Sunday, June 30, 2013

Project Life 2013: Happy Birthday To Me!

My birthday last week was low-key, but one of the best I've ever had.  TJ took the morning off to watch the girls so I could get my craftiness on.  For six whole uninterrupted hours. Granted I used some of it to shower in peace and get an eyebrow wax, but the rest was spent editing photos and making a Project Life layout.

Here it is:

June 3 - 16: Father's Day, lima bean plant, double cart @ Whole Foods

June 3-16: my favorite paper EVER, popsicles, Crazy House Project

Filler - I have a thing for clouds, lately.

Calendar card with pretties

I used the Citrus Twist June Project Life Kit, mostly.  I put the last several kits in the same Cropper Hopper Paper File (love these things for storing kits!), so I'm not sure which pieces belong with each month's kit.  But I do like mixing and matching things, so I'm not too worried about it.  I especially love the Amy Tangerine Yes Please tiny puffy stickers and their fun summery colors.

And you know what else matched, and was perfect for our popsicle-making process photos?  My MOST FAVORITE PAPER EVER.  

It's the Dreamy Days Polaroid-esque paper from American Crafts' Dear Lizzy Neapolitan line.  I got a sheet at my local scrapbook store (shout out to Ben Franklin Redmond!), and when I realized how much I loved it, I went back for more only to find they were completely out.  I was heartbroken, so I ordered a few sheets online from another scrap store.  Then I realized I *still* wanted more, so I ordered a 25-pack on Amazon. At the time, it was much more expensive than it is now, but I still consider it money well spent, to secure (aka hoard) that paper. I know, it's a sickness.

But now that I have so much, I'm not afraid to use it. It works so well to frame lots of little photos. And the pastel colors coordinated really well with the Citrus Twist kit colors.

You'll also notice that I embraced two colors I don't much care for - Pepto-Bismol pink and yellow.  I'm just not a fan but they worked well here, especially with that yummy pink and yellow ombre wide washi tape from a recent Studio Calico add-on kit. Standing in for bullet points this week on my summary are the hard-to-find Studio Calico tiny star wood veneers.

I've also found the perfect solution to adhering tiny wood veneer pieces and sequins, without having to deal with messy wet glue anymore.  Hooray!  I had no idea that Glue Dots came in a Micro size of 1/8 inch. I'll be buying more of these, for sure.  They are perfect for the tiniest wood veneer stars, little sequins and even small beads.

As you can tell, this was A Good Crafty Session. I had fun, and things came together as I thought they should.  I've been in a bit of a picture taking lull, so I'm hoping the Phone Photography class I signed up for in July will help me get my mojo back.

Here's a slide show of all my 2013 pages, including close-ups.  If you can't see it, click here to view my entire 2013 Project Life gallery.

Project Life @ The Mom Creative

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Best Birthday Ever

38 brought to you by
Raskog, Project Life, card made by T, breakfast cooked by TJ, Silhouette download card,
6 hours of uninterrupted mama time, dinner with family at Pomegranate and cake.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A space that now you hold: Summer Kid Schedule

T's preschool is on Summer Break until Labor Day. Thanks to my new "life of leisure", this wasn't a cause of consternation or a mad scramble to find camps and alternate arrangements to cover the time.

However, I realized about a month ago that I would need to plan *something* for our days.  We don't do well just lolling around in the house. T can play on her own a bit, but quickly gets bored and wants to play *with* me. While I love being home with the kids, I don't want to be drafted into the role of being their playmate and entertaining them all day long either.

We needed a plan. I've always been intrigued by homeschooling, partly just due to the structure and organization it requires to plan educational, interesting activities.

When T was a baby, I made up a schedule to hang on the fridge that outlined our activities for the week including my work days, our Toddler Group, and various meals and naps. It helped a lot by taking some of the "hmm, what's next" processing out of my brain, and also got us on a more regular eating schedule.  (Coordinating 3 meals and 2 baby snacks was driving me bonkers until I picked times and followed them.)

My imaginary Internet friend J (who I've actually met a few times in real life) posted a quick sample summer schedule on Facebook and it was *brilliant*.  The key items I hadn't thought about were having a couple of "activity blocks" like "art project" or "outside fun" or "game" where you could change it up each day, but still have an idea of what to fill that time with.

So I ran with it. Since we have T (age 3.5) and M's (age 8 months) schedules to contend with, ours is a bit tricky.  It was like a fun logic puzzle to fit in all the pieces.

Once everyone is up and has gotten dressed and eaten breakfast, we do a bit of reading time. I noticed that lately we've gotten out of the habit of reading during the day as T is *so busy* with her own playtime.  Consequently M isn't hearing as many books as T did when she was a baby.  Sigh, poor neglected second child.

As much as I can, I try to be hardcore about making sure we're home at the appropriate times for naps and not scheduling over them. M still takes a morning nap, so we're typically home until she wakes from that, which is around 10:30am.  While she sleeps, T and I do either an art project or work on some of her workbooks. (She loves them- I swear I'm not running an academic sweatshop here.)

The *actual* schedule
We then have a morning "Get Out of the House" activity, which on nice days would be a trip to the park to burn off some preschooler beans, or running errands. (Can I say how in love I am with places that have double shopping carts?!)

Next is lunch and both girls napping (or T having Quiet Time) until about 3pm.  (Divine, I know.) After that we have a quick snack, then our Afternoon Activity, which is T's swimming lesson twice a week, a park trip if we didn't go in the morning, or maybe some sidewalk chalk or playing in the rice bin on the deck.  When it's nicer out, we'll get out the Crab Pool and play in there.

Then we get into the home stretch - T watches some Spanish or educational TV while I cook dinner, then we have Cleanup Time (I have J to thank for this!).  By this time TJ is usually home, so we eat then everyone gets ready for bed. On a good day, the girls are in bed, lights out at 7:30pm. We don't always have Good Days, though. Such is life with 2 under 4, I guess.

But just a few days into Summer Break, this schedule is making me a lot less stressed out. I don't have to scramble and plan for each afternoon while the girls are napping - I just need to pick one activity for the days we don't have swimming.  If we get off track due to late naps or sleeping in, no worries - we just pick up where we left off and skip stuff as needed (except for naps. We try not to skip naps because that causes 2am BADNESS).

I printed a copy of the schedule to hang on the fridge (with cute fonts, of course). T likes me to read it to her each day, and has already taken to asking "what's next on the Mama School Schedule?". Definitely my kid.

That's it - very simple, but super effective. I'm looking forward to seeing how it evolves over the next couple of months!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Round and Round

While TJ and T were at the new Monsters University movie yesterday (she lasted an hour, which was longer than I expected), BabyM and I went to mail some packages from my Etsy shop. We visited a nearby thrift shop just for fun, and found an intact Spirograph set.

I knew T would like it, but wasn't sure if she has the manual dexterity yet.  I remember being pretty frustrated with Spirograph as a kid - the gears would always slip around and ruin whatever cool pattern I was drawing.

So I put it down and went to pay for the $3 bead maze BabyM had gotten attached to. The nice lady behind the counter informed me they had a $5 minimum for credit card purchases, so I went back to retrieve Spirograph, which I bought for $4.50.

Turns out that was a smart move. Vintage versions of this toy with all the pieces are selling for upwards of $20 on EBay. Ours is from 1986 and surprisingly the ballpoint pens still work!

We started our new "mama school" summer schedule today since TJ is away all day on his motorcycle.  To preserve everyone's sanity, and to limit the number of entertainment decisions I need to make on the fly, I drafted a rough daily schedule, modeled on one from a friend. (More on that in a future post.)

So our morning "art project" was learning to use Spirograph, and T kept going long after the allotted 45 minutes.  (The schedule is flexible like that.)

We discovered her cheap colored ballpoint pens from Daiso, the Japanese dollar store, work great, as do her glittery Hello Kitty gel pens from the Target $1 section.  She got the hang of placing the holder under the paper and poking the pins through it, and placing the outer ring and selecting which little gears she wanted to use.  (We're all about self-sufficiency here...)

I think I need to hack our Spirograph a bit - perhaps repositionable Glue Dots to stick the frame to the paper would be better than that cumbersome plastic holder (which I'm afraid we'll lose).  I also need to figure out a good work surface so the pens don't scratch up the table. A large piece of foamcore board might work well.

I realized that the original box/package is way bigger than it needs to be, so we put all the pieces into a smaller pencil box. I did save the original packaging in the garage on the off chance that we'll still have all the pieces once BabyM is done with it, and we can sell it for $$$ on EBay.  Or whatever replacement for EBay is around in 2020 or so...

This "new" toy was definitely a hit.  Have you unearthed any of your favorite childhood toys for your kiddos?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday Lovin': Fiskars ProCision Paper Cutter

Like the ubiquitous printer question, another one you'll see often on papercrafting forums is "what paper trimmer do you use?"

First, let me back up and say that before I got into paper crafts, I had no idea such a wondrous tool existed for cutting straight lines. I remembered the terrifying "guillotine"-style paper cutters in elementary school with the giant, heavy sharp blade, but didn't know there was a safer option that is an indispensable tool for scrapbookers and card makers.  My friend Jenn clued me in to this and I bought an inexpensive Fiskars Personal Trimmer with a replaceable sliding blade.

Cutting paper is hard on metal blades.  I found that my trusty trimmer would stop working well after a month or two and the edges would be jagged, it would stop cutting through photo paper, or cuts would start looking crooked even though I swore I had lined up the paper properly.  Switching the blade helped a bit, but didn't help the crooked cut aspect.

I got frustrated a lot so I started looking around to "trade up".  Some people raved (and ranted) about really expensive Genesis or Tonic brand trimmers that were hundreds of dollars.  I love me some tools, but just wasn't ready to invest that much in something I wasn't sure I'd love.

I found the Marvy Uchida Paper Trimming Buddy on Amazon and liked the idea that the blade was somewhat protected in the cartridge (not as dangerous for little fingers) and that the trimmer itself seemed more substantial than my small one, so it wouldn't slip around on the table.  I also LOVED that it had other blades to cut scallop edges, and score paper (but not cut through it).  So I took a chance on it thanks to the good reviews it had.

And it worked beautifully for a few months (don't they all!).  Then it started to cut jagged edges on my photos, so I tried to fix it by flipping over the rubber strip that the blade sits on.  No luck.  I tried a new blade, and still no luck.  Cuts were still crooked and uneven. Sigh.

People on the 2Peas message board were raving about the ProCision Trimmer, which has a "forever" blade, as in, NEVER needs to be replaced.  I looked it up and thought the $120 MSRP was more than I wanted to spend and just muddled along with my Marvy Uchida cutter and retrimmed ragged edges with scissors (grrrr).

While I was debating what to do next, Black Friday approached. All Fiskars tools were 60% off at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft, and I got a coupon in the mail for an additional 25% off.  I couldn't get to the store fast enough. I snapped up that ProCision and paid less than $40 for it. (Seriously.)

It's huge and substantial, but not too heavy to move if I need space on my desk.  The cutting blade is anchored on a set of rails so it doesn't get squirrelly and move sideways unexpectedly.  When I'm cutting shorter lengths, I can leave it folded up so it takes up less space.

I've been using it a LOT since Thanksgiving and I LOVE it.  It can cut multiple sheets at once. The ruler lines are easy to see so I rarely have to measure and mark anything before cutting.  The blade is still sharp after 7 months of regular use. Fiskars products come with a lifetime warranty, which is pretty amazing.  Now that I've used it, I think it's well worth the MSRP to never have to buy new blades or deal with wonky cuts.  So it's even more of a bonus that there are good deals to be had on it.

There are just a few things I don't love about it.  The 6" mark is right where the unit folds, so it's hard to line up correctly. I believe there are workarounds for this on YouTube - I just haven't been annoyed enough to figure that out yet.

Sometimes, when sliding the blade away from me to cut, I get a slightly more ragged edge.  Nothing I need to re-trim, but it's just more "fuzzy" than cutting the other way.  I haven't figured out if that's just for a certain paper type, or if it's the way I'm pushing it.

My new craft space is small and this trimmer is big.  I need my trimmer to be handy most of the time, so I leave it out, but I'm always moving it to get the things stored behind it.  If I had the Craftroom of My Dreams, I'd have plenty of room to keep this thing unfolded on my desk.

But overall, I HIGHLY recommend it.  It's dreamy.  It might be my Forever Paper Trimmer.  And that's saying a lot.

(No one paid me to write this.  I just really, really LOVE this trimmer!)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Project Life 2013: Luxe Love

Yep, it's time for another Project Life layout already.  I was anxious to use my brand new Luxe items from my Pink Paislee warehouse box that arrived last week.  So shiny and pretty!

The gold papers were speaking to me this week so I figured I'd do a color scheme of gold and white. I wanted another pop of color, though, and remembered reading someone's message board post about neon pink with gold.  That is a color combo I had never, ever considered.  But it's genius. So I grabbed my Heidi Swapp neon pink gel pen and went to town with a lot of journaling.  (Click for larger photos.)

May 20 - June 2: Zoo, Folklife, Daddy Time

May 20 - June 2: Brunch with friends, Good Baby, YUM

Week title and summary card

I kept the rest of the spread very simple.  I wanted to retain the simple look of the 12x12 star and circle papers, so I cut the papers to match the slots in my page protectors and laid out the pieces the same way.  Since there were several slots with no pattern I had plenty of space to work with my photos, many of which I printed smaller than usual this week to let the background paper shine (pun fully intended!).

The embellishments were minimal as well - Luxe gold rub-ons, and these amazing, fantastic Dear Lizzy 5th and Frolic tiny white and gold letter stickers I had been hoarding from my Studio Calico December Daily kit. And just so you know, I 1-clicked myself another pack of them on Amazon, because they are so lovely.

For emphasis I also used the larger gorgeous shiny gold Hardcover Thickers, which I think I also got in an SC kit. I was thrilled to find them recently in silver, too.  I love the simple font, and they are so shiny.  I'm a sucker for shiny things.

Because I didn't use many different products, it was really easy for me to load up what I needed on a shallow tray and work at the kitchen table while watching the girls play in the living room. Usually my crafty time only happens after they're in bed, so it was really nice to be able to work on this during the day.

Here's a slide show of all my 2013 pages, including close-ups.  If you can't see it, click here to view my entire 2013 Project Life gallery.

Project Life @ The Mom Creative

Friday, June 07, 2013

You would even say it glows: 2012 December Daily-ish album COMPLETED!

Back in the fall, I enthusiastically ordered the crazy expensive December Daily album kit from Studio Calico.  I was all set to Document Our Christmas and Participate in the Online Festivities.  But I quickly realized that making a page a day was NOT going to happen with a 2 month old baby and a 3 year old in the mix. So I focused on having a GREAT holiday season, aided by our Holiday Fun List, and decided to work on the album once the season was over.

That was so much easier.  I started in late December with a bang and made a bunch of pages for the Hello Forever journaling cards I had carefully written up during the holidays.

And then I got stuck.  Once I put all those 31 cards into the album, it was almost full.  And that was without ANY photos. And boy did I have photos.  So I stuffed the project into a clear Iris box and put it with my other unfinished projects.  It mocked me with every passing month.

I wondered whether I should rip it all apart and start over with a bigger album. I talked it over with two crafty friends, who gave me a bunch of helpful suggestions, so I didn't let that expensive kit go to waste.

I've been given the gift of time in this new life as a stay at home mama, so I am trying not to squander it.  I forced myself to tackle this project even though I felt really uninspired.  So a few weeks ago, I pulled out the box, and took stock of what I had.

My biggest job was to EDIT. Since I was creating this album about our holiday season, from the end of Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, not every day was magical and awesome. Many were downright mundane. I had journaling cards written where it was clear I was trying to find SOMETHING holiday-related to write about.  So I got rid of those and just kept the interesting ones.  I was pretty ruthless about it. I added a separate card to track all the books we read during our Book Advent so I didn't lose the information.

Printed on Studio Calico awesome grid card

Once I accepted that it didn't have to be a comprehensive listing of EVERY last thing we did in December, it was a lot easier to make progress and choose to highlight the best parts of the season. I cranked through it in just a few days and finished it easily.

My favorite part is this confetti pocket I made with a Flip Pocket and vellum that I printed on.  I knew I wanted to use this photo for the last page, and love how the vellum lets it peek through.

Last page - confetti Flip Pocket, Thickers, vellum

My favorite holiday photo

Here's a slide show of my entire album.  If you can't view it, here's the gallery.

I'm really glad I tackled this project.  This year, I'll incorporate it into my Project Life album, using the Design E (4 6x6) page protectors.  I love the 6x6 size, and that'll be more compact than a separate mini album.  Since I'm only doing Project Life every two weeks, I'll have plenty of room in the album for extra projects like this.  I'm really looking forward to it!

Did you do December Daily?  Did you finish?

Monday, June 03, 2013

And my heart's numbered beats

The title is from one of my favorite songs ever.  Super extra bonus points if you can guess it :)

One of the delightful things I've discovered in my craft supply addiction is "warehouse sales" or "warehouse boxes".  Paper manufacturers seem to do this once or twice a year to clear out stock before new lines are released.  In many cases they have an open sale at their warehouse, which doesn't help me because I don't think any of the companies I love are in Seattle.  BUT many of them sell "warehouse boxes" online - a grab box of goodies for one flat price.

I love, love, love the surprise element here.  Especially if I choose a manufacturer where I like most of their designs and products. Not to mention it's usually a screamin' deal per piece compared to retail prices.

Last week I ordered a box from Pink Paislee.  I actually wasn't very familiar with their recent products, except for the very excellent Portfolio line, but a quick search online gave me the impression that I'd like a lot of their stuff.  It was around $56 including shipping, and arrived in one of the USPS Medium Flat Rate boxes, packed full.

It was amazing!  In total, I got 34 items in the box, each with retail prices from $2.99 up to $28.  Nearly all of it was stuff I would use - there were just a few things that were a little too boho, floral, vintage, or cottage/shabby for my taste.  But the items were all from recent collections: City Sidewalks (Christmas), Christy Tomlinson, Luxe (yay!), Portfolio, Secret Crush (Valentine's), Artisan, and Heidi Swapp.

oh, my goodness, Pink Paislee.

The lot included a ton of paper - a 6x6 pack, two 8x8 packs, a 12x12 collection pack, and a stack of around 28 12x12 sheets from all of the collections. I also got a few mini albums, embellishments, stickers, rub-ons and masks for stenciling or misting.

The big surprise for me was discovering the Luxe line.  It is AMAZING.  Shiny, simple and geometric. I want all of it now, so maybe Pink Paislee will get me at retail price for the rest of the collection! The gold and silver paper pack is available with Amazon Prime, so I just 1-clicked it.  Woot.

I found someone who wanted a few of the things that were not my style so we arranged a trade, which means I'll get a few more items I can use.  I'm pretty excited about that, even if I'm not able to sell or trade the remaining few pieces that aren't my style.  (T can always use more crafting supplies, right?)

Here's a complete list of what I got in my box (be amazed, papercrafters!):

28 sheets of 12x12 papers from all collections

Secret Crush:
photograms frames
element stickers
photo frames
photo tabs

Luxe (swoon!):
12x12 paper pack in copper/black
2 packs of rub-ons
3 placemats/masks in gold and silver

City Sidewalks:
8x8 paper pack
paper garland
collage sheets

chipboard arrows
2 packs of mistable fabric trim
2 packs of puffy stickers
8x8 resist paper pack
canvas album covers
album tabs
photo corners
3d flowers
3d butterflies

Christy Tomlinson:
6x6 paper pack
2 masks
3 packs of rub-ons

Heidi Swapp:
3 wood mini albums (heart, star, scroll)

Hope Chest: (will be finding a new home for these)
burlap butterfly embellishments
journal cards

Cottage Farms: (will be finding a new home for these too)
photo frames
journal cards

This was definitely a great deal, and the anticipation of delivery and the fun of pulling tons of little things out of the box made my weekend even better.  I'd totally buy this again.

So, have you gotten one of these magic boxes?  From where?  Did you like it?

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Project Life 2013: Orange You Happy, Mama?

I got my groove back for this Project Life spread, which included our low-key Mother's Day celebrations. We went out for an early breakfast at my favorite Portage Bay Cafe, and then my parents came over the following day for an official Mother's Day brunch. Bacon was enjoyed by all. Well, not T, because she doesn't like bacon. I think I'll keep her despite that.

(Click to see larger photos).

May 6-19: Mother's Day, solid food for BabyM, haircut & Redmond Saturday Market

May 6-19: Brunch, UW research study, manual labor, cuteness

Calendar bling marking our anniversary and Mother's Day

Small detail - almost what I wanted

The last photo is a closeup of one of the Studio Calico Project Life Kit cards.  I wanted to add a cute embellishment to the inside of the camera so I put in a tiny star sequin and used Glossy Accents to create a little dome over it.  Except that I didn't use enough, so it's not quite round. Oh well, better luck next time.

I tried hard this week to use only my growing collection of pre-cut Project Life cards. Most are from recent Studio Calico kits or my brand-new Project Life Midnight Core Kit.  I used a few scraps and embellishments salvaged from my December Daily album (which I reworked and finished-finally!  More on that later.)  

The black letter stickers spelling "SUPER CUTE" and "MARKET" are cast-offs from a friend and are over a decade old.  It was a fun game to figure out what I could spell with the remaining letters.  Once I completely run out of As and Es, the rest get turned over to T for use in her "crafting".

Something I've found helpful to making a cohesive layout is to use most embellishments, stamps and letter stickers twice on the spread. I was doing this subconsciously and just realized it while making this spread.  It's not a hard and fast rule, but it definitely helps me limit the number of "things" I'm bringing in, as well as making the different pockets "relate" to each other.  I'm sure this is some fancy graphic design principle that I missed out on during the art classes I never took.

So here we are at the beginning of June, almost halfway through the year, and I'm still living in the mythical land of "caught up".  Yay!

Here's a slide show of my 2013 pages, including close-ups.  If you can't see it, click here to view my entire 2013 Project Life gallery.

Project Life @ The Mom Creative

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