Letter Magnets

We have officially started redecorating our boys’ room by adding some pops of sunny yellow, including this magnet board.

I love the magnet board, but not the ugly plastic letters.  Fortunately, I found this great tutorial at Nice Girl Notes detailing how to create pretty magnet letters.  What a fantastic (and cheap!) idea!  Using the tutorial as my starting point, I headed off to Hobby Lobby to buy my supplies.

At Hobby Lobby, I found 2 inch round wooden discs for $3.99 per pack of 22.  I chose to use plain green and aqua acrylic paints, rather than spray painting my circles.  I bought 44 discs and decided to make 3 of each vowel, so I removed 15.  Then, I painted the remaining discs aqua on all sides.  The paint dries quickly, so I applied another coat. 

I knew I wanted to incorporate both green and blue, so I made the vowels green, figuring the boys would learn their vowels easier if they were different.  After painting the aqua, I mixed up my green.  I couldn’t find the exact green I had in mind, so I added some white to get the right color.  Once I had my color, I painted all sides of the 15 reserved discs green. 

The tutorial used rub-on transfer letters, but I couldn’t find a font I liked.  Yes, I am very picky.  Instead, I used a pencil to draw the letters, keeping them roughly the same size.  Then, using chocolate-brown paint and a fine tipped brush, I traced over my penciled lines. 

I didn’t have time to look for magnet strips while at Hobby Lobby, so Ben picked up a roll of adhesive-backed magnet from Lowe’s.  Simply cut the roll into 3/4 inch or so pieces, remove the backing and place on the back, pressing firmly to attach.  I considered using Gorilla glue, but the adhesive seems to stick pretty well, so I’ll glue if any magnets fall off. 

Vincent started playing with his new magnets, but quickly scuffed them up.  Luckily, I had a jar of glossy Mod Podge on hand, so I quickly gave the front side of each magnet two coats.  Worked like a charm.

Don’t the new magnets look so much better than the plastic ones?  Better than the looks, this project was cheap and easy-just the way I like ’em.  Even better?  Vincent loves to play with them. 

This is not in the photos, but we had a toy mail box from Target’s dollar department that I glued magnets to.  It’s the perfect holder for the magnets!

Oh, Baby! Clutter?

A few weeks ago, I touched on the subject of storing toys, but I’m back to give a few more tips, specifically baby related.  How can someone so small have so much junk stuff?  Clothes, blankets, baby bathtub, car seat, and toys!

Tip number 1:  Stick to the basics and necessities.  Let me start this off by telling you my little secret.  When Vincent was an infant, we received a hand me down swing and bouncer seat from relatives.  I think V used each item once in his first month, so I donated them.  He didn’t seem to mind.  If your baby never uses these items, he or she can’t miss having them.  There are so many baby items being manufactured today that we never had as children, and we’re fine.  I mean seriously, wipe warmers?  By sticking to the essentials, you’ll have minimal baby junk to store.

I think an infant bathtub is an essential, so we keep ours in Everett’s side of the closet.  Of course, he won’t use it forever, but it is so helpful.  It’s relatively convenient to get it when preparing for a bath, seeing as we have to get an outfit, too. 

Hang clothes and not fold.  If you have floorspace, add a dresser to hold toys and smaller items. 

Tip number 2.  If you have the space, go vertically with your storage.  The cubes in the closet were designed to hold shoes, but it turns out they are the perfect solution for storing diapers in storage totes.  If you can’t build cubes, add a hanging shoe organizer, like this one.  Get smaller items up and off the floor to make room for larger, harder to store items. 

Tip number 3.  Utilize under the bed storage.  Don’t let valuable floor space go to waste under a bed.  Buy totes to store clothes, toys or bedding to free up closet space.  Vincent actually has a fleet of Tonka trucks and blocks stored under Everett’s crib.

Tip number 4.  Buy tons of clear storage bins.  Store larger clothes in clear bins with labels so you can see what you have.  This will keep everything at hand, so you can quickly swap items out when the seasons change or baby gets bigger.  We know they grow so quickly.  Once you have a bin of too small clothes, label it and you can put it in the garage or basement to keep it out of the main storage areas. 

Tip number 5.  Don’t be afraid to store some items in more conveniently located closets.  Store the car seat and diaper bag in the entry closet along with your shoes and purse.  You know you’ll need the car seat when you’ll also need your purse, so keep it close. 

The car seat is in clear view, but you can see the very bottom of the diaper bag on the upper shelf. 

Some baby toys are awkward to store, so we keep those in our guest bedroom closet, which is just off the main living room.  It keeps it out-of-the-way, but close by.

If you have a linen closet, keep baby blankets, sheets, burp cloths, towels, etc. along with everyday items.  Storing some items in more logical closets will free up some nursery closet space, leaving room for toys! 

Tip number 6.  Choose items that can easily fold or be disassembled.  Both of our boys love(d) the Graco jumper.  I allow it because it doesn’t take up much space when it is out.

When it isn’t in use, we easily slide it over to the side.

If we have company, we pull the jumper off and slide it under the guest bed. 

So, there you have it.  These storage methods have worked for us, but I want to know what you do.  I do plan to cover some kitchen ideas, too, so keep reading.

Craft Day

It has been unbearably hot the past few weeks.  By no means am I an outdoors kind of girl, so, we have worked on a few craft projects lately. 

I recently saw a great pantry overhaul that I fell in love with.  Especially the patterned walls.  To bring some life and pattern to our entertainment center, I painted the same quatrefoil pattern on a magazine file.  I simply printed the stencil and used a xacto knife to cut it out.  Then, I traced the pattern the painted file and filled it in.  It took some time, but I think it adds much-needed life to the space.

I have meant to make a terrarium for months now, and finally got around to it.  We had some moss growing on our back patio, so I dug it up.  I had a few apothecary jars already, so I placed a few rocks in the bottom and added my moss.  Because no terrarium is complete with out small critters, I bought some polymer clay.  Then I shaped the clay into birds and a squirrel and inserted wire in the base.  Following the instructions, I baked for my animals for 20 minutes and let them dry.  Now for the fun part, painting.  To add color, I used plain acrylic paints from Michael’s.  After a few base coats, I was ready to start adding details.  Add a few eyes, wings, beaks and noses and I had a set of animals for my terrarium.

I’ll post pictures of the terrariums soon, but I still have a few things to finish.

I hope to change out some items in our boys’ room to add some color.  To start things off, I updated Ev’s bird mobile.  I reused the light blue birds, but made new green and yellow birds to give it a new look.   

You can easily make your own bird mobile; go here for a tutorial.  Have you done any craft projects recently?

Weekend Painting: Magnet Board

We’re in painting moods lately!  Last weekend, we repainted our dining room and over this past weekend, a little more painting took place.  On Saturday, I painted a magnet board for Vincent’s room. 

Before I had my office in the basement, I was using our little desk upstairs to run my stationery shop.  I used this board to keep papers and track my current orders.  Now that I have a magnetic backsplash, Vincent needs this board more than I do.  He has been using the side of the refrigerator to play with his alphabet letters, but many of the letters get kicked under.  Enter, the new magnet board.  Here it was before I painted.

I picked up Valspar’s  Bumblebee Spray paint to use on the frame and used a can of flat white spray paint to paint the metal.

I made a little set up of 5 gallon buckets outside and got ready to paint.

Pass about 10 minutes and I had one coat on the steel and frame.

After letting everything dry for several hours, I popped the steel back in the frame and hung it in the boys’ room.  Vincent loves having this in his room and has proudly displayed some of his art.

I do have some more painting to do, so stay tuned for that.

How To: Store Toys

We have two boys under the age of three with grandparents, aunts and uncles that spoil them rotten.  That means we have a ton of toys.  Fortunately for us, we have created custom built in cabinets to hide most of their toys, books and diapers.

I’m still searching for the right size, cheap but durable storage bins to house V’s toys in this cabinet, but for now, it’s okay.

This red metal bin holds up to V’s abuse and it contains most of his stuffed animals.  After all, three-foot tall Mickey and Minnie cannot fit in a small bin. 

We don’t keep all the toys in one area, as they are hauled all around the house anyway.  We have some toys stored in the Man Cave entertainment center.  Once the doors are finished, the mess will be hidden away, similar to our living room built-in.

V has some larger Tonka trucks, which are stored under Ev’s crib, hidden by the crib skirt. 

Basically, we don’t have a lot of baby/toy clutter because I refuse to keep large baby items like swings, bouncer seats, and exersaucers in the house.  I also go through the toys somewhat regularly and throw out or donate broken or unused toys.  It also helps to send noisy, annoying toys to grandma. 

One major tip I can offer is to use closets and space under the bed.  Keep items in bins labeled by size to organize items such as children’s out grown or too big clothes.