Friday, December 20, 2013

Tags Aplenty

With limited time for papercrafting fun this busy time of year, I love to make tags.

Tags are (usually) small and can be elaborate or simple or anything in between, and it doesn't take too long to whip up a tag or two, indulging in some crafty goodness with a few minutes between other tasks. This year, I wanted to add a bit of creativity to my present-wrapping, and creating some tags was the perfect way to do that with just a little bit of extra time.

My first step was to assemble some supplies, and I used a lot of bits and pieces left over from last year's Christmas album. I also made good use of my Silhouette Cameo. Oooh, I love that little machine! :) Some ink, stamps, bit of paint, some glitter and bling, and a strong need to relax and play: that was my recipe for this year's tags.

These were inspired by a tag I saw on Pinterest. The stamps are from Stampin' Up!, and I purchased them with a matching punch so it was easy to stamp and punch and put together. On some, I added little strips of patterned paper; on others, I let the vintagey colors stand alone. I absolutely LOVE the festive berries shade from Tim Holtz, and that vintage green of evergreen boughs grows on me a little more the more I use it.

Okay, how cool are those jingle bells? I've loved jingle bells since I was in high school. Every Christmas season, I'd put bells on my shoelaces so every step I took added a bit of jingle. These I found at Target, a little box about half silver, half gold, and I love the extra sparkle and fun they add to these (and other) tags. The skate and snowman chipboard were leftover from last year's October Afternoon collection. I painted them with Distress crackle paint in picket fence then inked with Distress in blue. So much fun to make!

Little bit less work on these four. The lower left tag is part of a Christmas card, trimmed down, glittered, and tied with twine and some jingles. The upper left is a scrap of patterned paper I love with a bit of gold twine (borrowed from a cluster of gold jingle bells I used elsewhere) and some gold glitter. The other two were actual gift tags I've had a long time, bought at a garage sale several years ago. I just added some glitter and twine, and they're ready to go! (I stamped the to and from inside those so that after Christmas, I can cut the fronts off and use them again.)

Probably my simplest tag and one of my favorites. I cut the square out of a piece of patterned paper, stamped the to and from, tied it with twine and bells, and instant pretty. Love using up scraps of paper this way.

This tag was created last year, only the handwritten to and from were added this year. Before my paper-crafting life was enriched by a Cameo, I used a Slice for my electronic die-cutting, and that's how these bells were made. I then heat embossed the shape with silver embossing powder, added the gems, and used festive berries Distress ink to color that crinkle ribbon that delectable shade of Christmas red. I'd planned to use the die cut on a scrapbook page last year, but since that didn't happen, repurposing it into a tag was the thing to do.

Simple and pretty. Little Distress ink, little shimmer mist, a stamped snowflake, clear embossed, tied with some silvery riboon, a wisp of white craft thread, and a jingle bell. The finishing touch, a glittery enamel dot leftover from one of My Own Kits.

Another favorite. I clear-embossed an ornament stamp from Echo Park onto a white card stock tag, then used a paintbrush to add spray ink since the sprayer is broken. (Already? Dont' even get me started...) I took a little scrap of patterned paper, also from Echo Park, cut into a banner, then strung with twine and added a couple jingle bells. I really love the look!

Another favorite, this one using a shape from Silhouette. I heat embossed the top layer of the die cut in silver and inked the background layer with Distress in a few blue shades. The tag itself is blue card stock splattered with spray inks, some shimmery. I used white craft thread to tie the jingle bell and the die cut to the tag, added a small rectangle of white card stock for the to and from and called it done.

Probably my favorite of all, and the photo doesn't do it justice. This was also a Silhouette shape cut from plain white card stock with the Cameo. The background I heat-embossed in silver, while I colored the top layer with a gorgeous blue ink from Stamps of Life by Colorbox, sprayed with Studio Calico's Mister Huey in shine. The to and from tag tied with craft thread is a piece of blue card stock. As I was putting this together, I thought how cool it would be to make paper ornaments for the tree with this shape. In fact, I could make sure the die cut part is saved, and cut the tag off, save it for next year's tree.

More shapes cut with the Cameo, paired with leftover gold polka dot vellum from last year on plain manila tags. That vintage style button on the left tag is from Stampin' Up!, and both ornament die cuts are painted with the red mist, then sprayed with gold.

I do love the art of heat embossing. Stamp from Tim Holtz, embossed with white embossing powder this time. The tag on the left was colored with Distress ink, then sprayed with gold mist and stamped with to and from. The poinsettia was a leftover stamped image I fussy cut last year and accented with four gems. A bit of green twine and ribbon finish off that tag. The one on the right, I used festive berries to add some color, used some leftover letter stickers for the to/from, and added a cluster of jingle bells to finish it off.

These three? Cute and easy. The one on the left was part of a little vintage kit from Making Memories a few years back. I stamped the to/from, then used some white Stickles to add a bit of glitz to the mistletoe berries. The light die cut was leftover from a Bo Bunny collection last year. I stamped the to/from, punched three stars from gold glitter paper and adhered them. The tag on the right was attached to a package of candied nuts my husband bought for us, to/from printed on the back. I simply cut a piece of patterned paper to conceal the logo and added a sticker and punched star to finish it off.

The tag on the left is a piece of patterned paper tied with gold twine, stamped with to/from, embellished with a fussy cut poinsettia stamped in red and sprayed with gold, finished off with five gems. The one in the middle was clear embossed, sprayed with green ink, embellished with a chipboard die cut and tied with twine. The tag on the right was painted with Distress paint in picket fence, then sprayed with green ink. I added a piece of patterned paper and those same stamped, fussy cut poinsettias, accented with gems and an epoxy dot. Fun, fun, and fun!

And last...pieces from a Bo Bunny cut-apart sheet, turned into tags. The one on the top, I cut out, adhered to a tag inked with Distress, and then letter stickers for to/from and a bit of twine. The one on the bottom, I trimmed into a tag, heat-embossed with a couple snowflake stamps in silver, stamped with to/from, and finished off with a snowflake die cut embellishment that was in my stash from last year or the year before.

I love how tags add a personal touch to the presents and give me the opportunity to fit something I love, creating with paper, into my life at a time when I really need to relax and unwind and de-stress with creative fun. I think this is a new tradition I'll carry on for years to come.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Own Kit - December 2013 - Journal Your Christmas

At long last...but with a bit of a disclaimer: I know these photos are not good. I live in Michigan, which is infamous for cloudy days. In fact, people here have to take Vitamin D supplements in the fall and winter to make up for the lack of sunshine. So...I could wait for the rare December day of plentiful sunshine, which is about as likely as snow in Southtown, or I could do my best with what Mother Nature provided and post the pictures I got.

Which is what I'm choosing to do.

Most of the kits I've put together this year have been general scrapbooking kits, with the exception of My Own Kit for June, which I created for a June Daily project. My Own Kit for December I put together specifically for Journal Your Christmas, the project from Shimelle Laine that I love more each year I do it.

I went plentiful with this kit because of the size of the project I'm using it for, assembling things from my stash, as well as new stuff that caught my fancy. There were some embellishments I had tucked away that didn't make it into the photos, and of course, I will probably add bits and pieces as I work on putting the pages in the Journal Your Christmas album together.

So, take a look!

For my album, I chose the standard 12x12 from American Crafts in that gorgeous red with star pattern that's perfect for this project. I have a stash of page protectors in several sizes and orientations, and I purchased a variety pack to give me plenty of options as I go.

For papers, I went with one entire collection from Echo Park Paper, as well as a stack of different papers from all different collections, some from Crate Paper, American Crafts, Bella Blvd., October Afternoon, We R Memory Keepers, and others. Some are from past collections, and some brand new. I love the mix, which I think will blend well together in the album.

In addition to four complete packages of Thickers, I selected some partial packages of letter stickers from my stash. My biggest frustration with scrapbooking, probably my ONLY frustration, is not having enough of a letter I need for the title I want to do on any particular page. That's why I wanted lots of letters in this kit, and I simply love all that glitter.

Lots of new stamp sets added to my stash in 2013, some just for this project, including the new October Afternoon set and the Ali Edwards one.  A couple of masks included with this kit to add even more play with ink and mist, and an alphabet stamp set to give me even more letter options.

I have a lot of ribbon, people. I mean...a LOT, and I know that if I get it into a kit, there's a better chance of it getting onto pages. That package of rick-rack trim? Yeah...that's a good six or seven years old. Not even kidding. The washi tapes are all brand new, and I love, love, love that one with gold background and white stars. I'm really into stars right now, which will be very obvious from this kit. I also threw in a package of doilies because I love the look of those, too.

I chose stickers from October Afternoon's new collection, some word stickers, a couple deer stickers leftover from last year, and a tag and blank card I've had a few years that I'm determined to use somehow in this year's album.

These are the inks and spray mist I intend to use most on my album pages, and I included three sheets of silver star overlays that I can hardly wait to play with.

For embellishments, I chose some wood veneer, some clear acrylic, flowers I've had for quite awhile, and adorable die cuts from October Afternoon and Crate Paper... well as some gems and bow clips, stars and sequins, buttons and brads, and even eyelets. Lots and lots of pretties.

I had so much fun assembling the supplies for this kit, and I know I'm going to have even more fun using them on the pages I'm going to make for my third Journal Your Christmas album.

Now...all I need to do is find the time for crafting!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Own Kit - May 2013 - Wrap Up

While May is about seven months in the past already, I only recently (does September/October count as recent?) finished using the kit I created for that month, and I'm going to include the rest of the layouts I created from that kit right here in one post.

First up, this layout about a new place Daniel and I discovered during a rare occasion of getting to go out to lunch together. I was able to use a pattern paper I admit wasn't my favorite as the background and scraps of coordinating patterned paper to blend it all together. I love the splashes of color here, and I liked putting the stamps I included in the kit to good use.

Next up, a page about my sweet husband, using a sketch from Shimelle Laine for the design, which appeals to me for its simplicity and versatility. I've used the sketch before, and I like how pages made with the same sketch can look so different.

Another one based on a Shimelle sketch, I like this page, though I'm a bit unaccustomed to such a small amount of journaling. I didn't really have anything profound to record about this photo, but I love it because it captures my nephew and his personality so well back then, and I wanted to create a page to display it.

This page about my Mom and a new chapter in her life presented a bit of a challenge because the photo included some specific information that I wanted to conceal. I used that area as an embellishment cluster, which worked well, and I liked using bits and pieces that pulled the whole layout together.

This page could've used a little more embellishment, maybe some mist in that big open space, but I do tend to prefer a less cluttered design, and those flowers in the corner of the paper are so gorgeous, I wanted them to stand out. Another Shimelle Laine sketch at work here, and again, I like the versatility.

This one's probably my favorite of the group. I came up with the idea for this layout before I even had a photo or story in mind. I had the title stickers leftover from a sheet I included in the kit, and it prompted me to think about how I played as a child. The photo is one of me when I was a kid, and even though I'm not playing, it fit the timeline of my journaling pretty well, and the whole thing came together. The little figure just at the bottom left edge of the picture was originally rather boyish, but I fixed that by drawing long hair with a brown marker. I was down to pretty bare remnants of the kit for this layout, so I used the stamps to create a coordinating pattern on white card stock for the background.

And last, this pretty page about a butterfly in our hedge one summer day. I had that one full sheet of patterned paper left in the kit, and a few scraps. I had to supplement with a stamp, spray ink, and some Thickers that weren't part of the kit. I used a shimmer pen to outline the image of the butterfly, a stamp from Stampin' Up! that I love and had been meaning to use for quite awhile. Really like this page.

I really enjoy creating My Own Kits and creating pages from them. I completed an entire album and several layouts from My Own Kit for June, which I haven't managed to photograph just yet. I also have kits for July, August, and September to use, and kits in the works for October and November. The December kit is all assembled. I've just been waiting for sunshine to take photos, and I may have to accept that isn't going to happen and do the best I can with the poor light I've got.

It is Michigan, after all...

To take a look at My Own Kit for May 2013, click here, and check out the other layouts I created from this kit here, here, and here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Journal Your Christmas 2013 - Intentions Declared

Journal Your Christmas for 2013 is underway. I almost didn't participate this year, but when I flipped through last year's album, I realized what a treasure I held in my hands, and I wanted one for this year, as well.

The first prompt for this project is to write a manifesto, which I am calling my declaration of intentions, for the season. I kept it simple, thinking about what matters to me, and how to keep those things central to my celebration of this season celebrating light.

So for 2013, I am choosing...

- to not control what I can't control
- to relax and enjoy
- to embrace imperfection
- to accept what is
- to slow down and savor moments
- to remember stress is not merry
- to notice light
- to find joy

Already, these intentions have helped guide me on my path toward enjoyment of this season. Last night, I was feeling overwhelmed and sad by some realities in my life right now. I took a walk in the cold twilight, and I thought about some of these intentions, ticking them off in my head as I walked past neighborhood homes strung with lights. I smiled when I saw one decoration that simply said, "Joy."

I'm looking forward to the days ahead as the celebration unfolds. May your December be merry and bright.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I am thankful for...

Daniel. Every day of every year, I fall more deeply in love with this man. I don't know how I got so lucky. He is everything, and I am filled with gratitude to be the woman he wants to share his life with.

Us. Together...we've changed the world, and I am so proud of what we accomplish.

This lady and her incredible smile, her love and her sense of humor, all the things that make her Rachel.

This boy. His strength and stamina, his stubborn refusal to let cancer beat him. His wit and laugh. That he got his diagnosis when he lived in Michigan so that Daniel and I could help him through this journey. The nurses and doctors at who took such good care of him throughout the original battle with leukemia and the team that got him through transplant. That someone very noble and generous beyond words donated bone marrow so that DJ could live. Every time I think of it, I get tears of gratitude in my eyes. Thank you, thank you, thank you, whoever you are.

Myself. How I've survived (at least so far!) the endless, heavy stress and turbulence of a very difficult year, following two other very difficult years in a row. How I've learned and grown and become more of the person I want to be.

Happy memories. I have so many, a veritable wealth.

Learning to get up early so I can see (and capture) beautiful sights like this one.

Snow. Even little bits like this, and the half inch or so that fell this morning, make me happy.

Starbucks. Enough said.

Them. Who they were, what they were, helped make me who and what I am.

Michigan. This place I live is so full of natural beauty that consistently takes my breath away.

Scrapbooking. Although I haven't had as much time for memory-keeping as usual this year, I have developed my style and a process that really works for me. Preserving memories and expressing myself creatively makes me a happy LaLa.

My best friend's triumph over cancer. She is amazing, and I'm so proud of her.

The support and understanding from my friend Janet and other friends and family too numerous to mention.

Even in the darkest days, life is good, and I'm glad there's an opportunity to recognize and celebrate that.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Welcome, November 2013

A quick stop at one of my favorite local parks before I had to pick my Mom up from adult day care on the first day of the month, and I took this photo with my iPhone camera.

November already. A year flying by, and not because we're having fun, though there have been moments of joy to celebrate throughout the turbulence of this difficult year.

It's not over yet, and our family has a lot of strong winds and rough seas to weather in the next two months and beyond.

Important to stop for a stolen moment between tasks and responsibilities and notice Nature in all her glory my favorite season of the year. Important to ground myself in what matters to me. Important to recognize that life IS transition, a series of changes and adjustment to those changes, each one stacked on top of the other, building strength and stamina and resilience.

The next season approaches, and our family begins the next leg of our journey.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A True Love Story

Today would have been their 51st wedding anniversary. Locked in that kiss, forever captured on film, those are my parents, Rachel and George. Both had been married before. Both had faced betrayal by their spouses. Their love was unexpected.

And it was forever.

I recently created a scrapbook page with the title, "A True Love Story Never Ends," and it featured a photo from their wedding day with a photo from their 40th anniversary. Their love story, their living of it every day as I grew up, became the inspiration for me to wait for the one I could create a forever love story of my own with.

My Daniel.

Because of that day, 51 years ago, and every single day of their together that followed, I didn't settle. I watched them live in love, and I wanted a love like that. I knew because of them that a love like theirs was worth waiting for, and I waited.

And I found him.

My father left us in June of 2003, ten years ago, now. The hole in my life, in my heart, that losing him caused will never be healed. I know it is even worse for my mother. That she is living without him is a testament to her strength and to their love.

Oh, how he loved her.

That kind of love never, ever dies.

Today, I am celebrating their 51 years. I am grateful that they were such a shining example to me. I am grateful that Mom has many good memories with him to hold onto. I am grateful my Dad got to know Daniel, even for a short time. He knew that Daniel would take care of me.

I am grateful that at our wedding reception Mom and Dad danced to their song, and I have that memory to carry in my heart always.

And I am so very grateful that Daniel and I are living the same kind of forever love my parents knew.

Happy Anniversary, Rachel and George.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Photo Safari - October 2013

Every once in awhile, especially during autumn, I like to head out to one of our beautiful local parks with my camera and take some photos. Last Tuesday, I abandoned my household chores and headed out for a day of fun, including a stop at both those parks, camera in tow, this time with my zoom lens.

Here are some favorite photos from that outing:

Bright sunshine, cloudless blue sky, and these gorgeous golden leaves. Breathtaking.

Along one of the forest trails, this tree with red berries in profusion, catching the sunlight, almost sparkled.

Leafy path striped with sunlight...

...and a path carpeted with pine needles.

The mulch underfoot, sprinkled with leaves.

The busy creek.

That glorious shade of autumn red.

This little critter, foraging for food stores. Winter is coming.

Pudgy little squirrel enjoying an afternoon snack, too busy chowing down to notice much around him...or so it seemed.

I feel lucky that there are such lovely places nearby to go, get away for a few minutes, get out into nature. Being able to capture it in photos just makes it all the better.