Monday, September 26, 2011

Family Master Binder: Part 2

Welcome to part two of my Family Master Binder Series.  If you missed Part 1: Getting Started, check it out here.  In this post I will focus on the first two sections of my binder.  When I was creating mine, I found it difficult to decide what to add to each section (even with my google stalking).  So here are a few pics and ideas of what to put in yours.  Of course every family and house hold has different needs, so tweak yours to fit your family just right.

When I first open my Family Master Binder I have a cover sheet.  In the pocket to the left are forms that I need to file on my filing day which is Wednesday.

My first section in my binder is my information section.  I used file folders as my section dividers even though I have plastic folders.  I wanted to be able to put a cover sheet for each section and I didn't want to just put it in the pocket.  To make them I just cut the tabbed half of the file folder off (I let Munchkin color on the other side).  Then I used scrapbook paper to cover them.  Last I added my cover sheet.  Extra work?... Yes... worth it for me?... Yes.  Well here is the run down of the information section:

 1. Town Info: the numbers to the police, fire dept., and 2 of my close neighbors.

2. Medical Info: the numbers to our family Dr., pediatrician, dentist, as well as the phone numbers and member ID# to all of our insurance carriers.

3. Employment Info: both my husband and my work numbers and addresses (technically I am still on family leave... we'll see if I ever go back; )

4. Home Info: the numbers/ and websites to our electric, gas, water service, cable Internet & Phone companies, as well as our landscaper and anyone else who we use for service.  I still have to add our plumbers number.  For now it's taped to the plastic folder in this section.

5. I also keep a community guide we received when we moved into the area.  I have also placed the poison control sticker in this section.

 My second section is titled Agenda, let's take a look.

Week at a Glance sheets.  As you can see my weeks are pretty mundane. I suppose once the boys get older and have their own schedules outside the home things will get pretty hectic and these sheets will become more important.  The top portion are blank days of the days of the week boxes.  The bottom portion has quick reminders, a Daily cleaning list, and a weekly chore list for me. 

My daily schedule (I find if I write it down then I'm more likely to stick to it).  BTW, no... I don't always wake up at 6 and work out.

I also keep calendar sheets that I printed for free from Organized Home.  This site is quickly becoming one of my favs.  These are some of the few pages I don't keep in page protectors.  I need to be able to write things down quickly with a pen, sliding them in and out just doesn't work.

I've found that there are lots of resources for print outs for your own binder.  If you'd like more professional looking pages you can purchase some from iheartorganizing.  Mine are similar, just not as nice... lol.  Also Organized Home has some for free but you can't edit them on your computer.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

Next week in Part 3, I'll show you my Home Keeping, Food Planning, and Family sections.

Happy Organizing,


Rainbow Fish Craft

Tot School

The week before last we did Rr is for Rainbows. We did lots of fun things including reading the story The Rainbow Fish (of course) then making cute rainbow fish out of coffee filters.

You'll Need:
A coffee filter
Washable markers
One wiggly eye
Tin foil

Start by coloring patches of color all over your coffee filter. Use bright colors for best results (yellow doesn't show up well on the brown coffee filter).  Once your coloring is complete use a spray bottle to wet your filter. I let Munchkin shake An old sippy cup full of water on the filter (this worked fine).

 Once your filter is saturated the colors will begin to run together (I had to help it a bit with my finger).  Let it dry completely.  The colors will be much lighter.  Cut it into the shape of a fish.

Then add scales with the tin foil. I put little dots of glue and let Munchkin add the tin foil. Last add the eye and draw a small mouth. Done.  Aren't they cute?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Family Master Binder: Getting Started

In my quest to become uber organized I have created a Family Master Binder. I first saw something like this a few years ago and never acted.   Earlier this year I stumbled across another and it sparked a memory of  a master desk binder I used as a teacher.  It contained all of my important papers and information, including lesson plans and homework sheets.  I actually half heartedly started this project a few  months ago.  I put it on hold and tried to create a system on my iPad and that just didn't work out.  So in the beginning of last month, I started... again.   Like anything else I am interested in or doing... I googled like crazy.  Turns out everyone and there mama has one (yes I even found a retired mama who had one).  Side bar, I feel like there is so much to learn about managing a family and running a household.  I am learning so much from the blog world... anyway.  I found one that I absolutely love on iheartorganizing. I modeled my own binder after hers but made my own printables because I'm kind of cheep.

So, what exactly is a Family Master Binder.  It is your go to spot for everything your family needs.  It's like the quick-e-mart for important information.  Sure you can find anything on the web, but having everything in a central location right at your finger tips is way more convenient.  It is most commonly referred to as a Home Management Binder or Guide, but I like to be different.  You can call yours whatever you want.

Who needs a Family Master Binder?  Everyone.  From single lady with two dogs (Hi Erica!), a growing family, or even a retired empty nester (Hi Mommy!).  Just think of how convenient it is to have all medical info right at your finger tips.  Need the number to the plumber?... it's in there.  Need the number to that favorite chinese spot? Or a place to store incoming bills or coupons to The Limited?  This is it... you need this.

I've been using my binder for about a month now and it has proven to be a major asset to our family. I'm even training ehem, teaching my husband to use it.  I know that as my boys grow, and the needs of my family change my binder will evolve.  If you'd like to make your own binder, begin to gather the supplies below. I will post about this in several sections so it doesn't get too overwhelming. If you are interested please email me and I can send you blanks of everything I made (it took along time). Hopefully my stumbles will help you as you make your own binder.

So these are some things you'll need:

A binder. Mine is a 2 inch binder and it's the perfect size. I purchased mine from Target (cause I like the girly colors), but any binder will do. Don't feel like you have to spend a bunch.

A printer. Your pages don't have to be color, but a printer is definitely a must.

Sheet protectors. You don't necessarily need these, but it will make things look neater and help things last longer, which means less printing. I actually already had some leftover from grad school.

Dividers. I used plastic folders with a pocket then added file folders too (I'll explain later).

The following is a list of things you may possibly want.

Sticky tab dividers
3 hole punch
3 hole pencil case
Wet erase/dry erase markers

This weekend gather your supplies.  Each week I will tackle a few sections.  Don't feel like you have to rush through this.  It took me quite a while to get everything together.  Also create a folder on your computer. Let's get organized together!

I'm linking to:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kitchen Command Center Complete... Kind Of.

Okay... so remember when I laid out a list of projects to do around the house, then remember when Irene came around I said I completed a project that deserved it's own post.  Well, this is that post!  I'm super excited (you're probably not as excited as I am, but that's ok) to show you my completed (kind of) Kitchen Command Center... YAY!

Alright.. now for a little before.

Sorry for the bad lighting... couldn't get the flash to work, and it was dark outside.

Yes... not too bad, I guess.  I did clear it off and make it neater when guest would come over though.  I had an outdated desk calendar, speakers from a computer I don't have anymore, piles of mail, and an incomplete home management binder stuffed there.  The insides of the cabinets was just a kind of throw it area... you know when you can't figure out where to put something.  It's funny we've been in this house for about 2 years now and I never thought to do more with this area in my kitchen.  I used to think,  "Why do I need a kitchen office when we have an office in another room?" or "This will make a great homework area one day when the boys go to school."  Then I saw a really similar area on Delightful Order and I was like oooooh is that what that's for... hehhehe.  So I shopped around my house for some supplies and did a little shopping at Walmart and the Dollar Tree.

The night when Irene came to visit, while my husband sat glued to the news.  I did this.  Just like any organizing project... 1. decide what you'll use the space for.  2. Clear out, purge, group like items together. 3. Find a specific home for everything.  4. Make it pretty. : ).

Here's a little tour of my new Command Center.

In cabinets to the left I have all the chargers, then a small bin for hubby to drop things, the green basket has medicine so I don't have to run upstairs in case a guest needs some.  lol... at the top are some boxes that my hubby will not let go of.  Why he needs them I'll never know.

On the right I keep most of the things I use for preschool at home.  The pink binder has lesson plans and printables.  I have my label maker and tapes (I still need to get a small bin to keep it in).  I also keep a stash of lotions and yes... deodorant... don't laugh.  The red basket has little things I collect that may get used for activities with Munchkin and Bear: bottle caps, buttons, sample packages of model magic... etc.

When I was organizing all my print photos,  I found a family pic with a year at a glance calendar.  I was like PERFECT!!! (in my sing song voice).  I repurposed my outdated desk calendar and turned it into a cute cork board.  At some point I'll post a toturial.  The green box has lots of compartments.  I have lots of pens & pencils, dry erase markers, and sharpies.  It also holds action items that come in the mail.  Not bills, but other things that need to be taken care of.  I also keep tape and scissors in it.  So far Munchkin can't reach them, and yes he's tried.  The silver mesh box came from my craft room and now holds keys and I.D. badges.  I used to keep the flowers on my kitchen table, but I thought they were a perfect finishing touch for the Command Center.  Finally you'll see my home management binder.  I finally finished it and have been using it for about a month.  It's awesome.  I strongly recommend this to anyone trying to organize a family.  I will be posting a step by step in the coming weeks, and sharing my section print outs if anyone is interested.

Just another angle, because I am so excited ; )

I keep menus in the right side drawer.

The center has a few extra office supplies, thank you cards, and my coupons.

I haven't exactly figured out what to do with this drawer.  Right now it has a bag that needs to be returned to Home Depot.  Like I said this command center in kind of complete.  I also am not sure how to utilize the cabinets on the bottem.  Possibly product manuals.. hmmm.. we'll see.  Underneath I keep my bag, diaper bag, and hubby's briefcase when he's home.  It should probably go in the mud room, but that's a whole other project.

And one more money shot : ).

You'll notice there is no chair... that is so no little people can climb.

So that's it folks.  Thanks for stopping by.  Oh yeah, for anyone who cares... I have finally settled on a color for the laundry room.  Burnt Almond by Behr. 

I'm linking to:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Progress and a new Project

So a little while back I Told you all about my to do list. Well... Things are moving along nicely. I have completed a few of the tasks. The craft room/guest room closet is done... I even painted it (thanks to The Scott's Crib for the inspiration to do that). I have organized all of the print photos.. Haven't gotten to the scrapbooking part yet... But that will come. My utility closet is complete, and I have created a kitchen command center which I will detail in an up coming post. I'm loving the way things are looking, and I'm feeling all proud of myself... Just like a kid... Lol.

My new focus area is the laundry room. This room I want to totally make over. Come with me as I show you around.

This is the view from the doorway. To the right all laundry.. To the left all dog.

Munchkin likes to "help" do the laundry.

I definitely want to replace the wire shelf. I think I may use this floating one from Ikea.
In an attempt to hide all/most of my supplies I'm also adding a few baskets or bins. I also need to add some kind of window treatment, probably a valance since it's high up and won't attract as much fur. Which brings me to the dogs...

In terms of the dogs... They present a particular challenge in keeping the laundry area clean. The crates are ugly.  I need to find a solution.  Also, have you ever seen Turner & Hooch. You know the shoestring drool. Yes... My dogs have that, and like most dogs they shake all the time... Especially right after they drink water. They also shake (okay this is gross... But I'm keeping it real) ear goo all over.  You can see the speckles all over the walls if you look closely.  It. Is. Disgusting.   Every week I'm magic erasering (my word) my walls to get it off.   With that said, which ever paint I use it will have to be glossy. It has to be easy to clean. I also need to come up with something to contain all of their other things: leashes, meds, cleaners... Etc.

The sink area is a whole other issue. I need a place to house all of the little things that collect there. Scissors, sponges, loose change... It all needs a place to go.

That'd be Mr. Blue hanging out.

I also want to add some fun laundry art. Perhaps some wooden letters, or clothes pin craft. We'll see.

Here is some of the inspiration I've collected from around the web. 

Laundry rooms don't have to be fugly.
Dani NK via Pinterest
love the use of clear glass canisters for laundry room storage.
I don't really use clothespins (except for crafting) but I may add this just for the visual look.   
I want this in my laundry room.  Cheap                  
I think this is such a funny and cute idea.  Pinmarket via Pinterest

So getting these for my laundry room :) #laundry room
Maybe not 4 rows... but definitely 1. via Pinterest 

I love the idea of all of these... cool thing is, I can actually make them... I think.  
I could make this!
Pinterest via simplecrafter

laundry room art
pinterest via
Laundry Room Subway Art Vinyl ( )
I like the hook/knob action on this.  Pinterest via

I'm thinking I'll be using a sky blue color.  Honest Blue from Behr.  We have lots left over from Munchkin's bathroom, so I'll only have to get one more gallon (glossy of course).  I also like the idea of adding pops of bright yellow throughout.  Wish me luck.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bananas About Birthday Cake!

So last post I bragged talked about the red velvet cake I made for hubby's birthday.  Today I'll show you the banana cake I made for Little Bear's first birthday.  I really wanted to do a kid friendly cake.  Yes, that would possibly be any cake.. but I really wanted something sweet and moist and fun.  I read somewhere/everywhere that adding a box of pudding to cake mix makes it extra moist, so I knew I was going to do that.  I wanted to make a cake from scratch, but I didn't want to overwhelm myself since I was already making a scratch cake for hubby the same day.  I decided to just remix a boxed cake mix instead.  But what flavor... hmmm.  I love carrot cake, but like I said before I've made it soooo many times. I didn't want to do chocolate since we were already having red velvet.  The idea came when my husband mentioned something about eating one of the brown bananas in the pantry. Hmmm, I thought, what about banana cake? Perfect... Little Bear loves bananas.  Then I decided to add a filling like the professionals. In my research I stumbled onto a baking forum (can't remember which) and it was suggested to replace milk for heavy cream when making instant pudding for a great filling. Just in case you wanted to know... heavy cream + instant banana pudding = heaven.

So here it is... Banana Cake with Banana Filling and Vanilla Butter Cream... Enjoy!

For the cake:

To make the cake I simply added one really ripe banana (squished up of course) and a box of banana flavored instant pudding to the regular cake, plus anything else the box called for.  I used Funfetti cake mix... but you could use yellow or white too.

I made regular vanilla butter cream frosting (I'm thinking a could have added a box of banana pudding to that too, to give it banana flavor... but that may have been too much)  I will never use a canned frosting again after tasting real butter cream.  It just doesn't compare.

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened 
  • 4-5 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons  heavy cream

I start by beating the butter till it's creamy, then I sift in the confectioners sugar little by little.  I don't have a stand alone so this can be a tedious process (if your reading this hubby... hint hint; ) After everything is all incorporated and smooth add your vanilla and salt.  Last add the heavy cream.  Some recipes call for milk... but I just think if your going for butter CREAM... you should use cream.  LOL... keep tasting until you get it exactly right.  I do this a lot.  The original recipe came from here but I added more sugar. I also use her chocolate ganache recipe... yum!

For the filling:

  • 1 box of instant pudding
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • Mix until thick and smooth
  • Taste... visit heaven.

 I ended up using two boxes of cake.  3 nine inch cake rounds, and 1 six inch round.  I only made one of the cakes banana, you couldn't tell once it was all assemble because the filling had such a great banana flavor.

After cooling completely.  I stacked my layers be sure to shave off the rounded tops of the cake so you have a level surface.   So the bottom part has three layers with banana cream filling between.  After stacking, I gave it a crumb coat. I needed to have a really smoothing frosting job because I was using fondant.  This is actually a picture of the Red Velvet cake with a crumb coat... totally forgot to take pics while I was doing this one.

I made a big batch of marshmallow fondant, you can read this post to find out how. After coloring and rolling it out (which took longer than I care to admit... I almost threw it all out and said F-it) I carefully laid it over the top and around the sides.. And still made lumps, bumps, and wrinkles. I wasn't too worried about the poor covering job because I knew I could hide a lot of the oopsies with decoration... And I did.  Two tiers wasn't too bad... I ended up using the top tier for his smash cake.  I just lifted the whole thing off when it was time.  It left a little ring on the bottom part... but honestly.. who cares?

So that's it... It's not at all what I was planning on doing. Sorry I didn't get more pics... I was on a cake mission almost impossible by that time.  I had originally wanted to do some kind of jungle cake with animals on top. As you can see it's a long way from that... I think it looks like a spaceship actually. Anyway, no matter what it looked like, it was moist, creamy, and down right delish! Of course the most important thing was that Little Bear loved it... And so did everyone else.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Red Velvet Love!

Last week was such a busy week for me.  Not only did my precious baby boy turn one, but my husband also had a birthday.  I have started a tradition of baking a cake from scratch for the birthdays in our little family, I also make the icing from scratch..  This usually is no problem, but this year (and every year to come) I will have two birthdays back to back.

For the past two years I have made carrot cake for my husband's birthday.  This year I wanted to try something new.  He loves red velvet cake, and I wanted to kick it up a notch kind of like The Cheesecake Factory's version.  I found exactly what I was looking for at erin's food files.  The final result was beyond words.  As I was making it, I felt like a kid again licking the batter, and scraping the bowl with all five fingers... yes full out five finger sweeps.  This was my first attempt at a cheesecake, and I wasn't very impressed with how it turned out.  However, as a filling for a decadent red velvet cake... it was perfect.  So here's my finished product.  I followed the recipe exactly... I'm not a big experimenter when it comes to baking.  So here it is, Red Velvet Cake with Cheesecake filling.  It's covered with homemade cream cheese frosting and topped with shaved white chocolate, then dusted with cocoa powder... yes... I know.

Give this blog a look for other great ideas.  This is the only recipe I've used from here, but I will definitely be back for more.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Letter to Little Bear

In honor of my sweet baby boy (Little Bear's) first birthday, I am writing him a letter.  Munchkin's will follow.  This will definitely have to go into a scrapbook at some point.  For now it will be shared with all who care to read in Blog Land.

Dear Little Bear,
     We weren't exactly planning on a second baby so soon, but we weren't exactly taking precautions either.  I suppose that makes you a sorta surprise.  We found out you were coming a week after Valentine's Day.  I think I knew already.  I had been inexplicably exhausted and sluggish all week.  Daddy and I were so excited.
   When we went to the doctor to see you for the first time, you looked like a little gummy bear... so cute!  During your time camping out in mommy's belly you liked to stay quiet all day and at night you were a party animal.   You bounced and danced all night long.  Sometimes I played you soft music to get you to calm down.
     We expected you to arrive in late October, so it was a big surprise for you to arrive in early September.  Mommy, Daddy, and Munchkin couldn't wait to take home and show you around, but you needed just a bit more time to hang out in the NICU before your journey home.
    Because you arrived so early Mommy and Daddy hadn't settled on a special name just for you yet.  We thought, and thought, but couldn't choose the perfect name for our sweet little boy.  We even involved the staff in the NICU, along with all our family and friends.  Finally we chose the perfect name for you, ten days after you were born. 
     When we finally brought you home we were all so excited.  You settled in nicely and now one year later, I can't imagine life with out you.  Happy Birthday Little Bear.  We love you!!!

Mommy, Daddy, and Munchkin

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tot School Firsts

I suppose it the teacher in me that had me searching for fun lessons for toddlers... it is September you know.  Well in my searching I stumbled upon 1+1+1=1.  I love her ideas and her tot school posts.  I've been teaching Munchkin a letter a week since around last October.  We've been very loose, especially since the summer began.  Well I'm ready to jump back in.

Carisa from 1+1+1=1 has lots of great ideas and tools to use for your tots.  When I started doing letter a week from Brightly Beaming Resources, I simply did lots of coloring letters with Munchkin, yeah we did an occasional finger paint, or other activity but I definitely slacked in the "make learning fun" department.  Lol, I have a bit of perfectionist in me that was afraid of the mess he'd make of more

I hadn't even considered teaching him other skills like gluing, using scissors, even pouring things.  Well I have officially been planning lots of my own little activities as well as borrowing some ideas that I've gotten from blog land.

Little Bear will get to join in the fun as well.  I plan on doing lots of sensory activities with him.  Here are a few shots of some of the activities we've started.  LOL, a lot of the cute things I thought of or found for Munchkin to do he was totally not into.  I should have been prepared for this.  It's all good though... I've been following his lead.  He seems to love matching games, coloring, and painting, also listening to stories and helping me cook.  Hopefully I can expand these likes into more diverse areas... but it"s a start.

 Munchkin loves using my iPad... He's started to call it his iPad... he gets corrected with the quickness!!! There are lots of great free and low cost (under 2$) apps for babies and kids.  I'll definitely be getting more.

This was his first ever attempt at using scissors.  He was so excited, he kept reminding me they were his scissors whenever I tried to help him.  So I just watched...

...and watched

...and watched

Until he finally just decided to just rip the paper... hey, whatever works.

We also tried placing stickers in a little sticker book I made.  I am actually a hoarder of stickers.  I have tons from school that I've been holding onto.  Anyway we started with little stars and they were too small.  They just stuck to his fingers and annoyed him.  So we moved on to my collection of Cars stickers.  He loved these.   When he was finished we counted the stickers on the page.  He's great at counting aloud, however we still need lots of practice counting objects.

He also painted which he loved just like I thought... my own little Picasso.

My favorite... and his too, was this matching game I made.  On our last trip to Home Depot I took some Disney paint samples... they're really cute and shaped like Mickey.  I got two of each color, one set I glued to some scrapbook paper I had and the other he uses to match.

I'll keep you posted on how things are going.  Does anyone else have any cute activities they do with their tots?

Want to see more?  Follow the link below for awesome resources.

Tot School