Category Archives: project

The Basement Project – Phase 2

The basement is still under way!
end phase 1 with banner

Here is a reminder of what I did Phase 1: Create the Plan

  • Wrote down everything in the room to know what I was working with.
  • Divide all the items into groups (on paper). 
  • Map out the room to plan for where the items would end up.
  • Divided the project into bite-size chunks that I could do in a few hours, then in a few days
  • Made room to work by pushing table against wall and some empty boxes gone.

Phase 2: Sort, Purge, and Store
This was the tedious part. After I broke down the project into chunks, it was time to get chewing. ….Sort, purge, and store…. ON REPEAT! 2 hours here, there, and again. Slowly making progress. But, accomplishing what was on paper, kept me motivated.

basement phase 2It is hard to read the picture because it is written in pencil, so I have it listed below. It actually changed a lot throughout the process… But here is what my final work looked like on each of the days.

Five days (2 hours shifts):
1 – Gift wrap, bags, boxes. Craft supplies. Move Printer. Clear long wood table.
2 – Boys clothes & label. Bag clothes to give away. Kid Supplies. Summer Misc.
3 – Organize pantry. Storage needs for pantry. Purge glassware. Purge gifts.
4 – Home decor: candles, glass. Christmas presents. Baby feeding Misc. Maternity clothes.
5 – Project pile. Trash out. To give and Goodwill items packed into car. Christmas/seasonal.

Two vacation days (3-4 hours of work each day):
6 – List storage needs. List: projects. List: Items to go through in the future  (Phase 4). Drop off items giving to people and Goodwill the rest.
7 – Clear desk. Furniture and big items moved. Memories sorted.

As I went a long I labeled items (hello yellow post-it notes) and bins with sticky notes to prepare for Phase 3!  My favorite!  Here is what the basement looked like after Phase 2 or 18-20 hours of combined work. Get ready…

basement phase 2 - 2 basement phase 2 - 1 basement phase 2 - 5 basement phase 2 - 4basement ph3 7 This wall holds items that are on their way out. On the table and under are either on the “project” list, need to be gone through, or are items I would like to sell. The bins on the far left are old college books and childhood memories; they just need some more time (Phase 4 = after the baby!) Also I have a few empty containers stacked up on the far right. basement phase 2 - 3

Woo hoo! We can see the floor. We can walk through the room!  Everything that is staying has a home! Big accomplishment from the start. Next up labels and labels. Let the fun begin.

DIY Friends Gift

diy friends gift bannerThis year, I set out to make a friends gift for some of my favorite girls (who are all mommies). We do not really exchange gifts at Christmas, but after seeing this “One A Day” Prayer Book, I knew I wanted one for myself and thought it would be great to give to them too. Basically, each day has a character quality and a verse. I want to use it to pray over my kids, but you could use them to pray for anyone including yourself.

I printed the document onto card stock. Then I used our office paper cutter to cut into squares. Measuring and cutting was probably the most tedious part of creating the prayer book, so it was helpful that the cutter had a ruler along the edge.

friends gift 3Next, I added Washi Tape for a little color and decor to each page. This part was really fun! I did it over a few nights while watching TV. I punched a hole in the corner of each card. Using a 3-hole punch allowed me to get the hole in the same location on each card. I slipped an o-ring in the corner to hold the book together. friends gift 2Each book had 36 pages. So I used my 9 Washi Tape patterns, repeating each tape 4 times. I changed up the location of the strip on each page. Each of the books had a different order to keep it fun. friends gift 1In addition to the Prayer Book, I added a Worship CD with some of my favorites. I have heard a lot about how friends and their kids have loved Isaac’s Greatest Hits from his birthday party, so I thought I would throw in another mix too. I printed labels, and embellished them a little with colored sharpies. CDI wrapped them in a cellophane party bag and tied with string. For both the Prayer Book and Mix CD I ended up spending a total of $0. I had all the supplies floating around and the music was already on my playlist. I have to say, it was probably my favorite gift to give this season. And, I think my mommy-girlfriends liked it too.

 

Baby To Do List

It’s January! 5 weeks or less until we meet our next son. Now that Christmas and my crazy holiday work schedule is over, it is time to starting prepping for this baby! By the way, baby #2 planning is way different from baby #1. Right, moms? Especially since I am having another son, I really only NEED diapers. A few other things are helpful, but the preparation is far easier. baby prepI have been making a Baby Prep list for the last week in my “Reminders” App for the iphone/ipad. My list is in the cloud! I sat down tonight and pulled out my Pregnancy Binder from a few years back to finalize and tweak the list. I love a good list!
baby prep 2So here is what is left on the agenda, by week:

Week 33
- Get extra crib for baby and twin bed for Isaac
- Paperwork: hospital, maternity leave, pediatrician
- Print hospital packing list
- Print baby log sheets / schedules

Week 34
- Order breast pump
- Pick up 2nd car seat for Isaac
- Install base for infant seat, adjust straps
- Calendar of help needs (1st two weeks)

Week 35
- Set up sleep space: basics, monitor, noise machine, black out shade
- Stock ottoman with nursing supplies
- Wash baby clothes
- Pick a name!

Week 36
- Isaac info. on paper: schedule, food ideas, play ideas & locations
- Pack hospital bag
- Family/friends call/email/text list

Week 37
- Big grocery run – pantry stock up
- Re-read “Twelve Hours Sleep By Twelve Weeks Old”

Week 38
- Change sheets & wash towels
- Clean house

Nothing on the list feels super pressing except the crib/bed and car seat. Oh, and I have no diapers yet. But all that would be manageable by a family member if this baby were to come now. I am now into the weekly doctor appointment phase… that is the final stretch!

The Basement Project – Phase 1

I’m about to get pretty vulnerable right now. I’m about to show you that my life is not all organization, structure and butterflies. Under our the somewhat maintained and functional first floor is an unfinished basement that has shown what happens when I child enters the family. Do I blame Isaac? Of course. I would never let this chaos happen. OK that is not the truth. Everything in this room was brought in by me; it is totally my fault. I suppose that many families have “that spot”. The safe zone from kids, the “I cannot make a decision about that stuff” location or the “I will craft with that or repurpose that someday when I have more time”. So my hoarded junk room is a mixture of all that plus memories, baby cloths, seasonal decor, luggage, etc. No one goes in our basement but us, but that does not mean this scene is OK with me. It has needed attention for a very long time.

Back in May when I found out I was pregnant, I knew that this room was one that had to change before this little one was added to our lives. I craved simplification in our home, overall. I felt the urge to purge. But, as summer turned to fall… it still wasn’t under control. The responsibility hit me. I MUST do this before the holidays, before the baby!

So here is what it looked like back in late August. 
1 basement 1 Bad, right? Seriously this was such a hazard that Isaac was not allowed in. I had to squeeze and shimmy to get to anything in here, not that I even knew where anything actually was. See that pile in the middle, just behind the navy blue bin that sits on the non-visable floor? Yeah it is actually a long table with Christmas decor from LAST year still piled on it. How? Why? No! It was overwhelming and scary and sad (at least to me). I saw hours of work and and was itching to tackle it.

One thing holding me back (which I think is a pretty good excuse) is that I am working mom. When I am not at work I love to spend my time with my family. I have plenty of routine home stuff to do, but I can do it with Isaac alongside of me. I rarely can set aside a day or three to leave him to tackle a large project like this would be. I had tried to bite some off in chunks over the last 6 months but I never made much progress to keep myself motivated and going. I knew I needed a plan.

I started out writing down what I knew was in the basement. Though the stuff was not sorted, I tried to sort it out into groups in my mind. I squeezed around the items and tried to make sure that I captured every item in one of these groups:
1 basement 4I brought the list upstairs (away from the chaos) and sat with it for a bit. I knew this project would take days. Days I did not have. I had to be creative. How long did I think it would take? 3 days? 20 hours? I pulled out my calendar and started looking at life over the next month. I had planned to take two vacation days and since I still had to pay for childcare, I decided that would help. If I could get a start even before those days, I might be super-motivated to use really utilize those days to get it done!

Phase 1: Create The Plan! 
Leading up to my days off, I decided I would try to spend 2 hours in the basement for some evenings after Isaac went to bed. On the weekend I would go down during nap time. This is not ideal as I am usually super-tired and ready for MY rest, but it would give me such a head start. So below you can see my plan for TH, FRI, SAT, MON, and TUES before my first vacation day on WEDS:

1 basement 6Each section has the item groups I had listed. I just divided them up with what made sense into different days. It would be a way to feel like I had small wins in this massive project.

I even mapped out what I thought the basement could like like (in sections) when I was done. I did this all in pencil as I knew that it was too HUGE a project to be exactly how I had originally planned it. I would for sure need to be flexible. (Remember there was no telling what was hidden in the hoard). It was a great start. I was happy with my plan on paper.

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At the top of my list was to move that table in the middle of the room against the right wall. It would be my work station as I sorted and purge and packed. Here is how it looked once I got my table moved. I see floor!
1 basement 3“Phase 1: Create The Plan” was complete. Even though it was only the beginning… I was ready to get this done. SOoooo motivated!

“Thankful” Paint Chip Banner

I soooo wanted to make a “Thankful” banner this year… and I thought maybe it would be great for the fireplace mantel. Time got away from me. I did not have a plan or pin so I pulled the use-whatcha-got strategy. Enter paint chips. Th banner 8I had a bunch of paint chips from a visit to the local home improvement store that had been sitting in a project box for months. I picked out the most fall-ish colors that I had. These are the large, one-color only paint chips. I made a rough letter outline on the back and began to cut them out. TH banner 1 This worked for most of the letters, but once I got to the “N” I realized it did NOT work for the unsymmetrical letters. It was backwards. Duh. At least I only messed up one letter. TH banner2 I wrote and cut the letters chunky and imperfect… on purpose. I didn’t want them to look even.TH banner3Here is how the banner turned out. I hung the letters on my memo board in the kitchen with mini clothes pins. I had not updated the decor since I made it back in February. Now it happily greets me when I walk in.
TH banner4Pretty great for a free naptime craft!paint chip banner

 

I’m Seeing Stars.

Remember that song? “Oh my starry-eeyed surprise, sun down to sun rise. Dance all night, we gonna dance all night, dance all night to this DJ…” OK, thad to get that out. Sometimes I feel like I live in a musical because everything reminds me of a song, even this event decor. I hosted a National Nanny Recognition Week celebration few months back for our local professional nannies in Cincinnati. They are stars.

Theme: VIP (Very Important People). Colors: white, black, gold, and silver. And, what says VIP, like glitter stars? Nothin.
star2 I borrowed a star punch from a crafty friend of mine. I almost purchased this same one at Michael’s but my gut told me that I  could save my wallet and I texted her. star3 It was a good thing that I did not have to cut them out by hand with scissors, because this Martha Stewart glitter paper was a mess! A beautiful mess, of course. I sorted them by color and put into envelopes to take to the party venue. star4 After I was done I had all these leftover sheets with star cut-outs. They were just as gorgeous as the actual stars. So, I decided to use them as the pretty on the hand-written notes for each of the nannies. A little spray adhesive and cardstck was all I needed for this quick design. card1 Pretty, right? Plus.. I love it when things all tie in together. card2

The stars were used as confetti on the banquet table between the DIY Gold-dipped Vases. An inexpensive, quick and easy decor. Sometimes simple says classy.

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DIY Gold-dipped Vases on the Cheap

Each year I host a celebration during National Nanny Recognition Week. The goal of the event is to celebrate our local nannies. I love for them to leave with something, but since anything extra comes out of pocket I try to come up with an inexpensive but thoughtful gift. This year, after seeing this on Pinterest, I thought a simple vase and rose would be nice. vase6 I picked up some frappuchinos (on sale with coupon) and emptied them into a pitcher.  I cleaned, peeled and scraped the labels and glue off. It was pretty easy after they soaked in the sink for an hour. vase1 I bought this Liquid Leaf from Micheal’s along with a foam brush. I thought it would be easier to just throw it away afterwards rather than use a good paintbrush. vase2 I had planned on actually dipping the glass into the  paint in a bowl, but I would have had to use (and waste) the whole jar of the Liquid Leaf. So, first I tried just painting it on to give the “dipped” look. It worked well and was super fast to paint and dry. vase4 I did put 2 coats on to make sure that it completely covered. One thin coat would leave the glass looking like this (below). Which is fine if that is the look that you are going for. vase3 Here sit all the vases after painting. I did the “dipping” at different heights. I thought that it would look nice on the table. They were each unique. vase5I am super happy with how they turned out!
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DIY Gold-dipped VasesI cannot wait to try the Leaf Liquid with some other projects. I have some Christmas present ideas up my sleeve! Stay tuned.

Change on the Go!

A while back some friends gave us an extra pack ‘n play. We used it on occasion, but it broke and would no longer fold up. After sitting in our garage, unused and unneeded, I decided it was time to donate it. However, Isaac became a fan of it because of the large Sesame Street characters on the inside. We have only watched bits and pieces of Sesame Street a few of times, but Isaac has an Elmo Potty doll and Cookie Monster puppet. They are buds. So just as I started to donate, Isaac grew an attachment to this thing, pointing to his friends every time we passed through the garage. I tried again to fix it with no luck. pad 1

Then I got an idea. Over the summer we would often change Isaac’s diaper in the back of the SUV. Sometimes it was just easier then using one of those plastic bathroom stations. Plus, we had more room for Isaac’s long legs. So I thought, hmm… I could re-purpose the nice, padded, panel that sits on the bottom of the pack ‘n play as a changing pad for our car. At least then, the whole pack ‘n play wasn’t a complete loss. pad 2 The size is nice and long, and the material is nylon so it’s easy to wipe clean. And even though I am a fan of less intentional kid products, Isaac adores the faces on it. pad 3 The pad easily folds in half and tucks in between the floor and the 2nd row seating. Doug thinks it’s kinda silly. But, I’m thinking ahead to next year… It will be nice to have this for baby #2 as well. He/she will be 4-7 months through the summer.pad 4What do you think? Have you re-purposed anything lately?

pad collage 2

Take Me Out…to the Par-ty!

It was party time at work again! You may remember my last themed volunteer bash… during basketball season, when I made these Basketball and Daisy Centerpieces. We don’t mean to be so sporty, but when you add a free Reds game to the celebration, how can you not go all baseball? Home Run.
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My goal: not too red (the color not the team), not too theme-y, use-whatcha-got supplies, budget conscious as always, and well.. make sure the volunteers knew that they were thought of and created for.

Special DIY mentions:

Plastic tablecloths made into baseballs with washi tape. These cheap-y plastic tablecloths are available at any party story and great for our events like this. Quick clean-up! To get the lines somewhat even, I left the tablecloths folded in half, while adding the detail. I used some dashes of washi tape to quickly mark the line, then I rolled the washi tape on in one long strip to keep the tablecloth from buckling. And, since the tablecloth was white, I was able to flip it over and do the 2nd line right on top as I could see right through. Yes!
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Next up, peanut centerpieces! Please eat the table decor. We reuse and recreate these glass fish bowls for many events. Thank you Hobby Lobby 50% off.  The graphic design was left over from our dessert caterer at last year’s event. Hence, use-whatcha-got!
party2party9And my fave, the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” snack bags. We only had a quick potluck style cookout, literally 60 minutes long, before everyone had to head down to the game. So, I loved the idea of the volunteers taking something with them to the game… to continue to enjoy.
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This was simply a ziplock bag with treats inside. Twizzlers, mints, candy, a baseball temporary tattoo, and of course, cracker jacks! I printed the 100 paper banners and stapled them on each bag. Easy! Well, there were 100 bags… so that means it’s only easy with a team of behind the scenes volunteers to help git ‘er done. Shout out to the FI Prep Team! Woo woo!

We encouraged everyone to stuff their bag with peanuts before heading out. I told you we were gonna eat the table decor!

Overall the decor was very inexpensive and simple to accomplish. It is always fun when I get to be creative at work and I really like how it turned out.
party7party8This decor could be scaled up with white linens or made more kid-friendly by switching out the treats in the snack bag. Either way this a simple twist on a baseball theme!

Pack it Up, Pack it In

Have I mentioned that I love free stuff? And when it comes to having a kid one of the greatest blessings is free clothes. I mean I like nice clothes, but paying full-price for items that they are going to where only a few times? Can’t do it.

When I was pregnant it granted me rights into my family/friends’ Share the Clothes Club. We waited to find out the sex of our baby, so the day we came home from the hospital my sister-friend dropped off two bags of baby boy clothes. Ever since, the clothes keep coming from Beth, from other friends, and from my step-mother who works at a second-hand store. Let me tell you, it is awesome. There are  a lot of clothes. A lot. Storing them is the challenging part of this blessing.

clothes7Isaac is 18 months now and is wearing mostly 18 month-sized clothing. He can wear some 24 months, but others he’s swimming in. In his closet 18 month clothes are hanging on the right side and 24 month hanging on the left. This allows me to start pulling from the larger clothes as he is transitioning. When he grows out an item, I toss it into a size-labeled bin in his closet. Once he is completely out of the 18 month clothes I’ll pack those up, and pull out the 2T. Brands do not all run them the same, so this system has worked well for me.

I have supplemented the gifted stash with just a few purchases and holiday outfits. I rarely go shopping at kid’s stores, though I can’t walk by Janie & Jack without perusing the sale rack. I mainly shop for Isaac at the local sales by the multiples’ clubs. In Cincinnati that happens in the spring and fall. I usually spend $50-100 a season and walk out with bags of items in all different sizes. I buy what I need, like if his 2T stash has mostly shorts I look for pants. The sales are only two weeks away (yay!!), which was motivation for me to break into the garbage bags of the larger clothes piling up in the basement.

I brought all the clothes upstairs so my little helper could share the work. OK so he really enjoyed playing in the bins, dragging off clothes, and walking around with pants on his head. He gets into projects. Sometimes it takes longer with him in the mix, but honestly I would rather spend more time on a project with him in the room, than retreat to the basement and miss time with him.

clothes9I started with sorting all the items into piles by size a total of 2 bins + 4 garbage bags. Any 24 months and 2T clothes went straight to the laundry room to be washed. Those will go to Isaac’s closet. Piles are 3T, 4T, 5T & beyond and Misc.

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You can see that the 5T and above are slim, that is because the Share the Clothes Club is still using those sizes. They will eventually come into the rotation, and the clothes Isaac is finished with move along as well.

I then sorted each of sizes by type of clothing item: pants, jeans, sweaters, sweatshirts, long-sleeved shirts, short-sleeved, winter PJs, long-sleeved PJs, summer PJs, etc.
clothes3See the 3T label on this bin? It is actually a combo of 3 of the items from my 5 Favorite Things Blog Launch Giveaway! I used the over-sized notecards as the paper, sharpies to add some color and the washi tape to adhere.

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In the past I have used mailing labels for these bins, but I end up relabeling bins and it’s hard to remove all the sticky paper. Ding, ding, ding!!! Washi tape easily removes from items AND is pretty. Yes!

Another trick is to quickly write a list of clothes that I have in this size on the back. I wrote it in pencil so I can update it as the clothes trickle in. I also made note about holiday clothes, swimsuits, jackets, etc in this size. Here is the genius part. I can actually take these lists with me as reference for the multiples sales I am going to in a few weeks.
clothes4 I am hoping that it helps me shop very smart. This did not take much additional time and I believe will save me rummaging through the bins thinking, “Do I have mostly winter clothes or summer in that size?” and “Does Isaac have slacks for Thanksgiving?” Yes, I am a planner. I created this system, but I do think it is genius. Not to sound prideful, but I’d say the same thing if you created it.

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Here is what we were left with to take to the basement…
clothes6After the clothes were washed, 24 month were hung up and the 2T put up into bins.

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So there you have it! It feels good to have this project done and more importantly I am prepared for my sale shopping in a few weeks.

If you are local, here are links to the 2 sales that I like:
Tri-state Multiples Sale
Eastern Hills Mother of Twins Sale
There are more all over the tri-state that you can look into. I will be back to share my spoils.

How do you organize and shop for clothes? Please share your methods and strategies. I love this stuff!

Pinterest Challenge – My Long Awaited Memo Board

winter-challengeIt’s Pinterest Challenge Time! I am joining with bloggers all over the country who are taking the challenge to actually DO WATCHA PIN! Welcome new friends and thanks for stopping by! And, don’t forget to give all of our hosts some love: Young House Love, Bower Power, The Modeled Life, &  Decor and the Dog.

org5For almost 4 years this wall behind our table in the kitchen has been blank, empty and just sad. The wall has a plug in the middle and a vent at the top, so I haven’t been able to decide what I wanted to put there. I almost hung a few small shelves but changed my mind.  I knew I wanted something artistic and functional, but not too busy for our small kitchen. It has stayed empty for far too long!!!

In true Pinterest-addict form, I had been pinning some DIY options for this space. I loved the idea of art that could be switched out depending on the season, or my mood. Here some pins that I had been contemplating:

7c14ff52434a5b091ec99ad70d2c5af5 93dd7c8cfed077c52b3d9e412544b21f 6e4fc3291f6ab0427f83974ac31c6f2c




 

 

…… and at my last thrift shop outing, that I told you about here, I found this old framed picture for $6.25. I knew at first sight that the frame was a great size for the bare wall. It sat on the kitchen table for a few weeks waiting for it’s reincarnation…and my butt to find the other supplies I needed.

memo0Then, last Wednesday, Young House Love posted their Pinterest Challenge which was just the push I needed to get this project in gear. I had waited 4 years for this wall to find it’s destiny, and now I had one week to make it happen.

I stopped at Lowe’s on my way home from work, THAT day. I knew that I needed spray paint and chicken wire. The paint was easy, but I wasn’t sure of the measurements of my frame. The chicken wire ranged in price from: $8 to $41! I was nervous that the 24 inch wasn’t going to be wide enough and the 48 inch way too wide. I had not actually measured the frame, so I thought I would wait to do that before purchasing. I snapped some pictures for reference. I also hoped that maybe Doug, my construction-carpenter husband had some laying around. Fingers crossed.

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The frame turned out to me 28in X 36in. So bad news was Doug did not have any, AND I needed at least 26 inches to make it across the width. Ugh. I couldn’t to spend $41 on a huge roll of chicken wire that I wouldn’t need. My blogging friend, Lindsey (hildagotrocks) suggested posting an ask on Facebook. She is genius! A crafting friend said come on over and pick it up. Yes! Free! She was familiar with chicken wire and said that her 24 inch width would stretch just enough to fit my frame; it would actually be good to have it stretched tight. Total score on the free chicken wire and the tip! Woo to the hoo!

Later that night it was time to get started, finally. I was super giddy about it. First, I removed the backing and the picture with mat. I was thinking about trying to leave the wire across the back, because it was so old it had frayed pretty badly. But, the glass was too hard to get out with it still attached, so I removed that. I ever so carefully pulled the glass out. Picture me with oven mits shimmy-ing this thing back and forth. The glass was really thin and I was super scared I was going to shatter it. Whew, that was the hardest part of the project. memo1Next, I laid out some newspaper in our garage (with the door open and light on). Isn’t this what all my neighbors are doing at 9:00 p.m. on a Saturday night? Hey, I gotta project when I can (Can project be a verb?). Husband was at a hockey game and my baby was snoozing, so it was the perfect opportunity to spread some paint fumes into the winter air.

memo2I used Rustoleum Universal (for any surface) in flat black. I have to say that I have a new affection for spray paint. It provides such a fast transformation, it really is exhilarating (and I am only kinda exaggerating). I am not yet as daring as my friends at Young House Love, but maybe one day I will spray something bright red.

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After an hour, my first coat was dry to the touch. I was able to move the frame before Doug came home. Can’t you just see him backing over this beauty? I often set the oven timer to remind myself of these kinda things. The next day, I applied a second coat, making sure I got the inside lip of the frame.

Once the frame was dry and I had to make a decision on whether I would hang it horizontal or vertical. The air vent could not be covered, but frame would fit both directions. It is just a matter pf preference.  I decided horizontal was the way to go. Of course it would be hung, not just leaning.
memo5 memo4

Evening number two with my project…time for chicken wire! This time I had the Oscars, my husband’s tools, and an extra hand to help me out.
memo6Doug helped me pull the chicken wire tight as we could and I used a staple gun to staple each of the sides to the frame. His hands were a little stronger than mine, so he did the last side. It was pretty easy, just had to watch out for the sharp edges of the wire. I only had one minor flesh wound.

Here is a close up of the back of the frame, you can see that we folded the edges of the cut wire so that it wouldn’t poke out and scratch the walls or my hands.
memo8I did have to get 2 more things. These mini clothes pins were $2.99 at Michaels but with a 50% off coupon they were only $1.50. I may spray paint these black like the frame sometime in the future… maybe not.  I used Sawtooth Hangers ($1.89) attached to the back of the frame, to hang it.

bought clipsNext it was time to hang this baby. Usually Doug does the hammering in this house, but I was anxious to get this baby up for some styling. So, I used my measure with newspaper method. I simply laid the newspaper on top of the frame and taped it together, then measured and drew a large dot with a sharpie where the nail would go.

I hung it up the template doing just a little measuring to make sure that it was centered. Then I hammered the nails into my markings. And, I didn’t even wake the baby!
paper upAnd after a little styling, here we have it…
close upClipped to the board are a few inspirational quotes, some pictures, our meal list, a Charley Harper art piece called “Lovey Dovey”, and a 4 year olds art piece. Just a few things that I love and make me smile. I know that I will be changing these out and updating this often! Another spot to put a hints of holidays.

done 2I am so happy with how it turned out! No more blank wall.

If you are stopping by from Young House Love, you may be interested in the first challenge I participated in – The Macklemore Thriftshop Challenge. Speaking of that, my little pokey pineapple that sits on the tray on the kitchen table has found his purpose. He is secretly holding the mini clothes pins for the memo board! Perfect correlation.

clips homeOnly 2 days until the official launch of this Project Momma Blog! 

GIVEAWAY:
Stop back on Friday when I’ll be giving away FIVE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS!

DIY memo board - banner

Quick Tip: DIY Thank You Notes

After Isaac’s first birthday party, I needed to write thank you notes. I was going to print something up with a photo program online, but ended up feeling rushed to get them out.  So I ordered some Walmart prints from Isaac’s one-year photoshoot. I created my own card, using 4 X 6 white notecards with a lined back. These notecards are a great mulit-use item so I just had laying around… ahem, free!  I used tape to attach the picture to the card, so that family could keep the picture and put in a frame if they choose.

thank youOn the back I wrote a short note about how Isaac was enjoying his gift, and I wrote it as if he was talking. I used a few sharpies to add some color to the notes. I slipped the cards in some large envelopes and mailed them out the next day. Cute. Personal. Easy. Done.

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Solving the ‘Drop Zone’ Problem (Part 1)

Our kitchen has many problems. For now, let’s ignore the fact that our fridge is avacado green, our cabinets are laminate, and the floor is….well, dingy. We hope to gut it someday in the future. But the problem functionally, is that it’s so small! We have limited storage, it’s awkwardly shaped, and like many homes it is the entry, exit and hub of the house.

I specifically bought a high-top kitchen table so that it could act as another counter while cooking. But, instead, it has become the ‘drop zone’. And, really… it is my fault. We have with no mudroom and limited space in the garage. As I walk in from a busy day I usually unload my work bag, Isaac’s bag, lunch bags, coats, shoes, mail, the paper, groceries, and whatever else I have in my hands.  So the challenge: get my kitchen table back.

Here is a real-life picture of what it looks like on a bad day:
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Part 1 of this project is to clear the clutter and assess what is piling up. Each item needs a home and a system to get it home on a regular basis. I’ve learned that just cleaning the table is not enough. The pile reappears as soon as a busy work week starts up again.

While Isaac was napping one Friday afternoon, I moved each item to the dining room table and organized like items with each other. I wanted to visually critique my mess. WHAT is there and WHY is there instead of someplace else? Here’s what had accumulated…

org1Let’s take a closer look…

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Left side of the table:
2 bowls
red card box
lunchbag
seatbelt for highchair (project)
grocery list & coupons
candle tarts (gift)
dirty bottle
screws (project)
picture CD
Isaac’s bath toys
Isaac’s book
food drive list (project)
reminder note to buy bins
small group book
Isaac’s shoes
vaseline

None of these items belong on the kitchen table. They are either on their way out of the house, on their way back in or waiting for time to do a project.  Isaac’s things can go to his room, dishes and lunchbag can be put away in the kitchen. The card box belongs in the dining room closet (which is like my misc spot/office). From looking at these items,  I think I need an “in process” container and a “projects” container somewhere, so those items don’t sit on the kitchen table for weeks until I have time to do them.

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Middle of the table: 
blank paper
mug of pens
post-it pad
loaf of party rye (project)
bills/mail
magazines
iphone accessories
Isaac’s log (blue)
coupon organizer (black)
bill organizer
change
paper clips
packing tape
keys
chapstick

Keys belong in a tray on the microwave. Chapstick and phone accessories go in my purse. Nail polish goes to the bathroom. Office supplies to the Dining Room closet. Beyond that, these items, mostly paper or organizers with papers in them are constantly hanging out on the table. They need places to live.  I do not want to see them! I also need to be able to easily grab office supplies and easily put them away.

org4Right side of the table:
Misc bags
Misc papers to be filed
Diaper changing pouch
Gloves
Mommy hook
Wipes pack

Gloves hang out in my purse. The large Mommy Hook, changing pad and wipes go to the car. Bags go in the garage. The misc. papers need to be filed in the dining room closet.

Have you noticed a pattern here?

OK, so I have been holding back on you. I do have a clue as to why these items, a lot of them paper, are accumulating on the table. My closet in the dining room is worse than this table. It is my misc spot and it is out-of control!!! So, there you go all you people that think that my house is perfectly organized. I have monsters in the closet just like you. The reason they are literally in the closet, has to do with a certain 17 month old. Now that he can get into everything on the bottom part of the house, I’ve had to move, hide and store things differently. The dining room closet has become the misc. safe place for alot these items. Ready for the scary picture?

closetItems falling out as I open the door. Paper piles that are growing. More projects in a bag, I cannot even see the files! Oh, it is time!! 

So, there will be a Part 2 of this project. It is contingent on creating some space in that closet. Assessing what was landing in the ‘drop zone’ has prepared me to create some thought-out, systematic, and organized zones in the closet. Ooh, it gives me chills just thinking about it. Again, my goal is to create new habits and maintain a clean kitchen table.

Oh, let’s at least enjoy the picture of the clean kitchen table…ahhhhh.
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MY LIST of Items that need homes:
1. Misc. project items  — > in the closet, bigger items to the basement
2. In process items – like mail, bills, etc. —> in the closet
3. Location for coats, shoes, purse, diaper bag, and work misc. —> closet and other?

Hang in there. There are a lot more nap times of work in my future. I will fill you in soon.

Quick Tip: DIY Flashcards

So, I accidentally fell into a quick project today. Isaac as coloring (err, playing with crayons) at the table while I was cleaning out and organizing the dining room closet. In a trash pile I had some checkbook backing which I had ripped all the deposits slips off of. I always save those to shred them because I am too afraid to just throw them away with our account number on them. Isaac loves letters, and the thought just came to me… I should give him these cards with letters… flashcards! photoSo I simply wrote the letters in his name and gave them to him. He loved them! The thick edge gave him something to hold onto and the cardboard was thick enough that he didn’t crush them like paper. He loved to look at them and say the “alphabet”, which sounds the same every time, no matter what letters are in front of him… “Ay, Eye, Ay, Ooo, Eye”. For some reason he likes those vowel sounds. Even thought he is a little young to be learning letters, he is intrigued by them! I guess that comes from his book obsession.

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When you can…. USE WHATCHA GOT!

foods to try

Toddler Food Funk

A few months ago, I would proudly claim that my son would “eat anything except mashed potatoes and avocado”. I was proud that he was such a good eater. But, now? My he’ll-eat-anything-son has quickly turned into a he’ll-eat-that-maybe-some-of-the time-son. I wouldn’t call him a picky eater, because he still eats many things, but he is slowly getting preferential to some foods at certain times. He has also taken on a deep passionate affair with his milk. He walks to the fridge and looks at me, signs “please”, and asks me in his way to give him his milk….20 times a day!
He is a healthy boy, weighing in at 28 lbs and 3 oz. a couple weeks ago; I am not at all worried about his health. I do, however, want to make sure that I am giving him enough variety and trying things enough times to give him the opportunity to like them.

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Back when Isaac started eating solids, I made a sorta cheat sheet to hang inside the cabinet. It was helpful for Doug and Isaac’s grandparents when they were wondering what was OK to feed him. It has evolved into a short list of his staple foods. I’ve updated it a few times over the last year.

I thought I would add another list – “foods to try” to help me think creatively when preparing foods for him, especially breakfasts & lunches. For dinner we mostly have him eat what we are eating and since we don’t eat the same thing every night, neither does he. Also, his appetite is lowest at dinner.

What did moms do without the internet? I spent 15 minutes searching online and got some good ideas. My favorite finds were Wholesome Toddler Food, Toddler Lunch Ideas, and Feeding the Picky Eater - 17 Tips. I also spent some time reading about toddler nutrition reviewing toddler portion sizes. As I made some notes, I tried not to discount foods that I don’t like, since Isaac already loves things that I don’t care for (like yogurt).
foods to tryI also updated Isaac’s staple list.
staplesI hung them both back in the cabinet where I keep his plates, cups, snacks and etc. I see these notes on a daily basis. I feel like now if I am ever feeling the food funk, I can try  one of these ideas.
cabinet doorI think that the best thing that came out of this little project was being reminded that I already knew a lot about toddler eating. Yep, Isaac is one!! He should be picky, he should be grazing, and it is all OK. Plus, it’s not like I haven’t been down this road with many kids before, and they have all turned out just fine. Through my experiences as a nanny I followed a few unwritten principles. I think that writing them down will remind me to live by them with Isaac as well.

9 Principles to Feed By:
1. Don’t focus on each meal for nutrition, instead look at what the child ate in a day or even week.
2. Don’t stress about food, kids will pick up that
3. Everything in moderation.
4. Keep offering foods over, and over, and 14 times over.
5. Try foods in different locations and served in different containers.
6. Model nutrition.
7. Don’t discount foods I don’t like myself.
8. Sit and eat as a family – enjoy the experience!
9. Kid portions are small.

I plan to relax a bit and remember lessons I have already learned. I also plan to try new things with the boy and new things myself.