Friday, May 29, 2015

Stick to the Sketch

Sadly Sketchbook 2015 has come to an end. There were so many good sketches provided with the class that I know I'll refer back to the content again and again. We were issued one last class challenge to create a project using a sketch just as it was shown. I followed the sketch exactly with the exception of one tiny detail.

I pulled out some papers and cards from the March Messy Box. Since I haven't used any of these kits for Project Life, I thought I better start putting the cards to use before they overwhelm me. I used one 4x6 to mat my photo and then die cut circles from six of the 3x3 cards.

Using some adhesive cork, I stamped images and letters and then die cut those out as well. Some typed journaling and the date and I was all done. I have to say, I'm glad that my Big Shot is still getting plenty of use after the addition of my Cricut Explore Air.

I hope to see you back on Monday, I have a BIG announcement that you're not going to want to miss! Have a wonderful weekend! :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Project Life {April 2015}

I always enjoy putting my Project Life pages together, but sometimes it all comes together more easily than others. For me a lot of the pressure is removed when I don't worry about the journaling. I realize that recording the stories that go with the photos is important, but for me there are a variety of reasons as to why I'm less inclined to add journaling to my projects.

For the front page, I did want to write my thoughts down about a new project that I undertook in April because I had a big internal debate about starting it (and then later about letting it go). There was one last outing with my sister before she headed back home, mini cupcakes for a get together with the hubs's family, and a moment captured of Pound Cake and Biscuit bird watching.

This was the first time I was able to incorporate one of Brandi's doodles that I'd bought from her shop, The Shiny Bits into a project. I printed the doodle on watercolor paper and then used a Tim Holtz Distress Marker to add a little color.

I really love how the back page came together. Green is my favorite color, but I don't often scrap with it and this page makes me wonder why. I hand wrote some journaling about our relaxed April and the book I read all month yet didn't finish. I included photos of a home cooked meal, happy mail, and a cute email from my mom, a woman of few words. :) And in looking back at my photos, I realized there is a typo in my top journaling card. ack!

Three of the cards are ones that I made and printed at home. I used one of my Day of the Week Tab free printables, a grid dot journaling card, and a fun one that provides space for journaling and a mini flair.

So that's it for our April and it's crazy to think it's just about time to work on May!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Perfectly Imperfect, Wherever You Are

On Monday I shared a free cut file along with a lot of thoughts about using the Cricut Explore Air. Now I'm back to show you the layout I made with that chevron background. It goes with a couple of pocket pages from our trip to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens that I shared here.

The title is made up of two contrasting fonts which was what we focused on in week 4 of Type by Ali Edwards. Since I wanted the title and the background cut file to stand out, I kept the rest of the page very simple. Just some vellum shapes, wood bits, and a mini flair.

The last layout for this outing was inspired by a sketch from Kelly Purkey's Sketchbook 2015 class. The class is halfway through and as much as I enjoyed the 2014 class, this one is even better. With such bold patterns, I once again found myself limiting the supplies used to embellish my page.

If you wind up using my cut file, let me know, I'd love to see what you do with it!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Working my Cricut

I mentioned a little while ago that I finally bought an electronic die cutting machine. I bought the Cricut Explore Air and now that I've had a chance to use it in a variety of ways, I thought I'd share with you what I've learned so far. This is a lengthy post, so my apologies but if you make it to the bottom, there's a free cut file for you. :)

To date there have only been two downsides for me. First, while it hasn't been an issue yet, I don't like that their design application, Design Space, can only function through their website. That means if their site is down or if you don't have internet service, you can't use your machine. I would much rather it be a program that you install and therefore can be used any time.

Second is the write feature. I loved how my title came out on a recent project, but later I went to try out a design for a card and halfway through writing, the pen (that came with the machine) began showing signs of running out of ink. This was only the second time using the pen, so I was pretty unamused. Not only that, but every time it completed it's path, there was a dark ink dot. I read some blogs that say several other types of pens will work. I tried an Infinity pen by The Write Dudes, and it did work as you can see below, but there was again a dark spot where the pen began and ended writing.

Ok, now that the negatives are out of the way, I can tell you that I'm really happy with how easy it has been to design, cut, and write. Not having anything to compare Design Space to, I have found it clean, simple, and user friendly. The couple of times I have not been able to figure out how to do something, a search on Google has led me to the solution. For right now, the Cricut sits on my desk and I've been quick to turn it on and cut out titles because I can design and cut something in the same amount of time it would take me to go through my letter stickers and decide on a set to use.

I've been quite impressed with the cuts the machine makes, most recently from an inline font called Ariq. I was hesitant to use the font at the size I did because I wasn't sure it would cut cleanly, but apparently I had nothing to worry about. Also, it was cut from a book page which I thought would be more susceptible to tearing, and again, I had no reason to sweat it. I changed the selection dial for material being cut to "Paper" and it that was that. You can see in my photo that I did have a little trouble getting the letters off the cutting mat and so some edges are a little jagged, but that was due to my hastiness.

My experimenting has also included designing my first cut file. The chevron pattern is on a rectangle canvas that I used for a full 9x12 background. This is free for your personal use and you can download it here, via Google Drive, no login needed. The download is a ZIP file that includes a PNG file of the image. If I have more cut files to share in the future, I might look into creating SVG files as well.

So there are my initial thoughts on the Cricut Explore Air. While I'm by no means an expert, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. I'll be back later in the week to share the full layout I made using the cut file. See ya then! :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Our Northeastern Adventure Pt. 4

Working on last year's photos, I'd made these layouts shortly before NSD. I needed to wait to share them because I had used one of my new flair designs (Hashtag) on this first layout. Three new sets have hit the shop along with a special set designed by Mandy Elliott of Record Life Blog. There's still time to use the coupon code, MANDY20 to take 20% off your entire merchandise total, but you need to do your shopping before midnight, May 14th. :)

If you can believe it, this layout was made with one 12x12 piece of paper, one 4x6 journaling card, and a scrap of vellum. The branding strip of the paper had those cute hearts and then I cut apart the card in order to add stamped elements to the design. I printed some labels and my journaling on vellum and then topped it all off with mini flair and black enamel dots.

This layout was one of those that I had to fiddle with in order to figure out how I wanted to use the triangles. I cut them from a sheet of patterned paper, but then I didn't know how to arrange them. In the end I arranged them in slightly messy rows above and below my photos, leaving some spots blank.

I picked a few different types of embellishments to make clusters around the page, but I think my favorite addition to the page might be the stamping on the red triangles.

I hope you all have a great rest of the week, I'll be back next week with more projects to share! :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Guest Designer {Mandy Elliott}

Hello, hello! Please welcome Mandy Elliott as this month's guest and we've cooked up something special for you all. More about that in a bit, but first let me tell you about Mandy.

Mandy and I recently "met" on Instagram and I was immediately drawn to her weekly prompts for #ThisWeek. She has a style that is clean and simple yet playful and she isn't afraid to add dimension to her projects with the use of wood veneer, acrylic words, and of course flair. Her shaker pockets are absolutely swoon-worthy!

Mandy also uses digital pieces to create hybrid elements and is currently on the Creative Teams of One Little Bird, Big City Quiet, and Little Lamm & Co. In addition to that, you can also find her work as Design Team member to Kellie Stamps and Color Cast Designs. She's quite the mover and shaker, huh? Keep up with all that she's doing at her website, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.

With today's announcement, there is also a shop update which includes (drum roll, please) an exclusive set of mini flair designed by Mandy herself. It's called #AddieAdventure and is a charming set of dog themed flair. This set will only be around for a limited time so be sure not to miss it.

Head over to Mandy's blog and prepared to be inspired by the darling project that she has created, say hi, and pick up a coupon code to do some shopping!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Display

I've been jumping around with my projects these past couple of weeks, and it's been fun to be spontaneous with what I choose to work on next. What's not so fun are the 3 rather large piles that I keep having to move around. Because of that, I was going to pass on Mandy's #ThisWeek prompt and try to finish some things I'd started. But after finding time to listen to Ali's third lesson in Type and reading the first lesson of Kelly Purkey's Sketchbook 2015 class, I had to put it all together into a layout.

Mandy's prompt this week is "brave" and while many different ideas came to mind, I kept coming back around to how much of my life is now shared through various social media platforms. It may not be a big deal to many, but for me the decision did not come lightly. Putting myself out there meant that I had to feel confident enough in myself and what I created to share it with the world.

My title was written using the write feature on my Cricut Explore. I'll be playing around with that more in the future for sure. All of the supplies except for the date stamp are from the March Messy Box by A Beautiful Mess. I had hoped to use the quote below on my page, but it didn't work out. Instead I made a pretty filler card that I can use on my Project Life pages or in a Pocket Letter. :)

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.
-Bréne Brown

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My NSD 2015 Projects

Did you find time to get crafty over the weekend in honor of National Scrapbooking Day? I was able to squeeze in some projects between working and enjoying the nice weather. I played along with the challenges offered at Studio Calico and even was able to participate in one of the live chats they held.

First, I made a card for my Dad's upcoming birthday. I had designed 3 cut files to use on a layout based on a project by Nicole Nowosad. She is offering the cut files for free, but they only work with the Silhouette. Once cut, it took me a long, long time to finally decide on an arrangement for my triangles. That's probably one reason this is all I got made on Saturday. ;)

On Sunday I got two layouts made. First up is the title page for our trip to Abu Dhabi. I used a couple of Project Life cards and some paper that I printed. I also cut a globe shape with my Cricut that coincidentally was the perfect size for the round chipboard sticker.

For my last project, I made a page from our recent visit to see the cherry blossoms. There will be another page facing it that is in process on my desk. I normally wouldn't have used either the paper with the numbers on it or the large clock face, but it definitely seemed like spring was late in arriving, so it kind of worked for me.

I cut the globe and flowers with my Cricut using PNG files from flaticon. They have a huge database of free icons for download in a variety of sizes and file types. It's proven to be a great resource since I got my die cutting machine.

Happy Tuesday, hope you have a lovely day! :)

Friday, May 1, 2015

A Special Collaboration

I've been very lucky to meet so many wonderful people over the internet, and I've been even more lucky to work with some of them in various ways, all for the end result of creating and sharing.

Today I'm excited to announce a special collaboration with Brandi Kincaid of The Shiny Bits. Brandi has embarked on #The100DayProject like I have, but her goal is 100 days of doodles and man, can she doodle! She was kind enough at the start of her project to offer up the daily drawings to whoever might want one. Mine is coming soon and I'm anxiously awaiting its arrival.

I reached out to her about turning some of her doodles into mini flair and was thrilled when she said yes. Brandi has designed 3 exclusive sets of mini flair, each with its own theme and you can buy them in my Etsy shop. Hurry though, these won't be around for forever!

I used two mini flair from the Keep Going set on my 9x12 pocket page of our recent trip to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. I can also see flair from that set being perfect for an encouragement card.

Head over to Brandi's blog and see the project she has made. She's got a wonderful style and is a lovely storyteller, so be prepared to stick around for a bit. If flair aren't your cup of tea, not to worry, Brandi is hard at work putting the finishing touches on her store where you'll be able to purchase her artworks.

**Update - Brandi's artwork is now available for purchase at The Shiny Bits!**