Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring cleaning and creating my new craft corner! - April 16, 2014

A few weeks ago I had lunch with my friend Denise, who is starting an organization and home-staging business. I brought her sheepishly into my house, which was, as always, a big crazy mess. She looked around and started pointing out things I already owned that could be repurposed. The lightbulbs started going off above my cartoon head. Then she came back and not only took me to Dollar Tree for some inexpensive organization solutions but also sat with me while I pawed through my desk of DOOM. That thing had drawers filled with such delights as many 3.5" floppies, an exploded battery, and pictures of a friend's baby - when said baby just turned 11. Then, happily, a neighbor was doing her own spring cleaning and gave me some things that were perfect to continue to corral my chaos.

This before picture is actually slightly after-before (because I never remember to take my before pictures - I've started saying "Take a Before Picture Today!" about everything. First, it gives you that picture. Second, it forces you to have a starting point for any new project.):

Believe it or not, I'd actually started cleaning up at this point...

Like...see that purple thing on the second shelf from the top? I'd corralled a bunch of toys - mine and the kid's - in there! Really!

That's my husband's laptop...and it was living on a chair he won as an award. The round table held various wedding-related memorabilia - but note that we've been married for ten years. There was a lot of dust on there.
So the first thing to do was to swap out the furniture. Denise noted that I owned a desk and a bookcase that both were wood (vs the white particleboard that you see) that would match the other furniture in the area. "But...move furniture? That's big and scary!" I said. I was wrong.

Bye bye table and chair. The books got neater too...

The new bookcase emptied. (It was living upstairs in our office near...more books, as you can see.)

New bookcase in place! The bottom two shelves are for my cookbooks. The tippy top has my bridal bouquet, the centerpiece from my wedding shower, and the centerpiece from our wedding - finally people can SEE them!
I've had the desk since childhood. It was in our office acting as, well, my office, but it was hard to access and I always felt like I was intruding on my husband (who is a voiceover talent and who often needs to be recording in there).

Old night table (which had been forgotten in a corner, full of junk) now repurposed as part of the craft station. Inside is all my vinyl and then some foam stickers/embellishments and some notepads, all very organized, I promise, but also just...hidden and in their own spaces.

The fabric shoebox was 30 cents from Target. I decorated it with regular permanent vinyl, cut with my Silhouette.

Inside the desk drawers, everything is now corralled and organized.
Little containers section off this drawer to hold glue, scissors, hole punches, tape, that sort of thing.
Dollar Tree containers hold Silhouette supplies and extra things like staples and tape - all labeled!
A repurposed shower caddy from a friend's yard sale - now my postage and packing materials live on it!

Here, right now, is what my craft corner looks like! The wooden drawers on the far left were given to me by my aforementioned neighbor - I bought stain and will be changing it up over the next few days. If you look closely you can see a floating frame on it with a vinyl-cut image of my daughter.

Button-making machines and parts.

Button-making parts, mostly in repurposed food jars/Talenti containers, plus some apothecary jar-type-things. Everything, again, labeled! So nice to be able to find what I need when I need it!

Corralling the paper clutter with metal magazine holders, which were another gift from my neighbor. I put washi tape on each one for fun and then made quick little magnets to use as labels because this is a work in progress - I still need to sort through the paper in each one, but at least now it's organized. Next to those, my scrapbook paper and button-making scraps, plus my Reiki manual.
It is LOVELY to finally have a space that I can call my own with a place for everything and everything in a place. And I may have spent $20 total doing it - everything was either mine to begin with, given to me by someone, recycled, or bought at a place like Dollar Tree or Ikea. I'm still working on this too - still working on my paper clutter, still finding new ways to organize everything. Plus, this is just the start of a full-house cleaning/reorganizing spree!

(Not shown: My fabric scraps, which I use to make buttons/magnets/mirrors, are now all folded and organized and in their own plastic drawer instead of spilling out of random plastic bags. My various types of printer paper are now organized near my printer but not quite ready for their photo to be taken - next time! And my china cabinet now has a new display on its top that includes funky cookbooks and pictures of my daughter.)

That's a lot of pictures but I have more to show you over the next few weeks!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Purex No Sort for Colors Detergent: Stop Sorting Your Laundry! Review & Giveaway - Win a Free Bottle!

I'm a Purex Insider, and recently I was given the chance to try out new Purex No Sort for Colors detergent for free. I was not compensated beyond the free bottle (and the coupons I'm going to give away in a minute) and they can't make me say anything I don't want to say.


The truth is that I rarely sort my laundry into lights and darks anymore. I just don't have the time. But because I don't do that, sometimes dyes do bleed into one another in my washing machine. I just sort of accept that fact as part of my life. And sometimes I leave one or two items of clothing out of my main laundry load because I am afraid that it/they will bleed. That's why I found Purex No Sort for Colors detergent so intriguing.

What I don't like about most specialty detergents is that they are often overly scented. I like to wear scented oils and perfume and I do not like those choices competing with my clothing's smell. But at the same time, I can't lie, I don't mind any of this on my towels and linens - I like those to have a light floral or soapy scent. While I use dye-and-perfume-free detergent for just about everything I wash - my clothes, my husband's clothes, my kid's clothes - if I get a scented detergent sample (or, in this case, if I get to try a whole bottle for free) I'll earmark it for towels and I'll enjoy it. I wish that Purex No Sort for Colors came in a free and clear/no perfume/no dye version - but when I used it on my towels, the scent wasn't too overpowering and I didn't mind it.

What I do like is that Purex No Sort for Colors detergent works to prevent color bleeding. It got my towels clean, and it seemed to work as promised. I won't be worried going forward when, as always, I don't have time for sorting my sheets and towels (and maybe, sometimes, my clothing) and I mix my colors and my whites - I feel comfortable knowing that the dyes won't bleed because the detergent will trap loose dyes to help avoid color bleeding accidents.

Look at all those towels! And none of the dyes bled onto one another AND everything was soft, clean, and nicely scented.

Do you want to win a coupon for a free bottle of Purex No Sort for Colors detergent so you can try it too? Go for it! Two winners. U.S. addresses only. Contest runs April 14, 2014 to April 20, 2014. Good luck!

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Friday, March 28, 2014

The Tough Go Thrifting.... - March 27, 2014

Things have been a bit tricky these past few months. The good news is that my daughter continues to do more and more every day - take more independent steps, say many more words, thrive. So let's just go with that as my update, shall we?

I planned this particular thrifting trip to coincide with two sales - Value Village's monthly half-price sale and the Salvation Army's weekly sale (I wasn't sure what it was at this point - it's 25% off everything in the store every Wednesday). Unfortunately, VV just didn't give me fireworks and heart palpitations - it was picked over and crowded and crazy! But I'm glad I got it out of my system. We also went to two - TWO! - Goodwills and my favorite indie store. And as you'll see, my main goal was to find mugs to decorate - and I succeeded in hitting that goal. Also, I brought cash and with one small exception I only spent the cash I brought with me. Yes, I rolled my quarters as part of that, and yes, everyone was REALLY excited to have me pay in rolled coins. Saves the cashier a trip to the back room or even the bank!

For the few of you who are interested, here's some pictures!

 First, Value Village:

Cute shirt for the kid. 75 cents.

Unexciting shorts that I hope will fit her. $1.75.

A rash guard that appeared to have never been worn. 75 cents.

Annoying find of the day - the shirt, which is cute, was only 50 cents. When I took the tag off, it made two giant holes ON THE FRONT OF THE SHIRT. I've said it a million times - Value Village is TERRIBLE about this and I don't understand why they continue to staple tags - and staple them in ridiculous spots on clothing! I am washing it anyway to see if the holes get smaller, but it likely is bound for the trash. Boo.

I wonder how much this Wicked shirt was when it was brand new. I paid $1.75 for it. I still haven't seen the musical, but I loved the book so much and I love the art.

So this is a thing - Hello Kitty and KISS. I don't get it but I had to have it. $1.75 I think?

First haul of mugs of the day! 20 cents each. Again with the Value Village ranting - most of their mugs cost 20 cents, but most of their mugs also were smashed up and scratched. But still, I scored these.
Next up, the Salvation Army - a really nice, newer, very clean and organized store. However, as I've found in other SAs in the area, many items of clothing that made it to the floor were ripped or stained. Still, I found a few things...

More shorts for the kid. $1.50. They're Crazy 8 brand and they have sequins on them. Cute!

NY and Company skirt for me. $4 I think? I really liked it. I also found another skirt that I really liked and I forced myself to put it back with a lot of hand wringing and sighing because it was simply impractical and ridiculous. This one had more potential as something I would actually wear. And that's how I know that a) money is tight and b) space is tight and c) I'm an adult now - I didn't buy the ridiculous skirt.

Two Bodum black mugs to decorate. 75 cents each!

This old-style clipboard is going to become either a place to hold my kid's art or a menu board. I haven't decided. 75 cents.
Then a Goodwill *just* to look for mugs. And guess what - that's all I bought!

Three were 99 cents each, one was 55 cents. Yes!
Then my favorite indie store where the prices are confusing and the deals are amazing! All money goes to a no kill shelter, if I haven't mentioned that before, and sometimes I just feel like I'm making a donation and then running out with an armful of clothing, and that's fine with me.

"Specially priced" shorts for the kid. They are almost new (and a relatively recent line) Gymboree shorts. Score! $2. Ooh, big spender - that's still cheaper than Goodwill!

Jeans for the kid. 50 cents.

Basic T-shirt for the kid. 50 cents.

Basic long-sleeved shirt for the kid, 50 cents, I think?

The cashier looked at this and said "Because of the brand name, this is $1.50" and then acted like I wouldn't pay that because it was too expensive. No, I assured him, that was fine! It's Hollister and it's cute.

This Old Navy skirt doesn't look as cute on my floor, crumpled up, as it looks on me. $1.

This skirt is by a brand called Roxy. It's labeled as a size 3 but I don't really understand what 3 that is because it's rather big. Anyway it's adorable and matches a shirt I got that you'll see below. I love buying outfits together (because I never do).

Every Atlanta gal needs some Coca Cola gear in her wardrobe I suppose. It was 50 cents though there was a bit of drama about that price. But it was 50 cents.

This shirt matches that skirt above. And it's Ann Taylor Loft and was 50 cents.

Another very poorly photographed but very cute skirt. It's from the Limited and it's a wrap skirt. Normally I hate wrap skirts but this one seems like it won't blow wide open with every puff of wind. $1.

Hanna Andersson! It was also "specially priced" at $2. It's too big for my kid and she doesn't really wear dresses - I'm probably going to try to resell it and get back some of the money I spent on everything else.
And finally, as we were starting to run out of energy, we went to one last Goodwill for more mugs and (not shown) a present for the kid (a Backyardigans book for $1.50).

This may seem like a weird purchase, but my Silhouette can cut these and I was actually looking for something exactly like this for making boxes with windows in them. For $1 I took a chance on how many were in the taped-shut box - turns out there are about 8 transparencies in there, which is exactly enough. A full box costs something like $35 so I think I did well with this score.

75 cents with perfect illustrations to become pocket mirrors.

And finally, just a few more mugs. Both are blue, though it's hard to see that the one on the right is blue. That one was something like 25 cents because it was a half-price color, and the other was only 55 cents.
Phew! I also scored a really cheap GIANT CD wallet (I'm taking all of my CDs out of their jewel boxes, finally, and putting everything into storage) at Tuesday Morning for $8 and I tracked down some green straw cups at a random (but nice) Dollar Tree. And that!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wherein I Pretend to Be a Craft Blogger - February 19, 2014

I haven't been posting lately (not that I believe anyone noticed - did you?) because it's been a rough many weeks. Snow, ice, no school, trouble with my daughter's Medicaid benefits, bills, drama. I don't know if I'll ever blog about any of those (maybe) but for now I'm back to giving you a lighthearted post.

I'm not a craft blogger but I love doing crafts. In fact, I declared 2014 "The Year of Crafts" and have made an effort to make more things both to keep and to give away. Buying the Silhouette Cameo helped enormously, but I'm also trying to get back on track with knitting, at least a little bit.

Here are some pictures of some of my recent projects. I hope they make someone out there feel like it's OK to make imperfect crafts that are just for fun. I'm as in love with Pinterest as the next person, and I get great ideas from there, but it can make you feel like if your project isn't perfect and elaborate, it's not worth doing - or sharing on these here Intarwebz or whatever. So here you go.

First I want to show off my new washi tape storage system. I got the jewelry organizer for 30 cents from when the Target Dollar Spot was on clearance recently (I got a TON of organizing containers for 30 cents a pop, actually - these organizers, larger pocketed organizers, shoe boxes, underbed boxes...) Each pocket holds a roll of washi tape beautifully, and I put a small piece of tape outside each one so I'd know what was in where. The unopened Scotch tapes are from Target's Christmas clearance and cost around 60 cents a roll. The rest were from Pick Your Plum. By the way, washi tape is addictive and I have more on its way to me...

Speaking of washi (I forgot to put this up initially - oops!), here are some tins from Trader Joe's that I hoarded saved and finally covered up with washi tape (the aforementioned Scotch brand). One stores my yarn needles. The other...not sure yet. I have more tins that I need to cover too.

I knit some boot toppers from a really easy pattern. I used up some part-cashmere part-acrylic yarn I'd had in my stash for eons. What you can't see is that I didn't have enough yarn to make a full pair, so the bottom of each topper is a different yarn. Nobody's going to see that bit anyway!

I made some tags on which I attach my 1" buttons in sets of four to sell at the local artist coop.

I made my grandmother a birthday card. On the inside I printed and trimmed a picture of my family.

And a custom envelope too.

For my friend's birthday, I made her a funny wine glass. (She'll see this and find out my secret - the wine glass was from Kroger's after-Christmas clearance and was a super deal.)

Updated: More things! Here's an etched glass candle (it says "Reiki") that I made for my friend and Reiki master, Dana.

And here is the back of my phone case, using the same vinyl from the stencil I made above (as you can see in the picture).

Here is a card I made a friend using a file from the Silhouette store (one of the first things I made - you can see that I have a lot to learn about gluing!). The toast is a little card that pops out and says "A toast to you!" on the front.

More knitting! A mason jar cozy. And a pretty green Cuppow from when they were on sale...

More Cuppow fun - If you squint, you can see that I etched a letter on the blue mason jar. Each of my kid's therapists got one of these for the winter holiday season - a Cuppow, a jar with his/her initial, and a Starbucks gift card.

And last but not least, one day I was looking around my house and spied this plain plastic trash can. PLAIN? No way. A bit of washi tape, a bit of vinyl, and voila. Instead it's a....silly trash can!

So those are some of the things keeping me busy lately. What about you?
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