So much happened this year and yet I feel like I didn't do enough creatively. I was conscious of the fact that for most of 12 months I was holding back. Some of it was on purpose—certainly during the summer. I really wanted to be with the kids. I didn't want to be half there. When I look at the chronology of these photos I can see that it affected my work. But I'm perfectly fine with that.

What I'm not ok with is with the part of holding back that was born out of self-doubt. I second guessed myself a lot in 2010. The good thing about that is that I do have record of all my ideas that never surfaced publicly. I have a lot to start the year off with.

In light of all this, I think my new year will be all about just going for it. I will be fearless. This is something that I've been subconsciously thinking about in the last few weeks—Ali's One Little Word post cemented it for me. I'm really looking forward to what will be coming.

I want to sincerely thank all of you that have stopped by. I truly appreciate your encouraging words and generous support. As I write those last words they don't seem quite enough. You really don't know how your messages and comments truly fill me up. Thank you. Thank you. You're all awesome.

Be safe, be merry and I'll see you in 2011! Happy New Year!


the basics - tools for paper crafting

For this year's last basics post, I thought I'd give any of you, that may be considering some paper crafting as an endeavour for 2011, a friendly nudge.

The following is a list of what I consider of must haves for basic tools—the very basic. This doesn't mean it is necessarily right or complete for you. I don't think there can be a list that suits all tastes and budgets, so I'm just going with what I have and use on an almost daily basis. Feel free to edit or add as needed.

basic tools

1. Xacto X3601 N0. 1 Precision Knife With Safety Cap
2. Martha Stewart 12-Inch by 12-Inch Cutting Mat
3. Martha Stewart Bone Folder
4. Cricut 29-0012 Trimmer
5. Martha Stewart Scissors, All-Purpose
6. Staedtler(R) Mars(R) Plastic Erasers
7. Gaebel 12" stainless steel ruler

Craft knife — This is by far my most important tool of all. I have the very basic one—nothing fancy needed here. I also have a hefty supply of replacement blades on hand. Like I've said before somehow the cover always gets lost. Remember my storage solution (last photo here)?

Cutting mat — This is about as important as the craft knife itself. I used to prefer white cutting mats but since using the Martha Stewart mat I find it easier to work with the contrast of the color of the mat with the white paper I'm so fond of using.

Bone folder — I've always considered the final presentation of a piece to be very important and the bone folder is an excellent tool to achieve that. I have the Martha Stewart version and a plain common bone folder too. They both work fine.

Paper trimmer — In the past I would've never thought that I'd include this tool as an essential item but after using one I don't think I could ever work without one—and I just use a very basic one. I can't imagine what I'd feel about getting the really heavy duty types that are out there (drool!). This is the trimmer I received with the Cricut—the added option of scoring of this trimmer is also handy. I'd prefer something more neutral in color—white? (yes, I'm picky like that—but not picky enough to let this one go to waste). Like I said I'm just showing you what I have.

Scissors — I admit that scissors were not my first choice when I started my paper crafting experience. It took me a long time to finally use them on a more regular basis. I only use basic all-purpose scissors because I still use a craft knife for most of my paper cutting. It may be something small, but I'm particularly fond of using the protective cover that the Martha Stewart scissors have and unlike the craft knife cover this one hasn't gotten lost yet (crossing fingers it stays that way).

Pencils & erasers
— The eraser I use is very soft and doesn't leave any streaks. Sometimes I use the block eraser (great for carving small stamps too) but sometimes I like to use a stick eraser. I didn't picture pencils simply because I use very basic mechanical pencils. I like them because they are always sharp and I can make measurement marks more accurately.

Stainless steel ruler
— I have 6", 12" and 24" rulers and I just use them according to the size of paper that I'm working with. I don't like the rulers that have cork backs because I like to be able to slide my ruler across the paper freely.

Other tools — There are so many others that I use regularly but are not what I would classify as basics are: paper punches (simple to more elaborate), quilling tools, a corner punch, carving tools for block printing, brayer, baren and tweezers (excellent tiny tip on these). I may cover some of these in future posts.

This list is simply a guide.
You should use what you feel comfortable with (brand, price and/or style). For example, maybe you do prefer the stability that a ruler with cork offers. It's all a matter of working style, budget and willingness to have more items take up space in your craft area. I've toyed with the idea of getting other gadgets but a resolution for the new year is sticking with what I have and I really don't need any extras—so that's that.

I hope this helps and as always, if you have any questions just ask away in the comments section and I'll be happy to help however I can.

What are your must haves? Do you use anything that I didn't include here?

• • •

Disclosure — I've mentioned this previously, but since this post has so many links, I'd like to readdress the fact that I have an affiliate account with Amazon. I receive a modest (trust me, really modest) amount for every sale that is made through my links. I only recommend or link to products that I really do use or can recommend without reservations.

it was merry and bright

It was a wonderful Christmas weekend. We shared lots of yummy food and great times while in our jammies all day. We were very relaxed and took our time with everything we did. No rushing for a change.

I don't remember eating so much in previous years. My goodness! We ate Colombian tamales, (specially ordered, because we certainly don't know how to make them) and other goodies. We also made buñuelos. Yum!

The highlight of this year's Christmas has been all the Lego building going on around here—so fun! Grandparents, parents and kids all chipped in. My Mom and I had never built any of the sets together—so that was a first. Tomorrow the building continues. Any guesses as to when I'll have my kitchen island (where this Lego town now resides) back to normal?

lots of legos

I hope that those of you that celebrate Christmas had a great one too!

happy holidays!

I really didn't think I'd be away from the computer so much lately, but the unplanned has taken over. We've been enjoying, some simple times at home with the kids and celebrations with friends and family in preparation for Christmas—in the midst of the teasing Texas weather which is sending unwanted heat our way (in the 80s yesterday).

Making anything crafty has been on the back burner too. That is why this quick set up, which is what I really wanted our mantle to look like, never happened. The simple plan only involves paper, lights and a whole village with different types of buildings and trees. Maybe next year?

happy holidays!

Until my return next week, I want to thank you for sharing a bit of your day when you stop by and wish you a beautiful week.

With our warmest wishes, happy holidays to you from all of us to all of you!


creative paper cutting - book review

creative paper cutting

I'm always on the lookout for new paper craft books. I like to see what new ideas are out there. So, when I got Creative Paper Cutting (part of the Make Good Books series), for review, it was a pleasant surprise and exciting to dive into.

What I really like about the Make Good books is that they have beautiful photographs and very easy to follow instructions. There's also a light and airy feel about how everything is laid out in the spreads. Creative Paper Cutting is no different.

creative paper cutting 2

The books is divided into three main sections that describe basic techniques and tips, projects to make with the cutouts and a final section that features creations from six different designers.

One way in which I consider this book different from the rest of the collection is that the projects are very simple—the level of difficulty is not very high. I think this book would be a perfect fit for a crafter that is just starting out with paper and scissors.

creative paper cutting 3

The book provides many templates for accordion folds or doily type projects with illustrations of fruits, animals, dancers, and trees, among others. It also shows applications for these paper cutouts. There are many sweet ideas like the tents and bridges below. Can't you see these on a card, scrapbook layout, or wrapped around a gift box?

creative paper cutting 4

Coincidentally, after enjoying today's last day of school, my C and a friend used this book as inspiration to create a handful of paper snowflakes. They kept asking for more paper which I very happily provided and were very focused on their work.

Some days it's ok (and almost necessary) to create alone but sometimes there is nothing better than working on a fun craft with good company. I loved watching the girls having such a great time.

I hope you get the chance to make something of your own—and have a wonderful weekend!

all I want for christmas...

Is for things to stay the way they are now—well, sort of.
- I love that as a family we couldn't be any stronger. Love is all around.
- I'm grateful that we're all healthy (but things could be better—I could do without a few extra pounds and remembering to eat 3 square meals a day).
- I love our cozy house (even if we've sort of outgrown it).
- I love working from home (even though that means I stare at a mountain of laundry that I haven't taken care of).
- I love what I do (but there aren't enough hours in the day for my plans and ideas).

And I'd love for my stocking to be filled with more memories of:
- hugs, big and small
- giggles over the silliest of things
- what I feel when I hear "I missed you Mom" at 3pm after school
- catching little people, that are supposed to be in bed, reading
- crayons, markers and glitter being used
- Sunday afternoons with the family

That's all I want—more than enough.

house paper ornament

Having a digital cutting machine makes little creations like this appear in a matter or minutes. This design was something that I've been wanting to make this past week and just didn't have time to do it until today. It now hangs on our tree. Quick projects like these are so fun to work on, that if I had time, I could go on making new ones all day long.


I'll going to cut a few more and let the kids decorate them this afternoon—since we're already short on homework this week (love the break from that!).

Oh the paper... someone made a comment that my projects look so sturdy. For many projects (including my box calendar) I use paper that is thicker than scrapbooking card stock. In this case, I'm using Mr. French paper (100lb cover). I like that it has uneven specks in it and that it's a natural vs bright white.

lined holiday gift cards or tags for kids

Oh my! I never thought I'd pull a disappearing act for this long. I've been trying to get a proposal out the door, but nothing is worse than changing your mind about something at the last minute. I'm almost done and hopefully the effort will be worth it in the end.

In the meantime, upon several requests, I decided to once again pull out the holiday lined printables for kids. Because of my limited time, I've 'recycled' some of my own images (hope you don't mind). I'm offering two versions—one is just like the ones I've posted previously and the other is in black and white.


The black and white version has illustrations in outlines so that your little ones can color (while giving you an itty bitty slice of time to wrap gifts? read?—maybe?—or is that coming from a mom + wishful thinking?). I hope you like them and that the kids have fun working on them.

Downloads here:
- black and white
- color

Can you believe there are only 12 days until Christmas? I can't.