A closet project

I have a small bedroom.   I try to focus on what I like about the room. I have a large south facing window. I like the yellow walls and the green bed. I have a good ceiling fan and a ‘just the right size’ bookcase. But the closet is small and I have a love/hate relationship with my black wire shelving unit in the corner of the room.



I love it because it holds lots of stuff, is easy to keep tidy and I can see all my choices easily. On the hate side I didn’t like having a huge stack of clothes in the corner of my small room.

When I first set up the room I tried to buy a small wicker armoire off Craig’s List but it didn’t work out.  I decided to use this black wire shelf that we already had until I found what I was looking for.  I kept looking for a few months but never really found anything that would fit the space well.  A year later I was still using the shelf.

That does not mean that I had given up on finding a solution.  Moving away from the armoire idea I began to study my closet.  There was some vertical space I wasn’t using and I researched possible shelving additions.



The before shot of my closet.  On the top shelf all I had were my pajamas. (yes my clothes are pretty much always this neat.)


I had  a six cube storage piece on the other side of the closet that I used for some summer items.

I have to admit I am a big fan of Cube Storage systems.  I have one in my office that I love.   It is very versatile.

I decided the answer was…more Cubes!

I put a second 6 cube piece on the left side of the closet.  I put a 9 cube piece where the wire shelf was.


I turned the clothes on the top row on their sides to make them easier to reach.  I may still need a step stool though. This side has my winter items: sweaters, sweatshirts, long sleeve t-shirts.



This side has my summer items: shorts, capris, t-shirts.




In the five bins I put my pj’s, workout t-shirts and bathing suits.  Now I also have a place to put the books and magazines that had been piled on the floor next to the bed.

I need to live with it for awhile and see how it feels.  I am wondering if it is going to be a pain keeping the piles neat, too hard to reach the items on the top shelf or if I am just not going to like it.  I am disappointed that I didn’t instantly fall in love with my new system but I am going to give it some time.  It will be easy enough to undo if it doesn’t work out.

An added bonus was another round of clothing purging.  It gets easier each time to be more honest about which clothes I really don’t like, don’t wear or don’t fit comfortably.


Two more bags of clothes for Goodwill.

So there you have it, one more idea for an inexpensive closet makeover.

The grass is greener in my backyard

We will have been in our house 5 years this July. That is the longest I have ever lived in the same place and it feels odd not to be thinking about moving. So my husband and I decided to think about moving.
We like our house but there are some things we would love to change if we could:

1. Our neighborhood is okay, but there are a lot of rentals. So far we have been pretty lucky with our neighbors but who knows what the future holds. And with the houses right next door and directly across the street both being rentals it is a very real concern. When we bought our house we had no idea how many rentals were on our street (and didn’t think to ask) and several more have changed from owner occupied to rentals since we moved in. I think this is because they bought when the market was high and can’t afford to sell or just don’t want to take the loss.

2. My husband’s truck is too long to fit in our garage and barely fits in the driveway. There is also no good place to park the trailer when we load and unload it for trips.

3.  There is no storage other than the garage.  This is typical for homes here.  I miss having a basement.

4.  My son’s bedroom is small so we have turned what should be the formal living room into a play area.  I am okay with that except it is right by the front door and open to the rest of the first floor. We have created a contained space with storage furniture and manage to keep most of the mess in that one area.  But it is not ideal.

So I decided to take a look and see what was available if we upped our price range $100,000 or maybe even a little more.  What I found:

We could get a much bigger yard, decent driveway and a 3 car garage providing a lot more storage.  There would still be a few rentals but not as many as in our current neighborhood.  With a larger lot creating more privacy and space between houses it is a little less of a concern.  I don’t think the rentals are hurting property values too much in the areas we are looking.

But the houses themselves seem a step back for the most part.  Most had a little more square footage but still had small bedrooms or only three bedrooms instead of the four we currently have. I didn’t find a kitchen/family room combo that I liked nearly as well as our current layout.   There wasn’t a single kitchen that wow’d me.  Many of the houses were quite dated.  Are we the only one’s to replace those brass wall sconces and foyer lights?

By looking around it really gave us many things to think about.  We would much rather use our money for travel and retirement savings than increase our mortgage payment.  There are some things we can do to improve our storage and we know the play area situation won’t last forever.  But we can’t change the make-up of our neighborhood  and even without rentals you never know when your neighbor will change and if it will be for the better or not.  We also can’t do anything about the driveway but we have lived with it for five years and survived okay.  My son’s bedroom will continue to be small but the overall house size is good.  (And I really don’t want to clean more anyway.)

I doubt we will move but it may be a good thing to look into every now and then.  It has certainly helped me look at all we have as opposed to what we don’t have.  I am feeling more appreciative of our home these days and looking forward to making more changes to really make it ours.


This is actually our side yard but still, pretty green!

Resuming the routine despite the thyroid

“Her normal life pleased her so well that she was half afraid to step out of its frame in case one day she should find herself unable to get back.” Jan Struther from “Mrs. Miniver Comes Home”.


I was a little worried about what life would be like after Spring Break.  Would I be able to resume my yoga and writing and ten thousand steps?  So far the answer is yes!  And that was despite horrible allergies that led to a sinus infection.

I have also been so very tired and very impatient, a result probably linked to my thyroid.  It seems every spring when my allergies start up my thyroid symptoms return.  So far I have been able to push through my days but I go to bed really early.  Most nights I am asleep between 8:30 and 9:00p.  My eating habits are horrible. All I want to do is eat and eat junk food.  I am not hungry in the slightest and I find myself foraging around the kitchen looking for candy or cookies.  It has been really bad.  It is a real challenge to distract myself from food. I am blaming this on my thyroid too.

Just knowing that I feel bad because of my thyroid helps.  I use to think I was losing my mind or a really mean, terrible person or incredibly lazy.  I have to remind myself that this is a chronic condition, that I will have bad days or off days.  Yesterday I only walked nine thousand steps because I wanted to try and save some energy for my bowling night.  It didn’t work but at least I tried something. 

So now I have done what you are not supposed to do.  I found an old bottle of lower dose thyroid medication and increased my dosage by the same increment my doctor usually increases it.  And we will see what happens.  If I feel better then I know I need to go to the doctor and get tested and officially get my dosage adjusted. And if I don’t feel better?  I don’t even want to think about that.

In the meantime I will keep walking on the treadmill and working on my latest project (to be revealed in a future blog post!).  I have also requested “The Omnivores Dilemma”  from the library in the hopes that reading about healthy eating will actually help me eat healthier.  The book is by Michael Pollan and I already read  “In Defense of Food” and found it very enlightening.  I will try to enjoy this last month of my school routine.  Yup, my son’s school gets out mid-May and then I get to develop a new rhythm for my days, which of course will really be our days.  I am looking forward to our days together.  I hope my thyroid cooperates.



Random things making me feel happy this week:


1.  I am enjoying the fact that the weather hasn’t turned hot yet.  I am still taking the dog for a walk every morning, admiring the mountains against a blue sky not yet hazy with heat and saving money by not having to turn the a/c on.

2.  My hummingbirds have hatched but I haven’t been able to get a really good picture of them yet.  They are so tiny!  Here are some pictures of the Mama bird giving them breakfast.

Can you see the tiny beak sticking up?

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I have been cautious about taking pictures, not wanting to alarm the mother or lose an eye to that long beak!  It was on the chilly, breezy side this morning so the babies are huddled down.





3.  This plant in front of my house smells just like honeysuckle, I love it.



4.  “Mr. Selfridge” and all the other upcoming delicious PBS shows.  I am most looking forward to the one about the three nurses in WWI, “The Crimson Field”.


It is good to feel happy. I hope there are a few happy things going on in your life too!

it only took me months and months…..

Our master bath needs a makeover but it is not going to happen anytime soon. It is all white, that is the way it was when we bought the house 5 years ago. I have tried to add color through bits of nautical themed decor but honestly I don’t pay much attention to the bathroom. I go in, do what I need to and get out. The alcove where the toilet is still needed a pop of color. So I made a collage a few months ago. I took a canvas art board covered it with blue tissue paper and then layered on blue pictures I cut out of magazines. It was actually rather fun and relaxing. I took my time and after a few weeks I finished it. And then I needed to find a frame. I kept looking at Goodwill over the course of months, yes, months. I never did find one. Today I saw there were frames on sale at Michael’s and I made the trek, spent $7 and voila….



I took it at a bit of an angle to avoid the flash.

It feels good to finally finish and I have to say I love my homemade artwork.  Certainly not perfect but it is unique and was inexpensive and fun to do.  And now there is one less totally white wall in my bathroom.

Treadmill computer desk


Here is my treadmill desk before the makeover:



I don’t know why it looks so tilty, it never felt tilted.



A few years ago I created this sort of treadmill desk and I love it. I found the idea on the internet and adapted a few different designs together to fit my treadmill. I originally tried using just the SurfShelf but it was too high for me to type comfortably .  So I bought a piece of  styrofoam insulation board and cut it into pieces with a box cutter.   I stacked them up, added 2 door stops to compensate for the slope of the treadmill handles and that made the ‘desk’ portion for my wireless keyboard and mouse.

I use it quite a bit. There is no guilt browsing blog sites or Pinterest when you are also getting your ten thousand steps a day in.   I also find it helpful sometimes to walk while I am writing, helps my brain focus.  While the desk works well it wasn’t very attractive.  I had considered painting it or covering it with contact paper but never got around to it.  Then I was looking for fabric to make a curtain for our trailer when I found his material:


I really liked it but what could I use it for?  Aha, the treadmill desk.

It was so easy. I used a hot glue gun to attach the layers of styrofoam together and then covered the joined layers with the material. I still have two separate pieces with two door stops in between to adjust for the slope of the treadmill handles. My laptop still sits on the SurfShelf. I can reach the treadmill controls underneath the SurfShelf.
The material is flannel and provides enough friction that nothing is sliding around but the mouse still works great on the soft flannel surface.  Gluing the pieces together stopped  minor squeaking too.


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Yes, I did write this entire post while walking on my treadmill.



For Spring break this year my husband and I decided to take our 7 year old for his second trip to Disneyland. I wasn’t real excited about going and not sure why. Our first trip 2 years ago was great and I surprised myself by what I good time I had.

One should listen to that little voice though.

The first potential problem was Ethan getting sent home from school on Thursday with 102 temperature. Okay, we weren’t leaving until Sunday so he had time to get well.  Yes,  it was hard getting everything done and taking care of a sick child, but we made it happen.
The second piece of bad news: while checking the park hours I discovered ‘The Matterhorn’ and ‘Peter Pan’ (among others) were closed for refurbishment. The first two rides we had planned to ride, ‘ The Matterhorn’ and ‘Peter Pan’. Seriously?  Seriously. I kid you not.
The final straw: Standing in line to enter the park I am studying my ticket. The ticket my husband had bought 4 days previously on-base. Black-out dates?  “Uh, husband, what is today’s date?”  I ask in a panic. Yup, the tickets could not be used the 2 weeks around Easter or the two weeks after Christmas. Oh crap.

There is no way one can take a 7 year old to the entrance of Disneyland and then not actually go in.  I wanted to be mad at someone.  Yes, it would have been helpful  when Ken bought the tickets if the seller had mentioned they couldn’t be used the next two weeks.  It would have been nice if Ken had actually looked at the tickets when he bought them.  I wish I had looked at the lower two-thirds of the tickets when I was taking pictures of the bar codes in case we lost them.  I had to admit there really wasn’t anyone to be mad at.

After talking over our options we decided to save the tickets for another trip (they are good for six months) and bought one day passes to Disneyland.  The whole morning felt a little hollow though and when our wait for a table for lunch stretched from 30 minutes to over an hour I decided to give in.  This was not going to be the happiest place on earth for me today.  I was having a crappy day at Disneyland.  So be it.

Then we finally got seated for lunch.  And things started to get better!  I had grilled sea bass and roasted vegetables which were really tasty.  Right after lunch we had a fastpass for Indiana Jones.  This was our first time riding it as E wasn’t tall enough last trip.  Maybe going right after lunch wasn’t the best choice but we both decided it was our new favorite ride.

At the end of the day I realized I had had a pretty good day after all.  Six happy things about the day:

1.  My son had a GREAT day!

2.  I had a good hair day, that sea air added a little something to my curls.

3.  I didn’t get sunburned, something I had been quite worried about.  Most of the rides have lots of shade for the wait in line.

4.  I had grilled sea bass and roasted veggies for lunch, tasty and healthy!

5.  I got to ride 3 rides that I didn’t go on during the first trip:  ‘Dumbo’, ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Astroblaster’ and loved them all.

6.  I found these really cute salt and pepper shakers:



The rest of the week went okay too.  We spent time in Disney Downtown having a nice lunch at the Rainforest Cafe,  Ethan built “Disney” the elephant at Build-A-Bear and made race cars at the Lego store.  We bought souvenirs and I scored this really cool Minnie Mouse lunch box at CVS for $5.



The next day we went to the beach and had lunch at a park with a playground.  The last day we hung out at the campground playing games and swimming in the heated pool.

While it wasn’t the Spring break we had planned it turned out to be a nice vacation.  The most important part still happened:  we spent lots of family time together.  And a bonus?  We get to plan another trip to Disneyland for later this year!

Best smile of the trip!


Two random things



(I wrote the first draft of this post a week before leaving on vacation with the intention of polishing and posting the day before I left.  I was so crazy busy that I completely forgot to do it!)



I have read several blogs where people wrote “30 things to do before turning 30” type lists. With the big 5-0 coming up next year I wondered if I should make such a to-do list. Thirty seconds later I realized I didn’t want to put that kind of pressure on myself. And that 50 was a lot of things to accomplish in one year. I did like the concept though and used it as a springboard to make a list of things to do if I feel bored or stuck or simply discontent with life. I didn’t strive for a set number of activities but simply wrote down anything that appealed to me. Then I re-wrote it onto a plain piece of drawing paper. I put a little box next to each item so I can check it off when done. I decorated the page with stickers and used colored pencils to add a little more color. And then I sat back and smiled, feeling better already about the future, knowing I have a plan for the next time a case of the blahs kick in.

We have a hummingbird using our clothesline as a maternity ward!  This means we are very quietly opening the back patio door and hugging the wall of the house when we go out back.  I guess I won’t be hanging any clothes on the clothesline for a few weeks but I am okay with that.


Here is the nest, tiny but deep.



So you can get a perspective of where she actually built it.



Two little eggs the size of jelly beans.  It was hard to see them or get a picture because the nest is so deep and is near the top of the patio roof beam.


The alert Mama protecting her eggs.


Can you see the Mama watching me from a nearby tree? (She is right in the middle.)

I try to only go outside when she is already away from her nest.  I took the pictures of the eggs in the evening when I imagine she was out looking for some dinner.  The only time she has seemed perturbed with me was early in the week when I was outside too long bringing in laundry.   She was fine when I hung the laundry out though I left her a bit of space at the end of the clothesline. This was before I realized she had actually laid some eggs.

Next week we will be away so she should have the peace and quiet an imminent mother needs.  Hopefully the week after that the eggs will hatch and we’ll get to see the teeny tiny baby birds without losing an eye to a defensive hummingbird!