Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Time Management Series - The LIST

So, I have tried to write this article on time management so many times by now that my deadline for getting it done has sufficiently passed! You may be able to relate to this - that you are over scheduled, and so much so, that even the things and maybe especially the things that you like to do get shuffled to the bottom of the list ... doomed to never be finished!

The truth is that time management is easy for some, and downright impossible for others! Unfortunately, no one sells extra hours, a magic pill to make you super organized, or an easy button to get all of your things done. Well ... maybe a magic pill but not without horrible side effects or possible jail time! The only thing you can do is either do it yourself or pay (or bribe) someone else into doing it, and unfortunately money gets in the way of hired help for most of us.

I don't have some earth shattering system to introduce you to or some new way of completing all of those mundane things that you hate. However, I have come up with a way of doing things that actually motivates me and helps to keep me on track.

So, What is this system? A LIST

Now the way that I keep and do my list is a little different, but at the end of the day I get things accomplished and I feel good about what I have done, and any good motivator will tell you that this feeling of accomplishment really is the most important thing.

So, go make a list of everything you want to accomplish, but also include things that you want to do and get enjoyment from doing ... even things that you would otherwise consider indulgent! Things like watching your favorite TV show or spending time with family or friends are just as important as scrubbing toilets and mopping floors. These are the things that will energize you, calm your soul, and keep you going to get the less appealing things completed.

Now some people will tell you to prioritize and do the most important things first, but I am telling you to just do something on the list! You may not feel like doing the most important thing first thing in the morning. Having your coffee and reading a book or magazine might be more motivating to you first thing. Just do one thing on your list and get it checked off! Just the act of checking something off on your list will most likely help you to continue doing something else on the list.

Now go ... make that list!! Start checking things off!!

Next Tuesday I'll be talking about workaholics and making time for fun stuff!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back To School Contest Finalists

Wow! What an awesome turnout for this contest! AAG team members entered 34 items tagged Back2School and I've selected 10 of the top entries to be voted on for a winner. The winner will receive a prize package with gifts from fellow AAG members as well as some crafty supplies.

1. Macro Shot of Wooden Ruler by CarlaDyck

2. ABC Initial Necklace (Choose your Letter) by ThatOldBlueHouse2

All entries are available for sale from the selected shops. You may only vote once for a winner. Voting will be open until September 2nd at which time a winner will be announced!

Back to School Contest Winner

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Things We Collect

As a collector of many different things, I find the things that people collect and fill their homes with to be fascinating. I have to wonder how this got started, this having things in our homes, that in some cases don't serve any functional purpose, but are just pleasant for us to look at. It may sound silly, but I think about the early cavemen and women, and wonder if the thought occurred to them to collect pretty rocks to decorate their caves with.  

I also think about the question of "when does collecting become an obsession bordering on hoarding?" I know this is something I struggle with personally, as I tend to look for more of what I already have too much of, even though I have more than I will ever have room for and wind up having to store a lot of it or give it away. 

These are the collections of some of the members of the Aspiring Artisans Guild. Some of these collections do serve a purpose, and/or remind the collector of another time in their lives, and some are just things that we think are interesting. 

I'll start with Sarah-Lambert of Tuckooandmoocow. She collects these awesome vintage board games, and this is what she had to say about her collection. 

Among other things, I collect vintage board games. It's not that modern games aren't fun--they definitely are--but something about playing a game that's exactly the same as it was when my dad played with it is really great to me. My favorites are what's pictured: Broadsides and Boarding Parties, Zorro: the board game, The Phantom: the board game, Survive, Kingmaker, and 221 B Baker Street. 

When I was a kid, my dad collected any and everything he had loved but lost when he was a kid. Part of this meant replacing board games, so a huge amount of what we played as a family were vintage board games. I loved it! I think it's my nostalgic nature that compels me with any of my collections. Really what I like to collect are memories and these board games are a part of that.

All of them were given to me by my dad except 221B Baker Street (my husband gave that to me for Christmas). The Zorro game actually was the childhood game of one of my favorite teachers when I was in grade school. My dad is a HUGE Zorro collector and so my teacher gave it to him.

Next is Jocelyn from Flowerleaf. Jocelyn collects owl things. I have to admit that I'm a fan of owls too, after getting absorbed in the whole Molly and McGee internet phenomenon and watching two of their clutches hatch and fledge the nest. 

Here's a few things that Jocelyn had to say about her owls. 

I am not sure why, but I have loved owls since I was very young and there's just something about their entireness that appeals to me.  They seem to have a lot going on behind their eyes and they just fascinate me. Four of these owls come from sellers on Etsy, one of them being my sister and fellow team member Kimberly of Cyneburgsfield Design. She does pyrography and created this owl design knowing how much I love owls. 

The other two owls come from the awesome Mary of ArtTales and my older sister gifted the owl keychain from Cuore who has such a cute shop!  I also made a necklace using the large locket that I purchased from blueecho2 because the owls are just amazing on that locket.  

Owls are neat and I have to tell myself not to buy owls on clothing sometimes...I don't want to be known as the "Owl Lady".   

Next we have Bridget, who runs the shop AeridesDesigns on Etsy. Bridget collects McCoy pottery.  As someone that has a couple of McCoy pieces, and a china and pottery collector myself, I find the nostalgic beauty of these to be quite appealing. Here's what she had to say about her collection. 

I wish I had a romantic back story to why I started collecting McCoy Pottery, but I have to admit I was mainly inspired by Martha Stewart. I think she had a small book on collecting in her "Good Things" series back in the mid-90's that featured McCoy, Lu Ray and some others. I often spent weekends scouring through Antique stores and started picking up a few pieces when I found a nice deal. Then along came eBay - especially in the early days eBay was great for finding wonderful pieces of vintage from small private sellers at great prices...so I went a little crazy for a while and ended up with more pieces than I have room to display! I sold a few after a while, once I refined my collection to the styles I liked best. But the ones I kept I have in various spots in my house, and they are mine to keep now. When I started shopping on Etsy, I looked through some of the vintage shops to think about adding to my collection, but I haven't found something I had to have...yet!

I tend to favor pastel vases. McCoy runs the gamut from elegant to whimsical. From tall fluted grecian urns, to wishing well planters and strawberry cookie jars - the latter of which never really tempted me.  I collected mainly for my personal taste without regard for establishing an heirloom - so I often picked up pieces with slight blemishes that "serious" collectors avoided, at more economical prices. The height of the company production success took place in the middle of the last century. McCoy, like a lot of other factory-created pieces from that era, has quite a range in quality from the pieces produced when a mold is fresh - lovely crisp well defined patterns - to the end of use - not so much! Glaze drips, bubbles, misses, all help reduce the price, but add to the character of the pieces. 

These three pieces from the Butterfly collection are a pretty good indication of the output range - the blue vase on the left being a really nice crisp example, the urn kind of in the middle, and the white vase clearly "end of the line".

Most McCoy is marked either "McCoy" or "NM McCoy" on the bottom, but many pieces can simply say "USA" or nothing, particularly from the earlier lines. I really liked this fluted vase, so when I found a 2nd I made a pair. They perch on either side of a window sill today. I use some smaller planters for violets.

Our next collector is Michelle of BarkingBirds. Michelle, like myself, is a doll collector. Here are some of her dolls and a few words about them. 

My mother and grandmother are both doll collectors, but the bug didn't really hit me until I saw my first Blythe 5 years ago. My grandfather had just passed and I was going through a really rough time since we were very close. 

I came acoss Blythe on Flickr. I thought to myself "this is a doll adults can actually play with", which was completely different from the porcelain dolls most doll collectors I knew collected. I got my first Blyte and named her Bunny. She's the blonde in the photo wearing the blue dress. It has just snowballed into a much bigger collection than I ever imagined, including all sorts of dolls and toys.

The boy there is Wataru, that is Licca's friend. The other photo is of my Sindy collection. I have a pretty big collection, but a lot of them are packed up. These guys are my favorites and pretty much stay out all the time. The Licca dolls are both vintage and repro Japanese dolls. Kind of like Japan's version of Barbie. The Blythe dolls are all repros made in Japan of the original Kenner Blythe from 1972. One of these days I will get my hands on a Kenner!

Next we have Stephanie of oldworldprimitives, who isn't on the AAG team any longer, but we're happy that she wanted to share her collection with us. Stephanie has collected these lovely model horses since she was a young girl, and had this to say about her ponies. 

This is about 1/4 of my Breyer model horse collection.  I've had most of them since the 1980s.  The model horses in this cabinet are the only ones that I still have on display - the rest are carefully packed away now.  (I've been thinking that I really need to sell them for years now, but it's hard to part with them after so long.)  I used to avidly enter them in photo shows through the mail when I was a young teen, and when I got older I also entered some in live model horse shows.  This is some serious geekery here. 

I also have very realistic, to-scale tack and props, like jumps for them. I started my first business when I was 13, selling model horse props and repainting services through the mail. That's how I got the money to buy SO many of them. I also used my profits to buy an electric guitar. :)

Next up is Laura Johnston of the shops leanimale and LauraJohnston. She collects these adorable little animal figurines and shared some of the inspiration behind her collection. 

This is most of my collection. It's not the biggest collection in the world but I love it! I've had collections of various sorts throughout my life, but this particular one started coming together about 2-3 years ago. Before then I always adored miniatures and had -some- but I didn't consider it a collection really. You can see in this collection that I do have some older pieces and those are saved from my childhood. Toys that remind me of playing with my brother and sister growing up.

On the left is an adorable little tiger I found at a flea market in Virginia. I thought he was so cute and I just love that he has a secret hiding place inside with a paw print. How fun! In the middle, towards the front, you can see my tiny sandal wood elephant from India.  I kept going back to it in this one little shop, admiring it, but I never bought him. Later when my boyfriend and I were back from our trip he surprised me with it.  : )

Next to the tiger, on the left, is a little plastic cheetah that my sister and I played with so much when we were younger, evidenced by his worn-out coat. Cheetahs have always been my very favorite.

The silver koala, next to the elephant on the right, is my newest addition. I found it from a seller on Etsy in Australia (cobaltbluedragon).  I couldn't pass him up... I mean, there's a baby koala riding on his back!

The colorful rabbit towards the back is another sweet gift from my boyfriend. I was born in the year of the rabbit, and he picked this up for me on his last trip to Taiwan.

This is my Swarovski Simba. My boyfriend got this for my birthday this year and took me to see The Lion King on Broadway.  I'm kind of a huge fan of The Lion King (and Disney).

Lastly, there's me, Mari of frighten and Frankenkitty.

I collect all sorts of things, from antique german china to vintage hard plastic dolls and indian marionettes, but one of my biggest and probably my strangest collection are my vintage doll heads. I'm not sure how my collection snowballed into this many, but I think finding a couple of sellers on Ebay that were selling huge lots of them had something to do with it.

My first doll head, which you can see in the second photo, on the top between the "not happy" letters, came from a flea market about four years ago. I was just browsing the tables and happened to notice this beat up, creepy-as-hell looking doll head. She had no eyes, which to me, made her even more appealing. I thought it was the creepiest thing I had ever seen, and of course, being a photographer, knew I could make use of it in my photos. 

About this time, I started to become interested in photographing antique dolls and doll parts when I went into over-priced shops around Manhattan. Some of these were so expensive, or weren't even for sale, so photographing them had to be enough. After seeing so many expensive ones in the shops, I thought I'd see what I could find on Ebay that I could afford. 

That was about four years ago, and somehow I now have over 50 of them. One of the things that I like most about these little guys is that although they are all similar, they are also different from each other in one way or another. They each have their own facial expressions, be it happy, sad or just observant. 

I realize how strange they must seem, but because I live with them all the time, I forget how creepy they must look to other people. Don't worry, though. I haven't given them names...yet. 

This was fun to put together, everyone. Thank you for sharing! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Images and Inspiration

"Everyone is in awe of the lion tamer in a cage with half a dozen lions - everyone but a school bus driver."
           ~Dr. Laurence J. Peter