Thursday, April 30, 2020

My Month in Quarantine (Part 2)

I just wanted to do a quick post to remind you about National Scrapbook Day coming up on May 2.  Many of you probably had plans to celebrate this little holiday by cropping or retreating with your friends. Most of those events have been cancelled due to COVID-19, but that doesn't mean you can't celebrate anyway -- even if you're not a scrapper!

I was supposed to be heading to a retreat on Thursday with several of my crafty friends, but the retreat decided to cancel their event. I'm so sad, especially since Scrapbook Expo in Irving was cancelled, and Great American Scrapbook Convention is now moved (very inconveniently) to the same weekend as my daughter's wedding (uhh...Christen, would it be okay if I duck out early to go crop? LOL Oh, you want to go, too?  Okay...). Seriously, though, I really wanted to crop with my friends, and I wanted to have that "retreat feeling", so we're going to make it happen, even if we have to all stay in our own homes.

I host a weekly crop at my house every Thursday, and when coronavirus decided to rear its ugly head, we decided to continue cropping via Zoom.  Zoom meetings is very easy to use, and I opted to pay for the premium service (for now) so we can have meetings longer than 40 minutes. We meet every Thursday at 10 AM and crop until 4PM or until everyone has to get offline to go make dinner. It's very much the same as having everyone here in person.  We work on whatever we're working on and we chat, and sometimes we get engrossed in our projects, so we don't talk at all, but we're still together.  And we get the satisfaction of being able to share our projects with each other. It's so much more fun than crafting alone.

A virtual crop with my Thursday MDO crop group.

For our National Scrapbook Day crop and retreat, we'll again be using Zoom, but we'll start on Friday morning and the crop will run continuously until Sunday afternoon, so everyone can come and go.  The idea is to treat it just like a real retreat, so I'm going to chase my family out of my craft area and put up a big sign that says, "Gone on a Retreat!" I'll even wear my pajamas and eat some junk food, just to make it feel real.  One of our friends is coordinating "door prizes" to be given away; everyone will dig through their stash to find a few items they no longer want or need. We'll take pictures to post in our Facebook group and we will have drawings throughout the event for people to pick which prizes they want.

You don't have to do something as elaborate as our little virtual retreat, but you should definitely consider doing something for National Scrapbook Day.  Some stores are posting that they are going to host events. Or you could join one of the many virtual crops already planned (just Google National Scrapbook Day Virtual Crop). Use Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or another video chat software to meet with friends.  Finding ways to be social, even when we're social-distancing, is important to our mental well-being. And besides, who can say "no" to an excuse to stay in your PJs and eat junk food?

Cindy Murray
Crafty Neighbor

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

My Month in Quarantine (Part 1)

Image created by articular -
These are strange times, aren’t they? Two months ago, I could not have imagined that I would have spent the last six weeks confined to my home except for essential errands like groceries and the pharmacy. Two months ago, I was happily planning several craft weekends with my friends, getting my mom’s estate in order, and working on some big and exciting projects. Last month, everything changed.

If you’re like me, this crisis has meant a lot of changes in your home and work life, and you may find that you have a lot of extra time on your hands or that you’re busier than ever. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a travel agent, and I typically work from home, but no one is traveling now. Most of my business has either cancelled or moved to later dates, and no one is looking to arrange new travel until this whole situation has settled down, and then who knows whether anyone can afford it since so many people are out of work. So basically, I’m out of work, too.

I had thought this bit of respite would allow me to catch up on a bunch of projects, and I could spend a lot of time crafting and reorganizing my studio. But all this free time I imagined I would have has completely evaporated into the ether of having 4 people living in the same house, cooking 3 meals a day, and generally keeping me busy and distracted.  So, when I mentioned last month that I had a project in the works that I was going to start sharing here on my blog, I really believed I was going to have time to do that, when in fact, this is the first chance I’ve even had to think about my blog. (sigh)

What was the big project I was going to share with you? My daughter’s wedding! Yes, I was very excited to share with you that my daughter got engaged last fall, and we are planning lots of crafty things to go with her rustic-chic theme. We wanted to do a lot of the work ourselves for a number of reasons. Obviously, we are both crafty people and have been hoping for the day when we could put our skills to work on a wedding, but doing the planning ourselves affords us more control over details, and in the long run, if we’re smart about it, a good bit of financial savings. For instance, pretty, laser-cut invitations generally start around $5 each, so for 100 guests, it would easily cost upwards of $500 for a simple card and envelope with inserts. Doing a card as elaborate as the one we designed (I’ll show it in a future post) would cost us over $1000. By making them ourselves, we may spend more time and effort on it, but will spend only $250 on paper and envelopes, and likely less than $350 once you add in printer ink and adhesives.

So with Christen’s wedding scheduled for August, we started planning our projects carefully and we scheduled work days on various weekends so that we could get it all done in time without having to rush. I was going to share those projects with you as we went along, but then the COVID lockdown came, and social distancing prevents us from getting together.  Fortunately, I did manage to get some pictures of the projects we completed before the shutdown, so I’ll share those with you, and hopefully we’ll be back to working on our projects together soon.

One of the trends we’ve seen on Instagram is a Remembrance Table featuring photos of deceased loved ones. We liked this idea because a lot of very dear people in our family have passed on, and we know they would be a part of this magical day if they could be. So in keeping with Christen’s shabby-chic theme, we opted to alter and distress the photo frames ourselves, which is very easy to do. We’re also going to use the frames for signs during the reception, so we estimated that we needed about 20. In order to keep this project inexpensive, but not cheap, we raided the stash at home before paying a visit to the Dollar Tree to see what they had. 

The frame in the center was treated with a torn paper decoupage.
The frame on the left was painted, distressed an then Christen added lace and pearls.

This was a Dollar Tree framed artwork, but we liked the frame,
so we added pearls.

This is one of several identical frames that were a reddish brown color.
Christen painted and distressed it before adding the burlap ribbon and flower.

You've probably seen these wooden frames in the dollar bin at Michael's.
Christen painted this one and then added some beautiful foil stickers.
I was really excited about the way this one turned out.
This was a clear acrylic frame that I recolored using alcohol inks.
The picture doesn't do it justice!

Another simple upcycle -- Christen added rhinestones to this
plastic gold frame we found at Dollar Tree. 

Another of the Michael's frames. Paint and embellishments by Christen.

There are two of these frames in two sizes.  Christen painted and distressed this one
before adding strips of bling.  The two rhinestones on the sides cover a metal
embellishment that didn't look good with the paint.

As you can see, we’ve used a lot of different techniques to dress up these frames. We’ve used acrylic paint, alcohol ink, lace, ribbon, pearls, rhinestones, metallic stickers, and even bits of old broken jewelry.  We had a few that didn’t get finished because we needed to spray paint, etc., but then the weather turned damp, so it will have to wait for warm sunny days. My only regret is that we failed to take any “before” pictures, so you could see what we’ve done. We'll post the remaining frames when they get finished.

So that’s it for this post, but I wanted to let you know about all the exciting project posts we have coming up.  In addition to the distressed picture frames, we’ll also be working on:

  • Handmade pocket invitation suites
  • Floral arrangements and d├ęcor
  • Bouquets and boutonnieres
  • Bride’s Maids gifts
  • Favors
  • Recycled chandelier
  • and so much more!

Those posts will be popping up over the next few months as we work on different projects.  In my next post, I want to share with you another project I’ve been working on during this coronavirus crisis, and keep your eyes out for a video flip through of my 2019 One Little Word project and a sneak peak at my 2020 album.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’re finding some time to be crafty!

Cindy Murray
Crafty Neighbor