27 January 2014

Cardmaking Monday: Brads & Flowers

I have been completely enthralled with Basic Grey's new Fresh Cut collection, so I have been straying from my commitment to focus on new materials.  (Doesn't a new paper collection count?!)  Anyway, but I did manage to make a couple of cards over the last two weeks for two of my particularly under-utilized supplies. 


I have BOXES of brads.  I love, love, love them, especially the pretty enamel ones with a metal rim.  I have collected them from MME, from Fancy Pants, from Basic Grey and anyone else who has pretty brads. 

Problem is that I don't regularly think through the placement of my brads before I glue down a piece of paper.  I was thinking this week, as I tried to incorporate them (meaning I had to think first, stick later--ack!), that I could probably get something strong and clip the brad part, leaving only the pretty top that I love... Let me know if you have done this and what cutting implement you have used.  I recently destroyed what I thought was some pretty sturdy kitchen shears trying to clip apart a thin die (whoops!).  Any advice is VERY welcome!!

For this one, I actually used the brad to adhere the die cut flower.  I cut these flowers back when I first got this die and LOVED them, but trying to get them to adhere is insanely difficult.  This was a great solution and let me also use this pretty paper ribbon from Maya Road that I have been wanting to really test out fully.  I really liked this card, and I found USE out of the brad, not just prettiness.


I likewise have boxes and jars and all sorts of craziness filled with fabric and paper flowers.  Most of them were purchased a long time ago, back when I first started crafting.  They aren't really my style, so I tend to not reach for them.  I am more likely to punch or die cut a paper flower (see above!).  But in the spirit of trying things again, I tried them on two cards, neither of which were my favorites.

Part of the reason I don't love this card is that it feels a little old lady to me.  I wanted to do a sappy Valentine card, so I definitely achieved it, but generally I like a cleaner style.  It's partly the style and partly the color, but this card reinforced the reason I don't use paper flowers often. 

**Ooh, notice the pretty brad!!  This is the kind I am thinking might be better if I clip the legs.**

This one was a compilation of that Fresh Cut collection I was telling you about.  I don't normally use so many patterns in one space, but I just had this desire to make some wavy, lines and see what would happen.  The flower in this case is far more in my style, and it gives a nice place to rest your eyes after the chaos of the pattern.  But I am still not loving it. 

So..... after my experiments, I have learned two things-- I need to figure out how to clip my brads and use them more regularly.  And I need to seriously purge the flowers.  I have far too large of a collection for how much I like using them, even with some favorite papers.


Are you purging yet this year?????

22 January 2014

January Art Project: Stencils

I am at the beginning of my monthly commitment to work on a new medium or tool to create some ART.  Not that making cards (my regular past time in my studio) isn't art, but I have a pretty set way of doing cards, I know what I like and don't like, and messiness isn't part of my style.  So I want to use some mediums that allow mess and lots and lots of bright colors and exploration of creativity at its core.

Stencils have become the rage in paper crafting and multi-media art.  I find myself collecting stencils-- have been doing it since before it was the rage, when Martha Stewart went onto HSN with her paints and showed how you don't have to be able to draw to decorate all sorts of home decor items with just stencils and paint.  Ah, the appeal of easy home decor!!

My goal this month is to start playing with stencils and different mediums with those stencils.  I started with (surprise, surprise) paint, and I have moved onto Martha's stucco paint medium (which is kind of like a modeling paste in texture and thickness), and finally I ventured into Distress Inks and a sponge. 

This project is a work in progress.  I tried to use a jelly plate to print the background only to find that, shockingly, with no pressure from the center of the canvas, it won't print fully!  So I ended up pulling the mixed paint from the jelli plate and rolling it onto the background, which still had enough variation to make me happy.

I stenciled the stars first (Heidi Swapp 6x6 stencil), using a yellow/brown mixture of basic craft acrylic paint.  Then I added the Martha Stewart stucco medium with a Martha stencil.  I want to get back to it and color the raised stencil parts and add some more, but I haven't gotten there yet.  My boys like it the way it is, so it's living displayed in its half-done format, waiting for a few minutes and some pretty orange and pink paint!!

These are from a project we did in Big Picture Class's Play! workshop last week.  I didn't have exactly the supplies at home that they used in the in person class in Anaheim, but I made due with what I had.  I used a Heidi Swapp 6x6 stencil for the stars with Tim Holtz's Broken China distress ink and a gold Colorbox pigment ink.  I used a Balzer Designs stencil with Squeezed Lemonade distress ink.  I started trying to use a stamp for the rays, but that didn't work.  So the yellow stamp isn't quite as distinct as it might have been had I started there, but I didn't want to lose the cool stars, so I pretty much just stenciled on top and hoped for the best.   The pictures don't show it terribly well, but there is a hint of glitter on the canvas-- a happy accident of not having an entirely clean workspace!!

Happy Crafting!


21 January 2014

Healthy Life, Happy Mom: One Stupid Thing Part 2

I know how to lose weight.  I have done it before.  It's a pretty basic endeavor-- eat less unhealthy food (and we all know what those are) and move more.  But as we all know, it is not easy, even if simple.  It takes time, it takes commitment, it takes education, it takes doing things that hurt and make us really uncomfortable.  Our efforts are frustrated by our other commitments, by our family's needs, by our friends' sabotage.

But mostly, it is hard because most of us truly don't believe we are worthy of it.  We have heard the story so many times in our head that this ONE STUPID THING trumps all else.  This thing makes us unworthy.

When our washing machine floods our houses for the 3rd time in six months (yes this happened to me), we feel stupid for not having gotten rid of the dumb machine after the first time it overflowed.  We pay the price of having to tear up flooring and throw out furniture that is too damaged and hassle for weeks and months with contractors and insurance companies.  We feel dumb, we pay the price, but we do NOT feel unworthy of fixing the problem.  We don't leave the warped wood floor and the mildewy chair and the smelly carpet because we feel that we were so very stupid to not have avoided the problem in the first place that we deserve living in a mess.  No, we clean up the mess and buy a new washing machine and learn from our mistakes.  Or, at least if we don't have the money to pay for all of the repairs, we do our best to fix it slowly over time, as we are able.  But we forgive ourselves.  We don't wallow in our stupidity and think that our mistake means that we are terrible people.  We are just people who make mistakes.

We, as women, have been sitting in the mildewy chair feeling ashamed of our mistakes for far too long.  We have continued to punish ourselves rather than fix the problem or at least release the guilt for far too long.  I have been sitting in the mildewy chair in a combination of guilt and shame, punishing myself for not having replaced the washer. 

One mistake (or three or a hundred!) doesn't require another.  I am beginning my 2014 with a resolution to get out of the chair (literally and figuratively!) and stop punishing myself for my mistakes. 

I am not on a quest to lose 40 pounds.  In fact, I have no particular weight loss goal in 2014.  What I want is to live a healthier life, a happier life.  I want, on a day to day basis, to be happy and feel beautiful, no matter what the scale says. 

So I am going to try a few things to see how they work towards the healthy happy life goal.  I welcome you to join me on my journey.....


P.S.  The pictures here were taken on my first morning walk.  I dropped the kids at school and went to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens and walked just for a half hour or so.  I wish I had had my camera, but my phone captured at least some of the wonder that came from just exploring.  Happy and Healthy... :-)

19 January 2014

Color Me Crafty Projects for Kids: Art Journal

Color Me Crafty was the name of the children's arts and crafts classes I have been teaching.  My kids range from ages 4-10, and they are AWESOME!  They are open to new things in a way that we adults are not.  They will grow and experiment and not care about the results, so long as they have fun doing it.  Being in their space and seeing through their eyes while they create has given me perhaps the greatest lesson I have ever learned about art. 

My classes focus on joyful play, rather than technique building.  Which is not to say that I don't care if the kids learn something-- I absolutely do want them to come away with some new  skills.  But my goal has always been to give my kids a love of using their creativity, an exposure to the many ways that they can do "art" and a reliable, repeatable method of expressing their emotions.

Weeks 1 & 2:  Mixed Media Journal: Necessity as the Mother of Invention

For any who have worked with children, you learn that some kids pick up things fast (or rush, depending on the child!) and some are more meticulous or need more instruction or help.  Balancing the needs of all 8 or 9 of my students was always difficult for me, with differences of sometimes 20 minutes getting projects completed.

Until I gave them all mixed media journals.

The simplicity and genius of the solution is hard to explain.  But at the end of the day, kids just really like to draw.  They need some prompting for ideas of what to draw, but ultimately, they love to tell stories with their drawings.  I used their journals as just that-- storytellers that also gave them practice at one of the hardest skills they will ever try to learn.

I gave them weekly prompts, taped into their journals, so even if they missed a week because the project had taken too long, they were able to go back and do that drawing another time.  The kids had colored pencils and sometimes were able to use markers or paints.

Kids are used to drawing on single sheets of paper.  None of my kids had ever had their own art journal.  They loved it so much that they asked, week after week, when they could take their journals home with them.  I had given them an outlet that was all theirs-- that wouldn't be thrown out, that they could use to write or draw or dream in, that they could show off to their families and friends.

In order to make the journal more special than a random notebook, though, it's important for kids to make it their own.  And so we come (finally) to our first kid project....

Collage and the Journal


spiral bound mixed media journal (8"x10" or smaller)
1 piece of 60lb or heavier card stock at least as big as the journal
4-6  6"x6" pieces of patterned paper
glue stick


  1. Lay the cardstock paper on a flat surface and place the notebook on the edge of the spiral rings so that the paper is overlapping the three non-bound sides of the notebook.
  2. Trace around the cover on three sides.
  3. Cut out the cardstock cover.

  4. Tear apart the patterned paper into smaller pieces.
  5. Glue the pieces in place on the cardstock.

Personalize the Journal


Collaged (and dry) journal cover
Mixed Media Journal (from above)
dark marker
photos (optional)
glue stick
clear contact paper


  1. Tear a piece of the mixed media paper from the journal.
  2. Create name or monogram in bubble letters.  If the child does not know how to make thick letters, have him or her write their name/initials and then literally draw a continuous bubble around the stick letters.
  3. Cut out letters.
  4. Erase pencil lines.
  5. Watercolor the letters, keeping in mind that it will be added to the collaged page.  Colors should be pleasing to the child when together.
  6. When dry, glue letters and/or photographs on top of the collage.
  7. Glue personalized collage onto the journal's cover. 
  8. Lay out book cover in top of contact paper (keeping backing on) as done when measuring the card stock.  
  9. Cut contact paper about an inch larger than the coveron all three sides.  
  10. Cut two corners at an angle. 
  11. Remove backing of the contact paper and line edge up with inside edge of journal (next to spirals) so that contact paper overlaps a small line of the cover.
  12. Fold the top and bottom over to cover the edge of the cover.
  13. Fold the remaining edge to create a clean cover.
And now it's time to draw and paint and create!

16 January 2014

Memory Keeping Week 3: Disaster Photos

So this week has been a huge bummer for memory keeping.  I was SO excited to get my photos back from December to be able to dig into my December Daily, only something went horribly wrong.  Out of 80 prints, only about 20 are usable.  They are blurry and smudgy and weirdly out of focus.  I have random duplicates.  And many are just poorly framed from a design perspective.

Many of them came from my phone.  As a person who almost never prints photos from my phone, I had no idea that the would turn out like this.  I have been so crushed that it has just stopped me in my tracks.

So I am at a bit of a quandary about what to do.  Here are the options as I see them:

1.  Reprint in smaller sizes and hope that the blur, etc., as unnoticeable in small size as it was on my phone.

2.  Try to crop, clarify, etc.  I know how to do this in a small way through iPhoto, but I kind of feel like it would really require Photoshop.  I am far from a Photoshop expert (i.e. I only know how to open the program), and at that, it is downloaded onto my laptop (i.e. my old computer). 

3.  Suck it up and salvage what I can by cropping, tossing or designing around the blur to get it done.

I am starting with #3 to see what I can salvage, but if anyone has suggestions about iPhone photo printing, I would be very happy to hear about it!

So, as you can see, I still don't have something in my little window on the front.  I will label it at some point, but I wanted to make sure there wasn't a quintessential picture to put in there before I did the cover.  Now, I am just hoping for some decent pictures... :-(

I chose the Project Life format to try something new.  This is my first real attempt at it (other than to throw my best friend's wedding photos into one with random cards, which wasn't my finest design work, let's just say...).  We will see how it goes...

For each day, I did a number journaling card.  I did the red chipboard hung on the twine.  They were all attached to Close To My Heart's holiday release paper.  I added a sticker to each bottom that was appropriate to the theme of that page.

So enjoy these and let me know if you have phone photo printing tips!!!

Healthy Mom, Happy Life: One Stupid Thing Part 1

When I decided to start a blog, I was a bit confused about why people blog certain things.  Sharing intimate details about your life is something I was raised to avoid.  Proper ladies didn't do that.  (Of course, the reason I know that "Proper ladies don't do that," is because that statement was regularly repeated to me when I was young and had a very loose tongue about personal and family details!)  But as I have become more of a blog reader and appreciator, I have come to particularly value women who are honest about their health, their weight and their body image.  About their struggles and their triumphs, about their journeys.  Their openness helps many of us feel like we are not alone.

Since my early twenties, I have struggled with my weight.  Since bearing my children, I have been carrying somewhere in the range of 40 extra pounds, about every two years losing 15 or so pounds and then gaining it back.

I live in the land of beautiful women in Miami.  One of my dear friends commented to me about a year ago that she felt like she had really let herself go now that she was up to almost 110lbs from her usual 98 lbs.  She is such a beautiful woman, and honestly, I think the last time I weighed 110lbs was when I was 10 years old, so I was shocked and a little offended by her statement.  It would take anorexia or a major health crisis for me to get to 110 lbs.

Because I love her, and I am a decent friend, instead of speaking my mind and saying she was being ridiculous, I assured her that she was gorgeous and that that extra 10 pounds was only noticeable to her.

And of course I took offense.

Don't we all believe that when someone points out their obviously non-existent flaws that they are in fact trying to obnoxiously point out our significant flaws?  I was certain she was commenting on my weight loss needs, not her own.

It took me a while after that conversation to realize that she was being honest and real and vulnerable to her good friend about her insecurity.   She was truly not commenting on me, she was confiding in me.  And it finally occurred to me that no matter how beautiful or thin or fashionable, we all feel the weight of our insecurities in our self-image.  To her, those 10 pounds were just as significant as my 40 are to me.  They made her feel bad about how she looked, made her feel like other people were looking at her or judging her.  Those 10 pounds, that should be of so little importance, nullified all of her other incredible qualities as a wife, mother, volunteer and friend because they drown out the positives in a sea of feeling unworthy.

I have experienced this.  I truly wish I was alone in this experience, but I am not.  In fact, I don't know a single woman who doesn't have some sort of insecurity about her body.  The experience of having my feelings about my body overwhelm my Ivy League education, the love of my children and husband and family and friends, my competence as a nonprofit leader, my creative talents, my kindness as a human being....  In my irrational heart and mind, this one, stupid thing overwhelms all of those incredible, positive things in my life-- in our lives.

I don't have an answer to the problem of body image outranking the other, far more important positive things.  But I am hoping that the catharsis and the reality check of writing my journey down will help shine light for me (and maybe for you?) on the problem of the One Stupid Thing.

14 January 2014

Cardmaking Mondays: Pre-Made Die Cuts & Buttons

Hello, friends!

Please forgive my absence, as I have been struggling with the technology and trying to take photos without good lighting.  I have figured out a way around it (hopefully!), but it has taken the time that would have gone into writing my blog posts over the last few days!  :-)

I am a cardmaker above all else.  I noticed recently that I reach for the same supplies each time it sit down.  Some call this a style, but I think mostly it's laziness for me.  I reach for the things that are WITHIN reach, as everything else sounds like a hassle.

My friend Karen Grunberg suggested that I  do 52 Tags to try out some new (or new to me these days!) tools and products, but honestly, tags just aren't my thing.  So bring on a year of cards!!

Week 1- Pre-Made Die-Cuts

This week, I began with pre-made die cuts.  I love them, I buy them constantly, and then I forget to use them!!  I am starting into the Valentine spirit, so here are some papers and a ruffle from Glitz, twine from Maya Road (love their twine!) and the die cut is from Dear Lizzy (Lucky Charm).  I added a little Pearlex to the die cut just to give it a little shimmer.  I didn't want to overwhelm it, but it just needed something shiny.  Heehee!

Week 2- Buttons

I never set out to own a huge jar of buttons.  Honestly, I am at least as likely to screen print a baby outfit and add a button to that as I am to add it to a card.  But in an effort to stashbust (and see what all the fuss is about), I wanted to get 3 buttons onto a card.  I failed, but I got 2 on, and I love the results.  Maybe there is something to this button thing after all....

 The buttons, enamel dots and chipboard are from My Minds Eye, the flowered paper is from Dear Lizzy (Polka Dot Party), the stripes are from Glitz.  The glitter tape is from Recollections.  The embossing folder is from Cuttlebug.

Thanks for checking in!  Hope those who went to CHA are home safely (or are getting ready to Play! with Big Picture Classes tomorrow!).

09 January 2014

Memory Keeping Thursdays-Weeks 1 & 2

I am terrible about memory keeping.  I always WANT to do it, but finding the time to do it has been challenging.  

That is going to change in 2014.  I will be testing the waters with some mini-books, traditional 12x12 pages and pocket pages.  I may even try out some digital media.  It's a year of experimenting on finding the best way to keep memories, so hang in there for what I expect to be a bumpy ride of exploration, creativity and fun!

Week 1

This week has been mostly about getting myself organized in my memory keeping.  Since my boys started school 5 years ago, we have been overrun with papers and artwork that I want to save. 

I briefly used artkive, which is a fantastic app where you photograph your child's artwork and store it online (in the app) by year, etc.  If you like digi media best, this is definitely an awesome and easy way to clear the clutter and save the memories.

At the end of the day, I am a tactile person.  I want to see the actual crayon strokes and know that my child held this paper in his hands.  So ultimately, I had to find a storage solution.

I gave myself an early Christmas gift of 30 flat storage boxes, 15 for each of my two children, one per year they are in school until they graduate.  They are big enough to store the oversized preschool artwork, but not big enough to keep everything.  I plan to save some room in each box for a small album for each child with photos from their year.  Limited space will help me teach my boys about prioritizing, as they still think that every broken toy should stay with them forever.  :-)

This was definitely not a budget solution, but it has already made life so EASY to sort, purge and start saving bits from their childhood.  And look how pretty they look on the shelf!

Week 2

This week, I am delving into the land of Project Life while trying to finish up my December Daily from 2012.  (Yes, 2012.  :-))

We spent our holidays running (doesn't everyone?!), so we went to the Nutcracker after the New Year.  It's a first for my kids, and I was worried about my 5 year old sitting through it.  Holy cow did he love it!  My seven year old is a little too cool for school when it comes to ballet (although if you ask him specifically, he lights up talking about various of the characters).  But my little guy sat enamored through the entire show,  clapping loudly every time they finished a piece (and sometimes before they were finished!).  It was an awesome day and something I was so grateful to share with them.

My first ever December Daily (2012) has been slow to complete, but once I got over feeling bad about how late it is, I have been able to enjoy the process completely!  This has been an experiment in letting go of my expectations for myself-- both in the timing and the design factors.  I have officially let go of doing it the "right" way (whatever that is!).

I learned that you don't actually have to do the daily part of a December Daily-- just as much as you can.  I have put very little design pressure on myself, which means I definitely like some pages better than others.  The lack of pressure, though, makes the process so enjoyable.  I am almost finished with it, so I will share as soon as I have more done.

Are you done with your December Daily???

08 January 2014

New Year, New Plan

My boys play baseball.  

This might not mean much to some, but to those parents whose lives are consumed by their children's sports or activities, I know you understand me.  We live in Miami, so our season is just beginning.  Both of my boys are competing, my husband is coaching, and I am a team mom.  We have 8 games or practices a week between the boys- the times and days of which vary- for a total of 16 hours (at least) spent on the field each week. It is our entire life from January-April.

When we decided to allow our youngest to play this winter, we made the commitment to double our already all-consuming baseball schedule.  To make it work, I elected to stop teaching my after school art program.  

Although I am generally opposed to New Year's resolutions, I find myself facing at least 8 months of no excuse to build fun, joyful projects that help my young students explore their creativity.  

To ensure my creative spirit is still being nurtured, I made a plan that is extra ambitious!   I also plan to forgive myself for whatever I don't get done!

I have created a schedule of pursuits or projects, if you like.  I have heard (and know from personal experience) that I only have so much energy in a given day, and too many decisions- whether big or little- saps that energy.  Thus, I am making the decisions now in order to reserve that energy for more DOING.  Besides, Karen Grunberg is my hero for these things (and many others!), so I am taking her lead and advice and trying out the scheduling thing.

My blog is going to look like this this year:

Mondays:  52 Cards 
Tuesdays:  Healthy Life, Happy Mom
Wednesdays:  Medium of the Month
Thursdays:   Keeping Memories
Fridays:  Color Me Crafty (aka kid project!)

I will do videos where possible and will post those with the blog posts.  I'd like to promise one per week, but until I get my feet under me (just took the crumbling Christmas tree down tonight and STILL am finishing my Christmas cards!), it may take some time before videos are a possibility!

Stay tuned for details of each of the projects in the next week, as I post for this week and last week (since we missed Week 1 of the year!).  

Happy, happy New Year!  May 2014 bring you and everyone you love health, peace and joy!