Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

For many of us, school has already started and the hectic craziness of homework, school sports and carpool has already begun. And now the "official" end of summer is upon us. Labor Day weekend. 

For those high society fashion snobs, this is the last weekend to wear white and seersucker. And for millions of sports enthusiasts, this is the kick-off to the NFL and college football season. Grover Cleveland signed Labor Day into law as an official US holiday in 1894. So do as this day was intended. 

Take one last nap in a hammock.

Pack a picnic lunch.

Enjoy that last summer read.

For me it's also a time to reflect on the craziness of summer. 
Family vacations. Lazy days at the lake. Trips to the zoo.

And, of course, the mishaps along the way (that are just now starting to seem funny).  Yes, it was mommy that ran over the bike:)

So spend a little QT with the family and RELAX! You've earned it!

Happy (Labor Free) Labor Day! {Erin}

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Plaid Revival

It's no surprise, really, that plaid has managed to re-emerge as a 2013 trending pattern. Plaid, or tartans, have been around since before the Scottish made them their national symbol in the late 17th century. And by the early 18th century it was even popular for Scottish Hylanders to mix different plaids together.

In the 19th century the British company Burberrytm was a favorite of the Royal family and earned Royal warrants. This gave them the rights to advertise their goods as official gear of the Royal family and army. Hence their flagship Burberrytm Check pattern is still a symbol of wealth and privilege.

Of course, we Americans decided to hijack the pomp and circumstance of this old world pattern and it became the banner cloth of grunge throughout the nineties. Nirvana. Pearl Jam. Stone Temple Pilots. The west coast grunge movement spread like wild fire. Before we knew it, high school and college kids everywhere were sporting stringy hair, perfectly tattered jeans and plaid flannels (at least one size too big).

By the late 1990s, the grunge movement had buried Kurt Cobain and (luckily) let the plaid flannels die with him.

In 1999, Brittany Spears briefly revived the pattern in her "Baby One More Time" music video.
via: Fan Pop

But the sex appeal of the plaid Catholic school-girl jumper was quickly countered by the comedic relief of Molly Shannon (aka Mary Katherine Gallagher) on Saturday Night Live.

Hello 2013! Taking a page from those Scots, the fashion runways are bursting with plaid on plaid.

And as runway fashions are so often translated into home fashion, 2013 looks like the year of plaid.  Enjoy and Haste Ye Back! (which in Scottish means Return Soon!) And don't worry, this is not your grandma's plaid. . 

via: Pinterest

Elle Decor via Pinterest

via: Pinterest 

via: Pinterest

 Martha Stewart Home Design via Pinterest

Casa Sugar via: Pinterest


Thursday, August 22, 2013

What Can I Say, Neurotic Behavior Runs in the Family. . .

When Laura and I started chatting about posts for this week, we both had our minds on organization and controlled craziness. I have always kicked myself for not adding a home office when we built our house seven years ago. For the first four years I kept our bills and mail in a nice little basket in our laundry room. But now that we have two kids in school, papers and mail flying in rapid fire and an actual calendar of events to track, I had to reorganize my kitchen (aka, the place that 90% of my life is lived!) and create a place that would make my calendar, bills and school papers easily accessible. We have a spare bedroom, but the thought of walking upstairs every time I want to look at something is daunting. I'm also not a fan of calendars and stacks of papers (or baskets of papers) on the kitchen counters.

Luckily, I have a fairly large pantry and decided I could dedicate a shelf or two as my "office". Here's the space pre-makeover.

When I decided I wanted to commit to the space long term I decided it needed a makeover. I started by taking everything out and moving the shelves up and down for optimal storage and leg room to sit.

BEWARE: This little exercise actually involves reorganizing your entire kitchen! 

Then I found some scrap wallpaper and decided to wallpaper the wall. 

To wallpaper, make sure your wall is clean. Measure your space and cut the paper accordingly. If you have to use more than one sheet for the width, make sure to marry your pattern up at the seams before cutting the second piece. Measure and mark the paper on the backside. I always hang wallpaper sheets left to right.  When you do this, remember to measure and mark the back of the second sheet from the right hand side so that you keep your pattern continuity. 

Then apply wallpaper paste with a paint brush or roller. I used this ULTRA Clear product that does not require you to prime the wall beforehand with certain types of wallpaper. 

Use a flat edge smoother to get any air bubbles out. 

And wipe any excess wallpaper paste off with a damp sponge. Wallpaper paste tends to yellow as it dries.

I already had the Pottery Barn Daily System installed, but decided to designate each bin to one of my kids for homework, permission slips and school handouts. 

P.S. The Daily System is now on SALE at Pottery Barn!

The result: An organized and vibrant space!

Happy Organizing! {Erin}

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back To School, Time to Get Your Sh$%T Together Moms!!

I am a person who craves routine! I also like to play hard and have fun... the perfect storm for brewing a crazed lunatic, I know! I can very quickly forget about school and all the routine that it requires  and enjoy the freedom of summer. But, come back to school time and all my anxiety as a former student come back to haunt me and I wake up in the middle of the night being chased by a math book holding a knife! To keep my anxiety in check and more importantly to not make my kids neurotic head cases, I need the routine part to be nailed down. Last year before school started I planned a space for homework papers, shoes and book bags in our sun room. This has literally saved my life! I knew that my system of magnet clipping loose papers to return to school on the fridge was not going to be a good system for two kids in grade school so I needed order. Here is what we came up with. You can read about how it was built in more detail on my post from last year

The calendar that you see on the left hand side is a dry erase calendar for school days. I created it using a Hobby Lobby Frame and paint color chips from the paint store. It is an easy check for what is due at school for the week and what practices or school events the kids have going on. It helps them keep organized and plan out their week. 

I also tend to be more lax in the summertime when it comes to chore charts and reward systems for keeping their responsibilities on track. I do think they work and now that my kids are older and the chores can really benefit the whole order of the house, I'm all for trying out new ideas! I found this one and liked the idea of giving kids the option to choose their poison when it comes to jobs. 

I think you could go a step further and add a monetary amount for completing each job with the bigger jobs holding more value. Then at the end of the week you could "pay out" their earnings based on which sticks were in their mason jars for the tasks they completed. Kinda makes it interesting and introduces allowance in a fun way. 

I saw these magnet boards on Etsy at "More Than A Memory" where the magnets had monetary value and then they get moved to each kid's metal board. This would work too!!

For me, as a pen and paper girl, I am always on the quest for the perfect planner. I think I found one that is just customized enough to fit all my "mombligations" without having to succumb to technology for my to do list. Enter Plum Paper Designs on Etsy! They allow you to customize the planner in various ways but I will show you how I did mine as an example. 

You can choose from so many cute designs on the cover and customize with your name or a photo. 

Easy turn tabs for the months of the year and she creates the calendar from the month you order, not the start of the year, so you can get organized anytime!

I love that she allows you to organize your day by customizing categories which helps to keep personal and family obligations straight on your calendar. For example, on my calendar I chose a "workouts" section to keep myself on track for what I need to do. I know that several examples included meal plan for the day which would also be a good way to stay on track. 

She also has wedding planners (this really could have blown my trapper keeper out of the water back in the day organizing my wedding!!), announcements, journals, gift tags and all sorts of other things to keep organized and be cute at the same time. 

At the end of this summer I made over a desk for my son's room. There comes a time in a boy's life when he needs a desk of is very own. I think this is the year! 3rd grade has come with threats of homework torture. So, this year was the time to shut my poor baby away in a quiet space to learn the hard fast lessons of homework and concentration!  This is the before, an old sewing desk found along side the street in suburbia...

And here she is after a little face lift. Details on how it was completed on this post. 

I came across this unique space saving desk solution on Pinterest and thought it was pretty cool. If your house is like mine, they don't make the bedrooms very big these days!! This would be a perfect solution. 

And of course if you have an extra closet to spare you can always make your desk in the closet like these great examples. These pretty much represent all the scenarios. The first example has closet doors removed, the second one keeps the doors and uses them as extra storage opportunity and the last example is a sliding closet door. 

I thought that the space below was a genius use of a otherwise wasted stairway landing for a quiet space to do homework! Don't you agree?! 

What about reading nooks for the kiddos?!? I love these spaces created in all different places in their rooms to encourage snuggling up with a book! These are all doable and would be fun makeovers for back to school time. If you have a window in your kid's room, consider a window seat! Love this one with the mounted light, pillows and bookcase below. Perfect!

Here we are using the empty closet idea again, this time for a reading nook and loft! So cute!!

 This one is a closet reading nook as well. I love using the side space in the closet as shelving for books. So cozy and cute!

And if you have neither a window or an extra closet to use then I love the idea of doing tented fabric for a cozy spot to read books! This could be done for either a boy or girl with the right fabric. Or you could use a more standard looking tepee for a little boy. 

Hope you all got some good ideas to kick off fall and back to school time! I know I need the push to get back on track and sometimes creating spaces for your kids to do activities independently can benefit the kids as well as parents. I think that's what they call win-win, yes?! 

Here's to not pulling my hair out this year:)!! Off to math homework... Ugh...

Cheers!! {Laura}

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