Friday, April 18, 2014

Let's Go to Peru

When it came to planning where our next vacation would be, Bob and I had South America - particularly Peru - high on the list. Bob's dream place to visit has always been Machu Picchu, must be that architect thing in him. It didn't hurt that his best friend from high school is Peruvian, so by tagging along with Aldo we had a built in translator, tour guide and travel buddy!
With two days on either end dedicated to just travel (Peru might have been in the same time zone as Chicago, but with 2 stops either way we were looking at more than a dozen hours plane/airport time each way), we dedicated 8 days to Cusco, Machu Picchu and Lima. This was the same amount of time spent on our New England Road Trip. Not so much time out of the office to cause people worry, but long enough to feel like a true vacation and not just a long weekend.

With Aldo on board, I found myself doing a lot less pre-planning than I normally do, I let him help guide how we booked our hotels, tours and tickets. We were budget conscious when it came to hotels, but the bulk of our spending was eaten up by planes, trains and automobiles. Landing in Lima, we didn't just look across the way and say, "oh, look there's Machu Picchu - let's walk on over." No, our trip was more in line with the following:

1. Land in Lima at 10pm.
2. Stay in the airport overnight to take a 5am flight to Cusco.
3. 2 days in Cusco to acclimate to the altitude and explore the city.
4. Get on an 8am tour bus to see more Incan Ruins.
5. Ditch the bus at a certain point and take a three-wheeled cab to the Ollantaytambo Train Station.
6. Take a 2 hour train to Aguis Calientes.
7. Sleep.
8. Load onto the 6am bus headed to Machu Picchu!
9. Head back to the train station at 5pm and reverse from #6!
No complaints here though - once I had some dramamine in my system the altitude issue was greatly lessened. The first day I truly thought my head was going to explode and I was going to pass out from walking up the umpteen stairs we had to get to our hostel. (note: this photo is NOT of the stairs we had to walk up. . .I might have died right then and there if this was the case.)
What is the one thing I always end up buying on my travels? Aloe gel for sunburns! I did really well with sunscreen until the last couple days in Lima when I apparently thought myself invincible. No, it was Bob's turn to be a red lobster in the early part of our trip and require the run to the pharmacia for After-Sun Aloe Lotion. Mostly contained to his forehead, his misplacement of his hat during our first big day tour was a mistake he would sorely regret.
We left the tour bookings and train reservations until we checked into our first hotel, letting our hotel "concierge" help us out, something I highly recommend if your vacation spot is geared towards tours and day trips. They helped secure our English-speaking tour guide for Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, and were able to bundle everything together for us.
We visited Peru in the rainy season, which meant our early morning views of Machu Picchu were clouded over and it sprinkled on us throughout our hour long hike up Wayna Picchu. It was actually nice to have the cool rain, otherwise I think I would have been a big ball of sweat as I trudged up and up to the top.
But once we got there. . .and once the clouds rolled past. . . the wait was worth it.
We spent the next several hours walking around and learning about Machu Picchu, it's history, legacy and current state. 
We also spotted this chinchilla guarding the Sun Temple.
And then we had more photo ops with the local wildlife. (and by local, I mean the llamas and alpacas that they carefully placed in Machu Picchu in order to entertain tourists like me) Let's just say I had an obsession with taking photos of any animal that crossed our path.
Seriously, a few days later we saw a dog in a hat, so how can you not take a picture of that? It's a dog. In a hat. A Playboy hat.
After a full day at Machu Picchu, we reversed the travel schedule above and found ourselves back in Lima for our last few days in the country. We saw Aldo's family, checked out the rocky beach and Lydia got sunburned (wouldn't be a trip if that didn't happen).
And then there was the Parque Kennedy. Not far from our hotel in Miraflores (The Terra Viva brand, highly recommended), the park showed up in guidebooks as a tourist stop so we made sure to take a stroll through. On Saturday evening, the center of the park was filled with a mini-marketplace, and not far off the small amphitheater was packed with dancers and a live band.
We saw a cat walk by, and said, "look, a cat!" Cusco was filled with stray dogs, so it was a nice change of pace to see a feline. And then we saw a couple more. And then we saw a dozen. . .Turns out, Parque Kennedy is inexplicably home to dozens of cats! Fed by neighbors who work on donations to keep the cats healthy, spayed and fed, they lounged about on sunny sidewalks and raced about in the grass, trying to avoid over-exuberant children trying to pick them up. 
We ended up walking through the park several times, mainly to spy on the cats! 
Miraflores, a popular neighborhood in Lima, is also home to Love Park. A mosaic bench borders the park, and kissing couples flock there. 
Of course we had to get our own shot the day before we departed.
Soon enough it was Monday morning and the flight home was fast approaching. Fourteen hours later, we landed in Chicago and nine hours after that we were back at work! What a trip, what an adventure. Can we do it again soon?

Stay tuned for a write up of the souvenirs we found ourselves on this trip (here's a recap of our past trip goodies we've acquired for our home!)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tile Aisle

And so the second bathroom renovation gets underway! The bathroom is small but serviceable in its current state, but with room for improvement. While there is some storage under the sink, the corner has a ton of wasted vertical space where I dream of a linen cabinet. The tub is outdated, and the use of a shower curtain (as much as I love our Chicago El themed shower curtain) effectively cuts the room in half when closed. 
We are envisioning a pedestal sink to create more room for the linen cabinet, an energy efficient toilet with the dual flush system, a new tub with a slick shower door and a color theme with gray walls and finally using the cheery yellow towels we got as a wedding gift!

We spent last weekend creating a budget, sourcing pedestal sinks and tubs on Amazon.com and two trips to the Tile Outlet.

First up, the reason we're going to see some savings in this renovation is because of a deal we took advantage of using Turbo Tax. We applied $500 of our tax refund to our Amazon account and received 10% cash back, an extra $50 in our pocket. We figure we'll be able to buy the Nest thermostat, the accessories we need for the bathroom and maybe the pedestal sink or toilet if we find the same type in the store first (I'm a big believer in seeing what we're going to purchase in person first!).

So onto the Tile Outlet. We are planning on a dark gray floor tile that will also go up the side of the tub to tie it all together. The shower and tub walls were our focus of this weekend, though. We also want gray walls, so our original idea of gray glass tile started to wane as we got a little "gray on gray on gray" weary.

Instead we feasted our eyes on Shimmering Ice Creekside by Bellavita and were hooked.
We love the texture and the idea of organizing the 3x12 tiles in rows opposite rows of 2x6 tiles like in the photos we found online.
To mix it up a bit, we picked up enough gray glass tiles to create two rows to help tie it back to the room.
The Tile Outlet did not have the 2x6 size, so we'll need to order it online. Currently searching for the best price, cheapest shipping and most reliable site. Shopping at the Tile Outlet could be frustrating because the choices can be limited in some respects (they might only have two boxes of something you love), but the savings don't lie - $3 a square foot multiplied by 40 square feet!

Now 6 boxes of tile sit in our garage spot, waiting for the day to be applied to the wall. Speaking of, our next stop was Home Depot where Bob used the better part of a $50 gift card to get plenty o' tile tools including tile spacers, a trowel and a grout float.
Itching to get started, but plenty more to do in the meantime to prepare. The last thing I want to do is start demo'ing and then realize we never bought the new toilet!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Still Here, but Jet Lagged

I'm finishing up my longest lapse between posts yet, but for a good reason - I've been on the go pretty much non-stop the month of March! Between work trips to New Orleans and Washington D.C., a wedding weekend in Iowa and our long awaited vacation to Peru - plus a busy busy workload at the actual job - blogging has been an unfortunate casualty of war travel.

I can't wait to share all of the details of our Peru trip including some tips and tricks for packing smartly, a rundown of more souvenirs we'll cherish and photos upon photos of Machu Picchu. 
But first, I thought I'd stay on the travel bug for just a bit longer and share my latest lofty goal: visit these 15 places over the next 15 years. This list was culled together from the back of an American Way Magazine, a good hour spent gazing at the maps in the back and forming a shortlist (PS. Love that magazine). The easy answer is, "I want to go everywhere!" but when I really started looking at the maps and thinking about it, these 15 stood out for various reasons. 

In no particular order:
1. Spain
2. Singapore
3. Alaska
4. New Zealand
5. Scotland
6. Ireland
7. Savannah, Georgia
8. Mount Rushmore
9. Tokyo
10. Cape Cod
11. Austin, Texas
12. Vietnam 
13. Sweden
14. South Africa
15. Russia

So what's on your shortlist? Does 15 years seem doable? Will I still be blogging in 15 years or will technology be so advanced that you will just be mind-reading a chip in my head that shares my thoughts with the world? Probably.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Whole Chicken and Nothing But the Chicken

Who doesn't love the rotisserie chickens that you can buy for less than $7 at the grocery store? They are delicious and such an easy and quick meal.

When I saw this Pinterest post showing how to recreate it in your crockpot at home? Well, I was ready to try it out. 
recipe source
We picked up a whole chicken at the store, ideally we'd have taken advantage of a 2 for 1 sale or some other big discount day to help make the case for not just buying a ready made rotisserie, but we ended up probably coming out even on this one. Next time we'll be looking for the sales! 

I loved the idea of adding a layer of balled up tin foil to the bottom of the crock pot to act as a "roasting pan" so that the juices don't make the chicken overly soggy. What a concept!

The spice mixture includes salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, sage, paprika and garlic powder. I mixed up a small bowl according to the amounts in the recipe and set it aside.
The chicken was defrosted and the neck and giblets were removed. After that ickiness, I washed it off and then slathered olive oil all over the bird. Accepting that my hands were going to be disgusting for the next few minutes, I got to work on covering the chicken with the spice mixture. Then into the crockpot it went.
It was programmed for 8 hours on low. When we got home from work, we realized that getting it out of the slow cooker in one piece was going to be impossible because of how tender it was.
Soon enough we had a full plate of wings, legs and plenty more chicken-y goodness to go ahead.
Although the skin is not as crispy as you can get, this feels much better going down than KFC or Popeyes - has to be a bit healthier, right?? I declare this Pinterest attempt a winner.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Goals Year Three: One Year Later

I'm a little late writing the completion post for my third year of goals. Frankly, I think I have been putting it off as I am a little disappointed with not having completed as many as I would have liked. That said, I can pick out a few I went above and beyond on that help me justify a productive and exciting 2013. 

Some of my stand outs:

  • Visited 8 new states in 2013 (Count 'em up: Virginia, Utah, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maryland).
  • Purged over 200 items from our house between a September yard sale and Salvation Army donations throughout the year.
  • Sold 6 of my sets of Every Holiday Blocks (4 on Etsy, which includes an awesome review from one of the purchasers!). 
  • Our laundry room makeover is complete!


Culture Vulture
1. Read 15 books - Book club always helps out with this goal. Although without the 1-2-3 punch of The Hunger Games books this year, how quickly will I be able to add these up?
The Forgotten 500 - a WWII book club pick that most said was too textbooky, but I liked. I considered it a cross between Unbroken, Argo and In the Garden of Beasts.
The Accidental Tourist - enjoyed this one. Looks like its time I put the movie on my Netflix list. 
Lottery - a bit schmaltzy for my taste, but a quick read.
Lean In - great book club discussion and a business book I actually enjoyed reading! 
Telegraph Avenue - Michael Chabon wins me back after a couple not-so-greats (in my opinion).
World War Z - a realistically written oral history. Sad that the movie version didn't take the same approach. Could have been amazing.
The Last Lecture - a little different than I initially thought it would be, but great reminders to go after what you want in life.
Beautiful Ruins - time travel (well, not literally) to 1960s Italian coastline. Would be a dream.
Summer at Tiffany - a nice little story about a young woman's adventurous summer in NYC. Not much substance, but nice none the less.
Wild - a woman hiking the PCT, read days after returning from our own hike along the Appalachian. We did two hours, she did three months. 
Sunnyside - A story about war, movies, relationships Charlie Chaplin and Rin Tin Tin. Sometimes a bit hard to follow, but all in all good stuff from the author of Carter Beats the Devil.
Tell the Wolves I'm Home - Don't let the strange title stop you from picking this one up.
Four Fish - follow the stories of tuna, cod, salmon and sea bass. Makes you think about where our food is coming from: the wild or the farm?
Man's Search for Meaning - amazing first read from a Leadership Forum I am part of. Could change one's outlook on life.
The Fault in Our Stars - I'm almost done with this book club read. I'm not sure I like it as much as I would have liked. 

2. Watch 120 movies - The Netflix queue never has had less than 100 movies on it (yes, we still rock the hard discs in the mail). 
My list shows 113, but I know there were several documentaries and a few flicks thrown in that I neglected to do reviews for, so I feel good about saying that I hit this one pretty close if not over! Plus, we got through all 5 seasons (100 episodes) of the amazing show Fringe. That's gotta count for some extra credit, right?

3. Two trips to the theater - We just got back from The Book of Mormon after originally purchasing the tickets last summer. I can't stop singing the soundtrack. Of course, not out loud - I might get fired!
In April we saw a friend's play in Baltimore - the closest degree of separation I've had from the people who put on stage shows! 
 We saw John Oliver at the Chicago Theater in October - an anniversary gift from me to Bob.
Finally went to the ballet in Chicago! Saw The Nutcracker this holiday season.

4. Visit two museums - last year we checked out the Lichtenstein exhibit at the Art Institute - what's coming up there this year?
Certainly got my fill in DC. Highlights included the Newseum and American History Museum. We also visited the Art Institute in August as part of an anniversary celebration. Also got to the Shedd Aquarium for some fishy action.

5. Travel to three new cities - Work always helps me out here, with a planned trip this summer to Park City for an event. Add to this a potential DC/Baltimore visit in April and our big New England Road Trip for the fall and this one is in the bag.
DC - check! Baltimore - check! And several cities throughout Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine put this one into extra credit zone (Killington, Burlington, Concord, Meredith, Portland, Bar Harbor and Kennebunk to name a few!). Amazingly, I hit up 8 new states in 2013 including Virginia, Utah, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Indiana, Arizona and Maryland!

6. Book an international trip - OK, this might be one that gets put on the back burner, but hopefully not. With our New England Road Trip being our big to-do this year, here's hoping we'll have at least started talking about what 2014 has in store for us. Fingers crossed I finally get to cross South America off of my list!
While I suppose I can count a work trip to Toronto, the real excitement is coming up: Peru at the end of March!

7. Have a day of fun and culture with my niece - She's nearing four years old - the perfect age to check out the Shedd Aquarium if I do say so myself.
She is certainly a crafter off the ole block! We're planning a sleepover with her in these next couple months, so I've got to start stocking up now on my construction paper and supplies. 

How Entertaining
8. Take a knife skills class - Okay, I'm cheating just a little here because we just accomplished this long-standing goal this past week at The Chopping Block. Never fear me with a chef's knife again!
Done!

9. Make bread and cheese - We received a breadmaker as a wedding gift, and although it has gotten quite a bit of use already it has been driven by Mr. Kamicar. I'd like to find a couple recipes to try out. The idea of making my own mozzarella keeps popping up on Pinterest and I figure its time to give it a shot.
Didn't get to either of these, but I did buy a lot of bread and cheese from the local farmer's market. Does that count?

10. Invest in freezer meals - My recipes posts as of late have certainly had a theme - and our freezer is reaping the rewards. Keep 'em coming with at least 4 more meals like these breakfast burritos or this delish pasta.
Spent a long weekend making meatballs and sauce to freeze and later a chicken noodle soup. One more round of breakfast burritos is currently in our freezer and my tried and true Velvety Squash Soup found its way to the freezer this winter.

11. Host 3 parties - With the wedding yesterday's news, I am ready to plan a few smaller scale bashes. Not to mention we still have a ton of liquor left over from the reception.
Summer Party centered around my Birthday was a success. Our Harvest Party 2013 was great fun. Throughout the year I also hosted book club and a bunco night and we had a number of relatives over for Bob's grandmother's birthday party this past July!

12. Clean up as we go - I'm sure I am not the only one with this bad habit. I make a great meal and the dishes sit in the sink. Sometimes rinsed off, sometimes not. Why don't I just put them in the dishwasher you ask? Well, it is probably filled up with clean dishes we haven't put away yet! It is time to clean as we cook. I think we'll all be a lot happier in the end.
We have been doing a great job with this one! It is finally relaxing to look into the kitchen.

Health and Wellness
13. Cut down on soda - I don't think I overdue it to begin with - I'm not guzzling three before noon or anything, but some days I realized all I have had to drink that day is a soda for lunch and a soda with dinner and I get a little sad for myself.
I think I have done decent on this one, trying to drink different things and even filling up my water bottle at work every once in awhile!

14. Run another 5K - I failed miserably at hitting this goal last time. Literally got out to run three times since my big 5K of 2010. But I'm not giving up on me yet.
Not even close.

15. Safeguard - I'm talking wills, emergency plans and kits, checking out life insurance and all that good stuff you really don't ever want to tackle.
I started making an emergency kit, but it didn't really go anywhere. Need to figure out some motivation to get this one done.

16. Make appointments - It is a strange thing. I'm not scared of the dentist, I don't shudder at needles, and I can't say I am that bothered by wasting time in a stale waiting room reading an old Ladies Home Journal. What I am is a procrastinator. The type who doesn't make a dentist appointment until half her tooth breaks off because the temporary filling on the root canal she had seven months ago finally gives out. True Story. So, let 2013 be the year I make regular check up appointments for no other reason than keeping up with  keeping my health.
Well, the boys got taken to the vet and we found out they both need teeth extracted because of decay! I'll make a quick plug for oral care dry food, because I'm wishing we would have gone that route. . .other than that, I haven't been very good. Very behind on the dentist. . .



17. Eat more Fruits and Vegetables - Wait, how many servings a day are you supposed to have? Does pizza count? What about cold pizza? I'm thinking an easy way to start is to never leave home in the morning without a small container of grapes, carrot sticks, apple pieces, etc for snacks during the workday.
Check out my DIY Bistro Boxes. The snack packs continue most weeks, at least when I remember to go to the grocery store to stock up.

18. Wake up earlier - I sleep until the last possible second and then rush to get ready for work without time to even sit down. The sad part is I am not even sleeping that last hour. Just shutting my eyes and curling up tight to avoid getting up. If I can find a way to give myself an extra half hour at least a couple times a week I think I'll be a happier camper.
Sort of making this work - I definitely don't feel as rushed as I used to, but I could use a little more prodding in the morning! On weekends, however, I have definitely been getting up earlier. There is no better feeling than having most of your Saturday errands done by 10am!

Adventures in DIY and Home Ownership

19. The Second Bathroom - This could be a big one for the year - but luckily it is a small bathroom. A little bit of new floor tile, a pedestal sink, add some storage and we will be good to go.
Ideas have been forming and this is our "next big project" after the laundry room. Stay tuned!


20. Pinterest Projects - use the knowledge base and take on at least one new project a month based on the wonderful pins that make the world go round. Last year I made a rug and a project table. What will I find this year?
Nothing as huge as the shag rug, but some of my projects included a Halloween Diorama, Christmas Card Inspiration, Harvest Party recipes, an Easter centerpiece, Tomato Soup Mac and Cheese, and Christmas Present Tags

21. The Entryway - A small area, but with three potential additions: 1) hooks along the wall for coats and scarves. 2) a bench for putting on our dancin' shoes before heading out the door. 3) a small table with an option to collect our junk mail, keys and such.
The church pew is here! More to come. . .

22. Learn how to sew - the sewing machine Bob's mom got us for Christmas a couple years ago sits forlornly in my Project Table shelves. But, come March, my Aunt Christine will be heading down for ScrapFest 2013 (check out the 2012 festivities when my crafty aunt, sister and I all get together) and she's going to impart some knowledge.
Done! With a Halloween banner to prove it. 

23. Do something with all those Yarn Balls - I have 150 from our wedding centerpieces. So far I have used 1 to create a cute felt owl. Now I have 149. All ideas are welcome. 
I made 6 more of those felt owls and sold a half dozen at our yard sale. Still lots to go.

24. Pillows, pillows everywhere - It is a sad home indeed when you don't love any of your pillows. The couch pillows are flat and boring (and once so new and bright in this post!). Our bed pillows misshapen and unsupportive. It's time to upgrade.
Thanks to two generous gifts (completely unrelated, interestingly enough), our entryway bench now has two India-inspired pillows. We also recently splurged on our bedding and brought home two beautiful king-sized and down-filled firm pillows for the bed. A trip to Garden Ridge gave us two new couch pillows (and a new ottoman!)

25. The Laundry Room - like the Second Bathroom, this one takes a bit of doing. Our laundry room is less a room, and more a "large closet" but the walls go vertical forever so visions of a stacked washer and dryer and shelving as high as the eye can see for additional storage has had our wheels turning for quite some time. And, of course, we'll keep it classy with the cat litter box.
Done and Done! Check out our mini-series of posts: Getting a plan together and installing the washer, setting up the dryer and shelving, and the benefits of extra storage as demonstrated by our newly clean coat closet.

26. Build a hamper - this sort of goes along with the Laundry Room re-do, but our current method for collecting dirty clothes is by shoving a laundry basket in the corner of our bathroom. The cats have adopted this as their new bed. The idea is to use all of the wasted space against our bathroom wall and create an enclosed hamper with additional storage.
I knew this was a risky one to commit to. Nothing accomplished here, but perhaps soon?

Professional and Personal Development
27. Start driving in the city - Okay, so you can drive to your sister's house in the suburbs. That don't impress me much! Yeah, yeah Shania - I hear what you're saying. It's time to get over the fear and start tackling city driving (=one way streets, parallel parking and crazy Chicago cab drivers!)
I drove in my sister's new hometown. A bit white knuckled but a good start. . .need to do better here!

28. Volunteer once a month - Between dinners at Ronald McDonald House and a couple different Chicago Cares activities, it's just a matter of remembering to sign up months in advance!
Tuesday was always my volunteer day and I've been spending them as of late at my Second City writing class. Hmm, time to stop making excuses since I definitely didn't get something in once a month.

29. Donate to 3 charities/fundraising activities - Lets help some people out in the things they are fighting for, or fighting against.
Supported Global Explorers Kids by going to a benefit fundraiser on a recent Friday night with friends. Our company raises money every holiday season for the Greater Chicago Food Depository. I contributed to a department "Favorite Things" basket with a restaurant gift card. I'll "contribute vicariously" through Bob, who donated a day of his time and some dollars to the Alzheimer's Association's Longest Day.

30. Get better about birthdays - I'm not sure what happened. I used to be the one who always remembered a card, sent a gift at least a couple days in advance or generally kept your big day on my mind. 
I don't feel good about this one. I still feel as though I scramble to send a card on time. I'll think about what can make a positive impact to keep this one going.

31. Finish scrapbooks - I have kept scrapbook photo albums since freshman year of college (and scrapbooks in general since kindergarten) so it is a bit shameful that I haven't made my wedding scrapbook yet, let alone added any photos to the books since Christmas 2011. Yikes.
The wedding book is finally done! Now I need to set aside some time with my "life" album. Is this the year I finally catch up?

32. 80 blog posts - I have had a lackluster year in the post department - hopefully I can commit myself to at least a post a week and sometimes more to help keep the momentum up!
56 total from February 1 - January 31. Could be better, but I found myself without as many projects to focus on this year. I'm ready to kick this back up a notch!

Money Matters
33. Have at least 2 "no-spend" weekends - I wrote about one of these a long time ago in this post. I came close last weekend, but we had a quick run to Whole Foods which bumped us up to $30. It is amazing the dent it helps take out of our credit card bill when we decide against a drive to the suburbs for the day which results in going out for lunch, hitting up the stores, etc.
Achieved one of these right after Christmas. We ate lots of leftover pizza in the fridge and even got out of the house a bit. I'm going to ignore the fact that three days later we put a new washer and dryer on the credit card!

34. Achieve money goals - Bob and I set up a somewhat lofty savings goal for our first two years of marriage (you know, to prepare for....well, whatever might come next after love and marriage!) Let's stick with it Kamicars!
Doing very well here, although a bathroom remodel or big splurge on lighting could trip us up a bit in 2014.

35. Sell those blocks - I recently set up my Etsy shop for my Every Holiday Blocks. I am not sure how much like hotcakes they'll sell, but let's at least try to get them to sell like the tiny pancakes you make with that little bit of extra batter.
3/17/13 - 2 sold!
2 more sold before Christmas via Etsy. Woohoo!
2 more sold in February 2014!

36. Donate at least 1 bag of clothes - I think I do a good job regularly purging my closet, so keep it up. Bonus: this means more room for new clothes that you like to wear!
Done! We also took part in a family yard sale this past September, which helped me purge even more from our house.

Finally

36.5 The Standard Goal: Be a terrific Auntie to the best girls around! And a good wife, a good daughter, a good sister, a good co-worker, a good friend. . . .
No complaints so far. . .and Bob and I survived Year One of marriage!




Next up, determine my 2014 goals!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Closet Case

An added benefit of our new and improved laundry room storage solutions? Less junk filling up other areas of the house! In no time at all, the top shelf of our closet went from this:
To this: (apparently, I also learned how to turn the closet light on for better photos!)
The canvas bin holds scarves and gloves and various winter-wear. The other items include a few tablecloths that will slowly find a new home (can't wait for our linen closet in our renovated second bathroom down the road!) and 2 pull out drawers from our kitchen cabinets we didn't end up needing. I'm sure I can find a more suitable place for those in our storage area. 

We took some time to go through everything on the floor of the coat closet and discovered just how much we had accumulated in our tool/junk boxes over the last couple years. 
Weeks earlier I had started this clear out process of the coat closet floor by getting rid of two plastic crates that were taking up tons of room and weren't really serving much purpose. It was a little bittersweet. I bought the crates my freshman year of college and for years they served as my poor man's nightstand, with one stacked on the other and a scarf draped over the top. This was my humble attempt at decor at age 19.
photo source
Here's the frightening before photo of "the box":
Bob took this one on last Saturday afternoon. We also pulled out a bin from our media center that held tons of cords, plugs and electronic stuff. As usual, the cats did their fair share of helping organize.
I had an extra plastic bin handy, so we replaced the cardboard box that had somehow survived the last two moves and purged the wiring that no longer worked, the chargers that had nothing to charge and a bunch of old or expired home repair items.

Bob separated out any wiring or electronics and we dropped them off to recycle at our local Best Buy. The rest went in the trash or in a bin to keep in our storage unit (lesser needed items like extension cords and extra cable)

The bin now sits on the closet floor and holds a smaller plastic shoebox sized bin containing screws, nails and all that DIY goodness, flashlights and batteries, tape, spackle and sandpaper and much more. Better than a cardboard box.
Besides the toolboxes, our drills and this bin, the only other thing we needed to make room for was the vacuum cleaner. It's much more accessible than it used to be, though that hasn't made the prospect of vacuuming any more exciting to me. . .
I must be on an elfa roll after finishing our laundry room because I love the idea of maximizing the space in this closet even more. We could easily pack away our winter coats in the summer and spring coats in the winter to give us half of the space back for vertical shelving. As it is, Bob and I are neck and neck with 10 coats each hanging up. We also have all our our reusable grocery bags hanging from a few hangers at the end. 

Here's the basic idea of what I'm thinking we could make work:
photo source
Long term though, we'd love to remove those goofy accordion doors and put a barn door entrance to the closet. We certainly have the wall space on the one side of the closet to do this and an attractive door could double as "art." That big green wall is just too large for any of our pieces we've tried to find homes for so it remains blank and expansive.
And seeing photos like this on Pinterest are enough to make one swoon 
I better not get ahead of myself. . .that project may need to wait it's turn until 2015. . .