Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Pre-Valentine's Day!

Today, Little Man and I got our craft on and made these cute little Valentine's Day cards for his classmates:

I, of course, found these through Pinterest, but give MAD props to The Teacher Wife for creating this cool little Valentine. Cute, sugar-free, and inexpensive! (Ours were essentially free because I happened to have cardstock and glow sticks on hand). All I had to do was print & cut out the hearts. Then Little Man signed his name and helped me tape the glow sticks on.

I love a good free Valentine!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

How will My Garden Grow?

We're gearing up to put in our garden soon. I have so many thoughts percolating around in my head about what I want to do with our garden. I'm really excited to get started, but am having major "gardener's block."

There is so much to consider, as we are basically starting over from scratch this year. What do I want the garden to look like? What kinds of raised beds do I want to use? Where should we put the compost bin? The list goes on and on.

And I am NOT looking forward to the cost of restarting everything from scratch. First year vegetables always end up costing more, because of the expense of constructing raised beds (I know we don't HAVE to use raised beds, but I prefer it) and getting a garden started. In the years to come, eating produce we have grown ourselves, using our own compost,  will be more economical, but this year will be the $100 tomato year.

Oh, I know there are tons of ideas on Pinterest about how to create raised beds out of pallets for free, but that also means finding the time to procure enough pallets, finding a place to store the pallets, etc. Plus, you never know where that pallet wood has been and you don't want something that is going to leech chemicals into your garden soil, etc. I LOVE the idea of recycling and repurposing, but I'm not sure if I will be able to pull such a feat off!

I have just fired up my Grow Veg garden planner for the season and am trying to plot my garden out. I have had a Grow Veg account for a few years and I really like it for planning my gardens (I promise you that this is a totally organic, unpaid commentary). The #1 reason being that you put in your zip code and it guides you with planting dates. Living in So Cal, a lot of gardening books don't really apply, because we don't have clear seasons. Normally, there isn't a "last frost" after which I should put out my seedlings and we can often grow plants for a longer time period than other locations around the country. I also like that it has a square foot gardening tool so that if you, like me, utilize this method of gardening, you are able to easily plan your garden.

That being said, it is a hell of a lot easier to plan a garden if you know what you want!

Off to Pinterest to find more gardens that mine will never live up to... :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

And the Prize Goes To...

On Thursday night, a package addressed to me arrived at my home.

I hadn't ordered anything recently, so I was perplexed as to what it could be. I noted the return address was "Award Claims Department," and giddily said to Diesel (in my very best dad-from-A-Christmas-Story voice) "It's a major award! Why it could be anything. It could be a bowling alley! You know a fella down in Terra Haute won a bowling alley... I sure hope it isn't fra-gee-lay," all the while wracking my brain for what contest I had entered. The only thing I had tried to win lately was a copy of Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook and I knew I hadn't won that give-away.

I tore into the box. There, beneath layers of bubble wrap and air-paks, lay a simple white box. I lifted it carefully from its wrapping. It was heavy. My heartbeat quickened at the thought of what untold treasure lay within. Diesel looked on expectantly. What could it be? What amazing thing had I won?

Slowly, I lifted the lid. I peeled back the gauzy foam wrapping, revealing my major award. I looked at it. Looked at Diesel and said "you have GOT to be shitting me," as I allowed one vitriolic giggle-snort to pass my lips.

"What?" he asked

I reached into the box, and heaved out a mantle clock. An art deco inspired, wooden mantle clock.   An art deco inspired, wooden mantle clock emblazoned with the logo of my former employer.

The packing slip announced that the clock was, in fact, a "DeVry Anniversary Gift."

You see, back on August 20, 2012, I celebrated my 5 year anniversary with the aforementioned company. Much back patting and "what would we do without you"-ing ensued. It was a heady day. On September 19, 2012, I was laid-off as a part of a nation-wide downsizing.

And apparently, DeVry thought NOW, months after laying me off (and just as my unemployment is about to expire), would be the appropriate time to send me a commemorative gift. Fan-frickin-tastic.

I am not trying to bash my former employer. I was laid-off. A lot of people were laid-off. It was business, it wasn't personal.

However, this was just too ridiculous to not share. They sent me a gift for 5 years of service, six months after the anniversary, and five months after laying me off. WHO DOES THAT?!?!?!

So, dear readers, what do you think I should do with the "gift"?
  • Sell it at a yard sale?
  • Send it back to the corporate office?
  • Call HR and ask why I haven't gotten a pay check in 6 months?
  • Other? (I'm open to suggestions)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Organize-a-Palooza Week 4: After


Well, it has been 4 weeks of re-organizational bliss! And now it is over. I have three nicely organized and more functional spaces in which to work. Kitchen was good, Linen/Hall closets were good, my office?

Well, it turned out GREAT! So great that I pretty much want to spend all my time in it!

There is still work to be done (mostly filing. Ugh), but I can actually come in here and work and craft and be creative. I'm so excited!

The rest of this post will mostly be pictures and explanations. Enjoy! (Before pics are HERE).

Panorama of the Office

(you may notice that I did not photograph one side of the closet. It is not because I am hiding all my clutter there, but because it houses stuff for Diesel's work that I am not supposed to show)

Top Shelf: briefcases, scrapbooking bag, extra baskets & bins, photo DVDs (and a nightlight that needs repair)
Second shelf: Diesel's R/C stuff
Third Shelf: books for work and blogging, magazines (his & hers), clear bins of batteries, writing implements and lots of miscellaneous kids craft supplies

Fourth (center) shelf: typical "desk" stuff-- staplers, tape, pens, my P-Touch label maker (that ran out of tape midway through this project, forcing me to HAND WRITE labels; the horror!), box of mailing supplies
Fifth shelf: file storage bins, box for paper to reuse in the printer

Sixth (center of pic) shelf: File boxes filled with project supplies
Bottom shelf: more future project supplies and a box of stuff to file

Close up of one of the file bins. I use it for storing our paper, labels, manila folders, etc. vertically.
Makes it much easier to access this way.

Close up of my file boxes: one filled with notepads, binders, etc. The other two are project supplies.
Tall Bookcase:
Top two shelves are photo albums/scrapbooks with room to grow.
And "placeholder" chotchkies until I can figure out what I want to put there!
First shelf is boxes of scrapbooking supplies
Second shelf is more supplies, scrapbooking reference materials, and the 12x12
boxes are where I store memory stuff for each of the boys and for the family.

I think you know what that is! :)
I skipped photographing the smaller bookcase, because I talked about it last week.

Scrapbooking Cabinet (and annex)
This is the scrapbooking cabinet Diesel built me (out of scrap material left over from a job) when we lived in the Original Cluttered House. It was built to fit into a tiny corner of our bedroom, and the cart on the bottom rolls out, providing a small extra work space for me. It is pretty rad.
On the wall are my yard sticks and cutting mat. I found that going vertical was the best way to store them.

Top shelf: Project Life stuff I got last Christmas, but have yet to start, Xyron sticker/laminator/magnet maker, small Xyron sticker maker and some 8.5x11 paper & letter punch outs
Second shelf: Embellishments, markers, humongo tape runner, more embellishments and my Crop-o-Dile Big Bite

Vertical supply storage. This is where I keep the majority of my stickers and
embellishments in Cropper Hopper sticker envelopes

Cutting tools, more paper storage and an empty 12x12 box

Paper. Probably wouldn't hurt to go through this and purge some paper.

The scrapbooking cabinet "annex." has individual, take it with you sized boxes in it. This is where I store scrapbooking projects that I am working on/will be working on.

Supplies for scrapbooking Little Man's 4th birthday party photos. Which I will get to soon. Right after I finish his second birthday and then start on his 3rd. Good thing his birthday is in 4 months and he'll be five. I'm not behind, right?
Desk Area
In an effort to keep the desk as clear as possible, I moved some storage up onto the side of
 the scrapbook cabinet, and hung a little collage of family photos up above it.

Stuff that will be on the wall above my desk soon. Perpetual calendar, magnet board, inspirational quotes, etc.

Cord central. I used Cable Drops to secure the cords for the various electronic machines I will need on my desk, that way it is much easier to move stuff around as I need it. I have each cord labelled (you can kind of see my Cricut label) so I can easily identify what is what.

Diesel built me this chair to match my desk. He's awesome.
File cabinet. Full of files. The caddy on top is where I put notebooks/research at the end of each day to keep my desk clear of piles. I love piles, but they are counter productive.
Propped up against the wall is a black & white print of the Empire State Building that I haven't quite decided if I am going to hang up in my office or not. And the baby gate I use to keep the children out of my office.
So that is the end of the tour. My last thought I am going to leave you with is this: once upon a not so distant time, a friend and I were in stitches over a website where the site owner had made custom covers for her dogs' kennels. We were DYING at the ridiculousness of it-- they were even embroidered with each dog's name. But now that I actually have to share my office with an ugly old dog kennel, I'm starting to think that lady was onto something...

Luckily, my office mate is cuter than his kennel.
Yes. His kennel is labelled. Little Man insisted that we label it back when we lived at the
Original Cluttered House, back when I was making mail sorters for everyone in the family.
And also, all that black & electric lime green on my scrapbooking storage has GOT TO GO! I purchased them on super sale a LONG time ago, and now they don't fit my "vision" for the office. Since they are still in great shape, I think I might have some box recovering projects in my future!

So how did your organization projects go this week? I'd love to hear about them (and see them?)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

DIY Storage Basket

As you know, I am trying to keep my spending on storage containers to a minimum as I reorganize the house. Reusing and repurposing is my main focus.

But I was really stumped when it came to what I wanted to do for a "work in progress" (WIP) basket. I wanted a place where I could put projects that I was either in the middle of doing or about to start working on. I also wanted something that was large enough to hold a few projects, but small enough to fit on a shelf easily. It also needed to be un-lidded, because I know that if a project is out of sight, it is out of mind for me. Which means those works in progress will never actually make any progress.

I had resigned myself to keeping my current WIPs in a lidded file box (you'll get to see those tomorrow) that was too tall, not wide enough and had a lid, so none of the things I was looking for in a WIP basket, but it was readily available, so I settled for it.

On Sunday we did a Costco run. They provided us with a box for our purchases, and as soon as I laid eyes on it, angels began to sing. It. Was. Perfect.

It also conveniently fits an on the small side 4 3/4 year old, so that is a bonus too!

I had some cute wrapping paper that I had purchased months ago on clearance at Target, so I set to work!

First, I had to trim off the nubbins at the tops of my "basket." Anyone will tell you that nubbins are no good!

Then I rolled out my paper, got an approximation of the length of paper I would need to wrap it lengthwise. Then I sprayed adhesive on the bottom of the box and affixed it (crookedly) to the paper.

I then used my yard stick and a pencil to create cutting lines on all four sides of the box.

Using the lines as a guide, I cut all the way to the box and then in from the sides, to create flaps.

Then I realized I had started with the wrong side and that if I did it this way, the front of the box was going to have all kinds of crazy folds and lines, and the sides would be all neat and smooth. So I had to rip all the paper off and start over (but remember those directions for later).

I salvaged as much of the paper as I could and began working on the two sides of the box. I knew that I was going to be covering the entire bottom of the box when I covered the front and back of it, so I went ahead and cut enough paper to just stick on the bottom (about 5") and then come up the side and into the interior of the box.

I sprayed adhesive on the face of the side and smoothed the paper over it.

Then I folded the piece of paper on the front and back faces like you would fold it when gift wrapping and cut away the excess, leaving only a piece to adhere to the inside of the box. I sprayed more adhesive and smoothed the interior piece down. I now had one side completed.

It was at this point in time where I realized that using spray adhesive in the craft room wasn't such a great idea. Not only was I getting a little woozy from the fumes, I was also getting spray adhesive all over the floors.
That white stuff? Yeah, spray adhesive.

So production moved outside. To my ever so fabulous backyard, which is both overgrown and disheveled, so be kind...

I finished the other side

And rolled out more paper for the front. Using my yardstick, I roughed out where the box would sit and reapplied my spray adhesive.

I then cut along the shorter lines and folded the flap up on both sides.

I folded down the corners

And pulled the paper up and affixed it to the front face and sides.

I then trimmed about an inch above the edge of the side to the corner of the paper.

And then glued that down.

Then the camera battery died, so allow me to paint you a word picture. Fold the paper over, smooth and glue into place. Repeat for the other face. Then, cut a piece of paper the same dimensions of the interior bottom of your box and affix that over all the flaps. VOILA! You have a cute storage basket!


So there you have it folks, an easy-peasy, lemon squeeze-y DIY project for your Saturday! Now go get yourself a free box and get to work!
And here's a little before and after if you want something to pin (because you're all pinning this stuff, right? RIIIIIGHT?!?!?!?)