Friday, July 19, 2013

Kitchen Sink

Underneath my kitchen be more specific. That space is a mess.

I keep all my cleaning supplies down there, plus a vase or two. There are plumbing pipes to get around and a garbage disposal but just look at it. I'm clearly not using the space as well as I could. From all the organizer blogs I've been reading lately I think the solution is a combination of lazy susans and undersink shelving. I'm thinking something like this  and maybe something like this too, to hold my most used cleaners.

If OrgJunkie, OMF or OTO or anyone else happen to see this post..I'd love ideas for products to help organize this space better. I'm going to tackle it some time this weekend I think.

I also need a solution for all our CDs and DVDs. They're taking up way too much space on a storage shelf in the storage room of the basement. We don't even use the CDs since we stored all the music on our media server. That shelf could be much better used..I'm going to tackle that this weekend too, now that the super hot is finally going away (right? it IS going away isn't it?) and I won't be obligated to swim with the kids every single day.
these need to move, i could better use that shelf
I should have taken before and after pictures, but I'm super lazy so I didn't, but I rearranged the sort of hallway at the bottom of the basement stairs. You come down the stairs and at the bottom, toward the right there's a mini fridge and wine fridge, shredder and trash can. We're going to move the minifridge over by the couch (no pictures of that) and the wine fridge somewhere into the storage room. I'll likely leave the trash can and move the shredder into my pretend new office area.
bottom of stairs
 The door (on the right wall) to the storage room is there, with a wall. Along that wall we had a deck box with all our swimwear and towels (we have A LOT of beach towels) and a bookshelf holding all our games and some random books we were keeping for whatever reason. Anyway, since I'm selling the hope chest there's room in the storage room, I pulled out the hope chest, and slid in the deck box - perfect fit.
hope chest going soon, used to be bookshelf and deckbox here
 Moved a few other things around and pulled the bookshelf of games in there too. Now that wall is empty (well, once the hope chest goes it will be). I love it. And now I've sort of started imagining turning it into a nice desk area. Putting the main family computer down there, as well as using it as a place to work when the kids go back to school in August.
is this wishful thinking?
 There's definitely enough space for a small desk and I'd put the main family tower on the floor with the monitor on the desk, and a lamp (which I already have) and move the shredder over to this wall. Then my new laptop that's coming from the office, I'd work at the desk here most days, but it'd still be portable of course for summertime or if it got too cold down here. This would also allow us to get rid of the desk that's too big that's in our living room. It works ok, but it'd be nice to just have a chair there and no bulky desk.
this is far right wall in storage room, opposite the DVD shelf
I'll likely put the wine fridge on top of the pool supply cabinet, I think it'll fit best there and I might switch places with these things depending on where my outlet is. I don't love that brown shelf - it's the husbands from living at home eons ago with his parents. We'll see where that ends up. To the right is the deck box - which replaced the hope chest.
deck box
See, it fit perfectly and I intend to store the bin with the pool cover on top of it during the winter. And next to it is the bookshelf. There used to be a file cabinet there, but since I've gone all paperless and Fuji Scan Snap with our bills, we don't need it. Also, it had rusted leaving a giant pile of rust - which I thought were bugs or something. Gross. Anyway, that went to the dump. So this spot used to have the filecabinet and pool cabinet and I put the bookshelf here with all our games, arranged so the littlest one can reach her favorites. We don't need to talk about the golf clubs.
game bookshelf
On that bookshelf is a book called "Build your own x86". A book about how to build your own computer. From like 1995. But the husband insisted we keep it...for...nostalgia or something. I dunno. I'm on a roll though, I want to finish up this cleanup, see if a desk area really is possible here. I love purging and organizing like this.

Monday, July 1, 2013


So our next trip was to Chicago. The husband is a Network Admin for a decent sized company and they get a lot of their supplies from a large vendor. So that vendor had been asking him to come to Chicago, see the Cubs, see the facilities and talk shop a bit. We finally worked it out with grandparents and such that he could go and I could tag along. Also the 5yo had a t-ball game the night we were scheduled to leave. So, the plan was to go to t-ball and send the girls home with the grandparents, leave directly from there to head to Chicago. There was a line of storms coming through, but we couldn't tell exactly where or when we would be when it decided to storm. So we left after t-ball, our kids prefer not to live with us anyway, so there were no tears or anything as we waved goodbye. We got to I-88 before the weather started. At one point it was so dark and the clouds were so ominous we weren't sure what was going to happen.  There was a tornado warning near Dekalb at some point, but I think we stopped at the oasis and got ahead of it by that point. We were headed to Vernon Hills for the first night, once we made it through the storms and navigated our way through Chicago, we found ourselves at the Indigo Hotel Vernon Hills. To be clear, the first two hotels were on the vendor's dime, we didn't pay for them, and we were reimbursed for taxis and valet and tolls.

Hotel Indigo bed (two fulls, we slept separately this night)
The hotel is really nice and very modern. Wood floors (or wood look alike floors) and mounted flat TVs, a sectional couch and a nice modern bathroom area.  Since there were two full sized beds we decided to sleep separately for this night. We prefer a King sized bed and this was just not going to work to sleep together :) The only drawback to separate beds is that I can't wiggle when he starts to snore (the wiggling stops it generally). Oh well, we were pretty tired after the late and stressful drive, so we slept pretty well. There is no free breakfast, but there is free wifi and the hotel is very nice. I think we liked it best of all the hotels on this trip.
Hotel Indigo couch, faces the desk and tv area

Hotel Indigo bathroom

Hotel Indigo dresser and desk, across from couch

Hotel Indigo Sink (all liquid runs AWAY from drain)

Hotel Indigo TV
So when you brush your teeth and spit into this fancy pants sink, all the spit runs AWAY from the drain. Totally gross. Very cool LOOKING sink, but totally gross functionally. Otherwise the room was really nice and felt larger than a hotel room and was super comfortable. We were on the 7th floor also, so we had a nice view in the morning. The husband had some work things in the morning and then came back to the hotel for me and we checked out and headed into downtown Chicago.
3 wheel motorcycle with WALKER strapped to the back
Traffic in Chicago sucks. Driving in Chicago sucks. Therefore I conclude that living in (or near) Chicago must suck. We left around 10:30am Thursday morning from Vernon Hills and I think we arrived at our hotel at close to 11:45am. So..a little over an hour to go about 35 miles. I cannot imagine doing that regularly.  We saw a pickup truck with two mattresses flapping on the back, weaving in and out of traffic like a maniac. I highly doubt they made it to their destination with mattresses intact. We also saw a three wheel motorcycle with an older man and woman riding, with a walker strapped to the back. If you need a walker - GET IN A CAR. Crazy. So our next hotel destination was Omni Hotel Chicago.
Sunset view from our fifth floor room
The Omni is an all suite hotel I believe, with valet service and a fancy pants bar and restaurant on the fourth floor. First of all, the address is 676 Michigan Avenue, which might be where the mailbox is, but it is NOT where the drive up valet is. So we drove past it first, in downtown lunch traffic and had to navigate around a block or two, through the maniac pedestrians to get back to the hotel.  The valet/front of the hotel is on Heron NOT Michigan. Valet parking was $54 which is insane, but what else are you going to do if you don't live there and don't know where else to park? Luckily we're getting that cost back. So the hotel room opens into a living area with a desk and wetbar with a fully stocked fridge. The bathroom is nice and then the bedroom was a king sized bed (yay) with a pocket door leading to the bathroom and french double doors leading to the living area. It was pretty nice. The views are obviously of other large hotels and downtown buildings, but it's still a pretty nice view.

Photos of Omni Chicago Hotel, Chicago
Omni Hotel, Living area

Photos of Omni Chicago Hotel, Chicago
Omni Hotel, wet bar

Photos of Omni Chicago Hotel, Chicago
Omni Hotel, bedroom

Photos of Omni Chicago Hotel, Chicago
Omni Hotel, pocket door into bathroom
The Omni only offers free wifi in the reception area and if you join their membership program (free). I wasn't interested in that, and honestly, for as much as these hotel rooms with valet wifi and maybe even free breakfast doesn't seem like too much to ask. We'd never stay here on our own, but it was a really nice hotel. We caught a cab and headed to the Cubs game right around noon, to meet our vendor contact and go into the game together. They have a suite at Wrigley so that was...pretty awesome. I had never been to Wrigley before, so that was pretty fun and it was a beautiful day for a baseball game.
Wrigley entrance

cubs vs reds
The suite had beer and drinks and free food and excellent seats. The outside seating area had a little heater over it, which was great because it was shaded and kind of breezy. I brought a cute jacket/blazer thing to wear over my summery outfit which worked out perfectly. The game went to 14 innings. FOURTEEN. We did the seventh inning stretch TWICE. Around inning 11 the rest of our group left to go to a bar, but the husband and I waited it out. We weren't really that interested in the bars and I kind of wanted the full game experience. Well, the Cubs WON and I say it's because we stuck it out. :) It was pretty fun.  We caught a cab a couple blocks from the stadium and headed back to the hotel. We weren't really in the mood to wander around hunting for a restaurant, so we headed to the fourth floor 676 Bar & Restaurant. Very swanky.
Diet Pepsi

View from the 676 Restaurant
The husband had New York Strip steak and I had Lake Michigan White Fish. The restaurant cooks only with locally sourced food which was kinda cool and weird at the same time. I bet that gets difficult in the snowy winter. Both were fantastic. Super delicious and perfectly cooked. My diet pepsi came with the extra in that fancy vase thing, which was weird and fancy. It was expensive, but considering we are being reimbursed for most of the rest of the expenses, we treated ourselves. We could see a giant Apple store out the window of the restaurant and it was really really great food. We probably under-tipped because of the price of everything, but I couldn't make myself do more given what the bill was anyway. It was nice...not something we'd do that often, but it was nice. We were tired from all the driving the last couple days and navigating our way around Chicago and enjoying the game. So we headed up to the room to lounge and then sleep. The husband had more work things Friday morning, and then I checked us out when he was on his way back, we got our car out of the valet and we were done with Chicago.

When we arranged the trip, we sent the kids with the husbands parents for Wed/Thursday night. But they needed to leave to see my sister in law in Georgia, and they wanted to leave on Saturday. They would have stayed for us if necessary but we didn't want to hold them up. So we arranged for my dad and his wife to pick up the girls and take them Friday night. That gave us an extra day to go to IKEA and the Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora. So Friday morning we left the Omni and headed north to Schaumburg.

I hadn't been to this IKEA since my oldest was less than a year old. We go to the Minneapolis IKEA sometimes when we're up there for the Mall of America but its not quite the same as this one. I didn't want to bore the husband, so I had a plan of what I was looking for before we got there. We started with lunch in the cafe, which was good, but disorganized. Then we headed to shopping. I wanted to make a full lap, but not linger anywhere other than the spots I knew I wanted to buy from. So I bought a set of pink magazine holders for the oldest girl, for her desk under her new loft. Then we headed to the chests of drawers. I had looked at the HEMNES 5-drawer chest as a sort of supplemental storage solution for the husband, our new dresser is awesome, but he could use a bit more space. The we saw the BRUSALI 4-drawer. My intention was to put it in our room, where the laundry basket was and move that out to the hall for better access for the kids, but when we did all that, it was just taking up too much space. So..I cleaned out my closet a bit and made room for it just inside. It's perfect. He puts his underwear and work tshirts in the top three drawers, freeing up a drawer in our main dresser, I took the bottom drawer for my workout clothes. I cleaned out my hanging clothes and shoes, which was an added bonus. Yay. I love it.

IKEA chest
Next we found ourselves in the TV stand area of IKEA. It wasn't my intention to stop here, nor to buy anything, but we'd been talking about replacing the basement stand that the husband built ten years ago with something smaller for our new tv.  We needed something at a particular height, that could hold a 60" TV and had a space for the center speaker to be underneath the TV as well as extra spaces for the XBOX, PS3, DirecTV box and Receiver. Some extra storage would be ok too. So we found one that would work great..and then we found another that worked better...and then we found the BESTA. That link isn't exactly right, but it's the closets I could find. It looks just like that, but there are 3 shelves in each spot. It's actually a cabinet with 6 shelves and then an extra one with 3 shelves. We put a door on one of them to hide our junk. It's working perfectly. It cleans up the space and holds everything perfectly.
IKEA tv stand

It was a great IKEA trip. I'm kind of hoping I can get another trip in sometime soon, with my mother in law. We'd have such a great time, just she and I. Maybe a trip for her birthday or something in November, if the snow/weather isn't awful. We then headed to the Outlet malls in Aurora, stopping in Naperville to check into our Best Western Naperville hotel. It was a typical Best Western, not super fancy, great deal, nice room and easy to find. I didn't take any pictures because you all know what a BW looks like. The front desk girl was super friendly so our checkin was easy and quick. We rested a bit and then headed to the shopping. I got quite a few things, but I think I'll save that for another post. We shopped until we couldn't anymore, and then we headed to Panera to take some dinner to the hotel and we called it a night. We checked out Saturday morning and headed back to our children. Chicago was fun, but it was time to go home.