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Organization — Marjorie Towers


What do you do with the handmade cards that you receive?

We all jokingly say that no one better ever throw away one of our cards that we so carefully make and then send off.  But after awhile, those heartfelt creations start to pile up.  Well, I have a system and I thought I’d share it with you.  And I’d love to hear your comments on what you do with yours.

I have two ribbon boards in my studio.  I put all the cards for one event on one of these boards.  For me, I mainly get cards for my birthday, at Christmas and then for Valentine’s Day.  So right now, one of my boards is filled with birthday cars:

blog 1 15

And then the other board holds my Christmas cards:

blog 1 15 2

To make room for the Christmas cards, I took down last year’s Valentine cards and tied them up with a ribbon:

blog 1 15 3

These I will save for a year.  After a year, I go through and choose one or two favorites which go in a wooden box.  Some may have a technique that I want to copy and they go in a special binder.  The rest get repurposed*, if they can be. Those that can’t be are thrown away making room for the new favorites. (It’s kind of like going through your closet and getting rid of the clothes that no longer fit, are worn out, out of style or you just don’t like the way they look.)  Now you have room for the new!

Let me know what you do with yours!


*repurposed: remove the card front and attach it to another card base making a new card which you can send to any number of organizations that collect cards – for families of the sick, for the military, etc.   At Creating Lasting Memories we have a monthly “Stamp Your Heart Out” class where we make cards for the military.  We often repurpose cards.


Come the new year, you may think what you need to do is get your things organized.  I did a series of posts on that subject last year and I would encourage you to re-read them, or read them for the first time.  But I think there is something even more valuable for you to do.

For four years now I have been doing the One Little Word project (click on this category from the list on the right if you want to see my posts on the subject).

Every year I struggle a bit with remembering to be engaged with my word.  You know how that goes…January, right on top of it but by summer it’s way off somewhere in my mind.  Well, last year I did a couple of things to keep it more current in my thinking.  For 2011, my word was STORY.  First I took a Big Picture class called Yesterday and Today.  I don’t know when it will be offered again but it was so good and I really recommend it.  It was all about writing stories about your past and stories about today and stories that include a little of both.

Along with that class, I also signed up for and took Allie Edwards’ One Little Word class at Big Picture. It made such a difference and I can not say enough about how valuable this was for me.  This class costs $36.  Drink one less Starbuck’s latte a month and take this class! You will get one “prompt” each month. The prompt includes handouts, photoshop/Adobe .pdf files to print for the monthly project, and a short video presentation by Allie.  The projects are a great combination of art, writing, and picture taking. I am so looking forward to doing it again this year.  I urge you to consider it too. As Allie says, “These words have each become a part of my life in one way or another. They’ve been embedded into who I am, and into whom I’m becoming.  They’ve been what I’ve needed (and didn’t know I needed).  They’ve helped me to breathe deeper, to see clearer, and to grow.”

I have ordered the We R albums and C-Line page protectors that she recommends in the class supply list so it will be really easy for you to get what you need right at Creating Lasting Memories.  They should be in by the middle of next week.  Oh, my word for 2012? FOCUS.  “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:2) Don’t know where that is going to take me this year, but I’m excited to begin the journey and to see where it will lead. So join me!  I know you will be glad you did.


PS I am also planning on doing another 365 project.  It’s been four years and I think it’s time to do it again.  The 365 project is a photo project where you take at least one photo every day.  You don’t have to do anything with them if you don’t want to.  But you can also use them for layouts (once a week? once a month?).  All I know is that I took more photos that year (2008) than every before or since, I learned a ton about my camera and it gave me an eye for the ordinary as well as the special events of my life.  A variation on that theme is to take a specific kind of picture everyday, like a photo of the clouds, or a photo of the sunset, or a photo of the ocean (since we live by the sea).


I love the look of writing right on your photos ala Allie Edwards, one of my favorite scrapbookers.  At the Coastal Crop Getaway I demoed pens that write well on photo paper.  The pens sold out quickly but I promised to post to my blog the brand names so you can look for them at your LSS or online.  Uni-ball by Signo is an excellent white ink pen.  It takes a few seconds to dry, maybe 15 or so.  I like to use it to draw a line around the edge of a photo. Besides white, it also comes in silver and gold.  Although I didn’t have it with me at the demo, I discovered when I got home that I have a Uni-ball Deluxe Micro black pen that dries instantly on slick paper.  At the demo the black pen we used was the Permawriter II.  My favorite size is the 03, but if you like a bolder line, buy the 05. I also really like the Faber-Castell Pitt artist pen. I have an XS (extra fine tip) and an S.  All of these pens write well on photos and dry instantly so purchase whichever one you can find.

Since we are talking about product, I thought I would mention one of my favorites.  It is the layout page organizer by Cropper Hopper.  I know you like using the plastic zip top bags we give out at the store.  But this page organizer is really terrific.  It has a small pocket in the front with an index card for sketching out a layout or making notes. This pocket also holds photos. There is a big center pocket for holding 12×12 paper and a half pocket in the back to hold embellishments.  It is tabbed at the top for labeling the page (use a dry erase pen so you can change the label).  They stand up in a 12×12 paper holder.

page planner

You get 3 for only $6 and we just got some in the store. I have several filled all the time.  When it comes time to crop, I just grab one and I’m ready to go.  Great product!



Just in: some Kaiser Craft do-it-yourself products.  They do such a nice job with the pressed wood stuff. I got in more of the 9-drawer cubbies.  These are perfect for storing little goodies, like all that Tim Holtz stuff you may have in plastic bags and who knows where else. It’s like the one I have at the store.

Kaiser Craft drawers

We also have the Writing Desk.  As one customer said, it would be a lovely gift filled with handmade cards. And I think My Minds Eye Lost & Found Two would be a perfect paper to cover it with.

And if you are looking for Christmas decor, there are two different items: One is a wonderful Advent Calendar with 24 little boxes around a center picture (use some Christmas scrapbook paper or a cherished photo).  The boxes can hold any number of goodies: a small prize, piece of candy, ornament. And it will last way beyond Christmas 2011.  The second is a sleigh with reindeer (sold separately) to hold Christmas cards or whatever else you want. The reindeer would actually be super cute all by themselves.

Stop in and take a look! Mention this blog and get 20% any of the above mentioned products. Offer good September 13-19, 2011.



Ah…the long delayed post on organizing stamps.

The simple truth of the matter is I love stamps, maybe even more than all those beautiful papers.  And I love wood stamps the most.  I love they way they look, the grain of the wood, the lovely stamped designs; I love they way they feel in my hand and I love they way they stamp, solid, with substance. But that being said, they take up a lot of room to store.  In my studio (ie. converted bedroom) at home, I have an entire wall of stamps.  My husband affectionately calls it my “Wall O’ Stamps” and even made a sign that says as much:

Nov 24

This is really just a simple bookcase.  I like the way the shelves are adjustable for height. I can stack stamps 2 and 3 thick, with the taller ones in back.  I love that my stamps are out where I can see them.  Fact: I use my stamps more when I can see them. I can even stack my SU! plastic boxes on these shelves.  But they do require that you have an entire wall that you can dedicate to storage.  And this is not even all of my stamps.  I have more in seven 6-drawer rolling plastic carts under my four 2×4 work tables. Yes, I know.  It’s an obsession.  I have a lot of wood stamps.  And that doesn’t take into account all the wood stamps in my larger studio (ie. Creating Lasting Memories).

wood stamps at clm

These cabinets at the store also have adjustable shelves.  They are in the classroom supply area.  Stop by the store and check them out anytime!

An alternative is Best Craft Organizer.  This storage system is customizable.  Order at the store.  They ship directly to your home.  Brochures are available at the store with exact sizes.  There are short and tall organizers with 3 drawer sizes: 1″, 2″, and 3 1/2″.  The 1″ drawers were designed for wood stamps.  And here’s the best part: from now until the end of March, Best Craft is offering these organizers for 25% off. Their options include desks, computer cabinets, paper storage, ribbon storage, dividers that go inside the drawers for storing small items, etc.  You must order through a distributor (ie. Creating Lasting Memories) but you can check it out at this website:


Now, to cling and clear stamp storage.  The number of different storage systems here is huge.  And when they come out with one you like, it gets discontinued.  Hence, I have three different ones I have started and my favorite is no longer available.  And to make things even more interesting, cling stamp sets come in a huge variety of plastic sheet sizes, as you know if you have ever purchased very many of these.  Teeny tiny, 2×3 up to 6×12. That’s the American way = free-enterprise.  But I do like Tim Holtz’s leather tooled organizer; it is perfect for his cling sets with their 3-hole punched plastic sheet.  Unfortunately, that is not a standard size (8 1/2 x 11) 3-hole punched sheet.  It is specific to his stamps (of course!). But it is gorgeous and I have three of them at the store.  He does sell plastic protector pockets to put similar or smaller sized stamp sheets in. Here’s a photo of Tim’s:

TH cling

Inkadinkado  sells a nice holder which has a cool little drawer inside for holding your acrylic blocks.  And you could always just use an 8 1/2 x 11 3-ring binder with regular page protectors.  These can be stitched to the exact size you need. I have one of these at the store too.  And Jennifer McGuire has an excellent post on this:


In fact, check out her entire studio and how she organizes it.  Amazing.  Enlightening. Overwhelming. So organized. Wow.


For more organizing tips, Cropper Hopper has a pretty write up too at this address:


And we can order anything by Cropper Hopper for you at the store.

Lastly, I promised to show you a decorating idea for your layouts.  This is so simple and looks so good.  It involves using drapery rods, just the cheap ones that you can purchase at Fred Meyer.  The length depends on the amount of room you have on a wall (yes, again, you need wall space).  I’ve seen these mounted way up high, though, where you may have empty space.  Use the ring clips that normally hold your curtains to hold your page protectors.  I put my layouts in page protectors with the holes up and then line up the clips with the holes.  It takes two clips per page.  I have two of these in my studio.  One is over the bed and it holds one 2-page layout and one 1-page layout.  The second one is over my desk and holds one 2-page layout.  They are easy to swap out.  I do this all the time, often displaying my latest completed layout “on the wall.” I love it!

on the wall

Not a great photo but hopefully you get the idea.

So that’s it for organizing for January, 2011.  I want to tell you that I have personally been so encouraged by all of you who have taken me up on the suggestion to get organized.  I think you will be glad you did it.  It’s easier to work when you can find stuff. It’s been fun to find product that you had forgotten you had. You probably can’t wait for the garage sale in July!! Suggestion here: put prices on that stuff right now (use the seller number you had last year; we always save those for you) before you store that box (boxes?) away.

Thanks for looking!



This week I want to address the subject of embellishments.  This category is huge for some of us.  I already discussed ribbon and fiber in my first post on this subject.  But what about all those brads (not to mention scads of other metal and plastic things – all that Tim Holtz stuff we love!) and alphabet stickers and flowers and chipboard and die cuts and…..problem is, lots of packaging that’s takes up lots of room.

Let me begin by saying the first step is to sort and purge.  How do you sort?  Group like items together.  Put all the brad packages in one pile, all the flower packages in another, etc.  This will not only establish a little order to the chaos, but will also bring to the forefront a lot of stuff you probably forgot you had.  It will also reveal many half used packages.  Now, the purging.  As you put these items into some kind of storage container, try, try, try to get rid of what you know you won’t use.  Be realistic.  Will you ever use those foam alphabets with no vowels left? Consider the amount of storage space those items take up versus the likelihood of them being used.  One thing you can do is find a (large) cardboard box.  As you sort, put these half-used products in the box.  Then put the box out in the garage, or up in the attic or wherever you store rarely used things.  If you haven’t gone to that box after 6 months, give it to charity.  Or take it to the dump.  Really.

All that packaging takes up a lot of space.  It is GOOD if you can get rid of it.  I know, you think you are going to enter your pages or cards in a contest or magazine to become famous (or at least get some recognition) and then you will need to know who the manufacturer was. Again, really? Perhaps you need to ask yourself, “Why do I scrapbook or make cards?” And, “Can I even make them in this cluttered space?”  Here is one way to store a lot of stuff that I recently used at the store to unclutter:


This is called a scraponizer.  It comes in 2 sizes, 8 1/2 x 11 or 12×12.  I used the 8 1/2 x 11.  You get four clear plastic “trays.” Each one has a different configuration of compartments.  The four compartment tray I used to put flowers in: pink and purple in one, orange and brown in a second, green and blue in a third and white and red in the fourth compartment.  The try lifts out and you can put larger items underneath.  I put the self-adhesive sheets of flowers in there.  My huge plastic storage bag of flowers is now one tidy little plastic box.  It turned out to be super for brads.  I used the eight compartment tray.  Now my huge plastic storage bag of brads is now one tidy little plastic box. Here’s a photo:

brads in scraponizer

In the other two trays, I put alphabet stickers in the two compartment tray and chipboard shapes in the 3 compartment tray.  Here’s a photo of the alpha stickers in their new home:

alpha in scraponizer

Gotta tell ya I’m lovin’ it.  Of course, this is only a start with those alphabets!  They come in an astonishing array of sizes and I think I will need to break open one of the 12×12 Scraponizers to store those larger sheets.  For now, they are all in one of those 12×12 plastic bags from the store.  But i really like the way these trays sit on a shelf in their holder taking up very little room.  You can label the edge and decorate the holder with scrapbook paper to make it cute and decorative if you like.

Now for all those Tim Holtz and 7 Gypsies metals, etc.  I use the Kaiser Craft 9-drawer pressed board organizer.  Once it’s painted and covered with paper, it really looks cute.  But you may be able to find other cute storage units at garage sales and antique shops, not to mention The Container Store (I sure wish I lived closer to one of these!).  I have an adorable floor unit with 12 drawers made out of wood that my daughter picked up for me on close out at Target.  I love it but it stands about 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide.  Fortunately, I have an entire room for my studio at home. Here’s a photo of my cute Kaiser Craft unit:

Kaiser Craft drawers

This is only a few ideas for embellishments.  At home, I do have a Craft Mates container for my brads.  It works good for your brads if all you have is the small ones.  And it is really easy to grab and go for a crop.  I’ve also found great storage containers in the sporting goods department.  A lot of the containers they sell for fishing tackle work great for craft supplies.  And I have a tackle box itself for all my weird altered book stuff.  And the wooden cabinets with the pull out plastic drawers with handles that we discussed last week with paper also come in a variety of configurations for storing smaller items.

It is a never-ending challenge to be sure.  But remember this: sort, purge and store.  And how much room you have to store determines how much stuff you have to purge. Next post, my last one for January and for this subject, is storing stamps.  Oh yes, another huge challenge for a stamp-a-holic like me.  Just wait til you see my “Wall O Stamps!”  I will also discuss storing layouts and some great ideas for decorating with your layouts. And don’t forget that all organizational supplies are on sale for 30% off the entire month at Creating Lasting Memories.


Before we start talking about getting organized, I wanted to share with you a fabulous site called Big Picture Classes.  They offer online classes for scrapbookers that are simply wonderful.  Some of the classes are even free.  I took a 30-day class in December from a top notch photographer.  I had decided to make a December Daily and I thought it would inspire me with the daily photography part.  What happened was I received a “prompt” each day to my email about a photo suggestion.  Tracy, the gal teaching the class, would even explain the camera settings to get the achieve a photo similar to hers.  I learned so much and it gave me food for thought, like taking pictures of frames, or seeing images in reflections, changing the lighting, using “drag” to suggest movement.  Well, the experience was wonderful and I highly recommend checking out the classes.  In January, I started the One Little Word class with Allie Edwards.  For this class, you receive a new lesson once a month with suggestions of how to use and learn from your word for the year.  I am also taking a class from AE called Yesterday and Today, which is all about incorporating more journaling and storytelling in your layouts.  So far, I am so impressed with the quality of these classes and the amount of time she puts into them, not to mention great layout ideas and graphics for download.  Check it out!  We can all benefit from classes and learning more about our hobby.

Now for my second installment of organizational tips.  I’m going to share with you how I organize my papers.  All those beautiful papers that we love to buy.  Do you struggle with how to store them and find them again when you want them?  First, I will tell you that I organize by color and by brand name.  To store by color, I use the plastic 6 drawer cabinets that are available at Fred Meyer for full 12×12 sheets.  If you can afford it, we sell a much higher quality product with wood cabinets and drawers with handles at the store.

Castors can be installed (purchase separately).  The drawers come in different sizes with varying adjustable and customizable compartment arrangements.  So you can store virtually anything in them.  The handle makes it really convenient to grab and go.

paper drawers

I love my paper holders with dividers for storing paper by brand name.  They are made of a nice sturdy plastic so they stand up straight on the shelf. It is easy to grab and find just the papers you want.  These holders and the dividers are very inexpensive (and even more so with the sale going on this month!).

paper holder

Here’s how mine look with the dividers:


Some other options available at the store are these paper organizers.  They have a nice handle at the top for carrying to a crop:

paper org

Another of my personal favorites is the page planners.  These come with a small pocket in the front for holding photos and project ideas.  They have one center pocket for holding full sheets of 12×12 paper and a half size pocket in the back for stickers, die cuts, etc.  I’ve been getting ready for the Coastal Crop Retreat by gathering my photos and papers together in these organizers. These also fit in the above paper holders so you can store 6-8 of them in one holder.

How do I store my paper scraps you ask?  Well at home I use a file cabinet.  Really.  I have that many scraps.  (Don’t ever tell me not to throw a piece of paper away.) I use 3 hanging file folders per color.  One folder is solid colors, one folder for pattern colors, and one folder for specialty papers (like mulberry, handmade papers, vellum, etc.).  It takes two file drawers to hold all of my scraps!  At the store, I was using the afore mentioned Fred Meyer 6 drawer plastic cabinets.  When they began to overflow, I decided to started trimming my scraps into card ready sizes: 5 1/2 x 8 1/2.  The smaller pieces I cut into “layer” sizes: 5 1/2 x 4 1/4.  I have been able to store A LOT of these pre-cut papers in a shoebox size plastic tub by color.  If you’d like to see what I’ve done, just ask the next time you are in the store. When we have our first Stamp Your Heart Out card making day on February 5, I’ll be all ready to share these card bases and layers for making our cards for charity.  By the way, if you have paper you don’t need, you may donate it to this worthy cause.  Feel free to drop off the scraps you no longer need at the store.

I hope you have found some of these tips helpful.  Just a reminder that we have gotten in a lot of these organizational products mentioned in this blog and they are all on sale for 30% off until the end of January.  Stop in and take advantage of some inexpensive ways to get your paper organized.