Back from Summer Hiatus!

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I wasn’t exactly planning on it, but I ended up taking a hiatus from blogging over the summer. With my daughter home from school and lots of travel, I just wasn’t able to focus on the blog (or much else) for the past couple of months. But school has started back up for us and we’ll be home for a while, so I wanted to jump right back in! My daughter started full-day Kindergarten this year. She did a half-day K4 program last year, so this year I’m finding I have a LOT more time to get things done during the day while she’s at school.

One of the things I’ll be focusing on is getting my photography business off the ground. I’ve got several photography blog posts that I’ll be posting in the coming weeks over at Kelley K Photography with pictures from our summer trips and a couple of sessions for friends, so you may want to add that blog if you aren’t already. I’m taking a workshop now that I’m really excited about, so there will be a photo share from that, and I’ve got some fall sessions coming up that I’ll be sharing as well. Yay!

I also have several projects at home that are in the works for future blog posts. I’m continuing my office organization project, and tackling a few new projects, including organizing all the cleaning products, organizing our bathrooms, painting some rooms, and more.

For now, I’ll leave with you with a collage I made from my daughter’s first day of school.

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That’s my daughter and her best friend in the photo above, and the drawing is me dropping her off.

For the other SAHM’s out there… what projects are you planning to tackle with kids going back to school?

Thanks for reading my blog. Time to take on the rest of my day!

3 Months of Taking on Today

Yesterday marked 3 months for my new little blog, and it’s been pretty fun!

I don’t post as often as I’d like still, but it’s because I’ve been busy making progress around the house, launching my new photography business, and spending time with my daughter now that she’s out of school for the summer.

I thought it’d be fun to look back at my most popular posts over the past few months:

My tent camping organization post has been viewed almost 1500 times, and pinned almost 1000 times! Seriously, I had *no* idea it would be that popular. Now if I could just get the rest of the stuff organized as well as our camping stuff is… I have a lot to do in this area, and hope to blog about it in the coming months, but lately I’ve been really focused on getting my photography business of the ground.

Launching Kelley K Photography, has been really exciting and challenging. I don’t post here about it much, because I setup a separate business web site and blog for my photography, so if you’re interested, please check those out and like Kelley K Photography on Facebook. I also joined Clickin’ Moms to help network with other photographers and sharpen my skills. I’ve been busy on their forum and will be doing some of their workshops and breakout sessions soon. It’s been a great resource already. The problem is just that I’m taking so many pictures, I can’t keep up with processing and posting them. I fall further behind almost daily.

I am (mostly) keeping up with the housework this summer though. We’re still making the beds every day, and doing laundry and dishes (almost) every day. It definitely helps when it doesn’t pile up. We had a few off days last week and I’ve had to play a little catch up, and it really made it obvious how much easier it is when I stay on top of everything each day. The app I’ve been using to keep track of my daily and weekly tasks is called Daily Planner. It’s very simple, and that’s what I like about it. It’s not a full-featured schedule manager or project planning app. It’s just simple groups of to-do’s in a clean format. There is an option that I use to have groups for daily and weekly tasks, and the cool thing about those is that they reset every day/week, so I check off my daily tasks as I do them each day (making beds, doing dishes, etc.), and then in next morning, it’s all cleared for me to check off again. Same for the weekly tasks, which I labeled with days (Monday – grocery shopping, Tuesday – trash night, etc.) so that I make sure I’m taking care of the things I need to do each week. And every Monday morning, the weekly tasks are all unchecked for me to start the new week. I also have a group for errands I need to run and phone calls I need to make, which helps me remember those things. I’m going to keep using this for a while, and if I really like it, I’ll upgrade to the paid version and then do more thorough review with screenshots.

Thanks to everyone who started following my blog in these first few months. If you haven’t yet, be sure to like the Taking on Today Facebook page, or follow via an RSS reader or email subscription (see link in the right column to sign up).

Thanks for reading my blog. Time to take on the rest of my day!

Kitchen DIY: Adding Cookie Sheet & Tray Storage Above the Oven

Ever since the first time I saw it, I’ve wanted vertical storage in an upper cabinet for my cookie sheets, cutting boards, serving trays, and other narrow kitchen items. My parents had it in their last house, and I was determined to get shelving like this for myself someday. So when we were house hunting last summer, I made sure to check all the deep upper kitchen cabinets for vertical storage dividers. I don’t think I found a single one. We still managed to find a house we love, despite the lack of this key feature. But I had plans. Big plans. 🙂

Our new house has double ovens, with a deep cabinet above the oven unit that was just screaming for vertical dividers. (My husband didn’t hear it, but I promise, I could hear the cabinet screaming for organizational help.) So I devised a plan to add the dividers myself. I could have bought wire dividers like these from The Container Store, but I wanted them to be a little more substantial and look like built-ins. My project went really well, so I thought I’d share the steps I took here in case anyone else wants to do the same thing in their kitchen.

Here’s what it looked like before my big project… A mess, right? Mostly I had just been sticking things up there that I didn’t really use, since it was such a pain to actually get things down. I know it’s not a great picture — I was in a hurry to pull everything out and get started. LOL

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My idea was to install strips of wood along the bottom and top and leave a space between them to slide dividers in and out of. This way it would be adjustable for smaller and larger pans. Once I had my plan, I went to Lowe’s and bought a few different boards to see what would work along the top and bottom. After getting them home, I decided on 1/4″x2″x24″ poplar boards from the craft wood section of Lowe’s for $1 each, so I went back to Lowe’s to get more. (My cabinet is 24″ deep, so that length was perfect.) I needed thirty boards to fit the cabinet, but they didn’t have enough in the 24″ length, so I also bought several 48″ long boards that I sawed in half with the circular saw when I got home.

For the vertical dividers, I bought eight 24″x24″ squares of 5.2mm lauan plywood, cut to size at Lowe’s (my upper cabinet is 22-1/4″ tall inside, so they just had to cut a little off one side).  There are a lot of other material options you could use for the vertical pieces, but the lauan was cheap and easy and matched the interior of my cabinets pretty well. If the cabinets were white inside, I would have probably used something else. But most of the other thin board-like material I found came in 8’x4′ sheets, which seemed like more of a pain to get cut to size. TIP: If you use lauan or other plywood, make sure you get it cut it to size along the grain of the wood, or it will splinter badly on the edges. Fortunately, I found this out on the one I had Lowe’s cut as a test to make sure I got the size perfect. Then when I went back to buy the rest of the lauan, I knew to specify which direction they should cut it. 

The only thing I wasn’t sure of was the best way to install the poplar boards into the cabinet. My husband immediately suggested we buy a brad nailer. (He’s been angling for one ever since he found out his small air compressor was enough to power one.) We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a brad nailer, so we ordered this onefrom Amazon for only ~$30. And then even though he’s the one that wanted the brad nailer, he let me use it to install everything! I wanted to at least help since this was my project, but it turned out it was easy enough to do all by myself.

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I nailed the first boards in on the top and bottom, flush against the wall of the cabinet. Then, at my father’s suggestion, I put a piece of lauan up against the first pair of boards, so I could get the right spacing between each pair of boards. I nailed in the second pair of boards by pushing them snugly up against the lauan. This made the lauan a tight fit, but they still slide in and out with little effort. I kept sliding the one piece out and moving it over by one board until I didn’t have much room left in the left side of the cabinet to maneuver the brad nailer in there. Then I started using a scrap of the lauan from when they cut it at Lowe’s to do the spacing for the remaining boards, because that gave me room to hold the brad nailer.

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Here’s what the cabinet looked like when I finished installing the poplar boards. Then I just slid in the lauan dividers every 2-3 boards.

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Here are the final results. I basically just put all the same stuff back in there, but I already know I need to re-arrange things now that this cabinet makes things so much more accessible. I need to move the serving trays and other stuff I rarely use to less convenient storage locations, and put more frequently used items up here.
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I’m linking this up to the weekly One Project at a Time link party hosted by A Bowl Full of Lemons!

Thanks for reading my blog. Time to take on the rest of my day!

Office / Craft Room Clean Up, Part I

We moved late last summer, and I was really excited because in the new house, I could move my office and my craft room all to one large room in the (finished) basement instead of having them in two different rooms on different floors. In the old house, I found myself going back and forth between the rooms all the time, like when I wanted to ship a package, I had to print the label downstairs in my office, but then all the boxes and packing tape and stuff were upstairs in my craft room. In the new house, I have a big room for both spaces, but it doesn’t have a closet like my old craft room, so I needed more shelves for storing things, and things are harder to hide out of view.

On moving day, when everyone finished carrying stuff into my new office/craft room, between the additional furniture we moved in, and all the boxes, it was so stuffed full, we could barely open the door. I had no idea I had that much stuff! I tried a few times to get the room under control, but it was never 100% and there were several things that just weren’t working at all in the space. We had our old kitchen table in the corner, because I originally thought it would be a good place for my daughter to work on art and craft projects that needed supervision from me, but we found that we would pretty much always work in her playroom where most of her paper and art supplies are. I also had a hanging rack in there because I sell at a couple of seasonal children’s consignment sales, and I thought it would be a good place for me to hang and price clothes to sell. But I realized I prefer to sort, tag, and price items in the bedroom, because I can spread the stuff all over the bed.  And the biggest thing that wasn’t working is that I didn’t have enough big shelving to put away all the stuff that I was used to hiding in the closet I had in my old craft room. What ended up happening is that more and more STUFF kept coming into my room and there was no where to put it, so it just kept getting piled up all over the the place, until there was almost no floor space left – which is saying a lot considering the size of the room.

I finally had enough recently and I decided it was time to start getting my room under control. First step was to get the kitchen table out of there, so I converted it to a kid’s craft table. (More on that project here.) And we bought more wire shelving to put in the room. It was getting better, but priorities shifted and I had to stop working on it for a while. Then when we had my daughter’s birthday, a lot more stuff got dragged into my room to get it out of the playroom where the party was held. So last week, I realized I had enough of squeezing between bins and piles of STUFF to get to my desk, and I tackled the mess. Here’s a before picture. (I can’t believe I’m sharing this. I’m so embarrassed that it got this bad!!!)

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I dove right in, grabbed a bin, and did a quick sort, putting stuff away, moving stuff out of the room that didn’t belong, stacking up paper that needed to be sorted through more closely. Then I moved the hanging rack out of the room, since I wasn’t using it. Once there was a little more space, I moved my craft table back in (it was used during the birthday party, but it was too messy in here to get it back in), and I got my husband’s help to hang shelves up on the wall above my table to create more storage. Then I kept going with my quick sort, going through each bin, box, and stack of stuff I came across, until the floor was clear. I ended up with a mountain of paper to process, and a couple of bins of small stuff that needs to be sorted through more carefully, and a lot of bins on shelves that need to be purged, but the floor is clear, I know where to find things, and most importantly, I am not overwhelmed at the sight of the room anymore so I can actually move forward and get things done.

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Big difference, huh? Here’s another view, where you can see the shelves we installed above my table. The stacks on the table are all the paperwork I need to sort through, and the laundry basket and box on the floor next to the table are small, random bits of stuff that needs to be sorted through. This first step was just the first step – getting rid of the big stuff to conquer the chaos in the room and get things where I could at least think straight to deal with the rest of the stuff.

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I’ll be posting more as I work though the stacks of paper, and better organize the stuff on the shelves, but I thought this was pretty good inspiration for anyone who might look at a room that’s a disaster and feel like it’s hopeless. It didn’t even take me very long to make this huge transformation in my space – less than a week, only working a couple hours a day. Just grab a bin and start sorting!

Next up: Dealing with the mountains of paperwork… Wish me luck!

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I’m linking this up to the weekly One Project at a Time link party hosted by A Bowl Full of Lemons!

Thanks for reading my blog. Time to take on the rest of my day!
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