Friday, December 31, 2010

Craft-room cleanup and a Follower Freebie!

I’m determined to start the new year off on an organized least where my craft room is concerned. I’ve spent the majority of my holiday break cleaning and sorting, sorting and cleaning. I’m tired (what else is old?). The pic above (taken today) may not look like it, but I’ve actually made much progress. For one, I can actually see my desk, my daybed, and even my floor. That’s progress, baby.
Here are just some of the supplies I’ve sorted out to give away. Whew! No wonder I’m tired.

The Problem
I’ve decided the problem is I’m a hoarder. I hang on to stuff for waaaaay too long. For example, I have Stampin’ Up! stamp sets from 1999! I was in high school in 1999. I have paper and supplies from companies that, sadly, aren't even in business anymore (Luxe Designs, Scenic Route, Imagination Project, Rusty Pickle, and many, many more). I have beautiful Making Memories ribbon cards that I purchased when I was a teenager, just discovering the magic of Michaels. In other words, I have a lot!  
It’s time for a change. As much as I LOVE my supplies, I just don’t have room for all of them anymore. My craft room is small, and I’ve decided that I need to keep only what I can contain. 
The Favorites! (some of them, at least)
Of course, there are those favorite lines that I’ll never bring myself to get rid of (what’s left of them), no matter how old they may get. We (scrapbookers) all have these. For me, some of these oldies-but-goodies include:
Mellow by BasicGrey: As soon as I saw the cute little people, pups, and tress in this collection, I was hooked! 

Girl Friday by Cosmo Cricket: I've always adored rotary phones (you can read more about that obsession here), and this line is one of the first I remember offering that cool motif (as well as many others). Also, the colors are so bright and happy! 

Little Pieces stamp set by Stampin' Up!: Funny story about this set. I actually came up with the idea for it's counterpart, Big Pieces, when I was working at Stampin' Up!. It was a happy accident that I'll have to tell you about sometime. In the meantime, don't you just love these versatile, bitty images?

Craft Fair by American Crafts: This line came out right after I got my sewing machine. I loved (and continue to love) all of the sewing sassiness found in this collection. 

Scrumptious by Sassafras (back when “lass” was still in their name): This is one of the first lines I remember seeing with an owl in it. And it was pink to boot! What's not to love?

And many more! 
Do you have some all-time favorite lines or products? If so, I’d love to read about them here. Just drop me a line in the form of a comment, and let me know what makes your must-keep product list. 
The Giveaways!
Alas, as much as I love some of the products I’ve gathered over the years, I’ve decided that it’s time to bid some of them adieu. (Note: I will not be giving away the ones listed above. Sorry.) On the bright side, this means giveaways! I’ll be dividing and boxing some of my stash to use as Follower Freebies over the next several months, starting today. 
The December 2010 Winner!

Congratulations to Brenda! You’re my lucky Follower Freebie winner for December. Thanks so much for your interest in my blog. I value and appreciate your readership. Please e-mail me with your mailing address and I’ll get your box sent out. You may even find some cute baby-girl scrappy goodness in it. (Brenda’s having a baby soon.) Huzzah! 
(Please e-mail me at M2E2G @ with your address and I'll get the box sent.) 
Happy new (and organized) year, all! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This little Chuck Brown tree is a big blessing!

I hate to admit this, but I started this season not wanting to celebrate Christmas. My heart just wasn’t in it. You see, we were supposed to have a Christmas baby this year, and since that didn’t happen it kind of left a sad spot over the entire holiday for me. I’m relieved to say that I eventually shook some of these sad feelings, thanks to the help of my loving family and friends. But, because of my delay in getting into the Christmas spirit, we were without our decorations. Our solution: a bitty tree. 

We call this cutie our Chuck Brown tree, because it reminds us of Charlie Brown’s little tree. 

It’s so small, in fact, that we put it on our coffee table and it still doesn’t reach our ceiling. 

But it’s perfect. And it’s real. I haven’t had a real tree since I moved out of my parents’ home. I love the smell of a fresh tree. Our fake tree just doesn’t compare. 

So, we put our little tree up, got out a handful of ornaments and couple of strands of lights, and we set to decorating (with the help of the pups, of course). 

The result: the perfect little Christmas symbol. Our decor didn’t extend much beyond our little tree this year, but it was enough. It brought some much needed Christmas spirit into our home when it was needed the most. O tannenbaum, o tannenbaum, you fill my heart with music! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Faux Photo Booth Fun!

Unless Santa can work a miracle, there’s no way our Christmas cards will be out in time. Because of this, I thought I’d share our silly photo shoot here as an interim holiday greeting. 
I knew I wanted to do a photo-booth approach to the family photo this year, but it presented two problems:
  1. Where can we find a photo booth these days?
  2. If we do find one, how will we sneak the dogs in?
I’m thrilled to say that, thanks to the help of friends on Facebook, I found several photo-booth locations in Utah. If you’re interested, I’m told you can find them here:
Utah Photo Booth Locations
  • Boondocks in Draper
  • The Thanksgiving Point Movie Theater in Lehi
  • Valley Fair Mall (by Penny’s)
  • South Towne Mall (in the food court, by the carousel) 
  • The Kmart in Bountiful (sadly, they’re no longer in the other UT Kmart locations)
We found the booths, but we just weren’t sure how we were going to sneak the pups in, so we decided to set up a faux photo booth in our home. To do this, we hung a blue sheet from our plant shelf, and we pleated the sheet to give it a more authentic feel. We then set two kitchen stools in front of the curtain to make it feel more booth-y. 

Wanting a more festive booth, I cheesed it up with garland and twinkle lights. I simply clipped them to the sheet with clothespins. 

With the booth backdrop set up, it was then time to test the camera. I grabbed a cute model, set my camera to remote shooting, and tweaked the position of the camera until it captured the booth. 

I don't know why, but this photo had Cory and me laughing to the point of tears. It's just that odd. It reminds me of the "American Gothic" painting with a Santa twist. LOL 
Now, it’s time for props. We wanted our photo strip to spell out a greeting, so we selected props that would work to communicate our note. And, of course, costumes were in order. Some of our props included the following:

Photo Booth Props
  • A joy banner
  • A globe
  • A chalkboard
  • A patterned paper #2
  • And costumes (Santa hats, doggie scarves and sweaters, and New Years hats) 
With everything set, it was time to let the photo fun begin. Of course, this meant many, many outtakes. Here are just a few of those for your viewing pleasure. :)
Honey, the globe is not a basketball. 
And there goes the basketball...errr, I mean globe. 

Everybody just calm down! 

Which way did Jack go?

Oh, here he is. But where are the other two?

Now which way did Cory go? Can't we all just sit still long enough to take a good picture. (If you have high-strung, energetic dogs, you know what wishful thinking this is.)

Uh oh, is that our booth backdrop falling down around us? Yeah, I think it's time to call it a night. 

Believe it or not, between the many outtakes we actually got a few photos that worked. I put those images into a free digi photo booth template that you can download here (complete with instructions for using it). 
And, drum roll please... Here’s the outcome! 
Can you make sense of our greeting? If not, I’ll give you a hint, it says, “Joy to the world,  & a happy New Year!” 

You might think us crazy, but we had SO much fun with this little evening project. A faux photo booth would be a happy thing to set up in your home this holiday. Hang a sheet, grab a stool, set up your camera, throw in a few props, and watch your family fun begin. I have a feeling you’ll LOVE the outcome, whether or not you add them to a photo booth strip or simply add them to your scrapbook. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Perfect Pen Giveaway and Tricky Tags!

If you’re like me, procrastination is your game and you’re just now getting to the gift wrapping. That’s okay. You still have time to make those gifts stand out with your own gift-tag creations. I put together a few tags for Creating Keepsakes and Studio 5 recently. I thought I’d share a couple of those with you here. 
Bitty ‘Bot Santa
I had fun making a bitty robot Santa tag using fabric from Cosmo Cricket. 

First, cut two of the same robot from the fabric.

Next, stitch those pieces together (wrong sides together), adding a little puff of cotton from a cotton ball to the middle.

Santa needs his hat, so I used these cute hat stickers from Jolee’s to top my robot off. I selected hats that were mirror images (opposites) so I could stick one to the other to adhere them to my bitty ‘bot. 

When your Santa is done, string a little twine through his hat and you've got yourself a groovy tag (or ornament). Domo arigato, Santa! 

Cone Kiss Tag 
This bitty cone tag doubles as a gift. You see, if you untie the baker's twine, there's a surprise inside the cone—a sweet chocolate Kiss. Fold the cone from an old sheet of book paper, insert a bit of tissue paper along the inside rim, attach a handles, add your Kiss (point down), and tie the cone shut with a piece of baker’s twine. Write your gift recipient’s name on a tiny tag, and attach it to the cone using the twine. 

Bitty Box Tag 
Dress up a bitty box (I used decorative tape and sequins) and use it as a tag on a bigger box. You can either insert the "to/from" alone in the box, or you can insert a smaller gift in the box for a double surprise!

Give a Gift Tag Set Last year, I created these boxes of tags and gave them as gifts. It’s as easy as using scraps from your creative stash and a few shaped punches, and you can create an entire collection of one-of-a-kind tags. Throw in a few fantastic pens to complete the gift, and you have something your gift recipient can use throughout the year. 

Pen Giveaway!
Speaking of fantastic pens. I recently had the pleasure of receiving as assortment of
JetPens, and I love them! They have pens for any and all of your pen needs, from gels pens and brush pens to craft pens and and so much more! And they want to spread the holiday cheer by offering one of you a $25 gift certificate to pick and choose your own assortment of awesome pens from their website! Simply leave me a comment here between now and Monday, Dec. 27 and I’ll randomly select a winner. Trust me, this is one prize you’ll want to win. :)

More Tags
Looking for more tag ideas? Please check out my latest Studio 5 segment and check out the Creating Keepsakes blog. Thanks for playing this game of tag with me!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Looks like lupus... Looks like cancer...

...But is it?
As my dear pop said, “Our family got an early Christmas present this year.” Make that two presents, but they weren’t without their weeks of worry first. I thought I’d take a minute to explain my blog absence and share our joy with you. Here’s how our emotional journey played out:
1 week before Thanksgiving: I have a doc appointment. I’m seeing a new doc and after only ten minutes with her, she sees a pattern that my previous doc missed (based on a false positive on a syphilis test combined with my rare miscarriage). She suggests I see a specialist and get tested for *gulp* lupus.
2 days later: The specialist is booked through the end of Feb., so I start by seeing my regular doc. Per the specialist’s request, he gives me the regular lupus test. 
The day before Thanksgiving: My regular doc calls to say I have lupus. As you can imagine, this was painful news to hear. Note: Two years ago to the day, my mom was in the hospital having her cancer tumor removed. Odd. 
The Friday after Thanksgiving: I’m discussing the news with my family, and telling them that at least we aren’t in the place we were two years ago (with Mom’s cancer). Compared to that, this seems easy. People can live healthy lives with lupus, and we’ll get through this. They don’t seem as convinced. 
The following Monday: Speaking of Mom’s breast cancer, she has a mammogram to check and see if everything is clear. Unfortunately, it is not. She has markings called calcifications which have a 40% chance of being cancerous. No! We just got through saying how relieved we were to have the pain of cancer treatments behind us and this news hits. It just isn’t right. And we’re angry. Scared and angry. 
One week after Thanksgiving: Mom has a biopsy to remove the calcifications. We have to wait until Monday for the results. The longest four days ever!
In the meantime (sometime during all of this): The specialist finds out I have a positive diagnosis for lupus and manages to fit me in.
THE Monday: Mom calls in the afternoon. The conversation starts something like this:
Me: Hello (with the little breath I have)
Mom: Benign, benign, benign! (Music to my ears)
Mom’s okay. What a scare. What a HUGE relief!
That Wed.: I see the specialist. The first thing he tells me is that my doc, the one who diagnosed me with lupus, did the wrong test. I guess there are two types of ANA blood tests for this disease, and he did the sensitive one that will often come back positive when lupus isn’t there. The specialist tells me I may not have lupus, but he proceeds with the examination. Turns out I have many of the symptoms and it’s in my family, so he seems less hopeful that I don’t have it, but he sends me for more testing.
A week later (last Wed.): I go back to the specialists. At this point I’ve had time to research lupus and I’m pretty freaked out. It can prevent you from having children. It can cause organ failure. It can be very difficult. And I’m scared. He asks how I’m doing. I tell him I’m not in a place for small talk and to please read the results... 
Negative, negative, negative! 
He says I do not have “active lupus.” I guess there’s a chance it’s in remission, which means it won’t show up in the testing. Because of this, I’m supposed to be tested every six months. But for now, I’m delighted to say, I do not have lupus. 

Whew! Did you see that? Two very scary bullets just flew our way, and I’m thrilled to say that we managed to dodge both of them. As Pop said, Christmas came early for our family. These are incredible blessings, and I’m so very thankful.
I know you don’t need a moral to this story, but I have to say that health is such a finicky thing. Please don’t take your good health or the good health of others for granted. As I was reminded of again this past month, everything can change in an instant.  
And for those of you dealing with your own health scares right now, please try to find strength in your family. I made the mistake of keeping many of my fears to myself, which turned me into a basket case. I went from “this will be fine” to “I’m dying” in a matter of days. Talk to others and seek support. Don’t feel like you’re a burden. They love you and want to be there for you. Thank you to my dear friends and family, who were there to lift me up when I needed it. 
Here’s to good health this Christmas and all year through. Cheers!