Winter break organizing

I decided not to set any big goals this winter vacation. (Pause for vacation happy dance.) Usually I make an extensive list of things to accomplish when we aren’t going to be traveling, and then get only one or two done and feel like a failure. This time, the plan is to pick one set of drawers, or cupboard, or shelf area every day and get them tidied up and organized.

Day One was the top drawer in the IKEA shoe organizer, which is where we keep the car keys, and apparently every other key that we’ve ever owned. Plus a lot of random papers and odds and ends that end up making it serve as a junk drawer.

Everything that was in the drawer
None of these fit any doors we currently own
Pretty sure these are from a condo my mom moved out of six years ago

With the help of my youngest kid, we tried every likely key in all of the house doors and were able to identify and label keys for the back kitchen door as well as the door in from the garage. About 30 other keys went into a baggie to give my crafting sister, including ones that went with shed locks and various doors from at least four houses, cabins and condos no longer in the family. All of the trailer, bike lock, and door keys are all now organized and in their own little bowl. Random papers have been trashed or filed, the various tools and screws are back in the garage, and now all that’s in the drawer is the car keys, other labelled keys, and some masks for easy grabbing on our way out the door.

It was really satisfying!

The drawer in all its organized glory

Day Two was the vanity in the master bedroom. I cleared out all the old make up, expired and empty pill bottles, random hair products that I never use: a multitude of drugstore crap that somehow built up in there. I went online and ordered shelf paper to line the drawers and cleaned out the organizers. Overall it made a whole bunch of space for the things we actually do use and want to locate rapidly on a daily basis.

Lots of space but still needs liner paper

Again, very satisfying and not overwhelming. Generally when I start to clean and organize, I end up with a big pile of random stuff that never gets put away because I get worn out. So the pile just moves around and eventually goes back into all the same spots or into new random places. Doing this project one little area at a time means I actually will put in the effort to find the places that things actually should be in.

Today was Day Three and the sewing area shelving. The shelves themselves were fairly organized from a previous sorting, but I’ve never gotten around to sewing the curtains that I meant to put in front of them. So today the curtains were sewn. Then the staple gun, and done.

I hemmed the curtains on three sides and then stapled the top edge to the top’s bottom edge. None of the staples show that way, and I can just lift up the curtain anytime I need to get to the shelves. I put a few small pleats in to make them hang better.

Then I put away all the fabric and pieces of craft that have been accumulating on top. All the yarn is back in the fiber area, in progress sewing and knitting projects each have their own space, and all the sewing tools are back where they belong.

Still need to find a good spot for the iron, but much improved!

I haven’t picked tomorrow’s Day Four area yet, but I am eyeing the drawers beside the oven in the kitchen. My family throws every kitchen related item they can’t find a place for in those drawers.

Box shelves

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Nearly a year ago we moved to a new house, a decision that made my commute to work much shorter, but my sewing space a lot more cramped.  Instead of a small dedicated room, I have the end of the family room for my crafting space.  At least it is the end with the window!

Storage is the main issue.  If I need a lot of work space, I can take over the dining room table, but that doesn’t work for storing fabric, yarn, fiber, and all the millions of doohickeys and whatsits that I accumulate.  So things are scattered in various parts of the house, and too many of the smaller items build up in the work space and get in the way.

In an effort to improve the situation, I made box shelves.

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It took a number of days.  Once I got the right wood (5″ wide hemlock boards) I went to L2’s house to get a refresher course on using a table saw.  I have a small, portable one – like most of my larger tools, it is the result of a visit by my brother.  He sees home improvements that can be made, always resulting in me owning tools that I may never use again.  (I have two jigsaws now, because I forgot I had the first one when he swung through town and needed one to work on a kitchen project for me.)

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Then L2 taught me that there are corner clamps.  I’m a fan!  And we used her air compressor (though my brother had me get one of those too) to shoot very fine nails into the secured corners to create the boxes.

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Out of two eight foot boards I got three boxes and a 4 inch left-over.  Once I was home again from my power tools seminar, I did the finishing work.  I needed to fill in a few spots – the wood putty was a bit dried out, but it worked OK – and sand.  Stain I had on hand, and I bought a small sample size of limeade colored paint for the inside.

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They aren’t perfect.  I need to remember next time to put the nails on the tops and bottoms, not on the sides where they are going to show more.  I taped the edges when I was painting, but they still aren’t perfect, so I’ll need to go buy a razor blade to clean that up.  And I haven’t yet tried the keyhole fasteners for the back that I intend to use to hang them.  (Mostly because I can’t figure out where I put them.)  But the shelves match the picture I had in my head, so I’m happy with them.

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I need to make one more, for symmetry, as they are going to hang in pairs on either side of the window, making space for button jars, thread spools, and other items that accumulate on top of the cutting and ironing surfaces.