Douching the Kitchen

I got a little overwhelmed with everything I wanted to do in this big crazy life. So, of course, I did nothing. I freaked out about money and that was about it.

I finally got some perspective and went all laser focused on my kitchen. Amazingly, a Saturday of focus and the counters were clear, the dishes were done, the trash was taken out, the refrigerator was empty and the table was cleared off and we could eat together.

I learned something sucky. If I slack off for two days in a row, the kitchen goes back to looking like a trash heap again. Rather disheartening to have to do it Every! Day! Like a clockwork routine.

My reaction was about like this, without the delight of Fancy Feast.

At least this time, I only had a few days of damage to deal with, instead of long term neglect.

I’ve been saving things to reuse or recycle or compost (newspapers, no, I don’t have piles of food sitting around) – I have accepted that right now, that’s not going to happen. Yesterday, the newspapers went in the trash. Today the jars and the plastic will come out of the cabinets, because I’m over it. My kitchen isn’t a landfill, and I need the space for better things.

Also to purge? All those recipes pulled from magazines. Years of pages. Those are hitting the trash can today. I’m done with the collecting of things that I might do, I’m gonna try being busy actually doing things.

my smaller home paying off debt

Flat Broke Would Be A Step Up

This is an honest post about finances.

If that makes you uncomfortable, then please click away now.

I am sitting in a Manhattan hotel room, 36 floors above the city, views of commerce and taxis and churches out the enormous windows.

I have come to the end of the BlogHer 2012 conference, which I have known all summer was the end of my spending.

What I did not know, was that I was going to be trying to casually (casual on the outside, a little frantic on the inside) swap funds from my checking account to pay down the my credit card balance enough so that the hotel charge won’t go over my credit limit.

I didn’t KNOW that I would look at my checking account and go “huh, 300 dollars from now till payday – no cushion, no extra, no credit card space for anything extra and mostly no groceries at home”.

I had PLANNED to leave Manhattan today and begin paying everything off. I just didn’t know I was actually going to be sitting on the edge of nothing – like my own financial rock bottom.

I’m not whining, I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m not saying I’m not going to enjoy every moment of wearing my Jimmy Choos that I chose to buy as my NYC souvenir.

I’m frankly feeling shame right now over the screeching halt of WOW I CAN HAZ NO MONNIES. I can either keep that in, or I can let that out.

Hi, friends. My name is Dawn. I built a new life and now I’m going to be paying the bills on it.

I now have a specific goal for this little home blog of mine. Once a week, for three weeks a month, I will show you something in my house I have done to make it better and make it mine. That fourth week, I will tell you what I have done to pay it off.

Frankly, I have everything I need. It’s time for me to readjust my wants and focus on all I have. I don’t want to feel poor, I want to learn to appreciate and take care of what I already have.

I aspire to be flat broke.


The Kitchen – Before and After

bedroom laundry

Starting from Scratch – Laundry

In a modification of what my Carrie told me to do to boot out of Survival Mode, I started with a project I could see.

Mount Laundry.
Clean Pile

(photo by Lotus Carroll, click photo for original)

One load at a time – in the washer, in the dryer, put away.


(I have to do it this way, because if I get everything clean before I get anything put away, then I get tired and it all lands on the floor, becoming dirty and messy and then I’m back where I started.)

(Also, at this stage, my definition of “put away” is pretty loose. On a shelf or on a hanger with 15 other things = “put away” – This is not a time to get bogged down in details, peeps.)

My shoes? Totally in a pile in the closet, but they are IN THE CLOSET! #MoralVictory!

Next up is the bedding.

How about you? What’s your laundry situation looking like today?

my smaller home

Survival Mode

It's You I'll Find, Like A Ghost In My MindSo I’ve realized that I’ve been in survival mode since Thanksgiving time. I’ve been battered by germs and sick and cruddy. I’ve done some projects around the homestead but now I’m left with an exploded home and I have to start doing something about it. At least I want to know that on the days I have some energy left over when I walk in the door what I’m going to do with that energy.

Tell me. If you were starting from scratch with homekeeping, where would you start?

(photo by Lotus Carroll, click photo for original)

bedroom my smaller home

Bedroom Redecorated

It began with a basic bedroom.


It morphed into a bedroom with a paint job (Sherwin Williams paint, some patience with some paint tape, and learning that measuring for stripes after a vicodin and while pissed at the best friend/not the boyfriend isn’t always a first try success.) Window coverings from JCPenney and are on every window in the house.


It further morphed into me putting down the entire hardwood floor with a little assistance from my 4 year old partner in crime.


And I will now work on cleaning my closet while singing I am Woman Hear me ROAR.


A Modified FlyLady

Once upon a time I was a hard core FlyLady follower. Then I tired of Purple Puddles and taking care of anything in general and quit.

Now that I’m determined to make a home, I’m back on the plan. With some modifications.

1. I cleaned my sink. Because I like a clean sink.

Closeup Sink

Wide Shot Sink

2. I tossed some crap in the trash from the kitchen. Because I don’t like crap. I do have a junk drawer.

3. I organized the cabinets (Half of my cabinets are empty so this was easier than usual.)

4. I cleaned the counters and the front of the cabinets.

5. I swept the cat hair puffs off the floor.

6. I threw out old food.

living room my smaller home

Brand New Fireplace

Well. Not really. But two coats of paint and I went from this

To this

kitchen my smaller home

Planning a Smaller Kitchen

My kitchen is ticking along. Currently in a state of disaster, but I know it will come together. I’m fully taking advantage of not actually having to live in this smaller home yet, I like having my little hobby home, so to speak.

I am picturing how this kitchen will come together. White cabinets, laminate floors, the antique wood table from my family – with all the extra leaves in it, to make room for the family and the heathens’ friends.

I see cabinets and drawers not overflowing with stuff I don’t need. I have this ideal of not bringing anything into the house I don’t love.

I yanked out the pantry I didn’t like (too deep, shelves were already warped, took up more room than I was happy with) and instantly opened the feel of the kitchen. Someday there will be a built in butcher block desk area to match my someday butcher block countertops.

I see this workplace as taking the place of an entire office room. Taking advantage of a corner of my world in this smaller home.

I see a pantry cabinet full of ingredients to help nourish us and keep us healthy. Or more to the point, get us healthy again. The dude and I are trending toward truly fat, I’d rather cook for us, but man things in wrappers covered in cheese are yummy.

I could work on this kitchen forever, but I already have the sense of when this first stage will be “done”, when I find my “enough” and will have the heart of this smaller home beating and ready to let me branch out into the rooms.

kitchen my smaller home

The Original Smaller Kitchen

We lost my beautiful grandma on the 16th of January 2011.

She lived 97 years. She was a walking ad for Oil of Olay. (If the Olay people would like to hook me up, that would be fantastic. Just sayin’)

Grandma and Grandpa owned a funeral home and lived in the apartment above it. When they retired they moved all the way across the street into a house. The only time any of us had ever been back in there was for Grandpa’s funeral in 1991.

My cousin arranged for us to be able to go back into that original home the house before Grandma’s funeral. Everything was smaller than we remembered, but it was the kitchen that brought the most memories.

In the corner was where Grandpa kept the “medicine” he gave us before bed at night. (aka one piece of candy corn). The countertop is where the noodles were rolled out, the TINY stove cooked the giant pots of noodles and mashed potatoes. Nothing decorative or fancy or pretty cabinet pulls. The women washed and dried all the dishes in there (hey, all the men were on the roof in the snow and wind adjusting the TV antenna, the kitchen was at least warm.) The smoke detector was on the outside of that wall – and when it went off, dinner was done.

We stood together looking in that tiny space, I remembered the warm security of a home full of yummy smells, crammed with toys, overflowing with people and joy and love.

Whether or not those times were ACTUALLY perfect isn’t the point, the memories are definitely perfect.

That kitchen was teeny and full of love. The bar is set high for my own little smaller home.