5/22/19

Prime Blogger Conference

I recently joined 24 other bloggers for the inaugural Prime Blogger Conference in Chicago, Illinois. It was fantastic and I'm so excited to tell you all about it! 


I flew into O'Hare on Wednesday, May 15. My wonderful friend, Betsy Burnett, went out of her way to drive me and Marie Segares to the host hotel, the Courtyard Marriott in Deerfield. (A word about the hotel: I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and was fully satisfied with the room, the cleanliness, and the amenities. However, checking in and out was a hassle. They insisted on creating separate accounts for my roommate and me rather than just letting us work it out between us, then managed to mangle the split that they had insisted on. I'm still dealing with the billing. Super annoying.) Anyway, when I got to the room, I found a nice surprise from my roommate.


Jessie Rayot is a crochet blogger who has christened me Honorary Crochet Blogger and welcomed me enthusiastically into the fold, even though I don't know how to crochet. Actually, Jessie taught me the basics using my new kit, so I actually do (sort of) know how to crochet now! Let's just say I need to practice a bit more before I can actually be anything other than Honorary. 

On Thursday, May 16, a shuttle picked us up at 7:30 am to go to Prime Publishing headquarters where the conference was held. We had a wonderful breakfast spread, sponsored by Tonic Studios


All of our classes took place in the conference room. That empty chair in the front is my spot. 


The opening keynote was by Addie Gundry. I recognized her from her appearances on Food Network Star and Cutthroat Kitchen. She is awesome. (And quite pregnant.) After her keynote, she did a Facebook Live, demonstrating oxidizing finishing kits. (Affiliate link here, and throughout the post.)


Our first session was "Content 101: How to Choose What Content to Create and Update." I'm confident in my more recent content, but this session was very valuable in deciding what to do with older content that needs updating. I put a lot of items on my to-do list during this session!

Lunch was at Portillo's. I highly recommend it. 

  

I was completely overwhelmed by the huge menu and confusing ordering windows, but once I got things figured out, I couldn't have been happier. The Chopped Salad was absolutely perfect. If I were local, I'd be eating this ALL THE TIME. 


We returned to Prime for our next session, "SEO Need to Know: An In-Depth Look at SEO Tools and Strategies." It was incredibly helpful. You should see my to-do list!


Each of our breaks was sponsored by a different company. Thursday afternoon's was sponsored by Leisure Arts, one of my favorite blog partners. 


Next, we had a hands-on workshop. We got together in small groups to work on specific issues we had. I worked with Ann Strecko Koeman and Betsy Burnett. We were the only three at the conference who use Blogger (most use Wordpress, but Squarespace and a few others were represented), so we were able to work together to figure out some Blogger-specific tweaks we each needed. 


This is my friend Janet Van Lone Trieschman pretending like she didn't notice my camera. 


There's Laura Kelly Walters! You may recognize her licensed art. It's adorable. 


The Prime staff worked their way around the room helping groups as needed. The very affordable conference fee would have been worth it simply for this one-on-one help. 


At 5:00, the shuttles took us back to the hotel. We each left with a swag bag stuffed full of goodies. Spot anything in there that interests you? (If you said no, I'm not sure why you read my blog, but thanks!)


Dinner was at Saranello's


The food was incredible. We started with antipasti and bread, both amazing. Then, chopped salad. My entree was eggplant parmesan and the table shared platters of gnocci with tomato vodka sauce. Dessert was apple crostada. Everything was SO good. Wine flowed generously throughout the evening... perhaps too generously, as my glass never dropped below 2/3 full, no matter how much I drank!  



We were up bright and early on Friday, May 17 to catch the shuttle to Prime. When we arrived, we found a delicious breakfast in the kitchen and painting supplies on our tables. 


The make-and-take was sponsored by DecoArt. We used stencils to paint designs on wood panels. This is Tamara Kelly from Moogly. (Tag line: Crochet. Knitting. World Domination.)


Here's mine, in progress. 


Our first seminar of the day was "Start Spreading the News: How to Get Eyes on Your Page." This was very valuable for me. I feel like my blog is chock-full of great content, but hardly anyone sees it. I'm going to be implementing some changes to see if I can do something about that. 


We went next door to the craft studio for a Facebook Live, where we learned how to use Therm O Web's fabulous foils and flocking.   


Then we got to play. 


Some people finished their projects quickly and started working on their blogs. Others went back to painting. From left: Shirley Mathistad (no blog yet, but hopefully coming soon!), Linda Dean, Michele Brosius, Beth Watson, and Ann Butler



  



Lunch was from Lou Malnati's. You may recall that I've had their deep-dish pizza before and I am a fan



So is Betsy.


After lunch, we had a link-building and newsletter workshop. After this valuable workshop, I have started the steps to debut my newsletter. (Coming soon!) The next session was "Get Paid: Additional Ways to Monetize and Promote Your Blog." Then, the closing keynote by Stuart Hochwert, President of Prime Publishing.   


Our closing party was sponsored by Oliso


And with that, PrimeCon officially ended. It went by in a flash. Fortunately, most of us weren't leaving until the next day, so the party continued. Literally! We stopped by Portillo's on the way back to the hotel to pick up three of their famous chocolate cakes. 


Good cake need not be justified, but in this case, we did actually have something specific to celebrate: Jessie's birthday! 


We stayed up late chatting, playing games, and hanging out. My fellow bloggers are really awesome people. 


If you're looking for some great blogs to read, here's a complete list of the attendees' blogs. Check them out! 


I flew home on Saturday, May 18 and was in bed by 7:00 pm. The trip was a whirlwind, in all the best ways. I learned so much, reconnected with old friends, and met new friends. I left with specific things I need to do to be a better blogger and I'm excited to put them in place. If you are a blogger, I highly recommend attending a future PrimeCon. You won't be disappointed! Thanks to everyone at Prime for all your hard work.

5/21/19

Christmas Card 2018

This is one of two layouts I made on National Scrapbook Day that weren't for challenges. It is as simple as scrapbook pages get. Christmas card + cream mat + black mat + black strip + journaling.

Christmas Card 2018 (affiliate link)

You'd think that with such a simple page and only a single element, I could have lined it up perfectly straight, but apparently not. I didn't notice it was off looking at it in person, but once it was digital and filling my screen, it became obvious. Fortunately, I have a foolproof method for lifting elements adhered with a tape runner. I won't guarantee it works with all brands, but I've yet to find one that doesn't. You'll need a piece of heavy cardstock (or thin chipboard) that is wider than the element you're trying to remove. Slide the cardstock under one bottom corner. 


Keeping the cardstock flat against the background paper, use two hands to wiggle it back and forth, applying slight pressure toward the top of the element. Keep going until it is 95% loosened, then remove the cardstock. At this point, you can remove the element by hand, or keep it partially tacked down and reposition it. No damage to the background paper!

Into the album!

5/20/19

Exploring Arizona

I made this layout for a travel challenge at Scrapbook and Cards Today. It's from 2017, when the Creativation Show moved to Phoenix from Anaheim. Steve and Trevor went along, and my aunt and uncle met us there. While Aunt Vickie and I attended the show, the guys filled their days with adventures.

Arizona 2017 (affiliate link)

This layout was difficult for me, but I couldn't figure out why for the longest time. I think it's because some of the photos have an orange cast that looked really weird with the warm colors I was trying to use. When I switched to the cool green and neutrals, I was happier with the results. I think I'm going to do some color correction and reprint the worst of the photos. I think I'll like the layout more if I do. 

5/17/19

Rose Diamond Art and a Queen Bee

Have you gotten into Diamond Art yet? I absolutely love it. I find it so relaxing. And despite my aging eyes, my awesome magnifying lamp means I can see actually see what I'm doing, day or night! I recently finished Leisure Arts' gorgeous Rose Diamond Art (affiliate link here and throughout the post). I cut away the background and temporarily set the rose down onto a piece of blue cardstock to get an idea of how it would look for a project I'm considering. 

I love the rose against the sky blue and will probably proceed with the project I have in mind. But in the meantime, the rose makes the perfect accessory for my latest kids' craft, a Queen Bee. 



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Queen Bee



Materials: 


Steps: 


Use the scissors to cut the following pieces, as shown in the picture:
  • large yellow body
  • small yellow head
  • pointy black stinger
  • thin pink wand
  • small silver star
  • silver crown
  • 2 wax paper wings



Set aside the pink and the black scraps. You'll need them later.

Use the Sharpie to draw vertical stripes on the body. Curve them as shown. 


Assemble the bee by gluing the head in front of the right side of the body. Glue the stinger behind the left side of the body. Glue one wing to the front of the body, pointing toward the back. The other wing goes behind the body, pointing toward the front. Attach the crown to the head and the star to the end of the wand. 

Draw eyes, eyelashes, and a smile on the bee's face. 

Cut six very skinny legs from the black cardstock scraps and glue them to the body. Three go in front (the bee's right side) and three go in back (the bee's left side). I positioned the right legs to match up with the black stripes. 

Cut 3 tiny diamonds from the pink cardstock. Cut one in half vertically, then add these 'jewels' to the crown. Cut an even tinier heart to make the queen's lips. 


Note that I temporarily added black paper behind the wings in order to get them to show in the photo. In real life, they are just wax paper and look good, but they simply wouldn't photograph or scan well. 

Another project for my Invertebrates page!

5/16/19

Spring Gardening

This page was inspired by another Scrapbook and Cards Today challenge. The assignment was to  create a layout where you create flowers, use floral paper, or scrap about your garden. 

Spring Garden 2018 (affiliate link)

This was a fun one. When I made the Deflecto make-and-take mini album about Trouble, I only used two of the Photo Play cardstock stickers from the 12x12 sheet. I challenged myself to use as many of the remaining stickers as I could on this layout (while still maintaining my style, of course). I used nine, plus the white border sticker. Mission accomplished!

5/15/19

NJHS

I made this layout about Trevor's induction into the National Junior Honor Society for a 3-hour timed challenge at Scrapbook.com. The challenge required us to use our favorite technique or product. 

NJHS (affiliate link)

Using our favorite stuff? That's not exactly a challenge! My favorite layouts are clean and simple, with a patterned paper background and a grid of photos matted with cardstock. Handwritten journaling is a must. 

I'm very happy with how this turned out, particularly the embellishments in the bottom left. The butterfly is hiding the giant head of the person who was sitting in front of me. There's still one more first-row head showing, but it doesn't bother me the way the other one did. Into the album!

5/14/19

Trevor and Devin

Ready to see what I made on National Scrapbook Day? I scrapped for 14 hours and made 11 layouts. This was the first:

Trevor & Devin (affiliate link)

It was inspired by a challenge at Scrapbook and Cards Today to use this sketch:


As you can see, I made a few minor changes, but the basic structure is the same. The journaling tells the story of Trevor and his good friend, Devin, opposites in so many ways. I'm very glad to have this page about their friendship in the album.

5/13/19

Money Gifts for Graduation

I'm a big fan of giving money as gifts. It's especially fun to disguise it as something else. Would you have guessed this guy is hiding cold, hard cash? 


Make your own graduate money holder! It's ridiculously easy to do and such a cute and thoughtful way to give money as a gift. Personalize yours by changing the skin tone, tassel color, and/or adding hair, glasses, or other distinguishing features. There are affiliate links in the supply list below. 


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Graduate Money Holder




Supplies:



Steps:


The toothpick dispenser has two tops; remove the top one and discard it. Then untwist the lower one and set it aside. 

Paint the dispenser your desired flesh tone using Folk Art Multi-Surface paint. It sticks beautifully to the plastic. I did two coats for good coverage. 


When that is dry, paint the bottom portion of the dispenser black. 


Cut a square of black cardstock to make the cap. Wrap the embroidery floss around one finger approximately ten times, then cut it. Slide it off your finger, keeping it coiled. Cut a 3" piece of embroidery floss and tie it securely around the bundle of floss. 


Snip the floss on the opposite side of where you put the knot. 


Smooth all the ends except one downward, then trim them so they are even. Poke a hole in the center of the cardstock. Use the brad to push the long strand of the tassel through the whole, then close the brad. 

Put Supertite glue on the underside of the cardstock, covering the brad and the tassel, then stick it firmly to the screw-top lid. 

Roll up the money and put in inside the dispenser. Bills and coins both fit nicely. 


Add the eyes, then draw on a nose, mouth, and eyebrows.


Any graduate would be happy to receive this fun gift. And the money is certainly a bonus! If you are interested in other ways to give money for graduations or other occasions, I have lots of ideas. Enjoy!