tip-sy tuesday {organizing embroidery projects}

One of the things I fail greatest at is keeping track of and recording the details of my embroidery projects. When I first started out designing, purchasing and printing patterns I quickly realized I was going to have to come up with some way of keeping track of just the patterns themselves. At that time I wasn’t even thinking about keeping track of the thread colors I used or the fonts I used when designing a pattern.

The first thing I used to organize all my patterns was simply a large binder with plastic sleeve protectors in it. I tried using dividers to section out my patterns, from stitch-alongs I was doing and cross-stitch patterns. When I started doing all my applique projects it also became necessary for me to have pockets to keep the letters that I was using from falling out.


I quickly grew tired of going through this notebook and decided that I would try file folders instead. I sorted out my patterns and this is pretty much how I’ve functioned that last while. When I remember, I write down the fonts I’ve used and the thread colors, but honestly it’s a battle to remember.

IMG_6819 IMG_6820

A few months back I discovered an amazing stitcher named Kimberly Ouimet and immediately started following her on flickr. She designs and stitches just beautiful work and one day she posted a photograph of her embroidery planner on flickr and I immediately grabbed it up. It’s a fantastic tool to use for organizing projects. There are places to write notes, thread colors and more. I want to get into the habit of designing or printing a project and then attaching this to the pattern. It’s one of my long term goals especially for 2015. (note: she also has a version for knitters…check it out!)

IMG_6818 IMG_6817

How do you organize your projects for future reference? Any tips for this lovely Tuesday?

one more before & after: the hall closet

This hall closet is somewhat of a temporary project for us, as the grand plan is to move the back door through this closet at some point. That said, once the basement flooded this closet no longer housed our coats and gloves, but my felt and other stock overflow.

hall coat closet before

We demo’ed the closet and moved my old studio shelf in there and after a little reorganizing I’ve got some good felt storage for now.

Hall closet after

I bought a shoe holder for all our gloves, hats etc since I lost my floor space and I love it!

Hall closet after

before & after: a boy’s room

We spent this past weekend making a day run down to Georgia to visit the holy land of self-serve furniture…that is Ikea. We had two major rooms to tackle with this trip and first up was our son’s room.


Before and after boys room

It had become an absolute pit of despair. I hated going in there and honestly he tried to clean it up, but it had gotten so terrible that it was just overwhelming for all of us. The other problem was that his storage needs totally didn’t fit with the storage that was available to him. A few years go I had bought this little side table for his night stand, this wire shelf for a shelf and this desk on clearance at Target. It was our way of trying to give him some better storage on a super tight budget. We knew that the wire shelf wouldn’t be long term and would eventually find it’s way into our basement.

Before and after boys room

It all truly was a hod-podge of stuff that we had tried to make the best of…but the Legos, books and his other stuff was consuming his floor and everywhere else. Something had to be done. Enter Ikea.


After searching high and low for a nice, inexpensive desk and bookshelf option for him I realized that the best long term option for him (and our budget) was the Expedit system from Ikea. We opted to buy two of the double towers (versus one large system) and then the attaching desk. Our thought was that long term, these would provide greater flexibility for him when he goes off to wherever after high school and needs furniture!

Before and after boys room

We replaced his little side table from Target with a nicer nightstand. This one has a shelf for his radio and a drawer for all his table junk 🙂

Before and after boys room

Before and after boys room

All of us can breathe easier now that this is done and man it is so much more pleasant in his room! Now we just need to find some fun art to hang above his desk and I think we can call it done! A great bedroom for my newly turned double digit boy.


Project number two?

My studio space:

Studio space before

Last January I was flooded out of my basement space and had to move up to the kitchen. Realizing that this is probably going to be where I’m working for the next long while, we knew that I would need to redo my organization too. Stay tuned!!

organizing embroidery floss


One of the greatest hazards with any crafty endeavor is what to do with all the accoutrements that come with it. Embroidery seems like such a simple craft to pursue; one that just involves needles, threads and some fabric. But then you acquire skeins and skeins of floss and you are stuck with a huge mess. I had all of my floss in at least 4 different places and it was driving me mad. I didn’t have any idea really what colors I had and so when I knew I had to do something.

I ended up deciding to use this multi-drawer cabinet from The Container Store. It has 26 drawers and you can buy dividers for the larger drawers if you wanted too. At $24.99 I felt like it was a pretty good deal. It’s plastic, but the outer plastic is pretty tough and even the drawers seem better than what I could have bought at Home Depot or Lowes.


The first thing I had to do was gather up all my floss and sort it by color family. As you can see I had floss in a million different ways and I think I have a fascination with green. After I divided it all up I had to figure out how I was going to end up storing it.


Floss can be organized in many different ways. New, it is lovely flat and held in between two little loops of paper. If you are really lucky you can pull the strand out and keep it nice and neat until it’s gone. Or, if you are unlucky it ends up like the next picture where it is all in knots.

Years ago when I was a big cross-stitcher I kept all my floss on these little cards with the numbers written on them. I had this fancy little floss winder and everything. Then I had a real job and then came children. Enough said. The cards are great in the sense that you can keep many of them in one place in these little divided plastic boxes. But I tend to not like the cards for a few reasons, mostly due to effort. Of which I have none.

I recently discovered these stitchbows from dmc. The idea is that you take your lovely skein of new floss and just slide it onto the bow, hence getting rid of the need to wind floss. Um…soooo didn’t happen. These are a little pricey and honestly I’m just not sure I like them at all. They tend to hook onto one another and if you do happen to have a free skein of floss lying around next to them, you are doomed to get a huge tangle. And they didn’t fit into my new box so away they went.

Lastly is the lovely clothespin. This is the direction I am headed. I love the clothespin for many reasons. Yes, you do have to wind it, but what I love is that when you use 3 strands and still have some leftover you can easily wind it back and pop it in between the mouth of the clothespin and there you go. Sure you can do that with the cards, but they never stayed in the little flappy things for me well. And the clothespins are also great because you can clip them onto your embroidery while you are traveling etc.

Organizing floss

For the larger drawers on the sides I have a drawer for white/ecru, for rayon thread, linen thread, pearl cotton and then a drawer for all my needles.
Now, since I don’t really follow floss colors numbers too much anymore I organized mine by colors and shades into the middle drawers.

Organizing floss

There you go! Now when I get a custom embroidery of one cute little family I don’t have to go running all over looking through 4 different places to see if I have the color I need.

How do you organize your embroidery floss (or other crafty materials)?

school’s out for the summer…almost

Now that I have the roaring head banging song in your head, I present to you our summer plans. I do a great job of making it look like I have it all together and this summer is no different. This is the last week of school and so I’m hurriedly trying to paste all my last minute ideas together so that next Tuesday (because Monday is a holiday) we are ready and going.

One thing we will do this week is have a “yes” day. I implemented this day as the first and last day of any vacation that we have. It’s a no holds bar kind of day where you can cram your head with as much technology and anything else (within reason) because after that we are on a schedule.

Last year we had this crazy magnet thing that I had come up with. While we kind of held it together in the beginning,  it pretty much all fell apart after a few weeks. It was a little bit too lax and the follow through wasn’t happening.

After spending Christmas vacation with one child who seriously needs some sort of schedule and me realizing that I am going to have to still work on the shop this summer, I knew we would have to have some sort of framework.

summer 2013

So this is what I came up with. A loose schedule filled with assigned days for things and different themed hours in our house. One thing I know that could easily overtake us is technology, so we are going to be very rigorous on this one. Both of my kids are getting to the age where if they are bored they want a screen. Not gonna happen this summer. We also have this Apologia science book that we’ve been talking about doing for at least 2 years and I swear we are going to do some of it this summer. So this is the lay of the land.

1. We have a family calendar hanging up that we will mark off the days as we go. This gives everyone a heads up for what is coming up that is planned for.
2. We have assigned days for things: Monday mornings we will have a chore time. They will be assigned one weekly chore that they will do on Monday mornings. Wednesdays is movie afternoon. Hopefully this helps with the “I want to watch a movie” whines. Friday mornings we will hit the library.
3. We will be unplugged between 8:30 and 1:00. No questions asked. I’m also trying to get rid of the t.v. as soon as you wake up habit. If they do wake up before 8:30, then PBS is totally fine, but if you wake up later than that….too bad.
4. We will have a loose structure to our day: breakfast, school time, work time for me with play time for them, lunch and then the tech hour. During this hour they are free to have whatever screen they desire: Ipod, Ipad, computer, Leapster, Wii…whatever. And then quiet hour. My hope is to have 30 minutes of reading time for all of us and then 30 minutes of quiet time in their rooms. This is more for my sanity than theirs! Then we will hit the pool 🙂
5. Obviously there are days where this won’t happen and to be honest we only have 4 weeks this summer that are totally open (we go to school year round so we have a pretty short summer). But these weeks we are “down” I hope will be pretty routine.

summer 2013

The second thing I did was our bucket list. I have a bunch of things I’ve pinned on my Summer2013 board and many of these ideas came from there. The idea for the mock chemistry board came from here.

summer 2013

I did ours a little differently and color coded the post it notes for free activities (pink), those that involve money (yellow), those that involve planning (blue) and a couple of open spots (green).

I have a tendency to be too structured and then never follow through, so I tried really hard to make this whole thing be a system of guidelines for us. Giving us all space for summer life to happen, but also a little roadmap for those of us that crave that sort of thing.

a “happier” 2013 {book review part 1}

I’m trying to narrow down my goals for this year with home life, blogging, sewing, etsy and everything else in my life. I’m really trying hard not to have this crazy long list, but rather up to 3 goals for different areas…and in some places maybe only one.

One of my few goals for this space is to be more consistent about doing book reviews. I read all sorts of different books and I can be a pretty voracious reader. The problem is I don’t give myself time to digest what I’m reading either while I’m reading or even afterwards. Goodreads has been a good place for me to record the books I’ve read, but I needed to encourage myself to do something more than just list them. So, one thing you can look forward to in 2013 is hopefully some good honest book reviews. I can’t promise any kind of regularity, so if you are interested in following along this might be the perfect time to becoming a regular subscriber to this little spot (just click over there on the right or just happily add me to your reader).

Enough of that.


Book Review: Happier at Home

One book I finished right towards the end of the year was Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. The title and cover intrigued me so I grabbed it up at the library, only to find out this is her second book about happiness. Her first book was the Happiness Project which you don’t really need to have read before to follow along in this one (at least I didn’t).

Rubin pretty much lives her life by personal commandments that she has set for herself and is absolutely driven by the writers William Morris and Samuel Johnson. If you are on Pinterest, I’m sure you have seen this little illustration floating around with this great William Morris quote:


And in the book she quotes Samuel Johnson many times, but this was one of my favorites:
To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition the end to which every enterprise and labour tends.”

Book Review: Happier at Home

To be fair to her, for all of you grumbling out there with the word “happy” I really think after reading this book she means “contentment”. At least, as I processed through her book that is the word that I kept saying in my head. I long for contentment at home, in my work, in my relationships etc and so much of that contentment (or lack of) stems from my issues…not the issues of those around me. As she states in the book happiness {contentment} is realizing how happy I am and how much I have to be happy for. Another way to think about this is gratefulness. So much, so, so much of our bah humbugness comes from just our lack of opening our eyes to the things around us we should be grateful for. In that comes happiness ~ contentment ~ joy.

In the book, she goes month by month through a year and chooses one area of her life to focus on and then makes a few goals for it. Some examples are: marriage, neighbors, family etc. She goes through month by month and clarifies her goals and then writes about the results. This was the part I loved…her honesty. In one example she tried acupuncture. It was something that she had wanted to do for a while and it fit into her month on basically getting healthier. She tried it, realized it didn’t really work for her and then stopped. And she was ok with it. I’ll write more on this tomorrow, but she just accepted what she needed to accept and. moved. on. That is SO not me! But so where I want to be.

While there were parts of this book and her philosophy that don’t really mesh with mine, there were many things I could take from this book. I think it’s a great one to pick up and use her definitions and her goals to frame questions for yourself. It was an easy read and fun to read at times. She is very whitty and honestly her struggles relate so much to mine in so many ways (oh…I am so selfish!).

So as you think about setting goals and framing your year, I heartily recommend this book.

Interested in more? Tune in tomorrow for my favorite quotes and some of my changes and goals for this year.

fantastic fridays {nov 9)

fantasticfriday button

Hello friends! Time for another weekly wrap up of some great finds from around the web this week.
If you didn’t catch yesterdays post, I’m hosting a give away…check out this link for more info! Entries end tonight at midnight.

great FABRIC: More goodness coming from the Fall Quilt Market. Monaluna has a super great line coming out early next year called Modern Home. I really love the vintage looking appliances. If only it wasn’t so dang expensive!

to whet your APPETITE: Earlier this week I posted a recipe for the best baked pumpkin oatmeal ever. Kinda thinking it might be on the menu again this weekend! It was that yummy.

be NEAT (as in organized): Love, love this idea of using a tool caddy that goes over a bucket for storing art supplies!

a TUTORIAL to do: Totally loving this idea of using galvanized plumbing supplies for curtain rods. Check out this tutorial for everything you need!

becoming more AWARE: Ann Voskamp has a great freebie for a lovely Thankfulness Tree.

something to SEW: Sew Liberated has some really awesome patterns coming out in the next year! Check them out!

to TRIM my house with: I’m trying to come up with some new ways to decorate my banister besides fake garland. I’ve pinned a couple of options. Love this one with embroidery hoops and burlap “ribbon, I also love these white flowers with ornaments hanging in between the rods,  and even just hanging a simple banner.

ILLUSTRATION to stitch: I really don’t need another project for my needle right now, but I do love this vintage looking Christmas tree. It would be a beautiful embroidery!

CUTE: Sweet, sweet embroideries at this site. And the guinea pig…adorable!

Have a happy weekend!!!

And don’t forget about the give away!!!