Saturday, March 31, 2012

Clutter Hotspot #4 - Understair Closet Reveal

 Whew... I did it.  It was a busy and tough week, and I might've given up this project all-together, if I hadn't already started.  

From that tiny under-stair area, I filled 2 rooms with piles of stuff.  This closet has served as homeschool and game storage, in addition to acting as storage for items that others might store in a garage or basement, which we don't have.  

It would have been just as much work to stop and reload the closet than to continue.  I had to keep going...

Of course, there were downsides, like uncovering my old nemesis, the photos that still need to be organized and put into books.  And there were rabbit trails to follow, like researching what old financial paperwork needed to be saved, and which could be thrown out.  I still have a box to organize, but I was able to throw out a bigger boxful.  I found help with household records organization here.

It was also kind of a pain that to unload into the next room, I had to navigate around a door that opened  across the hall and doorway.  Oh, well...  I just hadn't planned ahead for this project!

This is where I started:                                                                                                                                      

Besides being able to navigate the closet, in general, my priority was to get the things we want to use most, in accessible locations.

I extracted the photos that were in books, or at least into pages, from the loose ones, and put them where we can reach and enjoy them out in the living area.

I'd been frustrated that with as many games as we own, the family never plays any.  Well, it sure would've been difficult, since they were in the back of the closet before.  Now they're in the front-most shelf.

The next shelf holds Prince CuddleBunny's wooden trains, Lincoln Log, and Wedgit sets.  These were piled on top of each other and behind many other things.  Now so accessible, I hope to see much more construction projects happening... And I'd bet siblings will want to join in, remembering past fun times with those toys.  Also,  this shelf holds our video camera, some drawers holding office supplies, and extension cords.

Art supplies are now collected in one location, and reachable.  Not particularly pretty, but a big improvement.

In the back and around the corner are the disorganized photos, construction materials, old toys, and old art projects.... Things we want to keep, but don't need to access often.

The Before and After next to each other:

Thanks again to Simple Mom who hosted Project Simplify 2012, and encouraged me to tend to 4 cluttery spots in our house.  Of course, it served to highlight more areas that could use such attention, so I hope I can keep up some weekly discipline and cut some of my frustration with drawers and cabinets that have become way too full.

Everyone's Week 4 decluttering projects can be found here.  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Not Just Yet...

Rattled nerves, dented confidence, explanations for the hurtful behavior of others or why accidents happen to the most careful and competent drivers... I don't have all the answers or all the solutions for my kids.  But I want to kiss it and make it all better!  Isn't that my job?  I want my children growing to be calm, content, and appreciate the blessings in their lives over the troubles.  When I see my kids want to fix everything by expecting to be strong while actually feeling overwhelmed and unable, I, in turn, want to fix all that by convincing them not to demand so much of themselves.  I'm probably not modeling what I'm trying to encourage...

Still hurting on behalf of my hurting offspring, I went upstairs last night and saw on the news that the flu is hitting late, and many kids are out of school in areas north of the Big City.  I was feeling relieved that our kids were finally healthy after a fluish winter and at least I don't have that on my plate... Then, this morning, Princess Artiste and Prince Go-for-It got up with chills, fever, and flu symptoms.  

It's not particularly uplifting, either, that our main living areas are cluttered with the understair clean-out project, but maybe completing it will be good medicine! --And I promise more positive posts soon!  


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

(Worries Over?) Wednesday

So... Burning beans was nothing compared to a badly cut hand and panicking prince.  ...And hearing Prince CuddleBunny say "I cut my hand," was slightly less traumatic than hearing Princess Sassy's shaky voice on the phone, saying "I crashed the car."

A photo from the first time one of our children called to say
there'd been an accident.  Thankfully, only bruises that time,
 and no injuries this time, in a much more minor mishap
I must quickly say that we have been greatly blessed on all counts, since the beans, of course, were not at all serious, or even a big financial loss, the youngest prince was not seriously injured and is mending nicely, and thankfully, thankfully, no one was injured in the car accident, and the vehicle is still drivable, although the bumper is a little mashed.  

Big lessons learned all around, but I hope this series of 'adventures' is concluded!

Also, I'm glad to report that the Oklahoma Princess is sounding more like herself, with a temperature finally in the 99s.   

Meanwhile, back in 'normal life,' I've yet to make any strides in cleaning out the understair closet (mentioned here) for the Friday or Saturday reveal for Project Simplify - 2012, so that's on the schedule for today.  

Also, I bought a dual-tumbler composter, so we can make better use of our large amounts of fruit and veggie scraps, while also improving our garden soil, which is a big need.  

I barely got it into the back seat of my 2-door car the other day at Costco, where it's been ever since... But I'll have to find my strength again and get it out, since I need to pick up kids from an early-out day at the high school.  Prince CuddleBunny has been dying to get that box open and build it, so maybe that can get started today, too.               

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sewing Room Put to Use... Easy Peasy!

I accepted the challenge from a fun and clever group of bloggers to join their latest endeavor... Mission Possible: The Last Tuesday Challenge.  These are the same bloggers who hosted Imagine the Impossibilities, which prompted the building and full completion of the very useful set of built-in bookshelves in our dining/homeschooling room.

The challenge for the last Tuesday of this month was "It's a Cinch: Easy Peasy Tips and Projects."  
the space between

I've been wanting to share this for awhile... It's a favorite quick sewing project and gift idea.

Prince CuddleBunny about 2 weeks ago...
Ok, it only seems like it to me!
When Princess Bossy was born, we were given a bib that had been made from a small hand towel.  It had had a hole cut in with ribbing around it, like a t-shirt neck.  It was so easy and quick to pull on and off, so was a favorite bib...  But its one layer was too thin and overall, it was kind of small, so I worked to create an improved version.  

Bigger and a little thicker, I found this bib design to work well for my kids well into the toddler/preschool years.  It was great in the car for slipping over their heads while they enjoyed a drink or snack, and it protected the seat belts as well as their clothing.  

I also sold them for a few years in children's boutiques and consignment shops.   For selling, I got a little fancier with lace trim, and even a tuxedo version for boys.  (I know it's unbloggerly not to have a photo, but I can't find one!) But it was the plainer versions that were most popular and they go together much quicker.  For the time and expense, I can give a new mom an extra bib, instead of doing the unnecessary trims.

When I sold bibs, I ordered full bolts of terry cloth fabric.  This is expensive and bulky to deal with.  In the last few years I discovered the ease and economy of using clearance sale bar towels.  Even more recently I found shop towels at Costco, 60 for under $20...So about 33 cents each.  Also, when we cleaned out my in-laws' house, there were lots of old towels in decent shape that no one else wanted, so I thought they'd make fun and colorful bib backs.  So, maybe Goodwill, or other thrift shopping, could be a good source.

For the fronts I use cotton print.  I'd previously tried poly/cotton blends when I fell in love with some fun prints, but that doesn't absorb as well.  Also, since the cotton terry cloth and all cotton fronts tend to keep shrinking a little over time, they stayed in good proportion to each other, while the poly/cotton fronts didn't do the same and ended up looking sloppy.

I started this project Sunday, wondering if it would fit in the 20-minute time limit for the Easy Peasy Project.  I knew it might take a little longer than usual, as I haven't sewn in awhile, and didn't have things as ready as I otherwise might.  (Plus, I had to take pictures.) But I got a snapshot of my phone clock, so I could keep track...

Pullover Baby/Toddler Bibs

It's a good idea to wash both fabrics before sewing, so the major shrinking is done and won't affect the bib later.

Inspired by the luscious quilt made by Allison
for her new baby girl at Cluck, Cluck Sew, I decided to
go girly pink for my grand-niece
Remove any selvages from the fabrics, or in the case of towels, any hems or trims.  

I had an old one to use as a pattern.  You can use
scissors, of course, but I find it easier and more
accurate to use my rotary cutter and quilt ruler
I generally cut the tops and bottoms at 14" x 18" so I can get 6 bib pieces out of a yard of fabric.  
3 out of half a yard.  1 for now, and 2 ready for next time

If you're using bar towels, you'll have to adjust the bib size to fit them. 

Fold is at the bottom in this
pic.  You might barely see
the corner cut at an angle
 on the bottom right

Cut one piece of ribbing, per bib, at 4" tall and 12" long/wide.  
I cut on the fold, so cut a doubled piece at 4" by 6", snipping a small notch at one side on the fold so the center is pre-marked for later.

Out of the bib tops, I cut a 5" in diameter hole, centered about 2" down from one end.  Again, I do this with the bib front folded in half and leave little notches for easier placement of the ribbing collar later.

Running the foot along the edge as seam guide.
Couldn't make just one!  So you'll see parts of
2 bibs in the photos.
With the right sides facing each other, I pin, then sew with the needle centered and the foot running along the edge of the fabric, 
for about a 3/8" seam allowance.  I sometimes use the serger, just barely cutting any from the edge, to leave the bib as large as possible.

Because the heft of the terry cloth makes turning out the square corners difficult, 
I either angle or round the outer corners on each bib.

Turn the bib right side out, through the 5" hole, pulling out the corners and making sure the bib is smoothed flat.  

At this point, you can pin around the outside edges for doing the top stitching, but I often don't, just straightening and smoothing with my hands as I sew.  
But I always pin around the neck hole, because it has a tendency to scoot as you maneuver the bib to sew around that circle.

Top stitch about 3/8 inch from the outside edges, 
Did you notice the kitty print is upside down?!  For that reason, this
bib piece has been left, unmade, for a few years.  I finally decided to make
it.  When the baby picks up the bib to look at it, they will be right side up
to her!

and machine baste around the neck hole, as close as possible to the cut edge.  You might want to use a narrow, but long zig-zag stitch here, so the hole isn't held too tightly when putting it on and off a child.

Always thought there should be
something cool to do with the
circles.  Haven't come up with it yet.

Now, finally, you can cut the terry cloth out of the 5" hole.

Fold the ribbing in half, right side in, and sew across the end, about 1/4" from the edge.  

Turn it right side out, and fold in half, lengthwise.

If you hadn't left little notches to help yourself when cutting the ribbing and neck hole, you can fold each in half now and make tiny clips to mark the top, bottom, and even sides of the neck hole, and center of each ribbing section.  

Right sides together, match the seam on the ribbing to the center back of the neck hole.  Next pin the center of the ribbing section to the bottom center of the neck hole, and do the centers of the sides similarly.

Using a shallow zig-zag stitch to allow stretching, stretch the ribbing as you sew, to match the fabric around the neck hole.  Finish that seam allowance with a wider zig-zag or with a serger.

Press all, and done!                                                                                                                                                     

Now... How long did that take...                                                                                                                                                                                                


No, the sewing did not take 6 hours, but I don't have the exact number of minutes.  Prince CuddleBunny decided to cut his own banana bread so as not to interrupt me that morning, holding the partial loaf in his hand, cutting toward that hand... so cut into the base of his index finger with our very sharp bread knife.  So after a near fainting spell and major panic (him, not me), off to Urgent Care we ran to get him glued back together.                                                                                                                           

My guess is that a bib might take me half an hour... So it doesn't suit the 20 minute limit.  However, if I get a few going at once, assembly-line fashion, I'm certain I could do three in an hour... So, ta-dah! 20 minutes each.  :-)

I am also excited that I FINALLY have something to share for Sew Cute Tuesday at The Creative Itch

Creative Itch

And happy to celebrate the return of One Project Closer's link party at their new site, "The Better Half."

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's What I Get

Princess Bossy called from a state very far away in a sad state of illness.  With a 103 degree temperature, to be exact.  Her second day of fever, and her first of many being under the weather, I'm pretty sure, as it sounds like a big case of the flu.  When she was in college in the Big City an hour away, I could drive over, bundle her up, and bring her home to the couch.  Not with her in Oklahoma.  And on a weekend Prince Helium was out of town, too.  I got off the phone and my mommy-heart was broken.

I went upstairs to take a shower.  Everyone else in the house had taken one before me, so mine was cold.  And the room was cold to exit into, besides.  Bad medicine for the mood.

Much of the family had rushed out of the house to various activities... leaving tasks undone, and the house cluttery in their wake.  I wasn't happy about dealing with the cleanup... AGAIN... especially for those who had made promises, but ran late, and ran out on those assurances instead.

I was having a bad, sad day, and sat down at the computer to write a quippy (whiny) Facebook status, and complain by email to a couple of mom friends I knew would understand the aggravation I was feeling.

Wallowing in my own self-pity, and giving it this undue time, I only made my own day worse.  Prince Stoic was coming home for a long awaited visit (that day only), and had requested Mexican Chicken Slop for dinner.  So I'd started a HUGE pot of beans the day before, anticipating serving my unfried, refried beans to the honored guest, and having plenty left over to freeze and feed hungry snackers for the next week or two.  My 16-quart pot was almost 3/4 full of soaked beans.  

I had rinsed them, added water until the beans were just covered, and set them on the stove to simmer the day away.  But it was the water that simmered away, unnoticed, while I sat at my griping email.  I got up to find a blackened pot with a crispy layer of blackened beans stuck to the bottom.  I tried to save the un-black ones, which was most of the potfull, but they all smelled awful, and I was sure they'd taste terrible, too.  
It wasn't worth it to add more ingredients to try to make something out of what would still end up to be garbage.  There was no time to start over.  Not that he really cared, but I knew my son was perfectly capable of opening a can of refried beans at his apartment in the Big City.... I'd wanted to give him better.

Now today, after 2 days of soaking it in baking soda water, I'm still faced with this, basically, self-imposed "punishment."

I'm somewhat over-dramatizing being hard on myself for straying from the path of thankfulness and PAYING ATTENTION... But there definitely are consequences to things like that sometimes!  ;-)

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