Category Archives: home improvment

Organizing Toys for my Toddler

After little man’s first birthday, we found ourselves needing a better way to organize his toys. What a lucky boy he was (and continues to be) with all the new things he has to play with. But, our single fabric bin to store all his toys just wasn’t going to cut it anymore.
See how things were before? A mess!! And with two parents who hate clutter, this mess wouldn’t last for long.
So off to IKEA we went, in search of a solution. I had visions of cubbies that we would eventually be able to label with words and pictures to identify where things go. This is how many of the preschool classrooms I’ve worked in are organized, to help the children be more independent in their toy clean up. I love the concept and plan on implementing someday…when I have a chance to take pictures of all his toys. Maybe that will happen before he goes to preschool…

We ended up deciding on the Expedit shelving from IKEA. They have many different combinations of cubes available, but we settled on a 4×4 cube shelf. I was hoping to find some clear plastic boxes (“totes” as my husband likes to call them) that would fit in the cubes, so that he can see what’s inside and point to the box he wants to play with. I figured I would have a hard time finding the perfect box.

Turns out, we already had them in the house! The clear plastic bins from the Container Store fit perfectly! See the two on the bottom left? Those are two of their “sweater boxes.” And the one on the right is a “deep sweater box.” I’m really happy with how this turned out, and little man seems to like it too! He points to what he wants if he can’t get to it himself, and he’s already able to start to participating in cleaning up his toys. Win win!


DIY Repainted Thrifted Mirror

Ever since we moved into our new house, a year and a half ago, we’ve had plans to put a mirror (and hopefully some sort of tall and narrow piece of furniture) in our front entryway. We hadn’t gotten around to finding something, and when we did look at places like Crate and Barrel for a mirror, they were too expensive and we gave up.
Then, the day after little man and I returned home from France, some very dear friends of ours were moving out of state (sad face), so we went out for breakfast with them to say goodbye. The place where we had breakfast shares a parking lot with a Goodwill (which according to my now-moved-out-of-state friend, is a great Goodwill). So in an effort to keep little man’s jet-lagged self awake longer, we decided to wander through the Goodwill. Unfortunately, we did not find the ever elusive mid-century modern dresser that we’re constantly on the look out for. We did, however, find a mirror that was the perfect size for our entryway. It was pretty banged up and the colors were (in our humble opinions) ugly. But those things are easily remedied, and it was (relatively) cheap at $13. We have plenty of leftover paint from when we completely repainted our house last year. So, we decided to paint the frame of this mirror white, to contrast with our blue entryway wall.
Of course, I forgot to take a true “before” picture. This is after I had already puttied and sanded the holes, and started taping it off.
I decided to try keeping the gold inner trim on the mirror to juxtapose the modern white with a vintagey (is that even a word?) antique gold.

Fast forward about a week, and it’s done! I first painted it in an eggshell finish. Then I decided that it would be weird to have the same finish on the mirror as the wall. So I repainted it in a semi-gloss paint of the same color. Luckily for us, we already had both the eggshell and semi-gloss paint in Super White on hand.

Having the mirror there adds so much more light to the entryway. We love it!

Backyard Project: Tree Removal

We had a busy weekend. I would say I’m just now recovering from it, and I didn’t even do the heavy lifting.

When we bought our house a year ago, we knew right away that we weren’t thrilled with two of the three trees in our backyard. In each back corner, there stood a tall, messy, bushy tree. We eventually found out they were oak trees, which made me feel a tiny bit guilty that I hated them so much. But, it was already decided that they would eventually have to go. And by eventually, I mean as soon as possible. The plan was to replace them with fruit trees and since it always takes several years for fruit trees to be established and actually start producing fruit, we wanted to get them in the ground ASAP.

We went about finding a quote for a tree removal service. We were quoted $600 something dollars per tree. Egads…I guess I was actually expecting it to be even more, but still. It’s a lot of money. Then, our good friend Robert, who is a jack of all trades kind of guy and used to be an arborist told us that this tree removal project was “child’s play” and that he could have the tree down in an hour. We asked if he would help us in exchange for dinner, a bottle of scotch and our eternal gratitude. A deal was made and off to work we went.

We were lucky that Saturday was a gorgeous day. 75 degrees with barely a breeze. Lovely!

Robert prepared the chainsaw, borrowed from a neighbor.

Quentin helped mama document the adventure (but not the part when the chainsaw was on)

First few branches removed. We could tell at this point that the real work was going to be cleaning up all the branches and leaves after the tree was down.

You can’t see him, but Robert is up in the tree.

Quentin went down for a nap, so I got to work removing leaves from larger branches so we could keep those as kindling.

Trevor, hard at work.

Robert, cutting up our firewood for next winter.

Time to get the rest of it down…devising a game plan.

The guys, enjoying a well-deserved beer.

Meanwhile, Quentin and I prepared lunch. Quiche Lorraine with a salad on the side. Complete with espresso and chocolate for dessert.

And, because it was so beautiful, we ate out on the grass.

Quentin was excited for his avocado.

Getting a taste of what spring feels like for the first time.

The big pile of branches is still on our patio, but luckily, we borrowed a brush chipper from a friend. The plan is to make mulch out of the small branches/leaves, and to save the larger branches for kindling.

And done.

Having the tree out really changes the look of our backyard. I wouldn’t say it’s for the better at this point, but I think it will be really nice once we get the stump removed and plant a fruit tree. I’ve been dreaming about what kind of fruit tree we’re going to plant. I’m kind of thinking apricot right now, but my mind isn’t totally made up. Any suggestions?