Thursday, August 21, 2014

Painted Wooden Boxes

A design trend I'm seeing everywhere these days is the colorful geometric pattern.  I'm crazy for it, and have some fun notebooks that make me happy just looking at them.  I wanted to bring more geometric pattern into my life and yesterday, created a colorful, decorative box for my office.   All you need for this project is an inexpensive wooden box from the craft store, craft paint, paint brushes, painters tape, and clear enamel spray to give your box a glossy finish.  



MAKE A GEOMETRIC PATTERNED BOX

I started with a rough sketch of how I wanted my pattern to look, then used a ruler to draw straight lines on the box.  I used one of my favorite color combinations: hot pink, light pink, black, white and gold and dotted them on the box where the the paint would go.  Then, I taped off the first areas to paint.  It's key that you press the tape down very firmly so that you get crisp lines and no paint seeps through.  I used Scotch Blue Painter's Tape With Edgeblock and it works great.  I only had a couple of minor spots to touch up with a small paint brush when I was done.  Which reminds me to tell you to use a better quality paint brush.  My first brush was a cheap one and the bristles kept coming off onto the paint and I had to dig them out with tweezers- annoying.  The project was much more enjoyable with these brushes.  

follow these steps


I painted three quick coats before removing the tape and moving on to another section.  The paint dries quickly on this wooden box, and taping over a dry section was fine. 


Continuing the paint down the sides of the boxes looks cool too. 




I painted the box with a piece of paper in between the top and bottom, but it still nearly sealed closed while painting- I should have used painter's tape!  I haven't painted the entire inside yet just the edges so that when it's closed, you don't see any wood peeking through.  


When all the paint has dried, spray a light coat of  Crystal Clear Enamel for a glossier finish.   
I'm kind of in love with the finished product!



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You can also find me at I Heart Organizing today, where I'm sharing my tips for preparing for all the kids' parties we attend.  Hope you stop by!

The Weekend Steals & Deals post will be posted a little later than usual on Friday- see you soon! 





Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Organizing & Storing Kids Schoolwork & Art

It's about time I got around to condensing, organizing, and preserving my son's artwork- he's 4 and, as I'm sure you can relate, has created enough art is his young life to create quite the gallery.  He's been in preschool at least part-time since he was 18 months old and every week would bring home all the art he'd created that week at school.  I kept nearly everything from 18 months to 3 years, and then when he started PK3, I knew we'd have a big problem if I couldn't let anything go, so after admiring and talking about each thing he'd made, I'd toss some, but kept everything else in bins.  


Now that he just started PK4, I knew I had to tackle this paperwork situation before it was too overwhelming.  I posted the pic below on my Instagram, and some kind readers recommended using the Artkive app as a clutter-free way to save and store kids' art.  I went to their website and saw that you just take a picture of the art with your phone and "artkive" it with the app.  Then, you can create a hardcover book/album with one image on each page (8x8 or 8.5x11).  The book must have a minimum of 20 pages and 140 pages max.  The app is $4.99 and the book costs $25 (8x8) or $27.50 (8x11) for the first 20 pages, $1 per page thereafter.  Or all books from 95-140 pages cost $100 (8x8) or $102.50 (8.5x11).  You can customize the pages (if you want) with a title of the image, child's name, grade, and date created.  


Other people recommended photographing the art and then using Shutterfly to make a book or the Becky Higgins Project Life app (coming soon).  I've yet to make a Shutterfly album of any kind (although I know people love them).  I think they can get pricey too, so for simplicity's sake, I think I'm going with the Artkive app.  

First thing I knew I needed to do was to photograph each piece of art I wanted to save.  (I had already kept the art sorted into two groups: 18-months - 3 years and PK3).  I put each piece on a white foam board to keep the background simple, but I know some moms photograph their child holding the art (super cute- I need to do that) or choose another backdrop.  I find that the iPhone takes good pictures, especially if you are near a window. 


But, it is time-consuming and makes quite a mess in the process.  See that little clear space of carpet? That's where I sat for hours photographing the art and taking a sentimental walk down memory lane.  I think taking the time to do this is worth it because even looking back on these couple years made me remember how little my son was and how proud he would be when he brought something home to share.  


Below is an example of what the pictures look like in the Artkive app.


Of course, I am keeping physical copies of some special items (like the first time James came home with a paper with his name written on it, his report cards, and Christmas program to name a few).  And anything that had his picture or handprint or fingerprint, I couldn't let go of.  


So, what to do with the art I'm keeping and other important documents I need to have on hand?  Since my son is still young, we can fit everything into the small plastic file bin we've been using since he was a baby.  I just needed to sort through it, organize it, and make it less "babyish".


The file folders inside before were an olive green and I wanted something cheerier, so I went with an ombre assortment of lime green, light blue, and aqua from The Container Store. 


After weeding though what was inside, and tossing what I no longer needed, I wrote on small post-it notes the new name for each folder.  I always do this step so I don't waste label tape. 


To make the labels pretty, I printed them with my labeler (black ink on clear tape), then used three colors of washi tape as a cute background.


This bin holds: Medical Info (shot records, pediatrician visits); Baby Notes (like the Newborn Baby Tracker journal I used during his first three months- there's an app now, but I'm keeping my book); Baby Shower stuff (cards, notes, etc.); then Preschool from 18 months - 2nd Grade; and 1st - 6th Birthday (invitation, cards).  


PK3 is the first year James participated in sports, so I made a quick collage of his school photos and affixed them to a piece of colored card stock with washi tape.  Simply handwriting his grade and year was easy, although I will go back and add his teacher's name.  I will probably make a back-to-school printable questionnaire to add to the files since they are so fun to look back on. 


Seeing as how full the PK3 folder is, I'm sure we will graduate to a bigger box before 2nd grade (I'll probably just separate birthday cards into a separate box), but for now, one small bin will do.  Oh the joys of having only one child! :)


As for the papers we are using for this school year, I made a separate binder.  I did this last year and found it handy for keeping track of school information as well as sports stuff like the rosters, parents contact numbers, game schedules, and snack schedule. 


A pretty notepad and my favorite sharpie pen are perfect for jotting notes.  


I need to relabel the tab below (should say PK4!) These are Martha Stewart dividers from Staples that I recycled from another binder. 


Phew!  I feel so much better now.  I just need to order my Artkive album now- I counted a total of 136 pictures for preschool and PK3 (but I also added in a couple of my son on his first day of school to be included in there).  I'll let you know how it turns out. 

How do you organize and store your children's art?  Are the piles making you crazy or are you a good tosser? 
















Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fabric Organization

What started with wanting to get my son's artwork condensed and organized turned into a weekend full of cleaning out and organizing my office closet where things tend to accumulate until I can't even get in there, let alone find anything.  This closet is a good size and has lots of potential, but I wasn't making the most of it.  I moved my two wrapping carts into the closet because they didn't go with the calmer, more grown-up vibe I was going for in the room.  I still use them quite often (more on that later this week), but with all my mess stuffed onto the floor, I was having trouble accessing it.  Time to get in there and get organized!


It's funny to realize I did a big office closet clean-out almost exactly one year ago and got it to the point in the picture below.  I think the back-to-school time of year causes me to want to dig into those scary places in my home (or just rework areas that need tweaking), so I'll be doing some organizing projects in the next couple weeks.   I got a good start on organizing my son's artwork and that's a huge weight lifted!


Today, I'm sharing how I organized the fabric that previously took up three of the four drawers in the built-in dresser off to the right of the closet.  I realized that I wasn't taking advantage of the height and hanging bar in this closet and that I could free up some valuable drawer storage by taking the fabric out of the dresser and hanging it.  


Of course, first I had to get to work clearing everything off of the floor so I could even get to the fabric in the drawers, and that was a big job!  To hang the fabric, I used small (kid size) plastic white hangers that previously held my sweaters.  Awhile back I switched out these hangers for the huggable kind, but I was storing these in my son's closet.  I'm glad I kept them!  I ended up using 46- the exact number I had on hand!


I simply folded the fabric over the hanger, not being too concerned about how long it hung, as long as it didn't hit the boxes/frames below.  They are organized by color and the "kid" fabric is on the far left.  It made me a little sad to see a couple of patterns I had planned on making something for James and now he has outgrown that fabric before I got to the project.  sigh.  





After hanging the fabric, I had two free drawers. :) I kept one drawer of fabric for batting, burlap, and scraps (but it's a much tidier drawer than before)!  Even though it's "just" two free drawers, I can actually see what I have now.  When the fabric was stored in the drawers, it was difficult to sort through to see what I had on hand. 


I'm not a great sewer, but I enjoy fabric and have used it in these projects: pillows and mudroom bench seat, drapescovered books, lined bookcase and wooden stool makeover to name a few. 


Looking at all my fabric makes me realize: 1) I don't need any more and I should do some new projects with what I have, and 2) I'd like to learn how to really sew.  Like my Grandma who made the pin cushion and scrap holder for me.  Maybe I should look around for a class??  Do you sew?  How did you learn?  And, how do you store your fabric? 



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