Friday, December 10, 2010

Nativity Blocks

These are the Nativity Blocks that we made at a church activity. I was asked to cut out the vinyl for them with my Cricut. One of the ladies already had a block that she was given a few years ago and she just wanted to be able to "re-create" hers. I was able to photograph the sides of her block and import the pics into Make The Cut to cut out with my Cricut.

I changed a few of the images from what her original block had. Actually the only images we kept the same were the Star and Shepherd scene. I added the city of Jerusalem and the 3 Wisemen. Her block featured an Angel instead of the city, and some kind of animal in place of the Wisemen.... i think it was an ox... or maybe a really big, weird looking sheep... i don't know. Anyways, I didn't think that was necessary so I switched it. The angel actually was necessary since he's a huge part of the story... so on my block I got to keep the camels, which I love, but the vinyl for all the other blocks had an angel instead of camels.

Anyways, they turned out super cute!

And in case anyone has ever wondered.......... you actually can run your Cricut for 2 days straight only stopping to change out the mat and not have it overheat! In fact it wasn't even warm!

Yay! I bet that's great news to all you obsessive crafters like me who don't like to sleep...... and when I must sleep, I set my alarm to wake me up so I can change out the mat and get it back to cutting.

Okay...... truth be told...... I am a serious procrastinator.  I had to cut out vinyl for two days straight because I didn't realize that Make The Cut would cut out so much slower and I seriously had.....52 x 6.... 312 + ..... 144 x 6 .... 864.....= 1176 pieces to cut out. Yeah 1176. Ha Ha! You'd think I'd learn right?  :-)

**Edited to add**

If you would like the cut file for these (for personal use only) please leave a comment with your email and I will send it to you. (It does not contain the image of the camels but has an angel instead.) It will be an svg file so you can use it in SCAL and MTC.  Thanks for all your interest!

Friday, December 3, 2010

New Mobile with Baby Carriages

My Newest Mobile:

I made this for a friend to match her baby's nursery. She requested something in greens and pinks.

I surprised her and made it to match the baby's quilt by adding baby carriages to it.

This is the quilt the baby's grandmother made. It's beautiful!

I tried to make the baby carriages as similar as the ones on the quilt. This carriage is from the New Arrival Cricut Cartridge. I welded a flower to each wheel in Design Studio to replace the spokes and make it look like the wheels on the quilt.

Here's some views from the bottom looking up. (the baby's perspective) :-)

And some of the flowers close up....

All the flowers on this mobile are 3-D. The carriages and dots are double sided, but flat. To make the small flowers I used 4 of the same 1" punched flowers, folded in half and glued to each other. The larger flowers in the center of the mobile have 6 pieces and are 2 1/2" big.

My friend loves her mobile, and it was the sweetest thing that she almost started crying when she saw it the first time. She hired me to make two... so now I'm off to work on the next one!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

EmmaLee Update:

So, I guess it's been a while since I checked in and updated you on EmmaLee's status.

Obviously, she just turned 6. (See Ladybug Party post) And she's in Kindergarten this year, and loving it... i think. She likes the learning, and the reading and writing... but making friends, not so much.  I'm sure she's got a few nice kids that she plays with. But I don't hear about them. She only tells me about the mean ones. It's really hard hearing her tales of the comments kids make and their actions towards her.  She's been hit. But I guess some 5 and 6 year old's still do that anyways right? And that particular time I don't believe it had anything to do with her being different. Sometimes she says no one would play with her at recess.  Is my kid that outcast that everyone runs away from at recess? I remember that kid from when I was in school... it's sad, I really hope she's not.  She has such a sweet and fun personality, why would any kid not play with her because she's red? So what. She's red. Get over it already. But that's hard for kids i guess. They just want to fit in and be accepted. Sometimes I feel like saying "Poor baby, how can I protect you from this?" I feel so powerless when it comes to these situations. The younger kids are quicker to accept her and move on, but the older kids that she sees in the halls, on the bus, etc. They speak before thinking. They're ignorant, and don't care to learn why she's red, it's easier to make fun. Ah, the insecurities of children. When you're pointing at someone else, no one looks at you. Well this post wasn't meant to be all about school and the gripes I have about other kids...

Her hearing has come a long way since this post. She has had only normal hearing screens since then. And her glasses have really helped... Helped so much that she decided her eyes were fixed and didn't have to wear them anymore.    :-)   Of course me being the mom, I still made her wear them. Until... she had an eye exam at school, given by the school nurse, and failed the test wearing her glasses! What the ? "Okay, you don't have to wear them anymore."  Funny thing is, the glasses actually helped her look....normal? Somewhat.  The frames covered her (non-existent) eyebrows. And drew attention away from her lack of eyelashes. Weird how a little hair on your face makes a difference. Her eyelashes have grown out a few times and we always make it a big deal, about how beautiful they are and how pretty she looks. Hmmm, I wonder how that reaction might be affecting her when they fall off....

We haven't had a major infection since this post. But we have had quite a few "almost" infections. It's like when I see that trigger happen, I feel this intense full-body panic. Fight-or-Flight adrenaline type of nerves and anxiety. Right away we usually see signs that it's getting worse, so we do everything we can, praying it doesn't come back. Luckily, they have all gotten better after an exhaustive overuse of ointment. But it's still scary. I don't even want to think of going down that road again. I can't stand to see her hurt like that last time.  Unfortunately, one of the (many) triggers we discovered was urine.  EmmaLee requires more sleep than most children her age because of her disorder.  Her body tries to heal and repair itself during sleep, although it's pointless since her skin doesn't "heal".  Sometimes it seems as if she grows a whole new layer of skin during these sleeping hours.  Anyways, she has been night-time potty trained for a long time, but every once in a while she'll have too much to drink at dinner, or sneak a cup of water at bedtime (which we don't allow) and wake up in the morning soaked in urine.  She just sleeps too heavily to wake up in the night. So the urine just sits on her skin all night and BAM, as soon as she wakes up she's in pain from it. Infection type of pain. We actually have a classification for "infection pain" since it's such a specific type of hurt. We haven't experienced anything that hurts her more than that. So it's back to Pull-Ups at night-time.  But, even when she wets in those we still see a reaction. I feel like the water police at bedtime, hovering over her making sure she doesn't try to suck water off her toothbrush for a drink! It's sad. And mean. But I gotta do it.

During the night all that skin repairing underneath causes the top to get really dry. Which is why her bath must come first in the mornings. Before food or playing. Mostly because when she awakes she is extremely uncomfortable and dry. The skin on her face becomes so dry and tight that it cracks if she talks or smiles, and opening her mouth to eat is out of the question. Well you can imagine that poses a small problem concerning breakfast and having time to eat before going to school since the bath takes over an hour.  So, she drinks her breakfast. Through a straw. Nothing gross, not like pureed food or anything, haha! Just Pediasure in a can, we still call it her "formula". She gets up to 4 formula cans a day if she wants. She drinks two in the bath, has one at school, and the other is optional once she gets home from school, but we usually just eat a snack when she gets home. 

So the other day EmmaLee tells me right before we are about to walk out the door to get on the bus that she's hungry. Well there's no time by that point to do anything about it so I said "Sorry, but you're gonna have to wait until snack time at school". She whined again that she was hungry and decided she could just ask her teacher at school for some peanut butter crackers. I told her "No EmmaLee, you need to wait until everyone has snack. It's not fair if you get to eat an extra snack and no one else gets to." So she gets to school, and what does she do. She asks her teacher anyway.

Then I got a call from her teacher. Apparently EmmaLee has been "hungry" several times in the mornings and "Is she eating breakfast at home?". "Yes, she drinks two cans of Pediasure for breakfast while she's in the bath and occasionally eats some peaches or pears, but there's not really time for anything else because her bath takes so long." The teacher suggests that maybe we need to wake up even earlier to make time for breakfast because she might be going through a growth spurt right now and needs more than the formula. Hmmm, I think it's more likely that she just wants to eat a snack but who knows. Drinking two cans of formula fills her up and sometimes she can't finish the second one because her tummy hurts from drinking so much so fast. But it is liquid and maybe it doesn't leave her full for very long and it's not like I'm going to deny her food. The teacher was very nice on the phone, but I really felt like I got scolded. Like I was an inexperienced mother who needed to be told that children need to eat. I'm sure it wasn't meant that way, but I totally started bawling when we hung up. I'm pretty emotional sometimes. I know I'm not a perfect mom, but I hate feeling like I'm a bad mom.

I bought some Eggo Waffles and now she's eating breakfast everyday, and although I was giving her food before, i guess eating fruit in the bath a couple days a week wasn't enough since she obviously didn't consider it her breakfast. Now we sit at the table to eat, sometimes all decked out in her snow gear so when the bus pulls up she'll be ready. There's not always time to finish, but at least I tried. Waking up earlier really isn't an option for us. She needs that sleep... and let's face it, I can't drag my butt out of bed any earlier. I hope she's not still trying to get a snack when she gets to school....

Other than that, she a super happy little girl. She misses her brother while she's at school all day, which of course means there's total pandemonium in my house when she gets home and the two of them reunite. They start rough-housing and jumping off the furniture....crazy kids! Lol! She gets to go on a field trip with her class tomorrow. She's really excited for that. That's pretty much it.

Wow! She's growing up so fast!

Friday, November 26, 2010

How to Change your Background

Okay. Ready for this super easy "How to Change your Blog Background" tutorial? Let's Do it.

Blogger's has a sweet Template Designer that eliminates the need to play around with that messy HTML code! It helps you change lots of options on your blog such as font colors, links, borders, templates, AND backgrounds!

This is especially nice if you want to create your own background from Digital Scrapbooking kits in Photoshop or another editing program and upload them directly through blogger. Or, you could just as easily choose any photo from your computer or on the web.

Here's how to change your blog's background:

1. From your blogger Dashboard click on "Design".

2. You should be taken to the "Page Elements" page under the "Design" tab. There's this nifty little "Template Designer" button. Click on it.

3. In the left column click on "Background" and next to the background image is a little down arrow. Click on that too.

4. A window pops up that looks like this. Click on "Upload Image" at the top left. Then you can "Browse" through your files to find an image for your background. They recommend 1800x1600 pixels.

I made my background image at 1600x1100 px/in and it ended up being too big and gets cut off on the bottom of the screen. Then I figured out that my computer monitor has a resolution of 1600x900, but in my browser window I have all the toolbars on top and bottom so the actual height that I can see is probably only about 675px. so that's why I can't see the whole background.

*TIP- If you are designing your own background from scratch*

Depending on other people's screen resolutions they might see more or less of the background than you can. A helpful tip  *You should try designing your website for your audience. But you might not know what type of screen resolutions your visitors have if you don't have analytics set up for your site..... That's okay. I have found that 1280x1024 and 1024x768 seems to be the most common sizes and I'll show you how to optimize your design for all screen types by tiling your image. So that, for instance, even I can see your design across my entire screen at 1600px wide.

Anyways, back to the tutorial.....

5. After your image has uploaded, click on it so it is highlighted in orange and hit "Done".

Now you should see this:

6.  Click on the drop down arrow next to "Alignment". Select the top middle button (which will pull your background up to the top of the window and center it).

7. Then click on the next drop down arrow below, mine says "Don't tile", I'm not sure if this is the default so yours might say something else.

Okay here's where it will matter what screen size other people have and how much of your background they will be able to see.

I think the best solution is to "Tile" your image. This means that your image will repeat on the sides and bottom of your website, which works out nicely if someone has a larger screen than your background image.  *If you choose "Don't tile" then other people with larger screen resolutions than your photo will see white space (mine is gray space) around your background image. Which doesn't look very pretty and appealing.   ;-)

Here's a few examples:

Tile Vertically *notice the gray areas to the sides where it is not tiled

Tile Horizontally *notice the bottom is gray, (the top is not because we aligned our image to the top).

Completely tiled (looks like 6 of the same picture)

"Don't Tile" option

Now keep in mind that in the above examples I have my browser zoomed way way out to see so much of the background.

8. Now this is a personal preference, but I like a "static" background, which means it doesn't move when you scroll up and down, so I leave "Scroll with page" unchecked.  But if your background has a nice repetitive style you might want to experiment with it. On the other hand, if your background is busy it might distract too much from your content with so much going on.

Play around with that for a second and decide which way you like best.

Almost done...........

9. Last thing to do is make our blog transparent so your background shows through. In the left column click on "Advanced", then "Backgrounds" in the second column.

Now Change all the color settings to "transparent".

**On a side note, if your background image is dark, or too busy and distracting you might want to leave these settings alone, but this is where you could change their color if you wanted.

10. Just click on "Apply to Blog" in the upper right hand corner to save your changes.

Yay! You're done! Good Job!  Now Click on "back to blogger" and it will take you back to your "page elements" tab. From there just click on "View Blog".

I hope everything worked for you and this tutorial was helpful, not confusing! :-) Aren't you so excited now that you can change your blog background as often as you like? I SURE AM!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Do you like?

So, I just learned how to change my blog's background, header, font, and font colors!!

It's about time too! I've been playing around with Photoshop long enough now to know a thing or two about Digital layouts..... which is exactly what I used for my background and header!!!

Do you want to know how I did it?? Guess what, it's SO easy! And tomorrow I'm gonna give you a walk through on how to do it.

BTW, the picture of my family in the Header is from 1 1/2 years ago, we all look a little different now.... and I am a brunette not blond anymore. :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

LadyBug Birthday Party

Let me start by saying, even though I put a lot of time and effort into this party I still didn't get even half of the things I wanted done for it in time........ I ended up scrapping a bunch of ideas, one of which was the adorable Happy Birthday banner than was halfway finished.  Sad.  :-(      I guess I really need to work on my time management skills if I want to make this into a business......   Anyway, here we go............

When I decided to do a Ladybug theme I had a brilliant idea to make the invitation into a Ladybug......... apparently I am not the only person to have this idea since there are about 15 other ladybug invites I found online. I scraplifted some ideas from different ones that I liked, then threw in some of my own ideas, and ended up with this.

***Edited to add: These LadyBug Invitations 
are now for sale in my ETSY shop!!***

I wanted the invitation to be square, not ladybug shaped, but just sticking the ladybug onto paper didn't appeal to me, so I added a cute punched border. The wings are hinged with brads to open and close. They are embossed with a raised swirl design and I made the black dots with black embossing powder on cardstock cut into circles so they are really shiny and plastic-y.  I don't think that's a!

I found the clever wording somewhere and thought it was adorable so I just customized it to fit our party. If you click on the picture it will take you to the pic where you can see it larger.

Had to have googly eyes of course, and I added the beaded antennae strung onto wire so they are moveable. The invites were just so fun and interactive that several of the little girls loved playing with it!

This is just too cute not to share, my friend wrote this to me......

"Sophie and I will be at the party for sure. She can't wait. She was showing Claire (1 month old baby) the invitation telling her that she gets to go to a party and Claire was following the invitation with her eyes. I guess she likes the black and red and white. Anyways, now whenever Claire cries, Sophie runs to get the invitation to make her stop crying. It's pretty cute!"

So Sweet! Moving on.........

*WARNING!* Like all my other party posts, this one has over 30 pictures....heehee.

I made little tutus, wings, and headband antennae for all the children to wear. It was soooo cute!

Once again, I didn't have a photographer.... so this picture was taken after most the kids had already arrived. When you walk into the house, I had the tutus lined up on the edge of a table with the wings and headbands lined up on top. I made 12 sets of wings, 8 tutus (for only the girls), and 15 headbands. As the kids arrived I dressed them all up by the door and they went off to run around with the other ladybugs. If anyone is interested, here's the links for instructions to make the tutus and wings.

Wings, Tutus, Ribbon, Cutting Tulle

I only had one game for them planned, it worked out since they were going to have dinner there wasn't a lot of time for games. We had two Elefun games going at the same time. The Elephant blows a puff of air and some little butterfly thingy's fly out of this long plastic trunk. Then the kids run around catching them in their nets. It was chaotic, but fun.

Of course you also have to pick them up and put them back in the elephant to keep the game going lol!
There was also a bunch of toys around the kids played with.

At the beginning of the party this part of the ceiling was COVERED in ballons. But, the kids were having a great time trying to get them down, so it looked like this by the time I got a picture of it.

For dinner we made Spaghetti and Meatballs with Garlic Bread for everyone, kids and parents too! I figured at least if they got messy it wouldn't show on their red and black clothes! Lol! :-) I put some black spots (made with vinyl) on the glass pitcher that had red Kool-Aid in it and on all the children's cups.

By the way, my husband cooked the dinner! He was such a big help doing that for me!!

There wasn't a lot of candy or treats, since most of the kids were under 3 and I figured with dinner and cake and ice cream we didn't need a lot of sweets. So there was cake, cupcakes, and cookies. That's it.

I tried my hand at making a ladybug shaped cake. Not too bad I think... Nothing glamorous or anything, but turned out cute.

Ethan was so sweet helping EmmaLee blow out the candles and clapping for her! Then chowing down on some cake!

EmmaLee got cold in her short sleeve shirt so we borrowed a sweater (which kills me that it doesn't match) while she was opening some presents. Plus it was sad that it covered up the shirt I made for her in all these photos.

Oh yeah, I made her a "6" shirt. I used a scrap of the shiny red fabric I used for the wing elastics and table cover. I just printed out a 6 from my computer (reversed) and glued it to the back of some fusible heat and bond. Then ironed the heat and bond to the back of the red fabric. Cut out the number, peeled off the backing of the heat and bond, then ironed it onto the shirt. I wanted to sew around the number so it didn't start to peel off while she wore it but since the shirt was cotton I was afraid it would stretch weird in my sewing machine. I just ironed some interfacing to the inside of the shirt before sewing and it worked perfectly!

I asked my artistic friend Carolyn (black and pink baby shower) to make a cardboard mushroom for me to use as a prop and portrait background. She did an amazing job!

I had Tyson attach some boards to it so it would stand up on its own, but I made sure to crop the boards out of most the photos. The grassy background is a roll of paper I bought at Michaels. Who knew they had stuff like that there!!?

You can see the roll of paper in the photo below.

And, lastly here are some of the cute portraits I got. I'm no photographer.... so if you know of someone who will do it for me for a future event (cheap), I would love to hear! But... I can't afford  $50 for someone to take pictures for 30 minutes.... That's like paying $100/ hour!  It seems that's the going rate right now for an amateur photographer. Which is a killer deal for family portraits, or baby photos, or whatever.... but a little over my current party budget. :-( Maybe once I get an actual paying gig........ Did I just say "gig"?!!! HaHa!

Sadly, I didn't have time to make my signature "matching shirt", which is something I want to do so I will coordinate with my party's theme. So I'm in red and black.

Thanks for looking! Hope you liked my party! Pass along my info if you know someone who wants help throwing a party!! I really need some clients! Lol!

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