Friday, April 30, 2010

I Heart Organizing - Work Area Makeover

I don't know why I'm still living in Indiana. Winters get me so down and make me extremely lazy. My work area is in the basement, and it gets way too cold down there in the winter to work on any of my projects. So what happens is I get what I need from the basement and bring it up to the livingroom. I do some work and then dump my stuff back down in the basement. Here is what happened:

See why the Etsy shop has been slow? What a mess!

For years I've been dreaming of a workspace that is organized and functional. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this week I created just that!

First, as a part of spring cleaning, I went through all of my supplies and put together bags of goodies for the teachers I know for their classrooms. Seriously, what am I going to do with 25 two pocket folders?! I’ve also been collecting wine bottles with the intention of making lamps for my shop. Well, I haven’t made any lamps and I’ve collected far too many bottles. I offered all but my favorites of the bottles up on Freecycle, and they were picked up the same day. Once I donated everything I don't need or won't use, I started organizing what was left. Matt was kind enough to donate a piece of his pegboard to my work area, and I put it in a pretty poster it doesn't look like it belongs in a garage ; ) Now, I have my tools and supplies organized, in sight, and accessible. I was WAY excited about the framed pegboard. I just love how functional it is!

Next, I wanted to tackle my gift and packaging supplies. I always have a mess of tissue paper and ribbon in a pile somewhere. The tissue paper gets all wrinkly and creased and the ribbon gets all tangled. PVC pipe to the rescue! I sketched out my idea of a rack so that I knew how much to get and how many connections I needed. Then, all I had to do was cut, arrange, and put together my rack. PVC is extremely cheap - I think $0.78 per 5 foot piece. I used 6 pieces and a bunch of connectors that were $0.24 each. PVC is also easy to cut (I was able to do it myself!) and easy to put together. Here are some of the steps:

While it's easy to work with, PVC pipes are not the prettiest. Easy fix: spraypaint. Does it look like metal? hahaha I was going for the industrial look.
Here is the rack all filled up with goodness:

I got a whole bag full of baby food jars from Freecycle and used them to hold my odd pieces of ribbon and string. I new I would find a use for them. Aren’t they adorable?

At work we go through boxes and boxes of bond paper and envelopes. Instead of trashing those boxes, I use them for organizing (and sometimes shipping).

Here is my made-over work area:

Happy organizing!! : )

Thursday, April 29, 2010


It's harder than it sounds. At home it's rush, rush, rush to get to work or rush, rush, rush, to get dinner ready. Then it's rush, rush, rush to get the food to my belly. It's ridiculous.

Speeding up and slowing down is a cycle for me, probably for a lot people. One day, in the middle of a mad dash to a filing cabinet, it just clicks, and I remember to focus on the present. This is something that takes a lot of practice, hence the cycles. Fortunately, with practice, the cycles get shorter and shorter, with more time being spent consciously. Hopefully, someday the daily sprint will be a thing of the past, but right now, I really have to work hard to focus and be in the here and now.

Slowing down is beneficial mentally and phsically. I'm NOT condoning couchpotatohood. Eating slower, however, yes, it is good for you phsically. Walking slower, for me anyway, is good phsically because I run into less stuff. I've been trying to slow down at work, and it has made my days so much easier. I take time to appreciate and be proud of my work (not necessarily the concept, but accuracy, style, etc. the product itself) I don't get those long, boring clumps of brain deteriorating time to spin in my chair or pick staples out of the carpet. At home, enjoy the time you have to spend with your favorite people. Drag out dinner and TALK. Our couch is getting dusty and I love it. Matt and I have been talking more and zoning out less (at least when we're together - I don't know how much he zones out when we're apart). Anyways, I have no idea what channel the TV was last left on because it's been a long time since I've watched it. We've been working on our projects - things we enjoy doing - and, though they're totally different projects, we've been working together. In the garage together, in the basement together, running errands together. We've been doing our own things, but I've been feeling pretty close to him. Maybe it's just because I've been paying attention. I've been slowing down, and now I feel like I can have all the time I want to do the things I want to do. Give it a shot.

Here are some of my favorite slowing down links:

Slow Food

Practical Tips to Practice Being Present

Savor Little Things

The Art of Doing Nothing

Are your days crazy? Take control.

Do Less to be more productive.

Yes...most of my links are from Zen Habits - probably because it's my FAVORITE peace of mind site ever. I definitely recommend poking around Leo's blog. He has a lot of real life, practical advice to share.

Thanks for reading! = )

Monday, April 26, 2010

One man's trash...

Is my treasure! I finally finished my "new" sewing cabinet! I posted pictures when I started (here and here), but just as a quick reminder, here's what this awful table looked like when I got it for $5 (antique sewing machine included) at a barn sale:

  The took the top and door off before I remembered to take pictures, but they were just as yucky. 

And now, after a little sanding, a little painting, and some new hardware, here's what my treasure looks like:
I still have to transfer my grandma's sewing machine from it's original cabinet into this one, but it requires taking apart the foot pedal to get the cord out of the table, so I want Matt to supervise ; ) As far as the cabinet goes though: DONE! I'm extremely pleased with the way it turned out...and now I'm trying to restrain myself from buying more junk furniture hahaha!

My new nephew is here!

Gianni arrived [healthy] in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Giuliana is officially a big sister now - something we can bond over ; )

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Happy Administrative Professionals Day!

Okay, so it's a Hallmark holiday - as an "administrative professional" I like it : ) Here's what I found for all of the ladies at work:

Random Dawdle Paper Mouse Pad from KnockKnock

Here are a few of the "Random Statements" from the "True" or "False" section (hard to read in the picture):

What a great day!
I'm not here right now.
I'm going to win the lottery.
I've never been so bored.
I love my job.
I only look like I'm working.
This person may never shut up.
My boss is an angel.

I like it so much, I ought to get one for myself.
Check out KnockKnock - lots of hilarious yet surprisingly useful products.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Love is in the air.

So I've been thinking a lot about love and happiness lately - everything just feels so good right now. I think it's the weather. At the same time, I've been incredibly busy. I do it to myself - pile on projects and then complain about projects piling up. It's a strange cycle. I was a little worried that I was taking on too much and that my happy feelings would fade away, welcoming stress. Then I got this beautiful postcard from Micaela in the mail. It's like she read my mind.

It put all of my happy thoughts back on center stage; so simple yet a perfect illustration of how I've been feeling lately. Thanks, Micaela!!

It's been such a long time since I've received any fun snail mail. I forgot what a good feeling it is!! I went against my eco-conscience and went straight to my favorite local stationery store, Spark's, to get my best friend a "just because" card. I really should've made a card or sent something I already had - buying new doesn't always sit well with me, but I was in the market for some gifts for Administrative Professionals Day anyway, my craft stuff is a mess, and I was really excited to send Jenna some surprise I got her a new card. It felt good to send my happy thoughts her way. I bet she smiles : )

Okay, now back to my projects….

Monday, April 12, 2010

Custom Bags

For the past couple weeks I've been working on a custom order for a wedding. This is an addition to the order I wrote about a few weeks ago. The original order was for 125 teeny tiny drawstring bags for soaps to be used as wedding favors. After a month of work, my buyer and I found out that our measurements weren't quite sufficient for the soaps. I was really upset, but then my buyer ordered 60 more! She is making her own buttons to put in them. Such a cute idea! I immediately wanted to go get a button maker - that's how I roll - IMPULSIVE! Anyways, here's the process I go through to make these itty bitty bags.

Step 1: Cut 120 squares of material (2 for each bag). Inspection Round 1.

Step 2: Clean up the edges and iron each square, creating a fold on one side to be sewn for the drawstring. Inspection Round 2.

Step 3: Sewing. Inspection Round 3. After each bag is sewn, I push and pull, inside and out, to make sure that the stitch is strong and that there are no flaws.

Step 4: Insert drawstrings. Inspection Round 4.

Day 11: Pack & Ship. Done!

It's a lot of work, but the bags turn out so cute! I love this idea for wedding favors - creative and fun!

Etsy Love: SnuggyBaby

My new nephew is coming!! 12 days! I'm so excited to meet the little guy : )

Of course, I ran to Etsy to help me find the perfect little something to welcome the new kid to the planet. I fell in love with Snuggy Baby's shop, and found a beautiful baby sling for my sister. I love the print and the color.

I was shocked when I got our order in the mail the VERY NEXT DAY. It was beautifully packaged, with a pretty ribbon and a card explaining where to go for instructions and ideas.

I love the babywearing concept - it's extremely beneficial to both the parents and the baby. The SnuggyBaby motto is "Every baby needs a sling - Every mom deserves one." Hopefully, my sister will get a lot of use out of it!

My niece, Giuliana, has been the only child princess for almost 3 years. So, to make sure she doesn't feel left out, we got a little sling for her babydolls, so she can be just like mommy.

Giuliana is at the cutest age for opening presents. She was so excited to get a gift, but when she opened it, she didn't know what it was! It looks like just a piece of fabric. She held it up and said "umm...I opened it!" Then, when Matt and I were leaving, she said "Thank you for the clothes!" She'll understand when she sees baby brother in mommy's sling.

Our Special Deliveries

Thank you, SnuggyBaby, for these beautiful gifts! I'll definitely be back for my own someday!

SnuggyBaby also has a direct website and a Facebook page.

THIS WEEKEND I LEARNED...back up my files!!! On Saturday I discovered I had lost my flash drive. I was so sad; my whole life is on that tiny thing - my budgets, resumes and cover letters, christmas planning, Forget Me Not pictures and templates, college work...EVERYTHING - six years of work! I've never lost it before; I was a wreck. I was so mad at myself for not backing my files up to my computer at home. I looked everywhere for it and traced my steps back to every place I went on Friday. Then, today at work I thought of one more place, ran out to my car, and sure enough, it had somehow gotten thrown to the passenger side and was between the seat and the door. I was SO relieved. As soon as I get home I'M BACKING UP MY FILES!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Busy, busy, busy!

So the table is almost done being painted, but the project has been put on hold. I had another order for 100 little bags AND the girl who ordered a bunch of tiny custom bags (that I wrote about a few posts back) wants 60 more! : )

The 100-bag order is ready to go!

Party in a box!

Oh, and have you been to
my Etsy shop lately? Forget Me Not got a makeover!

Busy, busy, busy! I'd better get to work on the custom bags - pics coming : )

TODAY I LEARNED...How to use USPS Click-N-Ship. It's so easy, but if I use it, I can't use my own pretty shipping labels.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sharing – The Grown-Up Way ; )

I've been a subscriber to Zen Habits for about 4 years now, and Leo's posts always inspire me. He writes a lot about minimalism, healthy habits, finances, and happiness in general. This guy is one of my heroes. He and his wife have 6 young kids, he makes a living on writing, and he has the most positive and useful blog on the interweb. He practices what he preaches and shares those experiences so that others can learn from them. Today I got an e-mail with his list of 34 Little Ways to Share With the World.

Some of these are SO easy - anyone can do this stuff, and we all SHOULD be doing this stuff. Sharing only makes things better!

Here are some of my favorites:

+ Donate money, food, or other goods to charity. We all have food and "other goods" that could go towards a better cause. If you have extra food from your garden, make a pretty platter full of fruits and veggies and take it to a homeless shelter. Clean out your basement, garage, and closets and donate anything you don't love or use. (This will also help you get rid of clutter and clean things up.) I follow the 1 year rule with clothes. If I haven't worn it in a year, odds are I'm not going to next year either - donate them. Put your things up on

+ Bake cookies or brownies and share with a neighbor. I don't know my neighbors very well, and though this would be a nice gesture and an ice breaker, I'm just not that outgoing. However, I would be comfortable bringing treats into work or sending a surprise package of goodies to a friend. Easy!

+ Put your favorite recipes on a blog and share with the world. I already have one in mind - I'll save it for another day though mmmmm ; )

+ Give step-by-step instructions for doing something valuable you know how to do, online, for all to read. One of Matt's favorite websites is Instructables. Here, people post instructions for how to do just about anything. It's so cool that people share their know-how - pass it on!

+ Become a member of Freecycle, and participate. I found my area's Freecycle group on Yahoo Groups - such a cool thing to be a part of. Each day I get a list of posts from other group members either wanting or offering random things. Everything is free. From computers to kitchen utensils, you can give and request anything (of course, the giving part is the point). I've seen people give away cars!

+ If you own copyrighted work, uncopyright it. Why keep it for yourself? If it's something you like, wouldn't you want to share it with the world? Here's what Leo has to say about it.

+ Perform random acts of kindness. Easy.

+ Clean up a park near you. "Leave it cleaner than it was when you got there" our parents always told us. Apply that to everything. Take an extra bag with you when you're walking your dog so you can pick up trash along the way.

+ Borrow and lend things in your neighborhood by using Share Some Sugar. Such a cool website! You might also want to check out TimeBanks (where people share their time and services). This reminds me of the "Free Box" that Matt and I saw in Telluride, CO. Right off the main road was a huge wooden box with compartments labeled for different categories (books, baby, housewares, etc.). I was already impressed with Telluride, and this was icing on the cake. It's common to donate things to Goodwill, or other similar organization, where people can then purchase what you donated. In T-Ride, people put their donations in the Free Box. Anyone can take anything from the Free Box for, you guessed it, free. The whole town shares!

+ Be compassionate in all human transactions. This brings me to Joe Rogan's blog. One of his posts was all about how he got the idea that we are all connected and we're all one. So, if you treat each person as if that person is you, it's easy to be compassionate : ) It's kind of trippy, but is probably my favorite post of his. Check it out.

+ Make things, and give them to people. I can't wait to participate in my first swap. Those of you that do the various swaps are the best at this. Putting together beautiful packages of goodies and sending them out to complete strangers...for no particular reason, just sharing - I LOVE IT!

So there you go...I've shared some things : )

TODAY I LEARNED…sharing isn't just for kindergarteners!

Old to New

Sooo....staining isn't my thing...or maybe the wood is just too dark…or maybe I didn’t do it right. Anyways, I started my attempt at staining an old sewing cabinet blue and, well, it's not turning out how I imagined.

Doesn't look very blue...

Plan B: Paint. I bought some really pretty light blue paint today, and hopefully I'll have the table painted by Thursday.

On to the details...Here is the original handle for the door of the cabinet:

That is getting replaced with:

Love it!

While I'm on the topic of sewing...sort is a cute little storage box that Matt and Josh found at a garage sale a few weeks ago. It came full of thread and with scissors, ribbon, beads and sequins - those guys sure know me!

I love odd finds like this that I can put to good use. I washed it with dish soap and a sponge, and then got in the small areas with q-tips. Now it doesn't smell like my grandma's garage ; )

It had a spongy thing with it that I'm assuming is for pins...? It was yellow and not very pretty, so I took some scrap canvas and pinned it around the sponge for a cleaner look.

I'm REALLY new to sewing, so I didn't have much, just a couple small emergency sewing kits from college. Now, thanks to my bargain hunters, I have plenty of supplies AND a place to keep everything (I love containers). It feels good. Kind of like when you vow to start running and so you go out and buy a bunch of running clothes - that kind of good feeling. I don't know when I will need it all, but I have it, and it's all organized. Gotta love storage : )

Thursday, April 1, 2010

First ride of the year…

I was finally able to get my bike out and ride to work today. Here are a couple things I saw along the way that caught my attention:

I love this lamp! I like the style, the colors, and the materials - everything about it! It would go so great in my room!

"fossilized cocoa leaf lampshades…

light made from chocolate? not quite, but the cocoa leaves used for these lamps are collected from the same plant chocolate is made from. fossilization is the process of drying leaves over a three to four month period and then hand rubbing the chlorophyll of the leaf so only the leaf’s skeleton remains. this is a labor-intensive process and no corrosive chemicals are used.

once the chlorophyll is removed, the leaf is stained in organic dyes. since the leaves are natural, each one will absorb dye differently. the resulting effect is a lamp with different hues and shades (sometimes within the same leaf). "

Eangee makes some fabulous, ecofriendly home decor. Check them out!

YAY for Power Tools!

Yesterday was sunny and a perfect day to start my April project. My dad gave me my grandma's 1938 Singer sewing machine, in the original cabinet. I LOVE this machine! My only problem is that the cabinet has several water rings and scratches and needs to be completely refinished. This is not something I'm willing to tackle on my own, for fear that I will ruin the cabinet. I found out that refinishing furniture is not cheap...AT ALL. I don't want to cause any more damage, sooooo.....I was on a mission to find another cabinet to use (that doesn't have sentimental value) so that I can keep the original cabinet safe until I can afford to have it professionally refinished. Lucky for me, Matt has good eyes, and he spotted an old sewing cabinet at a barn sale last month. $5 for machine and cabinet! YAY!! Both were in horrible condition though; the machine doesn't even work. But 5 bucks for a cabinet - right on! So now my project: sanding and staining/painting. Yikes!

Fortunately, Matt, tired of being cooped
up all winter, was pretty quick to jump on the sanding outside. He did the whole top (both sides of it) and door.

After that, he showed me how to do it myself. LOL sanding gets old quick! First I had to go over the whole table by hand with 50-grit to get the finish off. Then, I used a palm sander on the whole thing, one time with the 50-grit and then finally with150-grit. Here are some before and after pics - from nasty and dirty, to almost ready to be stained:

My goal is to stain the table light blue, but if it turns out that I'm horrible at staining, then I will just paint it a light dusty blue. Here is the stain that I like:

Let's just hope that this crappy table doesn't fall completely apart on me!

Here's the machine that came with it (doesn't work - still pretty cool though):

YESTERDAY I to use a palm sander.

Oh! And a follow-up about my custom order - she wants to keep the bags! : ))