March 11, 2010

Making Life Easier, Prettier, Better

There are a lot of times that I go to a friend's house and discover some new idea that would be wonderful to incorporate in to my life. I love finding new ways to simplify, organize, display things, and cook. I was cherishing a few of the things in my house that have made my life easier, prettier and better and I thought I would share them with you. You never know... one of them might be something that lights your fire.

1. My cheap, plastic, sturdy, IKEA high-chair:

Note: Photo above - taken this morning (I love the baby MORE than the chair, of course). I love high chairs that require almost ZERO maintenance. This is the most simple, easy to clean and light high chair I have ever had and I adore it. You can't beat 20$, either. I just wish they had a red tray to go with the red chair. Maybe they do, but they didn't when I was there that day. We have gotten used to the two-tone thing, though.

2. My IKEA meat scissors:

Another item from IKEA - I promise I had no intention of advertising for them and they aren't sponsoring my blog in any way (unfortunately that is... I think we would make a great team since I practically live there). I hate cutting meat and don't have any really great kitchen knives... so these scissors literally are my favorite kitchen tool. They slice chicken like paper - cubes of delicious meat for stir fry or casseroles in just a minute or two. Really, if you don't have meat scissors, they will save you a ton of time in the kitchen. I love giving these away as swap presents when we do our Homeschool Swap at the Homeschool Post. They cost all of about 4$. Seriously!

3. My Wall of Inspiration:

OK... this isn't an item that makes my life easier - but certainly BETTER and PRETTIER. I love looking at my kids, my artwork, my favorite things, memorabilia from trips and notes from friends... and I adore those iron stars I picked up at an antique auction and carried around for years before figuring out what to do with them so I could showcase them in my house. They make great fishing-line end posts for my hanging showcase. The quilted pegboard was my friend Ammie's idea. She eats, drinks and breathes the Pottery Barn, and she told me she got the idea from their magazine. It kind of helps that she is a quilter and already had all these fabulous fabrics to help me pick from. This room started with a school map - and ended up gorgeous. We picked our teal paint from the colors in the map (and because it would make my red filing cabinets pop)... and after Ammie brought her fabric over for the wall art and pegboards, I brought in my stars and we created this hanging line. This is my favorite room in the house now.

4. The baby's mural:

Another thing I love is my daughter's and the baby's mural that I painted in her room. I would put a photo in here but I'm ashamed to admit that we still haven't put the owl on it. And we never put the crib up in there (because after we painted it, we discovered that it was missing all the hardware and screws to put the frame together). Her lime green walls are wonderfully calming and I love the mural... but she has had such a hard time keeping her room clean lately that I don't get to see it as much as I would like. If we move to the country some time in the future, I plan to recreate this mural again... with exactly the same color of Green Onion Wal-Mart paint as my background.

5. Re-purposed furniture:

We have a little Thomas the Tank Engine table that my kids loved when they were little. The primary colors were not my 'thing', but it was really sturdy, so I hated to get rid of it. Now that we have the baby, I'm super glad that I didn't. The table was always in my kitchen before when we had more room - so I decided that it needed to match our 'decor' and I spray-painted it black and red. At the time I had a red and gold kitchen with a floral arrangement of red poppies as a centerpiece in the kitchen. It looked great and provided a nice place for little ones to sit and eat when we had guests with small children over (even long after my bigger kids were 'too cool' and large to eat and play there). I'm excited to get that table back out soon - since the baby will be walking before we know it! My motto? "If it's ugly, paint it!"

6. Raised-bed gardens:

I skimmed a book about the square-foot gardening system and wanted to try the technique out myself. It's the only thing I can do if I want to garden because we have about half an inch of dust on top of solid ROCK where I live. My husband found a local soil and gravel dealer that lets him fill the back of his truck bed with crushed granite or garden-mix soil for only about $35 a load. We brought in all our dirt and gravel to create these raised beds and pathways and love how our little yard provides a nice harvest now. This is how they look right now - after we recently leveled off the ground in both pathway and garden boxes. We are going to plant our seeds this weekend - I'm so excited!

7. Italian coffee pots:

I gave up drinking drip coffee a long time ago. We use Bialetti stainless steel coffee pots that brew the coffee right over the stove instead. The extra expense of buying imported Italian-grind coffee is well worth it - since it basically cured me of Starbucks addiction. Often times when we are out, we opt to wait for our after-dinner coffee until we get home because it is so much better than the stuff you can buy elsewhere. People call us 'coffee snobs', but we don't mind. Once you try it, you'll probably jump on board. We even have a French Press that foams our milk and a hand-foamer from IKEA (less than 2$) in case we want to make lattes or cappuccinos with our espresso. The only thing we can't replicate really well are the frozen frapps.

8. Outside fridge:

I love having an extra refrigerator in the garage. It is so handy to pull in from the store and throw your frozen and cold stuff in to the 'outside fridge'. I'm not sure how we ever functioned well without it.

9. My stackable washer and dryer:

Talk about a dream-come-true space saver! My laundry room in this house is so small. There used to be very little room that wasn't taken up by the washer and dryer themselves. Now that we have a frontloading set, there is a space for a counter and cabinet that I plan to put there... which will eventually keep my laundry off the floor. I hate seeing piles of dirty laundry in the hall outside of the laundry room. My next home project is to finish this room out with wire drawers and a desktop from IKEA, and some extra 'sorting bin' laundry baskets from Wal-Mart. I can't wait to have a designated place to fold (so my bed and bedroom floor will stay clean-clothes free).

10. My husband's bathroom caddy:

If you are like most wives, you probably pick up after your husband. I don't begrudge doing it, but my time is precious - especially as a homeschooler with a baby in the house. Making things as easy on myself as possible is a MUST. I recently emptied a caddy out that was in my closet and put all of my husband's bathroom stuff in it so that I could limit my 'pick up' work in the morning. I love a clean bathroom counter and with all of his things to put back in the cabinet, I often would just leave them there. Now I just put his caddy under the sink and I'm done! My bathroom counter makes me smile a lot more often.

Do you have any favorite things or ideas that make your life easier, prettier and better? Share them with me!
I'd love to see them. Link to your posts below!


JodyJ said...

I love hearing all about your favorite things. I would love to see more pics of your school room, and garden! Unfortunately I don't live anywhere close to an IKEA, but those meat scissors sound awesome, I HATE cutting meat...gross.
I have enjoyed reading your blog for years, your pics are amazing and have inspired me to take up some photography myself.
Happy Spring!

Kimberly @ RaisingOlives said...

So how has the paint on the table held up? Is it a wooden table or plastic?

We have a purple and green Little Tikes table that I would love to see in a different color. Is there any hope in spray paint?

Unknown said...

I see a Mary Engelbreit pic on your art wall. I love her too!

Dianne - Bunny Trails said...

I think we HAD an IKEA in our state, but it's gone now. Always wanted to check it out.

Loved it when we had the extra frig in the garage. But we gave it away. However, in the winter, our garage is essentially a huge walk-in refrigerator cause it's so cold!! LOL!

Fun post! :-)

Dianne - Bunny Trails said...

So I linked. Mine's not quite as happy, cherry, colorfully fun as yours. It's a blended rant. LOL! :D

MarshaMarshaMarsha said...

I love the caddy idea! I am so doing that.

Sarah Raanan said...

OMG i puffy-heart your wall of inspiration!! we are moving house soon and i am PROMISING myself to make one of those!!! thanks so much for the share xxx

Jamie {See Jamie blog} said...

I have just moved my desk & remembered your wall of inspiration, so I searched all over your blog to find it again so I can steal your idea! I'll let you know when I actually get it done so you can see how it comes out!

Sprittibee said...

Cool. :) I love mine. It's my favorite part of the house.



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