Tag Archives: house

Organization Station

I’ve been derelict in my blogging duties–more on why very soon. But in the meantime, my sister Erica has come to the rescue and has written this post! Take it away, blondypants!


Does anyone else out there have this problem? 495 I call it the disaster zone- it’s that place in your house where things just tend to…. accumulate. 503 A sort of vortex of chaos and cripppity-crappity that is as unavoidable as gravity. Mail, keys, bits of paper, grocery lists, glasses, wallets, phones, watches, change…. Random things that need to easily be accessible but that don’t really have a good home. So they end up on side tables, chairs in bedrooms, dressers, decorative entry tables (no longer so decorative with all that junk, eh?), coffee tables, and, in my case, kitchen counters. I mean….seriously. Look at that mess!!! Ugh. Brings me down just to look at this picture. 504 I dearly love order. Things properly put away, uncluttered counters, tidy shelves. Especially with our open-concept general living area, it’s easy for the whole house to feel like a pit of despair when even just one section is chaotic. Okay, okay…. My house isn’t always tidy–far from it with two little munchkins whose delight is to spread puffs, toys, drool, and books about in plentiful quantities. 198 But especially when the counter is messy, the whole place feels awful. And when the counters are clear and clean and lovely, somehow the living room, dining room, and kitchen all feel calm and peaceful and neat, despite the kiddo-chaos. So! For months….really for the entirety of the 2+ years we’ve lived in our house, this area has been a challenge. I would pick it up, frantic to FINALLY get it under control, only to have it devolve right back into it’s chaotic state by evening. Even before the babies arrived! Then….bam. Suddenly, one day about a month ago, it dawned on me. As I try to practice in the rest of my house, each thing needs a place. If it doesn’t have a designated spot to be put away, it will travel around, sit on top of surfaces where it doesn’t belong, and generally bring messiness to an otherwise orderly room. Wow. That took 2 years for me to realize. Haha? The only improvement in the Disaster Zone during the first two years of living here was to hang a little key rack from Tarjay above the counter so we could visually keep track of keys. My husband loved it, as did I, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Disaster Zone in check. In a stroke of inspiration that had been brewing for quite some time, I had a picture in my mind of a sort of hanging organizer with pockets for each item that we wanted easily available, and hooks along the bottom for our keys. This is what I came up with: 218 I love it. I basically just bought a framed chalkboard at Hobbitty Lobbitty (hi mom!) on sale, popped the chalkboard bit out, and fastened onto it some padding and burlap with pockets that I had sewn to the measurements of each item I wanted stored. 512 522 I painted and distressed the frame, picked up some nice and sturdy hooks to hang along the bottom, and attached picture-hanging deedlieboppers onto the back. I secured the now-covered chalkboard part back in the frame, put cute little labels on each pocket (for cuteness more than practicality, to be honest), and threw that little mama up on the wall where our key-hanging thingy used to be. 216 It’s the perfect location! We often come through the back door into the kitchen, so it’s easy to put our keys on the hooks, phones in the pockets for phones, wallets in their spots, etc. I have two little pockets for phone chargers, a pocket for pens and pencils, and we now hang our sunglasses and my normal glasses on a pocket too. 217 One of the reasons I used such sturdy hooks along the bottom is that when we move, and this hangs in a new location, we can use the hooks for heavier items than keys if we want to, like hats or umbrellas, or even a jacket. As a military family, I am always trying to think ahead to our next move so that the items that I make/buy for our home will be versatile enough to work in a different layout, climate, etc. It’s a fun challenge that I’ve really enjoyed as I’ve decorated and made each place we’ve lived into a home. It’s been a little over a month since I made the organization station, and I am very happy to report that the Disaster Zone is STILL clear!!!! Woo hoo!! 215 We have stuck to our resolution of dealing with mail as soon as it comes in, thus keeping the area on our counter clear. I am so pleased with this little project. It has proved to be incredibly useful, hung just in the right place, and with enough space to store what we want to have on hand. The most time consuming part of the project was making and sewing on the pockets. I think next time I will use canvas instead of burlap. I love how the burlap looks, but it’s a very unstable fabric. The amount of use and stretching that each pocket gets warrants a sturdier fabric. Live and learn, eh? Disaster Zone: dealt with. For now. There always seems to be some kind of a disaster-zone elf sneaking around making new areas messy…. I’m curious; what is your way of dealing with the tricky disaster zones in your house?

Rummage 2014: next week!


Last year I was a derelict blogger and didn’t talk at all about Rummage.


Oh Rummage. What can I even say.

First, it’s (so I hear) the biggest Rummage sale in the country. It takes place in Winnetka at the Community House on Lincoln Ave, and the sale itself is Thursday May 8th from 7am to 3pm.

My grandma, the leggy wonder Mama Kitty, has been volunteering to help with the sale since 1989. Little by little, the women of the family have started to get involved along with her. Since moving to Chicago 5 years ago, I’ve been taking more and more days off work to help with the pre-sale work (and do some pre-sale shopping, of course). The first year, I just met the family for dinner (young fool! Hah.). The next year I wised up and took off 1 day from work to hang out. The following year, it was 2 days. This year I’m taking off 3 days from work–Tuesday through Thursday–and will be stacking sheets and pillowcases, shower curtains and napkins (etc) in the Linens department.

Here’s how it happens: aunts and cousins come in from Wisconsin, New York, Virginia, Indiana and Ohio. We get a row of hotel rooms for the week. We bust our butts helping to organize things for the sale–women’s clothes, baskets in the Garden department, Linens, etc. We shop. We eat together. We share our fantastic finds in the hotel every evening. We try on each other’s clothes. We keep an eye out for the things everyone else is looking for. It’s a fun, intense, collaborative, laughter-filled female family reunion.

Every year we keep thinking it will be Mama Kitty’s last year. Last year she herself said, “this will be my last Rummage.” But every year, she keeps coming back anyway. At 90 years old, she is a Rummage legend, and I can’t imagine the experience without her.

Last year Alice, who was 6 months old at the time, came with me. My Mom and sister Erica came for the first time. It was a blast, and even though Erica can’t make it this year (sniff sniff), it’s going to be a blast again. My mother-in-law is making this possible for me by coming to our place to help take care of Alice for a few days–thank you Sara!! Because while it was possible to tote around a 6-month old last year and still get down and dirty with the work, a wonderfully rambunctious 18-month-old . . . well, it just wouldn’t work out so well, bless her stair-obsessed, trotting little self.

I’ve been looking forward to Rummage ever since it was all over last year. So if you’re in Chicago or the surrounding areas and love to find good deals (on quality stuff too!), come check it out. It’s a thrift-lover’s dream–as long as you can put up with a little chaos. Anything and everything you can imagine is there: hampers. Dishes. Appliances. Furniture, rugs, lamps. Clothes of every kind. Bedding. Accessories, purses, hats, a basement full of books, a gymnasium full of toys.

You can check out my previous posts on Rummage to get an idea of what this looks like–a glorious madhouse.


Not a garage sale
That’s love


The big pre-Rummage and pre-John purge
Rummage 2012: the thrill of the hunt
Rummage 2012: what I bought!