Thursday, May 27, 2010

Luisenpark Field Trip

Recently I traveled with Jordan's class to Luisenpark, a beautiful city park located in

downtown Mannheim. The field trip was a bit of a nightmare as we waited outside in drizzly weather over two hours for our bus to show up and rode over an hour on the bus only to be

told by the two teachers in charge of the field trip that we would barely have an hour to explore the park before having to drive back to Ramstein. Not the best planned field trip I've ever been on but we had a good time for the short amount of time we were in the park. The majority of our time there was spent on the gondoletta, an inexpensive boat ride across the lake inside the park. As you ride you can see peacocks and storks roaming the park, the stork's nest, flamingos, pelicans, and we had enormous carp and a mama duck swim right up to us with her babies in tow.

Even with the park overcast and dreary, we still enjoyed the beauty of the park.

Once we got off the boat and began to make our way back, one of the park caretakers stopped my group and asked that we be careful going down the path as two geese were coming down the path with their babies. Sure enough, we got to watch the little family taking their babies for a stroll...or

a waddle, as the case may be! I made sure the boys stayed

back since the mama and daddy geese would attack if they felt their

babies were being threatened.

They didn't seem to mind us too much as they led their babies to

the water.

Aren't they adorable?!
Group photo near the penguin exhibit. Jordan on the way back, looking a little tired :)
Ryan decided to help him cheer up a bit! Jordan and I agreed that it

would be worth going back to the park when the weather improves,

especially since we missed seeing so much of the park. It would be the perfect place to spend an afternoon since there are so many places to picnic and play. I hope you enjoyed the photos of our latest adventure!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back in the Crafting Saddle Again

I can hardly believe that it has been over two months since my last posting. So much has happened in the past two and a half months, including the fact that today is the first time I've done any crafting since my last post. At the end of March I flew to California to help my family as my uncle required care during his recovery from open heart surgery. My uncle is the primary caregiver for my grandmother, who is in the latter stages of Alzheimer's Disease, and there was no way he could take care of himself and my grandmother at the same time so off to Fresno I went. My time there had its share of ups and downs but I will always be grateful for the time I was able to spend with family: my uncle, my grandma, my dad and step-mom, my in-laws, and my mom. It was the first time since the beginning of my marriage that I really got to spend a little time with my in-laws and that meant so much to me. And I will especially cherish the time I spent with my mom and the opportunity we had to draw closer through the circumstances that brought me to California. After three weeks, I flew back to Germany and it has been the usual whirlwind of activity since then but somehow I couldn't get myself back into the spirit of crafting. In a way, I think I've been a little depressed (skip ahead if you want to pass on my little pity party). My kids are growing up, with Jordan having just turned 10 and Alex about to finish up her junior year of high school which means discussing college and goals for her senior year. Joe has been coming and going quite a bit. My business has grown pretty quiet and for some reason, I couldn't bring myself to sit down and make anything or get things going again. But a ray of light came through the clouds last night as I spent some time talking with Joe. As a result, I gave myself a good talking to and this morning I finally sat down in my decrepit office chair and crafted. Ahhh, to have ink on my fingers, glitter on my pants, and a few projects finished...a little heaven on earth! I wish I could say I came up with some stunning project but I needed to make some thank you gifts for customers and friends so I opted to start small and get out project leftovers that needed to be finished, which is how I ended up with the project featured in the photos.
This charming little organizer box is a printable template called Filed with Flair, a template featured through Papertrey Ink. The template also comes with a base that fits three boxes side by side, which I will definitely have to make in the future. I had two or three printed templates leftover from a class I taught awhile back and thought this would be a good way for me to get back in the crafting groove.

I created six cards from previous card designs for inside the box, mostly with German sentiments since this is going to a German friend of mine. The color scheme is an unusual mix of Stampin' Up! neutrals: Kraft, Basic Gray, Going Gray, Basic Black, Sahara Sand, and Very Vanilla. The box is large enough to easily fit eight to ten cards with envelopes. I'd also like to design an acetate top to fit onto the top of the box since I think it would make it look more finished for gift giving.

This is just a single note card front which allows you to make four from one sheet of cardstock. Perfect for jotting down a quick note. The flower strip is made from a left over scrap of cardstock from another project. I love making the most of my scraps!

Here's the box packaged and ready to go, except I forgot to make a tag for it before I took the photo! As I said, it's not an earth-shatteringly stunning project but I enjoyed putting it together and it will still be a lovely gift. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cute and Quick Basket

I was cruising through Stampin' Connection yesterday, an awesome new resource for Stampin' Up! demonstrators and I found this adorable project posted by Patricia Giesbrecht. Patricia made the comment that it's made with only six strips of designer paper and included a link to a tutorial on YouTube (you ROCK, Patricia!). Surely it couldn't be THAT easy?! I ambled on over to check out the tutorial and made a sample in about five minutes! I love, love, love quick and cute projects, especially when it's something easy to demonstrate in a class or workshop.
How can you not love this cutie? Perfect for Easter and very sturdy once you add brads onto the handles. Check out to see a video tutorial for the basket. Have fun!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Scraptastic Class Samples

Over the past few weeks I've read a number of articles on how to re-purpose leftover crafting supplies and voila!...the birth of a new class: Scraptastic Card Class. With the number of classes and workshops I've offered over the past two years, my supply of scraps has built up to quite a formidable stash, one which I'm more than willing to whittle down to a manageable pile and I'm sure you'd like to do the same with your hoard of scraps (if you're a crafter, you know you have one!). Here's a few tips that should help to inspire a few projects and get rid of your scraps all at the same's a twofer!

Tip 1: Make Card Candy/Scrap Candy/Embellishments
Those bits of paper make great little embellishments, especially if you've got nifty designer paper leftover. Whip out your punches and dies to make assorted shapes, using them to make adorable little embellishments to keep on hand or give away. Add texture to the shapes by embossing, tipping with glitter, or stamping with a background stamp. In the above picture, I've mounted a few layered embellishments on a 6" x 6" piece of acetate and will give them in a gift with some simple 4" x 4" cards and envelopes. Perfect to tuck into an altered CD tin or acetate gift box. See the pleated accent at the top? It's just a strip of leftover cardstock scored and folded! Take it up a notch and stitch over it with your sewing machine. It's amazing what can be done with a smidgeon of imagination and scraps :)

Tip 2: Make collages or pattern strips from designer paper
Use your punches (squares, circles, etc.) to create pattern collages, as I did here with the four squares featured in the center of the card. This makes it easy to use scraps in the same color family, as well as coordinate other scrap pieces to use for layering. I had a large piece of leftover Kiwi Kiss cardstock that matched the designer paper. A scrap of white cardstock was embossed in a damask pattern to complement the designer paper, as well as a tiny piece of white used to make the coordinating tag.

Tip 3: Use scraps and punches to create unique borders
Inspired by a scrapbooking blog I follow, I punched 1 3/8" circles, scored the circles on each side, folded the scores down and then cut the circles in half to make this fabulous little border. Once the circles are cut, use Sticky Strip or Scor-Tape to adhere the half circles. I love the extra touch this border adds to my project.

Tip 4: Use small pieces to make tiny gift tags, buttons, and flowers
Don't limit your thinking to just paper...think buttons, ribbon, leftover pearls, and paper flowers. Using the Stampin' Up! Tiny Tags set and coordinating punch, I made ten coordinating gift tags to use with card fronts or on small gifts, like the card on the right. I tucked the tags into the little matchbox and used coordinating scraps to decorate the box. The butterfly accent on the box is a leftover piece of cardstock and a random button tied with leftover twine. Quick and cute!

The green flower accent is a 1 3/8" circle snipped all the way around. The button is a technique I learned at the European Stampin' Up! convention last November: punch 6 to 8 circles of designer paper or cardstock and layer together using Crystal Effects. Allow to dry, then punch holes using the Crop-A-Dile. Add thread, twine, or ribbon, and you've got a homemade paper button! Easy peasy! The "leaf" is a leftover piece of Certainly Celery twill tape folded over.

This card actually goes along with Tip 2, which is creating a patterned strip using designer paper.

Again, I used leftover cardstock to creat my own embellished flower. Once I cut out the flower, I colored the center of the flower with a coordinating ink, added Dazzling Diamonds glitter, and a few beads.
These projects are all very girlie, with lots of flowers and butterflies but you get the idea of ways you can use your scraps. I think I'll have to come back and do another one making masculine embellishments :) Here's some further helpful hints for using up your scraps:
*Remember: Thou shalt not make more scraps! If you're doing "Scraps Only" projects, try to only create card bases or boxes that will use the exact measurements of a regular sized piece of cardstock without making more scraps to do it. For example, you can cut 12" x 12" cardstock into 3" x 3", 4" x 4", 6" x 6", or 3" x 6" card bases so that you don't generate more scraps and you use the entire piece. Once you've created your card bases, then you can dig into your scraps to make embellishments.
*When creating projects, always look in your scraps first before cutting into another piece of paper.
*Organize your scraps: ribbons, diecuts, paper by color or color family, buttons, etc. Whatever method of organization works so that you can find what you need without having to dig for an hour looking for that button or ribbon scrap you know is in there somewhere.
*Keep your scraps out in the open or easily accessible: out of sight is out of mind so keep them where you can see them and be reminded of using them first. I have three glass jars on my craft desk with ribbon scraps, tags, and diecuts that I can see at a glance if there's anything I can use. It's amazing how often you'll find something you can use when you keep it in sight.
Thanks for hanging in to the very end! Now go reward yourself with some chocolate (or whatever you like) because you deserve it for reading all the way to the very bottom. I truly hope this has inspired you to look at your scraps in a whole new way. Happy crafting!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Designing on a Dime: Toilet Paper Tubes

Given the current global economic climate, I think most of us are on the lookout for quality but inexpensive gift giving ideas. Gift cards are an ideal gift but I want a unique gift card holder that shows that I took just a little bit of extra effort in presenting the gift card. Inspired by Julie Griffith's Toilet Paper Tube Album on Paper Jewels, I designed a Toilet Paper Tube Gift Card Holder.
With the amount of money we spend on toilet paper, why not get your full value for your money and use the leftover tube to make a special gift? This holder is quick, easy to mass produce, and economical. Simply flatten your toilet paper tube, then cut the long end down to 4" in length. This enables you to make 6 holder covers from one sheet of 12" x 12" paper and keeps the tube long enough to hold a gift card and mini card. (Each cover measures 4" x 6" and the designer paper strip is 3" x 6") You can create mini embellishments for the outside of the tube with sentiments for any occasion utilizing whatever paper scraps you may have on hand and the ribbon to tie the holder closed is actually inexpensive seam binding.

Here's a view of the holder with the mini card inserted

A view of the toilet paper tube on the interior. I found that Scor-Tape or SU! Sticky Strip are the best for adhering the paper to the toilet paper tube so that it remains securely fastened to the tube.

Another design, using a similar color scheme. The ribbon is vintage black seam binding, purchased from Mary Not Martha on Etsy. (Thanks to Suzi for the custom listing!)

I have been hard pressed to find masculine projects that I like so I came up with this gift card holder that could be used for Father's Day or a birthday. I love the fact that I could create both feminine and masculine gifts from the same pack of designer paper! I'm also working on some kid friendly holders using some of Jordan's robot paper and some fun teen-themed grunge paper from Basic Grey, which I'll post when those are finished. I hope this project inspires you to take a fresh look at your toilet paper tubes and create a unique and inexpensive gift.
Supplies: Toilet Paper Tubes (any brand...LOL), Close to my Heart retired Silhouette Designer Paper, Stampin' Up! Basic Black, Very Vanilla, and Kraft cardstock, Black Staz-On, Stampin' Up! Soft Suede and Basic Gray Classic Ink, Stampin' Up! Sanded, Well Scripted, and Oval All stamp sets, Scor-Tape, Stampin' Up! dimensionals, Close to my Heart paper flowers, Papertrey Ink twine and Vintage black buttons, Crop-A-Dile, MaryNotMartha vintage black seam binding, Martha Stewart champagne seam binding, Impress Rubber Stamps bolt brads, Stampin' Up! blender pen

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beautiful Card

As I mentioned in my last posting, we've had an unusual amount of extreme cold weather and snow this winter. We LOVE the snow and other than the shoveling getting tiresome after a bit, we enjoy the beauty of watching the snow fall and playing in it when the storm subsides. Last night we went for a walk and Jordan took great delight in throwing himself into the piles of snow built up beside each house from the neighbors shoveling. What does that have to do with this card, you ask? This past week I had a lovely group of ladies registered for my first Cards Only Club and it turned out to be a snow day so the classes were cancelled...boohoo! Since the ladies couldn't come to me, I thought I'd post one of the projects from the class so they could cry over what they missed (just kidding). CASE'd from a card on the Stampin' Up! demonstrators website, I tweaked this design in order to use product that I purchased in bulk some months ago and needed to use up before they collected any more dust. Have I mentioned that I have a tendency to hoard supplies? Definitely need to break that habit so my pocketbook will stop crying! I had some retired Stampin' Up! Baja Breeze cardstock that I finally decided to part with rather reluctantly but this group of ladies would have appreciated my sacrifice since it has been one of my favorite In Color releases to date. This design is very simple and perfect for a quick but pretty card that can easily be mass produced with different sentiments.
As Emeril Lagasse would say, I decided to "kick it up a notch" by adding a row of glitter at the base of some cards using a line of Scor-tape, as well as running the butterfly through my Xyron sticker maker to add a layer of adhesive and sprinkle lovely glitter over the surface. You can never have too much bling!

Here's a closer look at the glittered butterfly. Isn't it pretty?! The sticker maker adds a nice even layer of adhesive and once you add the glitter, it holds it without tons of glitter falling off nor do you have to wait for it to dry which is an added bonus. Not a bad project for a snow day!
Supplies: SU! Great Friend stamp set, Technique Tuesday Ali Edwards Limited Edition Beautiful stamp set, SU! Baja Breeze, Basic Gray, and Whisper White Cardstock, SU! Cameo Coral and Basic Gray classic ink, SU! Walk in the Park Designer paper, Versamark, Dimensionals, We R Memory Keepers Chomper, Xyron sticker maker, Martha Steward Fine Glitter, SU! white hardware grommet, Scor-tape, Scor-pal

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day Crafts and Snow

Happy almost Valentine's Day! Today's post is a long one, which means you might want to prepare yourself with your favorite beverage before plowing ahead. I've been a busy bee lately, crafting up a storm for Valentine's Day, classes, and volunteer gifts as well as offering a free class to 28 ladies at our annual Europe-Wide Ladies Retreat held last week. Thank goodness for friends who willingly stay up until 2 a.m. to cut cardstock and put course materials together or I would never have made it through (overflowing gratitude to Marilyn and Tasha) The unfortunate reality: I didn't take a single picture of the class or the projects I demonstrated! Sigh....these things happen but I could have kicked myself for not bringing my camera along. Back to the post at hand: the project shown above is from a box template available free on Lauren Meader's new business website and one which I made as a gift for my technique club attendees in January. I revamped the design for Valentine's Day and made 14 of these beauties for the wonderful ladies who volunteer with me at the high school student store.
The box template is the size and shape of a crayon box, perfect for dropping in Russell Stover's chocolate marshmallow hearts, or other yummy treats. The designer paper with the paper flower attached is actually a belly band that slides right off. I'm loving the new Stampin' Up! designer papers and embellishments in our current mini catalog!

Same paper set, now made into a card. I case'd this design from someone on Splitcoaststampers and I'm sorry to admit that I couldn't find the designer to give them credit. Whoever you are, thank you for a simple yet classy card design! I've really got to work on the lighting when I take my photos but sometimes it's better to take a bad picture and have something to post than no picture at all.

Jordan wanted to do goodie bags for his class for Valentine's Day but he wanted to do something unique. None of the suggestions I made seemed to appeal to him until we happened upon a project by Debbie Olson on Nichole Heady's blog that featured an airplane treat made out of a pack of gum and a matching tag. Several years ago we learned how to make candy airplanes at a Family Readiness Group meeting with Joe's unit and Jordan thought that would be the perfect "unique" treat for his class. I printed the font for the tag on Print Shop using a free Creating Keepsakes font called CK Alis Handwriting, then stamped and colored the airplane with Jordan's help. The airplane is from the retired Stampin' Up! set called Toy Box. The heart is punched from the Stampin' Up! Heart to Heart punch and leftover red cardstock scraps. I'm determined to work my way through my scraps!

Here's a close-up: Joe and Jordan ended up coloring in the airplanes for me so I could finish tying all the bags off with curling ribbon. I forgot to make room on the tag for a hole to put the ribbon through so I just attached the tag to the bag with mini Glue Dots.

A close-up of the airplane, made of one roll of Mentos, two unwrapped Lifesavers for wheels, a pack of Bubble Yum, and a rubber band to hold it all in place. We had a serious discussion on whether or not to cover the gum and mints with Valentine's Day paper but Jordan felt it would be too "girlie" and that some of the kids in his class might be "grossed out" by all the hearts and love if we got carried away. I guess girls still have cooties in the fourth grade :) The propeller was attached by pushing a paper piercer into the front of the mints to create a small hole and inserting a silver brad in to hold it. The propeller is also made from leftover red cardstock scraps and the Stampin' Up! Word Window punch. You can design a smaller version of the plane with small Doublemint or Juicy Fruit gum packs and long Tootsie Rolls for the body. Jordan will have to give these to his classmates next week since today ended up being a Snow Day and there's no school! I'm sure his classmates will enjoy them, even if they're received late.

Speaking of snow, we've had an unseasonable amount of snow this year, extremely unusual for the area of Germany we live in. You can see here that Jordan is enjoying the snow quite a bit!

"The Boys" decided to go outside and build snowmice instead of snowmen: they both play MouseHunt on Facebook and thought it would be cool to make a snowmouse representative of the mice on the game. Joe is the supposed grown-up on the right...hee, hee!
Thanks for hanging in there to the very end! I've got more projects and miscellaneous stuff to post but will spare you for the time being. Until next time....

Monday, January 4, 2010

Paper Flowers and a Happy New Year

Happy New Year! We've whizzed through Thanksgiving, Christmas, our 19th wedding anniversary, and the New Year in our house but things are finally settling back into some semblance of routine. The kids went back to school today, Joe was at work for the first full day in a few weeks, and I got to enjoy having the house all to myself. Don't get me wrong...I love having everyone home but I definitely enjoyed my "Mom" time today!

I hosted my monthly Technique club a couple of weeks ago and thought I'd finally get around to posting one of the techniques I learned from Monica Gale at the European Stampin' Up! Convention, the layered paper flower. Isn't this a pretty embellishment?? Granted, it's a bit "poofy" for mailing but it can easily be tucked into a gift bag or box if you aren't up to sending it in a padded mailer. The flower on this particular card is made from lunch bags! I always seem to have lots of disposable lunch bags for crafts since the kids take LL Bean lunch bags to school. I realize the card design has a "fall" look but I've been trying to go through the supplies I've got on hand and I just love this fall paper from SU!'s last mini catalog. Here's how to make the flower:
1. Using the Stampin' Up! Scallop Circle punch, punch 6 to 8 circles out of your paper of choice.
2. For lightweight papers such as tissue, Designer Series paper, or the lunch bags, crumple each of your circles up into a ball. For heavier cardstock, lightly mist the paper with water and then crumple so the fibers in the paper will break easier.
3. Open up each crumpled ball and layer all of the circles together, then punch a hole in the center using a Crop-A-Dile.
4. Insert a knotted ribbon or brad in the center to hold the layers together.
5. Fluff the layers up until you achieve the desired effect, as shown in the picture above. If needed, you can spritz more water on the flower to soften the layers so they'll crumple up easier. Leave the flower to dry for a few minutes if you've used water.
6. Add any embellishments such as leaves, buttons, felt circles, etc.
You can also visit Dawn McVey's blog if you want a step by step pictorial on how to make the flowers step by step. For a different look, try using different punch shapes like hearts or ovals. Thanks for stopping by to check out my latest card project! I hope you enjoyed the holidays and I wish you a blessed 2010.

Number of cows visiting my pasture...


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