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Archive for the ‘Organization’ Category

July 31, 2015 Edition Shapes, curves, and lines make up our world, but we often don’t notice or acknowledge them. Going through life on autopilot or in a state of distraction causes many of us to miss out on seeing some of the truth of what’s in front of our eyes. For example, this echeveria plant has an interesting ruffled appearance and a nice medium green color. But when using the power of black and white photography, the elements of the plant are stripped down to their essence. The dramatic shapes, curves, and lines of the plant now stand out and beg our eyes to take note. So, the next time you’re out and about, stop and look at something around you. In your mind, imagine what that item would look like if it were in black and white. You may discover that you appreciate it in a different way.

#1 – The Power of Black and White

100+ Awe-Inspiring Black & White Photographs

Berenger

The dramatic power of black and photography can be seen 100 times over in 100+ Awe Inspiring Black & White Photographs. Which photo is your favorite?

#2 – Display Those Photos
Creative Ways to Display Photos Taking photographs is one thing, but displaying them is another. If you store photographs in shoe boxes like me (bad, bad, bad idea!), get them out and and try using one of the creative ideas from Buzzfeed’s 27 Unique Photo Display Ideas That Will Bring Your Memories To Life.

#3 – Architectural Winners
The Coolest Buildings on the Planet, According to Architecture Fans Architects play with lines, shapes, and forms for structural and interesting effects. To see some incredible award-winning architectural designs from around the world check out, The Coolest New Buildings On The Planet, According to Architecture Fans.

#4 – Sweet Black and White
Chocolate Icebox Cakes Not everything in the world of black and white is austere. Take this icebox cake for instance. Layers of chocolate wafers and whipped cream, make for one sweet treat. Click here for the recipe.

#5 – Clothes or Souls?
“When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”
Ted Grant

Now go and spread joy!

 

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DIY Pincushion: Repurposing Jars “What are you doing with all of the baby food jars, Mom?” my daughter asked as she eyed the boxes of empty jars. “Oh, I’m saving them for projects.” Catching the look that my daughter and husband exchanged, I added, “It won’t be long before Charlotte moves on from eating commercial baby food, so I have to collect the jars while the collecting is good.” I plan on repurposing the jars for group activity projects throughout the year, so I’ll need a lot of them. These cute little pincushions are just the beginning. Next, I’ll make clever photo jars and then some petite terrariums. Oh, and how about fall votive holders and winter snow globes and Valentine’s Day party favors . . . .

Baby Food Jar Pincushion
As seen on CraftPudding

SUPPLIES
DIY pin cushion supplies
1. Baby food jar
2. Hot glue gun
3. Needle and thread
4. Polyfill stuffing or batting
5. Fabric, cut into a 5-inch circle
6. Scissors
7. Ribbon, enough length to go around the perimeter of the jar lid and wide enough to cover both the lid and the bottom part of the pincushion

DIRECTIONS
1. Cut a length of thread, long enough to stitch around the outer edge of the fabric circle. Make a knot at the end of the thread. Make basting stitches (straight stitches, evenly spaced) around the entire perimeter of the fabric circle. At the end of the stitches, don’t knot the thread or cut it off. You will need to pull this thread to gather the fabric. To make it easier for you to see the stitching, I’ve flipped the fabric over to the wrong side.DIY PIn Cushion Stitch

2. Plug in your glue gun to heat it up.

3. Place the polyfill stuffing in the center of the fabric circle. Pull the thread to gather the fabric until very little of the filling can be seen and it looks like a “puff.”DIY Pin Cushion Poof

4. Adjust the filling in the puff, so that it is evenly distributed. If it is to your satisfaction, go ahead and tie a knot in the thread and snip off the extra length.

5. Apply glue to the top of the cap, making sure to apply some just inside the edge of the cap. If too much glue is applied directly to the edge, it will slop over onto the side (see the big mess I made in the photo). Place the fabric puff stitch-side down on the glue, making sure it is centered on the lid. Apply even pressure on the puff until the glue has hardened. DIY Pin Cushion Glue

6. Finally, working small sections at a time, apply small dots of hot glue around the lid and then press the ribbon onto the glue. The ribbon should be covering both the lid and the bottom of the puff. For a neat finish, cut the ribbon about 1/4-inch longer than necessary and fold this amount back towards the jar. Glue it down, overlapping the previously glue-downed ribbon. DIY Pin Cushion Empty

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Although these small jars make cute little pin cushions, any size jar can be used for this project. Just remember to adjust the diameter of the fabric circle and the amount of stuffing to accommodate the change in the size of the lid.

2. I traced around a 5-inch-diameter bowl to get the correct circle size.

3. As mentioned before, these would make cute party favors. Fill the jars with anything you like.

Enjoy!

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May 8, 2015 Edition Despite lugging my suitcase through subway passageways and up and down stairs, traveling by train through Italy surpassed my expectations. Trains take you places sometimes where airplanes don’t go. If time permits, why not try taking the scenic route on your next trip and travel by train?

#1 – Weeklong Train Trips
Europe by Train Now that I’ve got you thinking about train trips, read Europe By Train: Five Great One-Week Rail Trip Routes and start planning a trip.

#2 – The Man in Seat 61
The Man in Seat 61: Help for Traveling by Train or Ferry If you need help planning a train or ferry trip, check out The Man in Seat Sixty-One, an informative site dedicated to worldwide train and ferry travel.

#3 – Pack Your Bags
Packing Tips From the ProsWhen traveling, the adage “less is more” becomes meaningful. Nobody wants to haul large pieces of luggage on to trains or try to fit them in tiny elevators. Real Simple’s Packing Tips From The Pros offers many helpful ideas on how to select your travel wardrobe and then how to pack it efficiently.

#4 – Upcycling Suitcases
Upcycling Suitcases What to do with old suitcases that can only hold memories and not clothing anymore? Upcycle them into something fabulous like these chest of drawers by JAMESPLUMB. Check out these other suitcase transformations.

#5 – The Upside of Traveling
“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.”
Danny Kaye

Now go and spread joy!

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Charlotte While watching my infant granddaughter suck on her little jacket, I think about all of the fun we will share in the coming days and years. I dream of blowing giant bubbles with her, of making pies out of Play-Doh together, and of sharing favorite books. Very, very soon it will be the Charlotte and “Yin Yin” Show, as that is what it will be when I take on full days of caring for her. With much excitement and a little trepidation, I consider all that I need to have on hand and all that I need to do to prepare for her visits.

As far as equipment goes, I am well-prepared. Thanks to my thoughtful son and daughter-in-law, I have a Pack n’ Play, a space-saving highchair, a baby bathtub, a super-duper baby monitor, and an array of other helpful items. I purchased a car seat and a stroller on my own, because I wanted specific features. If you are a first-time grandparent planning to care for an infant or young grandchild in your home, here is a list of items to consider having on hand and some additional helpful information:

Equipment
I am fortunate to have been given many of these costly items. Many grandparents look for used items. There is nothing wrong with that, but before you look for second-hand items, I urge you to use caution. Because safety standards in the baby industry change constantly, you need to do some product-safety homework prior to buying or borrowing certain used items. Be smart and research current safety regulations and check out product recalls.

Crib and mattress, portable crib and mattress, or Pack n’ Play
Car seat
Stroller
Highchair of some sort
Baby carrier for hands-free movement
Baby monitor, optional
Baby bathtub, optional

Basics
Keep in mind that babies are messy little things. You’ll want to have more than one set of bedding and a couple of sets of baby’s clothing on hand.

Crib sheets, minimum of 2
Waterproof mattress pads
Waterproof multi-use pads (I use these for change pads at home and on the go)
Free and clear laundry detergent
Diapers
Wipes
Extra changes of clothes
Changing pad, optional
Baby bath towels and washcloths, optional (I like using baby wash cloths, because they are thinner and can more easily get into baby’s nooks and crannies)

Health Care, Safety, And Emergency
Safety measures have changed since my children were young. Infants now sleep on their backs in cribs with no bumpers or blankets. Syrup of Ipecac is no longer recommended for your home emergency kit.

Pediatrician’s contact information
Health insurance information
Copy of child’s health history, including allergies, immunizations, and significant health conditions
Poison Control contact number 1-800-222-1222 on or near every phone
Consent for treatment signed by parents
Digital thermometer and extra batteries for it
Baby acetaminophen and Acetaminophen Dosage Chart
Diaper rash ointment
Safety gates
Cabinet and drawer latches
Door knob covers
Outlet covers
Toilet latches
Swimming pool fence, alarm or pool cover
Corner guards
Take a CPR class that includes infant resuscitation and CPR. At the very least, watch an instructional video, such as the one below:

Feeding
Ask baby’s parents what supplies and brands you need to have on hand.

Baby bottles, nipples, and rings of the type the parents use at home
Breast milk or baby formula
Bottle brush
Infant-safe spoons, cups and bowls
For an older baby: baby food that baby’s parents recommend
Two types of bibs: some for catching food and some for absorbing drool

Entertainment
I’ve been known to entertain my granddaughter with just about anything: soda bottles, empty mylar candy bags, metal tins, and red party cups. All things can create sounds and movement. However, never leave a baby unattended with any of these things! Charlotte loves music, so I downloaded lullabies and other baby songs onto my smart phone. I can play music for her wherever we are and especially when she is in her crib trying to fall asleep.

Chunky board books
Age appropriate toys
Music
Infant stimulation cards (I downloaded these for free and printed them up)

Note: This list is a work in progress. As I learn and adjust to caring for Charlotte, I’m sure this list will grow too. And of course, the needs of each grandparent and grandchild are different. Let me know if you have any suggestions of items that should be included and please share with me your child-caring experiences with your grandchildren.

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Dog Dreams Sleeping next to her leash, my son’s dog Ruca dreams of going for a walk. There is much we can learn from dogs. One thing my dog taught me about life is that if you set your mind on something and work relentlessly at it, you might just achieve your goal. For my dog Romeo, it was chewing through metal containers of Altoids to get to the mints inside or deftly pulling all the files out of my husband’s briefcase, without messing up a single paper, to get to one pack of gum. Granted, dogs have very basic wants and needs. Humans have loftier and more complicated goals. We need to be like dogs and persevere at whatever dream we dream or goal we set for ourselves: finishing school, finding a job, kicking a habit, losing weight, etc. These all take dogged determination, but if dogs can make their dreams come true, why can’t we?

#1 – Never Give Up Charlie Brown
Charles Schulz and Perseverance No one knew more about persevering in life than the Peanuts cartoon character Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown reflected the thoughts and life of cartoonist Charles Schulz. He said of Peanuts, “If you read the strip, you would know me. Everything I am goes into the strip—all of my fears, my anxieties and my joys.” Despite all of the failures and rejections in his life, Charles Schulz never gave up. Read Charles Schulz and Perseverance for an insight into his life and where he got his inspiration from.

#2 – Life Hacks
41 Creative DIY Hacks to Improve Your Home I dream of simplifying my life, so whenever I see clever life hacks, I make note of them. 41 Creative DIY Hacks to Improve Your Home offers many ideas that I’ve not seen before. Having just inherited half a dozen magazine holders from my son, I will be transforming them into sandal and flip flop holders this weekend. Check out the ideas and see which ones will make your life better.

#3 – Aerial Photography and Designer Clothing
Aerial Photography and Designer Clothing In a series of photos, photographer Joseph Ford juxtaposes his aerial landscapes with designer clothing for interesting effect. Appreciate his use of the artistic elements of line, shape, form, space, color, texture and value in his work.

#4 – Head Up, Heart Strong
Cancer does not discriminate. We all know that. I sew blankets for an organization that supports children with cancer. Yet, when I learned several months ago that my cousin’s 17-year-old daughter had cancer, I was filled with disbelief. As Katherine or “Moi,” as most family and friends call her, began her senior year in high school this month, she reflected back on her recent battle with cancer. Declaring her mantra while going through treatment as “Head Up, Heart Strong,” she shared her thoughts in a touching and inspirational speech to her high school classmates. We can learn so much from her experience.

#5 – Lesson From Defeat
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
Maya Angelou

Now go and spread joy!

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September 5, 2014 Edition Stealthily, I tiptoe outside with a weapon in my hand. I spot my unsuspecting nemesis, take aim, and rush towards him. I’m armed with a fully loaded Super Soaker that my husband purchased on clearance. My target is a squirrel, one of many who are breaking the branches off of my delicate Japanese maple tree. Once back inside, I think to myself, “Really? It’s come to this, has it? I’m a grandmother shooting squirrels with a water gun.” Am I crazy?

#1 – Get Some Sleep!
12 Simple Ways to Improve Your Sleep Maybe if I got more sleep, I wouldn’t be so crazy. And it’s not just me, several of my female friends also have sleeping issues. Of course, I’m not saying they’re crazy, too. If you have issues falling asleep and staying asleep you might want to read 12 Simple Ways to Improve Your Sleep from Pick the Brain. It’s a good reminder on how to develop better sleeping practices.

#2 – Saving Space
17 Space-Saving Designs Storing two apartments’ worth of stuff in my home for my adult kids is driving me crazy. Stuff is everywhere. Knowing that my space situation is temporary, I still appreciate the clever designs in 17 Ingeniously Designed Products That Will Solve Your Space Problem.

#3 – What Matters?
Knowing what Matters the Most to You Life is crazy, but do you let the business of life dominate the meaning of life? It’s easy to get caught up in the details of the day and lose sight of the big picture, your life. The four tips from the article Knowing What Matters to You Instead of Living by Default will help you focus on what matters to you the most.

#4 – Generated Paper
Generate Your Own Specialized Papers When you need a specialty type of paper, like graph paper, children’s writing paper, or music paper, don’t go out to the store to buy them. Just print them up on your home computer. That’s the concept behind the website generatedpaper.com, where you can download templates for free. I haven’t tried to print any paper yet, so let me know what you think of this site.

#5 – Be Crazy
“Sometimes, the only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy.”
Matt Nguyen

Now go and spread joy!

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Ellie's Belly “Arggh! Who put the baby fat back on my body?” I exclaim as I peel off another shirt and toss it on top of the “No-Longer-Looks-Good” pile of clothing. I hate cleaning out my closet. Standing in the middle of my closet with my midriff showing, while in the midst of spring cleaning, I think it would be fair to say that I’m experiencing a midlife crisis. I know exactly who put the baby fat back on my body. Chastising myself for allowing it to happen, I vow to get on the treadmill and lift weights today and I might even do it again tomorrow.

#1 – Get the Hang of It
Closet Organization Cleaning out a clothes closet is a task for the decisive. Don’t assume that things fit. Try on everything, because, not only do styles change, bodies do, too. As you come across clothes that haven’t been worn for a while or items that “kinda” fit, you need to make decisions. If you haven’t worn an item of clothing for a year or more, there must be a reason for that: too small, too large, wrong color, bad style, poor condition, needs to be altered, sentimental attachment, or whatever. Honestly, just get rid of the item. Yes, get rid of it even if it still sports a price tag. It’s taking up valuable real estate in your closet!

If you don’t have a clue which clothes you wear regularly, load all your hangers in one direction on the rod – the necks of the hangers either all facing the front or all facing the back. When you wear something, turn the hanger around and put the item back on it. In a year’s time, after all the seasons have passed, take a look at which hangers haven’t been turned around. Eliminate those clothes from your closet.

The items of clothing that “kinda” fit, ones you would definitely wear if you lost 5 pounds, get a six-month reprieve. Put them on specific-colored hangers. Place a sticky note on the backside of your closet door indicating the date for the final judgment. When that day arrives, try on everything on those hangers and make an honest decision whether they go or they stay.

#2 – Simplify Your World
Clever Tip Looking for ways to organize or simplify your world? Read 40 Clever Life Hacks to Simplify Your World and decide which ones you want to try. Being skeptical about some of them, I did a little online sleuthing and found these amusing “Life Hacks Debunked” videos from Mental Floss.

#3 – Swapping Clothes
Spring-Autumn by Qozop Would you be willing to swap clothes with one of your elders? In his photo series Spring-Autumn, photographer Qozop asked his models, pairs of young and old, to swap clothes. Scroll through the intriguing before and after photos and ponder Shakespeare’s paraphrased line “clothes makes the man.”

#4 – Wall Art From Upcycled Magazines
Upcycling Old Magazines Three words describe wall art made from rolled-up magazine pages: clever, colorful, and customizable. Imagine all the design variations you can make using this technique. I knew I saved old magazines for a reason!

#5 – Clean Your House
“We are used to cleaning the outside house, but the most important house to clean is yourself – your own house – which we never do.”
Marina Abramovic

Now go and spread joy!

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