I am not what you would call inherently organized. This never bothered me until I got married. Jason was the neater of our duo, which sadly (as all neater spouses do), he noticed. I am a pile-maker. He is a declutterer. I felt as if my piles were off to the side. He felt as if he was always tripping over them. He handled this with little complaining and a lot of laughing at our differences of opinion concerning geography. I began to notice my own piles. Jason began to let it go. Somehow, we met in the middle and, for the most part, kept a pretty tidy house (with my piles neatly hidden). Then, we entered toddler parenthood.
Two things happened. 1) We realized that we had been married for 8 years. Our belongings, which were once easily transported in a tiny Uhaul pulled by a 2-door Saturn had reproduced at the rate of fruit flies, now requiring moving vans (plural). 2) Audrey entered toddlerhood, a stage where a child's items seem to multiply at the rate of aphrodisiac-induced fruit flies AND she stopped napping, which put an end to my mid-day decluttering rituals. 3) Okay, I suppose there is a third force at work here. I tend to choose craft projects, trips to the zoo, gardening, going to the gym (insert any other activity you wish) over cleaning or organizing. Any day. Hence, the current state of our kitchen (or any other room in our house you care to substitute here).
The picture above was taken this afternoon, but could be any day with other objects of clutter standing in. Audrey's discarded school items; a grocery bag filled with baby hand-me-downs from a generous neighbor; a hat that never made it to the closet; a folder of mail and magazines I'm pretending I'll get to later; a bag from yesterday's gym excursion; a bag of knitting; I'm sure there are some bills tucked under that pile somewhere. The counter you see belongs to the kitchen desk, something the builder threw into the blueprints to add, ahem, functionality to the homeowners' lives. I've yet to make it function. But I will not be deterred.
One thing that the impending birth of a child brings about in me is the need to create systems (I have no medical proof, but would argue that there is an organizational hormone that kicks in during the last trimester, particularly month 9). I can only stare at the kitchen counters for so long before I must get out and do something about them. Yesterday, armed with coupons, I ran to the fabric store in search of cork board, ribbon, linen, and upholstery tacks to make a ribbon board like the ones in Martha Stewart's Good Things for Organizing.
I think I check Stewart's book out from the library every other month. I keep flipping through the pages, stashing away ideas for all rooms of the house, and daydreaming about a day when I can tell you exactly where to find our staple gun (all the while taking comfort in the fact that Stewart, herself, gives a nod to her housekeepers and assistants in her introduction saying that if she can't find an item, she "can be certain they can" - followed by the thought, well, if Martha Stewart can't keep track of her stuff with all of these organizational systems and help, then what iota of a shot does a pregnancy-mush-brained chaser of a toddler have? But I didn't dwell on these thoughts for long, having a project at hand). An assistant or housekeeper not in my budget, I opted for starting with the ribbon board.
Stewart uses Homasote board for her ribbon boards, which sounds like a fantastic product (and is apparently available at Menards), but I needed fabric for this project as well as some others I'm hoping to get to, and well, Menards doesn't have that. So I substituted a magnetic cork board that I found on sale at Joanns. Stewart suggests covering the board with linen, a fabric that I substituted with a linen/cotton mix when I found almost a yard-length remnant in a 50%-off bin. A couple $1 spools of different sizes of black ribbon and a pack of small black upholstery tacks and I was set.
The steps were pretty simple. Wrap the fabric around the board and use a staple gun (once I scoured the house to find it) to secure it to the back side (see the third photo). I serged the edges of my fabric beforehand, just to keep it from fraying. (You may notice some extra seams on the back of board, that's because I misjudged how much fabric I needed, and rather than waste the piece I had already cut, I just added a bit more fabric to each side). Next, add the ribbon in any decorative pattern that you wish, using the upholstery tacks to secure it. My lines are not perfect, since I freehanded the design rather than using a measuring tape. I'm sure that's not the Martha Stewart way (I'm also sure she's never had to add fabric to the edges of her project because she cut the fabric too short). But, I figure, if someone is spending their time in my kitchen contemplating the straightness of my ribbon board lines, well, the conversation or the food has gone horribly wrong. Last, hardware is supposed to be added to hang the board to the wall. My board came with hardware built in, so rather than follow the book, I sewed a couple of buttonholes into the fabric that line up with the existing hardware holes (see the picture above). When it comes time to hang it, I will cut the buttonholes open and fit the screws through them (I have no idea if this will work or not).
And, voila, a new ribbon board to help me make our kitchen desk a bit more functional. I haven't hung my board yet. I have enough space to make another (and enough ribbon, tacks, and fabric left as well) and hang them side-by-side. So another board or dry erase board, calendar, or other such item may be in our near future. Until then, things are looking a little clearer. Now if only I could make that mail/magazine folder disappear.