Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year is nearly here...Thank You

Today I will have completed three years of daily posting on my blog.  It is quite a challenge to keep up with posting every single day.  I made a New Year's resolution to post daily in 2009.  By the time I finished the first year, I was in the habit of daily posting and I was a bit too stubborn to stop and break the record in 2010 and 2011!

I actually started this blog almost four years ago and I have plans for a special "blogoversary" celebration at the beginning of February.  I have learned a lot and shared a lot over the years.  It has been so much fun to get to know many people through comments and questions and I have been very lucky to have had the chance to meet quite a few of my "virtual" friends in person.

I have decided that it may be time to change the way I post.  I need to give myself more time to work on projects that won't always be things that I can share on the blog.  Many of you write and tell me that you look forward to reading my posts with your morning coffee and I don't want to let you down.  I need to make some of my posts much shorter and sometimes post just a photo or a quote for inspiration.

I am planning to do more posts that encourage you to participate and try new things.  I'll be starting with the "virtual ATC swap" that we talked about last month.  I am also thinking about doing a "simple scrapbook pages" series for those of you who want to make your photos and stories the stars of your pages (and who don't want to spend hours or days on a single page).  This could be the year to finally tackle the "backlog" and make some sense of it all!

I have been asked to do some more giveaways for companies and I will take on a few of these, however, I don't want this to become a "giveaway blog".  I would like people to come here because they find inspiration, honest and fair information about products, and help and instruction for learning how to use their crafting tools and technology.

Today I want to say thanks to all of you who continue to read and comment on my blog.  I have collected some favorite Thank You cards from the past years - you may or may not remember these.  You should be able to click on each photo to go to the original post.  Many of these posts included detailed directions with screenshots and files.  Please let me know if you have any trouble with the links.

I have some other plans in the works for this year and I will share them as soon as I can.  This could be a very exciting year if everything comes together the way I hope it will!

Something funny...

My son pointed out that I have now a Gypsy and a Vagabond - we wonder what will come next, a "Hobo" or a "Scoundrel"?

A few more "enabling" notes...

Northridge Publishing is holding a giveaway for a new Silhouette Cameo - you must enter by January 4th and you can get all of the details on their blog HERE.  Just leaving a comment on their post gets you in the contest and there are additional ways to get multiple entries listed.

If you have any Cricut Lite or Cricut Projects and Events cartridges that you haven't entered for the rewards program be sure to do it TODAY to get double rewards points (must be entered between 12/1/11 and 12/31/11 to qualify).  You can find the Cricut Rewards site HERE.

The Creative Memories Year End sale was extended to January 1st.  They will be having an album sale from January 2-26th.  20%  off on many colors and styles.  Digital StoryBooks printed at the CM Digital Center are also included in the album sale. The new Cricut cartridge "This and That" will be available in January.

The second chance sale at Blitsy runs until January 3.  Quite a few items have been "blitsed" (sold out) but there are some nice items (Spellbinders, Tim Holtz, Ranger, Stickles, La Blanche stamps, 7Gypsies, etc.) still available.  On Wednesday, January 4th, they'll be posting new sales and will start following the Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule again.

Lettering Delights  dollar days sale is continuing.  Most items are just $1 (Graphic sets, fonts, alphabets, clip art, paper packs, doodlebats, candy wraps, etc.) and the Cut-its and SVGs are 50% off.  If you spend $50 you can take $20 off with the code newyear20.  If you don't want to spend that much, you can "buy" the monthly freebie and when your confirmation email arrives there will be a code for 25% off your next order.

(clicking on the red words will take you to the sites mentioned).

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve Celebration!!!

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Crafty Goals and Plans

Today is the next to the last day of 2011 - New Year's Eve Eve!  I have already started working on some of my goals for the coming year.  Some exciting travel plans are in the works - my fingers are crossed for everything to work out and then I'll be able to tell you about where I am going.  The things you see when you travel (like this cathedral ceiling in Spain) are such great sources of inspiration for projects.   I have also decided to tackle one messy area or "hot spot" in the house each day to try to get things better organized.  Yesterday I started with the overflowing ironing basket and it is now empty! 

It's a lot easier to iron if you bring the equipment to a spot where you can watch an old movie while you work.  I watched "Bells Are Ringing," a musical about an answering service.  It takes place before people had answering machines, voice mail, or text messages - if the phone was ringing and you missed it, you just didn't get the message unless you hired an answering service to pick up the call and relay the information.  The movie made me realize how much we all rely on the devices available to us today to keep in touch and make our lives easier.

You may wonder why I have a photo of an Advent Calendar box here - Christmas is over and Advent started almost a month ago...  This isn't even my calendar, it is one that I helped a friend make because she doesn't have a Silhouette machine so she couldn't cut out the drawers.  I have two of the same calendars to make - and I am planning to start them as soon as I can in January to avoid last minute crafting pressure.  In fact, another goal of mine is to do a much better job of scheduling my crafting time to be sure that I finish the things I really want to make and don't get sidetracked when I see or hear about other projects that seem like fun things to try.

What are your crafting goals for the coming year?  Are there any particular types of projects or new techniques you'd like to learn? Do you have tools that you may not be using to their fullest potential?  Do you want to learn more about technology and how it can help you craft more easily?  Are you interested in trying to "catch up" with your scrapbooks (a goal that many have and few complete!)?  I'd be interested to know if there are areas you'd like me to write about in the coming year.  I have some plans but also appreciate feedback so I can keep things interesting for everyone who reads my blog.

Do you recognize the items in this photo?  These are some empty reels from my ATG refills.  Much to my husband's dismay, I have a habit of saving things that I think have crafty potential and I wanted to tell you to hang on to any of these that you might usually throw away...I think they will be perfect for a project I'll be trying soon. 

I do have to say that my husband is very patient with my crafty hoarding and sometimes he even encourages it.  He brought home some empty decorative boxes from a "tower of treats" that was delivered to his office for the holidays.  They are cute just as they are or could be altered for a fun project.  I told him he was lucky to have a wife who loved empty boxes - just think about how much money he can save when the boxes don't need to be filled with anything and I am still happy!

I am also thinking about trying to do Project 365 this year.  If you aren't familiar with this, the idea is that you take a picture every single day of the year and put them together into an album that represents your real life - not just special events and holidays.  I already take pictures almost every day and I think I may try doing this project digitally to make it easier to keep up on a daily basis.

There are variations on the idea including doing a weekly or monthly page if a daily commitment seems too overwhelming.  Some people also start a separate blog for their daily photos.  Well, I have another day or two to think it over! 

On more thing I want to mention...

The Creative Memories Year End Savings Sale has been extended through January 1, 2012.  You can see the items on sale on my CM personal website by clicking HERE.  There will also be a sale on albums in January.

I hope you have a great Friday!

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter Decorations with Creative Charms


Today is my day to post on the Creative Charms blog.  I decided to do a Winter project and avoid the overload of red and green that many of us are feeling by now.  Of course, I love blue and white so it was easy to talk myself into this theme!

I started with the small solo shadowbox tray by 7Gypsies - I just got this in my last order from Blitsy (they have sold out of these now but the regular price is $10 so it's not too expensive even if you have to pay full price at another store).

For the backing paper in each compartment I used this stack by DCWV.  I cut the word Winter from the Cheerful Seasons Cricut cartridge in blue Dazzle cardstock, also from DCWV.

For the large top section, I added a piece of Core'dinations Core Couture glitter cardstock in white along the bottom.  I hand cut a curve to look something like a snowbank.

The rosette in the center section along the bottom was cut with the Tim Holtz rosette die with paper that I printed on the Imagine from the Heirloom cartridge.

I like the effect you get by layering gem stickers on top of other embellishments like these snowflakes.  used some snowflakes from the Winter Seasonal Medley and the Winter Seasonal Sparkles and then added Gradient Gem stickers to the centers for additional dimension and color.

Here are a few tips for working with these trays.

1.  Be sure to measure the inside dimensions of each section that you plan to "wallpaper" with some background paper.  They are usually just a bit smaller than the nominal size.  This box is supposed to have a 4 x 6 compartment and three 2 x 2 compartments.  I actually cut the paper at 5 7/8 x 3 7/8 for the large section and 1 7/8 x 1 7/8 for the small squares.

2.  The depth is nearly 3/4 of an inch so you can add lots of small dimensional items and place tiny figures or shapes on the ledges of the box.  I am going to start a box with anything I find that has the potential to fit in one of these trays.  I also used adhesive foam squares to raise some of the items within the box.

3.  You can change out the sections inside the box for different seasons if you use repositionable tape or magnets to hold the piece of paper in place.

4.  I "fussy cut" the small sections for the bottom row to make sure that a full key and the entire medallion would fit into these positions.

5.  Tweezers are very helpful when working with the papers and trying to get them out of the compartments when you are ready to stick everything down.

This sort of project is fairly quick and easy to do if you gather all of your coordinating papers and embellishments together and just start trying various placements and combinations of elements.  This would make a great little gift for a friend or just a nice decoration to tuck in an empty spot on a table or shelf.

Lettering Delights  Dollar Days sale is continuing.  Most items are just $1 (Graphic sets, fonts, alphabets, clip art, paper packs, doodlebats, candy wraps, etc.) and the Cut-its and SVGs are 50% off.  You can get an additional savings of $20 off on an order of $50 or more by using the code newyear20.

We went to see the movie "Hugo" in 3D last night - it was amazing!  Do you go to the movies during the holiday season?  It has become a tradition in our family to try to see at least one movie in the theater over the holidays.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Presents and Sales

The first few days after Christmas are exciting when you have new gifts to try out.  Our son got a special electric tea kettle and did an impromptu tea tasting for some of the family at our party on Monday.   New clothes are usually worn right away and all of the tasty treats must be sampled.  As a child, it was always a great feeling to have school vacation and free time to enjoy the gifts we received.

Yesterday I had planned to do a lot of projects around the house but things didn't go according to plan.  I have to admit that I got sidetracked by the new books that I got for Christmas, started reading and finished one of them.  I love to read but don't seem to find the time often enough - maybe I will add planned reading time to my list of things to do next year.

I did get my new Vagabond out of the box and cut a few trial projects.  First I used some Sizzix dies for a three dimensional five point star and a globe made of circles scored and folded to make a triangular shape with flaps.  I used 140 pound watercolor paper and it cut and scored beautifully.

I have always been fascinated by these globes and have tried cutting circles with the Cricut and scoring them around a triangle template but the die makes it so much easier and faster.  I know I could make a file for the Silhouette with perforated lines for the scoring but the smooth creases created by the die make a nicer looking finished project.  The right tool for the job can make a big difference and I love to collect the tools - that is why my craftroom is overflowing with "stuff" (and desperately in need of a good cleaning and organizing session!).

I had heard that the Vagabond was great with the thin dies, like this "English Tea Party" doily from Cheery Lynn, and it's true.  I found it so much easier to cut the doily with the electric motor doing all of the work.  I did send it back and forth a few times just to be sure that all of the details would be cleanly cut.  When I used these dies in my Cuttlebug, it was hard work to crank them through.

I'll be posting more detailed information about my impressions of the Vagabond after I get to do some more trial cuts.  It is very heavy compared to the Cuttlebug or the Big Shot and the motor is quieter than I expected (a nice plus).  The machine is expensive (retail price $249.99) but it has been out for a while now and prices have dropped.  Blitsy had it for $164.95 but it is sold out now.  I saw it on Oh My Crafts for $189.99 (with a $10 Oh My Crafts Gift card).

Someone had a question about where to find the Memory Box dies I have been using lately.  I have purchased mine at a local store.  If you go to the Memory Box site you can use the store locator and choose your state to see if there is a seller near you.  They are also available at a number of online retailers - click "Web Stores" at the top of the store locator list to see where you can buy the dies.

The Creative Memories Year End sale is on with savings from 20 - 50% on select items.  The sale lasts only two days (December 28 and 29) and you can see all of the details on my CM website HERE.

The StoryBook Creator 4.0 software that I use is on sale for $51.95 (download or disc) and there are great prices on a couple of Disney items (a punch and mini paper album).  Please let me know if you have any questions about the items on sale.

Remember, Blitsy is also having a second chance sale with all of the items they have offered since they opened listed again and available (while supplies last) until January 3, 2012.  I checked yesterday and while some items have been "blitsed" (sold out), there are still lots of great items available.  If you aren't a member yet, you can use my link to sign up   and then get your own link to refer your friends and family - when they make their first order of $10 or more you will get a $10 credit to spend on the site.

We had stormy weather last night but it was rain and not snow - that's a good thing!  I hope you are getting a chance to have a break for the holidays.  What are you doing New Year's Eve?

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Just a few things...

We had a jam-packed day on Monday, getting ready for company, cooking and visiting, celebrating Grandma and Grandpa's anniversary and cleaning up after everyone went home.  I did not get a chance to do anything in the craft room or even open up some of my new things...maybe today!

 Blogger is acting up and won't allow me to upload new photos and I am very tired so I just have a few things to share and then I will be off to get some rest!

Someone asked what machine I used to cut the Memory Box "Flowering Christmas Tree" die.  I used a Cuttlebug but you could use any machine that accepts the flat metal dies.  The "sandwich" of cutting pads and shims would change depending on your machine.  I am excited to try out one of my new machines (hint - it looks like a suitcase and starts with a "V") to see how these intricate dies work with the powerful motor and even feeding.  I have heard that the intricate Cheery Lynn dies cut very well in the Vagabond (oops! I told you my first new "big crafty holiday item").

Several people have asked about the file for the Peace card.  I have not posted the file and it seems to have gone missing from my projects folder.  I have saved thousands of files and changed computers several times since I designed that card in 2008.  If I remember correctly, I used the Joys of the Season cartridge for the bird and the Opposites Attract font for the letters.  The stars may have been from Joys of the Season or's hard to remember after three years!  I'll keep looking for the file and will try to post some directions on making similar designs.

The Creative Memories year end sale starts Wednesday - it will last just two days, December 28th and 29th.  I'll post links to the sale page tomorrow - there are some great items included in the sale!

Are you planning on making any Resolutions for the New Year?  I am setting up a list of goals with very specific time frames.  I hope this will help me get some things done that are in the "I'll do that in my spare time" category because I really don't seem to have a lot of "spare time" to spare!  I will post at least some of the resolutions to help me stay accountable and push myself to complete the items.  A lot of the items on the list have to do with organization of both my physical and digital "stuff"!

There are also some non-crafty things on the list, such as, get back to a regular walking schedule and get more sleep!  Have a wonderful Tuesday - are you checking out all of the sales?

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Family Time (and something interesting...)

I hope you had a great day yesterday.  We will be continuing our festivities today with a couple of dozen family members gathering at our house.  My husband's parents will celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary tomorrow.  Most of the family will be here later this afternoon for a "day early" anniversary party so we have a lot to do to get ready for the meal.  I will need to clear off my "extra crafting work surface" (also known as the pool table) so our nieces and nephews can have some fun downstairs.

I was lucky to receive some great gifts and I'll tell you more about them in a day or two.  I just wanted to share this amazing chocolate box that our nephew brought home from Switzerland.  It was a gift for the entire family from his mother-in-law.  This is not a printed design - it was actually cut in black paper layered over the white box top.

I can't even imagine how long it would take to cut this out by hand.  A long time ago I cut some much less detailed Scherenschnitte pictures with an X-acto knife on a mat and it took hours to do.  Apparently these used to be done by hand but now are produced by a machine (probably  a laser cut).

Inside the box were some very delicious chocolates - two of my favorite things (paper cutting and chocolates) combined!

We'll have a very busy day - but maybe I'll get a chance to try one of my new crafty items and make something to share tomorrow...or the next day!  I hope you have a chance to relax and perhaps try out some of your gifts today - have fun (and if you have some new crafty toys I'd love to hear about them!).

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

It's very early on Christmas morning and the luminaries are still burning on our street.  It is a wonderful and peaceful sight.  I hope you all can be with your family and friends and enjoy a wonderful day!

I made this card back in 2008 and it is still one of my favorites.  Since I can't send a card to everyone that reads my blog I am sending this "virtual" card to all of you.  Thanks for your support - I am looking forward to the new year and some new and exciting adventures that I'll be sharing with you!

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Tree Trimming


When I was a child we would put up our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  My Dad would get the tree in the stand and put the lights on and then the kids took over.  I think we started out with a string of multicolor lights and then my Mom bought blue replacement bulbs and eventually, the entire tree had blue lights with just one white light at the top.  We had a star made from some sort of plastic that went between the bulb and the socket and that had to be placed strategically at the top of the tree.

In our family, we have continued with the Christmas Eve tree trimming tradition for the live tree even though we put up quite a few other trees in the days leading up to Christmas Eve.  In Germany, the gifts are traditionally opened on Christmas Eve.  We have changed this to opening only one gift on Christmas Eve - everyone gets to choose a package when we get home from the midnight church service.  When our kids were small, we managed to have the packages that they opened always be the one with new pajamas so they would look cute for the photos on Christmas morning (and yes, they were matching pajamas but they survived unscathed to adulthood!).

I'd love to hear about some of your traditions if you have time to leave a comment.  I know that it is a very busy time so you could certainly stop back another day to add your story.  I do have a card to share with you today.  It was made with another Memory Box die - I am enjoying all of the delicate designs they offer.

This is the envelope with the Flowering Christmas Tree die - I like this packaging system which protects the die and also gives a visual reference for the image.  I just noticed that the dies can be used on shrink plastic - I think that would be beautiful for an ornament (maybe I can find a few minutes to try this today...).

This is the die - there are tiny holes that you can use to push out any bits that might get stuck inside.

In this close view you can see just how thin the lines are.  While some machine might be capable of cutting a design like this, it would take a long time to cut and it would probably be difficult to lift from a mat.  Sometimes a die is the best choice for a design.

Adhesive for a delicate design like this can be a challenge.  I used the LetraTac adhesive.  I have written about this several times - here is a LINK to the posts showing how I used this product.  You place the item on the sheet with lots of tiny dots of adhesive and then put the top sheet over the images and burnish with this tool to transfer the adhesive to the cut.

In this photo you can see that the image is so thin that even the tiny dots from the LetraTac extend beyond the edges.  These are not difficult to deal with if you have a gum eraser.

You can use the eraser to pick up the stray bits of adhesive.  The eraser might get a bit gummy and you can just snip off the edges to get a new clean surface.  These are inexpensive and can be found at an art supply store.  Creative Memories also sells them as "pick up squares."

When I was looking at the tree cut and thinking about a sentiment, I realized that the "Merry Christmas" from my new Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz Christmas Mini Holidays 3 set would make a nice base for the tree.

I used the super fine detail embossing powder in gold to heat emboss the sentiment.

This powder was fantastic and produced a lovely embossed image - some of these lines are incredibly fine.

I added some small red gradient gem stickers from Creative Charms to the center of each flower.

I used the stardust clear gel pen to add more sparkle to the tree.

Stars and dots and lines on the leaves make the tree sparkle.

I added some gold "peel-offs" to anchor the base of the card with a double row to add interest to the right side.

The cardstock I used is Ripe Avocado from Papertrey Ink.

Just a few more things...

Blitsy is having a second chance sale!  They put all of the still available items that they have offered since they opened on Black Friday back up on their site.  The sale will run until January 3rd but some items are very limited in supply so will likely run out (or be "blitsed") sooner.  Here is my link again if you haven't already signed up...

Once you join the site (membership is free) you can go to the "my account" tab and click "invites" at the bottom of the column to get your own code to give to your friends.  When someone you refer makes a purchase of $10 or more you will get a $10 credit to spend in the store - now that's a great deal!  I got the super fine gold embossing powder from Blitsy - it is in the Ranger Ink category for just $2.49.

Finally - I want to say Happy Birthday to my brother Bill.  This photo was taken at the Philadelphia Zoo when he was five or six years old.  As a Christmas Eve baby, he had to share the holiday but we were careful to wrap his birthday presents in "regular" paper and we always had a birthday cake on Christmas Eve.

I hope you have a wonderful day - we'll be putting out the luminaries later this afternoon.  No sign of snow so far...

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