House Rules

18 September 2013   //     13 comments   //   design, diy, happy, step away from the screen, type

Hey kids! Not sure if you noticed or not, but I haven’t been here in a while. My 365 project got derailed a little bit. First it was because I was busy. Then it was because I was actually spending a lot more time away from my screen.  Then I got busy again, and somewhere along the way, I decided to let myself off the hook and pick it back up when I had the wherewithal. Or not. We’ll see.

Meanwhile… I thought it might be time for another story about something I stepped away from the screen and made. Yeah? Okay! This story has a few “parts” to it, so I thought I’d break it down into bite size pieces.

Act 1 –

Scene 1:
About a year and a half ago, I started writing our family’s “house rules.” I had seen a few of these lists floating around the Internet and really liked what they were all about. Especially in a house with kids. So I started working. Not diligently, but whenever something occurred to me, I would add it to the list. I kept the list on Evernote so it would be with me wherever I was.

Scene 2:
One night I was sitting on my couch looking around the living room. The staircase is a dominant feature of that room because it is right smack in the middle of it. All our walls are painted different colors, but the stairs are white wood. It occurred to me that I needed to do something creative with the stairs. I mean, here it was, a giant canvas right in the middle of the living room and it was just plain white. So I added that to my ever-present, ever-growing list of “things to think about and do someday.”

Act 2 –

Scene 1:
The house rules were coming along nicely, but there was a problem: Where was I going to put it once it was finished? We don’t have a ton of walls in our house (years ago previous owners knocked down most of the walls turning a boxy, compartmentalized, 1930′s era bungalow into an open, airy, modern feeling home. We love it, but we don’t have as many places to hang things as we might like.), and most of those walls were already exhibiting art, as we’d lived in the house for 6 years.

Scene 2:
One daydreamy afternoon, I’m thinking about our stairs, and what fun thing I could create for them, when suddenly it all comes together for me. The house rules! On the stairs! One rule per step. I counted the steps (13) and opened the house rules document. I had 9 rules. Surely I could come up with 4 more.

Act 3 –

Scene 1:
The stairs were, upon close inspection, pretty banged up. 6 years of a family of 4 on white stairs? Yeah. Might need a little paint. So that was the first part of the project. meanwhile, I was trying to figure out the best way to get the words on the stairs. I considered freehand painting, sharpie, and stencil painting, but I’m a fairly compulsive person (understatement), and I know that any imperfections would drive me crazy. Finally I decided on vinyl. Choosing the typeface and, more importantly, the color took a while — the stairs are surrounded by yellow, sage green, red, and brown walls. What color would work with all of those? We ultimately decided on a steely blue grey. And practical, clean DIN for the font. I designed the words and had them printed at my favorite sign company for about $40.

Scene 2:
Got the vinyl back as one big sheet. While I cut the lines apart, I also stressed about how to apply them so they’d be straight and also spaced the same distance from the wall (remember — compulsive). I decided left-aligned would work better than centered, and would also look more modern.

Act 4 –

They came out about a million times better than I even hoped they would. And the kids love them. And I love them. And we have even invented a game around them. We frequently find our cat, Mark, hanging out in the middle of the stairs. So we decided he would choose our rule of the day. Any time someone walks by the steps and sees Mark there, they yell out the rule he’s sitting on: “Mark says WORK HARD!!” Or “Mark says, SHARE!”

Here’s the complete list of our house rules. I strongly encourage you to think about what yours would be, even if you don’t turn them into something on display. It’s pretty interesting to consider which behaviors are important enough to you and your family that you would classify them as “rules.”

Be Kind.
Laugh. A lot.
Work Hard.
Play Fair.
Tell the Truth.
Offer to Help.
Ask Nicely.
Hug and Kiss.
Say Thank You.
Respect Others.


Clever Wrapping Paper

21 September 2011   //     1 comment   //   clever, diy


Check out this rad wrapping paper. Can you tell what it is?


Isn’t that brilliant? Security envelopes! Not only does it look awesome, but it’s probably in your house right this minute. With more arriving any day now!

Here’s the whole story, created by Charissa from The Gifted Blog

(Found on Wantist.)


shrinky dink valentines

16 February 2010   //     2 comments   //   design, diy, kids

When you’ve got that creative, um, inclination and you’ve got Elementary School aged kids, Valentines day can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Oh the possibilities! But oh, the work to get them all made for every kid in each of your kids’ classes.

This year we went Shrinky Dinks. 54 of them. Zoe and Lucy decided we would make hearts for the girls and stars for the boys.

We punched holes in them all. Then added some beaded chain.

Lucy and Zoe love hanging things on their book bags, and they had that in mind as we created these. So we made paper hang tags with “hang” messages on them: “Wanna hang out?” and “I like hanging around with you!” and “Hang in there!”

A little goofy, but perfect for 7 yr olds. And they looked great all together on our coffee table!



09 February 2010   //     1 comment   //   clever, diy, funny ha ha

I’m sure I’m the last one on this bandwagon, but I just stumbled upon Regretsy, a satirical Etsy. An archive of crafts gone wrong. Clever and funny stuff.


etsy + coolmompicks valentines

02 February 2010   //     Comments Off   //   design, diy

Cool Mom Picks Etsy Valentines

So CoolMomPicks and Etsy had a baby! Actually, it was a Valentine design contest. Did you participate? I hope you won!

The winners are now available for purchase — in plenty of time for VDay (or Friendship Day as we call it at my kids’ Montessori school). 12 black-and-white line art designs in PDF form that you can download, print and color with your kids.

They’re adorable. And I love the different styles that arise from crowdsourced art. Go get them here.

Meanwhile, we’re cooking up a project of our own in UpsideUp land. I’ll share with you soon.

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?


diy lens cap saver

18 January 2010   //     Comments Off   //   clever, design, diy, form + function, photography

DIY Lenscap saver

Got an empty shampoo bottle and some free time? Why not make yourself this fantastic lens cap holder for your camera! New-to-me inventor Benvelo has provided templates and step-by-step instructions for you to DIY. It’s a little on the complicated side, but with super cool results.

Heck. You can even make it cute.

Find the complete project here.

(Thanks Wired Gadgets, via