Maryland Sheep and Wool 2016

Knitters, High Holy Day of Wool, has once again come and gone.  This year, Knitty D, Momma Bach and I piled in the Beagle Mobile, and headed down to a soggy Howard County Fairgrounds for the 2016 Maryland Sheep and Wool.  Once again, we headed straight for the Miss Babs booth, with our wishlists and our credit cards:

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Holy moley – here’s the line at Miss Babs.  Actually, it wasn’t nearly as bad as last year’s, but it was pretty drizzily.  We tag teamed shopped and waiting in line, and of course, we came out triumphant, with our gradient kits, and my Yowza:

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The light green skeins, Beachscape, I have in my arms are not actually the Yowza I went home with.  It was so crowded, I spent maybe five minutes in the booth.  I grabbed the gradient kit for the Spice Market Shawl, and then I went around the back of the booth to the wall o’ Yowza.  I grabbed the first two “identical” skeins I could find that were to my taste, and got in line.  Later, after we had paid, this fantastic peacock colored skein caught my eye, and I started to feel bad about my Beachscape.  Towards the end of the day, when the booth wasn’t so crowded, I went back and asked the nice ladies of Miss Babs flock if I could exchange the skeins, and they said no problem!  Yeah!  So, this is what I went home with:

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How much more spectacular is that blue!  And can you believe it – that’s my sheep and wool haul – Miss Babs and Socks that Rock.  I stuck to my list, and was such a good girl!

So, the weather was kind of meh all day, but we had a good time.  We visited with the sheep, alpacas and the goats.

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How much does this sheep, Adelaide, love me?!?

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The sun came out, and so did the ice cream!  And, after the festival, it was off to Woody’s Crab Shack for the most awesome seafood nachos, and of course, hard shells.  Originally, I only ordered 3, but Knitty D was like, 6, you so need six.  So half a dozen it was – and I clobbered them all.  Love me some Maryland Hardshells!

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Good times, my wooly friends, good times!

Until next year, baaaaahhhhhHH!

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Random Rambling Friday Wrap-Up

Is the month over?  It’s over – at least the work week, in oh, 3 1/2 hours.  Counting, definitely counting.  I was appointed to this case, and my, I am busy!

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had time for this and that’s, right!

So, in no particular order

  • Passover fun was had by all!

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Ssshh!!!! I’ve already broken Passover . . . I just couldn’t take the matzah bloat anymore. I remember Moses, the desert, the boils and the locusts, I’m good. I got it, for six nights. Fini.

  • I may have made my last flipbook.  I think I’m over it.  I’m not sure.

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So, as I mentioned, I was spacing out my swaps, not over committing, so it wasn’t flipbook overload.  I think I’m just over it.  I don’t know.  I’m over the washi tape, that’s for sure.  Whoever called it tape didn’t really know what tapes’ function is.  I found myself adding layers and layers of washi to get the washi below it to stick.  The pages were actually pretty securely put together with hinges, and glue, but then I decorated with washi – and the decorative washi wouldn’t stick.  Oy!  In any event, this was a flip I made for a Paris swap through Facebook.  I bought the printable graphics on Etsy, and with them, I made journal cards, shaker gatefold flaps (with the fuse tool) (you can see them clipped together in the above photo – when you take the paperclip off, underneath is a pocket with goodies), and a snow globe!   Crazy!  I finally used my holiday card, snow globe die –

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I bought this die two years ago from Papertrey Ink, thinking I was going to make my own holiday cards, with Lemon and Olive in the snow globe.  That didn’t happen.  I don’t know why I thought Paris and snow globe, but it clicked, and I think it turned out cute.  I was in such a creating frenzy, though, I didn’t think to photograph the process until I was all done.  So, basically what you do is use the outline die to create a base.  Then, you cut the top of the shaker out of decorative paper, and sticky foam.  You then layer the base, your sprinkles, the foam, a clear circle vellum/plastic window, and then the top – voila! A shaker globe.  For whatever reason, my sprinkle stuff got caught in my sticky foam, so it doesn’t really really shake, what can you do.  Be more careful I guess.  But, I wasn’t about to rip it open and make another.  And for sprinkles – see that circle die?  It makes snowflakes, and confetti  – pretty cool!

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Now that I’m thinking about it, and rambling along, I think that my “over it” feeling about flipbooks is that I’d rather make them for someone who I’m regularly corresponding with then a one-time swap with a passing stranger. I feel like this is something I’d want to make for a penpal after we’ve exchanged a few letters, and I was making something for someone I kind of ‘knew.”  Too bad I unceremoniously abandoned all of my penpals after my father died, and my Wendori was lost forever.

I did make one more, that I didn’t photograph, for a swap on swap-bot, and I enjoyed it more because it was an offshoot from another swap wherein the person had asked me to write back, and I felt like the “project” was more of an elaborate envelope than this humungous thing:

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All said and done, between the cover, and the flaps, I decorated 10 pages, filled a bunch of pockets, and spent many nights after work assembling, fusing, die cutting and tweaking.  The ‘elaborate envelope” was like this, made from one sheet of 12 x 12 paper, with flaps made from simple, creative cutting.  This little, hour long project, was fun, and relaxing, and I can see more of these in the future.  The ten page, humungous flipmonster – not so much.

  • I investigated, and bought a new planner.  In my last post of last year, I mentioned that I had my MIL buy me a faux Midori Traveler’s notebook online from an Etsy seller, Dokkipaper, for Hanukkah. planner1I remain supremely happy with my present, the leather just keeps getting softer, and a bit more scuffed with loved.   But the calendar insert that I printed for myself is set to run out in June, and I have to decide where my planning is going next.  So, I fell down the crazy, deep internet whirlhole of planner communities.  At first, I was seduced by the Happy Planner, and joined a half dozen Happy Planner Facebook groups, without actually buying said planner.  After a few weeks of watching everyone sticker up their months, days and weeks, I decided that wasn’t for me.  I also became less transfixed with the Arc system of rings – it seemed hard to flip the paper, and heavy, really heavy.  So, I unjoined all of those groups, and joined Christy Tomlinson’s Planner Society FB group, because while almost everyone is subscribed to her Planner Kit Club, everyone is in a different planner.  I then became enamored with the Kikki K’s, the big ones, the A5 size.  Hmm, do I really want that big thing, I thought, and if I do, do I really want it for planning?  I mean, that’s a big thing to whip out in court and check a date.  So, I did some soul searching, and realized, yeah, I am supremely happy with my TN, why would I change?  I must be yearning for something else.  And, that something else, I concluded was more of a memory keeping journal, to help me along with my Project Life, and to be more of a daily journal/diary.  In my original post about my TN, I mentioned that one of my inserts was a “Morning Pages” booklet.  Er, that didn’t last long.  And, since I had pasted a copy of the sentencing guidelines (because everyone has that in their planner!) in the back of my calendar, I had started leaving it out on courtroom tables, and I became concerned that I might lose it a la the Wendori, and then my morning thoughts would be out there for everyone – what thoughts they were, I wasn’t exactly a daily journaler.  So, the solution, it seems is to have a planner, my TN with a new calendar insert, and a big thing I can keep at home, beside my t.v. chair, to update daily.

So, I wistfully looked at everyone’s pretty Kikki K’s, and could not bring myself to spend that much money ($90+ shipping) on a planner, even a pretty planner.  So, deciding to plan within my means, I begin investigating the Webster’s Pages Color Crush Planners, which right now are on super sale on Blitsy (with the Mother’s Day coupon code).  They’re similar to the Kikki K’s, but faux leather, and not quite a true A5 size.  But, there was just something about them that I didn’t like.  Well not just something, the guts of it – the inserts.  First, the calendars are dated, so I’d have already lost nearly half the year.  And second, it has a snap closure.  I want to punch holes into things and stick it in my memory planner, and I don’t want to be constrained by a snap.  So, while I had an A5 Color Crush planner in my basket on the Blitsy site, and post coupon, it was only $42.95 with shipping, I couldn’t hit the commit button.  Instead, I got sucked into the youtube planner channels, and after not careful, but “I want that” consideration, I decided to go with the Heidi Swapp Memory Planner.

There it was – right in it’s name – the memory planner.  Exactly what I was looking for.  A kind of planner, a kind of abbreviated scrapbook, a kind of journal.  That’s the right planner, I thought.  So, that’s the “I want it” part – the careful part – well, I threw careful to the wind.  The online reviews of the planner aren’t so good – that the holes all have to be repunched because they were punched too small, that the binder feels cheap, etc.  But, you get what you pay for, and after my 40% off coupon at Michael’s, and a free shipping code that Michael’s gave me after I left the planner sitting in the cart overnight (so smart of them! push me over the edge into purchasing with a shipping code!), it was only $20.  So, I reasoned, if the binder is crap (and all of the warning signs are there that it just might be), I can always put the inserts, which, along with the photo sleeve inserts are the reason I was buying the thing anyway, into another binder, like this one from Dokkipaper, a kind of faux Kikki K, faux Dokibook, which is also snapless.  ah, but you may say, how will you do that because Heidi Swapp’s isn’t really A5, and it has only 4 holes.  Solved that one – I’ve already seen someone on the Planner Society FB group punch the extra two holes, and put it in a traditional A5 planner, so I think I’ll be good.  So, for now, I’ll try out the cheap binder, and see how it goes – and I’ll let you know.

All of that rambling has left my exhausted, like poor little Olive after playing with her ball outside all day, and then scarfing down her dinner.

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Definitely a hard life for the little Boston!

Have a great weekend!

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Flip Book Frenzy

As I mentioned in my last post, just like I became intrigued with pocket letters a few years ago, I’ve now become curious (er, youtube obsessed) about FlipBooks.  With pocket letters, I totally over extended myself, made a bazillion in a weekend, and then never wanted to make another one again.  So, this time, instead of committing to a dozen swaps in a day, I’ve invoked the 2 swap rule.  I can only sign up for 2 swaps at a time, and I can’t sign up for another until at least one is out the door.  Oh, and I actually have to make one to see if I actually like making them, or if I just like watching youtube videos of other people making them.

So, I made one.  Here’s my first flippy –

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Looks simple, right?  Of course, I have to make everything harder by not using the right tools.  I can’t even tell you how many times I tried to apply runner tape to get my frame to stick before I actually broke down and got out the glue.  I always make such a mess with glue -but it had to be done.  Once the frame was in place, it was all good.  Flip!

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As you can see, I made a pocket on the inside cover by chopping a photo overlay in half, and washi taping it to the edges.

Ah washi – you are pretty – but you are good for next to nothing functional.  In the description of the swap, it linked to a particular youtuber’s tutorials, and since her method of constructing a flip book seemed to be the least work intensive, I went with it, even though on the face of it I had reservations.  First,  you simply cut a 6 x 12 piece of cardstock, score it at four inches, and at 8 inches, and voila, three pages.  To secure the folds, that might crack, or simply be floppy, she reinforced the paper with washi tape.  So, so did I.  But that darn not sticky washi!  As soon as I recreased the fold, the washi turned up on the sides.  Finally, after smoothing it down for the 15th time, I ended up using decorative, sticky Scotch tape on top of the washi, and it was all good.  The other problem, beyond the not so sturdy washi, was that the folds don’t allow for increased bulk – you need gussets.  So, I ended up refolding one end of the booklet, and created one gusset on the lefthand side, kind of like a Hebrew book.  But, it was all an experiment, right – next time, I think I’m going to do a hinge system a la Katha Orta King, but I’ll get to that brilliant idea in a minute.

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So, the Life is always Better card is removable, and underneath is a pocket I made with a butterfly magnet, and some tickets.

Here is the whole thing open:

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The flippy uppy card is a Project Life frame from I think Heidi Swapp, and the little envelope that I made with the We R Memory Keepers punch board is filled with washi tape samples.  The inside cover of the left flap has a pocket for a mail tag, and a small clear pocket that has some kind of Studio Calico transparent embellishments that I would never use, not that I’m destashing my crap or anything, I just wasn’t sad to part with them.

On the back, I clipped a notecard and a crochet pattern, since my partner’s profile was all about crochet.  And that’s it.  So aside from adhesive problems, and gusset issues, it turned out pretty good, I think, and of course, lead me to more youtube videos, because it can be so much better.  More flips! More cards! More pockets!

And of course, Paper Phenomenon, Kathy Orta, came to mind.  Kathy is all about interative homes for your photos – and I’m reluctant to call them scrapbooks, because most of the time, they’re not books – they’re boxes, and purses, and houses, and cameras, and so many crazy paper things.  All of her books have flips, and pockets, and photo mats, and tags, and are really flipbooks on the grandest level.  I made one of Kathy’s interactive paperbag minibooks a few years back.  At that time, she still had tutorials and complete projects on youtube, and while she had  her kit club, she didn’t quite have the papercrafting industry that she does now.  Now, she has a monthly physical Kit Club which includes product for two full projects, along with the classroom for the projects, the digital kit club, each purchase being three previous Kit Clubs without the physical products, a yearly subscription classroom site, which doesn’t include written tutorials or the Kit Club projects (you have to buy those separately) but has all of the videos of her non Kit Club projects, and then she has PDF tutorials, that can be purchased with or without the accompanying video class.  Lots to choose from – and if you are into making scrapbook purses, cabinets, giant albums, etc, everything is well worth the price.  However, I, on the other hand, only wanted her Foto Folios, which are like matted flipbooks – so I went for the tutorial/video combo, although I could have gotten the yearly archive/classroom membership, which doesn’t have the PDF (written cutting instructions with measurements) because it would have only been $10 more and I’m probably not going to use her measurements anyway, because I want to go smaller, and not as complicated.  So, I felt that the one tutorial might have been a little pricey – but on the other hand, there are six versions of the folio, and each folio has it’s on videos, so I shouldn’t be complaining.  I’m not complaining – really, maybe I’m just thinking I should have spent the $10 extra bucks.  In any event, my next flip will have Kathy’s hinge system, which will allow for the gusset, and will have kinds of Kathy inspired flips and pockets.

So, that’s it – bring on the weekend! More papercrafting to come!

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Random Thoughts

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Good morning! It’s rainy, dreary and all around blech here in Philly – what a great day to go back to work after a long weekend. It’s too much of a meh day to make connected, coherent paragraphs, so here are my random, jumbled shares for this bleakish a.m.:

  • PenPals and Swapping.  When we moved to the suburbs, I felt incredibly disconnected – from my normal routines, from my friends, and I also lost a bit of my independence.  I don’t drive, I’m a terrible driver, but in the city, not only is there no need for a car, a car is a pain in the ass because there’s just no parking.  In the ‘burbs, it’s all about the car.  So, in attempt to reach out to the far off world, because that’s how I felt, a bit, trapped in my large suburban house, I started penpaling and swapping.  For the most part, I was swapping through Swap-bot and through a couple of ATC swap groups.  The ATC swap groups became all about the drama, so see ya.  I got bored of Swap-bot, and then there was Facebook – and the Pocket Letter craze.  I made a half a dozen pocket letters, never wanted to make another one, and I was off the swapping.  Penpaling was a bit more complicated.  I had joined the League of Extraordinary PenPals, and I was writing to ten or so people.  I was keeping up, doing just fine, for probably a year, and then my father died.  Strangely, I didn’t really have trouble writing letter after letter telling the whole saga again and again, but after I wrote them all – that was it.  I couldn’t write another letter.  And, it didn’t help that I had lost my Wendori (my faux Traveler’s Notebook that I had made myself, and had my pen pal log as well as all of my addresses and stamps).  And I just stopped.  I figured if I ever got a letter saying, hey, what happened to you?  I’d figure out the next step then – but I never did.  I was writing to people who also had too many pen pals, and I guess I wasn’t missed.  And, then I dropped out of the League altogether, because not only was I not an extraordinary penpal, but at that point, I couldn’t stand looking at the Facebook page – here, I was navigating the No Dad waters, and people were posting stuff like, “can you help me through this difficult time, I lost my favorite pen” or “send good thoughts my way, my third cousin twice removed is having surgery tomorrow.”  I just didn’t really have any patience, or generosity towards anyone who suffered merely from this thing called life.  Anyway, with the return of Project Life, and the hauling out of all of my papercrafting supplies, the swapping bug has bit again – this time with something called a Flip Book.  So, while I’m not wholeheartedly committing to penpaling again, I am dipping my teeny toe into the Swap-bot waters.  I’ve signed up for two swaps, and I’m not signing up for any more until they’re out in the mail.  I’ve joined a few swapping Facebook groups, but I’m not signing up for anything until those two swaps are out the door.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

  • Beautiful.  For my Valentine’s Day present, Joe got us tickets to see Beautiful, the show based on Carole King’s early career.  Strangely, after seeing the show, which was toe tapping and superfun (although – huge note to lady sitting behind me – no one came here to listen to you sing.  You leave the show singing, you don’t sit in the show singing), I was not intrigued by Carole King, but rather with her cad of a husband, Gerry Goffin.  I knew that King’s writing partner was her husband, but before the show I never really thought about who wrote what, and it never occurred to me that she didn’t write any of the lyrics, but was solely a composer, at least in those early years of collaboration.  So, I started to think about how could a guy write all of those lyrics, written primarily in a woman’s voice, like Natural Woman and Will You Still Love Me.  And then I started to think, are they really in a woman’s voice, or are they more of a unisex voice, filled with all of the humanity, introspection and insecurities that I normally, but wrongly always attribute solely women.  Or, was Goffin just an excellent fiction writer, capable of writing these tiny one act plays from a woman’s perspective, because he knew the song would be going to the Shirelles or Aretha Franklin, or their babysitter, Little Eva? In any event, it was a great show, and if it comes to a town near you, see it!

 

  • Project Life.  This past weekend was my niece’s bat mitzvah.   When it came time to fill my pockets,  I only had a handful of photos.  How strange!  I’m so used to being the photographer at life events, it’s weird to be at the mercy of someone else providing photos, as I now have to wait for my niece’s photographer to finish up with his proofs, and for my sister-in-law to post the good ones on Facebook.  I feel really awkward and conspicuous at functions with my DSLR, which leads me to question what the future is for my DSLR.  We have a tripped planned to England in June, and I know I’m going to take it, but I’m secretly dreaming of a super expensive, lightweight mirrorless Fuji or Sony or Olympus.  Ah, one can dream.  In any event, while waiting, I did have a few photos on my iphone, and there were some photos already on Facebook, so I made an insert with Ali Edward’s 6 x1 12 Layered Templates, and my nieces’ speech and my brother’s toast.  You want to see it?  So do I – but my mother liked it so much she took it, and now I’m waiting for another copy to arrive from Persnickety prints.  So, I’ll show you when it gets here!

 

  • Batman v. Superman.  Of course we had to see this opening weekend.  So Ben Affleck was a totally lame Batman.  Rather than being dark and mysterious, he was just glum and constipated.  And, the ending of this movie was just downright bleak, and a soul suck.  This movie was below zero fun.  At least the commemorative popcorn bucket is pretty cool, but that’s about it.

 

  • Happy Planners.  I want one.  I don’t need one.  What else is new?  I can’t even tell you why I want one.  I’m happy with my Traveler’s Notebook setup, and I don’t want to carry around anything bigger.  I don’t like the vertical layout of the Happy Planner, I like the horizontal layout of an Erin Condren.  But, I like the ARC system dics!  I like the idea of being able to remove pages, and adding pages.  I have seen people “Arc” their Erin Condren planners – uncoiling the binding, cutting off the leftover fringe, and repunching with an Arc punch.  But, that seems like a big risk for a lot of money – these planners are pricey!  I don’t even want to decorate it – I don’t get all of those planner layouts.  I don’t really get planning to plan.  But, I feel like I want something bigger to not plan my week, but to record my daily events to help me out with Project Life.  I guess I want to use it like a diary, with minimalistic entries, to jot my stories down as a placeholder for the eventual Project Life pocket.   I do carry around a notebook with morning pages in my Traveler’s Notebook, but when I do remember to write morning pages, I don’t write daily memories, I write things like this blog post – random thoughts.   There’s a Michael’s coupon today for 40% off one item, and there’s a free shipping offer for four hours, between 4-8 today, so today might be the day.  Or not – because I haven’t totally justified it yet.

 

  • State prisons.  Tomorrow, I have to see a client at SCI Graterford, and I started to mull over what my favorite state prison is, and then I stopped myself.  I really shouldn’t have a favorite state prison.  But, if I did – it wouldn’t be Graterford, uch.

And those are my random Monday morning think abouts!  Hope you have more interesting things going on!

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Happy Pi Day

And, that’s enough math for today.  Or any day, for that matter.  At least on this blog.  I know somewhere in the world it’s changing the future, but not here.  Now pie is a different story, but not today’s story.  We’re on diets in this neck of the woods.  Forget that almost all of the below photos involve eating, that’s diet wine there!

Right.

Anyway, I’m just moving right along through 2016.  2015 you say?

I say, look at these completed layouts!

Both of these layouts are 80% Currently Core Kit, 10% Ali Edwards kit for her Project Life Class, and 10% miscellaney – stuff leftover from Studio Calico kits, stickers, labels I cut with my teeny tiny die cutting machine.

And, speaking of Studio Calico, they’re having a huge sale on old kits today – $10 instead of the normal subscription fee (around $26/mo).   Get thee to Studio Calico and spend a multiple of $3.14 – there were go – some math!

With the PL’ing out of the way for the weekend, I was  left to ponder what to do next.  As I mentioned in the last post, I seem to be off the knit.  I was writing an email to my friend Mindy (shout out!), and I remembered, like a bell went off, that I had actually watched the entirety of Danita’s Art Doll class, and after all the anticipation of taking it, and the excitement of snatching it on sale, I went off the dolls, and never made one.  That had to be corrected.  So, I got the doll making supplies out, and got to sewing.

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And then stuffing.  I had a heck of a time with the neck.

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My that little head took a lot of stuffing!

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As you can see, I’m making two – so that when I mess up the first one, I’ll have the second one ready to go.  And, honestly – I’m good with that.  I’ve long ago gotten over the idea, at least with art, that I’m going to immediately get it right the first time.  It all takes practice.  I’ve always been a quick study, and I used to have a nearly photographic memory, so school, and tests, and my job – I’m not going to say I didn’t have to work at things, but I think I started out with less of a learning curve, and I had a shorter road to travel to get to a place of satisfaction.  Art is really hard for me, and I’ve gotten to a place where I’ve accepted that – that I have to draw, erase, draw again, paint over, throw out, start over, whatever it takes.  There’s no rush.  I have no customers, no critics, no deadlines.  What’s the rush?  To post a photo on the blog?   And, at the end of the process, when I call something done, it doesn’t mean that it’s good, it just means that I’m good with it, and that’s all that matters.

So, that’s about as far as I got when Joe came home from his Sunday all day overtime shift, so it was time to have dinner, and watch some t.v.

What to do, what to do, can’t just sit and watch t.v! And, I’m off the knit . . . well, the doll thing worked out, how about some crochet?

Yes, it’s time to revisit ol’ languishing Sophie:

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Olive apparently approves, and has staked her claim!

So, hopefully tonight, I’ll finish stuffing the dolls, and perhaps get to gessoing.  And, if I don’t get to the gesso, tomorrow is another day!

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And the Yarn Goes On

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December through the end of February I knit like a mad woman, faster than the wind. I don’t know if its because I ran out of gas, or because it’s a crazy 70 degrees, or maybe I really want to be crocheting or perhaps needling around with some embroidery, but I’m definitely in a meh knit period. I pick up my current knitting, and say, meh.

Here it is – I feel like it’s sapping my energy just posting a photo of it –

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It’s a cabled, short sleeved hoody in bulky Valley Yarns – its soft, it’s easy, and I don’t know why I’m so ambivalent.  I have the back, one front, and half another front done, and then there’s just the button band, and the hood.  I know that if I were conscientious about knitting it, it would be done.  But instead of knitting in front of the t.v., I find myself dropping my knitting in my lap, and scrolling through pinterest, or Ravelry or my Feedly feed.  Maybe it’s because I had yarn in my stash, and I found a project that worked with it, rather than finding a project I loved, and then buying yarn to suit the project.  In any event, let’s take a look at one pleasing, one not so pleasing finished objects:

First the pleasing finished shawl.  This is Ashby in Berroco Vintage.  I bought this yarn when I was sort of broke, and I really wanted new yarn, but I really didn’t want to spend any money.  Berroco Vintage is a great compromise – it’s 50/50 wool/acrylic blend, and it’s really inexpensive – $9/220 yards, something like that.  And, while it doesn’t feel like the pure wool Shelter, it does feel nice – it’s soft, the fabric is squishy, and the color really pops.

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Funny I should mention Shelter – the sweater I’m wearing in the below photo that you can’t really see is Shelter.

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As you can see the cable reads well, the modified seed stitch looks good – a really nice bargain yarn.
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And, now the just ok pleasing finish – this is Marsa Alam by Isabelle Kraemer in Briggs & Little. If you want cheap – Briggs & Little is a Canadian Company, the yarn is pure wool, it’s totally itchy scratchy, and I think I bought it for $4/200+ yards/skein at Maryland Sheep & Wool last year. After finishing up Wickerham in Miss Babs, and then this – I think I’m over the yarny yarns, the itchy scratchy’s, for a little while. I love being a purist, but there’s nothing wrong with soft merino. Anyway, this ended up being not the most flattering fit, and I fudged a bit too much knitting the shoulders, and they ended up coming to a point as if they had had hangers shoved in them. I tried to round it out in the blocking process, but it’s only so so.

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Horizontal stripes were probably not the best idea, but oh well.

On the reading front, I’ve been lost in Italy since the beginning of January, committing myself to reading and finishing Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series. I’ve finished the first two, My Brilliant Friend, and The Story of a New Name. Now, I’m reading, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third book of the four. I can’t even tell you why I’m reading them – I can’t say that I love them, but I must know what happens. The novels are the story of a friendship between two women, who’s lives have gone their separate ways, but who will always be intertwined nonetheless. There are endless chapters about Elena studying hard at school, about Lila working at the grocey, about meeting boys day after day at the beach – it really is an Italian telenovella. Obviously, there’s more going on than a simple soap opera, but there are days in my quest to finish their story when that’s about what it feels like.

So, with two months to go until Sheep and Wool, hopefully my knitting mojo will come back.  Oh it won’t, and maybe I actually won’t spend a small fortune in Maryland.  Right.

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Playing with the We R Memory Keepers Fuse Tool

As I mentioned on Friday, I got suckered by a half price offer – an offer, apparently, I couldn’t refuse, and even though in my head, I’m walking back the tools, the products, the photos, I bought the We R Memory Keepers Fuse Tool.   For those of you who have never seen this product, the fuse tool is like a wood burner but for plastic – the tip melts the plastic, creating a seal, and ta da – your own pockets, shaker cards, and whatever else your heart dreams of in plastic.  It comes with this flimsy stand, the cattle prod looking thing, a ruler and two tips – a sealer and a cutter.  The cutter apparently seals and cuts at the same time, and I suppose it’s good for cutting out shapes, or pocket tops, but I haven’t had a chance to use it yet.

So, here’s the new guy, all plugged in and ready to go.  The instructions say to let it heat up a good ten minutes, so while I waited, I mulled what I was going to make. Because, the truth is, I don’t really need any custom pockets, or shaker cards, or anything else – but I have it, so I’m going to use it.
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Because I don’t do any traditional scrapbooking, or cardmarking, or anything for which I’d need a sequin, I don’t really have anything to fill a shaker pocket – hadn’t thought of that.  Luckily, I do have this sequin die that I bought a few years ago from Papertrey Ink when I had grandiose dreams of making my own snow globe, shaker card holiday cards.  Didn’t happen.  So, I finally took the die out of the package, and made some sequins.  This die actually fits in the itty bitty machine I talked about on Friday, real name Diamond Press, available only at HSN until June, I think.  I also think itty bitty machine is a better name, but what would I know.

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Sequins made, I put them in a pocket with some acrylic stars and a camera, probably from a Studio Calico kit that I could never figure out what to do with since I don’t make shaker cards, and voila, a shaker pocket!

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As you can see, my seal line isn’t so straight, and it’s a little gloppy.  Basically, you run the tool, which has a roller tip, against the ruler.  Naturally, I went too fast, and went a little rogue, but it worked – it’s sealed.  Unfortunately, once it was done, I didn’t really have any use for it, and I found that one of the other pockets was defective.  No matter, I cut it open, and reused the acrylic embellishments.

Not having any need for any shaker pockets in my current PL week, I went back and found this pre-Fuse insert I made for my parent’s 50th Anniversary Party, because I couldn’t just be done with one pocket that I ended up destroying.

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Definitely sloppy enough to justify a redo.  So, I took a 12 x 12 page, and laid out my candy bar wrapper, and found it was wider than the invitation.  So, I made little pockets on each side to fill with sequins.  Oh yeah, I don’t have any sequins, so I again endeavored to make my own.  This time, I used cards from a frankly crappy Heidi Swapp gold foil filled PL Value Kit, and went to town with my sequin die –

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Glad to use that gold foil for something.  I’m also a sucker for a Michael’s clearance bin sale.

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Yep, so much better than the original, washi tape engineered original insert.  As you can see above, I did miss a little spot with the roller tip right above the word anniversary on the chocolate bar wrapper, but after I took the photo I spotted it, and fixed it.  One thing I learned is that if you can use the ruler that came with the kit, you should.  While it’s short, and doesn’t stretch across a 12 x 12 page, it is heavy, and does a good job of pressing down whatever is inside your pocket, ensuring that you have plastic pressed to plastic – because if there’s even a little air in between, and the pages aren’t touching, you aren’t going to be able to melt them together.

Here’s a closer look at the seal –

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And, here it is in the album:

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Had I been thinking, instead of just gleefully melting full steam ahead, I would have thought of the other side of the insert.  The invitation has a nice pattern on the other side, so that’s ok, but the other side of the candy bar is upside down – I probably would have cut the wrapper, and turned the other side around, but eh, whatever.

Feeling like a super fuse expert, I then went back to April 2014, and made this insert for my niece’s birth announcement:

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Now, even though my 2014 album is finished through July, I hadn’t included this back in April because my sister-in-law sent them out probably in June, and I was long done with April.  But, I had it saved in a box of stuff anyway, so now seemed like a good time to make an insert – I have a new tool to play with dammit!  So, again, I started with a 12 x 12 page protector.  I fused along the side of the invite first, cut off the excess, filled the bottom with stuff, and then fused a line across.  The first time I made this pocket – yep, first time fail – I made the line way too high – and I thought, no matter, so the top shaker will be narrower, no biggie.  But, the problem was that I hadn’t really put enough stuff in the pocket, and it turned out really top heavy.  So, I tried to poke a hole in the bottom of the pocket with a craft knife, so that I could shove some more stuff in, but I ripped the whole thing open and had to start again.  Oh well.

And, if you’re wondering where I got all of those sequins and baby like die cuts, when I just finished saying I don’t really have anything like that in my stash – well, those little “goodies” came in the birth announcement.  And, since I didn’t know they were loose, just shoved in the bottom of the envelope, when I pulled out the announcement – Bam! They went flying in my face, on the hall table, on the floor, everywhere.  WHO DOES THAT!!!!!  It’s not a party in an envelope – it’s a mess in my foyer! Cardmaking friends – please never do that.  It was such a mess.  I was finding random sequins in my foyer for months.  Shaker cards, cardmaking friends, not loose in the envelope.  I know none of you do that, anyway.  Because no one would do that, except for  . . .

Ehem.

Anyway, after playing with the Fuse for a few hours, here are my thoughts:

  • I can see myself using this tool a lot for inserts, and very infrequently for making actually shaker pockets on the Design A page.  Since I try to keep up, week to week, I don’t think I want to commit to how the pocket will be used in the next week – what if I NEED that space!
  • While I am trying to be more selective with my photos, I will definitely use this tool for making pocket flaps to add more photos, or perhaps to add an interactive element to hide journaling, or something like that.
  • As for the tool itself – it’s easy peasy to use – plug it in and it’s ready to go in about 10 minutes.   Forget about the stand though, and get yourself a ceramic mug, then you don’t have to worry about it flopping around and burning yourself.  And, instead of a glass mat to protect your surface, I have a ceramic tile that I bought at Home Deport for about $5 when I was going through a soldering phase.  Works great!

So, if you’re thinking about buying this product – don’t pay full price.  I don’t think it’s necessarily worth $30 – I paid $15 plus shipping.   Use a Michael’s coupon, or get the bundle at HSN – for $15 over the retail price, you get a ton of stuff – plastic sleeves for waterfall pages, the extra fancy tips, fusible paper!  This clearance price is a steal, and I wish I had seen it first.  Drat.  And, even though I bought the itty bitty machine on HSN (I am a total sucker for the show stopper on Craft Day!), I don’t work for HSN or anything like that – no monetizing on this blog with ye ol’ 11 subscribers.  I just think it’s a good deal, and I’m always happy to enable -er share!

And, I guess if I ever get tired of making pockets with it, I could always use it instead of my foodsaver machine.  Happy melting everyone!

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Project Life Redux

Yesterday, I referred to ye ol’ blog as a patiently waiting home for my stories. I’ve been thinking about stories a lot lately, the who, what, where, when, why and how of them, because I’m just finishing up Ali Edwards’ class, Storytelling with Project Life. Ali’s basic philosophy is fill your pockets, create homes for your stories, tell your stories. Simple, right?

But, what about when your stories are hard, like your father died, your parent/child roles are reversing, your niece has reached teenage, dark and grumpy years? I can’t really blame hard times on my Project Life stalling out – I blame that on excess, but I’ll get to that in a second – but I can blame it for my lack of motivation for starting it up again – who wants to slog through those “good times” again? But, surprisingly enough, Joe was really insistent that I resume documenting our lives, and finding homes, in his mind, for our photographs, and in turn, their stories.

So, at the end of last year, I signed up for Ali’s class, and started going back through my two completed albums, and the half started year, to see what worked, what didn’t, what went wrong. This turned out to be the first week of the class, as well, so I already had a bit of a head start. I found some interesting things. First, having a gazillion photographs and trying to use them all was a real stumbling block for me. I look back on some of my digital layouts, where I had full control over the number and size of pockets, and I’m overwhelmed – why did I use so my photos? Would it have been so terrible to just pick the best one? For instance, at my niece’s birthday party a few years ago, I took a series of photos with Danielle and my parents, and used a collage in a 4 x 6 pocket. The photos are pretty tiny, and two of them are just eh photos – why didn’t I just pick the best one? I look at the mini photo of Danielle and my Dad, and wish it were bigger, wish my hard drive hadn’t crashed, and I could just redo it. The one perfect photo is completely diminished the collage. And, to really put an exclamation point on the idea that too many photos is too many, the last full spread I did in my half complete album was our week long beach vacation, which is spread out over four pages! Too much. Step one, simplify my photo process.

Next, I compared the completed digital album to the completed paper album. There were things about both I liked, but the bottom line was I liked the simplicity of Design A of the Becky Higgin’s line of Project Life products, and I liked the physical process of putting things into pockets. However, on the other hand, I liked the look of typed journal cards so much better than my own handwriting. So, if I liked the paper based version better, what was the problem? Stuff, that was the problem – too much stuff, the need to use all of the tools and products I had purchased. And, it was really a pain in the neck to use my Silhouette. We have no room on the desk in the computer room, and the machine lives in its box. When I want to use it, I have to take it out of the box, hook it up, etc. and there really isn’t a very good space for it even when it’s in action. And, what did I really need it for anyway? When I look back at the pages that had Silhouette cut embellishments, that at the time I thought were just brilliant, I don’t even like them. It had all become just too complicated. And, I think the final straw was the Letterpress platform for my Evolution machine. What was I thinking? I was thinking it would be fun – but it so wasn’t – messy, messy, messy, and zero fun, and not such great results. Big fat fail.

And for whatever reason, at that point, I just wasn’t able to walk it back – wasn’t able to trim back the photos, abandon the embellishments and the machinery. I guess Ali gave me permission to do that – put the card in the pocket, tell you story, call it done, and whatever else is icing.

And, that’s what I did.

But . . . everyone has to have some product, right? So, I pretty much put away all of my previous core kits, and in the first few weeks of the year, I tried a hybrid thing, with The Lilypad’s Monthly Pocket kit, and typing my journal cards. I quickly abandoned that — not simple enough, and I was guzzling printer ink, and I bought One Little Bird’s new Project Life Core Kit, Currently , and for the most part, that’s what I’m using. Here and there, I’ve got an old Studio Calico card from my kit club days, and I do like MAMBI stickers, and photo overlays, and I’ve learned to live with my handwriting. Oh, and I buy this teeny die cutting machine from HSN.

Cute, right? And, it’s so much easier than hauling out the Silhouette – and it’s really all that I need – labels, arrows, tags.  It sits right next to me on my work space, I put the little dies in a small plastic folder, crank the handle, and done!  And, so everything kind of matches, for paper I use journal cards from the Core Kit.  There are so many doubles, its so not a waste.

So, here’s where I am – caught up!  Well, at least as far as this year is concerned.  I am planning on going back and filling in – I suppose, but I’m keeping current, and I think that’s a big thing.

This first month or so, like I said, I was experimenting with a hybrid system, but it was a hassle.  And, I know at this point, if it becomes a hassle, I’ll quit.  Better to simplify than have nothing.

As you can see, things started to go bad the third week, with the car accident, anniversary of my father’s death, etc.  Oh, and look at poor Olive with her hood – she was chasing her ball and ran into the door of the t.v cabinet, cutting herself right under her eye.    But, strangely, writing my way through it was a good thing – I think it would be harder to go back and revisit this period rather than just living in the moment, and moving forward.

And by February, my hybrid experiment was over.  The above two weeks are the Currently core kit, some stamps, some tags I cut with the itty bitty die cut machine, and a few stickers.  Easy peasy.


And, ta da – just like that, I’m current!  This last week I used the kit that Ali Edward’s put together for the class – journal cards, chipboard stars, wood veneer labels, some tags and frames.

It’s all very scrappy, and it’s working for me. And, it’s done. I’m not making art, I’m just making a record.

And speaking of records, Ali talks about putting longer stories in Project Life, and she creates 8 x 12 inserts, mostly using her photo/story templates. For me, there’s some journaling, some longer stories that I don’t need other people reading when they’re flipping through my books. So, what I do is put a card behind the photo. The original Project Life core kits came with these tabbed cards, they were 4 x 6, scored so you could fold them in thirds, and tabbed on top. I’ve run out of them, and I can’t seem to find them anywhere, from any product company. So, I’m just cutting tabs with my itty bitty machine, taping them to the top of a 4 x 6 card, and slipping them in behind the photo.  You can see on in the upper right corner behind the photo of Joe and I.

 

And for my next trick – the fuse tool! Yeah, I know, I’m supposed to be walking it back, but it was on SALE. I mean a really good SALE. But, when I got it, the sale wasn’t as nearly as good as the bundle that’s on HSN now. If I had any local scrappy friends, I would total give them the one I bought, and buy the bundle, but unfortunately, I have no scrappy friends. The paper is fusible people! How cool is that!
 
Anyway, I’ll let you know how my fuse experiment goes. I can’t imagine using it very often. Every once in awhile I like to add a flap to card, and I guess I could experiment with some shaker pockets. We’ll see.

Have a great weekend!

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Yearly Make-Over

Every year, I do a little blog makeover, and every year, I think that this new container is going to miraculously make me a better, more consistent blogger.

Every year, I’m wrong.  But, the blog feels fresher, and remains an ever patiently waiting home for my stories.

January and February were honestly pretty crappy around here – Joe was still in recovery mode from his broken foot, on the first year anniversary of my father’s death – almost to the hour – my brother was in a car accident, breaking both of his legs, and there was work upheaval that made going to work every day not fun.  So between trips to physical therapy and the orthopedist (with Joe), visits to the hospital and then nursing home (with my brother), and playing office politics, I was happy to spend my free time knitting, making a bit of art, and catching up with Project Life, and even the idea of blogging was pretty much a drag.  But, now, Joe has been cleared to go back to work in full capacity, my brother is home and on the mend, and work has returned to the normal, crazy place it’s been for the last 20 years of my career.  So, now it’s time to blog.

I’ll probably redo the header, but all I really did was switch wordpress themes – maybe that’s all you need to do sometimes to get out of rut – switch themes in every sense.  While I loved the last theme, it really was hard to read, and I couldn’t get the text color right without upgrading to the pro theme, and until I become a pro blogger, I certainly don’t need a pro theme.  So, I saw this theme, Button, on someone else’s blog today, and I liked the featured photos, and the bright orange colors, and inspired, I thought – time to blog!

And, since I had no idea when I woke up this morning that I was going to visit ye ol’ blog, I didn’t have any photos prepared for a real post, so I thought I’d start the year, er March, off with a gratuitous cute dog photo as my first featured photo.

So, happy belated New Year to all, and perhaps more tomorrow!

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Bring on 2016! My Planner System is Ready to Go!

 

Hello my friends! It’s been awhile, I know, but I’ve just been prepping for back to back trials since the end of October.   Two ended up pleading, and one went to trial.   I have one more to go in January, and then it’ll be easy peasy sailing for awhile.

I’ve been a total knitting machine, finishing up the Stephen West KAL (uch – why???? gifted to my MIL), finishing up Water (gifted to my mother), a few other holiday gifts, and a sweater I started awhile back for me.  Joe broke is foot back in September, and we’ve really become sedentary t.v. junkies.  Hopefully, in January, he’ll be cleared for regular duty work (he’s on light duty now), and the treadmill, and we’ll be able to peel ourselves away from the time suck t.v.  I intended to do a few top ten end of the year posts – movies, t.v., etc., but I didn’t – so here are my Bests of the Year (I am totally off the cuff rambling – I had intended to just post about my new planner – and I’m totally flying stream of consciousness here)

  • Best Movie – Spotlight
  • Most Fun Movie – Star Wars the Force Awakens
  • Most Sentimental Comeback Movie – Creed
  • Best T.V. Show – Fargo
  • Best Farewell to a TV Show – Madmen – not the whole season but there were fine moments
  • Best Book – The Nightingale
  • Favorite Knitting Project – Earth
  • Favorite App – Flipboard

And that’s about all I can think of right now.  So, what about that planner?

Last year, I made my own Midori Traveler’s Notebook, a Wendori just for me.  I found a leather company online that kind of giggled about how little leather I wanted to order, followed a few tutorials, and viola!  I made my own inserts, and it was really the “vessel” for all of my penpaling.  And then – disaster struck – I lost it.  I’m a clumsy person, I break things, but it really isn’t my nature to actually lose things – and the few things I have lost, I haven’t lost forever.  For instance, I accidentally threw Joe’s high school ring in the ocean – and a year later, someone found it, and returned it to his parents who live at the beach.  I really really expected the planner to find it’s way back to me.  And, while I waited, I didn’t get a new planner, and I didn’t write any letters – because all of the letters I had to answer were in the Wendori, as well as all of my addresses.  True, I easily could have rebuilt my address book, and started with fresh letters, but again, I was convinced, any day, the planner, which contained my business cards, would be returned.

And it wasn’t.   And I stopped writing letters.  And, I didn’t get a new planner.

Until now.  I thought about making my own again, but I didn’t have anything to tell my mother-in-law to get me for Hanukkah, so I went shopping on Etsy, and found this really inexpensive fauxdori on Etsy from a Japanese seller – normally, I would just say no because of the postage, but the cover was on sale for $15, and it came with five premade booklet inserts, a craft file, a clip, and a bookmark.  So, the postage was more than made up for in the price and the extras.  And, I have to say – it’s awesome!  The leather is really soft,   It has a nice leather thing that holds my pen, and it also came with extra elastics.

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The cover looks a little scratched up, but that’s because the leather is so soft!  It’s definitely developing character right out of the box.

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So, right now, I have three inserts, and this felt card holder, that also came from Dokipaper.  Unlike my Wendori, in which I printed and bound all of the inserts myself,  the only insert I made this time is the calendar –

planner5The PDF for the calendar is from BohoCottage.  The blocks are a tad small, but the next page which I didn’t photograph is a week on two pages, and there’s a week on two page spread for each week of the month.   I could have gone for something a little boxier, with more room, but I wanted it to be pretty.  For the cover, I just took one of the stapled premade inserts that came with the leather cover apart, and sewed that cover onto the pages – which was nice, because I could trim the pages to the craft cover with confidence that they would be exactly the right size.

Next, I have a bullet journal.  As you can see, I’ve decorated the craft file folder (which also came with original package from Dokipaper) and taped a photo on the cover.  But, let’s be clear, Bullet Journaling is nothing more complicated than a day by day to do list.  That’s it.  With that said, it’s kind of amazing that I got sucked down the internet rabbit hole of bullet journaling – pinterest, youtube, Facebook.  Which then lead to down the path to planner creation, decoration, etc, looking at one Erin Condren, Happy Planner, whatever, after another.  At the end of it, I came to the conclusion that more decorating does not equate to more planning, and it’s more time consuming, and more work, to have stickers, sticky tabs, washi tape, whatnots, whatever than to just make a good ol’ list with whatever pen I have on hand.  I get that it’s fun to decorate your planner, but honestly, I can only decorate so many things – and I’ve committed myself (at least in my head), to get the Project Life going again next year.  Also, I can’t pull out a washi’d up planner in court.  I’m already regretting the stickered up craft folder, even though it does label what’s in the folder – ephemera for the newly reborn pocket scrap project.

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So, here’s my bare bones bullet journal.  As you can see, I have dated to do lists.  When I complete a task, I check the box.  When I decide to move a task to another day, I draw an arrow through the box.  When an item sits, I leave the box blank, and at the end of the month I’ll decide whether they’re really still “to do” and then move then to the next month. or I’ll cross them off.  The page before this list is an index, the facing page, is a “collection” – a list that’s not a to do list – but has a theme.  So far, in my bullet journal, I have “Sentencings,” “Where are the Addi’s” to keep track of where my interchangeable knitting needles are, “Things to Sew in 2016,” “House Projects” and “Waiting on” which is an itemization of things I’m waiting on – things that are supposed to come in the mail, things people are supposed to hand in to me at work, things I’m waiting on in my cases, etc.  And that’s it.  Easy peasy.  If it’s a daily to do, it goes on a list, if it’s a random thought, idea, whatever, I create a collection.  The collections are logged in the index so I can easily find them, and that’s it.  Would I like it to look spiffier?  Maybe, I don’t know.  I really don’t think so.  I think this works, and that’s it.

And then I have my morning pages insert –

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The morning pages booklet is just a lined booklet that came with the cover.  I really find the practice of free writing in the morning so helpful in so many ways.  Scattered thoughts find their way together.  I find myself remembering words that I don’t use when I speak, but always used when I wrote – words that remind me that choosing the right word is so much more rewarding that using the same lazy words over and over again – see, redundant popped into my head right away – such a better word than over and over.

So, that’s my system going into 2016.  Good luck with your own system, or no system, or whatever 2016 brings!

Happy New Year everyone!

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