Ashley Cook

Author: A Cook (page 1 of 8)

Downsizing for the big reno

Over the past 3 (?!?) years I’ve been doing bits and pieces of the house renovation. Small projects here, a room or two there. It has been slow and steady but there’s only so many small things you can do with wood paneling. Now I’m ready for some big changes to happen. As I prep to renovate the first floor (all together, one shot!) one of the first steps is to clear off the level of the house.

For this upcoming renovation I need to clear off an entire level of my home which has more than just small items. I had planned that this would eventually occur and had a lot of furniture that I wouldn’t be sad to get rid of. And that brings me to what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks: removal of all furniture items from my first floor.

Cute but lots of stuff & wood paneling.

It’s really hard to not accumulate stuff. One of my ways to manage this is to keep a tub in the basement year round and when I decide I don’t want something it goes straight into the bin! Annually my neighborhood association has a big yard sale which is a perfect opportunity to empty out my bin and catch up with my neighbors. This works well for small things and to keep extra stuff from accumulating. But still I look around and there was a lot of furniture, freebies, things gifted from friends and family, impulse purchases, and magazines!

Eek who has a good photo form any yard sale.

So how exactly do you get rid of all of that furniture and unwanted items? You can either trash it or find it a new home. I can call the city and they’ll take up to 3 large items for hauling to the dump. While that’s easy, I have more than 3 large items and they’re still good furniture, just not things I want to incorporate in my final design. There’s a number of way to sell these items and I’ve used a number of different means over the years.

  1. Yard Sales
  2. Online
  3. Word of Mouth

This time around I didn’t do any yard sales but rather focused on online sales and word of mouth. I was able to offload a lot of the furniture to a mutual friend who was moving a needed a lot of items which I could conveniently provide for cheaper than buying new (throwing in delivery was a huge plus too!). For the rest of the items (like all those bookcases I was using as kitchen cabinets) I found I had a lot of luck online. For large items you’re likely going to be selling it to someone local to you. And there’s a number of places to sell things online and I think which is more useful depends on what area you’re in. When I was living in another state Craigslist was the go to for local resell. Where my house is located I find I’m having the best luck with the local Facebook yard sale group. Between that group and move in time at my alma mater I was able to find new homes (and excited new owners) for my furniture that has served me so well these past few years.

There’s a few perks for doing it this way, in my opinion. You get to help connect people with items that otherwise would cost more $$. And there’s a big reusable components to it too. By reusing the furniture there’s one less item going into the city landfill and less new furniture that has to be produced. On the other hand, this does requires running all over town to either deliver large items or taking them to public locations to meet people you’ve never met before. It also assumes that your furniture is in good enough condition for someone else to use it. A huge help in tips for selling items and how to price & take photos came from reddit. This was a really cool board that I found with a ton of helpful information.

As I move through the house there’s a number of other places I’ve found useful to removing items from the house that aren’t suitable to be sold. Below are my favorite places for each category:

Light Bulbs: Best Buy or Home Depot. You take them to the customer service counter or sometimes they’ll have drop boxes for them

Small electronics / appliances: Best Buy. See the customer service counter and they will recycle things like old keyboards, cables, and even small stereos.

House Construction: Second Chance, Loading Dock, Habitat Restore! Look for local places that specialize in de-construction. Usually they have storefronts which are great to buy cheaper cabinets, doors, and the like, but you can also donate good items that you remove from your current home.

Textiles: This is my current exciting find. We have a textile recycling company in our area. Basically they take clothes and worn textiles (not pillows or mattresses) by the pound and sell reusable clothing cheaply to people in need of it. And for items not deemed usable they break it down into the fibers for recycling. Here’s one for the DMV (MAC recycling).

Are there any other items that you’ve had trouble finding homes for? I’m still looking for things to do with old pillows. That’s the one thing I haven’t found a way to get rid of it besides throwing them away.

Next step for me: boxing up everything I’m keeping!

The tree that lived!

I wanted to hold off on this one until I was sure that it was going to live. At this point we have green leaves. I repeat we have new green leaves!

Some backstory. I really like tree lined streets. I think they bring a life to our cement city blocks (something to decorate for the holidays), they help decrease the temperature (read: lower AC bill!), and are generally nice to look at. Long story short, I want a tree.

Trees make for great photos

Disclaimer: not my tree, but another random tree in the city

With the help of P we found that in the tree plan for our neighborhood the house was originally scheduled to have a tree pit outside our front door. Bingo. Off went an email into the ether asking the city to come dig our tree pit! We could have hired someone to dig the pit for us (or maybe done it ourselves? unclear from the city website), but I’m not in a hurry and winter was approaching. After some waiting and pinging the city to see what the deal was. Answer: there’s a waitlist for tree pits, you get added to the list and X number of tree pits get dug each year. Sit back and wait it out.

My new tree pit! Complete with the don’t trip in me cone.

To my great surprise, so much so I couldn’t be bothered to take a good picture, I came home to this December 5th. Not to waste, since we had a warmer December, a tree was delivered on the 14th. Now I assumed I would have to go get a tree to fill it in the spring. I never thought we should plant a tree in December.

The December tree

Actually the next photo in my phone is putting up Christmas decorations. It was late in the year for this tree to get planted. And to be fair it looked a lot like a big twig for the next few months as it weathered an icing later that week and some snow after the first of the year.

The tree that lived!

And I’m happy to announce my tree is alive, well, and growing! One win for using city services!

Look Mom! I made a spoon!

Photos from my class at the Station North Tool Library last night. The basic premise is you take a block of wood and carve our a spoon using the bandsaw, chisel, and a lot of sanding. Top it off with some mineral oil and you have a pretty spoon (or more of a spatula spoon).


My outline drawn on my block of mahogany

Side profile

Side profile

My spoon!

My spoon!



New floors (in one spot)!

I’ve finally laid some flooring, just not inside the house. I’ve been outside more to water my tomato plants. In doing so I have developed a deep dislike for the outdoor rug I had outside the back door. It was nice to not stand on the cement (especially when it was hot), but the rug was always wet (maybe it wasn’t an outdoor rug…) and slowly being bleached by the sun. It wasn’t pretty.

Insert a run to Ikea, where I found a easy option to spruce up the look of the back porch, and also felt good to stand on while watering the plants. I ended up choosing the Runnen floor decking (and they were on end of the summer sale!) in brown. I love this color and may end up using a similar on for my other backyard ideas in the future.


They look even better in person! These took me all of 10 minutes to lay and snap into place. And a large part of that 10 minutes was figuring out how to move the massive planter with my tomato plants.

The final product:


It was so easy to lay, I have to decide if I’ll be taking it up for winter. But that’s for another night. For now I’ll just enjoy my new wood flooring.

Fall Festive Door Hanger

I keep seeing cute pots and front doors on my runs around the neighborhood. While I like the idea of a wreath, I have yet to see any that I would like to have on my door. The other night while searching the world of Pinterest I ran across this cute sunflower door hanger that was once for sale on Etsy but now only another image on the internet.

This is a great opportunity to try my hand at doing something crafty for a change. My chance came with a sale at Michael’s which is convenently down the street. I took this photo as my inspiration and gathered the tools I thought I’d need.


I already had the large wire cutters in the basement (yes they’re overkill, but it’s what I had). I picked up fake sunflowers, small red flowers, the stems of fall colored beads, burlap ribbon, and the floral wire at Michael’s. It must have been my lucky day in the ribbon isle, as I was looking at various types of burlap ribbon I noticed this roll over in the clearance bin, meaning it only cost me $1.

All pieces in hand I set about constructing the door hanger. I would set the pieces as I thought looked good and then wrapped the parts with the floral wire to keep it in place. To keep the beads on the string in the correct locations I hot glued them to the back of the flowers. I also followed bow tutorial (with the help of the hot glue gun again) to make the bow.

Ta da!


All and all I’m pleased with the way this turned out. And while it was pretty simple, this one is going to stay on the door until we’re well into the fall, or at least until I get inspiration for another door decor item. Perhaps something like this come Halloween:


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