“Building” A Capsule Wardrobe: Reclaiming the Closet

2017 is starting off quite well for me but I know I am being an awful writer in many respects. I write sporadically. I vent (too much) rather than educate. I stifle my own creativity by engaging in distractions like Facebook, letting my true work fall to the wayside. My writing, when I do engage, is taking on a new form. I am blending my stories more strategically into larger stories instead of providing a story fully about me or fully about said larger topics. This work reminds me I must constantly decide what is more important to me.

Too often, I don’t have the time to balance two blogs, a 40 hour work week, an almost 10 hour weekly commute, keeping my house clean, my kid fed, my family happy, receive sufficient sleep, and fit in my workout routines. For this reason, I write to say my home blog will become more sporadic than it is currently. There are so many other bloggers who can devote more of their lives to this process, and mine will be a personal security blanket to remind myself I’m making progress in areas of my life which impact this house.

My other blog is taking on a higher importance in my life. This space is helping me build the foundation to a memoir I hope to complete this year. This website, by comparison, will be my reprieve from that work, a place to bemoan the cost of painting supplies and paint. This website will be a place to discuss “gaining” closet space by using that empty space above the basic shelf and closet rod left by builders only seeking to gain a buck, not to build a truly personal space only homeowners can appreciate.

In not wanting to leave you empty-handed today, I completed a recent “project” worth discussing. The husband and I—both being lured in by the concept of a capsule wardrobe—took steps to clear out the master bedroom closet. We are clothes hoarders. There I said it. Yes, like many Americans we make the conscious and unconscious choice to hold onto things no longer useful in our lives. Ill-fitting clothes. Outdated fashions. Clothes, once worn, which prove they are not well designed for our messy lives.

My husband parted with much more than I did and donated all usable articles of clothing. He had a whole large black trash bag chock full of clothes we dropped off at Goodwill. I cannot begin to tell you how amazed I was by how much more organized his side of the closet looked once the excess clothes and cheap wire hangers from the dry cleaners went away.


The black bag is full of donations and that tiny bag is full of clothing too worn and tattered to sell or donate.

Unlike my husband, I did not choose to donate clothes this time. A few weeks ago I signed up for another Stitch Fix and back in January I requested a Clean Out bag from ThredUp. My Stitch Fix order will arrive in April and should only be full of bottoms. I never request a box of only one particular item with the exception of this upcoming shipment. I parted ways with a number of pants so the logical thing to do was order strictly pants.   Opting for ThredUp, versus Goodwill donation, also made sense financially. An identifiable gap I found was my array of shoes. My current pair of flats will shortly be on its way out and I find the color choices/style of certain shoes only works with particular outfits. Footwear is not an easy category to replace and I want to purchase a couple pairs of higher quality shoes, like a pair of Tieks flats and most likely a beautiful pair of flat boots. I might look into a good neutral color and one bright pop to add interest to my personal clothing collection.  (As you can see I also took the time to purge my daughter’s wardrobe over of too small clothing.  She had a good number of Gymboree pieces.)IMG_1909

Here’s what I provided to ThredUp, cleaning up our home and hopefully generating money for some replacements.


This bag should be processed in late April. Fingers crossed I have enough money to buy a pair of Tieks.

I made the choice 10 weeks ago to invest in the Fighter Diet and my wardrobe—happily—is bearing the brunt of this investment. Not too long ago, I redid my measurements and with 5lbs. and 6 3/8” lost, I cannot fit into older pieces. Pants are my biggest challenge currently. Thankfully, my skirts and dresses, the newer pieces in my wardrobe, fit well and as the weather warms up won’t leave me with as many gaps in my wardrobe as I expected when I started cleaning yesterday.

The funny thing though is my clothing moods (as my clothing choices convey, in my opinion) are grounded in comfort.  I love a good pair of jeans any day, but can’t wear them to work but on Fridays.  Therefore, I only take things up a notch to business casual.  If a piece is too high maintenance of a fabric, like silk, it does not belong in my closet.  I will forget fabric care instructions.

After reading about capsule wardrobes in [Magnolia Homes magazine] I looked more critically at my wardrobe categories to match my lifestyle. My life is mostly about work, fitness, and errands/downtime with my family. My wardrobe somewhat captures this reality and I categorized my remaining pieces as follows:

Exercise/Lazy Day Clothing

-2 pairs workout capris

-5 shirts

-6 pairs leggings

Cold Weather Tops

-2 solid color H & M cardigans (red and blue)

-1 purple cowl REI neck sweater

-16 long sleeve and ¾ sleeve tops (button downs and flannel)

-2 ribbed H & M cardigans (grey and beige)

-1 fleece

-1 dressy White House Black Market sweater

-1 souvenir hoodie (from my home state of Rhode Island)

Warm Weather Tops

-12 t-shirts (my favorites graphic tees are from United By Blue)

-2 dressy tops

-7 casual tank tops

-2 dressy tank tops


            -1 jean blazer from White House Black Market

-1 work blazer from H & M


-7 camisoles



            -14 dresses (business casual)

*Mostly items from Stitchfix and White House Black Market


            -5 skirts (a couple from REI)

-2 Sport Kilts

-4 prs jeans

-6 business casual pants

Cover Ups

            -1 short sleeve shrug (white)

-1 ¾ sleeve shrug(black)


-1 pair Five Fingers

-1 pair running shoes

-1 pair nude stilettoes

-1 pair purple stilettoes

-1 pair black ankle boots (casual)

-1 pair gray closed toed shoe (casual)

-1 pair brown kitten heels

-1 pair green flats

-1 pair blue sandals

-1 pair blue wedges

-1 pair black shoes (casual flats)

-I pair brown cowboy boots

I still have some work cut out for me, as I have not yet tackled my dresser. It’s full mostly of undergarments, tights, socks, exercise pieces, and scarves.

I’m not usually brand specific about certain things but socks and tights are an area of more concern to me as an adult. Over time, I’ve found I am happiest wearing tights with skirts and dresses rather than pantyhose and White House Black Market is my go-to place. I can’t tell you the last time I bought pantyhose since $3-$5 a pair and two wears later I have a rip or two. Instead, a good $15 investment in a pair of WHBM’s tights so far have lasted me two years. During my deployments, several pairs of Smartwool socks gave me great comfort through hot and cold weather. When I’m not being picky about socks and tights, my playful side comes out. I adore holiday socks. My Halloween ones will be replaced later this year but my Christmas socks are holding strong.

From this (quite practical) exercise—and I hope our former clothing finds good homes—I have space to express myself differently. I know I have a penchant for casual and business casual clothes. I’ve been reluctant to dive deep into “true professional” clothing, mostly out of my fear too much of my work wardrobe will require dry cleaning or constant ironing. (Trust me, I try to remember to request machine washable and dryer friendly clothing for my Stitch Fix selections, but I did forget in making my April order.) Additionally, while I don’t need many new shoes, I would like to add a few pairs of Tieks in the next year. I enjoy flats but I need something to replace my current pair and based on my preference for comfort, a longer lasting shoe is necessary. At $175 on the low side, I plan to start with a good neutral for maximum wear potential.

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These outfit suggestions from Stitch Fix are great.  I took a photo so I could clear this paperwork from my home office.

Below is my “organized” closet reveal (sorry for not taking a before photo).  It’s not a beautiful space yet but once I can purchase a wardrobe from IKEA the space will be better organized and appealing to the eye.  If you want ideas to organize your own space, check out their site.


Lastly, if you need help considering how to purchase new pieces when you see gaps in your wardrobe it helps to consider “cost per wear.”  If you want another perspective–the person’s whose capsule concept is discussed in Magnolia Journal– check out this post from Unfancy.

Thanks again for dealing with my sporadic presence.  Have a great weekend.


Home Office: Beginnings


Happy Sunday, everyone!

We are starting to make progress with remodeling our home office. One of my favorite pieces is the glass notice board we picked up from IKEA. What’s not to love about a $20 piece of glass to decorate our doors. What else do you do with a door?! So far, we’ve put one of these notice boards up on our home office door, our daughter’s bedroom door, and our bedroom door.

My interest in using a notice board started when I saw this beautiful acrylic (and well outside my budget) calendar on Etsy. (Note: There are cheaper acrylic wall calendars but I fell in love with this one and I think the Etsy owner does great work; I just cannot afford this item.)


We had plans to use a mirror my awesome hair stylist donated to me for a calendar but now that we found the $20 IKEA notice boards, my mirror will just be a beautiful mirror for this space.

Our design concept is starting to fall under the Option 2 from my last blog post.

Our remodel space planning setup

After we purchased a second desk last weekend, we lined the desks up together. We will work more on cord management after we paint but the back of the Alex desk which covers cords on the desktop does help the desks look less cluttered. (The irony is I do have a great home office in the beginnings and as I write to you today, I took my laptop downstairs to write while my daughter watches new episodes of How to Train Your Dragon.) The exercise bike is still located in front of the window as we have not yet replaced our Crate & Barrel bookcase with shelves.

We purchased a second IKEA Alex desk last weekend as it was offered for $129; the first one costs us $179.
The upside to moving the bookcase to the same wall with the door is the room feels bigger than its true size.

I love the rich mustard color of these curtains. We bought the Waverly curtains on sale at Lowe’s awhile back; now they aren’t showing this color available but the citron and indigo are just as beautiful. Unfortunately, we don’t have a great curtain rod up right now so they don’t look quite as nice as they should. They are designed for a 2″ or larger curtain rod, but we’ll solve that issue down the road. I do believe larger curtain rods are one of the easiest ways for a home to look more pulled together and upscale than it is, just like how larger base boards have the same effect for walls and floors.


We have a bit of a love affair with globes and the one in our office is a favorite. I have no qualms either about purchasing more globes as time goes on. So if you see five or seven globes down the road, please understand at some point I will cut myself off from adding to my collection.


We enjoy reading and are getting our daughter into the habit as well. Her personal library stays in her bedroom but aside from this large bookcase, we have a smaller Crate & Barrel bookcase to hold the remainder of our book collection. When we lived in California, it was fairly normal for us to go to Barnes & Noble every weekend. I still have books on my bookcase I haven’t finished (and sadly, some books I haven’t started) but I cannot part with them. I keep an eye on something and have made a stronger effort now to borrow (rather than purchase) books until I can finish what’s already on my shelves.


One of the touches I love most in this space is my Setu chair. (Right now, it’s at my husband’s desk on the left since he takes it when I’m not working in the office.) I saw this chair at Design Within Reach and we kept discussing saving up for this chair. Their website shows the Chartreuse chair as being $630. The staff at Design Within Reach were exceptionally graceful as we discussed loving the feel, look, and construction of this chair. I write a lot now so having a great chair was a must in my life. I picked up this Setu chair through a silent auction at Arizona State University for only $190. It’s not the same beautiful color as the Chartreuse but it’s something I can live with in order to get the more important aspects.

Hopefully, I can keep this lighter colored chair clean; I am always so worried about having to maintain white furniture,  white clothes,  and white walls. If it’s white, it needs to be an easy to maintain white.  (For the time being, the room is staying white until I can figure out what else to do with the room.)

Question for you:  If you were to share a home office with someone else, what is one thing that is very important for each of you to have in the space for it to be your own?




Space Planning: Home Office/Exercise Room/Future Baby Space?


In lieu of New Year’s Resolutions (Who keeps those anyways?!) I created a list of numerous personal, financial, and home-related goals. This year I have some very big plans for making more significant strides in personalizing this home. I am in the beginning stages of some of these goals and others I won’t start until later this year.  I am very determined to not let my modest income keep me from having the life I want.  Aside from gathering ideas from Apartment Therapy, IKEA, Houzz, and basically anything else I can find, I take a realistic look at how this house doesn’t fit my lifestyle and try to configure the space to meet my current and future needs.

The idea of adopting or having a second child is not necessarily a new one for me.  I knew after having my daughter I was not going to be one of those women who has back-to-back children.  I researched a year before I made the decision to have my daughter and currently, I am researching adoption.  I’ve chosen academic and non-academic books to aid me in my decision.  One of those non-academic books, Instant Mom, makes me realize how much more apprehensive I am in considering adding a second child to my family.  There are certainly no guarantees that having a biological or adopted child in our future will happen but now I have an additional person, my daughter, to consider in this decision.

A newborn child is too young to share a room with a sibling and therefore, one of the things I’ve considered is how to minimize bringing in too much baby gear.  I know we don’t need a playpen, a glider, a baby changing station, and even a crib is potentially unnecessary.  Before you let your jaw drop, I am not saying a safe sleeping space is unnecessary.  

Some time ago, I learned about the popularity of baby boxes.  Actually, I am pretty certain this item came up after news talked about a Finnish baby box being sent to Prince William and Duchess Catherine.  I thought it was kind of interesting but at the time, without an immediate desire to have an additional child, I just let the idea rest there. Now that I am researching the possibility of another child in the family, I know my budget must intersect with available home space.

One of the most important things I recognized about having a child in the U.S. is how much baby crap you are expected to buy when you are expecting.  There is so much gear that honestly is not really needed.  My daughter suffered from acid reflux and for many nights she would fall asleep on my chest than in her own crib.  The only reason the crib wasn’t a waste of money is that my sister-in-law, my husband, and my sister-in-law’s two older girls used it before we used it for my daughter and then it went back to my sister-in-law when her last child was due.

Thankfully, there are smaller sleeping arrangements to start with than a crib.  We could pick a baby box from The Baby Box Co. this cute Summer Infant brand infant travel bed or a cute Moses basket.  During the night, these small accommodations would work well in our bedroom and during nap time, the baby could sleep in our spare bedroom.  This room could balance our office needs, exercise equipment, and a little one.  I feel silly sharing my beliefs that I really would take up a more minimalist approach for a second child.  A sleeping arrangement and an IKEA storage cart (for diaper storage items) would make up “the nursery” part of this multi purpose room.

Here are some space layouts that might be possible.  I think my only concern is if we moved the desks (we currently only have one IKEA Alex Desk) I don’t know how much it would cost to install an outlet in the floor.  Even then, I don’t know if I’d want to put an outlet in the floor until we remove the carpet and replace it with cork floors or a wood grain tile.


Option 1


Option 2


Option 3


Option 4


Option 5


Option 6


I still need to create a floor-to-ceiling layout.  We currently have a large Crate & Barrel wooden bookcases, a bistro table and two stools, and a rolling kitchen cart we use for our printer that will not go back into the room once it is redesigned.  Our storage needs will be better met as well once we redesign the closet in this room but I have more planning to determine what IKEA closet system works best. I am a big fan of the Elvari collection. For now though, here are some images of what will eventually go into the space.



We already have two of these awesome carts in blue.


I love these float frames from Artifact Uprising.

I am thinking a combination of three of these frames in 12″ by 14″ together would be a suitable arrangement.  With the amount of modern touches and deep colors in the furniture my desire would be to pick some very brightly colored photographs from our collection to have framed.  In particular, one of my favorite choices is from our attendance at a hot ballon festival in Cody, Wyoming.


Another Wyoming favorite would be this one below; my family friends in Wyoming own Cowtown Candy and the beautiful pops of colors in these lollipops would be a beautiful touch in our home but also a wonderful memory to share down the road that you just can’t get with store-bought art.


Pottery Barn has a selection of shelves and ledges I enjoy but I still need to decide what combination of shelves (12″ deep) and ledges (6″ deep) will help us provide ample wall storage so we can replace our bookcase.

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The last piece if a Little Bit #2 comes along down the road would be this baby box below (or one of the other options I mentioned earlier) but I am getting kind of fond of the idea of something simple that can serve a separate purpose after a child outgrows it for sleeping. I love the owl pattern.  It’s my favorite pattern.


IKEA Adventures: Designing for Small Budgets

I need a little peace in my day so here I am writing about one of my favorite things: IKEA.  I love this store.  I go in, have a zen moment (until I’m interrupted by other customers), amble along, have another zen moment as I zip through room layout over room layout and I don’t start to think more critically until I go downstairs to the Marketplace.  This is until I decide to check out the little Swedish market and lose my mind all again, hopefully that one day my beloved hazelnut chocolate bars return.  The chocolate cake makes me happy, too, but I do miss my chocolate bars.  Seriously, what’s not to love about IKEA?!


I don’t have a lot of big remodeling projects on my mind at this moment.  We took some of our former IKEA bathroom organization pieces (from the rental) and moved those into our kitchen.  This change allowed us to free up counter space somewhat, which we have subsequently filled with other counter stuff.  Why can’t I help myself?


Post-IKEA “remodel”…Look at that organization.

I wish we could tackle bigger projects right now but we buy bits and pieces for small projects.  The vanity below is what I want to replace our current pedestal sink with downstairs once we can save up to redo the room all at one time.  We will also replace the current toilet with a dual flush model, the same one we used upstairs.  Paint is still to be decided and I cannot wait to pick a more luxurious mirror and some additional storage pieces.  The walls are greatly under utilized.


The piece below was one of my favorites.  My husband and I have discussed exploring adoption more seriously and I cannot help but be drawn to this cute little crib that turns into a toddler bed.  (Plus I’m short; at 5’2″ I need as low of a crib as possible if we have a baby in the house again.)  It’s a nice simple setup and we discussed how we need a lot less baby stuff than we thought when we had our daughter, Avery, back in 2010.  I will completely forgo a changing table, a playpen (because we won’t be doing much travel), and  while I didn’t have one before, a rocking chair.  This small home needs careful attention when it comes to large pieces coming into the space.  If I want something big, it better be going on the walls.  I have lots of real estate in that department. 🙂

Until my next IKEA adventure.



Decluttering Inspiration: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (From Someone Who Has Not Read the Book)

Hello, 2017!!!

I am very excited 2016 is over and 2017 is off to a great start.

I wasn’t looking forward to the end of last year since fireworks tend to bring on a lot of anxiety for me so I started yesterday evening cleaning a part of my home that’s been driving me crazy since….oh, basically we moved in and piled crap in there.  (Ok, not everything in there is crap, but I do own–as many Americans do–more things than what I truly require to get by.)  I decided I would try to one up my anxiety by tackling a decluttering project shortly before the fireworks began.

Some time ago I saw The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo at Barnes & Noble. I decided to not pick up a copy since I’m fairly certain this month I can pick up a copy at my local public library (please don’t take all available copies, ok?).  Like many other Americans who feel overwhelmed by stuff after Christmas, I know it’s a good thing to take hold of motivation to tackle clutter when that motivation rolls around.  For me, I tend to clean (more intently) when something brings on anxiety.  It might be concern over a passing grade, work stuff, and yesterday, fireworks.  Fireworks (nearby) are very stressful for me.

I know there are many things in my life that don’t bring me joy and clutter is one of those things.  Clutter is constantly in my life in so many different forms: half-filled lined books, my daughter’s school papers (honestly, I’m not keeping everything she brings home), store receipts, worn out/ill-fitting clothing, my list could keep on going.  Yes, I am just as vulnerable as everyone else when it comes to clutter, but I didn’t want to wait until I read Marie Kondo’s book to say I was ready to make a change.

Am I following her rules exactly?  Probably not.  If you want to follow her teachings, grab the book.  I will probably still grab a copy as I continue on this journey, but yesterday I wanted a distraction towards a positive focus.  Cleaning (and decluttering) works for me.

I’ve decluttering and downsized a lot over the years.  Each move required making choices about what to keep and bring forward in my life.  With military moves, my nervousness regarding staying within our allotted weight limit, approximately 9,000 lbs., was a factor.  Nearly everything we own was purchased individually and/or as part of its respective set (dining sets and bedroom sets) and the weight of an item was hardly ever a factor.  The weight of an item became a big deal when moving it in, out, or around the apartment and later the first home we rented, which wasn’t until our move to Wyoming.  Towards the tail end of our time in Wyoming we planned to move to Okinawa, Japan and trust me, we weren’t allowed to bring 9,000 lbs. of stuff overseas.  Downsizing was a necessity, especially if we decided to live out in town rather than family housing on base.  Japanese housing is not built for oversized American furniture.

While the move never happened (don’t worry, we still have plans to visit Japan someday) we did eventually move again and downsizing, while less dramatic than our hasty departure with a California King bedroom set and large sofa when we desired a permanent change of station to Okinawa, helped us immensely.  We fit our possessions (approximately 5,400-5,600 lbs. worth) into three storage units while living with my in-laws.

My decluttering project yesterday (and today) was more rewarding than unloading those three storage units.


We have one of those closets under the stairs and it’s become a repository for underutilized things, paper goods storage, and home to our dog’s food storage container.  We have fun dreams about adding a ‘cupboard under the stairs’ sign, but it will not become a childhood hangout spot like we’ve seen in some model homes; my daughter who is an avid fan of the Harry Potter movies would love it as her spot but let’s be honest the space is needed for storage not for a fancy hangout away from mom and dad.  This place is just over 1,200 sq. feet and with our triple digit summers we cannot afford to keep some things in the garage.

Decluttering this wedge shape space required some serious discarding, more than I originally thought.  I know this space had some ‘junk’ issues.  I expected to come across some things which would be easy to discard, i.e. perfectly usable retail store and gift bags in fun, bright colors.  When I first brought those things into my home I loved the things in those bags but wanting to be sustainable, I planned a second life for them.  I would later use them as gift bags for future presents.  Those bags were picked up some time in late 2015 probably, moved with us in May 2016 and still were not used.  Hello, recycling bin!!!

I am the sort of person who likes lists.  Lists remind me I accomplished something, even if the visual results lack evidence of my labor.  Below is the list of things I set aside to donate (to my local Goodwill, specifically), recycle, or discard if the item was too worn out or not appropriate for donation.



2 Pottery Barn striped Euro shams

1 United States Marine Corps lanyard

1 Devil Wears Prada dvd

1 The Family Stone dvd

1 Little Pim French language children’s dvd (unwrapped)

1 Artist ruler

1 roll Christmas fabric ribbon

1 pkg Sharpie multi-color paint markers

1 Leather iPhone holder

1 Coach leather key chain (free item, comes with purse but I never use these!)

5 pillow cases

1 white fitted sheet, full size

1 flat sheet, twin size? (I forgot to check.)

1 blue sheet, queen size

1 sheet set

1 red laptop bag

1 brown throw (from Walmart)

1 small BevMo reusable shopping bag

1 container Origami paper, multi-color

1 Monogram wax sealer (a holdover from when I was planning our wedding reception that never happened…story for another time.)

2 pkgs. red wax (for monogram sealed envelopes…see above for explanation.)

1 LeAnn Rimes “This Woman” cd (thankfully I can listen to her music digitally)

1 LeAnn Rimes “Sitting On Top of the World” cd (see above for explanation)

2 Invader Zim dvds

6 writeable dvds

1 small lined journal (gift from a former student but I already have several which suit me better)

1 Save the Last Dance dvd

1 small purse

1 set Brazil Butt Lift workout dvds (Honestly, I felt like an idiot doing these workouts back in 2011/2012 whenever I bought them and this year I’m proud to say I am doing Pauline Nordine’s Butt Bible Challenge instead to get lifelong results. She is an impressive person who I follow on Instagram and Facebook.)

36 Writeable dvds

1 Pizza Math kids’ game (hopefully, my kid doesn’t kill me for donating it)




5 retail store bags

1 bark collar instruction manual

1 clipboard

4 pk markers

1 pkg. wireless wipes

1 Rachel Ray magazine

1 cardboard folder

4 local business magnets

1 pkg. heavy duty magnets (FYI, only the sides of my fridge are magnetic)

1 partially used leather mini notebook

7 used Post-It Notes (during our 2016 house hunting adventure)

1 homemade Halloween costume

1 Homebuyer brochure for 1571 E ORCHID CT B, Gilbert, AZ (We considered buying this home earlier this year but got out bid.)

1 Total Gym dvd (We donated the total gym earlier this year.)

3 old Christmas card

1 school project flyer

1 small gift bag with tissue paper

2 old Department of Veterans Affairs education Certificates of Eligibility (personal info removed)

1 old envelope (personal info removed)

1 Tooth Fairy Post-It (my daughter left it so the Tooth Fairy knew it was her 2nd tooth)

1 fabric hookless shower curtain (We downsized on bathrooms with showers in our current home.)

3 birthday cards

2 empty cd cases

2 Arizona State University event programs

1 Rental check-in/out sheet (personal info removed)

1 old Financial Planning (undergraduate course) folder with homework

1 Food Network The Chocolate Issue magazine (2012)

1 store catalog

2 fabric color swatches from Design Within Reach for a Herman Miller chair (Fun story for another day but we scored this model of chair for less than $200.)

1 KitchenAid mixer instructions

1 plastic red top (kids toy)

2 pieces old artwork with damaged frames

1 damaged photo frame

2 construction traffic signs (My late father-in-law used to work for the Wyoming Department of Transportation which is how we acquired these things.)

1 2016 Arizona State University Graduation Commencement program (I earned my degree.  I don’t need more paper clutter to show my achievement.)

Carpet remnants (hopefully, these can be recycled)

1 disposable razor handle

1 business card

1 plastic kid’s bracelet

1 Basha’s card (Nothing against Basha’s by the way.)

2 sheets Newsprint (moving packing material)

Old Post-Its

1 broken laptop cooling stand

1 Connor Homes Catalog of Homes



1 pair women’s boots (ok, these didn’t come from the closet but I was on a roll)

1 pair men’s boots (ok, he was already throwing these out the same weekend, but again, it counts)

2 Desert Botanical Garden expired cards

2 Desert Botanical Garden expired admission tickets (expired 12/31/2016)

1 Men’s Warehouse store receipt

1 green dog bone (Our dog makes such a mess with these.  We bought a bag and after she had one we were done with these products!)

1 empty battery box

1 Dutch Boy paint chip sample

1 check (shredded)

1 receipt

1 pile Christmas fake snow (the fluffy stuff sold at Walmart)

1 small party favor container of bubbles

1 bag of 7 day food beta fish tablets (Seriously, my daughter’s fish died in like October 2016. What is wrong with me?!) The bag was in our kitchen, but again, I was on a roll and it needed to be tossed.

1 opened container Ice Breaker mints (These have been in a box at least half a year..I’m not eating them!)

1 old box with metal pieces

1 cd

2 photos

I didn’t plan to part with so much, but I also cannot believe I was also holding onto so many items I (or my family members) no longer needed, wanted, and most importantly, enjoyed in some way or another.  Thankfully, much of it can be donated so others can find joy with these usable items.   As you can see, even without reading Marie Kondo’s book, I was inspired to make one change which has multiple impacts.  I took simple inspiration from the table of contents (see below) to stay determined through my two day task.  Find something similar that works for you (and your lifestyle).  I didn’t have a whole week on my hands to go crazy cleaning up everything but I had a number of hours and the desire to distract myself from fireworks.


Below is what I (and my husband who chipped in significantly today) accomplished for our respective space (39.5″ by 76.5″). Disclaimer: Some items have been relocated to their more appropriate space in the house and some items, like the Osprey bags (left photo) were not originally in the laundry closet, but our hallway closet, but with the newfound space we could make use of the wall space.   Happy cleaning and decluttering!!!










An American Lawn Story

Life gets in the way of life.  This election.  Parenting.  Pet parenting. Commuting for work. Dishes that beg for attention.  Laundry that sneaks up on you (and hides for a day in the washing machine, after being washed).  The fact it took me 55 minutes to drive to my daughter’s school from my work and I was almost late picking her up.  All of this ‘living’ has gotten in the way of me wanting to share a story with you all.

My dog, my beautiful (probably 100 pounds by now) cuddle monster (aka Cane Corso baby), hates my yard.  She lets me know in not-so-subtle ways…like repeatedly peeing on my Target outdoor rug.  Yes, I bought two in the past, but she peed on the prettier one that I displayed more prominently on my tiny patio.  The beautiful white and blue chevron striped one that graced the front stoop of my past home.  I felt like my home was starting to get fancy because I was incorporating more bold pieces to balance out my understated staples, namely wood pieces.  My dog peed on it over and over again.  We cleaned it over and over again as a result.  I was determined to salvage my rug….but there was no saving it from repeated damage.

I can’t blame her.  This home, while quaint, has large rock in the backyard in lieu of grass or a full concrete slab.  It is not an appealing yard space but I have dreams that will satisfy me for now and hopefully a small patch of green will keep my dog from peeing on the new rug, which I won’t get until after her needs are addressed first!

I will not invest in real grass in Arizona.  I know some people adore having a real lawn, the feel of, lovingly maintaining it, followed by great appreciation when said lawn rivals all others in the neighborhood with its perfect full thickness and height, bright green color, and even patterns of cross-cut mowing.  Not me.

I want low maintenance.  I kill all things green.  Plants cry at the sheer idea of being gifted to me.  Flowers wither as I pass them in the grocery store.  Home Depot would probably ban me from their garden section if they realized the kind of damage I can do to plant life.  (In fact, perhaps that’s the reason they didn’t hire me the year I left the Marine Corps.  Just a thought.)

My idea of the ideal lawn is artificial turf.  I can’t kill it.  It doesn’t require the care of a regular lawn (albeit watering is still necessary).  My dog might actually pee on it, saving me from many rug purchases for years to come.

I will be saving up to get Little Miss Picky her astroturf dream space before next summer rolls around.  However, it is fun to scout around for now (see fun below) and figure out how much her pampered dreams will set me back.  (If anyone wants to crowd fund a backyard for me, I won’t mind.)




Home Office In Progress: My Desk


I am very thankful IKEA exists! I could not pull my house together (without significant financial distress) if it were not for businesses like IKEA. Raising a family on one full-time income at this time is exceptionally challenging and I do not want to forgo personalizing this home based on my tight finances. Hence, my love for IKEA.

We decided our spare bedroom would become a home office/workout room. Although the small space was already outfitted with an office desk from American Furniture Warehouse, the space was not designed with two people in mind. As an amateur writer, it does not always bother me to plop down in a chair or on the couch to write using my laptop. Longer writing sessions though call for a designated space. With my husband in law school, I cannot always compete for the original desk.

IKEA and its affordable designs are becoming mainstays in my place. Let me just say I also love their advertising (see below).


I also love the one about the divorced dad recreating his son’s bedroom. You can check it out here.

I know there are many families, like ours, that run into tight financial circumstances.  Others desire to spend less on things like furniture, housing, and dining out to fund other short or long term goals (higher education, family expansion, travel, a career change, etc.).      After making a number of moves, I became more and more hesitant to make expensive furniture purchases and more particular when picking higher priced pieces.

I continue to see that western style furniture is too large and heavy to go “just anywhere.”  For this reason, I’ve had to part ways with a Cal King cherry wood bed, its matching armoire, and dresser.  I’ve also sold a beautiful oversized fabric and leather couch.  When I thought we would move to Okinawa, Japan and our housing accommodations would be even smaller than the rooms in our 1950’s Wyoming rental, it was important to downsize on furniture as much as possible.  The upside was also spending less money on furniture.

I was a bit of a mess scouting around for my own office desk.  I am a bit more of a mess when spending money on furniture since I’ve dealt with two past periods of unemployment.  I know if I’m spending a lot on a piece of furniture it better be a piece I want to have in my own house for 10+ years.  If I’m shopping around for an inexpensive piece to replace something worn out or out-of-style, I still want it to be functional and fit into my design aesthetic (as much as possible).  I also hope after the furniture is no longer needed by our home, we can donate it to another family (or person) in need.

It’s important to know, in case I haven’t mentioned it before, but the majority of IKEA purchases require DIY skills.  My desk fits into this particular category.  I seriously recommend bringing a friend over (if you don’t have a partner/sibling/incredibly helpful neighbor available) to help build any large piece of furniture you buy from IKEA.  Invite them over for pizza and beer (or their other favorite vice).  IKEA also offers delivery and assembly services, if you don’t mind fork over some extra money or don’t want to impose on those closest to you for assistance.


My desk in progress:


Sometimes I seriously wonder how many allen wrenches IKEA “sells” since these little guys are in nearly every “put it together” piece of furniture I can think of; we still needed to use another wrench but that’s probably more a reflection of our skills and less IKEA’s manufacturing. Perhaps…

I do love my desk though.  I love it more than my work desk.  For only $179 I got something that is very practical, visually appealing, and has the right amount of storage without imposing on my foot space.  I love the metal legs and the gray color.  Ok, I adore the gray color.  (Yes, I also have plans to paint the exterior of this home gray but that’s another adventure for years down the road.)  Gray is beautiful even if not everyone agrees with me.


My desk is a beautiful addition to this home and while it doesn’t have a beautiful/highly functional/ergonomic chair to match (yet) we’ll get there someday. Today is just not that day and tomorrow isn’t either.

It’s almost my bedtime and I have a partly taped downstairs hallway calling my name tomorrow after work. I definitely need my sleep.

Sunday Painting Project: The Downstairs Hallway

Last Sunday I woke up with an exceptional amount of ambition to tackle more painting.  I know, who wakes up around 6 deciding ‘I will paint today.’  Just me apparently.  Before setting myself up with some breakfast I got to work taping our hallway.  I do like that taping helps with the actual painting process but taping is quite a process in itself.  Additionally, it’s not possible to work without drawing my kids in.  Thankfully, my little blonde girl is easily drawn away with an iPad or an episode of Pokemon XL.  My fuzzy girl was bound and determined to steal floor space while she could.  The hallway is, after all, one of her coveted spots.


Do you like my Invader Zim painting sitting on the floor?!  It creeps out my daughter which is why I don’t have a home for it yet on my walls. IMG_0245IMG_0246IMG_0247

I am glad we found the butcher paper at Home Depot.  For me, it’s a much better solution to tarps and look, I found a perfect task for the blue Painter’s tape.  The harder work was left up to the FrogTape but I will let you know as an amateur painter I still did not get clean sharp lines throughout.  My secret way to win the game…tear up the baseboards later, replace them with nicer baseboards, and a finishing classy touch with crown moulding.  Moving on…

I had to stop and eat breakfast.  The initial part of taping and covering the floor took up almost an hour of my time.



Taping doors is definitely one of the least enjoyable tasks.

Overall, it took me a couple hours to fully tape up the baseboards, doorways, and ceiling.


I’m not sure what kind of paint is on the wall but every scuff, piece of dirt, and dog slobber becomes highly visible.  Goodbye, white!

Do you remember my challenge with paint sitting out?!  Yes, the paint separates out even more.  This time our Behr Marquee Dawn Gray was bright blue throughout at the top of the can and took some constant stirring in the can and on the paint tray to stay consistent throughout.


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As you can see from the photo below our walls do not have the same appearance as the paint chip from Behr.com (above).  What I love about the color we choose is how different it appears based on time of day and the amount of natural light in the space; it varies from a strong ship gray color (closer to the paint chip) to a stormy deep blue.  This color is not for everyone but I am not having white walls everywhere anymore.  I will have touches of white and later, maybe some wainscoting but fully white walls…no.


The project neared completion around dinner time and I am happy with the results.


Waiting for the paint to dry.


My moody colored walls…I LOVE THEM!!!

From our adventure to go with deeply colored walls I will say I am most surprised the dark walls don’t make the place (as small as it is) feel more closed in.  Instead, I feel the opposite.  I think the color makes the space more inviting.  It is cozy and I am not looking at dirty walls all the time.  I’m so happy.

We are putting our decor items back up but we’ll have more things in this space in the future and in a few days we’ll put the IKEA lockable storage cabinet back up as well.  We found this item when we lived in our rental and loved the playfulness of it.  I couldn’t imagine a room where I couldn’t use these.  We stopped ourselves at two though.

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This almost finished space already feels more inviting.  I can’t wait to paint the front door down the road and add a few handmade items I’ve been admiring online.


A Clean Home, A Cleaner Mind

I write to you all tonight with a sense of relief.  This week was a busy one.  I let my house fall apart a bit this week and it’s been tough to relax seeing a myriad of unfinished chores.  Half painted walls, partially emptied moving boxes, and sadly–please don’t judge me–we still haven’t put our luggage from my Albuquerque trip back in the garage: these things all haunt me and remind me that I’m being lazy.  My first grader (yes, she’s getting that old) started school not too long ago bringing back a daily deluge of kid paperwork and with my husband entering his first year of law school, my home is not so slowly being filled with piles of law books.

With my schooling “complete” for the moment, I need a new hobby.  Reorganizing my life at this moment is becoming my mission.  I am facing the box after box (when I tackle them) of things that are taking up unnecessary space in our home and these items–while still usable–belong with people who need them more than we do.  For the things that are well beyond their utility, it’s the recycling bin (if they are made of the right stuff) or the garage bin.  I find that these tasks require I have an inspirational person to follow who believes in decluttering.  For awhile now that person has been Michelle from One Fit Widow whom I follow on Facebook.  Her blog entry, New Year’s Baby Steps, motivated me earlier this year to take some steps of my own and I thought we were doing well when we decluttered our rental and packed up to move into our current home.  Haha…not so much.  There’s still so much that I’ve been holding onto that is not serving a purpose in my life.  Additionally, I haven’t faced up to the fact we have some things we use ALL the time that has just met its demise and needs replacing.

As such, we carefully make some practical purchases from REI this weekend.  We picked up some hot beverage containers, which are made of recycled materials.  Our old ones made it into the recycling bin today.  We also replaced our well worn water bottles and recycled those as well.  We also got some clothing needs met too since REI had some decent sale items.  I picked up two United By Blue graphic tees.  I am a sucker for t-shirts and since they are one of my favorite weekend wear items many of my shirts are seeing the end of their lifespan.  I have other things I bought through ThredUp that I haven’t been wearing too much of recently so those hit the donate pile and we’re dropping them off later this week with some shoes, two kitchen dining stools, and two suits my husband no longer wears.

Currently, I’ve become quite a fan of StitchFix for clothes because the stylist I’ve worked with has been great with perfectly fitting petite clothes.  I have the hardest time finding things that fit just right in stores so when I really need a few overhaul items I schedule a clothing fix.  So far, I’ve only returned two items, a necklace and a wrap blouse.  The dresses have been my favorite things so far and I will probably try out a pair of jeans for fall sometime.

Anyways, I know I am getting distracted.  Haha….

The house is looking better now that we have our piles of “Donate Stuff” set aside and the other items were moved out to the recycling bin and trash can.  My closet is slimmed down and now it will be easier to plan out my fall wardrobe as the weather cools (eventually).  I am dreaming of fall so much right now.  I love October.  It is my favorite month.

My mind does feel more at ease now that I’ve tackled this simple project.  You might be wondering what happened to the table that goes with those chairs.  I had plans to use it as an “entryway” table upstairs in the hallway but it is too big.  Now my plan is to take it apart and see if I can use at least one of the leaves as a shelf.  It may (or may not) work but I’m willing to try something new.




Design Inspiration:#magnoliamakeover

Like many of my fellow Americans who are HGTV fans I am smitten with Fixer Upper.  As such, I have been falling over myself trying to be considered for the #magnoliamakeover contest.  So far, my photo of my sad little patio was not considered and I decided to enter again, this time with a photo of my master bedroom. However, if this room’s not chosen, I might break down and enter in a photo of our office.  Currently, it’s burdened with a bunch of moving boxes, an exercise bike, and extra bedding. However, I did pick up new curtains. We needed some for the space but I won’t post any photos of them up in the space until it is 1) cleared out and 2) we get longer curtain rods set up.  The current curtain rod holders are shorter than the length of the window so we have some work ahead of us to redesign the space.  By the way, I love the savings on the curtains!

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Anyways, getting down to business, I spend some time today dreaming about what would be fun to do if I received the prize package (shown below):

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  1. That’s right $1,000 gift card.  Where do I start?!
  2. The paint color was an easy choice; I love the weekend color.  My husband and I both have trouble sleeping, he more than I so we do like to keep our bedroom space as dark as possible.  We currently use black out curtains for our large side window and we found curtains for the two windows bordering our bed that we’ll purchase in the new month or two.
  3. I was a bit torn over furniture.  Our space is not very large and is already dominated by a curio, our queen size sleigh bed, an alphabet dresser, an Amish heater (temporary storage, not in use anyways with these hot summers), a garden stool (as a nightstand) and for some time (to be determined) a bistro table and two metal stools.  (In the past, I found it useful to have a table in the bedroom to do homework on the computer.  Currently, it’s serving as an oversized “nightstand.”)  A chair might do to replace the seating in the room and we can find a new place for the bistro table and stools.
  4. I think a non-wool rug would be most appropriate since my stepmom is allergic to wool.  While my family won’t visit often since they live out of state, I would want my home to stay as comfortable as possible for everyone.

Below is collection of what I love:

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I think the bold Weekend color should decorate the entire space and a thin horizontal stripe of Shiplap would add some beautiful detail.

I am also always on the lookout for additional storage in our home; it’s only 1,200 square feet and I don’t think people make enough use of the vertical space in their homes to maximize their storage needs and/or physical appearance of their spaces.  The dimensional these items add to the space is worthy for their functional and aesthetic qualities.

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Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 1.38.18 PM I really love the coat rack as one of the options to house my growing selection of scarves.  For a number of years I didn’t wear scarves (and I’m still not fond of turtlenecks) but now that I am adding these items into my wardrobe they need a better home than my dresser!

I know the cup rack is meant for the kitchen but it would be a great way to store various fabrics out in the open.

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I am also fond of these dreamer pillows!

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A slab table would partner well with a comfortable chair to round out the space. Oh and a rug (since that’s part of the package).

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Based on the $1,000 gift card the items that were outside of the 2 gallons of paint, a selected piece of furniture, and rug, the items still fall far under the total of the gift card.  As such, I am curious if the money could be use towards other home purchases because I absolutely love these plates and bowls for my kitchen.

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So here’s the space I nominated for #magnoliamakeover.  Hopefully, it’s chosen!






Design Inspiration: Vintage Market & Design

This past week I was in Albuquerque for a conference and had the chance to check out Vintage Market & Design with one of my coworkers.  There are a ton of things I saw that tempted me and thankfully (in the future) I can buy something online from them.  For this visit, I made a very small purchase, both in price and size.  The metal house numbers (below) are a perfect little decoration to use in the house and I have plans to put them up on the master bedroom door once it’s painted.


Want to see the other stuff that tempted me?  There was so much.


And if you have extra time while in Albuquerque, don’t forget to pick up some candy!  One of my high school friends lived out there and recommended Buffett’s Candies.  Thankfully, they do online orders, too, just not this time of year.  I tried the chocolate covered piñon roll and it was fantastic.


Saturday: Projects and Playful Adventures

Hello, everyone!  Not too long ago I promised I’d show off some progress we are making on the house and I am finally delivering on that promise.  One of my favorite projects recently has been turning Dutch Bros. hot coffee lids into framed art for our downstairs hallway.  The company has a variety of inspiration lids to give you a little daily pep talk but I kept a few I really enjoyed and this idea started when we were still living in our Gilbert rental.


Don’t mind the fact the walls are still unpainted in the hallway. I will provide better photos down the road as all the art displays come together.  Putting the artwork together took a bit of craftiness I don’t normal tap into; the lids were not sticking to the scrapbook paper I obtained at Michael’s  with just a thin line of craft glue so I ended up putting glue on the inner rim, the edge and the “gap” between the two areas to help hold the lids on tight then I weighted them down with bags of rice and lentils for a few hours.




The end result for the lids makes me happy and my daughter is (mostly) happy with hers as well. She wanted a shadow box for her room as well but I had a 50% coupon for a frame instead and instead of spending $15 for a shadow box I found a perfectly size frame which only costs me $4.



I recycled the glass pane that came with the frame so we didn’t have a potential accident with the forgotten glass.  If you do something similar and could use the glass frame, I do recommend storing it safely until future use!


My daughter got super crafty and snuck out to use the spray paint when no one was looking so her project has a bit of uneven color as a result. (Life happens!)


We are still unpacking more wall art a bit at time so it is nice to see some playful representations up at this time even if they are a bit lonely.


The living room is now the only room that is completely finished as far as painting goes. We did discover some of our artwork won’t stay up with Command Strips alone however I would still highly recommend using those items where possible.  As someone who rented for 10 years, they are a lifesaver.  Additionally, I still prefer to not put holes in the wall if they aren’t necessary.


Color swatches shortly after we moved in. Top is Behr’s Off Broadway and the lower one is the Behr New Dawn.


This awesome $400 couch is from IKEA.  The star burnout pillows are from American Furniture Warehouse (only $6 a piece).


The color might look dark but it’s lovely in person and bounces back between a rich gray and a bold blue depending on the light filtering into the room.


The danger of not using your paint right away is the color separates.  We obtained a mixing tool that attaches to the drill to help mix the paint again.  Stir sticks are not sufficient for this heavy separation.


Ta da!!!

Again, the room’s not entirely finished so we still have artwork to place but I hope you love the current progress.  Lastly, here’s a peek of our before/after progress in the kitchen.


A reminder of our ‘before’ from May of this year.


The kitchen desperately needed some additional storage and this French Country island fit the bill.


The stools add some nice pops of color.  We saw some high end ones at Design Within Reach but picked up truly affordable ones awhile back from Target (green one), American Furniture Warehouse (blue one), and the one on the right from Fry’s grocery store. 🙂

We also received some unexpected surprises courtesy of our loan officer for the Fourth of July.  Thanks as always for sharing in this delightful journey with us.  I love seeing this house become a home.