27 February 2015

Feline Friday: The Ribbonator

 I often work on my kits at home, but I try not to cut ribbon and twine here...for obvious reasons. Tinsel in particular is OBSESSED with ribbon! This week I waited until both kitties were asleep one evening and thought I could finish all of my ribbon bags without "assistance".

I cut most of my ribbon and twine, thinking things were going quite well, then left the room briefly. When I returned, Tinsel had somehow detected (from a deep sleep) that RIBBON THINGS WERE HAPPENING. There she was, right in the middle of my ribbon and twine operation!
I am reddy to halp, Mom! Letz go!

Whut? You don't wants my halps?? (insert sad face)

Look, Mom...I can do maf on da ruler!
 Needless to say, the ribbon bags did not get done that night... :)

20 February 2015

Feline Friday: Caught in the Act!

 I recently popped into the kitchen and witnessed some NAUGHTY BEHAVIOR as it happened! I decided just to watch it play out and grab a few quick pictures to document the crime. (Please ignore the messy pantry shelves!)

When I arrived on the scene, Lily had opened the bi-fold pantry doors. Easy enough. I knew exactly what she was going for: One of two open containers of kitty food on a high shelf. She knows where I keep it!

 Lily is not a very good jumper. She contemplates and "measures" quite a lot before making a leap. Her first step (I've seen her do this before) was to hop on top of the rolling 3-drawer cart. This makes her nervous because it wiggles a bit.

Success! I was surprised to see her looking around on the bottom shelf because the TASTY NOMS are on the shelf just above it. I guess she was looking for a bonus treat!

 The yellow bowl (which happened to be missing the lid on this day) was her primary target.

She stole a few morsels out of that bowl while I watched quietly. Very sneaky!

Look at that pink tongue! There was no doubt about her involvement in this crime!

Then she brazenly shoved her face right into the bowl! Might as well go for it! :) This continued for some time and then...

...she nonchalantly left the scene of the crime. 
Oh, hi, Mom! Who, me? :)

18 February 2015

Just Kitting!

  One of my tasks for the past couple of days was to make kits for an upcoming mini-album class. I wasn't quite sure how this particular kitting session would go, but things went very well this time. (Trust me, that is not always the case!) 

I think the key is pre-cutting everything FIRST, then assembling later. I cut all of the pieces at the store and brought them home to assemble. I counted almost 40 pieces for the album itself, plus 27 pieces in the embellishment bag. YIKES! 

 Call me weird, but I love seeing the different project components all ready to go. It's like having all of your ingredients pre-measured and organized before you start cooking! (That is only in my dream kitchen, of course!)

With a mini-album, I lay out the pieces from the back to the front starting with the back page, then rubber-band everything together. This makes it easy for the student to follow instructions, with pieces in the order they're needed. 

  With this type of kit, I always worry that I'll miss something and have to go back and insert it in the proper place -- usually deep in the middle of the project! But this time I was lucky. The piece I missed was at the very back! YAY!

More pieces...hoping I didn't mis-count!

I stopped to emboss a few scalloped pieces...

...then added a few more pages...counting, counting...

The piles were getting taller, and I hoped I hadn't missed anything! It's the WORST THING when you get to the end of your materials and have one piece left...or find yourself short a piece. Luckily that did not happen this time!

Finally, the end was in sight!

Pages and large elements, all rubber-banded and ready to insert into the kit! YAY!

Next task: Finish up the small bags.

This project was in the home stretch! 

I just bought a new blade for my Silhouette and wow, what a big difference it made! The shapes cut so cleanly! I quickly finished up my Silhouette cutting and added the pieces to the bags and...

...the kits were done! YAY!
Back when I was working in corporate HR and facilitated performance assessments for work teams, my own test results labeled me a "concluder-producer", which means I like getting things done. That's definitely an accurate assessment, because I absolutely LOVE finishing up big projects! When it's going well, I actually do enjoy the process!
Now on to the next big project!

16 February 2015

Photo Organization: Paring Down Portrait Pics

Here's a profound thought for a Monday: If you never spend time working on something, you'll never get it done. 

That's pretty obvious, but that's where I've been for the past year or more: STUCK on my projects because I haven't had time (or inclination, or emotional fortitude, or whatever) to devote to them. As a result, I have boxes and boxes that are still right where they left them many moons ago.

I recently decided that ENOUGH is ENOUGH. Nobody is going to fix this problem for me. I am a person who needs order, and the chaos is really eating away at me. So I decided to tackle one big project this past weekend (one that has really been bothering me) and see if I could devote enough time to it to make a real dent in it. And I'm happy to report that I DID make a dent in it, although maybe I'm the only one who can see it! LOL

Here's where I started: A bunch of boxes of unsorted photos (this pictures shows just a portion of them) pretty much all labeled "miscellaneous".

Here's what I ended up with after a solid day of work: Boxes that contain somewhat organized photos, labeled so that I'll be able to access them when I'm ready to scrapbook them (or whatever I decide to do with them). You can't see it here, but I cleared out multiple boxes and tubs. Spouse commented that you can actually see the carpet now -- that is how bad it was!
Note: Rather than using photo boxes, for now I've left everything in plastic tubs so that the related framed items and small albums could all be kept together. Now the tubs are sorted and labeled in a way that makes sense to me.

I had two main areas to tackle this past weekend:
1) Continue working on my professional or portrait-type photos. I first posted about this project HERE.
 2) Finish up my daughter's portrait album, or at least gather the stuff to do that.

I also sorted through boxes of newspaper clippings, recipes, and other STUFF I brought home from my grandma's house. I knew at the time that much of it didn't need to be saved, but I still had to sort through it to verify that.

 1) Portrait OVERLOAD
I started with tubs of portrait pictures of me, my grandparents, my parents, and my daughter. Many were still in frames that I collected while clearing out my childhood home and my grandma's house. I also amassed a LOT of duplicate portraits. My goal was to eliminate most of the duplicates, pare down all the wallet photos (WHY did we keep so many?), and reduce the bulk of what I was storing.

Here's what I did:
* I took pictures out of the frames, unless the frame was one I wanted to keep. I put the frames in a box to donate. 
* I recycled most of the heavy cardboard-type "frames" on some of the older photos. They add a lot of unnecessary bulk to scrapbooks so I didn't see a need to keep them.
 * I sorted photos chronologically and put them in acid-free sleeves.
* I gathered related items and put them all together.

Here's an example, this one for my own photos. I gathered all of the professional-type photos of me (school, baby book, dance, etc.).

I sorted the photos into sleeves and added dates. Once they were sorted, I could easily remove duplicates. For convenience, I added rings to the sleeves. As I was doing that, I thought...Hey, this is starting to look like a scrapbook! :) It's obviously far from that, but it will be easy to transfer to one when I'm ready.

Now all the portrait-type pictures are in one bin, not scattered in several tubs. I created a separate bin with photos of my grandparents, my mom, and my dad.

2) Portrait Album
When Bailey graduated from high school, we made a portrait album which contained her professional baby/toddler photos as well as yearly school portraits. The idea of this type of project really appealed to me and, although there are some things I wish we'd done differently, I'm fairly happy with it overall. But there were quite a few additional portraits that never made it to this album, so one of my goals was to finish this project.

 Previously I had stored all of her wallet sized photos elsewhere. Spouse seemed available and somewhat cooperative :) so I had him sort and eliminate the duplicate wallet pictures. (I decided to keep 2 of each pose, just in case we need them for something else down the road.) Then I tucked them into new photo-safe sleeves and added them to the portrait album.

I did the same with the dance photos, although I'm not sure they'll stay in this album because it is getting pretty full. (Sorry for the sideways photo!)

I added several pages to the album and have just a few things to do to truly finish it up this time. YAY!

What I Learned:
I have found that with this sort of project, it may take several "passes" through it to really make a dent in it. I have also found that the passage of time makes it a little easier to deal with photos of loved ones who are gone. For the longest time, I could not even LOOK at the photos in the boxes. Now I can look at them and make decisions much more easily.

 So although it may be hard for anyone else to see, I feel good about the progress that I made this weekend and am motivated to keep going with it and other projects. If you've got similar projects languishing in the corners, I encourage you to set aside a day and jump in. You'll be pleased with what you can accomplish if you devote some focused time to it!

13 February 2015

Feline Friday: 50 Days of Grey (Tabby)

Since the world (everyone except me, that is!) seems to be a little obsessed right now with this whole "50 Shades of Grey" thing, I thought I would share what I believe to be a much sweeter take on GREY: 

50 days of our GREY girl, Lily! :)

11 February 2015

Stamp Storage: Success!

After a slow start, I'm pleased to report that I'm done re-organizing my clear and cling stamps. YAY! I'm so much happier with this new system. All of my clear and cling stamps are in one place, and there is plenty of room in this Target basket to add more. (Within reason, of course!) When I finished labeling everything and made the little hangy tag for the front of the basket, I felt ever so much better. It's the little things, people!

I started with stamps that were stored in CD cases and various other places. See my last post for pictures of that unpleasant process. All I can say is that I'm glad it's over!
 I mostly followed Jennifer McGuire's recommendations for using the Avery Elle stamp pockets with a couple of exceptions. In cases where Jennifer needed a new surface for her acrylic stamps, she cut apart the stamp pockets and used them to create a plastic backing. I opted for 12x12 sheets of thin acrylic because they are sturdier for pulling in and out of the bag. I just cut pieces to fit the bags.

 By putting the stamps in the bag with the backs facing outward, I can see the design easily, so I didn't spend time making templates with the images. I can always go back and do that later if need be. I also made those labels fairly detailed so I can tell at a glance what's in the pocket. (Sorry for the upside down picture!)

I don't have a label maker so I made my labels using text boxes in Word. (I've never bought a label maker because I like being able have access to all of my fonts so that all of my labels match!) When I teach classes, I need to keep track of product numbers so I included that information on the label, too. 

I had a few packages of smaller stamps that would have fallen to the bottom of the pockets so, as Jennifer suggests, I used a Glue Dot to adhere the plastic to the paper. For those sets I cut pieces of acrylic to fit both the front and the back side of the stamps, which allowed me to adhere the acrylic sheet to the paper insert.

I have a few packages of Close to My Heart stamps and decided to keep them in their original packaging since they fit in the basket just fine. I'll admit I was tempted to try to fit them into the pockets, but in the end I came to my senses!

Jennifer uses the clear Fridge Binz for her stamps, but I opted for a little more decorative black basket from Target since my stamps are stored in an open cube. I decided back when I organized my craft room that any visible storage containers would have to match my color scheme, and I've held to that pretty firmly! When I found this basket with straight sides and saw that it was just the right depth for the cubes, I knew it was meant to be! :)

 I freed up considerable space with this little project! My plastic Close to My Heart storage bin took up a lot of space. It's going in the Memory Bound garage sale planned for April.
These CD racks can be used elsewhere in our house.

 Here are just a few of the CD cases I emptied with this project! YAY!

 I now have a totally empty bin and cubby!

One of my goals for this year is to do more stamping, and I'm sure that having all of my stamps in one place and easily accessible will go a long way toward meeting that objective!

09 February 2015

Clear Stamp Storage: Regrets!

 I have regrets. Big ones.

Over the years I have tried lots of different ways to organize my crafty stuff. I've tried systems that worked great and systems that didn't work as well, but (until now) I hadn't done anything that I actually regretted. 

It's THIS: CD cases for my clear stamps.
When I first set it up, I loved this system. But my stamps outgrew my capacity to store them this way long ago. And companies started making clear stamps in larger packaging, which meant they wouldn't fit in a CD case anyway. So over time, this system became more cumbersome. As a result, I have been storing my stamps in lots of different places and using the ones in the CD cases less often.

So in my effort to deeply clean out all of my stuff, I decided to re-vamp my stamp storage and go with the Avery Elle Stamp Pockets suggested by Jennifer McGuire. I know several people who have converted to this system and love it. 

So I'm thinking...no big deal. I'll just move my stamps into this new system. Quick and easy. Right? 


In opening my CD cases, some of which hadn't been opened in a while (OK, a loooong while), I discovered a couple of terrible things had happened when I wasn't looking:

* Some stamps stuck like CEMENT to the CD case, hard enough to break the case when I removed them. Some stamps weren't even removable. They either tore or simply wouldn't come off at all. REGRETS.
* Some of my stamps -- some of my very favorite stamps, in fact -- had turned sort of GOOEY. They fell apart when I tried to remove them. YUCK! I have no idea why this happened -- if they were poor quality to begin with or if some weird chemical reaction happened in the CD case. At any rate, the result is the same: REGRETS. 

In addition, in order to fit the stamps into the CD case, I sometimes removed the clear backing or cut it to fit the case. Now, without that piece, it makes used stamps harder to sell. REGRETS.

  So now, in order to put them into my new pockets (which I'm quite sure I'm going to love...eventually!), I have to put the stamps onto a clear acrylic sheet and stamp a new template for them. I'm fine with doing that, but it would have saved a lot of time if I'd just kept the original packaging.
So what should have been a simple, quick project has turned into a slow and laborious one. (Story of my life these days!) And by the time I discard all the yucky stamps, I probably won't even have many left! 

Live and learn!

I'll share a picture of my completed stamp organization project when I finish it, which hopefully will be soon!