Threads of the Pattern

Archive for the ‘Organize It! Wednesday’ Category

Recently, I came to a dismaying realization: my cabinets were gross!

We are currently living in a large household with 3 generations…one of which likes to put their dirty kid fingers all over the kitchen cabinets! After coming to the aforementioned realization, I tried to clean them with dish soap and water….but they laughed at me.

So…next was the magic eraser. They called Mr.Clean a sissy girl.

I realized I was going to have to bust out the big guns…so I took to the Internet. I needed a good, strong cleaner that wouldn’t poison my dogs, my kids or my manicure (yeah,right). Something that would be ok to use on painted wood cabinets, since we all know I was not going to repaint them just to get them clean! Though in retrospect, that might have been easier…

Several websites suggested the use of equal parts white vinegar and hot water. Two suggested adding Dawn dish soap to further the grease cutting contents. So, I gathered up my vinegar and soap and reached under the counter for my cleaning bucket…and there was a huge bottle of animal friendly, orange oil containing cleaner my aunt had bought some time ago!

Instantly, I was sucked into indecision land. Should I use the cleaner? Try the Internet suggested method? Put them together to see if they’ll cause a nuclear reaction, thereby eliminating my need to clean the cabinets?

Nah….but what about a Clean Off?!

In THIS corner: The Internet Method!
2cups white vinegar
1cup hot water
A healthy splash of dish soap

And in the OTHER corner: Stuff I found under the kitchen sink!

It said for cleaning counters to use 1 part soap to 10 parts warm water. I enjoy both burning the skin off my hands and ignoring directions, so I used more like equal parts cleaner and water and turned up the temperature from warm to ‘Omg what is wrong with me?!’

Then, I gathered up a cleaning rag and a sponge with an abrasive side and got down to it.
My first cabinet was at ground level.

I blame that bit of ew on the molasses jar…that stuff gets everywhere!

First I used the cleaner mixture. Mostly because it’s the second most touched cabinet in the house and wasn’t so sure plain old vinegar was going to cut it. There were these weird water streaks on the cabinet, but since I was making kind of a bubbly mess, I didn’t mind. I just figured it was because I was dripping water down the cabinet. I used the cleaning rag to wipe the cabinets, figuring it would give the best idea of just how good the cleaner was working. After all, if I didn’t have to move on to the blow torch method it must be pretty good right?

It worked pretty well. Took all the accumulated dirt off the cabinet and left it with a nice shine even after I wiped them down with a wet rag to make sure there was no residual cleaner left on them for the dogs to lick.

Now I had a dilemma. Go on with the cleaner or give the vinegar a try? Mostly because the children had sensed that mommy was in crazy cleaning mood and had wisely vacated the area, I chose to go on with the experiment. So I chose a cabinet of equal grubbiness and applied the vinegar mixture.

Don’t judge. Apparently Clean the Dishes is code for Slop Liquid Food All Over the Place.

Instantly, I could tell the difference. Beside the fact that it splashed into my eye about 42 times, it dripped off it the cabinet without actually cleaning anything. I put aside the rag and picked up the sponge and even then, it seemed like I was mostly wiping them down not actually doing any heavy cleaning. When it dried, I was even more disappointed because it left a Matte finish, and that was not very flattering to my kitchen.

So…back to the cleaner/hot water mixture. I rewashed the cabinet I had applied the vinegar to, and was excited to see the remnants come off with little elbow grease. I applied it um…liberally…to the next cabinet and before I could wipe it down, my phone rang. Five minutes later, I went back to the cabinet, dipped my sponge into it and wiped off the top of the cabinet…and a healthy swipe of paint, too!

Let’s just say there was a liberal application of cuss words then…and I moved on, after I put my cell phone far away to prevent future distractions and after I prepared another bowl, this one of just straight water, to rinse the cabinets with.

Who would have thought that a cleaner labeled nontoxic would take the paint right off my cabinets??

Anyway, the cleaning went superbly, and my cabinets looked shiny and fantastic after that…and very chic with their new ‘distressed’ look.

Ta-da! So much better!

Hey…I live in a farmhouse built in the 1800s, it’s supposed to look like that!


Things I learned:

1. Vinegar is a very nice cleaner, but not for heavy duty jobs.

2. Don’t leave the cleaner on painted surfaces. Even if it says nontoxic. Or natural. Or safe for all materials.

3. It wouldn’t hurt to take the words ‘test on hidden surface’ seriously.



Back to school days are for me, filled with conflicting emotions. In just one day I can go from ‘Yay! Back to school!’ to ‘Ugh! 35 glue sticks?! seriously?’ to ‘I think homeschooling in the answer. I’ll miss them too much otherwise!’ and usually back to some form of ‘Yay! Back to school!’ by the end of it.

With one exception. My inner monologue is almost -always- stuck on ’35 glue sticks? What are they going to do…feed them as snacks?’

You see, in my state, as is in many others I’m sure, we buy our children’s school supplies. Not just the cool bookbags or special pens or ninjago notebooks, but everything they need for school. I do not blame my school district or our teachers for this, because I understand about taxes and budgets and all, but I reserve the right to complain about it, once a year, at length. I have four kids, after all. I have to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth out of these supplies.


So after the first year we moved here, I began to gather school supplies throughout the year and stock them in a shoebox. And then, everyone was going to school. So it graduated into a tote.

And then, I started working from home. So…office supplies got added to the tote, and trickled over only my desk.


And the we started doing a lot of arts and crafts at home. So, that large shoebox turned into a small nation of containers, including a large tote, an art box, my desk and…a few shoeboxes of varying sizes.

Ok…I admit it…my school/office supplies are out of control!

Do I have a hoarding problem? Not usually…but I will admit to a crazy obsession with office supplies. And…you know…I’m a little..urm…frugal…so I hate the idea of spending an enormous amount of money on school supplies because I thumbed my nose at all the good sales all year.

So, this is me, sharing my mess with you, and asking, no begging for help!



Readers: help me organize this hot mess into something useful! The tote was a great idea, but everytime I need to get one thing out of it, I end up dumping half of it on the floor and then throwing it all back in all wily-nily.

I often have to take notes on the fly when I work (as few and far between as that is) and my desk is upstairs, the supply box downstairs. So what started as two notebooks and some post it’s at the desk turned into that stuff. Please ignore the World of Warcraft books..they too are very necessary sometimes.



Ok, now that youve seen the dark, dismal reality of my mess…

How would You begin? What makes the most sense to you in terms of organization and getting everything in reach? Am i going to be forced to add an addition onto the house in order to keep all this stuff neat? What are your dirty little organizing secrets?


As I’ve mentioned before, my grandmother (maternal) had this amazing green thumb. Possibly, it wasn’t a green thumb, but more of a green…aura? essence? Something like that, anyway, because I never once saw her actually -gardening-. When I knew her, she lived in a trailer with three of my cousins, whom she was caring for. She had a bit of a back yard, but not a whole lot of one. mostly just a path around the trailer with enough space for some patio furniture on the far side. The back wall was entirely covered in plants. Potted plants, that is.

Everything was growing in profusion. I think people just gave her plants because they knew she would keep them alive, but there were also some that were what I like to consider purposeful: herbs and vegetables. In amongst the spider plants, aloe plants and ferns, there were also tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, parsley, etc. I didn’t know most of the herbs at the time, but it’s pretty hard not to spot a tomato.

I never even saw her pick anything, though I’m sure she must have, when I was busy being a lazy teenager and sleeping until 10am and fighting with my cousins. My grandmother was not a woman to remain idle long, and there were always vegetables in the fridge (with the cup of bacon grease, and other homemade items that I couldn’t name at the time) and there were never rotten vegetables on the ground outside.

I wish I’d inherited her knack for keeping things alive so easily. Or at least learned her secrets! Maybe it’s been bad luck, but I’ve been struggling to get a garden going at all. Last year, we bought all these containers and tried to grow some root vegetables (onions, carrots, beets) and we got exactly zero result. Even the four tomato plants only yielded one tiny cherry tomato. It was a pitiful harvest.


This year, I had some scallions, basil, and dill. Now I only have the basil left, and it’s just barely hanging on by a thread. For the scallions, I blame the heat. These were scallions I bought from the store, used the greens and then put the whites in a jar of water. For a while they were growing like crazy, and all I had to do was change the water every once in a while. Then the heat hit and they just shriveled up and died. Not sure what happened to the dill. Possibly also the heat, but it wasn’t around long enough for me to tell.


So, I don’t really have much in the way of gardening tools, but what I do have was in a cut off paper bag. It worked fine at first, but that is not a long term solution. It also meant that things weren’t really very visible. So when this week’s challenge came around, I grabbed a basket that wasn’t being used for anything else, and started transferring everything useful. It turns out, we had some seeds and onion bulbs that were no good in that bag. I had completely forgotten about them. Poor things. 
I should get a baggie for the twist ties, but I didn’t think of it at the time. 



Is it just me, or do they seem to be getting greener already? I think it’s weird that the cuttings (far left) are growing so much more nicely than the original stalks with roots.

As in previous weeks, I’m following Home Storage Solution’s 52 weeks to an organized home challenge. Feel free to jump in any time! The next two weeks are basement and attic focused. My basement is already organized, thanks to a crack in the foundation that we had to pack up and move everything for, and I don’t have an attic to speak of, so we’ll see how the next two weeks go.
I’m open to any gardening advice anyone is willing to share, as well! Note: dipping your thumb in acrylic paint has absolutely no effect.



(Apologies for not posting on Wednesday, WordPress was giving me a little trouble.)


Teddy is a very simple cat. She’s 17 years old, and has long since figured out what she does and does not like. Mostly this includes sleeping, preferably in the nearest warm lap. When she does want to play, she likes things that move outside of her actions. Things on strings are great, and she has a couple of toys that are bouncy so when she’s hits them they go crazy. She doesn’t like things that make noise, or are made of hard plastic.
She also loves these little knit pillows that my MIL made for her. It’s adorable the way she just wants to be around, so she rests her little elbows on the pillow and crosses her paws. Old cat needs her comforts. 😀

So, I didn’t have much in the way of organizing to do, but there’s always something!


The steps were the same this week as previously: get everything together in one spot, sort, get rid of stuff (in this case, a couple of toys that she doesn’t play with anymore and some expired meds), and then figure out how best to put it back.  Once again, I’m following along with Home Storage Solutions 101, and each week there is a new area to organize as part of their 52 week challenge. You can jump in any time. I’m on my third week, but they’re more than halfway through.

We already had baskets for her things. One is a vase that came with a bamboo plant. (It died. Of all the things I inherited from my mother’s side of the family, I’d trade in the hips for my grandmother’s green thumb in a heartbeat. I’m telling you, the woman had only to look at a plant and it would grow. I think she had magic beans or something.) We keep it at floor level so Teddy Bear can reach in and grab a toy out if she wants. 


The other basket is for her meds: flea and arthritis. Plus her combs and brushes and that harness I had really hoped she’d like so I could take her for walks. Amazing how cats don’t like to be walked. I thought she’d just love being outside again! We had been keeping this basket under the sink in our half bath downstairs, but that has been proving to be more and more inconvenient, so I took this opportunity to move it into the master bath, where we moved all the rest of her stuff anyway. We’ve tried to make it so she doesn’t have to jump or use stairs to get to anything, so she only does those things if she -wants- to.

I love my kitten. She’s totally worth the five minutes this reorganize took!




I didn’t mention it last week when I posted about fixing up my craft room, but I started following this blog on organizing your home. The site has a 52 week challenge, but you don’t have to start it in January, you can jump in any time. Many thanks to Taylor at Home Storage Solutions 101 for hosting the challenge.

Well, it so happens that last week was organizing your crafting space, which I took as a sign that I should stick with this plan for a while and see where it takes me.

This week’s challenge (they’re posted on Mondays) is organizing the car. Admittedly, I don’t have much in my car right now, since it’s not running, but there was still some unnecessary clutter. By which, I of course mean books.
So, I followed the steps. Pull everything out, sort and decide what goes back, what gets thrown away, and what just needs to go elsewhere.

Now in my glove box, all I have are the car manual and other paperwork, and some napkins. I have a trash bag that’s tucked into the storage pocket in the backseat, and some wet wipes up under the dash in a weird space that you can barely see. I’m not sure why they built it this way, to be honest.

Anyway. I had this jar lying around, and it fits perfectly in the cup holder, so I decided to put it there and use it for loose change. In my center console, I have all my chargers and other car cords.

Everything else is in a plastic tub in the trunk. It’s not the most crafty way to store all my car supplies, extra hair and tooth brushes, puzzle book, CD player and sewing kit, but it does its job. Everything that’s not the tote in the left hand corner is what’s going into the house to be put away.

After a quick vacuum and wipe down, it looks so much nicer!
Things I learned:

1. I think I’m already finding that the steps to organizing anything are basically the same.

2. Some of these weekly challenges are going to be easier than others. My craft room took 7 days. This took me 20 minutes.

Next week, it looks like we’re tackling pet supplies. I’m sure Teddy Bear will be thrilled.

~ Rosie

p. s. Since someone may ask, the origami peacock was made by a former coworker of mine who has since passed away. It moves around my car as the whim takes me.

I wanted to use some kind of nerdy “Space: The Final Frontier” for this post, which actually would have been TOTALLY APPROPRIATE, but as usual, Ayshia and I are in the same brain, so you get ‘The Sound of Music” instead of ‘Star Trek’.

Let me start by saying, I really hate to clean. Most of the time, my mind pretends that everything is clean, always, everywhere.  My friends love this about me. Fortunately, my husband is far more willing to show me the reality of the situation.

We’ve had this ongoing discussion about whether or not my crafting space was organized or that crazy thing called clean. We bought our house, and intended to finish the basement and give me all the space down there that was not being taken up by washers and furnaces and spiders, and other basement type stuff.

Ayshia threatened to disown me, if I recall correctly, but she got over it.

“Temporarily”, I am in the third bedroom, which is the smallest, and was formerly a nursery for the previous owners. I share it with the guest bed. Teddy Bear thinks it’s hers, and we’ve never told her otherwise because she diffuses sternness with cuddles.

I also have to house my computer desk, a single (wha?) bookshelf, and all my crafting supplies. It finally got to me. I had to admit that no, I did not have a handle on my ‘organized chaos’; it was in fact, a complete and utter disaster.

So, I broke down and did that thing that most women fear to do: I asked my mother-in-law for help. I will immediately follow this by saying that I lucked out in the MiL department, and this wasn’t really a hardship at all. Especially since she literally wrote the book on organizing your crap. I don’t think that’s what she called it.


After much discussion, and a trip to a costume museum (I mentioned I lucked out, right?), I came home with a game plan. A whole flaming week later, It was finally complete.

So, the boring stuff. I pulled everything that wasn’t a container out of the room, and organized it as I went. I had purchased some cheap-o laundry baskets at the dollar store, and used those as temporary storage for the sorting process. I culled some stuff for goodwill/Ayshia/trash. This still took up the entire hallway, part of my husband’s office, and our bedroom. Dear husband even donated his own laundry basket to the cause, which I think he regretted about five minutes later.

I then cleaned and rearranged all my empty containers, and tried to figure out a better way of doing things. I wanted more floor space. I didn’t want to feel so crowded, and I wanted to feel like I was getting the most out of the space that I had.

Then I took some sticky notes and wrote on them what I thought would go in each drawer and put them ON THE DRAWER. This was a novel concept for me. I’m usually more of a “Oh, I know where it is!” kind of gal. Then I have to look through five drawers before realizing I have no idea what was going through my mind when I originally put it away.

Putting things back, I culled even more. I stopped at the thrift store and found some old candle holders to put colored pencils and markers and such in. I spent all of $10 on this reorganization, including the laundry baskets.

In the end, I got pretty much everything back into the room. Even my husband was impressed! Eventually, I’ll have pretty labels on all the drawers. I’ve been toying with the idea of chalkboard paint on cardstock or scrapbooking paper.

Things I learned:


  1. I do not HAVE to have all the things within arm’s reach all the time.
  2. My thought processes change with time. Label things, woman!
  3. Everything takes longer than I think it’s going to.
  4. I really don’t have to keep everything ‘just in case’.

Oh, hi. I’m Rosie. 😀

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