Half Way to Organized

I named 2015 the Year to Get Organized, and now that we’re 3/4 the way through the year, I am seeing the fruits of my labours. Really, it’s a project I began in 2014 with the first of my “lists.” Once I had two kids, it became harder to stay on top of keeping everything organized, particularly with all the new “stuff.” Over time, I realized that being tidy and organized made me feel better (I’m turning into my Oma) and that I had too much “stuff” anyway. So I began purging and organizing. Over and over.

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I made lists like these. Earlier this year, I started my second list. Today, as most of the items were checked off, I made a third. Some items have remained static (projects I’m obviously avoiding or are not bothering me as much), but others get added. Some projects seem to be yearly, like reorganizing the pantry and bathrooms. Others are always fluid, like going through the toys. We don’t have a huge stock of toys anymore, but there is always room to keep trimming.

This last list feels so much more final. I had to really think about what should be on it. When I mentally picture our house now, most places are tidy and easy to keep organized. When you get down to just what you need, it’s very easy to figure out how to organize it.

Now I’m thinking beyond the last few projects (some big, like the office, some small) to thing that would make our house better: new countertops in the bathroom, new desk in our office. 

Decals Are The Easiest Way to Redecorate

Not for the first time, I have turned to decals to redecorate for the boys. For 3 years, Aiden has had a cute train decal in his room (which was his first upgrade from his nursery style), but he’s grown up again (eek!) and it was time to reflect that in his room.

Though his room is still painted the baby-green colours, Aiden’s yet to notice that (yay!) and so I’ve simply made changes where we could. He has Star Wars sheets with a simple blue comforter cover, which will allow us to modify his room without fully investing in new bedding. Sheets are inexpensive to change! I upgraded his curtains from green stripes to plain blue. And I purchased new wall decals. 

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Given his room is already covered in Star Wars art, and Star Wars is more “acceptable” to us geeks than Pokemon for decor, I researched decals and again went back to etsy for my purchase. There were more decals than I could have ever imagined, but I opted for the X-Wing because it is so striking, and the black seemed simple. I carried it through with some very inexpensive decals I picked up on Amazon

It was so fun to surprise Aiden with his room makeover!!

A while ago, we surprised him with a new bed (from Costco). Though we had a convertible crib, we always thought we would move to a larger house soon, and that never happened. With the addition of more furniture to his room (side table, book case), a double bed would have eaten up too much floor space. In the end, we’re happy with the bed we purchased! We have so far kept the crib, in case we ever do want the full matching furniture set in a larger house (or wish to sell it). Costco has great bed selections – we love the storage on this one! – and even many trundle beds, another great option.

Custom Art from Minted Creates Memories for a Lifetime

For the past few years, I have been making custom art prints with Minted, along with our holiday card order. We have been ordering holiday cards for 3 years (see my past reviews), and my first year I created calendars featuring our kids. 2 years ago, instead of a new calendar that inevitably gets taken down, I decided to create a custom art print using one of the wonderful photo art templates available on Minted. This way, I could use our pictures to create a wonderful collage that would always memorialize our kids at this point in their lives.

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My first art creation was a compilation of photos of my boys from their first two years of life, balancing shots of them together with shots of them solo. I used the Heart Snapshot template and spent hours scouring my archives for an equal balance of photos of my boys from their various ages, then spent time trying to make the resulting image as well-balanced as possible, both with each boy and with the colors in the photos. I originally purchased this as a gift for the grandmothers, but have since purchased it for our home too! Along with my purchase, I was able to add frames, making it a simple gifting process. Here’s how amazing the frame looks, alongside a piece of art my 5-year-old Aiden created to match!

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Last year, we involved both the grandmothers in our annual family photo session with Sarah Jane Photography, then surprised each grandmother with a custom print. One grandmother’s print was created with the Love Line template and the other with the Mom Love template, which I further customized with a custom phrase, “love you to the moon and back.”

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Above is also featured our 2014 holiday card, which is one of my favourites so far. I love the shine to it!

Although shipping to Canada from Minted is kind of pricey, I have always been super impressed with the quality of the prints. The designs at Minted are created by independent artists, whether they are supplying holiday cards, wedding invitations (*new*), custom photo art, or a variety of beautiful art prints. Everything is printed on textured paper (not photo paper), so it has a lovely feel to it. What keeps me coming back to Minted is the beautifully updated designs and the amazing interface. I love that your own photos can load into the preview screen for a whole section (not just per item) and that you can customize so many aspects of both art and cards.

If you have kids, there are some beautiful options for decor from the Love You To The Moon & Back photo art to custom name art, birth stats, room signs and more!

Disclosure: Minted has offered me credit in exchange for a review of their art, though in all honesty it has been on my list of “stuff to write” since post-Christmas when I could officially write about the latest custom prints without ruining the surprise! All opinions are my own, obviously. ;)

Outdoor Toy Storage: My Solution

My friends and family know that I can’t handle clutter in certain areas of my life, particularly with toys. Our living room uses a combination of existing cabinet space in our tv unit as well as two cube shelving units with removable bins. Our original configuration had just one unit, but we’ve since turned the unit upright and purchased a second one. Toys have a way of multiplying as kids get older! ;)

As our collection of outdoor toys grew, they became more unsightly and unruly. We had a big tupperware bin to store them in, but it was always impossible to find the “right” kind of ball for the sport Aiden wanted to play. I spent several months measuring our outdoor space and trying to find a storage unit that would accommodate the bin-based organizing that works for our family while also standing up to the elements. Harder than you’d think!

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Although there are a couple of cube-based storage solutions in wood available online, they only came in very restricted sizes and we worried that they wouldn’t stand up to the rain in Vancouver, even if they were partially covered. Most garden sheds, we found, are quite large and difficult to customize with shelves (in fact, most don’t come with shelves at all).

We opted for the Rubbermaid Vertical Garden Shed that, while quite narrow in depth, still offered a large volume of storage space. The shed came with two wire shelves (must be a new addition, since it’s not on the manufacturer’s website) and a template to cut up to 2 more shelves. With 4 shelves installed, I went to a few different dollar stores to find bins that were the right size and really lucked out with tall bins in co-ordinating colours. I was able to split the toys into 7 of these bins, while keeping the taller toys stacked to the front of the shelves. I have a larger bin of balls at low level for easy access, along with some s-hooks to store things like our sprinkler. I just had to make labels as well.

Our back patio looks so much better with these toys tucked away. I’d like to say that’s all the toys, but we also have the bigger dump trucks, ride-ons and bikes stacked against the wall. Still, at least it’s neatly lined up now!

Aiden’s New Carpet

Last weekend we went out to Ikea to purchase a new rug for Aiden’s bedroom. We’ve wanted one for a while, but it’s now an essential. We’re no longer able to change Aiden on his change table since he rolls the second he’s on his back and that makes it both complicated and dangerous to change him up there.

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We’ve been changing Aiden on the floor. The rolling, however, means that his poor boy parts were probably getting quite cold on the floor when he did a flip mid-change.

We purchased the Lekplats play mat / carpet from Ikea, an inexpensive and fun carpet. It has a road that circles the landscape, which is in itself quite detailed. Later on he can take his toy cars around the city, even parking them in the parking spots. It should provide for a lot of fun!!