Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year in Review

At the beginning of the year, I posted 7 crafting goals that I hoped to accomplish in 2013. At the time I thought they were pretty realistic goals...nothing too crazy. But alas, here we are on the last day of 2013 and I have to admit that I've fallen short on most of them.

 My list (and my actual results) included:

  • Participate in at least two challenges (card or page layout) per month. This will help keep the mojo going throughout the year. Although I completed a number of challenges this year, I certainly did not do 2 a month...but the Layout A Day accounted for 28 daily challenges in February, 30 challenges in May and 31 in October, so my average is well over 2 a month.
  • Write at least one blog post per week. I failed to do this in April, June, July, August, September and November...and know exactly why each of those months fell short, but I digress.
  • Join a blog hop (not just to follow....but to be a blog on the hop). This is one I accomplished, I actually joined two this year...so yeah for me.
  • Practice, practice, practice coloring with my Copics in the hopes that I learn to stay within the lines. I am getting better with my coloring, but still could use some more practice.
  • Learn how to use (and not break) my sewing machine. I want to produce one card with machine stitching on it...just one, that shouldn't be THAT hard.  The sewing machine has sat untouched for the last 11 months...but there's always 2014.
  • Catch up on my scrapbook layouts so I am never more than 1 month behind the calendar (right now I am scrapping photos from July...so it's not an unrealistic goal). I've started scrapbooking differently and don't worry about staying in order as much as telling the stories that need to be told. I am currently working on my December daily pages (for this year)...so I am going to call this goal accomplished.
  • Double the number of cards I sent to OWH (Operation Write Home) in 2012. I have sent 146....so that means at least 292 for 2013. Ugh, failed miserably on this one. I had a huge stack of holiday cards to mail this year and missed the deadline. So my total of cards shipped to OWH was a measly 75. But I did participate in 2 OWH blog hops and had cards featured as a Mid-week throwdown challenges twice this year! 

It may not show in the numbers, but 2013 was by far the most fun and the craftiest (is that even a word?) year that I've had so far and I am looking forward to making more cards, scrapbook layouts, and crafty friends in the year ahead.

What are your crafty plans for the New Year?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Countdown to Christmas...or my "Not-So-Daily" December Pages

I had great ideas for how I hoped this holiday season would go and I planned to take a lot of pictures and write down all the fun memories that we were supposed to be creating.  I even signed up for an online photography class to help me learn how to take better photos to creatively document the holidays.

But by December 15th, my shopping was done, the presents had been wrapped, but I hadn't done a thing in my scrapbook....and now there were only 10 days until Christmas. The countdown had begun. And that's when it hit me...I could still salvage my plan. Rather than do an entire month of December in a daily/pocket page style, I could still capture the countdown to Christmas.

So here it is...my not so daily December countdown to Christmas. (Sorry for the image quality...it's nighttime and the glare off the page protectors is horrible, but you get the idea).

This turned out to be a much easier way to capture the essence of the holidays without adding one more thing to my to do list. 

How did you document the holidays? If you have a link to your holiday pages, I'd love to check them out.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Last Minute Gift Card Holder

Popping in quickly on this sunny Christmas Eve day with a little gift card holder "tutorial." Really I am just posting this on the blog today so that I know where to find the measurements when I inevitably lose them the next time I need to make one.

We bought book store giftcards for the boys' teachers this year, which wasn't very original, but hopefully useful for them. Since the gift itself lacked any creativity, I wanted the packaging to be special. Rather than go out and buy a gift card holder die (which was my first inclination), I realized that I could make my own (and once I had a template, could replicate them again and again and again...you get the picture).

I found this adorable sample over at Lisa Johnson's blog Poppy Paperie. She used My Favorite Thing's gift card pocket die, but since I couldn't get a hold of one quickly I decided to make my own...and actually it was pretty easy, so I figured I'd share the "recipe" so that you can make gift card holders whenever you want (you could even use this for journaling pockets on your layouts).

Basically, you are going to cut two pieces of paper for your holder (one for the taller back piece and a shorter piece to wrap around. I based this design on your typical credit-card sized gift card.

Cut a piece of card stock 3 3/4 inches tall by 2 9/16 wide. You could use patterned cardstock or decorate your own with stamps or embossing, whatever you'd like. I rounded the corners at the top, which is completely optional. Set this piece aside.

Next up, cut another piece of card stock that is 3 1/2 wide by 3 3/4 inches tall. Score this piece 1/2 inch in from the left and right sides and the bottom and cut out the little squares that are formed in the bottom left and right corners. I used a circle punch to cut the semi circle into the top, which makes removing the gift card easier.

Finally, glue the inside flaps from the piece above and adhere to the the back panel piece to create your gift card holder. (note, the back panel on this card was cut at 4 1/2 inches tall, which I decided to fix on later versions).

I decorated my kraft card stock with the Paper Smooches sentiment stamp
and some other miscellaneous stamps from my collection (Recollections maybe?)

Once your gift card holder is complete, you can adhere it to the inside of a card or even the front panel, like I did in these samples here (again cut the back panel too tall and don't love how it came out so the measurements I gave above are a better fit).

Sentiment stamp from Paper Smooches, stripe and tree stamps from
Recollections maybe?, paper by DCWV

Sentiment stamp from Paper Smooches, paper by Recollections

Thanks for stopping by. I've really appreciated your sweet comments throughout the year. I want to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and fantastic New Year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

OWH Sunday Sketch Challenge

I haven't participated in an OWH sketch challenge in far too long. But I loved this week's sketch (#203) and I was dying to use my Doodle Pantry fundraiser stamps for OWH that I picked up a few weeks ago. This is one of those sketches that help you use up the scraps of paper that we all have lying around our craft space. For this card, I used up some scraps from two older K&Company paper pads.

The Doodle Pantry images come in black and white and pre-colored and by using the colored version, it allowed me to create a really adorable card in under 15 minutes. This would be perfect to mass produce and what little kid wouldn't love receiving this card from their deployed parent?

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you find some time to craft today.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

My Greatest Gift(s)

You can tell from my infrequent posts that I've been a little preoccupied. So I thought it was about time that I explained myself. I would like to introduce you to my newest distractions:

This is Tag--my 8 (ish) year old majestic man.

This is his "sister" Zoey, a lovely lady and absolute sweetheart.
See I had some "free time" this fall and decided that I should volunteer at the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RISPCA). It was on my second visit that I met Tag for the first time. He was curled up in a ball at the back of his cage not even looking up when people came by. As a volunteer, I am allowed to open up the cages and pet the kitties and even take some of them out to play on the floor for a short visit. But Tag didn't seem to care about interacting with the public and so he was easy to miss (I passed right by him my first visit choosing more social kitties to spend my time with). But when I opened his cage on that second day and started petting him, he inched his way over to me slowly. He never even got up...just shimmied on his side until his head was resting against me purring loudly. I fell instantly in love and knew that I had to bust him out of there.

He was brought in with a female cat, Zoey, when their owner went through a divorce and couldn't take them to her new apartment. Zoey was equally adorable, but slightly skittish. Although she hid behind a blanket most of the time, as soon as I opened her cage she came right over and rubbed up against me. She was part of the package. If I took one, I certainly wasn't leaving the other behind. 

Fortunately, my husband knew it was fruitless to try to talk me out of this once my mind was made up. And after meeting them, and seeing them in the cages, he fell in love (or at least strong like, too). Even though we already have a 19 year old cat at home, these guys are so gentle that I hoped that they would blend seamlessly into the home. 

It hasn't gone quite as smoothly as I'd hoped, but I still wouldn't change a thing. The new cats are loving the freedom of more space and sunlit windows and my old lady cat is... well...becoming very adept at ignoring the newcomers and scaring them off when they get too close.

There are so many beautiful animals stranded at shelters just waiting for their forever home. Please consider taking a furry friend into your life.  It is the greatest gift that you can give....but you'll get so much more back than you could have imagined.

Wishing you a "purrfect" holiday season.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Better Late Than Never, I Guess

Oh I had such high expectations for December. Back in November, I planned all of these great activities to help me stay crafty and embrace the holiday spirit. I signed up for an online photography class with Katrina Kennedy focusing on capturing holiday spirit, I bought some Project Life page inserts with the intent of incorporating December daily layouts into my 2013 scrapbook, and I signed up to participate in a Christmas Card Swap with some fellow ScrapHappy gals since I don't normally make cards for the 140 folks on our holiday card list.

But here's my reality. I've printed the lesson plans from the photography class but have yet to snap a photo. I've been behind since it started....we only got our tree up last weekend and so taking photos of Christmas lights was a bit challenging. The good news is that I can go back to the lessons at anytime, so all is not lost.

I've given up entirely on the December daily idea...I don't remember what I did yesterday, never mind what I did December 1-11. I'll save those pages for next year and maybe I'll start making pages now so that I truly accomplish it next year (or maybe not).

The point of this blog post is not to complain about what I didn't do, but rather celebrate the one thing that I did do...I finished all 18 cards for my holiday card swap and I actually like some of the them (a lot even). So without further ado here are some samples:

Washi tape and Merry Borders stamp set by Stampendous

Washi Tape and Merry Everything stamp set from Simon Says Stamp

Toby elf stamp from Deck the Halls by Some Odd Girl and
sentiment from Joyful Greetings by Paper Smooches

My Favorite Things alpha dies, sentiment stamps by Paper Studio
and Santa hat stickers by Jolee's.

Light bulb stickers from Sticko, sentiment from Joyful Greeting
by Paper Smooches.

Merry Border stamps from Stampendous and Santa hat from Jolee's.

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the blogosphere. I really do appreciate your visits and your comments.

May your holidays be happy and your New Year filled with crafty goodness!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Everyday Occasions Cardmaking Kit by Stampin' Up

This post is way overdue. Back on World Card Making Day, the folks over at Scrapbook & Cards Today were posting card inspiration and giveaways every hour. I never thought that I would actually win something. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out that I was the lucky winner of the Everyday Occasions Cardmaking Kit by Stampin' Up (pictured below).

This kit is the perfect gift for anyone who loves making cards. So keep it in mind this gift giving season. The best part about this kit is that it contains EVERYTHING you need to make dozens of cards and tags. There is an Everyday Occasions rubber cling stamp set (which I put in a CD case), an acrylic block, teal and grey ink pads, preprinted, folded cards in a few different sizes, paper cut outs, doilies, tags, envelopes, twine, buttons and those cute arrow paperclips that are so trendy right now. And it comes an adorable gift box to keep everything together. In just a matter of minutes you can put together the cutest cards. Here is one that I created today, super cute don't you think?

I am so very thankful to the folks over at Scrapbook & Cards Today and to Rachel Jensen at Stampin' Up for this generous prize package. It really is amazing!

Monday, November 11, 2013

LOAD in Vogue Wrap Up

I apologize that the blog has been a bit quiet...but I certainly have been busy crafting. I finished up my LOAD in Vogue Challenge (31 layouts in 31 days) and have started a new one (thanks to Amy P over at ScrapHappy) for what she calls the Turkey Ten.

So before I get too far behind...I wanted to post my final layouts for LOAD in Vogue and highlight some of my favorites.

As is customary at the end of LOAD, I compiled this pages to showcase all the layouts that I completed in the month.
It's such a great sense of accomplishment when you see them all together.

And here are some of my favorites from the end of the month:

I created this tie dye layout using some alcohol ink and tissue paper. Such a fun way to mimic the
design on my son's t-shirt and give the page some texture.

Throughout LOAD my goal was to work on layering (like the pros do it). I'm not there yet, but had a lot of fun trying.

Such a fun story from my childhood to get on paper. I still harass my mom about the Shoe Barn. I am traumatized by knock off shoes!

Not only do I love this layout...but my younger son helped me with the photo shoot so it's extra special.
Plus, the journaling is a personal note to my kids from me.

I love how the layering came out on this layout and love putting my Cricut Pagoda cartridge to use to document our family
tradition of Japanese Hibachi cuisine for birthday celebrations. Just fun!

Now I am all caught up on my 2012 book...hoping to finish my Disney album before the kids go back to school on Wednesday. So I'll be back soon with more layouts before the week is out.

Thanks for stopping by and hope you find some time to be crafty this Veteran's Day weekend. And to all the Veterans who have served this country proud...thank you!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Little Mixed Media Love

I just love the look of mixed media projects. The layers, the texture, the randomness...it's so much fun. So any chance I get to play around a bit...I take it. So for my husband's anniversary card (19 years...OMG!) I combined my love for him and my love of mixed media artwork. So happy with how it turned out (the card and my life).

I started out decoupaging some old dictionary pages onto some Neenah solar white cardstock. You might not be able to see in the picture, but I used words from the dictionary relating to anniversary and love themes. Then I took a magazine cut out of a man and a woman standing together and laid it on top of the background and sprayed with some Dylusions spray ink (postbox red and lemon zest). Once that dried, I traced around the image with a black fine tip pen. Some spray ink seeped under the image, so I ended up going over the whole background with some antique linen distress ink so the white wasn't so glaring. Then I took my Wplus9 Country charm checkerboard border stamp to place an outline around the card, stamped a Hero Arts heart over the man's torso, and used some modeling paste and a Tim Holtz stencil to create the little patches of dots. The card was finished off by welding the "love" sentiment in Cricut Craft Room, cutting it out on black cardstock, and tracing around it with a white marker.

Hope you get a chance to get crafty today!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

More Halloween Tags

I just wasn't happy with a couple of the tags that I made for the last post and the thought of mailing them to strangers was giving me too much stress...so I sat down and created a couple of more (since I have nothing better to do than create extra Halloween tags). Anyway, I like these a bit better, although my first one is still my favorite.

Gotta run and post my layout for LOAD in Vogue. I'll be back in the next day or two to show you some of my latest layouts including one that is my absolute favorite.

Have a great night.

Friday, October 18, 2013

More LOAD layouts

We're half way through the month and I have 18 layouts done and many more left to create. This round of LOAD has been harder than my first one in March. It's such a crazy time of year for us with afterschool activities and fully-booked weekends, so maybe that is why I am finding it more of a challenge. But I am loving getting the stories told. 

One thing I am doing differently this year is actually printing my own photos on my printer. It is making a huge difference. Letting me customize the print size is opening up a whole new way to tackle a page. I don't have to crop out important features of each photo...instead I can just shrink it down and not have to include a bunch of 4 x 6 photos on every layout. Don't know why I didn't think of this sooner...duh?

Anyway, here are a few favorites from the last week:

Thanks for taking a look. Have a crafty day.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween Tags

I am participating in my first ever tag swap with some of the gals over on the ScrapHappy site. Here are a few of the tags that I created. Not sure that I love them, but I think the one on the right is my favorite. I hope the other ladies like them. I can't wait to see what comes in my mail.