Category Archives: Organization

Burlap and Arrows Chalkboards

When we built, I knew I wanted a big area to ‘land’ when we walked in the door.  Lots of room for boots, coats, purses, marking, instruments, backpacks, and all of the rest of the paraphernalia from everyday life.

This was our entry from the trailer that we lived in for 12 years.  You can see why I had my heart set on something a little bigger.  This wasn’t easy to live with.

What I wanted included a desk for mail and the computer.  I wanted it right by the back door rather than hidden away in an office somewhere so I didn’t have to traipse all over the house putting stuff away and then hauling it back to deal with it.

Besides.  I am bad at doing that.  Out in the open is better.  Then I can’t forget!

We have the desk area.  But the desk had a big blank wall looming above it.  That needed a little something…

So I have been looking for a long time for things to fill up the wall above my desk.  Items on my list are a whiteboard calendar (I’m a calendar girl- no matter how many things I type into my phone, I just don’t remember them as well as if they are written in big letters on a calendar), a pinboard to hold notes and reminders, and some other pretty kinds of decorations.

front entry


Craft Room


Office Organizers


desk area


And then I spotted these beauties.  Love.  Them.

They are so us.

Zinc & Jute Round Chalkboard


I knew I had to do these right away.

So I cut out the circles from some leftover bookshelf backing material that we hadn’t used from our library bookshelves and then gave them a couple of coats of ASCP in Primer Red.  I knew you could use it for chalkboard paint as I had already done the inset of my pantry door with it.

This is how they turned out.

I put our initials on them- they are probably going to be used for decoration rather than real chalkboards.  I love the look of them.

I will show you the rest of the desk gallery wall soon.  A few little additions to go yet…


You may have noticed that the blog posts have slowed down a lot this past week.

It is a bit of a crunch time at work for me right now (some of my students are writing a provincial exam tomorrow so last week was all about writing and writing some more, which meant late nights of marking for me), the weather has actually turned decent the past 2 weekends, so, when not marking, I have been outside doing yard work, and the last reason is that I am just stuck on some big projects that are partially completed but that I just can’t seem to find the time or energy to complete (gallery wall in office, mudroom shelving, laundry countertop, recovering chair…).

I’ll get there, though.

I did want to show you what we had been up to outside.

Last summer, we worked very hard and finished the front yard of the house.  We built a rock wall and a paver stone patio and stairs.

But the back yard still looked like this.

As the ground had been disturbed from the house build, it was full of Canada thistle, quack grass, and clover.


And then we moved in and lived here for a while and this happened.

Junkapalooza.  And not in a cool, Junk Gypsy kind of way either.

More of a horrifying, what-kind-of-hoarders-live-here kind of way.

 Apparently, the kind that heats their home with wood.

 And collects antlers and garbage can and barbecues.  That kind of hoarder.

Anyway, back to the yard…

Here is the view of the entire back yard including the back hoarding wood-storage porch and the rest of the space.  Because of the sheer size, it was intimidating getting started.

The slope at the back provided some challenges as well (but great protection from the north wind).  I think this little nook carved into the slope will be our fire pit area.

This raised area is just outside the back mudroom/ hallway door.  We are going to plant this all out in grass and have a couple of flower beds.

But guess what we are doing with that bank…

That’s right.  We are back to building another rock wall.  It just makes sense.  The ground is very rocky here (we do live at a gravel pit) and we don’t see why we would move them away rather than just use them on site.  That bank had to be stabilized with something.

The reason why the picture seems so dark is that we had my dad come up with his loader to even out the ground for us, so the whole length of the yard has a fresh covering of dirt.

We don’t fool around.  It would take a lot of wheelbarrow trips to move that much dirt.

The really good news was that not only did we get the backyard leveled out and a space created out of that back bank for a wood shed…

(this makes my husband very happy and maybe will help to keep the back covered porch clean…maybe)…

…but we also discovered that we actually have soil in the backyard.  We thought before that it was all rock and sand and that we were going to have to buy a million yards of black dirt before we planted grass seed.

Not so.

A lot of nice, rich soil to plant grass in.  Yay!

Once we finish picking out all the rocks!  Boo!

Lots of work left to do, but we have made a lot of progress in the last two weekends!  We also planted some trees and I finally got brave enough to start a job that has been intimidating me for a year and a half now.

I’ll give you a sneak peak.

Please ignore the mess surrounding the door.  We do.

My workload this week is not as crazy as it has been so hopefully I can finish up some projects around here.  Or maybe even relax on that patio.

Wire Basket Tutorial

Don’t you just the look of vintage wire baskets with lovely stacks of linens, or cutlery, or anything, in them?

Wire baskets


Don’t you just hate the price?

Chessin Wire Baskets


And the fact that they are virtually impossible to find?  Especially if you are looking for a certain size?

Lined Wire Baskets


 How about making your own using hardware cloth?  And sewing a liner out of drop cloth?

I needed some big bins for underneath our kitchen bench and used this tutorial from Attempting Aloha to make them!!

It was fairly easy to do once you have your measurements.  You just need some snips, wire, and heavy duty gloves!

Here they are!

I am going to fill them with potatoes and onions.

I am hoping to eventually stencil the front of them.  Or maybe add a clay tag or two…

What are you up to this week?

Hunting Vintage- End Tables

Furniture is probably one of the most difficult things for me to find.  I don’t like a lot of the contemporary styles of furniture around and I prefer a more eclectic and rustic look anyway, so vintage is always preferable, both aesthetically and for the pocketbook.

For bedside tables in our master, we use some vintage items that belonged to my grandparents.

The first is a milking stool that was my grandfather’s.  It was always in my grandparent’s house when I was a kid and we used it as a stepping stool.  It had a black top and white legs then.

When our son was little I had painted it blue and green to match his dresser and he used it as a stepping stool in our bathroom.

Here is is primed.

The yellow table beside it sits on my husband’s side of the bed.  The crate I still haven’t done anything with.  Any suggestions?

The chippyness was great on that one, but the yellow, not so much.

Here’s how they look beside our bed with new coats of Annie Sloan in Old White and Country Grey layered and then distressed with a bit of wax to finish.

We are just starting to think of ways to revamp our bedroom, so our bed will be changing sometime soon, but the bedside tables will definitely stay the same.

I love that they aren’t symmetrical and that they give us just enough surface to put the essentials on.  We had bedsides with drawers in the trailer, and they got so full of junk!!!  This way, we are forced to keep things fairly neat.  But, to be honest, my side (this one) usually does have a book or two on it.  And no flowers.

Shaun’s side has a couple of little shelves.  We are looking for a new clock right now.  This one is getting so that the snooze button won’t work.  And that’s just not really ok.  And I would like one a little nicer looking now…

Still a tiny bit of yellow showing through.

The quilt was our wedding gift from my aunt.  Can you believe she made that?  It is one of our treasures.

Vintage love.  Love that they are recycled and that we use them everyday.  Love how they look.  Love the history to them and that they belonged to my grandmas and grandpas.

Office/ Mudroom Gallery Wall

When you walk in our front door, there is a long sightline through the dining area to the back hallway mudroom.  At the end of the mudroom is our office desk.  I have always been ok with having my desk out in the open.  I didn’t want a separate room to have to take stuff in and out of to deal with.  And I can’t be trusted with closed doors.  Out in the open keeps me on top of things.  And a little neater.  But it definitely needed some dressing up.

The wall was looking too bare and we needed to work on storage solutions that were attractive and functional.  And we need to get the kid off Facebook…but that’s a different post…

Here are some inspiration shots for mural walls that I love.

Why not have more pictures in bathrooms?


My favourites are the ones that combine pictures with other elements like mirrors or maps.  Perfect for a home office area.



Pottery Barn

Pinned Image


Pinned Image




Hopefully mine looks something like these when I’m finished.

Hunting Vintage- Gallery Wall

My next project (or one of them, anyway) is to create a gallery wall by my office desk and computer.  This desk is open and within the mudroom and backdoor area of the house, which is really handy.  Dropping off mail, keys, shoes, boots, backpacks, mitts, toques, scarves, piles of marking, bills, and other assorted detritus from daily life was never so easy and I love that these things don’t make it into my house!


This area is also very visible from the kitchen table, front door, and living room areas at the front of the house.

And while I thought this would really force me into keeping things organized, it does tend to get a little messy looking.

The baskets are Ikea and are meant to be hanging from hooks, not drooping on the desk shelf like that.  Organization is badly needed.  Baskets!

Also needed is something for the wall above the desk area.

It is way too bare.  I like the look of gallery walls around TVs to disguise them, so I’m hoping for the same effect around the gigantic computer screen.  Also, the pin board I made is getting way too used!
And look!  I can never get on the computer!!  Darn teens and their FB!
So I’m looking for ways to incorporate rustic and vintage (or vintage looking) elements to help with organization and create a more finished look.
Like this one.
Architectural Home Office
What a difference the frames make!  And the chalkboard would be so practical.
If I would love to find some of these wire baskets for organization.  Maybe a person could DIY some?
Wire Mesh Wall-Mount Magazine Rack


And I would like to whole wall to have a gallery feel like this.

Daily System - White


Only with mixed elements for a more eclectic look.

I would break it up with items like these.  This is a DIY project I currently have on the go.

Zinc & Jute Round Chalkboard

For the desk, some containers might help corral the mess.

Divided Wood Catch-All

These might too.

Galvanized Metal Pail, Set of 3


And a person can never have too many of these.

Havana Lidded Baskets


I’m also looking to add some of these (we have them, we just need to get them ready to hang).


See them there?  Waaaay at the top?  The pretty white antlers?

The other two elements I want to include for sure consist of a framed map and some typography.


I have a map that needs framing and some other work done on it to make it look vintage (it is brand new) and I have a twine letter that I’m going to relocate here.

I think that will create one killer vintage rustic gallery/ office wall and help me to stay organized in a stylish kind of way!

Once I get on those projects….


DIY Camera Dividers

A month and a bit ago, if you’ll recall, we received this beauty.

Nikon D3100 : Angle

And while a camera bag was not on my most-wanted list, I did want to protect my new camera when I carried it around.

I found this very cool tutorial over at Blue Lace House on how to create your own camera dividers and decided to give it a try.

I took some pieces of 1/2 inch thick foam and cut them to the size I wanted (these will vary depending on the bag you want to use to carry your camera in).

Make sure you use your camera itself to measure out width and length and height.  After all, this is what you are trying to protect here!  And make sure this will all fit into your chosen bag.

I am making a bag, but I did want to be sure not to make it too long as it could get pretty bulky to carry around.  So I snuggled up pretty close to the camera on the sides, only went to barely the top of it for the height, and gave myself a few extra inches on the end for battery, manuals, and later (once I save up!), an extra lens.

I cut one piece that will create both the bottom and sides (you will sew 2 seams down it lengthwise later to fold up for the sides), 2 end pieces, and a couple of pieces for the middle to use as dividers (I made one of these slightly longer to sit at a diagonal).

Then I used scraps of material I had (I wanted to use up what I had and I didn’t think anyone would really see it as I wouldn’t be carrying it around on its own) and cut them to fit around the pieces of foam.

I sewed up three of the sides of each of the pieces, and then inserted the foam and sewed up the last side after folding down and pinning the edges.

After you have your pieces of foam covered in your fabric, you have to sew on velcro to hold them together.

First, sew 2 seams lengthwise down your large piece of foam.  This will create the bottom and sides portion of your camera dividers.  You can see the seams below.

Then, lay out your end pieces and pin and then sew on your velcro to hold the sides onto the ends of the divider.

Once you have created your ‘box’ for the camera dividers, you can then decide where you want to place your middle dividers for the camera and lenses and any other components you want to carry with you- extra batteries, instructional manual, etc.  Use velcro to attach these pieces where you want them.  This is what mine looked like finished.

I only have one lens so far so for now I just leave it attached to the camera.  I definitely still need my instruction manuals with me too!  Later on, when I have another lens, I can use the longer divider to curve around the extra lens.

I am really happy with the way my camera divider turned out.  I am working on the bag for it and will post a tutorial on that as soon as I am done.


Spice Shelves

Am I the last person on earth to have heard of these?

Santa left me some in my sock and I couldn’t wait, so on Christmas Day, I reorganized the spice shelf in our pantry.

Here’s the horrid before.

Well, after I hauled it all out onto the kitchen table, anyway.

And here is the glorious after.

I like my pantry a lot better, now.  And I am still loving the chalkboard insert painted with ASCP in Primer Red.

Apparently we need fish bait.

Good Start

I’m kinda worn out tonight.  Had a really busy day taking down the tree and all of the Christmas decorations.

Then I moved around some furniture just for fun.

Moved a new project table into the living room.

Cleaned the garage and tried to glue pieces of rusty metal together for a new project.  Hot glue isn’t doing it.  Any suggestions?

Burned some leftover willow and some bark from our firewood.

Made deviled eggs.  Put up the new calendar after going through the old one and transferring over all the important birthdays.

Organized the new bills binder that I’m going to be using from now on.

Vacuumed, dusted.  Starting tearing apart a chair.

And I’m still not sleepy…2012 must the year I have a ton of energy!

Hope you are also getting things done.

Tomorrow I’m going to the city with a friend to snoop around the sales and have lunch.  I’m looking for brightly coloured jeans like these.


A braided belt like this.


To wear over a jacket like this.


And boots!  Of course.


Have a great Tuesday!

Some Places to Start

I posted about my personal goals a couple of days ago, however, I have some goals for the house as well.  Some areas for improvement and some DIYs in the making.  I love it when bloggers show pics of their house unstaged and say they are ‘keeping it real’.  This post is all about that, so fair warning…there are some really ugly pictures here.

First up is the front entry.  It needs a bench, don’t you think?  And some art on that back wall?  And perhaps a painted door?

My parents are our neighbors, so those chairs are ALWAYS covered with items that belong to them!

Next up is the kitchen, where I want to place rustic, vintage looking homemade letters above the sink to spell the word ‘gather’.

Maybe some people will ‘gather’ to get those dishes done.

Moving towards the back of the house, things get really rough in the mudroom.  I would love to see some built in storage lockers to replace those hooks.  Shelves.  Benches.  Maybe a tall section for firewood?  This area is open to the living area, so it is important to have it look neat.  I also see that I need somewhere to display kid art, since my kid’s art seems to be on that chair.  Anyone have any ideas for that?

At the back of our mudroom hallway, we have a desk and computer area.  I have lots of ideas for this wall!To the side of the desk is the back door from the garage.  We need shoe storage…so I am hoping to build something a little more functional and substantial than what we have now.  Open wire shelving is not good for snowy winters and muddy springs.

In between that boot area and the desk, on the opposite wall, we have a cabinet where we set, well, everything.  I would really like to see something else going on here, too.  I love the sunglasses holder (it has made life much easier) but I would like to replace those soft baskets with something else for keys and maybe put something on the wall on the other side of the thermostat.

To the left of this cabinet, we have a half bath.  We bought a mirror for it a while ago, but I want to drape a rope over it so that it looks like it is hanging.  I have the rope, but no pretty hook for the top, yet.

Also at the back of the house is the golf room.  It is the room in our house that is unfinished.  Where the giant TV lives with all of the video games and the exercise equipment.  And the half finished blog projects.  And the tool storage that has been put together, but not moved to the garage.  You get the idea.  Please don’t judge me.

Obviously, many things have to happen in here.  For this year, I might be happy with just some shelving for storage.  Maybe some flooring?  We’ll see.  The great thing about this room is that it can contain a giant mess that I can then shut the door on and forget about… I’m rather good at that!

The house also needs a good cleaning.  These candles are from our birthdays in November and the wishbones are from Thanksgiving, which, here in Canada, I am ashamed to say, means that they have been sitting on my window ledge since pretty much the beginning of October.

Not good.  Even when you account for wishbone drying time.

I think that takes care of the downstairs.  Now for the up.

In the master bedroom, we have a little sitting area with this chair.  It needs to have the garbage taken off and then someone needs to recover it.  Someone.  Please.

Our master bathroom needs a vanity (yes, we’ve lived here for over a year and don’t have a mirror above our bathroom sink.  My husband has to shave in our son’s bathroom).

My make up area in our closet also needs a mirror.  And some way to store make up…preferably not the way shown here.

The upstairs hallway needs an art ledge.  My art needs a home!  And not on the floor.

And finally, when the snow clears, we have a lot of work to do in the backyard.

The funny thing is, having all of these projects to do (and this little list by no means covers them all) makes me happy!  And I will spend many satisfying hours working on them.  Hopefully with some success!  What are you up to in the new year?




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