Thursday, January 22, 2015

18 Storage Hacks for Parents

I recently joined an online web forum called Hometalk and I am LOVING it!  It's similar to Pinterest, in that you create boards and "clip" items you like to it.  But beyond that, you can ask questions for other people to answer, and it revolves entirely around home projects - improvement, storage, DIY, etc.  It feels much more personal and intimate in a way than Pinterest.

Anyway, Liz, one of the Community Managers from Hometalk, saw my fabric storage cube tutorial and asked me if I'd be willing to curate a board of storage ideas for parents.  Really?? How cool is that?!  Of COURSE I said yes!  I instantly got to work searching through Hometalk for the best storage ideas out there, and I sure did find a bunch.  They asked me to limit it to 15-20, which was harder than it sounds...there were a lot of great ideas out there!

Here is the awesome graphic that they came up with for me - go ahead and click the link below it and it'll take you over to Hometalk to check out all the awesome storage ideas.  Thanks for stopping by!!

Click here to go to my Hometalk board :D

**While I was asked to post this to my blog, I was not compensated in any way.**

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kids' Toy Storage Part 2: Fabric Storage Cube Tutorial

In part one, I showed you how we made the animal "cages".  Well, it's only taken me a year and some change to do this tutorial, so, yeah... here's hoping I remember the steps correctly ;P


Outer fabric and lining fabric of your choice
10 sheets of stiffened felt
Nylon strapping in desired color
scissors, sewing machine, thread, etc.  The usual suspects.

Before you do anything else, you need to do some math.  Don't panic - it's not terrible, I promise!

Okay, you need to know what finished size you want your cube to be.  Standard cubes that are sold at the stores are 11" high, by 10.5" wide on each side, so that's what I did as well.  But you don't have to use those measurements by any means.  You can do any size and dimensions you would like - this formula will work for all of them.

Height of fabric = Desired height of finished cube + 1/2 desired height of finished cube + 2 SA (seam allowance)

So if you want your cube to be 11" high with 1/2" seam allowances, then you will cut the fabric to be 11+5.5+1 = 17.5" high

Width of the fabric:

For a cube = 4 x desired width of one side of finished cube + 2 SA.  In this example, it's 4x10.5+1 = 43"

For a rectangle = 2 x desired width of long side of finished cube + 2 x desired width of shorter side of finished cube + 2 SA.  If you did a 5x3 rectangle, it'd be (2x5) + (2x3) + 1"= 17".

I hope that makes sense.  So, for the cubes I was making, I cut 1 piece of outer fabric and one piece of lining fabric to the dimensions 17.5" high and 43" wide.  I also cut the stiffened felt into 10 1/2" squares.

Phew, glad that's over!

Once you know all your measurements, you need to figure out what materials you want to use.  I wanted these to be sturdy and made out of cute fabric, so they ended up being more expensive than what I could have bought at the store.  BUT, they are a statement piece of the room.  If you just want something inexpensive, you could use any fabric you had on hand, cut up an old sheet, etc. and use cardboard instead of stiffened felt.

Most of the tutorials that I found previously required the use of binding tape on the top, but I'm terrible with binding tape, so I went on a quest to find a different way.  Mine, therefore, have removable bottoms.  This is not a bad thing, but I will say my kids are always taking them out (or dumping them out on the floor with the toys).  If I were to make more in the future, or got a wild herring to do so with these, I'd hand tack them down in the corners just to keep them in there.  Live and learn, people ;)

Let's get going!!

Take your 2 pieces of fabric and fold them in half, right sides together.  Pin the edges and sew a seam.

Press your seams open, then tuck the outer fabric inside the lining fabric with right sides together, matching up seam lines.

Once lined up, pin along the entire top edge of the 2 pieces.  Sew a seam, then flip right sides out.

Tuck the lining section into the outer fabric and pin along the seam line.

Okay, now to figure out where you want your sides to be.  Fold your piece with the seam line on one side and lay flat.  On the other side, pin down the crease.  Now, from the sides, measure in the length of one side (in this case, 10.5") and pin down in a line.  Now open up the fabric tube and lay it flat again, but this time with your last pinned line on the side.  Pin down the side of the other crease, and that should give you exactly the right dimensions for your sides.  Again, hard to explain in words, so if you have questions, just ask.  And if that ends up being too confusing, just measure out your sides and pin.  

Sew from the top to the bottom down all pinned lines.

This will give you four pockets to stuff the stiffened felt into.

Now prepare your felt.  By itself, one sheet isn't sturdy enough.  So I sewed 2 squares together on 2 sides. 

The top of your cube is still pinned - leave it like this for not.  Stuff your felt into one pocket at a time.  Unpin one section at a time, stuff the felt all the way to the top, and repin to hold it in.  Once it's in there, pin beneath in at the bottom.  Since there will be a lot of pins and the cube will get really clunky really fast, it's easiest to do the strap on this first side.

Cut a piece of strapping to the width you'd like (make sure that it leaves a bit of a gap, and add in about 2" to fold under.)  Fold under one side and pin to the cube.

 Repeat on the other side.

Sew around the outer edges and then sew an "x" through the center.  I usually leave my needle in the fabric once I've gone around all four sides, pick up the presser foot, shift the fabric, and sew diagonally across for the first leg of the "x".  Then I sew along one of the outer sides, and repeat for the second leg of the "x".

Now, repeat all the stiffened felt steps for the other sides.

Sew along the top of the cube, making sure that you are catching the stiffened felt, and then sew all along the bottom of the cube as close to the stiffened felt as you can, to hold it in there securely.

Now for the bottom.  Flip the whole thing wrong side out.  If you're making a cube, it doesn't matter which sides you pin together first, since they're all the same.  But if you're doing a rectangle, make sure you pin the longest sides together.  Sew the seam.  This will all by hidden under the final felt piece.

On each side, there is a triangle.  Pin the bottom of it, closest to the center of the cube.  It will be really hard to tuck it all under your sewing machine, so to make it easier, pin that section flat like the picture below.

Sew along that seam, and trim off the triangle.

Flip the cube right side out. 

Take your final 2 pieces of stiffened felt that have been sewn together and tuck into the bottom of the bin.

All done!!  Now you just need to fill that sucker with all the odds and ends that clutter up your playroom :D

To make your organization even easier, choose a different fabric for each type of toy - For us, boy toys and legos go into the 2 cars bins I made, girl toys like Barbies and My Little Ponies are in the 2 mermaid bins, and the toy food goes in the sushi bin.  The light blue one with polka dots pictured above is used for the baby's toys.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Years Resolutions

Well, you might have noticed that Christmas came and went and I totally didn't finish all the 25 days of Christmas posts that I said I was going to ;P  It's not that I didn't do the projects and take the pictures, but when it came to sitting down for an hour for each post, I just honestly didn't have the time.  I've contemplated going back and doing the rest of them now, but I feel somehow dishonest doing that.

Instead, I'll share my New Year's Resolution with you all.

Wait, let's back up.  Let me share LAST YEAR'S New Year's resolution first.

I realized last year that I was in my 30s, had been a Christian for as long as I had known what that meant, and had never read the entire Bible.  I mean, really?  There's not much excuse for that.  Let it be known that I am one of THE MOST undisciplined people and it is insanely hard for me to be organized and intentional about most things.  I think my failed 25 Days of Christmas illustrates that perfectly.  I get all excited at the beginning, and that momentum holds on for a little while, but usually fizzles out by the end.  Last year, I was determined to not let that happen.

So, I downloaded the free Bible Gateway app and used their Chronological Bible reading plan to go through the entire Bible in a year.

I LOVED that I could read the Bible on my phone, because it's smaller and easier to hold.

I LOVED that there were a ton of different translations to choose from, so if I was confused in one translation, I would switch to a different one (or 2 or 3) until the passage made a little more sense to me.   I read the Amplified version and LOVED it!  It expands on certain words in parentheses and gives the multiple meanings for them in the original language.  It's amazing what you miss when you read just one translation!  I actually had a Shakespeare teacher say that to me in college - when you speak a certain language (in her example, Shakespearean English), so many words have double or triple entendres.  When you pick only one of those to put into another language, it strips the text of some of its meaning.  That's why, with Shakespeare, you have to do your research on what so many of the words actually meant to get what he was saying.  It's the same with the Bible.  It is so rich, and no one translation can capture it all.  I'd LOVE to be able to learn Biblical Greek and Hebrew, but being honest with myself, I don't see that happening.  Which is why I loved the Amplified version.  When that left me confused, I switched between the NIV (New International Version), ESV (English Standard Version), ERV (Easy-to-Read Version), NASB (New American Standard Version), and the Message version.  All of these are free on the app.  SO AWESOME!!

Reading it chronologically was not my favorite way to do it.  I mean, I'm glad I did it once, because it showed me how things are connected, how many stories are told in multiple places, etc., but it got REALLY repetitive in certain sections.  I don't do repetitive well.  I tend to get the attitude of "Yeah, I got it.  Yadda yadda yadda, let's move on," when what I really should be thinking is, "Hmmm, maybe if God is taking the time to say this over and over again, it's because He thinks it's important and I should really think about it some more."  Sometimes, I did do that.  But it was tough when I got to Chronicles and the like.  I won't lie to you.

There were times I missed a few days, but I tried to never let it go beyond 5 at the most, because catch up was brutal!  I would split it between a couple of days to get caught up and just read 2-3 days worth each day until I was back on schedule.

Some days I read before bed, some when the kids had gone off to school in the morning.  It just depended on what the littles were doing and it they were still asleep or not.

Things I learned:
Honestly, there are way too many things to mention in a blog post.  When you grow up in a household that is a particular faith, it can be easy to think "yeah, I know all of this.  Heard it all before."  But that just wasn't true for me this year.  Things I have heard so many times were put into perspective and made so much more sense!  It was so cool to be reading and have these epiphany moments and be all excited to tell someone about it.  They'd be like "Yeah, I knew that."  And I'd be all, "Well, okay then.  I didn't, so be excited for me!"  Ha ha!

All in all, I loved doing this and being able to say on December 31, 2014, that for the first time in my life, I had read every single part of the Bible.  At first, I felt like there should be some kind of fanfare for this, but then it occurred to me that I was just finally doing what I always should have been doing ;P  This was confirmed to me when I told my Dad what I had done, and he nonchalantly said "Oh, I do that every year" - so, yeah ;P  I'm thrilled that this wasn't so much about "having" to read the Bible, but in being obedient to what I was supposed to do, God gave me an excitement and a passion to do it.  That's my favorite part of this whole thing - something that I have wanted my whole life (a passion to study the Word of God) came when I finally sucked it up and was obedient to just read it.  Amazing how that works ;P

This year, I resolve to read the Bible more in depth and study certain sections more carefully.  I won't get through the whole thing, but ultimately, that's not the point - to check something off my list.  It's to learn about the God who created me and give Him all glory and honor :D

What are your resolutions for this year??

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...