The Homes I Have Made by Thehomesihavemade - 22h ago

It’s a little surreal to be documenting Henry’s 7th birthday here on the blog! I have shared each and every one of his birthdays and the related projects around this time each year (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th), so it’s a little bit of a tradition for me! And while the parties have become less and less of a crafting marathon and Pinterest-worthy shebang, I still love to bring Henry’s latest obsession to life through small party projects (you can read more about my approach to easy party decor here). This year, Henry requested a Pokemon-themed party at the local gymnastics place, and I embraced the challenge! We used the most famous Pokemon, Pikachu, for a majority of the decor (which I’ll show you another day), but I had a distinct “vision” to make the cupcakes look like Pokeballs. Well, I was shocked when I couldn’t find a ready-made tutorial or printable on Pinterest for exactly what I was looking for, so I set out to come up with one myself. The result are these adorable and oh-so-easy DIY Pokeball Cupcakes that truly stole the show!

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My vision was a pretty simple concept. Cupcakes with lots of red frosting on top could serve as the red top half of the iconic Pokeball, and white wrappers with the signature black dot could finish off the look…

And sure enough, once I paired these ready-made cupcakes with the wrappers, we had Pokeball cupcakes ready for the party!

Supplies Needed

Here is what you need to make your own Pokeball Cupcakes!

  • Cupcakes with LOTS of bright red frosting – I like to order cupcakes from a local grocery store. Not only do they taste and look so much better, but it’s reeeeaaallly hard to get true red frosting on your own!
  • CardstockWhite and black
  • Craft glue and roller adhesive – You certainly don’t have to use both, but I found it best to use the glue to assemble the wrapper pieces and the roller adhesive to tape the wrappers shut around the cupcakes.
  • E-cutter machine such as a Cricut Explore or Silhouette – Note: I have a Cricut Explore and therefor used Cricut Design Space for this project. The concept can likely be adapted using whichever e-cutter machine/software you have and prefer, or could be done by hand if you make templates via the same concept.
Designing the Pokeball Wrapper

The Pokeball cupcake wrapper is not an image you will find in the Design Space Library. I used a combination of the Stripe Cupcake Wrapper (#M13ED921 from the Confetti + Sprinkles cartridge) and some basic circle shapes to create the design. Here is how I did it…

Place the Stripe Cupcake Wrapper Design onto your canvas (below, top). Then, ungroup the two layers and send the white layer to the back (below, bottom).

Before moving on, duplicate the black wrapper layer and set it aside (we will need it later). Next, you are going to use one of the black layers to slice the top border off the white wrapper. To do that, select the black layer and click the Unlock icon on the bottom left handle (below, top). This will unlock the proportions of the image so you can better manipulate it to fit the white wrapper. With the black layer unlocked, change its size against the white layer until you get a very even white strip the whole length of the wrapper (below, bottom).

Once you are satisfied with the border shape and size, select both the white and black layer and click Slice in the bottom right of the screen (below, top). Once you delete out all the excess images leftover from the Slice function (not shown), you will be left with a rounded border that will fit perfectly on top of the cupcake wrapper (below, bottom).

With the border created, bring the other black layer back onto the canvas. Before moving on, swap the colors to better represent a Pokeball: make the wrapper white and the border black. If you layer the black border over the white wrapper, it should be a perfect match!

Next, you need to add the iconic black dot to the wrappers. Start by adding three circles to your canvas via the Shapes menu (along the left size of the screen). Make two of them white and one black (below).

Layer the three circles and adjust the spacing and sizing until it looks the the dot on the Pokeball (below, top). You may need to adjust the size of all three circles to match the proportions of the wrapper (not shown) if you started with really big or really small circles. Once you have the sizing of the three circles right, set the top (smallest) white circle aside. Then move the black circle to the black band, and the bottom white circle to the white wrapper (below, bottom). Use the Center commands (under the Align tool) to get the dot perfectly aligned on each band.

Before welding the circles to each band, first check the spacing one last time. To do that, group the black elements together (below, top). Place the black band along the top of the white wrapper, aligning the top edges. If necessary, adjust the white circle to perfectly frame the black dot (below, bottom).

Once you are satisfied with the placement of both the black dot and the white dot, use the Weld tool to make them into solid pieces. First, select the black circle and the black band, and click Weld from the bottom right corner menu. Then repeat with the white wrapper and the larger white dot. If you’ve never used the Weld tool, you can learn more in my tutorial here.

Once you have welded the dots to the wrapper pieces (making them one solid cut), you should be left with three pieces to cut: a white wrapper, a black band, and a single white dot. Cut out as many as you need from black and white cardstock!

Assembling the Pokeball Cupcake Wrappers

I was in a bit of can’t-stop-for-pictures party prep mode, so I hope you’ll forgive me that I don’t have detailed photos of how these wrappers come together!

Using craft glue or roller adhesive (I found the glue better for this step!), attach the black band to the white wrapper, then glue the white dot on top of the black band. Easy peasy! Once you hook one end of the wrapper into the other, you are left with simple little Pokeball cupcake wrappers!

TIP! I have found that no matter how much I measure, research and compare to store-bought cupcake wrappers, my cupcake wrappers are always too big for the cupcakes. Each and every time I make them and assemble them as directed, the wrappers sit waaayy too loose and the cupcakes slide right out the bottom. If this happens to you, don’t freak out…you don’t need to re-make your wrappers!

When you assemble the wrappers, don’t even bother hooking them together (as they are shown above). Once you have your cupcakes done and ready, simply place a line of roller adhesive along one short edge of the white wrapper (below, left), then carefully wrap the wrapper around the cupcake until it fits just right. Gently press down on the adhesive to adhere it to the other side of the cupcake wrapper…and voila! You have perfectly fitting wrappers!

I’ve mentioned a few times recently that cupcakes have become my go-to solution for party cake. Not only are there a million fun and creative ways to dress them up, but they don’t require cutting or forks! After adding some sort of wrappers (always do this at home because it can get messy!), I usually load the cupcakes back into the plastic trays they came in for transport. Once at the party, I lay them out on platters for a festive display!

The kids got the biggeset kick out of these Pokeball cupcakes, but I’m not sure the parents did! While they looked adorable, all that red frosting was quite the mess! Oh well – that’s what birthdays are all about, right?!?!

I have a few more Pokemon-themed projects I’ll share down the road. For now though, if you have a Pokemon-loving kid in your home, this is certainly a fun project to try!

The post DIY Pokeball Cupcakes appeared first on The Homes I Have Made.

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In every house we’ve lived in, there always seems to be something that gets the best of me…some decor element that, no matter how much I research, analyze, brainstorm, and obsess, I just can’t seem to get right. In our current house, it’s been the rug under our kitchen table. I first documented my rug woes here.  In that post, I explained how I got not one, but two rug purchases very, very wrong despite my best efforts to get it right. At the end of that post, I conceded that we were simply going to live with the second rug (a natural braided tan and white rug), even though it was all wrong from every perspective (design, size, practicality). It wasn’t until that rug became so unsightly thanks to dirt, food and drink spills that I decided to give a kitchen rug one more go. This time…thank goodness…I got it so very right. Today I want to show you our latest (and last!) rug for under the kitchen table and share some practical tips for truly making it work!

This post contains affiliate links. You can read my Disclosure & Privacy Policy here.

Lessons Learned

Before I dish on our new rug, let me quickly summarize our first two failed rug attempts (because there is much to learn in our failures too, right?!?!). Our first rug was a flat-weave rug with a tight herringbone pattern. Not only did the flat-weave texture not hold up to heavy foot traffic, the busy pattern was way too much for the space. Our second attempt was the natural braided rug that I genuinely thought was going to be perfect: great design, durable, and a natural texture. In the end, the natural fibers of the rug turned problematic in two ways:

  1. Texture – The texture of a natural rug is not at all good for under a kitchen table. There are way too many cracks and crevices for food and crumbs to get into, and forget about cleaning up liquid spills. Within a week of having the rug under our table, we had drink and berry stains that just wouldn’t come out.
  2. Natural Fibers – Think about what happens when you leave a white piece of paper out in the sun: it turns brown. So was the case with the white stripes in the natural rug. Since half of the rug sat in direct sunlight from our large sliding glass doors, the white stripes were becoming significantly discolored.

The braided rug HAD to go, not just from a design perspective (it really clashed with the stripes on the wall nearby), but it was just so impractical for under a kitchen table. Although I wasn’t sure how or with what I’d replace it, my girlfriend helped me play merry-go-rugs to find homes for the now-discarded attempts.

The flat-weave herringbone rug was moved to the playroom and we LOOOOOVE it. It’s soft and comfy and perfect for a play space (where we are often on the floor and don’t typically wear shoes). I love how it works with the reading nook and shelves and really changes the entire space! The braided rug was placed under the bed in our bedroom, but I’m not sure it’s going to stay. While it works well with the navy and white on the bed, it clashes hard (both color-wise and stylistically) with the “glam” dressers and other accessories we have in the space. I’m also really, really bothered by how stained and discolored this rug is, so it will likely end up in our next garage sale. Until then, below the bed it waits.

Now let’s chat about our new kitchen rug and why it’s working out so well! You all might recall that I recently bought a small buffalo check outdoor rug for the boys’ bathroom. I loved that pattern SO much that I couldn’t help but try it out in the dining area too. Once I discovered that the larger versions of the rug featured a larger-scale square pattern, I knew it was the right rug for our space!

I watched the rug for a little while, waiting for it to go on sale (as most outdoor items do this time of year). Once I could get the 7×10′ size for around $100, I jumped. (Here’s the listing for the rug, but it appears to no longer be available in the Navy in the 7×10′ size, but some other colors and sizes are still available!)

From a design perspective, there are so many things about this rug that actually (finally!) work. The 7×10′ size fits our space so much better (the other two rugs were both just a touch too big). The large-scale blue and white motif works with all three of the conjoining spaces (it picks up the blues from the foyer and the family room so well!). Also, because the dining room is a “connecting” room, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to dress it up. Adding a splash of bold yet controlled pattern on the floor was just what this little nook needed. Finally, the check on the floor no longer harshly contrasts with the stripes on the far wall, and I no longer cringe every time I look at the TV from the kitchen!

Design perspective aside though, I also wanted to ensure yet another rug didn’t get totally trashed under a table where two messy kids (and sometimes messy adults ) eat. I love the look of a rug under a table, but also don’t like to waste our money. So this time around, I’m utilizing three strategies to keep this rug looking and functioning great!

Use an Outdoor Rug

The only other time we’ve successfully had a rug under our table was when we used an outdoor rug (so I’m not quite sure why I didn’t start my rug search there when we first moved in). Outdoor rugs, as you might expect, provide a durability and food/liquid resistance that traditional indoor rugs don’t, making them ideal for high-traffic and spill-prone areas. Also, not only does the treated, low pile of outdoor rugs resist dirt and stains, but if the rug does get dirty, you can drag it outside and hose it down until it is clean.

I’ve mentioned this before but it’s worth mentioning again: Target’s outdoor rugs (the Threshold brand) are soft and vibrant like indoor rugs but with that added durability of outdoor materials. We’ve use them for years in all of our bathrooms, so I’m somewhat embarrassed that it never occurred to me to try one under our table until recently. We’ve now had this rug for 2 months. Not only do spills and crumbs wipe/pick right up, but a good scrub with a clean sponge returns any high traffic areas back to bright white! And another perk of an outdoor rug? I don’t need to worry about the rug discoloring in our bright CA sunshine!

Protect Under a High Chair

It’s no surprise that the family member who drops (or rather, throws) the most food onto the floor is the baby. At 17 months old, Sam’s favorite things to do is drop anything he doesn’t want onto the floor; and that “fun” trick was leaving our other rugs a total mess. After my last rug post, a reader commented that they used clear office chair mats under highchairs to protect the rug underneath. At first, I was a little resistant from a design perspective…I was really worried how weird and obvious it would look. But…I really didn’t want to trash this rug, so I researched and found an ultra-clear mat with lots of size options. And now that we have it and use, I have to say it’s one of the smartest things we’ve done in our home. Not only does the mat mostly blend in with the rug (it’s obvious here only because I intentionally shot it at an angle it would reflect), but it makes wiping down and picking up food super easy. And of course…the rug underneath is as clean as can be! Tip! Do some research to find a really big mat that will cover the dropping radius of your child!

Keep a Handheld Vacuum Handy

The last thing we did to make a rug under the table really work for our messy family is to keep a handheld vacuum handy. That might sound like common sense, but it’s a recent change for us that is making all the difference. Our old “dustbuster” died a few moves ago, and we never got around to replacing it. Whenever we had a mess to clean up, we’d just lug out the full-size vacuum that is in a nearby closet. But let’s be honest, pulling out the large vacuum was never my favorite thing to do, so I didn’t do it as much as I should have. As such, foods, crumbs and drips stuck around on the rugs much longer than they should have (making it even harder to get those stains out).

A friend of ours’ had and raved about this cute little powerful hand-held vacuum, so I’ve had in it my Amazon cart for ages. I finally bought it and wish I had done so ages ago. Its compact size is ideal for storing on a nearby shelf and its super strong suction picks up pretty much everything. We now do a quick clean up every night after dinner with this handy little guy, and our new rug is fairing so much better as a result!

I am so excited to finally have a rug under the kitchen table that not only looks great, but is easy to keep clean with two messy kiddos in a high-traffic area! If you love the look of a rug under a table but just don’t want to see it destroyed by daily life, try some of these tips! By employing a combination of an outdoor rug, a clear mat under messy kiddos, and spot-vacuuming regularly, we’ve been able to enjoy our new rug without staring at spots and stains all day long!

I hope you all had a great week! We’re spending our weekend getting our backyard ready for warm-weather fun, and I’m so stinkin’ excited about it! I’ll see you back here next week!

The post A Rug Under the Kitchen Table | Practical Ideas for Making It Work appeared first on The Homes I Have Made.

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I tend to always be a little late to jump on the proverbial bandwagon. It took me forever to finally read the Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games series; and I’m pretty sure everyone had (and already killed!) a variety of succulents before I bought my very first one. Sometimes I’m reluctant, sometimes I’m busy, and sometimes I’m just lazy. But eventually, I catch up with the trends. Such is the case with Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This is a book that has been on my radar for a very, very long time. And considering my penchant for all things neat, tidy and organized, you may have thought or assumed I was among the first in line to read it. Admittedly, this book fell into the “reluctant” category for me. I’d seen countless blog reviews, news features, magazine articles and more touting Kondo’s message of “joy,” “neatly folded socks,” and “thanking your items for their service;” and honestly, it all kinda made me roll my eyes. But since the beginning of this year, I’ve been undertaking an education of sorts on all things slow, simple, and less. And as I’ve been making my way through a variety of books to help me on my quest to calm, I felt like it was time to finally see what all the hoopla surrounding this book was about. I read this book last week while I was on vacation with my boys, and my reaction was a surprising mixture of disappointment, intrigue, disbelief, revelation, skepticism, and inspiration. Today, I wanted to give a few quick thoughts about the book and share what happened when I actually put the famed KonMari method into practice in our home!

There is so much packed into this tiny 200 page book. It’s a quick and easy read; and it is definitely one that will give you pause, make you want to talk about it, and maybe even inspire you to implement the organizing methods outlined. I feel like I could go on and on about what is (and isn’t!) in the book, what I liked and what I didn’t, what I agree with and what I don’t…but I am trying to keep my posts to a read-able length these days #iswearimtrying! I will say this though – when I put the book down after reading it straight for two days, I was genuinely shocked and a bit confused at the cultural circus surrounding the book. I was astounded at how little was covered. I was amazed at how poorly the book was organized (of all things!). And honestly, I was taken aback by the extremely audacious claims that her method for decluttering and organizing would be a once-in-a-lifetime solution (meaning, you would never ever ever ever have to declutter and organize again!) #Seriously?!?!

Despite my pretty strong skepticism and cynicism, it’s that exact claim that made me want to try the KonMari method…just a little bit. Although I did roll my eyes at a good bit of the book, maybe her method really is as revolutionary as it claims? My extensive experience with decluttering and creating cute organization systems hasn’t truly stemmed the tide of stuff in our home, so maybe I do have a thing or two to learn? Could her too-simple, bare bones, extreme method really be a panacea from living with too much stuff? Could 4 little words really change our home forever? As much as I wanted to toss the book aside, Kondo’s book planted too many seeds of “but what if?” and “it doesn’t hurt to try it,” and “what do I have to lose?” and “could this really work?” So…I KonMari’d my closet (exactly where she said to start); and in short: I totally, really get it.

Does It Spark Joy?

I’m sure you’ve seen and read various decluttering tips and tricks from organizing experts: “If you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it.” “If it’s broken or missing pieces, toss it.” “If it doesn’t fit you right,” “If you never use it,” “If the color is different than it looked in the store”…I could go on and on and on. Kondo skips every single one of those guidelines and suggest that you instead use four easy words to declutter your home: “Does it spark joy?” That’s it. You are supposed to take each and every item (in a specified order, in your hands) and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If the answer is real, true, fervent “YES,” you keep it. If the answer is any version of “no,” you toss it. There are no thoughts of functionality, usefulness, sentimentality, or practicality. If the items lights some sort of fire in you, you keep it. Otherwise, you don’t need or truly want it. It’s a simple if not ruthless method…and by doing this – truly, authentically, genuinely – you will theoretically be left with a home full of items you love and nothing else. And that alone would be life changing.

Yep – I was rolling my eyes too. Until I tried It.

KonMari-ing My Closet

Kondo is adamant about decluttering your home in a certain order, and prescribes starting in the closet with your clothes. And so I did. I emptied my closet in the exact way she said to. I then took each item, one at a time, into my hands and (reluctantly) asked if it sparked joy. And boy was I surprised at the answers I “heard.” As I went, item by item by item, the most incredible and surprising thing of all (and the whole reason I’m sharing this with you!) was how instinctual the answer to that question really was. If I genuinely and honestly thought about each item and asked if it sparked joy, I instinctively said “YES” to the things I wear, fit well, love the pattern on, and treasure. Likewise, I instinctively said “NO” to the things that were falling apart, I never wore, never truly loved, were holding onto out of obligation or didn’t fit quite right. I was taken aback at how clear (not easy, but clear) the answer was each time. I rarely struggled, I rarely had to think twice. In my gut, I knew exactly which items sparked joy and therefor would stay and which ones were taking up time, space, and choices. By asking if an item sparks joy and answering honestly, I was able to strip away a lot of the excuses for keeping items I truly don’t need or want <– and my hunch is it’s that exact reason why Kondo’s process is so different than any other.

In a very short matter of time, I had two large garbage bags full of clothes, shoes and bags to head off to the donation center. After decluttering sessions in the past, I always had a few things I kept out of guilt, obligation or sentimentality. This time, I don’t. I can honestly say everything that remains are items I truly, really love. Life changing.

The Beauty of Simple Storage

Kondo makes some other big claims in the book. Many I won’t go into now, but I did want to bring up one more. She suggests that once you really declutter a category (like clothes), you will be able to put things away, in the space you have, without any additional storage units or fancy storage systems. #gasp! Clearly she hasn’t met me! I thrive on maximizing space in a given area and basketing-labeling-stacking-and-corralling every inch until everything fits. Since that’s my instinct and go-to-method, before I started putting all the clothing keepers back into my closet, I went out to the garage and found every bin and basket I might need. Just this morning though, I put every single one of those bins and baskets back in into the garage because I didn’t need them after all. All of my items fit back into the space I had…with room to spare.

I now have one entire hanging rod and 6 shelves completely empty. Everything has a well-fitting and logical spot (using her folding method of course…the one I rolled my eyes at). Everything is easy to put away and is nice to look at. There are no fancy baskets, no complicated systems. Nothing fussy…and nothing, if I’m being honest, particularly blog worthy (sorry for the bad photos by the way, our closet is a dungeon!)! But it’s neat and tidy and oh-so-easy to maintain. In the week since I’ve done this, I find that I am no longer taking things off and leaving them piled on the floor or on the bench at the foot of our bed. I know exactly where each item goes. I know it will fit without pushing/pulling/tugging/straining/undoing some complicated system…and so I go and put it away. Life changing. 

Life Changing? Quite Possibly.

This isn’t the post I envisioned writing after I first finished reading Marie Kondo’s book. In fact, I already had a rough draft in my head all about why I didn’t understand the frenzy, how ridiculous her methods are, and how I just didn’t get any bit of it. But I really am on a true and slow “Quest to Less” and the organizing junkie in me couldn’t help but try it. And so I did.  I’ve only KonMari’d my clothes and my books; the next category on the list is paperwork. But…I can confidently (if not reluctantly!) say: I get it. Already…the decluttering feels different. Already…the changes feel real and true and maintainable. I don’t want to say it or believe it, but the book’s title might really be true. This method, this book…might really be life-changing. Time will tell I guess.

This post wasn’t the one I had “queued up” for today, but I really couldn’t help chatting about this here and now. At this point, I do plan to keep going through our things using Marie Kondo’s method; I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going and what I’m learning along the way. After all, clothes and books were easy for me. Once I get to home items and fabric, I might find that “joy” question much harder to answer! At the end of this year, I plan to share with you the variety of books I’ve read on our “Quest for Less,” as I’ve had a lot of eye- and heart-opening realizations already (via this book and others!). For now, though, I’d love to hear – have you read this book? Did you like it? Have you tried it? Were you skeptical? Did you roll your eyes too? I want to hear it all, so share away in the comments!

Oh – and if you’re looking for some other thoughts and inspirations I’ve learned and am learning on our “Quest for Less,” you can check out these other posts!

See you back here on Friday!

The post Does It Spark Joy? My 1st KonMari Experience appeared first on The Homes I Have Made.

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Three years ago, I made and shared one of my very first printable kits – a (very) simple set of moving worksheets. Over the years, it’s become one of my most popular downloads. Yet despite it’s popularity, I knew the kit was painfully short on truly helpful moving resources. I have wanted to expand and update that kit pretty much since the day I launched it, so to say I am thrilled about this month’s Toolbox release is a total understatement! Moving is a big deal to our family (and to a lot of our close friends), so I set out to create a useful, functional, and pretty (of course!) set of moving worksheets that would make our (many) moves just a little easier. I poured every idea I had into this kit, ballooning it to well over 100 pages! The result is a truly comprehensive set of worksheets that can be mixed and matched as needed to help you plan and organize every detail of any move, whether it’s just down the street or across the globe!

I didn’t intend this kit to turn into such a massive set of worksheets. But let’s be real: moving is complicated. There are lots of details to track, appointments to make, boxes to pack and more. I decided that if I was going to make a moving binder kit, I was going to make one that helped track all those details with ease. Before I dive in and show you everything included, let me give you a quick overview of how these worksheets (can) come together to make a handy printable moving binder that can be by your side every step of the way!

In addition to the worksheets (which I’ll go into detail below), this kit comes with everything you need to make a pretty moving binder. I’ve included 2 cover options (with matching spines), as well as category dividers and tabs.

All the worksheets in this kit are organized into 6 different color-coded sections. As I mentioned above, moving has so many moving parts (ha! #punny). You have to vacate one house, move locations (which can often require travel), and then move into the other space. As such, this kit is organized into the chronological aspects of a move: Current Home (the one you’re vacating) | Inventories (to track where everything is!) | En Route (traveling to your new location)  | New Home (the one you’re moving into) | Schedules (moving doesn’t happen in a day, so I’ve given you lots of different planners to map it all out!) | Miscellaneous (for any other detail you may need to keep track of).

Each section comes with two cover page options, as well as printable/cuttable tabs to ensure everything matches just right! If you’re not sure how to assemble these binder dividers, you can see how I did it my Kitchen Binder here.

In addition to the happy colors, clean design, and intuitive icons that are featured across most of my printable kits, I’ve done a few new things this time around too! All of the worksheets are now designed as two-page spreads, as shown below. Not only does this give you a fantastic amount of space to work on, but the second page (with the small color band across the bottom) can be printed as many times as needed allowing you to expand each section infinitely!

While most of the pages in this kit are designed in portrait orientation, there are a few done in landscape format to help sort and organize information better. These sheets also have matching second pages. Oh – and all those labels such as “kitchen,” dining room,” and “family room”? They are all changeable so you can type anything into these worksheets to make them perfectly suited to your needs!

The other new thing I did this time around was design it so that when printed double-sided, you end up with a perfectly organized, spaced and complete workbook. Blank pages are inserted so that each and every page prints in the two-page spread I showed above. I couldn’t leave all those blank pages empty, of course, so they are filled with fun and motivating moving quotes!

Now that you have a general sense for how this kit is organized, let me show you all the printable goodies available to help you have your most organized move yet!

Section 1 – Current Home

Before you can vacate your current home and move to a new one, there are LOTS of things to do! From canceling utilities, hiring contractors to make repairs, ordering moving supplies and more, these 20 blue pages will make sure everything is on track to get done.

Included in this section:

When assembling your binder, I also recommend you include your current lease, inspection checklists, utility contracts and other important documents you may need during the move out process! Don’t forget to include an empty page protector to catch receipts and signed-off forms!

Section 2 – Inventories

As a military family, we are fortunate enough to have professional movers box and inventory all of our belongings. However, I know that is not an option for many people. As such, one of the main things I wanted to include in this kit was a comprehensive set of inventories so you can label and track all your boxes from point A to point B!

Even if you do use packers for a majority of your belongings, there are several sheets that may still come in handy. We always document our high-value items and our personal documents; and car inventory sheets help us mentally sort through what needs to go in the cars versus what can go on the moving truck!

Section 3 – En Route

Depending on how far you’re moving, you may not need this section at all or you may need multiples of every single page! Our moves tend to be across the country, so we often need to track miles, expenses and lodging costs.

The 18 pages in this section can help you plan how exactly you will get from your Current Home to your New Home, and help you track any necessary details along the way! This is another section where an empty page protector is imperative to hold receipts if you will need to file a travel claim.

Section 4 – New Home

The pink section of this kit is quite robust, sitting at 36 pretty worksheets! These are the pages that will help you unpack and get settled in your new space once you arrive!

From house hunting worksheets and change-of-address checklists, to shopping lists and my favorite “Will It Fit” worksheets, these pages will help you keep all the details for your new place accessible and easy to find.

And just like all the other pages, you can type right into these worksheets to add whatever rooms, furniture and dimensions that make sense for your new home.

Section 5 – Schedules

We often have to start planning our moves months before the moving trucks actually pull away. So you can plan in a way that works for you and makes the most sense considering your timeline, this kit includes a variety of planners.

From one-week to one-month spreads, grid-style versus checklist-style planners, you can print these worksheets in multiples to cover any length of period you need!

Section 6 – Miscellaneous

The green section is short and sweet, including only a Moving Budget worksheet, as well as the To-Do and Notes pages included in every other section.

This is a great place for any random papers or information you don’t want to lose track of!

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Of all the Cricut Design Space tutorials I’ve done over the years, it’s pretty remarkable that this is the first time I am going over the Contour Tool in detail. Of all the various tools and capabilities in the Design Space software, it is by far my favorite tool, the one I use the most, and the one I believe is the most powerful in letting you truly create unique and custom gifts, decor and more. By its name, you likely wouldn’t know what the Contour Tool is or what it does (which is probably why I get lots of questions about it!). The best way to think of the Contour Tool is as an “On/Off Button;” as in, this tool allows you to turn on and off ANY cut line in ANY cut file, thereby letting you customize any image in countless ways. That sounds a little abstract, so how about I show you how to use the Contour Tool in Cricut Design Space, as well as some really cool things you can do with it?!?

I am pretty certain I’ve used the Contour Tool in some way, shape or form on pretty much every project I’ve made. This tool just makes it way too easy to make things that are uniquely yours, rather than having to rely strictly on the images from the Design Space library as they are. Here are just a few projects that have used this tool heavily:

Love Vase | Sparkle Pillow | Vinyl Dresser | Ninjago Party

These examples may still be a little vague, so let me show you a much better example of what the Contour Tool can do. Below, is a three-piece tray and mug set I made using vinyl. Each one has a slightly different pattern and design…but they were ALL created using the exact same flower graphic. By turning different elements of the flower design on and off, turning them around, and changing their sizes, I was able to create a unique design for each piece of this set.

Here is the basic flower I used…

But now look closely at the details of each piece (below), and you’ll see what I mean. The original flower is used on the small white tray. But then the center of the flower was “Contoured out” to create additional details in the pattern, as well as the border on the pink tray and on the Mom mug…

While each design across the set is unique, since they started with the same basic image, they perfectly coordinate with each other! Get ready to start seeing the images in the Design Space library in a whole new way!

Using the Contour Tool In Cricut Design Space

Using this tool is pretty easy and intuitive once you know what it is and what it does. To start, place any design on your Design Space canvas. I chose this blue flower from the Florals Embellished set.

It’s important to note that the Contour Tool will only work on a single layer. If your image has multiple layers, you will notice that the Contour Tool is not highlighted along the bottom toolbar (which means you can’t use it.)

The Contour Tool will work on any layer of any design, just not layers that are grouped together. So if your image has multiple layers, ungroup them and then select a single layer to work on. Once you have a single layer selected, you will notice the Contour Tool illuminated on your bottom toolbar.

With an image (single layer) selected, click on that Contour icon along the bottom toolbar. Once you do, you will see your selected image open in a new window. This image (shown in the white box below) is essentially “clickable” and you can click each element of the design to turn them either on (to be cut) or off (not cut). You can click either on the image itself or on each element of the design along the right-hand side of the box. If the design elements have a white background, they are “on,” which means they will be cut.

But as you click each design element off, either by clicking on the design (on the left) or the list (on the right), the elements that you’ve turned “off” will be greyed out. In the example below, notice how everything is turned “off” with the exception of the outlined image (below, top). If you click out of that white box back to your design, you’ll see all the inside cuts of the design are now gone, and you are left with a solid flower (below, bottom).

At any time, you can click back into the image and re-contour out different elements. This time, I went back into the same flower, turned the middle petal shape back on and turned the outside flower border off (below, top). Now, just the center part of the flower remains as a single cut design (below, bottom).

Just by using the Contour Tool on this single blue flower, I am able to create 5 unique designs, as shown below:

And just as the flower was right when you inserted it onto your canvas, each of these elements is now its own, individual graphic that can be manipulated however you wish, such as changing the size, rotation and color. These individual elements can also be sliced and welded just like other design elements too! Essentially, you are able to take the “negative” parts of any design (those parts that would be discarded) and turn them into their own cut-able images.

Small White Tray

Once you get the hang of using the Contour Tool and understanding what it can do, your eyes will really be open to the possibilities of tweaking and manipulating images over and over again. Using the Contour tool is the main way I re-color designs and how I make patterns that coordinate with each other. For example, to make the white patterned tray for this post, I used the basic flower design, and then #1 (large center petal) and #2 (leaf details) elements (from above). By rotating the various elements and changing their sizes, I was able to create a basic tile (below, top). Once laid out in a repeating pattern (below, bottom)…

I was left with a pattern that feels interesting, whimsical and fun…all from a single flower!

Large Pink Tray

Let’s use the same flower to create yet a different design. For the center of the pink tray, I used the same flower “tile” I created for the white tray (the two flowers plus the two petals); I just sized it bigger to fill out the center of the larger tray. I then took that same small petal detail and put 10 of them in a line (equally spaced and lined up along the top). Once welded together, I had a border that perfectly matched my flower design…

Super Mom Mug

Finally, I mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth repeating. Once you contour out an image into different/smaller elements, these elements function just like any other design in Design Space. Meaning you can weld, slice, attach, rotate and re-color it however you wish. For the Super Mom mug, I found another graphic in the Florals Embellished set I really liked, but the floral element already on it didn’t quite match the patterns I made for the tray.

To match the flower design on Mom to the flower I was already working with:

  1. I first deleted out the green layer by ungrouping the design, selecting the green layer in the Layers panel and clicking Delete.
  2. With the green layer gone, I am left with a single-layered Super Mom design with no flower detail.
  3. I then placed another one of my original flower images onto the canvas and used the Contour Tool to turn off all the cut lines except for the two inside petal details.
  4. I re-sized the petal graphic to fit into the Mom design. I then selected everything and clicked “Slice” (along the bottom toolbar). Once all the excess pieces are deleted out, the contoured-petal design is cut into the Super Mom graphic!

I tried to be as thorough as possible with these pictures and instructions, but the Contour Tool is really best understood when seen in action. As such, here’s a short video tutorial to show you the different ways I use the Contour Tool to turn various parts of this design on and off!

How to Use the Contour Tool In Cricut Design Space - YouTube

I truly believe that the Contour Tool is THE best tool in Cricut Design Space since it allows you manipulate images in countless ways! This is especially helpful if you don’t have a Design Space subscription and/or only have access to limited designs. By using this tool, you can change them and play with them to create new things over and over. I only scratched the surface of how I use the Contour Tool in this post (I’m laying the groundwork for some more posts to come!), but I hope this opens your eyes to the ability you have to create almost anything!

Cricut Explore for Home Decor Series!

I realize there are so many great

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A few weeks ago, I shared with you all the things I can’t seem to stop buying from Target; and one of those things was textiles! From window treatments and pillow cases to tablecloths and shower curtains…it seems like I am constantly finding patterns I love for various spots around our home. About a month ago, I stumbled upon a shower curtain and table runner that together suddenly made all of our various decor elements on our first floor click together. I’m going to show you what I did with the shower curtain here soon; but today, I want to show you how I transformed an off-the-shelf table runner into super simple DIY throw pillows in mere minutes! I know you guys will love this budget-friendly and easy DIY, so let me show you how I did it!

As I mentioned in this post, I have been known to wonder the textile aisles of Target looking for products that inspire me. In addition to fantastic colors and patterns that I can’t seem to find on bolts in the fabric store, I also keep my eye out for great bargains…as in, a good bit of fabric at a great price! On two separate trips to Target recently, I came across both a shower curtain and a table runner that, when paired together, brought so many different elements of our first floor together. I instantly had a plan for how to use each one; and I am positively giddy that our first floor (which I’ve reeeeaaallly struggled to pull together) is finally almost done! Here’s the table runner and shower curtain together…

Why did this particular table runner catch my eye? A few reasons. One, the colors worked SO well with the shower curtain I had picked out for another project (more on that soon). I told you, even across department and seasons, Target products tend to coordinate really well! Second, look at the size of this runner. You probably can’t read it so I’ll help you out: 20″x90.” I always take note when something is 20.” Why? Because most of our throw pillows are 20.” So if something is already 20″ wide, it’s a great candidate to turn into throw pillows.

The final thing that caught my eye with this table runner is that it is lined, and lined with good-quality fabric. While any right-sized table runner could be cut into two sides of a pillow cover, the fact that this runner is lined meant that the pillows were essentially already constructed, with the top and bottom already stitched together. All I had to do was cut the runner down into pillow-sized squares, slide a pillow in and sew up the single open seam. At 90″ long, that meant I could get four pillow covers out of 1 table runner. Four! And I bought this runner on sale for $19. Friends, that’s less than $5 a pillow cover and they took me about 15 minutes each. #totalbargain.

Here is the table runner folded in half length-wise. By cutting a square off of each end, I had two pillow covers with three seams finished and one seam open to insert the pillow. If you were to cut two pillows off of only one end (or cut down the entire runner into squares), the second pillow would be open on both sides, requiring you to sew two seems instead of just one. #ihopethatmakessense?

I only needed two pillows for our couch, so I used each finished end. I still have the center 48″ of runner left to do something else with!

Supplies Needed

You don’t need much for this project! Here’s what you need:

Cutting Down the Runner

I am going to show you how I constructed pillow covers from this tablecloth. Please note you may need to adapt these instructions to fit other runners or pillow sizes!

Start by measuring the width of your table runner. To make a perfect square pillow form, you will need to use this measurement + 1/2″ (for seam allowance). My finished table runner measured 20.5″ exactly (below left), so I used my ruler and rotary cutter to cut a 21″-wide piece off the runner (below right).

In the image below, you can already see how this will work. I cut 21″ into the end of the finished table runner. I now have three finished sides and one open side into which I can slide a pillow form. But hold on, we have to work on the corners a bit!

Finishing the Corners

When you make a pillow from scratch, you place two right sides of fabric together, sew around the four sides (leaving a gap to insert your pillow form) and then flip the whole thing right-side out. Part of the reason you do this is so all your corners look nice and tidy when turned right-side out. If you were just to sew your open seam shut, not only would you have unfinished edges but you’d end up with pretty unsightly corners. So let’s fix it!

Even though your pillow is sewn and finished on three sides, go ahead and flip it inside-out. Once flipped so that the right-side of the fabric is facing in, match up the unfinished corners (along the raw edge you cut) and pin in place. Using a sewing machine, re-sew 2″ in each direction as shown below:

Stitching along the finished side (above, along the right) will help secure stitches that may have gone lose when you cut the runner apart. Stitching two inches along the raw, open edge (above, along the bottom) of the pillow cover will complete your corners. Below is how my unfinished corners looked when all sewn up:

As you would with any pillow project, carefully slice away the corner of fabric along the diagonal, as close to the stitches as possible without actually cutting the stitches. Removing this little section of fabric will reduce bulk and make your corners look so much nicer.

Finishing the Final Pillow Seam

This next step is optional but I always find it makes finishing up the final pillow seam so much easier.

With your pillow still turned inside out, use a hot iron to fold over and crease each side of your open seam (both the patterned fabric and the lining) 1/2″ in toward the pillow. Use a seam gauge to help you if necessary. Below (top) is the lining pressed in; below (bottom) is the pillow flipped over, and the patterned fabric then pressed in toward the pillow.

Now when you turn the pillow case right-side-out, not only will you have lovely corners, but your final open seam is tidy, pressed and ready to be sewn shut. Well, after you put the pillow in, of course!

So…the next step is to insert your pillow form! Do it carefully so as not to pop any of the stitches you just sewed.

With your pillow form inserted into the case, use pins to bring your two ironed edges together and close up the final open seam.

Alright, I have a bit of a disclaimer to make at this point. Usually, when sewing a pillow shut, you’re supposed to do it by hand with a needle and thread in order to perfectly conceal the stitches. Well…I chose to use my sewing machine to sew up the final seam (sacrilege!!!!), and this is why:

  1. I wanted this done in a jiffy. #reallife
  2. This table runner already had an 1/8″ top stitch around the entire perimeter of the pillow. Yes, I could have undone the top stitching so the seams looked like more traditional pillow seams; but again, I wanted this done quickly. So, I chose to follow the top stitching (already on the three sides of the pillow) down the fourth side to close up the pillow cover. This is certainly not the “correct” way to sew a pillow shut, but I decided to choose “quick but still looks great” over “tedious and looks perfect.”

The top stitching around the table runner had pretty tight stitches, so I set my machine to the lowest stitch length possible…

I then sewed my final seam shut, using a 1/8″ seam that matched the other three sides of the pillow.

And with that one simple seam on each cover, the pillows were done and I could throw them right onto the couch!

I hope you guys love this idea as much as I do. If you’ve sewn a pillow cover together a million times, I hope this gives you a new method for using off-the-shelf products to make pillows in a snap. If you’ve never sewn a pillow cover, I hope this super simple version gives you confidence to give it a try (you can handle one seam!!!) And if nothing else, I hope this encourages all of you to look at the items you find in a new way…whether it’s at your favorite store or a garage sale… What can you turn it into? How can it be cut apart? How can it be put back together? With scissors, a sewing machine, and an idea, (almost) anything is possible!

The post DIY Throw Pillow Covers From a Target Table Runner appeared first on The Homes I Have Made.

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The Homes I Have Made by Thehomesihavemade - 1M ago

Today’s post is going to be exceptionally short, but for a very sweet reason!

9 months.

All our birthdays. Our 12th wedding anniversary. 7 holidays. 3 school breaks. Countless childhood milestones. Millions of moments, both good and bad, trying and rewarding…for all of us.

But the only thing that really, truly matters…is that he came home to us safe and sound.

I’ll see you back here next week with a pillow project and a new Cricut tutorial. For now, though, I’m gonna go squeeze these boys with all I’ve got and not let go for a good long while. Happy Weekend!

The post Short But Oh So Sweet! appeared first on The Homes I Have Made.

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“Super” is the word that we have somehow connected to our sweet Sammy! His nursery was Superhero Themed; he was Batman’s loyal sidekick, Robin, for Halloween; and most recently we threw him a “Superhero” themed first birthday party. Well, every superhero surely needs a super cape, and I came up with a super easy way to add one to any onesie! Not only does this cape for a baby onesie come together in about 20 minutes AND look super adorable, the way it’s attached ensures it won’t bother you or your little one a bit! Let me show you how I did it!

This post contains affiliate links. You can read my Disclosure & Privacy Policy here.

I wish I could say this cape tutorial was my first attempt at making a baby cape. I actually originally made Sam a “normal” cape (the kind that is a full half circle and fastens around the neck), but I quickly realized that 1) he’d never, ever keep the cape on; 2) it might be a bit of a choking hazard if he got tangled in it; and 3) it was simply too big for his little body. So, we tucked that cape away into the dress-up bin, and I went back to the drawing board to come up with a design that would still look like a cape but use a lot less fabric and mostly, stay out of his busy little way!

This cape, made from a simple gathered rectangle, does all those things. And because it is attached to the upper back of a onesie (via Velcro!), it’s something you could attach to any onesie or shirt at any time!

I first sewed this cape for Sam’s Robin Halloween costume, but then easily transitioned it to another onesie for his birthday party.

Even if you’re not a great sewer, this IS a project you can do! Here’s what you need:

  1. ¼ Yard Cape Fabric – For a single baby cape, you only need about ¼ yard. I recommend looking for fabric that doesn’t fray (because we aren’t going to hem it) and has a little something to it (e.g., shimmer, shine, sparkle, design).
  2. Coordinating Thread
  3. Coordinating Cotton Fabric – If you choose a costume-type fabric that has stretch or give for your cape, you will likely want to a coordinating plain cotton fabric for the top “collar.”
  4. Velcro – Velcro is certainly optional (you can always just sew the cape to your onesie), but the Velcro allows you to quickly and easily take the cape off if your little one doesn’t like it! I used sew-on Velcro, but if you’d rather a less permanent solution, try peel-and-stick!
  5. Not shown: Scissors or rotary cutter and ruler | sewing machine | pins | iron

If you’re not entirely sure what fabric you should get, I highly recommend what I picked out. Admittedly, it was a whim of a purchase, but it worked out brilliantly for this project. It’s called Panne (specifically, mine was Panne Foil Yellow from the costume/novelty fabrics section at JoAnns.) This fabric didn’t fray, had a lot of “body” (so it swooshed nicely), and had just enough sparkle for a cape project! You can often find it on sale or use a coupon to get it pretty cheap!

Cut Out the Cape

Start by using a scissors or rotary cutter to trim the fabric down into a ~9” x 16” rectangle. Your measurements don’t need to be overly precise, but this size works great for babies!

Next, we’re going to create scallops along the bottom of the cape. To do this quickly and easily, first fold the rectangle in half length-wise (below, left). Then fold it in half again (below, right).

Next, find a round glass, bowl or (in my case) lens cap that measures about 2-3” in diameter. Trace your round shape along the bottom of your folded fabric, as shown below. 

Tip – I recommend making your scallop pretty “deep.” Once it is cut out, a shallow scallop is hardly noticeable!

Next, use a sharp scissors to cut away the traced half-circle (below, left). When you unfold your fabric, you will have four even scallops along the bottom of your cape!

Gather the Fabric

Next, you’re going to gather the fabric along the top of the rectangle (opposite of the scallops you just cut out). To do this, sew two basting lines about 1” and 1.5” down from the top of the fabric…

And then gently tug on the basting threads to create small and even gathers along the top of the rectangle. For more help with gathering fabric, I have a detailed tutorial for you here.

With your cape cut and gathered, you can now set it aside while we work on the “collar.”

Creating a Collar for the Cape

I am calling the solid strip across the top of the cape a “collar” for lack of a better term. Essentially, you are going to use a cotton band of fabric to hold the gathers of the cape in place and provide a way to secure the whole cape to the onesie.

Start by cutting down a solid coordinating cotton into a 2.5” x 16” strip. Note – This certainly doesn’t have to be a solid cotton, but you want to use something that doesn’t stretch or give too much.

Next, use an iron to fold over both the top and bottom edges of the strip ¼” (below, top). Then, fold the entire strip in half, length-wise, bringing the two ironed edges together. Press the seam again (below, bottom).

Open the folded strip and find the center. Place the gathered top of your cape into the center of the strip, along the bottom half of the fold.

Fold the strip down over the gathers along the ironed crease, and pin in place.

Pin the entire strip along the top of the cape, ensuring the gathers are sufficiently and evenly tucked into the fold. You don’t want those gathers to slip out as you sew, so use as many pins as necessary here!

Next, use a standard stitch and coordinating thread to sew down the open length of the cotton strip. Work carefully to catch both sides of the cotton strip in your stitches, as well as all the gathers of the cape. Continue to sew up the sides and along the top of the cotton strip, so that you  have stitching on all four sides of the collar.

Next, if necessary, trim down the length of the cotton strip to about 9-10”

Fold over each end of the collar about ½-1” and iron in place (below, left). Before sewing, place a length of Velcro along the inside/wrong side of the collar, covering the exposed ends (below, right).

Use your sewing machine to sew around all four sides of the Velcro, as close to the Velcro’s edge as possible.

With that, your cape is done! Now it’s time to secure it to a onesie!

Securing the Cape to a Onesie

Trim down the other half of the Velcro to fit the collar on your cape (if it isn’t already cut). Pin the Velcro along the top, back of any onesie.

Using coordinating thread, sew the Velcro to the onesie. Note – Do not sew through the back/inside flaps of the onesie, or else there will not be enough give to get the onesie onto your child. Make sure the Velcro is ONLY sewn to the very back fabric of the onesie.

With the Velcro sewn in place, all you need to do is secure the two pieces of Velcro together and your baby Superhero is ready to save the day!

As I said before, there are a few things I really love about this cape project. One, it’s the perfect size and shape for little ones without it being in their way. Sam wore his cape for both Halloween and his birthday party; and each time, he had no idea it was there! I also love that the cape is attached to the onesie via Velcro, which means you can technically add it to any onesie and remove it when the Superhero’s day is done!

I’d love to hear if you ever give this baby cape a try! I know it’s a funny time of year to share such a tutorial so be sure to pin it now so you can find it come Halloween time!

I hope your week is off to a great..

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In the grand scheme of life and households, I’m not sure we fall into the category of “super crazy busy.” Nonetheless, we are a family with two young kids, jobs, and lives to manage and enjoy; and for much of 2017, I felt like each and every day was passing me by all too quickly. Every day I woke up with a list of things I wanted or needed to get done; and despite never sitting down for a minute of the day, every night I would fall into bed anxious, exhausted, wondering where the day went, with nothing checked off my list. At the beginning of 2018, I decided to actively restore a sense of calm to my days and our household, so I started reading books, listening to podcasts, and having conversations that planted seeds of simplification, paring down, and slowing down. It was in the midst of all this refection and consideration that I had a bit of an “a ha” moment. When our house is feeling too full, cluttered and busy, I shift into decluttering mode. I get rid of the things we no longer need or love in order to make room for the things we do. I group like items together and then label them so they have a clear, dedicated and logical place. The result is a restoration of order and a renewed sense of peace across our home. So I wondered: if this process works so well in our home, why can’t the same actions on our schedules have a similar affect on our days? So I set out to declutter our days just the way I would declutter a junk drawer; and the result has been a more comfortable pace to life, a more productive mama, and a much happier home! Let me explain!

Before you can begin transforming your days, you first have to do a little reflection. Just as you’d look around the house and take stock of where the clutter is piling up, take stock of your days too. What and when are your stressful moments? What always seems to fall through the cracks? What are you always scrambling to get done? What part(s) of the day are the most stressful? What part(s) of the day are working great? What things always take longer than you think? Where are systems breaking down? Only by really honing in on the various parts of your day and getting real about what’s working and not, can you even begin to fix it!

In Our House. After the stress of last Fall, the holidays and some travel, I felt like I was dropping balls right and left and constantly “putting out fires” throughout our day, only to flop into bed with a list of to-dos completely un-touched. My main areas of stress were (just to name a few): getting the trash out the night before trash day | working too close to deadlines so if the baby took a short nap, I was in a serious pinch that required staying up too late | I was getting the kiddos into bed too late because I was getting dinner on the table too late because I was starting to make dinner too late because we were getting in the door too late | not getting good quality homework time in with Henry because we were sitting down to do work at the Baby’s most needy time of day.

Assess What You Have

To declutter your family’s schedule, start just as you would declutter a room, closet or junk drawer: take everything out and assess what is there. Obviously, you can’t take everything out of a day in a literal sense, but you can step back from the daily grind, calendar in hand if necessary, and consider everything on your family’s docket. Take stock of obvious commitments such as work, school, church and teams/clubs; but don’t overlook other important things that also have to get done like grocery shopping, laundry, homework time and housework. Think about which things are absolutely necessary and/or important; which ones are nice to have or like to have; which obligations are unpleasant or unnecessary; and finally, consider forgotten and hidden tasks that are taking up space and energy in your life without you really noticing. If necessary, write everything down on a piece of paper, by category or by family member. Just as you would empty everything out of the junk drawer to see what’s there and determine what can fit back in…get all your obligations and responsibilities down on paper so you can see everything that needs to fit into the limits of your calendar.

In Our House. Without detailing every minute of our lives…the “necessary obligations” for our family included work, school, church, household management (e.g., groceries, laundry, housework), and homework time. Our “nice to have” obligations included activities for the boys, social time, and fitness and recreation activities. “Forgotten or hidden” tasks included returning library books, contributing to classroom projects/activities, coordination of parties, activities and social events, etc.

Get Rid of the Junk

Next, “get rid” of anything on your schedule that is an easy decision: those things that are truly unwanted or unnecessary. Think about the tasks and obligations in your life that are like the empty candy wrappers, old receipts, duplicates or vending machine prizes in your junk drawer. What can you easily sweep away without a second thought? What are the things you don’t really care about, enjoy, or make sense for your family? Take these “no brainer” items off your plate so you can more clearly see the things that really matter or are truly necessary. If you’re doing this with a pencil and paper, cross off those items you are saying “no” to and no longer choosing to put on your schedule.

In Our House. I used the word “junk” here to help with the decluttering analogy; but for me, I didn’t necessarily clear away “junk.” Rather, I had gotten to a place where it became VERY clear what things in my life needed to go. I had some work obligations, social obligations, and self-imposed personal obligations that I knew were truly stifling me and causing me a lot of stress. So instead of continuing to suffer through the chaos, I decided it was finally time to cut these anxiety-inducing obligations out, and so I did.    

Prioritize the Things You Need and Love

With the “junk” cleared away, it’s time for the hard work: analyzing everything left and figuring out if and how it fits into your life. Before you can start randomly assigning certain tasks to certain days/times/windows though, take some time to prioritize. You can do this by making an ordered list, color-coding, using numbers, or assigning labels such as “want to do,” “really want to do,” and “must do.” No matter how you do it, the main goal is to identify what truly needs to be on your schedule and what things can come off or at least be scaled back.

In Our House. I really had to take a step back here and figure out what absolutely had to get done. Yes, I want to sew and make pretty things (and even work here on the blog!), but none of those things fell into my “must do” category. My “must dos” are to take care of my children and our household (and everything that entails). With those two obligations firmly set in place, I could then more clearly see where and how I needed to spend my time.  

Group Like Items Together

I may be forcing the decluttering analogy a bit here, but stick with me. Next, take a look at your commitments, tasks and obligations that are still on your list. Think about what can be “grouped together” in order to save time, make them fit better on your schedule, and/or become more efficient. These may or may not be “like” things in the traditional sense; but by lumping logical tasks together, you will only need to find a single spot on your schedule for them to get done (rather than 2 or 3). This not only makes certain chores and tasks easier to complete, but it frees up precious time for other (more fun!) things!

In Our House. In recent months I’ve identified some tweaks to the ways I do things that have made a huge difference in not only how much gets done but how our days go. Here are just a few of my favorite time “hacks”:

  • Use Bath Time to Clean – Since I have to be in the bathroom anyway to supervise the kiddos, I’ll use those few minutes they are splish-splashing to wipe down counters, sort laundry, re-fill soap dispensers, and swap out dirty towels.
  • Empty the Dishwasher While Dinner Cooks – Most of our meals require a few minutes of something defrosting, baking, sautéing or simmering. I like to use these minutes to empty the dishwasher and get a jump start on reloading the dirty dishes.
  • Put Away Groceries and Take Out Trash All at Once – Unboxing groceries usually leads to a heap of recycling on our kitchen floor. So I don’t have to deal with the headache of trash more than once a week, I do our grocery shopping on the day before the trash is picked up. That means I can clean out the refrigerator, break down grocery recycling, load up our trash cans and walk them to the curb all in one swoop!

Keep Only What Fits Comfortably

This next step was the biggest and most important for me in truly changing the way our days went and how I felt going to bed each night. When it comes time to put everything back in place on your schedule, it all needs to fit…comfortably. Just like in your junk drawer…even after all the purging and analyzing and prioritizing…if you kept too many things for the size of your drawer, it still won’t close. In the same way, if you fill up every single block on your planner with various “important” tasks and obligations, your days are still going to feel too full; and all it will take is a single appointment to run long for your whole day to be thrown into chaos.

Everything you want to keep on your schedule may not realistically fit, so this is the time to get really real with yourself. Think about how much you can truly, realistically fit into a day, a week, a month…a nap! And I don’t mean a “best case scenario” day. I mean a normal day with the usual triumphs and catastrophes, lucky breaks and roadblocks. Leave space for things to go wrong, and make time to catch your breath, sleep, exercise, eat meals and have quiet time. Decide how full of a “drawer” you can realistically handle so you don’t end up cramming and jamming it shut day in and day out.

Just like with a closet or junk drawer, how ruthless you were in your decluttering will determine how many tough decisions you have to make. This is where your priority list comes in handy. Schedule in those “must haves,” and then little-by-little work in those “want to haves” and “really want to haves” until your drawer is comfortably full and organized, yet closes easily every time.

In Our House. I tried very hard to hone in on the aspects of our days that were “too full” and figure out ways to alleviate the pressure. Here are a few easy changes that have made a huge difference:

  • I used to start and do all our laundry on Sundays, but I wasn’t able to get it all washed, dried, folded and put away before midnight. By starting loads on Saturday night instead, I am now able to get everything done well before Sunday supper. (You can read about our laundry routine here.)
  • For whatever reason, getting all the trash rounded up and out to the curb on trash night was throwing our whole evening routine into chaos. By shifting the trash duty to grocery time (see above), there was no longer this late-night scramble once a week!
  • Henry really wanted to play baseball this Spring. But as I looked at the schedule, I just saw too many nights where dinner, baths, and bed (a routine that is already slightly stressful) would be too late for both him and the baby. Together, we decided to table baseball for this season; and he signed up for an afternoon basketball class instead.
  • I had a horrible habit of waking up and setting 4-5 blog/home goals for the day. How many do you think I actually got done each day? Ummm…I was lucky if I scratched 1 off the list. I now choose 1 thing, and only 1, that I can work on each day. Not only is this keeping me from feeling scattered all day long; but more and more, I am going to bed with my one thing accomplished!
Contain and Label

Last but not least, every good decluttering project ends in baskets and labels, so let’s not leave that part out here either. Certainly we’re not going to contain and label our schedules in a traditional sense, but you can absolutely take those “grouped items and tasks” and put them on your schedule in a place that fits, is comfortable and makes sense. And…if it works, don’t hesitate to label your days or part of your days (like…”laundry day,” “grocery day,” “homework time.”) Just like a label on a basket tells you and everyone else where something goes, labeling your days/hours helps communicate to you and your family when, where and how certain things will get done.

In Our House. I am pretty sure most households have a “usual” time that you do things. Here are just a few of our daily “containers”:

  • Sunday – Church day, laundry day
  • Mondays – Grocery day
  • Wednesdays – “Crazy Nights” (when we have three busy events all in a row!)
  • Friday nights – Pizza and movie night (aka – Mom doesn’t cook!)
  • After dinner – Homework time

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle

Managing a home isn’t easy. I certainly don’t intend to paint a picture that I’ve got it all figured out. But little-by-little, as I work at this Mom and Homemaker thing more and more, I figure out tricks and hacks that certainly seem to make it easier. In recent months, I’ve learned that decluttering our day…weeding out the unnecessary, focusing on the priorities, and only keeping what truly, comfortably fits…leads to a less frazzled Megan and a much happier household.

But man, there is so much more to learn and figure out #amiright?!?! That’s why I am super excited to dive into the amazing resources featured in this year’s Ultimate Homemaking Bundle! The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is a collection of 62 ebooks, 34 printable kits, 33 e-course and 8 bonuses that cover a wide-range of homemaking subjects including home management, self care, intentional living, meal planning, budgeting, time management, working from home, faith, family and more! Friends – there are so many goodies in this year’s bundle; and I’m dying to dive into The Clutter Handbook, The Healthy Lunchbox Ideas for Kids, and the Date Night Kits ebooks. Those are going to have to wait though, because I just started working through the Full Year Wardrobe Plan for Mom’s last night (my home might look great, but my wardrobe ain’t so hot!!!), and I’m sort of obsessed. The printable-loving, planner girl in me LOVES the way she walks through wardrobe ideas, outfit planning and options; and I’m optimistic I might actually be able to pull together a capsule wardrobe this year! #goals

I realize I’ve been throwing things at you right and left lately between the Toolbox launch last week and this Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this week. However, this bundle is only available until Monday night and there are so many amazing things included this year, that I wanted to make sure you had an opportunity to get your hands on this incredible collection of resources! I know you guys will love this, so take a quick minute to check it all out!

Phew – these last few weeks have been a little nuts, but I am super excited about getting back to some good ol’ DIY projects in the next few weeks. I’ve got a new Cricut tutorial coming your way, as well as some home updates I’ve been promising! Have a great weekend, and see you back here next week!

The post How to Declutter Your Day To Make Room for What Matters appeared first on The Homes I Have Made.

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