Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Operation Write Home: Helping Heros Keep in Touch

Justin joined the Navy right out high school.  I was only 15 years old then.  I still remember talking to him on the phone when he told me that he had enlisted.  I don't remember my reaction.  But I do remember the amazingly long letters and sweet cards we would exchange for years after that.  We wrote to each other when he was at boot camp, at nuke school, at the academy, at sea.  We wrote about everything under the sun - from what we ate for dinner to the floor plan of our dream house.  So from personal experience, being in love with a Navy sailor, I know and appreciate the importance of a handwritten letter or handmade card.

Operation Write Home is a non-profit organization that supports our country's armed forces by sending blank handmade greeting cards for them to write home on.  They have sent over 1,656,000 handmade greeting cards to deployed service members around the world!!  "There's no card store in Kabul or Baghdad.  But on the home front, we can help."

I am beyond thrilled that Xyron is partnering up with We R Memory Keepers to help collect another 50,000 cards for Operation Write Home.  This whole week, the Xyron Design Team will be sharing our cards over at Beth Kingston's amazing blog, Ain't She Crafty.  Here are the cards I created.

1.  Happier by the Minute {a greeting card}.  The layout for this card was actually inspired by this beautiful scrapbook layout by Amy Kingsford.  I love the look of strips of washi tape just placed down in a long column.  Instead of using washi tape, I made my own "tape" using paper strips from the WRMK Baby Mine Collection and my Xyron 1.5" Sticker Maker.

Supplies:  Cardstock (American Crafts); Patterned Paper (WRMK - Baby Mine); Adhesives (Xyron  1.5" Sticker Maker; Xyron Mega Runner); Buttons (K&Company; Oriental Trading Company); Embroidery Floss (WRMK); Stamps (Lawn Fawn); Punches/ Dies (Fiskars, Spellbinders); Other (Uni-ball Signo Broad White Gel Pen, Tim Holtz Distress Ink).

2.  Missing You {a greeting card}.  I sometimes think that simple is best, especially when a card sentiment itself is so loaded with meaning.  

Supplies:  Cardstock (Neenah Paper); Patterned Paper (WRMK - Baby Mine); Adhesives (Xyron Mega Runner, Gloss Accents); Punch (WRMK Corner Chomper, Martha Stewart Crafts); Letter Stickers (American Crafts); Other (Uni-ball Signo Broad White Gel Pen, Tim Holtz Distress Ink).

This is the back of the card stamped with the Operation Write Home stamp (which you can get for free from their website).

3.  Hometown Hero {a greeting card}.  This final card reflects how I imagine many deployed military members feel about the family and loved ones they've left at home.  (You can read an amazing article here written by a military dad.)  It reminds us that the sacrifices made by those in the military also create tremendous stress on their families at home.  I know that Justin's absence has definitely changed my life in more ways that I ever thought possible.  But I think that if Justin were to write me a handwritten letter today (like he did 15 year ago), instead of sending a card filled with red hearts, the message might be more something like this...

He'll probably keep the pink and red hearts for a card addressed to Charlotte.  :)

Supplies:  Cardstock (WRMK, Neenah Paper); Patterned Paper (WRMK - Red White & Blue); Stamps, Inks and Pens (Amuse Stamps, Impress, Copics, American Crafts); Embossing Folder by Paper Studio; Eyelets by WRMK; Twine by Twinery; Uni-ball Signo Broad White Gel Pen; Tim Holtz Distress Ink; Glossy Accents by Ranger.

If you are interested in helping these efforts, please visit WRMK's Operation Write Home page for information how to send in your cards and win $1000 in WRMK product!  

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Settling In: Charlotte's Big Girl Room

When we first moved back to San Diego a few weeks ago, our number one priority was getting Charlotte settled in.  That meant getting her "stuff" unpacked, buying a big girl bed, and doing everything we could to make her feel "at home" before Justin left and the onslaught of change commenced.  Gauging from these photos, I would say mission accomplished.

For me, that also meant trying to make her room feel as cozy as possible without spending much money (since we are in such temporary quarters...aka, my parent's house).  Thankfully, I had all of my crafting supplies on hand and was able to make some room decor to match her new bedding.

1.  Owl Room Sign {a home decor project}.  Charlotte's new bedding is just filled with the most adorable little owls.  I wanted to mimic those owls for her door sign.  I die cut an owl image on my Silhouette Cameo, adhered it to an embroidery hoop lined with some staples and DIY foam tape, then viola!  A seriously cute sign to hang on Charlotte's door.

Supplies:  Digital Files (Lori Whitlock); Patterned Paper (Momenta - Chloe's Garden); Cardstock (American Crafts, Colorbok, Core'dinations); Rhinestones (Momenta); Letter Sticker (American Crafts - Thickers); Ribbon (American Crafts); Adhesives (Xyron 5" Creative Station; Xyron 1.5" Sticker Maker; Xyron 2.5" Sticker Marker; Xyron Mega Runner); Tattered Angles Glimmer Mist; Canvas Fabric; Embroidery Hoop; Uni-ball Signo Broad White Gel Pen; Stickles by Ranger; Foam Sheets.

2.  Family Banner {a home decor project}.  I wanted to make a banner for Charlotte's room that we could hang up in her room year round. 

Each of the little animals on the banner represents a different member of our family.  Since Justin probably feels more comfortable on water than on land, he's the whale.

My love for Australia seemed to justify making me a koala.  And Charlotte, well, she's our little monkey.  Silly little girl.

And to make it extra special, I just embellished the letters with various stickers.

Supplies:  Momenta - Chloe's Garden (Patterned Paper, Stickers); Cardstock (Recollections); Ribbon (American Crafts); Cricut (Birthday Bash, Create-a-Critter); Uni-ball Signo Broad White Gel Pen; Tim Holtz Distress Ink; Adhesives (Xyron 5" Creative Station).

3.  Happiness Frame {a home decor project}.  I shared this project a few weeks ago but wanted to just post photos again since it was part of Charlotte's room decor project.

Supplies:  Patterned Paper (Momenta - Chloe's Garden); Cardstock (Colorbok); Stickers and Rhinestones (Momenta); Stamps (Lawn Fawn); Adhesives (Xyron Mega Runner; Xyron 1.5" Sticker Maker; Xyron 2.5" Sticker Maker); Digital Files (Silhouette Stuido Store - Retro Tree); Gloss Accents; White Acrylic Paint.

4.  Charlotte's Big Girl Bed {a digital scrapbook layout}.  Finally, here is a digital scrapbook layout I made documenting Charlotte's new room using some gorgeous new digital products from Lori Whitlock (available at  And conveniently enough, it matched that owl door sign perfectly!

Digital Supplies:  Lori Whitlock (Spring Celebration Collection); Splendid Fiins (Office Supplies).

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Birthday Celebration at

I have been so honored to be part of the Creative Team these past few months. Their products are just amazing featuring some of the top designers out there in the industry.  You can use their products to make digital layouts, awesome hybrid projects like cards, mini books, banners...the possibilities are seriously endless.

To help celebrate their FIFTH birthday, there are a couple of awesome events happening.

1.  Birthday Sale:  20% off of all classes currently open for registration, 20% off Project Life, 40% off of digi products. I am attaching a graphic that is specific to the sale.

2. Birthday Contest:  
In honor of their 5th birthday, wants to know what 5 things you love. Create a page that somehow incorporates the number 5 and upload it to the birthday contest gallery at and be entered for one of their great prizes.

Grand Prize: One winner will receive a Lifetime Subscription to all of Jessica's Classes! That is right, you will get access to all of Jessica's classes... forever!  (OMG - this is probably the best prize EVER!!)

First Prize: 5 Winners Will Win the Becky Higgins Digital Project Life Kit of Their Choice and an $80 gift card to Scrapping Simply

Second Prize: One winner will receive a 12 x 12 Digital Book Printed by Scrapping Simply, and a Samantha Walker Spellbinders Die Set

Third Prize: One winner will receive a 500 MB External Hard Drive

3. Birthday Bloghop:  Starts today.  The first stop is at Jessica's blog.  It includes 9 stops.  Each stop has a FREE Beach Party mini-kit created by that designer.   All downloads will be available until Sunday June 24th at midnight Eastern.

4. Speed Scraps:  5 speed scraps to celebrate the 5th birthday starts TODAY at 9am Eastern time. The speed scraps will be hosted at 9am/12pm/3pm/6pm/9pm Eastern. Each speed scrap will be hosted by a creative team member. Each participant will have 20 rewards points added to their account. If they participate in all 5, they will have 100 points by the end of the day which means they will be half way to a $10 gift certificate to the store. :)  

I hope that you can join in on the awesome celebration!!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Congratulations, Graduate!

A few weeks ago, my nephew graduated from sixth grade.  How did he grow up so quickly?!?  I picked up some balloons on my way to the celebration and Charlotte refused to give them up to the graduate.  Here she is pulling them around the playround.

That weekend, we had a graduation celebration of epic proportions for my nephew.  The food was overflowing and the guests had a great time just running around the park and celebrating.  With some help from Charlotte and my nephews, I made 150 cupcakes!!  Two flavors to choose from.  First up, Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting.

Then some Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting.

After Charlotte's first birthday party, I learned that some things are better done semi-homemade.  Check out this short cut gourmet cupcake recipe I used from Heather Bailey.  Seriously love it.  And since I always make homemade frosting, I never feel guilty about using a box of cake mix.  :)

I designed the treat bag favor tags for the kids' goodie bags.  Super simple but cute with that graduation owl in the center.

Supplies:  Cardstock (Recollections); Digital Files (Lettering Delights); Photoshop CS5; Silhouette Cameo.

And finally, to go along with our gift for the graduate, here is the card I made.  This is called a "hybrid" project which means using digital scrapbooking supplies (like the ones you can purchase from and using them on physical cards or layouts.  It is a great way to make stuff if you don't have the perfect paper on hand!

Supplies:  Dani by Design (School Spirit Add a Grad); Silhouette Cameo; Cardstock (American Crafts); Xyron Mega Runner.

As always, thanks for stopping by!  And all those celebrating graduations this year, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

To the best dad in the entire world...

Lots of love from Charlotte and Mommy. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Take Twelve Project - June 12

I really love looking through all of my Take Twelve layouts to see how much our lives have changed over the past few months.  I know that once 2012 comes to an end, our family will truly cherish these memories.

This June 12 marks the our first month back in San Diego after a wonderful "sabbatical" in Newport, Rhode Island.  Although Justin is gone on training (and eventually deployment immediately afterwards), having family and familiar surroundings around us has made the transition as smooth as it could possibly be.  

This layout reflects the new daily routine with just me and Charlotte.  None of it is particularly exciting but I think it's important to document our everyday moments - making the lunches, eating breakfast, going to work, playing after school, and the bedtime routine.  While I know that my past few blog posts have been reflective and often sad in their tone, I wanted to focus on celebrating the new chapter in our life with bright and fun colors.  The digital papers from Echo Park Sweet Day were perfect for this!

Digital Supplies:  Echo Park (Sweet Day Digital Paper and Elements); Splendid Fiins (Office Supplies); Carina Gardner (Photo Masks); Creativity by Crystal (Funky Stitching and Scallop Borders).

If you're participating in the Take 12 Challenge this month, make sure to upload your layout to your blog or any photo-sharing service (including the 2012 Take Twelve Flickr group), then link it up to the Ella Publishing blog by midnight EST Monday, June 18.  You could win a spot in Nic Howard's new workshop, Dimensional Details: the Expanded Version from our friends at Big Picture Classes, valued at $79!! 

 As always, thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting By

It has been over two weeks since Justin has left.  My nephew graduated from middle school.  I baked 150 cupcakes for his party.

Last week I started a new job the same day Charlotte started a new school.  Unopened mail started to pile up on my desk.  I fall asleep in Charlotte's bed every night.  I wake up at random hours of the night to craft.  I'm tired.  But I'm busy.  And busy helps me to get through the day.

My friend, Laura, (who is an amazing military mom/ wife with a husband on deployment and pregnant with her third) sent me a link this amazing article the other day.  It's written by a military dad about the families and loved ones that are left behind during deployment.  It hits the nail on the head on so many things - the loneliness, the worry, the stress, the pressure...

I was sitting in Starbucks with Charlotte this weekend and started crying.  Charlotte and I were sharing a pretzel and she set a piece aside on her napkin.  "This is for Daddy," she declared.  Every time we sit down to eat, she always saves a piece of something for Daddy.

These past few weeks have been filled with lots of reflection - about our family, our future, our relationship.  None of it is necessarily bad or regretful.  I'm just slowly coming to terms with our reality of being a military family.  Justin has been in the military for years - 15 years now.  So that isn't anything new for us.  It's Charlotte that makes it so hard.  She's a strong little person though.  I could learn a lot from her.  And together, we'll get through this.

1.  Our Hero {a digital scrapbook layout}.  I borrowed the journaling for this layout from a recent post about my military child.  I used some new patriotic inspired papers and bingo cards from Jenni Bowlin Studio available over at

Digital Supplies:  Jenni Bowlin Studios (Trendy Collection, Patriotic Bingo Cards); Design by Dani (Boy Crazy).

2.  Where is my Daddy {a lift-the-flap book/ card}.  Since Justin left, Charlotte insists that we read Daddy and Me by Karen Katz every night.  It's a lift-the-flap book about a father and daughter building a doghouse together.  "Charlotte's screwdriver," she states while pointing to the pink screwdriver.  "Daddy and Charlotte make it," she declares while pointing to the little doghouse. Inspired by this sweet book, I decided to make a little life the flap book/ card for Justin's father's day card.

I didn't include photos of each page, but it reads something like this...

Where is daddy's car?  In the garage.

Where are daddy's tools?

In the toolbox.

Where is Daddy?  Daddy, where are you? 
Daddy is on the ship to keep Charlotte and Mommy safe.

But remember, even when Daddy is gone for a long time, where is Daddy always?

In Charlotte's BIG pink heart!

Supplies:  Echo Park Digital Products (Family Man); Xyron 1.5" Sticker Maker, Xyron Mega Runner; Xyron 2.5" Sticker Maker; Kraft Cardstock (Recollections).  

If you want more Father's Day craft ideas, make sure to check out the Xyron Design Team Facebook Album.  And for those who have been following me and the Ella Publishing Team on our Take 12 Challenge, I hope that you have your cameras ready.  It's June 12th!!!!

As always, thanks so much for stopping by (and listening...)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Project Xyron: Altered Photo Frame

I'm so excited to share my first ever Xyron Design Team project.  Included in our design team welcome boxes (which were jam packed with Xyron and partner products by the way), were old projects from previous DT members.  Our task was to take inspiration from these old projects to create something "new" and "inspired."  

My "old" project was this altered mirror covered in beautiful blue, orange and pink papers.

Since we recently moved and Charlotte's temporary room was lacking some decor, I thought it was the perfect excuse to make her an altered photo frame.  Plus, with Justin now gone, I thought Charlotte could use some photos of her dad in the room.  I drew inspiration from the colors in the old altered mirror - the blues, oranges and pinks.  Momenta has a new paper collection called Chloe's Garden that fit the bill perfectly.  So this is what I made...

The retro tree with the circles is actually imagery that I wanted to mimic from Charlotte's new bedding.  The Xyron products are PERFECT for assembling die cut pieces like this, especially when you know they will be handled a lot.  And that cute little squirrel on the banner is from a Lawn Fawn set (Critters in the Burbs) and adhered using the Xyron 1.5" Sticker Maker then covered with glossy accents.

Here are some closeups of the banner and word sticker embellishments.

Make sure to head over to Xyron's blog to check out their blog post about this altered photo frame.  As always, thanks for stopping by! 
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