Tag: decorating

Mind Jars and Bathtub Paints and Hair Feathers – Oh My!

When I first heard about Pinterest – a virtual pinboard where you can showcase and curate visual things that you love – I could tell right away that it would suck me in if I didn’t vacate the premises.  Here and there, however, blogs I follow have been mentioning things off their own Pinterest lists and of course I just had to check them out.  Eh, why not sign up – what harm could it do?

This definition of the website that I recently happened upon is a more accurate description:

pin-ter-est (n): A fun reminder of the clothes I will never afford/fit into, the home decor I will never afford/fit into our small home, the recipes and crafts I am too lazy to ever make, the sayings I wasn’t clever enough to think of on my own, the photos I wish I had taken but didn’t.

There is a virtual treasure trove of ideas, all sorts of “this would be nice” and “I could do that” or “someday maybe” and like I’m always telling myself “as soon as I learn how to sew! (or knit, or scrounge up a few more hours in a day)” 

I consider some of the time well-spent because it helps me organize ideas I definitely plan on utlizing – links to preschool printables and ideas or craft ideas I’ll be using during the week with the kiddos, a gift I want to make for someone, a new recipe I’m going to try.  And some of them are light-bulb-moment finds – aha, I never thought of doing it this way!  Stringing balloons looks so much easier than trying to tape them to the ceiling, zig zag streamers are such a cinch and way cooler than your average streamer, and why bother frosting the cake anyway?  Can you tell I have the kiddos’ impending party on the brain?

Suffice to say I’ve spent a lot of time “pinning” virtual items to my board, and then I have to check out the boards of those who’ve repinned my pins – ahhhh, the insanity!  I’m back to imposing a computer ban until the kiddos’ naptimes just so I can devote my undivided attention to them and get some other things done around the house.

Last week wasn’t the best for me – the kiddos were possessed by screaming, whining mosters and I didn’t have much motivation to get things done or keep them entertained.  I find that cleaning and organizing give me a feeling of control at times like that, so I’ll tend to want to vacuum a lot, pick up after the kids incessantly and get mad if they strew toys all over the house, make lists and dream about all the things I could do (hello, Pinterest).  I also made Chocolate Cake In a Mug a few times, which helps. 

Instead of just pinning and dreaming, I did in fact get around to making some of the projects.  I started off with the mind jar, hoping it might help Gwen calm down when she gets upset with Josiah and storms about the house.  She didn’t seem to get it; it’s pretty and glittery and maybe she’ll pick it up another time.

I made the bathtub paints the same night, both because I knew the kids would have fun and because I hoped it would stave off their usual bathtime whining rompous.  They had LOTS of fun, but when they decided to paint the walls I noticed some of the coloring seeping into the grout. *sigh*  It turned out to be no biggie, but I’ll have to look into some friendly food coloring.     

One evening I stayed up late browsing and bookmarking, and I came upon what seems to be this ever-growing trend for hair feathers.  Now, I don’t consider myself trendy and don’t care for fads, but I have to admit I fell in love with some of the ideas.  I pinned some favorites to my Hair board, and ended up buying Gwen and me some feather clips from a shop on Etsy – I can’t wait till they arrive!  I would love to try the “permanent” method, but I’ll have to buy some feathers for that.  In the meantime, I found a couple feathers I had around the house, made myself a fun little clip, and took it for a test drive:

Whaddya’ think? 

On my to-do list for the near future:
bottlecap flower wreath (I already have a bunch of bottlecaps!) 
coconut milk shampoo
apple tart
fall leaf mobile with the kiddos
oh, and I’m thinking about going on a dishwasher strike

Do you have a Pinterest board?  If so, what do you get out of it? 

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Anticipating Easter

My second-favorite holiday after Christmas would have to be Easter – and how appropriate!  On Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and on Easter we rejoice in the fact that He died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day.  But aside from the religious aspects… I just love the springy atmosphere that surrounds the season!  Trees are budding, flowers blooming, birds chirping, everything seems brilliant and alive.  Almost as though all of nature is celebrating with us.

Christmas gets most of my attention when it comes to decorating.  The only things I really have for Easter decorations are some baskets from years prior and Easter grass that I saved.  I like the idea of having a perpetual window display that changes with the seasons, using natural elements for decoration – for Spring, think bright yellow hyacinth, pussy willow, twigs and branches with eggs and birdies hanging from them.  For now, I’m chalking it up to good intentions.  And the Valentine’s Day heart strings look so pretty where they are, I hate to take them down… 

I am excitedly contemplating these ideas for simplifying spring baskets, but for now I’m gonna go with some of the cheap-o plastic eggs.  The kids  love ’em!  Josiah concentrates so hard trying to get one open, and gets so excited when he succeeds.  

Growing up, it was tradition for my grandparents to hide Easter baskets for us around their home.  We would go over for Sunday dinner, casually looking around for where they might be hidden as soon as we walked in the door (but not officially looking for them until it was time).  Each one had a name written on it, and if we found someone else’s, we couldn’t say anything.  The baskets usually contained jelly beans and foil-wrapped eggs, and along with the goodies our parents bestowed upon us, the sibs and I would have little pow-wows and trade our wares.  If I remember correctly, the crispy chocolates were one of the more coveted items, while the mini jelly beans were low on the totem pole.   

These chick and carrot containers are like the ones I used to announce our pregnancy with Gwen on Easter of 2007 *sigh*        

I’m always conscious of what kind of example we’re setting for our children, what traditions we want to start or continue on with them.  I always associate special occasions with treats of the edible variety, something I’ve been trying to get past in my mind.  It’s nice to have treats once in a while, but I don’t want every special occasion to mean SUGAR. 

So… what to put in the Easter eggs?  I like the idea of gifting something that was already on the shopping list anyway.  I got Gwen a small bottle of nail polish (mermaid blue – I’m so borrowing this) from ecomom; I got a 50% off voucher to their website from Mamapedia recently and had to pick this up.  It fit nicely in one of the carrot containers.

And it won’t fit in an egg, but I got her a book about a newfound favorite…

The kiddos have more than enough toys, of course, but it occurred to me that – while Gwen has some small plastic horses and other barn animals – Josiah doesn’t have anything like that.  So I got a tube of plastic dinosaurs from Joanne’s (yay for 50% off coupons).  The smaller ones fit inside the eggs, and the larger ones fit inside the chickies. 

The kids love putting money into their piggy banks, so I got a bunch of coins from the change jar to put in some of the eggs.  They’re nice and jingly.  Which reminds me of an idea for recycling plastic Easter eggs – make music shakers out of them, like little maracas.  Our library has something similar for storytime, and they have music symbols stamped on them.


And last-but-certainly-not-least, I did get some goodies for the eggs.  I picked up a bag of peanut M&Ms, justifying them due to the protein content (and also because Phil mentioned he would love to have some for snacking at work).  I also got a bag of organic lollipops, but since these won’t fit in the eggs I’ll have to do something else with them.  I’m hoping to find some natural fruit jelly beans, but I could also just get some dried fruit or other more healthy snack, since the kids love it just as much.

Phil and I have thrown around the idea of hiding the eggs for the kids to find, sort of like a scavenger hunt, but that just means one more thing for me to organize.  Meh.  We’ll see. 

Last year, Gwen made Resurrection Eggs at her grandmother’s church, and we plan on using these again this year to tell the kiddos about the true meaning of Easter.  The ones she made have pictures taped to the outside, but I’m going to actually put the elements inside and number the eggs in order – e.g. a leaf for the palm branch, piece of purple cloth for the robe the soldiers put on Jesus, a cross for when He was crucified, a nail for His wounds, a stone to symbolize His tomb, and so forth.  

It just so happens that we have a book called Benjamin’s Box that goes along perfectly with the Resurrection Eggs.  I had put it away with some of our other books, always forgetting to take it out for Easter, and was pleasantly surprised to find out it can be used in conjunction with the eggs.

This is always a busy time of year – Phil’s birthday is coming up, Palm Sunday and Easter, and I always look forward to attending a May Breakfast (a New England tradition, I believe), especially since my Mom and one of my brothers share a birthday on May 1st.

What do you look forward to this time of year?  What are some of your Spring/Easter traditions?

Shared at the Meaningful Easter blog hop at Photobucket

Spring Is In The Air

*inhale deeply* 

It’s a gorgeous, sunny day outside, and I find myself in a tank top as I do a bit of spring cleaning around the house.

No more pile of Christmas decorations in the loft!

The kiddos are with Meme today, so it’s quiet around here and I’ve actually been able to make efficient use of my time.  I’ve even had time to start a new knitting project!

I am using a gorgeous skein of Jojoland Melody wool fingering weight yarn in a variegated shade of teal and green that I found while checking the newest local yarn store.  Eneri Knits is a small shop, but boasts a cheerful array of delicious yarns and yummy knitting books.  I felt like I was in a candy store!  I’m attemping a lacy scarf with yarn overs and wrap turns; it’s relatively simple, but I have to keep checking the pattern to make sure I’m in the right place.  It’s not the suggested yarn for the pattern in 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders, but I’m hoping it will be a nice substitute. 

Some of the windows are cracked open, and the the mild breeze wafts in the windows, fluttering the curtains.  I’ve been in and out of the house, taking the trash out, returning some things to the garage, going to get the mail.  I saw some crocuses basking in the warmth of the sun.

Hello, little flowers

Phil has been taking advantage of the nice weather and cleaning up the yard in preparation for our vegetable gardens this year.  I hope my black thumb doesn’t curse the endeavor!  He’s using his manly chainsaw to take down a couple trees that will provide wood for our woodstove next winter; we went through the entire woodshed heating our home this year! 

Look at those sexy orange safety chaps

After getting the mail, I decided to walk down the street a bit to say hello to our horsey neighbors.

A few of my grandmother’s things brighten up our living room with a flash of color. 

I love changing things up with the seasons – or anytime, really, if I’m bored with them.  I’ve always got some project ideas in mind.  I got a few boxes of my grandmother’s old glass Ball canning jars in the basement, and I’m getting some good ideas for putting them to use.  I also have these wooden frames; Phil said he could get glass cut to fit, so all I need to do is fix up the wood. 

I’m contemplating painting them in all different colors to display Gwen’s artwork, and am also toying with the idea of trying to adhere fabric to the edges.  Do you think Mod Podge would work?

Well, it’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun.  It’s almost time to pick up the little monsters and start thinking about dinner.  Think I’ll see if I can knit a few more rows…

Unexpected Organization

If my house is a chaotic and messy, I feel out-of-control.  Putting things in their place, having things in order, gives me a sense of calm.  I don’t mind a little clutter here and there, but when books and toys and socks and who-knows-what-else are strewn all over the floor and trickling throughout the house, under cabinets, inside cabinets, underneath the beds quite possibly never to be found again, I can feel myself getting impatient and edgy.  Nevermind that I pick up the same things a thousand times a day.  But I digress!

I. love. organizing.  Especially when I get something new.  I’ll walk around the house, putting it here and there, trying to find The Perfect Place for it.  My husband looks at me and grins at Christmas-time, because he knows I won’t rest until all my gifts are safely tucked away in their new locations. 

It amazes me how much time one can spend just moving crap from one place to another, and when the job is a mandatory one (like cleaning out the attic or basement – UGH), I don’t always find pleasure in it.  But for the most part, I get happy fuzzy feelings when things are In Their Place. 

I’ve always found it refreshing to go through and sort things according to what we no longer need, what we can get rid of and/or donate.  After reading about a downsizing challenge, I got more strict with our posessions.  Fewer things to trip over!  Fewer things for the kiddos to fight over!  Less laundry!  I didn’t limit our wardrobe to ten pieces or keep two toys apiece for each child, but I have been a tad more merciless regarding what stays and what goes.  And when Gwendolyn sees me getting rid of toys (both old and new), it becomes an excellent teaching tool – we don’t need so much stuff, other children can’t afford all these nice things, we should be thankful for what we have.  She got so excited when she spotted some of “her” things on a recent trip to the consignment store where I dropped off some things; luckily she didn’t ask to take any of them home. *grin*

Home Made Simple sends out e-mails every now and then with some great tips, recipes, crafts, and so forth.  The last one showed some new uses for ice cube trays, and while I’ve seen similar things in the past, I actually decided to try it this time. 

Gwendolyn’s hair clips looks so cute and… well… organized!

While cleaning out my grandmother’s home, I found some snazzy vintage trim in her box of sewing notions.  We’ve already covered the fact that I can’t sew, but I took it anyway, just in case.  

I love how her orange walls seem to coordinate with everything!

Why buy a barette holder? Just hang some ribbon & you’re golden.

Gwendolyn’s room seems to have some of the most organizing potential; she has all these little-girl things that need a place of their own.  I love hand-me-downs, especially from family members.  The iron bed reflected in the mirror above was her Meme’s childhood bed that we painted white, and the mirror/dresser belonged to my grandmother.  A couple other recycled treasures:

 Dress-up jewelry in one of her great-grandma’s jewelry boxes.

 Great-Grandma’s trunk stores her dress-up clothes. Another trunk serves as our coffee table – great for game storage!

Josiah gets kinda jipped – his room houses his crib and clothing, but it’s more of a common playroom for the kiddos.  Here we see some more traditional, yet ever-so-handy, organizing components: bins and baskets.

Tupperware bins store toys – especially those you don’t want readily accessible to the kiddos (e.g. playdough).

Have I mentioned how much I love baskets? I have some in every room of the house.  They’re just so handy, and come in many shapes and sizes.

Small basket of toys in Josiah’s crib. I keep hoping these will keep him occupied when he wakes up at 6 in the morning. *sigh*

I get this immense satisfaction when I find just the right container for something. These lullaby CDs fit perfectly.

I am forever finding new places for their hygiene accessories, like wipes, lotion, powder, and so forth. Sometimes I keep ’em on the changing table, then I move them to the bathroom, then I need them in the kitchen. I have gotten spares for each room… but sometimes I want that specific brand or scent.

Currently the baby powder & related paraphernalia are stored in a little metal bucket on the back of the toilet.

In the upstairs bathroom, I have a couple baskets being put to work. However, one of my favorite little pieces that I often move from room to room is this twig plant holder that I repurposed:

The container with 3 spots houses deodorant, lotion, makeup brushes, & a decorative bottle.

I wish I could fix up furniture, upcycle odds and ends and make something totally new, but my craftiness extends only so far. However, I do like using pieces for things other than that for which they were originally intended. Think Outside the Box. Or, er, vase:

Purple vase from Homegoods holds toothpaste & toothbrushes.

I love form and function!  These old picnic baskets stacked on top of one another are great for stashing things:

Often used as a catchall since they hide stuff quite nicely; you’d never know it.

There are all different kinds of baskets, and I love the hanging plant baskets that I use for storing fruit in my kitchen:

Josiah is always pointing to these, asking for bananas. He thinks because he can see them, they’re fair game.

I didn’t take pictures of all my baskets, thank goodness, but I love the ones that are bin-shaped.  We have three on the stairs that we use as a sort of baby gate, since we’re not big on baby-proofing.  These hold legos, blocks, and other toys.  And this fabric-covered bin holds all of my knitting stuff – I love the splash of color!

Keeps my knitting stash handy dandy! And upstairs, away from the kiddos.

Another one of my favorite ways to combine decoration and organization is using bottles and jars for collections.  One of my gradmother’s old blue Ball jars serves as a bookend for some of my cookbooks:

Others store pennies, marbles, and a collection of feathers:

This Christmas, I used a big ol’ pickle jar, piled ornaments inside, and roiled some twine around the mouth:

In keeping with the holiday theme, you could try balling up a string of lights inside a jar. 

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve been wanting to make a time capsule jar – put in a favorite photo, and any other mementos or little treasures that tickle your fancy.  Kind of like a scrapbook-in-a-jar.  You could give it as a gift, or keep it yourself and change it with the seasons.

We love cheese and buy a couple blocks of it every two weeks or so.  We do not, however, have much use for a cheese cloche.  Since it looks so pretty, I decided to showcase some of our shells on the bookshelf:

Yes, we do have your average bins for clothes storage, reusable grocery bags that are strewn around the house for wrangling odds and ends, some laundry baskets for the ubiquitous piles of clothing, but these aren’t the things that make me happy.  I do like getting them organized and put away.  Out of sight.  

I’d love to hear some of your organizing ideas, especially the pretty ones.