Thursday, January 18, 2018

Creativation 2018: I'm Phoenix-Bound!

When this post goes live, I'll be at the Sacramento airport. My destination? Phoenix, for Creativation 2018! This will be my fifth time at this craft industry trade show and I'm as excited as I was the first time.


Aside from the fact that the show is truly a crafter's paradise AND I get to see some of my very favorite people, there other reasons that I am thrilled to be on my way to Creativation. I'm really excited to be speaking this year. I cannot wait to share my knowledge and experience with a room full of craft store owners who are looking to expand their business into the world of kids' crafts. I am honored to have been named a Creator VIP and look forward to enjoying the many perks that go along with the designation, including doing my first livestream(s)!

I will not be blogging while I'm at the show, but I will share as much as I can via my Facebook page. Let me know what booths you'd like to see, new products you want me to check out, or anything else and I'll do our best!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Loungy Bun

Steve, Trevor, and I have developed a surprisingly large vocabulary to describe where Trouble is and what he is doing. For example, one of us might ask, "Where's Trouble?" and someone else will answer, "Meatloaf on the noon chair." This means that Trouble is in the dining room, sitting on the dining room chair that is at the head of the table (noon position), and his feet are completely tucked in and not visible, leaving his body looking like a meatloaf. We often announce where he is, even if no one has asked. I'm sure it sounds really bizarre to outsiders, but it's completely normal around here to announce "Square tube bun!" or "Pear box!" completely unsolicited. 

I've tried to photograph Trouble in all his favorite spots doing all his normal behaviors, but it's tricky because it is impossible to sneak up on a rabbit. So every photo of him is with his full knowledge. He often gets up if I'm close enough to photograph him, usually either to come ask for petting or to sniff my camera. But once in a while, he ignores me and lets me snap a photo. I had to scrap this photo of "runway loungy bun." 

Loungy Bun (affiliate link)

Runway refers to the narrow strip of carpet we put along the edge of our hardwood floor to give Trouble better traction for Super Runs. Loungy is our word for when his back feet are straight out behind him and and he relaxes his tail so the grey top portion shows, rather than the cottony white underside. It's a vulnerable position for a prey animal, so it shows that he feels safe and comfortable (but fully alert and not sleepy). It's how he chills out and watches what's going on around him. And it's adorable.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

One Little Word, 2018

This is my eighth year participating in Ali Edwards' One Little Word. I started in 2011 with Balance (2011), then did Celebrate (2012), Try (2013), Enjoy (2014), Relax (2015), Share (2016) and Connect (2017). Focusing on each of these words for a year has been very positive for me.

Usually, my word comes to me early. By November, or December at the latest, I know where I want the upcoming year to go and what word will help guide me. This year was different. My word simply wouldn't reveal itself.

I have three primary goals for the year: 1) to lose weight (25 pounds); 2) to reduce possessions and eliminate clutter; and 3) to grow my business. These goals seemed to be pointing in different directions. Words like Reduce or Simplify work for two of the goals, but not the third. Likewise, I didn't want to pick something like Grow or Expand that seems at odds with the first two goals. Maybe my word was Prioritize? Choose? Concentrate? Value? None of them felt right. I wanted a word that would help steer me toward important, yet difficult, goals. I also wanted something uplifting that would help me cope in a society that I increasingly don't understand. Finally, it came to me.

My One Little Word for 2018 is Believe.


First, I believe I can achieve anything I decide to do if I am dedicated enough. I can lose weight, I can get rid of stuff, and I can grow my business. None will be easy, nor will the steps I need to take always be pleasant. But I believe in myself. I believe that God is there for me and supports me when I need it. And I believe in the good in people. We can come together, but it takes openness, risk, and compassion. 

As always, my new One Little Word does not replace the previous ones. Balance, Celebrate, Try, Enjoy, Relax, Share, and Connect will be as much a part of 2018 for me as Believe. Usually, I add my new tag onto my previous string of tags, but the space is full! Believe will be the first tag on a new strand that hangs below this one:


Did any of you choose One Little Word for 2018? I'd love to hear what it is and why you chose it!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Olympic Torch Craft

Today's craft is inspired by Mr. Giannetto's Olympic torch craft, my MLK Day peace craft, and my core belief that people around the world are valuable, important, and deserving of basic human rights. I love that the Olympics focuses on the best of what each country has to offer athletically, where all who compete, regardless of their place of origin, have overcome obstacles and demonstrated determination, commitment, and dedication. The Olympics is so much more than sports. It's about our global community coming together and celebrating talent and hard work.  

Mr. Giannetto's craft features hands holding up the Olympic torch. Mine is about the passing of the torch, the connection of one person to the next. That together, we make up one human race. 



---------


Olympic Torch Craft



Materials:

  • cardboard tube (paper towel size)
  • silver paint
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • tissue paper (red, yellow, orange)
  • tape
  • glue


Steps:


  1. Cut the paper towel tube so that it is about 6" long. This will be the main part of the torch. Use the scrap to cut a piece that is about 1" long. It will form the top of the torch. Discard the rest of the tube.
  2. Paint the cardboard tube pieces silver. Set them aside to dry. 
  3. Trace your hand on construction paper that matches your skin tone and cut it out. 
  4. Trace a friend's hand on construction paper matching his or her skin tone and cut it out. 
  5. Tear pieces of tissue paper to make the flame. Tape the bottom of the tissue paper together to form a bundle. 
  6. Assemble the torch by cutting vertically through the 1" piece to open it up. Flatten it slightly, then glue it to the top of the main portion of the torch. Glue the tissue paper bundle in place. Wrap the fingers and thumb of one cut-out hand around the torch and glue it in place. 
  7. Glue the torch to the background paper. Fold the extra portion of the arm that extends beyond the edge of the background paper and tape it securely to the back. 
  8. Glue the receiving hand to the background paper. Again, wrap the extra portion of the arm around the back and secure it in place. If you want to add dimension, use foam dots or built-up construction paper scraps to pop the hand off the page instead of gluing it flat. 


  

Friday, January 12, 2018

Predicting Trends for 2018

In less than a week, I will be headed to Phoenix for the Creativation Show, put on by the Association for Creative Industries. I've literally been counting down the days since arriving home from last year's show. It's an amazing experience.

As usual, I'm going to be busy. I'm registered for 10 classes related to blogging, social media, branding, and crafts. (I'm teaching a class too!) I'm attending a craft blogger meet-up, the New Product Networking event, the Industry and Hall of Fame Awards ceremony, the annual AFCI Business Meeting and Town Hall, the keynote address, the After-Party, and several other events. I'll be in meetings multiple times a day. Between all that, I'll be spending about 24 hours over 3 days on the trade show floor, learning as much as I can about new products and spotting the latest trends in crafting.

I freely admit that I'm not the most super-trendy person ever, but I do love trying to predict and identify craft trends. I've been pouring over the sneak peeks and I'm definitely noticing some colors, techniques, and motifs appearing over and over. 




I made this graphic with PicMonkey (affiliate link), using one of the color combinations I think will trend in 2018. I'm seeing a LOT of blush pink, grey, and navy, often with a watercolor feel. There are a lot of repeated shapes, like the triangles I put in the graphic. Butterflies are everywhere, but for the most part, they are flat and lined up in rows like specimens, rather than in flight.

Here are some other trends I'm seeing:


You'll notice my logo at the bottom right. At first, I put a watermark on the image like I usually do, but I changed it to the logo. While I'm not necessarily predicting that My Creative Life will trend in 2018, I'm certainly hoping it will! 

So what's not there? Chevron. I haven't seen it at all. I haven't seen 2018's Color of the Year either. I don't think it will make the impact in crafting that it might in fashion or home decor. We'll see!

What do you think will trend in 2018? Anything you're expecting (or hoping) to see?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

MLK Day Peace Craft

The neighborhood I grew up in was fairly diverse for a middle class town in the 1970's. While the majority of people in my life were white, the next door neighbor was Chinese, Mexican immigrants lived across the street, and Vietnamese refugees lived next to them. Our family hosted Japanese exchange students. I grew up eating the foods and experiencing the traditions of these four cultures.

Despite this early introduction to multiculturalism, I didn't experience what true diversity looks like until I became a teacher. My first class of students (and subsequent classes as well) had no majority. There was a healthy mix of kids with backgrounds in every part of the world. Some were first or second generation Americans, others traced their ancestry to slavery, and many were mixed race. They spoke many languages in addition to English and had religious practices different than my own. It was awesome because they all had so much to teach me about their lives and their experiences. And best of all, the kids accepted this diversity as normal. Trevor's experience has been similar. His school, Scout troop, church, etc. include people from a wide variety of backgrounds. I'm very grateful for this.

I'm not naive. I know racism is alive and well, even in the most diverse of communities. But I love the fact that my child has chosen friends based on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.




MLK Day Peace Craft



Materials:

  • Construction paper 
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Letters to spell 'Peace' (or a white crayon to write it)
  • Glue


Steps:


1. Trace your hand and arm on a sheet of construction paper that matches your skin tone. Cut it out and set it aside.

2. Trace a friend's hand and arm on construction paper, matching his or her skin tone. Cut it out.

3. Interlock the fingers of the two hands, then glue them to a colorful background.

4. Trim any excess 'arm' that extends over the edges of the background construction paper.

5. Use chipboard letters, stickers, and a white crayon to spell out 'Peace' above the interlocking hands.



 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Q-Tip Snowflake

Not all of my craft ideas are original. Most are, but occasionally I have to recreate someone else's project, without the benefit of actually knowing how they made it. Take, for example, this Q-Tip Snowflake I made:


Many years ago, we featured "Snow Swabs" at Fun Family Crafts:


The original source, Spoonful.com, is gone, leaving us with a dead link. As Editor, that leaves me with a choice: remove the feature entirely, or try to figure out how it was made and post my own tutorial? 

I hate removing crafts from the site, so this time I tried to make my own version. I knew from the title that each 'spoke' of the snowflakes were q-tips, but that's all I knew. What are those colorful blobs at each intersection? The photo is too small to enlarge. Now that I've made my own, I *think* those blobs are hot glue with glitter sprinkled into them, which is different than what I did. Here's my version.


---------


Q-Tip Snowflake



Materials:

  • 18 Q-tips
  • wax paper
  • white glue
  • Stickles
  • silver sequins
  • fishing line


Steps:


1. On a piece of wax paper, arrange the q-tips into a six-pointed star. 


2. Put glue at each intersection. Too little and the snowflake won't stick together. Too much and the glue will form unsightly pools. (Ask me how I know.) Let the glue dry overnight. 


3. Carefully peel the wax paper from the back of the snowflake. If necessary, add extra glue to reattach weak areas and/or use microtip scissors to trim away glue pools. Once it is secure, tie a piece of fishing line around the snowflake. Have a trusty assistant hold it up to make sure it is actually sturdy. 


4. Now it's time to decorate! I used Star Dust Stickles to add glitter to the snowflake, then glued a silver sequin at each intersection. 


Of course, both the glitter and the sequins are difficult to see in my photos, but they do add a nice sparkle in real life. Hang your snowflake in the window and enjoy! 


 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Paint with Plaid Parties

I love the concept behind the paint parties that are so popular right now. What I don't love is the price. I'm a decent painter and could probably be teaching these types of classes (which is basically what I did in my days as a KidzArt instructor), so it's painful to pay $50 to have someone teach me how to paint something I could replicate on my own with supplies I already have on hand.

This is why I am so enamored with Plaid's new Paint with Plaid Parties. Each month, they host live painting instruction. You can paint along with the instructor live, or watch the recorded session later. When Jonna was at our house for her birthday celebration, we painted the Blooming Cactus,

Here are our finished paintings. That's mine on the left and Trevor's on the right:

  
  
 This is the instructor's sample:


I asked Steve to take our photo every ten minutes or so while we were painting. Here you can see that we've taped off the pots and are panting the background. We're watching the teacher on my iPad, which I'd propped up on a small box. 


Now we're working on the cactus.


And now we're (almost) done! Jonna and I were done. Trevor ended up painting in the white lines on his pot because he didn't like how stark they were. 


We had a lot of fun painting. I recommend checking out the Paint with Plaid Parties! You can buy all the supplies you need with this link, which helps support this website. Thanks, and have fun!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Homemade Notebooks and Other Gifts

This post contains affiliate links. 

Air Force 1 wasn't the only homemade Christmas gift this year. Trevor and I made customized notebooks for his teachers and quite a few friends and family members. They're easy and very inexpensive to make. This is a stack of the notebooks he made for his four teachers. 



---------

Homemade Notebooks

Materials:


Steps:

1. In PicMonkey, open Design and choose Blank Canvas. Click Print Size and choose 8.5" x 11". Click on Alignment and set 2 rows and 2 columns.

2. Add Text and type the recipient's name. Choose the color, font, and size you want. Duplicate the text block. Center each of the four names near the top of the four sections of the design. 

3. Click on Overlays and select an image. Either duplicate this image three times, or add three different images. For Trevor's PE teacher, he chose a soccer ball, an archery target, a basketball, and a tennis racket and ball. (There are thousands of overlay possibilities in PicMonkey and they add new ones all the time!) Arrange each image next to the name. Export the file. 


4. Print multiple copies of your design. We did ten copies, which made a 40-page notebook. Use the paper cutter to cut the paper into fourths. I highly recommend a heavy-duty paper cutter because you can do all ten sheets at once. Not only does that save time, but it means your pages are going to be more even that if you cut them all individually. 

5. Cut a 4.25" x 5.5" piece of chipboard. Place it behind the notebook pages. When everything is lined up perfectly, use the binder clips along the sides to hold the papers in place. 

6. Use the foam brush to paint a THIN layer of glue along the top edge of the notebook. Put two binder clips along the top, as close as you can get to the glue without touching it. Let the glue dry completely. 


7. Remove the top binder clips (leave the side ones in place) and add another THIN layer of glue. Replace the binder clips. Let the glue dry completely. Repeat this process two more times. When the final layer is dry, remove the binder clips and your notebook is done!

Trevor wrote a message on each teacher's notebook. Then he put them into cellophane bags, tied them closed with a ribbon, and tied on a candy cane. (The yellow ones are Lemonheads and the rainbow ones are Warheads.)


In addition to the notebooks, we gave both grandpas and an uncle homemade fleece blankets. This reversible blanket is for Steve's dad, who is a fan of both the Giants and the 49ers. 


I framed Steve's eclipse photos for him. I also framed a sheet of the eclipse stamps. When they're behind glass, you can't use your finger to activate them, but I suppose it's easy enough to pull the stamps out if he ever wants to. 


Another homemade gift deserves its own post, so I'll share that tomorrow!

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Twice-Annual Money Gift, Christmas 2017 Edition

My nephew, Timothy, always knows what he'll get from me for Christmas. Sort of. When he became a teenager, I started giving him money for every birthday and Christmas... but it's never just money. Sometimes it's a 'tree'. Sometimes it's 'knitting kit'. Sometimes it's a 'can of crushed pineapple.' It's fun.

This year's gift was big and flat.


Actually, the gift wasn't quite as big as the cardboard I used to protect it. I just thought it was funnier to wrap it so that it looked huge. 

Any guesses what's inside? I'll give you some time. 

Let's see... money... 

gift...

creative... 

flat... 

large... 

Ready? 

If you guessed "Air Force 1 made out of posterboard with the Money Presidents riding" then you are correct!


Here's a closeup of the passengers on this most unusual plane. Andrew Jackson looks like he has air sickness issues. 


OK, so technically Hamilton was never President, but it's not unreasonable that he'd be aboard Air Force 1. (Well, other than for the obvious reason that he died in 1804, which predates air travel by just under 100 years...) 

So how did I make this masterpiece? Well, first I found a photo of Air Force 1 online and printed it out. Then I did my best to draw it on posterboard. Turns out that's easier said than done! When I had something that resembled a 747, I cut it out, traced it on another piece of posterboard, then cut that out. Then I painted the plane to match the actual colors and used a flag sticker on the tail.

I traced around an empty roll of Scotch tape, which is the perfect size to make windows for Money Presidents.


Then I folded the bills and taped them so that the portraits were centered in the windows. Scotch tape comes off money very easily, so no worries. (You can even wrap a gift in money!)


When the money was secure, I put craft glue around the edge of one plane (nowhere near the money) and sandwiched the second on top.

Timothy has come to expect these gift shenanigans from me. He deemed this, "Clever." Total win, I'd say.


Another look:


And now I have 10 months before I have to come up with something REALLY creative for his 18th birthday...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Trevor from 1 to 10

Awhile back, I shared with you how I used PicMonkey to change a photo background and create an awesome collage of Trevor's birthday photos. As a Christmas gift for myself, I printed the collage as an 8x10, added stickers, and popped it in a frame. I absolutely love it.

Trevor from 1 to 10 (affiliate link)

Trevor says that I can keep making these every ten years. He's still at that adorable age where he thinks he'll live with us forever and that of course he'll cooperate for birthday portraits and hold up numbers for the rest of his life. I hope so, but I'll settle for cooperation through age 18! 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Craft Roundups

Here's the latest batch of craft roundups I've made as Editor of Fun Family Crafts.

First, unicorn crafts. I've made exactly one, the unicorn headband for the party at SNAP Conference. It's in the roundup. I don't usually work with super girly colors and fonts, so it was fun to go all out for this graphic.


Apparently I've never made an angel craft. But now I've made an angel craft roundup!


I learned a lot about Kwanzaa by putting together this roundup


We have a ton of reindeer crafts on the site (86, to be exact) and it was tough to pick ten. As usual, I tried to showcase the widest possible variety. I think the hair ribbon is my favorite. 


I don't craft on New Year's Eve (because I'm too busy doing crazy cooking challenges and playing board games). But a lot of people do New Year's Eve crafts and there are some really cute ideas out there. 


Trevor and I have made exactly one football craft, but it didn't make the roundup. I think I was hungry when I made the graphic, because half of the projects are edible!


I love homemade games of all kinds. Two of mine are in this roundup. 


Winter crafts are some of my favorites. One of mine is in this roundup. (You can see all of my winter crafts here!)


And finally, Groundhog Day crafts. None are mine. 


As always, I made the graphics with PicMonkey (affiliate link). 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Baltimore Oriole Craft (NOT "May Oriole Dreams Come True")

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting My Creative Life!

I'm getting a jump on my resolution to create a craft inspired by each of the 50 states. This is the oriole I've been wanting to make since returning home from Baltimore


If I were the type of person who likes puns (which I am NOT), I might add text to the craft using PicMonkey


Shockingly, nothing came up when I googled "May Oriole Dreams Come True." Too bad I'm not someone who likes puns, since I apparently invented one. I'm not really into speech bubbles either. But if I were into puns AND speech bubbles, this is how my oriole would look. 


You can make your own oriole, punful or punless, in just a few minutes. 


---------


Baltimore Oriole Craft



Materials: 


Steps: 


1. With the circle punch, cut out an orange circle and a black semicircle. (Just put the punch in halfway and you'll get a nice semicircle). With the scissors, cut a teardrop shape from the black paper. This will be the wing.

2. Use the q-tip to rub white ink onto the wing, starting about midway and ending toward the pointy end. 



3. Cut about ten leaves using the leaf punch.

4. With the scissors, cut a strip of brown the same height as the blue background paper. Cut a narrower, tapering piece of brown that will be the branch. Cut a few slivers of brown from the scraps to make twigs.

5. Use the grey cardstock to cut a small triangle. Snip a tiny sliver out of the point to suggest an upper and lower beak. 


6. Start by gluing the branch horizontally along the bottom third of the paper. Glue the tree trunk flush with the right side of the paper. Add twigs and leaves along the branch. 

7. Assemble the oriole by gluing the black semicircle to the orange circle. The wing goes in the center, pointing toward the lower right. Glue the beak and the eye in place. Finally, glue the oriole to the branch. 


8. Add text (or don't). It's up to you!

This oriole is actually my third craft inspired by the state of Maryland. You can see the others, and find links to all my favorite Annapolis and Baltimore destinations, on my Maryland Travel page. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Creative Plans for 2018

Happy New Year to all of you!



Every year I pick resolutions for myself that relate to my creative life, which means it's time to look back and see how I did.

In 2017, I resolved to:

  • Complete an average of one scrapbook layout a week.
Check! I made exactly 52 layouts. 
  • Migrate to Wordpress and make other changes to improve usability and attract more readers.
Looking at this now a year later, I see that I should have split this into two or more goals. I actually joined a "Bloggers on Blogger" group and made an informed decision not to migrate to Wordpress. I made huge changes to improve usability throughout the blog. I'm calling this goal a success.
  • Explore new ways to monetize the blog.
Check! I've added more affiliates and am adding banner ads at the end of some of my posts. I added a single ad to the right-hand column. Blog revenue is small but growing.
  • Attend a blogging conference.
Check! I went to SNAP Conference in April and came home with new friends, useful business connections, a lot more knowledge about blogging, and tons of inspiration. 
  • Complete, photograph and share my craft room reorganization.
Check! I love my newly-organized room!
  • Improve my photography skills through classes, challenges and practice.
Check! I took a photography class at SNAP and have been practicing with both my camera and my iPhone. I've progressed significantly with my photo editing skills.
  • Try at least one new-to-me craft.
Check! I took a crochet class at SNAP. It was fun, but I'm going to need a more instruction if I ever want to take up crochet!

---------

And here are my goals and priorities for 2018! Wish me luck!



Did you make any resolutions related to creativity or crafting? I'd love to hear them!