Monday, December 29, 2008

Dispatches from the Central Time Zone

Lacking time to fill you all in on the multitude of details from the past week, I'm going to recap succinctly, and once I get home and have nothing to do, I'll use this list as a way to remember the stories I wanted to expand...

~ Christmas Eve in Madison with NavyGuy's family was joyous and delicious.

~ Christmas Day at my mom's and with the rest of the family was loud, loud, and louder. Much brandy slush was consumed.

~ The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was long, and lacked enough of hot Brad Pitt.

~ Party with friends on Friday night gave me a chance to catch up on all the gossip.

~ Birthday dinner for my goddaughter (who took her first steps Christmas Day!), and a monstrous win for Team Mugs and NavyGuy at the Fond du Lac bowling alley on Saturday night.

~ Sunday = Mugs' Bridal Shower Day!!!! (Yes, I did run around the house screaming this throughout the day).

~ Monday = Food tasting at our wedding venue in Madison.

As I've quickly discovered while home, it's tough to find time to blog when you're actually busy and out doing things everyday! (Funny how that works - the days I actually have lots to write about, I have no time to write!). But I promise, once I return to Washington and resume my leisurely unemployed lifestyle, I'll have lots more time to write :)


Saturday, December 27, 2008

2009 Calendar - March, April, May

You've already seen the top portion of the March pages, but this is the bottom half with the calendar portion. I love that photo of my little cousin. It was taken by another cousin at my sister's rehearsal dinner; the little cuz just looks so happy and cute - even though she was sitting through a pretty (boring for a seven year old) social event :)

What do you get when you use a small oval punch on pastel paper? Easter eggs of course! I decorate each with other punches or just strips of paper - luckily, Easter falls during April next year.

Can I point out, that my fellow bridesmaid and I are not truly dancing in the photo above; we have way more skillz than what the photograph shows. We simply paused in the middle of a much cooler dance to pose for the photo...

More cutouts from my trusty Cricut.
Check back in a few days for the summer months!


Friday, December 26, 2008

2009 Calendar - January and February

As promised, more of the calendar layouts that I created for our family Christmas gift to Grandma and Grandpa.

The biggest challenge with these pages was actually the calendar portion of the page. As the gift is ostensibly a calendar - and not an actual scrapbook - I needed to make sure the calendar cutout was prominent and not covered at all by photos. That left little room for creativity on the bottom portion of the spread, and often only space for 2 or 3 photos. But, I still like how it turned out :)

Most of the details on the pages come from my trusty Cricut (which got a workout for several days in a row). All of the month titles are 1 1/2 inch letters from "Cuttin' Up" cartridge, and the snowflakes in January are from "Stretch Your Imagination."
After photographing these, I punched three holes along the top or bottom of each page, so I could string each page through binder clips and make it flip open as a calendar normally does. I also added captions to each of the pictures; most of them are just names, but after finding so many un-labeled photographers from decades ago at my grandparent's house, I'm trying to make sure that things are documented well for the future.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dispatches from the Central Time Zone

Merry Christmas!

We almost didn't make it to this time zone.  Our trip home on Sunday was harrowing and consisted of:
1. Nearly getting stuck in the parking lot where the airport shuttle picked us up at the butt crack of dawn.
2. Having another shuttle passenger abscond my luggage (he exited the shuttle first, took my red bag that apparently looked exactly like his red bag, and NavyGuy had to do some CIA detective work to track down the man at a different check-in counter in the insane Seattle airport).
3. Pulling a movie-type mad dash through the airport to make our connecting flight (we left Seattle two hours late, and landed in St. Louis when we were supposed to be taking off - luckily, we made it before they shut the doors!)
4. Our luggage however, did not make the connection, and we were left without fresh clothing until the following night.

After watching the news the past couple of days though, it looks like we were the lucky ones to actually get out of Washington!  It was a stressful, hectic trip, but we made it back to Madison eventually... only to remember we had to leave at 7:30am Monday morning to head for Chicago for a meeting with our wedding florist (NavyGuy's aunt), and a family lunch!  The fact that our car was being testy and only starting intermittently did not help the stress levels (the car is similar to myself in temperament and tends to pout in cold weather).  But, I'll save the Chicago shenanigans for a later post...


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dispatches from the Central Time Zone

We made it!!!!

More updates once presents wrapped and cookies baked!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Love in a Different Shape

More "love"ly-ness :) (There is no such thing as a bad pun in my world.)

(Design by Michelle "Stampin' Up" Webster)

What do I love about this card? Well, for starters, it's a different shape that the usual card. This one is 3x6. Second, the do-dad on the front is four layers of beautiful; there's a red flower backdrop, then a cream colored flower, with holes punched so you can see the red peaking through, a pink circle with the greeting, and to top it off, a cream colored heart. Lots of work? Yes. Lots of beauty when you're done? Heck yes. The pink bow is glued to the brown card, and then the do-dad is attached to the bow with a thinner piece of brown ribbon, so the do-dad floats around. (Don't you love my technical term of "do-dad"?)

When you open the card, you are greeted by a large heart attached to a flap. In the next photo, you can see how the flap is attached.

The part of the pink paper with the rounded edge design is glued down to the brown card base. Then the flap flips open, and you have a mini pocket to slip a piece of paper into. We simply stamped the cute love birds on a piece of cream paper and slid it in, but you could slide in a little bit of money, or a coupon as part of your valentine. Recognize the hearts on the red paper? Same stamps from the first Love card we did.

That wraps up our December Ladies Night. Three cards and four gift card holders is pretty good work for a Saturday night. Wish all you other crafty ladies could have been there!


Saturday, December 20, 2008

24 Hours and Counting

Culver's hot dog, french fries, and a double scoop of chocolate custard.
My family.
Panchero's chicken burrito.
NavyGuy's family.
China Moon sweet and sour chicken, egg roll, and friend rice.
Wisconsin friends.
Kwik Trip chocolate Persian donut with nuts on top.
Christmas fun.
Texas Roadhouse Caesar salad, steak, wild rice, and rolls with cinnamon butter.
Central Time zone.

Can you tell what's been on my mind as of late? Bright and early tomorrow, NavyGuy and I head back to Wisconsin for two weeks!!!!!!! The land of snow plows, greasy food, Target stores, wind chill, and all things wonderful. I cannot WAIT. We are taking a shuttle to the Seattle airport (to avoid paying for parking for two weeks), then we fly to St. Louis, then Madison. Everyone needs to cross their fingers, cross their toes, say a prayer, and bribe Mother Nature so the nasty weather predicted for tomorrow doesn't delay (or worse, cancel) our flights. If all goes well, I will be in a familiar zip code twenty-four hours from now :) Oh happy day.

Today, however, was less than fun. I started packing around 1:00 this afternoon... I might be done by the time we need to put the bags in the car. Too much stuff, probably, but I have a hard time packing lightly.

Posting might be sporadic while I'm home, but we're doing some wedding planning tasks, and I'm sure there'll be other news to report as well, so I'll try to update as often as possible. May everyone have a safe and happy holiday.


Have a Heart

Love is in the air! In the stamping and crafting world, you're always one holiday ahead in order to (maybe) have the projects done in time for the event! So, at the most recent Ladies Night, we started getting inspired by some new stamps with the love theme.

Editor's Note: I'm 99% sure these stamps are part of the Stampin' Up spring/summer catalog, which comes out in January - I saw info on another blog that says it's okay to post projects with these stamps already, so hopefully the stamping police won't come knocking on my door! They're just too cute not to share!

(Design by Michelle "Stampin' Up" Webster.)

How adorable! I "love" (tee hee hee) the heart stamps, which we stamped in red ink, then punched out with a coordinating punch. The center square has several layers of paper, and then we used our magic blender pens to color in the word love with a light pink ink. If you expand the photo, you can see the detail on the flower in the middle. Details make the man, and the card :)


Friday, December 19, 2008

Sneak Peek!

It's done! For the past ten years or so, my cousins and I have put together a calendar of family photos for our Christmas present to our grandparents. In recent years, I've volunteered to create the calendar, putting to use my plethora of paper craft supplies. I tend to wait until the last minute and then spend the week before Christmas frantically trying to finish it. Wednesday, Thursday, and today have been non-stop calendar work; I turned the dining room table into ground zero and camped out (rations included everything from Diet Mountain Dew to Lindor chocolates to Chardonnay).

Well, here and now, I'm proud to announce that exactly six whole days before Christmas, the calendar is done!!!... okay, so I still have to punch holes in it, insert the binder clips, and write the captions, but the MAJORITY of the work is done, and if I do say so myself, it turned out pretty fantastic.

I'm going to make you wait until after Christmas to see most of it, but I'm posting a couple sneak peaks ahead of time just to whet your appetite for more...

These two happen to be a couple of my favorites :)


Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Insanity Continues...

Snow Day Watch 2008

Day 5 - Anacortes School District Closed

So the grand total for the week - 2 late starts, three full days off, and one high school full of giddy kids who got to start their Christmas break nearly a week early.

Day 5 - Navy base closed (except for all essential personnel).

NavyGuy is not essential, however he will be going into base tomorrow to take his final test for this portion of training (because the alternative is going on vacation for two weeks, leaking all 97 missiles that he's memorized in the last month out of his ears, and then coming back to take the test in January).

For shame northwest Washington, for shame. You have lost all my respect. (And there are a lot of school teachers in Wisconsin who are ready to dump their snow right on your driveways.)


Snow Day Watch 2008

Day 4 - schools closed and base closed.

Still snowing. Still no real plows. A whopping 6-8 inches on the ground.



Packaging for Notecards

I wish I could remember where I got this project idea from, because I'd love to thank the creative crafter who came up with it. If you're out there and see this - let me know! It's the most straightforward and simplistic card holder I've run across.

This is the front of the card holder. I decorated it with Cricut cut-outs to match the designs on the cards.
Here is the inside of the card holder. There's room for four envelopes on the left side (the white), and four cards on the right side. Ribbon is strung through four holds to a) keep the cards and envelopes in place, and b) to be able to tie the package shut (see the first picture). The entire card holder is made from one 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of cardstock. I'm working on getting a template put together and possibly a tutorial to post later in the week.

These are two examples of cards I made to go along with the set. One is a birthday card, and the other is a general blank note. I've started making blank cards in sets for gift sets, and this packaging is a great way to make them presentable. I've seen templates for boxes that you can make to house sets of cards, but they're often complex or hard to fit together well.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to Spend a Snow Day

In honor of our third snow day in a row (the Anacortes School District is the "Wild Rose" of Washington when it comes to calling off school), I propose the following appropriate snow day procedures...

1. Listen to the radio or watch local news. Discover the snow gods have smiled upon you, and you have a SNOW DAY!

2. If you've already showered and readied yourself for the day, return to your pajamas. If there's snow to be shoveled, get one pass at the driveway done so it's easier to deal with later in the day (bonus points if you're off school simply for the cold, because then you don't ever have to go outside!).

3. Acknowledge early on in the day that the eight free hours you have acquired are a bonus; anything you accomplish in that time is extra. It wouldn't have gotten done had you been at school or work that day, so if you get anything crossed off your list - you're golden! Choose one task that can be done (in pajamas) such as laundry, and gleefully check it off the list later in the day.

4. Plan a bowl of something warm and steamy for lunch. Soup, chili, stew, oatmeal - anything that you can eat curled up on the couch while watching mindless TV. If you're lucky, they'll be a marathon of America's Next Top Model on, and you can spend the afternoon debating whether Tyra really can smile with her eyes, or if she's just squinting weirdly.

5. Nap, glorious, nap. Snuggle up with a nice warm blanket, and snooze. Snooze away.

6. Find a good twenty minute window to sit and stare outside. Bonus points if the plow goes by and you can whine about how they push all the snow from the street up into your driveway.

7. Call everyone who has a "real" job and had to spend the day at work. Get their opinion on the Tyra situation, or just ask them how cold it is outside (since you haven't been out yet). Listen to their bitching for a few minutes to be polite, then say you have to go because the hot chocolate you're warming up on the stove is done.

8. Pull out the most enticing looking book you have in the pile on your nightstand. Assemble the following items: something to drink, a snacky food, glasses (if necessary). Head to your most comfy reading place and hunker down to disappear into whatever magical land your book holds.

9. Nap #2 for the day.

10. Watch the weather channel and assess your chances of having another snow day tomorrow!

(What constitutes a snow plow in Anacortes.)


A Third Gift Card Holder

A third gift card holder option... see this or this (scroll down a bit) for tutorials and better explanations than I can give.

Notes about my versions:

I love these gift cards because the decorations can be fairly simplistic. Just cover the cardstock base with different patterned Christmas paper (or birthday or whatever occasion you like), and you're almost done.

This is the ribbon latch that I made for it. You simply wrap a piece of ribbon around the closed gift card, glue it down so it forms a circle, then put some paper decoration on top of the seam.

Here's how the project looks once you insert the gift card into the slot. I've made several others, but I want to keep a few surprises for Christmas Day!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Think Better Dummy Mind!

I happened to get up early this morning, intending to be uber productive. I was out of the shower by 8:20, and all toweled off when my phone rang.

Mugs: Hello?
Caller: Hi, this is the Anacortes District sub caller. Would you be willing to sub for a high school U.S. history class this morning. We're on a two hour delay (do NOT get me started on the absurdity of this), so you'd need to be there around 9:15.
Mugs: Sure! (Oh my god what am I doing?)
Caller: Great - thanks!

What follows is my stream of consciousness for the next ten minutes:

Okay, whew, thank goodness I showered, okay, breathe, be calm, it's all good, it's history, you can totally fake your way through this, thank god it wasn't calculus or physics or something totally nasty, this way you can always play the what day in history is it game or something, crap nuggets, what was that filler activity mom was talking about the other day? Oh, yeah, how many words can you make from the word Christmas, okay, that'll be the backup plan in case the plans the teacher left are useless, jeez unless there's some politically correct kid who freaks out and we have to use Kwanzaa and Haunauka too, which would really suck cuz I don't know how to spell Jewish Christmas, plus I think there's a spelling of it with a C, yikes, focus, okay, what are you going to wear, rat farts, why didn't I actually do the Jillian Michaels DVD more often so I'd lose a few pounds and be able to fit into my favorite dress pants, cuz they still don't quite button right and I'll die if the pants split on my first day as a sub and I'll forevermore be known by some horrific nickname, so maybe instead I can wear the new dress I got, or is that trying to hard? plus it is kind of cold, and I'm not sure which shoes work with that, and I have no clue if I have nylons that don't have any runs. Okay, maybe these pants, but wait, what do major athletes do before a big competition, they carb up, I need to pack a lunch - agh! All we have is leftover chili and frozen dinners which were fine at my old job because I knew we had access to a microwave, but I can't guarantee that here, so I better take something else, okay, carbs, Cheerios! And a granola bar, that should get me through the day, maybe I'll buy something at the cafeteria too, and my good water bottle is in the car, okay, we're good to go there, now I need to pack my bag, what should I take, oooo, I wish I had taken the time to put together a sub folder so I'd be prepared, bah, I'll take the packet they gave me at the district office and my grad school book to read in case it's a video day, now hair, makeup, okay, plug in straightener, get blowdryer going, now what else does Michael Phelps do before a big race? carb up and visualize - yes, I can do that, okay, breathe breathe, you're going to take your bag, and you're going to get in the car, and drive up to the high school, it's on K street...

OH MY GOD - NAVYGUY HAS THE ONLY CAR THAT I CAN DRIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What have we learned?
1. The sub caller lady is very understanding, and only thinks I'm moderately insane for calling her back 10 minutes after I accepted a job, to unaccept a job. She even chuckled when I explained the situation - thank goodness!
2. Mugs needs to get over her fear of killing someone/breaking NavyGuy's car, and learn to drive a stick shift.
3. At my ripe old age of 26, I clearly need to begin some brain/memory exercises, because if you read closely, you'll noticed I thought about the fact that my good waterbottle was in the CAR, but not until five minutes later did it dawn on me that the car was in fact at the Navy base, and not in our driveway. Sigh.

So, my employment with the Anacortes School District as a substitute teacher is off to a roaring good start...

P.S. Perhaps a family member in the know will share the story behind the title to this post.


Another Gift Card Holder

At stamping ladies night on Saturday, we made this Christmas card, these gift card holder ornaments, and this second way to package a gift card for Christmas (or really any occasion). The base for these gift card holders is a 3x6 Stampin' Up envelope. The backside is covered in red patterned paper, and then a white patterned paper piece was attached.

Above is the outside of the gift card holder. Below is the inside. You can see the flap where the envelope opens. That little bit of red paper showing on the far left is the backside of the white patterned paper that we attached.

And the front of the holder, all closed up. Michelle had us add a green flower with a snowflake stamp on the front (and a little dazzle brad in the center). I cut a slit in the front to slide the flower into to close the holder, but you could also add a tiny bit of velcro or a snap to close it.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Food

Some foods, are only appropriate in the winter. They don't taste right unless there's a chill in the air and snow on the ground. Example #1 - chili.

As a kid, we used to have chili in these big gray bowls with handles, and my sister and I would spend time removing all (ALL) of the beans from the dish, before we'd even dare to put a spoonful in our mouths. On the side, we'd either have rye bread or oyster crackers. Now that I'm a grown-up making my own chili, I just leave the beans out and save myself the headache.

Tonight was chili night. We finally have snow here, so chili can be properly eaten. I make the Wisconsin version - with elbow macaroni - yum, yum, yum. NavyGuy ruined his with shredded cheese and sour cream, but he'll learn.

Other "winter-only" foods on my list? Hot chocolate and beef stew. Any foods you reserve for a specific time of year?


Gift Card Ornaments

Next up: gift card ornaments! I tend to give a few gift cards as Christmas presents every year, because some of the (primarily male) recipients on my list are less than easy to shop for. I'm not sure they'll appreciate the pretty card holder quite as much as the Best Buy money, but I like the card holder and I know other ladies at the Christmas celebrations will get a kick out of them.

We put these together using a diecut called the Top Note. To replicate them at home, I'm going to use my Cricut to cut out a similar shape (you could of course also just use rectangles). You will need to cut out two of them. One will end up being the backside, the other one will be cut into two pieces and use to make the pocket on the front. In the photo below, you can see the pocket where the gift card can slide in. To make that pocket, you need to cut one of the Top Notes in half (a little below the halfway mark). The top half should be attached with regular adhesive, but the bottom piece needs to be attached with more permanent adhesive (such as Tacky Tape). Be careful not to tape down the top edge of the bottom piece or you won't have a pocket!

Here's another pattern using burgandy paper instead of bright red. The cardinal is a stamp that we colored with blender pens and then cut out. To make the gift card holder into an ornament that can be hung on the tree, we added an eyelet and ribbon to the top.

So neat! I love the ornament aspect. If you don't have some way to attach the gift card to the Christmas tree, it usually falls off of the tree and gets lost in the mountain of presents underneath, or it gets lost in the tree and is a hot mess. This way, your tree looks prettier, and you have a cool way to package a present of spending money :)


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Weekend Update...

Highlights from the weekend...

~ Twilight!!! I finally got the movie (with NavyGuy in tow), and despite the fact that of course, the books are better, the movie was still good. For the uninitiated, the Twilight book series are about a teenager in Forks, WA who meets and falls in love with a knight in shining armor, who also happens to be a vampire. The actor and actress who play the leads were well cast, and it's exactly the type of movie/story that tweens fawn over (clearly, it also appeals to 20-somethings who refuse to abandon good young adult fiction). Anyway, read the books, then go see the movie. NavyGuy, who detested the thought of even going to see the film, is now pestering me with questions about what happens in the next books (which I refuse to answer, except to say he should read the books).

~ Saturday was a housewarming party hosted by one of the guys in NavyGuy's class. I had to leave before the party really got going, to head over to Ladies Night Stamping! Besides all the great projects I'll be posting about this week, I was able to pick up a stamp set that I had ordered several weeks ago. It's a set called Humor in High Heels (Stampin' Up), and I'm waaaaay excited to make some cards and other do-dads with it.~ The best part of Saturday night was the snow I found on my car when I left the stamp party - it finally looks like winter here!!! I know my friends and family in Wisconsin are sick to death of snow and ice and winter, but I'm thrilled that we're getting a little non-rain precipitation in this neck of the woods. However, the poopy part of having snow out here is that apparently the city of Anacortes does not find it necessary to plow roads... any roads! That nonsense would not fly in Wisconsin, let me tell you!

~ Sunday was ordinary. NavyGuy headed down to base to study, and I watched TV and crafted a bit. T-minus one week until we head home and the list is growing by the day of things that I need to get ready to go before we skip back to the Central Time Zone!! Mmmm... Culvers... Noodles... Texas Road House... I need to develop a plan to smuggle custard back on the airplane...


Ladies Night

Last night was Ladies Night with my Stampin' Up posse (led by the amazing and tireless Michelle a.k.a. Stamping Bliss). There was pizza, there was laughing, and of course, there was lots of stamping! tons of projects and crafts to share, but the first up is one more Christmas card (maybe the last for the season, maybe not).
All of the products are Stampin' Up (and the design comes from Michelle). This card features a faux tearing technique. What we did was put a piece of paper over half of the card, with a ripped edge over the middle. Then we sponged blue ink on the side of the card not covered with the paper. Before we moved the paper, we added a snowflake pattern stamp in a slightly darker blue ink. When you remove the scrap paper, you end up with what you see above! (Sorry, I'm terrible at trying to explain the technique without accompanying photos, but you sort of get the idea.) Then we added a snowman stamp, colored it in with blender pens, and there you have it. I really like the faux tearing technique; it would also look cool with a much darker contrasting ink.

That's just the first thing we made - I was there for five hours, and I have several gift card holders to show for my time, as well as a couple Valentine's Day cards (yep, as soon as they clearance out the Christmas stuff, you know all the stores will be stocked with red hearts).


White Christmas!

Our first snow in Anacortes...
I may have to watch White Christmas today to celebrate the event :)


Friday, December 12, 2008

The Final Selection

I mentioned earlier in the week that I was having difficulty settling on a Christmas card design this year. Between the samples I made at Stamp Club, and the Cricut craziness of Friday, you'd think one of those would have met my criteria. Nope - instead, I came up with a totally different design, using my favorite technique of late - embossing.

Hooray! 2008 Christmas cards complete! I may never fully remove the extraneous gold embossing powder from our coffee table, but it's worth it. Both the evergreen tree and the swirly design are embossed with gold powder (the process involves stamping the image with a special clear sticky ink, then dusting the powder on top, then heating the design with a special embossing gun - and no, NavyGuy, once and for all, you cannot emboss with a hairdryer!). The white ribbon wraps all the way around the front part of the card and is glued down beneath the tree. The inside is blank, ready for my Christmas wishes to family and friends. I also made some on red cards, as my green paper gave out after card #12.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

More STD Information

I got the official phone call from mom - she got her Save the Date for the wedding! (She also got my Christmas card today, which made it a double exciting mail day.) Now that I know most people should have gotten the STD by now, I can post the design I/we ended up choosing, and offer a little commentary on the first mass mailing experience of the wedding.

Without further adieu...(Source:

The color is called "sand" so despite the fact that it looks like a pink-ish color on the computer screen, it's more beige/khaki colored in real life. That fits in well with our general pink/brown/ivory/cream color scheme. It ended up not being any of the choices we thought we had it narrowed down to, but that was my fault. We had decided on a save the date with small flowers and a picture. I thought our headaches were over because we'd (I'd) finally made the decision - wrong. Choosing a suitable photograph of the two of us to use on the STD was an even bigger debacle. Let's just say NavyGuy and I are each less than photogenic (I tend to blink, he tends to look like someone's torturing him), and the problems seems to be compounded when we get in the same photograph.

So instead of trying to stage a new photo that would meet my stringent criteria, I freaked out, re-looked at every STD available online, and choose a completely different one that would eliminate the photo headache. Finally, we had one chosen and were ready to address, stuff, and stamp.

In the end, I'm quite happy with our choice. It's simple, feels like spring, and gets the point across. It also leaves me ample room to get creative with the invitations and other paper aspects of the wedding. A few suggestions for future brides when it comes to STDs:

1. Create a complete guest list with all of the guests' addresses early. We are still struggling to get in touch with people whose address we need. Facebook proved useful at searching down a few people, as did the yahoo service "people search," but not everybody can be located that way. As soon as you start putting names down on your list, get their address - call, email, contact a personal detective, whatever. It was (and still is) frustrating to have the STDs in your hot little hands, and to not be able to send them out because you don't have an address for your friend from down the hall sophomore year.

2. Take a sheet of lined paper, and use it as a template to keep your handwriting straight on the front address (yes, kids, we're handwriting all the addresses, because we're not auditioning for My Big Redneck Wedding). Slide the paper inside the envelope so you can see the lines through the front of the envelope, and use them as guides. If the lines aren't dark enough to be seen through the envelope, trace over them with a dark marker to make them show up better.

3. Put your groom to work. Mine managed to insert the STDs into the envelopes, put the return address label on, and attach the stamp without making too many mistakes. It's mindless, and he did it while watching two episodes of The West Wing. If yours isn't as willing to help as mine was, try making it into a competition; bet him he can't get all of the envelopes stamped before you finish addressing the envelopes.

Anyone else have ideas to share about Save the Dates?


Cricut Christmas Part 5

Here's another twist on the usual card layout; cut off approximately 1 inch from the outside margin of the front of the card, and then you have the inside of the back part of the card peeking through. Attach a piece of colorful paper, or stamp a neat design, and then you still have room on the back of the front to write a message. I love this blue tree pattern paper. The Cricut component is the layered flowery circles attached to the front. Each is 1/4 inch smaller than the one behind it. In the picture below, you can see in better detail the circles; you can also see the white swirly stamps along the front.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How to Survive the Post Office in December

I've been to the post office three times in the past three days. Between Christmas cards, Save the Dates, and holiday packages, I've had to venture to the most stressful, most infuriating, most godforsaken place on earth in the month of December three times (so far) this week. I've tried 9:45, 1:30, and 2:50. Each time there have been between eight and twelve people in line ahead of me, at least two of whom have apparently never been in a post office before and seem to have no idea what this animal is. Based on my tedious and exhausting experiences, I've compiled the following suggestions to help lessen the pain for all of you...

1. Wear comfortable shoes. You will be standing for quite some time; neither heels nor flip flops will provide the leg and lower back support necessary.

2. Do not get into the line until you have everything you need. People who get in line, realize they need a mailing envelope, exit the line, flip through six different mailing envelope sizes, choose a seventh, and then attempt to return to their original place in line will be heckled or possibly punched.

3. It is acceptable to pick out a mailing envelope, get in line, and use the back of the person in front of you as a flat surface on which to fill out the mailing envelope.

4. Cranky, tired, hungry, smelly, loud, or rash-ridden children should be left with a responsible babysitter or breathing adult; if you must bring your child into the post office, at least bring along something for them to do. If you think standing in line at the post office is boring, try doing it as a four year old.

5. Do not get in line behind anyone who was alive during FDR's administration. You will either be forced to listen to a diatribe on the price of stamps (you know in my day...) or will risk pulling your hair out when they want to make small talk with the postal worker and then write a check to pay for a $2.56 package. If there is a senior citizen directly in front of you, allow the person behind you to step forward. Trust me - proximity is key. The more you can distance yourself from the frustration, the less it will raise your blood pressure.

6. The postal clerk is God. He/she has ultimate power; forget this, and you will reap the consequences. Treat him/her with due deference, be prepared when you get to the window, allow them to finish each excruciating question (no interrupting!) about whether your package has anything liquid, flammable, or dangerous, and you may make it out unscathed. (Special Note: if one or more clerks closes their window at any time, do not mutter sarcastically under your breath about the number of breaks federal employees get while hundreds of taxpayers wait helplessly in line; you will not be served any faster... do not ask how I know this.)

7. Unless your dog has official paperwork indicating his specialized training and intelligence, he does not belong in the post office (hint: seeing eye dogs need to walk on the ground, not ride in your purse, in order to be effective).

8. There's a reason they put those posters up on the walls with pictures of all of the different stamp designs. Do not stand at the counter, with other patrons lined up behind you, hemming and hawing over the Nutcracker stamps versus the Virgin Mary stamps. Look at the poster, go with your gut, and pick a design.

9. Do not go on your lunch hour. Just don't do it! I don't care if you work, I don't care if that's "the only time" you can go - if you expect to get in and out of the post office between 11 and 1 in less than thirty minutes, you deserve to get stuck in line behind the woman with fifteen different packages for her fifteen different grandchildren. Go after work or on a Saturday morning - those times are still going to be busy, but at least then you aren't standing behind me tap tap tapping your (high heeled) foot, irritated because you aren't going to get back to work on time.

10. Smile. Everyone loves getting mail; no one loves braving the post office to send it. Just remember how fun it is to open the mailbox and receive a letter or package, and hopefully that will help pass the time while you're waiting. (Or do as I do, and try to predict which people in line are Nutracker stamp people, and which are Virgin Mary stamp folk.)

(Sample post office line; note the distraught look on the face of the woman to the far right - I predict she just discovered they're out of Virgin Mary stamps and she'll have to go with the Kwanzaa ones.)


Cricut Christmas Part 4

A different option for a card is to take a regular card that opens, glue around the bottom and two sides, and then insert a piece of paper into the pocket you created. That white sheet of paper you see with the stamped swirly design slides in and out of the pocket, and is where you can write the message. The only Cricut piece on this card is the green tag with the santa hat cut out. The Cricut cartridge cut out that whole piece without me having to do a thing! (I heart my Cricut.) I strung a piece of dental floss across the front pocket part, and slid the green tag onto the floss, so it can slide back and forth. (It helps to glue the dental floss in place before you glue the card closed and create that pocket.)


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cricut Christmas Part 3

How cute is that little guy?!?!? I love this penguin from Joys of the Season (Cricut cartridge). He's actually two layers - the white part is one layer, and the black piece cuts out separately and was added on top of the white. The teeny tiny yellow beak and feet had me stumped for a bit, until I realized I had a sheet of yellow alphabet stickers. I cut out a few small pieces of the sticky yellow paper left on the sheet around the letters, and then it was easy to attach the details. I also like the less Christmas-y colors on this one; it's obviously a winter card, but it's a change from the standard green, red, and white.


Monday, December 8, 2008

The Future Mrs...

Wedding invitations are going to be a reoccuring topic around here for a while, as I try to decide a) on a design, format, etc., and b) if I'm woman enough to tackle this project DIY style. As I was paying bills / perusing wedding sites last night, I found the most creative, unique, and sassy invites I've found so far at a site called The Future Mrs. Darcy. As a major Pride and Prejudice fan, the name alone intrigued me, and when I saw the theme of the invitations, I was even more excited. Each of the wedding invitation suites is based off of a different famous film or tv couple!

Feast your eyes upon...

Are you less of a Jane Austen girl? How 'bout a more modern couple?

Or there's always the classic movie that NavyGuy and I would have to go with...
There's several other couples that provide inspiration for invitation suites on her site, as well as a link to the the designer's blog. I just love how creative these invites are!!! And they really do feel like the couples who inspired them. For a bride and groom who really wants to follow through with a theme idea, these would make really memorable invitations. Definitely check out the other invitations on her site (she also has a couple baby announcements, and a neat "We've Moved" card inspired by Monopoly). Seeing this kind of work reminds me how many places I can look to find wedding and scraping inspiration!


Cricut Christmas Part 2

Another Cricut card! The white background is from a cartridge called Accent Essentials, and the ornaments and snowflakes are from Joys of the Season cartridge. The white background is actually mimicking a Stampin' Up diecut that's been very popular lately. I saw it at my Stamp Club and had a twinge of regret at not having a diecut machine, because it's a neat background element; however, I knew my Cricut would't fail me, and after examining the Accent Essentials cartridge closer, I found the exact same shape! But, with the Cricut, I'm able to cut it out in many different sizes, as opposed to the diecut version where you only get one size. I wrapped a piece of ribbon around a piece of green paper, and attached it near the bottom. Again, the secret here is using the Xyron machine (see previous post), in order to get adhesive on the entire back of the cutouts.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Weekend Wrapup

So, what did I spend my extra seven hours doing (inquiring minds want to know ;)... It was riveting I tell you. There was crafting. There was lunching. There was more crafting. Good stuff.

Onward though. Saturday morning was laziness for a bit, then a trip to Burlington. NavyGuy and I braved the holiday shopping crowds (I won't be taking him out again without protection... for the other shoppers) and checked out the outlet stores, Michaels, and Target. We also found a suitable burrito restaurant replacement (Taco Del Mar) for our beloved Pancheros back home. The outlets were disappointing. It was fun to see the horse-drawn carriage clop around the parking lot giving free rides to cranky children (and it was fun to see NavyGuy try to outrun the sleigh when he didn't want to get stuck behind it), but the stores did not prove helpful. Michaels and Target were pretty quick stops; the best purchase of the day was this dress from Target. I convinced myself it was necessary because a) it could be a backup bridal shower outfit if I jazz it up with a little color, b) it fit, c) it would make a great substitute teacher outfit or job interview outfit, d) it made me feel like the sexpot character from Mad Men, and e) it was $25! (Yes, I know a substitute teacher should not resemble a sexpot television character, but I'm desperate for work.)

Saturday night I babysat a well-behaved 2 1/2 year old boy, whose only downfall is his inability to fall asleep. After an hour of bedtime songs, crying, milk, and pleas for higher intervention, he finally crashed. Target purchase paid for? Check.

Sunday was Save the Date mania. I've been on the couch since 10:30 am, and my back hurts, my right hand is cramped into a claw-like shape making it difficult to type, and I may or may not have addressed an envelope to the King of Belgium (the guest list became a blur around 3 or 4). I'm planning a separate post to share my tips and tricks, as well as a sneak peak at the STDs that were finally chosen. There were also Christmas cards written and addressed, and a birthday card made for a very special goddaughter.

So, that was the first weekend in December. Oh my gosh - I almost forgot! We also put up our Christmas tree Friday night! NavyGuy was a doll and put the artificial tree together and strung the lights, and we both worked on festooning it with our ornaments (sign we were meant to be together - we have the exact same 1982 Baby's First Christmas ornament... except his has a bunch of dog teeth marks on it!). Hope everyone else had a productive or festive weekend!


Cricut Christmas

Lots to catch up on! Busy, productive weekend. I'll start with more Christmas cards, and fill in the rest as I have a chance this week.

I was having trouble deciding on a design for this year's Christmas cards, so I tested over several designs. This one features cutouts from my new cricut cartridge (Joys of the Season). There are two layers to the Christmas tree, and the red border is also a cricut shape. In order to attach the intricate paper layers to the front of the card, I used a Xyron machine. What it does is turn any thin layer of paper into a sticker. You feed the paper into the machine, and out the other ends pops the original paper, which can then be peeled off of the sheet and stuck to most surfaces. It's helpful when you're dealing with a piece of paper that has lots of details (or cutouts); without getting adhesive on the entire back of the cutout, parts of it would not stick to the front of the card, and would be likely to get caught on the envelope, o rjust fall off eventually.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Unexpected Free Time

What would you do with an extra seven hours of time?

I've been up since 6:00am (I know I know - for the working world this is not early, but in my new slacker world, 6:00am = ass crack of dawn). I was supposed to have a babysitting job in Mt. Vernon at 7:30, meaning I'd need to leave the house by quarter to seven. However, this job was scheduled several weeks ago, so yesterday I had the brilliant - brilliant! - idea to email the dad and confirm the job.

At 6:36 this morning (post shower, post contacts in eyeballs), dad replied that his wife flaked and was supposed to have called me a week ago to let me know that her meeting had been canceled and they would not be needing a sitter. I emailed him back saying it was okay, but he called as well, apologizing profusely for the mix-up and flattering me with compliments about how much they love me and sincerely hope this doesn't affect future jobs. Ah... they do know the way to my heart.

So, much as I would like the extra cash, I'm more psyched about the extra seven hours that I hadn't anticipated on having today. Now the real conundrum begins: what do I do? These are the options I'm weighing...

- start working on my Christmas cards while I have the office to myself
- start addressing Save the Dates! (yes, they arrived; no, I'm not giving you a peek until they're sent)
- put up the Christmas tree
- do some grad school reading
- watch my Thursday night TV that's TiVo'ed (Betty, Grey's, Office, 30 Rock)
- go back to sleep

I love when I have "extra" time like this, because essentially (in my twisted logic), ANYTHING I get done is a bonus! So, what do you think I should do? Or, more fun, what would you do if seven hours magically landed in your lap?


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Headlines from the Week

With three babysitting jobs in the next three days, the remnants of a vicious cold, and a to-do list six feet long, I'm going to have to just hit the headlines of my life from the past few days:

Extra! Extra! Temporary Washington Teaching License Arrives; More Paperwork Ensues

Tickets Booked for Wisconsin Holiday Vacation; All Parties Hope We Don't Get Stuck in St. Louis En Route

Mugs Sews! Authorities Worry "The End" is Near

Vicious Cold Symptoms Launch Incursion Against NavyGuy; NavyGuy Battles Back with Vitamin C and Jedi-Mind Tricks

Two Marines Barricade Themselves to Video Game Console; Slight Movement Noted When Hunger or Nature Calls

Anyone else have a good headline for something that's happened this week?


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sparkly Card #3

The last in the trio of sparkly, glittery cards from November's Stamp Club:

How can you recreate this at home? Easy. The main idea is a technique called "masking." On the white piece of paper, you lay down a ripped post-it note, to cover the area where you want there to be the "snow." (The bottom half of the card.) Then, sponge blue ink on the top half of the white paper still exposed above the post-in note. When you remove the post-it, you'll have a blue sky and a white snow covered landscape! (To create the trees in the background, you leave the post-it in place, stamp the trees on top of the post-it, and then remove the post-it). If you draw a thick glue line across the white and blue borders, then dip in glitter, you'll give the effect that it's a snow covered mountain :) (The moon in the blue sky was also masked, just using a small post-it circle.)

Again, a less traditional colored Christmas card, with blues and blacks.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

There might be a reason people take classes in this...

NavyGuy: I really need to get my haircut.

Mugs: Yeah! We can try out those clippers we bought at Target.

NavyGuy: Heh?

Mugs: The clippers we bought so I can cut your hair and we can save the money you waste at the barber on base every couple of weeks.

NavyGuy: Do you even know how to cut hair?

Mugs: Sure! I looked at some videos online. It can't be that bad. You want it all one length right?

NavyGuy: No, it has to fade upward. You don't know how to do that.

Mugs: Bah - I can figure it out.

NavyGuy: Too close to my ear! Too close!

Mugs: Sorry!! Just hold still for God's sake. I can't cut straight with you pulling away and twitching all the time.

NavyGuy: Well, you can't move the scissors like that. You're going to gouge my head.

Mugs: Just, grrr, you have no faith in me. Relax.

NavyGuy: Now you have to make the bottom part shorter.

Mugs: I know! Stop pestering and let me work.

NavyGuy: There's a bump of hair! You left a bump of hair right here (pointing), and here (pointing).

Mugs: [growl]. I will FIX it!

Mugs: Uh.... is there supposed to be a line?


In my defense, when NavyGuy rushed to the barber in downtown Anacortes (after he got a look at the back of his head - the part with the divot seemed to put him over the edge), the stylist said that for a first time haircutter, I'd done "pretty good." And, I'll have you know, that had he taken my suggestion and kept a style that was all one length, this would have ended with much less screaming.

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