Coming Clean

31 12 2010

Okay, so as I mentioned, I’m doing a big clutter busting project.  So I thought I should probably come clean about my clutter – one of the earlier assignments in Alison’s Trash it or Treasure it program was to take photos of my clutter, which I did.

Some of these are better now (and I’ll follow up with those photos in another post), but I felt like I should out myself for the clutter!  This is mortally embarrassing, but I feel like if I share this with you, then I’ll be more accountable for clearing it out.

In my dining room sideboard

Underneath the downstairs bathroom sink

My coat closet

Guest room closet

Other side of guest room closet

Wicker chest in the guest room

Guest room

Top of my dresser

Jewelry box

Jewelry box



Bedroom closet

Bedroom closet

Bedroom closet

Bedroom closet

Hall closet

Makeup box

I know, I know, it’s SO bad! This, I cleaned already!



Bathroom drawer

Under the bathroom sink

Hallway - stuff to give to charity (which I did)

Hallway chair

Under the kitchen sink

Kitchen cabinet

Above the microwave

Kitchen cabinet

Kitchen counter

Kitchen cabinet

Kitchen cabinet



Front of the fridge

Top of the fridge

Baker's Rack

Bottom of the baker's rack

LOTS of plants

The pup's toys

So that’s my clutter!  Some of it may not seem so bad, but I’ve learned that when things around me are orderly, I feel much calmer, so I’m looking forward to things being much more clutter free!


New Bathroom Light

30 12 2010

I hope everyone had a very nice holiday!

As I mentioned in early 2010, there were three projects I wanted to get done this year:

1) Accent wall in the living room.

2) Replacing the light fixture in my downstairs bathroom.

3) Adding a sideboard in my dining room.

And I actually managed to get all of those things done!  Most recently was the bathroom light.  My parents replaced the light in their bathroom with a slightly less modern one, so they gave me theirs.  I was assisting my dad with putting up the light in my bathroom, so I didn’t take any photos of it, but I thought you might like to see what it looks like now.

Definitely an improvement!

Putting up a new light meant there was a hole left from the old fixture – this fixture was a little bit wider, so we had to move it slightly off center so it didn’t hit the wall.  Fortunately, I had some paint leftover from painting the bathroom.  So I put up a patch (found easily at Lowes), covered it with drywall compound, sanded it and painted it.

Now the bathroom looks much better!


29 12 2010

I should have mentioned this in my 2011 projects, but technically, it’s something I started this year – I’m de-cluttering.

Through my mom, I learned of Brocante Home, a blog dedicated to “life, love and vintage housekeeping.”  Alison, the lady behind the site, has a de-cluttering program called “Trash it or Treasure it” for $5 a month – it’s a 28 week program, with weekly downloads that help you identify why you’re keeping clutter and helps you to get rid of it.

I started it a couple of months ago, but fell off a bit with the holiday season keeping me so busy.  So come January, I’m going to get back into the program with gusto – I have about half of it left to go, so I’ll keep you updated with my progress.  I’ve managed to get rid of, donate and de-clutter a lot in the first half of the program, so I’m looking forward to continuing with it and getting a really fresh start in 2011!


Projects for 2011!

28 12 2010

Ah, that time of year again, when you figure out what your resolutions are and make plans for the new year.

I’m still unsure about resolutions, but I do have some plans for next year.

The major one is to work on my garden.  I enjoyed the flowers that I had this year, but I’d really like to turn the corner of my yard into a raised bed with a vegetable garden.  I’ve got the seeds already (I meant to do it this year – oops) and I want to commit to building the raised bed in the spring and planting some veggies and herbs.

Another project I need to motivate myself to get to is painting the closet and bedroom doors and trim throughout the house. I haven’t painted it since I moved in, and the closets are still a depressing strange brown.  I think painting the doors upstairs would really brighten up the hallway (which can seem dark and gloomy).

Of course, it’s not as fun as painting a room which really changes the feel of it, but I’ve been meaning to do it for two and a half years, so I should probably get to it sometime soon!

Something I’ll be doing in the next month or so is steam cleaning my rugs. Luckily, my parents have a steam cleaner, so I’ll be borrowing that from them to do my upstairs carpets and my two area rugs downstairs.  It’s recommended that you have your rugs steam cleaned once a year (does anyone really do that?), so I think it’s probably about time I get to it!

And I’m hoping to add another piece of furniture to my office – I’ve often found myself this year leaning back in my desk chair and wishing I had an armchair to curl up in instead.  I found one that I really love at Crate & Barrel, and am hoping to use some American Express points towards that soon.  I think it really compliments my wall color in there, and the new chest I’ve just put in there (more on that later).

So that’s what I’m planning as of right now for 2011, though I’m sure there will be some surprises to come as well.  What are your home improvement plans for next year?

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

27 12 2010

I don’t know about you, but here in the northeast, it has been COLD.

I’ve been having to turn the heat up more (which I hate to do) and so my heating bills have gone up and up.  I decided to make some small changes around the house to make it a little more energy efficient in the hopes that my house will stay a little warmer.

Outlet Insulation

One of the things I picked up at Lowes were outlet and switch insulation – these are little foam pieces cut to fit in switches and outlets.

They come in a packet of six

The only tool you need is a screwdriver.  So I first unscrewed the switch cover – I should note here that apparently it’s recommended that you first turn off the power whenever doing anything with electricity (including the outlet covers).  I don’t, but I wanted to make that point!

There was no insulation in there

According to the instructions on the back of the packaging, I was first supposed to remove the insulation in there – but there wasn’t any.  What there was – a breeze.  I could feel the cold air seeping through.  So I think the insulation will be making a big difference, particularly since I have a LOT of outlets and switches in my house for some reason.

Next, insert the foam piece.

I just punched out the spot for the switch and screw holes very easily and placed the foam piece in the opening

Then, screw the cover back on – very easy.  It does add a little bit of padding, so I had to push the cover a bit to get it flush with the wall, but it came out great.

You can’t even tell that there’s insulation behind there, but it should make a big difference!  (And yes, it’s a big pet peeve of mine that the switch plate is white, while the switch is tan – that’s a theme I found in this house when I moved in, everything was painted off white or tan so it looked dirty.  Very depressing. Maybe at some stage I’ll switch these out, but it’s not a priority for me).

Sealing Windows

Something that my parents have done for years is to seal their windows using special kits from the hardware store.  I’ve noticed a definite breeze from my own windows (even though all of the upstairs windows were replaced not too long ago, I don’t think they did a very good job, since most of them are not properly sealed – allowing moisture to seep in – and there’s a breeze.  But that’s also a project for the future).

I decided that this winter, with colder and colder temps predicted, I would seal mine also.  It was a much easier process than I thought.  I started with only a few windows, since I have electric candles in some of them for the holidays and wanted to be able to turn them on until Christmas was over.  So I’ll be sealing those ones when I get back from vacation.

I purchased kits in two sizes – one for standard windows with enough tape and plastic for nine windows (I’m doing 7 windows) and two for larger size windows – the windows in my living room and dining room are four and five panel windows.

The first step is to tape around the window with the included double sided tape.  You then leave this for 15 minutes to make sure that it’s properly adhered.

I had to get a stepladder to tape the top, and it wasn't always super convenient with my window treatments, but it didn't take me too long

Once the tape is set, you start at the top of the window by peeling off the paper backing to expose the sticky side.  Adhere the plastic, with one inch overhang on each side.  Once I did the top, I did each of the sides, and then the bottom.

Taped to the top

Taped all around

As you can see from that second picture, the plastic is still very wrinkled.  As you can also see, I had to tape my shade inside of the plastic, so I won’t be able to open them until I take the plastic off in the spring. This isn’t a problem in here because that’s my bedroom.  But it might get to me in the office after a while.

Downstairs, in the living room, because of the curtains, I’ll be sealing the window with the shade up, and opening and closing the curtain to let light in or have privacy.  And since in my living room the shade is mounted outside of the windows, I can easily seal underneath it.

To finish off the project, you take a hair dryer on it’s hottest setting, and starting at one corner of the plastic, heat it until the wrinkles have disappeared.  Be careful at this point to watch the edges, because sometimes as the plastic constricts, it can let go.

Starting the process

Almost done!

Because some of my windows aren’t standard size, there was a lot of plastic left over at the bottom. So I just cut it off after sealing them up.

Here's hoping this makes the house snuggly!

Once I’m back from my holiday break, I’ll be sealing the other windows and doing a couple of other things to warm up the house.  I picked up some foam insulation for the doors – I think they’re pretty well sealed, but I’m going to double check it.  I also picked up some “draft dodgers” as they’re called for under my front and back doors.  I have to admit that they’re really annoying, because although it says they open and close easily over all floors, that’s not entirely true.

Every time I open the door and go to close it, it slides out a little so I can’t close the door. I have to open it again to push it back, and then hold up the outside piece to make sure it slides over the doorstep.  But I can feel a breeze underneath the door otherwise, so I’m willing to deal with a bit of annoyance if it helps keep my house a bit warmer!

I suppose I’ll see in the next couple of months whether or not it makes a difference in my heating bills.  What changes have you made to make your house more energy efficient for the winter?

Merry Christmas Eve!!

24 12 2010

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!  Christmas eve is actually my favorite part of the whole holiday season, because it’s when we have the best of our traditions – a big family buffet and viewing of White Christmas (usually in our pajamas).  When we were younger, my sisters, my mom, my grandma and I used to dress up and go to Christmas eve Mass at church before coming home for a big buffet made by my dad, which we would eat by the fire.

Things are a bit different now that we’re all adults and my sisters have boyfriends, husbands & children.  Also, since my grandmother was very ill last year, and it’s not advisable for her to leave her house too much in the cold weather.  We still do a big Christmas eve buffet, and whoever can join us comes – I think this year it’s the whole family, which will be lovely.  The food really is great too, including some of my favorites like hot artichoke dip (which I made last year), mini hot dogs in puffed pastry, and more.  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

My sister & I stopped going to church several years ago, though my middle sister and my mom go to Christmas morning mass – that might be different this year too, because my middle sister is pregnant with baby #2, and is VERY sick.  Even so, another baby on the way in the family is a nice Christmas present.

We all gather on Christmas eve to eat, watch some White Christmas, and enjoy the tree.  Last year, my niece was big enough to really appreciate the presents and the lights (she had just turned 1), and she opened a few gifts on Christmas eve because my other sister wasn’t going to be able to be there the next day.  Every time she opened a gift, she would open her eyes wide and ooh and ahh like she was going to faint – it was priceless!  We’re hoping for a repeat this year!

Having children around certainly makes the holiday season seem more special and magical – I can’t wait until she really understands about Santa coming next year!  A couple of weeks ago, she spent a couple of hours at my house so that Santa could pick out her gifts, and it was a lot of fun to watch some Christmas specials with her and bake Christmas cookies.  She’s only two, but she’s a good helper.

So I hope all of you have a lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas day!  What are some of your traditions?

Barney & I Wish you Merry Christmas!

New Curtains

23 12 2010

As I mentioned in my creepy neighbor post, I hung up some new curtains in the house to get some additional privacy – fortunately, these curtains were extra ones that my mom wasn’t using at her house (and they happened to exactly match the ones I have in the dining room and are a close match to the ones in the guest room).

I wasn’t sure about them before I put them up – I was going for sort of a British colonial feel in my bedroom, and I thought the curtains would make it too formal.  It definitely made the room more formal, but I really like the look of them, and I LOVE that because they’re darkening curtains, my room is basically a cave.  Great for sleeping!

Quite a nice look!