So this was quite an amazing Christmas for me; my husband’s parents got me a Silhouette Cameo! I was not expecting this, so suffice to say I could barely finish unwrapping the box when I realized what it was. I think I just laid my head on the box and cuddled it for a minute while feeling completely overwhelmed.

“Oh, yeah,” my husband says. “They told me they were getting that for you.”

“Why didn’t you stop them!? Why didn’t you tell them it was too expensive?!” This is going on full in front of everyone at Christmas, by the way.

He shrugs. “They do what they want.”

Good grief. I owe them about 5 grandchildren now.

This was the first Christmas I can recall in recent years that I’ve actually had something I’ve been itching to play with all day. As soon as presents were done, I plugged that baby in and got to work. And by getting to work, I do mean setting it up step by step, exactly as the directions indicated and reading every word of the manual. Sadly, even reading the directions insanely carefully didn’t keep me from cutting out giant notches at the top of my cutting mat right off the bat. Sigh.

I’m not going to lie; it was a bit of a struggle at first. Turns out my laptop’s CD player has decided to go on strike, so I had to download the software from the Slow Moving Internets of Oak Glen. That took awhile. But finally we were up and running, and I was figuring out how to access the library and hemming and hawing over what my first shape would be. Of course, I picked one a wee too intricate and made it a wee too small and had my settings a wee bit off, so it was crap. Then I switched to fabric, since my mother-in-law had a nice stack of scraps going, and I had to show her how I was going to make cute onesies for those five grandkids soon. (My husband is pretending he doesn’t hear this.)

I was determined to get something workable out of the day’s practice. After much trial and error, I finally got this adorable guy mostly cut. I had to trim up a couple of spots where the fabric didn’t quite part ways. Baby T #1’s (future baby, not pregnant, calm down, people) first handmade onesie will be Christmasy and it will be adorable!

silhouette cameo cutout of reindeer with christmas fabric

My mother-in-law says, “How will you sew it on the onesie without it fraying?”

Dang it. I really have no idea what I’m doing with fabric. Of course I can’t just iron this on without it actually being an iron-on. But I’m keeping it anyway, and I’ll probably hand sew it on in some weird fashion just to use it because like I said, it was my first real cut-out with my Cameo.

Now we’re back home, and I still have one blessed week off from school, so I busted Cam out again. (Yes, I’ve given him a nickname. And yes, Cam is a him.) This time I decided to keep with my actual strengths, so out came the paper. I was really in the mood to do more than just randomly pick a couple of designs, so I decided to try my hand at my own creations. I recently downloaded the Adobe Shapes app and have been itching to get a sharpie and play with some doodling. Since I’m also trying to plan out some ideas for the start of my next Project Life album, and I wasn’t really finding a fun 2015 shape on Pinterest, I went for making my own.

I can’t believe how incredibly easy it was.

Now to be fair, I have the most updated version of Photoshop, plus a Creative Cloud account (thank you, photography business), and the Shapes app goes hand in hand with both, so I don’t know how easy this is without the Creative Cloud connection syncing shapes automatically, but I can’t imagine it’s much harder.

To make your own Photoshop shape with the Adobe Shape app:

Step 1: Draw your doodle/word/quote on a white piece of paper, using dark lead or ink. I used a thick black Sharpie. You want to use white paper, because contrast is your friend here.

Step 2: Use the Shape app to capture the image. Clean the image up using the app’s instructions and tools.

Step 3: Save the shape. If you have Creative Cloud, saving will automatically sync to your library, and you should be able to find your shape quickly when you open Photoshop. If you don’t have Creative Cloud, I think you can just save the image on your phone, get the picture to your computer with whatever way is easiest, and then open the image in Photoshop.

Step 4: In Photoshop, you may need to fill in the shape. Mine had lots of hollow spots, because the app mostly goes for the outline of the shape. I had to rasterize the shape so I could fill it in with black.

Step 5: Making a custom shape! Click on the Magic Wand tool, then click anywhere on your design. If there are multiple pieces that aren’t touching, just click on the other pieces to add them to the selection. Right click the image and select Make Work Path, and a little box will pop off with the tolerance setting. I set mine to 1, because… why not? Truth moment: I don’t really know what this does. Usually I’d ask my graphic-design-degree husband, but he’s busy playing League of Legends, so I’m on my own for this endeavor. Anyway, Photoshop will create a path around the design. Why do you need this? Honestly, because “Define Custom Shape” in the edit menu will stay grayed out until you do this part. That’s the only reason I’ve got. So now that you’ve done it, “Define Custom Shape” suddenly becomes an option, and bam! It tells you to name your shape and then you’re done! The shape gets tucked away in the custom shapes section for when you want to use it.

Note: you can also make a brush out of your design here, as well. Just choose “Define Brush Preset” from the Edit menu. It’s right above the custom shape option. I did both.

Okay! Man, all that work at the start made me hungry, so in between designing and cutting I did a sushi run for us…which also involved a stop at Costco for our holiday pictures… and a stop at Michaels to check out their vinyl products….

So this is the part where I had to do some research to figure out how to get my shape into the Silhouette Studio software. The instructions I found were to save the image as big as possible, make a jpeg, then open said jpeg in SS. I did this, and my jpeg opened up about 5 sizes bigger than the 12×12 mat. Could’ve probably gone smaller. I zoomed way out to see the whole thing, selected the Trace option, then pulled the traced shape out of the jpeg and moved it onto the image of the cutting mat. Send to Silhouette.

And look how cool it came out! Even my husband was impressed, and that takes a lot. 🙂

project life 2015 silhouette cameo die cut

PS- using an xacto knife instead of buying the expensive spatula = win.

After all my not-so-good attempts from before, I wised up and cut it out first on scrap blank paper before putting in the real deal. This is my last black and white dotted card from the Midnight kit, and it is a card I love, so I couldn’t sacrifice it lightly. The trial went great, but in true Me fashion, I didn’t pay close enough attention to the cut marks on the mat when I stuck down my card. The “t” is falling off the left side. This is why it’s a terrible idea to sing along with Rent (the filmed, Broadway version) while trying to do detailed work.

2015 cut out with silhouette cameo on project life midnight paper

I take it back. The filmed Broadway version of Rent is the best thing to watch/sing along with while crafting. It narrowly beats out the Les Mis 20th anniversary live show, but it does beat it.

Anyway, I made it work. Just tucked the word right up to the edge of the paper so it looks like it wraps around the edge. Like I intended to do it all along, right?

2015 title card for 2015 project life album

And now I have my title card for the first page of my 2015 album! (Card and gold dots are from one of the Heidi Swapp Project Life value kits I bought at Michaels.) Yes, it took extensively longer than any card normally does, but I’m so happy with all the things I learned along the way. Now I’m super confident about making my own designs in the future. Or at least, this future week. Once school starts up again I seriously doubt I’ll have too much time to do longer craft activities like this one.

Ooh, speaking of school… I was supposed to spend today lesson planning… whoops.

Anyone want the design? Like I said, I couldn’t really find any 2015 title designs when I went looking this morning, so maybe this will help someone else who’s on the same mission. 🙂 I’m putting up the links for the Photoshop brush version (an abr file) and the Silhouette design (a studio3 file) into Box for easy downloading.

twenty15 Photoshop brush

twenty15 Silhouette design

Merry Christmas! Back to inequalities and exponential functions I go!




Sewing woes.

I have been in a battle royale with my sewing machine for many, many hours.

I have one productive thing to show for it:

An infant headband for one of our upcoming shoots. And really, the only thing the machine did for me was attach the ends of the lace. Which I could have done by hand. Faster. But I’d finally gotten the thing working, so I wanted to, you know, actually use the machine for something.

Right after this, the bobbin thread got tangled and I had to pull it all out. (Again.)

Sigh. Sewing machine, I know I would love you, if you just gave me opportunities to use you. You keep being a thorn in my side at the beginning of every project, and three hours later we have gotten nowhere except frustrated.

Just thread your needle. Just keep the needle threaded. Just keep the bobbin happy and untangled. Just pull the bobbin thread up.

It’s very simple.

The funny for today…

So Chris overheard me leave a message at Making Memories, about my awesome wonderful beautiful amazing Slice die-cutting machine… that is suddenly not working properly. I had received a ticket number when I contacted them via the website a few weeks ago, but when I hadn’t heard anything, I went to check the status of the number, and it said the ticket number had been completed and closed. 

I was sad about this.

So I called and left them a message explaining the situation. And when I got off the phone, Chris piped up with this:

“You know, I bet it would be really great to work at a scrapbooking company.”

To which I replied, “RIGHT?! WOULDN’T IT?! IT’S MY DREAM!!!” Because, see, I didn’t realize his statement was a) facetious, and b) leading to something else.

He continues:

“Because all day long you’d get people calling with (switch to girl voice), “Um, hi! So sorry to bother you, and I hope you’re having a great day and all, but I have a problem with my scrapbooking machine, and, um, see it won’t cut out my star! And really, all I want is to go back to my scrapbooking! And I really, really love your products, so hopefully you can help me fix this star problem please?”

Touche, OSF. Touche.

But, um, seriously, Making Memories? If you end up reading this, I would really love it if I could cut things out again. Pretty please?

One thing off my list…

… and that’s updating the blog! Hurray!

I know some of you might not really care. But I write my blog so I can look back and remember someday, and it stinks when I think about all the things I’m forgetting to include, things that are making life just so darn memorable right now!

Okay, we’ll start at last Saturday. Lizzie and Brad got hitched, and Lizzie was a beautiful, stunning, calm, picture of elegance kind of bride. You could just tell all day that she was having the best time. So beautiful, Liz. My picture of the day for the fifth is Lizzie getting ready to eat her wedding dinner, with her special Bride apron, and the glowing, floating candles behind her.

I’ve still got a few more to go through for the actual wedding post, but hopefully soon! I think I’ve still got a bit of time before she and Brad get back.

Sunday night Ryan came over to Chris’ with the best idea: weekend road trip to central California to catch Spring Awakening in San Jose, and a new musical in previews called American Idiot, starring John Gallagher, Jr., who just happens to be an original Spring Awakening cast member himself. Best idea of the year! So far it’s Chris and I, Ryan and Sarah, and two of Ryan’s other friends. We’ll do Spring on Friday night, American Idiot on Saturday afternoon, and then have Saturday evening and Sunday to explore and do touristy things in San Francisco.

We are all very excited about these plans. Too bad we have to wait until the end of October!

Ryan made the picture of the day with his L&L meal. L&L is a Hawaiian barbecue place just down the street from Chris’, and the boys love it. Sunday night was my first taste of “Hawaiian cuisine” and sadly I can’t say I’m a real fan. It was a lot of food, but I thought it was just too overpriced for not enough yummy goodness.

Ryan and I voted two against one to rent 17 Again. Chris was opposed when he heard the reviews weren’t stellar, but it ended up being really cute and funny, and he eventually admitted he liked it. If you haven’t seen it yet, go rent it! Definitely a must see fun family flick. (A triple F if you will.)

Oh, White Demon. Why do you insist on being broken? I just want to love you and play with you and show you the sites of San Diego. But you’re going to have to start cooperating.

My dad and I took it to the Chevy dealer to run an official diagnostic on it, since my dad was out of ideas of what could possibly be wrong with the thing. The verdict came Tuesday morning: bad fuel pump. Cost: $640 for Chevy to fix it.

My dad said he could do it cheap over the weekend. From what I heard from my sister, he found a great pump at the wrecking yard but the guy somehow broke it when selling it to him.


This is me in the bathroom mirror.

Not everything in my life is as exciting as weddings and babies and demon cars.

And me again. For first official TV Thursday of the season, Chris tried to brand my computer with his Apple sticker. When I wasn’t going for that, he branded me instead.

Like my new necklace?
Then he insisted on taking a picture of me like that, and I insisted at the last minute of holding up my beautiful PC. Take that, Mac Boy.

Below are the onesies I made for Mel and Chris Holz, who are expecting at the end of October. Chris Holz is one of the four Chris’ that comprise my Chris’ inner circle of best friends. We went to their coed baby shower on Saturday (kind of like Justin and Jen’s baby barbecue), and had a great time eating yummy appetizers, watching Mel open adorable presents while Holz modeled (or demonstrated how to use), and figured out scrambled words like cinsavtanscoi.
(The scrambled word is vaccinations, by the way. No one got that one during the actual game, and the ones like me who can’t go on with life until we know the answers to things took quite awhile figuring that one out.)

Here’s one of the reasons I like that OSF boy: we spent our Saturday afternoon with him in the kitchen, baking cookies for a community service project they’re doing at work, and me at the table scrapbooking to my heart’s content. It was perfect.

Sunday. Yet another reason I like that OSF boy: He made me ‘breakfast’ at 1:3o in the afternoon! Eggs, bacon, toast, and he even cut open a pomegranate! Then he insisted on taking a picture of me for my picture of the day!

Let the record show: I really like that OSF.

(I’m generally a fan of people who feed me. )

And finally, yesterday’s picture: my delightful youth venture thugs.

Okay, they’re not really thugs. They’re actually very sweet. Especially these four. But for some reason junior highers just won’t look normal in pictures, no matter how many you take.

Baby Barbecue

At which we barbecue babies… or at least that’s what Justin was telling us. Justin, the guy who’s going to be a father in a month.

Details to come!

Details are here!

So on Saturday, Jen and Justin had a family/friends barbeque baby shower, mostly because I think Justin wanted to get presents too. Anyway, it was a great afternoon filled with friends, pink streamers, and babies galore (none of which were harmed in the making of this barbeque).

There were lots of pictures taken between me and Justin’s mom. I think every single minute is captured somehow on one of our cameras or another. We’ve got the pictures of the kids (us kids, I mean), pictures with the parents, pictures of present opening, pictures with the cigars (check out Luke Lumsden with his cigar below!). I chose just a few of my favorites to show off here.

I love this group of pictures- it’s Jen opening my present. I ironed on a bunch of cute designs, sayings, birds, and little letter Z’s onto newborn onesies and hats. I’m so glad they loved them, because I had a blast making them specific for little Zoey and her bird-loving, camo-crazy parents!

The baby barbeque was also the first time a lot of people got to meet Chris. I’m pleased to say everyone has decided he is just splendid, and he even has an open invitation to go the Deyling’s for a cigar anytime he wants. And for the record, I did not tell him he couldn’t have a cigar at the party!


Ryan’s Lost surprise extravaganza turned out to be a big hit. Chris and Andy really worked to pull off the perfect Lost party, complete with posters of Ryan as a cast member of Lost, Quarantine signs, Dharma labels on the sodas and beers, and a great photo booth backdrop. That OSF is so talented, I tell you.

Jenna doesn’t know what to do on the island!

Ryan’s just happy he’s got Sarah to keep him company on the island.

Sorry, Ben, no cell phone reception on the island.

Two TGO’s stuck on the island! Track 15 for sure!

We even managed to keep it a surprise, so Ryan was a little dumbfounded when he opened the door to find his friends and family waiting for him in what looked like the Lost wilderness island. Of course, it helped that he was just a wee bit tipsy from the fake out bar trip that Beth took him on. 

Read Ryan’s thoughts on his surprise party here!

That elusive thing called creativity

Well, fellow bloggers and loyal readers. Here we are. 7am. On a Saturday.

I know, right? What the heck?
I’m not entirely sure what we’re doing here either, and yet here we are. I think I’m going to blame it on the sudden surge of creativity I got last night around 2:30am. Somewhere between returning from Ryan’s house after a night of Wii Mario Party and feeling very, very sleepy and finishing up the last half of the July issue of Creating Keepsakes (which I have a layout in, if anyone cares and wants to go buy a copy from their local Michael’s, FYI). Anyway, as I lay the magazine down and turned to cuddle under my warm down blankets, I was struck with this overwhelming need to Create Something. And then a gazillion desirable projects ran through my head, until my heart was pounding and all I wanted to do was jump out of bed and power up my new laptop (which still needs a name, by the way; any suggestions are welcome) and get to work on all these unfinished, unattempted, things.
I did not do this of course, because it was freaking 2:30 in the morning after all. Nope, I waited it out an entire four and a half hours. Until seven. On Saturday morning. Oh, sleep. I’m sure I’ll be meeting you later this afternoon.
So the question is What to work on? Unfinished business, like my novel, blog book, scrapbooks (both paper and digital), picture of the days? Or surge into something new, like a baby shower gift for Justin and Jenafer, or another special Gwen book for her upcoming ninth birthday? There are so many possibilities. And yet I don’t have time to do it all.
Whew. 7:24. I guess I better get started on what I can.