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Storing Kids Art and Posters

13 May

Kids work really hard at school on their art work ….. and which parent is not proud of their kids’ creations ?!

They create really cool pieces !!


Soon it will be the end of the school year and you will greet your kids on the last, or second last day of the school-year with huge, oversized art works that the teacher decided to keep in her studio UNTILL that last day ! Oh, what to do that day?? No cupboard in the house big enough to simply put away a PILE of art work safely untill the holiday rush is over. Art work is one of those papers you want to keep protected from spills and water and dust and to not get wrinkled…but those pieces usually don’t fit into any sort of filing system I have seen before.

Well – you can frame some of them – like these 2 my son did when he was 6 and I thought it deserved a place on the wall.

His Russian bear – actually a wax medium …and kind of hard to tell from a picture behind glass….

And this was one as an impression of Picasso.

Framing some of their best pieces certainly gives a sense a value and worth to their efforts and does show the child that they can take pride in displaying their work – good enough for your walls. It does not need to be a real Picasso to make it up the wall ! 😉

Or this one my daughter did, same age – also loved it !

Oh, my future artists !!! Mommy is so proud. (and can not afford the real paintings anyway… , but don’t tell !)

So, better back to storing it….let’s  be honest – we don’t have enough walls in the house to frame 15+ years of school art (for each of the 3 kids) that made its’ way into the house.

Yes – it will be lovely and adorable and never-to-throw-away pieces with huge sentimental value of what your little Johnny or your  little Sarah could do when they were ONLY 6 !!!! And it would be a crime to not keep all that creativity somewhere safe.

The solution today – DIY ART FOLDERS. Nothing fancy, but highly functional !!

This can be  a fun, DIY project at home to keep the kids busy (in case you stay home this summer break)…. or maybe they can start doing it now already and you will have it ready when those pieces arrive home !

We did this last summer and I can’t wait to just plop this year’s pieces in there with the rest !!

Putting it together is real simple ! A ribbon glued onto the sides and bookbinding tape to hold the two pieces together at the bottom.

Bookbinding tape on the inside of the boards prevents the papers from falling through at the bottom. You can put the two boards flat next to each other and put the bookbinding tape centred to where they connect  – do it on the inside so your tape doesn’t show…or like in this case, I used black tape, so you don’t even notice at the bottom.

I found that polystyrene board worked best…poster board is obviously too soft and bendy…and hardboard makes it too heavy to carry by the ribbon/ tape or to store up high. The polystyrene is enough protection for the posters/ papers but lightweight at same time.

and VOILA – one done in no time at all !

While I made the folders, the kids started sorting their art, since we had all the way from First Steps to year 6 in one pile.

Not all the art would fit into one folder, so we sorted them into bundles of 3-4 years at a time and made several folders for each child.

Get out the paint, spray paint, stickers… decorate with …..

and let the FUN part start !

Oooh – did I remember to mention that you need a HUGE big sail/ plastic to cover your beautiful wooden floors !…. and their oldest clothes?.

Each child can put their unique identity onto their folders. It becomes part of their ART !

…and while the paint dry, you can use the time to get some cleaning up going…..

I may have to warn you that this is the point where my kids tend to start to wander off and you find them elsewhere… like here…

or when you think you will take a picture of the final product…. you may find that you have misplaced your camera….which was in the room all the time…?? Strange how nobody knew at the time what happened to the camera?

While the kids drifted off, I made a folder for myself too, for some posters I had that I did not want to get damaged and some unframed art that I had to keep safe.

I decorated mine with some wall stickers that I had left over from before.

But mine was definitely not as creative and adorable as the designs some people came up with!

The nice part is that it is part of their creativity and art and will one day be a reminder of what they came up with design-wise. There is no right or wrong.

SInce the folders have hard sides, they can stand on their own…but with the precious decorations on them… I felt like storing them more safely. I bought this bag from IKEA. It is perfect to put all the folders in one place, protected from dust etc and with a handy carry-handle so you can carry all the folders in one go! You can find the bag at your nearest IKEA.

Hope you enjoy making some art folders.

Or do you have some ideas up your sleeve on how to deal with these huge pieces? Let me know how you stored yours?

For some of the pieces that are not so oversized and which did not make it onto the wall, I filed them in showcase A5- files and keep them a little more handy on top of the shelf to enjoy !

Keep creating little ones !!


Blog break

21 Mar

I am taking a little blog break this week.

My kids are off on holidays…most people are still in a rather somber mood for Japan and I want to respect that …and I am taking this time to tackle one of my projects that are long overdue…

Sorting my photos and transferring them off my computer.

I started with 120 000 images in i-photo…

I still have some way to go……

I will be back next week !

Hope to meet you back here then…

Take care


Kids’ School Snacks

11 Mar

Who hates packing school snacks in the morning..trying to decide what to pack when you are still half asleep? Well, I do.

And I am too lazy to do it the night before. One day at a time !

Today, just a tip from my side for those days when you don’t have time to prepare something fresh like a sandwich or fruit.

I buy bulk for items that don’t have expiry dates.

I take a selection of items and re-package them in snack size suitable for my kids.

Putting a personal note takes hardly any extra time…but goes a long way putting a smile in their hearts when they open it at school !

Then I take a few of each kind and  put them together in one box in a drawer. For those mornings we are in a rush…or can’t think straight because it is too early.

Simply pull open the drawer and grab a packet to go. Even when mom not around, kids have easy access to take care of themselves for school snack. Done.

Have a nice day everybody !

Kiddies Go – kids helping clean up

22 Feb

Sometimes I find a lot of things on the floor…


…including my kids….

They tend to leave things ALL over the house ….

and it becomes simply an impossible task to carry each child’s items back to where it belongs.

Kids don’t generally clean up what they throw out or leave behind  – unless you MAKE them do it. Well, mine anyway…

Some claim they are too small, so they go on strike…….

and they may have a point.

But, kids can be helpers in the house too, to keep the house more organised and tidy.

They just need a little help. And something to make it a little more tangible other than just mom’s nagging !

Today I found these at Costco.

Got one in the colour of each child’s room.

I thought they were pretty dandy!

So, what to do with them?

I think they will be pretty handy.

Here’s what I plan to do.

Park them in the room you are busy cleaning up. Throw each kids’ belongings in their own cart and later when they are home…they can have the responsibility to get all the things in their own cart back to where it belong.

You can make them pick up their own toys and fill their own carts..but the problem is they are usually at school when most of the cleaning up happens !

They have wheels, are lightweight and easy carry along so little ones have no excuse ! They are pretty and it perfectly fits the criteria of “form meets function”.

Each child has his/ her own so it is easy to point out who is doing their bit and who not..and consequences/ rewards can be given based on empty/ overloaded carts !!

Find them at Costco

Kiddies Go ! Hooray ! Go Kiddies !!

Crowded House

7 Feb

Ever had the “joy” ?!  of managing a “kitty” for a group of people who all contribute and then share some resources like food or other household goods?

Today’s post is for those who have had the experience of sharing a house for an extended period, or even just a weekend breakaway, with relatives or a close group who had to co-share on food and accommodation. Everybody trying to be polite by what and how much they use…but somebody always feeling on the short end of the stick – a little grumpy that they pay more and eat less (never visa versa)… or an individual feeling he/she has the administrative monster on their shoulder to manage and collect the money should you all contribute and one buys for all???

If you have not done this… there is a very real chance that you might have to do this some time in your future…so, read on…here is my story and my solution which turned the craziness of a crowd and the crippling effect it had on the hostess and her leisure time, into a situation where we have found peace for all !!

I call it the DOT SYSTEM. This is the point where my family – if any of them read my blog, will switch off the computer and turn to the news on TV. They know it by now.

It’s boring – I know.

I don’t care.

I stand by it. Try it. It worked wonders for us. It still works.

This is how it came about:

I am living overseas as an expat. That means going home every year to catch up with family and friends.

We are in the fortunate position to have a holiday house which is unoccupied during the year and therefore available for us and our extended family whenever we pay a home country visit.

We love having the family over since this is the only time we get to spend time together. And they love coming over. And STAYING!

Here are just a few of them in the pool…

We would not have it any other way. But it gets hectic. REAL hectic. When you are at any given point , twenty plus people for 3 meals a day for a period of 3-4 weeks, it means a LOT of grocery shopping, a LOT of eating, a LOT of figuring out who needs to pay what….

As the owners of the house, we were  naturally the “hosts”..but our family are nice enough to know that everybody needs to contribute to the food when they stay for that long a period.

We all pitched in with money and I then bought groceries from the “kitty”. But , besides the fact that I, or any volunteer, crippled themselves with bags from the grocery shop…. it also meant that by the time you got home with the drinks, and twenty people sink into the supplies…an hour later much of it was depleted it became a never-ending re-curring situation of stocking up supplies.

Then came the DOT system. Very simple.

Every family (we are about 4 families staying in one place), buy their own groceries.

In the first instance – that took the load of ONE person to go shop all the time…so immediately the “shopping burden” shifted equally well to each family that is on vacation in stead of a few individuals.

Every family got assigned a pack of cheap dot stickers in a different colour.

As soon as the bags hit the counter, you put a dot on every single item in your assigned color. DONE.

My kids love putting the dots on the items, so this motivates them to help unpacking the groceries when I get home and “blue dot” them before I pack away our families’ supplies. And from that point on, my kids know that they can have ANYTHING in the house, as long as it has a blue dot. Even the little one who can not read names yet, knew to ask only for drinks or candy with blue dots on them.

Sounds simple, right? The trick is that you still want to do something “together”…and you are thinking – how “un” social to buy your own food and drinks when you go on a holiday together. And herein lies the secret…

The menu for each week (end) was planned and put up on public display. This required one morning of detailed planning to write down what we would need for each meal, but then everybody could go shop in their own time, enough for their own family and we still had the joy of sharing our meals together. Say for example – we would plan a BBQ – we would say – BBQ with lamb chops, a green salad, baked potatoes. Then everyone would buy only enough chops for his family, bring 3 potatoes if they are 3 people or 6 potatoes if mom knows everyone in her family eats 2 potatoes, and a few ingredients of your idea of a green salad. We found that we had a lot less waste, as every person had put in exactly how much his/ her family usually eats instead of one person trying to judge everyone’s appetite and then wasting the food in the end.

This system was initially greeted with some scepticism. But after one holiday of succesful implementation, it was cheered by everyone with great accolades !!

What great relief it was when I only had to do grocery shopping for 5 and not 25 people and when I did not have to answer “what can I bring from the shop/ add for dinner……” every time somebody went to town. I could relax about the food…everybody had put their contributions in comes dinner time and no more fuss trying to figure out who owes what on the food bill!! Each family has dedicated shelf space and basically everybody sticks to their own supplies….

There are certain items for which you don’t have space and it is not practical to have 4 of each for example MILK! Nobody wants to make coffee for the group and then have to pour in milk from 4 different containers. Those “shared” products are marked with its own unique dots – see the PINK dot in this picture. These are either sponsored by the host or paid from out of the small group fund.

This system got 10 DOTS in my records !!! And I am sure my family will agree.

Here, somebody liked it so much, they got a little carried away with it all and even “dotted” the sandwiches that were prepared to go on the grill?! Not that you need to go that far!

There are small little details that makes this system a winner and I would be happy to share those should you have any questions.

But I would like to hear if you have ever been faced with a crowded house and your solutions of making it a manageable win-win situation to deal with the food sharing ! Let’s learn from each other.

TIll next time.


Countertop solutions – clutter them

26 Oct

Yes – you read correctly. I said CLUTTER THEM !

Read on and you will see why…..

Today I want to kick off with a series of posts I will do on a same subject – not in sequence, but just randomly posted as and when another idea  pops up in my head about the same subject – so keep following if  it is up your alley…

I will cover various subject matters, but I will  post them in little digestible posts so that you can keep up with the thoughts I have on these.

The first category is COUNTERTOPS.

When de-cluttering your home, people immediately think there must be NOTHING on a certain countertop to ensure that it remains clutter-free, neat and tidy!

That might be true for certain countertops, and I will post about that another day.

But sometimes the best thing you can do to keep an area from becoming a space where everyone puts down all their belongings as they enter the house and before you know it, it has become the permanent habitat for items who just DON’T have its’ own space, or people become just too lazy to move it to its’ designated spot in the house , is to CLUTTER it yourself with beautiful or interesting things!

What do I mean by this?

I have this beautiful altar table. It is situated at the top of one staircase and the bottom of another…. and it is standing right where you enter into the kitchen.

An ideal place for those who just came up from the front door, to put down whatever they had in their hands.

An ideal place to put things for those who are too lazy to go upstairs and put it in their rooms immediately.

An ideal place  to put down an empty cup or a magazine someone was busy reading and want to “park” it there while going into the kitchen. Just to forget about it and never returning to it..meaning it became “part of the furniture !”.

The scenarios are endless. The reality is, it can easily become a sore eye – right in everyone’s view that enters the house, whilst I want it to remain a beautiful piece of furniture that attracts the eye and attention of people to enjoy it as much as I do.

The solution- I have put so many items on there myself, that in 99% of the cases, nobody ever takes the time or effort to move an object from its permanent place, to make space to put down an item of temporary stay. Occasionally my husband’s blackberry find its’ way on there, but it is hardly noticeable between the lovely collection of hats and brushes that I have decided to display on there.

This works wonders !!!!

When at first, it was only the black vase on there, it was a constant “clean-me-up” space crying to be rescued from all the unsightly items on there.

Now – it stays this way – ALL THE TIME !

People walk in and ask me – how does everything stay so cleaned up in the house?

The difference is not in having a clean countertop or surface or table top all the time…but in the detail of what it is that is occupying that space making all the difference of it looking like a delightful display of things you collect or love or wish to share with others….versus the pitiful pile that sneaked in on there when you were not looking !

Let me know your thoughts on this..have you had this happening in your house? I would love to hear about your countertop dilemmas and how, or if, you have found solutions for them !

What things in your house can you get out of the cupboards and put on top of an open space to stop attracting items unworthy of being on display?

Would love to hear from you.

Look out for some more posts on countertops to come…. since you do need those that needs to stay clean !!!!

Take care


Organizing your business cards

17 Oct

After the busy-ness from the birthday, the neighborhood luncheon and the farewell I hosted for my friend, I got round to some admin while I still have an empty diary for the coming week! This has not happened in a long while..?!

So I got round to the business of business cards! And in putting away some of the ones I recently collected, I decided to share with you how I store mine.

It can get a little crazy and overwhelming, right?

If you live in the country I do, every single person has a business card and hands you one…even stay-home moms !!

Yes – that’s how we meet and greet – because the names and spellings of the areas and streets we live on are simply not something that comes back easily to memory unless in writing !

I have tried the traditional method of painstakingly filing away my cards, but then when I take them out to take with me somewhere or simply to go make a call  ..I have to go “re-do” the filing which I never do, so they start lying around everywhere again. The other problem is that I run out of space and then the next category starts already and I have to RE-DO the filing all over. So, for me this method was simply…

I came up with a TWO-FOLD method that does actually work for me !

First of all  I take TWO of each card that I collect – yes, generally people don’t mind handing out two – they always think you are going to give it to a friend..which gives them double exposure and double pleasure handing them out !!

Card number 1 goes into a very “easy-going” box. I have some categories –  by colour for example to know where to start flipping through when I am in a hurry and need to grab the card to make a call or go look on the internet from there. When done – I just throw it back in. No big hassle, just anywhere in that little “folder” inside the box. No – I don’t file them alphabetically or anything, but you can if that makes you happy. In a foreign country, I can’t always re-call the names, so alphabetically gets pretty challenging but I just throw it in “restaurants” or “markets”. The little box takes tons of cards – way more than any plastic folder.

Card nr 2 goes into a book that I specially bought for this purpose.

Why have 2 systems? Well – this part of the system stays “off-site” …meaning IN THE CAR.

So often I found that I am in the middle of a day out and suddenly decide to go to “that great place for lunch”….or that place where you can find the “special fabric”….and then…bang…the card is at home in the “box” and I don’t know how to get there, call for a reservation and yes…having that card – suddenly lost all its value !

This part of the system was actually inspired by a good friend of mine. She had a book and had stuck the cards in with some cellotape as soon as she collected them.

I love doing it with funky tape so that it just adds more personality to the whole experience ! I bought this book in Beijing and started indexing it, but it is not done yet.

For this purpose I also like to use this type of book – all pages attached like a concertina – because it makes it easier to “flip” between pages….and there is no wasted space next to each business card…makes it all the more easy to stick into the side panel of your car’s door.

The book goes with you everywhere. Keep a sticky tape handy as well, so you can stick it in as soon as you get in the car from that lunch.

When you are an expat in a really foreign country like Asia, you generally have a driver and doing some admin in the back of the car is a really easy way to stay on top of things while someone else does the driving.

When you collect the card, paste it into the book in such a way that it can flip over. This way you can see both sides…but the great thing is that you can then make your little notes directly under the card.  Again – in a foreign country it is sometimes very difficult to recall whose card it was and why you got it in the first place. So, writing down immediately helps. Or you have been to a lunch with a bunch of new people and you might want to make a special note about the persons who handed the cards….it might save you the embarrassment of next time meeting them and forgetting who was who?!

Sometimes I have to write – this is that guy who had the blue print fabric..or the really friendly guy in the fabric market (which has 23000 vendors in one building !!! – yes, that’s true !)…or I write – the place where they serve special lunches and I went there with so and so…or some easy directions I followed to get there to remember next time..when the address on the card is simply not enough.

Believe me – when I take the card I ALWAYS think I will remember…and then I never remember when I look at it 6 months later and somebody asks – who was the guy who had the fabric for outdoor sofas??!!

Again – I made some tabs for RESTAURANTS, SHOPS, MEDICAL  and so forth.

But I am very happy with the “self-made” directory that I created as it serves its’ is more pretty than the black leather one I bought because you can have fun creating your own book with business cards…use fun sticky tape…make quirky notes…and voila ! It feels more personal, it is more fun, it is your own and it keeps you connected !

You will be ready to stay in touch at the flip of a card, or is that page…. while on the go !!

Well – that’s my deal on business cards and so far so good for me on this system.

How do you store your business cards? Any other great ideas out there? Are there any of these 3 systems that you prefer?

Take care


Storing Make Up Brushes

6 Oct

Recently I saw a great post in a series on organizing tips. It is from a super dooper blog called Deliciously Organized. Really worth checking out !

This tip was for Storing Make Up Brushes by adding sand to the container to make them stand up !

via Deliciously Organized: Storing Various Sizes of Makeup Brushes.

It immediately caught my eye as it reminded me a lot of my own brush collection on my countertop.

And I could relate to the problem they were describing – having them all on top of each other !

I loved the idea and tonight was the night I decided to take a little inspiration from them…..

So, I pulled the brushes aside…..Had a good look at them – mmmm….OVERCROWDED for sure !

But before I pulled over the sand… I thought of adding a little twist to it!

Instead of SAND, I added AROMATIC BATH ROCKS !!

Not only are my brushes now all standing up,  ready for action … it also smells delicious right under my nose while I do my make – up!

And the whole tray is now much happier…..

Thank you Deliciously Organized for the great tip !!!

Do you have great tips for organizing make-up?

Organizing jewelry

4 Oct

If you are anything like me, you love to accessorize ! Yes – keep me away from MONSOON .

And when you are in a hurry to put on your jewelry…. you just want to grab and run ! But then you find yourself fighting a tangled chain, 50 necklaces on the same hook that needs to be removed to get THE one…and all the frustrations you are too familiar with.

I have LOADS of   jewelry  and today I take you into my closet to show you how I organize my rings and things !

It is a very inexpensive system which I will describe at the bottom of the post and yet I have found it to be EXTREMELY efficient.

I have put it in use many years ago and it has never failed me.

Yes – it is exactly what it seems to be…

PLASTIC DRAWERS that men usually use in the garage for their screws and small bits. Bought at a hardware store many moons ago so they are very durable ladies !!

It is small enough so you can use it for 1 item only or you can cluster items together for eg, all hanging earrings in one. You will be amazed how many sets can fit into one small drawer.

There are certain items that still needs special treatment because of  the structure of the necklace and for those items I use the all-too-familiar free hanging stand.

I love this stand, but I really like the fact that I dont have all 50- necklaces hanging on the same one..only a selected few. That way I can enjoy the beautiful piece without overloading it.

I do agree that there are sometimes jewelry boxes you simply can’t resist ! Buy them ! They work great for those  bangles that dont fit into the tiny drawers.

I bought these beautiful lacquer boxes at Izmaelova Market in Russia.

In Korea you can also find these very traditional lacquer boxes and a dear friend of mine  gave me this one for my birthday last year.

Since my jewelry are all in the drawer system, I use this one for my evening/ formal wear hair-accessories .

Although I love the boxes for some special items, I generally  like to keep my jewelry easily accessible and a felt drawer you buy loose at IKEA to be inserted in any drawer works perfectly for those bangles that need to be handy and all in one eye’s view.

The above is how I store my jewelry collection and it is a very practical one that works for me.

Everyday jewelry (my basic set) goes in a separate system. See, it doesnt matter how many “systems” you have – as long as they work !

Those items I dont want to go put in a drawer  every time I take a shower or go to bed simply to put them on in the morning again…so I have a little mirror box  (it was a gift from my sister – it contained bath salt originally ! – Keep those containers – will blog about it one day !! So keep watching this blog) .

This tray stands right by the entrance to my bathroom. Just before I walk in, I slip the daily jewelry off and put them in there – wedding bands on the ringstand and earrings or necklaces in the mirror box. When my shower is done and all make up finished…hands nice and clean with lotion on…. off course…the jewelry comes next as i walk out of there after my shower.  (Tip – I have placed the daily vitamins right there with my jewelry to serve as a reminder to take them same time I put on my jewelry for the day !)

If you want to put your own drawer system together:

1. Buy ANY plastic storage container system at your nearest hardware store – for screws, for fishing supplies or at a haberdashery shop for sewing supplies.

2. For jewelry that can scratch or for those drawers where I combine groups for eg earrings – and I dont want them to roll around, I have inserted a little sponge so they lie still and dont get on top of each other

3. It is best to get a system where you get some idea of what is inside – the plastic is usually sort of  a see-thru so you can identify the items vaguely.But when I had more time one day in the summer, I took photos of each item, printed one contact sheet with the tiny thumbnails and glued them to the front, so my helper also knows where to put things back when I dont have the time to do so or she finds a piece lying around in the house! If you are short on time – don’t worry about the photos…from repetition you remember where things go – so, who needs mindgames to keep your brain active? Just play “remember where”…with your jewelry !!! Trust me – have done it for years without photos. Especially if you dedicate a block of drawers to a certain item  – for eg, rings, armbands, necklaces etc.

4. These ones you buy in small boxes containing 16 drawers each. The different sets can interlock, so they won’t slide when you attach them together, and the wonderful thing is that you can keep on expanding your system as your collection grows !

This works for me ! Will it work for you ? Have you invented your own system that works for you?

Take care


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