Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taking a Brief Break

I will be watching THE WEDDING tonight: I believe it starts at midnight, here, and goes 'til 8am or so. That means I'll be spending the day tomorrow sleeping! I don't know quite when I'll be recovered from the whole thing. (These old bones don't bounce back the way they used to.)

source: the house that lars built

I am getting excited!

I'll see you on the other side, hopefully not too long from now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hybrid Cure: Living Room progress?

I am, I must confess, procrastinating steam cleaning my couch.

The way things are, right now.


I've washed the inside glass of the windows and the window frames.
I've vacuumed the window screens.
I've vacuumed the lampshades.
I've vacuumed the couch, the chair and the floor.
I even pulled out the piano and vacuumed in behind it. Ugh.
I've vacuumed the rug. Twice.
I've washed down the ottoman.
I've opened the ottoman and sorted the contents into 1) wash and keep and 2) wash and give away.
I've washed the television screen.
I've washed the piano.
I've washed the small table that lives in between the two chairs.


I really have to do it now, don't I?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hybrid Cure Week 4: The Living Room Plan

Tobi Fairley via Pepper Design Blog

Are we having fun, yet?

I am. I find myself smiling at my house and all its little (and not so little) messes. For some unknown reason the process of the Cure (and Spring Cleaning) always makes me happier with my home--even though most of the year I find it frustrating and difficult.

This week is the Living Room. As usual, I have a fairly ambitious list, and I doubt I will get to it all. First though, the tasks from the Cure proper:

In Apartment Therapy, The Eight Step Cure, by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, Week Four deals with the living room and all the stuff that's in it. The following is from p. 131.

Clean up living room and any related closets.
Repairs are being taken care of this week.


Declutter all books and media.
Cancel 75% of all catalogues you receive.
Empty Outbox.


Confirm what you need to increase or decrease colour in each room.
Identify what you need to increase or decrease softness in each room.

designer: Scott Yetman Source unknown. I absolutely love the warmth in this room.

Cook three meals at home this week.
Send out your invitation.

Now, for the cleaning part. Here's a slightly less ambitious cleaning list than mine, from The Unclutterer by Erin Doland:

source unknown

Spring Cleaning List:

Move furniture and vacuum or sweep where furniture had been.
Dust books and bookshelves
Wash slipcovers and steam clean upholstered furniture
Polish furniture and tables

My List:
(Leena asked me how I have the time to do all that I do. I don't work outside the home. I am a sahm. In part, I'm doing so much precisely because I feel the time on my hands. I'm beginning to go a little stir crazy, to be honest.)

Take down brown drapes and store carefully
Wash windows and frames, inside and out.
Vacuum window screens
Steam clean couch
Sew new covers for chairs
Sew inserts for curtains
Put up curtains
Put out new cushions and blankets
Steam clean carpet
Wash floor
Dust books and bookshelves
Dust and polish furniture

source: unknown

Declutter Spots:

Winter throws and pillows
DVD’s and CD’s
Games and puzzles

I have been itching to get to this room.

Sarah Richardson via HGTV

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hybrid Cure Week 3: Progress Report

A good week.

I am quite relieved to have done what I have done. Funny how I never notice until it's all cleared away, just how tense my body is when the surfaces around me are cluttered.

To have done what I have done this week is almost as relaxing as having gone on vacation. More, actually, because I don't have to unpack (and deal with the mess that makes!)

So, in pictorial review, I present to you (some of) what I did this week:

Removed the shovels and snowflakes from the window, swept the steps, wiped down the mailbox, outdoor light, and screen door.

As per Leena's suggestion painted the inside of the front door the same colour as the trim. I love it. Thanks Leena! (No, I didn't paint anything green, the tape is still on the door.)

I'm so pleased with this, I'm showing it off, again:

Hung a new mirror. Put out an old plate. Put some palm fronds in a vase.

Opposite it is an old telephone alcove.

I put this donkey here for Holy Week. He may just be staying.

In honour of scb's love of pink, I made the dresser around the corner coordinate with the cabinet in the front hall.

I found a new home for the wood drawers and put back my daughter's basket. I love this duck I found at Homesense a few weeks ago.

I decluttered the top two drawers in this dresser and the coat closet opposite.

The stairs got vacuumed and washed but the risers didn't get painted.

I did wash the floor in the front hallway area. I'm quite pleased about that.

Then, I put on this "Floor Refresher" by Bona and it put a soft sheen on the poor floor.

I was trapped in the living room for an hour while it dried. I watched commentaries for Season 4 of Mad Men.

The back door area hasn't seen any progress since I ripped out the linoleum and painted the door at the beginning of the week.

And that is that. I'm on a roll, now, and don't want to stop. Good thing we have Living Room week coming up!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mirror Love

I have always had a hard time with my foyer.

The earliest pictorial record of the space in question is 2006. During the Fall Cure, I painted the cabinet black and installed two grey candle sconces beside a lovely print in an ornate soft silver frame. Some of you may remember.

I loved it: but any time I lit the candles, the one on the left sputtered and left traces of wax on the wall. And, as with anything, after a few years I wanted a change. I painted the cabinet yellow: that livened things up.

But, though that look lasted for a few years (though, of course, I can't find a decent picture to upload!), eventually, I moved the print upstairs. It took me a long time to find something I liked--and that fit the space well.

One of my favourites was this:

Please pardon the mess. This is obviously a "before" but I can't find the "after." A shame, I liked this combination of the painting with the glass candlesticks.

But, I don't think the picture fit the space all that well.

Just before I painted the foyer, I had this:

If you remember, I wanted to paint this mirror frame and couldn't decide what to do.

This is how things looked at the beginning of the week:

Last night, the husband and I took a trip to Home Depot to look at a different mirror--and today, I have this:

Yes, those are the same letters waiting to be mailed.

The mirror could be larger: but I love the frame--and it was the only size available. And hey, it was $19.99.

I may replace the orange/red Ikea shade and tin with ones in either blue or green.

We'll see.

Linking to Wow us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style. If you have come from there, welcome!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yellow makes me Happy

I did it.

My husband painted this door --and our kitchen cabinets-- with this colour long before I moved into this house with him.

Sorry for the looming effect. I'm standing about four steps down on the stairway to the basement.

I don't know why it hasn't occurred to me to paint this door before now: I guess it just didn't matter to me. But heavens, it's drab.

I'd thought about painting the interior of the front door yellow: but then decided to take Leena's advice and paint it the same as my (new) trim colour. (I've yet to do that, by the way. Maybe tomorrow.) There's enough going on in that hallway without a jolt of yellow. So, somewhat impulsively, I indulged my yearning for a yellow door by painting the one at the back instead.

Now I have something to smile about when I come up the stairs.

I used the same paint that I used this summer on the kitchen cabinets--

So, the door and the cabinets match once again.

Looking at those photos, though, I can see we really have to do something about those walls. Yikers, they're awful. And the trim. To be continued.....

Encouragement helps

Thank you so much! I knew that if I put out a call for help, it would come!

As a result, I got a lot done yesterday.

First, I tackled the hats, scarves, and gloves drawer. I just cleared out what we won't use, the chewed hats and the one-off gloves.

Like scb, I didn't want to tempt fate and actually pack it away.

Then, I tackled the coat closet proper. I took everything out and washed down the floor and walls. I went through the pockets of all the coats and discovered the family prefers to keep its gloves stored in its pockets! I removed two coats for my husband to decide whether to keep or toss (both filthy, one leather and one suede, both require professional cleaning) and he decided to keep just one of them. Hooray!



I didn't tackle the shelf with all the games and picnic items except to take one game down and give it to a friend of my daughters who was visiting.

The big job, though, was the back door entry way.

This is it.

The floor is usually covered with a large black mat.

Not terribly large, is it? I'm taking the photo from the door to the kitchen. To the left is the stairway to the basement.

I decided to rip out that old crumbling linoleum.

Here's a close-up of the pattern. It's almost contemporary again, isn't it? I like it.

It wasn't all that hard except where someone had nailed it down in several places: getting those out was a challenge.

I've asked my husband to sand it--and then I think I'll paint it.

Today, I haven't a lot of time to spend, my son and I are going to see a theatre production of The Three Musketeers today. That will be a welcome break.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Entry ways: Before-ish

I am feeling a little overwhelmed by this weeks tasks. I'm not sure exactly why.

I did quite a bit of work yesterday (not as much as scb, but some.)

My husband volunteered to vacuum the stairs for me which was huge as the vacuum we've borrowed has to be carried in its entirety up each step. Then, I washed the treads, risers, and the baseboards in preparation for painting the risers today.

But, here is one of the bugaboos: the coat closet.

As you can see, in addition to coats, it also houses the vacuum, (currently not working), tp, games. dusters, odds and sods hanging on the door, and picnic supplies. Out of camera view, it also houses the broom, two mops, and my step ladder tucked in along the sides.

Opposite the closet is this:

That wood Ikea drawer unit used to be in the kitchen on the shelf I removed to make room for the round table. It still hasn't found a proper home. (A basket for my daughter's things to go upstairs is supposed to be here instead. See all that stuff? Most of it is my daughter's. We need it back.)

One drawer in this dresser holds out scarves, hats and gloves. I need to get in there and weed it out. At the beginning of the winter, there was a set for each of us and we could open and close the drawer with ease--now it is jammed packed. I'm not sure what happened!

Yesterday, I also washed down the front door, both sides, also in prep for painting, though I can't decide what colour to paint the inside of the door. Any thoughts on that? Should it be the same colour as the trim (white)? or the colour I pick for the exterior? (likely yellow, though I'm not sure.)

The door is currently painted the old trim colour--a sort of yellowed white.

The back door area is filthy and I dread tackling it--but I suppose it isn't going to get done sitting here. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week 2: Progress Report

Painting and organizing the Cleaning Closet derailed some of my plans for the kitchen--that and my unreliable knees. I confess, I just couldn't face the large corner cabinet where I keep all my appliances, cookware, mixing bowls and potatoes. (Yes, my potatoes are stored with my pots. You're supposed to keep potatoes cool and dark: it's the best spot for them.)

I did clean and organize the smaller section of the corner cupboard though.
It's an awkward height--and because of that, like my grandmother before me, I have to cut down or otherwise turn a box of cereal to make it fit inside the cupboard.

It's been driving me crazy, so I bought a few of these square, plastic, rubbermaid containers to keep things manageable.

Isn't that better?

I did get a few other things things done, too. First, from the AT:8 Step Cure List:


Fix one thing in your home not done
Clean your kitchen from top to bottom and throw out old food almost done.
Buy a water filter and use it. done

We really need to fix the faucet for our water filter. The problem is that although we have the replacement, we cannot understand the instructions for installing it. A phone call to the company we purchased it from will likely make things easier, but my husband and I do not work well together when we have difficulties like this. I have to be willing to be very, very patient (I like to jump in and "try out" and idea--my husband is much less impulsive and wants to think about the problem thoroughly and imagine every possible consequence. Repairs with any instruction booklet, really, is a land mine for us.)

Run your hands over every wall of your apartment. not done
Clear Space for an Outbox done the previous week.

Buy fresh flowers done.
Determine your style done.

I think I'm more or less happy with the whole "modern farmhouse cottage" idea. Click Farmhouse Cottage, Part One and Part Two if you want to catch those posts from a while back.

Find one new recipe and cook one meal at home done
Choose the date for your housewarming. not done

We won't be hosting any sort of housewarming, so I will just be omitting those items from the progress report in future.

I tried out a new recipe this week: Crock Pot Jambalaya. It wasn't bad: but like most crock pot meals made with meat, I didn't like the resulting texture of the chunks of pork I put in it. Neither did my son. So, I think if I do this again, it will be on the stove, like a stew.

Second, from the Spring Cleaning List:

Scrub floors and counters not done
Clean and organize cabinets and drawers, some done, not all
Clean fridge and freezer with a mild detergent.
I got the shelves cleaned up and organized. (How many turntables do you see?)

Defrost Freezer. not done--like Leena, I did that back in the winter.

Clean inside of oven, stove burners and range hood. Yep. done
Change filter in range hood n/a
Clean the outside of all small appliances done
Pull fridge out from the wall and wash floor underneath. I can't believe I did this.

Vacuum fridge coils. Not done. I don't know where they are on my fridge.

Have knives professionally sharpened. done. sort of. My husband found some knife sharpening kit he has and sharpened my chef's knife for me.

Take trash can to self-serve car wash and power wash. pending
Wax floor pending
Wash windows done
Wash walls not done. I'll do this when I get to painting this summer.
Wash and install screens done, pending.

The storm windows are down, The screens are washed and ready to go. But we didn't get them up--and then it snowed. Yes. 8 - 10 cm. So, we're waiting for the snow to melt, again.

Clean dog food container. pending
Clean coffee maker pending
Handwash curtains. done.

I decluttered as I went along. There really isn't all that much that needs to be weeded out, but I did pass along a few baking dishes to my mom and got rid of a glass with a crack in it.

So, that was this week. Up and onwards to the Entry ways!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hybrid Cure Week 3: The Entry Way

You guys have done a stellar job this week! I'm so impressed. Next week is an interesting one. I can get quite easily distracted by the "Heart" tasks in this week--they have really helped me create comfortable, stylish, and liveable rooms.

As I analysed my collection of pictures of entry ways, I realised I was drawn to two very distinct styles.

The first is the "dresser + mirror (or artwork)." Other than providing a surface for incoming and outgoing mail, it is the least functional kind of landing strip.

The hall table with baskets for storage and/or a bench or stool underneath is slightly more functional (with the bench, you now have a place to sit while pulling on your boots) but it is more an opportunity for a style statement than a place to properly handle all your comings and goings.

The second kind I would install in a heartbeat--had I room at the back door. It's the "locker" style of cabinets--known to me previously as the mudroom.

This is extremely functional--and, in some cases, quite attractive, but, not, I fear, very stylish.

Here is an image from Martha Stewart which tries to marry functionality with style.

I'm not entirely sure it's successful.

Nonetheless, here is The List of Things To Be Done.

First up, MG-R:

From The Book:
In Apartment Therapy, The Eight Step Cure, by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, Week Three introduces the landing strip. The following is from p. 103.

Vacuum, dust, and mop (wet or dry) throughout your home.
Clean your entrance and any related closets.
Arrange to have all repairs taken care of in the next three weeks.

Declutter your entrance.
Move all old mail, catologs, and magazines to the Outbox.
Look into what you would need to create a landing strip.
Cancel any unused prescriptions.

Identify cool rooms and warm rooms.
Apply the 80/20 rule.

Cook two meals at home this week.
Design an Invitation for your housewarming.

Now, the list that follows is exclusively mine. I have two entries to the house: front and back, and niether are adequate. The list is long and overly ambitious. I will have to go through it again and prioritize what I'm going to get done. Nonetheless, perhaps it will be useful to you--or at least help you come up with your own, suitable for your space!

Front (Exterior)
Wash steps
Wash aluminum door (screen door)
Wash down mail box and light fixture
Wash door frame and lintel
Put out plants (weather permitting)
Replace door mat (if necessary)

Front (Interior)
Declutter cleaning cupboard
Put up seasonal artwork in front hall
Wash/dry clean winter coats and snow pants
Paint front door yellow (weather permitting)
Look into purchasing and installing new door handle

Back (Exterior)
Wash screen door
Look into replacing it
Wash door, paint interior white

Back (Interior)
Clean walls
Clean stairs
Paint stairs white


Front Hall cabinet
Coat closet
Sort through and pack away winter gear
Top drawer, white dresser
Baskets at back entry

Good luck everyone. I'll do a post about my Kitchen progress just as soon as I do some work today!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to Organize the Cleaning Clost

Every cure, something happens which is totally unplanned and unexpected. This may be it.

Officially, this is known as the Cleaning closet. Actually, it is the Catch-All closet. It is one of two closets on the main floor. (The other is the coat/vacuum cleaner/tp closet). One of three in the entire house (not counting the bedroom closets.)

It's always a mess--and over the years it has been the one area I am constantly cleaning out and organizing.

For example, here's how things stood in October of 2009.

On the top shelf we have cameras and odds and ends.

The second shelf holds candles and garbage bags, vacuum cleaner bags and light bulbs.

The third shelf holds cleaning supplies and, yes, a tool box.

This is a bona fide before shot: taken just before I emptied the shelf.

The fourth shelf holds towels (no closet in the bathroom).

And the floor holds cleaning buckets and the dog's milk bones.

Well, that's the plan, anyway.

It is an awkward space: the shelves are 24" (60cm) wide and 24" (60cm) deep--which, as anyone who has a closet that deep knows, is awkwardly deep.

I went to clean out the shelf with the cleaning supplies, because that's something that would normally be part of the kitchen--and the next thing i knew, I was emptying every shelf in an attempt to organize it. One thing quickly led to another and I wound up re-painting, re-covering the shelves and re-organizing.

It was a two day project.

At first, I agonized over replacing this shelf paper. As you can see, it is in pretty bad shape, but it is wallpaper likely installed by the very first owners back in the Fifties. It just has that vibe and I love it.

I decided, however, that although I loved opening my closet and looking at it, I really wasn't doing it any favours. I decided it would be best to salvage a good piece and frame it--and then cover the shelves with decent stuff.

I don't know why I haven't painted this closet before now. This one--and the coat closet adjacent to it are this really horrible shade of peach.

But two coats of Benjamin Moore's Cloud White and all is right with the world.

I did a bit of research to figure out how to put everything back in. There were three principles I put into action:

1) Group like with like.
Here, candles are corralled in an ice-cream pail:

These are from Ikea. I think I have enough for a few winters.

2) Make things accessible.
Usually, the advice is to put things you use more often in the front and those used less often in the back. In a closet 24" (60cm) deep, that can mean that things in the back are pretty much forgotten and lost forever. So, instead, taking a cue from the success of my pantry shelf re-organization project, I decided to purchase some more turn tables (or carousels) and use those.

I got lucky. They were on sale!

I love them.

3) Go vertical.
There really isn't all that much room to do that in this closet: but I could use a hanging basket on the bottom shelf to hold cleaning cloths. I was lucky I found something that fit so well on my very first try!

So, there we have it.

The painted, papered and reorganized closet.
I'm hoping it will be easier to deal with from now on!

Linking to Wow Us Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style.

Update: It is now September, 2011. This closet still looks great and functions even better! It's been one of the best organizing projects I've done all year, so I'm linking to the I am Organizing Proud Party over at I Heart Organizing.
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