Organizing!

Hi, my name is Elizabeth, and I am an organizer.  I love to organize.  Mostly I love getting rid of useless crap.  This past weekend, I had the chance to do a lot of it.  I went to visit my boyfriend at his parents’ house, and he decided that he was finally willing to actually clean his room (instead of just stuffing everything into a drawer or under the bed and saying “clean!”).  So we spent two days going through his closet, drawers, desk, bookshelves, and under the bed.  I discovered things that hadn’t been touched for 10-15 years.  We’re talking about elementary school here – scary, isn’t it?!

Unfortunately I didn’t take any before pictures, but here are some “in progress” pictures.  This was actually about 2/3rds of the way through.

Newly organized bookcases.  Sorry for the blurry picture!  (And don’t worry, the cord got fixed later.)

Here’s the closet now.  In case you can’t tell, he collects shoes.  If you think it still looks full now, it was overflowing before.

After we went through everything, we were able to rearrange his furniture and make a much more functional space.  Functionality was definitely the key to this space.  I would have loved to keep going and redo everything, but all he wanted was a functional space that he could spend time in.  Now he has it!  (And I may have a future as a professional organizer.)

P.S.  You’re welcome. :)

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Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Container Gardening

I’ve been inspired by spring!  I’ve never been very good at growing things (see here), but I decided that I wanted to try gardening this year.  Part of my reason is that I’ve been cooking more, so the idea of having fresh herbs just a few steps away is pretty tempting.

A friend loaned me The Bountiful Container, which is an incredibly helpful and informative book.  I decided I wanted to grow flat leaf parsley, oregano, basil, chives, and bell peppers.

When it got to the actual planting, I realized I really didn’t know how much space each of the plants needed, so I did what I thought looked good and we’ll see how it turns out!  I did a container with the parsley, basil, and oregano, another with a pepper plant and chives, and the last with two pepper plants.

I also picked up some gerbera daises that I just couldn’t resist – we’ll see if I can keep them alive!

Also, for anyone who is concerned about my ficus, here it is today.  Still not fully recovered, but definitely doing much better!

And here’s my little garden!

Any gardening tips for a beginner?  Please share!

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Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies

My family makes maple syrup, so I’m always looking for opportunities to add its wonderful flavor into food.  I recently made some cookies with maple syrup, and they turned out okay, but weren’t anything special.  Here’s the recipe I used (its basically just an adaptation of the Tollhouse recipe).

  • 2 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. pure maple syrup
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 oz chocolate chips

Beat butter, sugar, syrup, and vanilla together.  Beat in eggs, then add dry ingredients.  Mix in chocolate chips.  Bake for 10 minutes at 375.

I actually made a half batch, which was a little tricky (see here for more about my issues with cooking for one person).  The dough seemed a little liquidy to me, so I added another 1/4 cup of flour or so and then chilled it for a while before baking.  Next time I’ll definitely use Grade B syrup (its darker and has a stronger flavor), because the maple flavor wasn’t very noticeable in the cookies.

Do any of you have a good maple cookie recipe?  Or any another maple recipe?  Please share!

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Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Candle Displays

I have two spots in my apartment that I always have trouble decorating.  The first is the top of the bookcase that divides my living area from where my bed is.  Its one of the first things you see when you walk in the door, and its basically in the center of the room.  The second is my “mantle”.  It’s actually just a shelf, but I think of it as a mantle because it’s the focal point of the living space.

For the bookcase, my biggest challenge is filling the space.  Here’s how it looked back in December.

I liked the look, but once winter was over I had a hard time figuring out how to update it.  The vases got moved around to other areas and for a while I just had a few small things scattered on it, which didn’t really make it the focal point I wanted it to be.

Here’s my latest version.

I bought the candleholder so that I would have one piece to really focus on, and then built it up from that.  It was sorely lacking in color at first, so I added the ribbon to the candles, but that really wasn’t enough – the candleholder was just fading into the bookcase.  I looked around and saw the yellow fabric, which I’d gotten as an option for another project but ended up not using.  It was a great bright spring color, so I just folded it up and then put a piece of glass on top of it (from this project).  Then I added some tea candles (because I have a lot of those and not so many pillars), and also a few extra little mirrors leftover from my bulletin board for a little more sparkle.

My “mantle” has always been pretty empty, because I’m still looking for a mirror or some other large object to really build things around.  Here it is in December.

I moved some of the candles to the bookcase, so I had to fill it in a bit.  I used the pieces of slate that my mom mailed me.

It’s pretty simple, but it’s working for me right now.  The “faith” in front of the slate reminds me that a little faith is really all you need to make it up the mountain you might see in front of you :).  I’m still looking for something to add a little height though, so any ideas would be much appreciated!

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Cooking for One

I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to eat better.  Not necessarily healthier, but more interestingly.  When you live alone, its easy to fall into a very boring pattern.  A chicken breast, a sandwich, a frozen pizza, a bowl of pasta.

It’s not quite as fun to try out new recipes when you don’t have anyone to share them with, but its definitely still worth it.  In the last few weeks I’ve made Italian Wedding Soup, a delicious stuffed pepper filling (ground turkey, orzo, romano cheese, onions, and garlic), meatloaf, and pesto from fresh basil.  But since I’m only one person, I had way more than I could eat of all of this.  So I froze a lot of it, which is great, because now I can have a delicious homemade meal in about 5 minutes.

However, my freezer is only so big, so I really do wish there were more recipes out there for only one person.  I’m actually quite surprised there’s not.  So many people live alone or eat alone regularly – its a huge market waiting to be targeted!  I do make just one serving of chicken or pasta frequently, but its not very exciting.  And occasionally I mis-measure and end up with way too much – like the time I made pasta with carmelized onions, toasted walnuts, and romano cheese.  At the last minute I decided I wanted some leftovers, so I added some more pasta to the pot without really thinking.  I ended up with so much that I ate it for at least one meal a day for about a week and a half.  I wish I was exaggerating.

But anyway, my biggest challenge is baking.  I have a huge sweet tooth and love to make cookies, brownies, cakes, and anything else that sounds good.  Unfortunately most recipes make at least 2 dozen cookies/brownies and they’re very hard to cut down.  I need 1/8 and 1/6 measuring cups (and a way to split an egg in half accurately)!  And I’ve just given up on making cakes :(.  It’s not quite as enjoyable when you have to force yourself to eat it before it goes bad!  I’d love to find some good one-person desserts.

So do any of you have any advice about cooking or baking for just one person?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

Catching Up!

I feel like I’ve been away from blogging for forever!  I had a bit of a creative drought and didn’t have any projects to talk about, but now I’m back :).  I finally got around to hanging up a few things that had just been propped up against the wall for weeks (my bulletin board and a mirror).

I also made a very simple ribbon holder.  I’ve seen some gorgeous ones out in blogland, but I just went for very quick and easy.

Yes, it is propped up on a couple of nails.  Don’t judge me.

It doesn’t look like anything special and I’m not sure how sturdy it is, but it works.  It also fits in the very strange cupboard I have – the shelves are so narrow that I can’t actually store anything in there, but putting the ribbon in there frees up some more usable space.

Keep checking back, more to come soon on my adventures in the kitchen and the garden!

10-Minute Ottoman

An ottoman has been on my project to-do list for a long time.  I don’t even have a before picture because it was so pitiful – I was using the cardboard box that my sewing machine came in with a random piece of fabric thrown over it (and not even a pretty one).  I had an elaborate plan in my head of building a box with a lid and upholstering it all, but it was a long way from actually happening.  Then I saw this ottoman at Target for only $20.

It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it had the storage I wanted and the price was hard to beat, so I bought it.  When I got it home, it seemed a little bland, so I decided to cover the top with a more interesting fabric.  I just cut out a piece of fabric a little larger than the top and stapled it around the sides.

It took me about 10 minutes and now I have a much more interesting personalized ottoman for under $25!

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