Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saying goodbye to scraps...

I have these little drawers that I keep my scraps in, all color-coded and handy.  I love diving into them and finding just the right little bits for a card or layout.  But after my last few crafting forays, I had to admit to myself that the time had come to clean them out, mostly because I literally could not close them anymore.  Well, I still had some room in the purple drawer and the yellow drawer, but blue and green?  Forget it. 

I don't know why it was so hard for me to say goodbye to all those old scraps!  Most of it was paper that is totally outdated, or that I had already made several projects from and I wasn't likely to go back to again.  But going through them was seriously a trip down memory lane, remembering all the fun layouts and mini-albums and cards I'm made over the past few years.  I felt almost disloyal throwing them out!  I have a problem, I know...

So am I alone in this?  Does anyone else out there hang on to scraps of pretty paper because they're emotionally attached to them?  It's okay if you don't, I already know I'm a little weird...

Friday, January 28, 2011

A little help, pretty please?

***If you are here for the Blog Hop, please scroll down...***

Oh, I'm so excited!  The ScrapbookUSA Expo is coming up in March, and it is a sacred weekend to me.  This time around they had a t-shirt design contest, and TWO of my designs made the finals!  They decided to put it to a vote on Facebook, so I am here shamelessly begging for your help!  If you are on Facebook and you have an extra moment, please become a fan of ScrapbookUSA Expo, then scroll down to their pictures on the left-hand side.  Mine are the first two of the four designs.  Here is what they look like:

And here is number 2:

I actually submitted 6 different designs for the contest (hey, I was on a roll, okay?), and I thought you might like to see the others as well.

If you like any of these, I'm going to be putting them in my Zazzle shop on t-shirts (minus the ScrapbookUSA info, of course).

Once again, thank you SO much for your help!  I can't even tell you how excited I am to have made the finals and possibly get to see my designs on everyone's t-shirts at the expo!  I do most of my graphic design work for clients via email and I don't very often get to see my designs off the computer screen, so this would be super cool! :)  And if you're in the Utah area, you should join us for the Expo!  We have a group that gets together at the Expo all day Friday, and then Saturday we go to Archivers to scrapbook our little hearts out.  It's so much fun, and we're always looking for new friends to join the group!

Hope you're having a wonderful day -- don't forget to check out the Valentine's Blog Hop I posted earlier today!'s Valentine's Blog Hop!

 Welcome to another fun blog hop with the Design Team!  This is the first stop on the hop, so you're in the right place! 

I just love Valentine's Day -- a chance to get out of the doldrums of winter with all sorts of love and warmth and fun -- so I'm very excited to share these adorable felt pillows with you.  I love the warmth of felt, and being able to cut it with the Cricut makes it possible to get very fancy with very little time and effort!

Without doubt, the most popular and most searched-for posts on my blog have had to do with cutting felt with the Cricut.  Can you cut felt with the Cricut, you ask?  You most certainly can!  I thought I would take the opportunity with the blog hop to get all my best tips and tricks on cutting felt with the Cricut into one post -- and if you're participating in the blog hop you'll even have the chance to win your own choice of Cricut cartridge!  (See details on that below.)

For these pillow covers, I first created envelope-style covers to fit cushions I already had on hand.  (That way after the holiday I can just tuck the covers away and not have to find storage space for more pillows than I already have.  You can find many tutorials for this technique online -- I'm no seamstress, but I'll include my basic instructions at the end of this post.)  Then I used my Cricut to cut the letters from the Country Life (LOVE), Opposites Attract (i), and Printing Press (u) cartridges, and hearts from Create-a-Critter.  Thanks to the iron-on stabilizer (see tips below) I was able to iron them right on to the pillow covers.

I added some fun embroidery just to give it a little more personality and tie the colors in the two pillows together.*

I also cut a scallop border to use as a template to cut the edge of the red pillow.  Plantin Schoolbook has a great one.  I just cut it to the height I wanted, then traced the scallops onto the back side of the felt with a pencil and cut along the lines.

Tips and Tricks for Cutting Felt with the Cricut
1. Only use wool felt. The cheap polyester stuff from the craft aisle that comes in sheets, or the stuff you buy on the bolt won't work. Wool felt is actually a blend of wool and rayon, and it is much stiffer and nicer than the polyester stuff.  The best source I've found for wool felt is  They have over 70 colors, and the price is the best I've found.  I've also bought wool felt locally at a quilt shop.  Do not wash your felt before cutting -- it changes the texture.  This application is for things that aren't going to get a lot of wear and tear, because wool felt doesn't machine wash very well.  So you wouldn't want to cut felt pieces for a baby onesie unless you just love handwashing in cold water so so much.  And you happen to know that the baby in question will never spit up or have a blow-out... and let us know how that works out for ya... :)

2. Use a stabilizer, just as you would to cut out other fabrics. I use Heat-n-Bond Ultra Hold.  But please, for the love of all that is holy, peel the backing paper away before you load it onto your cutting mat. That backing paper sticks to the mat terribly and isn't needed during cutting. You'll save your mats and your sanity if you just take it off beforehand! (This works for other fabrics as well.) Seriously -- I have spent half an hour trying to scrape little scraps of backing paper off my mat.

3. Load the felt onto the mat adhesive-side down. That smooth surface created by the stabilizer (without the backing) adheres really well to the mat surface, and you won't get nearly as much fuzz on your mat.

4. I cut mine at blade depth 6, speed and pressure at max. You may need to adjust for your machine. Check your blade housing frequently to remove the felt-fluff buildup. You may need to use the multi-cut function to get a finished cut.  I've found that if I use the deep-cut housing I can do it in one pass, but I usually need two if I'm using the regular housing.

5. Make sure you run a lint roller over your mat after cutting so get any remaining fibers off.

6.  If you are ironing your felt pieces on to another fabric piece, make sure your iron heat isn't too high.  It will  adversely affect your felt.  It doesn't work super well to adhere felt to felt, so you might need a little fabric glue to tack down any rogue edges that won't stay down.

Now, on to the goodies!  We all know that is THE place for good deals and fast and FREE shipping on orders over $25.  Seriously, you can't beat that!  And with this weekend's blog hop you can also win a cartridge of your choice from any that has in stock!  All you need to do is visit the blog of each member of the Design Team, then finish up at the ScrapbookPal Blog, become a follower, and leave a comment that you've completed the hop.  Good stuff!  If this is your first stop, make sure you go back to the beginning and check out all the adorable V-day projects.

TomiAnn <--- You are here!  Now get hopping!

Thanks for stopping by, and happy hopping!

*If you'd like to try this style of embroidery, I highly recommend Aimee Ray's Doodle Stitching book. 

Envelope Pillow Ideas
For these cute pillow covers, I first measured the pillows I was going to use as inserts, then cut squares of felt big enough to create the fronts and backs.  I added 1" to the measurement for the back square so that I could create an easy envelope covering, as shown here:

4.  Sew the two sides together.  Usually you'll want to do this with right sides together.  Because I was using felt and I wanted a different effect, I sewed them wrong sides together.

Hopefully that makes sense -- like I said, I'm not a seamstress at all and I was kinda making this up as I went along.  This technique worked well with felt especially because it doesn't fray.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Let Your Light Shine --

My second project for this month is this cute little mini-notebook.  The Country Life cartridge has so much fun artwork that you might totally overlook!  (And guess what -- it's on sale for $29.99 at ScrapbookPal right now!)  I fell in love with this vintage-y lantern and the phrase to go with it, and I thought it would also be the perfect way to showcase these neat Distress Stickles in Picket Fence. I used them to give the "glass" part of the lantern that perfect vintage glass look, and it's gorgeous in real life. 

Little notebooks like this make great gifts and are quick and easy to make!  Here are some instructions for how I put it together.

1.  Cut chipboard for covers.  I like to make my mini-notebooks 4.25"x5.5", so that I can cut regular letter-size papers into quarters for the filler pages.
2.  Cut filler pages to match covers.
3.  Decorate cover as desired.
4.  Bind notebook.  I used a Bind-it-all, but you could also use a Cinch, jump rings, or even take it to a copy shop and have them bind it for you.  (Seriously, though -- if you like the idea of making your own books, a Bind-it-all is a GREAT investment.)
5.  Add a few ribbons to the top.  I wouldn't go too crazy with these, though, because too many will make your book less functional.
6.  Brighten someone's day with a cute little gift!  Or tuck it in your purse for yourself  -- I'm not judging...  (I still haven't decided the destiny of this little cutie.  I originally intended it for a gift, but I just love it so darn much!)

Materials:  PP -- Cosmo Cricket "Happy Together" collection; Ribbon -- Stampin' Up, Offray; Die Cuts -- Cricut Country Life cartridge; Distressing -- Colorbox Chalk Ink in "Chestnut Roan"; Binding -- Bind-it-all; Distress Stickles -- Ranger Inks

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Long Distance Baby Shower

My cousin Dallas' wife Lynda is expecting a cute little boy pretty much any moment, and I volunteered to put together a baby shower for her so we could get together with all of our family here in Utah.  Somehow I had completely forgotten the fact that she and Dallas moved to Texas several months ago... oops.  So we had to get creative, and we ended up having our baby shower via Facebook and Skype!  Here's the virtual invitation I created to go with the Facebook event invites:

Digi-kit: "Silly Boy -- Cuddlebug" by
It actually worked out really well -- much better than I anticipated, in fact!  We all either had our presents shipped directly from her registry (or wherever) to her apartment and then she opened them while we watched, or brought presents to the party and opened them and showed them to her.  We just chatted away via Skype as though we were all in the same room and had a grand old time.

In preparing for the party, I wanted to make sure Lynda still felt properly baby-showered, so I thought we needed some decorations!  But because I'm not a fan of spending a lot of time on "disposable" decorations, I wanted to make sure they'd be able to use them after the shower to decorate the nursery, so I checked out her crib bedding for a theme and colors.  First I made this banner with the baby's name:

Cricut cartridges used:  Celebration (pennants), Zooballoo (animals and vines), Lyrical Letters (font), and George (circles)
... and added some fun lengths of circle streamers.  They are SO easy to make and look so darn cute.  Just punch (or cut with your Cricut or whatever) a bazillion of whatever shape you want to use, then run them through your sewing machine one after another.  I think these are going to be a staple of party decor for me in the future!

I also used my leftover tree bases from this project to create a cute centerpiece. 

Because these decorations were take-apart-able and foldable, I was able to fit them all into a priority mail box with our baby presents and get them to the new mommy-and-daddy-to-be in time for the party!

So don't let distance keep you from celebrating the people you love and their big events!  With today's technology, we're never too far apart!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Flashback Friday -- Glitter? Gulp!

My lovely and talented friend Amy is the guest designer over at Flashback Friday today, so I thought I'd play along!  It's always a half fun/half cringe experience for me to go back and look at my early projects, and this one was no exception.  The challenge was to find your first project using glitter.  Glitter and I have a love-hate relationship -- it can often add just the right touch and make a project pop, but I struggle sometimes to use it to its best advantage.  My first glitter card was a total craft fail.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it's never seen the light of day until now...

How appropriate that it's a Valentine's card, since that's our next holiday!  This file was saved in my archives as "glitter crazy."

And just to redeem myself, I had to share my first successful use of glitter -- this big glittery snowflake card.  LOVE this one!

Hey, if you head over to Flashback Friday and play along, there is a really cute stamp set up for grabs.  Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

TIME -- My prayer for 2011

If you've ever sat next to me in class, in a meeting, or most definitely at church, you know I'm a doodler.  Big time.  As in, I can't listen to what a presenter is saying if my hand isn't sketching something out.  I never leave home without my notebook and a mechanical pencil.  Usually it's word art, whatever I'm thinking about or what is going on at the time.  Last Sunday my two little ones stayed home sick from church, which allowed me to -- gasp! -- actually sit and listen and ponder during the service.  I know, who does that?  Not mothers of 2-year-olds.  Anyway, I was thinking about time and how we never know what moment might be our last.  This is what I doodled while I was thinking, and I like it so much I thought I would share this little part of myself with you.  This is how I want to live my life.  Let's all make the most of the time God gives to us!

Have a happy day!

Friday, January 7, 2011

How to make sure bloggers can reply to your questions!

The awesome Shelly over at House of Smiths just posted instructions on how to make it so that your favorite bloggers can reply to all your comments (instead of the no-reply address popping up when they try).  Check it out!  I would really love to be able to respond directly to the questions you ask me instead of just leaving a comment and hoping you think to stop by and see it. :)

The instructions are found here, but I guarantee if you peek at Shelley's other amazing posts you'll be sucked in just like I was!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A little bit country...

A new year and a new project for!  I was really excited when they sent me the Country Life cartridge to work with this month, because the whole cartridge totally makes me think of my mom.  She is a country girl at heart, but she's also very cool and not old-lady-ish, which I think is a good description of the artwork on this cartridge.  Hmmm... that may not make sense to anyone but me, but just go with me here...

At any rate, my first priority project with this cartridge was a birthday card for my mom.  She recently took up knitting and has a real talent for it!  So this knitting needles and yarn image was just perfect for her card (I even came up with some very silly knitting humor for the inside of the card).  I used the banner feature to add a festive "MOM" banner.  The font and banner features are the high points of this cartridge for me -- they'll be versatile for a lot of different projects.

ScrapbookPal also sent me Distress Stickles to use this month.  Now, when I first heard of Distress Stickles, I thought, 'What on earth is the point of distress glitter?  Aren't glitter and distressing pretty much complete opposites?'  Then I got some in my package for the month, so I googled "What is the point of distress stickles?"  And, surprisingly, came up with some pretty good answers!  I like how Tim Holtz describes them as meant to look like vintage glass -- very cool.  I also really liked this review.  I decided to use my Distress Stickles to make my knitting needles and the MOM in the banner look like some kind of vintage fancy glass.  It really added just the right amount of glitz and sparkle to this country card.  I think I'm officially converted -- good thing ScrapbookPal has all the colors at good prices! 

Materials:  PP -- Chatterbox (I know, so old.  This has been in my stash forever!); Die cuts -- Cricut Country Life and Mini-Monograms (scalloped and regular circles) cartridges; Distress Stickles -- Ranger Inks; Distress Inks -- Dark Brown chalk ink by Colorbox.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Project Life 2011 -- My Approach

Project Life - Amber Edition

I did it!  I ordered my 2011 Project Life kit by Becky Higgins.  I've heard a lot about it, but I've never taken the plunge because I knew there was no way I could follow through with taking a picture every day for a year.  But after watching the video at the link above, I was really impressed by how flexible the kit is meant to be.  You can do a picture a day, or a few a week, or month, or whatever.  It comes with all sorts of goodies, and it's really beautiful.  And I DO want to document my family's life, and more than just the few layouts I actually get completed each year.  So I am going to do it!  I probably won't get in a picture every day, but I'm going to do as much as I can.  I'll still do regular scrapbook pages, too, and add them into the binder.  I'm going to get it all set up in advance, so it's just ready to go, as Becky suggests in this video.

But my next question was: how do I approach this big project?  How do I make it meaningful?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I can improve my own relationship with God.  I get so caught up in the day-to-day craziness of life that I let that slide way more than I should.  I want to see the hand of God in my life and feel it in my heart, not just know it in my head.  I've also been thinking about gratitude and how it can shape our whole outlook on life.  Those two ideas have merged to give me a clear focus for my Project Life challenge, and I'm sharing it with you here so that it becomes a real commitment.

I am going to use my Project Life kit record the "tender mercies" that God gives our family this year.  I know there will be lots of little things and maybe some big things, too.  I pray that, as I look for these moments, God will open my eyes to everything He does for me and for my family.  When my family looks through this year's album, I want them to feel God's love for them as much as we feel our love for each other.  What an incredible gift that will be!

I can't wait for my big white box to arrive!

P.S.  Are any of you doing Project Life this year?  Do you have your own strategies for this kind of everyday life scrapbooking?  I would love your input!