2008 - a great year



I can't complain. 2008 was a great year. Really great and full of firsts. I thought it would be nice to put together a mosaic similar to the one I did for last year's work. As I selected these pictures I noticed that 'firsts' seemed to be a big theme this year:

- Paper: first series of gift boxes, first article in Craft (or in any magazine for that matter), first inclusion in a design book with other artists, first article in Craft Stylish, first paper illustration on the cover of a magazine.

- Sewing: my first skirt, first tie, first bootie, first fabric design (definitely a laughable list to all you sewing mavens out there, but a big feat for me)

- Photography: first inclusion in a magazine (the photo of my recycled paper rose) - come to think of it I never blogged about that, first photo gig with my brother & future sister-in-law

My biggest first of all, my book, isn't included here simply because I can't show you. It is definitely the project that will mark this year for me. Big time. I can now relax because as of a week ago it is in the printer's hands. Yes!

As you may have noticed, my blog didn't include that many tutorials this year. You can blame my book for that. After writing 33 projects it was rather difficult to come up with the time to write more. They will be making a stronger come back next year—but not necessarily in my blog

I have exciting ideas for 2009. I've been working on my goals list this week and it's looking good and more importantly, realistic. I'm focusing my them around what I really and truly love to do. Sounds like something I should've been doing for a long time but sometimes I can really get scattered. I'm a victim of having too many ideas floating around in my head. The list will definitely help keep me on track.

I will be taking the next few days off to be with my family. So far there are no exciting plans for New Year's Eve. We'll see. Nothing would beat what my brother and his girlfriend came up with. They took off three days ago to Paris and Geneva for the holiday! How fun is that!?

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you that visit my blog, for all the comments, lovely emails, and the enormous amounts of support that you give me. I truly, truly appreciate it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I hope that 2009 brings you and your families many happy moments and new adventures. Happy New Year!

ready, set, go

I don't know if it's because it's a Monday but I already feel that new year clean slate feeling today. It may also have to do with the fact that this past weekend was the most relaxed one we've had in a very long time. After everyone left late Christmas day we just loafed around. We had leftovers to keep us going and we slept like we hadn't in a long time. It was really a recharging time. I have so many ideas for the new year and I can't wait to get going.

For today's Monday photo I've decided to post one that I didn't take — my D did. As I downloaded the photos from the camera over the weekend I found a few surprise shots (nothing new there) and this one is my favorite.

back to reality

We had such a great Christmas! My parents, brothers and future sister-in-law came over for Christmas Eve and they all spent the night to be here for Christmas as well. We topped everything off with a very laid back weekend. We stayed home and played with our new toys and just relaxed. Boohoo to Monday morning when Mr. Z must go back to work and we all start our routines once again.

Christmas eve snippet:
I heard the kids playing together in the living room, where they were listening to music they had selected. I caught a second of their conversation and took a peek to see what they were doing. They each had one of their teddy bears in one hand and had them facing each other on the coffee table. The only thing I heard was D's bear asking little C's bear one thing: "May I have this dance?" -- Melt! Can they stay this cute and innocent? How much more of this do we still have?



This afternoon I took some time to work on a small project—another calendar. I know, I know. Another one? Yes, because on occasion, I have customers give me suggestions about what products they'd like to see and when I think it's a good idea I run with it. This time, I had someone email me asking me if I had plans for making a calendar that would simply be a printable—with no cutouts—for those that don't have the time for the work or the confidence with their cutting skills. She suggested I use the patterns I've designed for my fabric and printable stationery. So here it is. Thank you G. for the idea! :)

a tale of two birds

I'm not particularly interested in bird ornaments but as soon as I saw these a few years ago I had to have them. I bought two—I just couldn't buy one. You'll understand why in a minute. They have a special meaning to us. I thought today would be a good time to share why.



Mr. Z and I met when we were teenagers but didn't officially start dating until I went to back to Colombia (where he lived and we met) on a Christmas break during the junior year of my second BA. I'll give you a minute to re-read that.

We saw each other the day after my arrival. It had been 7 years since the last time we had seen each other and the sparks finally started flying. I had always considered him 'just a friend' but the time we shared together during that holiday visit changed everything. We were together almost every day.

I had to come back to school in January and we weren't sure what was going to happen with our relationship but we knew it was the real deal. Living thousands of miles away kept us on the phone a lot. The bills were outrageous! This was all pre-internet video and emails just weren't enough for us.

So what does this all have to do with a pair of cardinals? At the time, I was living in a third-floor dorm room that was next to a big tree. My bed was next to the window and I'd sit there while I was on the phone. One day, while talking to Mr. Z, I noticed a pair of cardinals land on the branch closest to my window. They were really striking and they loved singing a lot. Here's the weird part. Every time after that and over the course of about a month, whenever Mr. Z called me the birds would show up. Every single time. They'd always perch themselves on a branch close to my window. As soon as we'd hang up they'd leave. Every single time. I mentioned this to Mr. Z and he eventually got used to asking if the birds were there. My reply was typically, "They just got here." I remember that one time I stuck my phone out of the window so he could hear them singing. It was really strange but it felt like a sign—a good one. That's the way we took it.

So now we have our two little birds that remind us of this story every time we pull them out so they can hang out and visit on our Christmas tree.

• • •

Side story - Little C spotted a snow globe that she asked me to buy her. My reflex was to say no (I hadn't planned on purchasing anything ) but as soon as I saw it we had to have it. It has cardinals sitting around a snowy pine tree.

• • •

By the way, Crafty Synergy is a Blog of Note today! Kind of funny after all the fuss of being blocked a few weeks back. Thanks Blogger!

just a little reminder

I just wanted to pop in here really quickly to let you know that my 2-for-1 sale of my templates will be continuing until Monday at 10pm EST.

I must now rush out the door and tackle the task of finding a few missing gifts. Wish me luck as I fight the crowds! I'm not really looking forward to this.

Have a great weekend everyone!

christmas tree craft

  Today is one of those days where any little thing will send me flailing over the edge. What a long week! The good news is that I got everything done and this morning I had a successful crafty time with my D's 3rd grade class. I was in charge of coming up with a small craft for them to make.

I was truly stumped on what project to tackle. This month's Martha Stewart magazine saved the day—sort of. There is a Christmas tree decoration made out of paper that I thought would do the trick. As I worked on making a sample, I quickly realized that the kids would have a hard time with all the folds. So... here is my very simplified tree that was inspired by the MS tree.

Materials
- Dowel (1/4" in diameter x 9")
- Spool (1" tall)
- Wooden ball (1/2" wide)
- PVA glue
- Three triangles made out of card stock (5" base x 7" tall x 1/4" spine - like a book cover)

The kids had a bit of a hard time with the folds for the spine but the rest was fairly easy for them. The tree can be left as is or it can be decorated with whatever comes to mind—stickers, cutouts from hole punches, small pompoms, etc. The wooden ball at the top of the tree can be a shiny bead or a star instead.



By the way, we only used three triangles because our time was limited. As you can see the dowel isn't completely covered. One more triangle would've probably solved that. This is a part of the project that can be easily customized according to what you prefer. Keep in mind that the more triangles that are added the less opportunity there is to actually decorate the tree. Whatever is placed on the triangles won't be as visible. This particular tree is very simple but it would work just as well if it had 50 triangles on it (no spine—just folded in half).



Our Friday night movie awaits. Have a great weekend everyone!

If you still need some last minute gifts (like my calendars) I will be offering a two for one deal on all my templates until Monday at 10pm EST! :)

I can't deny it

Over the last few weeks I've thought long and hard at what I want to work on in the new year. I've come up with some new ideas and closed other avenues. I've left fabric off my list. At least for now. I really enjoyed working on what little I got done. I didn't even unveil everything I designed (at least a dozen patterns that I considered decent). For now, I want to concentrate on what I know best—paper.

Rings


I want those that enjoy paper crafting as much as I do, to be able to work on projects similar to the ones that I work on—so more PDFs will be coming (kid-friendly options too!). Working on my book has definitely helped me understand that it is more important for me to teach than it is to sell the pieces that I make. I don't do well working with multiples of anything simply because I want to move on to the next project. So, my wall art, will probably continue to be one-of-a-kind pieces. My PDF templates, on the other hand. allow for all of my interests to be wrapped into one nice package. I can design, produce, photograph, set up the tutorials—everything. After one is complete, I can move on to the next idea.

Four petals


On a more 'for fun' level I hope to get into sewing a lot more. I know I say that every year but this time I at least have specific projects I want to tackle. Hopefully, my crocheting and knitting needles will be clicking away more frequently too. Printing on fabric is something that I'd really like to experiment with. A screen printing class has been on my wish-list for a long time and I haven't forgotten block printing. I have plenty of lino blocks waiting for their turn to be made into something.

So now all I have to do is tackle my wishes & goals list and stick with it. Easier said than done.

Branch - an oldie that I still love


My Monday photo (which I've been neglecting to post) is more of a small collection of what I've been working on in the last few days. These are part of new stationery PDF sets that are now available in my shops (A LIttle Hut & Etsy). It seems like I have gray, blues and blueish greens on the mind lately.

Encounter

snow!

I've lived in this city for about 19 years and this is the most snow I've ever seen and maybe only the third time I've seen it snow here. My husband and the kids have never seen snow in person so they were having a blast. We picked up enough snow off of our cars to have a mini-snowballs fight. Talk about cheap entertainment. It brought back a lot of memories of my childhood in New Jersey. I wouldn't be too fond of living further north at this time in my life. However, I do think it's a shame that my little ones won't have the same fun I had when I was a kid.



I like the interesting tint of the shots. It was really dark outside, so I set the camera with a slower aperture and this is what came out.



Our plain backyard.

visiting a long time friend

We were supposed to get our holiday decorating done this weekend and nope, it didn't happen. Saturday was the last day of the kids' soccer season and D was part of a tournament for his age group. We were at the fields for four games with long waits between games. We all got home ready to shower and go straight to bed. That's what everyone did but me (the going to bed part). Somehow, I ended up with a crochet hook, yarn from an old forgotten stash and the urge to create a freeform something/anything. I ended up with this scarf.



My Mom taught me to crochet when I was about 8 or 9. I don't remember if it was easy or not for me to pick up. I do remember just making things off and on with yarn that my Mom would buy me or give me from leftovers of the afghans that she made us (and that we still use). My first projects where clothes and accessories for my dolls. My latest projects have been small purses for little C. The one and only time I've used a pattern was many years ago when I made a large doily as a gift for my Mom. I didn't realize that until just now.



I don't crochet that often at all. But it does feel like a long time friend. The kind that you don't visit that frequently but that when you do see each other again, you pick up right where you left off the last time and you enjoy every minute of it.

mumbling

You know those days when you can't wait for the kids to go to sleep so that you can crawl into your own bed right after their lights go out? That's me tonight. I took these photos today and that's the only reason for me being here right now. Isn't that the lamest explanation for a blog post? I think it's the sleepy stupor talking. And I can guarantee that tomorrow will be one of those days where I will wake up and totally regret writing in such a condition.



Wait. I hear it. Yep, it's my pillow calling my name. Good night!

one for you + one for me

One of the fun things to be on the lookout every year are calendars. They come in all shapes and sizes and for all tastes and needs. I'm always amazed at what everyone come up with. Sadly, this year I didn't have time to come up with a new design. So here I am dragging my feet with my semi-new idea.



I started wondering what a customizable calendar would look like–a hand made calendar that still has some style to it. I used the layout of my first calendar but deleted the letters of each month, added the abbreviations for the name of each month and left the top half of each sheet empty. My intent is for each person to decorate their calendar in their own way. I've informally dubbed this calendar the 'you decide' calendar.

As you can see, I recruited my little C for one of our pages. I love her whimsy style. I could never pull that off. I need to remember to take her lead and just go—just do. Sometimes I probably mess things up because I think too much.



The cutout flower type shapes are inspired by the gift tags I made for Craft Stylish. And the rectangles are actually cutouts with scraps of different paper glued to the back of the sheet. This new PDF set includes the template for the trio of rectangles and three other shapes (circle, oval and rectangle). The templates can be used as guides to cut out different shapes on the sheet of each month. Each frame will be an easy way to display photos and fabric or paper scraps.



I'm going to pass out three pages to each of the kids and my husband so that they can decorate them however they want. I may rework my three pages and in the end we'll have a very unique and very 'us' calendar. If you'd like one of your own you can find it in my shop here.

For those of you that don't know, I finally got to post a new interview on my Crafty Synergy blog. Finally!! Just as quietly as I got blocked from my blog I was able to post again. No warnings, emails or heads-up. Lovely. For a visit to Crafty Synergy click here.

good intentions

I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend! We sure did. Family and good food—what better combination.

Today the routine starts up again (a good thing in my mind) but I'm running around like a mad woman this morning. Orders need to be shipped out and work needs to be completed.



I was going to list some new artwork today but I've only had a chance to list two new Exuberant trees. A few more pieces will come tomorrow. In the meantime, and as my cyber monday offering (until 10pm EST), I'm offering a 2 for 1 sale on any of my printable templates.

Happy Monday!