Tuesday and Thursday mornings I am home in the mornings before teaching a class at the community college in the afternoons. Often this means I am scrubbing down the kitchen sink, cleaning the counters, and wiping down the fridge (our new-ish stainless steel fridge is my cleaning nemesis). I used to always microwave the sponges we have to keep them clean, but the boiling hot water coming out of them was tricky and if you waited for it to cool, it kind of defeated the purpose of cleaning it.
This summer I came up with a super fancy sponge cleaner. Vinegar in a squeeze bottle from Target. I squeeze out the sponges really well, fill them with vinegar and let them sit for awhile...done.
I love to check the Timehop app for a few seconds in the morning to see what happened on this date in years past. It just reminded me about this washi tape discovery from back in 2012. Coincidentally it was just a couple of days ago that I tried my next new favorite use of washi tape...file folder labels. I got the idea from IHeart Organizing...along with the need for my first new label maker in over a dozen years (the cute font choices sucked me in).
Looking back through the archives, it was almost five years ago that I discovered washi tape and I am still majorly in love.
I am shamefully terrible about reading books. I skim a heck of a lot of stuff to prep for classes and that is about it.
However I am really, really good at reading magazines. Or at least quickly flipping through them. Pretty pictures, house stuff, crafts, recipes and seasons? I am there.
For the last couple of years I have been reading magazines on my iPad and for the last several months I have relied on the Next Issue app instead of having a bunch of different subscriptions. It's not cheap, but I read enough to get my money's worth.
The best part is saving ideas. Back in the day I would store binders stuffed with pages I had torn out from magazines. Now I just take a screen shot of the page and organize the images into albums.
Thought I'd share my magazine reading method...in case you are as good as I am at reading them.
Woke up with a headache which meant twenty minutes with an icepack. Trimmed flowers in the backyard. An afternoon at my desk...heck, pretty much every afternoon at my desk. Concert in the park...chicken bacon ranch salad and half of a hard raspberry cider.
There are not a lot of summer days left, so I really want to savor the little details.
A nice and neat house is ridiculously important to me, so you can only imagine Sean's surprise when he came home from work yesterday to find me in my craft room happily splattering tiny watercolor droplets all over paper with no regard for the carpet below. Not sure how I came to the decision that making a mess was a good idea, but it sure was fun.
Using butterfly fabric to put together little administrative professional's day gifts for the Sociology department. Rearranging various household supplies since we finally painted an old locker from Mac's room that has a new home in our entryway...so happy to have cute new storage. And then cranking out three dozen cheerleading banquet invitations as fast as we possible can.
It'll be a little extra busy around here, but a week that includes reorganizing and crafting doesn't sound too bad to me.
I have a big glass jar that holds blank note cards. I rarely send these, because most people know that I am pretty crafted obsessed and I always worried that they would think, "Why didn't she make me a card?"
Finally today I realized this is pretty ridiculous...who really cares if the cute card that arrives in their mailbox is homemade or not? So I dug into the jar to send off a thank you note to a friend that had us over for dinner last weekend and send a little letter to catch up with another friend.
I figured by the time I stuck on address labels, postage stamps and, of course, a little washi tape to seal the back there was an acceptable level of cuteness.
I often consider the details to be incredibly important and I usually manage to enjoy the most inane bits of whatever I am working on.
This weekend I worked on an overhaul of my resume. Or since I am in higher education I get to say "Curriculum Vitae", which sounds way more fun until you actually have to spend time on the darn thing. Font size, spacing, wording, margins, headers and footers changed pretty much thousands of times.
And I figured out that is way too much detail, even for me.
My small space has had a few little items added over the last couple of weeks. There's something about the change in season's that always has me wanting to fix things up.
At the end of 2011 I did a summary of the best loved details from the year. Thankfully, 2012 was filled with many more...
So thankful for all the big and small things 2012 brought to our family...all we could ask for is an equally wonderful 2013.
I was switching out purses last week and decided to share how I organize mine. I have my wallet, my phone and three little bags.
One bag holds various supplies...
The second bag is more like a little first aid/hygiene kit...
And the third bag holds what I might need for errands...
Do you carry a roll of washi tape along, or is that just me? It actually has come in handy to have a little roll of tape...and it might as well be cute.
So in case I am missing anything, what's the handiest supply you keep in your purse?
We decorated this bathroom in 2004 when we had an eight year and were getting ready for a second child. I decided on a gender neutral Americana theme and Mac didn't argue since he had yet to form opinions on much.
Today we have a sixteen year old who has strong opinions on everything, but he was kind to his mom when it came to redecorating this bathroom and let me get away with my "let's have an orange bathroom" idea...
Even the light switch wasn't safe from a coat of orange paint.
And the last orange detail was a little print I made for Mac with a saying I've seen in numerous Etsy shops. It went into this frame.
If you need a little orange in your bathroom (or anywhere else in your house) you can print out your own copy from here...Download Awesome 4x6 Print.
This whole social media phenomenon facinates me. I have always liked Twitter well enough, but remain skeptical of Facebook. For some reason I struggle with the fact that I can know random things like what someone, whom I haven't seen since third grade, decided to have for breakfast.
Ultimately I always get sucked in by images, so I like that Instagram gets right to the point. And today I liked it even more since it gave me a peek into what a good time Mac is having at cheer camp through the photos he shared.
So what about you...what's your favorite? Is there anyone you following on Instagram that you absolutely love?
Tonight we went to our first concert in the park of the season with my mom and brother. Sitting outside with music and food is one of my very favorite parts of the summer. I concocted a chopped cobb salad sandwich for dinner and was super happy when it received votes of approval. For dessert, Sean baked the cookies we tried for the first time last summer. I am pretty sure he has cranked out the recipe 27 times in the past year. What's frightening is I don't think that's actually too much of an exaggeration.
Sean's district had to give the teacher's a furlough day towards the end of the school year to help with budget cuts. We dropped the graduation party invites at the post office, went to lunch and spent a little time on the beach, then I made a scrapbook layout when I should have been grading papers or researching for my last lecture next week. It is far from the ideal way to have a day off, but we were still grateful for a little time together.
I won't begin to bore you with the amount of schoolwork I have to do this week, but between a graduate project draft and prepping to lecture all next week, let's just say it's a lot.
If only somehow I could turn this in as a Sociological "project".
This was our hodge-podge mantle decor for January (the "Peace on Earth" print is from Angela Hardison)...an attempted homage to our nonexistent winter. Now I'm trying to find some good lovey-dovey ideas to add to last year's decor. So far I'm thinking a love canvas and/or quickly learning to cross stitch. Have you seen any good ideas lately?
We have been so darn lucky to have this break. Although I don't start back at school for a little bit, Mac went back last week and Sean goes back tomorrow. Over break we had time to clean out kitchen cabinets. We were able to get out on a long walk most nights. And, of course, work on a few little house projects. We had time to find a new favorite television show and even see a movie. Usually I have unreasonable expectations of what we can do with the time we have, but in my attempt to lighten up I will think about what we did accomplish instead of what we didn't get to...after all there's always spring break.
I always embrace a fresh start...a new week...a new page on the calendar...a new season...and a new year. This year I have fallen hook, line and sinker for the concept of dedicating a year to a single word. I had a word in mind, but it hadn't really inspired me yet. Then I skimmed through other's words and found the slight adjustment to what I had in mind. This resonated with me...
It's time to lighten up. Literally of course (who's not going to try to lose weight this year?), but especially figuratively. I need to lighten up. I need to lighten my expectations and free myself up to appreciate every good moment and not perseverate too much on the lousy ones. I am well trained in carrying around worry and stress. With a soon-to-be new high school student and a teaching job search in our future in 2012, I could really weigh myself down with panic. Lightening up means trying to feel the confidence and trust our little family deserves. I love the simplicity and focus one little word can have for so much of our 2012 and I cannot wait to start lightening everything around here.
After digging through twelve months of archived blog posts tonight, I have been thoroughly reminded that this past year has been very good to me. Here are some of my favorites bits and memories from 2011...
I feel incredibly fortunate to get to share so many of the big and little details of our family's life...thanks for being here for all of these 2011 memories. Happy New Year!
I have loved the idea of white serving ware for years, but have never gotten around to collecting any. My mom asked for Christmas lists from each of us a few weeks ago and I basically gave her a wedding registry...
How did life ever exist before our cell phones took decent photos? I guess it did, but man we did not record so many of the random details we can easily capture now. Over the weekend I looked through the last month or so on my phone and decided to gather a bunch of the little memories into one place...
1. First time for Facetime with Mac 2. New phones and covers 3. Does the chalkboard fit there? Not really. 4. Rainy days always make me happy.
1. A bag of dollar coins...our go-to teenager birthday gift. 2. A tray of leftovers Sean took to school to share from our three parties in 24 hours weekend. 3. Anyone need a school photo of Mr. Griffin? 4. Making apple cider with a coffee filter filled with mulling spices and sewn into a packet.
1. Mac on the field at Angel's Stadium during Caleb's Autism Walk. 2. Love when a postage stamp matches what I'm mailing. 3. Sean multitasking: checking basketball on the ESPN app while watching Mac's karate class. 4. Starting cranberry sauce for our annual Friendsgiving dinner last weekend.
1. The first tangerine from a tree we planted last spring. 2. Paddington snuggled on the cute fleece pajama pants my sister surprised me with recently. 3. A rainbow of 31 Bits bracelets. 4. Hot tea and the last Notre Dame home football game while working on schoolwork.
I've taken 1,837 photos on my phone since 2009. Thankfully they're backed up on our hard drive, but I love that I can have all these little life details in the palm of my hand. So how many photos do you have on your phone?
I changed around the mantle a little last week to fill it a little more with fall now that it actually feels that way around here. I also added the light-up pumpkins I had to have last year...
Unlike when I first decorated the mantle in September it was finally chilly enough to turn on the fireplace this past week...I love this time of year.
Does anyone love switching to a new calendar month as much as I do?
Tearing off a page of my huge calendar to reveal a new month always makes me very happy. Cloudy morning also make me very happy until I want to take a picture, but here is November ready to go...
I'm already thinking of next year's calendar and seeing some of the choices pop up recently on Paper Crave has me dreaming of one of these...
Which involved Sean carving the two leftover pumpkins from Friday night and me sitting there watching.
He was stumped for designs this year so I requested a chevron pattern. Sean's pumpkin is on the left, Mac's is in the middle and "mine" is the best one.
I mentioned last year that the Halloween lights are starting to compete with the level of Christmas lights in this house. I think there's really few things better than a room lit up by twinkling lights.
And yes, there a seven pumpkins lined up on our dining room table...we're getting ready for Mac's carving party on Friday night. I have one of his Halloween crafts to share tomorrow.
Do you enjoy inane details? Do you have the compulsion to try to make the most random of items a littler cuter?
Well, if so, this is the blog post for you.
I have used Avery NoteTabs in my organizer for over a year. And while they are really handy for quickly turning to the current week, they are not anywhere near as cute as I would like them to be. That is until last week when it finally occurred to me to cover them up in patterned paper...
I covered the side with the adhesive so I could stick them to the back of the page I need to flip to.
Granted this is not particularly innovative, but it does makes flipping to my to-do list a little more cheerful.
So excited that it officially starts today...although admittedly I've been burning fall scented candles for a couple of weeks. Love making combinations in this votive holder...yesterday was macintosh apple, cinnamon sugar and caramel.
Hope you get to enjoy something cozy & fall-ish this weekend too.
I signed up last month to write thirty lists in September. I thought it'd be a little something crafty I could do as I'm buried alive by statistics and gender theory. For each day's prompt I plan on just grabbing a scrap of paper or maybe typing something up if I get ambitious. Then I'll stick them all in a little book when I'm done.
Here's the first list...a few September goals complete with my favorite check-boxes...
Here's more information if you want to join in too.
When it comes to our house I've had what people would probably identify as questionable taste. I will hang chalkboards, want colorful squares or huge rectangles painted on the wall or move bedroom furniture into the dining room.
I've definitely had some crazy ideas, but I'm pretty sure the craziest came this past weekend in our bedroom. This image has been tucked into my head for months and then I saw this on Flickr on Friday morning. Within minutes I was tearing into vintage dictionaries, unfolding a map from 1976, gathering some old wallpaper pieces and various other scraps I've collected...even some of our family photo-strips. While I was digging around for items I also decided the few packs of vintage buttons that I've never had the heart to use up had to be on the wall too.
That's when the staple gun came out and Sean really thought I'd lost my mind. He teased that we were apparently 16 years old again and hanging random stuff up on the wall...he insisted he wanted his old Lakers posters included too. He was not a believer in this whole project up until Sunday afternoon when I asked him to help me tear out dictionary pages. Then he was all about the definitions and just how tawdry I'd let him get. I can't even tell you the words that now adorn the wall directly behind our bed.
Okay enough talking...ready to see the craziest project ever?
I have to admit I really love it. And please don't worry, you're welcome to let me know I'm a decorating lunatic. It wouldn't be the first time I have heard it.
I've decided over the years that we have "needed" a lot of bowls. We "needed" them when they were found antique shopping. We've "needed" them when a cute one has caught my eye here or there. And we've especially "needed" them from Anthropologie (which I've admitted to before).
Earlier tonight when we were setting up for the dinner we were hosting I pulled these mismatched bowls from the cabinet for a little salad bar. It made me a little too happy just to see them all together...so maybe we really did "need" them after all.
Okay where do I start? Mac's party was an adventure. The neon/80's-ish theme was embraced by Mac's friends and our family. The house was full of energy...dance music and lots of sugar certainly helped.
Instead of decorating around the house we concentrated on the dessert table and one other surprise for Mac. Sean and I took a couple of days to make hundreds of mini desserts. He kept track and I think the final counted ended up around 641. Granted it's a lot easier to get to that number when everything is tiny. A regular cookie or cupcake recipe will crank out a hundred items.
Apparently I have been reading way too much of Amy Atlas's blog since I was on a mission to have the table look perfect. We didn't have all the platters everyone seems to use so some cardboard, 1/2 a yard of fluorescent fabric and a staple gun helped create "trays" for the desserts to be placed on. I would actually love to do this again, but with cute little patterns.
Little bites of rice crispy treats were dressed up with a swipe of white chocolate and sprinkles...
We made little pudding parfaits and strawberry shortcakes in dixie cups and Sean made a brownie cup recipe we've been using for years...
We also had a bowls of mini chocolate chip and sugar cookies. And we made sure to have boxes for everyone to take home leftovers...
Okay moving on to the police. Of course I thought everyone was kidding, but there they were on our front porch responding to a noise complaint. I had talked to all of our immediate neighbors personally before the party and left notes at several houses right around us, but I guess I didn't reach out far enough. I also made a point of telling the DJ we didn't want the music too loud in the first place...we wanted to avoid everyone having to yell and leave with their ears ringing. We had the DJ turn the music down more and the officers offered to take our phone number to call us (instead of coming back out to end the party) in case we got another complaint...which we did right as the party was over at 10:30. So much for thinking we were proactive ahead of time.
The surprise for Mac was setting up a homemade "photo booth" (after seeing this). We hung fabric on the curtain rod in our living room and purchased a bunch of props. Now I have a couple hundred photos to go through and get a bunch printed to send with Mac's thank you notes...thankfully there's a 4x6 print coupon for Costco this week.
So music + sugar - police + photo booth = A super fun 15th birthday party.
Okay maybe I mentioned earlier this week that I am already craving all things fall, but there's still plenty of summer fun to be had.
Over the years I've tried to make little holiday themed packages to send to my niece in Iowa and six year old sister in Oklahoma. This year I didn't put together a 4th of July box like I have in years past so I sent along a summer box. It included bubbles, a big beach ball and a pack of water balloons...
Then closer to home we're going to have more summer fun this weekend hosting a water party with a very small guest list...my nephew and two nieces.
As Mac has been growing up we would have "water games" in the summer (you can see photos here and here) We'd simply chase each other around with the hose and buckets in our front yard. Now we're hoping to make this a little summer tradition with our nieces and nephew until they start to become super cool teenagers too.
We have all of Mac's old sprinkler toys, Sean and I made these sponge balls and I'm excited to plan a little water themed meal. I even mailed them an invitation today...just trying to ensure they drive my sister crazy with lots of, "When are we going to Auntie Nora's???"
I guess summer's not so bad (as I sit inside in the air conditioning).
The countdown is on...only 16 more days until Mac's birthday. The invitations were finally sent out earlier this week after Mac endlessly text-messaged to track down his friend's addresses. This year we're having a dance party with a dessert bar and lots of fluorescent colors...
The post office even helped us out with fluorescent stamps...
Our printer wasn't so helpful since it didn't seem to understand what a fluorescent color is...but the dots seemed fun anyway.
Now we're busy planning the playlist to give to the DJ, figuring out a menu full of sugar and Mac & I need to find burn-your-eyes-out bright shirts to wear as we get down with our badselves. Can't wait...
It's certainly not news to hear that I love new scrapbook supplies...probably a little more than I should. There is just something irresistible about the patterns and details...and all the crafty possibilities.
That's just one of the reasons I am super excited to be part of the design team for a brand new scrapbook company...Authentique. I love the name because it embodies Margie Romney Aslett who is truly one of the most enthusiastically and genuinely effusive people I've ever known.
A few weeks ago I got to make stuff with their new patterns and supplies...
And I thought it'd be fun to share a little of what they sent me...I have an alphabet, stickers and super cute die-cuts. If you need new scrapbook supplies please leave a "pick me" and I'll do a random drawing on Friday night.
On Friday afternoon, which was our first day of summer all together, Sean and I sat down on the couch to watch a little golf and make one of my very favorite things...a to do list. This wasn't any old list this was THE summer to do list. The one with every task we want completed before the first day of school next fall. It was divided into four quadrants and every box was full...53 items total. I typed it up yesterday into a couple of sheets for my organizer with neat rows of boxes to check off. Then Sean got a straightforward list without a check box in sight since he much prefers feverishly scribbling over each completed task like it never existed in the first place.
I won't bore you with anything written on the "House" or "School/Work" lists, but this was the 4th quadrant. The fun list which is just as important as the serious stuff...
It includes everything from trying to make really good vinaigrettes for salads to my plans to totally beat Sean and Mac in Wii bowling. Really looking forward to Griffin Family Summer 2011. Hopefully it's very productive and lots of fun.
It's from the book The Homemade Home. Just wire and buttons...and all the jars I've been obsessed with saving.
Really loved that imperfection was part of the charm of this craft. The wire gets totally bent? No big deal.
These will have a home on our picnic table this summer...waiting to glow in the evening with tea lights.
Every Tuesday afternoon I make a cup of Instant Breakfast for Mac.
In a take-out kids cup with a bendy straw.
It's so he has a snack as we drive from school to his weekly tutoring session.
He and I have a shared loved for this stuff since it's pretty much just chocolate milk with maybe an extra gram of protein.
And is this a good time to mention that I'm paranoid about things being spilled in our car?
Or does giving my 14 year old a covered cup give that away?