Sunday, February 28, 2010

And Another!

And here's yet another fantastic giveaway! Mary over at A Latte Inkin' Fun is giving away a set of adorable stamps from the Greeting Farm.

Go here to enter:

Another Blog Candy Giveaway

I came across another blog candy giveaway tonight and I wanted to let you all know! Check out all this great stuff!

Go here to enter:

Also, don't forget to sign up for my St. Patty's Day giveaway if you haven't done so already. Deadline is tomorrow at Midnight. Best of luck to all of you!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Got Some Goodies!

Well, I really wanted to have a craft to share with you all today, but we had parent teacher conferences this afternoon, and since we needed a sitter for that (gotta love grandparents!) my hubby and I decided to take advantage of it and do a little shopping together. We just got home and it's already almost eight, so even if I did rush through a card or a pair of earrings, there would be no good lighting (my camera does best with natural light) which means crappy pictures, and it's just not worth it for that.

So I will have something to share on Monday, but for now, check out these goodies I picked up today! I don't know if you're like me, but I LOVE looking at all those youtube videos of people unpacking their latest craft haul. I just find it interesting to see what's out there on the market and what people's favorite tools and embellishments are.

I got lucky today, because I found a new craft store! It's just this tiny, hole-in-the-wall place, but she actually kept a decent supply, and a lot of what I saw there were specialty items that I haven't seen anywhere else in town. She had some adorable patterned papers, cute stamps and.... COPIC MARKERS! Not a lot, maybe two or three each of a dozen colors, but two of them were on my wishlist already, so I grabbed those for now and will probably go back for a few others in the next couple weeks.

There's my haul. Three sheets of patterned paper, two clear stamps, one rubber stamp, and two copic markers (B6 Peacock Blue and Y11 Light Yellow). I just love that little typewriter stamp! I have a thing for old typewriters, and it will be fun to make cards for all my writer friends using it. The side has a tiny bonus stamp that reads "I < 3 u" (the < and the 3 are together, but for some reason it won't let me post them that way) that you can stamp onto the paper if you choose. As for the clear stamps, one is a little puppy that was on sale for $.99 and the other is a gecko that says "Age is just a number... mine is unlisted." I thought that would be really cute for birthday cards, especially more masculine cards where flowers and butterflies might not be as appreciated. Lol. Plus, I think he could be very versatile. I can add a little party hat and some balloons, or switch up the sentiments... He could also be used on a card for little boys, or on the homework sheets I grade for my son's teacher. So he had to come home with me.

Here's a close up of the papers. I absolutely adore this one, and wish I would have picked up a couple sheets of it. Oh well, guess I'll just have to go back! Those dogs are so stinkin' cute, aren't they? I think any of them would be darling cut out and popped off a card or used as an accent on a scrapbooking page. See that red polkadotted Scottie? I have plans for him. That stripey dachshund makes me smile. And the brown dog next to him with the flowery ears just melts my heart. There's a whole lotta love goin' on there. It's from the Junebug collection by Basic Grey if you want to search for it.

This sheet is called Kitchen Recipe Cards Cut Out by BoBunny. I thought it would be the perfect compliment to the mixer and measuring cup I colored on my first Copics tryout. Actually, it works with that whole "What's the Scoop" by Hero Arts stamp collection.

And lastly, this flowery page from pinkpaislee is called Hearts Abloom from their Cupid Collection. It's so me, with the soft blues and pinks, and deep chocolate and red. Wouldn't this be adorable with some buttons in the flower centers? This might be another sheet I have to pick up more of. I can think of all sorts of possibilities with it.

And then these are the backs. I love it when designer papers are double sided! I just feel like I'm getting more for my money, since I have a coordinating pattern already built in. I can just cut off a strip and flip it over, and viola! I've got a matching piece to use with the focal point of my card. The pink gingham is the other side of the Hearts Abloom sheet, the polkadots the back of the Basic Grey paper, and the recipe cards are the same as the other side, but with fewer sentiments. Pretty neat, huh?
So what's your most recent craft purchase?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sisters, Ink

For my boys and me, one of our favorite places to go is the library. We're fortunate that there are several very nice ones in town and we visit at least one of them every week, and oftentimes more. While standing in line at the checkout desk with the two youngest beasties, I was browsing the shelf next to me and just happened to notice this title:

My interest was piqued immediately, so I plucked it off the shelf and added it to the heap in my arms. I haven't had a chance to crack the cover yet, but the blurb says this:
Sisters, Ink marks the first in a series of novels written by, for, and about scrapbookers. At the center of the creativity and humor are four unlikely young adult sisters, each separately adopted during early childhood into the loving home of Marilyn and Jack Sinclair.
Ten years after their mother Marilyn has died, the multi-racial Sinclair sisters (Meg, Kendra, Tandy, and Joy) still return to her converted attic scrapping studio in the small town of Stars Hill, Tennessee, to encourage each other through life’s highs and lows.
Book one spotlights headstrong Tandy, a successful yet haunted attorney now living back in Orlando where she spent the first eight years of her life on the streets as a junkie’s kid. When a suddenly enforced leave of absence at work leads her to an extended visit with her sisters in Stars Hill, a business oppor­tunity, rekindled romance, and fresh understanding of God’s will soon follow.
Sounds interesting, no? I especially love the fact that the story is about a diverse group of women who are bound together by their creativity. I wonder if it will have any tips and tricks to reveal... Hopefully it will be a good read. I'll let you know how it is!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blog Candy Giveaway!

I told you I'd have something special for you all today, and here it is. I'm doing my first ever Blog Candy Giveaway! Yay! Are you excited? I know I am! I'm a big believer in paying it forward, and ever since I won the Blog Candy from Kathy over at the Daily Marker, I've been wanting to do something in return. Since my craft budget is already pretty slim, mine is more of a mini giveaway, but hey, free stuff is free stuff, am I right?

Here's what you get.

This givaway includes:
3 notecards and matching envelopes from Craft Essentials
1 mini paper pad from Colorbök
1 mini stamp set, 1 acrylic block, and 1 stamp pad from studio g
1 spool of gingham ribbon from American Crafts
10 paper shamrocks from Prima Flowers
12 mini buttons from foof-a-La

There are three ways you can enter this Blog Candy Giveaway.
1. Leave a comment to this post, letting me know what kind of crafts you do or what you'd like to see more of here. Also do let me know that you'd like to be entered, just in case there's anybody out there that doesn't like free stuff. ;o)
2. Sign up to become a follower of this blog. What's a blog for, if not to interact with like-minded people? Following is just our way of supporting each other out here on the web. If you are already a follower, that counts! Let me know in the comments section that you'd like to enter.
3. Spread the word. If you've got a blog, copy the top picture (or all of them, I don't care) and post it, letting people know about the giveaway. The more the merrier! If you don't have a blog, just pass the info and my link along to a couple of friends who might be interested, then let me know in the comments that you've done so. Please be honest. I'll take you at your word.

So that gives each and every person up to three chances to be entered to win this great package. After the deadline, I will copy all the names down on slips of paper (one for each time you entered), fold them up and put them in a jar, let the kids stir and shake them up, and then draw the winner's name. We'll keep this fair and square, not to mention lighthearted and fun.

So the deadline is going to be at 12:00 midnight, (American eastern time zone) on February 28th, 2010. I know that's not a lot of time, but since this Blog Candy Giveaway has a St. Patrick's Day theme, I want to be sure it arrives in plenty of time before the holiday. The winner will be announced here on Monday, March 1st. And yes, I will ship internationally. I know first hand what it's like to live abroad and have difficulty finding cute craft supplies, so if that's you, please enter! Good luck to all of you!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Coloring With Copics, Round #2, On A Card

In a tiny, quaint farming village in Germany my in-laws reside, and it's where I spent the better part of four years after I married my husband. The sun shines down on the verdant, rolling hills dotted with cattle and combines, and life goes about at a different pace than the outside world. There, the yeasty aroma of baking bread fills the households, and the rainbow riot of flowers spill out of window boxes and gardens.

Down the lane and across the street, just before the little duck pond, lives a sweet older woman named Annchen. I think the only thing Annchen loves more than her flowers is children. Alone in her house, she watches for them to pass by so she can come out to greet them and bring them little treats. The children look forward to her smiles and hugs, steps slowing as they reach her garden, just in case she needs extra time.

Annchen shares a birthday with our sweet Dominic, which is coming up in just over a week. Only a special card will do for such a special lady.

I colored this rose to resemble the ones I remember from Annchen's garden. I used Copic makers on Gina K Pure Luxery cardstock, stamped in Tuxedo Black Memento Ink. The colors I used are as follows:

rose: RV11 (Pink), R22 (Light Prawn), R27 (Cadmium Red)
violets: B21 (Baby Blue), BV00 (Mauve Shadow), BV08 (Blue Violet)
leaves: YG06 (Yellowish Green), G21 (Lime Green), G24 (Willow), G05 (Emerald Green)
ribbon: Y15 (Cadmium Yellow), R02 (Flesh)

I added some glitter to the flower centers for a little sparkle, rounded the top corners, accented with green patterned paper from My Mind's Eye, ribbon from American Crafts, and chose some black cardstock to make the colors really stand out. I wanted infuse some elegance, so I broke out those sparkly pop dots that I won in the Blog Candy giveaway from Kathy at The Daily Marker. I think they were the perfect touch, don't you?
I chose not to add a sentiment, since I don't have any in German. Instead I'll write something personal on the inside, have the whole family sign it, and include a recent photo of the boys. I hope you enjoyed it!
Come on back tomorrow, I have something special planned!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Coloring With Copics, Attempt #1

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. My Pure Luxury cardstock and Tuxedo Black Memento ink from Gina K Designs arrived on Saturday, so I finally got to test out my new Copic markers. And I am in LOVE! If you're teetering on the edge of making the plunge to invest in these pricey markers, let me just tell you, they are worth every penny! I love the way the colors blend and shade, and working with them just quieted my spirit and brought me back to the pure joy I experienced when I got my first 64 pack of Crayola crayons. Even though I'm no where near that many colors yet, and it will be a while before I am, you can do quite a lot with just a few. So here's my first try with Copics. I still have to work on my shadowing, but not too bad for a beginner, eh?

And because I always like to know what colors others used in their Copic projects, I'm sharing mine with you. I used BG13 (Mint Green), BG11 (Cool Shadow), C3 (Cool Gray No. 3), and 0 (the colorless blender pen). I also used R27 (Cadmium Red) for the lines on the measuring cup, but I forgot to include it when I took the picture.
What I would recommend to you if you are interested in purchasing a few, is to pick your favorite color family, and then choose two or three markers that vary 2 to 3 digits from each other. Then choose one or two more in a color family that compliments the first. Consider what you'll likely be practicing on. If you'll be coloring flowers, then you'll want your second color family to be greens. If you're coloring people, you'll want to invest in some nice skin tones. And definitely pick up the colorless blender. It removes color, so you'll be able to lighten and shade with it, not to mention erase any little mistakes.

Okay, so other than Copic coloring, I also picked up these alphabet stickers from K&Company. Aren't they cute? Just $3.50 at Walmart for six double-sided sheets! I love all those polkadots and patterns. I'm excited to see what ideas I come up with for using them. Lots of options there.

And last but not least, remember how I was lamenting about bobbin ribbon storage? Well, I stumbled across this handy little tool at Office Max today. According to the tag, it's called a spindle. I have no idea what it's used for (maybe postage stamps? It's a little tall for that though.) but it only cost $1.99, and was exactly what I was looking for without knowing what I was looking for! Lol. To keep the open ribbon from unwinding, I just stuck a mini glue dot on the loose end and attached it to the spool. Hopefully I don't have a problem getting it back off!

And that's all I've got for today. I hope you enjoyed it! Tune in tomorrow for another card. Our friend Annchen in Germany has a birthday coming up and I have something special in mind for her. See you then!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Think Spring

Are you like me? Have you grown tired of this winter weather? Today I decided to think Spring, even if all evidence outside my window declares the contrary. I found a little butterfly stamp set from studio g in the $1 bin at A.C. Moore this morning (I love to look through them. They're usually pretty cute and you can't beat the price!) which were very similar to the butterflies in the stamp set I picked up on my day trip to Hobby Lobby earlier this week. And I loved the sentiment that came with it. I can't get enough sentiment stamps!

I stamped the butterflies in various shades using my Colorbox chalk ink Q, then cut them out and arranged them on the card. I glued them down using a combination of Tombow Mono Multi Glue and 3D dimentional adhesive to (hopefully) gain the appearance of butterflies in flight.

Both the plaid paper and the blue tone-on-tone diamond paper came from the Die Cuts With A View Sweet Stack, which I bought more than a month ago, I believe. There's a TON of adorable patterns in that collection and I've barely made a dent in them. The blue had yummy looking cupcakes all across the top, but I just trimmed that part off and saved it for another project. I love that it has glitter on it for some added interest. I had actually planned on adding a little glitter to the butterflies, but I forgot. Whoops!

No ribbon this time either. I couldn't figure out where to put it, and then I decided it looked fine without. Well, anyway, I hope you like it! Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Storage Tip For Craft Odds And Ends

I've got a storage tip to share with you guys today, for all those little odds and ends you need to keep corraled in your craft space. I really can't take credit for it, I saw this over on Dawn McVey's blog, Raspberry Suite. But I loved it so much, I thought I'd pass it along.

Look at these sweet little storage containers! They're half pint
(8 oz) canning jars. This particular brand is by Ball. I bought them today at Walmart for $3.74 for the four pack. They're clear, so you can see exactly which one you want, and the low shape and wide mouth make it easy to flick through and fish out what you need.

And you can use them to store all kinds of things. In this one I dumped the rest of the pack of felt flowers that I used on the card I made earlier this week. Now I don't have to worry about them getting bent or folded in my big plastic craft box, which holds everything from stamps to punches to tools.

In another I'm storing my buttons, many of which belonged to my great-grandmother when she was alive. When I was a small child, I loved to visit her and sort all her buttons by shape and size and color. My grandmother, her daughter, is a talented seamstress, and she's used many of them in her creations, but she let me pick out a few to keep for myself.

They don't really stack well on top of each other, although I think maybe if you put a circle of cardboard in between each that might work better. But I actually like to stand them on their sides. Since they're kind of squared off, they store easily that way. They don't rock or shift at all. Plus it seems like they take up less space.

As you can see, I filled my other two jars with chipboard letters and bobbins of ribbon. If anyone knows of a good tip to store open ribbon, please let me know! I'm wracking my brains here. I've heard of using a towel rod, but how do you get them on and off? And what about the spools with really small holes? I need something thinner, but I can't think of what.
Anyhoo, I hope you enjoyed my little tip! Happy crafting!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oceanic Stack

A quick craft for today. I chose to make another pair of earrings, because, well, a girl can never have too many earrings, am I right? Plus, I'm considering reopening my Etsy store in the semi-near future. I used to sell jewelry, but if I open it again I'll try adding cards and other little handcrafted items. I did pretty decent before, enough to at least cover my costs and then a little, but it was just so time-consuming. I enjoyed it though. And I'm going to have to do something to support my new papercrafting addiction!

So here's my latest creation. I'm calling them Oceanic Stack, because they remind me of the color-shifting, blue-green waters in all those travel ads of exotic locales. Plus, they're in a stack. Clever, huh?

The beads are cut glass from the Bead Gallery at Michaels. From their depth and clarity, I'd almost swear they were Swarovski crystal if I didn't know better. The photos really don't do them justice. In person, the colors are so vibrant and sparkly.

Hmm. On second thought, I might have to keep this pair for myself. They even match my shirt!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How I Make a Card/Use a Blender Pen

Today I thought I'd do something a little different. Rather than just show you pics of the craft I've done, I thought I'd walk you through the process of how I actually make it. I would have loved to test out my new Copic markers for you, but you need special paper and ink for them and I don't have them yet. I placed an order for Pure Luxury 120 lb weight white paper and Tuxedo Black Memento Ink at Gina K. Designs this afternoon, so hopefully I'll be able to show you just what my little beauties can do in the near future.

I did want to do some coloring today though, so I went with my next best option, the blender pen. I started by stamping this sweet little honey pot in StazOn ink. StazOn is a permanant ink that dries almost instantly and doesn't bleed (though it's still wise to use caution when going over it) which makes it a perfect for using with a blender pen. Keep in mind that because StazOn is permanant, you will need to use StazOn ink remover to clean your stamps afterwards. The paper I'm using is the backside of a sheet of watercolor paper because it has a smoother surface than any of the regular white cardstock I have at the moment.

The next thing I did was make myself a color palette by tapping a little Colorbox Chalk Ink onto an acrylic block. Then I took the brush tip of my Marvy blender pen and scribbled it in the ink to pick up some color. Test it on a piece of scratch paper, then begin applying ink where you want it, picking up more ink, or scribbling off as needed. When you're ready to switch colors, scribble and wipe until the marker writes clear, then pick up a new color.

I also stamped and colored this little honeybee, then carefully cut it out, since I wanted to pop it off the page later. Here you can see me choosing the elements that I'm going to use in the card. I decided on pink cardstock, this stripey patterned paper (the same one I used it last week's birthday card), and some sheer pink polkadot ribbon.

Then I just play around with everything, arranging it in different ways on the card base until I find one I like. I trimmed, rounded corners, and glued down the papers, added some black stitching marks behind the bee, and tied the ribbon into a bow. To keep the the bow in place, I added a mini glue dot under the knot. I decided to add some white stitching around the patterned paper with a white gel pen to tie the stripes and dots together.

Aaannd, I learned that I should save black stitching for last, because somehow in the process of tying the ribbon, I smeared it. If that weren't bad enough, I got off track with the white stitching on the bottom as well. But I kept my cool. I've learned from watching Kristina Werner's videos that mistakes are easily covered up. I brainstormed for a minute, and then selected these cute little felt flower buttons I'd picked up at JoAnn's a couple of weeks ago. I tied some embroidery thread through the centers, then glued them down with Tombow Mono Multi Glue.

And here's the finished result! I think it looks even sweeter with the flowers. I bet you'd never have known I used them to cover up my mistakes if I hadn't told you. ;o) But I'm learning in life that there is nothing wrong with owning up to our mistakes. We're all human, we all make them, and sharing them might just help someone. So there you go.

I had just finished my card and cleaned up my mess when the mailman arrived with a package for me. It was the blog candy I won from Kathy at The Daily Marker! Kathy, if you're reading this, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Just look at all these goodies! I can't wait to share all the projects I make with them with you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Day Trip and Some Goodies!

No craft for today, but I do have a good reason why. My wonderful husband had a special valentine's surprise for me! I'd been bemoaning the fact that we don't have a Hobby Lobby anywhere around here, and I've always wanted to go there. So he planned a day trip to the nearest one, an hour and a half away, then took the boys to a nearby Chuck E. Cheese so I could shop in peace to my heart's content!

It was such a fun day! And Hobby Lobby didn't disappoint. I'd heard that they carry everything in the way of supplies, and boy do they! I think I spent two hours just walking around the store, then another one carefully choosing my purchases.

They had lots and lots of good stuff, but the one thing I *really* wanted to get was some Copic markers. I've been watching dozens and dozens of tutorials on youtube on Copics, and I've been dying to get my hands on some. They don't have them anywhere in town, but Hobby Lobby carried them! Just look at all these beautiful colors. Don't they almost look like candy?

I know that when using Copics, you're supposed to stick with color families just a few numbers off from each other, but they didn't carry a huge supply, and at least half of what they did was out of stock. It's no wonder, they were 30% off, which was a total unexpected blessing. I thought I might be able to pick up 4 or 5, but since they were on sale I wound up with 11 gorgeous shades! I cannot wait to use them!

I also picked up this stamp set from a company that we don't have around here. I think it was called Paper Collection? I might be wrong though. And three pretty sheets of patterned paper. Sorry the colors are a little yellowed. It was late by the time we got back, which meant only indoor lighting. But I just love all those different butterflies and birds. And doesn't that flamingo look like so much fun?

It had a great time, but my feet are good and tired from all that craft exploring! I'm going to put them up and indulge in a little Olympic figure skating. Hope you all had a fantastic day! Talk to you tomorrow!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tied Up In Knots (Over You)

It's Friday, everybody! And not only that, but it's Valentine weekend! My dad and step-mom have graciously offered to watch the boys for a couple of hours tonight, so my husband are going to revisit the date nights of our youth and do dinner and a movie. I can't even tell you how long it's been since we've done that.

We still haven't decided where to go for dinner (and we'd better do it quick, because we're about to head out!) but I think we've settled on the movie Valentine's Day. It's got tons of stars in it, including Taylor Swift (love her!) and it just seemed appropriate given the title. I'll let you know how it is!

On to today's craft. Something easy for today. Valentine earrings!

The beads are Czech glass, both pink textured stones and ruby red bicones. Don't you just love the way the pink beads seem to glow? Hopefully you can see that in the picture. I've been saving these beads for something like a year and a half. I think I found a sweet combo here.

I separated the beads with a silver beadcap to add a little sophistication, and hung them on these darling little silver twining knot links. The pair took me maybe three minutes to make, once I'd decided on the elements (that part took much longer).

What do you think? Just the right thing to wear out to dinner with my husband to celebrate Valentines Day! I hope you all have a fantastic weekend, filled with love and romance!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Flying By To Wish You Happy Birthday

In about an hour I'm going to head out the door to my Thursday night writers group, but I wanted to get today's craft posted first. Just in case any of you out there are wringing your hands in anticipation. Lol.

My son Chaztin has a birthday party to go to tomorrow night (a bounce house party -- how fun is that?!) so rather than going out and buying a card, I decided to make one. I think it turned out really cute. What do you think?

So, the inspiration for this card was the ribbon. I found it today at A. C. Moore for a dollar, and I just loved the vibrant colors and pattern. It seemed almost like little traffic signals or something. I remembered that I'd bought a baby stamp set a couple of weeks ago that included an airplane, so that's the direction I decided to go in.

I wanted the colors on the card to really pop, and the best way I know to do this is to use black cardstock as a base. The trouble with black cardstock is that it has a tendency to look really flat. Clear (or black on black) embossing is a great way to solve this problem. Listen to me, I sound like an expert! Well, I do watch a LOT of how-to videos...

Anyway, I was going to use my wood grain background stamp (currently my ONLY background stamp) but it just didn't seem to go with the theme. So I decided to look through my little stack of $1 studio g stamps I've been picking up, and found this little swirl shape. It's actually from the same little stamp set as the owl sentiment I used earlier this week. I stamped the swirl all over in versamark ink, then sprinkled it with clear embossing powder and took my heat tool to it.

I knew I wanted to use this cloud paper behind the airplane, but I needed some more color. I just happened to have a sheet of multicolored striped paper, and the bottom three stripes were the exact colors I needed to bring out the ribbon -- red green and blue. I centered the cloud paper from the top, and the striped paper from the bottom, overlapping just a little. Then I tied the ribbon over the seam and adheared with a mini glue dot under the knot to keep it in place.

Next, I brought out my new favorite tool, the blender pen! It's really just like a clear magic marker, but you can use it to pick up ink so that you get a nice soft effect. I stamped the airplane in StazOn ink to make sure it wouldn't bleed, then used some Colorbox chalk ink. I just dabbed the ink pad straight onto one of my acrylic blocks (used with clear stamps) and picked up the ink using the brush tip of the blender pen (I first used the fine tip -- that didn't work well). Make sure you have some scratch paper nearby to rub some of the color off and also to clean your blender pen between colors. All you do to clean it is scribble on the paper until no color comes off. You can see I tried to do a little shading. I still have some practicing to do.
To add some dimention, I popped off the airplane strip (actually watercolor paper, though I think white cardstock would also work just as well since there's no actual water involved) with dimentional adhesive.

Normally, I just leave my cards blank so that the person (or myself) who will be giving it can write their own sentiment inside, but since this one is for my eight-year-old to give, I figured I'd just write something for him so all he has to do is sign his name. I cannot write straight to save my life, so I again used one of my acrylic blocks as a guide, just underneath each line I was writing. Worked like a charm! The pen I used was a Signo Broad white gel pen, which is the one recommended my Kristina Werner on her blog (see link on sidebar). I bought it from a website called Trendy Right Now for $2.99 with free shipping. I even paid via paypal.

So that's the craft for today! I hope you enjoyed it and are feeling inspired to go out there and get your craft on!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Own Personal Aquarium

So today's project is one I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. We did these in my son Chaztin's second grade class one day when I was volunteering. They're mini personalized aquariums! Aren't they cute? And they were super easy to make.

All you need is:
1 plastic zip top baggie per child (colored zips are nice to make sure they're closed tightly, but clear will also work)
a half-dollar sized squirt of blue gel toothpaste
permanant markers in a variety of colors
ocean themed stickers (optional)

In my case, we don't use blue gel toothpaste, so I went and bought a trial size. The only one I could find in blue gel had these tiny breath strip crystals, which actually turned out to look almost like bubbles.

Squirt your toothpaste inside the baggie, press out the air and seal. Then mush it all around with your hands so that it's fairly evenly distributed. This can be especially fun for the little ones. It's kind of like rolling out thin playdoh without any of the mess or clean up!

On my first attempt I used regular washable markers, which did not stick to the plastic. That's why I didn't post this project right away. I had to wait until I got some permanant ones. I would recommend that you do not use the extra fine tip, as those tend to just push the toothpaste around and not leave much color. These here are the regular fine tip Bic Mark It markers, and you can see that the color laid down very easily.

Then let the kids embellish to their hearts desire! In class, we did this project to coincide with the book "Commotion in the Ocean" by Giles Andreae and David Wojtowycz and an open discussion on sea life. You could do the same, or you could do this as a fun craft for an ocean-themed birthday party, or even just a boredom-buster on a rainy day.

In class, the teacher also allowed the kids to use stickers (though she encouraged them to draw as much as they could) but since I didn't have any, I just stuck with free hand drawings. It turned out pretty nifty, don't you think? I hope you'll enjoy doing this project with the little ones in your life!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Short Story Submission

Today I spent the afternoon editing that short story I wrote for the Writer's Digest Your Story #24 contest. The night before I got sick, the story stood at 871 words, and I needed to get down to 750 to qualify. I had planned to spend my friday morning at Tim Horton's editing, but by the time the sun rose that day, I was sicker than a dog. The editing got set aside.

Since the contest ends tomorrow, there was no more putting it off. I got my butt in a chair and stayed there until I got it done. I had a bit of a stall at 760 words... it's so hard to cut an already short piece without losing key elements of character development, but I think I finally pulled off a decent manuscript.

After about 2 1/2 hours of reworking and rewording, switching around and swapping, I had exactly 750 words. It was time to say enough is enough and send it off to the good people at Writer's Digest. With a little luck, I'll be hearing from them in the next couple weeks! ;o) The editors will choose the top five stories, which will be posted online for people to vote on. The number one vote-getter will be published in a future issue of Writer's Digest magazine.

I can't wait to see how I do!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Owl Always Love You

Whew! It's been a rough week and a half around here. Let me just say that 5 people sick with a stomach virus sharing one bathroom is NOT pretty. But at least that's over. If any of you are going through something similar at your house, believe me, I sympathize. Here's hoping that all of you out there in bloggerville are doing well and staying strong and healthy.

Well, today my husband had off work, and we took advantage of the morning while the kids were in school and went shopping together. Thanks to four 40% off coupons (one each in two stores) I was able to pick up a few papercrafting supplies that I've had on my wish list for a while now, including a heat embossing tool, clear embossing powder, a versamark pad, and a wood grain background stamp. And since A.C. Moore currently has all their loose scrapbooking paper on sale at 40% off, I was able to pick up some pretty patterns as well.

Then I came home and decided to put all my lovely new tools to use.

I had a completely different card in mind using a completely different stamp set, but it didn't seem to be working out, so I ended up going in a new direction. Papercrafting, as I'm learning, is all about letting your supplies speak to you and going with the flow.

So I stamped the wood grain stamp with the versamark pad, and embossed it using the clear embossing powder and the heat tool. And let me tell ya, that thing gets HOT. You've really got to keep the stream of air moving, and in a direction AWAY from your fingertips. On this kraft colored card stock, it came out looking almost like brown ink, but the embossing did add a nice texture to the card.

After trying the green leaf paper in a few different ways, I realized that with the wood grain stamp it almost looked like a tree (until then I was still going in the other direction) so I cut out another piece and layered the two like leafy branches.

I remembered that I'd picked up one of those little $1 studio g stamp sets with an owl theme, so I dug that out and thought the sentiment was perfect, but I wasn't sure about the owl stamp. Luckily, I'd also grabbed a sheet of paper with owls on it this morning, so I decided to cut one out, then on second thought, cut out two. The second, yellow owl added a shot of sunny color, plus it balanced out the blank space on the sentiment nicely.

And I just happened to have a spool of ribbon from a different project over a year ago that matched perfectly. And thanks to the notecard notebooks I made last month, I had a spare cream colored envelope that was just the right size for the card.

The next time I make a card like this, I think I'll try doing some masking. I'll cut a tree trunk silouette out of scrap paper, and stamp in the blank space onto the card to make the wood grain stamp look more like an actual tree. But even as it is, I think it turned out pretty cute. What do you think?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Out Sick

I apologize for the lack of posts last friday and today. My family and I are currently in the grips of a very nasty stomach flu. Hopefully we'll be back to normal in a day or two. In the meantime, I hope you're doing a little creating of your own!


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