Tuesday, June 30, 2015

gossamer blue :: june :: crafty gift basket

Hi again--3 days in a row, I can't believe it!  See?  I'm actually kind of sticking to this blogging schedule I was talking about yesterday.  I will let you know that we're going on vacation tomorrow so it'll probably be pretty quiet here for a week or two, but it's a planned break and then I'll be back again after that.  Also, the Etsy shop is on vacation, too, but I am answering messages and emails while away so if you have questions, don't hesitate to ask!

I had a post up on the Gossamer Blue blog yesterday and it's a long one, but it was a lot of fun to make!  I won't share the entire post here, just a few photos and you can read all about the project on the GB blog.

I filled a berry basket with some fun goodies for a fellow crafty friend and shared a couple quick tutorials on 2 of the items I included.  The June kits were bursting with bright colors--so fruity and delicious-looking--and like so many fellow crafters, I'm swooning over the Pink Paislee Citrus Bliss collection, which was featured prominently in the kits.  The bright yellow--I LOVE it!

I made some easy, but really fun gift pockets from the CB paper pad.  It was one of those things that made me wonder why I'd never thought of it before, but I'll certainly be making many, many more of them.

It helped that the kits also had awesome little embellishments with which to fill the pockets.  The gift is intended for a planner-loving friend and I know she will get a kick out of the wood pieces and paperclips. 

Cute pockets with a perforated tear top...the how-to is on the GB blog (and it's SO easy!) so be sure to check out the entire post.

 My fingers are crossed that I'll make it back again tomorrow with one last entry before vacation...but if I don't, I'll pop in after the 12th with quite a bit to share, including the rest of my GB projects for June and July.  Don't forget about the giveaway happening here and on Instagram...be sure to play along because I might just have a little surprise up my sleeve!

Monday, June 29, 2015

papertrey ink :: moments inked :: blog post prep

Happy Monday, friends!  I'm taking you on a trip through my organizational blogging prep which I'm hoping to turn into a habit, thanks to some fun goodies from Papertrey Ink's Moments Inked planning system.   I recently took a brief hiatus from social media, but in doing so, fell way behind in sharing the projects I'd continued to create.  The amount of work, from the photography to writing blog content to even knowing where to begin, was overwhelming.  I needed a way to catch up and be organized about it, which is how the very helpful Blog Banners stamp set is saving my sanity.  In my post today, I'll show you how I'm utilizing it and a few other Moments Inked necessities to get back on track.

After a few failed attempts at creating a simple list, I came up with this solution...It's just a little 2" x 3.5" grid card, but it's helping me out in a very big way.

I began with a pack of Word Cards.  I buy them at a local Japanese discount store--$1.50 for 160.  I did not make my own because I wanted to keep the system as quick and simple as possible--the more effort it took, the less likely I'll be to continue it.  So the pre-made stack of cards, complete with punched hole and plastic ring, is what I'll be using.  Then it was assembly-line time for stamping.  This was the most time-consuming part of the project; I made roughly 100 cards in about 45 minutes.  But that's 100 blog posts and they will last me quite awhile!

I created the layout that worked best with what I generally include in my blog entries.  The date, topic, a few extras, and due dates, which are especially important when I'm doing design team assignments.  I used the date and small box stamp from the Listed stamp set and I can fill in the details and check the appropriate box when needed.

The next thing I did was come up with a simple color-coordination system with card stock and the Planner Banners Die (I swear this is the die I use more than any other one I own!).  I have about 5 categories I generally write about and by adhering the corresponding color banner to the blog note, I can easily tell what's lined up when I'm flipping through the stack.  It's at the front of my list for easy reference, and I taped one inside my planner, also.

The post I did yesterday wasn't for a design team, but was about a fun collaboration I worked on, which falls under the 'Thurston Post' category--so it gets a pretty Royal Velvet banner.

On the back of each card, I stamped 'NOTES' in Raspberry Fizz and I can add any important reminders, key words, or other dates, so I don't forget them when it comes time to post.  This is also where I'll make notes on the photography end because I have a few projects waiting to be shot and/or edited and this is a great way to keep track of that.

Because I'm partial to a cleaner-looking planner, I don't want to write all of the blog information directly on the pages.  However, I do want to be able to look ahead in my book and see what's coming up, so I adhered the coordinating banners to the bottom of the weekly pages.  I also made a stack of lists from the Tabbed List Die on white card stock so I can write down the weekly topics.  When the month is over, I'll discard them. (I prefer minimal but I swear it isn't always this bare!  We're headed out of town this week so I've tried to keep our plans to a minimum so all I have to worry about is packing!)

It's going to take some time--a few weeks even--to get caught up with blogging.  This system will help me stay on track and keep me from falling way behind again, or getting overwhelmed with what to post when since there will still be new work coming in, too.  It's separate from my planner because it could completely overtake my planner like a weed if I let it, but I've streamlined it into my book so that I'm prepared for that week's posts.  And when changes inevitably come about--because they already have--I can just toss the little card and create a new one.

I hope you've found this helpful--if you aren't a blogger, a little system like this might work just as well for meal planning...perhaps that's the next thing I'll tackle!

Supply List:
All supplies from Papertrey Ink unless otherwise noted.
Stamp Sets:  Blog Banners, Listed
Dies:  Planner Banners, Tabbed List
Inks:  True Black, Raspberry Fizz
Card Stock:  Stamper's Select White, Simply Chartreuse, Summer Sunrise, Raspberry Fizz, Harvest Gold, Royal Velvet
Moments Inked Planner System

Word Cards: Daiso, Japan

dunne with style wrap it #3 & a giveaway!

First, let me thank you for the amazing and encouraging response to my last post.  It wasn't an easy one to publish as it dealt with an issue that is a daily struggle for me.  Yet I felt compelled to post it at the same time, because it's a daily struggle.  The more folks I connect with through this wonderful and scary place called the Internet, the more I realize that everyone has some kind of struggle.  I try not to dwell on mine too much, especially here where I can spend hours composing the 'perfect post' and almost pretend that I'm not riddled with anxiety and socially inept--almost.  But I am, and as I found out, I'm not the only one, which really is the best feeling.  So I thank you for your kind support and for opening up and sharing your stories, as well.  I'm slowly getting through replies, but I WILL reply to each and every person who reached out here on the blog, via email, or another form of social media.   

Let's move on, though...to something pretty and fun and not socially awkward!  I adored creating this gift wrap kit for the Dunne With Style Wrap It project.  Pinks and greens and bows and florals...as with every kit I make, I could go on and on and on and keep adding to it!  I suppose I might be a little obsessive, too, but hands up--aren't so many of us creatives?

I wanted to put together something that was signature Thurston Post, yet different from anything I'd ever released, too.  So while you have my little stamped white tags and doilies and gold glitter, there are the bows--I made over 150 of them altogether!--and the glittered pick, and I did some different things with the clothespins, too.

And you know I'm a huge fan of texture so you get it in spades here...fabric tape, glitter, lace, wood, foil, ribbon, twine, vellum, tinsel, crepe paper...My hope is that you'll be able to create all kinds of lovely packages with this mix.

There are a few left in Sam's shop so if you want to scoop one up, you still can.  And while you're at it, take a look at the rest of the gorgeous Wrap It kits there, too!

Since you all are such lovely and supportive people, I've decided to give you the chance to win one of these kits!  Just leave a comment here telling me how you'd use the kit--maybe you're not a gift wrapper.  If you make cards or scrapbook and would rather use it for that, I'd love to hear!
Giveaway ends July 4th at 11:59pm PST
Open internationally
Extra entries:  Like, comment, repost, tag friends on Instagram (see IG post for full details)
Comment on Facebook link

Thank you so much--you lovelies deserve something special!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

at least i'm not sitting on a tack

It's good to take a break.  Sometimes you go and go and go and push and push and push yourself until you're forced to take a break by life's circumstances.  That wasn't exactly the case for me, but a few things happened at the end of April that played a major role in my decision to take a bit of a hiatus from blogging and social media.  Aside from maintaining my design team assignments and Etsy orders, I've stayed away from the internet for about 7 weeks.  And it's been really, really nice!

While it was nothing tragic nor earth-shattering that kept me away, I was dealing with an old frenemy--anxiety.  Yup, I said frenemy.  My anxiety keeps me from doing all kinds of fun, amazing, and important things, but I know that without it, I wouldn't have my pretty extraordinary imagination (whatif this and whatif that?).  My mind is whatiffing all day--and all night--long.  I don't just whatif about troubling things, though, I also whatif when it comes to creating.  So without the anxiety, I know I wouldn't be half the paper artist that I am (if you'll allow me to call myself that).  Those ideas have to come from somewhere and without that incessant exploration of possibilities--both good and bad--I wouldn't think of them.

Unfortunately, anxiety tends to get in the way of a full and productive life, too.  I've come a long way since my teenage/college years when my anxiety was at it's peak--before I even knew there was a term for the way I felt, and that, gasp!, I was not the only one who felt it.  With therapy, hard work, and the support of my family, I've been able to accomplish all kinds of things I never thought I'd be able to do.  

But I haven't been in therapy in over ten years and I'm regressing.  Without wanting to realize it was happening, I've become complacent in the life I'm leading--happy to be a homebody with the excuse that we have two young children and a small business.  But then I started paying attention to all of the things these two young children were missing out on and the guilt hit pretty hard.  Really hard, actually, and I had a pretty good breakdown.

It's not about me anymore.  Well, duh--we came to that conclusion the second Gus entered our lives.  But meeting the immediate needs of the kids--food, clothing, shelter, health, nurturing--is not going to be enough to raise well-rounded, happy children.  They need experiences and friends and education, which means I have to overcome whatever anxiety, avoidance, and self-doubt issues that creep up and I have to face them head on.  Gus and Nemy must come first--not the anxiety.

I've struggled with it most of my life--not just my adult life, but all the way back when I was a kid, too.  I have social anxiety disorder which means interactions with other people--and any situations that might mean interacting with other people (because the anticipation is always the worst part)--are painfully difficult.  I want to clarify that I'm NOT anti-social.  Please don't get the two mixed up!   I'm just socially awkward so when I can avoid other humans for fear of making a fool of myself, I do.

I should say, I did, because as I said, I've come a long way from where I used to be.  There is still minor trepidation when it comes to new experiences--and crowds and parties--but otherwise, I'm pretty good.  Well, I'm still socially awkward and unless we connect instantly, you might have a little trouble holding a conversation with me!  If I'm quiet, it's not because I'm bored or uninterested in what you're telling me, I just don't always know what to say because my mind is working so hard to say the right thing that it usually gets flustered and can't think of anything at all--even answers to simple questions.  It sucks!  If we get past that awkward stage and begin to get to know each other, it's much easier for me converse.  And I'm much more eloquent when writing which is why you'll find me here, not so much out and about.

I also hate having people watch me--or feel like they're watching me.  I remember a therapist telling me once that people aren't worried about what I'm doing because they're too involved with what they're doing.  She meant that I needn't be concerned that everyone's watching me, waiting for me to trip or do something wrong or embarrassing, because folks have more going on than that.  I hope this is true!

This feeling was particularly bad in high school.  I broke out in hives when giving oral reports, never raised my hand to answer a question, never ate lunch, never used the restroom, and never got up in class to sharpen a pencil.  I had a handful of friends but they weren't in many of the same classes so there were long stretches of time (hours) when I didn't utter a word.  High school, for me, was hell.  I wasn't an outcast, I wasn't a loser, I didn't get picked on or bullied.  On the outside, I looked like any one of the rest of my classmates.  But I was silent, almost invisible.  One part of me didn't want to be noticed; a smaller part of me did.  I wanted to be social like everyone else, I just didn't really know how to talk to anyone without the possibility of making a fool of myself and that was terrifying so it was easier to avoid as many social situations as I could.

One day, I arrived in class, sat down, and felt a dull sharp pain.  I couldn't be sure what it was and after some very discreet searching, I realized I was sitting on a tack.  A 'normal' (i.e. logically-thinking) person would have gotten up, removed it, maybe had a laugh with the person next to them, and moved on.  Not me.  I sat through that 40-minute class with a tack in my rear end for fear of drawing attention to myself.  I'm not sure now what I thought might happen if I tried to remove it--perhaps all eyes on me with hysterical laughing and pointing (I know now that wouldn't have happened)--but whatever it was was far worse than sitting on that tack.

That's either one of the saddest things you've ever heard or you're laughing pretty hard right now.  Maybe both?  It's funny in a sad way, for sure.  And maybe it's even my new mantra...At least I'm not sitting on a tack.  At least I'm not sitting on a tack.  At least I'm not sitting on a tack.  Because these days, I'm healthy enough to know that the things I need to do to take care of my family aren't nearly as bad as sitting on a tack for 40 minutes.  The only life that revolves around me is my own--and to a certain extent, my children's.  It's time to quit worrying about other people and tend to myself so I can adequately care for Gus & Nemy.

Okay, so while I'm rational enough to know that my fear of interacting with others is irrational, I also know that the fix is not as easy as a quick snap of the fingers.  It's going to take time, change, and work to re-set those brain paths from instinctually choosing flight, rather than fight.  I've recognized  and admitted the behavior and I have amazing motivation--my two little ones, whom I've determined will NOT grow up being anxious.  And the rest?  Well, at least I'm not sitting on a tack.

I just want to say, if you're still with me, thank you for your support.  I'm truly blessed to have all of you in my life.  When I was younger (before therapy), I thought I hated people.  Thankfully, therapy taught me that I don't hate them, and there's no reason to be afraid of strangers.  Since I've never met any of you personally, we're all strangers who have connected over a shared love of creativity.  If I was still holed up in my bedroom, hating people, I wouldn't be connecting with any of you today.  So thankfully, I'm healthier and happier, and on the mend again to restore my full life.

I have a special thanks and a huge virtual hug for my amazing friend Sam of Dunne With Style, who poured through paragraphs upon paragraphs about my anxiety issues and let me complain and feel a little sorry for myself, all while giving the best advice and encouragement.  She's so wise and I'll be forever grateful to her.

{gift courtesy of sweet Sam}
I also want to share this sweet surprise mail I received while all of this was going on...the yummiest homemade strawberry jam I've ever had (in the cutest jar!), and a meaningful keychain from my dear web friend Kathleen...back when I posted on what would have been my mom's 65th birthday, I shared a video and Kathleen left the most encouraging comment to that post.  A couple months later, I got a message from her saying she'd found a key chain while vacationing in Hawaii and it reminded her of the video so she wanted to send it to me.  The box arrived and inside were the keychain, the jam, and a beautiful handmade card (I'm sorry I don't have a photo of the card--it's hanging on my bulletin board).  I teared up a little reading her note and I love the keychain, along with the message she attached to it.

Be present everyday.  These will be the memories of your life.  Oh, how perfectly fitting for the way I've been feeling.

The box arrived when I needed a little love, encouragement, and faith that this world did not just want to chew me up and spit me out.  And this was it.  Kind thoughts and meaningful gifts from a stranger.  Kathleen, your gifts and your friendship are truly appreciated.

All right, enough seriousness...I'll be back tomorrow with something FUN!!  Just because I haven't been online doesn't mean I haven't been making lots and lots of things.  I actually have quite a bit to share with you over the next week and a half so I do hope you'll come back!  xoxo