Saturday, October 13, 2012

Organizing Uniforms Quick Fix

One consequence of not posting anything for two months is that I've actually accomplished a few things! 
This is one easy fix I came up with to take care of Christopher's school clothes.  He's lucky enough to have started a school where they wear uniforms, and I didn't want to fight with him every morning about why he couldn't wear his Ninjago shirt and elastic waist shorts from his drawer.  One of those pocket organizers would've worked but I didn't have one.  I did have clothespins and hangers, though, so this is what I came up with.
Shorts and socks (with no logos or animals) get pinned to a hanger

Shirt goes on top and everything goes into the closet

Now it's easy to see if he has clean school clothes and he knows to just take out a hanger with his preferred shirt color and get dressed.  This has also taken care of the navy shirt and navy shorts combo I see some kids wearing to school!

Shirts are sort of boring - here's a shameless cute kid shot of Christopher being a great big brother!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Year of Faith

Two posts in one day, this is insanity!  Just go with me here...

On the subject of new beginnings, Pope Benedict just kicked off the Year of Faith yesterday. The focus of the Church this year is to be helping its members grow in understanding of their faith.  Along those lines, I decided to sign up for a wonderful Flocknotes group that aims to Read the Catechism in a Year.  Each morning they send an e-mail to your inbox with a few sections of the catechism.  I'm a repeat Bible in a Year dropout, but I'm hoping to be more successful with this!  I'd love to have you join me.

Thank Goodness It's Spring, I Mean Fall

Wow, I didn't realize it's been two months since I posted.  I always struggle the last few weeks of summer, but it seemed worse this year.  Summer for us in AZ is like winter everywhere else.  The heat sucks the life out of you and makes you hide inside, running from air conditioned house to air conditioned car to air conditioned school/store/wherever.  The downside of all this inside is that like winter in the north, I get a little stir crazy and very unmotivated until it's finally below about 90.

This week it has cooled down somewhat and in a fit of downright pleasantness the high today is below 80.  Be still my beating heart.  I took this opportunity to crack open our gardening in the desert books and decided to clean out the garden and the sad little rosebush in the back yard.  Here our big vegetable growing season is winter, when the days are cool enough not to burn the plants, so I'm going to try carrots, broccoli, lettuce, and some herbs again.  I don't have any seeds yet, though, so I contented myself with cleaning out the old stuff, breaking up the baked soil, spreading the compost bin over top and watering and raking it all together.  Hopefully some of that compost goodness will leach into the surrounding soil before I get the seeds in a few days.

Here we have the before - with two helpful men adopting their best supervisory pose and a photobombing toddler trying to walk on the gravel without falling.
Our super-expensive compost setup.  Actually we wanted it to be pretty incognito since I'm sure it's against HOA bylaws to be composting in your backyard.  This bad boy was pretty much full.
The after, all cleaned up, composted, and watered.  It looks like I missed a piece of paper when I was cleaning up the compost - there's always a bit that doesn't get broken down well.

I also pruned, cleaned up, and fertilized my little rose.  I had put it under a tree next to the wall for the hottest part of summer when I saw it was burning badly.  I think the lack of sun made it go a bit dormant, but hopefully a nice feed and some clean-up pruning will perk it up.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - End of Summer Edition

We've been hanging out around home more than usual lately.  While I was so excited (for me and them) for school to start, now that it's close, I think I'm going to miss them :-)  The up side of all this homebodiness is that I've actually taken pictures!


I cleaned the kitchen within an inch of its life yesterday.  That makes it pretty, or at least a lot prettier than it was.  Goo Gone is my friend.  It took care of a lot of the greasy mess on the microwave underside.


After the pantry cleaning last week, I got out the easel for a long overdue (read: it's been many months) painting session.  Little E was not quite paint-eligible, but she was happy to color chalk on the other side.


 It's funny, and maybe a little sad, but my kids are such desert rats that one good afternoon of thunderstorms produced some awesome puddles worthy of about 45 minutes of running and jumping in.

I suppose this is to be expected since she only has big brothers, but here is Elizabeth "peeing" in the potty.  She picks up her shirt and pushes on her belly button and is SURE she's going just like the big boys!  I've started putting her on the potty before bathtime in the hopes that we might not have too big a mess (or struggle to get her to sit down) when we actually start training her!
round button chicken

Friday, July 27, 2012

Quick Lego Manual

We have QUITE the collection of Legos since Christopher had his birthday a few weeks ago, and with all those legos comes a lot of little building manuals.  Many of ours were in really bad shape, having been lovingly touched and taken in the car to "read" more times than I can count.  So today I took an old binder and some page protectors that I was no longer using and made a little Lego manual. 

I put a few booklets in each (after extensively taping some back together) grouping by category - Cars, Ninjago, Lego City, etc. 

I think it will be much easier to handle and they'll stay in much better shape this way.  And anything that means less Lego mess on Christopher's bedroom floor is a good thing!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Simple Wallet

Christopher and Patrick have recently started doing "money jobs," which are little extra chores around the house to earn $0.50 or $1.00 depending on the job. Patrick has been asking for somewhere to put his vast stash of money, but I've been unable to find a small wallet at Target, etc. So the other day I decided we'd make him a little change purse-type pouch for his money.

He's one happy guy, always wanting to do work so he has money to add to his wallet. He looked through the fabric in the closet and homed in on a spaceship print...which is flannel. Yup, kid has a flannel wallet. Oh well, it makes him happy!

I drew out a simple pattern and we cut and stitched it on the machine. He learned how to put in and take out pins, how to line up and sew the seams, and how to press VERY CAREFULLY with a grown-up. The only thing I did myself was putting in the lining and topstitching (with very bad tension, judging from the mess on the inside). Then, of course, the piece de resistance, he got to pound on the snap. Oh happy day! Couture it is not, but it serves its purpose and was a great little learning project.

Pantry Cleanout - Round 2

I finally got around to cleaning the other side of my pantry today after I saw the great job my little sis did on her big boys room.  Maybe we can go back and forth, Cindy, and keep each other motivated?  Anyway, this side was more of a hot mess, mostly owing to the fact that I just mash stuff in there to keep it away from little fingers.  Here is the before, complete with toddler trying to get as much stuff as she can before I shoo her away:

Extra food at the top, on the fourth shelf, and on the floor. Art supplies on the 2nd and 5th shelves, of course?! The only thing that was working was the vase/casserole shelf. So I got to work and a two hours later, I had this.

Muuuch better.  All the food together and off the floor and all the art stuff together and accessible again.  The only area I didn't tackle is the coupon/office supply half of the fourth shelf (in the canning jar box), but I have big plans for that involving some scrap wood in the garage and my Kreg Jig, so watch this space :-)  Down in one corner I found this little gem. 

I think it is some sort of basket liner for food from back when Longaberger was the big thing (yes, I'm that old that I've been through housekeeping fads, yikes!), but it works great for markers and crayons.

Of course, it wouldn't be our house without a random box of unlabeled liquor :-)  I set this aside on the floor for my husband to identify and disposition.

So there you have it - again it didn't take nearly as long to do as I took putting it off.  Does anyone see a pattern forming here?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Food Pantry Cleanout

I started the great re-org of 2012 with a small project cleaning up the food side of my pantry.  It's a big double closet and I use the side closest the kitchen for food and the other side for art supplies, extra pantry goods, vases, canning jars, etc.  Here was the before:

It was in pretty good shape.  I just regrouped like with like, cleaned everything off, and tossed a few really old things.  I wiped the walls and shelves, pulling back the shelf liner and wiping both the underside and the shelf itself.  If anyone knows how to get rid of petrified shelf liner, let me know.  I hate the stuff, but the last owners had nasty blue liner on there from who knows when and I haven't been able to completely clean the shelves.  Now it looks like this:

Like I said, not a big change.  I had a pretty good system before and didn't need any new containers, although if you do, right now is a great time.  Everyone has their back-to-college stuff out so there are cheap but sturdy plastic crates in all colors and sizes.  Mine were from a few years ago and they do work better than old boxes for many things.  They have a little ventilation and they're easier to wipe.  Hopefully I'll get to the other side in a day or two, but for now I'll enjoy making dinner just a bit more!

Still Here and Still Scheming

Has it really been 6 weeks since I posted?  Has anyone really noticed?  Well, I'm now back from a 3 week trip to see my family and I'm all energized to reboot our house.  I've got big plans, as usual, but we'll see what comes of them.  My latest idea is to work on a reorganization of the house bit by bit.  Many closets and shelves have not been touched since I got pregnant with the princess, who is now 17 months old. 

I've become discouraged with the constant mess the kids leave behind, but in thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that I can't expect them to take care of and respect their things if their dad and I don't.  Our office area looks like this right now. 

So is it any wonder that the toy area looks like this (and it's actually pretty clean)?

I've come up with two concepts to focus on for the short term:
1.  I need to respect and care for my things so they respect and care for theirs.  That means doing dishes in a timely fashion and cleaning up and putting away books, magazines, projects, receipts, phones, etc. before I have to take them from little hands.

2.  The floor is NOT a place for anything to be stored.  Not trash in the office in need of a trash can, not graduation gear in the bedroom that no one is sure where to put, not books in the bedroom that I haven't gotten around to putting away.

We'll see what comes of this, but hopefully at least a few full garbage bins will give us some much-needed breathing room.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Our New Friend

We have a new little buddy at our house.  Almost every day at lunchtime, this guy makes his appearance to putter around the patio and eat bugs. 

The kids think he's really cool.  Today Christopher decided he was going to draw a picture of the lizard to show him. 

 Patrick, of course, had to follow suit, so here is his masterpiece.

Even Elizabeth got into the fun, banging on the window and pointing to the lizard for anyone who would pay attention to her.

This pretty much proves that boys + anything Mommy might find vaguely gross = good fun.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Great Sewing Room Cleanup

OK, maybe room is pretty generous for my little sewing space, perhaps corner would be better.  Whatever it is, it got cleaned within an inch of its life this weekend.  I was going crazy losing things under the piles of fabric and having everything tangled around random lengths of elastic.  So, I spent an embarassingly short time (far shorter than the time I've spent putting it off) cleaning up and throwing out snibbles and threads, filing patterns, organizing notions, and folding fabric.

First, the before:

And behold, the after: 

Complete with OCD-inspired labeled boxes: 

OK, really I was trying to keep the kids out of Mike's hair so he could brew beer, and they LOVE to play with the label maker (are they my kids or what).  As you can see, there may be no money for fancy organizers, but we have no shortage of kids shoe boxes.  And now that I think of it, I'd rather have little feet growing out of shoes faster than I can buy them than enough money for fancy organizers.  Although both wouldn't be too bad :-)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chair Cushions Finished!

I finally finished the new cushions for our patio chairs. It was pretty boring, easy sewing times 6, so I'm glad they're out the door, literally. They fit nicely and look much better than the old ones, which were literally crumbling to dust when people sat on them.

 They are just plain box cushions with no welting, because as I said before they'll just get baked.  The fabric is from Hancock's sun resistant line, which means they have a prayer of lasting a year.  The ties are just brown twill tape also from Hancock's, which is a better color match in real life than it appears in the pictures.

 Of course, since I was complaining about how easy the sewing was, I goofed.  They always say "measure twice, cut once" when woodworking, but here it should be "read the notes you made and cut the pieces the right length."  I inexplicably cut the edge bands two inches too short (despite having the right measurment calculated and written down), and had to go back and piece in a little bit at one corner.  I had enough fabric left that I was able to match the pattern, so it's not really noticible, just annoying to me as I hate making mistakes, especially stupid mistakes.

I spent this evening working on my Vogue 8295 skirt, though I've taken it back to more like a 3/4 circle and reworked the yoke to be more of a wide waistband since I didn't like where it was hitting my hips.  It should get a zipper tomorrow and hem soon after, so hopefully I'll have that up soon as well.  Then it's on to some seersucker I got a few weeks ago that I need to find a pattern for.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Gypsy Skirt

This little skirt for Elizabeth is actually from a month or so ago, but I forgot to take pictures of it then, so when I put it on her today, I snapped a few pictures.  The fabric is a linen blend I picked up at Hancock's at the end of last year.  The pattern, as such, is the Gypsy Skirt from The Handmade Dress.  It's actually what she calls a sewing recipe.  It's a collection of proportions and formulas to give you a garment of a certain shape.  In this case, it's a seven gored skirt just right for a little girl who never met a meal she didn't like :-)  And yes, every shot is an action shot with this girl - sorry!

On her, it's a really cute style and I like the extra fullness in the back to compensate for her diaper-clad bootie. 

On her, it's a really cute style and I like the extra fullness in the back to compensate for her diaper-clad bootie.  I also drafted it for myself, but after seeing hers, I think I'll make a few changes for mine.  I'm going to take out the extra gore in the back (and adjust the other measurements accordingly) and maybe take a bit of the fullness out of the waist.  I like the easy elastic waistband, but I don't want it so bunchy on me.  Is it something I could've come up with myself, yes, but Sam's recipe gave me a great starting point and confidence in the outcome.  Plus, she's a super-sweet mama of 4 with a really cute blog with great ideas - that's worth the $6 right there!

After I finish the chair cushions (more on that mess later!) and my little skirt, I think I'm going to do  matching cousin dresses for Sarah and Elizabeth from her Miss Madeline pattern, so look for more extreme cuteness coming soon!

Parting shot - here's my super reader who was very miffed I wasn't taking pictures of him!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Home Dec Sewing - At Least It's Easy

I have to say I can't get very excited about home dec sewing.  I try, but mostly it just turns into me fighting with very large pieces of fabric and nothing ending up quite square.  Which is why I was less than overjoyed when our patio chair cushions started to fall apart.  After scouring every conceivable store for replacements under $15 each, I decided to bite the bullet and make new ones.  By waiting for a sale at Hancock's I was able to get all the fabric for 6 cushions for about $40.

Last night in between putting a sleepy girl with a runny nose to sleep again, and again, and AGAIN, I finally cut out all the pieces. 

They will be simple box cushions with no welting because welting would take just that much longer and this is Arizona after all. The sun will bake and fry these babies in a year or two anyway. And yes, I'm way too lazy to take them off and put them away after each use. Are you kidding me?! 

Hopefully I will get these done or mostly done this weekend so I can get on to the skirt I want to make myself.  I cut out and decided on alterations to the pattern the other night, but then decided I needed to hold it out there as a carrot or the cushions will never get done.

My photo assistant was helpful, as always.  I think she wanted to make sure you had a sense of scale!