Sunday, November 28, 2010

Organizing the Kids - Toys Edition

**Be sure to enter my Clinton Kelly Giveaway HERE!!**

It's amazing how quickly toys can multiply. You buy one small set of Fisher Price Little People and the next thing you know, they've moved in their entire family, all of their friends and their weird cousin's traveling circus.  And when you're not looking, they travel... from one room to the next. Personally, I think the Matchbox cars are giving all the toys joy rides whenever us grownups turn our heads.

Or have you ever been walking casually across the living room only to suddenly be screaming out in mortal pain as Mr. Potato Head's eye stabs you in the foot? How about spraining your ankle on that plastic orange that just appeared on the floor out of nowhere? Or perhaps you've sat down on the wrong end of some miniature action figure from the latest Happy Meal? And don't get me started on the blocks... or the dishes... or the Barbies!
They're everywhere!!!

Well, with two young girls in our house, we are overwhelmed with toys. {Seriously, I don't know where they all come from!} So in a small effort to try and organize some of the chaos that is our playroom, I bought one of these when they were on sale at Target.

Closetmaid 8 Cube Organizer
Along with it, I bought 6 of these Fabric Drawers in different colors. 

Closetmaid Fabric Drawer
Now, any "normal" person probably would have left it at that and just ensured that the drawers were used. But, I'll admit it... I'm not "normal". I love to organize things. I reallllly love to organize things. Drives the Heela crazy. He's on the opposite end of the spectrum. For example, his filing system consists of something like this... "Oh here is an empty spot that I can shove this piece of paper in. There. Done. Oh is this the napkin drawer? Eh, that's ok." Drives me bonkers. But I digress...

Where was I? Oh yes, fabric cubes... In order to really make the storage system effective I figured the kids would need to know where the Little People or the blocks or the Barbies were. So I decided to label the cubes. But given that they were only 2 and 3-years old at the time, I knew that just using words wouldn't work. So I decided to add {pictures}!

I divided the toys into groups and then took photographs of each set.

Purses and Dress-Up
Little People

Baby Doll Clothes

After printing out the photos, I encased them in those self-laminating sheets to ensure they wouldn't get all mucked up by grubby little toddler hands. Then I attached each photo to a cube using self-stick velcro. That way, I can change out the contents of the cubes as their toys change and just replace the photo.

Self-Stick Velcro enables easy change out of photos when necessary
Lastly, I used my label maker to add the title of each cube so they (maybe!) could learn the words too.

Added labels to help associate words with pictures

Now the kids can find what they want easily AND they can clean up effectively too since they know exactly where these toys are supposed to go!!

Other toys are housed in plastic bins to the left of the unit - also labeled!

For the record, if you decide to use a standing unit like this (or have any furniture in your house that is tall and narrow) and you have young children, please please please be sure to attach the unit to the wall. I will admit that we had a quite a scare one afternoon when Boogey tried to pull Noah's Ark off that top shelf and the whole unit toppled over!! Thankfully, she somehow avoided being hit (or worse, crushed!) but it scared the bejeezes out of her - and me! That very night Heela attached the unit to the wall with one of those special safety straps. Please take my advice and spend the 5 bucks - it is worth it!

The girls actually like being self-sufficient so this system works great for them. And I love the little victory of semi-cleanliness and organization!!

This project has been submitted to The CSI Project: Organization Ideas Challenge


Linking this post to these parties (also see "Linky Parties" tab above):
Between Naps on the Porch
Polly Want a Crafter


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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Perfect time for {THANK YOUs}!!

I know I owe you some more craft/DIY projects, but (as I keep saying) I've been absolutely swamped at work and planning for SweetPea's birthday party on top of that. So I apologize for being project-less for a while now. But they're coming, I promise!

The party, I must say, was a total success and I will be posting all the details about it after the Thanksgiving holiday (when I'll finally be done with my work deliverable and will have a chance to breathe!). In the meantime, here is a pic of the SweetPea waiting for her friends to show up on Saturday.

The mask was a clearance find (from Joanns) and the shirt was purchased on sale (from Old Navy)
Yes, I am always cheap frugal!! :)

Before I sign off for the evening, I do, however, want to mention a couple of "yay me!" moments and send out BIG thank yous to a couple of folks.

First, I want to say {THANK YOU} to Krista over at While He Was Napping who recently awarded me the "Stylish Blogger Award". I am truly honored! There are a few requirements I am supposed to follow upon accepting the award, but due to my current time constraints, I am just going to say thank you and try to come back to those later.

Second, I want to thank The CSI Project and guest judge Amanda (from Our Humble A{Bowe}d) who selected my Master Bath Makeover as one of the Top 10 Projects from their Beautiful Bathrooms Challenge. I am so incredibly humbled to have my project selected, especially since some of the other "top 10" include Centstational Girl, House of Smiths and House of Hepworths - all longtime fave blogs of mine!! Wow, just wow!!


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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Holiday Cards 2010

Seasonal Chic 2010 Christmas 5x7 folded card
Shop for elegant Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.
So I finally ordered my Holiday Cards from Shutterfly. I used the 50 free cards code I got for my previous post (HERE) and combined that with a few other codes I found online (I love that they let you stack discount codes!). I ended up getting 80 personalized photo cards for only $24.80 shipped!! Squeee!! Love getting a good deal!!
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Birthday Party Prep

I have been CRAZY busy all week at work - it really is ridiculous! Guess that is why they pay me the big bucks. BWAH HA HA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

And in the evenings, I've been prepping for SweetPea's birthday party which is going to be tomorrow. Do you know what my sweet, precious, delicate, little flower asked for as a theme?



She is going through a major superhero phase these days - guess that is what happens when you hang out with boys all day at Pre-K. But, hey, if that is what she wants, that is what she gets. I'm doing everything myself and so far, so good.

I'll write a full post up about everything later, but here are a couple of sneak peeks...

OK, that is all you get for now! 


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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And the CSN Stores Gift Certificate Winner is...

OK, so I know I said I was going to do this on Wednesday, but I'm impatient! :) So without further ado....

It's time to announce the winner of the CSN Stores $35 Gift Certificate giveaway! YAY!

The Random Number Generator chose... #18

Which is... AndreaLeigh from My Chihuahua Bites who is a new follower!


I've sent you an email, so please contact me back so I can get you your gift certificate.

Thank you to everyone who entered! I really appreciate the support! 

And if you didn't win this one...

 I've got another giveaway coming up in a couple of weeks, so stick around! :)

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Metropolitan Cooking Show

I don't think I told you what the Heela gave to me for our 5-year wedding anniversary last month, did I? Well, it was two tickets to the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show!! He knows how much I love to watch the Food Network so he thought I would enjoy it - boy, was he right! The tickets were for yesterday so one of my good girlfriends and I made the metro ride into Downtown Washington DC bright and early to get started on our day 'o' fun!

The tickets included general admission to enter the Convention Center. Once inside we could visit more than 300 exhibitors, see live cooking demonstrations and participate in numerous cooking and entertaining workshops. We walked up and down the crowded aisles sampling along the way - everything form barbeque sauces, to flavored sea salts, to toffee and chocolates, to olive oils, to cheese and lots of other yummy choices. (sorry I don't have any pictures - it was just too crowded to get any decent shots!)

My gal pal and I decided to spend an extra $25 to gain access to the Beer, Wine and Spirits Pavillion where they gave us a commemorative glass in which we could taste over 75 different wines and beers. One of my favorites was a blood orange prosecco cocktail - yum! (I admit it... I went back to that booth twice! :)

But the highlight of our day was the fact that the Heela had also splurged and bought tickets to the ~Celebrity Theater~ which meant we got to go to a one-hour presentation by none other than...

Rachael Ray!!

And then, the Fabulous....

Paula Deen!!!


Rachael did a fun show and made three delicious looking meals. (but I have to say she didn't seem as "nice" in person as she does on TV.) (she also looked like she got a boob job! Or had on one fabulous cleavage maker!)

Paula's show was a blast - she was so much fun. But I have to tell you, she, personally, didn't cook anything! LOL. Apparently, this is pretty common and she even said herself ... "As y'all know, I'm notorious for not actually cooking at my cooking demonstrations". She brought her husband Michael (who is so cute and talked up a storm which surprised me because he never seems to talk much on her TV show) and an assistant and they were in the back doing all the cooking while she stood up front and just talked to the audience. It was almost like a stand-up comedy act! I was a little bummed that she didn't even tell us the ingredients of what they were making in the background, but it was still so much fun as she was a total crack-up!! (and let me tell you... she's got a dirty mind! And she shares it! Loved it!! :)

I exercised some pretty good restraint and only bought from one vendor - two jars of some spicy tomato sauce imported from Italy. I plan to use some for making a yummy homemade pizza and of course some on pasta. It was soooo tasty and I know the Heela will enjoy it since he loves all things spicy!

All in all, it was a great day - so much fun with lots of good food and drink! And Paula and Rachael to boot! (yes, now that I've seen them in person, I consider us to be on a first name basis LOL). Who could ask for more?! :) 

Here I am at the end of the day... exhausted, but happy!

Big thanks to the Heela for the tickets! You rock, babe!

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Shutterfly Holiday Photo Cards

Are you a fan of the photo holiday card? I sure am! From the very first year after SweetPea was born, I've been creating Photo Holiday Cards. I honestly enjoy the task of choosing the perfect photo(s) to represent the previous year and love sending off the finished product to our family and friends. I've used Shutterfly to do this twice and have been so pleased with them each time.

In 2006, I actually designed my layout in Photoshop since I was trying to combine SweetPea's birth announcement and our annual Holiday Card. But then I simply uploaded the file to Shutterfly to come up with this cute card. I was able to personalize the message inside too which was so easy! (and, yes, envelopes were included!)

2006 Holiday Card
(And, no, of course the black wasn't there on the real card!)

For 2008's card, I had to incorporate both kids. For those of you with more than one child, you know how much of a challenge it can be to get a good photo of everyone in the same pic. And let me tell you, it is really difficult when they are both under 2 years old! Since I didn't totally love the "together" pic I took, I decided to select a layout that would allow multiple photos. That way, I could use the "together" pic, but add a couple of "single" (and better) shots too. I loved the colors of this layout and also liked that it wasn't all "Christmasy" (we have friends on our card list who do not celebrate Christmas). Here is the final result:

2008 Holiday Card
Shutterfly really makes it easy to create your own photo card and has SOOOOOO many layouts to choose from. I took a "together" photograph of the girls just yesterday, but, once again, I'm not sure if it is strong enough to stand on its own. So I may have to go the collage route again. Here are a few from Shutterfly's 2010 collection {link} that have caught my eye...

Seasonal Chic 2010 (courtesy
Starry Snowflakes (Courtesy
Love Joy Peace (Courtesy

We'll see what I end up with! {I have to say that I just realized that all of those are brown-based! Same as what I did a couple of years ago. Gee, I'm not usually so predictable! LOL}

Shutterfly also has lots of other options to create with your photographs - photo books, posters, calendars, mugs.... the list goes on and on. You could knock out all of your photo gifts {link} in one place!

For example, I've created a photo calendar {link} of my girls the past two years and they enjoy giving it to their grandparents for Christmas - it is always a HUGE hit! 

2009 Calendar page

2010 Calendar page
I really can't speak highly enough of Shutterfly {link}. You really should check them out for your holiday needs this year!! I can't wait to create our 2010 cards!!

Legal Stuff - I am being compensated for this blog post in that I am receiving 50 free Shutterfly holiday cards for writing it; However, my opinions are my own.

**If you are a blogger and are interested in the possibility of receiving 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly, click HERE.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to my SweetPea

SweetPea is celebrating her 4th birthday today! I can't believe it! Seems like just yesterday we were here...

She was a huge baby! (and sorry for the grody belly button shot) - November 2006

*sigh* She's changed alot over the past few years...

Honoring her Daddy - July 2007

Broke her foot for Christmas at 2 years old - December 2008

Playing in Grandpa's Backyard - summer 2009

Cheeeez! - Easter 2010

I love that smile!! At the Kabin - July 2010

Happy Birthday my SweetPea - I love you so very much!!

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