I remember stringing cranberries and marshmallows for our Christmas tree growing up, and thinking it was SO fun. (I also remember we tried stringing popcorn one year and it was just ridiculously frustrating. Cranberries and marshmallows don’t break into a million pieces when you put a needle through them.) Anyway, this was one tradition I knew I wanted to continue with my kids. Two years ago I decided at least Kalena and Will were old enough to try it. (Have I written about this? Possibly I have. Too lazy to check.) They thought it was fun for about 3 minutes and then left me alone to finish a garland that would be long enough for our tree. Which was fine, except that then I forgot to actually put it ON the tree. (Garland doesn’t go on after the ornaments. That’s the rules.) But I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I hung it on our banister! And Lydia proceeded to eat it every chance she got.

I was undeterred though, and last year I bought the stuff to string cranberries and marshmallows again. The kids had much more stamina last year, and we ended up with a nice garland. Except I inadvertently ruined this project before it even started. For reasons unknown, when I bought the cranberries and brought them home, I put them in the freezer. (Seriously. No idea what I was doing.) So we were stringing FROZEN cranberries, which was fine-ish, but as they thawed they just leaked red juice EVERYWHERE. Fortunately, we realized this before we put it on the tree. But last year’s garland ended up decorating only the inside of the trash can.

Now APPARENTLY I am a glutton for punishment because I bough the stuff to do it again this year! (Turns out I still think it’s fun.) I also bought myself this ornament, for all the happy garland-making memories I have.

Anyway, wish me luck with this year!

LEGOS! Finally organized

To say we have a lot of Legos is…an understatement. The kids love them, and Brian and I love them, and SOMEHOW we ended up with a lot of them! Such a mystery. Anyway, it got to the point where the kids couldn’t really play with them, because the whole surface of the Lego table (a train table that we use for Legos) was covered, and it was impossible to find anything in our super tidy storage system (giant storage tupperware filled with Legos.) Something had to be done. I looked on Pinterest, (because I never learn) but almost everything on there has Legos organized by COLOR and y’all. DON’T DO THAT. It may look nice, but if you want Legos to be usable to actually BUILD THINGS USING INSTRUCTIONS, you need to sort them by piece type. We made a half hearted attempt to do this once in the past, but we had no system for actually KEEPING them sorted, so they all ended up back in a giant mess of stuff. I was determined this summer to get them sorted for good. (Key point in my plan was the kids being gone for 3 weeks.)

So! I started by ordering one of these.

I knew it would take more than one, but I didn’t really have a good idea how many Legos it would hold, or if I’d want more small drawers or big ones, or what. I figured as I sorted I’d have a better idea what we needed. In the end, I bought 3 of that first┬ácabinet, and one like this, with just the larger size drawers. I started by sorting out smallest pieces first, and I won’t lie, this is a giant pain. Tedious and time consuming, like sorting piece by piece through a 1000 piece puzzle to find the edges. I don’t actually mind doing this kind of stuff, but seriously, HOURS AND HOURS. I worked on this project pretty much daily for the 3 weeks my kids were visiting my parents. But I’m sure you don’t want a blow by blow of the sorting, so how about a look at the end product, eh? (Not my best pictures. Sorry about that.) These 4 cases are probably only about 1/2 of our Legos, volume-wise, but they keep all the teeny tiny pieces sorted and easy to find.IMG_2238IMG_2239

By the way, if it’s at all possible, I recommend keeping Legos in a room with a hard floor. Sweeping them up is far easier than picking them up one by one to keep them out of the vacuum. Also, you can see them on a wood floor, which lowers the chances that you’ll accidentally step on one and want to die.

The labeling system is Brian’s genius idea. I was wondering aloud how to name each individual piece and he said, “just glue one on the front.” BOOM. Brilliant. Especially since my kids have made up ridiculous names for various pieces that only they use. I just used a hot glue gun. Easy and, if it needs to be, reversible. (Hot glue is pretty easy to peel off plastic.)


As you can see, some drawers have more than one piece glued on the front, because the drawer holds more than one type of Lego. Other drawers only have one piece glued on the front even if they have more than that inside (generally if it has the same piece type in varying sizes.) Some drawers aren’t labeled because either they have a whole mess of stuff (drawer with all the rubber-band/string pieces) or because there are only 2 or 3 of a particular piece and I didn’t want to waste one by gluing it on the front. Honestly I was sort of winging it here. I figured I could change things if it wasn’t working. (So far it’s working.)


This is just to give you an idea of the size of the small drawers.


For the bigger pieces I used some bins we already had, because sorting these into drawers would have taken like 2 more of those cabinets. Those bins each have multiple sizes of the same kind. No specialty pieces. Bigger legos are considerably easier to sort through and find what you need. It’s those dang tiny bits that are the trouble makers.


And last, a little spaceship that I built, using the instructions from a set from 1987! (Yes, I have some very old Legos. That spaceship has like 4 different pieces that Lego doesn’t even make anymore.)

We tested the organized system by building some sets. Kalena picked a set that we own, using the paper instruction booklet, Will picked a set from, not one we own, but that we figured we had all the pieces for. I’d guess they took slightly longer than opening a new set and building just with those pieces in front of you, but only slightly! Things were easy to find, the kids didn’t get frustrated, and Will enjoyed being able to pick different colors than the instructions showed. (We did have to sub a couple pieces on his- he picked a star wars set with a couple speciality pieces we don’t have.)




DIY disaster

Is that the name of a show on HGTV? Because it seems like a good one. Anyway! On to my point. Short version: Somebody did some DIY light replacement here and it ended poorly. Also, glad I’m married to someone handy.

Long version:

Yesterday I was eating lunch and feeding the kids when I heard a crash behind me in the kitchen. My first thought was that it sounded like a giant bowl of ice slid off the counter onto the floor, but at the same instant I realized that was impossible, since there was no giant bowl of ice on the counter. And when I turned around I saw that the whole light fixture had fallen from the ceiling, crashing to the floor and shattering into a bazillion pieces. Seriously, some of that glass looked like sand, it smashed so small. Nobody was in the kitchen when it happened, THANKFULLY

When he got home, Brian looked it at and realized a couple things: A) the place this fixture was is set up for a canister light. This fixture was NOT a canister light. B) The whole thing was being held up by 2 screws, which were screwed straight into the ceiling. No anchors. Nothing attaching it to the box. Just 2 screws into drywall.

Y’all. This thing might as well have been thumbtacked up there. I’m surprised it took this long to fall. Anyway, that meant today went from “relaxing Saturday” to “project we didn’t plan on doing, nor do we really have money for right now Saturday.” Brian replaced the canister light thing with the appropriate kind of light box, and even installed it properly, with a 2X4 anchoring it to the studs in the ceiling. What kind of fun is THAT, right? No more falling fixtures for these party poopers. And then put up the new fixture I bought. At Ikea because holy crap light fixtures are expensive. And then he checked the other light fixtures because WOW I would like to never repeat this.

How was your weekend?