Monday, December 02, 2013

Holiday Storyteller... Christmas project to-do list

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas 
Toys in ev'ry store 
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be 
On your own front door."

[This year I'm participating in Holiday Storyteller, a free e-course from Simple Scrapper. I thought it would be a wonderful way to get in the mood and reflect on the season. Maybe these journaling prompts will inspire a few blog posts as well.]

Dec. 2 - Holiday projects... Do you have everything you need? How often will you work on it? Can you simplify further?

Besides shopping for Christmas gifts (which I hope to complete this week!), I have very few must-do crafty projects on my agenda this holiday.

Link to my Holidays Pinterest board

1. After putting up my decorations yesterday, I have a hankering to make my fireplace mantel sparkle a bit more. I searched on Pinterest for inspiration, but haven't yet found a picture of exactly what I want... something bold and graphic, colored with red, white, and green. I think I'll try to squeeze in a trip to the craft store this week for a bit more greenery and maybe a decoration or two.

2. One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is sending and receiving Christmas cards. I always love a good excuse to design pretty paper goods. This year I found invitations/envelopes at Hobby Lobby that I'm going to use as the main part of our card. I still need to pick up printed photos from Sam's to attach to each card, as well as to decide on what message to write or print on the other side of the card. And, then of course there's addressing, stamping, and licking envelopes, but that can always be tackled late one night by the light of the Christmas tree.

3. The one handmade gift on my list this year will accompany my nephew's Lego sets. I saw a great tutorial online for a toy bag to keep all of the small pieces together. I need to run by the fabric store to purchase both some clear vinyl and some coordinating fabric, and then most importantly need to find a chunk of time to lock myself away with the sewing machine. Of course my grand vision includes adding a pocket to the front of the bag... I hope my sewing skills are up for a challenge.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Holiday Storyteller... kicking off Christmas

Each year, you bring to me delight
Gleaming in the christmas night.
O christmas tree, o christmas tree,
Of all the trees most lovely

This year I'm participating in Holiday Storyteller, a free e-course from Simple Scrapper. I thought it would be a wonderful way to get in the mood and reflect on the season. Maybe these prompts will inspire a few blog posts as well.

Dec. 1 - What is one food or tradition that kicks off your holiday season or that really makes it feel like the holidays?

For me, Christmas arrives when the Christmas tree is up and the lights are lit. This year (and last year as well) our tree is standing in the corner of the living room near the fireplace. We set the tree up before we left for Thanksgiving but saved the ornaments and other decorating until after we returned.

As I look at our little tree from a distance, I'm thinking it might not make it another year. It's really too short for the space, and after seven Christmases, most of the pre-lit branches are dark and bent in odd directions. There are also some gaping holes that an ornament can't simply fill.

However, when we turn off the overhead lights, the Christmas tree lights cast this awesome glow on the wall behind, and I know that the magic of Christmas has arrived.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Project Life... in good times and in bad

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

We have had more than our fair share of both joys and heartaches during the last two months... and I struggled with how to document this roller coaster ride in my Project Life scrapbook. My desire to stay authentic and to really embrace real life won out.

As much I wish to erase these sorrows, these stories are now a part of my story. Years from now I will want to remember who I am and where I've come from... the good, the bad, and the downright heart-breaking.

After I learned that we had lost our baby (I thought I was eight weeks along), it was tricky to go back and journal about the happy weeks before. But it was therapeutic to write these stories and to build these pages. Recording these memories both validated the joy that we felt during the early weeks knowing we were pregnant and also became part of the legacy which our baby leaves behind.

Life sucks sometimes. I hate that. I hope that these pages reflect both the elation and the pain. As much I wish we could just skip forward a few months, these pages remind me what a crazy ride this thing called life really is...

October 7-October 13, 2013. We're pregnant! Fall for Greenville festival.

October 13-October 21, 2013. Rob's annual beach ride. Weekend in Charleston.

October 22-27, 2013. White Coat ceremony.

October 28-November 3, 2013. Halloween.
November 4-10, 2013. VCOM Olympics. We learned that we had lost the baby.

November 11-24, 2013. Two weeks in one spread. Football game. Momentum gets us through.

What about you? Have you experienced a heartbreak that was made a little bit more bearable by embracing the memories through journalling or scrapbooking?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Project Life... August through September

"I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine."
-Neil Armstrong

The momentum continues... I'm still cranking away with my digital Project Life scrapbook for the year... I had a few busy weekends where I got behind, but knock on something... I think I'm now caught up to last week. It seems like in the last couple of weeks I have really found my rhythm.

Life continues offline, even when I'm not posting here regularly. These are the stories of our life over the last few months...

Week 7: July 30-August 4, 2013. Back to school. Mike and Amy come for the weekend.

August 5-August 11, 2013. A week of firsts. Marie's birthday party.

August 12-August 18, 2013. A morning in my life. Friday date night.

August 19-25, 2013. Softball continues. Sunday at St. James.

August 25-September 1, 2013. Mama's in town!!

September 2-September 8, 2013. Christmas in July Crafternoon.

September 9-September 15, 2013. Rob's beach ride scouting trip. Fall Festival at church.

September 16-September 22, 2013. New iPhones. Working from home. Singin' in the Rain.

September 23-September 29, 2013. Meal plan. Happy Fall!

September 30-October 6, 2013. New car. Lesa's birthday. Tibetan monks. International Festival. Our 6th wedding anniversary.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Crafternoon Project #5: Confetti Gift Tags

"I craft so hard I sweat glitter."
-Dina Hafez-Suggs,

This final Crafternoon project was these Confetti Gift Tags. Because the other projects took so long, some of the guests collected the supplies for this project to take home with them.

My original idea for this project was to use paper hole punches as the confetti, but when I found this shiny confetti with Christmas-themed shapes at Hobby Lobby, I knew it was meant to be.

Confetti Gift Tags
What you need:
  • Cardstock or kraft paper
  • 1.5" circle punch
  • Transparent page projectors cut into 2" squares
  • Double-sided tape
  • Scissors
  • Confetti
  • Stamps/stamp pad
  • Hole punch
  • Twine
What you do:
  1. Trace gift tag pattern onto kraft paper or white cardstock and cut out.  
  2. Punch 1.5” circles in both ends of the tag, as shown in pattern. 
  3. On one end, apply adhesive around the hole, and press transparency pocket on top.
  4. Open the transparency pocket, and pile confetti on top of the hole. 
  5. Use adhesive around the edges of the transparency, and fold shut, sealing the confetti inside. 
  6. Apply adhesive to the other end of the tag, and fold in half, adhering the two sides together.  
  7. Use stamps to decorate with holiday message. 
  8. Punch hole in the top, and tie ribbon on. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Crafternoon Project #4: Felt Giftcard Envelopes

"Is that a warm fuzzy, or just a piece of scrap felt?"
-Sara Lanan,

The only Crafternoon project that required sewing was the Felt Giftcard Envelopes. I figured that even the least crafty among us could probably handle hand-stitching two straight lines and sewing a button on.

Gift cards are such practical gifts (and usually well appreciated), but sometimes they feel a little bit lackluster. These cute envelopes spice things up a bit and could totally be used later as a little wallet.

Felt Giftcard Envelopes

What you need:
  • Different colors of felt
  • [Optional] Coordinating patterned fabric
  • Embroidery thread
  • Needle
  • Straight pins
  • Scissors
  • Pinking shears
  • Buttons or other embellishments
  • Sticky-back Velcro
What you do:
  1. Cut one piece of felt using the pattern for the envelope.
  2. As shown, mark a dot where the strap will be sewn.
  3. [Optional] Cut same size [maybe a tad smaller!] from patterned fabric to fit inside.
  4. Cut contrasting felt 3” x 1” for the closure strap.
  5. Line up strap with the dot on the felt rectangle, and stitch with a 1-inch “X”.
  6. Stack patterned fabric on top of felt with wrong sides together.
  7. Fold the long ends towards the middle so that they are equal with about an inch between them, and pin.
  8. Fold in half, and pin.
  9. With the envelope open like a book, stitch the sides. [It works best to use 1/2 a strand of embroidery thread.]
  10. Use pinking shears to trim the sides.
  11. Cut small embellishments from felt ... stack a circle on top of a flower shape, cut out a holly leaf & berries, cut out a triangle & a small rectangle for a Christmas tree.
  12. Stitch embellishments to the end of the strap.
  13. Place one half of sticky Velcro on the end of the strap, and then wrap around and stick the other half on the corresponding place on the envelope.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Crafternoon Project #3: No-sew T-shirt Scarf

"There's great satisfaction in seeing a thing take shape and form under one's hands, especially if they are made from oddments into something worthwhile."
-Nella Last,
Nella Last's War

The Crafternoon project with the trickiest directions was the No-sew T-shirt Scarf. I positioned myself near this station throughout the afternoon, so that I could walk everybody through the steps and help them with the tedious cutting. If you find the written directions below confusing, check out this similar tutorial with photos from Max & Me Designs.

Even though the steps seem complicated at first, everybody was thrilled with how these scarves turned out. Many people mentioned that they were going to make more for teacher gifts and friend gifts. It's the perfect mindless activity to do with a football game or movie going on in the background.

No-sew T-shirt Scarf
What you need:
  • Extra-large t-shirt with no words/graphics below the armpits
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue and glue sticks
What you do:
  1. Cut T-shirt in a straight line, just below the sleeves.
  2. Cut off the bottom hem.
  3. Cut the remaining rectangle into 16 strips... I found it best to cut in half four times.
  4. Set one of the loops aside.
  5. Stretch the loops... they stretch better if you do them one-by-one, but make sure they stay about the same length.
  6. Cut the loop you set aside into five equal pieces.
  7. Tie one of the 5 pieces tightly around the15 loops.
  8. Cut this bunch of15 loops close to the knot, leaving enough room so that the strands don’t come loose. [It should look like a long ponytail.]
  9. Separate the 15 strands into three groups and braid down from the knot... Braid doesn’t have to be super tight. You probably want to braid almost halfway.
  10. Tie another of the short pieces tightly at the end of the braid.
  11. Untangle the strands and gather the ends... tie another of the short pieces around the loose ends.
  12. Cover the ends with hot glue and then push them together.
  13. Take a short wide strip and wrap it around one of the knots. Adhere with hot glue. Repeat for other knot.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Crafternoon Project #2: Dry Erase Frames

“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.”
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

The Crafternoon project that surprisingly took the most time was the Dry Erase Frames. It was tough to find just the right color scheme and embellishments.

In the weeks before the party, I scoured thrift stores looking for cheap frames. One afternoon I hit the jackpot... and two coats of spray paint later, I had an assortment of different frames for my guests to choose from (and stayed within my budget!). I pulled out my scrapbooking paper stash, printed up some vellum templates [Menu, To-Do List, and Calendar], and let everybody have it.

Dry Erase Frames
What you need:
  • Picture frames with glass and back
  • Vellum templates
  • Scrapbook paper and embellishments
  • Scissors/paper cutter
  • Double-sided tape
  • Dry erase pen
  • [Optional] Sticky back Velcro
What to do:
  1. Pick a frame.
  2. Pick a vellum template (or not!).
  3. Trace the outline of glass onto the back of paper of your choice.
  4. Cut out outline so that it will fit in your frame.
  5. Use double-sided tape to attach other papers and embellishments, if you wish.
  6. Fit in frame.
  7. Draw on glass with the dry erase pen.
  8. [Optional] Attach one side of sticky-back Velcro to the dry erase pen... and attach the other side of the Velcro to the side of the frame.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Crafternoon Project #1: Burlap Garlands

"Crafting your heart out makes room for your soul to grow."
-Sara Lanan,

For whatever reason, I've considered these burlap garlands to be the main event at my Crafternoon party. They didn't end up being the biggest or the most complex project of the afternoon, but I think these shabby chic garlands would look dandy in any home... as a festive Christmas banner or a year-round decoration.

To allow time for the paint and glue to dry, I suggested that my Crafternoon guests work on the burlap garland project early in the afternoon. We used long pieces of wax paper to keep the paint and glue from seeping through the fabric and to help transport the garland to the foyer or patio to dry.

Burlap Garlands
What you need:
  • Burlap fabric cut into triangles... here's a trick for cutting burlap in straight lines
  • Twine
  • Scissors
  • White fabric paint
  • Foam brushes
  • Letter stencils
  • Wax paper
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • [Optional] scraps of fabric or ribbon
What you do:
  1. Gather the correct number of burlap triangles, a sheet of wax paper long enough to stretch the length of the whole banner, and a length of twine long enough to extend past the ends of triangles.
  2. Hot glue the twine to the top of the burlap triangles, folding over the edge to help keep it in place.
  3. Place banner on a long sheet of wax paper before beginning to stencil. [The paper will catch the excess paint that goes through the holes in the burlap.]
  4. Place letter stencil in the center of the triangle. You’ll want to be careful with the parts of the stencil that are hanging on, especially as they get wet.
  5. Carefully dab (don’t rub) the paint around the stencil with a foam brush.
  6. Carefully remove stencil, and use foam brush to tidy up any areas, make paint darker, etc.
  7. [Optional] Tie scraps of fabric at each end.
**Suggested Words**
Family, Love, Joy, Be Merry, Last Name, Hope, Faith, Home, Mr & Mrs, J Loves R, Believe, Blessed, Rejoice, Welcome, Let’s Eat, Celebrate, Shine

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Christmas in "July" Crafternoon Recap!!

"What you create doesn’t have to be perfect."
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf

For over a year now, I've been pinning ideas related to crafting parties on my Craft-ernoon board. Saving ideas until I had enough local friends to invite over for a similar shindig.

I've been so blessed this last year to become close to gals both at church and at work. So on a whim a couple of months ago, I decided just to bite the bullet and send out a Facebook invitation for a Christmas in July Crafternoon get-together two weeks later. The response was really positive, but the date didn't work out. So after comparing our calendars, we moved it back... to Saturday, September 7th.

Since then I've had to push away my doubts about whether I was up for hosting such a big endeavor, but I'm so glad I took the leap and put myself out there. [Momentum at work!]

I've been scouring sales, digging through thrift stores, and hoarding craft store coupons to buy all of the supplies. Since I asked my guests to bring $10 to help cover the cost of supplies, my budget was $2 per person per project, and I think I got pretty close to meeting that goal (although I stopped keeping track towards the end).

I planned five stations with Christmas-themed crafts: three that could be given as gifts and two that could be used as Christmas wrapping. I hope to share more details about each project in the next few days. The project list:

Although I originally thought the party would last from 1-3pm... we ended up crafting for hours. The last guest left around 6!!

To keep us fueled for our crafting endeavor, I had a few snacks on hand, including turkey crescents, tortellini and pesto skewers, and yummy cupcakes. One of the highlights was the custom labels for the water bottles... what an easy way to take your party up a notch!

I think everyone had a great time. An afternoon away from husbands and kids to be crafty and creative. As I had hoped, some of the guests took the project ideas and made them their own. And, even the self-proclaimed "non-crafters" were super proud of their creations.

I hope that this becomes a tradition we want to continue... although maybe next time I can delegate the food prep and the hosting!!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Project Life... still going

“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” 
-Henry David Thoreau

I'm still at this Project Life thing, and have even caught back up... pretty much. I've been working a little bit each evening after work and exercise (and softball games). I'm hoping to get into a bit quicker routine, but I'm enjoying the act of creating.

I work with my Photoshop pages open, jumping back and forth between Illustrator for typographic and iconic illustrations. I've got my Evernote document close at hand with my notes that I've made throughout the week, as well as Pinterest in the background in case I need a spark of inspiration.

Few events throughout the weeks stick out as especially memory-worthy... such is the life of a married couple with full-time jobs and a pretty consistent evening routine. But, in truth, these are the moments I want to remember, the ones that slip my mind so easily... heck, I can hardly remember what I did yesterday, much less a year from now.

Week 4: July 8-14, 2013. The week of getting stuff done... Project Life, Crafternoon plans, practicing for softball.
Week 5: July 15-21, 2013. Another rainy summer week.
Week 6: July 22-28, 2013. A crazy week preparing for back to school.

How neat it will be to flip through a year's worth of these everyday memories!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Project Life... I've bitten the bullet...

"The album we've made is much more than a book. It's worth even more than the time that it took."
-Kimberly Rinehart

I have always said I was going to start Project Life when I found out I was pregnant, but last weekend on a whim, I decided “why wait?” This will be the perfect way to reflect upon my 30th year and to record our everyday life... before we leave our twenties and before we have little busy-bodies under foot.

Project Life digital title page: "Staying fine @ 29"

I love the idea of the physical Project Life album as a place to collect the paraphernalia of everyday life (ooo, pockets!!),  but I'm not so into the scraps and the mess (and the expense!). My plan is to go all digital, with the hopes of printing a 8"x10" Blurb book at the end of the year. I've created some templates in Photoshop and am often browsing my ever-growing collection of digital embellishments. Although I'm not afraid to tweak the files or just create my own illustrations and wordart when I can't find exactly what I want. My design style tends to be minimalistic with bold graphics (although sometimes I have to remind myself of this when I start to add too much stuff on the pages).

I've backed up a few weeks to start the project with my birthday week. Now all I can think about is how to make this new project fit my life and my style…  Each night this past week, I've worked for a few hours trying to get caught up. And, I'm getting close!

I'm hoping I can keep this momentum (and that I'll get quicker at putting the pages together!!) I've started an Evernote document to keep track of memories, quotes, and photos in real-time. I also marked the occasion by starting a new Pinterest board to collect inspiring design elements.

Week 1: June 15-21, 2013. It's birthday week!
Week 2: June 22-June 30, 2013. Our adventurous trip to Utah.
Week 3: July 1-July 7, 2013. A rainy and wet Fourth of July week.

I'm excited... can you tell?!?!?

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Sketch it out...

“When the creative impulse sweeps over you, grab it. You grab it and honor it and use it, because momentum is a rare gift.”
-Justina Chen Headley, North of Beautiful

The coolest birthday present I received this year... a Wacom Bamboo Connect tablet. As I tore off the wrapping paper and realized what was inside, I immediately knew exactly what my first project would be.

I've been following along with the One Little Word workshop prompts this year (and totally loving where it's guiding me, by the way!!), recording my thoughts and ideas in an Evernote document. However, I'm a little behind in the creation of actual album pages.

I have been stuck on the May prompt... not too enthused about the doodles that I've sketched on notepads at work. But with a tablet, a whole new world was opened.

On our rainy 4th of July, I spread out across the dining room table and got to work. Drawing and tweaking... drawing and nudging... drawing and twisting.

I'm totally tickled with the results and can't wait to print them out for my album.

To celebrate my first tablet project, I'm sharing my wordart with you. Download them here [right-click the image and save as]:


I'm also eager to use the tablet for other scrapbooking and design projects... any ideas? Do you know of any resources or sources for inspiration? Share with a sister!

Friday, July 05, 2013

Southern Utah 2013... Adventure on!!

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
-John Muir

We just returned from one of our bucket list trips! A week of adventures through Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. We braved the triple-digit temperatures, totaling over 65 miles of hiking and just under 20 miles cycling.

A quick recap:
Day 1 | Saturday: Flew into LAS. Drove to Zion National Park. Hiked the Watchman Trail.
Day 2 | Sunday: Hiked to Observation Point, Hidden Canyon, and Weeping Rock. Rode the Zion Shuttle to the viewpoints.
Day 3 | Monday: Hiked the Zion Narrows.
Day 4 | Tuesday: Hiked to Angels Landing and Emerald Pools.
Day 5 | Wednesday: Rode bikes through Zion Canyon and Springdale. Hiked to Canyon Overlook. Drove to Bryce Canyon National Park. Stopped at the overlooks on the auto tour.
Day 6 | Thursday: Hiked the Navajo/Queen's Garden/Peekaboo Loops and the Fairyland Trail.
Day 7 | Friday: Hiked to Lower Calf Creek Falls and through Willis Creek Slot Canyon in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Day 8 | Saturday: Drove through Cedar Breaks National Monument. Drove around St. George, UT. Flew home from LAS.

Favorite hike in Zion National Park:
J: 8-mile round-trip hike to Observation Point
R: Also, Observation Point

Favorite hike in Bryce Canyon National Park:
J: Peekaboo Loop
R: Navajo/Peekaboo Loops

Least favorite hike of the week:
J: Fairyland Loop
R: Zion Narrows

Favorite non-hiking activity of the week:
J: Flying down Zion Canyon Road on the bike
R: Riding roadbikes in Zion

Favorite meal of the week:
J: Carnitas flautas at Bit and Spur Restaurant and Saloon in Springdale, UT
R: Burger and sweet potato Smashfries from SmashBurger in St. George, UT... he planned our last vacation day around this meal

Best after-hike snack:
J: Coke and Pringles
R: Diet Coke and a nectarine

Favorite hiking gear:
J: The rented canyon shoes, neoprene socks, and hiking stick... don't know how we would have made it through the Narrows without them
R: A bandana filled with ice or drenched in water and wrapped around his neck

Most extreme temperatures:
J: The hot hot heat reflecting off the sand on the Fairyland Trail
R: The cold cold water of Lower Calf Creek Falls

Scariest moment of the trip:
J: Tripping and falling over rocks in the Zion Narrows, especially knowing that I had the dSLR camera in my daypack. I panicked while in the water, unable to get myself upright. Rob says I cried, but I don't remember that. But I did bring home nasty bruises and scrapes on my right calf as a souvenir.
R: The 2.5 minutes [sic] I was on Angels Landing... as well as trying to beat the storm on the unpaved Skutumpah road back from Willis Creek.

Biggest disappointment of the trip:
J: Realizing that we had only climbed half of Angels Landing... and knowing there was no way I would get Rob back out on that ledge 
R: Realizing that we could have biked further into the canyon because it was such a quick descent  

Proudest moment of the trip:
J: Every time Rob congratulated me on how well I was holding up to the hiking challenge... I think he was impressed.
R: Just knowing how many miles [upwards of 90!!] we did this week... in our multi-sport adventures

You can see more photos on Flickr:

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