Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Trees

 When do you put up your Christmas tree?  Do you put up just one or several?  Real or artificial?  I am a bit obsessed with trees and we have many in our house.  I put the artificial ones up gradually over the month of December.  We also get a live tree each year and we decorate it on Christmas Eve.

You can click HERE to see a post from my first year of blogging where I shared some photos of our trees and other decorations.  This photo shows the most unusual tree - an "upside down" tree.

Today we will be driving to Granada.  I think it is interesting that this city is at the confluence of three rivers - just like the town of Concord where we live!

(I am on a trip to see our son and daughter-in-law in Spain this week.  I wanted those of you on the email subscription to have something arrive each morning as usual, so I am sharing photos and short updates.  If I have internet access and time I will try to add some new photos from Spain when possible.  I have lots of crafty projects lined up to tackle when we get back, so stay tuned!).

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lots of tea light holders

These vellum candle shades are one of my all time favorite Cricut projects - very simple to do and so pretty.  You can read about how to make them at THIS POST.

Do you remember the candle holders I made for Halloween using the orange lids from Tropicana Orange juice bottles?

(Just click the photos to go to the original posts)

The orange color was perfect for Halloween and I collected some extras thinking that I could spray paint them for Christmas.

Well, here is some good news - if you buy the "orange juice beverage" that comes in this bottle it already has a red top - perfect for Christmas versions of the tea light holders.

I  have another idea for a way to use two of these bottle tops together - any guesses?

Today we will take a day trip to Toledo.  Everyone tells us it is a beautiful city with lots to see.  We will be trying out the marzipan candy that is made in all sorts of interesting tiny shapes - and yes, I will take photos!

(I am on a trip to see our son and daughter-in-law in Spain this week.  I wanted those of you on the email subscription to have something arrive each morning as usual, so I am sharing photos and short updates.  If I have internet access and time I will try to add some new photos from Spain when possible.  I have lots of crafty projects lined up to tackle when we get back, so stay tuned!).

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Dear Mermaid - a special Christmas Tree

Last Monday, my neighbor and I put up a Christmas tree at the Concord Museum.  Each year there is an exhibit called "Family Trees" showcasing about 35-40 trees.  Each tree is decorated with a children's book as inspiration.  Families tour the museum to see both the historical exhibits and the trees.  Some of the authors and illustrators come for a special event in the middle of December.  The exhibit will stay up until just after the New Year. 

This year our book was Dear Mermaid.  The book has beautiful illustrations in lovely glowing pastels and we took these colors, along with the images of beach and sea life, as the inspiration for our tree.

We made about six dozen ornaments, using the Life is a Beach Cricut cartridge with the charm feature.

The solid back of each ornament was cut from Core'dinations Core Couture glitter cardstock. The top design layers were cut from various shades of  Core'dinations gemstone cardstock.

For each image, we made ornaments at 2 1/2, 3 and 3 1/2 inches.  There were six of each shape with a few extras in additional shapes (treasure chest and seaweed) to make the backgrounds and the tops come out even!

All of the ornament charms were threaded with ribbon in a variety of colors similar to those in the book.

In the story, a little girl finds a purse on the beach.  She thinks it might belong to a mermaid - and it does!  She writes notes to the mermaid who replies by leaving notes and little gifts in the purse.  The mermaid is searching for a small gold key that she secretly took to open her mother's jewel chest.  Her mother will need the key to open up the jewel box before the Mer Festival so she can wear the shell tiara and other gems for the festival.  We made the shell purse by adding a shell from the Disney cartridge, Dreams Come True, to a purse from the Tags Bags Boxes and More cartridge.

The key is finally found inside a shell that the little girl was saving.  She gets it back to the mermaid just in time and the festival goes off without a hitch!

We had a lot of fun choosing the elements to  cut for the ornaments.  This little sand castle is very cute!

There is a lot of fabric cut in strips and woven through the tree.  We started with purple at the bottom and then blue and finally pink at the top.

Isn't this little whale with the hearts coming out the spout just adorable?  I usually am not into "cutesy" but this makes me smile!

This tree sits in a small room between two larger chambers.  We put it up on a box wrapped in fabric to represent the sand and the waves.  This will help to keep it a little safer from tiny hands (but there is very little on this tree that could be damaged by over-enthusiastic visitors).

When I have a chance, I'll try to post some photos of other trees I have decorated for this event.  Every year the books are different and the decorators have a lot of fun planning and creating the ornaments and putting their trees together.  If you live in the Boston area, you might want to take a trip out to Concord to the Concord Museum to see this exhibit.

While you are at the museum, you can also see the famous "one, if by land, and two, if by sea" lantern, that you may remember from Longfellow's poem, "Paul Revere's Ride."

(I am on a trip to see our son and daughter-in-law in Spain this week.  I wanted those of you on the email subscription to have something arrive each morning as usual, so I am sharing photos and short updates.  If I have internet access and time I will try to add some new photos from Spain when possible.  I have lots of crafty projects lined up to tackle when we get back, so stay tuned!).

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

The end of the Thanksgiving weekend

The Thanksgiving weekend is drawing to a close.  If you have to travel today, I hope everything goes smoothly for you.  I can remember several drives that took very long time due to nothing more than "sheer weight of traffic" (as they used to say when we lived in England).

This photo was taken a couple of years ago after a big storm.  We were driving to see some friends and saw this beautiful sky.  I used my little "purse camera" and took this from the window of the car.  The snow was very deep - the fence in the foreground is a normal split rail fence buried almost to the top rail.

Today we will travel from Madrid to Cuidad Real - there is a high speed train so the trip won't take very long. We are looking forward to seeing the city where our son and daughter-in-law are living.

(I am on a trip to see our son and daughter-in-law in Spain this week.  I wanted those of you on the email subscription to have something arrive each morning as usual, so I am sharing photos and short updates.  If I have internet access and time I will try to add some new photos from Spain when possible.  I have lots of crafty projects lined up to tackle when we get back, so stay tuned!).

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Santa

Usually, the weekend after Thanksgiving is the time I start decorating the house for Christmas.  This year everything will be done a week later.  This stained glass Santa wreath was made by my brother and was a gift many years ago.  It is one of the first things I put up each year.  It hangs in the window above the kitchen sink. 

We will arrive in Madrid this morning.  We'll probably be a bit jet lagged but I am hoping to be able to get some sleep on the plane. I hope you are having a great weekend!

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Friday, November 25, 2011

A Few Black Friday Sales

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had a nice time with a small family dinner and an extended family dessert!  If you have already been out shopping, I hope you found what you wanted at a great price!  We leave this afternoon for Spain (to see our son and daughter-in-law) so I won't be going to any stores.  There are a few online sales that I wanted to let you know about.

 Creative Charms Black Friday Sale

This weekend (now through Cyber Monday - the 28th) Creative Charms is having a sale.

Spend $30 get $10 off your order (use code BF30)
 Spend $40 and get $20 off your order (use code BF40).

There is also a giveaway on the Creative Charms Facebook page. The more comments the more prizes so be sure to stop by if you are a Facebook user.

Creative Memories Jingle Deals

I also want to let you know about the "Jingle Deals" - some special offers from Creative Memories that are available for just four days. Contact your consultant to take advantage of these deals - if you don't have a consultant already, I'd be happy to have you order through me.

Click HERE to see the Jingle Deals on my CM personal website.
  • Receive $1 shipping on orders of $50 or more. This offer does not include orders placed on the Digital Center or Persona Imprinting.
  • Receive 20 percent off all Content Collection CDs.
  • You can join the Creative Memories Rewards Club for just $19. That’s a savings of $20 from the previous price of $39.  You will get an immediate $10 credit when you join and earn 15% credit for future purchases each time you shop.
An additional special was added to sweeten the sale!  When you place a single order of $225 or more, you’ll receive this Jingle Deals bundle – a value of $94!  It makes a fantastic gift, or several great stocking stuffers!

      promo products
    • 12x12 PicFolio Photo Album – Blue (633892)
    • Nancy O’Dell Hummingbird Tape Runner (646236)
    • Expressions of Faith Vellum Accents (633912)
    • Expressions of Christmas Vellum Accents (638416)
    • Black Dual-Tip Pen (646221)
    • Rugged Everyday Recordable Paper Album Kit (644409)
    *Please note: depending on demand, an alternative PicFolio Photo Album (Ice Blue) may be substituted.

    If you have been thinking about purchasing a few of the Creative Memories Cricut cartridges, this would be a great time - the $1 shipping will save you quite a bit.  The cartridges (Cheerful Seasons, Reminisce Accents, Storks Delivery, Traveler and 'Tis the Season) are on THIS PAGE of my CM site.

    If you go together with a friend to reach a total of $225 - four cartridges and one additional item for $5 will do it - you could split up the extra items for a great deal.

    Blitsy Opens Friday - 10 AM Central Standard Time

    Blitsy opens today - be sure to check it out.  I like their plan to open at a "civilized" time - and you can shop in your PJs if you want to!

    If you haven't already joined, here is a link for you to use to sign up for a free membership at this new"deals" shopping site    After you join you can invite friends and earn credits when they make their first purchase.

    It will be a short night tonight and a very long day for us Saturday since we are taking an overnight flight to Spain.  At least we were able to get a direct flight so we won't be adding hours to the trip with a plane change.  With luck we will sleep on the plane at least a little bit - and our bags will arrive with us!

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    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    By Ralph Waldo Emerson

    For each new morning with its light,
    For rest and shelter of the night,
    For health and food,
    For love and friends,
    For everything Thy goodness sends.

    I want to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.
     I hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends.

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    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Creative Charms projects - and a secret sale!

    Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!  I hope you are having fun getting everything ready for celebrations with family and friends.  We are getting ready for the holiday and for our trip to see our son and his new wife in Spain.  I am planning to have posts ready for the days we are gone and I'll try to check email every so often but I will be spending most of my time with family for the next week and a half.

    Today is my day to post over on the Creative Charms blog.  Please click HERE to go to the blog and see the card and gift box I made.  There will be more details about making these projects posted on one of days that I am away. 

    More information about the "Black Friday" sales is rolling in.  It is a bit confusing since many places are trying to get a jump on the day after Thanksgiving with earlier offers.  If you are a fan of the sales, I wish you good luck in finding the things you want at great prices.  I may be doing a bit of online shopping but my priority is time with the family (and I'll be on a plane on Friday).

    I did just get an email about a sale I couldn't resist!  Lettering Delights is having a Customer Appreciation Sale.  They called it a "secret sale" but also suggested passing the information along to friends.  You can take 40% off any size order by using the code Merci2U and if you spend $30 or more you can use the code MerciBearcoup to save 60% on your order (so a $30 order would be only $12).  If you combine this discount with some of the special bundle prices, you can get a really good deal!  Click HERE to go to Lettering Delights to take advantage of this offer (I did not see the ending time for the sale but I'll add it when I find it.

    I use some of the Lettering Delights items in my Creative Memories StoryBook Creator 4.0 software.  You can also use the SVG and cut-its with some electronic die cutters (but not the Cricut unless you have a pre-lawsuit version of one of the third party software programs).  I cut these with my Silhouette SD (I am still thinking about the Cameo but have decided to wait a bit so I can research the best choice for my needs - I also have my eye on the Zing).

    I will be getting the stitches out of my hand today and doing some last minute shopping for Thanksgiving and the trip.  I need a few more hours each day to get everything done - how about you?!

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    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    A few quick notes...

    These are the ornaments that we made for the Christmas tree at the museum.  The tree is up - today we may go back and "tweek" it a bit.  I'll have some photos for you in a few days.  I just have a few quick things to mention this morning...

    Pop up card insert...

    Thanks for all of the nice comments about my Dad's card.  I am sorry but the pop-up insert is a purchased file from Silhouette and works only with the Silhouette Studio software on a Silhouette brand machine.  I can't convert it to another file format or share it.  A long time ago, Susan BlueRobot had some lessons on making pop up cards with the Cricut that might be helpful.  She did mostly words that were welded and reverse folded and eventually started working with Sure Cuts a Lot and Inkscape.  You can find her blog HERE and check the index to see if there are some lessons and files that might be helpful.  You'll probably get lost looking around at all of the creative projects she makes!

    Blitsy begins this week...

    I recently found out about a new "deal" site that is starting up - it is called "Blitsy" and will offer special sales to members (membership is free) and it will start with an emphasis on scrapbooking and paper crafting supplies.  Eventually there will be more general craft supplies as well.  Sales will begin on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and last for a week or until the items are sold out.

    I got an email on Monday to let me know that the first Blitsy sale will be on Black Friday, beginning at 10AM CST!  This is a brand new site and I am excited to see what they will have to offer.  Our flight to Spain is not until evening, so I should be able to check it out.

    To sign up, please use this link: 

    If you refer friends, you will earn a credit when they make their first purchase (so use my link to sign up and then get a link to send to your friends!).

    Photo editing magic...

    We saw a pretty sky when we were driving to Pennsylvania.  I snapped a few photos from the car but couldn't capture the true effect.  This is the original photo I took from the passenger seat along Route 287 near Morristown, New Jersey,

     With a little bit of cropping, and some digital manipulation of the contrast and color intensity I made this image...

    Now I want to try blending some inks to create a background that looks like this for a card.  We'll see how that works out!

    Jingle Deals coming from Creative Memories

    I also had an email on Monday with some information about the upcoming specials from Creative Memories - these will be in effect for just four days, November 25-28th
    • Receive $1 shipping on orders of $50 or more. This offer is valid only on my Personal Website and and does not include orders placed on the Digital Center, CMOnline or Persona Imprinting.  This is a big help if  you want to order a Cricut cartridge since the minimum shipping is normally $8.50 (the more you order the bigger the savings on shipping).
    • Receive 20 percent off all Content Collection CDs.  These are for use with the StoryBook  program.
    • You can join the Creative Memories Rewards Club for just $19. That’s a savings of $20.  Rewards Club members have access to exclusive products and promotions and earn 15% credit to be used on a future purchase each time they shop with Creative Memories.
    and just one more thing...

    This funny turkey door decoration was hanging on an apartment door at my father's retirement community.  It is made of felt.  If I had time, I might try to make a paper version for a card - maybe next year!

    I hope you have a great day!

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    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Dad's Birthday Card

    As a child, it was always exciting to get a card with your actual age printed on it.  When you are young you are always "going on ..."  (5 going on 6, etc.).  Once you are an adult, the actual number is less important, however, the "milestone birthdays" (usually the ones divisible by five) often are celebrated with a card that highlights the number.  When you reach a certain age, you start to brag about your age again - I remember my grandmother, who died at 89, always said she was "in her 90th year!"

    I decided to make my Dad a card with a nice big shiny "87" on the front.  I wanted to use chipboard and did not have time to fuss with drying times for glitter or paint.  So, once again, I reached for the DCWV "Dazzle" stack with the incredibly shiny silver paper.

    For the first time in a very long time, maybe years, I pulled out my old red Sizzix machine and the "Fun Serif" dies.  I cut the 8 and 7 from chipboard and from the Dazzle paper (since this is one sided paper I made sure to have the "right" side of the paper against the cutting edge of the die).  Then I wondered what would be the best way to make sure that the Dazzle paper was firmly attached to the chipboard.  I decided to use Scor-Tape but soon realized that it was not easy to make it fit the chipboard after it was cut.

    So, I added some 1/2 inch Scor-Tape in closely spaced lines across the piece of chipboard and cut the numbers again.

    This nifty little trick gave me numbers with a nearly solid covering of double sided tape so I could easily adhere the sparkly layer to the pieces.

    You can see here how much better this worked than the example on the left where I was trying to fit tape to the number after it was cut!

    I also used the 1/8 inch Scor-Tape on the inside of the card.  Since it is a pop up card, I wanted to be sure the insides would stay firmly attached.  I placed strips of the tape all along the sides and top of the folding parts of the card.  I removed the backing strips and set the insert into the card base.  Then I folded the top down onto the sticky tape.

    The moveable parts are now firmly in place. 

    Next I added tape to the bottom section of the insert, removed the backing and folded the card shut on top of the sticky insert.

    This pop up insert will stay in the card no matter how many times it is opened!  I added some gems to the candle flames after this photo was taken.  This is a file from the Silhouette store that I purchased and cut with my Silhouette SD.  A lot of the files in the store are very simple or are things that I could make myself but this file would be very time consuming to make so I was happy to pay 99 cents for it.  I have already used it for several birthday cards.

    We had a great trip to Pennsylvania and Dad is doing well.  Here he is with our younger son just before we left to drive home this morning.  Thanks again to all of you who sent cards - he really enjoyed them and particularly liked seeing how many different states they had come from.

    It was fun to see all of the guesses about what I paid for this little box and the treasures inside it.  Miz MaryAnn got it spot on - $2!  I think that was a great deal.

    My hand is healing - the stitches are due to come out Wednesday morning.  I can move the fingers much more easily now that the swelling is down - a good thing since I'll be decorating a Christmas tree today. I hope your Thanksgiving preparations are going well - we will have a veggie feast here and then will go see some of our family for dessert.  No turkey since we leave the next day for Spain and our vegan son won't be wanting turkey leftovers while we are gone!

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