Monday, June 25, 2012

Reliving My Awkward Years

I'm going to the orthodontist today. Which brings me right back to this point in my life:

Yup, that's me posing for the paparazzi (aka my dad) before my eighth grade semi-formal. Lookin' gorgeous in my spaghetti-strap dress and white high heels. Both of which made me look slightly more gangly than I would have on a regular day... If that's even possible. And let's not forget the blue and white butterfly clips adorning the up-do that I carefully crafted in front of the bathroom mirror, right before I smeared on a hint of shimmery white eye-shadow and some clear mascara (Fancy, huh?) I had just gotten my braces a few weeks before this photo was taken, and I specifically selected silver bands to coordinate with my dress on this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

Last week, I bit into an apple and somehow managed to break the permanent appliance that was glued to the back of my two front teeth after my braces were finally removed when I was 16. I hadn't thought about that thing one time since the day I was sent away from the orthodontist's chair with a shining braces-free smile and a bag full of bubble gum, Starburst, and other braces-breaking candy... and now, suddenly, dealing with this appliance became a full-time job.

As an adult, I struggled to find an orthodontist who would see me to make the repair. I guess you're not a priority when you aren't 12 years old and debating between pink or green rubber bands for your braces this month. I was literally to the point of calling coworkers who have teenage children and begging them to put in a good word for me at their orthodontist office. Thankfully I found an office who was willing to see me with just a 6 day wait, instead of 2 1/2 weeks - the soonest appointment I could find anywhere else. And what's even more exciting? This office has video games in the waiting room.

So today, I will be unearthing my purple glittery retainer with a star sticker cemented inside from it's home at the back of a bathroom drawer, since my new orthodontist specifically requested that I bring it to my appointment. (And I will then have to admit to the orthodontist I have not worn said retainer for quite some time). I just hope she doesn't yell at me. Or even worse, suggest a wildly expensive treatment plan to correct the damage I have done by denying my teeth the glittery support they so badly needed.

Tomorrow, I turn 27 years old. But for today, I am 13 again.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Need a Shoe-tervention

This week's Organize Life challenge actually made me feel like a little less of an organizing failure. Thanks to a wall-mounted key rack/mail basket and memo board, we already sort of kind of have a "catch-all" place for most of our necessities.

We might have the key and mail situation worked out, but we I have a major shoe problem. We generally enter the house through the front door instead of the garage (Mainly because the garage is so full of junk, I can't make my way to the garage door once my car is in there. But that's an organization project for another day.) This means the tiny entrance area of our town home becomes a dumping ground for shoes. In an attempt to remedy this problem, we purchased Ikea's Hemnes Shoe Cabinet shortly after moving in. This piece was perfect for the entrance way because it provides a table space to add decorative elements to the space, and is designed specifically to store eight pairs of shoes.

Problem #1 - We I have been shoving waaaay more than eight pairs of shoes in this poor shoe cabinet. And the shoes that don't fit? Well, I just leave those on the floor.

Easy fix... I moved the shoes that I don't wear daily up to the shoe organizer in my closet, where they belong.

These are all the "extra" kicks that I dug out of the shoe cabinet. (The cat, however, was not removed from the shoe cabinet.)

Problem #2 - A few months ago, the Home Owner's Association built a dog park in our neighborhood. And everyone LOVES it. (I'd even say it is almost worth the hike in HOA fees that came with it.) The dog park is so very loved, that it has actually become more of a mud pit. Which means several times a day, our sweet pup, Ella, treks mud and bits of dead grass into the house. Because when you have a dog who is thoroughly obsessed with chasing tennis balls, there is simply no way to avoid this mess. Cleaning it up is literally driving me crazy... which is why I usually don't even clean it anymore. Because I hate hiking up the stairs to get the broom to sweep up the dirt when I know it will simply reappear in a few hours when Ella is once again reunited with her precious tennis ball.

Light bulb! Why not keep a broom downstairs? I bought a small hand broom and dustpan to keep in the shoe cabinet, along with a small towel for cleaning wet messes. Now, when we bring the dog in, all it takes is a quick sweep with the broom, dump the dirt back outside the front door (Because I will avoid an extra trip up and down those stairs at all costs), and all is well in the world.

So in the end, there's one drawer for Ella. One drawer for Joey. And two drawers for me. Don't judge me. We've already established that I have a shoe problem.

And with that, this space is manageable again:

Much better. The next time I'm tempted to drop a pair of shoes where it doesn't belong, I need to remember how nice it feels to open our front door to see this, instead of an imitation of Imelda Marcos' closet.


Monday, June 18, 2012

Repurposed with Purpose

The organization continues! This week's "assignment" was to organize a cabinet. I decided to confront the terrifying space under our kitchen sink. This cabinet has been a huge frustration... I could not find bins and baskets that fit around all that crazy plumbing in there, so instead I just shoved all our cleaning supplies wherever I found space. Anytime I needed some cleaning product, I had to pull everything out (if it didn't all fall out on top of me first) and I pretty much ended up making a bigger mess than the one I was trying to clean up in the first place. Clearly wasn't working for me.

Then, I stumbled across this genius idea of using a repurposed tension rod for under sink storage (Found it on Pinterest of course, where else?):

And with that, I was finally inspired to begin the makeover.

I installed the tension rod with the intention of using it to hang spray bottles, but then I remembered that a few years ago, in a failed attempt to organize my bathroom, I purchased a BYGEL rail and hanging baskets from Ikea. (Failed attempt because I never actually installed said rail and hanging baskets. Turns out I don't know how to use power tools.) I dug the baskets out of their home on a shelf in the garage and discovered that they fit perfectly around the tension rod! I filled the baskets with garbage bags, extra sponges, and dishwasher tablets

Next, I found shallow plastic storage bins at Target that slide perfectly under the sink pipes. It turns out I prefer to keep all my cleaning supplies in a bin, so when its time to clean, all I have to do is pull the entire bin out and everything I need is right at my fingertips. I was sure to put the things I often use right up front (Helloooo Lysol wipes and pet stain remover!), and the things I rarely use tucked in the back (Tough to use silver polish when I don't yet own any silver...)

Costs for our new and improved cabinet:
  • Tension rod from Lowe's - $4.34
  • Set of five plastic storage bins from Target - $5.99
  • BYGEL container from Ikea - $0.99
  • (I already owned the hanging baskets so I didn't have to purchase them, but for those who are not pack rats with random baskets lurking in the garage, you can buy them for $1.99 at Ikea)
Grand Total - $11.32. Not to shabby.

The only problem is that now I have two leftover plastic bins... Guess I better start organizing another cabinet so I can put them to use!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Organizing Life with a Little Mod-Podge

Confession. If I continue on my current path, there's a strong possibility that you will see me on an episode of Hoarders about twenty years from now. Okay, I'm probably exaggerating a little... but over the years, I have accumulated tons of stuff. And after all my stuff was combined with all Joey's stuff, I now find myself feeling overwhelmed and unable to even begin dealing with the mountain of stuff that looms before us.

Just as I was realizing that our home is about three seconds from being declared a national disaster, I stumbled across this post on Jordy Liz Blogs. Organizing Life? Yes please. This girl was preaching to my soul. Shoving junk into a drawer so I don't have to look at it anymore, setting the clean laundry aside somewhere to avoid dealing with it, holding onto things that I believe to have some minor significance to a memorable any life event - I've done it all. And I do not want to spend the rest of my life being controlled by this cluttered mess I have created.

So, in the spirit of organizing my life, I took on Jordy Liz's first challenge this week - Organize a drawer. Of course I managed to turn the process into a DIY project. An organized drawer, and a chance to use Mod-Podge and my label maker? Clearly a win-win.

I decided to tackle the dreaded kitchen junk drawer. It hasn't always been a junk drawer. It actually started as our VIP drawer - a place for the things we just knew we'd need in the future. I'll let you be the judge how that system worked out for us.

I started by sorting through all the treasures in the drawer to figure out what actually deserved the coveted VIP title. Turns out most of the stuff in there actually had a better home - craft supplies in the office, bags of spare change in the car for tolls, instruction manuals for various kitchen appliances all contained neatly in a folder next to our cookbooks, and all the bags of "spare parts" (Thanks a lot, Ikea.) with the tools.

Next, I spent a few days perusing my organizational options at a few stores. I fell in love with the Silver Mesh Drawer Organizers at The Container Store. And then, like I do after I spend time admiring pretty much anything I find at The Container Store, I fell back to Earth and realized it would cost about $20.00 to buy those beautiful, shiny drawer organizers. Multiply that by the four other kitchen drawers I also plan to take on and that adds up to a grand total of heck no. Enter DIY project.

I gathered up all the empty boxes I could find in our house (boxes that once held cereal, pasta, zip-lock bags, granola bars, dryer sheets, anything!) and tried out a few combinations until I found one that fit perfectly in the drawer - two Kroger granola bar boxes and the long sides of a Cheerios box. I cut them down to size and used the scraps to create smaller compartments within the larger boxes.

Perfect-o! There was just one problem. After fawning over what could have been at The Container Store, I couldn't stand the look of that hideous cardboard. So, I measured and cut scrapbook paper to cover the inside and outside of the box, then plastered it on there with some Mod-Podge.

I finished it off with thin strips of paper to hide the unsightly cardboard on the edges, and voila!

I simply repeated the process three more times, and I ended up with a lovely set of color-coordinated drawer organizers. (And let's be honest, everything is better when its color-coordinated.)

Just to avoid any future confusion, I labeled every compartment when I loaded up the drawer. I figure there's no excuse for something ending up where it doesn't belong if everything has an official home.

The best part about all this? The grand total of these beauties is... FREE. Take that, Container Store.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Blogging Faux Pas

I've made a terrible first impression in this here blogosphere. Seven entries in, then I go all Criss Angel and pull a month-long vanishing act. How can I ever expect to entertain and delight my dedicated readers (aka my mom and dad) if I disappear into the unknown for such a long time? Here's my lame excuse: I was busy getting my life in order.

What, specifically, have I been up to? Well, school let out for summer on May 18th. For those of you who don't know, the absolute worst time to be a teacher is the last two weeks of school. (Followed closely behind by the day after Halloween. You might not think that exhausted and sugared-up can coexist within one child, but trust me, they can.) With the prospect of summer on the near horizon, the kids (and teachers??) totally lose control. Couple the insane kiddos with the insane amount of paperwork that has to be done to document all the little cherubs have learned during the year - that makes for one busy teacher.

After finishing up the school year (Hallelujah!), Joey and I headed to Virginia for the most wonderful long weekend of the year. This tradition started four years ago after my aunt and uncle bought a house on Smith Mountain Lake. Since then, we have had a family reunion of sorts every Memorial Day, with people coming from Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Washington DC, and of course, yours truly from Georgia. Nothing is more relaxing than sipping an iced drink on a lounger at the end of the dock, eating more than my fair share of food while watching my more daring family members cruise the lake on jet skis and tubes. It's so nice to have this weekend set aside every year to spend with my sweet family. And to remember the good times, each year we pack the family in and take a photo. You'd be amazed how much coordinating it takes to get this many people (and dogs) together. Making sure everyone's eyes are open could be a full-time job.





If you are wildly observant, you may have noticed that in 2010, Joey used this photo op to pop the question in what was the most perfect proposal I could imagine! Yet another reason that our Memorial Day trip holds a special place in my heart. Of course this year's trip didn't have the excitement of a proposal, but it was still an incredible time spent with those I love most!

After arriving back in Atlanta, it was time to get myself in order and figure out my plans for the summer. And with all these plans, I've been a busy gal:
  • This summer, I will get my booty in gear and start working out. I used grad school as an excuse to take a year and a half hiatus from any serious sort of athletic anything. So Joey and I decided to finally acknowledge that fact that the YMCA has so kindly been withdrawing money from our account for the past two years and actually use what we are paying for. I'm off to a good start - I'm running again, I tried (and loved) Zumba, and I decided to join my friend's Boot Camp on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Let me tell you, nothing says "Good morning!" like a ridiculous number of lunges and wall sits at 6 am.
  • I watched a fascinating, yet terrifying, documentary called Forks Over Knives that inspired the next goal. It's all about how eating a whole-food plant-based diet can literally save your life. Now, don't get me wrong, I love me some big ol' hamburgers WAY too much to go vegan, but I do know that Joey and I could be eating much healthier. I've been researching what a healthy diet looks like, how to stick to whole grains, and how to cut out processed foods. So far the food I've made has been really delicious, and I'm excited to share some recipes with you this summer.
  • Joey and I are going to better organize how we use our time - so we can be more productive, and so we can spend and enjoy more time together. First step here was buying and using new planners. So far, I am IN LOVE with my planner, and I promise you it will be the topic of many a blog entry this summer (If you want a little preview, you can see the planner I'm using here. It only took me about twelve trips to various office supply stores to settle on this one, so I know its gonna be good.) On top of that, I'm so so proud of Joey, formerly known as Mr. "I can't find that napkin where I wrote that important phone number", for sticking to and using his new planner to organize everything he needs in one place.
  • Clean our house. Get rid of stuff. LOTS of stuff. Enough said.

Soooo I think that pretty much sums up the last month of my life. Check back in tomorrow to read about my triumph over our junk drawer.