Sunday, July 25, 2010

Life's a Barrel of Monkeys!

Another day, another barrel of monkeys!

The Baby Mama (Emily) came over to play today, and we decided to head on over to A.C. Moore to figure out what to do and how to make the centerpieces for the infamous, upcoming baby shower.

So check this out! We decided to make palm trees that the Baby Monkeys can climb on.

We started with a styrofoam cone base, 12" high ($4.99 ea x 6). Then we got two fern fronds for each ($1.99 ea x 12). Keeping the plastic wrapping on the cone so the styrofoam dust didn't get all over the place, I jabbed each of the fronds into the top of the cone and pushed the stem all the way down the cone. With a little bending, I think the ferns begin to look like palm fronds -- at least a little!

Then I unwrapped the plastic off the cones and covered each of the cones with chocolate brown crepe paper streamers. (It was $0.79/roll at Party City -- you only need one roll for all six centerpieces, with lots leftover.) We figured out if you apply the crepe paper from the thinner top to the wider base, the crepe paper adds a nice texture to the "tree" because it doesn't lay flat.

Next, we made our barrel of monkeys, using Cricut Create a Critter again, cut at 2.25" with brown layers #1 and #3, and tan in the center. Some of the monkeys have a black back (layer #1) -- but eventually we figured out that we liked the brown back, and eyes and nose that show through the layer two cut. The pink diaper was fussy-cut from half of a 3/4" paper punch.

Monkeys play well together, so we made chains of three. Some hold together tail to tail; others are linked by cloth flowers. Some are climbing up vines also cut from the Create a Critter cartridge, some are hot glued to grosgrain ribbon.

Emily came up with the adorable idea to embellish the monkeys with some of my Creative Charms' July kit brads and gems, as well as some stick-on pearls and rhinestones. I used Stickles in silver to trim out the "diaper pins".

To make it easier to decorate the palm trees on the day of the shower, I decided to make cute little monkey hangers for each trio. I used beading wire, some theme-matching crystals and stitched the 2-3" long bead piece on a silver earring wire I had in my craft stash.

So for under $50, Em and I made 6 centerpieces for the shower! Yup, it did take time -- we turned on the Phillies game right as we started and with a lot of help from Cricut, and a lot of chatting time between MomE and mom-to-be, we finished them before the end of the game ... and the Phillies won their fourth straight!

♥ I hope you're also having a Monkey Day! ♥

Saturday, July 24, 2010

One Trick Monkey

It's a mad, mad monkey world again today!

For today's craft challenge, I am again thinking about my daughter Emily's upcoming baby shower. (It's a good thing it's not a surprise, as she's a regular reader of this blog ... Hi, Em!) If you haven't guessed, the theme of the shower is Monkeys!

I came up with these cute boxes for party favors. Now to decide what's going inside ... the beaded necklaces or bracelets the baby's Great Grandma is making for each guest??

To make this adorable box, I used one sheet of 8.5x11" deep pink cardstock and my Makes the Cut program. I downloaded the FREE Inkscape file for a "No Glue Party Box" found on the wonderful blog at My Cricut Scrapbooking. I used my Cricut Create A Critter to cut the adorable monkey and the branch behind her. I fussy-cut the pink diaper to make her a baby. The baby monkey hangs through a small hole punched on the edge of the box.

Then I hole-punched a ribbon hole (double hole) in the top handle, folded up the box (or bent up without creasing, would be a better way to describe it), decorated with a bow, and embellished with Martha Stewart self-stick pearls.

This week, I also got in some ADORABLE mylar baby monkey balloons and a matching personalized banner that reads: "Let's Go Bananas! Emily and Josh are having a baby!" Too cute! Meanwhile, thank you to the great website of for your fab collection of baby girl monkey party goods!!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

One Little Monkey ...

Hello, crafty people!

It's a hot day here in the suburbs of Philadelphia, not one when I should be handling chocolate ... but I am.

Today my craft spirits took me to my Adobe Illustrator program to create and produce these adorable candy wrappers to use at daughter Emily's upcoming baby shower. I suppose you'd never guess that the theme is MONKEYS!

For those looking to create their own charming wrappers, use whatever design program you're most comfortable with. Your template should be 1" wide x 3" high to fit the Hershey's Nugget chocolate "pillows". (I like these because there is more space to decorate than a Hershey's kiss, and infinitely more chocolate per bite that way. Hahaha, one for the shower, one for me, one to decorate, one for the tummy....)

Pick your images from any of the free clip-art programs available and use your theme colors. Our colors are pink, brown and accented with green. To create the patterned paper look, simply type O's, or dots, hearts (Alt-3 = ♥) or xoxoxo ... whatever your heart desires.

Do you have a favorite among these ten designs? Mine is probably the "precious little monkey" shown at the front (top, here), or the front one on the lower picture, "Welcome Baby Cohick!" We plan to use these in our favor boxes as well as on the tables.

Have you done anything similar you'd like to share?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So Much For Productivity!

Well, friends ... My post on Sunday showed a card I made in less than fifteen minutes. You'll now see one that took several hours!

Egads, so much for "productivity"!

Today, I just wanted to stretch creativity -- and come up with a birthday card to meet a particular need I have.
Annually, one* of my very best girlfriends and I swap birthday cards during our August birthdays. Joan and I haven't seen each other in years, but every time we do see each other, we pick up right where we left off as if our last sentence was just spoken.

Our birthday cards are usually crammed with a long personal note in which we catch each other up over the happenings in the past year.

So this year, I decided I'd create more of a package for that note and I came up with this little pocket card.

I cut the card from a sheet of 12x12" white paper. Then, I used K&C Company's Citronella pack for the floral design in yellow and pink. The paper is two-sided, with the lime green leaves on the reverse. The complimenting checkered paper came from a Kids' stack in my stash.

I lined the pocket with yellow cardstock onto which I printed the sentiment on the left, and I printed the "Make it a spectacular year" on plain white cardstock. For the cut "Happy Birthday" sentiment and the cut flower, I used Cricut's Calligraphy cartridge. I embellished with Basic Grey's appliqued flowers and an additional fussy cut flower from the Citronella paper.

I had a little trouble cutting the very thin "Happy Birthday" from the sturdy paper. The letters kept breaking and the Cricut blade dragged the paper. To solve this, I LOWERED the pressure, reduced the speed, and used Cricut's multi-cut feature.

Now you might ask, "Ellen, just how long did it take you to figure out how you wanted to make this card?" Well..... the baseball All-Stars' game went on TV at about 8 p.m., which is when I went upstairs to craft. It took through several innings. As I'm posting this, the National League is in the lead. It's 11:15 p.m. Time for bed. Yup. One card ... 3 hours.

And that is a labor of love! Happy Birthday, Joan!
(*My girlfriend Joan doesn't yet know about my new card making hobby, so I'm revealing her card here prior to her birthday. To my dear friend Star who reads this blog and who also has an August birthday, you'll have to be surprised!!)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Participating in my First "Challenge"

Hello Fellow Scrappers,

I needed a little egging on to get back to my paper world, so I turned to one of the many Challenges posted on a variety of blogsites.

One of the blogs I follow is Emma's "My Creative Time" (click to link to the site). Emma has some very cute projects, and has interesting weekly challenges. This week's challenge called for the use of Cricut's Zooballoo cartridge for an animal-themed project.

I decided to try this one out, and made this card in response. I also wanted to challenge myself not to spend quite as much time on each card's concept and production, so I set a timer. Fifteen minutes, start to finish, max. That way, I can learn to keep my quality high, but also be more productive. At the shop where I sell my cards, I cannot keep up with demand -- and it's frustrating for everyone!

So here is the card:

I used the Cricut Zooballoo letter "M" on shift-silhouette to create the monkey. I set the type using a New Font called "Scrawny" and printed out the base card on my HP printer. I used a small kiddie stack to decorate the card and trimmed with a polka-dot ribbon. I handcut the banana and peel, pop-dotting the banana for dimension, and hand-"stitching" (in ink) the peel. I placed the monkey silhouette atop of one of the paper's printed red dots.

I think it turned out pretty cute! It can be used for a general note card, or as a card for a baby shower or new baby.

Too many toys! So much to do!

Hello again, friends!

I had every good intention of making a card or two today. I had some wonderful inspirations while Blog Hopping yesterday (thank you, Kim at Kreative Krafts, for letting me in on the 10-stop hop). Then the invitations for the baby shower need doing, I'm trying to bead a bracelet a day and then ....

My day yesterday came to a crashing halt.

Egads, my dear daughter Emily -- driving her 2007 VW Jetta -- with her hubby Josh as passenger, got into a major car crash. Three cars, high-speed impact, spinning, airbags ... oh God! After the glass dust settled, Emily was badly shaken and was having cramping and nausea. We were VERY blessed as it turns out -- the baby is no worse for the wild ride, and Emily has only seatbelt and airbag welts. The other drivers drove their cars home, Josh is fine too (and THANK YOU, Josh, for leaning over to brace and protect your wife and baby!!!!), but the car .... not so good.

Here it is, brace yourselves for what's likely a "totaled" disaster:

The car looks nearly as bad on the driver's side too. The axel is cracked, the tires are toed-in, and as you can see, all of the side impact curtains came down to shield the passengers from the exploding glass.

The miracle is how all of the safety equipment and crush zones worked perfectly. How fortunate we are! We are grateful, and no one is happier than I am that my daughter and her husband and their wee little baby-under-development (20 weeks along) were spared. Thank you, God -- He is good and merciful!

So I was distracted ... and just wanted to spend a little time today doing something crafty for my Grandbaby-to-be.

I turned on that sewing machine (the one I stitch my cards with) and embroidered this darling little bib for Baby, shown above worn by the stuffed monkey who will adorn the diaper cake. It's relatively plain -- just words. I thought about doing more decorating or embellishment, but there's something about the colors and the text that tell me that's enough.

What do you think? Can you tell this Baby is going to be spoiled ...errrr, I mean, well-loved?

Friday, July 9, 2010

With Sympathy

I am experimenting with some of my photographs to see how I might be able to incorporate them into my cardmaking. Here is a card that I made this morning, offering sympathy:

To make the background for this card, I used a digital image of a flower that I photographed while on a trip to Costa Rica. The flower was interesting against the stark backdrop of the grey brick wall, but the bug-eaten leaves would require some PhotoShopping to make them look card-worthy (in my opinion, at least).

So instead, using the PhotoShop program, I "filtered" the view of the flower to the "Artistic - Cutout" version, which you can see here in the picture at right. I printed out the Filtered version of the photograph onto standard cardstock paper.

I then trimmed the card to 5"x7", embellished the flower with a loopy orange flower from Creative Charms, and added the text from the Cricut Calligraphy cartridge.

When I do this card again, I would likely print the paper on either a finer texture paper, or use my laser printer, and/or print on gloss stock to see if the dramatic colors would snap on the background. I think I would also use a shadow effect on the text, or perhaps set a different type for the same message, to give it a little more substance. What do you think?

Will he get the hint?

Yesterday, I got in a very sweet "Deal of the Month" from Creative Charms (Wexford, PA) with $23 worth of embellies in a grab pack that's only $6.99! This is such a good value (70% off the MSRP) that I've been buying two every month just to add to my stash and use when I can. There are 167 pieces in July's kit!

One of the inspirational blogsites I follow is Capadia Designs. There, Diane recently suggested creatively using the little cardboard "purse" that the Creative Charms flowers arrives on.

The cardboard backing has a cute sequined "purse strap" already affixed ... all it craved was a little decorating. Feeling challenged while awaiting my pack of goodies to arrive, I came upon a use that is quite needed around my house.

You see, Mr. Smiley is home mostly every day, disabled from the crush of arthritic knees. He's had one replaced and is scheduled for the next surgery in September. So while he's feeling more "up to it" and could possibly do some laundry, he contends that he just doesn't notice when the laundry needs shifting from basket to washer, from washer to dryer. What an opportunity! And how could he miss these signs, so bright and pretty?

Most of the type I used came from Cricut's Plantin Schoolbook cartridge; the "add" in the circle is from the "From My Kitchen" Cricut cartridge. I hand-cut the paper to cover the "purse" on both sides, then punched it around the edge with my Big Bite CropADile. I wove some ribbon through the holes to give it a more finished look, tying bows front and back to make the sign reversible, depending on the laundry's status.

I'm willing to take the risk that my whites become pink, if only I could get a hand with the mounds of laundry. Gosh, at least we're not down by the river, pounding the clothes on the rocks, ehhhh?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Scrapbooking, too!

Hi, friends.

My card making has taken a bit of a backseat while I catch up on the month-by-month pages celebrating my daughter, Emily's, pregnancy. Yesterday, we learned the little Pumpkin will be a girl, so we're heading into PINK PAGES pretty soon!

And today, I marked the occasion by buying a TON -- or at least a full shopping cart -- of pink pretties at Babies 'R Us. I got sheets, blankies, receiving blankets, clothes, clothes and more clothes, booties, socks, and my favorite, a monkey who now wears pink and brown plaid high-top sneakers tied with ribbons.

Here are layouts that I did to honor Emily's month of May, as well as Josh's month of June. Josh gets the month celebrating Father's Day. Josh's Mom Sherry wrote a very touching message on Josh's Facebook wall on Father's Day. It was perfect to "lift" for inclusion here, and I included a picture of Sherry and Josh from Emily & Josh's wedding day.

Some fun photos on these layouts include Baby Girl's ultrasound picture from week 12 day 6, and a stylized neon outline on June's page (upper right) of Josh and Emily's bellies touching. Too cute! Some techniques to mention: New I-Rocks embellishment -- looks like brads but it's really melt-on rocks -- that comes with a handy battery-op (no wires!) applicator; also, note the 6-layer yellow zinnia, cut from a Makes The Cut user gallery app file.

And in my spare time ....

... I bead!

Now the normal person might ask, "Ellen, with as many jobs as you have, a family depending on you, two dogs and Mr. Smiley, and prepping for your new granddaughter, when do you have spare time??"

Well, that would be an inane question. We do things we love, and make time for them ... because they're relaxing, and an avenue for creativity. In my case, I was tied up in a hospital, tethered to IVs, bored out of my goard, so made three beaded bracelets. I'm thinking that these will be prizes at my daughter's upcoming baby shower.

This bracelet here is pink on the outside and peridot green on the inside, though by using Swarovski crystals, all sorts of shimmer colors show up in a photograph. Another (using the same pattern) is gold and brown smoke.

The third bracelet was a very pretty platinum and grey/pink, but I gave it to one of my nurses with whom I had a warm and wonderful conversation about our daughters and their expectancies. The nurse, Lorrie, needed a *hug*, and what better way to do it with a gift made with love?

To Stitch or Not to Stitch

Hello, Friends and Fellow Bloggers!

First, my apologies for being delinquent in a daily post. Some sort of intestinal bug had gotten the better of me so I'd spent a few days in the hospital. While in the hospital, I didn't have my card stash (shocking!), but I did get Mr. Smiley to bring me my bead collection, so I made a few nice bracelets. More on that later ...

I actually made two versions of this "Thinking of You" card, and I'd love to hear your comments as to which one you like better. On the top right here, you'll notice that there is stitching around each of the paper pieces. This was done using my Husqvarna Designer Diamond sewing machine -- the ultimate machine for those who've figured out how to use it. (I'm not one of those, and lately it's been relegated to my paper crafting.)

At left here is the unstitched version, with pieces just glued onto the formed card onto which I'd printed (HP printer) the sentiment.

As you can see, I used a collection of soft pastels in complimenting tones. I cut 1.5" squares, and then rounded the two opposite corners using my Martha Stewart rounding punch.

I've left the inside blank, onto which I'll write personal messages to some friends who need extra *hugs* these days.

What is your opinion: to stitch or not to stitch, that is the question?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

July = Vacation!

Oh, happy day!

During the first week of July, the manufacturing plant where I work (day job = bills paid) closes for annual maintenance. It's a forced vacation, and a time to catch some rays as well as refresh my creativity in the loft. It calls for an easel card to place on my desk. Here it is!

To create this card, I used the adorable image of the relaxin' cat from Hambo Stamps. This image of the "Cool Cat" is actually a FREE digi-image that you can download by clicking HERE. I've purchased many of the Hambo Stamp images as I think they are totally adorable!

For this image, I colored it using a combination of colored pencils with gamosol technique to blend, Copic Markers, and a white accent pen. I cut the image from my white drawing paper using Cricut's Accent Essentials cartridge (the cloud shape, on shadow, using the "Center Point" feature), and cut a yellow highlight piece slightly larger for mounting. I inked the edges, as the white seemed to get lost on the yellow.

I then cut a palm tree using Cricut's Summer Vacation cartridge. I cut multiple images, some from brown (for the trunk), some from Bazzill's green for the leaves. I stacked the brown for the trunk to give it dimension, and then cut apart the green leaves and stacked/splayed to give the tree a more realistic feel. I used hot glue to be sure the leaves stayed where I wanted them, quickly.

Bling time! I punched through the leaves using my Big Bite CropADile, and placed two brads. The brads I used were yellow, which just looked a little "off" when said and done. So I blinged them with cinnamon-colored Stickles.

I created the text "On Vacation" using Sure Cuts A Lot, setting and manipulating the font to make it look more fun. I twisted the last "n", for example, and elongated some of the letters. Then welded, glued and blinged with Stickles.

The card design was placed on a small A-frame easel card onto which I glued a fun paper from a summer stack.

Hambo's Cool Cat accurately shows what I'll be doing at poolside for the next couple of days. Then I have some writing to do, and some more play too. Enjoy your "cool" days of summer!