Throughout school and university, and into my work life as a teacher, I always dreaded deadlines, stressing about getting assignments and lessons completed long before the due date, yet putting things off until the last minute despite the stress that ensued. I would have thought that working for myself would rid the need for deadlines. Over the past year I haven't really bothered with them much, except for occasionally rushing to get some things completed for a big trade show or completing a custom order. However, last month I noticed that there were stacks and stacks of notebooks in various stages of assembly, all strewn across my workspace. After working here and there on these notebooks, I finally decided to set myself a due date for which to complete the half-notebooks that were cluttering my space. I gave myself a week to accomplish this, and found that instead of being sidetracked by Facebook, or thinking up some new idea of something I'd like to create, I would actually work on the notebooks whenever I had a chance, knowing that I had a clear time limit. By Friday, I had completed all I had set out to do and was able to tidy up my workspace and think of which project I wanted to start next. I've given myself a new project for this week, with another Friday deadline. After learning how to make awesome envelopes, I've sort gone overboard and made hundreds. Inspired by the designs, I've been creating matching notecards and putting them into sets with mailing stickers and a self-designed wrap-around label. Friday will hopefully arrive with neat stacks of packaged envelope/notecard/label sets... Now to get off the computer and get to WORK!
A little while ago a photojournalist from the Western Producer came out to my farm to interview me about New Leaf and take some photos of me working (article pending...). Although I (along with Cecelia) started this business and have been working on it for the past year, the questions made me feel as if I was taking an exam for which I was totally unprepared. Thinking on the spot and trying to transfer those thoughts into words can be a real challenge for me and if the reporter gets anything meaningful out of what I said, then wow! I'll be surprised. And impressed.
Now writing on the other hand, I can deal with SO much better. So I thought I'd say here what I failed to express the other day. The guy asked me how New Leaf connects to my life on the farm and while yes, as I said, nature does inspire me (cheesy and overused? sigh...), there is a deeper connection. I grew up in the city, so living out in the remote hills is a new thing for me. Living close to the land, I see cycles. Our water comes from a well dug specifically for us, it flows through pipes I saw laid in the dirt, into our house and back out through pipes to a lagoon that was dug as I watched. Since a garbage truck doesn't come to pick up our trash, we need to burn our waste. Whatever we bring in to this place and use up needs to go somewhere, so the less we need to burn the better. Some goes in the compost pile, lots is sorted into bins to be recycled, and other things are re-used. I love the idea of re-using. I feel connected to my own history when I cut an envelope or a flyer I got in the mail to fit into a notebook for New Leaf. My grandma grew up during the 1930s; paper was scarce and precious and every scrap was saved and used. I imagine I am doing the same thing, collecting seemingly useless pieces of paper, cutting and binding them together and creating something beautiful in the process. Instead of burning these bits, I give them a new life -a notebook that will be cherished by a writer or artist or dreamer. I'm a part of a cycle of reducing the amount of crap that is forgotten in a pile or burned as waste. I have a hand in preserving the history of something tangible.
I live in a space of wild and magnificent prairie and I want to protect that beauty. I passionately want to avoid using up resources like my own wild space by reusing rather than buying new, and instead of adding to immense piles of junk.
That's what I would have liked to articulate, had my brains and mouth been a bit more cooperative...
The weather here over the past few days has been atrociously cold and I am happily wallowing in the fact that I don't really need to leave the house. Today I've been cutting paper and creating notebook covers, building up our stock to list online and send to a store in Regina (yay! Another actual brick and mortar shop wants to sell our stuff!). Working at home isn't always easy (especially since I have the attention span of a gnat) as I try to balance motherhood, making stuff, keeping the house in a liveable state and attempting to keep us all fed. But I love it more than I even thought possible. I glory in my routine of getting up early to work a bit before the house awakes, getting to exercise during the day, being able to start a loaf of bread baking in between emailing contacts, packaging orders, and binding another notebook. I think it's great that my evening "prep" time now consists of sitting on the couch watching episodes of Battlestar Gallactica while embroidering pillows and drawing new designs for notebooks. I love deciding for myself what I'll tackle today and what I'll leave for another winter Wednesday. Me, an entrepreneur...Who would have guessed that would happen?
You know how it's hard to work when everything is a mess? Well, you should have seen my work space. Actually, on second thought, you should NOT have seen it...and I'm glad there aren't any pictures. However, it will be hard for you to appreciate how great it looks and feels to me now without comparing the before. Let me just say this, picture piles of fabric and stuff...EVERYwhere! Looking at it now, I am almost satisfied. Of course, the idea of a permanent office is what I look forward to, but this, THIS new 'organized', albeit in a dishevelled way, workspace is simply GLORIOUS!!
You'll notice I DID give you a picture of my old sewing box...I hated it. But, what could I do? I was opposed to going out and buying a new one at WalMart and none of the second hand stores had one. However, total treat, this afternoon I transferred all my sewing stuff into my new second hand sewing box, as well as all the thread I bought a few months ago at Salvation Army from a bag to my old box.
Maria brought me a second hand treat yesterday (along with a London Fog) and totally made my day. (After which I made my day by facebooking her a message - "thanks a latte". Haha. I crack myself up:). Thank you Salvation Army and Maria!
It seems appropriate that I've been procrastinating this blog post, considering it's about getting organized. It's a new year for New Leaf, and I have great goals of how organized I'll be this year, while more than likely, things will remain as ever. Putting things off till the last minute, my mess of a workspace overflowing until I have to do something about it in order to see the actual desk... Though you wouldn't know it by looking at the mounds of clutter surrounding my work area, I really do love being organized. I've been finding some great tools for staying organized, both in record keeping and in physical office space, so I thought I'd share a few of these gems.
I love baskets -it's so easy to toss stuff into them, but if you have lots, there's still some organization, and they hide things so well. These are from sewingmomma on Etsy. I love the neutral linen fabric with the flowers to spruce them up.
What kind of a shop owner would I be if I didn't plug my own goods? Really though, I have one of these memo boards above my desk. Not only does it look lovely, it helps keep stray bits of paper organized. Where to find yours? At newleafhandmade on Etsy, of course.
Again, I love places to stash things. I also like the idea of them stuck to the wall, unable to disappear. You can find these and ones in other styles from Thitaree on Etsy.
Etsy shops, from left to right: Magnets from fridgeFancies, Twig Pencils from brionesandco, Button Thumbtacks from ButtonUpsDesigns.
And if I had space for some bigger things:
Etsy shops from left to right: Green Shelf from TRwoodworks, Metal Drawers from TagSaleFinds, White Shelf from usacreations, Ribbon Caddy from pattyspaperprojects.
And for any other small business owners who love great record-keeping tools:
I've pretty much given up trying to do anything productive over this past week, what with Christmas coming and attending celebrations here and there, along with a head cold to mess with my brains.
So instead of making things, mostly I've been dreaming of the space I will someday have where I will make those things... Right now I work in the back corner of my living room. It's cramped and small and disorganized and messy most days.
There is a shed on my yard that is presently filled with storage, but will one day (with the help of time, time, more time, and some money) be my sweet haven of creativity. I can see it now: a half loft with shelves to store extra materials and a pillow covered couch to rest and dream of new things...The main level of the studio will have shelf-lined walls. On these shelves will be stacks and stacks of fabric, visible in all their glory instead of packed away in the bins they are in today. The shelves not loaded with fabrics will have fabric boxes and baskets full of paper and ribbon and buttons, patterns and thread, old books and wire bindings... And more shelves yet will display my many art books and sketchbooks brimming with brilliant ideas. There will be a big laundry sink to wash paint brushes and other things. A big desk on one wall to spread out the binding machine and papery goods, a big table in the middle to lay out fabric goods and to cut material. And I'll have cork boards and chalkboards (made be me!) to organize my thoughts and plans. Sigh... Someday...
Today I hung a big framed cork board above my computer in my living room nook. I made it for myself (for Christmas maybe?) as a place to organize my plans for another year of creating and making. A tiny little start to a big project, it's a start for my one-day studio.
Maria & Cecelia
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