Smash your Stash

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As I was putting away all my craft supplies after our move, I got to thinking- I have A LOT of craft supplies! I have already briefly addressed my habit of accumulating an unnecessary amount of crafting supplies in my previous post, so I got to thinking. What if… for a whole year I didn’t buy any more crafting supplies, and only used what I had? Crazy and extreme, I know! But I think it would be a good idea for a couple of reasons:

1) It will make space for more…. Just kidding! But it would help if it took up less space. So if I use it up without replenishing = more space!

2) It will challenge me to create within restrictions. From my experience, that is usually when I come up with the best and most creative ideas.

3) It will reinforce my “consume less” attitude that I already apply to other aspects of my life.

So- will it be difficult? You bet! But I am willing to give it a try. I know 1 year is a long time, but I figured with the size of my stash it will definitely last me that long. Also, a caveat- gifts don’t count! (Haha you knew there had to be a loop hole!).

Feel free to tag along with me on this challenge, or share your experiences of working from your stash!

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Collecting vs. Hoarding- is your treasure really trash?

We moved! Which makes 4 moves in the past 5 years, yet I still don’t feel like an expert 😛

One of the aspects of moving I always dread is decluttering, and taking a critical look at the mountains of STUFF, and think if this is really ALL worth hauling along.
Let me be the first to admit- I am guilty of hanging on to ridiculous things with the thought that “This would be perfect in some abstract future situation”! But I think overall I keep this habit under control, restricting it mostly to craft supplies, and don’t get too attached to material possessions. This has been extremely important for me to do personally, as we mostly lived in small urban spaces with minimal storage.

This, however, is not the case for Mrs. B, my mother-in-law. She takes pride in her treasure trove of useless things that are filling up her closet, garage, and crawl-space. As an example, she has amassed a collection of 5 baby gates.  There is no current baby in her life, nor will there be any time soon, however on she goes to collect, like a squirrel at the first signs of fall.
This problem is escalated by her inability to refuse “free stuff”. By this I mean whenever a neighbor, a friend, a relative, or a total stranger says to her- “I’m getting rid of this, do you want it?” her answer will always be a resounding YES. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t actually NEED it right now, it doesn’t matter that its too big or heavy for her to carry home, it doesn’t matter that she has no use for it and even no space for it, she WILL take it.

As we were moving, we were getting rid of some things, and as always asked her first “do you need it?” and yes, we know this is making it worse, but we really needed to get rid of stuff fast and we know she would say yes, so we did it anyways. As she was loading up her car full with our STUFF, she said: “you guys know all this stuff would end up back in your hands eventually? But I know what you would do with all my treasures, donate it all straight to the thrift store”. The absurdity of the situation still strikes me, she knows we would inherit her junk and have to deal with it again, yet she collects anyways. We jokingly refer to her as a “borderline-hoarder”, but choose to ignore the facts that we are not only contributing to the problem, but that it would come back to bite us in the end, and it would again be our turn to deal with the all the STUFF. She looks at it as treasure, and chooses to surround herself with it and enjoy each piece, yet appreciates the fact that it would be dumped as soon as it is in our hands again.

Do you know a “borderline-hoarder” in your life? Do you collect “treasures” yourself? Where is the line drawn between collecting and hoarding? Leave a comment and let me know!

When your decor budget = $0

Starting from scratch. That’s a daunting thought, right? But what if that was the case: empty space, zero budget, go. How would you make it comfortable, stylish, YOU?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Up-cycle and reuse: when your pockets are empty, work with what you’ve got! Anything you can get your hands on that can be re-purposed using existing materials will work. A few examples of this are my toilet paper roll wall decor, beer bottle up-cycle, and bunting.

Hand me downs: there is NO shame in accepting previously loved pieces from friends or relatives. They may not be ideal, but they can definitely get you started! Stuck with an ugly hand me down sofa? Here are some ideas.

Learn to love simplicity: I know it can be tempting to want to fill all those shelves, hang something on every wall, and have cushions in every color and pattern. These are the things that make your space YOURS. However, restrain yourself from over-stuffing your space, as it can quickly become cluttered, fussy looking, and dust collecting! I don’t mean go totally zen and minimalist, but leaving your space relatively empty has a calming effect, makes your space feel larger and cleaner, and is great on a budget! Don’t believe me? Check out these spaces:

dorm1     bedroom

living room     dorm2


What would you do if you had to start from scratch with a $0 budget? Leave your tips in the comments! 🙂

Stop pinning, Start making!

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For most creative people, inspiration is everywhere! There is nothing bad about seeing a project and getting that spark to make it. Where it gets bad though, is when you have 1,000 pins on your “Crafts” board on Pinterest, and none of those have actually been made. The whole point of inspiration is to give you that ‘ZING’ moment where you go “this is awesome! Such a good idea! I should totally make this!”. What often happens though, is we get so carried away with so many amazing inspiring ideas, that we never get the chance to let our own creativity emerge by actually making something. It’s like “pinning paralysis”, where the more creative ideas we are exposed to, the less likely we are to feel confident about actually making anything. So the next time you run across that awesome candy buffet, or that great gift idea for a close friend, or a gorgeous decor project, keep the following in mind:

Supplies: do I already have what it takes to make this? How much would it cost for tools and ingredients? Is this a material I have never worked with before?

Time: How long would this take to make? Am I likely to finish it all in one go? Or will I start it and then forget abut it for a few months? Is now a good time for me to commit to a more serious project?

Necessity: Do I need this in my life? Am I going to thank myself later for making this? Or is this just going to add to the clutter in my life? If I am making this for someone else, will they appreciate it enough for it to be worth making? (more about craft-worthiness in a future post)

I know it seems harsh or limiting to think so critically about your sources of inspiration. The point of this is not to restrict creativity, but to make sure it is directed at the right things. Think about it: if you find a source of inspiration, then soon you act upon it and make something wonderful, you will feel even more motivated and excited about continuing your creativity. If, however, you continue to endlessly pin incredible ideas that linger and never come to fruition, you may end up feeling your creativity is stilted and blocked. (more on how to overcome that in a future post)

So go ahead, take on a project that has been sitting in one of your boards for a while, and make it your own! Take pride in fulfilling that original spark of inspiration and expressing your creativity.

Got an inspiring Pinterest project to share? Leave a link in the comments, and I might just feel inspired and make it!

Home Office Transformation

A home office may not be a requirement for everyone, but for those of us who prefer a designated space for studying, catching up on paperwork, or even taking work home, it is essential.

When putting together a home office, think about your specific needs. What is the space going to be used for? What are your must-haves for the space? How much time will you be spending in that space?

Here are a few more things to consider:

Lighting– if it is possible to have your work space near a window for natural light it is preferred. However, for some it is a distraction, or creates too much glare. Think about the optimal lighting you would need for the type of tasks done in the space. Is the general light in the room causing you to cast a shadow on the work-space? Consider adding a desk lamp for more focused task light.

Ergonomics– this may not be at the top of your priorities, but if you are planning to spend a few hours a day in your home office space, it would be nice not to be sore afterwards. Make sure when seated your knees are at a 90 degree angle, and that your shoulders and elbows are not strained to reach for things like the keyboard or mouse.

Storage– try and have your essentials within an arm’s reach. It is fine to store other items separately, but for increased productivity keep daily use items quickly accessible and frequently replenished as needed.

The home office I am featuring next is mainly used for studying and doing work tasks on the computer. It needed to be functional and sleek at the same time, as well as keeping it within budget!

office b+a

The cork board / white board combo, pen cup, and stacking paper shelf were all purchased at the thrift store, for under $10 altogether. I decided to give the board a quick coat of paint (which I already had from a previous project) to inject some color into the space, as it would be rather monochrome otherwise.

board b+a

Let me know what you think, and what your home office must-haves are in the comments!

Re-cycle, Re-use, Re-purpose: why buy new?

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One of the biggest issues I have faced as a crafter and maker is the constant temptation of buying new things. New supplies, new tools, new materials, anything that is new and shiny catches my eye like a magpie. Have you ever been to a craft store and felt like you could spend HOURS just browsing the aisles, touching everything, dreaming up all the wonderful projects you could accomplish if only you had that one thing…

I feel you. This is a challenge for me from a few aspects:

1) Budget– I simply cannot afford to splurge and go all out on craft supplies.
2) Space– I live in a small space so cannot afford the extra square footage to store all the STUFF.

So how do I satisfy that craft craving without breaking the bank and qualifying as a clinical hoarder?
I try to re-use, re-cycle, and re-purpose things I already have at home in new ways, spicing them up with a bit of imagination, and shuffle things around in an unexpected way. Here are a few examples:

Tea tins. I love tea and my family and friends know it so they always gift me tea, which usually comes in sturdy tins. A normal person might throw these out after their original purpose has been served, but I try and find ways to put this perfectly usable container to good use.

Gift wrap. Yes, I am THAT person that tries to open their gifts carefully so that the beautiful paper it came wrapped in can be used another time. Same goes for ribbon, bows, tissue paper, and gift bags. I don’t usually re-use the paper to wrap a present though, but more to create paper-crafts or decorate other items around the house.

Jars. This is an obvious one, as that is a pretty common item to re-use. Depending on the size, I use old food jars to store pens, hair accessories, homemade dry shampoo, and q-tips. These also make the perfect container / shaker for homemade salad dressing!

In some cases, it is not enough to just use the things you have, and a little something extra is needed. For budget reasons, I try to purchase most of my additional project materials and supplies from either the dollar store, or a thrift store. You will be pleasantly surprised at the stuff you’ll find!

You will notice that the majority of the projects and DIY ideas features on this site are either re-used, re-cycled, or re-purposed in some way. That is because those types of projects inspire me the most: the challenge of creating something beautiful out of something ordinary. I hope my projects inspire you to re-think your space and the items within it, and make something awesome!

Why craft?

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To me, crafting is a lot more then just going to a craft store and loading up on expensive supplies that will only be used for one project. To me, crafting is the ultimate form of creativity: looking around you, recognizing a need, and figuring out how to make something to meet that need.

When I was little I would stay in my room all day and make stuff. My parents refused to buy me a dollhouse so I made one. I felt like putting on a puppet show so I made a stage and puppets to match. I was going through a Harry Potter phase and made my own wands and ‘potions’. This trained my brain to look at the world through a creative lens, and when possible- make instead of buy.

Many crafters latch on to one type of craft, for example: knitting, or card making. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that is not the case for me. I never pigeon-holed myself into one type of material, or one technique. Instead, I set out to passionately experience and learn as much as possible about EVERYTHING. I love making things out of paper, I know how to use a sewing machine, I can knit, I have some basic woodworking skills, I love painting, and a bunch of other things. The only downfall to being a multi-crafter is the size of the supply stash that comes with the territory! So finding creative ways to store and organize became a necessary skill too.

I am not a selfish crafter either- I love making things for others who I know will appreciate it, and enjoy teaching others how to make stuff too. Many people have convinced themselves over time that they are not “artistic” or “creative”, but that’s not true! I believe that with enough encouragement and the right instruction anyone can become a confident crafter and maker.

The best feeling for me is to start a project that requires very few supplies, finish it in a short time, and get to display it proudly. My favorite thing to hear is “you made that?!”- such an ego boost, I know! But it reaffirms why I craft- not only does it brings me joy, it also inspires those around me. That is why I am currently exploring ways to bring that joy and inspiration to my community, through creative classes and workshops. Stay tuned to hear more in future posts!

Why do you craft? I would love to hear your stories in the comments!