Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Place for Everything...GARAGE!

This was a big weekend project Mister Och and I have been putting off for the entire year we've been in this house.  We've kinda sorta organized it when we moved in...but there was no specific system...and no motivation to keep it a particular it turned out looking like this...

This is a ONE car garage people! (why ever would these dunces think families living in Alaska be OK with only one sheltered car with the other's battery being drained by the subzero temps outside is beyond me) But, just take note of all the junk sitting on the floor. We would have to climb over and around these articles going in and out of the car. 

And check this out...
There's this hallway/storage area/exit to the backyard space towards the back of the garage. Strange configuration, I know, but extra space is always welcome.  Yes, this is a queen mattress just sitting there from our previous home's guest bedroom (no space inside). There's also a pile of patio furniture cushions just thrown in front of that back door. Out of sight, but taking just as much space, are boxes of things we didn't have room for.

I've mentioned the mouse problem we had, right? Our unit butts up against a thick stand of trees, which provides a nice view from our windows, but apparently houses field mice as well. There was a ventilation shaft that wasn't properly screened that we believe was used as an entrance to the garage. When temps started to drop...the warmth of our heated garage beckoned to them like a siren song. The sight of mouse droppings up and down the walls was enough to get my ass in gear to clean all this up.

I didn't quite know how to go about organizing the space.  

And then this picture from the Container Store grabbed ahold of my heart and didn't let go:

Wall-mounted shelving! So pretty!!! Solution to keep things out of the reach of mice! YES!!!

Price tag for this system: $1180.00


But I was so desperate to have this, I convinced myself it was worth it.  But every time the "checkout" button was to be pressed, I just couldn't spend that much dough. So I yammered on and on about it until the hubby gave in and took leave one Friday so we can explore other options. 
(Lowes and Home Depot, baby!)

Spending just a fraction of the Container Store sticker price we came up with this:

The Rubbermaid Fast Track system holds up golf pull carts, junior golf sets, and lawn chairs on one track. Underneath sits the recycling bin and the golf organization rack.  The lower track holds the kids' sleds and balls plus hula hoop (they can get their stuff themselves!).

The wall-mounted shelving is a heavy duty Closetmaid system available at Home Depot.

Let's take a closer look at the bins, shall we? Before we purchased everything, I made an inventory of the things we had and drew in a rough plan of where on the shelves they will be kept:

It's all pretty self-explanatory.  Grilling and gardening supplies are on the higher shelves since we only use them three months out of the whole year, if that. Auto coolant and wiper fluid are in another bin out of the kids' reach. I have a little silver bucket that holds my car cleaning kit next to it as well.  

The hiking bin is our grab-and-go bin, should we get an impulse to go out and enjoy a beautiful day.  It holds: two cans of bear spray, insect repellant spray and bracelets, water bottles, sunscreen, bear bells, and granola bars. Our hiking poles are already stowed away in the car, so we are all set to go explore a trail whenever the mood hits us.

The bottom shelf is for the girls. The current season's bin sits on top. The winter toy bin holds: snowball makers, igloo block molds, and a snowman kit. The summer toy bin holds: bubble solution and related accessories, sidewalk chalk, shovels, and pails.

We keep a tool tote/basket on top of the Mister's tool chest that holds frequently used tools like screwdrivers, hammer, and such so he can simply grab that when I nag him to put something up on the wall for me. :-)

And of course the lantern is out in an easy access spot in case of power outages.

Next to the wall system, another Rubbermaid Fast Track rail holds the kids' bikes (minus Liv's since we owe her a new one this summer). The big black bin holds all of our sleeping bags.

On the other side of the wall:

Everything is off the floor on a track as well.  The shop vac is mounted to the wall, easy to use when cleaning out the car. Weed trimmer, rakes, snow shovels, and leaf blower are all on the track as well. The only thing on the floor in the corner is the bin that holds 10 gallons of ice melt.

 We installed these closet shelves upside down to corral our mess of shoes that normally serve as the tripping hazard of the space.

And here we move on to the little hallway space:

The mattress thrown in the dumpster, and the freestanding shelf we had moved to the corner, we finally could walk through without wrestling with something. (Yes, that is a washer and dryer...base housing provides these, but forbids their removal from the unit if you don't want to use them...circa thanks)  The lawnmower, snow thrower, and steam vac run along this wall. 

The top shelf holds the big bulky stuff like the miter saw, an extra car battery, portable heater fan, and our ever constant supply of Corona. LOL. The black bins hold a variety of holds painting supplies, another holds misc home improvement/repair supplies, another has the circular saw.  The bottom two shelves has our emergency supplies.  72-hour kits both for shelter-in-place and evacuation purposes.  Thoroughly prepared, just not on a Doomsday Preppers crazy level.  The bins give me easy access to update supplies and rotate food.

Well, that was long-winded enough, wouldn't you say? Anyone want to share their garage organization projects?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Place for Everything...Fridge

 Downgrading from a mighty side-by-side fridge to the military housing's version was tough for Fam Och...well, mainly for me. With high-energy children, and one of them a growing pre-teen, keeping a stocked fridge was a necessity.  There's not much to this, really, but I thought to share anyway since there were some ideas I've picked up from Pinterest and other various sources that have made the most use of this teeny space.

One of my favorite containers in this fridge are the Sistema slim-line pitchers by Martha Stewart. I use them for Kool-Aid juice (my kids are junkies when it comes to Kool-Aid). The thing is, each kid prefers their own favorite flavor.  The slim profiles let me fit in three of them (one is behind the water pitcher) so each child has a pitcher of their fave juice at all times.  Plus, if you take note of the top of those pitchers, the lid seals to the rest of the body, and the spout has a knob that seals it closed as more spills!

Underneath the pitchers is another slim container that houses anything that is left in the fridge to defrost,  It doesn't take up much room, but the sides keep any juices that may seep out away from everything else on that shelf.

And those white bins from the Target dollar section make another appearance! I have two of them in there, one for a sandwich kit basket and another for the kids' snacks.

This sandwich kit is mainly for my lazy 13 year old who thinks it too much trouble to put all those things he pulled out to make a sandwich back in their proper places. Before, I would find the mustard thrown into the very back. This has deli meat, assorted cheese slices, and the standard mayo and mustard bottles.  

The snack bin has little containers of cut fruit in serving sizes, drinkable yogurt, fruit cups, and Babybell cheese rounds. The basket sits at a level that the girls can look right into when they open the fridge. This works the best for Miss Sophie when she comes home from school famished, she can simply grab two things from the bin and she's good to go for her snack.

And yes, you did see my onions, garlic, and potatoes in one of the bottom drawers. I know they keep best in a pantry..but we recently had a problem with mice breaking into the house...and ever since then, I have all of our food within the confines of the fridge, or in airtight containers in the pantry.

Although I would rather have my lovely old side-by-side, when organizing food in this current one, the trade-off in space isn't so bad anymore.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Random Monday

 I've been horrible at updating, aren't I?

Here are several tidbits on what we've been doing lately:

  • Spring Break has started for the kiddos. This makes me laugh because whenever I look outside, it still looks like the dead of winter here. Today is my last day of my Bachelor's degree, so this is also a break for me before I start on my Master's in a couple weeks.  We are considering skiing lessons, a couple trips to the indoor playground, and perhaps a trek to Palmer to visit friends.  
  • Birthday planning for the girls in April is in full swing. Candyland got thrown out the window as if they never jumped up and down with the thought of it.  It is a circus theme now, and the option of changing it is banned and punishable by death now that I have purchased supplies.  I'm going all out with this one, it is a double party after all...and they didn't have one last year.
  • We are making progress in leaps and bounds when it comes to picking up the girls' mess and making their beds. This is due mostly to the "Oh, no, you didn't put me away" toy hostage box I've started filling with random children artifacts I find on the floor  or anywhere they don't belong for that matter. I'm mighty pleased with myself.
  • Mister Dylan is busy with basketball at school. He made the varsity team, and their big tourney is coming up soon. 
  • The Mister is busy at work. They received great compliments in their recent UCI or CUI or CIU or whatever acronym they changed it to now. Yay for the hubbyman!
  • Organization endeavors are being tackled in mini projects, posts to come soon...although, after all of those, you all will probably think I'm majorly psycho. 
Until next time!

Grand Aurora Sighting

Courtesy of John Thain

If ever I had to choose just ONE from the hundreds of Alaska experiences as the one I had been most looking forward to, it's this.  Since we landed in the frozen tundra a year ago, I have been crossing my fingers, hoping with all my might I would behold the Aurora Borealis...or what most call the Northern Lights.

I won't get into the technicalities of how and why they show up, but in the most general terms, when charged particles hit atoms in the atmosphere, auroras show up in the sky (mostly in high latitudes...which means not only Alaska folk can see these...Canada, all them northern European countries, Russia...etc.). It doesn't happen al the time, and when it does, it is usually past Fam Och's bedtime, so we've missed a couple opportunities. Also, light pollution, cloud cover, and moonshine all affect their visibility.  So you all can understand why I was nervous about living here for four years and not seeing a single one.

I'm sure you've all heard about the big solar storm/flare events last week.  Well, because of that, aurora activity shot through the roof. This was our chance! We had initially planned to drive north from Anchorage around 10pm (kids didn't have school the next day), and watch a movie in the car while waiting for an appearance. At 9pm, my Facebook feed was blowing up about all the sightings right on base! By the time we looked outside, they were gone.  So we grabbed our coats, blankets, movie, everything but the camera (FAIL!) and drove out.

First, we parked in the Thunderbird Falls parking lot. It was super dark and not a lot of people parked there. Five minutes in, through the trees, we could spy a faint green area glow brighter and brighter. It was awesome. BUT, we figured to get a better look and drove down to Eagle River on Skyline Drive (a friend had mentioned a sighting from there not even an hour earlier).

By golly, were we glad we did! Up on that mountain, with the Anchorage Bowl and the Cook Inlet below us, the most spectacular green ribbon danced in the sky. It started out as a streak of green, which then shimmered and curled and grew. It would fade for a minute or two, reappear, and dance some more. Even Liv, who fell asleep on the way up, was wide awake, oooohing and aaaahing at the show.  Thirty minutes later, we regretfully made our way back down to base since the Mister was due to work in less than six hours. 

We are so thankful to have been blessed with this experience.  Another thing to check of my 101 (um, yeah I know I have to update that), another thing to love living here in AK.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Place for Everything...Entertainment Center

 When the Mister and I were both bringing home the bacon, life (as in the shopping carelessly life) was sweet.  One of our vices was buying DVD's.  Every Tuesday, the new releases would come out on the shelves, and we would toss them in the cart, even when we weren't sure if we'd like the movie.  The justification at the time? It still didn't cost as much as going to the theaters. Needless to say, now that I am no longer contributing to the cha-ching, we've gotten smart about all that spending. However, those five years of living large has left us with a fairly impressive media collection. And it hasn't escaped my organization overhaul project.

At first, we opted for the three-ring binder solution:

Problem: It was too much trouble for SOME people to find the empty slot to return the disc to. We ended up with stacks of naked DVD's stacked on top of each other NEXT to the binders.

Ikea to the rescue one more!

Knos box for $7.99/ea. A bit pricey for Ikea standards, but still a bargain.
I loaded up on these, buying enough for what we have plus a couple more for future additions.

You can get these sleeves anywhere, but the ones at office supply stores are priced better.  Some are half plastic/half paper, but I prefer the thicker 100% vinyl ones.

We split up the DVD's into categories and placed them in the assigned boxes in alphabetical order.  (It may be excessive, I know, but I will always be able to find the movie I'm looking for)

They fit perfectly in the Ikea Billy bookcases that flank the TV.

I like that there's no visual clutter (although I must work on doing the same thing for my books), and I love the oodles of space I've saved. Another project in the works: make labels for the a later time...

Here is our media center in the living room. Don't mind Diego...I was not prepared to fight with Liv to turn it off just so I could snap a pic.

The girls are the ones who play with the Nintendo Wii, and they know to put their nunchucks and all in the box next to the console.  Also, on the lower right-hand shelf sits a box much like the DVD storage that houses the DSLR and video cameras and their respective chargers. 

**Please ignore the window behind the TV. It's an eyesore, and the placement was NOT intentional, but I had run out of viable options**

The hubby's P90x and Insanity sets sit stacked to the left, and a little bin is the catchall for the extra game controllers, and the girls various portable electronics like the DS and iPod touches (once I find them).

The lower drawer separates the family/kids' games from Mister Dylan's more mature games.  I've tossed the girls' games containers and slipped them in sleeves to save space but I've kept the inserts. Dylan refuses to get rid of his cases because he continuously rotates his collection, reselling old games he's tired of or beaten for new ones.

So there is my media center work-in-progress.  Perhaps I will post an update once I get my jumble of books to look aesthetically pleasing in my bookcases.

And just to demonstrate how the same organizational methods can be applied to any style of home's a peek at my favorite sister's media center organization efforts:

Looking at this, you would never think, "Oh, this is where she keeps her DVD's!"
Isn't it beautiful?
Oh, and she made that piece of art in the back!

These CD storage boxes were purchased on the cheap from Walmart!

The index tabs keeps everything in its proper place!

Don't you just lurve it??? To see more of her lovely home renovation and decorating efforts, check her out here:

Until next time!