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Friday, September 3, 2010

on toys and other domestic goodness

So far Operation G.S.O. is going well.

I have had all kinds of domesticity going on lately. Canning? Check. Sorting kids clothes? Check. Drying herbs? Check. Basil/olive oil cubes? Check.

(re that last one. Take fresh basil. Blend with olive oil and a little water. Stick in ice cube tray. Freeze. Store in ziplock bag. Pop one out for soups, pasta sauces, etc. as needed. YUM)

To kick off this effort I have rearranged the furniture in my living room (thanks Cari for the inspiration and help!) Now my whole house feels fresh and pretty.

My God. Such a June thing huh? To get excited about rearranging the furniture?

I get it from my mother. Grumpy about the something? Rearrange the furniture. Cabin fever? Rearrange the furniture. Need a new couch but don’t have the cash? Rearrange the furniture.

And yet, seriously I am in LOVE with my living room.

Mainly this is because I also sorted toys in the process and now all the pretty toys are back in the living room area, all bright and neat.

Yes, I color-coordinated the toys in the living room.

What of it?

Are you laughing at me Stacy? I know you are. (My older sister folks, who thinks I am slightly ridiculous in this regard. Ok. I am slightly ridiculous. Whatever.)

If I have to sit and look at these toys in the morning drinking my coffee I want them to look nice. You know?

I have all kinds of toys in my house but I am drawn to the Waldorf-type toys (see my etsy buttons on the left) and we do try to limit flashy light-plastic-noisemaking type toys. But, the reality is that kids get bigger and want things like say, the Ironman action figure or the plastic tub FULL of Rescue Heroes in my downstairs family room (complete with plastic towering “Rescue Center” with lights and sirens. Lovely.) And as the kids get big and enforce these opinions somehow your alternative preference of felted gnome family and wooden gnome hut (complete with moss roof) is not as exciting.

One can however rotate and choose to display things in a way that encourages creative play. For example: in my downstairs family room we had a bin full of toys including a set of plastic farm animals, tractors, and a little barn. The kids never played with it UNTIL last week when I pulled it out, set it up on the shelf and now they get it down all the time to play farm.

So, those are my thoughts on toys.

Now, back to my living room.

Re storage for toys.

I wanted those cool square shelves from Ikea. Instead I took two old wooden wine boxes and attached a long white board to the top with screws. (Oh my goodness, little man was so freaking excited when I brought the drill up. He made me call dada to make sure it was okay with him to use his tool. Wow mom. WOW.) The result was a low shelf, perfect for displaying pretty toys.

So, this is what I have out right now.

babydear hanging out in the sunshine
Top shelf:
Large red box with dress up clothes (little man is SO into this right now)
Small red box with nice wooden train set
Brightly painted wooden stacking toy
Brightly colored tin spinning top (okay, they hardly ever play with this but…it is pretty and goes with the color scheme. Stop laughing Stacy.)
Nested stacking cubes (with vintage pictures, lettering and numbers on them)
One rubber triceratops
Red basket with odds and ends including hand puppets, small balls (for ROLLING ONLY), a handful of Matchbox cars, etc

Bottom shelf:
Wooden crate of musical instruments
Plastic front loader truck (ugly but they love it)
Barrel of Duplos (our number one used toy, and I really do love them. Big enough for babydear to stack into a “ROCK-et,” encourages creative play, and all that good stuff)
Plastic bus (yes, with flashy lights. It also plays “the wheels on the bus go round” ACK. However it has an on/off switch and I sometimes sneak it to off and they don’t notice the difference)
Plastic camper van with tiny Elmo and Cookie Monster figures (the kids LOVE this toy)
Wooden ball-drop toy
Wooden clacker push-toy

Around the room we have child-sized rocking chairs for each, kid books on the lowest shelf of the adult bookcase, and a rocking crib full of babies.

We also have playsilks for each kid from this company. Playsilks are great. They can be capes (little man’s favorite) or parachutes or scarves or baby doll blankets.

We have old couches and chairs. Stained (for those of you coming to me from facebook you may remember the “x-marks-the-spot” marker incident of a few months ago) I don’t plan on getting new ones until the kids are…well, not for awhile.

I also have taken to weekly fresh bouquets of flowers. Bright dahlias and sunflowers. Each bunch costs all of $5 at the local farmers market and well, a bunch of flowers really brightens a room, doesn’t it? And yes, they kind of do match the toys too.

Like I said I have limited knick-knacks out. I think I might rotate them soon though. Maybe even some pictures. I also have no rugs on the floors right now. One, its easier to sweep and two, babydear will be pottytraining soon and it is MUCH easier to wipe up accidents from the wood floor than scrubbing it off a rug.

I think I love how homey and nice my little house feels because, well, it is so very little. We downsized drastically a year ago in an attempt to reign in debt (love you Sallie Mae!) so making my little house efficient and organized is ESSENTIAL, especially once winter sets in.

So. That is it. And really, it’s a pleasant, comfortable room. I just put on the water. Want to come over for a mug of hot chocolate?

follow babydear pushing her cart to show you how small it is in here...
apologies for the crap picture. yes, i take all of our photos and those for this blog
on my blackberry phone. rather pathetic huh?
yes that is our eating area, behind the rocking chair.
a coat rack and shoe shelves along the wall add storage space
an ikea island adds storage.
otherwise we have all of one square foot of counter space.
not joking. i would show you the sink but it is
full of dirty dishes. :)
Next up: Woolies, I am delaying this post because I want to include pictures so I need to go and find a great girly-colored sweater to make a pair for babydear. Hopefully this weekend. Then after that more diapering how-to’s. Happy fall all!


  1. More pictures please? We recently moved and I am at a complete loss as to how to make our small space (830 sq ft urban apartment) work for our family of 3 + cat.

  2. i've totally been nesting too. we've spent the last two weekends, painting, ikea-ing, arranging etc. but, it feel great in here. cozy and nice. maybe it's fall coming... love you.

  3. me too! i want to rearrange my living room, but i dont think it will work any other way. we have too many windows.... anyway, glad i could help you kick off you GSO month with getting your livingroom done! and i'll take that cup of hot chocolate next monday! see you then.

  4. jess - here are more pics, since you asked :) and you have my sympathies... it is hard to make it work sometimes. do you have an ikea around you? i love to wander around the "600sq ft model house for 4 people" type displays for inspiration. i think its all about flow, simplicity, and storage.
    anne - ooh. want to see pictures!
    cari - maybe try pulling your furniture in from the walls of windows a foot or so...i saw that once on some HGTV show and it looked great!

  5. I salute you for the rearranging success! Yay!! Life is so much better when the toys are organized and kids are playing happily. And, incidentally, I'm totally with you on the color-coordinating thing! If you have to look at it, it might as well not hurt your brain. :-)

    One of THE most helpful noisy-toy tips we ever got as parents: put scotch tape over the speaker, preferably before kiddo ever gets his hands on it. Great invisible sound muffler, and it seriously helps that parental eye-twitch that only loud electronic toys can induce.

    And here's a link that a good friend of mine found for toddler-friendly homes. Actually a lot of the suggestions look like ones that you just did, but the cloth book rack is my favorite, and it doesn't take much space to incorporate. Super Cute!

  6. ooh. definitely checking that one out, thanks tracy!
    and, tape. brilliant.

  7. ohmygoodness. that blog is like my aspiration. amazing. pretty. love it.
    and that play kitchen! wow.
    thanks for the link.
    makes me want to get a real camera to get decent pictures up here too....


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