Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Organizational Challenge: Update Post Two

This post should be entitled 'slog' because that's pretty much the stage I am at with my craft room. However, as directed by Laura over at 'I'm an Organizing Junkie', and also because I promised you last week that I would, here is update two on the beast room.

I have been trying to follow Laura's PROCESS system for the space and heaven knows I needed strict guy lines (God knows I needed one of those too before I opened up the pocket doors and went into the room) guidelines. As per the afore mentioned organizing system:

Still removing stuff but I wanted to show you that there IS
a counter top in my room! Can't see it again tonight though :(
PLAN: I planned to sort, purge and organize my craft room, evaluated that very little in the room was working except that I wanted to keep the sewing table with my sewing machine on top of it and keep the antique chair that I'd been using for sewing. I knew that I wanted to get rid of my drafting table and chair, despite DH's concerns about that. What wasn't working was the room being used (by me. This mess is ALL on me) as a dumping zone. Budget? None. It's a craft room for heaven's sake, if I don't have something I need, couldn't I just make it?

REMOVE ITEMS: I really liked this part. Really, really, really! I will ignore the fact that it took me three days to move everything into our small guest bedroom where I could close the door and keep the children away from all the bits and dangers likely lurking there. When all of the stuff was moved (less the sewing table, sewing machine, antique chair, drafting table and drafting chair), I was able to close the bedroom door. Just. Remove then sort and purge: I am still at this stage likely because I am doing it in conjunction with the next step,

ORGANIZE INTO PILES: DH is going to find this one funny as he calls me the 'Pile Queen'. When things are out of order, I sort them into piles and then ignore them until they get so cumbersome that they need to be moved for child safety reasons. Therefore this stage is second nature already.

So, even after a month and a half, I am still sorting, purging and organizing. That being said, I am starting to move into the CONTAINERIZE stage as I am putting away (into those gorgeous cupboards and shelves and drawers) whatever makes it through the sort and purge stage.

Still moving things out...
One of the things Laura said in her suggestions for this challenge is not to purchase any other containers, etc until you know what you will need at the end of the sorting and purging. I have spent $5 on a piece of pegboard to put over my sewing table to hold my quilting rulers, scissors etc and have plans on making two spool racks for thread but not before this challenge is over as something else she stressed is the importance of making a clutter free space that is easy to maintain rather than concentrating on making it cute. The decorating siren's call is strong but I'm trying to resist. So far.

I HAD to add the flower for inspiration. Three DAYS of
shifting stuff out was HARD!
I also added a stipulation of my own to this project in hopes that it will help me maintain some semblance of a deadline: no using the craft room for projects while I'm organizing. I've only managed to ignore that rule once which is pretty impressive for me ;)!

Wow. A window with brand new window stickers still on it. Nice.
Time is running out on this project. We do have company coming in June therefore the guest room has to be emptied by then. Happily, the guest room is now 50% emptied of the stuff I piled in there (which will likely come as a huge relief to anyone planning on visiting us who might need that room to sleep in).

Update Post Three will be next week as I'm extending my deadline again...to the end of May 2013.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

House Envy

A couple of weekends ago, DH was nice enough to let me off the childcare hook for an hour or so and I was able to tour the 2013 St. John's Health Care Foundation's Home Lottery show home - a first for me since we moved back to the province. I now have serious house envy (and if you want to see really good pictures of the house, visit the website. I was taking pictures for ideas and forgot about blog quality ;)!).

It's not so much that the house is that much nicer than mine (I prefer ours, particularly our land, view and backyard, pit though that is) but that the show home is so finished and by finished I mean so nicely put together.

SO not child friendly. But I love it!
It is challenging to be at home with three very young children full-time. When you are someone who really, really, REALLY enjoys decorating? Wow. It's even harder. I have so many ideas and visions in my head of how I want their bedrooms (and ours!) and parts of the house to look, the cute spaces I could make for the kids (can you say 'reading nook'?) that it's hard to keep to the plan of cleaning up the kitchen each night, getting the laundry done, and people fed and still feel like I am accomplishing something.

The  house had SO many cool ideas for the kids and for our house in general.

The finishes were super cool.

This wallpaper was used on the bar room ceiling and really gave an aged tin ceiling effect. Pretty easy to replicate as well.

Ah dreams. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Blog Worthy Conversations

From the mouths of our creatures children:

From yesterday:

Eldest: Mommy? How many minutes are left in the year?
Mommy: How should I know, Eldest? Ask your father. He's the engineer! (Thank God I married one...).

An overheard conversation between Eldest and Middlest:

Middlest: What's a teenager?
Eldest: Weellll, a teenager is a kid that still goes to school but goes to a bigger school. A bigger kid. A teenager's job is to look for a husband or a wife. Really, I don't understand why teenagers have to go to school. If I was a teenager, I should spend my time looking for a husband or wife, not going to school (and teenagers around the planet would agree with him too I daresay).

A conversation between me and Middlest:

Middlest: Mommy?
Mommy: Yes, Middlest?
Middlest: You're a girl, right?
Mommy: Yes, Middlest.
Middlest: You're a girl because you got breastisis for nursing babies, right?
Mommy (somewhat concerned by the simplistic nature of this conversation but going with it anyways):  Yes, Middlest.
Middlest: And I have breastisis too.
Mommy (catching on a bit): Yeesss, but you are a boy so you can't nurse babies, honey.
Middlest: Awww! (Pouting). But I want to grow big breastisis when I grow up so that I can nurse my babies too!
Mommy: I know, honey. 

A van ride conversation:

Middlest: (In a very angry voice) Mommy!
Mommy: Yes, Middlest?
Middlest: (Arms now crossed and brow ferociously furrowed) I am so mad! You never let us drive!

While leaving Michaels Art and Crafts with Middlest, him again with brow ferociously furrowed and stomping mad (why, yes, he is a pretty intense little boy. Why do you ask?):

Middlest: But I WANT to WORK at MICHAELS!!!
Mommy: Yes, Honey, I know but you aren't old enough to work at Michaels yet. You need to be sixteen.
Middlest: But I'm STRONG enough!
Mommy: Yes, I know.
Middlest: And I'm a hard worker!
Mommy (sighing): Yes, I know you are. I'm sorry but you're going to have to wait awhile yet.
He sat with his arms crossed and bitterly angry the whole ride home.

When Eldest was a toddler and knowing I am a breast feeding advocate and nursing Mom, my sister gave Eldest the cutest t-shirt that said 'I'm a Boob Man' (she was going to get DH a complimenting t-shirt that said "My son has great taste" - too bad she decided not to!). Eldest had the t-shirt on a couple of years ago and my sister and one of my SIL's were teasing him and asking him if he knew what was on his t-shirt

Eldest: "Yes, it says 'I'm a boob man." Then he smiled and said very proudly. "Actually, that's not true. I'm only a little boy but, when I grow up I'm going to be a boob man!"

Two years ago around Halloween, Eldest had a giraffe costume on. My Mother was here and commented on the giraffe in the house. Eldest said something to the effect of, "Grandma! I'm not a real giraffe! I'm just pretending. I'm just a boy!"

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Styling The Pit

The weather over the past two weeks has been phenomenal. April and May are not generally known for being 'spring' in this part of the world. When I was growing up, this time of the year was most definitely still late winter. Yesterday afternoon hit 21 degrees on our thermometer in the back yard. The boys were greased down with sunscreen and I was almost concerned about being too warm. I have even had the heat off and the windows wide open most days over the past two weeks.

With any hint of Spring weather comes the desire to create an oasis in our gravel pit of a backyard. The Veseys catalogue comes out and DH and I start dreaming. If we don't procrastinate too much, we might  actually get to use the $50 off our order coupon on the back of the catalogue this year.

When DH and I first got together, we agreed that I would have decorating veto power on everything in the house except for the kitchen as DH also cooks and bakes and is very, very picky about his cooking space. When we moved to this house, I found the large, untouched space of the outside of the house so overwhelming that I gave him complete design control over that too. In hindsight that might not have been wise as DH has teasingly reminded me that this open concept house means the majority of the living space is in the 'kitchen territory' so I have essentially lost decorating veto power in most of the house. Sigh.

Let's talk about one of DH's projects for a change. I have told you something about my on the go projects and when DH has a project on the go, it is usually something big. Real big.

First off, DH worked very, very hard the summer of 2011 digging a hole in preparation for a larger, grade level deck in our back yard. He had to stop due to the Fall weather which worked out actually as it gave him a chance to look at the fruit of his labour and see how the plan would work with respect to drainage etc.

Turns out, it wasn't going to work out well. At. All.
Hmm. A pond in the back yard wasn't part of the plan. The boys
enjoyed it while it lasted though.
So, Plan B was developed.

DH's hand dug deck space before the gravel spreader turned up.

The stone slinger was a bit hit with the boys. They watched safely from
inside the house.

More back breaking labour.
Eldest looks so intense and so cute!
Ah! Major progress.
Lookin' good!

Every deck raising requires extra helpers (all the way from
British Columbia no less!).
Helping Daddy.
Enjoying the new deck already.

Beautiful mitres.
More extra hands.

The home stretch.

Completed on a gorgeous evening.
The bank behind the deck is one of the areas we hope to tackle
this summer 2013.
The sky we will get to enjoy from our new deck.
The view from the end of the deck back towards the house and the
smaller 'cooking' deck. Middlest calls our new deck the party deck. I
think he's right!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Off The Deep End

I have started making my own laundry detergent and fabric softener. Yep, I've totally gone off the crunchy granola deep end and I luurve it. Making your own household cleaners is a hot concept in the blog world these days I've noticed, whether due to trying to save money (that would be me. Almost $60 a month in laundry detergent alone was killing me, let alone the bank account) or wanting to know exactly what chemicals are coming in contact with your skin (that would be me too) there are many reasons to make your own.

There are lots and LOTS of DIY laundry detergent recipes all over the Web. I picked this one. I keep the extras in the original 5 gallon bucket that I mixed the detergent in and use one of the old Ivory Snow containers that I used to buy (at $25 a pop from Costco I might add) for day to day use. We started using the detergent in March and we are only on the second refill of that bottle. We do about ten loads of laundry a week so that's great savings already. The recipe I used called for 'Fels Naptha' hard laundry soap which I could not find here (US only product perhaps?) so instead I ordered a natural hard laundry soap from a Canadian online company (DH originally brought home Sunlight hard soap but I am very allergic to Sunlight so we returned it). I ordered six bars (and will update this post if I ever find their contact information again) and used only 3/4 of a bar for my first batch of laundry detergent. I also added some Lavender essential oil to the mix - the oil is too diluted to worry about it leaving residue on clothes and the smell helps me relax. I really need to feel relaxed in the laundry room.

I also really don't like the smell of and garbage created by either brand name fabric softener dryer bricks (which only last 2.5 weeks in our house versus the four months advertised) or the fabric softener sheets. However, I also really do not like static electricity. Therefore, I started using this fabric softener recipe. I really like the results. The only thing I don't like about the recipe is the fact that it calls for regular hair conditioner as one of the main ingredients and, as hair products have all kinds of nasty things in them, I have some concerns about that but not enough to stop using it until I find an alternative recipe. This recipe is easy, peasy and I just feel so darn wholesome when I use the homemade detergent and fabric softener. Not to mention that I LOVE how our clothes feel and smell. Soft and fresh and the sourness that was starting to really become bothersome in some of our towels and dishcloths is gone, gone, gone without having to use any bleach.

Next, I want to start making my own soap. I knew that this would come to pass for me someday. I have been buying handmade soap for years and years (and had the best set up of all when we lived in Kanata and a good friend in Ottawa used to make and sell soap. It was such a treat to visit her and her family and get to go shopping in the 'soap room') and knew I would likely branch off into making my own someday. There are some set up costs however so I will slowly start collecting the materials and keep you updated on my progress.

The pictures from this post are of a princess birthday cake I made this past weekend for a lovely, lovely girl who just turned six and who celebrated with a craft and pizza birthday party. Both Eldest and I got to attend the royal party. When her mother asked if I had time to make a cake I said "No, but if she wants pink I'll do it!". There is a bit of a pink dearth in our house with me and four specimens of the male persuasion so the opportunity to decorate and design a pink cake was too good to pass up.

I borrowed the princess figurines from another six year old friend.
Thanks for saving the day, A!
Face painting was also part of the fun.

And I really enjoyed the opportunity to go home with a very, scary pirate!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Organizational Challenge

Okay, so I virtually signed up (that means I thought to myself, "Self, what you just found is a REALLY good idea. This  is totally something that could light a fire under your butt to get you to concentrate on X, Y or Z space and finally get it organized."). Not one to care if I'm late for a party*(see digression below), it didn't bother me that the challenge was over on the day I found out about it. I wasn't interested in a prize anyways. I wanted an organized space!

*Pre-children, I hated being late for anything. Now that I have three late makers children, I aim for arriving within 30 minutes of the set appointment/start time. And I'm a liar to because, to be totally honest , it's usually the mother in this house who insists on silly things like a shower/breakfast/a pee before leaving the house directly resulting in us being late (unless Eldest is having a bad morning. He. Is. SLOW. It appears to be a genetic issue passed on from my mother's side of the family...Or so I've been told). However, what's the use of having children if you can't pin a little excuse on one of them now and again? My personal favourite is, "Oh, I'm so sorry I'm late. I had to change the baby's diaper just as we were leaving the house." Everyone gets that. Though some of the receptionists at the offices we frequent might be becoming concerned about said baby and his volatile waste system, it's amazing how many of them just smile and nod knowingly, glad they are over that particular child rearing stage themselves. Meanwhile, Littlest is beaming away happily ignorant in the knowledge that his arse has been used again as the reason why our tribe is late. End of tangent.* 

Now, where was I going with this? Oh yes. I found The Organizing Junkie's March 2013 31 Day Organizational Challenge and thought "I think I can do this" and "Never mind that it's the 31st of March when I found the challenge. I can do it on my own". 

So here I am, baring one of my deepest, darkest household secrets to the blogosphere and beyond and would like to stress Laura's very important rule about this challenge which is "it is NOT about judging each other. It’s about encouragement and support. Nastiness is not tolerated here." LOVE, Laura and take that inner voice of nasty.

On another tangent about women and their struggle with their inner voices (I'm not alone. Yeah!) this video is very much worth a look. You have likely already seen it as it went viral but, if you live in a bubble like me and haven't, have a watch. This is one very, very powerful video.

Alright, back on topic again. As per Laura's rules, here goes (Warning: graphic mess alert. Fingers crossed that I don't get a call from Hoarders offering me a spot. Don't real hoarders have their stuff neatly stacked???):

Introduce Yourself:

Hi, my name is Patty and I'm a chocoholic, wife, mother to three boys, sister, daughter and, apparently, huge collector of nebulously useful objects.

Where I'm Starting:

For my personal challenge, I am going to gut and organize my craft room/studio. At least that's what the space was meant to be when we designed the remainder of our basement and had it professionally finished. Sadly, it has become the area where I open the door, throw in something else and slide the door shut quickly enough so as not to cause an avalanche. My greatest impetus for organizing this space is that the creative energy that I had before 2007 and the birth of Eldest appears to be returning and I think it would do great things for my mental health to have a space entirely of my own that I can go to for ten minutes to work on a project, then walk away and back to the reality of Super Mom-dom. 

Time Line:

Finish at the end of April - er - mid- May 2013.

And, hardest of all, BEFORE pictures:

Before trying to enter the room, you first have to go over other 'treasures'. 
Worse than you expected, right? 
Um, yes, I did perform gymnastics every time I needed a sharp needle or sewing scissors.
Mommy's need their exercise routines too.
All that gorgeous cabinetry and counter space...so close and yet so far away.

No, it's only at thigh height not waist. Scout's honour.

A small sampling of my yarn stash. I wonder where the rest of it is hiding?

Why, yes. I did sew two sets of costumes and other small projects with the room this way.
I'm a mother. I can pull a pearl out of a distracting work space easily. Twitch? What twitch?

Hard to believe we paid to have that counter top put in. There's one there. I swear it.

Wow. Just, wow.
The original challenge set a progress blog post a week after starting the challenge so, stay tuned for next Tuesday's status update.

And just in case you are in fear of me ever finishing this project (I know you're reading out there somewhere, Mudder!), here is a shot of one of my handy assistants. For those of you not so much into cute toddlers LOOK at that FLOOR! That's some pretty nice hardwood under those toes, Littlest.
Littlest examining the cleaning job I did on the sliding doors. I have so not moved
into this room properly that the new door stickers were still on the two sliding French doors
and the outside window. I hope I pass Littlest's inspection. He looks pretty serious about his job.