...because home doesn't happen overnight.

A few gift ideas for those of us who live, work and feel better in a tidy environment…

the tidy house gift guide

 

1 – heritage catchall – Perfect in an entryway or laundry room for emptying pockets.

2 – pinwheel geo box – Use it on a coffee table or bookshelf for stashing playing or flash cards. Gift it with a deck of cards!

3 – angled heirloom pencil holder – Corrals pens for grab-n-go list-making. Don’t forget the pens!

4 – easy clean corded hand-held vacuum – Great for households with pets and / or kids.

5 – hairpin magazine rack – Clever and stylish reading material storage for small spaces. Throw in a few favorite magazines to get ‘em started.

6 – steel and walnut coat rack – Practical and fun near a door or on the back of one.

7 – kraft and gold polka dot planner – For old school folk like myself. If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen.

8 – power squeegee – For streak-free windows, mirrors and showers every time. No paper towels needed.

9 – printed woven storage – “I have too many baskets,” said no one ever. *BONUS* – It doubles as a gift box.

And a complete splurge for those who have been extra nice this year ;)

image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

09.23.14 / DIY Lavender Sachet

DIY lavender sachet 1

I had a small scrap of fabric leftover from the Hmong pillows I made a few weeks ago. I’m trying not to let too much time pass between sewing projects (my sewing machine has sat unused for too long) so I brainstormed another easy DIY for the scrap…lavender sachets!

DIY lavender sachet supplies

Assuming you have a sewing machine, scissors, needle, thread and paper on hand, this project requires only a few supplies: fabric, leather lace and dried lavender flowers. As I mentioned, the fabric was leftover from a previous project. It was roughly 12″ x 11″. I found the leather lace at JoAnn’s for less than $3 on sale. (It’s with the jewelry supplies.) The bag of organic lavender was $19 from Amazon but it looks like it isn’t available directly right now so the price is screwy. Maybe check it in a few days or weeks and see if Amazon has it back in stock. Or this looks like a similar alternative. Of course, you could always opt for a difference scent if you wanted, too.

I ended up making two sachets (with plenty of leather lace and lavender leftover for future sachets). Here’s what I did…

DIY lavender sachet 3

1. I cut two 11″ strips of leather lace to create hanging loops for the two sachets.

2. I cut my scrap fabric into four equal “squares.” (With my scrap, this equated to four pieces that measured roughly 6″ x 5.5″. They weren’t perfect squares.) I layered two squares on top of each other – wrong sides facing out – and repeated with the other two fabric squares.

3. I folded a leather strip in half and placed it between two layered squares leaving ~½” of the loose ends sticking out past the fabric. I placed the leather loop about an inch or so away from the top right corner. I repeated this with the other strip of leather lace and remaining fabric squares.

4. Starting at the leather loose ends, I sewed around the squares in a clockwise manner but stopped about 2″ shy of my starting point to leave an opening.

DIY lavender sachet 4

5. This is how the inside-out sachets looked after sewing and leaving a small opening at the top. I trimmed the excess fabric around the edges then turned the sachets right side out.

6. I used the eraser end of a pencil to help push out the corners.

DIY lavender sachet 5

7. I made a makeshift paper funnel and used it to fill the sachet with lavender. I filled each sachet with about 1 cup of lavender.

8. I closed up the small opening at the top of each sachet using a blind stitch.

DIY lavender sachet 6

Voila! A super simple sachet that smells pretty amazing. As you can see, I switched up the fabric so one sachet has solid fabric showing and the other has patterned fabric showing. I like them both! The leather loops allow me to hang them up almost anywhere. The possibilities are endless.

DIY lavender sachet 2

Try one on a hook near the front door so guests are greeted with a gentle waft of lavender.

DIY lavender sachet 7

Hang one on a bathroom doorknob to keep things smelling fresh. *BONUS* – Steamy showers will help release the scent even more.

DIY lavender sachet 9

Instead of wearing perfume, loop a sachet over a hanger in the closet to scent clothes for a special occasion.

DIY lavender sachet 8

If you own thrifted or vintage furniture pieces, try tossing one in a drawer to ward off musty odors.

DIY lavender sachet 10

Sachets aren’t just for the home. Hang one from the rearview mirror in your car.

DIY lavender sachet 11

Handmade sachets are a great gift idea, too. Personally, I like giving gifts that are one part bought and one part handmade. Pair a handmade sachet with a pretty scarf or sweater for a more thoughtful gift. Seeing as how I have a bag of lavender leftover from this project, I can’t wait to hit up some local fabric stores for discounted scraps to make more sachets. Wouldn’t they make cute teacher gifts for the holidays?

Anyway, these were a lot of fun to put together and I’m happy I used up all the Hmong fabric. Two sewing projects in two months?! My sewing machine doesn’t know what to think.

images: Dana Miller fro House*Tweaking

So we got a cat. And there’s a burning question that keeps coming up: WHERE DO YOU KEEP THE LITTER BOX?

cat paraphernalia - litter box

Next to the dryer, naturally. I chose the spot on a whim when we brought Cheetah home but it’s actually kinda perfect. It’s out of the way and the tile hides stray litter and allows for easy cleanup. For the first few days, I kept the curtain open so Cheetah could maneuver in and out easily. Recently, I started closing it almost all the way. Cheetah can get to the litter box but we don’t have to see it 24/7. It’s pretty inconspicuous.

We have this litter box. It’s nothing fancy. (Don’t tell my nine-year-old there are automatic litter boxes. Next thing you know, one will be on his Christmas list and then how will he ever learn the discipline of scooping cat poop? #lifeskills) But it fits the small space and, more importantly, it works. The litter mat is here. It helps to catch stray litter.

You may recall a rolling cart used to live next to the dryer. I moved it to a linen closet to make room for the litter box. NBD. (I also stash the catnip, lint rollers, Frontline and cat brush in the linen closet.) I’m able to keep a drying rack and our small ironing board next to the dryer. Cheetah doesn’t seem to mind. She is a domestic cat after all. I hope she takes up ironing soon.

cat paraphernalia - food  water

The food and water bowl is under the bench on the other side of the mudroom. Again, the tile is super easy to wipe down. The bowl has non-slip feet so it doesn’t slide around on the tile.

cat paraphernalia - storage

I store cat food and litter in the wardrobe next to the bench. I was advised to purchase this cat food and this litter. Apparently, cats can have issues with grains? Since I have no experience with cats whatsoever, I can’t really attest to how good these are. And after I bought the walnut-based litter I realized that anyone with a serious tree nut allergy can’t enter our home. (Luckily, we don’t know anyone with a tree nut allergy but who’s to say we never will?) But Cheetah is alive and we haven’t had any issues with odors so I’m not complaining. One of my biggest qualms with potentially owning a cat was the smell. So far, we haven’t had any odor issues. Fingers crossed we can keep it that way.

cat paraphernalia - stand

For the first two days, Cheetah mostly slept. I think she was traumatized. Or she was pretending to be a in bad dream where a toddler follows her every move. Then on day 3 she suddenly perked up and started scratching the sisal rug in the entry and climbing the screens on the french doors in the kitchen. (!) This sparked an intense “why is my cat scratching / climbing?” google search. (I told you I was oblivious.) Apparently, Cheetah needs to scratch / climb and I need to provide appropriate items for her to scratch / climb or she will find some herself. In desperation, I snatched up the least offensive cat stand I could find at my local pet store. I AM THAT LADY. I know I could make one just as good (if not better) but, again, the desperation. Quick! Before all the window screens are torn to shreds!

The bones are there. I figure I can tweak it when it starts looking even more hideous. Whatever. Cheetah loves it. When I catch her scratching / climbing something I don’t necessarily want her to scratch / climb, I pick her up and place her on the stand. Sometimes I spray it with a little catnip solution. Watch out! Psychedelic cat! Luckily, she hasn’t damaged anything but I don’t trust her 100%. We’re a work in progress over here.

(Also, this picture has me itching to paint those french doors a glossy black like the ones in the kitchen.)

cat paraphernalia - lounger

To redeem myself of the Carpet Tree purchase, I found this cardboard lounger. I actually love it and so does Cheetah. She scratches it and also sleeps on it. I like that it slips under the living room shelves and doesn’t take up a ton of space. The world needs more pet paraphernalia like this.

cat paraphernalia - fiddle leaf fig

There seems to be some controversy about cats and fiddle leaf figs. I’ve heard and read that FLF’s are and are not toxic to cats. Cheetah hasn’t paid much attention to the tree so far but I did rig it with some frightening cooling racks to discourage her. I AM THAT LADY, TOO. If I have to choose, I’ll find a new home for the tree – not the cat. (Which should tell you something about my feelings toward this kitten because I heart that tree so hard.)

cat paraphernalia - leather sofa

I can count on three fingers the number of times Cheetah has slept on the leather sofa. Just today, I caught her pawing at it (no damage was done) and I quickly sprayed some water her way. The spray didn’t touch her but it was enough to grab her attention. I set the spray bottle on the speaker box next to the sofa for the rest of the day and its presence was enough to keep her at bay. I’ll have to update you on the sofa’s condition in a few months. To be continued…

In general, I’m either freaking out about the cat or completely ignorant. I think it’s a good balance ;) I don’t expect perfection. I made no décor choices based on cat behavior so I can’t fret if something gets scratched. As much as I love creating a stylish home, I want it to be livable for our family – which now includes a cat. If we can’t live in it, what’s the point? That being said, I’m making every effort to teach Cheetah which items are (not) okay to scratch / climb. Fortunately, she seems to be catching on.

I titled this post “Phase 1″ because I fully anticipate different or more cat paraphernalia entering our home. Things just got verrrrrry interesting over here, didn’t they? I shared the items we already have not as recommendations per se (although I really do love that cardboard lounger and the food bowl) but so you could see what we’re starting with and offer up any tips or advice. After reading all the wonderful comments on the previous post, I watched a video on how to clip cats’ claws at home and bought some trimmers. I AM ALSO THAT LADY. I can’t say I’m excited to cut Cheetah’s claws but we’ll figure it out.

If you made it this far and you’re a cat person, I hope you find my antics humorous and have wise words to share. Like, where does your cat sleep at night? Cheetah picks a different spot every night. Is this normal? If you’re not a cat person (like I was two weeks ago), I’m sorry and I hope you don’t think I’m too crazy. Also, I hope a snuggly kitten weasels its way into your life.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Have you heard of Indiegogo? I was recently introduced to the global crowd-funding platform which is democratizing the way people raise funds for projects. If you’re an entrepreneur or a do-gooder, you can present your idea, product or cause to the public for funding. Or, if you’re a potential supporter, you can browse all kinds of campaigns and make monetary contributions to the products and ideas you’d like to see through to fruition. Basically, it’s a simple way to make ideas happen. Sounds pretty cool, right?

One particular campaign driven by Indiegogo caught my attention. Meet JIBO, the world’s first family robot. JIBO can take pictures, vocalize electronic messages, read bedtime stories, welcome you home, order takeout and so much more. Essentially, the robot acts as your family’s personal assistant. It’s been dubbed the “robot with a little humanity.” If it sounds like a product worth backing, you can contribute as little as $10 or go all out and pre-order your own JIBO!

After watching the JIBO campaign video, I couldn’t help but think of The Jetsons‘ Rosie, The Transformers‘ Bumblebee, Small Wonder‘s V.I.C.I., Her‘s Samantha and Apple’s Siri. Obviously, we humans have been thinking about the concept of a family / home / humanistic robot for a while. What should it be able to do? To what extent should it interact with us? Should it be personified as “he” or “she” or not at all?

I showed JIBO to Steve and, of course, (as an engineer) he finds the idea of a family robot fascinating. He says the human-robot relationship is inevitable. I have mixed feelings. I do find humanistic robots interesting (this TED talk on the subject is intriguing) but, honestly, I’m a little weirded out by the idea of them, too. I mean, they aren’t real. We’re just starting to see what happens when human-technology relationships replace human-human relationships. But I’ve never been the first to jump at new technological advances either. (I clung to my flip phone up until I was pregnant with Mabrey. Steve forced me to upgrade when only a few wires were holding the two halves of my phone together. I started texting just last year!)

Who knows? Maybe family robots will be commonplace in a few decades. Maybe sooner.

jibo

I will say JIBO is pretty cute…for a robot ;) FYI – That image is a mock-up.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on family robots. Yay or nay? Won’t it be fun to look back at this post and the commentary twenty years from now? If they still exist, that is.

P.S. – Check out a few more home technology-related campaigns currently running on Indiegogo: the TouchPico turns any surface into a projector and Reemo allows you to control your world with gestures. Steve wants to try them both.

*This post sponsored in part by Indiegogo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

media: 1) JIBO 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking