Finally, an excuse for a messy desk

clean house, wasted life

Over the weekend, I came across the story, “What a Messy Desk Says about You” in the Sunday New York Times. The article describes how working in a messier environment leads to greater creativity, at least, in the research reported. Honestly, this seemed a bit obvious. Aren’t designers and decorators known for keeping messy inspiration boards, crammed with photos, textiles, drawings and knick-knacks? Aren’t there coffee mugs featuring Einstein’s famous quote, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

More curious to me is the creative energy people put into organization and order. Hence, the elaborate and, yes, creative desk organizing projects popping up all over pinterest.  I cannot help but admire some of the energy and fastidiousness that goes into these projects. But, I am not one of those people, at least when it comes to my desk.

I like my messy desk – yarns strewn, three books open at once, scribbled notes on scraps of paper – a desk like an inspiration board, filled with happy accidents, joyful juxtapositions, a riot of color, images and ideas. Yes, I like it just fine… until I can’t find the scribbled list, the piece of mail, the thread (literal or figurative) that I’m looking for. Frustrating, but not frustrating enough to incite me to organize. Now, with a science-based excuse, I expect my desk will remain in a state of chaos.

* image from a poster available on

Making monsters


Cropping up all over pinterest these days, these monster wreaths seemed like a must-do family project, despite their muppet-iness, or perhaps because of it.

So, one cloudy day last week, we decided to take this project on. We followed this tutorial, substituting 10’ wreath forms so they could be used on bedroom doors or as indoor decorations. (And, if you really want to know , this switch meant we used only about 50 yards of tulle per wreath.)

My plan was to allow each child to make a wreath and to make one myself for my sesame-street-loving nieces. This plan was a bit risky, given (1) the large age range of my children (4 through 13) and (2) the miles of tulle to be knotted.

Happily, my oldest son was game to make a monster wreath to give to his younger cousins. We started painting the eyeballs, deviating from the muppet-style black circles for some.

Then we got down to cutting the tulle and tying it around the wreath forms. I had assumed my 4 year old wouldn’t contribute much and I would basically be making his wreath myself, but he refused my help for the first hour, determinedly knotting strands of tulle, and exercising those fine motor skills. My 7 year old managed to make his entirely on his own and I resisted mightily the urge to “just touch it up.”

All in all, it was a success as a family project. Since there are five of them, I’ve decided to give them names. Kind of like the spice girls, only different. Can you guess which one I made?

Packing Projects and a Pinterest fail

north shore beach

Today, I’m off to spend some time at my mother-in-law’s house near the ocean. It will be fun, yet I’ve been daunted by the packing, schlepping, and general pandemonium of moving the family operation to a new locale.

Aside from the usual clothing and toiletries, we’ll need swim goggles, tennis rackets, rain gear. Possibly a soccer ball, probably bike helmets. The list goes on, but, by far, the packing I am most concerned with is projects. With no day camp planned, we’ll have plenty of time to try out a pinterest project or two.

pinterest sea glass photo

Last year, we tried to make sea glass in a jar. After a few days of rolling around a plastic jar filled with sand, seawater and some broken glass, we had… a jar filled with sand, seawater, and some broken glass. That’s what happens when you don’t click through and read the details: pinterest fail!

 pirate t-shirts

We also made appliqué pirate t-shirts, modeling them on playmobil characters, cutting shapes from quilting fabrics, gluing with fabric glue and then I hand stitched the edges to prevent fraying. Possibly this is sign of my compulsiveness.

For this year, I’m thinking we could try this tutorial on making flashlights, build a play tent, or try a monster wreath. Then again, all of those projects might be a tall order… wish me luck!

*sea glass image from lisaluvz, via pinterest. 

Sidewalk chalk paint and Jackson Pollock


Late last week, we made sidewalk chalk paint, a pinterest inspired project.

We followed a recipe from All things Simple, mixing equal part cornstarch and water and then adding the food coloring. One of my older boys pointed out that this is almost the exact same recipe for Ooobleck, a Dr. Suess inspired concoction pinging around the internet and cropping up in primary school science classes. He also used the phrase “non-Newtonian fluid” – he must have been paying attention when they made it at school.

With much excitement, including some squealing and jumping up and down, we headed outside to paint.


The results were mixed. Going on, the paint was transparent and it only became opaque and chalky as it dried. Perhaps this says something about my two younger children, but they found this delay a bit unsatisfying. Grumbling ensued.

We were painting on our driveway made of brick-colored pavers and a stone path, and these dark surfaces might have muted the colors initially. The effect might be more immediate, more satisfying on a spanking new white sidewalk.

pollock sidewalk paint

No matter. They found a fun way to play with the paint, splattering it, Jackson Pollock style.

Later, we did a quick internet search on Jackson Pollock and came across this amazing intuitive and fun website which allowed them to “paint” Jackson Pollock style by computer, switching colors with the click of the mouse. Fun indeed.

from jackson pollock org

Clever housekeeping: DIY marker organizer

Last week, I decided to orgnize our family art cabinet and one of the first things I took on was the heap of half worn out markers. I remembered seeing a DIY marker organizer project on pinterest. I traced the original source back to a post on a blog called Aunt Peaches, read up on it, and decided to make my own.

DIY marker organizer

I knew I had been saving all those gift wrap tubes for a reason! I dug them out and went to work cutting them to fit a wooden box we had been (unsuccessfully) using to sort papers.

Since my kids will be using this marker organizer, I decided to glue the cardboard together with a hot glue gun. We’ll see how long the markers stay sorted by color.

I’m not sure this qualifies as a craft project, or just clever housekeeping, but it was a thrill to try a new project and even better see the markers prettily organized.

marker organizer