New Craft Room Space

I’d love to tell you I’ve been off training for a marathon or researching a cure for cancer, but my absence of late can simply be attributed to an abundance of volunteer commitments, Grandparents in town, and binge-watching¬†House of Cards.

I’m deep, I know.ūüėČ

But I have been making slow, but sure progress on the smallest, but one of the most frequently used rooms in our house. ¬†It’s about a 10′ x 15′ all-season sunroom off the Living Room. ¬†The sellers used it as an office, and when we first saw the space from the listing below, we thought it would make a quaint¬†little library.

Sitting room, office or library

I envisioned club chairs and perfectly staged bookshelves where The Husband and I could read¬†The New York Times together on the weekends while snow fell outside. ¬†Clearly, I’ve bought the Connecticut Dream, hook, line and sinker.

So we set it up, and it was a lovely little room.

To look at.

Since we never actually used it.

Because we used both the Living Room and the Family Room all the time, and that was clearly more than enough for just four people. ¬†As much as we are big readers, we just didn’t need a third space dedicated to books and chairs.

But you know what we did need?

A space dedicated to homework, crafts and projects.

As beautiful as the Kitchen Renovation Project turned out, because we don’t have an eat-in kitchen, there’s not table space at which to work on school projects. ¬†And while we use our Dining Room daily, we need that space for meals, and therefore, leaving my sewing machine or a math poster out, just isn’t practical.

So it occurred to me this small room had amazing potential to serve many purposes for The Cuties and me, and we got to work. ¬†We’ve updated the hardware, tossed the ancient mini blinds, repaired damage to the beautiful shiplap {check me out, Chip & Joanna!} and gave the whole place a fresh coat of paint. ¬†I wish I had taken before shots of the light fixtures, but let me just say that track lighting was involved – on the wall – in almond. ¬†And the sconces got worse from there.

from the Living Room~

{and yes! that’s a door, so when a project is completely in medias res, we can simply closed the door and hide the mess!}

LRdoor

Our work space ~ this table is on casters, so when a project is bigger than the table or we want to spread out on the floor, we can just push the table off to the side.

crafttable

Printer, file cabinet and storage for wrapping and large washi paper.  And how many different spaces {and houses!} do you think that Pottery Barn Moss Initial Hack has appeared in this blog now?

printer

This narrow bookcase holds all of my machines: scanner, Silhouette Cameo, sewing machine, embroidery machine and my cameras.  I love having everything so easily accessible.

machines

Here’s my tiny little desk area. ¬†It’s just enough space for my laptop, my project notebooks, and my calendar. ¬†We’ve yet to figure out what those small cabinet doors were originally used for, but now they hold poster board, gift bags, and the largest one stores our extra leaves for the dining room table down the hall.

desk

And here’s all my happy.

I love that everything is bright and colorful and labeled for easy identification.  The Cuties can find whatever it is they need, and just as important ~ can put things away exactly where they belong.  Things we use most frequently are out on the shelves, and my fabric stash, extra office supplies, and less-used crafting items are stored in the lower cabinets.

shelves

leftshelves

{I keep trying to convince The Husband that since there’s still space left in those 1.5 gallon jars,¬†clearly there’s room to buy more washi tape!}

vinylwashi

rightshelves

ribbonsharpies

washipaper

paint

In addition to being incredibly practical, this room was done on a budget.  I shopped the house for containers and repurposed everything and anything I could find.  I made reusable vinyl chalkboard labels with my Silhouette machine, and the round wood and chalk tags are from the Bullseye Shop at Target.  To better coordinate with the new lighting, I sprayed the pulls and jar lids with gold spray paint.

window

The light in this room is one of the best features.

This photograph was taken without a flash on a rainy afternoon without the lights. ¬†Underground.ūüėČ

I kid, I kid.

If you need me, guess where you can find me.

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Egg Muffins

 In the Felt So Cute household, we like eggs and eat them as many ways as possible.

I made these again the other morning and Little Cutie’s immediate comment was that I really needed to make them all the time. ¬†Since she is the least interested in eggs in our house, that was high praise!

closemuffin

Start with spraying a silicone muffin pan with cooking spray.  You can find these at any kitchen supply store, or they are also on Amazon.  I always place mine on a cookie sheet for two reasons: one, it makes handling the flexible silicone pan easier, and two, just in case of spillage, it will contain your mess!

siliconepan

Chop up whatever filling you wish for your muffins. ¬†The appeal of this breakfast is much like bento lunch-making was when The Cuties were in preschool: I could use up all sorts of random leftovers in a productive way! ¬†So not all your muffins have to be the same. ¬†I had two¬†leftover Baby Bella mushrooms, a few chicken and sage sausage links and a part¬†of a leek. ¬†Toss a bit of shredded cheese over your toppings {or you can simply do egg and cheese muffins if you wish}. ¬†Clearly I don’t measure anything, but you’re looking to fill each cup just over halfway.

filling

Then whisk 6-8 eggs {depends on the size of your muffin pan}, a generous splash of milk, salt and pepper together.  I find it best to use a mixing bowl/cup with a spout and handle.

mixingbowlPour your egg mixture into the muffin cups, filling about two-thirds of the way full.  Use a small spoon to lightly stir each one to mix everything up.

Bake at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes.  I chop up my ingredients at night, and then I can have these in the oven in five minutes in the morning while everyone is getting ready for school.

The silicone pan will allow you to easily pop the muffins right out for eating!

bakedmuffinsSo…….you may be tempted to make¬†these on Convection Bake if your oven has such a setting in an effort to cook them faster. ¬†It will not work. ¬†They may over-inflate. ¬†They may explode. ¬†Not that I know anything about that….

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Travel Medicine Bag

While I’m still unpacking from Spring Break, I’ll share some more hints.

I promise I don’t pack the entire kitchen sink when I travel, but one of the things I¬†do always pack is a small medicine bag when we travel. ¬†This is especially important in foreign countries where not everything we are used to will be as accessible as I’d like.

The #1 most important thing to pack are your daily prescription medications {duh!}. ¬†These, should¬†always go in your carry on bag. ¬†If your luggage is lost, you can make do in the same clothing for days, but necessary medication can’t always be easily replaced. ¬†For trips of any length,¬†The Husband and I each have one of these cases that can hold up to two weeks of pills.

audrey-2-week-pill-case-o

In my suitcase, I use a small pouch into which I’ve managed to cram a lot. ¬†I use this particular bag because it happens to be lined in plastic so it can be wiped in case of spills.

medbag

Here’s what I carry inside:

NyQuil {don’t forget a spoon!}

Mucinex

Tylenol & Advil {Advil works better for our family, but I can’t take it, so that’s why we double up on pain reliever}

Bandaids

Blister Cushions

Antibiotic Ointment

Tums

Benadryl

Cough Drops

medbaginside

There’s also a prescription bottle there; ever since I had Shingles, I carry a dose of antivirals with me just in case I wake up with a rash again and am traveling. ¬†I know there are several other conditions that merit immediate attention, so if you happen to fall into this category, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor for a “just in case” prescription when traveling out of the country.

Murphy’s Law says that if you bother to pack a bag like this you’ll never have to touch it and if you don’t, someone will wake up with a hacking cough the first morning of a trip you decided to all pile into one room!

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Things To Do Pre-Vacation

Today I’m going to share my Pre-Trip To Do List with you.

You’re not remotely surprised I have a list for that, are you?

  1. Print a copy of your travel documents. I know we know live in a paperless world, but we’ve all encountered Wifi-free moments when pulling up our email reservations hasn’t been easy. ¬†And if you’re traveling internationally, you may experience even more challenges with international cellular service. ¬†This is one of those things you may not always need, but when you do, it’s really helpful to have. ¬†I often consolidate things like flight details and confirmation numbers, hotel reservation information, etc. into one document, print it and stash it in a pocket of my carry on.

2. Scan in a copy of your passports {and visas, if applicable}. Then save them to a password-protected file that you can access.  If you ever lose your passports, having copies of them will help expedite the process to get new ones while abroad.

3. Charge all your electronics and remember to pack the chargers and adaptors.¬† I am notorious for forgetting to pack one important¬†charger. ¬†It’s a major bummer. ¬†Don’t be like me. ¬†I usually have these on my list a few times, and then a neon post-it note on the door to avoid this catastrophe. ¬†Clearly, I’m scarred for life from that one trip to Vail where I forgot the camera charger more than eleven years ago!

4. Arrange for someone to manage your garbage. Leaving your trash barrels outside overnight are an easy way to let people know you aren’t at home, so you don’t want to put them out early or have them sitting there longer than usual. ¬†Since it’s also on my To Do List to run around the house and empty the trash cans before we leave, you don’t want full barrels sitting extra long to smell or attract critters. ¬†This is a great job to offer up to young, responsible neighbor kids.

5. Arrange for someone to manage your mail and packages. If you don’t have a mail slot on your door, ask a neighbor or friend to come gather your mail and any packages that may be dropped off while you are gone. ¬†If you’re going to be gone a week or more, it may be worth putting a hold on your mail at the Post Office. ¬†Again, don’t advertise that you are away from home!

6. Stop your newspaper(s). If you still get a delivered newspaper, this is easy to take care of online and simply suspend your home delivery while you are out-of-town.  Notice a theme to my not advertising your absence yet?

7. Set your alarm! Seems easy enough, but my alarm company guy once told me that more than half his clients never use their alarm service. ¬†It won’t help protect your home if you don’t activate it.

8. Set a timer or leave a few lights on. I swear I’m not paranoid with all these safety tips, but your home is the most expensive thing you own, right {well you and the bank, most likely}, so a few precautions seems reasonable!

9. Clean out your refrigerator of any perishable items. If you keep fruit out on your counter or bread in a bread box, check those areas, too! ¬†You don’t want to come home to rotten or moldy foods ~ or worse, fruit flies in your kitchen!

10. Set up water globes for your plants. Don’t I sound like I know what I’m talking about? ¬†I, of course, have the blackest thumb in the universe and all plants wither in horror in my mere presence, but I acknowledge that most people have live plants in their homes. ¬†Keeping that in mind, if you are leaving for a week or more, you want to set up some way of watering them while you are gone.

11. If you’re headed out on a road trip, be sure you’ve checked out your car.¬† Do some basic inspecting of your vehicle: oil, fluids, gas, tire pressure, etc. ¬†Clean it out of all the empty water bottles, goldfish crumbs, and random things that might have accumulated while you’ve been busy living your life. ¬†While I’m sure you’re on top of¬†things to entertain the kids while on the road, remember to pack a “car bag” for the unexpected: cleaning supplies for a bout of carsickness, wipes for sticky hands, etc.

12. Make beds and leave a tidy house. I know this can seem daunting after packing a whole family up to leave on a big adventure, but it’s worth it when you return and are jet lagged and still have to unpack and face a pile of laundry. ¬†We arrived home late tonight from Spring Break adventures. ¬†It was almost 24 hours from the time we left our hotel to the time we walked back in the door. ¬†It was so nice to walk in to a clean house and just have to take showers, and not worry about much more. ¬†Mostly because I’m too groggy to do anything else! ¬†I promise it’s worth the effort.

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Teen Airplane Bags

It’s almost Spring Break and that means we are off on an adventure!

The Cuties are truly self-sufficient and amazing international travelers; they schlep their own bags, they entertain themselves in flight, and they manage their own gear.

I do NOT miss the days of the airplane diaper bag bigger than my toddler or performing barf bag puppet theatre.

When I was at the drug store this week picking up a few items for my own travel bag I grabbed some¬†things for them and decided to put together new bags for their carry ons. I¬†found the perfect cases at Bullseye’s Playground at Target {what they used to call the Dollar Spot}. ¬†They’re plastic and cheap, which are pretty much my requirements for things used on airplanes by tweens or teens since there’s a reasonable chance things may explode inside or even be left behind by accident.

I first added each of their names with my Silhouette machine and coordinating vinyl

Sophieplanebag

Leahplanebag

Then I filled it with some essentials for a long flight:

Tylenol

Tums

tissues

socks

chewing gum

breath mints

hand cream

Shout wipes

deodorant

toothbrush & toothpaste

dental picks

spare disposable contact lenses

nail file

planesupplies

There’s still plenty of room in these bags to add in things like glasses and retainers in the morning before we head to the airport.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my years of traveling with children is to corral their crap stuff on airplanes, and to keep the number of things you all need to be responsible for to a minimum when jet lag is involved. ¬†Trust me. ¬†Everyone starts off all pleasant and cute and charming, but 16 hours after you left the house in the morning and people don’t remember their names, let alone what they brought on the airplane!

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Treat Packaging Station

As a Mom I get asked to make treats for things like bake sales, team parties, birthday celebrations and more on a regular basis.  So much so that I keep supplies on hand rather than have to run out and buy things every time one of The Cuties needs me to send treats into school.

Here’s my “Packaging” Station¬†and what supplies I keep in my stash ~

packagingbing

The majority of what I keep are an assortment of cellophane bags. ¬†I could find these on every street corner in convenience stores in Tokyo, but back in America you can easily buy these at places like Michael’s or Joann Fabrics {look for them where they sell cake and chocolate supplies}.

cellobags

If you prefer to order bags online, Amazon has a lot of 100+ packs as Add-on items that are very inexpensive and come in a huge variety of sizes.

I keep picks to use either in cupcakes or to put out in a small cup as fancy toothpicks to pick up small bites.  I also have a variety of labels and stickers to use to write messages wishing teams good luck or Happy Birthday!

pickslabels

Finally, in a second bin, I have decorative wax paper for packaging up desserts when I bring meals to peoples’ homes. ¬†This is a big thing in Japan, and hard to find in America, but you can easily find them on Etsy ~ look how cute the different options are!

waxpaper

I also keep ribbons in this bin for tying up the cellophane bags.

 ribbon

Again, I buy most of my ribbon for this kind of purpose at Michael’s or Joann Fabric because it’s inexpensive and comes in a huge variety of colors. ¬†I especially like Offray and 360 brands as you can get them for $0.50 a spool!

ribbonbrands

Because I had everything on hand, making up treats for tomorrow’s bake sale at Big Cutie’s school was a piece of cake!

DSC_0039

But tomorrow I have to bake an actual cake for Little Cutie’s basketball team party!

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A Lot of Living in This Room

So now you’ve seen our finished and improved Family Room, but we have a second space we spend a¬†lot of time in as a family: our formal Living Room.

Seriously.  We really live in our Living Room!

This time of the year the fireplace is the big draw. ¬†It’s a heat-producing gas insert that¬†quickly warms this room a good ten degrees. ¬†When you couple¬†our fabulous eight foot long Napping Sofa where two adults can comfortably stretch out,¬†with plenty of space throughout the room for all four of us to spread out with books, it’s a favorite place on a snowy Sunday afternoon. ¬†Add in a chai tea latte and The New York Times crossword puzzle and¬†I’m in heaven.

LRpiano

And in warmer weather, we love the sunshine and cross breezes we get when we open the doors and windows to our patio and the window to our covered porch on the right.  While window treatments are on order for most of the house, this room is so flooded with light that we are leaving these completely open to enjoy it all!

windowsLR

Those navy velvet chairs are possibly my favorite example of “high-low decorating.” ¬†After searching everywhere for chairs just like these, I finally found the look I wanted. ¬†At Target. ¬†And I scooped them up. ¬†And promptly accessorized them with the Schumacher Chiang Mai dragon print pillows I’d been obsessing about for years.

chiangmaipillow

My Grandmother’s¬†walnut buffet houses an assortment of blue and white Chinoiserie we’ve collected, including some¬†takamakura, or Geisha pillows.

porcelain

And in front of¬†what must be the world’s largest and ugliest radiator, I’m attempting to draw the eye forward with my beloved giant glass floats. ¬†Just pretend it’s working, OK?

glassfloats

When we lived in Tokyo, I studied¬†sumi-e painting with Mother-Daughter senseis for three years. ¬†It’s one of my favorite parts of my Japan experience and the last piece I completed was a¬†byobu¬†traditional screen modeled after Korin’s famous irises. ¬†It took me nearly a year to complete and now hangs over our mantel.

irisbyobu

And across the room hangs a gallery wall of paintings that includes the only other painting that took¬†me a year to paint: a high school assignment to copy a great master and I chose Van Gogh’s Still Life: Vase with Irises. ¬†I chose this particular painting after seeing the original at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam with my grandparents on¬†a special trip to celebrate my Bat Mitzvah. ¬†It was there that I learned of Van Gogh’s affection for Japanese art and it’s influence in his work.

LRgallery

Never could I imagine what influence Japan would someday have in my own life and what affection I would have for her!

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