February 29, 2012

Storing and Organizing Children's Artwork


I've been asked by a few readers how I store and organize my children's artwork.  I will share my own method at the bottom of this post, but first I want to show you some of the creative solutions I've seen around the web.

Tonya from Create-Celebrate-Explore had the brilliant idea of creating a photo book of her kid's art projects.  What I love about this idea is that it allows you to record large items and 3-d projects in a small amount of space.

via Create-Celebrate-Explore

Jen from A Thousand Words created a completely amazing duvet cover from her son's doodles.  This might be one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

via A Thousand Words

And Jen from I Heart Organizing created this filing system for her children's school papers, but it would work equally well to store artwork.

via I Heart Organizing

I ruthlessly edit our collection of masterpieces to consist only of the works that best reflect our life and my kids' current skills, then I mount those on a piece of cardstock in a page protector and display them in my scrapbook.  I make a little label that includes a title and the child's name and age.  In true Imperfect Homemaking fashion I'm showing you the most embarrassing drawing I could find: A drawing of me, when I was 8 months pregnant with the twins.



It's really quite an accurate portrayal....

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February 27, 2012

Reusing Activity Pages with Page Protectors


I use page protectors to make my children's activity pages, and even their school books, reusable.

As many of you know, I have 5 kids very close in age and we home school.  But this tip is useful even if you don't home school.


This year I purchased several pieces of curriculum from The Critical Thinking Co.  I love their products!  But their awesome full colour workbooks aren't cheap, and I may need to use each one five times in the next 5 years! 

I solved the problem by cutting the binding off each book and hole punching the pages to fit in a binder.  Each day, my kids do their worksheets in a plastic page protector using a dry erase marker or dry erase crayon.  I check their work, we erase it, and then I remove that page protector and slip tomorrow's page in.


I always know where we are at in the workbook because our next page is the one in the page protector.

To cut the binding off the book I used a retractable craft knife, a ruler, and some patience.  But I've heard that copy shops can sometimes cut bindings off books for a small fee.


This tip could be used for books of mazes, connect-the-dots, logic puzzles, or free activity sheets printed off the Internet.


If you are looking for some good free printable worksheets for young children, check out education.com




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February 24, 2012

{Recipe} Homemade Pita Bread (and Pita Chips too!)


Once you've tried homemade Pitas, you won't ever want to go back to the dry, brittle supermarket kind.  These pitas are moist, flavourful,and at least as versatile as a slice of bread.

My instructions are going to assume you have a decent stand mixer with a dough hook, but if you don't you could still totally do this by hand!

You will need:

1 cup of warm tap water
1 1/2 tsp quick-rise yeast
1 Tbsp Honey
1 tsp salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
Olive oil

1. Put the yeast and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer with a pinch of sugar. Let stand five minutes to let the yeast do it's yeasty thing.  It will begin to look something like this:


2. Add the Honey and salt and flour.


3. Mix with your dough hook until it all comes together as a smooth dough.  As with any bread recipe, the flour is approximate.  There are a number of variables that affect how much flour a bread needs and it will never be the same twice.

You will need a fairly solid dough, not too soft or sticky.  If you don't think you could make it into a ball and throw it across the room with any precision, it needs more flour.


4. Place your ball of dough on an oiled counter to rise for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.  Divide your dough into 6 pieces and roll each piece out to be about the size of a dessert plate.



6. Place on a greased cookie sheet and let sit for 15 minutes.


Yes, I know my cookie sheets are looking a little worse for wear.  But they still work, and I have far more important things to spend my money on.  Like throw pillows and salted caramel mochas....

7.  Bake for 5-6 minutes.  Yes, you read that right, these puppies bake up in just five minutes!

While in the oven something magical will happen and your pitas will puff up, forming pockets in the middle. (I know it is just steam.  But knowing that kinda steals the magically-ness of it, doesn't it?)



8. You're not done yet! To keep your pitas from turning into crackers you have to wrap them in a moist dish towel and let them rest for another 15 minutes. 




Ta-da!  Delicious easy thrifty pitas!


Wait?  Some of your pitas didn't magically pocket?  Or they only sorta kinda pocketed on one side?  That happens to me too.  One way to avoid that is to switch all the whole wheat flour out for white.  But I like the taste of the whole wheat, and any pitas that don't pocket I can just use to make mini pizzas, or pita chips!



To make pita chips: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut or tear pitas into bits.  Place on a cookie sheet and brush on some olive oil.


Sprinkle on some kosher salt and then bake for 5-6 minutes or until crispy!

I like serving these with hummus, a white bean dip, or my Cucumber Mango Salsa Recipe!

Confession: The first time I made pitas I was so scared about using my oven at 500 degrees that I got the fire extinguish out and kept it on the counter while they baked.


Confession #2: Above, in the first confession, when I said "the first time" I meant "the first hundred times".


This recipe was adapted from this cookbook:



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February 22, 2012

{Home Staging 101} Part 1: Laundry Rooms


{This is the first part in a series on staging a home for sale.}

My husband and I are preparing to sell the home we've lived in for most of our married life. And although we feel it is beautiful, we want to put our home's best foot forward by staging it for sale. Like getting your hair done for a big event, staging your home is getting it ready for all the prospective buyers who will be walking through the door.

I've partnered with Kym Tarr from Shoestring Homestaging to bring you tips on maximizing your home's appeal. Kym is a Professional Real Estate Stager, Certified Redesign & Staging Specialist as well as Qualified Colour Consultant & Interior Decorator.  And most importantly, she is a delightful person to work with!

  Not planning to sell soon? Don't worry, I'm also going to include tips along the way of simple improvements I wish I'd done before we decided to sell.  There are many home staging tips that can be applied to your home today to make it feel like a bigger, brighter and happier space.

Today we will focus on the changes we've made in our laundry room,and in the coming weeks there will be information on the transformation in other areas  of our home (as we complete them!)

BEFORE:

Here is what our laundry room looked like before Kym's help.  It was always a bright and beautiful space, but dark accents and too many items on display were making the room look small and busy.







Here are the things Kym suggested for this space:
  • We didn't want to repaint the space (Because it has been painted 5 times in 5 years!  You can read part of that story HERE) so Kym suggested that we at least paint the shelf behind the washer/dryer and the top of the half wall the same white shade as our trim.
  • She instructed me to remove some baskets and other items, to tuck necessities out of sight under the sink.  She also recommended that I remove all items from the sink and counter top.
  • She recommended that I exchange the gallery wall of family photos for one larger piece.  We chose to use a mirror we already had.
AFTER
Our cleaner, fresher, brighter laundry room!







Other things we did:
  • We replaced a damaged and ugly faucet.  Damaged items send the message that your home is a fixer-upper...NOT what we are going for!
  • We touched up the trim and ceiling paint.

I couldn't be happier with the results.   The space looks bigger, brighter and cleaner.

Kym's Take away points for staging YOUR Laundry room!   

***Laundry is a chore we all have to do, but when staging a laundry room we don't want to remind potential buyers of work or lack of storage. So keep this neat and organized for maximum appeal. 

***If the laundry area is in a dark corner of an unfinished basement, we want to discourage that “dark and dingy “ impression.  So brighten it up (simply by adding larger wattage bulbs), keep it clean and perhaps even decorate it slightly, with freshly folded towels placed on the dryer.  The important thing is that the laundry room to be as pleasant a room as possible!

Even if you aren't selling your house....
Here are a couple things I wish I'd done sooner:
  • Touching up trim and ceiling paint can have a huge effect on a rooms appearance. It isn't easy to see in the photographs, but my husband and I were blown away by how much fresher the room looked simply with a new coat of paint on the baseboards and door casings!  
  •  Put product labels out of sight.  There is nothing pretty about a jug of detergent or a bottle of window cleaner.  Keeping these things out of site hasn't really complicated my life at all but goes a long way towards diminishing visual clutter.  And best of all, it's FREE!
If you want to know more about Kym Tarr and her Home staging and interior redesign services, visit her website Shoestring Home Staging.   You can also follow Kym on Twitter and follow her boards on Pinterest.

Oh, and in case you're wondering how I manage to get my laundry room looking so nice and tidy with 5 kids in the house....here's a photo of what my living room looked like while I was decluttering the laundry room....


Yup.   The living room is next in line for staging, so check back soon!

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February 21, 2012

Super Easy No-Sew Pennant Banner


 A few of you asked about the pennant banner in yesterday's post about my wreath made from cupcake liners.

I originally made this banner last November for my oldest daughter's tea party birthday party.  It only took about 10 minutes to make and I have a feeling it will make an appearance at many girly birthday parties to come!

Here is my super simple, super imperfect way to make a pennant banner garland thingy.

You will need:
assorted fabric scraps
double sided craft tape
scissors
ribbon in the length you want your banner to be

Cut your triangles.  I cut my first one free hand and then use it as a template for all of the others.



Add a strip of double sided craft tape to the back of each triangle.


Remove paper off of the tape and stick the triangle to your length of ribbon.



Continue until your ribbon is full!  Now it should look something like this:



Of course, you don't have to use fabric scraps for this.  You could use scrapbook paper, book pages, anything you want!

I made one today using moss and burlap!


Is there anything more festive than a pennant banner?

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February 20, 2012

A Cheerful Wreath from Cupcake Liners


My 2nd oldest turned four this weekend and her party was loosely cupcake themed.  The night before, I whipped up a cute wreath using colourful paper cupcake liners.

I started with a foam wreath form, a lot of pretty cupcake liners, and some pins.


I turned the liners inside out so that the print was facing in, and then crumpled the bottom into soft folds to make a ruffle-y flowery shape.


And then pinned them to the wreath form.




After covering the wreath form in the scrunched liners, I filled in any bare spots with a mini cupcake liner pinned straight into the bare spot.



Voila!


Although this one was for a birthday party, I think it would  be cute as party of a spring or Easter vignette too!



Visit thecsiproject.com


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