Monday, November 16, 2015

moments inked :: random acts of kindness

November always gives us a gentle nudge to be kinder, more grateful, and more thoughtful of what someone else might be experiencing...Friday the 13th was World Kindness Day; the 26th is Thanksgiving.  I've been recording 3 things I'm grateful for each day in my Papertrey Ink Moments Inked planner and now I'm motivated to take it a step further by paying it forward.  I have a lot to share today; a few RAKs, a little bit of packaging, what the diligent practice of mindfully being thankful every day has done for me, and even a fun way to upcycle those inspiring quote pages at the beginning of each month in the MI planner.  Read on!

I've tried to spend a little time each night preparing for the next day.  I like the way the pages in the MI planner are laid out and I've tried to use them as a guide for my daily tasks as much as I can.  Admittedly, I am not habitual about this, and sometimes, life throws curves at me, and my moments of reflection and preparation must be nixed in favor of a hectic workload, time with family, or much-needed sleep.  But the one part of the page that I am habitual about (and will even go back several days later to fill in) is the gratitude section.  I've heard from several sources that taking the time to write down 3 things you are grateful for each day makes a significantly positive impact on your life.  

So I've been trying it out.  When I received my planner in February, I noted that I would be using these pages every day and tracking my progress.  I will be honest and tell you that I was big-time slacking through July.  And it showed in my mood, motivation, and health.  How do I know?  Because I've been really good about keeping up with this portion (especially the Be Grateful part) since August and there's been a huge improvement.  I won't go into all the specifics, but I'm feeling better, more positive, and it has put a lot of things in perspective.  There were things I wasn't seeing--or didn't want to see--and things I wasn't doing, and I was spending a lot of time focusing on subjects that just weren't important.  When I started to use the page as a lifestyle guide, positive changes began to occur.  Thinking ahead about meal planning instead of ordering takeout because I was working until 6 and then had no clue what to have for dinner meant more of a variety and better nutrition for my family (and a lot less guilt for me).  It also meant dropping 15 pounds!  Looking ahead to the major tasks of the next day meant less time running around unhinged because I was no longer dropping the ball and forgetting important due dates and appointments.

(I won't make this sound like all you have to do is write a few things down in your journal and major life changes will fall into your lap, because that's not what happens.  This system doesn't work unless you do.  It does take mindful effort and thought, but the results are worth it.)

Another thing I've been thinking and making mental notes about is being kinder.  There is always someone worse off than you.  When you're having a bad day and nothing is going right and everyone is demanding your time, it's difficult to remember (or even care) that someone is battling a terminal disease, has just lost a loved one, or is living in a war-torn country far, far away from your own little world, and these issues you're facing today are minute in comparison to that.  This isn't a lecture--I, too, am guilty of forgetting the plights of others--it's simply a reminder.  When I started paying attention to the many reasons I had to be thankful instead of the few reasons I had to be angry and spiteful, my mindset changed and, soon after, so did my outlook on life.

That being said, the second part of this post is about paying it forward.  There are beautiful quotes at the beginning of each month in the MI planner and they are great reminders of these same feelings I've been having lately.  Let's show kindness instead of anger, love instead of hate, encouragement instead of spite.  You can show kindness in small ways--just being polite and saying thank you when someone holds the door for you is kindness in a small way.  Then when it's your turn, hold the door for someone else.  Doesn't it make you feel good when a complete stranger pays you a compliment or says hello with a smile?  Try doing the same for another person.  Small gestures, yet they mean so much and don't cost a thing.

Then again, sometimes it's nice to spend a few dollars on a friend who's going through a rough time.  A random act of kindness is a nice way to show you care.  With just a few supplies and framed MI quotes, I made meaningful gifts to pass on to friends.

The first gift is a 'just because you're my friend' present and is truly random.  I trimmed and framed July's quote about rising each morning and responding with love and kindness.  Next, I decorated a small muslin bag with some tassels and an Aqua Mist felt bow (made from the dies in the Beaded Holiday kit as seen in this post).  I made a small tag with the Divided die and stamped RAK on it.  You can find the RAK stamp in the Planner Banners stamp set.  I packed up some winter face balm (that I bought solely because of the gorgeous tin!) and together, they make a thoughtful, inexpensive gift for a dear friend.

The second set of gifties I put together was inspired by April's quote, and is random in the fact that the recipient will not be expecting it.  A friend of my mother-in-law is going through a difficult time and she is one of the kindest souls on earth.  The outlook embodied in this quote is so fitting for her, because I know that despite her current hardship, she is not feeling sorry for herself.  In her situation, I'm not sure I would be able to exhibit the same strength.  She is incredibly thoughtful and I'm hoping my small gesture will let her know that she, in turn, is thought of often.

I used the tiniest of tiny heart stamps to decorate a plain white bag, big enough to hold a gift card.  I stamped the heart repeatedly on the bag with Melon Berry ink and then added a few embellishments--tassels again, some gold trims, Melon Berry twill ribbon, and 2 banner die cuts.

I used the RAK stamp again here; the bitty heart is from the same set, Planner Banners.

You don't have to spend a lot of money or time to be a good friend or to work toward a positive lifestyle change.  Baby steps and small efforts are enough to get the ball rolling, but it does take commitment and a willingness to try.  Is it hard?  Sometimes, yes.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely!

Papertrey Ink Supplies used:
Moments Inked 2015 Memory Planner (planner and quotes)
Ink:   Melon Berry
Felt:  Aqua Mist

Thursday, November 5, 2015

gossamer blue :: november :: zebra wrap

Hello again!  I'm back today with another wrapped present using the Gossamer Blue November kits.  Gus went to a birthday party for a schoolmate recently and I needed to come up with some kid-friendly packaging.  Zebras anyone?

I happened to have just found the blue striped fabric remnant at the store last month and as I sorted through the Amy Tangerine die cuts from the Main Add-on kit, I came across the blue zebra.  It could not have been a more perfect find!  Because the patterns are bold, I went with a lot of white space and small pops of other colors.  The aqua is subtle and analogous to the darker blue, while the orange is warm and bright and compliments them both.

Since this gift is for a 5 year old, I didn't want it to be complicated to unwrap so I used plain white wrapping paper and just a small strip of the fabric with a length of silvery twine.  The card/tag is adhered to the front of the box with a couple glue dots.

Just because I was wrapping for a boy doesn't mean it has to be boring, though, right?  Simple embellishments like the H for his name, a cork tag, and those color pops will appeal to him, and to Gus, from whom I took a couple of my cues.  I had the orange tassel on my desk and he kept stopping by to admire and touch it so I thought, why not?  It happened to match the 'start here' Life Pages card and was the prompt I needed after the initial zebra theme was in my head.

His October birthday puts Gus in Transitional Kindergarten instead of regular Kindergarten in the state of California so all of his classmates have birthdays between September and December.  That makes for lots of birthday parties in a short amount of time, and lots of wrapping for this Mama!  (Luckily, that's my specialty :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

gossamer blue :: november :: sticker bags

Happy November!  It's a new month which means new kits from Gossamer Blue!  You can see the new kits in their shop and the gallery is open, too, so you can peruse the Design Team's gorgeous work with them.  This month, I've gone gift wrap crazy!  You'll notice this if you take a peek at the gallery; the only projects you'll see from me are pretty packaging techniques.  Gift wrapping plays a pretty big role at this time of year so I used that as an excuse to prepare various presents for friends, teachers, and family (and the occasional empty box!) with all sorts of different wrappings.

This has got to be the simplest wrap I've ever done, but I have to tell you that I love the way it turned out.  In the Main Add-on kit was a sheet of clear stickers from Amy Tangerine.  I will admit that while I always love the designs of clear stickers such as these, they are not my favorite things to work with.  They work great as photo overlays, but since I rarely use photos in my work, that use generally doesn't apply to me.  Using them on paper or card stock is great, but they're super-sticky (and clear) so if you have to re-position, you risk paper transfer which is quite visible.  So clear stickers aren't a product I've ever used too much.  Until now.

Now that I've discovered this technique, I will use them all the time!  I decided to try them out as a decoration for a muslin bag.  And it worked!  Because they're super-sticky and incredibly thin, they appear to be almost one with the bag.  If you have to re-position, the bags don't rip.  Yes, tiny fibers may still stick to the back of your stickers, but they aren't noticeable like a swatch of paper would be.  They're more malleable than their thicker paper counterparts so they bend with the bags and they do not fall off.

I love this so much!  It's such a quick option for hectic schedules and last minute gifts.  Run a bone folder over them a few times for a stronger hold and to iron out any wrinkles.

For the crafty bag below, I added a couple extra elements like the scissor die cut and the pink puffy clothespin sticker adhered to a white tag.  A bright yellow tassel completes the look.  Quite possibly, I've used tassels on all of my wraps so far this month!  I made the tassel from embroidery floss but the other embellishments are also from Amy Tangerine.

The muslin bags I used are 5" x 7" but this adornment will work with any size since the stickers also come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Another handmade tassel mixed with pieces from the GB kits to accent this pretty floral bag.  The minty alpha can be found in the Main kit while the polka dot washi is in the Main Add-on.  If you haven't ordered your November kits yet, do it soon!  Better yet, become a subscriber; they get first dibs on all the add-ons!

Again, be sure to check out the DT Gallery for loads of inspiration.  I noticed that a lot of the gals made pretty packaging samples so if you're a gift wrap fiend like me, you're in for a real treat!  I have a LOT of wrapping coming your way this month, so stay tuned...Thanks for stopping by!