What I’ve Been Doing the Past Couple of Weeks.

Giving up my best friends, getting into gardening mode and coming to terms with the fact that Yeah. I am a little bit Hannibal Lector. What of it?  

This week I said good bye to two of the best friends a girl could ever find in the garbage;  these glorious gold mannequins that look like female Oscars. Every year I’d bring these ladies up from the basement to set on either side of my living room entrance during Oscar night.

There they’d stand while I sat in my carefully selected Oscar outfit (black and white polka dot pajamas last  year) giving hair, makeup and fashion advice to the television while scraping burrito stains off my flannel. 

Every time I would drag them up my 18″ wide medieval staircase I’d get a rush of adrenaline at seeing them in their proper but rarely seen spot upstairs.  So that feeling lasted about 30 seconds, and then dulled to a Gee, I do like having those out on Oscar night, to contempt for them once I had to drag them down the staircase again the next morning. 

My house is what realtors would describe as a modestly sized charming century cottage. Because small house with a death basement is a harder sell. 

Since two life sized blobs of gold take up a lot of room, I had to make a decision while I was cleaning out my basement earlier this month.  Keep them?  Or get rid of them?

Ultimately I decided that reclaiming the extra space they took up was going to make me infinitely happier. I would miss them yes. They’re unique and definitely not something you see every day browsing your Instagram feed. But, I’d had my fun with them and decided to give them away to someone who lives nearby and is also related to me. My niece. I could also easily take her in a kick boxing/hair pulling match so if I ever want them back I’ll just have to put my hair in a ponytail and make sure I’m not wearing big hoop earrings.

Once the basement was cleaned up (and yes after several weeks it’s finally cleaned up) I got to start going through my seeds and organizing them. Part of that was to go through all the dried beans I grew last year to pick out the best seeds for planting next year. I chose the beans I liked the shape, size and colour of best in the hopes I can continue to reproduce those specific qualities. 


If you save seeds, save the ones that have the qualities you want to reproduce. For instance, if you have a short growing season and you have trouble getting things to ripen before frost hits, always save seeds from the very first fruit/vegetable that matured for you. That way you’re reinforcing that quality in the plant the next time you grow it.

I also reorganized all my seeds from my incredibly cute but slightly space hogging glass jar storage, to THESE plastic seed storage boxes.  Which are actually photo storage boxes, but are BRILLIANT for storing seeds.  You can see them on my little potting bench in the photo below.  

16 boxes fit into a case that you can carry around. It’s actually a photo storage box that I first saw years ago somewhere and then again on Homestead & Chill last year.

These ones from Amazon US are made in the USA, in Canada you can get them at Michaels but they’re made in China. 

The other thing I bought to help with the organization and ease of use in my basement is that little potting table you see.  It’s made of hemlock and completely folds up so I can store it away if I want to.

You can get the potting table in the US here for around $85.

You can get it in Canada here. I paid $129 but it’s randomly up to over $160 now! So keep an eye on it to wait for the price to drop back down.


Ready and waiting for seedlings to get started. It’s not time yet here in Zone 6, but it’s coming. 

I washed and laid mats down in the basement so I wasn’t freezing on the cement floor.  These wash and sweep easily so I can just throw them in the washing machine when they get frightening.

Now, after looking at all these photos of my “improved” basement you’re probably thinking it still looks like the kind of place someone would plan to kill, bury, hide or brainwash someone. And you’re right. It does look like that, but I don’t mind. I like a workshop to look like a workshop. The same way I like a cottage to look like a cottage. 

See?  Basement. Total workshop basement.


SINCE cleaning up down  here I’ve been able to lay out all my seed starting stuff so that it’s easy to get to, I’ve actually SCREEN PRINTED a few tea towels and tee shirts, plus my maple syrup making equipment is ready to be grabbed and used when I need it in a couple of months.

How do I find the strength to do all that I do?  Oatmeal. We’ve discussed this before. I wanted to let you in on a tip that I don’t think I shared in my original post on how to make Overnight Oatmeal.

When I make my oatmeal, I don’t just add oats. I add quinoa, wheat berries, and sometimes chia seeds. My friend Jamieson also includes all those things PLUS barley, flax seeds and is thinking of incorporating  “EVERY GRAIN THERE EVER WAS” (in his words.)

So what’s the tip?

If you add other things to your steel cut oats (always keeping a proportion of 1 cup grains to 3 cups liquid), mix everything together and put it in a container so instead of measuring each weird thing out individuallly you can just take a scoop of the premixed grains.

Pretty sexy bandaid shot, right?  Burned it.  I know you were wondering.  On what I don’t know.  I know you were also wondering.  My best guess is the fireplace or the oven, I can’t remember. 

Here are a few more things that got me through the past couple of weeks.

What I've Been Doing the Past Couple of Weeks.

Hopefully  I’ve inspired a few of you to tackle your basements, spare rooms or garages. Remember. Just because you own it doesn’t mean you have to keep owning it.  

Give it away, donate it, sell it or otherwise get rid of it to make space for you to breathe. (We live in a day and age where I can’t use the phrase throw it out for fear of being attacked by hippies wearing only garments they found in a puddle on the road).

But, yeah – if it’s no good to you or anyone else, throw it out. 

Have a goooooooood rest of your weekend!



  1. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Where did you see JoJo Rabbit? Toronto? I can’t seem to find it in a local theatre. I’ve ordered the DVD at my library branch but that could take forever! Thanks 🙂

  2. Kristina says:

    Oh, it must be hard to part with those beauties! Jojo Rabbit is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a very long time. Also, if it makes you feel any better, lemon dishes actually *are* winter foods, if you live where they are grown. It is lemon season right now, and I have two meyer lemon and one lemon tree, bursting with fruit. We are doorbell ditching citrus here in central CA, and if you were my neighbor, I would right now be leaving a large bag of oranges, tangerines, and lemons on your porch and running like hell.

  3. Nantz says:

    Ah, a harbinger of spring— the happy hopeful chatter of carefully saved seeds and gardens waiting to planted! What fun to have your potting area all ready to start seeds. I’m loving these slightly longer days and if this warmer than normal winter keeps up in central Virginia, I think I might plant peas in my garden early and wish them sunny weather.

  4. Geo r g i eb says:

    Great work space, of course the Goldies had to move out. Been kicked out of our big shed into a Shipping container, so I know how they must feel!

  5. Carol O says:

    Really nice job on the basement. Glad you gave us ‘after’ pics to compare with the ‘before’ pics. Gives me inspiration to attack my garage which has become a cluttered jungle. I have workbench envy, your bench is great, with all the tools organized and easily located. I love the vice attached to the bench. I’ve always wanted this kind of bench with vise, as well as the electric thing that has a grinding stone on one side and the wire brush on the other. I’m sure I’d use them for something.

  6. Marcia says:

    The very best part about your basement? The gilded frame over your workbench with what I imagine is a photo of family members. Absolutely love it!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks! But it’s actually a photo of me and Henry Rollins, a spoken word artist and musician. He’s one of the people I interviewed when I was a music reporter. ~ karen!

  7. Brit says:

    I bought the seed (photo) storage box on sale today (26 January) at Michael’s (in No. Calif) for $14.99-usually $41.99. Thank you for the recommendation!

  8. Christine Hilton says:

    I am so proud of you.That looks amazing.l too,had my niece over this week to take things away.l feel so much better if l know where things are going.Would it be wrong to drag strangers down to my basement and only let them go if they took a box of “really good stuff”?

  9. Patti H says:

    Will you come to my house and help me get rid of stuff and organize my basement? It’s so much easier dealing with other people’s stuff as you don’t have to deal with the emotional aspect.

    I’ll even pay you!

  10. Rebecca Holt says:

    You’ve inspired me to organize my office / craft room / don’t know where this belongs? toss it in here / storage room….after I finish reading your blog.

  11. Marci says:

    Is that an old tv or ancient computer monitor in your basement? Those are hard to get rid of especially if they still work but you never use them! Our Salvation Army won’t take them but Best Buy will recycle them.

  12. Linda In illinois says:

    I love your basement. I would live there. Always my inspiration Karen.

  13. Marlene Eastman says:

    ooohh Love the foldaway potting bench. Hubby made me a potting bench years ago, but we left it when we moved (it was heavy as hell!!) I didn’t know folding potting benches existed!!! My back could use one of those this spring!!

    • Karen says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s the sturdiest of tables, lol. But it’ll work fine for what I need it for. I have a big, sturdy (heavy as hell) one that I made that lives in my garden plot and I can do anything on that thing. But I really just need this one to withstand the weight of seeds and my coffee cup. :) ~ karen!

  14. Marilyn Meagher says:

    How liberating to have your basement finally done! It looks great. And I love that the gals stayed in the family.

  15. MichelleR says:

    Made overnight oatmeal and OMG you’re right (who am I kidding of course you’re right). It’s creamy and have just the right amount of chewiness. I made mine with half water and half unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Perfect!!!

  16. vanessa herrick says:

    Hi! Are you going to be selling t-shirts or tea towels? I would love a t-shirt 😊

  17. Mary W says:

    Sorry for your loss (for the one night) and so happy for your gain (for the space). Having a blog where you can look back to see them or visit your niece makes it a little easier. But your basement looks wonderful, rugs and all! I’m sorting seeds and planning a tiny little space in my backyard. It is doubling the tiny little space of a kitchen garden which I began last year and have enjoyed beyond words. I’ve been canning, dehydrating, cooking and freezing since and life has been better than ever. I love a garden! Have a very pleasant and hopeful time with your seeds! Try Rozelle! An annual for you but worth it to try. I also can’t wait for the day that you start making your own vinegar and pass along all that info, also. My favorite and quickest? Pineapple. Pineapple. Pineapple. Now I’m trying *in a huge plastic storage box) pine and orange for a cleaning vinegar. Can you tell I’m hinting at wonders to come from you?

  18. Laura Bearskin says:

    I love the seed saving tips, makes good sense to save the seeds that promote plants that you love. Where did you find that great seed started shelving unit? With lights? Love it. And your basement organization is great! Now I have to do (clean out all the junk) mine.

    • K says:

      I have the exact Floralite in the basement. Currently keeping my tropical plants alive. It was from Lee Valley Tools, many many years ago. Will be put to seed starting use soon, too.

    • Karen says:

      HI Laura! I got the seed starting rack years ago at Home Depot. Like … 20 years ago, lol. Yikes. :) ~ karen!

  19. Jane says:

    Come on, Karen, we descendants of pack rats don’t throw things out! That’s a job for the kids when we’re gone.

    I’m a little surprised that you just keep your seeds in the basement. I have a drawer in the fridge dedicated to seeds. The tomato seeds (some heirloom and some with just a number instead of a name) I bought from some researcher out West a few decades ago still sprout really well.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane! It’s actually a bit of a fallacy that you should store your seeds in the fridge. The most important thing is they stay dry and dark. That’s all. Cool is a bonus. I mean you probably don’t want to store the right next to your furnace but anywhere else in the house is fine. To reassure you, I know a lot of people who grow and sell seeds professionally and not a single one of them keeps their seed in any sort of refrigeration. So free up that refrigerator drawer! ~ karen

  20. Jack says:

    Karen!!!! You didn’t make your own stowaway potting table????????

    • Karen says:

      I know. :) Of course, making one was my first though. Ultimately I thought making my own would slow down the whole basement cleanup. I decided it made more sense to buy one for $130. ~ karen!

  21. Tina says:

    “Just because you own it doesn’t mean you have to keep owning it”!!! Omg, I need to embroider this on a tea towel!

    I lived many years in Belgium and whenever the kids needed craft materials for school, they were impossible to find! There were no shops like Michael’s, no Walmart, if you needed styrofoam balls to make a solar system, you needed to save old packaging materials and carve the balls! So I got used to saving all the random crap that I might need someday. I’m back in the US for ages now (and those kids now have kids of their own) but I still save it all. It’s so hard to throw it away! I might need it someday! So now that slogan will hang in my craft room and I’ll try to take it to heart. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Seed Starting Calculator

  • About Karen