As part of my Happiness Project, I have been trying to break down big goals (declutter house) into teeny tiny little goals (clean out a drawer). And so far it seems to be working. The high I got from cleaning out these two kitchen drawers was well, pretty high, I must say. I immediately felt calmer when I was done, and every time I need to get something from either of these drawers, I smile. And I use these drawers all the time. You see, these two drawers are also known as the junk drawers in the kitchen. You know you have one, it's okay. We all do. I just had two.
I knew they were a mess but I let them be until one afternoon. I had just closed one drawer when I heard a huge crash of what sounded like pots and pans and breakable Pyrex dishes. I couldn't understand what had happened, there were no pots and pans in my little overstuffed drawer. I opened the cabinets beneath my overstuffed drawers and there it was. The contents of my overstuffed drawer had overflowed its boundaries and had poured out into the cabinet below. My slamming the drawer seems to have caused an avalanche of stuff, which in turn caused the drawer stuff to topple over an entire shelf of pots and pans. And time for a mini-goal it was.
This is what my drawers looked like before.
I purged, I sorted, I put things where they actually belonged. Then I tried out every pen in the drawer to see if it actually worked.
Then I put back each item that was allowed to live in these drawers. I feel like I need to hit The Container Store for some drawer dividing items. Well, not really The Container Store, but some cheaper priced store that sells the same items.
Here are my after-drawers.
This took fifteen minutes of my time. Imagine. And it used to take me at least five minutes to find something specific in these drawers. Oh Happiness Project, I'm so happy already!
It's not totally done, but it's done enough to share.
The walls are painted.
The carpet tiles are down.
The furniture has been moved into the for-now places.
And we even took a trip? adventure? to Ikea on Friday to pick up a storage unit for the toys. Bought and built in an afternoon. Amazing.
Here are some pictures. I will add some more as more work/decorating is done.
As a reminder, here is a before picture of my basement. Pure wasted space.
Bear in mind that we still have some lighting issues down there and so the quality of pictures leave something to be desired, but here's an after:
And because I know there are some people keeping count, my total expenditure so far for the basement has been $431.
Primer/paint and brushes and stuff: $61
Carpet tiles: $294 (99cents a square foot. You can't really beat that.)
Toy storage: $76 (The unit with the bins above and a toy box.)
Pillow: $0 (my dad bought it for me, but it was really on sale in Bed Bath and Beyond for only $10!)
My time spent: about 14 hours so far, spread out over about 2 weeks, maybe a little less.
If we had hired someone to do the painting and carpet tiles, this would have already run us a minimum of $1000 before materials. All I can say right now is go me!
The past couple of days were biggies in a world where basements morph into
Tuesday morning I cleaned the floor, scrubbed like I've never done before.
If nothing else, it was a calorie burner.
And yesterday morning was the whole point of everything I've done so far; I
The baby and I went to Home Depot on Tuesday afternoon to buy some no VOC
and odorless paint. Home Depot didn't have any, they just don't carry any paint
that is not-bad for the environment. No really, that's what the guy in the paint
department told me.
Me: Do you have no-VOC paint?
Paint Guy: Nope, we don't carry that good-for-you-stuff.
Me: Okay then.
At least he had the decency to not point out that I had a granola
bar stuck to my skirt as I paraded around the store.
So then off to Lowe's we went. And Lowe's carries a huge assortment of
those good-for-you paints. After much deliberation (me) and ripping of those
little and thankfully free paint cards (baby), we chose a color. It looked like
a light green to me, the kitchen area in the basement has some green in it so in
theory it should all blend together.
Wednesday was painting day and a totally spontaneous one at that. I had
been planning to paint at night after the kids were in bed, but some days you
just have it all together, you know? So when the baby went down for her nap, I
ran down to the basement and painted for an hour straight. And when I looked up
after those 60 minutes (I knew it was an hour because I had thrown a load into
the dryer and set the timer. I am nothing if not a multi-tasker), I was done.
All the walls were now green. When wet they kind of looked like a pukey green
and I was kind of nauseous myself. But now that's it's dry, it looks much
better, more like a seafoam green or pistachio. I am not sure I would pick this
color again for anything, ever, but it's fine for this project.
And the baby cooperated too. She woke up as soon as I finished washing the
And then last night Josh was kind enough to move all the furniture that had
been sitting in the center of the room so we'd (I'd) be ready to go when the
carpet tiles came. I really had no idea where he was going to put everything,
especially the couch. This is what he did:
I have no clue how he got it up there or how he will get it down. But that's his
project. I have enough projects of my own right now.
Today my helper and I went down to clean up a little more.
Is my Happiness Project working? I think so. I am definitely happy that I
am done painting. Let's see how happy I am when the carpet comes.
Continuing on our merry way with my totally unprofessional rebranding of
our basement into a playroom, I present, phase two - the taping off of the walls
and ceilings with the blue painter's tape.
Blue Painter's Tape. Just rolls off your tongue. At least now it does. About an hour ago, it
wasn't coming that easily. If fact, I think the taping of the room was more
difficult than the priming of the room. I don't remember the last time I had to
hold my arms over my head for such a long period of time. I really must start
Anywho, here are some fascinating pictures of the blue painter's tape
sitting, for the most part, right where the wall meets the ceiling.
And, and for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture of the paint tray and
brush that I used last night, now all dried out. I knew I forgot to go back
downstairs for something. Oh well.
Next Up - tomorrow night: the amazingness that is the cleaning of the basement
floors. I know, I know, you're waiting with baited breath. But don't. You might
pass out before I get down there. Especially because my Swiffer broke the other
day. I'm pretty sure this is going to be me, my knees, some paper towels and a
bottle of Fantastik.
Oh, Happiness Project, are we happy yet?
Wow, it's been a bunch of days since I've been here. The girls and I have
had extra bad colds, the kind where no one goes to school, no one does any
laundry and everyone is too kvetchy to even take a nap.
Thankfully, the tissue avalanche has come to an (almost) end, the three
year old is back in her beloved nursery classroom and the baby is, if not off my
lap for an entire minute, at least not hanging from my neck and crying "stand
up, stand up" because she's only happy when one of stands and holds her.
So what would you do after finally seeing there might be a light at the end
of the Bad Cold Tunnel? Take a shower? Sit and look at a wall? Maybe make a cup
of hot chocolate and not share it? All good ideas. Not me. I mean, I did have a
hot chocolate, but that's neither here nor there. No, what did I do? Last night,
I painted the basement. Well, really, I primed it, with my new love, Odorless
Kilz White Primer.
After spending the entire week with two of the kids on the couch,
surrounded by tissues and toys that have been Lysoled, I realized that even
though I really don't want to throw any money into making a basement playroom,
especially in a basement that is somewhat prone to flooding when it rains, I
realized that I have no choice. So I am going to do this as efficiently, as
quickly and as inexpensively (read: on the cheapo scale) as possible. And I know
myself, if I think too much, nothing gets done so I'm just going to jump in and do it.
And this is how I came to be standing in the basement at 9:30pm on a Sunday
wearing and an old and ripped t-shirt and Josh's old sweatpants that have lost
all the elastic - have you ever tried to paint while holding your pants up? -
looking at the newly primed walls of my basement. It looks better already.
I wanted to show you what the basement looked like before, but I forgot to take a picture.
Sadly, this is what the basement looks like after it's been cleaned up and after we threw
out bags and bags of stuff and moved everything to the middle of the room.
I'd show you a picture of the primed walls, but they're still white, so
that would be silly.
But I will update you as the project continues.
And how does this relate to my Happiness Project that I
had decided to start thinking about? The first chapter of that book talks about
creating energy in your life, and doing that by releasing things that are
bogging you down and making you drag your feet everyday. And clutter is at the
top of my list. And if the consequence of cleaning out the basement is having to
paint it, so be it. It's worth it. So far. I haven't had to fight with that roll
of blue painter's tape yet.
I used to be scared of empty shelves. Got a shelf, fill it up. If I don't
fill it up, it means I don't have. So for years, I have filled my shelves (and I
have many of them) with clothes, pictures, my kids' toys, books - even some
duplicates because Josh and I each had one when we got married. Clutter was my
friend, it meant that we were okay, we had enough. Perhaps this is because I am
a grandchild of Holocaust survivors, wonderful and inspiring people who
literally had nothing but the clothes on their backs (and a large contraband
violin which did not make it through Ellis Island because there was no where to
hide it), which brings us full circle to the whole clothes on their backs thing.
I'm not trying to sound flippant, I just am not sure where this obsession
came from but it's been bothering me and I have been exploring many different angles.
Right about now you might be thinking, hey, I come here for art projects
and cookies, not philosophy, but bear with me. This just might be your new project.
Don't worry, we'll still make cookies.
I have been reading a book called The Happiness Project. I haven't finished
it yet, but I already feel like this is the book that I have been waiting for.
Like me, Gretchen Rubin, the author, is a mom in her thirties with (thank G-d) a
wonderful life of a husband, kids, home ownership and creativity. But something
was missing for Gretchen and she couldn't put her finger on it. I've been having
the same issues lately. I cannot, for the life of me, begin to tell you what the
problem is, but something, something is missing, something is off. And I wish I
knew what it was. It's not about anyone else in my life, just me.
From the first page of the book, I have felt like Gretchen is talking to
me. I keep nodding my head and saying, "oh my gosh, me too". And then I look
around and see that I am alone in the room and I am talking to myself. Gretchen
is happy with her life, but she wants to be happier, hence the name of her
And I think I might need a Happiness Project too. As I mentioned before, I
have not finished the book yet, but I hope to over the weekend, at which time
the plan is to give a lot of thought as to how I can implement my own happiness
project, which I will be so happy (see I'm happier already) to share with you.
So what does this have to do with empty shelves? One part of The Happiness
Project talks about creating more energy for yourself by knocking off the tasks
on your never-ending to-do list (you know you have one), specifically the tasks
that are draining your mental energy because they keep knocking around in your
head all day. A huge one for me is the toy situation in my living room. Because
I don't have a playroom (yet - basement, you're next!) my living room is the
catchall for all the toys in the house and I have been finding lately (and
especially since the kids' Chanukah presents have been thrown into the mix) that
I am being boxed out of my own living room. There is literally no where to sit.
Today was the day. We're having company this weekend, I haven't cooked or
cleaned anything yet, but today was the day. Baby and I spent the better part of
the morning purging, sorting and making piles. Now that she is napping, I am
trying to finish this off so I can look around my living room and smile.
Here are some before pictures of unsorted toys crammed into drawers and
boxes, plus some that my mom will be horrified to see, such as behind the
couches. But I am here to bare all and share all, in the hopes that I will
inspire some other mom to take control of her home and maybe even her life.
I do have to say, if nothing else, I have recovered the majority of the Clics that
we have been missing. Do you have Clics? It's an awesome toy, the kids played with
them everyday until we just couldn't find most of them. Welcome back Clics.
There will be some after pictures coming soon.
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)