Sunday, November 11, 2012

We Love to Laugh

This has been a hectic couple of weeks. Whenever I feel like I have my head above water, I find an enormous pile of papers I overlooked or I hit a wall of fatigue. I only have two weeks left in my pregnancy, so I know it's normal. But it's hard to have so little energy and so much to do. Thank goodness for my mom. She is a wonderful mother and an even better grandmother. She is so devoted to our son, and he adores her.

These pictures are from an afternoon out at lunch. The two of them were sucking on lemons and laughing about how tart they were. Then they would dare each other to taste some more. This is what it's like with them all the time. My mom is always up for some silly, funny mischief, and so is Ben.

As I mentioned elsewhere, I recently bought a Silhouette Cameo. When I started getting interested in scrabpbooking two years ago, I thought the Cameo was well out of my price range. I bought the Cricut, mostly because I found a very good deal on ebay and it seemed reasonable at the time. But the Cricut Personal seemed so limiting once I had it. I was only able to cut 6x12 paper which probably doesn't seem like a huge issue at first, but it became more of a problem as I found more projects I wanted to try.

When Studio Calico offered a class especially for Cameo owners, I figured this was my cue to treat myself to a new machine and try it out. So far the class is excellent. I wish they weekly tutorials and sketches instead of challenges, but I am still enjoying it. Sasha Farina has a beautiful layout included in the class PDFs, and I used her tutorial as a layout for this sketch. She cut the image, used it as a misting mask. She traced a sewing guide and stitched all the way around the inside and outside of heart, and then cut out the misted image. If it sounds incredible, that's because it is. It is a beautiful technique. I can't link to it or post it here because the PDF is for paid subscribers only, but you can see a sneak peak on her blog. I took a slight detour and traced mine instead (I'm not much of a sewer, but I'm sure I'll come around at some point). I love how the final image came out.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Halloween Memories

It's hard to believe it's been almost two years since this photo was taken. It's one of my favorites (I seem to say that a lot). Ben is about two months old here, and he was just starting to develop a little personality. I was still on maternity leave, so we were spending lots of time bonding at home. This onesie is also one of my all time favorites. In fact, we recently packed up most of our boy things since learning we are having a girl, and when I found the "I <3 my mummy" onesie, it brought tears to my eyes. We decided this was a keeper, and we packed it away along with some of his other things to be turned into a quilt someday.

I have been thinking about buying a Silhouette Cameo for some time now. I've had my Cricut Personal for almost two years, and it's rare that I ever use it. When I first decided to invest in a die cut machine, I thought the Cricut was a good option for my first purchase. I liked what the machine is capable of, but I didn't care for the fact that it only takes 12" x 6" papers. It seemed so limiting at the time. And while I liked the images I had, I was annoyed by the cartridge system. The carts are so expensive, and so are the digital versions available at the Cricut online store.

I found the Silhouette Cameo blog through Francine Clouden's website, and at first I didn't want to follow it because it seemed like cheating. Why read the blog if I don't have the machine? But I loved all of the great layouts on their site. This one in particular really caught my eye, and I was so gorgeous that I was dying to try it out. And then Studio Calico announced their new class, Cut It Out. The class is all about using your Silhouette for all kinds of great scrapbooking projects. I figured it was sign, so I ordered one and signed up for the class.

My Silhouette came in the mail two weeks ago, and I am loving it. I made this layout with my new baby, and it worked beautifully. I cut the pumpkin shapes out of my main page and used the negative space to add more variety and color. The orange, purple and gray papers are all layered behind the main page, and then I layered more pieces over them to create the jack-o-lanterns.

I added some flags and some alphas for the title. I used some Mister Huey's spray and then stamped over the texture with my new Hero Arts Studio Calico stamps. 


Monday, September 10, 2012

Embellished journals

Ever since the Etsy Craft Party, I've been thinking of different ways to use embellished journals. The one I made at the party is lovely, but I don't know if or when I will ever use it. That was the only real drawback to putting Ben's photos on the cover. They aren't very recent, and I was thinking that a current journal should have more up-to-date photos.

And then it hit me! I could embellish the two notebooks I will be using with my classes this year. We keep a daily notebook with all of our practice exercises, writing experiments and class notes in a composition notebook. I always save my class notebook from year to year to help me remember what went well and what needed tweaking, but lately they are all starting to pile up and blur together. I think I might need to purge my closet and toss out some of the really old ones.

I really liked the DCWV Timeless Type paper stack that we used at the Craft Party, so I went looking for it at my local Michael's. I like the stack because the pages are much more varied than I was expecting, and I especially liked the polaroid page. The motifs are a little dark for my taste, but still, I thought it was appropriate for a writing class. I also found a second DCWV stack called The Garden Tea Party, and I decided to splurge on both even though I knew I would only use a few pages from each.

I pulled two or three pages from each stack and looked at different layering options. I wanted to repeat some of the techniques from my first embellished journal experiment, especially varying the edges to give the cover some added dimension.

I used a beautiful page for my Garden Tea Party journal. I especially love the illustrations and the texture. Something about the paper seems so light and airy and fresh. I wanted to show as much of the main page as possible. I was debating using flags for the titles, but I wanted to be sure the lettering would stay on because that journal has to last all year.

I wish I could say there was more advanced technique involved, but I used Mod Podge (I think I'm a little addicted) to place the main page, the flags, and then to seal everything together. I found an interesting idea on pinterest for embellished clipboards (I currently have five in my classroom, and all of them are being used!) as gifts, and I'm thinking this is a good use for those rolls of handmade paper I have gathering dust in my closet. I'm always so afraid to cut into the paper because it's so lovely on it's own. This seems like a good way to preserve the paper and put it to good use at the same time.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Personalized Journals from the 1906 Etsy Craft Party

School is starting soon which means I've been working a lot more than I'm used to. I'm not going to lie: it's nice to be able to take mid-day naps and play with my son. Trying to readjust to working an eight hour day has been difficult to say the least. These last two weeks, I've been trying to carve out some personal time while Ben is napping or when he goes down for the night. When the grading starts pouring in, I'll be hard pressed to find the time to do anything other cook, clean, eat and sleep.

I was doing my usual web crawl of blogs and paper crafting websites when I happened upon the annual Etsy Craft Party posting on I really didn't think I had time in my schedule to make it. That sounds pretty ridiculous to say I don't have time to go out on a Friday night. I know. But when I was staring at the pile of work on my desk, sweating bullets about how much I had to do before Monday rolls around, I realized how easy it would be to fall back into the pattern of feeling overwhelmed and to ignore the things that make me happy and help me reduce my stress. And just at that moment, my mom called and asked if she could go with me. I figured it was a sign!

There were two craft parties going on at the same time, and it was almost impossible to choose between them. We went to the one at the 1906 Gallery on South Flores Street. I have been to the gallery before, long before my mommy days, but I have never met the family that owns it. Yvette Benavides and her family generously opened their private residence at the back of the gallery for the craft party. It was such a warm and beautiful space. I didn't get to take pictures of their home, but I should have. It was beautiful and engaging. My mom, a now retired graphic designer, enjoyed walking around and seeing the artwork and creatively designed living space more than anything else. Would you believe they have a koi pond inside their home?

The Personalized Journal craft station
There were three craft stations for making personalized journals, Texas shaped artist calling cards and, one more with miscellaneous supplies that were donated by several sponsors, including Etsy, Michael's, Astrobrights, Duck Tape (the mustache patterned duck tape was my favorite), Fiskars, and Plaid Crafts. To say that we had a full stash of supplies to choose from is an understatement. Amy Johnson at Maker Mama, Stacy at Kids Stuff World, and Lisa Pennington at Pennington Point did an incredible job of rounding up donated craft supplies for 40 people, along with refreshments, handmade decorations, and door prizes. There was a separate room with four more craft stations, stocked with plenty more supplies and upcycled materials, for a craft war. I loved walking around and peeking at everyone's projects. Some of my favorites used the duck tape in different ways, including one with a soft gold border that was layered under other elements and another that lined the inside covers with the mustache tape. 

Personalized Journal: Front Cover
Personalized Journal: Back 

I made a personalized journal with a Strathmore sketchbook, and some paper from the Timeless Type DCWV paper stack. I used Mod Podge to attach a neutral sheet to the cover (it's the kind of handwriting paper I remember from Catholic school-- what a sweet memory), but I'm concerned it might come up if I'm not careful enough. I'm a Mod Podge novice, to be perfectly honest. Then I cut the printer's block patterned paper and layered it on top. The whole page is beautiful, and I wanted to preserve the different edges to give the layer more visual interest, so I trimmed along the outer edge of the blocks along the top, bottom and side. Think of them as a kind of reverse book jacket. 

Close Up of the Front Cover
My mom, cropping and placing photos.
Another page in the stack had a series of Polaroid frames with blank centers. I remembered some photos that had been lurking in my purse, and I found two that were perfect for the frames. My mom trimmed the frames, and then we used the dot roller to mount the frames on top of the pictures, and then the framed pictures on to the cover. We used Mod Podge to seal the whole thing, and let it dry while we walked around peeked at some of the other projects. 

We trimmed one too many frames and photos, and instead of letting them go to waste, we decided to place the last one on the inside first page. Something about it just seems funny to me. 

Unfortunately we weren't able to stay as long as we would have liked. We were able to park ourselves on an aluminum bench next to the craft tables, but it wasn't the best thing from my six-months-pregnant back. After I finished my journal, it was definitely time to head home and put my feet up. I had a great time, and I was thinking this might be something fun to organize for craft students at school. I think all of the budding writers and artists out there would probably enjoy making their own personalized notebooks for school. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Such a little charmer

I went back to work on Monday after having a lovely couple of weeks off with my boys. It was very difficult to leave the house that morning, especially since I knew Ben would be at daycare the rest of the day. He is growing up so fast, and this summer has been such a joy. The week we spent in Florida was wonderful. It was especially nice to spend a few days at the Disney Animal Kingdom resort in Orlando. Waking up every morning and seeing zebras, giraffes, and antelope outside my balcony was incredible. Ben had a wonderful time watching all of his favorite animals, and we got a much needed escape from our every day. 
The boys on safari
Godfrey and Ben, playing drums and singing African songs
 Since returning, we've been trying to get the house ready for #2's arrival. We batted around the idea of house hunting, but we need more time to get our finances and our home ready. Buying a house is a cinch compared with selling one and then trying to buy another simultaneously. So instead we are shifting things around and making do with what we have. That means giving up the craft/ computer room and moving my table into a corner of our bedroom. The move was good in one particular sense; it forced me to go through all of my bins and reorganize my materials. I put my Studio Calico Brooklyn Flea kit (it's now sold out along with all of the add-on kits) and a new Echo Park Everyday Eclectic kit front and center on my table to force me to move out of my comfort zone. I think I did well.
Sitting Up in My Stroller 
The papers all came from my Brooklyn Flea kit, as did the SC scrap embellishments, and the Amy Tangerine fabric border stickers, and the buttons and alphas. The only thing that didn't were the blue letters. I found the layout on the Silhouette blog. I don't have a Silhouette Cameo, mostly because of the cost. I bought a Cricut Personal a year ago. It's okay, but reading the Silhouette blog has me practically salivating.

My husband will ask me how the leaves or the buttons relate to the image, but I'm satisfied with it. The best part is my little man's adorable smile. He has always been such a charmer. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

so silly, so sweet

I really enjoy Francine Clouden's scrapbooking layouts because she writes about the same content and ideas that I do. Her son is adorable, and she always seems to catch him at just the right moment. She recently posted a blog entry that used chevrons as embellishments, so I thought I would finally give in and try making some. 

I found this youtube video by Jennifer McGuire at Studio Calico, and it looked so easy at first. I also found it so ideal for using up leftover scrap paper, especially the extra bits I have lying around from a poorly considered etsy buy (for the record, sewcolorfuldesigns DESTASH is a waste of money, even if it is only $2.50).  The actual process was more time consuming and more difficult than it seems in the video, but sometimes it's nice to have something completely mindless and repetitive to do.  

Once I was finished with the chevrons, it was a simple enough task to finish the rest of the layout. I really like how it came out. These two photos came from the same day as my last page. I loved Ben's silly expressions and his sweet antics. 

so Silly, so Sweet
Cosmo Cricket Tiny Text stickers from Studio Calico's Brooklyn Flea kit

Dear Lizzy glitter stickers and my handmade chevrons

Herding Cats

The summer is almost over, and I haven't accomplished nearly as much as I had planned. Every day, it seems there is something else on our checklist that needs to be tackled. I've been trying to do a little bit at a time, and so far we have made good progress. But school is nearly here, and I am wondering what things will be like once it starts, especially with the new baby.

At least for now, we can still sleep in and relax, I can carve out time to work at my craft table and peruse old photos. These are some of my favorites from Ben's first big boy haircut. His hair was starting to creep into his eyes, so we knew it was time for a definite change. We took him to Kimberly, the stylist who cuts our whole family, and she took very good care of him. It was a bit like herding cats because he refused to sit still (at only 11 months how can you blame him?), but in the end she was able to give him a decent enough trim.

1st Haircut

MS Scrapbooking paper, Amy Tangerine Remarks fabric border stickers
 I have a hard time with layering. I always hesitate because I can't understand why anyone would want to cover up a lovely paper with another embellishment, but I think this one turned out nicely. I outlined the paper dolls with my white Uniball pen to help them stand out.

Ormolu tags, MS Scrapbooking stickers