“Studio Style” (with an office)

After spending a few months in my new apartment, I found that more & more often, I wished that I was sleeping in the living room (for the view) and working in the bedroom (for the lighting and space.) A few days ago, I decided that layout was worth trying out, because hey, at worst I have to move it all back. So I spent the better part of Friday night and Saturday getting all the furniture switched around, finding new homes for random little objects I hadn’t thought about, and getting everything hooked back up again. Final result? Absolutely awesome.

The tall headboard makes a natural room divider in the living room, turning the front half into a cozy little area to curl up and watch TV or read a book:

"Studio Style" (with an office)

That nice tall headboard is also great for blocking window reflections from the TV at night.

In the back half of the living room, there’s a fantastic view of the city skyline, a little cart for storage, and my cabinet full of nail polish just waiting for the next manicure:

"Studio Style" (with an office)

But the REAL brilliance of this plan is in the office. The smaller windows mean better control over glare, but still let in plenty of natural light. The larger space means better placement for plenty of lamps for proper indoor lighting, as well. And because the room is farther back off the street, what was loud traffic and sirens and tour buses in the living room is nothing more than a muted hum in here. Moving the shelves of CDs and DVDs in frees up space in the living room, without over crowding the office.

"Studio Style" (with an office)

(OK, not QUITE that many lamps – there are a couple extra here that still need a home, along with a few boxes!)

And at the very back of the office is a small dressing area with the dresser, closet, and mirrors, because I’m not COMPLETELY crazy so I made good use of the spacious closet.

Building a Molger pantry shelf – an Ikea Hack

There is a very odd, tiny closet in my apartment hallway which doesn’t seem to have a purpose. The closet is almost 40” wide, which would be great except that the opening is only 25” across, and it’s only 7.5” deep! Even building management staff pretty much just shrug their shoulders when asked about this closet. Fortunately, I realized when I was planning my space before moving in that this weird little closet is close enough to the kitchen to be used as a pantry! Unfortunately, the extremely shallow depth meant that finding appropriate shelves was difficult, to say the least.

Shortly after moving in, I stuck a cheap set of CD shelves in the pantry closet, in the interest of getting unpacked. This solution was semi-functional at best, due to the short height of the shelves, the lack of clearance between them, and the bi-fold door:

Kitchen/Pantry Project - Pantry Before

That’s just. . . .ugh. Let’s not talk about that any more, I’ll have nightmares.

After I finished unpacking and got settled into the new apartment, I continued my search for better shelves for the pantry closet. Too short, too tall, too wide, not wide enough. . . .I felt like Goldilocks in search of a bowl of porridge. Throughout months of searching, I kept circling back to the Molger shelving series at Ikea – it was the right width and depth, it was made from real wood, and it came in a nice light birch finish. The problem was, the only options that fit were a 3-shelf hanging wall shelf (hanging a shelf full of heavy canned and dry goods just didn’t seem like a good idea, especially considering my “home improvement” skills) or an etagere, which was floor-standing and had 4 shelves on top, but no bottom shelves (thus wasting half the height of the shelf unit.) And of course, the wall shelf did not fit inside the un-shelved section of the tall shelf, so I couldn’t just get them both and use them together. That is, until I finally had a brilliant realization:

Both shelf units use the same horizontal shelves. I could just drill holes in the legs of the tall shelf, and attach the shelves of the hanging wall shelf (sans uprights) in the lower section! It’s GENIUS!!!

So, when August rolled around, it was time for another monthly “room project” and I decided that meant it was time to pick the kitchen/pantry for the monthly project, and get those shelves built. Of course it turned out my local Ikea didn’t have the tall shelf in stock, hadn’t in a long time, and had no ETA for when (or if) it might show up. Luckily, both shelving units were for sale on the Ikea web site, and the cost of shipping was about the same as the cost of any impulse purchases from wandering through the store anyway, so I went ahead and ordered them.

Once the shelves were delivered (amazingly, in only about a week) it was time to get building and get that pantry sorted out!

One Molger wall shelf (half height,) and one Molger Open Storage shelf (full height) – they do indeed use the same horizontal shelves. From the wall shelf, 2 of the shelves are attached with screws all the way through the uprights, and 1 shelf attaches with wooden pegs set halfway into the uprights:

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Tools required: cordless drill, and 2 drill bits. 1 size for the shelves which are screwed in, and a larger size for the shelves which are attached with wooden pegs:

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Picking drill bit sizes was easy, I just matched them to the holes in the uprights from the wall shelf, to ensure I had the proper size for each shelf type:

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Once I had the drill bits selected, I used the uprights from the wall shelf as the template to mark the new holes for the tall uprights – since the short uprights wouldn’t be used, I drilled the middle holes (for the wooden pegs) the rest of the way through in order to make marking easy. Then laid the tall uprights side-by-side, with the wall shelf uprights placed in position on the lower half:

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To mark each spot, I just used a smaller drill bit and buzzed through the center of each hole, leaving a faint indent in the wood:

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Then very carefully drilled all the new holes – I found it best to start slowly so the finish didn’t crack:

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Once the holes were drilled, I inserted the wooden pegs, making sure they were all deep enough (some weren’t, so I had to drill a bit more.) My assistant came over to make sure I had done this properly:

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With everything drilled properly, it was time to start adding shelves! Sadly, Ikea used non-standard screws for these shelving units, so the hex bit I normally use with my electric screwdriver didn’t fit, and I was reduced to using their included Allen key instead. I found that the easiest way to screw the shelves on was to stand them on end and lay the first upright across the top of the 4 shelves held by screws:

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Then turn the whole thing over and put in the 3 shelves held by wooden pegs:

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And lay the 2nd upright across the top. To line everything up, I put in all the wooden pegs, then put all the screws through until they just reached each shelf, then went back and tightened them all down:

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Stand it all up, and it’s a lovely, sturdy shelf all ready for pantry use, complete with one extra-high section for tall bottles:

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Except. . . . . it turns out that unlike the previous shelf, this one doesn’t quite fit through the closet opening because the dratted bi-fold door is in the way:

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Solution: curse profusely at the door, spend an hour and a few nicked fingers trying to get the door off because the frame clearance is so tight it doesn’t just lift out like it should. Once the door is removed, slide the shelf into the pantry. . . .Oooooorrrrrrrrrr NOT, because apparently the shelf is still 3/4 inch too wide to fit:

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Curse a little bit more, then give up and take one upright off the shelf, slide it into the closet, and re-attach the upright (not an easy thing to do in a tight space like that.) Then attach the feet and level the shelf:

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And fill it up with pantry goods! Just look how pretty it looks now, with plenty of shelving space for everything, and no awful bi-fold door to block half the space:

Kitchen/Pantry Project - Pantry After

At some point I will hang a curtain across the pantry opening, but for now I’m just enjoying the sight of that wonderful, freshly organized space.

Things You Find When You Get Lost

On a recent trip to a local Japanese garden, I got lost when trying to find my way out. (This happens about every other trip there.) In the process of searching for the path back to the exit, I happened upon this busy bee working away on these purple flowers. I was nowhere near any garden spot I’d planned to be, and if I hadn’t gotten lost, I would have completely missed this little moment where I could just pause and spend a few minutes watching nature do what it does.

Conquering the under-sink storage!

I ran into an issue last week that resulted in switching my face care from “lazy” (aka, I might occasionally swipe a makeup remover wipe over my eyes) to “planned” (aka, nightly washcloth + cleanser.) Of course, this switch meant I actually needed to HAVE wash cloths, which I didn’t really (a couple, scattered around, but not enough quantity or quality for daily face care.) I picked up a couple packs of bulk wash cloths from a housewares store, only to come home and find out that thanks to my lack of proper bathroom organization, I didn’t really have a good place to put them. Which meant they ended up stuffed in a bin, balanced precariously on top of a bunch of crap stacked under the sink, and every time I had to open that cabinet I just cringed. That was just NOT a good start to a new habit, so I did some digging online and found that Target sells some nice little drawer-style bins that would probably fit, although they very unhelpfully did NOT have the measurements posted online.

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth (aka, a trip to Target where they were out of both the bins I needed, AND the pizza I wanted for lunch) I managed to acquire the proper bins. After striking out at Target, and not wanting to drive 15 miles out of the way to go to the other Target in the scary section of town (who had “limited stock” anyway) on a whim I decided to try Fred Meyer, where I found not only the bins (on sale, SCORE) but also some nail polish I’ve been wanting and wasn’t expecting to find until August (also on sale, DOUBLE-SCORE!)

So I brought my awesome new bins home (which are actually plastic drawers, not bins, so they’re easier to get stuff in/out of, plus have solid tops) and discovered I forgot to account for the under-sink pipe when measuring for the bins. Oops! But, after a little contemplation, this actually works out in my favor! So I put the taller bin in, loaded it up neatly with a bunch of stuff that had been piled in a not-very-appropriate bin. Then dropped the shorter bin in next to the other one (instead of on top of it as originally planned) and loaded it with the hot water bottle, cotton balls, and other “health/beauty” stuff that had just been piled up under there without a real home. Because both bins have solid tops, there’s plenty of space to stack the spare toilet paper, kleenex boxes, salad spinner (for washing bras) and laundry soap on top of them, and it all looks so much neater! Yay!

Then I turned around, and realized I’d forgotten the one thing that started the whole under-sink drama: the bin of wash cloths for my new face care regimen. Drat. More contemplation. . . And I decided that the original idea was to have them in a drawer, and I would still prefer that, and my under-sink organization was now PERFECT and I didn’t want to mess with it (plus I didn’t really like that bin.) So I grabbed a box, gritted my teeth, scrunched my eyes shut, and emptied ALL the little travel-sized bottles of lotion & body wash and shampoo and who knows what else that I keep “for guests” out of the 3rd drawer. I did keep the few travel-size of the face scrub, body wash, and lotion I actually use, they went into the bottom drawer with the “real” spares (of which I’m allowed no more than 2 bottles per product, preferably 1.) Wiped out the drawer, waited for it to dry. . . .and it fits the row of folded washcloths PERFECTLY! Hooray!!!

And now my bathroom cabinets & drawers are completely, wonderfully organized from end to end – bins where I need them, stuff sorted into reasonable sections, things I use easy to grab as I need them. . . 2 more tiny boxes for the counter top, and I think I will actually be done with the bathroom! (Except for that lovely beautiful ridiculously expensive shelf from Pottery Barn, which I still want and actually also have a real USE for. But that will have to wait for an excellent sale.)

Fireworks on the 4th of July

Ahh, the 4th of July, Independence Day here in the US. Sometimes referred to as “National Explosives Day” due to the amount of things blowing up after dark. This year I had the chance to spend the holiday with some family I don’t get to see very often, and as an extra bonus there was a professional, semi-private fireworks display scheduled right in front of their house. So I packed up the tripod and the ultra-wide lens and spent 25 minutes enjoying some of the best fireworks I’ve ever seen.

Here are my favorite photos from the night:

27/52 B-side - Red, White, and Blue Celebration

 

Fireworks in Quartermaster Harbor

 

Fireworks in Quartermaster Harbor

 

Fireworks in Quartermaster Harbor

 

Fireworks in Quartermaster Harbor

 

Fireworks in Quartermaster Harbor

 

And my very favorite from the evening, this doesn’t even begin to show how beautiful it was to watch the fireworks rain all the way down to the water in the harbor:

27/52 - Rain of Fire

Cabinet of Color



Cabinet of Color, originally uploaded by Meghan (Rambling On. . . ).

I believe the only appropriate phrase here is: MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! *rubs hands together with an evil grin*

My new nail polish storage solution is an Ikea Besta cabinet (doors TBAttachedLater) with Target “expandable 3-tier shelves” (aka, spice racks) on the top two shelves. Once I get the doors on the front, this will be a fantastic cool, dry, no direct sunlight storage for my (admittedly insane) nail polish collection. Oh, plus a couple bins on the bottom for random things like files, dotting tools, tin foil, sponges, etc.

Oh, and the best part is. . . . there’s plenty of room for more polish! :D

Shipping FAIL



Shipping FAIL, originally uploaded by Meghan (Rambling On. . . ).

In my recently resumed nail polish obsession, I was delighted to find that an online retailer (*cough* drugstore.com *cough*) had some harder-to-find shades from one of my favorite brands on sale. So I ordered a few (okay, 6) and was delighted to receive a UPS delivery notification today. My delight turned to dismay the minute I heard the box rattle as I picked it up, followed by horror when I opened the box to find that one of the bottles had, indeed, exploded all over the inside of the box and the other bottles. That’s right folks, they tossed 6 glass bottles loose in a box, topped it with a tiny little air pack, and chucked it into the UPS system to meet it’s fate.

Fortunately a quick call to Customer Service has a replacement order on the way, after they explain to their shipping department how to properly pack glass items for shipment!
Now I just have to figure out how to dispose of a box full of glass shards covered in “hazardous waste.” Sigh.

I suppose at least it wasn’t the red polish that exploded? I can’t decide if that would have been better or worse than the brown. Sigh.

(Amazingly, the outside of the box is almost completely pristine, with no hint of the horrors lurking inside.)

Update – A replacement order shipped out early the next day (too quickly for my peace of mind. . . ) and sure enough, 6+ days later I got another box filled with loose bottles of polish and a flat air pack. No bubble wrap, no padding, nothing. Apparently their east coast warehouse can’t learn from their mistakes. AMAZINGLY, this shipment actually survived the UPS system intact, despite the lack of packing, so at least now I have my pretty polish.

Sausage Risotto with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

You can find varying risotto recipes all over the web, running the gamut from vegetarian to seasonal to side dish to meat-based, and with just about every level of complexity to go with them. Personally, I prefer a quick and simple risotto, and after a little tweaking this mix of Chicken Apple sausage, kalamata olives, and sun-dried tomatoes has become my favorite. It’s a fairly quick and easy one-pot recipe, requiring anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on just how fast you prep all the ingredients.  Follow along with the pictures for a photographic tutorial, or just skip to the end for the 1-2-3 steps!

 

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 oz sausage, uncooked and removed from casings (I prefer an Italian-seasoned Chicken Apple sausage)
  • 1.5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Touch of pepper
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Italian Arborio rice
  • 2 sections sun-dried tomato (about 1 whole tomato) finely chopped, reserve about 1 tsp liquid for the risotto
  • 8 kalamata olives, finely chopped
  • 20 oz chicken broth (approximately – anywhere from 16-22 oz depending on your preference)
  • 1 tsp. dried basil leaves, if desired
  • 1/2 cup (heaping) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. butter

First up, gather all your ingredients together. This is not a recipe where you can stop and run to the store halfway through when you discover you’re out of something!

Making Sausage Risotto with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

 

Next, prep all those ingredients you just gathered. Measure the dry ingredients, chop the olives & tomatoes, remove the sausage from their casings, and start your broth heating in a saucepan.

Making Sausage Risotto with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

In heavy saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Add sausage, stir until browned, then cook thoroughly

Making Sausage Risotto with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

 

Once the sausage is cooked through, add the risotto and tomatoes to the pan, and stir before adding liquid

Making Sausage Risotto with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

 

As the edges of the rice begin to turn clear, start adding the warm broth, about 1 cup at a time. The first cup of broth will do a nice job de-glazing the sausage bits from the bottom of the pan, so stir well. 

Making Sausage Risotto with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

 

While the risotto cooks, let the broth simmer away a bit before adding the next cup. Repeat until the last cup of broth. 

Making Sausage Risotto with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

 

Add the chopped olives with the last cup of broth and stir well. 

Making Sausage Risotto with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

 

Once the last cup of broth has cooked away, add the  Parmesan, basil, and butter, mix them in well, then cover the risotto and let it stand for 5-10 minutes. 

Making Sausage Risotto with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes

 

Once the risotto is finished, serve up a bowl and enjoy it on the patio while watching the ferries load on a beautiful spring day! (Ferries and beautiful weather may not apply.)

Dinner on the Patio

 

Quick steps:

  1. In a small saucepan, heat chicken broth until just warm
  2. In heavy saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes until tender.
  4. Add sausage, stir until browned and cooked through
  5. Add rice and tomatoes, and stir to coat.
  6. Add 1 cup warm chicken broth, and cook until liquid is reduced, stirring frequently.
  7. Continue to add chicken broth to keep rice covered, stirring frequently.
  8. Add olives with the last cup of broth
  9. Add broth, stir, and cook for a total of about 25 minutes until rice is tender.
  10. Add basil, cheese, and butter just before serving and stir to melt.
  11. Cover pot and let stand 5 minutes off the heat.

Ferry Views

The patio on my new apartment overlooks the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the ferry terminal, among other things. So I’m sure I’ll be spending a lot of time just sitting and watching the ferries.

Evening From the Patio

And watching. . .

Catching an Evening Ferry

And watching. . . . . . .

Ferry Traffic