Friday, October 31, 2008

Rounding Up the Craft/Sewing Room

All month I've known that I wanted to tidy up and organize my craft area for Organizing Junkie's Monthly Organizing Round-Up for October, and all month long I've procrastinated. Which is why I am up into the wee hours of the morning the day that Mr. Linky goes up on her site.

So, here is my little corner of the basement where all my magic happens. Well, the crafty stuff anyway. I actually have dang near a third of the basement as my cropping tables are always set up and I have all of my Creative Memories merchandise spread out, but this little corner is the area that I hog all to myself.

This little beauty is my inspiration for getting organized.  I've been coveting this Making Memories Embellishment Center ever since I first saw it months ago. Since I was going to participate in this month's challenge, I gave myself permission to buy it--with my Robert's 40% off coupon, of course. Frankly, I couldn't afford it otherwise.

Anyway, I wanted it because I have so many little embellishments that I forget I have because I can't see them. Now that problem is solved. Actually, now it looks like I have some room to add some more, don't you think? I have a few empty jars.

I was quite pleasantly surprised that all of my craft ribbon fit on it as well, and I still have a little room to grow.

This is my other Making Memories purchase, one that I've had for awhile now. It's the craft carousel that my cropping buddies find too imposing to sit next to me and all my crap on Saturday nights.

This is the laptop that I do all my digital scrapbooking on. I'm working on learning Photoshop Elements as well, and I'll use that on our Mac. I'm not a big Windows fan, but the Creative Memories StoryBook Plus software doesn't run on Macs, and there are no plans for Mac software, something I'm not happy about because I love the software. It works very much like PhotoShop, except that it's very user friendly and intuitive.

This is all my paper. As you can see, it's bursting at the seams. I have vowed not to buy another sheet of paper until I can get another one in this thing. Yeah, right.

I have my paper sorted by color and then a few folders are by theme.

These are all my stickers, and things are not quite as bad here. I have been using this same accordian file storage system for several years now and it is the best way I've found yet to store my stickers.

The Renaissance Woman is the one that turned me onto this system. Basically I have all my stickers stored in their own folder that I can easily pull out and look through when I need to.

Before that I was using a sticker binder and I just found that it took up too much desk space and I dreaded filing things back into it because it took so long. This system is much better.

Here are my stamp sets. Don't be making fun of my labels now. I'm the Label Queen.

Here's where I keep my cards. I love these plastic drawers. I have them all over my house.

I like them because I'm too lazy to constantly take stacked stuff down. I like to just pull the drawer out, take it where I need to go, and then slide it back in when I'm done.

Here are all my punches and Custom Cutting System. I have them in these little carriers so my cropping buddies can access them as well. They're not just for me.

See, I share.

My trimmers, stamps, ink, and some other miscellaneous items.

And here are some of my completed albums. That's a lot of moola there on those shelves. Scrapbooking is not a cheap hobby.

So that's my tour. I'm looking forward to next month's challenge, the laundry room, because my laundry room is nasty. For more craft/sewing room tours, go to Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Score Another One for Mattie Cake!

We got home from a church Halloween party tonight and look what was waiting for us.

That Mattie Cake, she was so sweet to get a jump on my birthday. 

It's not until February and she got me balloons.

With a cake attached. Chocolate, my favorite.

Thanks, Mattie Cake. You're the best!

Halloween Oreos and a Crazy Turkey

Look at this crazy turkey.  He sings "Hot, Hot, Hot!" and neck dances in his hot tub.

I spotted it today when I was grocery shopping and I decided right there on the spot, that Mattie Cake MUST have it.  For a little treat, I included a little video performance at the end of this post for you to see.

And look at what else I found.

Are these wild or what? Who can resist an Oreo? 

I actually have a funny story about Oreos, and it has to do with Mattie Cake's husband, Daddy Long Legs.  One day he decided that he was putting on some weight and Mattie Cake and I said "Whatever! What've  you been smokin'?"

He's about seven feet tall and when you stand next to him you feel like you're in a redwood forest. His shadow can darken a room. He could be a stork for Halloween, easy.

So, I'm just sayin' this because he doesn't even know about such things as putting on weight because he's so tall. Where would it even go that he could notice? Really.

So anyway, he cut back on his seven Oreos before bedtime and that did the trick. Can you believe that mess?!!!!

That's neither here nor there though, it's just that I can't look at an Oreo anymore without thinking about his seven Oreos before bedtime. I can't even say that, seven Oreos before bedtime, without a snotty voice. I'm so bitter.

I don't hold it against him personally though, because he's a super nice guy. And he puts up with my nickname for him, and is never mean to me. Although he may be changing his mind now.

Back to where I was going, because really, I did have a point here.

I was going to make the Panda cupcakes in my Hello, Cupcake! book with these Oreos, except they were going to be orange and black instead of white and black, on account of Halloween. But once I got started I decided that it was so not worth all that work.

These turned out so much better.

And I'm sure you know what I did, right?

We booed Mattie Cake and we left them on her doorstep with that Crazy Turkey. I don't even know if she got them though, because we hightailed it out of there and she never called me to scold me.

And I was expecting it.

Just so you know, Mattie Cake, we broke speed limit laws racing home to catch your phone call. I was going to answer the phone and say "Whew, I was just working out so that's why I'm a little breathless. And wheezing a little bit. Really."

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Spider and the Fly

I bet when you saw that title you thought this was going to be another bitter post where I bring up my former boyfriend. Am I right?

Well, it's not. I shall try not to sink back into those depths again.

On account of Halloween being this week, I thought it would be a good time to recommend this book to you.

This book is The Spider and the Fly, retold and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi.  The illustrations are fabulous black and white pencil drawings with an incredible amount of detail. 

In fact, this book received a Caldecott Medal, which, in case you aren't familiar, is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published that year.

DiTerlizzi's book is based on the poem written by Mary Howitt in 1829. It was a warning to her own children about those who use sweet words to hide their not-so-sweet intentions. Kind of like the former boyfriend.

Oh sorry. I wasn't going to do that.

While I'm thinking about it though, I want to tell you about the creepy Vincent Price expressions the spider dons throughout the book.  It's really quite comical.  The spider is very proper and eloquent, while at the same time being dang creepy.

The fly is probably the cutest fly you'll ever see, as she is petite and pretty, dressed as a little flapper and carrying a parasol with three of her four dainty little arms. Since she is an insect, and we all know they have six appendages, you must know that the other two are shown as her dainty little legs with her pretty little feet in high heels.

To give you a small taste of the language in this book, here is the first page:

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the Spider to the Fly.
"Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I have many curious things to show you when you are there."

Because of it's language and the poetry, it's a lot of fun to read aloud.

And if that's not enough, there are enough visuals to keep you entertained for days. For example, the spider has a copy of The Joy of Cooking Bugs, which I love because I happen to own my own copy of The Joy of Cooking.

The story goes on as the poem does, a little verbal dance between the spider and the fly.  He flatters the shallow fly and finally tricks her to get close enough to catch her. As he says, he always gets his bug.

At the end of the book, the dainty little fly is all wrapped up in the spider's web, with her four hands sticking out of the tight cocoon she's wrapped in, and one of those hands is holding fast to her little purse. Her feet are crossed and poking out the bottom and she is wrapped all the way up to her bugged out, surprised little eyeballs.

I promise, you will love this book.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Procrastination Blah De Da . . . Ack. Spit. Cough.

Whoo hoo!  I finished my second Procrastination Challenge.

Remember earlier this month when I pledged to complete another Procrastination Challenge over at Virtually Organized after winning last month's contest?

When I said I was going to read this book?

Well I did.  Sort of.  No, I did, I DID read it, but I read very quickly and did some skimming after choking down the first 100 or so pages.

Then I got irritated because I was wasting my precious time choking down a book I was not enjoying and not learning anything from.

I then proceeded to share my dissatisfaction with Peanut Head (while he was enjoying his book I should point out). He laughed at me, shrugged his shoulders and said "It's a self-help book, what do you expect?"

Um.  Thanks a lot you big Cretin.

It was awful.  Not awful in the sense that the book was poorly written or anything like that.

Awful because it was so much blah, blah, blah about the reasons why we procrastinate. Psychology. Self-help book psychology. More than 100 pages just on the why.

I read too much of that crap in my 20s and I'm pretty much over it. Remember that book, "Women Who Love Too Much?" Yep. I read it.  I read it and I loved it.  Because I was 20 and S-S-S-S-S-TUPID.

If I were to read it today, I would be doing the book barf boogie.

It was a big psychology barf-o-rama.

And just so you know, I would never read that book again. Why? Because I'm not 20 and I'm not dating immature, undesirable men.

If I could go back to my 20-year old self, I would kick my then cute butt and make me dump my loser boyfriend instead of "wishing and hoping he'd change." Blech. He ain't worth changin,' Sister Girl. 

I'm having involuntary retching and dry heaves going on here just thinking about it, so I really need to get back to topic here. Dang, that was not planned.

So, I was saying . . . I don't give a rats behind about analyzing the whys for procrastinating.

I know why I procrastinate. I procrastinate because the things I procrastinate are undesirable tasks. Kinda like the former boyfriend. Not that he was a task, he was undesirable. Oh never mind.

Geez, I'm all riled up here. I should go check my blood pressure.

So . . . . I was saying . . . I'll just sum up some of the points in this book that were worth taking away and that you might appreciate.

Set a timer for 15 minutes and work on the thing you are procrastinating for just 15 minutes. This is actually a pretty popular technique and one that I find myself using quite often.  I believe it was made popular by the book Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy.  Basically, if you take any daunting task and break it down into bite-size pieces, you can eat accomplish anything.

Be realistic about your time constraints. Don't wait for a big block of time or a convenient time to get started because it'll never happen.  You have to know how much time you truly have to devote each day to the task, and not beat yourself up if you can't work on it every day. This book outlines an "unschedule" where you draw up specifically everything you have to do and when in a week.  You have to include everything--eating, sleeping, commuting, you name it, so that you can see where the little pockets of time are for you to access. It can be surprising to find out how little time you really have. The "unschedule" is important because you see where you have time and you make a commitment where to fit in working on your task.

Learn to use little bits of time. Have the little stuff accessible so you can accomplish something when you have little bits of time. Make phone calls while waiting for kids at practice, make lists (if you're a geek like me) when you have 5 minutes, answer as many e-mails as you can when you have 5 or 10 minutes. That sort of thing.

Delegate. Heh, heh. I love this one. I went on strike last week and told my kids that I was not wiping one more clump of toothpaste out of the sink or wiping down one more counter in their bathroom ever again.  Or cleaning the mirrors. "What are you doing to the mirrors for crying out loud?!" I added a new chore to their chore charts and they now alternate days of wiping down the counters, sink and tub with Clorox wipes every day. I hit pay dirt on this one, let me tell you, it's brilliant. By the way, I don't want them using the wipes on themselves so I told them they were Poison Wipes and they had to wash their hands after they used them. I'm all about scaring my kids into complying.

Don't spread yourself too thinly. Why, oh why do we do this? We do not have to save the world. Yes, you should do your part, but you don't have to do it for everyone all the time. For example, volunteering at school, or church, or wherever it is that you tend to get in over your head, step back and set realistic goals for yourself. You should absolutely volunteer, but I have often found that there are too few people doing the work of too many and that isn't good either. Do what you can, feel good about it, and don't overextend yourself so you end up resenting everything you have to do. In other words, just say no. Don't say no to everything, but know when you do need to say no and do it without guilt.

Make a public commitment. I love this one. Debbie over at Virtually Organized is helping all of us with this one because this is what her monthly organization challenge is all about.  And it works, let me tell you.  Especially if you're a blogger like me and you've announced it to the blogosphere.  Tell everyone what you are going to do and chances are, you will do it.

Work with a Buddy. This is another good one. Get together with a friend to work on those nasty little jobs that you hate.  You could iron together, do your taxes, organize your pictures, whatever.

So, that's a wrap. Don't read the book, take it from me. Use what I've gleaned from the book and check out Virtually Organized because that girl knows what she's doin.'

Monday, October 27, 2008

Summer Birthday Layouts

I'm still trying to get caught up on my digi scrapping, and as you can see, I'm still in summer. It's kind of weird working on summer when it's so dang cold outside.

The picture of Thing 1 with Peanut Head has become a yearly tradition at her birthday parties. They always seem to be sitting on the porch together and then they pose with their peanut heads nestled together.

Big Peanut and Little Peanut, how sweet. One day, Little Peanut will grow some visible eyebrows and we won't notice her forehead so much. We think anyway.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mattie Cake's Oreos aka Whoopie Pies

After posting about Mattie Cake booing me again, I got several comments asking about her Oreos. People wanted to know if they were Whoopie Pies that she had booed me with.

Mattie Cake and I both said "Whoopie Pies? What's a Whoopie Pie?"

Next, I googled it, of course. And I found out that yes, basically Mattie Cake's Oreos are Whoopie Pies. Looking at the many recipes for Whoopie Pies out there, I've decided that I'll stick with this one from Mattie Cake because it's super easy. It uses cake mix and canned frosting, so it's a perfect last minute treat that you can make from stuff you keep in your pantry.

At least stuff I keep in my pantry.

Anyway, from my googling, I found that Whoopie Pies are also called gobs, black and whites, or bobs, and they are traditional to the Pennsylvania Dutch culture. They're made of two small, chocolate cake like cookies, with a frosting sandwiched between them.

Enough talk though, just make them so you can try them and then you'll know what all the fuss is about, because they're delicious.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fear the Scissors

We got the girls' school pictures back this week, and I don't know about you, but I was always gorgeous in my school pictures. Never a hair out of place, stylishly dressed, beaming smile, etc.

So why is it so hard to get a good school picture these days?

Thing 1 has her signature stiff smile face on, which isn't horrible, but the haircut, oh man.

I love the girls' hair cuts, don't get me wrong, but not two days before these pictures were taken, they both congregated in the bathroom to put some finishing touches of their own on their hair.

Can you see the big clump out of the left side of Thing 1's hair, her left, not yours?

And the nice little clump out of the same side of Thing 2's hair?

I have to admit, when I found out about it, which was not the same day I'm embarrassed to say, I didn't wig out. I mean, it's just hair for crying out loud. In my opinion the stuff grows too dang fast anyway, it's always getting in knots, you have to comb it every day, etc., etc.

It used to be that I didn't allow my kids to touch scissors.

I so deprived my kids, that at Thing 1's first Kindergarten parent-teacher conference, I was all prepared to hear nothing but good news about my little darling.

My hopes were crushed almost immediately though, when her teacher said to me in an apologetic voice, "She really needs some practice on her cutting skills. She doesn't know how to cut and she really struggles to keep up with the other kids."

What?!!!! You let them use scissors?! Are you crazy? I don't allow my kids to use scissors! Scissors are dangerous and they cut things with them!

These were my alarming thoughts, mind you.

I went into that first parent-teacher conference a fresh-meat, positive, Kindergarten Parent, and I left feeling like I had just been called to the Principal's office and given a good tongue lashing.

Well, I was going to make sure from here on out that my kid could cut circles around her Kindergarten teacher. The next day, I went to the store and I bought Thing 1 kid scissors and I instructed her to use them.

And use them she did.

And she got better. She was cutting out circles, and squares, and pictures out of magazines. You name it, she was cutting it.

Then she cut our skitzo cat's ear in half. Just because she could.

But it was a nice, straight cut. A cut to be proud of. And cat ear was a new medium for her, so she gets extra points for difficulty.

Poor cat. From then on she had three ears.

To be fair, I thought I should share mine and Peanut Head's Kindergarten pictures with you.

Prepare yourselves.

Would you look at that crazy baby chick hair on Peanut Head? The acrobatics that his hair performed then still happen today.

And here I am. Remember that I told you how great I looked in my school pictures?

I lied.

I cannot stand this picture. Whenever I look at this picture, I can hear my then mouth-breathing like Darth Vader self and I want to die.

My Mama Lama loves this picture. She says it's her favorite. Ugh, now that is a picture that truly only a mother could love. And that haircut, I'll take my girls' butcher jobs any day of the week over this one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mattie Cake Strikes Again!

Well, what do you know, we got booed again. I'm thinkin' this might be war.

I'm wondering if I could find a gansta rapper, dancing turkey in this town? Or maybe I should just settle for the real thing, leash it to her door, ring the bell and run like the wind.

At least then she'd be all set for Thanksgiving. She might even be thankful that I saved her a trip to the grocery store.

But then she'd have to kill it. And pluck it. And . . . oh ick.

On the other hand, she could make Daddy Long Legs do it, because he has all that experience cleaning fish.

Hmmm. I'll have to think about this.

Look at that pretty, very Halloweeny bowl with the black rose in it.

Nice touch, Mattie Cake. It looks like you're thinking Halloween this time.

And what's that? A note. Let's have a closer look, shall we?

Oh yes, Mattie Cake, you get an A+ for coordinating your holidays. Right on, girlfriend!

By the way, I love you to pieces, and your cookies are the best.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fourth of July Layouts

Imagine that, it's October and I'm working on my 4th of July pictures. Hey, slow and steady wins the race, right?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

This is my desk.  Important stuff happens here. Real important stuff.

Stuff that I can't do if I don't have my calendar with my To Do List on it.

This morning, I could not find my list and I had a little meltdown. Well, I didn't have a fit or anything, but I did do a little frantic searching and mumbling.

Seriously, it's no wonder I couldn't find the darn thing. Look at that mess!

When I couldn't find my list I knew, somehow, that I had hit rock bottom.  The only thing I knew was on my calendar in red (which means an appointment in my world), was that I was scheduled to pimp my plasma at 11:45.  That and I needed to grocery shop.  But who can think about eating when they don't know where their list is?

Well, maybe you can, but it discombobulates me.

I decided then and there that I was going to keep my appointment with my Phlebotomist John, but then I was coming straight home to clean off my desk and find my list.  

I had to come at it several times today because life kept getting in the way.  The kids wanted a snack when they got home from school.  Then they wanted dinner.  Can you believe that?  And other stuff too, but do you really care about that?  Me neither, I just need to deal with this mess.

I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if I just had one desk to lose things on, but I also have these four crop tables that are set up at all times.

I can't take them down either, because I need them. The kids do their homework on them.  I fold laundry on them. I work at them when I can't see the bottom of my desk. I dump stuff on them.

By the time Saturday night rolls around, I'm doing some pretty frantic shoving and stuffing of stuff into other areas. It's sad really.

As you can see, I'm working on Box Tops at the first table.  The first deadline for submission is October 31st and I need to wrap that up.

This is the crop table that I monopolize for my scrapbooking and crafts on Saturday evenings. Usually it's so full of my own crap that I can't share a table with anyone else.  Not that they'd want to anyway, because they find my Making Memories Carousel imposing.  Well La Dee Da!

And here's the really sad part.  This is my guest room.  It's my dumping ground.  You might be thinking that it doesn't look that bad, but remember, my sister-in-law just left so I've only just started taking it back over.

If I don't want to deal with it or make a decision about it, it gets dumped in here.

This is one of the baskets sitting on the bed.  It's a jumbled mess of ideas for things I want to make.  Crafty things.  And things I need to put away but I don't know where yet.

Eeek!  I just walked around the corner of the bed and found these piles on the floor.  These are pending piles or in baskets.  More like dump it in and forget about it baskets.  I have learned that I cannot be trusted with bins like this.

They are really Procrastination Dumpsters.

And they tend to multiply.

So I can't have them.


I really need to take care of those.

But first things first.  I got the desk cleaned off. And I found my list.  Yay!  I'm so exciteeeee . . . What the heck?!!!!  What is that thing sitting on the left side of my desk?

It's a Procrastination Dumpster! Somebody quick! Light it on fire!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Autumn Leaves

Today was pretty crazy for me, but it was an absolutely gorgeous day so I got the girls in the car and took them to the park with my limping along camera.

The lighting wasn't perfect because the sun was out with no clouds to soften it, but we made do because who knows what will happen tomorrow.  If another gorgeous day comes along, it happens to be overcast, and I can squeeze another trip in, well then I'll jump at that chance.  If it comes.

If not, I have these.

Thing 1 was a little stiff in the leaves.  I couldn't get her to relax, which is pretty much her M.O. when it comes to picture taking.  As soon as I say "Smile Sweetie," or "Look at Mama," she goes all stiffy on me.

Thing 2 wouldn't put that darn stick down and she almost put Thing 1's eye out.

Look at that devilish little grin.

They wanted to check out the river so I just followed them.

This is the last smiling picture before Thing 2 got grouchy.

Thing 2 is out of frame because she's having a fit, so I snapped some pictures of Thing 1 for awhile.  And would you look at that smile?  I think it's because Thing 2 is having a fit and she is feeling pretty smug.  The little brat.

She's trying to keep from laughing hysterically here.

Oooh, the fit's over but we're going to pay now.  She's going to ruin all the pictures now, that'll teach us.

Maybe I can Photoshop some leaves over her face and crop the rest of her out.  Would that be too awful?

Thing 1 is beaming.

And relaxed now too.  Is that the secret?  Make the sister unhappy and she's all smiles.

"I'm NOT going to smile!"

Ever since she was a baby, when she gets mad her eyebrows turn all red and splotchy.  It's the weirdest thing.

Major meltdown now.  Ooowee!  

Can I just tell you how much these little stinkers were getting on my nerves today?  They would not stop arguing.

Did you hear that Smashley?  Smashley is under the mistaken assumption that my kids always get along and never fight.  Like they are the Stepford Kids or something.

Well she should have been around today, that's all I'm sayin.'