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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

31 Days...

The Nester (and a few other bloggers) have started a little tradition for October - to pick a theme and then right about it every single day for the entire 31 days in October. This year they took it a step further and encouraged everyone else to blog along with them. At first I thought, "oh no, I'm too busy in October and what would I blog about anyway?" Because October is Birthday Month around here with multiple birthdays in the family all crammed into the first two weeks of the month and then while we're still gasping to catch up we get hit with Halloween. To make the month even busier, my Mom is coming out for a week long visit. Then I thought, "well I'll be blogging about most of that anyway so...." and thus I threw myself on the bandwagon and am declaring to all that I, too, will be blogging along with the 31 Days challenge. Look! I even made a little logo for myself!

Can I actually do that? I know I get overly chatty sometimes but to actually post every single day?! Wish me luck! And be sure to check in often and give me some encourangement! ;)

My theme? Birthdays, of course! Well, not just birthdays but celebrations in general, as that way I can tie in a little Halloween too. How to plan a great party without breaking the bank, gift ideas for all ages, personal party prep for my own two kiddos, another crafty day with the girls...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Recipe Binder

I am constantly trying to figure out ways to simplify/make my life easier. And one of my big concerns (this applies to most moms I'm sure) is dinner planning and prep. Every. Single. Day. Right? I always have my eyes open for new recipes I think we may like, new meal strategies for my picky eaters, and any ideas I may find or come up with that help streamline meal planning and cooking.
A few years ago I created a recipe binder as a place to corral all of our most loved and well used recipes instead of having to flip through our collection of recipe books and stack of random recipes torn from magazines or printed from the computer or jotted down on paper scraps. I spent a good amount of time typing up recipes and getting it all put together and was happy with it. But over the months as we collected new recipes and our lives evolved and of course I once again ended up with of a collection of random pieces of paper all shoved in among the original typed recipes. Another organizing session was long overdue and I've been slowly working on typing up and printing out the newer recipes (or ones I forgot the first time!) over the past few weeks. And this week - success! I finally sat down and put the whole thing together, including the part where I make it all organized and cute :)

This was my original binder, which I still love. I didn't do a thing to the binder or the cover (it's just a 3 ring binder from the office supply store that has the pockets on the front so you can customize it). I couldn't find the same type of divided page protectors as I had been using before, so I ordered a big box of 100 from Amazon (divided page protectors with two 5x7 pockets per page) and switched those out.
Once the recipes were all in page protectors and categorized I was left wondering what to do about divider tabs. I had a few on hand but they were either pink floral (not gonna go with my black and red color scheme - ick!) or those cheezy slide in ones (those have their place - in my idea binders where I don't care what things look like. Yes I'm OCD like that :) ). Yuck. I just couldn't do that to my binder after all that work. And I wanted it done NOW, not after the 1 1/2 hour round trip to Walmart I would have to work into my schedule if I wanted new ones and no guarantee that they would have some that would work. Then inspiration struck.

I pulled out a stack of used manila file folders and chopped them in half. Then I spray painted the tabbed side black.

And then I made them all cute (strips of patterned paper, vinyl lettering with the Silhouette, and printed on address labels for the tabs)

And finally - a fully functional recipe binder! In addition to the recipe categories I have a tab at the end for menus, etc. For now all that I have under that tab is a list of items my kids will eat, which I hope will help meal planning easier as I can quickly glance at it and see which of their favs I can work into the mix. I plan to add another list of meal ideas (categorized by style like italian, mexican, slowcooker, etc as that is how I plan my menus for the week) and maybe work up some meal plans. But for now, I'm happy to have it done to this point. Happy dance!

How do you organize your recipes and plans your meals for the week?

Linking to:
Tip Junkie handmade projects
Todays Creative Blog

Home Stories A to Z Tutorials and Tips Tuesday

36th Avenue
Ask Anna
link up

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pin It Challenge (#3)

Time for another Pinterest Challenge post! (need a little more info? See my original challenge post here) This week I chose to try out a crochet pattern I had pinned - an infant earflap hat. (pattern is here) I also braved one of my storage areas and dug out a baby doll to be my stand in model as I don't have any handy real-life models in this particular size :) I was a little concerned about the fit but no fears, it works perfectly! It was my first attempt with a crochet flower too. I'm surprised at how quickly the flower came together.
Cute, huh? I think this little beauty will soon be joining her brothers in my shop.

I've also been trying to get better at "product photography" for the items in my Etsy shop so I thought I'd try out this tutorial for an easy, inexpensive at-home technique for studio quality photos (link here).
This was my test photo - what I would normally get with my camera in my craft room with the light in the morning.

Then I did the "studio" set up. First problem is readily apparent - the trim pieces in my windows cast shadows where I'm not going to want them.

First test shot:

Yep see, shadows where I don't want them, and the vellum and aluminum foil aren't quite big enough so we're getting a streak of light across the bottom. I wanted to be able to compare them straight out of the camera, but I think with a little bump in editing this isn't bad. I do like the backlit look.

Test shot #2: again with the size issues on the vellum and aluminum foil, though slightly better use of the reflector has the photo coming out a little sharper and with better color.

Not bad really, but it's obvious I need to keep practicing!

So I'm anxious to know - has anyone else made something they have pinned?

Oh and let's not forget the other ladies that are doing this challenge along with me.



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Friday, September 9, 2011

Hello Baby

Babies, babies everywhere! (none of which belong to me!haha) This morning I was at the pool with a small group of ladies from the neighborhood, three of which are pregnant - THREE! I'm positively surrounded, I tell you. Not the first time this has happened, but it still amazes me how these things seem to go in cycles.

My next door neighbor just welcomed her new addition home last week and I finally had the chance to meet him in person yesterday. Aww, babies are SO sweet and tiny! I didn't want to go over there empty-handed so I whipped up a set of onesies. You like? I've done these before (previous post here) and always like how quickly and easily they come together.
The rocket ship one is made with scraps from my latest car seat tent for the shop and I am in love with that argyle fabric. As in wanting to rush back to the store and get more THEN think of some sort of project for Tyler using it because I really really want to keep some for myself! :) But what would I make...?
Linking to:

Sumo's Sweet Stuff

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Craft Day!

UPDATE:  This has been such a popular post I decided I'd better move it to the new blog website.  You can view all the details, photos and tutorial HERE.  Thanks for stopping by and happy crafting!