April 09, 2016

Hello 50th Birthday

Hello there!

Another recent card make to share today, this time for a friend who turns 50 this year (and for once, I'm not late with this card - whoot!).

Technically this is a scrap-lift of a card design a did a few years ago but I loved the way it worked out so just went with it.  I used up some older October Afternoon Cakewalk papers and paired them with some Pebbles chipboards and stickers from the From Me to You and a Valentine's collections.  How adorable is that little bird?  And of course a 50th birthday needs a little gold bling, so the glittery gold Thickers made a reappearance.

April 06, 2016

Birthday Banner & Cake Card

Welcome back!

Today I'm sharing a recent card make for a friend's little girl, who turned six in March.  I love the colour-saturated Simple Stories birthday kits so I whipped up a quick little colourful card to put in with her gift.

Some fun polka dots and stripes, a little doily to soften some of the bold colours and hard edges and some die-cuts in the form of the cake and banner.  I popped some left-over red pearls from my Christmas cards onto the cake for a little embellishment and then stamped 'celebrate' across the bottom.

Next challenge is getting it into the post before summer hits!

April 03, 2016

HB2U Card

Hello, hello!

I'm terribly behind on birthday cards this year, which is bad enough but especially so with so many people turning milestone birthdays this year.  Anyway, I'm working on catching myself up, starting with a card for a male friend who turned 40 the end of January.

He's certainly not the Hipster type, but I couldn't resist this Simple Stories 4x6 card with the text speech and the opportunity to play with the fab mustache rhinestones I found at the local craft store - how cool is that 'stache?

Just kept it simple with the mustache, a sprinkling of sequins and I ran a line of turquoise stitching around the outside edge, then trimmed it down to show a bit of the white card base underneath.

Then I got a bit cheeky on the interior for the sentiment, putting Shimelle's first stamp set to some fun use.

Hehe, you have to have a little fun with these things, after all.

That's it for today - short and sweet - but stay tuned for some more recent makes again soon.

February 17, 2016

KonMari Method - Books

Hello, hello!

Now that I've officially finished all of the clothing categories, I can move on to books.  I haven't kept too many books over the years and having bought a Kindle has really helped with not stockpiling too many books.

I have been a bit conflicted at the idea of getting rid of what 'few' books I have, though, because the majority of them I've arranged artfully in my bookcase as a means of interior decor.  In considering how I felt about this, I decided that if I was going to let go books that didn't bring me joy, then I should use the freed up bookcase space for something that does bring me joy - such as quilting fabric.  Then the decision on how to approach the books was immensely easier!

All my books.

The hardest items in this category were my Piers Anthony books.  As a teenager, I was a huge Piers Anthony fan.  In fact, I bought nearly everything he wrote.  Most of the collection is still in Canada but I did bring a few series to Sweden, including his Incarnations of Immortality, Apprentice Adept and Mode series.  While I haven't read these books in many years, holding them in my hands brought back fond memories of those times.  In the end, I decided that I would keep the Incarnations and Adept series and I'm passing along the Mode series to a friend who requested my Nora Roberts and Nemi books/comics.  As KonMari herself says, if it brings you joy, keep it with confidence and that's what I've decided to do.

Joyful books.

And here is my much smaller stack of books.  One quilting book, a few recipe books, my Harry Potter and 2/3 of the Piers Anthony books and some ElfQuest books.  I thought over the ElfQuest books for a while, too.  They were a large part of my life growing up and during my young adult years but that chapter of my life has closed a long time ago and I'm content with that.  But at least for now, I'm content to keep and appreciate these books.

Tidy bookcase.

And here is the tidy bookcase.  I decided I would take the National Geographic magazines into work to use with my students.  I should probably let go of the crafting magazines but I'm not quite ready for that yet and I decided to put all of those heavy-feeling magazine holders down on the bottom, making each shelf above a little lighter feeling.  I also moved the fabric down a shelf so there is room to put more fabric when the time comes.  Oh, and I moved my recipe books out here because they just weren't in an easily accessible location in my kitchen so I'm hoping having them out here will help with seeing and using them more frequently.

I also decided to use the old rucksacks and overnight bags I had decided to donate from last week's tidying to put the donation books into and take down to the second-hand shop in small, more easily-managed groupings.  For the sake of the count below, however, I've grouped all of these smaller bags as equivalent to one large rubbish bag.

Total donation/rubbish bags to date: 4
Total attic boxes emptied: 2

February 14, 2016

The KonMari Method - Bags, Accessories & Shoes

Hello, folks!

It's been quiet on the blogging front but I'm back with more progress on my KonMari project.  Today I'm sharing my decluttering of bags, scarves and shoes.  Let's get started.

First up, bags.  Now, I don't own very many handbags, which is probably a good thing, so I decided to also lump in other types of bags, such as rucksacks, shopping bags, overnight bags and toiletry bags, etc. and then suddenly it seemed like a lot.  Funny how that happens.  Here's the initial round-up.

Variety of bags - can't remember the count.

Most of the rucksacks I'd had for decades - at least one was still from high school.  Whenever I find such things I wonder to myself why I Earth I still have it and more to the point, why did I pay good money to ship it overseas to another continent?  Madness, I tell you.

Now, there was one particularly hard decision in this culling.  That shabby purple messenger-style bag, second in on the bottom row - that has long been my traveling/holiday handbag.  It's fabulous because it has a good, wide shoulder strap that bears weight evenly and plenty of room inside for one's purse, sunglasses, travel guides, camera, water bottle, documents - you name it.  It's been through so many countries with me: Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, France, Denmark and of course Sweden.  Needless to say, it's been well loved and well used and as a result, it's been steadily falling apart.  It wasn't easy but I thanked that handbag dearly and decided it was time to let it go.  I also let go the lovely orange leather handbag I loved and used until the strap broke, had it fixed and continued to use it until the strap broke a second time.

Remaining Bags: 15

Next I moved on to scarves and other accessories.  I do love scarves.  I wear them with my jackets outdoors and I also enjoy wearing them as part of an outfit indoors.  The collection has grown and grown and grown.  Some I buy myself and many are gifts, knit by my granny or given as Christmas gifts or gifts from students.  I also decided to include belts plus the hats and gloves/mittens from my foyer closet here.

Scarves, hats, gloves and belts - oh my!

Doing the 'joy check' on the hats, gloves/mittens and belts was easy and very little was left.  The scarves were harder.  Some really made me pause and consider but you know instantly when you're holding a 'joyful' item.  Final tally: 2 belts, 4 hats, 3 gloves/mittens and 8 scarves.

Accessories: 17

The final clothing category is shoes.  I pulled out all my outdoor shoes, dress shoes, casual shoes, flip flops and even grabbed the old hiking boots from the attic and my figure skates (close enough, right?).

Beginning Shoes: 19

This category was actually easier for me because I had already ear-marked a number of shoes that needed to go, either because they weren't comfortable or because they were old and falling apart or hadn't been used in years.

Remaining Shoes: 10

And since I had already tidied the bags, I was able to put all of the shoes I was donating into the bags I had decided to donate - win, win!

Total donation/rubbish bags to date: 3
Total attic boxes emptied: 1

February 05, 2016

The Konmari Method - Hanging Clothes, Socks & Hosiery

Hello and welcome back to my Konmari Method journey!

I've been systematically working my way through the clothing sub-categories and this time around I tackled hanging clothes, socks and hosiery.  Now that I've gone through the tops and bottoms, which is the bulk of my wardrobe, these smaller categories are much easier and quicker to blast through.

Hanging clothes encompasses coats, jackets and dresses.  I also threw in to this category my house coats, night gowns and the two random sets of lingerie-style clothing I have.  I started with the outdoor coats, including fetching down the three coats from the attic.

Total coats: 9

This category was super easy, because I already knew that I wasn't going to keep any of the three coats from the attic and that I love all my current coats, with the exception of the rain coat but it's a necessity living and biking in Malmo so it has to say (although if I manage to find a different one that I like better, it's gone in a heart beat).  I didn't take an after photo of this category, mostly because I forgot.  The coats at the top of the photo are gone and the ones along the bottom remain.

Next I tackled dress jackets, dresses, house coats and the lingerie stuff.  One dress I had already re-homed with a friend from work so here's what was left to go through:

Jackets, dresses & lingerie: 20

Most of the dresses stayed, as they are still quite new buys and I love them.  The house coats stayed - one for summer and one for winter and one night gown that matches one of the house coats.  The other two random pieces of lingerie, which I've had since university and I'm sure no longer fit - buh-bye!  As for the dress jackets, one is actually mine (I kept it) and the other three were hand-me-downs from my mum.  They're lovely but in the time I've had them, I've never worn any of them so I kept the one I really liked and decided the rest would better benefit someone else.

Final count: 10

Next I moved on to socks and hosiery.  I had some socks left over in the box of clothing from the attic and then pulled out all of the current ones from my closet to go through as well.  I was shocked at the volume of panty hose, though!  I'm sure this is true of every woman's panty hose collection - they seem to multiply of their own accord and you always end up with odds and ends because they get runs and holes in them and you forget which are damaged and need throwing out while you're racing in the morning to get dressed and to work on time, etc., etc., etc.  Anyway, it was time for a serious go-through and tidy.

Honestly, I didn't count...

So herein are collections of everyday dress socks, work out socks, cosy socks, leotards, panty hose (in various sizes and configurations) and a pair of tights.  Needless to say, all of the socks from the attic box went immediately.  I weeded out the work out socks and decided that while I like some cosy socks, the amount I had was ridiculous for someone who wears them only occasionally.  Nearly all of the everyday dress socks stayed, as I wear them all the time.  The leotards also stayed, as I love them (I'm sure my childhood self would be abhorred to hear me admit that).

And then there were the panty hose...  There was really nothing left to it but to go through every single one and assess them piece by piece.  I started with all of the footies sizes, most of which cut into my foot so they were all removed.  Then knee-high hose - I threw out all of the ones with runs and holes and paired up what was left; 5 pairs in total.  Finally, the full-length panty hose, all of which I tried on one by one (and boy, did that work up a sweat!).  From that I got 4 pairs that fit and are run/hole-free and I have to say, I was very thrilled with those that were left - they definitely sparked joy, since I didn't think they fit at all but were so nice.

Final count: 35

I also took the time to roll up the panty hose so now they're all neat and easy to see and access in my shelving unit.  I know Marie Kondo says to not roll up your socks (and I realise there is evidence that this wears out the elastics in them) but folding my socks is beyond my sensibilities.  It's a give and take balance.

That's it for today.  I'm really nearing the end of the clothing section and I'm seeing a dramatic difference in my closets, which has made me soooo happy!  I'll share photos when it's all done.  Stay tuned for more shortly.

Total donation/rubbish bags to date: 2
Total attic boxes emptied: 1

February 02, 2016

The Konmari Method - Bottoms

Hello again!

So last week I shared with you my initiation into the Konmari Method and progress starting to declutter my tops.  I should also mention that I was very efficient and two days after decluttering my tops, I took the giant donation bag into the second hand shop and dropped it off - soooo satisfying.  Then I couldn't wait to tackle the bottoms so here we go!

Before: 50 bottoms

Okay, so this sub-category was easier than the tops, even though it included trousers, shorts and skirts, there was already remarkably fewer items and the vast majority of them have been sitting in a box in the attic so I already knew that they wouldn't be staying.

After: 20 remaining

Now here is a more dramatic after photo!  I admit that there were a few pieces that were difficult to part with in this category but I've come to terms with it and said my thank yous and good-byes and into the donation bag they have gone.  I even threw out two old pairs of jeans directly into the bin.

These few items have been nicely hung or folded and added to the closets, which are looking much fresher, thinner and tidier.  I didn't take a new photo of my closet yet, as it doesn't look too much different from last week but once I get to the panty hose, etc., it should see a significant face-lift.  What is it about panty hose that makes them breed like rabbits?

Total donation/rubbish bags to date: 2

January 31, 2016

Sympathy Card

Hello again!

Today I'm sharing a very quick card I made for a friend who unfortunately lost her mum just before New Years.  I've not made a sympathy card previously and I wasn't sure what from my stash would be suitable, considering that most of my style and thus supplies are bright and cheerful and clearly that wasn't the appropriate tone for such an occasion.  Instead, I decided to just keep it simple and let my letter inside speak for itself.

The paper was recently given to me from a friend.  It's not card weight paper and not a colour or design I would have chosen myself but it was perfect for this project.  If you look very closely, you can see there is a very subtle mottled pink tone running through the blue, which helps to give it a hint of warmth, which I felt was important here.

I stamped the flowers using an Ali Edwards stamp set and set rhinestones in their centers.  The 'thinking of you' sentiment came from another stamp set of about 20 or so different cards sentiments.  I honestly didn't have anything else fitting for a sympathy card but I liked how this was not only accurate (I have been thinking of her and her family) but not directly sad.

Finally, I added the bird sticker, which is from a My Mind's Eye chalkboard sticker collection.  The space needed an embellishment there for balance, even though I wanted to keep the overall design simple, and I liked how it felt dove-like.  As a final touch, I popped the little pink heart into the sentiment, inked the edges in blue and called it done.

January 25, 2016

The Konmari Method - Sparking Joy

Hello and welcome back!

Before I start this post, I should probably preface it by explaining that I'm a pretty OCD person and I dislike clutter - it mentally irritates me, which is why I always have to tidy up my work desk at the end of the day's lessons before I can concentrate on planning for the next day.  So when I recently stumbled across Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Orangizing, I was immediately interested.

Ironically, I've always had a history of keeping things and having difficulty letting go of things, even as a child.  But as I've gotten older, I've gotten better at letting go.  In fact, I remember when I moved into my current flat and had barely any possessions (or furniture), it was a very freeing feeling.  And while I now have many possessions that I enjoy, I have felt a sad nostalgia for that time when I had much, much less.  I go through phases of decluttering - for several years now, I make a point of keeping my wardrobe in check by removing and donating the same number of clothing articles that I buy new (so if I buy 4 new tops, I donate 4 old pieces of clothes) and I usually have one or two annual clean-out binges, which always leave me feeling very therapeutic.  So needless to say, I was pretty hooked as soon as I saw the title and started checking out the reviews and comments.

I won't get too into the details because I really think that if this is something you want/need to explore yourself in your own life, you should definitely read the book yourself.  There are also a tonne of resources about the Konmari Method on YouTube, too.  But here is the nuts and bolts of the system:

1. Declutter quickly in a short time-frame.  Marie recommends anywhere between a week or month or if you have a full-time job, up to a 6-month period.  While six months may not feel like a short amount of time, compare it to the length of an average lifetime.  She rationalises that decluttering quickly will make an immediate and dramatic impact (which is true) and this will help to re-inforce your vision and pleasure at the change.

2. Declutter by category, not location.  One of the big differences with the Konmari Method is that you should declutter by type of object, not by room.  This immediately makes sense when you consider that often people keep the same types of objects in multiple rooms - think books, I have books in my living room, bedroom and kitchen.  It's better to just go through all the books in one fell swoop and be done with them, then move on to the next category of object.  She also has a list of the best order of categories to start with so that you start with the easier things to let go of and work up to the more sentimental items last.

3. Hold the object and ask yourself, "Does this spark joy?"  And here is the heart of the Konmari Method - does it spark joy?  The difference here is that you're not focused on throwing out stuff that you don't like or haven't used in X-years.  It's a positive approach where you're focusing on which possessions give you joy, that you love and want to be surrounded by every day.  Marie says that it's important to hold the objects, because you will feel in your body/soul which ones make you happy (spark joy), because you will feel your heart lift.

Okay, so enough theory.  I had started reading the book a couple of weeks ago and eager to put it into action, I got started one weekend on the first category: clothing > tops.  Knowing I had one final box of old clothes up in the attic, I dragged that down and then went through the box and all of my closets and pulled out every top I own and set them out on the bed:

Before: 113 tops

Now, I'm not the type of person who owns a lot of clothes - really.  And yet this was pretty shocking; which is exactly why Marie says to gather up all of the same type of object before you start decluttering - so you can see just how much you have (which you don't really need).  Truer words were never written!

After: 61 tops

Well, it took a fair amount of time but I held every single top and asked myself, "Do you spark joy?" and I whittled it down to 61 tops.  I know the photos don't seem as dramatic as they should but there are in fact fewer piles there and they are much shorter than in the original photo.  And most importantly, I'm happy with those that are remaining; I'm pleased with the idea of wearing these tops.

Folded the Konmari Way

Then I got started on folding and re-organising my closets.  If you're familiar with any Shinto teachings, you may have already heard that you're not suppose to stack items into piles because it crushes the souls of the items on the bottom so it wasn't surprising to me that Marie also recommends a folding and sorting approach without the use of piles.  It also makes sense if you're using drawers, because then you can see all the articles and not just those on the top and you're more likely to use all pieces equally.  Plus, doesn't it look tidy?!  My heart sings with joy!

My hanging closet is nearly bare.  I could have easily hung up my fine-weight summer tops in there (as Marie recommends doing) but for the moment I'd rather have them in my seasonal storage box until I get the rest sorted.  Now I can't wait to move on to the bottoms!

January 22, 2016

Colouring My Year

Hello, hello!

You don't have to look too far or long to know that adult colouring books are all the rage these days.  They've even popped up on the market here in Sweden - I bought one for a crafty friend of mine for her birthday last month.  Then Christmas rolled around and Santa had left me a very special fabric-wrapped present under the tree...

Tula Pink Colouring Book & Fabrics

Yup, not just beautiful Tula Pink fabrics but a Tula Pink colouring book (who knew?)  Boxing Day I broke into this super fun book with my fresh box of Crayola pencil crayons.  Fuzzy new PJs, blanket and colouring book - now that's what I call a relaxing Boxing Day.

Mandala Flower

But that wasn't all.  A pretty awesome Colour Your Year calendar was also under the tree; and what better motivation to keep up with some creative colouring than a monthly panel to work on throughout the year?  I've already gotten started on January's koi pond.

January: Koi Pond

Colouring Lovelies

I've been puttering away on it this week and lily pad leaves have grown in number, lily flowers are nearly done and another koi (plus bits and bobs) have also been added.  I'm still trying to decide on colours for the circular elements around the koi and the foam bits.

I'm thinking that once the year is over, I'd like to use the finished 12x12 coloured pages as backgrounds for scrapbooking pages; perhaps for a monthly overview layout.

And just in case you wanted a closer look at those gorgeous Tule Pink fabrics again, here's a bit closer shot:

Tula Pink Love

So what about you; have you tried adult colouring yet?

January 20, 2016

Start the Year Inspired Sale!

Good morning, everyone!

Just a super quick post today to let fellow teachers know that my TpT Store is joining in the huge site-wide sale today and tomorrow (Jan. 20 & 21).  This is a great opportunity if you're looking for handy IB resources, vocabulary/word wall cards, ORT comprehension sheets, maths inquiry-based worksheets, etc.  Everything has been marked down by 20% so go check it out!


Happy downloading!

January 19, 2016

A New Love

OMG, I think I've found a new fabric love...

Have you heard of Cloud 9 Fabrics?  Until recently, I hadn't.  Then I visited a new-to-me quilt shop in Canada while on holiday and absolutely fell in love with a series of fabrics called Wildwood.  Naturally they came home with me.  (BTW, the grey fabric below is from the House & Garden collection, not Wildwood, but still Cloud9 Fabrics.)

Cloud9 Fabrics

I mean, come on - turquoise, navy, grey and a funky coral in cute designs and modern/retro vibe?  I was sold in an instant.  As an added bonus, the fabrics are also 100% organic, which can't be a bad thing.

Need more convincing?  Check out their other cute collections on the Cloud9 Fabrics website.

I think I need to ask my local quilt shop to start carrying these fabrics.  Just do me one favour...don't tell Moda...

January 15, 2016

Giraffe & Moon Baby Quilt

Hello, hello!

Well this post is looong overdue.  To be honest, it's sat in my drafts box for so long that I actually forgot that it existed.  So I think it's time to release it unto the world.

Now, the reason as to why I've waited so long to share this post is because I've been waiting on some photos of the completed project.  However, any one of you out there who has had a baby under the age of a year will know that taking photos of a baby quilt and sending them to your friend is likely to be as far down on your priority list as this blog post ultimately became, and I really can't blame the parents (my friends) for that.  So, despite my hope of showing off this little quilt with its infant owner, I have some non-baby-featuring photos to share instead.

I keep thinking of this quilt as the cow that jumped over the moon but strangely, these are giraffes, not cows.  I'm willing to argue that it could still pass with the nursery rhyme title, though.

Giraffes & Moon Baby Quilt

Giraffes & Moon Baby Quilt

This adorable quilt was bought as a kit in the States and given to friends (as a kit) for their baby shower, with the promise that it would magically turn into a quilt by the time the baby was born.  It features soft cottons, flannels and super cosy chenille fabrics, although I discovered just how frustrating chenille can be to quilt on, as it has a tendency to snap the quilting thread.  The Heat n'Bond piecing for the characters helped everything come together quickly and easily, with just a wee bit of block piecing afterwards.

Moon & Meander Quilting

Giraffe & Hand Blanket Stitching

The blanket stitching is done by hand and the rest of the sewing and quilting were done by machine.  A combination of traditional straight and free motion meander quilting were used with a variegated blue cotton quilt thread.

The project came together very quickly with two people working on it together.  Needless to say, the parents were thrilled and baby Max loves his quilt.

January 12, 2016

Quilt Your Stash 2016 - Week One

Hello, hello!

Last week I was flipping through my Instagram when a post by Sherri at A Quilting Life caught my eye: Quilt Your Stash 2016.  Well, hello there, I thought.

Like every other crafter out there, I have a stash and I'm sure like many crafters, using it is a bit of a love/hate scenario - I know I should but often it can be so hard to cut into that beautiful, pristine fabric. However, I've been taking baby steps trying to organise my fabric so that I get better at using it up, especially the leftovers from completed projects.  One of the things that particularly caught my eye about Sherri's post was not just the idea of using pretty fabrics already on hand but the organisational aspect (I've already ear marked the book she recommended, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organzng by Marie Kondo - I blame the OCD in me but whatever).

Anyway, let's cut to the chase.  Earlier this week Sherri posted Week One of her new series.  There were three tasks to complete:

1. Clean off all sewing/quilting surfaces - Done!  Sewing table tidied up and I even put away the box full of scrapbooking supplies that was occupying my sewing machine chair.  Double score!

2. Make a list of works in progress - Done!  I currently have four WIPs and decided to use the form recommended by Sherri from AllPeopleQuilt to record my 2016 quilting plans.

3. Make a list of projects to start this year - Done!  It wasn't easy choosing new projects for the year - so much to choose from, but I'm hoping that I've chosen a fun mix of projects I've been wanting to work on, both big and small.  Ultimately, my goal is to surpass my 2015 list of 6 completed projects.

Here's my 2016 project plan list:

The UFO Challenge has already drawn January's project to complete number - 2.  Looks like I'll be getting starting on my pixelated heart wallhanging and with any luck, I'll get it down both before Valentine's Day and in time for next month's guild show and tell.

January 09, 2016

2015 Year in Review

Welcome back and Happy New Year!

For the first time ever, I feel I was productive enough with my sewing last year that I can justify writing an annual 'completed projects' post - yeah!  It's all thanks to my new-to-me sewing machine, my Janome 6600P.  So without further ado, here is a run down of last year's finished projects.

Dinosaur Baby Shower Gifts

Six Pocket Tote Bag

Baby Quilt - Group Sew

Tula Pink Handbag

Harmonic Convergence Wallhanging

Diamond Jubilee Jelly Roll Race Quilt

That Cat Wallhanging

So six completed solo projects, one completed group project, plus another three quilts/wallhangings very close to completion - that's a pretty tidy sum for a year by my record.  Stay tuned for a peak of what I hope to have in store for 2016, coming soon.