Making Current Furniture Work with Shoeboxes!

I love what A Slob Comes Clean’s Noni has to say about cabinets, furniture, and storage bins – they are your natural containers and if your stuff is too much for your container – try re-thinking the stuff, not the storage “solution.” After all, if you’re solution to organizing is to always up size your containers when they get too crammed, well, that’s a container arms race you will never win and I can easily see myself needing to move to a bigger house just for all my future stuff I’d be sure to accumulate!

For example: Too many undergarments for A’s tiny drawer! 

And we are not moving anytime soon. (Remember the goal is financial freedom and selling this house will be a part of that!) SO My current storage options are all I’ve got.

When it comes to kid stuff, it is very easy for me to get overwhelmed with kid thingies. Clothes, toys, books, oh my! However, we only have two dressers completely dedicated to kid clothes – Adelaide’s tall and skinny set of drawers and Huck’s one drawer in a three-drawer dresser my mom gave us that I LOVE. They share the bottom shoe drawer. The top drawer of that dresser has diaper stuff (which we’re not using now hallelujah! But will be again soon for Baby #3.)



Christmas always brings a few constants: the pang to be with family across the country and socks. One or both sets of grandparents is definitely. most assuredly, going to get our kids some socks. Mornings were getting a little hectic going through A’s sock and underthings drawer because she can only wear white socks to school and it was getting to be a hassle to dig them out under all the colored ones, and she can’t even see in there she is so short. I moved out all of the “fun” socks to one of those teal cloth boxes you can see that wasn’t being used for anything and then had nothing but undergarments and school socks crammed in there in a mess. What to do?

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At the same time, all of H’s clothes, except his jackets, live in just one drawer. They were all over the place. It was insanity. The frugal solution (frugalution?) is one of my tried and true favorites: shoe boxes as drawer dividers!



The empty spaces are for underpants (the middle) and PJs (you can see Elmo on the side.) I apparently am behind on laundry LOL. Each type of clothing gets a box or a space created by a box and it helps the kids be independent with putting away their laundry and picking out the next day’s clothes. (And all the parents rejoiced.)

A’s drawer just needed one shoe box to divide her underthings from her socks.


Et voila! A free solution for organizing kid clothes within the furniture we already have. I love using shoe boxes in drawers to make them more functional for our family. It doesn’t have to be a pretty solution because they will never been seen! It’s a great feeling. Are you doing any organizing after the Christmas craziness? Let me know! And… be sure to consider shoeboxes an option!


Trying to Hustle!

Our networth is ALMOST in the -40K range! I think we’re around -53K. At the end of the month we should be in the high -40s!!! I’m really excited about it, because we’re that much closer to being debt free!

I’m trying to take on some side hustles to increase our income. I’m an Uber Driver, and a Rover sitter. Uber is excellent because it is so flexible but being pregnant it is hard to put the kids down, turn around, and go drive around for a few hours making unpredictable income. Rover is nice because I can sit pooches at my own home and my schedule is not impacted any differently than normal since I have dogs I go home and let out, play with, etc. I’m looking into a few other side projects and if I make any progress, I’ll share it here.

In other news, I worked my butt off and bought a washer and dryer super cheap. It cost us $1100 for the set and they will fit UNDER the kitchen counter, so we’ll be able to double our countertop space. We’ll be making and installing the countertops ourselves, so look for a post soon. Should be Monday!

Be well and enjoy the holidays!

ZEE LIST – Fall 2016 style

We’ve got projects to tackle this fall and hopefully they will bring a smile to our faces and make our 1000 square foot rectangle feel more like home.

Without further ado… here’s what we’re planning for fall!

  1. Make a wreath on the cheap with Big Girl. We found a wreath hanger at Walmart off season for 28 CENTS last year. I should have bought 20.
  2. Move the kids into the third bedroom. They fit perfectly in their little 10 x 10 room but I am looking forward to adding kid #3 and seeing how we’ll organize their space.
  3. Turn what was the kids bedroom into a functional organized office space (this may turn into a winter project as well! We have so little storage space and the C.R.A.P. has been accumulating. That’s what we wanderers should avoid but we CANNOT BE STOPPED)
  4. Finish the kitchen laundry conversion – tile, paint, steam hose to outside, cabinet extension?
  5. Box out the carport. I’d love to take our skinny little legs of carport posts and make them nice and chunky, with square columns. We can make that, easy! Just cut to length and screw together.
  6. Paint the brick wall in the carport. I’ve already bought the paint!!!
  7. Landscape, landscape, landscape! Remove the big trees around the house plus all sorts of great stuff.
  8. Shutters for the windows? Maybe from reclaimed pallets – so we can afford it???
  9. Create a snazzy headboard
  10. Sew some faux roman blinds in the kitchen and dining room. I  have some table cloths that are cute that I no longer use since I have a fabulous table that I never want to hide 🙂 So I have fabric options!
  11. Install the cabinet I moved by removing baseboard and mounting it flush, painting it, ad screwing i in the wall.
  12. Hang shelves on the blue wall (and mount the microwave? Countertop spaaaaaace!)
  13. Biggest project we’d love to tackle… building a pergola on the back porch! But how to do it on the cheap…
  14. Clean out and organize the pantry! I’m thinking dollar store…

So that’s what we’ve got in the works! Stick with me and let’s hope I can knock some of these projects out! Some of them are a real doozie… I’m sweating… and salivating over them all at once. 🙂 What’s on your to-do list???

MAKEOVER: livingroom edition (aka: faking an entryway!)

We recently welcomed a brand new bouncing baby…. couch into our home! And Baby Girl Couch told Big Ugly Brother Couch, “You gotta go. Mom and Dad don’t have enough love for the both of us.”And she’s right.

Here’s our little bundle of joy:
Cute Lil Couch

Not being enough love around for the both of them- that is true. I hate the old couch and my husband hates the new one. Long story slightly shorter, my mom and I have these three hour long marathon phone calls in which we talk about everything under the sun. I mentioned how I’m trying to scrape together enough bones for this couch and she starts “mmmcmmm”-ing along with me.

“What’s it called?”
“Something city related. Like, the Soho, or something.”
“What’s it look like?”
“Clean lines, with arms that slightly angle out at the top.”
“Any buttons or tufting?”
“Mom! Never.”
I had one of those Charlie Brown moments. “THAT’S IT!”


When she asked me for my address, that’s when it dawned on me that she was buying the couch! I. Flipped. Out. Turns out it’s my late birthday present. Thank you so much, mom! I LURRRRRRRRVE it. Good things are in store for her, too: her home is French Country, and after a new upholstery job with some blue velvet or burgundy red, or even just a nice smooth chocolate, that couch is going to go perfectly in her home. But, we live two hours apart and her schedule is a little wonky, so there’s no telling when we’ll be able to transport Big Brother Couch to my mom’s place.

So, that brings us to, how in the heck am I going to have these  two couches -one of which is a mac daddy – in my prius-sized living room? I debated moving furniture around in the bedrooms to accommodate it, even  mulling over the idea of temporarily turning our master bedroom into a game room with the couch and TV and the storage room stuff and putting our bedroom stuff in the tiny room, but A. That’s a ton of work and B. I wasn’t even sure it could happen – the couch was too wide and too long to  make the turn in the hallway. It’s even too “tall” when flipped on it’s end to fit through the doorway, so the living room was the only option.

What. To. Do.

I just assembled without considering. I wanted my new couch!
couch helper

And then a little re-arrangeroo came to mind… that totally transformed the place and I absolutely love the results. By turning the orientation of the room and moving Big Ugly Brother Couch to the wall with the window and placing Cute Little Sister Loveseat kind of in the middle of the room, we create a seating area more intended for grownups and their conversations as well as a real live entryway.


Oh, Hey Lunar! I had to move Colossal Cousin Deskington to the little room – no pictures, I have just the tiniest bit of dignity left – and that meant moving the computer to….

Our room.

I am one of those “No TV in the Bedroom!” kinda gals. This hurts my heart. But THIS MAKES MY HOME IMPROVEMENT LOVING HEART SWELL:
A real, live, entryway. A real, live, fake-it-till-ya-make-it, entryway!

How did we do it? To recap:

The desk was moved into our storage room soon to be office and swapped places with the little bookshelves. The couches did a 90 degree turn, and the tree trunk “coffee table/bench” got turned into a  low side table with my peace lily I received as a gift for the birth of my Handsome Son, two years ago. What, you didn’t notice the mad scientist in coverall PJs in the earlier picture? He’s the insane one, with the crazy red hair. <3.


I moved the lamps around so the cords would be hidden behind the furniture, and so far we do not mind continuing to live without a coffee table. Unless we got one of those acrylic ones, I think most anything would be too heavy visually.

One final set of befores and afters:




The function is so much better. And I seem to take better pictures nowadays. The form is obviously a major improvement. And Cute Little Sister Couch is a nice modern foil to Big Ugly Brother Couch, making him not-so-ugly in the process. And all I needed to do was move some furniture around. Duh!!!!

One more time so you don’t have to scroll: 🙂

What are you up to? Any furniture re-arranging? Did you notice I simplified my grid of prints? Sneaky, I know. 😉

A/C units and making our Curb… Appealing

Our asymmetrical windows are unbalanced no more! I swapped the AC unit from the front, street-facing window to the side facing the driveway and am really pleased with the result. It was not as simple as I thought it would be! Still, I was able to do it by myself and within only about an hour.

Here’s the house mostly as we bought it, with humongous bushes concealing the front.img_0849

Here’s after Handsome Husband cut the bushes down. Look! A house! img_1124

And here she is – with symmetry fora  front face!


I started by taking stock of what had to be done- it turns out the unit is not only sitting in the sill but wedged in on both sides by extending flaps that screw in tight as well as blocks wedged between the top of the window and the pane that sits on top of the unit. That may be elementary to AC window unit installers but I never knew!

I unscrewed the extending flaps and moved the wooden blocks the unit sat on to their final destination : the window that faces the driveway.

I was nervous not knowing how heavy the unit was so I gently pulled it back from the window once it was unscrewed and I had all the wooden blocks dislodged. A ton of water came pouring out of the back. What does that mean? Is that supposed to happen? Unlike a different window unit we own, this one has no visible holes or rust marks, so I’m not sure why… oh well! Google it later! Onward!

I heaved that thing out and onto my chest and carefully walked (read: staggered) the 15 feet over to the other window. I placed it on the sill and then lifted and shoved and leaned and heaved and hoed and huffed and puffed and begged the gods of every religion – WHY WASN’T IT GOING IN?!?!?

In the meanwhile in the inside of the house in her room. the front plastic plate fell off and hit my captivated kid in the noggin, so there was a little mini crisis that distracted may attention. I set it down and ran inside, first for the kid, then to take a closer look at why my unit wouldn’t just slide in. It had just slid out of what I assumed was the same kind of window – they look the same, they’re even in the same room for goodness’ sake!

There was a 1/2 inch metal ridge on the bottom of the second window! The first one had no ridge.  What the !@#$$!@! That made the space between window panes, when  it was opened, too short to accommodate the unit. Holy mother of DIY, my husband was going to kill me. “You smacked our kid in the head with an AC unit plate and then didn’t even end up moving the unit?!” I had to figure it out fast – before he came home. Full confession: I do nearly all of my DIYscapades while Handsome Hubby is away because he despises my methods. And my ideas. And my scatterbrained-ness that  leads to me endlessly starting new projects without fully finishing the last one. Squirrel!

If the mystery ridge was not enough, I took an even closer look and realized something else was different. The small metal pane affixing the vertical lift piece (on a car it’s a “strut” I think…) was longer on the second window than the first. Hmm, maybe I could swap them out? Wait a minute, we don’t need the struts at all –  the window is going to be held up by the unit! It can’t come crashing down! I gleefully unscrewed the little fixture holding up the strut and boom, the window was able to open another few inches, and the AC unit fit in, after lots of swearing, because now there was nothing to hold the window up and I had to pick the unit up off the ground instead of just off of my chest. Where’s my third arm? ! I used a piece of wood that wedged the unit in on the sides to prop the window up temporarily while I slid it in. I re-did everything I had undone and alakazam. No more window unit facing the street!


Now all want to do is fine a nice cheap couple of hanging baskets to mask the units and I will consider that eyesore as remedied as possible! (We’re thinking of having AC installed in the house but that’s a $6500 project that is at the bottom our priority list. The window units stay. Another dream that’s not even on the totem pole, it’s lying on the ground sleeping next to the totem pole, is to have new windows  installed. These suckers are no longer weatherproof, are single paned, and look janky. Oh well! Debt freedom is more important than windows!)

What did you do this weekend? Any Curb Appeal upgrades? Let me know!

September: How we did financially

Our family goal right now is to pay off all our debt so we can have financial freedom! I’m 28, and specifically, we want to be debt free by the time we’re 30. We wandered into debt but like Dave Ramsey says (we’re huge fans) you cannot wander out – you have to have a plan!

Our plan includes working a ton and cutting our expenses back as much as possible. We have an emergency fund of $1000 so we do not have to go into anymore debt to cover unexpected crises. Then we budget every month using (and if you haven’t tried it you should!) And, after paring down our budget to just necessity, everything else is supposed to go to debt.

Here’s our income:

Me paycheck 1: 1535
Me paycheck 2: 1535
Me paycheck 3: 1728
Handsome paycheck 1: 1533
Handsome paycheck 2: 1377
Handsome overtime: 400
Handsome extra job 1: 1100
Handsome extra job 2: 685
Handsome extra weekend job 1: 175
Handsome extra weekend job 2: 315
Handsome extra weekend job 3: 110
Sale of car: 1200
Sale of motorcycle: 2100
Refund of insurance: 124
TOTAL INCOME: $13917. Definitely the best month we’ve ever had! 

Giving: 974 (yikes! This should have been 1390! We’ll make up the tithe in October. I forgot to update our tithe when the last few extra paychecks came in.)

Saving: 1250 (Every month we save for insurance, Christmas, an anniversary trip, taxes and more)

Housing: 950 (This is only this low because we accidentally overpaid our water bill last month and there’s a special for our phones so they’re extra low. This could only be lowered if we got rid of Netflix (7.99) and Dollar Shave Club ($3)

Transportation: 950. (Usually, this is just gas. This month we had to pay lots of costs associated with getting a new used car – taxes, tags, brakes. I hate that we had to change cars.)

Food: 870. (Yikes this is high. 500 for groceries [100 each week] plus dog food, eating out and handsome husband’s food budget for work since he works 12+ hour days. I know we’re not supposed to eat out but we have never been able to go a single month without eating out. We stink!)

Family life: 100 (This is date night and 20 bucks each spending money.)

Debt: 4958 (1300 of this is minimums. But still very good knowing this is the best debt snowball month we’ve ever had!!! We paid off Sallie Mae, the smallest Fed Loan and are starting to make progress on our smallest loan from another servicer “My Great Lakes”)

Kids: 1240 (This is daycare, pre-k, diapers, and upcoming birth cost savings)

Misc: 2615. (I should probably break this out a little better – there are health things in here, kids stuff in here, birthday stuff, insurance stuff, etc. I really hate looking at this category in aggregate, it just seems too much money was spent on random stuff.)

So overall a good month. It would have been great if we didn’t have birthdays and family visiting three times!!!! But that’s life and the people we love are in it. We need to put at least 3800 per month to debt if we want to get out of this mess in two-three years. The more traction we can get now the better – things are only going to get more expensive with three kids.

How was your September financially? Have you heard of the debt snowball? I love your comments so feel free to share!



Making an “eh”‘ door “THE” door

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

This boring door, that’s who.

Oh, hey, I didn’t even notice you.

This was my front door when we bought our house: (we painted the address numbers on recently). You can tell it wasn’t my favorite thing on the house.

A solid door with nothing fancy the same color as the siding. Nothing wrong with that, but nothing that makes you want to do the shimmy, either. 🙂 This part of the wall that juts out to the right is our utility closet, so there is no window on this side of the house, making this corner of my living room really dark. I was hoping for a door that allowed light in somehow.

Well one of my close amigas commissioned a special, unique door, and she was getting rid of one with window panes (!), so I was glad to recycle it for her. 🙂
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Poor boys  worked late into the night trying to get the door to fit!img_0958

And here she is on my nice, real life front porch (notice the carport junk that needs to be put away!)

My only thought was that the door wasn’t really me. Was I going to be trading out a door that was made for this doorway and house but let no light through for a door that had windows, (for free) and I wasn’t even going to like it because of the style? If you’ve seen my house, it’s  a pretty simple 1960s midcentury tract home. It has no extra fluff, there’s no scroll work, there’s no chunky crown or country french details or farmyard chic going on here – it’s all about clean lines and simple detailing.

I thought to myself, “don’t get the door – it’s going to look odd on the house and you’ll want the door that goes with it once it’s gone. Better to get a window kit and cut out places for the windows to go on the old door, instead.”

I wasn’t sure how to do that and I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk ruining my front door due to my limited skill set! So I thought a little more about the type and shape of doors that really do speak to me. I like these a lot:


But there was no way I was going to pay nearly $400 at Home Depot for this one or $450 for this one! Holy moly, that’s a third of what I have left on one of my (28) student loans. No. Way.

So I thought about my friend’s offer a little harder and I realized I could improve the door. A coat of paint, maybe some plywood paneling?

I hauled the kids to Home Depot (there’s one on the way home from church – it’s not even out of my way!!!) to pick up paint and wood paneling. (And have them cut everything to size there – Hollah!) img_1200

I measured the space under my window panes because that was going to be the width of my sheet of plywood paneling. It had to be thin – just a quarter inch – to look more a part of the door. One sheet of plywood was enough for two 28 x 48 panels plus the leftover for who knows what project :-). I had them cut to size the sheet of plywood, and I grabbed five paint swatches and their samples that I thought I’d like. Then I went to town with a staple gun, a level, and wood glue to attach the panels and cheap foam brushes and my paint samples.


Sample number three won out(Parakeet colormatched by Behr I believe) but number two was a close second. It was crazy how samples in the store that were so green came out sunny yellow on the door. A lesson for me when I’m trying to be cheap cheap cheap: get the samples anyway!!! They’re only $3.48 each!

The first layer got me excited. But also nervous. Did I just paint my door baby poop green?

And yes that is my bathrobe and an old toothbrush on the bench. I wanted to get a coat on the door before going to work with only a half hour to spare but I didn’t want to  change clothes, so I just put my bathrobe on backwards (wearing it like a hospital gown) to keep any flying paint off of my clothes. The toothbrush was to clean the corners and little edges of the panes. (I thoroughly cleaned and liquid deglosser first.)

The second layer looked even better and then a third did the trick. Bye bye baby poop. I might do just one more because it can’t hurt! img_1261

Oh I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Here’s our little transformation.

doorsThat happy color makes me do a happy dance. So what was my budget breakdown?

5 paint samples @ $3.48 each $17.40
5 Foam brushes @ $0.79 each $3.95
1 Panel of plywood @ $11.97
1 Quart of Behr exterior semigloss @ $12.98
Door: Free!
(Deglosser, staple gun, staples, and wood glue already had)

= $46.30

Less than $50 bones! Not bad for a door update- especially considering I still have a huge plywood panel left (I’m thinking functional bedroom art… more on that later) and tons of paint. And oh boy do I have plans for that paint! I’d still love to swap out the handle for something more streamlined, I need to weatherstrip it, and I need to finish cleaning the panes – then this project will be done!


What are you up to lately? Any affordable updates?