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Family Dinner

If you have little ones at home, you know that getting everyone to sit down at the table at the same time can feel next to impossible at times … let alone getting everyone to eat something (healthy)! I do think, however, that a bit of humor and a smidgen of extra fun at the table can make dinnertime a more pleasant experience for all involved. For example…

Fun finds for family dinner

Just about any food placed on this triceratops cake stand would make a kid smile.

Fun finds for family dinner

For picky don’t-let-my-food-touch-any-other-food kids, how about a cafeteria-style dinner tray?

Fun finds for family dinner

And when you crave a fancy dinner party, but know the good china will only get dropped and chipped, why not pull out a set of these gorgeous scalloped (unbreakable!) wood chargers, instead?

Come see the rest of my top 20 picks for the family dinner table on Houzz!

(Cake plate from the MoMA store; dinner tray from Schoolhouse Electric; wooden charger from Terrain)


Follow Your Bliss Friday

Follow Your Bliss Friday

Happy Friday! It’s that time again — time to grab a cup of something yummy to drink, and give yourself the gift of a smidgen of time to pursue something important to you. Today’s FYBF is short and sweet, because I have an assignment to give you. It’s about finding some gratitude for things just as they are right now. I’m planning to do this for myself, too, and I will post about it next week!

Creative Assignment #1:

Spend at least 10 minutes straight examining what you love about your home right now. It could be anything from the objects in your home, to the color of a wall, the scent of blooms outside your window, or the sound of your child’s laughter echoing down the hall. If you like to write, write about it. If you are a photographer, do a photo essay. If you are an illustrator, draw your favorite room. If you like to talk, make a podcast! The point is both to tap into feelings of gratitude and rightness with your life where it is right now, and to flex your creative muscle. And have fun!

(image: Home of Jen and Mark on Apartment Therapy)


Let’s Talk About Photo Organizing + Scrapbooking

Let me begin this by saying oy vey! I have a backlog of digital photos oh, about five years long, just sitting there, taking up all of the memory in my computer. I very rarely print photos, and aside from a few halfhearted attempts at sorting them into online albums, and the few books I have made to give family members, I have done nothing with them. And that’s sad! If you are in the same boat, read on — and if you are super organized about your photos, please just skip to the Comments section and give me some advice!

A Beautiful Mess - Scrapbooking

The thing is, I remember the time before owning a digital camera, when I would actually print all of my photos, physically sort through them, and put the good ones in albums. I loved getting to relive the moments of my life through the photographs, and reminisce with my family about big trips, and smaller, everyday moments. Without those printed photos, it’s just not the same. I want to change that, so I’ve been doing some research and I think I’ve found some good resources and ideas, which I will share here … you know, in case I am not the only one in the universe to avoid organizing and printing my photos.

First, I must point you to A Beautiful Mess, which you’ve probably already heard of, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock, this is a blog run by two delightful and supremely talented sisters named Elsie and Emma. I have featured some of their photos (of photos) in this post to hopefully inspire and motivate my self (and perhaps you, too?) to actually get off my butt and do something about my photo situation.

A Beautiful Mess - ScrapbookingA Beautiful Mess - Scrapbooking

As an organized person, the thought of a jumble of different types of albums cluttering up my shelves makes me shudder a little (laugh if you want, but it’s true), so I think it’s important for me to settle on a single type and size of book that will work for me. Now, I could just order ready made books online from iphoto or blurb, but honestly, even those just don’t have quite the same appeal as printed photos in an album. Do you know what I mean? They are nice, very nice even, but not quite as personal.

Amanda Soule, aka Soule Mama, wrote a wonderfully detailed post a while back about her system for organizing her digital photos, and then printing them and putting them in albums, which I highly recommend reading if you are looking for a system of your own. Basically, she sits down once a month to sort through the images she has taken that month and stored on an external hard drive, deletes bad shots, and tags and rates the ones she will keep using Lightroom. The rating system is genius: two stars means print! How easy is that? Then she uses an online printing service to print that month’s “best of” and puts them into identical albums.

A Beautiful Mess - Scrapbooking

Amanda, Elsie, and Emma all use mostly photos in their scrapbooks, which I love. A note here and there is a lovely touch, and I could even see using some beautiful scrapbooking paper or cute labels from time to time, but I would be wary of anything too elaborate … then I would probably just get overwhelmed and give up!

So, now it’s your turn: Do you print your photos? Make photo books? Scrap albums? What’s your method for sorting and organizing digital photos, or are you a total and complete mess in this department, like me? Spill the beans!

(all images: A Beautiful Mess)


Decluttering Help

If you have been reading this blog, or following my work on Houzz for any amount of time, I’m sure you know I am a big believer in decluttering. There is simply no way to ever get “organized” without paring back and offloading some of the excess things you’ve been allowing to take up space in your home. But you know what is even more powerful? Learning some tools to help prevent clutter from entering your home in the first place.

Shift Interiors

After going through the same process of sorting through and purging my belongings dozens of times over the years, a few truths have begun to dawn on me. Truth no. 1: Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you have to take it. This was honestly the easiest one for me personally to implement. Now, whenever I am offered a “free” shirt/plastic cup/magnet/whatever, I politely decline and go on my merry way, happy I will not have to stare at said item for however many months it takes me to get the guts to chuck (or recycle or donate) it.

Shift Interiors

Truth no. 2 is quite a bit harder: If it’s not perfect for you, don’t buy it. This is the truth I am having the hardest time with. But I am learning. I’m learning not to settle for just okay. Because if my home is going to be free of clutter, what I do have I want to be just right! Right? Thinking back to some of the (many) items I have donated to charity or sold at yard sales and on Craigslist over the years, most were things that I knew right from the beginning weren’t quite right for me, but I bought them anyway. I’m learning it’s far better to wait, even if that means going without something for a while, and taking the time to save up a bit more money for the item I really want, than indulging in an impulse purchase.

Shift Interiors

And last but not least, we have truth no. 3: Just because it was a gift doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. Your duty as the recipient of a gift is to warmly accept it with gratitude, and thank the person for being so generous with their thoughts, time, and resources. But if you don’t like the item, it is okay to let it go. I’m personally not a big fan of re-gifting (I don’t judge, it’s just not for me), but if I do not want or need something I was given, I generally keep it for a short time and then give it away. Do I feel totally okay about this? No! Of course it feels weird — but I remind myself that the gift was given with love, and was meant to make me happy. So if I know it will make me happier to give it away than to keep it, that’s what I do nine times out of ten. (Hey, I’m not perfect.)

Shift Interiors

I wrote about this topic recently on Houzz — the article is called 5 Ways to Pare Down Your Stuff — Before It Gets in the Door, and it has really struck a chord with readers. There are 200+ comments and counting! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic: do you regift? Give away things you were given? Have a problem walking past the Target decor aisle without shoving at least one unneeded item in your cart? Spill the beans!

The lovely images featured here are from Shift Interiors — their website is currently being updated, but you can view their Houzz profile here. Looking at beautiful, uncluttered spaces like these is great motivation to me to keep clutter out of my own home. :-)


Let’s Get Organized with Chalkboard Calenders!

Well, my little guy is starting preschool today (I can’t believe next year will be kindergarten…) and I am thinking up some ways to get myself motivated to face a pile of work (as fun as it is…I’m not complaining!) after the lazy days of summer. And honestly, while I adored our beach days, flea market jaunts, and camping, I can’t wait to get some fall started around here. Fall is the best!

Chalkboard Wall Calendars

At the top of my get-stuff-organized list this fall is my workspace. I am swapping out my old desk (really an old kitchen table) for a DIY double-width desk using some simple Ikea sawhorse legs. And above the double desk I would love to put a giant chalkboard calendar. Above is a pretty version from photographer Hannah Lemholt for Love Warriors (via April and May). It looks like a blank canvas of the sort used for educational posters, with half used as a mood board and the other half painted with chalkboard squares for each day of the week (plus an extra for next week).

Chalkboard Wall Calendars

Or what about using chalkboard calendar stickers on a charcoal gray wall, as in the home of Milly Goodwin and David Cleveland featured on Design Sponge? The tone-on-tone look is unexpected and chic, don’t you think?

Chalkboard Wall Calendars Chalkboard Wall Calendars

A big wall calendar in the kitchen is smart for families — I like this DIY version from Jen Loves Kev. You simply mark out the calendar squares using painter’s tape, and fill in with chalkboard paint. Not only is it cheaper to DIY, in this case it gives you lots more options, too. You can make your calendar as large as you want, use colored chalk paint, or even do two months instead of just one.Chalkboard Wall Calendars

Here is a great example of a wall-size calendar from HGTV — I love the idea of using painted wooden letters from the craft store to label the days of the week. Chalkboard Wall Calendars

And another with wooden letters from Country Living. In this version, the homeowner used paper tags to write out the numbers — I’m guessing they are hanging from slim nails or hooks. Chalkboard Wall Calendars

If you are looking to buy, Ferm Living has a few options, including this slim weekly planner. This would be great for helping kids keep track of which activities they have on each day.

DIY Navy Chalkboard Wall - Tatertots & JelloChalkboard Wall Calendars

And over at Tatertots & Jello I spied this lovely chalkboard calendar. It’s on a navy chalkboard wall base, which is a nice twist, don’t you think? Rather than painting chalkboard squares, she used white painter’s tape to create the grid, and added vinyl letter stickers and a scalloped edge that she created using a silhouette cutter (but I’m thinking you could probably find something similar — and ready made — on Etsy).

Would you try a chalkboard wall calendar? Of the ones shown here, which is your favorite?

First Day of PreschoolP.S. — There is my munchkin on his first day of preschool! I asked him what he wanted to wear on his first day, and he said “something colorful!”…so there you go! xo Laura

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