Wednesday, December 31, 2008

today i'm making breakfast sandwiches in bulk to freeze and then reheat for our rush hour mornings.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happiness is a basket of clean towels. I've moved and my place is a mess so I seek joy in the simple things.

lela b.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More simple lifestyle resources

I'm continuing to search out simple lifestyle tips and techniques. I find that simple lifestyle in many ways is also a frugal lifestyle and that's okay with me. Saving money and resources is right up my alley.

I found this Frugal Living newsletter on It has a ton of ideas on saving money and resources. I'm going to incorporate their frugal cleaning techniques which are also very environmental friendly. I've actually used baking soda to clean around the house and it's amazing what it can do.

The site has a lot of newsletters I'm interested in such as:

and many more. I could spend hours browsing the HUGE selection of topics there at

Are you preparing to host Thanksgiving dinner? Since I'm preparing to move, we won't be hosting our usually dinner here. But, I learned about this site from the Frugal Living newsletter. The site helps you calculate how much food you need to serve your guests for Thanksgiving. Knowing my family, I'd have to add to that total because we are total gluttons when it comes to celebrations and holidays.

I've been floundering for the past few months trying a new calendar/planner. Every so often I get this urge to try a new system because it's a cute planner or I want to downsize or go digital. Last Christmas I got a Palm TX PDA to convert everything to a digital format. It took a little bit of time until I started rolling right along. I loved having all of this information inside a small gadget. No papers to misplace! Then disaster hit. My Palm died and would not revive. I was totally paralyzed because just about my whole life is on it (calendar, planner, addresses, passwords, goals, projects, podcasts, video casts, etc.) I scraped by for a few days trying to figure out how to deal with this crisis. I needed structure. I needed to track my commitments. I needed another planner. So, I started using a calendar that my husband had laying around. It's a USA Today calendar that has a different USA Today Snapshot on each day. I love those things. Anyway, this is the third month since I started using it and it's just not working for me. I need a structured system. I need a systematic flow of information. I need more space. So, miserly and desperate me realized I need to go back to my tried and true Planner Pad system. I've tried so many planners including the Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Although I liked the concept of the Covey system, it was just a little bit bulky and too cumbersome for me. The Planner Pad is a way that I can use what I learned in the Covey system in a more compact format. By the way, I highly recommend that everyone take the 7 Habits class. It's phenomenal and can help you align your life activities with what is truly important to you. This can definitely help you simplify your life.

Until next week, may peace be with you. ~~Lela

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Striving for simplicity

I've been on the hunt for organizing, decluttering, and simplifying ideas. My search has brought me to the Unclutterer web site. I'm loving it! For a good laugh, check out their Extreme Minimalism Monday. I'm giving my friends permission to have me institutionalized if I EVER exhibit extreme minimalism behavior.

Another web site with small space decor ideas is Apartment Therapy. I wandered around the site for a bit and found the Ikea Dream Home. I just LOVE Ikea! I love the clean lines, open space, order, and lots of light they use in their designs and spaces. I want to dispose of my sofa and loveseat to make room for some sleek Ikea items. I'd be re-living my college days on the floor with oversized pillows until I could save up $ for my Ikea dream living room. But, that's not happening.

Did I mention that I'm moving? I'm going for an extreme downsize from a 5,000 square feet home into a 1,000 square feet apartment. So, all of this decluttering and small space decorating research is high priority for me right now.

I'm considering painting the walls of my new space before I move in my stuff. But, my landlord has this clause in the lease that says no painting allowed. WTF? When I asked the leasing agent about this, she informed me that painting IS allowed. I would just need to talk to the maintenance department about the type and color of paint. No dark colors are allowed, she believes, and I would have to return the walls to the bland, boring (and their specified brand and finish) white before I leave. Do I want to go through the bother of running down a maintenance person for the "permission" to paint the walls? I would want to get permission in writing since my lease specifically says no painting allowed. Will the maintenance person be willing to sign his/her name to such an infraction of the lease? Is the maintenance person authorize to modify the lease in this way? Do I have to provide my paint choices prior to receiving approval? That would require shopping for paint chips and making decisions now. You see how this is not an easy decision. But, I love color and beautiful color on the walls can do wonders to make your living space inviting, serene, polished, and just plain lovely.

I have done some preliminary research on paint choices and found this paint with no VOCs that's sold at Home Depot. They don't have a great range of color choices like my all time favorite Behr paint. But, I think I can find something that'll work in the name of promoting a healthy environment.

On a different note, Old Navy is having a $10 and under sale. I strolled through the pages and I haven't found much in the under $10 category. And, my section--the plus section--is a little lame. Then I thought I'd check out the bargains and clearance sections. What exactly is the difference between the two? Is this there just to confuse people? I do like how the site allows you to search by apparel, size, collection, price, and so on. In that respect, the site is very user friendly.

One of my favorite magazines is Real Simple: Life Made Easier. I used to subscribe to it. Now, I borrow it from our library. This way, I can get the information but not incur the expense or clutter. I was looking at the March 2008 issue and saw a review of doormats. Did you know that a good doormat can keep up to 80% of the dirt from entering your home? It sounds like having a good doormat is a good investment even at $34 - $60.

Gotta go to look through the rest of the Real Simple mag. I hope you have a wonderful week!

Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm back!

There's been a lot of drama around my household lately and it's been taking all of my time and attention so I didn't post for a few weeks. This morning I have a breather. I missed posting so here I am.

One of my friends sent me some Christian cartoons . I've never knew that such a thing existed. You can get them delivered to your email box for free. What a wonderful way to be reminded of Christian principles.

I'm doing a major clear out of household items. Many things I'm giving away for free on freecycle. Freecycle is a network of people who give or receive things given for free. To become a part of the freecycle network, you browse the groups to find one near you. Then you sign up to receive emails from the group either bundled together and sent once a day or as each email is generated. There are people in the group who offer free items and there are some who request items (although this is a limited practice). The recipient is responsible for getting the free item, which is generally left on the porch or sidewalk. I love this concept. It's in line with my reduce, reuse, and recycle enviro values.

Another list that I've been using more is craigslist. Craigslist is a free online ads list. You can post ads in your area for things you're selling or giving away and there's no fee to post. I'm selling some big ticket items on craigslist. Are you interested in a bedroom suite or water treatment system?

I've recently renewed my subscription to the Grocery Game. If you like using coupons and saving money on your grocery bill, then this maybe for you. The Grocery Game is a service which tracks the sales prices of grocery store items, determines how much savings the sale price is, whether or not that is the best price for the item, if there are any current coupons that can apply to the item, and how much you can save if all coupons and sales are applied. When I renewed my subscription and used their list, I saved 46% off of my grocery bill! I like those results. If you decide to join The Grocery Game, please consider using me as a referral. I can get free membership weeks for referring new members.

Another activity I'm reviving is once-a-month-cooking. Basically, this is cooking large batches of food and then freezing the extras to use later. Some people do a marathon cooking session one day a month and cook food for an entire month that day, freeze it, and then take out what they need for each dinner. I tried cooking 30 days of meals at once and it took me eight hours and I was exhausted! Now, I try to cook maybe a week or two worth of meals to freeze. I like the convenience of not having to cook everyday or every other day. This also saves money because we're less likely to go out to eat because we don't have time or energy to cook a meal. I even cook and freeze breakfast items that we can pop into the microwave during the morning rush. It's wonderful once you get through the marathon cooking sessions. Some people cook with a friend to make it a social as well as practical event. Unfortunately, the friend who lives closest to me hates to cook so I couldn't suggest we get together to do that. A good resource for more information about once-a-month-cooking (also known as freezer cooking) is this site. My first resource on this topic was an earlier version of this book.

I hope some of this information helps you save time and money!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Another week begins

I'm still under the weather. I think this will be the fourth week I've been battling this illness. I think it's morphed from a sinus infection to regular allergies. Whatever it is, it's hard to get a good night sleep when I'm hacking and blowing a runny nose. I'm going to try to see the doctor this week to see if there's anything she can do to speed my recovery.

Ali Edwards and Aby Garvey have been taking photos of everyday events each day for a week . I like the concept. This would be a wonderful legacy to leave your descendants. Sometimes I wonder what a typical day was like for my great-grandmother with her 13 children. A week in my life book will be added to my growing list of projects to do one day.

I'm exploring the concept of applying feng shui principles in my home. In my effort to achieve simplicity and an healthy environment, I think that feng shui would help. I checked out this book from the library to learn more about feng shui. It's not a simple concept. It's actually quite complicated in my eyes. However, I'm going to try to incorporate some of the ideas in my living space as I can.

My employer plans to provide laptop computers to each of its 14,000 employees. Then, I believe the plan is to replace the laptops every 3 - 4 years with the latest technology. Having a laptop makes it easier for employees to be mobile workers and continue working if there was a flu pandemic or other national emergency. I think this plan was developed as a result of the September 11 tragedy. I just love having the latest technology at my fingertips.

I'm going through a household item purge. Every so often, I feel the need to downsize and get rid of stuff. One thing that's not good about living in a capitalist economy, there are constant messages thrown at you to buy more, buy better, and buy bigger. So we accumulate all of this stuff and then what happens? It collects dust. It requires maintenance. It robs you of your income. It clutters your home. It's a waste. I don't know how people can accumulate so much stuff that they can be a candidate for Clean House. I get to a point where the clutter is so distracting I can't think and perform.

To support my habit of purging, I get calls from local charities for donations. I donate to the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Lupus Foundation, and the National Children's Center. Not only do I give back to our community, this helps keep perfectly useful items our of our landfills. This is in line with two of my values -- service to the community and environmental stewardship. I try to encourage my family members to donate their stuff as well. But, they aren't as interested in this activity as I am. I keep a large trash bag in my closet specifically to add things as I find them for donation. This way I'm not running around at the last minute trying to gather stuff to donate.

I started a project to identify and focus on my core values and virtues. I'm not sure how these two things are different because there is so much similarity and overlap. When I took The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course years ago, the instructor stressed how your personal values were key to applying this system. I found that I have a huge list of values and virtues I seek. Many of them are variations pf a theme and as such, are duplicative. I want to narrow down this list and then use it to make time management decisions and to align my life with what's important to me. Benjamin Franklin used his list of virtues as a tool to focus his efforts week by week. I like the idea of focusing on one value/virtue per week and then start the list over again. I'm going to do this. Of course, one of my values is simplicity.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Random ideas & information

I saw this project on the Hero Arts blog.

Look at this cute home book at Maya Road.

A beautiful paper sculpture.

A way to identify your personal style.

The Scrap Divas are having a Winter Scrapbooking Weekend in Baltimore. Contact the Scrap Divas at for more information.

Did you know that microwave popcorn can kill you?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Back and at home sick

I developed congestion and a cough while in Sacramento. Now that I think of it, Little Miss was sick last week Sunday and I shared a drink with her. So, those bugs percolated in my system and reared their ugly heads while I was on my trip. There's nothing worse than being away from home sick and then having to fly 4 - 5 hours. Have you ever experienced an exploding head from being congested during descent and ascent of a plane? When I got home, all I wanted to do was sleep for 48 hours straight. Unfortunately, life had other plans.

I got back from Sacramento at 2 a.m. on Saturday. Little Miss had a soccer game at 10:15 a.m. I'm co-team mom for Miss Diva's team which meant bringing the snacks for the game. Thankfully, I had already bought the snacks. I asked my family to cut the oranges and freeze the drinks before I got home. Well, the drinks were cold but none of the oranges were cut. So, I had to get up early to cut 20 oranges into 8 sections each, pack the cooler, and leave instructions for distribution. The girls had games at two different parks at the same time so had to split up. Miss Diva's team won 2 to 1. Little Miss' team tied at 2. Good news on both parts.

After the game, I went straight to bed and slept, coughed, and slept. My illness developed flu-like symptoms--chills one hour and then a fever the next. I knew I just had to let it work through my system, with the help of over-the-counter meds to relieve some of the discomfort. Interestingly, Miss Diva also tasted the Little Miss' drink but she didn't get sick. Obviously, my immune system isn't as strong as Miss Diva's.

I slept for the rest of Saturday. I hoped to feel well enough so I can get my yard sale stuff on Sunday. Well, that didn't happen. Again, life had different plans for me. I actually felt worse and Sunday was the last day to pick up my unsold stuff before it got donated on Monday. Yikes! I was in panic mode. I hoped my son or husband could drive me to Scrapdoodles so I can at least get my stuff. Unfortunately, my son had to work and my husband had a previous commitment, which he wanted to keep. What's a girl supposed to do? This is when I wished I had some sisters who lived near me, who I could depend on.

I took my fill of non-drowsy meds and drove 1 1/2 hours, windows down, radio blasting to get my stuff. I was pleasantly surprised to see that $111 and about 1/2 of my stash sold. Yeah! More money to spend of stuff. I dragged myself through the store until I spent all of that $111 dollars. I bought six packs of these

a couple of Bazzill In Stitch'z templates and piercing mat, and some acrylic stamps. I was good not to overspend more than $5 over what I sold.

I still want to sell my remaining stuff. I've got to figure out how.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Isn't she a cutie?

My husband found this little cutie running stray in his friend's neighborhood. She was dehydrated, malnourished, and infested with fleas and worms and only 8 weeks old. After a visit to the vet, she was good as new. Little Miss named her Honey. Of course, the children swore they would care for and train Honey. After a few weeks, it was apparent that they could not keep up with that responsibility. We found Honey a new home -- at my in-laws! Now, we can enjoy her anytime but not have to be responsible 24 hours a day. What a great relief. Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!

The favors I made for my friend's retirement party went well. They were 2" aluminum tins with a see through top. I wrapped the sides with coordinating ribbons, affixed a small flower or button at the seam of the top ribbon, and then adorned the tops with buttons, flowers, brads, and ribbons. In all I had three different designs I used.I think everyone else enjoyed them too. I bought a bottle of Prima flowers to use on the favors. The bottle contained a mix of white washed, polka dots, and monochromatic flowers of various sizes. I just love how they look! I almost didn't want to use them on the favors.

I'm going to Sacramento on a business trip for a few days. When I return, there will be soccer games on Saturday and on Sunday I have to pick up my stuff that didn't sell at the Scrapdoodles yard sale. I had 126 things for sale. Oooo, I can't wait to see how much $ I made.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Random Updates

I haven't had time to play in my studio lately. Life has been busy and I've been sleep deprived.

One of my friends, who has been working in our office for 22 years, recently retired. I'm helping create favors for her retirement luncheon. I've also helped design a memory book, on the fly, just today. That was incredibly fun to be able to scrapbook at work. I only wished I had more time to work on the design to make it more snazzy. But, I think we did a good job in our team effort.

I'm still exploring art journals and learning to sketch. One of the products that many journal artists seem to use in their artwork is Golden Gel Medium. I haven't found this product at my local M's, J's, or AC's so I had to find a "real" art store. I found a Utrecht Art Store in downtown D.C. It's a tiny store that's packed with stuff that was new for me. Golden is expensive and there were so many different kinds, I decided to get a sample six pack.

Oh, I'm happy to say that I sold my FIRST item in my Etsy store. I was SO excited to see the sale. I'm encouraged to create more items to sell.

I'm selling 126 items (or packages of items) at Scrapdoodles semi-annual yard sale. I'm hoping to sell them all so that I can buy Bind It All coils and Maya Road acrylic stamps, chipboard books, and acrylic key chains. I'd really like to find a heavy duty paper cutter to cut multiple sheets of 24 lb. paper and chipboard. Is there such a trimmer?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Art Journal Pages

I've been reading Journaling for Joy by Joyce Chapman. It has some great prompts for journal entries. One of the first prompts is how do you feel about journal writing and what do you expect it to do for you? I wrote this entry:

I love to write in my journal. However lately, I have neglected this activity. Also this neglect has manifested itself as a general disregard for my emotional and physical health. I haven't been taking care of my self and needs...I love to write. I love to read what I wrote. What's new now is that I'm going to reflect on my entries and sum up what I've learned from my writing. I'm also wandering into combining my journaling and art to make visual and as well as emotional statements. I love the beauty of these techniques. I expect to learn many things about myself and my abilities. Thank you Lord for these gifts and the encouragement to explore and use them!

I've been having a lot of fun creating more background pages for my journal last week. I got ideas from The Decorated Page: Journals, Scarpbooks & Albums Made Simply Beautiful by Gwen Diehn. On page 57, she had a page like this:
I created my page by applying white gesso as a base and then layering and mixing acrylic paints on top.

On page 64, she used masking tape to hide some of the page and then applied ink on the exposed areas using a cotton pad. I used painter's tape and cosmetic sponges to apply Whisper Inks. Once I removed the tape, I stamped ivy along the edges (Stampin' Up! stamp).
Here's another page spread using the painter's tape masking method. After inking the squares, I stamped designs in each square and added floral fabric cut outs on some of the pink squares. I used glossy Mod Podge to adhere the fabric.

On pages 63, Gwen used plastic needlepoint canvas to add texture to paint on the page. I didn't have that type of canvas, instead I used a piece of a Vidalia onion bag I had in my pantry. The texture image reminds me of tire tracks. It reminded my friend Kim of corn on the cob. I filled the blank spaces with impressions from a Hero Arts Manuscript Background stamp. Remember creating designs using blobs of paint? I did the same thing here with acrylic paint. I then used a wet brush to extend and blend the colors together.

I tried using a crayon resist method but you can barely see the designs under the paint. I made swirls on the right page and stars on the left using a white crayon before using a brayer to cover the pages with three colors of acrylic paints.
I love full moons so I created this page with twinkling stars.
I used one of my journaling stencils for these designs. I love this color combination.
This is a simple painted heart with several smaller hearts stamped in a contrasting color.
Finally, I found this the wonderfully inspiring artist Suzi Blu who has a ton of videos on YouTube in which she encourages people to express themselves through art. In this video, she prompts us to create a self-portrait. It doesn't have to be a realistic portrait, mind you. This is my attempt.Please leave me your comments.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I've been distracted & on a tangent

I've been exploring the realm of altered books, art journals, and bookbinding. On my last post I showed you the beginning of my altered book where I glued together several pages and applied gesso as a base. Here's the progression of one page from that point:I haven't adhered the text and all of the chipboard letters because I think I want to apply a wash and decide upon a focal point. Here's another page which I'm thinking I'll leave as is.
I've started to alter one of my journals as well. Here are some pages before adding my journal entries.

I want to become more comfortable with layering, collaging, and binding. There are a ton of videos on YouTube that show all of these techniques. Thank God for generous people.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bits and Pieces & Projects

I was checking out some of the new stuff that was unveiled at the CHA convention and I found this wonderful prize that was given away. What a lucky woman!

I've been interested in adding more stitch work into my pieces. Here are some ideas that I found useful or inspiring.

I've been interested in creating an altered book for a while. I've researched ideas and techniques on the Internet for the past 3 - 4 months. I bought a hardback book at the thrift store to use as my first canvas. I choose a book by Dane Rudhyar entitled Modern Man's Conflicts © 1948 based upon the size and length. Some altered book artists consider the book topic as well. I didn't do this because it was hard enough to find a hardback book I thought I could use.

Finally, this past weekend I was inspired to start. I wasn't sure how many pages I wanted to have in the end. I didn't have a theme. I had no idea how to start. But, I knew I wanted to use some of the text on the pages and had to preserve those to use later.

I started by scanning a couple of pages to look for words and phrases that had potential. I circled them with a pencil and cut thin strips of blue painter's tape to cover the words. Once covered, I used Pro Act Premium Gesso and a sponge brush to coat two pages. Once dried, I removed the blue painter's tape to see the effect.

LESSON ONE -- Don't use blue painter's tape on pages of an vintage book unless you want to remove the print. Only a shadow of the original text remained on the page. On one page, the entire paper tore off with the tape. I noticed that some of the less tacky pieces didn't remove the text nor the paper.

The torn page.
Words I want to preserve on a page.

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS -- Remove some of the tack from the tape. Use a low tack tape. Don't cover the text with tape. Find another method to mask the text. Use a newer book.

I decided not to use tape for the next few pages. Instead, I simply circled the words and then carefully painted around them. Of course this took more time and precision because of the size of the print. But, I didn't have to worry about the text being removed. But, I had another problem. I could see the pencil marks through the dried gesso.

LESSON TWO -- Don't use a pencil to circle the words you want to keep.

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS -- Use more layers of gesso. Use a better quality gesso (assuming better quality provides a more opaque covering). Use a disappearing ink pen--tested first on your page. Start painting around the words and then go outwards so you don't have to worry about covering them up. Don't use the words on the page; instead use rubber stamps, hand write, print, or collage to add words later. Use a book with larger type size.

One tutorial said to glue pages together to create a firmer base canvas. This person's suggested gluing 3 - 4 pages together at a time. So, I decide to glue every four pages together. What glue should I use? I know that Ali Edwards likes to use Uhu glue stick. But, I haven't had much success with glue sticks in the past (although I haven't tried Uhu brand). The glue seems to dry up and lose its adhesion after a while. After reading Lisa Vollrath's tutorial on glues, I decided to use a regular glue stick, once again.

For the most part, I glued together every four sheets. On the first and last page of each four-sheet section, I'd scan for words to use later. I stopped about 1/3 way through the book. I want to explore techniques I can use in the book before I continue gluing more pages.

Here is a K & Company tag album that I taught at one of my crops. This was an easy project because K & Company prepared each class packet and provided instructions on how to assemble the booklet.

Here are some of the interior pages.
**edited**Finally, here is a 6" x 6" matchbook album. It's super easy to make. Maybe this will be the class for next month.
I hope you have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Online Yard Sale

I've added a new feature to my blog. I have a perpetual Yard Sale going on in the right hand column. All items are in good to excellent condition. Most items are at least 50% off of original retail price. Check back often as I'll continue to update it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How I Organize, Part 3

This is the third post in a series on how I organize my supplies. I have changed things since the first and second posts. I'm tweaking the arrangement so that my supplies are located where it makes sense for my work flow. Plus, I just love to organize stuff.

How I Store My Paper
Most of my paper is stored on this two-shelf bookcase which I purchased from Target.

On the bottom shelf I have my 12" x 12" cardstock and paper in Cropper Hopper paper holders by color. Most of the holders contain a solid color and same color pattern paper except the last one. That one contains my DCVW Paper Stack pads. I separate the solids from the patterns with a divider that comes with the holder. I used a circle punch to make the tags on the front of each holder.

To the right are thinner paper holders which contain pattern paper that is organized by manufacturer (such as BasicGrey, Creative Memories, K & Company, etc.). These papers continue in the JetMax cube which is just the right of the bookcase.

On the top shelf of the bookcase is a basket which contains 8" pads of paper (or smaller). My current scrapbooks are 8".

Next to the basket is an 8" Cropper Hopper paper holder which houses my loose 8" x 8" paper.
Finally, to the right of the 8" holder is a tray that holds my basic journaling supplies.

My 8 1/2" x 11" cardstock for making cards are in another JetMax cube. The two drawers below the stack contains cards and envelopes with overflow located to the right of the paper stack.
Paper that needs to be returned to the files are in this paper holder on my work table.

Finally, I have two baskets of folded card blanks and envelopes in one of my cabinets, which isn't shown here.

How I Store My Embellishments

For the most part, I store my embellies by color. I have only a few items that are by theme (birthday, Christmas, holidays, etc.) and I tend to put those in the color boxes as well. For example, Christmas is in the red or green color box, Valentines is in the red or pink box, Halloween is in the orange box, and Thanksgiving and autumn is in the brown box.

Here's how I store the bulk of my embellies.

This basket holds my stickers. These are in large storage envelopes that were made to go on the Clip It Up. Long stickers are loose on top of all of the envelopes.
My eyelets, brads, buttons, embroidery thread, and small flowers are stored by color in bead boxes.
I used the Stampin' Up! scallop punch to make the labels on the side of the boxes. Here's the inside of the red/pink box.
Finally, my chipboard alphabets are inside vintage metal trays which I purchased from Melissa Frances while I was at the Great American Scrapbook Convention.
I glam'd up the handles with ribbons.
That's it for now. I'll post more later.