Wednesday, February 26, 2014

De-Clutter Project 2014 - Week 9

Taming the 'paper tiger' and teaching an old dog new tricks; those are the two topics that I will discuss with you this week.

With tax time upon us, it is time to get all the receipts and bills sorted, organized and filed. At the beginning of each year, I resolve to keep it all orderly on a weekly or monthly basis, but each year I fall short of my goal. Then, I end up having to do a marathon sort and file in time to submit my taxes.

I got started on the job over the weekend. I'm making progress but there is still much to do. I'm trying to devote a set amount of time to the task every day. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Will I be able to stay on track with my plan to keep on top of it this year? I don't know.

I've noticed in the last few days that I'm catching myself more and more. I'm about to shove something in a drawer to hide it or add it to a pile, when I stop myself and take the extra step or two to put it where it belongs. It seems you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. There may be hope for me yet.

What area do you intend to tackle this week? What do you think you will find? More importantly, what will you do with it?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 8

Week 8: Capture Colour
Bring on the colour!
Capture colour in all its vivid brilliance!

When everyone else at work is wearing black and grey during these long winter months, I'm sporting bright colourful sweaters and accessories. I love colour!

I've been playing around a bit with different colour combinations lately. My new favourite hobby, tablet weaving, allows me to experiment a little to see what works together and what doesn't.

I'm off to the store again this weekend to pick up a few new colours; royal blue, red, maybe even purple. I'll see what appeals to me when I'm there. Then, I can decide what two colours to use for my next weaving project. Such fun!

And yes, now that I can make a collage with Picasa, I decided that a Collage of Colour was perfect for this week's prompt. *smile*

To see the colour in the lives of the other participants, check out the links below.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

De-Clutter Project 2014 - Week 8

Well, I've made some progress so far this year, not a lot, but I've definitely made a bit of headway. There is still so much to do though. I really do not know what to focus on next. But, I promised myself to accomplish 'something' each week, no excuses, no procrastinating allowed.

I get some of my best ideas while washing dishes, don't ask me why, but I do. Today was no exception. What about the tea towel drawer? I haven't gone through that spot in awhile, as it turns out, apparently quite some time.

Upon inspection, I noticed there was a lot of items in there that should not be. Safety pins, old keys (for who knows what?), sewing machine bobbins, spools of thread, crochet hooks (I don't even crochet), pens, markers, paper clips, a single hole punch, scotch tape, hair elastics, empty key chains, pennies, a stitch ripper and a thimble, among other miscellaneous paraphernalia.

No wonder it was getting difficult to close the drawer! There was so many things in there that should have been elsewhere that there wasn't enough room for what was supposed to be in there...clean tea towels and dish cloths. After putting all the bits and pieces into their rightful places, there was more room for the kitchen linens. Hurray!

But once again, here is the evidence (staring me right in the face) that I put stuff in the first convenient drawer rather than taking the extra couple of seconds or minutes to put it in the 'right' place. How do I break that cycle? It's clearly a very bad habit that I've cultivated over the years. Is it too late to teach this old dog, new tricks? I hope not.

Please Note: My camera battery died as I was trying to take the 'before' photo and since it takes a couple of hours to recharge, there will be no pictures of the task this week.

What area do you intend to tackle this week? What do you think you will find? More importantly, what will you do with it?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Tablet Weaving on an Inkle Loom

My Inkle Loom
Tablet Weaving (often referred to as card weaving) is a weaving technique where tablets or cards are used to create the shed through which the weft is passed. The technique is limited to narrow work such as belts, straps, or garment trim.

I was introduced to this craft through the SCA, an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts, skills, and traditions of pre-17th century Europe. Tablet-woven bands are commonly found in Iron Age graves and are presumed to be standard trim for garments among various peoples, including the Vikings.

Finished Project in Progress
When the opportunity came about three years ago to take a class and learn how to use the inkle loom I'd purchased a year earlier, I jumped at the chance. The books were not helping me. I simply could not make sense of it all.

I'm a very visual and hands-on learner and this class was exactly what I needed. Two hours later, with the basics now understood, I've been able to continue to expand and learn with each new project I've undertaken.

Obviously, I have not figured it all out yet though. I warped up the loom this morning, positioned the cards in the desired pattern and started weaving. *big sigh* I appear to have set the cards up backwards again so the wrong side is showing as I weave. Since it would be more trouble than it's worth trying to 'fix' it, I've decided to leave well enough alone and keep on weaving. *smile*

Half the time I set the cards up correctly, half the time I don't. *shrug* Other than that, this piece seems to be shaping up nicely. It doesn't actually look like it did in my head before I started but it will work. And I've learned a few more lessons in the process. What more could I ask for?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

And The Winner Is...

First, I would like to thank everyone who visited my blog during the Grow Your Blog event. Please stop in again sometime to see what's new. To those who chose to follow my blog I send a double thank you and a virtual hug. I hope that you will continue to read and enjoy my posts.

Over forty people took the time to comment on my Grow Your Blog post for a chance to win the gift package that includes one of my hand-made Tree of Life pendants, along with a few other specially selected items. I appreciate all your kind comments. Unfortunately, only one person can win the prize but, in my book, you are all winners!

I won't keep you in suspense any longer. The winner of my Grow Your Blog giveaway is....

Cathy of 'Crafty Cat'

I will be in touch with the winner over the weekend to congratulate her personally and get her mailing address. Thanks again to everyone who took the time to enter.

Focus on Life: Week 7

Week 7: Capture a Collage of Love
This week l❤ve is everywhere and it's your job
to capture it, no bow and arrow needed, just a camera! 

With the barometer going up and down like a yo yo and my pain levels at the extreme top of the scale, there was no time or patience this week for a learning curve. I don't have Photo Elements and have never used PicMonkey. Aside from that, there are so many people and things I love that any collage I created would have to be massive!

So, in lieu of a collage, here are some Valentine roses for all the people that I care about. May your lives be full of joy and love always in your hearts. I wish you the very best the world has to offer. I hope the things you love will forever be a part of your life and that you will always be a part of mine.

EDIT: At the suggestion of a couple of online friends, I downloaded Picasa this morning. And guess what? I was able to create a collage of some of my favourite things! My kids, my cats, my mother, my fellow, dolls, quilts and tablet weaving, candles and cinnamon hearts. *smile*

To see the Collages of Love created by the other participants, check out the links below...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

De-Clutter Project 2014 - Week 7

To see my Grow Your Blog post, click here.

I went looking for a bandage this week in the medicine cabinet above my kitchen sink. Wow, time to sort through all this stuff! I'll bet there are all kinds of expired products lurking in there.

Right hand side, before
Left hand side, before
There was a ton of stuff that went straight to the garbage can. Some of it had expiry dates going back to 2007! Those products were well past their prime and could have been potentially dangerous to use. It's obviously been a while since I've totally gone through it all.

Here are the AFTER photos...

Right hand side, after
Left hand side, after
What area do you intend to tackle this week? What do you think you will find? More importantly, what will you do with it?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

New Rules on Etsy

To see my Grow Your Blog post, click here.

When I originally wanted to offer cloak clasps on Etsy, I contacted them to make sure that I properly set up the listings following their guidelines and I did it exactly the way they recommended. While I have some input in the design selections, I do not actually execute the creation of them. My pewter guy, who wants to remain anonymous, makes the molds, pours the pewter and finishes them off.

It's that desire for anonymity that now makes it necessary for me to take all the pewter (cloak clasps and pendants) out of my Etsy shop. I cannot claim to make something that I do not make myself, and Etsy now has an elaborate form to fill out and a requirement of full disclosure regarding products made by others. That includes outside manufacturing companies or individuals whose products you sell.

Their goals are noble and it's not that I disagree with them...

A handmade item begins with you. Etsy's not the place to sell new items you had no role in creating. (Is me suggesting designs considered part of the creative process, especially when he often goes off in his own direction, only loosely following my suggestions?)

Shop owners on Etsy are invested and knowledgeable about how their handmade items are made. (I have no real clue how the molds are made or the processes that go into the making of the pewter items.)

By being open and honest about how items are made, we create a marketplace built on trust. (How can I be transparent when he wants to remain anonymous?)

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, that means I cannot list the pewter products on Etsy anymore. They have all been removed from my shop and the shop sections deleted. Any reference to the pewter in my public profile has been eradicated. I'm looking into other options, like Ebay, for selling them in future.

I understand that Ebay is set up differently than when I first looked at it several years ago, so that may be the direction I have to navigate towards. Another learning curve, just what I need. *smile* Of course, all the cloak clasps and pendants will still be available directly from me at events, where it all began.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 6

To see my Grow Your Blog post, click here.

Week 6: Quiet Calm
The world begins to emerge from its wintry blanket quietly, calmly.
Subtle cues emerge with very little notice. 
For this week's photo assignment we will focus on
the quiet calm of the world re-energize around us.

I looked hard for signs of impending Spring this week but I was pretty hard pressed to find anything at all. With snow banks six feet high and temperatures in the minus double digit range; the robins are not emerging, the trees are not budding and the tulips are not poking their heads through the ground.

We continue to be in the depths of winter here without any sign of it letting up anytime soon. We had more snow fall this week, quite a bit of it actually. So, what could I possibly take a photo of that would fit this week's topic?

Then I realized that there is ONE change that has been happening slowly over the last few weeks. The sun is now up when I go to work in the morning and it has not set when I leave work at 5 p.m. That was not the case in early January. It's nice to have longer days, it lifts your spirits and gives you the hope of Spring.

This photo was taken as I was leaving work one day this week BEFORE the big snow storm dumped another foot of the white stuff on the ground. As you can see, the sun is still above the horizon. *smile*

To see the Quiet Calm photos of the other participants, check out the links below...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

De-Clutter Project 2014 - Week 6

To see my Grow Your Blog post, click here.

When I walked into my kitchen one day this week, I realized that I could no longer see the top of my kitchen table. Other members of my household use it as the depository for any number of things; dirty dishes, mail, empty boxes, and who knows what else! Okay, I admit that I may be partially responsible too. *hanging head in shame*

With such varied working schedules, we rarely sit down for a meal together anymore. The men eat in front of the TV when they get home from work, and I typically bring my meals in front of my computer. It feels like I'm not eating alone that way, it must be the same for them. Or they are just men and that's what men do. *smile*

I usually try to keep on top of it but with being sick for almost two weeks, it kind of got away from me. This is embarrassing but here it is...

So, this is what I did next...

- put clean crock pot in the cupboard where it belongs
- empty egg carton went to the recycling bin
- large baking pan returned to the neighbour it was borrowed from
- bottled water put in the refrigerator
- junk mail shredded, very satisfying activity
- oven broiler pan put in the sink to be washed
- open bag of onions put in the proper place
- empty plastic shopping bags put into 'The Bag Lady'
- two Thermos bottles put into the cupboard
- old Corelle dishes, need to take them to the thrift shop
- empty boxes broken down for recycling
- box of vintage Fire King mugs, choice was to use or donate

I have to put the Corelle dishes into the car tomorrow to take to the thrift store. I decided to use the vintage mugs. They are in the cupboard now. They weren't serving any purpose packed away in a box. It's not perfect, but the table is looking a whole lot better, don't you think? I might pick up a new table cloth this week. One with flowers might be nice.

What area do you intend to tackle this week? What do you think you will find? More importantly, what will you do with it?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Blog Hopping Continues

To see my Grow Your Blog post, click here.

There were so many participants in the Grow Your Blog hop, it was impossible to visit them all in one day, or even one week. I'm telling you, that full-time job gets in the way of my fun so many times! *smile* And the need for sleep, food and tea keeps interrupting my blog browsing too. Oh, and the cats...demanding little creatures that want to be fed, and petted, and fed again.

One of the first things that I looked for when visiting a blog last weekend was a Grow Your Blog post. If there wasn't one, I left immediately without looking any further. In my humble opinion, someone who did not bother to take the time to post wasn't worth any more of my time than that. I'm finding what is most important to me this weekend is whether or not the blogger has posted something AFTER the Grow Your Blog post.

I only want to follow blogs that are active and engaging. I've added so many to my reading list in Feedly since last Saturday. What will keep me following them is the human factor: topics of interest, conversational language and great photos. The personal touch is important to me. I want to see the 'real' person come shining through.

How many blogs did you add to your reading list? I've lost count.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Focus on Life: Week 5

To see my Grow Your Blog post, click here.

Week 5: Get Outside
Sometimes the perfect fix for temporary relief of cabin fever
is simply to get outside, even if you just step out on the porch.
Get out of the house and focus on the change cooler temps
bring to your surroundings.  

In spite of the devastation left behind by the recent ice storm (fallen trees and hydro lines, etc.), you must admit that there is an element of beauty in the ice laden trees.

Along with my winter photo for this week, I thought I would share a poem that I heard on CBC radio this week written by Priscilla Uppal. She is a Toronto poet and English professor at York University and has graciously given me permission to share it with you.

Arctic Vortex

The polar bear helping himself to my morning paper
and yesterday’s third round of take-out
says I’m free to catch a ride with him to work
since my car won’t start—battery dead as a
doornail, and the doornails wedged shut
locking us on the inside, where we’d rather be
glued to the warmth of our televisions—
stunned by the magic of outdoor ice hockey
games in Los Angeles stadiums, reminiscing
about snow days and epic snow ball fights,
the invention of snow pants and feet warmers
and arena hot chocolate—not real chocolate,
like they brew today, but the thin watery kind 
with the powdered marshmallows still digesting decades
later in our stomachs, rumors of Abominable
Snow Men, cities separating on ice floats, 
the temptations of toboggans & tongues on poles.

Not this cruel reminder that even the squirrels
are busting a gut at how low we all are
on supplies for our emergency kits—
how undignified our attempts at fire-starting,
how hopelessly those of us without landlines
now read by candlelight.

My morning shower felt like being trapped
inside a snow globe that the winter just refuses
to put down. We’re shaking white and grey,
wondering what we did to deserve such a blast
of disdain from mother earth— though I suppose it’s
true we rarely call unless we want something—
looking forward to the sweet moment we’ll stash
the shovels back in our sheds.

But for now the snowy owl has found refuge
inside the feather pillows on my king-sized bed.
And I should be amazed but I’m too distracted
by the frost against my windows and the chattering
teeth of hydro poles sputtering out last breaths. 
I weep icicles on the dashboard knowing I will soon join
that row of penguins in black-and-white suits 
marching, like the instinctual creatures they are,
in unison to the subway. 

As much as we complain about the cold weather in winter, we also commiserate about the hot weather in summer and the rain in spring. But you know what? I'd really miss the changing of the seasons if I were suddenly transported to a locale with a year-round tropical climate. We are truly blessed to live in a country of contrasts. There is beauty in every season, even winter, so get outside and enjoy it!

You can listen to the author reading her poem during a segment on Metro Morning this week called 'Embracing the Weather'.

To see the winter photos of the other participants, please check out the links below...