Thursday, January 18, 2018

2 How To Flock a Tree (or anything really)

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has come and gone, but today we are going to chat about one decorative detail that was a really nice addition this past year. Flocking! I wasn't introduced to tree flocking until a few years ago, and it always seemed as though it was either too expensive or too messy. But I LOVE all of the pretty, fluffy white! So file this one away for next year if you have been in that same boat. It is a little messy, but I can testify that it is worth that mess in the end. And because we purchased a non-flocked tree last year (which was the right size and budget), it didn't make sense to purchase a flocked tree this year no matter how much I wanted one.

So I did a little research and figured it would be worth it to try and flock one of our artificial trees myself. And based on your feedback, it sounds like many of you are interested in doing the same!

I flocked our artificial tree, but I don't think anything is off limits. Garland, live trees, wreaths... 

I put together a quick little video tutorial to show you just how simple the flocking process is, but will also recap a few things below as well.

First, let's chat about the type of flocking I purchased. I found a 5 lb box of Sno-Bond flocking powder on Amazon for $27 shipped, back in November. That seems like a really great price as I am struggling to find it anywhere near that now. If this is something you are interested in, I recommend setting up a price alert to keep an eye on it throughout the year. I used the powder, but I have also seen it sold as a spray. Also, 5 lbs was more than enough. I have maybe used 1/4 of the box to cover my 7 ft. pencil tree twice. I imagine you may be able to split that size of a box with a couple friends or family members, or use it to flock a fresh tree multiple years in a row, or even sell the remainder of the contents through a local Facebook group.

As I mentioned, it is a little messy. The process of flocking requires you to wet the surface and sprinkle the white flocking powder onto the branches. Then, you spray the water again to cure that flocking to the tree. To prep, I recommend laying out a large tarp or painter's plastic, below and behind where you will be spraying. It is cold here so we set up an area in our garage, but I imagine you could do it outside in warmer climates. Not only will the dust settle below the tree, it does waft through the air a bit, so just consider that if indoors is your only option.

If you are flocking an artificial tree, we found it easiest to work in sections. Our tree breaks down into three pieces, so we did each piece separately, and then one more coating on the entire tree when fully assembled just to fill in any gaps. It was also helpful to have a second set of hands; Bryan would hold or spin the pieces while I sprayed and sifted. This allowed us to get under and all around the branches much easier. He recommends wearing rubber gloves or your hands will also be completely flocked by the end (although it does wash off easily).

Another tips is you can use the power of your spray bottle to squirt and push the flocking powder deeper into the tree as you sift.

As you can see in the video, the process is:

  1. Mist water onto the branches to give the flocking powder something to adhere to.
  2. Using a colander, sift the flocking over the branches of the tree.
  3. Mist the water onto the flocking again, this time to cure the powder to the branch.
  4. Let sit for 24 hours to fully cure prior to decorating.

The goal is to make it look like your tree is covered in beautiful white snow. What I love most is that there really is no right or wrong. You can add as much or as little as you like. And because snow doesn't fall perfectly onto every single branch, you can add more or less and it can be as even or uneven as you prefer. Nature is creative, and you get to be with this project too!

We allowed the flocking to cure the recommended 24 hours prior to decorating. There was some flocking that fell off the tree and into the tree skirt and onto the floor and gifts during decorating and just over the course of the few weeks that we had it up. But it wasn't sticky or anything that the vacuum couldn't easily and quickly handle. And I sort of loved the little dusting it left on our ornaments. It really did have a snow-like magical effect.

And that is it! It wasn't nearly as intimidating as I had built it up to be, and I am so happy I gave it a try this year! Feel free to leave any additional questions you might have about the process in the comments below!

Now, enough Christmas chit chat for now. We are starting a closet project to get one of our boys more organized and I am more than ready to start sorting and labeling! More on that soon!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

67 My Five Favorite Ways to Organize Room-by-Room

Well, you guys! You did it! You made me cry the happiest tears I have cried in a very long time. I am so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support you all showed me after my last post. I am still making my way through all of the emails and comments and letting every word soak in. So. Much. Good. And so many new ideas and thoughts that spurred from our conversations in the comment section! I looooved it! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Today I was invited to host a blog hop surrounding my favorite subject of all time: ORGANIZING! I mentioned I wanted to do more connecting and sharing this year, and this was the perfect way to dive right in!

I am joining a group of lovely ladies, and each of us was asked to share our favorite organizing tip for five different rooms in our homes. I absolutely can't wait to check out all of the other blogs and pick up a few new ideas for myself! You all can follow along with my fellow friends below:

I will admit, I had a hard time narrowing each room down to one tip, but this was a really good exercise for me and really got me thinking. So, I picked what I thought were ideas that made a big impact on my day-to-day life, were easy enough that most anyone could implement and were budget friendly. Some of these might look familiar, or seem obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be spoken.

This was the hardest room for me to narrow down. I could have talked about how to date pantry items and leftovers or how to best layout your kitchen or why I think lazy susans are amazing or what to store under your kitchen sink or how I meal plan. I had so many ideas it inspired another post or two for the near future. That said, I decided to focus on a product I use in almost every area of my kitchen (and home). My number one tip for organizing in the kitchen is to use my absolute all-time favorite bins, the multi-purpose bin, to organize everything.

I have bragged about these bins to the moon and back and I still pick up a couple more every time I visit The Container Store. I love their price, but more importantly, their versatility, especially in the kitchen. These bins come in a variety of widths, are easy to clean, are translucent, are lightweight and have handles. Here are a few ways you can use these bins to whip your kitchen into organized shape:

  • In the fridge to create zones and kits. Think breakfast items and yogurts, lunch making supplies, produce, snacks, baggies containing treats and leftovers. 
  • In the pantry for dividing out produce, breads, spreads, chips, wraps...
  • In a cabinet to hold paper products.
  • Under the kitchen sink to corral cleaning supplies.
  • In a cabinet to hold clean rags and dish towels.
  • In a cabinet to store medications and vitamins. 
  • In deep drawers to file and divide specific gadgets, utensils, and lids.
  • On a nearby counter or shelf to corral daily mail and papers.

This is one that may seem obvious to most when I say, "create an inbox!". But friends, you really need an inbox!

Not all inboxes are created equal and it also helps to have a plan that correlates with your bin. The plan is just as important as the inbox itself.

I placed an oversized paper tray on my desk. I love this particular option because it is a little longer and wider than traditional letter trays. It also has stacking components as you can see above, so I can keep a few other desk goodies nearby without taking up all of my usable workspace. Lastly, I keep it in the most accessible location in my office, so I can easily add things to it throughout the week and also quickly work on it when the time comes.

As the week goes on, anything that enters the house that requires my attention or an action goes into my inbox. That might include a catalog I want to look at, a form I need to sign, scan and email, an address I need to log into my address book, Christmas cards I need to file away, receipts I need to expense, return labels I have printed, dates I need to add to my planner, etc... A lot of times these things are thrown at me and I can't give them my immediate attention, but I want them in a single place so if I need them at any point during the week, I know where to look.

The reason why the width of the tray is important is that it also fits a standard file folder. That allows me to add a specific place to put any bills or invoices that need to be paid. I like to keep those items separate as Bryan and I do our budget together and I never want to misplace any of our financial documents.

So, part one is to have a single drop zone place for all of the things to do. Part two is to actually do those things! I block 30 minutes on my calendar each week to go through my inbox and clear it out. It is a reminder that chimes on my phone and also a reoccurring task on my weekly list. I don't typically need that much time but I like to have it blocked just in case.

This one is easy peasy. Do you ever go to grab a set of sheets and part of the set is missing? Do you struggle with nicely folding those awful fitted sheets? Or have piles of sheets toppling over in your linen closet?

You know those inexpensive mesh laundry sacks generally intended for washing delicate clothes? Well, they also work great for corralling your individual sets of sheets. Just fold the sheets the best you can, tuck them inside a zippered sack and add a lavender dryer or sachet sheet for good measure. It keeps all of the set pieces together and smelling nice.

Also, people ask me all of the time why our "linen" or hallways closet doesn't actually have many linens stored in it. The answer is because I store most of our linens in the actual room they belong in. Each bedroom has two sets of sheets, one on the bed and a backup set. Same for bathrooms, one clean towel on the hook, one back-up. The mesh sacks store nicely in a bedroom drawer, in a bin or up on a closet shelf.

No surprise, my favorite bin is making another appearance!

In the bathroom, I always recommend adding a cleaning kit under the sink. Bathrooms are gross, germy, grimy places, and no one wants to run all the way to the kitchen for cleaners on a frequent basis; keeping some essentials in each bathroom encourages frequent wipe downs.

Under each of our bathroom sinks I have added a couple of bins to hold the following:

  • Lidded toilet brush
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Multi-surface cleaning spray (homemade recipe found here)
  • Shower scrub brush with cleaner added to the handle (homemade recipe found here)
  • Sink & grout brush
  • Trash can bags
  • Magic erasers
  • Cleaning rags

I try my best to quickly wipe down each bathroom each day. A quick pass over the mirror, down to the faucet and then around the counter (all with the same spray). The scrub brush quickly removes any makeup or toothpaste from the sink. I also try to use the shower scrubber on the walls of the shower every day or two to prevent soap build-up.

I add enough clean rags to the bin each week to get me through seven days of wipe downs, and after each cleaning, the dirty rag is tossed into a separate bin until wash day. I purchased the rags in bulk so I can do this for each bathroom, and at the end of the week they are all washed together in their own load. 

Speaking of washing laundry, let's chat about that next! I made a rule for the family awhile back that I wouldn't allow any dirty clothes to be left in the laundry room, with the exception of special wash items. Each bedroom has a hamper and each person has a specific day of the week to do their own wash. Sundays are for rags, delicate items and linens. 

On their specific day, a family member will take their hamper of dirty clothes and any empty hangers to the laundry room and do their laundry. Clothes are folded and put on hangers directly from the washer or dryer and brought right back to their rooms.

Taking away community hampers was an instant win for us! No more mixed socks or arguments over who should do laundry and when. Or what clothes belong to which kid. No more finger pointing at one another over shrinking sweaters and mixing colors. I will never say that I love doing laundry, but these quick tips have really helped us all with sanity and accountability! 


Thanks again everyone! I hope one or some of these tips are helpful and easy enough for you to give a whirl. Don't forget to check out the other posts below for even more around-the-house organizational tips: