Make Mornings Manageable

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Can you believe it’s August?!? The smell of new notebooks and pencil shavings is in the air! My friends at Wayfair wanted to know how we make mornings manageable around here. To be honest, most mornings are chaotic at best. It’s a scramble to find matching shoes, backpacks and last night’s homework assignment. It’s not for the lack of trying. I really, really try to be organized. But it’s not my special talent. I do have a few key tricks that make our mornings a little less crazy. 

Wall HooksHooks:  My home is made up of an intricate system of hooks; that at least make me feel more organized. Each kid has a couple hooks in their closets so they can hang up coats and jackets without needing help to reach the closet rod. Plus, if it needs a hanger, you bet your buttons it’s gonna land on the floor. The hooks work like magic. And we can usually find our coats/jackets in the early morning scramble. (photo from Wayfair. Trust me, you do NOT want to see the inside of my kids’ closets.)

We also use hooks for backpacks. Each kid has one in the coat closet. Then they’re not running around looking under beds, or in the office for their casually-discarded backpack in the morning. Look on the hook. Works every time. Almost.

Snack Basket

The Snack Basket: We have a special thing in our pantry called “the snack basket.” I keep all the pre-packaged snacks in the basket. It keeps them from being scattered all over the floor or the pantry. And I can easily keep track of our snack inventory by looking in the basket. I’ve been fooled too many times by an empty box sitting on the shelf. My kids’ school requires that the kids bring a healthy snack for recess, since sometimes it can be a long time until lunch. So as we’re loading backpacks in the morning, the snack basket plays an important role. It’s also great for after school snacks. The kids know which snacks are allowed after school, so they’re not tearing into a bag of oreos. 

File Folders

The Important Paper Folder:  I keep a simple file folder in the kitchen with each kid’s name on it. When they bring home important papers from school (like special project instructions, flash cards, permission slips, etc.) they go directly into the folder. Then when it’s time to work on the science fair project, or pass off our sight words we know exactly where to find the corresponding paper. It’s a really simple, not-so-glamorous system, but it’s saved me hours of sifting through the piles of paper that come home every day. 

Late Notes

A Sense of Humor:  When all else fails, at least make the attendance clerk laugh. There are
going to be bad mornings. There are going to be days when your kindergartener cannot find ANYTHING to wear; or days when your carpool driver hit the snooze button a few too many times. It’s really hard to keep your cool when things don’t go as planned; but I’ve learned that if I freak out before school, my kids are more likely to have a rough day. So even on those rough days, if you can send them out the door with a smile, I’d call it a win! 

Here are a few more of my favorite Wayfair items that can help make mornings less crazy: Mornings-01

Desk | Alarm Clock | Wall Hooks | Wall File | Shoe Storage | Calendar | Bench | Bakset

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Patio Style

I’ve completely neglected our outdoor spaces this year. Every summer I think it’s going to be the year we makeover the patio…and then summer is over before we know it. This year is no exception. But then I saw this post at Arhaus, which inspired me to consider a patio makeover again. For reals this time. P.S. If you’re curious about Arhaus, be sure to check out their outdoor sectional sofas and sectional sofas for your home, along with some of their other products!

041516_outdoor_bal_harbour_sectionalNow back to my patio. It’s bad. Currently, we’ve got a giant trampoline on our patio, while the grass recovers from an incident with a waterslide/bounce house. But I dream of turning it into a fun little lounge area. It would be the perfect place to sit with some friends and some dessert. Or curl up with a cold drink and a good book after a long day. 

I know my dream patio changes every year; and that’s probably why I haven’t committed to making it happen just yet. But this one is my favorite patio design yet: 

Outdoor Living Space-01

I’d keep the accessories pretty neutral and simple with gray pillows and a rug. Plenty of seating is a must; as is a fire pit to add a little ambiance and warmth when the evenings get chilly. You need to make sure your guests have somewhere to put their drinks; so throw in a few little side tables. I’d also add the comfort of inside with a lightweight throw and some potted plants. I love outdoor glasses so broken glass isn’t an issue; and I’d make sure the puppy feels welcome outside, too, with a home of her own. 

Here’s a shopping guide for this year’s patio wish list: 

  1. Indoor/outdoor rug
  2. Medallion Pillow
  3. Teak sectional
  4. Turned-leg planters
  5. Side Table
  6. Fire Pit
  7. Beverage dispenser
  8. Striped Throw
  9. Outdoor glasses
  10. Coral pillow
  11. Dog house

We’ve probably got another 2-3 months of summer weather ahead of us, so maybe it’s not too late for my back yard, after all. 

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DIY Canvas Silhouettes

Canvas SilhouettesOne of my all-time favorite craft projects are these canvas silhouette paintings of my kids. I love to look back at them to see how those little profiles have changed over the years. I originally wrote that tutorial over on my old blog, so it’s time to bring it over here to my new online home. 

DIY Canvas Silhouettes

Here’s what you’ll need to make a silhouette canvas of your own:

  • blank canvas
  • two colors of acrylic paint
  • one adhesive vinyl sheet
  • foam paintbrush
  • a photo of your subject (in profile, obviously).
Let’s get to work!  
  1. Paint the canvas. This is the color that you want the actual silhouette to be. Even if you’re using white for the inside, I prefer to paint the whole canvas white (this seems silly considering the canvas is white to begin with. But if you need to touch up any blobby areas, painting the center white will ensure you don’t notice the touch-up paint. Give it PLENTY of time to dry. Maybe like overnight…just to be safe.
  2. Print the photo on regular printer paper.
  3. Trace around the silhouette with a black sharpie. This helps you see a clear outline of what to cut. And it makes it so you don’t get distracted by little wispy hairs or shadows, etc.
  4. Cut out the silhouette along the black sharpie line.
  5. Trace the outline of the image you just cut out onto the back side of the vinyl sheet. It’s a little annoying to trace it again, but using vinyl saves you a lot of touch-up painting in the end since it adheres firmly to the canvas. The first time I did this project, I used a label sheet. It started to slide around once it got wet with paint. It’s still doable with a label sheet; but your lines are way crisper with a vinyl sheet.
  6. Paint the canvas. This is the second color you’re using. In my case, this is always a bright, fun color. Wait till the paint dries.
  7. Paint a second coat (if desired). 
  8. Remove the vinyl.
  9. Admire your handiwork. And touch up any blobs if necessary. 

You can find step-by-step photos here. Someday, I’ll re-photograph the whole process…but for now, if you need visuals, enjoy a trip deep into my archives. 🙂

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Summer Art Projects for Kids

Last summer, I started a fun art project with my kids. We came up with a list of 50 easy, fun art projects all the kids would enjoy. We have most of the stuff for the art projects, so when we need a cure for Summer Boredom Syndrome, we pull out the art project list. (Get the printable list here!) And I’m back this summer to show you some of our favorite projects from the list.

Race Car Painting

Painting with race cars is quick and easy to throw together at a moment’s notice. Just grab some toy cars (it’s best if you can find some with different tire sizes/patterns), some craft paint (any type of acrylic paint works well and washes up easily, and some paper. 

Let the kids drive the cars around and see what they come up with! This is a project my kids ask to do all the time. 

Bouncy Ball Painting

Painting with bouncy balls is another one of our favorites. Can you tell I like to paint with toys? 😉 But my 10-year-old loves this project, too because it gets a little wild. We do this project outside on our picnic table; but the sidewalk or driveway would be perfect, too. Same thing here: acrylic craft paint is perfect. Grab some bouncy balls and a paper plate or two. Suqeeze the paint onto the paper plate and roll/dip the ball with paint. Then throw it at the paper. Somehow this activity always turns into a dodge the paint-bomb as well as creating a fun art project. If you did this with a roll of butcher or kraft paper, it would make a fun gift wrap for summer birthdays, too. 

Salt + Watercolor

And finally, we have salt paintings. This one is kind of like a fun science experiment and an art project at the same time. Start by drawing a picture with white school glue. Outlines work best. If you get a big puddle, it kind of turns into a blob. But you want a nice, thick line of glue. Next sprinkle the entire glue drawing with salt. I prefer coarse crystals; but table salt works great, too. While the glue is still wet, grab some watercolor paints and get to work! Load your brush with paint and water and gently touch it to the salt crystals. The salt pulls the water and paint right out of the brush and it spreads across the surface of the painting. Let the paintings dry overnight, and display them with pride! 

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