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28 May

Craft Room Organization Details

cafft room organization

details header


NOW THAT YOU’VE HAD a quick tour around my craft room studio, here are some details that might help you come up with ideas of your own. You don’t have to go into debt organizing. The goal is to organize, after all. Let your supplies do the decorating, and recycle when you can. When you have the money is the time to do the matchy-matchy thing (which I so want to do!).

First is my scissors collection. I have a slew of scissors, and I keep them handy beside my sewing machine and work table by using a basket made to hold mail. It’s attached by velcro to the edge of a set of shelves, and the scissors are ready at hand when I need them.

juice can

scissorsNext is my collections of paintbrushes, colored pencils, markers, and pens and pencils. The brushes are in a frozen orange juice container, because I liked the picture on it. The colored pencils are in a wire cup made to hold toothbrushes, the markers are in a glass mason mug, and the pencils and pens are in an old coffee cup. It all works and is an interesting mix of textures and colors.

While talking about textures and colors, here are a couple of shots of my inspiration board. The owl is a pillow case I designed and had printed at Spoonflower.com. Underneath you can see part of some of the fabrics I’ve designed and printed there. If you haven’t been to Spoonflower and you’re a creative (which you obviously are if you’re reading this blog), then you’re missing the boat. Go over there! (You can wait until you finish reading this post, though.)

inspiration2 inspiration1






Next is part of my yarn collection. I’ve just used cans and containers that had tops on them, which I poked a hole in and pulled the yarn through so it feeds untangled and the ball of yarn doesn’t roll away. The containers are covered with scrapbook paper for a better look. (Someday I’ll make them coordinate, too!) Easy peasy!

Last today is my string. I use string for a variety of purposes, from tying the neck on my dolls to stringing my fabric design swatches to make banners (more on that in the next post). The spools are lined up on a shelf where I can easily see them as well as grab them when needed.  Another super simple organization task. Remember, it’s all in the details!

yarn string

26 May

Craft Room Organization

craft room organization

article headerMy craft room—yes, an entire room!—is a disaster. I’m in desperate need of some quality organizing, and I have no one to do it but me. So I will. Here are some before pictures after I pulled everything out and stacked it everywhere. In the bathtub, on the floor, on the countertop in the bathroom, on every horizontal surface, everywhere! So you can see the horrendous mess that I have to contend with. But after 3-1/2 hours today just pulling stuff out and starting to go through all the boxes and baskets, I can see some progress. I’m going through every box, every basket, every drawer, every shelf… leaving nothing unturned. I don’t care how long it takes, but expect to spend some long hours this long weekend making hay while the sun shines (actually, it’s pouring down rain right now).

I started with the walk-in closet, because that was where everything was hoarded. Yes, I admit it, when it comes to craft stuff, I’m definitely a hoarder. And the main problem with it is that I have no idea what I actually have, so when I start a new project I often go buy what I need without realizing that I probably already have what I need stashed away somewhere. But where? I have no idea. Just yesterday I bought a roll of contact paper to make a stencil for a sign, and then this morning I found a roll of contact paper in that closet. Oh, well, you can never really have enough contact paper, yes? (I just wish I had bought some patterned instead of clear, as I also found some nice boxes I need to cover for some storage.)

So I’ll take pictures after each day’s work and continue until the room is completely organized, and I’ll post them here, and when it’s all done, then I’ll post this article.

Here’s the starting picture, after I pulled everything out of the closet. The third one is a picture of the bathtub, which is where I temporarily stashed a bunch of stuff. I think you can get the idea.

messmess2mess4 mess3Then I went through every box, every drawer, every shelf and sorted and refolded and threw away… again, you get the idea. Here’s what it looked like when I was done. It’s nothing fancy, but its organized and I have room to craft and that’s what’s important right now.

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All organized. I actually know where everything is, and what I’ve got. Now to design projects that use it!

Pencils and pens in one container, markers in another, sewing tools in a third, shelves and drawers used for folded fabric, plus see-through boxes. A place for everything and everything in its place. In my next post, I’ll highlight some of the storage solutions I came up with, for little or no money. Cause we can all use an extra buck, right? Baskets and boxes are among my favorite things.

(The bed is because my studio doubles as a guest room. For awhile, we called it the “guess” room!)2015-05-24 14.15.44

bed cutter dresser etagere shelves treetable

As you can see in the sewing table picture, if you look at the rulers, there is a big sag in the table. My son is making me a new table, and when he does, I’ll paint all the furniture and recover the chairs. Meanwhile, this is fine!

22 May

Kids and Horses: A Great Combination

Kids and Horses: A Great Combination

Kids and Horses: A Great Combination

If there’s one combination I am absolutely sure works, it’s kids and horses.

I remember being a young child and wanting to learn all I could about horses, but there was no one to teach me. Then my parents hired some teenaged sisters to babysit who had horses, and by the time I was ten or twelve I was visiting their ranch and learning all I could wish to know about those fantastic creatures. These were the Taylor sisters, and by the time I was old enough to get my first horse, they were busy raising beautiful Arabian horses at their GaFla Arabians horse ranch. I determined that when I was older, I would teach any child who wanted to learn as much about horses as I knew, and through the years, that knowledge grew.

Kids—girls especially—love horses.

A beautiful horse, his mane tossing in the wind, is the stuff of dreams. They imagine themselves riding bareback across an open field, the connection with the horse nothing short of miraculous. Of course, the reality is a lot different.

I once had the privilege of helping to design a program for youth at risk using horses as the vehicle to help them. We picked the kids up from school and brought them to the ranch where we began to teach them about horses. None of them were at all familiar with horses—without exception— and all were a bit intimidated by the horses’ size. As well they might be, since the horses outweighed the kids by more that twelve to one!

These kids were on the brink of becoming part of the juvenile system, and this program was their last chance. They were referred by the juvenile justice division of the local courts, and many of them came with hard exteriors but terribly wounded interiors. No one believed in them. Everyone expected them to fail, so fail they did. We determined that this program would be one where they succeeded.

The very first thing we taught them to do, after how to properly approach a horse, was to clean their back feet. It was the most intimidating task, because the kids had to trust the horse to patiently lift his feet and not kick while the child was underneath those powerful legs. Some kids took a lot of coaxing at first, but every single one managed to clean the hooves on the very first day. There was a lot of excitement when they realized that they had control over something in their lives, and something so big and powerful. This was the first time in some of those kids’ lives that they actually felt in control.

We went on from there to teach them how to groom and handle the horses, and eventually how to ride them. The funny thing was, many of the kids enjoyed grooming the horses even more than riding. There is something soothing about brushing a horse’s coat and combing out the mane and tail. And these kids really needed the break from their internal chaos!

When my middle daughter was about nine, we bought her a Western Pleasure show horse, which she rode and showed for several years. Eventually, though, she outgrew the horse’s abilities and needed a new horse. Because the mare was aged, we didn’t want to sell her to just anybody, so for several months, she stood in our pasture. Finally, our daughter told us she wanted to donate her to a riding for the handicapped group near us. That turned out to be the best possible match for the horse. She was treated gently and carefully and was able to help people who were challenged physically, mentally, emotionally, and developmentally. In fact, two autistic teenaged boys who had never spoken began talking first to the horse. We were so glad we made the decision to donate her!

As my children grew up, we involved them in 4H and United States Pony Club events, showing and competing in fun and rewarding times. I was a leader in both groups, so I stayed very engaged. They learned so much, not just about horses, but about sportsmanship, working as a team, and competing with oneself to improve personal bests. They formed lasting relationships, some of which they are still involved with today, many years later.

Kids and Horses: A Great Combination

Owning a horse is a great deal of responsibility as well as fun.

Horses have to be fed and cared for every day, not just when it’s sunny and warm. Feeding happens in the rain and in the cold, too. Shoeing is necessary, grooming, and veterinary care, and it is best to have the child assist in those activities as much as he is capable of. The most rewarding part of horse ownership is not necessarily riding the horse.

As my children gained skills, they were able to help me out in my riding business. We had nine horses and about thirty students, some of them handicapped. Walking alongside a handicapped rider was so rewarding when a child locked in an unresponsive body smiled. They also became so proficient that soon they were teaching their own students and training their own horses.

We never had problems with our kids getting involved with drugs, alcohol, or breaking the law. They were polite, responsible, and able to communicate appropriately with any age person. This, I believe, while not entirely because of horses, was aided by their involvement with them.

We gave up a lot to have our kids involved. There was no leaving town for the weekend or sleeping in on weekends. We didn’t have some of the things that other families did, because horses are expensive and take a lot of time. But if I had it all to do over again, I’d do it the same way.

09 May

First Aid For Pets: Be Ready For Emergencies!

First Aid For Pets: Be Ready For Emergencies!

First Aid For Pets: Be Ready For Emergencies!
What do you do when your pet needs emergency care?

Although you usually can’t anticipate when your pet will need emergency first aid care, you can be ready nonetheless. What you need is a good general understanding of pet first aid. Of course, it isn’t a substitute for veterinary care, but what you do in an emergency may very well save your pet’s life until you can get him to a veterinarian’s office.

How to handle an injured pet.

The first thing to know is that when your pet is injured, even the most docile pet may bite. Take care that you do not get bitten! Here are important steps to handle your pet when he is injured.

  1. Remain calm. An excited owner will only exacerbate the pet’s anxiety.
  2. If the injury or illness appears to be life threatening, take your pet to the veterinarian’s office immediately.
  3. Approach injured pets cautiously. Injury or illness can cause your pet to behave differently than he normally does, and this behavior can cause further injury to the pet or injury to you.
  4. Call your veterinarian for advice and instructions.
  5. Do not tie or tape your pet’s mouth shut! This can cause the animal to be unable to breathe. If the pet is not vomiting, having difficulty breathing, or bleeding from the mouth, a muzzle can be used to prevent biting. Use it with care!
  6. If possible, confine your pet to a crate in your vehicle, or to a small space if not.

injured-yellow-lab-dog-cone-12345877What to do in an emergency.

If your pet is bleeding, apply direct pressure to the affected area. A bandage might temporarily control bleeding.

If you think your animal has broken a bone, gently support the area, but be cautious; pain may cause your pet to bite.

If your pet is suffering from heat-stroke or exhaustion, cover it with a cool, wet towel and immediately get it to the vet hospital.

If your animal is suffering from cold exposure (hypothermia), cover it with a warm blanket and transport it to the nearest vet hospital.

Insect bites and stings can cause anaphylactic shock, which can lead to death. Get to the nearest veterinarian as quickly as possible.

If your animal has ingested something you think might be poisonous, call your vet and follow his instructions.

If your pet is having a seizure, leave it alone until the episode subsides. Remove anything from the area that might cause injury to the pet, and make note of the duration of the seizure.

If your pet is unconscious, attempt to clear the airway by sweeping a finger through the back of the mouth.

Use a towel or blanket as a stretcher and to keep the animal warm (or cool, see above) on the way to the vet.

Basic first aid supplies.

  • Phone numbers for your vet, a 24-hour or after-hours emergency vet clinic, and animal poison control center.
  • Current medical and vaccine history
  • Current list of the pet’s medications, if any
  • Gauze
  • Nonstick bandages
  • adhesive tape for bandages
  • Clean towel
  • Blanket
  • Tweezers
  • Gloves
  • Digital thermometer for rectal use
  • Scissors

05 May

Vaccines for Dogs: Be Kind to Animals Week

Vaccines for Dogs: Be Kind to Animals Week

Vaccines for Dogs: Be Kind to Animals Week
We are fortunate to live in a day when veterinary care is better than it has ever been.

Preventive care helps keep our pets healthy and makes their lifespans longer, so we can enjoy their companionship that much longer.

One of the most important aspects of preventive care is a regular schedule of vaccines for dogs. Your dog’s particular protocol is best determined by you and your veterinarian together. Some of the considerations that make this determination are the dog’s age and breed, his overall health, and his lifestyle. Do you travel with him? Does she play at public dog parks? Do you live on a farm or in the city? Are there opportunities for your dog to come in close contact with wild animals? These and other questions may be asked by your vet when determining what is the best vaccine protocol for your four-footed buddy.

States each have their own requirements when it comes to vaccines. Nearly all have some sort of requirement for the rabies vaccine, but some prescribe it yearly while others only once every three years. Your veterinarian will know what your state requires.

What are vaccines?

Vaccines contain antigens, which are properties that look like the disease to the dog’s immune system, but do not actually cause the disease. What they do is make the immune system recognize them as foreign invaders, which causes antibodies to be developed. Then, when the disease is encountered, the body already has its ammunition ready. It will either prevent the disease entirely, or at the least make it a milder case.

There is a core group of vaccines that most vets recommend for all dog’s over the age of sixteen weeks. These include canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies. Before the age of sixteen weeks, starting at six to eight weeks of age, a series of vaccines is given to puppies that includes a combination vaccine for parvovirus, hepatitis and distemper given in a series of three doses every three to four weeks, with the last dose at sixteen weeks. Many vets do not give rabies shots until the dog reaches four to six months of age.

Are there risks associated with vaccines?

Yes, as with all vaccines, those for animals have inherent risks, just like those given to humans do. The majority of risks are mild reactions, including soreness at the injection site, lethargy, fever, and sometimes hives or swelling. With any allergic reaction such as hives, it is wise to call your veterinarian immediately.


03 May

Red and White Puppy: A Tutorial by Susannah

red-and-white-puppy-titleMY GRANDDAUGHTER, who is almost 4, has a red and white puppy that I gave her when she was just an infant. At least it was red and white. Now it’s more just dingy grey and reddish grey. Anyway, we have attempted to find another puppy like it or to substitute another puppy so that we can at least wash the poor old thing, but she’ll hardly let go that long. He only goes in the washer and dryer when she’s asleep and doesn’t have him in a death-grip, which isn’t often. She often sleeps on top of him, and you couldn’t get him out from under her without waking her up, which would start something you don’t want to happen. Ever. Under any circumstances. Ever. Did I say ever?

red-and-white-puppy-1So I decided to make a new puppy for her that is as similar as I can make him, and to hope that she’ll like the new one as much as the old one. I clued her in that I was making her a new puppy and she promptly told me that okay, that was fine, but don’t think that means I can take away the old one. I told her that would never happen. (And in fact, I don’t want her to lose her old puppy. Just retire him!)

So as I go along making this new puppy, I’m going to let you see how I’m doing it. Maybe it will help you get a little one to make room in her heart for a new “bestie” and let go of her old “beastie”!










Sew the puppy from red and white faux fur. Sew body, limbs, ears, and tail using a sewing machine and strong, button thread. (Optionally, sew by hand.)

red-and-white-puppy-sewingSew eye patch on one side of the head, and then sew the two sides of the head together. Turn all pieces right side out.

Pierce the face where the eyes will be and insert eyes following manufacturer’s instructions.

Stuff head and body firmly. Stuff legs and arms lightly and do not stuff the ears or tail. Hand stitch everything in place.

For the nose, hand sew a circle of red fabric on end of dog’s face. Now you have a red and white puppy worth keeping—let’s just hope my granddaughter agrees!red-and-white-puppy-2