Up for a Challenge? Introducing #StashCraft19

In The Studio

‘ve come to realize that I’m very bad at putting myself first. It’s something I’ve been working on, on a personal level, and now I’m addressing the creative needs.

For 2019 I applied for absolutely no design teams so that I could work on more of my own projects. BUT! One of the nice things about being on a team is the deadlines and accountability you have to the organizer. When it’s just me? That’s harder.

Enter the wonderful thing that is public accountability! I’ve created a challenge (and some supporting goals) and I’m putting it all out there in the hopes that it’ll help keep me motivated when the going gets tough.

Here, have a video of me explaining it:

But if you’re not in a place where you can watch a video, here’s the basics:

The Challenge

Create one project a week–with a video–using mostly (if not completely) materials I already own.

Goal #1: Use of the supplies I’ve hoarded over the years.

Let’s face it, my craft stash is considerable, with so many things I’ve purchased, collected, or been given over the years (decades!) with plans to use them someday. Well, someday is now! Time to blow off the dust and finally get to the projects I’ve meant to do for so very long.

Goal #2: Declutter the Abyss

Use it up, move it out, make something awesome! I’ll be able to organize as I go while using the supplies up and weeding out any items that are too old, dried up, or otherwise no longer viable.

Goal #3: Save Money by Using What I Have

Not only do I have tons of supplies to be creative with already, my budget is currently not in favor of spending a lot of supplies to fuel a year’s worth of projects. I’m aiming for 90-75% stash supplies for each project (the 75% in deference to the inevitable using-up that’ll happen by the end of the year) but many things can be accomplished strictly with the stuff I already own. Each project will include a run-down of supplies and what, if anything, I spent.

Goal #4: Make Some Money, If Possible

This is a stretch-goal, sure, but it’s not exactly unrealistic. Blog/Vlog business schtuff alert: First, creating weekly videos is bound to increase my subscriber count and watch time which will enable me to go back to monetizing my videos. Not that it’s a huge revenue source, but it’s something. Second, of the items I’ll be making as part of the challenge, some will undoubtedly be personal projects while others may be suitable for sale and will be available in my Etsy shop.

So that’s it! Every Monday, starting January 7th, I’ll post a new video of a new project created from my craft stash. All posts here, on YouTube, and on social media will be tagged with #stashcraft19 and I invite anyone who wants to join in to do so by using that same tag.

I’d love to know what you’re creative goals are for the year. Leave a comment here or on the YouTube video and grab a little public accountability for yourself!

As Good a Time as Any to Remodel?

Site News

You’re not supposed to make big decisions in the midst of a Mercury Retrograde, but when you discover your blog has been hacked and needs to be reloaded from the ground up, well, might as well blow the dust off and make some improvements while you’re at it, right?

The basics are in place–the pages load–and the pesky problems are gone–no misspelled ads clogging up the site–and I can actually log in again, so please excuse the rudimentary theme and the missing pictures as I get things back to where they’re supposed to be.

I’d been thinking of changing things up for a while and posts have been on pause while I deal with life stuff (nothing horrible, just pesky day to day and being way too tired to do much beyond the day job), making the idea of a change even more palatable. To what, though, that does seem to be the question.

At any rate, we’re up and running again. I do apologize if you came to the site in the last few days to find it less than useful. We helper monkeys have one job, after all, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon!

DIY Plannner Stickers with Labels and Stamps

In The Studio

January is, of course, the perfect month to talk about planning, planners, organization, and all that fun stuff (well, fun for me, your mileage may vary). Imagine recognizes that and ordered up some posts and projects on that subject. I, for one, was happy to oblige.


I spent a couple of fun hours with stamps and inks and sprays and–this is key–a whole host of Avery label sheets to make my own stamped planner stickers. It meant I could go from needing all of this to stamp in my planner:


To just needing this little handful:


Not bad condensing, wouldn’t you say?

You can check out more about this project (along with two other planner-related DIYs) on the Imagine blog (Triad of Planner Awesomeness).

2017 is my Reset Year

The Creative Life

Because last year certainly didn’t go as planned!

Let’s take a quick stroll down last year’s goal list, shall we?

House Plans:

  • Downstairs Bath: 85% complete
  • Driveway and Privacy Fence: 5% started?
  • Recycling Sorter: 75% complete per Todd’s plans, but totally functional, so we could call this one a win
  • Compost Bin: big ol’ nope
  • Back Hall/Mudroom: Hah!
  • Utility Room: You’ve got to be joking

Some of those were stretch goals anyway, and the bathroom renovation ended up taking way more time than anticipated. But now we’re a lot more prepared for the next rooms, whenever we get to them, knowing what waits for us under the floors.

Family Goals:

  • Get a dog: check! And it would not be wrong to say this added to the delay of certain other projects.
  • Milestone birthdays: check and check
  • Visit Savannah, Ga: This we’ll scoot over to the 2017 goals.

Career Goals:

  • Career change: This happened, but not the way I’d planned. With the closing of Graphateria, it became a need instead of a want, but I’m glad I was able to maintain a steady income. We’ll just go with that.
  • Book Projects: I did get some work done on the Low-FODMAP book, but there’s quite a bit left to do.
  • The Crafty Branch: TCB was the red-headed stepchild of the year, withering on the to-do list vine. Mixed metaphor aside, I have some plans to revamp TCB for 2017, the first of which will be coming out this week (I hope).
  • The blog: It wasn’t quite as neglected as TCB, but we hit a few low points during the job change and adjustment period.

Personal: Goals:

  • Move more: We didn’t even do the 5K this year, so I’m going to count this as a no.
  • Be more productive: I still got a lot done this year, but not nearly as much as I would have liked.
  • Art every day: started strong, finished weak.

So….. yeah. Not a great scorecard, overall.

This year I’m going to scale things down a bit, knowing what I do about things as they stand as the year turns, so here are a few things to concentrate on for 2017:

  1. Finish the bathroom remodel. We’re close, but the finishing is still a pretty big job.
  2. Get the privacy fence installed–I really want to spend time in the backyard, give Duncan a good space to run, and do all of it without feeling like we’re in the fishbowl of our neighbors. Keeping said neighbors out of our yard is a bonus.
  3. Spend less. Ignoring the fact that I just broke my no-spend January rule on Saturday when I ordered a small piece of tech, my goal is to really get my finances in better shape and that involves, first and foremost, spending less. I did manage to pay off one credit card last year, a fairly large one, but I need to stop using the others so much, too. It’s a process. I’m working on it.
  4. Art every week. A bit more reasonable than art every day, and I have a new journal for it and everything. I’ll be posting the weekly pages on instagram with the #aew2017 tag, follow along or join me!
  5. More videos! Even though it’s been a few months since I managed to upload a video (stuff was filmed, it just never got edited), I somehow managed to pass 500 subscribers on my YouTube channel. That’s wild! And since the art and planner-related videos seem to be the favorites, those are probably what I’ll concentrate on over vlogging (at least while editing time is short and life is not exactly vlog-worthy).

Sure, I’d still love to go to Savannah, but with Duncan and a less-flexible work environment, it’s a little tougher to manage a weekend getaway. But I hope we can make it happen. And there are work and side-project goals swimming around in my head, of course, but nothing I feel comfortable blogging about just yet.

And before I forget, my word of the year isn’t so much a word but a prefix:


As in revisit, revamp, redo, restart, revise, rebrand, revitalize, relaunch, reboot, review… you get the picture. Last year may not have gone the way I’d planned or hoped, but it doesn’t mean I have to start all over from scratch. I have assets in place that I can turn into something, I just have to rethink them and revise the plans. Re- can be back (as in return) or again (like most of the words above). The important thing for me, this year, is to take what I have and go through it again, figure out what worked, discard what didn’t, and work through it again and again until I get it right.

Good luck with your own 2017 planning!

Thinking Cool Thoughts

In The Studio

And I’m not talking about when our downstairs a/c died this weekend…

Since moving into the Dollhouse I’ve had an image in my head of how it needs to look come Chirstmas-time. That image includes a lot of hand-crafted touches, naturally, but what it doesn’t account for is the small window of time to work on everything. Each year I’ve purchased supplies for at least one project only to stash them until the next fall rolls around. And it just snowballs from there (pun unintended, but we’ll go with it).

Not this year.


To catch up on some of my Christmas crafts I’ve decided to take the Christmas in July cliche and use that as my excuse to get a jump on those rollover projects in the hopes that I will be ready and rarin’ to go and decorate once the Thanksgiving dishes are back in the china cabinet.

(Of course, I’d also planned to start on this over the holiday weekend but, well, didn’t. So this might stretch into August at this point.)

I have three main projects I want to accomplish:

  1. Cone trees for dining room “runner” display
  2. Antiqued Christmas village for hall console table
  3. Christmas cards
It's a good start, but needs friends...

It’s a good start, but needs friends…

The cone trees are pretty simple, really. I already have the papier mache cones in different sizes that will flank the flocked tree I decorated last year. I’m going to use the white glue + shaving cream “snow” technique as seen on Learn With Mrs.B’s How to Build a Snowman Video:

Cute and simple. I’m so there.

Next on the list are some papier mache houses we picked up at Hobby Lobby last year that I want to turn into my own holiday village. I was inspired by a set of verdigris, antique, house-looking lanterns we saw in a store at Disney Springs after our cruise last November.

Aren't they just absolutely charming?!

Aren’t they just absolutely charming?!

They weren’t for sale, of course, just display, but I took pictures to maybe create my own. After buying the blank houses I then found the same lanterns in the Acorn Online catalog under Architectural Lanterns. They’re not ridiculously priced or anything, but by now I’ve committed to crafting my own with some faux finishing techniques, etc. Acetate will work well for the windows and I can still add battery-operated tea lights inside for a pretty glow.

A few cards from Christmas 2015 (from the Winter Whimsy card kit)

A few cards from Christmas 2015 (from the Winter Whimsy card kit)

Finally, I’d like to get a head start on my Christmas cards. We don’t usually do photo-cards but if we wanted to, now would be a really good time to decide. And even if not, I’d like to have more time to craft them. Last year I had a great boost because I put together two card kits for The Crafty Branch and I had to make the samples for the kits anyway. We still have those kits in inventory (more on that in a moment) but I don’t want to do the exact same cards as last year, you know?

This is actually one project I have started on, drawing out some images and typesetting some sentiments for a digital stamp kit to complement the card kits at The Crafty Branch. They’re not quite ready to go, yet, but I hope to have the first set in the store by the end of this weekend.

And speaking of the store, this is a good time to mention that we’re having a big Christmas in July sale over at The Crafty Branch…


So, you know, head on over and pick up some of our kits. You’ll be getting a head start on your own holiday to-do list and supporting a small business, too!

As of today, thinking about Christmas and cooler weather hasn’t had any sort of effect on the summer swelter going on, but it’s at least comforting to know I won’t be starting the holiday season behind!