Maximize Your Vertical Space

Raise your hand if you need more space. Me too! Here’s how you can maximize your vertical space in any room – I did my laundry room because, well, it needed something. My laundry room is 36 sf. with 6 sf. of that being a small recessed area where the previous owner had a rod to hang clothes. Nothing wrong with that, but it was definitely not the way to maximize vertical space. Here’s what I did in that little nook.

proud diy lady in front of shelves with canvas bins
pretty pleased with myself!
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Reduce Plastic with Your Soap

Want to reduce the amount of plastic you bring into your home and put into the environment? I’ve found a few products that fit the bill, and one of them helps you reduce plastic with your soap. Yep, foaming hand soap tablets that are packaged in paper and shipped in cardboard. Did I mention the reusable dispenser is glass? Can I get a woot woot!

reusable glass dispenser with soap tabs packaged in paper
fill your reusable glass dispenser with hot water and drop in a tab
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3 Ways to Use a Rolling Utility Cart

The ubiquitous rolling utility cart. We love them, but we sometimes wonder what to do with them, amiright? Here are 3 ways to use a rolling utility cart that work great in my home and just might in yours too.

First, let’s briefly discuss where you can purchase a utility cart: just about anywhere. The carts shown in this post came from IKEA and from Michaels. They’re at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Wayfair, World Market, Walmart, Office Depot, you get the idea. They’re everywhere, so there must be something to this trend!

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Accumulate Less in a Material World

Uncluttered: beautiful & relaxing

Living a less-is-more lifestyle can be challenging. I aspire to let go of material things and live more minimal, but I’m also not fooling myself – I can’t survive with one pair of shoes. Or even six pairs of shoes. What’s a girl to do when they all spark joy? Not to worry, I have a couple of tips to help you accumulate less in a material world.

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Quip: Best Home & Travel Toothbrush

EGADS! I made a mistake–I do have an affiliate link to this product on Amazon (I totally forgot) so this is technically an #ad! Disregard my original words: This is neither an ad nor an affiliate link; I am really this excited about my Quip toothbrush. (you can find yours at my Amazon store)

Imagine having an electric toothbrush nearly the size of a hammer in a charging stand on your vanity. Imagine it needs to be plugged in to keep a charge, meaning you’ve just lost one outlet in your bathroom. Now you’re traveling and your choices are to find space in your luggage for the hammer and its charger or switch to a manual brush for the duration of your vacation. And we all know what that feels like, right?

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I Moved Why?

This was my 26th move.

Can we just end the story right there? Because I’m exhausted.

Seriously though, in my defense, ten of those moves were as a child. Totally out of my control. I’m responsible for the others, which were nearly all a trading-up situation. Okay, maybe I’m justifying just a bit.

But this last move was different. It was the first time I downsized for the sake of lifestyle, and I really hope this is my last move (knock on wood I didn’t just jinx myself…again). I was in over my head at the townhouse. Not financially, but physically. Maintenance-wise I was drowning in to-do lists, and some of it was beyond my physical capability. But I tried. I’m not one to hire people to do things for me that I should be able to do, so I really tried!

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What to do With a Side Garden that Floods

As with pretty much every green thing under my care, I’ve been struggling with what to do about the side garden. It’s on a gradual slope, and it becomes a river every time it rains. Hmph. This strip of dirt is roughly four feet at its widest point and runs twenty-four feet long between the house and sidewalk, and it gets a couple of hours of sun daily.

Last summer I thought I had it figured out. I put down landscape fabric, planted a few hostas, covered with mulch and scattered some large rocks around to keep everything in place. I scavenged the rocks from another area of the yard and did a little switch-a-roo. It was pretty, and I was pleased. Until the first rain took all the mulch away. Right around the bend and into my front yard, actually. By the following Spring, the landscape fabric had been pushed around so much that it looked like a pile of laundry. And the hostas were sprouting beneath it, not able to find the holes I had cut in the fabric six months earlier.

What. A. Mess.

I thought on it for quite a while (read: I avoided it for a long time). The hostas were doing well where they were planted, and they seemed unaffected by the raging river of rainwater. So I knew I wanted to plant more hostas, but what ground cover to finish it off that wouldn’t wash away? The mulch was a joke, and gravel would be bullied just as easily. I thought about a rock garden with substantial rocks, but didn’t want to commit to the budget for that.

Then, like a rock garden angel whispering in my ear, my neighbor told me about a landscape supply company in town. “Supply” anything usually means less than retail pricing. Now I had an idea. As I pulled into the dirt parking lot, I got a sinking feeling that this was one of those places that only sells to contractors. No M’am! I could buy whatever I wanted. And the price was right.

I imagined beautiful hostas sprouting from a river of rocks.

The catch is that you can’t just buy 10 or 15 big rocks. The smallest amount they sell is a quarter yard. It was a grand total of $12 for a quarter yard of basketball and football-size rocks. TWELVE DOLLARS! You know I love a deal. Budgeting is in my blood! The other particular is that a quarter yard is roughly 700 pounds of rock, and it’s a “you load/you haul” kind of operation.

Load it yourself, Lady!

Four trips. I probably could have done less, but it still has that new car smell. I didn’t want to break the vehicle so soon.

The guy in the front-end loader pushed a 700 pound pile of rocks to the side for me and I began loading them into the trunk of the Altima. Pretty quickly I saw that the wheel well-to-tire space was disappearing. It took four trips of loading and unloading, but I got those rocks home. It was 98 degrees with a thousand percent humidity, and by the time the last rock was out of my trunk and on the pile next to the house, I walked away from that hot heavy mess and never looked back. Well, not for about a month.

I never wanted to see these rocks again.

By the time I was ready to look at it again, it was August and all the garden centers were picked over in the hosta department. So I did what any respectable gardener would–I yanked a few from other areas of my yard. Ha! It’s like rearranging the living room, only outside. I love this!

There are four varieties of hostas in the rock garden.

The rocks are gorgeous pink, gray, and slate colors.

I transplanted the container hostas and introduced them to the side garden hostas. Then I once again moved 700 pounds of rock as I placed every last one just so. I now have a rock garden/river of hostas along the side of my home. We’ve had some substantial rain and not a thing has moved. I think it’s actually preventing some of the erosion that had been occurring. But best of all, it’s beautiful.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the project is complete! No washing away of mulch or gravel, no-fuss hostas!

If you have a piece of land that isn’t up to par for flowers or vegetables, consider a rock garden. You might even get plants to grow that would otherwise have been victim to wind, rain, or rushing water.

So go ahead, rock on with your bad self!

Cheers!
Kelly

 

Chalk Paint: Not My Jam

I’m usually happy with my DIY projects. They usually take longer than expected, but in the end, I have something nice that I’m mostly proud to show off. I might have dropped the ball with the chalk paint thing.

After reading about it, hearing about it, seeing videos about it, oohing and ahhing over before and after photos of it, I finally jumped in and tried my hand at chalk paint. I’m underwhelmed.

The tutorials showed how simple it would be to apply the paint (just brush back and forth, sometimes in circular motions, very quickly before it dries) and said that I could paint over any surface–even hardware–no primer required, so you can imagine my disappointment to find none of that to be the case for my project.

To be fair, I painted a smooth-surface particle board (or maybe MDF) black file cabinet white, but still. If the whole world is screaming “it’s so easy and it covers anything,” then I think it should be easy and cover anything. Amiright?

Valspar Chalky Finish Paint

Valspar dark antiquing wax and Waverly clear wax and brushes

Perhaps you really do need to use the Annie Sloan brand to get the best results. I didn’t listen, and I cheaped out and used Valspar, which is a good quality paint in normal paint world, but maybe chalk paint isn’t V’s thing. The bottom line is that I had to paint three coats to cover the black even before I could do the antiquing and the finish wax. They lost me at three coats.

Here it is before the antiquing (I should have left it right there)

Close-up of the antiquing finish

I then chose the wrong color wax for the antiquing look. I should have gone a shade lighter. And lastly, the clear finishing wax isn’t what I expected. I thought it would be a paste to really protect the finish, but it was the consistency of chocolate milk. I pushed it around with the brush, let it mostly dry, wiped with a rag as instructed, and repeated a few times, yet it didn’t feel like much of it “took.” Months later it still feels sticky and unprotected.

I really do like it better now than when it was black…it’s just not exactly what I had envisioned…and took a lot longer than expected. Imagine that!

The finished product looks fine, maybe even cute and not too shabby for a first try. If I were to do it over, I think I’d go back to my old ways of sanding, one coat of tinted primer, and one coat of paint and be done. But who knows, maybe I’ll get the hang of it and chalk paint every wood surface in my home 1950s aqua or dove gray like the rest of the world. But then again, maybe not.

Cheers!
Kelly

A Better (easier) Way to Clean Your Hardwood Floor

I’m fashionably late to this party, but have finally found a way to clean my hardwood floors without breaking the bank…or my back…or my knees.

First, there’s nothing like having a blog to cause one to eat their words. Posting anywhere will do it, right? Having lived in my sweet little condo for years, I swore (and posted) that scrubbing floors on hands and knees was the only way for me. I neither needed nor trusted a 1970s sponge mop to get the job done. I can see Mom clear as day with a bucket of dirty water, pushing that sponge mop across the harvest gold and burnt orange kitchen linoleum. We were so fancy.

Somehow, I skipped the sponge mop thing. Or I’ve blocked it from my memory, because a pair of knee pads, a bucket & rag, and a bottle of Murphy Oil Soap have been my arsenal for years. And that worked well when I had approximately 30 square feet to clean.

I kept that routine at my new place for about a year, but with double the overall square footage and hardwood flooring covering most of it (foyer, hallway, living room, dining room, and kitchen), my knees and back were protesting. After throwing in the cleaning towel and looking at a dirty floor for a few weeks, I did what any self-respecting homeowner would do–I dropped my bucket and went to Target.

My skepticism that I would find something easy, effective, and safe for the hardwoods was high. But you know how Target is (and Costco, for that matter): they have exactly what I’m looking for plus many other things I had no idea I could not live without. Every. Time.

CasaBella Flip & Spray

This time I was laser focused. I found the CasaBella Flip & Spray microfiber spray mop with Method wood floor cleaner. Say it with me: Method wood floor cleaner. Maybe I could loosen my grip on the bottle of Murphy Oil Soap clutched to my chest? And I wouldn’t have to get on hands and knees to clean–super plus! The whole outfit cost $25 (including the bottle of cleaner). Can I get a woot-woot! It has a flippable head, meaning when one side exceeds your dirt limit, flip it to the other side and keep going, and the microfiber cover comes off and goes right in the wash.

CasaBella Flip & Spray with Method Wood Floor Cleaner

Truth be told, I don’t enjoy cleaning my home. Don’t get me wrong, I keep it clean. I love the freshness of it, the tidiness of it, I love everything about a clean home, except the actual cleaning of it. But, as soon as I walked through the door and my purse hit the bench, I had to try this spray mop thing. And I have to say, the flip & spray is life changing. My floors look fantastic and I spent a fraction of the time that I used to with the bucket and rag. The plant based Method wood floor cleaner is almond scented, which means my home smells like fresh-baked almond cookies (pros and cons there). Best of all, I’m not reaching for the Tylenol or elevating my feet afterward.

Just mopped vs dull and dirty. Look at that shine!

Yes, I just wrote a blog post about a mop, but you know I love a deal, and this is the best $25 I’ve spent in a long time. If you do your own housecleaning and have not yet kicked the (mop) bucket, do this little thing for yourself. You’re worth it!

Cheers!
Kelly