Paper, Paper Everywhere

Yesterday I posted about my in-sight filing system which is working really well to control paper in our house.

Today I'll share some of my other paper organizing ideas for you in case you want to work on getting your paper under control as part of a spring cleaning resolution!

1) Stop the junk mail and unwanted catalogs. Start getting yourself off various mailing lists by removing yourself from catalog company lists. Once you get on one list, they will continue to resell your information over and over again. Get yourself off the lists either through the company itself or through any one of the various companies who help stop junk mail (just google "stop junk mail" and you'll get the idea).

2) Sign-up for online banking and bill pay. I really don't know why everyone doesn't use online banking. There is almost no reason to walk into a bank unless you need something notarized! I receive all of my bank and credit card statements online and via email. I also pay as many bills as possible online and automatically if that's an option. For example, my cable bill and cell phone bills are the same every month so I paying automatically makes total sense. I eliminate probably 20 pieces of mail per month by stopping this paper. Even my dad uses online banking!

3) Set-up a VERY convenient paper recycling bin or basket. We keep our paper recycling in a bin our main kitchen closet. I literally walk by it to hang up my coat and to get from the front door (mailbox) back to the kitchen. I sort my mail on the kitchen island and IMMEDIATELY tear up and toss anything junk mail straight into the basket. We take the paper out to our outdoor recycling bin twice per week. Arlington no longer requires paper to be separate from other recycling.

4) Throw out paid bills which you can access elsewhere. If I receive a bill and pay it (generally online), that I know I can access online later if I need to, I toss the original copy. No more binders of bills. The main exception to this is insurance premium notices. I generally document the check number and the date I paid it, and then file it with our other insurance information. The main reason I do this is to document that we have the insurance and the carrier in case it's needed by someone other than me. I have one file drawer of long-term paper (including tax returns) which could probably be cut by half or more. I don't ever plan to have more than that!

5) Tax receipts. I keep all tax receipts for a particular year in one folder. As I collect receipts for donations, local taxes, childcare, and other potentially deductible items, and any tax forms that we receive in January and February, I put them in the folder and they are ready for my accountant. (I finally stopped doing our taxes this year and it is a MAJOR relief because this is the time that I start to panic!)

6) Coupons. I keep coupons in one of the visible files I posted about yesterday. I'm much less likely to forget that I have them if I have the file handy!

7) Kids art. I keep the best pieces in a drawer in the living room. I try to think about it in terms of whether I would like to look at it again in 10 or 20 years. If not, I recycle it. I also display my absolute favorite on the family room wall.

8) Invitations and other reminders.I hang invitations and reminders in our pantry bulletin board or on the sliver of fridge which sticks out from the cabinet (it's magnetic).

I think the moral of the story is to be ruthless with your paper purging or you will quickly find yourself buried in paper with no daylight in sight!

If you need some inspiration, watch an episode or two of the Hoarders on A&E. I guarantee you'll be inspired to throw stuff out before you go to bed that night!
How do you keep paper organized in your house?


Paper Filing Upgrade

Unfortunately paper is a necessary and annoying hazard for most of us. I have cut back as much as possible but it's nearly impossible to eliminate the paper all together. Everything from coupons to tax receipts need to be on paper and you have to put them somewhere. I like to post frequently used pieces like school calendars, special notes, and a calendar inside our pantry organization center, but we still have lots and lots of other paper.

We use the dresser that the hubby overhauled as an office area in our family room. It houses our wireless printer, telephone and answering machine, and also seems to collect a lot of paper - school information, receipts, coupons, tax information, etc. I came up with this solution to keep things neat looking and to avoid the piles of paper.
I found the wire file holder at TJ Maxx a couple of months ago for $4. The adorable folders are from the Container Store, and I think they really add some interest instead of boring plain folders.
Now I can keep many of our papers in plain sight without feeling like we have to shove them in a drawer every time someone comes over. Having them neatly organized will also encouraged to recycle the outdated and expired papers and will also make paying bills all at once much easier.

Where do you store papers that you may need to access quickly?



We got our new chairs on Friday, but I wish I could say it was easy!
World Market

As intended, I took advantage of the World Market friends and family sale over the weekend. I decided to get there on Friday morning soon after they opened so I could have my pick of the furniture. I also lucked out because furniture was 10% off and the friends and family discount was an additional 25% off. Love it!

Although I expected to receive what was on the floor (or visible from the floor), but I was told they had some brand new ones in the stock room. Great! The stock guy loaded them into my minivan and away I went within 30 minutes of arriving at the store.

By mid-afternoon, I finally unwrapped the chairs. 'Lo and behold... 2 were broken. ARGHHHHHH!!! 

I had the DC Blogger Brunch at my house the next morning so I really wanted to have them ready for that. I ended up going back to the store at 8:15 on Friday night. The clerk told me that there weren't any available because the remaining four were "on hold" for another customer. ON HOLD?! Fortunately I had seen those hold labels earlier in the day and knew they expired LAST MONDAY. Huh?

Long story short, two unbroken chairs came home with me and...

Perfect. I love the color with the table - different enough so the difference looks intentional.

And here's the before in case you forgot...


And after a week with the new table, we love the extra space. Thanks to Charity for suggesting that we turn the table 45 degrees to make it look round. You were soooo right! We also gained extra space near the door on the left which is our primary backyard entrance and exit.

So despite an extra trip to World Market, all's well that ends well. Unfortunately, new chairs still won't make the kids who sit in them try new foods. Let me know if you have solutions for that!

I'm linking to:


DC Blogger Brunch!

Cassie (Primitive and Proper) posted a couple of months ago about the possibility of doing a get-together for DC area design and DIY bloggers. After seeing so many posts on other blogs about conferences and local gatherings in the Southeast or the Salt Lake area. I dropped Cassie an email to volunteer my house since I am a bit more central to DC which might make it easier for everyone to get here.

On Saturday, fourteen local bloggers gathered at my house. I was incredibly impressed that people drove over an hour (on the day of a DC marathon no less) to meet other local bloggers. Everyone brought food or drinks and everything was so AMAZING!
 There was no shortage of conversation and everyone seemed to have a great time.

 There was also no shortage of cameras and I was able to teach a few people how to use their self-timers so we could snap a couple of group pictures.  

Cassie made adorable mustache mugs for everyone to take with them, along with a biscotti and a list of attendees.

I think we all spent the day on Sunday drinking from our cute mugs and reading our new friends' blogs. In case you are looking for new reading material, here they are:

Amy of My Sun Shines Here 
Andi of Jane of All Crafts 
Angie of Seriously a Home Maker 
Cassie of Primitive & Proper 
Danielle of Fresh Quince 
Felicity of Our Little Beehive 
Katelyn of The Eclectic Traditionalist 
Kathy of All About Vignettes 
Kyra of Racks and Mooby 
Laurie of Little Blue Chairs 
Renee of Where the Grass is Greener 
Sarah of The Thriftress 
Shannon of Hase Haus 

If you are a DC area blogger, please shoot me an email so we can keep your name on the list for future gatherings! Hopefully we can do one every 6 months or so but maybe annually would be more realistic. In the interim, we are already having fun commenting on our posts. And I have a feeling some of the Arlington bloggers will be getting together sooner rather than later.

This was such a great experience, I encourage everyone to put together local blogger gatherings. It's so great to put faces with names... and to have someone to give an in-person second opinion on your next decor risk!



When I held Kim's shower at my house a few weeks ago, I decided to get a jump start on a spring wreath which could do double-duty for the shower and for early spring.

Here's what I started with: $5 grapevine wreath from A.C. Moore; 5 pink silk roses ($1 each special at A.C. Moore); fishing line; and ribbon.

I started by sliding the roses into the grapevine wreath, one at a time and staggering them so they look like they are growing up the side of the wreath (sort of).
I trimmed the ends of the silk flowers.
I added some ribbon - toile to match the shower theme, but with some pink wired ribbon under it to keep it from being limp.
Now, it's your turn. Link up your spring decor ideas - crafts, floral arrangements, mantels, vignettes, etc.

p.s. Congrats to Katie on winning last week's giveaway! More details here


YHL House Crash: How it all came down

Yesterday was...well... a whirlwind! John and Sherry of the super blog Young House Love featured our house (and blog). I thought I would let you in on how it all came down...

Young House Love was one of the first blogs that I really followed regularly thanks to a recommendation from Carey during a visit to her store early last year. At that time, I had been writing a blog about our whole house renovation process and had really enjoyed it. But, I felt like the useful purpose of that blog was coming to an end and I wanted to go in a new direction. HOUSEography was born.

So, early last summer I had made a casual comment on YHL offering our house for a crash. We live in Arlington which is about 2 hours from where they live in Richmond, but I never really expected them to take me up on it. Low and behold, Sherry emailed me that night (!) and wanted to schedule a crash in the fall since Clara had just been born. Of course the fall was crazy and the holidays just come too quickly (they always do), so we decided to wait until the new year when everyone had more time to devote to it. We finally scheduled a date - February 11th (Jim's birthday!). I was giddy with excitement but told almost no one for fear of jinxing it!

So, on a gorgeous morning in February, John and Sherry stopped in with Clara and Burger in tow! They were incredibly friendly and fun to talk to, and downright adorable. Exactly what you would expect if you are a regular reader (and who isn't?!). We walked around the house for an hour and a half or so. Sherry and I talked (and talked, and talked, and talked) while John snapped I don't know how many pictures of our house. Speaking of which, I am AMAZED at how awesome our house looks in his pictures. He is really talented.

I knew it would be a month or two before they featured us because they had just done another house crash. Earlier this week, Sherry emailed me with some final follow-up questions. They know their readers so well because many of those questions were asked in the comments (both theirs and mine!).

Here are a few pics we snapped of each other just before they left. How cute is Clara?!

Thanks again to John and Sherry for a fun morning and for the crash. It was super exciting to finally meet my blogland heroes.

Today, I am thankful that despite over 26,000 visits yesterday, my blog did not crash!!!  Update: over 28,000 by midnight last night!

p.s. Don't miss a post! Consider becoming a follower here, or check us out on Facebook or Twitter!

p.s.s Swing back tomorrow for a fun spring decor link-up party!!!


Now about those chairs...

Welcome Young House Love Readers! I am honored and thrilled to be featurd on John and Sherry's super blog this morning. I'm doing a Sherry-style happy dance over here.

[Breathe] Back to the main event...

After my new table score last weekend, I got a lot of comments about the chairs and what I should do with them. Truly, they are adorable and they have been fine for us over the past 12 years, but they are really rickety, squeaky, and beyond help. Handy hubby has already reglued them to no avail. They are also quite small so when particularly tall people sit in them, I wonder if they think they are children's chairs!

So they may need to go. If they were in good shape, I would just paint them and call it a day. But it's not that easy...

So I have started a chair search on Craigslist and elsewhere. I found a set of chairs on Craigslist for $100. I loved the style but they were just a little wide and the seats were a little low for the new table.
Fortunately they found a happy home with my friend Jen who also needed new dining room chairs!
Then I saw some chairs at World Market that I really liked.
World Market
The wood in this picture is not accurate. It has that awesome Restoration Hardware gray patina which goes with everything and will not chip or get nicked up. Love. It's quite comfy, but the $129 price tag is not...

But World Market is having a friends and family sale this weekend. 25% off everything... Happy Dance!!

So unless Craigslist yields something sooner. These puppies are coming home with me.

If you like this post, please consider becoming a follower! See the links on the right!


Roomba Rescue

You may remember how much I adore our Roomba. Turns out one of their biggest flaws is that the batteries kick out after about a year of regular use. They do better with more regular use but we use ours only 2 or 3 times per week so maybe not enough to cycle the battery enough. Where we previously got an hour of cleaning out of it, we were now getting only about 15 minutes at most - barely enough to cover the kitchen. Argh.

So, I did some searching and found a replacement battery online. It cost around $30 for an aftermarket version (find it here), which considering a new Roomba would be about a few hundred dollars, it was worth it.

Total time to replace the battery was about 5 minutes - here are the steps.

1) Flip it over -
2) Then you remove the spinning brush (yellow).

3) Unscrew the four screws on the bottom. They do not come all the way out so you don't have to worry about losing them.
 4) Lift off the top and check out the dust inside your Roomba. Yuck!
 5) Lift out the old battery and replace it with the new one.
 6) Drop it back in the charger for a couple of hours so it recharges.
Back in business!

In case you are wondering, the picture above is the small area between our kitchen and dining room. It was originally intended to be a butler's pantry but we figured for this time in our life we could use an extra junk drop area more than a butler's pantry. But a butler's pantry would be nice too! Some day.


One thing leads to another...

I am going to be straight with you (I generally am so this is really nothing new). The entire time I was looking for new counter stools, I was also thinking about replacing our kitchen table and chairs. The table is an antique drop-leaf table that has been in my family for a really long time (100+ years), but it is just not practical for everyday use with kids. It is 2 inches shorter than a normal sized table which makes even my small-ish chairs a tight squeeze - especially on the sides where there is really no leg space.

I trolled Craigslist for several weeks even before I ordered the bar stools. The stools were a bigger priority on my annoying furniture that I hate list. The stools also didn't have any sentimental value so they were easier to replace. The table was actually the table that we ate off when I was very young. In hindsight, I think my parents stopped using it because it wasn't practical for their young family! Hah!

I really wanted a round pedestal table with a leaf or two if possible. Nearly every round table on Craigslist was too small, was not a pedestal, wasn't wood (laminate, etc.) or was just too hideous to even attempt a make-over.

I got frustrated. I started looking at new tables. I found a great table... well, a lot of great tables but not too many tables at a reasonable price! This World Market table was at the top of my list.

World Market - Charlotte
It's a nice size at 45" in diameter and comes with a leaf. It sells for $449 but I hear they often have coupons, so it probably would have been closer to $400 in the end. Not bad.

Things got busy over the weekend so I didn't buy it. I like to thing quite a bit about making a big purchase like that because I want to love it.

Then... Craigslist came through for me! I found a great solid oak 48" table with 2 leaves which had been recently refinished for $145! Score! I trucked out to the middle of nowhere Virginia to pick it up. It's perfect! 
Well... almost. The finish is not done perfectly for the hubby's taste but I am sure the kids will get it nicely distressed before long anyway.

Jim helped me bring it in after dinner one night last week before heading out for a neighborhood guys' night out. We quickly realized it was really tall - 33" tall to be exact. I wanted a bigger table but this was a tad bit ridiculous! Yikes! Fortunately, I quickly realized the casters were not meant for this table, but Jim was already out the door (funny how that happens!).
I had the table turned over and the screwdriver out of the junk drawer only seconds after he had left. I could not live with the giant table for even one night.
 Bang. Done.

Now, about those chairs...


HOUSE TOUR! (a replay...)

Last week, our house was featured on Remodelaholic. In case you didn't get over there to see it, here is a quick replay for you. Thanks again to Cassity for having HOUSEography over to play! Also, please check out my room-by-room house tour party going on here.

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Our house looked like this when we bought it in 2002.

This is what our house looks like today.

In 2009, we started a major remodel including renovating the existing house and adding a large extension on the rear of our house that would double the size of our living space and solve 95% of the house's problems (at least in our minds at the time). Our main goal in the design was to make the new an old spaces flow seamlessly together, so that people inside the house would have difficulty discerning where the old house ended and the new house begins. We think we succeeded since many of our friends have a hard time remembering what our house looked like before! (Side note for anyone thinking about a major remodel: I wrote a step-by-step blog about our renovation process which you can check out here.)

Let's start the tour! As you enter our house, you come right into the living room (and the family room beyond to the right in this picture). 

We were able to add a roof over our front door, but we were not able to easily solve the front entry issue so you enter directly into the living room - still not ideal. Most of our friends use the side door so the lack of a front entry is only a problem a few times per year, but it's still something I would love to fix at some point.

So, we were not using our living room with its standard furniture layout very much after we added our bright and light family room on the back, so we decided to change things up with a round table and four comfy chairs from Rowe. There is no sofa in here and we don't miss it a bit!

The two doors on either side of the fireplace lead to our compact screen porch where we often eat dinner weather permitting.

To the right is our dining room which grew by about 2 feet in the renovation process. This was just enough to adequately fit our vintage dining room set which my parents bought for us as a house warming gift. The chandelier was a Christmas gift from them a few years back.

If you continue through the dining room...
As you can see, although this is a new doorway, it feels old because we replicated the original archway between the dining room and living room.

To the right, we have a small hallway with our coat closet, a bench, and a half bath - 
The half bath and closet are in the same area as our original kitchen! Here's a picture - (the window on the right over the sink is now in the new half bathroom).
And this is our kitchen now...

The kitchen is open to our family room where we spend most of our time.

Although we had an architect and a general contractor do the heavy lifting on our addition, my handy hubby has built all of the built-in bookshelves in the entire house, the fireplace mantels, and the stove hood! He also installed the crown molding which is a story unto itself! His current house project is a huge set of built-ins in our basement rec room.

Now we'll head upstairs...
Originally, our stairs ran up the back side of our living room. Although we loved our stairwell, we just could not manage to save it and still have the open, flowing floor plan that we craved. 

Our master bedroom is intended to be a calm retreat from the rest of our house... but often it's the center of all of the action while everyone gets ready to go in the morning!

Off the bedroom is our master bathroom - 
Our son Alex's nursery is just down the hall. This room was originally our office, but now our desk is his changing table! These were the handy hubby's first foray into built-in bookshelves!
Next up is my daughter Elizabeth's room. Before the renovation, this was our master bedroom but her closet is about 3x as big as ours was when we lived in here! Thankfully, we had the foresight to rebuild the closets in each of the existing three spare bedrooms so hangers would actually fit.

In the basement (or "lower level" if you want to be fancy!) we have a guest bedroom with an adjoining bathroom. I made the upholstered headboard (details here).
Our most recent project was the built-in bookshelves in the basement rec room.

Hope you enjoyed the house tour! Check out my source page and house tour page for additional details!

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