Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Organizing a Wasted Corner into a Reading Nook

I like to be organized. Contrary to popular belief in my family, I am NOT always organized. Is anybody? If there is someone out there who always has it together, who never accumulates messy piles of paper and doesn't know what a junk drawer looks like, I apologize now. We have nothing in common and we can't be friends.

It's true. I am a bit of a neat freak, but my children are doing an admirable job helping me kick the habit. While they have managed to chip away at my desire to constantly straighten things and purge everything not in immediate use, they have not removed my desire for general order. To the contrary, they have reinforced it! With chaotic little tornadoes about, it has become even more important to have an appropriate place for things. Otherwise we tend to lose it, break it, trip on it, or forget about it. None of which are good options.

So behold the latest area in our home that has sunk into the black hole I call clutter and disfunctionality:

The corner of my bedroom. Isn't it lovely? Not really. For the last two years, it  has been the catchall for a revolving pile of junk. As soon as I get stuff cleared out of it, it becomes the most convenient spot for the latest thing I don't know what to do with. Here it is again in an improved state.

One kitchen chair, a fan, a bag destined for donation drop-off, and an unused curtain rod. Not bad, but I knew that if I didn't give this corner a purpose it would just end up as my junk corner again.  So, since I am a big fan of cozy chairs and books, I decided that this corner would be better served as a reading nook. What do you think?

Isn't it lovely? Does it make you ridiculously happy just looking at it? Am I the only one who gets a thrill out of turning a wasted corner into a useful space? Possibly, but I think not. You know what makes me even more giddy? That this reading corner is set up to accommodate both actual books and magazines as well as the electronic sort. *Sigh* But more on that another time. Right now, let us bask in the glow of what was a mess and now is a sanctuary.  Organization is glorious. Maybe I can be friends with perfectly neat and organized people…

Monday, September 15, 2014

Paper Plate Masks and Using What You Got

paper plate mask
Today we are kicking it old school. Let me take you back, way, way back to your elementary days, the days when ordinary items were the craft supply of choice. Things like card board tubes, paper lunch sacks, and the humble paper plate, could hold hours of fun and creativity.  Those days can still be yours my friend.

Behold a chic version of a kid classic, made with only colored paper, Elmer's school glue, string, and a paper plate. Scissors are the only tool you really need, although I used some circle punches I had lying around. Please don't go buy a circle punch. They are handy, but the point of this craft is to USE WHAT YOU HAVE.

It is so easy to run to the store and buy more stuff, especially hobby/craft stuff. Trust me. I know. But unless you will use up what you are buying quickly or will use it repeatedly in the next year, forget about it. Resist. See if your kids don't have more fun making do with what's at home.

My kids had a blast helping fashion and fringe the paper feathers on the perimeter of this mask. They also helped me place and glue down pieces. Now they are feeling inspired by my "mom" mask and can't wait to make their own. The best part is that my kids are young enough, that they will probably spend hours pretending with their finished masks. Older kids might have fun using their masks for a party or halloween costume. Or maybe they could be part of the costuming for a kid directed play? The sky is really the limit.

If you want more awesome mask inspiration, check out MarthaStewart.com. My mask was inspired this mask I saw in the October 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. (I periodically check old magazines out at the library, especially as holidays approach. They offer tons of great ideas and inspire even more.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Painting the Front Door and Why Renters Should Care about Curb Appeal

We are renters and we count ourselves very fortunate to be in the lovely little ranch we are in now. It is just the perfect fit for us--a great yard, lovely neighbors, enough space, and even some room to grow. To top all that off, we have the best landlords! A renter's life doesn't get too much better (unless of course you have two bathrooms). However, the one thing that really could use more love is the curb appeal.

Ranch style houses aren't known for interesting architectural detail like a victorian or colonial. Ours is very plain and everything, except the lawn, is brown. Talk about drab. Here's a visual:

ranch house paint door

Pretty flat huh? And this is with plants. It used to be muddy brown dirt in that planting bed to match our muddy brown house.  I have been itching to break up all that brown for almost two years. The most renter-friendly solution? Paint the front door (provided your landlord will let you). What easier way to give your home a little punch? As a renter, I can't change the architecture, but a little paint is feasible and cost effective. So finally, I painted the front door. Want to see?

Paint front door green

Ta dah! Isn't it lovely? It isn't the bold red I was originally thinking as the husband vetoed that one, but it isn't brown either. (Insert satisfied smile here.) I am glad we went green because our landlords left the color choice up to us. (I told you they were the best.) Red might have been too much for them, but who doesn't love green? It's an easy color to live with.

There are lots of great door painting tutorials out there. I found perusing ones like this very helpful.

Next up on my curb appeal mission are the shutters. They are looking pitiful. Since our landlords are thinking about replacing the ancient windows it is the perfect time for the shutters to be resurrected from their dingy, faded existence.

Now to all of you out there who are thinking, "Why would you put all that effort and even some money into a house you don't own?" I say to you: this house is our home for now, even though we don't own it. I want to improve our neighborhood.  This is a way of giving back, to leave a place better than you found it.

We are the only rental on our end of the street and maybe the entire street. All our immediate neighbors have been working hard on improving their curb appeal. Why not join in? When you invest in your community and in your neighborhood, the emotional and social benefits far outweigh the costs. Besides, these little projects are a great opportunity for us to learn and prepare for homeownership.

I am grateful for our landlords. We haven't always had it so good. I know a lot of renters still don't have it this good. To the landlords of the world I shout, "Be cooler and take care of your properties!" Maybe then you'll get a green door too.

green door
We have got to do something about that light.
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