Pantry Make-Over

I suppose calling this a pantry make-over might be a bit of a stretch, but living in an older home means that storage is always at a premium. We have two staircases leading to our basement ~ one from the kitchen and one from the back door. I know ~ weird. The stairwell off the kitchen had slowly become a dumping ground for items that might be found in the pantry of a newer home. We did have some insufficient wire shelving on the wall, but it held very little and thus it seemed that items would slowly collect on the floor along the wall as well as on a large shelf in the basement. There was no rhyme nor reason to how things were stored and therefore, we often missed buying things we needed and over bought things we didn’t need. It was one of those things that constantly drove me about our house.

On the first Saturday of spring break, I was taking laundry down to the basement when the solution suddenly came to me. For months (maybe years) I had been trying to figure out how to solve this ongoing storage problem. I had measured and searched the web and just couldn’t come up with what I thought was a viable solution. It’s funny how ideas come to you at the strangest times. Such was the case with this. It was literally something I had tossed around for sometime, but just couldn’t seem to figure out how to make it work. The stupid part was there really wasn’t anything to figure out. The answer was right in front of me, I just had to shift my thinking.

The best part was that I had everything I needed to make it happen immediately and so that’s exactly what I did. I came up from putting the load of clothes in and set to work on transforming the dog’s breakfast at the top of the stairs.

You may remember the sliding spice storage racks I made to fit between my wall and fridge. I used old book shelves that were being discarded because they weren’t stable enough to be safe. They worked perfectly in the space and made for great storage.

I had two more sections that I had considered for can storage, but the depth of the shelves was too shallow and wouldn’t work. Over the last few years, I measure and tested cans again and again hoping I could somehow use the shelves as a pantry, but I just couldn’t figure out a solution….until this day! It finally dawned on me that the peg board backs on the shelves simply slid inside a groove about a quarter of an inch inside the top and bottom shelves. All I had to do was remove the back and let the wall of the stairwell become the new back! This quarter of an inch was all I needed to fit the cans and other small pantry items. I set to work and it was literally as easy as removing the screws from the tops and sliding the backing out. I planned on sitting the shelves on the floor and then securing them with an L bracket or something for safety, but when Tim learned of my plan, he offered to mount them up off the floor. I can not believe how well they work and it was such an easy fix in the end. The stairwell is now free of clutter and works perfectly for our needs. Our basement isn’t finished and so we don’t have to worry about company going up and down the stairs. If and when we ever do finish the basement, we plan to make the back stairs the main entrance to the basement anyway. So happy!

The Queen of Lists Adds a Twist

So often I am asked how I manage to do all the things a good mom does as well as work, blog daily and do all those projects I write about. The answer in a nutshell is LISTS!! I have lists everywhere for everything. I have sublists of lists and sometimes even sublists for the sublists. It’s crazy! If I have not committed “it” to paper there is no chance I will ever remember it. I have so much on my plate, I am barely staying afloat some days. In fact, I have so many lists that I decided to develop a list for my lists. I just seem to write and re-write the same things over and over again, and find myself wasting time looking through my lists for the right list. I finally decided to try something new. It’s a new system and I’m hopeful that it’ll work.

A List with a Twist:

Basically, the same things seem to appear on my lists over and over again, so I thought, why not streamline all of my lists onto one page. I created a Weekly Planning Sheet that is customized to meet my own personal needs. I am hoping that I can work from this one, single list for an entire week. Of course, we will continue to have a Grocery List, but other than that, my goal is to see if I can keep it to one paper.

I created a basic template on the computer and will plug-in events from the calendar every Sunday, before printing it off. The template provides the framework for my whole week and that I  don’t have to write scheduled items like “piano lessons” every week, as it is already on the master template. Obviously, I will need to update the little calendar portion at the beginning of each week and plug-in any special appointments or meetings. I created a space to keep track of my workouts, blog posts and I have made several categories for my ongoing lists. For now, I plan to “pencil” in the items on my lists, but if I am finding that they are regular items on my “to do list”, then I may just type them right in to the master template. A great example would be laundry. That is always on my list of things to do over the weekend, so I may decide to add it to the permanent template. I am also not sure if I will have enough room to add everything I need to do, over the course of the week, but as long as I use pencil, I can erase my accomplishments to make room, if need be. My general feeling is that with the separate categories, I should have room, but we’ll see. I am so excited to see how the new system works this week.

You can see the pile of lists I started with and how I combined them all onto my new template. I hope it all goes as planned ~ we’ll see!

Having lists does help me to stay organized and on top of most things, but the bottom line is a list without action is futile. I too get overwhelmed at times and push the worst jobs to the bottom of the list, but what I have found is that action actually creates motivation and momentum. When I am feeling tired and out of gas, I will often scan my list and look for two or three items that will take: Little Time & Little Effort. I take action immediately and knock off those items that require no more than a couple of minutes of my time (making appointments, placing an order, RSVP to an invitation, send an email, etc.). By taking immediate action, I feel like I have accomplished something and the result is often a “second wind” and motivation to take on a bigger task. However, even if I go no further down the list, I have done something and something is always better than nothing at all!

Obviously my template won’t work for you, but perhaps it is something you could use as a guide to create your own weekly planner. Just what every busy mom needs ~ another project!

Going Commando? Not Quite!

Command HooksI was out picking up a few things at Home Depot for my tray storage cupboard and came across the section where the Command Hooks are kept. I have purchased these in the past, but rarely. However, it suddenly occurred to me that they were just what I was looking for! When I made my sliding storage rack, I had to cut it down because of the support board that ran along the side of the fridge below the cupboards. It was about a foot deep and it meant that I had to sacrifice the additional space behind the cabinet. I thought perhaps I could still make use of the space by adding hooks to the wall, but had a temporary mind cramp and couldn’t figure out a way to get a screw or nail in the tight space ~ Dah!  The Command Hooks would work perfectly. I was so excited that I ended up looking over the entire selection and picked-up a few packages. In the end, I mounted two behind the sliding cupboard, one for my broom and another for my oven mitts.

More Kitchen Storage Ideas:

Hidden Sponge Storage

My original plan was to install this system, but unfortunately it wouldn’t work in my kitchen.

As well as installing the Command Hooks, I also picked up a set of hinges and plastic storage trays that are designed to fit behind the false drawer front that sits in front of your kitchen sink. Unfortunately, we have an under mount sink and it was impossible to use the set due to the way it was installed. Although I was disappointed I figured I could install one of the plastic trays inside the door of the cupboard that sits under the sink. It is perhaps slightly less handy than the original plan, but serves the same purpose. I would often have my scrubber and sponge sitting on the back ledge behind the sink and really hated it. This is much better.

So, here are some photos of how I installed and used my new hooks and storage solutions.

Make-up Drawer Make-Over

Yes, I am on a bit of a roll. I got all of our hair accessories organized and moved on to the toothpaste drawer and then my make-up drawer. Despite the fact that we live in a heritage home, we’ve actually been blessed with pretty good storage space (in most areas). Our bathroom has an original built-in cabinet with doors and drawers. We we renovated our bathroom a few years ago, we installed built-in shelves, a medicine cabinet and a vanity that was previously an antique dresser, so we have lots of places to put our things. The down-side of this is that the ample storage also allows you to go way too long before feeling the need to clean and purge. It is long over due and I have been slowly making my way through the bathroom cabinets.  My make-up drawer looks so much better and I just have to share the one little tip that I am so excited about.

Make-Up Drawer Make-Over:

First, I need to start by saying that I did not go to the dollar store again. I purchased this magnet tape on a previous trip. I had seen this idea before, but I could never really get my head around where I might get a magnet that would fit and work in the space I needed it. Then, it occurred to me. Why not use magnetic tape? I could cut it any size I want and just use additional glue or staples to ensure it is secure. Worked like a charm!

I love how my “tools” are stuck to the magnet on the inside of the drawer and I no longer have to dig through my make-up to find what I am looking for. The magnetic tape was only a dollar for 24″, so there is still lots left for other projects.  This is an economical and simple storage idea!

Have you ever considered working from home? A revolutionary new training system has hit the market.  If you are interested in learning how to earn money from home, you need to click this link.

Life Hacks I Love: #2 Organizing Your Dresser

I found this idea on Pinterest months ago and it made so much sense to me. Don’t you hate it when you go to dig a t-shirt out of your dresser drawer and you either can’t find it or you mess up the whole stack trying to maneuver it from the bottom of the pile? I used to hate that! Not anymore, I decided to rearrange my clothes in a vertical formation as suggested on Pinterest. It works beautifully! So, if you are in the mood to get organized, you have got to try this. It really works and is easy to manage.

dresser drawers

The above photo is actually of my husband’s dresser drawer. He has so many t-shirts wedged in there, you can barely open and close the drawer. He has not yet converted to the new system. You can only see the shirts that are on the top of the pile and it is difficult to get a shirt in and out, let alone find the one you are looking for. Fortunately for him, he really only wears blue and black, so I guess pretty much any one will do!

Okay, this is seriously a “no-brainer”. You can see every single shirt in the drawer and they fit in there beautifully. This system gets 5 stars from me! I love that I can easily find what I am looking for without destroying the whole drawer of clothes. A must do for the organized person in your home!

If you are interested in learning to blog, do not miss this opportunity to learn how the pros blog with a revolutionary new blogging platform.  Click here to learn more.

Winter is Here!

We had our first snow fall a few weeks ago and it looks like it is here to stay. I actually hate the cold and am generally not a big fan of winter. I would miss having snow at Christmas, but other than one snowman making session and a few toboggan rides, I would be fine to skip winter all together. However, in some ways, it is almost a relief when the cold weather finally settles in and the snow is here to stay. I find that transition time in the spring and fall is a killer when you have limited storage space. When the weather is bouncing up and down like a yo-yo, it seems as though you have every coat you own in use and there is no room to house all of the clothes. You know, the light jacket for nice days, the winter gear for the bitter cold and the rain jackets for the very damp and rainy days. Every day seems like a new adventure and in Manitoba that means being prepared for what ever weather happens to come our way. So, with winter here, I was finally able to store all of our fall gear and clear some closet space.

I decided to put some of my thrift store purchases to the test and incorporate them into my plans to store our winter accessories more effectively.

Thrift Store Purchases…Repurposed:

curtain ringsYou may remember my post from last week which highlighted a few of my recent thrift shop finds. I picked up two wrought iron plant hangers. We mounted the larger one inside our front closet door and have it stuffed full of mittens and hats. There are little iron scrolls on the bottom that I slipped some old curtain rings on for our scarves. These are the same rings that I used on the scarf rod in my closet make-over and for the wet mitten rack below. I am so glad I hung onto those rings….they’ve come in very handy!

I also purchased a little “welcome” sign for 99¢. I had been planning to make a little place to hang our wet mittens and thought I could use the sign for my project. Typically, the radiator at our front door gets stacked with wet gear and is a bit of an eye sore. I thought that a little hanger sitting over top of the radiator would be a bit more visually appealing, but still take advantage of the radiator to dry the wet mittens.

mitten storage

This was are previous storage system!

Mitten Storage Solutions:

I basically took a wooden hanger from the basement (they were left by the previous owners) and sanded it down. It was in good condition, but I wanted it to have a bit of a darker stain.  I used some stain I had on hand to create a bit more of an aged look. I then gently removed the bottom bar of the hanger and slid on my curtain rings. I hammered the nail back in to secure the bar.

I took the little “welcome” sign and sanded it down to reveal some of the wood beneath the paint. I added some stain to the exposed wood and then topped it with a coat of paint. Once dry, I gently sanded the painted layer and applied a bit more stain to distress it slightly. I hand painted the word “MITTENS” and added a few dots to embellish the ends of the sign. Finally, I used some scrap fabric to make a tiny pair of little red mittens to dress up the sign. I used a blanket stitch to finish off the cuffs of the tiny mittens and tied them together with a string, so that they could hang over the buttons I glued onto the sign.  Here is a great tutorial for doing a blanket stitch. I love the look of a blanket stitch as it is a simple way to give a project a more “finished” look.

Mitten Storage Reveal:

You can see that the plant hanger does not provide a neat and tidy solution. It is inside our closet door, so I am okay with the messy look. What I love is that there is an actual “place” for the kids to put their mittens. They can now be held responsible for putting them away when they get home and in turn find them more easily when they are set to go out again. We have not had a chance to try-out the mitten hanger yet, but hopefully this will free up the top of the radiator!

Have you ever considered working from home? A revolutionary blogging system has hit the market.  If you are interested in learning how to blog and earn money from home, you need to click this link.

Limited Closet Space

I love heritage homes. The character and custom look of an older home is almost impossible to capture in the newer homes that being built today. The amount of oak and natural woodwork simply can not be afforded by the average home owner. There are so many wonderful aspects of owning an older home, but with the character and beauty come many obstacles as well. Our home was built in 1921 and is approximately 2300 square feet. Our basement is not yet finished and although we still have ample living space, it seems as though adequate storage is a constant battle. Both of the upstairs bedrooms were remodelled at sometime prior to us purchasing our home and they both have the luxury of walk-in closets. However, the rest of the house is limited in closet space and I am always thinking of creative ways to use our space more efficiently. Such was the case with my 2012 closet make over. Tim works shift work and I have always found it more convenient to use the closet in the spare room, so that I can try to avoid going in and out of our bedroom while he is sleeping.

Spare Bedroom Closet:

Below is the spare room closet which I use in addition to one of the small closets in the master bedroom (for dresses).  The closet  is 33″ wide, 9’6″ tall and quite deep at 33″.  The space was being used really poorly, so I decided to embark on my first “build” project without the help of my husband! The original closet had one bar going across the closet at about 70″ or so with one shelf sitting on top.  All the rest was empty, unused space (other than the pile of junk I had piled up on the floor under the hanging clothes.)  Too bad I forgot to take the true “before” picture.  It was like one of those closets from a sitcom or cartoon in which the contents of the closet falls out every time you open the door!  Anyways,  I researched closet make overs and had an idea of what I wanted to do, but had to work up the courage to get started.  I am a project queen, but my husband is always asking how and why “my projects” always become “his projects”. I was so fed up with relying on him to make the cuts and use the wall plugs, etc, that I decided that I would learn to do these things myself.  What better place to start than a closet, where all of my mistakes and  slip-ups can be hidden behind closed doors.  I must admit that there was some frustration along the way and my husband notes that he has never heard of it taking so long to mount a few boards, but I literally had to learn everything.  I had used many tools before, but my husband would always get the drill bit I needed, find the proper screws, use the wall plugs if needed, etc.  I was determined to complete this project without him and at a minimal expense.

First Step:

Clean out the closet.

Getting Started:

  • I had to remove the single bar as the height would not work with my new plan.
  • I had to patch, prime and paint the closet. It was in pretty rough shape and had probably not been painting in decades. I kept it white, but the fresh paint made it look a hundred times better!
  • I then installed “cleats” (I actually know what those are now!!) to support the three shelves and the double hanging bars.
  • My husband was going to help set me up to use the table saw for the shelves,  but he was busy and I was on a mission, so I just measured them out and used the electric jigsaw to cut them.  They may not be perfect, but they seem fine to me – and I did the cuts all by myself!!  Besides, at that height, who will ever see them?
  • I also wanted to incorporate vertical storage up the front sides of the closet to make use of the empty space there.  Old closets are often very deep and there ends up being “dead” space at either the front or back that is often rendered useless. I figured out a way to make this space work for me. I purchased pegboard at the Re-store for $5 and cut, primed and painted it white to blend in with the rest of the closet. I had never used pegboard before and fortunately I was smart enough to figure out that it couldn’t sit flush against the wall or you wouldn’t be able to insert the pegs into the board. I used scrap wood to build a simple wooden frame on the back. (I even mitred the corners.) I then screwed the peg board securely to the wall with long screws, through the wood frame. This provided about a 1/2 to 3/4″ gap between the wall and the back of the peg board, so that the pegs would insert properly.
  • I went to the dollar store and purchased several little nylon fabric covered bins (or some kind of fabric similar to nylon). They had cute little handles at the ends and you could tell they were constructed from heavy cardboard (beneath the fabric). I used my We R Memories Hole Punch/Eyelet Setter to punch two holes in the backside of each basket and then set eyelets around the rims to avoid damaging the baskets with the pegs.  The eyelets also gave the basket a nice “finished” look.We R Memories Punch and Eyelet Setter
  • I then “stacked” these vertically along the front of the closet.
  • I also wanted to use the inside of the door to maximize the space.  One of the things I wanted to include was jewellery storage of some kind.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to use, but knew I hit the jackpot when I came across an old wooden spoon rack at the thrift store  for $2.50.   I simply painted it and drape my necklaces over the little rungs originally intended for spoons. It ended up being the most exciting part of the make-over!
  • I added some additional pegs for bracelets and an antique cheese grater serves as storage for my earrings.
verticle peg-board storage

I purchased this antique cheese grater for $3 at The Old House Revival Company (one of my favourite stores) and repurposed it for earring storage.

  • I followed Anna White’s tutorial for making a simple book shelf from a pallet. I love pallet projects as you can generally pick these up for free. I made a few of these and use them for vertical shoe storage. They only hold a few pairs, but take up much less floor space. I made the cuts following her simple instructions and just stained the pallet shelf for a nice finished look.
  • The three shelves above the two hanging bars are quite high and very accessible without a stool. I can reach the bottom shelf, but the other two are too high for me. I use these shelves for off-season shoes and purses. (And no this is not an optical illusion, this closet really is this high.)high shelves
  • I just added my final addition to the closet last weekend. I was keeping my scarves in one of my black baskets, but really wanted to hang them instead. I installed an old towel bar that was being stored in the basement and slid on some old curtain rings that have little clips on the bottom. My scarves now hang beautifully and don’t get creased.


I have to tell you, this closet is jam-packed! The “new” closet offers double the hanging space, triple the shelf storage, the little baskets hold my socks, underwear, workout gear, and tank tops. In addition, I managed to accommodate more efficient shoe storage, jewellery organization and most recently a great place to hang my scarves. I loved this project not only because the result was great, but because it truly was my very own build. If you look closely there are a few “boo-boo’s”, but you really have to seek them out to find them.  Happy organizing!

If you are interested in learning to blog, do not miss this opportunity to learn how the pros blog with a revolutionary new blogging platform.  Click here to learn more.

Family Centre Memo Board

This simple DIY memo board was the final step in our Family Centre project.

Memo Board

For this project, I used one 12″ X 12″ scrapbooking frame from the craft store and more of the coordinating paper that I had used for the previous projects in our Family Centre: FAMILY sign, Weekly Calendar and the Chore System.  I used the paper to create “blocks” for the different sections on the board.  It is an easy way to keep track of important things and communicate between family members when we are all going in different directions.  I hand printed the titles and double mounted them to create some dimension.  I added a little embellishment to the middle just to dress it up a bit.  To use the board, you use a dry erase marker on the glass and simply wipe clean with a cloth or tissue.

memo board

Completed Family Centre

family centre


Want to learn how the pro’s blog? If you’re interested in earning money from home, it makes sense to learn blogging and internet marketing techniques from the best on the web. If you’d like to receive the same training that’s helped me to launch my blog, you should click to find out how I did it.


September Preparations: Weekly Calendar

One week to go and a long list of “to do’s” in the days ahead.  I will continue to put the finishing touches on our 6 week menu plan that was mentioned in yesterday’s post, but today it is time to update our September calendar and get back to using our weekly calendar.  For us, late August is not only time for back to school shopping,  but it also involves fall registration for the kid’s activities.  This week, we will register the kids for dance, swimming and hockey.  Piano and Girl Guide registrations were done in the spring, so the times for those have already been set.  The registration process not only involves paying the fees and filling out the forms, but also examining the “family” schedule as a whole to see how we can juggle everyone’s individual schedules.  Like other busy families, this includes quite the balancing act to fit in both of our regular work schedules plus additional meetings and work commitments as well as all of the other activities that we are involved in.  For September, we are looking at juggling the following:

  • Tim’s work schedule and meetings as well as compulsory over-time shifts
  • my work schedule and extra meetings/school events like “Meet the Teacher” evening, Thursday night volleyball, volunteering at church
  • Shay ~ soccer (extended play from the spring) and hockey try-outs (swimming starts in October)
  • Eden ~ Girl Guides, dance and piano (swimming starts in October)
  • Eden and I ~ “Mother’s and Daughter’s in Touch” program
  • Additional events

General Organization and Planning

We purchase one of those large family calendars that have ample space for writing.  In late August, once registrations have been completed, I sit down and fill-out the calendar as far in advance as possible.  Generally, I will complete as much of the calendar as possible leading up to the end of December.  I go through the calendar and add in all of the kid’s activities, my activities/meetings as well as Tim’s.  Once the monthly calendar has been filled with those commitments that are not flexible, it is much easier to make decisions as to what other things we can commit to and when will work.  I am a very visual person and need everything organized and neat in order for it to make sense to me (hence the colour coded system in my classroom).  We keep our main calendar inside our basement door which is located in the kitchen.  It is very accessible, but hidden so it is not out in the open and messy looking.  You can see that the whole family writes on our main calendar.  It always becomes very cluttered and full of scribbles as schedules change and adjustments are made.  Here is an example of our April calendar.  Not one of our busiest months,  but still lots to keep track of.

monthly calendar

Weekly Calendar

Being a very visual person, I like to have a less cluttered version of the monthly calendar that gives us a “week at glance” instead of the whole calendar.  Every Sunday, I transfer all of the items from our monthly calendar onto our weekly calendar that is posted on the wall in our kitchen.  Like the menu board, the weekly calendar helps to give me an overall look at the week ahead and plan accordingly.  It helps my husband and I figure out who needs to be where and which one of us needs to be the “taxi” driver.  Here is our DIY weekly calendar.  I originally got the idea from Pinterest (not surprisingly) and then made my own version of their weekly calendar.  Here is the link to the original source for the idea.

DIY weekly calendar

Weekly Calendar Tutorial

This is an easy DIY project and the final look is “clean” and visually appealing.

  1. Purchase a multi-picture frame similar to mine.  I think I bought this one at Wal-Mart for around $15.  You need to have at least 7 frames to accommodate the entire week. I chose 8, but I have seen them done with more frames.  The additional frames can be used for titles (like mine), message boards or just embellished to look pretty.
  2. Purchase coordinating paper that will fit with the decor of the space where you will be mounting the finished calendar.
  3. Purchase lettering or use your Cricut to cut-out the letters you need (that’s what I did).  I chose to use a the initial letter only, to represent each day of the week.  You may want to use smaller letters and spell the whole day.  For the title, “THIS WEEK”, I used teal and black.  I cut the teal letters on my Cricut, but changed the setting to shadow for the black letters, to make them slightly bigger.
  4. Assemble your frame with your new calendar pages.
  5. Use a dry erase marker to print the date (top right corner) and add in your schedule for the week directly on the glass.  Use a kleenex, cloth or eraser to erase the board every Sunday and start all over again.

DIY weekly calendar


Want to learn how the pro’s blog? If you’re interested in earning money from home, it makes sense to learn blogging and internet marketing techniques from the best on the web. If you’d like to receive the same training that’s helped me to launch my blog, you should click to find out how I did it.