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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Don't Forget About The Party!!!

Hello!  Just a friendly reminder to join our Twitter Party tomorrow, 1 pm EST at 

Answer a couple trivia questions and you could win a $50 gift card!
Thank you McGraw Hill Financial
for putting the party together!  I will see you there ;0}

Monday, September 29, 2014

I {Hate} Faces :0(

My guys have been sitting on my counter for DAYS now, faceless.  For someone with a smiley face emoticon addiction like me, you would think I would have slapped a smile on these guys on day one.

***CAUTION- TOAD-ALLY BAD PHONE PICTURES AHEAD***
:0D

My toad-ally abused little toad...

My BOOtiful ghost

And ginormous Spidey...all blind with eyeball-less-ness!  Don't call wooden family services on me yet.  I am working on it, I promise.

I shall not actually admit to exactly how many minutes...at several different times during this extremely unproductive Monday I have stared, stirred around, and given up one again on this face.  

Do I like the nostrils???

No Nostrils?

Mouth higher...

lower...

smaller...

Stash them all!?!

Mama big lips...

Sister small eyes...

Honestly I like the mustache most of all.  

I {Hate} faces!!!  I hate being stumped too.  These guys have been sitting on my kitchen counter FOR ALMOST ONE WEEK.!!!   I will get them outfitted with eyes in the next 24 hours or I will turn them over to the crafter's humane society so they can at last live in a loving home <3 p="">

Floating Ornament How To


Mostly as a resource for my customers on Etsy, I decided to post a VERY DETAILED tutorial on exactly how to get those floating images inside the clear glass ornaments.  I used the shepherd bulb from my three piece ornament set as an example.  If you would like to purchase the ingredients and follow along they are available on my Etsy site, or you can skip the craziness and just order them finished ;0}

When you get your vinyl in the mail, it will come on transfer tape.  It is sticky enough to hold the vinyl in place, but once the vinyl is applied it will peel off fairly easily.  There are two types of transfer tape I use.  This one is a clear, slightly more sticky kind.  The clear is very nice when making these ornaments, but it can be a little too sticky for some pieces.  I also use a masking tape type of transfer tape.  It is not clear, but comes off really easily.  Usually the masking tape type is best for larger vinyl pieces.  This particular ornament is a 4" size, so it will usually just depend on what type I am using that day exactly what kind of transfer tape your vinyl will come attached to.  Regardless of type, you still apply it in basically the same way.

I take the paper backing off of the ornament piece and lay the transfer tape on the table sticky side up.  

If you order the smaller pieces they will come on sheets like this.  You first need to cut them apart and work with one nativity at a time.

So, lay the vinyl on the table, sticky side up.  Take your clear ornament insert and slowly, carefully {in the air} center your insert over the vinyl.  I like to stand for this part so that I can have a good perspective and get that vinyl centered where I want it.

***for the small nativity that comes in sheets, you want it to be just lower than center so you can see it well once it is in the ornament***

{if you look really close you can see that the square of transfer tape is just blending into the table.  It is there}
When I feel like I am holding that clear insert over the vinyl correctly, angled so the tab on the insert is totally at the top and the design is not too far right or left, I slowly lower the insert onto the transfer tape/vinyl.  I usually like to put the bottom of the insert down first, then slowly proceed up the insert.  That way if I feel like I really am not centered there is still a chance I can pull it back up and start over.  


I am trying to be very detailed so that the most confused person can re-read a few times and get the idea.  Really this process is quite fast and simple.  Most times, once you connect the insert with the vinyl you are stuck with where ever the vinyl ends up.  It is very difficult to pull the insert off and usually the vinyl or the insert or both are destroyed.  That is why with your first piece you should take your time and get the hang of things.  If you get your vinyl on, but the tab is not at the top, you can trim the sides just a bit so the insert can turn one way or the other inside the ornament and sit in there with the vinyl design upright.

I will tell you that sometimes when I am attaching, the vinyl jumps up off the table {probably static or something attracting it to the clear insert} and stick to the insert before I am ready.  To avoid any chance of that happening you can either have a friend hold the corners of the transfer tape down or use actual masking tape or scotch tape and tape the guy to the table, sticky side up of course.

Once the insert is down all the way it should look something like this.  Smooth the vinyl down with your fingers and turn the whole piece over. 

Rub in down again pushing on the non-sticky side of the transfer tape.  It is best to do most of your touching from this side.  That way if your fingers are smudgy, the mess will pull off with the transfer tape.  Trying to clean smudges off the insert after the vinyl is attached is not the funnest process ;0}

Now this is my preferred method for taking that transfer tape off.  I leave the piece on the table, pull back one corner of the transfer tape, and use my finger to press down and more or less drag the transfer tape off.  I do it this way so you have a much lower chance of bending that insert.  If you bend the insert, you will get a white line in the thing and you will not be able to do anything to get rid of it :0(  Not fun.  You will be able to see that white crease line in the insert after it is in the ornament.  

Leave the piece on the table to take the transfer tape off and you will avoid the whole issue!

Once I get one corner pulled back, I hold the insert down and keep dragging.  I have to show you in two pictures, cause I only have two hands, but take the above and below picture and imagine them happening at the same time.  Again, this keeps you from creasing your insert.


Once you get that transfer tape off, you can just throw it away.  Or better yet, go stick it to somebody's face.  My kids love it.  Or they just love me so they put up with it.  

The hard part is over!  Put that insert to the side and grab your ornament!!!

I like to set my ornament on a tape roll.  Whatever roll you can find, or even a wide mug will probably work.  Rolls of packing tape are my favorite ornament holders, for the 4" ornaments anyway.

Grab that silver ring at the top of the ornament and gently pull it off.  I have had one or two ornaments chip at the top when I pulled really quickly in a trying-to-hurry-and-fill-this-order kind of fashion.  

Set the cap aside.  Take a minute to make sure there are not any stringy glass shards or sharp points that stick out.  They will scratch your insert all the way down.  If you do have some, try VERY CAREFULLY to shave them off with scissors or something of that nature.  If you don't want to mess with that, just take the ornaments back to the store and exchange them for non-sloppy opening ornaments.  Be sure to check your replacements while you are still in the area just in case you have another bad couple.  I have noticed the ornaments are getting sloppier at the opening.  I have also noticed that ornaments are being made thinner.  This year I had 3 break in my hands when applying vinyl to the outside.  Be super careful when working with glass!!!

So, take the insert, roll it up small enough to fit into the opening of your ornament.  Typically, the smaller the ornament, the smaller the opening, the tighter you need to roll.  Do not fold!  Folding will crease and mark up your insert.  Also, I like to roll the side with the vinyl on the inside so that there are not ledges on the outside of the roll to get caught on the lip of the ornament during insertion.  

One thing to watch here is that beginning roll.  I have had ladies rolling it too tight at the beginning and permanently bending the insert.  Be careful.  You can always try a loose roll, then if it is too big to fit in the ornament, open it up and try a little tighter.  The mini ornaments, 1.25 or 1.5" are ridiculous.  I usually give 4 or 5 extra nativities and inserts because you end up bending tons with how tight you have to roll the insert.

If you are having trouble, try rolling towards the edge of your table or hard work space.  That is what I do with the mini ornaments and it helps a lot.  Do not try to roll in the air.  Roll the insert against a hard table or hard covered book or something.  

So get that bad boy all rolled up, 

And insert it into the ornament, tab side up.  That is another thing to watch for when rolling.  The whole point of that tab is for it to stick out the top of the ornament, locked in the small neck of the opening so your image does not end up upside down.  When you roll your insert, be certain the tab is sticking out of the top.

The insert will start to open when it gets inside.  Be careful to not hold on to that tab too tightly.  The momentum of the insert opening can tear that tab right off.  

OK, so my insert is inside.  Look good?

NO.

We are not done.  See how it is curled in there.

How about the top view.  Can you see that better?  It is all bent out of shape.  We want a flat line.

I typically use a BBQ skewer to do this job, but I was too lazy to walk the four feet to grab one with the day I had ;0}  I have used pencils or pens...and would not really recommend using the exacto knife unless you think you can do it without scratching/cutting your insert.  That wasn't a good decision I have decided in hindsight.  Anyway, take some long thin object that will reach all the way to the bottom and just gently push the insert in the center.  I tend to push it one direction, then pull the pushing stick out and put it back down inside the ornament on the other side of the insert, then push from the other side.  If you didn't have to roll the insert too tightly, you will only have to do this once or twice to get things just right.

Those little mini's are real buggers in this department.  I typically have to work with those quite a bit to get them uncurled.  Just do your best, then walk away.  It will look perfect to you tomorrow.  

Occasionally, you have a traumatic accident.  It is OK.  Go eat a cookie, go for a walk, take a nap...whatever it is you do to unwind.  Grab some tweezers and come back.  Using tweezers you can work the inserts back out on most occasions.  When trying to remove an insert, I grab the insert near the center, push it against the walls of the ornament {to make it kind of curl} then pull it up and out.  You might have to twist or turn it a bit, but usually I can get it to basically curl back up and come right out.  Just know you have a very high chance of ripping the insert, so don't plan on using it again.  Extras are a big plus with these guys.

If you ordered from me, and you have a terrible accident, email me at vanessa.cam5@gmail.com or convo me on Etsy and I will see if we can't work out getting you a replacement.  I know how it feels to destroy your only piece!!!

Well, once the inset is in there right, you will not be able to see the insert when looking at it head on.

Top view.  See how it is a straight line?  I do typically, for this set anyway, push it back just a tad.  I just like how it looks from the front.  

If you are putting snow in, now is the time.  Use a funnel, insert it on one side of the insert and add snow until it is full enough for your liking.  Then pull the funnel out, push that insert tab to the other side of the opening, and insert the funnel tip into the other side of the ornament.  Add snow to equal that of the front.  If you get too much in there, just turn it upside down over your snow bowl and shake some out.  You might have to add and shake out pinches of snow a couple times until you like how it looks.  You might also have to grab your tool and push that insert around again to get it centered again.  Take your time.  The whole process can be really enjoyable if you relax and take your time.  

Don't have a funnel, it works fine to just hold your ornament over a bowl and use a spoon or something to sprinkle snow inside.

Know that when I say snow, I mean fake snow ;0}  Just making sure that is clear.

Also know that if you put snow inside your ornament, it will end up sticking to the vinyl and insert a bit.  If you are not a fan of messy, skip the snow.  The ornaments are gorgeous without it too.

There you have it, how to get that floating image inside your clear glass ornament.  

I have another tutorial on this same style of ornaments HERE that talks more about creating your own inserts and more specifically about the products used.  This tutorial again was simply to explain in further detail the actual process.

I will be back in the next few days with a tutorial on how to get those letters on the outside so they look just right.  Until then, Happy Crafting!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Military and Money App & Giveaway!

Hello, hello!  I have been recruited by TheMotherhood.com today to let you know about a new app available that can be a great financial tool.  It is called My Military & Money.  McGraw Hill Financial, along with the BBB {Better Business Bureau}  have come together to create an app that has tutorials, articles, links and a helpful budgeting calculator to provide our military service men and women sound financial advice.  

While I myself have never served in the military, my father worked for the military while I was growing up.  We moved often and dealt with financial strain each time we did.  Between those experiences and the experiences of my three siblings that have served our country, it is obvious to me that our military families can use all the help they can get when it comes to financial planning.

I have downloaded the app and found a great deal of useful information.  Studying financially advise from a number of different sources in the past, I found all the information presented here to be sound, helpful advise to anyone starting out on their own or even anyone that simply feels they need a refresher course in proper money management.  

Here is what McGraw Hill and BBB have to say about their app:

  •  For members of the military and their families, the challenges of juggling deployments, frequent moves and the basics of everyday life can put a strain on their finances. That’s why McGraw Hill Financial and the Better Business Bureau have teamed up to produce this website and a free app, My Military & Money, which features essential resources and tools to help users make informed decisions about money.


  •       Because military service men and women and their families are busy, they need information that is available anytime, anywhere. The app, available free in the iTunes store and for Android devices in the Google Play store, offers instructional videos and calculators to help reduce debt, increasing savings and build budgets while on the go.


What the app offers:
  •  Essential tools that help you create a credit card debt reduction plan, build a balanced budget and structure a savings plan.
  •  An introductory video training series that covers Making Credit Work for You, Digging Out of Debt and Building a Better Budget.
  •  Tips and information on a range of financial situations faced by service members like retirement, deployment and buying a house.
  •  An optional reminder function that prompts you to revisit your financial plans each month.
While they are still developing their useful tools section, the video tutorials are informative and easy to access there are links to useful resources for service personnel.  There are tool boxes for things like budgeting, deployment, retirement or home buying.  I see this app being beneficial to any adult, military or not, and even teens or kids, putting important financial principles at your fingertips.  

Just to be clear, if you are looking for funds tracking, multi-option budgeting tools, or savings goal tracking and access to your real financial accounts, this is not your app.  This app is all about giving you one location you can access any time of day and find sound financial advise and information about an array of real-life situations.

So what was that about a giveaway???
Well, as a great way to spread the word about the My Military & Money app, McGraw Hill Financial and the BBB are hosting a Twitter Party!  They will be introducing their app, answering questions, and giving helpful financial tips for families.

It happens October 1st at 1 pm EST.  

If you have never been to one, be prepared to have your mind blown.  There is so much action going on at those Twitter Parties it is crazy.  Crazy, but fun.  So, if you were to, say, answer a trivia question at the a for mentioned party on Twitter, October 1st at 1 pm Eastern {that is 12 noon here in Minnesota ;0}, you might just walk away with one of 5 $50 visa gift cards!!!  I could use an extra $50 right now!  

So, while I won't be hosting a giveaway on my blog this time, you can enter the running each and every time you answer a trivia question.  That's right.  I will see you there!

I guess I better give you the link to the party too ;0D

I would say, go ahead and click on that link, sign up that you are going to attend, and use the widget to add the even to your cyber calendar.  That way you won't accidentally miss your chance at a free money card.  How financially savvy would that be, huh?

Just as a side note, I also want to let you know McGraw Hill has a really amazing website full of ways to teach your kids about money.  It is called Our Kids and Money, oddly enough ;0}  I love it!  There are recommendations based on ages and several articles giving ideas of how to sneak money management lessons into every day life.  It is really worth your time to check out that site as well.




***This was a sponsored post.  While I was compensated for my time and efforts to properly review this app, the opinions were my own expressed opinions of the product.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Craft 'N Chat

Woot!  Woot!
I had my first Craft 'N Chat party today.  After having to reschedule last week, we finally got our craft on.  

You see, I have been living in Minnesota for one year now, and try as I may, I can't get over missing my besties back in Arizona.  I just love those ladies.  Desperate to have some girl talk time AND a little crafting of things I am not going to have to pack up and ship away after falling in love with them...I invited every new friend I have on Facebook that lives here locally and invited them to come over for a little girl time in the craft zone.  

Like I said, I had to reschedule with all the crazy things that have been popping up lately, but we did finally break out all the wood I cut ages ago and painted up a storm.  

This was my own personal mess :0}
Awe.  It is so nice to have my counter covered in crafts once again.  Looks way more fun than the counter covered in dishes!

I made up this kit my MIL got me from the wood store in Utah.  So adorable.

I put my friend Danielle to work painting too.  She wanted to make some name signs for her kids.  Babies number 2 and 3 never got the monogram name sign baby number 1 did, so we made these.


This is Nathan ;0}  He was my big helper.  He came out and watched me saw and sand, then he worked the drill press all by himself {with supervision} and sanded both sides of the 4 holes we drilled.  It was hard work, but he did great!  I rewarded him by plastering his face with vinyl...which he wore the rest of the day.  I love kids!

More of my disaster.  This is my witches cauldron before the final coat of paint.

My poor toad is missing his eyes and so much more, but I was so excited to see how this all turned out.  I will get you better pictures when I complete the finishing touches on this set, but who can wait for a peek!?!

My friend Sarah brought these lovely ladies and they all set to work on some wood projects too.  They made a Fall for All set, my new witch's broom and some paper witch shoes.  It just fun to sit and chat with them while they worked.  I was way overdue for girl time!  Now maybe I can get momentum up to have another Craft 'N Chat next month!  I am pretty excited to try.  I am thinking of having mostly Thanksgiving stuff available for ladies to do.  We shall see...