Organizing

As I discussed in this post on my living area, I have a chest of drawers that I use for storage. When I first moved in, I just threw everything into the drawers and they were pretty messy and completely unorganized. I took the time last week to go through each drawer and organize the mess. The drawers are new-to-me and have become an integral part of keeping my wee basement apartment orderly.

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The top drawer is what I call my “junk drawer” filled with maps and other assorted stuff (my drill, paint, twine, etc.). I purchased small baskets to organize the chaos. Now I have a place to corral the junk of my life.

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The next drawer is kind of a continuation of the first. Here I have my composting bags for the green bin, post-it-notes, a random bag of flax seeds, bookends, a platter, and placemats.

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The third drawer down gets plenty of use. Here I store my mason jar lids, storage containers, and things like my can opener, peeler, and other kitchen goods that usually go in drawers.

Things got shifted around from the third and fourth drawers so I didn’t have a clear before snap.

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The fourth and fifth drawers are behind the cat scratching post I have (see first image at the top), so I tried to store the things I use the least in these two bottom drawers, since I have to move the post each time to get at this stuff (not a lot of work to do, but I could imagine it getting old pretty fast).

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The fifth drawer didn’t change at all from when I first moved in, it has my baking pans which also happens to be the heaviest of the drawers, so it made sense keeping that the bottom drawer as it was.

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Bedroom

Here is my bedroom, the final room to reveal. This, like all the rooms in my teeny tiny apartment (240 sq. feet), is a work in progress but I thought you might be interested in what it looks like so far. I move throughout the space in a counterclockwise route, if you were wondering how the space works.

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This is the first bed I ever bought myself. It isn’t great but it does the job. Moving from a two-bedroom apartment to this one was a bit challenging but this bed ended up being the problem solver. How, you ask. Well, I have Tupperware storage totes that I purchased because I thought (at the time) it was better to invest in these as moving boxes. Thing is, they have become storage receptacles and I needed to find a place to store them as I didn’t have access to a basement space to store them since I was living in the basement.

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As I began organizing my bedroom, (the last room I tackled) it quickly became apparent that I wouldn’t have room to stash these away in one of my two small closets since those were already jam-packed. Before I moved I thought about the possibility of having to store these blue eyesores under my bed, When it came down to the reality of the situation under the bed was the only place these totes would fit. I know this isn’t ideal (so far none of the bins have collapsed, knock on wood). First of all, having my storage totes under the bed makes for getting at the items in the totes a bit awkward. Fortunately, I have each tote labeled (above left). Second, I have to use a stool to gingerly climb into bed (above right). But overall, this was the best way to deal with the situation, especially since I really don’t have a budget to build anything or store them offsite.

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To the left of my bed I have a small night table and you can see what appears to be two closets. Unfortunately, the one that She-beast is staring at, with the double doors, is where the water tank and furnace are located. I do have a bit of storage in there but not too much. The closet to the left is full to the brim with banker’s boxes and clothes and other bits and bobs. My two closets will be dealt with in a future post (or two). You can also see where the stool I use to get into bed is stored during the day. Behind that stool is a small storage space where I have put all of the boxes and newspaper I used to move in. I am hoping that the material will be useable when I eventually move out.

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Above that storage space is a cubby hole. Since the bedroom has no window I think this cubby hole is meant to let in light and be in lieu of an actual window. But, in such a small space I have made use of it for two types of storage. On the bedroom side I put a small bookcase in the middle and have taller books on the sides. On the living area side, I have a poster covering the hole which hides larger kitchen items (see this post).

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In my last apartment, which I would have described as minimalist, I had my artwork spread throughout the space. Here I have all of my black and white photographs hung together for a more maximalist approach.

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On the other side of the entrance to the bedroom (there is no actual door) I have my dresser with some more art and family photographs.

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My desk didn’t fit in the apartment, so I turned it on its side and use it to add texture and to hold two more pieces of art.

This is by no means my “dream” bedroom, but it serves the purpose for now and it is surprisingly comfy. I was worried about the noise from the furnace, especially since the air conditioning unit seems to be running all the time, but it hasn’t been all that bad. Do I miss having a window. Yes! But for now I am enjoying my high bed and dark mornings.

*I had to use flash to get these images, since there wasn’t enough light.

Bathroom

Here is a peek into my bathroom.

The bathroom is off the living area and divided by a small “hall space” (if you can call it that) where there is a closet on the left-hand side and where I store my bike on the right. There is a small window that opens and between 10:00 and 11:00 sun streams in creating this bright spot in the apartment.

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While the space might be small, it has everything one needs (although I am finding I do miss having a bathtub, since there is only a shower stall – to the right of the door).

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The previous tenant left this necklace organizer and I kept it to hang my various necklaces. I like how it adds pops of colour and texture to the space.

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There is ample counter space and I have left a lot of my stuff out on display. I mounted this Ikea mirror because the huge mirror that is in the bathroom is a bit too far away to really see anything.

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I covered the small window with a piece of knitted lace that I picked-up years ago and never really found a use for, until now. The window looks out to the air conditioning unit and also the side road, so I wanted to create a bit of cover that still allowed for ample light.

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With this choice of window covering, I decided to hang these two prints I have to carry on the lace-like look.

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In addition to ample counter space, there is heaps of storage below. On one side I store extra bathroom supplies and below the sink I store all of the kitty supplies.

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Since the majority of the apartment is carpeted, I decided to store the kitty litter box in the bathroom, so it would be easier to maintain the litter mess (I also store a dust pan and small broom to sweep up daily).

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That is my bathroom. This is the room I have done the least with and, as with all the other rooms, is a work in progress. Currently it is painted a light grey colour, but I am thinking a nice bright white coat of paint may be nice. What do you think?

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Living Area

The kitchen, as we saw last week, is at one end of the living area and the living area extends from there. I have tried to use the space, which measures 135 x 86 inches OR 80.63 square feet, in a way that doesn’t make it seem that small because it is so teeny tiny. To do this, I have tried to create the sense of increased area by minimizing what I have in it, while also maximizing all I can do in the living area. This is still very much a work-in-progress but things are slowly coming together.

Entrance 

As I have mentioned elsewhere, this apartment has some frustrating features, including space heaters that no longer work. So, for the entrance I used this unusable space (meaning I could have easily extended the Ivar shelving unit further out if not for the space heater) by creating an entrance of sorts. This is where I plan to hang my seasonal coats, stash my scarves and mittens, and catch any miscellaneous stuff, like newspapers, magazines, or books I want to take to the book exchange. For the low shelf, I hung the top of a piano bench I had in Kingston that didn’t quite survive the move, to be the “catch-all” with the baskets. Above the shelf,  I hung individual hooks for my coats and shopping bags (which I may add to as it gets cooler and I need more coat options, with a few more hooks). I decided to also hang smaller hooks (to the right)  for my bike helmet and summer hat and keys.

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Below, I store my shoes and added an Ikea crate to increase the storage area.

Storage x 2

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Deceptively, this area includes two forms of storage. Since the kitchen is so small, I got creative in where to put my larger items or those awkward things, such as a can opener or veggie peeler (I don’t have any kitchen drawers) so, I repurposed this yellow set of drawers for overall storage (mostly for my kitchen stuff). It is the perfect width for my lasagna pan and there are enough drawers to include one for junk, linen, and Tupperware.

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BUT, there is also a cubby hole behind the Walker Evans poster that stores my extra-large soup pots, iron, and other random things.

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While it is a bit of pain to get at, it is a lifesaver in this wee apartment.

Table / Eating Area

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With only just over 80 square feet for this area of the apartment, furniture gets shifted around throughout the day.  Above you can see where my reading chair is when the wall-mounted table is down. When it is time to eat I shift the chair around placing it beside the shelves.

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That way I can lift up the table and have a place to eat. I have now had two dinners with people over and I wish that there was just a bit more space so I could seat three comfortably at the table. For now it is a one-person-over-at-a-time sort of entertaining.

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Bookcase

This weekend I finally had the opportunity to go to Ikea to get the extra shelves I needed to finish up with my living area. Before that one side of my bookcase looked like this.

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I wanted to get all of my boxes unpacked so the remaining books went on to one shelf all happenstance (I know, I know – this is not good for the books and their poor spines). Now this area looks like this.

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And here is the other side.

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Work Area

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I created a work area in the centre of the shelving unit so that I could differentiate between where I work and where I eat (just like I discussed here).

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A Work in Progress

As I mentioned, this is still all a work in progress, especially this area at the other end of the room. I want to put in either a specially made daybed here or a camping cot (to be used as a seating area) but I haven’t had the time to make something and the camping cot I was interested in is just a few inches too long for the space. So for right now this will have to do.  Any suggestions for this area? Another option is to find two chairs with smaller foot prints than the chair I currently have . . .

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I hope you liked the tour.

Kitchen

It has been a little over a week and a bit since I moved in. I wanted to show you the kitchen as it currently is. But first, here is a reminder what it looked like when I first moved in.

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The kitchen is very small but full of potential. As you can see the cupboards are teeny tiny (like those found in trailers or boats). Regardless of the small scale of everything I some how managed to get a lot into that space.

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The stove is a bit wonky (I can’t seem to straighten out the bottom drawer) but it has some character with the knobs on the front instead of at the back. The previous tenant left a mirror hanging on the wall in another part of the apartment so I thought I would try it out behind the metal shelf I put beside the stove to create the illusion of space. I hung another mirror above the stove as a way to bounce light around. No, I am not vain . . .

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There was an awkward space above the sink and no room to stand my spice / tea rack so I decided to hang it.

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Above the fridge I placed artwork and a basket with my kitchen towels, wash cloths, and cloth napkins. In the cupboard behind the artwork are items that I occasionally use and although it is a pain in the butt to have to move everything to get at that stuff, but I like how the added visual interest creates exciting pops of colour. Plus, you can’t really go wrong with artwork made by a four-year old (on the left) and an amazing poster from the Whitechapel Gallery in London (on the right).

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As I mentioned before, the cupboards are pretty tiny. I have had to downsize the amount of cups and mugs put out for use. But, I was thinking this will allow me to switch up what I use throughout the year to keep things fresh and new.

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On the other side of the fridge I have a three-tiered hanging basket where I like to store veggies. Another way to save space, since there is so little counter space.

Like I have mentioned before, the kitchen gets a surprising amount of light and between 5:00 and about 6:30 direct light streams through the door’s window. I have hung my rainbow maker, so during that time pretty rainbows dance all over the surfaces.

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No-Knead Bread and Settling In

One of the first things I like to do once I move into a new place is make bread. This simple act makes me feel as if I am getting settled.

Making homemade bread goes way back to my childhood. Out of necessity, my mom baked our bread. Fresh out of the oven, smeared with butter (or more likely margarine) it was scrumptious. The day after, in my school lunch the bread felt like it pointed out to everyone that we were poor. But, as I have grown up, I have come to enjoy the act of making my own bread. In many ways, although the recipe is different from my mom’s, making bread connects me to the past – to all my kinfolk who baked their own bread due to economics or the sheer reality of the inaccessibility of store-bought bread.

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I know that no-knead bread went through a craze a few years ago, but I swear by it and resort to this recipe because of the ease of making it and the wonderful bread it makes. I like to experiment with different flours and often will add sunflower and flax seeds into my dough (I will add these when I am putting the dry ingredients together). The first loaf I made in my new place was 2 cups white flour (a mixture of flours I had brought with me from Kingston) and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Now, I can’t even think about paying $4.00 + for a loaf of bread, since I can make my own for much less.

No-Knead Bread Recipe (recipe adapted from Mark Bitman’s article in the New York Times which was adapted from Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Bakery)

Time: About 1 1/2 hours, plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising. Yield: One 1 1/2 pound loaf.

3 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour (with more for dusting)

1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

*optional sunflower and flax seeds (amount roughly amounts to 1/2 or 3/4 cup in total)

Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 + 5/8 cups of luke warm water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature. [If there is a cooler draft, I will often put my dough into the oven to minimize the fluctuation of temperatures. Just make sure you don’t forget it is there and tell others who may live with you that it is there.]
  2.  Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. [At this point I typically fold it over a few more times. And, depending on the consistency of the dough, I might even add a significant amount of flour and knead it – oops, no longer no-knead bread at this point.] Shape into a ball and cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for about 15 minutes.
  3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. [Here I go off of Bitman’s recipe – see above link for original instructions] Sprinkle enough flour to coat the bottom of the bowl, return dough to bowl and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
  4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. [Again I go off of Bitman’s instructions here] Before the oven has reached the desired temperature, sprinkle cornmeal or wheat bran on the bottom of the lidded pot you will use to make the bread. Add the dough, I usually punch it down a bit prior to adding it to the pot. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. To tell if the loaf is done a good trick is to tap the bottom of the loaf and it should sound hollow. Cool on rack.

The Move In – Day Two

I moved into an apartment that is smaller than a 5th wheel trailer. My previous apartment was pretty spacious and living there for over two years I accumulated more stuff, as one does. The second day of the move in was a bit overwhelming. I have 12 Rubbermaid Roughneck 25-gallon totes and in this new space no storage space (or very little). I also have quite a few books and ample kitchen stuff. The task was to get it all to fit.

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Most of the day felt like I was a tetras master, trying to move all the pieces around to fit.

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The architectural “details” or weird layout of the space proved to be challenging. As did having to deal with space heaters that no longer function BUT take up valuable wall space.

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As you can see from the above snap I still need more shelves. I wanted to unpack all of the boxes so I fit all the books in the bookcase just to get them off the floor.

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Piles and piles of stuff everywhere. I’ll reveal the end result as soon as it is all finished.

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The Move In – Day One

As I mentioned yesterday, the move happened during two exhausting days. The first day, Charlene and I moved everything that we had packed into her van. I prioritized my bed so I could sleep there, bedding, the Ivar shelving unit, dishes, and anything else that would fit. When that was all unloaded we went to the place I was staying for the month of June and brought that stuff and She-beast back to the apartment. Charlene then headed home to get ready for a concert that evening and I was left to start unpacking.

Here are some images from unpacking that first day.

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I set to sorting out the kitchen first. You can see the progress.

Next, I worked on the shelves (Charlene helped me set them up before she left).

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Here (above) is the empty space where the shelves would go. I was very lucky that I was able to expand my Ivar shelving unit to fit three and have included the desk space I talked about in this post.

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When I woke up the next morning I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of light that the apartment gets throughout the day. A bonus when you live below ground. Stay tuned for day two of the move in tomorrow.

Empty Slate

Over the long weekend, I moved into my wee basement apartment. We moved over two days since the storage place I had all my stuff stored in was closed on the first of July for Canada Day. These are some snaps of the apartment empty.

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On the left hand side of the stairs is a small area I can put some planters, if I want. For now I’ve put out my basil pot.

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When you come down the stairs you enter into the teeny tiny kitchen.

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Opposite the kitchen is the living room. There is a long window made of those glass blocks. I used to think they were tacky, but they are growing on me because they let in so much light and I don’t need to put up curtains. Win, win.

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I didn’t take a snap of the bedroom because it was too dark (no windows in there). I have been unpacking and organizing and sorting. I’ll post the mid-progress snaps tomorrow.