~11~ Love is in the air

Today, I spent a good amount of time playing around with my new Cricut cartridges, "Celebrate with Flourish" and "Lacy Labels".  With Valentine's Day just a little over 2 weeks away, I figured that would be the perfect project for this week's post.  Tonight's project also made me think about how Valenetine's Day is often known as the "Hallmark" holiday and is thought to have become more of a mass marketing extravaganza, instead of a day to acknowledge your loved ones and tell them just how much they mean to you.  Cue the alternate alias, "Singles Awareness Day". However, I don't think that Valentine's Day has to be thought of this way.

Love comes in so many forms and doesn't just have to be about romantic love.  We all have varying levels of love: love for our family, love for our spouses/significant others, love for our family-parents/children, love for our friends, even love for our pets.  So, why not use Valentines day to celebrate all of those loves, letting one of those ways be through a card? Even though cards are just a piece of folded paper, that often get thrown after a while, at the time of giving, they can mean so much.   When I create cards I really think about what type of person I envision the recipient being like-and work to match my design to that vision.  Each card I create is a labor of love-I put so much of my energy and heart into every card that I make, hoping that the person who receives it will feel that love the moment they open it.  (P.S. I also want to add that thanks to my Cricut, I have been able to spread love through cards, sans Hallmark, for over a year now!)

Tonight, I made 3 Valentine's Cards.  My first 2 cards I used just the "Lacy Labels" cartridge, and the 3rd card used a combination of several cartridges.  Even though my new cartridges are from the 'Lite' line of Cricut products, there are still a remarkable amount of images, and great layering options.  The first image that I was instantly drawn to was the heart, which I used as the focus on my card. The background papers are from my favorite cardstock pack, "The Whimsy Stack".  To add some separation between the 2 patterns, I used red ribbon with white stitching.  All items, including the heart were cut at 3".  (*Make sure that the real dial option is OFF to ensure that all items line up correctly) The final touch to this card was a "love you" stamp on the left side of the heart in black ink.
The second card I made was actually inspired by a heart I had cut out for my first card that I had accidentally cut too big.  Wanting to use my "Lacy Labels" cartridge again, I chose the 'You & Me' design.  I sometimes find it hard creating Valentines cards in a color scheme that is appealing to the eye, so to add a little contrast to the red, I used a light purple and shimmering silver cardstocks.  After I had all of my die-cuts in place, I felt that I needed something else to give my card some zing, and decided to use some adhesive rhinestones. Voila! My card was finished!
The last card that I made tonight, was also the most laborious.  I had seen a tutorial a while back about making a tri-fold shutter card, and wanted to give it a try.  I started with a 5 1/2" x 12" piece of marigold cardstock and scored it along the long edge using a bone folder at 2", 4", 8", and 10".  Marking 1 1/2" from the edge, I made a cut from the 2" score to the 10" score.  I did the same on the other edge.  Once my base was ready, I cut each panel design that I wanted to the correct measurements so that it would fit correctly in each section.
For the front panel, I used the same polka dot paper that I used in my "You & Me" card with a white edge between the yellow base and the patterned paper.  The design was the 'LOVE' image.  For the design look that I was wanting, I turned the base of the image a 1/4 turn and added the letters to the center.  (*Note I had to cut the letters a bit smaller to make them fit).

For the center a mixture of 2 images from "Lacy Labels".  I used the base image from 'thanks' and the word from 'sweet'.  The background paper is from the "All Dressed Up" stack.  The word IS was printed from my "George and Basic Shapes" cartridge in deep purple.  For each of the smaller corners in the center panel, I used images from "Wild Cards", and "Sweet Treats".

The last panel was from "Celebrate with Flourish".  This one took me a while to get just right.  Because of all the intricate and small cuts, it was hard to get this one to cut cleanly.  I determined that I needed decrease the speed, but increase the pressure and blade depth so that the edges came out cleaner.  While this card took A LOT longer than I thought it would, the end product, I think, looks amazing and I am so proud of how it came out.  Even though some of my cards take a long time from start to finish, the result and sense of accomplishment I feel when it's all done, makes it so worth it!
May love of all forms be in the air for you!
Until next time,


~10~Good Customer Service is Hard to Find!

Why is it that in a failing market economy, it seems that good customer service has fallen by the way-side, when if anything it should be running full force?  I am often dismayed by how rude, and uninterested companies can be towards their consumers. Now I know that I am far from the center of their universe and they deal with complaints and issues every minute of every day (sometimes from much ruder and unpleasant customers-I've worked my fair share in customer service (and still do) and know how that goes), but all I'm asking for is someone to answer my questions in a straight-forward manner, the first time I call, and hopefully get some resolution to whatever issue I'm having.

My experience this week however, shows that quality customer service is not dead! I recently bought a Living Social voucher for Vistaprint (VP)-I paid $10 to get $50 worth of office supplies.  I was needing business cards and the like for my Etsy shop, so it was perfect timing!  It took me hours to customize my images so that they fit VP's templates just right, but I was finally ready to order last night, and even had my order total right at $50.98.

Unfortunately, I didn't see the box where I needed to enter my promo code to receive the $50 credit from my voucher and kept clicking to the next page, thinking it would be there for me to put it in.  Before I knew it, I had submitted my order and payment.  OOPS!!  Frantically, I tried to cancel my order, but it was too late.  Instead I had to email customer service since it was too late to call them, explain the situation, and then cross my fingers in hopes that they would honor my simple and in my opinion, reasonable request.

I woke up this morning to an email from them letting me know that not only have they refunded the $50.98, but my full order was still being processed and shipped, AND that my voucher was still working and valid.  I was in such disbelief that I had to call their customer service line just to verify that this was indeed true.  And, it was!  So, not only am I getting the order that I wanted, but I'm getting it for NO cost AND still have $50 of free money (ok $40-since I paid $10 to get the voucher) to spend with them.

Thank you Vistaprint for restoring my faith in not only good, but great customer service! You are an example of how companies should run-quickly, and with courtesy.

As for the products I ordered, I custom created address labels, business cards, and envelope seals.  For the return address labels and business cards, I created the images I wanted in powerpoint, saved each as a picture, and then uploaded them to the VP website.  For the envelope seals I used a preloaded image/template from VP and just added the words.

TGIF everyone!
Until next time, 


~9~ Cards, cards, cards!

I have been very busy this last week, as I worked to increase my card inventory.  I made several birthday cards, and valentines day cards. I always love coming up with new ideas and designs that will suit many different genders and tastes.  I am very excited because I picked up some new patterned card stock called "The Guy Stack".    I often have a difficult time creating more male-friendly cards because I lean towards more girly designs, so I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of cards I'll come up with the help of my new inspiration.

In addition, I have 2 new Cricut Lite cartridges on order: Celebrate with Flourish, and Lacy Labels.  Be on the look out for some highlighted projects using those cartridges in upcoming posts.

Last, but not least, I am very happy and excited to say that as of yesterday my Etsy shop, Bake Me A Craft is officially open!  After a lot of work to get pictures uploaded, descriptions written, and my shop organized, it's finally here.  I openly admit that it is still a work in progress, but I think that it's a good start and I'm excited to see where it goes from here.  To kick off the grand opening of my shop, I will be running a sale through the end of February-all orders are 20% off!  Products will mainly consist of paper goods such as cards & gift packaging, and cross-stitch goods.

~8~ Wedding Recap: Ceremony Decorations

My dear blog world, I promise that I have not forgotten you, even though it's been over a week since my last post.  I do however, have a lot to update on, as I have been very busy enjoying my new craft table and room.  But before I get to that, I have another wedding recap post as promised in my last post.  The focus of this one is ceremony decorations.

Jake and I got married in my grandmother's church, Gethsemane Lutheran Church,  which has a long family history.  My grandma has been an active member for over 60 years, having raised my mom and her siblings in this church.  My mom, aunts, and uncle were all married at Gethsemane, and it was important to me to carry on that tradition.  I also know that this meant the world to my grandma, and would have made my grandpa beam with pride.
Gethsemane has a large, beautiful sanctuary with stained glass windows throughout, so there was not much decorating needed at all.  After much thought, I decided that the only thing I wanted to add to the already gorgeous space were pew decorations and memorial candles on the altar.

I found the inspiration for my pew decorations at THIS website, but made a few modifications to the directions to make it a little easier and more cost effective.  Materials I used were:
*12 styrofoam cones-Dollar Tree
*Royal blue fabric-JoAnns in the remnants section (a great place to find discount fabric when you don't need a lot of it)
*Pearlized push pins (38mm)-JoAnns
*Hot Glue Gun/sticks
*5/8" Satin Ribbon in silver
*Silk hydrangea stems, 7 of each in blue and white-JoAnns (Tip, I bought these either when they were on sale BOGO, or 1 at a time using a 40% coupon, as they run about $6-$7 a stem.)
Total Cost: $75

To assemble, I hot glued the fabric around the cone and to the top of the cone.  The left over fabric at the bottom, I twisted and wrapped to the back and pinned it in place.  For the ribbon, I found the middle of a long piece and pinned it about 1/2" from the top on the seam of the fabric. I brought it around to the front and overlapped the ribbon once (step 1) and then twice so that it had a twisted look (step 2).  I used a pearl pin the in the middle of the twist to hold it in place (step 3) and pulled the ends around the back and pinned them again so that they wouldn't move, and then brought the ends back around the front and repeated the first 3 steps, making sure that the twists lined up correctly (step 4).  I made 3 twists down the front of each cone.  
The next step was to add the flowers.  I kept the blue ones intact, but separated the white ones into small pods and stuck those into the styrofoam on the front edge along the top of the cone.  Then, I stuck the blue flower stem (the whole thing) into the back of the cone and pushed it down far enough so that it sat right on top of the white ones.  Finally, I added a ribbon tied to floral wire and hot glued it into the back.  To hang my pew decorations, I hung them around the pole to the candelabras that were inserted into the end of the pew.


As for my memorial candle project, they were turned out to be so much easier than I thought they would be.  I found the directions in a book I had bought just after we got engaged. It's called The DIY Bride: Crafty Countdown by Khris Cochran.  While I wasn't able to use anything else in the book, the tutorial for these candles made the book totally worth it.  Have you seen the price of customized memorial candles?!?
Materials used:
*Vellum-I bought a pack of it from CardsandPockets when I ordered my invitation supplies
*Embossing Tool
*Pillar candles-Ikea
*wax paper
*Candle template in word. (contact me if you would like it, I am happy to share)
Total Cost: $15

Once the vellum is printed and dried, cut down document to fit on the candle.   Lay candle on wax paper.  Use the embossing tool to heat the surface of the candle.  Once it starts getting shiny, gentle roll the vellum onto the candle, which will fuse with the melted wax as it dries.  Do this all around the candle.  
You can also add ribbon and other embellishments to your candle for a little something extra.  I made 4 memorial candles for my paternal grandma, maternal grandpa, cousin, and Jake's best friend.  On the back of each candle was a popular quote: "Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us, to let us know they are celebrating with us in spirit"  (I have also seen an ending that says, "to let us know they are happy").  One of the neatest compliments I got on my wedding projects was from my photographer who loved these candles.  He said that he's seen lots of memorial candles before, but he has never seen ones with pictures on them, and marveled at just how personalized they were.  
Well folks, this is the last post in my wedding recap series.  I also took on other small projects, such as personalized bubbles, a monogramed aisle runner, and escort (place) cards, programs, but do not feel need to chronicle them on this blog, since I really want to spend more time focusing on current projects instead of past ones.  I will however leave with you a final picture collage of those wedding extras I did. 
Until next time, 


~7~ Wedding Recap: Centerpieces

I'm going to start this post by saying that I LOVE fresh flowers.  I love the look and smell of them!  What I do not love is the price tag attached to them.  Honestly, if I could afford justify the cost, I would buy fresh cut flowers weekly to have displayed on my kitchen island. Alas, I am not made of money-and when it came to my wedding I felt the same way.  I would have loved to have all fresh flowers-but I couldn't fathom spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on something that would get thrown away at the end of the day.  To save a bit of money, I decided to use fresh flowers for all bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages-but use fake or silk flowers for everything else.

There were 2 different centerpieces that I particularly liked and knew would be relatively easy to replicate.  The first was submerged flowers in 3 tiered vases with a floating candle on top.  The second was a floral pomander atop a tall vase with uplighting, crystal beading 'dripping' down, and and river rock in the bottom.

My Inspiration Pictures:

My favorite flower in the whole world is an orchid.  Lucky for me, orchids replicate very well in silks and really do look like the real deal.  I used both white and fushia silk orchids and took the buds off of the stems.  I bought my floating candles at IKEA and 7.5" vases from the dollar tree.  The 6" and 10" vases were rented from my florist.  It turned out to be a very pretty and inexpensive centerpiece.
For my pomanders, I found a tutorial at "The DIY Bride" blog on how to make tissue paper pomanders.  It was very easy to do, but also very time consuming.  Supplies included royal blue tissue paper (found at Target), floral wire, and 6" styrofoam balls.  To make the task of putting together hundreds of floral "buds" less cumbersome, I created my own personal assembly line.  Stage 1: cut and accordion fold a dozen or so 3"x4" rectangles (each rectangle consisted of 5 sheets of tissue paper).  Step 2: Fold in half and insert between a piece of floral wire that is also folded in half.  The fold on the tissue paper should line up with the fold of the floral wire.  Twist the ends of the floral wire around the bottom of the tissue paper to hold it in place.  Step 3: pull apart each layer tissue paper and form into a flower. REPEAT.  This made the process go a lot faster.   I did not put the flowers into the styrofoam ball until just a couple days before the wedding so that the transfer from IA to MN would be a lot easier.  (Could you imagine transferring 6 large pomanders in a car already packed full of wedding supplies and a wedding dress?!?)

As for the crystal drip hanging from each pomander-I bought the beads from Michaels and strung them about 20" long on bead wire, which I attached to floral wire and hot glued into the bottom of the pomander.  See video below for more detailed and step-by-step instructions.

At the bottom of the vase were royal blue glass stones.  The 30" pilsner vase and flameless lights were rented from my florist. 

I really can't even begin to describe just how breath-taking our reception hall looked when we saw it for the first time!  I have to give huge props to my florist, Deven Nelson.  She is the sole reason that our room looked as beautiful as it did.  Her hard work and understanding of my vision is what made my centerpieces glow.  I received so many compliments that night for how amazing everything looked - and that made all of the late night crafting sessions, trial/error frustrations, and tired/sore hands completely worth it!

Next up: Ceremony decorations (yes, I realize I'm going backwards).
Until then, 


~6~Wedding Recap: Invitations

Christmas marked our 6 month anniversary, and it's crazy to think that Jake and I have been married 1/2 a year already.  It feels like we just got married yesterday! As mentioned in my "About" section, I tried to incorporate as many DIY (do it yourself) projects as possible in an effort to a) save money and b) add my own personal touch to our wedding, and perhaps the 1st thing that I knew I wanted to do myself was our invitations.  While I knew that it would be more cost effective to use a boxed invitation kit from Target, JoAnn's, or Michaels, none of the ones I saw really captured the essence of our wedding that I wanted to portray in our invitations.

Through perusing on The Knot boards, I heard about a company called Cards and Pockets (CaP), that sells invitation supplies at a reasonable price.  Before ordering, I took advantage of CaP's ability to order samples for a very minimal cost.  This allowed me to check the color of the paper, and play around with various layouts to see what worked best.  I ended up going with the 5x7 landscape signature pocketfold in "Sparkling Sapphire" and ordered sometime around October or November when CaP runs their annual fall sale, so that I could save 20% on my entire purchase.    I also ordered silver cardstock for my invitation matte and silver envelopes.

As for the actual invitation, after playing around with the different pocketfold layouts, I decided that I best liked the look of a landscape invitation because it allowed me enough room to add an embellishment design to the side of it.  I printed my invitations 2 per page on white cardstock (which I bought at JoAnn's in packets of 50) at Kinkos.  It was actually extremely easy and very cheap.  All I had to do was save my document as a PDF on a flash drive which you can then plug into a copier/printer.  After all of my invitations and inserts (Reception info, accommodation info, and RSVP postcard) were completed, I'd spent a total of $20.  That's right $20-less than the cost of a new ink cartridge.

As for the embellishment next to the wording that I wanted, I used a clear stamp-swirl design, from a set I found at-you guessed it- JoAnn's.  In order to give my stamped image a more finished look, I decided that I wanted to emboss it-which dries it so you don't have to worry about smudging and also gives it a glossy/slightly raised finish.  My first step: Buying an embossing tool.  I also found this at JoAnn's and saved quite a bit on it using a 40% off coupon.  The next step was a bit of trial and error.  I originally tried my embossing skills using clear ink and blue embossing powder.  After doing this, I have no idea how ANYONE is able to use this method.  HUGE mistake.  It's really darn near impossible to get powder on only the ink and not have it stick to other parts of the paper.  Even when you think you have it all off, as soon as you start using the embossing gun, all the little flecks of colored powder rear their ugly face and what you have is a mess of an invitation.  So, I did a little more research and learned that the secret to success is to use colored ink and clear embossing powder.  I chose to use Color Box brand pigment ink in Royal Blue and A la Mode brand clear embossing powder.  *Note, a little bit goes a LONG way.  I ended up buying much more powder than needed.  1 small jar was plenty.

The final touches on my invitations were little silver gems randomly placed on the stamp to add a little bling, and a belly band to seal it all up that had our monogram stamped/embossed on top.  The belly band was made using an 8x11 piece of scrapbook paper that had a swirl design.  I then cut it into 1" strips.  The monogram is placed on top of the seal where the ends of the bellyband meet to hide it.   I bought my stamp from Rubberstamps.net where they allow you to upload your own font/image and they create it on a stamp.  The "H" that I used on our invitations is the same H I used on our aisle runner, bubbles, and cake topper and is from the "Bienville" font.

When all was said and done, it took a good 3 weeks from start to finish to have all 100 invitations ready to go. The final cost, including postage was just over $200.  Yes, I could have spent less time, and less money for something that most people throw away, but I really couldn't have been happier with how they turned out.  My mom who realized just how much of a labor of love these invitations were for me, even framed one as a wedding present to Jake and I, which I now have proudly displayed in our home.

The next few blog posts will be more recaps of my DIY projects from the wedding, so until then-

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