Monday, October 12, 2015

I finally have a linen closet!

When I bought my house, there were a couple of storage issues that I knew I would have to contend with in order to feel like I could stay at least mostly organized. 

First of all, there was no coat closet.  Who builds a house without a coat closet in a climate where people legitimately wear outerwear at least 6 months of the year?  The corollary to this statement is that there was also no good place to put a vacuum.  Thankfully, this was something my contractors were able to rectify by taking a few square feet out of the downstairs bedroom and adding a door in the hall. 

The second storage issue was the linen closet.  Again, who builds a house without a linen closet, particularly when the only full bath is too small to accommodate any additional free-standing furniture?  Clearly the 1950s were a simpler time.  People mustn't have had extra towels!  It was much trickier to rob space from a bedroom for this issue without making it challenging to fit a bed in the bedroom against a solid wall instead of against windows.  My solution was to find a piece of furniture to place in the upstairs hallway.  It couldn't be deeper than 14-15 inches to allow easy passage in the hall, so my options were limited. 

Last weekend, I spied this beauty at Goodwill for the reasonable price of $50.  It didn't smell foul and the hardware was in good working order.  The finish is worn here and there and the hardware is tarnished, but the piece still caught my eye.  My friend's husband was getting off work at a nearby store and was able to bring it home in his truck and help me carry it up the stairs.

Today, I finished organizing the contents using some precise towel folding strategies and $4 bins from Dollar General.  Frankly, I was aiming for higher quality material bins, but these were the exact color and size I needed, so I made the impulse buy and it worked out perfectly.  My old towels that don't match my new bathroom are rolled up in the bins in sets, perfect for when I need a few more towels. 

The bottom has plenty of room for extra toiletries and I got to use a few of my old plastic tubs from my classroom. 
With the matching bins and tax, this project came out to $65, a far cry for how much I would have spent to get a linen closet built into my space permanently.  Yay!  I'm so happy to finally not have to store my towels in my bedroom after nearly a year in this house! 

By the way, I got a new phone between taking photo 1 and photo 2.  What a difference that new flash makes!  Both pictures were taken at night with just the hallway light on.  This makes me happy, too!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

How does your garden grow?

One of my must-haves in my home search was a good spot for a vegetable garden.  The south side of my lot has a good bit of sun exposure, so I marked out the 5' by 18' spot last weekend with the help of my friend, Andrea.  She's going to help me with the garden and reap the benefits of what we hope will be a bountiful harvest! 

We started with a dose of Roundup to kill off the grass and weeds.  A few days later, I spread chicken manure.  It wasn't as smelly as I expected, though I was glad to be using it in cool weather.  Today, I added a few egg shells and started to turn the land over.  I got about 1/4 of the space done in an hour and called it quits for then. 

Andrea and I have our first crop of veggie plants picked out.  I can't wait to get planting!

Saturday, February 14, 2015


It all started on a Tuesday afternoon.  I was set to be recognized at the Board of Education meeting and I invited my parents to attend if they wanted to.  Being the awesome parents that they are, they immediately rearranged other plans and put me on their calendar.  They arrived at my house while I was finishing up the work day and started to do a few projects- Dad was installing a pegboard over the workbench in the basement while Mom was shortening the mini-blinds to the correct length for each window.  When I got home, I noticed an unusual odor but I attributed it to the work Dad was doing in the basement.  I checked in with Dad downstairs and he was doing fine.

When I went upstairs to check on Mom, she was in the bathroom shortening the blind there.  She asked me, "Why is the toilet seat black?"  I had no good answer, but I knew that 1) I clean regularly and 2) I hadn't noticed anything odd that morning before work.  We investigated some more and realized that just about everything that was plastic was covered in a visible film of soot.  I called the HVAC specialist (and father of a co-worker, gotta love a small town) who attributed it to a backdraft in the chimney due to the recent gusty high winds.  I was OK with that explanation and just called my insurance agent to check in with what I would need to do if I needed to put in a claim for clean up.  At that point, it seemed unlikely that I would need any help since the HVAC specialist said it was probably a one-time occurrence, especially since he had just done a thorough cleaning of the system in November. If it got any worse or recurred, I was to call him again.

We went off to dinner out and to the board meeting so I could receive my certificate.  When we got home about 2.5 hours later, there was a visible haze in the house.  The basement was thick with soot.  I called and scheduled the HVAC specialist to come back the next day to look at it.  We spent the night at the local hotel. 

When the HVAC man came, the boiler was clogged with soot.  He vacuumed it all out and adjusted the air intake settings again.  The following day the chimney sweep came and cleaned the chimney.  That meant that everything that could have been the source of the soot was now clean.

The ServPro estimator came to look at the house on Monday afternoon and agreed to start on Wednesday.  He said it would take about 2.5 days to clean the house.  I never asked how many people were on the crew, but I figured that it would have to be several people in order for it to be done in just under 3 days.  The following day, the insurance adjuster came and spent an hour photographing the house.

ServePro worked Wednesday with 3 workers, Thursday with 6, and Friday with 9.  Mom was an excellent house-sitter for me so I could continue to go to work and she could answer questions that they had throughout the day.  The house is finally clean so now I can get to the work of finishing organizing and decorating before my housewarming party next month.