DIY: Organizing closets for 6 kids!?!?!

Preparation for Baby #6 means hauling the baby bins from the basement storage and organizing the baby clothes. This made me somewhat frustrated as ALL of the kids closets and drawers were a mess. We had 2 dressers in each closet for socks, undergarments, pants and shorts. We would hang all of the tops above despite the massive amount of hangers. :/ Trying to put this away was a challenge with so many drawers open and shut. The kids seemed to be constantly breaking the drawers or ‘pushing out’ the bottoms as they stuffed the drawers with the clean clothes. (Laundry day at the Menne house is pretty interesting) I wanted some sort of bins for their clothes but didn’t know how it would work. This is what my hubby came up with.

Closet Organization 1

Each child has a color for their bins and they have 1 bin for each drawer that used to be the dresser. We once again hung up the tops. You’ll notice the shoe storage in the middle. This is my way of keeping sane but I’ll get to that in a minute. Back to the bins, in order to allow the kids to help with putting things away we labeled each bin with words and drawings. It’s hard to see in the second photo but we did our best to draw socks, tights, etc. and then label them with words as well. We used post-it’s and clear contact paper.

Closet Organization 2

Back to the shoe storage bins….At some point on the weekend (when things are less crazy) I take the time with each child to help them pick out 5 outfits for the week including socks and undies and we fill each shoe slot with 1 outfit. This makes mornings much easier on all of us because they know where their clothes are, they match (for the most part) and they have the independence to open the closet and find the outfits on their own.

This project was completed a few months ago and has been going well. I am SO happy with how it all turned out.

How do you keep your kids clothes organized? I’d love to hear your ideas!! Please share 🙂

Pumpkin Poppers and Jack-O-Latern Cupcakes

Halloween Cupcakes? Heck Yeah! Who doesn’t need an excuse to break out the frosting and food coloring. :)I found these cute lil’ pumpkins in a magazine and knew the kids would love them. What convinced me to make these cuties was the fact that I could make both the jack-o-latern cupcakes AND the pumpkin poppers. How cool is that?

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I did one batch of cupcakes using regular food coloring but they just weren’t orange enough for me and trying to add more coloring was affecting the consistency of the batter. I learned my lesson and ran to Target for orange food coloring gel which proved to work very well.

You can use a white cake recipe and make cupcakes from scratch or use a white cake mix.

(After making my first batch from scratch I decided to cheat the second time around and used a white cake mix). Color the batter with the orange food coloring gel. It doesn’t take much and the color ‘pops’.

After letting the cupcakes cool using a serrated knife cut the rounded tops off of the cupcakes and put them in the freezer to prep them for frosting. While they are chillin’ mix up the frosting. You’ll need  a small amount of green and plenty of orange. Again the gel food coloring works much better than the regular liquid food coloring to allow the frosting to maintain a thicker consistency. Once your frosting is ready and the cupcakes are nice and cold you’ll frost!Image

Pumpkin Poppers

Frost  the bottoms of half of the the rounded tops. (This can be a pain to frost which is why putting them in the freezer helps.) Then place another rounded top. The stem is a Tootsie Roll and in order to make it stay up I used a Wilton filling tip to gently great a hole for the Tootsie Roll. Finally using the Wilton leaf tip and green frosting I made the leaves and ta da! Pumpkin poppers ready to eat!

ImageJack-O-Latern Cupcakes

These require a bit more work. This time you’ll frost the tops of half of the cupcakes and then place them together connecting tops to tops. There is no right way to connect them as the irregularity helps for creating cool faces. Use plenty of frosting to ensure the teeth have something to ‘stick’ to. 🙂 Once they are all frosted you can make fun faces using white mint Tic-Tacs for teeth, and Wilton candy eyes. Again, I made a hole using the Wilton filling tip to place the Tootsie Rolls for the stems and then finished it off with the Wilton leaf tip and green frosting to create the leaves.

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1 box White Cake Mix

(ingrediants listed on the box)

2 cans of white frosting

orange food coloring gel

green food coloring gel

1 pckg white mint Tic Tacs

1 small bag of Tootsie Rolls

1 pckg Wilton Candy Eyes

Guest Post: Creative Ways To Enjoy Your Summer And Make Money

Creative Ways To Enjoy Your Summer And Make Moneymoney

In the middle of the summer, you might find your mind wandering toward thoughts of sunny beaches and get-away vacation spots. For most families, the price of leaving town and booking a hotel isn’t always easy when there’s business to attend to and bills to be paid. However, there are ways to have fun and make some money during these dog days of summer. Whether you’re managing the family at home or working at your office, see how these four creative tips can improve your life and your bank account while the sun is still in full force!

Sell Your Photos
Do you love snapping pictures with your camera? Don’t let those gorgeous photos you’re taking go to waste! If you’ve taken hundreds of photos that only a few people have seen, you could be missing out on a great opportunity. Make some extra bucks by selling your beautiful images as stock photos. There are several sites online that let you sign up for free which allow your photos to be sold to their users. It’s a good way to build your portfolio and make some money at the same time!

Become a Dog Boarding House

If you enjoy animals like I do, then you will love this idea! A great way to make a pet-owner feel at ease while they’re out of town is dog boarding through a service such as DogVacay. It’s a fantastic way to make some extra cash in your free time! Some people feel uneasy about the idea of leaving their furry friend in a kennel. This way, you give the pup some much needed attention while their owner is gone and you get paid to let them stay with you. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

Switch Off Your Air Conditioner
Your home doesn’t have to be an icebox in the summertime! If you’re not living in an area where the temperatures rise to 100 degrees in the warmer months, chances are you could turn off the air conditioner more times than you think. Buy yourself a few portable fans that can move from room to room. Open the window and let the fans push the air around your house. It’s easy to lay off the air conditioner when the cooler evening hours set in. It’s a great way to lower the electric bill that has a way of rising a little on the high side around the middle of the year! 

Go on – Double Your Recipe

This idea might sound a little bit out there, but it could really save you some cash! Next time you’re cooking, go on and double the ingredients in your recipe! It might seem a little odd staying out of the kitchen too long, but having food for longer than you planned goes a long way. Doubling your recipe means fewer trips to the store and less time leaving the oven on. All in all you’ll save time, decrease your electric bill and have energy left to relax!

The summer season is the perfect time to find small ways to enhance your life. Take some time to soak up the sun and increase your savings. Let your creative side and your budget skills collide by trying some of these tips for yourself!

Shaye is a single mom that has a passion for family, budgeting, healthy living, fitness, and travel. She loves finding new ways to cook healthier and stay fit, all while doing it on a budget. She has a beautiful son and one eccentric dog, but wouldn’t have it any other way.. Follow her blog athttp://simplyshaye.wordpress.com!  

Simply Shaye

Minecraft Madness

My 10 year old and well frankly my 8 year old and almost 6 year old are all obsessed with everything Minecraft. As I read in another Dad’s blog, unless you’ve been under a rock-Minecraft is all the rage with 8-12 year old boys.

We’ll my 10 year old recently had a birthday and in fact it was his golden birthday so he decided it needed to be extra special but the word he used was, “Epic.” Under a bit of pressure I checked out many blogs and photos of Minecraft cakes and birthday parties.

Here is what I came up with under the direction of my kids because honestly am pretty clueless about this Minecraft business.IMG_3979

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Minecraft Cake: We used 2 cake mixes and experimented with cereal treats. We ended up making the trees out of straws, cereal treats and fondant. Steve is made of cereal treats and fondant. (I made the fondant myself with a easy marshmallow recipe) In order to make it authentic we had to add a ‘torch’ so the candle was stuck to Steve’s hand with a tooth pick.

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I googled to find the Minecraft font and then watched a YouTube video on how to install it. (very handy that YouTube!)

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After checking out many blogs I decided to use balloons, construction paper and crepe paper to make spiders.

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The treat bags are just green bags with construction paper. A cool idea from another blogger. Check out his way-cool blog here Dad-Geek-Gamer

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I think this is a birch tree?? Lots of paper taped up to make one for them to chop down I guess. Another idea from the blogger cited above.

The kids made their own axe’s from cardboard, crepe paper and tinfoil. They seemed to like it but not as much as playing the actual game. It was a real gamers kinda’ party and they all had fun.

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Happy mining folks and remember, “Don’t mine at night” 😉

The Battle of Organization is Always Waging

I’m somewhat embarrassed to share this but as always helping others trumps any amount of embarrassment. Why embarrassed? I seem kinda’ crazy with a storage room full of diaper boxes right? Well trying to keep 5 children clothed without buying new items for each one saves me time on getting rid of them as well as time and money replacing them when the next child needs it. Growing up in a large family I remember “hand-me-downs” and may have grumbled about it but don’t recall being traumatized by it. (Eventually as I got older I know I owned clothing purchased just for me.) When the kids are little not only do they not care if it’s hand-me-down clothing but sometimes they even enjoy it! My kids love getting something from an older sibling and the oldest thinks it is pretty cool to see tiny outfits on his little brothers that used to be his. He often says, “Man-I was that small!?!”

So over the past 10 years I have tried totes, bins, boxes, baskets, etc. but it has been a struggle to keep the clothing organized in such a manner that I can 1-locate it, 2-find the appropriate size, 3-keep adding to it. After moving too many times to recall at the moment and having various spaces for storage of said items I think I finally have it down to a science. Clothing Storage

This is one size of my storage area (Yes, I said MY as my husband has a different room to store his military uniforms and other items because he and I are not on the same wavelength when it comes to keeping things organized). This started with my lovely hubby installing some inexpensive plastic shelving units and as you may notice lots of diaper boxes.

When I first started this process I tried to use plastic storage bins but had difficultly stacking them (they crack and sometimes break) and their sizes tend to differ not to mention they can be costly. I switched over to boxes when my children started using Luvs diapers but as we transitioned back to other brands I kept using whatever diaper boxes I had because they worked and they were free. They stack nicely and aren’t too large to become heavy.

For some time I wished that Luvs would leave a nice empty spot on the size of their boxes so one might be able to write right on the box but somehow I don’t think a diaper company cares about the re-use-ability of their products box. I had to settle for making my own labeling system so I use either mailing labels or post-it notes and of course my favorite sharpie marker. (who doens’t love a sharpie??) labeling

I have them sectioned off with girls clothing on the far left and the boys on the right with some overflow area next to boxes of shoes. I also decided to add some hanging area for some heavier winter coats and such by using a shower rod which works pretty well.

I have a large laundry basket I keep in my laundry room specifically labeled for clothing to go in storage so when I do the laundry I can just grab the items that are too small and toss them in. When I find time (albeit it isn’t often) I can haul that basket to the basement and place those clothes in the right box according to size. At that time or when one of the kiddos needs bigger clothes I just grab the box(es) I need and bring up the clothing.

It’s a bit of work to get started but once you get a system down it can be a life-saver in both time and money.

Happy hand-me-downs my friends 🙂

DIY Wedding Style

Spring is fast approaching and I am certain will bring with it many weddings and or wedding planning. With weddings on the horizon I thought I’d share some trials and tribulations I experienced during the last wedding season.

The bride and groom were looking for a creative way to showcase the table assignments and a few tables at the reception. They wanted something that could bring the décor together and be very functional. After searching the internet and getting feedback from them on what they desired the decision was made to make giant framed chalk boards. Here is where the ‘fun’ begins….

The Final Products

The Final Products

DIY Wedding Style

I started with a trip (okay MANY, MANY trips) to Hobby Lobby and was able to snag VERY large frames on clearance and a couple smaller ones as well. I also picked up small wooden squares and dowels. I found ribbons that matched the wedding colors at the Dollar Store. (I was totally surprised). I had to go to a number of Menard’s before finding the chalk paint I needed and also got flat black spray paint. After trying a few different places I found thin pieces of wood for the back of the frames.

I think I found the twine at Michael’s and wood glue as well. The hardest item to find was the chalk markers which I ended up getting at JoAnn’s Fabrics.

1-Painted all of the frames with the flat black spray paint including the dowels

2-Painted all of the flat pieces of wood with the chalk paint

3-Drilled holes in the small wooden squares

4-Painted the small wooden squares with the chalk paint

5-With the help of my Father-in-law I got the wood cut to attach to the frames

6-Using the pneumatic nail gun I stapled the backs to the frames…

7-Measured, cut and glued the dowels in place to divide the large frames into 9 sections each. (one section per table)…

Power tool girls

Power tool girls

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Paint & Glue

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Divided into sections

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Demonstration of size

Final Product

Table assignments

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Poem to describe the table names

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Head table

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Name banner

8-Used a few of the chalk markers to write on the boards (they require water and a rag to erase and don’t wipe off like chalk does while still giving the look of chalk)…

9-Strung the letters with the twine & wrote on them…

10-Dressed up the frames with the ribbons as well as some pine cones collected from nature…

Tips to pass along…

  • Everything I read said not to try this as it takes too much time and money. I agree. It’s way more time than anyone would want to put in. I am not kidding when I say it took all summer to complete for a fall wedding. You had better be well paid for this kind of work or really love the people you are making it for. If you are the bride I do NOT recommend taking this on!!!
  • Chalk markers are great but don’t wipe clean from chalk paint. Apparently only actual chalk boards.
  • Chalk paint is not cheap
  • Large frames are expensive
  • Last but not least-Hand written items take a long time
  • Changes happen….spelling, guest list, etc.

If you are tackling a wedding DIY-Good Luck 🙂















Baby Showers & Bridal Showers & Budgets-Oh My!

I don’t claim to be ‘Suzy-Homemaker’ but I am pretty sure my undergrad Family Consumer Science degree gives me a little ‘kitchen credibility’ so when called upon to throw a shower I had no trouble stepping forward to give it the ol’ college try. As with most things, I learn as I go and this is no exception.

Baby Shower

The mother-to-be’s favorite meal of the day is breakfast so we went with a baby shower brunch. The menu included virgin mimosas, banana bread, blueberry muffins, cinnamon rolls, fruit and an egg bake. All items were pretty inexpensive and fairly easy to complete in advance to make the morning less stressful.

Fruit Baby Carriage

Fruit Baby Carriage

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Starting to put it all together….

I am never too shy to try something new so after seeing a picture of a cute baby carriage filled with fruit I was convinced I should make one. After I watched a youtube video I was ready. It’s not too difficult but does yield a ton of watermelon. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be cute as you can see. Mine was certainly far from it but still looked great for the occasion.

I hit up the dollar store for the banner and paper goods and ended up finding some really nice trays so I picked them up as well. At the time I thought I’d only use them for the shower but I’ve used them over and over because they look nice and you aren’t out your favorite Mikasa serving plate if it never gets returned. I also picked up some baby items from Target for added decor that could be useful to the mother-to-be.

DIY Diaper Cake

DIY Diaper Cake

The most expensive AND time consuming piece of the entire babyshower was the diaper cake. I opted to make

Corsage

Corsage

one but if I was to do it again I think I would have purchased one. It is amazing how

Vase of 'Faux Flowers'

Vase of ‘Faux Flowers’

many diapers it takes to make one although there are a variety of ways to assemble them. Whether rolling the diapers or spiraling them it’s so many diapers. I suggest filling the inside with other useful items. I know some cakes are made with a champagne bottle in the middle (or sparking cider). I used baby soap, baby lotion, onesie’s and other baby care items. I found some cute tiny baby items from the dollar store that were intended to be sprinkled on a table for decoration as well as some pretty ribbon. Those tiny items and some travel sized baby items were easy to glue to the cake. Again, time consuming and the inexpensive pieces add up very quickly.

I also found some inexpensive baby socks which fit the colors of the decor so I used them to make a corsage for the mom-t0-be and the grandma’s as well. I liked them so much I made a few more for added decor. I found the items to make the ‘faux flowers’ at Hobby Lobby. I found the little vases at the dollar store and used twill to soften it up a bit. I purchased pacifiers from the baby registry so she could use those later as well. (As you can see I am all about practical use 🙂 )

Bridal Shower

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Salad Bar

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Invitation incorporated as decor

I guess I learned a few things from throwing the baby shower because I felt like the bridal shower went together very easily. The bride wanted a lighter menu so I thought a ‘salad’ bar might be best. Not the salad bar you are used to with leafy greens but an assortment of salads. That was it would meet the tastes of the pickiest of eaters. I wanted a light drink as well so I went with ice water with lemons in it and a punch that had the same color as the wedding colors, (thank goodness for Kool-Aid).

I was already helping with some of the wedding decor so I had some left over ribbon (Yup-from the dollar store) and some twine from Hobby Lobby. I had some clear candle holders (dollar store) and in my craft bin at home I had a plethura of glass baby jars. I found some very pretty serving platters that looked silver but were actually plastic that I liked as well, (dollar store).  I found a clear pitcher at Target that I thought would be perfect and I’ve been using it for all kinds of occasions since then.

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baby food jar candles

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Candle holders

I used the babyfood jars as candles with ribbons and some pine cones from the yard. I filled the larger candle holders with pine cones and wrapped them with ribbons. I decided to use the wedding invitation as decoration as well so after burning the edges to give it a rustic look I used spray glue to adhere it to a piece of wood. It turned out okay but not as nice as I had hoped. The spray glue was far too oily and soaked up too much of the paper invitation. I purchased some fresh roses from the store for the table to contrast the rustic feel. I filled the base of the vases with rocks (both the rocks and vases were from the dollar store). I also found a small log to carve their initials in for what I thought would be a center piece but it ended up being much larger than I thought it would be. I used it anyway and ended up giving it to the bride and groom with many of the other pieces of decoration. I didn’t score many points on the practical scale with the shower but I liked the overall look of it. I was really trying to please the bride and groom with this one so I spent too many hours on this to admit in writing.

The table

The table

Love Log

The food came together pretty easily as I provided a few dishes and then asked some family members to bring some as well. I really wanted to make these cute little ‘mini-wedding-cakes’ I saw on pinterst, (Darn you pintrest!!!)  but I wasn’t able to get them as cute as the pictures. They looked okay but the taste totally made up for their lackluster look. They were the melt-in-your-mouth yummy roll out cookies. I could have eaten the whole tray! I also made some cup cakes but that was more for the little ones at the shower. I had fun decorating them as well but again, not the prettiest cupcakes. The winner had to be the angel food cake. I can’t recall where I found the recipe but it had layers of lemon flavored cream with fresh fruit on top. It was sooo delicious!!

I decided NOT to DIY the invitations but instead made them using an online company that allows for personalization of the invitations. I decided to send out a ‘save the date’ card for the shower in advance which was a DIY so I opted to save some time and just order the actual invites.

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Cupcakes

The biggest take-aways I had from this shower was the first stop should always be the dollar store and to check out all of the cool

Light Angel Cake

Light Angel Cake

ideas on the web. (I looked through many other bridal blogs, party planning blogs and such before getting started.) Another key tip, divide and conquer. I am a control freak so I have a tough time pulling off such an event with others but if you can handle assigning a task or two to family or friends-do it. We all want to be superwoman but even she needs help sometimes. As far as the budget, keep all of your receipts and tally them up. Even the dollar items add up quickly.

When it rains it pours 😉

Good luck with your shower.

Monster High DIY

My one and only little girl turned 8 on Valentine’s Day. Lucky me to have a little princess on such a lovely holiday right? 😉 Well every year I ask her what kind of celebration she would like and if she would like me to make her cake or buy it. It seems for many of my kids the actual birthday cake is a large part of the birthday present. I like to surprise them with it sometimes but other times I let them select it and then help make it.

We’ll in this case she requested a ‘Monster High’ birthday and asked that I make her cake. She was nice enough to tell me that although I used to teach Home Ec I am not a professional and she is okay with the cake not being perfect. (S0 glad she had her expectations in check)IMG_3242

After searching the web for various Monster High cakes I selected three I thought I could pull off and let her choose from there. She picked the one with the doll in it and told me we could use one of the dolls she already owns. She brought me ‘Draculaura’ who apparently has the same birth date. Being this was my first time making this type of cake I decided to document it.

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1. I didn’t want to buy a new cake pan so I used the Betty Crocker bake & fillpan which I already had.

2. I baked according to directions but added an 8″ round pan base to help give it more height. (Those dolls are tall!!)IMG_0760

3. I used a long knife to hollow out a section for the doll to stand although she was still a bit too tall so I bent her legs to make it work. 🙂

4. Per request I used black and pink frosting. (FYI: If you start with chocolate  frosting it’s much easier to make black frosting)

IMG_08015. I followed the pattern on her actual dress to make it look as if it was one  large dress.

6. I used a piece of styrofoam cut in a circle as a base which I then wrapped with tinfoil. I didn’t want to put candles on the actual cake so I used the tips of my frosting tools to make holes in the foam base to push the candles in.

7. Ta da! Perfect? – No. But she loved it and that’s all that matters. 🙂

Dreamin’ up a DIY

As a little girl I played barbies, played house, etc. and had all kinds of little girl dreams of what my future husband would be like. They usually involved a knight in shining armor on a white horse or a prince of some sort. I have to admit, I got all I dreamed of an more.

He is so stinkin’ amazing! One of his ‘Menne’ talents have to be his handyman skills. I can be a pretty demanding woman because I tend to like things in what some may refer to as apple-pie-order. (Yes, I will admit to being a control freak). In order to keep things neat and orderly with 5 kids there have been some things I wish for and things I dream up that I don’t even know even exists. Somehow, someway he manages to understand what I am conjuring up and then makes it happen.

After our more recent DIY I decided I should share my ideas and his talents to anyone else who may have similar problems and provide some insight into how we deal with them. – And of course brag about my awesome husband 🙂

Problem #1: Garage Storage

With a large family garage storage 1we have a lot of stuff; bikes, camper, trikes, toys, powerwheels, wagon, strollers, lawn mower, snow-blower, hockey equipt., etc. We have a 3 stall garage and 2 vehicles so one might assume we have enough room. Not so 😦 I prefer that we part the vehicles in the garage and also like storing the camper in the 3rd stall which leaves little space for all of those other things. I wanted a way to hang the bicycles up from the ceiling but yet wanted to be able to reach them on my own. I laughingly asked for a way to magically pull the ceiling down with a rope…We’ll ask and you shall receive because this is what my husband came up with. All of the kids bikes are now within my reach and yet the little kids toys are still able to be stored and taken out for use very easily. I love it! (He also added a shelving system for the kids hockey equipment which saved space as well)

Problem #2: Entry Way

We have a locker system for our family when we enter the house through the garage but places to hang up coats, put on shoes, etc. when guests come has proven to be a challenge. We had a small piece of furniture with had hooks on it and a bench connected to it but it had been moved a few too many times and was broken and really too small for the area. Feeling like the entry way was not a functioning part of our home and without a place for people to take off their shoes without getting water and dirt on the hard floors I decided it entry waywas time for a change. As luck would have it, many stores have specific ‘entry way solutions.’ Who knew?? I guess not me. We’ll, after searching many DIY blogs, articles and stores this is what I dreamed up. A large rug to entry way 2allow for moving with shoes and a place to put them, a bench to sit down and put your shoes on, a place to hang up coats, a shelf, frames and mirror to give it more of a home feel. Of course my husband was able to deliver. After a trip to Ikea & Menards that is.

We removed the trim and inserted storage cubes are from Ikea to serve as a bench. The pillows/cushions didn’t fit perfectly but I decided close enough. The shelf, frames and mirror were also Ikea. The hooks & rug came from Menard’s. The square frame is a shadow box which houses the skeleton keys that were the actual keys from our first house. I now feel this part of the house is really connected to the rest and completes our home.