Watch Me Work: Valentine's Day Card

I had mentioned a few weeks ago I wanted to start making some card videos. After giving it a go with the Color Street tutorial I posted last week, I decided to start a series called "Watch Me Work." I'm not sure how often these will go up, but I would really like to aim for once a week if possible.

I needed to make a Valentine's Day card for my husband, so I thought this would be the perfect card to start my video series with.

I started out by die cutting a large heart in the top center of my card front panel using the Stitched Hearts Layers dies from Memory Box. Then I die cut the next size down from pink card stock, and attached it behind the card front.

I stamped the hearts from the The Stamps of Life hearts2diefor set right onto my card front with My Favorite Things Cherry Crisp pigment ink. I can't find this one online anymore, I received it as a free gift from CKC Manchester a couple of years ago. I did note that My Favorite Things has Cherry Crisp in hybrid and dye inks on their website. I added clear Ranger embossing powder over the stamped image and heat embossed it with my Martha Stewart heat gun.

I then stamped the "today tomorrow always" sentiment from the Technique Tuesday True Love stamp set onto some black card stock with Versamark ink, and used Stampin' Up! white embossing powder to make it pop. I attached my card front with foam adhesive, then added the sentiment right on top across the window.

If you'd like to watch me put this card together, here is the video:

Thank you for watching!

Working on that whole YouTube thing...

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I would like to start doing some YouTube videos for the blog. Unfortunately I don't like myself on camera, and I have a very beginner's level of understanding of how to film and edit videos. But I decided I had to start somewhere and today I filmed a short tutorial for YouTube showing how I punched out the stars and cut the stripes for these Patriots inspired nails I did the other day (just in time for the Super Bowl).

I'd love for you to check out the video! It's just under 4 minutes :)

Thank you! :)

6x6 Paper Pad Donation Card Project

I've been working on a project for the past few weeks that I finally finished and am ready to share with you. I recently came across Kristie Marcotte's YouTube channel, and she has an amazing series which uses a single 6x6 paper pad to make somewhere in the range of 35 cards. The process videos are fascinating to watch. I was inspired by her videos to start using up the incredible amount of scrapbook paper and 6x6 pads I have in my stash. I also thought it would be a good way to get myself back into card making after taking such a long break. I sort of did that with my holiday cards this year but only made a few and I really needed a big project to get my mojo flowing.

For Kristie's 6x6 Paper Pad tutorial, you can check out her blog post here. I encourage you to check out her blog and YouTube.

Here are the 29 cards I made for this project. Continue on for a link to the sketches used and close ups of each card. I will try to list products used (links where possible) at the end of the post, but I'm not going to list everything as there are lots of older products. My point was to use what I had to do this project and not purchase new.

I plan to donate these cards to Cardz for Kidz. There are lots of places you can donate handmade cards, I just chose this one for this project, but I may use others in the future. Other places you can check out are Send A Smile 4 Kids, or Card Care Connection.

I chose one of my unopened paper pads and went to work:

This is the My Mind's Eye Fine and Dandy paper pad which I picked up at least a few years ago. Next I went through my solid card stock and chose some Stampin' Up! card stock that coordinated (colors include Pool Party, Bermuda Bay, More Mustard, Daffodil Delight, and Sahara Sand. I also later found a dark brown (unknown brand) in my stash and used some of that too. I followed Kristie's lead and pulled all the papers out of the 6x6 pad and lay them out. Some patterns I didn't care for so I just used the opposite side.

Most places that accept cards for donations follow similar guidelines. The cards shouldn't be too thick, have glitter or elements that can easily fall off, and should include uplifting messages. In most cases these go to children in the hospital, so they prefer not to have phrases like "get well soon." So I opted for minimal embellishing, and chose stamp sets I had that had positive messages. You'll note a lot of them are used over and over again in the cards I made, but that makes me happier because I'm getting good use out of these stamps and dies!

I followed card sketches as Kristie does, but rather than going from site to site for different sketches (because there are thousands out there), I stuck to My Favorite Things sketches. I felt drawn to those and there are over 360 so far to choose from. Here is a link to the MFT blog where you can find all of their sketches. I have lots of their stamps and dies as they really fit my style. Check out their shop here.

One thing Kristie does is make several of the same card from a sketch which helps with using up every bit of the paper pad she can. I wasn't as concerned with waste, honestly these papers have been here for years in some cases and I just want to create. So I made 2-4 different cards from each sketch. In some cases they're the same card but slightly different papers/colors. I did have quite a few small scraps leftover but not many large enough ones worth saving.

The first sketch I used was MFT sketch 353:

I made three cards with this sketch:

I did do some white heat embossing on the sentiments for these cards. I think heat embossing is a good way to add a little bit of dimension but without using foam adhesive or anything that can easily be pulled off the card.

Next, MFT sketch 366:
I made two cards with this sketch:

I love those butterfly dies I used on the card on the left. I've only used them once before so I was excited to break those out.

MFT sketch 320:

I made two cards with this sketch:

The card on the right took me FOREVER to do, so it's definitely not practical for this type of project. I wanted to create evenly spaced windows for the patterned paper to peek out from behind the main panel but getting them to line up perfectly took me a good 5 tries. Blah!

MFT sketch 267:

And I made three cards with this sketch:

That "hello" stamp is definitely in my list of favorite stamps. And ah, those birdies are so cute!

MFT sketch 259:

I made three cards with this sketch:

I'm in love with the card on the left, with the yellow "you" die cut. I layered three of the same die cut together to create some dimension and used some Distress Collage Medium for adhesive. I recently got those fine tip bottles with the pins in them and what a difference for applying thin amounts of liquid adhesive!

MFT sketch 185:

I made three cards with this sketch:

I like that all three of these cards look quite different yet use the same sketch.

MFT sketch 110 (this one is my favorite and I think I'll use it again in future projects):
I made three cards with this one. I just looooove this layout!

I think it's the oval stitched die I used in these that I love so much.

MFT sketch 278:
I made four cards with this one, but really two different sentiments used twice.

Again with that "hello," this time in die form. Favorite!

MFT sketch 296:
I made four cards with this one too:

The number patterned paper I was struggling to come up with a sentiment that didn't just say "happy birthday" since I'm not sure if they want birthday cards. I think "happy everything" works because the card could be used for many different things.

And last one is MFT sketch 306:
I made two cards with this sketch:

These were the last two cards I made and I really wish I'd used the "thinking of you makes me smile" stamp more in this project. It just stamped so clean and crisp (it's a wood mounted stamp) and it is a perfect sentiment. I also like that the paper pad came with owl patterned papers and I was able to use some owl themed stamp sets I had to coordinate.

Overall I really enjoyed this project. I like that I was able to be crafty, use up supplies, and that these cards will go to hopefully brighten the days of some children who need lots of love and positivity. I'll be writing a small positive sentiment and signing the insides of these as requested by the Cardz for Kidz organization, but make sure to check the guidelines for wherever you may donate - some prefer blank insides, some ask for envelopes with the donations, etc.

Here are some of the supplies I used in this project:

Avery Elle Sentimental Too stamps and dies
Stamps of Life owls2love and moreowls2love
Hero Arts Stamp & Cut happy, hello, thanks
Altenew Painted Butterflies
Simon Says Stamp Giving Thanks
Lawn Fawn A Birdie Told Me
Hero Arts Hooray
Stamps of Life tinytitles2stamp
Hero Arts Messages With Flourish
Simon Says Stamp Stitched Ovals
Lawn Fawn Stitched Journaling Card (used for the stars)
Crafter's Companion Stars
My Favorite Things Stitched Circles
Stampin' Up! Banners Framelits
Spellbinders Curved Square
Memory Box Cascadia Butterfly Trio and Leavenworth Butterfly Trio

Most of my adhesive is my ATG roller and some of the Distress Collage Medium.

It's been a month! Life update, goals, Color Street, etc

Happy Monday everyone!

I know I promised my donation cards post but I'm still finishing that up. I'm up to 19 cards so far with one 6x6 paper pad, which several sheets left to go. This project is a lot of fun so I can't wait to share it with you. My main goal this week is to complete that for you. I have no other plans so crafting is the top priority this week!

Speaking of goals, I have a lot of them that I'm trying to get through. I'm starting to break out of my funk. I'm working on catching up with my 2017 finances from my former business over the next couple of weeks so we can work on our taxes this year. I'm getting back to exercise so I can drop all the weight I gained over the past two years (about 20 pounds). I've been cleaning the house like crazy and we moved all the leftover business supplies/fixtures to the attic to just get the house decluttered. I've been working more in my craft room. I will start some graphic designing soon - just haven't gotten there yet.

I have an app called Tody which I downloaded (it's $7 to purchase it fyi) that I am really liking. You can set up all the different cleaning areas in your house by room/area and set how often you want to clean them, and it shows you what needs to be done, when. I can say now I've been sticking too my weekly cleaning of my bathrooms and vacuuming, so I'm pretty proud of myself. I even put dishes in there as a daily task which reminds me not to just leave the dishes in the sink (however I only do dishes once per day - if a few sit overnight, I'm ok with it, this just keeps me from being overwhelmed). Same with laundry, I have it set every 3 days. I do a load and then I'm not spending an entire day doing laundry because I've let it go so long. I recommend it if you want to find something to keep you on a cleaning schedule.

I've been really happy with my grocery shopping this month. We've only eaten out once on a gift card, and then while we were at Great Wolf Lodge. (down from 2-3 times a week!). We've been doing really well eating what's in the house. I've been keeping groceries under $100 a week so far, and sticking to a specific list when I shop. I use iBotta to get rebates, along with Checkout 51. And I started couponing a little bit. That one is going to take me a little bit to get into. I've been trying to use eBates online whenever I shop online too.

If you were wondering...I am 3 weeks behind on Project Life. But I swear I'll catch up this week lol. Going away for the weekend threw me off because when I would have done it, we were gone, and then I got into some cleaning projects at home and didn't have time to do it. But it'll get done. At some point. :)

I mentioned this before, but I joined a company called Color Street back in late summer as an Independent Stylist. Color Street, if you don't know already, produces 100% nail polish strips. I fell in love the first time I used them. I don't spend time on makeup everyday for me, but the one thing I always like is pretty nails. I never tried nail wraps because they seem too complicated to apply, but I found Color Street to be really easy. There is no heat, no special tools - it's as simple as peel and stick. I like that they have no drying time, and the designs are ones I would actually wear on my nails. So I signed up within my first week of use. The starter kit was only $129 (a FAAAAR cry from the investment I made in my last business) so I felt like it was no risk - and I made that back in commission on my first party. I've been enjoying doing my nails! The strips are inexpensive ($11-14 with B3G1 free specials on everything except French - which are B1G1 free) which is great, because I am ALL about saving money.

If you haven't tried Color Street I really would love to send you a free sample - you can find me on Facebook here. In my pinned post, there's a link to request a sample and I'll get one right out to you! Give them a try, they're easy and cute and fun! If you just want to browse the inventory, and shop, you can always click on and check us out that way!

Did I tell you already that I've been enjoying gaming on the Xbox with Brad lately? We're still working our way through Diablo 3, which is an awesome game. I've been looking up others to try afterwards, but we may end up playing Diablo 3 again and again. It's a great coop game!

We have a trip to Disney planned in a few weeks and I'm really looking forward to the time with my boys. Also I'll be seeing my folks who moved down to Florida in the fall, so that will be good too.

Alright, time to go have lunch and then get back to these cards! Talk to you soon! :)

Adult Color By Number

Just sharing something I have been enjoying. I love to color but I find that I get frustrated figuring out which colors to use in a picture. I found an adult color by number coloring book on Amazon that I'm really loving lately. It was less than $9 and definitely worth the price. It gives you a color chart on the inside cover for you to follow. I'm finding this really relaxing. And something I can do with the kiddo.

Anyway, just wanted to share! You can find this coloring book here.

A little out of sorts...

Lots of rambling here, so if it's not your thing, you may want to skip this one! This past weekend we went to Great Wolf Lodge. This is our third year in a row visiting the resort and it's become a really nice mini-getaway. We do this as part of Austin's birthday present, but this year because we have a couple of Disney trips booked in February and April, we opted to go to in January instead of March. He also already had Monday off from school, and it was cheaper. We had a great time, as usual. There is always a ton to do - we ran around for 3 days and still skipped a few things.

Since the New Year, I've been in a bit of a funk. Actually, strike that. I've been in a funk since shortly after I quit LLR. I find myself just not wanting to do the point of just staring at the wall sometimes. It's not all the time - I definitely go through some productive days, but when I have "downtime" I feel out of sorts. After a lot of reflection I think it's truly that I was so stressed for so long (in both good ways and bad) that my brain/body have just decided that I need a rest. However I'm one of those people who hates just sitting and doing nothing - when I watch TV I'm usually doing something else at the same time so I can be somewhat productive. So it's been kind of a weird time. What do I do when I don't want to do anything?

I feel really good though when I'm productive. I've gotten myself into a cleaning routine thanks to the Tody app I downloaded. That's been very helpful reminding me what needs to be cleaned and when. The house hasn't looked this good since I had to cancel my maid service when I went part time at work. I've also been doing the grocery shopping on a budget, and have been cooking dinner. I put all the Christmas decorations away, finally. Basically working through some stuff in the house that I've put off for a very long time due to just being so darn busy. That part is nice.

I started a card-making project last week which I'll be sharing here soon once it's finished. I'm working with a 6x6 paper pad and making cards from sketches for donation to children in hospitals. I got 6 cards done on Saturday but then we left for Great Wolf on Sunday, and since we got home I've been doing housecleaning projects. Hoping to get back on the cards tomorrow!

Called an electrician to check out some wiring issues in my house. A cousin of one of Austin's former daycare teachers. He's coming by today, so that will be another thing off my to-do list.

I still have no clue what I want to do for income going forward. But I have several months to figure that out. I'm not-so-secretly hoping that I become such a great housewife that my husband doesn't want me to return to work ;) Also hoping I can maybe figure out a method of income that involves more of my creative mind. And I'd really like to work from home if possible. Preferably, for myself. Hoping I can make that happen, just not sure how I want to go about it.

I thought about starting a YouTube channel. I realize YouTube has made it next to impossible to really earn revenue from that, but I thought it might be a fun addition to the blog. However I have very little knowledge of how to really start vlogging or recording process videos, and I hate how I sound on camera, so I'm still thinking about that. I probably would want to learn how to do voiceovers, at least for process videos. I also don't want to invest in another camera at this time so do I use my iPhone for now or maybe my DSLR? Would anyone want to watch those videos? I'm not very interesting as a person and I'm definitely not a professional with regard to my card making. Anyway, just something I'm thinking about.

I'll be back next week with my card making project!

Project Life 2018: Week 1

I wanted to share the first week of my 2018 Project Life album with you guys. I know already that I will not be sharing every week here on the blog. It took me since Monday just to get these pics taken and the blog post written. I will likely share every week over on my Instagram, and just sporadically include layouts here on the blog.

But here is week one. It's a very simple layout, which is my goal. I used a few different sets of stickers/thickers and a label, but really no embellishing at all. I can't compete with the amazing Project Life creative team every year, and trying to defeats my goal of keeping this project simple.

And here are the two pages a bit closer up:

The first picture I included is actually from just before midnight on December 31. We woke Austin up to watch the ball drop (he'd requested to go to bed and have us wake him up rather than him staying up). He fell back to sleep while waiting so we had to wake him again. I just wrote a quick note about this onto a little card stock label and attached it to the photo. 

I had to include a photo of some of the Lego sets we have been doing since Christmas. I received the BB-8 Lego set for Christmas and really enjoyed putting it together. Since then I've been doing a few older sets we have in the house and I ordered another smaller Star Wars set for me. Austin (and sometimes Brad) have been doing their own Lego sets at the same time so it's been kind of a fun family activity.

I included a photo of two ornaments that were given to us this year that were really special to me. My grandmother has been in a nursing home for a few years now and she isn't doing that well, and my mom had found a bag of ornaments she had purchased for everyone in the family. So my mom wrapped them up and gave them to us this year. It would have been the last time my grandmother was able to shop on her own, so they just mean a little something more to me than ornaments she's been able to give me in the past.

Brad and I have been playing a game together on the Xbox called Diablo 3. It's a cooperative fantasy type of game, very similar to the old Baldur's Gate games we used to play together. It's been really fun playing together again, so I added a photo of our characters as they were the other day (as we get new armor and weapons our appearances change).

This was my first week being unemployed. I was able to get a few things done, like starting a cleaning routine with the Tody app (though I haven't gotten to the whole house yet - but the bathrooms are on a schedule now and that pleases me). I've just kind of been working from zone to zone in the house. I also find that I'm really tired a lot, and when I really think about it, I just think it's the past two years of stress (both good and bad) catching up to me and telling me to take a little break. But I'm struggling with doing that and trying to find my fit as a stay at home.

I've got some motivation in me for a craft project I've been thinking about doing for a loooooong time, and I'm going to try to work on that over the next week. Basically I've been wanting to find a place to donate handmade cards, as many of the ones I make never get sent to anyone. I also would really like to make some uplifting cards but have no one to send those directly to. And I've been inspired lately by Kristie Marcotte's YouTube channel and her amazing ways to use a 6x6 paper pad to make like, 35 cards! So I think I'm going to incorporate her card making style into a (smaller) project to make some cards up to send to a few places I've found that take cards and give them to children in the hospital. I have so much paper...more than I'll ever need (yet as with most crafters, I always seem to need more!) so I thought it would be a good idea to start using them! I'll be sure to post about it if/when I complete the project, which I hope will be soon, and link to those places to donate as well.

Happy Birthday Card

Sharing a card I made for my stepmom's birthday today. I received the Hero Arts Happy Stamp & Cut stamp & die set for Christmas and I couldn't wait to make a card with it. The 'happy' die (and stamp) is just such a great font. I used purple glittery paper from Paper Studio (Hobby Lobby's brand, I believe). I love this glitter paper - it doesn't flake off at all...even a tiny bit!

I stamped 'birthday' from the stamp set with VersaFine Onyx Black ink (I find that this stamps words better than Memento - but I used Memento on the pieces I colored) onto some Stampin' Up! Pool Party card stock. Not only is Pool Party my favorite of the colors from Stampin' Up!, but I feel like the purple worked well with the aqua.

Next I stamped (with Memento Tuxedo Black) the fox from the Party Animal stamp set from Lawn Fawn. I colored him in with my Copic markers (I have the Ciao set with 72 colors which are now almost 7 years old according to when I purchased them and still work beautifully), and carefully cut him out. (I don't have the matching dies for this set). Then I took the Memento Tuxedo Black marker and carefully ran it along the edges so that my cut appeared super clean. I also stamped one of the little gifts from the set and did the same - cutting it out and running the marker on the edges.

Before adhering the Pool Party strip, 'happy' and fox to the card, I used the small stamps from the Party Animal set and various Memento ink colors to randomly stamp around where the strip was going to be. I tried to place the stamps closer to the border and then spread them out the further they went, but I'm not really that great at that kind of spacial arrangement so it didn't turn out exactly as I had planned.

I attached everything down to the front, using some very thin foam adhesive for the fox (I'm mailing this card) and added some teeny tiny Martha Stewart star sequins to the left side to tie in with the stamped images.

On the inside of the card I stamped a phrase from a Simon Says Stamp set "It's Your Birthday." 

And that finished off my card! Since it is being mailed the only real dimension I used was the thin foam adhesive behind the fox.

The ibotta App

My full time job ended at the end of December. For at least several months, I'm planning to take time off, get my house in order, do some crafting, and figure out what it is I want to do next. In the meantime, I have a goal to try to cut down our monthly expenses - starting with groceries. I've already switched from our usual grocery store (Wegman's) over to Market Basket, as the prices are better there. I've also subscribed to a number of YouTubers who offer tips on saving money on groceries or other household products. 

Through one of these lovely YouTubers, I discovered the ibotta app. This is a free app for your phone. You find offers on products at the places you shop for groceries, and basically earn a rebate if you purchase them. It's very easy to get the rebates - you send in a photo of your receipt and scan the product barcodes. I downloaded this app on Wednesday and already have earned $21.50! (I haven't been able to figure out the lifetime earnings vs. total available yet but I think it might be my "any item" offers - those don't count towards any bonuses you might earn). 

I used it at Dollar Tree and Market Basket this week, but I notice the app has other stores that I regularly shop at like Target as well. 

When I signed up and linked my Facebook account I realized that lots of my friends already use this app too. I feel like I was living under a rock not knowing about it, but it turns out I have a few other friends that didn't know about it either. So I thought I'd post here to let you know about it too! I do have a referral link if you'd like to use it to sign up, and then you'll be on my team. There are monthly bonuses you can work on together to achieve that way! 

Click here to sign up for the free app and check it out if you don't already use ibotta but are looking for more ways to save on groceries!

2018 Project Life Cover Page

Happy 2018! Today I want to share my simple cover page for my 2018 Project Life album. I'm still in the mode of snapping my blog photos with my iPhone as I'm just trying to get myself back into a real blog routine.

I didn't print any photos for this cover page, which is completely different from any of my past albums. I still haven't figured out if I'm going to print my photos at home or try to run them off at CVS or Walgreens each week. I've had some issues with my photo printer during the past couple of years, but I suspect it is because I used non-Epson ink. I did switch to a new Epson cartridge recently, but haven't had time to test out whether my pics print better again.

I used the cards that came with the Currently Edition Core Kit and just added some items from my stash. The 2018 is done with white foam thickers from American Crafts. The little chipboard arrows under the "True Life True Story" card are from a Dear Lizzy chipboard embellishment set.

I wanted to add our names, so I used stickers from Simple Stories in different colors. I had picked up these on super sale a couple of years ago - I actually bought three packages so I have plenty to last me a long time.

The large chipboard W is from an older set from BasicGrey. Just a simple representative of our last name.

I didn't do anything to the top left, third middle and bottom left cards. On the far right card, I used a stamp set from Ali Edwards/Technique Tuesday (Everyday Words) and Memento Tuxedo Black ink to stamp "capture life" around the camera image.

And that's it. Super simple, and ready to kick off the new year.