Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Small Updates in the Office

So I'm back today with another little update on the office.  We're still trying to figure out the furniture layout in most rooms, so we're currently pretty much in the stage of moving things around until something clicks.  As far as the office goes, we were still trying to figure out what to put next to Melissa's desk and under the window.  We had originally thought about getting some sort of additional surface or storage to put along the bottom of the window, but that just isn't in the budget at this point.

So we are pretty much working with what we have at this point.  We decided to slide Melissa's bookcase over into that little corner to see how we liked it.  And so far, I think things will stay this way for a while.  It fills up the space nicely, so it's not a dark, empty corner waiting to be filled with clutter.

We're still trying to figure out what exactly to do with the printer, since now it just kind of blocks the path to the bookcase.  We're not sure where it will end up, but it definitely will not be staying where it is for the long haul.  We've been thinking about trying to move it into one of the closets once we get them all furnished and set up.  The only problem with that plan is figuring out how to keep it plugged in, since there are no outlets inside the closet.  Boo.

Before we moved the bookshelf to its new home, it was living in Melissa's closet.  But we have since come up with some majorly awesome long term closet plans that we want to start preparing for.  That involved getting the bookcase out of the closet, and into another spot in the room.  So this little move really killed two birds.  We're again not sure if this will last forever, or if we'll replace the bookcase with something else down the line, but for now, it works perfectly.

We also took this mini-update opportunity to finally put some holes in our walls and get a couple things hung up.  Melissa picked up this whiteboard calendar for above her desk way back when we lived in the old place.  She got it in anticipation of having an office in the new apartment, and we finally got to get it up on the wall and get some function going on.

We also picked up this shelf on a recent trip to IKEA.  We really liked the mix of the modern metallic brackets holding the semi-floating white shelf.  The white of the shelf matches the drawers of Melissa's desk, while the metallic finish brings in some of the more modern, masculine feeling that Melissa is going for with her side of the office.

And she is super thrilled to finally have a place to get some of her decorative items up off her work space.  One of the things Melissa was most excited about with our new apartment was having her own space in the office to put all her boat and map paraphernalia.  She still has lots more, but she's happy to have at least some of it out and displayed.

We have been playing around with getting a few more of those shelves, and staggering them up the wall to the ceiling.  This mostly depends on if Melissa's ends up needing more storage above her desk.  These brackets were definitely not the easiest to install, and didn't even come with screws the attach them to the wall (what the heck IKEA?), so we definitely don't want to jump into adding more shelves if we don't need to.  I think it could look really cool though, having a wall of floating shelves.

So with those few minor updates, Melissa has a completely updated and more functional office space.  I love the direction this room is taking, and as always, am so excited to see where it ends up!  You can see my side of the office and the rest of our progress here.

Have you been tackling any mini-updates recently?  Who else thinks a wall of floating shelves could be totally awesome?  And I am always taking suggestions, so let me know what you think could make this room even better in the comments!

Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Organize Digital Pictures

Hi guys!  I wanted to share with you a quick little tutorial today about how I organize my digital pictures.  I got the idea to share this post when my girlfriend asked me for suggestions on organizing her picture files.  When I took a look at the 'system' she had in place, I was just honestly shocked.  There were pictures everywhere, in random folders, in no particular order.  It was complete chaos.

Before this, I had really thought that having a system for organizing digital photos was something that everyone just knew how to do and did with no problem.  I have never had a problem sorting and labeling and ordering all my digital pictures, so I didn't think anyone else did.  Boy did Melissa prove me wrong.  So I thought if this was an area my own girlfriend struggled with so much, there had to be other people out there who could use similar help and motivation to dive in and find some order in their folders of chaos.

I have utilized this system in one way or another since I got my very first digital camera, and works perfectly for what I need it to do.  I have grand plans of one day switching to a higher tech photo organization program, so I can supercharge my organization system by tagging every person, place and event in every picture, but that is a post for another day!  My current system has definitely stood the test of time, so I hope a few of you can get some inspiration to clear out the digital clutter and get your pictures organized!

I have a PC, but this system is simple and versatile enough to be utilized on any operating system!  First thing I do is open up my Pictures Library, which can be accessed from your Libraries folder.  This is just the basic photo organization software that came with my computer.

Once I'm in my Pictures Library, I created a folder labeled "My Pictures".  This is the folder that every single picture that comes into my possession get dumped into.  My phone, my camera, Melissa's camera, anything my parents send me, all gets uploaded straight into this file.  These are the original copies of every digital photo I possess.

Inside the "My Pictures" folder, I have created additional folders for every single year all the way back to when I got my first digital camera.  Once uploaded, every picture gets dumped into the year that the pictures were taken.  So every time I moved pictures from say, my iPhone onto my computer, the pictures go straight into the 2014 folder.

Inside each year folder are twelve folders for each month of the year.  After I drop my newly uploaded pictures into the appropriate year folder, I then drag them into the folder for the month in which the pictures were taken.

I also decided to add the number of the month in front of each month's name.  This way the folders are automatically sorted in the order that they occur throughout the year, as opposed to alphabetically.  This make it much quicker and easier to find the folder I'm looking for.

Inside each month is the final 'resting place' for each picture as it comes off my cameras.  Every single picture taken in a single month of a specific year is stored in this folder.  I sort the pictures inside each folder using the "arrange by: day" option in the upper right hand corner.  This way I can easily scroll through an entire month of pictures in chronological order.  I sort of wish it would sort with the beginning of the month at the top, but oh well, what can you do?

I used to further divide down the pictures by having separate folders for each day inside the month folders.  I found this was way overkill, and was more of a pain to open up 17 different folders full of like 5 pictures each to find the single picture I was looking for.  So I simplified and now have them all on display when I open up each month's folder.  A little more scrolling, a lot less clicking into and out of millions of folders (especially if you don't know exactly which month the picture you're looking for occurred in).

Like I said, I have used this system for years, and have updated and adapted it overtime so it perfectly fits my needs.  It is organized, orderly, and most important easy to keep up with.  I just make sure to drag and drop any new photos as they are uploaded into the current year and month folders, and BAM!  Organized.  No difficult thinking involved, just done.

While I was helping Melissa sort through her jungle of digital photos, she brought up the option of organizing categorically, i.e. labeling folders with the event or activity that the pictures capture.  This may mean having folders such as 'day at the park', 'lunch date with Mom', etc.

I personally believe that chronological ordering is a better system to maintain.  There is no need to sort through any pictures as you upload them, simply drag and drop.  Categorical organizing also brings up the problem of random no-event pictures.  Say you took a picture of your dog doing something cute.  Nothing special, just a cute snapshot.  Do you create a new folder for that single picture, or do you just let that picture float un-foldered?  Chronological organizing is concrete, you will always know exactly where to put a picture, because each picture has a definitive date.

One exception to this would be the option of combining the two methods.  In this scenario, you would first follow all the steps I outlined above.  Then, once all your pictures are in their respective month's folders, you could add additional folders inside the month for different events.  So the order would go year > month > event.  That way, you could have your pictures easily divided up categorically for reference, and you could also still have those 'no-event' pictures contained within the appropriate month and year folders.  This combination method would be a good idea for big events with lots of pictures, like Christmas, so one event doesn't dominate your entire month folder, making it a never ending scrolling nightmare.

Like I said, these are just my humble opinions on the subject, and what has worked for me.  All that matters is in the end, you have a system in place that allows you to store and organize your pictures so you can enjoy them later!  I hope this little mini tutorial helped, and happy organizing!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dining Room Progress and Plans for the Future

Hi guys!  So it's time to take a peak at the progress I've made in another room of the apartment.  If you're new here, I'm recently moved into a new apartment, and there is a lot to be done.  So what I'm currently doing is going through each room, one at a time, and listing out what needs to get done in there.

After I've made a list for each room, I will then have one massive master to-do list for the whole apartment.  I thrive off of a good to-do list, so I hope this approach will make it easier to tackle the seemingly endless list of things I need to do to turn my apartment into a place I love.

The last time you saw my dining room, it was 50 days after I had moved in, and it looked something like this:

Pretty much a disaster zone.  During the move in process, the dining room turned into one of many 'dumping zones' for things that hadn't found a home yet.  As time went on, we slowly sorted through a bunch of the junk in there and found a place for it.  So up until yesterday things were looking more like this:

It was a million times better, but still wasn't quite there.  There were still a couple mini-dumping zones left that I needed to take care of.  One being this cute little island I bought when I moved into my very first apartment.  It was basically full of junk that we didn't really use, so it just got forgotten about.  And then it just kind of became normal having a bunch of crap sitting on that table, so it stayed like this.  It was like my own in-plain-sight junk drawer.

I also wasn't loving the spot the island ended up in.  It was basically blocking half the doorway between the dining and living rooms, making what should be a large space feel pretty cramped and closed off.

The far right corner was another tiny dumping zone.  It was basically a bunch of dog paraphernalia and a bag full of shopping bags... cos ya know, you never know when you'll need a paper bag... and I can't throw things away...

The other side of the room wasn't looking so hot either.  I really wanted to put something under that window, to really take advantage of it.  I also felt like that china cabinet was just teetering all on its own over there, looking really tall and lonely.  So I also wanted a shorter, longer piece of furniture to kind of balance it out.

Then there was this corner of loveliness.  We basically have been stalling on putting anything up on the walls in this place.  Since everything is still getting settled in, and we're still figuring out furniture placements, we don't want to make any holes in the wall that we'll later regret.  So we have all our wall hangings in various groupings kind of just hanging out, waiting to be hung.  This corner seriously bothered me.

I also wasn't digging the layout of the dining room.  It is a decent sized room, but the way we had originally placed the furniture when we moved in just wasn't working.  It was really hard to get around the table on all sides, and the whole room just felt cramped and disorganized.

So yesterday I got a crazy hair, and while Melissa was at work decided to just tackle the dining room.  Even though the room was much better since the last time I shared it, I just couldn't live with myself sharing that we still had random piles of junk in here, without doing something about it.  So after about an hour of sorting, purging and rearranging, here is our dining room, as it stands right now.

First thing I did was to clear out all my clutter zones.  This includes all the stuff that was piled on the island, as well as in the corners.  Everything got sorted and either tossed or put away where it belonged.  Pretty much everything that will eventually be hung on walls is now sitting under my bed... please don't judge me.  Simply removing everything that didn't actually belong in the dining room immediately cleared up so much space, and gave me a semi-blank slate to work with.

I knew I wanted to move the island from it's original position.  I decided to slide it over under the window to see how it would work there.    This also allowed me to move the table out into the room a little more.  Before, we had to have it closer to the far wall so we could walk between the table and island.  With those two quick changes, I had a brand new furniture layout, and a ton more space.

I'm not 100% sold that this is the final layout for the dining room, but it is definitely an upgrade from what we were living with before.  There is a ton more walking space around the room, and it just feels a million times more open.

I'm also just so not thrilled with the mixed of finishes in this room.  Between the three pieces of furniture we have painted white wood, a light wood and a dark red wood.  This makes the OCD part of me just itch for some matching, or at least coordinating, furniture.  We have been planning on painting and recovering the table and chairs for quite some time now, just have to settle on our exact plans for it before diving in.

I'm also really dying to add some textiles into this space.  This room seems so stark and flat at the moment.  Of course, we need to add curtains in here too (all four of our windows in this place are still naked as a jaybird).  I also want to get a table clothe for the table.  I've been keeping my eye out for one for over a year, but still haven't fallen in love yet.

We're also left with a whooooole bunch of empty wall space in this room.  At this point, I am just drawing a blank on what to do with them.  Obviously some art with be added somewhere, just don't know what or where yet.  Especially since I'm not sure if the furniture layout will stick around the way it is, we'll probably hold off on wall decor until we figure out the bones of the room.

I have also been dying for a coffee/bar cart since we moved into this place.  So I'm playing with the idea of dispersing the dog supplies to a new home, trashing/repurposing the green caddy elsewhere, and finding a thrifted bar cart to stick in that corner.

So that is where I am with the dining room.  This room has definitely been the hardest to really form a plan for.  Everything just feels so up in the air, and nothing feels like 'aha that's it!'.  So I'm really interested to see how this room evolves and where it ends up.  Until then, here is my current dining room to-do list to start tackling:

  • finalize the furniture layout
  • bring in textiles (curtains, table clothe, recover chairs)
  • paint wood parts of table and chairs (the idea of a black table and white chairs has stuck with me, but I've been to scared to really pull the trigger on that one just yet)
  • add bar cart/coffee station
  • add art to the walls

What do you guys think?  Anyone have any suggestions for what to do with this room?  Do you ever just get stuck on a space, and have no idea where you'll end up?  I'm hoping this is one of those "it'll just hit me in the head one day and I'll know exactly what to do" situations.  Until then I'm planning to just make small improvements one at a time until something clicks!

Friday, August 8, 2014

#30Lists: Days 1 - 5

Happy Friday everyone!  To celebrate the impending weekend, I wanted to share a new project I've been working on recently.  It's called 30 Days of Lists and it is absolutely freaking awesome.

As an organizer at heart, lists just speak to me.  To-do lists, wishlists, planning lists, shopping lists... you name it, I'll write it.  And so when I found out there was an entire project made for list lovers like myself?  I was just over the moon.  And so I took this opportunity to combine two of my loves (lists and paper crafting) and make my very first mini album!

For those who follow me on Instagram, you've already gotten peaks at a bunch of the layouts I've made for this project so far.  So I thought I'd take this opportunity to dig a little deeper into each page and lay out what went into making each of my lists.

First thing first, I had to make a title page.  I have never made a mini album before, and honestly blank sheets of white paper just scare me, so I took inspiration from this picture to get the ball rolling for myself.  I decided on a black, white and pink color scheme for this album, to make things fun and cohesive as you flip through my lists.

First thing I did was layer some washi tape across the blank page, cutting the ends of each strip of washi into a pennant edge.  I alternated pink and gold washi, with varying patterns of pink.  I then added a half circle label to back my date stickers.  I finished things off with my "30 Days of Lists" title in both white thickers and my DIY alphas.  Once I got the ball rolling, it really was super easy, I just hate that intimidating blank page you have to start with!

The prompt for day one was to list a few things about myself.  I knew I wanted to use that black and gold shipping tag, so I kind of planned the rest of the layout around that.  I printed out some more DIY alphas to write out the prompt title, and used a small square label to back the #1 (since it was day one...).

The next thing I had to incorporate was my actual list.  Turns out I didn't leave myself a ton of room to work this part in (oops) so it took me a little bit to figure out what I was going to do.  I finally settled on cutting out some pink circles, which would each end up holding two bullets from my list.  I staggered the pink circles down the right side of the page, letting each one fall off the page a little to give myself more room to work with, and wrote in my list.  The circles still seemed a bit bare to me, so I took a gold marker and drew a dotted border around the inside of each circle to finish it off.

Day 1: A Few Things About Myself

  • This is my first 30 lists
  • My 2 girls are my entire world
  • I am so in love with our new apartment
  • I adore being creative and creating
  • I'm a bit of a stuff hoarder
  • I love anything that has been miniaturized

Ok on to day two.  I really liked the prompt of "things I'm good at" because I am definitely my own worst critic, and don't give myself nearly enough credit for my personal strengths.  So this layout was my crafty version of a pat on the back to myself.

To make this page, I started with the idea that I knew I wanted to stamp numbers down the page to make my list.  I find this technique works really well for me.  I find the one thing I know I want to do, then plan around it and go from there.  I also really wanted to alternate colors, and since I don't have any gold ink (boo) I settled on black and pink.

So once I knew I'd be stamping the numbers, I had to find a way to write in my prompt title and incorporate some gold.  I landed on sticking a label across the top, writing the prompt in gold ink, and embellishing with the 'be wonderful' chipboard banner from a Project Life Studio Calico kit.  I finished off this layout by adding in matching big and little gray striped stars, and plopping a pink enamel dot in the center of each.  Then I finished my layout, and realized I didn't leave any room for the day number *smacks forehead*.  So I just wrote it up the side of the page on the left in a scripty font and called it done.

Day 2: Things I'm Good At

  • Being Mom to my munchkin
  • Planning and organizing
  • Keeping records
  • Collecting all the things
  • Papercrafting & drawing

Day three's prompt was "I am looking forward to...".  I took this prompt as an opportunity to really stretch into the future, and record some of the things I plan to accomplish in my life.  A lot of my goals are pretty run of the mill, but it was really fun to get them down on paper, kind of makes it official!

I started this page with the idea that I wanted my list items to each be written onto a cloud.  Since these are my dreams in life, I thought it was fitting, if not a little cliche.  So I jumped onto my Silhouette Studio software, and whipped up some cute thought bubble clouds to cut out on some gold and cream striped paper.  Once the clouds were cut out, I wrote a goal onto each and scattered them around the border of the page.

The net thing I had to figure out was how to include the prompt title.  I settled on stamping the title onto a light pink label, and slapping it in the middle of my clouds.  I then added in the little dots leading from the title to each cloud, and let me tell you, those teeny tiny circles were a real b**** to get on the page... will not be doing that again.  I finished things off with some gold rub-on stars, two tiny 3D crystal stars, and the day number three backed by some gold washi.  Boom.

Day 3: I Am Looking Forward To...

  • Getting married
  • Buying a house
  • Having a baby
  • Running my own business
  • Making new friends

The prompt for day four was "today's playlist", or how I saw it "songs that I will blast in the car when they come on the radio".  My alternate title was too long to fit on the page, so I just went with the original ;).

My starting point for this page was using tiny music notes as the bullets for my list.  I cut the notes out using my Silhouette, then staggered them down the left of the page.  I used some DIY alphas to spell out the title, then outlined the words with my gold marker.  Finally I added a gold chipboard heart embellishment to give the page a little dimension.

I wasn't really feeling this page from the beginning, so rather than force it and waste materials, I just decided to let it be what it was.  Which was pretty simple.  After all, the whole project was about writing lists, and my page accomplished that, so I consider it a win in my book.

Day 4: Today's Playlist

  • Rude by Magic!
  • Turn Down for What by DJ Snake & Lil' John
  • Shower by Becky G
  • This Is How We Roll by Florida Georgia Line
  • Wiggle by Jason Derulo

And the last page I have to share with you today is day five, which was prompted 'weekend goals'.  I knew I wanted to do a more condensed list, with check boxes as the bullets just like I use for my regular to-do lists.

First thing I added to the page was a piece of gold doily to back my title.  I then added in the title on top, using my DIY alphas.  I was originally going to use all pink letters for the title, but I was too lazy to cut out more once I realized I was all out of a few letters, so I just mixed in some from a different font.  I kind of like the miss-matched look it has going on.

I wrote in my list for the day, and gave myself a gold check mark for each.  Hopefully this will motivate me to actually check off these goals this weekend!  Finally, I added in the day 5 at the bottom, with the same letters I used for parts of my title.

Day 5: Weekend Goals

  • Spend time with my two girls
  • Finish PL week 7 spread
  • Hang something on the walls
  • Make memories & take pictures
  • Lots of blog stuff

And that finishes up the first five days of my 30 Days of Lists project!  I am having so much fun making a new tiny page each day, and love that I will have this mini album in the future to describe what my life is like right now.

If you'd like to start your own 30 lists, you can get a complete list of the prompts I'm following here or you can choose from the other past sets of prompts here.  I can't wait to complete all of them!  There is also a new set of prompts released every six months, the next of which will begin in September, so it's a perfect time to jump on this awesome bandwagon!  If you do decide to follow along, make sure to tag your spreads with #30lists on social media so we can all see what you create!

This post is not sponsored by, or affiliated with, the ingenious women behind 30 Days of Lists.  I'm just a huge fan who loves a good list!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Label Me Organized on Pretty Well Organized

Bonus post!  As if my little Etsy-related announcement from this morning wasn't exciting enough, I have some more fabulous news to share!  Starting today, I will be contributing over at Pretty Well Organized for the sweet and talented Wendy!  Wendy is a fellow planner lover, and also shares her mad organizational skills throughout her beautiful home.  I am so giddy excited about this new venture and to be working with such an awesome blogger.

During my time over there, I'll be sharing all things planner related.  I know you all love a good planner as much as I do, so I'll be sure to share with you whenever a post of mine is published on Pretty Well Organized.  Today I'm talking all about basic planner setup.  You can read all about my recommended steps for putting together your first (or fifth... no one's judging here) planner right here.  Make sure you leave Wendy some love while you're over there and check out the rest of her amazing blog!