Monday, September 21, 2009

What's going on in the MooreMagnets house?!

I thought I would give you all a little update on what is going on in the MooreMagnets household! Oh, and for all of you looking for the update on the paperwork - I haven't gotten everything together to do a blog post about that, but hopefully sometime this week I will be able to give you a re-cap with pictures!

Boys! As most of you know we have 3 boys running around! Life gets pretty busy with all of them running around - especially this year! The oldest is 14 now! Hard to believe but he is a freshman in high school now! He is the kicker for the Junior Varsity football team, and he is a starter on the Varsity soccer team! Woot! Being on the varsity soccer team is quite and accomplishment for him, and he is the only freshman or sophomore on the team! Seeing them practice and play is a bit strange for me, especially since he isn't any smaller than the rest of the boys!

The middle boy has certainly sprouted this year - he is 12 now and definitely coming into his own. His father and I were incredibly shocked that he wanted to play middle school football this year - especially since he has never been very sports oriented. So, he tried out and made it!! He is one of the wide receivers on the team, so now he is really working on catching with dad and older brother.

Youngest boy is 6 now, and just as sweet as ever! Watching him develop friendships is the most wonderful thing! He wants to be in the boy scouts (trying to work out scheduling for that) and will probably play soccer in the spring!

Hubby and me are doing great! Not too many household projects going on right now other than finishing my workshop. I have taken on one project though! A dear friend of mine was recently diagnosed with adult alopecia. It really frightened me when I saw her wig sitting in her room before she had a chance to tell me what was going on. Only two short months later she has lost all of her beloved hair - all with no real known reason. Most of you who know me also know that I have enough hair for 2-3 people, so I have decided to let it grow and donate it to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program. Here is a picture of where I am now!


Curious about the requirements? You can find them from the link I posted above - but here is a quick rundown - must have 8 inches in length, less than 5% gray (I hope I still meet this!), no permanant hair treatments (vegetable color is okay)...

So I have about 7 inches right now - but really I am going for 10 - Hopefully I will be there by January!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Paperwork! Organizing my stacks!

It's a rainy day today, and I am finally finished sending out my outstanding orders. As much as I would love to just take the day off and do nothing, I have a giant stack of paperwork staring back at me!

I have several files already set up, but since our new computer arrived, I have decided to rearrange my desk. Things are coming along nicely, but it is forcing me to tackle some of the paperwork projects that I have been putting off for a while.

I will be taking pictures during the day to show you part of the process, but here is the list of the supplies I have ready to go to tackle this project!

File Folders
Label Maker
Large clean surface (my living room floor)
Stacks of paperwork
Empty file box
Note pad
Pens/Pencils
Shredder

I am not sure if I will be able to reveal my final office yet, but stay tuned hopefully it will come soon!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Product Preview - Wall Pockets, Spice Racks, Coupon Organizers ... Oh My!!

I have been asked several times about what new products are coming from Moore Magnets! So, here is your preview of items that are in production in the workshop, a brief description, and when you can expect to see pictures and listings!

Wall Pockets - I am currently working on some wall pocket organizers that will look similar to my new letter holders. These wall pockets will be larger than the letter holders and designed to hold standard file folders (a legal file folder option will be available). These will hang on the wall with screws and magnets will stick on the surface of the wall pocket. They will be beautiful, functional, and some of them will come with matching magnet boards and other office goodies! These are scheduled to be completed in 1-2 weeks.

Spice Racks/Organizers - I am also working on some spice racks and organizer racks! They will be magnet boards that include magnet tins suitable for storing spices or other itty bitty goodies! There will be large sets and small sets and some of the magnet boards will come uncovered for those cooks that get a bit messy in the kitchen. These are scheduled to be completed in 2 weeks!

Coupon and Receipt Organizers - Sorry - can't tell you more about these! You will just have to wait patiently! These are scheduled to be completed in 2-3 weeks (maybe sooner!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We are Experiencing Technical Difficulties....

ACK! My computer crashed! It was something that my husband and I knew would happen at some point!

So - do you have an external harddrive? Do you back up your computer on it?

If so, that is great - However, you need to take the next step and actually go on to the external harddrive and make sure that your back up files are really there!

Hopefully I will have some new things to show you soon, but it will take me a few days to get back on track and figure out how to use some of this new software!

Have a great day!

Don't forget about the End of Summer Sale in my Artfire shop! Click the sale tab on the right for more details!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Organizing Tip! Organizing Digital Photos


One of the hardest things for me to keep organized these days are my digital photos! I am guessing that is because they really don't take up any physical space. However, as an online seller of my craft photos are an essential part of my business. In my former life in the business world I maintained a database of thousands (maybe millions) of electronic papers and pictures and the system that we used was a dating system. It didn't take me long to figure out that we needed to use a coding system of year-month-day-document number - Today's first document would have looked like this: 2009-09-09-00001

However, that system didn't help me in business since the day that I took the photo was irrelevant. I currently use a system that uses the size of the magnet board, framed or unframed, fabric description, number - so my files end up looking something like this: 12x12Bluedots01 or 18x23Framedpinkgreendots01. For the items that I make that are not magnet boards my files look something like: pencilholderpurplegreenflower01 or mailholderorangewhitescrolls01

This naming system is generally how I keep all of my photos that have been edited, but I don't re-name the original pictures that are downloaded from my camera - I probably should, but since time is short - I don't.

Another thing that I do is I keep a file that is labeled - Show pictures - These are pictures that are my best photos of my work, and the file that I open when I need to find a picture to print for craft shows, juried sites, website design, flyers etc... Every picture in this file is a copy of the original.

There are other ways of organizing your photos, such as, coming up with a numbered category system where you have a number for each main category, perhaps a number for a subcategory, and a photo number. However, if you use a system like this you will need to make sure that you keep a list handy of all of your category and subcategory codes. Personally I prefer a system where I don't ever need a reference sheet and I can quickly look at the name of the file and determine what the photo is.

So, what is the first step to creating your own system? I would suggest that you first make a list of all of the different types of photos down, and then decide how many categories that you have and how many subcategories you have. After that you should be able to come up with some sort of system!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day is for Laboring?

So It seems that every Labor Day my husband and I work on some big un-done project. So, I guess in my house - Labor Day is for laboring!

This Labor Day weekend my husband and I tackled some un-done projects on my workshop! Originally, I was just going to start painting - a project that is well over-due and desperately needed!! So I woke up bright and early - got on the painting clothes - and went outside to start my weekend project! I apparently inspired my husband to come help me, as he shortly joined me and then left to pick up breakfast. After he returned he decided to start boxing in the eaves on my workshop! Yay! This is certainly a task that I wasn't sure how to complete, and one that I have desperately wanted to have done for a long time!

You see, we have bees and wasps! UGH! Lots of them! Certainly if they were honey bees I would have had our local bee association come and remove the hives, but the bees that we are inundated with are wasps and carpenter bees - NOT FUN!!! Now carpenter bees are great pollonators, but they cause total distruction to any wooden structures by boring tunnels into the wood for their nests! They are also said to be "unlikely to sting", but since I am apparently seen as a threat to their nest (since they build them inside my workshop), they like to dive bomb me and I have been stung by them before. Wasps are my other enemy - I cannot even tell you how many nests I have sprayed inside my workshop, and I have been stung by them also - NOT FUN!!

Here are pictures of the two gigantic wasp nests that we removed from my workshop over the weekend!

The eaves on the workshop are not completed yet as you can see by the pictures, but I am VERY happy that there is much less of a chance that the bees can invade at this point!

Up until this point we have been working on wiring my workshop! The wires have been run to all of the outlets - some of them installed, and some of them not installed! But I do have some workable outlets!

So, the home of MooreMagnets is coming right along, but for now it is back to work! I have custom orders to finish!!!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Yummy!

This is a really easy and quick appetizer that I have fallen in love with! I can't take the credit for the recipe, but my friend Becky taught me this one. I really don't care for plain tomatoes like my husband, so this is a way for me to enjoy the fresh tomatoes and basil from our garden with very little preparation.

Ingredients:

1 ripe tomato sliced
1 package fresh mozzarella sliced
fresh basil
balsamic vinegar

Just slice the tomatoes and mozzarella top them with one or two pieces of fresh basil and sprinkle balsamic vinegar over the top - Done!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Update on Me and My Websites!

Good Morning! For the last several days I have been busy as a bee adding items to my store! As much as I love Etsy, ?? is really becoming a place where I can offer my customers some great features such as coupons and discounts, as well as the ability to make purchases with out creating a user account while still checking out with a secure connection. I will continue to keep my Etsy store stocked, but all coupons and discounts that are offered will only be available through my ?? store.

I have also reached 100 fans on Facebook, and have secured my Facebook vanity url. Coupons and discounts will be announced via Facebook and on my blog - so either fan me on Facebook, or sign up for my RSS feed on the blog.

A Newsletter - I have had many requests over the years to create a newsletter so that people can keep up with me and be informed of new products, fabrics, where I am going to be, and special promotions. At this time I still do not have plans to start a newsletter. I have tried several times, and the time that it takes as well as the expense have always held me back. My blog and Facebook fan page will be alternatives for a newsletter. I will be sending a monthly email to all of my fans on Facebook, so if you don't want to hear from me everyday you can hide my Facebook posts and you will still receive the monthly email.

As always, if you have any questions please email me at april@MooreMagnets.com

Please know that I want to provide each and every one of my customers the level of personal service that all of my customers have come to expect! By making these changes and additions I will be able to continue offering that service to everyone!

Now for all of the URL's!


Etsy: http://MooreMagnets.etsy.com
Blog: http://MooreMagnets.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://Facebook.com/MagnetBoards
Email: april@MooreMagnets.com

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Accessories for your Magnet Boards!

Here are some new accessories for your Magnet Boards!

Pen/Pencil Holders:

I have been making pen/pencil holders for a long time, and I have friends and family that are still using the pen/pencil holders that they got from me 4-5 years ago! But, these are my "new generation" pen/pencil holders! These are customized with a fabric button so they can match your magnet board or just go with your decor. They will hold any pen/pencil up to 3/8" diameter, and when the pen runs out - just get another and pop it in the holder!


Letter Holders:

These are my newest creation! I am pleased to present to you these magnetic letter holders, although they can be used for a lot more than letters! Use them to keep coupons, mail, notes, invoices, your daily todo lists, and more! These can be customized to match most of the magnet boards in my store!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Organizing Tip Tuesday!

If your house is anything like mine, you ALWAYS need more organization! So, I hope that you can pick up one tip from my blog that will help you get just a little more organized!

Closets! Between me, my husband, and 3 boys there is always a closet in the house that needs to be organized, and most of the time it is due to clothes and shoes that don't fit or that no one wears any more. So, years ago I decided that each closet needed two bins in them no matter how the rest of the closet was organized. One bin is for dirty clothes, and the other bin is for clothes that don't fit, or that no one can or wants to wear anymore.

The donation bins are treated very much like the laundry bins - but they are not mingled with the laundry bins. So, every few weeks they are checked, and sorted by color, and washed. Once they are washed I sort the clothes by things that will be handed down, and things that need to be donated, and things that are just too worn out to be donated. The hand-me-downs are transferred to the next wearers closet, the worn out things are usually sent to the garage or workshop, and the donations are transferred to bags or boxes and taken to the donation center.

I don't wait until I have a truck load of stuff to go to the donation center - I found the closest one to a store that I frequent, and stop and drop of just one bag or just one box at a time. My boys know the difference in the bins - they were cued by color when they were younger - and they use them sometimes. Actually the teenagers are starting to use them more and more as they are much more motivated by style right now!

Hope that helps! Good luck on your organizing quest!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Changes on the Horizon!

Over the next few weeks, my blog will be changing focus. Thank you to all who drop in and read all of my little stories, but clearly I haven't made an effort to maintain my blog over the summer. Seems that the kids have kept me entirely too busy!

Over the last few months I have gotten quite a few requests from people to be added to my mailing list - but you see, a mailing list for my business doesn't exist!

So, instead of adding one more thing to my increasingly long to-do list, I have decided that my blog needs to change and become my sort of mailing list.

From this point on - my blog will become a place where new products, new fabrics, news about where I can be found, and organizing tips will be featured.

So, stay tuned! I hope that you will find something that interests you!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Clean Up The Crap Wednesday - Continued!



So, I decided that I really needed to clean up our coat closet. Kinda funny that I call it that since we don't put coats in it, but I use the closet to store the vacuum, winter hats/gloves, and stuff for my business. This morning is was a complete disaster, and I actually couldn't even get the vacuum into the closet. Bad since I haven't used the vacuum since last week!!

So Here is the before picture:


I am ashamed that this closet still housed:
- playdoh toys that my son hasn't played with in almost 2 years
- a basked of coloring books, markers, and crayons that I didn't know about
- and bags that I transport product in that were falling all over the place
- the lids to plastic storage bins that are probably long gone

I want to use this closet to house:
- overflow shipping supplies
- bubble wrap
- over flow baggies for product
- wooden shape supplies
- overflow of magnets
- winter hats/gloves
- vacuum cleaner and parts

So, I emptied it out and put everything back - I have relocated the coloring things to my son's room, but most of the other stuff is going to goodwill or the trash!

I can even fit the vacuum in the closet now!

Also - I wanted to point out my organizing solution! I hung an over the door shoe rack with clear pockets on the back of the door a while back - but most of the pockets were empty. So - they have been filled up and arranged so that I can see everything! The best part is the pockets are clear so I can give the label maker a rest for
the day!

Clean up the Crap Wednesday

My house is a mess! So I really do need a clean up the crap day! I haven't decided what task I am going to share with you yet, but I can promise lots of pictures and that the space will be organized when I am finished!

So... Stay tuned, this post will be updated later today =)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Toot The Horn Tuesday

I can't believe it is Tuesday! What happened to Monday? Oh, I know - Monday turned out to be a whirlwind of good and bad things all wrapped up into one!

Yesterday was one of those days where just when you think things are going to run smoothly, everything comes crashing down!

There were a couple of orders that I was supposed to send out yesterday, but realized that for one I didn't have a few things made that I thought I did. The other didn't go out because as I was getting ready to package things up I unknowingly uncovered a huge wasp nest in my packaging material! I only got stung once - but ouch! Right on my head!! So I ran in the house aching - grabbed an ice pack and sat for about 30 minutes with ice on my head, head throbbing, and trying to listen to the 5 (almost 6) year old boy ask me a million questions about bees, wasps, why they sting you, and how he has never gotten stung. Oh, and not to mention, between every other question he informed me that he was starving and wanted to know what was for lunch.

So, I had to email each of my customers and let them know that their packages were not going out until Tuesday, and I packed up the boy and we hit Subway.

So, you may be asking why this is called toot the horn Tuesday when all I have been doing is complaining about my misfortune with a wasp?!! I am going to toot the horn about Subway!

The whole way to Subway my son was insisting that he didn't like that place, we had never eaten there before, and there was no way he was going to eat a turkey sandwich if it didn't have ham on it too! However, as soon as we got to the door of Subway he realized that - "OH, Mommy I told you we have been here before ... This place is the place that makes the best sandwiches ... A LOT better than your sandwiches Mommy!"

So we ordered. My son was thrilled that he could get chocolate milk - and Mommy was very proud that he got tomatoes on his sandwich - and I ended up getting him the kids meal they have.

Well - the toy that came with the kids meal was a compass! How cool is that! My son was so excited by his new toy, and has spent the next 18 hours announcing which direction we are going in!

All I have to say is that this is soooooo much better than the el-cheapo plastic toys and stuffed animals from the other fast food places!

Thanks Subway!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mommy Time Monday

So, I am going to try to get back on track for blogging! It is a little difficult as I have too many projects going on right now, but no time like the present to form a habit ... Right?!

Today I am really going to clean the house ... I mean a good cleaning - sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, bathrooms... etc. Really I have let things go for the last week, just getting by with picking up. So, it is time to hunker down and get this place under control!

My mommy time today is actually happening right now! I got up early this morning - 5 am - and enjoyed getting on Facebook to catch up with friends. I have been looking at everyone's sweet pictures, reading about their activities, and leaving little comments to let them know I was there.

I know it isn't a very glamorous mommy time, but it is one of those little things that we don't always take the time todo.

On one other note - Here are some pictures of the giant magnet boards that I have been finishing up - They are quite big at 23"x48" and my customer chose some beautiful Amy Butler fabrics. Enjoy... and Happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Where have you been for a month and a half?!!

So, it has been a month and a half since my last post, and when I last posted I had NO idea the sequence of events that was about to take place.... So here's a little update...

Ahhhhh... The puppy! Yes, we still have the puppy and she has officially been named Blackberry - sorry I don't have puppy pictures to post today, but essentially she has tripled or quadrupled in size since the puppy post. Potty training is going well ... we still have an accident about once a week, but overall we are just battling chewing, jumping, and overall puppy craziness.


Broken arms... About 3 days after we got the puppy, Nick (the 5-year old) and I decided that it would be a great thing to pick up McDonald's, take it to the park, take the puppy, and meet a friend there. About 20 minutes after we arrived Nick fell off the slide, broke his arm, and we headed to the ER. The next two weeks were full of waking in the middle of the night to let the puppy out or to doctor a boy in pain. So, we finished up the school year making trips to the Orthopedic doctor, getting casts, and trying to find activities that a one-armed boy could do.




Kindergarten Graduation! Nick has officially graduated from kindergarten! We had several end of school activities to attend including a program where Nick had to dress up as a purple bird. Has anyone ever tried to find a purple shirt and pants for a 5-year old? Well, the shirt I finally found, but this purple bird had black legs as purple pants are nearly impossible to find for a boy. I still have no idea what his teachers were thinking - after all, he could have been a blue bird - or even an orange or red bird!! This program was for the dual-language program that Nick is in at his school - he will be fluent in English and Spanish by the time he enters 3rd grade.

The actual graduation ceremony was very cute and at the end the kids in his class celebrated by cracking confetti eggs on each others heads - this is a South American tradition that the dual language classes participate in. I have to tell you that the confetti egg extravaganza was HILARIOUS!

After graduation Nicholas still had a week of having his cast on, and another couple weeks of taking it easy. So, we have spent lots of time swimming (post cast removal), seeing movies, playing at McD's, puppy training, ice cream, and anything else that we could think of that was easy for a 1-armed boy.




Things have still not completely returned to normal, but I am getting caught up. I have lots of other things to share with you, but I will save them for another day.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Puppy Love!


My husband and I have talked for years about getting a puppy, and we finally made the leap. Here is Blackberry!


She was named by our boys - still not sure if the name will stick, but so far it has and really I think it is pretty cute.

She is a cocker spaniel and mutt mix, and oh so cute!! She has been really great so far - only two little accidents, but nothing even close to being a big deal. She is going to make a great companion for our boys!

We got her on Saturday (May 16th) and she is 6 weeks old.

Everyone is having a blast playing with her and getting some sweet puppy love!

(Except maybe me - I am pretty tired and feeling like I have an infant all over again!)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Toot the Horn Tuesday

So, I am sitting here trying to clear my head enough to figure out what I am going to toot the horn about. Life just seems to be moving at whirlwind speed right now - the house is kinda crazy, business is busy (yay!!), the kids are all ready to be outside now that spring is springing, hubby has found new inspiration to get projects started around here, and I am a little stressed and a lot dragging.

I know that I am dragging some because of seasonal allergies - ugh, the pollen is thick! But my brain has been so busy with ideas and todo's lately that I just can't seem to slow it down.

So, I am going to toot my own horn for once. Even though things have been in warp speed I have managed to stay on task with getting some of my newest creations underway. I started listing some of my office line, and I am finishing up more accessories that match them this week. I also was featured on this really cool online magazine Outblush.com - you can see my cool feature here.

I am in the process of finishing my new line and writing a press release for when it is ready to fully launch.

I have also been trying to update my main website.

Ahhh, I am hoping to sleep in sometime this weekend!!

Go ahead - toot your horn too!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mommy Time Monday - (and I really need it this week!)

It has been a VERY long weekend, and I can honestly say that I am in great need of some Mommy Time today!

First things first! This is the LAST day you can enter the ACE Team virtual Egg Hunt - so visit http://www.aceteamnews.blogspot.com/ for details! The grand prize is worth over $100 and there are 4 other prizes that are worth between $50 - $85. So, you really don't want to miss out on this one!!

Ahhh, back to Mommy Time!

So, it has been a long weekend full of sick kids, work, cleaning, organizing, visits with parents, and basically running around like a headless chicken! I think even my husband realized last night that my stress level was reaching the dangerous "she is going to explode" point, which is why he didn't ask "what's for dinner" and instead asked "where are we going for dinner". Very good move on his part - I must remember to award him some extra bonus hubby points for that one.

My to do list is so long at this point that I really don't know where to start - I did actually start a list last night, but we were in the car and I was looking for my note pad to start the list, and I realized that the note pad didn't have anymore blank papers. So, I found another list that I made the week before, and became even more stressed when there were still things on that list that hadn't been done yet.

UGH!!! So, now that I have a few minutes of peace (everyone is at work or school), I am going to re-write the list. Of course, I am sure that I will miss some things since I am too stressed to even think straight!

So, the need for some quiet Mommy Time is extremely important today. I really think I am going to pop in a movie and just venture into make-believe land for a bit. Maybe my head will be clear enough to finish that todo list when I am done!

I hope you will take some time for yourself today too! Let us know what you are doing!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ace Team Easter Egg Hunt!! Great Big Prizes!


Join in the fun and win prizes in the ACE Team's Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt

In each of our participating shops is hidden a colorful Easter egg (just like the one above). Find them and you could win one of these amazing prizes.

The Grand Prize totals over $110 dollars.. for more information, rules, how to play etc...please visit
The Ace Team Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt

Entries will be accepted from 12:01am on Thursday, April 2 until 11:59pm on Monday, April 6.
Winners of the contest will be selected using www.random.org on Tuesday, April 7.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Clean Up the Crap Wednesday's

Sorry I have been out of pocket for a few weeks. I have felt rather overwhelmed with things going on in life and business.

But....

Alas, the messes in the house don't stop just because mommy is overloaded!

So, for the last couple weeks I have been doing a 15min clean up. I am always amazed with how much I can get done in 15 minutes. I have also started involving the kids. My 5 year old loves to set the timer on the stove to start us out, and then we basically run around like crazy picking up things for 15 minutes. He will run into the kitchen every minute or two and announce how many minutes we have left. I try to make the process fun by acting silly and running around in circles a few times, but all the silliness aside, we are cleaning up!

To set up our 15 minute clean up we start by talking about what we are going to work on before the timer is set. Next we talk about the fact that 15 minutes is not a long time, so we must work as fast as we can, and finally we go into the kitchen and start the timer.

I probably would not set the timer for a whole 15 minutes if my son was any younger, but I also don't set the timer any longer for our teen and tween. It has definitely helped get the boys jump started about cleaning up, and they are happy that they don't have to clean for more than 15 minutes.

My son also gets a kick when I announce that I need another 15 minutes, and generally he leaves me alone to clean during my extra time.

So - set your timer for 15 minutes - you will probably be amazed at how much you can do!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Every Thursday I will celebrate something that I am really thankful for in my life. Too often we run through everyday mundane things without really appreciating the important things in our life. It isn't that we are shallow, it is more that we are just too busy and don't take the time to do these important little things.

Today's post is a little hard for me to write. I am quite teary eyed thinking about a friend of mine. But, today, I want to say that I am so thankful for my family. My mother is my best friend, My father is a pillar that I can lean on, My step-mother taught me invaluable lessons in what being a step-mother means, My brother I can honestly say will help me bear burdens that we will naturally be faced with as life goes on, and my step-sisters and I share experiences that have only strengthened our relationships.

I am especially thankful for my family today as I watch a dear friend of mine go through heart breaking times. Her father is dieing of terminal cancer and was only diagnosed a few weeks ago. His doctors have only given him a few weeks to live, and my dear friend is taking on much of the responsibilities of preparing for his passing. There are many other responsibilities that she has in taking care of her parents, and it is all weighing heavily on her.

Thank you Kelly for reminding me how many things that I have in my life to be thankful for. I only wish that I could do more to help you through this horrible time in your life. I am here for what ever you need me for!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Clean Up The Crap Wednesday!

Something always needs to be cleaned up and organized around my house. Truly I could blog about this everyday, but I will spare you - and only blog about it on Wednesdays!


So, I decided to clean out my supply cabinet. Originally this cabinet housed our TV and stereo, but we recently purchased a TV that hangs on the wall. I use this cabinet to hold all of my supplies that I use in the house, as opposed to the supplies that are used in my workshop. I found that these items needed to be in a temperature controlled environment, and also didn't need to be exposed to the dust that is created by power tools in my workshop. The pictures really just do not show the full scope of the disaster this cabinet was, and I have been putting off the task of cleaning it out for months!

So, first things first, the cabinet is emptied out. You can see that I literally just took everything out and piled it on the floor. For me, it is just easier to get everything out and then sort it. I sorted by a few different categories for the first sort: Trash, doesn't belong in this cabinet, and keep. Next, I sorted out the things that were staying in the cabinet by what I used them for - office supplies, fabric and fabric crafts, paper crafts, partially finished projects, tools (used in multiple crafts). Next, I sorted each of these categories by how often I used the item.

This last sort is required because this cabinet is fairly deep, and I want to utilize all of the space. Therefore I placed the items that are used least often in the back of the cabinet, and items used most often in the front of the cabinet.

Putting things back in:

As I said above, I tried to put the items that I use least often in the back of the cabinet. However, I also had a few boxes that were full of excess office supplies. So, I took out a small amount of these supplies to store at the front, or in a different location, and then placed the boxes in the back of the cabinet.

I didn't buy any new containers for this organizational project. I simply re-purposed what I had already. Baskets that weren't being used now have a purpose, and bins that were overflowing were cleaned out and used for a different purpose.

There were a few surprises that I found - First was a box of supplies that I didn't realize that I had, and I had just purchased more of these supplies the week before - what a waste of money!! Also, I found a box of paperwork that needed to be added to my tax documents! (Glad I haven't finished taxes yet!).

Lessons Learned: I really need to do things like this more often! Buying supplies that I already have, and having tax documents in a supply cabinet is really bad! I also learned that I need to get better about not putting things in this cabinet that don't belong here! Finally, I need to remember that every square inch of every space does not need to be occupied. Having a bit of room is helpful when you need to move things around, take things out, and put things back in. Also, I am quite sure that there is a supply that I need and have not bought yet!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Toot the Horn Tuesday!

On Tuesday's I will be celebrating accomplishments, and today I am celebrating a HUGE accomplishment that my son made.

Drum Roll...............................

My 5 1/2 year old can RIDE A 2 WHEELER!

Hubby took the training wheels off of his bike per our son's request.


video

I am so proud of him!

My husband has been working with him for a while now, although I have thought it was a bit early. My husband keeps thinking that he is late learning, but that is only because my husband is one of those really strange people who learned to ride a 2-wheeler when he was 3. He can also ride a unicycle and has freakish balancing abilities! Our oldest son also learned to ride a 2 wheeler when he was 3, and so my husband had a really unrealistic view of a child's ability to ride a bike at an early age. However, he is starting to believe me when I say that 5 1/2 is early, since none of my son's school mates or friends that are his age can ride a bike.

I will also say that my husband has been a wonderful teacher!

You will want to come back tomorrow for Clean Up The Crap Wednesday! I cleaned up my supply cabinet and even took Before, During and After pictures!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mommy Time Monday

So, it is Monday and I am thinking about what I need to accomplish this week. Since the year began I have been working really hard to stay on top of the messes, paperwork, laundry, dishes, and getting organized. I have had a few slips, but in general, I have done a really good job. The hubby is happy and the boys are starting to realize that they just can let toys run rampant through the house. However, like most moms I know, mommy time just never seems to make it on the list. I am just so busy doing for everyone and everything else, that I just don't seem to make it on the list. Which is exactly why I started Mommy Time Monday!

So, this morning I made a mental list of what I need to do today.

Blog
Wash up a few dishes
Cover some new magnet boards
Glue up some new magnets
Make decisions about what craft shows I am doing this year
Send off craft show applications

It is really going to be a full day! However, you see what is lacking on this list?!! - I haven't scheduled any time to do something just for me! Sure, I love what I do, and making magnets and magnet boards is really fun, but I really need some time to just relax and do something that is non-work related.

So, what is it going to be. Perhaps I can carve out an hour to watch last weeks episode of Lost that I missed. Perhaps I can crack open that book I have been eying. Perhaps I can read that magazine that I got on Friday that hasn't been opened yet.

What do you do for yourself? If you don't, why not?

Motherhood is hard, but I have found that the hardest part is keeping my own identity. I get so wrapped up in my kids and my husband that sometimes I really loose sight of who I am and what I enjoy. It is really a bad thing, and I need to schedule some time for me - even if it is just one hour per week!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Settle Down Saturday!

I really look forward to Saturdays around my house! It is normally the day of the week that I can get cleaning done in the mornings since the kids are entertaining themselves. Not that I enjoy cleaning, but I do find that it relaxes me once the chores are finished.

So, what will I do to settle down this Saturday? Well, I have been informed that I must watch Alvin and the Chipmunks with my 5 year old. I will be serving sandwiches for lunch, and baking chicken for dinner. By the end of the day the kitchen will be clean, the laundry will be done, and the living room will be picked up. I will also sneak away to my bedroom after dinner and take a bubble bath.

It will be a relaxing day as we have no soccer games to rush off to, no homework that needs to be finished, and no organizing projects to start and finish. But most of all, hubby will be home tonight, and the kids can spend the evening with him, while I pretend that I have escaped the insanity for 30 minutes!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fabulous Finds Friday


On Friday I will post a Fabulous Find! I will try to always feature a handmade item, but not only that, it is an item that I have actually purchased or seen in person! So, today, I am bringing you a sweet and yummy treat!

Caramel Jubilee!!

I bought the 2 flavor Sampler as gifts for Christmas. I choose the Black Licorice and the Vanilla Caramels. Now, I did not try the Black Licorice because I was VERY good and gave them all away as a gift. However, the Vanilla Caramels were given to my husband on the strict condition that he MUST share them with me!

Oh, goodness, these caramels are BIG! Each one is 2 big bites and it just melts in your mouth. My husband even put part of one in his morning coffee and it was delicious!

Since it was a Christmas gift I had to place my order early, and I told them that I didn't need to receive it until Dec 23rd. It arrived on Dec 22nd and the girl running this operation is on the dot with her stuff!

So, if you want to give a sweet treat to someone special - Check out these Caramels - they are yummy and will not disappoint!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday!!

This is my first ever Thankful Thursday, and I have to say how excited I am!!! There are so many things that I am thankful for, but to start off with, I must say that I am thankful for my husband.

I could thank him a million times for working so hard so that I can be at home taking care of the kids and house, and getting to make fun stuff all of the time. However, I also have to thank him for listening to me babble on about Etsy, and all of the boring promo stuff, and recently the CPSIA! But the list doesn’t stop there. I also should thank him for putting up with the messes in the house when I am too busy to get everything done, and helping me cut wood when I need his help even though it is his only night at home. I should thank him for taking care of the boys while I go to craft shows. I should thank him for helping me build an amazing workshop for me even though he would like to build one for himself first. I should thank him for eating leftovers, taking us out to eat, or a dinner of sandwiches when I have been too busy to make dinner.

But most of all I thank him for loving me in spite of all of my faults!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What the Heck is this Blog about!!

So, I am feeling pretty scattered about what my blog is about - who am I, what do I want to write about - Gosh am I really this boring!!!

So I made a list - yes, me, the anti-list-maker actually made a list! I brainstormed topics that I really want to blog about and here is my schedule! I will begin tomorrow!

Mommy time Monday
Toot the Horn Tuesday
Clean up the Crap Wednesday
Thankful Thursday
Fabulous Finds Friday
Settle Down Saturday
Sunday Sunday

Not sure what that all means?! Well, I guess you will just have to start reading to find out!!

Cleaning up my houses – Dealing with the influx of Papers!

So, yesterday I wrote about getting yourself out of the paperwork pile up, and today I thought I would talk about dealing with the inflow of paperwork to prevent a catastrophic paperwork pile up!

First of all, everyone is different! The way that you deal with cleaning, picking up, paperwork, filing, and just about everything else in your life is probably different that the way that anyone else does. So, if you don’t like my way, that is fine, but keep searching and trying different things until you find something that works for you.

There are basically 3 ways that paperwork is generated in my house – The mail, the business, and the people. There are things that are kept and things that are tossed in each, however, the things that are tossed almost never get immediately tossed. So, here is my protocol for each!

The mail – First you should know that my husband and I have always had separate bank accounts and he has certain bills that he pays, and I have certain bills that I pay. It works for us – but if you have joint accounts you can us this system too, you just need to tailor it to your needs. I get the mail, and on the way back to the house I thumb threw it. Basically there are 5 different things that come in the mail – junk, bills, coupons, cards and letters, and purchases. If the junk is addressed to the household or to me I pitch it right away. Next, anything for my husband goes in his mail sorter, cards and letters for me or the kids are opened quickly, purchases are opened quickly, bills for me are opened and put into a tray on my desk and coupons go into a basket in my kitchen. Once bills are paid all of the stubs go into a tray on my desk that is cleaned out/filed monthly. Cards and letters are kept in a friends and family file and I generally go through this file annually (sometimes more often), Coupons are dealt with on coupon day which is either Sunday or Monday, and purchases are put away.

Business Paperwork – The majority of paperwork for my business is generated at my desk, so I have 3 bins that are set up on my desk. They are labeled – Immediate, Ongoing, and File. The immediate file is for bills that need to be paid, orders that I need to fill, and other household items that need to be dealt with quickly. The ongoing file is for ideas that I am currently working on and for things that I use regularly like inventory sheets and mailing labels. File is for all household bill stubs, all delivery confirmations, business receipts, business bill stubs, and anything else that needs to be filed. The immediate file is looked at everyday and sometimes several times a day. The Ongoing file is also looked at daily. The filing bin is emptied at least monthly or sooner if it is full.

The people paperwork – This is any paperwork that is brought into the house by any member of this family. The majority of this is school papers, but quite often there are receipts and other bits of paper that contain information. I have a designated place in the kitchen where all people generated paperwork goes, and I try to empty it out daily, but lots of times it is a week before it is emptied. Really it just depends on how much time I have. Basically anything that needs to be filed, (mainly receipts) ends up in the bin on my desk. The bits of paper that contain important information are usually stuck to the fridge (I need a better system for this!!). It is the school papers that are the biggest problem! I have a file in our filing cabinet for each child and a new one is made each year. I try to weed out stuff before it goes into this file, but sometimes everything is a master piece and mom must go through it when no one is home! I do try to limit the amount of things that I keep, but the most important thing is that I try to date things as they come home. However, quite a few times I just know the year because of the file I have put it in. I am sure I have kept too much, and I am reminded of this when my mother or mother-in-law shows up with yet another box of treasures that they kept!

There is one paperwork issue that I have left out – magazines, catalogs, and phone books. Of all the paperwork issues in my house, this is the one that irritates me the most. I currently only get one magazine, and I let each of the kids get one magazine. I look at my magazine and then it goes straight to the recycle bin. If there is something I want to keep from the magazine, I cut it out and put it into a binder immediately! I do the same thing with catalogs that I get and we only keep one phone book. However, everyone else in this house keeps their magazines. I HATE IT!! My husband has years, and years of magazines in his building. I am convinced that he will NEVER look at any of them, although he swears that they all contain wonderful articles that he is going to refer back to. I ask him if he has ever done this in the past – his response is always once or twice. I have NEVER witnessed one of these monumental events. Yes, it is a pet peeve of mine!

Personally I have two binders in my house where I keep article clippings – one is for recipes and one is for everything else. I will be splitting the second binder soon and have a 3rd binder that is only for gardening. So, if I see an article that contains useful information – I put it in the binder behind a relevant tab, so that I can actually find it when I am looking for it. I have been putting stuff in these same binders for about 15 years, and let me tell you the 3 binders take up significantly less space than 15 years worth of magazines. I keep these binders on the bookshelf.

This post is long enough – I will talk about how I have files set up in my filing cabinet another day – for now, I am off to purge some magazines! (I promise the kids won’t miss them!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cleaning up my houses - Paperwork! Paperwork! Paperwork!

I will say that the biggest cleaning battles that I have in my house are laundry, dishes, and paperwork. So, today, I am going to write about how I am tackling the paperwork in my house. In my ‘cleaning up my houses’ approach, paperwork generally spills into all of the houses. There are business papers, kids papers, family cards and addresses, important papers that fit into the spouse house, of course financial papers, crafting books, and so on. So, tackling this project seems to spill over into cleaning up all of my houses. It is a task that I loath, but a necessary one!

The paperwork monster had been growing for months. Sure, the newspapers generally made it to the recycling center, and junk mail was dealt with accordingly, but the kids papers, receipts, business papers, bills, magazines, photographs, cards, and the list goes on and on… were starting to drive me insane. So first things first, I got some empty boxes and bins and just started gathering papers from all over the house and putting them in the boxes. When all was said and done, I had 3-4 large containers of paperwork. Really, I almost gave up at that point. The shear enormity of the problem was sitting right in front of me. So, a couple of weeks ago, when the kiddos were going to spend the night with my mother and my husband was out of town working, I decided to cancel my plans of working on crafts and finally tackle the paperwork.

UGH! This was not what I wanted to do on my evening of peace and quiet, but I just kept thinking how much better I would feel that it was all behind me. So, I put in a movie – one that I had seen before and didn’t need to watch too closely, grabbed something to drink, and plopped down in the middle of the living room with one of my boxes.

What was I going to do now? I didn’t have files already labeled; I didn’t even know what to label them if I had them. So, I just started sorting.

First I made 4 stacks – One was “recycle”, one was “shred”, one was “personal”, and the last was “business”. I sorted the whole box into one of these 4 piles. When I was finished, 2/3rds of the paperwork was either in shred or recycle and those stacks were falling over. So, I converted the now empty box into the recycle pile, and went ahead and shredded the shred pile and added the shreds to the recycle. On to box number two, box number 3, and finally box number 4.

It was a quick sort, and not the time to read things carefully, just quickly sorting and moving on to the next piece of paper.

At that point, I was really inspired to keep on going. So, I decided to go ahead and tackle the business stack. Most of the items in this stack were papers that I needed for tax purposes. So, I sorted this stack by 2008 taxes, 2009 taxes, things that I need to do something with immediately, and everything else.

This sort when slower than the initial sort, but still relatively quickly, and I was ready to further sort the stacks.

When I was finished with the sorting I then got out the label maker and put each section into a file folder with a label.

Sorting the non-business stuff was basically the same process. However, I did take the time to write the year on all of the children’s artwork that I decided to keep, and I tried to keep only the things that were either achievements or special pictures. I also made a special stack for addresses that need to be added to our address book, photos, and coupons.

Again, I labeled folders and put things in the folders when I was finished sorting.
By the end of the evening, and it was a very late night, I felt very accomplished. Although, I did have a sense that I had created more work for myself by bringing my attention to a lot of the un-done things that were outstanding. However, I knew that when it came time to do those tasks, like putting addresses in the address book, I would know where everything was!

I know that others could probably handle this much more efficiently than I did, by not handling the same piece of paper 5 or 6 times and just starting out with more stacks. However, for me, it was nice to be able to sit in one place and not have to think about what I had a pile for and when I needed to start a new pile. Also, I knew that I could stop and start pretty easily.

If you don’t have an entire evening to devote to your project like I did, I would recommend that you just create a pile and do the initial sort of getting the stuff you don’t need to keep out first. Hopefully your stacks will shrink like mine did!

Again, if you have tips to share, please do!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cleaning up my Physical House

Of all of the ‘houses’ that I am trying to clean up, I will say that cleaning up the actual house is the easiest. This is not to say that I like to clean, or that I keep an immaculate house, but basically cleaning is pretty easy. Pick things up, put them away, wipe counters, mop floors, vacuum – none of them require a lot of brain power.

However, what do you do when you start with heaping piles of dishes, toys, paperwork, laundry, and a whole host of other doo-dads and what nots? One thing at a time. When you are starting with a mess that seems out of control, just do one thing. Focus on one area or just do one thing. Soon, all of those one things turn into many things and the piles get smaller.

There is one technique that I discovered a few years ago that has literally changed my ability to clean house and I will explain that now.

Does this sound familiar? Decide you are going to clean off the kitchen counter. You notice that you have about 8-10 pens or pencils (No wonder you can never find a pen at your desk!). Take pens and pencils to your desk. Put them away. Notice that there are 3 toy cars and a handful of legos on your desk. Take toy cars and legos to sons room. Decide that his room is a bigger disaster than you last realized. Put away toy cars and legos. Look around and see dirty socks, pajamas, pants, and shirts. Take dirty clothes to laundry. Decide that if you don’t start laundry now you won’t finish until next week sometime. Open washer, eeewwww, you forgot to put clothes in dryer. Start washer again to rewash soured clothes. Take laundry out of dryer. Fold laundry. Take clean dish towels to the kitchen. Wait a minute, now 30 minutes has passed and you have only cleaned 8-10 pencils off of the counter that you were cleaning!!!

This used to be my problem. It would seem like I was cleaning and picking up all day long, but never actually getting anything cleaned up! So, now I don’t clean like that anymore. I now have a designated basket that I take from room to room with me when I am cleaning. So, if I am cleaning up the kitchen, I take the basket into the kitchen with me, and as I am cleaning and I run across something that doesn’t belong in that room. Instead of taking it to the room, I put it in the basket. This way, I don’t get sidetracked and I actually get the space cleaned up!
Once I am finished with that one space, I go to the next space and take the items out of the basket that belong in that space. The basket is stored in a central location and everyone knows that if they can’t find it – Look in the basket! I empty it out completely every week.

I also have a cleaning schedule. I know the spaces in my house that need to be cleaned daily, weekly, and monthly. So I put them all on a calendar and clean them on that day. Everyday I do a general clean up, and more importantly, I require the kids to help. Also, I try to do one load of laundry per day, and wash dishes everyday.

Cleaning time generally takes me about an hour to an hour and a half each day.
I didn’t learn from my parents how to keep a clean house. My mother was a single mom and just gave up on requiring us to keep our rooms clean. However, she did give me a book that truly helped me learn to clean my room. I highly recommend it for children and parents!! I still use the lessons that I learned from this book, and I will soon be giving one to our youngest son to help him.

http://www.amazon.com/Clean-Your-Room-Survival-Kids/dp/094151000X

If you have any cleaning tips, please, post them in your comments! Every bit helps!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cleaning up my spiritual house

I will start this little clean-up series with cleaning up my spiritual house, and because of how I am conducting this little cleaning exercise; I will also end the series with cleaning up my spiritual house.

You see, as I have been going on this journey to clean-up and organize my life, I have discovered that my spiritual self is benefiting greatly from this. At the core of my belief system is the belief that the way that I treat myself and those around me is the most important thing of all, and when the things in my life are an unorganized mess, it means that I am not treating myself or those around me very well.

I would say that the unorganized mess is responsible for 80% of the arguments that I have with my spouse. The unorganized mess causes lots of stress and is a good excuse of why I don’t spend as much ‘quality’ time with my children as I would like. The unorganized mess is why I didn’t get holiday cards out at Christmas time. The unorganized mess is why it takes me two or three times the amount of time working on projects, because I spend so much time trying to find adequate space to work and looking for the tools and materials that I need to finish the projects.

The other thing that I have found in this process is that, when my other houses are cleaned up, I get more time to spend in my spiritual house. This means more time for reading and reflection, more time to enjoy the people around me, and a better feeling about myself in general. My husband has also complimented my efforts, my kids love their spaces that we have created together, and knowing that I have finished lots of those lingering projects gives me a sense of accomplishment.

So, how can you start to clean up your spiritual house?

First, begin my completing one of the small cleaning tasks relevant to one of your other houses. When you are finished, take a moment to praise yourself and enjoy the feeling of having one less thing on that to-do list. Next, tell your spouse or someone close to you what you have just accomplished. By telling someone you are first celebrating your accomplishments, and next creating a sense of accountability to continue your efforts. Finally, don’t quit, spend some time figuring out what needs to be done and rank the things that need to be done in order of importance and size of the task.

If you are following the lead of this series you will also need to decide which of your houses each task fits into. For an example, a large part of my cleaning was my physical house, but once things were put away, it was time to re-visit the overflowing drawers of my desk and stacks of paperwork. Since I work from home, my drawers and stacks of paper work included things that belonged in my business house, financial house, and family house. I didn’t try to conquer all of those things at one time. Instead, I started by sorting the stacks by which house they belonged in, and importance.

Since this post is about cleaning up your spiritual house, you need to add another item to your list. Every time you complete a task, no matter how big or small, celebrate it! Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done, and tell others about your accomplishments. Also, if you too have a spouse that complains about the unorganized mess, ask for praise for your accomplishments from them. When a person receives praise about their accomplishments, it greatly increases the likelihood that they will repeat these same accomplishments. You are no different. Explain this to the other people in your life, and let them know how important it is for them to recognize your efforts. This was extremely difficult for my husband to understand. However, as time has gone on, and he sees that I am continuing to make improvements, the compliments and praise have come easier and easier.

It was never my intention to live in a spotless house, and that is still not a goal of mine. Please do not come to my house and expect to be able to eat off of the floors! My goodness, that is what the plates are for! However, it is my intention to live in a house that isn’t a chaotic mess all of the time. So, as I tell my husband, I am not going for a immaculate – just less complete disaster!

I hope you have been inspired in some way by this post and your comments are always welcomed! I will continue to post about cleaning up the houses in my life!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cleaning up my 'Houses'

No, I don’t have more than one house – just one small house that I share with my husband and 3 boys, but I am referring to my one physical house and then my mental or philosophical houses. One of my new years resolutions was to really get a handle on things that I wasn’t keeping up with as well as I wanted to. These things included house cleaning, paperwork, time management, and a whole host of things. I really didn’t know where to start with most of it, but I did know how to start cleaning up my house, so I started there.

I spent most of the Christmas break cleaning, but then I found that about 2 weeks after the kids went back to school that things were starting to slip. NOT HAPPY! I spent way too much time and energy getting things put away for them to just go right back to chaos. So, I have ventured on a journey to take my house cleaning to another level.

I am writing this on my blog first to inspire me to keep on going, and second because I thought it might help someone else out there!

First things first, assess the situation – HONESTLY! What do I need to clean up, and where do I start.

I have said it in the past, and I will say it again – I am NOT a list maker! So, Instead of making a list of everything that needed cleaning up – which I already know – I decided to change my thinking. I am now thinking of all of the different aspects of my life as my “Houses” – in Sociology I was taught that they are “Roles”, but I have decided to think of them as “Houses” since I will be cleaning them up.

Here are my houses:

Business House – Includes all non-physical aspects of my business – ie all work that requires my brain and not my hands or physical items.
Family House – Includes my extended family – mother, father, siblings, cousins, etc.
Physical House – The place we live in
Financial House – Paperwork, bills, taxes
Friendship House – Includes all of my friends, and my children’s friends
Crafting House – The physical pieces of my business
Spouse House – The hubby and our relationship
Mommy House – The kids and our relationship
Spiritual House – My mental well being, and beliefs (I will not be discussing religion)

Right now I am tackling or have tackled my Business house, Physical House, Financial House, and Crafting House. Those were the places that needed my attention first, and I will let you know how I tackled one of them in my next post.

Perhaps you would like to go on this journey with me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fabulous Finds Friday

Every Friday I feature a Fabulous Find. These are artists and crafters that I have seen their work on Etsy, but i have also had the pleasure to view their work in person, either because I have seen them at a show or I have bought something from them. This week I want to introduce you to April of April's Originals.


Now, April is VERY busy and didn't have time to send me a little write up on herself, but here are a few things that I know about her! She is the mom of a precious little boy who is the same age as my youngest son, 5. She is a homeschooling mother! The patience that she has with her husband, son, and customers is absolutely amazing! And, she makes the most wonderful mommy bags, purses, and other sewn items that I have seen!



I secretly admire her bags from afar, and I am hoping that I get the pleasure of buying one of her fabulous bags very soon. She is so good at picking out fabrics, and she is always happy to help her customers find a fabric that is perfect for them!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

No, I didn't drop off of the face of the Earth - I am just a mom!

Gosh, I haven't blogged in days, but no I didn't fall off of the face of the earth! The kids have been out of school this week for MLK day and for teacher workdays. But, the big news is that we got 3-4 inches of snow!!! Probably not a big deal for lots of people, but since we live in central North Carolina, snow falls are few and far between. We just don't have the equipment available to keep the streets cleared, so most people just have to rely on mother nature to get rid of it. The kids are out of school again today!! I am sure they will have a productive learning week only going one day this week (I am just praying they will go to school tomorrow!). The good news is that I didn't have to do any grocery shopping!!! I had stocked up so much that I really didn't need anything from the store! So, no grocery game to blog about this week, and unfortunately, no new products have gotten made.

However, we have had a lot of fun playing in the snow, looking for animal tracks in the snow, sledding, and eating snow cream!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sssslllloooowww Start

It's Monday - and I am having a really slow start today! Maybe it is because the kids are home from school for MLK day, or maybe it is because I cleaned endlessly over the weekend. Or maybe it is because nothing seems to be working right!

So, what to do when you are having a hard time getting started? Well, here are a few things that I do!

1st - Take a break and brain storm. If you have read earlier posts you know that I am not a really good list maker, but if I am having a hard time getting my day started I find that a little list can really get me motivated. I like to include a bunch of little things on this list - things that I can get done in 5 minutes or less. Being able to mark some things off the list helps motivate me.

2nd - Laugh a little - or a lot! I usually do this by playing a silly game with the kids. This morning we had a very involved game involving nerf guns and hiding around corners. Anytime I play with the kids I get a pretty good laugh and it really helps give me perspective to what things are really important in life.

3rd - Call a friend. So, I didn't do this one today, but when the kids are off at school I will usually call a friend and just have a good 30min chat.

4th - Go for a walk. Usually mine is a walk around our property and making a mental list of what I would like todo in the flower beds, and garden.

5th - Clean up my workspace. Most of the time I have a hard time getting motivated because I have a stack of paper staring me in the face. Just going through the stack and getting it off of my desk helps get me going.

I hope you all have a great day!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fabulous Finds Friday

It's Friday again! Time to bring you another great artist who sells on Etsy, but I have also seen this person's work in person either because I have seen them at a craft show or because I have purchased something from them.


Kelly of Gone Doggie is a friend of mine, a great artist, and an animal activist. Kelly makes cool dog collars, leashes, plushy doggies, and fabulous reversible tote bags. I asked her to tell us a bit about Gone Doggie and herself.

Gone Doggie was developed by me, Kelly, because of my love and passion for dogs.
Having three dogs of my own it was very expensive to go out and buy fun collars for all of them not to mention it wasn't always easy finding fun collars. So I set out to figure out how to make a fun, strong, quality dog collar.


Once I figured it out and my dogs began wearing their collars people where asking me where they got their collars, when I told them I made them they would then ask if they could order one for their dogs, that is how my little business began. The name was help from my husband who was always making comments about how I have "gone doggie" and my name was born.

I am actively involved in animal rescue and pet education. One of my three dogs is a certified therapy dog. He is a reading buddy. We go into schools and children will come and read books to him. I have a second dog in the training program right now who will hopefully become certified in March.

I also have a second business which is pet sitting. I am a local pet sitter and have been pet sitting for going on 4 years now.

When creating new items I am not just thinking of the dog, I am also thinking of the dog lover. My newest item my reversible tote bag was developed when I was in search of a new tote to carry all the things I need to bring with me when doing my pet sitting. I decided to sit down and try to make something on my own. I came up with a size that worked perfectly for me and it has just enough pockets inside. Well, because I didn't put any closure on it my husband pointed out that the bag could be reversed so I changed the handles so that it is now a reversible bag. Most of the totes I have done have been in a dog theme but, I have since added some cat prints and a few various prints that I thought were fun.

My newest venture is embroidery. I am going to be offering name embroidery on my collars and will soon be doing some of my own design. So lots of fun stuff yet to come.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

CPSIA - Will it keep us safer?

So, if you go anywhere near the Etsy forum you have probably heard about the CPSIA. If you don't you should know that CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) is meant to keep products being sold in the USA safer. It was passed into law in direct response to all of the lead tainted toy recalls in 2007.

So, as a parent, my first reaction is, good - Congress is doing something about the problem. However, as I read more and more and think about this, really I don't think we will be any safer. Why, you ask? First of all we already had laws in place that banned lead paint in the US, but there were still millions of toys recalled for lead paint. Companies who broke the law voluntarily recalled the said items, but if they hadn't recalled them, they would have faced fines. So, why didn't the old laws stop this from happening?

The problem with the old law was that the penalties for breaking the law were not harsh. If a company put a toxic toy on the market they basically faced bad press and a slap on the wrist. Probably no consolation to the parents who had very sick children because of lead tainted toys. If the law had real consequences in the first place - you can bet your bottom dollar that the QC (quality control) departments of these huge toy companies could have prevented this mess in the first place.

So, you still may be thinking - Well, good, they fixed the law. Partly, yes and partly no. Instead of fixing the old law and placing harsher penalties on the companies that break the law, the new law will be placing penalties on consumers. The new law requires that all items for children under the age of 12 require 3rd party testing of items and lowers the acceptable amount of lead in any product for children 12 and under. The costs for this testing are approximately $300 - $1200+ per lot made. The testing required is not a simple lead testing kit you can buy at a hardware store, it is a comprehensive test that requires items to be destroyed to test all components of a product except for the components that are inaccessible to children. A new lot is created ever time any material or process is changed in the manufacturing process. Therefore a red bike with a 20in frame would be one lot, a red bike with a 24in frame would be another lot, a blue bike with a 20in frame would be another lot, a blue bike with a 24in frame would be another lot, etc... Also, lots are changed when manufacturing stops, and starts again. Therefore if a company was making red 20in frame bikes and ran out of red paint the lot would end when the paint ran out, and when the paint was refilled a new lot would start.

So, for each lot created you sacrifice one item for testing, and add to your costs the cost of testing the item.

This cost is easily spread out when manufacturers make thousands of items in one run. Say you make 15,000 widgets in one lot - if your cost of testing is $1200 for one widget - your are only adding 8 cents to each widget. For a medium manufacturer who only produces 1000 items per lot, you are adding $1.20 to the cost. For a small manufacturer who only produces 50 items per lot you are adding $24 to the cost, and for a micro manufacturer who only produces 2 items per lot you are adding $600 to the cost.

If you suppose that that this item retails for $50 you can see that large and medium manufacturers could easily pass this cost onto a consumer with very little notice, but the small and micro manufacturers would most likely be pushed out of the market.

But, ensuring that there is no lead in products is a good thing!

I am certainly not saying that we need to allow lead in toys in order to let small and micro manufactures flourish. However, the a small and micro manufacturer would be devastated under the current laws if their toys were to contain lead. A civil lawsuit from a sick family, the mental anguish, and the bad press would be enough to devastate them. However, the large manufacturers have insurance policies and PR departments to protect them. So, when it comes to lead tainted toy recalls the majority of items that have been recalled are from large manufacturers who really don't feel the effects of the problem, and did not take precautions to ensure that their toys did not contain lead.

This new law may ensure that we have less problems with lead poisoning, but it will also ensure that we have fewer products to choose from when shopping for our children.

Also, please know that most cases of lead poisoning are in adults who work in environments where they are exposed to lead, and most cases of lead poisoning in children are due to lead paint that still exists in the environment where they live. Neither of these scenarios are addressed in the new law.

About 25% of my business comes from items made for children - On February 10th I will loose that 25%. My business will survive, and I will just change directions. However, all of the cute handmade clothing, toys, and accessories that is made for children will disappear. Most of these items do not currently pose any lead poisoning hazard for children.

You can be confident that you will still be able to buy a toy from a company that recalled thousands and thousands of toys due to lead paint violations. But a single mother who sews clothing for little girls will join the line to collect food stamps and ask for additional government assistance.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Grocery Game Week 2

I didn't make it to the grocery store on Monday or Tuesday morning. So, unfortunately I had to go yesterday afternoon after the kids were home from school. Not Pleasant!

So, we didn't need as much stuff this week as last week since we got so much great stuff during the first week of Grocery Game, but we did buy a couple things that were not on the Grocery Game list.

Here are the results: Total Bill: 105.45 - Coupons/Discounts - 35.88 - Total After savings: 69.57

So we saved 34% this week! Not as good as last week, but 34% is not too shabby!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Make Over!!!

Well, I am not getting a make over - although I probably need one! Stacey and Clinton would be horrified!

But, the siding is finally going up on my workshop (here is a picture with no siding), and I am giving my shop and website a makeover. Kinda strange since I just bought new banners for my Etsy shops not too long ago, but I am going for a more modern look than what I have.

My new ad button is on the right, and my new banner will have the same feel when it is done. I am also getting new buttons and things for my website and giving it a total makeover. My website is long overdue for one as it has been the same for 4 years!

I will link to it when all of my changes are complete! Yeah! So exciting!

Tomorrow Never Comes!

So, last night I was making a list of all of the things that I needed to do today. It was starting to get really long and I finally succumbed to the fact that I was never going to get that much stuff done in one day. So, I thought, "Hey, this is a great time to plan out my week!" So, I moved some of the not as urgent stuff to Wednesday. Then I realized that I have a meeting tonight, so I moved some more stuff to Wednesday. Then I realized that some of those items really needed to get done on Tuesday so I moved different items to Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday were still pretty empty, so I decided that I could move some things to those days. Only to again realize that there were yet more things that needed to be done on Tuesday - that HAD to get done. Also, I remembered that I had a Dr. appointment on Friday, and that I completely forgot about the kids activities. Oh, and don't get me started on scheduling some time for me to do shopping, clean up, cooking, working on my website, completing craft show applications...

I think I felt better when there was no list - I feel even more overwhelmed now! Sheesh!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fell off the Wagon!



I was doing so good keeping the house cleaned up! But, alas, I have fallen off the wagon. I have gotten so sidetracked with a couple orders, the new option of Google Analytics on our Etsy shops, and several great new blogs that I have found that I completely neglected housework the last couple days. I did manage to get laundry done and the dishes, but I am not as on top of them as I would like. It is so easy to find something else fun to do or at least more important than dishes right?!!!

I don't feel too bad about it though! I did take some time out this afternoon to play a very important game with my 5-year old, Nick! Funny how they change isn't it! He used to hate posing for the camera, but now he just loves it! It still amazes me that he has the patience to play something like Jenga though. He has always been very careful and meticulous.

Okay, off to get back on the wagon! UGH - the whole 21 day thing to form a new habit starts again!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Scatterbrained!

I am so scatterbrained today! I have so many ideas swirling in my head, things I want to make, places to advertise, and the fact that I hate my ad that I currently use. This is all in conjunction with the fact that I need to work on my grocery game list, cleaning the house, laundry, cooking dinner, and other projects around the house. I guess I should make a list, but I am really not a good list maker/follower.

Can someone please make a device to suck all of the thoughts out of your head and put them in a planner and make you do them! That would be just great!

Okay, so coming this week on the blog! Pictures of some custom boards I have been working on! Grocery Game week 2! And other Ramblings from me!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fabulous Finds Friday!

So, I decided to post some fabulous finds every Friday. I am going to start the first ones with pieces that are on Etsy, but pieces that I have also had the pleasure of seeing in person. Some of them I will have purchased, and some of them are from people that I have seen at craft shows.

My first fabulous find is Ruth of AlloverArt. I first 'met' Ruth because she started buying my wooden shapes, and then she contacted me to tell me that we were going to be at the same show in Holly Springs, NC.

Her pendants and artwork are just amazing!



Ruth, tell us a little about Allover Art:

I started painting when I took a general visual arts class in high school. The class covered a wide variety of mediums, but I fell in love with painting, specifically oil painting. After high school I studied Art History in college and painted as a hobby. I never took any other actual art classes. My senior year in college I had in internship at "The Art Newspaper" in NYC. After college, in 2005 began work at a gemstone company, where I spent the majority of my day behind a desk. I still painted on occasion in my spare time. In November of 2007 a co-worker saw a painting of mine that I had given to my sister and asked if I would paint a portrait of his cat and dog for him to give to his wife for Christmas. After I completed that painting the entrepreneur/artist bug bit me hard and I started researching how I could run my own art business. In February of 2008 I quite my desk job and created Allover Art! I paint because I love it! I love to create something unique that brings joy to other people.

Tell us a bit about you!

I'm a former NC high school state swimming champion and record holder in the 50 and 100 freestyle. My senior year I was the state MVP. I'm pretty sure the records have since been broken, but it was nice while I held them. :) I went to Rutgers University in NJ on a swimming scholarship. From age 5 to 21 my life was pretty much dedicated to swimming.