Friday, August 11, 2017

Spring Break.

This monochromatic layout was created earlier this year on a whim. On this day we had a doctor's checkup appointment. He looked extra cute and was extra friendly. I was so inspired by the gorgeous day we were having, his wonderful behavior and his cute smile; so this layout was born.


Pulling the gray color from his shirt was easy; trying to find lots gray accents was a little tough.
I'm more of a brights kinda gal.

Have a great weekend!

-AtStudioD

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

#HoardFreeIn2017


Nearing the end of Summer 2016, after sharing a photo of my fairly updated "clean" craft space, I received a nice comment, which went as follows...
"I'm trying to do a big Purge.  Please give me tips.  Your room looks absolutely amazing!!!"
I'm not sharing this comment to brag or boast... but I did have an answer for that person... which turned out to be 8 pages long.  So, instead of causing Instagram to crash and burn that day, I decided to save my thoughts and create a future blog post.
[Fun Fact: I started writing this blog more than 6 months ago - today is 7/26/17]
The truth is I have no right to brag.  I once lived in a sea of scissors, paper punches and unfinished projects.
This has been a few years of progression and truth-seeking.

It's been countless hours of trying to rebudget the drafted budget, because I spent way outside my original budget, just to get that one specific tool that was going to revolutionize my craft life... the one that may have been loved on twice in the year following the original purchase, which still has the manual and packaging for, because in the corner of my mind - buried under the 92 paper pads - lies the thought that I may need to sell this thing one day if I don't get around to actually using it as I had intended.
That was the part of me that I had to face.
Each morning... when my intention that day was to make 5 birthday cards, scrapbook the 20 photos from last Christmas, and start on yet another album that probably wouldn't get finished.
Ever.
Years ago I began my journey to become "Hoard Free in 2013" - is what I called it.
(Incidentally, if you search the following hashtags on Instagram, you will find photos of my progression... #HoardFreeIn2013 #HoardFreeIn2014 #HoardFreeIn2015 #HoardFreeIn2016 and #HoardFreeIn2017)
No room was left un-turned.  No closet was left un-ramsacked.
[#NewWordAlert]
No drawer was safe from my willingness and desire to rid myself of piles of unused stuff, in the hopes of building a space that my family could enjoy, live simply and rest easy in.
I refuse to take credit for the work that was done.  What I managed to detox wasn't just a box of ink-less pens.  I needed emotional and mental surgery.  I needed forgiveness.  For myself.  For allowing myself to get that far.  I needed energy and strength to dig through bins and piles and bushels of randomness in order to dissect and get to the core of my problem.
The living word of God is what helped stabilize the separation anxiety I was facing, and the torment and disapproval of how much stuff I had accumulated in just 7 years.  Matthew's wise words helped me gain control of the situation, and really hone in on the purpose of living.
Matthew 6:19-21(NIV)19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

It was because of this verse and continual prayer, self-analysis and the desire to have a peaceful home - [plus the fact that I was starting to like humans again and wanted to have people over] - why I/we (mostly me), was able to put a big dent in it.  But it wasn't until we were forced to move from a 3 story townhouse, (3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and garage), and move into a 2 bedroom condo with a small patio and no storage space - that I realized I needed to get a little more picky with what I allowed myself to keep and purchase.  When you're forced to use a corner of your living room, as opposed to an entire room for your crafts, you kinda start seeing and valuing your most NEEDED items, and toss the excess.

This includes anything that RARELY gets touched, but keep around because:
  1. the money spent will never be what we get back if we decide to sell - and even if we decide to sell, that entails photos, videos & editing, posting on social media then adding to the pile of other unused items in the corner
  2. we've grown attached to our stuff, and it looks sorta cute in our home
  3. we may have use for them one day and may have to face future / possible regret
  4. it was given to us as a gift or for design team work
  5. it holds sentimental value... to the people who gave it to us, and if they ever visit us 17 years from now, they're most certainly going to ask what we did with it
Companies, online communities and marketing teams entice us into thinking we NEED that new Hot Trend or Tool!  And I understand that this is how they stay in business, so I am not on a mission to take away the livelihood of people.  But when is enough, enough?  Do we really need each and every single washi roll, paper pad and roller stamp out there?

Actually, let's leave those roller suckers alone, cuz that's my personal favorite.
I'm actually a collector - BUT I DO USE THEM!
[On a side note, the photo here - taken earlier this year -  shows a small portion of my collection... they're kinda scattered in different places for convenience, even at work.  Before you ask, I've never counted how many I have, but maybe that's something I'll get to do this year when I create a roller-legend - still a work in progress, btw.]
Tim Holtz's mixed media grunge style was huge 5+ yrs ago.  Where is it used today?  Don't get me wrong, I love Tim.  His products have proven to be of great quality, and I still have a few distress ink pads myself... but that type of crafting is not as popular anymore.  Yet, at the time, we felt it was so utterly important and appealing and ended up spending half of our rent payment on fully stocking our overstocked drawers and shelves with all kinds of Mixed Media supplies, because we saw 3 projects on Pinterest we needed to make and another 30 lists of ideas that we hadn't yet taken the time to add in one of our 17 new planners; since we had been using that time to go on Amazon, eBay and Etsy to shop for more supplies that we may never use.  So instead of taking that online shopping time to see that there were 3 new bags of Hobby Lobby stickers and charms, that we forgot we bought just 30 days prior (and hid in the kitchen pantry because we knew hubby wouldn't go in there), we end up on our phones to the wee hours of the morning, adding things to our carts.  
Why can't we just actually use the stuff to make stuff, that we bought to make the stuff!?

I know this may sound angry, and maybe it does come from a place of frustration, but Sorry Not Sorry... We're blinded as to how much time and money is spent on things... the same things that decrease in value the minute we open it.  The same things that won't come with us to the afterlife.  That really bring no value to what we are worth as individuals.  As children of a loving God.

And I know I'm mainly focusing on craft supplies... but let me let you in on a little secret... this includes all walks of a hoarder's / shopaholic's life.  If your cupboards are too full of mugs that your regular glassware stays in the dishwasher - you may be a hoarder.
Let's have fun with it...
#YouMayBeAHoarder if you found 3 of the same items buried in 3 different drawers, and almost thought to buy another with your next check.
#YouMayBeAHoarder if you have to sneak bags into the house when hubby is taking a shower.
#YouMayBeAHoarder if you find yourself purchasing storage containers to "organize" the overflow of stuff that doesn't fit anymore in the storage containers you bought last year for the overflow of stuff.

Go ahead.
You try.
I'm sure you can think of 5 other examples.
Here's one more...
#YouMayBeAHoarder if your office cubicle looks more like a craft room.
GUILTY!

What could we be doing with those extra $200 we'd be saving EACH MONTH, at the end of the year?  Go on a 7 day cruise, with our family and upgrade to the deluxe cabin.  Take our new Canon, [the one that replaced the last 5 new Canons - but that's none of my business] to photograph our trip, and then come home and use the 44 empty scrapbook albums to document our memories.

Let's take the time to be more mindful.
We really have to be honest with ourselves.  Maybe look into our own eyes in a mirror - up close - with the mess of clutter behind us for support - and tell ourselves the hard-facing facts.
Or journal...
In one of our 52 Target Dollar Spot notepads and ask ourselves,"What are the areas of genuine interest that are absolutely necessary and beneficial to me?  What do I absolutely love to do when it comes to crafting, and what have I just started to do because it's the trend and I don't want to suffer from FOMO?"
For me, my absolute necessaries [#NewWordAlert], are memory keeping in TNs, Pocket Pages & Layouts, bible journaling and planning.  I let go of mini albums, mixed media, altering things and a ton of my 12x12 paper pads.  I no longer purchase bulk paper pads.  If I'm genuinely interested in creating a 12x12 layout, I either purchase an individual sheet or the entire collection.  These days, with all the coupons that are constantly being shared online, you can buy 1 super cute collection instead of a paper pad with 60 pages.  YOU DAMN WELL YOU'RE GOING TO "NEED" EMBELLIES, STAMPS, TWINE AND BRADS TO MATCH THAT PAD!!!  WHICH WILL GO STRAIGHT TO YOUR DONATE PILE IN 4 YEARS.... If I want to scrap, I pull out one sheet of my individual 12x12s, (not the 2000 books of 3 of the same sheets in one), and make a layout.  I gave up a lot of my stamps too.  I barely stamp.  Recently I recaught the copic coloring bug, which had me updating my image stamps, but if I do purchase a stamp I force myself to use it that same week/month.
And if I'm being honest, I do have pretty much every roller stamp known to man [because the roller obsession is REAL PEOPLE], but I limit it to just rollers, not ALL stamps. 
It's about giving yourself a creative outlet, but also recognizing what top 2-4 areas of this hobby you want to focus on.  What you will be able to keep up with.  What won't become boring or redundant after 2 years, 483 projects that were never made and 6,752 dollars of half-asleep / reckless spending later.  Once you hone in on that.  On the price, and the realization of what was wasted, it'll be easier to let go, and be aware of it for the future.
I know you've probably giggled or blushed, reading some of the wacky things we do to keep our crap... but on a more serious note... Decluttering is an ongoing process.  It happens in all areas.  Friendships.  Pantries.  Shoe/Purse bins.  It must first start as a thought, and a change of mindset.  Whatever you set your mind to do, your emotions and body will follow.  The end result will not leave you lonely without all the stuff you have accumulated, like you're worried it might... we keep thinking we'll miss it, but was it used in the last year?  6 months?  If the answer is no, it may be time to part ways and send it to someone who will use and take care of it, and appreciate it.  Once we declutter our lives, what's left are our clean homes.  Organized closets.  Open spaces.  Cleared desks.  All of which will motivate us to use the things, (the real treasures), that we kept.  Then we'll enjoy it in a cleaner and clutter-free environment.
I started my journey in 2013 and by the looks of the two photos I took January 2017, it's obvious I could use a little more purging.
So instead of just verbally attacking my beautiful readers, I'd like to offer some practical advice. What helped me get to where I am now; which I don't consider to be perfect, but I'm sure a lot may think it's darn-near it, compared to theirs.





#2 - SORT!
The next thing I did was create piles.

Keep. While you're doing step 1, gather a pile of things you know you will use within the next 6 months. If you are on the fence about keeping the 2015 Christmas collection, that means you won't use it. Which mean it should go to one of the next 3 piles.

Donate. There are great charities you can take your unused and partially used items to. Schools, Nursing Homes, Churches, Shelters and even Hospitals would love to use your donations.

Trash. If it's worn. If it needs to be taken to a shop for repair. If it died. If it broke. If it's not your style anymore. THROW IT OUT! The first sign it needs to go is if you're too embarrassed to use it in your projects, and even more embarrassed to give it away. LET IT GO!

Sing it with me...LET IT GOOO!

Share. There are tons of new crafters and planners joining the fun. Why not send a care package to someone who wasn't around when Target made page flags popular!? It won't hurt to show some kindness to a stranger. Think about the last time you did something nice for someone, just because... was it in the last 4 weeks? If not, it may be time to print out a cookie recipe from your growing Pinterest list, bake and send a RAK! (Random Act of Kindness)... Your unused pretties will be greatly appreciated. If you have design team supplies, don't feel like you are required to keep it til you die. Once you have completed your 6 month or year-long assignment, share with your crafty pals.

Sell. If you want to maybe make a few of the dollars back that you spent on your goodies, have a sale. Post it on YouTube. Nowadays selling online isn't considered weird. It may be scary and a little frustrating, when you are faced with people that are trying to scam you. Or having to print labels and get the shipping price right. But your Paypal account will smile. Just don't be like me, and go on Amazon. lol

#3 - REORGANIZE!
The purpose for pulling out every nick and cranny from your space is not only to help you see the bulk of the stuff you own and perform step 2, but to find the perfect spot for it. I have found that when I buy new things, it needs a new container. And the more things I buy the more containers I end up with. When you remove the bulk of your stash, you end up with empties... which means having to reorganize what you've already organized. Maybe the Ikea Shelf you once used for your 6x6 paper pads can be used for something else that requires more space, like your stamps. And you can then move your paper pads to a smaller spot. This is called organizing. This is where I excel.

#4 - BE ACCOUNTABLE!
Find a friend or support group that you can share your goal with, that won't be prone to judging you or talking behind your back. Or worse! Telling you it's not so bad. People you know personally. Maybe it's someone you came to know through social media, and trust. Maybe they just finished purging and can come over to help. Maybe they can share tips. They certainly understand your process if they already went through it. Text them. Tell them you're tired. Tell them you don't know where to start. Make yourself accountable, and do it. Heck, now that you're reading this, feel free to reach out to me if you need to. God knows I've received enough PMs, DMs, Tweets, Messages, Texts, Emails & Dings. And I never turn anyone away that shows signs of really needing help. Just know that I don't sugar coat things, and I don't want my time wasted. Because I can certainly use it to continue my process. And finally...

#5 - READ & RESEARCH!
There's a lot of reading material on the market. A lot of it is cheap on Amazon. Visit your local library and check out a book. Now-a-days you can renew books right from your phone. I recently purchased "The Joy of Less - A Minimalist's Guide To Declutter, Organize & Simplify", by Francine Jay. I have not started reading it, but I'll definitely get to it. It's #12 on the list of books I purchased to read this year...hehe. But I can honestly say I've probably read one free Kindle book on purging in the last 10 years, which was more like a 20+ page pamphlet, and did not dig deep into the root of the problem. It didn't provide step by step processes, like I'm sharing here. It could be that there is/are a books out there with practical help, I just haven't read then yet. If you know of any, please share.

I will also share this... if you schedule yourself to start next week or next month, and give yourself 2-2 months to complete, you will fail. It's taken me 4+ years. The process is ongoing, but you have to start somewhere and you MUST. START. TODAY.

Like, stop reading now, because the rest of this is for those that DO NOT WANT TO PURGE, so there's no other tip except GO. DO. IT!
Go get your Traveler's Notebook, and make a list of the top 3 areas of crafting that you must continue with, and will never let go... at least not in the next 12 months. Then think about all the items it will take in your current stash to keep you running with your top 3 hobbies... Then go back and begin with Step 1.

You will feel so accomplished and so excited. It's gonna hurt. Seeing everything go. The stacks of piles. Your husband and children may want to institutionalize you or make under-breath comments, but don't be insulted, don't stop the process to defend your honor. The truth is, they are RIGHT. So instead of wasting more time protecting your pride, just admit that it's time for a change and do it.

Now for those who have large homes, who do use their products, who do have extra spending money and have no issues with keeping everything they have, this post is not for you. Whether or not you want to declutter your life. Where or not you have not made the conscious decision that it's time, or maybe you don't even need to - you can just disregard everything here and I will apologize for making you spend 2 hours of your life reading about my rants. However, if you've felt some kind of hatred towards me and maybe even slammed your coffee mug or threw your glasses across the room because something I said hit a nerve - you may need to reconsider. Don't take it personal. It hurts to be faced with the truth of who we are and what we've been doing for years, that we felt was harmless. It does cause harm. It causes a disharmony. Fewer dinner parties. Subliminal anxiety. Sleepless nights. Wondering why you can't sleep. Being a hoarder is a disease. I know because my dad was/is one. I think there are deeper personal issues that are involved, which I'm not qualified to discuss, but if they are not dealt with in a positive and healthy manner and environment, will leave you full of lifelong regret.
So I shared my photos because I want to be held accountable. These stacks of IKEA Expedit shelves, that you think are so organized, ARE NOT. I need to downsize. And if not for you reading this and secretly judging me and my spelling errors, I would probably leave it as-is for another year. So I'm including myself in this challenge.
Let's call it #HoardFreeIn2017 ... I'd like to see your Before and After and DURING photos, because that's when the real drama unfolds. I'd like to see photos of you donating to Salvation Army and your local Goodwill. Just recently I helped mom get rid of a few pieces and bags from just her living room.
Make sure, before you start the process you take those $20 bucks you were headed to Michael's to spend this weekend, and tell Siri you're rerouting to Walmart for a few cases of Hefty bags. Use your couponing skills to locate the best price nearby, and start today!
*** UPDATE *** JULY 26, 2017 ***
Recently I have continued my craft declutter process. I took a pause to work on decluttering Gio's room, closets, drawers, vanity and kitchen. Now I'm back to my craft room. Just this month I shared updates of my changes and purging, and yesterday I posted the following photo on Instagram & Facebook with my "updated" desk redo.

The following comment was left on my photo, which prompted yet another one of these "social media books", that I end up writing and turning into blogs... lol... so I want to share, once again, what my comment to her will be. But also, I want to share this with you in the hopes that it will help someone out there seeking to start. Seeking to keep going. Seeking to finish the job.
As I said, this is a life-long journey. Every month I think of something else I need to purge, and every month I fail at this too. Just because I am writing this doesn't mean I have it all figured out. I'm still learning. I'm still tempted. I still shop. I still overspend. But now I'm more aware of my issue, and more careful with how much I purchase & spend. I ask myself the following: "Will I use this in the next 3 - 6 months?" "Will I still love it next year if I have leftovers, or will it get tossed to my sorting boxes once I'm bored looking at it collect dust?"
The reason I'm sharing is to be as transparent, and as open as I can... I too suffer from shopping way too much. Not just craft supplies, but everything! If I find a new pen I like, I have to buy a box, even though there's 263 perfectly great working (and pretty) pens sitting in my 14 purses, 3 desks and car. If I like a pair of shoes, I need them in every color. If I feel like I'm going to miss out on getting the latest popular sticky notes at Target, and that fear is sprinkled with "I may run out the quickly, so let me buy 2 extras", then I end up actually buying 8 extras. It's a real issue and disease. I suffer from it. I have not overcome it. So sharing this with you is making me accountable. It's, hopefully, helping you understand how real this is, and how being honest with ourselves is the first step to overcoming.
"I'm in the process but is hard can wait to keep it organized"
So here is my response to Angela, and anyone else facing the same dilemma...
What is making it hard?  
Is it emotional - being attached to things? 
Financial - feeling like you spent money and don't want that money to go to waste?
Time - the project seems overwhelming and too much for the little time you have to spend on it each week? 
Desire - you're just not motivated enough and you wish you can snap your fingers to the end result?

Gift - something was given to you and you feel bad passing it along?

I've gone through all those phases, and there is an answer.  Take it day by day.  Ask God to help you.  To be your guide.  To give you strength and grace as you find the energy and motivation to face the toughest project you will ever face.  Start by creating your 5 piles.  Your donate & share boxes should be your biggest!  Once you remove the excess, work on developing a layout.  What crafty things do you work on more?   What items do you use daily?   What items get less use, but are still useful?   Those that are used often, or bring you the most excitement should stay closer to your workstation. 

Make space, purposefully, for the new items you purchase.  Just so you are forced to use them.  Don't be afraid to use the items you love.  Think about the time you loved and double purchased those 4x6 DCWV paper packs, because the reasoning behind it was the fact that you were going to make 100 cards to send to our troops overseas... now think about how many of those 100 cards you actually made, and how many stacks are sitting in your basement, attic, or kitchen cabinet.  Did it affect the troops that didn't get any of your handmade cards?  No.  But it did affect your wallet, and your living space.  
"If you don't use it while you love it, you won't use it at all." - Damaris Velazquez
[SIDEBAR] If there's someone out there that knows how to design blog gifs or cute jpg images, or has great hand-lettering skills, I'd love to team up with you to make my quote into something people can print, save, share, and use as a mantra!  Email Me!
I love that... "IF YOU DON'T USE IT WHILE YOU LOVE IT, YOU WON'T USE IT AT ALL!"
That's how we all expanded into the craft room, (or craft rooms, for a lot of us), that we have now!  We loved product.  It's pretty to look at, yet heartbreaking to use.  So we buy it, because it brings us comfort in knowing it's in our possession, but then store it.  Then what?  That $229 purchase you made last month could've been remedied with a gentle hug.  Emotional spending is another HUGE monster to tackle.  I won't get into it on this post, but I will say that it does play a major part in our addiction.  Because the satisfaction of having it is all you did with it.  
This is a tough pill to swallow.  I know because I force myself to take my own bad-tasting medicine each month.  But I hope it helps you to know that you're not alone on this road to being clutter-free.

I'd like to continue this series.  I think I'd like to expand more on all the steps and give even greater details.  I really want to get to the root of issues and get all up in your business... by displaying my own in the process.

I hope you'll join me in being #HOARDFREEIN2017 ...
-AtStudioD

Monday, May 01, 2017

Hello Flora.

I was that "cool mom" last summer, that bought all the fun pool floats and regretted it once I realized that they required an overnight filling by an electronic machine, because it was just too massive to have any human attempt to fill it.  How do I know this?  Because we tried for a couple of hours before we ran to the store for said machine; the batteries were depleted by the time Flora was filled.

I was also that "cool mom" that attempted to climb up on Flora, just for a great photo; all attempts resulted in slipping, dropping and epically failing at being that "cool mom".

We had a great DAY with Flora the Flamingo.  She was a part of the family for 24 hours, but sadly she came with clipped wings.  I contacted the vendor soon after she was deflated (which took at least a week), and received a full refund for her.  But she was too far gone to keep her.


This year I plan to get "Flora the Flamingo 2", (smaller version); and just for giggles i'll throw in a pineapple float... because I'm noticing lately that my favorite color is yellow.  #TeamYellow

The collection I used to create this layout is by Crate Paper called "Poolside".. if you search Google long enough you just may find some remnants of it.  This was a very popular collection last year and it sold out pretty quickly.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope to share more projects this month, as time allows.

-AtStudioD