Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Attention Email Subscribers!


If you are an email subscriber to this blog, I have some bad news for you! Blogger has announced they will no longer support FeedBurner Email Subscriptions. To continue receiving new posts, please use one of the other Subscribe widgets on the left.  I am still on the hunt for a solution for email subscriptions and will share as soon as I figure it out! Until then, I hope you'll choose to subscribe in another manner!

Thanks so much!


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Sunday, March 14, 2021

COVID-Safe Craft Getaways

What’s the one thing you miss most while we’re going through this pandemic? Is it movie theaters? House parties? Vacations? Happy hour with friends from the office? For me, I think I would probably have to answer, “retreats.”

Not so many years ago, it seemed like a new scrapbooking retreat was opening up every month or so. They were everywhere, and they were always booked solid. For some of us, packing up our craft supplies and spending a weekend with our closest friends out in the country somewhere is one of the best stress relievers out there. After all, a retreat usually involves some good food, a fun hobby, and lots of laughs, not to mention no chores. When I finally caught on to this special sojourn, I couldn’t get enough. I was going on a retreat five or six times a year – more if you count the annual scrapbooking cruises and convention weekends. Going on a retreat was probably my favorite thing to do, and a great escape from the stress and anxiety of work, home, and family. 

Going on retreats (including conventions and cruises) has pretty much been put on hold since March of 2020. We are all spending a lot more time at home, which has brought it’s own kind of stress and anxiety along with even more need to get away from it all. And while some retreat centers have been open with limited capacity, many of us do not feel comfortable spending a weekend in close quarters with a bunch of strangers. Some people have been taking advantage of lowered capacity and going anyway, what is a high-risk, unvaccinated individual like me to do?

Last November, after a few particularly stressful weeks as a caregiver for my mother, I turned to my friends with a desperate plea, “Please go away with me somewhere!” and that was how our “safe” retreats began. We wanted to limit our retreat to just four crafty friends who we knew had been very carefully social distancing and self-isolating throughout the pandemic. Realizing that we couldn’t control how many people came to a retreat unless we rented the whole place, we started looking for other options for a weekend stay. Enter Airbnb, VRBO, and a host of other vacation rental options.

We started out wearing facemasks at our first retreat, but they didn't last long.

Our first Airbnb rental was about two hours away, and was an approximate midway point between us. We looked for a location that had a large living room or den that would accommodate four folding tables without too much furniture rearranging. We had a great time on that trip, and learned some valuable lessons for the next trip.

As of this writing, I am actually sitting at our second Airbnb retreat.  This time we chose a location closer to home, a quaint 19th century farmhouse far enough out in the country to feel isolated, but close enough to go buy ice if we needed it. We planned for the problems we encountered the last time, but this rental came with its own set of issues. We haven’t let that stop us from having a great time and enjoying this crucial respite from the daily grind.

If you are longing for the days when you escaped to a crafty retreat with your friends, think about hosting a private getaway on your own. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Keep the size of your group small to increase your chances of finding a space that will accommodate you – no more than 4-5 crafters.
  • Make sure you are renting the whole house, not just a room; some listings can be misleading.  READ THE FINE PRINT!
  • Look for a rental that has an open floor plan with minimal furniture to ensure you have room for tables. Keep in mind that photos can be misleading. Rooms are rarely as large as they look in the photos!
  • Contact the owner to clarify any questions you might have and to verify availability. Some owners do not update availability of the rental, especially if it is listed on multiple websites.
  • Pay close attention to lighting; one ceiling fan or a few table lamps may not be sufficient. Plan to bring your own lighting if necessary
  • Look for existing chairs or prepare to bring your own chairs. Avoid using rolling chairs on hardwood floors, as it will damage them; bring a rug or floor mat if you must use a rolling chair.
  • Bring extension cords and power strips for your lighting and electronic devices
  • Don’t forget a small trashcan and cup-holder. These are often provided at a retreat but won’t be available at a rental facility.
  • Pay close attention to the kitchen facilities. Some rentals have “apartment” refrigerators or no stove. Plan your meals accordingly.
  • Don’t be afraid to contact the owner to clarify amenities at the facility like: room dimensions, coffee pots, kitchen accoutrements, power outlet locations, local recommendations, parking accommodations, handicap accessibility, etc.
  • Think about bringing things like Ziploc bags, Tupperware, cutting boards, foil/plastic wrap, etc. You’ll need a way to pack up your leftovers. Don’t forget ice!
  • Pack light. You may not have room for all your scrapbook supplies.  Plan your projects well.
  • Don’t use paints, glitter or other messy craft supplies indoors. Don’t craft on the owner’s furniture without protective coverings. Be sure to clean up any accidents and sweep/vacuum your craft area.
  • Return all furniture to its original location.

Obviously, you can’t plan for everything, but if you ask lots of questions and keep in mind the accommodations that might not be available, you can avoid some of the pitfalls. If you plan well, you, too, can get away for a COVID-safe retreat with your besties. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Words Have Power

 Howdy, crafty neighbors! This month in our newsletter, Brandi Reyna will be introducing the Crafty Neighbor Craft of the Month (CotM for short?) a new theme that will be featured across all our Crafty Neighbor media from the newsletter to Facebook, blog, and Instagram. I hope you’ll enjoy this new segment; we think it will be a great way to help us dig deeper into our various crafts and widen our skills and knowledge in some unique ways.

Our topic this month is The Power of Words: Planning and Goal Setting. Back in 2012, I wrote several blog articles about using power words as part of my 365 art journaling project. (I’ve linked those articles below.) My use of power words has evolved in the last nine years, but my belief in the power of words has stayed the same. In her novel, A Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood wrote,

 “A word after a word after a word is power.”

And even Mother Theresa proclaims,

 “Kind words can be short and easy to speak,
but their echoes are truly endless.”

The idea of a power word is not a new one.  My son’s high school orchestra used power words in a unity circle before every concert.  Each student would share his or her word and the idea was that in unity, all these powerful words come together to make a whole, cohesive orchestra. 

Blogger Christine Kane uses power words in a different way.  She contends that your power words give you intent.  Each year, instead of making New Years resolutions, she does a lot of soul searching and comes up with her Word of the Year.  The word becomes her touchstone to stay focused on what’s important and to remind her of her goals. You can read more about it in that link above, and she even offers a free worksheet to help you find the right word for you.

Since 2012, I have been choosing an annual that has helped me change and grow and learn a lot about myself in the process. In 2013, I used my word as the foundation of my 365 art journaling project mentioned above, and I continued to work in that art journal using various words over the years. For the last three years, I have been doing so through a process designed by Ali Edwards called One Little Word. One Little Word is an online workshop with monthly prompts that guide you through exploring your word. I posted flip-through videos on my YouTube channel that illustrate two of the albums I created as part of One Little Word. This year, I’m working in a journal rather than a pocket album, which is providing a different experience in the creative aspect, but is just as effective at facilitating the process of growing in my word. In fact, I’ve worked many of the prompts exactly the same as in previous years, but in a flatter bullet journal style, which has really challenged my creativity. You can see most of my 2021 project on my Instagram and Facebook feeds. 

Here are a couple of examples of some of the work I’ve been doing:

My 2021 vision board.

A page in my OLW journal.

A page in my OLW journal.

A page in my OLW journal.

This year, I have also committed to exploring Lara Casey’s Cultivate What Matters Power Sheets goal planner. It’s yet another way to set some intentions and build on what you are doing with your power word. In fact, part of the prep work that goes into Power Sheets is a step that helps you find the right word. Power sheets can be started any time and there is even an undated, 6-month planner if you want to give it a try without a full-on commitment. Christine Kane’s worksheet is free, but both One Little Word and Power Sheets are paid products. These are all great places to start, but you can also do what I did when I first started – just find a word and find some projects that speak to you and let you express and explore that word. I’d be interested to see where it takes you.


A page in my Power Sheets workbook.

For more information:

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