Fat Quarter Shop Sew Sampler Unboxing

Do you love quilting? And unboxing videos? Well then … this is for you! Because I’m unboxing the Fat Quarter Shop Sew Sampler Box! This is the June 2020 box, and it is extra special to me because I’m included in the box!

Well, not me personally. I don’t ship very well, truth be told. But, a very special product that is near and dear to my heart is included in the box. Watch the video and I’ll show you…

As I mentioned in the video, the Sew Sampler box is currently on a waitlist, but you can get on the waitlist by following this affiliate link to the Fat Quarter Shop Sew Sampler Box.
If you’re interested in getting your own Spot on Dot set, they are for sale at the Fat Quarter Shop as well using this link.

Sewing Studio Reveal

Even before we moved to social isolation and stay-at-home orders, I had a crazy thought. What if we swapped my sewing studio with the master bedroom? And when my friend Cheryl asked if I’d like to join in her annual Spring Clean your Studio Blog Hop, the idea really started to take hold – ne sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to check out the links of everyone else participating in the sewing room spring cleaning challenge!

We live in a 1950s bungalow in San Diego. It is less than 1200 square feet, which was an adjustment when we moved here five years ago from our 2400 square foot new construction home in Las Vegas.

The largest room was the master bedroom, and also had my husband’s desk and computer. The children like to play video games on his computer, which means they’re often in my bedroom when I’m looking for a quiet place to relax. And my office space wasn’t large enough for me to keep my filming lights or tripod up. So as soon as I was done with a video, I had to pull them down or risk tripping all over the legs and cords.

Before moving all the things between the two rooms, I did some measuring to make sure that our bedroom furniture would fit in the new master bedroom. I graphed everything out on graph paper to check the layout. It would be snug, but it would work. Armed with this information, I asked my husband what he thought. He shrugged and said that it did not matter to him. That was all the encouragement I needed!

I’ve shared my sewing space in the past. I move things around as my needs change. You can see past versions here (2018) and here (2016) and here (2014). And here is what it looked like before moving things over. That ironing board is overflowing with … stuff!

It took a full day to move all the furniture and other stuff between the two rooms. The table in the sewing room had to be taken apart. As did the bed. The two doorways were right across from each other, which made some of the logistics easier. However, things had to be done in the right order to make space for the new things that were coming in. At the end of the day it was all moved… but a complete mess.

I spent the next week working my way through the mess. I still had deadlines and commitments to work on, so I needed functional space. The first area that was made functional was the filming desk. It also works as a computer desk, in a pinch.

Because I was doing video meetings, I wanted to have a nice backdrop, so installing everything in this area was important. The background is very similar to what I had in my last space. There is a small cabinet against the wall on the left, with a sugar mold and shelf, and some of my mini quilts. To the right, I added a quilt rack that my mother found for me several years ago. I haven’t had it up in the house for quite a while, and was excited for it to get some use again.

I also love sitting in this space because I have a view of the Clementine tree in the backyard while I sit there. My old room faced the street, so I always had the windows covered for privacy. I’m loving this new view!

Maybe I should wash the windows so I can truly enjoy it?

Because of the extra space, I’m able to keep those big filming lights up all the time. This will be such a time saver when I just want to film a quick video!

And when I’m on camera, I’ll have a fun and colorful backdrop behind me.

A few things in the background that you may enjoy … On the top left, you’ll see the spool holder that was a gift from my mom. Below that, to the right of the heart letter board, you’ll see eight circles. These are from the sewing machine that I learned on, and controlled the decorative stitches.

Below the shelf, you’ll see my Baby Lock Jubilant. I’m an Influencer for Baby Lock, and I’ve named my Jubilant “Saturday.” To the right, in the middle of the photo you’ll see the nesting baskets from the pattern that I just launched. The quote on my laptop is from Gilmore Girls and says “If you’re going to throw your life away, he better have a motorcycle!”

Also, if you look at the very top, you’ll see a spot where one of my ribbons is missing. I finished this wall up the morning that I did my Facebook Live Trunk Show, and one of the ribbons fell down during the live! I still have to put it back up.

And, below the tabletop is the entrance to our bomb shelter. Yes, you read that right – this house was built in the 1950s and the original owners added a bomb shelter to the house. We did go down there once you can watch the video here.

On the left, I installed two large Ikea pegboards for all of my quilting rulers. I have a decent-sized collection, and keep adding to them. I also have my threads, and my glittered deer head which is a nod to my friend Beth Kingston from The Kingston Home.

Above the filming table, you’ll see my camera. I have it clamped on a mount that can move in all directions – but is great for filming overhead when I want video of my hands.

To the right, I have a large frame that I picked up at a yard sale years ago to turn into a design wall. Above the design wall I have an old letter tray that was in my childhood bedroom. In the letter tray are Lego Minifigures that I’ve collected.

Moving to the left is my ironing table. I have a beautiful large ironing table that is perfect for pressing whole quilt tops. I haven’t added decor to the walls yet, just a small design board that is a large canvas covered in batting. On this design board you can see blocks from the Quilty 5k and from the Ruler of the Month.

To the left again is my desk. Actually, there is a corner that is being used as storage. I have bins of paints, glue, old projects, and other items that need to be stored. Also, a wooden cabinet with a small TV on top. This TV gets plugged into my camera when I use a second camera angle, so I can see what the camera is filming.

I have my Cricut Maker on the desk, the laptop I use for school, paints and tools, my podcasting mic, and one of the projects I am working on.

This wall in the room is a dark mustard color. It isn’t my favorite at all. I had painted the other room a beautiful silver-blue that I loved, and so moving to a room with mustard walls is a bummer. I’m sure I could paint these walls eventually – but I’m not ready to take that on just yet!

I am working on putting together a miniature sewing room. Funny that I’m fixing up my actual sewing room while creating a minature sewing room, right?? If you want to learn about the mini sewing room kit, I have a Youtube Video where I go into all the details.

So far I have done the basic furniture assembly and the wall assembly. I still need to tuck away the wires from the lamp, and then I’ll start customizing – adding my own details to the project!

For anyone who wants to get their own mini sewing room, you can find the Amazon affiliate link here: https://amzn.to/39Y5sLQ

To the left of the desk is my sewing space. This is a dining room table that I got at a steep discount because it had a scratch in the top. The scratch is always covered by a cutting mat, so I never notice it! This table is in the middle of the room. In front of the table is a large reclining chair, bookshelves, my husband’s desk, and a large TV. I can see the TV while I sit here and sew, which is lovely. And when my kids are playing computer games, I’m in here with them.

Right now I’m taking a break from mask sewing to try to finish up these pineapple blocks. They are the next Ruler of the Month pattern and I can’t wait to share with you how I set these blocks!

Also, you’ll see my Baby Lock Aria. I love sewing on this machine! Her name is “Sunday.” And if you caught the name of my Jubilant, you’ll see why I say “I only sew on Saturday and Sunday!”

Turn to the left again, and you’re back where you started in the filming space.

I made the marbled canvas quote art several years ago, and it is a great reminder.

Below the quote art I hang all of my Cricut mats, and over the mats is a piece of wooden lattice which I use for storing all my Art Gallery Fabrics selvedges. I’m a proud AGF Sewcialite, and I love collecting the selveges from each fabric that I cut into!

To the right of the art, you’ll see a peek into the closet. That was just moved over yesterday. Moving the closet and making the rest of the space ready for taking photos was a full day of hard work. The closet isn’t at all camera ready, but I’ll show you a peek inside. Because we’re friends now, right?

Eventually, I’ll tidy and organize this as well. But a closet’s job is to be functional rather than pretty. So, as long as I’m able to find what I need without things falling on me, I think I won’t worry about this space too much for now. Too many projects are calling to me!

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this peek of my messy floor in my filming space that I shared earlier this week.

Well, I took a little time to clean the floor and also organize the green bins that were overflowing. They each have different kinds of supplies – clay, paper, wood, party, holiday … simple supplies that are good to have close by. But only if I can find what I need! So I went through them to see what was there and make it fit nicer.

Well, there you go – a full tour of my new sewing studio! I hope you enjoyed seeing my new space. I am so glad I’ve got it all set up and organized. An organized space feels so good to step into, don’t you think?

If you’d like to see the others in the blog tour, check out the links below!

April 1 – Sam Hunter – http://www.hunterdesignstudio.com
April 2 – Marian Pena – http://www.seamstobesew.com
April 3 – Jennifer Fulton – http://www.inquiringquilter.com/questions
April 4 – Martha Wolf – http://Www.pinwheelprodns.com
April 5 – Jennifer Strauser – http://www.dizzyquilter.com
April 6 – Steph Carton – http://www.theelimonster.com/blog
April 7 – Simone Fisher – http://www.simonequilts.com/blog
April 8 – Kate Colleran – http://www.seamslikeadream.com
April 9 – Carlina Moore – http://www.alwaysexpectmoore.com
April 10 – Jen Frost – http://www.faithandfabricdesign.com/blog
April 11 – Leanne Parsons – http://www.devotedquilter.com
April 12 – Becca Fenstermaker – http://www.prettypiney.com/blog
April 13 – Sarah Myers – http://www.quilted-diary.com
April 14 – Mitzi Redd – http://www.reddhomestead.com
April 15 – Jeanette Larson – http://www.Jenonthefarm.com
April 16 – Camille Ainsworth – http://www.stitchinthenw.com
April 17 – Becky Philips Jorgenson – http://www.patchworkposse.com
April 18 – Bobbie Gentili – http://www.geekybobbin.com/category/blog
April 19 – Janellea Macbeth – http://www.janelleamacbeth.com/blog/
April 20 – Lisa Ruble – http://lovetocolormyworld.blogspot.com
April 21 – Debra Davis – http://www.tuning-my-heart.com/blog
April 22 – Rona Herman – http://www.Ronatheribbiter.com
April 23 – Sue Griffiths – http://www.duckcreekmountainquilting.com
April 24 – Sarah Ruiz- http://www.saroy.net/
April 25 – Jessica Caldwell – http://www.desertbloomquilting.com/
April 26 – Tammy Silvers – http://tamarinis.typepad.com
April 27 – Ebony Love – http://www.lovebugstudios.com/blog
April 28 – Cheryl Sleboda – http://blog.muppin.com

Cricut Maker Block of the Week – Sizing Options

A couple years ago, I shared the Cricut Maker Block of the Week – 9 quilt blocks that you can make with your Cricut Maker, along with a blog and video series that show you how to make each block, how to connect them with sashing, how to add a border, how to quilt it, and how to bind it. All of this plus the files for cutting all the pieces was (and still is) 100% free!

The series was incredibly popular! I was asked if I could share more quilt blocks. And so I did. I made 9 more quilt blocks that you can cut with the Cricut Maker, and I shared the cut files and made videos for all the blocks.

Two years later, one of the most common questions I get asked is about making a larger quilt from these blocks. The original quilt (and the sequel) are just sampler quilts – each finishes at just 23 1/2″ x 23 1/2″. Barely enough to keep your lap warm, and not large enough to snuggle under! I’ve tried to answer the question on increasing the size in the comments of the YouTube Videos a couple times, but it is a fairly long answer (with some math on my part), and so I decided it was best to explain it all in its own post that can be referred to easily.

lay out the shoo fly block

The first part to understand when wanting to make the blocks into a larger quilt is that you can’t just make the blocks bigger. This is because each unit has a 1/4″ seam allowance. If you simply double each piece in size, they may not fit correctly. It would work okay (ish) for the 9-patch block. Each piece is 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″. When you stitch them all together into a quilt, each piece becomes 2″ x 2″ (because a 1/4″ seam allowance on all four sides is used), and the finished block is 6″. If you doubled these pieces, you’d expect a 6″ block to become a 12″ block, right? But you’d be wrong! If you doubled each unit to make them 5″ x 5″. In the quilt, each piece would be 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ – Making the block 13 1/2″ x 13 1/2″ in the finished quilt. Because the pieces are all equal-sized squares, they still fit together well. But if you tried that with some of the other blocks, you’d find that the pieces won’t fit together like the nice, neat puzzle pieces they were designed to be!

finished nine patch quilt block

So, if we wanted to re-size all the blocks, we’d have to subtract all the seam allowances first. Then we could re-size the units. And then we’d need to add back the seam allowances. Maybe one day I’ll take the time to do all that, but not at this point. It is a lot of work, and I have a long list of projects that I still want to make! Going back and adjusting old projects is not my favorite thing to do.

So instead, I’ve come up with two “cheat sheets” for how to turn these blocks into larger quilts. These are done with some rough math. So, while the sizing is perfect, the fabric requirements are not exact. If you buy the fabric listed in the fabric requirements, you should have plenty of fabric. Each 9-block mini quilt was made with five 1/3 yard cuts of fabric. So I used that same math – each nine blocks needs 1/3 yard of each of the five fabrics. However, you might be able to be more judicious with your cutting, and so you’ll likely have some fabric leftover at the end. You can always use this for backing or binding fabric if you like, or add it to your fabric stash.

If you scroll all the way down, you’ll find a link to download the PDF with both of these sizing documents.

This first cheat sheet shows you how many blocks you’ll need to make if you want to make a twin, full, queen, or king sized quilt without any sashing or borders. If you don’t cut the sashing and borders, you will have some extra fabric left over.

The second cheat sheet gives you the details for making blocks if you do want to add the sashing and a single border. You’d have to add all the horizontal sashing units between the blocks, and then piece together the vertical sashing units to stitch them between the rows. You’ll also need a few extra long sashing pieces to make up the length needed for those rows.

If you’d like to try out one of these larger quilts using the blocks from The Cricut Maker Block of the Week or The Cricut Maker Block of the Week the Sequel, then Click here to download the PDF cheat sheets that will help you with how many and how much fabric.

Square Dance with AGF Selva

Recently, I had the chance to play with one of Art Gallery Fabrics’ new lines, Selva. This fun, jungle inspired print was perfect for a quilt that I’d been bouncing around in my mind. Ever since I stitched up the “Square Dance” quilt for the Leisure Arts “Modern Patchwork” book, I’d been wanting to make a new version of the quilt.

This post contains affiliate links. You won’t be charged any extra, but I’ll make a small commission when you click these links.

If you want to make this quilt, you can get your copy of Modern Patchwork from Leisure Arts here. or you can find it on Amazon.

The original version of the quilt is stitched up in Art Gallery Fabrics solids, and quilted using straight-line quilting. And while I do love it, I wondered what it might look like using prints instead. So, when I got my hands on Selva, that is exactly what I did!

And then of course I had to pick an exotic spot to photograph it for the lookbook. I went with the Old Mission Dam in the Mission Trails park here in San Diego. It is just a short drive away, and the scenery is just so much fun!

Of course I brought with me all the tools I thought I’d need to style the quilt in the photos – pins, tape, string – but in all my planning I forgot about proper footwear! So, I was traipsing through the trails wearing my flip-flops.

Clearly, living in Southern California has absolutely gone to my head!

It was especially precarious as I was positioning the quilt for this shot. That water on the left is not my idea of a relaxing afternoon bath!

Of course I had to take a photo of the back of the quilt. I love a good pieced quilt back, when I have the time. And those AGF solids are so great for showing off the quilting!

I really had fun with the quilting on this piece. While straight-line walking foot quilting is fabulous, I love an excuse to put on the free motion foot and quilt! And none of these designs are super complex! Just lines, loops, and pebbles.

While I rarely make the same quilt more than once, I really loved taking a quilt that I had designed, and re-making it in a completely different way! It is so fun to see what a difference fabric choices make when putting together a quilt!

If you want to grab the Modern Patchwork book, you can get it from Leisure Arts here, or you can find it on Amazon.

Infusible Ink Book Bag

I’m super excited to share this project with you because it uses a brand new product, and I love playing with new craft supplies! This Infusible Ink Book Bag came together in about 30 minutes, and I just love how it turned out! I learned a few things about how to work with Infusible Ink, so keep reading for my tips!

If you haven’t heard of the new Cricut Infusible Ink, it is the latest product that they have launched. You can use it with any Cricut Machine, or you can play with the products without a Cricut if you like! You will need the Cricut Easypress – if you don’t own one of those yet, get the EasyPress II (mint or raspberry colored), and you may even consider upgrading to the larger size (I’ll explain why below).

To make your Infusible Ink Book Bag, you’ll need:

Cricut Infusible Ink
Cricut Infusible Ink Compatible Tote (a cotton or canvas tote will NOT work, it needs to be certain fibers to accept the ink transfer)
Cricut EasyPress
Lint Roller
Cricut Machine

The process works a lot like making an iron-on transfer. Make your design (you can grab my design by clicking here), mirror it, and then cut it out on the Infusible Ink setting.

You’ll notice that the ink looks very muted on the sheet. That is okay. The colors will pop when you add the heat. I promise!

While the sheet is being cut, you can prep your tote. Place a piece of paper inside to protect it, along with your EasyPress mat. Use a lint roller to clean off any lint. Place butcher paper over the top and give it a good pressing to heat away any moisture. Then allow it to cool.

While the tote is cooling, carefully peel away the negative space. It is like peeling a card stock sticker off of a sticker sheet. Use your fingers, go carefully. You don’t want to use a tool that can mar the ink or leave ink behind. Just bend and peel.

Place your image on your tote.

Cover the sheet with butcher paper, and then press. Here is where I noticed my first mistake. I should only have made the design as big as my EasyPress. Since this design is larger than the EasyPress, it would take multiple pressings. Each time you move the EasyPress, you slightly nudge the Infusible Ink sheet, and that leads to less crisp lines. Honestly, I think the finished result still looks fine (especially for a first try at using the product). But, if I were to do this again I would shrink the size of the design to the size of my EasyPress. Or, if I really wanted a large design, I would trim away some of the negative space so that I could use their heat resistant tape and really secure the design in place.

Once I was done with (multiple) heatings, and letting it cool as long as I could stand, I carefully lifted the butcher paper.

Once I lifted the Infusible Ink, I had a super professional looking tote! Yay!!

I’m very excited to play with the Infusible Ink some more … and to give you a chance to win some as well! Scroll down a little further to enter a chance to win an Infusible Ink Prize Pack of your own!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Learn How to English Paper Piece

I’m so excited to share with you my new book! It is called “Learn How to English Paper Piece,” and was written with Nancy’s Notions. Learn how to English Paper Piece is available on the Nancy’s Notions website so you can buy it now! And to celebrate, for the next two weeks some of my quilty friends are checking out the book to let you know what they think! Be sure to scroll down to check out all their posts about the book!

I’ve been a long-time EPP fan (that is English Paper Piecing for those of you not yet on a nick-name basis with this fun technique), and I was very excited when Nancy’s Notions asked me to write a book on the subject! One of my biggest frustrations with EPP is how long it can take to make a substantial project! To make a quilt out of 1″ hexagons can take YEARS. So this book is the opposite of that. Many of the projects in this book can be done in a single day, or even an afternoon. Even the quilt in the book could be completed in a weekend if you really put your mind to it! That makes for some EPP that is actually manageable, don’t you think?

I also want to send a huge THANK YOU to my friends at Riley Blake Fabrics who sent me all of the fabric featured in this book! Aren’t all these fabrics awesome?

You’ll learn how to English Paper Piece, as well as how to turn that EPP into a pillow, a pouch, a bag, a quilt, coasters, placemats, and more… check out all the fun projects in this video I put together about the book:

And if you’re new to English Paper Piecing, you can get the starter set that Nancy’s Notions put together on their website.

Books are amazing for sharing multiple patterns and projects along a theme, but if you are learning a new technique, it can be nice to have a person right in front of you showing you the basics. So I put together a simple video that shows you how to stitch together English Paper Pieced Hexagons. You can watch that here:

If you’d like to learn more about the book, over the next 2 weeks some of my quilty friends are sharing their thoughts! You can check out their thoughts on the book, what they plan to make, and even some finished projects made from the book!

Saturday, January 26th: Linda from Linda B Creative and Havalah from Sisters, What

Sunday, January 27th: Teresa from Sewn Up, Teresa Down Under and Stephanie from Modern Sewciety

Monday, January 28th: Jen from Faith and Fabric and Alicia from Sew What Alicia

Tuesday, January 29th: Sherry from Powered by Quilting and Marie from Underground Crafter

Wednesday, January 30th: Brooke from Brooklyn Berry Designs and Melody from Two Maker Chicks

Thursday, January 31st: Ali from Home Crafts by Ali and Sarah from Quilted Diary

Friday, February 1st: Bobbie from the Geeky Bobbin and Gemia from Phat Quarters

Saturday, February 2nd: Beth from Garland Girl Quilts and Bobbi from Snowy Days Quilting

Sunday, February 3rd: Kirsty from Bonjour Quilts and Simone from Charmed Life Quilting

Monday, February 4th: Aimee from Things Small and Simple and Mathew from Mister Domestic

Tuesday, February 5th: Kathy from Kathy’s kwilts and more and Kim from Stitched in Purple

Wednesday, February 6th: Audrey from the Cloth Parcel and Anorina from Samelia’s Mum

Thursday, February 7th: Laura from Slice of Pi Quilts and Lauren from Molly and Mama

Friday, February 8th: Sarah from Saroy and Stephanie from Swoodson Says


Cricut Maker Block of the Week: Week 13 – Binding the Mini Quilt

Today I’m sharing with you the very last step in the Cricut Maker Block of the Week: How to add the binding. While I do machine-stitch on my bindings on occasion, I was taught the “right” way to bind a quilt is to hand bind it.

Cricut Maker Block of the Week - Week 13 - Binding the Quilt

If you’ve followed along on this whole series, you know that I temper convention with practicality in my quilting. I have deep respect for our quilting traditions… but at the same time I believe that modern technology exists to make things easier. But there are times when I bow to tradition just because it is tradition. Binding is one of those instances.

If a quilt’s destiny is to hang out around the house, lay on floors, go through the wash many times, and generally be a utility quilt, then I absolutely machine bind it. Machine binding is more secure. It holds the binding in place very well. It is slightly less attractive because the stitching is visible on both sides of the quilt – but I give up that minor bit of beauty for the practicality of being finished quickly, and having a very strong binding.

For a “show quilt,” (a quilt that is going to hang at a quilt show), I always hand bind. A show quilt is my best work. It is me showing off my skills. I don’t want the stitching that secures the binding in place to be visible at all. Show quilts are meant to honor quilting traditions (even when pushing boundaries with color or composition). I show my deference for all the quilters who came before me with a well-bound quilt.

So today I’m showing you how to hand-bind your quilt. The binding is put on by machine, but the final stitching is done by hand. While it isn’t always my favorite part of the quilting process, I absolutely love the look.

Here is the step-by-step of getting the binding on your quilt!

This post contains affiliate links which help support this site at no extra cost to you.

Here are the Design Space files you’ll need to finish your quilt. You can use the scrappy binding cut file: http://shrsl.com/p5j4 Or the large binding strips cut file: http://shrsl.com/p5iz Use the first link if you are using the scraps left over from cutting out the blocks, sashing, and borders. If you don’t have enough fabric left to get 110” of binding from your scraps, buy ⅓ yard of a coordinating fabric to use for your binding, and then use the large binding strips cut file.

If you want to learn even more about binding, there is a great Binding series on Craftsy. You can check it out here: http://shrsl.com/p5jb

Here are links to supplies mentioned in the video. I’ve tried to give you two different places to find the supplies, so you can compare pricing. Cricut Maker Machine: http://shrsl.com/jv70 (on the Cricut site) http://amzn.to/2wWOPjf (on Amazon) Fabric: http://shrsl.com/jv99 (on the Cricut site) http://amzn.to/2f1AKuS (on Amazon) Fabric mat: http://shrsl.com/jv9c (on the Cricut site) Fabric pen: http://shrsl.com/jv9f (on the Cricut site) http://amzn.to/2xsaGAR (on Amazon) Clover Wonder Clips: http://amzn.to/2yNfY68 (on Amazon)

Bohemian Dyed Shirt

Bohemian Dyed Shirt

I absolutely love this shirt… and you’d never believe how easy it was to make! Adding all the tiny little circles was time consuming (if you plan to make one, grab your favorite movie and plan to spend 2-3 hours with a package of about 150 rubber bands), but so worth it! I started off with a great-fitting, comfy shirt… and ended up with a great-fitting, comfy and stylish shirt (winning)!

circles on the shirt

I dyed it using Pearl Gray dye, which is one of my favorite colors right now.  And you don’t need to be some fancy dye-master to get this look. Just time, rubber bands, and a good movie.

Check out the details on how I put it all together over on Rit Studio.

Goal Setting and New Year’s Resolutions

Do you set goals at the beginning of the year? Studies how that if you write your goals down, you’re more likely to achieve them. With that thought in mind, I created this free printable 2014 Goal Planner and Resolution Tracker as my kick-off post for this week-long organizing series. I’m teaming up with Angie from The Country Chic Cottage and Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage to share with you organizing tips. Each of us will share a new tip each day, and I thought I’d start out with big ambitions – by organizing the whole year!

Free Printable 2014 Goal Planner

I’ve created two versions of the Goal Planner and Resolution Tracker, one more planned out, and one wide open.

For the more planned out version of the Goal Planner and Resolution Tracker, there are two boxes at the top. These are for your word of the year and quote of the year. The large box underneath is for listing goals. The bottom box is to lay out more long-term goals.
The monthly boxes on the right can be used in a couple different ways. You can lay out monthly goals, or mini goals to help you achieve your larger goals. You can leave them blank for now and use them to track your progress towards your annual goals… up to you. This is just a tool for you to use as you plan and organize your ambitions for the year. In whatever way makes sense for you.

2014 overview monthly image

And, if you’re a more free-form person who wants to use the sheet in a different way, I have a plain version of the Goal Planner and Resolution Tracker for you. Use the mini boxes down the right for individual goals, or to measure progress in your own way large boxes in whatever way makes sense for you as you plan out your year!

2014 overview plain image

I’ll be back tomorrow and every day this week with more organizing tips. Make sure to check out what Angie and Gina are sharing today as well… they’ll have tips throughout the week as well, as we help you start off your 2014 more organized and with a plan in place!

The Internet Stole my Friends

I let the internet steal my friends

Warning: I don’t often get personal on this blog, but I’m about to get very, very personal.

People say that the internet has brought us closer. That the world is a smaller place. That because of the internet, people no longer feel alone.
People are liars. The internet has stolen my friends.

I have friends – the internet says so. I have half a dozen social media pages that tell me how many followers I have, how many friends, likes, shares, plusses… how many people I have in my circles. According to the internet, there are thousands of people who cared enough to press a button and make a connection. But there isn’t anyone to sit with me at my crumb-covered breakfast table to have coffee after sending the kids off to school?

I have some very close internet friendships. Crafters that I’ve met online, and later in person. Old friendships that have been maintained through wi-fi. These cyber pals have heard me pour my heart out through my keyboard as I worried about my pregnancies, my kids, moving, jobs, life… and all of them live more than an hour’s drive away. Too far for them to come over to give me a hug, or look me in the eye to see if I’m really doing okay. Too far for them to give me a high five …and too far for me to hold their hand when they go through loss. Too far for me to bring them a casserole or fold their towels. Too far for me to hold the baby while they take the first shower in over three days. Too far.

The internet has made me lazy. I’m able to make very simple connections with people too far away to touch. My friends are only a keyboard away, but we’re a world apart.

If I want to celebrate a victory, I can post it online, I can text, I can message, I can even call… but not a single one would be able to split the calories in a victory cupcake without adding the cost of postage. On my birthday I’ll get dozens of messages on my Facebook wall, as my social media profile reminds people it is my special day. But not a single one of those people will get a slice of birthday cake (though they may see an Instagrammed picture of my slice).

The internet has allowed me to be fake. It doesn’t matter how my day is going, I can still share a picture of my smiling kids, a flower in the yard, or what I’m having for breakfast. I can invite the world into my home without having to mop the floors, fold the laundry, or unpack the suitcases from our last trip. I can selectively share the perfect things, without exposing my internet friends to the baggage.

The internet has stolen my friends, and I have let it. It is up to me to fix it. It is my responsibility to step away from the keyboard, to forge real relationships with people who are able to walk by my side.

This doesn’t mean I’m breaking up with the internet, or the people in it. It is a wake-up call for me – time to find a better balance in the real world.

What about you – have you reached out and touched anyone lately?