Sunday, October 11, 2020

What's in Yours?

Hubby and I are huge science nerds.  We grew up in the age of moon landings, Star Trek, and Space Invaders, so it’s no secret that we are also fans of NASA. Today, Mark stumbled across a fun article relating to the Artemis program, NASA’s current program to send the first woman (and the next man) to the moon. The mission itself is pretty exciting, but one of the things that particularly caught our eye was the “What’s in Your #NASAMoonKit?” promotion.

Astronauts who travel to the International Space Station are very limited on what personal items they can bring with them into space.  Each astronaut is allowed a “personal preference kit” that takes up a maximum volume of 5” x 8” x 2”.  For the record, that’s smaller than this Creative Memories paper trimmer.

What would you put in your personal preference kit?  NASA invites you to think about what you would take to the moon and share what you would put in your #NASAMoonKit on social media. Take a picture or video and post it with the hashtag #NASAMoonKit on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. If they like it, NASA might share your kit on their own social media accounts or their Green Run broadcast.  Oh, and don't forget to tag @CraftyNeighbor and #craftyneighbor. I’ll be posting mine to Instagram and Facebook sometime in the next few days!

For all the rules, check the official “What’s in Your #NASAMoonKit?” website. 



Saturday, October 10, 2020

Craft Your Stress Away

Today is World Mental Health Day, and I can’t help but think that we could all use a day to pay a little bit more attention to our stress levels and spend a little more time giving ourselves some self-care. This year has been…shall we say “bizarre”…to say the least. My stress levels are so high my ears are ringing and I have to keep reminding myself to relax my neck and shoulders. Sadly, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better any time soon. Ugh. Everything is being cancelled, done virtually, and just messed up in general.  They’re even discouraging Halloween festivities. Luckily for us, we are crafters, so we have some great de-stressing tricks and treats (see what I did there?) right at our fingertips, so I’m here today to remind you about a few of them.

1. Craft with friends

My household can be a bit chaotic even on a good day.  With three (sometimes four) adults and two dogs, there’s always some kind of noise and commotion. I like to get away to crops and retreats where I can tune out all that mess, but with COVID, that’s just not possible. Back in March, when we weren’t able to meet in person any more, we started doing some Zoom crops (weekly on Thursdays, and frequently on weekends, too). It’s been a tremendous stress release to be able to chat with my friends, especially when we all come to realize we all have the same hopes and fears about this crazy situation. You can start your own Zoom meeting, open a Facebook “room”, or use any number of other online meeting options.  You can even join our weekly meetings; the info is available in our Crafty Neighbor Facebook Group: Crop and Craft Events. That’s where we post all of our virtual and (hopefully some day) in-person events from now on.

2. Do something mindless

Since I can’t go anywhere to get away from the stressful things in my life, I’ve started to think instead about things I can do right here at home, and that usually means veg’ing out on TV while doing something quiet and mindless. Zentangle, doodling, and coloring are great options, as is sewing the binding on a quilt, or even just cutting your scrap paper down to card or photo mat sizes. I have spent many an hour rolling balls of yarn and spools of ribbon. Just find something simple that you don’t have to think too much about.

3. Go for a quick victory

One sure-fire way to feel better is to give yourself an easy win. Finishing an unfinished project, cleaning out a drawer in your craft room, putting those finished layouts into albums, or even jotting down some ideas for your next project are all great ways to boost your mood. By checking off a task on your to-do list, you give yourself an automatic check in the “win” column, and that always feels good. It doesn't have to be a big undertaking…completing even the smallest task is enough to get the endorphins going. 

So the next time you’re feeling down in the dumps, or anxiety is making you pull your own hair out, treat yourself to one of these crafty (and fun) techniques to kick that stress to the curb! I know you’ll be glad you did! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Wedding Invitations

I know I promised this a long, long time ago, and I thank you much for waiting so patiently while we got through a whole bunch of stuff. It was just too much for Christen and I to do all this work on the wedding AND find time to blog about it. I did make sure to take lots of pictures, so I hope you’ll think it was worth the wait as I start on this series of wedding posts. So without further adieu, I would like to share the invitations we made.

Christen and Travis chose to wait about a year before getting married so they could have time to save up for the big day and to give us plenty of time to make all the crafty things we wanted. They found the perfect venue soon after, and we kept getting asked whether they had set the date, so we decided to send out “Save the Date” cards.

I designed these myself in Photoshop, using several fonts I downloaded from the internet. These included Lightfoot ShadowedSafina FancyJazz LETPlaybillDakota, and Little Lord Fontleroy. I also used Helvetica font, which usually comes installed on most computers.

For printing, I sent my postcard to Got Print, my go-to printing company. They offer fast, convenient service, highly competitive pricing, and they even have a facility right here in North Texas. Before sending your designs for printing, you’ll want to make sure you have designed the front and back as two separate files. You may need to convert to CMYK color, so be sure to read the instructions carefully for the optimal file format and observe the bleed marks, etc. We chose full color on both sides 4”x6” standard postcard on 14 pt. Uncoated Cover paper. Choose the online Instant Processing Proof to speed up the service and keep the costs down. We paid $31.88 for 100 postcards, including tax and shipping. Larger orders offer greater savings.

We had a lot of ideas about the actual invitations, but after months of playing with a Silhouette cut file that wouldn’t cut all the way (just too intricate at that size), we gave up and ordered this die set from Amazon*. We made about 130 invitations in all, and it took us a lot longer to cut out than we had estimated. For one thing, this tiny intricate die didn’t always cut well. We wound up having to use a shim and we had to stop frequently to cut wax paper with it a few times to help it release the little bits and pieces. There are so many tiny pieces in this design that it literally shredded my Sizzix Die Brush Tool*. After that, we tried a soft-bristled toothbrush before we settled on a stiff brush from my Sonic Scrubber*. The combination of the stiff bristled brush and the above-mentioned wax paper worked well, if a bit slow.

The die we used comes in two pieces, as shown. One cuts the pocket and the other is an edge die, which has a score mark to be placed against the fold-line of your trifold invitation. This particular die was designed to create a 4" x 6" card -- NOT the standard A2 (4 ¼" x 5 ½") card most commonly used in the U.S. We searched all over for a die to make the right size, to no avail. So we decided to make do with this one. The problem we found with this was that it was very difficult to get the score marks exactly perpendicular to the length of the card and exactly where it needed to be scored since we couldn't line up the edges of the die perfectly. Rather than try to precisely place the die on the fold, we chose cut the paper into 5 ½” x 12” strips and used the die on one end. Once it was cut, we could score at the edge of the die-cut area and fold it inward before trimming to the desired length…in this case, a standard 4 ¼” x 5 ½” card. So basically cut first, score, then trim.

The pocket die also contains score lines to help with construction. Simply fold the tabs inward and add adhesive before sticking it to the right-hand flap of your card. I used ¼” Scor-Tape* for a sturdy hold. 

The remaining parts inside the card were printed on my laser printer using Stampin’ Up Very Vanilla paper and a brown-toned ink using the following fonts: Imprint MT ShadowBell MT, and Octavina Swash. The Octavian font came as a bundle I purchases a while back from, however it is also available for free on various font websites. The paid version offers contextual and stylistic alternates for many of the letters. We also added a text embellishment from the Type Embellishments One LET font. Embellishments like these are fun to play around with, and sometimes you can create lovely embellishments by combining two or more into a single arrangement. 

Inside the card, we included the formal invitation (on the left) and a Details card and the RSVP card in the pocket on the right. Right before we sent the invitations, we decided to also add a COVID statement/request as another item in the pocket to remind our guests to wear masks. 

The invitation was held together with a 1” belly band, trimmed to size. The “buckle” on the band was created with Mirri Lava metallic rose gold paper from The Paper Cut and the Artisan Label punch from Stampin’ Up. The punch is discontinued, but there are many fine dies and punches that would work just as well. The inner part of the buckle was printed on Stampin’ Up Very Vanilla on my laser printer using the Little Lord Fontleroy font again. I simply built the design using multiple layers of boxes and text boxes, moving each layer around until I had it where I wanted it. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it was actually printed in black and then Travis (my new son-in-law!) ran it through my Heidi Swapp Mini Minc* to foil it in Teal*.

The other products we used to create the invitations were:

Bazzill paper in the color Blue Oasis, which I ordered from my good friend and former Crafty Neighbor instructor, Karrie Allen at Scrapp’n Savvy in Conroe, Texas.


Kraft Cardstock Paper from Hobby Lobby* 


One more little thing...because of the weight and thickness of the complete invitation, we had to add more postage when we took them to the post office.  My advice...put them all together and take one to the post office to be weighed before you put any postage on them...there might be a single stamp in the right denomination!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tutorial on making these lovely and lacy wedding invitations!  I’ll be posting more of our wedding crafts and other tips and projects soon. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss out!

*Here are links to many of the products I used. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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