Thursday, May 23, 2013

Closet Remodel Using Rubbermaid HomeFree Series

Jon and I recently completed a renovation in our master closet. We are really enjoying the results, so I want to share with you the products that we used and provide some tips should you choose to take on this project:

STEP 1: What don't you like about your closet? How do you envision your new space?
The picture below shows the downside of our closet before the remodel. At left: Although I had two full racks of space on my wall, many of my sentimental items were hidden by clothes. Middle: I wasted hanging space with a shoe bin. At right: The other two walls housed only one rack of hanging space. After making these observations, we deducted that my husband wanted more hanging space and I wanted more shelving.

STEP 2: Take measurements and create a basic sketch and/or shopping list.
After previewing products on and, I created the sketch below. It served as our shopping list when we went to Lowe's. Once there, we did veer from the original plan somewhat. The drawers (shown as the measured boxes) were not in stock. Plus, once things started to total up, we were not willing to pay over $100 for them.

STEP 3: Gather necessary tools
A drill is essential. A level is helpful when hanging the support system. Use a stud finder to locate wood, which is when wood screws are used. When there is not wood, dry wall anchors and screws are used.

STEP 4: Installing the support system
The first item to go up is the top rail. This involved some work because two of the walls called for two to overlap, which involves aligning the holes and making sure both rails were level. Once the railing is up, the uprights are installed 22 inches apart from each other. The nice thing is that the rail cover is the perfect measuring tool.

STEP 5: Brackets & shelving
After some trial and error, we found that the shelving previously installed in our closet worked with the Rubbermaid 12-in FastTrack Bracket. An up close look is provided in the image below. So the only shelving we bought was the HomeFree Series 4-ft Adjustable Mount Wire Shelving Kits, which we used on the entire back wall and as vertical storage on each side. This is a great way to stack jeans, store items in bins, display purses, or house jewelry boxes.

The adjustable shelving was simple to install. The overlap (above right) is not as obvious as I thought it would be.

I love the storage on the back wall. Eventually I would like baskets to store belts and small items.

Above left is my side of the closet. I used the shelving that used to be on the back wall on the bottom, which allows space for dresses to hang from the top rack. Above right is my husband's side of the closet.

Not including tools and paint (no more baby blue!), this project cost around $450 and was accomplished over a weekend. Our next project will be painting our kitchen cabinets white. I am excited, but so nervous!

Have a great weekend! :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

One Mango Tree Twisted Hobo - Little Bottles

One Mango Tree Twisted Hobo - Little Bottles

My shopping happiness used to be fulfilled by steeply discounted sale finds. However, this full price (plus shipping @ $8.95) purchase brings a better rush of joy, because it comes from an ethical company that I know is deserving of my business. One Mango Tree offers items that are sewn by artisans who are paid generously, are respected, and have an improved life because of their employer. Transparent, empowering, thoughtful...these are just some of the words that come to mind when I read about the working conditions at One Mango Tree. Here is my favorite example of what generated those thoughts:

"In 2011, as most people in Northern Uganda had returned to their villages, we wanted to give our One Mango Tree tailors the same opportunities. Many women had come to rent homes in town to work for One Mango Tree, and only saw their families occasionally. They missed their children, and longed to be back in the village, digging their gardens and being home with their kids. We decided to implement a work-from-home program, allowing each tailor to return home with her sewing machine. The ladies still come together once a week, now in our production manager's (Apiyo Prisca) home. They pick up cut pieces of fabric to make handbags, and bring the finished pieces back the following week."
Source: Uganda Workshops

Exploring the "about" pages at One Mango Tree gives you an immediate sense of connection. You are united with everyone and everything that relates to the company. The staff and the artisans greet you with warm smiles. As mentioned above, you are provided with a look into the working environment. Additionally, both creator and consumer are given the unique opportunity to connect via a "thank you" message.

This is perfect for those that frequent the beach or poolside. The overall length measures about 29", with a width of just over 12" (which expands due to the 6" depth) and length of 14" (measured from bottom seam to strap seam).

Padre immediately claimed the bag as his own. He loves to dig his claws into fabrics, so I had to save this from the damage he could have wreaked.

Each bag is adorned with a tag that reveals the artisan. A big thank you to Ajok Lucy! :) I imagine that Ajok and her coworkers must be so proud and blissful when they are sewing.

I will leave you with this line from the "What We Do" page:

"Every dollar we spend shapes our world. We can choose to support ethical manufacturing by refusing to settle for cheap, fast fashion and by seeking a deeper connection to the people who make the things we buy. We work to educate consumers on the importance of this choice and the impact of conscious consumerism."

To find out if One Mango Tree is available near you, check the stocklists page

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Closet Remodel, Shopping Lists and Personal Challenge

My husband and I did our own closet remodel in February. Part of the process involved removing everything in order to prep the work space. I took this a step further and sorted my items into piles of keep, maybe, and giveaway. As I looked at the latter two, disappointment and regret settled in. Clearly I was making poor choices and buying items that I did not truly cherish. I resolved that in the future I would only buy items that I love regardless of the price (within reason) from a carefully thought out list. Going further with this, I challenge myself to only patronize companies who are transparent about their social and ethical stance. I am also considering trying out sewing to change the look of items that wound up in the piles of shame. So here's to new habits...

Summer List
dresses with sleeves (purchased)
casual purse with no hardware (purchased)
strapless bra and bralette
no more than 2 of the following, preferably neutral and patternless:
tanks, sandals, shorts, skirts

Seattle List
walking shoes
zipper hoodie (purchased)
wedding guest dress

By the way...look out for a closet remodel post this month (UPDATE: see post here). Along with pictures, it will include the tools and products we used. Here is a peek at how the new system helped maximize the space of our back closet wall, which used to have just one clothing rack shelf along the top.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

J. Crew Skinny Fleece Pant

J. Crew skinny fleece pant in heather steel, xxs

Those with my body type will not find the xxs "about-town worthy". These are just fine if you plan on lounging around the house, though. In my eyes, the biggest flaw is the ridiculous mock fly. I want to scold it as being unnecessary extra fabric in the pubic bone region, but perhaps I just chose the wrong size. Another warning, the color is not as pictured.

Item Measurements: 14" waist, 28.5" inseam

Monday, May 6, 2013

J. Crew Tartine Purse Review

J. Crew Tartine Purse, vintage navy

Similar in function to the Tillary, the Tartine can be worn crossbody, over the shoulder, or used as a clutch. The last image in this post is the most accurate color representation. Overall, this is a beautiful and easy to pair bag that will get lots of use both day and night.

I would like to highlight two negatives, though. First, I am disappointed in the condition of my bag out of the box. The detachable straps were resting on the bag during the shipping process, resulting in indentations in the leather (see pic below, left image). Also important to note, you can see in that same image below (at right) that the leather must be handled carefully, as scratches seem to show easily.

Use code SUNSHINE for 30% off spring sale items. Ends Fri., 5/10

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tragedy and Change: Bangladesh

As a history teacher, I know very well that it unfortunately takes a tragedy to cause change. The building collapse in Bangladesh immediately brought to mind the 1911 Triangle Waist Company factory fire in New York. It was a time in the U.S. when businesses were not regulated heavily, so buildings did not always feature the highest safety provisions possible. Cornell University has a great web exhibit, including this map of the 9th floor that will make your skin tingle and blood boil. The fire spurred protests for more rights and safer conditions for workers. We have increased building safety because of this and other tragedies in our past.

What will the events in Bangladesh bring? Hopefully, more people will start holding companies accountable for ensuring that safety regulations are being implemented in their factories. From what I have read in the article, It's Not Easy to Identify ‘Ethical Clothing’, to do so is "costly and time-consuming". For me, this tragedy is a push to branch out and find companies that are especially mindful of the rights and safety of others. But this may be a difficult task, as the aforementioned article states:

"Few companies sell clothing that’s “ethically made,” or marketed as being made in factories that maintain safe working conditions. In fact, such clothes make up a tiny fraction of 1 percent of the overall $3 trillion global fashion industry."

Please share any resources or thoughts on the topics of Bangladesh or ethics in the comments.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

TKEES Foundations Flip Flop

TKEES Foundations Flip Flop, 8 in cocobutter

These will be returned. The left shoe arrived with a piece of the leather distorted. I am usually a 7 or 7.5. After reading reviews on, I decided to go for an 8. Either a 7 or 8 probably would have worked. The straps on the 8 were slightly little loose, but I was not slipping out of them. If it were not for that janky strap, I probably would have kept them. But due to that defect, I started thinking about the purchase more and came to the conclusion that spending $50 on such a basic shoe was not what I wanted to do. It actually caused me to change my search from a nude pair to two pairs: gold and silver.

If a simple nude sandal is what you are looking for, I discovered (after this purchase) that GAP has a pair of leather flips flops that are half the price I paid. Plus, there is usually some promotion going on to reduce the price further.

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