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!


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!

Sharpie Subway Tiles!

Well my little kitchen’s recent laundry reno still needs work and while working on finalizing it I wanted a quick feel-good update. That of course costs nothing 🙂

So I added subway tiles. How can that be free? Well you read the title – I sharpied them on. 🙂

I had some gold, bronze, and silver Sharpie pens leftover from a Christmas project I did last year, so I decided to use the silver to draw the grout of my tiles. I am not concerned about sharpie on the wall because I know rubbing alcohol removes Sharpie AND we own our home. We hope to actually tile over it before we sell it. So

Here’s my before kitchen – which really needed some work! Call me inspired by all the fabulous real bloggers who shared their real life homes on their blogs recently.

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Ok ok ok so that was honestly my kitchen before. then I cleaned it up and that was almost enough for a reveal in itself hehe.

I grabbed two Sharpies and a level.
Hmm I need to re-paint my nails.


Then I simply took the level to set straight, level and plumb lines, horizontally along the wall. I didn’t mind that I Sharpied the sides of my level as I worked. Soon, I had lines set. I just kept things simple and used the level as the spacer for the height of my tiles.


And yes, those are painted-over wall anchors from previous tenants. I am not sure what to do with them so I just left them and painted over them myself. They bother me in the picture but not in real life. 🙂

Once I had my lines, I just stood the level on its head to make “tiles” that were six inches wide, set off 3 inches from the row above.


Then I just worked across the wall. I decided to terminate the tiles where the upper cabinets ended above my stove. That makes it like a wall of tile over there. A Wall of Tile that Makes Me Smile. #poet #thatsterrible

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Yep, I still have lots to do in the kitchen. But as for the tiling – It’s subtle but it sure is nice. 🙂


And its a great backdrop for my chore-loving kiddos 🙂

What have you been up to? Any updates on your end that are affordable or free?


Clothes Pin-up art

Guys I am LOVING the latest #fabandfree decor we installed. In January, Handsome Husband got me a National Parks Calendar beautifully created by the Anderson Design Group and I’ve been itching to hang the prints somewhere. The prints are large enough that in a grid, they make a real impression, so we picked the space above the couch which was REALLY needing something nice and weight-y above it. And they were hung with clothespins hence… clothespin up art. Hehe. 🙂


And the glorious after! IMG_0989

This project was free for us because we used “found” items we already had at home. And it was so simple:

  1. I made sure I had enough clothespins for the grid I wanted to create, plus a cute lil” assistant
  2. I drilled a hole with the 1/8th drill bit in each clothes pin at the second, inner-most line (I just eyeballed it)
  3. I used a level to space dots 7 inches apart – this would be where my clothespins would rest.
  4. I used the level to measure 17 inches above the first row so my clothes pins would be in exactly the same spot in each row
  5. I put a brad nail at each pencil mark
  6. I hung a clothespin on each nail
  7. And then I hung my prints from the clothes pins!

Wahoo! Simple, a bit time consuming, and I love it.

The best part… SO DOES HANDSOME HUSBAND. Typically he dislikes my design choices with an extreme displeasure. So to hear him say “Guess which ones are my favorite” and then to go back and forth enjoying each print – that was awesome. Decoration unicorn!

Free and fabulous RUG

So this happened:
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That’s right! The orange geometric rug is G-O-N-E hallelujah. Rugs just make a place feel complete and put together. They ground a space and of course are functional: make it soft underfoot for little ones (and we big ones.)

The only teeny tiny smidge of a problem was the previous rug was orange. Burnt orange. And it brought out the burnt orange tones in the couch (which is loathe-worthy to me. But I digress because I need to choose gratitude over my attitude.)


Overall it just made the space feel bleh. So, I was driving in a snazzy neighborhood, because sometimes snazzy people decide they’ve tired of their perfectly snazzy things and they decide to set them free on the side of the road.

And wouldn’t you know what I came upon – a rug!

Now I know what you’re thinking: bad idea. But I have been there, done that, and I gave the thing a small test. When it passed the smell test, I decided that since it was such a huge rug, and judging by the high quality accessories the people in these high end neighborhoods invest in, this was probably a few hundred dollar rug to begin with. If I get it cleaned for $100 I’ve probably saved at least $100 – maybe way more. So I’m getting quotes and if it’s not insane and I can do it with my blow money savings – we’ll see!

Anyway the way I see it I’m rescuing it from certain death in a landfill and it can have a second life with me and my family.



I didn’t want my heavy stump table to crush the fibers or stain it so I turned it into a  little sidetable/ extra seating. Win win. That’s another free way to win with decor: move the stuff you’ve already got around.

And the orange geometric rug has found a new life in our bedroom. One step closer to looking like we live here and own the place and we’re not just squatters!

Anyone else fearless enough to take on a trash to treasure find? Have you snagged anything great lately? I’d love to know!