Sunday, June 8, 2014

Star Wars Festival

Joliet, IL, the gathering place for Star Wars geeks like our family. This town has seen some highs and lows, but it has always maintained its pride, and wonderful architecture. Here is the library, which was the starting point for the town's annual Star Wars Festival.

There were indoor games. 

 And parades.

And wampa footprints. 

And a lot of getting up close and personal with the characters!

Something for everyone, of any age. 

And of course, we end with crying kids who don't ever want to leave!

(The Force is strong with this family.)


Or foyer, if you're fancy like that.

This is what we started out with. Yes, this is the first thing guests saw upon entering our home. OK, OK, I'd pick up a bit beforehand, but having to battle this mess each day was weighing on me. Keeping our keys and sunglasses on that tray where Homegirl could reach everything was also not doing our family any favors.

I wasn't sure what to do about the situation, but I had an idea. I knew I needed a dresser, but I couldn't find something modern that fit the space and was functional. Then I stumbled upon this dresser. . .

I'd been eyeing it for some time, and then those magical words arrived: SALE

If you know anything about Mormon temples, you'll understand why I attribute my interest in this piece to my time spent there. This dresser is very traditional, even formal with that burled wood. Surely it had no place in my modern home, right? Well, here's the thing. Lately I've been noticing that I like an eclectic look. I'm starting to feel that when everything is styled from a certain time period it becomes gimmicky. So I told myself to branch out, try mixing things up for once.

I'm really glad I did, because here's the beautiful after:

Not too shabby, right? At the very least it's a major improvement from what we had going on before. The next steps, besides getting some flowers for that vase, are to carpet over those brown tiles and find a chair to go either side of the dresser. I'm thinking wood, black, simple lines. Now that I've freed myself from a few design restrictions I feel liberated, but also a bit scared. It was safe to go with one thing. What if I go into these uncharted waters and choose the wrong chair? You know I don't like to waste money, and since I buy stuff on sale, often times it's non-refundable. I definitely won't be rushing into any decisions here.

As for the shoes, this genius right here realized she needed to get a shoe rack and stick that in the entry closet. Voila. Funny how taking pictures of problem areas really forces you to look for solutions, many of them obvious.

Hooray for design blogging!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Do or Die List

I don't mean that as a threat. I'm about to outline the things that, if not taken care of, will cause great sorrow and gnashing of teeth.

  • Laundry
    Why: Stinky clothes piling up everywhere. And when you do decide to tackle it, the result is overwhelming: Mounds of clothes that need to be folded and hung in their proper place.
    Solution: Do a load each day. Period. End of story.
  • Bedrooms
    Why: A messy room is a harbinger of disorganization for the rest of the home. It's much more peaceful to sleep somewhere that's put together.
    Solution: Change into PJs as soon as possible! If you're tired, you'll toss your clothes on the ground and that's how it starts. Ask the kids to put things away before bedtime. If there are sets of things with multiple pieces, put them in single containers on a high shelf and do not bring it down until everything else is off the floor. --That my friends, is my greatest tip.
  • Shoe storage
    Why: More than just being an eyesore when scores are scattered about, when you can't find a shoe mate and you have to be somewhere at a certain time is maddening.
    Solution: Purchased a shoe rack for the entry closet. Put shoes there. Done.
  • Pills
    Why: I hate taking my medicine. If I have to sort through bottles and boxes to get to it, I just won't do it. (Even though it's important for my health.)
    Solution: Keep it organized with bins and labels. 
  • Messy cars
    Why: This is something that spins out of control very quickly. Half of the time when I can't find something, it's because it got sucked into the void of our mini-van.
    Solution: Keep at least THREE bags in the car. One for regular trash, the other for gooey stuff (like banana peels), the third for things that need to be brought inside. (In an ideal world, we wouldn't eat in the car(s), but that's just not happening.)
  • Receipts
    Why: Receipts have this magical power to always be there when you don't want them, and NEVER there when you absolutely need them.
    Solution: I made a receipt dossier for each car and organized them by the store from which they came. I think this will work.  
  • House Projects
    Why: Keeping track of all the things that need to get done and the order in which they are to take place is too much for my mommy brain.
    Solution: Making a list, reviewing it with the hubby, and tackling it in a piecemeal way is better for our sanity. 
  • Menus
    Why: Because we have to eat three times a day and if an ingredient is missing we don't eat well. Plus, hunger makes for a cranky family.
    Solution: Write a weekly menu, make an ingredient list, and shop for groceries routinely.
  • Commitments
    Why: As if raising kids weren't enough, we sign up for other things or have some assigned deadlines to meet. Not being able to keep promises or make good on commitments feels awful.
    Solution: At least once a week (ideally twice or more) have a family business meeting with the calendars at hand. When something comes up, write it on the calendar immediately, and make a note to self (on the phone, or in a personal notepad).
  • Paperwork
    Why: It's a beast. We get mail daily, bring home stuff from work and church, and sometimes this stuff just appears.
    Solution: Sort the mail immediately. Shred and toss often. Go through it at aforementioned family business meetings. This has to become second nature or all is lost. 
  • Mornings
    Why: Get up late without a plan and NOTHING gets done.
    Solution: Get up earlier and keep to a routine.
  • Sundays
    Why: This is supposed to be a day of rest from the cares of the world. A time to focus on heavenly things. Without some pre-planning, it can instead be hellish.
    Solution: Crock-pot those Sunday meals. Get as much stuff done BEFORE the weekend.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hot Mess: Basement

 Holy stromboli. It's getting hot (mess) in here.

So many different types of tile down in the basement. All from the late 60s. Do we pull it all up in anticipation of going with poured concrete, or do we hold on to hope that we can get our hands on some good looking tile to cover it up?

Nevoa Alba

I found a really good potential cork source at and I'm crossing my fingers that they sell to the public at an affordable price. If I can make cork happen, I will. It's a natural finish (I really don't like faux-finish, sorry) and it's soft and warm like wood without having to worry about water damage (I think). Plus, it's sustainable!

At the end of the day, I find comfort in knowing that ANYTHING we do in here will be an improvement. 

Hot Mess: Kids' Rooms

The kids' room aren't terrible in terms of being eyesores, but they could be more functional and less cluttered, for sure. 

This is Leepo's room. See how his trundle bed pulls out to butt into a side table? I hope to move a lot of his toys downstairs into the basement, which will allow me to move his lounging area right next to those windows.Where his chair and lamp are now I will later stack a couple of Paloozas (which we got for super cheap at the Land of Nod outlet) after painting them in a complementary color. The Paloozas will take the place of a bedside table.

Can you tell we really like the Land of Nod*? IKEA, too? This here is the girl's room. She doesn't sleep here yet and we actually have a guest "bed" (it's just a mattress) sitting on the floor in place of her future twin bed. The plan is to move the mattress downstairs into the new guest room and do all sorts of rearranging in here! The bookcase is going to go into the room currently being used as a nursery. (See below.) The chalkboard, activity table, and chairs are slotted for a kids' area in the basement.  I would love, love, love to get my hands on a Jenny Lind bed for her. -I keep scouring Craigslist for a good deal. Already got the sheet sets here. Finally, I have plans to refinish a beautiful cabinet I scored at a resale store many moons ago. You can spot it below, as well. 

OK, you see this closet in the nursery? I'm going to remove the doors, stick the aforementioned bookcase in here, and insert some sort of seating to the side of it to create a reading nook like the one below. 

Thrifty Decor Chick

Excuse the horrendous red blinds for a moment.  Something is out of proportion with this chest o' drawers being positioned here.

Won't it look better in this corner with better lighting? I think so. And once Girly moves on to her big pink room, its drawers will be used for books and supplies. Yep, the plan is to convert the nursery room into a study.

This is our two-care garage acting like a single-car garage. Up front you'll find the storage Paloozas that need a new paint job. Behind the large brass etagere is the cabinet that needs to be refinished and ultimately go into the pink room. With the weather being nice and cooperative, and my OCD tendencies  being pushed to the limits, I know these things need to get taken care of much sooner than later.

*We are frequent flyers at their outlet store. It makes me so happy to be in Chicagoland.

Hot Mess: Mudroom

The insanity had to stop. We finished* up with some big remodeling projects in the basement, but there are monumental organization tasks to be addressed upstairs. They've been neglected, and now I can't take it anymore. Let's do this.

Starting with the mudroom:

This storage unit is going to stay. It's on the other side of the wall from the fridge, so it makes more sense to turn it into a pantry space. The shelves are adjustable, which is great. 

This has been the corner that has served as a pantry since we moved in. It's not functional. Small items tilt between the spaces of the grid pattern, the coated surface allows items to shift around like carry-on items on a plane. To the left of this area is a closet (there's no picture because, well, just envision a closet and you got the idea). I hope to turn that closet into a bench seating area like this where the kids can don/doff their outwear and,with that in mind, coats, gloves, hats, etc. can go to the right of it. 

You've heard of a junk drawer, right? This is our junk corner. In a game of musical chairs, the cleaning supplies that are being moved out of our current pantry will go here. I'd love to find something that works like a shower caddy to hold various bottles and jars all organized by their function. Any leads out there?

I hope to head out to IKEA tomorrow where I will pick up a few of these Kassett boxes. My plan is to use them to sort our outdoor accessories. With any luck I'll find containers for the cleaning supplies there, as well. By having everything in its own container, it'll be easier to put things back after the even bigger task of painting the walls. I'm pretty much certain I'm going to ditch the wallpaper and stencil them instead. We'll see. . .

*When I say finished, I mean the dust is no longer flying. There's still much to do in terms of completing the basement. Alas.

Master House List

Master Bedroom
New bedside lighting
Lengthen curtains
Hang art

Kid Bath
Seal accent tile
Hang new shelving
Buy trash bin
Swap hardware

Dining Room
New lights installed <--In cool weather
Place étagère in corner
Buy large chalkboard

Living Room
Farm & Fleet troughs for plants
Paint walls and window frames
Hang art (foyer, too)
Buy ladder for throws
Coffee table?
Install curtains and rods
Paint window frames black?

Prime all the walls! <--ASAP
Pick flooring, including carpeting stairs <--So much hinges on this!
Spray paint doors
Paint before laying down floors
Pick countertops
Buy rugs

Guest Room (Bsmt)
As above
Build bed
Hang art

Bathroom (Bsmt)
Swap out mirror
Paint and stencil walls
Ardex concrete counter tops
Paint cabinet, new hardware
Loose-lay tile
New toilet
Install picture wall
Buy rug

Get organized in the mudroom <--Now for our own sanity
Put in new lighting
Contract seating area <--Prior to the start of kindergarten
Install new utility sink
Paint and stencil all the walls
Drill shelves for laundry detergent and ironing board
Swap out the floors
Install butler door with porthole
Buy a runner

Kids’ Rooms
Move select toys to the basement
Paint Paloozas and move to side of boy’s bed
Refinish girl’s cabinet with new hardware <--^Need to be done before winter
Buy girly bed and comforter
Create reading nook in nursery
Swap baby stuff for study materials
Buy kids’ desk

Powder room
Paint cabinet?
Loose-lay tile

Outside (Summer specific)
Repair gutters <-- Now
Weed out, plant small species
New outdoor lighting
Concrete pavers
Paint front door, new hardware
Spray paint window wells

Insulate attic <--Before winter

Finish lighting and accessories in master bath
New blinds and window treatments throughout the house
Swap out kitchen floors, install swinging faucet and stove-side sink
Resurface Eco fireplace
Refinish brick exterior
Plant new trees
Update 3-season room
Upgrade bookcase in living room
New windows with black frames
Organize and update the garage
Make the office come together, touch-up bookcase
Sort through storage and make sense of it all