Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Valentine's Day and House Projects

It's become a yearly tradition that I make Peppermint Patties for Valentine's Day.  I use this recipe.  I add a little bit of red food coloring to make the middle pink and then cut them out with heart shaped cookie cutters before dipping them in chocolate.  I've also found that I like using Bakers semi-sweet chocolate to dip them in rather than chocolate chips because it goes on much smoother and easier.

These things really are so delicious.  

When Tim asked me what I wanted for V-day, I gave him a list of house projects I wanted him to do. We're romantic like that.

My List:

1. Finish hanging the kitchen light
2. Fix the drywall in the guest bathroom
3. Finish the shelves in kid's bathroom

Months ago, I ordered a new light to hang above the kitchen table and we finally got it just a few days before V-day.  Tim hung it up for me right away, but both the electrical cord and chain still needed to be shortened for it to look right.  So on Valentine's Day, while Peyton and I were at a friend's  house for a v-day party, Tim fixed it for me. 

Below is the before picture of our previous light fixture.  This light fixture came with the house. There's nothing really wrong with it except that it's just not my taste and it doesn't really enhance the space in any way.  It took me a while to figure out what I wanted there instead though (choosing light fixtures are hard for me), so I waited until I found something I loved.

The Before:

And here is the after!  

We bought the Marseille Globe light from Magnolia Market.  I fell in love with this light when I first saw it in a home on Fixer Upper.  (Please tell me you watch this show on HGTV!)

I love that it's rustic, but simple too.  I think it adds some really fun character to our kitchen.  

Last week, I decided to give our downstairs guest bathroom a small makeover.  I've never blogged about this bathroom before because it's in our basement, there's not much to it, and we don't use it very often.  But it's the one that our guests use when they stay with us and I've been wanting to make it more inviting.  I've just never been very inspired on how to update it.  Then while I was at HomeGoods last week, I came across a small chippy painted cabinet that I thought would look perfectly cute hanging over the toilet in that bathroom.  Well, then I decided I needed to paint the walls before I hung the cabinet.  And then this led to also wanting to paint the sink base.  And since we were already doing everything else, I thought it would be best to go ahead and update the mirror too.  (Does this remotely sound like that children's book, If you give a mouse a cookie? Ha!) So one thing led to another and before I knew it, I had taken out the old medicine cabinet/mirror and we had a giant hole in the wall.  You can see straight through to the storage room. Oops!  So patching that drywall is also on Tim's V-Day project list.

And hopefully I'll have a little mini-bathroom makeover to show you guys soon. 

And the last project he's working on for me is the shelving in the kids bathroom.  This one is nothing super exciting, just one of those things that needs to be done.  When we moved in, I took the old shutter door off  the front and left the shelves open because I love the look of open shelves.  The problem was that it looked very sloppy and unfinished in places.  It's been bugging me all this time, but it's always been near the bottom of the to-do list.  Then a few weeks ago (right before he left for Belgium), Tim ripped out all the shelves and the molding, patched and sanded the walls, and then I painted them while he was out of the country.  So now I am just ready to get this job finished and be done with it. 

 The before:

This past weekend, he put in floating shelves for me, and already it looks so much nicer than the old shelves.

Hopefully in the next few days, I will get them painted and then I need to hunt down some baskets to fit inside them.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

De-cluttering and Simplifying with Kids

Maybe it's due to the start of a new year or to the overload of stuff that comes with Christmas or maybe it's because I've been reading a lot of minimalism and even some tiny-home blogs, but lately I've been really motivated to de-clutter and quiet our home.  It's something I do pretty regularly anyway (I actually love to de-clutter), but then there are also times, like lately, when I get extra motivated to get the excess out of our house and find better ways to organize what's left. (Helpful hint: Always wait to organize until after you've first de-cluttered.)  

Over the past several weeks, I've gone through clothes, kitchen drawers, closets, toys, books and even our basement storage and laundry rooms. I've been donating, selling things on Craigslist, and giving things away that we no longer need or use. It's not that I want to be a complete minimalist or live in a tiny-home (although I do find this a little bit fascinating), it's just that I love the idea behind all of it…. less stuff to maintain means more time to focus on other things that you love… your family and friends, travel, hobbies, whatever it is that you find important.  I also love how my house feels with less stuff in it.  I am way less overwhelmed when I don't have stuff everywhere to constantly pick up and put away.  In fact, when I am feeling overwhelmed by the state of our home, instead of just cleaning and putting things away, I usually start tossing things in the trash and into the donate pile.  And afterwards, I feel so much better!  Give it a try sometime and let me know what you think!

Over the years, I've learned a lot about keeping the stuff in our home under control.  I still have more to learn and this is an area I always push myself to do better in because it feels so good to have a tidy, organized home.  One of the biggest challenges to having a tidy home right now is all the things that come with having three kids.  Early on as a mom, I bought a lot of stuff for my kids.  If it was on sale and I liked it (and we had the money), I bought it.  It didn't so much matter if they already had all the shoes they needed, if I found a great deal on a cute pair of shoes, I would buy them. If Gap had a sale, I was there stocking up on cute clothes. This was not such a big deal when I just had one kid, but as we had more kids, the stuff just grew and grew.  The more kids, the more stuff, and at times it just overwhelmed me. I felt like I was always picking up and putting things away, organizing and re-organizing. And finding spots for it all was challenging and frustrating.  I don't remember when it happened, but overtime, I learned that constantly buying so much just wasn't working for me or helping me keep a tidy, un-cluttered home.  So I started de-cluttering and it felt so good that I just kept doing it.  Somewhere along the way, I learned about minimalism and although I don't think I would ever be true minimalist (I like warm and cozy spaces with textures and layers too much), I am so inspired by their perspectives on life and stuff.  I could read minimalism blogs for hours.  And over time, I feel in love with de-cluttering and organizing our home.

This really is a never-ending process because as much as I try to limit what comes in to our home, there is always stuff coming in. Whether from Christmas or birthdays, paper clutter, free things given to my kids, hand-me-downs from others, or stuff we buy on our own, there is always stuff coming in. So I have learned that I have to be very pro-active in consistently getting things out of our house or the stuff starts to take over.    

In a sense, I am constantly challenging the things that are in our house with the statement, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."  (quote by William Morris)  Once an object stops being beautiful or helpful to our family, it's more of a hindrance to us if we keep it because then we have to maintain it, store it, clean it, pick it up, organize it, step over it, etc.  Getting rid of things we neither need or love frees up both our time and our space to allow other things that are more important to us into our life.  

Here are a few tips for de-cluttering that I have learned over the years... 

1. Throw stuff away….all the time. Plastic junk toys (especially if they make noise!). Free stuff. Broken toys. Toys with missing pieces. Magazines. Socks with holes. Trinkets.  Art projects.  School papers.  Random objects that you are clueless about.  Just throw it away.  Secret tip: when you put it in the trash, cover it up with another piece of trash so your kids don't see it and pull it back out like it's their long lost most favorite thing in the world. 

2. Always have a donate box.  Whether you keep it in the basement, laundry room, garage, or closet, have a box that is specifically for donating.  Then when you come across anything that you know you no longer want or need or like, you can quickly just toss it in the box. So as soon as your kid grows out of a pair of shoes or pants, instead of shoving them back in the closet or bottom of the drawer to deal with later, just toss them in the donate box.  It's that simple and you don't have to give things a second thought or waste a lot of time going through things.  When the box gets full, donate it.  And then immediately get another box and keep that process going.  Another secret tip : Keep this box hidden from your kids or they will go through it and beg you to keep all the things!

3.  Have a "toy holding box". This is a secret box or black garbage bag that you keep out of sight from your kids where you toss their toys, books, or stuffed animals when you notice that they don't play with them anymore.  Don't donate these things right away, unless you're sure they are done with them.  Wait and see if your kid asks for the toy in the upcoming weeks or months.  If after a few months, your kid never even notices that you took away a toy, it's probably safe to donate it and it will never be missed.  On the other hand, if they miss their toy soon after you take it away, it's great to be able to pull it out of the box and hand it back to them.  

I do a very similar thing with their drawings, crafts, and art work.  I will put it in a drawer for a while and see if they ever ask to look at it again. Sometimes they will and I can pull it back out and give it to them. But if several weeks go by and it's been forgotten, then I toss the picture, craft, art work, etc… in the trash (unless it's super special).  Otherwise, I would have these things coming out my ears. 

4.  Be very selective and buy less.  This is a big part of keeping your home tidy and de-cluttered.  The less you bring into your home, the less you have to pick up, maintain, and find places to store.  Remind yourself before you buy something that you will have to find a place to keep it.  This thought automatically keeps me from buying giant plastic toys that will take up a large amount of floor space and become part of the room decor.  I also remind myself that most likely I will be the one cleaning said toy or clothes or shoes up off the floor a lot.  When you are buying birthday or Christmas presents for your kids, really think through each purchase because you are going to be the one tripping over it all the time. Think outside the box of just more toys too. You could get them tickets to a special event,  sign them up for an extracurricular activity, camp, a sports team, piano lessons, etc.  

I've read articles about  how having less toys benefits your kids in many different ways. It really makes me think about how much my kids have and I feel better about limiting the amount of toys in our home.  I also read about this mom who took her kids toys away and although I don't think I will ever go as far as she did, her story has stuck with me and I am intrigued by all the benefits like contentment, creativity, less fighting, and patience that she noticed in her kids afterwards. 

When you are more selective and buy less, it also affords you the possibility of buying better quality things.  Whether we are talking about toys, clothes, shoes, tools, or house stuff, less really is more!  I finally learned that my kids don't need that many clothes and shoes. They almost always wear the same clothes over and over anyway.  They have their favorites and the rest just takes up drawer and closet space.  They just need enough so that I don't have to wash laundry all the time without them running out of anything. I feel the same way about shoes, the less the better. Otherwise I am constantly tripping over their shoes or trying to find the particular ones they want to wear.  It's so much simpler to have less shoes.  

5. Ask your kids what they don't want anymore.  If they have 40 toy cars, could they pick out their top 20 or 30 and donate the rest? Can your daughter narrow down her baby dolls or stuffed animals to just a few favorites?  If you have an older child that is reluctant to part with things, offer to sell their stuff on Craigslist or in a garage sell for them and let them have the money (This always motivates Tyson to find things he doesn't really play with).  Or challenge them to find 5 things they don't want anymore, then celebrate with ice cream or a cookie.  Baby steps.   

6. Get rid of extras/multiples.  Shampoo bottles and other bathroom supplies, duplicate toys and books, sheets, towels, blankets, travel coffee mugs, dishes, the list goes on.  Figure out how many of something you really need/use and get rid of the rest.  We don't have to be prepared for the apocalypse.  Let some things go and trust that you will be able to survive with less.  This will open up a ton of space in your cabinets and closets.  

So those are my tips.

What about you guys?  Do find it hard to keep your house de-cluttered?  What's your biggest challenge in this area? Do you have any great tips for me?

One last tip: Start with the easiest stuff first and then work your way to the harder things.  This way you  will see a difference faster and be encouraged to keep going.  Have fun!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

LOVE Marquee Letters

A few weeks ago, while we were at Kohl's shopping the after Christmas sales, I came across their Marquee signs and letters on a big discount.  I had been wanting "LOVE" in metal letters and although these letters were red on the outside (which wasn't my favorite), I knew I could spray paint them another color, so I snatched them up because the price was too good to pass them up.

I debated spray painting the outside of them black, gray, and white, but since I had a can of white spray paint on hand and didn't want to go to the store, I decided to try white first.  And I ended up loving them white.

I've tried them out in a few different places in our home, but really like them on my faux fireplace mantel where I can see them often.  I don't usually do much, if any decorating for Valentine's Day, but I like that these letters are simple and understated in a way that works well with Valentine's Day but will also continue to work in the coming weeks of winter.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Giant Wall Clock DIY

I wanted to pop in here to show you guys a project I did recently.  Over the last few weeks, I've seen giant wall clocks popping up around the blogosphere.  But when I started looking around for one to buy, I discovered they are quite expensive. Then I got the idea that I could DIY my own.

The first thing I needed was a large round piece of wood.  So I went to my local Habitat for Humanity Restore to look for a table top I could use.

I found this wooden antique table and thought it would be perfect once I took the legs off.  Plus the guy sold it to me for $25 which I felt was a steal.  It's almost 4 feet in diameter, so it's large.

I considered leaving it the natural wood because I loved the aged look it had, but it blended in too much with the color of my wall and I really wanted it to pop, so I decided to paint it white.  I printed out the Roman Numerals "X, V, and I" in a font and size that I liked.  Then Tim figured out the center of the circle so I could find the correct placement of my numbers.  This was the hardest part and it took some trial and error.  And it's definitely not perfect.

I used tracing paper to trace the numerals onto the clock and then painted them in.  And finally, I gave it a good distressing.  We have a large blank area on the wall in our entryway and I've been wanting to put a large statement piece there, so this is where Tim hung it up for me.

I know there are clock kits you can buy to turn it into a real working clock, but I'm kinda loving it the way it is right now.