Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fall's Knockin' On Our Door

Today, I share my thoughts and reflections on 9/11 over at The Traveling Soul Press. May we always remember 9/11, always honor those lost, and always respect our freedom.  

I held onto summer for as long as I could this year. This is odd for me as I am a natural lover of fall and all things that come with the season--pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin scented candles, pumpkin everything! Then there's college football. If you're from the south, then y'all know what I'm talking about! Now, now, I hear those of you from all over shouting, "We love football, too!" Mr. Yankee is a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, and I have witnessed first hand just how passionate Eagles fans are. But my friends, there is nothing, NOTHING, like college football in the south. The love of the game saturates the towns and cities in a way that I don't know how to explain unless you've witnessed it. I'm an SEC gal myself. Go TN Vols! And Mr. Yankee is an ACC guy. Go Clemson Tigers! There's a lot of orange in and around our house this time of year!

Last winter was so awful, so horrible, so deadfuly long and full of snow that this year, as my favorite season slowly begins to arrive, I half welcomed it back and half ignored it. I sipped my pumpkin spice lattes while wearing flip flops and playing with the sand dollars and seashells from our beach vacation over the summer. But then I began to notice the changing leaves and my summer floral wreath on the door began to look quite out of place. So I delved into my wreath making stash and came up with an appropriate seasonal front door adornment.

I was out of unused grapevine wreaths, so I pulled out the cherry blossoms on my deck wreath and worked around the hot glued moss. I began by lying a garland of small plastic leaves around the wreath and attaching it to the grapevine with floral wire.

 Once the essential leaves were on, I pulled out this brown wired netting that I had for some unknown reason and started tucking it into the grapevine. I played around til I had it all around the wreath, also attaching it with floral wire.

I interwove the leaves with the burlap-like netting to make it all look more cohesive.

I decided to make our fall wreath with about 40 minutes til my son was due to arrive home on the school bus. I hadn't done a whole lot while he had been away that day, and suddenly I had to do something creative, something productive! The wreath took about 30 minutes to make, so I had 5 minutes left to hang it, leaving 5 minutes to get my daughter and I to the bus stop on time. I ran to the garage and drug out my wreath hanging essentials: ladder, hammer and tacks.

I run a strip of burlap through our wreaths and tack the top of the burlap, unseen, to the top of the door. Works like a charm every single time, every single wreath.

The bow was a last minute addition, leaving just 3 minutes to get to the bus stop.

I grabbed the mums for our urns at our local Produce Junction (discount flowers!) for only $5 each the day before. Yep, orange! So for a grand total of $10 and 37 minutes, our front door is now fall ready....and I made it to the bus in time to grab my son. ;)

Pumpkins and gourds will inevitably make their way next to the mums sooner or later. Maybe even a few hay bales. Are you welcoming fall yet? Do you go with traditional oranges and reds? I'd love to hear from you, so leave a comment if you'd be so kind!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gettin' it Done in the Nook

One of my very favorite places in our home is my little office nook, created out of what used to be the eat-in kitchen area. It's a work-horse of organization!

You can read more about it and see more photos here

Today I want to point out a few areas of this little space that makes a big difference in helping us stay on track throughout the year, especially when the littles are in school.

I'll walk you through the routine starting with the laundry/pantry/mudroom. The littles enter this room through the garage as they return home from school. Backpacks are emptied and hung up and the color coded calendar is checked for afternoon activities. 

Through that door they enter the office nook. Very Important Papers (VIPs) go onto the bulletin board right away and stay there until I can get the info onto the appropriate calendar. Papers that need to be signed by a parent also go here.

Other paperwork, such as returned homework, artwork, etc., go into the basket on the bottom of the bookshelf and stay there until I can get them sorted into the correct child's memory folder.

The little baskets on the top shelf are repurposed from somewhere that I can't remember. I added leftover metal handles to them. These hold the magnets for the kids' calendar and other various items. If an announcement or reminder has come home from school, then a magnet can be picked out of the basket and added to the kids' calendar.

Next up is homework. Right now, we usually end up at the dining room table for homework time. But occasionally we wind up in the kitchen at the bar area or at a table in the basement rec room. We needed something portable to wrangle on the necessary schoolwork items. I found the right box at Target on clearance last school year, and added a small $1 spot caddy to hold all the small items within the box. Now we can grab the homework box and go wherever we want/need to go in the house. It holds essentials such as pencils, paper, crayons, scissors, glue sticks, practice money, a clock, ruler, flashcards, and much more!

I added a hook on the side of the bookshelf and keep one of my favorite bags there so I can quickly grab it and stuff it with whatever I need for where I may be going--supplies for volunteering at one of the littles' schools, my laptop and cords for writing/editing at the coffee shop, books that need to be returned to the library, etc.

On the other side of this area is the desk. The metal three bin wall hanging was a Home Goods find and was one of the very first things I bought for our house when we first moved in. Bin #1 is for our son, bin #2 is for our daughter, and bin #3 is for me and Mr. Yankee.

The bins hold labeled file folders and hold school info, report cards, health info, important receipts, community association info, etc.

And that's that! So far, everything is going according to plan and staying well organized. Fingers crossed that it stays this way! How about y'all? Do you have a system for catching all the paperwork that comes home with your kids? Where does homework time go down in your home? Do you have a favorite nook in your house?

Kids calendar:

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to The Grind

Back to school, back to the grind.
(Anyone else now have "Back to life, back to reality, back to the here and now...yeah..." in their head? You know you love you some En Vogue!)

I've been MIA lately as I prepped for this school year. For some reason, it seemed to be a lot of work this year! First of all, am I the only one who doesn't remember needing SO many supplies when heading back to the classroom?
What I DO remember is organizing my pencil box. I don't exactly know why I loved that task so very much, but I guess it was a foreshadow of my need to have order to be able to attend the tasks of life.

My son started 2nd grade yesterday. He had a strict requirement that his backpack not sport any "little kid characters" this year. He did, however, pick a minion lunchbox, which made me completely giddy to still see a bit of little boyness still in him.

My daughter will begin preschool tomorrow. She was a bit easier to please as she loves anything pink, purple, sparkly, princessy, etc. Her backpack and lunchbox both lightup. Throw in her lightup Rapunzel sneakers and she's a walking disco!

So here's what up for us/me this school year:
2nd grade, preschool, PTA, room mom, consignment sale committee, yearbook committee, auction committee, book fair committee, baseball, dance, EFF (early faith formation class), freelance editing/writing, home owner's association chairmanship, Yankee Belle Home, home improvements, tracing our ancestry...


My life is so much more normal and balanced with a full load and strict schedule. Summer's been great, but I need the grind.

Next up I'll share how I'm staying organized here at home with a homework station, paperwork bins, and more. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I'd love to hear what you and your family are doing to stay on top of all the paperwork, practices, meetings, etc. that come with this time of year. Share your best organization tip with me!