Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Organizing With Bins and Labels

Bins and labels. I guess that's what I do. I was looking through some blog photos and noticed how many times I've posted about organizing with bins and labels.  Here are the bins in my laundry room.

I should probably give a shout-out to my laminator too!  It comes in handy for making sturdy labels. (It's a Scotch brand, from Amazon, and it was only $30.)

When my daughter was younger, her toy bins had labels with pictures. I would pretend that it helped my daughter put her toys away in the right places. In reality, it helped ME put her toys away in the right places.

For the garage, I made printed adhesive labels. Sadly, these bins are all overflowing and need some attention at the moment.  But, the labels are still pretty!


The next two pictures were from my bathroom organization post.  One of the parents in my classroom stopped me today to let me know that she bought bins and organized her bathroom like this today!  Love it!  Doesn't organization make you happy?

This was the best 20 minutes I've ever spent organizing.  I can find stuff again!  My label maker came in handy for organizing the bins too.  I heart my label maker.

My classroom books are all in little labeled bins too.  These are the seasonal books that I only get out for about a month each year.  It's easy to find Christmas books or St. Patrick's Day books when they are all organized by theme, month, or author.

Ah, the pantry.  Let me just say, that this photo was taken on a good day.  In summer.  When I wasn't working. And my kids were younger and didn't have their teenage friends rummaging through our food. And I had more time.  You get the idea.

You know that little cupboard in your kitchen, on the backside of your cabinets, that seems like dead space?  It's our art cubby.  Everyone needs an art cubby if you have kids at home.  Ok, now that the kids are older I call it the Homework Supply Cupboard (although sometimes Art Cubby just slips out... hey, I'm a kindergarten teacher). Once again, we have bins and labels in there!


I guess I'm a little obsessed, but there are worse things to be obsessed with!

Happy organizing!

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Favorite Blogs

When I'm needing a little home-life inspiration, I generally run for my favorite blogs. I'm feeling like I'm at a stand still with my home projects right now.  It's too cold to finish changing out doors and windows.  I got a bit tired of stripping, sanding, and staining doors and trim, and I haven't really been in the mood for redecorating or rearranging furniture.  I ran across this post about my favorite blogs, which reminded me to go check them out again, which then reminded me how much I have to get done around this place, and now I'm on a mission to spruce a few things up around here.  And if you give me a cookie, I'm going to ask for a glass of milk to go with it.  (My teacher friends and parents of small children will know exactly which book I'm talking about here.)

So, here it is.  The post that started my spiral into cleaning, organizing, and decorating again. Happy reading!

Choosing a favorite blog is like choosing a favorite children's book author.  Each time I take out a new book, in my classroom, I tell my kids that this is truly my favorite author.  Usually, I'm met with several eye rolls and kids saying, "You always tell us that this is your favorite author!"  It's true.  I have lots of favorites.  I cannot pick just one. 

Well, I feel the same way about blogs.  Each time I come across a new-to-me blog with gorgeous photos, a style that I strive for, or inspirational projects, I decide that this must be my new favorite blog.  Although, I must confess, I never really let go of my old favorites.  So, today, I'd like to share my favorite home decor... right now.  I guess I'm adding them to my list of favorites. 

First up, is my most recent addition to the favorites list.  Golden Boys and Me is a blog I connected to in many ways.  The author, Courtney, is a teacher (once a teacher, always a teacher in my opinion) who now stays home with her family.  I love her style and photography.  There is a warm and coziness to her home decor, but it's light and bright at the same time.  I tend to struggle with the combination of the two in my own home, so I admire her decorating style.

I think I need to scour Goodwill for a tray like the one below and create a display like this on my ottoman in the living room. Or maybe I'll just wait until Christmas and see what she comes up with then.


I spotted this photo last week on the Pottery Barn blog.
 Love, love, love!

Let me tell you, friends, I have a blank wall above my bed and a white bedspread with very little color in the room.  My bedroom is screaming for this look!  I know the Pottery Barn quilt was part of the inspiration for this look, and I don't actually own this particular Pottery Barn quilt, but I may have mentioned a time or two that I'm a quilter.  I see a jewel toned, scrappy, star quilt in my future!  When I post a similar looking bedroom photo on my blog in the coming months, you'll know where the inspiration came from!

Now, we move onto Finding Home.  Seriously, I think Laura could be my BFF. She just seems like a fun person who I would love to hang out with.  Again, I love her style because it's warm and cozy, but still light and bright.  I love the way she uses natural materials in her displays.  

At my house, I have a great wooden box sitting on my dining room table, a bundle of wheat, and a few other fall items.  You may be wondering why I've never shared a picture of my fall table display.  Well, it doesn't exactly look as pretty as this one.  Mine is kind of a "Pinterest Fail" look.  I'm not even going to keep trying with the fall display.  I'm just going to move right onto Christmas.  What are we putting on our Christmas tables, Laura?  I'll try whatever you do!


Her living room is gorgeous!  I love her home because it's custom, but it didn't start out that way.  They moved into a builder-grade home and have gradually made it their own.  They've made it special and unique.  The first time I found this blog, was through Pinterest.  I spotted the picture below and pinned it, because I'd love to have built-ins like this in my own living room.


So, there you have it!  These are my favorite Home Decor blogs right now.  I eagerly await their posts each day (or every few days) because I know there is inspiration right around the corner!  If you have a favorite blog, please leave a comment about it in this post, even if it's your own!  I'd love to hear about it and why it inspires you. I'll be sharing my favorite sewing and photography blogs later in the week.

Happy decorating!
(Photos were used with permission from the blog authors.)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Summer Garden Tour In The Middle of Winter

I was dreaming of Summer weather this week.  It's been 60 and sunny for most of the week and I can't wait to get my garden back in shape. I know the thought of 60 degrees makes our East Coast friends jealous.  (Sorry!!)  I was scrolling through garden posts that I've written for my blog and ran across my outdoor tour.  I thought it was a good time to re-run this and we can all dream of Summer together.  Here goes...

We've had a rather mild summer in the Pacific Northwest. Mid 70's and partly sunny has been a good day around here. I haven't set up a single fan in my house. The air conditioner is still in the closet, and the blow up pool is still hiding up in the rafters. Summer has been pleasant, but certainly not a scorcher.

Although, most of us around here are complaining about the lack of heat, my yard and garden are loving this weather. I thought I'd take you on a little garden tour today.

This rocking chair has been in my classroom for the past several years. It needed a repair job and some paint touch ups. I brought it home, fixed it up, and now I don't think it's going back to school. I really like it out on the deck. It kind of reminds me of a rocker someone might have had on their porch in the 40's or 50's.
I brought the rooster pillow out to add a little warmth to the chair.

Our grass is still quite green and the sprinkler has only been on a handful of times.

My sweet peas are very happy out there on those window trellises.

Most of my flowers are ready to be divided.

This is the area of free plants from Carpooler Michelle. She gave me starts when I moved in. I think they've filled in pretty nicely.

This next little area is a work in progress. Someday I think it will be a patio. For now it's no-man's-land. I put my little picnic table out there last weekend, just so I wouldn't have to look at dead space. I finally got around to repairing my old wagon. Note to self - go to Flower World and buy a few plants to put in the wagon. Ooooh, or better yet, maybe I'll just wait for pumpkins!

My red Adirondack chairs are my favorite place in the yard. I love sitting here, in the sun, watching the kids play on the swingset or splashing in the blow up pool.
Yep, it's my happy place. My geraniums are doing the best they have ever done! I think they like the cooler temps.

Dahlias have to be my favorite flower for cutting. Without the heat and sunshine, I don't have many this year.

Not too bad for a yard that had zero plants when we moved in.
The veggie garden is on the left, perennials on the right. I'm thinking I may only get green tomatoes this year.

I'm hoping these plants will fill in. I bought the three perennials on the clearance table. They look pretty pathetic right now, but I'll give them a few years to prove themselves. The urn was a roadside freebie. The stump was one of those things I just couldn't figure out how to get rid of. What's that old saying about life giving you lemons? Well, now I love this little corner. I'm glad I couldn't get rid of the stump.

I was very patient and now my impatients are in full bloom. The pitch fork-plant hanger is a new addition this year.
Why, hello there, Annabelle. I'm so happy you're blooming this year! I planted two Annabelle hydrangeas last year by my grandpa's old plow. White hydrangeas make me happy.
I picked these hydrangeas two weeks ago and they still look beautiful in my kitchen. (Still loving my $1 milk bottles!)

Thanks for taking an outdoor tour with me! I'm off to pick a bouquet of flowers.

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Happy Mail Day - Fabric From Organic Cotton Plus

Last Thursday was a very happy mail day for me.  Three yards of brown hemp fabric arrived in the mail.  

About a week prior, I was contacted by Organic Cotton Plus to do another fabric review for them.  I have done a few reviews for Organic Cotton Plus, and I have been very pleased with their fabric, so I was thrilled when they contacted me again.  I was invited to review their new Hemp line and the invitation came at a very good time.  I searched through their website and several things caught my eye, but I was especially excited about the brown hemp that I found, that resembled the brown fabric covers on my ottomans.

I loved my chocolate brown corduroy, when I first made the covers.  Sadly, after about two years, they have seen better days.  The corduroy is looking very worn and starting to come apart at the seams.  I expected that it wouldn't last too long.  This is, obviously, a place for our feet to rest and is used quite a bit.  

Online fabric shopping seems like it would be a little challenging, but I have been pleasantly surprised.  The picture, below, shows my new fabric sitting on my old ottoman.  Not a bad match!  I was looking for something durable and about the same color.  It's hard, when you can't feel and touch the fabric, but I decided to just go for it.  The hemp that I requested was VERY thick and heavy.  I'm so excited because I think it will be long lasting and look perfect in this space.  Honestly, it's exactly what I would have picked if I went shopping at the store, rather than online.

The hemp fabric that I picked is a woven fabric, that reminds me of a heavy duck cloth canvas. 

Isn't it pretty?  I can't wait to get started sewing!  I will be sure to share my pictures of the finished product when I'm done.  

Organic Cotton Plus provided me with 3 yards of brown Hemp fabric in exchange for my review of the product.  The opinions stated here are my own.

Side note:  I'm always a bit hesitant to accept the invitation of companies to review their products.  I don't ever want this blog to feel like I'm always trying to "sell" something.  Currently, the only two companies I have reviewed for are LeapFrog and Organic Cotton Plus Fabrics.  I believe in these companies and will happily promote the good work they do!  I do receive offers almost daily, in my inbox, but I rarely think a company would be a good fit for me.  A few of the reasons I chose to review products for this company are: I love to sew, the idea of working with organic fabric appeals to me, and the fabric is made in the USA.  That being said, you probably won't find a whole slew of new product reviews on here, unless Williams Sonoma calls.  I will happily review their products any day.  

Happy Online Fabric Shopping!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Reading For The Health Of It

I've been spending a lot of time with my nose in a book lately.  I'm in between contracts with my LeapFrog work and that means I have time on my hands, in between working a full time job, running my kids around, and keeping up with housework and cooking.  (My first year contract with LeapFrog has expired and now they are writing my new contract with the legal department.  I know from last year's experience that this may take several weeks.  I'm enjoying my time off, but also missing the work!)  I've been using my spare time to catch up on some reading, and I've been reading just for the health of it.

I've always been pretty sickly.  My mom claims they named an entire wing of the walk-in clinic after me, as a kid, because we spent so much money there.  Over the years, I've been told I have Graves disease, sinus disease, kidney disease, reactive airway disease, Diverticulitis, and I get chronic cases of Strep Throat.  To top it off, I get EVERY SINGLE illness that walks in my kindergarten classroom.  I just seem to have a weak immune system.  Combine all of those things with Migraines, and I'm usually a mess.  I've been working with a Naturopath for the the past few years and I'm doing much better, in the health department. I attribute part of my increased health to Botox injected in my scalp and the back of my neck every three month, for headaches, and the discovery of gene mutation that caused my immune system to be weaker than normal.

That brings me to my reading material for the past few weeks.  While I'm not saying that I'm going gluten free and dairy free, I have been trying to incorporate these recipes into our daily lives. All of the books that my Naturopath suggested talked about the evils of dairy and gluten, and how they cause inflammation.  Inflammation has been my enemy, in all of my illnesses.  Every time I get something like a chronic migraines, an airway flair up, or Strep, they give me Steroids.  Steroids really help, but essentially all they do is reduce inflammation.  Well, if I could reduce the inflammation in my body without drugs, wouldn't that be nice?  Diet is the key to reducing inflammation, and gluten and dairy are the biggest contributors to inflammation

 It was kind of a funny experiment.  Over the weekend, we went on a mini ski trip and I ate a burger for dinner one night, pancakes for breakfast, and pizza for lunch (and there may have been a few chocolate chip cookies in there too).  My face, especially my eyes, were completely swollen the day after I got home.  I think the combination of dairy and gluten was a shock to my system, since I hadn't eaten them for a while.  I can't really be sure if that's what caused it, but it was an interesting experiment. 

I think I'll go eat some leftover butternut squash soup (without cheese) and curl up with book about the Paleo diet.

Happy reading and healthy eating!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Never, in a million years, would I have thought I would like this soup.  Everything about it sounds horrible to me.  It's made with squash, carrots, celery, and onions.  Blending those things together does not sound appetizing, but I'm here to tell you... It is amazing!!

I've been really trying to add more fruits and vegetables to my diet lately, and not just broccoli or green beans.  I've been trying to branch out and try things I normally would not eat.  We've learned to love sweet potatoes, avocados, spaghetti squash, and butternut squash.

I found a simple recipe online, but made several changes because I didn't like the original too much.  Here's what I did:

I started with a large package of chopped butternut squash.  It was about 4-5 cups.  I roasted it in a baking pan with a little olive oil for about 40 minutes.

In a blender, went:

4-5 cups roasted squash
1 stalk of celery
1 large carrot
2 slices of onion
3 cups chicken broth

I blended this for 8 minutes in a heavy duty blender. 

Next, I added salt and pepper to taste and a few tablespoons of butter.  I blended this up again.

If you have a fancy blender that heats, you're done.  If not, the mixture can be heated on the stove.

Finally, I topped it with a few tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese and sprig of rosemary.

Yum-O!  The texture kind of reminds me of a thick, cheesy soup, but without all of the guilt. It's Heavenly.  

Happy blending!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Organizing the Bathroom Cupboard

Organizing under the bathroom sink is one of those jobs I've been procrastinating for years.  Once upon a time, it was organized in little bins and we could find Band-Aids, sunscreen, and Kleenex pocket packs in about 10 seconds flat.  Then, life happened and the kids grew up.  Suddenly we needed to store multiple braces and bandages for sprained knees, ankles, and fingers.  Nail polish kits became the birthday gift of choice, and everyone seemed to get picky about the brand and SPF of sunscreen they wanted for the Summer months.  Things were pretty ugly underneath this bathroom sink, friends.

For Christmas, I put $1 shoe bins on my wish list.  My sister-in-law came through with a bundle of 12 containers.  

Pulling everything out seemed like such a daunting task.  I put the job off for another month, but this past week I finally decided to tackle it.  I was thinking it would take a while to sort through all of the bottles and packages.  Ha!  A job I thought would take forever, took about 20 minutes.  

This was the best 20 minutes I've ever spent organizing.  I can find stuff again!  My label maker came in handy for organizing the bins too.  I heart my label maker.

Money can buy happiness, friends, and it only costs $12.

Happy organizing.

(If you're wondering why I did black and white pictures for this post, it's because I can't stand the coloring that comes from taking a photo in a room with no windows and you're forced to take pictures with overhead lights.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The New Family Room Couch

Well, we finally did it.  We bought the piece of furniture that we said we'd go back for 3 years ago. 

It's probably been more than 3 years, now, but a few years back we decided it was time for an update in our family room.  The room had been painted yellow and housed over-sized, 10 year old, denim couches that had been slip-covered and had seen better days.  It was time for an update and we found the perfect (small-ish) couch at La-Z-Boy.  We ordered a custom color because I loved the fabric and I was actually surprised that the custom color was the same price at the floor sample.  It has really been the perfect couch, but we didn't buy the matching loveseat.  The loveseat was the same price as the sofa, so we just went with one piece to save a bit on cost.  We used a couple of chairs, that I had originally purchased for another room, in place of a couch and just pushed them together so it looked like a loveseat.  About a month ago, we decided it was time to go back and buy the loveseat.  My fear was that it would no longer be available.  Much to our luck, they still had it!

When we sat on the loveseat, we realized how small it was.  Because the couch was smaller than normal, that meant the loveseat was even smaller.  It was really more of an oversized chair.  Since they were almost the same price, we opted for buying an identical couch.  Now we have two matching couches in the family room, with plenty of seating for lots of friends.  It's a little tighter, right when you walk in, than I had hoped, but no one seems to notice.

As a matter of fact, no one REALLY seemed to notice.  We had family and friends who are as close as family, over for the Seahawks game a few weeks ago and they didn't even notice my new furntiture.  I pointed it out and they said, "Wow, it blends right in and looks like it belongs.  I didn't even notice."  I guess that's a good thing when a piece of furniture just fits right in like that!

I finally feel like this room is furnished the way I want.  We have plenty of seating and I love these couches.  They are deep enough to curl up on but no so deep that you can't get out of them.  They are also a bit smaller than a typical couch, which is great for a smaller family room.  Now, I need to do something about the tattered ottoman covers.  The corduroy fabric has seen better days and is even starting to rip.  Hey... I finished all of my projects in the LIVING ROOM, but I never said I was done with the FAMILY ROOM.  There's always something that needs to be done.

Happy decorating!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Toy Photography - Day 1

A few days ago I read a great blog post on Clickin' Moms about a photographer who spared her children the agony of posing for pictures, for a while, and snapped photos of their toys instead.  I loved this idea because I've always been a bit sad about favorite toys that were left in the dust.  I knew my first toy photo had to be "The Guys" that my little boy loved so much.

The Guys are Baby and Bubba.  Bubba is the doggy on the left.  My son was given to him by one of my husband's co-workers when he was born.  He couldn't say puppy, when he was learning to talk, and it came out as Bubba.  Bubba was his absolute favorite toy and I was always afraid he would forget Bubba at daycare and we'd be in a world of hurt at bedtime.  I thought that we might be able to find a second Bubba to keep on-hand, but the closest thing I could find was a little bear with the same color of fur.  The animal I thought would become a replacement in case of emergency, became the other half of a bonded pair.  The bear was named Baby and he became one of The Guys.  

My son left The Guys behind many years ago, but I've always saved them.  He carried them everywhere for years and I still get a little choked up remembering my little boy.

On a photography note, I thought it would be fun to get my son in the shot too.  I knew he wouldn't pose with The Guys, so I just set them on the porch when he was out shooting hoops.  It kind of shows what he left them behind for. Life for my son is now about sports and not stuffies.  sniff, sniff

Now, I'd like you to meet Bubby.  When my daughter was born, her big brother wanted to bring her a Bubba at the hospital.  We searched and searched... with no luck.  The Ty company had discontinued this type of stuffed animal.  Luckily, they had this great online marketplace called Ebay, and we found it online.  Big Brother brought Bubba to the hospital and gave it to his sister.  Lamby became her Bubba's mate for life, and somehow it was just easier to call them Lamby and Bubby.  

(Side story:  My daughter took Lamby and Bubby everywhere she went and slept with them every night.  There were a few nights when she had hidden Lamby  and Bubby or put them in a special place and so she had to sleep with something else.  So, we figured Lamby and Bubby were just hiding somewhere when we could find them for a few days.  Well, days became weeks and she was getting distraught.  We tore the house apart looking for those guys, with no luck.  They were missing for about a year, when I was tucking her into bed at her cousin's house, on the other side of the state from our house.  I peeked over at the stuffed animal pile and thought I saw a familiar tail sticking out.  I honestly think I screamed.  I couldn't believe we found them after a full year of being missing! At least they were in good hands at her cousin's house for a year. )

My photography note on Bubby's picture is that I wanted capture where Bubby lives now.  My daughter is 10 now and doesn't always sleep with stuffed animals.  Most of the time, Bubby stays tucked under a blanket by her bed (another gift from one of my husband's co-workers).  I always think it's sweet when she takes Bubby to sleepover though.

Finally, for my last toy shot, I couldn't resist the Seahawks Build-A-Bear.  I found him shoved in a drawer and it seems like a perfect time to bring him out.  Now I am officially the only one in the house without a Seahawks jersey.  Even the stuffed bear has a jersey!  (If I buy one, I'm buying a Gilliam jersey.  He's the guy who caught the first touchdown of the playoff game two weeks ago.  He didn't get enough credit for that, so I'd buy his jersey.  Go Gilliam!!)

I really did enjoy taking pictures of the kids' old toys.  I tried to set them up like real photoshoots, making sure I liked the lighting.  It was a really cloudy day, but the tripod helped.

Happy toy photography!


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