Day 3: Organize the Fish Cabinet

I’m super excited! Not because of what I did on Day 3–it took less than an hour and wasn’t all that exciting–but because I finally figured out what to do with at least one of the drawers in the built-in cabinet we currently use to hold our fish tank. I think. Maybe. I need to draw it out and see if it will work, but the Mister seems to think it will work. But first, the interior of the cabinet and how I cleaned it up.

Last year, I was all over the place with the projects. I was so freaked out and overwhelmed that I allowed myself to go wherever the mood struck. This time around, I’m trying to finish rooms as best I can. We’ll see how this new commitment goes. I’m fickle and get bored easily when it comes to keeping house. But so far, so good! Yesterday I tackled the media cabinet, which required me to empty out the fish cabinet of its DVDs. I resolved to come back to it the next day and clean what remained.

Nothing too terrible, just fish tank supplies in need of containment. I knew they wouldn’t take up much room once I purged and organized them, so I decided to gather up all my home improvement tools and make this the spot to hold my toolbox and the fish supplies. Not that I had a toolbox, of course. My previous method was to scatter tools around the house in semi-convenient drawers and cupboards. No toolbox necessary.

I did a quick run through the house looking for supplies. Then I remembered that I had some supplies in the drawers of the fish cabinet, too. I open these drawers about once every few years. The last time I opened the top drawer had to be two years ago, judging by the aquarium bulbs for lights we no longer own. I decided to only take out what was relevant to this project (home improvement tools). Everything else I left behind for another day.

I placed all the home improvement supplies on the floor next to the toolboxes I bought for the project. One if for fish tank supplies, the other is for my small collection of tools.

I kept the fish tank supplies in the cupboard because it was easier. I was able to cull the supplies down by 50%. Then, it was as easy as tetris’ing everything together in a $7 Home Depot toolbox. (It’s super cheap and the quality is iffy, but it’s prefect for my needs.)

Then, I went high-roller and bought myself a $14 tool bag I can carry around the house as needed.

And with a great show of care, dumped everything inside. Side note: these IKEA tool kits are fantastic. I love mine, and wouldn’t dream of building cheaply manufactured furniture of indeterminate origins any other way.

Et voilà!

Are you amazed by my organizational prowess? Jealous of how I throw money around and purchase the most stylish home organization accessories straight off the runway? It’s okay, I don’t blame you. Practical and frugal is sexxy, and I’ve always wanted to carry around a bag labeled HUSKY, too. Now that I’m living the dream (the wolf silhouette is just extra), I can tell you my expectations = surpassed.

New here? For the next 31 days I’m living according to the famous William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” You can learn more about the project here, and catch sneak peeks of my projects by following me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (I’m @pancakesfries).


Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    Excellent! Today I am doing two projects because when I got home from my work, my bedroom wall was scribbled all over! I can’t count that as my project because cleaning it only got my house back to the same state it was before I left for work. So it’s a 2-for-1 day today.

    • says

      I’ve been trying to do 2-for-1 days all this week just to catch up from working in the library. It was pretty funny for me to organize a fish cabinet yesterday as I was surrounded by 3 baskets of folded, clean laundry that had been out for 2 days.

    • says

      Haha! I need to change my name to “Lone Wolf.” It has a special ring to it. 😉 You know what would make me happy? If the boys don’t figure out I have the tape measure in there. I usually keep that thing hidden. It’s the one tool that grows feet around here.

      • Kellee says

        Try getting them their own tape measure. At my house it is the flashlights. I probably have 10 flashlights and could NEVER find one when I needed it. Finally, I painted one gold (my little man is all about the bling) and gave it to him as his “special” flashlight. Voila, no more flashlight troubles!

        I love your William Morris posts – they always inspire me to take 5 minutes out of my day to just get something done. Awesome work!

  2. Missie says

    Looks great! Yesterday, you provided me with an ah-ha moment! The power strip, inside the cabinet! Duh! Mine behind the media cabinet has been driving me crazy, all of the cords and the strip were causing the cabinet to be further away from the wall than I wanted it to be. Last night, I fixed all that and it looks great, thanks to you!!

    • says

      Thank you! I’ll let my husband know. That was his brain child. We had the same problem as you, and whenever we had to turn anything off, we had to resort to wire hangers or moving that heavy beast.

  3. Susan G says

    “Tetris’ing” – love! I knew exactly what you meant, and although I hate playing tetris I do like doing it in real life and now I know how to describe it. Thanks for the vocab addition! :)

    • says

      Tetris is the only video game I have ever played with any sort of enjoyment. My brothers could never understand my lack of interest when it came to video games. Neither can the boys today!

  4. hayleyraine says

    Firstly let me say I enjoy your blog and your musings on the minutiae of daily life, but I’m quite incredulous that it’s such a big deal to keep organized as life goes on. I’m also not sure why it is considered a big spend to sink a few dollars into storage boxes, etc. I have recently moved here from London and have to say while I enjoy living amongst Americans, I can’t figure out why everything is such a palaver to them. In Europe I think we just get on with things – no huge song and dance. I am in the process of raising three children – three different schools and activities (even one studying internationally at the moment), many flights backwards and forwards and school events, etc to fit in. I manage! It can be done. Plus I am in the process of renovating and remodelling a 4500 sq feet colonial revival house here and keeping it sensitive to its pre-Civil War architecture, but bright and modern for 21st century family life. Many of my new friends and neighbours are amazed that I am doing it all without a designer (but with the workmanship of very good contractors). People should just try and do it. It’s not so hard if you just get stuck in!

    • says

      Even though a few bucks for boxes is no biggie, if she’s doing a different project every day of the month, it’ll add up. I think minimal spending was one of her goals from the get-go. If I remember right, she has a lot of big projects ahead and probably has to keep on a budget.

      And come on…. This is her blog where she writes about stuff like organizing her house. We come here for the song and dance. It’s not like she talks peoples ears off about it at the corner store! :)

      • says

        Uh, oh! Well, if you don’t like palavering about minutiae, you might want to steer clear from here for the next 31 days. 😉

        I was joking about the money, HayleyRaine. $14 isn’t a lot of money on a toolbox, obviously, because regular toolboxes can cost 100s of dollars. Also, it’s a black bag with a wolf silhouette. That bag is a lot of things, but fashionable isn’t one of them. I have a dry, sarcastic humor and sometimes it doesn’t come off well online. You’ll have to trust me that in real life I’m hilarious. <—–more dry humor Good luck on your renovation! It sounds lovely. I redid our kitchen (a gut remodel) without a contractor and it turned out well. p.s. The funny thing about your comment is that last night as I was writing this post, I put in a sentence about joking when it came to calling myself a high-roller over a $14 bag. I took it out, thinking the joke was obvious. Snort.

        • Anna says

          if a Spanish reader who learned to speak (ahem) in English when she was very grown up can understand, appreciate and truly enjoy your “dry sarcastic humour”, then sure it comes off well online.
          I love your house, your easy-to-live-with style and your William Morris Project (it encourages me) but what I love the most is your writting.
          (Er… well, what I love “the most of the most” is Stuff Mikey Says)

  5. says

    ha! I just labeled my ikea tools as well, because I can never find out “real” ones when Finn finishes a project. I don’t have a fancy wolf sticker or a husky box though, so jealous.

    • says

      I’m pretty sure the Husky wolf sticker catapults those tools into real status. 😉 I bought those tools because I was tired of having to go to the garage and pick what I needed–and I didn’t want to mess with all the expensive tools. Turns out those cheap things are great! I kind of bought them as a joke/last resort, but they really work well for small jobs!

  6. says

    I need one of those husky bags! I have two toolboxes that I can’t manage to keep stuff in because I’m always pulling tools out for specific projects and carrying them around the house in a shopping bag. Then the sh0pping bags pile up (all by themselves!) in various closets or on top of the garage cabinets, and eventually I can’t find anything. Tool organization is sooooo on my list. I’m thinking maybe I can delegate the sorting of nails, screws, etc. to the kids if I buy one of those storage containers with the teeny tiny drawers.

  7. says

    I am SO glad you indicated that silhouette was a wolf. I just kept staring at it like it was one of those “old woman/young woman” type things. Or maybe it was a flower? Or a landscape? Finally I gave up and kept reading, and “ah ha!”

    And seriously, you are freaking humorous. (That seems like an oxymoron – but I’m sure you get it.) The last bit had me chuckling in my cubicle at work.

    Oh, and I saw your Instagram of “Mama’s Tools” yesterday and my expectation of where you were going with today’s post was way off.

    • says

      I just realized that since the bag brand is Husky, it’s most likely a silhouette of a Siberian Husky. Even better! I’m a working dog breed. That makes sense, actually, because if I was a German Shepherd or Collie or some other herding dog, I would have figured that out sooner.

  8. Margie says

    Wolf silhouette? I totally saw a woman’s head cocked to the side and a flexed bicep. Maybe I was led in that direction by the mamas toolbox label. Don’t see it? Keep looking….

  9. Gabbie says

    It’s so funny cause I was all “cool wolf sticker” LOL my upstairs day to day tools are in one of those home depot$1 nail aprons hanging on a coat rack….. Classy.

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