Labeling (everything) the easy way

I’ve been on a big organizing and decluttering kick lately. Well, in the last 3 yearsūüėČ

This year I’ve focused on getting things pared down, sorted and labeled so I know what I have, need and never need to buy again (looking at you tea lights!). As is popular in Pinterest and on blogs today, a lot of people buy a Cricut machine which makes custom vinyl labels. I admit, it’s tempting but when I look at what’s easy and simple I came to the conclusion that it’s just not needed right now.

If I take the cost of the machine ($199-300 plus the cost of cartridges) it’s easier to think about alternatives. Here’s what I use most often:


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(find it here on Amazon)

While it’s not super cheap, it’s one of the easiest I’ve found to use and has a ton of features. One of the best things is that it’s laid out like a QWERTY keyboard so it’s similar to texting making typing out the labels a lot faster.

The clear cartridge is great and I’ve used it throughout the kitchen:

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I’ll admit that for these glass bottles I considered etching the glass but it’s so much faster and easier to use a clear label + I can replace it if it gets sticky over time.

I’ve also used the label maker for my spice jars:

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Again, easy to replace when I change up the spices or need to add more.

Throughout the house I use these Smarassel boxes to store everything from craft supplies to journals and cards. To make the labels I simply cut out small square from card stock, put on 2 pieces of wishi tape and then overlay it with a clear label.


The best part is that I can do a whole cabinet of these boxes in about 30 minutes with minimal tools or clean up.

Now, the main benefit I can see to a special vinyl machine is the ability to make BIG labels, for things like storage boxes holding holiday decorations or shoeboxes in the bathroom. I have a solution for that: printer + laminator!

This is the laminator I have though I’m pretty certain I paid about $20 during a Black Friday type sale. I’ve picked up full sheet and small laminating sheets but I love that I don’t need to put them inside a sleeve, just load them up and run through the machine.

Using a template in Excel, I make labels in 3 different sizes for small, medium and large boxes, print the sheets out on regular white printer paper, cut them to size and then run through the laminator.

Now they’re labeling boxes of medicine:


My storage boxes in the garage:


Even the bigger holiday storage:


and the buckets where I store shop rags and towels:


The cubes for clothing storage:


And even overflow storage in the kitchen:


How they get secured varies, the boxes in my room have handles so I simply hole punch the label and run some twine through the holes and tie off.¬†For most of the plastic boxes I just cut a strip of velcro and secure it since it’s easy enough to change if the contents of the box get updated.

Comparing costs

While there are some costs to this method it works well for me. This is the printer I use which I bought for about $100 and the toner cartridge is about $10 and lasts a full 12 months of printing so the cost for these labels is negligible. Yes, the clear cartridge for the labeler is expensive (about $30) but for 30′ of label it’s lasted me years and I still have half left!

Either way there will be up front costs in terms of supplies but I still think I’ll come out ahead using the label maker and laminator over a fancy vinyl cutting machine. For the few items I would like nicer labels (like baking storage in the kitchen) I’ve been able to find affordable done for you options on Etsy. More on that in a later post!

By the Dozen

I’m liking this new format of tracking all the little things I’ve done in a week!

1. The sewing spree continues and I am just about done with all of outer bags that were cut for the corn bags. Here they are:



I’m now working on mass producing the inner bags which will hold the corn, I’ve already gone through 2 spools of thread and will need to pick up more soon.

2. When my local feed shop went out of business I worried I would need to go out in the country for feed corn, which fills the corn bags,¬†does not pop in the microwave, and is about $15 for a 50-lb bag. Luckily the Tractor Supply Co had bags in stock for under $10 and now I’m awash in corn!

Of course all that corn was to fill smaller bags and so I got 28 done before we ran out:


3. I’ve been procrastinating on the kitchen cabinet trim but just got sick of looking at it undone so I set up the saws in the backyard so I could make the angled cuts without kneeling on the ground:


4. Once they were cut and dry fitted I took them back outside for staining. The smallest container of golden pecan stain was more than enough and it took 2 coats to get them closer to the right shade of the cabinet:



5. At least one of my outdoor goals is done, I removed the raised flower bed from the backyard under the guest room window and need to break up the wood for recycling. Of course I immediately filled the spot with the big dog crate, wood storage and some gutters I’m working on to prevent the dogs from using the dirt patch as a toilet so it doesn’t actually look much better.



6. In the front yard I cleaned up some of the debris, washed off the bench and put out the outdoor rug making a nice clean slate:


7. I grabbed the pruning shears and attacked the rose bushes that I hated and wanted out. I still need to dig out the roots but it’s a good start!

8. After picking up some muslin, I started to line the curtains in the kitchen. Can you tell which ones having lining?


9. I picked up 2 dozen new bottles for spices (these ones) and decanted all my random spices into the bottles and labeled them.


10. At the same place I picked out 4 glass bottles for oils:


and I moved these to the baking cabinet so they’re easier to get out for cooking (they were above the stove). A few of the original bottles still had some oil so those extras are above the stove for refills.

11. Thursday was my monthly day off so instead of going out somewhere I spent the majority of the day in the backyard cleaning. First I used the string trimmer on the lantana:


and swept up the side yard walkway really well. It’s a mess again after I started raking and pruning the lantana in the raised bed but progress was made.

Then, 12, I tied back the bougainvillea which is beautiful but has the most dangerous spikes! Using some rope from the garage I pulled it up and back into the fence so I could work around it. I don’t have pics of that since it’s hard to see and I’m in the midst of working on a trellis that will allow the bougainvillea to grow UP and not OUT – right now it’s a bit dangerous to walk thru the side yard because those thorns are super spikey and painful.

I can’t wait to get the backyard looking better!

Another Dozen

I’m back with more little to do’s marked as done this week.

1. The kitchen floor was the hardest part of the hardwood project and it just never lined up perfectly with the rest of the living room. So I made a few cuts and installed a flat transition piece to make it look much nicer. Here’s the after:


2. Outside, aka the space I’ve been neglecting for 2 years, I threw out a bunch of dead plants and cleaned up the pots in the front yard.¬†A bunch of them went into the garage on the new shelf I put up last week but the rest were going back on the black storage unit which got moved to the backyard:


3. I finally got fed up with my utensil drawer and dumped it out, lining the bottom with this pretty blue wallpaper protected by contact paper


4. The boards are hobby boards from Home Depot and I dry cut them to fit a new configuration. The glue was a joke so I used my nail gun to (carefully) attach the boards.

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5. I also did the utensil drawer to the right of the stove which was a mess of spoons and spatulas before and is now gorgeous:



6. In the guest bath I installed the transition strip along the tub:


Yes, it’s super boring and trivial but having that seam undone was bugging me!

7. Also in the guest bath I finished painting the trim and beadboard white and touched up the blue wall paint. This allowed me to rehang the mirrors and call the room done!



8. In the office I pulled out ALL of my papers and decided it was time to “file the pile” aka go through everything. There were a lot of misfiled papers but slowly I was able to get things into stacks. My strategy right now is to label everything by type and year and then scan those bundles as PDFs. So far I have 38 “bundles” and some categories span multiple years (for example, it’s not worth it to scan oil change receipts by year for my Toyota).


9. I’ve been thinking about donating this firetruck rocker I got years ago for a photography project since it’s so big and takes up a lot of room. When I tried to sell it at a garage sale people kept lowballing the offer at $10 so I got annoyed. Well I decided to donate it to our fire station to auction off during their 4th of July pancake breakfast – proceeds to benefit a local man waiting for a bone marrow transplant. I got it cleaned up and delivered last weekend! (Update: it sold for $150!)¬†


10.¬†In the guest room I started painting the foot chest, it’s a little rough around the edges and needs a latex base before I put on the top layer of paint but at least it’s started!

11. After getting my sewing machine back from the shop I went on a bit of a sewing spree, finishing up a bunch of corn bags and working my way through all the cut fabric I had in stacks. I started sorting all the fabric so I knew what needed to be templated, cut, sewn and sold. Most of the time I give away what I sew but eventually I’ll pick up another bag of feed corn and sell a bunch of corn bags. Of course the store that sold feed corn, $15 for a 50 lb bag, just went out of business so I’ll need to find a new source!

12. Finally, I got a little bored when I was sewing and took 5 minutes to color code my straight pins¬†because I’m weird and it makes me happy okay?! I can’t possibly keep it up but it was fun to look at while I sewed through piles and piles of fabric over the weekend.


Master List 2016 – June Updates

It’s nearly halfway through the year and so I suppose it’s a good time to update what’s been done around the house so far and what’s coming. I’m also linking to the static pages which I’m in the process of updating with new photos

In the kitchen¬†I haven’t made much progress and still have most of these things on my list (plus added another one)

  • Fix the faucet or replace it with one that has more clearance
  • Get the counter tops re-sealed
  • Add trim around the cabinet base – started
  • Line the curtains with a solid white fabric¬†NEW
  • Fix the curtain hangers so they don’t fall off the wire

Dream goal:

  • Replace the stove/oven

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The dining room¬†project will be underway soon and I’m excited to work with the electrician soon

  • frame out the door to the garage and paint
  • reconfigure the garage light switch
  • Install new outlet and move existing outlet
  • Install built in dinette and bookshelf
    • build a built in bench 6′ long
    • create a countertop along the back
    • build a bookshelf 8′ tall across 6′
    • add lighting
    • trim and paint the entire contraption
  • Reinstall baseboards
  • Paint base of bench and add cross supports

In the living room I can’t think of much that¬†needs to be done but I would very much like to replace the two green arm chairs with a big leather stuffed chair. It’ll be low on the priority list but I still want to think about the seating situation.

  • Add 2 new feet to the couch (in the middle) stained to match the others
  • Re-finish the dresser (possibly paint)
  • Replace green arm chairs

The guest bath has had the most progress so far.

  • Skim coat the walls
  • Paint the walls blue
  • Install a can light in the shower
  • Trim out the door
  • Sand and re-paint the tall cabinet
  • finish replacing floor tiles
  • remove the baseboards
  • install new baseboards, bead board & chair rail
  • paint the trim

Half of the bath is done all the way to the chair rail but I still need to fill nail holes, caulk the edges and paint.


Dream goal:

  • take down the shower surround and re-tile it with subway tile
  • upgrade the faucet in the bathtub

In the office the paperwork project is well underway and getting really organized!

  • finish trimming out the door and paint the frame
  • trim out the window with a new frame and sill
  • replace the window
  • organize all of the papers, boxes and binders –HALFWAY DONE

The guest room needs a bit more work in organization within the closet and around my fabric but overall has been working really well.

  • finish trimming out the door
  • find a runner/small rug for the guest room
  • recover the desk bench with a new fabric
  • paint the foot chest in the guest room¬†NEW
  • create a pad and cover for the¬†foot chest
  • add feet to the window bench to raise it up¬†(used a different bench in here)
  • work on fabric projects to use up material –¬†HALFWAY DONE

My master bedroom has a new bed set up which added a ton of storage and I also got a new mattress

  • finish the trim on the door (hallway side) and paint
  • find a solution for the bed frame to raise it up 12-24″ higher
  • make a headboard
  • buy¬†a new frame for picture above dresser¬†NEW

Dream goal:

  • replace the sliding glass door with a single french door to the backyard

The master bathroom still has the dream goal:

  • re-do the shower
    • take out the shower surround
    • replace the floor pan
    • tile the walls with subway tile
  • recycle the door and install a shower curtain

The backyard has some goals for the new year to make it more useful:

  • take out the corner patio and save the bricks
  • take out the raised garden bed under the guest room window
  • take out the back door patio and walkway to the side yard
  • build a new patio outside the back door with access to the side yard
  • install a water barrel on the gutter downspout
  • take out 2 dead rose bushes
  • make minor fence repairs
  • reseed the lawn

The side yard hasn’t changed much since spring with everything growing out there

  • build a trellis around the bougainvillea to support it growing up and over the raised garden beds
  • keep the lantana from taking over
  • make space for the lawn mower and garden tools (protect from the elements)
  • Take the old gutters in for recycling¬†NEW

The front yard also needs a lot of work:

  • haul away the rest of the wood from the maple tree¬†HALFWAY DONE
  • grind down the 2 tree stumps and take out prominent roots
  • remove the palm tree (attempt to re-root in the front yard)
  • take out 2 orange rose bushes
  • get rid of the bricks around the old tree and level that flower bed
    • replant the lily growing in that box
  • build a fence out to the front of the property
    • add a gate to the end of the fence
  • fix the walkway up to the house
  • take down the patio cover over the front door¬†HALFWAY DONE
  • replace the gutters along the side and front of the house
  • install new downspouts to divert water
    • add water barrels
  • plant a tree in the front yard

And I made a lot of progress in the garage

  • install new can lights throughout the garage
  • paint the floor when the temps are within range
  • finish trimming the window, caulk and paint it
  • reconfigure the wood cabinets
  • move the food pantry
  • get the holiday storage bins up on the walls
  • build a new box for the water heater

Dream goal:

  • add a water softener for the house

Then I have a couple of whole house changes:

  • Add quarter round to all baseboards, re-caulk and paint all trim
  • Install and secure floor transitions for laminate flooring – all but 1 is done
  • Choose color and paint the exterior of the house

Dream goal:

  • install crown molding in every room
  • replace ALL windows with new, more efficient models and trim them out

Should be easy, right? I’ll keep telling myself that.

A dozen little things

I’m discovering that most of the work I need to do is the super small, annoying stuff that lingers instead of the big projects. To “finish” rooms I made a long list room by room of all the things that need to be done and I’m checking them off little by little.

Here’s what I accomplished this week:

1. Finished installed the front door transition. This one was by far the hardest as I kept having to cut into the boards piece by piece. But it’s secure and looks wonderful!


2. Installed a new shelf in the garage. These brackets were from the shelf I used to have behind the sofa and I just used some spare 1x3s for the shelf. Eventually I’ll get a larger piece of lumber or join them with the Kreg Jig but for now it’s just holding outdoor stuff that’s not breakable if it falls.


3. Hung the air dryer up on the wall just to get a little more room beside the washer and dryer. Luckily this is super lightweight!


4. Installed hooks for the extension cords, although I could only find 1 of the 3 I own…


5. Cut a bunch of spare wood into uniform lengths for a game of giant Jenga. I thought I had so much wood but it looks like I need a LOT more to make a serious tower.



6. Began installing the quarter round trim on the kitchen cabinets. These came up when I installed the floors and the originals are so splintered and crappy I got new ones.


7. Went through all my DVDs and wrote them down in a Google Drive Excel sheet. It’s nice to have everything I own in one place and I also threw away one DVD that wasn’t working and returned a duplicate TV season to Target.

8. Cleared off the front of my fridge. It’s a small thing but feels so much cleaner this way. On the side I still have some cute magnets and the folder for my receipts but it’s otherwise clean!

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9. Purchased a new frame at Ikea for the picture in my bedroom that went crash! boom!


10. Bought 2 cheap pool noodles and cut them with a serrated knife to fit my boots. Now the boots stand straight up in my closet.


11. Hung the chalkboard I made in the garage. I need to pick up some old school chalk to season it but then I’ll probably just use my chalk pen.


12. Stuffed the back pillow from my office Ikea chair with a ton of poly. This one was so wimpy, especially with the dogs sitting on it all the time so I opened up the seams and stuffed until it was more supportive.

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Living Yolo

Living in Yolo county is so different than most people assume – it’s not that exciting and there’s not a whole lot going on. But what we may lack in nightlife and excitement, we more than make up for in views.

Sunday I was driving back from the store and noticed some awesome clouds, a sure sign it would be a beautiful sunset. I stalked a good location and set my alarm for 8pm since the sun is setting around 8:30 these days.

Here’s my first stop:


You know how much I love sunflowers, right? Well, you should.

There were some great, big walnut trees shielding the bee hives (which I stayed far away from):


This field had a good mix of open and closed flowers, they’re months away from harvesting:


After awhile I jumped back in the car and raced up to the gravel access road above the fields between Zamora and Knights Landing. Aka no man’s land.

I reached the place I wanted to shoot¬†just as the sun disappeared but that didn’t mean the view disappointed.



As I was driving back I noticed that the irrigation canal had a plant growing along the surface and the reflection of the sky was so beautiful I had to stop:


One more shot from the trip back


Getting Shit Done

What I actually accomplished this past weekend was far more than I thought possible!

  • I painted the back door white to match the new trim:


It needs a third coat to cover the gray completely but I love it!

  • I also worked on the floor transitions, trimming the floor tiles with my Dremel and then chipping the pieces away with a chisel. I secured the metal transition piece in place with liquid nails and then used a mallet to get the trim piece in securely. The only one that needs more work is the front door.
  • The Ikea curtain wire set up in the master bedroom closet was falling out of the wall so I took it down, installed 2 braces and a solid wood curtain rod. It needed to be trimmed down on the miter saw a little but fits great!



  • The closet shelves got a little update when I added another, lower shelf so now there’s enough room for all my shoes (with space for ones I’m wearing at the moment)


  • I also picked up a little tool to cut copper pipes. Since I’m not using the towel rods in the master bath anymore I took off a few inches so this one could be installed inside the cabinet to hold headbands

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  • Also in the master bath I switched the towel hooks and hand towel rack back – I prefer to have the hand towel right by the sink and it’s easier to hang my robes when the dog water bowl isn’t right underneath.

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  • Speaking of bathrooms, the guest bath got another few rounds of caulk and I started painting the trim. Even though the beadboard comes in white it’s a weird off-white that I hate.


  • I had a piece of MDF leftover from a project (literally cannot remember which project) so I drilled 4 holes in the corners and then painted it with chalkboard paint. That quart was separating so I had to mix it quite a bit and it’ll probably need to be used up soon. Once it’s dry that will go in the garage, maybe as a list of things in the chest freezer?


  • I picked up this big, square, brown pillow for $4 and knew it would be great in my office but needed a cover. Luckily a few weeks back I found a single panel of my closet curtains in Ikea’s As-Is section for a couple bucks. I was able to sew this pocket pillowcase right before my sewing machine needle broke.


  • I took off the pad from this little bench that goes with the desk in the guest room, it had an ugly pink cover. Using the palm sander and Dremel, I sanded off the reddish stain and wiped it clean. Then covered the top with a bright outdoor fabric.



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I’ve also made a handy checklist of the projects I want to finish in each room before I update my house pages (here). Only 3 projects will require me to spend actual money, most are simple updates and I already have all the materials on hand.