WHAT’S INSIDE: My “House” Tool Box

I assembled a tool box for our lanai-playroom to save me from having to lug down all my supplies when I need to label (or relabel), organize, and repair the kids’ toys and toy bins. Now all I need to bring down is my label maker. Here’s what’s inside:

Scissors from Muji; Pilot pens, Sharpies, correction tape, and sticky pad from National Bookstore; small notepad from Papemelroti – for temporary labeling of bins, to jot down my to-do or to-get lists, and the scissors, for when we redo tags for our toy baskets

Tags from Common Room, crochet hook, string from Wilcon, masking tape from National Bookstore, and washi tape from Muji – we use the crochet hook to thread the tags for the toy baskets. I use the masking tape for a variety of things, and the washi tape with the sticky note for temporary labels. I find that Muji still makes the best (i.e. really sticks) washi tapes even though the designs are limited.

Measuring tape, small tool set, tiny screwdriver – all from Wilcon; plastic container with batteries – I need the different sized screwdrivers for when we replace batteries for battery-operated toys. I’m happy to report we are down to only 3 battery operated toys for this room so far. The measuring tape is because I always seem to be measuring stuff in that room, whether for window treatments or measuring console tops or shelves for trays or containers.

I got 3 pp containers from Muji to corral everything inside my house tool box:

As you can see, everything fits nicely inside. The blue plastic container for my extra batteries is old, from SM Department Store. I love that this tool box is tall enough so I can keep my pens and scissors upright.

My house tool box is from my fave, Anna Banana Rustics. It’s really such a happy find for me, since it’s decorative and functional at the same time.

(I often get so tempted to buy all these cute farmhouse decor for sale in IG, and I admit I’ve succumbed repeatedly in the past. Now I’ve learned to reign in buying knick knacks and keep remembering this tool box – trying to get something which not only sparks joy but is actually useful. It’s just more me).


What are your thoughts on placeholders? I’ve personally resisted them since getting into the whole “buy only what you truly love” thing, and usually prefer to leave a spot empty until I find the piece that sings to me. This is especially true for decorative pieces. For more practical matters, like organizing kitchen items or closets, I’m not as particular, because I like to put things away neatly then just eventually upgrade my storage containers. But my concern with buying placeholders for decorative pieces is that I might end up wasting money – I know I’ll most likely donate or give away the “transition” piece soon as I find the item that, uh, really sparks joy.

In this case, for the corner bookshelves in our lanai-playroom, in my list of “frills”, I want a small terra cotta or beige fabric planter bag for the top shelf, and a pretty woven bag for my swiss hook to hold my extra supplies. Well, I haven’t found my planter, and I inquired and the woven bag I love is expensive! Well, too expensive to just hold foam edges and electrical outlet covers! I figured when I actually buy the bag, sure I’ll put it in the lanai to use as storage when I’m not actually wearing it, but might as well get the little round woven bag I truly LOVE for summer. So again, I told myself to wait.

But then I did end up finding placeholders – things I already owned, not items I bought to use for the time being until I find The One(s)! So I guess that makes it all right in this case?

For the small pot for my top shelf, I ended up using this wooden planter and faux moss ball I got from Daiso:I originally bought those when I was trying to figure out how to DIY a bird house for Bo’s mechanical bird. I ended up not using them (obvs, from this post), so now they’re the placeholders for my top shelf. I’m not a fan of faux plants, so I do still want a sweet little terra cotta pot or fabric planter when I finally find the plant that sings to me.

And while I waffle about my little woven bag, I decided to use this Muji fabric bag I already have. I bought several of these when I was in my hoarder phase, so I figured might as well use it now:Placeholders after all. I may not have spent money NOW but I did in the past when I got these things without any real purpose or concrete idea how to use them. Sigh. This attempt at intentional living (and intentional purchases!) is such a learning process.


Started: 22 February 2019 | Completed:


Our lanai-playroom as of 09 March 2019

I have been taking my sweet time with decorating the lanai-playroom.   Since I want to be intentional about it, I’ve been really enjoying the process, and picking things up only when they feel right; I have a running list of decorative but functional items I would love for this room below.  (Recently, I’ve liked rereading this post by Julie Blanner to remind me to take my time searching for just the right/perfect piece, no matter how small).  Looking back on my lanai-playroom posts, it is apparent that I first focused on being practical and tackling all the essentials for this space (in line with my “Get Real Renovations” goal), but now that I can move on to decorating, I look forward to discovering or picking up an item which, to borrow that oh-so-popular term right now, sparks joy (like plants!). I’ll update this post accordingly, too.

ZONE 1: Corner Bookshelves

  • complete the items for my “house tool box”04.05.19 done!
    • everything I need to organize, label, and re-label toys and toy bins are in that tool box; it now saves me from having to lug all my supplies from upstairs
  • a small beige planter and a plant for the top shelf
    • for the planter, either a small terra cotta pot, or a neutral paper bag or fabric planter, because I want to incorporate something beige for that top shelf
    • for the plant, I don’t want something with overhang, and no succulents, but I’m still keeping my eye out for something special, and one that prefers filtered light
  • my plant spritzer
    • either a vintage-looking metal one, or something clean in white, or dusky blue, or a pale sage green
    • the spritzer has to be on the top shelf, too, because Bo is kind of trigger happy with those things, and I still supervise him when he waters our plants
  • a small round woven bag to hang from the side of the bookshelves
    • to hang from the white distressed swiss hook – a basket bag to add texture to that corner
    • I plan to use it to store: my extra foam edges, the extra fabric for Bo’s bird house, and the extra Glade refill
    • add a string of wooden tassel beads, also neutral, for more texture, and because I find them cute
  • container on the 2nd shelf for the art prints I switch out
    • right now I am using a little white wooden crate, but I think I need something with a cover to protect the prints from dust – I’d prefer if the prints were standing, so I might use plastic card cases and DIY a little stand for inside the container
  • a white planter on a wooden plate, and a plant, for the 2nd shelf
    • I didn’t like the black plant pot I initially put there, pretty as it is – I want to keep the entire palette there very pale and muted
    • prop op that planter in a kraft paper-wrapped book (or books) or use the vintage books I got from Biblio, for some height
  • minimalist art, or hanging plants for that wall/ceiling above those corner shelves
    • sayang the pin light eh – it’s like it’s begging for artwork over there
    • alternatively, I’d like a macrame hanging plant holder, or two, to also disguise the patched parts of the wall because I haven’t bothered retouching the paint

ZONE 2:  Interior Lanai Glass Sliding Doors

  • slim silver curtain rods and brackets
    • mounted inside, to cover the dark glass
  • 2 panels of thick 86″ length curtains03.15.19 from Simply Curtains [here]
    • got the same cream brocade length thick curtains from this brand Simply Curtains (in SM Marikina), which I’ll also have hemmed by Ate Milette, our suking mananahi, to 85″ length so they just kiss the floor (identical with the same curtains facing the dining room side)
  • figure out the valance situation for the exposed part of the lanai door frame
  • something to hang above the lanai doorway

ZONE 3: Toys/Media Console

  • large potted tree for narrow corner beside electrical outlet02.28.19 with white pot from Heim (Wilcon) [here]
    • I have very tight corners on both ends of that console, and they’ve been a challenge to deal with – for this one, I really needed a tall narrow plant pot to conceal the electrical outlet from curious little fingers
  • black hanging plant bracket at opposite wall from potted tree02.28.19 from Wilcon [here]
    • need something to balance off the height of that tree, and I’ve been crushing on these cast iron hang plant brackets from Wilcon for the longest time; finally allowed myself to buy them – I got the one with the momma and baby rabbits! 
    • did not want to go minimalist for this bracket – I really wanted something farmhouse-y, cutesy, with curlicues, etc.; that corner is the perfect spot for the bracket because you can see it right away from the couch – it makes me so happy when I’m sitting there, and my youngest, who is into “wabbits” now, loves it
  • minimalist hanging plant pot for the black rabbit bracket, and a trailing plant
    • I was tempted to get something with macrame, but I think I’ll end up with a white modern-looking pot to offset the farmhouse bracket, because I seem to like contrasts
  • more plants for in front of the tree in the corner and the stand fan
    • I’m looking for a plant stand that isn’t so spindly – i.e. something that won’t easily topple over by my rambunctious boys, with a grey or cement planter inside
    • a white planter (for the floor this time) and another plant, for a total of a group of 3 (large) plants for that spot
  • a “vignette” for on top of the console, near the potted tree
    • plants: smaller, obviously, in white pots, and I’m thinking succulents
    • home scent: just those refillable Glade thingies, something I don’t have to plug in
    • something personal and/or homemade: the white planter Laz made me
    • a lantern with a battery-operated candle or a candle holder with candles and matches in jars: in case of brown out, hahaha, because we are still ever so practical
    • everything on a crochet doily or native woven placemat or a tray to corral everything together
  • replace or repaint the dvd container to white
  • door stop for Bo’s cabinet door
    • he likes to bang it open; I’m thinking an actual door stop or a little stool with another plant, just to keep the cabinet door from slamming against the cement wall/glass sliding door there
  • decorate the wall behind the TV
    • I don’t have a lot of ideas for this to date (04.05.19) – just mulling over a photo of the boys printed on wood maybe, or another Cavallini poster which I can switch around seasonally?  
  • replace the TV!

ZONE 4: Corner Bookshelves for Toys

  • a wooden tray for Laz’s collections
  • everything else for these bookshelves actually fall under toy reorganization, and it’s constantly evolving, so I’m not going to include it here anymore

ZONE 5: General

  • wall mounted wire basket for the toy warranties and manuals
    • one clear file book for the kids’ own warranties and instruction manuals, and another one for the appliances I keep in that room
  • 1 more set of b&w Skip Hop puzzle mats or replace our puzzle mats entirely
  • extra cushions (max two), and shams, for the loveseat03.29.19 shams from The Nifty Decorator;
  • dust-proof and sealed storage for under the loveseat
    • for my extra shams, and curtains, all monogrammed for “lanai”
  • step stool with plants, and a watering can for the younger boys
    • the exterior lanai doors facing our little courtyard is really a good spot for plants who love light, and I always need step stools for watering hanging plants
  • a white floor fan
  • hang something from the curtain rod near the potted tree, to again hide the patched bit of wall there I didn’t repaint
  • wall mounted storage for my cleaning supplies and rags for this room, as well as cleaning supplies at child level for the boys

It would be great if I could either repaint or even replace those corner bookshelves someday, and get a new media console/TV cabinet (or at least have someone else refinish the shoddy work) – but these things are just nice to haves, definitely not priorities.

A very simple DIY hanging bird house

Did a very simple DIY project for the kids’ lanai-playroom, since I’ve been assessing and reorganizing it a bit.   Now, Bo has a little mechanical bird that sings and parrots what you say.  He LOVES that thing.  Problem is, it comes in a sparkly pink plastic cage which is, well, not pretty.  So I made Bo a new hanging bird house (or “bed”?) – I’ve always meant to replace the pink cage and wanted something we could hang from the side of one of the corner bookshelves.  Here it is:

The little white wooden plant holder is from Daiso.  Used jute string from Common Room.  Repurposed one of our wooden Montessori rings.  (The husband helped me thread all the jute string through the teeny tiny holes I drilled into the planter).  We lined it with a simple green fabric from Expressions.  The cute black butterfly hook is from Wilcon.

You can’t tell from this photo, but the bird house is hung mid height – at child level, because we practice Montessori at home and I want everything to be accessible to my youngest.  He loves that little “bed” – he sometimes gets the fabric out, puts the bird on the coffee table, and covers him with the fabric – tucking him in for bed!  Haha.

I firmly believe kids’ hobbies and interests should become a part of your home – and your home decor.  So it’s also matter of integrating the toys they love to FIT our home, which hopefully we were able to do here.

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LANAI-PLAYROOM: Light and Air Solutions!

*Get Real Renovations

04.04.19 – Dealt with the ventilation, heat, and intense sunlight issues in this room at last!

I broke down and got blinds for the lanai-playroom! I shared the sneak peek here, and now I’m backing up a bit as to why I opted for blinds in the end. In this post, I shared my (then) happy discovery about our existing curtain rods having double rod provisions. I looked for a thin aluminum 2nd rod, and AGAIN tried to hunt down 96″ length white or cream-colored ready made curtains. Went to SM twice – the 2nd time after they said they were restocking. No 96″ long white or cream draperies. I wasn’t even looking for block out anymore – any thick neutral-colored curtain would do. Not only was I not able to find the ready made curtains I wanted and needed, but it also meant having to install not only the 2nd rod, but also support brackets so that the whole thing can bear the weight of two rods (and 2 layers of curtains).

Well, I got exhausted. Too much work to get everything and put it all together ourselves. I also didn’t have the energy anymore check other ready made options in other malls nearby.

So last Friday, after my unsuccessful trip to SM, I went straight to Showcase down the road from our village. Plopped down, gave my patio door measurements, picked out my blinds, paid – and done! They scheduled installment for Tuesday the following week – they even apologized for that supposed delay, but for me, compared to others, Showcase is already fast. Plus, they waived delivery and installation costs for being a return customer – hurray! (Showcase really waives installation costs if you’re getting blinds for at least 3 windows. The ones I ordered for the patio doors counted for 2 windows only – so yay for their awesome customer service and generosity).


03.26.19 – My younger boys, right after the new blinds were installed. I’m so happy to report that the 2 blinds fit perfectly.

Admittedly, custom blinds cost way more than what I would’ve spent on ready made curtains and double rods. I also again nixed having custom black out drapes made, because that still required getting (and installing) a 2nd curtain rod ourselves, plus the support brackets, and Larry’s where I want to get the custom drapes made is FAR from my house. Even with custom drapes I would need to put everything together on my own, Frankenstein style.  Again – I just didn’t want to deal with all that anymore since I am getting bigger and bigger every week!

The blinds I got from Showcase are roller blinds, dim-out (not block out), in a light beige/cream color. Dim-out blinds block out light – not entirely like black out blinds, but enough so as to give you privacy. Essentially, with dim-out blinds, you still get a bit of light seeping through – the fabric “glows” when the sun hits it, but the light doesn’t stream into the rest of the room. I read about that in this really useful article about “The Difference Between Voile, Dim-out and Blackout blinds” which explains things to noobs like me. Oh, and in case I get these patio doors trimmed in the future? Showcase can resize the blinds for me.  YAY!

Managing the sunlight that streams into this lanai-playroom is part of my objective to make this space COOLER for the kids, literally. I’ve mentioned countless times how hot this room gets – for a lanai! And recall, because of the dusty dirt garden outside, we haven’t been able to open the patio doors (also useless in the dead heat of our tropical summers when we don’t get a breeze whatsoever). Since my kids actually hang out and play in the lanai, I’ve been racking my brains trying to find ways to cool down the room without resorting to installing an A/C unit in there. Why the resistance to an aircon? Well, like I said in this post, I am not quite sure how we will end up using this room down the road, should we end up staying in this house beyond 3 years, or for another decade or so. Installing an A/C unit means I may have to redo electrical, installation and masonry work down the line – especially if we end up converting this space to our dining room.

Aside from the blinds, I got a ceiling fan from Wilcon, in addition to new pin lights, because I didn’t want to get a fan with built-in light. Mang Benjo, my dad’s electrician, came in yesterday to install the ceiling fan and 2 Philips pin lights, also from Wilcon. Since I got rid of the main overhead light to make way for the ceiling fan in the middle of the room, I had a small round pin light installed in one corner, and Mang Benjo suggested placing the slightly bigger one in front of the TV console/toy cabinet. I initially thought I’d need pin lights PLUS a table lamp so I’d have different light sources in this room (based on this post in DIY Playbook and this post by dyosa Emily Henderson), but with the new light right in front of the toy cabinet, it just seemed like overkill to put a table lamp on top of the console too. It’s such a small room after all. So deadma to all those “rules”, heh.

04.04.19 – See what I mean about those interior lanai doors being too dark?  Will be covering those with the same type of cream curtains eventually.  And we still need to retouch the paint for the electrical casing we removed in the corner – see that white line?  At least my light and ceiling fan look so clean!  Very happy about that.

The pin light by the console has built-in dimmers in 3 settings. For the corner pin light, the Philips lady in Wilcon helped me out (since I wanted something smaller), and I bought a neat (as in malinis) little round white pinlight and a separate dimmer bulb with 2 settings.

04.01.19 – It was important for me to have dimmers from a smaller light source for privacy. Since this room is all windows, with our old overhead light, you could see EVERYTHING inside at night.

04.04.19 – Daytime shot of the pin light – very unobtrusive in that corner, but so practical when we use it at night. Just the way I like it!

04.01.19 – The light by the console at dusk

For the fan, I went inexpensive and just got a white 3D model because it got the most consistently good reviews. It’s modern-looking, and has 36 cm long blades which are just right for this teeny space.  I’m very happy so far about the performance too.  We’ve had it for about a week now and, together with the blinds, that modest ceiling fan has really helped to cool down this room.

04.04.19 – I’m sorry, but I’m really just so happy about how clean it looks.  (Now, how to cover/disguise the light and fan switches?  I don’t need to hide them completely, but maybe hang something there to distract from those little boxes?)

Then I moved our dumb Dowell floor fan because it’s the Most Useless Fan in the World. Eventually, I plan to replace it with my favorite air circulator, Vornado, so the kids can have a cooling system they can manipulate without assistance. (The switch for the ceiling fan is above the toy cabinet – the younger boys can’t get to it). I’m still all about helping to promote independence for my sons.  Right now they’re using the stand fan and I do intend to keep it there, but I know an air circulator like Vornado will be more powerful.

04.01.19 – Hanging out at the lanai at dusk – and even early mornings! – is now very pleasant.  Praise God for the provisions!

That’s it! Light filter and cooling systems for the lanai – CHECK! I’m 90% done with my “Get Real Renovations” essentials for this space. Save for the new floor fan (which I’ll get next month because I like to space out our home renovation expenses), and the children’s stools I ordered from MetroFurne (they’re still doing it), we are essentially DONE. I feel confident now about moving on to the fun part – decorating it (and organizing and reorganizing to my heart’s content). When I say “decorate”, I of course mean DIYing what I can, and restyling or shopping my own home, because like I kept saying, I want to keep costs for these renovations as conservative as possible.

Literally all the light and air solutions I put into this lanai for our Get Real Renovations in one picture!