2015 Organization Challenge

>> Sunday, January 4, 2015

So cliché, right? A new year’s resolution to be better organized? But in my case at least it is definitely needed. 2014 was a good year in many ways but in lots of ways it kind of kicked my butt. I was pregnant for most of the year and had a newborn baby for the rest. We also tackled a big renovation project – putting a bathroom in the basement – and lots of smaller ones. Most of the time I was happy to get the bare minimum done and if there was energy left over, it went to my kids and husband, not the house.

So now that I’m starting to feel more like myself, I’m ready to tackle some of the areas that have really been bothering me. In fact I have already started. But then I came across this organization challenge that one of my friends shared on Facebook. I thought it was just the thing to get me going. The basic gist is that there is one organizational challenge each week for the whole year. Click through to read more details.

I’m trying to accept that there are more limitations on my time and energy right now so just doing one area per week seems just about right for my abilities. Plus sometimes I get so anxious to go at it that I burn myself out in a few days when I’ve completely ignored the rest of my responsibilities. So pacing myself will probably be a really good thing!

I’m going to start out following the schedule but I’m sure I will make adjustments based on my needs. Just skimming through, I can see that there are a few challenges that don’t really apply to me (I don’t have any pets!) and some that I imagine might take me more than a week to finish (I have 3 kids bedrooms to organize!). I also suspect that I will take on more than one project some weeks when something is just really bugging me and needs to be taken care of and that there will be weeks when I’ve got sick kids or we go out of town.

I’m excited to embark on this challenge and hope you will follow along! First up – kitchen counters and sink!


Hello again

>> Thursday, December 4, 2014

I’m back! Things have been (understandably) crazy since having a baby almost two months ago. But I’m ready to start getting  back in the swing of things. Things are definitely still crazy but I’ll pretend I have it under control. :) For starters, I’d like you to meet Easton.
Yes, that is boy #4 for us! When you make them this cute, no need to mess with a good thing! I’ve been indulging in lots of newborn cuddles and trying not to have too high expectations for myself. We haven’t worked on any projects at all the last couple months. I consider it a successful day if everyone gets dinner and has clean clothes to wear. But I’m itching to get going again on real life. I’m not sure how realistic it is when I’m not getting much sleep and holding a baby for most of the day but I’m gonna try!


A pretty good place to start

>> Tuesday, September 23, 2014

We’ve chosen this time around to not really decorate the nursery at all. I know I could have done something gender neutral and added other things once the baby was born but I have a plan for what I’d like the room to look like in both cases and they are pretty different. So right now, the room is basically just a blank slate. For reference, here is where we started with the room. That is what it has looked like for the past two years. So what did I do?

The first change was the paint color. I really wanted to lighten it up so I painted it my very favorite color, Benjamin Moore’s Lacey Pearl. It is a great warm light grey that I find really works with anything. It’s a great backdrop for the pops of color I plan on adding.

The next thing I did was to buy a new chair. I had used the yellow rocker for the past two children and while it worked ok, it was too low to the ground, making it kind of uncomfortable for me to get in and out of. I bought this glider second-hand for $25. It had already been painted and recovered which I thought would save me a lot of work. But once I got it into the room, I realized that the ‘white’ paint was much more creamy than I originally thought. So I gave it a quick little coat of paint. I didn’t spend too much time making it perfect either. And once I got that painted, I realized that I would rather just recover the cushions in a neutral right now, rather than waiting until after the baby is born and adding one more thing to my list. The previous recover job was ok, but it just didn’t match either design plan I have in my head. So there is my ‘If You Give a Moose a Muffin’ story.

We removed the old closet doors when we renovated three years ago and have been meaning to replace them ever since but just haven’t got around to budgeting for that. It’s way down the priority list! So I found some fabric on clearance for $4.50/m and sewed some basic curtain panels to hide all the clutter. They were a pretty easy project. I just hemmed all four sides and used this method to make hidden tab curtains. I figure I can reuse them somewhere else once we finally get some doors.

Lastly, I rearranged the furniture. I don’t know that it is necessarily more functional this way but I was itching for a change and I think it works well.

Now that we are (hopefully less than) two weeks away, I’ve even got some blankets  and clothes in the dresser and stocked up the basket on top with tiny newborn diapers. Aren’t they just the cutest thing you have ever seen?



The Simplest Baby Blankets

>> Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I’m waist deep in baby prep right now! I’ve finally finished all the other ‘necessary’ projects before baby comes and I’ve been able to concentrate on baby stuff. And it feels good. I’ve never had any pre-term labor scares and have never had a baby before my due date but it still feels really good to finally be ready for this little one to come. I guess I should clarify that – I’ve still got lots of things I’d like to do before this baby arrives but at least now it will have diapers and clean clothes and a bed to sleep in and I have a place to sit to feed it. It’s kinda funny how that definition of ‘ready’ changes from your first baby to your fourth.

Anyways, one of the projects on my list was some simple baby blankets. We didn’t find out the sex of this baby and we already have three boys so I knew I would need to prep a couple girl things just in case. My favorite blankets with my boys have been large single layer flannelette receiving blankets. They are lightweight, yet cozy and make a great swaddle. So while I obviously have a few boy blankets that are ready to be used again, I wanted to whip up a couple girl versions.

Simple Baby Blanket - Ladybrook Crescent
I found the flannelette on sale for around $3 a meter. I got 1 1/4 meters of each so that I could make them as large as possible. After I prewashed it, I laid it out on the floor and folded it on a diagonal to square it up. (This is way more than 1 1/4 meters. There was already a precut piece on the bolt and the lady just let me have it all.) I just used the width of the fabric as my sizing guide. It doesn’t really matter what size it is but I prefer them square and quite large. (The blanket in the picture above is folded over twice.)

Simple Baby Blanket - Ladybrook Crescent

Then I just trimmed up the edges until they were straight and square.

Simple Baby Blanket - Ladybrook Crescent

Then I folded the edges down 1/2” and ironed it.

Simple Baby Blanket - Ladybrook Crescent

I only folded over the edges once because I didn’t want the hem to be bulky at all. Then I set my sewing machine to a zigzag stitch and sewed around all four edges with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This stitched right over that raw edge and will help to eliminate most of the fraying. I do still anticipate it fraying a little so I will just check them when I take them out of the dryer the next few times and trim any stray threads. It’s a little hard to see the white thread on the white fabric, but this gives you an idea of how the zigzag stitch just enclosed the raw edge.

Simple Baby Blanket - Ladybrook Crescent
On the front, it is just a simple zigzag border. I think it would be super cute to use a contrasting thread color but I didn’t have anything on hand.

Simple Baby Blanket - Ladybrook Crescent

I’m so happy with how these turned out! And they only took me around 45 minutes to sew them both. Now we just need a baby to wrap up in them. And if we have another boy, they will make great (and inexpensive!) gifts!

Simple Baby Blanket - Ladybrook Crescent


Every Superhero Needs a City to Defend

>> Monday, September 8, 2014

I’m back in Tyler and Landon’s room today, sharing a really really fun project with you. Please don’t let the terrible lighting detract from the awesomeness that it is. Unfortunately their room is in the basement with only one small window so these are just things we have to deal with. From the get-go when I was planning their room, I saw this idea on Pinterest and knew it would be so fun. It was one of the first projects that we did for the room and the other awesome thing was that it was so awesomely inexpensive. I bought one sample size of paint for the foreground color and I found a quart of mistinted paint for the background. (I was also able to reuse that on the bookshelves so that was super cheap!) The only other supplies I used were Scotch Blue painters tape, a small foam roller, and a few dollar store paint brushes.

IMG_6617 copy
We debated a little at first on the best way to do it. I have had really bad experiences in the past with painters tape. I could never understand when I saw people using it because I have always, always had it bleed on me. I really hoped that didn’t happen this time around so I spent a little more on Scotch brand and made sure I pressed down really firmly. I had accepted that I would probably just have to touch it up after but there was no need. It was amazing! We got really crisp lines. The only spots where it bled was one area where I forgot to press it down really well and on a couple of the windows where the tape overlapped.

Anyways, back to the process. We used this image for inspiration (sorry, couldn’t find the original source). It really helped us have an idea of where things would go before we started. But then we just kinda eyeballed it. We did use a level to make sure our tape lines were straight but we didn’t measure anything. I don’t really think you can go too wrong. Then we taped off some windows and just rolled on the paint with a  foam roller.

Superhero Cityscape 1 - Ladybrook Crescent
It took 2 coats to get good coverage but I just did them one after another and we pulled the tape off when it was still wet.

Superhero Cityscape 2 - Ladybrook Crescent
Here’s how it looked after the foreground was finished.

Superhero Cityscape 3 - Ladybrook Crescent
We let that dry overnight (actually, I think it was two days before we got time to work on it again) and then moved onto the background. I forgot to get a picture of the background taped off before we started painting but here’s an idea of what it looked like. It was a little more time consuming to tape off, just because we had to tape around all of the foreground buildings too. But all things considered, it was still a relatively quick project.

Superhero Cityscape 4 - Ladybrook Crescent
Here it is with everything done except the bridge.

Superhero Cityscape 5 - Ladybrook Crescent

The bridge was not exactly easy but it wasn’t too bad either. We used a level and penciled in the main lines and then just freehanded the rest before we painted it. Up close it definitely isn’t perfect but my 5 year old is pretty enamored by it! It really was a fun project to do and made such a big impact!

IMG_6617 copy


DIY Superhero Canvases

>> Thursday, September 4, 2014

Here we are, back in Tyler and Landon’s bedroom, AKA the superhero room. Of course, any superhero room needs superheroes! I thought for quite a while about how to best represent different superheroes, on a budget of course. There are some really awesome posters available on Etsy and I was so tempted. But after the cost of the posters plus frames for each, it was just more than I wanted to pay. So I finally decided on creating my own artwork. And of course I just decided to use symbols since they are super simple.

DIY Superhero Canvases | Ladybrook Crescent

I started by having Landon pick which symbols he wanted, which sounds a lot easier than it actually was. He’s 4 after all. Then I picked up some 12x12 canvases from Michaels. They were about $25 for a pack of 7 and I had a 10% off coupon. But don’t be like me. If you can, wait until they are on sale or until you have a 40-50% off coupon. I live an hour away from Michaels though so I don’t really have the luxury of waiting until I get a good coupon to pop over. My husband was also able to bring home a projector from work, which really made this whole project possible. Seriously, I’m all for the hand painted look but I do not do free handing well.

DIY Superhero Canvases | Ladybrook Crescent

Here was our little set up. It’s a little hard to see but I rested the canvas on the baseboard and taped it up with a small piece of painters tape. Then I centered the image over the canvas and started tracing the outline. I just Googled the images to find ones I liked. This is what a traced image looked like. I just used pencil and it worked fairly well. Just keep in mind that it took a lot of coats of paint to cover with some colors.

DIY Superhero Canvases | Ladybrook Crescent
After they were all traced, I got to work painting. I worked in a bit of a haphazard manner. I tried to do as much of one color at a time if I could. Each color needed at least two coats in most places. I won’t lie, it wasn’t exactly a quick job. But I found it pretty relaxing  and had fun doing it so it wasn’t too bad. It ended up taking me a couple days. I even did most of it while my kids were around. A couple times I had them take off their shirts and gave them some paintbrushes and cardboard so they could join me.

DIY Superhero Canvases | Ladybrook Crescent

I used a combination of these brushes. They are all just from the dollar store but I really liked the paintbrushes with the straight edges. I found it gave a lot more control when doing the details.

DIY Superhero Canvases | Ladybrook Crescent

To me the most important part of the painting process was outlining each symbol in black. Wherever there was a transition from one color to the next, I painted a black line. I feel like this keeps it looking authentic and instantly makes it look neater. I used the smallest brush pictured above and it really helped me keep the lines uniform in size. Just for contrast here is what a canvas looked like without the black outline.

DIY Superhero Canvases | Ladybrook Crescent

And again, here is the finished product. Once they were all dry, I took them outside and sprayed them with some clear gloss spray paint I’ve had for ages. This helps protect the canvases since the paint has a very flat finish and will easily scuff. Hopefully this also helps repel dust. I imagine you could use Mod Podge for this as well.

DIY Superhero Canvases | Ladybrook Crescent

I’m so pleased with how they turned out. And a certain son of mine is too. He was my sidekick the whole time I painted them, watching me closely and asking questions. And making sure that I knew which color went where. He also deliberated for quite some time over their arrangement. Luckily, they are just hanging up with a couple nails so he can easily rearrange them if he decides that they aren’t in the ‘right’ place. (And no, I didn’t paint the Hulk canvas in the middle. That was a Home Sense find that I thought was just too awesome to pass up!)

DIY Superhero Canvases | Ladybrook Crescent

I love that these were a really inexpensive way to add lots of personality and color to the space. And the great thing is that the idea can totally be adapted to paint whatever your hear desires!


Forward Facing Bookshelves

>> Monday, September 1, 2014

We are jumping next to our older boys shared bedroom for a quick project that I absolutely love! I haven’t shared much yet about their room but it is pretty fun! When we started shuffling their rooms, I was a little nervous to have our boys sleeping in the basement, away from us. But I was excited for the possibilities of making this room really fun. Our second son, Landon, just loves superheroes. And he wanted a superhero bedroom. So that’s what he’s got. We worked on a few bigger projects (sneak peak on the right of that picture below) but we really needed some functionality. When we moved the older boys downstairs, we left their bookshelf in their old room for Nash to use. I hung an old IKEA frame ledge beside each of their beds for them to place their bedtime reading and a drink but they still had a lot more books with no home.

Ever since I saw these forward facing bookshelves online, I knew they were something I wanted for their room. Especially because most of the books they are reading these days don’t have a substantial enough spine to tell what book it is. There were so many books that we just weren’t reading, simply because they forgot they were there. Enter this simple, but fantastically practical solution.

Forward Facing Bookshelves | Ladybrook Crescent
I basically followed Ana White’s tutorial. I knew I didn’t want to spend much money so I went with basic pine boards. I used a 1 x 4 for the back and bottom of each shelf and a 1 x 2 for the front. Each shelf is 2 feet long so I was able to use the whole 8 foot board. They cost me less than $15 in wood and screws, which I was pretty happy with. I had them cut the boards down at the store but when I got home, I found they were pretty uneven so I used my miter saw to even them up. I gave them each a quick sand with my orbital sander, wiped them down and laid them out on my kitchen counter to paint.

Forward Facing Bookshelves | Ladybrook Crescent
I painted them grey, an ‘oops’ color I had picked up for another project in their room and just gave all the boards one quick coat on each side. Since I was using cheaper wood, I knew I would never get a perfect finish and decided to embrace their rustic-ness. Besides, with two boys using them daily, they wouldn’t stay pristine for long.

Forward Facing Bookshelves | Ladybrook Crescent
After painting, I assembled them, following Ana’s directions. I predrilled and screwed the bottom board to the back with 1 1/2” screws and then used my brad nailer with 2” finishing nails for the front pieces. Then I figured out the placement I wanted (they ended up being 12” apart), found studs, and screwed right through the back of each shelf.

Forward Facing Bookshelves | Ladybrook Crescent
I’m super happy with how they turned out! I did the whole project in less than a day, while doing all my regular mom duties with three kids around so they were definitely a quick and easy project. I love things that can be completed in one day! And my boys sure are pleased to see all those books they have forgotten about. Just the look on Tyler’s face was enough to make this project worth it. That boys loves his books!

Forward Facing Bookshelves | Ladybrook Crescent

I can’t wait to share more projects in this fun superhero bedroom. Stay tuned!


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