Monday, 28 November 2011

Christmas cards

Hello there

Yes, Christmas. I have to say at the offset that Christmas isn't a favourite time of the year for me. There's too much emphasis on possessions which cost money and back in my single parent days, that wasn't something I had alot of; money. I also hate cold weather, so the winter doesn't rate highly with me anyway. I also think people start Christmas far too early, so by the time it actually arrives, alot of the 'magic' has gone. I do love it when it snows and people can make snowmen outside their homes. I also love carol concerts in Churches. I love midnight mass. I loved the Christingle services Maggie's primary school used to do - when they turned the lights off in the Church at the end of concert and all the kids were stood in the aisles with their candles lit on their oranges, it made me cry every time as they sang a traditional carol. I remember making paper chains with Maggie to decorate her room when she was much younger, much to her delight. I like Christmas cake but I always gave the marzipan to someone else as I can't stand it. Noone else likes it in this house now, so I don't bother getting one. The rest of it can pass me by really.

But before you go away thinking the worst of me as everyone is meant to love Christmas, one thing I have also enjoyed over the last few years has been the making of cards and the family calendar. I'm really old fashioned and I love receiving hand made cards and hand written letters, so I work on the premis that other people do too. Besides, I just love making them. It's alot of pressure in many ways as there's so many to be made in one time but that's some of the challenge. I've made some basic ones this weekend but I really enjoyed the process as things seem to just go my way i.e "that small piece of green mirri board is the perfect size for the tree I want on that card"; "the stamp I want to use fits exactly onto that circle I've just cut out" etc. For some of the cards, I used some papers I got from the Cardmaking & Papercraft magazine which my youngest sister subscribed to for me, for my birthday- thanks again Shell xx. I do get a peculiar buzz from using what others would call scraps of paper in a creative way.

None of these cards will win awards for creative expertise but I'm just sharing the joy I suppose. The joy of me making things. The joy of times when things go well. The joy of relaxing. The joy of getting lost in the experience.

Take care out there

Monday, 21 November 2011

Advent calendar

Hello there

Here are the stages I went through to make an advent calendar. I got the original idea from Sheila Weaver in her tutorial for the Joanna Sheen newsletter this month. I can't afford to buy the Nostalgia collection Christmas cd so I've had to make alot of it up myself, including the little pictures behind the doors.
I will direct you to the actual page on Joanna Sheen's page as I don't want to get into trouble for copying anything - Advent Calendar by Sheila Weaver. You will need to read that to make sense of my instructions and that link will help me for next year, if I want to improve on this year's effort. Here's my adaptation:
I used images about 1 inch square for the little images behind the doors; I got them from C.A and paper stock. I then laid them out fairly randomly on the A section of the 3 section layout and took a photocopy of it; so that I could cut the doors out of that as a template to create the doors on the main picture.

As per Sheila's instructions, put foam tape inbetween the pictures; randomly again is fine as it's purely needed to raise the main picture away from the small icons. I used the template to place over the main picture and I used a clear star gellyroll pen to mark around the 3 edges of each door onto the main picture - see below:

The reason I suggest a nice pen like the clear star is because you can still see it on the finished item. Use a craft knife to cut along the lines, obviously remembering only to cut the three sides on the right. I then used my Cricut and Plantin School book (PSB) cartridge to cut the numbers for the doors- 3/4inch size. I had to use Lyrical letters for the 4's though as the card stock I was using was quite thick and fibrous and the PSB design 4's kept breaking. Glue them on randomly then glue the main picture over the base with the icons on it. I would suggest using card for this main picture, as the paper I used makes the doors rather flimsy.

Now for the inside of this advent calendar where the goodies will be stashed. It's a different design with this  calendar to the 'norm', as you reveal the picture under the doors on the front and then you go to the inside to find the correct little box to get to the chocolate- just think of all those extra calories you're burning off with the extra effort, so you can have more chocolates later as well!   The little boxes seem difficult but they're definitely not - I even measured 1cm for the flap to tuck in on the first one I made- that's excessive to say the least as all you need to do is cut off the pointed end of that top section, so that there isn't too much to tuck under; I just made sure it was wide enough for my tape runner to dash over it before tucking it in. I'm going to put a photo of some of the papers I used as I like them and I created the one with the deer, house, robin on the bottom of the photo (with C.A) and I rather like it.

I also glued down at least one of the flaps that come into the centre, as at the time of typing this, I'm not sure that I'm going to bother putting matching images onto the front of each box as I like the papers themselves and the top white section of the box will have a number on it anyway. I decided that the two inner pages looked far too bleak just white, so I printed off two backgrounds from C.A and glued them in. Place the little envelopes three in a row of four rows and glue them down and then put the numbers on; either peel-offs or handwritten. Do it in that order as they do need to overlap a bit, so if you put the numbers on first, they might end up getting covered up.

I decided to put pictures on the  back too as I may well end up putting it in the lounge room window, so at least walkers-by can see Christmassy things too.I created these with C.A. Mounting them on mirri board also acts as extra support for the whole thing.

Take care out there

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Hello there

Just a quick post to show how I ended up using a card I made not long ago in a craft class. I'm sending it to the owner of the cottage we stayed at in Northumberland ,as this week he sent me the pyjamas which Maggie had left there. I can't begin to describe how we made the card but it was made using Stampin' Up products and Helen taught me the technique, so please do visit  Helen's blog for an explanation on the split negative technique.

I made the envelope with the help of MyCraftStudio cd-roms 'Fab Glam 50's'  and 'Flourishes', as I knew I wanted a scrolly monochromatic look and to use my Ultimate Pro to make it, I would need a 12x12 paper to start off with and I haven't got a paper of that size in that style. I chose the paper first and because the paper is so busy, I had to also do the interim measure of choosing a dark, plain coloured background and place it on top of the swirls but behind the template, as the template is transparent until placed over coloured paper and that just made it so much easier to see it, in order to  adapt the C6 envelope template to fit the 6in x5in size of this card. Don't forget to delete the blue layer before you print, cut, score and glue and off you go.

Take care out there

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Concert banner

Hello there

I'm rather excited at the fact that I'm going to the Children in Need Manchester Rocks concert tomorrow night with my daughter and my mum. There's a host of stars appearing including Michael Buble, whom I've tried to see several times, especially with an old friend Sue but it always seemed to be sold out by the time I saw anything about it. I only found out about the concert last week as I got an email from Ticketmaster saying that there were still some tickets available, so I had to make a very fast decision to buy two. Later on, after talking to mum I managed to book her a seat on the same block and row as us. We can only hope that people won't mind moving along one seat, so that she can sit by us. Maggie's keen to see JLS despite the fact that she's seen them before. I'm not sure why mum said she was keen to see Lady Gaga (I'm dreading it)?!!

Anyway, to get into the fun of it all, I've made a banner for us to hold up when we're there. Unfortunately I haven't got any fusible web to cut the letters out on my Cricut, so I had to hand draw the letters and cut them out and then sew them on, which has taken me two and a half hours, which is far too long considering the use the banner will get. I had other things to do in that time but it's still far longer than I would've liked. I really could do with a machine that can do freehand embroidery as that would've made going round the letters, so much quicker.

Let's hope he sees it and blows me a kiss!!

Take care out there

Monday, 14 November 2011

I'm not a happy bunny

Hello there

Monday mornings when it's damp and grey and has been for days and the dogs have chewed and dug their way through a few things are quite trialling. I needed a break from the chores of clearing up after them, so I made this card for my step-dad whose birthday it is this Thursday 17th November. It was made using the 'You're never too old' cd-rom with artwork by Sue Janson. She's Australian, so the slant is wrong really but I like a few of the elements and pictures in there for the more mature of my card recipients, so I bought it in February at the Manchester Craft fair at the G-Mex or whatever they're calling it now.

It was so quick to do, even the design just seemed to happen for me which is just as well, because I would've lost my rag completely if it hadn't. It has made my morning and I'm now feeling alot calmer with myself and relieved that I can get it in the post this afternoon.

I'm off to meet Jenny now as she has two cocker spaniels too, so we're going to compare nightmare stories about them whilst we go on a long walk. It's not raining, so long may that last.

Take care out there

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

What a day!

Hello there

Oh yes, what a day indeed! My first big news is that my Expression now works, courtesy of assistance from Cricut who suggested downloading Design Studio and updating my Expression's firmware from there and it all went tickety boo i.e went well. As a result I've also made two cards using the free cartridge on the Cricut craftroom software which was revealed to me by Melanie from Everyday Cricut. The card she displayed was the inspiration for these two.
The card on the left, I created the backing paper myself with the help of CraftArtist; I'm afraid I'm rubbish at remembering which digikit the items came from. I also created the green banner on CA but it was just a rectangle shape as I couldn't find the shape I wanted, so I just cut the triangle out of the end - I've left the right hand side loose so that it adds a tiny bit of 'life' to it. Please see Melanie's post for cutting sizes of the topper. The card on the right has backing paper I got from a magazine which I thought was just the job. The trees could possibly do with some bling to look like decorations but that's for another day as I'm shattered now.

My second big news is (I must stay awake to tell you this) that just tonight, I've booked for myself, my daughter and my mum to go to the Children in need concert in the MEN arena on November 17th. I wasn't expecting it at all, I just got an email from Ticketmaster around 6p.m and it sounded brilliant so I went for it. It has loads of stars appearing but the headliner for me will be Michael Buble, whom I've been dying to see for years but keep missing out on tickets. Maggie's keen to see JLS despite the fact that she's seen them before - "oh but mum, they've had at least two new albums since then!" - silly me for not knowing that. My mum will just love the whole thing as I'm sure we all will. It'll  be a brilliant family event and I can't wait! I'm a very lucky girl.

Take care out there

Monday, 7 November 2011

I need sandpaper!

Hello there

I've had a delivery (well, that's half a truth, as I was out when they tried to deliver it last week, so I've just been to the depot to collect it) and I'm rather excited. Look, look!!

I've finally got my hands on some of this infamous paper. Crafter's Companion had a special deal on for their birthday. The Kraft Core paper pack was free and I got a little Humphrey's Corner stamp collection free too; which has a nice 'handmade with love' stamp in there which I might use.

I now need to find some sandpaper and get my embossing folders out and try these babies out. If only my blinkin' Cricut expression was working, then I could cut something straight away. Unfortunately on that note, I still haven't had a reply about another question I asked them, about the firmware update instructions they sent me. That's very upsetting/annoying but I'll use this little high of the paper arriving to cheer me up.

Let's hope I can create something nice with this. Non-Crafters won't understand how I can get excited about paper but it's the potential it holds for making good stuff that excites me. I've always loved colour and I think my crafting enjoyment stems alot from that.

Anyway, take care out there


Hello there

Yes, the male of the species rears it's head again, as a friend of mine has a son who turns 18 this week. The thought of making a card for that age and genre would normally fill me with dread  but since Alex was 18 last year, I'm on the ball! I've used the same layout as I did for Alex's card but used slightly different embellishments. This time I've used my tiny bubbles embossing folder on the beer froth, which I really think helps bring the beer glasses alive. I've also used a banner I found on the 'Stars' digikit from Craft Artist. I didn't have any troubles with the envelope with this card as it's a simple A5 design - I use my Ultimate Pro for making 90% of my envelopes. The beer glasses background paper comes from a digikit I bought on 'printable heaven' called 'one for the boys'.

He's a lad, so probably won't look at it for longer than 10 seconds but I feel good about it and hopefully his mum will keep his cards for a few years, so that he can look back and remember the people who sent them to him, when he's old i.e 25!!

Take care out there

Friday, 4 November 2011

Solutions are amazing things!

Hello there

You'll be glad to hear that I've recovered from my midweek crisis and not only did I get that card sent off with the present, hopefully in time but it has also prompted me to go one step further in the search for an envelope template for a 20cm/8in card. I've made my own! It's not rocket science but maybe somebody out there, one day, will be in the same boat as I found myself and they'll do an internet search and there my little blog might show up to help. I need this template for a card my daughter needs to give to a friend tomorrow, so I'm extra chuffed that I worked it out in time for that large card. I know they're a bind but I do like the square cards.
Firstly, here's the template:

You'll probably need to click on the photo to see it in more detail and see the measurements I've put on there. I started off with a piece of A3 paper and then did the flap section on it's own. You could always change the shape of the flap to suit your taste. Before I took the photo I forgot to mark the score line across the flap but hopefully that'll be pretty obvious once you've got this far, as will the fact that you glue the flap onto the inside of the lower part of the envelope.

The card I've done for Maggie's friend is my first Tinkering with Steampunk, courtesy of a MyCraftStudio cd-rom I got recently. I love the querkiness of Steampunk. This card is prettty tame in Steampunk terms. I made a couple of mistakes with laying it out as I forgot to cut out a section of the gramophone and I used the wrong frame stamp (the correct one is another one in the Stampin' Up Vintage labels set I won at Helen's crafting class). I like the way the bird and the gramophone stand out due to colour contrast and raised by Pinflair glue.

The finishing touches
Right, I'm off for dinner and to make the envelope for the card.

Take care out there

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Hello there

Yes, I feel it's a crisis when in the last couple of weeks, my Gypsy has broken beyond repair or replacement as Cricut won't touch it with a barge pole because I didn't  buy it from Ideal World. I then downloaded a new software from Cricut called Classroom which gives you all the functionality of the Gypsy, without the portability which wasn't any use to me anyway. Last night, that said that my Expression needed a firmware update and (cut a long story short and hopefully less boring) now I have an Expression which doesn't work. These tools have been at the forefront of my creativity for 18 months and I'm now feeling rather uptight and stressed, frustrated, annoyed and many more things besides. I was on holiday last week, so I didn't 'craft' at all and this week I haven't done a thing besides try to work the Cricut issues out and I'm craft starved and it's driving me insane!!! Grrrr

Ok, after taking a calming breath, I will continue. I have so many birthdays this month and Christmas of course and I'm feeling way behind. Just quarter of an hour ago I decided that I had to do something, so I got some magazines out and just made two little very basic 'paper' cards as I call them to try to make me feel a bit better. I do, although the cards will only go to Maggie's friends who don't care about cards really. The only vaguely interesting thing I did was spray 'Spray and Sparkle' glitter on the sentiment tags.

I now also feel a tiny bit  better because I've found out that Maggie's brand new 'made by me' pyjama bottoms were found at the cottage where we stayed last week and he's going to post them back. Big relief although they're not fancy pyjamas but it's all part of me feeling useless and if they had been lost for good, then I'd be depressed that my efforts are all coming to nothing.

The card below is one I made a few weeks ago for my step-daughter's son's first birthday. I've had so much hassle trying to work out how to make a 8in/20cm square envelope and all the Cricut nonsense that I still haven't sent it and his birthday is on November 10th and he lives in N.Z. I also like to make the interior nice but even my software items (seeing as I can't do anything with my Cricut!!!!) are causing me bother but I think that's because I'm getting too wrapped up in it all and not concentrating properly.

Thanks Melyssa Connolly for the inspiration anyway in the Cricut magazine but boy will I be relieved when this card is sent.

Right, off I go to take the dogs for a short romp before I get my hair cut and basically on with the day.

If you've managed to read through all these 'mutterings' of mine; thanks.

Take care out there.
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