Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thank you cookies

Recently, I planned a donor/volunteer appreciation event for work. It was hosted by a board member in his home, and featured catered hors d'ouervres and bar service. The evening was lovely.

In order to add my own touch and show the host how much I appreciated his support, I made Thank You cookies for all the guests.

I used a simple sugar cookie recipe, but substituted lemon extract for the usual vanilla extract. Yum!

The cookies were packed in cellophane wrappers and taken to the event in a basket. Here, the basket is simply for transportation purposes--it was the perfect size to hold all the cookies upright and snug, but not smashed, for the trip.

The cookies were displayed on a nice silver tray at the site, and guests grabbed one as they headed out the door for home. I know I've said it before, but cookies make such great favors. They can be made to fit any occasion and theme, people enjoy taking them, and they are so tasty. Yum!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Martha Monday!

For those of you planning a kid's birthday party, or any birthday party, Martha Stewart .com has a great party-planning tutorial. It covers a planning timeline, guest list, party site, activities and more.

The planning timeline is especially helpful. Of course, I think it's great because like the good Martha-in-training that I am, I am on track and even way ahead of where I should be in the process.

The timeline confirms what I already know: that I know how to plan a party, and I am becoming more and more Martha-like. It's a good thing!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Here we go...

This week is madness. Madness, I tell you!

I must admit that it's madness largely of my own making, and I really don't mind it. The Little Guy turns two very soon, and with extremely large families, the Big Guy and I thought it best to divide the parties up. We'll be having three parties over two weekends.

The first party is in one week. There's so much to do that my to-do list spans five pages, along with additional pages of shopping lists.

Thankfully, we completed almost everything on time last week. The Big Boy room is largely done, and the Little Guy is really enjoying it. He even tried to sleep in the Big Boy bed on the first night! Naturally, the whole event was so exciting that he couldn't fall asleep, so he went back to the crib.
Time to get started on that to-do list for today!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Football dreams

This bedding was the inspiration for the room. As you might guess, the Big Guy is a HUGE football fan. HUGE. And it seems only natural (or inevitable by nurture) that the Little Guy will be a fan, too.

When I was pregnant, the Big Guy registered for this bedding at the Land of Nod.

The comforter depicts a football game, with the home team and opposing team players clearly labelled. The design includes goalposts and referees.

The yard lines are labeled on the edge of the sides. It's just like a real football field!

Compared to the comforter, the pillow sham is a little tame. That's probably a good thing, since there's just so much going on here! The Little Guy will be dreaming of football for sure.
I told the Big Guy that if I find this comforter on our bed, he's in big trouble. He looked disappointed. I know he was seriously considering it.

But the bed itself is what gets me. This bed was at my grandparents house forever, and it's the bed I slept on as a little girl when we'd go to visit them. I always loved this bed, and I'm so happy to have it now as a fixture in my house.

The Big Boy room isn't completely done, but we are more than halfway there. We still need to hang curtains, get a chair and dresser, and possibly some toy storage in there. I'm pleased with what we've accomplished though.
Now, when I've recovered from this room makeover, it will be time to tackle the nursery. Gulp!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Loading the room

For all the trouble painting the Big Boy room was, loading the rug/bed/etc. in was a breeze.

I just let the Big Guy do all the work. I do best in a supervisory role, you know?

He started with the closet organizer. The closet had the usual rod/shelf across the top, but we wanted an additional clothes rack at the Little Guy's height, so he can learn how to put his own clothes away.

This adorable hat rack was a gift from Aunt Fran and Uncle Ron when the Little Guy was just born, and now we finally have a place to hang it. At the Little Guy height, of course. Did I mention he'll be learning how to put his own clothes away?

This Notre Dame rug is a hoot. I picked it up over a year ago, without any clear idea of where it would go. But with one die hard Notre Dame fan (the Big Guy) and another in training, I was sure it would come in handy. And it has! This rug is in front of the window, and it's going to be a nice play space for that room. I can see my Big and Little guys going over football strategy here, before they go out and cream the neighborhood kids in an actual game. Go Team TMI!

This rolling cart is serving as the bedside table and bookcase for now. It doesn't match anything, and I have concerns about those corners on the top, but it will do for the time being.

The "Grow Zone" chart is by the closet. It will be neat to chart the Little Guy's growth as he gets older and becomes a Big Kid. The best thing about this chart is that it is peel-and-stick. If we need to move it, we can...with no harm to our precious, precious paint job.

Tomorrow, I'll show you the bed. The bedding served as the inspiration for the entire room, and it is simply too cute for words.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Almost there

We've been working on the Big Boy room, and after several nights last week of painting a bit here and edging a bit there, the Big Guy and I decided to quit monkeying around and get it done!

I'll be the first to admit that the paint job isn't the best, but I'm very proud that my husband and I did this room for our Little Guy all by ourselves. Since he'll spend the next 16+ plus years there, and we all know how rough kids can be on their surroundings, perfection just wasn't necessary.

I did my best to clean up the floor. The previous owners' daughter left a lot of green and pink nail polish on the floor. Fortunately, it came right off with nail polish remover. Easy fix!

After the walls were done, the window ledge, baseboards and door trim got a fresh coat of white paint.

Of course, that trim is now whiter than the room and closet doors, but I can live with that for now.

Here's the finished product...done, finished, fin.

Tomorrow, we'll load the room. We're almost there!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Martha Monday!

As you know, the current project in the TMI house is to turn a formally fuchsia storage room into a Big Boy room for our Little Guy. Tonight, we finally finished painting. Finally.

If you are interested in tackling a painting project in your house, then I strongly recommend that you take a look at Martha's Decorating 101: Paint tutorial for the basics.

It goes through the basics: preparing the room, choosing colors, clean-up, storing paint, how to store samples of paint in case you need to do touch-ups, etc. As you can guess, since it comes from Martha, it's quite a handy guide.

And after you've mastered painting the walls and want to try something new, the Home & Garden section of Martha Stewart .com has a variety of painting techniques to try. There are instructions and ideas for painting furniture, stairs and other household fixtures. You can also find neat ways to texture your walls to get the effect of raw silk, gingham, linen and more.

Here at TMI, I'm still perfecting my painting skills on plain old walls and focusing on cleaning out the brushes properly so they can be used again. I move much slower than Martha these days. :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Planning for the week

It's a busy week ahead. The Big Boy room MUST get done this week, because all next week will be dedicated to preparing for the Little Guy's birthday parties.

Yes, I said 'parties.' There are three sets of doting grandparents and only one Little Guy to go around. Splitting the family parties up allows me, the Big Guy and especially the Little Guy to have more time with family members and friends.

Plus, I just really like to throw parties.

But I digress....time to focus on what needs to happen this week:

Finish the first coat of paint in the Big Boy room.

Second coat of paint and all trim work.

Clean the door, windows and floor. Clean up all painting supplies. Install the closet organizer.

Bring in the rugs, bed, bookcase, etc.

Buy nightlight, curtain rod and other miscellaneous stuff for the room.

Finishing touches. Make the bed. Hang curtains, hat rack and growth chart.

Introduce the Little Guy to the Big Boy room. Watch the hilarity that will surely ensue.

See, I told you it would be a busy week.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A to-do list interuppted

So last Sunday, I made a detailed list of what needed to happen each day for me to be productive and see some results around here, especially in the Big Boy room makeover.

Because I am a woman of my word (usually) I'm following up on that list to see what I've accomplished.

Sadly, hardly anything got done this week. My original plan was to be done painting the Big Boy room by now. Woefully, only 1 and 1/4 walls are done, and those only have one coat of paint. Let's see where things went wrong...

Sunday: Buy closet organizer and paint. Prepare room for painting.
Yes! We did this! The week started out so well...

Monday: Paint inside of closet. Paint ceiling.
Woohoo! We were still on track on Day 2!

Tuesday: Paint trim and closet doors. Start painting walls.
This is where things went horribly awry. I felt especially tired and miserable that night, so instead of painting, I went to bed.

Wednesday: Finish first coat of paint on walls.
This didn't happen, because I forgot that the ceiling might need a second coat. Which it did. So that's what the Big Guy and I worked on Wednesday instead of tackling the walls.

Thursday: Second coat of paint, if necessary. Any necessary touch-ups to trim and doors.
We painted two walls. Badly. You can see the ridiculousness here.

Friday: Move rugs and position bed.Install closet organizer.
Bwahahahaha...we're so far off track by now it's funny. The Little Guy was sick, so we just crashed after he went to bed. No painting for me!

Saturday: Shop for nightlight and lamp shade. Shop for organizing bins and laundry basket.
This did happen--does that mean there's hope for the TMI household? We bought a lamp shade and organizing bins. I forgot about the laundry basket (no hurry on that) and couldn't find a nightlight that suited the Big Boy room.

Well, there it is, dear readers. My few successes and many failures in accomplishing my goals for this week. Just reading over it makes me want to stop with the posting of the to-do lists for a while. Being accountable kind of sucks.

What do you think?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm not cut out for this

We're in the midst of painting the Big Boy room. And I don't think painting is my thing.

I like what painting can do for a room, though. For the money, painting gets you the biggest bang for your buck. Around $20 for a can of paint, another $10 in brushes/supplies, and BAM! You've transformed a room in a few hours simply by changing the color on the walls.

But I don't think painting is my thing because I always get stuck with doing the trim and edges. And I need ideal painting conditions to do the trim and edges: good lighting, plenty of rest, and a sunny disposition.

The past few nights of painting, I've had none of these things.

We only did 1 and 1/4 walls tonight. It took less than an hour. At the 35 minute mark, this is what became of me....

Lying on the floor, whining about my back, begging the Big Guy to not make me look fat and pregnant in the pictures he was taking, and struggling to finish the edging along the baseboard. It was not a pretty sight.

On the plus side, the shade of green we picked out is lovely. And at this rate, we'll have the whole room done in three weeks.
Like I said, I'm really not cut out for this painting stuff.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Big Boy room

As revealed in yesterday's post, we are expecting a new addition to the family. And that means the Little Guy is getting a Big Boy room.

The hardest part might already be over...take a look at the picture below. Imagine it's tilted 90 degrees clockwise, and you have a view looking down the hallway to what is now the nursery (on the right--the blue and white striped room) and the Big Boy room (to the left--it's fuchsia).

When we bought this house, that room was fuchsia. I wish I had more pictures of it to show all of the gaudiness. The walls and ceiling were fuchsia, and all the trim was pink. Fortunately, an amazing army of friends and family hung out with us for a weekend before we moved in, and primed several rooms (including the two you see above) so we didn't have to live with those colors.

I'm down with a fuchsia blouse, but an entire room? (Channeling my inner Martha) That just won't do.

Priming the room is as far as we got, though. Since we didn't immediately have a use for it, it quickly became a storage space for outgrown kids' clothes and books.

And as you saw from this week's to-do list, we needed to buy some paint and get this room ready for a makeover.

Old clothes that no longer fit the Little Guy and books that were better suited for a grade school reader were boxed up and sent to the basement. The Big Guy and I picked out a lovely shade of green for the walls, and bought another shelf and rack for the closet. Now, this spare bedroom is ready for the transformation to Big Boy Room.

Now, if only the Little Guy had parents that were ready for his transformation into a Big Boy. Fortunately for us, and for this room makeover, we have plenty of time.

Monday, September 14, 2009

We interrupt this Martha Monday...

...for a special announcement. The Little Guy has something to say!

Well, maybe we should let the t-shirt say it for us:

It's a big deal, although the Little Guy has yet to understand just how big of a deal it is. He'll have to share the spotlight, but he'll have a best friend for life. Or a worst enemy. These sibling things can go either way, you know?
Just kidding.
The Little Guy is very interested in babies, and I know he's going to love having a little brother or sister. The benefits of having a sibling are totally worth any potential or probable hassles. The Little Guy is excited...just look at his face!

Barley gets it, though, and he knows he'll be bumped down one more notch on the TMI Family totem pole. His facial expression says it all.

Don't worry, Barley: in a few years, this will all pay off. The kids will be slipping you people food under the table, and you'll have two little human beings who think you're the greatest dog in the world. It will be totally worth it.
Baby TMI: coming to your favorite Martha-in-training in February.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Detailed to-dos

Last week, I just had a checklist.

This week, I'm listing the to-dos by the day they need to be done. Martha style.

Actually, I don't know if this is how Martha organizes her time. When the Martha Stewart show is taping, her scheduling is done in (I believe) 15-minute time increments in order to be efficient and effective. But I'm sure that Martha does have an organized plan every day.

She has to...she's Martha Stewart. Right?!

I just had a terrible thought: what if Martha doesn't make lists? Is that even possible? If that is the case, my world would fall apart. Please, if it is the case, don't ever tell me. I just couldn't take it.

Here's what my week looks like:

Buy closet organizer and paint.
Prepare room for painting.

Paint inside of closet.
Paint ceiling.

Paint trim and closet doors.
Start painting walls.

Finish first coat of paint on walls.

Second coat of paint, if necessary.
Any necessary touch-ups to trim and doors.

Move rugs and position bed.
Install closet organizer.

Shop for nightlight and lamp shade.
Shop for organizing bins and laundry basket.

It will be a busy week, but I'd rather exhaust myself by getting something done (in this case, one of the unfinished bedrooms) as opposed to exhausting myself by fretting and procrastinating.

I'm sure that that isn't the Martha way.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The week is nearly over. Let's see how I did with my to-do list from Sunday...

1. Bake cookies for work event

2. Decorate cookies for work event

3. Package cookies for work event

4. Head to Kohl's for pants and purse

5. Send out invitations for the Little Guy's upcoming birthday party
Done. I was able to deliver some invitations personally, thanks to all the family get-togethers over the Labor Day holiday.

6. Head to hardware store for closet organizers and nightlights
Um, no. This didn't happen. I knew that this would be a stretch considering how busy the week was, so this is going on next week's list.

7. CVS shopping
Again, this just didn't happen. I need to get there soon, though--I have nearly $30 of product rainchecks I need to redeem.

8. Walgreens shopping
Done, but done pitifully. Wags is not cooperating with me lately...the stuff I want is always sold out. I am considering dropping Wags for the next few months. Seriously.

Not too bad. I know we have a lot going on in the TMI household next week, so I'll need to plan the week's activities carefully in order to get everything done.

On to the next list...

Friday, September 11, 2009

A light for the backyard

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that the previous homeowners stripped the house once they went into foreclosure. This included all the outdoor light sconces (3 in the front, 1 in the back). It took a while to replace the light in the back, mainly because of the big white frame around the wiring--it hindered normal screws from attaching the light to the house.

Then, a colony of wasps took up residence and that really hindered the process. Despite my pleading and strongly worded memos, they just weren't leaving. I had to get tough. Martha tough.

I sprayed them to kingdom come. Now, Martha would probably use some all-natural organic wasp deterrent system, but I didn't have time for that. The wasps needed to go, and they needed to go now, so the Big Guy could install the light before it gets too cold.
You'll notice that the Big Guy took this picture through the sliding glass door. Even though the wasps are all gone and the hive is done, he wouldn't step outside to get a better picture...he's that creeped out by bugs.
You should see what happens when he encounters a spider in the house.

Once I had safely disposed of the hive, the Big Guy got to work. The light we choose has a very East-Coast seaside feel to it, like something you might find at Martha's boat dock at Skylands, her home in Maine. I can almost hear the foghorn in the distance.

The light is installed, my husband was not approached by anything with a stinger, and all is right with the world.

Except for those wasps. I bet they're pretty mad right about now.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hanging a mirror

After fixing the toilet, we moved on to another bathroom to hang a mirror.

Now, before you scroll down to the pictures, let me prepare you. The powder room is red. RED! All red. Every wall is red.

Fire engine red.

Every time I tinkle in there, I half expect two creepy girls to show up and shout "Red rum!" It's that red.

And until recently, the powder room had no mirror, which is pretty odd for a bathroom when you think about it.

Okay, you've been warned. Here's our pre-mirror powder room:

If your first thought was "Holy crap! That is one red bathroom!" then welcome to my world. That's the same thought I have every single time I go in there.

The hubs did the honors of putting in the screws to hold up the new mirror. At this point, you might be wondering why the mirror was ever missing. The answer: we bought this house as a pre-foreclosure, and the previous owners abdicated with everything that wasn't permanently attached to the house. Kitchen appliances, light sconces, garage door opener (not the clickers, the actual machine that opens the garage door) and mirrors.
We were fortunate that our local family had a mirror we could have (shout out to KB and Al!).

It breaks up the redness of the walls rather nicely, don't you think? Eventually we'll paint the powder room a more soothing color. Until then, I can assure you that there are no actual creepy girls hanging out in there.
Maybe just the Little Guy. So be sure to lock the door if you're in there.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Does Martha fix toilets?

If so, we sure could have used her in the upstairs bathroom. The toilet had been running and running. To solve the problem, the hubs and I decided to simply turn the water off. Problem solved!

But then, we had company coming in from out of town, so that toilet had to be fixed. Really fixed.

We got out a How To Fix Everything In Your House book. You have one of these in your house, right? Everyone does. I think we own 10-12 of these fix-it-yourself books. And all of them were gifts from friends and family.

Aside from hanging curtains, we're just not terribly handy here.

After much thought, some poking around and an outside consultation from my uncle, we decided that the tank needed a new floaty ball thingy and a new seal.

The floaty ball thingy was easy enough to replace, but we had a real problem replacing the seal. Mainly because we couldn't figure out how to get the apparatus on top of the seal off of it.
You know, the big white column apparatus thingy.
In the picture below, see the orange seal at the bottom of the tank? Now, see the white column thingy on top of it? That's the thing we couldn't get off.
Don't you just love my terminology? Like I said, we're just not that handy here.

Hubby's dad came over to show us how to get the white column thingy off. Turns out, you have to pull that hose thing off, unscrew the top, and the whole thing lifts right off. The Big Guy bought a new seal, spent a good twenty minutes getting it into place, and now the toilet runs when it is supposed to, and doesn't when it's not. Which is a very good thing.

I'm proud to say that with a minimum of outside help and less than $4.00 worth of parts, we fixed this toilet all on our own. It's a good thing! And with this project done, we can move on to others...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Martha Monday!

Mark you calenders now, people! The season premiere of the Martha Stewart show is Monday, September 14. Set your Tivo or DVR now--it looks like this season is all about rediscovering the joy and value of all things homemade.

If you can't wait a week to get your Martha fix, go to the website. There are a bunch of great recipes for those late-season veggies and end-of-summer cocktails, and Halloween ideas are already up.

Enjoy! And happy labor day to everyone!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

To Do List

I love lists. Making lists helps me organize and prioritize my day/week, and crossing things off those lists fills me with a warm and fuzzy that says "You've been productive. Hooray for you!"

With that in mind, I'm going to start putting weekly lists here to hold myself more accountable, and stay on top of all there is to do. Plus, it's less actual paper to deal with, which is great considering I am drowning in reminders scrawled on post-its and my list collection now spans at least three different notebooks. I guess I'm just complicated like that, okay?

For this week:

1. Bake cookies for work event
2. Decorate cookies for work event
TMI note: baking and decorating are substantial tasks, so they get their own lines.
3. Package cookies for work event
4. Head to Kohl's for pants and purse
5. Send out invitations for the Little Guy's upcoming birthday party
6. Head to hardware store for closet organizers and nightlights
Another TMI note: this one is not absolutely essential, so don't be surprised if you see it on next week's list.
7. CVS shopping
8. Walgreens shopping

Thanks goodness tomorrow is a holiday--that means all my productivity will happen on the home front. Have a great week!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Finished cards

At my little card-making party, I think Amy, Ellyn and I crafted for a good 2.5 hours, and each of us came away with a nice little stack of finished cards.

Look at Amy's card! For a beginner, she is making some awesome cards. Note to Amy: my birthday is coming up....and, well, I like getting cards in the mail...cards that are just like the ones you made on Saturday...just so you know.

The following three cards are Ellyn's. Aren't they awesome? Ellyn is a pro at making cards. Everything looks so polished and professional!

Can I be honest with you for a minute? For a split second, I thought about posting the pictures of Ellyn's cards without credit to the crafter. That way, you all might think that I, a Martha-in-training, had made these wonderful cards. Isn't that awful of me? But I immediately thought of the mostacciolli incident, and I knew that even implying that I made these cards would be a terrible thing to do.

What is the mostacciolli incident, you ask? Well, several years ago, the Big Guy and I went to a potluck. I made baked mostacciolli. It was awesome. AWESOME. People tasted it and raved. When they asked who made it, the Big Guy (jokingly) took credit. WHAT?!? I remedied that situation asap, but my very astute readers will notice that I'm still a little miffed about that incident. Just a bit.
Which is why I had to give full credit to Ellyn for her awesome cards. One day, I will make cards this beautiful. And when I do, I will show them off here with full credit to me: your friendly, honest Martha-in-training.