Thursday, February 26, 2009

Project II: Nearing Completion

We're almost finished! Most of the decluttering is done and most of the work was actually done by my daughter. I was so surprised at some of the things she put in the give away pile. Then on Sunday, we moved the furniture around to make room for a desk and night stand. We will be shopping for those this weekend.

My daughter has been so excited about her room that all week she has put her dirty clothes in the laundry and made her bed (not exactly hospital corners and she likes to put the comforter crosswise, but I'll take it)! She's been spending lots more time in it, reading, playing and dancing. Her enthusiasm is a direct result of her having done so much of the work and decision making herself. Yes, I was there and supported her and helped her clean up, but she felt like it was her project. Did it take a long time? Yes. Was it occasionally frustrating and painful? Yes. Was I often tempted to do it for her quickly while she was at school? For sure. But, this payoff has definitely been worth the patience, and she's so proud of her accomplishment.

Once the desk and nightstand are added, we'll decide where to hang up the jewelry board and we're done. I think I'm pretty on track so far with one big project a month.

This is corner where we'll put the desk.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sucked in by Martha Stewart Again

That Martha, she's got some great looking projects. And she makes it look so easy. But, when I try to actually do one, I often find myself on a wild goose chase for some obscure craft product or spending more money on it than it would take to just buy the thing. Around Christmas time, I thought I'd make this cute snowman card for my godson. Alas, it was impossible to find white honeycomb paper anywhere. Not in craft stores, not on the web. I could only find yellow honeycomb paper, and no one wants to receive a yellow snowman.

I was going to make the jewelry board I saw on Real Simple for my daughter's room, which is very similar to a bulletin board I saw on our dear Martha's site. Both use Homasote as a base. Now, I don't need anything too big, and the projects shown were a reasonable size. However, Homasote is mostly used in construction to make walls, and I could only find it at Home Depot in one gigantic, whole wall size piece. On both Martha's and Real Simple's videos, the Homasote is already cut down. They don't show Martha wrestling with a wall size piece of Homasote, and I wasn't about to either. (FYI, it costs about $24.00.)

I decided a regular bulletin board would work just as well. I found a cute flower shaped one in pink, orange and yellow at our local Container Store on sale for $9.99 and the push pins were $4.99 for 100. I think it will do the trick for my daughter's jewelry and look cute, too.

So, I'm not going to get sucked in again. I'm going for the easy and obvious solution from now on, because I don't have Martha's minions or her sources. I did however, make her Roast Pork Loin recipe tonight and it was delicious.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Project II: So Proud of My Girl!

We were slowly chipping away at the books in my daughter's room, each discard an agonizing decision for her, when her school had a book sale and she came home with six books. And then, an author visited and she got another book. We discussed (for what seemed to me like the millionth time) how there's only so much space, and to make room for new books she had to give up some of her old books. Suddenly today, it was like the light went on. She went up to her room, sat in front of her book shelves, and within about an hour, she filled up four shopping bags with books. As she brought them out she said to me, "These are all books that are too young for me or that I've never really been interested in reading. Some I've had since I was born! Now I can put my new books on my shelf and there's even room for more." By George I think she's got it!

I have to admit there were a few in the pile that were a little sentimental to me, but there was no way I was going to discourage her in any way. So, I put them all in the shopping bags and tomorrow we will take them over to the library to donate to the book sale. She loves our local library and its annual book sale, so it'll be great for her to help out in a direct way.

Here's hoping (but not assuming) that she can apply the same lesson to the toys.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Small Bite of Clutter I

My goal for this year has been to take on one room at a time, one project at a time and really focus my energy on getting that room together. But since I'm working together with my daughter on her room, and she is in school most of the day, yesterday I decided to take on a small project that's been bothering me in my dining room.

I have a lovely little cupboard that overflowed with stationary and cards and had other miscellaneous junk on top. Sort, sort, sort, out went cards with no matching envelopes, boxes of stationary went into the give away pile (who needs that much paper when most correspondence is done by email?). I kept a selection of greeting cards, a box of thank you notes and a some blank cards for teacher and miscellaneous notes. Greeting cards went into an acordian file. I also decided that the stationary didn't belong in the dining room and to use the cupboard for things that actually get used in the dining room.

With all the paper significantly pared down, I could put it closer to where I use it... in another cupboard that needs to be sorted out. Funny how that works. But, I resisted the urge to immediately start sorting out that one, and went back to my original project. I put trivets, candlesticks, candles and the trivia games we play at dinner in the dining room cupboard. Much more logical and it looks so much better.



Total time: 1 hour
Total cost: $0.00

Now it's Saturday, the kids have this week off for February vacation, so it's back to focusing on my daughter's room.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Project II: Jewelry and Hair Do-Dads

I just love to watch those TV shows where they organize and re-decorate a whole house in a weekend. It's total fantasy - houseporn, if you will. And I have rationally set my goal as one year to get our house working efficiently for us. But still, a girl can dream, right?

Okay, I was not realistic about what we were going to get done this weekend. It turned out to be a much busier weekend than I expected, but I did learn how to pleat Chinese dumplings from the most adorable Chinese grandmother. She can do it in one motion, I'll need to do about a thousand more to get to that level, but I definitely improved and I don't need that little plastic dumpling maker anymore. Ha! another thing to purge.

We did manage to sort through all of my daughter's hair do-dads and jewelry. She had everything in an assortment of little jewelry boxes, one bigger jewelry box, and some little clear plastic totes. All those pony tail holders, barrettes, head bands, and scrunchies are now neatly stowed on the back of her closet door in a clear plastic jewelry holder. It is not quite as efficient as I would have liked, but it's working pretty well.

As for the jewelry, all the necklaces got terribly tangled in the jewelry boxes. After untangling everything and laying it all out, I did a little web surfing and found this great idea at Real Simple, Real Life. Using a fabric covered bulletin board, we can hang it all up. It's easy to see, easy to use and saves space on the flat surfaces and in the drawers. We'll cover the board with some fabric from my fabric stash (um, yeah, I'll be talking about that little problem in another project). Hey, a little project we can do together, that uses up some fabric and will make my little miss's life a little neater!

We made significant progress and celebrated Chinese New Year. I call that a successful weekend.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Project II: Slow Progress Being Made

My daughter and I are very s..l..o..w..l..y decluttering her room. We got rid of a bag of books, some old dress-up costumes, a few more bits and bobs. It is very hard for her, but I keep painting the picture of a nice room with desk and a little reading nook, and she's beginning to come around more. I've told her as soon as we get her room decluttered and cleaned up, we will shop for a desk.

The Animal Bag came and we fit almost all her stuffed animals in there. In fact, though I hate to admit it, she could probably fit more in there. The only ones that didn't go in were a few musical ones that were hard and a unicorn that had a plastic horn, not a good thing to sit on. And, she absolutely loves it! The zippers and netting seem very sturdy, so I'm think it will hold up well.

Her school this week had a book sale fund raiser for a sister school in Uganda, and she came home with six more books. This was a good time to have the "if you want to bring home new books, you have to get rid of some old books" discussion, though I was proud that she donated an extra dollar to the cause. We're still working on the less stuff concept.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Project II: The Stuffed Animal Problem

Cleaning up my daughter's clothing was easy. There wasn't a lot of sentiment involved, it either fit or it didn't, was winter or summer. Sorting through the rest of the content's of her room is proving much more difficult. Take stuffed animals. As I was hanging clothes up in her closet, I asked her to go through her stuffed animals and give away those that maybe someone else would love a little more. Like Paddington Bear. Paddington is not cuddly, he's rather big and very stiff and she was never that enthralled by the stories, nor had I ever seen her really play with him. So I mentioned that maybe Paddington could find a new home. When I turned around from the closet to look at her, there she was, holding on to poor Paddington for dear life, her big eyes filling with tears. "But I love all my animals, Mommy." Yeah, I'm a push over, though we did manage to toss the falling apart buffalo, and he was large.

As a parent, I've learned to pick my battles, and before pushing her further, I decided to surf the web for some stuffed animal storage/display ideas. I found three possibilities.

A toy hammock that you hang above the floor:
Pros: inexpensive, easy to just throw everything in there.
Cons: Not sure where I'd hang it in the room (sloping ceilings), and it's not that attractive.

The Zoo:
Pros: Seems to hold a lot, and yet keep them accessible.
Cons: Expensive and not that attractive, more of a jail than a zoo. Plus, I don't really want another piece of awkward furniture in the room.

There is a make yourself version for those with more ambition than me.

And The Animal Bag:

Pros: My daughter wants a cozy reading nook with a bean bag chair, could we could kill two birds with one stone?
Cons: Expensive, but I managed to find it on sale for $49.95 and free shipping.

My daughter really liked the animal bag idea, so I've ordered it. The deal is she cannot have more stuffed animals than can fit in there, except for her big teddy bear and penguin and, of course, Paddington. Fingers crossed it works out.

On to the next big space eater, books.