Tuesday, July 29, 2014

monday made it....cute craft closet!

My first "Linky" of the summer!!

I'm linking up with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics for a Monday Made It.

I know....it's Tuesday...but better late than never.  Also, unlike most projects on this linky, this isn't a classroom/teaching based project, but it's definitely one I'm proud of sharing!

After years of living with all of my crafty/DIY materials scattered about in about seventeen different places around my house (okay...maybe seven....but it felt like seventeen when I had to find something)....I finally have corralled them all together in one place.

My new.....Craft Closet!

Please note....all photos were taken on my phone in low lighting....so don't expect super high quality here.

First.....time to be real with you all.   Although I think of myself as an organized person, one who doesn't deal well with clutter, when I get busy (also known as "September through June")....I tend to pick one place to pile up the clutter when I just don't have time to deal with it.

Here's what the closet in my guest room looked like before this transformation....yikes.


Left Side....Top.

Left Side....Bottom.

Right Side....Top.

Right Side....Bottom.

I'm a tad embarrassed to show this, but I also love a good "Before and After" comparison.  

So, luckily my family was having a garage sale this summer and I ended up selling enough to make a good dent in all of that stuff hanging out (some of it literally) in the closet.  

I started out with SIX baskets of purses.....and now I'm down to just four.  For those who know me well, that wasn't easy.  I loooooooove purses!  The other basket was wallets, and I downsized those, too.

The bed in my guest bedroom first became a dumping ground for all of the clothes I was going to sell or donate.  Yes, there IS a bed under there somewhere!

Once all of my garage sale stuff was cleared out, it was time to collect all of my craft items in one place.   This made it much easier to see what type of storage I would need, and I could start grouping like items together.
 Sorry, guest room bed.....you'll see daylight soon.

This left me with a completely cleared out closet.....a blank slate for my organization-loving self to embrace.

Perfect time to clean the shelves, walls, and floors that had been covered up for a while.

My next stop was my favorite store....Target of course....to stock up on some items I needed for this project and a couple others I had in the works.

I wanted to do a little something extra....a little something cute....a little something different....to make this stand out from other closets I've recently organized.

Target came through again.
I was in the paint aisle (for another project I'll blog about soon) and saw that they have "wallpaper".  Not the typical wallpaper that people cringe about taking down because it's been literally glued to the wall. 
It's actually more like contact paper....just thicker and higher quality.

And of course, since it's Target....it's absolutely the cutest.

So I found a print I loved, in a color that coordinated well with my paint project, and I brought it home and used a good amount of patience, along with a little compromising with my semi-OCD self, to get this result:

You may already notice the "compromise" on the bottom, right-hand side.  There's a section that I couldn't get to match up with the rest.  Since I had decided to put the pieces on horizontally, I matched up the sections the best that I could, but since I had precut the three pieces I had to shift them down to match.

That left a little section at the end of each piece that was "missing" and had to be replaced with another piece that didn't match with the pattern.

My advice....don't precut all of your pieces.  Also....it probably would have been quicker and easier if there was someone else to help hold the paper while I smoothed it down.  Like I said.....LOTS of patience.

However, since I knew I had some items to put in front of the wall, I wasn't too worried about it.  Most of "that area" will be covered the whole time. :)

So I brought in the drawer cart and storage container I got from Target, along with a bookcase I transformed from a thrift-shop find.  The bookcase will get it's own post soon.  :)

And then I just started filling in the rest!  Lots of these were organization items I already had, so in the end this project didn't cost very much at all.


Left Side....Top.  
Purses, wallets, and less than half of the clothes I had in here before!

Left Side...Bottom.
Scrapbook paper supply, craft books, baskets with random items, and a paper cutter.

Right Side....Top.
Gift wrap storage (the long gray thing), extra totes, and a shelf of crafting items.

Right Side....Bottom.
Extra frames, and lots of craft items now grouped and stored in containers!

Here's a closer look at some of the groupings....

I put this on Instagram a couple days ago....I found this adorable jar on clearance at Meijer, and knew exactly what I could use it for-- my washi tape collection/obsession!

The three little boxes (super cheap- from IKEA) hold smaller items, like this one that has mostly ribbons.

Underneath those, some extra small frames in a cute basket that my washi collection outgrew, and any extra fabric and my glue gun/sticks (underneath the fabric) are stored in this cute Thirty-One bag.

This larger storage box (from IKEA) holds all of my stamping and card making items. I had more than I remembered....mostly because they weren't all in the same place.  Now I know not to buy more!

Small scrapbook papers, stickers, and other embellishments filled one drawer.

Hole punchers, and other cutting tools (including my adorable mini-paper-cutter) filled another.

This storage box was the perfect size for my extra gift bags, and party plates, napkins, and straws.

I relocated this basket from my bedroom and it now holds all of my "adhesives"- glues, tapes, and sprays.

This box, which holds all of my extra greeting cards, got a little makeover with some extra wallpaper and....of course....washi tape!  :)
That pot and plant (fake) are both from IKEA.  It serves no purpose other than to be cute.

This tray.....which once held things in my bathroom....got cleaned up and is now holding some of my paint supplies.  The rest are in the bottom drawer in the cart, along with other larger items.
The little drawer set next to it just holds smaller items that would get lost in the other boxes/bins.

That's about it.  Except for some labels that I'll be making for those boxes/drawers.  Yep, even when I'm "done"....I just can't stop organizing!  

I can't tell you how exciting this project is for an organization freak like me.  Not only does it make it easier for me to find things when I need them, but now I won't buy things I don't need.  I'll be saving money and crafting more now that this is finally done!  :)

And now....guests can stay at my house again.
The bed is free!

Monday, July 28, 2014

summer kale pasta salad

It's summer.....although you wouldn't know it today.  Late July in Michigan, and it struggled to get out of the 60's. This is usually one of our hottest stretches of the year, but today feels a little like fall.

Not that I'm complaining....I don't wish for a repeat of the heat waves we've had in the past few summers.

There is a point here.
Trust me.

So....as summer comes, my food cravings change.  I think it's pretty typical-- I don't crave warm, hearty soups, stews, and heavy pasta dishes.  I generally want meals that don't (a) require me to use the oven/stove, and (b) are on the "lighter" side.

However....as I have written about in the past in this post, I am a huge fan of pasta, even in the summer.
My "summer pastas", while lighter and definitely more figure-friendly, still require me to crank up the heat in my kitchen.  Not my favorite thing to do on a hot summer day.....but today.....

Following me now?  ;)

I decided with the cool weather today, what better time than to make a new summer pasta dish!

A couple weeks ago, a coworker saw that I was making kale chips after I posted a picture on Instagram....and she told me about this recipe she just pinned on Pinterest. (Thanks, Maggie!)  Since I had just bought some kale at the store yesterday, I decided to make it today.

My recipe was inspired by this Kale Pasta Salad by the Pioneer Woman.  

Summer Kale Pasta Salad

First, I assembled all of my ingredients like the good little blogger that I am....and in true "my own twist on things" fashion, I changed up some of the ingredients to fit with what I had at home and what I love.

What I used....
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Bowtie (Farfalle) pasta
Grape tomatoes
Slivered almonds
Salt & Pepper
Shredded cheese

First, I poured about a quarter cup of slivered almonds into a small pan and let them slowly warm/lightly brown up over low heat.  I would shake/turn them once in a while, and probably left them on the heat for about ten minutes.  The original recipe used pine nuts....but (a) I didn't have any at home and (b) I LOVE almonds!  This was one of my favorite parts of the salad.  Their crunch was the perfect complement to the softer texture of the rest of the ingredients.

At the same time, I brought a pot of water to boil, added a little salt to the water, and dumped in a pound of pasta.  Although I generally stick with whole grain pasta only, for this recipe I really wanted to use the bowtie pasta like in the original recipe.  So I "splurged" a little.  Honestly though, you could use any short-cut pasta that you like or have on hand.

Next, I broke apart a bunch of cloves of garlic, and did the fun "pound the flat side of the knife on the cloves" trick to get the skins loose.  You could just mince the garlic at this point, but I have a crazy love of using my hand grater to finely grate garlic.  
So that's what I did. I just don't have the skill (coordination) to take a picture of me doing it.  ;)

I coated the bottom of a large frying pan with olive oil (I don't measure....sorry), and then grated in the garlic.
Smells.  So.  Good.
And then, because I LOVE grape tomatoes, especially when they get warmed up and burst open....I added those to the pan after the garlic had some time to infuse the oil with its deliciousness.

(NOTE:  I added about a cup of tomatoes to start, but later (not pictured) added another cup because I thought it needed more)

When the pasta was done cooking, I drained it and poured it back into the hot pot (off the heat).
Then....when the tomatoes were just starting to shrivel a little, I poured the garlic oil/tomato "sauce" over the cooked pasta.

Add a little salt and pepper at this point, and just let the pasta sit and absorb all that flavor, and the tomatoes will continue to warm as well.

Drizzle in some balsamic vinegar to give it an extra "zip" of flavor....but be careful.  This stuff can be strong.

Meanwhile....I had ripped the leaves off the stems of a bunch of kale and then gave it a good "rough chop".
Which is a cooking term meaning.....not fancy.

Then....all of that kale gets dropped into the SAME pan you made the garlic oil in.....which you DON'T wipe out after pouring the sauce into the pasta.  It's the perfect amount of oil/seasonings to cook the kale. I just kept tossing it over low/medium low heat until it had wilted down a bit.....kind of looking like this.....

Then I added the cooked kale to the pasta....

Sprinkled in the toasted almonds....

And while the original recipe called for shaved Parmesan at the end, and that sounds amazing....I didn't have any at home.  I did have shredded mozzarella....so I added about a cup of that.  :)

This is a great time to check your seasonings....a.k.a. take a taste.

I felt like it needed a little more pepper, so after adding that I mixed it all up and that's all there is to it!

Like I said....it is a great summer salad, but you could have this any time of year. 

I had a large bowl of it for dinner and it was SO filling....but it would also make a great side to something off the grill.....chicken, burgers, steak.....so many ideas of what I can eat with the leftovers!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

even knife blocks can be cute

I'm back!  It's been so long since my last post.....and of course, I blame life.

And work.   

Mostly work.

So now that my summer is in full swing, and I've caught up on some things that have been put on the back burner for so long, I now have.....dare I say it....free time!

This week, I've been finishing up some small projects around the house, so I thought I'd share a few of them on my little blog-who-has-been-neglected.  

Today's project was inspired by two things....

First, I was cleaning my kitchen cupboards out (like the full-on, taking-everything-out-and-cleaning-the-inside-and-outside type of cleaning) and decluttering everything in my kitchen.  Getting ready for a garage sale in a couple weeks!   

Second, I was also starting a big reorganization of my craft supplies and was looking through my washi tape collection.  And realizing how much I love my washi tape but "need" to use it more.

So, if you're following my train of thought....which I realize is hard sometimes....I was thinking as I was cleaning, how can I use my washi tape to brighten up a few things in my kitchen?  

And here's what I came up with for project #1...

Simple and Cheap Knife Block Makeover

Okay.....so I didn't just use washi tape.   I painted it, too!

Here's the quick play-by-play of how to do it.....but honestly, if you're at all crafty, you probably have it all figured out by now.   Plus, there's no one way to do this.  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!   (Cheesy, I know)   :)

First, assemble all of your craft goodies.
I spread out something to protect my counter, and took out a piece of sandpaper, painters tape, paints and paintbrushes, and of course....washi tape!

Clean your knife block.  Just soap and water is good.
(If you're like me....that part of the knife block in between the knives, which has been neglected for a while, might be pretty dusty.  Oops.)

Give it a good sanding down.   Nothing too crazy, just enough to make it easier for the paint to adhere.
Wipe it down and dry it well before the next step.

This step is only if you're like me and couldn't decide on one color....so I decided to use two.
Use some painters tape to mark off the areas where you want to divide your colors.

Then, paint away!  I used two coats of each color.

I was a little impatient and didn't want to wait until the gray was absolutely dry.  Instead of taping it off, I just took a small flat paintbrush and slowly cut in where the colors met.  Worked perfectly!

Let it dry completely.  I just let it set out overnight.

Choose your washi tape.....and because it's easily removed, just try out a small section first.
Since a lot of washi tape styles are somewhat transparent, it's a good idea to check what it will look like on top of a color.

I ended up loving this coral-colored, chevron tape with the paint colors I used.  It was so fun to try the tape in different positions.

This was one of the easiest projects ever, and I'll be doing a few more to feed into my washi obsession!
Stay tuned....