Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pat Bravo GiveAway [Winner Announced]

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Good Morning!

  Thank you, thank you, to everyone who entered the Pat Bravo FQ GiveAway.  I hope you enjoyed learning about Pat and her beautiful fabric and designs as much as I did!
  Tomorrow I have a feature post planned to show off another quilter and her fabulous hand-sewn quilt project... it's amazing and you don't want to miss it!

Now for the winner:

Yayyyy, Margaret!  I have sent an email and hope to hear from you soon!

* * *
Did you know SoChick! Handbags The Shop is OPEN?  Check it out!

XxOo~ Melissa

Monday, January 30, 2012

SoChick! Handbags [The Shop is OPEN!]

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I could do a major *happy dance* this morning... after learning that even the best laid plans can fail, here I am re-opening my shop as scheduled!!

In the shop you will find new & returning styles and three fresh fabric combinations... all ready to ship!

I am in love with all of the new colors: Aqua Spring, "Just Peachy" Chevron, and Cobalt Sunshine.

I'm also excited about the new styles (with more to come!):

[NEW STYLE: The Savannah Tote]

Shown in Aqua Spring

[New Style: SoChick! Coin Pouch]

Shown in Cobalt Sunshine

This ["Just Peachy" Chevron] colorway is a Limited Edition, once these items sell out, they will be gone for good.

*"Just Peachy" Chevron items shown here: Perfectly Pleated Pouch, Savannah Tote, & Coin Pouch.*

Now, you can purchase coordinating pieces from SoChick!  Colorful ways to stay organized and "Everyday Chic"!

And, because I can't turn down pretty fabric, I will still add "OOAK" (One-Of-A-Kind) items to the shop; they will label be labeled as such.

So, head on over and check out what's new at SoChick! The Shop!

**Don't forget: Today is the last day to Enter {this} GiveAway for Pat Bravo fabric!**

XxOo~ Melissa

Friday, January 27, 2012

Insta-Friday & A SoChick Sneak Peek!

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Have you noticed the lack of posting this week?  That's because I'm a one-woman operation and have been sewing like crazy to get things ready for the re-opening of SoChick! Handbags (The Shop) on MONDAY!!! Eeeeek! I am so super excited for you to see whats going to be in there!

Today I'm linking with Life Rearranged to give you my week in photos, and a Shop Sneak Peek... Enjoy!
life rearranged

Early in the week I made Stuffed Cabbage, my Hungarian Grandmother (Nan) made the best stuffed cabbage. Ever.  I try my best to get it right, from memory, every time.

Super warm to start the week here in Coastal North Carolina... I LOVE it!

I also love when my husband stops at Costco after work and brings home a case of VitaCoco for me!

Yesterday's lunch, delish!

Aaaand, although it's windy and dreary, this temp is a Very nice way to end the week:

After months of planning and weeks of being closed, my SoChick! Shop is re-opening on Monday, January 30th... here's a sneak peek for you!

Also, I'm proud to say my oldest Daughter is a Straight A student!  We were very pleased with yesterday's report card!  This weekend will be busy with gymnastics and girl scouts as well as final prep for the Shop!  Have a wonderful one!

**Have you entered the GiveAway for a Free Fat Quarter from Pat Bravo? Enter HERE.**

XxOo~ Melissa

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Meet Quilter & Fabric Designer Pat Bravo! [Featured Site & A GiveAway]

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Busy, busy, busy, getting the shop ready to re-open; meeting several speed bumps along the way which are slowing me down, but that's never stopped me before; I'm determined.  I get excited every time I step back and look at what's cookin' for the Shop re-opening on Monday, January 30th... Save the date!

* * *

Today, I'm sharing another [Featured Site] from the list over to the right.  This quilter and fabric designer's patterns and use of color, oooh the colors, make me swoon... not to mention I daydream of all the lovelyness I could stitch up with such beautiful fabric.

Today's featured site is Quilter and Fabric Designer Pat Bravo!

Visit Pat Bravo on Facebook!

When you first land at Pat Bravo's website you are immediately captured by its beautiful design, browse around a bit and you'll learn that Pat is from Buenos Aires, learned to sew when she was 9, moved to the US in 1989, is a self-taught quilter, fabric & sewing pattern designer, and owner of Art Gallery Fabrics (with her Husband)... whew!  Inspiring? I think, Yes!

Some of Pat Bravo's fabulous fabric [via]

I love Pat's fresh prints and use of color (the pops of color in her collections are nothing short of fantabulous!)... I especially love that her site is filled with inspiration as well as Free Projects:

Every time I look through the fabric collections and projects, I find myself adding something else to my "to-sew" list; when reading Pat's Bio and visiting her Facebook page, you can really feel her passion for what she does and I ♥ that!

I am super happy to tell you that Pat Bravo has been generous enough to share a taste of her lovely fabric with one lucky SoChick! reader, by way of a Free Fat Quarter! (You can use your FQ to make a small accessory, add it to a scrappy quilt, or fall deeply in love with Pat's fabrics and feed your addiction by buying a whole FQ Bundle to make an entire Pat Bravo quilt, using one of her Free Projects of course... Probably this is what I would do, seeing as there is always a good reason to buy more fabric!)

Enter to Win a Free Fat Quarter from Pat Bravo:

Mandatory Entry:

-"Like" Pat Bravo's Facebook page and leave a comment here telling me that you did so.

Additional Entries:

-Leave a sweet comment on Pat's Facebook page and tag SoChick! Handbags & Embroidery*
- Share Pat Bravo's Facebook Page with your friends*
- Facebook or Tweet about this giveaway*

*Leave a comment here for each additional entry [Include the link to your Post or Tweet, please]

GiveAway Deets:

-GiveAway is open through Monday, January 30th at 11:59pm EST, the winner will be randomly drawn via Random.org and announced here on my SoChick! blog on or around Tuesday the 31st.

-This giveaway is open to everyone... because everyone could use more super pretty fabric in their life, right? Right!

-The Fat Quarter will be of Pat's choosing

So get on it, and enjoy! 

***REMEMBER: If you comment as "Anonymous" be sure to leave your email address or some way for me to reach you should you win!*** Xo~M

XxOo~ Melissa

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Journey: Sewing to SoChick! [Part 2]

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Thanks for coming back to read more about my Sewing Journey [Part2]!  (If you missed it, please read Part 1, Here)

[Feeding the Addiction]

For Christmas of 2008, I was given the most awesome gift a newly addicted sewer could ask for: a sewing/embroidery combo machine!  [Read about my Singer Futura, Here]   This new darling and I were going to quickly become great friends and embark on an awesome adventure.

With my new machine, I began making bags and embroidered gifts for friends and family, then my friends started asking if they could buy bags from me to gift to their friends and family! I loved experimenting with patterns and tweaking them with my ideas; I started a notebook to keep track of what I was doing and what I needed to improve on.

 In 2009, I started dreaming of what it would be like to leave my day job, working full-time at a local Animal Hospital (which I enjoyed, but not like I loved sewing!).  I also started planning how I could start a business and grow into it being a full-time opportunity, while allowing myself to be more available to my two daughters.

[SoChick! Handbags is Born]

Almost a year later, around Christmastime, 2009, things became pretty busy in the way of sewing handbags; it was also an eye-opener... between working 40hrs a week at my day job and coming home to work on orders for friends (not to mention caring for my family!), I realized I needed to seriously plan to make SoChick! happen in 2010, and that's what I did!

With a vision of creating beautiful handmade bags and accessories that are a part of our everyday lives, using fun and fresh fabrics; as well as a desire to encourage others to buy and create handmade... SoChick! was born.  Why "So Chick"?  Well, it started as a play on the term "So Chic",  when I hear Chic I think of class and sophistication, SoChick is simply the "Everyday Chic for Everyday Chicks"... timeless designs paired with fun/fresh fabrics from today's fabric designers, made for everyday women.  A way of showing that handmade is chic, functional and fashionable.

SoChick's Market Tote
I researched how to start a business, the licensing required & tax information (because it is important to do things the proper way!), I drew up a Plan, talked to my Husband and spent countless hours on the phone with both my Stepmother and Mother-In-Law (who continue to be so helpful in listening to my ideas and dreams); in August 2010 a series of events led me to take the leap... I left my job at the Animal Hospital and started SoChick! Handbags & Embroidery full-time.
SoChick's Perfectly Pleated Pouches
SoChick! has grown so much from day one; I completely enjoy being able to create my heart out, spend time with my children, and share my passion with all of you!  I am confident that 2012 will bring even more for this little business of mine... thank you for joining me in this journey!

Note: I am inspired by, and have learned a ton from, Lisa Lam of U-handblog; as well as Kim Kight and her website, Trueup.net "All Fabric, All The Time".  Both sites are well worth checking out if you love sewing and fabric!  

XxOo~ Melissa

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Journey: Sewing to SoChick! [Part 1: The Beginning]

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I want to share with you where my love of sewing began, blossomed, and how SoChick! was started.  I am breaking this into two posts... Part 2 will be up tomorrow... I didn't want to over-do it. *wink*

First, if you haven't already, check out my post [About Me: The Chick Behind SoChick!], I feel like that is a great starting point to learning more about me.

[My Exposure to Sewing]

Growing up, I didn't learn how to run a sewing machine.  I knew that my grandmother (Nan) had one, she always told me about making things for her four sons (my Dad included); my Nan taught me how to sew/mend by hand.  I remember putting buttons on things for my Dad, as needed.  

When I was in 7th or 8th grade, I took the only home-ec class I would ever attend in my life.  We purchased kits to make pillows, all of the sewing was done by hand.  My pillow was a whale, I turned it in and received an A; I kept the remaining fabric from the kit and sewed a small pillow for my room.

In high school I remember my future-Stepmother reupholstering her sofa using solid and print sheets.  I helped her with applying the fabric covered buttons for the tufted back cushions.  She used this beautiful sage green for the main color and piped and trimmed the cushions in an Ivory/Sage print... I was, and still am, SO impressed by her skills.  She also made my Stepsister's wedding gown... yeah, impressive!

Finally, when I married my husband, I learned that my Mother-In-Law was quite crafty; she introduced me to crochet and Machine Embroidery.  I have some beautiful dresses and rompers for my little chicks that she has made... as well as quilts and embroidered towels and such.  She, too, is very impressive!!

[Learning to Sew]

My Nan's  1970's Brother Sewing machine was passed down to me, it is in a case and super heavy.  I had it for some time before deciding to actually attempt using it.  In March of 2008, my husband and I learned we were expecting our second daughter... shortly thereafter I decided I needed to learn to use that machine I had in the attic!

I hauled it out, happy to see that the user manual was in there, along with everything else my Nan had stored in the case... small scraps that she tested stitches on, metal bobbins wound with the tread that matched whatever it was she had last sewn, even the little pin cushion she used... okay, I'll admit, it was a bit emotional at first, sitting and looking at this machine, feeling this connection I was about to have with my Nan, who passed away in 2004.

I skimmed the manual, picked up the phone and called my Stepmom... "How in the world do I thread this thing?".  Several phone calls later, to both my Stepmom and my MIL, along with some browsing on the internet... I picked up some fabric, (that my MIL had given me from her visit to NY's Garment District, amazing how things come full circle, right?!), and decided on my first project, A diaper bag...

Seriously, my first machine-sewn item was my second daughter's diaper bag, which I made while pregnant with her.  I found a tutorial online for a basic tote and had my way with it... giving it two shoulder straps, with interior pockets, adding four exterior pockets and a removable base to keep its shape:

Of course it wasn't perfect, but it was functional, has held up like you wouldn't believe (we still use it for trips to the beach), and I. made. it. myself!!  It was clear after this bag that I was going to LOVE making bags... I needed to learn more, hone my skills, create beautiful bags with beautiful fabric!  My list of bookmarked websites grew, as did my fascination with handbag construction/design and love of fresh fabric designs/prints.

* * *

Please stop by tomorrow to read Part 2 of [My Journey: Sewing to SoChick!]

XxOo~ Melissa

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Meet Tiffany from The Paisley Tab [Featured Site]

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You will notice on the right sidebar that I have some links to other blogs and sites... I decided that I don't really care to call these "Sponsors" (I don't charge for space over there), these are now SoChick's "Featured Sites", which I feel is a much more appropriate term.  These are sites that I enjoy; whether they are other handmade shops or blogs, I think they have something to offer my readers and are worth checking out!

Today's featured site is The Paisley Tab.  Tiffany has a great blog about sewing, coffee, and fashion, etc... (She had me at "sewing" and "coffee" *wink*) as well as a cute handmade shop.  Read on to learn a little more about Tiffany and her blog, then go check her out!

* * *

Meet Tiffany:

I'm a thirty-something year old girl, crazy in love with Jesus Christ, my husband and kitty: vera.  Obsessed with coffee, fashion, sewing, and traveling.  I live a blessed life.  I’m originally from central Illinois, but am now reside north of Indianapolis.  My blog started back in 2007 - I picked up blogging and dropped it soon after.  I dabbled in it here in there in 2008, 2009, but finally became serious about blogging in September 2010.  In the beginning, I mostly blogged about fashion and coffee (hence the name coffee talks and cat walks) But over the course of the past year, I picked up sewing and started blogging about my new hobby and the stuff I was making.   

- ~What is your favorite craft/hobby and why?
Sewing!  When I’m not sewing, I’m day dreaming about sewing.  I studied fashion merchandising in college and was required to take numerous sewing/clothing construction/tailoring courses.  That was 10 years ago, and I knew I wasn’t going to end up going into fashion design, so I wasn’t into that part of learning my degree – therefore, I did what I needed to do to get through each class to pass.  Now – I’m a crazy, die-hard sewing addict & just wish that I would’ve had the appreciation for sewing back then.  When I decided to get back into sewing a year ago, I had to retake sewing classes and read up because I had forgotten everything I had learned. 

-  ~What is a skill or craft you would like to learn? (This can be related to your business/craft/hobby or something you don’t currently do, i.e.- learn to sew, hand embroider, knit, crochet, scrapbook, etc.)
Does cooking count as a skill I’d like to learn?  I know how to cook, but I’d like to improve on it! 

-  ~Share one fun quirk about yourself. (Are you a closet neat freak? Do you have a favorite book you read over and over?  Do you keep a secret stash of candy in your craft room ?  Go ahead, spill it!)
Secrets…..hmmm?  I kiss my cat on the lips.  I’m obsessed about my kitty, she is my only child. ;)
I’m also a little obsessed with reality tv. 

Thanks bunches for being a part of SoChick! The Blog, I am excited for my readers to get to know more about you!

XxOo~ Melissa

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up [Craftsy BOM Progress]

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I hope you were able to enjoy the three day weekend... my 8yr old is back to school today, getting her up and ready this morning was a bit of a task.

I didn't take a full three days off, I decided to work on Saturday and also was able to send out SoChick's first newsletter of the new year! Are you signed up?  If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the newsletter; if not, feel free to subscribe under the "Newsletter" tab to the right.

On Sunday I worked on my personal sewing projects, my After Christmas Sew Along and my Craftsy Blocks of the Month (BOM).  I'm really enjoying the time spent on these two projects.  Because I spent time with the BOMs, I didn't get the entire top of my Sew Along project finished, but I'm sure I will this weekend.. then I can layer it and start quilting it! Woo Hoo!

I watched my Craftsy lesson earlier in the week and printed the instructions for the January blocks so that I could work on them Sunday.

Here are my Craftsy blocks for January:

Asterisk Block

Wonky Pound Sign Block
If you haven't checked out the Free Craftsy BOM Lesson, and are interested in learning to quilt... you need to sign up! (Click on the Craftsy block to the right, under "What's Stitchin'", that will bring you to the sign-up page).  I'm really enjoying the discussions and seeing everyone else's progress as well.  Also, you can check out my Craftsy Profile and follow me, HERE.

* * *

It's going to be a busy couple of weeks of sewing, sewing, sewing, at SoChick! Handbags!  

I finally received my wholesale order and am getting busy finishing up the products for The Shop's re-opening (Monday, January 30th)!!  I am SO excited for you to see the fabric combos and designs I've picked, fun and fresh inventory for "Everyday Chicks"!  I'm also anxious to get the shop opened so I can move onto my next SoChick! project of 2012... but, I'm not telling you what that is yet; I promise it's exciting stuff! (Especially if you currently sew or are learning... okay, that's enough hinting! *wink*)

* * *

I have a fun "Featured" post planned for tomorrow,  I urge you to come by and check it out, you may find the next blog for your reader or some great handmade goodies!

XxOo~ Melissa

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Shades! [My Completed Pinterest-Inspired DIY]

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Finally! Finally, finally, finally...I have finished the Roman Shades that I talked about doing, what seems like, forever ago.  And let me tell you... it feels Soooo grand to have this checked off of my DIY to-do list.  

What started as an idea to fix what my pup started turned into a necessity once we met with certain misfortune... throw in the holidays, and this project seemed it may never happen.

You can read about my original inspiration, and view the Pin, HERE.

The basic idea was to create custom Roman Shade-styled window treatments using fabric I love and mini-blinds.  The original idea is a no-sew, meaning you can just use good craft glue and make some blinds... easy peasy, right? Right... unless you are me and need to complicate your life.  Which, to me, isn't complicating, really... I think of it more as the "finishing touches"... or Icing on the cake?  I just like to have a more tailored look.

Anyway, here's what I changed from the original Pin:

I pressed and hemmed my fabric to be 1/2in wider than my blinds.  I'm not crazy about folding the fabric to the back of the blinds to glue, mostly because I'm one of those people who think about what the folks walking past my house may think.  (Note: I do not think there is a problem with folding the fabric to the back, it is just not my preference... don't judge me *wink*)

I then glued the top of my fabric to the top rail** of the mini blinds and marked for the slats every 9inches all the way down the fabric.  (This means I only needed 5 slats plus the bottom bar.)

**I glued to the back side of the top rail, meaning once my shades are mounted, the cord and little hook for the turning rod (that you don't need) will be on the window side.  This makes for a smooth finish to the front of my blinds.

Then, using fabric glue, and my trusty pointer finger, I smeared glue all along the convex side of the mini-blind slats, working with one at a time and keeping clear of the space the cord passes through. (I'd say I left 1/2in to either side of the cord, free of glue.)

I then aligned the edge of the slat with the 9inch marks and carefully rolled them onto the flat, smooth fabric.

I pressed the slat to the fabric then gently rolled up my fabric and slats so that I could smooth and press (with my hands, not an iron) the fabric on the front side of the slat as well.

Once I got to the bottom bar, I smeared the glue along the underside and short side of it and smoothed my fabric again... I trimmed off any remaining fabric.

I mounted them as I would normally install mini-blinds and here they are:

Aww, hi Marilyn! I mean, who? what? No, hunny, I don't see Marilyn on the couch! *wink* 

You must know by now that I loooove Amy Butler's Daisy Chain line and I looooove these shades.  They filter the light just enough, and the colors, the pattern... L-O-V-E.

I'm considering making a small valance to go across the top of them... what do you think?

I'm excited for the living room to be 100% finished, but that won't be until I get the sectional slip-covered... and that may take a while. *wink* 

Have you completed a Pinterest-Inspired DIY? Have you made your own version of these Roman Shades? Please tell me in the comments!

XxOo~ Melissa

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Operation: Organize our Kids' Room [Stage 1]

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[Stage 1: Complete]

When SoChick! began to grow, I took over the third bedroom in our townhouse as my Studio (see it here).  This meant that our daughter's became roommates and this worked well... 'till the older one got older and the little one got bigger... now, between an 8 year old, a 3-going-on-16 year old, and all of the extra 'stuff', things have gotten a little tight, and out of control!


[Operation: Organize our Kids' Room]

The Plan:
  Cut clutter: organize, sort, trash, donate, store.

  Paint: light grey, keeping pink accents

  Create a better use of space with a loft bed system, while keeping our oldest's trundle bed, cuz girls like to have sleepovers!

  Closet makeover: get better use from the extra long closet, and gain more usable space by removing the ridiculously huge door.

The Inspiration:

Via Pinterest, duh!

Source: houzz.com via Melissa on Pinterest

Source: hgtv.ca via Melissa on Pinterest

[Stage 1]  Was basically the hubs and I tackling the tremendous amount of stuff in the closet, and organizing the bookcase, all went well.  Things were sorted, trashed and I have a pile to donate.

I want to paint the room light grey, using what we have left from our living room.  I'd like for things to be a little more uniform, matching bedding, everything in its place, etc... I believe this will make it easier for two little girls to keep things tidy on their own (of course Mommy always helps when needed).  I also want to divide the closet to allow for each of my girls to have a space that is her own.

Whew! I'll keep you posted on our progress and share pictures when it's done!

XxOo~ Melissa

Monday, January 9, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up [DIY's & Sew Along Progress]

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  One of my personal goals for 2012 is to enjoy more time with my family and to keep weekends as work-free as possible.  Being that I work from home this isn't always going to be the case, but it's so important to have set work-time and off-time.  This weekend was off-time, for the most part, and it felt great... I am now ready to take the productivity from the past two days and put it into my new inventory for The Shop! (I can't wait to re-open at the end of the month so you can see the pretty fabrics!)

So, what was I productive at you ask? 

[Let me tell you!]

For Starters, on Saturday the Hubby and I completed Stage One of Operation: Organize Our Kids' Room!  This project has been a long time coming and I'm so happy we have finally started!  Let's hope the whole deal goes smoothly... I'll tell you more about it tomorrow, sneaky, I know! *wink*

[Now, Let me show you!]

I am finally getting around to finishing the roman shades that I wanted to do months ago.  I am happy to say that I have one shade complete and mounted! *happy dance*  I am planning to mount the second today... I'm in Loooove.

This is just a sneak peek... look for a post about these blinds later in the week. *wink*

I also made progress on the quilt I am making for the After Christmas Sew Along I talked about last week.  This weekend I joined the charm pairs with the setting rectangles to make strips that I then pressed.  Next weekend I will join the strips to complete the quilt top... things are coming along nicely!  

The pressed strips will live on the corner of my sewing table for now; I'm excited to finish this quilt by the end of January!  Click on the After Christmas Sew Along button in my right side bar to learn more, and join in!

Like I said... Productive!  Now let's hope it lasts the week!

Have a fabulous Monday...

XxOo~ Melissa

Friday, January 6, 2012

The [Idea] Notebook, Why You Need One

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If you sew, crochet, knit, craft, blog, or do anything you are passionate about and enjoy, you really should invest in a notebook for your thoughts. {Write that down, then keep reading for the Why}

I can't tell you how many times I have sat down to my sewing machine to start a project and my mind starts thinking of all of these great projects I can do next... before I'm even a dozen stitches into whatever it is I'm currently making.  My Notebook can tell you, though.

I am sure to keep it handy when I'm doing just about whatever and have gotten into a great habit of hunting it down when an idea pops into my head.

I will admit that I have more than one notebook, yep, I have about three.  True story! 

[My Go-to Gal]

This is my number one notebook, she's got divided sections that hold everything from business goals to sewing patterns, measurements and solid (to-do) ideas.  She's the one who sits on my cutting table while I prep, and next to my machine as I sew.  I have sketches in this notebook from the very first days of SoChick!, if not earlier! Like I said, Go-To. Gal.

[The Everything Notebook] 

  I always keep a brainstorming notebook, this would probably be all that I would use if I wasn't running my own sewing business and blogging (and if I was less neurotic about being organized... I'm a Virgo, ya know, that's how we roll.) This notebook is a jumble of ideas, if I have an idea for a DIY project, a bag design, fabrics, blogging, a sewing lesson, a to-do list... it all gets written in here.  I periodically go through and weed out the keepers and non- keepers.  The keepers I write in my Go-To Gal. See Above.  Or in my Blog "Planner". Keep reading.

[The Blog "Planner"]

Finally, because I do blog, I have a blog planner aka notebook.

I keep my ideas for posts in here when they come to me, I date the page, write up an outline and check it off when it's been scheduled or posted.

About once a week I will go through my blog notebook and 'schedule' my posts, typically writing them down on the calendar in my "Busy Mom" Planner:

The Idea Notebook is a great way to:

- Organize your thoughts:

- Set and track your Goals

- Reflect on what you've done and where you want to go. (Seriously, when you look back in your notebook, it feels great to see all of the projects you've checked off... because then you know it's time to dream up more!)

- Free up your brain!  Those ideas are floating around and trying to get out, set them free... in your notebook, and get back to them when it's convenient for you.

This quote is on my blog notebook, I love it.

XxOo~ Melissa
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