Friday, November 23, 2018

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

I guess you could say I have a bit of OCD; I like everything to be planned to the last detail and everything to be arranged in a neat and orderly fashion.  Over the years, I’ve learned that everything just goes so much smoother and most of the stress is eliminated when I can set a schedule and stick to it. Some of the events that I host have been using the same basic format and schedule for ten or more years.  I found a formula, and I stick with it.  I don’t think I could operate any other way.

This hasn’t always been the case.  Yes, I always wanted to be organized and efficient, but it just didn’t happen.  Take Thanksgiving, for example. I would get up Thursday morning and have this huge laundry list of food that needed to be cooked, rooms that needed to be cleaned, tables that needed to be set…you get the picture.  I felt like a chicken running around with my head cut off, and my poor family…we’ll let’s just say they tried very hard to stay out of my way, and when they couldn’t, they would find themselves tasked with something they hadn’t planned on doing.  Then my daughter, Christen, and I came up with an almost foolproof plan one year that has worked very well ever since -- we planned everything in reverse.

The idea was really Christen’s to start with, when she asked, “What time do we want to eat?”  From there, we were able to work our way backwards through the myriad tasks, delegating each to a timeslot (usually with a built-in time cushion), and instantly, we knew exactly what had to get done and when we needed to do it. It was like the sunrise dawning on the first day!  From then on, we planned every event to the last detail, working our way backwards through all the prep work, until there was really no doubt about what needed to happen.  Having that list is a safety net, so that I don’t catch myself panicking because I forgot to boil the eggs for the dressing, or the guests are arriving and the table hasn’t been set.  We’ve also added to the list over the years; we included my niece in the planning, stretched the planning to include the entire holiday season (right through New Year’s Day), and even started prepping some of the food a day early.

Don’t get me wrong; I still get off schedule.  This year, dinner was a full hour late.  Even though I cooked all my cakes and pies the day before, I was up into the wee hours Wednesday night cleaning up my living room and dining room; my son, Steven moved last weekend, leaving behind boxes and piles of useless stuff he didn’t want or need any more.  In the mean time, my niece, Ashley, moved into his room, and we had piles of things to go to the shed, boxes to be donated, and more personal items that still needed to be put somewhere.  I did what I could Wednesday night, and then got up Thursday morning and started on it again with help from my hubby (Mark) and Ashley.  It put us behind schedule, but we pulled it off, and when the earliest guests started arriving, we put them to work, too, finishing the set-up on the tables, peeling potatoes, and arranging trays of appetizers.  It all worked.  No one complained they were starving, and I happily went on with my very well planned To-Do list, knowing exactly what needed to happen and in what order, albeit an hour later.  It was almost entirely stress free, even when the gravy boiled over (twice) and the dressing wasn’t browned on time. 

Now I’m super excited about the rest of the holidays. I met with Christen and Ashley last Monday, to plan out the entire holiday season, and my next project is to turn all of it into an annual “Holiday Planner” for my family, complete with recipes, schedules, guest lists, gift ideas, decorating and crafts, and more.  I plan to set it up in a Happy Planner of some sort, with sections for each holiday, and subsections for all the lists I need to keep.  I’m thinking the lists themselves will be a combination of pre-printed forms and lists, Project Life pocket pages, hand embellished scrapbook-style pages, December Daily, 30 Days of Gratitude, New Years Resolutions, and more. I want it to be something that not only lets us plan and enjoy our holiday season, but also to reflect on it year after year.  

So watch for bits and pieces of my holiday planner to show up here on the blog throughout the next few weeks, and hopefully I’ll do a final flip-through after January 1st.  Until then, keep crafting!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Summer Fun

I don’t know why, but spring and summer seem to wreak havoc with my schedule.  Maybe it’s because there’s so many things going on with schools and holidays, and then suddenly it’s summer and there’s more holidays, and kids to deal with, and summer vacations…. And even though both my children are fully grown (although one does still live at home), I still always seem to get lost in there somewhere.  This spring, all the Crafty Neighbors were busy getting ready for our cruise at the end of May.  It was something of a challenge because during our prep time we had three conventions, National Scrapbook Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day, several birthdays, tax season (did I mention that Shelley is an accountant?), and our Crafty Neighbor garage sale.  That was just January through May! I foolishly thought things might slow down for us, but that was not to be.  I’m leaving on another cruise in about four weeks with my Aggie Moms group, we have another scrapbook garage sale coming up next weekend, we’re trying to find a venue for our annual Think Pink for the Cure crop, and I just got back from my second convention in two months.  Whew! I guess I was not meant to live a slow and relaxing life – I wouldn’t know what to do with myself anyway!

Speaking of the convention…last month we went to the Great American Scrapbook Convention, which is now owned by Creating Keepsakes.  Last year, I was pleasantly surprised that it seemed to be making a come-back, but then this year there were less vendors again, so I don’t know if last year was just a fluke, or what.  This weekend was the Heirloom Pro Rubber Stamp Show.  This one has always been a bit on the small size – they use the Grapevine Convention Center – and the last few years, they went from having a full room plus vendors out in the halls to not even being able to fill the main room. I was starting to worry about them.  They come here twice per year, but was it worth it? Today, it seemed like they, too, were having a bit of a come back, and there were several new vendors we hadn’t seen before.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Laura, Cindy, and Sixta
Laura is going to be one of our instructors on the next cruise!
I hadn’t really intended to do any shopping (I know, that’s what I always say!), but we stopped to do a FREE make-n-take at the Craft Fantastic booth, and then I had to buy some jewelry parts to turn it into the piece I really wanted.  I also bought a few more Copic markers for my collection, and select Tombow markers.  I like the Tombows for my calligraphy…the brush tips are wonderful.  So here’s what I got, including the glass piece we made at the CF booth and the cute bag tag we made at the Fun Stampers Journey booth.

So the make-n-take was FREE, which is pretty unusual in itself, but all we did was add the paper to the glass.  The show special was to offer a bracelet kit for free that you can add your glass piece to, but all they had was the antique color, and I much prefer silver, so I bought these pretty bird cage brooches, some pinch bails, and a bit of ball chain.  When I got home, I pried the pin back of the bird cage and sanded it down good, added one of the pinch bails and the ball chain, and voila!

What do you think? I think it turned out really cute, but I’m not sure if I want to keep it or give it away!  While I try to decide, I should tell you about our semi-annual scrapbook garage sale.  I know this won’t mean much to you guys who live out of state, but for anyone in the DFW/North Texas area, this is a must-see event! Our sale is so big and so good that we have people drive from Louisiana to shop – more than 4 hours away!  It really is that awesome!  This year I have 23 vendors, each with at least two 5-foot tables full of merchandise.  If you’re looking for scrapbooking and craft supplies, stamps, punches, Cricut, inks, totes, etc., we’ll probably have it.  So come on out, next Saturday, July 21, to the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas Service Center at 6001 Summerside Drive, Dallas, Tx 75252 from 9AM to 2PM.  Sorry but all our seller space is full.  If you’d like to be on our waiting list, visit our website (see the link below), and sign up for our mailing list to make sure you don’t miss it next time.

That’s it for today.  I’ve got to get to work finding a location for our Think Pink crop.  If you know of a good place in the North Dallas – Carrollton – Plano – Irving area, please let me know!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Bags, Tags, Boxes and More...

Hey there crafty friends!  I’m back today with a couple of quick projects to share with you. First up are the tags I made for our tag swap. 

Goody bags are one of the many amenities our cruise participants enjoy. Check out these adorable bags we stuffed with all kinds of goodies donated by our sponsors. 

Shelley came up with this super cute shadow box as our first class on this year’s cruise. Isn’t it cute?  It’s super easy to make, too, and our crafters loved it. 

Last, but not least, I wanted to show you our onboard crop room. 

We’ve been using it for a couple of days, so it’s a bit messy right now, but I forgot to take one when we first set up. Everyone is asleep right now, but we’ll be back in the morning with a fresh new set of classes. I hope you’ll come back for a peak at those!  Until then, I hope you’ll go do something crafty!