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!