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Homekeeping — Page 2

A few months ago, the boys decided they wanted fish. I was clearly delusional at the time, because I said, “Of course you can get fish!” And now I’m cleaning fishbowls way more frequently than anyone wants to.

fishbowl1

This is the 6 year old’s fish, Jet.

At first, it was just the cleaning. And then came the inevitable: the cat got very interested in these bowls.

fishbowl2

And then, beyond interested, apparently the cat got very thirsty.

fishbowl3

And now she drinks from the fishbowl multiple times a day. I’ve never seen her actually put her paws in, like she is trying to get the fish; in fact, I’m not entirely sure she even knows there’s a fish in there. But man, she loves to drink that nasty water.

At first, I tried putting cheesecloth over the bowl and securing it with a rubber band. And then a day or two later, I came in and the entire piece of cheesecloth and the rubber band were floating in the fishbowl. Thankfully, the fish was unharmed.

Then, I went to the pet store and looked for lids. Of course, they carry nothing of the sort.

Then, THEN, I tried finding a tupperware lid that would fit on top of the bowl. I couldn’t find one, so I took one slightly larger than the bowl, punched a few holes in it, and set it on top, securing it with one of those jars of seashells to the left of the bowl.

I’m guessing you can figure out how that worked. At least it took her a few days, but she is now adept at knocking the jar of shells off and flipping the lid. GAH!

Finally, I saw a suggestion on a pet forum somewhere, buried deep in the comments. And it seemed like just the solution.

fishbowl4

Yes, that’s just a plastic colander that cost $4.99. It’s not the most aesthetic option, but I think it’ll work. For now, the cat is a little baffled.

fishbowl5

And until she can figure out simple machines, levers, fulcrums and hinges, I’m kind of counting on this working.

fishbowl6

I’ll keep you posted.

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Organizing Craft Drawers

So, I promised yesterday when I showed you my new craft set-up addition that I’d show you inside the drawers today. Look at me, keeping my first blog promise in the New Year. I’m a new woman.

The drawer unit I bought has 5 drawers, and I organized them to work fairly efficiently, although I always feel I fall a bit short. There’s often something that there’s simply too much of, and I have to store it in two different places, and then how to break into two categories, what’s the distinction between what’s stored in the plastic bin and what’s in the desk drawer? And you don’t want to completely undo what you have that works… mo’ craft supplies, mo’ problems, I tell ya.

Anyhoo. Back to the drawers. Here’s my top drawer:

tool drawer

This is what I’m calling the “tool drawer,” for lack of a better term. It’s mostly tools. From the front of the drawer (the bottom of the photo), you’ve got the rotary cutter and blades, my handy Martha Stewart Utility Bone Folder (hiding under the rotary cutter), which is a cool tool that’s kind of a cross between a bone folder and a crafty Swiss army knife. It has tweezers and a craft knife and an embossing tool all tucked in it’s sleek little body. Just like me!

OK, so also my date stamp for my Smash book and washi tape. To the right, there’s my Martha Stewart screw hole punch (LOVE this tool, and couldn’t do without it), craft scissors and a heart hole punch.

Behind all this stuff is mainly myriad adhesives. Glue tape runners, double-sided tape, old scrapbooking adhesives, pop dots, photo corners, glue dots… good grief, I didn’t even realize how many ways there were to adhere one thing to another. Wait ’til we get to the glue drawer!

Now, I will say that I think I came up with a pretty ingenious way to organize everything without spending more money on drawer dividers. I already had a bunch of small little containers, some for drawers, others just collected from various things. I fit some in the drawers in the sizes I needed. But of course, they don’t fit snugly, so every time you opened the drawer, they would slide backwards and dislodge everything. I have some museum putty, which here in southern California is used for earthquaking things, so I simply put some putty on the bottom of each container and affixed it where I wanted it. It’s removable and non-marking, so when I want to reorganize it’ll be easier than using a more permanent adhesive, but it keeps everything in place and works great.

The next drawer I didn’t photograph because it’s simply an “electric tools” drawer, with my heat gun, glue gun, and label maker.

Here’s the third drawer:

cord drawer

Here I’ve really made the most of the cheap organizers and museum putty concept; I just used some of those inexpensive tupperware-type containers you can get at the grocery store or Target. This is sort of the cord/jewelry making drawer, although here’s where I get a little twitchy because I have a whole other area of jewelry making supplies, so what’s the difference here? Well, all the macrame cords are in here, but other than that it’s kind of things-I’ve-been-thinking-about-working-on, which isn’t a very strong organizing concept, but at some point I had to give up. In this drawer you’ll see various rings, jewelry cement, beading cord and macrame and Chinese knotting cord, Korean knotting cord, hemp cord, yadda yadda. Maybe soon I’ll actually make something with this stuff!

Next up, the pen drawer:

pen drawer

Now, you’ll notice the pen drawer is a little empty. I put all my Microns from back in the scrapbooking days and a few Sharpies in here, along with some pencils and craft brushes. I’ve got a few packages of pens in the back there. And some empty containers. I’m still trying to figure out if I should consolidate ALL my pens from everywhere (there are a lot of them) into this one drawer, if they will all fit, what makes sense, etc. So stay tuned on this one.

Finally, the bottom drawer is kind of a catch-all, but could reasonably be named the glue drawer:

craft drawer

So, there’s a lot of glues. But those white circles are the tops of jars of glitter, so there’s a lot of glitter, too, I suppose. And other random things like the tiny clothespins (I’m a TOTAL sucker for tiny clothespins), tags, magnets, and even a box of old scrapbooking markers that I haven’t used in about 7 years. Maybe I should get rid of those? I didn’t put them in the pen drawer precisely because I haven’t used them in so long. They’re probably all dried out.

Those are my new supply drawers! Since I’m showing you all this stuff, it’s probably worth showing you the other areas of my craft set-up. So that’ll be coming later this week, if I can get it all vacuumed and presentable, you know.

Have a very organized day.

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Happy New Year!

I know, New Year’s is like, so 7 days ago. But since my kids just went back to school today, it feels like New Year’s Day is today!

I hope you had a fabulous holiday. We mostly hung around here, staying in bed relatively late and letting the kids play more Skylanders Giants than really anyone should. This morning was a little rough getting back into the swing, but now we’re up and at ‘em and ready to rock n’ roll and any other cliche-with-an-apostrophe that fits here.

I spent a good deal of the break reorganizing my craft area. I am one of the unfortunates who doesn’t have enough rooms to have a dedicated craft room, but since our master bedroom has a kind of sitting area attached to it, I’ve claimed that as my “office” and craft cave. Like a man cave, but with more glitter and crochet hooks.

We moved a chair out of the area to open it up, and I went and concocted a kind of sewing/cutting table with some storage to boot. I did this by going to Ikea and piecing together what I could for the space that I had. I wanted a) a bit more storage; b) a table I could stand at for cutting or other crafty endeavors; c) a permanent place for my sewing machine, which had been moving from the floor to my desk and off again. Here’s what I came up with:

craft desk

You can see it’s sitting right next to my bedside table, which is not ideal, but it’ll have to do. Here’s what I used:

craft desk pieces

Yes, yes, it’s embarrassing but this set-up just barely didn’t work: the adjustable legs on the right were just a tad too short for the extension legs I bought for the drawer unit. That’s why I bought a wood block at Michaels, sawed it in half very poorly, and shoved it under those legs. Ugh, so unsightly. It’s temporary, people, til I find a better solution.

What I like about this set up is that if I move the cat tree (doh!) on the left, I can stand at the end of the table and cut things; I’ve put my biggest self-healing mat on the table there precisely for that use. And the sewing machine doesn’t have to come and go. Luckily, this new machine I have has buttons to make it go on the front, so I haven’t been using the foot pedal. If I get back into using the pedal, I suppose I’ll have to stand or move the machine back to the desk area. GAH.

I’ll show you what I’ve done in the drawers tomorrow. I’ll bet you can’t wait!

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As you’ll all recall, I’ve been delighted to be designing a study space for the newly-turned 6 year old over the past few weeks. I’m so excited to share my space with you today!

I designed this study space for my kindergartener, so the main thing I wanted was a stimulating, fun area whose tools and supplies were easy to access. Obviously, there isn’t a lot of studying going on in kindergarten; as a parent, what I really want to do with this area is create habits and cultivate a positive attitude. I want the study space to be a place where my son wants to go, a place where he feels comfortable and happy and has everything he needs in front of him.

My other philosophy here and in general is attention to detail. I love seeing a space with lots of little design choices that keep surprising you. Charles Eames once said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.” I think that’s how I work, in general; my overall theme is often simply attention to detail.

Let’s check out the space!

The focal point here is the grouping I created over the desk. I showed you how I matted and framed the robot prints here; I hung them at the top and then added the magnetic clip board lower so that the 6 year old can reach it to place things on it. Since we live in earthquake country, I earthquaked them all; that’s Southern Californian for “attached velcro strips to the bottoms of the frame and the wall to secure the pictures.” Even if you don’t live in a seismic zone, it’s worth it to secure anything you are hanging over a kid’s desk. I used Command strip fasteners, which are precut.

To round out the group, I added these cute little surfboard signs that the 6 year old got from his cousins. It’s a special gift that reminds him of an amazing day we had this summer with a bunch of cousins all converging on our house.

On the desk itself, the hedgehog bookends hold a few key books; for now, it’s just the junior dictionary and our nightly classic story book. As he grows, though, that space will keep other reference books, like a thesaurus or a language dictionary (the 9 year old had to get his first Spanish-English dictionary for school this year). The rocketship is something he made with me, and the colors were so perfect it made the cut from old space to new.

I filled the lazy susan with all the tools he needs to do homework and “projects,” which he is always creating. He loves to make books and games and various other drawings and such, so I included markers, colored pencils, crayons, regular pencils (some mechanical and some regular), and key tools: scissors, a ruler, and a glue stick. Because I didn’t want the pencils or crayons to mark up the inside of the lazy susan (I’m neurotic like that), and also to prevent the hard surface of the wood from dulling or breaking the pencils, I lined each compartment with padded drawer liner that I cut to size. And, in order to keep the crayons high enough so the colors can be seen easily, I added some tissue paper, scrunched into a little ball, to prop them up a bit.

I made him a desk blotter that is just the right size and matches the mats in the frames above. I’ll do a quick tutorial on how to make it later this week. The blotter adds some color to the desk and also protects it from pencil scratches.

I wanted him to have a place in his room to hang his backpack, and I wanted it close to his desk. I bought one of those handbag hooks–you know, the ones you carry around in your purse so that when you go out to dinner you can hook it over the edge of your table and not have to set your purse on the floor. Unfortunately, though, they were all super girly. I bought the least offensive one, which was simply a flat square with something about “fashionista” on it, and I covered it with 4 Ninjago stickers, one to represent each of the 4 Ninja. (Sorry, Lloyd, you weren’t included.)

Since most of the tools the 6 year old needs are on top of the desk, we didn’t do too much with the drawers. One thing that needed attention, though, were all the cards that have no home. Pokémon cards, Ninjago cards, Skylander cards… they all just lay around the house because we have no system for storing them. Ha! Now I have a place and a system in the top drawer of his desk.

This little organizer has 9 different compartments that fit cards perfectly. I had one other desk organizer that I put a few other essentials in, like a pencil sharpener, some Japanese erasers (!), Post-Its, tissues, and of course, a few finger lights. You gotta have finger lights.

The two storage boxes currently house old preschool art projects. The larger one is perfect for that. We are going to go through it periodically and purge; I’ll probably have another post on that process in the future.

He loves the space. I’ll probably add a cushion to the chair at some point, since he’s a little small for it, but I haven’t gotten around to finding the right fabric and making the thing. It’s good to have something to work towards, no?

So, that’s my A+ study space. Let me know what grade you’d give it. And I’ll be sure to let you know when voting opens up for this challenge! Stay tuned.

Also, some government agency with an acronym I can’t remember wants me to tell you that I received all the furniture and accessories from Pottery Barn Kids for free, although I didn’t get paid to write this post or participate in the challenge. And don’t forget, if I win enough votes, one of you will get a duplicate set of furniture in a giveaway right here.

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