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Valentine’s Day Vignette

Well.  It’s Valentines Day so this post is right on the boarder of being irrelevant.  Actually, it’s probably fallen on the “too late” side.  There’s always next year though, right?

We don’t have a mantel in our apartment, but I do have a still unfinished dresser that I’m using as my faux mantel for decorating. And here is the little I decorated it with for this month.

V-Day collage

I think it’s pretty fun in it’s simplicity.  You know my favorite parts?

First, the brass deer.  Those were my paternal grandma’s.  Her house was FULL of awesome little tchotchke. When she moved into an assisted living place she went from a 4,000+ square foot house to a 1 bedroom apartment so there was a LOT of stuff that couldn’t go with her.  After she chose what she wanted my dad and his siblings went through it.  Then whatever was left they donated.  There were over 4 moving trucks (4 trucks!) full of stuff left over.  I was living out of state at the time so my little brother texted me pictures of things he thought I might like then held onto them for me until I flew home for a visit.  These awesome little dear were a no brainer, but a little heavy in my carry on :).  Totally worth it though.


  But my very favorite thing, not just in the vignette, but in my whole house, is the large painting of the little girl.  That painting was done by my aunt Sue.  I never met her; she died of cancer in her early 20′s.  But I’ve heard amazing stories about her.  She was an artist and clothing designer.  This painting is of her mom (my maternal grandma) as a child.  It was hanging in grandma’s great room for as long as I can remember and every time I visited (almost weekly!) someone always mentioned how much it looked like me, too.  Oh how I loved to hear that!  My grandma was pretty stellar.  I’ll have to write a post about her someday.

So anyway.  That is my lovely little (and slightly late) Valentines Day vignette.

How about you? Do you decorate for Valentines Day or do you stick with generic winter decor all season?


New Year Organization

*I meant to have a great “welcome 2013!” post this morning, but time got away from me.  And one of my goals for this year is not to stress too much when things aren’t going exactly to plan.  So I made a new plan :) This post is from my other blog, So You Think You’re Crafty, from a few years ago that I think you might enjoy.  It’s  been a system I’ve been using for years and I love it.  Sorry for the 2011 date on it.  I’ve updated my binder(everything is basically the same except the date), but not any of the pictures :)*

So I’m sure a lot of you get the itch around January to re-organize and get your life back in order like I do.  My problem is that right around October, my motivation seems to go right out the window and all our daily routines go to pot. I’ve tried a lot of things in the past, but this one has helped me out the most.

It’s my “House Happenings” book.  I got the idea from my wonderful friend Sarah.  She is perfect.  Like 100% without flaw.  I’m not kidding.  A few years ago, when I asked her how her house always looks so nice and how she still has time for everything else, she shared her secret.  She pulled out a plain old 3 ring binder and forever changed my life.  When I put mine together I changed a few things to fit my family and our home a little better(and I tweak it every year), but the key point is the same…maintenance.

Spend 15 minutes a day focusing your cleaning on one major room/area of your house with a last minute “attack of the hot spots” (areas that seem to breed disorder & clutter) right before bed, as well as one day a week to different “chores” you have to do.  That way you spread your weekend load throughout the week and just maintain it as you go.  I’m not saying my house is now spotless and ordered all the time(I do have a 4 yr old) and that every little thing gets done, but it’s a heck of a lot better.

Here is what’s inside my book.

I have it split up into 9 categories –  Routines, Calendars, Menus & Recipes (for the upcoming week), Church Info, Missy’s Notes, Abbi’s Notes, Brad’s Notes, Budget, & Goals.

Under “Routines” I have a morning and evening checklist…

and a daily checklist.  It has a daily “chore” or theme that the day focuses around (Monday is the wash day, Tuesday meal planing, Errands on Wednesday, Thursday is paperwork and letter/thank you note writing, Friday is for any needed home projects, Saturday is a family fun day, and a day to relax on Sunday).

I also have a checklist of what to focus on for each of the 15 minute cleans under this section. It may take more time than the 15 minutes at first, but once you get it to where you want it the maintenance is easy.

The other sections are all pretty much self explanatory.  It’s a fantastic way to keep everything together so anyone in the family can be on the same page.

Do any of you have a system your family uses to stay on track?

DIY iPhone Prop {tutorial}

Last week Abi and I flew from Boston to Salt Lake City to visit family.  I knew that I needed something to help entertain her for the long flight so I downloaded some movies onto my phone. Then I realized there was little to no chance of her willingly holding the phone long enough to make it through the movie and there was no way I was going to do it for her.

So, true to form, I hopped on Pinterest to see what they have to say about phone props.  I couldn’t really find any tutorials that I liked, but I did find a picture of one that looked easy enough.

I was so excited and got working right away creating and documenting the process.  Then I accidentally deleted all photos on my camera because sometimes I’m awesome like that.  I plan on making a few more of these in the very near future, but until then here is a little run down with a few sketches of what I did.

First I found a piece of fabric in my stash about 8×10 inches.  I folded that in half – right sides together – and sewed one short side and the long side shut. Then I turned it right side out.

Next I filled the bottom inch or so with uncooked rice. Then I sewed two lines of stitches with about an inch of space between them.

Then, fill the last section with rice, but instead of closing it up with the seem parallel to the two that you just did, sew it perpendicular to those seems so that you create a triangle.  Does that make sense?  You can kinda figure it out by looking at the finished photo above.

And that’s it!  A prefect solution that gave me (and more importantly, the other passengers on the plane) some piece and quiet for a little bit.


Microwave Neck Warmer

I am in great need of a new mattress, but that major purchase is a little bit low on our priority list right now.  That means that sometimes I wake up with a pretty kinked neck and sore low back.  I’ve had a microwave heat bag for a few years now that’ I’ve been really happy with.  But the time has come for a change.  The cover on it was really dirty and there were a few improvements that I wanted to make.


I already had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I decided to check out Pinterest before I started and I’m glad I did.  I found this great tutorial -

Heat Pack How-To via Chez Larsson

that had two ideas I hadn’t thought of my own.

First – make a cover and an insert; like a pillow and pillow case.  That way when the cover gets gross and dirty you don’t have to make a whole new gab, you can just take the cover off and wash it.

Second – to section off the insert so the rice/wheat/pasta stays evenly distributed.  No more having one big clump of stuff at one end and nothing at the other.

I followed the tutorial pretty spot on.  The only difference is that I used 2 hand towels from the dollar store for my fabric – a normal cotton one for the insert and a soft terry cloth one for the cover.  It was so simple!

Image Labels for Toy Storage

Remember that laminate painting debacle a few weeks ago?  Well, it did turn out alright and I finally got around to a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

As any mom out there knows, getting your 4 year old to pick up after herself. But I came up a solution…

And guess what?  It has totally worked!  Now Abi is a pro at putting her stuff away on her own.  No more fights  about where stuff goes.

I used my Silhouette cutting machine and their heat transfer material to make a label for the front of the baskets we have for her Expedit bookshelf.  That stuff is so easy to work with, you just cut it out and iron it on. And no, I was in no way compensated for talking about Silhouette.  I just really like them :).

There is a box for each of Abi’s 8 major toy groups: Kitchen toys, animals, dolls, My Little Ponies, dress up accessories, misc toys, doll house accessories and blocks.

Now there is a place for everything and everything is in it’s place.  Yay organization!!

Do you have any good tips on how to get toddlers to clean up after themselves?

A Lesson in Painting Laminate

Remember a few weeks ago when I designed the mood board for Abbi’s room?  Well, I decided to finally getting around to painting the black Expedit bookshelf that we inherited from the people living in our apartment before us.  I wanted it to be a nice crisp white.  So I ran to the local hardware store and spoke with the man at the paint counter.  I let him know that I was painting over laminate and didn’t want to sand so I needed a primer that would cover and adhere well.  He recommended the two-in-one ultra paint & primer and assured me it would work great.

A few hours later I was happy with how shiny and white the bookshelf was looking so I closed the door and let it dry over night.  The next morning I opened the door, happy and optimistic, to find that the paint/primer the man swore would work great didn’t work so great after all.

Whamp. Whamp.  It just peeled right off.  I didn’t even have to try it basically fell off on it’s own.

Once Abbi and I had returned the whole shelf to it’s original black I jumped online to do some research from sources that I trust – home DIY blogs.  And I found exactly what I needed…

Go Ahead & Paint that Laminate via Centsational Girl

I just followed her directions to the letter. After a quick trip back to the hardware store for the Zinnser primer she recommended I was back home and within a few hours had a nice coat of the correct stuff on the bookshelf.  I let it dry over night then followed it with two coats of the paint/primer that failed the first time.

When I walked in this morning I was a little hesitant.  Gone was the happy optimistic girl of yore.  But I was stunned.  That paint is staying put.  I even tried to scratch it with a nail file.  Nothin. Not even a hint of black showing through.


So, take it from me.  Make sure you use the right tools for your project or you’ll be one said lady for a few days.  Trust me.  I can’t wait for it to finish curing so I can make it cute!

Have you every had to learn the hard way when doing a DIY project? 

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