I took up bullet journalling

Something different has been happening for me and it seems to be working. I discovered bullet journalling and wow is it making a difference to how I organise myself! Previously I had a mix of digital and analogue sources – Outlook for work, SolCalendar for tasks, Google Calendar and Facebook Events online, as well as my sharehouse calendar in the kitchen. I also used ColorNotes for random notes and reminders to myself. Basically I was technically organised, but it was scattered and limited to where I was in my day. Now everything is centralised! Also my stationery addiction is back…

Which means I will be sharing some of my window shopping finds on this blog as a way of keeping those centralised when I share them around. Sydney is such a great city to live in and there are just SO many shops around! So bookmark this page if you want to follow along on my shopping adventures!

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Life and stuff

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If you get this you are awesome.

So what have I been up to?

  • I love my day job. I spend my days neck deep in Excel data, and that is the way I like it. I was sad to leave behind my archaeology career, but finding a day job I enjoy and excel at means I do not feel like I sold myself short. The best thing about a part time job is when I am not working I actually have time for things like reading, sleeping, painting my nails and…
  • I have a second job for an indie nail polish company. It isn’t a secret and anyone who follows my Facebook page will have noticed a brand preference. I had that preference before I started running the Instagram and Facebook pages for the brand though, and that hasn’t changed. I have made a tonne of new friends around the world through this venture and I am loving it!
  • My room is still in the process of being organised. I still need to buy the cabinent for my sewing and craft supplies, and until I do so, I will consider it a work in progress. I can’t wait to get rid of my plastic storage crates full of fabric.
  • I have been destashing my makeup, including all my non-indie nail polish. I have also discovered new brands for makeup – although I am trying not to hoard them now I have destashed. I gave away three hundred of bottles of non-indie nail polish, and somehow still have two hundred bottles of indie nail polish. Excitement is swatching them and seeing how pretty they all are.
  • I spend all my time with two of my friends (who are also housemates) watching Netflix as I work my second job or paint my nails. When I am not doing that, I am sleeping or playing with Excel data. Life is pretty awesome.
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A small sample of why I love this part of my life.

In the next little while (notice how I didn’t clarify how long a while is?), I will upload a number of posts with my nail art from the last year or so. I want to delete things off my phone, but I also want a record of it somewhere.

You should probably follow me on Instagram if you want to see regular posts ;-p @zjanoir

Organising my nail polish hoard

It is a not-so-well kept secret that I have an obsession with nail polish. Actually, the word ‘secret’ has never been used in conjunction with my nail polish obsession at any point of time in my life. It is a well known fact that I love both makeup and art, and the fact that I can combine the two has ensured my attraction to nail polish and nail art.

My obsession started when I was about ten and bought a no-name brand of electric blue shimmer. I don’t have that nail polish any more (I used most of it before it died though!) but I definitely have many shades like it. I have always had a larger nail polish collection than most of my friends. It used to be cheap brands like BYS, Ulta3, Savvy, and other brands you may or may not know about. About six years ago I stepped up to brands like Rimmel London and Sally Hansen and bought a lot more than I had previously. In the last year or so I have mostly been buying OPI, Sinful Colors and Australian indies. I dabbled with brands like Essie and China Glaze but realised that OPI and indies meet all of my needs and are more collectable. In a nail art emergency I will head to Kmart and pick up the relevant polish from Sinful Colors.If you know me or have been following my Black Threads posts, you will know that I am currently overhauling my possessions as I am a bit of a hoarder with a lot of hobbies. This means that I own a lot of things and if I can’t find something I tend to replace it. No more! From now on, I will have clear work space for my hobbies and an organised storage system so I can easily find things. I also plan to check the viability of products like acrylic paints and my nail polishes. Because why have things that do not work any more?! I bought Seche Restore to perk up some polishes I can’t bear to part with (Sally Hansen seems to dry up pretty quickly and I will cry if I can’t use Copperhead any more! Especially as I finally completed the collection!), but I think that if I find I have a comparable shade I may throw out polishes that have dried up or an inconsistent application. I also hope to rehome some polishes that I do not need any more. I originally had an idea to use old or unwanted polishes in an artwork for my wall, but that may just be a project that falls by the wayside.

As well as physically organising my stash, I need to do some hard core analysis of my spending and part of that is categorising my collection and creating a database so I don’t buy shades that are too similar (or the same!). I have already cut down on my spending in the last few months, because my stash had turned into a hoard.

My organisation will be three pronged:

  • Nail database created in Evernote
  • Swatches organised by colour and numbered
  • Polishes organised by brand and swatch numbers recorded

Nail database created in Evernote

I have created a database in Evernote, because the polish database I was using was local to my phone only. I want to use Evernote because it is PC and App, shareable, and I can send entries via email using a template I have created in Gmail or by using templates I have created within the app. It is the type of platform that can be incredibly simple or host something incredibly complex. I have already built up the layers of my database, I now just need to go through and populate it with all my polishes. So far it has my MoYou London stamping plates, Pretty Serious and Celestial Cosmetics nail polish and nail care items. I used these to go through and test that my design was viable, and with a few tweaks, it appears to be so.

Zja's Evernote Database
A screenshot of the Evernote database mid-creation.

I started working out my Evernote database on the train home which was a great use of the commute time (I spend a lot of time on public transport). In Evernote, you have Stacks (Nail Product Categories), Notebooks (Brands) and then Notes, which can be various sorts of formates, but mine will be Text and have inserted photos. You can duplicate notes too, so I set up a template for each of the four categories I used for stacks. I can then duplicate the relevant template for each new item I add to the database. Obviously I will add the swatch numbers and swatch photos of them they are completed. I am using the promo swatches for now, and it is so easy to click on a brand and scroll down until you see the polish you want. Luckily I can get most of the relevant information from the Internet whilst commuting and my hoard has not grown to gargantuan levels that I cannot recall a polish I own to Google for its details. It will have room to transparently grow and evolve in future though with these measures put in place. I also have tags of type and colour for each entry and these
are fully searchable. I am REALLY loving Evernote for creating databases. I will do a more detailed post about this shortly explaining how you can use Evernote to create a database.

Swatches

Swatches will be on the display sticks I have purchased off eBay and organised by colour. Last night my housemate and I sat down and did the first coat on about 170 of my polishes. We ran out of stickers for labels but I only had a few display sticks left in any case. I need to buy more of both, and some small circle stickers I can use to number the swatches for cross reference purposes.

My housemate assisting me in the swatching process.
My housemate assisting me in the swatching process.
Stage one of the swatching process.
Stage one of the swatching process.

Each swatch stick will have two coats over a clear swatch display stick, with no top coat.. I find that the majority of polishes are too thin for one coat and you cannot usually see a problem with three coats. Two coats is the happy medium. I decided to forgo a top coat because a number of polishes are matte or textured. I may have to add a top coat to some glitter polishes, but I will mention that on the label of each stick. If a swatch is off a top coat, bottom coat or actual stamping polish, I am indicating this on the label with (TC), (BC) or (SP). I will organise the sticks by colour, although I am not sure how I will be handling the numbering. I had thought for it to be sequential, but it that sequential by way of brand? I have no idea. It will probably be a combination of brand identification and numbered polishes within those categories. Perhaps XX-000? I plan to buy another set of swatch sticks so I can also have them organised by type of polish (i.e. glitters verses holos, etc.). For now I am sticking with just the one set, but it is definitely a future project I expect to kick off. I am thinking of also creating a little bound book where I can try stamping with each polish as well. I will do some more research into these swatching methods down the track.

Physical organisation

The system I currently have in place seems to be really working for me. I have purchased small pencil trays from our local Tek’s and organised the polishes by brand. I need to decide on some sort of labelling medium for each brand, but the bottle lids are mostly different enough that I can easily distinguish a brand without needing to pull out all my polishes. I get a bit annoyed with how similar the lids and bottles of Sinful Colors are to OPI, but that was a fairly smart business decision on their part. I have those brands sitting on different shelves so it isn’t usually an issue.

Waiting

I had a thought of customising the shelves on my Billy so they can be pulled out. I have the shelves spaced shallowly to save space, so this seems like a good way of promoting ease of access. I was thinking of using drawer sliders, although I need to do a cost comparison for parts. For now my polishes just sit in trays in the shelves and I pull them out a few centimetres to determine the brand I am after. I can then just take out the tray and find the polish I am after.

Swatch of Mysterious by Celestial Cosmetics. The name of the polish is on the front, the brand is on the back.
Swatch of Mysterious by Celestial Cosmetics. The name of the polish is on the front, the brand is on the back. (Ignore my week old mani – it is Reaper Crew from Celestial Cosmetics and was to be changed the day that the photo was taken).

All in all, I am happy with how the organisation of my nail polish hoard is coming along. I spent a lot of time thinking and planning before actually executing the organisation, and using change management principles I had picked up in my work life has really helped the overall process. The organisation has been designed to grow and evolve with my future purchases.

Keep an eye out for an entry on Black Threads on how to create a database using Evernote. As well as using it to organise nail polishes, I am sure it would also be quite useful for organising craft or sewing stashes!

Organising my stash – Part II

Fabric stash and sewing supplies

My sewing stash requires a bit more organisation than the rest of my crafting and art supplies. For starters, I prefer to store my fabric behind glass or hard plastic so it is safe from damp, moths and kittens. I had about four 52L plastic storage tubs, which, as you can imagine, took up quite a bit of space! I am now folding them using a quilting ruler, so all the cotton and cotton blends are now folded to the same width and fit in less space.

Organising fabric stash
I found this on Facebook and it is very apt of my own fabric stash.

I still need to find a sensible way of storing my tulle and heavier garment fabrics (velvet, taffeta, etc.). For now I am leaving them in their storage tubs and have placed them above my wardrobe. I usually use those for cosplay outfits, so they do not need to be as accessible.

I plan to buy the Lillången cabinet for my fabric and sewing supplies. It has glass doors with deep shelves where I plan to store my fabric, and two inset shelves where I can store my sewing supplies. It is a bit expensive so I will be buying it later this year.

Lillången from Ikea
Lillången from Ikea

I have all my supplies in mason jars as I my Mum was throwing out hers. I got 3 crates of them for free! Yeay for free things! They are great for segmenting all my supplies and has already saved me from the endless search for sewing shears or measuring tapes! Every one is labelled using chalkboard stickers so I can easily know where everything goes. These are currently on my Billy shelves and books are currently double stacked to make room for them. Eventually they will be going in the Lillången shelves.

I have bought some shelf brackets to erect and threadle with metal skewers – those will be to store all my washi tapes (I have a bit of an obsession!). I’ll be hanging these off the side the Billy book case closest to my desk. It also has two Variera bag dispensers (also from Ikea) attached to the side to store my wrapping paper rolls and rulers. Those cost $2 and prove that all the time I spend on Pinterest and craft blogs are worth my time! Such a great idea!

At the beginning of last year I bought a fantastically large desk from Officeworks, and it doubles as a sewing, craft and study space. No more commandeering the kitchen table for cutting out patterns!

I am well on the way to having a functional space. It makes me happy! Although….

more craft
…the eternal dilemma…

Life in general – 2015

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I thought it was about time I did another update. Originally I had a very large post, but I thought I might split it up into sections that made sense. So here it is. First an update on what has been going on in my life, and then in the next few days I will include some entries directly related to this blog.

Professional self

Life is pretty darn good, actually. I have a new job, and for the first time in my life I am being paid to do something I love. And even better, I am so damn good at what I do that I have recognition in the company on a national level. It is pretty crazy. And I love it. The work is charting and formatting with a bit of administration – so it means I get to geek out over Excel charts on a daily basis, format documents, create graphics and manage an office. I freaking love it. I like to think that I was building up to this with my other jobs, because I have finally found a niche that works for my skills and interests. It isn’t archaeology but it is for the sort of company that deals in research – and I have assisted on a few projects where the clients wanted information about their heritage concerns. I have been studying, but I have come to the realisation that a Masters in Cultural Heritage with a view towards consulting isn’t what I want or need in my life. I either need to do archaeology or have a day job I am fulfilled by. Luckily my new job (12 months is still new, right?) fulfils me, so I don’t feel too guilty about making a decision to step back from Cultural Heritage. At this stage I have only deferred for one semester, but I am pretty confident that I will be withdrawing from the course completely. I work part time now, so it means I have more time for my social life, writing, reading, sewing and art.

Home life

I have an awesome house, a new kitten (new as of November), and absolutely freaking amazing housemates. My friends are awesome and mostly shared with my housemates, and even if they aren’t, everyone gets along. My home life is finally great. We’ve been living together for a few years, so this isn’t news really, but I have had some abusive and/or passive aggressive housemates in the past, so a stable home is still worth mentioning. Also, did I mention the kitten? Red Sonja is an adorably cute she-devil. I love that little monster to bits. I’m steadily making leeway on designing the perfectly organised room, and it is a process I am really enjoying. Of course this means a lot of time on Pinterest, crafty blogs and store websites, so there is that…

Red Sonja doesn't want me to finish putting together my new shelves.
Red Sonja doesn’t want me to finish putting together my new shelves.

My outlook going forwards

I feel both my professional opportunities and home life have helped me grow a lot as a person, and made a very big difference to my life, happiness, and my view of the future. I may not be working in archaeology currently, but I am happy with my life anyway. I know I can volunteer around my job and whilst travelling overseas off in the future. It isn’t a dead end, I have just taken another path. It is amazing how much having a love you love, and are valued for, makes to your outlook on life. Of course I love getting off work and going home for down time, but it means my outlook overall has improved drastically. I turned 30 last year, and it is like the last year has been full of leaps and bounds in personal development. I know I thought I would own my own home and have a PhD and kickarse archaeology job by the time I was 30, but those goals just weren’t financially realistic. Not if I wanted to continue to live in Sydney, which I do. Instead my current goals are to finish organising my room (planning completed, some furniture bought, achievement close to being unlocked!) and saving up for a big trip to Germany with a friend in 2018. I am more positive than I have been for years, and I love my life even though it is not where I thought I would be. Sometimes the journey diverges from the path you expected to follow, but that isn’t always such a bad thing.

YES!

Organising my stash

I am in the process of organising my room. As a hoarder, it has been really difficult to thin down my hoard, but I have gotten to the point that I nearly have the storage space to organise things how I want them. Nearly. I just need 2 or 3 more Billy bookshelves for this to be complete. In the mean time I am researching possible storage solutions that will work for me. Which basically means I am haunting the internet. I have so many bookmarks saved! I have a limited budget so I guess I will be making do with mason jars (I have billions Mum gave me because she wasn’t using them), shoe boxes (I need donations from more of my friends) and magazine boxes for the time being. If I had any power tools I would just make everything myself. I guess that will be next on my list of things to buy after the bookshelves. I get so frustrated that I can’t just make things myself.

Rather than the all black furniture I wanted, I ended up with white furniture (sales are my friend), and aside from my black iron and glass desk and my black iron bed frame the only non-white furniture I own an antique bureau I don’t want to paint. The rest of the furniture in my room is from Ikea because it fits my current budget. So as my furniture is black and white, I am planning on splashes of colour in my shelves. My bedspreads are all leopard print (yes, all of them!!!) and I have purple curtains. I can’t wait to see it all complete! I have bought some interesting wrapping paper to cover the few shoe boxes I have managed to scrounge, and have ordered some interesting labels from eBay so I can find things easily. I can’t wait for them to arrive so I can start the next step! This weekend I plan to move the long low shelf out into the kitchen for our cook books, music and booze collection, which means I  can get at the plastic storage crates where I have my sewing and craft hoards stored.

In the next month or so I have the delightful task of trying to organise a massive book collection, fabric collection and craft supplies in three Billy bookshelves. Luckily half my books are in the hallway, but even with half my books in my room they are double stacked! I do think I have a teensy weensy problem when it comes to books. So… I plan to buy another two Billy book shelves from Ikea. Possibly three, as I think I can fit in one of the slimmer ones as well. We will see.

Here is a quick snap of the first phase of my room overhaul. Everything has just been thrown where ever it fits until I have more shelving. Note the double rows of books – still!

Anyway, I am still researching DIY storage solutions, but at the moment, this is how I am proposing to organise things on my Billy shelves.

Mason Jars
– different types of pens & pencils
– scissors, craft knives & rulers
– craft supplies
– tools
– buttons

Boxes
– material (organised via type & pattern/colour)
– props & costumes (organised by subculture)
– paints
– fixatives & glues
– threads, bobbins & ribbons

Magazine boxes
– art journals
– sewing patterns and sewing machine manuals
– academic journals (hey, don’t forget I am an archaeologist & grad student)
– assorted magazines I am keeping for various reasons

Spice racks
– nail polish

Loose
– sewing machines
– books
– frames & artwork

Oh, one of the exciting things? My new desk is massive and will be perfect not just to study at, but for sewing! Yeay!!!

Social Networking: Brand Marketing 101 for Niche Fashion

A person in a Facebook group I belong to asked the following question. She has an online shop in a niche market and wanted to know more about marketing her brand. I don’t have a background in fashion marketing, but I do for marketing in the book blog/writer ‘industry’, if you will. These kind of concepts are fairly basic to any brand management and marketing. You create content, you network, gain followers, and then your future content is sent out via your networks to these followers. You need to have a unique brand, something worth saying, and know how to hook in your audience to follow the crumbs (links) you leave back to your blog or website.

This was the question and below is my response:

What’s the difference between blogging, using your facebook posts as a blog, tweeting and newsletters? What difference would adding a blog make to my business?

Okay, here goes! Marketing 101!

Blogging is your platform to add self expression to your brand, to share ‘how to wear it’ features and a personal touch to your brand. Twitter, Facebook and newsletters are your marketing strategy. Your content is on your blog, and then you put links back to your blog on your social networks (Twitter and Facebook), and small articles or snippets of content on your newsletter to tease your followers to come back and look at your blog and website. You should be able to see how other businesses marketing clothes use social networking as a way of interacting with their followers. Pinup Girl Clothing is the perfect example if you would like to do some research.

Personally? I would suggest you make a blog, sell yourself on it (outfit of the day, style features (niche, plus size, trends) and mention how this could work with your line of clothes. Have a Facebook page and link it all together. Only have a ‘business’ blog if you are going to do things like style features that reference your business line, and utilize Facebook to leverage this and your website sales.

Make sure your Facebook page (not profile), blog and business all share the same name, and make it something that is a little different from other brands that are in the same niche market. An example is Hell Bunny in the alternate culture fashion industry. They cater to a lot of different alternate cultures, and they have built a unique brand that resounds with both their customers, and the market space.

Oh, and to answer the unasked question, Blogger and WordPress are both fantastic and can link in really well to websites. If you don’t have technical skills I would suggest Blogger as it is very user friendly. If you are great at WordPress or similar sites, or are willing to learn, you should check out WordPress. It is more versatile if you know how to customize things!

The examples I suggested are Pinup Girl Clothing and Hell Bunny. Check out their pages and see how they do things. They are fantastic, and their marketing is great. They use Facebook to interact with their followers, and their blogs to show how their clothes can be worn with flair.

Costume: Lando Calrissian (Part III)

sewing

I’ve been working my butt off. It is 3am, but it is all starting to come together. I really want to go to bed, but I am on a roll and I am worried if I do that it will mean I will be late tomorrow.

Done:

  • Blaster (thanks to Simon!)
  • Hair – dyed dark red. I couldn’t find a wig shop in time, and it took so long for the black to go last time I dyed it black. Dark red will have to do!
  • Cuffs on the shirt
  • Collar of the cape
  • Bottom hem of both the blue drill and the gold paisley fabric (such a pretty stitch!)
  • Pinned the side seams ready to sew

Still to go:

  1. Sew side seams, joining the outer cape and lining
  2. Decide how to dart the back of the cape (so many options!)
  3. Sew the neckline
  4. Attach the cape and the collar to the neckline
  5. Figure out how the hell the cape will stay up!
  6. Figure out how to sew a black spandex collar on a blue blend v-neck.
  7. Drink more tea

My grandmother gave me her old Toyota Quiltmaster, and I swear it is the best sewing machine I have ever owned! I have a feeling I will be sewing a little bit more now because it is such a delight to use.

Cosutme: Lando Calrissian (Part II)


I wish I could be at home making my Lando costume. I am itching to get stuck into making my cape! I think I have a solution for his blaster too! I wandered into a discount book store which was having a sale (kids books were STILL $5! ) and found an electric toy gun. It looks really shoddy, and I can’t believe they wanted $8 for it (it makes sounds and is see through – ooh, spacey!). There is NO w…ay I would let a child play with it, but I think I can dismantle it, take out the shoddy electrics, put it back together and mount a scope on the top. I will probably paper mache over the whole thing though, because it needs extra bumps in the barrel.

Why am I at work when I could be creative? D: Being an adult really sucks sometimes! Of course, kids can’t spend more than $100 on items to make a costume LOL

Now all I need is to find a black wig to buy.

Costume: Lando Calrissian (Part I)

Lando_smoothie

This year my friend and I are dressing up for Supanova. Supanova is a convention held around Australia at different times of the year. This year one of the guests is Carrie Fisher and I am a massive Star Wars fan. So Sarah is going as Han Solo and I am going as Lando Calrissian. I am not sticking to cannon. This will be a goth girl’s interpretation of Lando. And I am really excited to be planning my outfit. I left it late again this year, but hopefully it is possible. The only bit I am concerned about is making Lando’s blaster. I’ll probably paper mache something I guess.

lando

On Sunday I went to Kmart to see if they had any blue shirts I could alter. I was in luck! I found one which was only $8 and the right colour. The only issue is it is a V neck, but I can work with that.

lando dragons
Lando’s silk brocade cape lining – and yes, those are dragons!

Today I bought fabric my fabric for the Lando cape and I am now itching to get sewing! However I have since realized I should try the shirt I bought from Kmart on first, just in case it does not fit and I have to make one from scratch instead. They didn’t have any yellow/gold/amber brocade, so I had to buy a paisley cotton print instead. Expensive, but still very beautiful! It won’t be cannon, but I still want this cape to be as close as I can make it. You should see the wet look material I bought to bind the shirt cuffs and create a collar on the cape and skirt. It is so pretty! 😀
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I really can’t wait to see how it all comes together!