Adding Wheels to Baskets

I keep a basket in the hallway that leads to the boy’s bedrooms.  I use it to place small toys and items that I find around the house after the boys have gone to bed.  I don’t want to wake them up (especially my toddler…yikes) so I place the misplaced toys in this basket at night and in the morning, I place them back in their designated home.

End of story.  Perfect system, right?

Good system, yes.  Perfect, not so much.

I love woven baskets because they add warmth and texture to any space.  What I don’t like is how they are not easy to clean and they are a magnet for dust bunnies.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

I decided that the best solution was to add wheels to the basket, so that sweeping and vacuuming was easier and more effective.  I found some adhesive wheels on Amazon because screwing in wheels was not an option.

You can find these HERE in my Amazon store, but I am sure that any hardware store near you will also have them or similar ones.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

 

I followed the instructions on the package and adhered the wheels to my basket.  I also added a bit of glue to secure them further, considering the weave of the basket.  These wheels are intended for flat surfaces so I compensated with the addition of glue.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

 

Here it is with all four wheels.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

And here it is back in its place waiting for Elmo, Barney, or my favorite…tiny legos.

It’s hard to tell the difference (and that was the idea) but it is so much easier now to clean under the basket, and the wheels keep the basket cleaner.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

 

When I start spray painting, nothing in my home is safe.  I think it will be the same with wheels, no basket will be safe.

It’s worth mentioning that these wheels don’t swivel and I don’t know how much weight they can bear, but they are perfect for a simple project like this.  I think they may also work with under-bed storage since dust bunnies are another reason that I don’t keep anything under my bed.  I also have wheels on the baskets that I keep on my closets floors.  It is a simple solution that makes cleaning easier, and I am a fan of easy.

Can you think of anything that you can add these wheels to in your home?  Do you have the same problem with baskets and dust bunnies?  If so, I hope this will help!

Until next time,

Maria

 

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Creating a Smoothie Station

Smoothies have become so popular in the last couple of years.  It makes sense because we are all becoming more conscious of the ingredients that we consume and we want to avoid sugar-laden carbonated drinks.  We are also very busy and smoothies are portable, quick to make, and pack a lot of nutrition.

I think the healthiest smoothie that you can drink, is the one that you make yourself.  Why?  How many of you (like me) have gone into a smoothie chain, assuming you were getting a healthy drink, only to realize that they were using strawberries dunked in sugar syrup, or adding sugar and ice so that they could use less fruit.  Nope, I won’t pay 5.00 for that!  I prefer to spend the money buying quality ingredients and making my smoothies at home.

SMOOTHIE Organization

After buying all these awesome ingredients, I needed an equally awesome way to store them.

The cabinet where I kept all my smoothie supplies, was usually my “messy” cabinet.  It was not an absolute disaster, but it wasn’t practical either.  All the little packages of cocoa, flax-seed, chia seed, needed a new home.

Here is what the space used to look like.

Smoothie Organization

Packages everywhere.  Some of them were not even resealable.  I needed containers.

Smoothie Organization

I found these OXO containers at Target and I purchased them in two different sizes to accommodate the different products.  If you want to purchase them online, you can find them HERE, in my amazon store.

You may remember that they are the same containers that I used to create my Coffee Station.  You can read about that HERE.

Smoothie Organization

I also decided that I wanted to move the shelves around, to better fit the new containers.  I removed the cabinet door so that the shelves would slide out.

I also went ahead and gave the cabinet a good cleaning.

Smoothie Organization

I placed the shelves back after measuring the height that I needed.

Smoothie Station

I then emptied all the packages into the new containers and added labels.

Everything went back in the cabinet.

SMOOTHIE organization

Notice how narrow I made the shelf holding the mugs.   The coffee cabinet is right next to this one and I keep my mugs in here.  I like everything to match, except coffee mugs.  I like collecting different ones.

SMOOTHIE Station

In the very top, I placed the larger cans and containers.  Since I lowered that shelf, I can now reach up and grab whatever I need.  Before I did this, I could never reach the top shelf.

Smoothie Organization

I finished the project by hanging a clipboard to the cabinet.  I found this clipboard in the dollar section at Target.  I plan to keep smoothie recipes here.

SMOOTHIE Organization

Here is the finished product!

Smoothie Organization

It really is a pleasure to open up this cabinet now, considering how it looked before.

Please share with me if you make smoothies at home and what are your favorite types.  This week, I will share on Facebook a couple of my favorite smoothie recipes so stay tuned!

Shaking it up! (my corniness has no limits)

Maria

Organizing The “No Junk” Drawer

This week, let’s take 10 minutes to tackle the junk drawer.  Instead of just tidying up what is already in there, lets resolve to make it a NO JUNK drawer or at the very least, less junk.

Lets face it, a drawer with the prestigious name, “The Junk Drawer” is the most likely to receive the least amount of love.  This is also the reason that its one of the most cringe-worthy areas in the kitchen.

I have always tried to keep the items in this drawer to a minimum, but lately I have simplified it further.

Here is what my “no junk” drawer looks like now.

Junk Drawer Organization

 

I have already shared with you that I don’t have the most spacious kitchen, and I didn’t want to dedicate a whole drawer for miscellaneous items.  The way I look at it is, if I dedicate a whole drawer for this, I will find a way to fill it up.  I gave myself half a drawer to work with and it made me rethink what I would keep in this space.

Half of the drawer is taken up by a steak knife block.  It fits perfectly in the drawer, it doesn’t shift and keeps the baskets next to it, in place.

Every junk drawer will look different and I encourage you to only keep items that you frequently use.  In my case, I keep scissors, writing tools, tape, memo pads and chip clips.  (By the way, I used to have like 10 chip clips in there and we rarely buy chips.  I also have a ton of workout gear and…well…back to the drawer).

Junk Drawer Organization

I also keep a little plastic container to collect Box Tops for my son’s school.  Otherwise, I know I would just throw them in the drawer and they would get lost since they are so small.

Junk Drawer Organization

So what are the steps to creating a “no junk” drawer that works for you?

1. Empty the contents of the drawer onto a nearby surface.

2.  Categorize items into Keep / Discard / Relocate  (later, you can relocate items that don’t belong in this drawer).

3.  Clean the drawer.  If you will use clear containers, you may decide to place a pretty liner on the drawer after cleaning.

4.  Containerize this space according to the items you are keeping.  I chose not to use a drawer divider made for junk drawers because it would take up the whole drawer and I would feel compelled to fill the spaces, even if I didn’t need them.  Instead, I chose clear containers with a colorful non-skid backing that I found at Target.  They had different sizes and you can customize your space.

Taking 10-15 minutes to do this small task will not only make your drawer pretty, it will also make it easier to find and put away items.  This will keep your drawer organized for a long time (or until your husband loses his keys and turns every drawer upside-down.  This may or may not depict an actual event that may or may not have occurred in my life.)

What else do you keep in the junk drawer?

Until next time!

Maria

 

 

Cabinet Pantry Organization

I don’t have a pantry per-se.  I have a set of deep cabinets that flank my refrigerator.  I use these kitchen cabinets as a pantry.

Perhaps you have a similar setup or are fortunate enough to have a large closet pantry or a walk-in pantry (swoon!).   Either way, we all need to maximize the space we have so that we can see what we have and need at-a-glance.

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Deep cabinets are awesome.  They also present the challenge that things get lost towards the back of the cabinet.  Basically, the good part is that a lot of stuff fits, the bad part is that a lot of stuff fits.

The pull-out shelf unit pictured below is awesome for deep cabinets!  I purchased it about nine years ago at Home Depot and it was so worth the money!

I store most of my cans and pasta in this rack and I love that it pulls out to reveal everything that is towards the back.

Pantry Organization

HERE is a similar (nicer, more expensive) version but you can probably find something similar to mine in a hardware store.  It is very sturdy and holds so much weight!

This is what it looks like when I pull it out of the cabinet.

PANTRY Organization

The very top is perfect for pasta and flat cans of tuna.

PANTRYOrganization

In the other side of the cabinet are the snacks.

My husband added a few narrow shelves to hold smaller items.

PANTRY Organization

One of those shelves holds this garment divider that I use as a snack divider.

We like KIND bars.  🙂

PANTRY Organization

Underneath, are the boys’ snacks.  These are the two bottom shelves and therefore the most accessible for them.

I also have a basket full of asian condiments.

Pantry Organization

Above the snacks, is another pull-out drawer (used to hold chips) that now holds my toddlers plates and lots of beans.

We like BEANS and KIND bars.

PANTRY Organization

Above the pull-out drawer is another narrow shelf that holds the kids’ pasta and sometimes a loaf of bread.

I could be making lobster thermidor for dinner and they would prefer one of these colorful boxes.  Go figure…

PANTRY Organization

Above the pasta, are three lazy suzans.  I am not tall and without the turntables, the top shelf is otherwise inaccessible to me.

The one towards the front has random condiments, and behind it is another turntable that holds vinegars.

In the slot next to the oils, I place the kids cereal dispenser (pictured below).

Pantry Organization

The very top shelf is full of oils.  The lazy suzan holds everyday oils, such as coconut and olive oils.

In the back are extra bottles of vegetable oil.  I rarely deep fry, but when I do, I use a whole bottle!

PANTRY Organization

That’s my cabinet pantry!  Do you also have this kind of pantry?  How do you maximize your space?

In a couple of days I will post a step-by-step pantry makeover that will benefit any pantry style!

Until then,

I will be making beans and eating chocolate-covered peanut bars (because I don’t actually know how to make lobster thermidor)!

Maria 

Organizing Grains

I shared this blog entry last year but decided to share it once more since it pertains to our kitchen series and it is a good tip for storing grains:

The rice that I purchase comes in these cute little plastic containers. I love the look. The problem is that I buy different kinds of rice, so I stack the containers and they end up falling out of the pantry. I keep the rice in the highest cabinet in my kitchen and I need the items up there to be sturdy so that I can grab them with no problem. I am 5’3″ on a really perfect and sunny day.

As a solution to my problem, I decided to move the rice into these “Lock-and-Lock” containers that I had purchased years ago and was no longer using. I purchased these on QVC but I couldn’t find the set to link here. Instead, I found similar containers (that even had a pour spout ) on Amazon and you can find them HERE.  Also, HERE is a link for the smaller ones.  I use smaller ones for the items that I don’t buy in bulk.

Of course, any set that is stackable will work.

Rice Storage

I can make white rice without a recipe but brown rice for example has a different recipe to follow. Have you noticed that based on the brand of brown rice they will give you different cooking times? I usually use the same brand and I printed these small labels (that I made on Microsoft Word) and typed the suggested recipe. I placed it on the outside of the container using double stick tape. If you have the patience you can laminate the label before sticking it on the container and that will make it water-resistant. I love and admire patient people. I really do.

Rice Organization

I did the same for quinoa. I could do a whole post on how much I love quinoa.

Rice Organization

I used the rest of the matching containers to put arborio rice, cracker meal and polenta. As you can see on the very side of the cabinet there is a label that says “oatmeal”. I did that to remind myself that there is a large container of oatmeal behind the rice. Only do this for items that don’t get used weekly. They can be stored in the very back of these deep cabinets and the label will remind you that it’s there. Otherwise, you will buy an item that you already have and you end up with enough granola to feed the church!

Rice Organization

That’s it! Another quick, easy project to make your life easier!

In a couple of days we will finish tacking the rest of the kitchen!

Happy Organizing!

Maria

The Painted Smile

I love the color green and had painted the boys bathroom a celery green about 7 years ago.  The paint held up well, but I was getting tired of the color and it started to look dull.  After years of cleaning the walls from little marks here and there, it was time to make a change.

Kid's Bathroom

I went into Sherwin Williams and took a whole bunch of their paint samples.  I brought them home and placed them side-by-side.  I then chose what I thought was the perfect shade of blue for my kids’ little bathroom.  I chose an appropriately named color, it’s called Watery.

Kid's Bathroom

I also purchased some rollers, a tray and a paintbrush for edging.  I was excited to start!

As soon as I got home, I realized that I purchased the rollers thinking that we already had the roller frame (or poll) in our garage.  I couldn’t find it.

I was so anxious to start, that I decided to paint the bathroom with a paintbrush.  It seemed like an excellent idea at the time.  I would take advantage of my toddler’s nap time, and I would paint a room.  With only a small paintbrush.  Genius.  Interrupted.

Boy's Bathroom

I start painting the first wall and my arm starts to hurt.  I start losing steam ON THE FIRST WALL.  This isn’t good.  The small bathroom starts looking like Versailles from my vantage point.

Kid's Bathroom

I start convincing myself that the WHOLE bathroom didn’t actually need painting. I convince myself that only one wall should be painted.  I convince myself that the contrast between the blue and green is actually better than re-painting the whole bathroom. I convince myself that broccoli actually tastes better than cake.

But deep inside, I know the truth.  Cake tastes better than broccoli .  I must finish the project that I began.

Also, my husband was out-of-town and groveling for help, like with my Master Closet Remodel, wasn’t an option.  You can read about that “adventure” HERE.

Boy's Bathroom

So I kept going and positioned and re-positioned our ladder “cirque du soleil style” until I finished.  My paintbrush and I were done.  We did good.  We were rock stars.

I love the new color and I want to share some pictures with you.  What do you think?

Boys Bathroom

I did end up leaving a small nook at the very top, in the old green shade.  I added some blue pots to bring in some blue from the walls.  Not sure if I love the green nook yet.  Maybe I should go ahead and paint that too.  I have to wait and see.  Its a small area that I could paint it really fast, even with a paintbrush.

I hung up the towels and the shelves.  (The photograph does not accurately show the color. There is no natural light in this bathroom, making good photos a challenge.)

Kid's Bathroom

I purchased the towels from Frontgate and I love the quality.  They are holding up well and were a perfect match to the new color.

Kid's Bathroom

The shelf and a more accurate picture of the color.

Boy's Bathroom

Since my husband was out-of-town, he had no idea that I was doing this.

As soon as he got home, I proudly told him that I had painted the kids’ bathroom…using only a paintbrush.  No roller.

He smiled.

But I knew this smile.  I have given this smile before (Usually to my toddler, when he rushes in to tell me that he has “decorated” my bedroom.  I smile and excitedly say “YOU DID?!” and inside, I immediately start crying).

Boy's Bathroom

There is no joy in that smile.  Only fear.  My husband was afraid.

You see, according to him, he loves my decorating, but my DIY projects…

He says they either culminate in total success or…fear.  I think I have a pretty good batting ratio.  His opinion has no basis.  None that I would admit to.

Regardless, I was hopeful that he would love it as much as I did.  It would make the fact that I didn’t feel my right arm, almost worthwhile.

And…He loved it!  The smile was no longer forced.  He really liked it and so did the boys.

Even this boy.

By the way, that smile gets me every time.  Even when he uses toilet paper as streamers in my room.

Kid's Bathroom

Of course, I found the paint roller pole the next day.  God has a sense of humor.  I am sure of it.

– Maria

Organizing Spices

A new week of kitchen organization is here!

This week, we peek inside the kitchen cabinets and reveal the spices.  I think most of us have 30 spice jars and only regularly use about 5 of them.  It’s ok.  No one wants to drive to the grocery store just to pick up “old bay seasoning” for a special recipe.

The problem is having 3 jars of old bay seasoning because you keep buying it – since you can’t see the other 2 that you already purchased last year.  Unless, you have seafood boils on a weekly basis.  In that case, it’s ok.  It is also ok to invite me.  (I will organize your cabinets if you let me, as a trade-off).

I love the idea of having spices in the kitchen drawer, but I have such a limited amount of drawers in my kitchen, that I choose to keep my spices in my pantry cabinet.

My cabinets are really deep and narrow.  Initially, I purchased tiered spice shelves and placed them the traditional way.  That didn’t work since the cabinet was so narrow and I could only fit one set.  There were always spices behind the tier organizer that were not visible.  I tried placing the larger jars towards the back and labeling the very top of the lid since I could see the label and that helped.

Ultimately, I found the best way to organize my spices is by placing the tiers side-by-side against the cabinet wall.  I added a similar tiered divider to the amazon store and you can find it ” HERE “.  Of course, you can also find these almost anywhere else…Target, Walmart…

I try to buy the same brand of spices, not only because I like the brand, but it adds more of a uniform look.

I also organized the spices alphabetically.  It seems like a crazy thing to do at first and it will take you a little while the first time you do it, but it is worth it – I promise.

Finding spices is so much easier this way, especially when you lose a bit of the visibility of the spices towards the back of the cabinet.  On the other side of the tiers, I place larger, frequently used items like salt and pepper shakers.

I also left enough room for my hand to be able to reach back, without knocking things over.

Organizing Spices

On the wall of the cabinet, I placed an adhesive acrylic box for all the seasoning packets.  I usually only use a sprinkle or two, and then I’m wondering where to put the open packet.  This solves that problem.  I think I purchased it at Walmart.

Spice Organization

 

I do recognize that this method will not work for everyone, but I wanted to share this space with all of you just in case you had a similar-sized cabinet.

We still have a couple of things to touch on before we are done with the kitchen – so until next time,

Spice up your organizing!  (I had to!),

Maria  

Enjoying the Better Part

Let me be the first blogger to welcome you to 2014!  Ok, maybe I am the last.

I have a perfect excuse though.  My husband surprised me with an apple computer for Christmas.  I was so excited to use it, I disconnected my old computer and connected the new shiny silver one.  I sat down to start blogging and then…I had no idea how to even open the internet browser.

GracefulOrder.com

Of course, it took me 20 minutes 2 minutes to figure out how to open the browser but the rest was a new world for me.  Basically, I have spent the last week getting acquainted with this computer and I know that I will love it, once I know how to use it.

About the blog…

I want to do something different this year with the blog.  I want to go room by room, so that we can organize our entire home together.  I didn’t want it to be a “challenge” where you feel pressure to keep up.  We have enough pressure from other venues.  Not here.  Nothing “graceful” about pressure.  I just want you to go at your pace and be inspired to start somewhere.  In a few days, we will start with the kitchen and then move into the rest of the home.

Graceful Order

2014!  My biggest resolution this year is to be Present.  I don’t want to be in a hamster wheel that keeps me from one event to the next, because I want to enjoy today.

I have two boys that still want to share every aspect of their days with me and I want to cherish that.  I want to be more organized so that I can be more spontaneous.  I want an organized kitchen so that I can be inspired to bake cookies and get flour everywhere with the boys.  I want an organized closet so that I can put things away quickly and I can get back to the things that matter.  I want more order so that I can enjoy the disorder.  Does that make any sense?

Of course, this means that I have to say “no” a lot more than I am used to because I am, without a doubt, a people pleaser.  I want to be liked, loved.  Don’t we all want that?  But when we say “yes” to too many things, we indirectly say “no” to others.  I don’t want to say “no” to spending time with the boys, with my husband.  I don’t want to say no to spending time with the Lord and even having some alone time.

And of course, spending time with my apple computer.  I seriously need to YouTube some tutorials (as soon as I find the YouTube icon).

So my resolution is simple but difficult for me to execute.  I want my focus to be on what I am saying “yes” to.  I intend to make memories.  I intend to take less pictures.  Is that a shocker?  It’s kind of crazy because I really see the importance of pictures, but I feel that I stay behind the camera way too much.  I want to create the moments and not worry as much about documenting them.  Here is one moment I had to document last week.  The boys playing at the park and my little one, who insisted on wearing his dino pajamas at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

At the park

I want to let go of guilt.  I always feel like I am not doing enough.  For example, I scrapbook and I am always behind…like years behind.  Will the kids not know how much I love them if I don’t have pictures of every missing tooth and a journal entry about it?  Think about it.  I have like 1 album for my entire childhood…zero journaling…and I feel loved.

We always notice people who seem to do more than us.  I recently shared with a friend something that I read and impacted me.  “We compare our behind-the-scenes with others’ highlight reel”.  No one has it all.  We all fall short somewhere.  So you didn’t bake cookies with your kids this past Christmas.  So what?  There were lots of things that you did do.  So you didn’t work out as much as you would have liked last year.  Don’t let that disappointment keep you from believing in yourself this year.

One of my favorite bible stories is about Martha and Mary.  Jesus and his disciples stay at Martha’s home and she is consumed by working on being a good hostess while Mary (her sister) sits at Jesus feet listening to what he was saying.  Martha eventually complains that Mary is not helping her by saying “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” and Jesus replies…“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

When I first read that scripture I didn’t understand because I tend to be such a doer.  I used to think that her sister should help her and that way she wouldn’t be so stressed out.  But I was wrong.  This is not a story about how being busy is bad.  This is a story about priorities.  Martha is not wrong for serving food, she is not wrong for being a good hostess, she is wrong for being worried and upset over trivial things.  Her priority at that moment was incorrect.

If you have a choice between listening to words that feed your soul and arranging food perfectly on a platter….well…Mary certainly chose the better part.

So I want to remind myself to be more like Mary.

I will not eliminate taking pictures, or journaling, scrapbooking, cooking big meals or any other thoughtful thing that I do for my family and friends to show love.  I do want to eliminate the guilt.  The little voice that always says that I am not doing enough.  I will never be able to do it all, all the time.

I want to put the serving platter down and sit down and listen.  I want to be present.  I want to choose the better part.

And I wish the same for you!

Maria

Organizing Christmas Gifts

I love everything about the holidays.

Except the long lines at the market, in the department stores and the post office.

I don’t know what it is about me and waiting in line.  I realize that no one likes waiting in line but…I could have a shopping cart full to the brim and when I see that there is a long line for checkout…I start to ask myself if I really need anything in the cart (besides my toddler).  🙂  Does this ever happen to you?

Now back to what I love.  Back to the merriness of Christmas.  Back to the beauty of giving.

Christmas Gift List

Back to how to avoid lines.  I avoid the lines by shopping way ahead of time and also shopping online.

I never shop during black Friday unless it is online.  With my fear of lines and crazy mobs at the mall, there is no way that I am leaving the house that day.  Visions of not finding a parking space and women fighting over the last special edition Barbie doll for their little girls, keep me home.  With my doors locked.

I am all about saving money but I find that the deals online match most of the deals at the store and even if I get an extra 5% off on black Friday, it’s just not worth it to me.  I need a cup of lavender chamomile just thinking about it.

Whether you are courageous enough to shop black Friday or just shop another time…have you noticed that there is always that ONE gift that drives you back to the mall during Christmas week?

To avoid forgetting that one gift, I started keeping a Christmas list years ago that keeps me on track for purchases and holiday spending.  I created a similar list for all of you to use.

I do realize that I should have thought of this a couple of weeks ago but I have been wrapping gifts like a madwoman and I figured it would still be useful.  You can either use it to check off the gifts that you already purchased and/or see what you still need to buy.

Here is the list:

Graceful Order Christmas Gift List Copy ”

I hope the list will be helpful!

I am excited about our Christmas breakfast and in a couple of days I will share with you my recipe for Cranberry Scones, so stay tuned!

Until then…Happy Wrapping!

Maria

Breaking out the Spray Paint

Spray Paint Mirror4

This isn’t really a tutorial.  Its more like an idea that you can apply to many things in your home.

Before I was introduced to how easy it is to spray paint an object, I would purchase gold picture frames when I was tired of the silver.  I would want to replace weathered doorknobs instead of just repainting them and so on…

When you get into spray painting you start walking through your home (with a scary look in your eye) looking to see what’s next.  What will you transform next?

I think everyone should have basic colors like an Silver, Gold, Antique Bronze, White, Heirloom White and Black in their spray paint arsenal.

In this case I found the perfect mirror for my master closet but the color was wrong.

Spray Paint Mirror

So I took it outside with a can of Rust-Oleum Silver Metallic and lots of paper to cover the mirror.

Spray Paint Mirror2

And I went to TOWN!

Spray Paint Mirror3

As soon as it dried I put it up in my closet and it was perfect!

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So look around your home.  Is there a patio set that you have been wanting to replace but didn’t want to spend the money?  It is a lot less expensive to buy 3 cans of spray paint than a patio set.  Maybe you have grown tired of some picture frames; give them a refresher coat!

Door knobs also get lots of use and the finish starts to wear quickly.  I need to touch up mine real soon.

So that’s it!  Just an idea to break out the spray paint.  As you read this is there anything you have in mind to tackle next?

Until next time,

Maria

By the way, always spray paint in a well-ventilated area!