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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Getting Started with Digital Scrapbooking: Where do I begin?

The idea of converting from paper to digital can be daunting.  It took me a few years to fully embrace digital and all that it offers.  There were a few hang ups I had, but I sorted out each of them:
- I like to include memorabilia, i.e., ticket stubs, programs, cards, announcements, etc.  Now, I just scan them in and they still make it on my layouts.
- I enjoyed paper crafting and having an end product that I kept.  Well, now I make handmade cards, and sending them out gives me just as much satisfaction as keeping a scrapbook.
- The learning curve of figuring out digital.  Well, I just overcame it, with practice and looking up online tutorials for what I wanted to do!  I also more recently joined a few online digiscrapping communities, which has really broaden my horizons and taught me a lot.

The positives of digital scrapbooking (I think) far outweigh any negatives.
- You don't need to buy expensive tools.
- It isn't messy!
- If you want it to be quick, it can be quick!
- It can be cheaper (it can also be pricey, but that's up to you!).
- Instead of bulky binders, you can just get your layouts printed in slim, attractive photobooks.
- You can do so so so so much more digitally than you could even dream of with paper.
And there are many more pros, I'm sure!

So what do you need to start with?  Well, the obvious:
- Computer
- Digital images
- Software of some kind
- Digital supplies
And a scanner would be awfully nice...

Now, assuming you do of course have a computer and digital photos you want to scrap...let's talk about software.  You could find a couple of free options out there.  The one I started with was Scrapbook Flair.  But if you really want to do this...I strongly recommend Adobe Photoshop Elements.  If you're going to buy something, buy Photoshop.  Don't buy any of those digital scrapbooking softwares, like My Memories Suite.  They are not worth it.  (Oh, and I don't recommend Photoshop CS for two reasons: as a beginner, there is plenty to learn and play with on Elements; and CS is very expensive, to the tune of $670 on Amazon.)  Because that is what I use, all the technique tutorials I do in the future will be in Photoshop, with some beginning tutorials with Scrapbook Flair.

Next, digital supplies.  You know, papers, embellishments, word art, cute fonts, templates, alphabets...etc......
Sigh.  I love digital scrapping.

Anyway, you can find all kinds of freebies all over the internet.  One way is to follow the blogs of digital designers.  When they release new kits, they often put freebies up for grabs on their blogs.  Another way is to check digi freebie websites, such as Digi Scrap Depot, Free Digital Scrapbooking or Craft Cave.  Another favorite of mine is the Digiscrap Parade.  They do a huge blog train (meaning you go from blog to blog to collect coordinating mini kits) every quarter, which then results in a mega kit.  Also, a lot of digital design shops do daily downloads, meaning over the course of a month or a couple weeks, you download a few pieces of the kit a day.  And, honestly, if you're looking for something in particular, you can also just Google it and see what you find!

These freebies are how I recommend you start, just to test the waters, find your style and see what kind of designers you prefer.  BUT DON'T GET CARRIED AWAY.  Just because it's free DOES NOT MEAN YOU WANT IT.  Make sure you LOVE it before you download it.
And I would definitely encourage you not to be a freebie hunter.  These products that the designers put out are worth the investment.
I also highly recommend subscribing to the Digi Files.  They do a monthly spotlight on several designers, and you get a handful of kits for only $7.50 a month (or less, if you sign up for a yearly subscription).  It's a great way to get full kits, high quality products, from all kinds of different designers with different styles.

Anyway, once you have those supplies, unzip the files, and toss the original zipped file into the Recycle Bin.  Keep your scrapping supplies organized in a different folder from the rest of your photos, and also keep pieces of a kit together, so it's easy to find the things that coordinate.  I like to organize my kits into files by shop and then by designer, but that is because I am active in digital scrapbooking communities and it is easier for me to keep them separated that way.  Do what you think is best for you.  Just keep kits together.
Down the road, I'll do a post on my favorite designers, just to share what I've found along the way.

Okay, with those things on hand, you're ready to go.  Next post: How to make a basic layout.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Entwined book review

Entwined by Heather Dixon
From book jacket:
Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.
The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.
Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.
But there is a cost.
The Keeper likes to keep things.
Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

I would have read this book just because the cover was so beautiful!  I loved it!  It is a delightful retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairytale The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  Youth fiction with nothing inappropriate or too grown up in it (unlike say, Twilight).  Suspense, mystery, magic, and a little romance.  I recommend it for a light enjoyable read!  I give it four out of five stars.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kenya Scrapbook Layouts

I've been oh so slowly working on my scrapbook of the humanitarian trip I took with Operation Smile to Kenya in 2006.  Yeah, I know, it's been awhile.  Anyway, I busted out a few pages over the last couple weeks, and thought I'd share.  Click to make them bigger!
Template: Happy Scrap Girl
Background paper: Journey by Susan Godfrey
Map Paper: Travel the World by Miss Honey
Flourish and Mat Paper: Journey by Royanna
Fonts: Troutkings and smd Heather
Kit: Unbreakable by ViVa Artistry
Font: Smudger LET
Kits: Wanyama and Unbreakable by ViVa Artistry
Darker foliage: Surf Hut by Aimee Harrison
Ric rac: Rainy Day Scraps
Alpha: Boys in My Backyard by Stolen Moments and Stacy's Backdoor Designs
Template: Mye De Leon
Kit: Unbreakable by ViVa Artistry
Template: Bexy
Title Alpha: Sunporch by Amy Teets
Title font: Papyrus
Journaling font: Monterey
Kit: Dandelion Dream by Dream Big Designs
Template: Wizarding Magic Templates (Bethany) SM collab
Flower: Funtime in the Summertime by Flutter Expressions
Lighter Foliage: Flashing Lights by Miss Honey
Darker Foliage: May Flowers by Kathryn Estry
Button: Soft Blue by Piccolina Designs
Star and Stitching: On the Front Porch by Plum Dumpling
Paper for Branches: My Favorite Guy blog train by A-liya
Alpha: Flirtatious by Misty O' Brien
Font: Liorah BT
Kit: Boys in My Backyard by Stolen Moments and Stacy's Backdoor Designs
Template: Simply Tiffany
Alpha: Basic Black by Stolen Moments
Stay tuned for the first post in my promised "Getting Started with Digital Scrapbooking" series!  Coming early next week.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How to Paint Laminate

UPDATE: Just thought I'd give a little progress report.  It's been close to a year and a half since I painted these, and I'm happy to say they have held up beautifully.  Not a single ding, scratch or chip in the paint, not even on the lower shelves and doors where my kids' books and toys are kept (I most definitely credit THAT to the four coats of topcoat I did on the kid wear areas!).

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?  My mom loves books.  She taught me to love books.  We both own LOTS of books...and seem to think we need more!  When I got married, I inherited two of eight big laminate bookshelves from my parents.  They were in the process of building a big beautiful dream house in which laminate anything did not belong!  Over the years of my marriage, I've gotten a few more of those bookshelves here and there as we've had room.  And now that we've bought our own house, I've got all eight.
Which brings me to the fact that they are outdated ugly laminate.  Good lines, very big and sturdy.  Just ugly cheap looking laminate.
Enter Zinsser Cover Stain Primer.  This primer is like magic.  It's designed to stick to any surface without sanding.  ANY SURFACE!  Glossy laminate surfaces included.  And to top it off (haha! if you'll pardon the pun), you can use any kind of paint on top of it.

I primed, painted, glazed and top coated seven of the eight bookshelves all at once (one was in use, so it will get painted with the next wave of furniture), not to mention ripping off the old backing and replacing it with bead board.
So let's talk numbers.

For seven bookshelves, I used:
1.5 gallons of Zinsser Cover Stain Primer @ $16.97 a gallon
1.5 gallons of Glidden Dapper Tan in Eggshell finish @ $22.97 a gallon
1 quart Valspar translucent Mocha glaze @ $16.49 a quart
1.2 gallons of Valspar Clear Protector @ $20.97 a gallon
4 ft by 8 ft bead board panels @ $19.98 each
Smooth nap rollers for primer and paint
Paintbrush and rags for glaze
Semi smooth for clear protector
Foam brushes for the corners

Grand total: About $202 for what I used ($238.21 for what I actually purchased, but there is enough of everything left for the last bookshelf and some gallery wall shelves, as well as enough glaze and topcoat for four more furniture pieces I'm planning to paint).  I'd just like to say that it would cost $479.92 to buy eight of the cheapest IKEA bookshelves of comparable height and width (but not depth...these bad boys are MUCH deeper than IKEA bookshelves).  I'm just sayin'.

So here's what I did to paint my laminate:
First step:  Take off any decorative pieces that can come off (within reason...you're just trying to make the job easier, not harder).  Wipe everything down, let it dry thoroughly.
Second step:  Get the primer in all the nooks and crannies with the foam brushes, then roll the primer onto all the flat and semi-flat surfaces.  This miracle primer dries in about an hour, and then you can do the second coat!  I definitely recommend two coats, three in the corners.  Now, this is oil based, which means smelly and impossible to clean. So I also recommend using cheap rollers and foam brushes that you can toss after using.
Third step:  Same process for the paint!  Foam brushes in the corners, then roll the paint onto the other surfaces.  Let it dry as needed, then get that second coat on. Then finish off with a third coat in the nooks and crannies with your foam brush.
In my case, this is when I started painting the bead board, as it didn't need primer.
Fourth step:  Glaze!  Glaze is tricky.  It's a tacky (as in sticky, not as in tasteless) substance, and it can be difficult to get a consistent look when you're covering a large surface.  I tried out a few things in the process, and found the best method for this project was to brush it on, then wipe/rub with a slightly damp rag to get the worn, antiqued look I was going for.
The glaze has to cure for an entire week before you can put the topcoat on, so take a rest!  (which I would have loved to do, except by the time I finished glazing seven bookshelves, it was time to start with the top coat...)
Fifth step: Top coat. Oh, how I am in love with this top coat.  I highly highly recommend it.  I was afraid I'd have to use polyurethane, which is smelly, sticky and must be brushed on.  But this, this wonderful product can be rolled on just like paint!  Dries in about four hours, and then you can put on another coat.  I put one coat all over, then two coats on the top sides of the shelves (where the books will rub) and on the inner sides (where the shelves can be adjusted).  And three to four coats on the lower shelves and doors for the bookshelves going in the family room, in which my children's books and toys will be stored!
Sixth step:  Reassemble decorative pieces, and hammer the new bead board backs on.
Just to recap, Before:
And After!
And that's that!  It was definitely excruciatingly slow time consuming, but not difficult.  And the end result....it was more than worth it.  I'm pretty smug swaggering self-satisfied happy every time I look at them.  :)

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Monday, June 20, 2011

The Little Gentleman's Closet

Our featured shop for the week is the Little Gentleman's Closet.  You will find the most adorable neck and bow ties for your little guys here.  This shop is owned and operated by Michelle, a former Family, Home and Consumer Science teacher turned stay-at-home mommy of two little boys.  Having two boys, she's encountered the disproportionate amount of cute boys clothing versus cute girls clothing.  And she decided to do something about it.
Michelle's ties are high quality.  She orders unique fabrics and most of all, her ties do not use velcro, elastic or snaps.  Have you seen the ties at The Children's Place, with those nifty plastic clips?
Yep, Michelle uses those.  Much much better!
Here are a few of my favorites:
I have a thing for paisley...too bad my husband doesn't share that...
How CUTE is this little bow tie?!
I think this is a brilliant idea.  For a discounted price, you get a surprise tie!
Michelle sells her patterns for obsessive-compulsive DIYers like myself!  The pattern can be adjusted to fit wee little babies all the way to 14 year olds! AND the pattern comes with two of those little plastic clips (if you need more, you can also buy the clips in Michelle's shop).  I bought this pattern just a couple of weeks ago, planning to remake a couple of my husband's ties for my little boy.  I was hoping to have them done this week to show you, but I didn't get to it!  I'll have to show them off later.
If you have boys, you can't go wrong investing in something from this shop, I guarantee it!

Stay tuned tomorrow for the big reveal of my painted and glazed laminate bookshelves!  It's an even more drastic Before & After than my kitchen was!  The tutorial on painting laminate furniture is coming along with it tomorrow.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Utah Valley Parade of Homes

I spent this afternoon hanging out with my mom, going to the Utah Valley Parade of Homes.  My mom and I have gone together to the two or three Parade of Homes in our area every year since I was 12, with a brief moratorium for the 3 years I lived in Oregon...so it's been about about 13 years of Parades now.  I usually take my camera, but don't take many pictures.  This year was different, because for the first time, I have a home of my own!  I got to walk around saying, "I could do that" instead of "Someday, when I have a house...."  It was awesome.
So I thought I'd show you some highlights from the show.
I loved this window seat and rustic wall
My son would love this distressed sports art!
The knobs in a couple rooms of this house were terrific!
Love this bulletin board.
This house was a monstrosity, 17, 372 square feet.  Inside, the main living areas were nice, but the bedrooms each had a horrible cheesy (tacky) theme.  In the words of my friend, laughable. Yikes.
I thought this mirror was nifty.
Beautiful outdoor entertaining area (see those gorgeous mountains in the background!)
Driftwood headboard, pretty neat!
The house I loved, inside and out! (#14, if you're interested.)
Cool lampshade.
Awesome built in bunk beds with shelving all around.
Very cool art...looks like they took a photo and messed with it in Photoshop, then printed it on canvas.  Great idea.
One nifty piece of distressed furniture...and a pretty cool lamp too.
How fun is THAT lamp?!
Coat hooks.  Love 'em.
Needless to say, everything after this house seemed lacking.  The "Harborside" was full of character, personality...and life!
But just for good measure...just a couple houses down from the Harborside is a house that was in the Parade a couple years ago.
My (13 years of Parade going) ALL TIME FAVORITE!  (If you're interested in a tour, go to this website and it's the first house, top row on the left.)
I got lots of great ideas for DIY projects for my house (as well as bigger projects that I couldn't tackle myself...but I can dream about doing!).
If you live in Utah, the Parade goes through next Saturday, the 18th.  Buy tickets online and save $1. If you go, make sure you hit 14 and 8.  Those were my favorites.  :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

My font!

So guess what?  My custom font, created for me by Amber of Stolen Moments, is up for sale over at ScrapMatters!
(insert big cheesy smile here)  I feel kinda like a celebrity......
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