Christmas Craft Paper

I know I’ve said it before, but now more than ever do you need to heed this advice- use CRAFT PAPER for wrapping this time of year!

Go ahead and refer back to my post this summer about Consolidating with Craft Paper.

Craft Paper Dispensor

Please people, don’t fall prey to those gift bags at Michael’s or rolls of paper at Target just because you feel “ahead of the game” and you got the best Santa pattern.  Stay calm, and craft paper it!  Get the kids involved.  Threaten them by way of their Elf!  (by the way, if you are reading this and it’s dark outside, move it! The Elf that is)  I promise that you will have a much better result by way of the Earth and Economy!

Go here for supplies…The Stand by Crate and Barrel plus Paper by Crate and Barrel.  One stop shopping and 15% off of SHIPPING using coupon code SAVE15!

Tis’ the season!

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Creating a Family Drop Zone: How to Get it Done

As school begins, we start to get busy with homework and projects, but we are mostly busy with all of those after school activities.  You know what I am talking about.  PTA meetings, soccer practice, soccer games, flag football practice, flag football games, ballet, The Little Gym, and the list goes on!  Your leisurely summer schedule comes to an abrupt halt and the need for an organized after school schedule becomes imperative!  Since this is the first year that my little guy can actually participate in fun “after PRE-school” activities, and my daughter is in school all day, I have a new “game-on” time which is the 3:00 to 6:00 hours.  We need to pack those three hours with a little “homework,” fun outdoor activities, and a bunch of transporting and unbuckling of car and booster seats!

So, lately I have especially seen the need to create a sort of “command center” or “drop zone” in our home so that our whole family knows who is going where and who is doing what each day.  I also needed  a nice spot to place all of the items coming in and out of our home and make it look organized.  It’s the place where you put the lunch boxes, backpacks, shoes, papers, mail that you promise you are going to go through tomorrow.  I have been eyeing all of those cool “command centers” and luxurious entryways to homes in Pottery Barn and Pinterest.  Some have their own built in cubbies for each child, and some have awesome calendars, to-do lists, grocery lists, etc… all posted and displayed in the most organized and decorative way.  Let’s get real here…most people that I know don’t have that perfect spot in their home, so they are left to create one on a small wall or spot that may not be perfectly ideal.  That is my situation, and I decided to create my own drop zone in the most ideal spot in my home, which is actually my very small mud room/pantry/laundry room.  Let me begin by saying that even though I am a very organized person, I am not a very crafty person.  I do love a beautiful (and clean) home, but I am not going to create things from scratch and sit on my computer for an hour to make a pretty color-coded child calendar (although, I might like to do that if I had a lot more time on my hands and certainly if a client requested one).  Anyway, the thing is that you can get as fancy or go as simple as you want.    Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you to create your own command center.  But most importantly, if you add these 4 parts to your drop zone you will be well on your way to an organized school year:

1.  A spot for lunch boxes, backpacks, and shoes

2.  Calendar area

3.  Spot for papers for each child

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Photo Courtesy of Organize Magazine

Photo Courtesy of Organize Magazine

You can add as many things as you want to your drop zone/command center.  This last picture is of my simple but functional command center.   I also added my children’s chore charts and used some little Command hooks to tie some burlap and use clothes pins to display their artwork that comes home.  Notice there is a trash can there as well (which is where most of the artwork goes…not all, but most…Shhh! ) after it has been properly displayed for a nice period of time.

My simple drop zone

My simple drop zone

Back to School Already?

Believe it or not, the start of school is just around the corner.  Being a former teacher and school librarian, I get so excited about the start of school.  Since my daughter is starting kindergarten in August, this is the first year that I actually get to buy school supplies for one of my own.  I am such a nerd and bought all of her new kindergarten supplies in June.  Lesson learned though, I did spend a small fortune and will wait for sales and tax free shopping next go round!

So, before you start stressing about back to school shopping and getting those supplies in order, lets be sure to get the kids’ rooms in order!  Whether your kids are in kindergarten or in college, you don’t want your kiddos to start school with a cluttered and messy room, do you?

Maybe you are fortunate enough to have your kids in camp this week?  If not, just make it a fun project you can do together and get rolling!!!!

Here’s what you need to do:

1.  Organizing doesn’t have to involve a lot of money spent on products.  Whatever you do, don’t go out and buy a bunch of organizing products.  It will just add more clutter and cause you some unnecessary trips back to the store.

2.  Get rid of all of those small toys, stuffed animals, or whatever it is, that you really don’t need or your kids don’t play with anymore.  If your kiddo has a hard time saying goodbye to things, take this time to give a lesson on repurposing and giving to those left fortunate.  I know I have written this before, but one of my favorite Berenstain Bears books when I was little was the Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room.  I just loved when they cleaned up their rooms and ended up with all of those organized and labeled bins for their toys!  If your kids are young, read them that or Room Enough for Daisy, which is a picture book that teaches kids valuable life lessons like how living with less can benefit an individual and a community.  It also teaches them to appreciate what they have and that more is not always better.

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3.  Separate like items and decide what you want to use to containerize.  This is the part where you can go shopping and it doesn’t have to be expensive.  They have tons of bins at The Dollar Store or you can go crazy and buy $50 beautiful bins at Restoration Hardware….the choice is yours!  I have found that it is easier to use products with an open top so you can just throw things in rather than using products with a closed lid.  For example, in my case, I have several cute pink baskets in my daughter’s room….one for mini fairies and princesses, Barbies in another basket, Strawberry Shortcake in another basket, etc… We actually have a separate little plastic four drawer container for American Girl accessories and clothes.  Be sure to label your baskets with a cute tag or you can even use pictures for little ones. Just remember that everything in the room should have a spot and those things always go in that spot.  If there isn’t a spot for something, it often also helps to have one big bin or tub for all of those random toys that don’t fit into a certain category…sort of like your kids “junk drawer.”  Check out our previous post on favorite products for toy “organization” for more ideas.  If you have too many toys and things around, get a big plastic tub with a lid and put the toys in there.  Stick that tub in the back of a closet and “rotate” the toys every month or so.  That way you don’t have too many things out and causing clutter all at once.

4.  You don’t need to save every little project from camp this summer and school last year.  I keep one archival box for each school year (I use the Stockholm Document box from The Container Store) and keep the art projects and other keepsakes in that box.  If it gets too full, it is time to go back through and reevaluate what to keep.  Arts and crafts are another whole post that we are going to revise and revisit soon, but for some ideas, check out our previous post on art storage.

Stockholm Boxes

5.  Start going through clothes that your child has outgrown.  Be thinking about the awesome sale Charleston Repeats that will be held in September.  Go ahead and register now so you are ensured a spot as a consigner!  I swear by this sale…make a lot of money every time I do it.  It takes some work, but it pays off in the end.  You can also sell those toys and other items you are purging at the sale!

Remember, our goal is to help you reduce clutter and keep things simple.  The less clutter you have around, the easier it is to clean and keep up with, thus reducing your stress and allowing for a happy momma!

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It’s Summertime. Do you know where your beach toys are?

The Fourth of July has come and gone, but what remains are the memories of surviving one of the year’s most intense beach days ever! If you are like so many other families you had the pleasure of schlepping not … Continue reading

Consolidate with Craft Paper!

After recently helping a client  with her mudroom and having to create space for gift wrap, I was reminded of a great resource that helps you rid your house of so many unwanted and costly items.

Believe it or not, it’s CRAFT PAPER!  I could seriously write a book about the 100 uses of craft paper, but for the sake time, I will share with you my top 3 uses.

1.  GIFT WRAP– It is great for gift wrap.  You can stop hoarding those tacky gift bags and annoying sheets of tissue paper that are balled up in some box somewhere…I know you are proud of your collection, but it is so much more fun to give a gift using craft paper and add a simple ribbon or raffia.  I have my kids decorate the paper for their friends’ birthday presents, which gives it so much more meaning.  And when I realize I’ve run out of their cute gift tags by Bon Vivant I can scribble the “To & From” right on the paper.  You can also use it to wrap fresh flowers using the same decorating effect.

2.  KID ART– I always knew that kids were going to be expensive, but I didn’t know that approximately 1.2% of the budget was going to dedicated to owning a vast collection of coloring books.  We have jumbo pads, Melissa & Doug coloring pads and every single Disney character themed coloring book on the market!  And there they sit piled on top of each other with their pages half colored and ripped and stuck together all of which are deemed unusable by my 4 year old.  If there is even so much as a water droplet on a page it is trash in her mind.  So, we use craft paper. I cut only what is needed at the time.  Waste not want not.  And honestly, I have found that children are way more creative when given a blank sheet of paper than with a color by number of Strawberry Shortcake.  And when she is lacking direction, I put a vase of flowers in front her or a car in front of my son.  So fun to see their interpretation of things.

3.  TABLE COVERINGS– This ties back to #2.  I use it for all of the kids’ parties.  Instead of buying cheap table cloths or worse, have them ruin my nice ones with paint and fruit punch, I use craft paper.  You can dress it up with art work to coincide with a themed party or write on it the directions to a craft they might be doing.  I also use it as a tablecloth for the kids’ table during holiday meals.  For example, during Thanksgiving last year I used one of those cone thingys that holds gourds as the Crayon holder and the kids kept busy by playing tick-tac-toe and drawing pictures as we waited and waited and waited for the turkey.

I suggest that you keep a healthy supply on hand seeing as there are multiple uses for this trusty product.  I recommend buying a 36″ roll of white or natural paper,  which gives you about 1000 ft. to work with.  

craft paper

And to make things even easier, go ahead and spring for the convenient paper cutter (also in the matching size of 36″).  The cutter is great

because it keeps it contained and easily accessible.

Craft Paper Dispensor

Plus, think of all the money you’ll save once you stop buying all of the other products that you have just eliminated!  Go ahead, click and buy! I know you love the idea!  What are your favorite uses for craft paper? Let us know!

Google Calendar for Busy Families

If you are having a hard time keeping track of who is going where and who is doing what in your family, you may want to give Google Calendar a try.  All you have to do is create a free … Continue reading

Favorites for Toy “Organization”

It is a small miracle that I got this written this week, but I am really trying with my New Years Resolutions!

I am sure that many other parents with little kids have the same problem that I do in regards to keeping kids toys organized.  I have tried and tried to keep my daughter’s toys organized, but  after a few months, different toys often end up in the wrong bins.  It drives me crazy!  I have come up with a semi-organized solution which is just all little dolls, fairies, mini princess, etc. in one basket, picnic and tea set stuff in one basket, jewelry things in one basket, and all just random little “stuff” in another basket.  Honestly, I could probably just toss that basket, but I may keep it another year or so and then dump it.  🙂 American Girl stuff of course has its own labeled 3 drawer plastic bin 🙂 In a sense, all of that is sort of organized, but what do I do with the rest of her “stuff” that she likes to play with?  I have decided the easiest thing for my sanity is to just use big baskets or bins and keep the extra toys in there.  It makes clean up soooo much easier and the mess is out of the way.  I think (and hope) that when you have little kids, it is one of the most difficult and hardest times in your life, so it really is a challenge to get organized and stay that way.  So, just do what is easy and what works!  Oh, for my little boy who turned 3 this week, I haven’t gotten to the point of organizing his toys.  We just throw everything in a big basket from Target that is in his room.  It works, and I am going to keep it that way for my sanity; although, about once every 6 months I will do a purge of the bin and give away things they no longer play with and make room for new toys.

Here are some options that I love for toy organization:

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I love the Expedit bookcase from Ikea. You can make it tall and skinny if you want or stack individual cubes on top of each other. There are so many options! I love how this girl labeled the baskets with pictures inside a photo frame. That makes putting up toys so much easier for the little guys!

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Restoration Hardware has a ton of beautiful canvas baskets and they are all on sale right now!

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Serena and Lily has a ton of cute baskets in different colors and styles.

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These canvas bins are great for toys from See Jane Work!

Teach Your Kids a Lesson

I don’t know about you, but when I start going through one of my toy decluttering rampages my kids freak out!  They hate to get rid of their toys…even ones they never use.  Try reading one of these picture books to your kids  and maybe it will help make the process a little easier!

This post is from the children’s librarian side of me  🙂   Happy organizing!

This picture book teaches kids valuable life lessons like how living with less can benefit an individual and a community.  It also teaches them to appreciate what they have and that more is not always better.  Such an awesome book!

This classic was always my favorite Berenstain Bears book!  I got so excited when they organized all of those toys into bins with labels..I am truly a nerd!

In this fresh take on a classic tale, a magic meat grinder helps a poor Jewish couple learn a little gratitude after the three wishes it grants them go awry. A cautionary story that questions today’s consumerism and excessiveness, Kishka for Koppel, like the best folktales, can help children and adults alike to look both beyond and within.