Did you know that in the United States more than 20 million sandwich bags from school lunches wind up in landfills? I have been guilty of sending plastic ziploc bags in my kids' lunches, but I always feel guilty about it. I have tried using the laptop lunchbox and sandwich wrap mats, but was not happy with how either worked. I could not fit my kids' sandwiches or thermos (if they wanted to take something hot) into the laptop lunch and the sandwich mats were very hard to clean and seemed to get water trapped underneath the plastic. For other friends of mine, the laptop lunch box has worked so I think this could be a good solution for some depending on what you pack for lunch. I thought at the very least I should try some reusable snack bags for all the times we carry snacks on the go. My first grader has to pack a snack every day--think of how many plastic bags that would add up to!! Lunchskins is a company started by mompreneurs. They make these adorable reusable bags that can be found here: www. lunchskins.com.
I love the idea of these peel and stick chalkboards you can put around your house for messages, reminders, to practice writing, to keep a weekly calendar, or just for doodling. These are the least expensive ones I've found from the company "Wallies." They make the chalkboard ones in several different colors and you can purchase them in packs of 2 or 4. I also like the dry erase version. Visit their website here: www.wallies.com.
Both my boys, ages four and six, and all of their friends are Lego obsessed. I've spoken with several moms about ideas for storing Legos and I have to say since my kids are probably at the early stages of Lego play, we throw them all in one bin when picking up. I have discovered, however, something that is a big help: a small dustpan. This really makes clean up faster and easier than picking up all the little pieces with your hands. If you want to be a bit more methodical I have found some other solutions, the best of which I think is the Box4Blox Lego storage box. Apparently, you put the pieces in the top and they sort of shake through so the smallest pieces go to the bottom of the box. Their website has a video demonstration of how it works and can be found here: http://www.box4blox.com/. Target online has several Lego storage boxes made by the company Iris. Another option is using a tackle box to sort them out. Let me know your ideas. By the way--I have given up on keeping the sets together and just let the guys build custom designs. I have kept all the instruction booklets in case they ever want to reconstruct the originals.
Yesterday I was helping a friend pick out a new rug at Celadon, a local store here in Mt. Pleasant. While there I spotted these adorable canvas open floor totes. I think they would look great in a child's room designated as a place to house stuffed animals. These days I am totally into open storage and have found that closed boxes (with the exception of maybe a big toy box or chest) do not work for us. Having something open really facilitates easy clean up. Just throw it in and be done.
A friend of mine, Allison Williamson, has launched an online artist gallery to represent, show, and sell local artists' work. Twenty percent of the profit made will go to help a local charity or cause (this month $370 has gone to Carolina Youth Development Center). Each month artists will contribute paintings centered on a certain theme. I think this is such a great idea as it allows those interested in collecting art an approachable and affordable way to do so. Check out the website here: charlestonartistcollective.org.
I recently helped a friend with giving a new look to a few rooms in her house. The first room that needed attention was her office which the previous owners of the house had painted in a rust color with very darkly stained wood for the trim and cabinetry. We chose Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter for the new paint color and Dove White for the trim. We used the chocolate brown and cream zebra rug as an anchor piece and went from there to select the chocolate brown sofa and oatmeal colored curtains. She purchased some modern accessories from West Elm (the mirror above the sofa, and the floor lamp) and also used some pops of turquoise to brighten things up.
We also decided to go for a richer color in the dining room and decided on a chocolate brown to tie in with some other accents around the house. The new chandelier (from West Elm), and the mirror add a modern touch.
We took the shades off and moved the old dining room crystal chandelier into the master bath to give it a more elegant touch.
I think back to school time is a time of both dread and excitement. To begin to make the transition from the lazy hazy days of summer to the busy routine of the school year, here are a few tips:
1. Create a family communication center. This is an area where you will create a file for each family member as well as folders labeled "to do," "to return," "to file." I use a simple file box, but you may find it easier to use stacking baskets or something of the sort.
2. Designate a homework area for you child or children. This can be at a desk in his or her own room, but I find that younger kids like to be where you are. My homework area is at the my dining room table. I set aside a drawer in one of my sideboards that will hold supplies like paper and a pencil cup.
3. Come up with a set night and morning routine. Creating a check list that kids can mark off themselves I is a great idea. I bought two small dry erase boards on which I can write the rules or check list. Try to practice the routine the week before the start of school.
4. Now is a great time to clean out closets and toys--maybe when your kids are off at school those first few days. Get rid of/donate any toys, clothes, and books that they have outgrown. Try to scale down the amount of clothes that they do have. This will make getting ready in the morning much easier. I really don't think that kids need more than about five to seven shirts and shorts/pants for school. Anything more is superfluous. I have become frustrated with my kids messing up their drawers every time they go to get an item of clothing. Therefore I have decided to hang most clothes up in their closet.
5. Take some time to think about meal planning. I have created a notebook of favorite family recipes. Maybe you want to think about doing a meal swap with neighbors. Another idea is to get together with a few friends to cook in bulk.
Sometimes all it takes is a fun new pillow or two to brighten up and change your room. I found these on Etsy through a store called Elegant touch, http://www.etsy.com/shop/elegantouch?ref=seller_info. The seamstress uses some of my favorite fabrics to create these beautiful and colorful pillow covers. The prices range from about $25-$85, depending on the fabric and pillow size. She uses a lot of my favorite Ikat fabrics, which I have been obsessing over for a while.
I love this idea for creating a kids' corner somewhere in the home where they can sit and do artwork or projects. Having their tools within reach and easy to get to is a great idea. I love the ledges for housing books (these came from Ikea), and the simple clothespin and wire art display. This picture is from the blog The Happy Home.
Occasionally I have a moment to pop into some of the antique stores around town. This is one of my favorite things to do. I usually don't buy anything but once in a while I'll find something that I just love or that will add character and uniqueness to someone else's house. The features in today's post were found at a local antique store called La Tee Da's. It is just stuffed with small treasures. My favorite is the yellow and purple Majorca plate. I also love the vintage oil painting that was just $75 and the Hermes boxes that would make super cute storage.
I found this picture on the Better Homes and Garden website and I love the idea of organizing or revamping a room in preparation for back to school. I like the personalized bins, the comfortable seating area, the convenient hooks placed around the room, and most of all the chalkboard paint that runs around the perimeter of the room where the kids can practice their best penmanship. What a clever idea! I also would make sure the kids had an appropriate art or work table.
In this day and age I don't know who would find time to make scrapbooks. To me, it's an admirable hobby but I think people can become overwhelmed with the expense of costly materials and the amount of time needed to make one. I love the idea of designing a professional looking coffee table photo book and I love the company Blurb. You can design something that looks like it comes from a professional publishing company by using their online software and there are a variety of formats to choose from. The price for a 40-page hardcover book with a dustjacket starts at about $22.00. Go to blurb.com for more info. I hope to share more end of the summer ideas with you over the next couple of weeks! The following picture would probably have to go for the front cover of my book:
I am now a stay at home mom but in my former life I was a French teacher--I have my B.A., M.A., and A.B.D. (next step to Ph.D. in French literature). I love teaching and miss it but in the meantime I am enjoying operating a part-time home organizing and design business. Contact me for more info if you are interested!