Saturday, February 28, 2015

Simple Stories Planner: Financial Planning

I'm still using my Simple Stories Life Documented Planner, and still loving it! Today, I thought I'd highlight the financial section of my planner.

I am the Chief Purchasing Officer of our family. My husband is the Chief Financial Officer. And in the corporate structure of our family unit, the CPO has to report to the CFO every month by submitting an expense report with full accountability and receipts provided. Our monthly meetings go something like this:

CFO: "Who is Ellen Hutson, and why do we keep giving her our money?"

CPO: "Never mind. Here's the receipt."

CFO: "I thought A Cherry On Top was just for ice cream sundaes."

CPO: "Never mind. Here's a receipt for that, too."

CFO: "If we keep giving Lawn Fawn our money, then why am I still cutting the grass?"

CPO: "Never mind. Here's a receipt for that, too."

Good times.

One really smart thing I did when ordering my planner supplies (thank you, A Cherry On Top!) was to order a package of Just The Basics SNAP pages. I use these to record my purchases.

The basic white pages have lots of lines and columns and ledgers, perfect for book keeping purposes!

I have this section marked with one of the book marks. And on the book markers, I have placed a few sticky note pads for handy reminders. The pocket dividers are also handy for storing all of my receipts. Functional, pretty, neat. Everything in one place!

I like to look back on my month and see how well I stuck to budget, or where I happened to blow it. I can see "Not too bad on grocery spending, but too many meals at restaurants." Or "Next month, fewer trips to Target!"

I would like to think that my new system is making a good impression on the Chief Financial Officer. But you know CFOs. So hard to please!

The CPO is pleased! One more step to an organized home!

Blessings on your weekend, cafe friends!

Friday, February 27, 2015

F4A262: Get Krafty!

Today's Free For All Challenge at Splitcoast Stampers: Get Krafty!

Oh how I love kraft card stock. And when paired with black? Simple perfection! I could have colored in these images, but when they look this good? Why mess with it!

{Today's Brew: Fancy Folk Art (Papertrey Ink), card stock (PTI), Versafine Onyx ink}

Blessings on your Friday, cafe friends!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Papertrey Ink's M.I.M. 202: Anchoring With Border Dies

This week's challenge at the Papertrey Ink blog: Anchoring with border dies. I love this heart die from PTI, and use it often. It's also very cute when used with felt. You can easily adhere these hearts to all sorts of projects.

I've been using this watercolor paper from Strathmore recently. It takes ink well, is a breeze to work with, and has a wonderful texture and color. I decided to try stamping directly onto the paper, and then going back with a wet brush to blend the ink.

Wow! The colors really popped! I wasn't too sure how the PTI inks would do on the watercolor paper, but they looked fantastic when blended. As I've found with other painting projects, I like to get a little blurry and outside of the lines in a perfectly imperfect sort of way.

{Today's Brew: Fancy Folk Art stamp set (PTI), Stiches and Swirls stamp sets (PTI), watercolor paper, PTI inks and card stock, PTI heart border die}

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My First Foray Into Collage Art

I've been wanting to try collage art for a LONG time. But how? And where to start?

Well, like most things in life, it begins with a blank canvas.

And then staring at the blank canvas for extended periods of time until inspiration strikes.

And then getting brave and actually applying paint to canvas.

And then standing back to see what happens.

Is it any surprise that the first thing I chose to paint was a house? I stitch houses, I sew houses, I scan Zillow all day looking at houses. There should be a twelve step program for people like me. House addicts.

I began with a swirly blue sky, using acrylic paints, which are very forgiving. I wanted the sky to have movement, thus the swirls.

Then I moved on to the grass, using several colors in short brush strokes.

The house and willow trees came next.

And then I set it aside for a month or so. And when I came back to it, I knew that it needed paper collage to really give it the folk art feel I was after. I used papers (Simple Stories), die cuts, and occasionally just a pencil and my paper snips to cut out shapes. I glued them in place using Mono Multi.

And then I stood back and decided that it needed the Word. Because when I create something, and I want it to have meaning, I look for the words that mean the most to me. Last year, "Be joyful, pray continually, give thanks" was my scripture verse for the year. I used alphabet stickers from Simple Stories, and went about spelling the words in a slightly crooked, not so perfect fashion.

And then I put the painting aside for a few more months.

Finally, I decided that what it really needed was some touch up using a black Distress marker, and then a white chalk marker.

Is it done? Maybe! For now, I'm really enjoying the finished (?) product.

And what did I learn about painting and collage?

I learned how to be brave. And I learned that I am a very slow painter. But I also learned that the more imperfect I was, the more freeing the process became, and the happier I was with the end result.

Be brave, my cafe friends!

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Miss You, Spring!

I miss you when the cold winds blow
I miss you under a foot of snow
I miss you when I bundle up
Coffee? Yes, another cup!
I miss you more than anything
I miss you, I miss you, I miss you Spring!

Today's clean and simple challenge: Think Spring!

That's no challenge...spring is all I think about these days!

I pulled out this sweet stamp set from Lawn Fawn and decided to give watercoloring a try.

I am a slow convert to the Tim Holtz Distress fan club. I have to say, his inks and markers do a wonderful job of adding a painterly quality. I often use the markers to watercolor with, simply by scribbling them onto a clear acrylic block and using a watercolor brush to pick up the ink.

Soft and sweet, just like spring.

{Today's Brew: Hell Baby stamp set (Lawn Fawn), So Much to Say stamp set (Lawn Fawn), Distress Markers, watercolor paper, Lawn Fawn paper, PTI card stock}

Happy Monday, cafe friends!

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Good Weekend For A Good Book

Temperatures this morning were hovering ten degrees below zero. Brrr! No school today! It's been a morning of homemade pumpkin spice pancakes, to be followed up with movies and Monopoly. Cabin Fever at its finest!

It will be a good weekend for a good book! I just finished this one last night, and it was a real treat to read. The good news is that you can purchase the ebook today for .99 cents! Wow! That's almost as cheap as paying the overdue library fine because it's too cold to venture out this winter and you just plain forgot. (Ask me how I know. LOL)

Here's a link to the steal of a deal at Barnes and Noble!

Grab a book, a blanket, a warm latte, and get cozy in your favorite chair. Cabin fever beckons.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

For He Has Done Great Things For Me

Last December, during the season of Advent, I was going through the motions of holiday preparation...working, shopping, baking. And it was all good. But in the back of my mind, during those quiet moments when I had time to think, my mind was fretting over the question "Will we have to move next year?"

Home relocation takes so much time and energy, and truthfully, I did not know if I had either in abundance to give to such an endeavor. I was trying hard to quiet my heart and meditate on the coming of a savior, but it was really difficult to do when I was mentally purging closets and analyzing the housing market on Zillow.

In the midst of the chaos, the Holy Spirit gave me the Word, and it would not loosen its grip on me.

"Go and write this down RIGHT NOW!" the Holy Spirit prodded. And I did. I dropped the vacuum (I kid you not), went into the kitchen, and scribbled the words on the first note pad I could find.

"My soul magnifies the Lord, for He has done great things for me!"

And then I looked down at what I wrote. Oh! Mary's Magnificat, her statement of faith in God's plan.

I kept these words tucked into my heart during the rest of the advent season.

And then, on Christmas Eve, God did one of those awesome things that only God can do.

Our family arrived at church, ready for the Christmas Eve candlelight service. And the first song we sang with the Praise team and the rest of the congregation?

My Soul Magnifies The Lord by Chris Tomlin.

"My soul, my soul magnifies the Lord
  My soul, magnifies the Lord
  For He has done great things for me
  Great things for me!"

And yes, I cried, right there in the school gym/worship service. If Mary could submit so fully to God's plan, then I knew that I could, too. He HAS done great things for me, and I can remain confident that He will continue to do them for me in the future, no matter where I live. And when these great things happen, and I know they will, my response will be to praise God. To magnify Him.

Luke 1:46, 49
What an awesome word to meditate on for 2015.

Do you have a word for 2015?

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Gift For Baby

One of the sweet bus stop Moms down the street had a baby the week of Christmas. And because it has looked like this just about every day since then...

... I haven't made it down to meet the new baby girl.

I found these sweet ginormous hair bows, and knew I had to buy them for her!

And of course, frilly girly hair bows deserve frilly girly cards to go with them!

{Today's Brew: Nursery Deco (Mama Elephant stamps), Lawn Fawn papers, PTI card stock, amuse ribbon}

We're experiencing some frigid arctic air this weekend. Brrrr! Order a grande and stay warm, cafe friends!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Planners A-Plenty! My Personal Planner Modified

What's better than ONE awesome planner? TWO awesome planners, of course!

I LOVE my Simple Stories Life Documented planner system. I currently use it as my home organization desk reference.  But I've really grown to love the size of personal planners for their portability. I've been using a vinyl Punctuate planner from Barnes and Noble for the past year. And it works. But it wasn't all that pretty.

When I saw that Webster's Pages had created the Color Crush planners in the personal size, I knew I had to have one. Unfortunately, the planners with kits were sold out and not expected to be back in stock until March.

Hmm. I wondered. Could I purchase just the planner and use my existing calendar inserts from Punctuate? Let's take a look and find out!

I ordered the Caramel color planner from A Cherry On Top (a great company based out of Saginaw, Michigan! GO BLUE!). At $24.95, this planner is such a bargain! When you compare it to the price of a Filofax, Kikki K, or Kate Spade planner, it's a steal. It arrived in this lovely box with vellum overlay. Hello, gorgeous!

The color will go so well with Pumpkin Spice! That's my Subaru Crosstrek's name, by the way. lol

I removed the inserts from my vinyl Punctuate planner, and voila! They fit inside perfectly!

The planner comes with this sweet polka page marker, too.

And because I am a matchy-matchy kind of gal, I used all of my stickers and washi from Simple Stories to jazz up my dividers and pages. The colors make me SO happy!

On the left, I am storing the washi tapes and page clips.

On the right, I used some Simple Stories stickers from Homespun collection to add the pretty flowers. I also put a few sticky notes from a list pad I bought at the Target dollar spot.

As you can see, the Punctuate calendar pages work great! I even love the turquoise color of the print with the orangey-caramel of the planner. I added some washi and stickers to the week. Now, when I look at the days ahead, they make me happy. It's amazing how a little color and some flowers can brighten any day!

I am using the vinyl envelope pouch from Punctuate to store some of my appointment stickers. Notice there's even a pen loop for my trusted Sharpie!

As you can see, I have dividers from Punctuate for Planner, Events, Numbers and Notes. Perfect!

And perfectly coordinated, too!

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How NOT To Make Class Valentines

This a tutorial on how NOT to make class valentines. Pay attention. There's a quiz at the end.

Step One: Do NOT attempt to make all twenty-six valentines the night before the party! This way lies madness. Instead, give yourself at least a month, making only one or two cards per day.

Step Two: Do NOT make each card the same. Instead, make each card unique with different stamp sets and embellishments to show that you crafted that particular card especially for that individual.

Step Three: Do NOT make your child sign all of their cards the night before, lest their handwriting quickly deteriorates. Instead, have them sign two or three a day over a month's time, including a few special words for that classmate. Make it personal. Heartfelt. Convey genuine emotion.

Step Four: Do NOT hand out cards without envelopes...or without candy...or without Japanese erasers and matching pencils. At the very least, give them a sticker or coordinating tattoo. Just a card? That is so gauche.

Okay! Time for the quiz. This is a true-false quiz. Ready?

True of False:

 I followed all of these steps when making class valentines this year. T/F (circle one)

 I followed one of these steps when making class valentines this year. T/F (circle one)

  I followed none of these steps when making class valentines this year.T/F (circle one)

Class dismissed!

{Today's Brew: Penguin stamps (Mama Elephant), sentiment (Lawn Fawn), amuse card stock, Avery sticker labels, Stickles, Lawn Fawn snowflake sequins}

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Where Love Goes, A.K.A. The Big Announcement

" For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God."

This verse from the first chapter of Ruth has always seemed like an odd pick for a wedding. After all, it was taken from something a daughter-in-law said to her grieving mother-in-law. Not the stuff of true love and fairy tales. Still, in many ways, it applies to a marriage as well.

We really should have picked this one for our wedding verse twenty-five years ago.

Yep. You guessed it. We are moving...again.

Our fourth corporate relocation in ten years.

Late last fall, my husband was approached with a job opening in the company. A big, regional position that in all ways seemed like the perfect fit for him. All ways, except of course, that it meant we would have to move. We prayed, and pondered, and prayed some more. Finally, last month, my husband accepted the offer.

In four months, we will be leaving our Pittsburgh home and moving to Chicago.

Here we go again! Selling, home staging, house hunting, buying. New schools, new church, new town, new everything.

We have some mixed emotions. We've come to love Pittsburgh in our short time here. But we've also spent a lot of time in Chicago, and I think we could love it there, too.

Where is home? My head spins with the thought. I do know this: home is where my husband is. Home is where all of my little birds come to nest. Home, it seems, is not a place with an address. It is a place within our hearts.

My planners will be REALLY important in the days and weeks ahead!

This morning, I looked at my Simple Stories planner and saw this sketch from last week's challenge at Splitcoast Stampers. Perfect! I used my new Simple Stories papers and stickers to make a fast and fun card.

{Today's Brew: Simple Stories Hugs and Kisses papers and stickers, PTI card stock, heart die}

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Bible Journaling: Illustrating Faith

Last month, a good friend introduced me to bible journaling as a way to incorporate bible study and faith with art journaling. After losing myself for HOURS on the internet, soaking up all of the beauty on Pinterest and blogs, I knew that this was something I wanted to try. I figure if it involves the Word and crafting, it can't go wrong!

So I started with the Word. I ordered a new Bible! This is the English Standard Version Single Column Journaling Bible from Crossway. It almost has the look of a Moleskine, with its smooth black matte cover and elastic band. The pages are a lovely cream, with two inch lined margins for notes, doodles, thoughts, etc. I confess, I love the Word so much that I just held this book in my hand for the longest time, touching the smooth cover and pages in reverent awe.

I gathered a few supplies and some inspiring books to help me on the journey.

Yesterday, our church kicked off 40 Days in the Word. Pastor's sermon on the first chapter of James was the perfect way to put an endcap to my sermon note journal. TWO years of sermon notes, spanning our time in Indiana to here in Pittsburgh, with many churches in between.

I turned to James, chapter one, and read through the ESV passage. I thought about it, I prayed about it, and then I grabbed a sketch pad and doodled about it.

I wanted to focus on the fact that the Word is living and active and growing in my life. The sermon outline highlighted five ways that I can build my life on the Word. When I considered that they all involved parts of my body, I decided to sketch this garden girl to help me remember to grow in the Word.

I am so excited to add this element to my bible studies! If you'd like to learn more about bible journaling, I suggest you check out Shanna Noel and the blog Illustrated Faith (link at right). SO many wonderful artists sharing their concepts in the Word!

Tell me, do you write and/or doodle in your bible?