Getting organized

Here is the thing, I am envious.

I am envious of Samantha over at The Renovation Diaries because she is smack dab in the middle of renovation mayhem. I am envious of the posts I read on my favorite blogs because these women have found the time or made the time to share their thoughts and ideas without being up at 3:45AM. 

But I shouldn't be envious. The thing is that I have a 2 month old baby and a toddler and a house that needs all kinds of attention and a head that is so full of ideas it fills like its going to explode. And browsing Pinterest and reading my favorite blogs only reminds me of the projects I am not doing and the time I don't simply have. And that makes me envious. And I don't like how that makes me feel.

And what is worse, is that all these ideas and all that thinking about what I want to do on this house is keeping me from being present to the two littles who need my attention the most right now and taking care of myself, which is what I said was my one and only priority for 2012. So when the baby sleeps, I need to sleep. And I need to choose 10 minutes of meditation over 10 minutes on Pinterest and yoga over the flea market. Argh, I just want to do it all.

But I can't. So, I need to compartmentalize and that means getting organized.

It means organizing my time to allow for browsing my favorite web sites, writing a blog post myself or meandering the flea market. It means choosing which small projects I could work on and when. It means setting aside the time to create and dream and plan. It means getting myself onto my meditation pillow for somehow when I find the time to sit, I am able to access the well of patience that allows me to be with things (and this house), just the way it is.

My first organization project: creating a weekly schedule. The second organization project: the house binder.

My pile of magazine tears plus...

some hand drawn ideas plus some plastic page protectors...

plus Domino's manifesto (I think I need to frame this one)...

and you get one little binder that is ready for the next step.

Let the "meet your architect" process begin.


A solution for shoes

Do you remember the bench?

First it was our dining room table bench as seen here. Then it was a window bench with toy storage as seen here. (This was my favorite use for it by the way.)

And now it serves to answer the question"Do you want us to take off our shoes?"

I wish I could say that this bench solution means that there is not a pile of ungodly shoes lying on top of each other right as you enter our house, but there is. It is only meticulously clean for 5 minutes after our wonderful Dinora vacuums or I straighten them up when I just can't stand to look at them anymore.

But you get the idea and I like looking at this tidy picture. 

Finally, the kitchen

Do you have drafts of emails sitting in your draft folder that have been there for, oh I don't know, weeks? No, you say. Well, I do and they hang in the back of my mind like a laundry forgotten on a clothes line. And what is worse, I have drafts of blog posts hanging out in my iPhone, just waiting for the moment when I can snap that one photo or write those few words and these have done little things make me absolutely mad. Like in crazy and insane.

This post was one of those. So, finally, I present to you the finished kitchen.

I have shared bits and pieces of corners and appliances but never really the full view. We have been living in for months, so the novelty is a bit less shiny as it was when first it was complete, but now that I see the dreariness and datedness of the old oak cabinets and sad appliances, I have to smile. 

Budget is a big deal for us and a significant part of this project haus is to stay within a very tight budget for each project we choose to complete. That means splurging on what is most important (to us) and be savvy consumers on the rest. We planned on $10K for this kitchen reno and ended up spending about $11K, which included:

- Repainting all the cabinets
- Replacing all hardware
- Adding crown molding
- Removing dated details and repaired granite countertop
- Adding new Miele dishwasher
- Adding new microwave
- Adding new stainless French door refrigerator
- Adding new restaurant grade double faucet
- Adding new CB2 lamp in breakfast nook
- Reupholstering nook seat cushions
- Sewing new pillows for nook
- Building new table for nook
- Transforming pantry into large storage closet

Lessons learned:

- No one will ever paint as meticulously as you paint (if you happen to like painting) so find someone who gets really close and then just inspect their work over and over again

- Have everything in writing, especially when it comes to expectations and money

- IKEA hardware can make a huge difference for a fraction of the price (just make sure to pick the right style)

- CB2 has fantastic light fixtures at fantastically reasonable prices

- Appliance shopping is terribly overwhelming but at the end of the day, Sears came through with the best deal

- Splurge on your priorities, you will appreciate it them everyday

- Oil based paint is so crazy smelly, but totally worth it for covering oak and other wood finishes

- Bottle sprayed painting leaves a gentle spray of color in all kinds of places, that you slowly discover months after the work is done

- You get what you pay for, most of the time


Pantry mentality

I think this ginormous closet in our kitchen must have been a pantry. A "shop at Costco or make everything from scratch and canning and jamming" kind of pantry.

For a city dweller and non-cook, I had no idea what to do with all this kitchen storage. I had visions of a laundry closet or a craft table or an office nook. I am still hooked on the idea of an office nook but as I began to realize, storage in the kitchen is actually quite important. I know, I am a slow learner.

So, now it's full. And now that I see the images, I much like the empty closet space better but it is functional and spacious and well lit. Everything has its place.


Saturday morning mess

I started to say "Do you want to watch a movie?" and am so very glad he didn't hear me or at least didn't respond. I am glad because my reason for asking was purely selfish: it would mean that I would have less of a mess to clean up.

But instead, I stepped away and just the next 20 minutes unfold.

It was in my stepping away that allowed the play to begin. Because if I had supervised, I would have steered the creativity into "less messy" options and made suggestions that would have not wasted 1/2 a roll of paper towel. But in stepping away and doing my own thing, unsupervised paint time led to:

A roll of paper towel becoming a street, the blank canvases becoming a cake with the paint being the dough, a handful of crayons being stripped of their paper shell to become something I don't totally comprehend and the boy covered in blue and green paint. 

Yes, there was a mess to clean up and yes, this was only possible on our enclosed porch because in 6 months the whole thing is going to get torn apart. There is paint in the floor that won't come off, I learned that red plus blue plus yellow paint makes a dreary brown similar to the color of our house and I discovered that crayons only need about 15 minutes in the roasting sun before they melt into an oozing rendition of their former selves and then only 2 minutes to cool and harden into an irremovable glob of color.

Yes, it was a mess.

But I think he and I both learned so much more than if I had plopped him in front of another episode of Thomas.