Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Day of 2012

Do you have a long list of things to do today?  Are you planning to make some resolutions for the New Year?  Don't hesitate to take action - the time goes by too quickly.

I was designing these layered snowflakes to cut and send to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut when I saw that they have far exceeded the amount of snowflakes needed to decorate the new school and the PTA has requested that no more snowflakes be sent.  There are still ways you can help.  Please visit the Connecticut PTSA site HERE to get more information.

If you have special plans for tonight and will be going out please stay safe on the roads.  Here's to a great New Year for everyone!

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Snow Day

The snow started yesterday afternoon.  Our house is snug and cozy but outside there is a Winter Wonderland of snow.

The spotlights are more or less buried and the ornaments on the tree in front of the house have tall hats of snow.

The wind was blowing through the night and I am sure our driveway will be full of drifts.

There wasn't much accumulation early in the evening on Saturday.  The trees on the deck are just wire frames with lights and this is how they normally look.

The snow kept falling all night.  I have heard the plows go by several times already.

The lights on the trees look so pretty when they glow through the snow.

I used this photo at the top of this post.  I edited it just a bit more by cloning out the distracting lights showing through the railing at the left side and then added some word art.

This is the view from the second floor of our house.  At the top of the photo you can see some of the lights on the fence at the back of the yard.

The lights were on at our neighbor's house in the wee hours - getting ready to run the plow.

I added a snowy overlay to the photo - do you like the way it looks or is it too much?

The snow is so pretty - but I am not looking forward to clearing the driveway!

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Lights

I hope you are enjoying the holidays.  It has been a few days since I have had a chance to post.  We had a wonderful celebration with nearly all of my husband's family in Massachusetts.  Our older son and his wife were here from San Francisco and left the day after Christmas for India (they are attending a wedding there and I can't wait to see all of the photos!).

My husband's brother and his wife flew in from Colorado.  We were very lucky with the weather and all of our travelers had good flights.  On the way in to Logan airport on the Mass Pike we saw this message in the rooms of the Crowne Plaza hotel (the hotel actually goes over the turnpike).  Taking a photo in the dark from a moving car is not ideal, but I wanted to show you the holiday spirit we enjoyed on each trip into town!

Most of our neighbors have a moderate amount of holiday lights but friends a few doors up the street take the honors for "most decorated" house in the neighborhood.  They have Mickey and Minnie at the door and Mickey ear lights along the front walk.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown guard the driveway and the hedge and hillside are covered with lights and figures.  The cars that come around on Christmas Eve to see the luminaries go extra slow in front of this house because there is so much to see!

The luminaries are always beautiful and the weather cooperated nicely this year - no wind or rain.

Here is our house on Christmas Eve.  I didn't put the white lights on the shrubs this year because they have grown so big.

We go to the late service at our church on Christmas Eve.  The church looks very dramatic in the spotlights.

There were beautiful floral arrangements and special banners decorating the front of the church,

At the end of the service, all of the lights in the church are put out and we sing by candlelight.  When I was young we would try to keep our candles lit until we got home (sounds crazy, I know!).  Fire regulations require that the candles be extinguished before we leave the church now.

I decorate all of the trees in our house except the live tree in the sunroom.  I put the lights on this one and then it is up to the "kids" to add decorations.  This is also the only tree inside the house that has colored lights.

I made glitter ornaments decorated with initials for all of our nieces and nephews this year.  My daughter-in-law helped me and we had glitter everywhere!  I used a font from my computer and cut the letters in glitter vinyl with the Cameo.  I'll share the details in another post.

If you are a new Silhouette owner you might be interested in a subscription to the online store for images.  From now until the end of the year you can save 20% on the prices.  For $8 you can get $25  of images each month, for $12, you get $50 worth of images and for $16 a month you get $150 of images each month.  It is a yearly commitment when you subscribe, payable monthly.  Use the code "Silhouette" to reduce the price at checkout.  You can subscribe through the Silhouette Studio program link or at the online store HERE.

Blitsy has brought back many categories of crafty items from their Cyber Monday sale - there are over forty categories instead of the usual 6 - 10 that are normally offered at a given time.  Be sure to check them out before they are "blitsed" (sold out).  They have lots of Tim Holtz, Spellbinders, Ranger, Scor-Pal, items right now.  Click HERE to go to the site and register if you aren't already a member.

The house is pretty quiet now and I may finally have a chance to get back into the craft room.  I am afraid it is quite a mess and has been sadly neglected for the past week or two.  This weekend should be a good time to get things sorted out to start off the new year.  Do you have special plans for New Year's Eve?

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to All!

I hope that you can be with family and friends today - have a very Merry Christmas!

luminaries along our street on Christmas Eve

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Photos

The holidays are really starting for us now.  We'll be picking up our younger son from his apartment this afternoon and our older son and his wife arrive from San Francisco tonight.  I have most of the house decorated, some of the presents wrapped, a few crafty projects to finish, some of the food is ready...but there is still lots to do!

The decorating of the upside down tree is finally finished.  All of the ornaments on this tree are glass.  Some of them were collected when we lived in Germany and others are special reminders of various places and times.

These ornaments were given to us for our first Christmas after we were married and they have all survived for 31 years of Christmas celebrations (we'll be married 32 years in January).

This was the scene at our front door last night.  Most of the neighborhood children came around caroling with their parents.  They were eager carolers and enjoyed some brownies as their thank you.  We were lucky that the storm had blown through and there was no rain - it was very stormy earlier in the day,  You'll notice this photo is rather blurry - I grabbed the camera in a hurry.  I prefer natural light for photos but hadn't set up a tripod to capture the carolers.

I took one other shot with a flash - the kids in the front are sharp and clear but you lose the atmosphere and the people further back almost disappear in the blackness.  I should have tried to get a few more without the flash but sometimes you just want to enjoy the moment!

If you are wondering how to get some special memories captured with your camera this season, Rebecca Cooper at Simple as That has posted some great tips for taking holiday photos - you can see them HERE.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.  It's nice to have Christmas on a Tuesday since many people have the weekend and Monday off which gives a little more time to prepare and celebrate.  I'll be pretty busy enjoying family time but I'll try to pop in with a photo or two over the next few days.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Snowflakes for Newtown

One week after the tragedy of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut people all across the country observed a moment of silence and bells pealed to commemorate the lives lost.  There is so much sadness as services are held for the victims.

Many people want to do something to help and there is something special that crafty people can do.  The Sandy Hook School will be relocating to an old school building in a neighboring town so the students can continue with school in January.  The Sandy Hook PTA has asked for people to make snowflakes to decorate this new school.  They want to create a winter wonderland for the students when they return.

There are lots of snowflake designs on Cricut cartridges or available as SVG files for other machines.  I like to make my own snowflakes from other shapes and there is a brief explanation of how I do this at THIS POST.

Several readers have already written to tell me that they are making snowflakes to send.  If you want to know more about any of the snowflakes you see here, just click the photo to go to the original post.

Make and send snowflakes to by January 12, 2013 to

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway
Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

To read about more ways to help the families in Newtown, click HERE.

I know some of you have entirely too many real snowflakes - we have dodged that storm with only rain in our area.  It would be nice to have a white Christmas (after all of our out of town family arrives safely!).

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Frame for a Special Card

Over the past couple of days I have helped a few friends with some small design projects.  I really enjoy using the Silhouette Studio software to figure out a way to make a customized cutting file.  I have to confess that, even though I purchased the Designer Edition key for the software last February (yes, almost a year ago!) I just upgraded the software yesterday.

One of the main reasons that most people upgrade the software is to have the ability to open SVG files and cut them with their Cameo or other Silhouette machines.  There are also some additional design tools in the upgraded version - fancier knife cuts, skewing of shapes and the ability to create a rhinestone pattern.  I have been able to do everything I want to do without the upgrade.  However, I needed to open an SVG to help with one project, so I finally activated the upgrade.

One of the projects I helped with involved creating a mat to use to frame this card.  The drawing was done by my friend's daughter and she wanted to preserve it in a way that would show her daughter how much she loves the artwork.

This screen shot shows how I figured out the sizing for the frame.  The frame we were using was a standard 5 x 7 frame and the card was 5 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches (typical A2 size).   These two sizes are not proportionate so the border around the card would be uneven.  I decided to use a simple row of dots on either side of the card and to leave the top and bottom plain since the border was so narrow.  I was able to take advantage of the rhinestone feature in my newly upgraded Designer Edition of the software to create the rows of dots.  (You could also make these by typing a row of periods as text and resizing them to suit if you don't have the designer edition).

In order to make things line up correctly, I made a few guideline shapes.  The blue line represents the actual size of the card and the yellow line shows the amount of the mat that will actually show due to the frame having a 1/4 inch "lip" to hold the glass.  I use the centering feature in the software all of the time to line up my projects.  The opening I made in the mat is slightly smaller than the card to make sure that the card is covered at all of the edges.

To create the rows of dots, I used the rhinestone feature and adjusted the size and spacing until I liked the look.  I was able to use the alignment tools again to make sure the placement of both rows of dots was even.

I had some heavy metallic cardstock that looked similar to the holly clusters on the card so I used this for the mat.  I set the machine for textured cardstock (heavy) with blade depth 5, speed 3 and thickness 33 and checked the box for the machine to make a double cut.  Here is the mat after I lifted the cut - it was perfect again.

This closer view shows how tiny the circles are - less than 1/4 of an inch in diameter - and they cut perfectly.

By cutting the rows of circles in the mat, I was able to use a strip of the red foil cardstock as a backing behind the cut rather than cutting tiny circles and adhering them to the mat.  I had the red foil I used for the card I posted a couple of days ago so I simply trimmed some strips from the sides of the offcut piece.

I adhered the strip behind the rows of circles and also attached the card to the top of the mat with some removable tape.

The red dots just give a bit of interest to the design.  Instead of having blank space, the sides now have more of a framing effect for the sketch.

I left this photo dark so you could see how shiny the foil dots look when the light hits them.

The metallic cardstock works nicely with the metallic pen used for the holly.  I am very impressed by how well these tiny circles were cut in the heavy cardstock.

This card is now ready to be displayed for the holidays (and all around the year).  It's a nice way to honor a special sketch and a special daughter.

It's too bad that the standard card size and the standard frame size don't match up to leave a perfectly centered area to display the card.  It was fairly easy to come up with an alternative that shows off the card with a little pizazz!

If you haven't checked out the deals at Blitsy lately there are some great things this week - Graphic 45 Nutcracker Sweet papers (love these!), Tim Holtz stamps and distress markers (full set), liquid pearls, the adorable TIm Holtz bottle brush trees that everyone is dyeing and, if you are on Santa's very good list, a huge set of Copic markers.  Click HERE to go to the site and check out the deals - new items will appear on Friday morning.  You have to join the site to shop - it's free to register.  Once you have joined you can refer your friends to earn credits in the store.

I made a huge shopping trip to Costco yesterday and I still don't have everything I need, but I am closer to being finished with all of the food shopping that I can do ahead of time.  I'm expecting more deliveries tomorrow - and then a wrapping marathon before the weekend and family members arrive.  One more coat of paint to go on the bedroom - I think we are going to make it!

Take care if you are in the snowy part of the country - it sounds like there will be lots of storms in the next couple of days.  Our odds of a white Christmas are not looking very good here on the East coast...

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