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Sunday, 18 May 2014

Organising Series: Part 3: Notebooks

Today's instalment in my mini organising series is all about my shopping organisation.  I have only recently started using this system because the way I used to do my shopping was very chaotic and inefficient.  I would go out into town with a vague idea of what was needed and come back without the very things that I went for! Not to mention unused discount coupons and offers that would have been useful, had I remembered them before they went out of date!

So, armed with information gained from Pinterest (I have a useful board on organisation here) and after watching a few youtube videos, I set about getting myself an efficient shopping system.

First of all, I put a notebook & a pen in lots of different rooms in my house so that I can write down what I need immediately that I think of it.  I have notebooks in my craft room, my bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen and the lounge and when I need to go shopping I go into each room in turn gathering all the lists together.

Kitchen Notebook

I list all the items on my iphone using an app that I've recently discovered called Cozi.  It's linked to my husband's phone and either one of us can get the items needed when we are out and about.  When we cross the items off it crosses them off both our lists which I think is super duper clever as it saves us getting duplicates.

Back onto the Shopping Organiser...
This was bought from Staples and is called an 'Arc' organiser.  What I like about it is the pages are punched so they can be moved around, unlike a normal notebook.  This is a useful facility when you have changeable content.

Opening it up, you can see I keep my store cards in the front:
 ..and all my vouchers in named plastic wallets in the back.
This is a sample page of store cards in the business card wallets:
The business card organiser was bought separately and made by Adoc. They have the same size of punched holes as the arc. 
The A5 plastic wallet pages I use are made by Adoc but Arc make them too.  
I've labelled each shop I get discount vouchers for and put everything I have to do currently with that shop in its own wallet page:
I highlight dates, to make sure that I know to use them (if I need or want to!) before they expire.  I can also see when I need to remove them.  (The plastic wallets are useful for seeing both sides of a voucher too).
In the back pages I have some lined and graph paper for various notes. Here I have put all the Opening Hours of  my local supermarkets, just in case the need arises to go to a certain one for emergency bread or tea bags at 6pm on a Sunday!:
 This is page 1 of 3, we have a whole set of local supermarkets and luckily I'm not loyal to any!

So, this is my system, hope you found it useful (and not just a tad obsessive?!...) Join me again soon for some more organising tips,
{Creative Flourishes}


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Organisation Series Part 2 Handbag

I have loads quite a few handbags and with the weather warming up I thought I would be brave and start to use one of my 'good weather' cotton handbags.

Since I've been on a bit of an organising frenzy lately, I thought I'd show you a few of the ideas that I have found that are working well for me at the moment.  I say 'at the moment' because I do switch about if I find a technique that I thought would be perfect simply isn't working.  

OK, let's start with the contents as a whole:
Here we have the bag, a Shopping Organiser (containing all my shop cards plus other interesting info, I'll tell you about that in my next post), my pencil case, umbrella, 'gubbins' bag (details to follow), glasses case, coin purse, charity craft magazine, notebook (closed with a hair band) and my notes & cards wallet. 

In detail, we have my pencil case, which is a make up bag that is in clear plastic so I can see which pen I want (I have moods which dictate which particular pen I want to write with at any given moment.  Hopefully I'm not alone in this..?)
My glasses case:
...which isn't exactly glamorous, but really helps me find it in the darkness of the handbag's black lining. 

My coin purse:
Again, clear plastic.  I love seeing at a glance whether I have the right change for something.  Before I had this I used to hand out notes at the cash desk, rather than struggling to count out the correct change which meant that I ended up getting lots more unnecessary and heavy change in return.  I'm really pleased I changed (groan!) to this type of purse.  The purse, incidently, is called a 'Clippy'.

This charity magazine was in my bag because I just happened to have bought it from 'The Stroke Association' when I attended one of their open days recently:
It has some interesting items to make and includes the instructions.  A useful item to peruse in a coffee shop, preferably with a cake...

And then there's my notes & cards wallet (the blue & green item on the bottom row).   I keep all my notes(£)  in there, along with my bank and library cards.  Store cards are kept in the Shopping Organiser, which as I said will be a whole new post.  

Finally, the gubbins case and its contents and they are:
1. Personal items 2.Tissue packet 3.Comb 4.Emergency pound coin holder, straight from the 1980's!  5.Teeny Paper knife  6.Pocket game called the 'Left-Right' game. We love playing this as a family whilst waiting for food in cafes and it's great for keeping the boys out of mischief too!  7.Hearing Aid Batteries for me  8. Pink Swiss Army emergency set, including scissors and tweezers  9. Photos of boys in Paperchase wallet. 10. Plasters. 11. A clothes stain remover pack  12.Lipstick and lipbrush  13. Anti Chaffing cream for when my glasses rub my ears 14. Mascara  15. Stylus for my phone and 16. Bubblegum flavoured lip balm.

Not much make up but then I don't wear it very often.   If I do, I put it on before I go out.

There are pockets in the front of the bag where I keep my keys:
This for me was a very useful tip.  The amount of times I've struggled in the rain outside my front door,  pulling all the stuff out of my bag to try and find my keys.  This simple idea has greatly increased my sanity levels.  (I have also put red tape on my car door key, it looked so much like the ignition and this alone has saved me countless minutes...)

Finally (phew! very long post), I have my phone and emergency chargers:
Again, kept so that the phone can be grabbed rapidly, if it rings.  That was another thing that used to get lost amongst the abyss that was my bag previously.

Thanks for stopping by today. See you soon for some more organising tips,

 {Creative Flourishes}

Monday, 12 May 2014

Organising Series: Part 1 Craft Bag

Hello again! This week I'd like to show you some of the techniques that I've been using recently to contain some of my everyday clutter.  Today's 'show and tell' is about my travel Craft Bag which is where I keep my every day Filofax (This one is from WHSmiths and called a 'Clipbook') and also my art journal, (not pictured), stored underneath the Filofax.

The bag itself I think is one that people normally use for beauty products and I was very pleased to obtain it for just £5 from my local Cancer Research shop.  It was brand new and in immaculate condition, yay! Being black, it doesn't look that exciting from the outside, but that doesn't really matter as it's what's inside that counts, isn't it?

And what a lot there is!  This is it all rolled out showing you (nearly!) everything I've managed to cram into all the nooks and crannies of the bag.  Hopefully you can read the labels OK, you may need to click onto each of the individual pictures though.  I've broken down each of the sections so you can see them in more detail.

I was also so pleased to find the label 'Stamping Up' punch (top right) at another charity shop for just £1.50! What a bargain!  I've never seen one before (at these places) and probably never will again.  You do have to get things as you see them though.

When preparing this post, it did make me realise that I've got an awful lot of glue in there, but that's OK, they are different types and I never know which one I'm going to need so 'it's all good'.  I do love having some of my favourite art products all in the one place, and this system makes it so easy to just grab them when I need to. 

The main compartment was a bit difficult to photograph as it contains loose items, but you should be able to get the main idea.

A bonus tip for you:  If you wrap some 'Press 'n' Seal' around your opened packet of baby wipes they still stay moist when the sticky goes. 

I have put some more pens in the Derwent Pencil Wrap which rolls up and that is sealed with velcro.

Lots of lovely colours!

I love washi tape and use it to decorate my filofax diary entries, it's great for adding a pop of colour onto a boring black and white page. 

...and Supaclips are a much more fun and colourful alternative to staples too! 

Not forgetting the side pocket:
...and finally, in the outside zip pockets (see top picture) I keep my magazine cuttings & stickers that I also add to my journal and filofax. 

Please join me for the next episode in my organising series where I will be showing you the contents of my handbag,

Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Art of Whimsical Lettering

Back Again! And today I'm pleased to be showing you some samples that I have made doing one of my favourite artistic activities, lettering. 

I preordered this book, 'The Art of Whimsical Lettering' by Joanne Sharpe from Amazon UK way back in December and have very patiently (fib!) been waiting for it to arrive.

I have decided to diligently work my way through the book, completing all the exercises in the order that they come, rather than 'dipping my toe in' here and there.  This technique is what I find works for me, but, as the saying goes, 'each to his own'.  I have even resisted the temptation to look ahead to see what treats are coming up as for me that is like peaking at a christmas present.

Anyway, on to the exercises that I've completed so far (I've had the book for two whole days!) and to show you my approach, which is different to what is suggested.

In the book we are encouraged to get a journal type book to do all our lettering in and if the pages are too thin to stick two pages together to counteract any bleedthrough from markers, paints, etc.  What I've decided to do differently is to not have a journal but to keep all my completed pages together in ring binders.  I will be using an A5 size for most pages, and then using an A4 for when I do bigger pieces.  

I have an A5 notebook with wonderfully smooth paper in (called Optik Paper) that I plan to do most of the exercises in and will swap around with other types of paper as needed.  I have graph, tracing and watercolour paper amongst others that I can add to my folders using a hole punch.

(For those in the UK, the A4 folder was from Paperchase and the Snopake brand of A5 folder was from Rymans). 

I can't tell you what I had to do for the exercises, because that wouldn't be fair to the author of the book, but I can show you how I completed them.

The exercises you see here aren't meant to be seen as complete like works of art are, they are just simply for practicing lettering.  Practicing is something that is very much encouraged in this book, to be carried out every day, if possible. 

I can tell you that exercise #4, on the right hand side of this page was to look out for and cut out printed examples of lettering that we like: 
I'm sure I could do pages (& pages!) of that!

I've always loved lettering and even had a job doing calligraphy in the past, so am loving finding new fun ways to present it creatively. 

I will be back soon with some more of this, plus other crafts that I've been doing recently.
Thank you so much for stopping by today,

Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Spring is in the Air

It's Spring! No, not in reality, but in my latest page of my handmade mother-in-law's calendar:
You may remember from a few posts ago that I'm rapidly trying to finish this scrapbook calendar that I gave to my MIL for christmas but rather rudely snatched back (no, asked nicely) to improve on the pages that I'd already completed. 

For this May page I changed the theme completely. Before I added all this 'Springness' it had quite a boring picture of my boys playing with a remote controlled boat on the canal.

To be honest, I'm not normally a flower person, but the calendar already had the outline of flowers printed on the bottom of the page so I went with it.

...And when I remembered that picture on the left of my son holding that crocus I knew that I just had to use it.  These pretty type of images are the type of embellishments that I would save for when I make cards for my MIL so they were perfect for this themed page for her too. 

I have also completed the July page.  The background page for this had the predetermined theme of 'Photo Star' so I found embellishments and stamps with a camera & an old film theme, together with lots of different sized stars.  These also conveniently tied in with my youngest son's magician costume (right) which also featured stars on it. 

I've quite enjoyed the process of making this calendar and seeing these old pictures again. I still can't believe how quickly the time has gone as these 'little boys' are now 14 and nearly 12. To me it only seems like yesterday that they were wearing these outfits, not 10 years, aaah!

Thanks for stopping by today, I will have more to show you soon,
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Friday, 21 February 2014

Crafty Birthday Gifts including Brusho

It was my birthday on Wednesday and rather than my husband get me things I didn't want, I steered him in the direction of my Amazon wishlist.  I like the idea of this because by using a simple browser add-on I can add items to my list  from all over the web, not just Amazon.  Most of  the gazillion items I have on my list are craft items and art technique books which is quite a minefield when you don't know the difference between a hot glue and an ATG gun. 

This was one of the great items I had seen on my internet travels and really fancied the look of:

Colourcraft Brusho paints and DVD

Thanks go to my husband for the paints and my sister, who bought the DVD from off my wishlist.  It's a great DVD, presented by Joanne Boon Thomas showing lots of great techniques you can do with Brusho.  You can see a preview of one of them on youtube here.  
Another item I had seen on a Donna Downey video was a 'Fresh Water Rinse Well.' This isn't one of life's essentials, but when your craft room is up in the attic and the route to your water supply is down some rickety stairs, it sure makes life easier!  Besides, what are birthdays for, if you can't have the odd frivolous luxury item?  What it does is clear away your old painting water and replace it with clean:
 Brilliant!.. and the gurgling sound you get with the fresh water is an additional bonus. 
I spent my birthday afternoon playing with these new 'toys' and I was absolutely in my element. The first thing I did was to make myself a colour swatch page of the 24 Brusho colours:
Brusho paints are highly pigmented powder paints that you add water to, like watercolours.  You only use a teeny tiny bit at a time so they will last for yonks.  I love vivid colours so was pleased to see they dry almost as bright as they are when they are wet. 

This, however, was the effect I saw that attracted me to them in the first place:
To do this you wet your page and then sprinkle on tiny specks of the paint.  The colours 'explode' onto the page and then blend into each other as you add more.  I'm thinking that they'll make great backgrounds for journal pages.

I also tried normal blending, using the colours like normal watercolour paints (my sons got me a paint pallette and brushes) and also did some flicking of the colours to make spots:
..which again will be useful for all kinds of backgrounds, cards, journal pages, etc.

All in all, I'm really pleased with these gifts and am itching to explore them more when I next get to do some more crafting.

Thanks for stopping by today and
have a great weekend,
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Friday, 14 February 2014

Last Minute Valentine Decoration Idea

Happy Valentine's Day for those of you that celebrate it.  My husband and I still do, in a way, but after 27 years of being together we don't get quite so into it as we did when we first met. 

I do like to make the odd valentine decoration though and this year I have made some simple little 'love' word decorations for around the house out of letters that I happened to have.

These are just a few:
Made from pieces from a word game called 'konexi'. 

This decoration was put by my husband's beside clock:
.made from an old Scrabble set

..and finally this one made from cookie cutters, put in the kitchen:
I also put some others around in the bathroom and in the lounge but I'm not sure that our 14 year and 11 year old boys are really going to appreciate them...

Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

How to Draw Cartoons Kit

I had a break from doing my mother-in-law's calendar to have a doodle-y play with a children's cartooning kit.
It was yet another bargain from a charity shop, a big tin (12x12") containing a sketch pad, a pencil, rubber and black liner pen, 8 brush pens and an instructional book on how to draw cartoons.  Not bad for just £1 and it originally came from Marks & Spencers. 

The quality of the kit was good and I had fun following the step-by-step instructions to make some fun animal cartoons:
The problem I had with it was the fact that the finished pictures in the step-by-step book had sophisticated blending and colouring:
Blending and splattering effect on this camel
..Yet they give you basic brush pens that would show every stroke:
I know, I know, its a kit for children and maybe they wouldn't appreciate the difference but when I did mine I just had to use my promarkers for a more sophisticated finish:
I haven't really got any reason to complain about this problem especially as (a) it only cost me £1 after all and (b) as I said before it is meant just for children but...just saying....!

Thanks for looking today,
See you again soon for some more arty craftiness,
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

Friday, 7 February 2014

Personalised Calendar

Last November I was delighted to find in a charity shop a calendar that you can personalise for just 99 pence.  I thought it would make a great extra christmas present for my mother-in-law, my boys' nanny, if I put lots of pictures of her grandchildren throughout the years in it.  Unfortunately it turned out it was only the bare bones of the calendar so didn't include all the coloured papers and embelishments that would have been in the kit if it was complete, so no wonder it only cost 99 pence!  Never mind, I would do my own thing using what I have in my stash and that is what I did.  

I must admit I did craft it at the very last minute before christmas (these things take longer than you think) and even though it was acceptable enough, I didn't like it.  So, after asking her permission, I asked to have it back so that I could improve it.  She agreed to this and as she has now taken a holiday to the Phillipines this month (in glorious sunshine!) it is the perfect time to finish it off.

This is January's page, I didn't alter this much, just drew lines around the photos and tweaked the snowflake embelishments.

February's page I changed quite a lot:
The original photos had printed with a purple tint so they had to be replaced and then I simply added lots of heart and valentine themed collage elements.  Some parts of the layout were on the page before, like the 'I love you' hearts down the side.

March's page I also changed and really went to town with the scribble clouds and washi tape.  The weather is just like this now!
For April, I added lots more easter eggs and washi tape and some stamps of chickens, which I coloured.
The 'Happy Easter Day' title was already printed on the page.
I haven't redone May's page yet but I changed June's as you can see here:
...and After:
I got quite carried away with my circle stamps and then added some more orange with a neocolor II crayon & waterbrush.  

If this calendar was for me I wouldn't be able to resist grunging it up because that is my style, but my mother-in-law has very conventional, conservative taste, so I must resist the urge!

With the weather here being the way it is (see March's page), it looks like I'll be stopping in and getting on with it until it's finished. I do hope my mother-in-law still likes it!

Thanks for looking today, back soon for more calendar artiness,
Nicky {Creative Flourishes}

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