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!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Cruisin’ the Caribbean

Hi there Crafty Neighbors! I’m writing to you from the beautiful Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas! We are out here somewhere between Grand Cayman and Jamaica, and we’re having a great time. I had hoped to have some blog posts for you before we left for this cruise, but I didn’t quite make it. Fortunately, I bought the Wi-Fi package and that has enabled me to share with you some of the things we’ve been working on here. I’m hoping to follow today’s post with a whole series of them over the next few days while I’m on board. I want to share with you some of the things that are happening onboard and showcase some of the projects we are working on and have given as gifts to the Crafter’s in our group. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing those project, and I will post instructions for some of the projects after I get back. So watch for my posts and here’s the first project I have to share with you -- a pillow gift we gave out on Monday evening. 

Shelley Cox from Sassafrass Arts and Crafts created these cute chapstick holders. I made the charms from black shrinky-dink that I bought online at I cut them using the Forever Young cartridge on my Cricut. 

Note: you will need to use the multi-cut feature to cut all the way through. I cut these about twice as big as I wanted them to be when they shrink. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

I Had a Vision...

You know that feeling you get when you finally finish that project you've been working on for months?  You know the one…it’s been sitting there on your work table, and you’ll glance at it occasionally, and you might even work on it a bit from time to time, but you can never seem to find the time to just sit down and finish it.  And then, when you finally do, it’s like this huge weight has lifted off your shoulders and you have this amazing sense of accomplishment.  It doesn’t matter if the project is work or play, that feeling is the same no matter what.  And that’s exactly how I feel right now!

Some time in January, I decided that I needed to create a vision board to set my focus and intention for the coming year.  It was my hope that looking at this vision board every day would help me grow my business, be more organized, lose some weight, spend more time with family, save more money, and add a bit more adventure and travel to my life.  I wanted to share the idea with my other crafty friends, so I formed a class and we worked diligently all afternoon cutting out words and images from magazines and really thinking about what areas of our lives we wanted to improve.  But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and apparently, Vision Boards, aren’t either. I’ve been working on it steadily since then, but somehow, I could never find the time to finish my vision board.

Until today.

Thursdays are the day I host my regular Mother’s Day Out crop (most of us are retired grandmothers, but we’ve kept the moniker just the same).  I set out to make a serious dent in my vision board project because I feel like I’m missing out on the good vibes all those positive messages would be sending me, and I was afraid I wasn’t going to get to work on it at all because a bunch of work popped up at the last minute, and I spent more than half the day working on that instead of breaking out the scissors and paste.  But eventually I finished up my work and got to start back on my project and then, about 6 o’clock, I suddenly realized I was nearly done!  I just had a few empty spots to fill and a handful of cut out words and images I needed to add to my poster.  Before I knew it, the vision board was done and I had to share with my daughter, Christen, and a few select friends.

Of course, I couldn’t leave it at that.  I like to share my projects, and I especially like to share projects that I’m particularly happy with.  So that’s why I thought I’d share it to my blog today.  So here it is, at long last, my Vision Board.

I do offer this project as a class, complete with poster board, glue, and lots of magazines, so if you’re in the Dallas, Texas area and you want to make one, give me a shout!  I’ll set up a class!  Until then, keep crafting!


Friday, January 26, 2018

A Pack Rat's Guide Continues...

I little while ago, I posted a Facebook Live video feed of my messed up, maxed out crop room I fondly refer to as Crafty Neighbor Studios.  It’s a wreck.  Between the chaos of the holidays, my niece moving in for a bit, and the “purge” cycle my husband is going through, it has accumulated a lot of stuff, and now I have to find a place to put all of it.  Whether that is safely stored in my shelves, tossed in the trash, sold in a garage sale, or donated to ScrapDenton remains to be seen, but I have to do something with it and I have to do something NOW!  Just watch the video, and you’ll see what I’m talking about!

So this video reminded me of some blog posts I did many moons ago about decluttering and organizing, and they have some great tips and info that bears repeating.  If you weren’t around then, I urge you to check out these 4 articles.  I think they’ll help.  And with any luck, I will have more tips to share with you as I clean up this big mess and get my studio back to being my happy place where I love to create!  Until then, please enjoy:

Happy Spring Cleaning!


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New Year, New Everything

I know it's been a while since I posted.  There have been a lot of dramatic changes in the Murray household over the last few months.  For those of you who don't know, my younger sister, Patsy, passed away on September 1 after a lengthy illness.  She left a big hole in this world, and we are all learning to cope with that.  She was survived by a daughter, my niece, who is disabled and was dependent on her.  After spending some time with my mother, my niece has come to stay with me, and we are trying to help her become independent.  It's a long process, and very time consuming, but we are excited about what the future holds.

So in the mean time, I've had about a gazillion irons in the fire.  One of them that pops up this time every year is cleaning and reorganizing.  I don't know about you, but I always have to do a lot of reorganizing right after the holidays.  I have to find a place for all the stuff we bought and received as gifts.  Then I have my semi-annual scrapbook garage sale coming up this weekend, so I need to go through all my craft supplies to see what I can get rid of.  But that's not all.  It has spread across the whole house.  We cleaned out the tupperware cabinet and I reorganized my closet.  We've also had to clean out one of the spare bedrooms (aka the other craft supply store room) for my niece to move into.   We're so serious about cleaning and reorganizing right now that my husband has adopted a word of the year -- "purge". So 2018 is the year of the purge, and we're eyeballs deep in it.

Another thing that happens in January for the last few years is that I start a new planner.  I'm so hooked on the 365 Happy Planners by Me and My Big Ideas that this year I've actually started two!  I moved to one of the "Big" planners for my everyday memory planning -- that way I can just use standard 8.5" x 11" paper in it without having to trim it down.  I'm liking the bigger format.  It gives me lots more room to play.  Starting this year, I am moving my fitness and wellness tracking to a separate planner, so I went with the Mini fitness planner, also by MAMBI.  I'm having to adjust to it not having exactly the format I want, but I'm making it work.

So that brings me to today's project...some charm holder/page markers for my planners.  I was inspired to make these by some I had seen on Easy.  I was amazed at how simple they were to assemble, and I had so much fun, I just might make a few more!

Here's the supplies you need to start with:

Recycled plastic, chain, assorted jump rings, eyelets, charms.

Crop-o-dile, small jewelry pliers.  Not pictured: paper trimmer and Arc System hole punch

The plastic I used for my charm holder was actually the plastic wrapper that came on my fitness planner, but you could use any kind of thin plastic, as long as the hole punch works on it.  The ones I saw on Easy used colored plastic such as you might find on a report cover or a plastic binder or file folder.  I just happened to have the clear plastic wrapper laying around, so I wanted to try it.  I cut them to size, rounded the corners, and punched the holes.  It all cut very easily with my regular scrapbooking tools.

I discovered a few things when I added the eyelets.  I tried 3 different methods trying to achieve a nice look.  The first was with my Crop-o-dile.  As you can see, it smashed the eyelet pretty well, but it was an ugly and uneven mess on the back side.  Then I went to my spring-loaded eyelet punch, but this particular eyelet was a lot harder than some others I've had and I had a really hard time getting it to smash.  The third eyelet was done with an eyelet washer and the spring loaded eyelet setter.  It didn't flatten the eyelet out as much as the Crop-o-dile, but the washer gave it a nice, finished look on the back side.  One other thing I will note:  I used the small size eyelets for my project because I wanted the look I could get using colored eyelets, however, I think that the larger sized eyelets might actually be better in this case.

After setting the eyelets, I assembled a small length of chain with a few charms.  Here's the finial project:

Well, that's all for now.  I hope you enjoyed my little planner project, and I hope you'll stay tuned for more fun projects coming up this year!  Until then, go do something crafty!

#mambi, #happyplanner, #embracethediscs