Category Archives: House / Kitchen & Dining

Spice Drawer Organization with Mini Jelly Jars

Am I the only one who can’t stand the three-tiered spice racks that go in a cabinet?  My mom has two – and I’m always knocking spices over when I try to reach for something on the second or third row.

Spice Drawer Organization

My spices have always lived in the top drawer by the stove.  It’s a shallow drawer, but the location is ideal when I’m cooking.  And it sure beats using those tiered racks.

This drawer was shallow so I had to lay the jars on their sides.  It worked, but because they were sideways, I’d often open the lid of a spice and spill it, because the lid had filled up. Also, it drove me crazy that the containers were all different shapes and sizes:

Spice Drawer BeforeI discovered that the 4-Oz Ball Jelly Jars fit perfectly in the shallow drawer, since they’re only a few inches tall.  Three dozen jars later, I have a very pretty – and functional – spice drawer!

Bonus: they’re now so easy to use when measuring with teaspoons or table spoons, thanks to the wide mouth of the jars.

Spice Drawer Organization with Ball Jars

I used these Round Chalkboard Labels on the lids because they were simple and relatively cheap.  The set of 48 came with a chalkboard marker, and are waterproof but can be wiped clean and reused.

Spice Drawer Organization with Ball Jars

I didn’t mean to get so fancy with the labels.  But as I wrote on them, I started doodling – so I just went for it.  I love how my spice drawer turned out.

Linking up in the IHeart Organizing February Organizing Party!

Kitchen Organizing: Cheap vs. Pricey Storage Solutions

This is not a promotional or sponsored post and there are no affiliate links. I am just sharing my recent experience.

Do you ever go to the Container Store?  I love that place but it can be a minefield of expensive gadgets and too much inspiration.  I usually come home from there feeling that I need to completely tear apart every closet and drawer in the house and reorganize it.

I recently went there to tackle one item on my 2014 Project List.  I ended up buying both fancy and simple organizers. Some fancy ones were perfect, some were a total waste and got returned.  Some of the cheap, simple ones were perfect.  I thought you might find this info useful.

1.  Undersink Storage

The challenge:  Because of the pipes and the hose dangling from the sprayer faucet, I needed particular sizes of containers and I needed to go vertical with storage.

My cabinet houses the following:

  • Trash
  • Cleaning supplies – bottles and rags
  • Used batteries and wine corks for recycling

I wanted to make better use of the right side space near the sprayer faucet’s hose.  It was a narrow, tall corner that was otherwise going to waste.


The Linus clear plastic stacking bins from The Container Store were one of the pricey containers I bought, but they were perfect for the space.  The bottom holds old batteries, then sponges, then the top holds wine corks. I added the bottom of a cardboard box to enable the top caddy to hold lots of corks.


Total cost – $21, which is high for such simple storage, but the containers are solid and can be reused a lot down the road – if we ever move out.

Here’s the finished result.  Trash on left.  Cleaning supplies in the middle.  Rags on the right.  Corks/Batteries in the back right.  Reusable plastic grocery bags in the back left.  So exciting, I know.


I must admit that seeing this super tidy photo makes me so happy.

 2.  Freezer Storage

The challenge: Organize. I’m constantly losing track of what’s in the freezer, or I have to pull everything out of a shelf to get to the one item I need.

I wanted to pop the bags of frozen veggies up to the higher shelf to make it easy to sort through.  I bought some fancypants Linus Deep Drawer Binz that measured out perfectly. But when I put them in the freezer they felt cumbersome, heavy and awkward.  At $17 each, they were a waste:


On a whim I tried putting two cheap ($1.89) shoe boxes on the shelf instead.  They were perfect! Unopened frozen veggies in the back bin, opened and ziplocked veggies in the front. This way I can keep the oldest ones in front to use up. Freezer Frozen Veggie Bin StorageThe idea of spending $4 to organize the veggies in the freezer is so much less ridiculous than spending $32, you know?

Here’s a few more ways I organized my freezer, in case you’re curious:

Freezer Storage Ideas

The left image is the bottom half of the freezer:

  • I have another $2 bin for bags of frozen meat and fish on the shelf. Again, I like the bin because I can pull it out to sort through.
  • The top wire drawer holds frozen vegetarian proteins – beans, lentils, tofu, etc.
  • The bottom drawer holds miscellaneous, and a big ziplock bag filled with blocks of veggie broth. (I made the broth and froze it in cupcake tins so that I have it all portioned out.)

In the door:

  • Tin foil & wax paper that I use to wrap and freeze pizza.  I reuse the foil & wax paper, so storing it in the freezer cuts down on germs.
  • Ziplock bags that I reuse.  Same concept.  Store in freezer after washing.
  • The bottom shelf holds jars of homemade herb-infused salts and sugars.

A Final Tip:

I leave all labels and packaging on organizing containers when I’m setting up a space.  That way, if I get things set up, live with it for a few days, and then hate it, I can still return the items and find something better.

Also, sometimes I like store bought organizing containers, but I’m also a big fan of DIY organizing containers.  When you’re tackling a space, always look at what trash or recycling you could use!  Old cardboard boxes, plastic take-out containers, etc can work wonders!

Wow. This post ended up much longer than planned.  Well, I hope you find some ideas from it useful. I have lots of opinions on organizing, and I could just organize all day long if given the opportunity! :)

Trash to Treasure: Danish Modern Dining Chair Refurbish

Danish Modern Chair Trash to Treasure | The Borrowed Abode

Remember that time I subjected my dogs to my trash-picking habit, when I found some Danish Modern chairs on the side of the road? Danish Modern Chairs in Trash | The Borrowed Abode

It was on the way home from an out-of-town wedding.  I saw these three “beauties” set out for the trash collection, and I knew they deserved a second chance.Fixing Danish Modern Chairs | The Borrowed Abode

Turns out it was worth it, to us humans at least, because these chairs were a collectible Danish modern brand from Denmark.  More importantly than any financial value, they were the perfect style for our dining area.Uldum Mobelfabrik Danish Modern Chairs | The Borrowed Abode

Once I removed the upholstered seats and backs, the chair frames showed years of failed DIY repair attempts by the previous owners.

Construction of Danish Modern Chairs | The Borrowed Abode

The photo above shows the part of the chair that held the seat.  From L to R:

1.  The photo on the left shows the original hardware.  The left and right side rails each were supposed to have two metal pins sticking out of them.  The seat cushion would sit on top, and a screw would go through the metal pin and up into the bottom of the seat cushion.

2 & 3:  Someone tried to use both wooden dowels and hard plastic tubes in place of some of the metal pins.

Fortunately I was able to steal enough metal pins (and other hardware) from the armchair (which turned out to be beyond repair) so I could fix the two no-arm chairs.

LESSON LEARNED:  If you’re rescuing furniture from the trash, take all the pieces including the ones beyond repair, so that you can harvest parts from them.

Moving on to the rest of the chair frames. . .

Damaged Danish Modern Chairs | The Borrowed Abode

In the photos above, the issues are as follows (clockwise from top left):

Top 2 Photos Above:  The armchair was a lost cause, with serious structural damage “repaired” with clumps of glue and plastic wood filler.

Bottom 2 Photos Above:  The seat backs were held into each frame with wooden dowels and/or screws.  However, the holes that held the dowels were so shattered that the owners had tried to repair them with huge clumps of plastic wood, painter’s tape (???!!) and bent metal plates.

I decided to strengthen all the holes by sandwiching them between flat metal plates, held together with nuts and bolts.  There’s no way a screw can rip through them when too much pressure is applied by the seat-sitter. Fixing Seat Back Danish Modern Chairs | The Borrowed Abode

After sanding the backs down, I screwed one plate onto the “front” side, and the screws went through far enough that I was able to attach a plate to them on the back side too.  I secured the plate on the back with nuts.

Fixing Seat Back Danish Modern Chairs | The Borrowed Abode

I repeated the process with all four holes on each of the two seat backs.  When I was done, the holes where the seat backs would be screwed into the chair frames were seriously secure.

Time to refinish the frames!  I sanded them down and then rubbed on a few coats of teak oil. I just love refinishing old wood. Refinishing Danish Modern Chair Frames | The Borrowed Abode

Left: After     Right: Before

I’m not an upholstery expert, so I sort of winged it on the reupholstery.  I simply wrapped the existing plywood frames first in thin, 1/2 inch foam, then covered that with a layer of quilt batting.  I stapled it all in place.

Then the seats got wrapped in a plush silver velvet, and that was stapled to the bottom.Reupholstering Danish Modern Chair Frames | The Borrowed Abode

The backs got wrapped in Robert Allen Freja Floral fabric.  They were a bit trickier because only the sides would be hidden from view.  So I wrapped the seat backs, and made sure I folded the edges of the fabric in a tidy way along each side before stapling.  The bottom of each seat back had a groove in it, so for the final seam I tucked the loose ends in, folded them under neatly again, and stapled.

Refurbished Uldum Mobelfabrik Danish Modern Chairs | The Borrowed Abode

In the photo above, you see that screws hold the top of the seat back to the frame.  The bottom of the back is held with a wooden peg.   I still need to find wooden plugs to fit the holes and cover the screws.

After the reupholstery, I found the spot in the seat back where the peg should go, then tore the fabric a little and wedged the wooden peg in.  I sealed the fabric around it with FrayCheck.

In retrospect I should have put the pegs in before reupholstering, but this worked.

Now I have two lovely mid-century dining chairs at our dining table.  Because I used fabric I already had, the project cost me less than $30.

Mid-Century Modern Dining Chair & Table | The Borrowed Abode

When people come over, I proudly say to them “Let me show you the chairs I found in the trash!”  I have never been ashamed to bring new life to old, discarded furniture.  

Updated Rental Home Tour: Living Room, Dining, Kitchen

June is my blogiversary month, and May marked the end of our third year in this little rental home.  Three years of living here, and four of blogging? Holy cow. Where on earth does the time go?!

Since it’s been three years since I moved in and shared a full house tour, I’ll be giving you an updated tour over the next few days.

Living Room

When we first crossed the threshold of this rental home, the light streaming through the huge living room window had us at hello. IMG_8609

Entryway Details & Projects:

Living Room Details & Projects:

When I did a budget breakdown for the entire space, I was thrilled to find that this entire space cost only $745.

Dining “Area”

The living area opens straight into the dining and kitchen areas, contributing a loft-like feeling to the main floor. It was challenging to find a dining table that fits comfortably in the space, which is short and narrow.



Dining Room Details & Projects:


The kitchen, on the other hand, is perfect, and it’s definitely not your average rental kitchen.  I haven’t really had to do much with it.

DSC_0222 DSC_0224

Kitchen Details:

And that’s about it for these public spaces in the house. Hope to see you back soon for the next part of the tour!