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Refinishing projects–or my almost epic fail…

This week I decided to tackle a few other projects lying around the house.  School starts up again soon, and my project days are becoming quite limited.  So, the last few weeks have been a big push to get some of the smaller stuff out of the way.

My mom recently downsized her belongings again, and we became the proud owners of, among other things, my old child sized wheelbarrow and a wooden stool my dad’s dad made and we used throughout my childhood.  Both were in serious need of some TLC  The wagon was rusted in many places and the wood on the stool was nicked and scratched quite a bit.  Both had been well loved, and it was evident in the wear and tear.

Wheelbarrow before...  Red and rusty...

Wheelbarrow before… Red and rusty…

Stool before... A little worse for the wear.

Stool before…
A little worse for the wear.

To give these items new life in our home, I decided to give them both a paint job.  We decided on pink for my daughter’s new wheelbarrow–because everything in her life is pink–and a Burgundy red for the stool.  We picked up a few cans of spray paint in our choice colors and a can of white paint and primer in one.  I have painted furniture before, but it has been a LONG time and I was in my teens, so they weren’t the most professional jobs.  But, I was convinced I could easily handle both projects and get them done one morning during the week.  I was somewhat mistaken…

Here is what I learned on my journey to refinishment:

1)  An electric sander is a good investment–and one we did not make this time around.  Instead, I spent the morning sanding the stool and metal wheelbarrow with sandpaper.  I started out with wire brushes on the wheelbarrow, but the sand paper made a smoother surface.  The stool had varnish on it and needed a bit of sanding to get it ready for the primer.

2)  Buy more paint than you think you will need.  You can always take an extra can back, but it’s a giant pain in the rear to have to make a run in the middle of the second coat.  The wheelbarrow covered two coats OK in one can, but the stool definitely needed more to do multiple coats.  So, on my quick run back to the store, I picked up one of each just in case.  I’m glad I gave the wheelbarrow a third coat for safety since it is an outside toy.

3)  Do not buy spray paint from a box store.  I think some of the paint we picked up had been sitting there for a while.  My second…and third..cans of red paint did not work.  They sprayed for about 20 seconds and then stopped.  I was very, very, very frustrated at this point and gave up on the stool for the day.

4)  Wear gloves.  Spray paint is really hard to get off your skin.  Especially if there are layers of it because the old bottle of spray paint you bought caused there to be quite a bit of blow and shake-back.  I looked like a zombie victim when I was done–white, pink, and red splotches all over my hands and even a bit on my arms.

5)  Some spray paint can tops are liars when it comes to color.  Our “Burgundy” red looked more like blood red.  It was much brighter than what the can led me to believe (even when completely dry)–and totally not the look I wanted.  If you are able to test the color somehow, I would do that first.  You could also see if the can works that way :).

5)  Use a latex paint on wood surfaces.  Even though the spray paint said it could be used on wood, I had drip marks and coverage issues on the wood stool that I did not have on the metal wheel barrow.  I ended up going to Home Depot and asking the paint dept folks what to do to fix my paint problem.  I decided to abandon the red and go with a flat black, because it matches the black appliances in our kitchen.  The experts advised I use a sample size of Behr paint and primer in one.  I got two bottles on their advice, but only needed one.  Rolling on the latex paint worked SO MUCH BETTER!  (FYI, you cannot return sample size paints–but I have extra for another project or for touch ups along the way).

Despite the problems I encountered, I am really happy with the results of this refinishing project.  Plus, I learned quite a bit and will be better armed for future projects.  It’s true that sometimes the things we think will be easy will be frustratingly difficult, and the things we think will be hard end up being easy.  It was definitely a learning experience–and I’m glad I decided to give it a go.

Finished!  My daughter loves all of the pink!  I also wrapped black electrical tape around the handles to give them  an update.

Finished! My daughter loves all of the pink! I also wrapped black electrical tape around the handles to give them an update.

Finished stool!  I am really happy with the matte black finish.  Sort of makes up for the problems I had with the red paint.

Finished stool! I am really happy with the matte black finish. Sort of makes up for the problems I had with the red paint.

Anyone out there had a project go sideways?  How did you solve your dilemma?

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A Week of Tackling Small Projects for the Kiddo

For the last week, I have been working on getting some small–and one big–projects done for my daughter.  Back to school starts way too soon, and I wanted to make sure we got some necessary and fun things done around the house.

1)  Evaluate the school clothes situation.  Luckily, my daughter is at the stage of growth that I don’t need to purchase new clothing every 3-6 months, and sometimes what worked the previous year will work again this year.  I spent a good half hour one day just going through everything in her drawers and in her stockpile of out of season clothes.  This is a quick process for me, because I don’t keep a lot hanging around.  She has a 4 drawer dresser (3 of which are used for in season clothes) and one small bin of out of season clothing.  Frequent purging makes going through her clothes so much easier.  But, I digress.  I determined she had everything needed for the start of school except long pants, underthings, and shoes.  We were able to get everything she needed early and now have a good base for her school clothes.  She even got to pick out some of it herself which she enjoyed immensely.  I had no idea that most girls jeans came with glitter these days.  This should make for interesting laundry days.  I may have to start washing her clothes separate from mine.

2)  Barrette holder.  One small drawer in the bathroom holds all of our barrettes, pony tail holders, clipies, etc.  To be honest, it was kind of a mess.  Her barrettes were stored in a small plastic container which made it hard to see what was even there or keep track of matching pairs.  To help, I fashioned a barrette holder out of leftover ribbon and a small pre-made fabric bow from some package we received.  I hung the holder from a circle of glittery gold pipe cleaner from a command hook in her bedroom, and we were ready to go!  I was surprised at how excited she was by he idea.  She felt so “cool” being able to find and get her own barrettes.  This little 5 minute project led to some happiness for both of us.

3) A special kind of clutter.  My daughter loves the game Skylanders.  For those of you not in the know, it is a video game that requires little plastic statue pieces in order to change characters.  We have quite a few a lot of them and were looking for a fun way to display/store them.  You can buy a case for anywhere from $15-45, but they wouldn’t fit our collection and you can’t really access or see them easily.  My husband had a leftover 3 tiered shelf contraption from an old gaming system, and he re-purposed it a while ago to hold the little statues.  Trouble was, every time we moved it, the little guys would fall off the back.  So, using a small $1 piece of white foam core, my daughter and I designed a fashionable back for the rack.  We covered the foam core in gold wrapping paper we already had, and she took all the stickers she gets in each Skylander package and covered the open spaces at the back of the shelf.  Again, a fun, easy, and cheap project that solved one of our problem areas and made both of us smile.

4)  Room Reorganization–again… A post a few weeks ago talked about how we try to contain our kiddo clutter.  In it, I spoke about how I never really felt like my daughter’s room felt “done,” mainly due to having to keep too much stuff in the small space.  Her room serves as bedroom and playroom.  This round of reorganization came after we decided to take the computer out of my daughter’s room.  She had one of our old models and only played on it with supervision, but it was getting a little dated and ran a bit slower than our others.  We found she spent more and more of her time using my computer to do her learning games–and the one in her room was no longer needed.  So, we took the computer and small corner computer desk out to give her more space.  I moved around some of her items–her cube organizer went back in the closet, bookcases left the closet and are in the main part of her room, etc.–to give her more floor space.   Removing the one piece of furniture has made her room look and feel much bigger, and, even though the organizational systems we had in place before are still there, it also feels less cluttered.  I am so excited to start the school year with a space where she can go and play without feeling boxed in by all the “stuff,” can sleep comfortably in a calming space, and can easily keep tidied up on her own.

I am so glad I was able to get some of these little nagging things tackled, because now I can put my focus into other areas–including having fun with my kiddo.  

Any nagging tasks you need to tackle, but keep putting off?

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Organization is HARD…and I am far from perfect.

I read quite a few organizing blogs.  And I have checked out my fair share of books on organization from the public library.  I even have a Pinterest Organization board.  In fact, I would say organization is a definite hobby of mine…even a passion.  I even decided to write blog posts about my organizational journey.  If you just read my posts or happened to peek in my cabinets during a routine visit to our house, you might think that our house is pretty chaos free, decluttered, and I know where everything is all of the time.  That is not an entirely accurate picture.  So, I am going to do what I don’t see very often out in the organizational world.  I am going to confess some of my organizational hang-ups and downfalls.  I chose my blog name for a reason.  My life most of the time feels semi-organized.  It is never completely perfect.  I never have everything perfectly balanced—though I try as best I can.  I cannot do everything for everyone (and myself) all of the time and look like I live inside of a magazine and have a stylist making me gorgeous every minute of every day.  So, here are my biggest problem areas…

1)       I try very, very hard to get out of the door on time.  I pre-pack, get the kid started to leave a half hour before departure time, and I am still about 60/40 on getting there on time.  Sometimes, because I still tend to forget something in my house.  Luckily, I usually remember it before going more than a block or two.  I have plans to make this better/easier…

2)      I have had something in my hand and less than two minutes later cannot remember where I set it down.  I sadly do this at both work and home—mainly because I am distracted by something else that requires my attention.

3)      I routinely go through my purse and find odds and ends that I don’t even remember putting in there until I pull it out and gaze at it for a moment, puzzled, and then the memory springs to me of the time I just stuffed it in there so it wouldn’t get lost.

4)      Sometimes the routines that keep me going fall completely apart because life happens.  Random commitments (or events like fireworks going off for a week in July) mess with our normal routine—and then I have a hard time getting back in the groove.

5)      There are projects that have been on my to-do list for years.  Fewer and fewer all the time, but some still sit there.

6)      Sometimes I just don’t feel like cleaning the kitchen before going to bed or doing my 10 minute pick up.  I am just too plain tired and decide it can wait until the morning—or even the next evening.  And, I’m ok with that.

So if you are like me and sometimes see the fabulous items out there in blog land and wonder why you can’t keep it all together like they can—know at least one person doesn’t have it all figured out yet.  If I ever do, maybe I will write a book.  🙂 I try my best and that’s the best I can do—and that attitude is a work in progress as well.  I just need to keep trucking along my organizational road trying to keep my life at least semi-organized.


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Quick Tips–Got 5-10 minutes?

As we head into a holiday week, I figured I’d get next weekend’s post out of the way–or I would run out of time with everything else we have going on.  So, here are three quick tips you can tackle in 5 to 10 minutes.

Quick Tip #1

Do you HATE folding socks?  I do.  And, it was always hit or miss that I would get socks that actually could be paired at the end of a dryer cycle.  To combat this pesky problem, I adapted a tip I saw on Pinterest (can’t remember where… Sorry!).  The blog I read suggested giving each member of the family a lingerie bag to hang on the back of their door to stow their socks in after wearing.  At laundry time, the bag is zipped and thrown in the washing machine, thus keeping all the pairs neatly together.  What a fabulous idea!  My family isn’t really big enough for each of us to have our own bags, and I am loathe to hang anything on our doors.  Instead, I attached small flatish command hooks to the back of my plastic hamper (which my daughter and I currently share).  I simply hang our lingerie bag from the command hooks on the back–and you can’t even see it!  We both know to put our socks in the bag after wearing, and I have LOVED being able to match socks so easily.

Quick Tip #2

Tighten your seats!  Take 5-10 minutes and tighten the seats in your house.  You will be amazed at how much more secure you feel instead of cringing every time you feel your dining room chair wobble or the toilet seat shift sideways.  Simply find any seated surface in your house that may require a tune-up–dining room chairs, desk chairs, toilet seats, lawn chairs, etc.  Find the nuts or screws that are holding the seat or legs in place and give them a turn or two until tight.

Quick Tips #3

Make adjustments to any organization systems that are not 100% helpful.  I know this seems crazy, but so many times we struggle on because we don’t want to admit what we tried isn’t working 100% or we don’t want to take the time to make adjustments to something that is sort of working.  Forget that!  The whole point of an organization system is to give you more time and less stress.  So, how do you tell if your system needs a fix.  Check your level of annoyance when completing a task.  Are you constantly bugged by some part of the process?  Do you dread completing a task just because of one small step?  (If it is the whole thing that bugs you–then you’re going to need a major overhaul that will take more than 10 minutes–this is simply for minor adjustments).  If so, your process may need a tweak.  Take 5 minutes and mentally go through a system you have in place.  Think about how you feel when following that system or completing that task.  Determine if you need to make a small change–and then make it!

For example, I have a box I keep to shred documents in.  I take them to a shredding service–because I HATE shredding.  I am happy to pay the little bit of money (or even take time to attend free shred events) for someone else to do it.  I at one time kept this box in the basement.  Which meant I had to walk down to the basement to dispose of items needing shredding–which meant that junk mail tended to pile up in various places around our house.  I realized keeping the box in the basement made no sense.  Instead, I moved it to a hidden space near our door of entry.  Now, I can put any mail items needing shredding straight in the box when I come in the door.  And, I can easily deposit other shredding items without going down another set of stairs–this may not seem like a big deal, but it was for me.  That extra flight of stairs was messing up my paper clutter control.  Moving the box took less than a minute and has definitely saved me time and stress.

Another example is when I came to realize that purchasing an extra toilet brush saved me a headache every time I cleaned the bathrooms.  Following my established cleaning schedule, I clean the bathrooms every Tuesday.  And every Tuesday, I would race to keep water from dripping from the brush holder from one bathroom to the next.  It bugged me so much that I would sometimes clean the other bathroom on a different day just to avoid the toilet brush hassle–throwing off my carefully thought out cleaning plan.  It made WAY more sense to spend the few dollars and just have a brush in each bathroom–and it’s much more sanitary.  In addition, I am also less prone to leave the toilet wash solution in the bowl for too long, because the brush is right there and easy to use.

Not sure why I didn’t think of these things sooner, but organization is an ongoing process and really is trial and error.  Sometimes you have to live with and try something for a while to realize what is and is not working.  You just have to willing to take the time to adjust if needed.

Do you have any quick 5-10 minute tips?  Let us know!

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