Thursday, February 28

Detached From The World

Yes I was for one whole day.  Imagine that?  No telephone.  No internet.  For one freakin' day.  All I remember was hearing the snow plow truck in our intersection, and that's it.  My internet session was gone.  My daily routine ruined.  Our telephone company must be very mad at the road commission for clearing their telephone box from the road.
Well, that gave me a reason to do other things.  

Like I said in my previous blog, my goal this month is to finish my Year-O-Graphy Album, and finish my craft room.  And I did!  It took me the whole afternoon to do the 17 pages, and the rest of the night in organizing, cleaning and arranging my planet.  I was really glad that I now have Photoshop Elements, because it helped me with cropping, fixing and printing photos.  

And finally, after many months, I was able to finish my craft room.  No more excuses not to create more pages, cards or anything else.  My planet is ready to go.  I just wish that I can keep it clean, and organized in the following days. 

After that, I saw the remnants of a die cut alphabet bundle I bought from Walmart last year.  I couldn't throw them away because I know I'll have some good use out of them.  And since I was cleaning up and finishing my craft room, I had to make a decision.  What I did was get my square puncher, and punched out some letters from these pages.  So I was able to make some "negative" alpha die cuts with them.  Now I feel better throwing the rest away.

My darling hubby volun"told" me to make 25 entry numbers for the coming Chili Cooking Contest this weekend.  I decided to use my Cricut machine with this project to save time.  A few weeks ago I saw on the message boards that some ladies used Stampin' Mist Stamp Cleaner by Stampin' Up to clean their Cricut cutting mats, and make them sticky again.  Good thing I'm not good at throwing stuff away.  I took one of my old old mats, and did exactly that.  I sprayed it with the Stampin' Mist, scraped the surface, and I tell you, I was really amazed to feel the adhesive sticky like new.  You can see the final product, but I'm still thinking if I can add more to it.  I have a day to do that.  I just don't want to make it too special, because they might end up just throwing them away.  I just hope DH wins the Chili Cookoff, like he always did when he was in the service.

Now I have to start making the "March page" for my 2008 calendar.  And I'm in the mood for making cards.  And I still have projects to do!  No more excuses this time now that my craft room, which I call my "planet", is done.

Tuesday, February 26

Scrapbooking Goodies

Yesterday, I had a chance to go to two craft stores:  Michael's and Joann's.  Armed with 40% and 50% coupons, I indulged a little bit.  However, before going to these stores, I conditioned my mind that I won't be buying any more paper, stickers, albums, embellishments, inkpads, pens or adhesive, because I already have a lot of them.  First stop:  Michael's.  What I like about Michael's is that they would accept discount coupons from Joann's.  I did enjoy looking around the craft aisles.  They had an area of scrapbooking stuff at 70% off.  But guess what?  They're almost empty!  In a way, I'm glad they were, so I won't be compelled to buy anything because they're cheap.  I can say I'm proud of myself because I got out of Michael's with 4 colors of DMC thread and Gorilla Glue

Next stop:  Joann's.  I've always liked Joann's better than Michael's.  They're more generous with discount coupons and sale promotions.  I found the book that I wasn't able to buy last week, and it was a good price with my 40% discount coupon.  It's called Digital Designs for Scrapbooking 2 by Renee Pearson.  I can't wait to go through this book, page by page, and try creating my own digital elements.  I also bought another book called The Pop-Up Book by Paul Jackson with my 50% discount coupon.  My husband and I are fascinated with pop-up books and cards.  We do have a collection.  I'd like to try creating my own, starting maybe with cards.  My best buy would be the Scalloped Box Set by Colorbok for $2.97 (originally $9.99).  One disappointment was buying the Sizzix Texture Starter Kit (on sale at 40%), because when I got home, I realized I already have the exact same one.  Don't you hate it when that happens???    So now I have a reason to go back and return it.  I also bought some small items like daubers and pen for Pearl Ex.  I left Joann's with 10 items, and I think that's not so bad. 

Saturday, February 23

Photoshop Crazy

I don't know what's with me today.  But I just wanted to learn how to do free form text in my digital layouts.  You know, like putting text in a certain shape or form.  Or if I want my text in a spiral, or zigzag...  I just had to know!  So I went crazy searching on the internet on how to do that.  It turned out, you can't do that with Photoshop Elements 6, the one I have.  You can only do that with Photoshop CS3, which I don't have, and which is also very expensive at $649.  But you can download it from the Adobe website and use it for 30 days.  After that, you have to buy it.  So, just for the sake of learning the free form text thingy, I downloaded the Photoshop CS3 (which took a long time due to the huge file!).  If you have little or no experience with Photoshop, like me, it's hard.  After many hours of trial and error, I finally learned the trick.  But I'm not confident enough to tell you how.  I have to practice and practice.  What I plan to do is make these text templates using Photoshop CS3 and incorporate them in Photoshop Elements 6.  I might as well do as many as I can during the 30 day trial period.  And when I get the hang of Photoshop Elements 6, then maybe I can convince my husband to buy me the Photoshop CS3.  Sigh, I just find the CS3 too complicated!

Anyway while searching the internet, I somehow got back to the Creating Keepsakes Magazine.  They featured a computer trick on how to create shaped journaling.  The video that came with it is really good.  I wish I can kidnap the lady who did the tutorial so she can teach me the ins and outs of Photoshop.  Anyway, it comes with a free download of text templates.  And a bonus digital kit by Scrapgirls:  Eternal Love.  Get them all here.  Even though it's 12 midnight, I just had to make a page using this kit.  I do like this one :)

Now time for me to go to bed....

Wednesday, February 20

Review: Ranger Melting Pot

I finally used my Ranger Melting Pot after months of it sitting in its packaging. The thing I like about this melting pot is that you can do more with your UTEE, and have a different way of using your stamps. 

The portability of this tool is really good, because you can melt away right in your craft room, or anywhere else you like. One thing I'm a little disappointed about is it really takes a while to melt the UTEE, and longer to keep the UTEE in its melted state. I don't like waiting, so good thing I have a heat gun to speed up the melting process. It helps if you have the separate Melting Pot Project Pan, so you don't have to clean everytime. I only have one extra, but would like to buy more for different color UTEEs. Ranger also claims that their melting pot can melt wax, glue, soap, and candy, and can also be used to cure Polymer Clay. Well, I'm happy with melting UTEE for now, but would like to try the BeesWax too. Just to remind you that proper ventilation is best when melting with the melting pot.

More Digital Freebies

I have three scrapbook magazine subscriptions.  And I would often visit their website to check out stuff, especially the freebies.  Yesterday, I visited Creating Keepsakes and Memory Makers.  This morning, I browsed through Simple Scrapbooks.  There are supposedly 3 digital kits for FREE, but only one of them is available for download, which is the Refresh Kit from Scrap Girls.  Hey, one is better than nothing.  And it's a big kit.  And it's FREE.  Don't you love that word?  This is one of my takes from the Refresh Kit, which you can get here.

Speaking of digital, yesterday i went to the nearest Joann's to do some shopping.  I saw a book on how to create your own digital elements - from pages to embellishments.  So I said, it's perfect to buy with my 40% coupon.  And since I have come to like digital scrapbooking, I might as well try creating my own.  After leaving the store with my new book, I excitedly started reading the book while still in the car.  In the introduction, it said something about a CD that comes with the book.  Now, wait a minute... I don't see any CD in here!  So I had to beg my husband to go back to the store.  And to make the long story short, that was the last book of it they have available, and therefore I can't buy the darn book for not having the CD.  In other words, I wasted a 40% Off coupon.  And I guess I'll just be an end-user for digital scrapbooking.... for now!

Also, I saw a really nice black plastic drawer organizer that's perfect for scrapbooking, for $69.99.  It's the Storage Solutions Scrapbook Cart.  It is really nice.  And stackable too!  The top 2 drawers have dividers for embellishments and small tools.  And the rest would fit 12 x 12 paper.  You can grab these drawers off the frame, and take them with you anywhere.  If I had more space in my craftroom, I would have bought that with the 50% coupon.

Tuesday, February 19

Digital Freebies

I just read the February 08 issue of Memory Makers, and they have a digital kit by Michelle Coleman available for download FREE.  It's called Wild Sorbet.  I made a digital layout about my niece using her kit, with the aid of Memory Mixer.  

I used the fonts that came in my computer.  I just love the colors, they're adorable!  And I especially like the acrylic embellishments!  You can get the free kit here.   

Meanwhile, I was browsing through the Creating Keepsakes website, and I chanced upon more free downloads.  I don't know, but I just feel quite girly lately, so I got one of their freebies and made it my wall paper. 

Isn't it cute???  Yeah, my pet hippo said so!  You can get them here and here.

Monday, February 18

Playing with UTEE

UTEE stands for Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel.  It's similar to embossing powder, only a lot thicker.  I played with it using the Ranger Melting Pot and some of my ceramic molds.  I saw these products demo'ed on the Carol Duvall Show of DIY Network on DirecTV.  After watching, I went online and bought the melting pot right away.  In the demo, they used cookie cutters to make shapes out of the melted UTEE.  Yes, I already have a set of cookie cutters, but I've been thinking about using some of my small ceramic molds and see if it would work.  It took a while to melt the UTEE using the melting pot, and it does give out a certain smell, so good ventilation is advised when doing this.  I added a few drops of Suze Weinberg's To Dye For and a dab of Pearl Ex to add some color.  I realized that the UTEE gets hard really fast - like seconds, after pouring from the pot.  So you really have to be fast, but very controlled, in pouring the melted UTEE into the mold.  It worked!  

Whatever the shape of the mold, the melted UTEE followed it.  I was really happy to see the end product.  The best thing about the UTEE is that, if you make a mistake, or you don't like the outcome, you can just put it back in the melting pot, and melt away.  I also tried to put UTEE straight into the mold, and melt it there using my heat gun.  That didn't work.  The melted UTEE just stuck there.  I ruined one mold because of that.  So you really have to melt and pour using the melting pot.  The one thing that frustrated me is that the melting pot takes really long to heat up and maintain the UTEE in its liquid form.  So, impatient me, I took out my heat gun, and helped melt the UTEE with it.  That was a lot better.  Now, my brain is brewing up with ideas on what I can do with the UTEE, especially now that I know I can use my ceramic molds.  I can make my own embellishments, pendants, buttons, and a whole lot more.  I have to dig in my ceramic mold stash and look for other small designs.

Today is a good day :)

Sunday, February 17

Organizing Brads

I'm currently in the process of finishing my craft room.  I'm in the organizing stage.  I realized I have so many brads that I don't even use!  I put them in small canisters that were in a drawer.  I don't even know what shape or style I have, that when I go to a craft store and see brads, I end up buying more of the same shape or style.  Giving it some thought, I realized I don't use these brads enough, and that's because they were hidden somewhere.  So I thought I should keep my brads in a way where I can see them so I will use them. 

I ended up using a cork board I bought from the 100 Yen Store in Japan (their version of Dollar Stores), and just pushing all my brads against it.  Sometimes I would use a piercing tool (Bazzil In Stitch Pierching Tool) to put holes in the cork board, so it would be easier to push the brads in.  You can use a push pin or anything you think you can poke a hole with.  I was actually surprised that I filled up the entire cork board with brads.  It kinda looked like an art piece with brads as a medium!  So now, with just one reach, it will be easier for me to browse through my brads.  I can see what color, shape, or style I need for my pages.  And I promised myself not to buy any more brads until I use the ones in this cork board.

However, I still have a lot of alphabet brads.  There is no more space in this cork board for them.  And even if I have another of the same size of cork board, all my alphabet brads won't fit.  One day, while I was opening more boxes from storage, I found a new pair of Timberland boots.  And guess what was inside them boots?  It's some sort of gray styro foam, but not exactly styro.  I don't know, but I just couldn't throw them away.  I know I could use them for something.  So while I was organizing my brads, I realized the styro from my boots is dense enough for me to push all those alphabet brads in.  I got a pair, so now I have a pair of styro filled with alphabet brads.  They're thickness is enough for me to fill it up with brads back to back.

And now, all my brads are in arms reach.  My goal is to use them more in my pages.  Stop hoarding, Joan!  Use those brads!

Saturday, February 16

We Did It!!!

DH and I finally completed our beginner's course in Stained Glass.  After 4 sessions of 3 hours each, and 75 minutes of driving one way, we finished our suncatchers.  I am really glad to have a hands-on learning of the craft.  

When we bought a stained glass studio from Ms. Mary James a few months ago, a lot of books and videos about stained glass come with it.  However to me, it just won't be enough to learn it.  I need somebody to actually teach me, and to answer any question I have during the process.  To me, the critical parts are cutting glass, grinding and soldering.  DH said this hobby involves a lot of work, which means he doesn't enjoy it!  Hehe.  But I'm still glad that we studied together.  I'm excited to do my first project on my own.  But I still want to take the advance course, so I'll have more confidence in the future.  I just love to look at what I did, hanging right there at my craft window.  It's like, "I made that one!"  Yeah, I'm proud of myself.  Our instructor, Ms. Shirley Triplett of Stained Glass Cabinet Co, said that when you start making your own projects, and you look back at that very first one you made, you'll actually think it's your worst ever.  I don't see it as ugly, yet, since it's my "one and only."  I already have a place to put the two suncatchers we made.  But right now, it would be temporarily in my planet, until spring comes.  And that's also the time I can start setting up my stained glass studio.  I can't wait!

Thursday, February 14

Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) Trade Shows

This is one of my ultimate dreams as a crafter.  I hope one day I can attend the CHA Trade Show and see the latest trends and products in the craft market.  Only yesterday, they ended the 3-day Winter CHA in Anaheim CA, where my parents live.  I so wish I was there!  But of course, this trade show is not like other trade shows where anybody can just walk in and take a look.  You have to have and prove you have a craft and hobby related business to be able to attend the trade show.  And there are certain dollar amounts of income required as a minimum.  I guess, it will take a long time before I'm even qualified. 

So for people like us who are at the end of the "craft chain", who just buys products in retail and indulges in our own little craft corner or craft room, all we can do for now is drool.  I guess there's nothing wrong with that.  We'll see these new products sooner or later.  And we'll have those products in our hands one way or another.

Without further ado, let's indulge ourselves in the photos from the latest Winter CHA.  Special thanks to Miranda of Lifetime Moments for posting photos in their message board.  Click HERE to see photos from different manufacturers.

By the way, the next CHA Trade Show will be in Illinois in July.

Wednesday, February 13

REVIEW: OTT-Lite Lighting

When I started scrapbooking in Japan, I was just using an ordinary table lamp I bought for like $10 in the department store. It was hard to scrapbook, especially at night because I can't really see the colors so well. It was hard to combine colors. So I made my research on the message boards and on the internet, and I learned that a lot of crafters use the OTT-Lite True Color lamps. It claims to make color matching easy, increases clarity, reduces eyestrain and minimizes glare. So after little deliberation, and knowing that I need to invest on a good lamp if I'm serious about my crafts, I decided to buy the OTT-LITE® TrueColorTM FlexArm Plus Lamp from Joann's. It was on sale at 50%, plus free shipping. The first time I turned it on, I loved it. Doing crafts was easy on my eyes after that, especially at night. I always like natural lighting when I do my crafts, and my OTT-Lite met that requirement.

Joann's is having a sale of up to 50% on their OTT-Lite Lamps right now. The lamp I have in fact is now only $84.99 (originally $169.99), plus free shipping for a limited time. I know it's still not cheap despite the discount, but I guarantee that it's a really good investment for your hobby.

Tuesday, February 12

Monday is Crochet Day

After finishing my Seat Cover Project, (which now I kinda don't like the color combination!  It's too Christmasy!  LOL), I decided to take a break from crocheting.  On Sunday, while I was browsing through my old crochet magazines from storage I found this pattern, and I said to myself, "I'd like to wear that!"  So on crochet day Monday, I started.  What really amazes me, and frustrates me at the same time, about crocheting clothes, is that I can't seem to picture what I'm doing to be the same as the photo in the magazine.  I'm like, which part of the blouse is this?  And I'd go to the instructions again, and even redo everything a few times to make sure that I'm not making a mistake.  And just like any other craft, I just can't stop because I can't wait to see the end product.  Right now, with the looks of what I have crocheted so far, I have no idea which part of the blouse it is.  And the pattern/instruction is not specific enough to let you know.  In fact, I have never crocheted an article of clothing that looks exactly the same as the photo in the pattern.  I just had to tweak a little bit for it to fit me.  Somehow, I kinda like that, because the project ends up to be an "original" work. 

We'll see how this one will end up...  I wonder and I'm excited!

Saturday, February 9

Our Shot at Stained Glass

We love stained glass lamps.  Don't even ask how many we have right now.  Everytime my husband and I go to a furniture store, our eyes just bulge out when we see stained glass lamps.  Like what I said in another blog entry, DH and I have been studying the stained glass craft.  In the beginner's class, we learn the copper-foil way.

The first step is choosing the pattern, and cutting it.  That is easy.  Next comes cutting glass.  It was really a relief to learn how to do this part.  People often think that glass is so delicate to handle.  I figured that would be the culminating point of the study.  When I broke my first glass the right way, I was happy.  But then, along the way you realize that there are quite a few things to consider when cutting glass - from the type of glass, the thickness, the cutter you are using, the way you hold the cutter, how you apply pressure, and more.  After cutting comes the grinding to smoothen the sides.  That wasn't so bad.  The tricky part is making sure that the glass almost exactly takes the shape of a particular pattern piece.  Then you put the foil around each piece of glass, which you will see in the photo in this blog.  That's actually Duane's project.  I haven't foiled mine, yet.  Hehehe...

Next class, we'll learn how to put together each piece by soldering. 

I have no idea what happens after that.

Friday is Sims2 Day

Since I discovered The Sims computer game, I have been hooked.  If I remember it right, it was in 2000 when I started playing the addicting game.  You create people (sims) and you play like they have a life of their own.  They have basic needs, families, friends, jobs, houses.  Then you buy the Expansion Packs to add on to your game, which I all have.  Back then, the game was only in 2D.  All I thought about was the game.  I would be crazy downloading stuff for my game from the internet.  My favorite site was The Sims Resource.  While I'm commuting to work, I would think about The Sims, and plan what I'll do with my sims when I get home.  It will take me hours to play.  When I moved to Japan, I brought all my sims games with me, and I would still play for hours and hours.  It's the only game I play on the computer.  I don't like any of the other simulation games, role playing or war games.  They're too realistic it scares me.  When The Sims 2 came out, I was very excited.  This time, the game is in 3D.  Man it looks a lot better and the detail in the graphics is just great.  I was all the more hooked.  I made sure I have the new expansion pack upon release.

Without further ado, I tell you now that after over a year of not "really" playing this favorite game of mine, I played it yesterday from approximately 10:30 AM to 12:30 am.  I kid you not, I was still able to prepare lunch and do some chores.  But I'd be honest with you because I just had some snacks for dinner, since my husband was at work.

And I had a lot of fun.  So there.

Thursday, February 7

Thursday is my Cross Stitch Day

I'm doing a pretty good job in following the schedule I made for myself when it comes to my many hobbies.  Today is cross stitch day.

I woke up early this morning and seeing the sunlight striking the white snow made my day.  I love the way the snow sparkles like gazillions of diamonds on the ground.  I opened the blinds and slid the curtains to the side and the whole inside of the house was just nice and bright.  Perfect time to do some cross-stitching.

This project I'm working on is "Bend In The Road" by the famous Cezanne.  I got the pattern for free at The Cross Stitch Collectibles many many months ago.  In fact, we were still in Japan.  I started doing this pattern soon after I finished my Midnight Horses, which took me over two years to finish.  After Midnight Horses, I told myself, my next cross stitch project would be something of color, and a little smaller.  I started "Bend In The Road" just a few months before we left Japan.  And crazy me, this project was packed along with all our stuff.  So I didn't see this project for almost a year.  I was very happy to see it when we were opening boxes, and I started cross stitching right away.  Well, you can see in the photo how it looks like for now, and how it should look like when finished.

Going back to Cross Stitch Collectibles, this is the only cross stitch website I go to.  I like their patterns a lot.  A lot of popular paintings too.  I'm just not into cross stitching cartoon characters.  Cross Stitch Collectibles gives a free pattern every month.  I actually like their free pattern for February.  They have so many beautiful patterns that I'd like to buy them all.  But the question is, if it takes me years to finish one darn project, when will I ever finish all the patterns that I want to buy.  And I don't want to just cross stitch all day everyday.  I still have a lot of hobbies to attend to. 

Sigh.  So little time.

Wednesday, February 6


I made a promise to finish our 2007 Year-O-Graphy this month.  It's actually a Year In Review Album Kit by Lisa Bearnson which I bought from QVC about a year and a half ago.  If you don't know Lisa Bearnson, she's like the mother of all scrapbooking and the founding editor of the very popular Creating Keepsakes magazine.  

In the kit, year-o-graphy is defined as "a scrapbook account of a year in the life of one or more persons".  I decided to do this album for 2007 because it's in that year that we had a lot of changes in our life - from leaving Japan and moving to the States.  There are many other significant happenings, but the most important of all, is basically us starting from scratch.   No, I haven't finished it yet, but I have done the first three pages.  And I did follow the schedule I gave myself for National Time Management Month.  I was in the mood to do some cross stitching, but yesterday was my day meant for scrapbooking, so I stayed in my craft room and was able to finish 2 pages.  I like the way this kit was made.  Each background paper has a label in the back which tells you what page it is for.  The embellishments are packed according to page number, so you'll know which page you'll use it on.  And the best of all is that the simple and easy to follow instruction booklet that comes with the kit.  If you are a newbie at scrapboooking, this kit will help you kick start the hobby.  And if you have been into scrapbooking, you can of course add your own flair to each page.  This is what I like about Lisa Bearnson's album kits.  I have all 4 of her Favorite Album Kits actually, and this is the third one that I'm making.  You can check out the first one I made here.  These kits are buys that I'll never have regrets for.