Getting Creative With What You Have Part Two

Cathy Hay – How To Finish What You Start

This might seem to be a bit of a side track to being creative with what you have, but I think Cathy’s comments about getting the job(s) done make sense no matter what the job might be.

How many of us take on a new hobby or a project only to feel overwhelmed and defeated but not knowing exactly why? As Cathy stated about her embroidery project and her cookery issues, it came down to tools.

You might be surprised to learn that sometimes the apparent roadblocks to success can be overcome with some very simple solutions.

I mentioned that I am often slow to jump into some projects but once I’ve made up my mind on what I want, in I go not always certain of how it will turn out. For me, the idea of failure (it isn’t perfect) is not an issue. I can fix it to suit myself and, should I be creating a gift, as long as the issue isn’t excruciatingly obvious, I’m okay with that. That mindset provides a lot of freedom.

As Maymay says: “It’s only paper!” The point is simply to be happy with the end result or start over. There is no Quilt Police, Card Police or whatever. And, as someone has said, if recipient is going to be picky about a handmade gift, they won’t be getting one from me anytime soon.

All that being said, we often find ourselves creating our own speed bumps. Check out Cathy’s video:

Sometimes solutions are as simple as taking a moment to look at what the problem really is and then working to correct it. Sometimes the solution might be that you are so intimidated by the project that you are not ready to tackle it. As one who has taken years to resolve certain projects, I think that is fine. I will also go further and say that if you have taken on something that doesn’t work for you don’t be afraid to leave it behind.

I can not knit to save my life. However, I do enjoy crocheting, but I do it so infrequently <cough> I end up re-learning it every time. I have a particular liquid embroidery project that I started years ago but put it down because, frankly, I’d painted a portion of the design that intimidated me and I ended up not picking it up for a year or two later. In the end, it is a beautiful wall hanging but it was not a quick and easy project because of me.

There is no shame in deciding that you are no longer interested in doing something, but there is also no shame in taking the time you need to find out how to overcome completing something you do want to do.

What do you think?

Getting Creative With What You Have Part One

Rachel’s Basement Project

I’m always interested in seeing how other people make use of their space. Some do it well while others seem to struggle. And, to be clear, I get the struggle. I really do. As friends will tell you, I can take my merry time (years at times) to make up my mind and continue on a particular project.

For me, it is a matter of being certain of what I want and how I want it to be without having to redo a lot. I am basically a lazy person so the idea of putting in extra work where more thought and less actual work is necessary appeals to me. I’m also the person who, once the mind is made up, jumps in with both feet not always being certain that where I’m jumping actually has a ‘floor’ if you will.

Rachel Maksy’s Basement Makeover is an interesting experience of knowing what needs to be done, having ideas (plans) for changes, gaining the courage and the where-with-it-all to actually jump in and – Voila! – enjoying the end of project thrill of it being better than anticipated, happy with how it turned out and, more importantly, learning new skills while gaining trust that you really can do it. Check it out:

Rachel has done a great job and learned a lot about herself in the process. She also has a great workspace that will cost her a lot less than the original plan. Added bonus? Without the need to leave the house to get to a studio, she’s removed a hurdle that could keep her from creating her amazing creations. Sounds like a win/win to me!

What do you think?

Check back next week for Part 2 of this Getting Creative series.

If you like what you’ve read, please let me know.

Thinking About Journaling?

I know lots of folks think journals, diaries and such are formal affairs where a specific book needs to be purchased. Many would never consider actually making a journal of their own.

Why not?

Let’s be clear here. Journals can be for a wide variety of things:

  • Gratitude Journals
  • Diaries
  • Food Journals
  • Wish Lists
  • Dream books
  • Recipe books
  • Projects (sewing, quilting, home decor)

You can literally have, or make, a book for any reason you desire. Got a project you want to document? Why not journal it? Collecting recipes you are testing? Why not journal that, too?

While a formal book might be a way to go – and some are quite amazing – sometimes it is difficult to find Just The Right Book for the project you are working on. (Been there.)

So, why not create your own?

You don’t have to be an experienced crafter to create a journal. You don’t need lots of fancy tools or spend a lot of money, either. Check out Maymay’s tutorial on her Gratitude Journal to see how she does it and then see if her methods will work for you.

You have unlimited options for paper packs. The Mintay papers that Maymay used are beautiful (the entire line is delicious) but you can choose papers that are in different colors, themes and designs.

Basic Tools Needed

At the very least you will need a ruler, glue, scissors, a pencil and the paper you choose. If you already have the trimmer and different adhesives, fine, but they aren’t necessary, just useful.

Don’t be afraid to try your hand at making a journal that fits your needs. It really is only paper, right? 🙂

Trying Something New

Or “Never Have I Ever”

A while back I caught the weekly live crafter show that Maymay Made It puts out on YouTube. This was a bit different from the usual papercrafting projects as she was trying a totally new craft for her. Check it out:

I have to applaud Maymay for not only stepping outside her comfort zone but for doing it live. I also have to chuckle at her reaction. 🙂

There is a great benefit to stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something new. It doesn’t even matter if the end project is “perfect” or not. And, really, “perfect” is really in the eye of the beholder. How many parents look lovingly at a project one of their offspring created and thought it belonged in a museum when the rest of us weren’t quite so convinced?

A few years ago adult coloring books were all the rage. Honestly, I get it. I’ve owned a set of Crayons for decades – bought new long after I left college. The simplicity of sitting with color and paper and just making marks on the page can be relaxing and therapeutic.

The same could be said for cutting fabric into small pieces and then sewing them into other shapes. Papercrafting is another example of pretty much the same thing, but using glue instead of thread.

The truth is we need a bit of time and space away from all The Stuff of Adulting to reclaim our inner child. To reclaim ourselves.

If you end up creating something for someone else, even better.

Never underestimate the power of play in all its forms and varieties.

Upping Your Home Decor Game – The Easy Way

Many of us struggle to find ideas that we want to incorporate into our homes. Some focus on the latest Pinterest ideas, others on what shows up in design magazines or shows. The rest look to friends and family for ideas.

What do you do when all those options come up empty?

I’ve gotten some of my best ideas watching shows on YouTube. Yeah, YouTube.

A few years ago I discovered the Australian version of Better Homes and Garden by watching their weekly show. It has all the usual features; food, home decor, DIY, gardening, and travel, along with some great local color. What caught my eye, however, were the fresh ideas for DIYers and folks looking to upgrade their homes without spending a lot of cash.

You can find the show’s YouTube presence by looking for “Great Home Ideas”. The full hour shows have been broken down into focused episodes and there are curated playlists.

“Alexandra Gater”, “Hermione Chantal” and “Mr. Carrington” each produce shows that focus on home decor and DIY projects for those who are either renting or purchasing their first homes. Money is tight, and folks are looking for affordable, easy to do options.

Hermione has been working on renovating her 1900 circa home for the past couple of years and the evolution of that project is quite interesting.

Alexandra has worked with “DIY Dani” Gater to produce some well thought out and reasonably easy DIY projects that can be done to upgrade any living space – no matter if you rent or own.

Mr. Carrington loves to thrift shop and upgrade things he’s found during his trips around London. I have to tell you that I’ve been inspired by many of his projects – and have fallen in love with his rooftop container garden.

One show that has totally surprised me in the ‘inspiration’ department is “Escape To The Country”. This U.K. based show’s focus is finding new homes from people who want to move to the country. What I’ve found interesting is the different design esthetic that can be found in many homes in the U.K., Scotland and Wales.

While here in the States we tend to use tiles of one color (predominately white), I’ve seen many homes that utilize many different colors when tile is used in kitchens or bathrooms. That simple alteration changes what is a basic tiled wall into a focal point and provides a bit of warmth.

I’ve long been a fan of “This Old House” and similar shows, but one thing that I’ve noticed over time is the tendency to stick with the latest trends. When those seem to be colorless and little or no texture or woodwork, this is pretty dull. Now if you like that sort of look, great. If you don’t it can be very frustrating.

This leads me to another YouTuber, “Farmhouse Vernacular”, where a young couple is sympathetically renovating a 1900 era Kentucky farmhouse. Watching them work on each room and talk about the how and why they are doing what they are doing gives the viewer a lot of information and perspective on the process. It also provides a bit of, shall we say ‘permission’, to not do the latest thing.

If you are looking at your space and wanting to make some changes, but not really sure how or where to start, I suggest you check these folks out and see what they have to offer in the way of ideas and inspiration.

Don’t be afraid to take your time, either. Sometimes time is the one thing you need to create a beautiful space.

Enjoy the journey!

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Why I Watch A Lot of Creative People

I can remember a time when my weekly binge of crafty-ish shows was all on Saturdays and was spent on PBS.

The day started out with shows focusing on sewing, then evolved to quilting and on to other types of hand crafts. Then we were on to household DIY shows followed by lots (!) of cooking shows. It was a full day of interesting things to see, things to learn, things to think about.

Inspiration.

A few years ago my access to over the air PBS was severely curtailed when the local signal simply vanished. I don’t have cable, so I was stuck.

Then I started to look at YouTube and things opened up in ways I hadn’t imagined.

I watch a Lot of YouTube channels. A Lot. I watch cooking, sewing, crafting, travel, home decor, inspiration, you name it.

I have found a collection of people who produce some interesting content over a variety of topics (some serious, some not and some the jury is out on). All of which give me food for thought.

I’ve said that Decades Ago Natalie DuPre taught me how to use a food processor. Now Entertaining With Beth gives me ideas for both fancy and home cooked meals. The Domestic Geek shows options for everyday meals that are tasty, easy and healthy.

Alexandra Gater, Hermione Chantal and Mr. Carrington offer DIY and home decor projects that I can do myself.

Justin Scarred is happy to take me along when he goes out to explore the world – and I don’t have to leave my home!

Maymay Made It provides a wide variety of crafting projects and is also showcasing small businesses. There is a wide variety of paper crafters I keep up with that give me a lot of “Wow!” moments, too.

And these are but a few of the folks on my list of YouTubers I keep an eye on.

They put the fun back in a world that seems less fun and less interesting. They remind me of what I can do – and give me ideas of what I might want to do.

Inspiration can come in a variety of ways. I’m happy to have these folks drop in now and then to tell me what they’ve been up to and show me their latest creations.

Who inspires you? I would love to know.

Side Effects of Looking for Inspiration

I recently signed up for a foodie type newsletter on the Washington Post. The idea is to focus on a different cookery book each week and highlight 2 recipes for readers to try.

First up: Nigella Lawson. Now, I came across Nigella during a binge watch of Mary Berry shows. You might remember Mary from the Great British Baking Show. Over in the U.K. they refer to her as the British Julia Child. Ms. Mary is an Institution. She embodies the beloved Gran, Mom, Auntie cooks we have known to bring common sense and seriously good food to the table. Nigella is from a similar frame of mind; she loves to eat and isn’t a Chef, she is a cook. Her food is luscious, simple to put together and scrumptious.

And, as if you haven’t already guessed, neither of these ladies is a calorie hawk. Yum!

This came along as I was working on the July Newsletter’s Pantry Magic attachment. Pantry Magic is a focus on a recipe or theme where I provide ideas, recipes insights into how to make some magic in your kitchen using what is stored in your pantry. July’s theme is “Summer Salads”.

Putting the piece together was a lot of fun, but it also created a lot of serious Hungry. LOL!

Over on YouTube, several of my regular crafters are working on projects with new materials. The Stampin Up folks just had a new catalog launch and they have some luscious papers, not to mention beautiful new In Colors, to try. Maymay’s focus for June has been creating stamps and projects with a more masculine feel. All of this has led me back to my craft room where I’ve been going through supplies and trying new techniques.

Mr Carrington has been continuing his around the house projects. I think I’m in love with his roof garden. I can honestly say that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my deck and garden area now.

To add to the garden issue, Hermione Chantal has done a major clear up of her back garden and it is beautiful!

Thanks to some neighbors, my little garden/lawn area was mowed, raked and cleared up. It is such a nice change after rains, mud, leaves and what-all.

For those who are wondering, yes I still have a couple of Accuquilt dies sitting on my desk waiting for my attention. I see them every time I sit down. To my left is my fabric stash. Between the two I am bombarded daily with potentials and possibilities and such.

To top all of this off, June is the traditional time crafters start getting ready for [ insert drum roll ] Christmas.

Yikes!

No, I’m not ready for that, either.

I did order some stamps from the Post Office and am preparing to send out a card or two as I get them done. This is something I’ve been thinking about since Maymay brought it up a while back. Just a little “thinking of you” card in someone’s mailbox.

As you might surmise, the act of looking for inspiration often provides more than we expect. Then again, we often encounter it even when we aren’t looking for it.

Here’s hoping you find a bit of inspiration for a project you’ve been thinking about tackling.

Give Yourself Permission

A few weeks ago I came across an article about the need for some to be given permission to do pretty much anything. Around the same time, in a conversation with friends, the topic came up again and the general consensus was that for people younger than ourselves, there seemed to be a need to get an okay from someone to try new things.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…

Dr. Seuss, Oh! The Places You’ll Go…

It may sound strange, but as I thought about it, it occurred to me that my generation was one of the last to just jump in and try things. We were the kids who watched the first space flights, the first moon walk, the first reaches beyond what we already knew. We were raised with the idea that anything is possible. What followed us was a group that seemed to be raised with the idea that maybe anything was possible, but the world was a dangerous and unpredictable place. Better safe than sorry.

Now, I understand – and to a degree agree with – the idea of the danger, but I think that perhaps we might have taken it a bit too far.

I’ve talked to folks who commented that thanks to inspiration from watching some YouTubers, they were inspired to get out and explore the world a bit. Starting with their own towns. Still others found themselves trying new things that some would consider hobbies, but for others are simply ways to get by. Cooking, cleaning, gardening, for example.

There is a lot in the world to be inspired by and to do. Travel, even limited, can lead to a broader knowledge of or, experience with, the history and people of an area. Culture in its many forms ties directly into our own individual histories.

We often don’t think about our favorite meals – the ones we had at Grandmother’s table – but those foods and flavors came from somewhere, right? When we start to dig into where the foods came from, often we discover other things about the people as well.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw

I submit to you that the idea “You can!” is real. It doesn’t really matter what “it” is, if you want to do it at least try. You may, or may not, succeed, but you won’t know for certain until you put in the effort. Should you decide that you don’t like it after all, fine.

As for the idea of “success”, I submit to you that your definition of success can, and probably should, be different from someone else’s definition of the term. It could be something as simple as a home cooked meal or a clean home or a garden that is bursting with color. It does not have to be winning a Nobel Prize if you are not interested in that.

My point is that you will never know what possibilities, what adventures, what you are capable of until you try – and the trying is up to you.

So, give yourself permission to explore, experiment, attempt, play, and all the other things that you have secretly wanted to do but were afraid to.

Let the adventures begin … now!

Putting It All Together

There is something extremely satisfying about taking bits and pieces and putting them together to make something new. Something wonderful. Something unexpected.

It’s not what happens to you, but how you handle it. If Life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If the lemons are rotten, take out the seeds and plant them in order to grow new lemons.

Louise Hay

One thing I, like millions of other folks, have discovered is that while the Rest of the World may be chaotic, focus on simple things, simple steps can restore peace and order.

Quilters take big pieces of fabric, cut it unto small pieces and the sew it to other small pieces to make a big piece once again.

Cooks and bakers combine ingredients to make things that not only feed your body, but your soul.

Musicians take sounds, combine them with other sounds and magic happens.

For some, this process is a new and potentially scary endeavor. For others the process is not only a necessary way of basic survival, but a trusted ally in good and bad times.

Sending you warm thoughts and virtual hugs.

A Little of This

And A Little of That

For those of us who are staying put, sheltering at home can be a bit of an unexpected, not to mention unwelcome, opportunity to discover ways to keep ourselves busy.

Some folks will dive head first into a lot of binge watching. I know I have quite a few series I’m behind on.

Other folks will gather around the gaming table, or find ways to do their online gaming with friends.

Crafters will catch up or start projects that have been waiting in the wings.

Folks will head to the kitchen to see what miracles they can create from the cupboard and pantry.

There is a lot of Spring Cleaning going on.

My YouTubers have been working hard to provide content for their regulars.

All of these are attempts to provide a sense of “normal” in a world that is pretty much anything but.

There is no “Right Way” to find normal. Each person does certain things because it provides a way for him or her to focus away from stress and worry and relax.

I encourage all of us to take walks, check on those we love via phone or email, watch, read, do the things we do in a safe and thoughtful manner.

We all know the drill; wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Stay at least 6, if not 10, feet apart from other folks. Pay attention to the medical experts.

We will get through this. Together.