Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Holiday Preparation 2008

Week #1 "List and Browse Week" Nov 1-8th
Quick get some Thanksgiving into it! Decorate your home for Thanksgiving asap because November flies by doesn't it? .

Quick grab a sheet of paper. Make your lists of gift recipients, Christmas cards, menus for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's, goodies to share or to give, favorite meals to prepare ahead, decorations needed, and gifts to make. I reuse my main gift giving list from last year and consult it to make sure I am giving something different to each person than what I did the last two years.

Develop and record ideas for gifts and decorations. PLAN and ask yourself the following questions:
* Do we put any emphasis on the spiritual side of holiday/Christmas? Can we improve that?
* What would our ideal holiday/Christmas be like? How can we make it so?
* What ongoing events or activities are particularly important to our family at this holiday? Do we go to The Nutcracker every year? See Santa? Go on a ski trip? Decorate the tree? Light a menorah? Write down what your traditions are and then FOCUS on giving them even more importance. Don't forget to take photos! :)

I even get out my holiday cards and mailing labels and start addressing and signing cards. I send a holiday letter so I don't write notes in the cards themselves. This allows me to get the envelopes ready to go and cards inside. All I have to do after that is write and tuck in my letter in a few weeks. Work ahead as much as you can...

Week #2 "Gather your Supplies and start Making Gifts Week" Nov 8-15th

After inventorying supplies on hand, purchase canned goods for holiday baking. Get any supplies needed for gift making. Don't forget the film, batteries, gift wrapping, and Christmas cards. After gathering all your Christmas gift wrap into one place, do you really need more? A friend of mine did this recently and found she didn't need to buy cards again for over ten years if she stuck to using her stash!! Wow.

Focus your energies on completing simple, useful gifts to be made, setting aside gifts that aren't coming together, and writing your holiday letter. Find family photos suitable for inclusion with holiday cards.Make sure you allow enough time for duplication of photos during this busy season.

Week #3 "Baking Week" - Nov 15-22nd
Set aside the time needed to complete holiday goodie making.Make lists of toys, books, and clothes that children would enjoy and keep the list handy for telling family members who ask what they would like. I also break out the collection of children's holiday books we already own so we can read them to the kids or visting children. After baking a family favorite, run down and scan the recipe and print it out for loved ones away from home. Send them a batch with the recipe attached.

Week #4 "Shopping and Charity Weeks" Nov 22nd-29th
Complete as much shopping ahead of time as possible. Take advantage of some of the sales before Thanksgiving! Check your Thanksgiving menus and Thanksgiving grocery list. Do you need to buy more supplies? We always seem to run out of whipped cream! Hit shops on Black Friday if you like to shop then. Focus on gift buyingfor prepared list. Wrap and label packages as you go. Set aside any needed shipping boxes.

Remember to be charitable too. Some donation centers take only new items for local kids --but others take both new and gently used items. Do a 27 thing fling for your local charity during the holiday prep and you will have a happier heart. Volunteer to ring bells for 30 minute shift for Salvation Army or serve one meal in a food bank.

Week #5 "Shopping and Mailing Week" - Nov 29-Dec 6
Nov 27th is Thanksgiving holiday in the USA. Celebrate with whatever 'plenty' you have. Hard times or not, there is always something to be thankful for. You are not eattin' possum are ya? (Think of the Great Depression) Even if it's over a peanut butter and jelly, be thankful for those you love.

Finish up any shopping and gift making at home. Complete package wrapping for gifts to be shipped. Complete addressing and mailing of Christmas correspondence. All that work I did on my envelopes and cards from week one is now paying off in week 5 and 6.

Week 6 "Meal Making and Decorating Week" - Dec 6-13th
Prepare some favorite meals and other baked goods for the hectic days ahead. Pre-plan regular meals and make ahead simple stuff to freeze so you can have a few hours off on other days. Decorate your home. Enjoy the process. Get out some great beverages and snacks and celebrate the process as well as the end results. Involve children in memory making!

Week #7 "Final Shopping/Wrapping Week" - Dec 13-20
Complete last minute details around home. Learn to let it be also. When it is decorated adn done--stop. Enjoy holiday parties, concerts, and family activities. Don't keep going back to Target to see what else they have that is new in the holiday decor. STOP. And enjoy what you have.

Week #8 "Celebrate!" - Dec 20-27
Enjoy the Holidays with Family and Friends! Learn to listen to what they are really saying. Being festive doesn't mean being loud. If you love them, listen to them. Take time to drive the neighborhoods to enjoy holiday lighting displays. Enjoy family traditions and special meals. Don't invite stress. Plan ahead for tensions and then work tactfully to diffuse them.

Happy Holidays :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Finding Time

"How can we find more time for our hobby?"

I hear it all the time from scrappers of all types: "I need more hours in my day," "I can't find time to scrap," "If only I could have a whole week to myself to get organized," "I can't seem to get going on my books," "I haven't done a page in months," and "I shop more than I scrap!" Common complaints, right? Have you ever said similar things? I must admit I have often felt pressed for time and my hobby is the first thing to flex. But if it flexes too often, we don't get very far finishing pages do we? Let's figure out a way to have more TIME to scrapbook.

The Problem:
Our resources and time is limited. Not only by our busy schedules, but also by the unexpected aspects of life--like job stress, carpools, children's events, sickness, etc. Sometimes I hear scrappers joke about "never getting caught up" "working on my books from now to forever" or they laugh off the dozen rolls of film they just took to be developed. Not to mention the thousands of digital pics stuck someplace in their hard drives.

Sure we all know the hobby is just a hobby. But it is also more than that? Isn't it a history of our family too? It may seem like dream but most of us really do want to get albums done and finished for our loved ones. Let's make it a priority to get more done. Let's leave finished albums to our kids-- not boxes full of things we never got time to finish.

Possible Solutions:
How you ask? How can you make more time out of a 24 hour day? Time is a basic element in life. We often think of time as something that just goes by. Time is sometimes viewed as an element in life beyond our control. (ie my several gray hairs! LOL) Often I will get up from the computer screen or the TV set and be shocked to find an hour more has passed than I expected. Has the deadline for a project at work ever snuck up on you? And we all have had to deal with kids who forget time and stay on the playground or the Nintendo or the IM too long. WOW Where did I let that time slip off to? I wasn't paying attention to how I was spending my time.

Yet other times I am amazed at how productive I can be in an hour or two. A work deadline is met with time to spare. The house gets tidy, the errands get accomplished. How did I do that? Did time stand still? What was the difference and how can I make my days and my time work for me and not against me?

We all know that we DO have some control over time. The control we have is how we choose to spend our time. This is a lesson I learned from my great-grandmother when I was 7. She was a pioneer type gal in Missouri. She still did everything the old way even in 1967. (My mom on the other hand believed in using modern conveniences you see so the contrast was apparent even to a 7 yr. old) Great grandma would pluck chickens, cook from scratch, wash the dishes by hand, churn butter, hang out the wash. I must have been amazed and asked her one afternoon how she did all that work and still had any time for herself and her quilting.

Her reply was to take me by the hand and lead me to the linen cupboard. She took out her dish towels and sweetly explained that she made time for her love (quilting) because on Monday you did the laundry and tuesday you did the ironing and thur you did your errands and shopping.....You have seen those towels reminding the gals of the daily chores. She explained that because she followed a structure and a system with her time, she had time to do what she loved. Her family grew to know her system and respect it and her time. She then made time for her creative hobby.

I think I agree with her even today. Thank the Lord I don't have to pluck my own chickens-- but I do have to manage my time. The only common thread on my most productive days and weeks seemed to be that I made a plan or a list.


Look at the calendar and PLAN. You need to work your goals into the existing times in your week . Make your goals (scrapbook time) a priority and write them into your calendar. This is especially important if you don't have a space to scrapbook where you can leave the work up and do 5 minutes here or there. You may need a bigger chunk of time than 15 minutes to take things out and get started sure, but take the bull by the horns and WRITE IT IN! Honestly who has time to got grocery shopping or to the dentist. But we make time for the mundane-- so why not make time for sharing our own history?

Breaking Scrapbooking Block and Finding more Time in a too-full Day!

1. Adjust your priorities.

It's all about choices. If you're not scrapping at all, it's because you've chosen to do something else. If you're watching Big Brother or a rerun of Family Ties, get up and move away from the TV! LOL This also goes for too much time in front of the computer screen!

2. Add it to the Family Calendar.

I have found that writing it on our family calendar also helps others in the family take it seriously. They see that commitment on the calendar and about half the time they automatically find another parent to carpool to the movies. If you are a morning person get up an hour earlier twice a week to scrap. If you are an evening person, get busy twice a week after the house is quiet. Maybe you can decide to go REGULARLY to local scrapbook store crops and retreats and PLAN it in on the calendar. Hubby has learned to make dinner on those nights. In order to get our scrapping done we have to make time for it. Use the crock pot once a week, eat an hour earlier or later and use the hour you saved to scrap right before or after dinner. This kind of time will not fall into your lap.

Take control of your scrapping time. Make time for it. Look at this week's calendar or this month's calendar and WRITE IT IN at least once a week. Give up an email loop (not ours of course!) or a tv show that is getting dull. Substitute a block of 30 minutes, an hour, or maybe two scrapping time for any of those 'blank' times where you have caught yourself mentally saying "Well that was a waste." Be proactive and manage your time the way YOU want . The time is in our days. We just have to find it and grab it and use it.

3. Lower your expectations.

You can't believe I said that? It is true--You don't have to create a contest winner every time. My ratio of quick pages to really nicer "stunning" pages is ten quick pages to one primo page. It keeps me moving along and uses lots of the elements I have already bought and want to use up. You can still create stunners...just less often. My teenage kids have even said they would rather see the albums DONE than wait for every page to be good enough for a contest.

4. Do something scrapbook related every day.

Just sorting photos, organizing the sticker binder, filing new papers, and cleaning your area will help you work faster later. This does NOT mean go to more yahoogroups, Bulletin Boards, and scrap chat rooms! Each Bulletin Board you check takes an average of 20 to 30 minutes. Couldn't you be scrapping instead? Don't want to go cold turkey on your buddies? Pick your favorite lists and stay on those but drop one or two others and gain 20-40 minutes! Or check them HALF as often as you do now. See? You just gained TWICE your current time to scrapbook!

5. Do one little thing.

Sometimes we get mentally blocked because the task ahead looks too darn big. Break it down into smaller parts and start with the first photo or set of photos. Sounds too obvious, but the fact is, we let ourselves get psyched out by the thought of doing a page, when all we really need to do is start by picking colors or page additions!

6. Take Sketch Notes.

Put a blank book in your purse or car and look for ideas everywhere you happen to be. Look at billboards, magazine ads, pop cans, and get ideas for color combinations and graphic designs. Do it while waiting for the car pool. You don't have to be elaborate or an artist. Just sketch it out so you can recognize what you had in mind. Use this book later when you need a fresh idea or jump start.

7. Journaling is often a tough aspect to 'hurry".

And really we don't think you have to hurry it. But do use your writing time wisely. . Frequently, we get blocked because we're stuck by one idea or subject and we're reluctant to get started. Take that title or photo or memory and in your blank book, free associate or
brainstorm. Write down every word you can think of relating to the event. If some seemingly unrelated word pops into mind, put that down too. Later sift through your words for a few key ones that relate to the original idea.

8. Momentum. One little shove in the right direction...

Just push that ball down the hill and watch it roll! Take a photo from your stack of unfinished pictures and scrap it, no matter what. It doesn't have to become a stunning layout--see what you can do in 30 minutes with it. Try something new. Take out an idea book and copy a layout you love. That is what they are there for! Try this with some of your average photos if you are leery. Just do it and get the page done. You have thousands of pages to do.

9. Take a tea or water break every hour or so.

Skip the caffeine and sit back a minute or two or five and recharge the creativity batteries. Then go at it again.

10. Better than therapy!

If you had a physical or mental issue that needed weekly appointments, you would make sure you got to them. Treat your "me" hobby time and scrapbooking as seriously as you would any mental health break or appointment. It certainly is as important as getting your nails done or a massage! You need your creative time --not because it adds more to your plate--but because it actually does help de-stress you!

Write in at least one more hour a week for designated scrapbooking time. Yes you can find it. It is there. Plan for it. Write it in and DO it. So what if you have to give up reruns of Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy. No more wishful thinking....Grab that time before it slips away. Make your time work for you. Use those supplies like papers and stickers. Zip out a few pages. Your family really does NOT want to have to dispose of 3 iris carts full of paper at an estate sale after you are gone....They would much rather look over your finished albums full of treasured memories...

....An imperfect finished page is better than an perfect page 'someday' that only exists in your head....

Make it happen for your family. :)


Friday, October 17, 2008

Using a Macro-Scope on our Homes

You have heard of a microscope....You can use it to look in giant detail at a tiny bit of something. Our society tends to encourage us to do this with our science, our education, our politics, and even our hobbies and lifestyles. Everyone is a specialist. One expert will even try to out-expert the other....

But today I was reading about turning our thinking around a bit when we solve problems. It is often better to take a MACRO-scope view instead of a microscope view. We can use this kind of 'overview thinking' not only in our jobs --but at home. That concept got me thinking. The bigger picture of life and a sense of prioritizing on a bigger scale are often left behind in lieu of pursuing the specific immediate goodies of life.

Taking a bigger view was brought to my attention this week as I am helping a friend organize her entire home. I empathized with her when she said she had lost sight of what it must look like to other people coming in to her home. She has been overlooking just how bad things had gotten bit by bit. She was so busy adding to each pile of 'useful stuff' that she no longer saw that the same piles were literally overtaking the house. I had last visited her at home about 3 years ago. So my visit this week was a bit of a jolt. But together, we worked out a plan by talking about what she wants her 'macroscopic' view of her home to be again.

I admire that she was willing to step back from her position immersed in 'stuff' to look at it like an outsider would. She wants to move away in six months. In order to get this home on the market and to pack and move with less expense, she needs to get busy fast.

So we started with this list of what she wants her home to be right now in preparation:

1. No piles of paper on the floors

2. All books and magazines in the bookcases and not on the floor as overflow

3. No stacks of movies and games on the floors

4. No trash on the floors

5. No pests/ants/spiderwebs etc

6. No clothing on the floors or randomly unkempt in baskets (she had forgotten if about 7 baskets full were even clean or dirty)

7. No threadbare clothing will be worn--just toss it or make rags.

8. No broken or busted items kept

9. No pet smells allowed

10. No clothing more than 10 years old to be kept (that means 1998 plus--no eighties!)

11. All clothing must fit into each person's closet or dresser. Period. Purge until it does.

12. No peeling or damaged plasticware

13. To be able to vacuum the floor fully to the walls again

14. To donate all craft supplies for all but the remaining 3 crafts she truly loves. (We are talking a roomful of donations!)

My friend really will get to her goals because she has decided on a life change. She wants to take up a smaller footprint on this earth materialistically. It was a big turning point for her. She has always been so good about her own health, the environment at large, social awareness in politics, her childrens' health, and their educations. She just had to apply the same deliberation and principles to her HOME that she does to the other aspects of her world view.

By streamlining her contents inside her home, she is taking the bigger view of what is best for her family. No more paper piles knee high in each room to trip over. No more toxic plasticins in the peeling dishware. No more hoarding board games that they will never play or collecting yarn she will never knit. She is passing any useful items on to others who will truly use them. She is learning to put out her favorite and nicest items so she --and others-- can see them. She is learning to pull out and wear her nicer professional clothing instead of waiting for 'events' and conferences.

Walk around your home. Imagine I am there with you. What would we see? What would you tell me about your home? And what would your home tell me about you?

Take a macroscopic view and decide what can go....