simplify 101
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January 29, 2007

music to my ears

"Mommy, this organized game cabinet is really nice."

Ahh ... I just love that. I recently reorganized the game cabinet after the Christmas in flow onslaught of *stuff*. Just part of the gradual reclaiming of the home after the holidays. Do you do that, too? It's so funny how when the Christmas tree goes up I'm so happy about it. Just love it. But by the end of it's stay I feel like I can't breathe anywhere in my house. Between the new gifts to find homes for and the Christmas decorations ... it's just so full. The house feels unpleasantly full. I crave emptiness. So I start this ongoing room by room, very gradual reorganizing effort. A drawer here. A game cabinet there. So ... it's just so nice that one eight year old boy noticed ... made me happy.

He has a cold. I have a love-hate relationship with kid's colds. My boy is so dang sweet when he's sick ... so I love that. But I totally hate that he's miserable. Just love that he's so affectionate and more willing to play some of the board games that don't involve running, screaming and other random acts of energy that are counter productive just before bed time. And that he notices things like organized game cabinets.

Speaking of simplifying after the holidays ... this year I decided to really streamline the decor in my great room. Brought back out just a few decorations ... and tried to keep things white. This all white theme was inspired by this headline in Cottage Living:  "Whiten Up! Discover the serenity of all-white rooms." From claustrophobia to serenity ...that's what I was after. So in lieu of the normal decor in that room ... I scoured my house for white stuff ... white candles, white plates, more white candles ... if it was white it was coming out of hiding. I was a women on a mission. Serenity the final destination. It worked ... more breathing room and it feels so good. Still. Nearly a month later.

It's just so fun to change the way rooms look from season to season ... don't you think? In my perfect world I'd have a cabinet filled with seasonal items to bring out as I choose or need a change or more breathing room. Do you do that, too? If so, what are some of your favorite decorating ideas for the different seasons ... ones like the use-what-you-have-so-there-are-white-candles-everywhere scenario? Since the seasonal cabinet is in my perfect world and not my real world, I'd love to hear your fun, use-what-you-have seasonal decor ideas ... for any season. Yes ... that'd be fun. Got any ideas to share?

January 22, 2007

oh scrap!

I was recently emailing with a scrapbooker about scraps. (You've done this before, too. Right?) Here was her question:

"What do you do when your scrap drawer gets out of hand (too big)? Do you throw it all away or take the (huge amount of) time to go through them?"

Going through them doesn't sound like much fun, does it? Especially when you could be scrapbooking instead ;)

I assume the oldest scraps are on the bottom? So how about digging a bunch of the scraps out from the bottom … and either get rid of the handful right away … or decide how much time you want to give to it to go through it. Set a timer and then just dig through picking out your very favorite scraps to keep. For the rest, find a happy home. You could use them for a collage project of your own, or give them to your kids for a collage project (or two or three) or you could donate your scraps to a school or daycare.

Here are a couple of projects that use scrapbook paper scraps, direct mail postcards ... and the even pages from some old scrapbook products catalogs. Here's one Kailea made during the great ice storm of 2006. It was a gift for her Daisy Troop's Secret Sister gift exchange.


And here's how I killed time during the ice storm ...


So if you have an excess of scraps, some extra magazines or catalogs, an empty box and some decoupage ... you've got everything you need for a fun little storage container. You could use this in your craft space for stashing supplies, in your entry way for holding keys or receipts or anything else you just don't want to look at anymore ... or ... oooh! I just thought of this:  how about cutting a hole in the back of the box and running the cell phone charger cord out the back and creating a little cell phone charging station? Oh that could be fun. The possibilities ... the possibilities! Have fun and if you have any other fun ideas for your scraps ... I'd love to hear them!

January 21, 2007

finally ... a project!

At long last ... a fun little project. Doesn't have too much to do with organizing (unless you have a slightly disorganized tooth fairy in your neighborhood and need to keep evidence of the teeth out in the open so the fairy will be sure to stop by ...)


It's a tooth fairy pillow with a little pocket for tucking the teeth and money inside. But first ... a story.

My son has been dying to learn how to sew. So last night, while Jay and Kailea went to a Father-Daughter dance, Collin and I stayed home and sewed. He wanted to make a shirt for our lab Maggie. Realizing that Maggie would not appreciate our efforts, I had a two-step plan for our project. First, we sewed the "shirt" ... a fabric tube that we slid onto her via her back legs. The tube just wrapped loosely around her stomach. Here's a really bad picture of our "shirt" and Maggie's predictable reaction to it.


Step 2 of my plan ... turn the tube into a pillow cover. I just happened to have an extra pillow insert so we stuffed the insert inside the tube formerly known as Maggie's "shirt", sewed the open ends closed, and voila! Collin made his first pillow.

Having a new found love for sewing pillows ... Collin made me a pillow for my new space.


So happy, isn't it? I sewed the bottom edge and cut the fabric and pressed the seams but he did the actual sewing. (He was very disappointed to learn that sewing involves ironing ... so I did that part.)

Today Kailea wanted to learn how to sew, too, and Collin was eager to make something else. I thought it'd be fun to make something that doesn't require pressing seams (remembering I would be the designated seam-presser) so I came up with this tooth fairy pillow idea. Super simple project made using left over fleece and a button from my scrapbook stash.

Hope you enjoy and if you make one ... I'd love to see a picture!

Have a great week!

January 19, 2007

a scene from my new space

or ... "Hark! Who goes there!"


Seriously, there is a little owl living right outside the window of my new space. I don't know that I've ever seen an owl --- except at the zoo --- until now. And now I get to see one every day. Isn't he cute? My kids named him "Fluffy." Fluffy the owl. Seemed fun until we realized that owls don't eat bird seed ... nope, small living things like rodents. Too bad they don't eat really big spiders. Then I could just take him with me on my organizing gigs.

So it's occurring to me that this creative organizing blog has become a bit of "Aby's-run-ins-with-nature" lately. Guess that's the thing about a blog ... you just never know what you're going to be compelled to share. And lately, there's just been a lot of nature on my mind. Oh yes, update on the ice storm:  it missed us. Whew! We're feeling very lucky.

So enough about nature ... creative organizing ideas coming soon. In the meantime, if you're in a pinch, check out my newsletter that I sent out earlier this week. In it I share success strategies for making change in your home and life, as well as ideas on organizing paperwork.

OH ... and if you don't get the newsletter you haven't heard! We're running a sale on the happy scrapper! Check it out if you're looking for ideas to organize your scrapbooking ... it's for a limited time only.


Alright ... have a happy Friday!

January 16, 2007

great idea for kids artwork!

OK I seriously love this. Such a cute idea. I was purusing Jennifer's blog and found this. How fun! I seriuosly want the family necklace. Great find, Jennifer! Just had to share ... probably beats the artwork binder but could get a bit expensive. ;)

January 12, 2007


We're in complete disbelief. More ice is on it's way. ICE! On it's way!!! How can this be? It's a complete freak show in our house right now ... people scurrying around trying to figure out the best things to do with all this electricity we have on hand right now. Should we vacuum? Should we just turn on every light in the house so we can remember what it's like to be in bright light? Should we blog? Craft? Play video games? What's the best thing to do with what could possibly be the last bit of power we have for a while?

We've got cell phones charging and laundry in the dryer and all fingers and toes crossed hoping that it just misses us this time. Wish it would miss everyone but that's not looking like it's going to be the case. Unfortunately.

So if it appears that I fall off the face of the earth again (and who would notice at the rate I've been blogging) ... well ... you'll know the ice could be to blame ... or it could be that I'm just still a lame blogger ... in which case maybe I should be vacuuming right now instead of rambling on and on in this post ... but since I've started with the rambling bit ... I shall continue.

In more exciting news ... I had an encounter with the hugest spider I've ever seen in my life today ... while at a client's house. That's tricky. I'm sitting there in this beautifully finished basement (the last place on earth you would expect to see the creature I encountered) sorting through some papers. All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I see something move swiftly. Very swiftly. I hop up and then peer cautiously around the corner ... expecting to see a small bug of some sort. But instead ... I see the hugest spider I've ever seen in my entire life and I'm completely terrified of spiders. Here's the huge victory ... I didn't scream! Nope ... not a peep. (HUGE victory.) Instead I said "Uh, do you have any bug spray?"

My client who had gone upstairs sensed the terror in my voice and sent in her son to ... uh ... take care of the furry (huge) fellow. Whew. He said it was a wolf spider ... do a Google if you want to see one. It'd be the big furry one. (Her son said it looked like a small tarantula ... I would have to agree.) I was going to include a link ... but really ... you probably don't want to see it if you're a spider phobe. And if you're not you're probably mad at me for having it ... uh ... taken care of. I'm sorry. It was really scary.

OK ... clearly I have better things to do than to freak you out about spiders. But just one last rhetorical question before I go. How can I encounter a spider and an ice storm in the SAME DAY?

January 11, 2007

"Pat, I'd like to buy a vowel."

Nope, I'm not going on Wheel of Fortune (wouldn't that be crazy?) I was just reminded of that when I received this from Carrie.

"My daughter in Germany told me about your website.  She wanted me to be sure and tell her dad that I am not the only magazine addict!  We also like to scrapbook and she is an organizing fiend!  Your site is her new "guilty

I have a question about scrapbooking.  I usually buy sheets of the alphabet stickers. I have lots of different colors and fonts, but I always run out "e"s.  I hate to keep buying whole sheets just for the "e".  Is there an economical alternative?  I have seen paper punches with a little swirl design that could double as an "e" in a pinch, but I thought I would see if you had another idea.

Thanks for your help,

This is what I sent Carrie.

"Hi Carrie,

Thank you so much for your email. I'm so glad your daughter is enjoying the site (and that I have partners-in-crime in my magazine addiction!)

As far as the letter e goes ... that's a bit of a tricky one. Do you like to mix alphabets? If so ... one thing you could do is invest in a basic alphabet stamp set. And then you could mix stamped letters and sticker letters for an eclectic look.

Do you ever use your computer for journaling? You could use a letter sticker for the first letter of the word ... and then journal the rest with the computer.

There used to be (and I haven't looked in a while) alphabet punches, too. EK Success made them ... So you could buy an 'e' punch and use it as you suggested for the swirl punch.

Let me post this on my blog and see if anyone else out there has any creative ideas.

Thanks for your email!


OK fellow scrapbookers ... I know you've got some great ideas out there ... can we help Carrie with her "e" dilemma?

January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

Wow. A fresh, new year. I love a New Year. A fresh start filled with possibility. Ahh ... so fun.

So what are your plans for the new year? Are you making resolutions? Yes? Oh please, do share! I'd love to hear what you've been up to and what you have planned ... it's been a while!

One resolution I'm setting this year ... be a better blogger in December! Ha ha! Where in the world was Aby Garvey in the month of December, anyway? Well ... I won't bore you with ALL the gory details, but the big news is that we did a spontaneous office / scrapbook studio move. As you know, my hubby Jay joined simplify 101 in October. We were sharing an office and enjoyed each other's company very much. But ... we  just didn't have enough room and ... well ... disorganization ensued. Crisis, right? So in the midst of the holiday clutter we did what any (in)sane couple would do and decided to turn our guest room into a second office.

The madness that followed included a spontaneous trip by me to IKEA in Chicago. This, after a sleepless night where I literally tossed and turned worrying endlessly that someone else would buy up my precious XPEDIT bookcases before I arrived at the store. (Insane. Remember?) Yep. I woke up at 5:00 AM and made the trek to Chicago ... arriving before the store opened at 10 AM. I snagged my bookcases and a desk for Jay ... leaving just enough space in my little CRV for me and the rest of my IKEA loot. (Like about a million glass jars and candles.) I was back home in time for dinner.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the saint also known as Jay was painting my new space. This, after the patient man didn't even get upset when I bought an entire gallon of paint and decided I didn't like the color. So ... back to the store I went but this time I visited a store that carried samples. Brilliant! Those little samples are absolutely brilliant. I picked up a couple of these little gems.


The big decision? Do I go with Dill Pickle or Pale Sea Mist? Pale Sea Mist was the hands-down winner. The dill pickle was just a touch too pickley for me. So now ... things are still in disarray but I'm functional (as is he) and we're making much progress.

The magazines? Well ... I didn't forget about the 12 week challenge ... I just re-prioritized. Oddly enough ... the magazines are not yet in my new space. What does this mean? I haven't found a home for them yet ... interesting, isn't it? I'll keep you posted on their fate. So, how about you? Did you wrap up your 12 week challenge during my blogging hiatus?

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