Thursday, May 31, 2007

not-so-Extreme Makeover: Garage Edition

I'll start by saying that this turned out to be more of an "improvement" than a "makeover", but I'm still pleased with the results and have inspiration for some further improvements as the budget allows. Back in February I decided it was time to get the garage in order. I had hoped this little project would take less than a few weeks, but alas, I got sidetracked with other things. To hinder the cause, I was also saving household discards in the garage to give to a garage sale put on by a group of which I am a part. I came to a few realizations during this process. 1) Every home needs a place for things on their way in or out of the household. For us, this place is the garage and that is okay. 2) Done is better than waiting for the best timing to do a perfect and final job. I will have to revisit this project and once again, that's okay. 3) I'm a good starter, but not such a good finisher. I need to work on this for my own sake and for the sake of my family and my household. 4) Don't blog about a project you won't finish in a timely manner....see realization #3.

The total job could have been completed in a day, but because of the donations that needed to wait for the garage sale and recycling which needed to be dropped off, it took much longer. Basically I just put everything away and made specific places for our recycling to be stored as it accumulates so it doesn't get out of control. I also put up some hooks to hold the ladder on the wall and out of the way, swept it out and put down some new drip sheets under our vehicles.

Total time elapsed: way too long, actual work was about 3 hours
Total cost: $2 - for the ladder hooks.

Here are the after photos.
I'm glad that now everything is in relatively good order and we are not tripping over anything to get to the car. And, in keeping with the original goal, our garage is now doing a better job at welcoming us home. I can now cross this item off of my project list, at least for another year.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

This Is Why We Don't Usually Do This

Alternative titles for this post would be:

Someday We'll Laugh About This
Freak Show
Not Worth the $18.

Tonight we went out for dinner at a local fast food joint for some burgers in celebration of Sportster completing another round of swimming lessons. Notice I didn't say "passing", but perhaps that will be for another post. Anyway, we have pretty much fully resigned ourselves to casual dining and fast food at this stage of life. The meal started with us ordering, choosing a table and then the older kiddos yelling about everything they saw or wanted or wanted to say. As we were hushing them, Smiley started yelling as he often does at the table right now. Out come the Cheerios to keep him quiet while we eat. As we continued eating my dear husband and I were commenting that we can't even really handle going to a fast food establishment with the circus we bring when we go out. Smiley started eating his baby foods and before you know it, he is spewing all over. It just wouldn't stop. We cleaned up the big mess as best one can when you only have paper napkins at your disposal and made the quickest exit ever. I'm just glad we made it home!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Spa Saturday

Just say "ahhh". After a full morning spent planting flowers and veggies, I took the luxury that Saturdays afford me, namely some time to myself while Daddy is on kiddo duty. So I enjoyed a mini facial, mini pedicure, mini manicure and peace and quiet, all in the comfort of my own home. This was a welcome change from the normal super quick showers of everyday as I am wondering when the kids are going to wake up or what trouble they are getting into. And I have more than enough nice pampering items that I save for later for a treat. Why not use the good stuff on any ordinary day? I feel refreshed just by taking a few extra moments for self-care. How can you take a break and pamper yourself today? Go for it!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Fun Little Pillow

The little project of the week was to make a new little pillow for Sister's room. I have been trying to decorate her space but it has been very slow. Here is one little step in the right direction.
I took a striped seersucker adult sized pajama top destined for the discard bin and cut to the approximate size of the pillow I was going to use. The pillow I had was 14" x 20" so I added a few inches on every side for seam allowances and sewed it together with french seams. I love the button detail, that I didn't have to invest any time into because it was already part of the shirt. This will be a fun accent pillow for her and coordinate with her comforter when we get to that point. Total cost: $0. Total time spent: about 20 minutes.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Celebrating One Special Girl

Last weekend we had the pleasure of celebrating our little girl's third birthday. We had a brunch party with friends and gorgeous weather and enjoyed another day of church, swimming, ice cream cones in the backyard and going to our neighbors' home for dinner. We find it best to keep the celebrations simple, especially at this age. She enjoyed the weekend a lot! We thank God for her!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Organizational Challenge: the Basement

About 30 days ago I undertook the challenge of getting our basement organized, being motivated by the 30 Day Organizational Challenge. My goals were pretty simple, though I didn't have a real vision for what this space could become. My goals were:
- make it more aesthetically pleasing, orderly and easy to maintain
- define spaces for specific activities
- use organizational tools I already have whenever possible - my budget is under $40
- create storage systems that are easily maintained by all family members.

Here are my answers to the questions that are part of the challenge.
1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?
The most difficult part of the challenge for me was organizing the kids' play areas with SO many toys. I think I've made a good start in the right direction, though I'm sure we will need to tweak this as time goes on. Also, it was very difficult to purge many toys because they do all get played with on a regular basis and with three kids in such a close age range I know they will be good for another kid or two even if our firstborn has already outgrown them. I'm not sure how much to involve them in this process or if this should just be done without their input. I also could have used a bigger budget to get a better wall system for toy storage.

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order.
Every item now has a designated home. We no longer have a large random toy bin. I think this will be especially helpful when it is time for us to clean up from playtime. The play area has been clearly defined with storage towers and rugs, so hopefully toys will remain in this area or at least return to this area when playtime is over. We hope to implement a system of only getting out one bin or type of toy per child at a time and have our children put them away before getting out something new to play with. This will be a matter of discipline not only for them, but for us as we supervise this.

3. What did you do with the "stuff" you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?
About three bags of garbage were pitched and an equal volume of cardboard from boxes we had saved were put out to recycling. The toys and crafting supplies which were eliminated went to an annual MOPS fundraiser garage sale at our church. A few loads of stuff were also taken to the garage where they will be more easily used.

4. What is the biggest lesson you have learned from this experience?
The biggest realization I'm having right now is that it is much easier not to acquire an excessive amount of stuff in the first place than it is to get rid of things, especially after the children have grown attached to it. Also, when things are not organized it is hard to keep track of supplies and use them up before buying more. I consolidated all the gift wrapping supplies in one area and all the gifts for later giving in another area so I'll easily be able to see what I have. Knowing what you have on hand helps with avoiding the temptation to buy more.

5. Now that you have completed the PROCESS, do you think having and keeping your space organized will make a difference in your life?
Absolutely! I am already looking forward to getting down to my crafting table, knowing that I won't have to clean it off just to work on a project.

Before Pictures

First thing you saw when entering the basement.
Toys, toys, everywhere....and this was not on a particularly messy day.
More toys, overcrowded bookshelf with stuff stacked high on the top, books near my husband's desk in no particular order.
The guest quarters....not too inviting.
Mom's craft area and gift wrapping area. Our file cabinet had no business being in that space.
After Pictures

I'm feeling sooooo much better about this area and look forward to enjoying it together as a family.

Here is the new first impression of the basement. The toys are now mostly stored in bins on two tower shelves joined together with a board. While it may still not look especially neat, everything now has a home and there is no longer a catch-all bin. The chrome shelving was purchased on a clearance for a total of $16 and the wood board was about $8, taxes included. The space underneath the wooden shelf is designated for parking of all riding and push toys. The chrome shelving could have been configured differently, but I put the top shelf low so as not to encourage dangerous climbing by children.

Room around the table to move freely and a clear table ready for coloring, writing and real or pretend meals.
A small bookshelf was freed up from the toy area for my husband's books to be stored at hand near his desk.
The guest quarters are now more hospitable and include the blue table to hold suitcases and other guest items.And finally the crafting and gift wrapping area. I tacked fabric I had on hand to the wall studs to eliminate some of the visual clutter from items stored underneath the stairs. The cabinet at left holds all crafting supplies inside and gift items on top. One caddy of papercrafting supplies and one other bin for projects on the go or to be put away was left out for easy access. A nail on the end of the wall holds gift bags looped on a luggage strap. Rolls of wrapping paper are hung in the white fabric drawstring bag.

It is refreshing to have this project complete. Now maybe I'll be able to catch up on a two year backlog of scrapbooking and photo organization with room to work.

Thanks to Laura for hosting this motivational event!

Next up: the garage.