Monthly Archives: November 2009

Here Comes Christmas!

Happy Almost-December!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!
I had a great Thanksgiving holiday and vacation, celebrating with not one, but two fabulous meals.  Thursday we joined my brother and his new wife for dinner with his in-laws.  My little brother and his wife hosted magnificently.  Friday was spent cooking  with my mom in preparation for a fabulous Thanksgiving-take-two on Saturday with my family, the boyfriend, and close family friends.  All around the age of my parents, these family friends have been like family to my brother and me since we were born, and get-t0gethers with them are always enjoyable.   

Despite the multitude of festivities, I did manage to get some Christmas crafts started last week.  Here’s a sneak peek at what’s to come this week at the Borrowed Abode:

I helped the planet, and my wallet, crafting some holiday votive candle holders out of materials I had around the house: 

Homemade holiday votives shed a cozy glow.

 I “spruced” up my home for the holidays with free greenery from my neighborhood:

Fresh greenery pops in clean white pots.

 I brainstormed ways to create small modern-style trees inspired by this tree at Young House Love:

Image courtesy of

And I bought a great new e-book written by Katie of Making This Home.  I highly recommend it! Click the link in the sidebar for more info!

Tons of holiday ideas!

Baby, it’s cold inside!

Photo courtesy of Sierrra Club

This winter I’ve challenged myself to use as little energy as possible heating my home.  Not only am I trying to be eco-friendly, I’m also trying to avoid the situation that I was faced with last spring.  Here’s a quick recap:

To be perfectly blunt, last fall I ended a relationship.  During December and January I stayed with my boss.  When I moved back to the borrowed abode in February (after the ex had moved out) I was horrified to see the electric bills for Dec/Jan.  During most months electric cost $15-$30.  As I paid off the over $700 in electric charges for those two months (the bill was in my name, and he didn’t help with it) I promised myself I would absolutely be as efficient as possible in the coming winter.

Here’s the scoop on my heating setup:

In my condo each room has its own heater / AC unit installed in the wall below the window.  You know how motels and hotels have those large rectangular units in the walls?  Just like that.   What’s it like, you ask?


  • With a unit in each room, I have the ability to only heat or cool the room that I’m in.  That keeps costs low, and saves the  planet just a bit.


  • I have six rooms in my condo – two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, dining room, kitchen.  Only the living room and bedrooms have HVAC units.
  • Bathroom – all tile walls and floors –  is FREEZING in winter.  No heat source.  I can not describe to you how miserable it is.
  • The kitchen opens to dining room which opens to living room, so the living room is really the only room that gets warm when I turn the LR HVAC on.
  • The unit in my bedroom and the living room are relatively new, so let’s assume they’re somewhat energy efficient.  Oh wait – my landlord  bought the ones that do NOT have thermostats. So they’re either on or off.  No energy-saving compromise.
  • The unit in the guest room is ancient.  I mean it may remember having FDR as a president.  I assume it’s incredibly inefficient.   And it too has no thermostat.

As you can see, this system doesn’t have much going for it.  Which is why tonight I am sitting here ice cold as I type this post.  Refusing to run a heating unit that won’t even heat the space I’m in, I’vd donned my fleece winter camping thermals, thick wool socks, slippers, and a kitten on my lap.  Oh wait – that last one is just a bonus.

I may never live down the shame of admitting this, but:  I totally get why I grew up in an ice-cold home.  My parents were oh-so-smart to keep the thermostat low, telling us to wear more layers for warmth. In our large old stone house there was no way to heat it efficiently.  Well, it would have helped if they’d shelled out the dough to replace all the original glass windows with new ones, but they’ll never agree with me.  And that’s fine, because while their new-construction home in the “active adult community” may have been built crappily and quickly, it’s warm.  So as of Tuesday night I’ll be typing toastily for the holiday week.

But I digress. . .  tonight, in my crazy getup, that I’ve decided something.  Over Thanksgiving I’m going to purchase two space heaters:  one bathroom-safe heater  and one small heater for my office (formerly dining room).  I don’t need to heat the whole house just to sit at my desk typing.  Now I just have to figure out what kind of unit to buy.  I know it needs to have a shut-off feature if it tips over.  I’m thinking I’ll go with a tiny ceramic one for the office.

So I ask you:  Do any of you have experience with space heaters?  Any units you’d recommend?  Any things you’d warn me about?  Any tips on the most efficient ones out there?

Clutter Control: Closet Clean-up

One night last week I raced home, just giddy at the prospect of spending the evening reorganizing my hall closet.
Sometimes I wonder if maybe I need a life.   Maybe I should get out more, party harder, and spend less time organizing.
Nah, I like my life just the way it is.  I just adore organization projects, and when you live in 900 sq feeet, you have to keep your four closets (yes, just four) neat and tidy.
So I popped a Netflix DVD in my laptop, grabbed a cup of mulled cider and went to town on this mess:

Before: Clutter had gotten out of control.

I pulled everything out of the space and sorted through every box and bin, eliminating everything I didn’t need.  Small-space living requires that you constantly edit your belongings, never letting too much “stuff” accumulate in your life.  In my case, I edit every time I reorganize a space.

I utilized the inside of the door better with an awesome over-the-door caddy and hook contraption I’d found for only $7 at TJ Maxx.  The wire bin holds my laundry detergents and cleaning items perfectly, while the hooks allow easy grabbing of a number of cleaning tools.

Don't overlook the storage options offered by a closet door!

Holiday decor had been stored in a huge plastic tub that was wedged into the bottom of the closet on its side.  I sorted the seasonal items into three green stacking storage bins from around the house – and was shocked and pleased that they fit perfectly into the space.

These cheap little bins from Target fit the bill.

This metal shelf unit had never served much purpose until now.  It was perfect for storing the old jars and tin cans I’ve been hording.  I didn’t want to recycle them when I know I can creatively re-use them.  (Note: if I owned my condo I would have given the closet a bright and cheery coat of paint.  But I don’t, so the walls stayed ugly.)

It's all about using what you already have. This little caddy was perfect for storing project supplies.

One of my first organizing projects in this condo, these little plastic bins (with carry handles) from – where else – Target have done wonders for keeping candles, pet supplies, tools, and camera supplies all contained.   I keep my screws, wall-fasteners, and other tiny hardware bits in little divided boxes – so I can always find whatever bit I’m looking for.

Everything has a place.

Bonus:  I cleared enough space to move my toiletry storage boxes from the bathroom to the closet.  I know they were painted to match the bathroom, but they seemed to trap a bit of hair on the floor.  Clearing that clutter out of the bathroom will make it easier to mop.   The cat littlerbox has to stay there, for lack of a better option, but I eeked out a bit more storage by setting the box on top of a storage bin.

It’s nothing glamorous or exciting, but a clean, organized closet sure makes life a lot easier!  And since I must have the door cracked open for the cat to access the facilities, at least guests will see a peek of an organized, not messy, space.

Everything in its place.

Final Fall Decor

As fall prepares to scoot out on the tail-end of November, here’s a quick peek at the quick-n-easy fall touches that I’d added to my bedroom.
Back in October my mom and I snagged two of these little fall topiaries on a 50% off sale at  Michaels.

 They fit in perfectly on my bedroom dresser, enhancing the color scheme which was already so fall-like.

Two topiaries add a touch of fall to the bedroom.

A vase of faux flowers (also a clearance score at Michaels) added a nice touch on my bedside table.  Until, that is, the kittens attacked them all.

Easy fall decor: a vase of faux flowers on the bedside table.

But today that has all been packed away in preparation for the Christmas decor.  Sometimes the seasons seem to pass by so quickly!