3 top tips for getting organized in 2017, plus one bonus tip!

It’s that sad, cold week between Christmas and New Year’s, and you know what means:

  • The women’s magazines at the grocery store have ceased featuring “65 Fabulous Cookie Recipes” and switched over to “Lose 65 Ugly Holiday Pounds Fast!”
  • Every child between the ages of 2 and 23 has had at least one post-Christmas behavioral meltdown.
  • You are being encouraged to “get organized,” or more optimistically, to “conquer clutter.”

So given all the post- holiday hubbub, I thought you would appreciate a few more tips on getting organized for the new year. Let’s take a look around my house right now to see how my top 3 organizing tips are working out!

Tip 1: Maximize Available Flat Surfaces 

Here we have the largest “available flat surfaces” in our tiny 2nd bedroom. We use this room for the litter box station, Greg’s computer room, my dressing room, and craft supply storage. Organizational experts will claim that this room has too many functions but hey, it’s only like 7×7 feet so it’s honestly too small to be an actual bedroom. You can see that I have stacked items (albeit somewhat precariously) on every inch of surface so as to make the most of this prime storage real estate. These surfaces are my “I’ll put it here so I don’t forget where I put it” spaces.

Get Organized! | Hazel and Verdie

Get Organized! | Hazel and Verdie

 

Tip 2: Keep ‘Like Items’ Together

This is the “closet” in our larger bedroom (which is 12×9 – hey room for a bed!). This is the top shelf, which I obviously cannot reach because I’m only 5’2″ – but these are all bedding items so it illustrates the principle perfectly.

Get Organized! | Hazel and Verdie

Same for the floor of the same closet – see? All bedding! Except for the um… amplifier… which gets used on Karaoke Fridays out in the living room. There are also some shoes, an air freshener and a zippered travel tote bag here… not technically bedding, but I’ll sleep with them if that will make you feel better about this tip.

Get Organized! | Hazel and Verdie

 

Tip 3: Don’t Be Afraid to Store Stuff in Unexpected Places

I’ve actually heard of people who store extra spoons in their night stand, because they have sooo much tableware and very little night standy stuff. I mean, a drawer is a drawer, right?  In my house, this principle manifests itself as a major furniture painting project stashed in the living room. In my defense, it is cold here in Iowa at this time of year so doing the project outside is just not an option. Dishes on the ottoman? Don’t judge. They are going into the antique cabinet as soon as I move the furniture painting project out of the way. That blue box is actually a storage tote/tub. It’s going to be for Christmas decorations, but I am not ready to take those down yet. But I do have their storage tub standing by for when the day finally comes. It does triple-duty here as a decorative accent, flat surface, and tripping hazard.

Get Organized! | Hazel and Verdie

 

And finally, a bonus Tip 4: Do NOT Listen to Me

I can spend all day playing Keep Toss or Donate with my stuff, but it does no good. I can GET organized, but I can’t STAY that way. I have been known to actually throw away really important things in the spirit of “getting organized.” I mean it. The car title. My now-ex-husband’s wallet. The IRS Refund Check.

Come to think of it, you shouldn’t be taking advice from me on this topic at all… ever. The sad part is, I’m much better at getting organized than I am at losing 65 ugly pounds, so this was really my best bet as far as contributing to your annual Fresh Start. You. Are. Welcome!

More soon,

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Booth news – we’re now exclusively at The Picker Knows

Whew! Went through a rather long spell there of some malfunctioning on the blog, which made it very difficult to post… pretty much missed the entire Christmas season of posting, but I will be sharing a few of my decorations and such albeit after the lin. Anyway, things are getting back to almost-normal now, so thought I would begin to get caught up on posting!

First up, here’s the latest news from the world of antique booths. In the past few months, we closed two of the three booths that we had – Memory Lane, and Brass Armadillo. Although I loved both of these stores on a personal level, from a business standpoint we just were not getting “the vibe” and so were not making much money. We have been at this now for just over a year and I feel we have learned a lot… but not enough to keep spending money on rent that we couldn’t earn back. Perhaps we’ll grow back into multiple booths one day, but by simplifying and condensing our efforts down to one booth at The Picker Knows, we are able to really focus on figuring out what works as far as a mix of inventory – and the store is close to home so it’s easy to run over there and do some fluffing or restocking whenever it’s needed.

Booth 211 at The Picker Knows

Speaking of inventory, we also made a decision recently to refocus a bit and stock more furniture. This has proven to be quite successful, as we take advantage of several resources for acquiring pieces inexpensively and then flipping them  – either making some minor repairs, or just giving each piece a quick clean-up before putting it in the booth. We try to have a mix of “real antiques” at higher (for us) price points vs. more inexpensive pieces that are suitable for the furniture painters who are out there seeking their next project. You might notice from the photos that yes, we have indeed moved into a larger booth at PK – and we have been “in the black” every month at this store, so we’re quite happy there for now.

Booth furniture | Hazel & Verdie

Booth furniture | Hazel & VerdieBooth furniture | Hazel & Verdie

Booth furniture | Hazel & Verdie

1940's vanity | Hazel and Verdie

We still have a few interesting “smalls” in the booth, and of course for the past month or so we’ve had quite a few vintage Christmas items. We’re on track to have our best month ever at The Picker Knows in December, and we’ll be using our funds to make sure we’re well-stocked as Tax Refund Season gets underway at the end of January.

Vintage Cookie Jar | Hazel and VerdieVintage Cookie Jar | Hazel and Verdie

Christmas Ribbon dinnerware | Hazel and Verdie

If you are local, or visiting in the Des Moines area, please come see us! We are booth #211 at The Picker Knows, 1208 Grand Ave. in West Des Moines. We’ll be having a “green dot” sale with some very good markdowns, from December 26-31.

More soon,

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Vintage Treasure Tuesday #3

Today’s featured oddity on Vintage Treasure Tuesday is a bee smoker. Now personally I have never tried smoking, bee or otherwise, but even at Expert Level Zero I can tell you that smoking bees sounds like a very bad idea. I mean, how would you even light one?

(rim shot)

Bee Smoker | Hazel & Verdie's
But seriously folks, beekeepers have apparently been smoking bees for thousands of years so that the bees don’t attack when the beekeeper disturbs the hive. The reason smoke calms the bees is (insert authoritative-sounding sciencey stuff here).

Bee Smoker | Hazel & Verdie's

 

While bee smokers in various forms have therefore been used for a few millennia (can you imagine the trial and error involved in figuring out what calms a hive of stinging insects?), the design of the one Greg purchased at the Sparks, KS flea market has been used – and largely unchanged – since its development in the late 1800’s by Moses Quinby. As the first commercial beekeeper in the U.S., Quinby (affectionately known to family and friends as “The Other Moses”) operated more than 1,500 hives in New York and designed the modern bee smoker with a bellows to force the smoke out of the container.

Bee Smoker | Hazel & Verdie's

Bee Smoker | Hazel & Verdie's

 

Fuels used in the bee smoker would be natural materials such as pine needles or rotten wood. (Remember: modern chemicals do not calm bees – they poison them. And a poisoned bee, is a pissed off bee. Do not use charcoal briquettes in your bee smoker unless you want Moses Quinby to rise from the dead and release pissed off bees in your bedroom!)

I do love finding these old vintage tools, and this was one of several great “picks” we found down in Sparks.

More soon,

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When a (non) plan comes together – vintage shabby traditional Cape Cod-ish coat rack

It seems like a lot of our projects take a long time to complete. But this isn’t because they are particularly difficult – sometimes we are just unmotivated, sometimes it’s almost a hundred degrees out for weeks on end and it’s just too hot out in the garage/workshop. Sometimes, a piece just has to sit there unfinished until the right element comes along to finish it. And sometimes you buy a thing and you don’t really know what it’s going to become, but it’s just too interesting and too full of vintage mojo to pass it up.

Well today I’m happy to share a project that encompasses – and overcomes – all of these obstacles. It began for us as one of those random auction purchases, basically an old and well-used chunk of wood that we surmised came off an antique dresser. It’s about 40 inches wide, very heavy, has some damage, and like other pieces we’ve purchased came with free spider egg sacs. (Score!!)  True to form, I forgot to take an actual “before” picture, but I did take one shortly after I started painting it.

Coat Rack Project | Hazel & Verdie's

Coat Rack Project | Hazel & Verdie's

Fun side note: it took me several weeks to decide to paint it… and at the time I started, I had no idea what I was going to make out of it. But I knew it had to be painted.

Coat Rack Project | Hazel & Verdie's

Coat Rack Project | Hazel & Verdie's

Coat Rack Project | Hazel & Verdie's

Eventually I thought it would make a great wall-mounted coat rack, so I rounded up some just-right-rusty cast iron coat hooks and…

Rutledge hooks and stars | Hazel & Verdie
… well, hung onto them for several more weeks. I knew hooks would look great across the lower portion of the piece, but that left a large empty space under the arched portion. Thought about finding a mirror to fit, or painting some roses on it, but just couldn’t decide. Then, a great piece came long at a flea market.

Coat Rack Project | Hazel & Verdie's

Can you tell – it’s a cast-iron eagle, again no actual “before” picture but the unpainted backside of it shows the original color.

I painted the eagle with a custom-mixed mint-green chalk paint. Once the green was dry, I dry-brushed white chalk paint over him, creating (hopefully) a time-worn effect.

Coat Rack Project | Hazel & Verdie's

Coat Rack Project | Hazel & Verdie's

Coat Rack Project | Hazel & Verdie's

I sealed the bird with some spray-on satin-finish polyurethane, and attached him to the board with small screws I had saved off some hinges. Here it is finished, resting on a small patio table.

Coat Rack Project | Hazel & Verdie's

 

And here it is finished, resting on a box in the dining room. It’s kind of hard to get a good picture.

Coat Rack Project | Hazel & Verdie's
Now perhaps the biggest challenge of the whole project: how to hang it on the wall. Since I’m planning to sell this piece, I decided not to commit to a hanging method. Instead, I’m going to keep the sale price down for my buyer and simply include a recommendation for a French Cleat, which they can acquire on their own… or make a different call as to how to keep it on the wall.

I think this thing turned out really neat, given that I had essentially no plan. I almost feel like this mixture of elements has combined to create a new design style: Beachy Federalist, anyone? (Hey, George Washington had to hang his swim trunks SOMEWHERE, right?)

More soon,

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Vintage Treasure Tuesday #2

Up next in our “Vintage Treasure Tuesday” series is this interesting piece I acquired at the What Cheer Flea Market in early August. It’s a chunk of wood with a handle on one side and a design carved on the bottom, and it was used to print the design onto fabric or possibly wallpaper.

Fabric printing block | Hazel & Verdie's

Fabric printing block | Hazel & Verdie's
I’ve personally never seen anything like this (unless you count the potato printing block I saw in an issue of Pack O’Fun and always wanted to make but my mother would never approve because she didn’t need paint-covered potatoes or something).

This primitive printing technique goes back thousands of years, although it’s certainly more likely this block is from the 1800’s. I love finding items like this because it helps me understand that so many things we take for granted – tasks that are automated today – were once done painstakingly by hand… in some cases with a potato.

More soon,

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