How To Make A Bow Holder

As soon as Annabelle had enough hair to hold in a bow, I started putting one on her.  As any mother of a daughter can tell you, even if your child is decked out head-to-tiny-toe in pink, at least once a day someone will ask, “How old is he?”

Look, I know it is hard to tell, especially when they are so small, so let me just advise this: if you’re not sure, don’t use a pronoun.  Simply say, “Oh so cute, how old?”  The mom will of course know what you’re doing, but she won’t mind.  She’ll happily reply, “Oh, thank you.  She just turned 2 months.” See, everyone’s happy.

Luckily for Annabelle, she took after her father and had enough hair to ward off the question by the time she was 10 months old.  I, on the other hand, didn’t have enough hair until I was about two.  My mom got so tired of my being mistaken for a boy that she started scotch taping bows to my head.  It’s true.  You can ask her.

Anyway, Annabelle’s bow collection is quite impressive for a 22 month old.  The tiny side drawer of her dresser is full of them, making it hard to see all the colors.  So yesterday I decided to make a little holder for all her bows while she slept.  Since it was impromptu crafting, which is sometimes my favorite kind, I had to make due with what I could find around the house.

Which was:

  • An old picture frame (glass removed)
  • Some ribbon
  • Cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Letter Stickers

Before I get into how I made the little bow-holder-doohickey, I should probably offer up a bit of a crafting disclaimer.  Whenever I craft, I usually have a general idea of what I would like the final product to look like…and a basic, not-so-structured idea of the steps I’ll need to take to get there.  But a lot of what I do is trial and error.  Moving things around…scrapping original ideas…changing colors…until I arrive at something I am happy with.  Very loosey-goosey.

Ok, that being said, here’s how I made the bow holder.

First, I removed the glass from the frame.

Ok, that’s not exactly how it happened.

See, originally I intended to use the frame with the glass, but then I somehow managed to break the glass while removing it from the frame.  So suddenly my project no longer required glass.  Yes, folks, this is sometimes how I roll.  It ain’t always pretty.

Anyway, after I “removed” the glass, I cut out a piece of cardstock to fit the frame.  I then took my ribbon and cut out three pieces that would be big enough to lay across the cardstock, leaving a bit of extra length.  Then, I laid out the three pieces of ribbon and secured each with tape on the back.

Once the ribbons were taped in place, I put the cardstock in the frame and put the backing of the frame back on.

Then I gathered her little collection of bows and clipped them on the ribbons.

Then, since it seemed to need a little something, I took some felt letter stickers I had and put Annabelle’s name on top of the frame.

I worked from the middle of her name out so that I wouldn’t run out of room, or risk having her name be off centered.

The whole project took about a half an hour (including glass clean up) and cost me nothing since I had all the supplies on hand.  If I had gone out and bought supplies, I think I would have picked a larger and fancier frame…maybe one that could be hung up on the wall.  My mind is already spinning with ideas, so I am sure I will be redoing this project somewhere down the line, but for now, this little guy will work.

Here’s how it looks in her room.

I was pretty excited to show it to Annabelle when she woke up.  She kept pointing at it, smiling, saying, “Look Mommy, bows!  Another bow!”

Her smiles = project success!

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Requesting YOUR Requests

Do you have any organizing issues you need help with?  Any clutter that you just don’t know what to do with?  Anything in your home making you nutty that you want to tackle, but you just don’t know where or how to begin?

If so, send your thoughts on over to me at cobwebscupcakesandcrayons@yahoo.com.  If it’s something I feel I have an idea or solution for, I’ll add it to my list of topics to blog away about…

xo

Kelly

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All Charged Up!

A “Nap To It!” Challenge

Like most families, we have a surprising number of things in our house that need chargers and cords…and recently I noticed that ALL of them are scattered throughout the house, making it very hard and frustrating to find the one you need when you need it.  The charger for our phones was usually wastefully dangling from the outlet on our kitchen counter. The charger for our dust buster was for some reason in the top drawer of my bedside end table.  The camera charger was in the office closet.   The laptop charger was in the kitchen junk drawer.

So…my first little “NAP TO IT!” challenge for myself was to create a central storage spot for all of our chargers.  This way no matter what needed charging, I’d know were to go.  Here’s the breakdown of the steps so you can play along…baby down…ready… set…GO!

1. GATHER:  Go from room to room, drawer to drawer, outlet to outlet, gathering up all of your chargers from around your home.  (When I started gathering ours up I tried to guess how many we had.  My guess was 10…we actually have 17 and I have a sneaking suspicion there are still more hiding…)

Seriously, isn’t that a ridiculous number of chargers?

2. SORT & LABEL:  Once I had my little pile gathered, I began sorting. I used my label maker to make labels for each.  (If you don’t have a label maker, you can very easily label them using a small cut out strip of paper and a piece of scotch tape.  Doesn’t have to be fancy, just has to be secure and legible.)  By the way, there was a surprising number of chargers I stumbled upon that I had to ask Mike about, because I had no idea what they were for.  Turns out, out of 17, six were for electronics we no longer owned and one neither of us could figure out what it went to.

3. STORE:  I found a basket we weren’t using for anything that was the perfect size to store all the chargers.  I then found a place in our kitchen hutch to keep the basket.  For us, the kitchen is the perfect location since we do most of our charging on the kitchen counter.  (That sentence made me laugh.)  I kept the camera chargers and cords in the camera case, since that made more sense than the basket.  But at least now that they are labeled, if they get misplaced, we’ll know what they go to.

4. LABEL BASKET: Once they were all nestled all cozy in their basket, I couldn’t resist making a quick label for the basket itself.  Aww, just look at them…

5. ENJOY: Sigh with contentment and stare lovingly at your neatly labeled basket of chargers.

P.S. Does anyone know the proper way to recycle a charger?  I know there are many organizations that will take and recycle your old cell phones, but I couldn’t find ones for just the charger alone…any ideas?

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NAP TO IT!

Ok, so let’s be honest.  There are times, especially in those early days of newborn delirium, when your baby naps and the only thing you can think about doing is joining them.  Your house looks like a bomb went off.  There are dirty onsies and burp cloths lurking around every corner.  The pile of mail on your kitchen counter is stacked so high it’s threatening to topple into the sink, which is overflowing with take-out-caked dishes.  To you I say, “Snuggle up and enjoy.”  Those quiet moments are so few and precious that you need to give yourself permission to really embrace them.   Flop down on the couch.  Pull down the room darkening shades in your bedroom.  Take the phone off the ringer.  Or just plop down and curl up on the floor.  (I’ve done this.)  The mess can wait.  It’s not going anywhere.  Sigh.

I remember (hazily) in the early days of Annabelle, pulling her little bassinet basket right next to the couch so I could lie down and still be able to (obsessively) look over at her.  I’d float in and out of consciousness, always awaiting the cry that meant our naptime was over and it was time to mommy it up again.

By the way, why do they say babies eat every two to three hours?  That is a total misrepresentation.  As any new mama will tell you it TAKES about an hour to feed, change and get your newborn back to sleep.  And that’s if everything goes smoothly.  You don’t really get the two to three hour breaks in between feedings that I swear we were promised.  Before Annabelle was born, Mike and I took a breastfeeding workshop.  When the teacher informed the class (casually, it seemed, as I’m sure she didn’t want us to run shrieking from the room) that newborns eat between 8 and 12 times a day, I remember Mike looking at me with a mixture of awe and fear and asking, “How are you going to do that?”

How exactly?  I think in the beginning moms run on pure love.  We’re just in complete and utter fascination with this adorable little creature that we somehow don’t need sleep.  As time goes on I think what fuels us is brute strength and determination.  Mamas are a very strong lot.

All this is to say, if you need a nap, cut yourself some slack and take it.  Don’t beat yourself up about it.  You need your rest, just like your baby does.  Heck, you just made a PERSON.  That awards you a few quiet moments to snooze.

Eventually though, when your baby (miracle of miracles!) begins to sleep and you are able to get a full night’s rest (full night now being a relative term), you soon find yourself able to function while your baby naps.   Once Annabelle began sleeping through the night and I was able to rejoin the living during the day, I would find myself lost during her nap times.  I would put her down to sleep and I would be so overwhelmed with everything I needed to do (or FELT I needed to do) during her nap that I would run around my house not really completing anything.  Before I knew it I would hear her crying for me and I would look around my STILL chaotic house and wonder, what did I do for the last hour?

So, that leads me to something I’m calling Nap To It!  These are little challenges I’m creating for myself (and you if you’d like to play along) that will be quickie-organizing projects you can complete while your child sleeps.  I’m talking things you can start AND finish in an hour.  My goal will be finding one naptime (or one free hour) to complete the mini-makeover.  I will post the first Nap To It! on Friday.  I know, I know, you can hardly contain your excitement.  So for today, if you need it and you can, snuggle up and enjoy!

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Ending End Table Clutter

You know the little things you do to get ready for company?  The hiding and tucking (okay sometimes shoving and stuffing) away items so things appear a little more orderly than they actually are?  It can’t just be me, can it?  You know what I’m talking about, right?  Putting the rubber gloves that normally sit on the kitchen counter away under the sink.  Lighting a bunch of candles so your house smells like a freshly baked cookie.  Gathering up all your piles of papers and hiding them in the dryer.  (My mom admits to having done this last one once.)

Anyway, we all do it.  I’m sure of it.  At least that’s what I tell myself.  For me a big one was clearing off my bedside end table.

See, normally, my bedside end table is full of clutter, but it’s necessary clutter.  Really, I swear.  I’m talking about my book, my journal for Annabelle, the clicker for the TV, hand lotion, a coaster for the water I keep by my bedside at night, the phone, Annabelle’s monitor and my notebook and pen.  I use all of these things every single night so if I put them away in a drawer I would most likely forget about them, so out they stay, making my room look messy.  When company comes over I stash all of these things in the top drawer of my dresser, but this is really not a good home for them.  See, I want them out, but you know, not out-out.  (That sentence reminds me of Junior High when you would ask your friend, “Do you like him?  Or do you like-him-like-him?”)  I wanted these items somehow accessible and in a place that reminded me every night to, say, write in Annabelle’s journal, but in a way that wasn’t so messy. I loved how neat my end table looked without all the items on it and hated that it ONLY looked that way when company was coming over.  I wanted a way for it to look like that all the time…and still be functional.

So off I went in search of a solution.  I thought a pretty basket with a lid, that I could tuck all of these items neatly in, but still have “out” on my end table, would be perfect.  At first I was having trouble finding a basket with a lid (I didn’t want an open one because that wouldn’t really solve the problem of having everything in sight), but I finally found one at Home Goods.  I love this store.  It’s the best when I get the rare opportunities to go there alone because it’s more of a stroll-leisurely-around-and-imagine-where-you-could-put-all-the-neat-things-you-stumble-upon, rather than a run-in-with-a-stroller-get-what-you-need-and-run-out store.  Well, at least for me.

Anyway, I found this cool box with a lid and a fun little latch.  They came in a few sizes so I decided to get a larger one for my end table and a slightly smaller one for Mike’s end table.  I liked the idea that they were the same style but that the different sizes made them not so matchy-matchy.  And the best part was the larger box was $14.99 and the smaller one $11.99.  Again, I heart Home Goods.

So this is what my end table looked like before….

Messy, right?  And this is what it looks like now…

Yippeeee for no more end table clutter!!  It’s a small change but I feel like freeing the end tables of clutter makes a big difference in the overall feel of the room.  Here’s a little peek inside the box…

Are you wondering where the monitor and the phone went?  Peek-a-boo!  I tucked them behind the two picture frames.

I was so caught up in the glow of my new clutter free beside table, that I decided I needed a little basket for the end table in our den, a place where all the TV remotes (why are there so many?) could live.  I actually had a basket in the basement that was perfect for the job.  Now, not only do they look neat, they also have a home that’s not squished between two couch cushions.

So, is your bedside end table full of clutter?  Do you do anything nutty before company comes over?

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A Tiny Helping Hand

Annabelle is at that fun stage where she enjoys helping me do things.  For instance, she seems to have a blast each morning helping me make the bed by dragging decorative pillows bigger than she is over to me.  She’s a big fan of putting her dirty clothes in her hamper…her clothes are usually quickly followed by her shoes, her toys and any other loose items she can find.  But her hands-down favorite thing to do is to help me close things. The refrigerator door, a closet, a drawer, she’s not picky.  She doesn’t even seem to take notice of whether or not you are ready to close something, she’s just that focused on helping.  So I decided to take advantage of this desire to help.

This is our hallway coat closet.

Nothing fancy, just coats and a basket for each of us containing scarves, gloves, hats, that kind of thing.

I thought it would be great if I put up some hooks on the inside of the door “Annabelle level” so she could hang up her own coat.  Besides wanting to help, the girl is obsessed with coats.  For some reason, she adores them.  She is constantly grabbing her coat and saying, “Coat!  On!  Please!”  It’s pretty typical to see her running around the house with her coat over her pajamas.  What can I say?  She knows what she likes.

Anyway, I bought these little decorative hooks at Target.  They are supposed to remove cleanly, which I thought would be nice if I ever wanted to move the hooks up as she got taller and her coats got longer.  I decided to hang up two hooks on the inside of the closet door.

This past winter she had a little coat hanging on each hook.

Now that it’s nice out, she has a her spring jackets hanging at her level.

We now have a little routine.  When we come in I say, “Ok, let’s go hang up your coat.”  She marches over to the closet, opens the door, and tries (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to hang her coat up on the little hook.  I have to say, it’s pretty freakin’ adorable.  And the little hooks with her tiny coats hanging on them?  Well, they just make me smile.

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Fifteen Minutes Of Fury

Ok, I need to come clean and let you all in on a little secret.  I must warn you, it’s a little kooky. It’s something I embarrassingly do at least once a day…sometimes twice…ok, three times max.

It is what my husband has named “Fifteen Minutes Of Fury.”  (You have to picture it being said all dramatic and echoey, like the introduction for some badass wrestler.)

When my house gets cluttered and nutty (which is most of the time), I set the timer (usually for 15 minutes, hence the name) and then I run around my house as fast as I can seeing how much I can get done before the timer goes off.  I told you, kooky.  It’s sort of like a game, a little challenge that I happen to find kind of fun. What can I say?  I’m a bit dorky like that.  Some of my favorite scenes in movies are the makeover montages where people paint a house or clean something.  Love.  It.

The first time Mike experienced The Fury we were still dating.  I don’t think he quite knew what to make of me as he sat on the couch watching me run around my apartment like a nut, timer ticking away.  That’s when he named it “Fifteen Minutes Of Fury.”  Instead of scaring him off, he found it oddly adorable.  It makes me think of the Friends episode when Chandler discovers that Monica has a secret messy closet and she’s all embarrassed and he tells her, “I don’t love you because you’re organized, I love you in spite of that.”

Anyway, it became a thing in our house.  A verb.  “To Fury,” as in “This place is getting out of control, we need to Fury.”  I’m a lucky girl that I found a man who indulges my idiosyncrasies and will even Fury with me now and again, or when he’s watching Annabelle, call out to me the time remaining on the clock so I know how fast I need to go.  Love.  It’s the little things.

Now, I know it sounds silly, but humor me and give it a go.  You won’t be disappointed.  It really is amazing how much you can get done in a short amount of time if you really focus.  Plus, it makes mundane tasks like folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher or putting away Annabelle’s toys, kind of fun.  And the best part is it gives me a concrete amount of time to get something done with full permission to stop when the timer goes off.  When I’m feeling super energetic (or when my house has gotten doubly out of control), I set the timer for 30 minutes.  And then…watch out!

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The Mama & The Belle

On July 18, 2010 my husband Mike and I welcomed Annabelle, the little love of our lives, into the world.  She is the sweetest little girl a mother could ever hope for…with a smirk and light eyes like her daddy’s and curly reddish hair that comes from…okay so we don’t know where that comes from. She makes us laugh and love in a way that I just didn’t understand until I became her mom.

With the joys of mommyhood, also comes the chaos. I always (naively) had visions of being able to seamlessly transition from single life, to married life, to mommy life all while maintaining my color-coordinated closet.  I would be the mommy whose house never looked like a nursery school.  I would be able to teach my little one from the tender age of six weeks how to pick up all her own toys and hang up her own onsies.

See, before Annabelle arrived on the scene I found it pretty easy to have an organized home. After all it was only Mike and me, and we were both pretty good at keeping things orderly…most of the time.

And then we had a baby and everything went haywire.

Ok, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but for someone who was used to things being so tidy (think labeled spices) the impact my little daughter had on my organized world was much bigger than I imagined. I’d find myself losing things. Not remembering where I filed something. Mike would ask me where something was and I would stare at him blankly.

Now some of this is pregnancy brain, which by the way, is a very real thing, not a made-up term like I imagined it to be before I became afflicted. And some of it is just being a mom. Annabelle took precedence over everything. It was far more compelling to stare at her sleeping than to remember where I put the receipt for the dehumidifier that now needed to be exchanged. I was happier being a mom than I had ever been before in my life, and if that meant that things couldn’t be as orderly as they once were, then so be it. I’d take a giggle from my little girl over a tidy linen closet any day. No contest.

When I was small my mom had a needlepoint picture that she made hanging in our house. It read:

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,

For babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow,

So quiet down cobwebs,

Dust go to sleep,

I’m rocking my baby,

And babies don’t keep!

– Author Unknown

I always thought it was a sweet little saying, but I didn’t fully understand the truth of the poem until I became a mom. Babies DON’T keep. It seems like only a heartbeat ago Annabelle was swaddled tightly in her bassinet…and now she’s all over the place, walking and talking and laughing and dancing…

When Annabelle first arrived, I would find myself having moments of feeling behind and I’d think, if I can just get this done, I’ll feel better. This project…this party…this item on my to-do list…yet as soon as I would get what I thought I needed to get done to feel on top of things, the next to-do would peek around the corner, waving and smirking, spoiling my peace. For the first few months of her life I struggled with this feeling, always trying to push the rock to the top of the hill, only to have it roll back down again. Finally, I realized something…something that to me at least was a huge revelation. I realized that this is just what being a mom feels like.

I will never feel completely caught up. I will never feel like there isn’t a huge to-do list hiding around the corner…or a mountain of laundry…or a precious little girl who needs something from me. And you know what? That’s wonderfully OK. Admitting that I didn’t have it all together, and that I probably never would, was a relief. It meant I didn’t have to stress myself out anymore striving for something that I would never achieve. And when I looked more closely at the prize of order I was aiming for, it didn’t have quite the same shine as it did before Annabelle. Did I really want to look back on Annabelle’s childhood and not feel as though I cherished every moment with her? That I lost even a second with her stressing about the state of our filing cabinet?

It would be nice if I could just end this first post here, but, (yes there is a but coming), letting go and just being is a lot easier said than done, right? And realistically, while some stuff can wait until tomorrow, some stuff cannot. And while I adore the idea of cobwebs quieting down and dust going to sleep, that isn’t really going to happen. It would be nice though, wouldn’t it?

And, the real truth is, I just don’t have the personality to relax and let it all go. I wasn’t programed that way. I see a mess and I want to clean it up. See, I’m the girl who wants nothing more than for you to let me organize your closet. Or alphabetized your CDs. Or label your shoeboxes. Or make swirly little captions for your child’s scrapbook. Or put all of your pictures in photo albums. Or…um, sorry, I got a little carried away there, didn’t I? Where was I? Oh, yes, admitting I’m a bit, well not completely, just a tiny bit…alright fine…I’m not full-blown Type A, but I’m a pretty solid A-.

Yup, there it is.

An ex-boyfriend of mine used to threaten to throw toothpicks all over the table while we were eating, just to see how long I could last with them sitting there without picking them up. I won’t keep you in suspense, about three seconds. Tops.

So, letting it all go wasn’t an option. But things obviously couldn’t be the way they were before The Belle, nor, of course, did I want them to be. I was very happy having a home that looked like a little one lived there. That looked like a family lived and loved and played there.

But, there had to be a happy medium. I wanted my home to be a place for my little family to relax and enjoy one another…a place that made us feel comfortable the minute we walked in the front door…not a place that stressed me out.

Which brings me to today and the start of this blog, my little search for order in a mommy’s world. The dust has settled on my first 21 months of mommyhood, and while things are nowhere near as orderly as they once were in my single tiny studio apartment days, I’m finding a way, little by little, to stay afloat. Most days I’m doing the doggie paddle, head arched up trying to keep my chin above water…and some days I do sink right to the bottom…but then there are those rare occasions when I glide along the surface of the water, Michael Phelps’ style.

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