I'm changing platforms.....

Visit my new site at TypePad.


Things are still under construction and might look a little wonky over there but my new blog is indeed up and running.  Pop on over and check it out and be sure to let me know what you think!


Playing with Studio J

For the first time ever yesterday, I took some time to play with the new Studio J software launching to customers next month.  I created these two layouts.

The first one took about 30 minutes, and the second just over an hour (but I was cooking dinner at the same time!)  How cool is that?

You might recognize that the paper in the second layout is from the Grace My Reflections scrapbooking kit as seen in the Idea Book.  That's because all of the papers included in Studio J are digital versions of traditional scrapbooking kit papers!  With each Idea Book launch, new kits will be added to the Studio J library, plus an exclusively digital kit will be made available also.  My Halloween layout above was created with one of these exclusively digital kits.

I can't give you all the details just yet because Studio J doesn't officially launch to customers until April, but I am totally excited to bring you this sneak peak.

Watch this site for more details as we get closer to launch.

And yes again, I'll apologize for being absent from the blogosphere for a bit, but I've got good reason this time as I'm preparing to move my blog to TypePad.  I've wanted to do this for a while now, and although the site's not quite ready to go public yet, it's getting close.  I'll give you all the details when the site is up and running, but for now I'll continue to post here.


More You Rock!

I've been absent from the blogosphere for a bit, so thought I would post a quick share.

This is yet another creation from the CTMH You Rock Collection!  This is definately one of my favourites from the Spring 2010 Idea Book and the sentiment is a Glitter Rub-On.  How fun is that?  Enjoy!


Your Rock! My Creations Memory Keeper

So I'm still playing with the You Rock papers and the stamps and embellishments included in the You Rock Workshop on the Go and it is too fun!

This weekend, I finished up my very first My Creations Memory Keeper - and suffice it to say there will definitely be more of these projects in my future!  The My Creations Memory Keeper boxes measure 10" x 9 1/2" x 3" and are made of a sturdy chipboard material.  You can paint them, stamp of them or like I did, cover them with paper.  They are folded flat for shipping and storage and are only $8.25 (Cdn.).  These are pretty impressive actually - in fact even my husband thought they were pretty cool!

Here's a look at the top of the box.  The photo was a professional shot taken in the fall of my son in his hockey gear.  I absolutely loved the photo and knew I just needed to find a fabulous way to display it.

Photo credit: Michael Zajczenko (www.mzphotos.com)

I used a whole bunch of embellishments on this one - buttons, chipboard, the new 'Rockin' Top Coats, ribbon, stamps and ink.  I just love the fact that I could add a ton of dimension to the layout on the top of the box since I didn't have to worry about it getting squashed in an album, or in a frame.  I painted the chipboard swirl and letter with CTMH Creat-a-Shade Pearl paint which unfortunately doesn't photograph well but is tinted with a combination of Crystal Blue and Outdoor Denim reinkers.  I brushed the paint on the 'J' and got a reasonable smooth result, but decided to stipple on the swirl to give it some texture!  Here is a better look at the embellishment bundle.  The circle chips are sponged with Plum Mist ink (I swear they're not pink!  LOL!)

As I said, I will definitely be doing more of these Memory Keeper boxes and in fact my daughter has decided that this is the craft we'll be doing at her birthday party in a couple of weeks - so that should be loads fun to see what the kids can come up with!


You Rock!

I finally got some time to play with some things from the Close To My Heart Spring Idea Book -- it just arrived today, as I ordered waaaay later than I normally do, and I got to playing right away!

Here is the first layout I did using the new You Rock Workshop on the Go kit!  I used the BEST option for the kit which included a few extra accessories on top of the kit cost and assembled the pages pretty much exactly the way the instruction booklet described ~ only a bit of minor tweaking!  I was so thrilled with the way this turned out and it just proves that while it's not girlie in the least at first glance -- you can use the You Rock papers to celebrate the girls in your life!  After all, girls ROCK too!

What do ya think?

You can get your own You Rock Workshop on the Go kit by contacting me or by following this link to my online store.  When you're there, click on 'Shop Online' and drop item G1006 in your cart.  The Workshop on the Go kit is just $35.50 and comes with complete instructions to create the pages you see above, plus complete instructions for 3 cards.  In addition, you'll find an additional 2 page layout suggestions, and an additional 3 cards.  There is more than enough paper in this kit to create all of this!

In addition to the basic workshop kit, I added the following accessories to my layout.
  • Z1272 Top Coats 'Rockin' ($4.75)
  • Z281 White Hemp ($2.75)
  • Z1263 Bitty Sparkles ($3.50)
and I've still got lots of this stuff left over, so watch here for more art coming soon!

P.S.  I'm extending my blog candy deadline all the way to the end of this month!  All you need to do is leave a comment here or anywhere on my blog for a chance to win the CTMH Pure Love stamp set.


Celebrating Change with Blog Candy

{updated: January 13, 2010 - new contest close date is
January 31, 2010}

Quite some time ago, I installed a Haloscan commenting system on my blog.  Well, today, I removed it.  I just wasn't happy with how the system worked, and it was tricky to manage.  So I've reverted back to the original Blogger style comments for now.

There is only one problem with this --> and it's a biggie!  All of my Haloscan comments have DISAPPEARED! That's right, they're gone, and I have no way (as far as I know) to get them back  :(

So in order to stay positive, and to hopefully get some comments happening, I'm offering up some BLOG CANDY!  To win, it's simple, just leave a comment on either this post, or one of my past posts, and you'll be entered in a random draw to win!

So what's up for grabs?  It's the recently retired CTMH Pure Love stamp set (C1270) that I used to create this card.  For some reason I have an extra - so the blog candy winner will receive a brand new set!

Are you ready to win?  Comment away......and multiple comments increase your chances of winning - so surf through my blog and leave as many comments as you like!

The winner will be determined on January 31, 2010 and ALL comments made between now and then will be entered in the draw.  Thanks for stopping by!

A Blog Change


CTMH Caboodle Workshop on the Go!

While the snow is flying, and the days are cold, rest assured Spring is never far away!  So why not think Spring, and get crafting with the soft calm colors and whimsical designs found in Close To My Heart's Caboodle Workshop on the Go kit!  The Caboodle Workshop on the Go is available for a limited time (only until April 30).

Workshops On The Go contain all the materials you need plus step-by-step instructions to create both scrapbook pages and cards!  If you're not familiar with CTMH Workshop on the Go kits, click here to find out more.

With the Caboodle Workshop on the Go kit here is what you can create:

{note all prices in Canadian dollars}

For a limited time only (only until April 30, remember) for only $35.50 (plus tax and shipping) you can purchase the Caboodle Basic Kit which includes the following:
  • My Acrylix This Way Stamp Set
  • My Reflections Caboodle Level 2 Paper Pack
  • Dimensional Elements Booksmart
  • Workshop Guide
The retail value of the Caboodle Basic Kit is $39 - but is available through April 30 for the discounted price of $35.50!

And....if you want to add even more coordinating products to take your project to the next level (the BEST option), think about
  • Z1271 Tiny Tabs ($4.75)
  • Z1125 Designer Ribbon Rounds Sweet Leaf Collection ($9.25)
Want to see more?

Click on these links to see exactly what the Caboodle Basic Workshop on the Go kit contains (including the limited edition My Acrylix This Way stamp set)
To order your Caboodle Workshop on the Go kit, you may either Contact Me or visit my Online Store and add item G1004 to your shopping cart --have everything you need delivered right to your door!

If you have any other questions, just holler!

Blog Candy!

Did you know that Close To My Heart


Some Oldies: Endless Love and Soul Mates

I don't have anything new for you today, I'm actually reposting some art from 2 years ago -- gasp!

Whilst flipping through the new CTMH Spring Idea Book and drooling over all of the new stuff, I happened to notice that they have brought back to catalog several items that I don't think we've seen in a while.  These items were never retired, have still been available for order both online and from your consultant, but they have not been "showcased" in an Idea Book.  With 3 'seasonal' Idea Books per year,  this is understandable since Flowers and Hearts definitely say 'Spring'.

This first one was originally released in February 2008 and was a Stamp of the Month.  It is called Endless Love (D1260).  The set consists of 3 scrolly medallions (the medium one was used here), a border stamp, a sentiment and a flourish accent.  If you read my block back then, you will recall that when I set out to create this card I was going for 'simplicity', however working with this image was much fussier than I had originally imagined.  I really liked the way it turned out though with all the 'white' space really forcing you to focus on the stamped/coloured image, the ribbon and the tag.

The second card uses a couple of images from the Soul Mates Word Puzzle (D1254).  If I recall correctly, I lifted this design in it's entirety from somewhere, although I can't recall where.  I still love the soft non-traditional colours and all of the distressing.

With any luck I'll be able to share some 'new' artwork soon.  I'm placing an order for some new Spring product today, and I can't wait to start playing.  There are just so many new items that I want, it has taken me a very long time to pare back my list to something that my checkbook can manage.

And don't forget to stop by http://www.nationalpapercraftingmonth.blogspot.com/ today and leave your comment to be entered to win the National Paper Crafting Month Felicity Collection!!


Celebrate National Paper Crafting Month with Felicity & A Giveaway

Did you know that January is National Papercrafting Month?  Yup, that's right.  3 years ago, Close To My Heart inaugurated the event to celebrate stamping, scrapbooking, cardmaking, home decor creation, and anything else crafted with paper.

To celebrate in 2010, CTMH is presenting to you the Felicity Collection, filled with regular and die-cut B&T Duos paper and a darling alphabet stamp set!  The Felicity Collection is filled with flowers, flourishes, argyle and birds, and is presented in the ever popular Autumn Terracotta--Sorbet--Twilight colour combo.

The versatile 12" x 12" Felicity Collection includes  12 B&T Duos, 6 new B&T die-cut papers, an exclusive D-size stamp set, and an artwork brochure filled with ideas to rev your creative engines!

There are 6 ways to get your hands on this awesome collection!

  1. Purchase Felicity at regular price from your CTMH Consultant, or in Canada - you can follow this link to my online store.
  2. Place an order of $70 or more in full-retail priced stamp sets (A,B,C,D, and/or E size) and get the Felicity Collection Free!
  3. Place an order of $145 or more in full-retail priced Close To My Heart products (with or without stamp sets included in this total) and get the Felicity Collection Free!
  4. Host a home gathering with cumulative sales total of $470 and Felicity is yours Free!
  5. Become a Close To My Heart Consultant in January and the Felicity Collection will be included in your new consultant kit - absolutely Free!


  6. Each day in January, one lucky person will receive the Felicity Collection absolutely free just by commenting on the daily question posed by Close to My Heart over on this blog http://www.nationalpapercraftingmonth.blogspot.com/
Isn't that exciting?

Today, for January 4th you need to simply tell CTMH about your favourite crafting hobby!  How easy is that?  All those who leave comments will be entered into a random draw and winner will be chosen and posted the following day.  Again, what could be easier?

So pop on over to http://www.nationalpapercraftingmonth.blogspot.com/ and leave your comment, but remember to check back each and every day this month to increase your chances of winning.

If you're not lucky enough to win and would like more information on how you can get your hands on the Felicity Collection, give me a shout and I'll see what I can do to hook you up.

True Friends CTMH January Stamp of the Month

So it's been what seems like eons since I sat down to make cards - but over the New Year's holiday, I did just that.  Now I have to admit that I didn't quite know where to start, so I figured I would keep it simple.

I grabbed my leftovers from the recently retired CTMH Life Delights paper pack, coordinating My Stickease, one colour of ink (Chocolate), the brand new True Friends stamp set, some Just Blooms paper flowers and a handful of brads and got to work.

I must say that overall I'm pretty pleased with what I came up with.  True Friends was really fun to work with.  It's a collection of four decorative frames, 3 curly brackets and a few 'friendship' sentiments that make for some pretty nice card elements I must say.  Don't forget though that they would work equally well as a journaling spot or embellishment bases on a scrapbook page also, and I can't wait to put them to use there.

Here are my cards.  The first 2 are 8 x 3.5 inches - a size I just love because they fit in a standard envelope.  They utilize the same basic design structure, but one is rotated 90 degrees.

The next 2 are 4.5 inches square - again using the same basic design with a simple rotation.

And finally, the last 2 cards which are standard 4.25 x 5.5 inches.

Aren't they sweet?

If you are interested, you can purchase True Friends (D1406) for $26.95 through January 31 from your CTMH Consultant, or if you're in Canada, you can pop on over to my CTMH store and pick one up for yourself.  You can also get this stamp set at a discount by adding it to a cart-ful of other CTMH products, or even earn it for free by placing a $117.50 order.

If you'd like to see more artwork with True Friends before you decide - follow this link and you'll see the Spring 2010 Idea Book artwork all the details for discounted Stamp of the Month ordering.

Don't forget - this set is only available in January 2010 - so get your orders in so you don't miss out!


Final Sketch Mania Challenge

Last week was the third and final week of the Sketch Mania competition over at Scraps of Us.  I had such fun with these challenges and I'm certainly going to miss them.  If nothing else, it gave me an excuse to site down and scrap (well, digi-scrap) even during the busy holiday season.

The challenge for week 3 was to create a double page sketch to house 6-8 photos plus journaling.  Loved this! I am always looking for ways to get more photos on a single page.

Here's what I came up with.

Once the sketch was submitted, the next part of the challenge was to scrap it - with a catch:  The layout must have only 2 colours plus black or white (choose one), AND we must use buttons and ribbon.

When I saw this I was stunned since buttons for me are a big problem!  I don't tend to use them much because quite frankly, I am just never happy with the way they look.  So I was a bit concerned.

Nonetheless, here is my layout - and despite the difficulties I had with the buttons, I am pretty happy with the final result.

Unfortunately I can't give the appropriate credit right now on all of the page elements, since they are from a whole bunch of different kits (I hate it when that happens!)  I need to remember to keep track of these things as I'm creating!  Usually when I digi-scrap I choose one, maybe two kits at most and work with them exclusively on a layout, however here, because I needed some buttons and ribbons that coordinated, I couldn't find everything in one place.  If you have a specific question about an element, just holler, because I'm sure I could figure it out if I needed too.

Also, remember if you create a layout based on one of my sketches, I'd love to see it!  Just upload it somewhere, pop me an email or send me a link!  I just love to see how sketches come together as art!


Playing with my Cuttlebug on Craft Critique

I just realized that my article on embossing with the Cuttlebug is running on Craft Critique today.  Pop on over and check it out!  My goal for this piece was to find as many non-traditional materials that I could emboss using the machine and the embossing folders.  I found several!  Pop on over to www.craftcritique.com and check it out.

More Digi Fun.

I mentioned the other day that I was participating in a Sketch Challenge over at Scraps of Us.  For week two, we had to create a sketch using circle photos and flowers.

Circle photos are a bit outside of my box, but here's the sketch I submitted.

And here's my layout!

This was done using a freebie collaborative kit that I picked up last year called Mango Tango.  I just love the cool brights colours and the floral accents!  They matched my daughter's bathing suit perfectly!

I also scrapped a sketch submitted by Tracy - one of the other girls participating in the challenge (and funnily enough, she's also my sister).

Here is her sketch and the layout I created based on it!

 You'll notice that yet again I switched things up a bit.  I just couldn't get my head around journaling in the centre section.  I tried several times, but couldn't make it work for me.  That though is the beauty of sketches in my opinion.  They are a great 'launching point' for the creative process.  You don't always have to follow them exactly in order to make them work for you!

Thanks for stopping by - until next time.


What I've Been Up To!

Wow!  The time just slips away doesn't it?

Over the last couple of weeks I've been busy busy busy to say the least but I have had some time (although not enough as usual) to get crafty.

I'm participating in the Sketch Mania challenge over at Scraps of Us which has been really fun.  It started December 1, and so far I've created two sketches, and one layout as part of that challenge.  I can only post the first sketch right now as the second hasn't been released to the group yet, but I will post it as soon as I can.

Here is my Sketch Mania Sketch #1

The directions for the challenge were pretty straightforward - create a sketch that includes 4 photos and one spot for journaling.  If you'd like to create a layout based on my sketch that would be awesome!  I would love to see it!  Just create away and then post it out there in cyberspace, but be sure to send me a link (via email or a comment).

Liz Weber, another gal in the Sketch Mania group was assigned my sketch to create a layout as part of the contest.  I have requested her permission to share her creation here, but haven't received a response yet.  Hopefully she agrees to let me share, since she did a fantastic job with it.  It is so fun to see a sketch come to life.

The layout I created as part of the Sketch Mania challenge is this one.

I decided to go all-digi on this, and used a freebie that I picked up from Studio Baers Garten @ Scrapbookgraphics called Turkey Day by Iara Gomes Baer.  I think the freebie is still available, so if you're interested in picking it up try this link to download.

The sketch I received was by Tracy Sherriff, and is below and while I admit, I did interpret this one a little creatively and incorporated lots of extra 'white' space, the layout of each element matches her sketch exactly, although in reverse.  This was a ton of fun to pull together, and I'm really looking forward to designing future Sketch Mania sketches and layouts.

Tracy's Sketch

The other thing I've been working on, although not quite so faithfully is my Jessica Sprague Holidays in Hand album.  I actually don't even have anything to share on this quite yet, but it is in process.

AND....I haven't forgotten about my KaiserCraft Advent Calendar project that I promised to post, I just haven't had a chance to take the pic.  Hopefully this will get done today and I will post my finished project tomorrow.  The kids are just loving checking out the little drawers each morning.  It's really fun!

Until next time.....


Holiday Wish Lists & A Little Poem

Today, my holiday wish list ran on Craft Critique and I received a cute little poem by email.  Now, I'm not sure if it's just coincidence, or if I should believe that somebody somewhere is trying to send me a message.  What do you think?  Either way, I thought it was worth sharing -- so enjoy!

Twas the night before Christmas, I’m glued to the tree. 
I’m wondering what Santa brought just for me.
Could it be cardstock or inkpads or lace?
Or some stamps, I said, with a smile on my face.
And that’s when I heard him……“Hi Santa, ” I said
He replied, “You know….good girls should be in their beds”.
“I know I should Santa,and now I’ve been caught.
But I was just so excited to see what you brought.”
“Well, let’s take a look in this room where you work”.
He shook his head quickly, and left with a jerk.
I heard him exclaim as he put it in gear.
“You’ve got enough crap,
I’ll see you next year!” 


Close To My Heart Holiday HeyDay - Online Clearance Sale {50%-80% Off }!

Online Clearance Sale begins Wednesday December 2, 2009

If you haven't started your holiday shopping yet, don't fret, because there is one thing for certain, the BEST deals start in December!  Do you have scrapbookers or cardmakers on your list?  Or do you maybe need to stock up on some supplies just for you?  Now is the time -it's a Holiday HeyDay with Close To My Heart.

Beginning December 2 at 9am Mountain Time, log in to my online store at kristinefowler.myctmh.com and start shopping!  You'll find amazing deals like My Acrylix® stamp sets starting at just $2.50 (Cdn) or My Reflections® paper packets as low as $6.25(Cdn).  Plus, get discounted shipping at a flat rate of $10 for orders of $150 (Cdn) or more.  There are loads of accessories, like Holiday Fabric Tags, Bigger Brads and Eyelets.  There are Foundry Frames, Chipboard, Card Kits and Ribbon.  There is even a Grab Bag that contains more than $125 in retail products that can be yours for just $37.50!!  Amazing Deals!

Click here to download the complete list of available products.

Remember that this sale starts Wednesday at 9am Mountain Time.  Click this link to access a Time Zone Converter to find out what time YOU can start shopping.

I imagine that the shopping server will be busy busy busy once the sale starts, so please be patient during check-out, and try not to get frustrated if delays are a little lengthier than normal.  With savings like this, you'll be glad that you didn't miss out!!

Happy Shopping!


Holidays in Hand - Displaying my Prompts

I took a little break from my advent calendar project to get myself caught up on the first few days of the Holidays In Hand course over at jessicasprague.com.  I had been reading the daily newsletters and assignments and of course checking in on the class gallery and forums, but hadn't taken any time at all to actually do any printing, or to get creative.

This is the first of 2 big projects for this course (the second will be the actual album work which will be completed throughout the month of December.)  This piece involves a series of prompts, one for each day of December that are deigned to hang or stand somewhere in your home where you'll see them every day.  The plan is that these prompts will provide you with ideas for capturing the stories of THIS holiday, and also to connect to your stories of holidays past.

Each prompt card includes suggestions for:
  • What to write.
  • What to photograph.
  • What to Do.
  • What to Make.
I had a bit of a hard time deciding exactly how and where I was going to display my prompts, but since I'm in a use what you have on hand and avoid buying more supplies kind of mood, this is what I came up with.  It will be displayed (I think) on the table in my entry way.

The prompt cards were designed by Jessica, and I printed them in the 5.5" size.  Then each card was mounted on coordinating cardstock (I used a green, a red and a light tan).  The album which I had in my stash, is by American Crafts (the D-ring style).  The idea is that each day I will change which prompt is displayed on the front. I just love these little albums, and I loved that for this project it would sit on the table like a wedge because it wasn't completely full.  I opted to go the album route because I wanted to use the page protectors as pockets to store recipes & lists that I might need to complete each prompt.  This would keep everything handy in one place.  The page protectors can also be used to store journaling cards/notes upon which I can record my thoughts temporarily until such time that I can transfer them to the final Holidays in Hand album.

I covered the album with a very festive digital paper by Crystal Wilkerson that she so graciously provided to the Holidays in Hand class for free.  It is also part of her December '09 Paper Collection that can be purchased in Jessica's online store.

Here's a look at the album inside - I created a title page using yet another free digital element - a tag from Liv Estaban's Holidays in Hand tag pack that she designed exclusively for this class.  Just to add a bit of interest, I embossed the green background using a Cuttlebug folder, then added a bookplate & rubons to identify the year.  The 2 fonts are available at dafont.com and they are Inked God and Jane Austen.  I can't take the credit for what I think is are incredibly appropriate font choice as one of my Holidays in Hand classmates studio {k} chose them for her project which was posted in the HIH Gallery.

As a final though, you may recall that I was trying to decide whether or not to complete Ali's December Daily project in addition to this one.....Well, I've decided to just focus on Holidays in Hand this year.  After seeing what all is involved with Jessica's system, there is some overlap in these projects and I'd like to do this one well, as opposed to trying to take on too much all at once.

Until next time.


Kaiser Craft Advent Calendar Part 4

This is a multi-part article.  Follow these links for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

So now that I'm fully assembled - I can start decorating.

The calendar kit includes 25 boxes and they are packed flat.  This means they need to be assembled.  They are pre-scored so assembly is a cinch - you just need to decide what type of adhesive to use.

I actually took a no-glue route, but I talked to a couple of friends and they both recommended using something super sticky like Dazzling Diamonds (SU) or Liquid Glass (CTMH).  Taping the boxes doesn't seem to work.

My no-glue choice:  I've said it before, I'm a lazy crafter - so instead of gluing my boxes together, I opted to wrap patterned paper all the way around them and rely on the paper to keep them in shape.  Of course this only works if you plan on wrapping the paper like I did, and you will need glue of some kind for sure if you're planning only to decorate the front.

Here's how I did it.

Cut strips of patterned paper to 4cm x 18cm.
Adhere one end of the strip to the back of the box.
Using a bone folder, score the strip (using the box side as a guide to score line positioning) and adhere to the next side.
Repeat scoring and adhering until the strip is wrapped all the way around.
Use a strong bond adhesive like red line tape or glue dots to stick the remaining end to the back of the box.

The trick to making this work is to be sure to adhere the paper to all sides as you go around.

I used the following two patterns to cover my boxes plus a little bit of another glittered paper by Best Creation Inc (not shown)

  • Rejoice Words Paper (Flair Designs)
  • Snowy Serenade Overture (Bo Bunny)
  • Unknown Glittered paper by Best Creation Inc. (not shown)
These pics aren't the best - and it especially doesn't do justice to the Bo Bunny design (which is absolutely gorgeous) that has a nice glittered shine to some of the areas.  Actually - in these pics they don't even seem to match all that well.....but you'll have to trust me - this will work.

Once I had the box covered, I used my Coluzzle knife (and mat) to cut out the half-circle at the front of the box.  The half circle acts as a finger pull.  Unfortunately I didn't take any pics of the covering process since I did it while watching TV.  Sorry.

Nonetheless, it's that easy.

Next, I decorated the chipboard numbers.  I considered a couple of different things here - ink, paint, markers etc. but settled on using Glimmer Mist by Tattered Angels.  The Glimmer Mist was super simple to apply - just spray and let dry.  (Just remember to spray inside a shoe-box to avoid damage from overspray! There tends to be a lot of it!)  The Glimmer Mist dries quick and looks awesome.  This was a great choice.

Next, I glued the numbers on....and voila!  I used a liquid glue by UHU to adhere them.  I'm not generally a fan of liquid glues, but this sticks really well, dries pretty quickly, and I like the applicator.

Here is a sneak peak at my progress so far.  My next and final post will be the complete reveal, with the centre section all decorated.

To be continued..


KaiserCraft Advent Calendar Part 3

This is a multi-part article, follow these links for Part 1 and Part 2.

So if you've been following my progress, you'll know that I've got my KaiserCraft advent calendar, unpackaged, sanded and painted.

Next Step:  Assembly

This stage of the project took me just under an hour I would guess.  To complete the task, you'll need a hammer, some wood glue (remember this part) and a block of wood to hammer on.  You will recall from my photos that the calendar goes together with a series of tongue/groove joints.  The base (or back) of the calendar has a bunch of slots in it, and each of the pieces (sides and shelves) has tabs.

I recommend figuring out exactly where each piece is going to go (it's not hard) before you start putting it together, since they do fit pretty tightly.  If you make a mistake, it is possible to get them apart, although it is a bit tricky.  More advice:  Don't hammer directly on your MDF, since it's tough but not all that tough if you get my drift.  The last thing you want is to get this far and crack a piece.  You may also wish to use wood glue to give you some additional security.  I didn't initially, but found out after the fact that it would probably have been a good idea (keep reading to find out why).

I started first by securing each of the longer pieces that formed the outside and inside frames, and then moved on to securing the small dividers.  It is at this stage that good, thorough sanding really pays off.  Remember that 'nub' that I talked about yesterday?  Well, if you don't get it off completely (or at least almost), these little dividers won't fit or will cause the outer and inner frames to bow.  Not nice.  So check your 'nubs' and make sure they are all gone.

Once I had my calendar fully assembled (or almost), it looked like this.

I had one piece left over - a long skinny one.  I didn't know at first what it was for, but I went to KaiserCraft and found out.  It's for the very bottom of the unit - so that when fully assembled it stands flat on a table.  If haven't put it on yet - so it's not in the picture, but trust me, it could very well be necessary.

Once I got this far, I realized that wood glue probably would have been a big help.  See my corner - it's not quite lined up.

So depending on how picky you are - this may or may not suit you.  For me, I didn't like it - so I decided to try and fix it up a bit.  Now, since I didn't want to disassemble the whole thing (I'm lazy), I thought I would try sneaking some glue in and around that joint to try to tighten it up.  I used painters tape and a clamp to help me hold it tight while the glue dried.  It worked fairly well, and I'm comfortable with the end result, but I would definitely recommend using the glue as you go method - it would be much easier.

This is when I also realized that the long skinny piece would actually be quite handy.  Once the frame was all 'squared up', it no longer sat quite as straight.  I know it sounds odd initially, but this is because the the back of the unit is slightly larger than the outer frame, by design.  When the frame was left to it's own devices, it compensated for the slight difference I guess and bowed down in the front (which evened out the stance).  After I had squared up the frame though - it no longer bowed, and thus the stance became uneven - know what I mean?).  So, you may need this piece, or you may not - that just depends on how picky you're going to be about getting everything completely square.

So now that I have my calendar frame fully assembled, the fun part begins --> assembling and decorating the drawers.

Stay tuned for the next installment in my adventure to see how I did this.


KaiserCraft Advent Calendar Part 2

To read Part 1 of this article click here.

So as I mentioned earlier - this little gem of a project came with NO instructions for assembly.  This was a bit intimidating at first, but I quickly realized that it wasn't that difficult.

Basically - if it looks like it should be snapped apart - do it, and if the piece looks solid, leave it that way.

Now, on to the next step --- Sanding.

Due to the way this was packaged, once you snap all of your pieces apart you'll be left with a bunch of extra 'nubs' that need to be removed.  If you don't remove them, not only will you calendar not sit properly against a wall (if you decide to hang it), but also, it just won't fit together snuggly.  To remove them, you should first snip them off with a craft knife, and then sand, or file down what's left.  Trust me when I say if you skip the snipping part, you will be sanding for a really really long time (there are way too many nubs to remove)!

The picture below will hopefully help you understand what I mean.

I actually took that photo before I had snapped those pieces apart, but I think it's still clear.

To sand down the nubs, I used a hand-held metal file that I found in my husband's tool box.  I don't actually know what it's intended use is, but it worked great on this project!  I initially tried regular sandpaper, but found it was really tedious.  The metal file worked much better.

Up to this stage I had probably spent just over an hour unpackaging, snapping and filing.  Now it was time to paint - so I laid all of my pieces out like so.

It was right about now that my husband came home and saw me doing this on our dining room table.  Let's just say he was unimpressed -- but c'est la vie.  It was the only surface around that was large enough to spread out all of the pieces.  {I was careful, I promise.}

Since I knew I wanted to paint it brown -- I initially reached into the craft cupboard for some brown acrylic paint.  Bad choice.  I am NOT a good brush painter, and I quickly realized that there were WAY too many pieces for me to fiddle around with.  So instead, I went to the basement, and got out the extra wall paint that we had used last year in our hallway (brown of course), grabbed a small roller and tray and started painting.

Because the MDF tends to absorb the paint, a good 2 coats was required to get even coverage, and of course because I wanted to paint both sides of each piece, this took a while due to the drying time.  One caution here.  You can see that I covered my work surface with newspaper.  In retrospect, this wasn't all that smart.  Plastic of some kind would work better.  Since I'm a bit of a messy painter, some of my pieces (actually a lot of them) ended up sticking to the newspaper after I had painted side one.  Once they were dry, and I went to flip them, I found this out.  As a result, some bit of newspaper did get stuck to the undersides - newspaper which I tediously peeled and picked off so that I could continue painting.

Finally though.....here was the fruits of my labour -- a whole whack of MDF board that was now Brown instead of the unfinished tan that it was when it arrived here.  I think I would have had a bit bigger sense of accomplishment had I painted them Red.  While I knew that it would be worth it in the end, at this stage, it seemed like an awful lot of effort had gone into this for what really was a marginal change in appearance.  But again....c'est la vie.

Here's a pic of the painted pieces.  I took this photo when the second coat was still wet, so you'll have to trust me for now that it did dry a bit darker than this.

To be continued.....

A Cool New Project: KaiserCraft Advent Calendar {Part 1}

On the weekend, I snagged what I think is a very cool project kit that is just perfect for the holidays: The Advent Calendar from KaiserCraft.  It is part of their 'Beyond the Page' line - which I had never seen before.

If you're not familiar with it, this kit was released at CHA this year and contains pre-cut MDF board that when assembled looks like the picture on the right.  That photo is taken from the KaiserCraft website.  Now, I admit, that photo isn't all that exciting if taken at face value, but all of you crafty people out there will surely agree that this little gem has a ton of potential to become a really rockin' altered art piece.

Because this was more involved than most of the projects I take on (like cards or scrapbook pages), I thought I would take some pics along the way and chronicle the process right here on my blog.  So starting from the beginning.....

Here's a pic of the materials as packaged:

As you can see, the packaging is extremely basic - with all of the pieces stacked and shrink wrapped.  There are definitely no frills here, but you do get a picture of a completed sample calendar - which is cute for sure.  You can also see that they have included a sheet of chipboard numbers (zero thru 9).  I haven't checked them out yet, but I would image that you have just enough to complete the calendar as shown - it doesn't look like there are many extras, if any.

Next after unwrapping the package, and laying out all the pieces, here is what you'll see. (I took this with no flash and the lighting was poor, so please excuse the 'yellow' hue.)

Very very quickly I noticed there was one very important thing missing.......INSTRUCTIONS!  Can you believe it?  You've got a pile of MDF shapes, and no idea how to put it together.  Aye yi yi.

Are you excited to see how this all comes together?  I am.

Stay tuned for more updates as I progress through the assembly.


Ali's December Daily

Yesterday I mentioned the December Daily, by Ali Edwards.  Let me just say Wow!  What a fantabulous idea!  I love it!


Now let me say......yikes, I think I am already way behind on this one, and I'll have to do a bit more figuring out to see if I am going to be able to pull this one off.  Not only is is completely outside of my box creatively since I rarely prepare pages in advance of actually having the photos etc to go on them, but it's going to take some time (which is at a premium right now) just to get the bones of the album assembled.

The cool thing about it is that for the most part I think I could use stuff I have on hand already and don't need to purchase additional supplies - so that's a bonus.  I always need an excuse to use up supplies on hand!

I think I'll let this simmer for a day or two before I make a firm decision either way.

Check it out for yourself.  There is a ton of info on her blog from the current year, as well as loads of links to her past year's albums and a Flickr group for sharing.


Holidays in Hand

Today marks the start of the Holidays in Hand free class by Jessica Sprague.  I am totally psyched about this, because I just loved her class tagline: "Capturing the hopes, memories and wonderment of the holidays" and since I love Jessica's work, the class is bound to include some great project ideas and materials.  I really really enjoyed her Stories in Hand class a few months back although the truth is, I still haven't completely put together my Stories in Hand album.  I did however have it out this weekend and am pledging to bump it back to the top of the to-do list!

Nonetheless, as of this morning, there were still some spaces available for the Holidays in Hand class, so if you're interested, pop on over to Jessica's site and enter the promo code listed below to sign up.

Todays lesson is comprised of 3 assignments:

Assignment 1:  Write Your Holiday Values and Goals
  • I'm working on this now
Assignment 2:  Commit
  • Find a way to include at least 20 minutes of recording/writing/photographing/savoring/printing/gluing/scrapbooking/remembering/slowing down EVERY DAY in December
  • A few of the gals in the class forum are also talking about the December Daily by Ali Edwards which they are also doing.  This will apparently help them achieve their 20-minute commitment - so I'm off to Ali's blog in a few minutes to check that out too, it sounds great!
Assignment 3:  Organize
  • This one is defined as a 'bonus' assignment and Jessica has pointed us towards a great website with lots of great worksheets, articles, planners, and other printables to help us all have an Organized Christmas.  Check it out!
For me Assignment 2 is probably going to be the trickiest of the three, but its the one I'm looking most forward to!  In the grand scheme of things 20 minutes isn't a lot of time to squeeze out every day right?

Wish me Luck!