Playroom Storage

Remember when I emptied out the playroom for Olivia's party? It's still mostly empty...two weeks later! This is proving two things to me. One is that my kids truly do have too much stuff and the other is that I am SO lazy! I mean, honestly, all the toys are in my upper hallway and I'm just walking around them each morning? (which is especially sad, because that hallway is the one place I would really like to work on...I have an idea I really like for the space!)

So this morning, I did a little web searching for some inspiration. I know the room already has a lot going on with the painted walls in there, but if this purge/reorganization is going to work (and stay clean & reorganized), I'm going to need help with a system!

Isn't this cute? Unfortunately this kind of set-up leaves no room for the playroom to become a baseball field when Jack can't get outside.

{via Land of Nod}

I love the airy feel of this one (or maybe I'm just completely obsessed with the paper poof?).

{via flickr}

This one is sparking ideas for our old house! This set-up would have been perfect there. Think I should forward it to them?

{via flickr}

My party-planning might scream otherwise, but I'm not a big fan of themes in rooms. I mean I kind of am (like the big kids room has book pages framed around the room), but not when it goes so far that it excludes things from the room. I guess I'm kind of a "decorate as you go" kind of person (as things come into my life that I think are cool, I make them work) as opposed to a "get it all done and then never change it" kind of person. Anyway, I had to include this room due to a little ladybug girl I know who would absolutely love this!

{via hgtv}

And on to another theme room...I love the beachy look of this, as well as the very organized shelves. However, I'm pretty sure it would take Olivia about 10 minutes to decimate those buckets and wreck the clean feel (in every sense of the word) it has now!

{via pottery barn kids}

I think what I'm learning is that I'm going to have to go up the walls with storage options and...

{via flickr}

I need to get my booty to IKEA. Pronto! For something like this (they even have a wall-mount version)...

and to explore the possibilities a bit! I need the perfect storage option so that the baby can still get into her toys and the big kids can protect theirs! Brilliant ideas accepted in comment form!

{via flickr}

P.S. Anybody want to watch a couple gorgeous, but mischievous, girls while I shop?

Paper Bag Book

Did you know you can make a really cool book from flat paper bags? The finished product is super cute and has lots of room to personalize any way you like, as well as fun pockets you can tuck note cards, photos, keepsakes, etc. into.

I originally spotted this idea here and I love Melissa, her blog, and her amazingly crafty kids. I hope as my kids grow up they still like to craft with me too! Anyway, they created this paper bag book as a Valentine for her daughter's friend, but I have already used them a couple different ways (and have been dreaming up more possibilities too!).

And the best part is that they are relatively simple to make. So simple, that I created a little photo tutorial of my own as I created my first paper bag book.

The materials you need: 4 flat paper bags, bone folder (or really anything you can use to crease the folds well), double-sided tape, stapler, felt, card stock, paper cutter, scissors, craft glue, rubber stamps (or whatever you want to use to embellish your book).

Take a bag (mine are 8.5 x 11") and lay it on your work surface as shown above.

Fold the bag from top to bottom (fold in half the long way so the front of the bag is showing).

Then fold the bag from left to right, so the bottom of the bag is on top. Repeat this with a second bag.

You could do all 4 in the same way if you'd like, but I think it makes your book look a little boring! :-) So instead...

Fold the remaining two in a slightly different way. Start with your bag front down, as you did before, and do the same fold top to bottom. Then turn the bag over (left to right) so the top/opening of the bag is on the left. Then fold the bag from left to right, so the top of the bag is on top (shown on the bags on the left of the photo).

Once you have the folds made (and creased with the bone folder), open up each bag and put double-sided tape along the bottom & bottom side edges so that when you fold it in half again, the edges are sealed together.

Line the bags up staggered every other one, as shown above. If you've done it correctly, the top of your book will be the folded edges and the bottom will be the taped edges.

Tuck the 4 book pages together tightly, fold and staple the edge to create your spine. My stapler was a little touchy with the thickness, so I stapled it from both the front and the back to secure.

Cut a piece of felt to cover the spine 2 x 4.25" (height of album). Cut another piece into whatever shape you'd like for the cover of the book. For this book, I made a basic dress shape.

Glue the felt pieces to the book and let dry. I used tacky glue/craft glue and it worked fine and dried quickly.

Cut pieces of card stock 5.25 x 4"to fit into the pockets of the book. There are 8 pockets and for this book, I decided to fill all 8 with paper. I took the photo above to get an idea of how big the felt loops were (please ignore the extra fancy ruler I was using) as I didn't originally measure them. So I'd say to cut a 3/4" wide x 2-3" tall piece of felt for each card insert you are using.

Fold the felt into a loop and staple on the short end of the card.

For this book, I used different colored papers (mostly solids) to make the book more interesting.

Almost done, but first I had to give my book a title. Unfortunately, I've never really been a rubber stamper, so my lack of experience led to my cover ending up not so pretty. It kind of made me sad that I messed up the book as I really liked the rest of it!

This book was given to a super cool girl I know as part of her birthday present. It was all fashion designer themed, so I made this book as a sketchbook/notebook for her to use as she came up with ideas. It's small size makes it easy to carry around, but the interior pages and the pull-out cards give it has tons of space inside, making it the perfect fit for the job!

The second book I made is still in progress. The book is completed, but the pages of this one need to be filled with ideas, sketches and love before it is given! Next week is teacher appreciation week and this book is heading to Jack's amazing teacher (don't tell her, okay?). Each of the 4 card inserts I included will hold a gift card and Jack will fill the other pockets and pages with whatever he desires. I hope she likes it as much as I do!

Milk & Cookies Birthday Party

Third child, first birthday...I almost skipped the party. I'm glad that some of my family urged me to get planning though as I loved how it turned out! And I found out that brainstorming with the 6-year-old can bring some amazing ideas to your theme! Our theme was Milk & Cookies/Bedtime Stories, because don't those things just have to go together?

I found the perfect invitations from Tiny Prints. They were meant as a baby shower invitation suite, but I thought they worked perfectly for a one-year-old's birthday (especially my one-year-old that refuses to stand up). So sweet right? There were pink & green options also, but given that I was sticking with a pastel color palette, these were the perfect fit!

The big kids usually collect donations at their friend parties and Jack thought it would be a great idea to collect books at Olivia's party (even if she is little). So we collected board books for our local (and amazing) children's hospital. I was so excited to see so many favorites!

The books actually served as party decor as we set them up along the sideboard as people arrived.

And hanging above the books were bright and cheery tissue paper poofs.

In fact we kept the decorations simple, with the tissue poofs and rows of gerbera daisies adding pops of color.

Well, I did do one batch of balloons for Olivia to go crazy flinging about. The face above is because she learned to close her eyes before the she sent them flying!

Wall decorations included a birthday banner and...

a photo time line from 0 months to 12 months, ceiling to floor.

And the food for the party was...A buffet of cookies & milk of course!

I used a circle design/logo throughout the party and couldn't resist including a few more in these little frames on the table.

I baked six kinds of cookies for the party: Sugar Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Rainbow Swirl, Peanut Butter Kisses, M&M and amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies {recommended by southern daze}.

Strawberry, white & chocolate milk (because special occasions call for special milk).

My absolute favorite party suggestion from Jack was that all the kids come to the party in their pajamas! Soon after, EJ got these super cute milk & cookies jammies (in a batch of previously-loved clothes) and I set out to find equally cute jammies for the other two kids!

We emptied the toys out of our playroom, drew the shades, and set up a mini theater where the kids watched Bedtime Stories...

and ate lots of yummy movie snacks!

We created a keepsake book for Olivia out of a mini binder. I cut & hole-punched card stock to fit the binder and included a page with each invitation. Family & friends used the pages as a card, decorating them with stickers, drawings and notes to Olivia. The book came out better than I could have ever imagined.

The favor bags were these cute striped candy bags with a clear sticker on the front printed with one of five quotes from a favorite children's book (4 star-themed & 1 Olivia bedtime quote thrown in for fun).

Each was filled with one of these yummy star cookies from a local baker {check out Erin's blog to see more amazing cakes!}, sealed closed with a thank you logo seal, and partnered with a star cookie cutter. I have to give credit to Jack once again as the "star=nighttime" idea was all his!

This amazing chocolate chip cookie cake was made by our new friend Erin (thanks for the recommendation Auntie Sandy). You can check out more of Erin's awesome creations here.

Olivia didn't quite know what was going on, but she did seem to enjoy picking off the chips.

And apparently, unlike her mother, Olivia is not a huge fan of cake! We had to beg her to get a little dirty (I think her hair got the worst of it)!

Thank to everyone who helped make Olivia's first birthday bash a huge success and for everyone who celebrated with us!

The gorgeous photography in this post is courtesy of {tsj} photography (thanks Auntie Tracie), and the less than stellar shots are from my trusty point & shoot!