Two Story Cottage

My Work Space off the Kitchen

Dear Friends,

I have always been a fan of the kitchen desk.  It may not always be the prettiest part of the kitchen but the function is a must in my book.  In all of our homes, I’ve created a desk area when I didn’t have one.  This home was the first to have it built right in.  The best part? It is off the kitchen so it is right there without being smack in the middle of the typical chaos.

desk_off_kitchen

After 9 months of living here, there is no doubt that I’m a super fan.

I know a lot of floor plans are adding these sorts of spaces off of kitchens and mudrooms.  The builder of this home must have been innovative because this house was built almost ten years ago.

kitchen_desk

built_in_desk

Now, don’t go thinking this looks like this all the time.  I did a little clutter clearing before I grabbed the camera.  And just my luck, I found two things I was looking for.  Imagine that.

work_nook

lamp_desk

I did not, however, style this so it is pretty much on target with the regular look.  No fresh flowers or pretend stacks of books going on here.  I have taped up art, and a hodge podge of photos and accessories.

desk_area

desk_laundry

This is not a place that I ever really set out to decorate.  What is there is what has landed there over the last half year.   Case in point, I have an empty curtain rod that I’ve yet to even think about dealing with.

I did buy that tall sorting tray at The Container Store.  It has been the perfect tool for excessive paper clutter.  Although if you look closely, I may need to tackle that and sort a little further.

My computer bag hangs on that chair so I left it there for reality’s sake.  You can see the door to the laundry room in the last picture.  That is convenient considering I’m always multi-tasking. I sit there and do work on a pretty regular basis.  In the evening I’ll sit on the sofa but any time I’m working during the day you can find me in my little nook.

Genius, right?

-Erin

Photo- Induced Reflections (Project 2015)

Dear Friends,

I’ve recently received an unexpected gift disguised as drudgery.

I’m center storm in a tornado of photos from four+  years ago and it is like living in a time warp.   Every day I get to sit down at my computer and spend an hour going through 200-300 photos moving chronologically by month (currently I’m August of 2011).  I started in March of 2010. As I move through the months, one day at a time, I am reliving those moments.  I can close my eyes and see my babies as just that.  I can remember exactly what it was like to have a 2 year old and a newborn.  Time is a strange, beautiful thing.

I’ve got one foot in the present and one precariously lodged on a ledge that crumbles as I move forward.  I’m an actual witness of our lives flashing by.  It should be sad but it isn’t that exactly. More like a feeling that leaves me breathless.

I have dreaded this like nothing else.  I hate being behind.  I detest feeling overwhelmed and thousands of pictures to wade through will do that to you.  When I made it a New Year’s goal to deal with these photos, I considered it the chore of all chores.

photo_project

But I’m really doing it.  It is January 22nd and I haven’t quit or given up.  The key is that I’ve found joy in this project.  Sure, there are moments of annoyance and frustration but the warmth of memories is balm for the frayed edges.   Tonight, after the kids are in bed, I get to see Reid’s first steps and I can’t wait.   Last night, I could see he was on the cusp and I was strangely giddy for the big reveal.

I was there but this is almost better.  I’ve read the book but this is seeing the beautifully adapted movie.  Sometimes I feel like a voyeur peeking in on someone else’s life.  Maybe it is better the second time?

If I do a month every day I still won’t be done until March.   However, on the flip side I’m 1/3 of the way there.  I might even be sad when it is over.  Luckily, I’ll have photo books to look at.  I started making Shutterfly books when Lacey was little and quit after Reid was born.  Each night, I’m adding a month to the yearbooks.  I go by birthdays so each child’s book begins & ends at a different time.

annual_photo_books

Every evening I look at the whole month of photos and select the ones for the books.  That process takes a while.  Then I complete that month in each child’s book.  Some nights it takes forever.

No joke.  Like blogging on steroids. But if I can blog, I can claw my way to the present one picture at a time.

It is a beautiful mess for sure.

-Erin

I hereby declare that I will keep up with my photos EVERY month and never get behind again. I’m thanking myself for this strange opportunity but my eyeballs might fall out if I ever have to do this again.

 

 

 

 

Mail Away Your Clutter

Dear Friends,

You know I’ve been attempting to clean out drawers, closets, and cabinets since the beginning of the year.  I’m trying to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle.  If there is such a thing for someone who likes stuff as much as I do.  I’m a practicing hypocrite but I try.

Anyway, I’ve come across clothes that I was hesitant to give away and a mountain of dvds that are no longer a necessity around here.  Survivor season three, anyone?   I find it so easy to consign the kids’ stuff but adult items can be trickier.

clutter_pic

With a google search, I found two mail-in companies where I could send off my stuff and make a little money.  With prepaid shipping labels, I was able to walk right into the post office, drop, and run.  Easy peasy and a real weight off my shoulders.

ThredUp:  Most of my old clothes I donate, but anything brand name and like new is worth a shot at ThredUp.  They sent me the bag and I filled it to the brim.  I even put an old bridesmaid dress in.

Decluttr:  I downloaded their free app which was awesome.  It allowed me to scan each of my dvds in less than ten minutes.  I had about 20 to part with.  I knew how much I was making for each one before I even sent it off.  They also take CDs but I haven’t tackled that giant yet.

Now, I didn’t make big bucks with either of these companies.  But it felt nice to get a little cash for minimal effort.  I made around $40 with Thred-Up.  I think I made close to $25 with Decluttr.  That means each item garnered just $1-$5 but I’m just thrilled because a dollar will make me holler just like Honey Boo Boo.

Do you have any place where you can upcycle your things for a little moolah?

-Erin

 

 

A Month of Drawers

Dear Friends,

January ends today.  I’m always happy to welcome the month of Feburary.  I love a new start as much as the next person but I’m ready for hearts and glitter.   The gateway to March is upon us and beyond that is spring.  I haven’t jumped ahead or anything.

I had more success organizing the past few weeks than I have in a long time.  I have One Drawer a Day to thank for that.  Posting my daily drawer on instagram kept me motivated and accountable.  Taking weekends off kept me from burning out.

 
one_drawer_day

 

drawer_collage_2

 

drawer_collage_3

 

jewelry_drawer

I managed to clean out every kitchen and bathroom drawer.  That alone makes me feel accomplished and less ho-hum.  I also did a few dresser drawers and a desk drawer or two.   I refrained from buying expensive organizers and used leftover tupperware and Target dollar aisle items.   Not fancy but practical.

I came to realize the value of focusing on one task and doing it well.  So starting next week, I’m switching the focus to closets.  I’m not going to annoy you via social media this time but I hope to stay the course.

Our closets aren’t terrible but they all need a little tune-up.

I had several readers email me about their drawer progress!  Did you participate?  Give yourself a gold star.

Thanks for the motivation, friends!

-Erin

2014: Pesky Home Goals + Pretty Pictures

Dear Friends,

I think annual house goals are a somewhat necessary evil.  The idea is to help keep me focused on tasks that need to be taken care of.  I’m hopelessly aimless if I don’t have structure and objectives.  Sigh.  I decided to be a glutton for punishment and bust out the measuring stick to see how I stacked up for last year’s house goals.

I think I was 4 for 8 or something like that.  Perhaps I should have posted my goals somewhere in the house.  Joking aside, I did make a lot of progress on the areas that are not yet complete.

C is for Craft Storage

This is at the top of my list right now.  Our guest room is nearly livable (one of last year’s goals!) but organizing my craft things would complete the cycle.  Of course, they are in a closet as opposed to a room like the space above but it works.  And the guests can keep their stuff in the suitcase.

B is for Boy Room ( A last year goal)

I sort of quit on the boy’s room after the summer.  It is in that 90% done state and just needs a few details to really take it to the next level.  It is MUCH nicer than a year ago though.   Aren’t those airplane prints awesome?

M is for Mud Room (A last year goal)

Our mud area coming in from the garage is tidy now but it still lacks personality.  My wheels are turning on that one.   It will never look like this mud space but a girl can daydream.

O is for Outside Areas

The garage is in dire need of organization.  Our corner porch is also full of kids’ toys so I need to come up with some better solutions.  A bench with storage might do the trick.  I doubt I can talk anyone into outdoor built-ins but they make good use of under the stair space.

T is for Touch-Up

I have so many areas I need to touch-up around here.  Whether it is with the magic eraser or spackle, I need to devote a day or so to a little maintenance.  I get hammer happy sometimes.   Too bad I don’t have a life-sized paintbrush.

Are you asleep yet?  This post was to remind you that I too have areas that need work.  Our house is not perfect and I do not always meet my goals.  My tagline, “work in progress” pretty much sums up life in these parts.

Do you have house goals?  Are you a go-getter or do you lose focus like I do?

-Erin

 

One Drawer A Day Challenge

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!  I’ll admit, I’m giddy for the fresh start.  The house feels clean and I’ve got excitement bubbling under the surface somewhere.   Last year I was “ho hum” but this January I’m ready.   I think I went through a months long decorating and project depression in 2013 because I lacked the desire to do anything around the house.  It was a first for me but it was just a sticky feeling that I couldn’t shake.

I finally realized that I had a lot of other life clutter that was keeping me in the “eh” category.  Getting Reid diagnosed and healthy really lifted a huge load.  Of course, going through all of that was taxing but being on this side feels good.    We also had big decisions to make last year regarding school and job stuff hanging in the balance all of which was resolved.   It was a cloudy year for sure but the sun is rising in the distance.  And the “eh” is gone!

Last January, I implemented a one drawer a day cleaning-out system that actually worked pretty well for a a few weeks.  This year, I’m at it again.  No need to change a good thing.

one_drawer_day

rules_text

*Clean out one drawer a day from any room in the house.

*Do this 5 days a week, for the month of January.

*Drawers can be in any room of the house or in a piece of furniture.

The hard part of “resolutions” is keeping up with them.  Honestly, I have found that I do better with a 5 day a week commitment vs. the full 7.  It allows me to skip on a crazy day or take the weekend off.  I do the same thing with my Bible study, my push-ups and sit-ups, and flossing.  Nope, I’m not kidding about the flossing.  That was a New Year’s resolution 8 years ago and I’m still working it.

I’m semi-organized in general which basically means I’ve got neat areas and the very polar opposite of neat areas.  I’m not going for pretty magazine-style organization because necessity isn’t always sparkly.  I don’t really like to spend money on organizational stuff so the Target dollar aisle makes that easy.  Tin buckets, plastic files, and little holders help camouflage the clutter.

drawer_challenge

I’m starting in the bathroom this year.  I’ve got makeup that needs tossing and hairbrushes that would make my grandmother  shake her finger at me.  The drawer above is a simple, small accessory spot that didn’t need a lot of tweaking.   No organizers or fancy tricks.  I just took everything out, wiped with a baby wipe, and put it back in an orderly manner.

Now, I’ve made it sound so easy.  I’m inviting you to join me.  I’m going to be updating via Facebook and instagram using #onedraweraday.  I fell off the social media wagon in the fall due to my way-too-old computer that had a severe dislike of anything from this decade.

The good news?  Santa brought me a new one.  I’m back in the game.

Join me, friends!

-Erin

P.S.  I consider the beginning of January to be today when everyone is back on a normal routine with school and preschool, not necessarily January 1st.   This week is a good place to start!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Prep Zone, Organizing the Clutter

Dear Friends,

School is around the corner.  Lacey starts kindergarten next week and I’m channeling all of my anxiety into mad-mama-on-a-mission-organizing.  Somehow, her school career seems to hinge on my ability to separate crayons and markers.

It feels like before you go on a vacation where you must clean the house from top to bottom instead of packing.  All of a sudden, I’m meal prepping, purging files, and creating chaos.

I’m sharing our simple attempt to streamline the school madness today over at The Handmade Home.

school_prep_zone

We have a new addition to the mudroom (hall!) that is making things easier for sure.  The old toy storage is quite the work horse.  It now serves as a drop zone for the kids.  I like having a separate space for their stuff.   It fosters independence and reduces nagging from you-know-who.

mudroom_drop_zone

With the new drop zone, the school info board, and art gallery wall I’m cautiously optimistic that we can conquer the crazy when it comes.

And it will.

For more on the whole shebang, head over to The Handmade Home.    I’ll be at the pool, enjoying my last week of summer.  🙂

-Erin

Clever Design Ideas

Dear Friends,

   I’ve been in a thoughtful mode lately.  One of my goals in our home is to make design as practical as possible while maintaining a certain aesthetic.  Running around doing projects is great, but sometimes a little planning goes a long way.
Case in point?  All of these clever ideas that were so thoughtfully employed.   Practicality meets beauty and all that good stuff.
Around the window bookcases.
Sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration to get the wheels turning.  
Happy Friday!

Attractive, Visible Coat Storage {A Glimpse of the Living Room}

Dear Friends,
Have you ever heard of the game musical coats?  It is similar to our all-time favorite game, musical furniture.  Once upon a time, I moved the coats from the hall (coat) closet to the little space under the stairs so that we could turn the hall closet into a pantry.  Well, that worked okay except I could no longer find a place for the vacuums and mops.  The laundry room isn’t an option so they ended up in the future pantry with no place to go.

Do you follow?  No?  I don’t either.  Someone didn’t think through that plan.

{third time is the charm}

The coats were about to be relegated to the garage but I found a new solution via my favorite catalog Ballard Designs.  Thank goodness because I was worried about mice getting in the garage and chewing through my coat pockets.  Let’s just not go there.  Don’t ask.

One of my favorite things about Ballard is their weekly specials which usually include awesome full-priced items with a significant savings.

Hello, Niles Double Coat Rack.  
Hello, beautiful, visible coat storage.

Prettier than most coat closets I’d say.
Almost a mini-mudroom.
Okay, that makes me feel better about my unproductive week this week.
Proof of progress.
Believe it or not, I got rid of several coats in the process.
There is room for more on the other side should we ever need it.
Some of those coats are 10+ years old but we still wear them.
I have a thing for iron and this coat rack is no exception.

As you can see, the coat rack is in the living room-study-piano room.  It is a small space and the more purpose that room serves, the better.  It also helps that it is just a few feet from the front door, yet it isn’t visible from the foyer.

The best part about this?  The coat check.  I had my church small group over for an ornament exchange during Christmas and everyone got a kick out of my VIP coat check.  It happened to be pouring rain that night so the space was really useful.  We rarely entertain but it makes for a fun gimmick for guests.

The curtains?  I sewed them.  For real y’all.  Those lessons are paying off.  I got the fabric from Jo-Ann at a 40% savings and wow, you can save a lot of money if you sew.  I didn’t follow any kind of tutorial; I just looked at a store-bought panel from my stash and copied the seam allowances.

I also already had the frames and used fabric inside for a graphic look.  The picture in the middle is my husband’s grandfather.  It is fitting for him to have a spot since we have the giant portrait of my husband’s grandmother on the other wall.

The light is from the family room (musical furniture!) and the mat is from the foyer.  Do you see why I needed a new foyer rug?  That one was way too small anyway.

I’ll get to the rest of the room later.  There is a chair next to the lamp and a possible side table but that spot isn’t quite done.

Hooray for sunshine so I can take pictures for blogging!

*I’m linking up with Amanda from Serenity Now.

Pesky Home Goals + Pretty Pictures

Dear Friends,
It is that time of year.  Everyone is declaring goals and objectives.  Looking at the big picture sometimes makes me think of all the millions of things it takes to get there.  Which in turn makes me want to curl up on the couch and watch guilty pleasure television.   Honey Boo Boo, anyone?

That being said I do have a few obvious things that need tending to this year.

P is for Pantry.

The lack of a closet pantry has been my biggest challenge in this home.  I’m always careful not to buy in bulk.  I’m ready for some storage.  So, the former coat closet by the garage is going to be a pantry.  Of course that starts a storage shift but we will cover that later.

W is for Window Treatments.

This is a big one.  I want roman shades in the kitchen.  I’d like wood blinds AND drapes in the family room.  I know, I’m greedy like that.  But I’m looking to go cheap with a not-so-cheap look so follow along as I figure that out.

G is for Guest Room.

Guests?  What guests?  Our guest room is the current storage facility.  There is a crib, two extra chairs, and a coffee table crammed in there with the bed.  And I can’t even see the bedding right now due to a giant piece of foam.  So scary the door is closed so we can pretend it isn’t there.

F is for Finishing. 

The breakfast area is almost there.  A few finishing touches and we can declare the kitchen done.  The living room/study/piano/who-knows-what-that-room-is-called is looking pretty close to the beginning level of finished.  That means it will look done but without super extra awesome details to come later.

B is for Boy Room.

We worked on Reid’s room over the break.  It hasn’t been painted yet but it now houses a big boy bed and looks like an actual kid’s space.  This is much improved over the single crib with zero furniture.  I can’t wait to share that as I go.

M is for Mud Room Area.

We don’t have an actual mud room here but I’d like to make the mud space feel a little more room-like. Yes, I still miss my old mud room.  It pretty much rocked.  Of course the one above, really rocks.

C is for Craft Storage

I’ve got construction paper in our bedroom, craft paint in the guest room, glue in the laundry room, and markers in the breakfast area.  You get the picture.  It is disjointed.  It would be nice to have it all together in one nice place.  Where that is – I don’t know.

F is for Family Room

Painted bookcase backs have begun.  Window treatments should really amp things up.  I want our most used space to be one of our favorites.

About that mind-numbing television.   It is a good thing the Bachelor starts soon.   Do you have any big home goals this year?

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