Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free Music!

Searching for music for our wedding, I found that sometimes, Amazon does free music downloads, I was like WTH? nothing in life is free. I thought I aughta give this a try though, this wedding is costing a pretty penny. So I clicked on the song that said FREE where the price goes and downloaded it. No problem, no charges or anything! I went on to get a bunch more.

At the time, I thought, "wow, I need to share this, eventually when the wedding is behind us, not less than 2 days ahead of us" (yes I waited until the last minute to do music)

Sitting here, a few weeks later, reading The Thrifty Home, I remember about Amazon's free wedding music and decided to search for Christmas music. (in the past I bought Christmas CDs for dirt cheap at thrift stores garage sales and the Dollar Tree. I'm sure I have plenty, but heck they're free.

Here is what Amazon will look like if you go to the MP3 downloads section and search "Christmas"
Then click "sort by" and then price: Low to High

as of now, there are 53 free Christmas song downloads, several will be available soon.

I was thinking, "is it worth the time to go through and download each song?" YES especially because some of them are on full albums that are free, reducing the amount of time and clicking to get the songs. Ahh. Easy, Free, Untimeconsuming, and Christmassy. 4 of my favorite adjectives!

I think I might just make a copy of this one for my neices and nephews. As a Thanksgiving gift, since I dont like giving Christmassy gifts on Christmas. Although I know they would enjoy it year round!
im linking to:
Its a Blog Party's Home for the Holidays
eta: i wrote this back in october, but since people are actually thinking about christmas now, i thought i would bump it up to the top!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

bathroom cabinet redo

I haven't forgotten about my Craft Room Overhaul, I just don't want to spend all of my cleaning/organizing time in my space when other, smaller jobs, that my husband will enjoy being cleaned up, need done also.

Last night, I cleaned and organized my bedroom, and I will share those results later, but hubby is sleeping and probably wouldn't appreciate the camera flash all over the room.

Tonight, I tackled the bathroom cabinets. I had done some organizing about a month ago, and we only moved in 3 months ago, so this isn't really that bad.
As always, lets begin with some BEFORES:
Top shelf:

not pictured is another 1/3rd of this cabinet, the middle, towel shelf. its really not bad, the towels are stacked and rolled and pretty boring.

The bottom shelf:

I failed to take "during" pictures, well because, I was sitting on the floor, and well, my camera was not.

I pulled everything out and using existing boxes, I sorted everything. I had organized before so
things were mostly sorted, just had a few "misc" boxes.

I had a lot of misc boxes because when I clean elsewhere in the house, I usually fill a box of "bathroom" stuff and it gets put in the cabinet. Also, when i have company, everything from the counter gets put in a bin or box or basket and put in the cabinet.

Also, as you see on the top shelf, I had a 3 drawer shelf thingy that was completely empty and has been empty for 3 months, since we moved in. I thought it was awfully wastefull to have a great organization tool just sitting, empty, taking up space. Also, i tend to use the same hair clips/scrunchies all the time because, well my hair stuff was in several places, one was that tall silver star basket, the other was a labeled box at the bottom of the cabinet. I decided to try putting all my hair stuff in the 3 drawer unit.

Top drawer has the "chompers" and headbands. Middle holds scrunchies, pony holders and in a bin in the middle, bobby pins and bendy clips. Bottom drawer holds hair brushes, curling iron, combs. The brushes my hubby and I use are actually out on the counter not in here, the blue brush is my travel brush, the silver one in the middle is my sisters(she left it here), I thought the other 2 were my hubby's until i asked him not his, weird... Ive since got rid of them.

UPDATE: my Brother has since also left his hairbrush at our house, whats up with my siblings? its now in the drawer next to Sister's.

Also, as I was sorting the pony holders, any that were stretched out or too weak were tossed out. Bent out of shape bobby pins were also tossed. The cord of the curling iron is banded to itself with pony holders.

Some of my hair stuff was in one of my stacking Rubbermaid take-along containers, (circled)

Now that one was empty, I decided to do some re-arranging. I also wanted a box for travel size items, so when I pack, I don't have to go through all the different sorted boxes to get the travel size containers from each. Most of the items in the "shower" container were travel sized, so this emptied that container.

Sidenote: I used to have a surplus of shower gels and bath beads and bar soaps,
toothpaste, deodorant etc from gift baskets and sales when I stocked up, I have been slowly, NOT buying any, until I use it all up, as a way of decluttering, and saving money.

So all travel sized items in the bathroom, went into a box.
(review bottom shelf "before" pic) The "face" (extra chap stick, less often used make-up, etc) and "teeth" (extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, teeth whiteneing trays) items moved out of their mismatched unstacking boxes into the freed-up matching containers. (one was repurposed as my "chomper" holder inside the drawer)

I also tossed out any expired medicine and vitamins, sorted the medicine into "rx meds" "over the counter meds" and "cough drops". I cleaned up the 2 first aid boxes (one that is easy to grab and go, the other is surplus of the first one, that stays in the house) they had bunches of band aid wrappers in them. (remember the stitches I mentioned in my under sink redo?)

All of the sorted containers were put back in the cabinet (they were already labeled from before, I do need to make more labels for the new ones though)On the bottom shelf are the following bins: NAILS, MEDS (rx) FIRST AID, FACE, TEETH, SHAVE, LOTIONS/DEODORANT, MEDS (otc), COUGH DROPS/BULK NYQUIL(we had a bunch and hubby got more at Costco) The silver star basket is staying in the cabinet, even though it is empty, because inevitably, there will be bathroom clutter that needs hidden away at some point, its a great place for it, unless I steal it for another area of the home. I also think it would look cool with Christmas ornaments inside to dress up the back of the toilet...

Since I wont be needing the TRAVEL box, or the big Costco size box of Tampax, anytime soon, I moved it, a box holding a surplus pantyliners, Vagisil, and OB tampons, and a Costco size box of face moist towelettes refills, to the back of the cabinet, behind the HAIR drawers, for now. The cabinets are so deep, Its necessary to bury some items, and the lesser used items fit well back there.

(this shelf also traded places with the towel shelf, so towels are alone in the top cabinet, everything else is in the bottom cabinet, it makes more sense this way)

On top of the boxes in the back, is my make up basket, I rarely wear make up, when I do, I pull the basket out to the counter and use it there. The basket got cleaned out, never worn make up, older versions of duplicate items, eyeliner pencil shavings, etc all got tossed.

The tray on top the HAIR drawers holds a tray of bunch of perfumes, they don't store well laying down in the stacking containers, and I do use different scents on different days, so this is a pretty/practical way to store them.

On the right of the HAIR drawers are extra shampoo, dog shampoo, and extra bar soap (since I don't have a "shower" box anymore) I have converted my husband over from bar soap to shower gel, when this bar is gone, we will just have a bottle in the shower hangy thing.

Speaking of which, it got hung (i know, it only took 3 months) I had intended on getting some "bath" Command Hooks (printable coupons on their website), but hadn't yet. Cleaning out my junk drawer, I found one! YAY! so up it went! Its about time too, because my worrier husband would come running to the bathroom whenever I would bump the big bottles of shampoo off the corner ledges sending them crashing down, (sounding too much like a pregnant klutz falling for his comfort).

more Command Hook Love: our loofahs used to hang off of the shampoo and conditioner pump spouts (adding to their fall-ability), until one day I got command hook happy.

The problem with our bathroom, is, no drawers, none. looks like we have some, nope, those aren't real.

(oh by the way, you will eventually get a peek in those cabinets, its cleaning supplies and TP, not ready for their blog debut yet) ETA check it out here

The counter usually holds items that we don't want to constantly open the cabinet for, and therefore gets cluttered up easily. Leading to the "declutter-for-company-by-tossing-it-all-in-a-basket-in-the-cabinet-to-be-hidden" problem. Or we have to reach into the cabinet for stuff all the time.

I wanted to be able to put out everyday items in an attractive way, so I didn't feel like i had to clear off the counter for presentation. This will also save steps to the cabinet for a Q-tip or something.

I always love the look of NO lables(for obvious items) or packaging.

I grabbed some inspiration from Jess from Our Life in His Grace, who upcycled some mason-esque jars with spray painted lids in her pantry: So clean and uncluttered looking! love this look!
Not realising it, I got (what looks to be) the same jar set from Bed Bath and Beyond. I had a gift card, a 20% off coupon and a $5 off coupon so they ended up costing $11 (gift card money) for a set of 4 (down from $19.99) I ended up only using 3 of them. I like the look of odd numbered items better anyway. I'm sure I will find something to do with the last one. Inside are Q-Tips, cotton rounds, and flossers. Much prettier than the packages sitting out on the counter!

Because counter items are inevitable with no drawers (and well, even with them, my old place had drawers that weren't really used often) I grabbed a little basket to put hair brushes and the air freshener in.

Moving above the sink, lets take a look into the medicine (although it doesn't hold medicine) cabinet behind the mirror.

I tried to only let items used daily stay in here, everything else moved into the sorted containers in the the cabinet.
Inside, organized left to right: are lotion, hubby's shave cream, deodorants, face washing items, teeth cleaning items. On the bottom shelf is a pretty awesome re-purpose.

I love Glade Scented Oil Candles, but, my husband is very sensitive to all smells, so I cant burn scented candles often, I had this great heavy glass holder that comes with the candles (they sit in the middle, via magnet, and burn beautifully into a pool of scented oil)

I flipped the candle holder over and ta-da! a little bowl for small items!
This was actually in my cabinet before I organized, and was in the "doesn't belong in the bathroom" box but it's perfect to hold nail clippers, nailbrush and tweezers, in the medicine cabinet.
Things from the pictures I haven't mentioned yet:

Fire extinguisher: was moved to under the sink, a more readily accessible area, and not in the way of more commonly used items.
Dog Shampoo: We don't actually have a dog full time, but we live on hubby's parents' property so we dog-sit often, our shower has a sprayer wand, and its easier for us to give her baths than his parents.

The towel bar: has yet to be installed, 3 months after we moved in, we have a "robe" hook, and a double shower curtain rod that hold our towels, so this might not ever be installed. I will be thinking that over in the next few days.

Hubby's Magazines: I know it seems silly to keep magazines in the bathroom, but if my hubby didn't have a place to put them in there, they would accumulate on the counter anyway, like they did in our old bathroom. This solution has been working since I renewed his weekly subscription last month.

Box of Air Fresheners in Swiffer box: Those were moved to the cabinet under the sink, with cleaning supplies. I need to get rid of them since hubby is sensitive to smell but there should be more under there, I will tackle that cabinet another day.

Orange soap pumps between the stacks on the bottom shelf: Mary Kay, Satin Hands, I love them, but I don't tend to need to use them often enough to keep them out, the caddy is actually from another gift I had gotten, I pull it out to use it once in a while, then it fits perfect between the stacks.

Little blue treasure chest in the bottom shelf: Actually, this is empty, not sure what i am going to do with it yet.

OK, the moment you have all been waiting (a long time, this post is crazy long!) for:

AHHH so pretty!

April, from Home Hinges, did an amazing job on her bathroom, check it out!

Mindy at This Little Light Of Mine made some adorable labels for her bathroom organization:

Friday, November 26, 2010

sticker storage!

During my Craft Room Overhaul, I started unpacking and organizing my papercrafting supplies. I had organized them all before, but after loaning a box full of supplies to my aunt, taking supplies to my aunts home to do a scrapbook with extended family for my late uncle, and using some supplies from storage totes, (nothing ever got put away) things werent looking very pretty. All my scrapbook supplies were mixed up. Yesterday I sorted everything, today I organized the stickers.

When I started papercrafting a few years ago, I thought this would be perfect: its a Clip-It-Up Kinda spendy at $65... I do remember seeing tuturials online to make them though...

This idea from Club CK would have been a good DIY option:

look close, its a paper towel holder, page protectors with cardstock, and binder ring clips.

ETA: Check out "Martha Stacey"s Sticker storage idea too:
I had wanted to try to find a solution using stuff I already owned, I didnt feel like gathering supplies and my new hobbie was already costing me a few pretty pennies.
When I was working on my first scrapbook, I organized pictures, paper and stickers by using the album the finished pages would go into. This gave me an idea!

Having been out of college just a few years, I had a surplus of 2 things: 3 ring binders and page protectors. Seems like every class had a "notebook/binder" assignment. Many students would put their graded binders in a free bin in the student room. I took bunches home, pulled all the school work out of the page protectors and saved them for my own future assignments. I had more than enough, and still have all my finished graded binders, in storage.

After a few years of paper crafting, I have quite the sticker collection.
This isnt all of it, just some of the stickers that werent in binders from before.

Since my binders were already labled, I laid them out to use for sorting piles.
I have a binder for "words" "letters" "items" "seasonal" and after realizing how much baby girl stuff I had (intentions of making baby books for 2 neices last summer didnt happen) that has its own binder now too.

After all the stickers were sorted, I started filling the binders.

The "Items" binder has all the stickers organized by theme. There are pages for: animals, automobiles, birthday, food, play, beach, Vegas, school, work, and sports to name a few. Also scraps of paper that fit into these categories also went into the page protectors also, like the football paper did.
For all those stickers that had been seperated from their packaging, and cut apart on the backing (for trial placement) or were just in small packages, were all stapled onto a sheet of white printer paper to go into the page protector so that they dont just puddle at the bottom of the page/slide out it tipped.

Another option to solve the tiny individual stickers problem, use trading card page protectors. Stickers can be slid into the slots. I got like 10 sheets of these at a thrift store for $0.49 there are a few in each binder, for misc stickers.
After all the "item" stickers were organized, I moved onto "Letters" organized by color

Next, came the "seasonal" binder.

SIDENOTE: One way I found to help keep my home organized is that ANYTHING specific to one holiday/season or another is seperate from the rest of the stuff and stored until the time of year theyre used. I have a nice collection of pumpkin bowls/platters that I use for decor/serving thankgiving food. They are in a box in the attic until I bring out my fall decor. They dont take up precious space in my cabinets with my other dishes. I even keep past issues of magazines in the seasonal boxes so that when i pull my decor out for that season, I can re-read those magazines, rather than them taking up space on a shelf 11 other months out of the year

The seasonal scrapbook supplies dont go in the attic, since I do use them throughout the year, but they are seperate so i dont have to search past stickers of pumpkins and Santa while looking for footballs and hula dancers.

The "seasonal binder is organized chronologically, Happy New Year at the front, Thankgiving at the end (Christmas scrapbooking has its entire own tote, with paper, stamps etc)

There are lots of great sticker storage options out there, I like this solution because the binders can be placed on a bookcase, passed from scrapper to scrapper when working together, and I can easily flip through the books looking for stickers for whatever Im crafting at the time.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Craft Room Overhaul Continues!

I'm sure all 5 of my followers are dying to know how my Craft Room Overhaul is going, no? oh well its getting better. Here are some updates...

After wanting to make a quick Thanksgiving card to go with my pumpkin cheesecakes for the nurses at the hospital, I decided unpacking and organizing all my papercrafting stuff needed to be next on the to-do list.
This is what it looked like after rummaging through boxes for the card supplies:
Remember that nicely cleaned off changing table?
Well in the last couple weeks, it became a landing spot for items that belong elsewhere when I was cleaning up before. Christmas items, Attic-bound items, and misc items that didnt belong in here.
Everything found its way home and it more resembeled the cleared off picture.
Until I used it for sorting as I unpacked the clear totes. I have bins for: Felt, Misc, Chipboard, Stamps&ink, Brads/embellies, Stickers, More stickers, Iron-0ns, Paint/glitter. and a pile for upcoming projects. Also, not pictured, i have boxes labeled: Cut, Glue, Ribbon, Keepsakes. and a box for blank cards.
Scrapbooking totes stack all gone!
most of the boxes had stacks of paper, for packing purposes, they were not all corralled so as I upacked the boxes, I filled up my new paper rack. It will not stay like this, must be more organized eventually, and i have a tote full of more various papers, so this is just a during picture:
Ok, so this post is just proof that I havent forgotten about this little project of mine while I was working on my other organizing endevors, like the Junk Drawer Clean-Up and Under Sink Re-Do
Next, I will be organizing the scrapbooking stickers!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Polka Dot Poultry

I cannot remember where I got the idea, probably Food Network, but for the last few years I have been making my turkey this way and, not to toot my own horn, its the best turkey I've ever had.

This is a great way to prep some ahead of time, 2+ days before Turkey Day, even longer if you'd like. Prevents having to prep/chop herbs day of.

Roasted Turkey with Herb Medallions

Make The Herb Butter:

Chop fresh herbs, normally thyme, rosemary and sage but I will be omitting the sage this year (MIL is allergic). More or less depending on how much butter.

Mix into 1-3 cubes softened, but not melted butter(or margarine, margarine slices better), add smashed garlic if you like, (I can't this year, allergic aunt). More or less if your bird is bigger or smaller and if you will be using some for stuffing or not.

Place the butter/herb mixture into a quart or gallon size freezer Ziploc. (The log shown below was a gallon size.)

Squish the butter to the bottom of the bag to form a log.

Refrigerate for at least a day so the flavor can really mature. (if you must, its ok to skip this step)

Freeze the log at least the night before Turkey Day, sooner if preferred, I've done it a week ahead of time before.

Prep Bird:
Thaw, (ideally you would have done this plenty ahead of time) make kid sister remove extra parts from cavity, (not that its hard, its just fun to watch her face!) rinse/dry off.
Gently slide your hand, your kid sisters hand, or both, between the skin and the meat all over the top and sides of your gobbler. Try not to tear the skin, you don't want any moisture escape paths.
Polka Dot Your Poultry:
Remove the frozen butter log from the Ziploc (cut the bag away if needed) and cut into slices, about 1/4 to a 1/3 of an inch thick, creating disks or medallions. Using real butter, its harder to slice thin, I have used both margarine and butter, and both taste very good.
Slide the medallions between the skin and meat, polka-dotting the bird. Save a few medallions for the inside and, if preferred, for sauteing veggies for your stuffing/dressing.
(you can see the medallions poking up through the skin in this picture)

In the cavity, place 1 small/medium onion (if no one is allergic), quartered, a few celery stalks and carrots, cut to fit. and a few more medallions.
We also like to add 2 fresh satsuma mandarin oranges, halved.

Cook Your Polka Dotted Poultry:

Roast in the oven according to standard turkey cooking guidelines for weight. I have had great success using Reynold's Oven Bags (their website offers great turkey cooking tips and information,) and an extra large disposable foil roasting pan. no basting necessary. Follow the directions to prep the bag on the package.
its not necessary to have a pajama party the night before Thanksgiving, but it does help to have little sisters to do the heavy lifting for you. Prep the oven bag per instructions, and insert prepped bird.

If you prefer, you can cook however you like, tenting with foil to prevent too much skin browning, basting with drippings, whatever works for you.

Be sure to allow 15-20 mins rest after removing from oven before carving, so the juices don't run out.

The Turkey will come out polka-dotted with herb circles, looks fun. the skin gets crisp and its almost impossible to keep helping aunts away from picking at it. (I'm sure this is why they offer to help)

and I failed at remembering to take a picture of the finished bird. oh well. it was delicious! (even without the garlic, sage, or onions.

Btw, this bird yeilded over 6 cups of super delicions drippings for gravy making! No need to add any fat to make gravy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Under Sink Re-Do

OK, so this doesnt really qualify as a "re-do" because I never really set up the under sink cabinet, I just put stuff under there when we moved in, and occasionally since. It wasnt serving the purposes I wanted it to serve. This was on my "to-do/to-blog" list but I was inspired to finally do it, by my blog crush Jen at Iheart Organizing and her Solution to over reliance on wastefull paper towels. (check her out, youll heart her!)

Ok, I know this isnt as bad as it could be, (its WAAYYY better than my old apartment was) but I didnt want it to get bad. And i was tired of not having anywhere for my dirty dish towels, and I would precariousely balance my drying rack inside when it wasnt used. I also wanted to steal Jen's idea with the paper towels, and also store my disinfecting wipes there too, so I wont use them more than needed.

Many items in here belonged in here, but I really dont think the boxes of extra plumbing supplies need to be there (they've been there since before we moved in.) they moved to the attic with the rest of the loft construction "spare parts".

The stack of wire shelves were left over from my old apartment, our cupboards didn't have adjustable shelves, and the extra shelves were a great solution for dishes, canned goods etc. I just didnt need as many in our loft... I will likely find other uses for them (like I already did in my cleaning supply cupboard), in the meantime, they can sit at the back of the cabinet.

After cutting my hand up pretty bad washing a drinking glass (it busted around my hand)

~ 8 stitches, eek!, I promised my husband I would use bottle/cup brushes for our glasses from now on. I had one, I just didnt ever feel like getting it out and switching from sponge to brush for the 2 glasses in the sink, This solution gave the new brush, and the old one, (I now use for icky-er dishes) an easy access home that also allows them to dry after use. I'm a big fan of Command Hooks! (there are printable coupons on their website)
While I was sitting on the floor, I decided to refill my dish soap pumps. (I'm 6 months pregnant, who knows when I can get down to the floor/then back up again?) I love having dish soap in a pump built into my sink (its where the sprayer hose is on other sinks)

If you do not use your sprayer hose, you can get a kit at Home Depot to convert the sprayer hole into a soap pump.

The dispenser bottle is kind of a pain to reach past the plumbing underneith though. It was still 1/3 FULL after 3 months, so its not a big deal to refill once in awhile, its worth NOT having another soap bottle on the sink, or having to get it out from under the sink. The refill bottle is also cheaper, and now has a home at the back of the cabinet. I really love Dawn Direct Foam. It uses lots less water than traditional dish soap, and cuts grease better, its perfect for hand washing a few dishes. I use the regular soap for a sink full of dishes, but the dawn is used for a few items at a time. Their website describes it's wonderfullness better than I do.

Nothing in this Re-Do is mind boggling, just a simple solution that was over due.


On the left is a shower hanger organizer thing leftover from my old apartment, It fits nicely in here to house extra sponges, scrubbers etc.

The new towel hamper is actually the bucket I use for mopping floors (very rarely, I use a swiffer mop usually), with things shifted around, it can sit under the sink for towels, EXACTLY why I wanted to do this Re-Do. At mopping time, I will just empty the laundry into the bathroom hamper.

The AFTER picture does look a bit more cluttered than the before, but the area is serving more purposes (decluttering more visable areas elsewhere), and everything has a home now.

Also after wearing a rubber glove over my stitched up hand, I got used to it (never really did before) I fully intend on stealing another one of Jen's great ideas: (she hearts command hooks also!) I just need to pick me up some of those clips for the other cabinet door...

COST of Project: $FREE so far... everything I had on hand.

you can get a 3 pack of the The command hooks for about $3 at Walmart though

I found the command clips online for $5.99 each, hopefully I can find a better deal than that...

I am also super impressed with Jill's under sink organization that only took her 30 minutes to fix this problem:

{Edited to add: }

Thanks a lot Command Hooks Facebook page for linking up to my blog! Your products really make organizing sooo much easier!