Thursday, July 2, 2015

Closets, Closets, Closets

With news of Baby K on the way, my excuse to nest got a whole lot stronger. In no time at all I had created a mega-list of organization needs to find space and storage in every possible nook and cranny of this 2 bedroom condo - not only did the craft room need to be dismantled and re-distributed, but we'd need to find cupboard space for all of the non-bedroom essentials (ie. bowls, cups, spoons, toys, books. . .)

Since we moved in, I had visions of converting our hallway coat closet into something with a little more storage. We definitely had enough coats to fill the length, but with more than half those on display only being used a few months out of the year, we figured storing the out of season outerwear wouldn't bring any harm.
After picking up a couple extra under-bed bins from The Container Store (surprisingly, best price found there, beating Target!), I saw we could cut the "coat" part of the closet to half and install shelving up the other side. Options for shelving included hiring out a California Closets type company to come in and install or attempt to Do it Ourselves. Guess which option we chose? 

My challenge was how to find shelving in the exact right sizing, without power tools here at home. The standard white shelves at the local Ace didn't run exactly as we needed, with the longest shelf option being 48 inches. I found some on Amazon that were close, but no cigar.

Then, after months of Lowes and Home Depot visits because of the bathroom model, we found ourselves in a Menards for the first time during all of these home projects (a tip from a fellow Home Depot customer on door options sent us the Menards way). I found white slabs of shelving that they would cut to size, the longest option being 96 inches! Perfect! We went back home to do some measuring and determine how many shelves and how many cuts we'd need.

A series of crude drawings determined we could comfortably fit in four 24" shelves with 10 - 15 inches of space between each and at least 20" up from the bottom to fit in our toolboxes. One long 55" shelf across the top at 72" up would hold the closet rod at the right height for coats. We also picked up the heaviest duty white brackets we could find and a couple boxes of anchors and screws.
After clearing out the closet, removing the wire shelf ("No. Wire. Shelves. Ever!") and patching holes, Bob painted the inside of the closet with the same green as our hallway. For a flashback, check out this post detailing our original paint choices upon move in!
The measuring twice/drilling once process began and within no time we had the pieces in place. 
Since the Menards cuts were not super exact, there were a few instances of sanding needed, especially to get the vertical divider piece to stay level, but once everything was screwed together you couldn't really see any imperfections.
The shelves were quickly filled with games, art supplies and bins that were previously housed in the second bedroom closet, now displaced by baby sized hangers, a newborn tub and colorful storage containers. But that is another post altogether. . .Our vacuum cleaner (which had been out being serviced at the time of the rehaul) also fits snugly underneath the coats to fill up the left side. We are loving the organization and the crisp white against the green background.
In retrospect, I wish I would have added a couple more inches of height to the bottom, and made the small shelves 25 or 26" wide instead of 24", as our toolboxes and bins are pretty well jammed in, but the sizes we went with definitely maximized the shelving we purchased, so it was probably the right move after all.

It felt great to get this project started and finished across just 2 weekends - especially when the bathroom took us just about as long as as this baby is taking!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

CS A+

Well, that hiatus was a bit longer than I intended it to be! Back in the fall I was realizing how behind I was in posting and decided to take some time off of the bloggin' to focus on some other areas of life - of course, in the meantime I've completed many a project just perfect for sharing that I'll need to catch you up on. 

The main reason for both the blog absence and the extra projects? Baby Girl Kamicar is soon to be making an appearance in our household! That has meant mucho organization, nursery decor creation, purging to create more storage areas and - of course - a finally finished bathroom remodel! We are super excited for the new addition to the family and all focus has been on getting ready for baby. 

Here's a sneak peek of the nursery (goodbye for now, craft room!) 
Until I get my thoughts together on some of the bigger initiatives like a coat closet rehaul, a 50 step organization list and more purchased furniture than our credit card would like to admit, let's start with something small: FOOD!

Part of preparing for baby has meant stocking the freezer and figuring out the best ways to plan out healthy, filling and easy to put together meals when cooking in the kitchen will be the last thing I want to do. We've taken advantage of Dream Dinners, made an extra batch of Breakfast Burritos, found 2 for 1 meat sales at the store and froze a couple additional pasta meals. But in the meantime, we wanted to also focus on fresh ingredients that would help us plan out meal options. We tried out Blue Apron for a few weeks and loved it - great tasting meals that never took more than 30 minutes to put together, made with ingredients we probably would never pick up on our own. We'll probably pick this back up in the fall/winter timeframe, but we saw some overlap with another plan we had just committed ourselves to for the summer: farm fresh veggies ready for pick up!

We had been talking about joining a CSA for awhile now, so when a recommendation and discount code popped up on my Facebook feed from a friend we decided to pull the trigger. We signed up for Angelic Organics and chose the "every 2 weeks" option based on feedback from someone who said getting a box a week was more than they could realistically get through. We pick up every other Saturday at a location just a few blocks from our house.

We are on Box #2, after starting to receive our fresh veggies in early June. And they weren't kidding - the fridge is stocked with lettuce, arugula, dill, pea shoots, beets and more! 
We are having fun reviewing the list of incoming items and finding recipes to match, and I can honestly say I've eaten more vegetables in the last few weeks than I have in a long time!

Box #1 included radishes, but rather than just slice them up for a salad, this vegetarian sandwich was too good looking to pass up. And this is coming from an ardent carnivore who loves her some turkey sandwiches.

Avocado, Radish and Snow Pea Sandwich
We skipped the red onion included in the original recipe, and this prego girl missed out on the goat cheese that I mixed right into Bob's avocado spread. However, mashing up avocado to use as a sandwich spread instead of globs of mayo may be the next big thing for us. I ate these three days in a row for work lunches.

Also made with CSA items in the last couple weeks:
- BLTs, thanks to our new abundance of lettuce
- Kale, Pineapple, Banana Smoothies
- Vietnamese-Style Stir Fry, using pea shoots, broccoli and left over snow peas from the above sandwiches
- Choy and Apple Slaw - 
- Parmesan Zucchini Rounds
- Too many arugula salads to count

Box #2 arrived with 3 heads of broccoli, so we got to work finding recipe options. When Bob brought up the idea of making a cream of broccoli soup, a quick Pinterest search gave me exactly what I was looking for before I even knew I wanted it: Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup. Oh my yum - I love getting that soup at Panera (along with the Bacon Turkey Bravo on an Asiago Bagel) and was looking forward to making our own little bread bowls of goodness.

Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup
Makes 4 servings

  • In a dutch oven, saute 1/2 yellow onion in 1 Tbs of butter. Set aside.
  • Wipe out dutch oven and melt 1/4 cup butter, mix with 1/4 cup flour, stirring constantly for a few minutes.
  • Slowly whisk in 2 cups half and half; 2 cups chicken broth. I ended up adding another 1/2 cup or so of broth later to cut the thickness of the soup a bit.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add 1 head diced broccoli, 1 cup of julienned carrots and the onion. Simmer for 25 minutes or until veggies are tender.
  • Add 1/4 tsp nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and 8 oz shredded cheddar. We used a mixture of cheddar and jarlsburg, when sharp white cheddar wasn't available.
  • Mix in to melt the cheese, then use immersion blender to get rid of some, but not all, chunks. 
  • Serve in bread bowls!

Whole Foods had 2 size options for our bread bowls - ginormous or mini. So we decided to get the mini versions and use regular bowls for the majority of our soup, with the bread added as a special treat.
Next up in the CSA adventure: finding recipes for beets! I pinned this beet chip recipe - what do you think?