Saturday, December 31, 2011

Create a Unique Scrapbook with Everyday Items You Already Have at Home

Scrap booking has become a popular pastime through the past few years.  If you've looked into it, you know that it can easily become an expensive one as well.  But with some creativity, you can use the everyday items in your house to create a scrapbook that reflects your individual personality and style. 

After you've selected your favorite photos and mementos for your scrapbook, take a look around you.  You've probably looked at items around your house hundreds of times without considering their scrapbook potential.

If you've got photos from a favorite vacation, look around to see what you have around your home that reminds you of that trip.  Postcards, souvenirs and even travel brochures that can be cut apart are great ways of building a great vacation page or section.

If you're building a school days page, report cards, awards, certificates, ribbons, graded assignments, and even notebook doodles are clever enhancements.  Paper clips or crayon wrappers work nicely.

Pressed flowers, handwritten poetry, and clippings from magazines can also nicely enhance a wedding or engagement page.  Be sure to jot down details of the day you want to be sure you remember.  Use the fronts of some of your favorite cards and remnants from saved gift wrap as backgrounds for your photos. 

Ribbons and gift wrap remnants also work well for baby's page.  Be sure to include an announcement card and a copy of baby's footprints.  You might also want to tuck in a corner of a baby blanket or a page from a favorite storybook. 

Even remembrance pages can reflect your own personal memories of your lost loved one.  Enhance your favorite photos with a label from a favorite perfume or cologne, food, beverage.  Movie ticket stubs, buttons, newspaper articles, handwriting samples and favorite quotes or funny moments jotted down on paper can make your page special. 

With a fresh look at some ordinary, every day items, your scrapbook can take on a personal and individual flair. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Creative and Affordable Ideas to Bring your Living Room to Life

Your living room is the room in your house where most of the living takes place.  It's where your family gathers to watch television, read, and generally unwind and relax after a busy day.  It's also the room where company gathers during parties and holidays.  But you're struggling to come up with decorating ideas and strategies for it, and you worry that your budget isn't big enough to do the job justice.  But with a little planning, creativity, and ingenuity, your living room can be a relaxing environment where you can unwind or entertain with comfort and ease.Consider pulling pieces you have in other rooms into your living room to use.  A short, double-sided dresser can easily become a buffet when a table runner and an arrangement of candles or a colorful flower centerpiece is placed on top.  

Use your furniture arrangement to define functional areas. Strategically placed floor rugs, lamps and furniture can create zones in your home. You can arrange your seating to take advantage of a focal point, such as a television, picture window or a fireplace.  You can also find affordable component pieces that combine functional storage with fashionable decorating lines. Tables with drawers and shelves add valuable, and a simple desk doubles for homework,  household management, bill paying and filing.
When accessorizing your room, remember that less is more. Choose neutral colors and accent with colorful textured throws, rugs, and other decorative and artistic elements.  Keep the balance of your room in perspective.  You don't want to overwhelm a small room with large, bold pieces, nor do you want to place smaller, neutral pieces in a large room where they'll get lost. If you're working with used furniture, try distracting from worn upholstery or a faded finish by using colorful toss pillows or table runners.  Bright curtains can distract from a faded carpet and breathe new life into an old room.  

Coordinating Your Busy Family's Schedule

If you have a busy family that seems to be traveling in different directions constantly, you know how challenging it can be to coordinate everyone's schedules.  Between projects and deadlines at the office, meetings with your children's teachers, after school activities like soccer practice and troop meetings, not to mention the household chores, it can be a dizzying and confusing task.  But if each family member is committed and communicates effectively, the task of creating a combined family schedule is a manageable one for you.

The first step is to commit to weekly family meetings.  Make it mandatory that each family member is there so that the schedule can be discussed and organized.  This should also double as a great opportunity to schedule quality family time together, so make sure it's held at a time when everyone is able to attend. 

Next, design a schedule that can be easily accessed by all family members, so that everyone knows where everyone else should be at any given time.  This can be done by designing one yourself using materials such as poster board, markers, pushpins and index cards that can be pinned to the schedule, allowing for changes that can occur from week to week.  It could also be designed on your family computer and saved onto the desktop, so each family member can readily access it and make changes if necessary.  Have family members get into the habit of indicating on the schedule specific addresses or contact telephone numbers if the activity is new or changes from week to week.  Be sure that care providers for your children such as grandparents and babysitters are familiar with your scheduling system and know how to use it. 

Again, with a commitment from each family member and open lines of communication, the family schedule can be a useful tool for everyone.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Efficiently Organizing your Small Bathroom Makes Big Sense

Small, cramped bathrooms with little space and lots of stuff can present big problems for a busy family.  With items strewn across the bathroom counter top with no designated space make it difficult to find that favorite pot of lip gloss, box of dental floss or can of hair mousse when morning routine time is at a minimum.  You can conquer this problem with an honest assessment of your bathroom's contents and some creativity. 

First of all, look around your bathroom.  If you have products in your bathroom that you didn't like after the first use, or that someone who previously visited left there and your family doesn't use, get rid of them.  This can be a tough pill to swallow if you focus on the money that you spent on buying it, but if it's taking up valuable space in your cramped bathroom quarters, it's costing you more in headaches and stress than it's worth.  You'll probably be amazed at how much space you can free up by clearing out these unused, unwanted items. 

After you've cleared these items out, assess what's left.  If there's a drawer for makeup, but nothing in it is sorted, consider some small boxes or baskets to place them in.  Place lipsticks and glosses in one bin, another for makeup compacts, and another for makeup applicators such as brushes and sponges. If there are a lot of hair products, consider using a larger basket to place them in and stored under the sink which can be easily removed and put away each morning. 

If you're in the habit of stocking up on those products you seem to go through quickly such as toilet paper, lotion, or toothpaste, consider storing those in a pantry or linen closet instead of in the bathroom itself.  Make sure all family members know where to look for a replacement or refill should they run out. 

Most importantly, get your family to agree on using and maintaining the organization system that's been developed.  It'll do no good to organize only to find things disheveled and unorganized the following week.  Ask for input when devising a system, and make sure it's one that everyone involved can live with.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Eliminate the Chaos of Home Office Clutter

The home office has slowly become the foundation of the modern day household.  We pay the bills, organize recipe files and photo albums and develop calendars and schedules on our computers, and some of us make a living from here.  With so many different activities happening here, it's easy to see how it can easily become the most disorganized and unkempt area of the home.  A clean organized desk and home office can save time, stress and even money if we work from home.  So if you're feeling overwhelmed by your messy desk and disorganized office, take a good hard look and see what's overwhelming your order the most. 

Mail is probably the biggest contributing factor to our messy desktops.  Get in the habit of dealing with your mail on a daily basis.  Toss what you can, place those things that need to be shredded into a shredding bin and shred them once per week, and file the rest away properly.  This might also be the time to update your filing system and make folders for current years or months.

Another culprit of office clutter is computer storage media such as CDs, DVDs and floppy disks.  Take the time to ensure each is properly labeled and placed in a protective file or case.  Categorize and alphabetize them for easy access.

If you have an office area that is commonly used by all family members, it can easily become cluttered with glasses, coffee cups, food wrappers and dirty dishes.  Since computer equipment can easily be damaged should something spill on it, it's probably wise to impose a rule forbidding eating and drinking while using the computer.  This would lessen the clutter at the same time.  If you spend a considerable amount of time during the day in your office and your office space is large enough, provide for an area far from the computer and other electronic equipment where food and drink can be set without the fear of ruining equipment should a spill occur. 

If you utilize a bulletin board, take the time to make sure all the items posted on it are current.  If not, take them down and file away or toss.  Make sure your calendar is always displaying the current month so you can see the month's activities and appointments in an easy glance.

Office supplies have a way of easily cluttering up our workspace as well.  Take the extra time to clean out and organize desk drawers if necessary and make sure all office supplies have a home other than the top of your desk. 

With some forethought, planning and discipline, your home office can become and stay productive, efficient and serene. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fun Ways to Display your Favorite Photos

Photos of family, friends and favorite places add a touch of personality, style, flair, and jazz to any room.  Sometimes however it's difficult to think of inventive and creative ways to display your treasured pictures. 
First you need to take a good look at the photos you want to display.  One of your favorite photos might be a large group picture, but it may not actually display well when hanging on a wall.  Save that one for the scrapbook and look for pictures that have vibrant images that convey a message or a thought.
Older photographs can be brought to live with the advances in photographic reproduction technology.  If you have a favorite old photo that's fading, or has been damaged or crinkled through the years, take it to a photo shop to have it restored and reprinted.  You might even be able to do this yourself at home with photo imaging software.  You might want to consider added a special effect, enlarging or cropping the photo differently to add a new perspective to a familiar photo.

Mixing frames of different styles and sizes can be fun, but takes some planning and forethought.  Lay the framed photos on a tabletop or the floor and rearrange until you find a workable arrangement, then employ a friend or family member's help when measuring and preparing to mount on the wall.  Have your level ready to be sure that a picture that looks straight actually is straight. Photos don't have to be limited to the walls.  Tabletops, desktops, bookshelves, and your family entertainment wall unit are all great places to add a picture frame. Even a dressing screen can make a clever and unique backdrop.

You can even decoupage photos onto a table lamp base or mirror frame for an added jazzy effect.  And by using fabric transfer sheets, you can even transfer a favorite photo onto a pillowcase or wall hanging. Photo collages of friends or family members make great placemats.  Simple arrange and laminate.  This is also a great way to hang a collage on the wall or corkboard above your desk or in your office.  Individual laminated photos can be affixed to magnets to put on the refrigerator and other metal surfaces in your home.