Friday, November 30, 2012

Shoe Organizer Advent Calendar

Yes, today is the last day of November and I just now finished our advent calendar. Any other procrastinators out there or is it just me? :) If you waited until the last minute like I did, the idea behind this advent is super easy - just roll out one of those 24-pocket over the door shoe organizers, fill it up with something fun, and you're good to go!

You can get the kind with fabric pockets if you want and use fabric paint or a Sharpie to put a number on the front. I chose to do a How The Grinch Stole Christmas theme that I saw over at Chica and Jo which requires one with clear pockets (I found mine at Walmart for about $8). The link above has printable cards that you slide into each pocket with the print side facing the door and a number on the blank side....

...then each day after you remove the present, you flip the card over and there is a portion of the Grinch book to read. Then you slide the Grinch into the pocket that the gift just came from and it looks like he is going in each day and stealing one of the presents. Adorable, right?! In Chica and Jo's calendar they have a little stuffed Grinch which is so much cuter but I haven't been able to track one down yet so for now we just have a picture of him to tuck into the pocket.

Right about now I'm sure some of you are thinking that 24 presents is insane...and you would be right. Only a few of these actually have a gift in them and even those are handmade or from the dollar store. The rest are activities that we can do together. I thought it would be fun for him to have something to unwrap though so for each one I wrapped something related to the activity.

For some of the craft projects, I put all of the supplies into a ziploc bag and wrapped it up. As an added bonus, the supplies are already gathered together so I don't have to go hunt them down when it is time to work on our project! A couple of the days are making cookies so I wrapped up a cookie cutter for the day that will be gingerbread house cookies and a bottle of sprinkles for the day that we are making cookies for Santa.

I made up admission tickets for our family movie night and printed them out onto a piece of cardstock. Feel free to grab the image above and print out your own.

Some of the days have activities that we are going to do as a family. For those, I printed out the activity and tucked the card into an old jewelry box or one of the other random little boxes that I collect for no good reason. Finally they have a purpose! Awhile back we received some junk mail from a car dealership that included a fake car key and I tossed into my crafty junk box. It seemed like the perfect thing to include in our box about driving around to see the Christmas lights. :)

I included a little photo in some of them like this one. There is a local farm that has reindeer and they give tours this time of year so you can visit Santa's reindeer while they are in town. We have never been there before but it sounds like fun!

Since schedules change, I wrote a number on the back of each package with a sharpie. Then I made up a spreadsheet with a list of what is in each one so that I can double check the night before and make sure that we will have enough time for that activity the next day. If not, I can swap it out with a different one.

If you need some ideas on what to fill your calendar with, here is a list of what is in ours along with what I wrapped up:

1. Shop for Christmas socks (Jer's idea) - a note with a picture of socks. You could also just wrap up the socks but I didn't have time to get them and I thought he might have fun picking them out himself
2. Visit Santa's reindeer - see photo above
3. Make a Pinecone Christmas tree - supplies for the craft (I threw in tiny pom poms instead of making my own felted wool balls)
4. Write a letter to Santa - I printed out special stationary from X-Mas Coloring Pages
5. Build a Mentos Geyser - we picked up the special tube attachment in the stocking stuffer section of Target a few years back but you could just wrap a tube of Mentos.
6. Shop for Mommy & Daddy - Jer LOVES giving people gifts. Usually he "shops" his toy collection but there is a local charity that sets up a little store and the kids get to go in with a volunteer and shop for a little gift ($2-8) while mom and dad wait outside so that the kids can surprise them. The flyer has a spot where you can specify the age of the kid that they are shopping for so I think they are supposed to be shopping for their siblings but our interests really aren't that different from an eight-year-old so we will probably like whatever little toy he picks out anyway. :) For this one, I just wrapped up the flyer that talks about it.
7. Make a Pom Pom Ornament - supplies for the craft
8. Visit Santa - a note with a picture of Santa
9. Make some Snowy Playdough - all of the dry ingredients measured out into a ziploc bag.
10. Drink hot cocoa - packet of candy cane cocoa from the pantry
11. Handmade Gift - Superhero Mask (I actually haven't had time to make one yet so I just rolled up a piece of felt and wrapped it)
12. Gift - a new Christmas book - There is a note in the box telling him that he gets to unwrap the gift under the tree that has red paper. I might go back later and hide the gift then write out a set of clues for him to find it.
13. Handmade Gift - Starry Night Flashlight
14. Make a Snow Globe - a small jar & bottle of glitter
15. Make Clay Ornaments - a note in a box
16. Drive around and look at Christmas lights - a note with a fake car key
17. Make a Popsicle Stick Tree - supplies for the craft
18. Family Christmas Movie Night - admission tickets (printable above)
19. Make a Cave of Stars - a small box of Christmas lights
20. Paint the Snow - a box of food coloring 
21. Decorate Gingerbread House Cookies - a house cookie cutter (actual gingerbread houses are a pain and usually you let them sit out and get gross but with gingerbread house cookies you have the fun of decorating a house but you get to eat them right away!)
22. Sleep under the tree - a note with clipart picture of kids sleeping under the tree.
23. Gift - small book of mazes
24. Bake cookies for Santa - bottle of sprinkles

If you have more ideas, please leave them in the comments section! :)


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The To-Do List Revisited

Do you like making lists? I make one every single morning so that I remember all of the things that absolutely have to get done that day. I also love the feeling of accomplishment when I get to cross something off of the list. :) About six months ago I shared some photos of our new house in the form of a massive home improvement to-do list and I thought it was time to do a little revisit and check out the progress that we have made.

These home improvement projects are the most annoying because they take up a lot of time but the finished project is never interesting enough to share with anyone! This post will still probably bore most of you but this is MONTHS of work that I have condensed into one single post that you have to suffer through scroll past read.


1. Hang Blinds - DONE! Those trash bag and duct tape curtains were pretty spectacular but it is nice to have real blinds now.

2. Remove a million of these annoying hooks and patch the holes - DONE! I believe the final tally was 15 hooks!


3. Paint everywhere - DONE! I cannot even express how happy I am to have those nasty walls covered up. Some of them were so bad that I felt like I needed a shower just from walking through the room.

4. Patch a bajilion holes. - DONE! I was so excited when I finished the last room! Painting everything sucked (especially the ceilings) but it was the patching and sanding that I hated the most. My arms felt like they were going to fall off and then there was all of the sanding dust! Oh my goodness the dust. I am not putting any holes in the walls unless I am sure that item is going to live there for the rest of my life. It will be like that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond when Marie takes down the fork and spoon and you can still see the outline on the wallpaper because they have been there for decades.


5. Put up closet doors and cut down existing ones - Uhhh...nope. (Look how pretty those gray walls are compared to the dirty cotton candy pink though!) These three closets are still missing doors and for the last seven months this has been what you see when you walk into the other two bedrooms:

Those of you who are able to close the doors on all of the closets in your house have no idea how good you have it. ;)

6. Build shelves for my craft supplies - DONE! I should probably get around to painting them sometime though. 

7. Sort and purge craft supplies - DONE...although they need to be organized again. I have a feeling that this is one that will always be on the list though.


8. Replace baseboards - nope. I should edit this to include window frames as well since I have three windows that look like this:


9. Replace the ugly kitchen light fixture - DONE(ish) Shelby hung the new light fixture but the blue plastic base still needs to be covered up and I accidentally got some paint on the fixture when I was working on the ceiling and I need to scrape that off.


10. Do something with this wallpaper/paneling - DONE! We ended up pulling off the paneling. The bottom half of the drywall was damaged from one of the previous tenants punching holes in it and we thought about continuing the wainscoting from the living room to cover it but we couldn't find the same pattern and weren't really sure if we wanted that much wainscoting in the house anyway. So we replaced the sheetrock on that wall instead. It worked out well because we were able to put in some insulation while we had it stripped down to the studs. Some of the walls are insulated with newspaper but that wall didn't have anything at all.


11. Caulk everything - DONE!


12. Replace the contact paper on the shower window - DONE! Although I still don't understand why people put windows in the shower.


13. Fill thousands of little nail holes in the wainscoting - DONE! It took me an entire day (or was it two?) but I finally filled and sanded all of those annoying little buggers.


14. Install new shelves in the pantry - DONE! I figured out the dimensions that I wanted and Shelby installed them for me. I should probably paint these sometime as well.


15. Replace all of the light switch and outlet covers - this is mostly done however there are still a couple that need work. Why? Because they installed the wainscoting so high that it cuts through the middle of the light switches. Why do people do that?! They also cut the chair rail around these switches incorrectly so a standard switch cover doesn't fit. The one on the left is much too small for the hole so I need to try and find a jumbo one. The opening in the chair rail on the right is cut too small so we are going to have to cut a switch cover down to size. 


16. Paint the laundry "room" doors - I started to do this but it was taking forever and I realized that they still looked just as bad painted so I need to see how much it would cost to replace them.

17. Clean all of the disgusting windows and repair the screens - I replaced three of the screens but I didn't get around to the rest. I also haven't cleaned any of the windows.


18. Patch the big freaking hole that Shelby made in the living room wall - DONE! I busted my knuckle open while doing it too. :( One of Shelby's co-workers said that it's "hot" when a woman knows how to replace drywall though so I guess that's a plus. Lol!

Now that those things are (mostly) done I have come across some other things that need to be added to the lsit:

19. Paint around the thermostat. Shelby replaced the old one with a programmable thermostat because we turn the heat down low at night and then don't want to get out of our nice, cozy bed in the morning. Now, the house is already nice and toasty when it is time to get up! The new thermostat is a different size though so now I have to touch up the paint. Blarg.

20. Replace the outlets and switches. They are all dark brown and some of them have been painted over which is now starting to come off. I guess I could just paint them again but some of them need to be replaced anyway because they don't have a grounding hole. That is why the coffee pot is sitting on the dining table and the microwave on the counter top instead of both of them being on the buffet. It works out alright now because the Christmas village is on the buffet but in a few weeks I am really going to want to move those things to their proper home.

21. Trim around the air conditioner. The hole to the right of it might be fixed now but it still looks pretty junky with the drywall and 2x4 showing.

22. Paint the kitchen cabinets, replace the doors & add knobs. I actually don't mind the color of the cabinets now that the walls are green. However, a couple of months after we moved in, I realized that three of the cabinet doors have curved lines and the rest are square. I don't know how it took me so long to realize this. I guess there was just too much else wrong with the house and I got distracted. Now it is all that I can see though and it is going to drive me crazy until I fix it. I priced doors to see if we could replace those three but apparently they are an odd size so it would be pricey and it would be difficult to get the stain to match exactly. So instead Shelby is going to make flat doors with rounded edges so that they all match and have a retro look. Then I am going to paint them all and add some retro knobs. Originally I was thinking about painting them white but I have seen some really cool colored cabinets recently and now I can't decide what to do.

23. Add shelves to the "coat" closet. The "linen" closet now holds all of our medicine and toiletries because it is right across the hall from the bathroom and the bathroom itself isn't big enough to hold very much. So I decided to make the coat closet a linen closet instead. The original linen closet is only deep enough to hold sheets and towels anyway. By using this closet, it is deep enough to hold the guest comforters and pillows as well as all of our throw blankets and sleeping bags. Now I just need some shelves in here so I can get everything organized instead of just being piled up precariously. 

In case you are wondering (although I doubt you really care) I eliminated the coat closet all together. Once we put our own coats in there, there wasn't any room for guest coats so they would just get piled up on our bed anyway. I also don't see the point in leaving a space open for guests' coats since it is rarely needed. Our house is fairly small (1,000 sq ft) so we have to make the most of our storage space. Our coats are now in the closet of the individual who owns it and guests will continue to toss their's on the bed. Do you have a closet for guests' coats? Does it serve any other purpose? I'm just curious. :)

To sum things up: in the last six months I have crossed 13 things off of the list and then added 5. Grrr! That's usually how it goes with home improvement to-do lists though. I'm sure that when I finally get these things done I will find other things to add.