Friday, August 29, 2008

Question: “Pls expand on your “trusted favorites” list.” (Part two)

Uniball Signo writing pens.

Looking for that perfect *white* pen to write on dark papers with? This is it!

I use the Uniball Signo White (UM-153) broad pen...and its FAB!

EK Success 3D-DOTS

These are by far the best pop-dots available! I’ve tried many cheaper versions, even some with more pop-dots for less money, but the fact remains that I love the EK Success ones for a reason.

They are reliable and they are easy to use. I’ve used some fake off brand pop-dots that were IMPOSSIBLE to remove the paper backing from, and you end up ruining your work because of having to chisel the things back off! Some brands are too squishy others are way too firm. EK Success 3D-DOTS are just right! I am always sure to stock up on these while using 40% off coupons!

Tombo markers

Aside from coming in dozens of colors, these markers are just so easy to use! There is a pen like side, and a paint brush like side. I honestly only use the paint brush sides! The color comes out so fluidly, and there is no need to keep going over the same spot like you have to with some markers or pens.

Tombos come in every color and shade imaginable and they are relatively cheap at about $3 each. Again, I’ve tried the cheaper markers, especially the ones available in sets for about $10…they are just not as good.

Colorbox Scrapbooks

I am pretty faithful to my ColorBox scrapbooks, especially their line called “The perfect scrapbook”.

These books come in 12x12 and 8x8 and are a cloth material in just about every color you can think of. These books can be very understated and “plain” to blend in with d├ęcor, or you can jazz them up and embellish the outside. I’ve made all of Terra’s scrapbooks out of these, and use the many different colors to differentiate which year it is from! I started with baby pink, medium pink, bright pink, and now red.

A 12x12 Colorbox book is about $19.99 and the 8x8 are about $14.99…and both are worth every penny!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Question: “Pls expand on your “trusted favorites” list.” (Part one)

Removable Dotto.

What is there NOT to love? It’s super easy to use, it lasts forever, and it is extremely forgivable! The dispenser with the first roll of 90 feet of adhesive is about $10.99-12. The refills are generally $4.99-6.99 depending on store, and you can get them at Hobby Lobby, after the 40% off coupon for $3.33!!!

When using Dotto, you can use it sparingly and still have great effect! No need to run a strip from one end of the paper to the other, unless it’s something that will be handled quite a bit. You can just do the 4 corners, or a few small spots here and there and the paper will stick like perfect!

Got Dotto somewhere you didn’t want it? Just rub it away and throw the little glue ball mass into the closest garbage can! All done!

I’ve tried cheaper versions of Dotto, and let me tell you, there is just no comparison. As I’ve stated previously, I keep a stock of it at all times, and start to panic when my refills run low!

Prima flowers.

Again, what’s not to love? Their flowers can be used for so many different things (pages, cards, tins, attached to gifts, you name it.

They come in a ton of great sizes, colors and textures and are really affordable compared to other one time type embellishments. The Prima jars hold hundreds of flowers and the smaller jars hold a ton too! Flowers are fun and girlie, so who wouldn’t love that?

Fuji Cameras.

Yes, I am still rocking my ancient Fuji FinePix 2800.

It was purchased eons ago, and is still going strong! It has an awesome zoom (my favorite camera feature) and it just works well. The menus are laid out in an organized way and they are super easy to access quickly when needed. I love my camera so much that despite having paid $100 for the whole “warranty” return plan at Staples, I refused to destroy it at the end of the 3 years so that I could get a new one. What if they newer version wasn’t as good? I didn’t want to take the chance, and as a bargain hunter, that $100 I spent nearly killed me, but I just couldn’t destroy my camera to get a new one!

Sure, I hope to get a new camera one day, with more MP and higher zoom, but for now, my baby works just fine!

Bazzill cardstock.

Once you use a great textured cardstock like Bazzill you won’t want to ever go back to those ugly non-textured ones! What is even the point of non-textured cardstock? Bazzill makes a billion colors, and in many various textures, some even feel like SILK! Bazzill is one cardstock I don’t mind paying extra for! A sheet of Bazzill will run you about $.55 at your local scrapbooking store.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Steals and Squeals

Have no fear! There ARE bargains to be had on crafting supplies! Not only are there coupons (see prior blog) there are also some excellent items at excellent prices as well. As with anything though, a low price does not equal a bargain. Sometimes it is worth the extra money to buy something else! Here are some of the items I consider to be steals and those I’ve learned my lesson and now I know are squeals!

STEAL…Acrylic stamps are a must have for today’s stamper, card maker and scrapbooker. They are super easy, take up very little room and there is so much variety, you’d be hard pressed to “need” something and be unable to find it! Acrylic stamps can vary in price and size, and can go from $1 up to $24.99 and higher! Obviously, the $1 acrylic stamps are a big STEAL! They are sized perfect for small scrapbooks, occasion books, cards and journaling on scrapbook pages. These $1 sets are typically found at Michaels in the rotating bins near the front of the store, but can also be found at your local scrapbooking store!

PLEASE, as always, rely on your LSS first; they need all of the business they can get to battle the national big stores! One place that I do NOT recommend getting your $1 Acrylics from: Archivers! Their “hot spot” is full of them, however, they charge $2 for the same sets available at Michaels and your LSS.

Another great steal are sales on cardstock and patterned paper. Hobby Lobby and Michaels are great for putting their paper on sale for 4 or 5 sheets for $1. Most LSS will charge .55-2.00 per sheet depending on brand and fanciness of the paper. The only downside to this cheaper paper is it is typically not heavy weight (as it would be at your LSS) and is non-textured, especially the cardstock. A sheet of textured Bazzill cardstock is worth every penny it costs. If you need or want the non-textured cardstocks though, choose the steal and wait for the big sales to stock up!

A good quality Trimmer is also worth its weight in gold. The cheaper trimmers are cheaper for good reason. They are much more flimsy, the cutters will need replacing much more often and they are just not well thought out. Again, save a 40% coupon and get the good one. THIS is my trimmer.

SQUEAL….Some items that I absolutely will NOT bargain shop or change brands on are EK Success 3d-Dots and Dotto adhesive. I will always be loyal to Dotto for their removable adhesive runner dots! I’ve tried many other brands, but they are just NOT the same. They do not go on the same, hold up the same, and they do not last the same as the Dotto brand! 3D-Dots are the same. I’ve tried many cheaper versions, even some with more pop-dots for less money, but the fact remains that I love Pop-dots for a reason. They are reliable and they are easy to use. I’ve used some fake off brand pop-dots that were IMPOSSIBLE to remove the paper backing from, and you end up ruining your piece because of having to chisel the things back off! Some brands are too squishy, or way too firm. 3D Dots are just right! I am always sure to stock up on both of these while using 40% off coupons!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Saving a not-so-perfect-yet-perfect photo

If that photo isn’t scrapbook perfect, have no fear, there may be a solution! If your photo has terrible coloring, is too blurry or out of focus or shows a messy background don’t delete it right away!

TIP: "Flipping" a color photo to black and white will correct or at least "cover up" a lot of everyday problems with photos! Give it a try!

Example one:

Notice in this photo that the subject (my Terra Cadence as a baby of course) is perfectly in focus and the shot is just precious. The black and white shot is a great one, and in fact, I used it in my 2004 Christmas cards!

Little do you know….I have a secret! And it's been long enough that i can finally share it with the world!

Terra, as you can see, is sitting in front of an outside door. With 2 dogs in the house, that door was beyond icky looking with not only scratches and dirt…but also doggie slobber all over the windows! Daily Windex wouldn’t have solved my problem, but changing the photo to black and white did the trick. No longer is the focus on my disgusting slobbered on windows! The black and white managed to take that emphasis away and now all you see is a gorgeous little girl in a timeless black and white portrait!

Example two:

I took a series of photos to scrapbook in my daughter’s bathroom at our old house. I painted the bathroom bright rubber ducky yellow and decorated it in the same. She was just beginning to “notice” herself in mirrors at the point I took these shots, so I set her up on the counter, in front of the mirror, and began to snap away. Little did I know, the bright yellow paint was so bright that it was reflecting off of the large mirror and thereby tinting all of the photos in yellow!

My baby was coming out yellow! I got so many awesome expressions that I again decided to play around with the photo to salvage them. Black and White did the trick, again! The focus went from “Why does she look like she is painted yellow?” to “Oh, how adorable!”

So, don’t lose hope and delete that not-so-perfect-yet-perfect-at-the-same-time photo before first trying to salvage the incredible yet flawed shot you took! A little work in photo engine will work wonders and just might save that priceless shot!

Monday, August 25, 2008

2 sheets of Patterned paper, 2 sheets of Cardstock and 2 hours

This weekends challenge was to see what I could come up with if given 2 sheets of patterned paper, 2 sheets of cardstock, and only 2 hours! I was only "allowed" to add in what i already had stamping, inking and embellishment wise.

To a shopper it was difficult to deny myself when I thought of a cute idea, but “needed something else”. I held back. I did well! I bought nothing. In fact, the papers were all from my stock, and I *think* I purchased those papers at least a year ago if not two! See, I knew I’d find a use for the papers one day!

In all, I came up with the following 8 cards, leaving only a few one inch wide strips of paper remaining! I did pretty well, especially since I am the self-appointed Queen of Scrap savings! I swear I could start my own paper factory with all of the scraps I have lying around here. Only upside I can claim is that I do keep them organized relatively well.

TIP: As you get used to the various brands of papers, you will develop your own style of organization of your scraps and papers. I like to organize my papers and scraps according to what "idea" i had for the paper when i bought it. Some papers just "look" like Mothers Day type papers, some remind me of a heartfelt Sympathy card. I organize my cardstock scraps by color of course, and they are all ROYGBIVed, no doubt!

Here are the cards I made, the first 5 are up for auction on Ebay *HERE*.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ugly to Sparkly

I bought Terra a Deisney Mix-Stick for her birthday, and my parents bought her the matching case to protect and carry it in. The case, for some unknown reason, only comes in a not-so-cute (nor girly) medium gray color. The Mix Stick is a cute tinkerbell design, so the plain ole gray case just didn't suit it!

Pink Flower & Diamond Rhinestones, E6000 and fresh air to the rescue! After adding a little bling, it's not so plain anymore! Terra loves her new "Ipod"!

TIP**The fresh air part is 100% NON-negotiable when working with E6000, just trust me! Open a window!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Crafting and Couponing go hand in hand!

I think we all know about the glorious invention of coupons! Who doesn’t love a good coupon? Show me someone who doesn’t and I will show you someone with more money than they deserve!

Coupons are available for household goods, foods, oil change and car repairs and craft items too! You just need to know where to look and how to use them to your maximum benefit. It helps tremendously if you have local craft stores nearby, otherwise you just have to find your favorite online retailer and hope they appreciate their customers enough to share great savings every once in a while!

My favorite coupon craft stores locally are Hobby Lobby, Archivers and Michaels. Each of them offer excellent coupon choices, and have great sales as well. To sign up for the Michaels email newsletters and coupons go HERE, to sign up for the Hobby Lobby emailed coupon and weekly newsletters/sales go HERE, and to sign up for the Archivers mailed newsletter and coupons go into your local store and ask to be added to the mailing list.

Each store has a specific coupon which is the “best” and some others that are just filler in my opinion. Before I get in to the specific stores, please remember, and always try, to support your local scrapbook stores before you go to a large national chain! Most of the local stores offer their own coupons, discount cards, punch cards and many will take your national coupon chain coupons in their stores! Now onto the big name national chains!

Michael’s coupons can be found in your local newspaper ads or through the above mentioned email. Their coupons vary from 20% off of your total to 40% off one item. Depending on your needs, the 40% off one item is typically your best bet. In email format you are not limited to the # of coupons you can print, so if the store is convenient, you may just be able to go once per day to get what you need, all at 40% off. On certain holidays Michael’s will offer a 50% off ONE item coupon good only on that one or two day holiday. These are EXCELLENT for those higher ticket items you can live without until a great coupon appears. Think BIG!

Hobby Lobby coupons will go to your inbox overnight between Saturday and Sunday. Keep in mind Sunday is the one day of the week that Hobby Lobby is closed, so don’t get too excited right away when you see that email! You need to wait until Monday to use it! The coupon is almost always 40% off one item. Occasionally they will switch it up and make it something else, but that happens once every five weeks or so. HL is best for their everyday sales! Sometimes the items you use frequently will already be 50% off, so be wise with your coupon decisions. If you go in to get paper, but find it is already on sale, use your 40% coupon to purchase a must have item, or to treat yourself to something you normally wouldn’t buy. Me? I am a stocker! If I can’t find anything I “need” I will get a dotto refill or a set of trimmer blades! Those items will always be needed, and it really stinks to be “on a roll” late at night and run out of adhesive! That is no fun at all! I will touch on stocking up at a later date! Hobby Lobby is the same as Michaels in that you can print unlimited coupons, so again, if it is convenient, they don’t mind you going in more than once. I’ve begged on a prior occasion to simply do two transactions, and the cashier was perfectly fine with it!

Archiver’s coupons come in your mailbox once per quarter. There are many coupons to choose from. In my opinion, the best they offer is the free cardstock coupon, and the free hot spot item (with any purchase) coupons. Keep in mind though to only use the dollar spot coupon if you really need something else! Their “Hot Spot” items are way overpriced for the most part, and you can find most items elsewhere for half the price. You can use the free cardstock and hot spot item coupons together, so that is a good thing. They also typically give out 30% off one item coupons as well, not as good as Michaels or Hobby Lobby, but if you find something there you can’t find elsewhere, it IS a savings!

Coupons are a beautiful thing! With any sales/coupons though, the basis of your success must be an understanding of the current cost of such items so that you can determine if the sale or coupon is really a good buy! The more you shop the easier this knowledge will be. Each store may have the same price on one item, but another item may vary significantly!

Happy Couponing!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Getting Started

The hardest part about scrapbooking is undoubtedly getting started. The task seems daunting, you feel overwhelmed with the mountains of available product, and the photos are stacked to the ceiling!

If I've said it once, I've said it one million times: The only way to get started in scrapbooking is to jump in head first! Don't worry about doing things "right". The only rule to scrapbooking is that there are no rules! Scrapbooking is about showcasing your life and memories...there is no wrong way to do that! I know, easier said that done, i understand, I've been there!

Get those photos organized!
I know there are a ton, but that is why it is so important to do!

*~*Seperate, Label & Attack*~*
If your stack us truly unimagineable, start by year or age. Once that is done, seperate by either month or single events: Christmas, Birthday, First day of School, etc, etc. This will make tackling the photos much less daunting.

TIP: Keep those photo boxes your pictures come in!
On the right hand side, there are tabs to punch out & label! USE THEM, it helps! Store your photo boxes in a pretty basket or box to keep your photos that are ready to scrap handy.

*~*Be realistic & destroy*~*
If you are still using a film camera, do NOT feel bad about throwing out the dud-photos! You know the ones i am talking about....horribly grainy, poor lighting, double exposed absolutely-no-hope photos. Go ahead and toss them, It's okay! Look at it this way, you are not throwing out a memory, you are tossing the "outtakes" that stand between you and getting your life scrapbooked!

If you are using a digital, do the same! Get out of the mindset that you cannot delete a photo! There is no need to keep a photo you will never look at in awe, scrapbook, or share with a loved one. If it's not something you'd want to email to a long lost relative, DELETE it. It's only taking up valuable space on your harddrive!

TIP: Only print the photos you need. If you know you will only scrap 3 of the 50 photos you took today, only have those 3 printed. The rest will be there when the time comes that you need or want that photo!

*~*Develop a Routine*~*
*Download photos into an aptly named folder.
*Delete all bad shots.
*Name your favorite shots.
*Edit your favorites as needed.
*Upload those favs into a photo printing site.
*Order your photos right away.
*Label the box upon pick up & file it.