Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Time for Thanks


Hi all. Sorry for the ridiculous absence. I don't have much of an excuse except that I have been busy busy busy! Between moving, starting my internship, studying for my certification exam, and beginning the job hunt process, I have been way pressed for blog time. But the good news is that I have been crafting--so fear not! I have some things to share.

Being Thanksgiving weekend and being amidst all the I'm-thankful-for-you business, I decided to give out some "thankful" cards at work to people with whom I work the closest at the three schools that I cover--and trust me, I am VERY thankful for ALL of them! I got the idea from the peeps at Young House Love, as seen here, but I wasn't feeling their style as far as the printout they offered. However, I loved their idea! So I put my own spin on the "thankful for you" card with some help from Photoshop, and created something a little more me.


(^ sorry this is all grainy and weird...if you click on it, it IS clear, and should print just fine. All the blog fixes I've tried won't make this smaller image crisp though--if you know how to fix it PLEASE share!)


I'm super happy with the way it turned out. I just printed them, chopped them down the middle, and then sliced 'em horizontally just above the text in the middle. After filling out the top card to the recipient, I then used some removable adhesive (Tombow) and stuck the smaller card to the larger card. I punched out a little butterfly from some cute fallish patterned paper, and placed him in the lower right hand corner with some dimensional adhesive for a final touch and a little punch of 3-dimensional goodness. I don't have any pictures of the final product, as I need to protect the privacy of those I work with--sorry! But I promise they were cute :)

Please feel free to download the above file and share, share, share!!!!

Note: after handing out a few cards, it became apparent that I hadn't made it obvious enough that there was a card underneath for the recipient to pass on, so I started folding the butterfly corner back a bit to make it extra clear. Half of the "thankful for you" idea is paying it forward, so I wanted people to have no excuse about not seeing the second card!


It was such a simple thing to do, but I really think people appreciated it mucho, especially because this time of year is very stressful in our school system (long story short, we expect a major influx of work and the related stress that comes with it right after report cards go home, which was about a week ago). Giving people the pick-me-up they deserve is especially nice when things get a little rough! This is a great idea for any time of the year, and these cards can certainly be altered to fit any occasion. After all, we're thankful at other times of year than Thanksgiving!

How about any of you out there? Did you do anything special to let others know how thankful you are? How about some traditions in your family/workplace/social circles? I know there must me some interesting ones out there!



Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fabbie Finds

Woo to the hoo - it's Saturday. I've got another round of fun, less-than-25-dollar stuff for ya. This week's theme is multiples; all items come with at least 2 pieces! 'Cause more bang for your buck is always better, right?

Up first...

1. Muffin/Cupcake Pan Scrubby
Casa Bella via Real Simple
$7.99 (for a set of 3)
I bake a fair amount of muffins - especially corn muffins. My boyfriend actually likes them too, which is both a good and a bad thing. However, while I love eating muffins, I despise cleaning the pan that's left after the corn muffin feast. I've got a non-stick Wilton pan, but no matter what, I end up cleaning the little bugger at least twice; I think I get all the little nitty-gritty crumbies and oil slicks the first time around, and then I take it out of the dishdrainer only to feel that tell-tale slickness, or see some little browned bits. I've often wondered if there was something that would make life easier when it came to cleanup duty, and then I happened upon this little guy. Not only is he cute, but he also looks like he'd do a great job during pan-scrubbing thanks to his unique shape and size. With two sides to choose from, how can you go wrong?



2. Vinyl Lace Placemat
Darlybird
$12 (for a set of 6)
Yes, you read that right; these lovelies are only $2 a piece! But despite their tiny price-tag, they certainly don't look cheap by any means! Lace is definitely an "in" item right now, from clothing to light fixtures, and these are no exception. (Check out these super cute over-your-bathing-suit shorts here, and this amazing idea for a light shade here. Plus, if you really wanna get your dining area lacy and racy, you can DIY a lace doily table runner, like the one seen here). The color above is "stone gray," but they also come in other classic colors (like black or white), in addition to fun colors (like lime or turquoise). You can see all the colors here. I personally like the organic, soft tones of the stone gray (I guess I like the classic off-white look of antique doilies), but could certainly see these adding a great pop of color to some fun tablescapes. And honestly, at 6 for $12, even I would consider buying more than one set to mix things up. The chosen material (a nice pliable vinyl) makes clean-up a snap so that you don't have to worry about dainty fabric, while the delicate cutting gives a nice air of sophistication - a perfect balance!



3. Sea Glass Toned Nature Bobby Pins
Liz Hutnick's Etsy Shop
$15.85 (for 4 pins)




When I saw these, I just about died and went to heaven. Yes, they contain a bird (my weakness...*sigh*), but they're also in sea-glass tones, which was like super sweet icing on the cake. The other organic motifs (in addition to the aviary creature) are so chic that these guys could be paired with a work outfit in a neat French twist, a date night with sexy waves, or even just a quick updo for hanging around the house. At nearly $16, they're not particularly inexpensive, but I think they qualify for a little splurge, or a cute gift for a sister, girlfriend, cousin, coworker...mom......aunt......



4. Mug-Sized Teacup and Saucer
$19.99
ModCloth
Ok, you're probably wondering why this counts as a multiple. While it is technically 2 items (a cup and saucer), the thing I liked about this little guy is that it comes with a snazzy box that many reviewers said they saved for reuse.

So it's a two for one! Plus, the size of the "cup" is actually a bit deceiving in the image; most reviews liken it to the size of a coffee mug. Ergo (yes, I said "ergo"), you could use this little guy for many different purposes: a very large spot of tea that doesn't require refills from the pot; a nice big cup-o-Joe that allows you to stay put at your desk without fiddling with your sugar and creamer proportions once you get it right for the whole shebang; a nice mug of steaming soup (especially chicken-noodle if you're sick - eating from this little gem would instantly make anyone feel better)...It's really so much more than just a tea-cup. So in addition to a cute storage box, you actually get a very versatile item, ergo (yep, did it again), making this item count for a multiple. You just got lawyered (HIMYM reference, in case you were confused).



5. Beddy-bye Coasters
ModCloth
$23.99 (for a set of 4)
*Note: this is a sale price, down from $39.99; not sure how temporary this may be!
I've gotta admit - I've never seen anything like these coasters! What an original idea! I think the bed frame adds an air of unique interest, and could even give height to an artfully arranged coffee table, side table, or living-area bookshelf. Despite its delicate-looking nature, reviewers commented that these little guys are actually quite sturdy. They even appear to have mystical powers over the y-chromosome when it comes to using a coaster (at least according to one reviewer). Plus - they're white. White looks nice everywhere...especially under a glass when it's saving your precious woodware. (But let's face it: it would still look nice no matter what. You know it's true).


So there we have it! Another week of Fabbie Finds! I've made it 5 whole weeks in a row. I know - insanity.

Are you guys as smitten with those vinyl placemats as I am? Can you think of any other uses for the giant tea cup? Curious to see if the bed coasters will have mystical powers over certain male household members in terms of swaying them to...err...use protection? (Let's not get too greedy here. Get your mind out of the gutter and start with your coffee table. And yes, I realize there are an insane amount of inappropriate jokes that could be made to go along with this double entendre. But my mom reads this blog, so we'll keep it PG). (Hi, Mom).


*Note: All images via the linked webpage for the featured item.
**Double Note: I was not paid or perked by any of these sellers or companies (pft, I wish they knew who I was--hah!). I just found these items myself and thought I would share them!



Thursday, July 14, 2011

Maintaining my Vanity


  So, a while back, a came across this little lovely on Craig's List for a mere $20:




It wasn't even in bad shape. The family was just cleaning out their little girl's room, and decided they didn't need it anymore. The mirror inside the flip-up top was damaged and discolored, but that was something I could work around, and certainly wasn't a deal-breaker for only 20 bones.




Like I said, this little guy (gal?) wasn't screaming "I NEED TO BE FIXED UP!!!!" but the current paint job just wasn't my style; it seemed to be a little frouffy for my taste (very technical term). The original coloring looked to be a DIY job; the white spray-painted coat was done very well and looked practically flawless, but the gold detailing was pretty sloppy in some places (no pictures - sorry!) and just gave the piece a very childish feel. Being a perfectionist, those gold details were screaming "messy Messy MESSY!" in addition to likening the piece to something that should be in Kate Middleton's foyer or dressing room. After finding this piece over at Centsational Girl, I was itching to grey-ify something of my own, and thought that the feminine lines of this piece would lend itself well to a more masculine and rainy-day color.

While the color I ended up picking is a bit more blue than I had originally intended (I'm a newbie at choosing paint colors that match what I want, despite the fact that I was a good student and taped up tons of different swatches to look at in different lights at different times of the day), I still like the juxtaposition of the baby bluish tones (read: boyish) on such a curvy piece (read: girlish). I had originally wanted to paint the inside of the flip-top a bright and complementary color, like coral, or a deep contrasting hue, like midnight blue, but ended up leaving that part alone for now. It just wasn't in the cards yet, as I wasn't sure of how to handle the damaged mirror, and I couldn't make a final decision regarding the color (I'm leaning more toward coral...). As it turns out, we're not even currently using the flip top at all, so it doesn't matter; it's very difficult not to put stuff on top of a flat surface...and once it's there, you can't open it anymore. Sigh. I wouldn't mind if it magically turned into a drawer, but maybe after our move, I'll start actually using the little guy as a vanity. Here's the little bugger in all it's (currently) finished glory!




The color I ended up going with is Valspar's "Rising Tide" color-matched to Olympic Premium No VOC latex paint. I just bought a little sample size for around $3.50, and it was more than enough for a single coat after a nice coat of Kilz primer. Interestingly, when I hold the color swatch up to the vanity, the color on the card does read a little more gray and less blue, but oh well! I'm still happy with the end result. We're currently using it as a little buffet-type-piece in our dining area, and it blends nicely under our wall collage, as we have a lot of photos or paintings that involve blues, from water, sky, and even backgrounds.




While I had originally planned on altering the color of the drawer pulls, I actually didn't think they were too bad once I was all finished. They look a little tarnished or well-worn, which I like better than pristine, so for now, they stay.  I'm thinkin' they'll look even better once I choose some fun fabric for drawer liners that picks up some of the goldish and cream tones. I got the idea from this image that I came across on Pinterest - been looking for something similar ever since!




So to save your fingers from scrolling back to the top (life's tough, I know), here is a comparison image of the before and after. I like the much more subtle single-tone color that hints to the detailing in the wood with shadows, rather than that cheap-looking gold acrylic paint that might call your attention to the details...but not in a good way.




Have any of you guys redone any interesting pieces lately? Do you have as much trouble choosing a paint color that actually looks the way you pictured it in your head when you're done? Found any steals on Craig's recently? Do tell!


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fabbie Finds

It's that magical time again: the Saturday you all love and look forward to so you can read a blog post! Woot. This week's fabbie finds are themed around food...the first 4 products I found seemed to have a culinary flair, so I made sure to find a 5th that fit into the trend.

Onward!

1. Shark Fin Ice Cubes
Perpetual Kid
$9.99





Are these not the funniest slash cutest things ever? The mold creates a nice big base that sits just deep enough in your beverage to be hidden, but also keep those fins upright and sinister looking. I think they would look particularly cute in a really big punch bowl or other large vessel with a lot of surface area so it looked like a giant feeding frenzy or something. You could get really graphic and float some raspberries or strawberries too for a gory effect...play some Jaws music...use some sort of hidden device to create a current so they looked like they were swimming...too much? Sorry.



2. Pen Cap Utensils
Dine Ink via ThinkGeek.com
$5.99






We've all been there. You're on the run, at work, at your sibling's soccer game, chillin' on the subway, lounging on the beach...and you open your bag to grab that yummy lunch you worked so hard to prepare. Mmmm, it's a chickpea, black bean, and edamame salad, some Moroccan couscous, and a little slice of home-made mocha ice-box cake. (What? I seriously pack lunches like this. Don't judge). You're starving and have been looking forward to this all day...that yummy vinaigrette...those little pearls of exotic deliciousness...that creamy-chocolaty-coffee-y awesomeness...You dig around in your bag for your fork, salivating at the thought of digging into your little feast. And to your horror, you realize you left that simple, yet necessary, utensil sitting on the kitchen counter that morning in your rush to get out the door. You stare at your lunch, tummy grumbling, cursing the fact that you packed NOTHING you can eat with your hands. Why oh why did you forget that fork? You could risk it, and tip the containers and attempt to dump the food into your mouth, losing half of it on the floor/ground and making a total idiot out of yourself while you're at it...or, you could reach for your trusty never-go-anywhere-without-them pen cap utensils! You pop one onto one of your ho-hum Bics, and it magically transforms into a transportation vessel, allowing food to travel from your container to your mouth. Life is good. Bon App├ętit.


3. Pink Elephant Funnel
ModCloth
$7.99
What a cute, yet practical, kitchen gadget! This little creature puts the fun in functional, with a trunk used as a funnel spout. If you've ever tried to transfer liquids from large-mouthed bowls to itty-bitty-opening vessels, you know just how useful a kitchen funnel can be. Spare the grossness of contemplating using your DIY/around-the-house/nasty job funnel you keep in the garage (you know, the one you use when you change your oil? No?) and invest in this little bugger instead. Cuter, cleaner, and awesome...er.


4. Little Birdie Salt'n'Pepper Shakers
ModCloth
$15.99
Another ModCloth find, I just couldn't pass these little guys up (c'mon...they're birds. Enough said). I love how they're in two different poses, and snuggled on/into a little nest of sorts. These will always make a nice centerpiece on the table, regardless of whether it's set for dinner, or cleared from a meal and just sittin' and looking pretty. You can't ever go wrong with white (and as far as I'm concerned, it's difficult to go wrong with aviary accessories, although it is possible. I'm not THAT crazy).



5. Recycled Plastic Cutting Boards
Preserve
$14.99







If you're like me, you always feel bad when you have to toss those plastic containers that certain items come in, despite the fact that you've looked everywhere for an eco-friendly alternative in a number 1 or 2 plastic so that it can be recycled (my local recycling program only takes numbers 1 and 2. Boo). There are some food items that you just have to buy in number 5 plastic if you want them at all, such as yogurt, hummus, cottage cheese...and so many places won't recycle these containers. Behold! Preserve's Gimme 5 Program. You can read more about it here, but the long story short is that this program actually takes your number 5 plastic containers for free and recycles them into all sorts of products, such as cutting boards like the one featured above. Not only is this a great way to recycle, but these products are BPA free, dishwasher safe, and still 100% recyclable after years of use (just melt 'em and mold 'em again! It's like play-dough for big kids!) You can drop off your number 5 plastics at your local participating Whole Foods Markets (check here for a list of participating stores), or you can mail your plastics in (at this point, you have to pay for shipping, but Gimme 5 is working hard to create more drop-off locations. You can find more info here.) They even take your Brita filters! Plus, Preserve's products all seem to have great reviews; for example, the curve on this cutting board doubles as a handle and a retaining wall to help slide you hard-earned choppings into pots. Perfect!


Bonus! Revolver Hair Dryer
Nodaya
$40?





The only place I can actually find one of these puppies for sale is on some Asian website I can't understand (there are some in Etsy shops, but they are all sold). According to Google Chrome's translation of the website, this bad boy retails for around $40, but I'm not exactly sure how accurate that translation and conversion is. However, if I can find one of these guys, I'll be totally down to purchase it as a splurge. I'm not a gun fanatic by any means (quite the opposite actually), but I just think this product is so clever and cute (the Tiffany blue color is particularly appealing to me...the juxtaposition of the shape and color are so ironic!) Just think of all the witticisms you could say if you owned one of these...you could blow your 'do out...pull the trigger on those split ends...you get my drift. Plus, if a certain male figure in your life has longer locks, the blue version of this little gadget just might be manly enough to encourage some masculine dryer-time. However, I would totally not recommend traveling with this bad boy if your trip involves a plane; if you thought security was a pain when they wanted to take a look at your regular hair dryer, imagine the scene when this little guy goes through the X-ray machine. Not pretty. Unless you arrive for your flight about 10 hours early and are looking to kill some time (no pun intended). In that case, go for it. It's your trip.

What about you guys? Find anything awesome this week? Think of any other witticisms to go along with this blowdryer? Have a local recycling program that actually takes number 5 plastic (jealous!!)? Leave a comment and chat!


*Note: All images via the linked webpage for the featured item.
**Double Note: I was not paid or perked by any of these sellers or companies (pft, I wish they knew who I was--hah!). I just found these items myself and thought I would share them!



Monday, July 4, 2011

Be Vehwee Quiet...I'm Hunting fow Apawtments


So I figured if apartment hunting was taking over my life and preventing me from doing projects that I would otherwise blog about, I should blog about this instead. So this post is about the method my boyfriend and I came up with to find a new pad.

My boyfriend and I decided to move to Richmond since it will be a mid-ish point for his job and my upcoming internship. Neither of us has really lived in a city per se, and we thought that, being a city, there would be oodles of apartments to be had in a neighborhood that was safe and not undergraduate (VCU students are EVERYWHERE) or roach-infested. So. Not. So.

At first, we turned to Craig's List, who had served me well in the past. However, perusing The List quickly became annoying for a few reasons. Reason 1: the filters it uses. We needed at least a 2 bedroom, but there was no way to search for 2+ (we certainly wouldn't mind having another room if it was in our budget). Additionally, being very unfamiliar with Richmond, the main streets, and all the neighborhood names, we soon became tired of Google mapping everything separately.
 

Now, I had never heard of PadMapper until very recently. Now that I'm using it, I do remember my sister mentioning it a while back, but at that time, it was too early to start scouting (sorry, Sis). However, now that I've "discovered" it, I will never EVER go back to Craig's. Here's why.

PadMapper reminds me of Kayak.com. It searches different popular apartment listing sites (which you can customize), and pulls up all of your possible apartment matches on a Google Map. The customization capabilities are super duper awesome; you can put a high and a low on SO many different filters: rent, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, how old the posting is, pets that are allowed, sublets, if there is a picture in the ad, etc. Being a very visual person, I LOVE the Google map that gets pulled up. And if you create an account (it's free and super fast), you can favorite different places to save for another time (the pins turn green). PLUS, when you click on a pin, you can click a link that takes you to the original ad, allows you to do Google Street View right within the window (creepy, but also awesome), and it even creates a "walk score" for you, taking into account how close different places of interest are, like coffee shops, laundry mats, bars, restaurants, gyms, and grocery stores. It's GREAT.

Once we found PadMapper, it suddenly became a lot easier to to find apartments that looked promising, and we needed to come up with a system to make appointments that didn't overlap, and allowed us enough time to get from point A to point B. We came up with a very basic schedule type thing with 30-minute time slots. After the first day where we overbooked ourselves, we decided to allot 1 hour per showing (regardless of whether or not the same agent showed us multiple apartments). This has worked out pretty well for the most part, though 1 hour 15 minutes is sometimes necessary if the apartments are really far from one another. I just write out the times on the left hand side of a piece of scrap after we decide when the first and last appointments are going to be for that day. Then, as we make appointments via e-mail or phone, we fill in the address, name of the agent, and their phone number. It looks like this as it starts to get filled in (blurred out for privacy - don't want any stalkers because I have SO many people that read my blog):



Once the list is finalized (some things get canceled if the apartment is rented before we can see it, or we need to move things around), I type up an itinerary for the full day that we take in a portfolio when we make the trip.

Since we started viewing so many apartments (about 10 per trip to Richmond...yeah, we're picky), we needed to come up with a system to keep track of which apartment being which, what we liked about it, what didn't work, etc. We came up with a ratings and check-list form that we customized to things that are important to us for each room. Some things are rated (counter space in the kitchen, for example), and other things are just a check box system (for instance, whether or not there is a washer/dryer that comes with the apartment). We made some adjustments after the first day (it was far too detailed and it was taking us too long to fill it out), so we streamlined it to suit what we needed it for, and then incorporated space at the bottom to make notes about unique things that caught our eye (whether good or bad).


So far this system has been working pretty well. We learned the hard way that we max out at around 8 or 9 apartment showings per day (day 1 was a total crank-fest at around 14 apartments. Not good). We also learned that you should call and confirm your showing that that morning, (time slot, where to meet the person, and the quoted rent in addition to what it includes). Otherwise, you show up and wait only to find out the apartment has already been rented, the agent is sick and no one took over her showings, etc. Always a bummer, especially since it's about 95 degrees outside, and you've driven all over creation for nothing. It became a necessity for us to confirm rent quotes because we ended up being quoted one thing the week before on the phone, and then we'd show up at the apartment, and all of a sudden the rent was $200 more, which they wouldn't tell us until the end of the appointment. This became a major annoyance for us; not only was it a huge waste of our time because the apartment would suddenly be out of our range and we wasted the time slot, but we would fall in love with a place only to find out we couldn't afford it. Not cool. This seemed to be a trick used by multiple property management companies, so we just started double checking every single one.

It was interesting to see the different reactions we'd get from different people when we'd show up with our clipboards and ratings scales. Some people thought it was a great idea, others obviously privately deemed us insane. But the system works for us, especially since my boyfriend and I each rate the apartment on our own and compare later, so we get to make unbiased reviews, for the most part.

So far, we are still apartmentless. We're both pretty picky regarding very different things (my boyfriend is much more concerned about location and ceiling height for his easel, I'm much more concerned about feeling safe and at home inside the apartment, which usually means sunny windows, somewhat updated appliances, and enough space to not feel like I'm trapped in a closet). So far...no dice. We've been pretty disappointed to find out that our budget places us at the low end of where undergraduates tend to live, which isn't really where young professionals in their mid 20s see themselves. Hopefully this Wednesday will be the winner!

How about you guys? Any advice on apartment hunting? Have any "system" you employ? Think we're crazy for designing and using a rating system? Live in Richmond yourself and have some words of wisdom? Do share!



*Note: All images are mine, EXCEPT for the PadMapper image via here.
**Double Note: I was not paid or perked by any of these sites or companies (pft, I wish they knew who I was--hah!). I just found these sites myself and thought I would share them!


 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fabbie Finds

 Another week has flown by! Yikes! Sorry for only a single blog post. Apartment hunting has taken over my life. But at least it's a holiday weekend! I don't have any major plans for the 4th, but seeing as how Colonial Williamsburg is in my backyard, I think some local resources might just take care of all the planning for me! Kudos to little work with a major payoff. Heh.

Anyway, it's time for another round of fabbie finds. It's a colorful week for the most part!


1. Floral Napkins
Charlotte Handmade's Etsy Shop
$24




How pretty are these? This set of 8 napkins is so sweet; the colors are soft enough for any season, by perky enough to help brighten any day. I love the little hints of gray mixed in - it gives these guys a nice modern twist while still allowing them to be feminine and traditional. Plus, if 8 is too many, Charlotte Handmade also sells in sets of 4 so you can mix and match, or just go with a half order!


2. Reusable Tote Bag
Envirosax
$8.95


I actually own 2 of these bags and use them religiously. They're light, strong as an ox, and fold up into teeny tiny little roll-ups. Plus, they're deceptively HUGE when open. I can almost always fit all my groceries for a week into a single bag, and I never worry about them ripping; I've lugged around some seriously heavy loads before with absolutely no issue (the website states a weight capacity of 44 lbs. I don't think too many people carry 50 lbs worth of anything in a single bag anyway). They come in SO many different colors, and you can even buy coordinating sets that all slide into a handy little pouch. The color above is "Bag 1" from the Oasis line, but there are all sorts of colors, patterns, and motifs to suit anything you could possibly want - even an organic line!


3. Facebook Stamps
ThinkGeek.com
$12.99
I don't even remember how I found these, but I think they're hilarious. Quite honestly, I'm not a fan of the Dislike button (does that even exist?), but the Like button is hysterical. I'm not really sure when you'd actually use these, but where there's a will, there's a way. Maybe if I were a high school teacher, I would totally employ these bad boys on graded work...well, at least the Like one, anyway. I'm not THAT mean.


4. Squirrel Tape Dispenser
Japanese Gift Market
$14.00



I also don't remember how I found this little guy, but is he not the cutest tape dispenser you've ever seen? I admit, I have a thing for squirrels (how can you go wrong with fuzzy wuzzy fur and HUGE eyes?), but regardless, this little bugger is still pretty endearing. He's so much better than a boring black sand-weighted dispenser. I just wish he dispensed from the front...at least your desk visitors can look at his sweet little face.


5. Google Notifier
Google
Free (yes, free!)
 When I first got my Mac, I was all about MacMail. However, not wanting to pony up and pay for a MobileMe account, MacMail suddenly became annoying when I had more than one device that I used to access my e-mail. While I loved Gmail, I was sad I couldn't have a desktop notifier to let me know when I had new messages, which was one of my favorite aspects of MacMail. Behold! Google Notifier! This little guy IS a desktop notification system that not only tells me when I have new messages; it also says how many I have, and even shows little blurbs from each one (sender, subject, and first 10 words or so) without me ever needing to leave my desktop. Now all my e-mail is accessed directly within Gmail, meaning it's the same on every computer. But I don't have to leave my desktop to do the basics (you need to open your browser to read full e-mails and compose, but that's just fine with me). I love it mucho, and installation was easy-peasy!


BONUS! Peacock iPhone Case
Society6
$35


Holy WOW is this not the most amazing iPhone case you've ever seen? Society6 has TONS of super cool designs for all sorts of tastes, but I just loved the colors on this one. (Plus...it's a bird. And I have a thing for birds). In addition to iPhone cases, Society6 also offers stretched canvases, art prints, and skins for laptops and iPads in their designs, in case you love the decor but don't own an iPhone. You can search within tons of different categories, from nature to typography, and even browse for certain artists (this design is by Valentina Ramos). Talk about some sweet tech or wall upgrades!

Ok, that sums it up for this week! What about you guys? Found any amazing products lately that you think I should feature? Are you as obsessed with this peacock as I am? Do you have any woodland creatures on your desktop? Spill it!

*Note: All images via the linked webpage for the featured item EXCEPT for the Google Notifier image via here.
**Double Note: I was not paid or perked by any of these sellers or companies (pft, I wish they knew who I was--hah!). I just found these items myself and thought I would share them!


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Let's Talk About Pinterest

Ok. I admit it. I have a serious problem and it rhymes with "lint arrest." Pinterest has taken over my life. It's a sickness, I tell you...but a good one...if that's possible.

As an undergraduate, Facebook used to dominate my life. Not so now. Pinterest is my new (obsessive) bread'n'butter. I can pin for hours at a time, no problem whatsoever (except that I might have to take the occasional potty break).




So what is Pinterest? Pinterest is a free site where you can organize images visually. If you're familiar with the concept of a Mood Board, it's similar to that, only you can have multiple boards all going on at once that can store information about images for you. When I started Pinning, it was to document and hold onto images of furniture redos that I thought were particularly awesome or doable, in addition to bedroom images since I was in the process of making my own headboard. Then I started keeping tabs on crafty ideas that looked promising. Then I started keeping track of entryways that I liked since I was refinishing a gate-leg table for my entryway...and it just kept going on an on. I now have 15 boards that I pin items to practically every. single. day.




If you're one of those people that drags and drops images into folders that are milling about your desktop, STOP. PLEASE. Pinterest is SO for you, my friend. It's like the difference between a power sander and sanding by hand. Or a knife and a food processor. Or scissors and a paper cutter...you get my drift. Saving images directly to you computer is slow and doesn't store any info for you about where that image came from. It's time-consuming, only accessible from that one computer, and involves zero connectivity with other peoples' ideas and interests. Lame.




The thing that I really like SO much about Pinterest is that by clicking on the image that you pinned to your board (or on an image that someone else pinned to their board), your browser automatically takes you to the webpage from where the item was pinned. This is ridiculously handy for DIY-type things; you pin the image of the final result, and if you click on the image, you'll be taken right to the tutorial on how it was done. Same for images you pinned for yummy recipes. Or items you drooled over in online stores. It's pathetically handy. It's also nice if you're cool enough to get one of your own images pinned, so that people can track the item to the original location/owner.

So in the beginning, Pinterest was a way to organize. It has since come to be a form of entertainment. How is this so? The answer is that you can browse within categories.




People have already pinned hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of images onto boards. These are all floating about waiting for you to discover them and pin them yourself, in addition to you adding more images from other external websites. I have found SO many ideas for crafts, cards, furniture makeovers, room arrangements, color schemes...even great quotes, just from clicking around on Pinterest. If you're a person who is easily visually pleased, I can pretty much guarantee that browsing on Pinterest will becomes a form of pathetically enjoyable pleasure. People tend to pin images that are aesthetically pleasing to begin with, so even if you don't find items for actual physical potential use, they are usually quite pretty to look at, if for nothing else. (However, this is coming from a person who likes to walk around Target or TJ MAXX for hours at a time just to look at colors, packaging, shapes, and textures. On the other hand, I know for a fact that I'm not the only person out there who does this, so...judge with caution).

So how does Pinterest work? You can sign in via your Facebook or Twitter accounts (which also makes it easy to publish your pins to these places too, if you'd like. Ahh, social networking technology...). In the beginning, you get to go through the steps to add a "Pin It" button up onto your browser bar.




At first, I was all, "Ugh...really? I have to add this stupid button?" But now, I am SO happy it's there, because...well...it's there. When I'm on a website and I come across an image that I think, "Oh MAN, that centerpiece is amazing!" all I have to do is click my "Pin It" button, and poof! I can pin the item to any board of my choosing, or even create a new board right from the new window. Then I can add a little blurb about the image, like why I chose it or where it came from ("Holy crap, these flowers in that shaped vase = swoon"), and just like that, the image is saved to my board, and I can return to look at it any time I want. It's that easy. You can even "follow" other peoples' boards if you know someone or find that they pin items that you really like.

My only complaint about the big-P right now is that sometimes it gets waaayyyy ssssllllooooooowww. Especially at night...when I get into bed...and snuggle into my comforter with my laptop in tow to Pin for a while to "wind down." (What? You read a book. I pin. We both stare at stuff for a while and enjoy it. Same difference.) Apparantly, this is what everyone and their mom likes to do too, because nighttime is when I notice this the most. I'm guessing it's starting to gain massive popularity, and therefore, heavy traffic = slow going. Considering there is a little blurb on the left sidebar about improving Pinterest via hiring, I'm guessing the Pin Peeps are aware of the issue and are looking to expand.




I would so totally work for these guys if I could be remotely useful...which I wouldn't be. I'd just stare at pretty pictures all day.

Anywho, that sums up my love for Pinterest. I'm totally, definitely, over-the-top, 100% obsessed.

What about all of you guys? Anyone else out there as wrapped up in Pinning as I am? Found another site you're sucked into for hours at a time? Think Pinterest is an "L.7. Weeeeenieeeee?" (Sandlot reference...sorry). Praise and rant below!


*Note: All images are mine, but are of the Pinterest website. All original owners of the smaller thumbnails within the pinboard image can be found by accessing my Pinboards.
**Double Note: Pinterest did not pay or perk me to rave about their website (although, maybe they should...I could totally be their official spokes person). I just honestly like their site, and wanted to share!



Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fabbie Finds

Hi all! It's Saturday, and you know what that means--Fabbie Finds. And you get to read a blog post on Saturday. Happy day!

Let's hop to it:

1. Blue and White Shams
Sabrina Soto via Target
$24.99

Sorry...this picture should be of just the shams, but my Pin button and the Target website don't seem to get along too well. Anywho, I'm currently obsessed with blue and white; not sure if I hopped on the blue-and-white-summertime bandwagon, or if I arrived some other way, but this is definitely a popular color combo right now. I'm also going through a crisp-white-linens-on-the-bed phase, and I think these would look so nice as a little pop of color at the top of the bed, contrasted against a white headboard with a wooden border...not that I have a bed like that or anything. (As soon as I start getting along with my camera, I'll do a post on my spiffy new headboard!) As of today on the Target website, these shams or only available in King size, hence the $24.95 price tag. However, if the Standard size comes back into stock, it will not only fit my pillows, but it will be $19.99 instead. Woot.


2. Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea
Harney & Sons (available at Barnes & Noble)
$8.00



Ok. I know it is SO not hot tea weather (here in good ol' Virginny, it's been hitting 95 practically everyday). However, I still say that this tea is amazing. When I hang in the nearby Barnes & Noble (note that there is NO "s" on Noble; it drives me nutso when people people say "Barnes and Nobles"), this is my drink of choice, no matter the temp. I figure everywhere around here cranks the AC like it's going out of style, so even if it's hot outside, it's usually too cold for me inside without a sweater, and I feel like a total dummy carrying around a long sleeved, heavy garment when it's hot enough to make even me sweat outside. (Note: for those who don't know me, I'm a freak of nature and am almost always cold. Seriously. My thermostat is set at 82 in my apartment right now, and I'm perfectly comfortable. Hence, hot tea in a Barnes & Noble in late June in the South).

This tea isn't cheap, but it is the definition of delicious. It's one of those teas that doesn't have any sugar in it, but it tastes sweet. It's available loose and in tea bags on the Harney and Sons website (in addition to this item, which is actually sachets), but I think it's worth the $2 for the upgrade to the tea tin, since I would totally use that for storage afterward. If I had the cash, I'd buy a bunch of different kinds just for the tins (check them out at your local B&N!). However, that's so not happening. While $8 for 20 sachets is pretty pricey, this tea is really really good, and is worth a special treat every once in a while. Besides, if you just buy a tea at B&N, you'd only buy 2.5 cups there before you hit the price for 20 tea sachets this way. So boil your own water, and think of all the moolah you're saving that way instead! (Is that enough enabling for you?)


3. Black and White Damask Throw Pillow
JoJo Designs via Amazon
$17.99


In trying to break away from the blue and white obsession, I found this baby while perusing Amazon. Black and white is always a classic color combo, and combined with this classy damask pattern that's sized just right for this little back rest, this pillow is just double-trouble classy. It would look great lazing about a couch, relaxing on a bed, or even perched on an office chair to bring some cheer (and comfort) to your work space.


4. White Elephant Teapot
BIA Cordon Bleu, via Amazon or Target
$15.99

Oh. Em. Gee. Is this not the most amazing teapot you've ever seen? He also has a camel friend that's rather cute, but I've always been rather partial toward elephants (guess it wasn't a very fair fight). That fact combined with the crisp white ceramic and the subtle, yet, tasteful, detailing means this guy is charming, yet not overly done. Ironically, I didn't realize that this item would also be mentioned in the same post as a favorite tea of mine, but I guess it just worked out for the better. This baby with the above tea would be l.o.v.e. (It'd be love without it too, just without the periods in between). I think you could serve anything remotely liquid-y from this little quadruped and it would instantly ooze with awesomey goodness, but you might as well put something awesome into something awesome to get awesome-squared.



5. Kitchen Towel and Potholder Set
Dwell Studio via Target
$19.99




I guess I'm on a Target kick today. But this print was just too cute to pass up! This is the "Moroccan" print from the Dwell line, but they also have some other great ones available too. I love that the towels go together, yet don't remotely look like one another so that your kitchen won't be too matchy-matchy, while looking put together at the same time. While I do wish that the potholder was a second mitt, this set is still pretty sweet. I've just never been a potholder person, but if you are, that's great for you! (In fact, if you're a super potholder person, we can each buy a set, and I'll give you my potholder, and you can give me your mitt, and we'll both live matchily ever after.) Given the trend for white and lightish blues in kitchens right now, I think these guys would fit right in.

Okily dokily--that does it for this week's Fabbie Finds. Sorry I don't have a bonus item this week, but between learning the inner workings of Blogger, dabbling in some coding for widgets, setting up a YouTube Chanel, and taking an entire day to apartment-hunt in Richmond this past Thursday, I have been a little pressed for time to shop (such a hard life, I know).

What about you guys? Found any great steals lately? Recently set up a YouTube or Blogger account? Looking for a new pad (and have any tips??)? Do tell!


*Note: All pictures via the linked webpage for the featured item.
*Double Note: I was not paid or perked by any of these sellers or companies (pft, I wish they knew who I was--hah!). I just found these items myself and thought I would share them!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Video: Corner Punch Flower

Oh yes: my first video. Pretty exciting.

While pinning about on Pinterest (seriously--ten times more addictive than Facebook. Also, I'm turning "pinning" into a verb that refers to spending time on Pinterest. You saw it here first. Dibs.), I came across a pin for these cute little flowers/rosettes. After backtracking to the original source, I found out it came from the Fiskars website. Who knew? Seeing as how I didn't even know that Fiskars offered project ideas on their site, I got pretty excited. (It's obvious now that they would, but hey, hindsight is 20/20).

 

The project is originally by Lisa Storms, who says that she stumbled across the idea by accident. Talk about a happy accident, because these little buggers are fabuloso. While Lisa offers a nice picture tutorial, I thought it would be fun to make a video tutorial for those who are a bit more action-oriented (oh trust me--this video is jam-packed. Hah.). It's my first video, so I'm still getting used to lots of different things (lighting, editing, speeding things along, etc.), so these will hopefully improve over time. However, you can def get the gist from my new baby below. And if it's that bad, you can refer to Lisa's tutorial.


And no, you're not imagining it; there is an annoying ticking noise in the background of the video. It's my camera's autofocus. If you're thinking about getting a new video camera, beware the ticking autofocus on the Canon Vixia HFR10. Picture quality is amazing, but until I (or you) master the manual focus (which is impossible to use while also filming a craft video by yourself at your desk), it's gonna sound like there is a woodpecker going to town off in the distance of all your quiet videos. If you've got an external mic, you should be good to go though! ('Cause that's so totally in my budget right now. Not.)

I think these flowers would be great for just about anything, but I think they could especially lend themselves to holiday-time if you make them in wintery colors like light blue, silver, or gray. You could also do red and white or green and white for some seriously cute poinsettias. You can see some bright-colored versions that Lisa made on the Fiskars site, which are just as applicable for summertime fun. Simple. Cute. Versitile. Awesome. Just the way I like it.

What about you guys? Are you just as addicted to Pinterest as I am? Found any good projects that you wish there was a video for extra awesomness? Made a video yourself lately?




Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Advertising with mLe, ink

Interested in getting the word out to the world about you, your company, or your work? mLe, ink would love to help you out, and is now offering advertising space!

How it works
mLe, ink advertising runs on a monthly basis. Ad spaces are available in two sizes. All you have to do is send me the appropriately-sized image, and I'll broadcast it to the world in my sidebar for four weeks. It's that easy!

What'll it cost me?
Rates depend on the size of your ad. You've got two options:


 
  • Single: $10 for a four-week period, starting the first of the month   
  • Double: $25 for a four-week period, starting the first of the month

I'm in! So what do I do now?
Ready to take the plunge? E-mail me at mleink@gmail.com. I can't wait to help you spread the word of your awesomeness.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fabbie Finds

Hey kids. So I was thinking....most of the blogs I follow tend to wimp out on Saturdays. I suppose this is acceptable considering those who blog as their profession need a weekend too. But I figured there must be others like me who have little to no life, and who look forward (almost pathetically) to reading certain blogs each day who also get super depressed on Saturday when they realize that, alas, once the page loads, it's the same post I read yesterday. Boo. So I thought I'd try and come up with a solution to battle this catastrophe and--yes, you guessed it--post stuff! On Saturdays!

I like finding things that look nice in my home. Other people do too, as is evident by the bazillion blogs, magazines, etc. out there where people advertise, post, review, and comment on endless different products, furnishings, and various odds and ends for here, there, and everywhere. However, being on a tight asphyxiating budget, it's kind of sad when I realize that people get overly excited about items that 99.9999% of people can't afford. I love Martha Stewart as much as the next guy (most likely more), but paying $45 for a dishcloth for my kitchen just isn't an option...even if I had it professionally framed and never once let it get dirty (not that I could afford to have it professionally framed anyway).

Hence: Fabbie Finds. On Saturdays, I'm going to try and put a post up each week featuring 5 items that are super cute and $25 or less (minus shipping, taxes, and all that other junk). And I'll throw in a fun splurge item under $50 if I happen to find one that is particularly cute, unique, or just plain awesome. So now you can have something to look forward to on Saturdays! You're welcome.

Up first:

Z Gallerie
$24.95

John and Sherry Petersik featured this little guy on their blog, Young House Love, on their monthly ad thank-you a while back (oh, how I look forward to the day when I can have ads on my blog...). I have been smitten with the little guy ever since. I love the negative space created between the little starfishies, and, though I've never seen it in person, it looks like it has some nice texture going on too. It's also available in white, but I'm obsessed with the silver. This would look nice anywhere, from a bookshelf, to a coffee table, to a kitchen counter, to--I'll say it--the top of the toilet tank. Or I suppose the bathroom counter. But considering it's size, I really do think it could look nice by the toilet! It's a necessary appliance, so might as well spiff it up! Or not. It's up to you. But I think you should consider it--it's way prettier than a box of tissues.


FredFlare.com
$18


I just think this little guy is too cute! It's not exactly a functional storage container, what without being able to bend closed and it lacking a cap/stopper/plug/etc., but it would be great for when you have company over for anything that could possibly involve milk or cream. In case you're short on ideas, that includes pretty much every single major holiday, every meal (especially breakfast, brunch, or dessert [it's a meal in itself and you know it]), and any excuse to caffeinate yourself or your guests, whether the beverage of choice is tea or coffee. It reminds me of my elementary school days, back when I used to order my little chocolate milks for 10c. Sigh. Those were the good ol' days. (Middle and High School...not so much).


Dragonflies' Etsy Shop
$6.50


I'm obsessed with maps, so these little guys caught my eye a few months ago, and I flagged them into my Etsy Favorites. They've since sold, but Dragonflies has lots of other very cute designs in her shop, including lace, trees, and scripty handwriting, that are all equally stunning. Plus, being an Etsy seller, if you're set on the map idea, you can always ask for a custom order; who knows, maybe you could even ask for a specific place! These would be eye candy on any fridge or otherwise magnetic surface.


Z Gallerie
$9.95
Are these not the cutest little things you've ever seen? I admit--I have a bird obsession. Probably because my parents were/are birders (aka: "Bird Nerds"). When I was little, I thought birds were stupidly annoying considering my dad would practically swerve off the road trying to identify a black speck up in the sky ("Is it a Sharpshin? I can't tell!"). He still swerves off the road frequently for the same reason, but I'm old enough that it's become endearing (though still just as life-threatening). However, I now like decorative bird items. I especially love these because of their clean lines, organic shape, and crisp color. Be warned that they are $9.95 each, though the picture is of a pair. But I think they would be worth it. And I'm dirt cheep cheap (couldn't help myself).


Walmart
$25


Yes, this is from Walmart. I know it's not everyone's favorite place, but I was there today picking up some toothpaste when I saw this little guy hanging out in the lamp department (I get really distracted when I go shopping. All I bought today was toothpaste, soap for my boyfriend, and a glass container for iced tea, and I was there for about an hour and a half). I though that the first time I saw this lamp base was at Target, but I just spent about 15 minutes combing through their website looking for it, and I can't seem to find it there. But honestly, I think this little guy is just fabulous! It comes in the silver in this photo, or a bronze-y color for those who prefer something a bit more masculine and/or less flashy. I think the silhouette is really nice, and I love, Love, love, the texture of the base. If I had nice bedside tables and I wasn't moving in 6 weeks, I would totally consider purchasing these for realsies. As of this post-writing, they're out of stock online. However, when I was in the store, they were $15, not $25! They don't come with a shade, but seriously, I've seen lamp bases in thrift stores that cost $15 or more (yeah I know, what the heck is up with that?). Maybe the marked-down price is a sign they won't be carrying them anymore, so get a move on if you want 'em!


Super Bonus!
KnitKnit's Etsy Shop
$44


No, I don't know what the heck you would use this for, but I just thought it was so cute and unique that I had to post it! People come up with all sorts of interesting and fun ideas. Cheers to being creative!


What about you guys? Find any interesting, unique, and affordable items lately? Were middle and high school as bad for you as they were for me? Are your parents (or...GASP!...you!) bird-obsessed, real or fake? Spill it!



*Note: All pictures via the linked webpage for the featured item.
*Double Note: I was not paid or perked by any of these sellers or companies (pft, I wish they knew who I was--hah!). I just found these items myself and thought I would share them!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Must Haves

We all have them — the things we reach for every 2 seconds when we’re working on a project. Being a graduate student, I’m on a particularly tight budget and am on the (obsessively) picky side of things when it comes to my purchases. There’s a lot of thought that goes into every single debit card swipe, and I do a lot of browsing, researching, and asking before I take the plunge. My collection of tools, paper, etc. is pretty small as far as most people go, but I pride myself on what I can do with a few tools, ink pads, sheets of paper, and my creative mind!


My Top 11 Recommendations:

1. Craft Mat
Some sort of craft mat that allows for peace of mind when working and clean up that can happen in the blink of an eye is essential. I happened to permanently borrow one of my mom’s Tephlon baking sheets that she never really uses. This is really not ideal for most people, as I think these are actually pretty pricey (my dad knew someone who was apparently stashing out reams of the stuff about 10 years ago or something, so we have LOTS, but this isn’t exactly typical). It works like a charm since it wipes clean in a snap with just water and I know it can stand up to my heat gun since it’s made for an oven. However, if you don’t want to raid a family kitchen or hit up some high-end baking store, I recommend the Craft Mat by Ranger. They come in pretty small and medium sized (I suppose that is relative…I’m a hugantic space spreader-outer when I work), and you can pick them up at a store like Michael’s for around $15-$20. You’ll never worry about clean-up again.

2. Cardstock
I learned kind of slowly that cardstock is needed for anything that involves my favie embossing. Paper just isn’t thick enough to stand up to the heat of a heat gun, nor is it stiff enough to hold its own when doing anything relatively 3-dimensional. I know a lot of people are really partial to certain brands, but I haven’t been doing this long enough to find anything I’m ready to swear by. Right now, my purchases are more dictated by price (as in cheap = buyable even though I know pricey = better quality, in most cases). I just make sure to have certain colors on hand that I use frequently, like kraft, brown, white, and off-whitish (very technical). If you want to splurge on some cute printed cardstock, I recommend starting out with some 6x6 or 8x8 paper pads by companies like Basic Grey, Cosmo Cricket, and October Afternoon. The pads have coordinating papers that go great with one another, they're cheaper because they're smaller, and the prints are proportionately sized for smaller areas, like cards.

3. Ink
There are a lot of different inks out there that are used for different things since they all have their own special personalities and properties. They can even be used to color cardstock instead of just for stamping images. For my limited budget, I go for the Color Box Cat’s Eyes since I can get multiple colors in one whack. They’re smaller than a big stamp pad, but you get more for a single purchase. It’s incredibly handy to have so many colors without spending as much money. The great part about them is that since they’re sold as a set, you can use a coupon for a single bigger purchase, when it would otherwise take up 5 trips to do the same thing (yes, I am a coupon freak. But seriously, A.C Moore has 40%-50% off coupons practically every week that Michael’s takes too! Someday when I’m fat, old, happy, and inexplicably wealthy, I’ll support small Mom & Pop stores for all my purchases, but right now, I’d prefer to feed myself.) My only complaint with them is that some of them have seemed to dry up a little quickly. That makes me sad. If you're looking for some more fun inks, Distress Inks by Ranger come in great colors and react interestingly with water, making for ample creative mistakes creations.

4. Stamps
Stamps make my world go ’round. Since I’m really bad at lining things up well, etc., I’m rather inclined to recommend clear stamps. They’re also more affordable since they tend to come in sheets/sets; this expands your stamp collection for the same price as a single wood block stamp, and allows for less thinking when it comes to finding things that “go together.” Clear stamps are also great for storage. Seeing as how I have a bedroom and pretty much nothing else when it comes to space, the smaller, the better. However, I’ve recently discovered a local craft store that carries my favorite Hero Arts stamps that I previously considered off limits since I never pay to have anything shipped, which was my only option up until that point…this was a good and bad discovery. It makes me happier, but it makes me poorer. Some of Hero Arts’s background stamps are just too cute and too overly useful to pass up! I love love love their “Flowers and Dots” stamp. It was worth $13 since I pretty much use it obsessively. Their "Designer Woodgrain" is also very pretty and versatile. If you want big stamps without the woodblock (better for storage!), try "clings," which are kind of a hybrid between clear and woodblock. The HA "Friend Definition" is a cling that I looooove.

5. Heat Gun
Heat guns are a necessity for me since I’m pretty impatient when I work. They’re handy for the obvious reasons of embossing (one of my fav embellishments) but they can also be used to zap some ink or Perfect Pearls spray that just won’t dry fast enough for me (in other words, it takes more than 2 seconds). Mine is a sweet magenta-ish color by Nicole. I picked it up at A.C. Moore about 3 years ago with one of my infamous 50% off coups, so it ended up only costing around $12.50. Normally I think they retail for about $25. This was the cheapest one I could find and it works great — no complaints!

6. Embossing Powder and Embossing Ink
Embossing is quite possibly one of my favorite things ever. It’s such an easy way to play up certain parts of a card or scrapbook page without doing much more than just stamping. It also adds great texture and makes your cards look super-spiffy-professional. I use the clear embossing ink for everything; I find it’s not really necessary to see where I’ve stamped, and I can usually find it by angling it in the light if I need to. I love embossing with clear powder for subtle effects, and then white for phrases to really make them pop since white ink can sometimes leave me a little disappointed. There are also glittery, metallic, and even crackle varieties out there too. My only glitter purchase was disappointing — it never seems to set all the way — but there is a color for anything you could want. I dump mine into little plastic Tupperware type containers, so that I can scoop and pour right over the container, using it as a catcher. This saves the step of dumping the powder from the creased paper back into the jar. (I stole this tip from Jennifer McGuire — she’s uh-may-ZUH-zing). So easy and so much FUN! Plus, if you want to get fancy, embossed areas resist ink, so there are lots of fun tricks to try!

7. Paper Cutter
Scissors are cool, but paper-cutters are waaaay more awesome when it comes to quick-cuts for straight lines and nice right angles. There are a bazillion ones to choose from out there. My parents got an office-style one for me for Christmas last year that doesn’t travel, but has blades that can switch out for scoring, perforating, etc. It’s pretty sweet. I think they were sick of me stealing my dad’s from his office. I don’t even know how I bothered to cut with scissors before that…talk about the Stone Age.

8. Adhesive
A good adhesive makes the difference between a page that is a total flop when you pick it up, and a page that is a total champ when you scrunch it into that clear sleeve. Note: Not all adhesives are created equally. I like the tape runner type, and I always make sure to buy ones that are acid free, especially when it comes to sticking my photos down. I only have permanent right now, but sometimes I wish I had the movable kind, especially when it comes to scrapbooking. You can always seal the deal once you’ve definitely made yourself happy with a layout. For scrapbooks, I suppose you would never need to use permanent if it’s in a sleeve, but for cards, the more permanent the better; I don’t think that the Postal Service always treats my parcels with the fragile daintiness that they deserve. Right now, I’m using Tombow Mono Adhesive DOTS Permanent; this is a wonderful upgrade from the non-dots. The dots roller never gets gunked up! It's fantastic!

9. Perfect Pearls
What can I say? I’m a girl and I like sparkly things. Stick a bit of Perfect Pearls in the Mini Mister by Ranger and shake it up with some good ol’ H2O and you’re good to go spray any surface you want to make perfectly pearly awesome. I didn’t realize that you could purchase them separately when I bought mine, so I got a set of 4 metallics, but you can also buy them singly, at least in the original Perfect Pearl color (so far, it’s the only color I’ve used). I probably use this more than I should, but it’s just so darn pretty! This probably wouldn’t be a necessity for everyone, but it is for me.

10. Babywipes
I know! Sounds weird. But nothing makes clean-up easier than a nice box of babywipes. They clean wet ink off of stamps (except Staz-On--need something special for that!) and are great at mopping up anything and everything off of a craft mat. Plus, they condition stamps, can smell good if you so choose, are cheap, and are very readily available. Woot.

11. White Gel Pen
White gel pens seem like they wouldn't be needed all that often, but you have NO idea. They are awesome for contrast writing on darker cardstock, and they are my absolute new favorite embellishment tool for faux stitching. My favorite is the Uni-Ball Signo Broad, but there are lots out there to choose from that come in different widths and have more or less translucent ability! Check out this great post (and video!) from Kristina Werner for a nice comparison of some of the best of the best.

So that is my top 11 for now; I’m sure it will evolve over time. Hope it’s helpful!

What about you guys? Do you have any items you think I missed? Think I included something that is far superseded by something else? Had a bad or great experience with any particular item? Leave a comment and let me know!

Happy crafting!