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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Whoo Hoo, V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N !

We are on vacation and today is our 2nd day in Walt Disney World.

So what did I buy today?

A handheld embosser set with three interchangeable cassettes!

It reminds me of the Fiskars handheld punch sets but this set embosses instead.

The $20.95 price tag is pretty steep for something that looks and feels like cheap plastic (Made in Taiwan!) but I was intrigued and couldn't stop looking at the back of the packaging.

Hubby got impatient and decided that it was worth paying that $21 just to get me out of the store. :-P

As soon as I got back to the hotel room, I tried the embosser on a mini paper pad and the impressions were too deep and the outlines had wrinkles but when I tried it on the room service order menu (cardstock!), the embossing turned out so much better.

I've never seen this set in any of the local craft stores but I could have sworn that I've seen it in the Disney Store's website. Of course I can't find it online now but I wonder if the Disney Store (brick and mortar) might sell it?

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Super Awesome Big Lots Loot

So I've been reading on the Cricut board about Big Lots having these cuttlebug dies and folders for $2 a piece so I sent my husband to the store this morning and see what he brought home.

You can click on the picture to see an enlarged view. For $2 a pack I thought they were a steal. If you have a Big Lots near you, it's totally worth a trip there. Hubby found them in the scrapbooking aisle but I've read that some stores do not place them there at all. Take a walk around the store if you do not find them at first. Sometimes there is no logic to how the store decides where to place their items. Someone on the Cricut board even found hers in the gardening section. Go figure!

Here are more pictures:

Good Luck to everyone!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Chinese Thank You Card

One and a half hour to go before we leave for the kids' last Chinese class for the year, and I realize that I forgot to make a card for the teacher. I did buy her a gift card but how dare I space out on handmade card!

Almost instinctively, I flipped open my laptop and while Cricut Design Studio is taking its own sweet time to load up, I started to look for my Pagoda cartridge. I found the box while CDS was still loading, and finished looking through the handbook just before CDS finally loaded up. I thought this card would be a breeze to make. Just a simple thank you card for the Chinese Teacher and I had assumed that the Chinese character for "Thanks" would be on Provo Craft's only Asian-themed cartridge. I was flabbergasted that I was not able to find it on the handbook. I even went through the book twice and searched through the Keyword feature on CDS. No Chinese "Thank You" on the Pagoda cartridge? Epic fail, Provo Craft!

Annoyed, I closed CDS and opened Make-The-Cut. I found the "Thank You" character online and traced it in MTC. Sized it for a quarter-fold sized card and clicked on the "Cut" button.

I needed the negative image to make the card but I was not willing to waste the positive image. I had some scrap pieces of clear Contact Paper from my canvas project so I placed it over the character-cutouts and rub it until they stick onto the contact paper.

Using my spatula, I gently coaxed the cutouts from the mat.

So now I have the positive cutouts ready to be used for another project.

For the sake of those who are not familiar with Clear Contact Paper, this is how the backing looks like. You can buy a roll at most mass merchandisers (e.g. Target, Walmart) for a couple of dollars.

Just to illustrate in this blog that the positive image cutouts can be used, I peeled off the contact paper backing and applied some glue to the cutouts while they are still stuck on the contact paper.

Once I decided where I want to place them, I lay down the contact paper and gently rubbed down the cutouts. When I am confident that the images have stuck onto my cardstock, I slowly peel away the contact paper.

This is a simple but effective method to save cutouts that cannot be welded into a single piece. I had also used the same trick to save the words left behind from cutting the "Campground" label from my last classroom project.

So, what did I do with the negative cutout from the Chinese characters? Well, I layered it onto a piece of black cardstock and adhere the whole thing to a card front that was previously embossed with Sizzix's Three Dots embossing folder. To finish the card, I adhered a 2-inch Create-A-Critter panda onto the card with mounting tape to give it some dimension.

There were 2 corners of the Chinese characters that I had missed putting some glue on, so I reapplied some glue carefully on the red layer and voila! A Chinese Thank You Card is done. :-)
To download the MTC file for the Chinese Characters for "Thank You", 

Please note that you will need Make-The-Cut program to open the file. This file will not open in Cricut Design Studio.

Enjoy. :-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

25 favors: The final chapter


So here I sit, staring at this 9" x12" piece of paper that Mrs. M. had handed to me. 

"Anything that you come up with, we will love. " 

Her words kept ringing through my head but no creative energy was flowing in my veins.


It is a simple assignment. Just make 25 book covers for 25 1st Graders. I look down at what my kids had brought home as their memory book the year before. Three alphabet cutouts were all that decorated the covers. Hurmm... 

"I could cut out some things that reflect the subjects in this year's curriculum.", I thought to myself. I opened up Design Studio and using the Keyword feature, searched for "penguin", and "polar bear". The Arctic and the Antarctica are pretty big subjects in the 1st Grader's class this year. Design Studio showed that the images can be found on the Animal Kingdom cartridge. Easy Peasy! I'll just cut out some of those animals and I'm done!

"Mommy, are these the tents you are bringing?"

"Don't forget to bring hot dogs."

"Is Daddy coming to see our Camp Out program?"

Argh. The twins are studying about the desert and they have not been able to stop talking about their big Desert Camp Out in the Classroom event.

I sent the kids to the Study to finish off their homework so I can work on mine. Except that mine were not coming out the way I imagined. No matter what  I do, the penguins and the polar bears just looked odd on the layout.

"Mommy, can we bring our flash lights, too?"

"...and you need to help us make the cowboy hats and vests. "

The twins went on. My head started to spin. I decided to go outside and get the mail.

Scott the mailman had shoved my latest ebay purchase into the mailbox. I really liked the ferris wheel cut on the Summer Vacation cartridge and was pleased that I won it for $19 plus free shipping. I ripped opened the plastic baggie and there, staring back at me were the "Campground" label and the tent right next to it.


The kids have been telling me about cacti and rattlesnakes, tents and cowboys, camping and CAMPING!


I have been searching for ideas when it was already here all this time. My pathological fear of not meeting expectations had prevented me from seeing what a 7 year old think, is the most important event in First Grade. The girls have been looking so forward to seeing their classroom transform into a camp ground with camping tents and all.

Not the Arctic or Antarctica! It wouldn't be long before they forget that they learned those subjects in First Grade. The thing that they'll remember the most is the Camp Out!

Once the idea hit me, I was unstoppable. 25 paper dolls (Paper Doll Dress Up) were done up in no time. Tents, campfires, and "Campground" labels (Summer Vacation) were next.

Finally, I welded up the names (Robotz) and titles in Design Studio and I was ready to stick everything down. A little gluing and a lot of outlining and I'm done!

So there they are. All 25 First Grade Memory Book Covers. I'm all crafted out but I can hardly  wait until Thursday when I will hand these to Mrs. M. I wonder if she would notice that I even matched the hair color on the paper doll to that of the real kid. :-)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

25 favors (part 2): I have a plan


A friend once asked me, "Where do you find Inspiration?".  I mumbled something, and skirted the question. I didn't know the answer and frankly, I've never thought about it. When I'm in my Craft Room, I take out a cartridge, and just cut. The idea of just doing something for the sake of nothing is really quite satisfying enough. I'm not cutting because I have to. I just want to. It's something that I can do just because. Not like laundry or dinner or cleaning. Not like changing a diaper or vacuuming the floor. Not something that I have to do because I'm a Mom or a Wife.

Perhaps that's why I am having so much trouble with this Memory Book assignment. It's funny how everything changes when a hobby becomes a duty. I'm not doing this for no reason. Somebody needed help and even though I accepted the job merrily, I didn't think I was going to be so stumped. For two days, I searched for Inspiration but I came up empty. I didn't like any of the layouts I was making on Design Studio. I was totally over thinking it. A voice inside my head was screaming, "It's for the FIRST GRADERS for crying out loud! The books will probably be thrown around and cast aside as soon as the kids bring them home.".  And just when I was about to cut out some random penguins, Inspiration found me. More accurately, the Mailman brought Inspiration to me. All $19 worth of it. 

I have a plan now and I think Mrs. M. is going to like it.

(to be continued...)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

25 favors


Three weeks ago, I received an email from my kids' 1st Grade Teacher. I have previously mentioned that I help out in the classroom. Once a week, I will go into the class and read with the children and also help out  the teacher with minor class duties. I also make cutouts for the class. The kids make story boards or construct math equations with them. Since school started last Sept, I have made over 10,000 cutouts, each measuring approximately 1" x 1". 

Now, making cutouts for the class is easy. All Mrs. M. needed to do was to tell me what shapes she needed and I'll find the image and cut them out on different colored paper. The directions were clear and simple.

Then she sent that email. She needed help with the kids' 1st grade Memory Books and thought I could help her with the 25 front covers. I was flattered that she would think of me for this project and I have to admit that I was pretty excited too. To use my Cricut and help make something for the class? Sure! The trouble is, I have no idea what a 1st grade Memory Book cover should look like. Mrs. M's reply when I met her was "Oh, anything that you come up with, we will love." or something like that. Okay, that didn't help me much but I'm fine working on a blank canvas. Or so I thought. I left school that day with a blank sheet of 9"x12" paper.

Three weeks have since passed and I have nothing. I'm officially in panic mode. I promised that the covers will be given to her this coming Thursday but I am coming up empty. Sounds like a simple enough project but I don't want it to be just like any other book cover. I don't want to stick three Alphabet cutouts and call it a day. I want it to mean something. Mrs. M. had proudly told me that a 4th Grader recently showed her the book he got when he was in her 1st Grade class and she was a little sad to see how torn it had become and so she is going to have all 25 covers laminated this year. I could tell that the yearly class memory book is a project that is dear to her.

Today is Saturday. Thursday is 5 days away. I better get started...

Monday, May 3, 2010

One altered paint can, Five little treats...

I love to alter paint cans. I really do. I think that whoever came up with the idea is a genius. Since discovering this project, I don't even mind anymore when my husband asks if he can drop by the local Lowes on the way home from the mall. And because I am the kind, loving wife, I will even go inside the store with him so that he wouldn't feel lonely shopping alone. If I get to buy an empty paint can.

Last year, I altered my first paint cans for my then-Kindergarteners' teacher. I couldn't have been happier when the now-First Graders asked me last week if I can make one for their class teacher for Teachers' Appreciation Week. 

Every day of this week, the teacher will get to open up the can and retrieve one treat. After all, it is supposed to be a week of celebrating the teachers, so why shouldn't Mrs. M get a treat every day of the week?

Of course I am not letting the twins get away with doing nothing for their teacher. A handmade card from each one of them is included in the can.

"Mommy, can we use your Cricut?" "No hun, but you can use my punches." Yeah, I'm mean like that. The girls get to use the machine when they are crafting for fun but somehow, I thought it is more meaningful when they make a card with no electronic tools for their teacher. I just feels more right that way.

It was actually a treat for me that I got to put this together. I got to tell the hubby that I am busy all day because I am doing something important for the kids. Then I got to go shopping too. Can't just gift an empty can, can we? I really need to find another excuse to make another one of these.

To all the teachers who are reading this, I hope that you have a Super Teachers' Appreciation Week!