WOW! I just looked at the calendar and today marks exactly 4 months since my last post. As some of you know, H has been out of the country doing is duty, and I was single-parenting through the holidays! I've missed my blog friends, and I've neglected Practical Happyness while making it through the last few months. I'm not gonna lie, it was extremely difficult, the days blurred together in this seemingly mix of cuddles, messes, tantrums and commuting. Every day was 8,000 hours long, with too little time to sleep, and so many milestones hit I couldn't keep track of them all. I often wondered if I'd ever get to do another blog post, or take a shower in silence for that matter! If I could figure out a way to telepathically post while driving to and from work and daycare, then I would've been the blogging queen!
Also, today is when Abby over at Just a Girl and Her Blog announced her Be Bold Challenge, and this little project was the perfect fit! I've been dying to participate in the her co-hosted weekly party so it must have been fate!
Anyway, I'm glad to have H back, and so thrilled to be back here! To kick off the new year, I'm sharing a little craft that I did for Little R's room makeover (which I'll share later, I promise!). It was super simple, and cost all of $20, and I ended up with a room full of beautiful pieces of framed art! First, I started with an array of patterned scrap-booking paper:
Then I printed out animal silhouettes. I copied them in to word so I could size them to my frames. After I cut them out, I paired the paper the way I wanted it. This was probably the hardest part because I knew I wanted pattern on pattern in the frames, for visual interest and to spark the curiosity of Little R. The theme of his room is bold color, with a gray and yellow paint scheme, so I wanted to find a tasteful way to display that without it being overwhelming.
And after many minutes of tracing and cutting, I used double sided tape to hold the animals in place. At the last minutes I decided to label them with permanent marker. The first one I did was a buffalo in blue stripes over old fashioned handwriting:
And a Fawn and Sparrow:
And a poka-dot Lion!
And of course, a Fox:
The colored frames are the NYTTJA frames from Ikea. We had purchased them several years ago for my sisters room. They are still a fantastic deal at 3.99 for a set of two!
Finally, I did something very similar for two larger 12 x 12 frames, which I found at Hobby Lobby on sale for $4 each! An Elephant and Bear seemed just perfect...both large beautiful animals, but from different regions of the world. They both are just like my Little R- strong, sensitive, intuitive, introverted. I layered a patterned filigree paper over a solid, and then chose a yellow and gray pattern for the silhouette. I kept the layering theme for both frames so they looked like a matching/not-matching pair 🙂
Well what do ya'll think? What sort of crafts have you done for your little one's digs? Keep a look out for the big room reveal sometime in the next few days! Love & Happyness to All!
So it took me a whole 24 hours to realize that I initially spelled "peek" wrong, in the photo edits (which I am honestly too tired to fix) and in the title and twice in the body....and yes, I am college educated- I blame it on exhaustion 🙂 And now...on to the Sneak Peek!
We have a TON of stairs in our house....seriously. I think we trek up 35 or so from the garage to the main living area in our "stacked town." A stacked town is just a really fancy way of saying we have a two story condo with a garage- and because our unit encompasses the 3rd/4th building floors that means we get an AMAAAAAZING workout when we carry up the groceries....or the kids...yep...it was spectacular when I was 38 weeks preggo- I had to stop and take breaks to breathe.
Anyway, our builder-grade condo came with builder-grade Carpeting!!! on ALL of the stairs.
We put up with that vacuuming nightmare for about a year before I enlisted the help of my dear Dad to rip the carpet out of the main level and the stairs leading up to it and replace it with very pretty high end but budget friendly tropical darkwood laminate (dogs, kids, heels people!=laminate=no scratched up floor two weeks after installation!)
And I assure you that this project had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that H was overseas at a warzone and I was pregnant and nesting like a hen whose about to hatch eggs. Neither did the repainting-the-whole-house-project or the ripping-out-my-closet-shelves-and-installing-custom-ikea-shelving-at-all-hours-of-the-night-project. My poor neighbors- apparently this is what creative DIY women do when they are nesting.
Anyway- I digress- on a fluke we discovered that we could do the stairs, so we thought it would look really nice with white paneled risers:
By now you should see the dilemma we've been in since- the banisters look downright gross next to those floors! And I'm ashamed to say that- one year in Afghanistan (H), a stint in Nairobi (again H), a high school graduation, an off to college move, two pregnancies and two babies later- we still have not even touched the banisters. So now I've finally begun working on them- except its taking a little bit of time because, well, let's face it babies don't operate on your DIY schedule, or any other schedule for that matter.
I've been working on it in phases, but I'm determined to get it done this upcoming week. We have family coming in to town and I just need to have something DIY and house related finished. So I'm looking to my readers to keep me accountable and showing you a Sneak Peek with a promise that a full account of the methods, steps, calamities and hilarity that involved this project will be posted in the next week or two! I think I'll try Abby's advice here and take a stab at time blocking to get it all done!
We are six weeks in to life with baby 2.0 and a toddler, and I must be going through what H has christened Postpartum Nesting, because I suddenly am overcome with the need to reorganize everything in the house. And I mean everything. Every time I turn a corner I'm staring at unused/misused/disorganized little messes and they are starting to drive me nutty. And the place is overrun with Little P's toys- they appear out of nowhere, right under my feet to injure me in the middle of the night. Now, I typically go through this during the onset of Spring anyway, I love a good spring cleaning like anyone else. But this year the clutter is worse (I blame sleep deprivation) and the feeling of needing to have it all done, like, yesterday! is exponential. This will be the first of several posts on my Springtime/Postpartum Nesting Home Organization Makeover.
Here we go...
I looove our kitchen, and we have a ton of cabinet/pantry/counter space. Anyone would adore this kitchen.
And yet, the kitchen is easily the first to go haywire in our house. It starts with the pantry and ends with teenagers putting things away and toddlers moving everything around! I'm not entirely innocent either- I realized that I had baking goods in virtually every cabinet, and kid/baby dishes in every cabinet, and cups, plates and miscellaneous items of some sort in every cabinet! How did we manage this with so much space?
And don't get me started on the pantry.....
I've really known for a while that I needed to set up zones, but it seemed way too daunting to haul everything out of the cabinets and put it all back. Obviously what I needed was a little postpartum OCD mixed in with the Spring Cleaning Bug and Voila! thus begins the crazy organizing spree in our kitchen....
I wanted to try really hard to follow Jen's advise at IHeartOrganizing and clear out everything, sort, purge, toss and put it all back. The problem was this is what the island looked like when I got only the baking goods out of the pantry:
This is also about the time that I realized that all my baking goods were not going to fit in the single cabinet between the fridge and the stove, and that my "baking" zone was going to be enormous. (Next week you will get to see why, because I have a cake to bake for my sister's Beauty and the Beast cast party.) So instead I did what I always do before I tackle any re-arranging project- I sketched it out on paper as a map.
It's a crude sketch- I know- but this really didn't warrant me digging out the drafting paper and a ruler.
Since there were some things throughout that would remain in their existing cabinet I used my map to tackle one cabinet at a time, clearing a shelf when I needed, and finding the things that needed to go where I put them on the map. So essentially I was emptying other cabinets while organizing one. Whew- hope you followed that crazy thought train- welcome to the world inside my head!
Anyway, in order to not make this post horrendously long (and since I'm already approaching 500 words- I find it funny that producing a 500 word essay for college was much more difficult!), I'm going to post before and afters going clockwise around the kitchen from the pantry (over on the other side of the fridge) around to the door way. You already saw the pantry before....so here is after:
From top to bottom: 1) rarely used appliances and decorating supplies (labels will come later I promise!), 2) baking ingredients and prepping tools, 3) breakfast foods and breads w/ appropriate condiments 4) snacks, crock pot and bread maker 5) picnic basket and Little P supplies- blocks, playdo, art, books, cars on the floor. Remember when I said all of his things were under foot? Well now they are less underfoot and have a place to go at the end of the day. And yes, that's a container with bubbles on the top shelf- because it has to stay out of reach or we're in trouble! In the left door we have grocery bags used for recycling, and in the right door are baking spices and more decorating supplies. I was giddy with Happyness when I got this finished!
Where did the rest of the condiments go? In the cabinet I thought would fit all the baking supplies- HA! It used to hold baby bibs, baby snacks, and baking ingredients! Now we have the spices, dinner prep ingredients, canned goods, and cooking oils all in one place within reach of the stove. This works well since I started meal planning and only shopping according to the plan- this keeps me from having a ton of extra stuff cluttering up the cabinets. If I have extras I put them up behind the cooking oils. In the drawer below are the foil, wrap and Ziploc bags. The cabinet below that holds food storage containers- all nice and handy by the fridge.
What's that on the top shelf you ask? Well our cabinets are super tall- and the top shelf is really unused. So the top shelves in the entire kitchen are dedicated to my grandma's china that I inherited and can't yet part with. It also dominates the never used cabinets above the fridge. You'll be shocked at how big the collection is as we move around the space!
Some time around now H got home to a kitchen that looked like a tornado had rolled through. So we had fast food for dinner- which we almost never do, so that tells you how desperate I was to get this done!
Okay next is what I've dubbed the kid cabinet, which also now holds cook books and recipes (not yet in their place because i have to organize the whole giant pile or random paper-funny how one project instantly necessitates another), pitchers and ice tea bags. Thank you to Jen, for the bib idea and also the idea to store the kiddie utensils in a cup! I've stored extra bibs and kiddie cloths in the drawers below these cabinets. Also in the drawers below are towels and rags, a deep drawer holds pots, a single lower cabinet holds our pans, and another drawer holds our cooking utensils which use to live in a caddy on top of the counter- Hello free counter space!
Now we come to the most useless cabinets in the kitchen- the teeny tiny triangular cabinets flanking the sink. I mean, seriously, we couldn't fit a darn thing in there without it falling out and yet it held many precious items!
So I ransacked the house for every extra little container I could find to house all the things previously in the cabinet. These cabinets hold all the meds and other sick family member supplies. I find it totally appropriate that all the little ones' meds are in a Captain America tin 🙂 !
I will not show you under the sink- because it is still a mess and I classify it as cleaning products- which I envision an entire post on.
Now on to the cabinets that hold the bulk of our dinnerware:
The drawer beneath this cabinet holds our silverware, and a rarely used cabinet holds an assortment of plastic bowls that Little P can play with at will- giving him the feeling that he's doing something sneaky when really I don't care that he's in the cabinet!
And of course, the best is for last, my fav cabinet of all time- the cabinet that is my own personal slice of paradise- the COFFEE cabinet! H is always trying to get me to pare down the coffee mugs- and it's really hard. I mean, coffee and I go way back, we are the best of friends. We've been together through good times and bad and I credit him personally with my success as a wife and mother! (Well not entirely- I guess I owe myself some credit there!) And when I do manage to clear a mug from the cabinet, it usually ends up at the office, or used as a pencil cup. I guess he has a point, the coffee cabinet is pretty crazy looking:
Well now that I look at it- I guess it's not that bad- I've even carved out spots for his cousin, Tea (my grandmother was Irish after all so I enjoy a good cup of tea!) However, it was a little cluttered looking, so...
I'm proud to say that I not only made the Coffee cabinet look this pretty, but I only got rid of 5 mugs that were chipped or were unwanted mugs that had been passed to me when I was poor and in college (seriously, I think one was an old tin camping mug from the sixties)- AND I managed to fit in our vitamins, travel mugs and first aid supplies! Post-its serve as temporary labels until I get around to doing some pretty ones. The bottom shelf holds the coffee, teas, two tea cups (which are the only two we have outside of Grandma's china), and the vitamins. Shelf two has all the paired mugs and travel mugs. The third has all the unique mugs and the first aid stuff. The top shelf holds a rarely used but adorable tea pot and accessories, and all the holiday mugs. The drawers below house coffee filters and scoops, and our junk. The cabinet below that is all things furry friend related- together with transitional items like vases and decorative bowls that I only use when needed or interchange throughout the year.
Notice all my bottom cabinets are latched- which is great since Little P has taken a liking to dog food.
Did I mention all the free counter space I know have?
At this point in the photo op it's like 1:00 in the morning, so I neglected to take a photo of the other counter until today:
Oh goodness, and I forgot to show you the island and the cabinet above the stove- so real quick here we go:
Oh, Holy Happyness- what a beautiful kitchen!
Happyness Tip: Never assume it will only take a couple hours! What I thought would be about a three hour project turned in to 12 hours! Between caring for Little R and getting other things done this ended up being a very long day. Much like this post- which has taken 4 hours to prepare- instead of the 1 hour I had planned for!
It's been a few days- long story short baby has been fussy, Little P had his first ambulance ride (he's fine!), and I've just been flat out exhausted! But finally, on this rather gray Easter Sunday, it's early afternoon- baskets have been opened, brunch eaten, dinner prepped and cooking, and I'm sitting with my afternoon cup of joe feverishly trying to get this post in before Little R wakes up!
I have to admit that, with a new baby in the house, and with the events of this past week, Easter will be slightly anticlimactic this year. Since we endeavor to be practical about things (emphasis on endeavor), we really try not to overdo the holiday drama.
Little P is almost 2 and has yet to see Santa let alone the Easter Bunny. As the hubs puts it- don't we find it a little weird that we spend all this effort teaching our kids not to talk to strangers only to sit them in the laps of strangers for a photo op? Don't get me wrong- we aren't paranoid- honestly the cost/time/effort involved in wrangling Little P to go anywhere does not mesh with the insane line we'd have to stand in at the mall! The DC metro is overcrowded - and we have better (and funner) things to do with our time. To add to things it is rainy today so no Easter Egg hunt for us- and since Little R hasn't had his vaccinations- no Easter mass either. I think the Church and the man upstairs will forgive us 🙂 Our hearts are in the right place!
That being said, I've had the bulk of the Easter shopping done for months. As soon as the Easter stuff debuted at the Dollar Tree, I bought and hid things in the closet. Picked up a little bit of candy this week and I had baskets done for under $15. (By the way, I was at this part when Little R decided to stir and I am now attempting to bounce his bouncy with one hand and blog with the other!)
Aren't these the coolest little eggs for little boys!? (Well actually Little boy and Daddy- because I couldn't resist getting a basketball basket for Husband. I mean it is March Madness after all!) I filled them with Starburst jelly beans and Reese's Pieces eggs.
And I couldn't resist the puppets for $1 each. H and Little P will have a blast with them and the animal capsules that hatch bugs and animals in water.
The budget buster, however, was the Walmart trip to get candy- because the marketing geniuses at Walmart put all the fun summer accoutrements right next to the Easter aisles. That's where I found this awesome blue adirondack chair ($5)! And then on my way around the corner I spotted the football rabbit ($10) and couldn't resist because it fit so well in to my sports theme. So Little P ended up with an extra $15 worth of stuff.
It was totally worth it however, because he was thrilled with his bunny and his chair!
Here we are in the chair, very happy.....
And later decorating said chair with awesome stickers, because every situation calls for boat and helicopter stickers!
It is my hope that everyone takes the time today to enjoy their loved ones and reflect on their blessings! Happy Easter (and Merry Happyness) to all!