Archive for organizing & projects

Stow Aways

Chevron baskets via Land of Nod Flea market wire bins via Land of Nod

Storage bins via Land of Nod Mini suitcases via Land of Nod

Gingham storage via Land of Nod Storage_Cube_Seat via Land of Nod

MegaSorter via Land of Nod Strapping storage collection via Land of Nod

One of my daily frustrations is living in a house with virtually no storage space and only three tiny (19th century) closets. It’s a constant battle to keep the clutter to a minimum.

I’ve got big plans to do some major house cleaning this summer, so I’m looking around for nice-looking, useful storage options, and Land of Nod is my go-to place. These are some of my favorites – and I can say, from experience that their mega sorter (see the bottom left photo) holds a lot. Great for winter hats, gloves and scarves in the cold months, and bike helmets, and other sports gear in the warmer months.

Pinterest is a great place to get storage/organizing inspiration, but you could easily spend hours falling down that rabbit hole. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Images: Land of Nod

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Spring Cleaning Made a Little Easier

Spring Cleaning by Charlotte's Fancy

I’m not one to go whole hog on spring cleaning, but this time of year for me means:

  • Switching out winter clothes with spring/summer clothes and donating the clothes that are too small
  • Sprucing up the yard and putting plants out on my front porch
  • Trying to get rid of clutter wherever it might have sprouted in my house (I’m looking at you, kitchen cabinets and drawers)
  • Sorting through the girls’ toys
  • Forcing myself to wash the windows

Before you tackle a big cleaning project, why not treat yourself to some new, small cleaning tools to make the work a little easier and a little more enjoyable?

Top Row: Microfiber spray washer and duster ($9.95 each from Williams Sonoma); Brita Sweden towels ($17 each from Huset Shop) Middle Row: Meyer Lemon all purpose cleaner ($13.95 from Williams Sonoma); Colorful round scrub brushes ($5.99 each from The Container Store) Bottom Row: “Maru” towel ($18 from Pata Pri); and your reward for a job well done, this elegant Gold Leaf home fragrance ($17 from Thymes)

Real Simple has a library of good cleaning tips, including these spring cleaning shortcuts. Do you look forward to big cleaning projects, or dread them? (Or maybe a little bit of both?)

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From the Archives: Organizing Inspiration

Chalkboard tin birthday party favors by Charlotte's Fancy

I made these tins with chalkboard labels as party favors for Rosa’s birthday last year and filled them with fun little toys and art supplies. But wouldn’t they be great for organizing all kinds of things? Desk supplies, paint brushes, remote controls, and pantry staples are just a few things that come to mind.

See the original post here for information on where to buy labels and tins.

Image: Charlotte’s Fancy

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We Are What We Do

We are what we do action pencils

We are what we do notebooks

We are what we do notebooks inside

We are what we do notebooks inside 2

Based in London, We Are What We Do is a nonprofit who offers stationery, tote bags, books and other goodies (as well as tools and live experiences) that help inspire people and make it easier for them to do “small, good things everyday.” They also have a neat Action Tracker feature on their website with suggested actions that you can add to your To Do list, and then check off when you do them.

Take a look and get inspired!

website | shop | twitter

Images: We Are What We Do
via Lovely Stationery

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Novel Approach to a Reading Nook

Reading Nook via Ohdeedoh

We have exactly three closets in our old house and they are all roughly the size of the one in this picture (i.e. ridiculously small closets). If storage space weren’t such a premium, I would love to do this closet transformation project by Thrifty Decor Chick for my girls.

Isn’t it a magical little space for kids? I think it might transform even the most reluctant reader into a bookworm.

Image: Thrifty Decor Chick
via Ohdeedoh

p.s. If you’re a fan of stationery & paper goods, I’m sharing a lot of sneak peeks of National Stationery Show exhibitors on Pushing Papers. The show starts this weekend, and I am going! I will be blogging about my favorite paper finds next week.

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Charlotte’s Fancy in 2011

Hello, friends, and Happy New Year! Did you have some time off? I hope so – and I hope it was good to you.

It never ceases to amaze me how much the new year inspires us to reflect on our lives and resolve to do things better, to be better people. I wish it were easy to recapture throughout the year the hope, enthusiasm, and energy I feel (I think most of us feel) right now.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to time – how I manage my time, how I’d like to manage it better, what I choose to spend my time doing. I’ve learned that I have to protect the time to do the things I really like doing. Sometimes I am successful with this, and sometimes I am not. It is and always will be a constant effort and struggle.

IKEA Cookbook image

Ikea Cookbook image 2

IKEA cookbook / photos styled by Evelina Bratell (via CRAFT)

Some things I’d like to spend more time doing this year including cooking and baking. I often settle for eating food that tastes ok, but not great. Why do I do this? Why not make every meal an opportunity to eat something that tastes fantastic? Because I don’t spend any time thinking about what I would actually like to eat and I don’t protect the time to plan meals. I’m lucky to have a husband who cooks great dinners. I need to take better care of what I eat for breakfast and lunch.

I also want to read more books. I was such a bookworm when I was a kid. As an adult, I read hundreds of blogs, I read the news online, and I read the New Yorker regularly. But books? Hardly ever anymore.

And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Maira Kalman is one of my heroes. I bought “And the Pursuit of Happiness” the other day (you can see much of it on the New York Times blog she wrote), and I am savoring every page: her beautiful paintings, her quirky writing, her impeccable taste. When I’m finished with it, I am going to read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. Have you read it? For the past couple of months, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by work, blogging, housework, holidays and the girls’ birthdays. I’m hoping the Happiness Project will give me some insight to keeping a smile on my face and a positive attitude on the days when I’d rather feel sorry for myself.

I called this post “Charlotte’s Fancy in 2011” because as I’ve been thinking about how I manage my time and what I’d like to accomplish in 2011, I have to admit that writing blog posts every day—even if I write some in advance—takes up almost all of my free time. There are days when I like what I post, but don’t love what I post, and I want to always love what I post. There are days when I go to bed too late because I am trying to finish a post, or I don’t get something else done (housework, reading, planning meals, etc) because I am writing a blog post instead. So for 2011, I’m allowing myself to just play things by ear and not require myself to write every day, which I hope you understand.

I still want to share my favorite paper goods and design, my favorite handmade shops and whatever else strikes my fancy. And I will still be writing over at Pushing Papers too – in fact, I’ve got many favorites to share already, and I’ve got a whole new stash of great paper goodies for my shop from Linda & Harriet, Marimekko, Sanna Annukka, and others. I will be adding new items to my shop this month, but you should know that the pretty flowered cloth drawstring bags are limited edition – when they are sold out, they are gone for good, so don’t miss your chance to have one. At $17 each (and one smaller one for $12), I think they are a great deal.

If you have some new year’s resolutions, or thoughts on what you’d like to see on Charlotte’s Fancy this year, I’d love to hear them.

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Chore Chart by Draw! Pilgrim

free printable chore chart

Every once in awhile, I get emails about the chore chart that Lisa Zuraw of sweetbeets designed, and I have to tell people that it is no longer available. Good news, though, for those of you looking for a chore chart: Pilgrim of Draw! Pilgrim is offering one over at Modern Kiddo, free for you to download for your personal use.

If you don’t know the Modern Kiddo blog or the Draw! Pilgrim blog (and shop), they are really fun and colorful and full of retro goodness – check them out!

Image: Draw! Pilgrim for Modern Kiddo

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Make Giraffes, Not War

A couple of days ago, I handed the girls some paper, pens, crayons, and glitter, and I said, “Please draw a giraffe,” which they happily did. Then, I took pictures of their giraffes and sent the pics off to Norway, to Ola Helland of the 1 Million Giraffes project.

(Ok, all I did was upload them to a website, but in spirit, I sent them off to Norway).

Who says giraffes have to be brown and yellow?

Ola Helland of Stavanger, Norway bet his friend Jørgen that he could collect 1 million handmade (that is, not computer-generated) giraffes by January 1, 2011 – which is 573 days to collect 1 million giraffes. With just about 150 days left, he only needs a little more than 64,000. Which is pretty darn amazing when you realize it means he’s collected 935,000 giraffes from all over the world.

The 1 Million Giraffes website is a lot of fun. You can look at a map of where the projects contributors live (when I looked at the map, we were the only people from the US in the last 24 hours to have contributed a giraffe) and also see statistics of which countries have contributed the most and least as well as how many he’s collected each day of the project. Apparently, Germany loves this project – they have contributed almost a third of all the giraffes.

You can also see creative galleries of all the submitted giraffes and play a game which shows you a giraffe and you guess how old you think the artist is.

So what are you waiting for? Ola only has 154 days left – he needs your giraffes!

1 Million Giraffes website, blog, twitter, facebook

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Guerrilla Gardening with Kids

Seed ball by Heavy Petal

It seems like I’ve been coming across so many examples of guerrilla gardening lately (here and here, for example), and I’ve been intrigued, in particular, with the idea of making seed bombs with the girls and helping them see neglected areas in our neighborhood that could use a seed bomb (or two or three). Seed bombs are small balls – a mixture of clay, compost and seeds – that you can toss onto an empty lot or a neglected patch of ground to help green your community. The clay and compost protect the seeds from drying out in the sun (which makes seed bombs especially useful in dry/arid areas) or getting eaten by birds. When enough rain has permeated the ball, the seeds will begin to sprout, nourished by the compost mixture.

I can imagine how fun it would be to chuck a few of these over fences and onto empty lots around town and see what happens.

Kids love to garden, and I know that I don’t make nearly enough time for it. I wish I did because gardening can be a transformational experience for kids – we’ve all seen how thrilling it is for them to stick a seed in a pot and watch it grow. I think it’s like magic for them. (It is kind of magical, isn’t it?)

Thank goodness, anyway, for the famers’ markets near us and the pick-your-own orchards, where we love to go for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches and other fruits too.

Do you make time to garden with your kids?

(p.s. You can also buy seed bombs – check out Visualingual on Etsy, who sells them in really pretty screen-printed muslin bags)

* * *

Tomorrow is the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn! I want to take lots of photos, and I hope to be able to share them with you on Monday. It’s a crazy busy weekend, but everything on the schedule is fun. How about you? Fun plans this weekend?

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[Family Friday] The Best $25 I Ever Spent

The MÅLA easel at IKEA. One side is a whiteboard and the other side is a chalkboard.

We’ve had this easel for about 4 or 5 years now, and we use it all. the. time.

We draw on it
We leave notes for Santa Claus on it
We solve our math problems on it
We use it to work out the stories we’re trying to write
We make To Do lists on it
We keep track of our thank you notes on it
We write dinner menus on it

And lately, it has been an enormously helpful homework tool.

If Elena is doing her homework and needs help understanding an assignment, we use the whiteboard to sketch things out for her. Just last week, she was learning how to write a persuasive argument, and she chose: “Why You Should Let Me Go to the Corner Store By Myself.” So we explained how she has to think about all the reasons why we wouldn’t let her go, so that she could argue effectively why she should get to go. As she was rattling off reasons like, “Because you worry about me being safe” and “Because you don’t want to spend money on junk food,” I would write them down on the whiteboard so that she could look at the list of reasons and use it to formulate her persuasive argument.

We use it a lot for math problems too (because explaining fractions is easy when you draw them!).

Over the years, we have taken many photos of it – to capture funny lists or drawings, or simply because the girls wanted to take photos of it. Here are a few, starting with my favorite:

Rosa’s list.

To Do:

1. Mail valentines
2. Walk Laverne
3. Feed Laverne 2 times a day
4. Pick up our messes
5. Listen
6. Wake up at 7:00 am
7. Don’t bother Elena while she is doing her homework

Family portrait (I think Elena drew this)

Elena’s octopus drawings. Note the rainbow of markers in the tray. You had to know that I’m all loaded up on colorful dry erase markers, right?

The girls’ friends will often come over and draw on the whiteboard too. I love that Haley drew this and Elena commented in the lower righthand corner: “Of corse.”

I have no idea what this list is or why we have several pictures of it. (“Tamagotchi, Old things, Boots, Webkinz, Houses, Cooking, Pets, Coloring, Tickets”)

Math—on the rarely used chalkboard side, no less. Remind me now: why did we take a picture of this? And what went five and half feet in .764 seconds?

Ever heard of the Wii game Zack & Wiki? This is Wiki.

A note to, and a note from, Santa Claus.

Have I convinced you yet? If you’ve got kids, and you don’t own an easel, consider getting one for both its creative possibilities as well as its practical uses. Ours has been and will continue to be a very well loved member of the family.

* * *

I’m working on a craft this weekend inspired by my grandmother. I hope it works out and that I can show it to you on Monday. After the success of doily dyeing craft, I am feeling pressure to come up with something good! Ack!

Thank you for your kind comments, links to your blogs, and for following me on Twitter. I appreciate it so much.

Hope you all have a very happy weekend!

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