Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Tackling the Storage Spaces {post 1 of 2}: basement storage room

So, I have a confession to make: my storage closets are disasters.  Bad.  Really bad.  Like an episode of Hoaders-bad.  Ok, maybe not quite that bad, but they are not good at all.  Before I get into the nitty gritty and photos, let me explain.   When I moved in, I needed a place to store all the "stuff" without a home.  In the very beginning, that place was the downstairs playroom and big storage closet.  As I've lived here and gradually settled in, I have reduced the "stuff" storage place to the big storage closet.  It has a door and there's no need to go in there at all unless I need something.  

I have two other storage areas: an outdoor closet by the front door (where I store the trashcan and recycle containers) and one off of the brick patio (where I store a mishmash of stuff).  Rather than try to describe, I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Here is my front outdoor closet:

Here is my patio outdoor closet:

And - gulp - here is my basement storage closet.  The big mahoff (note: I had no idea the term "big mahoff" was a Philadelphia thing ... but it is and it means the big boss) ... brace yourself: 

No judgment!  No judgment!  Don't do it!  But you can a little.  Because it's bad.  I know it's bad.  And the thing is, even though I gave myself a free pass on these spaces because they're hidden and no one sees them but me and I wanted to focus on the actual rooms in the house, knowing that these spaces were in such disarray made me crazy.  I could handle the crazy until a few weeks ago when I  hit my tipping point:  I needed to spackle some nail holes in the wall and could not find a plastic putty knife (and I have a million of them - literally one million) in the mess among my tools.  So it was time.  And the time is now!

I started big: with the big storage room in the basement.  I'll share the transformation of the other two spaces in another post.  But this one is the biggie.  

The first thing I did was to sit down, calm down, and figure out what was going in each of the spaces.  I decided as follows:
  • Front outdoor closet: scooters, helmets, broom, snow shovel (meh!), ice-melter (meh!), and the trash cans.  
  • Patio outdoor closet:  gardening stuff and kids' outdoor toys. 
  • Big basement storage room:  everything else!  That includes my tools, paint, project stuff, beach stuff, home decor, holiday decor, moving boxes, books and photo albums, coolers, and bikes.
Plan in hand, I set to work.  The first thing I did was completely empty out the space and put things into piles based on where they would go back in the room. I would organize the space into different zones.  I stored the piles in the kids' playroom.   

The OCD in me really really wanted to paint the floor a bright cheery color, like I did in my first house and paint the pegboard and walls.  But, I figured that was a down the line project when I run out of other projects to do.  I wanted to just get this sucker done so I could move on and get back to the many other projects I have and want to do.  I took stock of my organizing pieces and ended up buying four more plastic shelves (one from Lowe's at $14.99 and three from Home Depot -- two smaller ones were $16 and the larger one was $10 because it was the last one, it was out of its packaging and had no SKU ... so the manager said he would just let me have it for $10.  Um ... yes!).  I then figured out the appropriate zones for all of the stuff and started bringing stuff back in.

Paint Zone

I put the paint all together with the paint tools and spray paint.  I used peg board hooks to hang my good paint brushes on the pegboard.  Over in the corner is my stash of scrap wood.  Never throw away scrap wood!  Ever!  I was able to stack the big pieces but for the smaller pieces, I used an old cheapie Ikea trashcan that I had.  When I moved in, I bought a bunch of those trashcans (I think they're like $1 each) and have slowly replaced them with nicer trashcans because those are the things that make me crazy.  So I'll put them to work in my storage places.  

I had both of these storage pieces on hand.  The little shelf was something my friend Heather gave me when I moved in.  She didn't need it any more and asked if I could use it.  I snatched it up.  It's lived in my room, Molly's room and now the storage room.  It works great to hold paint.  For the spray paint on top, I cut some extra wood that I had in my stash and put two pieces for the back row and one for the middle.  I like the stacked effect.  See? Never throw away wood!  Never!

This little mesh set of drawers was free!  Someone in my neighborhood put it out for the trash, and I grabbed it.  It works perfectly to hold foam rollers, drop cloths and paint tools and my throw-away brushes. Don't judge.  It is in great shape and I cleaned it thoroughly.  And I saved something perfectly useful from the landfill.  I propped my extra plywood behind the shelf.

Tool Zone

Next up was my tool area.  I used two tall white plastic shelves and a smaller plastic cart.  I also took advantage of the peg board and hung up my most used tools: hammer, tack hammer, level, crow bar. I had this old shower organizer that I was about to toss but thought better of it. I think it might come in handy at some point.  I also hung my saws on the wall.  I found this iron hanger thing among the "stuff" and decided to hang it, too! I use this iron for my no-sew sewing projects because it's scorched from all the hem tape and it leaves marks on anything I need to iron for real.  

First, the little cart.  This was also a curb alert courtesy of a neighbor! Thank you neighbor who threw out a perfectly good and useful cart!  I knew it would work great for either crafts or tools and am super happy I grabbed it.  I love the top because it has little divided spaces, which is perfect for these tools.  Come on ... those little divided sections make my OCD, organizing loving heart sing.  The drawers hold my millions of putty knives, nails and screws, picture hanging tools, and caulk, glues and adhesives.  

Shelf #1 (on the left) is all tools and materials.  The bottom shelf has my vice and jigsaw; the next shelf has my circular saw, sander and cordless drill; the next shelf has a bin of hardware and hooks; and the top has my miter box in a pretty red toile box.  Shelf #2 (on the right) is a mix of tools and other stuff.  The bottom shelf has my paint trays; the next shelf is my drill, screws and anchors and drill bits; the next shelf has household necessities such as ant spray and traps, WD40, etc. in the red bin and spackle.; and the top has my polycrilic and a red bin filled with the Closetmaid accessories (my house has Closetmaid closet systems all over).

Moving Box Zone

Sadly, I'm going to have to move again at some point relatively soon.  It is bittersweet.  On the one hand, I am looking forward to being closer to where the kids go to school and to the kids themselves when I don't have them, as well as a bunch of good friends I made in that area. On the other hand, I love my home, I love the friends I have out here, I love this area ... and the idea of moving makes me want to cry.  Anyway ... I saved the boxes when I moved in here, and I don't want to ditch them.  So they're stacked neatly on top of the old coffee table that I painted.  I like that they're off the floor.  And under the coffee table are two boxes that hold project supplies: batting, canvases and foam.  I stacked my Christmas tree next to the boxes too.  And lookie there - I used an extra table (clearance buy from Target from years ago that was around $20 but that does not have a home here) to hold my beer.  

Toy & Beach & Sport Zone

Right next to the boxes and behind the door is where I stored the toys & beach & sports stuff.  I brought in another white shelf for the toy/beach/sport area.  I needed a central spot for all of the summer and sport gear.  I have my coolers here, my emergency lantern and my bike stuff (in the red and white tin and my tri bag on top).  I also put the beach toys here.  The bottom shelf has a bin with my picnic backpack and a regular backpack and other supplies like water and windshield wiper fluid. I stacked my beach cart next to the shelf and hung the umbrella and beach chair from the pegboard.

I also added a hook to the back of the door and hung my beach bag from it.  Funny: I've had that hook (and two of its friends) for years from the Target Dollar Spot. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's always felt a little cheap to me.  So I used it here (and in my outdoor patio closet) because I know I won't end up staying here permanently.  Ha.

Christmas Zone & Big Bin Zone

Next up: the corner where I keep my Christmas bins and other bins.  The other bins are yearbooks, books, photo albums, humidifiers, and air mattresses (yes, plural. This is yet another reason why I needed to organize this space: I had one, I knew I had one and yet I could not find one. So I bought a new one.  And now I have two).  I stacked all of my Christmas stuff together and on the shelf.  Look how nice and Christmassy.

Decor & Home Supplies Zone

I had this white plastic shelf already and it works perfectly for extra home decor and home supplies.  I keep extra frames, vases and decor on it so I can shop my stash when it's time to change things up.  I also have a box filled with lightbulbs and a box filled with extension cords.  Now they are all together so when I need them I can just grab and go.  The bottom shelves are canvas bins where I keep the kids' yearly folders of art work.

Storage Zone

Finally, this large open area by the window is perfect for storing my big things: my saw horses, my ladders and eventually, when the weather turns cooler, my patio furniture.  I don't have room for a workbench, but my parents gave me this old console table, and I use that for projects.  I realized it would be a lot more functional with wheels, so I am going to pick up some locking casters at the Home Depot and will them on the legs.  I can't wait!

Whew!  This took two days to do: day 1 took about 4 1/2 hours and day 2 took 4 hours.  This is a terrific start.  In the cooler months, I am going to go hog wild and make really nice, really swoon-worthy labels for all of the stuff.  And eventually, depending on how other projects go and how much longer I live here, I really want to paint the floors and walls.  But for now, I am just happy that everything is neat, tidy and organized.  And that I can find anything I need very quickly.

Some before and afters real quick before I'm out:







Before OMG


See you swoon,

Monday, September 15, 2014


Road to BQ: Marathon Training Week 6

Week 6 was a good one, but I deviated from my coach's plan a lot.  Part of it wasn't really my fault - I was traveling for work and didn't have control over the fact that I couldn't find a track for my speedwork and/or I just didn't have time to get the workout in.  Part of it was my fault for going rogue.  But Sunday's long run was one of the best long runs in my running life.  I hope that makes up for it.   Oh and I got in a swim! At  a hotel pool!  I was wholly unprepared to swim, so thankfully the pro shop had swim goggles.  I was rockin' this look:

No bathing suit.  No swim cap.  Preeetttty awesome.

I'm in disbelief in a way that I only have three more long runs before Steamtown.  And I think one of those long runs is going to be a taper.  I could use one more week.   OK, two.  

Week 6: 5:30:34 hours

Swam:  28:52 minutes ("1,450" yards -- my watch says 1450, but I'm not so sure ...)
Biked:  0 hours (0.0 miles)
Ran:  5:01:43 hours (34.4 miles -- no aqua jogging miles oops


Monday: 35 minute easy run
Tuesday:  45 minute easy run 3 mile tempo run*
Wednesday:  50 minute aqua jog
Thursday: Speedwork! (and nice fun easy recovery swim in hotel pool)
Friday: 35 minute easy run
Saturday:  35 minute aqua jog
Sunday:  Long run: 18 miles

* not approved, or appreciated, by coach (oops again)

Monday's easy run was just that: nice and easy.  It was the day after my 16 mile the day before, so I wore my compression socks and enjoyed a nice pace.  I ran 3.41 miles and averaged an 8:47 pace.  With tired legs on top of a hard run the day before, I was super psyched with this run.

Tuesday I was supposed to do 45 minutes endurance pace.  However, I had to pick my kids up at CCD and because it was their first class, it was only 30 minutes instead of the normal 75.  So I thought I'd get more bang for my buck and just tempo run that mo fo.  I ran 3 miles in 23:45 (7:55 pace).  I was pumped!  My coach ... was not.  He reminded me that 95% of the time, it is a mistake to train really hard.  I told him I knew I'd get in trouble and he laughed so we're good.  And I'm hopeful that this was one of the 5% where train hard = ok.

Wednesday was supposed to be an aqua jog but I was traveling. I scrapped it.

Thursday I was away for work in the middle of Pennsylvania.  I had a pretty challenging speedwork workout which was supposed to be done on a track: 20 minutes endurance + 4 x 1 mile at 7:30-7:45 & 2 minute endurance recovery + 10 minute endurance.  I didn't have access to a track and the road that I ran on (partly with Amy) was pretty damn hilly.  Plus it was super humid.  So rather than kill myself (I'm ascribing to Bill's Ironman mantra of "this isn't a suicide pact, it's a training plan"), I modified it to account for the elevation, which Amy dubbed "nature's intervals".  I did 20 minutes endurance + 3 x [as hard as I could do on those effing hills] & 2 minute recovery + 5 minute endurance recovery.  The workout took me 53:20 and I ran 6.2 miles.

Afterwards, I hit the hotel pool, which was amazing! It wasn't exactly a 25 yard pool but felt pretty close.  The only thing ... I didn't have a bathing suit.  Or a swim cap.  Or goggles.  Luckily, the pro shop outside the pool sold goggles, so I bought a pair and just wore my black sports bra and black compression running shorts.  This sexy beast attacked that hotel pool with wild abandon.

Friday was just an easy endurance run.  Nothing much to say about it.  It was 35 minutes, and I ran 8:40 pace and 3.89 miles.

Saturday was supposed to be an aqua jog, but in keeping with my track record for aqua jogs this week, I bagged it. I had the kids, it was raining, we were scheduled all day ... so the aqua jog didn't happen.

Sunday:  LONG RUN!!! Amazing long run!!! It was an 18 miler all at endurance pace (8:45-9:15) and the kids and I visited my parents in South Jersey so I could get it in early on Sunday morning.  The run took me 2:40:54 and I was an average 8:56 pace.

Honestly, I was faster.  But I had to stop and walk 7 times because of dogs.  Dogs ... why's it always gotta be dogs?  I could only see 3 of the 7, but those that I saw were scary.  I am, admittedly, afraid of dogs, having had some scary experiences in my life with dogs.  So when I see one while I am running, I slow to a walk move away from his territory and stay calmly walking until I'm far enough away. Most of the dogs were ok and just barked, but one (thankfully behind a fence) was growling and snarling at me, which was terrifying.

In any event, when I was done, I was psyched.

And I celebrated in the proper way this time!

This week is more of the same: runs, aqua jogs (please, for the love of God, be the last week of the aqua jogs) and the Philly Rock & Roll Half Marathon on Sunday.  I am racing it (my friend's plans changed so I'm no longer pacing her).  Hoping for a big fat PR that day.

See you swoon,

Friday, September 12, 2014


What I Wore {post 49}

Wow, it's the middle of September already.  I'm still clinging onto Summer with my kung fu grip, but I can tell Fall is right around the corner.  Here are a handful of late Summer outfits.  

* Printed Grey Top & Emerald Green Pants *

I bought this top at Target a few years ago.  I never seem to have enough prints, so any time I find one that I like, I grab it.  I liked the way the two colors complimented one another.  I wore my double strand belt from Athleta to tie in all the grey.  

* White & Navy Striped Dress & Coral Sweater/Belt *

I just blogged about this dress!  I wore this a bunch every Summer.  In this case, I wore it with a bunch of coral: coral cardigan and coral belt.  I like that the dress works in Spring, Summer and early Fall. 

* Orange Sheath Dress & Printed Flats *

I bought this dress at Old Navy last year around this time.  I know it was on clearance for around $12. I couldn't resist!  I love the fit, even if the fabric wrinkles like crazy after half a day's worth of use.  I've worn the double-strand grey belt with this dress in the past, but I wanted a brighter look on this day, so I left the waist alone.  I wore my new favorite flats - printed floral flats from Boden (ooh it looks like they're on clearance now! get them!)  I love them!!!  They are really sweet and cute and comfortable.  

There you have it: three new looks.  Soon enough these posts will feature all things Fall.

See you swoon,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Stairwell Gallery: stage 1

Finally.  Finally!  I finally got started on my stairwell art gallery project.  

My stairwell is right in the center of my home and is very open.  It is begging for something on the walls, and I felt a gallery of frames filled with art, kids' art and family photos would be perfect for the space.

For the better part of the last year, I've been going back and forth on whether to paint the house first and then do the gallery or do the gallery and then figure out if I should even bother painting the house.  I went with the latter.  I'm hopeful that once this space is transformed, I won't feel that overwhelming need to paint the house.  That's wishful thinking, of course, because this paint color is awful and I want to murder it every time I look at it.  You know ... if one could actually murder a paint color. 

It's also taken me awhile to get to this point because I had to buy a bunch of frames of varying sizes.  Rather than drop hundreds of dollars and do it all at once, I have been buying a few here and there on my many trips to Target, Home Goods and Ikea.  I also bought a gallery set from Pottery Barn right around Christmas when there was a big sale with free shipping. Behold: Frame City:

I stored the frames in my dining room for the better part of this year.  My thought was if I saw them sitting there, I would be inspired to get the wall hung sooner, since they would sit and taunt me.  This was a good idea in theory, but a little thing called Ironman demanded all of my time and energy.  So the frames sat until the week after Ironman.

I decided to break the project into two stages: (1) stage 1: I would hang the frames and (2) stage 2: I would fill the frames.  I had a handful of things that I knew would go up, but by and large, I had a bunch of empty frames.

I had some pieces that I knew I'd use: the picture of the kids and their cousin that my mom drew and framed for me:

The awesome print I picked up at the Hatch printing company in Nashville:

I framed one of my favorite literary quotes ever:

I incorporated the adorable art Molly made out of a coaster:

As for the rest, I had a bunch of kids' art work and prints and figured I would decide which photos to order and put in the frames once everything was up on the wall.  I got started by placing all of my frames on the floor in groups.  I had four walls to work with, but I only worked on three, because I want to have a shadowbox of my Ironman pictures, medal and race bib professionally framed, and will base that wall around that piece.

It took a little trial and error, but that's the way these things go.  Once I made my arrangement on the floor and liked it, I traced the frames on paper and used painters tape to hang the paper on the wall, following the steps that I used in this tutorial from a few years ago.  It's also key to measure on the paper where your hook is, so you can simply nail through that, remove the paper and put up the frame.

Here are my three walls!  The first wall I did was the one at the very top of the steps.  Ignore the artwork in the two white frames at the top. I'm going to switch them out.

I mixed things up a bit.  I felt that four walls with tons of frames may have been a little much, so I did two walls with a lot of frames and one wall with four oversized IKEA Ribba frames, which have my very simple and easy DIY art that I blogged about last week.  That wall was the tallest one and the hardest to hang the frames, so I wanted to do it just once.

The one wall on the main floor leading to the downstairs playroom has the DIY canvas that I blogged about last week and the picture of the kids my mom painted.

Next up: I have to get my Ironman shadowbox done!  Once that is done, I can hang that final wall and then I can figure out what goes in each of the empty frames!  That's the fun part! 

See you swoon,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

© 2010-2013 Swoon Style and Home. All Rights Reserved. | Custom Blog Design By Penny Lane Designs