Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolutions of the Harried Housewife

It's New Year's Eve so everyone is saying that word: Res-o-lution. Of course, there is the obvious resolution, the "I'm going to lose weight" one. But I'm gonna skip over that and talk about my #1 goal for the year....Get and STAY organized!

I have two kids, a husband, two dogs and a full time job. If I don't stay on top of things, my world can collapse quickly! The weeks when I'm really on top of things and I've spent the weekend meal planning, laundry and wardrobe planning for the coming week, things run like clock work. I love that and my resolution is to have more weeks like that!

So for today's post, I thought I'd share some of the little things that make my life just a wee bit easier. Enjoy!

Let's start in the bathroom.....

For a long time bath toys were the bane of my existence. They drove me crazy! I tried various storage options. Most of them involved suction cup holders that would work temporarily. But one day this idea came to me:

A plastic bucket. I had this from Easter. It's the same size as an ice cream bucket.

Flip it over and drill or poke holes in the bottom.

Now you have a bucket of wet toys to perch in the corner of the tub that will drain on it's own.

This time of year seems to bring an abundance of coffee mugs in gift baskets from vendors and coworkers. I've put some of those mugs to use in the medicine cabinet with the kids toothpaste and brushes.

And also in the medicine cabinet a coffee mug or an old butter container can hold all those tubes and small bottles.

And in the tub, these Link-a-doos clip anywhere and are great for holding shower/bath accessories.

On to the kids rooms...

I discovered these jumbo, 2.5 gallon ziploc bags and I love them!

Perfect for the toys with lots of pieces! And the zipper top makes it kid-friendly. I put games, train sets, Lego sets.... I just seal them up and toss them into the toy box. Takes a little bit of training but the kids eventually start to cooperate and put the stuff back in the bags!

And don't forget the wipe boxes. Perfect for some toys too!

This last idea is a great one for the summer months. If you have kids in and out all day asking for drinks, doing this keeps the beverages coming quickly.

I used these snack containers. They are 9.5 oz each.

I put a cup of sugar and add a packet of kool-aid in the container.

Seal it up and tape the flavor to the top.

And I have Kool-aid ready to mix when the thirsty neighborhood invades my backyard.

These aren't life-changing ideas but I know, in my house, any shortcut helps!
I'd love to hear any household ideas/tips you have to share!

Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Door Draft Blocker

So I totally missed last week, but we were Oh-so-busy. I figured you were all, you'd forgive me. I actually had a very cute craft for last week, but just couldn't find the time to sit and blog about it, so I'm saving it for next year. :)

Today's idea came out of necessity. While we love the new house, we don't love the little draft that comes through the front door. This is how the husband has taken care of it:

Kind of creative...right? Yeah, so he asked me to come up with a nicer solution. So I looked around. There were some really creative door draft blockers (or whatever the name of this contraption is), there were dogs and snakes and other fun animals, but I'm a simple gal that likes the look of simplicity and also likes to make simple things so I just made this...
There's a perfectly good explanation for the white at the end of this door draft blocker thingy...but I'll explain later.

So, you will need fabric that is about 2-3 inches longer than the width of the door and at least 8 inches wide (the one shown at the bottom of my door was a 12 inch wide piece because there is a riser on the bottom of the door frame and the draft comes in above that so I needed a pretty big draft blocker).
You'll also need a sewing machine, needle and thread, scissors, a chopstick or pencil and a bag (or more) of kitty litter.

I've done it before with rice, but I read somewhere that if you did it with rice or beans, it would attract "pests" so one suggestion was kitty litter and it was cheap. It was $1.50 for this bag.

Cut your piece and then pin right sides together to form a long tube. You will sew down the long side and down one short side (you have to leave a side open to turn the tube around and fill it up). Please note that these pictures are of the first one I made where the fabric was 7 inches wide. After filling it up, I realized that it wasn't tall enough for the raised bottom of the door frame, so I had to cut a different tube that was from a piece of fabric 12 inches wide. So that's why these pictures the tube looks so skinny and the final one looks so fat!

I sewed a double stitch because in case one of the stitches came loose, I wanted a back up stitch so I didn't have kitty litter all over the place.
I used the chopstick to turn the tube right-side-out and also to poke out the corners so they are crisp.

Now it's time to fill it up. If you are like me, you didn't want to use your kitchen funnel to fill the tube up with kitty litter, so I cut the top off of a 2-liter bottle and used it to funnel the kitty litter in. I cut the bottom of the 2-liter bottle to use as the scooper as well.

When it's full you tuck in the edges and hand-sew it shut. I don't have a picture of this because I haven't hand-sewed mine yet. For my large and in charge draft blocker, one bag of kitty litter wasn't enough, so I just knotted the end until I can run to the store.

But for now, our rug is folded up and there is no drafty air coming in. And now that my sewing machine is out, I can fix all the clothing items that I said I would "get to" sometime.

And for those of you who were interested in what our christmas card display described in this post looked like this year, here it is:

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

You Better Watch Out!

What? Christmas is already over? Cover your ears then because I've got one more Christmas Idea. File this one away or better yet, take advantage of Christmas clearances happening right now!

I found a flaw in buying and wrapping presents early "so you can enjoy Christmas even better."

It leaves you available to browse blogs a few days before Christmas and happen upon an idea that you have to have. And because everything's all ready, you decide you can do it in time for this Christmas.

I came upon this idea at It's a bag for Santa to put presents in.

There always seems to be a dilemma of whether Santa should wrap his presents or let them sit out. I grew up with Santa having his glory out and ready for us. But as I read this post about Santa bags I decided that it would be a fun surprise to unveil Santa gifts (the ones that fit in there). So I decided to give it a try.

I thought I'd make them pretty much like pillow cases. But I wanted them to be special. So I got material to add each person's initial as well as a sash to tie them all up.

I started with a yard per person for the body of the case and 1/2 yard of coordinating material (all total, I bought 6 yards of the Christmas material and 2 yards of the coordinating material). How cute is my Christmas material? It's cookies with a bite taken out of them. Perfect for Santa!

I cut the main material into a yard each. I cut the red fabric into 6 inch strips (I cut it down the length of the two yards to make it long enough to tie a pretty bow).

I angled the sides of the sash. I cut different angles on either end.

I ironed the ends in to create finished edge. I then ironed the entire sash in half lengthwise (right sides together). I sewed the entire length of the sash (leaving the ends open). I then turned the sash right side out. After ironing it. I closed off the ends by sewing on the outside so you can see the stitching.

I then put the initial on the main body. I did this before sewing the case together. I found a font that I liked on word and enlarged it to the size I wanted. I then followed my WonderUnder instructions to put it on. I placed it about 1/3 from the bottom, centered on one side (the case was folded in half when I ironed it on). I then did a top stitch around the letter.

I then sewed the body together. Place right sides together and sew down the side and then bottom.

We placed these next to our stockings before going to bed on Christmas Eve and Santa placed them in front of the tree.

If you want something like this too, Christmas fabric is on clearance. OR, you can find an already made Christmas pillowcase on clearance and just make a sash. These turned out so great and I'm excited to make this a new family tradition.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time...

It is the most WoNdeRFuL time of the year: it's mid day. My kids are running around the house still in pajamas. Each room has marked territory that children actually live in this home. And my meals today have consisted of the treats people drop off. Dark Chocolate Peppermint Moose Munch anyone?

There is no room on my tables to craft today. Last night the Elf (on the kitchen chandelier instead of "the shelf") brought the kids sun catchers to paint. Today, the goal is to put together the gingerbread houses for decorating with the cousins tomorrow. I'm trying hot glue this year because no one ever eats the house and the hardest part of assembling the houses is holding it straight while the frosting dries. So I'm trying something new.

Today I thought I'd share some of my favorite things around the house during this time of year.

*** The first idea is the Santa picture display.

When my oldest was only six months old, we took her for her first experience of sitting on Santa's lap. I was hooked. Look at this picture. I adore this moment and had to make it a tradition.

As I decorate for Christmas, I take down all the family pictures that are framed and around the house and I replace them with the Santa pictures throughout the years. One of my favorite things to do is to stare at the pictures at night, after the munchkins are asleep, and wonder where the time has gone.

And I don't shy away from the crying pictures. In fact, they're my favorite.

I think I jinxed myself this year. My 13 month old daughter is a mommy only kind of girl. During our visit with Santa this year, I held her while the kids where letting Santa know what was on their most wanted list. When it was time for the picture, I told Santa, I don't mind crying pictures. She will probably cry. So don't stress about trying to make her happy. I think the crying pictures are sweet memories. So I placed my baby on his sleigh for the picture. Not only did she not cry, she smiled. I admit. I was a little disappointed. I assume this will be my last opportunity to have one of those moments.

*** My second idea to share is my Christmas Card display.

I have tried many different ways to share the great cards that fill our mailbox this time of year. I've tried attaching them to the garland on the stairs. I've tried attaching them to the garland around the room. I've tried taping them to the back of the door. The problem is, I start with good intentions and then fail at keeping up. So I came up with a different idea.

As the cards arrive, we place them in a Christmas tin on the dining room table. We are able to sort through them and look at all the pictures. At the end of the holiday, I then place them into a book. I buy an art pad at Michaels and cover the front in holiday paper. I make sure the year is on the cover. I always start the year's collection with our own Christmas card. I then glue the cards on the pages. We keep the books sitting on the dining room table. The kids love to look through them and see their friends and family and how they have changed throughout the years.

*** My third idea for the day are our Christmas books.

I shared during Halloween that I like to keep my Halloween stories packed up with my decorations. I do the same thing for my Christmas books. It is one of the boxes that the children are most eager for when we are setting up Christmas (and it usually keeps them entertained so I can focus on decking the halls "my way". ;) So when the books come out, we place them in a large basket by the fireplace in the family room. I keep a CD player there because we have a few stories that are on CD with the book. There are also a couple Santa hats in the back of the basket if one chooses to read with a Santa hat on. And I have a child friendly nativity that I keep in the basket. The kids love to choose Christmas stories to read for bedtime, but I also find them during the day sitting around the fireplace reading the Christmas stories.

Here's to a Wonderful Holiday Season!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Quick and Easy Gift Idea

If you're like me, you love this time of year and you love giving small gifts to the people you interact with daily and that you appreciate. can get overwhelming! Before you know it, you find yourself up to your eyeballs in candy and glue at 2:00 AM wondering what in the bleepity bleep you got yourself into!! So this year I resolved to keep it simple. When I was brainstorming gift ideas and found my mind wandering to big and grand ideas, I'd reel myself back in!

So here's my idea for co-workers, school workers, day care workers, neighbors, etc.

I started with a super easy cookie recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Cookies.

Mix up the dough as directed on the package. Roll into small balls and fill a mini muffin pan.

Bake as directed. Immediately after removing them from the oven, press a peanut butter cup down into the baked cookie.

Let them cool (you can put them out on a patio table or garage if it's 15 degrees out and it will speed up the process significantly!) And carefully remove them from the pan.

Meanwhile... I prepared the bags to put the cookies in. I found these colorful lunch bags at my local grocery store in the card and party aisle (Schnucks, if you're a Missourian!) They were only $.25 each! I wrapped the cookies in plastic wrap and dropped them into the bags.

And to close the bags...

I spray painted a bunch of clothespins. These are $.97 for a pack of 50 at Walmart!

I cut some scrapbook paper and modge podged it onto the clothespins.

After that dried I flipped them over and glued a small magnet onto them.

And once that was all dry, I sanded them a bit and rubbed a tiny bit of distress ink to give them some character. Then I clipped them onto the bag.

Now they have a bag full of goodies and a magnet clip for their fridge!

I have a bunch of these on my fridge and they are great for pictures, lists, coupons,artwork, etc!

Merry Christmas!!