Tuesday, December 9, 2014

These Days // 5

These days we are:

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doing: the dishes. I’ve managed to keep my pile of dirty dishes under control for about a month now. “Under control” means that most of the time the counter is clean, and if there is a small pile it doesn’t stay more than a day. Unfortunately, this is a major accomplishment for me. What am I doing differently? Only what my mother has been trying to teach me since childhood – cleaning up my messes as soon as they are made rather than leaving them for later. Turns out she knew what she was talking about…

counting: the days until Christmas! We are using our activity advent calendar again this year, along with a simple ornament advent calendar that Chris used growing up. Charlie looks forward to putting up each day’s ornament and doing each day’s activity. It’s been so fun to see him get excited about the season this year. Thankfully it’s not all about gifts for him yet. He seems to just be enjoying all the other things that make each day special. Hopefully we can keep it that way as he gets older.

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moving: furniture! All of my paper planning is starting to take shape in real life. We’ve got our living room all set up with a new couch and soon we’ll be rearranging a few things in the master bedroom to make a space for the baby’s bed and changing table. As strange as it feels to remove several pieces of furniture from our rooms (like my desk, and some large bookshelves) I’ve been happy with how much space it seems to open up in our small home.

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eating: ALL the food. We celebrated Thanksgiving with each side of the family in November. We’ve also been enjoying lots of fallish foods for dinners at home. Pot roasts, soup and chili, and my favorite – stuffed acorn squash.

folding: baby clothes. There’s a lot of cuteness going on in these drawers.

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playing: pretend. It’s been fun to see Charlie’s imagination really start to take off in the past few months. At any moment little boy Charlie may morph into a fire truck, monster, or robot. His cars now have conversations and order food, deliver notebooks, and play baseball with each other. And today there were apparently a couple of invisible monkeys running around my house causing all sorts of trouble.

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So that’s what we’re up to these days. I’ll be taking a short break from blogging for the holidays, and then a longer break for having a baby! If you want to stay in the loop and make sure you get future posts (like a baby announcement!) you can always subscribe to get this blog through email (just sign up in the form at the very bottom of the page), or like the Facebook page.

Happy Holidays friends!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Project Life: A Day at the Zoo

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I’ve been wanting to take Charlie to the zoo for at least a year. Somehow it never happened. But as we started to near the due date for baby number two I realized that if we didn’t do it soon it could be another couple of years before we’d be able to try again.

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So we made it a priority. Chris and I picked out a couple of possible weekends and watched the weather and finally landed on our day.

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It was perfect. It was early November so it was a little chilly in the morning, but the sky was clear, the wind was calm, and it warmed up by the afternoon. It turned out to be one of the last warmish days of fall before the temperatures plunged and it turned to winter.

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Charlie had a great time. We didn’t take a ton of pictures – we spent our time just enjoying our day together. But we got a few cute ones and I was so excited about our fun day that I really wanted to make sure I captured it before I forgot some of the little details. So I went ahead and printed some pictures for my ProjectLife album and wrote down a few of my favorite moments. I’m so glad I’ve started this album and have a nice way to remember such days.


Free Printable!

Perfect day cards

I made a few of my own 3×4 inch journaling cards for this project and thought I’d make them available to others. They are pretty multi-purpose and use some fun bright colors. If you’d like to use them for your own projects just download the pdf and print them out!

Download the cards here

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

All the Yellow

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Fall was short-lived this year. But it had some pretty glorious days.

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I took some time to break out the fancy camera and play around with it a bit.

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It’s easy to get beautiful pictures when the light is acting like this.

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I wish there were more days like this in the year. But at least I captured a few memories.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Super small space storage

As a part of my quest to get to the house ready for a new baby, I realized that making some of our closet and storage areas more functional would be a key component. When you live in a small space, you really have to use what you have wisely.

So this past weekend I made some plans and got some supplies to fix a few of these areas in our home. One space on the agenda is our hall coat closet.

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Here it is right now. I have big plans for this tiny space, but first I had to do a little something with an even tinier space. You may notice that on the floor of our coat closet sits the parts to a vacuum cleaner. I have a Dyson Digital slim, which I love. It transforms easily from a floor vacuum to a handheld and runs on a battery so I never have to mess with a cord while I’m using it. But it comes with several attachments that just get thrown in the bottom of the coat closet, simply because I don’t really have a better place for them. Until now…

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Here’s our hot water heater closet. This is right off the kitchen in the middle of the house. It would be a convenient place to store things if it wasn’t full of a hot water heater. But as it is the door rarely even gets opened. When I was assessing our storage situation I realized that I might be able to make this tiny space useful after all. So I did!

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I managed to squeeze in just enough storage to hold my vacuum and all it’s little attachments. I can finally keep my vacuum off the floor! I can finally devote my coat closet to only coats! So exciting!

Here’s how it went down.

First I measured. That was essential. It really is a tiny space so I knew I would have to be careful to get supplies that could actually squeeze in there.

Then I went shopping. I bought 3 plastic bins, some shelf brackets, and some screws with washers and nuts (A big thanks goes out to the helpful Lowe’s worker who helped me pick out the right screws. Who knew there were so many overwhelming options?)

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Along with those new supplies I needed a drill, a screwdriver, and a measuring tape.

Then I measured again, this time knowing the size of my bins and brackets. I made marks on the wall of where each screw should go for my brackets so the bins would be spaced nicely apart.

Then I drilled. I made pilot holes for each of the screws to make everything go in a bit easier.

Then I screwed the brackets in place. By far the most difficult part of this project was maneuvering around the hot water heater to get the screws in the right place. If you do a similar project in space where you can actually stand in front of the wall you’re working on, I guarantee it will go much more quickly for you.

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Once all the brackets were in place it was time to attach the bins. Since these bins were transparent I could just sit them on top of the brackets and make a mark for where each of the screws should go. Easy!

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I then used my drill again to make holes in the bins where the screws would go. Then I fastened the bins to the brackets using the screws, washers, and nuts.

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Even though these bins are pretty cheap and slightly flimsy feeling, the brackets provide plenty of support so I feel confident that they will be able to hold anything I need them to. My vacuum cleaner is thoroughly enjoying having a tiny space of it’s very own.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Toddler Leaf Collage

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This little craft is a simple way to collect and display bits of the outdoors with your toddler. All it takes is a bit of contact paper and a short walk outside!

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I stapled a sheet of contact paper to a piece of cardboard so we would have a sturdy surface to work on. Then we took a walk with our board and picked up pretty leaves. When we found one it was simply a matter of sticking it on the contact paper. No glue, no tape. It was very easy and simple for little toddler hands to manage. By the end of our walk we had a nice collection of leaves.

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When we got home we stuck the contact paper to the glass of our back door so we could admire our work.

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Before sticking contact paper straight to glass I googled it to make sure it wouldn’t leave some sort of horrible sticky residue for me to clean off. In the process I found this blog post of a similar idea with flower petals that produced really lovely results. You should take a look if you want to see what this idea can become if you spend a little more time and effort on it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

DIY Robot Costume

We haven’t done the trick or treating thing with Charlie yet, but we’ve decided we’re going to give it a try this year. Our town has a nice little main street trick-or-treating event that I think he could find fun. However, I’m not a person who is super into Halloween. I mean, it’s fine, I guess. But I don’t get excited about it, so an elaborate costume is not something I care to spend my time on. Therefore, I thought we’d try a robot this year. Charlie’s been in a bit of a robot phase lately and it seemed like it would be an easy and cheap costume to make.

There are lots of cute robot costumes out there made out of boxes, but we didn’t have any boxes that would have fit Charlie. I originally planned to cut up a paper bag, and glue some foam shapes on for the robot buttons. But Charlie had a better idea to just use the big sheets of foam for make the body of the robot. So that’s what we did.

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I cut a neckline at the top of the foam sheets and then used gaffer’s tape to connect the front and back together at he top of the shoulders (kind of like a sandwich board sign). Then I cut circles and squares out of other colors of foam and helped Charlie glue those on the front for the buttons.

Charlie decided halfway through that he wanted to be a “plane robot,” so we added wings to the back.

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I love that this costume was free (I already had the foam sheets lying around from some previous craft idea) and that it was largely Charlie’s idea. It also only took about half an hour or less to put together.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to persuade him to try it on for a picture yet. I’m interested to see if we can actually get him to dress up for the big night.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

These Days // 4

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These days we are:

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Finding: all sorts of odd things as we try to clean out our backyard shed.

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Fighting: cold after cold after cold. At least it’s fun to drink chicken noodle soup from a tiny mug.

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Trying: dress up! It didn’t stay on for long. I guess I should just wait for my girl to come.

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Dealing: with a picky eater. We’re having to develop some meal time rules to keep from wasting enormous amounts of food. Surely it’s just a phase…

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Growing…well, just growing. It’s getting harder and harder to do things like bend over and put on shoes and feel comfortable in regular chairs. Oh well, I guess that just means we’re getting closer!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

measuring tape, scissors, and graph paper

We have about 11 weeks until our baby is born. As you can imagine, this means that the nesting energy is running at full force.

I want to clean.

I want to organize.

I want to rearrange ALL the furniture in my house.

I need to make room for this baby!

(Of course, as my husband so practically reminds me, if the baby came today we wouldn’t actually have to do that much to get ready for it. Buy a little co-sleeper and do a load of laundry to freshen up the diapers and we’d be pretty much set. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer to be a little more organized and stylish than that.)

So as a first step toward getting my house together I did one of my favorite things – I made a to-scale floor plan drawing of my home and all the furniture in it and moved tiny pieces of paper around.

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I learned as a kid that my enthusiasm for trying new furniture arrangements was far greater than anyone else’s enthusiasm for helping me physically move said furniture. So I made up for it by trying infinite arrangements on paper. Then only when I really loved one would I solicit the help of others to make it happen. The graph paper model has helped me numerous times in convincing my husband that a certain arrangement would work. It has also saved us the trouble of trying something that would end up being awkward in the space. It’s a solid system.

I’ve found that a ratio of one square of the graph paper for one square foot works well. It’s certainly one of the easiest ways to go. I also discovered that at that scale my entire house fits on one sheet of graph paper. Convenient.

After drawing the measurements of each room (I didn’t bother with the kitchen or bathroom since there really isn’t anything to move in those rooms) I measured and drew each piece of furniture. It sounds like a tedious process, but if you just keep pad of graph paper with you and draw each piece as you go it really doesn’t take that long.

Pro-tip: Outline each piece of furniture with a color (I used highlighters). It can be hard to see tiny pieces of white paper against a larger piece of white paper. The color helps them stand out.

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I spent an evening shuffling the tiny pieces around until I settled on something that I think will work. I went ahead and included pieces to represent a few possible purchases we’ve been thinking of making to make sure they would work in our home. I learned a few things in the process:

  1. The baby will, indeed, fit in our house if we get a co-sleeper to go next to our bed.
  2. The baby (and all her stuff) will fit even better if we purchase an ikea dresser to serve as her changing station.
  3. We don’t actually have to move around ALL the furniture in order to make room for the baby. Most of it will actually work best right where it is. This is both relieving and mildly disappointing to me. Sometimes I like a reason to do something totally new.
  4. Some of our furniture is not necessary. There are a few pieces sitting in our house that don’t really serve a useful purpose; they just take up floor space. We’ll probably remove those.

This little project has given me a good start on planning for the baby. I have several more projects in mind for this weekend. Probably more than I can actually accomplish. I’ll be sure to share the progress though. Stay tuned. This house is about to get baby-fied!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Playing with Color

The other day I spent some time playing with color. As a designer, I pick out colors to use in my work a lot, but as with anything, it’s easy to fall into a rut. I feel like there are certain colors and combinations that I use over and over again. They look nice, sure, but they are also pretty safe and predictable. I’d like to branch out a bit and try some new combinations. So here are a few color palettes I put together as a little exercise for myself. If you find yourself needing some color inspiration, maybe these will help get your creative juices flowing.

Many of these palettes were created by picking colors from a photo. It’s a method I’ve seen done many times, but never really taken the time to try myself. I really liked the results!

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“The Charlie” is based on a picture of (who else?) Charlie that Chris took on one of our walks. He’s a pretty stylish kid.

 

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This is one I just made up in my head. I wanted to try some serious looking colors (like that dark blue) with a pop of something more fresh and exciting (the rose).

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This is another pallet I drew from a photo – this time of some weedy flowers Charlie picked for me in a blue glass vase. It’s very cool and calm.

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I think this combination is my favorite of the group. It was based on a picture of lilies in a pond. The bright pink with the more fallish orange, yellow, and green is something I probably would have never thought of on my own, but I think it’s a fun combination. Got to hand it to mother nature!