5.29.2011

keeping it together

i've always been obsessed with planners. calendars. notebooks. anything that comes bound where i can make a list is a fun place for me. tack on a really cute design, or bright colors on that planner/calendar/notebook, and i'm sold. i'm a sucker for keeping organized. (i think it's a first-born, type a thing.)





so, i was asked this last week by a colleague about my current planner and notebook combo. i have a notebook that i use at work that serves it's purpose - it goes to every meeting with me, i jot down notes on anything work-related, and they all stay bound and organized for me to get back to when i need them. then, i have a great planner. my amazing sis got it for me this last christmas and i immediately fell in love. (nevermind that it's from my favorite store...paper source.) it's small, can fit in any purse, has plenty of space for my day-to-day to-dos (work and personal) and basically serves as my command central. (oh, and i should mention that the love of calendars went a step further with an addition to my desk this year...again, thanks to paper source...with an oversized, kraft paper desk calendar.)





not only is it my center of my organized world, but it is also really cute if i do say so myself. the planner has little stickers (i secretly think i'm still 12-years-old at heart) for special occasions, like birthdays, date nights, mani/pedi days, etc. and, one of my favorite parts about it is the notebook in the back, where i can jot down ideas and projects in one place. love, love, love.





so, i admit it. i love planners and calendars and notebooks. and they keep me organized.


what do you love that keeps you together and organized?

5.27.2011

a little bit of a lot

this last week has been a doozy. and whenever i'm in the whirlwind of daily life, i find myself reaching out to the crafty side of my brain for inspiration and ways to just get through the day-to-day. this week brought a little boy that was under the weather, an overnight to atlanta, a very long plane ride home and at the end of the week, a much needed day off (making a four-day weekend!) the sweetest part: the day off (and a napping little boy) gave me a little time to focus back on the wall hanging project i've been plugging away at.













it's coming along. i'm about three-quarters of the way through the "grassy grass grass" poem, and i can say that this project has required planning, use of some unconventional household tools (um, can you say tweezers?) and has caused some tense shoulders. but i'm loving it.





a couple of tips i've come across:


1. when working with the cricut (especially when cutting very small, intricate shapes), an x-acto knife and a cutting mat are must-haves. (i usually just use my cricut cutting mat.) sometimes the pieces don't get completely cut all of the way through, so to prevent the pieces from ripping the x-acto has become a very good friend to me. (just be sure to always keep it away from little hands...)


2. paying attention to spacing of the letters is key. even today when working on the piece, i was getting nervous about being able to fit the whole poem on my canvas. again, the pre-plan layout i did is a huge help.


3. tweezers are key. so many of the pieces are tiny or skinny or very fine, so tweezers are a huge help when it comes to placing the letters or images with glue on the canvas.


4. be willing to modify the design as you go along.

5. a straight-edge was a huge help too. on the last line ("windy wind wind"), i used an italics font and the straight-edge was a life saver to make sure the letters were going on straight.





i'm still really loving how this is coming along. i even went so far as to take it into our little guy's room tonight to see where it's permanent home will be. (and, you might have noticed there are a couple of glue spots on my canvas. this was the result of not using the tweezers to place my letters, and dropping one, glue-side down, on the canvas. eek!)


besides the wall hanging project, i also finally managed to get the rest of the thank-yous out for the little guy's birthday (late, i know. but i realized i underestimated people's love for noah and didn't buy enough envelopes for the thank you cards i was making. so another trip to paper source was required.) sticking along with the mickey mouse theme, i got the small, simple 4 bar note cards with the 4 bar envelopes, all in paper source red. i adorned each with a mickey mouse sticky brad (very cool to have received from a friend) and then customized with noah's personalized stamp (again, from my crafting guru and friend). they turned out really nice and were super-simple to make...and were a perfect thank you card to come from a two-year-old.


so, there's a little bit of a couple of projects here. i have more and more ideas circling around for upcoming projects, so stay tuned. finally, i do just have to share one of the more offbeat creative things from this week. it's a little something i picked up in one of my favorite books, "just let me lie down" by kristin van ogtrop, the managing editor of real simple magazine. in her book, she talked about purposely carrying one of her son's legos in her purse at all times - not to have in the case her son needed some entertaining, but it gave her something to see throughout the day and served as a happy reminder about what really matters in life. so, right before i got out of my car at the airport on tuesday morning, i slipped one of noah's toys into my bag. here's the friend who was my stowaway in atlanta (pictured on the nightstand in my hotel room):

here's to crazy stowaways and craftiness,

ashley

5.17.2011

company is coming!

i don't know about you but there is nothing that gets me more motivated around the house than the words: "do you mind if we come up for a visit?" when i heard these wonderful words last week from one of my dearest and bestest friends who has never seen our house, take that normal amount of motivation and multiply it by, like, 1,000. oh my gosh...the home decorating wheels are spinning, lists of supplies and projects are being made and the motivation is at an all time high. (especially because if there was such a thing as a crafting/creative guru, this friend is mine.)


first on the list was hanging a couple of frames i put together several weeks ago...our kitchen needed a little extra something (while still keeping the simplistic look we're going for) and since i find it really tough to find something pre-done, i decided to make a little something. using some white frames with three 5" x 7" openings (i purchased two at my tjmaxx for less than $10 a piece), i worked in some of the grey/blue/green scrapbook papers i had in my stash. what i love about these is the more clean feel the designs have. and in a little bit of a different move, i hung these above our back patio door.



simple, clean frames with patterned papers


after waiting what feels like forever, i finally got my green thumb on with some outdoor plants. i had five planters (including two brand new ones from target - thanks mom for these for mother's day!) that needed filling and i was tired of waiting for the potential frost/freeze to go away. when it comes to outdoor plants, i try and go for a more simple look - grasses, broadleafed plants in greens and purples. now, the challenge is to keep everything alive (and keeping frost-free).


our front porch planter

last but not least, one of the biggest projects left (drumroll, please)....are new curtains for our family room! i've been grappling with our family room for a while, just feeling like it needed a little something more to warm up the room. so i had the idea to make curtains. i did pick up our umbra curtain rod this weekend at target (on sale - score!), and my next step is to actually get the fabric for the curtains. color and texture has been picked out from jo-anns already. i can't wait to have these done and add a little extra something to our family room. i've pulled some images for inspiration when i finally get the sewing machine out...


there'll be more to share with the curtain project...we have lots to do in the next couple of weeks before our guests arrive!


cheers!
ashley

5.14.2011

grassy grass grass - phase i

for a may day, the weather outside was so frightful today...which meant it was a great day for a certain little toddler to take a nice long cozy nap which gave this mama a chance to re-visit a little project that's been on hold....a cute and fun wall hanging for a certain adorable 2-year old.




i mentioned this project a couple of posts ago, and the original plan was to have it done for his birthday. well, i'm human. life, work, laundry and other crafts got preferrential treatment. but that doesn't mean i was going to let this project be one that didn't get it's appropriate attention or love.


so, today it was back to the wall hanging - and this is one that i'm kind of making up as i go along. the idea and inspiration came from one of the little man's favorite poems (which he learned from hbo's classical baby series). the poem is woody guthrie's "grassy grass grass," and reciting it has officially become part of our bedtime routine. the whole idea was to sort of capture the special relationship we all have with this poem in a lovely wall hanging and keepsake that's specially created for our little guy.


it's still a work in progress, but wanted to share how we started and where we are today....



i started with a simple canvas and decided that based on the whole title of the poem the base color needed to be a grass green. two coats of green acrylic paint later, and we were ready to start.







the first step was planning out placement of the poem - to do this, i simply tracked down a piece of paper that was the same size as the canvas and wrote out the poem to plan for spacing. this has been a huge help along the way...just so i didn't get to the bottom of my canvas and only be halfway through the poem!


from here, i did take planning a step further and identified how i wanted to have the words of the poem presented - and decided this would be a combo of cut paper letters (thanks, of course, to my cricut) and handpainted/written words. i also knew i wanted to incorporate different graphics into the piece too, so i pre-planned for these too (all based on my current cricut cartridges and their available graphics). what can i say, i'm a planner.


then, it was time to start cutting letters and graphics. i've used a combo of cricut cartridges for this project so far - alphalicious, plantin schoolbook, give a hoot, doodletype - and am using your standard 12" x 12" scrapbook papers. sizes of letters have been different, and basically just planned as i go along. i've varied everything from 1" tall to 2-3/4" tall, just to give the piece some variety. all letters are also being adhered with my zig memory system 2-way squeeze and roll glue pen - a great tool for gluing small, intricate pieces.


there's still a ton more work to do on this piece, so be sure to check back for phase ii updates! the way i see it, there's not a huge hurry with this one - i want to make sure this one is perfect for my little guy.






cheers to your creative everyday,

ashley


p.s. there's been another big craft project going on the past two weekends...my craft table, that my amazing husband is building me. as of today, the legs are ready, and the top is getting it's final coats of stain. next up is fastening the cutting mat/measuring mat to the table top, and then we just have to assemble all of the pieces. i can't wait!

5.10.2011

for the mamas

so, we've just wrapped up mother's day 2011. my third mother's day, and it was a great one. my husband and son centered the whole weekend around craftiness, which was awesome and so thoughtful. i was in absolute crafting heaven.




to kick off the weekend, i took last friday evening to make some special mother's day cards for the special mama's in my life. (yes, i realize i was a bit late in getting these made...)






i tapped into my blank cardstock stockpile and was so excited to get to use my new paper source poppy cards... i had picked up a set of the a6 size a while back and thought mama's day was the perfect opportunity to use this new and fun color. blended with a couple of my scrapbook papers, i came up with some bold floral designs that were capped off with some of the fun brads i had in my stash.









the first card i started on was for my mama...using a great small white and poppy floral (from a martha stewart scrapbook paper series) and my cricut give a hoot cartridge, i made a great 3-1/2" flower with the white and poppy floral pattern. wanting some layering on the card, i also cut out the same shape in a solid white at 3-3/4" in size to give some dimension.







this one was finished off with the layering of the flowers and touched off with a floral brad from my collection. (shockingly enough i had accents that matched the poppy of the cards perfectly!)






the card-making continued on with cards for my bonus mama and my mother-in-law...all very special women in my life. i wanted slightly different looks for all of the cards and wanted each of the cards to reflect a little bit of each's personality. the cricut was a must-have for these two additional cards - both using the give a hoot cartridge - and using some of the different edges and flower patterns available. and finishing each off with a brad for the center of the flower.





on a more serious note, being a mama myself is my favorite and most cherished job. i feel so lucky to have not only been able to honor the wonderful mamas in my life, but to have been able to celebrate this day with the little boy who gave me the greatest job ever.




cheers!

ashley























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































5.08.2011

hanging on

i've always been a packrat. ever since i was young, and in a very endearing way. i would hang on to the most random things, convinced that one day i would need them again for some reason. as i've gotten older (and been forced to move these things from my parent's house to college to apartments and to houses), i've learned to let go. prom dresses have been donated. boxes have been cleaned out and thrown out. i've learned to simplify. (admittedly, i can still fall back into my old tricks, but i'm happy to report that i recently donated 14 purses to a local women's group, and several suits to my stepmama's women's resource center. so there.)



but one of the things that i have always saved...literally since birth...were cards. greeting cards, cards sent with flowers. when i was young, i have this very distinct memory of having a large box filled with all of the cards that my parents were given when i was born. how cool is that? a huge thanks to my mom for thinking of doing that. (i'm thinking she might have had something to do with my packrat syndrome, but that's neither here nor there.)


i still save cards. i have a drawer filled with cards for my son. i love having these as small memories of a special day or event that remind me how much others were excited for me. but that of course means that i needed some way to manage the keeping of these cards. (something more managable than an old shirt box.)


so to keep from having a mountain of cards falling everywhere, i needed a storage solution. i came across this great idea from apartment therapy that i incorporated into our decor. it's super simple - just taking a simple glass bowl or vase or anything else you have that can collect and display cards (ours is a simple glass bowl/vase - picked up at tjmaxx for less than $10). i have ours in our dining room as a unique and personalized decorative accent. not all cards go in here - just the super special ones (like the very special anniversary card my son made for us on top) i love that it's a cool conversation piece and what i love even more is that when i walk by, one will catch my eye, and i'll stop and take a moment to re-read the card. it's a nice reminder every day that i was special enough to receive a card from a special someone.

cheers!

ashley
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