Posts Tagged With: postaweek2011

20 Weeks: Junk Drawer No More!

Well, it’s my 12th project from my 20 Weeks of Organizing Challenge!  Unfortunately I got sidetracked, so I’ve been at it for 19 weeks.  Ha!  I may or may not catch up (most likely not), but I’ll keep going until I get all my items crossed off anyway.

Buffet Drawer - BEFORE

Here’s what my current list looks like:

  1. Bathroom cabinet
  2. Boys closet shelf and clothing
  3. Boys toys and bedding storage
  4. Desktop/drawers and move desk out of office
  5. Office corners
  6. Office closet upper shelf
  7. Junk drawers
  8. Buffet
  9. Our bedroom closet
  10. Seed Storage
  11. Make a place for table linens
  12. Canned goods/canning and food storage supplies
  13. Find a place for Rick’s work clothes and my business supplies
  14. Kitchen glasses cupboard
  15. Bathroom linens/storage
  16. Scrapbooking table
  17. My sewing items
  18. Lower kitchen appliance cabinet

Notice that there are only 18 items on there?  See – this is me not being all crazy A.R.  😉

This week, I get to cross off the junk drawers!!  I have a confession.  There was not one, or even two junk drawers in my house.  There were actually THREE!  Now this week I wasn’t able to get all three done, but I did tackle the first two and I wanted to share them with you.

The first drawer I took care of was the easiest and the smallest.  The drawer in the buffet.  We like to keep playing cards and dice in there for quick access when guests come over.  But it sort of became a catch-all for extra coasters, batteries, phone chargers (for a phone we don’t even have any more?), and what ever random things that were on the buffet that needed to be stashed before a guest came over.

Here’s the cleaned out drawer…

Buffet Drawer - AFTER

Now it’s back to it’s purpose… cards to play games with guests, matches to light candles when guests come over, and that is pretty much it.  There are two plug covers in there because this drawer sits right under an outlet that we use to charge the batteries for the camera.  That charger is about the size of a deck of cards and does not have a cord, so I deemed it worthy to get use of the drawer too.

The second junk drawer in the house was in the desk.  The big center drawer.  This is an especially problematic area for me, because the drawer is so big and wide that I have a tendency to just clear off the desk into this drawer in a pinch, so when people come they won’t see the mess on my desk.  Are you noticing a trend here – I’m a stasher… I hide my messes instead of finding places to keep things.


To get this mess in order, I emptied the drawer.  There was a lot to recycle, and a lot that didn’t belong in there in the first place.  I put those things in their rightful homes.  After the cleaning out, there really wasn’t much left to put back in the drawer.

I added a paper file thingy, since our desk is out in the open now and we often have paperwork that needs addressing, but also kept away from the kiddos or put away until we can get to it.  There are spare pens in a ziplock and some sticky notes, and our box of checks.  That’s it.  I’d like a drawer organizer for this space, but until them, this will do.

Next week, I plan to get that third drawer done too.  In the mean time, here are my other 20 Weeks projects.  If you really like organizing or need some more inspiration, check out the Organizing Junkie.

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

20 Weeks: Nursery Done… ish.

Last week I posted pics of the before and after job I did on the basement junk room – turned guest room.  This project kinda happened along side it.  The new nursery was formerly the office and getting it in shape was pretty intertwined with the basement project.  Neither of these things were on my 20 Weeks of Organizing Challenge list.  But I did them, so here is the second part for you to see.


Since this used to be the office and you saw how that changed already, these are sort of “during” pictures.  Here you can see the three chairs that I’m selling on craigslist.  The book shelf went downstairs to the guest room.  The cedar chest under the shelf was packed and there were some blankets without homes.  You can see that Rick’s work clothes are no longer in the closet, but there is a new hanging organizer in there for the newbie and a nightstand that went downstairs too.

Here are the after pictures:


You can actually SEE the cedar chest now, blankets have been organized (some donated) and the shelf above cleaned off.  The afghan on top of the chest was made by my great-grandmother for me when I was a baby.  I kept it stored all this time, but I finally decided that, girl or boy, it’s coming out and getting used.

The closet is cleaned out and ready for some baby clothes (some are in the wash, some I need to buy yet), and a hamper.  I might (if I get ambitious) make a little curtain to hide my birth class supplies on the top shelf.  but I might not.

This corner has the crib and dresser.  I had that dresser as a little girl too, and I gave it a fresh coat of paint before H was born.  I changed out a few knobs this week, since one of the old ones was broken.  You can’t really tell in the picture, but the sheet in the crib has little lambs all over it.


I stole the idea for fabric in embroidery hoops from my friend Meg.  Her nursery is SUPER cute… perfect to go with her new super cute baby boy!  And the sheep and shepherd mobile is probably my second favorite item after the afghan.  Last is the shelf-turned changing table.  I’d like to get some picture frames put on the wall above this.

As you can see, it’s pretty simple.  I’m still missing some details, like curtains for the window, a lamp… a few little things to make it feel homey.

This week, the Organizing Junkie posted about Enough.  The bones of the space are essentially done.  I’d like to get a rug and some cute things for the shelf and the walls too.  But, the set up, cleaning and organizing is finally done.  The rest is just details.  That’s good enough for me right now.

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing, Simple Living | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Catching Up to Life!

I’ve been a bit behind this week, so here’s my attempt at catching the blog up to our lives!  The hens were not laying in the new nest box, so on Friday I reused some pieces of the old nest box and some left over plywood to modify the new box and make it bigger.  It’s now 11×17 and the hens are much happier.  We’ve been collecting eggs left and right again, which makes us all glad.  We do still suspect an egg eater – I’m pretty sure it’s one of the red heads, so we’re working out a way to figure out who is the culprit.  You may see a post about our first-ever adventure into home chicken processing soon.

Saturday  we finally planted the spuds that we ordered in the neighbor’s garden.

We’re all excited about this gardening thing this year – you know the thing where our neighbor is working together with us to grow this (in his newly made bed) and where we plan to share our crops.  He’s been getting as excited as me, and every time someone comes to our house, Rick jokes about me showing off my new vegetable bed as he motions over the fence.  😉

This is our first time with potatoes and we planted two varieties – La Ratte fingerlings and Dessire red potatoes.  There were some extras that didn’t fit into his bed, so I might try another potato growing system in our back yard as well.

We’ve been enjoying our spinach and I’m so happy about those volunteers that came up early, since we’ve been able to eat from the garden so much earlier this year.  I need to make sure to let the spinach go to seed from now on before we pull it for later crops!  Woohoo!

Sunday’s forecast last weekend was for snow, but there wasn’t any.  In fact it was pretty nice out.  Rick’s been chipping away at the tree project, hacking a limb off here, cutting a branch there.  We’re about to the point where we can no longer go at it alone and we’re going to have to bring in extra help to finish.

Our neighbor did get a chipper for us.  It wasn’t in working order, but he and Rick think they can fix it with just an inexpensive part.  It won’t do the bigger stuff, but most of the smaller branches can go through and it’ll be nice to have around to put the yard waste through before sending it to the compost bins.  And bonus, it was free!

We also visited two garden centers on Sunday.  We picked up seeds for the things we plan on direct seeding (the ones we didn’t order), got some onion sets, and I was a sucker for some savory and basil plants (three varieties!) that I plan on sneaking into our flower beds this year.

I was really tempted to pick up some tomato seedlings, but Rick convinced me to hold off a few weeks more.  I think he knows how good I am not at keeping plants alive indoors.  It’s so close to “when the danger of frost is past” planting, I can almost taste it.  We’re on our last bag of frozen tomatoes from last summer’s garden.  It can’t get here quick enough!

What have you been up to in these last few rainy April days?

On a side note, this here blog was just entered into the Circle of Moms Top 25 Eco-Friendly Mommy Blog contest.  There are only three days left to vote but you can vote everyday.  I’d love a vote from you!  CLICK HERE to vote!
Categories: Chickens, Garden, Independence Days | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

20 Weeks – Desktop Declutter

On week four of my 20 Week Organization Challenge, I have a confession to make.  I am having a really hard time sticking to one item per week.  One reason for that is because many of the items I had on my original list seem to run together.  For example, I realized that I had inadvertently done #11 on my list when I reorganized the boys closet shelf.  Now I’m going to have to think about a new area to clean up in place of that.  Not that it will be a problem… there’s plenty to do around this place!

But another example came this week when I went to clean off my desktop, which originally (and embarrassingly) looked like this:

Um, yeah.  So I started cleaning.  And I realized that to put all that stuff away, I may as well clean out the drawers and do it right.  And if I took all the drawers out, I might as well move the desk into the living room as planned.  And, well, it was a Tuesday and H was at preschool and E was asleep and Rick was out of town overnight… so I did all three.

I know this breaks the spirit of the baby steps approach and doing one item per week, but I couldn’t help myself with this one.  Here are the drawers before (except the center drawer, a.k.a. one of my junk drawers – it’s day is coming).

And the drawers after:

Do you see that there are TWO empty drawers!?!?!?  TWO, PEOPLE!  Yeah – a lot of junk was in those things.  Now there is an office supply drawer, a paper drawer, an envelope and stationary drawer, and a computer software/spare hardware drawer.  I did find something for one of the empty drawers – large envelopes and packing tape.  I still have one more empty drawer.  This went a long way in me figuring out what to do with much of my office stuff since it’ll be in the living room now. The after pics of the desktop -in the living room:

Since there was a bit of “cheating” (in a good way, right?) on this one, here’s what the updated list looks like:

  1. Bathroom cabinet
  2. Boys closet shelf and clothing
  3. Boys toys and bedding storage
  4. Desktop/drawers and move desk out of office
  5. Office corners
  6. Office closet upper shelf
  7. Junk drawers
  8. Buffet
  9. Our bedroom closet
  10. Kitchen desk area
  11. – TBA
  12. – TBA
  13. Make a place for table linens
  14. Canned goods/canning and food storage supplies
  15. Find a place for Rick’s work clothes and my business supplies
  16. Kitchen glasses cupboard
  17. Bathroom linens/storage
  18. Scrapbooking table
  19. My sewing items
  20. Lower kitchen appliance cabinet

I will come up with two more items.  And I will try to keep it to one item per week from now on.  And really, half that junk that was in the desk is now sitting on my office floor (in piles, of course) waiting to find a new home…wish me luck!

What about you?  Have you been cleaning up/cleaning out your spaces?

To see what I’ve done in the last four weeks, check out my other 20 Weeks posts!

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Cleaning Up the Toilet

Around this place we are always taking steps, some big and some small, to try to live greener.  We have an old house, build in 1925.  I’m not sure when the plumbing was redone, but our toilet seems newish – for a house built in 1925.  It’s a normal toilet, 1.6 gallons per flush (average, now days, I think), no dual flush or anything fancy.

In a small effort to conserve water we have, in the past, put a brick in the tank, but this resulted in the toilet not having enough oomph to flush when it was really needed.  We took the brick out.  Then we tried the “when it’s yellow, let it mellow, when it’s brown, flush it down” method of saving water.  But this resulted in much more toilet cleaning.  Either because we have super-pee or because of Colorado’s hard water.  But we were getting a dark ring in the toilet that way, so we’ve nearly abandoned it, except first thing in the morning and last whiz before bed, when Rick and I will both go before we flush.

Now we’re considering collecting grey water from the shower and the boys’ baths to use to flush.  Our shower-head for sure wastes a lot of water, and the bath faucet drips while the shower is going, so I think we could easily put a dish pan or bucket in the shower and collect enough water for the day’s toileting.  Then when we went, we’d just dump the water from the tub into the pot and watch it go down.  At least that water would get “used” twice. I’ve never tried this, but it seems good in theory.

Or we could, eventually, spring for a fancy dual-flush toilet.  But then we have to figure out what to do with the old one – recycle it?  And really a new toilet is not in the budget and is pretty far down on the list of things that need replacement or repairs in this place. Or they make conversion kits but I heard they don’t work well and they cost nearly as much as a new pot.

Any advice or ideas?  Have you ever tried using grey water to flush?  What do you do to conserve water in the bathroom?

Categories: Sustainability | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

20 Weeks: Boys Need Their Toys

They just need to have a home for them too! Welcome to week two of my 20 Weeks of Organizing Challenge!

I’ve always been pretty good about limiting the number of toys the boys have.  I used these baskets to keep them picked up.  At first we tried sorting the toys into specific baskets, but really, I just cared that they were contained.  Here’s the system we had going in the bottom of their closet:

It kept the toys picked up, but it still looked kind of messy. Now, we have this:

The shelf is about two feet wide, three feet high and one foot or so deep.  H picked the colors of the canvas bins.  The storage system was on sale at Target so we got the whole thing for under $70.  It’s kinda pricey for us, but all their toys, with just a very few exceptions, fit in there with a little room to spare.  The exceptions were their train set which are in the two yellow lidded boxes which stayed in the closet under the hanging clothing organizer, and the big ride-on truck which is also parked neatly in the closet.

We intend to get a second hanging clothing organizer (so there will be one each for H & E) and when we have that, I’ll show you the final “after” picture of the closet too.  The freed up baskets I plan to use for storing the bedding.  It’s actually done now – more on that next week.  Voilà!  “Boys Toys & Bedding Storage” crossed off the list.

What about you?  What did you organize this week?  Remember to link up your blog in my comments with pictures, or you can send me pictures of your space and I’ll post them here to inspire others!

To see what else I’ve organized, check out my other 20 Weeks posts!

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

My Dirty Little Secret…

I have a confession to make.  I have dirty closets.  And drawers.  And cupboards.  And a messy office.  There’s barely room for me to type here on my desk.

I used to think there were two organizational types.  A filer and a piler.  And while I am a piler (goodness knows I like to pile), the truth is, when it comes to cleaning, I’m a hider, a stasher, a put-it-all-behind-that-door-and-no-one-will-be-the-wiser organizer. This type of “organizer” is a descendant of the hoarder.  (No Mom, I’m not calling you a hoarder, but you know we have at least one in the family).  I do get rid of things.  And I do have places to put things.  But not places for everything.  Maybe it because I have a small house?  Probably not though.  I think I’d still clean this way even in a McMansion with double walk-in closets the size of my living room.

So, this I’ve known about myself for a long time, and my husband puts up with it, mostly because the house looks neat when people come over.  But last week I came across this site, thanks to former Thrifty Thursday buddy, Tracy.  52 weeks of organizing.  Hmm… cool concept.  And that particular post, “Purge Until It Fits,” hit some high notes for me.  That’s what I usually do with the boys’ toys.  And I like it.  Rick calls me the toy Nazi, but I like it anyway.  So I decided to join in, with my own little twist.  20 weeks.

Twenty weeks of organizing.  I chose 20 weeks simply because I am half way through my pregnancy, which means I have roughly 20 weeks to go before the newbie arrives.  And I know that when I’m pregnant, I’m highly motivated to clean.  I nest with the best!  And also because I have to get the office out of the office and set up somewhere (where???) else in the house because we need this room for the baby.

To the challenge!

Step one: identify and list 20 areas that need organizing/reorganizing.  Keep the projects small – don’t list “organize office,” that’s too broad.  Go with “organize junk drawer,” and “clean off printer table,” etc.

Step two: organize those areas – one per week, don’t get overwhelmed.

Step three: Document your progress and share it!  I’m going to strive for before and after photos of each of my 20 items. I’d really love it if someone else wanted to join me in this challenge.  But your moral support and the blog accountability will do too.

Bonus points: organizing your stuff using or re-purposing what you already have as opposed to buying new things to organize with.

So my list for the next 20 weeks… in no particular order:

  1. Bathroom cabinet
  2. Boys closet shelf
  3. Boys toys & bedding storage
  4. Desktop
  5. Office corners
  6. Office closet upper shelf
  7. Junk drawers
  8. Buffet
  9. Our bedroom closet
  10. Kitchen desk area
  11. Boys clothes
  12. Move desk out of office/new baby room
  13. Make a place for table linens
  14. Canned goods/canning and food storage supplies
  15. Find a place for Rick’s work clothes and my business supplies
  16. Kitchen glasses cupboard
  17. Bathroom linens
  18. Scrapbooking table
  19. My sewing items
  20. Lower kitchen appliance cabinet

Stay tuned later this week for the after photos of the bathroom cabinet, which I completed this weekend.  What about you?  What kind of organizer are you?  Do you have any cluttered areas you keep behind closed doors?

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing | Tags: , , , | 15 Comments

Saying No to GMO

So we finally got our seeds ordered this week for the garden.  I’m excited, since it means spring is around the corner.  And, because it’s the first time we’ve ordered seeds.  We usually go to the local garden center, but their selection of organic, non-GMO seeds has been pretty limited in the last few years.  And beyond organic, non-GMO is very important to us.

There has been a lot of buzz recently about GMOs.  President Obama approved Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa, Round Up Ready sugar beets and a new biotech corn for ethanol production.  This is sad and scary news for all of us. Many of my readers know about GMOs and why they would want to avoid them, but I know there are quite a few people who don’t know anything about this issue.  So I thought I’d shed some light and share my knowledge of the subject, which contributes to the reasons for many of our own food choices.

GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and companies like Monsanto have produced and patented these organisms, mainly seeds.  The seeds have been genetically modified to be able to withstand harsh herbicides like Round Up, so that fields can be sprayed with the chemicals which will then kill the weeds but not the crop.  Sounds like a plan, right.  Except they are seeds.

Let’s set aside the health effects of eating foods and food products made with these GMOs for just a minute and look at the idea of patented seeds.   Currently there are patents on certain GMO grain crops like corn, canola, and soy.  Think for a minute what that means – when these crops grow up, mother nature does to these seeds what she does to all seeds – throws them to the wind, feeds them to the birds, and mice, and squirrels.  She doesn’t know these seeds are patented.

So Farmer A is growing patented GMO corn.  And when his corn is ripe, a few birds come and pick at his corn, eating some.  And they fly a few miles away, and poop out the seeds.  Seeds that have been genetically modified, and those modification carry through the generation of seeds.  But they poop on Farmer B’s land, he doesn’t know, and he hasn’t paid for GMO seeds.

The next spring, Farmer B tills his land and plants his non-GMO crop of corn from seeds he saved for generations.  But those seeds the birds pooped out spring up too.  The company that Farmer A uses to get his corn from, knows Farmer B is down the road.  So they send out someone to take a sample of  Farmer B’s crop (without his permission) and sure enough, his crop turns up as GM positive – their genetically modified corn is growing right there, in his field.  He didn’t buy it from them – he must have stolen it.  And then they sue the pants off Farmer B and win because they own the rights to that seed – to that genetic strain- and he literally loses the farm.  Farmer A is not allowed to save seed, and Farmer B can’t steal it.  The company owns all rights to that seed and it’s future generations.

This is not far-fetched.  It’s happening today, in America.  The problem with patented seeds is that we humans can’t control everything.  Wind and birds and all of nature happens.  For more info on this check out or watch the documentary, The Future of Food.

So back to health, and how this affects you, the consumer, the eater.  Well, you can just read labels, right?  No.  Sorry.  The USDA and FDA doesn’t require that foods containing GMOs be labeled as such.  You’ve probably been eating GMOs for a long time now.  But it’s not like you sit around munching nothing but corn all day, right?  Well maybe, or maybe not.  In this case, you can check the label – corn and soy are in everything these days.  Really.

According to the USDA, in 2009, 93% of soy, 93% of cotton, and 86% of corn grown in the U.S. were GMO. It is estimated that over 90% of canola grown is GMO, and there are also commercially produced GM varieties of sugar beets, squash and Hawaiian Papaya. As a result, it is estimated that GMOs are now present in more than 80% of packaged products in the average U.S. or Canadian grocery store.*

GMOs are used to feed cattle, to make soda, in your cereal, your bread… you name it.  If it has high fructose corn syrup (and many other ingredients I can’t type or pronounce) it’s made from corn.  So a fast food meal – the burger, the coke, the fries cooked in canola oil, all corn and probably all GMO at that.

With Obama’s recent approval of alfalfa and sugar beets, two crops along with corn, that feed the majority of America’s commercially produced meat animals, we are in for more trouble.  And try keeping alfalfa seeds contained in a Kansas windstorm.  Yikes!

Ok, ok, they are hard to avoid, right.  But are GMOs safe?  Well the Non-GMO Project web site states:

In 30 other countries around the world, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, there are significant restrictions or outright bans on the production of GMOs, because they are not considered proven safe. In the U.S. on the other hand, the FDA approved commercial production of GMOs based on studies conducted by the companies who created them and profit from their sale.

A few independent studies have been done on the subject.  Generally independent studies have been blocked by Monsanto and other producers of GMOs, but what has been found leads to questions over GMO safety.  Here’s a link studying  The Effects of Diets containing GM potatoes on Rats done in 1999, as well as an article siting many more recent studies that have been done.

It is possible to avoid GMOs, but it takes some research and planning and sometimes giving up a favorite snack.  Especially helpful is the True Food Shoppers Guide (a download-able iPhone app or printable guide).

Here is an article that I found very helpful as well, concerning ways to avoid GMO foods.  “Making My Family GO GMO Free”.  One of the simplest steps is to buy organic, or direct from a local farmer, whom you can ask what he’s growing.  You can also look for labels certifying that products are GMO free.

A while back I was told that the PLU codes on produce were used to indicate organic, conventional and GMO foods, however this is not exactly true, since using the five digit codes are optional.  (see PLU Codes Don’t Indicate GMO Produce and The Myth of PLU Codes and GMO Foods).

If you grow your own garden, like us, please be aware that Monsanto recently purchased a number of seed companies, so you’ll want to know what to look for when buying the seeds you’ll use this spring.  I found this resource most helpful:

I know this post is a bit preachy for me – but it’s a subject that I’ve been very concerned about for a while, and I couldn’t think how to share this info another way.  I hope you look further into this subject and take action (write a letter or sign a petition to help ban GMOs in America).

For more ways to take action go to:  and
Also check out

Categories: Community, Food, Garden, Recommended Reading, Sustainability, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

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