handmade Christmas: 2012

After having our last party on Saturday, Christmas is officially done (once I take all of the decorations down tomorrow, it will be "official" official.) A glimpse at the handmade this year:

on the wall: font // deer silhouette
the annual gingerbread house party
hood cowl for my sister - modeled by Izzy: pattern
this collection becomes:
easy costume jewelry for my sister
nest pendant for my mom: tutorial
art display for my mom: inspired by
(the best part about this gift is that I was able to re-purpose a piece of the crib all three of my babies slept in...only my mom can appreciate the nostalgia factor this thing has)
reading pillows
one for my nephew + one for a dear friend's son: inspired by (I winged the pattern and added a velcro closure on the back)
built by my talented wood-working husband: one wooden 6 pack case w/ opener for my homebrewing step-dad
with accompanying customized bar towels by moi
and of course, the personalized stationery.

Christmas 2012. In the books.


Start Here Workshop winner

Congratulations, Melissa! You've won a spot in Lisa's Start Here Mini Workshop :)

I've forwarded your user name - you should be getting an email shortly.

Thanks to all who commented! I hope you'll all take the class - it really is wonderful!


mad today

The past week, I've been so sad trying to come to terms with what happened last Friday. I'm so torn between wanting to just stick my head in the sand with my eyes closed and my fingers in my ears shouting LA LA LA, I CAN'T HEAR YOU and immersing myself in the news to honor the victims the only way I really know how. I can't think about those horrific events for even a second without welling up.

Today I'm just mad.

Mad that two dumb ass sophomores at our local high school thought it would be funny to prank text their moms yesterday that their was a shooter in the school. That the high school went into lock down and dozens of law enforcement were dispatched. That rumors are rippling through the district about some student organized revolt tomorrow because of the Mayan calendar.

Mad that I got a call at 10 o'clock last night to let me know the last two days before holiday break are canceled county-wide thanks to these hilarious jokes. Because there aren't enough resources to investigate every bogus claim.

Mad is an understatement. I'm multi-expletive pissed.

Mad that I spent the majority of the day yesterday dying rice blue for a crafty activity in Zack's class.  And putting together treats for Izzy's classmates. And gifts for 5 teachers that I'm so indebted to. Teachers that shouldn't have to fear for their lives in an effort to educate our children. Mad that I was at the store at 9 last night buying cheese and crackers to put together a tray for Jake's party tomorrow.

Mad that I had to tell my kids this morning that their break was starting early. That I had to ruin their initial joy by telling them why.

Mad that an in-school evaluation we had scheduled this week for one of my kids won't happen for weeks now. Yeah, really, really mad.

So freaking mad that my kids have to grow up knowing about this stuff.

So I guess we'll get an early start on the snowflakes for Sandy Hook that I was planning to make as a holiday break project. And be unspeakably grateful for the fact that I have my three kids with me to cut paper into pretty shapes in the hope that it will bring one iota of joy to a community so thoroughly devastated.

And listen to Christmas music and make cookies and wrap gifts and hug my kids and and try to be glad instead of sad and mad.


custom notepad PDF winner

Congratulations, Candy!

You're the winner of the custom notecard PDF. Please email me to let me know what name you would like. And thanks to everyone for the kind words :)

And one more tip...I shared this photo on Instagram yesterday:

If you are binding multiple pads, just stack them up, glue them all together and then cut the individual pads apart with a sharp blade.


easy notepads

So, in case you haven't heard this story before, my dad has owned his own print shop for 30+ years. My love of paper and stationery and office supplies surely comes from that early and frequent exposure. One of my favorite presents as a kid were the personalized notepads he would make for birthdays and holidays..."from the desk of Erica Allen" in multi-colored 8.5x11" pads. Heaven. (And don't get me started on how much I ADORED those letraset tranfers decades before scrapbooking made them popular again!)

I decided to put together some personalized notepads for my kids/nieces/nephews for Christmas and thought I'd share an easy binding method in case you haven't seen it before. These would be great with some washi covered pencils...totally doing that.

After cutting paper to size, add a chipboard backing (the backing from paper or even cereal of other food packaging works great,) align top edge and hold together with binder clips.

Run a thin line of glue along the top edge - any white school glue works fine.
Smooth out the glue with a brush (or your finger, like I do.)
I let the first coat dry and then add a second before removing the clips.
Simple as that!
I'm giving away one personalized PDF file to a blog reader, a twitter follower an instagram follower so if you'd like a chance, be sure to leave me a comment! I'll choose winners tomorrow evening to give you plenty of time to print before the holiday (makes a perfect stocking stuffer!)


Start Here Mini Workshop giveaway

I'm so thrilled that Lisa asked me to be a part of her Start Here Workshop at Two Peas. And, I get to share the class with one of you! Just leave me a comment with your Two Peas user name for a chance to win. I'll select a winner on Friday the 21st for a nice early holiday gift for one of you :)

If you've already purchased the class, Two Peas will refund the purchase price so GO! Buy it now so you can enjoy it over the weekend!

And if you want more chances to win, pop over to Lisa's blog for a complete list of contributors who may or may not be giving away a spot as well ;)

"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." - Pablo Picasso 

Get a jump on inspiration with Start Here. In this workshop, Lisa Truesdell will give you the tools to turn almost any image into a jumping off point for your next layout. You'll learn to break down images into smaller elements and use them to inspire your page's color combo, design, or even new techniques. We'll talk about finding images you love and identifying what grabbed you about them, and how to put that inspiration to work! Lisa is joined by twelve talented contributors who will each be sharing a page based on one of Lisa's inspiration pieces, as well as their thoughts on finding starting points in unexpected places. 

Included in the workshop are 27 brand-new scrapbook pages (15 from Lisa and 12 from her contributors) showcasing a variety of interpretations of inspiration pieces, 3 printable PDFs and 3 brand new videos following Lisa as she makes a layout starting with an inspiration piece.

Lisa's talented contributors include Allison Waken, Ashley Calder, Becky Novacek, Doris Sander, Erica Hernandez, Emily Spahn, Kelly Noel, Kristina Nicolai-White, Laura Kurz, Lexi Bridges, Lisa Dickinson, and Marcy Penner

The content of this workshop will be available immediately upon purchase. The lessons are available for you to work at your own pace and upon purchase can be accessed in the "Workshops" section under "Classes & Events." A private message board forum is also available to ask questions for Lisa and to connect with other participants. Enjoy!


in preparation

I've never done a December Daily but so love checking out all of the projects I've seen over the years. This year, I'm going to try to do something. Not necessarily a December Daily but at the very least, a December Something. Just enough to document a handful of our traditions and some moments from our 2012 holiday season. I really want to keep things simple. The plan is to use Instagram to capture a moment each day - I use it far more than my regular camera (though that will get a good workout this month as well) and knowing I can count on a square format photo each day will help (potentially) work ahead a tiny bit.

A few days ago, I grabbed a few kits to work with. I'm done I tell ya - done! So all of you amazing designers, stop creating more stuff that I can't resist. I have a couple of things I've designed myself that I'll work in as well. Looking at it all here, it seems not quite as simple as I intended but if I use it judiciously, it'll work the way I have it planned in my head.
TOP: Nettio Designs Holiday Faves | Zoe Pearn A Lot Like Christmas | Paislee Press Press Cards No 18
BOTTOM: The Celebration Shop Tags (free!) | Three Paper Peonies My Life in Photos (free again!) | Micheline Martin Artsy Bits
Now to figure out what the heck I'm going to do for an advent calendar. I have two days, right? I could always do what I did last year...create a tree with small brown paper bags - perfect for dropping in small toys/candy/notes; paper circle garland and drawn on tree.

I really like to add a lot of extra stress to my life though so who knows what I'll end up with.


free tag printable

I saw these. And they're awesome. And it reminded me that I threw these together a few weeks ago so I could get ahead on wrapping holiday gifts. That hasn't happened but at least I can share with you all :)

Each one measures 2x3" and the file is a single letter sized png...just print and cut. Enjoy!


Halloween 2012: In the Books

Here that? That's the sound of holiday spirit going *pop, sizzle, fizzle, dud*

Honestly, I feel like I half-assed it this year. We went to the pumpkin patch, but didn't carve pumpkins. Costume elements were completed as needed...not like last year when I had everything done and ready to go two weeks ahead of time. I was busy throwing together lame class treats for Izzy 30 minutes before we left for school yesterday.

Pumpkin patch? Always my fall highlight. We lucked out with a warm(er) sunny day in the midst of a bunch of cold grey days.

There was hay jumping.
And "How Tall this Fall?"
Bunny love.
And bunny snacks.
The yearly attempt to herniate our children.
And glorious late afternoon light.
Glorious, glorious light.
BUT, this was the first year I didn't need to stay home to pass out candy and got to actually trick or treat with Carlos and kids. And despite the drizzly and cold weather, (I'm grateful that was the only minor effect Sandy had on us...still thinking of my friends that were hit immeasurably harder than we were) we had a fantastic time.

Two Castle Crashers (garbage can helmets and daddy-made and painted weapons. Bloody, natch. Bat costume idea swiped from here...rather than printing the mask though, I used it as a template and made the mask from felt. LOVE the idea of attaching it to a pair of sunglasses rather than tying it around her head!

The battle.
Total standoff.
Miss Izzy...that third frame is So. Totally. Her.
Sister in the lead. Trick or Treat!
Oh, and I started and finished a knitted mustache/beard combo for Carlos to wear about 2 hours before we hit the road.

Izzy, of course, needed to try it out.


That? That's the sound of my favorite holiday ushering itself in with the flipping of the calendar page. Welcome, November. Welcome, Thanksgiving. Phew.


12 Tags for Christmas Winner!

By random draw, the winner is

Congratulations! I know you will love the class. I hope the rest of you will go sign up as well...I know Nora has so much incredible stuff panned for you including more giveaways.

Thanks to Nora for letting me host this and congratulations Pinky! Please email me so I can get your info to Nora :)


a quick comparison

I know a lot of you print elements you've purchased or found around the web for your layouts and project life spreads so while printing some test prints of my latest kit, I thought I'd show a comparison of how they print on a couple of different paper options.

These cards are printed on the paper I typically use, Kodak Matte Photo Paper. It's just slightly lighter weight than the inexpensive white cardstock I buy in bulk to use for backgrounds and also, a touch more bright white.

Here is a comparison of the photo paper (left) and white cardstock (right.) The cardstock is perfectly serviceable but you can see that with the photo paper, the colors are more vibrant and the details a bit crisper. Obviously the sheet price is a little higher but for the quality, I think it's worth it.

So, if you're doing a lot of hybrid stuff in your crafting, try some test prints to see what works best for you!


12 Tags for Christmas giveaway

Of course you know Nora, right? She has such a knack for simple and lovely projects and organizing ideas and party planning and gift wrapping (that's just as wonderful as what's found inside.) Basically, she's just awesome. And, she's nice to boot! I'm thrilled to be able to offer a spot in her upcoming Christmas Tags class.

Interested? Of course you are! It starts on Monday, November 5th. You can find all of the details here. It's an absolute bargain for a full month of inspiring tag making and holiday planning. So go sign up.

One of you lucky readers will get the class for free! Just leave a comment and I'll choose a winner Wednesday night. It's that simple! And if you want to go ahead and sign up now (you know you do,) you'll get a refund or you can share the class with a friend if you're the lucky winner!

Now go forth. And be merry. Christmas is only 8 weeks away!


loving arrow fabric

Do you ever check out Spoonflower? Custom fabric printed with your own designs...I've been dying to try it for so long now and still haven't actually hit submit but I love browsing the designs available for purchase from other talented designers! They do a weekly design contest with specific themes and this weeks theme, arrows, is obviously a hot design element at the moment. There were so many fabulous entries this week that I thought I'd collect a few of my favorites here so I can go back and hopefully purchase some of them soon! Perhaps you'll enjoy some of them as well - I know a lot of you are exceptional seamstresses.


sharing a random freebie

...because I like to do that from time to time. I have so many projects that I've started and kind of lost the mojo to complete halfway through! This is a little set of journaling cards I created for Two Peas Facebook fans that was never used. Hope some of you can use them!

download here and enjoy!


quick tip for remembering download sources

There are so many amazing designers out there sharing their work and talent for free. It's important to recognize them when you use the beautiful things they create. You probably already have a method for cataloging your sources but I've finally discovered what works best for me and it's incredibly EASY so I thought I'd share.

This kit:

Beautiful, right? Can't wait to use it. So, I downloaded it from here. I know she has smartly included her web address on the preview but I wanted to keep track of the direct link to the actual post so after I downloaded the kit, I went to the post and clicked the little icon to the left of the web address,

dragged it over to the kit folder,

and released the mouse button. Boom. There is the link stored right with my download. This is especially helpful when the download is just a single image file with no identifying info as to the source.


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