March 9, 2011

Monthly Canning Session

I am trying to do some canning every month this year. My project for March involved getting together with a friend and canning a double batch of Lemon Prune Honey Butter (recipe in Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving) and Citrus Marmalade (recipe in So Easy To Preserve). We split the jars, but it's a nice addition to my canning stockpile. :)

February 21, 2011

Next Decluttering / Organizing Project: Hubby's Home Office!

I'm gearing up to dive into Hubby's home office this week. It's next on my list for decluttering and organizing. Of course, he's going to be required to help. :)

I'm taking "before" pictures today. Will post the results when we are done.

February 9, 2011

"Final" Before and After Pictures of My Basement Decluttering Project

I had posted earlier this week about my progress on my basement. Now my basement certainly was not nearly horrendous. I've seen way worse basements and I've seen better. It was (in my opinion) just a pretty standard overcrowded, things got dumped here/there/willy nilly kind of basement. However, this organizing project has been hanging over my head since we moved in 10 ish years ago and I was in the mood to GET 'ER DONE!!! So I set February 2011 as the month it would happen and it DID!!!

Here are final pictures showing a complete walkaround of the basement. I still need to do some more work on my craft shelves, but that will be minor. My basement is basically ushaped - with the stairs dumping you off facing west and you walk around in a half circle with the hot water heater / furnace in the middle of the room beneath the stairs.

As you come down the stairs and take a sharp 90 degree turn for the last three steps, this was the view straight ahead.

Now, it looks like this. :)

If you turn towards the right about 90 degrees, here's what it used to look like:

Here's what it looks like now...

One more 90 degree turn to the right and this is what it looked like:

The after is SOOO much better, isn't it?

Here's the facing view of those shelves on the left before:

And, finally, turn around to see the back corner before (which was pretty open to start with).

And the after, with storage shelves added in.

Next up: I will be doing some super frugal decorating just to try to make the place look a little more homey (heavily inspired by thriftydecorchick's basement redo), including a big exercise mat and an area rug under my craft area. I'll take more pictures when I make some significant progress on the decorating side, but that may be a while, as I have other items on the 2011 Get 'er Done! List that I am working on.

Hubby wants to set up a table and chairs to play Dungeons & Dragons (why, yes, yes, I am married to a geek, how did you know?) with his buddies downstairs.

Eventually we want to finish our basement, but for now, I'm just thrilled to make it more usable.

I posted this on the Elements Interiors: Link Party!

February 7, 2011

Hurray! Before and After Pictures of My Decluttered Basement

I'm not 100% done down there, but I've made so much progress, I thought I would share the pictures. :)

My basement wasn't absolutely horrendous... I've seen worse basements. But it was definitely the typical "way too cluttered, dump anything that doesn't have an obvious home into the basement" kind of basement. I set myself a goal for February to declutter and organize it better and eventually (when we get money) go back down there and take some steps to improve the way it looks. Eventually we want to finish it, but for now, it's still all concrete and bare walls.

Here's the east half of the basement. Lots of boxes that had nowhere to go. I picked up a few extra storage shelves (plus scored some freebies from a neighbor who was throwing them out) and got everything all neatly organized and labeled. I love my labeler! :)

This is the east half when I turn around 180 degrees from the picture above. That back corner was really pretty empty to start with. I added some shelving units and organized stuff along that back wall. The east half is looking FABULOUS!!!

The west half of the basement isn't quite done yet, but here's before and after pictures of my progress anyway. Once I get more done down there, I'll come back and put up a few more pictures, especially once I start doing a little decorating to make it look a little more homey.

So, still more to go, but I'm just so happy to have gotten as far as I have, that I thought I would share. :)

February 4, 2011

More Progress on My Basement

I've been spending about an hour a day in my basement for the last week or two, trying to get it all decluttered and organized. I've picked up some new shelving units as well as totes and organizers (heck it seems like EVERYTHING related to organizing is on sale these days).

I had previously blogged about organizing my canning supplies down there as well as going through my Christmas stuff.

These last few days I have gotten my containers/gift baskets/etc organized and put away as well as our emergency kit supplies, seed starting supplies and bulk goods (extra toilet paper and whatnot).

All I have left to do is household tools/paints, exercise equipment and my craft area and I am DONE! WOW!!! I am so excited and I'm proud of myself for getting this project done. It's the nicest the basement has looked in the 11 years we have lived here.

My plan is to finish up this weekend and get the before and after pics posted before the end of the weekend. Keep your fingers crossed that I plow through everything by then and keep your eyes peeled for the pics!!! :)

February 2, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday there was no white stuff on the ground...

Yesterday my car was black...

Today it seems to be white...

Yesterday my side yard didn't have any snow in it...


Well today it's a yard of a different color...

January 31, 2011

Let The Christmas Chaos End!!!

This past weekend I worked on organizing all my Christmas stuff as part of my efforts to declutter and organize my basement. Took quite a while, but it's looking so much better. I literally went through every single box, including every ornament, every decoration, every strand of lights, etc. and separated everything out so that like things were together instead of boxes all jumbled and intermingled. Now I am putting them all back neatly into organized and labeled boxes. This is the kind of project that every year you grumble and moan about and say "I really should get these better organized... Oh, I'll just do it next year..." Somehow that next year never comes, now does it?

I'm super excited to get this basement done. Will definitely be finished this week and I'll be posting before and after pictures no later than this weekend. Mind you, it's still an unfinished basement, so neither before nor after pictures will be gorgeous. But I'm going for organized here!!!

January 30, 2011

The Buddy System

Went to a good friend's house yesterday. We started a little tradition a year or two ago where we try to go to each other's house once a month (taking turns) and either do a house project or a craft/canning/baking project (or both!). Some months we do fun outside stuff like go to the flower and garden show or the flea market.

Yesterday I went to her house and we spent about 5-6 hours in the basement clearing out a TON of stuff. It looks SOOO much better. She designated a bunch of stuff for garbage and a bunch for a future yard sale. There's still a lot more to do, but we'll get to it in time.

It's so nice doing a project like this with a buddy who isn't judgemental. We've known each other since junior high and we promised when we started doing this that we wouldn't judge the state of each other's rooms or projects.

I had originally planned to have her help me with my home office, but ended up getting motivated to get that done on my own. Since I'm working on my basement right now, she'll likely be off the hook for that as well.

No worries though, I see a ton of painting in the not super distant future (like, literally, my entire house - every single room!!!), and I'm sure I'll be able to use her help with those projects!

There's always something to do around here!!!

Why not think about overcoming any potential embarrassment you have and asking a good friend if she would be willing to do something similar???? It's amazing how much you can get done with this focused effort.

January 27, 2011

Organized My Canning Supplies

I am working my way through my basement, following on the heels of my successful decluttering of my home office. I'm on a roll and I know I need to get as much done as I can while the mood is upon me!!!

This morning I organized my canning area. All the boxes of jars are neatly organized and I have created a kit for myself of the canning supplies I need in order to can a batch of jelly/jam. They are all in one tote so now I only need to grab the tote, a box of jars, and my canner.

Waa hoo!!!

Pictures will be coming when I post the dramatic reveal of the before and afters of the basement, probably in about two weeks. :)

January 16, 2011

What a Way To Start The Year! Before and After Pics of My Home Office Declutter

My home office used to be neatly organized, up until about three years ago. I don't know exactly what happened - it was a combation of events, but time just slipped away and before I knew it, my home office looked like a tornado had blown through and dumped several truckloads of paper and junk along the way. It has been weighing on me heavily (and weighing on my floor joists, I'm sure!), but it got so bad I just felt completely overwhelmed about where to even start.

Finally, I just took a deep breath and started in one corner, working my way around the room clockwise. I figured I would spend an hour a day on it for as long as it took until the room was back to where it should be. I was sure it would take about 30 hours, but I was surprised to discover it took about half the time I thought it would - only about 15 hours total. Now that's still a lot of time, but hey, that meant in two weeks I could conquer a project that had overwhelmed me for a few years. In fact, it only took me about a week because once I started and actually started seeing progress, I got really excited and would throw an extra hour or two in here and there.

I am so so thrilled to have completed this project. Wahoo!!! It's done!!! Here's the before and after shots to prove it! :)

I'm submitting this post for ThriftyDecorChick's February Before and After Party (my very first one!!!). :)

I'm also submitting it for Just A Girl's Feb. 3, 2011 Show and Share Day (also my first time!):

January 2, 2011

Squeezing all the life out of a lemon!

Here's a little tip for getting the full use out of a lemon... first, get in habit of zesting every lemon before you slice it. You can freeze or dehydrate the zest to store it. Then you juice the lemon. Did you know you can pop it in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to warm it up, and then roll it beneath your palm on a table, to get a lot more juice out of it? Finally, after you have squeezed the juice out of it and you are left with the zestless, smushy sad looking remains, there is one more thing you can do with it. Throw it in a tupperware container with your other vegetable scraps (onion skins, carrot peels, celery ends and tips, old mushrooms, etc.) and use it to make a FABULOUS vegetable or other stock later when you have time (future blog posting, I promise).

Now THAT is squeezing all that you possibly can out of that lemon! :)