Category Archives: storage

Painted canisters and a dog collar


I feel like this is one of those instances where the final product looks much cuter in my kitchen than it does in this crummy picture. I should outsource my photography to someone with better skills! Disclaimers aside, I gave my kitchen canisters a little update. The sturdy glass jars where still in perfectly good condition after ten or so years of wear, but the metal lids were starting to rust. I used craft paint on the lids, then coated them with a polyacrylic sealer. The top of the lids don’t come into contact with food, nor do they need to be dishwasher safe, so I’m hoping this solution stops the rust and improves the look of them.I tried to get a picture of one of the lids in front of the curtains that inspired the design. In retrospect I could probably have stamped on polka dots in the same paint colors and it would have looked nice with less work, but I didn’t think of that in time.

Belle the dog was the victim recipient of another of my recent projects. I’m quite pleased with this one and foresee homemade collars to match every season and holiday in lucky Belle’s future. I purchased inexpensive parachute clips, nylon webbing and D rings at my local crafts shop. I sewed decorative fabric over the webbing and then assembled the collar. This would have been a more complicated project if I’d had to make the collar adjustable, but since I was only sewing it for one full-grown dog I just based it on the measurement of one of her other collars already adjusted to fit her. The whole project only took a few minutes and a couple dollars–now I have to figure out which of my camper fabrics to use on the next one!

Belle models her new collar.

St. Patrick’s Day and some organization


The first year that Rob and I were married I collected holiday decorations a little obsessively. It was some combination of nesting in our first home, having two incomes and no kids, and a love affair with eBay that made me do it. Now some years I have not had the time or energy to put out useless tchotchkes for minor holidays. This year, with two kids big enough to avoid catastrophe while I bring a box up from downstairs and a house that is no longer such a project on its own, I have really enjoyed putting out all manner of holiday decorations. The kids take total delight in “decorating” and making a celebration out of days big and small.  These green and gold fishing floats were my newlywed eBay purchases–a pot of gold for St. Patrick’s Day. My mother bought the Leprechaun when Dorothy was a baby and this year the girl loved seeing him keep watch over his treasure on our entryway table.

Green candles in my candelabra, more fishing floats, vintage glass goblets that belonged to Rob’s grandfather, and some felt clover from the dollar store made us feel lucky and maybe even a bit Irish in the dining room.

And my very favorite, a set of vintage-inspired plates from that newlywed eBay spree. I didn’t know then how much our children would enjoy them in 2012! We ate off of them for a couple weeks prior to March 17. We rounded out our celebration of the Irish within us (Dad assures me it’s there, and my current red hair situation would lead you to believe it if you weren’t aware that all hints of the hue came from a bottle) by eating this delicious apple and cabbage soup and fried patties of mashed potato, garlic and cheese–probably not authentic, but reminiscent of a favorite Irish pub food in my college town.

On another topic, I’ve been prettying up the insides of closets and things that don’t always show. I spent the first year at this house taking care of big-impact things, but in this second year I get to move on to some crafty projects that might not be noticed when you walk in the front door but definitely improve my quality of life. I was so pleased with the new rag bag of a few weeks ago that I made a similar bag with an inserted hanger to hold plastic bags. While I do use cloth bags frequently at the grocery, I also like to hang on to those good, sturdy Target bags and the bags the newspaper comes in to reuse. I’ve seen patterns for small bag-holders, but we also save paper shopping bags so I felt like I needed something larger. This one is working out very nicely and looks pretty good too. The tote bag in the stairwell holds old batteries until I can drop them off at the recycling center.

This little bag turns an unused bar on the inside of my kitchen under-sink cabinet into a sweet little spot for reusable mop heads and dusters. I don’t think the buttons show very well in the picture but they are very pert make the bag look a little sassy–just what I need to make me feel better about some chores that are not my favorites.

Christmas t-shirts and a dresser


This picture is what you get when you set the camera on something, focus on your children, hit the timer, then jump in yourself. Oops! I really do have a head–it just didn’t make it into this photo. Anyway, the point of this photo is the matching Santa t-shirts I made for Dorothy and me. I cut out round scraps from fabric left over from the pillow project (below), a coffee-drinking Santa for myself and a stocking-stuffing Santa for Dorothy. I ironed them onto the shirts with Wonder-Under and zigzagged around the edge in red. Also with the red thread I did decorative machine stitching around the neck and bottom hem of the shirts. I paid $2 for my like-new, name-brand cotton shirt at a thrift store and $.50 for Dorothy’s from the same place. Not bad!

Now the sad thing about making a t-shirt for Dorothy is that it was going to end up going into her closet, which is often a Horrifying Pit of Filth and Stuff, kind of like the rest of her room only worse. Housekeeping is not a talent of my five-year-old, but unfortunately hoarding does seem to be. One of the problems has been that she really hasn’t had enough drawers for folded clothing items. She has one vintage chest-of-drawers my Mom refinished before she was born, but it has very shallow drawers that won’t begin to accommodate the piles of accessories she accumulates. We were keeping skirts and pants in labeled kitty-litter buckets similar to these but as she got larger her clothing got larger too, and suddenly not very many pants would actually fit into a bucket at all, so they were mostly getting thrown in the direction of the buckets, spilling out, then mingling with doll clothes, dirty clothes, cat hair and who-knows-what-else on the floor. I got completely fed up with the situation all at once last week, drove to the nearest Goodwill, and promptly bought an old wooden dresser for $15. The drawers didn’t fit in quite right but I figured I’d see what I could do–I wasn’t making more than one stop.

The problem with the drawers ended up being that they weren’t in the right slots–easy fix! I sanded the whole piece, used leftover wall paint to make it a cheery yellow that coordinates with Dorothy’s beloved wallpaper, and sprayed the old handles white. I did need to purchase new knobs for the top because they were missing entirely, so I bought cute glass ones that look appropriately glamorous. We spent a productive afternoon organizing Dorothy’s things with the help of the roomy new drawers. She loves it and claims to be determined to stick to our new organization plan. I suspect she won’t, but at least now I can chalk her big mess up to her creative spirit instead of a system stacked against her.

As an update to an old post, we had a good thing happen in our family this week! Rob, who had been on crutches since he ruptured his Achilles tendon in September, is finally able to hobble around on his boot but without the crutches. He missed being able to drag the dresser downstairs to my work space and then upstairs to our daughter’s second-floor bedroom, but by the next time I drag home used furniture he should be much more useful!

Winter days


I think every year my husband starts complaining about winter at about this time, and each year I’m surprised that winter is even in full swing already (wasn’t it just Christmas?) and then all of the sudden I get impatient for spring too.  I have to say, though, that I’m not as impatient this year.  For one thing I’m not horridly pregnant like last year, and for another it is just much easier to live in the present now that this move is over.  Without having to constantly put “real life” on hold to show the house or to spend so much time prepping for change it is easier to appreciate and even linger on each day.  One of the things I’ve been really enjoying this winter (besides my fireplace, have I mentioned that lately?) is this cookbook.  I got it for Christmas and it’s the best.  I love America’s Test Kitchen (I’ve blogged about my fierce devotion to Cooks Illustrated before) and I love the unaffiliated magazine Cooking Light, and this cookbook seems to be the best of both worlds.  The recipes have the reliability of Cooks Illustrated and the health aspects of Cooking Light.  Perfect!  Of course, some of them also have the fussiness factor and four-hours-later-dinner-is-on-the-table factor of CI, but that’s part of the journey, right?  I swooned over the vegetarian chili (with tempeh), scarfed up the cornbread, served the spaghetti and meatballs for Rob’s birthday, splurged on the oven fries, slurped the lentil soup, and changed my go-to bread recipe to their basic whole-wheat loaf. And I’ve only had the book since Christmas!  The only recipe I’ve tried but didn’t love was multigrain pancakes, which were dry, but I think I may have overcooked them.  In any case the red pepper frittata we ate with them was superb!

Could anything be sweeter than this?  Both of my kids somehow made it into my bed in the wee small hours a couple nights ago and I snapped this photograph of them in the morning.  I think they should always wear coordinating clothes because I’m surely more patient with them when I’m giddy over their matchy cuteness.  Rock star pajamas!  My sleeping angels.  This picture will keep me going next time they are irritated with each other and I’m feeling likewise toward them.

The house is still coming along.  The kitchen and dining room are shaping up and gradually other things are migrating to new, permanent homes.  Sometimes stuff doesn’t want to stay where you unpack it–it has to get moved around a bit before it settles.  I organized my serger thread in a lovely old cabinet that belonged to my grandparents and I think the colors are so pretty; it’s like a functional rainbow over in that corner of my family room.  I also purchased an old wooden ironing board at an antiques store so that I can leave it out in the family room and hope it looks more like furniture than something that is on loan from the basement.  I want all my sewing supplies to be out and accessible, but I don’t want my living space to look too utilitarian.  Hopefully I’ll figure that out.

Oy vey mural


First and foremost today, I’d like to come clean about something I referenced a couple months ago.  I mentioned back in November that a Major Life Change was coming to our family that I could not yet discuss.  Now that it has come to pass it’s no longer a secret!  The man fondly known as Daddy in this family has been hankering after more independence in his work life for quite some time.  This fall he and a friend concocted a plan to team up and start their own law firm.  We’ve been excitedly plotting and planning this professional move, but we knew that our mortgage company wouldn’t exactly be excited to hand over money to borrowers who just embarked on an adventure of self-employment, so we thought we might have to put our personal moving plans on hold if we didn’t sell by mid-November.  Just about the time we thought we really were going to have to rearrange our old house a bit and commit to a couple more years of extreme coziness, we sold!  You all know that part of the story.  On the professional side, Rob gave notice at work the week after we closed on the house and is now happily hitting the pavement, building his business.  We expect a rough period while he gets started, but it seems like a small price to pay for all the adult members of our family to be in vocational situations that make them feel happy and fulfilled.

On the home front, I’d been really determined to only peel wallpaper in one room at a time.  I figured it was better to have intact wallpaper in most rooms than rooms of half-peeled wallpaper.  Rob still couldn’t resist, picking here and there at loose edges.  Then last night I finally gave in and declared open season on wallpaper.  Now we’re peeling and picking all over the place and I have no idea when all this will end.  I got all the wallpaper down in one bathroom last night, though, so at least I know where to go once I decide to declare open season on sanding and paint preparation.  For kicks, here is the mural in the kitchen. I think I’ve referred to it several times during this move extravaganza.  Unfortunately it seems stuck on pretty tightly, but it’s comin’ down.  Most of the wallpaper in the house is dated but pretty in its own way.  This is really the only one that makes me wonder what on earth they were thinking.  The longer I look at it, the more I just don’t understand.  🙂

Our craft studio and play space in the new basement is far from being set up, but it too is finally starting to take some sort of shape.  We have a comfy futon down there by the fireplace, the toys are out of boxes, the craft table is set up, though not much more.  Dorothy was eager to try it out, so today I set her up with some paint and a (previously blue) shelf we’d found at the thrift store.  We’re going to hang the shelf in her room to hold her little knick knacks.

I also started unpacking fabric to put on my new shelves.  I’m not sure what these recessed places in my studio wall did before (maybe hold unattached shelves?), but my brother came over and put nice sturdy shelves in them so I will have dedicated space to store my fabric out where I can see it and access it.  I feel  spoiled!  I was so eager to put the fabric out I almost didn’t paint the shelves first, but I know it would be a lot harder to go back and do it later, so I went ahead and painted before I began unloading my treasures onto the clean, painted shelves.