Saturday, March 17, 2018

Upcycling Baby Toys You Probably Have Lying Around....

Unless you already donated it.. in which case, I'm sorry... but you can pass this along to your friends to do the same!

So when the whole geometric trend started showing up on everyone's shelves about 3 years ago (that's when I noticed it, I may be behind the trend... wouldn't put it past me...), I really wanted one!  Something gold and geometric would look so great on my books!  But when you have kids and are cheap like me, you kinda have to weigh the opportunity cost of money in my pocket right now versus having a wonderful design piece that will ultimately and most likely get destroyed by your kids...

As I was surveying all the baby toys that were put away to be taken out again when I had my fourth (and last) child the end of 2016, I started to see potential in some of the baby toys we had.  Specifically, the Manhattan Toy toys!  Their Skwish classic rattle and teether had been gifted to me from a coworker before I had my first child.  She said this was, "the best toy ever" and I believed her.  My son LOVED it, he would watch the attached wood go from one end of the stick to the other, all while grasping onto the elastic parts, and admiring the colorful sounds.  My firstborn was also lucky enough to get some pretty nice gifts from Aunties who visited, specifically my BFF who knew nothing about kids, but went perusing in a Manhattan Beach boutique for a special toy for my son.  The saleslady told her the Manhattan Toy's winkel rattle and sensory teether was top of the line, so she bought it.  Both toys retail for about $13-15 on Amazon, but purchased from any boutique, is normally $20-25.  My son loved it again!  This one has softer loops he could hold onto and a more prominent rattle in the red dice that sat in the middle of the cloister.  And to be honest, all my kids enjoyed these two Manhattan Toy classics, which is why, I knew, as soon as baby was done playing with it, I would do my upcycle project.

I could already see it.  Gold spray paint.  Gold tights while I painted it (I own a pair... seriously).  Short sprays.  Lots of layers.  Ohhh, the build-up was intense.  I could NOT wait!

To be honest, I had forgotten about the two toys in all my recent decluttering and organizing frenzy, and though I had already spray painted a bunch of stuff recently, I hadn't yet done the Manhattan Toys!  As we were getting ready to move our boys downstairs to the basement, I found the two toys, and put them aside, excited for the prospect of spraying it gold!

I'll be honest.  It was not easy.  It took about 7 coats because the angle to get around each piece of wood and loop, as well as the sliding wood pieces on the Skwish classic, all made it hard.  But give up I did not, and a gold display piece I did get!

I think looking at the photo of it, you wouldn't even recognize that it's a children's play toy.  The bright colors are gone, the geometric shape is still intact, and it's a lovely trendy gold.  Gold!!!    So if you have any of these two Manhattan Toy toys, hang onto them, and do yourself a favor once your kids are done with them... spray paint them gold!  Upcycle win!  For less than $4 (the price of a can of spray paint), I got two amazing pieces!

Pro Tip: use gloves if you don't want a little sparkle on your fingertips, it washes off pretty easily if treated immediately.  

Here are my two Manhattan toys before the spray paint fun. 

I had to move the little balls and spray paint from all sorts of corners to get every nook and cranny. But I did it!  Virutal HIGH FIVE!!


Next project: use that clear liquid I bought four years ago to solidify fake water and freeze my fake flowers from the Dollar Tree .... 

So what do you think?  What color are you going to spray paint your toys?  Gold?  Rose Gold? Copper?  I think I may be in the mood for some copper upcycling next week, so stay tuned!  

Friday, March 16, 2018

Weekly Planner Printable

I got this wonderful planner for 2018 that I have been using this month and have been loving it!  The only part that is bugging me is how heavy it is since it has pages for every single day with a week's worth for the entire year.  It also isn't great to take along with you for a grocery trip with kids because it's so bulky and my diaper bag is already packed with so much, and of course.. four kids... usually only 2 during grocery trips if I can help it, but sometimes I can't!

As a result, I created this worksheet planner, feel free to print it and use it as well!  It's a bit different than most available printables because it's for someone who is super busy, in my case, because of my kids.  I like to plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner, because with kids, if I plan stuff for myself, it's a lot healthier, and not feeding my kids chicken nuggets or ramen everyday for lunch is probably a good thing.  I also put activities because with all the stuff going on from week to week,  it's just nice to have a week's glance on paper.  Lastly, my "To Do" section is because sometimes there's just stuff I have to add that isn't menu or grocery list related, and I wanted somewhere to jot it all down, sort of like a "notes" area.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Both Sides of the Shower Door

There are a few things I'm good at cleaning consistently, those include the bathroom toilet, floors, and kitchen sink and dining table.  Everything else falls to the wayside.  I've been staring at our bathroom shower door for months now, wondering when I would take a stab at removing the soap scum.  It took a blog post from a blogger I follow to finally decide to tackle the shower doors with some natural cleaning ingredients.  As I was scrubbing the doors with my 50/50 vinegar and hot water mixture with some lemon drops, I realized... hmmm maybe I should be treating the outside of the shower door too.  I have never done that, in all my years (okay the two, maybe three times I did it) of cleaning the shower door, I've never attempted to clean the outside.  So ... I did it this time! 

There are still some areas that need further treatment, but it's definitely a huge improvement.  Drastic, dare I even say.  ....

Crazy!  I guess all it takes is a bit of elbow grease and the right natural ingredients, and recognizing that you have to scrub both sides. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

What I've Learned After 4 Weeks

So I've always been an organized person... but after having four kids and seeing that I kind of let myself from an organizational and cleanliness standpoint.... I decided to make a commitment and get back on track.  Much like when people commit to a new gym, a new diet, and start to eat healthier, I decided to push myself to clean and organize by starting an Instagram account to track my progress and visualize my results.  I started following other like minded individuals and accounts that focused on organizing and cleaning to gain inspiration and ideas, and thus began my journey to get from "crappy2happy" (also the Instagram handle in case you fancy a whirl). 

So it's been a little over a month and here are the three things I've learned from organizing and cleaning with a dedicated Instagram account.

1) Real Life Is Messy - Some gorgeous accounts show how all beautiful containers and perfectly placed items can be organized and look absolutely amazing.  Most of these are professional accounts with the intention to book a client to pay for organizing, or someone selling organizational products.  The others might be professional bloggers who have a fiscal opportunity to sell you what looks great.  Don't be fooled by these.  Instead, let them be a source of inspiration!  If I tried to model my tiny pantry to look like the professional accounts I see, I would not only spend TOO MUCH, I wouldn't be able to keep up.  One trip to Costco, and my organizational prowess would be wiped clean.  So I try to think of ways I can model after the realistic organizational approaches, and which I decide are just nice to look at, because real life is messy.  I mean, really really messy, and organization and cleanliness can help you get to a better place quicker, but it is still a process of constant maintenance and to do that, requires time and effort, which we don't always have the energy to focus on! 

2) Less is More - Along the way in my short journey, I've begun following a lot of minimalist accounts.  Though I in NO SHAPE OR FORM consider myself a minimalist, I am again inspired by these accounts.  I can see why not having clutter is appealing.  Why fewer clothes is easier to handle.  Why less stuff on your kitchen counter is great!  So far, I've donated about 4 boxes of clothes, 3 boxes of random household and office items, thrown away 2 bags full of old or expired toiletries, and 3 boxes of toys.  It has been hard to let go.  I have already had giver remorse (is that what it's called?) twice, once when I threw away some laser jet clear labels (because we don't own a laser jet printer and I can't just use my work printer anymore because I don't have a place of work to go to!) and velcro stickers.  The former I could have used a permanent marker and made labels for my fridge bins, the latter I could have used one side to put onto a small toy cookie sheet for the kids to stick cookies onto!  Ugh.  But then, I reminded myself that it's only a small $10 cost.  See, the problem with going from maximist to minimalist is when you're cheap, you can't fathom giving useful stuff away, even if the use is WAY DOWN THE LINE.  But then, if you're already a minimalist, you can likely stay one if you're cheap, because you don't want to spend more money to buy stuff.  If only I were already there.... Okay, I digress.  So back in college, I always considered myself a "neat" person, but my roommate, she was beyond me.  I couldn't figure out why her side of the room always looked so good, or why her desk was so immaculate.  I asked her about it one day, and she took one look at my side, then hers, and said, I try to keep everything clear.  I looked at her desk.  One item on it, and I'm pretty sure it was not always there.  Then, my own desk.  Neatly arranged piles and placed items, along with my favorite photos or collages all over the wall.  From her, I learned to contain my stuff and choose a few things to display.  Less is more.  I've learned this with styling my shelves, clearing my counters, and looking at the overflow of clothes in my closet.  Right now, I'm leaving the closet for last because there's just so much I can't quite let go of just yet. 

3) Organization Doesn't Have to Be Expensive - I have found so many ways to upcycle glass jars, plastic buckets, and Amazon boxes.  Sure, it's not always the prettiest to have matching containers for everything, but that's expensive, and I'm cheap!  You can find really cheap containers are the Dollar Tree, TJMaxx, and even Target and Walmart (on sale is even better at those last two places).  Sticking to one color for an area helps to achieve a more cohesive and organized look, but within most areas, sticking to white or translucent is even better, because if you choose to later reorganize your containers, they will all match or look similar. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Dollar Tree Is My Jam

I think I have gone to Dollar Tree, on average, about 3 times a week for the three weeks.  It has been a whirlwind of a budget saving, organize doing, decluttering and minimalist wannabe journey, and so far I am HAVING A BLAST!  The best thing about this hobby is that it directly benefits my home, my place of being for MOST of the day (when I'm not carpooling), and it's reminded me a bit of who I used to be and not so much abandoned, but kind of left at the wayside and said, I'll be back to pick you up, but then forgot about it because life got busy with four kids.  Sure, it's a little more work with upkeep when four little cute monsters are trailing after you, but it's also that much more imperative that I do it to stay sane.

I know a lot of people have these similar feeling as it relates to getting back into something they left behind when they had kids.  Here's a little secret about me though... I don't have any long-term hobbies, unless getting new hobbies counts as a hobby.  Oh, and writing, but I've never really stopped writing.  Yes, yes, I do like working out, but I didn't get really serious about it until 2008.  Yes, yes, I do love making cakes now, but that's a super recent interest, and I really only make cakes for birthdays in the family.  Yes, yes, I did learn Photoshop, but that was again recent... well I guess the last 5 years, so it's been a while now.  Yes, yes, I do like to eat, but we are more coupon loving eating out type of people, so we haven't explored beyond much of our savings books lately.  But organizing and cleaning... just in this little bit that I've been doing, has already got me reminiscing about my old school Japanese pre-daisy married with kids type stores that I would frequent to load up on storage, and just kind of life took over.  Organizing is probably the one thing I have been doing my entire life.. since I was a wee little one.  That and rearranging furniture....

I took a look at my old storage containers, and they are all opaque whites and purples, glitter speckled clear cases, and pink.  It's hilarious because I can't even buy those kinds of storage containers now because where would I get them from?!  I'm so glad I revisited an old passion, and had to learn the hard way that organizing is not something you do once, you have to revisit, monitor, update, etc.  I guess much like everything else in life... but it's been fun and I can't wait to see what the rest of Spring Cleaning brings me.  I already have grand plans for listing out the areas I want to clean.... the vents, the window sills (if that's what you call the area between our old school two layer storm windows), the fans, the oven, the tiny teenie crevices, the kitchen cabinets, the dining table and chairs, etc.... I'm sure I'll think of more as the time comes around.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Car Epiphany

Growing up, I remember my yi-ma and her clean and organized home.  When I opened her cabinets to find a towel, everything was not only neatly folded and in its place, but there were labeled storage containers with pills and band-aids, and all sorts of orderly identified items.  It was mesmerizing.  I was hooked.  However, I remember being a little intimidated in her car because it was so immaculate, and we were not allowed to eat in there. 

Fast forward to life with three kids, and our car was a cess pool of goldfish crumbs, conjoined fruit snacks, spoiled milk, and random toys in knick knacks corners I never knew even existed in cars!  Who knew a car could have so much space for crap?!  Alas, it seemed all the parents we knew were in the same boat. 

And then it happened.  We had a car epiphany.  Well, first we heard Andy's sister had a no eating in the car rule.  We were floored.  And intrigued.  And in order to keep up with them, we opted to join in!  It was hard at first, definitely a drastic change from stuffing our kids full of snacks whenever they whined.  Plus, I never imagined I would be a "no eating in the car" type of adult, but I make exceptions and it's been...  a year and a half, and it has been amazing.  Our car is still messy, but not as bad as it would be if we allowed eating.  We definitely make exceptions, but if we didn't have the no eating rule, it would be even worse.  As I was doing yet another sock retrieval from the van, I realized there are a few things I do for van upkeep, which is hilarious since the van is still disgusting.  Just NOT as disgusting as it would be without.  Trash into a bag pretty much everyday, sock and toy retrieval once every few days, and when time permits, we get over to the car wash (Dagny hates the carwash so we barely go these days) and vacuum too.  I think we'll do that tomorrow while Dagny's at school. The only reason I even want to share this is to remind my kids and encourage my friends to try a no eating rule also.  It's doable!  I mean, if we can do it, anyone can! 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Taking Back Control

So life has mostly been the same, but I got a new hobby.  I know, I know, I feel like I have so many hobbies.  Five years ago, I learned how to do Photoshop.  About four years ago, I decided to continue my college thesis and try to write a book about my experiences with my Chinese Mom.  That's still going on, but sort of on the side (here), whenever an experience or idea pops into my head, but a lot of it is so emotional, it can be draining sometimes to revisit those memories or navigate the sometimes strained but still loving relationship with my mom.  We are both difficult, I'm sure.  And I did finish my Chinese children's book about the Chinese Zodiac, and submitted it to one publisher, but probably need to just submit it to a few more before I give up and self-publish it (need an illustrator though!).  And I began learning how to make cakes last Fall, because I figured it'd be a good way to save some money since with six people in the family, that's a lot of cake each year!  It's been kind of a fun way to learn a new skill, and I've had varying levels of success, but it's pretty involved and not something I want to do all the time.  So I guess what I'm trying to justify is that my various hobbies have some sort of progress before I come up with a new one, because I got a new one!  I've been thinking so long about how I can do something what what I love, and now, I am on the journey to doing just that!

At 35, without a full-time job, and being at home with my four kids, and having a lot of energy (never caffeinated, even before I became Mormon), I just needed to put that energy somewhere I wanted.  I have always loved organizing, since I was a kid.  I remember going over to my friend's house, and I would just start to clean her room, but really I was just putting stuff away, and I loved it.  I never dusted or vacuumed her room, I do like cleaning, but not as much as I like organizing!  I just like it when things have a place they belong, and figuring out where that is.... but I've kind of let myself go since having four kids, so now I'm slowly picking up the pieces and organizing and cleaning out a lot of clutter and junk that we've accumulated in the short four years that we've lived in this home.  It's been SO MUCH FUN so far, and I am having a blast!  So I think I will come back and do some printables, utilizing my new Photoshop skills, and I might even make some videos because Andy got a new video camera and he's been using it to do some video compilations for our family history.  I'm on Instagram so far, but nothing more, and I can't wait to see where this hobby goes.  If nothing, my home will be cleaner and more orderly for it!  My handle was thought of by my friend Jess, so grateful she came up with something clever!  See what I'm up to here: Instagram account link