Bathroom Built-Ins

Remember these?

Bathroom Final Built Ins

The awesome (if difficult to photograph) built-in cabinet & shelves in the new bathroom. The whole unit is only 12 inches wide (which means the shelves are only 9 inches wide), but it goes all the way to the 9 foot ceiling. And all the way back too (well, 26 inches from the door to the wall…its a very narrow bathroom). I have three shelves that are about 12″ high, and then the top shelf is about 24″, and then the cabinet encloses two more 12+” shelves.

This weekend (while in the midst of another project I can’t wait to share) I took everything out of the bathroom cabinets and reorganized. Here’s what ended up in that built-in:

Bathroom built in contents

That’s a lot of stuff. The cabinet holds extra towels, my bathrobe (out of season), with two sets of sheets on the top shelf with a basket of pillowcases and wash cloths in front of it. The three regular shelves hold:

  • Extra shampoo, conditioner and other toiletries in bottles (held in a basket, with a vase in front of it)
  • A cleaning caddy (covered by the canvas we made along with the birthday art)
  • A long open basket with small toiletries (floss picks, toothpaste, soap)

And the top one has toilet paper. I blame my father. He talked me into it when he took my sister and I to Costco.

That’s in addition to all the other storage:

Bathroom FInal Vanity From Above

The vanity cabinet with large open shelf below it (extra towels, first aid, some cleaning supplies, things I need when I inevitably break my ankle again)

Bathroom Final Shelves

The open shelves above the toilet, home to chargers on the bottom shelf, hand towels and a basket of toilet paper on the middle shelf, and hair products I don’t use on the top shelf [Fact: I can’t blow dry my own hair. This may be because I’ve never tried.]

Bathroom Final Bonus Cabinet

The high-up cabinet above those shelves–most people don’t even notice it, but its got beach towels and my old set of towels in it right now.

I’m totally amazed at all the storage I managed to build in to such a small room. It freed up a ton of space in the hall (only) closet, and it doesn’t look crowded at all. I still miss having a real linen closet, but this is not bad at all.

Do you have a linen closet? Where do you store all your bathroom stuff?

Earth Month: Recycle That!




Do you recycle at home? I grew up doing it, so the habit has stuck and it would never even occur to me to toss paper in the trash. Recycling can be a tough habit to develop though, especially if you aren’t used to it.

If you’re just getting started:

  • Grab a bin and put it near where you look through mail or read the paper. Throw paper recycling in there when you are done.
  • Put a small extra garbage can (with bag) under the sink. You can drop cans and bottles in there easily.
  • I like having them separate because it gets sloppy and messy looking if you mix flat and round things.

Recycling old news?

Expand your recycling horizons. Do you recycle…

  • Batteries? In Chicago, all Walgreens accept batteries for recycling.
  • In the bathrrom? Shampoo bottles and toilet paper rolls are just as recyclable as their kitchen/office counterparts.
  • Printer/copier toner cartridges? Staples pays $2 per cartridge…and carries the super cute Martha Stewart Organizing line.
  • Gift wrap/paper towels/toilet paper/tissues? I hope not…none of these are recyclable, even if they are unused and totally clean. The paper isn’t good enough quality to use for anything else.

What’s your best recycling tip? Do you recycle at home? Learn anything you didn’t know here?

Just in Case Cards

Sometimes I have a cool embellishment I want to use, or I come across a paper when I’m looking for something else and an idea just comes. Or I just have to try something cool I saw (probably on Pinterest).

If someone gets a new dog?

If someone gets a new dog?

The dots went with the cool paper. I could write anything in there...hi, thanks, birthday

The dots went with the cool paper. I could write anything in there…hi, thanks, birthday

I made this for my dad for Fathers Day. Then I remembered he never wears button downs. Oops. Still a cool card though...

I made this for my dad for Fathers Day. Then I remembered he never wears button downs. Oops. Still a cool card though…

Do you make anything for no good reason than it came to you?

Earth Month: Bring your own Bags

earthmonthIn my real life, I’m a teacher. I also sponsor the school Green Team and try to make my school greener. (I annoy the heck out of plenty of people but that means) I’m pretty good at it, too. My old school was the second-LEAST environmentally friendly in the district (thats what happens when you’re built in the ’60s) but my new school is LEED gold (what happens when you’re built in 2010) (other things that happen if you are built in 2010 is there are no VCRs or TVs in the whole building).


I spend plenty of time thinking about what people can do to be greener, and I’ll be sharing one quick thing every Monday this month.

Up first:

Reusable bags.


I always bring bags to the grocery store–they’re stored in my front hall closet, and I keep several in my car for impromptu trips. I’m a small-purse girl, but I have several bags that go into tiny little pouches–they fit in a pocket or a tiny purse, and I’m ready for whatever I need to tote around. Many stores in my area also give you 5-10 cents off for every bag you bring too. They also carry a lot more and are far more comfortable to carry.

Try thinking outside the bag, too. I wrapped my sister’s birthday gift in a reusable bag as part of her gift. If the gift is fairly square, it isn’t too tough to pull taut and use some tape to secure it. Wrap it up with a ribbon, and you’ve just added a great little bonus on to your gift!

Do you bring bags with you on errands? Any tips to help remember them? Does your grocery store give you an incentive for using them?

Happy Anniversary, Mother!

Today is the 30th Anniversary of the Day Mother Broke Her Tailbone. Or, I suppose, the day Mother’s tailbone got broken. By sister. Getting born…in a snowstorm, incidentally. Sister hates birthdays, so my mother sent an email asking what we should do for the 30th anniversary of her broken tailbone instead. Sneaky.

Personally, I’m celebrating with a gift. My family isn’t very in to “stuff” and my sister is especially nomadic (likely moving to California this summer), so if I don’t come up with something good, I don’t do it at all.

My sister enjoys photography (I have one of her photos in my dining room, and hope to use more someday), but thats about all she has on her walls. I wanted to come up with some art for her (because apparently that‘s my thing these days) but I don’t like just breaking out a rerun of something I’ve already done.

My favorite piece is my Birthday Art, which my best friend wants me to re-make for him.

DR Birthday Art

And when I wanted to make something cool for Boyfriend, my take on that matched his rug (and used his nephew’s artwork).

Circle Art: Framed

So what now? I only want to use artwork if it’s got some meaning behind it, so that’s out. What else?


I have an obsession with maps. One of my most popular project was my Map-Lined Drawer.

Finished Drawer

Between my Craft Ideas and Things for My Wall Pinterest boards, I have seven different map pins. Things like…



Then I saw this post (before or after I pinned it on Pinterest? Who knows.) So pretty. So easy*. I could use the different places my sister has lived, or places she’s visited. It would look cool and add some meaningful art.

Watercolor maps. From this awesome map to image site.

mapimage(1) copy


These are two of the (many) places she’s lived. I popped them in to two Ikea shadowbox frames and we were good to go.

I thought about doing something similar to the inspiration images above, but my sister is very much not a heart person…and making them too small made it tough to see the detail. We went out for dinner over the weekend to celebrate, and my dad was convinced I bought them. Win!

Are you obsessed with maps too? Can you figure out the two locations shown above?

Sweet(er) Dreams of a New Bedroom

It’s time for a makeover. My bedroom was the first room to come together…nine years ago. Three apartments ago. And its time for a change.

Bedroom from DoorMeet purple. The purple was a good idea nine years ago. My furniture has a lot going on, so I knew I wanted to keep it simple and thought a solid color would be best. I finally got a headboard a year or so ago. It doesn’t read quite right in this photo but it is a sage-y green/gray.

This room is not bright at all. It faces North, and if you look at the picture you can see that the window has something just beyond it–the window opens on to the porch, so natural light is tough to get in here.

Inlaid dresserThe furniture is old. I got it when I was 16, from my grandmother. The art was a hand me down from Dad. He brought over all his rejects so I had things on the wall. I can’t decide what (if anything) on the dresser I like.

VanityThe vanity had doors once. And see that bench? Its upholstered with horsehair. It’s having a horsehair baby out the bottom and needs to be reupholstered. The shape looks easy, but I’m guessing switching out horsehair for cushion is a job best left to professionals.

Bedroom Window

See the horsehair pooching out the bottom of the bench? The curtains need to be rehung too…higher and wider.

But mostly…all. that. purple. The pillows are actually from my VERY first apartment, when I was a junior in college. It was a whole theme they went with…it involved a set of purple sheets and a sheet of green sheets. Also my mother and I sponge painted a dresser. We were awesome like that. I don’t think I have pictures, but I kind of wish I did.

While I still like purple, it isn’t fitting in too well with the other rooms in my house, especially the hallway. The bedroom is just off the teal hallway, and the rest of the house is more blues and greens. Since I only have four rooms (+ 2 hallways + a small porch + bathroom) I want to keep it cohesive. Plus its time for a change. The quilt is starting to get little tears–no complaints here, it has seen plenty of use over almost ten years–and the comforter cover has a rip and some small stains.

Bedroom from WindowsI got those two pictures from a street vendor when I went to NYC. The colors are green and purple. Look at that consistency.

So it’s time for a change. I’m just not sure to what.

Things that aren’t changing:

  • The furniture placement
  • The furniture itself (headboard, vanity, dresser)

Things that are changing:

  • Curtains
  • Quilt & comforter cover
  • Throw pillows

The rest is up for grabs. A rug? Could be nice. New art? A change in wall color? Who knows.

I’m having a tough time finding inspiration with such heavy dark furniture, but I’m not in a huge hurry. I think I can work a pattern in somewhere, and I like the ideas of blues and greens. That’s most of what I’ve got right now.

Thoughts? Know where I can find some pictures with dark bedroom furniture? I love mine, I just can’t find any pictures with dark furniture for ideas.

Pork Apple Cheddar Meatballs


This is one of my go-to dinner recipes, found during the year I had a subscription to EveryDay with Rachael Ray.

Pork, Apple & Cheddar Meatballs

Pork Apple Cheddar Meatballs

They’re oh-so-good, and pretty quick and easy too.

Meatball Ingredients


  • 1 pound ground pork (my local grocery has it already packaged in a casing)
  • 1 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 small, tart apple, such as granny smith, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 small onion, grated
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 12 ounce package  egg noodles
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

  1. Preheat the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and grease with butter. (I spray mine with my magical oil sprayer)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, cheese, breadcrumbs, apple, onion, 3 tablespoons parsley, the egg, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. (This is: everything but the noodles, butter and some of the parsley.)
  3. Meatballs ready to mixMix it up with your hands. Ew, squishy.
  4. Meatballs mixedShape into 16 meatballs and arrange on the baking sheet. Broil the meatballs until golden and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Meatballs cookedMeanwhile, in a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the noodles until al dente. Drain, then return to the pot and toss with the butter and remaining 5 tablespoons parsley; season with salt and pepper. Divide the noodles among 4 plates; top with 4 meatballs each.

Bonus points if you make extra and have lunch for the next day!

Dinners, Crafts and Games

When I was looking for my condo, I really wanted a dining room. My specific request was “a real place to put my table” but what I was hoping for was an actual dining room, not just a good sized corner for the table or an eat-in kitchen.

DIning Room Full

This was exactly what I wanted. When I first moved in, the dining room had a table & four chairs, an armchair in the corner and two bookcases. It was a little…sparse. It was also really beige. The walls are a perfectly acceptable neutral, but pair that with several wood bookcases, a wood table & chairs, bare wood floors…you get the picture. I wanted curtains to really soften it up, but I didn’t want just one color. I searched for ages for the right patterned fabric, and my mom sewed the curtains for me.

DR windows

The background is neutral, so it goes well with the walls (and new chairs), but brings in lots of color and movement. They have several shades of blue and green, with a little teal and yellow mixed in. Plenty of colors to play off of, like the green tablecloth I picked up on clearance at Target.

I got a china cabinet hand me down later, and then got my big break on an old original buffet living in the basement. Lesley and I decided to paint it a dark blue to tie in to the navy in the curtains (which was a little trial and error–oops).

DR from kitchen 2

I finally hung my birthday artwork and I got a matching frame to hang some new art (a photo my sister took on a hike in Tahoe). Along with the old china cabinet, these two provide tons of storage! This is also the room where I craft, and I have a lot of supplies that live in there. Adding all that storage from the buffet gave me a lot more space to store my supplies–and keeping them convenient makes it easier to use them. Its definitely still a work in progress, but I’m refining how and where I store things and I’ll get there eventually.

DR from Kitchen

The Birthday artwork is definitely the focal point in the room–I love all of the color it brings in. My best friend has requested I make him one as well, and that seems like a fun wedding project (he just got engaged).

DR Birthday Art

I just added the two new upholstered chairs–I was going back and forth on whether to get neutral or something fun/colorful/printed and how much to spend (high quality that I’ll be able to use in the future? Something cheaper that can be a fun accent for now?). I’ve been playing princess and the pea with chairs for months now, and haven’t found anything I totally loved–and $300 for a chair is a little ridiculous. When we went to Ikea on our post-Christmas shopping trip I sat on these–and they’re good! They’re less than $100 each, so two of these came right out of my Christmas money and the neutral cover ties in to the background on the curtains. The finish on the legs is even a pretty decent match to my table.

DR Table and chairs detail

How many types of chairs do you have around your dining room table?


Aw, Thanks (again)

Just dropping in to show a few more card designs. My mantra is generally to keep it pretty simple, and I’m loving trying out new writing styles–a lot of scrapbooking letter stickers are just too big for cards.

Keeping it basic with a contrasting paper offset, rounded corners and handlettered thank you

Keeping it basic with a contrasting paper offset, rounded corners and hand-lettered thank you

Three strips of washi tape from Target and done!

Three strips of washi tape from Target and done!

Martha Stewart candy stickers have a little dimensional but are flat enough to mail. The lettering is on a shape I cut with my Cuttlebug.

Martha Stewart candy stickers have a little dimensional but are flat enough to mail. The lettering is on a shape I cut with my Cuttlebug.

Which is your favorite?

Carnaval 2013: Gold Stars and Blue

I planned a party. It was a little over a week ago, but the pictures just came out.


The party was really a benefit, held for the mission organization of my church. That’s their logo, which is not just relevant because the benefit was for them but because the majority of my contribution consisted of bringing that shape into the decorations. Its a ten-pointed spiky-not-chubby star.


That, combined with shades of blue, were our driving force behind the decorations. Every table had a blue tablecloth (in several shades) and a centerpiece with a glass base wrapped in a word representing one of the mission programs, and gold stars in some form.

Short Centerpiece

The short centerpieces, clustered on the first two rows of tables out from the dance floor, had shallow vases filled with gravel (on top of a styrofoam cake form to save on gravel cost/weight) with a 3D papier mache star in gold. They also had small gold stars in two sizes (painstakingly punched by, um, my students) and several candles scattered around.

Medium Centerpiece

The medium centerpiece had three vases, each with a different texture, lit from within with LEDs. Each vase was on a gold star, and the shades of gold were slightly different. I used wrapping paper for the stars, so they were not expensive, and they looked very nice as bases. The tallest vase had cellophane crinkled inside and then was filled with water (I was skeptical, but this actually looks really cool as long as you are careful to fold under the top crinkle so it doesn’t try poking out), the medium had plastic crystals (they look like ice cubes) and the shortest had clear water beads. The different textures lit up looked really neat.

Tall Centerpiece

The tall centerpiece was pretty simple, with these large stars illuminated from within with LED lights on gold-covered pole (wrapping paper on PVC), held up in a dollar store vase with a word representing one of their programs or missions. The base, which you can just barely see, is an 18″ 10 point star. I made a template (math in real life!) for all of the medium and tall stars so they would look like our inspiration star above.

Illuminated Star

The stars looked really neat when the lights went down, and I loved how they looked with the lights in the room.

Wine Auction

The dance floor held the bottles for the Mystery Wine Auction during dinner–you buy a ticket for a bottle of nice wine, and one lucky winner gets three really valuable bottles instead. I used three extra stars and some creative height-makers to give it some dimension and it really popped. Kathryn even ordered the gobo in the shape of the stars to project on the curtain behind the band.

The process was pretty cool–the committee chairs, Kathryn & Brad, both bought various things they thought could work with our very vague theme of “shades of blue,”  “something that goes with the cool lights” and “stars like the logo.” Kathryn found these amazing spiky gold balls that I loved, but they didn’t end up being the best fit for everything else. My main contribution was to say I could figure out how to make all the gold stars for the bases–so basically they asked me to be on the committee because I’m good at scissors.

M&M at Carnaval

Oh, and I was there too. At a table with a tall centerpiece, my friends from the committee and Boyfriend. We had a lovely time. Boyfriend even got us a hotel room since I was on the committee (it was super modern with bright teal carpet)!

My Shoes Match

Also, my shoes matched my dress. I thought you should know.

What’s the biggest event you’ve worked on? Ever decorated for 500 some people?!