Organize, ya’ll!

Organizing for the new year?

I know, it seems like it’s a cliche, doesn’t it?  All the stores use January to put organizing items on sale but pump the breaks a second.

Don’t buy immediately, sort and donate first.

Also cliché you say?  Well, I’m here to tell you that most Americans have TOO MUCH stuff. Whether its saving too many plastic grocery sacks, coat hangers, extra t-shirts, or nail polish, everyone has a collection of something that can be edited.  Can you give extra stuff to a friend?  How about donate to Goodwill?  Are there some things that should really be thrown away.

Do that now.

You will breathe easier and have more space.  You don’t need bins to store more stuff you won’t look at in another year.  In case you don’t understand what I mean, I would refer you to George Carlin’s riff on STUFF which is just genius and 100% relevant today.

If you need places to put your “stuff” consider recycling things you already have, like covering cardboard boxes in cool papers or fabrics like THIS.

This was life changing when I found out a better way to store my plastic grocery bags.  These are great for bathroom trash bags, poop scooping, packing lunches and when you have too many, most stores have recycle spots where you can turn them in.  THIS is what I do with them and store them in a coffee can!

One of the most liberating decisions I have made is deciding to work on a capsule wardrobe.  Right now I am in the sorting/donating/inventory phase.  You can find great printables and instructions on my Pinterest board HERE.  Also check out the app STYLEBOOK.  While I haven’t started loading in pictures, this is pretty amazing and will simplify my life in the long run.

Follow along with me as I work through Apartment Therapy’s January Cure.  This gives great, manageable steps to get your shit together without feeling overwhelmed by it.

First task today:  MAH OFFICE


You can follow along with me on my Instagram page HERE to see my progress and solutions that cost little or no money.  It’s not about buying expensive solutions that just contain more stuff.  It’s about cleaning up what you have and appreciating the purpose of every single thing or getting rid of it.

It’s okay. You can let go of some things.  Let’s do this.


Done with the office cabinet, now it’s on to my fancy (not really fancy) “library” this weekend.  Hopefully it goes as well!



My Nerdy Kitchen

BEFORE Kitchen cabinets and Little Monkey being goofy
BEFORE Kitchen
BEFORE Kitchen wall

Living in a 100 year old tiny house is difficult.  There is always something breaking, not working or needing updating.  While I have advocated down sizing before (and still do) it can pose quite a problem for a cook.  There are many things I don’t need in other rooms of the house but the kitchen is one of those where I still don’t have every thing I need, much less every thing I want.  One of the problems posed by this little space was where to hang our nerdy artwork.  Because there was an empty wall in the kitchen placed where nothing could go against it if you wanted to maintain any sort of emergency exit plan (read here:  between two doors) it ended up this was the art wall.  From there the kitchen project began.

For most people, I am sure I don’t have to explain the importance of paint colors. You CAN use dark colors in small spaces but it has to be the right dark color (see my bathroom below).  This tiny house was painted on the main floor in awful pink tinted beige with dark burgundy accent walls.  The result was a house that was dark and depressing at best.  Marry this with really badly done mint green cabinets and it just got worse.  When we first moved in, we weren’t really sure where to put all our pieces because clearly cooking had to take place but there was so little prep space that it became a chore.  We tried several configurations, none of which helped.  We finally started a couple of months ago, one project at a time, until we finally arrived at the finished project this weekend.

AFTER Kitchen wall

Yes those are comic books and Daleks.  You don’t have to like it but it is quite representative of our household. While the old table we gave a facelift isn’t quite Tardis blue, its close enough for you to get it.  Someone, solely the fault of Halo, we went down a deep rabbit hole into very specific nerdy art with candy and/or cupcakes involved.  It’s sad.  I have added a great print from Amy Houser and I fear I will never stop looking for them.  Currently paint and glittering a sign to hand that says “Make Cupcakes Not War.”  See what I mean?

As a side note, the master tiny bath was redone as well.  It was previously a God-awful shade of blue that did not “brighten” anything.  Combined with a poorly hung mirror and a light fixture above it hung 8 inches too far to the right made for a depressing bathroom.  Though I went with a darker color, it ended up looking much richer and simply repositioning the light and mirror properly, results in far more light reflecting and a happier room.

AFTER bathroom, Darby approved

Shades of orange, chalkboard paint, take some cabinet doors down, add Big Foot fabric and BAM!  Shouldn’t all rooms be happier?

My Funky Tree

While admittedly behind the norm for me in a holiday season, we finally got the tree up!  I have used an artificial tree for much of the last ten years out of convenience and the quality of them has so drastically improved, however, while shopping at Whole Foods (possibly my favorite place in the ENTIRE world) we saw their selection of Frasier firs.  If you have never used one but like live trees, I highly recommend them…the smell is superb and they hold ornaments quite well.  Whole Foods is supporting a family farm with their effort and you gotta love that.  Over the last five years, I have been doing a great deal of simplifying, so for this tree we opted to make a large portion of what would go on the tree.  Our one rule that stays the same every year is that things from previous years must be repurposed/reused/recycled.  What we don’t use is either passed on to someone else I know that can use them or it is donated to Goodwill for someone to buy them while supporting a great charity.  From last year, we kept the background of natural items consisting of grapevine garlands, pine cones, pecan garlands and various pieces of primitives to include rusted star garlands and rusted jingle bells.  We also had filler bulbs that are chocolate brown and brown glitter snowflakes so that went on first with the twinkle lights.  On top of that, we added knitted garlands by middle monkey in turquoise and orange and glass ornaments we got from Michael’s.  On these we painted the interiors with blue, orange, white and glitter paint.  This is a super easy and cheap way to customize your tree!  We added two beaded orange garland we scored at HomeGoods super cheap and constructed a topper from blue beaded picks we found at WalMart.  Obviously, these are not item handmade items but they do look like it and add to the over all funky vibe of the tree.  Underneath the tree, we added the two orange wool blankets we have collected from thrift stores and Army/Navy supply stores over the years.  

Normally these spend the year in the baskets for the cats to sleep on but for Christmas they become our tree skirt.  Previous to this incarnation, we did a Mardi Gras theme that was a ridiculous number of colors and this orange option underneath is a carry over from then.  Though each blanket is different (one is a Danish Army officers blanket, they other knitted by someone and abandoned) it adds to the spirit of repurposing we believe in greatly.  Here in our town, we will be able to recycle the tree at a drop point and pick up bags of mulch in exchange from others that did this last year.  It makes me feel better that buying at Whole Foods, we got a tree from a family farm and it helps me feel like I am contributing directly to someone to keep their business rather than buying something faux from a big box retailer.

Middle monkey had some difficulty with the photographing…she is not a fan of twinkle lights because it is hard to get a picture with everything lit.  Little monkey told her that she would get over it…in true little monkey form.  We put on our fireplace DVD and listened to Christmas music in the library while putting everything together so we are all very much ready for present time!  Now I just need to get shopping…

DIY Done Right

 One of our favorite things to do, besides art projects is to decorate.  Always having more ideas than money, this was one of those times to use both skills.  After a long marathon session of 9 X Design episodes, we fell in love with Ann Carrington’s work.  While I am confident it will take winning the lottery to afford one of her pieces, the girls and I decided we were going to try an art project INSPIRED by the great and wonderful Ann.  We started by taking a large piece of denim we already had from another project and used a bleach pen to do the outline of a peace sign.  From there, using primarily vintage buttons from Ebay, we started (or rather I started) sewing buttons onto the fabric.  This monster task illustrated to me why Ann has a great team…GEEZE it was time intensive.  As days melted into weeks, we decided both to switch to various glues and add multi-media elements.  My wonderful boyfriend added his carpentry skills by building a frame and stapling it on.  When completed, there was actually a section of the project that represents each person in the house. We incorporated old keys, foreign and domestic money, political buttons and sheet music just to name a few things.  Little Monkey (who is a great fan of Nate Berkus, as am I) decided this would also be a great I Spy piece and constructed a list of items and a key.  Despite all the work, I think the finished product came out well.

Paired with lamps I scored on serious clearance at Target, a clearance bowl from Pier 1 and a ten dollar orange platter I found at Walmart it looks great.  Both kitchen table are made from old doors.  The white buffet table, one I scored in a Galveston Island junk shop for 35 bucks and the other, the former front screen door from my Grandparents house in the 70’s.  The legs came from Ikea (both sets on sale) and a local glass shop provided the tops.  My chairs and bench on the other side I already had in a previous kitchen incarnation and I painted these from red to beige.  Even the light fixture was a clearance item from Home Depot and the baskets under the white table, Longaberger that I purchased 10 years ago.  They have served me well for the cost and have gone from living room toy catchers for little ones to comfy cat bed for our aging flock of furry babies.  The vases/candle holders on the kitchen table are punch cups from a pottery punch bowl set from Thailand.  Not too bad if I do say so myself!