I wanted to be done by the time he got home, it worked out great that he arrived when he did. He helped sort his clothes (I wasn't planning on getting rid of any of his without clearing it through him first...) and while he wasn't as ruthless as I, he did unload a lot. Like, more than I thought he would. I'm proud. :)

After all of that (I'm tired, aren't you?) I reloaded the closet. I have a couple of tips for this.

I like to organize my clothes by the color spectrum using the ROY G BIV method. (Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet - I throw white, black and brown in before red). It helps me see what I have and where it is for easy retrieval. I can't take credit for this idea. I saw it on one of the many cleaning, organizing and decorating shows I watch on TV. Can't remember which one.

I did not opt to organize The Hub's clothes this way. One, most of his clothes are blue. (No, really, 90% of his clothes are some shade of blue...I do not lie.) And two, he's not going to maintain it. I know him. It is not going to matter who Roy G. Biv is or why he's in our closet. Just won't. So I opted for a simpler method. All short sleeved shirts on one side and all long sleeved shirts on the other. We'll see if that holds...

All in all the project took me about 3 hours to complete, with help, but it was so worth it. The closet smells better. I can breathe in there! Here's what my side looks like now:

I can honestly say that I was so ruthless about donating, The Hubs has more clothes than I do now...a fact that I will rub in. ;) He's spread out onto my side of the closet now!

Take away tips from Scrappy:
1. All those wire hangers can be recycled. Our dry cleaner will take them back. But if you have any that look like this, keep them:

These large hangers with cardboard tubes are fantastic for hanging your table cloths on! I'll show you how I've organized my linen closet soon.

2. Goodwill (or the donation site of your choice) will give you a receipt for your donation, but you'll need to value the items yourself. Their website has a list of common items and what they are worth low to high. I'm not in it to make tons back, so I just go with the low number on their chart. I took those and input them into Excel and created a spreadsheet for our donations. It's simple and makes tax time a lot easier!

I'm still trying to decide whether I like the sweater rack at the front of the closet or in between mine and hubby's clothes. I'd be interested in hearing your opinions.

Here's option A (sweater org, then my stuff):

Option B (my clothes then the sweater org):

I kind of like it because it shows a natural break and looks more organized. What do you think? Leave me a comment!

Also, now that it's clean it's really tempting to buy all new, pretty hangers that match, but I might be able to swing that with the ones I had left over from all the purging.

Here's the (rather large) pile for Goodwill that I need to fold and value for donation:

Sorry for the crappy nighttime shot. I forgot to take one in the daylight. Bad blogger!

Honestly, I'm not sure how all of that and all of what's left fit in there. But I'm glad it's gone! I am loving the feel of our freshly cleaned closet space. :)

Once again:


And the glorious after:

This post is linked to Thrifty Decor Chick's Organize It party going on right now! You can find a link to her site on the right side of your screen.

Also posted to Blue Cricket Design's Show and Tell Wednesday:

Show and Tell Green


As well as:


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day Wreath and Table Decor

The last few weeks have seen a lot more organization on my part and because of that I’ve been able to devote a little time to crafting as well. I thought maybe you’d like to see what I’ve been up to.

In preparation for Valentine’s Day I made this wreath:

And I spruced up these little vases from the Target dollar section. (Can I tell you how much I love the Target Dollar Section?)

I also made this blanket for my dog from a $3.00 piece of fleece:

And turned Dollar Tree frames from this:

Into this:

And made this cute pin cushion cake for a friend (who has been very patient waiting for me to ship it):

I can't take credit for the idea for this little beauty. I found the idea at The DIY Dish. You can find this incredible, fun and crafty blog/video series here and you can find out how to make this little pin cushion here. Take a moment and check them out! (They don't know me, but I'm sure they'll love you heading over there from here. And I'll be glad to remove the links if they aren't...but they seem like awesome people!)

What have you crafted lately?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

February Before and After: Can't Paint? No problem!

Hey y'all! I don't know about you, but I hate (with a deep, searing passion) white walls. I grew up in a home that had color on the walls. I owned a home that had a nice beige (oddly the builder's color wasn't bad...I was pleased) throughout but even then I added my own touches with a chocolate brown accent wall and a nice retro blue bathroom. Basically, I love color.

Well, enter the Hubs. Back then he wasn't The Hubs he was The Boy. And I loved him - still do, just much, much more. Anywho, he loves color too...but when we moved in to our apartment it was white. As in all white. Seriously. Everything. Walls, carpets, trim, ceilings. It's like living in that white box challenge on HGTV's Next Design Star. I think you get the point. And we can't paint. Well, that's not entirely true. We can paint with permission but Hubby doesn't like the idea of painting a place we don't own. I can understand that and respect it (who wants to paint in the midst of moving...especially when you don't own the place? Not me!).

But I've reached my limit. I can't stand white anymore. So starting at the end of December I starting thinking. And then the thinking turned into hatching a plan. And then the hatching turned into telling the Hubs about the plan (he's used to this by now, but I'm sure it strikes a little fear into his heart each time I come to him with, "So I had an idea..."). Then I had to buy the supplies. And I had to be patient and wait for sales. I hate waiting, but I did it.

So let's get down to business shall we?

We have a nice apartment and within our nice, little apartment we have some actually fairly nice built in bookshelves and cabinetry. With white walls inset. So as I said, in December I started looking at those white insets and starting thinking. In my head I pictured color in there. I saw a nice blue or green to complement the rest of the decor in the living room/dining room. Voila! I'll make fabric panels to go in there! And so I did. And you can too! It's easy and doesn't take long.

Here's the before:

Dressing shelves isn't my strong suit either, but I'm working on that too. Anyone have a good resource for how to do it?

See all that white? Annoying right? Yeah, I thought so. 

So here's what you'll need to complete the project: 

From L to R: Foam core boards, X-acto knife, tape measure, Command Picture hanging strips, hot glue gun and a fabric of your choice.

Step 1: Measure your space. Do it more than once. Trust me on this. Once you start cutting it's not impossible to fix (as you'll see soon) but it eats up time that you could be doing something more fun like eating chocolate. You'll want to measure the length and height of each area you want to cover. My project was a little more complicated because each space between the shelves was a different height. If you have only one set of measurements it should go pretty quickly.

Step 2: Cut your foam core down into the sizes you need. For my project I cut the foam board for each section of shelf together. 

Then you'll do a dry fit. Keep in mind that almost no house or wall or building is perfectly square. You'll probably need to trim here and there with the X-acto to make it fit snugly, but you'll need to leave a small amount of room for fabric thickness. I did not pad the panels with anything, but you could cover it with batting for a more padded effect, just remember to adjust your cuts so that you have room for the board to fit snug after you cover it.

During your dry fit you'll probably move the boards around (flip, turn, slide!) until you have the fit you want. Hopefully (I pray for you dear reader...) you won't see this:

See that nice gap in between my panels? Yeah...never use a tape measure upside down. I had such a large length to cover that I needed to meet two of them in the middle exactly. I did this by measuring the entire length (54 inches) and dividing by two (26.75 inches). Worked great until I realized during the dry fit that I had measured the foam core board to 25.75 instead...and got that nasty little gap.

No worries though, just grab some of this:

And tape the chunk you cut off, back on like this:

And re-cut. Then try your dry fit again. If all goes the way you want and everything fits correctly you're ready for fabric. Remember, I had four shelves with 4 different measurements so it took me awhile to cut all the boards and dry fit them. I was up and down from floor to stool many times. Your mileage may vary. 

Scrappy's Tip Corner: Once you get the boards where you want make sure you mark them "Front" and "Left" or "Right" on the back and an up arrow for which end us up. Trust me on this. Once the fabric is on, they look exactly the same. I made this mistake on the first set of panels. It took some wiggling on my part to make it work. The word Front will get covered by fabric, but you'll still see your L/R and arrow. It helps a lot!

Step 3: Cover your Panels.

The width of fabric you get and the size of your panels will determine how many panels you can fit into one yard of fabric. I bought 4 yards of 54" width fabric so and based on the varying widths of fabric, I could fit three panels per yard. (I actually ended up with over a yard of the fabric left which will be used in another decor project for the room!) It looked like this:

Remember that you're going to need to pull the fabric taut around the board so you'll need some overlap. I laid all the panels out on one yard of fabric at a time. Once you get things laid out you can cut around them and then glue the fabric on. It'll look like this on the back:

You'll probably need to cut the excess fabric off from where things overlap so that it'll stay flush with the wall. I trimmed and then glued down the edges so that it would lay as flat as possible. This is what each panel looked like when they were completed:

Step Four: Add the Command hooks and fit the panels.

I must admit to you dear reader that I was a bad blogger and forgot to grab a picture of the Command hooks on the back of the panel. Basically I added two picture hangers to the back of each foam core board in the white space still exposed. Then I refit them using the L/R and arrows to help me figure out where they went. 

Then I redressed the shelves, paring down some items and rearranging others, grabbing decor from my stash of candles and votives. Then I added these to the underside of each shelf and the ceiling up top:

These are Energizer stick up LED lights. They come with their own adhesive strips, but I couldn't risk damage to the shelves or ceiling so I opted to add another command strip on the back. It's a little long (read: you can see the tab still), but I'm willing to overlook that. 

Remember what this looked like before?

And now:

And with the living room/dining room lights off:

I love it. It makes me smile just seeing a little color every morning. And the lights add such a nice glow to the small space. I'm still considering adding a second light and moving the original so that there is a pool of light in the middle of each panel, but we'll see. I'm happy with the way it is for now. 

And the best part is, when we move, I just pop the panels out and remove the command strips! 

What have you been up to this month?

This post is part of Thrifty Decor Chick's Before and After Party for the month of February. Why not head over there and get a little inspiration?

Also posted to Blue Cricket Design Show and Tell Wednesday:

Show and Tell Green

And Hookin' Up With House of Hepworths:

The Lettered Cottage

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