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Upcycled Cord Organizer

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BringingInnovation #CollectiveBias

Lately I have been talking alot about upcycling, recycling, and living a conscientious life. You might have seen my posts about craft hoarding, minimizing, and being strategic about what I bring into my house but that philosophy extends beyond my craft room. Soon I’ll be sharing how we created a raised bed garden from reclaimed wood. But even beyond DIY and home improvement, our mindfulness about how much impact we have on the world really started when we began the paleo diet. Immediately we noticed how much less trash we generated because we had basically stopped eating many packaged foods. I started looking at other things in my life that I would normally consider disposable and wondered if there were some way that I could give those things new life rather than tossing them into the garbage. Today I am going to share with you a solution I created for my tangled cell phone cords by upcycling household trash into a DIY cord organizer.

Being mindful about our impact on the world doesn’t have to be difficult or incredibly invovled. That’s what I love about Energizer’s New EcoAdvanced batteries. I recently got a brand new wireless mouse and keyboard for my computer. Can you believe I was still using a corded mouse and keyboard just last week?! Dark ages over here, right?! This new keyboard and mouse get their power from batteries. When I heard about Energizer’s New EcoAdvanced batteries, I knew I wanted to use them to power the keyboard and mouse as part of really bringing my desktop tech into the new age.

Find Energizer EcoAdvanced batteries at Walmart JPriest

NEW Energizer EcoAdvanced is the first ever battery on the market to use recycled batteries/materials. Energizer EcoAdvanced  batteries last up to 12 years in storage, which is awesome for those of us who like to stock up or create emergency kits. Energizer EcoAdvanced is the longest lasting alkaline battery ever, which makes these batteries perfect for essential electronics like a mouse and keyboard. We went to our local Walmart and easily found the batteries at the front of the store, near the checkouts. We found the AA size batteries we needed for my new keyboard and mouse and were on our way. EcoAdvanced batteries are also available in AAA size, great for your TV and ceiling fan remotes! Using these batteries makes me feel good because they are created by taking something that would have gone into a landfill and turning it into something new and useful. The fact that they come from a brand I trust, Energizer, is bonus! 

NEW Energizer EcoAdvanced batteries keep the wireless keyboard and mouse powered up.

Speaking of keeping things out of landfills and giving them new life, let’s get back to that toilet paper roll project. Toilet paper rolls have long been a staple in the crafting world but I’ll admit I am grossed out when people fill them with candy. Ew. In recent years there have been many more ideas for using toilet paper rolls shared to sites like Pinterest, including home decor, art, and organization and none of them involve candy. I decided to use toilet paper rolls to solve a major problem in my desk: the tangled mess of phone and electronics cords. Now that I got rid of the cords attaching my mouse and keyboard to my computer, I am on a mission to minimize messy cords in my life! I decided to create an upcycled cord organizer using empty toilet paper rolls.

Before and After Cord Organizer JPriest

Here’s how to make a DIY upcycled cord organizer from empty toilet paper rolls:

Glue empty toilet paper roll tubes together using hot glue. Spritz the tubes with a spray disinfectant and allow to dry before crafting with them. Once the disinfectant has dried, spray paint the tubes in a well-ventilated area. I chose a metallic spray paint that matched the inside of my desk drawers. Allow to dry and air out for 24 hours.

Use spray paint to quickly change the color of toilet paper tubes for craft projects.

Place the cord organizer in the desk drawer. Insert one cord in each tube. I have charging cords, head phones, USB cords, and other cords all organized in this one area neatly. Before it was just a mess of cords in a basket.

Upcycle Cord Organizer Toilet Paper Tubes JPriest


  • Empty toilet paper rolls
  • Spray disinfectant (treat the rolls with this prior to crafting)
  • Hot Glue
  • Spray Paint

Find out more about Energizer’s EcoAdvanced batteries at BringingInnovation.net. And don’t forget to enter Energizer’s GuiltFreeEnergy Giveaway for a chance to win $1,000 in Gift Cards! Enter here:

GuiltFreeEnergy Giveaway – $1,000 in Gift Cards

Keep up with our adventures, craft ideas, and frugal living tips by subscribing to the Hydrangea Hippo Crafty Newsletter.

Jennifer Signature Block-Fall 2014


Taking the pulse of the scrapbook industry at Scrapbook Expo

I attended Scrapbook Expo about 10 days ago, in Anaheim, CA. The Expo was in the basement, at the back of the Anaheim Convention Center. I laughed when I pulled up – is scrapbooking now the red-headed stepchild in trade show land? I wasn’t sure I was going to go to the Expo but I ended up going with two purposes in mind: the first was to see my friends and the second was to take the pulse of the scrapbooking industry. Are people still scrapbooking? Surprisingly, yes, they’re still scrapping!

For over 15 years, Scrapbook Expo has been THE place for scrapbooking shows, especially here in Southern California. I attended my first Scrapbook Expo in 2003, thanks to my friend Denise. Attending that Expo is what started me on a path to create a business and life in craft. I had always crafted but I had no idea I could actually run a business doing it until then.

This Scrapbook Expo was particularly interesting. I saw friends but the show floor was small. I got photos with Nancy Nally and Cindy Fahrbach, did make n takes with my friends at Charity Wings, had a nice chat with Marion Smith, and waved to Richard Garay giving a class on the show floor.

Scrapbook EXPO - Anaheim CA Jennifer Priest Cindy Fahrbach Scrapbook EXPO - Anaheim CA Jennifer Priest Nancy Nally

But it wasn’t like Expos past. I mean, usually I see SO MANY people that I know. I saw some of my local scrapbooking friends like Aprile and Becky but for the most part, there were few people there I knew.

I think a big reason for that is that Scrapbook Expo has changed.

I detail what’s different and where I think the scrapbooking industry as a whole is going in this video. Watch it to hear my exact thoughts and see more photos from the show:



Like I said in the video, people are still scrapbooking.

They’ve just stopped buying or cut way back on shopping. I spent $25 at the Expo – that was $15 for parking and $10 for a ticket in the door. I didn’t buy a single thing. And it’s not for vendors’ lack of trying. It was because I don’t need anything, I wasn’t “wowed” by anything, I don’t have space for anything new, and a tiny part is that I work in the industry and get alot of product shipped to my house. But that was a small part of it, believe me. I don’t get everything for free and there were TONS of things at Expo that I don’t own and have never owned that would be fun to use. It just wasn’t fun ENOUGH for me to pull my wallet out and buy. That sentiment was held by alot of people there. They came, but not to buy.

This photo of the crop area at Scrapbook Expo in Anaheim shows 500 people scrapbooking:

Scrapbook EXPO - Anaheim CA JPriest

This area was larger than the area the booths occupied! According to attendee Shemaine Smith, in a post on Facebook, the crop last year at the same location had 300 attendees. That’s a 66% increase in attendance!

Here are my thoughts on the current state of the scrapbooking industry:

  • People are still scrapbooking – they’re using up their stash. Evidence: record-breaking number of attendees at Scrapbook Expo’s crop; conversations with scrapbookers at the crop and elsewhere
  • People are still shopping but mostly for things they need and for things that are amazing deals. Evidence: number of $1 bargain booths at Scrapbook Expo; conversations with scrapbookers at the crop and elsewhere; proliferation of craft supplies at closeouts stores like Tuesday Morning, Marshall’s as well as crafters seeing those stores as long-term sources of product; people are not going to the Expo to shop – they are going to see friends, crop, and maybe see what is “new”. 
  • People are using scrapbooking as a gateway to other paper and non-paper crafts. Evidence: number of card-making and jewelry booths at Scrapbook Expo; conversations with scrapbookers at the crop and elsewhere; removal of scrapbooking section from Target stores – replaced by general crafts in hipster/maker style; opening of maker spaces around the US while scrapbooking stores close or evolve into craft stores.
  • Stores and manufacturers that evolve into new sectors of craft outside of scrapbooking and those who create pathways between other industries and the craft industry will grow and thrive. Others will close due to lack of a market for their products. Evidence: Popularity of Project Life line, which makes memory-keeping accessible to non-crafters; companies broadening their offerings like Heidi Swapp with her marquee letters; companies going outside of craft, like Adornit with their clothing lines.

I’m not an economist or marketing scientist. I am just calling it like I see it after 12 years in the craft industry with a focus on scrapbooking. I’ve watched the industry rise and fall and it will rise again. It’s always evolving. I mean, who would have thought macrame and weaving would rise it’s fuzzy head after the 1960s and 1970s but here we are, with instagram plastered full of weaving images. I am hopeful that people are still scrapbooking but as for the industry… I think they oversold so much product that they produced themselves out of a market. More on that later this week in another post.

What do you think about the state of scrapbooking industry?

Keep up with our adventures, craft ideas, and frugal living tips by subscribing to the Hydrangea Hippo Crafty Newsletter.

Jennifer Signature Block-Fall 2014




Craft Room Tour 2015

It’s been a while since I have done a craft room tour. Like over a year! This past January we moved my craft room out of the formal living room + dining room + office and condensed it all down to just fit in my office alone. It’s about one-third of the space I have enjoyed for the last two years (see that video studio tour HERE) and that means I had to get rid of alot of stuff. In addition, I moved out my Target desk and brought in my grandmother’s old Fortress desk which is wider and deeper than the previous desk. It has amazing storage though! In line with my recent posts about changing my relationship with craft supplies and how I view my space, and with this month being National Craft Month, I thought it was the perfect time to share a tour of my new, improved, lean, mean creativity machine of a craft studio, office, and film studio all rolled into one:

There are a few details I want to point out that I think might be helpful to you in organizing a space that best supports creativity.

Organize supplies by color, with a focus on consumables (things you can use up).

Store embellishments and consumable craft supplies by color.

I started organizing by color in 2006 or so and it changed the way I craft. Organizing by color allows you to use products you might have forgotten you had in new and unexpected ways. In the past, I would have looked for a red brad to use on a scrapbook page. Now, I open my red and orange drawer (both colors are combined into one drawer) and look through all the possible embellishments that are red. I can use things I forgot I had, like a pretty red button or a red label sticker. This helps me use up my stash and avoid getting into creative ruts, like when I used to be on a “red button kick” and use them on all of my projects for three months straight. True story.

Keep things in the open so they are front of mind and get used.

Keep larger tools on tables at the ready. Store tools you use less often on shelving, like the serger sewing machine on the bottom shelf of a work table in this photo

Keeping tools and supplies that you use often or want to use more out in the open makes it easier for you to use them. I want to use my Sizzix eclips2 machine often so I keep it on a table, plugged in and ready to go at all times. I don’t want to use my serger sewing machine often so I keep it on a shelf under my work table so I can get to it but so it is not in the way.

Label everything – peace comes from being able to find things when you need them.

Card Catalog Storage -  Scrapbook Room Tour JPriest Craft Room Scrapbook Room Tour JPriest

I use an Epson LabelWorks label maker (and ribbon printer) to label my ArtBins, drawers, and other containers. It helps me to know exactly where things are but the process of labeling also makes me think about which things go together and can be stored together. Like I might have a drawer of ICE Resin bezels and ICE Resin ephemera papers because they go together. When you have 20+ ArtBins, it is also handy to have a label on the outside so you don’t have to open each one up to see what’s inside.

If you add something to the room, take something out.

Sizzix die storage

It is so easy to out grow your space by bringing in new things. I know I have this limited amount of square space and limited storage solutions. If I want to bring in something new, then something old has to go out. We also have limited time. Can I really use all 548 stamps sets I had? No. So I sold off 300 of them and gave away a bunch more so now I have less than 50 acrylic stamp sets. If I want more Sizzix dies, I need to get rid of the ones I don’t use. And yes, with all these cases of dies, there are some I don’t use and a few still in the package. This process makes you think very strategically about HOW and WHY you buy things. And it helps keep the focus on creating and not cleaning or organizing. I mean, seriously, we all hate cleaning so much but we have made that 50% or more of our time when we’re “crafting”. Let’s stop doing that.

Here’s a pinnable quote to help remind us: PIN IT NOW

Spend more time crafting and less time organizing - Jennifer Priest

I hope this room tour and these tips have inspired you and given you some awesome ideas for your space!  Here are some of my past room tours and organizing posts to check out:

Links to some of the organizing products used in this room:

Keep up with our adventures, craft ideas, and frugal living tips by subscribing to the Hydrangea Hippo Crafty Newsletter.

Jennifer Signature Block-Fall 2014


Hot Trend: Cork and Gold Foil – A Blog Hop

Cork and Gold foil are two super hot trends in craft this year. Today, I’m on a blog hop with the Tombow USA team and Die Cuts with a View (DCWV), sharing all things cork and gold! You probably came here from Britt Bass, but if you happened to stumble across my blog, go to the  DCWV Blog to start!


We received a mix of gold foiled patterned paper, adhesive cork sheets, and a mini album from DCWV. Since the kraft colored papers and album were neutral like the cork, everything was wide open as far as color.

I decided to go with a beach themed mini scrapbook, adding in elements of coral and turquoise with items from my stash to complete the look.

Decorate a mini album cover with bulky embellishments to make it fun.

This mini beach album was built with the DCWV Insta Kraft Album, a perfect size for Instagram photos! I’m planning to add photos of my niece and nephews from beach trips to this album and give it as a gift to my sister.

  Decorate Mini Album Covers with Bulky Embellishments - JPriest

To make the inner pages of the book, I cut chipboard to 4.5″ wide by 5″ tall and covered it with patterned paper from the DCWV The Gilded Stack, using Tombow Mono Aqua Glue to permanently apply the paper to the chipboard. I also cut some of the 6×6 pages from the DCWV Cork Stack to 4.5″ x 5″ and adhered more patterned paper to the backs of those sheets. I used a Crop a Dile to punch holes in each page to match the binder rings inside of the DCWV Insta Kraft Album.

Make a Pocket Page for Journaling Blocks, extra Photos, and tags in your mini scrapbook albums

For extra storage, I cut 5″ x 9″ strips of paper from the DCWV The Gilded Stack and folded them in half to make a 4.5″ x 5″ page. I applied Tombow Mono Permanent Adhesive along the bottom and the open side of the folded paper “card” to seal them shut. I used a 2″ circle punch to punch a hole in the top, open ed of the pocket. Then I used the Crop a Dile to punch holes in each page to match the binder rings inside of the DCWV Insta Kraft Album. I cut some of the journal blocks from the DCWV The Gilded Stack apart and slipped them into the pockets for journaling.

Add Crepe Paper Ruffles to the Edges of Mini Album Pages - JPriest

I posted a sneak peek picture of this album on Instagram and everyone wanted to know how to make the crepe paper ruffle. It’s easy!

Learn the crepe paper ruffle technique and see the album assembly and decorating from start to finish in this video:

Please be sure to click the YouTube icon on the lower right side of the video to go to YouTube, subscribe, and leave me a thumbs up or comment. 

To create this album, you need some basic supplies from DCWV and Tombow.

I supplemented these with various baubles and embellishments from my stash. Decorating a mini album cover in this way gives it a fun, eclectic, and dimensional look while also using up some of your stash. I like using some of my most prized embellishments on mini album covers becuase then I can see them more often that if they were closed inside of a 12×12 scrapbook album. Also, bulky embellishments don’t work well in traditional scrapbooks so a mini album like this DCWV Insta Kraft Album is a great place to use them.

Supply List:


Tombow Blog Hop Giveaway - Cork and Gold

To win, visit and comment on the participating blog posts. You have until March 31st at 11:59 EST to comment. A winner will be picked randomly and announced on April 1st 2015.

Tombow will be giving away: Tombow Xtreme Adhesive, NEW Tombow Adhesive Dots, NEW Tombow Foam Tape and everyone’s favorite the Tombow Mono Multi Liquid Glue!

DCWV will be giving away: The DCWV Gilded Stack, a 4×4 Cork Stack, Insta Kraft Album, Accordion Album and a set of Birthday Photo Props!

Remember to “Like” Tombow USA and DCWV on Facebook.

Saturday, March 28th:

Jessica Pascarella
Britt Bass
Jennifer Priest YOU ARE HERE
Jaclyn Rench GO HERE NEXT
Sara Andrews
Latrice Murphy
Tessa Buys
Yolie Burke
Karen Jiles
Marie Browning
Karla Der
Lisa Lahiff
Tina McDonald
Tombow USA Blog


Keep up with our adventures, craft ideas, and frugal living tips by subscribing to the Hydrangea Hippo Crafty Newsletter.

Jennifer Signature Block-Fall 2014



DIY Wreath for Spring

I still love the look of yarn wreaths but man, oh man, do they take forever to wrap! So when I saw Bernat’s Softee Chunky Yarn I immediately thought how amazing it would be for a yarn wrapped wreath! The Chunky Yarn is soft and wide, covering the wreath easily but having a much softer look than using equally thick rope or sisal. In the same vein as the yarn, I decided to create a sewing themed wreath for spring to dress up my front door:

Easy Yarn Wreath with Bernat Chunky Yarn and Cross Stitch Hedgehog by Jennifer Priest

Make this sewing themed wreath - wrapped with Bernat yarn by Jennifer Priest Sewing themed spring wreath - wrapped with Bernat yarn by Jennifer Priest


Bernat Softee Chunky yarn made covering this Floracraft wreath form a breeze! I stitched the Hedgehog using a cross stitch kit from Dimensions. Flowers were cut from felt and a Simplicity Pattern using Sizzix dies, then embellished with Swarovski crystal beads. I made this handy dandy tutorial for you to watch to see how to make this project from start to finish:




  1. Wrap the Floracraft wreath form with Bernat Chunky Yarn, adding a bit of Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue under the yarn every inch or so.
  2. Following the instructions on the package, complete the Dimensions Hedgehog cross stitch project.
  3. Roll the ric rac onto itself to create a ric rac flower. Use hot glue to secure the ric rac in place every few inches.
  4. Die cut flowers with a Sizzix die from a Simplicity pattern. Thread Swarovski beads from Prima Bead onto wire and insert into the middle of the flower layers. Fluff the layers.
  5. Die cut 6 circles from felt with a Sizzix Circle #1 die. Fold 4 of the circles into quarters and glue to one of the flat circles to form a pie cut into quarters. Fold the final circle into quarters and glue into the center of the four other quarter-folded circles. Fluff to make a flower.
  6. Adhere the elements to a strip of chipboard. Adhere the chipboard strip to the wreath form using hot glue. 
  7. Hang and enjoy!

Keep up with our adventures, craft ideas, and frugal living tips by subscribing to the Hydrangea Hippo Crafty Newsletter.

Jennifer Signature Block-Fall 2014


How I Stopped Being a Craft Hoarder

This blog post is part two of a series in which I explain my journey from being overwhelmed by my craft supplies to being a practical, conscientious, and happy crafter and artist. This is the story of how I stopped being a craft hoarder.

Related Article: Why I Almost Threw All of My Craft Supplies Away

Previous to nearly losing our house and being faced with a terrible decision to make about our family’s future, I thrived on feedback I got from other people about my home. As a child, I imagined I would have this grand home and fabulous life and awesome husband and everything that everyone else ever dreamed of as being the perfect fairy tale life. I didn’t have my own dream – I had everyone else’s dream life. I worked hard and was an entreprenuer from a young age.  I had the perspective that I could do anything I put my mind to and I took the world head-on, even when I faced opposition. As a young adult, I decorated my barracks room in the Army, and later my apartments and house with fabulous pieces from Pier One and other home decor stores. I thought that if I had just the right stuff, positioned in just the right twee way, that my life would click and happiness would ensue.

My crafting pursuits and motivations in terms of THINGS were equally as shallow. I had to have all of the latest and greatest things and I spent money on them in ridiculous fashion. My natural skepticism at new things helped keep some of my spending at bay (“Cricut? That is stupid, I don’t need that, stickers are cheaper”) but I was a good enough, $400-a-pop craft supply customer that local stores kept me on their speed-dial to alert me when new product came in. I would complain that they were taking advantage of me by calling me but I’d totally show up to the store within a couple hours if not reserving and paying for the thing over the phone, sight unseen. I was the ultimate sucker for limited edition anything. The more scarce and more expensive something was, the more I needed to have it. Once I started amassing all of this STUFF, I needed a place to put it. I invested thousands of dollars into storage solutions that never fully worked or that I outgrew quickly. I passed on those storage items to other people and bought new ones. I moved to larger and larger homes … 700 square foot apartment to 900 square feet to 1400 square feet to 2100 square feet and so on. It was never enough. Harder bigger faster stronger.



Words of wisdom. #quote #inspiration #imperfect

A photo posted by Jennifer Priest (@hydrangeahippo) on


On top of this need to buy stuff all the time, was this constant turn-over of things in my house and craft room. To make room for the new, I would get rid of SOME of the old. I was more apt to get rid of home decor items and furniture than craft supplies but I got rid of both. I usually gave it away. It would have been smarter to sell it but I did not want the hassle. Out with the old and in with the new, weekly it seemed.  I look back at it now as completely and utterly ridiculous. I could part with things easily because I had little attachment to them – they were someone else’s dream, something I bought after envisioning how everyone else would say it was “so cute” or “perfect!”. After some remarks made by my family and a visit to my sister’s new house in the midst of the chaos of almost losing my own home, I realized I had been supplementing their decorating budgets with my cast-offs. I am in no financial position to do that. My mom always wanted to be the first to look through my yard sale or donations pile so she could “shop” for her house. Yeah, it sounds totally ridiculous now that I am writing that but it’s true. In the craft arena, I would do things like buy 20 organizing baskets so things would all look the same and in 6 months decide they weren’t working, get rid of them, and buy another new solution. My insanity was fed by praise from others. I loved it! I still do love getting compliments and there is nothing wrong or nefarious about anyone who gave me compliments. This was my own internal battle. I bought things for the wrong reasons.

I had no idea of the long-term effects of making the decision to sell things off to raise money to save our house. I had to act quick – every 30 days the reinstatement amount increased so the longer we took to raise the money, the more money we’d need. As I looked at each item in my house I had epiphanies where I relived the bad decision making, chastised myself for the waste, and felt like a failure. This experience was even more intense in my craft room. I couldn’t craft during this time. I hated everything. I literally was angry at my stuff and wanted to throw it all away. The only thing that stopped me was that I needed the money from selling it. If it were not for that, we might not even have a Hydrangea Hippo craft blog right now. I might be working some desk job, still miserable, wondering where the heck I went wrong with my life. (hey, desk jobs aren’t bad, they’re just not for me) 


THE LUM“Clutter is the physical


As I went through my stuff to sell it off, I saw everything in painful detail. All the partially started projects were devastating to look at. I didn’t want to make them any more because the paper was out of style or I had moved on to another type of craft. Worse were the projects I never started. I needed to have 4 different types of oversized monogram alphabets for my family members’ initials… why? So I could give them to the Goodwill four years later? So many things I had to have right now for this specific project that I never even did anything with. Buy. Store. Get in Debt. Repeat.

I made myself go through every craft supply I had stored with a fine-toothed comb. EVERYTHING. I started this process in October 2013. I finally finished in March 2015. The process took a long time because, yes, there was alot of stuff, but also there were alot of emotions tied up in the things. I’d look at something I bought. I’d think about how excited I was to have it. I’d think about how I would tell myself that we can save more money the next paycheck so I can get this thing now. I’d think about how I stored the thing because I never had time to use it. I’d think of the credit card debt I had racked up for stupid purchases I never used. I was paying for a place to store it AND paying interest on it. STUPID! I’d try to remember when I bought it. 2007? Earlier? 2004? Yes, it was 2004 because that is the price sticker from Jolyn’s store… oh Jolyn! I miss her, hope she is doing well. Wow, that was a crazy time, when I had no idea even what CHA was… Oh, and these stickers where the sticky part isn’t sticky anymore must be from Pink Pineapple because of the hot pink sticker. Wow, those were the days… Why did I buy 6 packs of these?! Why did I stop teaching classes? Oh the burritos from that place next door were so good! I miss cropping with everyone, Gloria, Kristie, Teri … 

All of these kinds of thoughts went through my head as I sorted. I dumped an incredible amount of stuff (truckloads, yes MULTIPLE) in December 2013 from all of my cabinets and donated it to Charity Wings. But I still had so much more. I saw Elena from Charity Wings at Scrapbook Expo last weekend. I gave her the last of the things I had too much of so she could sell them in her booth. That is one redeeming thing in all of this – at least Charity Wings was a local organization I could support with all of this stuff that had essentially gone to waste. Going to the Charity Wings Art Center is a surreal experience for me. Even interacting with Charity Wings is surreal. I get to visit my stuff, but I get to see it in action, being used for good. Everything has come full circle. At the Scrapbook Expo, a lady was putting these leaf shaped beads on her make n take from a bowl at the Charity Wings table. I donated those beads in 2013. They were leftover from classes I taught to caregivers through a grant from Inland Caregivers (now defunct). I hung on to them for years, thinking I would make something and I didn’t. Now, some lady made a cute adorable wreath with them and she doesn’t know the difference of the journey those beads have been on. And I feel good that the beads are making someone happy.

The other thing that happens when I go to Charity Wings is that I get a mental kick in the pants. I see thousands of dollars of furniture and stuff I have donated. It’s a joke in our family but I actually do go around the store and ask myself out loud, ” Do I love this or will it be at Charity Wings in 6 months?” I’d rather write a check to Charity Wings than fuss with making a box of stuff they may or may not be able to use and then having to drive it two hours down to the Art Center. On Monday I went to Target for a few things and to get stuff for a craft project and I had about 20 items in my cart. I put 17 of them back. I asked myself why I was buying those things:

  • Do I LOVE it?
  • Price aside, do I absolutely want this for me?
  • Do I see myself donating this in 6 months?
  • Do I see myself using this regularly?
  • Do I already have something that does the same job?



These flippin’ adorable Threshold bowls were on clearance at Target. They were 50% off this week and the shelves were looking thin. I took a photo of them in January and posted it to Instagram but I did not buy any. I was so proud of myself! A few weeks later, I went back to Target and they still had the bowls in stock. There were about eight to twelve different designs. I hemmed and hawed and narrowed it down to four designs that I loved. I bought the four little bowls. I immediately used them for salsa and then at my Disney Villains Tea Party for candies and at a sports party for dips. I love using those little bowls! That’s what you’re supposed to do with stuff you buy – use it right away. So when I saw the larger bowls and more of the smaller bowls on clearance, I felt this push to buy them. It’s scarcity. If I don’t buy them now, they might be gone later so I must BUY ALL THE THINGS! But then I thought about it. Do I need the larger bowls? No, because I have alot of bowls and I don’t eat cereal anymore so I don’t even use bowls daily. Do I need more of the smaller bowls? YES.

I walked all around the store and did the rest of my shopping with those little bowls clinking in my cart. I got to the checkout lines and they were all long. I hate waiting in lines. I feel like it is traffic on foot. It’s the worst. I mean, waiting in line behind ONE person is agony for me. Because that one person has like 84 coupons and an out of state check to cash.  Argggh, why me?! Through my grumbling, I have started to try to appreciate this “review time” that standing in line gives me. I save SO MUCH money without coupons at all. When I finally get to the conveyor belt, I make two separate piles. The first is all the stuff I am not getting. And then second is my purchase pile. I know. The person at the check stand always looks at me like I’m crazy and then they’re pissed that I just filled up their go-back bin. “You want to put back ALL THIS STUFF? ALL OF IT?” Um, yeah, that’s what I said. What’s the problem? Give me time in line with spotty in-store wifi, I am gonna use that time to review my purchases. And that is exactly what happened to those Threshold bowls. While they are cute, I already have some and I have lots of other great dishes for parties and food and what not. I don’t even have a place to store any of these.  As the bowls and a bunch of dollar spot stuff rolled down the conveyor belt on it’s way to the go back bin, I asked myself: Will my life be okay without this pile of stuff in it? Yes. Yes it will be.

Keep up with our adventures, craft ideas, and frugal living tips by subscribing to the Hydrangea Hippo Crafty Newsletter.

Jennifer Signature Block-Fall 2014


Why I Almost Threw All Of My Craft Supplies Away

Mountains of paper were stacked so high that it is hard to fathom that I touched every single one of them with my hands at some point. I had to have, in order to have stacked them and moved them and rearranged them as many times as I did in the process of moving from apartment to apartment to rental home to finally our current home, as well as the times in-between that I rearranged the craft into new configurations and rooms and piles. The paper was outdone by the ribbons, cascading from rings in a gorgeous rainbow that everyone complimented but that I regretted. Supplies were gorgeously divided by color and then my type, with cases of “blue” filled with even smaller cubes filled with blue brads in one and pretty turquoise buttons in another and delicious pave Swarovski crystals in another. Want to make a die cut? I’ve got eight different machines for that and dies for every imaginable thing you want to make. It was my store, my candy store of craft supplies, in my own house. The belle of my Pinterest account was a version of my craft room that conveyed perfection, abundance, and organization that was almost godly. This begins the story of why I almost threw all of my craft supplies away.

“Don't own so much clutter that you will

I hated the room that had become the envy of literally thousands of people on Pinterest. It was pinned thousands and thousands of times. I hated all of the stuff in it. I didn’t even want to go in the room anymore. I was obsessive about keeping the room organized, and that is what people loved about it, but the sheer volume of stuff in the room and in adjoining rooms, my garage, and a storage unit, was sucking my soul dry. And sucking my bank account dry. I had a bad case of BEING the craft Joneses, not just keeping up with them. And I was clueless about that dynamic and how unfulfilling it was. I started to resent the room and the stuff in it. Then I started ignoring it. I didn’t craft for months at one point. Next I hated it. And then, it became my salvation and a new mission. This story will be told in a series of 3 blog posts. It’s not a straight line from A to Z … it is a winding tale of self-discovery, pain, and metamorphosis. I hope that if you are unhappy with your crafting right now, feeling buried under stuff, and just not feeling the love of craft anymore, that you keep on reading and see how I got out of the deep dark funk and got back into crafting up a storm!


Over the course of about 2 years, my personal pendulum swung from certified craft hoarder to minimalist nomad. A big part of this transition and transformation had to do with a difficult financial, emotional, and health challenged period in my life. Multiple accidents and surgeries, too much time off work, and bad spending habits led my family to a point where we found ourselves behind on all of our bills, getting calls from creditors, and crying as I read an unexpected foreclosure notice. And I am not one to cry. This situation is overwhelming for anyone and it is hard to understand unless you have been there (which I hope you haven’t been there!). I disclosed this in a recent newsletter I sent out and got so many responses from people who lost their homes, have gone through similar hardships, or who are currently in similar situations. (click here to sign up for the newsletter so you get all the best stuff, first). I thought long and hard about doing this kind of post and sharing all the things that came together to catalyze this metamorphosis from being a certified poster child for craft excess (eight diecutting systems, anyone?) to nearly giving it all up and finally resulting in a conscientious, strategic, and practical approach to creativity in life, business, and craft. To grow is hard. And then to reconcile that transformation with my work in an industry that is dependent on people buying things, lots and lots of pretty things, well, that seem impossible but I figured it out and I am doing it. It is something I think about and focus on daily as I make things to blog about. How much storage space do I need for this? Is this smart? Is it affordable? Is it useful?

Faced with losing my house, I came to a place where “things” did not matter to me anymore. The crossroads I found myself standing at had two paths, both of which came with the caveat of fewer things in my life. 

The way foreclosure works is that the bank sends you a notice or two or forty. Every mortgage company does it differently. They try to work out completely unreasonable payment plans with you, like expect you to agree to make triple mortgage payments each month to catch things up. When you’re living on 40% of your pay due to disability and the other wage earner has lost clients and money due someone embezzling money from the business and just a bad economy, well, single mortgage payments are a problem. That’s how we got in that trouble, right? When you can’t make the impossible payment arrangements because you actually need some money to eat and put gas in the car to take kids to school, the bank gets nasty. They told me on a Friday that we had worked out a payment arrangement. On Saturday I got a foreclosure notice in the mail.  They KNEW they were foreclosing when I spent hours on the phone trying to massage the finances to make it all work. That was one of many hours long phone calls of me trying to work with them. It was devastating.

I got what I deserved. I was a straight up jerk to people who were losing their homes during 2007-2009. I said asinine, rude things like, “They should have saved more” or “they were irresponsible with the loan they got.” Karma kicked me when I was down, when it probably should have.  I took my lumps. And grew. But it was an incredibly painful lesson I wish on no one; there is so much more to it than saving money or being responsible. Sometimes, crap just happens, all at once, in an avalanche, to where you can’t even come up for air until it is all over. This episode in my life also forced me to take stock of my life and make some hard decisions. We all have our moments when we have to learn from the school of hard knocks. And just because bad things happen to someone, doesn’t mean they are a bad person. And just because bad things happen to someone, that doesn’t make them a good person either. It makes them a human. Some people might think I am sharing too much. I am also aware of the sad, petty mean girls who talk smack and will revel in glee about my sharing this difficult story. This post isn’t for them. This post isn’t for haters, naysayers, or the Joneses. This post is for the people who are going through something hard and embarrassing and difficult to talk about for fear of judgement. We all need to know someone went through it, survived, and came out the other side. This post is for the people who are buried under guilt and mountains of stuff and are paralyzed to do anything about it, even when they know those things are not bringing them happiness anymore. This post is for the people who are ready to hear about and maybe take the next step on a journey of self-discovery, happiness, and putting the joy back into their crafting. Now, back to the story.

Home - Pink Pineapple 6-27-09

After meeting with a lawyer, we knew we had two rocky, treacherous paths to choose.

One path was to let the foreclosure occur. We could live in our old fifth wheel trailer temporarily and put our stuff in storage. Less stuff meant saving money on moving and storage fees. We could take the money we had already saved and pay off other bills and create a better savings account. We could buy the new car we so desperately needed.

The other path involved keeping the house. In order to do that, I needed to raise alot of money fast to pay the arrears on the home loan and stop the foreclosure process. My husband still wasn’t back to work at this point and Christmas was right around the corner. I started to see the things in my house as opportunities to make money. In calculating the price I could sell them for, I also realized there had been incredible waste. Why did I buy $10,000 worth of Quickutz dies that I never used? I didn’t buy them all at one but if I had never bought them at all and just saved that money, I would have been able to weather this financial, health, and emotional storm much better. At the same time, I saw things that came as a result of my work in the craft industry. I had multiple photo printers I was able to sell because of work I had done with a printer company at one point. Going through these items was a double-edged sword of extremes – it was painful and I felt guilt on one hand and on the other I felt incredibly blessed and fortunate. 

In choosing either path, I was forced to confront and deal with the things I didn’t want to deal with. I kept buying craft supplies and stuff to put salve on a wound that kept getting deeper every time I bought something new. I’ll go into those details more in the next post.

We chose the second path, sold off an incredible amount of stuff, and got out of debt. It was because I had amassed all of this stuff and had a BUNCH of etsy inventory that we were able to sell a great majority of the stuff off and in 20 days, raise the over $14,000+ we needed to close the gap between what we had already saved and the arrears amount the bank needed. I am very grateful for the people who helped me through this process and for every single customer, friend, and family member who bought things from us so we could make the deadline. It was one of the most incredibly difficult times in my life and tested the bonds of all of my relationships.

The process of determining which path to choose was a formative moment in my adulthood. It signified a change in where I looked for happiness. I’ll continue this story throughout the next few days. It is a long one. I am sharing this story because it fully explains where I am at now with crafting, why it seems things here at Hydrangea Hippo have changed, and where I am going next. I know things are different here than when you first came for a visit. I hope you’ll continue on the journey with me.

Keep up with our adventures, craft ideas, and frugal living tips by subscribing to the Hydrangea Hippo Crafty Newsletter.

Jennifer Signature Block-Fall 2014