One of Vivi’s characteristics that I’m most proud of is her love for books. As a lifelong reader, I love seeing my own passion reflected in her every time she toddles over with a new thing to read.
That being said, when your toddler asks you to read the same book for the sixth time in rapid succession, you start to get a little desperate for options. Not that I know anything about that (no, I have never hidden a book so she couldn’t ask me to read it again, how could you even suggest that?!)(yes, I have.), but in case this is a problem that you have, I’ve rounded up our favorite books that Vivi truly never tires of and I don’t even mind reading again and again.
I should also preface that the bulk of these books have been gifts from my friend Erin. She has some kind of sixth sense about what books to buy for a toddler, and she rarely misses. (I credit her years in entertainment media, as well as a long stint working in a children’s bookstore during high school.)
I tell you what: Babies love a lift-flap book. And if you combine it with anything that creates an opportunity to practice animal sounds, Vivi will eat it up. We’ve read this charming book so many times, the spine is currently held together with shipping tape. That is love, people.
Like so many of Vivi’s books, I have this one almost entirely committed to memory. Which would probably be annoying, except this hilarious book is actually pretty fun to read. Plus, it’s full of awesome vocabulary words (like kaleidoscope, aghast, and locomotion) that it will be pretty adorable to hear Vivi say in the coming months.
Here’s a tip for parents looking for books to buy their kids: The more words, the better. Trust me; if you think it’s hard to read a board book seven times over, try doing it with a book lacking a script. It’s painful. BabyLit books eschew the original classic plots in favor of primer-style educational books, and Wuthering Heights is one of my favorites because it includes full-sentence excerpts from the original book as a way to teach your toddler about different kinds of weather. Pride & Prejudice is also pretty good.
I had always heard that parents had a love-hate relationship with this book prior to becoming a parent, but we’re pretty big fans in this house. The rhyme is catchy (I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree!), and Vivi always seems impressed with my alphabetical rapping skills. (Come on; if you read this book without pretending like you’re rapping, you are missing out.)
If you have known Vivi since she was born, odds are you have had this song stuck in your head at one point or another. We have always been huge Susan Boynton fans, but Personal Penguin has been the book/song that has gotten us through some of the darkest baby moments. Oh, you didn’t know there was a song? Allow me (warning: you WILL have this stuck in your head for the rest of your life, but it’s actually pretty cute so you might not care):
So…what are your toddler book suggestions? Share ’em in a comment below!
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Yikes. Am I right? Just looking at a picture of our desk drawer stresses me out. So you can imagine how I felt actually living with that mess.
But despite being a fairly organized person in general (okay, I’m a little bit of a freak), there was something about our desk drawer that had me stumped for, well, let’s call it a calendar year.
While this drawer is actually significantly better than the one on our old desk (which was tiny), the bigness of it tended to backfire on my organization habits because it was essentially one big space, meaning everything in it shared that space all willy-nilly like. As a result, it became the bane of all type-A types: the junk drawer.
Finally, I decided enough was enough. On my recent trip to IKEA, I kept my eyes peeled for desk organization items. But I also knew I didn’t really want to spend a million dollars on a fancy organizational system. I just wanted something simple, pretty, and budget friendly.
That’s when I spotted these. These cute little bowls would have worked well enough on their own, but I decided to try to think of a way to personalize them/make them look more expensive if possible.
I also started to peruse IKEA’s vast selection of silverware drawer organizers (a great option for office supplies and jewelry, as well as cutlery), when I suddenly remembered that I actually had a silverware organizer tucked away in a closet at home. We had used it at our old apartment, but it was too wide for the drawers in our new place. So I bought two of the bowls and decided to simply upcycle everything else I needed.
And that, my friends, is the definition of budget friendly.
A few days later, I dug up the old silverware drawer. It was totally fine — no broken parts, the right size — but the bronze color clashed with the mint bowls.
And THAT was when I decided this was a job for gold spray paint.
I am no stranger to spray painting things gold. (Cough.) In fact, my husband has said, on occasion, that everything in our apartment is gold. (This is a gross exaggeration. But I get it.) So at this point, I consider myself a bit of a pro in what to do. I purchased some primer and some metallic gold spray paint and got ready to get in to it.
Cue my instant disappointment when I realized that the primer I had purchased was defective. Any attempt to spray the paint resulted in the can just spurting paint everywhere. Not cute.
I was about to give up on my project for the day (and had started racking my brain for a new project to fill this week’s post) when I decided to, you know, actually read the instructions on the gold paint’s can.
And, wouldn’t you know it, Krylon gold spray paint boasts the ability to stick to virtually every surface, INCLUDING PLASTIC AND METAL.We were back in business.
Three thin coats later, and I was left with these beauties:
Note: I taped off the bottom of the bowls to keep them white, and I am very pleased with the effect.
The one thing that was kind of annoying was that the gold spray paint dripped a bit, which was only really noticeable in the bowls:
This could probably be avoided by a) using a can with a more even spray nozzle or b) being more careful, but ultimately I decided the bowls would be full anyway, so no one would ever know.
Then I set to work organizing the aforementioned
junk drawer desk drawer.
Not bad, right? Let’s get a close-up:
Now, not only do I not dread opening the drawer, but it actually feels a little bit luxe. And I got that feeling of luxurious organization for less than $15! Not bad at all.
Hi hi hi hi HI!
Have you missed me? I’ve missed you all.
You probably already noticed, but I took a bit of a break from the interwebs over the last two weeks. (Except what I needed to do for work.) Instead, I really threw myself into organizing our apartment and updating a few decor things.
We decided last year that this would be our final year in our current place, meaning we’ll be ready to move come April. Before then, though, I wanted to get rid of as much as I could to make packing and moving less of a headache.
Meaning it was time to tackle the really messy areas of our apartment.
Here were my main goals:
1. Organize the linen closet.
2. Organize the file cabinet.
3. Rearrange the desk area.
4. Replace our (seriously beat UP) living room rug.
5. Sell and replace our green upholstered chair in the living room.
6. Organize the kitchen cabinets and pantry.
7. Rearrange our picture frames.
8. Organize under the bathroom sink.
I had also hoped to get some organizing done in the bedroom, but that’s a task for another day. It’s mostly Joey’s stuff that needs a more efficient storage system. (Sorry, babe. I promise, you’ll like it better when everything has a place!)
Here are a few before-and-afters…because who doesn’t love a makeover story?
Let’s start in the kitchen. Here is the pantry before:
And here is the pantry after:
I don’t know about you, but those sweetly labeled food containers just warm my heart.
Up next, the linen closet before:
And now the linen closet currently:
Yup, more chalkboard label goodness.
Next up, I rearranged some furniture around our desk. Here’s what it looked like before:
And here’s what we’re looking at now:
For the living room itself, here’s where we started:
And here’s the updated version:
A little lighter, brighter, and a lot more colorful, non?
I also did organize the kitchen cabinets, under the bathroom sink, our file cabinet, and I even threw in the tupperware and baking sheet cabinets for kicks. (It was a very busy couple of weeks.) I’m still waiting for our new upholstered chair to arrive, but then I’ll be sure to post an update.
So there you have it! How did everyone else spend their break?
Like most people who grew up in the ’80s/’90s, I have a memory box or two squirreled away in random corners of the apartment. I’m leaving the most recent generation out of that generalization because, honestly, I have no idea what kids do to preserve memories anymore. I would say SnapChat, but “saving” is literally the opposite of the purpose of SnapChat.
Actually, I take that back. Every generation hoards something. The ’90s babies and *shudder* people born in a year where the fourth number is a zero are probably stockpiling caches of ticket stubs and magazine articles too.
The one thing that I doubt they have nearly so many of, though? Notes.
And, yes, I did notice that one of those notes has the word “boob” on it. THISISMIDDLESCHOOLPEOPLE.
Even I was surprised at how many notes and letters I found in my memory box. I mean, it makes sense — this was before texting. (I KNOW I’M OLD OKAY.) If something happened in first period homeroom that you just could not wait to tell your BFF on the bus ride home, you would discretely pass a note through the clarinet section during band practice. Or something. Hypothetically.
After unfolding, re-reading, and then carefully refolding the notes (we were origami champs, y’all), I felt a wave of nostalgia that made me a little sad for kids today. And a little sad for myself for using the phrase “kids today.” Today’s tweens aren’t going to scroll through pages of old texts. And even if they did, it would be 60% emoji anyway. And while I love an emoji myself, a pair of dancing twins is never going to compare with a handscrawled note from your bestie telling you her life would just END without you.
The next generation of twenty-somethings won’t be able to sift through handwritten letters and (at times even more novel) printed photographs. In my memory box I found all of the following — and more:
1. Two love letters (rated whatever comes before G…this was middle school in the ’90s, after all)
2. Pictures of my first serious crush
3. A ticket stub for when I saw The Notebook in theaters (the first time)
4. A purchased photo from my eighth grade graduation dance
5. Every graduation/baptism card I ever received
6. Every letter Jackie dal Broi sent to me after I moved from California (that is LOVE, guys)
7. Both of my solo contest pins from the days of playing the flute (so maybe that band practice anecdote wasn’t so hypothetical)
8. The expertly folded notes shown above (and a few not-so-expertly folded others)
You guys. MEMORIES. I actually opened the box with the intention of consolidating it into another box, so I ended up tossing a few things. Pour one out for all those grad cards that someone just stuffed a check into and signed. (I saved the real letters with real emotions. I’m not a robot.)
Do you have a memory box hidden somewhere? What would you guess is the weirdest thing in it? If you say “a ticket stub from when I saw The Notebook,” we just became best friends.
I’m not going to lie — there are a lot of days when I give Joey a lot of credit for staying married to me.
I mean, I’m annoying. Like, roll-your-eyes, is-she-serious annoying. I actually care about how things are arranged in the pantry, and I throw things out with wild abandon because the clutter gives me hives. But the man sticks around, God love ‘im.
Case in point? I am very annoying to go on vacation with. Because I like to plan. But not just, like, plan-to-go-on-a-trip. PLAN.
Not only have I been working on a Google doc itinerary for our upcoming California trip for the last couple of months, not only do I plan to put together a binder of confirmations and maps (like I did for our Paris trip), but today I spent about an hour outfit planning. And then turning those plans into detailed packing lists.
Don’t believe me?
Like I said. Annoying.
The one thing Joey can be grateful for? I am generally much more rational in person when I feel like I have my life together. AND these plans make it much less likely that I will overpack.
See, babe? Everyone wins!!
…please don’t leave me.
Ohhh, apartment living.
Most of the time, I am totally fine with our apartment. Is it the newest, most modern place on the planet. No. But our building is reasonably well maintained, and I love our neighborhood, so I overlook a lot of things.
At its core, it’s just a basic one-bedroom that is nice enough because we make it nice enough.
One thing that I really do not like, though? Our lack of closet space.
The bedroom has one minuscule closet that would actually be impossible for Joey and me to share, so it is exclusively Joey’s. I use an IKEA wardrobe instead, and while it is marginally bigger than the closet, it’s still not much.
Over the weekend, though, I decided to see if I could maximize the space I had with just three simple closet organizing additions. And it I was able to create this:
(Side note: I am wildly impressed with anyone who can take a decent photo of their closet. I am never successful in my attempts. Probably because, unlike this person, not all of my clothes are the same three colors. You will just have to trust me that it now looks worlds better in person.)
The biggest issue I had before was that my wardrobe only had one hanging bar across the top and two shelves for shoes. I have to be totally honest: I’m not that much of a shoes person. In New York, you pound your shoes into the pavement day after day, so, to me, it feels silly to spend much on something I know I will have to replace after six months or less. The point of that mini confession is that I don’t really have that many shoes to begin with. And especially in the fall, after I retire so many sandals and wedges until April, I really don’t need nearly so much space for my kicks.
Pro tip: By positioning your shoes so one shoe faces front and the other faces back, you can fit up to an additional pair of shoes in the same amount of square footage that you could if you had all the shoes facing the same direction.
I started my closet TrAnSfOrMaTiOn by removing the top shoe shelf. Already, so much more space! To better utilize it, I added a double hanging bar. Instantly, I had doubled my hanging space. I arranged my clothes so tops, sweaters, and jackets hung from the top bar and skirts hung from the bottom bar.
Next, I added a hanging shoe/accessory organizer to hold the pairs that didn’t fit at the bottom. This also worked as a great means to separate my tops/sweaters/jackets from my dresses, which take up the right side of the wardrobe.
Finally, I hung a handbag file next to the shoe organizer. This allowed me to hang some of the bags that were currently in the shelves next to the wardrobe, opening up shelf space for other storage.
The result is seriously life-changing — I can actually see all my clothes! And it totally inspired me to straighten up some of the other areas of my home that cause me stress — stay tuned for more DIY updates.
What are your tricks for creating more space in cramped areas? Anyone else working on organizing projects this fall?