Craft Room Tour 2016

What do you call your creative space? A sewing room? Craft Room? Office? Studio? Sewing Studio? I use all of these names interchangeably for the room that most of my creativity happens in – and all of my supplies hang out in. I feel a little pretentious using the word “studio” to describe my space – but I don’t think it matters what you call it – I think it matters what you do with it! Here, I’ll take you on a tour of my creative space!

Always Expect Moore Craft Room tour - lots of photos of the pretty details, plus a youtube video where some of the secrets to a pretty space are exposed!

I’ll take you on a photo tour of the room, but if you prefer, you can watch this video tour. I originally recorded it on Periscope, so I’m not jumping subjects randomly, I’m responding to commenters. Pinkie swear.

We moved into this house a year ago. You can see my old craft room here.I’d done some work to spruce up and organize my space, but when my friend Angie from The Country Chic Cottage started planning her Craft Room Tour, I only hesitated a second before I signed up. The hesitation was because my craft room is notoriously messy (I share lots of #honestcraftroom photos on Instagram, like this one), and I knew it would take several days to whip it into shape. But a deadline was exactly what I needed to work miracles in this space, so I signed up. And then did very little until last week. Sure, I did a little picking up here and there, but not the dump-out-the-drawers overhaul I wanted in here. Yes, there are still areas that need some TLC, but overall I’m thrilled with the work done in here! So, let me take you on a tour! I’ll start with the big table that greets you when you walk in…

sewing table

This table is a dining room table I found at a furniture outlet store years ago. I splurged last year and bout a self-healing mat as big as the top of my table. I love it! Great for working on larger projects. On my table I have some sewing baskets, pincushions, a current project, and my sewing machine. I sew on a Bernina 710, which is a model they discontinued last year. It doesn’t do any fancy embroidery, but it has lots of throat space for sewing and quilting.

The table is in front of two giant windows at the front of the house. They face SouthWest, and get great light in the late afternoon. These windows are the reason this room was the perfect room in this house for my craft studio. The windows face the street and don’t offer a lot of privacy, so I put a thin cotton curtain on each. These provide privacy while filtering the light – perfect for photos! You can see that I haven’t decided yet what the perfect height for the curtain rod is – they’re both at different heights. We’re renting this house – a 1957 Bungalow in San Diego – so I’m leaving the blinds up, but they’re pulled all the way to the side.

On the left of the table is a tall cabinet with wicker drawers. This holds jars, fabric, and projects in progress. On top are my quilting rulers, in a file-folder holder from the office supply store.

And yes, the chair has an apron tied to it. It is this Apron back from the AGF fabric challenge.

To the right of the table is a big ironing board. Behind that is a large cabinet. It stores a few craft supplies, but my favorite are these jars with various items in them. Decorative and functional. Exactly what you need in your creative studio.

odds and ends storage

On top of the cabinet is a big basket for storing Styrofoam.

styrofoam storage

And to the right is my thread storage.

thread storage

Which takes me to this wall of the room.

desk in the craft studio

Another window (oh, the light!), and my desk. This is actually my childhood desk from back home. To the left is cube storage with baskets. They hold all kinds of random surfaces to craft with. Lots of good stuff going on there. In the drawers of the desk I have a drawer filled with glue guns, and a drawer with my metal stamping (you can check those out in the video above). The desk itself is well decked-out.

notes and buttons

Lots and lots of buttons I’ve collected from people at different events, and a beautiful row of Expressionery Stamps. But I’m about to run out of space (yikes!), so I’ll need to figure out a new solution soon.

Over the desk I have an IKEA lamp that has been converted to work as a camera holder to do overhead video. I’ve used it a couple times… and I love it! I need to do more with this.

over the head video

Continuing counter-clockwise around the room is this giant wall of storage.

lots of creative storage

I have a giant IKEA unit with baskets and bins for holding everything. And lots of room on top for scrapbook storage.

scrapbook storage

And a little room for some decor. But it is functional. Ribbon storage, odds and ends of floral in a large vase, and lots of washi tape in a large jar.

decorative storage

To the right is a tall IKEA shelf which I call my “Tower of Power”. One of the challenges of living in a house built in the 1950’s is the “charming” electrical. Our last house was built in 2007, and had two outlets on each wall. This room has 3 outlets in the whole room. Only one has ground. The other two outlets each have only one working socket. That means I have a lot of extension cords running behind furniture! Having all these appliances near the doorway is also helpful for the family – they can print to the printer, and don’t have to wade through a messy craft room to get their printout.

creative storage space

On top are some smoothfoam half-spheres for an upcoming project, and a wine rack holding rolls of vinyl. Then a rack with paper. Then my Silhouette. Then my HP Envy. Then the Sizzix eClips2, Laminator for Thermoweb Deofoils, and my laptop, then (hidden in this photo), the Sizzix Fabi and my Samsung Laser printer, and finally the Accuquilt Go! and a case of paper. Whew! Lots and lots going on in the “tower of power”. Let’s move to the right…

design wall

You see my design wall, which is hidden behind the door when the door is open. Above it I have some ribbons I’ve won. The red one is a recent win from 2015. The two ribbons on the left are actually from a pie-baking contest. That’s right, I’m an award-winning baker and an award winning quilter!

Next to the design wall is my scissors storage. You can make one yourself with this tutorial, and it is crazy useful.

scissors holder

This whole wall is super colorful and busy.

wall of creativity

Next to the scissors storage is a bookshelf that has (from the bottom up), mason jars, block printing and adhesive, paint, a sewing box, and a bulletin board. The bulletin board is from my wedding – we made it to hold place cards for guests almost 10 years ago, and it is still going strong!

The shelf is actually in a doorway – that goes to the half bath. But, we don’t need that entrance to the bathroom, and it is the perfect place for me to have a shelf.

paint in color order

To the right of the shelf is a quilt rack with quilts in various stages of completion. The bottom has a basket with more projects. To the right of that are the closet doors – which double as a quilt wall for mini quilts. Some of these I’ve made, and some are from friends and swaps. I love this use of space!

quilt wall

Inside the closet is more stuff! Lots of fabric, sorted by type and color, and more craft and quilt storage up top. There is a lot going on in here, but it doesn’t have to be picture-perfect, because I like to keep the closet doors closed.

fabric storage

That’s the craft room! Scroll back up to the top to check out the video, if you haven’t already, I chat in more detail about a lot of the items you’ll see in this room. And if you’d like to see more fun creative spaces, check out the other craft room tours over at The Country Chic Cottage.

Cranberry-Orange Scones

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MeAndMyTea #CollectiveBias

Happy New Year! Have you made New Year’s Resolutions, decided on a word of the year, or started a new workout routine? The new year is a great excuse to make some changes in your life… like taking some time for you, and getting more organized!

Orange Cranberry Scones - and Printable Daily Schedule at Always Expect Moore

Those are two of my goals for this year – getting more organized, and stopping to take time for me. Starting off the morning right is the best way to get my whole day set up for success – and so does sitting down with a bite to eat, and a hot cup of my favorite Bigelow Tea.

I made these Orange Cranberry Scones, and a daily plan printable – both pair great with my tea as I take a few minutes to fuel myself for the day, and square away my plans. You can grab the daily plan printable here (I like printing them half-sheet size by printing two to a sheet)… and now let me share the recipe for these delicious scones!

Orange Cranberry Scones

4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup dried cranberries
zest from one large orange

ingredients for orange cranberry scones

You can find these ingredients, and the delicious Lemon flavored Bigelow Tea, all at Walmart.

buy Bigelow tea at Walmart

Start by mixing the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in cubes of the room-temperature butter.

butter gets mixed in

Mix until the mixture looks like loose sand. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl, or the mixer blade, several times.

mixed with butter

Add the sugar, milk, sour cream, and egg.

Mix in dried cranberries and orange zest until combined.

mix in cranberries

Roll out dough onto a floured surface, to about 1″ deep

cut into wedges

Cut dough into 8 rectangles, then cut each rectangle in half. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper, and bake for 350 degrees for 20 minutes.bake scones

Now it is time for some tea! Pour hot water into a mug, and allow your tea bag to steep. I like mine with sugar and honey.

I grabbed my printable, and planned out my day… and colored it in while I was at it.

coloring page daily planning sheet

It makes the day so much easier to start it out with a plan! And I love this version, because it allows me to make a list of what I’d like to get done, and then plan it out on the printable. Setting aside blocks of time to get things done in is a realistic way to plan out a schedule. And not scheduling every minute – making sure to leave some “margin” room between and around events helps give a buffer.

color in and plan page

I hope you make it a great day!

getting ready for the day

Go learn more about Bigelow Teas here, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Holiday Card Checklist

Whether you’ve sent out Holiday Cards every year since you moved out of the house, you’re a lapsed sender, or this is your first time doing a holiday mass mailing, this holiday card checklist will get you from start to finish in sending out your cards!

Christmas-Card-Checklist

If you would like some of my favorite tips – I love picking out a fun return address stamp. I’m addicted to these stamps from Expressionery. They sent me a new one that is especially for the holidays. There were so many options to choose from – but the trees were my favorite!expressionery-stamps-makes-

The return address stamps are a great way for kids to help with cards. Make sure they have a hard surface under each envelope, show them how to line up the stamp, and let them have fun!

kids can help stamp envelopes

When it comes time to address envelopes, give yourself an uninterrupted evening. Put on a holiday movie you love, grab your favorite after-dinner beverage, and relax as you write the names addresses of each of your friends on your Holiday Cards.

addressing envelopes

After you’ve stuffed the envelopes with your holiday card and witty Christmas Letter, it is time to seal those envelopes! My favorite way to seal the envelopes is with a glue stick. No licking envelopes, and they’re sealed shut on the first try!

use a glue stick to seal the envelope

I hope you enjoy sending Christmas Cards to your family and friends. And if you need an idea of what to do with all the cards you get, here is my holiday card book idea.

Babysitter Information Sheet

At the end of last year, I shared a Date Night book over on 30 Minute Crafts. The other half of date nights is babysitters. So, I came up with this simple babsitter information sheet to help keep date night fun and stress free!

babysitter's info sheet

Simple Babysitter info sheet

babysitter contact sheet word doc: https://app.box.com/s/9avk8jbb1imfef2tzsni

babysitter contact sheet pdf: https://app.box.com/s/nkdlmgqyrqnf4l8t9eyj

Craft Room Tour

It has been less than a year since I moved into my new craft space, though it feels like longer. We’ve lived in this house for almost seven years, and my craft room has been in three different rooms. This is the second time I’ve had my craft room in this room! Before moving into this room, I shared a space with my husband. We had a Craft Room/Man Cave combo. Which is like a sewing room with a flat screen TV and an extra desk. But as I’ve done more and more blogging (and more and more crafting), it became apparent that I needed my own dedicated space. Space where I could close the door to keep children away from projects in progress. And a room where my husband didn’t have to constantly see the mess that projects in progress look like! So, I moved into this room, and have been getting settled ever since.

Always Expect Moore Craft Room Tour

Several months ago, Angie from The Country Chic Cottage asked some blogging friends if we’d like to join her in a big craft room tour. I thought it was the perfect excuse to get my craft room done. Because nothing helps to get work completed like a looming deadline, right? And since the deadline was MONTHS away, I had plenty of time, right? I did get some work done each month, and although the room isn’t perfect (I don’t know if it ever will be?) it is presentable, and that’s really what I was shooting for.

So, if you’re on the Craft Room Tour, and you popped in from the last stop over at Mad In Crafts, Welcome! If this is your first stop, you can go to the beginning of the tour, or you can enjoy this post and click on the link at the end to go to the next stop on the tour.

So, ready to take a peek into my space? Let’s get started! When you first walk into the room, you’ll see my main crafting area right in the middle.

crafting area

This is a dining room table I bought at a furniture outlet. It is super sturdy, and gives me plenty of room for my large cutting mat. It is more-or-less centered underneath the large window. If you go back and look at the first picture, you’ll see that the window has a very… um… interesting valence. The valence that is there is the old sports-themed valence from when this was my son’s room. I have plans to switch it out. It is covered by the blinds, which are tucked up. That’s because my son cut the cord from the blinds, so they no longer function properly. Instead of blinds, I have a plain piece of cotton covering the window. This does a great job of diffusing the light when I take craft photos in this room on bright days. On cloudy days, I just flip it up over the valence, and out of the way.

sewing machine

On one side of the craft table is my sewing machine. This is a Bernina 710, and she is brand new. I’m loving playing with this new machine! On the sewing side of the table is a tall unit with small bins that hold various projects in progress. On top of it is a fabric bin that currently holds two quilts that need quilting.

On the other side of the table is my laptop. That’s where I’m sitting right now as I write this!

large shelving in craft room

You might notice that I have aprons tied to both my chairs. I love both these aprons, but never wear them – this way they get a little use, I can enjoy them, and they are close at hand if I ever need them!

Behind the sewing machine is a large shelving unit that I bought at IKEA about a decade ago. I love this shelving unit! It is sturdy enough to have made it through several moves, and has been used in lots of different ways. Currently, it holds lots and lots of craft supplies! On top of this unit are a bunch of wreaths, and two smaller units filled with scrapbooking supplies.

large shelving unit

The cubbies are somewhat organized. The far right cubby holds all my adhesives and glues, the next has kids’ crafting supplies (like pom poms and pipecleaners) in the wipes box, and the last two hold books and binders.

baskets in craft shelving unit

The bottom cubbies have baskets filled with supplies. From back to front: Duck Tape, Therm-o-Web, and Mason Jars.

The other side of the room is just as stuffed!

quilt wall

I have a large rod with batting hung on it. Right now the batting is all tucked up, but when I need it, I unpin it from the top, and spread it out to make a design wall for quilting. To the right of the batting is a mini quilt I made, and to the left are my paint storage racks. Jessica from Mad in Crafts had paint storage racks like these that her dad made for her. I showed the post to my mom, and asked her to make me some! I love how it frees up drawer space, and adds color to the walls!

Over on the right you’ll see another tall shelving unit.

cabinet

Inside are various sewing notions, buttons, ribbons, and more. It looks nice and neat when the doors are closed.

Next to that is my ironing board.

ironing board

The ironing board never comes down. The mechanism for holding it up broke, so I tied it in place with a shoelace (true story). Now it stays up permanently. Which is fine – it gets a lot of use.

Behind it is a quilt rack. It is actually a piece from the crib we no longer use, and the slats are perfect for hanging quilts. Most of these are waiting for something – borders or quilting.

To the left of the ironing board is another shelving unit.

craft shelf

On top are some mason jars filled with pens, pencils, and paintbrushes. And a bowl filled with more odds and ends. In the unit are all kinds of things – clay, styrofoam balls, dowels, maps, flower stems… even some mini pizza boxes! Most of the items in here are things that I hope to use in a craft project one day. It is like a mini hoarding unit. At the bottom you’ll see my serger tucked away.

To the left of that is my comfy chair.

sitting chair

I bought this chair about 15 years ago at a thrift shop. It was covered in yellow velvet, and all the wood was painted black. I stripped off the paint, and re-upholstered it. On the chair are a couple pillows. I made the one on the left as a child. The one on the right was a gift at my Modern Quilt Guild Meeting. Under the chair are a few bags of fabric – all the fabric in these bags has deadlines. There is a quilt, and some projects for upcoming classes at the quilt shop.

Behind the chair is a large bolt of batting, and a bolt of upholstery fabric. Also bags and embroidery hoops hanging from a mirror. To the left of the chair are two more storage bins. The one on the bottom holds embroidery and yarn. The top holds denim squares for a jeans quilt I want to make. Someday.

That brings us to the closet. I’ve been quilting since I was 12, so I have a decent fabric stash. That needs some organization. Ugh! Above the fabric, on the shelves, are boxes filled with stamping supplies.

right side of closet

On the left side of the closet are boxes with UFOs (that is Un-Finished Objects for you non-quilters) on the bottom, and bins with jewelry making supplies on the top, and a bin with my glue guns on top of that.  Also hanging in the closet are more quilt tops. Some need quilting, some just need binding.

left side of closet

Above the closet I have two long dowels of ribbon. I used to have my ribbon in a giant, messy box. This makes it so much easier to find the ribbon I need for a project.

storage solutions

On the right you’ll see a similar solution for washi tape, and underneath the washi tape holder, my scissors pocket storage, which was one of my early blogging tutorials, and I still love.

Partially in front of the closet is a small rolling table. On top is my Silhouette, and a bin of supplies for upcoming projects – reviews for Craft Test Dummies and some more Easter crafting I’m hoping to get done. The top of this table is often used for craft projects. One side is white, and the other side is black chalkboard. I can just flip over the table top if I want a different background.

craft cart

All that leaves us is the area over by the door that we came in!

behind the door

Behind the door are a few mini quilts – the top one uses the Laser Cut Applique, and the bottom one is from the improv piecing class I took. To the left is a ribbon-crossed black bulletin board. I made this for my wedding, and it held all the seating cards. Now it holds all kinds of little treasures! On the left is a tall brown cabinet, on top of which is my AccuQuilt Go! and a rack with my quilting rulers. The drawers hold extra paint, RIT dye, fabric, and other odds and ends. To the right of the cabinet, leaning up against it, are canvases, extra cutting mats, and trays that I use as backgrounds when taking tutorial photos. Leaning up against the wall is extra cardboard for crafting.

WHEW! We made it all around the room… almost! There’s one spot we haven’t looked yet!

under table storage

This is under my table! I have shelves that hold projects, binders, and all my fat quarters of fabric. It keeps them accessible, but away from the sun that might make the fabric fade. To the left of this unit are my two older sewing machines. They are no longer used on a regular basis – but I like to have them handy.

I cram a whole lot of stuff into a relatively small space. That’s what happens when you’ve been crafting and sewing for as long as I have… and when you hate letting things go! While getting this room all spiffed up to show you, I did manage to fill one large box with craft supplies that I’ll be mailing off to a family member. I can’t keep everything forever… it is good to purge every now and then! … just don’t tell my husband I said that, or he’ll encourage me to purge a lot more often. I’m not sure I’m ready for that…

Thanks for joining in today! To continue on to the next crafty space on the tour, go check out Amy at The Idea Room.

Organize 2014: Tips for Using a Paper Planner

Tips for Using a Paper Planner

This is the last day of this week’s cleaning and organizing series that Angie from The Country Chic Cottage, Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage, and I put together. I hope you’ve enjoyed it! In case you missed any of the posts, I shared my New Year’s Resolution Printable, Thoughtful Kit, Simple Expense Sheet, and Christmas Card Book.

As a blogger, I spend a lot of my time online. Either on the computer or on my phone, I have a lot of screen time in the average day. So you might think that I use a digital calendar as well. But I don’t. I’m a big fan of my paper planner for staying organized. A paper planner will never run out of batteries, you don’t have to wait for it to load, I can check it even when my phone has no signal, and can be customized however I like. Based on years of paper planner use, here are my tips… feel free to add your own in the comments!

1. Put it all in one place
The kids’ school schedules, your work schedule, hubby’s work hours, sports, clubs, appointments, guests, holidays – keep it all in one place. You want to know at a glance what is going on, and where.

2. Use a pencil
I always have a mechanical pencil tucked into the spiral spine of my paper planner, and another in my purse as back-up. Plans change, things come up, and using a pencil helps my planner to stay as flexible as I am.

3. Use the monthly view for events
Most paper planners have a 2-page spread that shows a whole month. I use this to write in events. This includes everything listed in #1.

4. Use the weekly view for tasks, lists, and notes
Most paper planners also have a 2-page spread that shows each week. If you’re very busy or are juggling multiple schedules, you might use these pages for more detailed planning. When I have a busy day or week, I will plan it out on these pages. However, most of the time they’re great for other uses. I jot down grocery lists, errands that need to be run, to-do lists, and notes from phone calls or brainstorming sessions. This keeps all my lists handy and archived for later reference.

5. Mark your page
Nothing is more frustrating than having to flip through the calendar to find the right page. Use a big binder clip or large rubber band to secure all the pages on the left. This makes it easy to flip to the current month’s calendar view, but still keeps past months handy for reference.

6. Tuck in important pages
Coupons or newsletters from your favorite stores, your envelope for this month’s receipts, and other important papers can be tucked into the secured left side of your planner. That way you always have your JoAnns or Michaels coupon handy if you make an impromptu stop at the craft store.

7. Use the back pages for future planning
When dates come up that are further in the future than your planner goes, use the pages in the back to start a list of these dates – weddings, parties, school holidays and other events can be listed on a single page. When you buy your planner for the next year, you’ll already have a list of the important dates that need to be transferred over.

8. Keep a master calendar
I carry my planner with me, but I’m not the only one in my family who needs to know what is going on. Each month, I copy my planner onto a large dry-erase board in our kitchen. This is a great reminder for me, letting me know what we have planned for the month, and is a great at-a-glance reference for my husband and kids.

These are my tricks for keeping my calendar organized… keeping me from missing appointments, double-booking or over-scheduling my life. If you have tricks that work for you, please add them in the comments!

I buy a spiral-bound paper planner from the store each year, but there are lots of great printable calendars available online that you can print out and pop into a 3-ring binder if that works better for you. Check out these great printable planners:

Monthly and Weekly 2014 Planner Pages from The Handmade Home

Monthly Calendar Pages from I Heart Naptime (she also has matching Family Planner pages)

Monthly Calendar Pages from TomKat Studio (these are B&W so no need for colored ink!)

Monthly Calendar Pages from Oh So Lovely (5 different color/pattern options to choose from)

What’s in Season Monthly Calendar Pages (also shows you the fruits and veggies that are in season each month)

Monthly Pages from Kate & Trudy (also available: Daily, weekly, and Monthly for a fee)

2014 Monthly Calendar Pages from Elli

Monthly Calendar Pages from The Shabby Creek Cottage

Editable Monthly Pages from A Typical English Home (you can type in your birthdays/holidays before printing)

Monthly Calendar Pages from 30 Handmade Days (she also has a family planner and kid accountability binders)

Monthly Calendar with Family Events Printable Labels

Perpetual Monthly Calendar from SITS Girls

Monthly Perpetual Calendar from Nina’s Design Studio

Monthly Calendar pages from Landeelu (designed to not use a ton of ink)

 

Other planners you might like:

Printable Blog Planner from My Joy Filled Life (costs $4.99)

Life Planning Binder from DIY Home Sweet Home (just about any page you’d ever want)

Monthly Blog Planner from Infarrantly Creative (she also has a lesson planner and stay-at-home mom planner)

Cute To-Do List from Idlized

Organizing Holiday Cards: Christmas Card Book

Holiday Card Storage Book

Every year as I take down my holiday decorations, I take down the display of Christmas Cards, put them in a pile, and want to DO something with them. I love getting Christmas Cards each year (and I love sending them out, too), but after the season is over, I have no way to store them… until now! Several years ago I saw a similar idea to bind Christmas Cards into a book that can be enjoyed for years… and thanks to the inspiration brought on by this week of cleaning and organizing that I’m hosting with Angie from The Country Chic Cottage and Gina from the Shabby Creek Cottage, I have my First Annual* Christmas Card Book!

Holiday Cards

chipboard book coversTo make your own Christmas Card Book you need:
Chipboard Covers (with rings)
Mod Podge Hard Coat
Washi Tape (optional)
Scissors
Paintbrush
Hole Punch
Pen or Pencil
Ribbons (optional)
All your Holiday cards from this year
The Card you sent out this year
Your holiday letter (optional) shrunk down to size

I started by Mod Podging my card to the front cover. It was a little bigger than the cover size I chose. I could always go with a bigger cover, but I liked this size. After Mod Podging the card on, I just trimmed off the excess.

Mod Podge onto Chipboard

I had some of the chipboard showing over on the side where the holes were. I could have just left that part plain, but it felt… well… too plain. So I covered it up with some Washi Tape. Then I put Mod Podge over the washi tape to really secure it – Washi Tape has a habit of becoming un-stuck over time, and I want this book to really last.

Washi Tape and Mod Podge

I used the back cover as a template to mark where the holes needed to go on the cards.

Use cover as template

Then punched holes in the cards. I had fun with this part. I knew some of the cards were going to stick out – so I embraced it. I let cards stick out on the top, bottom, and right. Not all the cards are perfectly centered. I think it adds to the fun.

punch holes in card

I always think it is a shame that I don’t store a copy of our holiday letter somewhere. Sure, I could look it up on the computer, but what fun is that? I shrunk down our holiday letter to 60% so that it would fit on the back cover, then Mod Podged it in place. I used Mod Podge Hard Coat because I find it dries less tacky, and that will keep it from sticking to the cards as it goes into storage for the next 11 months or so.

Christmas Letter shrunk down

Once my covers were dry, I put it all together. For a little extra flair, I tied ribbons to the rings.

Store and Organize Christmas Cards in a cute book

I’m looking forward to keeping up this tradition each year, creating volumes of Christmas Cards from all of our family and friends that we can look back at.

 

*Yes, I know “First Annual” isn’t an actual “thing”. But I’m ok with that.

Organizing 2014: Simple Expense Sheet

Happy New Year! I’m ringing in the New Year with something super thrilling – expenses. Okay, maybe not super thrilling, but very much needed. Last year, I had little slips of paper spilling out of my wallet, my purse, glovebox… all over the place! I decided to fix this problem for 2014, and while I’m at it I thought I’d share my solution with you. Because all this week Angie from The Country Chic Cottage, Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage and I are sharing cleaning and organizing tips!

Simple Expense Sheet

The expense sheet is super simple to use. Just tape it to the front of a 9×12 envelope. Tuck the Envelope in your purse. Each receipt gets recorded on the front, then tucked in the envelope. I can quickly enter all the receipts for a month, trip, or other time period into my bookkeeping software, and all my little slips of paper stay put!

If you want to print off your own simple expense sheet, you can find it here.

Come back tomorrow for another great tip to make 2014 your most organized year yet… I promise it’ll be a whole lot more fun than this one!

Organizing 2014: A Thoughtful Kit

About 4 years before I had my first kiddo, a co-worker told me that I was going to be a great mom. She had three little boys, and judged my mom-ness on my ability to focus on the details – baking Halloween cookies from scratch (and frosting them with scratch-made frosting), sending out cards and notes for special occasions big and small, and always wearing a clean shirt. As she said it I remember thinking that I had time for all of these things because I wasn’t a mom. And I was right. Although I get the clean-shirt thing down most days, I don’t have the time to do all the little things I used to. And I want to fix that. This Thoughtful Kit is one step towards a more organized 2014. And since I’m getting together with Angie from The Country Chic Cottage and Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage this week to share cleaning and organizing tips, I thought I’d share this with you today.

Make a Thoughtful Kit

Before Facebook and Twitter, I actually sent out notes to people. Fun cards with a little note inside – nothing fancy, but always appreciated. Just because we have the electronic means to greet our friends doesn’t mean we have to forget the personal touches, right? This little bag has everything in it to whip out a quick note to a friend, celebrating a success, sharing a fun thought, or just because.

Here’s what goes into a Thoughtful Kit:

1. Some kind of folder or pouch to hold everything. Once filled, this will get tucked in the car so I can easily write a note while waiting at school to pick up the kiddo, or if the baby has fallen asleep on the way to the grocery store. Being organized will help me take advantage of these formerly lost moments.
2. Cards. I have a wide variety here, but the basics are Thank You notes, Birthday Cards, and cards that are blank inside.
3. Pens. Because you never have one handy when you need one.
4. Extra envelopes. Each of my cards has a corresponding envelope, but sometimes you find a magazine article that you want to tear out and mail, or find something at the store you want to send, or you want to mail off some photos (there is something awesome about printing off and mailing a photo versus texting it, don’t you think?).
5. Stamps. Because you can’t mail without them, and having them handy is key.
6. Address Book. If you have all your addresses saved in your phone, you can skip this part. I’m not that fancy. I keep an old-school address book. Actually, I have more than one. This mini one fits perfectly in my Thoughtful Kit.

TIP: Grab all the envelopes from the Christmas Cards you were sent, and double-check the return addresses for any updates so you can have an updated Address Book. If any of the cards you sent out come back returned, update the address in your address book right away so you never have to second-guess yourself when sending out a card!

7. Optional Stuff. I like to have fancy seals or stickers for sealing envelopes. If you use return address labels, tuck those in. Maybe you like sparkly pens or tucking a little confetti inside your cards… tuck that stuff all inside your Thoughtful Kit so you’ll have it ready to go!

What to put in a thoughtfulness kit

Now I’m organized and ready for a super-thoughtful 2014!

Oh, and in case you’re stuck for how to write a thank you note, I wrote a little post on how to write a thank you note that should help you out!