Monday, December 15, 2014

A Good Deal on Dies...

This past weekend, I was at a retreat at Scrappin' Goodtime in Corsicana.  While we were there, Jen Long, in-house designer for Sizzix, was there demonstrating some of Sizzix's new dies.  We made two cards, and I loved the dies so much I had to buy two sets.*

Both of the sets I purchased have 20+ dies in them and sell for $19.99 each.  That makes them an incredible value at less than $1 per die.  I was also fortunate to get a retreater's discount  for an even greater savings, and I've already used the new dies several times.

The dies used on these cards were:

*I purchased these two sets, and will be sharing more projects that feature them later on this week.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Little Blocks of Time

Yesterday, I told you how I use all that wasted time away from home to work on craft projects, but we all know we have plenty of wasted time at home and at work, too.  It comes in the form of Facebook, Twitter, Etsy, Amazon, text messages, phone calls (I was once on hold with a travel supplier for over two hours!)…the list is endless.

I know someone who gets to scrapbook at work.  Yep, right at her desk between phone calls.  I think that’s amazing!  Most of us are not that fortunate, and we struggle with finding the time to tackle some of our bigger projects.  I have an album that I only work on at retreats.  I would really like to finish it up, but I always feel like I don’t have any time to work on it.  Then I got this blog posting from one of my favorites, Christine Kane, and I just had to share (with permission).

A layout created by Pam Wilemon for Crafty Neighbor

How to Get Big Projects Done (When You’ve Got No Time)
Written by Christine Kane

You’ve wanted to write a book forever – but each year goes by it doesn’t get written.

You promised yourself you’d get rid of all the crap in the basement – and months have passed leaving you grateful you didn’t share your intention with your kids.

You’ve been meaning to set up a merchant account, read that book, start a blog, celebrate your 40th birthday party (six years ago), learn how to knit, practice yoga.

And you keep waiting for that big long sabbatical on a white horse to show up at your door so you can do all of these things you don’t have time to do.

The truth is, even if it did show up, you’d probably panic and spend even more time on Facebook than you do already.

That’s because until we learn how to leverage our small windows of time, we won’t be all that great at using our big imaginary unending sabbaticals.

However, the idea of days upon days of uninterrupted time with no appointments or to-dos has probably served a wonderful purpose for you…

It has become a convenient excuse to not do what you say is your most important dream.

So, you can nod your head and continue to be disappointed in yourself.

Or you can take just FIVE SIMPLE STEPS and start getting your big things done in small windows of time.

Do this:

1.  Define your Priorities by Creating a Master List
  • When you begin ANYTHING, start with definition.
  • When you don’t define, then you don’t really know what you want to do.
  • And when you don’t know really what to do, your small windows of time become meaningless. Easy to blow off.
  • Your first step is to make a list of what it is that you keep telling yourself you want to complete.
  • Write it all down so you define what’s important to you.  This is your Master List.
2.  Pick one thing from your Master List and break it down into small pieces.
  • Pick one item on that list that feels the most exciting and/or do-able to you. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just choose one.
  • Ask yourself how to break this item down into small pieces.  What elements could be completed in 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there?  A quick bit of research?  Choosing one limited area of the attic?  Challenging yourself to write the first draft of an article in 30 minutes just for fun?
  • Write down those action steps.
3.  Do it.
  • Let’s say it’s noon.  You have a lunch appointment at 12:30. That’s a good 25 minutes. You could “hop on line,” go to Facebook, check emails and blow that 25 minutes in a matter of seconds.
  • Or you can train yourself to notice this small window of time.  Then, set your timer and challenge yourself to make even a tiny little bit of progress on the priority you wrote down.
4.  Make it a Habit
  • Every Sunday, look at your schedule for the week.  Find those spaces where you have 30 minutes to an hour each day. (Yes, you do have them. Take a look.)  Schedule appointments in your calendar. Show up for them. Set your timer.
  • Again, this seems simple and small. But it’s huge.
  • After all, you’re asking yourself to shift a well-worn habit. You’re choosing to honor a priority, rather than splatter your attention.  Learn to stay conscious for your small windows – and when you have bigger windows show up, you won’t be as daunted!
5.  Set a Deadline
  • If you really want to get something done, give it a deadline.
  • Promise your best friend it’ll be on her doorstep by X Date.  Then, write a check to your most despised political cause or party.  Give the check to your friend. Tell her to mail it if you don’t meet your deadline.  (I’m serious about this! I have an accountability buddy out there who has just such a check from me in a drawer somewhere.)
  • But hey, it doesn’t always take money.

Just now, I challenged myself to write this article in a small window of time.  My day is mostly done.

And I’m putting my theory to the test.

This took me exactly 25 minutes to write.  No, it’s not a book. But it’s a start.

Christine Kane is the Mentor to People Who are Changing the World. She helps women and men Uplevel their lives, their businesses and their success. Her weekly Uplevel You eZine goes out to over 37,000 subscribers. If you are ready to take your life and your world to the next level, you can sign up for a FREE subscription at

Question of the Day:  What projects have you been putting off, and how can you break them down into little blocks of time?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Crafting on the Go!

Do you ever wonder where all your time goes?  I do!  With two companies to run (Crafty Neighbor and my travel agency, Crafty Neighbor Travel), I am constantly busy running here, running there, finishing this, working on that.  A lot of time gets wasted driving in traffic (especially construction!) and waiting for web pages and computer applications to load, process, or do whatever it is that makes everything seem so S-L-O-W.  And I feel like I never have any time to scrapbook or craft.  One way that I remedy that is to take a little bit of crafting with me wherever I go, and it’s a lot easier than it sounds.

Since I seldom have large chunks of time to work on my favorite projects, I have to make use of the little bits of time I do have…the little bits that seem to always get wasted here and there…for instance, sitting at the doctor’s office or car wash.  By keeping a small project in my car, (usually something that I can carry in my purse or a small tote bag), I can make use of all that idle time.  My favorite projects to carry around these days are knitting and crochet, especially scarves because they are repetitive and I don’t have to read the pattern once I get it started.  I’ve also brought along a notebook for journaling, a sketchbook for drawing, and even my Zentangle supplies.  Photos can be cropped on the go with a small paper trimmer, and Provocraft’s Gypsy is great for portable die cutting projects.

As a travel agent, I also spend a lot of nights in hotels on business-related trips, and rather than while away the hours watching free HBO, I frequently bring some crafty materials with me to work on.  My favorite things to work on are my smash book and my art journal, but I have also worked on 12x12 page layouts during Layout a Day, and I’m getting ready to start on a mini-album to document all the scrapbook stores I’ve visited over the years.  I like projects like these because I can usually get away with bringing only a small paper trimmer and a few embellishments or supplies (think shoe box, etc.).  Just this weekend, I was traveling with my daughter Christen and we both brought our art journals to work on.  The bed makes a great workspace; just make sure you bring a mat to protect the bedding.

Here’s some of what I worked on. 

These are just the beginnings of pages in my journal.  The loose paper will be a Zentangle when I’m done with it.  They are both projects in my 365 Challenge. 

And this is my little travel kit of supplies.  I actually took more than this box on this trip, but I can usually manage with just this box.  It contains my Copic markers, an assortment of pens and pencils, a few small stamps, ink, and washi tape.  I even threw a few small stencils in just for grins.

Speaking of traveling…the reason for our journey to the Houston area was two-fold.  The main purpose was for me to inspect the Carnival Magic cruise ship as a requirement for my CLIA Accredited Cruise Counselor certification.  (It’s a fabulous ship, by the way!)  The other purpose was to visit those three scrapbook stores in the Houston area (because who can pass up an opportunity to shop at a new scrapbooking store?), and the third reason was to promote our 2015 Crafty Neighbor Scrapbooking Cruise! 

I am so excited to announce that the next Crafty Neighbor Scrapbooking Cruise will be:

October 4 - 11, 2015
on a
7-Night Caribbean Cruise
aboard the
Royal Caribbean
Navigator of the Seas
including the ports of
Falmouth, Jamaica
George Town, Grand Cayman
Cozumel, Mexico
Starting at just $741* per person!

We have all-new instructors this year bringing a wide variety of projects and styles, and we’ll have an official announcement very soon, but in the mean time, here’s a few hints: 
  • We’ll have a store-owner onboard along with a mini-store
  • One of the instructors is Copic certified to teach both the Standard and Intermediate Level
  • We’ll be focusing on lots of new techniques including more scrapbooking and cardmaking
  • Best of all, it’s all included in the cost of your cruise!

Our annual cruise is probably my favorite way to take my crafting with me on the go, and it’s a sure-fire way to get in as much quality time with your craft supplies as you could possibly want!  If you’d like more information about how you could spend 7 blissful days at sea with your scrapbooking pals, just click on the advertisement on the top left of this blog, or visit our website at

And before I leave…here is the info on the three stores we visited in the Houston area:

If you’re in the Houston area, try to stop by and visit these 3 stores.  The ladies there were very friendly and they all carry different products.  It will be well worth your trip.

Question of the day:  What kinds of crafty projects have you managed to take with you on the go, and how did that work out?

Friday, October 17, 2014

More Scrap Projects and Gamsol

Twice this week, I have shared with you projects made from a single page kit I brought home from our last scrapbooking cruise.  Today I have two more projects to share that were made from the same scraps.  I think I added one piece of blue cardstock, but for the most part, that’s it.

The first one I did was this sympathy card.  This features a butterfly from my stamped image stash.  I wish I knew who made these butterfly stamps.  I have several of them that I bought several years ago when the Scrapbook Barn, a LSS near me, was open.  I would love to see if they still make them.  I know there were several others that I didn’t buy. 

This time, instead of using my Copics, I decided to color it with pencils and do the blending with Gamsol.  If you’ve never played with Gamsol, you should check out this video Colored Pencil Blending with Gamsol by Inky Antics.

My last project I will show you today is an 8x8 scrapbook page.  This is not a size I usually make, but I had a large piece of the blue cardstock left and it wasn’t the right size to make a card, so I decided to do a small-format page instead.  I think this is a great use of scrap paper because I can save up a bunch of these random pages, put them in a small album, and I have an instant gift for someone.  All it needs is a few embellishments and pictures!

The "for the hook...we're solid" strip is the flip-side of the barcode strip from CTMH paper 

Question of the day:  Have you ever colored stamps with pencils or markers, and if so, what is your favorite method?