Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Positive Realist Project - Take 5

Do you know what you realize when you write down your best and worst things.  You realize that your problems are very small in the scheme of things! 

Yes the holidays were difficult with the loss of my brother, but you do the best to move along and keep his memory strong.  That, indeed, was the best and perhaps the worst of Christmas Day. 

But now for the best of the week . . . it's a crafty thing . . . a little company that I love called Clear and Simple Stamps . . . I found them back in the summer of 2010 at the Stamp Expo in Massachusetts, and I bought some of their stamps.  What I love about them . . .

  • Their stamps are Clear and Simple (just like the name says).
  • When I order from them and my shipment arrives, it comes in a great box and is enveloped in tissue paper (their signature color!).
  • Sometimes they include a complimentary copy of a magazine, and they put a post-it note on the page that has their advertisement!  
  • And sometimes they send me a magnet or post-it pad with their logo.  
  • They have an App for the iPhone that is awesome and keeps me inspired. 

It's that personal touch that I love!  And so on the 23rd I got a holiday card from them, and it included a free sentiment stamp set . . . not just one stamp . . . a stamp set!  And so for two years running, I've gotten an awesome stamp set for being a customer.  It just arrived in an adorable card.   

It's the personal touch that is just awesome! Their adorable card made it into my Smash Book.  It made me smile.  It was "my best" for the day.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Forgot I Was Crafty

Wait . . . I think I said I had not been crafty.  But wait . . . I was crafty.  I forgot.

I made these boxes and tags with my Stampin' Up stash and stamps.  (I love making boxes.)

There are five boxes (the picture shows six, but one failed inspection because it was too small to hold a gift card).  They are in graduating sizes and will be filled with gift cards and then filled with each other as well.  A box with in gift card, in a box with a gift card, in a box with a gift card, in a box with a gift card, in a box with a gift card! 

Hmmm . . . I spot some American Craft brads in there too!

And then with the leftover scraps and some additional cardstock, I made these little gift card/chapstick holders using more of my Stampin' Up stash. 

I forgot that I had been crafty one day!


Back to those Christmas cards.

Positive Realist Project - Take 4

I may be a day late in posting, but I have a completed spread in my Smash Book!  Check it out:

Anyone who knows how I scrapbook knows that I'm all about clean lines.  It has been said that I am LINEAR in my scrapbooks.  My house could be all off-kilter, but my pages are linear. 

a (1) : of, relating to, resembling, or having a graph that is a line and especially a straight line : straight (2) : involving a single dimension b (1) : of the first degree with respect to one or more variables (2) : of, relating to, based on, or being linear equations, linear differential equations, linear functions, linear transformations, or linear algebra c (1) : characterized by an emphasis on line <linear art> (2) : composed of simply drawn lines with little attempt at pictorial representation <linear script>
Need I say more.  I'm linear.   So this whole Smash technique is very new to me.  I have to tell you - it is fun stuff! 

And what did this past week have in store . . .

There were a lot of little surprises.  I think the most exciting was watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition and seeing my friend's work at Queen Vanna Creations featured on the show.  How awesome.  Click on her link if you want to see her work and hear about the shenanigans of when Hollywood calls!  And you can even watch on-line.  Note that her little reminder card that she gave to all of us is smashed into the book!  Super cute! 

I was not too crafty over the week . . . and I need to be because there is work to be done (including my Christmas cards which I started early but will finish late, as usual).

And I think I wrote a lot over the last week about having too much work.  I have a 9 to 5 job that is more like 7 to 6 and has nothing to do with craftiness at all!  I supposedly have two weeks off, and in the first two days of being off, I have worked about ten hours.  What is up with that!  It is definitely something I need to work on for the coming year, so stay tuned!  


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Positive Realist Project - Take 3

Week 2 is in the books!  Well, it's in the Smash Book!

I am loving this Smash Book idea for day to day.  If there is something that you want to save, you literally just smash it in the book.  I am saving little things that would normally hang around my house.  Now they have a place.  This week I saved two things in the book . . .

1) A rubber wrist bracelet purchased for charity;
2) A printed Facebook post that just brightened my day;

I put them into a little envelope to save, and I included the date.  How super cool is that!

So let me mention my best of the best.  The Facebook post was the absolute best.  My daughter wanted some random ridiculous item that she saw.  I don't know if she would have bought it for herself.  But because I knew she wanted it, I ordered it on Ebay for her 26th birthday.  And this was the post that brightened my day . . .

That was on December 10th.  On December 12th "my best" was to pause and reflect 26 years earlier on my first child's arrival.  No sappiness . . . just amazing surprises for 26 years!

Another "best" was spending the day on Sunday, December 11th taking a class from the amazing Cheryl Mezzetti!  Love her classes . . . look at the little St. Nick book I made (needs some finishing touches):

My worsts were somewhat boring.  The usual.

But I will highlight a purchase I made . . . my weekly donation went to Love for Lokomotiv.  On Sept 7, 2011, 44 lives were lost in the worst tragedy in professional hockey history. A plane carrying crew members, hockey personnel, coaches and players of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team went down, breaking the hearts of their loved ones near and far. In a united effort to show support for the grieving families, hockey wives and girlfriends from around the world created a website and have been selling bracelets to support their friends.

And so another week is in the books.

If anyone is interested in joining me on the journey, feel free.  Or . . . just post your "best" and "worst" for the week in the comments.  

Happy Smashing! 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Unity - Let it Snow Challenge

I was sitting down ready to create something for Unity's December Challenge - Let it Snow - and I still had scraps on my table from the Mojo Monday Challenge.  I decided to use the same stamps and papers.  Let's face it, I'm a Girl Scout and felt the need to "use resources wisely."  Truth be told, I loved the combination of papers to create the jacket, scarf, hat, and mittens for my snowman.

So here is a second take at some of the same supplies and the same stamps.  I used Unity's November Kit of the Month - the snowman stamp.  For the sentiment I used the "We're all just a little flaky" stamp from the Jolly Good Fun set.  I again paper pieced the elements onto the cream image (I love this look!).  The design of the card itself is completely different from my "Mojo Monday" card.  I used a border punch embellished with jewels and I framed my main image with that red pattern paper. 

That snowman and is little jacket and scarf are just as stinking cute the second time as the first!

And indeed . . . we are all just a little flaky!

Mojo Monday 218

I absolutely love a good sketch, and this one doesn't disappoint.  I love anything that combines different shapes . . . pleasing to the eye! 

My first order of business was to turn this sketch on it's side, as I knew I was going to use a wider design for my main image.

I used two different Unity Stamps, the sentiment from the Jolly Good Fun set and the snowman stamp from the November Kit of the Month.  I stamped that snowman image on cream cardstock, onto a red pattern paper and then onto a striped pattern paper.  I then went to work cutting out the pieces of the pattern paper so I could paper piece the pattern paper pieces onto the cream image.  I used other pieces of the pattern paper for the elements of the sketch.

With the paper piecing finished up, I used my Copic Markers to color the bird, the bird house, the musical notes, the nose and to add shadows.  I then added some flower soft white for the hat and mitten cuffs.

I love that darn sweater and scarf!  It just makes me smile.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Positive Realist Project - Take 2

I have completed my first week of Positive Realist Project, and it has been awesome!  

I am horrible at writing a journal for many reasons:

  1. I am a perfectionist and once a mistake is made, I typically lose interest or want to start from scratch, and 
  2. I hate doing anything in my own handwriting because . . . . well, see #1 right above this.  If I make a mistake, I lose interest! So that has been my first real challenge . . . not to care about mistakes and to just keep going!  
Let me tell you . . . there are mistakes!  I have more typos when I do things in my handwriting than I do when I type.  How can that be? 

So before I talk about some cool and not-so-cool moments, here is is a look at my Smash Book.  It is coming along. 

I journaled "my best" and "my worst" for each day.   I incorporated some little items into the book.  I used the top of a receipt from New England Scrapbook Co. where I found a pink Smash Book pen for journaling . . . happy moment on Day 2.  Then on Day 6 I included a little black and white print of the cover of a holiday album my nephew Joe made to surprise his mom and lift her spirits for the holidays!  Super cool!  And then finally, the cardboard cozy from my latte today!  

My bests for the week . . . nothing huge, unless you count the "Joe to the World" music collection, which was a big surprise.  It brightened my evening tremendously the night I saw it, and it is brightening my evening this very moment as I type this.  I realized I could download the songs by making a donation which will go to Connecticut Cat Connection, which was my brother's favorite charity.  A win-win!  So I made a $30.00 donation for one song (erroneously hit the wrong pick), and then a $10.00 donation for the entire track.  I am loving it!  And the money will go to a great cause.  

Another highlight . . . an evening watching a new video I recently bought, "Becoming Chaz."  It was a great documentary about Chaz Bono's transformation from woman to man.  Odd that two of my bests also included Starbucks lattes, which is interesting, because I usually am lucky to make it there once every two or three weeks. 

Some of my worsts . . . getting caught in the rain while searching for my lost iPhone.  Bright sides:  1) I found the phone; 2) it was dark and the UPS man (who showed 10 minutes later) did not see me in my PJ's searching the car. 

Stressful times at work this week.  Really stressful times!  BUT, while at Starbucks, they had these cool bracelets and for a $5.00 donation, the proceeds would go to Create Jobs for USA.  So how do you turn your stress at work around . . . buy a bracelet and be thankful that you have a job. Now it is highly likely that had I not been journaling about my stress at work, I would not have made the connection on the bracelet and made the donation.  I bought two and put them with mugs/tea and will give them as grab bag gifts.  

My goal this holiday season is to make donations to organizations so this week was perfect.  I managed to make $50.00 in donations, and it was all connected to my project.     

And so I will carry on and check in next week. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Play Date Cafe #109

I have not had a "play date" at the cafe in about two months!  I've missed eight dates with my busy schedule.  

So it is time . . .

These were really tough colors for me.  Really tough.  But then I saw that my LSS, New England Scrapbook Co. had Crate Paper's Farmhouse collection which had this one really cute design that looked like a little quilt in several pink hues.  I started with a Bazzill Champagne cardstock card base, and cut a 4 1/8 x 5 3/8 of the pattern paper.  I distressed the edges with a distressing tool.    The die cut is from My Creative Time, as is the stitched border stamp.  The ice cream cone stamp and sentiment are from Unity Stamp (one of their monthly kits). 

Not an easy color combination for me, so it was quite a stretch. 

I always gauge my cards by how they look the next day after a good night's sleep.  Not to shabby at all!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Getting My Mojo On - Mojo Monday 217

With my Positive Realist Project underway, I decided it was time to look at participating in a challenge, as I have not done one in quite some time.  So I decided to get my Mojo on with the Mojo Monday sketch challenge.  Note that I realized I wouldn't make the deadline, but I wanted to play along anyway (it's not about deadlines . . . it's about creating).  

No being in a round mood, I went for the square sketch.  There were two things I wanted to accomplish . . .

1) I wanted to try out a new technique . . . chevron stripes.  I had seen the technique featured a few places over the years.  Recently a few paper crafters on a board on Stamp Nation had been talking about it, so I had to give it a shot; and 
2) I wanted to do something masculine.

I was looking for masculine paper and stripes (for my chevron stripes)!  Imaginisce had a fabulous line called Bon Voyage that had been calling me.  I chose that one stripe paper (which had a stamp print on the bottom), three coordinating colors of cardstock and a package of the stickers to embellish.  Using the sketch above, here is my design:

Now . . . you might be saying that I missed an element of the sketch.  But the real element I wanted to showcase was my chevron stripes which make up that top panel.  It was created by cutting diagonal strips in two different directions, and then adhering those to a scrap of paper.  I love the look! 

And here is a view from another angle.  The paper has a glossy embossed coating, which really makes the design pop!  

I wanted to finish up the job by using the remaining paper and stickers to make up some additional masculine cards.  This first one has a pop up airplane on the inside (see second photo).

When closed, the airplane covers the sentiment . . . and then moves as you open/close the card.
And then two other designs, the second of which also has chevron stripes.  

So with three sheets of cardstock, one sheet of double-sided paper, and a package of dimensional stickers . . . job done!  I can't wait to try the technique using another striped paper, and I'm glad that I accomplished some masculine cards (which are not always easy for me to create). 

I will be checking in on Wednesday or Thursday with my progress on my PR Project!  Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Positive Realist Project - Take #1

I have a little project involving a Smash Book:

I'm about to get really chatty here, because I have this idea about what makes us stronger.  It's a long story about why I'm here and why I want to do this, so stick with me if you can. 

I had a friend who was going through some troubles at home and at work.  She was really going through a difficult time.  She told me that it had been suggested to her that before she put her head on the pillow each night she should think of one good thing that happened to her that day.  Just one!  She would keep a notebook by her bed, and she would write something down each night.  I thought it was an interesting idea.  I've never tried it.  I don't know how that worked for her, but I tucked it away in the back of my head. 

The last three years for our family have been extremely difficult ones, starting with the loss of my mother-in-law.  She was a realist for sure, and in many respects a positive realist.  She would say, "What will be, will be."  She would always forge forward.  She was one of the most sensible, practical women I've ever met.  Unfortunately, these traits of hers did not completely pass down to her son.  He is a bit of a negative realist.  While he is definitely one to forge forward, he always looks for the loopholes first.  He also spends a great deal of time warning about loop holes before they become reality.  Since her passing, I feel like I gained a few of her traits in dealing with him.  I take one cup of my mother-in-law's reality, I mix it with my own reality, and I add a teaspoon of my sarcasm (okay, maybe more like a quarter cup).  I offer this up as a nice contrast to help him deal with most of his problems.  We forge ahead.    

The day that my husband returned to work after my mother-in-law's funeral, he was laid off from his job.  Talk about kicking a guy when he's down.  Apparently he missed the big lay off day while mourning his loss.  Things looked a little odd when he got to work that day.  There appeared to be some "cleaner, neater" desk areas.  It looked like several people had the day off.  And a few minutes after arriving, he was called in for a little meeting.  He returned to his desk and found an empty box in which he could pack his things.  How convenient and thoughtful, because what if you didn't bring a box that day?  Forge ahead! 

And the third crowning glory in that month of November 2008 was a legal matter regarding the handling of my mother-in-law's estate.  Let's just say that everything that could go wrong, went wrong.  My husband had carefully consulted attorneys before making a move on selling her house while she was in the nursing home.  This one single event has likely tripled his negative realism.  I recall him saying, "It is sad, but we would have been better off just abandoning her.  That is the message that I'm getting here."  Financially, he was 100% accurate.  It is truly sad that there are people who cheat the system as their parents age.  But the guy who tries to do the right thing and didn't make a single penny (and in fact lost money in attorney's fees) doesn't win his case over one small misunderstanding with an attorney.  I remind him that spiritually, we would have never walked away from her, as that would have been way more painful.  So we forge on.  

My husband found work, taking a lesser job, and we continued forging ahead as we battled our little legal matter.  The economy being what it is, he again faced layoff a year ago.  He has found yet another job.  We continue to forge on! 

I have three siblings.  In an 18 month period between 2009 and 2011, I lost two of them and nearly lost a third.  When I think about would could have happened, I could be the last one standing.  It breaks my heart. 

My younger sister was 48-years old, severely disabled and lived a simple life in a wheel chair with very little communication.    She did have some medical issues the last two years leading to her death, but it was unexpected and came at the same time that my brother and his wife were losing her father, who passed just one week later.  It was a tough couple of weeks.  My sister's loss left a hole in my heart. I forged on in a trance. 

Several months later, my oldest brother was in a downward spiral.  He appears to be a forge ahead kind of guy.  He does not have a wife and kids and does not surround himself with his family.  He had lost his sister and his job.  He was without health insurance and was facing some medical issues.  He lost his will and basically nearly took his own life by ignoring his health.  We discovered there was a problem as he was on death's doorstep.  After spending nearly two months in the hospital, he is back on his feet again.  That is slightly funny, because he lost part of his foot during the incident.  I can joke about that because I am a positive realist! 

But the one that really challenges me . . . that really ticks me off . . . that I fear I will have the biggest battle over . . . the loss of my brother less than a year ago.  Diagnosed with cancer on his 50th birthday, he never made it to his 51st.  We were close in that we lived just 20 minutes from each other, we raised our kids together, and we spent most holidays together.  He was not a talker.  The repeated phrase I miss so much,

"Hey Deb, what's going on?  [to which I responded "not much"]  Here's Laurie?"

That was like a thousand words.  It said it all!  I miss that so much.  And yes, I do want to talk to Laurie!  And I don't have to share her with you anymore, so "neener, neener, neener."  I can joke about that because I'm a positive realist! 

I believe I was making these types of jokes early on after his death.  I believe it is what makes me stronger.   I believe there is something about trying to always find the positive in any crappy situation.  I believe that if you don't make light of the dark situations, you will stay in the dark much longer. 

All that said, the realist in me still wants to shake those who upon asking, "How are you?" respond with "I couldn't be better."  Really?  If you were called in and given a promotion right now, you wouldn't be better?  If you won $100,000 in the lottery, you wouldn't be better?  I do understand that they say those things because they are positive people and it gets them through the day.  But really? 

Where am I going with all of this?  I have this idea . . . for the not so crafty or the crafty.  There will be some not so crafty things, and some crafty things.  You can pick and choose . 

Get yourself a journal if you want to play along.  (This is where my Smash Book comes in.)

You can start at any time . . . does not have to be today.  Does not have to be tomorrow.  It can be next week.  It doesn't matter.   I am starting today. 

We are going to be realists.  Positive realists!  As each and every day closes, we are going to write two things in our journal.  It will be an on-going list.  Simple!  We will write 1) the most positive thing that happened and 2) the most negative thing that happened.

Once a week I will pick some negatives from my list, and I will turn them into positives with a healthy dose of sarcasm! I will encourage you to do the same. 

And every so often, I will throw a craft twist in for those who want a crafty twist.  My plan is to have my journal, but to also have an album by the end of the year with some stories and photos. 

Are you with me?  Get yourself a Smash Book (click on the link to see how cool they are).  My favorite scrapbook store, New England Scrapbook Co. has them. 

 Forge ahead . . . let's be positive realists together!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Random Numbers

I will tell you for a near fact (is there such a thing as a near fact?) that when I make cards, 196 times out of 197 (how random) I will start with cardstock and add pattern paper.  I rarely will ever use pattern paper as a base for a card.  

This is the 100th time!  I picked the busiest paper!  Check out this busy, pattern paper, with a scallop of another busy paper, and a small circle of white cardstock on which I placed my sticker.  It looks like that one house is the spotlighted house on the street!  A little sentiment sticker, and one of the Wonder & Wishes Poinsettias . . . the outside of the card is complete.  
And so I moved to the inside of the card!  I wanted something to pop.  The reverse side of my
Wonder & Wishes paper was a busy dot print.  The likely candidate for the inside is always white.  An estimated 93 times out of 94 (random) I will put a piece of white on the inside of the card.  But only one time (1 time) in an estimated 412 (super-random) will I use pattern paper for the inside!  

So I cut another piece of that dot paper . . . I folded, I made some cuts and scored, and suddenly I had a neat little pop up!  I split a sticker in half, and wallah!  A pop-up message!  "At Christmas, All Roads Lead Home!   

Instructions?  Indeed! 

1) Make your regular card base mine was a piece of pattern paper (pattern paper!) measuring 4 1/4" x 11", fold in half to make your card.  
2) Cut another piece for the "pop factor" that measures slightly smaller upward to 1/2 inch smaller around (you can do 4 1/8 x 10 3/4" . . . or 4 x 10 1/2 . . . or 3 3/4" x 10".  Trust me, it all works.  Fold this piece in half equally. 
3) Take this "pop factor" piece and follow my cutting/scoring instructions below.

4) Adhere the "pop factor" piece into the card base.  IMPORTANT:  Glue the center first, and then hold the card slightly close when you glue the ends.  If you glue everything flat, the card is stiff and doesn't open quite right. 
5) Cut a piece of paper (pattern or cardstock) into a strip to put your popping piece onto the card.  See more instructions in the photo below. 
 Instructions confusing . . . give a shout! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wonder & Wishes x 4 = Perpetual Craftiness

I made a card today that reminds me of the energizer bunny.  The card is perpetual . . . it keeps going and going and going.  I still marvel over it every time I make one.  It's like it is being turned inside out!  But it's paper!  They're like magic.  You always end up back at the beginning again. 

My very first version was a 9" x 9" version made for a Girl Scout skill aid.  It wasn't very decorative, and it was done to reinforce camping skills with tasks representing steps of a skill on each fold.  I recently saw them as 6 x 6" cards and caught the fever to make them again.  Today was my first Christmas version, and let me tell you . . . the pictures and the video do not do the card justice.  It is really, really cute!  REALLY!

I used pattern paper and stickers from Little Yellow Bicycle's Wonder & Wishes line.  It is beautiful stuff, with so many choices for backgrounds.  I was ready to go Christmas crazy!  Keep in mind there are four sides to this card.  There has to be a little planning in place because you have four separate canvases to work with, a few areas that carry over to another part of the card.  And some of them have to be split in half to complete the folds.  Confused?  Don't be.  Once you've done one or two they are a breeze!

I've included instructions further below.  So here are my four canvases . . .

Two pattern papers.  I popped the smallest gift box.  I added some of the pom poms to the elf shoes and hat.

Two different pattern papers, ornament stickers, and twine.

The brown dot paper carried through . . . added angel and tree to center panel.
Built the gift from pattern paper, border and other stickers.  Notice how I pieced it around the folds.  

 And on to the video!  The quality is not great, so apologies in advance, but you'll get the idea of how the card works in action . . . 


I hope you'll try it!  I did include some instructions below.  So many possibilities!  Have fun!  

Oh - and keep in mind that they are great learning aids for kids!  Worked like a charm for those "Girl Scout Kapers."  

How'd I do it . . . 

Start with four pieces of cardstock measuring 3 x 6" (just a 1/2 sheet of cardstock). I scored 1 1/2" in on each end (on the dotted lines below).  If you change up the size, just be sure that you score a quarter of the way in on each side.  Be sure to crease the folds before you put your adhesive on.  You will want to use a really strong adhesive (I used tacky tape) in the areas marked "glue" below.  Once you've glued the horizontals to the verticals, just work through the motions of the folding, trimming any areas where "it gets stuck."  Once everything is moving the way you want it to . . . decorate! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Light Bulb Moment

I have had this idea in my head for quite some time.  It is not a complete idea.  It is as if there is a short in my bright idea light bulb.  This idea comes, and then it goes.  But it always returns.   

Sometimes the idea arrives as a package deal with a smattering of creativity.  I think it out for a while, and then I dismiss it.  Other times it appears to be more of a therapeutic idea, with no creativity involved.  And then I forget about it for a while.  But it always returns, and usually comes back with new ideas for how I might accomplish this idea of mine. 

It has been dismissed several times by the notion that it has likely already been done by someone else.  Have I checked into it?  Well, no I have not.  Why?  Because if I found out it had been done already in some fashion, then I know that I absolutely would not even attempt it.  I don't want to see any other versions of this very simplistic idea.  I just want to move forward with mine.   

Is it something huge?  No it is not.  It is small and it is easy. 

It was several days ago when I sat down to write about this idea, and how I might set about in making it a reality.  But to write about it (to blog about it) would nearly be a commitment to the idea.  So it was dismissed yet again.  Yet hear I sit on Thanksgiving night, and I am writing in my blog about this idea. 

I spent the day with some treasured people . . . my family and friends.  And believe it or not there was this light bulb in a kitchen ceiling at my sister-in-laws house, and it was not consistently lighting.  It was on and it was off.  I silently watched the dilemma of my husband trying to fix it, and I thought about my silly little on again, off again idea.  My sister-in-law explained that when this light is not working at night, the kitchen gets pretty dark. 

Hmmm . . . does this mean that if I don't attempt to follow through with this idea, I'll be in the dark?  Perhaps it was a sign.  I do believe in signs. 

So maybe . . . just maybe . . . there is a commitment here to something.  Maybe . . . just maybe . . . there is a "Coming Soon" sign to be put out.  And maybe . . . just maybe . . . I will encourage others to join me on the journey. 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Gypsied Up a Calendar Class

I ponder whether those of us who are crafty make up our own words.  My new word is "gypsied."  As in . . . "I gypsied my 2012 calendar."  I also went down the hall and did some "gypsying."

Of course I'm talking about my Gypsy which was used on my Cricut.  For the last four years or so I have signed on to teach a calendar class at my LSS, New England Scrapbook Co. in Canton, Connecticut.  This year, I gypsied up a calendar.  This class is always well attended, but the amount of prep time is insane because I do a lot of die cuts and stamping.  Cutting and stamping for all the kits is a lengthy endeavor that takes many long days and nights.  And there were some mishaps that added to my stress . . . including Winter Storm Alfred (the big loser storm) who left me powerless for a week and stopped the cutting, stamping, and kitting production.

The Gypsy is a newer tool in my arsenal that I have just begun to use.  I have had my Cricut for nearly two years, and I can honestly say that it got very little use.  In the last four months since owning the Gypsy, I have used my Cricut more than the entire two years of owning it.  I have taken my Cricut use to a whole new level.  Not only was each month cut by "welding" letters, as shown in the June design below, but I was able to design the calendar "on-the-go" and then plug in at home when I was ready to choose paper and cut my designs.  The most intricate month for design was June.  I designed in layers, cutting a cream layer as a base for my clothesline, a black layer for pants and socks, floral layer for the dress, checked layer for the shirt, and then a striped layer for the bathing suit (or are those striped items "unmentionables"). 

I carried the same titles throughout, using the black script welded on the Gyps.  Also used throughout the calendar were the date stamp (from Close to My Heart), and the definition stamps for ten of the months (from Clear and Simple Stamps), and the black ribbon. 

I absolutely love those script letters!  Nice thing is that everything is saved on the Gypsy so I could use it to gypsy myself up another project. 

Hmmm . . . gypsy is my newest verb!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Take Advantage of Doppler Radar

October was National Breast Cancer Awareness, and I wanted to get this card posted before the month ran out.  Winter Storm Alfred had a completely different plan as we were without power for 146 hours (that is 6 days and 2 hours). 

Although in many ways cancer is much like our weather . . . you can't stop it from coming, it puts you in quite a state of panic, and as we have seen with the crazy weather this year, it definitely does kill!  The key to cancer is Doppler radar.  Early detection . . . mammograms, colonoscopies (which my spell check still does not pick up), screenings, etc. 

But I digress . . . 

While shopping in a South Carolina scrapbook store I came across this amazing rubber stamp.  I tried to walk away . . . I really did.  I even checked out without it.  But then I saw some amazing "Fight Like a Girl" pink, black and white paper with dots, scallops, and stripes on a stand nearby and it was like a fishing expedition.  Hook, line and sinker!

Hmmm . . . what do you do with a card like this?  My thought was to make a card that would hopefully work to inspire someone during their fight, or let them know that folks are thinking about them. 

So I created this little shaker card . . . using the adorable stamp and the fabulous paper to make the bra.  I stamped on white, then stamped on the pattern paper and cut out the pattern paper, adhering to the white.  I colored using my copics, added some confetti to the shaker and I really love the result. 

So after making this, it was scoffed up by a friend of mine.  She added an inspirational personal note inside, and is making it's way to a friend of hers who just finished several month's of treatment. 

Mission accomplished!

So . . . folks . . . take advantage of the Doppler Radar!  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

146 Hours of Education and the Story of a Tree

I had 146 hours of education over the last couple of days.  It was education without power.  It was scary.  It was interesting.  It was trying.  It was stressful.  It was also calm.

Winter Storm Alfred dumped some heavy wet snow here in New England.  It began last Saturday, October 29th, and while the weather forecasters were predicting power outages, I don't think we really thought it would be this bad.


We were not finished with Fall here in New England.  And it was not a light fluffy snow.  It was big flakes of wet snow.  The kind that look absolutely magical from your window . . . like Christmas.  The kind that usually last for a few minutes before turning to the little teenie flakes that look so pretty when they land on your mitten and you examine their shape.  No, these were the ones that land on you and stick so that you are completely soaked when you get inside.

So the leaves were covered with this heavy stuff, and the branches were weighed down.  By the time I arrived home from work on Saturday, we had no power.  As I exited my car, I could just hear cracking noises in the wooded areas.  It was eerie.  Cracking, and then snow falling from limbs.  Cracking, and then limbs falling.  Limbs taking out other limbs.

I got into the house while still light . . . no power . . . and as daylight turned to darkness it became an entire night of listening to noises outside.  As we tried to sleep in the night and would hear loud noises.  We would go to the windows and look with our flashlights.  One such flashlight adventure at around 4:00 a.m. showed a really sad sight.  One of our back yard trees, which surprisingly had no leaves left on it, had completely split about 10 feet up from the ground.  Half had fallen in one direction, skimming the side of the house and just missing our fence.  The other half fell in the other direction.

Flashback to about 1994 when our kids, who were early elementary school (perhaps around 1st and 3rd grade) found what they thought was a weed growing in the middle of the front yard.  Mama tree is our very favorite tree out front, and she had sprouted a baby tree.  We told them it was a baby tree, and that we would have to pull it out because it was not growing in a good place and would likely die. So my girls dug up that little one-foot baby tree and moved it to the back yard.  They put it in our fenced in half of the yard.  They thought our dogs Angel and Ashley would enjoy sitting under the tree in the summer. 

We kind of laughed.  We never thought that little thing would survive, and my husband said he would wait a few weeks and remove it.  But we mowed the grass around it for years.  We dealt with how stupid it looked in the middle of the fenced in yard until it became a real tree.  Flash forward to the summer of 2011 and it is the tall tree in the backyard that our dogs Lola and Charlie enjoy sitting under in the summer.  (Lola and Charlie are the two "paws" that have not yet been introduced on my blog).

Our tree will be gone later today or tomorrow.  Our newly purchased chain saw will be taking her down completely.  So sad!

So . . . what have I learned in 146 hours:

1) Trees break!  It's a sad, scary noise that they make.  It is a little heartbreaking too . . . even for the ones that don't have sentimental value.

2) If you have to drive 70 miles to fill your tank with gas, you will be down about a quarter tank when you get back home.  

3) Friends and neighbors help each other in situations like these.  People's true colors really come through loud and clear in these situations.   

4) You can make things on a grill that look horrible, but taste pretty good in dim light.  And you can eat really burned stuff without getting sick, even if the aftertaste doesn't go away for a few hours.  

5) Your situation may be bad, but it could always be worse.  A friend of mine had power come back on in her home, and a fire started, gutting their in-law apartment and causing damage to the main house.  It sent her husband to the hospital and scattered her pets so they were hard to find.  They are in a hotel and will eventually have a happy ending.  It will just take longer. 

6) Dogs and cats are nice to have around when you don't have power.  They are also warm.

7) My husband was a great guy on Days 1 through 3 when he was not working due to the power outage at work, but once he went back to work, we discovered that we are on opposite ends of the communication spectrum.  Emotions were a little high these last few days.  I will now blame work for all of our communication problems.  However . . . HOWEVER . . . the chainsaw that I immediately purchased via my work computer on Monday morning (because I figured by the time we found an open store with power, every chain saw would be gone) which he thought was a bad idea . . . admittedly became a good one by Friday when he went to buy supplies to get it running.  Five points for me in the Game of Matrimony! 

8)   Hand puppet shapes on the wall can be fun.  However, they don't hold my attention and the flashlight kind of scares my dog, Samantha.

9) You can, indeed, wear certain articles of clothing for multiple days . . . the ones that people don't notice. 

10) AM talk radio isn't too bad when it is the only show in town and it is your lifeline to what's going on! 

I could go on and on for hours.  Going to bed early and getting up early isn't so bad.  I can miss my television shows and not die.  Feet do eventually warm up with the right amount of blankets and dogs strategically placed on the bed.  Blah, blah, blah!

Creatively . . . I was useless.  There was not one iota of creativity in me.  My energy went to working 11-12 hour days and surviving the elements at home. 

It was 146 hours of education.  It was 146 hours of reality check.  And as I type this, I notice that my house has a certain hum to it when there is power.  It is a hum that kinds of says "Home!"

Friday, October 28, 2011

Something About Lucy

You've met Samantha.

You've met Jennyanydots.

You've met Buzz

It is time to meet another of my 4-legged roomates . . . Lucy.  There is something about Lucy! 

Lucy was named after Lucille Ball . . . my daughter was (and still is) a huge fan back in 2003 when Lucy came to stay.  She was just 3 weeks old after being rescued from an underground pipe.  She was rescued with two siblings before her feral mama relocated the rest of the litter.  She was one sick little kitten, loaded with parasites, had a horrible respiratory infection and an even worse eye infection.  Had she not been rescued, she likely would have not lasted much longer. 

Little Baby Lucy . . . just 4 weeks old.
Since coming here to live with us in 2003, let's just say it has been interesting.  She pulled the usual kitten shenanigans on our dogs . . . diving from high places, swatting butts from under furniture and doing karate moves on her hind end to their faces. 

Lucy (a little over a year old) trying to get new puppy Lola to play!

She peskily picked a fight with our older cat, Jennyanydots, just one too many times and had a tiny sliver of her lower eyelid sliced by an angry older kitty claw.  A visit to the vet determined it could not be repaired (without a micro-surgeon) and that her tear duct had been damaged.  The result is a cat who always seems to have an eye infection . . . but does not.  The amount of times visitors have said, "Oh, you should have that checked out by a vet." as we re-tell the story and watch them cringe when they hear of her lower eyelid mishap. 

Lucy grew up to be a friendly little girl who could hold her own with our dogs. 


But in the last few years things have changed a bit.  Poor little Lucy stopped cleaning herself and we noticed she had a growth on her tongue.  So she had some surgery to remove it, and things have not been the same since.  It took a long time for her to trust us, and she took to hanging out in the basement a great deal.  She also chooses to "selectively" clean herself.  She cleans her top half, but her bottom half has gone to hell!  We often refer to her as "dirty kitty."  She has nice white front paws, and really dingy gray back ones.  She smells like basement!  But we put up with "dirty kitty", and I often sing the "Smelly Cat" song to her (from "Friends").  She seems to enjoy that . . . but she does not enjoy the occasional bath forced upon her.

Check out my crazy blinky eye, my dingy not-so-white belly, and my fabulous posture when sitting. 

And there is not much we can do to improve her tongue issue!  She is literally missing a part of it after the surgery . . . proven by the day I attempted to snap a photo and caught this lovely shot. 

I think she was trying to send me a message. 

She's a dirty little thing, but she's our dirty little thing! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Unity Autumn Harvest Challenge

Little time to talk . . . just wanted to post a card I made for the Unity Challenge.  It's a little busier than I would normally like . . . but I used a lot of stamps on this one from the September Unity Kit of the Month.  I used the leaves to make a background of leaves.  I also used the three stamps that made up the "postage" and then the "grateful" ribbon banner.  That is a lot of stamps on one little 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 canvas.  I just couldn't stop.

I also tried out a new gadget I got as a bit of a prize from a recent crop I attended . . . it is a ribbon sewer (I think that was the term).  It is what enabled that half moon border of ribbon that is sewn into the card at the bottom.  Quite interesting . . . still need to play around with this one.

And today I must get busy . . . working on a big project for an upcoming class . . . no time to spare!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pushing the Limit

I've always been super frustrated with the scrapbooking tools that I buy and then have little success with using.  It is not that the product does not work . . . it is more that I have to wrap my brain around it until something clicks with using it.  The Cricut has been one of those items.  An expensive little venture, so if you're not using it, then you've got a problem.  I am a hands-on person . . . love metal dies and cranking through Big Shots or Revolutions.  The idea of leaving my scrap table to figure out some computer gadget was an issue for me . . . and frustrating when sizes didn't match.  Loading and unloading different colors.  OY!

So seeing some videos and blog posts on the Gypsy had me intrigued.  The concept of designing anywhere, and then plugging in seemed to have some merit for me.  So I purchased the Gypsy a month or so ago, to go along with my Cricut.  I wondered if I was just digging a deeper hole for something that I clearly did not use enough.  I think I have used my Cricut more this last month than I have in the two years I've had it!  Seriously!

I designed a layout for my local scrapbook store . . . their October Kit of the Month . . . a little layout that I called Boo . . . produced the original and then 15 kits.  

Then I "welded" some letters for an upcoming class that I am teaching at the store - a 2012 Calendar. 

Still feeling like I needed to dive deeper into the pool, I decided to give the My Creative Time Throwback Thursday Challenge a try.  The challenge was to use an older cartridge with a card feature on it, and to use a Halloween theme.  I used Wild Card, and with my gypsy, I put a cut-out with a web.  I actually had to measure on the little grid (on the gypsy) to change the sizing on my card to the standard 4 1/4 x 5 1/2".  Then I had to make sure the pieces fit right.  

And then . . . new breakthrough . . . I realized I could cut it all at once by putting the different colors of paper in the right areas of the grid on my mat.  I loaded black, white, and pattern paper on my mat in all the right places according to the grid.

I hit the cut button . . . and done in one push of the button.  CRAZY! 

So here is my challenge card . . . Bazzill Cardstock, Pattern Paper from Basic Grey, Black Ink, stamping from the My Creative Time All Around Halloween set, and some leftover embellishments from my stash (bat, ghost clip and stars). 

I inked the web over the tombstone to get the web effect on the edge.  Cool!  And the little spider on the scallop circle up top . . . he carried through to my inside corner as well . . .

 Always nice to learn some new things with the tools you have - a worthwhile challenge indeed!