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!"