Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Real Life: Monday, December 12, 2011

I know my posts have been few and far between this fall, but when I do write, I try my best to balance house projects, recipes and real life. Most recently I showed you the (finally) finished buffet and a few pictures of our dining room, now that it finally feels put together. And while I've got about two or three other things I am dying to show off, including our Christmas decorations, my quick-fix for a disheveled liquor cabinet and the "new" nightstands in our bedroom, life interrupted to tell me it's time for another "Real Life" moment.

Part 1 - The Beginning
Last Monday, December 12th, I woke up around 6am without an alarm (which is not something I make habit of) to a soreness in my neck that I've never felt before and such tenderness around my lower jaw that I couldn't open my mouth all the way. My husband was out of town for an extended weekend and my best friend was in town to keep me company. She was getting ready to leave that morning, and Jesse was arriving back in DC around lunchtime. I laid in bed wondering if I should call the chiropractor or doctor, when I realized that I was getting feverish chills. I grabbed the thermometer and when the screen read 99.9, I decided to call the doctor. As I started moving around, the pain lessened just enough to get me through breakfast and out the door. I drove Kelly up to Baltimore so she could catch her flight and then drove an hour back home as the pain started to return. I had an hour to nap until I had to pick Jesse up from a different airport (closer to home), so I laid on the couch for a quick nap. When my alarm went off, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Luckily, the airport that Jesse flew into was only 20 minutes away, so I rushed to get him and greeted him with, "I feel miserable! You have to drive home. I have a doctor's appointment at 2:00." When we arrived back at the house, I returned to the couch where I spent the next hour in misery. 2:00 couldn't come fast enough!

Part 2 - The Doctor's Office
I made Jesse leave early for the doctor's office, so we would be there right on time. Of course, the office is closed for lunch from 12:00 - 2:00, so it did us no good. Instead, I got stuck hiking it up the (outside) flight of stairs twice before they opened the doors. After what felt like an hour (but was probably only 10 minutes), they called my name. By this point, I was certain that I had the flu, and that I never wanted it again! Why did I skip my flu shot this year?! After just 5 minutes in the office, which included a thermometer reading of 101.3 and me telling the nurse that my neck hurt, we were summoned out of the office and over to the ER across the street. I remember the nurse saying something about neck aches and meningitis, but she was hopeful that it was just the flu. My nausea was through the roof at this point, so I couldn't imagine making another trip in the car to go to another waiting room, but we had no choice. Jesse dropped me off at the door (Thank God) and went to park the car. By the time he got inside I had signed in (and dropped the words meningitis and nausea to the lady at the desk) and found a seat in a corner, where I tried to close my eyes. The nausea kept getting worse and they decided that in my condition, I wasn't doing anything for their waiting room crowd. Once again, I was ushered through a hallway, only this time Jesse and I were left to wait on two hard, wooden chairs until they were ready to see me. I knew I looked pretty bad, but I didn't realize it was bad enough to remove me from other patients. I guess they didn't like the idea of someone getting sick in the waiting room.

Part 3 - ER
After what felt like another hour (again, probably only 10 minutes), the nurse took my vitals and immediately got me into a wheelchair and back to a room. Next thing I knew, the room was swirling with doctors and nurses who were asking me a billion questions, sticking me with an IV, and drawing blood. They told Jesse that we would start with the simple stuff and move forward from there. They checked me for the flu, along with an array of other illnesses/conditions. Every time they moved me, a wave of nausea took over and the world came to a halt. After none of those tests returned anything, I was sent over to radiology for a CT Scan of my neck and head. Nothing.

While it sounds like this all happened really fast, it was over the course of about 2 or 3 hours. With nothing coming up as a hit, I was handed two options. Option 1 - I could go home and see if I started to feel better in a few hours (in hopes that it was a virus). Option 2 - The doctor could do a lumbar puncture (aka spinal tap) to test me for meningitis. He initially held off on that test because there are several risks involved, but when I heard the option of going home, I decided that they would have to drag me out of that Emergency Room if they wanted me to leave. I forgot to mention that by this point the only "words" coming out of my mouth were either uh-huh (yes) or uh-uh (no). Jesse had to get my attention and ask if I wanted to go home ... uh-uh (no). So the next question was, "Do you want them to do the lumbar puncture?" ... "uh-huh." I'll spare you the details, but let me tell you that a spinal tap is one of the most painful procedures I've ever been through, and I've been through my fair share. While I wasn't exactly hoping for meningitis to be the cause of all my pain, I was desperate to find an answer.

Moments after extracting the sample of my spinal fluid, the results were in. The doctor rushed back into the room to let us know that from his visual inspection of the sample that I did, in fact, have bacterial meningitis. Once again, the room was swirling with doctors and nurses. There were more questions to be answered and antibiotics being given to me through the IV. From there, I'm pretty sure I blacked out (or maybe I just fell asleep), but the next thing I remembered I was arriving to my hospital room and being switched into the bed where I'd be spending the next several days.

clear liquids ... yum!

Part 4 - My Hospital Stay
Over the next few days, I was greeted by a few different doctors and several different nurses. I was told that I'd be staying until the end of the week, so I should settle in. Jesse also settled in and took the entire week off of work to stay by my bedside and take care of me (I've heard that I'm a little needy, so it was really nice to have him there). At my weakest point, he was holding my water cup while I drank, and by the end, he was there to offer sarcastic remarks and loving jabs, which I'm pretty sure was his way of telling me that I was doing a lot better. I was also very fortunate to have all of my friends and family texting, calling and sending me flowers throughout the week. Without everyone's thoughts, prayers and support, I'm sure my hospital stay would've seemed like an eternity.

a sampling of the flowers I received :)

The only crux of the whole thing was that the doctor still couldn't figure out how I got bacterial meningitis in the first place. Bacterial meningitis is more rare than viral meningitis, and apparently the worse of the two types to get, so they make every effort to make sure that other people are not impacted. After several appointments with the infectious disease specialist and an MRI, we found out that I contracted it from a lesion in my skull base (which we were already aware of) that was leaking spinal fluid (which we weren't aware of) and causing my body to fight back and start the infection.

I've never been so happy to take a shower!

Part 5 - Going Home
After hearing the news that this lesion was causing such difficulties, I was shocked to hear that they were still sending me home on Friday, but the doctors have a plan. At this point, I am spending the next 2-3 weeks on bed rest, receiving IV antibiotics twice a day from the comfort of my couch. Once I am done with treatment, they will switch me to an oral antibiotic for a week before sending me back to John's Hopkins so they can begin working on the lesion. I'm not sure what the final plan is yet, but I'm hoping that they'll spend a portion of the next few weeks figuring it out.

All of the medicine for my home care

Part 6 - Bed Rest

When all of this started, my mom knew that she had to get out here. I'm very fortunate that she arrived on Saturday, so she could be here to help Jesse with my home care. Jesse's been on nursing duties, responsible for administering my medicine, while my mom has taken over my usual duties of cooking and laundry. She definitely has the upper-hand in the kitchen, so it's nice to have a full week of her wonderful meals. We've already gotten to enjoy homemade chicken and rice casserole, pot roast with mashed potatoes and glazed carrots, and beef vegetable soup. Today she made the most wonderful apple crumble muffins, and tonight she's preparing pork medallions with stuffing!

I feel so fortunate and spoiled to have her here with me while I go through this. The best and worst part is that she'll be staying through Christmas. I say best and worst because I couldn't be happier to have her spend Christmas with us, but worst because it means that I am too sick to travel to see the rest of my family and that she won't be able to spend Christmas with my dad, sisters and 11 nieces/nephews. When we were talking today, she said that this year is the first time she and my dad have spent Christmas apart in their 39 years of marriage. I am so grateful to have such a supportive family who told her to leave town and come be with me, and thankful for a mother that loves her baby so much that she flew out here and then changed her flight to stay with me even longer. While I know that Jesse and I would get through this week and the holidays on our own, there is something comforting about having your mother around.

chicken soup and crackers from the couch - thanks mom!

We often lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas, but this year has been a great reminder that it's not about all of the presents and food, but it's about family, good health and giving. I am so thankful that I am on the mend and hopeful that the New Year will bring me positive news as far as my health is concerned. I hope that all of you are able to spend Christmas with your loved ones and that you all are fortunate enough to be alive and healthy.

I'm hoping to be back tomorrow to show you all of the Christmas decorations that I put up a few weeks ago and the amazing transformations that my mom has made since she arrived! We've never spent a Christmas in Virginia, but I think we're just about ready for our (unexpected) first Christmas at home.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Operation Buffet: Complete!

Holy buckets, can you guys believe it's already December?! Depending on where you live, you might be thinking the same thing I am - it's been way too warm to feel like winter is coming! This week alone we had two days in the upper 60's and two more in the 50's. Today is actually a little cooler at a rough 47 degrees. I'm not sure what to make of it all, but I'm hoping that whenever winter does get here, it doesn't come with a vengeance. Unless there's snow ... lots and lots of snow ... enough snow to close down the city. I could deal with that.

Oh, you didn't come here to read about the weather?

Silly me.

I guess you were hoping to see some pictures of the buffet.

And you're probably hoping to hear why it took me so long to finish it.
{spoiler alert: I have no good excuses, except that I like to drag out projects until Jesse starts getting gray hairs ... and let's just say he's got a few floating around on his head}

You might also be a little curious about the little details ...



Alright, I'll quit teasing. Let's get to the meat and potatoes of this post!

To get started, let's take a quick look back at the buffet from when I first brought it home. It wasn't in horrible shape, but there were a lot of scratches across the top, as well as a few nicks around the drawers and doors. I also didn't like the color of the wood next to everything else in our dining room.

{Here's the story of how I found the buffet ... 8 months ago}

I actually finished the buffet in November October September, but I wanted to get it into the dining room and do a little decorating before the big reveal. And, while decorating was my first priority, filling it with our stuff seemed to be Jesse's. So, before I could start buying cutesy little owls and stealing pictures off of other walls in my house, I had to do some reorganizing in the kitchen and drawer/cabinet filling in the buffet.

But alas, I finally finished everything on the to-do list, and after three more weeks of delaying, here are the final results!

Are you curious about what's sitting up on top? I hope so, because I'm about to tell you.

Starting from the left, I have a few Halloween/thank you/birthday cards that we received last month, a picture that I bought from Target a few years ago (it was previously hanging in the upstairs hallway), an owl that I just picked up at TJ Maxx, a pumpkin spice candle, and a miniature cake pedestal that we got as a wedding gift. I also laid down two place mats to act as a runner until I find something more permanent.

Enough of the close-ups, let me show you how the buffet looks next to the table. It seems to blend perfectly with everything in the room.

I couldn't zoom out enough to fit the entire dining room in these pictures, but I hope you get the idea.
{note to self: add fancy-schmancy camera to the Christmas list}

Thanks to everyone who voted when I couldn't decide what to do, and thank you for sticking around long enough to see the big reveal. I know eight months is much longer than it should have taken, but I think my next project will be much quicker, especially now that I've got this one under my belt.

P.S. I already started typing up my thoughts/opinions about the products I used for this project, as well as a few tips that might be helpful for other newbie painters, all of which I'm planning to post before I lose momentum.

Warning: I have my birthday party, Jesse's soccer game, a birthday dinner for a friend, and a few dozen cookies to make this weekend {I'm hosting a cookie exchange party for a bunch of my girlfriends next weekend!}. Oh, and I also want to put up our Christmas decorations ASAP. And did I mention that my VERY best friend is coming in town on Friday? In other words, it might be a little hectic at my casa for the next week. Either way, I'm determined to keep up with this dang blog, so I will do my best to come back with Part Two very soon! Promise.

P.S.S. You can read more about the infamous buffet here, here, here and here.

P.S.S.S. Isn't this owl the cutest thing you've ever seen?? I carried it around TJ Maxx for about 30 minutes, trying to decide if I should buy it or not. At just $12, I don't know why I was ever wavering!

Have a good weekend and I'll talk to you next week!!

P.S. This post is linked up to

Furniture Feature Fridays

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wordless {ha!} Wednesday: The Rooney Files

I constantly have my camera phone in-hand to capture pictures of my day (thanks for starting that one Instagram!), so when I get behind in blogging I get a back-log of pictures that I want to share on here. I usually use my Photo Friday series to share all of my random musings, but with this week being Turkey Day, I don't trust myself to think about anything on Friday, except maybe what we'll do with turkey leftovers! :) So with that in mind, I decided to do Wordless Wednesday (which isn't turning out to be very wordless) to share what I've been looking at recently. As I started sorting through my pictures, I realized that I have quite a few of Rooney, so I think he deserves a day in the spotlight!

I hope you enjoy the Rooney Files and that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, filled with lots of turkey, stuffing, cranberries and family! :)

"you said no counters, but i heard nothing about the window" {11-22-11}

handsome man {11-11-11}

wide-eyed {11-10-11}

can I help? {11-7-11}

bookshelf accessory {11-7-11}
no laundry, please {11-1-11}
paparazzi attack {10-16-11}

mother theresa rooney {9-29-11}

flat tire after the vet {9-23-11}

birthday boy {9-21-11}

lounging {9-14-11}

sweetheart {9-4-11}

If you made it to the end of my "proud mama" post, then you're in for a treat. I caught this hilarious Rooney moment on video and I've been dying to share it! Consider it the pumpkin pie of this post ... but if pumpkin pie isn't your thing, then consider it something that is, like apple pie? Or maybe chocolate pecan? Alright, I'm officialy on a tangent now ... Happy Thanksgiving!

so much for wordless Wednesday ... next time I'll stick to Photo Friday! :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

I Fancy Myself a Bartender (sort of)

It's Friday! Let's talk alcohol. That seems timely and relevant, right?

Last fall I discovered a new cocktail at one of my favorite bars, Spider Kelly's (affectionately nicknamed Spider Kittens because I can't ever remember the name). SK's is a sports bar located in the popular/trendy neighborhood of Clarendon, in Northern Virginia. Regardless of the uppity feeling at some of the surrounding bars/clubs, SK's has figured out how to accommodate just about every type of patron. They have tons of TV's surrounding the bar, as well as pool tables, shuffleboards, video games and pop-a-shot nets scattered throughout. To balance out the sports theme, the interior is setup to feel more like a lounge with dark lighting, loud music and comfy couches staged to look like a living room.

Ok, I wanted to give you a clear vision of the bar, but now that this sounds like a review for Spider Kelly's, let's get to the point of this post the drinks you see in the picture above.

Spider Kelly's has an amazing cocktail list that is updated throguhout the year to feature seasonal favorites. I usually prefer a good beer over any cocktail, but their happy hour special, which just so happens to feature $4 cocktails, is too good to pass up! They make really good mojitos in the summer, but the drink that stole my heart is one of their fall specials called Spider Cider.

It's not something that I want year round, but it's nice to have a seasonal favorite to fall back on. When October rolled around this year, and we threw our Bocce Party, I wanted to offer a variety of options to our guests. We were already planning to have several types of beer on hand, and I've always liked the idea of offering a signature drink, so I thought Spider Cider would be the perfect addition to the menu.

Best part? It met all of my novice-bartending hosting requirements: it's really simple to make, the ingredients scream autumn, and the chunks of honeycrisp apple mixed in make it classy enough to serve at a party!

I also liked the fact that aside from the apples, I only needed three ingredients - spiced rum, ginger ale and apple cider (if you're like me, you'll want a shot glass too).

With most of November left to go, there is plenty of time to make this drink for your friends and family, or just for yourself! You could even bring it to a Thanksgiving gathering - especially if you want to make new friends. :) Either way, I hope you get to enjoy it before fall is over. It snowed here last week, so I'm a little worried about how much longer we'll get to enjoy the season before Old Man Winter takes over!

But enough with the small talk, let's get to the recipe for my version of Spider Cider .....

Susan's Spiked Cider
Inspired by: Spider Kelly's Spider Cider
Servings: 1 (or as many as you feel like making)
Prep Time: 5 minutes

1 (generous) shot of Spiced Rum
2 shots of Apple Cider
splash of Ginger Ale
1 Honey Crisp Apple, cored and diced

Core and dice the apple (if you can't find honey crisp apples, any sweet variety will work). Add a handful of ice and apple pieces to a cocktail glass. Pour one shot of spiced rum and two shots of apple cider into the glass. Top off with a generous splash of ginger ale. Enjoy!

Notes: I pre-chopped the apples and put them in a bowl with a little bit of lemon juice and water to keep them from browning. I also made the drinks one-by-one, but it would be just as easy to pre-mix the cider, rum and apples, and then just add a splash of ginger ale to the top of each glass as you serve them. And one small recommendation, we had a group of 8 people, but a gallon of cider was wayyyy too much - I would opt for the half gallon. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blogging Fail and Apples

By this point, you would think that I would know myself well enough to know that I'm not good at juggling life. Let me take that back. I can juggle life, but I always hit a point where I think I can throw one more ball into the mix and then they all come crashing down.

This time around the crash wasn't exactly a negative thing, but I definitely couldn't figure out how to make everything work together. It's been about 2 months (give or take) since I last posted and in that time I've gone out of town twice, painted the buffet (finally!), quit my job, got a new job, had a few weekend visitors, spent hours at Ikea, bought a new car, threw a party, and painted/decorated the office. Phew, reading everything makes me tired all over again!

So, I know it's no excuse for my absence, but I thought I should at least catch you up on my life.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about Fall.

Last October, Jesse and I went to a pumpkin patch called Cox Farms. We had a great time seeing all of the baby animals, picking out pumpkins and enjoying the fall weather.
Here's a quick snapshot of our afternoon at the farm.

We haven't made it out to any pumpkin patches this year, but we've still found several ways to enjoy the season. This past weekend we hosted a post-season bocce party at our house, which was full of fall treats. I made a big batch of chili, spinach artichoke dip, an apple dip and a nice fall cocktail for everyone to enjoy. We spent the afternoon watching football and playing bocce outside. Everyone seemed to have a great time, but more than that, they all loved the food. :)

Since everything was such a hit, I wanted to share a few of the recipes here on the blog. I especially want to share the apple recipes while there's still plenty of time to enjoy the fall bounty. (Yes, I just used the word bounty ... it sounds so mature!)

So let's get started!

The first recipe is for an amazing fruit dip that I discovered on, the one and only, Pinterest. I didn't know I'd be throwing a party when I came across the recipe, but I pinned it anyway because I figured it might come in handy. Boy am I glad I did! People were a little skeptical at first, but as soon as the first person dug in, it didn't take long for everyone else to follow suit. I'll definitely keep this one in the arsenal for any upcoming potlucks!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dip
Servings: 8-10
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Inactive Time: 2 hrs. - overnight

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 Tbs. heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 small jar Caramel sauce
1/2 cup Heath milk chocolate pieces
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2-4 Granny Smith or other crisp tart apples, sliced and soaking in
lemon juice and ice water until ready to serve

Line a six inch cake pan or springform pan with plastic wrap. Use enough plastic wrap to hang over the sides of the pan about 2 inches.

Place softened cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the heavy cream and powdered sugar, mix well, until smooth. Place half of the cream cheese mixture in the lined pan and smooth with the back of a spoon. (If you dip the spoon into warm water before you start to smooth the cream cheese, it will be much easier to spread.) Spoon on a layer of caramel. Sprinkle with a layer of chocolate chips and the Health pieces.

Place in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. This will help the caramel set up a bit and make topping it with the remaining cream cheese much easier.

Scoop the remaining cream cheese on top and smooth out using the back of a dampened spoon, like you did for the first layer. Add another thin layer of caramel, heath pieces and chocolate chips on top. Fold the overhanging plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate for at least two hours, but up to overnight for best results. Pull back the plastic wrap so that the top of the cheesecake is exposed. Place a serving plate on top of the pan and invert. Remove the pan and the plastic wrap. Spoon caramel sauce over the top of you cheese cake and top with more of the Heath pieces and chocolate chips. Place the sliced apples around the dip and serve.

*Note: If you want to throw this together super fast, just spread the cream cheese mixture on a serving platter and top with the caramel, Heath bits, and the mini chocolate chips.

I'm not sure if I have any readers left, but hoping assuming I do, what have you been up to? Does anyone have any good fall recipes to share? I'd love to hear any updates, if nothing else so I know you're still here!

I missed you guys and it feels good to be back! :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Vacation Pictures and Upcoming Recipes

As promised this morning, I'm back with pictures from the last two weeks. I've been trying to figure out a better way to share pictures on my blog, so I'm trying out a new photo collage program tonight. Let me know what you think of these photo spreads as opposed to scrolling through the post one picture at a time. I think I like it, but I'm still trying to decide.

Either way, putting together all of the pictures from my vacations really makes me miss Myrtle Beach and the lake. Summer isn't quite over yet - I still have one more beach weekend in Virginia Beach, a tubing trip, and my BFF, Kelly, is coming to visit - but August always flies by. It's nice to capture all of these wonderful summer memories in one place.

I spent most of this trip on the beach and the boardwalk with my sister Lisa, her husband Justin, and their kids. Elizabeth is the oldest and she's holding the boogie board in the center picture. Alexis is the next in line and she is in the picture with me in the top right. As for Evan, he's just now 15 months and he's going to be a little heartbreaker - such a sweet boy!

Lake George was a very different pace from the beach, but oh so relaxing! We spent the week in a cabin with Jesse's parents, enjoying the breathtaking lake views and walking around the nearby shops. Jesse and I enjoyed our second wedding anniversary while we were there and spent most of the week celebrating. We went out for a couple of nice meals, one of which was at Friend's Lake Inn where his uncle is the sommelier. On Friday, we took a day trip to Vermont, where we spent the day with one of his mom's college friends. She was such a great hostess and made the best. chocolate. cake. ever. I'm planning to make it later this month, so I'll share the recipe soon!

I have a few other recipes that I want to share before the chocolate cake recipe -- homemade potato salad, squash and goat cheese orzo, tomato-basil-mozzarella salad and eggplant ricotta linguine -- so keep an eye out for them in the coming weeks. 

Just thinking about a few of these dishes makes me sad that we only have another month or so to enjoy such fresh produce and wonderful summer salads. I know, I know ... most of the US is experiencing horrific heat, including DC, but I still can't help but love summer! How about you, what is your favorite season? Are you a seasonal cook like me? I tend to enjoy different foods more (or less) depending on the weather and time of year.

Summer Fun

I know I've been MIA the last few weeks, but like everyone else, I've been busy enjoying the fun of summer! A few weeks ago, I got to enjoy three days at the beach with my sister and her family. I flew down to meet them in Myrtle Beach and had such a good time catching up and playing with my nieces and nephew!

Myrtle Beach

When I got back in town, I played in my first Bocce game. Jesse and I joined a summer Bocce league so we'll be playing Bocce and drinking beer every Tuesday night for the next four weeks. I haven't been on a sports team since I was 12, so regardless of the fact that Bocce is more of a game than a sport, I'm looking forward to the challenge. We're currently 2-0 and our next game is tomorrow night ... here's hoping it goes as well as our first two games went!

As soon as I unpacked from Myrtle Beach, I had to turn around and pack for our week long vacation in Lake George, New York. Jesse and I (and his parents) spent all of last week in a cabin on the lake. It was a relaxing getaway and we enjoyed lots of good food! 

View of Lake George from "The Top of the World"

We just got back in town Saturday night, so I spent most of yesterday unpacking and doing laundry. I promise I'll be back tomorrow (or maybe later tonight) with pictures from the last two weeks, and I also have a few summer recipes to share ... coming soon!

In the meantime, checkout this little word collage I created on Picnik. I had fun coming up with words that make me think of summer. It happens to be my favorite time of year, so I wanted to capture all of the things I love about it!

Background Source

If you ask me, summer is all about being outside, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying fresh fruits and veggies.What are your favorite parts of summer? Would you add anything to this word collage? I actually thought of another one while I was at the lake ... stargazing. It's been a few years since I could sit and look at the stars (thank you DC light pollution!), so it was nice to sit outside the cabin and gaze up at the millions of stars above us!

I hope you're enjoying summer as much as I am. I'd love to hear what you've been up to, so feel free to leave me a comment or link back to your blog!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Challenge: Junk Drawer Clean-up

Writing this blog is motivating. It forces encourages me to continually improve our home, cook delicious meals and try new things (like sewing and gardening). I've had a few people ask me where I get my ideas, and the answer is pretty simple. A majority of my ideas come from the variety of blogs I read, along with my other new love -- Pinterest. Whenever I find an idea that inspires me, I either pin it to one of my boards or file it away in my memory (not nearly as reliable).

While my latest inspiration isn't exactly glamorous, it's something that I've needed to do for awhile. I was reading Young House Love the other day (one of my all time favorites) and they did an entry about cleaning out the junk drawer in their kitchen. I'll admit, I thought it was a little silly at first ... a whole post dedicated to cleaning out one drawer? And then I realized that our junk drawer could use a mini-overhaul as well.

The junk drawer in our kitchen is tiny, but we don't have many storage options on our main level. We continued to cram more items into the little space until it got to the point that I had to rearrange the drawer just to shut it. Not cool.

There are several items that I like to keep close by, so I needed a better solution than relocating everything to our basement or continually cramming everything into one tiny drawer.

I started by emptying the drawer in our kitchen and sorting it by category - tape, tools, writing utensils, rubberbands and miscellaneous items.

Once I sorted everything, I pulled out a few items from each category that we tend to use pretty frequently. I put those items back in the drawer -- this time much more organized than the mess we started with.

As for the rest of our supplies, I put them in this glam toolbox that I scored from Home Goods for $6.00. It was originally a photo box, but it just so happened to be the perfect solution to my problem.

All of my leftover "junk" fit so nicely into the compact little container.

The best part about it is that it coordinates perfectly with our sunroom. So well, in fact, that I decided to give it it's own little home on our desk.

I have to say, it's nice to still have everything at arm's reach without overusing our teeny-tiny junk drawer!

How about you guys? Do you have a junk drawer that is getting out of hand? Or do you have a creative way to hide your not so glamorous home supplies? 

I'd love to hear about any other creative storage ideas you have because my next challenge is finding a way to hide my hand weights on the main level. I just scored a great set of 4, 7, 9 and 12 lb. weights from Drew's work for just $8 (total!), so now I need somewhere handy to hide them. I'll let you know what I come up with as soon as I figure it out.