Archives For family room/office

I had the perfect plan in mind for the rolled paper flowers I made this weekend.

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Inspired by a wreath I’d seen at Target, I used hot glue to secure them to the closest thing I had on hand to a wreath form, a 6″ embroidery hoop (99 cents at any craft store).

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I glued them all around the outside of the circle, then filled in the inside.

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There were a few empty spots, so I made smaller flowers (using a 1/4 page instead of a 1/2) to fill in the gaps. If your wreath will be viewed from the side you might want to make several of these smaller flowers to line the edge, too).

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I hung it on the chalkboard at my desk using some string and a thumbtack.

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I love the contrast of matte black and warm white, especially during the cooler months.

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It’s such a sweet addition to a space where I spend a lot of time working on my blog and shop, not to mentioned playing with Jack just a few feet away. I had to add a filing cabinet next to the desk since Jack was getting into the open file cart I utilized for years and now the desk is scooched over to no longer be centered under the pegboard. It’s the little things like this that drive me slowly insane and I’m on the hunt for a smaller filing cabinet that will tuck under the desk.

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I hope you lovelies have a happy Thanksgiving if you’re here in the States, or just another wonderful day for those further afield. I’ll be taking the day off from posting tomorrow to spend time with family. I’m thankful for you!

Even at only 16 months Jack has amassed quite the collection of toys. I’d heard of parents using a rotation system even before I was pregnant and always thought it sounded so smart but never saw a reason to implement it until recently, when Jack seemed to begin losing interest in the baskets full of toys scattered around the house. If we handed him something specific to play with he would engage, but I guess he was overwhelmed by the selection. So one night after he was in bed Nick and I dumped all the smaller toys into a pile and divided them into three boxes, trying to keep the composition roughly equal (ex: each box has at least one musical instrument, some bowls and cups, a book, a toy phone, a ball, etc.). Then we took the contents of box #1 and divided it between two baskets in the office and dining room and put the other two boxes up for storage. There are way more toys in each box than it looks like and we still have another empty box, so I think this system would definitely work even for a house with several kids.

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I just used the chalkboard painted boxes that I already had for the expedit storage system in our office/playroom. These used to be overwhelming bins full of toys on the bottom, but now they’re up top and the bottom row is reorganized to be a little more accessible to Jack. The three baskets hold books, mega blocks, and some smaller wood blocks, and the fourth cube holds a special toy that isn’t cut out for living in a basket. The shallow basket to the right hold some of the smaller toys that are in rotation. I really want to do something to panel the back both to hide all the wires and to prevent toys from slipping back there. Maybe beadboard?

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He got the play tent for his birthday from my friend Cassie but wasn’t into at first.  I brought it back out and set it up the other day and he loves it. I’ll keep it out as long as it holds his interest, then put it away for a little while so it doesn’t get old. He’s also got his play table over there with an old laptop for him to pretend to work on.

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You can see here his basket of toys in the dining room. The playroom is on the other side of the house so this is a nice spot for him to play while I’m working in the kitchen (if he’s not getting into his favorite thing, the pots and pans). I used museum putty to secure some of the items on the shelves so they wouldn’t fall on him or get broken.

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And of course he still has the Montessori-style shelves in his bedroom. I am not one for having my house overrun by kids stuff so I think the key for both of us to be happy is to both limit the amount of toys that are available at any given time and to integrate their storage into the style of our home. He is so much more into his toys now that they aren’t all out all the time. When he gets tired of what’s available now I’ll rotate the boxes and it’ll be like a whole new collection of toys was delivered overnight! Do any of you with kids have any tips for storing and rotating toys? How about dealing with cranky toddlers? It looks like Jack is finally trying to drop to one nap a day and I’m so bummed.

Ages and ages ago I made this simple fabric shade for the door that leads from our office/playroom to front porch. It was tacked up with a couple of brass thumbtacks at the top and had a few stitches near the bottom to make it look like a roman shade. This was pre-baby. Now I have a toddler who loves to look out windows and the shade is looking like crap because he’s pulled on it so much.

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I got to thinking that we almost never use this door. We have literally maybe opened it once a year since we moved in, and the last time we opened it (to move the lockers in) it took several minutes just to get it unstuck from the frame. So if we so rarely use it as a door, why not just treat it like a window? I had this extra curtain rod that I’d hoped to use in the kitchen someday, but since I recently decided to do cafe curtains in the kitchen it was no longer necessary. I asked Nick to hang it up in the office for me and he was happy to oblige. Here he is putting on the final touches while on the phone with a friend from work. When we moved into our first place together he could hardly hammer a nail and now look at him–he’s multitasking! The hardware is an inch or two lower than I would have preferred but it’s no biggie.

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I stole some curtain panels from Jack’s room just to see how I liked it before making some more (almost all the curtains in my house are made using this technique–I still have half a bolt of white muslin stashed in one of those lockers you see below). I think I love it! At first I thought that the panels would definitely need to be hemmed but looking at the photo below they’re actually not so bad. These particular panels were always a little short in Jack’s room so I’ll probably just keep these here and make some new ones for him.

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I’ve been feeling frustrated lately because I could never seem to fit very much into the photos I was taking with my camera. I feel like a total idiot because as I was taking these photos I realized that I could adjust the lens to have a wider angle–how am I just figuring this out?!?! I must have accidentally adjusted it to be smaller at some point. Now I can’t wait to take new pictures of my dining room with the new setup! I can’t believe it took me so long to notice something so simple, but I’m glad that I did. Thanks for reading, y’all, and have a fabulous day!

A few weeks ago I rearranged some of the furniture in my office. moving this small end table to in front of the window. I got it on craigslist in 2011 for $35 and used it as a nightstand for a long time, but when I switched things around upstairs I moved it down here to go with the two small chairs as a play table for Jack (check out that link to see how far this room has come since last summer!). I actually really liked the wood tone of the table when it was upstairs, but the floors on this level are a slightly different shade and I felt like the floors + table clashed.

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I usually like to bring swatches home before deciding on a color, but I was feeling brazen so I picked a shade I plucked right from the display. I think motherhood has made me more decisive. The color I originally picked was Valspar’s Gala Gold, but the lady working the paint counter gave me a hard time about mixing a Valspar color with Olympic paint, so she helped me find a matching shade in the Olympic display and we were both happy. The color I went home with is Olympic Golden Glow (mixed with their premium/no-VOC paint in an eggshell finish). I painted most of it in the living room while watching TV with Nick after Jack was in bed. It took so many coats that I lost count but I spread the work out over a couple of nights so that I wouldn’t get annoyed (yeah, yeah, shoulda used primer, I know).

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At first I thought I might leave the top unfinished, but after a few coats I brought it into the office to see what I thought and the two-tone look was just not working for me.

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I used a brush on the base and sides and a small foam roller on the top, and despite having to apply eight thousand coats I still have at least half a quart of paint left. Sometime this week when I get a chance I’ll bring it outside and spray on a few coats of some protective enamel that I’ve used in the past.

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Here it is in its natural habitat:

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After Jack went down for his nap I cleaned up the room for some prettier shots that I can use to update my house tour page.

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I really have to thank the person who pointed out to me that the prior arrangement was not working as well as it could. Sometimes it’s hard to hear negative feedback and my first couple years in the trenches as a social worker were really difficult for me because I couldn’t handle all the criticism being slung my way by resistant and defensive clients. I didn’t realize at the time just how challenging my client population was–I thought it was just me. Those were some of the most difficult years of my life and they’re what inspired me to start this blog. I needed a creative outlet free from all the pressure and emotion that I felt at work. As hard as those years were, they helped me develop the valuable skill of being able to process criticism effectively. Whenever someone says something unpleasant to or about me I stop and evaluate whether I objectively think that it’s true (example: client yells at me for being so nosy when I ask her how her day was. This is hard for me to hear because I am, in fact, pretty nosy, but I was not being nosy in this instance so I chalk it up to her being defensive for some reason that it’s apparently my job to find out. Thank God I’m not working with teenagers anymore.). In this case, I stumbled across some folks discussing my blog on an internet message board. Some posters who seem to be frequent readers of this blog were saying some super sweet things about me (thanks y’all!) and others were saying that it’s just not their style (totally fair) or that certain things in my house looked a little “off” to them. This was valuable feedback for me, because it inspired me to look around a little more objectively to see whether I agreed. My home is a work in progress and there’s always room for improvement. I decided that, in fact, my little sewing desk would fit better at the end of the sofa and Jack would have more room to actually use his play table if it were in front of the window. This is so much better! So the moral of the story is twofold: 1) just because somebody says something about you doesn’t mean it’s true, so don’t take everything so personally, and 2) sometimes criticism can inspire you to change for the better, so don’t write it off right away.

Whew, I didn’t expect to get all Dr. Phil on y’all this Friday morning! Actually, in my professional opinion I think Dr. Phil’s a quack, but that’s just me. I hope y’all have a wonderful weekend and thanks as always for reading. You truly light up my life.