The upside of ants

Once again, we are late to post. Once again, there will likely be only one post this week.

It’s not that we don’t have things to say. To paraphrase an old favorite of mine:  So many blog posts, so little time.

(That applies to both the writing and the reading of them. I’ve been missing my favorite blogs to read lately, because I just haven’t been able to get to them.)

And it’s not that we don’t have projects to do. As with posts, the list of what we want to do is long.

Thanks to Jaye, I finally have a plan for that chair project I keep yammering about here, and last week I got a steal on some gorgeous fabric, so I’m just itching to get started.

This (sorta) Old Life:  spring cleaning fabric

I’ll be taking the fabric off the cushions you see in the background and making a pattern from them.

We still need to frame some of the art Cane picked up in his thrift store art splurge back in February, along with another new painting I found a few weeks ago. He wants to build some frames, but that will require some garage organization because the workbench has gotten out of control.

This (sorta) Old Life:  spring cleaning messy garage bench

I also want to paint the bookcase. (I know. Some of you love it orange. I have strong, sentimental reasons for loving the orange, too, but it’s time for a change. Another post I want to write.)

This (sorta) Old Life:  spring cleaning

And of course, there’s the on-going entry project–which I just realized we started back in October. Yes, October. Sigh.

How can such a small space take so much time? I’m really looking forward to the next phase, which is to paint the door. And we’ve bought the treads for the bottom set of stairs, and they need painting.

 This (sorta) Old Life: spring cleaning entry

But we didn’t do any of those want-to-do projects last weekend. Instead, we cleaned out the kitchen cupboards.

This (sorta) Old Life:  spring cleaning kitchen cupboard

This is what it looked like before I began. The bottom shelf is usually filled with bowls, but they were all in the dishwasher.

Truthfully, this has also been on my to-do list, but it was lower on my want-to-do list than any of the other projects on it. Unfortunately, a sure sign of spring around here is ants, and I woke up one morning last week to a kitchen counter crawling with them.

We waged quite an ant battle last spring/summer, finally conceding defeat and calling someone to come deal with them. Several visits and several hundred dollars later, we don’t think he did much for us. His stuff finally “worked” when the weather changed.

So, Cane said something along the lines of, “He just sprayed the same $h!t I can get at Home Depot for a lot less money” and went into battle mode on Saturday. When it becomes a contest between him and some frustrating antagonist, there’s no stopping him, so I just stepped out of the way.

Because we had to empty the cupboards to spray the ant stuff, I figured it was a great time to finally clean and purge them.

This (sorta) Old Life:  spring cleaning kitchen cupboard

This (sorta) Old Life:  spring cleaning kitchen

This overabundance of dinnerware is my own fault. About a year ago I started collecting plates and bowls for my collection of mismatched 70s dinnerware (which you can read about here). We love our funky plates–and the glasses I’ve also collected to complement them–but the collection as a whole isn’t working so swell for me right now.

In spite of the guiding principles I developed to help me make purchases, some pieces just don’t play well together. And, we’ve just got way too much of some stuff.

This (sorta) Old Life: spring cleaning kitchen

We definitely don’t need this many small bowls.

I’ve been wanting to weed this collection out and clear out the clutter in our cabinets.

We talk about getting rid of some of the upper cabinetry and putting in open shelving, but that’s only going to work if the shelves don’t have too much stuff on them.

This (sorta) Old Life: spring cleaning kitchen

These corner shelves are just so dumb. You can see that the left unit is only wide enough to fit two water glasses. The right side goes back to the wall, but you can see or reach anything further back than the door is wide. Functionally, it’s about three water glasses wide. We think some open shelves would work much better here.

I’ve got some good ideas of what I want to keep. Of all our things, I most love the plates with really bold, earthy-toned graphics. Like these:

This (sorta) Old Life: spring cleaning kitchen

These look really nice when they’re on the table together. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough of these for the number we need when all 3 kids are here–which happens every other week for 4 days. And (also unfortunately) these are the kind I have the hardest time finding.

Fortunately, I do have another option. Cane recently came into possession of an entire set of matching plates that used to be his. We both like these plates. They’re nothing fancy, but we like the lightness of them. And, this set comes complete with several serving pieces.

This (sorta) Old Life:  spring cleaning kitchen

A few bowls were in the dishwasher, but this is about all we have out now. Makes the cupboard so much nicer to use.

So, we’ve decided to use this set (plus a few favorite bowls) for the time being. I think the light pieces are just right for spring/summer, and I’m looking forward to something new (that we didn’t go out and buy new). While we’re using these, I can keep an eye out for more of the other ones I like most.

Of course, pulling stuff out of the main cabinet meant I needed another place to put some things. Which meant turning my eye to another long-delayed project:  Organizing our hall closet.

This (sorta) Old Life: spring cleaning hall closet

This closet is right outside of our kitchen, and it’s really a pretty horrible closet. The shelves are quite narrow, so not much fits on them. As you can see, it’s been functioning mostly as a catch-all for stuff that didn’t have any real place to go (gifts waiting to be given, fondue pots, cleaning supplies, vases, old dog treats, etc.)

And, in my own spring cleaning version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, cleaning that out meant looking at some of the other kitchen cabinets.

This (sorta) Old Life:  spring cleaning kitchen

Because–you know–(and I know you know!) cleaning/organizing/purging means re-thinking when and how you’re using everything. I needed a new place for some of the things displaced from the closet.

By the time I was done, I’d purged, reorganized, and cleaned 7 kitchen cabinets and the hall closet–all because we needed to clear out the cabinets for ant spray. And it was totally worth the time it took. Here’s the hall closet now:

This (sorta) Old Life:  spring cleaning closet

I also made two trips to Salvation Army to donate items–and didn’t come back with any other stuff. (Key, key point to making this all work.) Because I itemize tax deductions, I get money back for every item we give. All I need to do is make a list and attach it to the receipt.

This (sorta) Old Life:  spring cleaning

That felt GOOD. Better, probably, than it would have felt to do one of the projects on my want-to-do list. Which is, perhaps, why the universe makes ants and sends them to my home. Spring cleaning likely wouldn’t happen any other way. :-)

This (sorta) Old Life:  spring cleaning kitchen

 Now, if it would just send something my way that could give me time to write more posts… :-)

Hope you’ll tell us what you’ve been up to while we’ve been so busy with other things. Has the spring cleaning bug bit you yet?

(Because this project is absolutely what Jules had in mind when she started the William Morris Project, we’re linking to to it again this week. Hope you’ll click through to see how others are making their homes more beautiful/useful.)