Monday, May 26, 2014

21 Day Organization Challenge - Day 4

Day 4 is organizing the laundry room. Oh my goodness, I had no idea it was so bad in there! Here is the original post with all of the days / steps.

Pre-organizing, we had been keeping some questionable items in here, including cat carriers, light bulbs, and spare wood. Post-organizing, everything in there makes sense.

Additionally, the cleaning and organizing bug (energy) spread into the guest bathroom, leading to a clean under-the-sink area, and a clean inside-the-medicine-cabinet area. Since the beginning of this 21-step organization challenge, I have come across quite a few "homeless" containers in our house. I am corralling them, and if they're still empty at the end of this challenge then I will donate them to charity.

Oh How I've Changed My 12 Basics...

Before I had my baby, I wrote this post on my twelve home basics - THE items that I needed*. However, our new addition changed a lot of the ways I think about things, sometimes on a subtle, quasi-subconscious level. Here are my current twelve basics. I am restricting this list to non-baby items**.

My Basics
1-my bed - Sleep is a must
2-my iPhone 5c - I take photos on it of the baby and I love FaceTime
3-our cabin-shaped incense burner - For when romance strikes
4-our pets - They complete our family
5-paper - I use an owl notebook as a journal (it is hard to find unlined books), plus I have many different kinds of paper on hand for creating art or handmade cards (watercolor paper, Origami paper, crepe paper), as well as some stationary whenever I need to say "Hello" or "Thank you"
6-hair ties - Babies pull hair when it is not tied back
7-the baby necklace - shortly before our baby arrived, my husband bought me a blue necklace that I was wearing when our baby was born
8-the baby fig tree - I am going insane trying to keep this little tree alive since the Froylan cat likes to destroy it, but it is the same age as our little one and I would like it to grow up into a big tree one day
9-my West Elm Henry loveseat in dove gray - this sofa reminds me of "my style" - soft, quasi-luxurious, light in color, and mellow
10-my Emu knee-high boots - I am known for my love of a good pair of boots, and these are very comfortable too
11-our first decoy duck, and our Korean wedding ducks - I do not need our whole collection of ducks (we have about ten), but I do need these three
12-my blue poppies print from Target - I love big artwork and the color blue

Why My Basics Changed

  • Tangible objects seem less important to me now that the baby has arrived, period.
  • There is a whole lot less space in our house for my stuff because the baby's stuff takes up a lot of space. I'd like to have as much space in my house as possible right now because soon that little guy will be crawling all over the place and I want him to have the room to do so. Less stuff = Less hazards + Less obstacles
  • I have less time to do general house cleaning (because the baby takes up a lot of time, as does cleaning his accouterments such as his bottles and clothes), and the less stuff I have, the easier it will be to clean the house. Less stuff = Do not have to clean it or maintain it anymore
  • Because I have less money and space for things for me since the little one arrived, I am now paying more attention to small items (like eye shadow) rather than items that would cost more and eat up more spatial real estate (like furniture).
  • I appreciate timeless things more now, but I've also realized that nothing is really timeless - everything is temporary in a sense.

I guess I just have a whole lot less tolerance than I did before for keeping my stuff, because I am all about that little baby.

*Note 1: Apparently, I had written the earlier post last year but never actually published it, so I retroactively published it.
**Note 2: If you really want to know, my twelve must-have baby items right now would be:
1-SpaSilk burp cloths, 2-Pampers Swaddlers diapers, 3-Huggies Natural Care diaper wipes, 4-my diaper bag / tote with matching diaper mat, 5-his crib, 6-a carseat, 7-A+D cream, 8-gum-drop pacifiers, 9-Sophie the Giraffe natural teether, 10-Philips Avent bottles, 11-his fuzzy soft lion nap blanket, and 12-his hand-knitted pumpkin hat.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Anniversary Gifts by Year

I have been thinking about getting my hubby a DIY gift this year for our anniversary. I am thinking about cross-stitching the state where we got married with a heart over the location of the town where we had our ceremony. Will he like it? Who knows, he is not a sentimental guy.

However, I started to wonder, what are we supposed to get each other? Hallmark has an answer for that here.

An infographic it was not, which would make it difficult for me to Pin on Pinterest. So, I created the info graphic below (and spent way, way too much time creating the decorative little icons).

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Three Properties of Color

Sometimes, color terminology can be a gray* area, pun intended. I would like to help by explaining the basics of color vocabulary here.

Sometimes, I write something that I want to remember, and so it was when I edited a certain Wikipedia page on the Elements of Art** and wrote this:
"There are three properties to color. The first is hue, which simply means the name we give to a color (red, yellow, blue, green, etc.). The second property is intensity, which refers to the vividness of the color. For example, we may describe an intense blue color as "bright, rich, and vibrant". We may conversely describe a low-intensity blue color as "dull, subtle and grayed". A color's intensity is sometimes referred to as its "colorfulness", its "saturation", its "purity" or its "strength". A color's perceived intensity is related to its perceived brightness (brighter colors are more intense). The third and final property of color is its value, meaning how light or dark it is. The terms shade and tint are in reference to value changes in colors. In painting, shades are created by adding black to a color, while tints are created by adding white to a color"***

And sometimes, when I really want to remember something, I create an infographic.

Some clarification here regarding the concepts described in the Wikipedia article.
  • First, what is considered a hue is debatable. If you are using paint, it is blue, red, and yellow. But if you are using light or RGB graphics, then it is red, green, and blue. Some people consider all the colors of the ROYGBIV rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet) a hue.
  • Second, although Wikipedia puts color saturation under "colorfulness," if you are sitting in art class the words "color saturation" and "purity" will probably be used instead of the word "colorfulness."
If you are really interested in color and want to know more, I would recommend taking a color theory class at a local college. It was probably the best class I took when I got my minor in Fine Art. Alber's color theory book is also a great place to learn more.

*A fun side note is that "gray" and "grey" mean the same thing (unless you are talking about a specific person or specific thing, like Earl Grey tea). A minority of people insist that they are actually separate colors and that gray is a darker color whereas grey is lighter. However, the majority of people think the words are interchangeable and that the difference is merely that Americans prefer to spell it with an 'a' whereas the British prefer to spell it with an 'e'.
**I pasted what I wrote here because, since Wikipedia is an ever-evolving medium, what I wrote could be changed at any time. I wanted a static copy of what I wrote.
***I did not include my reference sources here, but I submitted the source information to Wikipedia when I submitted my verbiage.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

21 Day Organization Challenge - Day 3 (and my Photoshop settings)

As I mentioned on Day 2, I am treating this as a 21-step process, rather than a 21-day process. Here is my original post with all of the steps laid out and the catchall infographic.

Day 3 is organizing the area under beds. There is nothing under my bed, and the shoes under the baby's crib are already tidy, so I tackled the troubled area under the guest bed / daybed.



The Process...
I started with tidying the top of the bed. Then I removed everything that was under the bed and dusted the floor. I organized the contents inside the IKEA Vardo underbed storage box (which you can't see to appreciate). The green-and-white box contained magazine clippings. I was able to take photos of the clippings with my iPhone and upload them to my Pinterest account using the iPhone Pinterest app (available in the iTunes store). I was then able to discard the originals.

Photoshop Photo-Editing Steps...
Speaking of processes, here is how I got these photos online. I took a couple of shots with my iPhone, then I emailed the photos to myself. From there, I downloaded the photos onto my computer and opened them in Photoshop*. I created five layers...

  • The bottom-most layer is the unaltered photo (marked 1 in the Layers palette).
  • The next two layers (marked 2 and 3) were added to minimize the appearance of wrinkles in the after photo. Basically, I used the Eyedropper tool (top circle on left), took a sample of the color of the sheet (by clicking on the sheet), and then "painted" over the sheet using the Paintbrush tool (middle circle on left). I set my paintbrush to a large size (172 pt**), reduced the opacity (to 36% opacity), and chose Overlay mode (instead of Normal mode). I used the Eraser tool (bottom-most circle on left) to blur the edges between my painting and the real edge of the sheet. For blending, I like to set my eraser to a relatively large size (131 pt**) and a reduced opacity (33%). For both painting and erasing, I usually like to reduce the opacity but keep the flow rate at 100%.
  • The next layer (marked 4) is the Curves layer, and you can see what settings I chose by looking at the histogram to the left of the Layers palette. I prefer to customize the Curves rather than use Auto Contrast or Auto Color. You just click create a new Adjustment Layer above your photo layer and toggle away. If you took your photo indoors, this usually means moving the right side of the blue "line" in towards the left a little.
  • Finally, I added my text layer (marked 5 and in a circle). I used black font, which is hex # 000000, and strong MV Boli font (in a circle in the Character palette). For online font, as a matter of personal preference because I think it improves readability, I usually space the characters slightly further apart than the default (the default is 0, but here I have used 175 pt**, which sounds like a lot unless you consider that I am using 200 pt** font).

Photoshop Notes:
*I have Adobe Photoshop CS 5. I am currently avoiding the newest version of Photoshop, CS 6, because it is subscription-based and cloud-only. You own nothing and you would have to pay every year in order to keep using it, which in my opinion is outrageous for the casual user.
*A point (abbreviated "pt") is the unit of text measurement. 72 pts = 1 inch. For my example, my original image as imported from my iPhone was 3264 pixels wide by 2448 pixels high, which is a huge size. I therefore used text, brushes and erasers that were equally huge, but then saved my final image as a JPEG that was much smaller. I prefer to adjust my image's size when I am saving it as a JPEG rather than at the beginning, but you could resize your image first and then use smaller font and brushes during your editing process(es).

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Oh how I love a good info graphic. Reading this article in the Washington Post today led me to create this easy visual reminder.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

21 Day Organization Challenge - Day 2

I'm doing a 21-Day Organization Challenge, but I'm viewing it more as 21 steps. Whenever I have time to do a step, I'll do it. Today I did Day 2: The Coat Closet.

My Before Pic
I hesitate to post this photo since it looks worse than it was - for example, those crumpled things on the left were waiting to go outside to the recycling bin, and the shoes were not put away in the closet originally because they were wet. We had a bit of a rainpocalypse happen this week in our area.

My After Pic
The Process
The "After" pic is a little misleading since before I had even heard about the 21 Day Organization Challenge, I had wanted to improve my foyer and had therefore bought the two organizing bins on the top shelf, and I had moved some off-season items into storage. Tonight, I started with the area in front of the closet, then I moved items like hats into the bins, then I organized the shoes, and finally I sorted the hanging items by removing all of them from the closet and then only putting back clean, useful, well-fitting items in good condition.