Monday, May 30, 2011

Inexpensive Botanical Wall Art

Isn't it so nice to have a long weekend?  The extra time with my hubby and baby around all together at home was so nice.  And James has started becoming such a ham (loves to laugh and make you laugh too) that it's great to be able to share these moments with Jimmy, instead of just soaking them in by myself when I'm alone with James.  It's that glance we give each other like, "How could this baby be so impossibly cute?" and happy!

Aside from marveling at that cuteness, I did manage to complete a project that I'd been wanting to do for a while- add some art to our pitifully empty bedroom walls!  

I love botanical prints and decided to do a grouping of 4 on the wall adjacent to our bed.  I found a book of botanical art (The Botanical Palette) for $22 (after my discount card and coupon) at Barnes & Noble and bought 4 frames (16x20 with 8x10 mat) from Aaron Brothers (again with a coupon- never shop there without one!)  They even scanned the coupon from my phone:)

To save even more money, you can print botanical art at home from your computer like my friend Courtney {A Thoughtful Place} did.  I wasn't as patient with the website she used and I think my printer is out of colored ink!  Also, she found great frames at WalMart.  Gotta love that!

For our botanicals, I kept the color palette in the purple family, but there were so many gorgeous photographs to choose from in the book.

I liked them so much, I added two smaller versions to our master bathroom!

Now we have a nice reflection from Jimmy's mirror and something pretty for me to look at when I leave my closet!

How pretty!

Adding art to the walls is really making a difference in how our home looks.  I love the fruit botanical art too and was considering adding some to the dining room or mudroom, but thought it might be overkill!

Want to share your sources for art?  It's such a personal preference thing, but I'd love to hear what you think.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spring Cleaning & Organizing {Kitchen Drawers}

Of all the rooms in our house, the kitchen is the one I probably spend the most time keeping tidy and organized.  It's the most-used room in the house and gets the dirtiest the fastest.  I love when it looks like the picture below, but of course, that's not most of the time.

Today, I'm sharing a peek inside our kitchen drawers, 3 of which are dedicated solely to James' evolving feeding needs.  We are blessed to have a lot of kitchen storage, so I'm able to organize things how I like.   But, even with an abundance of storage, I don't have a lot of "extras" in that we try to have just enough of what we need.  That's the first rule of organizing, Edit! and don't have too much stuff! :)

The drawers in the L of our counter hold the things I need quickest access to, like James' bibs and washcloths, his utensils, and silverware.

Then the two far right drawers hold paper things like my grocery list, pens, envelops, stamps, calculator, and the tape measure I'm always reaching for.  It's also where I keep my camera charger, photo adapter and fan remote since I like to have those things in easy reach.

The drawers by our sink/stove hold the larger cooking utensils, extra knives, and since the drawers are nice and deep, they also contain James' cups.  The bottom drawer is James' drawer that has things he can play with.

Kitchen Organization 006

We also have a drawer for all the baking tools:)

And finally, the top drawer of the island is for plastic baggies, foil, and my measuring cups and spoons, since I prepare our meals on the island.  The middle drawer holds all our tupperware.  I bought two sets of Rubbermaid tupperware and now I don't have any mismatched pieces.  Love that!

You can order it here.

If you're having trouble keeping your drawers organized, I think it feels good to at least have a clean kitchen sink.  I aim for that each night, since it feels so much better to wake up to:) 

For more Spring cleaning & organizing, go here and here!  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring Cleaning & Organizing Paper Clutter}

Paper clutter!  One of the worst enemies of a productive and otherwise clutter-free household.  It drives me crazy how quickly the mail piles up in our house!  I have started making a point to address the mail each day, instead of waiting until it's out of control.

Now, as soon as the mail comes in, I toss the trash, set aside the bills, and sort the magazines until I have a chance to read them.

I like to keep magazines by my bed so I can read before going to sleep.  Also, I can never read a magazine while James is awake.  (The basket is from West Elm).

As for the rest of the paper clutter in our home, it's nothing a few file organizers and my trusty labeler can't handle!

My principles for organizing the paper clutter are really simple.  It's just hard to get going sometimes, especially if its gotten really out of hand.

Don't run out and buy any new organizing supplies until you've sorted through things so that you can better see what you need.  You can go buy the pretty organizers later- think of it as your reward for all that hard work!
  1. Gather all the papers into one large surface area 
  2. Sort into piles, putting like categories together
  3. Break the categories into subcategories for filing 
  4. Create labels! 
Here's my process put into action with a few major categories in our house:

Here's the whole big mess before I sorted through it.

Then I sorted and put post-it notes on top in anticipation for labeling.

And finally, using a file from The Container Store, I made labels for each section.

Is it just me but are coupons all the rage these days?  I'm obsessed with Extreme Couponing- in the same way I'm fascinated by the Real Housewives.  I don't want to be them, but it's fun to watch.  I do like to save money though, but have been terrible at using coupons, despite my best efforts.  It seems I'd checkout and the in the car on the way home remember I had a coupon or the one I wanted to use was expired, but now I'm determined to be more organized with my coupons.  

This goes for all those discount codes the retailers offer too.  Since those "30% off" or "save $50 for every $100" deals comes along every month, I don't buy clothes without them at places like Express, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor Loft.

I got a mini accordion file at The Container Store for receipts, coupons, and gift certificates.  I keep the coupons I need for the week in the very back so I can find them easily.  And I edit the folder every few weeks and trash the expired coupons or the receipts I no longer need.  Long-term receipts I need to hold on to (like furniture or electronics) are moved to our household file drawer.

The file isn't tiny, but it fits easily in my purse, so I keep it with me all the time.

I created a file for documents pertaining to James before he was even born, but the papers still pile up as he grows.  If I'm not ready to file things away yet, I'll at least put everything in a basket together so that it's contained until I can get to it.  

Then I just sort it into his files, which I currently keep on his bathroom counter.

This file is from Target, but I added a piece of scrapbook paper to the inside and some stickers to make it more fun.

I hope sharing how we deal with some of the paper in our house helps you in your own home!

SPRING Cleaning & Organizing {Home Management Notebook & Daily Agenda}

Just like the beginning of the new year encourages us to turn over a new leaf, Spring ushers in a desire to freshen up, declutter, and get organized.  I think it has to do with warmer and longer days, and a need for simplicity so we can enjoy those days more, without all the "stuff" weighing us down. 

As most of you know, I'm naturally pretty organized, but work and baby and life in general always has a way of interfering with my best plans to STAY organized and clutter-free.  Every so often, I need to take stock of my home and pair down, and put in some extra elbow grease to get things squeaky-clean and aired out.

This week, I'll be showing you how I organize our dreaded paper clutter and kitchen drawers; as well as my "deep clean" Fridays; and my Home Management Notebook & Daily Agenda.
The idea behind the Home Management Notebook is that you have a handy place for your most-referenced and important items and an accessible list of "to-do's" {the Daily Agenda}.  I have to say, so far I'm loving it!  I got the idea from Simple Mom, and tailored it to fit the needs of my family.  I spent the better part of Saturday morning creating mine, after purchasing an inexpensive 3-ring binder to contain it all.  A cute sticker makes it monogramed:)

First I determined how many separate lists I seem to have going at any one time, and then compiled a separate section for each one in my notebook.  I also finally took all the miscellaneous scrap pieces of paper and entered the information I needed into my computer too.

For me, the things I need quick access to, and therefore, created tabs for are: 

Also, I'm keeping a list of "go to" recipes in the front pocket because I need all the help I can get when it comes to cooking- especially now that I'm responsible for feeding a baby.  These are meals I know how to make and know my family likes.

I can already tell the "Gift" tab is going to be a life-saver.  I love sending cards and gifts for birthdays, but those dates always seem to sneak up on me.  I downloaded a free Perpetual calendar and have been working on filling it in, making sure to include anniversaries and holidays like Mother's Day and Father's Day.  I like that this calendar has all the months on one page (as long as you have room for all the dates you need to account for).  I plan to jot gift ideas here too so I'm not scrambling at the last minute.

And my

The "Top 3" are the things I really want to accomplish that day.  On a day I work, it may only be, cook dinner and get to bed early!  

The "Weekly Goals" are a list of things I'd like to accomplish that week, which might include part of a project I'm working on, taking James to the park, or a list of errands.

"Dinner" forces me to consider what we're going to eat that night, even if it's leftovers or takeout.  I try to cook dinner about 3-4 times a week.

"Go/Buy" is my list of where I need to go and what I need at that particular place (not counting the grocery store).  Love this!  For example, on Friday, the list had:
  • Ikea- high chair (Thanks Cassie!)
  • Aaron Brothers- frames for bedroom
  • Staples- notebook
  • Target- birthday cards 
"Call" reminds me of people I need to call, or appointments I need to make.

The "Blog/Photograph" space is for specific blog posts for that week and things I need to photograph for each post.

THANK YOU to Tsh (SimpleMom) for inspiring this idea for me!

My Home Management Notebook now has a permanent spot on my kitchen counter for quick reference.

I'll be back tomorrow showing you how I handle the paper clutter in our home!

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