Friday, January 13, 2012

Organized Home Challenge - Week 1: Kitchen Countertops

Are you an organized person?  For the most part I am: I make a lot of lists, I have a lot of binders, I plan plan plan!  I am great at making agendas, itineraries, meal plans, etc.  BUT my house has issues.  I have trouble finding things.  There are toys EVERYWHERE!  Forms that need to be turned in have no real home.  Mail...ugh.  Don't get me started there!

Last night, once again, I was browsing Pinterest.  Yes.  I know.  It's an obsession.  I can't help myself.  Is there a support group for this? :)  Anyway, I stumbled across this link for the Organized Home Challenge.    It looks like something easy to follow and really great!  So, I'm jumping in.  The challenge actually began with week 1 being January 1 (gee...go figure), so I'm a week behind.  But I think I'll catch up at some point.  If not, oh well.  At least I'll hopefully be more organized, right?!

So, week 1 is about kitchen countertops and the kitchen sink.  Yowzers.  This is an area we struggle.  I'll be honest - I loathe doing dishes.  So if something needs handwashed...yeah.  I'll eventually get around to it, but only when I have to.  And we have a lot of miscellaneous "stuff" on the counters, too: mason jars that have been emptied and washed but not put away, a plant (really?), papers, a hairbow of my daughter's, the toaster which was used at breakfast and left sitting there, a couple of milk jugs that I need to send to school with my daughter next week for a project they are doing...I could go on. In fact, here are the "before" pictures of the current state of my kitchen... (Disclaimer:  my kitchen is u.g.l.y.  It's original to the 1964 house and the decor shows it.  My 5 year plan includes a complete gut and remodel, but I haven't gotten there yet.  So, I'm stuck in the '60's.)

On to the organization:

Step 1: Think About the Function of Your Kitchen
Taylor over at Home Storage Solutions (whose blog this all comes from), lists a bunch of different functions a kitchen can sometimes have.  She then says "the key to kitchen organization is making each function of your space intentional".  Great point!  My kitchen is of course, where we prepare and cook food.  But it's become a dumping ground for papers, a jar storage area, and collection place for miscellaneous other stuff.  It's not the kind of kitchen where people congregate - too closed off and as I said before, ugly.  So, as far as function is concerned, this is (for now) going to be a one function room - cooking/prep of food.  Jars have a home - in the basement.  I just need to take them there.  Papers, etc. don't really have a good solution just yet, but for now they will join the clutter on the wet bar in the den until we get to those solutions (which looks like we'll start in week 10).

Step 2: Create Usable Counter Space and Clear Your Kitchen Table (Mostly)
This step requires you to clear your counters of both things that don't fit the function of the kitchen (papers, jars, hairbows, etc) AND things that do fit the function of the kitchen.  She says anything you don't use at least weekly should not be on your counter top.  Wow!  Good point!!!  A few things I have to find a new home for: canisters that at one point held flour and sugar.  Ummm...yeah.  I really never refill them.  I have other canisters in the pantry to hold that sort of stuff.  Why do I need these?  Because they matched the dishes?  The ones we got rid of several years ago?  Hmmm...And I have a really large bread box on the counter.  I also have a drawer where I actually keep the bread items.  There is always stuff piled in front of the bread box and I can't get to it anyway.  I do have a basket of spices that I use a lot.  I need a better spice solution, but it's what I have for now.  The knife block and utensil jar will stay, as will the spoon rest and the measuring cup set I use for measuring snacks.  The only other things remaining are a couple of cookbooks that I use all the time, and the collection containers for box tops/labels for school and poptabs for the Ronald McDonald House.  Which reminds me, I need to make a cute container for those box tops...

Step 3: Consider These Storage Solutions to Help Clear Counter Space
She has some good ideas here.  Nothing I really need at this point other than the spice solution.  My basket looks good, but just isn't big enough.  I'm thinking about asking my husband to help me put up a shelf under the cabinet that's the right height for my jars.  I only use jars from Penzey's anyway, so height isn't an issue.

Step 4: Create the Habit of Keeping Your Sink Clear of Dishes At Least Two Times Per Day
Ick.  This is where I fail.  Alright, alright.  I'll give it a chance.  At least most things can go in the dish washer! :)

So, how did I do?  Here is the "finished product".

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Puppy Hat

So, those of you that know my youngest, Jesse, know that he wears a lot of hats.  He's always rocking some sort of cute topper.  Unfortunately a lot of his warm winter stocking caps are getting a little too small.  After doing some searching on Pinterest and other websites, I found a bunch of really cute kids caps.  I decided to start with this one since I had leftover yarn from a sweater I made and I have all the right colors.

The pattern for the hat can be found here.  It was really easy to whip up, and only took a few days (with my limited free time).  I ended up making a teen size instead of the child since Jesse has a large head.  His head measures at 21", and the child size would have been too small.  After making the hat, I'd say the measurements given in the pattern are right on.  Mine is tan instead of yellow, and for some reason the ears look longer on mine.  But it is still really cute, and he's gotten a lot of complements on it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thank You, Cricut!

Have I mentioned before how much I love playing with my Cricut?

One of the new crafts I wanted to try this year was card making.  I'll be honest, it's a little harder than I thought it might be.  I'm still working out my technique, but each one I do gets better.  As a Christmas gift, I received the "Create a Critter" cartridge for my Cricut.  I love all the cute little animals and "accessories" to go with them!  This will be a great cartridge when I eventually get around to scrapbooking for my 3 kids!  Especially for trips to the zoo, circus, baby pictures, etc.  But, it has also made some really cute thank you cards that I am mailing out from Christmas.  A little late, I know - it took me some time to get them all made!

I did learn a few things:
1 - bigger is better!!  First, it's much easier to glue on the big pieces than the little pieces.  Sticky, sticky, sticky!!  Second, the little pieces don't always cut as cleanly as the big pieces.  Third, even when I planned it out on the computer and thought it looked too big, the actual cards came out a little smaller than I thought they would.

2 - Decorating the inside is just as important as the outside!  The first two I made, ("Merci" and "So Dear of You" below) just aren't as decorative.  Sure, they took less paper and less time, but the last two I did are just a lot more fun!!

I would love to hear from some card making pros... what sort of adhesives do you like to use?  Particularly for little teeny pieces?  If you have a fave, comment below, and I'll give it a try!

Here are the cards I have made.  Hope you like them!!