Saturday Project

I thought I’d share a little weekend project that I completed a few months ago…I took before & after pics with the intent to write it up right away, but then life got in the way. Enjoy!

This past Saturday morning, I was sitting at my kitchen island drinking coffee, when a sudden stroke of inspiration hit me.

A little backstory: when we moved in to our house, the first thing I did was unpack the kitchen. My life basically revolves around cooking and eating, so getting all of my dishes and cooking equipment out and organized was essential to preserve my sanity. That said, I was in such a hurry to get everything to a “livable” state that I just kind of threw everything into random cabinets and vowed to re-arrange once I had lived with my kitchen for a while and got a feel of where things should live.

Fast-forward to four years later, and everything was still in the same place I tossed it the night we moved in, for the most part. Our kitchen is relatively roomy, but there are a few pretty distinct challenges, making it a little difficult to re-arrange things: One of our cabinets (a single door, so I guess it’s essentially half a cabinet) doesn’t open all the way because the door is blocked by the built-in microwave. Another set of cabinets is incredibly difficult to access because it’s blocked on one side by the refrigerator, and the front is blocked by the breakfast bar, making the higher shelves almost impossible to reach without climbing on to the island. And speaking of the island, there’s only storage on one side (and a single cabinet on the other side), making it less effective for storage.

A few things did end up working out – our coffee machine (now machines) have their own little corner between the sink and the fridge with canisters for coffee, tea, and now Nespresso pods, and I keep the coffee mugs and extra “hot beverage” gear (extra tea bags, honey, sweetener, etc) in the cabinet directly above. Our tupperware type stuff and extra novelty bar wear (think: big pink plastic martini glasses, extra cocktail shakers, souvenir daiquiri glasses, etc.) are (very messily) stored in the hard to access cabinet to the far side of the room by the microwave – since that cabinet is pretty difficult to access and doesn’t open all the way, not much else can really go there. Oh, and it also has a built-in lazy susan for some reason (which is great for storing spices – there’s another one in the cabinet I ACTUALLY store my spices in, but it was a weird choice for this particular cabinet). Our snacks go in the cabinet blocked by the fridge and island – it works because snacks tend to be things in bags and boxes I can kinda toss into the cabinet without fear of breaking or the need to stack neatly.

What wasn’t working was where I was keeping our everyday dishes. I previously had them stored in the cabinet above the coffee station, along with the mugs and coffee gear, so there was essentially only half of a cabinet dedicated to dishes/glassware. It was okay when we moved in, because we only had one set of dishes and one smallish set of glasses, but as we kept adding to our collection of dishes/glassware (pasta bowls, salad plates, champagne flutes, etc.), things started getting cramped, and it was becoming difficult to access some things – for example, our pasta bowls were buried under our cereal bowls, and were blocked by the center post of the cabinet. So, every time I’d need to grab a pasta bowl, I’d need to reach behind the post, lift up the stack of cereal bowls, and wrestle the pasta bowl out. It wasn’t ideal, and we were in desperate need of more room for glassware. Meanwhile, our “dry foods” (canned goods, pasta, etc.) were stored in the center cabinet along the longer side of the wall. The cabinet next to that holds my baking gear, and while it may seem a bit excessive, I really do need an entire cabinet to hold my ludicrous collection of (multiple types of) flour, sugar, cocoa powder, sprinkles, etc. etc. etc.

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Previous dish setup – note the big post blocking half of the dishes.

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Previous “dry foods” setup…scary, I know.

So, I decided to swap the “dry foods” and the dishes/glassware. The cabinet where the dry foods were being stored is roomier (there’s no center post blocking access), and I decided I’d be able to pare down the crazy amount of non-perishables that were currently very much filling that cabinet to the point where it would fit in the cabinet above the coffee station along with the mugs and coffee gear.

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Purge in progress…YIKES. (Excuse the fingerprints on the dishwasher #KeepingItReal)

After discarding about 5 half-empty peanut butter jars (you guys, I had SO MUCH peanut butter. To be fair, I still have a LOT of nut butters, but most of them are the natural kind that need to be refrigerated), a bunch of cans that probably expired in 2011 (which, I might add, was before we even moved into this house), some half-used dry pasta, and probably 3 boxes of Stove Top stuffing I’ll never ever cook, I managed to fit everything into its new home (and BOY was I proud)! The coffee/dry foods cabinet does leave a bit to be desired in the way of organization, but it just is what it was at this point – maybe I’ll look into under-cabinet mounting for some of the mugs at some point. And the new dishes/glassware cabinet is a thing of beauty – everything is organized, visible, and easy to access.

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Ahhh.

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Not the greatest, but an improvement nonetheless.

Having lived with this setup for a few months now, there are a couple of tweaks that need to be made (mostly requested by Jeff – for instance, he asked if we can move his collection of plastic cups to the other side of the cupboard, so that the door he’d be opening wouldn’t be the one with the extra piece on the inside, requiring both doors to be opened), but I’m SO much happier with the way things are now. This project also inspired me to clean out the below-island storage (which contains a rolling shelf containing most of my baking gear and some small appliances), and it’s been a breath of fresh air to have everything newly organized and easy to access. Next up: replacing the hardware on the drawers and cabinets!

Bedroom Sneak Peek

As I was saying, I’m not quite ready to share a full bedroom tour just yet…but I thought it’d be fun to share just a few little snippets:

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These were just taken with my phone, so they’re not the best quality…but I just couldn’t resist. We’ve had a few little snafus (read: I ordered the wrong size blinds) that have held us up, but we have everything we need now (save for a few decorative elements), so we should be finishing up soon. Stay tuned for the full reveal!

Five impulse buys that ended up being my favorite items

…Plus two things I thought I needed that ended up being duds

As I’ve mentioned, I (VERY) frequently end up falling victim to impulse buys. A lot of the time these purchases end up being left laying around for several weeks before being stored away somewhere or thrown out. But every once in a while, I’ll grab some random little item that ends up being one of the most useful things I own. Here are five items I grabbed on impulse, but ended up being some of the most handy things in the whole house:

1. Marble “Cheese” TrayIMG_2631I grabbed this little guy from Target one day because it was marble and it was cute. I didn’t really have a specific purpose in mind for it (it was labeled as a cheese tray, but was a little small to be practically used as such), but as soon as I got home it hit me – it’s the PERFECT little tray to keep my dish soap, hand soap, and kitchen sponge corralled! It keeps everything neat and together, and most importantly, it covers the stupid hole in the countertop meant for a sprayer hose. We removed the hose a few years back because it wasn’t functional and we had installed a faucet with a hose built in, and the hole has been driving me absolutely bonkers ever since. I had it covered with a little metal cover for a while, but I couldn’t put anything on top of it without being lopsided, so I eventually took it off and just placed my soap directly over the hole…but I still knew it was there and I hated it. This little tray makes me practically forget all about it. Get it here.

2. Salt WellIMG_2633Another impulse buy from Target – big shock, I know. I always knew salt cellars LOOKED pretty, but I didn’t realize how much easier they make things – I use kosher salt pretty much exclusively when cooking, and the only practical way to do so is to grab a pinch with your fingers and sprinkle it on (much like salt bae). Honestly, I don’t remember what I even did before this little guy – did I just take the salt directly from the huge carton? I don’t know, but I keep this little bowl right on my stove and it makes cooking a pinch (see what I did there?). Get it here.

3 & 4. Mid Century Planter & Artificial PlantIMG_2630This one’s a twofer, although I don’t always keep them together – I grabbed this Nate Berkus planter on clearance from – where else? – Target one day, and the cute little artificial succulent is from Ikea. I have the blackest of black thumbs and although I buy real succulents pretty frequently, they usually don’t make it more than a few weeks. This little artificial guy looks pretty darn real, and is cute as all get out. Similar stand here; similar plant here.

5. Lunch ToteIMG_2632For the longest time (we’re talking years), I brought my lunch to work in a variety of efficient, yet classy grocery bags. I always felt a little embarrassed and unprofessional doing so, but I could never seem to remember to pick up a reusable lunch tote. Until one day, I grabbed this adorable little fella while waiting in line at Old Navy, and the rest is history. It’s just your basic lunch tote – nothing super special about it, but the bright yellow graphic makes me smile every time I look at it. I can never seem to find these online, but they’re always right by the register in the store. These also come in pretty cute patterns.

And now…Two things I thought I needed, but ended up being duds.

1. Spoon RestIMG_2627I know a lot of people (probably most people) use these, but I just don’t see the point…I insisted on buying a really pretty one from Anthropologie, but since it’s so pretty, I hate to get it dirty. Which…is kind of the whole point. Even after buying this, I pretty much always rest my dirty cooking utensil on a paper towel, so this just sits on my stove collecting grease. I throw it in the dishwasher once a week or so, put it back, and there it sits. Pretty, but pointless (much like Kylie Jenner – zing). If you’re so inclined, you can grab a similar (actually, cuter) one here.

2. Passport CoverIMG_2628This one pains me, because I was SO excited to buy it (I bought this one for me and a brown leather one for Jeff right before our honeymoon) and it’s SO pretty, but it’s really more of a hassle than anything. Have you ever tried to use a passport in a passport sleeve? Does. Not. Fly. (Literally!) The TSA makes you remove it, so I always end up taking my passport out and carrying it around the airport naked, and then I just have an extra thing to lug around. But…I still use it, because it’s pretty, damn it. You can snag a similar one here.

 

 

Hex wine rack

As I recently mentioned, I’m in possession of a LOT of wine since signing up for Bright Cellars, and then switching to Winc. Currently, the bottles of red live in the little nook of our kitchen counter with the rest of our liquor (I still need to find a bar cart!), and all the bottles of white are in the fridge. But the counter is starting to overflow with bottles, and unless I get some major sippage in, the fridge won’t have enough room for my next shipment. I definitely need to invest in a wine rack, and soon.

I’ve had my eye on a gold hex wine rack for months now, but I’ve just had trouble biting the bullet and paying the $50 or $60 – I’ve been holding out and hoping it goes on sale. After foolishly missing a sale on Domino for $40 (d’oh!) I think it’s time to give in and make my purchase. Now, the only question that remains, is: which one?

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This is the original rack I’d been eyeing up – I originally found it at Domino, but this image is from Wayfair. This particular rack is currently priced at $64.99, but I’ve seen the exact same rack at other merchants priced between $50-$60.

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This beauty is from Crate & Barrel, currently $49.95. I love that it comes in a copper finish, in addition to gold, chrome, and nickel.

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This guy from Amazon is currently $48.31. Although I don’t love the look of this one quite as much, I do like that it’s wall-mounted – as of now, I’m not totally sure where I plan to place a tabletop rack.

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I’m not a huge fan of the chunky look of this rack from World Market (currently $29.95), but Jeff’s not the hugest fan of gold and would probably like this one a little better.

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This wood guy from Pier One is a cutie, and is definitely budget-friendly at $19.95, but it’s a bit small for my purposes.

And the winner is…the Crate & Barrel wine rack in the copper finish. Although it’s not quite as visually interesting as the first rack, it holds more bottles and I love the variety of finishes available. I love mixing metals throughout our home, and the copper finish will add a nice touch to our dining room (plus, it’s a nice compromise for gold-hating Jeff). Sold! Now to figure out where to put it…

A Day in the Life: Long Weekend

Does anyone else get as much pleasure as I do from reading about the mundane aspects of other peoples’ lives? No? Just me? Okay, cool (ha).

As I recently mentioned, I’m obsessed with Refinery 29’s “Money Diaries” feature – partly because I find it fascinating to see what other people spend their money on on a daily basis, but mostly for the voyeuristic aspect of reading how each woman spends every hour of every day for a week. Since I enjoy reading these diaries so much, I thought it’d be fun to document my life over the course of MLK Day weekend. Here goes!

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Friday evening:

5:30 PM: I worked from home today, so I’ve mostly been lounging on the couch in sweats, staring at my work laptop all day. I’m feeling grungy, so I hop into a much needed shower.

6:00 PM: Jeff arrives home, and I decide to get started on dinner: parmesan crusted chicken breast over farro with tomatoes and garlic.

7:00 PM: We sit down to dinner – delish! We eat dinner at our kitchen island most nights, and Jeff cleans up since I cooked.

7:45 PM: I crack open a bottle of white wine and settle in for an evening of TV.

Saturday:

11:00 AM: Roll out of bed. I’ve been in a bit of a (physical, not so much mental) funk lately, and I’ve been sleeping in SUPER late. I hate wasting my day like this, so I’m making an effort to get back into waking up at a normal hour. Head downstairs and catch up on some blog reading while sipping on coffee.

12:30 PM: Make a snack of brown rice cakes with almond butter; hop in the shower.

1:30 PM: Today is the day we’ve decided to de-Christma-fy our house. I decide to let Jeff hang out on our third floor for a while (I bought him a new video game for Christmas – he’s not a big video game guy, but every few months he’ll go on a kick), and start removing the ornaments from the tree. I get on a roll and end up getting pretty much everything done aside from actually taking the tree down.

5:30 PM: Jeff comes downstairs and feels terrible that I got so much done without him (I really don’t mind; I just lost track of time). As a compromise, he cleans up the (insanely huge) mess I made taking the garland down, and drags the tree outside. I continue to putter around the house, dusting surfaces where decorations had been removed.

6:15 PM: I ask Jeff to put together a new floor lamp I purchased to offset the post-holiday decoration depression. He puts it together while I re-arrange our foyer (where we put our Christmas tree). The new lamp looks shorter than I pictured it, but after I arrange everything, I decide I love it.

7:15 PM: Jeff heads back upstairs for a few while I order dinner from our favorite takeout place: a buffalo chicken salad for me, and a BBQ wrap for him. I also break down and get an order of mozzarella sticks for us to share, because I’m starving after having eaten hardly anything all day. Takeout is convenient, but it’s SUPER difficult to find anything remotely healthy, at least from the places available for delivery in our neighborhood.

8:15 PM: Dinner arrives; we eat in front of the TV (the only time we eat in front of the TV is when we get delivery) and settle in with some Netflix, followed by SNL.

Sunday:

9:00 AM: Jeff goes to pick up his usual Dunkin Donuts coffee, and discovers his car has a flat tire. Womp womp. He takes my car instead, and decides to sign us up for AAA (normally he’d just change his own tire, but his car has some kind of crazy wheel locks that make it next to impossible). He’ll have them come either take off the tire tomorrow, or tow it to Pep Boys.

11:00 AM: I drink coffee while messing around online, and ask Jeff if he wants to take a trip to Ikea today. We decide to go later in the afternoon.

12:00 PM: I’ve been wanting to deep clean our kitchen for a while, so I get started. I remove everything from all the surfaces and do a wipe down, and put all the dishes from our open shelves (we have a bookcase in our kitchen for extra storage) into the dishwasher. While the dishwasher is going, I clean the baseboards and run the swiffer wet jet over the floor.

4:00 PM: Feeling accomplished, I hop into the shower.

5:00 PM: We head to Ikea, about 30 minutes away. We’ve both been desperately wanting a new couch for a while, but are having a hard time finding one – most of the local options are big box furniture stores, and I don’t care for what they offer. I’d like to order a couch online, but Jeff (understandably) doesn’t really want to purchase a couch without being able to try it out first. I recently found a sectional at Ikea that looked promising (the Nockeby model), but when we get there neither of us find it to be very comfortable. Sigh, back to the drawing board. At any rate, I needed a shoe rack for my closet, and I also pick up a really cute artificial succulent.

6:30 PM: Head back south, listening to the Hamilton soundtrack – we’re both a little obsessed – and decide to try the new Shake Shack for dinner. It does not disappoint.

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8:45 PM: Return home…debate going to a movie, but the soonest showing of what we want to see (he wants to see Rogue One, I want to see La La Land – we planned on splitting up) isn’t until after 10. We decide to stay home and try “Sneaky Pete” on Amazon Prime while sipping on red wine (for me, Jeff sips on bourbon). Jeff likes it a lot, I’m less into it. We crash at around midnight.

Monday:

10:00 AM: Wake up and lounge in bed for a while, scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. Jeff (having woken up a few hours earlier) comes into the bedroom and tells me that AAA will be here soon to work on his car. Hooray!

11:00 AM: Sip coffee while Jeff and the AAA guy are outside and Grooby is running around freaking out about the stranger. Refill my coffee and head into the living room to watch The Kitchen.

12:00 PM: Consider heading to the Y to swim laps; check the schedule and see that although there are lanes open for lap swim, there are various activities happening in the pool throughout the afternoon. I don’t feel like swimming laps while swim team practice is going on, so decide against it.

12:30 PM: Start dinner prep – I’m making a spicy apricot glazed pork tenderloin in the slow cooker, so I whip up the glaze and sear off the pork before throwing it in the crock pot with some baby carrots.

1:00 PM: Since I didn’t make it to the Y at all during the weekend, I decide to try a Tracy Anderson Method video on YouTube (I stream it through Apple TV in the living room). I make it through exactly two “actions” before I’m basically unable to move – HA, pathetic! Feeling defeated, I throw together a smoothie using a banana, a couple spoons of almond butter, some frozen stawberries, a spoonful of greek yogurt, a handful of spinach, and some unsweetened vanilla almond milk – this should hold me over until dinner. I received this immersion blender as a secret Santa gift this Christmas, and it’s perfect for single-serving smoothies. I sip on my smoothie while doing some writing.

3:30 PM: Dinner smells freaking amazing. I hop in the shower.

4:00 PM: My closet has been in desperate need of an overhaul for months and months – it’s gotten so bad that every time I grab a T-shirt off the shelf, an huge pile tumbles onto the shoe-covered floor. Oh, the joys of old houses without walk-in closets. I bought a set of velvet-covered hangers from Marshalls several months ago, and today is the day to purge and re-fold and re-hang (and put together the shoe rack I bought yesterday). This is more cleaning than I typically do in a weekend, but the house always feels so stuffy in the winter between all the dry heat and the lack of fresh air, plus I figured I should take advantage of the long weekend.

6:30 PM: Decide to call my progress “good enough” for now, and head downstairs to finish dinner. I round out the meal with a side of garlic parmesan cauliflower rice. Jeffrey comes downstairs and we sit down to eat.

7:15 PM: After cleaning up the dinner mess, I pour myself a glass of red from the bottle I opened last night, and we settle in for some TV. In bed by 10.