simplify 101
Creative Organizing Blog

April 30, 2006

weekly challenge: create a fun basket for files and paperwork


If you aren't a fan of paperwork, handling mail, paying bills — this week's challenge is just for you. Let's make those pesky little tasks a bit more fun with a file basket decorated with ribbon labels for your folders. You'll be organized and motivated to tackle that paperwork in no time!


Head on out to Wal-Mart and pick up a wicker basket. This one is sized perfectly for 8 1/2 x 11 file folders and comes with handles, allowing you to transport your paperwork to a cozier work space. Next, make some fun "labels" using scrapbook ribbon, rub-on letters and paper clips. Simple and fun -- what could be better than that!


Remember, let us be inspired by you! If you take the challenge send me your pics or links to your blog so we can see what you're up to! Your projects are so fun for me to see -- and they inspire me! Check out this great clipboard project by Gretchen (fellow Big Picture Scrapbooking instructor.) Isn't it just fabulous?

And then look how busy Jeanette has been taking the challenge!

creative labels

altered clipboard

And be sure to check out the photo album of all the projects ... more to come soon!

April 19, 2006

Weekly Challenge: Infuse Your Labels With Creativity and Fun!

Do you get giddy when you label things? I can relate! I love labels because I see them not as organization gone too far, but as a critical component in the organizational equation. If you subscribed to my newsletter (thanks by the way!) you know I've even gone as far as labeling my refrigerator! Why you ask? Well ... the thing about labels is this. They remind you about the organizational structure even when the stuff being organized is no longer around. Refrigerators are a great example. When you take things out of the refrigerator because you (or your really hungry kids) ate it all up ... the organizational structure is gone. Labels keep the structure in place even when your refrigerator is empty and you need to make a trip to the store. What's more ... when you get back from the grocery store (and are tired like I always am after that lovely chore!) the labels take the thinking out of putting the groceries away. You know exactly where things go because the labels are there to tell you. OK ... so now you're convinced labeling is a necessity ... right?

Alright ... now let's make labeling FUN! Maybe not in the refrigerator but just about everywhere else, OK? Here's an idea to spark your creative juices ...


Let me know if you take the challenge and create some creative labels of your own. Send me an email of your fun and creative labels and I'll post them in the photo album. Can't wait to hear from you and SEE your creative labels!

April 10, 2006

Weekly Challenge: create a decorative clipboard!

I love clipboards. In my office ... at this very minute ... there are at least four. I also hang one in my pantry to quickly capture items we need from the grocery store. Then, I take my clipboard to the grocery store when I shop. (Here's a hint ... if you want to look organized ... take a clipboard to the grocery store.) I have yet another clipboard in my car for keeping track of mileage and dry cleaning coupons. Needless to say ... clipboards are this girl's best friend. (OK ... that's taking it just a notch too far ... but I do love the utility and practicality of the clipboard.)

But there's just one problem. The clipboard, function aside, isn't so much fun. I mean, the standard issue clipboard is brown ... how fun is that? (And remember, this blog is all about having fun getting things done, right?)

So ... here's the solution. What do you think?


This is just a regular brown clipboard embellished just a bit. I made this one for a designer show house I'm helping out with ... so it's a bit more subdued in color than if I were doing it for myself ... but I think the French paper looks pretty cool and will work great in the French country kitchen the designer is doing for the house.

So ... wanna make one? Here's how. Start with a piece of patterned card-stock slightly larger in all directions than your clipboard. Next, using a piece of scrap paper, create a template for the notch by the clip. Trace this onto the patterned paper and then, cut out the notch.  Apply a thin layer of decoupage onto the clipboard and position the card-stock into place. Let dry and then sand the card-stock edges using a foam sanding block. Next, apply a second coat of decoupage, this time on top of the card-stock. Let dry, and embellish with ribbons and a pen.

Have fun ... and if you make one, send me a picture!

March 23, 2006

Weekly challenge: create luggage tags using scrapbook supplies

Don’t you just love it when ideas and inspiration pop up out of nowhere? So I’m at the Boston airport waiting for my luggage … watching all the nearly identical bags pass by on the luggage turnstile when it hits me … why not use scrapbook supplies to make fun and easily recognizable luggage tags? Since I’m still in Boston no pictures … but I’m envisioning brightly colored tags with your name and address in a fun font … perhaps using your own handwriting –or– using your computer and favorite scrapbook fonts. How about embellishing with a monogram sticker? Once your tag is designed and cut to size, laminate it, punch a hole and securely attach it to your bag with scrapbook ribbon. How fun is that? You’ll know instantly which bag is yours and no one will mistake your bag for theirs! (If you do this … email me a picture and I’ll post some pictures on my blog.)

Oh … and one more thing while we’re talking about handwriting. At the conference yesterday the lady sitting next to me looked at my notes and said “cool handwriting!” OK … having just started reading Heidi Swapp’s book “Love Your Handwriting” … I have to say this was a huge compliment for me. I love Heidi’s book. Want to learn more and see more of my favorite scrapbooking books?

March 15, 2006

Weekly Challenge: Intentionally Do Something Imperfect!

If there’s one thing that stifles creative pursuits and efforts to get more organized, it’s the desire to achieve perfection. People fail to start getting organized because they haven’t figured out the perfect solution for every piece of their project. Others don’t start creative projects or begin scrapbooking because they’re afraid the result won’t be perfect. Giving up the quest for perfection is liberating.

This week, do something, anything, imperfectly. Do something you’ve been avoiding because you didn’t think you could do it well enough. Try a new scrapbooking technique, even though you’ll be clumsy. Tackle an organizing project … even if you don’t have figured out every single last detail of the final product.

Now … a little story. I can speak to the topic of perfection very first hand …because you see, I am a recovering perfectionist. I am bound and determined not to pass this trait on to my kids. Don’t get me wrong, there are a time and a place to do your best and create the best possible project, product, output, whatever the case may be, that you can. However, there are also times to simply let go of pressure and judgment … and see what imperfect beauty you create along the way.

In December, my son had a Young Authors project to do for school. His quest was to author and illustrate a book. I went out and bought a blank bound book, handed over a pencil, eraser and colored pencils … and let him at it. Collin and I talked about possible topics for the book. It seemed the project was supposed to be fiction …something the child would create with characters and a plot. My son wanted to write about cars, a non-fictional, fact-based book. “OK,” I thought, we’re not doing this to win … we’re doing this so Collin can enjoy the experience of creating a book … HIS book.

So Collin wrote about cars and drew pictures of cars and wrote about being safe in cars and rules of the road. It was completely his creation. He chose what to write about. What pictures to draw. I corrected no misspelled words. I didn’t worry about places where the eraser didn’t quite catch all the stray marks and mistakes. I simply adored his creation and watching him create.

His book is precious. It’s pure. It’s real. It’s something far better than perfect.

The icing on the cake? Collin and his little book have been selected to represent his school at the State Young Author’s competition. Yes, I’m a proud Mommy. And after this experience, a wiser one, too.

See … there is something better than perfect. I call it … authentic. Seek authentic and see how freeing it is.


March 07, 2006

Weekly Challenge: Create a Goals Board for Your Creative Space


In honor of the Craft and Hobby Association's National Craft Month, I'll be posting a weekly mini-project to help you create an organized and inspiring creative space!

This week's challenge ... creating a "goals board" for your creative space.

The board shown in the picture is the goals board in my office. As you can see (maybe?) my number one goal is the happy scrapper ... first to complete writing it (goal accomplished!) and now to market and sell it. I also have a list of my professional goals hanging in eye sight ... so if ever I start day dreaming, right smack dab in my line of vision is a list of my goals to guide me back on track. This board is for my top three business priorities, but behind me I have personal goals with magazine clippings to represent different personal goals I'm working towards. Once you create the board, fill it with images that inspire you to create the life you want!

OK ... here's what you'll need to create a goals board of your own:

  • one piece of homasote board. (mine is 2' x 3' ... I say go as big as your space can accommodate!) The link is for a dealer locater so you can find a homasote dealer near you. I highly recommend asking your dealer to cut the board to size ... since cutting this stuff makes the biggest mess you've ever seen. (Wish I had pictures of that!)
  • one piece of burlap sized approximately six inches larger (in both directions) than your homasote board. Check out Hancock Fabrics for burlap.
  • house numbers — numerals 1 through 3 (This is optional, but great if you'll use your board as a priorities board.)
  • staple gun
  • safety goggles
  • images of your goals and priorities

All you have to do to complete the project is wrap the burlap around the pre-cut board. Staple the excess fabric to the back of the board to secure the burlap tightly in place. Then ... find compelling images of your goals and tack them up. Type your goals on the computer, print them, and post them on your board, too. Then each day, take action to work towards your goals!

p.s. the happy scrapper is loaded with ideas like this for creating an organized and inspiring scrap space. I hope you'll check it out!

February 25, 2006

Swiffer Dusters Rock …

So if you’re a newsletter subscriber you know this about me already. Sometimes I get a little bit excited about products. And today … well, the product I adore today is my swiffer duster. I learned about this product while doing a needs assessment for a client. She literally did a demonstration and was just plain thrilled by it. After I left, I just kept thinking about her … her demo .. and how this product must really be life changing for her to be so compelled to do such a wonderful demo. Since I couldn’t get it out of my head … it landed right smack dab in my shopping cart on my next Target shopping trip. What I found .. it is a truly remarkable product, allowing me to put to a swift end the dust on my ceiling fan blades … a situation I had previously chosen to overlook, since 1) I just don’t spend too much time looking up at the ceiling, and 2) I really had no good way for dealing with this problem anyway.

So here’s the best part … today, we simply couldn’t take it anymore. All these months of winter had taken a huge toll on our cars. So … Jay and I gathered up the kids, paper towels, window cleaner, shop vac, the swiffer duster, and headed outside to take on the grungy cars. So you know all those nooks and crannies in your car that you just can’t seem to get clean? Well … the swiffer … it gets in there and gets them clean. No more dust. No more dirt. No more grunge! Truly, this product rocks. (I said this out loud as I was swiffering … and Jay concurred. If a man thinks a duster rocks … the duster rocks.)

Go forth and buy a swiffer.

OK .. so last night was just plain cool. I attended the NAWMBA and ArchWIT Conference at Washington University in St. Louis. I got to hang out with inspiring, intelligent, entrepreneurial women and participate as a panel member in a really thought provoking panel discussion about entrepreneurialism. So fun. (Thank you Hunter for getting me involved with this event! It was really cool.)

So here’s the takeaway … what event can you go to that will inspire you? Really get you thinking? Surround you with likeminded people who can fuel your creative energy and get you motivated to take action? Find the event. Sign up. Go.

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