Crazy Pandemic Hobbies: Tiny Milk Carton Houses

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Lately, I’m into making tiny milk carton houses. It’s a crazy hobby that I don’t see paying off anytime soon. They take forever and the waxy surface of the milk carton makes painting them nearly impossible. It’s also messy. But I am not giving up!!! I have four of them sitting beside me (on the little handy side desk that I McGivered by putting two desks together).  I tinker on them a little bit every day. I have grand plans of creating a whole village and selling it for a thousand bucks but more than likely I’ll just gift them to the family who won’t know what to do with them either.

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These milk carton houses are not for work. I wish they were but they are not. I’ve used a few for work but the ones I’m working on now are not. They are really just something to keep me from going crazy.

I also have a postcard hobby which means that I save every piece of chipboard that goes through our house. Chipboard is thin cardboard from cereal boxes and cartons etc. My collection is kind of a problem. My desk looks like a recycling plant and now I’m having issues throwing anything away. My kids save everything for me too because they know I have this hobby. It’s gotten a little out of control.

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I have dreams of making “an old house in Paris that was covered with vines” out of a cookie box but I don’t know when I’ll get to it. I just work a tiny bit on these houses every day. Day by day by day by day… in between other more lofty chores, of course. It’s slow going and this mess is not going anywhere any time soon. It feels like my own personal pandemic decor. Kinda like how we moved Payam’s desk into the living room and the kids have their own zoom classroom backdrops incorporated into their bedrooms…and it’s a permanent part of our life now. It’s funny the changes we’ve all had to make now that we do everything at home. I’ve always worked at home but this latest recycling craftiness has definitely turned my madness up a notch.

I hope I finish someday. Kinda like I hope I can see friends again someday…

The Diagon Alley Craft Cabinet

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Different people do different things to cope with their anxiety. Some people smoke pot. Some people drink. Some people run marathons or join cross-fit or become extreme yoga enthusiasts. Some people watch cooking shows, eat Cheetos all day or go to health food stores obsessing over ingredients. Some people watch cute animal videos on high volume or pimple-popping videos (Ew, David!). Some people watch the NEWS all day and get in heated political discussions. Some people garden or trim bonsai or make tiny houses out of milk cartons. Some people play mindless video games… There are so many things to do to keep yourself from going crazy. I do (and don’t do) a lot of the above but one of my favorite things to do is organize.

I know! It’s a sickness. But it really does make me happy.  Do you know that show: The Home Edit? I loved it. I binge-watched it in a few days and immediately had an unbearable urge to go The Container store or order all the clear plastic bins on Amazon. I talked about the show to a few friends and they looked at me like I like to drink sour milk.  Organizing freaks with high squeaky squealing voices!

Different strokes for different folks I guess.

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I am one of those crazy organizers. I don’t have a high squeaky voice, I promise! I have a quiet soft voice like a mouse that nobody can hear. I do sometimes get excited and talk too fast but it doesn’t squeak. At least I don’t think so anyway.

So let’s talk about my pride and joy: my craft cabinet! I call it Diagon Alley. The photo above is the before. It wasn’t that unorganized. But things were getting slightly out of control. Bins were getting too full. I was stuffing things above, beside and around the bins which made it impossible to pull them out without causing a small avalanche.

Why do I have so much stuff? Well, I come from a long line of hoarders (probably brought on by poverty) and I do crafts all the time for my job and just because I love to. Since I hate the craft store I like to keep things and re-use them. I hate having to re-buy things just because I can’t find them.

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You know how organizing goes, it always gets way worse before it gets better. I subscribe to the “A place for everything and everything in its place” method and that doesn’t mean just adding on a second story to your house or renting out a storage unit when you over-flow, though I’ve dreamed of those things many many times.  I say get everything out and then shop from your stuff putting only the things that you really need/want back. It’s a massive purging opportunity.

And it’s work. I have to shake every paint bottle to make sure it’s not dried up and draw with every pen to make sure it still writes. I have to go through old notebooks and pull out the blank pages if they are nearly filled up. I have to throw out whole projects that I really wanted to do but they’ve been on the back burner for way too long… It’s a long arduous series of decisions.

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I just put on some headphones and commit to rocking out for a good day. Wittle wittle wittle away at the giant pile of crap, grouping like objects together, consolidating and then, of course, tossing a good percentage because EVERYTHING HAS TO FIT!

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When I’m done I am exhausted but it’s peaceful exhaustion where I sink into the couch, completely relaxed and happy. I try to watch television and unwind but I constantly interrupt whatever show we are watching to gloat about how great the organized cabinet is. Payam is used to me. Murder, schmurder, crime show schmimeshow…Did I tell you how great it is to go out into the Diagon Alley and gaze at all the perfectly aligned bins of crafty goods? It’s like angels sing!

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As you can see I am not a perfectionist organized freak. I’m somehow missing the OCD part of this mental illness. It suits me because I think often perfectionists get hung up on the details and get overwhelmed by the sheer effort needed to organize all the details perfectly. Not me. I just throw things willy nilly into my sense of order (whatever level of type A I happen to be that day) and then shrug off anything that doesn’t quite fit. My stickers are not even, my fonts change, some pricetag stickers are still slightly stuck… you get the idea.

But this time I decided to step up the organization a notch and I made a spreadsheet! I kid you not. I have a google spreadsheet of every single craft supply I have and a corresponding bin number. It’s goooooood.

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The great thing about the internet is that I’m sure there is somebody out there who is looking at these photos and saying, “me too!” In fact, I fantasise that someone will even zoom in and take notes of all my supplies. They are great supplies. You can make so many things with these odds and ends.

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Sharpies, fabric paint, craft paint, feathers and shells, raffia, ribbon, tissue paper…. so many things!

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Glue, tape, foam, all those containers and odd collections. Looking for a cassette tape? It’s in bin 15 of course with all the other tape. Makes perfect sense to me!

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So anyway, you get the picture. Ooops, I repeated a picture. Oh well, I’m not fixing it because I have two pies to make today and a needy client. I think all three readers of this post can acknowledge the imperfect in me.

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At the end of the day, I am a happy crafter. I love to take anyone and everyone out into my garage to show them Diagon Alley and brag about it. Need to borrow some craft supplies? I’ve got you covered!

I know I’m super lucky to have so much space but on the flip side, I can’t park my car in my garage because we have a man-cave/woodworking shop on one side and an awesome Diagon Alley/laundry room on the other. To each their own, right?