More Advent

So I have been busy working on various craft projects for the holidays. I wanted to show you the finished results of the Advent projects I worked on. First off we have the rest of the earrings my daughter and I made. She managed to design and put together a couple of pairs all on her own.

The earrings, along with our other Advent goodies have taken their place on our Advent wall. You’ll notice a bunch of little boxes hanging on a card on the right side of the photo. Those are boxes I created several years ago. This year we filled them with the earrings.

The other elements of our advent wall: a Countdown to X-mas sign, advent note cards for my son, and down on the bottom right, large envelopes hanging on a binder ring. You can see an example of how the envelopes are simply decorated since a few are sitting up on the mantel. The envelopes are filled with resurrected Playmobil toys that we dug out of storage. They belonged to my older two children and now they are being passed on to the youngest in her Advent calendar.

A detail shot of  the countdown sign. This was one of the first projects I used playing with my new Gypsy. It was great to weld letters together to create a continuous phrase instead of gluing individual letters down!

I added a Merry Christmas tag to the bottom of the advent boxes since the original one was missing.

The note cards below I made for my oldest. He said this year he didn’t really need an advent calendar. He is at that age where toys are much less appealing (unfortunately he has moved onto expensive video games!) I was just happy that he didn’t get caught up in the greedy “they get something, so how come I don’t” mentality. He was very mature and understanding. But I still wanted to do something for him. So I made these note cards. Each day has a little message tucked into it. Some are just love notes and some are “treats” (like staying up late). I enjoyed making it and I think he is enjoying finding what his message will be each morning.

Happy holidays to everyone, in whatever way you might celebrate them!

Entering Contests

These past couple of months have been the beginning for me of trying to get my work out in the public eye. In an earlier post I said I was able to have one layout featured on a popular blog. That is a start! I’ve also tried to get a short design team position as well as entering a card making contest. Neither adventure turned into anything, but it sure was interesting trying. Here are some of the projects I used for the two contests.

If you have ever thought of publishing your work, don’t be afraid to try. The worst thing that happens is that you spend a little time and money on your work and they say no. Its not the end of the world!

Here was one of my entries for a Cricut-based blog’s short-term design team. I took a shape from the Storybook cartridge and turned it into a photo frame by cutting and gluing multiple layers of cardstock together. The final layer had the frame cut out of it and decorated with pattern paper.

The card making contest had 5 themes to enter. Here are three of my 5 entries…

Spring layout

I submitted this layout to  The Paperlife blog for their spring themed feature. I just saw this morning that Amy over there decided to use my layout! Yeah! And thanks Amy. So I thought I would do a post on the steps I took to make this layout.

All the flowers in my yard are so spread out that it is hard to enjoy them all at once. So I wanted to bring all the pretty blooms together in one place. I began with the idea of a grid of 4 photos, each 4×4 inches. Then I wanted to support the color in each photo by matting them with coordinating pattern papers. Sorry this next photo is a little blurry! The top two papers are from Basic Grey and the bottom two, as well as the cardstock base, are from Stampin’ Up.

I decided I wanted to contain all the flowers within a large circle. Circles really are my favorite element right now. So I pulled out my Cricut Plantain Schoolbook cartridge and loaded in a sheet of Stampin’ Up cardstock. Using the centerpoint feature on the cricut I moved my blade to the middle of the mat, cut one large circle and then cut one circle that was about 1/2 inch smaller. This left me with a circular ring to use on this project. (The leftovers are  a sheet of cardstock with a circle cut from it and a large circle that I will save to use on other projects.) I took that cut ring and laid it on my layout, moving it around until I got the placement I wanted. I ended up placing it on top of the photos and then tucking it behind a bit of the photos and mat at the top.

I then wanted to flood the edges with pretty flowers. But I also didn’t want to detract from the photos so I went with small neutral flowers. I used my Cricut Pagoda cartridge to cut out a bunch of flowers from cardstock. Then I used Glimmer mist to spice up the flowers in silver, pearl and latte. I crumpled up the flowers for added texture and placed gems, pearls and buttons in the center to finish them off. The final touches for the page were the tabs at each photo to label the names of the flowers, the title cut out of vellum with the Cricut Opposites Attract cartridge, and the date handwritten with my favorite Uni-Ball Signo white pen.

Scrapbook Calendars

I have been recording small daily tidbits since my first child was born. I took a regular dollar-store type calendar and just wrote notes on it. I recorded the big things like my son’s first steps to the small things like taking an extra nap that week. When I approached memory recording in such small chunks I didn’t feel like I could fall behind. While my journaling was up-to-date, it took me years before I took this approach with my layouts! I felt so far behind until I started using BLANK calendars to do my layouts AND my memory recording.

I now approach my scrapbooking a month at a time. I look over my photos from the previous month and choose  photos to tell just one story for each child from that month. All the other stories are already recorded in the calendar journaling format! I don’t feel like I have to capture every interesting story in a full scale layout. I hang my calendars in the living room and it acts as an ever changing home decor item as well! You notice in the finished layout below the binder ring at the top used to hang the calendar in the house and the spiral binding at the bottom that holds all the pages together.

I got my first calendars from Stampin’ Up, though they only carry desk size calendars now. There are many companies that make calendar items such as 12 x 12 calendar paper from Creative Cafe available at Two Peas in a Bucket or the Year of Memories Keepsake Calendar by SRM Stickers available from Addicted to Scrapbooking. I’ve never used those products but it is something to get you thinking about what is available. Check your favorite LSS or online retailer for more items.

I used the 81/2 x 11 calendars to start with. You fill in months (I used stamps) and dates (I wrote in mine by hand) in the provided calendar grid and then use the blank page to do your layout. My goal was to do ONE layout a month for each child. That was only 3 layouts a month total for my 3 kids. I felt like that fit my busy schedule!

You can see below how an 81/2 x 11 page looks tucked into a 12 x 12 album. Because the calendar pages are back to back I had to place the pages in sideways into the book to prevent some pages from being upside down. This was something I didn’t think about when I started the calendars. But I just let it go and put the pages in sideways. No big deal.

After a while I got tired of the 81/2 x 11 size and the back to back limitation. So I decided to do my own calendars. I used Microsoft Excel to create a calendar template (also available from my Freebies page). There is the original .xls formated document (calendarblank.xls) which you can open, edit and print. There is also the .pdf version (calendarblank.pdf) which you can’t edit but can print as many as you want. Now these pages are in 81/2 x 11 format since I only have a printer that allows me to print that size. You can use the smaller page to incorporate onto a 12 x 12 layout, use it on a companion page for a double page spread or tuck behind a layout as hidden “journaling”.

As you can see from the photos above, I punch my calendar pages with a 3-hole punch and store the in a 3-ring binder. I used tab dividers to keep the pages separate for each of my kids. I keep the binder on a bookshelf in the living room for easy access. I even tied an ink pen onto one of the binder rings with some ribbon so I would never have to go looking for a pen.

I plan on adding in a calendar section for general family stuff –all those layouts that apply to no one child in particular, to my husband, to myself or to all of us collectively. This will bring my total monthly layouts to 4. A very manageable number I think. If you are like me and really like to stay chronological and up-to-date you’ll appreciate this method. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Valentine’s Day centerpiece

I spent some time today repurposing some items around the house to make this fun Valentine’s Day centerpiece.

Finished project

Supplies:

  • Sticks, find what you can repurpose!
  • glue (I like Zip Dry)
  • hearts in various sizes with a slightly large backing heart for each one
  • container with a foam block fitted in the base
  • filler greenery

I began with a Christmas centerpiece and removed the decorations leaving just the greenery and candle. I then used some plastic sticks from a Christmas fruit bouquet to create the heart “flags”. I used my Cricut (Plantin Schoolbook) to cut hearts from pink paper scraps in sizes ranging from 2.5 to 1.75 inches. I then cut backings from plain white cardstock using the shadow feature. The plastic sticks were sandwiched between the front piece and the shadow piece. I then just randomly staked the heart sticks in the block of floral foam at the base of the greenery.

Items used for making the heart "flags"

You can see below that I glued the sticks in between layers of hearts. The Zip Dry glue drys really fast, won’t wrinkle your paper and is made in the US!

Valentine's heart "flags"

Once you have all your hearts assembled, have fun arranging them like flowers in your centerpiece. If you decide to do a similar project I would love you to post a comment with a link to your picture!