Friday, January 29, 2010

Tip of the Week - Craigs List

If you've read my blog posts about organizing, you probably know I have a deep and abiding LOVE for Craig's List. I have furnished, repurposed and redecorated, sold and furnished yet again many items in my condo. (Probably more purchasing than reselling, but whatever). I shop for family and friends. I find so many cute things for so little $$ that I seriously have considered going into business purchasing, fixing and reselling stuff. The only thing that holds me back is 1) 650 sq. foot condo so no space. 2) a small-ish Saturn car so no way to pick up the large items. 3) my predisposition to hyper focus and become a wee bit obsessive about things but easily distracted so follow-through is an issue. (That last one is hard to admit to.)

Lets back up a step. Do you know what Craig's List is? It's free (!!) online classified ads for stuff, jobs, housing, and other things I don't pay attention to. I focus on the stuff. You choose your city and search for anything, say 1960's or walnut, or dresser. Since it's free to post and it's free to buy, you can find a bunch of neat, local things. Anywho, onto the tip.

The listings on Craig's List are just a bunch of titles. It's not like eBay where you see the picture and the title. If you use Firefox as your browser (and you should, it's great) you can use an "add-ons" (little program or widgets) to add the pictures to listings. That way you can quickly scroll through volumes of ads glancing at the photo and not even having to read each title. I stop when I see something good looking then read the details. If it's not cheap enough, I move on.

Go here to get Firefox. Add-ons are available at the top of the page, just click and search for Craigs List. There are about 1/2 dozen add-ons that will come up. The program I use is called CLIP:CraigsList Image Prefetcher. There is a suggested donation of $.99 cents for this add-on and it's so worth it. Choose Add to Firefox and follow the on screen directions.

It's so simple! Here's hoping you'll find it as addictive as I do.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Decorate - An Unexpected Pop of Color

This is a great idea I read somewhere on the Interweb (can't remember where). But I think it's really fun. 


Aren't they great looking? And so easy. I used these:
purchased at my local Home Depot for $1.70 each plus a $.50 piece of scrapbook paper. They are meant for wallpaper but work fab with the bazillion scrapbook papers out there. For only $2.20 and a few minutes work, you can add an unexpected pop of color and pattern anywhere. Plus they are so easy to change out when you feel like mixing things up a little. They also make the outlet covers. So add these little babies to your Home Depot shopping list. If you are like me, you are there more often than the grocery store.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's Craft Time! - Paper Book Vase

I want to make one of these pretty vases from old books from Sweet Paul. There is a great tutorial here. I was especially impressed with the price tag of this little gem. The book cost me $.49 cents at the thrift store and the little knife was $1 from the Dollar Store. Cute, Thrifty, Easy -- My kind of project!

My version didn't turn out as pretty. I started out with my template, but widened it. Turns out the skinner version would have been better. (The Dilbert book makes me laugh inside. I used to work at a large corporation and swore that Scott Adams sat next to me because my office was so much like what he wrote about.)

This is how my first attempt looked (yes first, as in multiple).I had a bit of trouble. As I cut through the layers of the book I unintentionally started to angle the blade of the knife, leaving some odd angles in the middle. I took the scissors to it and cut small chunks at a time and it looked better.

On my second try I rounded the bottom corner. It still looked like a blob. On my third try I cut the top part on an angle and lopped off a chunk of book. 

Here is how the final version turned out. 


Still not very vase like. I had to "fluff" the book up because the pages globbed all together. I could have tried a fourth version; however, my attention started to wander and I decided I was done. Will I proudly display this piece of art? Probably for a week or so (just because I'm stubborn), but long term it will be stored in the recycling bin. 

Did you try the project? Leave a comment and let me know how your version turned out! 

Update: I wrote this post several days ago. Since then I had a quick visit from my brother (who has very expensive taste and isn't into crafty stuff). He saw the vase and said it looked cool. Cool! Maybe mine is just lonely. I think it won't have to live out it's days in the recycle bin after all. Stay tuned for versions #4 and #5.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Unfinished Gifts of Christmas Past

Do you have homemade gifts that weren't finished in time for Christmas? From last year too? I do. 
I mean, it's not unusual for me to have UFOs (UnFinished Objects) hanging around the house for a couple of years(!), or until I do a major declutter and they get passed on to a friend or donated. But I feel particularly bad about having unfinished Christmas gifts lingering. I had good intentions. I had plenty of time. I had the supplies and even started. I just didn't have the "whatever"to finish. 

The unfinished Christmas gifts make me feel guilty. Like I'm somehow disrespecting the person they were intended for by not finishing them. The giftee received something else just as lovely, just not made from my marvelous hands. 

What about you? What's your guilty unfinished project secret?

Monday, January 25, 2010

In the Kitchen - Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

If you love peanut butter this mega dose sandwich cookie is for you. This recipe is from Martha Stewart (Martha, Martha, Martha). They taste de-lish. Enjoy!

The dough in this recipe will freeze, well wrapped, for up to 3 months.

Prep: 25 minutes
Total: 40 minutes, plus chilling


Makes 30
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar


  1. In a bowl, whisk together baking soda, salt, and 2 cups flour; set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until light and fluffy; beat in egg. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture, beating just until combined (do not overmix). 
  2. Form dough into two 8-inch-long rectangular logs. Wrap each log in waxed or parchment paper; freeze until firm, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. With a sharp knife, slice dough 1/4 inch thick; place on two baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake until cookies are puffed, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.
  4. Make filling: In a saucepan, whisk milk and 2 tablespoons flour over medium until thickened, 2 minutes; let cool. In a bowl, using mixer, beat together 1/2 cup peanut butter and granulated sugar; beat in cooled milk mixture. Spread smooth sides of half the cookies with 1 tablespoon filling; sandwich with remaining cookies. (To store, keep in an airtight container, up to 5 days.)
From Everyday Food, April 2009

Helpful Hints

Freezing the dough for an hour makes it firm so it's easier to slice. Use a small paring knife for a clean and even cut. Also, in step 4 make sure the milk is really cooled. I hurried this step and the filling was loose until it cooled more and thickened up.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Organizing Clutter

I live in a condo that is about 650 square feet with my teenage son, a dog who sheds enough hair to make another dog, and a cat. Storage is at a premium. In my quest to destuffify (made up word) my basement storage locker, I listed a few things for sale on Craig's List (LOVE LOVE Craig's List) because we all know you can't organize clutter (Thanks Flylady!). 

Wait, you didn't know that? It's true. I used to think it was a bunch of hooey. I mean my precious stuff was neatly contained in storage boxes, lovingly labeled (I love to label things) and stored on a pretty metal shelf in a room solely dedicated to the storage of stuff in my large basement (previous house). Of course it was organized!

Maybe, technically it was, you would think. That is if you didn't understand that clutter and organization are diametrically opposed.  Clutter can't be organized. Clutter sucks the life out of you. It weighs down on you, being dragged from place to place.  It consumes space and time and thought. It's MESSY! Even though my stuff was contained, I didn't realize it was EMOTIONAL clutter.

As an example, I had my wedding dress (a cute white cotton summer dress with an embroidered bodice) stored. It wasn't "preserved" or anything. It was just folded up in a tub where it yellowed on the crease lines. The funny thing was I WAS DIVORCED ABOUT 12 YEARS. Why I still held onto the dress was a mystery. Actually it wasn't. I was a "Keeper". I kept things because it was too hard to throw them away. Who wants to get rid of their wedding dress?! So I stowed it away in a box neatly labeled "Kathleen's Keepsakes". I moved that box with me. I looked at that box and that dress and felt bad. I was divorced a long time for goodness sakes. What was I holding onto? It was just clutter and needed to be gone. I still had the memories (and pictures) of that beautiful dress. So out it went. Emotional and physical clutter gone!

Think of how much better you would feel without all that STUFF hanging around, either physically or emotionally. I was ruthless and decluttered my beautiful storage room. Keepsakes that were only "keep for the sake of I can't throw it away because I'm a Keeper" got tosses or donated. Boxes were consolidated, new labels were made (swoon). I was left with boxes filled with things I truly loved and made me feel good or were useful (like Christmas decorations).  All the emotional clutter was gone! (Well not all, just the stuff that was contained in boxes, you understand.) It was much easier to make my last move because I had so much less stuff. (I still had too much to move into a 650 sq. ft condo, but that's another story). 

With this last round of decluttering I can walk around my storage locker. I can twirl in circles and access boxes (of good stuff, not clutter) without moving a bunch of chairs and other items. I still have some things to get rid of, like my camping gear (I haven't been camping in, oh, 10 years or so... CLUTTER (sing song voice).)

Decluttering is a process, like peeling an onion. You take it layers and pieces at a time. Sometimes there might be a few tears. But in the end you can be left with something very satisfying - peace of mind and empty space. 

Organizing the Storage Locker

Hi there! Welcome to my inaugural post on my blog. This should be fun!!

One of my projects for the New Year is to organize my basement storage locker. It is packed and to get to anything I have to move dining chairs (another project) out of the way. So organization involves destuffifying (made up word) it. I listed 2 black leather slipper chairs I'd been holding onto for a couple of years (with no possible place to put them in the condo) for sale on Craig's List. (I LOVE LOVE Craig's List.) They sold within 3 days. Score! The young couple who purchased them drove 45 minutes to my condo and could only fit one chair in their car (these chairs are huge ... what were they thinking?). Today they made a second trip in their SUV to get the second chair. Here's a picture of the chair. Cute, Comfy and now Gone!
Bolstered by my success, I listed a metal bookshelf for sale (I should have dusted it first!). This sold in 2 days. It was picked up today. Gone!
On a roll, I listed these Mid Century Modern hanging light fixtures for sale. I purchased these for a steal on Craig's List 2-ish years ago. That was before I understood that you can't really hang something from a cement ceiling. In my defense, I didn't know it was cement. It's covered by a thick layer of white fluffy stuff (probably asbestos). Someone has committed to picking them up in 2 days. Almost Gone!
With this new influx of cash, I'll fund a couple decorating projects I've had on the back burner. Stay tuned for more info on these.