simplify 101
Creative Organizing Blog

June 01, 2009

Butterfly Mobile, Feng Shui for My Office and Feeling Energized

Lots on my mind today! So let’s get right to it…

I woke up on this first day of June feeling energized and excited! Perhaps it’s because of my new butterfly mobile?


Or perhaps it’s because it’s the first day of June? There are just three more days of school which has me excited in both the good sense (as in woohoo!) and in the bad sense (as in how on earth did we get here already and how solid is our summer plan?)

Catalog Photo-cropped Or maybe I’m feeling super energized because Organizing 101 starts tomorrow and for the first time ever, I am participating both as the instructor and as a student. I have big plans for reorganizing some areas in my home this summer, and I’ll share my projects with Organizing 101 students via the online forum and photo gallery. So maybe that is the cause for my sudden burst of extra energy and excitement. I’m not sure, really. But, let’s get back to the butterfly mobile and the Feng Shui for my office.

So, the weekend before last, my friend Elise and her husband and kids came over for Topopo Salad. (If you’re from Michigan and have been to El Azteco, in East Lansing you, too, may be a fan of this fine college-town delicacy.) We enjoyed a huge Topopo Salad and margaritas, and then, Elise gave me some Feng Shui advice for my office. (How lucky am I to have a friend that is a Feng Shui guru? I know; I’m lucky indeed.)  


So, based on Elise’s Feng Shui wisdom, and the inspiration of this weekend creative project from Ali (a project that has been percolating in my brain for over a year!), I decided to make a butterfly mobile for my office. I had the chance to put this plan into action this past weekend, and I do believe it is part of my extra energy today!

PaintNow, I really did turn this into a weekend long project…working on it in little bits throughout the weekend. Friday afternoon I trekked on over to Michael's and picked up fifteen wooden butterflies, a little bottle of paint, and a wooden embroidery hoop. That evening, I sat on my front porch, enjoyed a refreshing drink, chatted with Jay and painted my butterflies green. (I love crafting outdoors this time of year! Talk about mixing two of my favorite things into one! Ahhh…love that.) 


Then, on Saturday morning, and again in the late afternoon, I returned to the front porch for one of my all-time favorite pastimes: decoupaging. I decoupaged the front of each butterfly with some of my favorite patterned paper from my scrapbook stash. As you may have predicted, there were a few papers from Basic Grey in the mix (but I didn’t use Romani this time!) I also used the very last bit of this paper from Sweetwater.


The other three butterflies I left plain green and used rub-ons to add some inspiring words—two past words of the year, in fact.

Things were going good! On Sunday, I made a trip to Wal-Mart to buy some green rickrack and some clear monofilament string. Then, I came home, hot glued the butterflies to the rickrack, glued the rickrack to the embroidery hoop, and finished up my butterfly mobile. Jay (in addition to helping me with the math to properly position the rickrack) installed a hook in the ceiling in my office to hang my butterfly mobile.

I’m really happy with how it turned out—except for one minor problem. The mobile naturally wants to hang with its back to me. No matter how I turn the hook that it hangs from, those little butterflies keep turning their backs on me. Crazy, isn’t it?


I like the front much better. And I have a feeling it is better from a Feng Shui perspective to have my mobile facing forward as much as possible. (Am I right, Elise?)

So, I’m moving on to Plan B. My new plan is to make the mobile have two fronts. I’ll paint and / or cover fifteen more butterflies and glue them to the backs of my current butterflies. But, this is where things get tricky…and where I’m hoping you can help me. Remember how I mentioned that I used the very last bit of my favorite Sweetwater paper for this project? I’m desperate to find a scrap of this paper so I can finish up this project and be able to see the fronts of my little butterflies in all their glory, all the time.

Here it is again...does it look like something you have in your stash?


I just hope beyond hope someone has a full sheet or even a scrap of this patterned paper. If you do, and if you’re willing to part with it for me, here’s what I’m going to do. (Thanks to Jay for this idea! )

You will have your choice of a free seat in Organizing 101 or a free copy of the happy scrapper. Oh what the heck, let’s make it both! I really want this paper! I only need a 6” x 6” section of this paper to create my little butterflies! That's quite some loot for a 6” x 6” section of this paper. Perhaps I've gone nuts. 

In any case, the first person to post in the comments and say "I have a 6” x 6” piece of that Sweetwater paper and I'd be happy to mail it to you!" will get Organizing 101 and a copy of "the happy scrapper"…on me. (Plus, more gratitude from me than you can possibly imagine.)

I have my fingers crossed that one of you has this paper and wants to share. If not…I may have to come up with plan C…but I really like the sounds of Plan B.

OK…thanks for enduring this really long post. Keep your fingers crossed for me! 

**Updated! Cindy has the paper and is happy to share! Thank you, Cindy!**

September 07, 2008

kid's scrapbook ideas

A while back, I blogged about the Brownie Scrapbook project for my daughter's Brownie troop. My friend Brenda asked me about this project earlier this week, so I thought now was a good time to show you the finished scrapbook and share some thoughts on organizing a project like this for a group of Brownies or other kiddos.

First, here are some photos of the scrapbook my daughter put together.



For this project we put together a kit for each girl. We thought it would be easier for each girl to have a kit instead of a bunch of random products to choose from. If you've ever been to a scrapbook class or make-and-take where there were options'll know where I'm coming from. The fewer decisions the better—especially with a room full of first graders who have never scrapbooked before. (At least that was my take on it.)

So back to the kits. We started with a 6 x 6 Preservation Album from SEI. Then, we purchased coordinating scrapbook products such as 12 x 12 patterned paper, buttons, paper clips, binder clips, flowers, a bit of ribbon, and brads. I sorted the buttons, paper clips and brads into bowls and then transferred them into small Gladware containers. The thinking here was that it would be easier for each girl to keep track of her embellishments if they were in a little Gladware container rather than in a plastic bag which would ultimately get dumped out and spread all over the table. This part worked quite well.


Also in the little Gladware container were punched shapes like hearts, flowers, and stars. One of the pieces of patterned paper we selected had words in colored circles (see the word "run" in the photo above.) I used a circle punch to cut out the words and divvied them up between the Gladware containers / girls. This made for a cute, but super cheap embellishment. The words said things like jump, twirl, play, sing, smile, laugh, etc. (Paper was from KI Memories (I think) but I can't find it on their website.)

For each two page layout, the girls had a journaling page and a sheet of 6 x 6 card-stock or patterned paper to use on the facing page with their photos and embellishments. We purchased extra card-stock and patterned paper and I cut them into strips, 6" long by 1" or so. These strips were then used as embellishments for the scrapbook...such as on the journaling page. 

The scrapbooks were called "All About Me" and included ten pages of journaling on various topics such as School, Holidays and Celebrations, Friends, and so on. I printed the journaling pages for each girl ahead of time, and at the first meeting we showed the girls a completed, sample scrapbook and had them start on their journaling. We sent the journaling pages home with them to finish up, along with a list of photos to bring to the next meeting.

If you'd like to see (and use) the journaling pages, here's a link to the Word Doc I put together. Download brownie_scrapbook_6_x_6.doc The fonts used are Futura and Bradley Hand if you don't have those fonts on your computer and the document looks weird...that's why. Also, the pages are formatted to be 6" x 6" I just ran 6" x 6" card-stock through my printer to print the pages.

The girls were first graders, and for some, the journaling was quite a bit of work. So, if you want to do this project with younger girls, I'd suggest scaling back on the number of questions per page.

As I mentioned, we had the girls do the journaling at the first meeting (finishing up at home) and then come to the second meeting with photos and their completed journaling pages. We also invited all the Brownie Mom's to attend the second meeting and help out. (A good call...though it would have helped if I had had a few more completed scrapbooks on-hand or photo copies of some example pages. I know this is shocking (wink), but not everyone the one Dad who attended the meeting. So some extra examples would have helped show the Moms and Brownies options for using the supplies, even though there were no real rules for which supplies went where and no preset design for the inside pages.)

All in all, this was a super fun project, and the completed scrapbooks turned out really cute. I wanted to have the girls create something that was a snapshot of their life at that moment in time. I love that it includes their own handwriting and is about their whole life—not just the Brownie experience.'s late and I have rambled on and on about this. If I've missed something major (aside from the name of the KI Memories paper with the words on it) let me know in the comments. And if you want to share any of your scrapbooking-with-kids-ideas—you know I'd love to hear them! Thanks. :)

January 07, 2008

Banner How-To

A few of you have asked for more info on how to make the birthday banners. This is a fun and simple project that could be used for all sorts of events and holidays. I’m thinking of making one for Valentine’s Day…we’ll see. Maybe I’ll go super simple and just make an L-O-V-E banner. ;)

To make the banner select some basic card-stock and coordinating patterned paper. Then, you’ll need a spool of ribbon (mine was Orfray from Wal-Mart), foam alphabet stamps (I used Making Memories, I think the Simply Fab set. The letters in the set I used range in height from about 2 ½” to over 3 ¼” tall just for reference); paint (I used paint from Junkitz). For tools, I used the Basic Grey Notch and Die cutting system and a foam paint brush. Oh, and you’ll need some adhesive and a paper trimmer.


Putting the banner together is pretty simple. Use a paper trimmer to cut your squares. The outer squares measure 6” x 6” and the inner squares are 4” x 4”. 

Adhere the 4” squares to the center of the 6” squares. Then, use paint and stamps to create your message. Allow paint to dry.

Next, use the notch tool to make two vertical slits in the center of each 6” x 6” card-stock square.


The two slits are approximately an inch apart. Once you've made your notches, thread your ribbon through the slits of each card-stock square (carefully so the slits don’t tear) and viola! you’ve got yourself a banner.


To hang, I used simple map pins pushed right into the dry wall.  (Tiny holes, up high. It worked for me.)

Like I said when I made the first banner…I wasn’t quite up for figuring out how to deal with the triangle shaped banners. If you know how to make that kind (or have other ideas for how to attach the ribbon, because threading it through the slits is a bit time consuming) please share! I love hearing your ideas.

December 05, 2007

fitting high tech gadgets into your inspired workspace (plus a fun little project!)

If you caught up on my blog over at online organizing, you may have noticed that I got a new printer, the Epson RX595.  I love this printer. So I had to share even more about it, just in case you’re in the market for a printer. (A great thing to add to your Christmas wish list and it's on sale at this very moment.) As I said in the earlier post, having a high quality photo printer, has really helped me overcome one of my biggest scrapbooking obstacles: easy access to printed photos. It’s seriously amazing how much of an obstacle that has been for me. Here’s a great example, I've wanted to create this little project since last year.


It’s a wallet sized photo album of favorite photos from the past year. I’ll tuck this little gem into my purse, and then, when I’m out and about and see people I haven’t seen in a while (who ask to see photos of my kids) I’ll have a sampling of great photos at the ready. Or when I travel, I'll have little smiling faces along with me for the trip. This project would also make a great stocking stuffer for Grandmas and Grandpas. And with the new printer, it was a snap. I just selected 18 prints, put in two 8 ½" by 11" sheets of photo paper, selected wallet sized photos, and viola! two sheets of wallet sized photos printed in just minutes.


Then, I pulled out my handy-dandy laminator, trimmed the photos, ran them through the lamintor, punched holes on the side using a regular hole punch, and secured the stack with a binder ring. Add a bit of ribbon (Orfray and Stemma) and a tag from Making Memories, and she’s all done. Super simple and better yet—done—courtesy of the new printer.


The best part is that I made this project in about thirty minutes, instead of putting it off for another year! Yes, huge obstacles to scrapbooking happiness have been removed by this fabulous printer.

While technology can really help on the "organized" front, it can be tough on the “inspiration” front. It's not always easy to fit high tech gadgets into your scrapbook space, and still have it look inspiring. Wouldn’t you agree? That’s another reason I love this printer. Not only is it compact—it fits right onto the little table that sits behind my computer desk—but it’s also a multi-tasking dynamo. It prints high quality photos, has a built-in scanner and it can even print photo CD’s. Love that. It’s really everything I need in one compact little box. So instead of a big printer and a scanner, its one little electronic gizmo that blends right in with the little black table that was already in my space. Ah…inspiring and organized and on sale. Oh happy day.

August 29, 2007

more back-to-school ideas

Later today I'll be sending out the August edition of the simplify 101 newsletter. (If you aren't a subscriber, be sure to sign up here.) This month's newsletter is loaded with ideas to get organized for back-to-school. Here's a little sample from this month's article:

Remember not to forget. Create a simple system by the door to help you remember your new routine or special items you need to take with you each day:  gym shoes on gym day, violin on music day, and snacks on snack day. Hang a bin or basket by your door to corral the items you need to remember, or create a fun little “don’t forget” door hanger with a built in pocket for your daily checklist.


I made this using a Creative Imaginations Bare Elements door hanger, rub-ons and chip board arrow from American Crafts, my very favorite paper line (Romani by Basic Grey) and a storage bin label available from our store at simplify 101. It's super simple to make:

1. Cover door hanger with card stock using craft glue stick.

2. Sand off excess card stock using sanding block.

3. Apply rub-on letters.

4. Cover door hanger and chip board arrow with decoupage. Let dry.

5. Glue arrow to door hanger.

6. Adhere storage bin label and fill with your daily reminder checklist.

Voila! Never forget gym shoes on gym day again. Oh...and don't forget to sign up for the simplify 101 newsletter. ;)

August 20, 2007

a fun, back-to-school project

Today is the last day of summer break. (!) Yes. I'm pretty excited. It was fun while it lasted, but then it got hot, dry and not so fun. So alas, on to something new. School!

We've been getting supplies, lunch boxes, and backpacks have all been purchased. Both kids have freshly cut hair. Just a few things left to finish shoes for Collin, empty three-ring binders for this year's artwork and papers, and putting the finishing touches on their bedrooms (my Dad came to visit this no new progress on that front...but I did make a new Crock Pot recipe thanks to all of your great ideas!)

So while out school supply shopping, I stumbled upon the composition books. You know, the black swirly ones that go for 50 cents a pop this time of year? I picked up two, not really sure what I'd do with them (but at a buck total, it was worth the risk if I didn't come up with something.) So the little books sat there...just waiting for me to come up with something...and then it hit me. I've been wanting to do a shared journal with my kids for a really long time, so why not now? While this may seem crazy, with school and homework starting and all, but it also coincides with a new rule in our home. This new rule is destined to free up a bunch of time for one eight year old boy that calls our house home: no video games during the week! So our shared journal will be a really fun way to fill some of that spare time. At least I think so. We'll see what he thinks.

So here are the journals. One for Collin:


And the inside:


The paper and "i love you" tile is from KI Memories and the letter stickers and rub-ons are from American Crafts. (The letter stickers on the front are the new, vinyl sticker letters from American Crafts. So fun!)

And here's Kailea's:


Kailea helped me make hers. She picked out all the paper for the inside and outside (from Stemma). The inside doesn't match, but she told me it doesn't matter if it matches, as long as we like it. (I always learn something important when I make things with my kids.)

The plan is that we'll take turns writing in the journals. When I finish writing in one of their journals, I'll put it on their bed. Then they write something in it for me, and when they're finished, they leave it on my bed. And back and forth it will go.

It'll be fun to see how their writing changes throughout the year. Collin is learning cursive and Kailea will be polishing up her printing skills. I think it will be fun to ask them questions about their day at school, their teacher, friends, and things like that. And if they want they can draw pictures or tell me what they want for their birthday or Christmas. It'll also be a place to tell them when they make my proud or to thank them for little things like making their bed, and stuff like that.

I'm super excited. I have my first entry done and will go "hide" the journals on their bed soon! Can't wait to see where this leads us. I figure it will take me maybe ten minutes a day...if both kids get theirs back to me every day (which isn't terribly likely.) But worst case scenario, ten minutes a day to focus solely on writing notes to my kiddos. A good investment indeed.

August 09, 2007

artwork, artwork everywhere!

It's about to happen!

If you have school-aged know what I mean:  the onslaught of papers is about to begin!

My go to solution for dealing with all that artwork and school work is the three ring binder system that I blogged about oh-so-many months ago. Super simple...but it doesn't give the artwork it's day-in-the-sun. So, here's a new idea, a not so simple idea, but a new one none-the-less.


This, my friends, is a giant artwork collage, created using a 36" x 36" stretched canvas. I wanted some big artwork for our basement family room, and thought it would be fun to make a collage using some of my favorite artwork made by my daughter Kailea. I made this last winter as a possible project for the memorabilia chapter of the book. (We went with something a lot, uh, smaller and simpler but still involving kid's artwork.)

Anyway, I don't know about where you are...but it's super hot here and this would be a great way to pass some time indoors in the air, and get some of last year's artwork taken care of. All you need to make this is: a 36 x 36 stretched canvas (I got mine on-line at a going out of business sale), a really big bottle of decoupage, a foam brush (or two), a whole slew of kids artwork and an appreciation for spending the day with sticky fingers. To make it, I simply adhered the artwork to the canvas with decoupage. I cut some of the art to fit where I wanted it to go. Once all the artwork was in place, I added a top coat of decoupage. Viola! Eight hours later a collage. ;)

In the process of creating this I discovered a few things:

1) Creating a collage is really not as easy as it looks. I become keenly aware midstream that I had no idea what I was doing. But oh well, it was a lot of fun.

2) It's not a great idea to ask your husband's opinion about your collage if you don't really want it.

3) Art created with marker runs when covered with decoupage. It can be a cool effect...but if that would bother you, stick to art pieces made with crayon.

Alright...someone asked for a project, so here it is! It's sort of organizing because now you have something to do with all that artwork. Right? And it should keep you busy for a I can go put the finishing touches on that organizing project I told you about. And then, I will post pictures. I promise.

Have a great weekend!

July 02, 2007

travel planner...

In less than a week I'm leaving on a jet plane for the wonderful state of Washington. Seriously, I can't believe this trip is here. Already! We've been planning it for over a year and yet it's catching me by surprise that it's here! Already! Yippee!!!

My brother, sister and I are each taking my Mom on a leg of this once-in-a-lifetime-dream-vacation. This trip was her 70th birthday present (and Christmas present, and Mother's day, and every other holiday since she turned 70. I think this was even her 71st birthday gift, too!) So it's a big deal vacation.

Anyway, my Mom and my brother (and his family) are in California right now and then on Sunday Mom flies to Seattle to meet up with me. Later in the week we'll spend some time touring Washington with my sister and her husband. (I hope to check out some of the sights you all posted about! Thanks again for that, BTW.)

This is truly a once in a lifetime vacation. Not just for my Mom. But for me, too. So I want to be sure to capture all my memories of being together and traveling in a state I've never been to before. So I put together this little binder. It will serve as a planner and a journal during the trip, and then a scrapbook when I get back home.


I used one of my favorite organizing friends the Russell & Hazel mini binder. Then, as luck would have it ... I happened upon Making Memories new travel line on a recent trip to Archivers. Have you seen it? It's totally darling. I was seriously giddy when I saw these products. The ribbon says "together" and that is exactly what this trip is all about: being together ... my Mom and me together for a whole week. Ah yes ...something you scrapbookers out there can all relate to: finding perfectly appropriate ribbon and getting giddy. My sister on the other hand was completely confused by me and my overly excited reaction to these products ... but THAT's another story.

Back to the binder. On the outside I used some of the MM super cute chipboard letters. I sanded the edges a bit ... just because I love a good excuse to use these tools from Basic Grey ... and, well, I thought it would look cool.


On the inside I added some Avery sheet protectors and slipped each day's agenda inside. The agenda is printed on scrapbook paper and embellished with rub-ons from the MM travel line. This agenda will serve as a useful tool while on the trip...housing essential info like hotel confirmation numbers, phone numbers, and so on.


But I've also left space to jot down things I want to remember each day. I'm going to add a map of the area of the state we'll be in (cut to fit inside the protectors) as well as a few MapQuest travel directions. I've left a blank page opposite each agenda where I've tucked in a tag ... again from the MM travel line. I plan to add photos or more journaling or even some ticket stubs from our whale watch or other interesting memorabilia I collect along the way. And because it's a three ring binder, I can rearrange things when I get back to accommodate the photos I want to add.

I'm sure I'll make some full page layouts about this once-in-a-lifetime vacation, too ... but I know the rest of my life will kick into high gear as soon as I get back. (CHA anyone?) So I'm super excited to know I'll have a place to capture my reflections while they're happening on the trip and a great reason to print some of my photos as soon as I get back home!

Thanks for letting me share ... I hope you enjoyed the tour of my travel planner and can adapt some of these ideas for your own summer travels.

May 29, 2007

altered file folders - how to make 'em


Playing some catch up today! Here's a quick how-to on the altered file folders. I started with the straight-cut file folders (plain ol' vanilla manila). Using my paper cutter I trimmed of the edge of the folder, and then rounded them with a corder rounder. Then, I used glue stick and scrapbook paper to cover the front of the folder (using the pink and orange patterned paper from Basic Grey.) Then, I cut a strip of the pink paper for the tab. I didn't cover the whole inside flap, just the tab plus about a half inch or so below what is showing. For the "K" tab I used a circle punch and cut two circles out of card-stock. I used glue stick to hold them together and attach them to the front and back of the file folder. American Crafts rub-on letters and thickers were used to label each folder.

Enjoy! Email me photos if you make your own folders! I love to see what you create! Have a happy Tuesday that feels like a Monday :)

April 06, 2007

a project ...

just for fun!


Kailea and I made this little family journal tonight. It will sit in a basket on our kitchen counter and be a place for any family member to record whatever is on their mind or going on in their life. Got this idea from Rebecca Sower's very inspiring book Scrapbooking Life's Little Moments which I picked up when I was in Utah in March. I've been dying to make one of my own ever since. Such a fun idea, don't you think? And at long last ... here she is! Super excited to see what unfolds on the pages ahead. Let me know if you feel inspired and make one, too. I'd love to see it! Maybe a good project for the holiday weekend? It's too cold here to do much else but play with paper indoors! (OK ... maybe we'll play with some eggs, too.)

I hope you have a terrific weekend!

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