31 March 2015

Craft Room: Tweaking Storage Systems

Back in August, 2012, I put the finishing touches on my craft space. I absolutely love having a dedicated space and use it a LOT!

After living with this space for a couple of years, I've come to a few conclusions:

  • I should have bought a larger table. One can never have too much work space. On the other hand, I'm not willing to give up more floor space for a bigger table, so I'm going to keep it. I plan to have a piece of glass cut to fit the top of it which will make it easier to remove adhesive.
  • Even though I wish it were larger, I LOVE the tall table!  A desk would not work for me.
  • I love the Target storage cubes (even though they're not super sturdy) but I've struggled with how to efficiently use the canvas bins that fill some of the cubes. I'm still figuring that out.
  • I can't stand visual clutter, and piles of stuff sort of make me crazy. There have been way too many piles in my craft room lately!
  • Some of the organization "systems" I put in place two years ago are working, and some are not. It's time for some tweaking!
 If you're a crafter, you know that having your supplies organized and accessible is a big deal. I recently re-vamped my stamp storage and love it, so I was inspired to make a few more (much simpler!) changes. I hope these little improvements will help me 1) use what I have and 2) be more apt to put stuff away!

Here are some of my little tweaks:

12x12 Paper Scraps 
First of all, I love, love, love the closet. If I had to get rid of the rest of the room and keep only the closet, that would be fine with me. I could find a way to work in there! My 12x12 paper/cardstock vertical storage system works for me, with one exception -- the 12" paper scraps. Since they don't fit in my 8.5x11 scrap drawers, I shove them into the vertical storage bins and they flop all over the place, getting bent and lost in the process.

In addition, the labels don't stick forever to this plastic. I decided to keep them but replaced some that were dogeared and added more adhesive behind others.

To solve the problem with the long scraps, I grouped them together and clipped them at the top. Now they can stay in the vertical holders and not flop around.

 Christmas Supplies
I had Christmas stuff stashed in my paper holders and various tins around the room, making it hard to find when I needed it. So after paring down my stash considerably for the upcoming garage sale, I moved everything to one stackable box (shown in the top photo), with small items in bags. I don't store my supplies by theme so doing this was a bit of a departure for me, but since I have so many Christmas supplies, I think this makes much more sense. This will make it super easy when it's time to make Christmas cards this fall.

Small Die Cut Pieces
I'm a huge fan of October Afternoon but have been frustrated with storing all the little die cuts and doodads that come with some of their lines (there's a small package shown in the photo above). Previously I had them all in a big tin which was annoying the heck out of me. I couldn't find what I needed (and as a result, I didn't use them at all), and they looked messy, too.

I finally decided that what I needed was a muffin tin. I brought several old tins home from my grandma's house last spring for just this reason, so I commandeered one to see how it would work. After removing all the Christmas die cuts, everything else fit nicely in the muffin tin, with larger pieces in a separate container. The jury is still out on this new system, but I'm hoping that it will help keep these little pieces corralled and more accessible. When things are more accessible, I'm more likely to use them...and clean up when I'm done!

Here's hoping that these little changes will make a big difference!

30 March 2015

Serious Garage Sale Prep

At least once a year, the store where I teach holds a scrapbooking garage sale. This is a fabulous opportunity to clear out your stash. Customers and employees sign up to be sellers, and payment is given in store credit (less a small percentage for the store). The end result is that you get rid of stuff you no longer need...and in return get store credit to buy new stuff! :) It doesn't get much better than that!
Over the years I've participated in varying degrees. Last year I was busy with many other things and didn't get a chance to sell as much as I should have. So I vowed that this year I would dig much deeper. Our sale is coming up in late April, and so far I have two large boxes packed and priced!

I've been going through all of my stuff and re-assessing what I realisitically need to keep. For example, I looked in this big canvas bin (which I hadn't really looked in for a very long time) and found a number of projects I started but never completed. So I had an honest talk with myself about what I actually WILL complete and kept only those projects. I broke down everything else into components for the sale. 

As I went through this clearing out process, I learned (or re-learned) a few things about myself:

  • I often bite off more than I can chew. No surprise there!
  • I get frustrated by unfinished projects. I found way too many of them in my craft room.
  • I don't seem to care for "week/month/year in the life" type projects. I have started several but have yet to complete one. Honestly, I'd rather document the "big picture" than a single week/month/year. I know a lot of people love these types of projects, but they're just not my thing.
  • My tastes in craft supplies have evolved over the years. But not much. :)
  • I like versatile, simple products -- no themes.
  • I don't want to make things unless they have a definite purpose. I don't want stuff just sitting around gathering dust.
  • I have WAY more blue patterned paper than anything else. But WHY? I'm not opposed to blue, but it's definitely not my favorite color. I clearly need to use it more often.
  • I love to make cards but don't spend nearly as much time as I'd like doing it. I have enough card-making supplies to set up my own shop!
  • I have just a few favorite manufacturers. Realistically, I could probably get rid of everything else. That seems a little drastic right now, but I'm going to give it some thought.
  • I especially love to work on my albums but don't devote nearly enough time to it.
  • I've got a serious backlog of photos to edit and print.
  • I don't have nearly as much stuff as my crafting friends, but I still I have way more than I need, especially when it comes to paper and embellishments.

 Now I'm off to clear out another bin or two! The hardest part is resisting the urge to BUY stuff at the garage sale. The bargains are amazing, and I do love a good deal! I have to keep reminding myself that I'm trying to end up with LESS stuff...not more!

29 March 2015

In the Cupboards

From time to time, someone visiting will notice that the insides of our kitchen cabinets are decorated with Bailey's art from pre-school and early elementary school. We've had artwork hanging inside our cabinets for as long as I can remember. This is definitely not an original idea, but I can't recall where I first read about it. It's a fun way to keep kids' artwork visible!

 Looking for a soup bowl? You'll find them by the bumblebee and star. I love how Bailey wrote answers to the teacher's prompts:
I don't like to: get my hair washed. 
 I like to eat: corn. 

She still likes corn. And I think she's ok with having her hair washed now. :)

 Looking for the "fancy" plates? You'll find them next to the butterfly, always a day brightener!

And there's my favorite picture, right next to the coffee filters where we see it every day!

I'm so glad I started doing this many years ago. I hope you will try it, too! :)

28 March 2015

Succulents: 3 Weeks and Counting!

I planted my succulents about three weeks ago, and I'm pleased to report that they are all STILL ALIVE!

I put a reminder in my phone to water them every three weeks, and today was the day. I will say that they definitely seemed to need water, as some leaves felt very squishy and almost limp. Three weeks gave the soil plenty of time to dry out, but I'll have to watch them to be sure it's not too long.

Because water runs rapidly through the lightweight succulent soil, I put them in the sink to drain.

 I can see new growth on the succulents, including this jade plant. I am very happy to finally be using this super cool planter I bought a few years back. I love the shape and color!

This little guy is doing great! Unfortunately, I didn't have a saucer to fit his clay pot.

 But I found something even better: A glazed clay saucer that Bailey made in elementary school! It works perfectly for this little plant.

 The artist even signed it on the bottom! :)

Keep your fingers crossed that I can keep these guys alive! So far, so good!

27 March 2015

Feline Friday: Da FURminator

Shortly before spring break, I discovered that I had somehow lost our cat grooming comb. It's not like I've been traveling around with it, so it's sort of odd that it disappeared. Now if you live in a house with cats, you don't want to lose your comb. Lily especially sheds a LOT, so I definitely have to keep up with the grooming!

Our previous comb was a round "shedding blade" with teeth on one side. It worked extremely well for Lily's thick fur. As Tinsel has aged, however, I've noticed that the blade was uncomfortable for her more delicate skin. Maybe Tinsel absconded with the blade, hoping I'd buy something better! :)
So while Bailey was home for break, we took the plunge and bought the rather pricey ($30+) FURminator. I've long heard about the wonders of this tool, and I WONDERED if it would be worth the money!

After using the FURminator for several days now, we ALL agree...it's the best brush EVER!

 As soon as we bought it, we took the girls outside for a serious grooming session. SO MUCH FUR came off of Lily that it looked as if she had never been brushed! 

 She was in HEAVEN!

We brushed her so long that we were pretty sure she'd end up bald! (She didn't!)

Tinsel waited patiently inside for her turn. She liked the FURminator better than the other comb, but she still doesn't enjoy grooming like she did when she was younger. I think in time she'll get used to the new brush. She sheds, but not NEARLY like Lily, so we don't have to brush her as often anyway.

I've brushed Lily several times since that day, and EACH TIME this much fur comes off of her! I seriously do not know where it is coming from! 

In addition to removing fur, the FURminator claims that it will improve kitty's coat by distributing oils. We have definitely found this to be true with Lily. Her fur is somewhat coarse so her coat has never been shiny and sleek like Tinsel's, but after FURMINATION, she is much softer. (Why wouldn't she be, without all of this extra hair? LOL) 

So if you're looking for a great kitty grooming tool, we would highly recommend spending the extra money for the FURminator! It's Lily tested and approved!


26 March 2015

Recipe: One Pan Mexican Quinoa Without the Quinoa

A few days ago, my daughter shared a yummy (and good-for-you!) recipe she had just tried: One Pan Mexican Quinoa. My ears perked up at the "One Pan" part and again at "Quinoa". First, I couldn't believe she actually likes quinoa now (YAY!) and second, I knew I had a box in the cupboard.

Yesterday I stopped at the grocery store and picked up the few items I needed to make the recipe. Back at home, I chopped the garlic and the jalapeno and set them to simmer in the skillet. I reached into my well-equipped pantry (ahem) to fetch my quinoa and...

Wait. That's not quinoa! It's Bulgar wheat! 

I know what you're thinking: First of all, what the heck IS Bulgar wheat anyway? And second, why does she have something as obscure as Bulgar wheat in such a poorly stocked pantry?

We won't go into those answers today, but suffice it to say that I had no choice but to continue on! Yes, folks: Only I could make a recipe WITHOUT one of the ingredients listed in the title!

  Since the Bulgar wheat was labeled (fortunately, I actually kept the label this time...) "quick cooking" and required a similar amount of liquid as the quinoa, I bravely soldiered on.
And sure enough, this recipe turned out great! The addition of lime juice plus cilantro and avocado (two of my favorite ingredients) gives this dish a very fresh taste, and I'm sure the leftovers will be even better! I concluded that you could make this recipe with any type of grain or rice as long as you adjust the liquid as needed. So take that, poorly stocked pantry! :)

Here's mine:

Here's the original:

This one's a keeper, quinoa or not! 

Source: Damn Delicious

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapenos, minced
1 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. 
  • Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes. 
  • Stir in avocado, lime juice and cilantro.
  • Serve immediately.

20 March 2015

18 March 2015

Untangled: Jewelry Re-Org

 As I've sifted and sorted through the boxes and tubs I brought back from my parents' house before the auction, I've had particular difficulty with one big box: Mom's jewelry. I've never liked jewelry very much, but my mom did. It wasn't fancy or valuable, but she wore lots of it. As a result, much of Mom's jewelry carries a strong association for me and makes it very painful to handle.

In reality, I've been dealing with Mom's jewelry since she passed away in 2008. After my daughter picked out the pieces she wanted to keep, Dad and I packed it all up in a big Rubbermaid tub and hid it in a dark corner of my parents' basement. It was too painful for either of us to have in our midst. Of course, that only worked for so long. After Dad passed away, I found her jewelry in the basement. I had no choice but to bring it all home with me.

So for going on two years now I've been trying to deal with that jewelry. Each time I lifted the lid of the box, I could smell her perfume. I could picture her at a birthday party or at the last band concert she attended, wearing that necklace she bought in Arizona. Those memories were just too much, and I snapped the lid back on the box. But after a few attempts, I finally managed to sort her jewelry into smaller and smaller containers like this one. It was easier to look at just a few pieces at a time.

This week I decided it was time to tackle Mom's jewelry once and for all. Truthfully, it has been bringing me down. I don't want to cry every time I remember my mom, and that's what the jewelry makes me do. I knew that I just needed to choose a few special pieces that I associate with Mom and get rid of the rest.

 Last week, I stopped by the local hospice thrift store to drop off some items and asked what they needed most for their store. Jewelry was at the top of their list. Perfect timing, so I set to work. I decided to deal with Mom's jewelry and my own at the same time.

 Jewelry isn't important to me, so my own was thrown in a basket where it tangled up over the years. I'm allergic to metal and because of that, my ears aren't pierced, so I don't wear jewelry much anyway. Much of this stuff was so old I barely remembered it -- perfect for donating to the thrift store.

I had a jewelry box at one point but it did not work for me. These stackable trays from Target seemed just right. 

I sorted my own jewelry and put the pieces I actually wear in one tray. Lily helped!

Less frequently worn items went into the other trays. The compartments are perfect for keeping small pieces corralled and necklaces tangle-free.

As a bonus, the trays fit perfectly on the shelf in my closet where I kept my basket of tangled necklaces. This is a huge improvement! I'll add a couple of additional trays to accommodate the rest of Mom's pieces, drop off a big box of jewelry at the thrift store, and then call this project done. 
 It's a big step for me to have Mom's jewelry upstairs in my closet rather than hidden away in the basement. I'm not quite there yet, but I hope that in time I'll be able to look at her pieces and smile. And maybe one day I'll think about wearing one of her bracelets. I think she would like that. 

17 March 2015

More Plantings!

 It's spring break! We're not going anywhere (never do) but are enjoying the BEST treat ever: Our daughter is home for a few days! She didn't come home for spring break last year because she was preparing for her senior recital and we weren't sure if she would be home this year, so we feel especially lucky to have her here. She is mid-way through her student teaching assignment and The Job Search looms large, but she still has a little bit of time for some fun!

She saw my post about succulents last week and decided she wanted to find a few more plants to add to her current set. In addition, she brought home her plants so we could re-pot them with new dirt. The lovely weather was perfect for all of this "container gardening" action!

New succulent! :)

Bailey's newly re-potted African violets, plus a new white one I bought for myself!
  I love that Bailey has taken an interest in violets. My late maternal grandma was fabulous with flowers and had a particular fondness for violets. They filled her windows and brightened up her house. I've had a few over the years and am looking forward to trying one again.

Bailey has also developed an interest in cooking so is going to try her hand at growing a few things from seed. Cross your fingers that she'll have sprouts in a few days!

In my last post, I mentioned that I had bought rocks but didn't care for the look of them in my succulents. Well, all of my succulents (and Bailey's, too) are now sporting rocks. Turns out there is a practical purpose for them. Succulent soil is very lightweight and tends to overflow the pot when you water. Even though you don't water succulents very often, it makes a MESS and gets dirt all over the pretty foliage. The rocks help contain the dirt and keep it from flowing out of the pot. Live and learn!

Happily, all of the succulents I planted last week are showing signs of growth. Bailey's plants are doing well, too.

New plants...new growth...for all of us!

13 March 2015

Feline Friday: Lily, no!

One evening last week I came home late and warmed up a bowl of soup. 

Then I made a rookie mistake: I left food unattended. I know better than to do this with Lily in the house.

So naturally I came back around the corner to this:

...and then THIS:

which was followed quickly by this:  
Lily, NO! (something I say a lot around here)...

...and a new bowl of soup for me.

07 March 2015


Have you noticed how popular succulents are right now? I've had succulents from time to time over the years and have been anxious to try them again. I love their clean and simple look! In fact, I've been saving up several pots with this in mind but hadn't had a chance to go buy any...until today!

Here are the pots I had set aside for this little project. I bought the gold container at left at a vintage shop a few years ago...that is how long I have been waiting for this project! I've had the little white porcelain pots for over 20 years, and they've held everything from small flowers to herbs. The two containers at the lower right came from my parents' house. I found the brown pot in a box of old flower pots in our garden shed. And my mom had collected almost 20 containers like the small pot with the attached dish. I almost kept them all, but I decided one was probably enough and sold the rest at the auction.

Earl May had lots of succulents -- and they were on sale today, as luck would have it! So I bought enough to fill the containers. I may have to go back for more.

 I also purchased a bag of soil and some small rocks, which I thought I'd use to cover the soil to make the pots look a little more "finished". In looking at succulent plantings online, I noticed that a lot of people use rocks as a final touch.

I started with the jade plant. Easy enough! I've had jade plants in the past and love the tidy look of them. Hope I can keep this one alive! 

After I took this picture, I covered the soil with the rocks. Then I decided I didn't like the look of that, so I removed all of the rocks. I'll use them for something, but I didn't care for them in my plants!

And here are the finished pots! I placed them in a sunny spot until the soil dries out completely, then I'll move them elsewhere in the house. The Earl May guy said they prefer direct sun and should be watered every three weeks. I set a reminder in my phone so I won't water them too frequently -- generally not a problem in this house! :)

This was a quick little project which I hope will brighten things up around here. It makes me believe that spring is ALMOST HERE! 

06 March 2015

Feline Friday: Bobbing for Morsels

 Remember bobbing for apples, that Halloween game some of us had to play as kids? (I hated it, by the way! Hated to get my hair wet...hated to get my face wet...hated the idea of kids slobbering in the water or on the apples! YUCK!) Well, recently there was a version of that game -- Bobbing for MORSELS -- taking place on our counter!

It was a Saturday morning and I was refilling Tinsel's food container, mixing two kinds of food together. I left the room for a split second and returned to THIS! Lily was up on the counter with her head WAY down in the container! Although I've seen her do this before, I'll admit it was pretty hilarious. (Spouse, as you can see, is completely oblivious to the entire situation taking place just behind him!)

Yum, got one! :)

04 March 2015

Vintage Dawn Dolls

I've been selling a few of my childhood items on eBay, starting with those that didn't tug too strongly at my heartstrings. Sooner or later I will need to work up to the toys that mean the most to me -- my Barbies and my Dawn Dolls. I'd much rather have some control over the process and know they will go to good homes than leave them for someone else to handle! So the first step in this process is to get them organized to sell.

Dawn Dolls were only manufactured for a short time in the early 1970's. They were all high fashion models with many beautiful outfits available for purchase. I collected six of the dolls -- Dale, two Dawns, Glori, Angie, and Jessica. In addition to the dolls, I also had a car (which I sold awhile back), a bedroom/kitchen set, and a couple of other furniture pieces. Dawn Dolls are very collectible right now, so this is the time to find them new homes.

As an aside, I'm taking lots of pictures of all of my childhood toys and plan to make a small album with the photos and the stories of each one. I have to remind myself that I do not need to keep all of these toys. Photos and journaling are really all you need to keep memories alive.

So back to my Dawn Dolls! My Dawn Dolls have been stored in a suitcase and are in very nice shape. I took a picture of them in the clothing that they've been wearing for the last 30 years, then I removed it and cleaned the dolls.

Dawn Dolls are smaller than Barbies, so it is easy to distinguish their clothing and shoes. I remember absolutely loving certain outfits, like the long gold dress with the floor-length cape and the green dress that Glori is wearing in the above picture.

I checked online and in my brochures to determine the original outfits for the dolls, then I re-dressed each of them. I still have many -- but not all -- of the tiny shoes, so I did my best to identify as many originals as I could. I'm still trying to figure out some shoe colors! How about those super short dresses? LOL

I have quite a few of the brochures which show pictures of many of the outfits I have. This helped me match up accessories and shoes. 

 Each outfit also came with a dress form and a matching hanger, so I looked up images of the outfits in the original packaging so that I could choose the right hanger color. I actually sold these three outfits, brand new in their packages, awhile back.

This sorting process took just a couple of hours and brought back some surprisingly vivid memories! I took very good care of my Dawn Dolls as a child and would quietly put them away before friends would come over. Their clothes were pretty delicate and I didn't want anybody damaging them!

By the time I finished sorting, I had matched up most of the outfits and accessories and put them in baggies. When I feel ready to let go, I'll start with the clothing then work my way up to the dolls. I will probably sell the dolls in groups or pairs so they don't have to go alone to their new homes! I'll admit it's going to be hard to part with them.

Someday soon I hope I'll be brave enough to do that! :(