October 31, 2010

Halloween Fun

I don't volunteer very much at the school.  It's just not something that I'm completely comfortable with. I took a little time this week to work in the classroom of my youngest daughter in grade one.  We were doing halloween stations and I got the pumpkin station.  I helped the kids explore pumpkins inside and out.  We dug out the guts and created some spooky faces too.  At the end I had five pumpkins worth of seeds. I hate to see them go to waste so I decided to take them home to bake.  I had to wait a few days to bake so I left the seeds covered in a bowl in the fridge until this morning, so if you want to bake your seeds just put them aside to do later.  I love eating pumpkin seeds, hull and all.  I had enough for four batches but only three turned out.  I was multi tasking and one batch was a little too dark...OK... I burnt it.  But look at these ones!  Two batches of just salty mix and one with salt and Worcestershire.  Yum.  

Today was our family pumpkin carving day so we all took turns creating our funky faces.  My pumpkin was starting to rot so I came up with this idea.  The mouth is actually from the stem.  The kids loved this and are now thinking up ideas for next year to incorporate the candy.

Every once in a while we need to just put down the organizing tools and have fun with the family.  
Happy Halloween everyone!

October 29, 2010

Five on Friday

I like seeing the kids at the dining table doing crafts and other fun stuff.  I try to keep their activity baskets filled with thinks to pull out in case of the boredoms.  Every once in a while I see that the baskets are a tad over flowing and need a good purge.  When I have to tug to get them out from under the buffet, I know it's time. This is a quick job that will help them find what they need to get busy as well as help you to see what is needed as a top up.

One basket holds the recycled items, stickers, paper, notebooks, cards, activity books and such.  The other basket is playdoh land. I regularly rotate the playdoh toys so that we don't usually have this much in the basket, but Paisley had her birthday and some new items arrived.  My playdoh loving child is only six so I don't think it's unreasonable to rotate the toys without her present.  I know what she plays with and what has been in the basket for a while.  If she asks for something particular then I can just ask her what item needs to come out of the basket to make room for her desired item.

Here is the craft basket laid out. I am a little...eh hem..."tidy" with my crafty tools.  I like to see crayons in a crayon box, markers and pencil crayons in a box, and tools in a box. Paper and activity books are stacked at the bottom.  Small items are in the folding box.  Cards, stickers and misc. paper items are in a large zipper bag.

Finally I pack it all neatly and do a dry run on the floor.  Yup.  It fits!

Sorry to this guy who didn't make the cut this time.  Maybe we'll see you after the next session of Star Wars movie nights.

So what craft items can you let go of today?  How are you getting them organized? 

Don't forget to leave a comment so your name can go into the draw for the prize pack of organizing products.
Closing date is Sunday October 31st .... that's this Sunday!

October 27, 2010

Guest Blog Day

Today we warmly welcome Candice from Fashionably Organized who will talk to us about her toy cleaning experience.  Oh my...that's not one I tackle often enough.  Don't forget to leave a comment  and follow both Candice and I so that we can enter your name into the draw for a package of organizing products.  Draw ends October 31st 2010! 

The Great Toy Cleaning Experience

I want to thank Kathleen for allowing me to come here and tell you about a wonderful cleaning experience. Yes I did put wonderful and cleaning into the same sentence and believe me that does not happen often. I think that once you read this post you’ll understand why I felt that way. I do recommend you really consider doing the toy purge twice a year. Just for a little clarification I don’t give names so as a little key code J is my first son, he’s 6, E is my second son, he’s almost 5 and A is my daughter she is 20 mo. Thanks for reading this.

I knew I had to clean the boy’s playroom. I was going to take all of these before and after pictures. Fast forward 3 hours, and the playroom is finally clean and organized.

I forgot to take the before pictures. So please forgive me.

When we moved into this house it had this add on that is best described as an enclosed sun room. We were going to tear it down. My mother had a genius idea to leave it up while the boys are small as a playroom. I was so excited to get all of their toys out of my living room.

Now it's become this mess of crazy stuff and a room I'm afraid to go into. For 4 weeks that room looked like heck! I told R, I was going to gut that room of trash and toys.

I went in with 3 garbage bags, a 6 year old and a 4.5 year old. I wasn't sure if all 3 of us were going to come out of there alive. I told them that 1 bag was for us to throw away the toys that were broken, all papers and "art work". The other bag was for all of the toys we were donating. (The 3rd was a 2nd trash bag.)

I explained to them that by donating toys they would be donating to their schools for all of the kids to play with. This really excited them both but especially E. He immediately pulled out all of his plastic dump trucks. He was so excited to give all of them for the sandbox at school. He loves the sandbox, and I think he's pretty excited about sharing them with his friends.

I decided we'd do the playroom in corners. We had 3 corners to clean. Left hand picture is a picture of 1 corner after being organized.

We first sorted toys. Star Wars toys together in one clear bin. Matchbox cars went into another clear bin. We wound up with the one with matchbox cars filled to the brim. Then they weedled them down to 1/3 of what they had previously by deciding which ones would get donated.

Clear bins are the great equalizer in our home. I believe in them wholeheartedly when it comes to organizing the kids things. We forget how they are very visual little beings and when they want to play with something letting them see it through the bin is great for them. More importantly it means that you don’t have them opening bin after bin looking for one specific toy.

When we went through all of the puzzles I thought we would give some of those to A's daycare. When I told them my idea, they decided all of the puzzles we were going to donate should go to A's daycare. They told me they felt the kids there would like them.

When we got to the books we made 3 piles. One was to keep, one was to give to E's classroom and one to give to J's classroom. We got rid of about 1/4 of our books. We love books in our house and we are overrun with them. I thought that donating to the schools allowed us room for new books, while helping the schools build up their libraries.

In the end despite having to raise my voice more then I ever thought possible, and 2 kids who couldn't focus, it was a fantastic experience for all 3 of us. I included them in the process of giving to others. Yes, it was their schools, but they felt like they were sharing. I want them to learn the power of sharing and how it can make us feel good about ourselves. Children should feel the giving part first hand. I'm glad to see that joy in them.

one angle of the pile of toys to give away

the toys they are donating

Getting your children in the process of purging is a wonderful bonding experience. I may have lost my mind in that playroom, but I came out happy.

Thank you Candice and now I'm off to attack the toy room.  Come back on Friday to see how I did.

October 25, 2010

Guest Blogging Over Here....

 You can find me over here today Guest Posting for a great blog called Fashionably Organized.

I met Candice during a Sits event.  What's Sits?  A support group of a huge number of bloggers. We just finished a two week challenge to make our blogs better.  It was a great way to learn and meet some fellow bloggers.

Don't forget to leave a comment so you have a chance to win the package of organizing stuff.  Draw ends October 31st 2010.

October 22, 2010

Five on Friday

It's Friday which means it's time to get rid of some clutter.
I had to think about this, but I think I found a good one.  Holiday decorations...specifically...Halloween decorations.  We kinda really love halloween at our house.  What other time of year can you don a costume and morph into a completely different character for a few hours, lurking around the neighborhood begging for candy and treats?  Most of our decorations are for the inside of the house like this cutie.

Or these guys..

Have I mentioned before how I love to walk around the funky section of Winners?

Over the years we pick out the decorations that we think will spook up the place the best.  As we get older we look at our older items and maybe we don't put them out or they don't get the prime spot in the living room.
We also have window decals to deal with that don't stick so well anymore or have faded to ghostly white.
What about the lovely crafty decorations that our children bring home from school or we choose to do with them at home?  Gorgeous as they are (total sarcasm) we may need to do some clutter control on the stack in the box.  When items come home from school, be sure to take a photo of it with your child so that the moment is captured but the item does not need to stay with you forever.

We usually carve our pumpkins the night before halloween, and this year the holiday is on Sunday so we can relax on Saturday night and do them up right.  Sometimes we feel rushed to get it done if it is on a weekday evening and they don't always look their best.  Let's purge the pumpkin tools. How many carving sets do you have?  What about those pumpkin templates?  Oh and let's not forget the collection of bags to collect treats.  I think we have a few damaged pillowcases in with all the reflecting bags and bags that are full after you put one bag of chips in them.

Some halloween items are just meant to last one season.  Which items have you been holding onto too long?
Tell me what you got rid of to lighten the holiday tote. 

Don't forget to read last weeks Friday Findings here to enter into the draw for a package of organizing goodies.  Draw closes October 31st 2010

October 20, 2010

Crafting without Chaos

 I am swapping guest posts with another avid craft lady named Jennifer who I met here.  When you are finished reading Jennifer's post please go check out her blog here and leave a comment to be entered to win a prize.

Take it away Jennifer...

There seems to be some strange, undeniable force that brings crafting and clutter together. All I need to do is look around my office/craft room (affectionately known as the Abyss) to see that it's so. While my creative space isn't magazine-perfect, it's what I like to call organized chaos—it's a system that works for me.

When I'm in the middle of a project, though, things can take on a decidedly different look. That's why I've developed certain a certain system that keeps my crafting days more organized that chaotic:

The first step, as always, is to start with organized supplies.

Everyone works differently, everyone has different needs, but for multi-discipline crafters it's good to keep the supplies for each hobby separate. So, in the Abyss, I have 2 shelving units for paper and paper crafting items, 1 for beading and fine art and a fourth for yarn and fabric. Tools that get used across the crafts (scissors, adhesives, ribbons, stencils, etc.) have their own tower.

But don't stop there! For me the driving force of a project (besides it's purpose) is color, so each type of supply is also separated out into a general color spectrum (a variation on the ROY G BIV rainbow). This allows me to see what I have, what I might need more of the next time I head to the craft store with a coupon and no specific purchase in mind and what I have way more than I need of (and could stand to pare down).

The next thing to address is my workspace, which invariably needs clearing.

For those of us lucky to have a dedicated craft space, it doesn't mean we always treat it as precious as it is. Between projects it's every horizontal surface for itself and my table gets covered with whatever might have come into the room—mail, purchases, materials for a future project, whatever. So, if I want to craft, first I have to clean.

A funny thing happens, though, when I'm tidying up: I get energized. Moving around, putting things away, is instant gratification as my desk clears. Not only do I end up with a clean space, the crafting to come feels like a reward for a good deed. And cleaning up with a purpose in mind is always easier than a chore done out of obligation.

Now we get to the fun part, now we shop. Not in a store, we're going to shop our supplies.

By organizing what we have, picking what we need is like a shopping spree in our very own boutique! To enhance the feeling of our spend-free spree, I have a few baskets and bins picked up at the local dollar store that I can collect my supplies in before I go to the table with them. These baskets come in handy later when I've finished with a tool or have leftover materials, I can just put them right back in the bin and they keep the rest of my workspace clear.

Finally, while you're working, resist the urge to multitask.

Oh, this pains me to say, but it's true. We crafters can be easily distracted by the next shiny idea or a tangent a happy accident sends us off on. Multitasking leads to stacks and totes full of UFOs (Unfinished Objects). If you value the life of your project, see it through to it's end before chasing the next pretty thing. There are always exceptions, of course. When paint needs to dry or a sealant needs several days to cure, that's different. There's also a difference between a table project and the knitting you keep by your living room chair.

Bottom line: whichever way you choose, having your own systems and routines for crafting makes it easier to create whenever and whatever you want.

Thanks Jennifer!  Come by any time and let us know how the craft life is treating you.  Everyone can go here to enter into my draw for organizing supplies until October 31st 2010. 

Guest Blog

You can find me over here today!  We are talking about getting our purses organized, something we all need to take a few minutes to do.  There is a prize too so go on over, read and get that purse organized!

October 15, 2010

Friday Findings

When is the last time you took a few minutes to organize your facebook account?  Have you set your security settings, especially those that announce your game scores to everyone?  Have you had a delete party to get rid of old posts and updates.  Today's your lucky day.  It's delete day!  For the next five minutes, and five minutes only, go to facebook and delete as much as you can.  Whittle down the photos, groups and applications. 

When you are done come back here...to enter into a draw for a prize.  Yes, a prize for those who delete.

Go ahead.  I'll wait.    

How did that feel?  I love a good delete-fest.   How many other applications on your computer could you delete?  Many I can guess, but facebook is a great start.  Let's look at the bookmarks another day.  Mine are off the page.

The prize.  Oh yes!  I have a prize pack of lovely items for my deleting friends.  
You can get a ballot into the box by doing each of the following:

1.  Leave me a comment to tell me that you deleted stuff and how it felt.
2. Follow me and leave me a comment saying you are following me.  
3. Tell me if you have a blog, leave your blog address so I can check you out!
4. Mention my blog on your site with a link so your friends can win and tell me that you did so.

Have a great weekend and keep on deleting!

October 8, 2010

Friday Findings

I have seen the writing on the wall.  Actually, I have seen the frost on the lawn. I know that I need to get into the garage and get the summer things tidied before the big flakes arrive. 

As you can see, I have a bit of an obsession.  How many containers can  you count?  I see seven and I know that there are more lurking.  I have to defend my container love.  Kitty litter containers are heavy duty and have a great handle.  I use them everywhere.  Bubble blowing toys, beach toys, knee/elbow protectors for three children, gardening stuff...and every other grouping that needs a home of their own.  I have been known to stack a few in the corner for those "just in case" moments. 

I think I've explained before that my garage is an old garage. Over 54 years old.  It does not hold our van.  So the garage is more like a huge shed for all our seasonal items.  Yippee for me.  I like storage.

After tidying, purging and rearranging all the summer fun, we had room to pull out the tires (in the white at the back), and get at the lawn mover one last time.  I even got rid of four containers.  Sadly at first but then remembering that the cat is old but not gone yet. 

Get out there and dig into your garages this weekend.  Pull all the stuff out.  Sort it.  Containerize it.  Sweep.  Put it all back nicely so that you can easily get to it in the spring.

How do you keep your garage organized and is it your job or your partners to take care of this zone?

October 1, 2010

Friday Findings

My vehicle does not fit in my garage.  Not because it's so cluttered. It's just an old old garage and my van is too wide to comfortably get inside.  So the garage is the home to all our outdoor paraphernalia.  Gardening gear, sports equipment, Barbecue, Smoker, Tools and all the toys of the season. 

Oh...and the recycling.

We have to take our recycling to a recycling centre in town or you can sort it and put it on the curb every other garbage day. I like recycling but I'd rather drop it off than blue bag it all.  So sometimes the garage is overwhelmed with boxes and papers.  Two of my children have paper routes and we always have a pile or two leftover as well.  Needless to say I need to fill the van and get it done rather than have it take over the garage one more day. 

I don't want my children to ever tell me that they can't get to their bikes or toys because of my recycling mess.  When I tell them to go out and play I never want them to use me as an excuse of why they couldn't.

How is your recycling?  Is it working for you?  Do you need new containers like these ones?  Sometimes the right containers really do help.