Sunday, August 26, 2007

Remember me?

Sorry about my mysterious disappearance. I had some weirdo flu thingie. All is not lost! I had some time to make things. :)

This layout was particularly fun. I wanted to make something for the Pizzazzill contest at Creative Imaginations:
I couldn't find any of their cardstock at A.C. Moore, and Archivers was pretty limited too, so I'm having to vary the projects quite a bit to keep it interesting (you can enter every day). ATC's, greeting cards, layouts, etc.

I like contests and challenges a lot because it gives me some basic rules to springboard a layout or project off of. In this case, it was pretty basic. I only had to use their brand of cardstock. So, I hopped over to another site's challenge (Ooh! A double challenge!) and though I didn't enter their contest, I swiped the theme: Nouns. Sure, that's easy too, but putting them together made it a bit more interesting.

As a vegan, I never imagined I'd be making a page about liking milk, but in this case, I was writing from the point of view of Squeezle, a squirrel I rehabilitated. I love the drunk look she has in the final picture. It totally cracks me up. A few syringes of puppy milk and you'd swear she (and her newfound "littermates" Folsom and Rikers) had been sipping too many martinis instead. Oof.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Short Opossum Tale Project

For some reason, though I uploaded this picture second, it showed up first on this entry. Please join me in a nice afternoon scroll...down please, to where I actually begin my commentary...

Here's the cover of a project I did Sunday. It's a mini album containing pics of the Short Tailed Opossums that came through our rescue group after being surrendered by an abusive zoo. I used green and blue Pizzazzill cardstock (it bugs me that it's so tempting to say their brand's name Pizza-Zil in my head, though I know that's not what they intended, I the only one who gets annoyed by these things?) to create the books, tags, and pockets. On each insert is a picture of one of the STO's and on the back of each is a little bit about them. The ribbon, that just looks kind of loose here ties the album shut. The hinges are small lengths of ribbon too. I actually grabbed this idea from the ScrapBook Club catalog. They're actually my favorite book club, though I also subscribe to the Crafters' Choice Book Club which has its perks too. Here's my take for anyone shopping around for one of these type book clubs:

The ScrapBook Club

The ScrapBook Club is by far my favorite. It opens with a pretty good deal, several free and one discounted book, usually, with a free magazine issue of some type (I got an organizational one that was actually very useful.) Their prices are better than at the scrap book stores I tend to go to, though if you can find the books at one of the big box craft stores like Michaels or A.C. Moore, those 40% off coupons they give out in the paper are very handy. The key word being *if* you can find the books there, which you usually can't. The selection at the ScrapBook Club is quite good, if you are looking for new and hot titles, though I don't buy as many of the supplies unless it's something I absolutely have to have and I can't get it locally, since the prices don't seem all that fantastic on those. I have been extremely happy with their books, their book prices, and especially their shipping cost which is free if you pay when you order. Do be aware, though, that free means slow...sometimes taking a month to get to you. I don't much mind since it's like a cool surprise when they show up, but if you must have your order today, you may want to look somewhere else.
Their selection is what I'm most hooked on. I can't look at the site without ordering something. They add new titles all the time and I have not yet found a website, store, or...well, I don't know where else I'd really look for books, but the point is I have not found anywhere that has even close to the selection the ScrapBook Club has. Discounts abound, they give out coupons periodically (yay!), and their featured selections usually rock. You don't have to worry about losing their little cards they mail to you either, because though you can answer whether or not you want their monthly selection that way, you have the choice to do it online--they send you a reminder email too so you don't forget to take two seconds to check yes or no at their website. For me, this totally made my deep fear of book clubs disappear and I'm glad it did.
I've been a member for a year or so now, and I'm very happy with it. Their point system for free book rewards did change recently so that you need more "points" (earned when you buy books from them) to get free books than you used to (you now need 6 to get a free book), but honestly the points thing wasn't the biggest draw for me--though they do rack up quickly. I like getting free ones and of course, when I do, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling toward the Club, but the main draw for me is the huge selection of titles and the competitive pricing with free shipping. I also like their hard-copy catalog which is where I hear about most of the new releases that come out in scrapbooking. Oh and where I manage to swipe a free project ideas from fo' freeeeee!
Now the sleazy part, if you decide to join, it would be ever so nice of you to mention me as your referral. You can find my name in my profile (click the thingie to your left). That's not why I said nice things about them, but hey, I might as well ask my lovely friends who I care for ever so much to throw me a bone should they join. Eh? Anyway, most of the books I will be reviewing can be found there, if you're looking.

The Crafters' Choice Book Club

The url for this one is: It's a more broad-spectrum craft book club, so if you're looking for something more than scrapbooking and paper crafting books, you might like this one better. I like polymer clay and some sewing (easy hand-stitching, cross-stitch, and needlepoint) so at the suggestion of a friend, I gave it a try. It's not bad, certainly, it was just less obsessional that I found fitting for my own likes--it's not as in-depth within its catagories though man, does it have categories. There are so many different crafts represented, you could try a completely new craft every month for the rest of your life with their monthly selections. This can be a little awkward in its own way, though. I, for example, joined primarily for the papercraft books yet the monthly selections are rarely from this category. The last one was a quilting book so if I got it by accident, I would definitely need to send it back or find someone to give it to, since that's so far from anything I do.
Don't get me wrong. This club is a good one for a lot of crafty peeps out there. The introductory offer is really great too. You get four books for $1 each which is pretty generous. You also get a "free tote", though the one I received was truly ugly. Think Dress Barn 1987. Eeek! They have the same online yes/no system when it comes to the monthly selection, so I love that, and they have a point system as well, though so far I haven't been able to figure it out.
If you prefer hardcover books, you'll love this place since they have a ton of really nice-looking ones that would be excellent for gift giving. Of those, I was most drawn to the cross stitching card making compendiums and some of the cool drawing books. As far as scrapbooking, though, you're likely to find yourself a little...bored. The selection is pretty small (along the lines of most scrapbook and craft stores' stock) and several of the titles I bought were pretty thin on content and pages. On the other hand, if you're a shrewd shopper, they offer some great deals and specials, lots of clearance items, and some handy reference titles you'll want in your library. Their hard copy catalog lacks the beauty and usefulness of its competitor's but nevertheless always tempts me with a few interesting titles, and I always manage to have a full wish list.
This club also has a point system, though I haven't yet figured it out. Their prices are decent and they seem to have some good hard to find titles. They send you a bajillion different sale info emails (be aware, those who hate ad emails as well as those who love a sale). While the ScrapBook Club is more of a provider of the new and offers a reliable selection and price, Crafter's Choice is for the adventurous shopper who enjoys the thrill of the chase, sniffing out the best deals and sales, and the diamond in the rough. You have to sift through some junk to get to the good stuff (some things resemble a remainder bin to me) but you can find some cool stuff if you try. The books aren't as well organized, either, sometimes including some weird titles completely unrelated to crafting, like weight loss cd's and aromatherapy inhalers (???). The shipping is not free, but it's faster, and they offer a ton of tools and things, though nothing has appealed to me in that category, really. It seems lackluster and overpriced on that end, but I feel the same way about its competition. My main suggestion to the proprietors of this site? Focus, people. Quality is more important than quantity.
One interesting note...the book reviewers on their site are super hateful for some reason. They loathe every book they've ever read and can't wait to read another so they can slam it too. I don't know why people pick on the books on this site more than any other, but geez, they can get ugly. If you need to vent, had a bad day and want to take it out on a book, apparently this is the place to go.
Despite my somewhat ambiguous feelings when it comes to this vendor, you are again, welcome to use me as a referral. I don't know if it matters to them in any tangable way, but why not, right?

Wow, I really had no intention of going into a diatribe on book clubs, but there you go. I hope I haven't bored you terribly in the process and maybe helped a few of you who might be considering choosing a book club type sales thingie. Myself? I'm sticking with The ScrapBook Club (not to be confused with the similarly named "Scrap Book Club") and will likely buy one or two more titles I want from Crafters' Choice and end my membership.

More layouts from the CM crop...

This layout would probably embarass my poor brother (Nicky of Scars and Stripes) to death. I'm proud of his keyboard work in their punky rock-n-roll band ("they" including my other brother Mikey, the bassist/frontman last I heard though it seems like they switch around all the time so I could be wrong.) Anyway, a bit of Nicky's musical foundation is exhibited in this die cut sprinkled page. Yeah, it's a bit on the dorky side, but I wanted to reflect the rather dorky feeling one always has posing for their mom before a high school choral concert circa 1990. I used the blue flowers to pick up that colonial blue in the decor in the background--a color oh so very popular at the time, and of course, I had to match it with duty rose to complete the 90's ish "decorator" style. Notice the other artifact of the period style? Yep. There's a painting of geese in the background. You'll be glad to know that yes, mom has updated the look of the house. To prove that I'm decendent of a craftygirl, check out the little blue stuffed cat by Nick's rented shoes...she made that!

Hooray for a snowy layout! I hate summer. I hate the heat. So why not escape into some paper flurries. I used the brand spankin new snow-blossom punch from Stampin Up to make the flakes, then punched some brads (from the Fiskateers again...Heidi Grace, I think--the soft blues went very nicely with the Stampin Up cardstock cutouts), then added some nifty Creative Memories stickers and a journal box I got at the crop. I really like the icy look and the way the stickers ended up looking like they were falling. If you can see the pics at all, that's my little dog Usagi enjoying the snow.

Okay, I made an effort to turn this rightside up and was probably better off sideways. Sigh. Well, it was a very cute rat layout using some lovely products I received via a Fiskateers contest (Whoo hoo!) I loved the paper, loved the stickers, the tissue paper that said it was good for backing photos...looks good, but was a total pain to work with. I'll keep the rest for fluffing up gifts or possibly for decopaging stuff. Cool designs though. I think we need more gift wrapping stuff to go with altered gift bags, the tags we work so hard on, etc. So, it's a good product, just don't try to mat photos with it.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Craft Blog, Episode One

Just posting a few layouts I did this weekend. The first one is a baby page--something I rarely get to do, not being the kid-type. It's for the mice, Victoria and Albert who were found, orphaned, in the street (sound Dickensian enough for you?) I hand-raised them by feeding them off of a paint brush. Take note of the painfully adorable baby mouse stickers. I couldn't believe how perfect they were! They were the very last set at Archivers so I splurged even though those EK Success 3D stickers are often prohibitively expensive. The jellybeans are there to remind me of how small they were--they were even shaped like jellybeans (okay, the big Easter kind, not the Jelly Belly size, but still. Since I was at the Creative Memories Crop, I took advantage of the circle cutters they have. I totally want a set of my own, but rumor has it that they're coming out with a new and improved blade system for them so, perhaps patience is called for.

Hmm...I'm having a bit of trouble posting the other pics. I'll have to put them into another post shortly. I have had a plain blog at MySpace, but craft blogs are new to me. I really like reading them so I thought perhaps I'd try writing one. If it looks funny or I sound like an idiot, please forgive me. I'm new at this kind of thing.

Saturday I attended the Creative Memories Luncheon Crop at Teresa B's. She's always a gracious crop hostess with lots of ideas and toys to share. It was not far from maximum capacity Sat. afternoon. The previous one was more sparsely attended so we each had an entire table to ourselves. This time I shared mine with Kay, which was cool, since we still had enough space and we like looking over each other's shoulder anyway. I don't know if all CM reps have this, but Teresa's scrap room is like a craft store unto itself, which is dangerous for my bank account. If I'm flipping through my bag and can't find the exact color of paper I want, I unwittingly find myself flipping through the displays. And of course I can't just go to the single sheet file, I have to pick out a whole paper set. Oh, and then I need the sticker set with the sugar gliders in it. And Kay and I both decide we can't live without the spring set with the lop rabbit doesn't take long for me to end up horrified at my tally total.

If you haven't seen the new products that just came out, don't miss the cool new "Vintage" line. It looks like CM is daring to be a little more interesting than in the past, with more vibrant colors and distinctive patterns in the place of plain cardstock and single-colored mats. I'm really into their journaling boxes that match the papers. They have large-sized ones for people like me who arrived at scrapbooking via keeping diaries and journals vs. from the photo angle. I rarely find journaling boxes that give me enough space.

One more thing while I'm on the topic. Teresa's crops include really excellent not at all scary (I'm looking at you, Archivers) food. She even made sure there were plenty of vegan options for picky ol' me. Is that thoughtful or what? Keep an eye on my blog. I'll post the dates of the next ones I hear about that she's hosting, so those of who want to see for yourselves can come along.