Monday, March 28, 2011

For The Love of My Dad!

One year ago today, Monday, March 28th, my beautiful and wonderful father passed away.  I miss him everyday.  I think about the wonderful things that he taught me and my siblings over the years.  My Dad was hard working and a man of the earth - he believed in hard work and getting your hands dirty and that is just a couple of the traits I learned from him that I treasure so dearly.  One of his passions and talents was woodworking.  His legacy is a plethora of wood projects that he built - mostly without ever using a pattern - that he shared with his family and that hold a special place in the homes of my mom, me, my siblings and my nieces and nephews.

Me and my Dad on my Wedding Day in 2002 - one of my most treasured memories of my Dad!

In honor of my dad, I want to share a few of these projects that I cherish in my home.  Everything that my father built was made with love.  Each piece is built to last, is solid wood (mostly oak) and is perfect.  Each piece was truly a labor of love.  He made sure that each and every kid, grandkid and great-grandkid had atleast one piece that was made by him.  I cannot tell you how much the pieces that are in my home mean to me.


Matching nightstands - 2

Deacons Bench


Doll Crib




There is one more piece, a cocktail table that I was unable to take a picture of because it was covered up with too much stuff and I did not have time to pull it out and take a picture before we left on vacation.  I am sure there are a few smaller things as well.  I was a bit sad to move from our old house because my Dad had helped us pull the center out of a couple of the kitchen cabinet doors and replace them with glass.  Everytime I opened that door I thought of him.  I will try to share pictures of that project another day as it was such a great and easy project to add some character to a kitchen.

I love you and miss you Dad!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Now I Know My ABCs...

I am absolutely giddy about sharing this project as I have wanted to do this ever since I saw the alphabet wall posts here, here and here.  So the end of January and early February, I began collecting my letters.  My goal was to complete this project while my Mom was visiting but of course I decided to broke my wrist instead.  Last week, while waiting for customers to come to our yard sale, I began decorating some of my letters. A few of the letters still need to be embellished but I just had to share because I absolutely love it!

I absolutely love the kids playroom.  The upstairs at our house is essentially four bedrooms and a bathroom.  My concern when we were painting up there is that it would look like a rainbow with different colors in every room - and by colors I mean bright colors.  Our daughter's room is bright pink and green while our son's  room is denim blue and brick red.  We decided to use the green from S's room and the blue from Z's room to paint the playroom.  In the kids rooms we have accent walls but we decided to try a stripe in the play room and it turned out awesome.  There is a 2' stripe of green at the top and bottom with 4' stripe through the middle.

This project was so much fun and I wish I could do it again as I have so many ideas for items to use in lieu of letters like O, T, U, C, Q and others.  But alas, the project is done and it turned out awesome.  The entire project was under $40 as many of the letters were $1 or less and the embellishing of them was craft paint and scrapbook paper that I already had on hand.

A few of my favorite's were...

In honor of our hometown team - University of Arizona - Go Cats.
I made this one by finding an A on-line, blowing it up, printing it out, tracing it on red, white & blue felt, cutting them out and gluing them together.  I used the stiff felt for the blue so that the letter had some rigidity.

Man on the Moon Letter C!
The letter C was a really ugly moon decoration I found at The Dollar Tree.  I simply painted it yellow to give it a "cheese" look.  I like that you can tell that it is a moon but can also see that it is a C.

Crayola Crayon E
The playroom is definitely home to the crayon crowd at our house - although, crayons, markers and the like are not allowed upstairs unless an adult is present hee hee!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring is Here!

Spring is shortlived in Arizona, but those handful of days when the weather is not too hot, not too cold are glorious.  The last couple of weeks have been Spring for sure and we are loving it.  The signs of spring are everywhere...

The kids and I have enjoyed watching a momma dove sitting on these 2 eggs nestled on a palm frond on our pool fence the past week or so.  I tried to get a photo of the momma but she flew away when I got too close.

When my Mom was here she did a couple of gardening projects with the kids which they have loved.  They planted lettuce, zinnias, marigolds and four o'clocks.  The lettuce and zinia's sprouted right away.  The others are coming although I am not certain if we have a marigold growing or a week.  Time will tell.  They also planted some marigold plants out front and it is fun to see a touch of color by the front door.  So far, we have done a great job of remembering to water them everyday.  We are actually thinking we should plant some more lettuce as it will be fun to have a salad with lettuce from our own back yard.

Today we decided to throw together a quick Target Dollar Spot Spring decoration using some of the great things they have right now.  I love these larger metal pails (lets just say, I have bought more than a dollar's worth).  Simple project, styrofoam in the pail, trimmed the sticks of a couple of the bird houses, pushed in a few of the planter picks and covered with moss.  Oh, and the blue Easter M&M was a touch offered up by my daugher.  It is a great centerpiece on our table.

52 Weeks: Where Will You Start?

So I may be a little late to the game but one of my first blogs that I started to follow was I'm an Organizing Junkie and in January she started an awesome series called 52 Weeks of Organizing.  Each week she shares a new tip or project.  I love it.  Well, I didn't jump on board right away, but after having a spur of the moment yard sale this week, I am ready to jump in full force and make some progress on our house.

We moved in to our new house in November and having lived here nearly 5 months, I finally am starting to get a feel for the place and "how" we use each room (or want to use each space).  Now it is time to get our systems in place and find homes from some of the "stuff" that is sitting in the garage and front room.

Laura created a great checklist form to help me put my projects down on paper.  I am a big fan of lists (thanks mom) and love to check things off so this is totally up my alley.  Of course, I also know, putting it out there for the world to see is here is my first 10 projects - no particular order.

Project #1:  Donate
Yard sale is over and now it is time to donate the remaining items.  Okay, a couple of them will go on craigslist, but the rest needs to go.  I will be loading up my car and heading over to a couple of our favorite charities next week.

Project #2:  Financial Papers
I was working on our taxes the other day and realized that I have a good 8 months worth of bills and "paper" that need to be organized and filed.  My goal for this week is to get through those stacks, sort, shred, file and officially close the door on 2010.  I will also get my 2011 files in order so we can stay on top of it better this year.  I know it is already easier since I have gone paperless on much of this already.

Project #3:  Decor Items
Our front room has been used as a staging area ever since we moved in.  This space was designed as the formal living and dining area - and we are NOT formal.  Our ultimate goal is to make this a family fun room with a pool table, table for games and crafts and more.  The immediate goal for this room is to sort through all of the home decor items in this room, find homes for them, store them for future projects or get them ready for a home decor swap idea I have.

Project #4:  Organize the Swimming Pool Stuff

With the weather warming up and swim season right around the corner, it is imperative that we get our swim gear in order.  I need to verify what we have/need for suits, towels, toys, chemicals, etc.  We also need to sit down and create some pool rules since this is our first year owning a house with a pool.  We need to make sure our kids understand the responsibility of being by the pool and have guidelines in place for when we have friends over.  This is a big project but one that we are very excited about.  We put the solar blanket ont he pool today so I am sure we will be swimming sooner than later as the Arizona sun is toasty warm these days.

Project #5:  Organize the Cupboards between the Pantry and Fridge
We have a great section of cabinets that are like bonus cabinets in our kitchen.  I want this area to be accessible to the kids to get cups, plates and things that they can use.  This is also our "bar" area where I need to finish repositioning the pull out shelf for the tall bottles, create a better coffee station and install some undercabinet lighting.

Project #6:  Master Bathroom
The master bathroom has a tremendous amount of storage that is currently A MESS!!!  I need a plan.  Not sure what it will look like just yet but these cabinets with no shelves need a purpose.

Project #7:  Command Center
The goal is to create a command center for our family where we keep our master calendar, important papers, a place to drop our keys and more.

Project #8:  Photo Management
I need to spend a day or two organizing all my digital photos, deleting the bad ones and then getting them ALL backed up (before I have a computer failure and lose them all).

Project #9:  Scrapbooking Supplies
These are sort of all over the place.  I need to get them all together so I can sort through them and get a plan to set up our new office/craft room.

Project #10:  The Office
The office needs a plan.  There is lots of stuff in there right now that needs to find a home or go away (I vote go away on alot of it but we will see).

Hang on, this is going to be a wild ride!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Purse Clean-up

Being laid up with my right arm in a sling (read all about it here) and mostly home-bound is like a severe level of torture to me.  I am a busy-body and sitting around letting or asking others do stuff for me is very difficult.  Before I get to the meat of my project today - I must give a huge blog land shout out to my Mom (who headed back to Minnesota on Sunday after 4 incredible weeks staying with us), my husband, kids, in-laws and friends for helping me out while I recover from the great roller-skating stupidity incident of 2011!  Special thanks to my friend Keri who delivered a venti java chip frappucino light with whip this morning and enchiladas to feed my family tonight.  You all rock. (And yes, this entire post has been written using the hunt-n-peck method which is gruelling for someone who considers herself a fairly good typer.)

Today I decided I needed to do something so I have started small - cleaning my purse.  As most women know, this can be an adventure.  I will admit, it was not the worst case of junkification I have encountered in my purse, but there was an interesting surprise.

Before I start, I have a couple of confessions to make.  First, I HATE my purse, and I have since the first day I bought it. It hangs open, with all my junk hanging out for the world to see.  Despite its compartments, stuff gets lost and I can't find anything.  Second, I am NOT a purse girl (or a shoe girl) - I know, punch my women card, but I just don't see the point of a purse for every occasion or a shoe for every outfit.  I am a utilitarian and believe a nice purse can do it all and a few key versatile pairs of shoes can get me by. I do have a small, black one for formal events, otherwise, it is a one do-it-all purse. As far as shoes, sneakers, a couple pair of sandals and some basic black slip-ons and I am good to go. So many other wonderful things to spend my money on.  Speaking of money, I don't believe in spending more than say $30 on a purse. I will never have a big-name purse with fancy initials unless I find one at Goodwill and even then it is not likely.  I will spend a bit more on a pair of shoes as I have that makes a difference on so many levels but even then I have to find a bargain.

But, I digress, my purpose today was to clean this slouchy mess. 

Step One:  Empty It Out
I flipped it over and dumped out everything from each compartment.  Yikes!

Not too bad, except for this little surprise that only a mom in the Happy Meal apple dipper club can appreciate...

Yes, that is a leaky caramel container with money, a straw wrapper and a pencil all stuck to the lining of my purse or an ooey, gooey mess!  I pulled it all out and soaked my lining in a small bowl of hot water.  To my joy, the caramel melted away in about 60 seconds and all was well with the world.  yeah me!

Step Two:  Sort and Declutter
This part was fairly easy.  Small pile of trash, 4 containers of lotion (I removed 2 of them), bunch of loose coupons which were returned to my coupon file, paint chips placed in a new baggie to keep them contained, wallet contents returned to their designated spots, loose change removed, etc.

Step Three:  Re-Stock
Finally, I put back the wallet, the paint chips, the toiletry necessities, a few pens, notebook, point-and-shoot camera, my phone and my keys.  Ahhhh, much better.

My purse secrets and tips...

1.  Keys - losing your keys in the bottom of your purse can be an issue.  My lifesaver is a simple caribiner that allows me to clip my keys to my purse strap or even my belt loop so they can't get buried in the bottom of my purse.

2. Key tags - a bonus of the caribiner is to place your store cards and key-tag gift cards on a separate ring which can easily be removed at the Starbucks drive-thru without turning off the car or rummaging in your wallet for money.  Just speaking from experience.

3. Scraggly Ends - You know, those loose threads that make your purse old and worn.  Like this...

Here is my simple solution...burn them off.  I have tried to cut them, but found that a quick flame can clean them up and "melt" the thread so they don't fray again.  Instantly makes the purse look clean and fresh. 

I would have shown you a picture of the method but the wrist in a splint made it difficult to master both flame & camera without burning down my forever house so I am leaving the process up to you!

4.  Decorating Must-Haves -- With a new house that is evolving, I have found a few must-haves to keep in my purse to make that hunt for just the right "thing" easier.  These items included...

      • Paint chips - I have paint chips for every room of our house so I can easily see if a color works or clashes.  So important to save time and money on wrong colors and returns.
      • Notebook - Record measurements for key items or areas in your home.  Save ideas, notes about your wish list, etc.  This is also a great place to record prices, sizes and other critical information about items you see at the store that you are not ready to buy.
     • Tape Measure - I am always checking measurements at stores.
    •  Camera - See something at the store that you think might work in your space but not ready to buy, snap a picture.  At a friends or an office and you see an idea you want to steal, snap a picture.  Cameras can also  help get spousal approval and save an argument.  Just saying!  I keep a point & shoot in my purse all the time.  As a mom I have caught some great spur of the moment events with my kids because I just happened to have my camera with me - if you are a scrapbooker this is a must-have.  You can use your phone in a pinch but the quality is just not there if you want to print the photos.

Hope I inspired you to take look at your purse. 

NOTE:  I have added a new, more utilitarian purse to my shopping list. A new wallet is on the list too because the zipper is broken.