Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mod Podged Paper Towel Holder

Sometimes I just wander around my house looking at things I have and wondering if there's something I already have that could use some improvement to bring some style and color into my life or to see something I might otherwise throw away and see if I can rejuvenate it.  It was one such stroll around the house that I spotted this little gem:

This thing was purchased at Walmart (I think) in about 2003 when Jason moved from Massachusetts into a tiny apartment in West Nowhere, PA.  It made it to our apartment when we got married and then to our house when we bought it.  It's not UN-attractive, but not terribly interesting.  It's sort of a function over form sort of thing.  I've actually been planning on getting a new one at some point, but until then I could at least make THIS one look more interesting.

A simple/quick makeover was in order - paint & Mod Podge. Very easy.

I started off by disassembling the whole thing and wiping it down to make sure it was nice and clean.

Then I did a few coats of white craft paint which I already had (costs about $1 per bottle at Michael's).

I made a plain paper template (to get the size right) and then traced it onto a piece of scrapboook paper (about $0.69).

After cutting out the circle, I was ready to get my Mod Podge on!

I applied a layer of Mod Podge then paid the circle on top. I added a topcoat of Mod Podge, trying to keep it smooth and even.

I followed up with a few coats of the Podge, allowing each coat to dry for about an hour.

Then BLAM! Done :)

I think it's a little snazzier than it used to be.  I'm not sure this is a "forever" paper towel holder, but it's better than what it once was.
DIY Show Off

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Ok, so about 4 months ago (maybe longer, I don't know), something went missing.  Something important.  It was the wand extension and crevice tool for our vacuum.  Now our vacuum does have on-board storage for all attachments, but because Chris is gross he kept pulling them off and licking them <gag>.  So we had put the parts in another closet with a door he couldn't open.

Then I went to get them and they weren't there.  Where were they?  Did I move them? Did I put them somewhere else last time? OMG, we had just done a big purge, had I thrown them out accidentally?  Did they get put in the black hole of our basement??  I looked and looked.  Jason looked.  High and low, places it should be (the closet) and places it shouldn't be (kids room, bathrooms, in the car, garage).  These things were GONE.

Until today.  I was feeding my addiction at Target (storage containers) and I picked up a few biggish bins from the dollar section (these 2 are $2.50 but still a good deal, in my opinion).  I figured they could replace the cardboard boxes on the floor of the hall closet.  So I went to put them in place and it was when I transferred stuff to the new bins that I found the tubes.

See, it's just like when Obi Wan Kenobi hands Luke Skywalker a lightsaber for the first time.  Look at the majesty.

I was STUNNED!  I called Jason at work.  I posted to FB.  I tweeted.  Yeah, I'm that excited.  I can now clean the crevices!!!!!!!  And all because I found the stupid things in the closet exactly where they were supposed to be and where I had looked probably 6 times.

I suppose this really means I should do more decluttering.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Big boy bed time!

In an unprecedented second trip to Ikea in a month (YAY!) we decided to just go ahead and get a bed for Chris.  The main concern with keeping him in the crib was the potential for injury on an escape attempt.  Just because he has escaped 475 million times without incident, that doesn't mean that he won't land wrong next time, right?  The second benefit of getting him into a bed is that it's on "the list".   So off we went to the epicenter for cool and modern Scandinavian home decor.  A family trip, always fun.

We checked out twin beds and beds in the children's section. We hemmed and hawed over pros and cons of one vs. the other.  And we went with a "junior" bed from the children's section.  Here's a few reasons why: 

  • Chris is just 2 years old.  We can get 2-3 years out of this junior bed. .
  • He's currently sharing a bedroom with a big sister.  For the immediate future, space in the room is an issue, a junior bed will fit better.
  • The junior beds from the kid's section are very cute.  The twin beds are geared toward adults/teens and not little kids.

There were a few cons to the junior bed, not the least of which is that due to the fact that it's not a common size, sheets are not available anywhere but Ikea.  I figured this wasn't a huge issue as I can make some.  As soon as I get a new cord for my sewing machine.  (I know, it's been like 2 months.  I should just stop procrastinating and order one.)  For now we picked up 2 jersey knit sheets at Ikea.

The other major con is the fact that this bed will not last Chris until he leaves for college.  We are totally ok with that!  We had actually planned on upgrading Chris' bed regardless in a few years. See, Jason built Sarah's twin bed a few years back and we love it, so we figured he could just do it again (choosing.a different design).  Whenever this is no longer needed, we'll just CL it.

Why not a toddler bed?  A toddler bed is a great idea because they allow you to continue using the crib mattress and linens and many cribs convert into one. Mine didn't so I'd have to buy one.  The annoying thing was that I wasn't able to find one locally (didn't try too hard) and the few people on CraigsList I contacted never wrote me back.  And I wanted one NOW and not in the XYZ business days it would have taken WalMart to get one in.

Back to the story...we picked out the bed, mattress, a few sheets and came home.  Jason disassembled the crib and stowed it away in the basement, I moved the dresser to the opposite side of the room to cover the cable outlet.  Here's a little pic to explain what the heck I'm talking about.

Then Jason assembled the bed.  It was your standard flat-pack Ikea assembly job with cartoon directions and little Allen wrenches.

Chris got a little practice in right before I got the sheets on:

After some additional purging of a few larger items from Sarah's side of the room it was bedtime!

I wish I could say that transitioning Chris to a "big boy bed" has been a painless and smooth process.  Actually it's been pretty much a nightmare scenario where he gets out of bed 300 times before he finally falls asleep after 3 hours. **sigh**

Suggestions on how to do this better would be welcome!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Planning: Shifting Rooms

Until recently, we've been planning on having the basement be the next big project we tackle here at the house, but Chris' new trick of climbing out of bed has made it pretty obvious that moving Sarah to her own room is going to eclipse that in terms of importance.  Poor kid wakes up to Chris in her bed and jumping on her.

So here's the breakdown of moving rooms for her:

1.  Clean out downstairs room

  • purge toys
  • remove tv
  • relocate "office" in the closet and the printer
  • ditch rug
2.  Make any repairs to wall & ceiling

3.  Paint walls & ceiling (colors TBD)

4.  Curtains and shades!

5.  Desk solution (closet?)

6.  Trim out closet door casing and put up a curtain

7.  Move in!

After she's moved out of the 2nd floor bedroom, we'll need to do some work in there:

1.  Big boy bed 

2.  Curtains & bedding

3.  Repaint room

4.  Closet repairs

So that's the plan for the rest of the summer!  I think a few of these may be accomplished in July, but mostly in August.  Then we can focus our energy on the basement in the Fall. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Improved Kitchen Storage

It's Pinterest Challenge time!!!  

A huge thanks to Katie at BowerPowerBlog, Sherry at Young House Love, Jen at Centsational Girl and Michelle at TenJune Blog for organizing the challenge.  The Pinterest Challenge gets all us bloggers off our buns and DOING some of the great stuff we're pinning!  Find something, Pin It!, do it your spin, and LINK UP!  It's mega huge fun to see what these 4 awesome ladies come up with, not to mention the tons of projects that people share in the link party!

Without further ado - here's what I did:

So our kitchen is bad.  It's so bad that if we had to sell tomorrow we would be totally up a creek.  It's on our list for a full-on gut job sometime in the next 12 months, but until then we can definitely do some things to make it more usable.

A while after we moved in, we picked up this free standing island.

It's pretty basic - counter space, butcher block top, shelf underneath.  On the shelf we have bins for stuff like onions and potatoes.  And then we just stack our skillets and cookie sheets on the other side.  Now the skillets are not a big problem because there are only 3-4 of them, but the cookie sheets?  A huge pain in the neck. I generally need to get the one on the bottom, which is noisy and annoying.  The solution was a pretty obvious one, as all over Pinterest are vertical solutions for storing baking sheets and/or cutting boards.  Some  were cabinets with vertical dividers and I saw one using tension curtain rods to create vertical dividers within a cabinet.  Someday I'd love to have a nice cabinet for these things, but for now I came up with a solution that will work with what we have.

I was particularly inspired by this pin:

I loved the idea of using shelf brackets as a vertical storage technique and figured that this might work for my cookie sheets.  So on my Ikea trip last week I picked up a few basic shelf brackets.

Definitely a lot less pretty than the ones in the pin, and why not.  They're about function rather than form and the price was right at $3 apiece.

My plan was to mount these on the lower shelf of the island pointing up creating some vertical separation so that the cookie sheets could be stored vertically.  And that's exactly what I did. Using 1" wood screws and our handy-dandy power drill, I mounted these pointing up on the lower shelf of the island.

I'm going to be totally honest and say that screwing these things in took about a minute and a half.  I almost feel guilty labeling this a "project", but why not.  It's a big improvement, dontcha think?

Ready for the budget breakdown?

  • Island - $0 -- already had it
  • Brackets - $9 -- $3 each at Ikea
  • Screws - $1.20
  • GRAND TOTAL - $10.20
So how do you organize your baking sheets?  Vertically?  Have you done any Ikea hacks lately?

Check here for where I've linked up:

A Crafty Soiree

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Midsummer Garden Update

Wow - I can't believe it's been nearly 2 months since we put in the garden!  A lot has happened back there in the last few weeks.  The lettuce we planted has been fully harvested and raked out to make room for some growing cucumber plants.

The watermelon plants have really been growing a lot in the last few weeks and today I finally found a few little melons on there!  They're so cute, the "big" one is about the size of a ping pong ball.

We've harvested a few zucchini and more are on the way.

Without the lettuces blocking out light, the cucumber plants have grown quite a bit and have flowers. 

And we have a ton of tomatoes.  I'll be looking for cherry tomato recipes in the next week or so because it's gonna get a little crazy around here.

In other yard news, our tropical rainforest (a few banana plants) is growing and sprouting leaves all over the place.

And one last sad update.  My herbs died :(  I think perhaps a window box drains too well, and I'm sure the blistering heat wasn't helping.  Next year I'll go with a more closed container, and maybe choose a location that is more in the shade.

How are your gardens doing?  Are you good about keeping after weeds?  Do you water nightly?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A quick Ikea trip

I feel so lucky to live just 20 minutes away from Ikea.  It really rocks.  Cheap stuff, cool modern design, and pretty much everything you need to totally outfit your entire house.  Plus Swedish meatballs for lunch.  What could be better?  Yeah, wine, but I doubt they'll ever be selling that.

After about 4-5 days of intense heat, Sarah was going a bit stir crazy, so I figured it would be a good day to hop in the car and head over to Ikea.  Sarah LOVES Ikea because of their Smalland, where kids who are fully potty-trained can be checked in for an hour or so of playtime while mom, etc. gets to stroll around and admire all the pretty stuff without having to chase them.  Happy mommy, happy kid!

Before checking her into the Smalland, we checked out the Children's Ikea.  That's where chris spotted the big bin of bears.  We already have one of these, it's Chris' second favorite buddy.  So we got a spare Bear.

I dropped Sarah off and then was free to frolic through the rest of the store.  Sadly it wasn't so much frolicking as it was wandering through and shushing Chris who seems to be quite a crank lately.  I'm seriously blaming the full moon.  I did manage to pick up everything I was looking for with one exception - I didn't get anything to Mod Podge.  It's been a while since I did a Mod Podge project and it's making me twitchy.  I will have to keep looking...maybe something will jump at me at a yard sale this weekend.

So anyway, here's today's Ikea haul:

2 nice pillows (with memory foam cores)
1 cheaper pillow for Sarah
2 Ribba frames in different sizes
1 red trashcan for the basement
2 packs of napkins
1 collapsible cooler (to take to the pool)
4 wood shelf brackets for a project (coming soon!!)

So that's pretty much it for my shopping trip, but before I go, I wanted to show you something cool.  Ikea pillows come flat packed in plastic.  The air is sucked out and the packages are pretty flat.  So on the right is the pillow after I took it out of the package for 4-5 minutes and on the left is a packaged up pillow.  Just wanted to show you that Ikea pillows aren't really as flat as they are in the store :)

It sound sort of lame, but I love bringing new (even used) stuff into my house.  I get a giddy feeling when I'm moving the new thing into place or using it for the first time.  So have you brought in anything new lately?  A great garage sale find?  A great deal at HomeGoods or Ikea?

Monday, July 2, 2012

You may also like...

What's this, a new blog feature?  Why yes, it is!

In order to help you find more interesting stuff here on Goofy Monkeys, I've added "you may also like" links after each post so that you can see what related posts you may have missed.

Happy reading!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Conquering Clutter

For those who don't know me personally, I think one thing I should do is come clean about clutter.  I am a clutterbug.  I come from a loooooong line of packrats.  Actually we were just down at my grandparent's house in WV a few weeks ago trying to sift through decades of junk in search of any treasures before the house is sold.  During that trip I realized that one day when I'm gone, someone (my kids probably) will to have to do that to MY house.  A difficult, weird, dirty, and gross it project was and it could have been a lot easier had my grandparents (and my great-grandparents) had only pared down their possessions to what they needed.

I'm not prepared to go super simple or to eliminate every item that's a "nice to have" or things I'm holding onto for sentimental reasons, but the stack of sweaters in my closet is testament to the fact that I definitely have more stuff than I use or need.  I'm not emotionally attached to everything, but i do seem to have trouble letting go of extra things.  I do know that I will be happier and probably healthier (mentally) if I can reduce the "extra" in my life.

I started off by thinking about WHY we hang onto things...

The Unknown.  Why get rid of a thing if there's a chance it might be useful or needed in the future.  Like the Hawaiian print shirt you bought for that Luau party you went to 6 years ago.  You're keeping it why?  Because you never know when you'll need a Hawaiian print shirt.  There could be a luau tomorrow, and if there is, you'll be all set.

I loved the time when I got it.  Maybe it's a picture from your first apartment or a pair of shoes your wore on your honeymoon, but every time you go to chuck out an item, it reminds you of a time in your life you look back on fondly.  Tossing out is like tossing out is like losing a memory.

It looked fantastic on me.  This is pretty clothes/shoes specific, but sometimes we hang onto jeans or a dress from before we had kids hoping that someday we'll fit into it or something from high-school that does look spectacular, but let's face it, the 90s are over.

But it's in great shape!  You're meticulous about your clothes.  Everything is clean, folded, and without blemishes.  Maybe the item in question is a household item...throw pillows for the living room or maybe a duvet cover.  Something you replaced, upgraded or just doesn't suit your current style. But because it's in great condition, you would feel guilty throwing it away.  So it gets stowed in bins, put in a closet, basement, or attic.  

Decluttering Paralysis.  This is what happens when your clutter problem is so big that you don't know where to start.  And so you just do nothing.

These are all real reasons that I hold onto stuff.  They can ALL be addressed.

Here's questions that I ask myself when decluttering:

  • Does it FIT??  
  • Would I have occasion to USE it?
  • Do I even LIKE it?

If an item isn't useful, if I don't like it, or if it doesn't fit, then out it goes.  I do take some exceptions for extremely sentimental items like a wedding dress, collectible antiques, or gifts.

So what do I do with stuff?  Trash, Donate, Sell.  Things that are in great shape are saleable through ebay, consignment, or craigslist.  Donate gently used stuff to a number of charities.  Trash/recycle anything that is unusable, dangerous, or gross.

There you have it!  A quick and dirty declutter rundown.  So where do I go from here?  Well, I just need to pick a small task and get it done.  Click HERE for an article with some tips on how to declutter in your home.

Next up - the Dining Room.


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