Sunday, January 29, 2012

Egypt Trip - DONE!

One week, 10 layouts!  I documented our 2002 trip to Egypt by squeezing in just a few minutes here and there. Studio J makes scrapbooking quick and easy with beautiful results.

I learned a lot about changing colors making these layouts. I needed lots of neutral papers, but I didn't want to use the same color and design combinations over and over. In Studio J, if you like the design on the paper, you can change it to any color you want.

I ordered prints this weekend and wanted to share them with you. But first, here's my top five reasons I love Studio J:
#5 - Creating layouts is super simple --- they almost make themselves
#4 - Digital journaling is so much easier than on paper
#3 - No set up and clean up needed
#2 - Can be done anywhere with an internet connection
#1 - How awesome they look!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Idea Book Reveal Party - February 5

You are invited to my semi-annual Idea Book Reveal Party! Be among the first to to get a copy of the new Spring/Summer 2012 Idea Book and see the new products first hand. You can also take advantage of my one-day only specials and enter to win the door prize!
Come get your FREE Spring/Summer 2012 Idea Book!
Here’s some of the great things I am planning for you:
·         FREE copy of the new Idea Book ($3.95 value)
·         FREE SHIPPING on items from the new Idea Book!
·         February Stamp of the Month just $5 with $50 order
·         Door prize drawing
·         Create and take using new products
·         Spring/Summer Workshop Schedule
·         One day discounts on in stock items:
-          All paper packs 30% off
-          Glitz glitter gel, Sparkles & Opaques 25% off
·         Bring a friend and receive a gift from me
·         Enjoy tasty snacks while you browse
·         Stick around after 4:00 for Studio J demo and Q&A

Sunday, February 5
2:00 – 4:00 pm
My House (email me for directions)

I hope you can make it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cricut Organization: Art Philosophy Navigation

Today, I'm continuing my Tuesday Cricut Organization series with some navigational hints for the Art Philosophy cartridge. First of all, a big thanks to my fellow blogger and Close To My Heart consultant, Lalia, who gave me a great key to unlock navigation on the CTMH Art Philosophy cartridge. (Here blog is if you want to check it out).

If you have read my earlier posts, you know that I have done away with the spiral handbooks that come with the cartridges. Instead, I've printed them on letter-sized paper and put them in a binder. (Here's a link to the post discussing how to do this).

However, the Art Philophy handbook is not available as a pdf. Instead, Close To My Heart issued a Shape Index. It is available on under Ideas & Inspiration/Cricut or by clicking here.

The first page of this document contains the base shapes available on the cartridge. These are the images that are printed on the keyboard overlay. The images in grey are available using the shift key.

Each of the remaining six pages show the shapes available using the special feature keys on the left side of the Cricut keyboard: Layer, Decorative Layer, Tag, Card, Font and Font Layer. Each of these pages is also arranged in the order the keys appear on the keyboard overlay.

Now, let's go back to page one (shown below). There is a pattern to how the shapes are arranged on the keyboard overlay. Take a good look at the black shapes in each column. Do you notice anything?  Lalia has added heading to columns in the image below to help you see the pattern.

Column 1: circles & scallop circles
Column 2: ovals
Column 3: squares
Column 4 rectangles
Column 5: rectangular labels
Column 6 oval (rounded) labels
Column 7 is a bit of miscellaneous
Column 8: tabs
Column 9: banners
Column 10: tags

Now that I've seen this, I have to wonder how I missed it. But sometimes the obvious has to be pointed out. Next time I'm hunting for a certain shape, I'll know to focus on the columns. I hope this navigational guide helps you too.

If you have not yet purchased your cartridge, you can pick it up on my shopping website (LINK).

Happy Creating,

Monday, January 23, 2012

Left Over Night Card Workshop

Every once in a while we have “Left Over Night” for dinner at our house. We do this when the frig is full of containers with remnants of prior meals. On these nights, we dig all the various containers of food out instead of making something new. Most of these containers just have one or two servings, which is not enough for the whole family. But if we each pick from among what is left, it works out to be plenty for everyone.

That is exactly what we are doing for our next card workshop. As I was thinking about what cards to plan for spring workshops, I realized that I have lots of left over kits from prior workshops. It is such a shame for them to be stored on a shelf rather than being used. So I’m ready to “clean out the frig” so to speak. For most of these kits, only a few "servings" remain, but plenty for everyone to make what they want.

Thus, for the February workshop, you get to pick your favorite cards to make from the left over kits.
Here are pictures of each of the cards available:

Each kit of 4 cards is $4. The number in parenthesis represents the number of kits available. Be sure to make your selection quickly, as they are available on a first come basis.

I also have the 3"x3" cards pictured below available for $2 for a kit of 4 cards.
Workshop Details:
February 12
2:30 – 5:00 pm
My house (send me an email for address)

Typically, we complete three sets or 12 cards during the 2.5 hour workshop.  You are welcome to order as many kits as you want. You could do the stamping here and finish assembly at home. You are also welcome to split kits with a buddy and work together.

In order for me to hold kits for you, I must receive payment. Please send me an email with kits you’d like to purchase along with your contact information. Besides cash, I can also take credit card payments over the phone or send a PayPal invoice through email.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cricut Cake and Art Philosophy

I got a new toy from Ebay this week: the Cricut Create Mini.

Tonight, Emily and I got it out of the box and gave it a test drive. Our first creation is this snowflake cake.

Not a masterpiece, but we had fun making it. We learned a lot that will help us next time. Here's a few pictures and notes about what we did.

The first thing we did was bake and ice a cake. We used the Wilton buttercream icing recipe and added blue gel coloring. For the snowflakes and border, we used Wilton gum paste. To prepare the gum paste, Emily kneaded it a few minutes to heat and soften it.

Next, we rolled it out to about 1/8". We had a little trouble at first with it sticking to the counter, so we used a pastry brush and put a thin coat of shortening on the counter.

The Cricut Cake mats do not have adhesive. In order to make the gum paste stick to the mat, we brushed it with shortening.

Next we put the gum paste on the mat and trimmed the edges, then loaded the mat into the Cricut. If you are familiar with Cricut functions, you will have no problem operating the Cricut Cake. It works basically the same.

All my Cricut cartridges also work in the Cricut Cake. Tonight, we cut out a few snowflakes from the new Art Philosophy cartridge. Generally, you will want to cut fairly simple designs on the Cricut Cake.

On our first attempt, the gum paste slid a little on the mat as it was being cut. In this picture you can see how the start and ending points did not line up.

To fix the sliding on round two, we rolled over the gum paste with the rolling pin after placing it on the mat. This helped adhere it and we didn't have any more issues with sliding. We also cut out a scalloped border (also from the Art Philosophy cartridge) to put around the base of the cake.

To decorate the cake, we simply placed the cut out images on the cake.

We decided it needed a little more decoration and used the remaining icing to add a shell border and piping on the flakes.

I think we may have over-decorated just a tad. But once the icing is in the bag, it is so hard to stop.

Wonderland: Get it before it melts!

Last weekend, I made a couple of Thank You cards using the Wonderland paper. They turned out so cute, I thought I'd share them with you.

All of the stamping is from the Wonderland Workshop On The Go set. I dressed the cards up with a few of the sparkles that also came with the Workshop.

Wonderland is my absolute favorite paper in the Autumn/Winter Idea Book and I'm so sad that it is going away at the end of January. The Wonderland paper pack and workshop are currently available on my shopping website.

Have a beautiful winter wonderland day!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Magic Rock the Block

I've been debating for weeks on what to do with my Rock the Block. So many ideas -- how could I narrow it down to just one? Then I saw what my fellow consultant Tammy did with hers and my mind was made up!

She made a wonderful Magic Folding Cube. It is made with eight of the blocks that are connected so that as you fold them down different pictures appear.

Here's some pictures of my Magic Block:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cricut Organization: Mat Maintance

This is the third and final post in my series showing you how I organized my Cricut cutting area. Over the holidays, I worked out a new system for storing the cartridges, overlays, handbooks and mats. Check out my prior Tuesday morning posts on how to organize your handbooks and cartridges.

My final note is about what to do about those mats. I used to have a spot on the floor under the table designated to the mats. However, I found that they often didn't make it to their designated spot. Inevitable, something would get set on top of the sticky surface.

In addition, other things (the dog, for example) sometimes were in that spot. Not a good for something as sticky as Cricut mats. Dog hair on the mats is not conducive to nice clean cuts. (See below for tips for cleaning and maintaining your mats)

My solution is simple, but revolutionary. Hang them on the wall! I used Command hooks by 3M. So if I decide to rearrange my office/craft room, I'll leave no holes behind.

Tips for cleaning and maintaining your Cricut mats:
1) You know that plastic sheet that comes on top of the mat? Keep it and use it. Every time you finish using your mat, put the sheet back on to protect it from stray particles that are attracted to the stick surface. Since I hung mine on the wall, I simply hang the plastic sheets between the mats rather than actually sticking them.

2) If you don't have the Cricut spatula, get one. This is an inexpensive tool that is very helpful. You may already use it for scrapping delicate images off the mat to prevent damage. It also can be used to scrap off those tiny pieces of paper (basically paper dust) that are left after you remove your image.

3) If your mat has lost much of it's stick, it is likely due to having too many minute particles stuck to it. You can prolong the life of your mat by cleaning it with Spritz cleaner. Just spray and wipe off with a paper towel.

Happy Chirping!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cricut Organization: Cartridge Container

This is Part 2 in my series showing you how I organized my Cricut cutting area. Over the holidays, I worked out a new system for storing the cartridges, overlays, handbooks and mats. Click here to read last weeks post on how to organize the handbooks in a three ring binder.
Today, we'll look at my cartridge containers.

The containers are from Snapware and I found them at Target. They come with a lid and three trays that can be stacked and snapped together. For this stack, I combined two sets that came with three trays each. I'm only using 5 of the trays and one lid (I used the remaining tray and lid elsewhere.)
Each of the top three trays hold 12 cartridges and overlays. I'm using the bottom two trays to hold Cricut accessories.
Let's look inside one of the tray...

As I was trying to decide what to use to make the cartridge dividers, I happened to see the pack of Citrus Leaf Cardstock I recently purchased at a bargain price off the discounted list.

It is the PERFECT color for the Cricut and the perfect weight for making dividers for the cartridges.

I put number labels on the cartridges to match the numbers in the binder and numbered the boxes to match the index of my binder. I also put a list of the cartridges in the lid (attached with glue dots).

Would you like to make a tray for your cartridges?

Small (approximately 6" x 9") Snapware box
Heavy cardstock, for 3 trays you'll need 5 12"x12" sheets
Adhesive, I used Tombow

UPDATE 12/25/2012 - Since originally writing these instructions, I have learned for 3D projects to use a combination of Tombow and Liquid Glass. The Tombow gives it an immediate hold and the Liquid Glass will make it last. I would suggest using Tombow as described below, but before pressing together add a few drops of Liquid Glass.

For each tray, cut four strips of cardstock 3" x 12" and one piece 5" x 9".  Score the first strip lengthwise 1/2" from each side. Turn and score to make 10 sections with the following lengths in order: 1.5", 0.75", 1.5", 1.5", 0.75", 1.5", 1.5", .75", 1.5", .75".  Fold on the series of score lines to create peaks and 0.75" wide valleys as shown in this picture.

Next, cut each of the series of score lines from the edge to the long score lines to create tabs along the sides of the strip.

Then cut off each of the 0.75" tabs.

Adhere the backs of the 1.5" sections together and fold in the tabs to create a set of three attached boxes with a flap on one side.

Figuring out what flap to put adhesive on first was a trick. I ended up doing the sides first, then adhering the faces of the boxes together.

They say necessity is the mother of invention. I needed a way to have a firm surface to apply tape to the outside of the assembled boxes and I did discover a new use for the 14" ruler:

Repeat with the other three strips. Use the remaining 0.75" flap to attach the first set of boxes to the second.

Repeat two times. You now have a set of twelve attached boxes. Trim the remaining flap.

Score the 5" x 9" piece of cardstock 1.5" (or a little less) from each of the 9" sides. Fold both edges up to create a tray to set the boxes in.

Apply adhesive liberally to all three sections of the 5" x 9" piece. Press the box to the center section. Fold up edges and press to sides of the boxes.

Repeat for each tray.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Stop back by next week for my final post on organizing Cricut items. Happy Chirping!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thinking of You Cards

Today, I'd like to present to you the cards we'll be making at the next Cards by the Dozen workshop on January 22.

The theme for the day is "Thinking of You". In planning this workshop, I was thinking of tough circumstances that people go through in life. Have you ever had a friend or family member in the midst of a trying situation and not known what to say? Often the situation is out of our control and the best we can do is let our loved one know we are thinking of them.

This first card is made with the Hope stamp set that CTMH offered in response to the Japan earthquake with proceeds going to the American Red Cross. I made this simple card that I made when I first received the set and thought it would be a nice card to let someone know you are thinking of them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cricut Organization: Handbook Binder

So what did you do over the holidays? One thing that I did was to organize my craft room. Well, technically, not the whole room, just the Cricut cutting area.
Here's a picture of my finished work area:

Over the next couple weeks, I'll share my tips and tricks for organizing Cricut cartridges, overlays, handbooks and mats. I had to do something because those bulky cartridge boxes were taking over my space. Can you relate?

Not only do the retail boxes take up a lot of room they are cumbersome to use. Everything has to be returned to an exact position for them to close properly.
My biggest pet peeve is how the spiral handbooks which just don't function properly, so that is what I'm going to focus on today. One tip I heard was to tear out the foreign language pages to reduce the number of pages. While that helps, the top of the pages still get stuck in the spiral binding making it difficult to turn pages and easy to tear them.
My solution is to switch from the spiral handbooks to this three ring binder. :)

Needs some decoration doesn't it? That can be my first project using my new organization system.
Similar to most books, I started with an index with a number for each cartridge. I grouped them somewhat by topic. (You will learn more about the box numbers at the top in my next organization post.)

Next I printed the handbooks from the Cricut website. To print your own copies, follow this link to the cartridge listing. Click on the name of your cartridge. From the cartridge's page, click on the "digital handbook" link. This opens a document with each handbook on a separate page. Adjust your printer settings to landscape and multipage. I printed six to a page (two across, three down).
Next, I put them in page protectors and added tabs with the same numbers as the index.

UPDATE (12/25/2012) - Link to site with pdfs of most cartridge handbooks without the pesky watermark!

Done! I find the binder great when I am searching for a certain image. For example, if you have multiple cartridges with a Christmas tree, you can easily flip between them to decide which one you want.

Speaking of searching for an image, a handy website is Simply type in the name of an image you'd like to make.

It will give you a list of all of the cartridges that have that image, including a link to the handbook so you can take a look.
Wow, there are 44 cartridges with a Christmas Tree! Love this cool tool.

Happy Chirping!