Tuesday, January 29, 2019

2019 Organized Craft Room Challenge #5 ~ Stickers, die cuts, and rub-ons

How did you make out on Challenge #4?

I hate to admit it but I still haven't come up with the solution to my tool storage woes.  Please post your photos to our Facebook group.  Hopefully I will be able to gain inspiration from you.

Once I solve Challenge #4 I will be ready to tackle Challenge #5.  Stickers, etc. are another great challenge to me.  I have yet to find my perfect storage solution so once again I will be seeking inspiration from you.

Stickers, die cuts, and rub-ons are some of the hardest things to organize because the different sizes and shapes pose many challenges. Rub-ons present their own challenges because if they aren't stored properly, they stick to each other and then they are useless.

SORT: time to be ruthless. Consider if you are really going to use these items. If you bought a whole sheet of die cuts just to use one or two tags, why are you hanging on to the whole sheet? Those stickers you bought in 1999 were adorable then, but definitely not your style now, are they? So, sort into piles: TRASH, SELL, DONATE, TO KEEP

PURGE: Throw out the TRASH pile. Bag up, and assign a price and your initials to the SELL pile and put them directly into the garage sale box. Make immediate arrangements to rid yourself of the DONATE items. 

ASSIGN: The KEEP items need to be divided into categories that make sense to you: by colour, by manufacturer, theme, size, or type.

CONTAINERIZE: Here is an article about storing stickers, die cuts and rub-ons: http://www.simplyorganized.me/2011/12/scrapbook-organization-stickers.html

EQUALIZE: take a few minutes at the end of each scrap session, and whenever you return from a crop or a shopping trip to put your stickers, rub-ons and die cuts where they belong.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Oven Fried Chicken Thighs

Image result for oven fried chicken thighs

4 large even chicken thighs
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp half-and-half
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup potato flakes
1 tsp garlic salt
3 tbsp melted butter
1 tbsp oil

Wash chicken thighs, pat dry.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat egg and half-and-half.

In another bowl, combine the bread crumbs, the potato flakes and the garlic salt.

Dip chicken thighs in egg mixture; then roll thighs in crumb mixture.  Place chicken thighs on a baking pan.  Sprinkle with melted butter and oil.

Bake at 400F for about 35 minutes.  Increase temperature to 450F.  Bake for another 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness of thighs, until chicken is tender and done to your liking.  Juices should run clear when pierced with a fork.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Rutabaga and Potato Gratin with Oregano

Quantity : 2 servings
Preparation : 20 min Cooking : 30 min

1 potatoes, sliced into 1 cm pieces 200 g
2 rutabagas, sliced into 1 cm pieces 300 g
1 leeks, cut into 0,5 cm pieces 300 g
1/2 tbsp olive oil 8 mL
1/2 tbsp butter, unsalted 7 g
2 bocconcini / fresh mozzarella, diced 110 g
1 tsp dried oregano 1 g
1 pinch salt [optional] 0.2 g
ground pepper to taste [optional]


Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF.
Prepare the vegetables : Peel the potatoes and rutabagas (or turnips), then cut them into 1 cm-thick slices. Wash the leeks well, remove and discard about ¼ of the dark-green part, then cut them into 0,5 cm-thick pieces. Dice the bocconcini into coarse pieces then set them aside.
Heat the butter and oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add the leeks and sauté 3-4 min, with frequent stirring, until they become translucent. Add the other vegetables, then cook 10 min, with occasional stirring, until they become lightly golden-coloured. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer the vegetables to an oven-proof dish. Add the bocconcini pieces on top and sprinkle with the oregano.
Bake in the middle of the oven 20-25 min until the vegetables are tender and the cheese has formed a nice golden crust. Serve.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Orange Salad a la Monica

When I read the ingredients for this salad I nearly didn't make it . . . but I'm the kind of gal who will try anything once. I'm really glad I did.  I used blood oranges.

Quantity : 2 servings
Preparation : 10 min Standing : 30 min
150 calories/serving

2 oranges 360 g
1 green onions/scallions
10 black olives 4 tbsp
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 15 mL
1/4 dried chili peppers, minced 0.1 g
1/2 tbsp Italian parsley, fresh, chopped 3 g
1 pinch salt [optional] 0.2 g
ground pepper to taste [optional]


Peel the oranges with a sharp knife, removing all the white pith from the flesh and saving the juice, if any. Cut the oranges into 7-8 mm rounds. Thinly slice the green onions. Arrange the orange rounds with the onions and olives on a platter.
In a small bowl, mix the extra virgin olive oil, reserved orange juice, minced chili pepper, salt, and pepper to taste. Pour over the salad.
Allow to stand for at least 30 min before sprinkling with the chopped parsley, then serve.

2019 Craft Room Organization Challenge #4 ~ Tools & Adhesives

I've done the photo challenge so many times over the years and developed a system that works well for me. I always upload my photos to my favourite photo processing site as I go along but I wait for a sale and then order them to be printed. As soon as I pick them up from the store I pop them right into page kits. All done.

How did you decide to sort and store your photos?

If you are ready, here is Challenge #4 . . .

Tools & Adhesives

Gather together all of your tools and adhesives into a box and let's start S.P.A.C.E.ing them!

Sort: one by one, put each item into piles: FAVOURITES, TRASH, TO SELL, STORE, DONATE.

Purge: For the SELL pile: bag up and assign a price and your initials to tools/adhesives that you don't love/use anymore and put them in your garage sale box. Throw out the TRASH pile. Arrange pick-up or drop-off of the DONATE pile.

Assign: Store your most used items in a basket or box or other system right on your desk, within easy reach. Divide the STORE items into categories that make sense to you: cutting tools, pens, punches, templates, etc.

Containerize: This is the time to tidy up your tools. Tools need regular maintenance to keep them efficiently working. As you put your tools away in whatever container (drawers, shelves, boxes, baskets - always ensuring the container is clearly labelled) give them a little maintenance.

scissors - sharpen your scissors using a small scissor sharpener, or have them professionally done. Carefully clean the blades (I like alcohol swabs to remove sticky adhesive).

pens - test pens and throw out the ones that are dry or don't work well.

craft knives - change the blades.

trimmers - clean the deck of your trimmers with a damp cloth, and a little cleanser if necessary. Replace dull blades, or cut through fine sandpaper or aluminium foil.

work surface - clean ink, adhesive and paint from your self-healing mats.

punches - to prevent punches from sticking, punch through wax paper. Problem punches may need a little lubricating oil such as sewing machine oil, then punch through scrap paper several times to remove oily residue. Dull punches can be sharpened by punching through aluminium foil or fine grade sandpaper (both right side up and upside down).

rubber stamps - stamps should be cleaned after each use, but if there is a build up of ink on your stamps, you should clean them with an alcohol free baby wipe, or paper towels moistened with a mild cleanser (ammonia free/bleach free) Use a soft toothbrush to remove ink stuck in the crevices of a design. Store stamps flat, rubber side down.

Equalize: Once you have a system in place for you tools, putting them back in the same place every time will become a reflex, and you will never have to hunt for you scissors again! Take a couple of minutes at the end of each scrap session to put your tools away.

Rolled Sole Fillets with a Tomato Sauce

Quantity : 2 servings
Preparation : 20 min Cooking : 15 min
290 calories/serving


3 tbsp olive oil, plus some extra to drizzle on the fish rolls 45 mL
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp white wine [optional] 30 mL
1/2 cup canned tomatoes (diced) 130 g
1 pinch salt [optional] 0.2 g
ground pepper to taste [optional]
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped 8 g
2 tbsp Italian parsley, fresh, finely chopped 10 g
2 tsp olive paste 10 g
2 sole fillets 300 g

Before you start

Keep the serving plates warm on the stove while you're preparing the dish.


Preheat the oven to 205°C/400°F.
Heat half of the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté, with stirring, 1-2 min, until it softens and becomes fragrant. Pour in the wine (optional), bring to a boil and cook until it has reduced by half, about 1-2 min. Add the tomatoes and gently simmer until they have thickened, 5-6 min. Season with a little salt and pepper (anchovies and olive paste are salty). Transfer the sauce to a baking dish.
Finely chop the anchovies and parsley, then add them to a small bowl. Add the olive paste and remaining oil, then mix well. Lay the sole fillets flat, skin side (light grey-coloured) down on a working surface. Season the fish with pepper. Divide the prepared filling among the fillets and spread evenly. Beginning at the narrow end, roll up each fillet.
Arrange the fish rolls, seam side down, on the tomato sauce in the baking dish. Drizzle each roll with the a little olive oil and bake, uncovered, in the middle of the oven, until the fish is just cooked through, about 15 min. Since the cooking time depends on the thickness of the fillets and the actual temperature of your oven, it is important to check them with a fork to see if they are cooked through.
Place the fillets on the warmed plates, spoon the sauce on top and serve immediately.

Carrots and Leeks with Fresh Mint


Quantity : 2 servings
Preparation : 10 min Cooking : 50 min

2 carrots, cut into 1 cm rounds 200 g
1 leeks, cut into 2 cm pieces 300 g
2 tbsp olive oil 35 mL
1/2 tbsp gingerroot, grated 7 g
2 tbsp fresh mint 6 g
1 pinch salt [optional] 0.2 g
ground pepper to taste [optional]


Preheat the oven to 195°C/375°F.
Prepare the carrots and cut them into rounds about 1 cm thick. Prepare the leeks, remove about ¼ of the dark-green part, and cut them into 2 cm pieces.
Transfer the vegetables to a baking sheet or dish (do not choose one that is too large, since the vegetables will reduce considerably in size while cooking). Add the oil, minced ginger, salt and pepper. Mix well to coat thoroughly with oil, then put in the oven and bake about 35 min.
Finely chop half of the mint leaves then add them to the dish, mix and continue baking for about 15 min more. Garnish with the remaining mint leaves and serve.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2019 Craft Room Organization Challenge #3 ~ Photos

Challenge #3

So, your paper is beautifully organized, your scraps carefully stashed or purged, and your desk is gleaming! I've posted my photos in our Facebook group.  

For Challenge #2 I decided to sort out more themes from my paper pile . . . Travel, Wedding, and Black & White. And that is done.

My patterned papers and cardstocks are the basis for my page kits. Photos, ephemera, embellishments, sketch ideas are added to the page kits so when I get a chance to scrapbook I am ready to go.

Even the photos are in many of the kits, ready to scrap.

You are starting to become organized. Doesn't it make you feel creative? Don't you want to get cropping? Well, you CAN'T scrapbook without PHOTOS!

Our third challenge is to organize our photos. Here is an excellent article to get you thinking about how to organize those precious photos before we S.P.A.C.E. them:


SORT: Gather together all of your photos, and sort them into categories that make sense: TRASH (it's okay to throw out photos with bad colour, expression, composition. Why keep them? You're not going to scrapbook them) TO SCRAPBOOK (the shots you know you are going to use) TO STORE (photos that need to be kept, but aren't necessarily going to be going into your scrapbooks) TO GIVE AWAY (doubles that you want to send to friends and family)

PURGE: Throw out the TRASH pile. Put the TO GIVE AWAY photos in envelopes and mail them to friends/family, or put them in your car so you can drop them off the next time you visit. Do not leave them in your studio, or they will creep back into your organized space.

ASSIGN: Sort the final two groups of photos into a system that makes sense to you:


CONTAINERIZE: Now it's time to decide how you want to store your photos. Perhaps you want to put your TO STORE photos in acid free envelopes or albums. Perhaps you want to put your TO SCRAPBOOK photos into photo storage boxes, or accordion folders.  Just decide and do it.

EQUALIZE: Next time you get new photos from the photo processor, spend a couple of minutes and put the photos where they belong: throw out the bad shots, give away the extras, put the keepers away in their album, and sort your photos for scrapbooking into their container.

I actually get to take this week off because I just finished organizing a huge batch of photos I'd recently had printed.  All are in page kits, just waiting for me to find the time to scrapbook them.  But, I will still be available to cheer you on, offer advice, and see all your "done" photos posted to our Facebook group.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

2019 Craft Room Organization Challenge ~ What about my finished layouts?

Image result for pile of scrapbook paper

An interesting discussion on our Facebook group yesterday.  A few of us have been doing the challenge every year since forever so, while we are still interested in going through the various organization challenges, we are also interested in things that might get missed in the process.

Finished layouts are something we've never included in our challenges . . . until now.  Even if you don't have albums available or if your layouts are randomly done and not chronological, you still need to protect your finished layouts.  I'm not the only one who has noticed that improperly stored layouts are prone to damage and missing pieces.

I suggest storing your layouts in pizza boxes, iris cases or some other safe environment where they won't be constantly handled and damaged . . . until it is time to put them in an album.

So Challenge #2A is to find a safe way to store finished layouts.

2019 Craft Space Organizational Challenge #2 ~ Paper

How did you make out on the first challenge?  It's not too late to share your photos.  Doesn't it feel great to start the new year with a clean work surface?

Let's move on to the next challenge . . . 

Challenge #2

 Image result for piles of scrapbooking paper

Did you know that a 1” high stack of patterned paper equals as many as 250 sheets of patterned paper?  That’s a lot of paper.

Here is this week's challenge:

Your challenge this week is to 
S.P.A.C.E. your paper - - and I mean ALL of your paper: cardstock, patterned paper, specialty papers, and all those SCRAPS!

SORT: Bring all of your paper to one area. Sort it all into piles: KEEP, SELL, DONATE, TRASH

PURGE: bag up, and assign a price to paper bundles that you want to SELL at a garage sale or online, and put the bags in the garage sale box. Throw out the TRASH pile. Bag up the DONATE pile and immediately make arrangements for drop-off/pick-up or put in your vehicle.

ASSIGN: separate your paper into categories that make sense to you. For example, you may want to divide it simply into cardstock and patterned paper. If you have a huge stash of paper, you may want to divide it by colour, theme, or manufacturer.

I have separated out Christmas and sports papers in their own containers but I’m thinking this year of separating out a few more categories such as birthday, wedding, and travel.  That will be my project this week.

Another way to sort your paper is in page kits. Package matching patterned papers in a zip lock or similar bag, add matching cardstocks and embellishments to create kits.  Most of my patterned papers and embellishments are sorted in this way.  If/when the opportunity for some scrappin’ time presents, I just have to grab my tool pouch and a kit and I’m ready to go.

CONTAINERIZE: store your paper in a way that makes sense to you:

- vertical paper holders
- hanging vertical file folders
- wire cubes
- paper trays
- paper organizers
- bookcases with adjustable shelves

Click here to see lots of different storage ideas.

I use vertical paper holders for my cardstocks (which I personally feel I do not have enough of), hanging file folders for my scrap papers, and banker boxes for my page kits.

EQUALIZE: each time you finish a scrap session, return from a crop, or bring home new papers, spend a few minutes putting your paper away where it belongs.

We have started a Facebook group as a place for us to share photos, accomplishments, encouragement, tips and tricks as we work through the 2019 Craft Space Organization Challenge.  You are welcome to post before and after photos of any or all of the challenges.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 Craft Space Organization Challenge ~ Day-dreaming

Why do we come up with cute names for our workspace? Several years ago I realized the only thing holding me back was me. How could anyone take me serious? After all, I’m only a scrapbooker. A scrapbooker who has been developing her talent for over 20 years, who has taught others, who has written books . . . so why wasn’t I taking my skill seriously?

And then I did. I started ordering my business cards with my name and title, Paper Artist and Blogger. And my crop room became my studio. I may never become rich or famous but that doesn’t change the fact that I am an artist and what I create is very serious and very important to me.

Organizing your creative space should be taken seriously too. Constant clutter will block your creative energy and keep you from doing your best work.

So it is time to do a little day dreaming. What would your perfect studio look like? How would you improve what you currently work in? Start jotting down ideas and making sketches. Go through some magazines looking for ideas you think would be perfect for you. What do you need in your creative space to make you enthusiastic and and yet content?

I live in a building where we are not supposed to paint the walls. Yep, six rooms of beige. So I hang up art . . . only things that make me happy or give me happy memories. I have two Clark McDougal prints that bring me joy every time I look at them. My solution to the boring walls is art.

Image result for Ann's Snack Bar Clark McDougall

Look for your problem areas. Think of ways you can solve the problems. Take notes. Make sketches. Don’t think about costs yet. Don’t buy anything yet. That comes later if at all. Just dream . . .

Crocheting Finish for Dec 2018

Over a year ago my grandmother gave me a package with some crocheted squares and a pattern book and asked me if I would finish off the project.  It has taken quite a while . . . but . . . my new Cathedral Window tablecloth had place of honour on my dining room table over Christmas.

Art Journal Finishes in December 2018

2019 Craft Space Organization Challenge ~ Challenge #1

Challenge #1

The first challenge is to clear off your crafting work space. Maybe you have a desk committed as your craft space, maybe you have an entire room, or maybe you have taken over the dining room table. Wherever you craft, completely clear off the entire surface of your work space, dumping everything into a big box. Give your surface a good scrub and polish, removing every speck of paint, adhesive, and uh.... is that chocolate???? 

Image result for cleaning supplies

Take a photo of your newly scrubbed craft space and upload it to your blog or other online sharing site and send the link to ouFacebook group.  Or if you like to keep things simple just post your photos directly to our group album.   

Okay, now let's get to work on that big box of stuff. 

Image result for box full of stuff

Now is the time to learn that you need S.P.A.C.E. to craft:

S ort 
P urge 
A ssign 
C ontainerize 
E qualize 

We're going to use this method for each and every challenge of the Organization Challenge. 

So, let's go over this method:

SORT: Going object by object, divide everything in the big box into categories that make sense to you. 

You may want to have some baskets laid out and labelled:

(for stuff you want to keep but doesn't belong on or in your desk/work surface), 
(for items that sneak their way into your craft space but belong elsewhere in the house), and
(for items that you want to keep in or on your desk).

1) Throw out everything in the TRASH pile - all the ripped, broken, dried up, crumpled STUFF. 
2) Bag up and assign a price and your initials to everything in the SELL pile, and put in your sale box. 
3) Call the person who could use the DONATE pile, and immediately set up a time to drop off, bag it up, and hang on the door knob so it doesn't sneak back into your studio area. 4) Put the NOT IN HERE stuff where it belongs (I'd make the kids do it.  It's probably their junk anyway)

You have a couple of options here for your STORAGE pile: put the stuff aside to be organized when we work on other areas, or (and I strongly suggest this alternative) put the items away where they belong using your current organization system.

Sort all of your ACTION items into the appropriate drawer, container, and boxes. Containerizing gives you a chance to make everything pretty and inspirational to you. You may need to make a shopping trip to purchases containers that you love to look at, are sturdy enough to withstand repeated openings and closings, and are the right size. Make a list and take measurements. Label everything.

Each time you finish a crafting session, return from a crop, or bring home new supplies, spend a few minutes putting everything away where it belongs.

The next challenge will be posted on September 8, 2019.

2019 Craft Space Organization Challenge ~ Introduction

Welcome to our annual Craft Space Organization Challenge . . . 

Image result for really messy craft room
No, this is not my studio . . . LOL

Getting organized is probably the biggest trend for 2019. 

It's a New Year so I know everyone is anxious to get their craft space in order, and as a result get more accomplished and get more enjoyment out of their crafting time. 

The information in these challenges can help both new and veteran scrapbookers to get organized.  

It doesn't matter if you are starting a new craft room or you need to dig out from one you don’t recognize anymore, you are not alone.  

It doesn’t matter if your space is a room, the kitchen table, a designated part of a room, or a closet.  

These challenges were originally set up for scrapbookers but they work quite well for just about any type of crafter which is a good thing for me.  My studio is set up for my paper crafting, quilting, stamp collection, letterboxing, knitting and crochet, writing, my hubby's leatherworking, genealogy, and cross stitch and tapestry.  

Would you like to win a prize valued at over $20?

Image result for prize

Well then, what I want you to do right NOW is take a photo of your scrap zone.  No . . . leave the dirty coffee cup where it is. Yes, I know you let your cat sleep on your keyboard.  Do not touch ANYTHING.  Just take the brutally honest photo of your craft space and upload it to your blog or other online sharing site and send the link to our Facebook group.  Or if you like to keep things simple just send your photos directly to our group.  A random winner will be drawn on January 8, 2019

Here are my before photos:

Come on!! You can do it!! No shame here . . . just hope. If I can get MY MESS fixed, ANYONE can.  Just follow the ten challenges I'll be posting over the next 10 weeks. 

There will be TWO more blog posts from me today.  Stay tuned.

Challenge #1