Thursday, January 30, 2014

February Goal Setting

Do you set goals for your household and yourself?  I used to but then stopped after having our second child because my goals would never be reached.  Once I stopped pitying myself because poor old me didn't check everything off my list for the day, I started accomplishing more around my house AND began being happier with my kids.  What is the correlation between accomplishing home goals and my happiness as it relates to my children?  Well, I'm a total Type A personality with a super-sized side of slob. Prior to having kids, getting through a goal list that included twenty items a day was no problem, in fact, it was fun. Once babies came into the picture it was a different story. Accomplishing one goal a day was sometimes, okay...most times, a challenge and I began feeling resentment toward my children. It's pretty embarrassing to admit that and even saying it to you now makes me feel ashamed. However, one day a light bulb went off in my brain and the solution I found was to make my goal list OUR goal  list.

We now begin every morning reading over the goals we made the night before. I then ask for suggestions on how each child feels he can help me so that we reach our daily goals. This tactic is working wonderfully in many ways. The first, it's giving the boys a sense of pride and accomplishment. It's also teaching them to live each day with a plan and a purpose. Lastly, it's bringing us all together in a positive way because when they stay with their task I give them a ton of praise.
Here are the items we will base our February goals around.  Of course, I will post updates with the final product for each area listed above. Before I do that, here are pictures of the current state of affairs. 

Take a deep breath........

Cookbooks need purged

Freezer needs help

Craft space and pantry  

Food storage area

Garage - I'm not yet brave enough to show you a picture of my garage because if you were to judge me by my garage you would 100% believe I'm a legit hoarder.  There's a long story to explain why my garage looks messy, but the real story is we live on a three-story townhouse with too many steps for a pregnant woman with two toddlers. Walking down to the garage to clean and organize is the very last thing I want to do. HOWEVER, I WILL CLEAN AND ORGANIZE it this coming month. 

If you feel the way I used to feel regarding not being able to reach goals with kiddies around, I strongly urge you to make an "Our goals list".  Keep me posted on your goals and share some pictures of your final product. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Our Tubby-Time Toy Terrors Are Over!

Do you have a love/hate relationship with bathtub toys like me?  I LOVE them for obvious reasons....they keep the kids happy and quiet (well, at least not fighting) for thirty minutes while I fold laundry while listening to Wendy Williams from afar.  I HATE them because they lay in the tub or all around the bathroom while not in use.

We used to store them under the bathroom sink, but ultimately a child would get out of the tub, sudsy and soaking wet.  Then I would freak because water would be everywhere.  I also tried the laid back approach which was letting all of the toys in the bottom of the tub, but it seemed like every evening someone would get a puncture wound when attempting to get in the tub.  We've had punctured feet, hands, legs, and tooshies.  So, it was obviously time to find a solution that would actually work for us.

By now you may have figured out that my favorite shopping spots are the Target dollar bins and the Dollar Tree.  I always begin with the Dollar Tree because everything is $1.00, and most of the time I buy stuff that is 2/$1.00.  Target's dollar bins are awesome, but it never fails that I walk around and buy other crap.....I mean, wonderful stuff that I'm sure I'll use someday. ;)  For this project I didn't want to spend more than $5.00, so off to the Dollar Tree I went!

The items I would need popped out at me almost immediately.  The bins were 2/$1.00 and I found 10 suction cup hooks in a pack for $1.00!  And, ladies and gentlemen here is my $2.00 solution to a problem I've had for the last four years!!!

This is super easy to do.  Just add a little water to the back of each suction cup, line two up in a straight line, let sit for a while, then attach the lip of the bin to the hooks.

Do you have a tub toy solution that you'd like to share?  We'd love to hear from you!

Check out these wonderful blogs that this post is linked up with.

A Bowl Full of Lemons

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Dark and Cool Place to Call Home

How many of you wonderful people actually have a designated spot for onions and potatoes?  For the past four years (I'm not even joking), upon returning home from the grocery store, I have plopped the bags of onions and potatoes on top of the counter and that was their home until all used up.   It was a gorgeous look. ;)

In an effort to make things pretty AND functional I began searching for the perfect spot. By golly, I found it, and it's perfectly perfect!  We have a cooktop stove with cabinets underneath that held my mixer, oils, toaster, and a toaster oven that takes up a tremendous amount of space and has been used twice in five years.

After finding homes for everything but the mixer, the entire right side of my cabinet was empty and calling longingly to the potatoes and onions.  Next, I had to find something to hold said veggies. Voila!  About a year ago Target had stackable bins on clearance so I bought two for the boys' room, but they just didn't work the way I envisioned. Yep, you know where this is going.....

Doesn't it look so neat, tidy, and functional?!  Onions are on the top because they're used daily, and potatoes are in the bottom bin. The little holes in the bins ensure that the potatoes won't get damp and gross.  This was a huge victory, and the best part is every time I open that cabinet I'm proud of myself.  Lame, but true.

This post is also linked here:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Little Kid's Dream Day - The PA Railroad Museum!

Hi everyone, all tens of you!  ;)  Last week I took my boys on our monthly trip to the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum in Strasburg, Lancaster County.  If you haven't taken your kids there yet you have to do it.  You're thinking...."Trains, Emily?  Trains?  BORING!".  It's honestly not boring at all, this place is awesome for kids, and when our kids are happy, we're happy!  It's totally cheap, you can spend all day there for one fee, and when the weather is nice visitors are free to have lunch at one of their picnic tables overlooking a picturesque farm. 

Upon entering the main hall of the museum, you'll be shocked by the size of the retired and beautifully restored trains. 

Another highlight is the old-fashioned train station, including an office with a telegraph station, and the main street of a little town they've reproduced.  If you like history you'll love it (even if you're not a fan of history, you'll still think it's cool).

Every time we get to the museum my boys run right for Stewart Junction, which is the kid's "building".  Stewart Junction is a hands-on area that includes a model train set with a huge town, a lego table with a motorized lego train town layout, Thomas and Geotrax tables with fun layouts, and tons of educational stuff.

You're probably wondering where the pictures of the trains are in this post.  Here are a few, including the inside of a boxcar that smelled like the inside of my great-grandfather's was wonderfully nostalgic.

Of course, the highlight of every visit for my boys is pretending to be the firemen and shoveling the coal into the firebox.

Finally, this is just a super cute picture of Peter Pan gazing at a model train while Captain Hook takes a picture with his big boy camera.

If you've never visited the railroad museum, I highly suggest taking your kids and making a day of it.  The Strasburg Railroad is directly across the street also.  Just a tip, if you'll be visiting the museum and riding the train, be sure to buy a combo ticket which will save you some loot.  :)

Have fun!!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Coupon Organizer

I absolutely pride myself on being a clearance rack shopper.  If it's not on sale, chances are, I'm not buying it.  I can't help it, it's in my DNA.  My mother was an extreme bargain shopper and her mother, as I'm told, was just plain cheap.

While I have skillfully mastered the art of purchasing off the sale rack, I definitely lack in the area of coupon clipping.  Actually, its not the clipping of the coupons that trips me up, its remembering to use them. 

We get weekly circulars with coupon inserts.  I'll take a quick spin through and tear anything out that we'd possible need or use.  Here's the problem...getting those coupons into my purse, to the store, and in the hands of the cashier.  2014 is my year to change all that!

Target Dollar Deals section has once again coming to the rescue.  I nabbed this adorable chevron stripe 7-Pocket Expanding File that'll solve all my problems (well, not all of them).  It even included plenty of stickers for the tabs.


The first step is to choose 7 sections for the coupons.  These will vary from shopper to shopper.  I just notice that these are the areas we purchase the most of.

Health & Beauty
Snacks & Sides

This project took me a grand total of one minute.  All I need to do from here is separate the coupons in the organizer and get to bargain shopping.
Happy couponing ;)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Spray Paint Transformations

So, I’ve been known to get bored, wander around the house and grab things to “transform.”  You'll find me in the garage armed with a can of spray paint from my massive paint collection. While I usually play it safe and stick to black, white, or oil rubbed bronze, I’m attempting to step out of my color comfort zone.  Go bold or go home!

Most recently Emily purchased some lamps off the clearance shelf (because why on earth would we pay full price) for her master bedroom. While they weren’t her choice of color, the potential was totally there. One can of amazing grass green spray paint and fifteen minutes later the lamps were beyond gorg! They’ll be the perfect accent pieces for her room. Plus, if and when she decides to redecorate (and we know she will) it’ll be an easy project to spray them again in a new accent color.


My latest project was a chandelier for my master bedroom closet.  This mommy has three boys so my closet is the one and only place in home that I insist is void of blue, cars, trucks, and LEGO's.  I needed a little pizzazz in my "happy place."

It's just a standard brass chandelier that I sprayed white.  I know, I know...I should've gone bold, but like I said, I get antsy and white was what was in my spray paint collection.  If I can convince hubby to take it down it'll end up bright pink for sure :)

We’ve jockeyed around quite a few fans in our home in an attempt to re-use instead of buying new. The kitchen fan didn’t quite match the other fixtures so we moved it to the guest room turned nursery. It wasn’t my favorite, but it worked with the shabby-chic look I was aiming for. As my son grew older the fan no longer worked and we purchased a plain white fan to coordinate with the ones in his brother’s rooms. Being the cheapo frugal mama that I am, I was having difficulties just trashing the old ceiling fan.

One can of Rustoleum oil rubbed bronze spray paint totally transformed the fan and I LOVE it. It looks fabulous in our family room and replaces the fan that my dear, sweet hubby broke (that's not what I was thinking when he broke it).

Who doesn’t love a $7.00 ceiling fan!?!?

My point being, don’t discount a bargain or repurposing an item just based on color. Think beyond the color... One can of spray paint and a few minutes is all it takes to totally customize an endless amount of accessories, fixtures, etc.  Plus, accessories are an easy and inexpensive way to add this years “it” color into your home.

;) Happy Spraying

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Double Whammy - Our Reading Nook and Toy Storage Area

I'm super nervous to share something with you that I conceptualized and built (well, Peter Pan and Captain Hook helped too) for the back of our living room.  Nervous?  Yes, nervous.  It's the first thing I have ever built and it was a huge undertaking, so I'm nervous that some of you will notice some of the imperfections.  I'll point them out to you:  1)  The inside of the boxes aren't painted.  2)  Some of the edges aren't as sanded down as they should be.  3)  Finally, I didn't put the hinges on correctly so there's about an inch overhang.  But, I did the ol' spinaroo and told everyone it was on purpose so that my kids don't pinch their fingers. 

Okay, so let's move on to pictures, shall we?

The first picture gives you a glimpse of what the back of the living room looked like when I began.  About a month prior to that my brother helped me rip out a 13' counter with drawers that was used by the previous owner's kids as a homework station.  Some people probably thought I was nuts for tearing it out, but it was ugly and made no sense in the room, or for our family for that matter.  My husband was not thrilled when he got home from work.  Let's move on..... 

I measured the space that needed to be filled by a "box" (that's what I was calling it).  Eleven feet you say, and I'll be loading it, unloading it, carrying it up a flight of stairs with two kids "helping"?  That's when I decided to split it into three "boxes" so that I wouldn't have a heart attack.  From there I went to Lowe's with the measurements and a very helpful and patient man cut every single piece of wood FOR FREE! 


From there I laid out the pieces and began assembling the boxes.  I used wood screws on the sides and also used two brackets on each side of the boxes.

The boys and I were thrilled at this point!  We built a box!  Seriously, just doing this was a victory.

After all three boxes were built they needed to be lined up and the lids needed to be attached and boxes needed to be painted.  Let's sideline this conversation for a minute. Do you notice how the paint color directly above the boxes is lighter than the color on the top half of the wall?  This was a bitter pill to swallow.  I've always heard that you should buy an extra gallon of whatever color you paint a room just incase you need it.  But, of course I didn't.  So, when I bought the same exact color for this project they didn't match.  You'll see later that pillows cover the lighter color, but still........


In this picture you'll see I attached the hinges and you'll also notice that I put a few Imaginext toys in it to give you an idea of the storage capacity.  (I'm pointing out they're Imaginext toys only because if you have boys you'll know how huge those toys are.)
Can you believe the amount of storage space in these beasts?  They're wonderful!  This box holds all Imaginext toys, another holds all of the boys' Geotrax buildings and tracks, and the third box holds all of their Little People buildings, cars, and people.

The final thing that needed figured out was what to do with the top of the boxes so that the boys could also use this space to lay and look at books.  After looking into many options, all WAY outside of my budget, I decided to go to Target and buy two full-sized bed toppers.  Next, the boys and I headed to the shower curtain aisle because the Threshold brand shower curtains are very well made and gorgeous so they'd be perfect to cover the bed toppers.  Finally, we stopped at Lowe's, picked out a piece of plywood, had it cut into two pieces, then headed home. 
I was so excited to get this project completed that I practically ran up the stairs with the boys and all of the goodies.  We folded the bed toppers on top of the plywood the covered everything with the shower curtains.  Captain Hook sat on the opposite side of the plywood to help keep everything in place as I was stapling the shower curtain to the bottom.
After summer I scoured Target's clearance section to find some outdoor pillows. I chose outdoor pillows because of the size and sturdy material.  After hitting up three Target's in about a ten mile radius I was the proud owner of seven perfectly matching pillows for a FRACTION of what they would have cost me a month prior. 
What do you think of the final look?  It's a wonderful little space for my kids!


This post is also linked here:

A No-Tangle Christmas Light Storage Solution

This is the best invention ever.  I saw it somewhere about two years ago and have been doing it for the past two Christmas'.  Start with a cardboard box.  Cut it into pieces that are approximately 8" x 12".  Cut a slit at the top left corner, leaving about and inch on the left side of the cardboard.  Cut a slit at the bottom right corner, leaving an inch on the right side of the cardboard.  Then wrap your lights around the cardboard, sticking the ends of the strands in the slits you've cut. 

Simple, right?  Right!  I expect thank you cards for this one.  ;)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Command Center

So, I'm the type of gal that needs notes and reminders for everything.   I literally need bells, whistles, and alarms to accompany my sticky notes, highlighters, and bold print.  It's unfortunate, but it's my pitiful reality.  If I don't physically write it on one of my three calendars, well,  then I'm not attending.

I started off when we moved to our new house by neatly posting all of our important papers, invitations, and reminders inside our pantry door, along with my calendar.  One fatal flaw...if the door isn't open, I see nothing and attend nothing.  So, I had a brilliant idea (which don't come along too often)!  We had a blank wall between our kitchen and family room that I pass by a million and one times a day.  I decided to turn it into a "Command Center."  An area where I'd post everything from study guides to important events, and even an area for bill paying.  One catch, it had to look darn cute if I'm going to put all of our business on display!

Let's work clockwise and I'll give you the details:

This adorable organizer came off the clearance shelf at Target.  Emily spotted it and got it for me :)
It's perfect for this wall!  It has three different pockets and holds all sorts of stuff.  I broke it up into 5 different sections by taping on magnets I found for $1.00 at Target. I now have a designated area for "Pay," "File," "Send," and "Keep."  I left the top pocket open for miscellaneous junk items.

Next, our family rules.  I found some on Pinterest, tailored them to our family, printed them up and framed them.  It's a nice little reminder for the boys (Mommy and Daddy, too) and a visual for us to refer back to.

Here are our "Family Rules:"

Always tell the truth
Work hard
Keep your promises
Try new things
Don't whine
Laugh out loud
Always say I love you
Use kind words
Do your best
Be grateful, be kind
Be proud of yourself
See please and thank you
Remember you are loved


Again, I scored this magnetic board at Target in the Dollar Deals section.  I attached a pad of paper with a magnetic strip for important daily reminders and to jot down lists.  It also gives me another area to hold smaller items.

I originally put up the "drunken octopus" hooks for coats and school bags, but I just couldn't bear to have them hanging out in the open.  It just didn't seem like the right area, so they went back where they came from and into the hall closet.  Unfortunately, that left me with three hooks with no use.  Luckily, I'd seen these metal pails at Target in the Dollar Deals section (I know, I know...I'm there too often, but I simply cannot resist) and thought they'd be perfect.

To decipher between the three boys' bins I stenciled their initials onto the side of each pail with black paint.  Now, with no confusion between who's pail is who's, the kids put their personal belongings inside.  It also provides me with a place to put any of their "valuables" I find under foot or laying around the house.


This is just a simple peel and stick chalkboard where the kids like to write little notes or doodles.  It's also a cutesy little place for me to jot down a note to them.

These hooks are probably the most used element in our "Command Center."  This is where I put the kids' calendars for school, study guides, and any other important reminders.  My hook usually holds any useful coupons I come across before they make it into my coupon organizer.  Hubbies hook usually contains any mail that he needs to handle.

Each family member has their own color coded clip that hangs from a picture hanger hook.  It was simple to put together.  I measured out the 5 hooks 5 inches from one another, hammered in the nails, and ta-da!

Yes, you guessed it, I got this dry erase calendar from the Dollar Deals section at Target :)  Are you surprised?

Any time an event comes it I jot it down here and also add it to the calendar on my phone.  I find it useful because when plans change I can easily change the calendar.  I'm also going to start using a different colored dry erase marker for each of my boys as they've gotten busier and my brain has become increasingly scrambled.

I wanted an area to showcase the boys' masterpieces.  I made this plaque using an old piece of pallet wood and a stencil.  I added the popular quote by Pablo Picasso, "Every child is an artist."  On the bottom I screwed in three cup hooks to attach clips.  Now, I can easily hang up the boys' artwork for all to admire.

I love, love, this area in our house.  It keeps my crew organized while being organized itself.