...because home doesn't happen overnight.

If you’ve been following my blog, you may remember this post where I described my frustration in getting my kids to hang up their hand towel in the powder room. 

I thought I had found the perfect solution in a $3 adhesive hook that I got at Lowe’s.

To my dismay, the result wasn’t perfect. 

Layne complained that it was difficult for him to get the towel to hang on the hook.  Sometimes he would attempt to hang it up but it would fall down shortly after.  In desperation, I turned to IKEA.  Which is where I usually turn when I’m feeling desperate.

You see, IKEA has hand towels with tags that double as loops for hanging. 

The IKEA THISTED hand towel (at $6.99 a pop) makes it a cinch for my lil’ guys to hang ‘em up. 

It’s not a fluke.  They’ve been doing it for over a month now!  (I might be a little more excited than I should be.)  And the quality of these towels is icing on the cake.  They are oversized, beefy and absorbent…all things a towel should be.  So glad I purchased 2 – one is in use and the other is ready and waiting for the first to get dirty.

If you’ve got kids that can’t reach your towel rings (or even stubborn husbands that are oblivious to the act of towel hanging)…then you’ve got soggy towels.  If you’ve got soggy towels, slap on an adhesive hook at kid (or hubby) level, grab a few IKEA THISTED hand towels and watch the hanging begin.

02.25.10 / Goodwill Hunting

I love a killer deal.  Gently used clothing from the Salvation Army?  Yes, please.  Secondhand toys from neighborhood garage sales?  Yes, please.  Furniture left on the side of the road in need of a little TLC?  Yes, please.  Pretty much nothing is below me when it comes to finding a great price.  I’m not afraid of dingy little outlet stores with questionable bathrooms and leaky roofs.  (I just make sure to empty the tank before I get there!)  Every few months or so, I’ll peruse nearby Goodwill stores just to see what they have.  Most times I leave empty-handed but on a recent trip I came out with some housewares.  Score!

I walked out of Goodwill with 5 picture frames, 3 drinking glasses, 1 ceramic dish and 2 matching candleholders (and a partridge in a pear tree)…for a total of $19.  Yippee!  You woulda thought I’d won the lottery by the look on my face.

The 5 picture frames are real solid wood.  They aren’t much to look at now but they’ll come in handy for the future family photo wall.  Stay tuned for that…

This set of drinking glasses made me squeal.  They’re a good size (not too small, not too large) and have some weight to them.  I can see my boys and me sipping ice cold lemonade out of these in the summer.  Summer does still exist, doesn’t it?

My favorite part is the raised green sunbursts.  Aren’t they sweet?  They provide great texture and subtle color at the same time.

I couldn’t pass up this small green dish.  I have 2 white ones already.  They’re perfect for dipping sauces, kids’ snacks or food prep.  I kind of feel like Rachael Ray when I chop and measure out all my ingredients in these little guys before dumping them into whatever dish I’m making.

And last but not least, I found a pair of matching candlesticks.  Yep, a PAIR.  It’s truly a miracle when you find a pair of matching anything at Goodwill.  I actually saw one first and marveled over its shiny whiteness but was disappointed when I couldn’t think of anything to do with one lone candleholder.  But, lo and behold, I turned down the next aisle and spotted its twin!  It was nothing short of divine intervention. 

So, there you have it…the fruits of my Goodwill shopping spree.  And it cost me less than $20.  Goodwill and other resale/secondhand stores are great places to score on affordable glassware:  dishes, vases and decorative accents.  You may have to search through junk to find worthy pieces but the hunt is quite fun!

That title has more to do with how I’m feeling today than the content of this post.  (I’m running a little ragged.)  Still, the phrase “I think I can, I think I can” conjures up visions of The Little Engine That Could.  And The Little Engine That Could was a train.  And kids like trains.  And I have kids.  And my kids need a train table for the trains they like.  There.  You got it.  This post is about a train table.  Whew.  I’m spent.

Okay, moving on.  Right before we moved to Ohio, we were offered a used train table by our dear friends (that we miss!), the Streitmatters.  We paid $15 for it.  Layne was in heaven and we were grateful for scooping up such a great deal.  It was very similar to the train table pictured below except that it was white instead of wood tone and included 4 plastic bins for storage underneath.  Also, the landscaping on the top wasn’t as realistic as the one shown below.  Besides the white frame, everything else was primary colored…red, green, blue, yellow.  (Wait, aren’t there only 3 primary colors?!  I told you I was spent.) 

Sadly, I don’t have a true ‘before’ picture of our train table.  (That was waaaay before I even knew what a blog was.)  But, hopefully, you have a good idea of what it looked like.  Pretty kid-ish.  I’m not knockin’ the train table.  I just knew I could make it fit into our decor a little better because, remember, I like to tweak.  So, I got to thinking that I could probably paint over all the stuff I didn’t like and my kids would still play on it.  I hunted down this image of a painted train table online for inspiration.

Taking cues from the inspiration table, I decided to go with an aqua-celery-khaki-taupe color scheme.  I had sample-sized paint cans (the sample sizes are great for little projects like these) from Lowe’s mixed accordingly and bought khaki-colored spray paint.  First, I primed the tabletop.  After the primer was dry, I sketched out a rough drawing of my new landscape right on the primer with a pencil.  I labeled each area with either an “a” for aqua, “g” for light green, “G” for dark green, “k” for khaki and “t” for taupe to determine my color layout.  It was my take on paint-by-numbers.  It let me keep track of where each color should go.  Then I simply hand painted each area with its corresponding paint color.  In order for it to withstand the beatings of my 2 lil’ boys, I finished it off with 2 hefty coats of polyurethane.  I used the khaki spray paint to update the plastic storage bins under the table.  *When spray painting plastic, you must make sure to use spray paint that specifically adheres to plastic.*  Here’s the more serene train table hanging out in our guest/play/craft room (i.e. the ‘everything’ room). 

As non-kidlike as it looks, I assure you that my boys play on it just as much as before it was painted.  In fact, I even added a dock for them to have somewhere to play with their boats.  Guests can stay in the room without feeling like they’re spending the night at Toys ‘R Us.  It’s a win-win situation.

After I gifted these heartfelt frames to Handy Hubby on Valentine’s Day, he immediately posed the obvious question, “Where are we gonna hang them?”

Good question, Handy Hubby.  We don’t exactly have a place that we show off our family snapshots except in photo albums.  Nothing right there out-in-the-open.  Possibly because we are both clutter freaks and the idea of propping up little frames on every horizontal surface makes us quiver.  However, I have been wanting to work on a family photo wall for a while…now I have an excuse to do so.  See how this works, ladies?!  Just get your man interested in a few momentos and then you have full reign of an entire wall!  No, really, that wasn’t my plan at all when I assembled and gifted those family heirlooms to Handy Hubby.  We had both been wanting to display family pictures but hadn’t talked about or acted on it yet.  The V-Day gift sparked a fire.  Since then we have designated this narrow, tall, obsolete wall as our future family wall.

This wall resides in our main open living area between the family room and dining area.  It’s only purpose (besides structural) is to house our thermostat, a switchplate and an outlet.  This wall is the perfect candidate for the family photo wall because 1) it’s not a focal point 2) the pictures may actually help disguise the electrical uglies 3) there’d be plenty of room to linger and take in all the pics 4) there’s not much else you could do with it.  The door to the right leads to the unfinished basement and opens up onto the narrow wallspace.  So, we couldn’t put anything on the floor…only on the wall.  A family picture wall is the perfect concept!

Here are some inspiration photo walls that have lured me in…

I love that the frame materials used in this one are different but they still ‘go’ together.

This entire room is outfitted in pictures but it still looks clean and notice the subtle pops of yellow and blue.

This landing could be an art gallery!  I like the way the arrangement follows the lines of the wall and stair railing.

All the different sized rectangular frames form one big rectangle on the wall.

In an otherwise empty space, these photos take center stage.

This Mom made art in a narrow stairwell!   Lovin’ the painted wall with words as a backdrop.

The black and white photos pop out from this pea green wall.

I like the idea of mixing kids’ artwork with photos for a playful arrangement.

I’m totally diggin’ the white frames against the gray wall.  (Not to mention the old floors. Sigh.)

There you have it.  My next, newest project in the works.  A family photo wall.  I’m pretty sure going through all of our old photos isn’t going to help the “having-a-third-kid-would-be-crazy” point that Handy Hubby and I try to remind ourselves of each day when we stumble upon the thought of having #3.  Maybe if I fill the wall full enough we won’t have room for more photos and that would be reason enough not to have a third, right?!