Learning each and every day

My quest to edify myself a bit every day

Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Memo Board

I’ve been on a board-making kick for the past few weeks. DH asked me where I got the idea to use picture frames as boards, rather than buying them premade. Honestly, I”m not sure that the idea came from one source. I’ve seen quite a few pics of picture frames being painted. I’ve seen other pics of frames being used for artwork or used to display nice fabric. I’m not sure that I’ve seen anyone using the actual glass from the frame as a writing surface. Maybe that was my innovation, maybe not. In any case, it’s working out really well.

The project for today was the memo board. I wanted a place where we could have an ongoing shopping list, a place to post general notes, a place to leave “hey, I went to XYZ place” notes for each other, and a place to hang my keys and wallet. Since the picture frame idea had been working so well, I decided to not mess up a good thing. Actually, truth be told, I did mess up. When I bought the frame for the menu board, I didn’t realize that the back had been stapled on in such a way that there was no way I was getting it off. I bought a different frame for the menu. Not wanting to waste the frame I’d already purchased, I then found another use for it, the memo board.

memo board

I did my usual trick of painting and then polyurethaning the frame. I bought some cork squares and glued two together. I wanted it to be thick enough that I could put a push pin in without it crashing into the glass. I centered that on the frame, then attached three command hooks along the bottom for my keys and such. The labels were made from . .. wait for it . . . . cereal boxes. I cut them up, then glued on some fabric. I used a glue stick, and then set it with an iron. Finally, I took a Sharpie and wrote the words. To be honest, I’m not thrilled with how the writing turned out. The Sharpie didn’t provide sharp lines, some of them sort of bled. But, it didn’t bother me enough to fix it, and the labels were easy enough to make that I can always redo them at a later time, if the spirit moves.

memo board closeup

Anyway, the board worked out really well, until the cork fell off of the glass. Apparently the sticky squares just weren’t sticky enough. No problem . . . I just hit the squares with some mega strong adhesive: E6000 (that is some seriously strong adhesive!). I’ll be surprised if the cork falls down again.

Another project crossed off of my list. The next one is a biggie, and I imagine it’s going to take me the better part of a week. Better get started, right?

Total time: 1.5 hours
Total cost: $15

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Menu Planning

Years ago, I started writing out weekly menus before going to the grocery store. I was actually at a friend’s house for lunch and saw a dry erase board on her fridge with what she was having for lunch and dinner the whole week. I thought it was a very clever idea. I generally only planned dinner, and lunch would just happen. Now that DH is working from home all the time, I have to make more food for lunch, (rather than just eating leftovers or mac n’ cheese or PB &J) so it’s easier to plan out lunch and dinner. I’d been using a dry erase board for quite a few years. It worked fine, but didn’t look nice and it was small so the writing was crowded. After creating a schedule board, I got inspired to do something similar for my menus. The process was the same: fine a picture frame, paint the frame yellow, draw lines on the underside of the glass, cover the cardboard with pretty fabric . . . voila, menu board.

Menu board

It is sooo much neater than what I had going on before! And, I have extra space on the side for the extras I like to make: special breads, granola, dessert, etc. I opted to number the days of the week rather than using the actual names. This way, I don’t feel like I”m tied to having beans on rice on Monday just because it says Monday on the board. So far, it’s working like a charm. I’m not squinting to try and read the tiny writing, I have space to write out all parts of the meal (entree, veggie, dessert), and everyone else can easily see what’s on the menu. This is good for the babes, because they can go and either request a particular meal for that day, or they can prepare themselves to not like the meal! =)

This came together so quickly: from start to finish, it only took me about 30 minutes!

Next up: the message board.

Total time: 30 minutes
Total cost: $6

Schedule revisited

Back in January, the babes and I came up with a new daily schedule and posted it on the fridge. The schedule worked really well . . . .until we moved at the beginning of March . . . and then it all went to pot. By the time we got all settled, it was May, and DH went on two business trips. Then it was June and I was busy planning a birthday party. Then it was July and we were gone for the whole month. After 5 months of complete disorder, I was ready to get back on schedule. But it wasn’t as simple as just using the old schedule. We made a few changes in the schedule and then made a whole new schedule board. The old one was fine, but it didn’t allow for changes, and it certainly isn’t going to match the command center setup. Sooo, of course, I had to make a new one.

I found an old picture frame at Goodwill and sponged the frame itself with yellow paint. I didn’t bother to prime the frame, so I did a quick coat of polyurethane. I’m pretty sure that’s not what polyurethane is for, but it worked! We glued fabric onto the cardboard backing to provide a nice background for the schedule. Then, the fun began, trying to find a permanent marker whose color matched the color scheme AND would show up on the glass. I settled on purple for the lines and a dark blue for the words. I had a small stroke of genius and drew the lines and wrote the headings on the underside of the glass. That way, when I want to change something, I don’t end up erasing the lines. (Erasing entails using a damp paper towel and a wee bit of elbow grease.) The frame had more space than I needed for the actual schedule, so I included a section at the bottom for “Things to do today”.

new schedule

A close up of the painting detail, since you can’t really see much in the terrible picture above. The house is so dark, with the kitchen having very little natural light, it’s nigh unto impossible to get a decent shot!
detail of schedule

This is actually the second week of doing the new schedule, but I can say that it went MUCH better yesterday (the first day that the schedule was posted). Even though not everyone in our family knows how to read yet, there’s something about having a tangible schedule to look at and refer to that really helped us stay on track. It wasn’t perfect, but I’m already feeling more organized in the day.

Next up, a menu planning board.

Total time: 1 hour
Total cost: $3

Laundry, dishes and paint

It’s been almost two months of silence here on my little blog. Have no fear, I have been busily working on organizational projects. If you recall from my last post, eons ago, I’m now to the “Man, this project is going to take FOREVER!” stage. The last week of June saw me feverishly working on repainting my desk. It was just a plain, old, ugly and cheapo desk. It needed help.

command center desk before

Not only that, since we are renting, I can’t paint the wall or the uninteresing cream-colored cabinets. So, painting the desk was the only option. I knew this would be a big project, but I don’t think I really had any idea how long it would take. I think I painted every day for an entire week! Fortunately, the weather mostly cooperated and the babes had fun hanging out in the front yard while I painted away.

The first step was to prime the desk. I used Zinsser oil-based primer, which claimed to stick to anything without needing sanding . . . .my kind of primer. The next step was to actually paint. I think I ended up doing 3 coats. Since the primer was white and the paint was dark, the white just kept showing through. So, three coats later, I was finally satisfied. The final step was to apply polyurethane to protect the finish. I managed to get six coats on before running out stamina and time. But, I met my goal of finishing before going on our trip. I wanted the polyurethane to cure for a good long time before putting it into use.

command center desk after

I’m not head over heels about how it turned out, but I do quite like it. I love the purple, the teal is only so-so. But, I was working with whatever mistint colors were available, and it’s much better than before. I think once the other pieces of the desk area get put in place, it’ll all come together . . .at least I hope it will!

ETA: I can’t believe I forgot to give a shoutout to my friend Deb! She had all sorts of great tips for how to re-paint furniture and let me ask her a billion questions! Thanks, Deb!!

Total cost: $36
Total time: 24 hours (not including drying time)

My other project sort of happened by accident . . it wasn’t something that I thought needed organizing. We just returned from a month long trip where we rented a 1000 sq foot two bedroom apartment that was 1.5 times smaller than the house we currently live in. It was a good exercise in figuring out what we do and don’t actually need and in being very efficient in how we used the space. Upon our return, the babes and I went through all of their toys and books and got rid of a box of books and two large trash bags of toys. (Yes, that is me that you see jumping up and down for joy!) I also managed to survive and entire month with no dishwasher. The last time I didn’t have a dishwasher, I thought I was going to lose my mind. It seemed like I was spending all of my time doing dishes. This time around, it seemed to work much better, and I think the reason is twofold: 1) the sink was small, so only a certain amount of dishes would fit 2)I washed dishes as they got dirty, so things didn’t seem to pile up as much. So what’s the take away lesson here? Do the dishes more often. My new plan is to not let the sink get full of dishes and to wash as I go. We’ll see if works out!

The other thing about the apartment was that the washer and dryer were down the hall. Generally when I do laundry, I have two baskets that I fill: one for DH and me, and one for the babes, with each babe getting one corner for their stuff. In my head, it makes it easier for DH when he’s putting things away. (I don’t actually know whether or not it makes a difference.) The hanging clothes get hung up on a rolling rack, organized by person. This wasn’t at all an option while in the apartment. So I ended up folding the clothing in the laundry room, and then carrying the hang-up stuff to the apartment and hanging it there. After about three weeks, I had an epiphany. Hanging the clothing in the apartment and putting it away right away took no more time than hanging it up and putting it on the clothing rack. This may seem totally obvious to all of you, but it just didn’t occur to me. I was quite sure that it would be an inefficient use of time to have to carry each load of laundry upstairs to hang it up rather than staying in one place.

Anyway, so I’ve revamped my laundry system. I’m still hanging things up on the rolling rack. But, instead of folding everything in the laundry room, I take it upstairs and fold it in one of the rooms and then put it away from there. It works like a dandy! Not only do I get to sit down while I’m folding the laundry, I can work with the babes to teach them how to put their laundry away neatly and the laundry gets put away in a timely fashion. (It’s hard for DH to find the time to put away 10 loads of laundry . . . if the babes are away, he’s playing with them, if they are asleep, well, then they are sleeping and their rooms aren’t available for laundry-put-awayage. It usually would take 2-4 days for the laundry to get put away, and I’d end up digging through baskets trying to find things.) This is a win-win for everyone.

Sooo, we are now a week bit more organized and efficient in the homemaking department! Hip hip hooray!

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