Saturday, November 18, 2017

Got Clutter? Tips to Destash and Declutter!

There is an element in creativity that demands we let go and let ourselves run free.  In my world, that also means periodic chaotic mess in my work space because, well, that's just how crafting is done. When the creative frenzy ends, however, I simply clean up and put things back in their places until the next inspiration or deadline.



But it is different when I look around my home and see living spaces that need more than just a bit of tidying up.  In that context, the clutter is simply excess out of control. It is visual chaos, confusion and bad feng sui. It also makes me feel overwhelmed and out of control.

Let's face it.  We ALL have stuff we don't use, don't need or have simply outgrown. It is just part of being primal human gatherers.  And in a world bombarding us daily with retail temptations like Black Friday sales (basically year round) and coupons coming out of our ears, how can our homes remain pristine and clutter-free?

The answer is actually simple.  Routine "de-stashing".  Every time we bring something new into our living environment, we need to get rid of something that is already there.  If we never increase our belongings, we will never experience out-of-control clutter.

Sure, it's easy relatively easy to gather and give away the obvious--like the shoes that hurt to wear or the useless gadget that jams the drawer each time we open it--but what about all the items that fall into that 'grey' area?  You know the ones.  The jeans we LOVE but are still too snug to actually wear comfortably for the past 2 years (or more).  Or maybe that cool tortilla maker we used once when we had a free afternoon to actually cook from scratch.  Those are the difficult decisions to make because we have an emotional connection to those items. 

We need ninja decluttering strategy tips to deal with those areas of clutter:

1. Enlist a friend who is not emotionally connected to any of the items in question to help us make decisions or actually go through those "grey" piles and box them to give away or sell for us.

2. Identify items that we perceive as having special value and find new homes for that will appreciate them.  Knowing that the items will be "loved" makes it easier to give them away.

3. Take photos of items or groups of items that have emotional meaning before boxing them to give away. Taking the photo serves as a symbolic act of saying goodbye and can give a sense of closure. And a few photos take up waaaay less space!

4. If you are parting with a large collection of items that have significant emotional meaning or are items additional family members may also be connected with, place those photos into an album.  Knowing you have the memories safely stored will make the de-stashing easier.

5. Find a good cause that you believe in and donate items to be used for fund raising or to help people or animals in need.  Knowing that the items will be helping others gives the act of de-cluttering a sense of purpose.

6. Box those hard-to-part-with items and put those boxes away with a note to reopen them after one year.  If you find you have forgotten all about them after all that time, you will find it may be easier to sell or give them away.

7. Have a garage sale and celebrate your de-stashing by spending the money on experiences instead of on more "stuff". 


Next time, I will address the destash and declutter process that relates to so many creative thinkers.  Yep, fellow crafters, I feel your pain! This is the one area in which I totally struggle. How on earth do I declutter all that craft stash?!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Goodbye Daylight Savings Time....Happy Wet November!

Ok, ok...so I haven't blogged  for a while.  Yeah, for weeks.  Actually almost 2 months. 

I have to admit, I would be more encouraged to blog if my readership would grow and if readers left comments so posts became a conversation...instead of what weirdly feels like just talking to myself.  Which, like most creatives, I already do without blogging.  I would even appreciate someone courageous pointing out if my posts are, well, kind of pointless, so my blog is not worth the time to visit, read and comment. That way I could plot a new course of action! Which is why I just pushed outside my own comfort zone and expressed my thoughts.

So.... with that said (and hopefully stirring up the pot), I am here now blogging! And... all is good!
 
Hope all has been well with you, as well.  Summer was such a busy time of outdoor activities and, social events, I kind of forgot about blogging.  I mean, I still posted on FB and Instagram via mobile devices, but let's face it-- who wants to sit indoors at a computer screen when summer is beckoning outside?!  (Sigh.  Now that leaves are turning and I need a coat, hat AND gloves, I really miss my no-fuss summer walks!)

It is actually very symbolic for me to write to you at this transitional time of year.  My life is currently in transition.  Not just the normal seasonal changes or "I'm-geting-older" changes so many of you are also going through. Bigger stuff.  Life event and new chapter type of stuff.

Almost everyone and everything around me is in a state of flux which affects everything I do--like a domino effect.  As 2017 slowly slides to a close, I foresee lots of changes for 2018.  In fact, I see 2018 shaping up to be one of those milestone years. You know what that is...those are the crossroads you look back at later and realize shaped the path you walked.

So, with that said...so far this year we have celebrated the birth of a new grandchild...little baby Sophie....who, amazingly resembles my grandmother--something that makes my heart fill with joy each time I see her smiling face or hear that adorable little giggle.



We have also had loss. 

Tuxedo passed over the Rainbow Bridge this summer at the ripe old age of 14.  He was the first dog we have had who just literally laid down and died--no fanfare, no drama, no hard decisions to make.  He was always the dog who belonged to himself. So he waited until he had some "alone time", somehow managed to crawl over to the spot where my scent was the strongest, lay down and peacefully let go.  He had already said goodbye in his own way earlier that morning so he was ready to go see his buddies Shady, Tyler and Sudsy.

 Till next time....
Gail





Friday, August 18, 2017

Summer Bliss Topped with a Hint of Fall

Hope everyone has been enjoying the summer!  Have you been traveling or enjoying local festivals, and farmers' markets? Or have you been chilling in the hammock and sipping ice tea?

While much of the country may still be in toasty hot mode, Chicagoland and neighboring parts of the Midwest have been enjoying a more moderate summer. In between the record breaking rain (and subsequent flooding), our temps have been comfortable enough to keep windows open part of the day and throughout the night.  That definitely saves on our air conditioning bills!

However, temps like these also remind me of what is just around the corner. Since it feels a little bit like autumn, it seemed logical to stamp some fall-like cards--especially after I received my "happy mail" with samples of my brand new fall stamp images from Impression Obsession!

Happy stamping!



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Color Pencil Guide

Looking for help with coloring stamped images with color pencil?  Good news!  My new guide and tutorial "How to Color: Colored Pencil Basics for the Crafter" is now live on the Favecrafts website!

This article is totally STUFFED with great information, including basic color theory, pencil strokes, color layering steps and more. Best of all, I've also included a step-by-step tutorial to help you in your journey.

Please check it out...and leave a comment!

How to Color: Colored Pencil Basics for the Crafter


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Decoupage and Beer

It isn't often that "decoupage" and "beer" come up in the same sentence. However, this is one of those rare occasions when the combination is perfectly logical!

Empty beer (or other glass beverage) bottles are some of my favorite items to repurpose. While there are multiple techniques and mediums that can be used to transform a simple glass bottle, one of my all time favorites is decoupage!  I love the simplicity of decoupage and that it is a relatively inexpensive craft for all ages and skill levels.  Decoupage mediums like Mod Podge make it super easy since you can attach and seal using the same product.  Paired with torn book pages and printed paper napkins, and embellished with beads, buttons, and/or silk flowers, this project becomes the perfect mixed media vase for all those beautiful summer flowers!

I like to get  an early jump on the holidays and have already made several for gifting. These would also make great craft fair items.

So sit back and enjoy a summer brew...then hop over to the Favecrafts site for a full tutorial with step-by-step instructions!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Living in the Moment

Hooray for today! Summer is still here and I'm loving every magic moment that presents itself.

Living with dogs for over 25 years has taught me more than just how to teach a puppy to sit and stay. Dogs, you see, have mastered the art of "living in the moment".  This skill is counter-intuitive to our deadline driven society and, sometimes I even think, to our human nature of planning ahead and dwelling on the past.



In reality, every day is a treasure of its own, to be savored and enjoyed to its fullest. Sometimes that means stopping whatever we are doing and just being still. Quiet the brain, relax and focus on the moment instead of the "next" and the "next", ad infinitum.  It means it is sometimes okay to just "be". That is the only time the "off" switch appears so the creative side of my brain can actually turn off, even if just for a few minutes or hours.

And that's why I love summer so much.  There is so much magic in so many warm moments.  After I take those little "just be" breaks, the "creative" cranks right up again into high gear. I find I am refocused with a clearer vision. Deadlines also transform into exciting challenges instead of exhausting drains.  That is mighty powerful stuff!

Meanwhile, I'm still glowing from my latest projects and published articles and tutorials for Favecrafts.com.


As promised, here is the link to my recent tutorial published on Favecrafts.  This tutorial features THREE projects and three different approaches to decoupage on wood hangers!

The projects are SO much fun to do and sure to brighten up anyone's closet.  A great project to encourage kids to hang up their coats and clothing items--especially if they decoupage their own personalized hangers.

These decorated hangers would also be a perfect gift item either given as a set or accompanying a special item of clothing.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Summer IS my Inspiration!

I can honestly say I'm not a fan of winter.  During most of the dark, colorless weeks, my creative work becomes a cozy blanket filing my life with color when snow and cold prevents me from even wanting to go outside most day  But summer is different.  Summer is FILLED with LIFE--and it fills my senses to overflowing!


Windows open wide, I love listening to birds singing, motorcycles rumbling and the sounds of children laughing. The colors of nature...and just the warmth of the sun on my face is truly intoxicating. These gorgeous summer skies and gentle breezes tempt me daily to close my eyes to deadlines and just escape outside to soak it all in!   And...it is especially difficult to stay focused indoors here in Chicagoland when temps hover in the low to mid 80s and humidity is moist enough to soothe but not be uncomfortable.


But all of that sensory information also serves to inspire.  Despite the distractions just outside my window, my creative soul just can't stay quiet and I continue to draw, create projects, write articles and tutorials...and meet my deadlines.

My most recent articles and tutorials on the Favecrafts site are on decoupage....which is one of my crafting favorites!  I will be featuring a a different decoupage tutorial on each of the next few posts so please bookmark my site so you can see them all!


First up is an exciting "How To" Decoupage Guide"  that is jam-packed with information!  In this guide you will learn how to successfully decoupage on glass and other hard surfaces, as well as see lots of examples to get YOUR creative juices flowing!


Leave me a comment and let me know how you love to spend summer!