Thursday, December 20, 2007

A little goes a long way.

If there is one thing I can say about my travelling, it is that it gives me so much perspective. Most of us in the US have an amazing life, one for which, I am grateful each and every day. And everyone here can shoulder a small amount of responsibility to make the world a better place.

There are so many ways to make even the smallest difference. DH and I are 'giving' the boys a goat for Christmas through Oxfam, because we feel it is important for them to remember that in this season of coveted electronics and other expensive gifts, something as simple as a goat will really make a difference to a family in an impoverished nation. can you help? Have a little fun and challenge yourself at FreeRice . It will take you back to your SAT prep days, LOL! The premise? For each vocabulary word you get right, there are 20 grains of rice sent to a needy area by the UN. All of it is paid for by the advertising on the site, which I don't even really see when I'm on there! (Shh, don't tell the companies that advertise there!)

My challenge to you is to go, and in this season of giving, take 10 minutes and donate some rice. For those of you with older kids, ask them to give it a whirl, too. Wally and the Beav go there regularly, and while most of the words are still a little beyond them, they still get a good feeling about making a difference - no matter how small.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nestabilities in the Cuttlebug

As you probably know, I'm joining the Spellbinders design team at the beginning of 2008 (which, as it is, is just several days away!). Part of my starter kit is a brand new Wizard die cutting machine, which I'm very excited to learn inside and out.

In the meantime, though, I've been using the Spellbinders Nestabilities in my Cuttlebug machine. (For fear of sounding like a commercial, these dies are universal, so with the right sandwiches, you can use them in any manual die cut machine. Check out the Spellbinders website for more information.) There's been a lot of chatter on message boards about what just the right sandwich is for the Cuttlebug; part of the problem is that the B plates can break pretty easily (they're meant to be 'disposable'; I think of it planned obsolescence on Provo Craft's part). So here's what I've been using with my 'bug without breaking B plates:

CUTTING SANDWICH: (top to bottom)
B plate
die - rough side up
B plate*
3 pieces chipboard*
A plate

FOR EMBOSSING: (top to bottom)
B plate
die w/ cardstock down
tan mat*
B plate*
1 layer chipboard*
A plate

* I have these layers taped together for ease of layering when using them. So I have a cutting layer and an embossing layer, kwim?

Now this might be what works for my machine and not yours, but give it a shot. The calibrations on the machines don't seem to be consistent, so your machine may be thinner between the rollers than mine. But if you're looking for a sandwich that works, give this one a try!

Have you seen the latest release from Papertrey Ink? They're so sweet! I'm expecting mine to arrive today or tomorrow - and it was really hard not to order them all! I did order Sweet Love (I'm a sucker for a great swirl!) and Limitless Labels (year round possibilities!). I am blown away month after month by Nichole Heady's ingenuity!

Well, in case I don't get back here before Christmas, I hope you have a very Merry one! Enjoy the glad tidings and time with family. Be well! ~ Jenn

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A little holiday gift idea

For quite a while now, I've been playing around with the idea of making personalized scratch pads. The question was how, right? Well, as it turns out, it is kind of easy (albeit, a bit tedious, but here goes).

This is a small padfolio and coordinating pen made with Papertrey Ink's Spiral Bouquet. I wanted this to coordinate with the digital kit that was available from Paper Crafts magazine for World Card Making Day. The cover is stamped (SU Creamy Caramel, Palette Burnt Umber) and has highlights of white from Liquid Applique. The oval tag is stamped (same colors) and made into a Making Memories metal tag. The ribbon is stamped with Burnt Umber.

Inside, I made a personalized pad from the digital kit. I created all of this in MS Word by setting my margins to 1/4 of a page, inserting a 1" strip of the patterned paper from the kit at the top and typed in "from the desk of Jennifer Ellefson" in a font called Little Days. I copied the design to be printed 4x per sheet, cut and gave all the bottom sides a decorative edge. To make the pad, I cut a piece of chipboard the same way, stacked it all up and applied PVA along the top edge. I held it together with clamps (yes, my fun, colorful clamps that I wrote about here) until it was dry. I adhered the pad to the folio with red line tape.

The pen is simply lined with a piece of the digital paper that I mis-cut. ;) It is a Pentel RSVP pen (available at WalMart and Staples, amongst others, I'm sure).

It always seems like this time of year leaves you scrambling for little gifts for teachers, bus drivers, etc. and I think these might just fit the bill. And since I'm about as far from an expert as you can be with digital scrapbooking, I'm sure you can do this as well! If you do, I would love to know where you post it, so leave me a link!

Be well! ~ Jenn

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I love to read!

One thing that I really love, but have to make time for, is reading. There's nothing like finishing a good book. With DH having been out of town, I was able to finish two that I really loved:

The Meaning of Night (shoot, bloggin' on my Mac, and I don't know the code to underline - just know I know it should be there!) by Michael Cox - very cool book! I can't say that it is a mystery, but it is full of intrigue and holds your interest. It is set in Victorian England, and presents the main character as a bad guy, yet one for whom you gain a large amount of sympathy. Great story and very well written - a challenging book, but one that I am very glad to have read.

P.S. I Love You - the book that the movie is based on. (I always hurry to read a book before seeing the movie, and usually end up not seeing the movie because I'm afraid it won't live up to the book. That is probably going to be the case here.) I guess this technically falls into the category of "chick lit" but I enjoyed this book quite a lot. I wanted something a little less difficult to read, and this was perfect! Such a sweet love story - I laughed, I cried... :) Enjoyable story!

I'm busy starting bar mitzvah invitations for our dear friends. Larry, the father, is a professional - he works in print marketing with my DH at American Eagle. Just a little intimidating doing this for a professional!!! We all sat down last week for the initial design consultation, a self-folding mailer; I awoke in a panic at 2am, realizing the pocket we thought was perfect wouldn't hold the inserts in the mail. We all got a great laugh from that! (And at least I know the professionals have the same DUH moments as the rest of us!) The design flaw has been solved, the perfect color has been found, so we are on our way. I'm really enjoying learning about the whole tradition behind this ceremony.

DH's office holiday parties were last night (two of them, on the same night!). I did the invitations for the department party, so it was nice to hear all the positive feedback in person. They were pretty quick and easy, but I forgot to take a picture of them! Can you believe it?

I'm already thinking about New Year's goals - this coming year, I have to get better organized! I'm great about writing everything down, but I need to get it all in one place. I have this invention that I'm going to go ahead and post here, since I'm not capable of producing it, and don't know who would be - BUT I NEED THIS! I want a screen to mount on my refrigerator that I can beam my Palm to and have everything in synch and readily available to view by the other members in the family. Push a button and everyone knows what is going on. Because therein lies my problem - I keep two calendars, one for me on my computer/Palm and another traditional paper one in the kitchen for the family; and invariably, something gets put on one and not the other.

So if you know of someone able to produce that, please pass it along. All I want in return is one when it's finished! Deal?

I think that's all for now. If you have any good books that you recommend, let me know!

Be well ~ J.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I've been on solo parent duty, so I apologize for my absence! My DH has been away on an amazing trip for work (yes, if you're sensing I'm a little green, you are right on!). He came home last night, so the boys and I have been showering him with attention. Take a look at this!

That's what you think it is - the pyramids in Egypt. He came home with some amazing pictures. In addition to visiting Egypt, he spent time in Israel, Jerusalem, Jordan and Hong Kong during this trip. Mind blowing stuff!

While he was away, I tackled the mess that was my craft room! I have no idea how I accumulate so much, but I couldn't ignore it any longer. It was a bigger project than I anticipated, but I am glad that it is finished. My closet still looks horrendous, but I have contained it -- and you can't see the mess from the hall any more. That's my pet peeve; it can BE messy, I just would prefer that it not LOOK messy. (And if my mom is reading this, she is laughing hysterically - this has been as much of a lifelong affiliction, much like my love of paper.)

If you're digging out from snow like us, stay warm! I hope you have a great weekend. Be well! ~ Jenn