Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my friends & blog readers! As has become an annual tradition, please enjoy one of my very favorite groups, Straight No Chaser. I was so lucky to see them live as a student at IU, and I love that they are now becoming famous! They always have some great Christmas videos - here is my pick for 2009.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's A Digital Christmas

I used Photoshop and my printer to print most of my Christmas cards this year. I'm having loads of fun playing with some of the House of 3 digital Christmas elements in making all sorts of fun projects. The first one I'll show you is a Christmas image that prints at 5 x 7, I've been able to "print on demand" when I've found myself needing a few extra quick cards this year. I just print and slap it in an envelope.

The second are some photo tags I made using the House of 3 message brushes. I sized them in Photoshop so they would be super easy to cut using my 1 3/4" circle punch. Now that I know how easy this is, I'm planning to start designing more printable images that work with our favorite punches. And you see those faint horizontal lines on the tags? Yea, I did that on purpose. (Not really, my printer sucks y'all).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Disney Parks Parade Taping Videos

Disney put up a really neat tilt-shift video of the filming of the Disney Parks Christmas Parade taping. We were there for the Steve Rushton, Kelly Ripa & Yanni portions of the taping. Enjoy!

CHA 2010 Sneak Peeks - New Die-Cutting Machines

Hey readers - it's that time again. CHA Winter 2010 begins in a few weeks out in California, and I'm looking forward to collecting updates on all the new papercrafting tools, especially die-cutting systems, stamps and dies.

So far there are two new products I want to point out - Tim Holtz Alternations, a collaboration with Sizzix & the Sizzix eClips - which seems to be a digital device of some variety. The Tim Holtz/Sizzix product line is going to include a new machine as well as dies.

 I'm wondering if this will just be another branded version of the Big Shot, or a totally new style of machine? The sneak peek pic of the eClips makes it nearly impossible to tell what it's meant to be. It sort of looks like a Gypsy, but that would mean Sizzix would need a digital die-cutting machine as well.  Again, more questions than answers. BTW - what ever happened to the Big Shot Pro? :)

No pics yet - but something to think about.

For more on die-cutting machines and how they work, please visit my Die-Cutting Tutorial, which explains the current variety of available machines. 

And check out my past posts on CHA here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cricut Projects

Here's a few pics of some Cricut projects I've been working on, including vinyl on ceramic tiles and freezer paper t-shirts. The monogram on the tile is from The tiles were $.54 at Lowe's. The t-shirt designs use fonts and images I downloaded from the internet and cut with Sure Cuts-A-Lot (SCAL).

Olivia's shirt. I wanted to do an outline image, but she decided to do multiple paint colors and it just didn't turn out very well, but you can see what the freezer paper looks like anyway.

A t-shirt for a boy. The font is "Stencil" which I think is on most computers and is wonderful for stenciling and t-shirt painting because there are no little pieces. No wonder the military uses it. The tank is from a dingbat font of WWII tanks.

The kids, very happy with their shirts!

I love these tiles. I've seen a number of people do these in the blogosphere and decided to give it a try. It was incredibly easy and a very economical project. The tiles were about 54-cents, and the vinyl is the black Cricut vinyl. The monogram alphabet was $4.95 at I haven't sealed the vinyl at all, I just applied it directly and am leaving it alone. I have to deliver these tomorrow so I'm not going to mess with them. But I will experiment some more with other tiles and will try some sort of lacquer. Does anyone have any suggestions for sealing products that won't give me cancer?

Friday, December 18, 2009

My House of 3 Christmas Cards

Stupidly, I mailed all my Christmas cards without taking a picture. That's a serious blogger offense, and for that, I apologize. However, this year I mixed it up - and used some House of 3 digital products to put them together this year. So, I can least show you the main portion of the card. I did something very similar with last year's Teacher cards, check it out.

I printed out this image below 4-up on some 8.5x11 heavy white cardstock, and cut out. I then slapped it on some kraft cardstock, on which I had also printed our holiday greeting on the inside.

All the layout was done in Adobe Photoshop.

Monday, December 14, 2009

L Lifestyle Letterpress Giveaway

Quickutz/Lifestyle Crafts is giving away one of their whole new L Letterpress set-ups, including the Epic Six die-cutting machine and everything else. I've been wanting one of these ever since I first read about it at CHA, so if you'd like a chance head on over to their blog and check out the contest!

Monday, December 7, 2009

2009 Disney Parks Christmas Parade Taping

Yanni preparing for the taping

For many years I've watched the Disney Christmas parade on TV, and always thought it would be fun to go on Christmas Day and see the parade! It really wasn't until recently that I learned that the parade itself is actually filmed several weeks prior to Christmas. Knowing this, I've been paying attention to Disney-themed blogs and tweets, looking for tips on how to get into the filming.

If you already have some sort of ticket (annual pass, etc), then it's just a matter of learning when the filming days are. However, keep your eyes open, because once filming passes become available, you might be able to get in for special filming events. The filming e-tickets also include free park admission and free parking, which turned out to be a great deal for us. We attended the tapings on Thursday, December 3rd and Sunday, December 6th. Although we had special e-tickets for the Thursday event, we found that anyone in the park could participate in the taping. The same was true on Sunday.

You will not usually have any idea who you are going to see. A few days prior to filming, we learned that Celine Dion and Kris Allen would be performing, as well as possibly Miley Cyrus. We also learned that Jonas Bros. were definitely NOT perforing. As it turned out, this was not accurate. Although Celine did perform, it was on a different day and venue due to rain. Miley Cyrus didn't perform at all, and the Jonas Brothers did in fact show up on Sunday. So you never know!

On Thursday we were able to see the Yanni Voices performance and promos taped by Nick Cannon. Kris Allen (American Idol) also performed that day but we were exhausted from watching the Yanni taping and had decided to take a break and missed Kris Allen completely.

The Yanni Voices performace was great. They performed one song, "Oh Holy Night." Their arrangement of this song was wonderful. I've heard so many versions of "Oh Holy Night," and theirs is my new favorite. It's available on iTunes, so go get it y'all!

I also learned that these performances are NOT lip-synched. We watched various performers over two days of taping, and nothing was lip synched. I've always wondered about that, and now I know. 

Sunday we went back for a second round of taping, and saw Kelly Ripa, the float portions of the parade, Steve Rushton & the Santa Buddies, and the Stryker Dance team. Stupidly, I left my camera battery in the car, and after recovering from that boneheaded mistake I decided just to buy a disposable. If you've been to Disney, you know that retrieving something from your vehicle is likely to take an hour and a half, so I decided to be safe and just purchase the disposable. Unfortunately, the quality and quantity of the photographs I took is seriously diminished, but at least I have some record of the events.

If you decide to go next year, take note of my tips below:
  •  Filming tends to run late-November/early-December. Subscribe to your favorite blogs, and check out the production company website.
  • Be flexible. Weather and talent often cause schedule changes. We attended Thursday hoping to catch Celine Dion and Jonas, but it turns out they weren't performing until Friday (later rescheduled again). We watched the Yanni Voices, and ended up LOVING it! 
  • Ask questions. Cast members have daily schedules in their pocket and will do their best to answer your questions about where and when to see various acts. Not all CMs have the same level of information, so don't hesitate to ask another CM if your not getting the info you need.
  • Take snacks and drinks for children. It can be very long and boring for them, and honestly most of them just aren't that excited about being on TV. (Olivia wasn't - so it was hard to keep her motivated to be patient).
  • Don't wear SpongeBob, Spiderman or other characters that aren't Disney-related. You just won't get on TV, no matter how cute you are. 
  • Don't look at the camera, ever.

Nathan Pacheco (Yanni Voices) Performing "Oh Holy Night"

Ender Thomas & Leslie Mills (Yanni Voices) before taping. How cute is he? Seriously. My daughter has a serious crush now.

Yanni Voices during their performance. High-class, clean performers. Very enjoyable.

Longtime Disney Parks entertainer Billy Flanagan. He was so funny, the perfect host. Provided great directions to the crowd and served as a stand-in for the talent during the crowd shots.

My children with Billy, as you can see, Olivia is done with this whole thing.

The "truck" (aka director)

Preparing for next shot with Yanni.

My pics of Nick Cannon are terrible. I was shooting directly into the sun. 

Seeing what the shots actually look like on the monitor

This is from Sunday, Steve Rushton performs on top of the Main Street Cinema.

Another pic of Steve Rushton and the dancers

Final "take" of the Santa Buddies shot. Confetti only goes off during the last take. In between takes, the street cleaners come out and clean all debris.

The  dancers were incredible. The young lady front and center is from Mississippi, probably has a career as an entertainer!

Olivia enjoying the Santa Buddies (in the background being held by their trainers)

The Club Disney Penguins. I giggled when the director kept shouting at them to face forward!

Kelly Ripa!

Alice & Billy Flanagan

Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade Performers

The Santa Buddies (so cute, it's unbelievable)

All the production equipment on Main Street

    For more pics please visit my Flickr Photostream.

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Dear Prima...

    Please pick me. I love it. I'm even advertising for you on my blog, for free! How about that?

    PS Blog readers - thank you for patiently dealing with my shameless attempt to win Prima blog candy. :) 

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Operation Write Home: Veteran's Day Blog Hop

    Operation Write Home (OWH) is an organization that coordinates the efforts of cardmakers all over the country in supplying our troops overseas with handmade cards that these heroes can send to their loved ones back home.  I've been a big fan since I became aware of them during the last blog hop, and I'm so excited that to be participating in the Veteran's Day Blog Hop! For more information on OWH, and to learn how to send your own cards, please visit their very comprehensive site.

    If you need to go back to the beginning of the hop - click here to get started. Make sure you stop back here! :)

    My grandfather Bruce was a veteran of World War II, serving as a pilot in the US Army-Air Corps. He flew over China, India and all through Europe. One of his planes malfunctioned while flying over Burma, and he was forced to parachute from his plane. Just before landing, his parachute was caught in some tree limbs, leaving him hanging in the trees. This proved to be quite lucky, as some tigers below circled him for several hours before help arrived. He went on to be a mechanic for Eastern Airlines, after declining an offer to become a mechanic for Air Force One. After retiring, he became an avid cardmaker himself! His specialty was calligraphy, and he made gorgeous cards that were sent to family and friends. Because he actually gave away most of what he made, I have very few examples - but I love that we have this in common.

    Take a look at my post from yesterday, with some pics of the Veteran's Day celebration we attended at Florida National Cemetary. My grandmother and grandfather were interred here in September.

    Here are my two cards, a simple thank you for my AnyHero card, and a fun little Valentine for a hero to send home! My photography seems to be getting worse and worse, rather than better - sorry about the pics. The thank you card uses a little Studio G Christmas wreath stamp that I colored blue and red Smooch -- making it a patriotic/thank you/Christmas card, LOL!  The froggy set in the second card is a retired Stampin' Up! set. All papers are Sassafras Lass.

    NEXT STOP: Anita at

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Happy Veteran's Day!

    Hello to all of you! I'm busy today working on my OWH blog hop cards - but here are a few pics from our visit to Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida yesterday.

    PS OWH blog hoppers - make sure you read both the emails sent :)

    Friday, October 30, 2009

    Breast Cancer Awareness Blog Hop(e)

    Sometimes I hear people say that the internet is impersonal. I say that's baloney. Especially, on a day like today, when we have a chance to come together in unified spirit in support of breast cancer awareness.  What a great opportunity to share projects with other crafters around the country for a common purpose!

    Hopefully you're not lost, and are enjoying going through Michelle's wonderful Breast Cancer Awareness Blog Hop(e). If you need to go back to the beginning, please start here. My card was made with memories of my grandmother May, and our dear family friend, Mary Lou, both who have fought breast cancer. Mary Lou died of it last summer after fighting for almost 10 years. My grandmother died of regular little old lady causes in September after being a SURVIVOR for over 25 years. Her picture is below.

    My card is made using Papertrey Ink stamps, paper and ink - with a little ribbon that I received from some sweet Zeta Tau Alpha sorority members who were passing these out at a hockey game (of all things) that we recently attended. I knew exactly what I was going to do with it!

    To friends and visitors who are struggling with cancer, other health issues, financial issues, and the other curveballs life throws at us - please hold on to those little sparks of hope. Sometimes they are very dim, and lurking in the darkest places. I encourage you to find it and hold on tight. I've been doing this a lot of this recently. We've had several friends and family die or become very ill this year, not to mention my own recent scare with Olivia. Things are tough, but we are enjoying every day to the fullest.  Hang in there!

    Next Stop: Vickie Y - -
    I had a chance to visit her blog today and it's AWESOME!!!

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Amy Butler Love:I Love It!

    I really am "sewcrazy." (Blog title, duh) And if you read yesterday's vent you'll know that I've been thinking a lot about how I spend my time. I love crafts of any and every variety. Especially sewing and fabric. I've set it aside for the past couple of years as I finished graduate school and tried to take care of some things at home though. I had to leave my beloved sewing machine & tools in Indiana, which I'll be getting out of storage as soon as I possibly can. Believe me, once that happens I'll be sewing up a storm again!

    In school, I was lucky to have two friends that were as obsessed with fabric as I was (xoxoxo Jenny & Rachel). We even had a blog! We'd spend the hours of constitutional law IMing each other links to various fabric sites. And I didn't really understand why law school required students to have laptops until then, it's really the only way to overcome the sheer mind-numbing boredom of the commerce clause without shooting myself in the foot.

    So I was super excited today to come across the newest fabrics from Amy Butler. It's to-die-for gorgeous. Not only are her fabrics incredible, the patterns are great as well. Click here and here and here to see some older projects I made using Amy Butler.

    And speaking of fabric love, check out the great Halloween projects (sewing & papercrafts!) from Heather Bailey and other bloggers this week.

    I hope you're week is going well, and that you are inspired to revisit the activities you are passionate about as well!

    Thursday, October 8, 2009

    Glow In The Dark Freezer Paper T-Shirt

    Another freezer paper t-shirt made using Sure Cuts a Lot (SCAL) and my Cricut Expression. The font is Halloween Regular, available for free here.

    I used the only glow-in-the-dark fabric paint I could find at Michael's, Tulip Dimensional Glow in Natural Glow. I probably could have used regular glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint, but I really love the texture of these Duncan fabric paints, and it was pretty much a sure thing. The only issue I foresaw was that the paint was labeled "dimensional," so I didn't know how it would out spread thin as I would have to do it to fill in the stencil.

    After a little experimenting with applying the glow paint directly to the black t-shirt, I realized that the paint would have to be applied over white paint (over other light color) to work. So, I went ahead and painted in some white fabric paint, and allowed that to dry for about 8 hours. I then added a layer of the glow paint. I'm guessing the glow paint wouldn't need to be over a white layer if I had used it as a dimensional paint. However, because I needed to be able to spread it thin to fill in all the stencilled areas, painting it over white really seemed to do the trick. After drying, I removed the freezer paper stencil - and, voila! A custom glow in the dark t-shirt! And yes, it really did glow - I tested it out in the closet. :)

    I might add a glittery pumpkin or witch hat to the shirt. These are so fun and the kids really love them!

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    Cricut T-Shirts Made with Freezer Paper Stencils - Tips and Questions

    One of my very favorite things that I've done with my Cricut Expression since I got it is using it to cut stencils for t-shirt painting. The shirt on the left is an example of one I recently finished. (My daughter's BF is on the school's cross country running team.) I've made several so far and learn something new each time I do it. I still have lots of questions though (below), can anyone help?

    The Basic Steps:
    1) Cut out your design using your Cricut onto freezer paper.
    2) Iron freezer paper to t-shirt.
    3) Paint shirt.
    4) Let dry, remove stencil.

    That's it! Of course, I've learned several things along the way. Here are some my tips so far. If anyone has any tips, please let me know. I've also found several blog posts and videos which are inspiring and informative, and I'll share those links as well.

    My tips:

    • Double and triple-check your design before you cut. If you have text you need to make sure your words are flipped because you cut your design on the wrong side of the freezer paper. 
    • I learned that in SCAL you have to type your word backwards, then check the "flip" box in order to have it properly oriented. I believe this is resolved in SCAL 2 however (waiting for MAC release!!!)
    • Take the extra time to align your design on the t-shirt before you paint. I haven't worked out a good alignment method yet, but in the meantime I'm trying not to rush this step and just eyeballing it real good.
    • Use Tulip Soft fabric paint. It has a wonderful soft hand and great coverage. Since I'm new, I can't speak to how it holds up from repeated washings. But I love how opaque the paint is, even on dark colors. In the shirt above I used platinum metallic and white paint, on a black t-shirt, and you can see how nice it covers. I did use two coats (really only necessary for the white paint). Click on the close-up at left to see how nice the metallic paint looks.
    • Stock up on t-shirts at Michael's when they are on sale.
    • Allow time for the shirts to dry before removing stencil. This is the most important step in getting a professional clean look. I let the shirts dry overnight.
    My Questions:
    • Has anyone used a transfer medium like vinyl transfer tape, magic mesh, or drywall tape to transfer the design? In the design above, it would have been very useful to use transfer tape because of the little tiny pieces in the word "Knights," but I think I would have had to cut it in vinyl because the design has to be flipped. Any thoughts on transfer tapes and their applications? Will using transfer tape help me when I have a design that must be cut in reverse and backwards - or must I use something that is cut in the same position in will be applied to the t-shirt?
    • Does anyone have experience layering multiple colors? I'm interested in tips on masking, layering and setting up registration points on the shirt.
    Inspiring Projects
    A list of blogs and videos I've found which either have nice projects or helpful information. Not all are cut with a Cricut.

    Saturday, September 26, 2009

    Tampa Bay Fashion Week 2009

    There was a fashion week. In Tampa. Surprised? Tampa tries hard to be fashionable. We have two fancy malls less than a mile apart and even a fashion design school. (You'd think I could find a job here - but, nooooooo). Anyway, Lizzy and I attended the Friday night show last night on Visit Tampa Bay's dime. It was fun. It was free. We saw Judy Crowell and her husband Paul Deasy from QVC and HSN. We also saw Victorya Hong and her model Jacqueline from season 4 of Project Runway. We got lots of free crap goodies.

    But don't worry New York and Paris, you are in no danger. From what I saw, Tampa won't be rocking the fashion world anytime soon, despite what Cloe Cabrera says. And don't scoff - despite my casual uniform of jeans and a t-shirt I did have a career once upon a time at Elle, so I know what I'm talking about, a little. ;) Designers went crazy with cheap trims and ribbon. And there were some unfortunate flashbacks to the '80s. I took a few pics of the outfits but you can see them better here - *tbt*.  (That's Lizzy rocking the red carpet)

    Best outfit was from another designer, Bebe Ziegler, who makes really awesome designer t-shirts. Her show was the day before, but she was in the audience sporting her Jester t-shirt. "I die" (channeling Rachel Zoe. I had to get at least one reference in, sorry!)

    Judy Crowell & Paul Deasy

    Victorya Hong and her model Jacqueline from Project Runway, season 4.