Kitchen Counters and Sink Part Two: The Challenge

Continuing Organized Tuesday  (whoopsie), we’re into the planning phase of the project of the week. I like this. Our brilliant hostess over at Home Storage Solutions 101 is seriously like a therapist for the organizationally challenged. How’s that? Before you start acting like the mayor of Crazyville (there can be only one, so don’t be me, okay?), she tells you to THINK about what your end goal is. You can’t organize a room if you don’t know how you’re supposed to be organizing it, right? Common sense? No. We live in Crazyville. Common sense doesn’t exist in Crazyville. We need people like Taylor to tell us to think about what we’re doing before we do it. Oh, admit it. You do too. So I am telling you: FOLLOW THE DANG STEPS. They’re there for a reason.

The steps?

  • First, The Brilliant Lady says to “think about the functions of your kitchen.”  Uhhh. It’s a KITCHEN. Oh no, darlings. It’s so much more than just a kitchen. What do you do in your kitchen?

    – I eat in my kitchen, sometimes. Sometimes I eat in the living room. Sometimes I eat on the run. But there’s a table in there that is, ostensibly, for eating.
    – I make food in the kitchen.
    – I STORE food in the kitchen.
    – I enter the house through the kitchen. This means that I usually also dump whatever I am carrying in the kitchen. What? You do too, and you know it. Don’t judge.
    – I LEAVE the house from the kitchen. That means that I grab whatever stuff I am taking with me from the kitchen (and then I run through the house for fifteen minutes trying to figure out where in God’s green acre I left the blasted freaking no-good miserable cussing keys THIS TIME. Don’t pretend you don’t know EXACTLY what I mean.)
    – I’d like the kitchen to be the homework area, but it’s NOT yet. YET. YET. 
    – I store all my basic home cleaning supplies in the kitchen.
    – Life organization happens in the kitchen. Calendars, chore charts, reminders of stuff we have to do for school, all of that happens in the kitchen. Most of that is stuck on the fridge with magnets.
    – I really like coffee and tea. I mean REALLY. LIKE. COFFEE AND TEA.

  • Next, we’re told to “Create Useable Counter Space And Clear Your Kitchen Table (Mostly).” That’s……doable? Right?
    Y’all remember by before-before, RIGHT? Let me remind you some more.
    kitchen before 2Remember, I have a year in between these two pictures, but there was still kind of a lot of clutter on my counters day-before-yesterday. I worked fiendishly, took a bunch of pictures, and texted my friend, “WHY do I never take before pictures when I go on crazy sprees like this?????” I never remember. Ever. But I made a pretty usable space on the counters, and the table is cleared off, minus the pretty things that live there and a gift bag in a chair.

    There are some REALLY good details of HOW to clear this stuff off on the challenge site, but here’s the basics: get the stuff that doesn’t mesh with the use of the space out of the space, then declutter the stuff that DOES go there. Bike helmet, out! Why on earth do I have THREE potato mashers?? Seriously??????? No kitchen sheers (til last week. Thanks, Santa-Dad!), but THREE potato mashers?

    I did some clearing and decluttering! I have been driven crazy for two years by the medicine and vitamins being stored on the kitchen counter. THEY’RE GONE! Boom! They’re hiding in baskets in drawers of the changing-table-cum-storagey-thingamabobber that you will meet later in the kitchen challenges. I left the weekly pill organizer that Roo uses. I need to find a similar organizer for my stuff. Right now, my stuff is sorted into sandwich baggies in the little treasure chest looking thing the boy and his karate-teacher-best-friend haven’t finished painting me for Christmas yet (ADD meet ADHD. Enjoy.)
    PicMonkey CollageMUCH more functional. My drill doesn’t live there, but I wasn’t done screwing the handles back into the upper cabinets yet, and I had JUST hung those lights, so, I hadn’t moved it yet. The crock pot doesn’t live there either, but it’s a couple of soup nights right now, so there it is.

  • Steps three and four were sort of combined for me. Storage solutions and developing a habit of clearing the sink of dishes twice a day. I try to keep it clear of dishes all the time. Try to. We’ll keep working on that.

So what’s next? Well, we tackled a lot of the big challenge, and that feels pretty good. But, you see, my she-ro over there is a GENIUS for real. We don’t JUST have the 52 weekly challenges. No. That’s not ENOUGH for some of us. Some of us are real clutterbugs, packrats, THE MAYOR OF CRAZYVILLE. I have a clean sink. I have some nice counter space. But I still have a hot mess, in all likelihood. What? You know you stash-and-dash too! You KNOW you do it. So, there’s also a series of 365 decluttering missions, which, miraculously, are arranged right along with the weekly challenges! Wonders, I tell you. WONDERS!

In the schedule that contains the sink and counter challenge, we have the following tasks, which are meant to be done in fifteen minutes or less:
– Read Organized Home Challenge Week #1: Kitchen Counters
– Declutter kitchen utensils and silverware drawer
– Declutter and organize kitchen sink area
– Clear off kitchen counters
– Clear off kitchen table
– Declutter everyay tablecloths, napkins and placemats
– Declutter potholders and kitchen towels

So that’s my to-do-list this week, other than the regular chores and routines. See you next Tuesday with pics.

How’s it going for YOU? Let me know!


Kitchen counters and sink part one: The nickel tour

Oh. Em. Gee, y’all. Did you SEE my kitchen counters when I started looking at this challenge last year? It was NOT PRETTY. No. I mean it was NOT PRETTY. Here. Let me show you.

kitchen before 1

Now do you believe me? My kitchen was many varied and inglorious kinds of A HOT MESS. Now, understand that where my kitchen was THAT DAY and where my kitchen is RIGHT NOW was not a one-day or a one-week project. It’s been a one-year excursion into Crazyville. They declared me sheriff. Then they elected me mayor. That’s right. I am Kate, Orthodox Single Mom, and Mayor of Crazyville. Welcome to my kitchen. Have a cup of….well, better to bring your own!

Last February, you may remember, I lost my beloved Labrador, Mandy Mae. In the few days after her death, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t really eat. I couldn’t really function. So I did what any sane, rational mayor of Crazyville would do. I tore apart my kitchen. I was so tired of looking at the busted cabinets and the janky countertop, the FLAT WHITE PAINTED backsplash, and the just DREARY GROSSNESS of the kitchen. So I CHANGED IT.

This was my countertop before the mourning period:

countertop1This was, of course, on a super-CLEAN kitchen day. Obviously. Y’all SAW the example picture at the top right? I needed an intervention there.

This countertop was not dirty. It was stained. Stained and beat up and missing chunks of….is that formica? Who knows? WHO CARES? It was JANKY.

So, I got out some wood putty and plastic putty, and filled in all the holes and scratches. I sanded that down flat, and covered it with two coats of steel grey Kilz primer. Then, I ran to Hobby Lobby and bought a couple of bottles of cheap acrylic craft paint. I pulled out some metallic silver paint that I had (from painting the backsplash when the flat white became completely unbearable in 2013). I dabbed the metallic paint and the acrylics onto the countertop in random non-patterns with paper towels. When it was dry, I poured epoxy resin over it, and I HAD A COUNTERTOP!

backsplash1Then it was time to address the backsplash. I have this crazy obsession with decoupaging ALL THE THINGS, so I figured I could, well, decoupage all the things. Back to Hobby Lobby. I got some cool scrap book paper. I cut pictures out of old cookbooks that I got at the thrift store, and I printed out some pictures of Northern Ireland and Old New Orleans. Then I decoupaged all the things. Seriously. My backsplash is scrapbook paper, photographs, cookbook pages, and tons of mod podge covered in several layers of acrylic sealer and then epoxy resin.

backsplash2And the cabinets! My broken cabinets! I spent a couple of months salvaging cabinetry from other houses in the neighborhood that were redoing their kitchens. Finding the original cabinetry was important to me, because, while I hated the look of my cabinets, I LOVE the history of this ancient, tiny, dingy little house and the village. Since the kitchens were very cookie-cutter, finding enough pieces of the right size was really easy. I replaced a few cabinet doors. Then I painted the whole thing white. Except the very tops. I can’t reach them even on my ladder. Ten and a half months later, I am still waiting for a tall person to come help me for half an hour. HALF AN HOUR, TALL PEOPLE. THAT’S ALL I NEED!!!

kitchen during1And that brings us to March 2014. There was some more painting. I painted the kitchen table. I painted the cabinets behind my pantry (not shown here. That’s another week. Also, I totally just did that today.) I got new-to-me chairs, but I haven’t painted those yet. My man-human installed my dishwasher (after I’d been waiting to get it installed by the maintenance guy for seriously four months!). Y’all. I have a man-human. Y’ALL!! I HAVE A DISHWASHER!!!!!!!! (In case you missed the memo, it was installed by my man-human.)

And, in addition to all the pretty changes, I ALSO let my kitchen basically go to hell in a fruit basket. Except not. Because I didn’t have a fruit basket until yesterday. Actually, it was the fruit basket that sparked my mad cleaning spree of yesterday. It was a gift from the world’s greatest niece and nephew. I have NEVER HAD ONE BEFORE. But that’s later. There was a hot mess up in my kitchen all over again. I’ve been off my game since surgery #1, and my kitchen suffered the consequences. So, it was TIME. Clearly, Taylor, I cannot live without you another moment. It is TIME for some serious decluttering and organizing!

Next post: planning the first weekly challenge.

52 Week Home Organization Challenge

organized-home-challenge-adI know you’ve seen this one. It’s gone viral a few times now. I think by now it’s probably a mommy blogger staple. It’s the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home plan and challenge by Home Storage Solutions 101. At the beginning of 2014, I TOTALLY started off trying to do this. It didn’t take. You either? GREAT! No time like the present to start over, right?

So look, here’s my failing every season (not every year, because I don’t do these things just in January. I loathe New Year’s Resolutions, and firmly resolve to make none.) (Yes, I did just say that.): I get these grand ideas, and then I try to run with ALL THE PLANS. Because THAT ever works, right? If at first you don’t succeed, try doing forty-seven things AT ONCE! Make sure they’re all BRAND NEW THINGS! And make them REALLY DETAILED AND INVOLVED. That’s TOTALLY the ticket to success right?

Not according to my therapist. You know the one? I need her because I do the same thing every. single. season. without. fail. I am an underachieving overachiever. I need to quit that and become an overachieving slacker. That would be SO much nicer.

Seriously though, I did stick very diligently to a great housekeeping schedule til surgery #1 happened in July. I was almost back into it when surgery #2 happened in November. Right now, I am trying to get the house clean enough for surgery #3, and then maintain from there as we wait to see if surgery #4 is going to be a necessity. I REALLY want to do this 52-week challenge though.

So here’s my goal, if not my plan. The genius at Home Storage Solutions has given us a great pdf file of the areas to organize each week, dated each Monday. I am going to start my week on the Tuesday before, and think of those dates as “due dates,” rather than as start dates. That means that today is the beginning of  week one: Kitchen Countertops and Sink.

So, anyway, I am in for this. Will you join me? I am dubbing this the first of my Organized Tuesdays. My next post (ostensibly) will be a tour of my newly cleaned and somewhat redecorated kitchen, and some before/after shots. I am extra proud of my kitchen. I went on a major cleaning spree in there yesterday, and today, on my personal facebook wall, I posted pictures and exclaimed, “Y’all should have SEEN the catastrophe that was this kitchen when I moved in. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” Then I found pictures. Watch this space. You can see the transformation for yourself!

I didn’t blog through the hysterectomy like I promised, and here’s why.

Hello friends.

I know, I said that I would blog through the hysterectomy process and share it with you, but it got a little too scary, and a LOT too personal to blog through when I was dealing with things. My hysterectomy did not go as planned in July. I had a reaction to the anesthetic, and went into respiratory distress in the OR. Once that was sorted, the procedure began, but my bowel was affixed to my abdominal wall and was punctured. My wonderful GYN consulted a GI surgeon, and they were able to suture the bowel, but that was the end of the surgery that day. I spent several days in the hospital, and three very dicey months of recovery before we could attempt the hysterectomy again. I won’t go into too many of the details here, because they still scare me a bit, but I am alright now!

My hysterectomy was rescheduled for November 19th, and this time went beautifully. There were no complications with the anesthesia, the surgery, or, as far as I know, with the recovery. My follow up visit is this Tuesday, and I will let you know then if all is well.

Please forgive me for not sharing the experience with you. It just got VERY upsetting, and I didn’t even acknowledge how bad it was until well after the second attempt at the surgery.

He’s Not Scary, He’s A Little Boy

And a lovely little boy he is, too!

How do we teach our children to include kids who are different and to avoid falling into the habit of bullying?

Jameson's Journey

We’ve had some encounters recently that have inspired me to write this post.  This is something I hope everyone reads and shares.  This is a message that doesn’t just pertain to Jameson, but to all children who are made fun of and singled out for their differences; and I am pretty sure their parents feel the same way I do.

I want to begin by saying that I don’t hold anything against these children, or their parents.  I understand that it can be extremely awkward when your child is the one making fun or being mean to another child.  But, the next time this happens I hope these parents do more.  Because although I cannot take offense, I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.  It does.  It hurts to see my child be made fun of, knowing that this will be a big part of his world…

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The end of an era

large_5394134125I am challenged this week by the Daily Post to go into my mental storage and examine some things that I’ve been holding onto though I do not use them. It’s like a good old fashioned changing of the closets, donation drive, and yard sale preparation post! There are so many things I’ve held onto over the years that I keep in boxes or curios just collecting dust, literally or figuratively,and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why I need my Cabbage Patch Kid, my Pound Puppy, my third grade report card, the tiara purchased for the wedding I never got around to having, my uterus…..



Yeah, I said it.

There were many things in life I thought I’d have. A hysterectomy at 33 wasn’t one of them. Sure, the doctors were always clear with me that it would be a miracle if I made it to thirty without a hysterectomy, but I always held out hope that I’d beat the odds. I did beat the odds. I beat the odds by a lot. I made it to 33. I made it ten years longer than we thought I’d make it. I had the baby that doctors didn’t think I’d be able to carry. I delivered him naturally, which (most) doctors said I wouldn’t be able to do. Shouldn’t that be enough for me? Why isn’t that enough for me?

Because I wanted more. My son is soon to be eight years old, and I just gave away his cloth diapers over the winter, because I figured that if I ever did have another, well, it wasn’t going to be soon, and I was running out of storage space. I’ve been holding onto hope for so long that I would find the right man, get married, and have more babies. I don’t want to give that up.

I want my girl. I want to have a baby girl of my very own and name her after my late sister and my baby sister. Lisa Brigid.

I want to share a pregnancy and a child with a husband who loves us, not live in fear of a man who seems to think that the only thing less worthy of survival than the growing life in my belly is the woman who carries him.

Instead, I have dysfunction. I’ve had dysfunction since I’ve had, well, function. I’ll spare you the gory medical details, but I’ll say that this will be my fourteenth surgery in that area, with the last being a total reconstruction of the “working parts,” as it were, that enabled me to have my son. I’ve spent years finding and trying every option and treatment available to put off the inevitable hysterectomy, until they finally stopped working and the quality of my life has become too far reduced. I know this is the right decision. I really do. Please don’t misunderstand.

I love my life. I love my son. I love what we’ve carved out for ourselves in our little house with our dogs and our autonomy. I just always pictured something so different for us. I pictured a big family. While I know it’s still a possibility, it’s something different. It’s changed.

When I came out of the scheduler’s office at the OB/GYN, and was checking out, surrounded by pregnant women, I met the sweetest couple. They were older, and this was their first child. The father was in a state of shock, but through his shock, what came through so overpoweringly was this abundance of love and pride and happiness. Mom was all giggles, and Dad could only say “wow” over and over. It was the greatest thing. It hit me shortly after that I will never experience this in my life. 

I think I’ve always harbored some hope that that sort of experience would help me heal from the abuse during my own pregnancy.

But I have more dysfunction.

Physical and emotional dysfunction, I suppose.

I will have to heal another way.

So while I cannot go through the boxes in my mental closet, pack this item away, and give it to charity, it is time to say goodbye. My hysterectomy is twenty days from now. My childbearing years are over. There will be no more pregnancies. There will be no more babies borne from this body. I cannot give this away.

All I can do is lay this at the feet of my Creator, and ask my Physician to heal me.

photo credit: ninacoco via photopin cc


Hysterectomy Support by 

All videography is prohibited, and please no flash photography.

medium_2434203748Let’s discuss all the ways that I love watching myself on video.




Me either.

I am not a fan of watching myself on video. It combines two things I don’t enjoy at all: seeing my body and hearing my own voice played back, usually with a low sound quality.

Photos are bad enough, and they are fairly easy to stage, light creatively, angle JUST SO, and photoshop beyond all reasonable recognition. In fact, I could probably make myself look like Marvin the Martian in under three minutes with very little effort.

If you’ve read past posts, you know that am a musician/singer who used to study audio production, and I’ve had some training in playing with manipulating sound files. So if I am just dealing with a voice recording and a couple of computer programs, I can take the glitches out of that and make myself sound pretty darned good.

But home video? I end up looking like Barney in goth makeup and sounding like Gilbert Gottfried.

Needless to say, I am not super sad that my computer doesn’t have a built-in webcam.

photo credit: J Deamer via photopin cc

pingback: Daily Post