Challenge reveal

I have successfully completed Laura’s 31-Day Challenge!

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1. What space did you decide to organize and why?
I tackled my Living Room. Because it’s just me and the cat in the house, and I don’t entertain, the Living Room had become a catch-all for Stuff. I wanted a space I could use and enjoy.

2. What steps did you take to ensure you completed the space within the 31 day timeline?
I kept my weekends as free as possible, and tried to do something every day.

3. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and how did you overcome it?
Letting go. Of any of it. I’m a Collector. It’s going to take a couple more passes through the bookshelves to get them where they should be. (Slow going, since I have to read a bit of each book to decide if it’s a Keeper or needs to be released to find a new home…)

I overcame this by reminding myself that there’s no point holding onto a book I won’t read again…even if it completes a series. No reason to hold onto tapes I might convert to MP3s someday… if I haven’t felt the need for the album in at least 10 years. No need to hold onto a perfectly good TV when I have a perfectly good TV I’m already using.

4. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

  • Two loads of cross stitch and sewing stuff went to a specialty thrift store.
  • Several loads of books went to the Library book sale.
  • Two loads of stuff, plus the TV & stand, went to GoodWill.
  • A fair bit went in the trash/recycling.
  • A lot of craft stuff went into the Craft Room. That’s another Big Project, but if I was going to finish the Living Room, I couldn’t let myself get distracted by the other stuff.

5. Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge?
Proudest moment? When I got some family photos displayed on a little table with two lighted candles – and I wasn’t worried about the table get bumped, the candles falling, and setting the house on fire.

6. Explain any organizing “tools” you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries?
I paid attention to the Containerize step and put a lot of effort into fitting things into containers and not just letting them sprawl across the space. I used some items I already had (trunks and suitcases) and bought two cubby benches.

7. What is ONE piece of organizing advice you’ve learned on this journey that you could encourage someone else with?
Plan First. Know what you want to do with the space, then make it happen. That was one of the major differences with this attempt at decluttering/organizing the space. Once I knew what I wanted to room to be used for, it was so much easier to make decisions.

For example, I knew I used the room for watching tv and storing my books, but I realized in the planning phase I also wanted to store my knitting, photography and genealogy hobbies here, which meant I needed to think about storage in a different way.

Across to the Window

Across to the Window

This first pair of photos shows the full length of the LR. You can see that the old TV & stand are GONE, the desk has taken their place, and new cubby benches are under the window. With pillows that have been hiding in the trunk for lo, these several years. The round table in front of the sofa acts as a tv tray, and the square table next to it now works for both the sofa and Grandma’s rocking chair.

Former TV Corner

Former TV Corner

Close-up of the former TV corner. The computer/desk set-up is temporary. I looked at 12 dozen audio tapes – and found one music album and three audio books I really, truly wanted converted for my iPod. The computer is the one I just replaced, and the monitor is a $20 GoodWill find. When I get the tapes converted, the stereo and computer are going away, and the desk will eventually find work in the craft room.

Stereo Wall

Stereo Wall

Another look at the tv/stereo end of things. The black office chair is also destined for the craft room.

Trunk

Trunk

The area between the bookshelves and the trunk/sofa. Speaks for itself.

Bookshelves

Bookshelves

View across the middle of the room, toward the bookshelves. It now has Grandma’s rocking chair, the black ottoman filled with Christmas books, and the small square table.

 

Across the Room

Across the Room

View back across the width of the room. The hats from the top of the bookcase are headed for the short wall over the closet in my bedroom. And the library table is fulfilling is chosen destiny by holding the library books (some of which are due back already… there hasn’t been enough reading time of late…)

trunks

A better view of the stack of trunks, suitcases and hatboxes behind the sofa. The large trunk and the square one on the left belonged to Great-Grandma Gould, who brought them with her from Ireland. The square one is her hat trunk! It currently holds all my photography gear. The large trunk has 1 blanket, 3 afghans, and genealogy stuff, which is also what’s in the suitcases and hatbox.

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My pride and joy right now! The start of a family photo collection, on a decorated table, with lit candles! Plus the pair of protective house-dragons underneath<g>

This space had been taken up by a large, dark media cabinet. The 12 dozen audio tapes are headed for GoodWill, and the CD collection is in 4 boxes stored under the sofa until I have time to compare them to my iTunes collection, at which point they’ll be moved out to the storage shed. The cabinet got Freecycled.

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The Target cubby-benches, filled with yarn and knitting supplies – all labeled!

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Just a shot to show off the empty space! This corridor has been Jenny-cat’s new favorite place to nap this week.

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(She’s not fond of cameras!)

This has been a fantastic project! I’m so glad I followed that link to Laura’s site.

To celebrate, I’m going to Disneyland! (Okay – that’s not the reason, but that is where I’m headed<g> A flying trip (literally) to meet up with my sister and family for one day.)

Then, I do another pass through the bookshelves, with the goal of going from three old laminated bookshelves (2 in the the living room, and 1 around the corner in the dining room) to 2 new Ikea bookshelves.

Then, I pick the next room. Either the kitchen, which doesn’t need that much work – it’s pretty well organized already. Or the dining room, which has also caught a lot of Stuff.

And while I’m working on the clearing out and organizing, I’m making lists for decorating. Painting the Living Room/Dining Room. Probably the bookshelves and the cubby-benches as well. Plus a new cushion on the rocking chair. And maybe figure out how to re-cover (slip-cover?) the ottoman. And the mid-sized round table needs refinishing…

Fun stuff. That there just hasn’t been room for.

Thanks, Laura!

 

Progress Report: 31 Day Organizational Challenge

I’m taking Laura’s OrgJunkie 31 Day Organizational Challenge this month.

I’ve been making progress by fits and starts.

I took Laura’s advice and cleared out all the obvious trash and junk first. Made more of a difference than I’d like to admit…

And then there were things like this. I lifted up the comforter that was sitting on top of the plastic milk crate that was sitting on one of the dining chairs that had migrated into the living room… and found a nest of light bulbs. I have Absolutely No Idea…

Nest of Lightbulbs

I’ve been steadily working on getting the crafting stuff shifted into the craft room. Which isn’t going to make *that* project easier – but it’s doing wonders for the living room! I’m not trying to sort or purge any of it (except for the cross stitch stuff that I know is going out.)

Then, after no one on Freecycle was interested in a FREE TV, my sister came over and we got the tv and stand loaded into the cars and hauled off to Goodwill. It’s only been sitting idle in the corner of the living room for three years now…

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I’ve jumped ahead on a couple points. In the Planning step, I decided I wanted to use the living room to store my knitting supplies, which are overflowing a pink portable case and covering half the sofa. So I decided a bench with cubbies for under the front window would be perfect. Well – while scouting Target to see what might be available, I found just what I was looking for – on sale. So, I bought two! Plus the six fabric boxes to go with them. My sister’s coming over this weekend to help me put them together.

The other point I jumped WAY ahead on isn’t even in the PROCESS list. I bought paint samples and painted two poster boards to audition them. Bless Pinterest and blogs – I now know how to paint faux-paneling. And, thanks to this challenge, I’ll be able to get close enough to the walls to do so!

So far, so good! I’m happy with my progress and can see how I’m going to finish by the end of March.

31-Day Organizational Challenge

I have accepted that clutter can’t be organized. And that I have way too much “stuff.”

So, I’m giving Freecycle, Goodwill and the trash a workout this month, and joining Laura at Organizing Junkie for a month-long organizational challenge!

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I’m tackling the Living Room. It was a toss-up between that and the Craft Room/Office. But that one’s a little more (no, a lot more) intimidating – and I’d like a Success before I try that!

Before photos, in no particular order:

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There are a few points in the Living Room I like. The wall of custom-built RED paperback bookshelves a friend built for me. The little red candle light hanging in front of them. The stack of books (you wouldn’t believe how hard it was for me to use books as a stand!), pottery, and fake fern (mostly) hiding power cords.

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Sunflower Birthday Card

Jeanette loves Sunflowers so that’s what she got on her birthday card.

This card is 4″ square (the line along the bottom of the front is an acrylic ruler holding the card closed.)

The photo on the front I took last summer at Luther Burbank Home & Gardens. (My camera has a good telephoto lens – I was not that close to a bee!)

The interior sunflower is a random internet find – I did a search for “sunflower coloring sheet” and found it. I colored it in Photoshop, and kludged my way through Illustrator to create an svg file. I imported that into Silhouette Studio Designer Edition for my cutting line. I’m sure I did it the long way round, it’s something to work on…

I did a lot of searching for decent “exploding card” instructions and/or videos. Lots on “exploding boxes”, not so much the card, but I finally found enough info.

The Happy Birthday confetti is from the Silhouette online store. (happy_birthday_with_shadow__C00942_19210) I calculated that I could fit 2″ pieces in the card, so I shrank it *way* down and set up a row of 4. I then created a rectangle on top of that, and filled it with a gradient. I printed just the gradient onto some photo paper that wasn’t working for me for photos, but gave the confetti a little shine. Then I cut them. I love how the Cameo can handle tiny little details! I had to finesse the ‘y’ on 2 of them, but the other two popped right out.

Another card, another several learning experiences<g> I’m having a blast!

Plum Medallion Card

I have a new Silhouette Cameo die-cutting machine. I’m having fun.

This card started from a challenge at Monica’s Creative Madness for Silhouette owners. The rules were: square card, use a digital stamp, and add buttons. This is what I came up with.

Thinking of You Plum Floral Medallion

The card is 5″ square. (and it is square – I need to practice my craft photography!)

The digital stamp is from Fred, She Said’s Sentimental Flower Doodledallion Set, colored with two different styles of gradients in Photoshop Elements. The flower is attached with foam tape, and the edges of the white pieces are paper-pierced.

The cardstock background is printed from Beth Nixon’s Altered Journey digital page kit (no longer available.)

The font is English Hand WF from Walden Font Co.

The buttons were a delightfully fortuitous find – I was looking for small pearly buttons and found these which are perfect! (Belle Buttons by Dritz #BB517)

I do love Challenges! And I’m utterly delighted with how this card turned out.

Shabby Leaf

I like challenges. Contests. Deadlines (although those frequently go Whoosh! in passing they do get me moving.) So, thank you CSI Project, for inspiring this bit of Autumn deco.

Supplies:

  • Leaf pattern
  • Old catalog (a magazine or newspaper would also work)
  • About 1 foot of wire (I used 20 gauge copper – colored craft wire would be fun)
  • Mod Podge
  • Paint (I used red and orange)

Tools:

  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Wire cutter
  • Brush (I used a little foam brush for both the Mod Podge and the paint)

I started with a Google Image search for a maple leaf pattern. I found one (along with 4 Pumpkin Pie recipes) at http://www.gweni.mrogenski.com/photos.htm. I printed it and cut it out.

Using my pattern and the craft knife, I cut leaves out of the catalog. It might have been easier if I’d used a little something to stick the pattern down with. But since I knew I wanted a rough, not-quite-finished look this worked fine. I cut 3 sets of leaves. I cut from the inside to the outside on each point, and moved the catalog around so I was always cutting AWAY from myself. (Cutting through the layers pulls on the blade and it wants to zoom off as you finish.)

Since I was cutting down through multiple layers of pages, my cuts weren’t all the same depth so I had a couple leaves where I tore a corner that hadn’t been cut. I ended up with about 2 dozen leaves of mostly the same size and shape.

Next I worked on the stem. I took the wire and cut about 6″. I folded it in half and twisted the ends together, leaving a loop (about big enough to fit a pencil into). Then I curled the end into a spiral so there’d be a good surface for the Mod Podge to stick to.

To assemble this, I started with a piece of cooking parchment so my leaf wouldn’t stick too much while I was layering it. I applied Mod Podge between each layer of paper leaf. I wanted a rough finish, so I didn’t worry about getting the leaf layers lined up exactly, or about keeping the surface perfectly smooth.

When I got half-way through the stack, I added the stem. After that, I made sure I pressed firmly around the stem each time I added a layer. When I had all the layers stuck down, I turned up several of the points to give it some shape.

To let this dry, I strung several paperclips together, hooked the top one over the arm of the chandelier, and the other end through the loop on the stem. Just make sure it’s dry enough first that the stem doesn’t slide out. I kept picked it up and moving it around on the parchment so it wouldn’t stick.

When the Mod Podge was dry, I painted the leaf – front and back – with red. I left the uneven edges plain. Then I added the orange, more or less through the center of the leaf, leaving brushmarks to give it some texture. I liked the way the print on the catalog pages showed through. You could add extra coats if you wanted less transparency. I then hung it back on the chandelier to dry again.

After the paint dried, I took the remain wire and cut it into three pieces, one longer than the other two. I used round-nosed pliers to turn the wire pieces into coils, but you could wrap them around a knitting needle or pen or some such. After twisting them into tight coils, I pulled them into tendrils. I made loops in one end of each wire and added them to the stem.

Now my Shabby Leaf adds a touch of Autumn to my computer lamp. Let’s see if I remember to take it down before Christmas<g>

Visit thecsiproject.comSee what other crafty folk are doing with Mod Podge. Some amazingly creative projects.

Experimenting with Tattoos

Somehow or other, I ended up with one of the little Dover books of temporary tattoos (they’re Celtic, so they may have been hanging around since St Patrick’s time (that is, my time in the Guild of St Patrick’s!))

I wondered – would they work with Polymer Clay/ Based on two experiments so far – yes, mostly.

The first one I tried was the mermaid. I followed the directions and applied her to raw clay, then baked it. She came out with a crackle finish.

The dog I tried on a pre-baked base. I had a little more trouble getting the backing off, but that may have been user error. (I have 8 more experiment with.) That one ended up looking a little rubbed.

They both looked “antiqued” and I love it! The circles are badly ragged because I tried using the lid to a spice jar for a cutter (the only handy thing large enough for the tattoos) and it doesn’t have a sharp edge. I’m going to seal these, string one of them and get my nephew to give it a field trial next week – if it survives Patrick I have a winner<g>.