Monday, December 31, 2012

Should Old Acquaintance be Forgot...

Tomorrow marks the dawn of a new year, full of hope and possibilities. It also marks the 5th anniversary of the day our lives got turned upside down. It's taken me that long to be strong enough, ready enough to write about it and I think it's finally time.

January 1st, 2008 found us at our apartment, winding down from two days of fun with our friends. My fiance and I were goofing off on our respective computers in the back bedroom, thinking it was about time for bed. He was off with his tractor trailer in the morning for his next run, and I had work. It was wonderful having him home for almost a week, but now it was time to part again. We were putting it off as long as possible by staying up way too late, nearly midnight. The door to the bedroom was closed as two of our cats didn't get along, so we kept them separated. That's why we didn't hear or smell anything until...I don't even remember what made us open the door. The whiff of something, the need for a drink; doesn't matter why, just that we did. That's when we heard the smoke alarm and smelled the smoke.

Our kitchen was filled with that smoke. Our first thought was 'my God, did we leave the stove on?!?' Within moments though, we knew it was coming from the apartment below us. I calmly grabbed my purse from the table next to the door, scooped up our coats and boots, and headed downstairs. I never thought it would be the last time I was in my apartment.

Six hours later the fire trucks left and we had nothing to do but see what could be salvaged. All three apartments on our side of the building were destroyed, all of our beloved pets gone across the rainbow bridge. We were lucky - our bearded dragon, Hank, was the sole survivor. He was spoiled by us for the rest of his little lizard life (which was a good 3+ years after the fire). What happened? The woman downstairs, stoned & drunk out of her mind, managed to set herself on fire and the rest of the building while she was at it. Amazingly enough no human lives were lost that night, but that made the loss of our animals hurt even more.

In an instant we were homeless without any possessions left to our names. In the days that followed we were able to salvage photos and some Christmas ornaments (after all, our tree was still up) but that was it. Everything else was permeated with water, ice (it was darned cold), and the stench of burning building. Thankfully I had renter's insurance which helped greatly, but how do you go about rebuilding your home? Your life? The pain of that loss still brings me nearly to tears all these years later, and probably always will.

A brief note to anyone who rents; if you don't have renter's insurance, GET IT. It is, at most, $10/month for a policy. Trust me, while you hope to never need it, it's invaluable when you do. We were the only ones in the building who had it...

In the days that followed, I discovered how you survive. It's with the help of family and friends, for you cannot, cannot do it alone. Step one was realizing that we were both alive and that was a pretty damn good for starters. We got everyone out of the building that night and are still remembered as the ones who helped save lives. Step two was not being afraid to say 'yes' when family & friends asked if we needed help. Through that network we had a new apartment that weekend, dishes, towels, and even some furniture. We were well on our way to rebuilding our lives.

What then moved me to tears (and yes, still does) was the outpouring of love & support from our online communities. People we chatted with every day or week, whom we had never met in person, were suddenly sending gift cards to help us rebuild. That, coupled with the help from our local friends & family, was completely overwhelming. It still is, and I would do anything I could for each and every one of them if they needed it. Something like that is never forgotten.

Time moved on and I married my fiance 6 months later, right on schedule. We've since bought a house, started a family, and welcomed new kitties into our lives. And yes, I did have the thought my first night in our house, that no neighbor could burn it down on me. Still, every year at this time as I'm surrounded by those who helped us when we were down, I get overwhelmed yet again by the love and kindness they showed us.

Happy New Year everyone; hold your friends and family close, and never miss a chance to tell them how much they matter to you. May 2013 hold lots of joy for you and yours!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

12 Days of Christmas - Day 2

Apparently this didn't post as scheduled yesterday...weird. Ah well, on with the countdown!

Welcome to Day 2 of our 12 Days of Christmas! Today I'm sharing a fun little add-on present; a cocoa holder!

Hot cocoa holders
How cute are these?? A pretty package holding a yummy treat. After all, who doesn't like a nice, hot cup of cocoa during these cold months. You could easily pair it with a pretty mug or coffee cozy, maybe even coasters!

Pop it open, and there's the cocoa!
Your exact dimensions depend upon the size of your cocoa packet. I built this one so that there was 1/4" border on the sides and made sure the pocket came up over halfway on the cocoa packet. This leaves room for the mini staples to form the pocket without puncturing the cocoa. Yes, it is a bit messy when that happens...

For the front I simply added some scrapbook paper 1/4" smaller than my flap. The sentiment and cocoa cup are from an older Fiskars set that I find myself going back to again and again. (No, I don't remember the name as the packaging disintegrated a while ago.)
Close up of the cup and sentiment
I finished off the front flap with some decorative scissors. The edge just looks too boring otherwise. The whole project took me maybe 20 minutes, and that included figuring out the measurements.

For those in the Capital Region, I will be teaching a class at the Captured Moments scrapbooking store on Saturday, December 15th that includes these little holders. Sign up is available on their website and I'd love to see you there!

Be sure to join us tomorrow for Day 3 of our 12 Days of Christmas!

Linking up to:
PbD Let's Get Stuffed Challenge

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 1

Happy December 6th everyone! Anyone else awaken to a treat in their shoes this morning? In our house, Svate (St. Nicholas) stops by to leave little presents for the good little girls and boys. Apparently we have a good house as my son got a wooden bus, my husband some yummy goat cheese, and I found a lovely Irish dancer ornament in my shoe closet. A new morning also meant it was time to open another door in our Advent calendar.
As you can see, it's incredibly exciting
For me, December 6th also means it's time to get serious about Christmas! Ooo, I could start by taking down that Thanksgiving wall hanging back there...hmmm...time to pull out my reindeer one.

One thing we have hung up is our Christmas card...holder? Banner? Help me find a good word here, please. We don't have a mantle so last year I grabbed some ribbon, clothespins, paint, and scrapbook paper and made us a card holder.
Strung up on our wood beams - so pretty!
It is a simple, inexpensive, and immediately rewarding project. Most everything you can get at the dollar store or on sale (especially at Michaels who have decided that Christmas is over and marked everything at least 50% off!). Here's what I used:

Decoart paint in a holiday red & green
Festive ribbon
Decorative paper that coordinates with the ribbon
Modge Podge

I started by painting the clothespins, half in green and half in red. While they dried, I sliced up my paper to fit the clothespins. I chose to only cover one side with the paper as that's all you'll see. Once the clothespins were dry, I broke out my vat of Modge Podge and gave the pins a thin coat and attached the paper. While they sat for a bit, I cut my ribbon . Here you have some flexibility; just make sure it's enough to string up where you want it. I want to say mine is at least 6 feet (hey, it was last year - what do you want from me?).

That's it! You now have a lovely, easy card display for the holidays. Let me know if you make one, I'd love to see it.

See you tomorrow for Day 2!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Holiday Gift Idea Class with Jennifer

Ooo, I'm so EXCITED! I'm all signed up to teach a really fun holiday gift class at Captured Moments, aka my very favorite local scrapbooking store, and they're already talking about it on their blog! You can read all about it here: Holiday Gift Idea Class with Jennifer (hah, that's me!)

While you're there, go register for the class! It will be held on Saturday, December 15th; just in time for those last-minute holiday gifts. Even if you can't make the full class, I'll have kits available as well with full instructions. And hey, if you do make the class and want to purchase some kits to make some extras at home, go for it!

Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Lawnscaping Blog Hop!

Good morning everyone! Welcome to your next stop on the Lawnscaping Blog Hop trail. You should have come here from Kelly's blog. This month's theme is all things fall, as you can see by our inspiration photo. Changing leaves, pumpkins, apples, pie...mmmm, pie...ahem. Where was I? Ah yes, prizes! The hop runs from Friday, October 5th all the way through Sunday, October 7th. Be sure to comment on all the blogs to be eligible for some fantastic prizes! All of the details can be found on the Lawnscaping page along with a list of all the blogs participating in the hop, in case you get lost along the way.

Now then, before I go dreaming about homemade pie again, let me share with you what I made for the hop. I decided to go completely outside my usual realm of crafting and see what I could come up with for a home decor project. While I've been avoiding jumping on the burlap bandwagon, I finally took the plunge and am hooked. That burlap wreath and the drapey curtains in the photo were just calling to me! Couple those with the pumpkins and fall colors, and you get (in my personal opinion) one really pretty, rustic wreath.

The leaves, acorns, and pumpkins are all paper pieced and fussy-cut from the Lawn Fawn Bright Side 6x6 paper pad. I love that paper so, so much and the smaller pad is perfect for smaller images. I cannot wait to get my hands on the new holiday set!

Of course, when I went to take pictures of my work in progress, BOTH camera batteries were dead so you'll just have to take my word on how I made it. If you really don't believe me, I believe some in-progress shots are up on Instagram. :p

To make the wreath I found what they call a 'craft wreath' at Michael's; it's a 12" diameter piece of wood that's made to be altered. Right next to it was a roll of 2.5" wide burlap webbing. Perfect! I brought them home and while my glue gun was warming up, I started wrapping. Once I had the spacing the way I liked it (I'm picky like that), some hot glue to the back was all it took to hold the burlap down. While it does fray when cut, the line of hot glue acted as a sealant as well - no fray shall pass! (Come on, tell me at least someone giggled at that.) I will warn you; burlap has holes. Hot glue is liquid. Hot glue will bleed through the holes and try to burn you. No, that did not happen to me and you cannot prove that it did. I don't care what it says on Facebook, it's all LIES!

Now then, while the hot glue set I got stamping and cutting. Once all of the pumpkins, leaves, and acorns were created I laid them out on the wreath to decide upon an arrangement. I've learned that doing that before you start gluing really works better in the long run. It also let me decide that the wreath needed GLITTER! I pulled out my Distress Stickles and highlighted the veins of the leaves, the dots on the acorns, and the little flowers on the pumpkins. Funny thing about Stickles - they take eons to dry. No, I'm not exaggerating. I walked away for, I kid you not, 1-1/2 hours and they still weren't set! So I busted out my embossing heat gun to try and speed things along. I think it mostly helped, and it gave the leaves a really pretty, gentle curl. Satisfied that I could successfully avoid the still-tacky spots, my glue gun and I got to work attaching all the pretties. The final touch was some sheer ribbon I had on hand and my wreath was done!

Here are some close-ups of the embellishments:

Leaves and acorns
Just look at that sparkle! Well worth the drying time
Pumpkins in a little pumpkin patch
My fussy-cut, paper-pieced, glittered pumpkin. Totally worth it!
View of my door now - it's never looked so festive!
Thanks for stopping by on the hop! I hope you like my fall wreath. If so, it would be lovely if you started following my blog to see what other crafty things I come up with. There's usually coffee involved, too. Ooo, which goes so well with pie!

All right, you're next stop is Joe Shien Shien's blog! Don't forget, if you get lost along the way head on back to the Lawnscaping blog for directions.

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pink by Design MasterCrafter Challenge

So back in August, Pink by Design put out a call; a new kind of challenge had arrived and the first 100 people to sign up got to play. Amazingly enough, I was online at the right time and managed to snag a box...a mystery box. You had no idea what it contained until you got it and you had to create a project using everything included. Whoa. Today is the day we can finally link up our projects and the voting begins to see who will be the MasterCrafter!

Admittedly, there was a short time where I was terrified - what if the box held things like pink and lace and girly-girl stuff? What on earth would I do with that?!? Turns out I had nothing to fear, for the contents were pretty darn cool.

Ooo, the shiny toys! Possibilities!
What was in the box:
- Scissor Mouse sponsored by Westcott
- DCWV Rockstar mat stack sponsored by DCWV Deals
- Cotton Bag Sponsored by State line Bag Co.
- 1/2 sheet of Rhinestones sponsored by Queen & Co.
- Sentiment stamp sponsored by Pink by Design (I received 'trust')
- 2 buttons

What I added from my own stash:
-PbD stamp set 'Happily Ever After'
-Tim Holtz Distress Inks in Wild Honey, Tea Stain, and Crushed Olive
-StazOn True Black Ink
-Lawn Fawn Twine in Natural
-13"x13" shadow box (really truly, it was just sitting in my craft room!)
-random piece of 12"x12" scrapbooking paper
-crown stamp (dollar bin at Michael's)
-foam tape
-black stamp marker from LePlume

Though I've never used it before, I've always loved the rock star paper. It's cool enough for both boys and girls - yes! So, what did I make?

My MasterCrafter design of a scrapbook layout in a shadowbox frame
Angled view; less glare from the glass
Oh yes - I made a heavily layered layout and put it in a shadowbox frame. My little boy just turned 2 and provided the perfect photos for the layout. Of course, the one thing I forgot until after I was done is just how hard it is to get a good photo of something involving glass! So...much...glare! Seriously, you're seeing the best of about 12 photos here.

Here are some close-ups of the key elements:

The muslin bag got distressed, stamped, and blinged-out with the rhinestones
The buttons got strung through some twine and wrapped around the whole page to make...
...guitar strings!
I paired the 'trust' stamp that was included with 2 more PbD ones from my stash
Yeah, that is one seriously cute, Goldfish-encrusted grin. My little love. That photo happened when he decided to come stick his face in the camera, so I clicked away. Who knew it would turn out so perfect?

EDIT: Still begging for votes, but the voting dates have changed! Please, head on over to the Pink by Design blog starting October 7th and vote for me to become the MasterCrafter. Voting closes October 11th and it would be beyond awesome to win. MWAH!

Ok, on to the photo montage of how I put this bad boy together!

I already had the photobox frame which, in this case, measures 13"x13", leaving me a workspace of 12.5"x12.5". Lots of room! So I grabbed a piece of 12"x12" paper I had lying around in a color that I really wasn't crazy about and used that as my backer piece. I decided to make a patchwork quilt out of the different papers in the pack, so I started laying out my design then got cutting.
Figuring out spacing BEFORE cutting. Sometimes I'm so smart!
Paper all sliced up and edges inked
I used the white insert from the frame to line up my paper, then started gluing
My completed background
I really, really like how it came out. That's the nice thing about paper stacks - all of the papers compliment each other. Thanks to the patterns, I could even work in some of the pink papers despite it being a boy's layout. It came across as cool, not girly. Rock on.

From here I moved on to the muslin bag. It really didn't match in its natural form, so I grabbed my Distress Inks and started layering them on. I tucked tissue paper inside the bag to prevent bleed-through and it provided a cool effect while rubbing on the inks. I have to say, that little bag loved the inks! Soooo easy. When I was happy with the colors, I grabbed the crown stamp I had that, gasp!, matched the crowns on the paper perfectly. Using the rhinestones as jewels was a perfect way to bring some bling in. I let the bag dry overnight and did wind up going back over the crown with my marker as it had faded too much. I love how grungy it came out! Since I already had my marker in hand, I added my little prince of a rock star's name and called it done.

A blend of crushed olive, wild honey, and tea stain resulted in one cool, grungy bag
Close-up of the bag; you can see the crown is already fading
Oh yeah, the bag wasn't the only thing stained...blech!
Completed bag with the crown drawn back in
While the bag dried and I scrubbed my hands clean (surprisingly easy to do, by the way) I chose and printed out my photos and got to work matting them. I also attached my "guitar strings" and buttons while munching on the hidden stash of Halloween candy in my craft room...shhhh! I laid everything out on my background and realized something was missing. In the end, I grabbed one last piece of paper from the stack and fussy-cut the flocked heart design out and added it to the middle. Perfect!
Final layout check before applying the adhesive
My fussy-cut heart embellishment
From here it was simple. Grabbing my ATG gun I glued everything down. I used foam tape to pop up the photo in the corner and the heart embellishment to give it some dimension. Then it was just a matter of lining it up in the frame, adding the bag, and I was done!
One last look...grr, with some glare
I'd love to hear what you think! And pretty please, remember to go vote!

Happy Crafting!

p.s. Don't forget to stop by tomorrow when the Lawnscaping Challenge Blog Hop begins!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Time for the October OOTBS!

Phew! It's been absolutely CRAZY around here lately! September seemed to fly by in a blink, and here we are at October already. I have several September projects to get you all caught up on, but today's spotlight is on the October Out of the Box Sampler! We participated again this month, and thanks to the overwhelming demand in our Facebook poll for them, this month's treat is a vampire cupcake upcycled bottle cap magnet!

Vampire cupcake...rawr!
Seriously, how cute is this little guy?? The magnet is massively strong so don't be afraid to have it hold up your most important papers on the fridge...filing metallic!

Those purchasing a box that are lucky enough to get one of my little magnets will find a small story about our upcycling and a coupon code good for the month of October, all bundled up in a black bag. Hey, it is Halloween!

All the spooky contents
All packaged up and ready to go!
The samplers go on sale TONIGHT, October 1st, at 8pm EST. Hurry hurry!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Caffeinated Papercuts Comes to Captured Moments Scrapbooking Store!

Ohhh, I'm SO EXCITED! I'll be at my favorite scrapbook store, Captured Moments, 8th anniversary celebration this Saturday, September 29th. Why, you ask? Well, all of the cool class instructors will be there... :D

That's right, I'll be teaching one seriously awesome class there come Saturday, December 15th! If you're local (or more than happy to make the drive) then mark your calendars for one heck of a class. I'll post the exact details here when I have them (little things like time and cost) but I do know that everyone who signs up will be making all of the goodies* shown here!

Hot chocolate and tea holders

Greeting cards and holder

Gift tags
...and a bag to hold them all in
See? One cute package!

 One nice, tidy holiday package...exactly the point of the class. Extra kits will be available for purchase as well if you'd like to make even more at home!

Can you tell how utterly excited I am??

If you stop by the store this Saturday between 10am and 3pm, I'll be there doing Make & Takes of some cute little treat holders, just in time for Halloween! Hope to see you there!

*final paper decisions have not been made by yours truly yet, so don't hold me to the photos!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Cassie and the Jingle Bell

Hi there - I'm getting prepped for not one, but two craft shows this weekend! Eek! I'll be back next week with fun crafty things, but in the meantime, enjoy a crazy cat story. :)

So right before we left on vacation back in July, my Cassie cat (aka Mama's GORGEOUS baby GIRL! Yes, I'm biased) managed to pop her collar off somewhere in the house. Not the first time a kitty has done that around here, so I didn't think much of it. I informed her to go find it and leave it somewhere for me to find and put back on her.

Yes, I realize this makes me sound like a crazy cat lady. However, it's actually worked with her brothers!

Fast-forward to this week and the collar is still missing. So I cave and buy her a new, pretty pink one. Now, those of you whom have ever bought kitty collars before will have noticed that they all come with little jingle bells attached. I'm not sure of their actual purpose, but around here they're known as Kitty Torture Devices. Many a laugh have been had watching the boys chase the bell that's following them before taking the humane path and removing it from the collar.

On this day, I wanted a laugh. I was still peeved about Cassie ditching the first one, so I placed the collar on her, bell and all, and waited for the floor show.

It never happened.

My brilliant baby girl simply proceeded to strut around showing off her new pink collar, then proceeded to successfully sneak up on her brothers. By the time they heard the jingle bell it was already too late.
That's right, my little girl became a stealth ninja bearing a jingle bell of doom!

Cassie and her little pink jingle bell
Just when you think you understand cats...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Creative Time Challenge - Pinterest Inspired Project

Good morning everyone! After my craft show last weekend I decided to take a crafty-vacation and make things that I WANTED to make, as opposed to things I NEEDED to make for the show. It's going to be a short craft-cation, though, as I have two more shows next weekend! Eek! As part of my craft-cation, I decided to play along with My Creative Time's new challenge of making a Pinterest Inspired Project.

Piece. Of. Cake.

It helps that I'm completely addicted a frequent browser of Pinterest (you can find me under caffpapercuts). Seeing as I currently have Halloween on the brain, I decided to try one of the rolled-paper wreaths I had pinned. It looked easy and they even gave directions. So I cut up my Halloween papers using some My Mind's Eye pieces I got in a multi-pack and filling in with my own stash of black card stock and some pretty orange shimmer paper leftover from a wedding invitation order. I rolled them all up, glued them into the cones, then started work on laying them out.

Then I worked some more.

And more.

Then the muttering & cursing started.

I consider myself a skilled individual, but for the life of me I could not recreate the sample wreath with the materials they listed. The closest I got was half a wreath which made no sense as I was following the freakin' directions!!

So, I did what any reasonable crafter does at this point - threw the directions out the window and made something that made ME happy! I made a few more cones out of my black & orange card stock and made a fun, fan-shaped wreath. I used a half-circle cut out of a cereal box for the backer to give the cones something to hold on to and added twine for hanging. (Note to self: next time, add twine before you glue everything!) The middle is made from a 4" circle cut from the same cereal box and covered in Halloween print...I believe it's one of the ones from the Target dollar bin. Topping it all off is a chipboard Halloween kitty that I attached with foam tape for dimension.

My finished wreath on my lovely green wall

Side view so you can see the layers and dimension
Close-up of my Halloween kitty...meow!
So, what do you think? I'd love to hear some feedback! Any of your projects get completely changed about halfway through like mine? Please share!

Happy Crafting!