Category Archives: House Projects

Pinterest Project: Photo Ledges

I decided to try to complete one pinterest project per month and make one pinterest recipe per month this year. (caveats: My list may change slightly as I go AND it will not be evenly spaced at one/month. But will aim to do all 12 from each list by December)

I’m a little late getting started, but I (mostly) finished my first one! I found this pin that incorporated photos over a couch using Ikea Photo ledges.


I made a quick trip to Ikea (and Five Guys. and Target) in Detroit and came home with all that I needed! Mark promptly hung them for me and I picked out some pictures. And voila!

It’s a bit different than the sample (We were too tired to figure out how to offset the ledges. maybe someday). I also need to get some different/more pics for the top ledge, I think. But for now, I’m calling this one finished!

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It’s Finished!

We’re doing a happy dance at our house tonight; the basement is finished! As one of our family goals for 2013 and a “must get done before the next baby comes” project, I’m so excited to cross it off our list!

If you remember, this is what it looked like back in January:

We made the decision to donate, recycle, and throw away things, rather than try to have a garage sale or sell things on Kijiji. We probably could have made a little bit of money, but at the end of the day, it was more important to just have the stuff gone. It was such a relief to have Mark haul off 3 carloads of stuff and for us to not have to touch it again! There’s still another load in the garage to go (With some bigger things) but for the moment, we’re in good shape.

Here’s what the basement looks like today:

It’s still a fairly miserable space because the ceiling is so low, but it’s clean and there are clear paths all around now! And, for the most part, we saved things that we need, not things we might use someday. (I do have a shelf of decorating items that are on a lose it or use it basis. I need to incorporate them into the decorations of the house or I do need to get rid of them. But for now, there’s space to store them.)

Our remaining projects for this year are getting the rest of the gardens weeded and ready for winter, a quick organization of the garage (I have bigger plans for next year, but for now we just need to clean it out), and a reworking on the linen closet. We also need to get Mark’s office moved back to the guest room and get the little room converted back to a nursery. We have a lot to do in 11 weeks! I guess we need to stay busy :).

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King of the Jungle

We’ve been busy around here. Between growing baby #2 and taking care of baby #1, we’ve been working hard at finishing some projects that have been on our list for a LONG time.

Our landscaping has continued to be a bear that we wrestle with this summer. We made a lot of progress last fall and earlier in the summer, but there was a big jungle in our backyard waiting for us to tackle. We had it clean once upon a time 3 years ago, but alas, the weeds came back!

We recently added this cleanup to our “must get done before baby comes” list. And we’ve been able to dedicate a few weekends to it recently. I’m happy to report that we conquered it!

Here are a few before shots:

And here it is today:

(the second pic is actually of our fence by our driveway, where we removed 2 vines and transplanted the rose bush).

We had hoped to pick up some plants 1/2 price this fall for the jungle corner (maybe a small flowering tree and some perennials), but I’m not sure we have time/weather left. We still need to clean up some other beds before it gets too cold.

We feel really excited about this though! This means that all but 1 of the beds have landscape fabric and mulch down (the ones we did last fall don’t but they seem to be holding up without the fabric). Our hope is that next year, we’ll be in maintenance and plant mode and won’t have to be embarrassed by our yard!

Stay tuned for an exciting basement update….the maze is almost gone!!

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The Basement: A status update

Remember our family goals for this year? One was to clean and organize our basement. We did okay at first; we spent a few Friday nights hauling boxes into the living room and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. But then we hit a wall: HOW would we get rid of stuff? Kijiji (kind of like Craig’s list)? A big yard sale? Facebook buy/sell groups? Or just donate it? There’s a lot of stuff, but is any of it worth the effort of trying to sell it? Or do we just need to bite the bullet and get rid of it and be done?

We’e been stuck here since, oh, January. Last weekend, we did the horrible thing of moving all of the junk we had sorted through and earmarked to get rid of BACK to the basement (and garage) because we needed to use the front porch (where we had been storing it all winter). Oh! and we had another mini-flood down there a few weeks ago so everything is in piles and mountains.

So, all of that to say: we’re back to where we started. Or maybe even worse. There are a ton of projects calling our name outside, but we haven’t forgotten this big one.

In the meantime, if you ever need, well, anything, give us a call; there’s probably one in our basement!

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Family Goals 2013: The Dreaded Basement Project

I mentioned recently that we started some new traditions in 2012 and we set some goals for 2013. The first goal was family days, and our second goal is to conquer the mess that is our basement. Now, my lovely mom tackled this with me soon after Mark and I got married.

At that point, though, I technically couldn’t get rid of anything until I’d lived here a year (because of immigration/importing things). So, we just put stuff on shelves, etc.

Then, last year, we had an unexpected flood. A lot of stuff was off the floor, but there were some cardboard boxes that got wet. Our basement is miserable (barely 6 feet tall) and I was pregnant, so we just repacked stuff and left it for another day. In the meantime, we just kept adding stuff down there. We have made some attempts to clean it up, but it’s really been more about moving stuff around instead of getting rid of stuff.

It’s now gotten to the point of ridiculous. So, our family goal for 2013 is to conquer this mess once and for all. We’re going to get rid of stuff (kijiji, garage sales, trash, donations, whatever). Hopefully we can make a little bit of money, take stock of what we have, and make that space a little more functional (it’s never going to be the star of the house, but…). Did I mention getting rid of stuff?

I’ve also decided that I’m going to work on making our home more homey this year by working on 1 room per month, and hopefully by going through the basement, I can find things that can be used for that goal (helloooooo pinterest).

Anyway, to kick off this project, I decided to make a video, highlighting just how bad it really is:

(sorry- you don’t really get a comprehensive view).

I’m happy to report that we’ve started this- we tackled the random home improvement shelves…kind of. We sorted all of the stuff into tool boxes, made a small pile to give away and will ask my dad to go through the stuff with us this spring and tell us how much of it we can get rid of (it feels like we own a hardware store. Which is ironic because it’s not like we’re expert DIY’ers. let’s be honest: we’re not even¬†amateurs!) oh, and I folded the laundry and took a bunch of random boxes for recycling. Baby steps!



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Freezer Challege

The time has come. I need to do a freezer challenge!

I LOVE the freezer. I put everything in there (whether it really deserves to go in there or not!). Freezing things lets me stock up when things are on sale, in season, or I’m just stocking in Detroit. We joined Costco this summer, so my freezer is getting a work out!

In November, I decided that I needed to do a freezer challenge- I needed room for a Christmas turkey and some other things. I also wanted to get my grocery budget back under control. So, for the past 3 months, we’ve been eating from our freezer.

This is what I’ve decided:

Our freezer(s) are like Mary Poppin’s bag:

(photo source:

3 months of eating from our freezer and there’s still food in there! now, granted, I’ve been shopping some and in fact in November and December spent probably more than my grocery budget. But, we’ve been making an effort. In January, I’m over $100 under budget…and we haven’t missed anything! (well, except the cookie dough I usually keep in there…hehe).

The most remarkable thing about this…I don’t feel like I’ve cooked a meal from scratch in months. Which doesn’t seem possible (I really thought the freezer was on the empty side in November…much less December…much less January!) Every day, I go to the freezer, open it up and pull out something at least halfway prepped. The most brilliant meal was last week when I pulled frozen, cooked pasta out, cooked meatballs, and homemade spaghetti sauce to make a pasta dish. Mix it together, pop it in the oven, and call it good.

I just set aside our meals for the week, and I think I have enough meals/components for 2-3 more weeks in there. Let the freezer challenge continue!

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