Friday, July 27, 2012

SUPERHERO, aka Superman . . .NOT

Oh my gosh do I have a lot of catching up to do! The Sonoma special workshop really put me behind. I haven't posted these layouts. This is with our Superhero Paper. The first page shows our son in his little halloween costumes. The fuzzy ones on the lower left page are of him in his Superman costume. I actually made him a Superman costume, complete with a Satin cape. I was so suprised that it turned out great! My title is "Superman NOT" because the next page shows him from a week when we got his Jr High photos (Thank God!), cause I got a call right after I got at work to come pick him up--he had gotten hurt at school. He needed emergency plastic surgery to put his nose back in place after playing around before school and we had to go get one of these photos for the surgeon to take into the operating room with her to try and put his nose back together to look like him!

This next layout is when is younger and wanted to play soccer. Oh my gosh did we have fun and laugh. He was so excited by his little costume. He was truly ADHD. (Meds worked great but he wouldn't take them because the kids teased him. They were the only time he maintained decent grades and learned well in school without disrupting everyone.)  But below, was his first soccer match. It was all I could do to get his photo. He was playing frisbee beforehand. When we got to the field, they put him as a goalee I think it was. That didn't work. He got tired and sat down to look for 4-leaf clovers for awhile. Then when the ball came near, he started running and playing with the other team. We didn't care and were just happy to see him having fun. In one shot you see another playing looking at him when he is sneaking a wave to us. The other team wasn't happy at all. Soccer didn't last--much too serious and competitive and not at all about fun at such a young age. We didn't mind him giving that up at all!

Note: The directions said to sponge everything in black. Black is such a dynamic color, that I learned in art classes, a little goes a long way and it can be overpowering. I sponged in Outdoor Denim--it is much more subtle and lets my faded photos be more dominant which is my ultimate goal.

Products Used
G1037 Superhero Workshop On The Go Includes
      X7152B Superhero Paper Pack
      Exclusive Superhero Stamp Set
      Z1688 Comic Badge Buttons
      Z1680 Dimmensional Elements Stars
      Instructional Brochure
Z1488 Honey Mini-Medley Accents Collections (for Ribbon)
E1022 Hero Alphabet My Acrylix Stamp Set
S1204 April Stamp of the Month, You Are My Acrylix Stamp Set
X5903 Cardstock Shade Packs Light Blue
Z2334 Moonstruck Exclusive Inks Marker
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2134 Moonstruck, Z2150 Sunflower, Z2162 Honey, Z2194 Sky,
      Z2116 Cranberry, Z2140 Outdoor Denim,  
Z1151 3-D Foam Tape
Z534 Micro-Tip Scissors
Z1471 Ruler

Other Products used--I have Arrow brads pointing to our son in the soccer photos.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy Anniversary and Is There Such A Thing As Too Many Photos . . .YES!!!

I have so many photos--2 huge boxes printed, that I decided I'm going to try doing Studio J for new ones and traditional scrapbooking for my heritage or printed photos. Well one day when I wokeup with every part of my body hurting (thank you Mr. Fibromonster!), I opened the computer and went to Studio J. I created 12 pages in one afternoon, in my comfy recliner, under a blanket. No moving around, getting up and down to get different things. It was all in one space! Plus I have access to bunches of papers, embellishments, layouts, "inks," stickease, ribbons, and more--FOR FREE!!!

That's right. You can go to My Website and click the links until it takes you to Studio J. You will need to create a password and log in. Once you upload your photos, you have 90 days to play. During that 90 days, you will need to buy one 2-page layout (JUST $6.50 Starting 8/1!) and your 90-day period will start all over again. Plus you'll get a free JPG so you can post your own layouts on your blog or facebook to share with family and friends. There is no software to purchase or memberships to buy. Faster, Simpler, and MUCH EASIER, than the others and I have tried them. You also have access to old papers and layouts.

This first layout was made with Elegant Bouquet. I cannot remember how many paper packs of this one I bought. It was around a few years ago and we were all heart-broken when it was retired.I used it below for photos of when our granddaughter presented us with a beautiful collage she made for us of pictures throughout out 39-years together. On the left page, there is a picture above my husband's head. I wanted to crop it out, but didn't feel like learning how (yes, it does have photo cropping capabilities), so I just built a bouquet of roses with digital My Stickease--just like our paper, cardstock stickers except I don't run out.


My next layout is with a current and (HURRAH!!!) a future paper pack . . . Victory. This one was my favorite out of the spring/summer book. It is so versatile. You will see from other layouts coming soon that Victory is fantastic for boys, military, camping, or just change a few sheets of paper and you can make it work for girls and as I did--our anniversary. My friend Candice was over and she was going to treat us to dinner. I chose this pack because I like to be different. I also thought it went great with my husband's shirt, my granddaughter's hair, and my jacket. But what to do about our sweaters??? I changed the buttons. When you go to change the buttons, you are given suggested colors. Well, the color I selected isn't one of their choices so they I went outside the box and opted for one that matched the pink of our sweaters almost perfectly.

Our marriage has truly been an "everyday adventure" so the Stickease went perfect with the situation. For journaling, I learned that you have to have a journaling box for each spot you want to "write" on. So in the top right corner, you see I created a little tiny journaling box or journaling spot. In future layouts, you will notice that I got smarter and just left the spot empty and filled in my jounaling later with a marker or pen of my chosing.  


Studio J was perfect for this layout. I had 3 photos and wanted to use this Cruisin' paper so bad because as you can see--it is PERFECT. However, I didn't want to buy an entire paperpack and Stickease/stamps or a Workshop On The Go for just 3 photos. Plus, I don't print photos in oddball sizes like the one on the left page. I think it really is a magical program. I drag and drop my photos and it enlarges them or shrinks them to the perfect size! No cropping for me. Cruisn' has been retired, but not on Studio J.


One last Studio J layout to share: Roxie. The perfect layout for teens. But I would have rather not shared it with our poor granddaughter hooked up to IV's. However, The Snuggie was a gift to me from my dear friend/like-a-sister Susan--she's up on the right of my blog front page. It is a hug from her when I am hurting and need warmth. BUT Sam couldn't resist those animal stripes and snagged it! When she is in this sort of shape, I have a feeling Susan would rather it be wrapping her up!

 Roxie is such great paper. I really hate to see it go because animal print is still, look at the plaids and flourishes; Just great. I actually covered the switch plates in Sam's room with Roxie. On this layout, I built some layered Stickease. You cannot tell that they weren't "officially" adjoined." I also left space on the tab on the right page to hand journal. If you want actual thickness to your pages, when you get them home, add some bling, real brads, or real buttons and you're good to go.


Products Used: Studio J and a journaling pen--how simple is that?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Crop Chocolate's July Challenge

I LOVED doing this Crop Chocolate Challenge!

We had to base a layout on a favored book. Because of these photos, my layout is based on the Bible!

When these photos were taken, there were more things going wrong than right in our life. The only place where we felt peace and comfort was when we went to church. I joked with my friends that I was going to pitch a tent in the church parking lot if we didn't get a break soon so when a new believers class opened up, I just signed us up. It was a review for me, but we met a wonderful couple in the leaders, who had experienced many of the same difficulties we were facing. Our souls were eased, we spent quality time making new friends, and had a good time ourselves.

The bottom line is our marriage has survived 39 + years with God, faith, and love; God's word never fails to keep us going through the bad times!

 Crop Chocolate Products Used
Cardstock: Fancy Pants Lilac House and My Family
      Making Memories Vintage Findings

Embellishments: Making Memories Je t' Adore Embellishment Box
      Making Memories Springtime Shapes Butterfly Brad (In the center of the flower on my photo.)
Making Memories Slice, portable die cutter

Non Crop Chocolate products
Faith Design Card for Slice
The layout pattern is from

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pemberley Bonus Layout--I Like This One Better!

The Workshps On The Go are so great. You get professional looking layouts and don't have to do the hard work of figuring out what to do--it's all been done for you, complete with dimensions!  Pemberly was one of my favorites from the Spring Summer book and I'm thrilled to Say it IS in the Autumn Winter book.

This is of my dad's cousins. They were such super-nice people. If you look close, the little kid in the photos on the right page--that's me.


G1033 Pemberley Workshop On The Go Kit Includes the following:
      X7148B Peberley Paper Pack
      Pemberley Stamp Set--exclusive for this set
      Z1694 Bouquet Assortment
      Z1707 Bitty Opaques Pearl Adhesive Gems
      Instructional Brochure T
Z1686 Cricut Art Philosophy Collection
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2118 Desert Sand, Z2140 Outdoor Denim, Z2162 Honey
Exclusive Inks Marker: Z2421 Outdoor Denim
Z1327 Sparkles--Blue & Green Assortment
Z1151 3-D Foam Tape
Z534 Micro-Tip Scissors
C697 Sponge

Other products used: Thickers (for the letters)
I have to say . . . Thickers are beautiful; they have some fantastic colors. BUT that is where my affection stops for them. I HATE them!!! The adhesive doesn't stick to them I pulled out my trustee Xyron, it didn't stick to them. You basically have to glue each and every letter down to get them to stick. Life it MUCH to short. If I'm doing that, I will be cutting my own letters, thank you very much. I will be donating my Thickers to a preschool.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Pemberly Workshop On The Go, Mary Style!

When I saw Pemberly, I loved it and knew I wanted to use it for special photos. What could be more special than for my dear sister Patty. Patty was always the one I wanted when I got hurt. I wanted Patty to fix me. Patty bought me my first doxie. A red Susie dog for my 2nd birthday. I grew up with Susie. Patty taught me lots of things thoughout my life. For my high school graduation, she got me a Thesaurus that I still have and cherish! I love Patty and I hope she sees that in this layout.

The original layout has a solid scalloped Outdoor Denim Circle, 2 small photos, and one large on the left page, and two wallet-sized photos on the right page. The ladies with which I scrap and I prefer better use of our pages so I promised I'd change that. Here is my version.

I left all the same pieces as Close To My Heart suggesed except for the large round Outdoor Denim Piece. I changed that to take advantage of the Cricut Art Philosophy Cartridge. Instead of leaving it solid, I cut it using the Decorative Layer on Page 31 (Top right corner of your Art Philosophy Book), using the same dimensions as your WOTG suggests.

I also double-sponged the tag, letters, and Desert Sand circles first with Honey, and then with Desert Sand--try this it really gives more dimension. I sponged all Blue circles with Outdoor Denim, and sponged the pages with Desert Sand.

I also created an arc with my photos instead of just two wallets on the far right and the 3 on the left.

The other change was I added 3 blue Sparkles to the first "s" of Sister. Patty deserves a little sparkle!

Oh and one other tip, to affix your decorative layer to your page, use spray adhesive--can get it at your local craft store. It is much easier than trying to glue it and hoping the glue stays wet!

Products Used

G1033 Pemberley Workshop On The Go Kit Includes the following:
     X7148B Peberley Paper Pack
     Pemberley Stamp Set--exclusive for this set
     Z1694 Bouquet Assortment
     Z1707 Bitty Opaques Pearl Adhesive Gems
     Instructional Brochure   
Z1686 Cricut Art Philosophy Collection
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2118 Desert Sand, Z2140 Outdoor Denim, Z2162 Honey
Z1327 Sparkles--Blue & Green Assortment
Z1151 3-D Foam Tape
Z534 Micro-Tip Scissors
C697 Sponge

Other products used: Spray adhesive

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Just a quick card before we take our granddaughter to the store. We're so thankful to live in the US an be able to have her with us, have stores to go to, a home to go to afterwards, with a nice meal of hamburgers and corn on the cob this evening. Hope you all have a safe happy 4th of July!
Products Used:
Like the USA, a Melting Pot of products make up this card.

Cardstock: Close To My Heart White Daisy, Stampin Up Brilliant Blue and Real Red
Decorative Paper: Jenni Bowlin from November 2009 Mercantile Papercrafting Kit
Stamps: CTMH D1458 America Celebration,
    Stampa Rosa B25-2662,
    Stampin Up Big Wheel Punch:
Creative Memories Shape Maker Star
    I hand cut the center blue star with CTMH Z534 Micro-Tip Scissors
Making Memories Wire
3-D Foam Tape

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stamp Care

If you dhave a stamp that doesn't give you a good stamped image, there are some things you can try. (Most are for CTMH My Acrylix or but I did throw some tips in for traditional wood stamps too.)
  • First off, our stamps all come with a foam insert. This keeps the stamps from sticking to the papers enclosed or the envelope, AND most importantly, it replaces the cushion that your traditional wooden stamps have in between the die (red rubber) and wood. Place the foam cushion underneath your scrap paper, noting where the edges of it are on the scrap paper. Then place your project paper on top of the scrap paper, inside of the edges you just noted, and stamp. Most small stamps don't need cushion, but we cannot apply even pressure for larger stamps and this is where the cushion comes in handy. Try it with your traditional wooden stamps too if you have problems, this little cushion actually has helped with some of those.
  • When you stamp, you should press straight down, with an even downward pressure, and pick  straight up. Don't push down and/or rock back and forth. This will give you shadowing or ghosting images, or even breaks in your images.
  • Use a block that fits your image. You can use a 2" square block to stamp a 1" image if you are careful and place your stamp in the center of your block, but don't try to use a 4" x 5" block for a 1" image. This will be more problems for you than it is worth. You are likely to get ink on your block and then on your project or misstamp your image from using a block that is too big. Blocks are an investment, get the best ones you can afford. While you don't need every size out there, do get an assortment of sizes so you can get enough variety that you aren't fighting your blocks.
  • Try inking your image and stamping it a few times on scrap paper.
  • For clear stamps: Take a clean eraser and erase the stamp; it could have a release agent on it (like using Pam when you bake). I went to the Dollar Tree and bought some white erasers. I carry one in my toolbox.
  • For Rubber Stamps: Use a FINE nail file and VERY LIGHTLY sand the image in one direction.
  • Try uing embossing ink, does it work better? or even try inking your stamp first with an embossing ink and then with the dye ink; don't clean the embossing ink off. At one of her workshops, Sandra McCall shared that clear embossing ink is actually conditioning to traditional rubber stamps.
  • Clean your stamps (and the block if needed) immediately after use. The longer ink remains, the more difficult it will be to remove. (Pigment inks such as Close To My Heart Archival Ink and Staz On will permanently discolor the stamp image. As was the case with rubber, you will also notice that over time darker inks like reds and purples will also cause some discoloration.) I actually like it when my stamps get stained. They're easier to find when I drop them !
  • Use stamp cleaner. When Close To My Heart first came out with My Acrylix stamps (premium-quality polymer) and said to use their My Spritz Cleaner, I thought it would be too expensive, but thought I'd give it a try. I bought 4 spray bottles and one refill. Since then I have bought 2 additional refills and am just now getting to where I need a third. I have used the cleaner straight out of the bottle. This year, because I was running out I started filling my little spray bottles with half water and half cleaner.
  • DO NOT use baby wipes or paper towels, on clear stamps, at least not CTMH My Acrylix. They both have lint which will stick to our My Acrylix and the directions say not to use them. I have favorite My Acrylix alpha stamps that came out years ago, even as a test before My Acrylix came out. and they are still sticking to blocks just perfect and holding the ink. But I don't use baby wipes or paper towels on them as directed. I pretty much use CTMH stamp cleaner or after a weekend of heavy stamping with friends, I will put all of my stamps and blocks in a bowl of warm water with a partial pump of Joy or Palmolive dishsoap to clean them. (I have a soap dispenser built in the back of my sink. This may equate to 1/2 teaspoon.) I use another bowl of warm clean water for rinsing. I dry them on a Kirkland (Costco brand) paper towel. They seem to be pretty lint free.
  • Use soap and water to restore tack. Dust, dirt, and oils may cause your stamps to become less sticky over time. If you find they seem less adhesive, simply wash the stamps with dish soap and water to restore their original “stick.” (Continual use of soap and water will eventually cause a build-up. CTMH recommends using this method occasionally, only as needed.) Don't forget to wash your blocks and even the carrier sheet on which your stamps are stored. If you have a set that us used alot, the carrier sheet will get irty and need to be cleaned occasionally.
  • Use alcohol to remove residue. If you notice a residue on the back of your stamps, rub them with alcohol using a non-abrasive, fiber free cloth. DO NOT USE ALCOHOL ON MY ACRYLIX BLOCKS. (Extensive use of alcohol is not recommended. Use this method occasionally, only as needed.) If you cannot find a fiber free cloth, look at my post on soak-off gel nails, I haven't had to do this yet, but would probably use one of the latex free round sponges I bought when looking for lint-free wipes.
  • Staz On ink was designed for permanently decorating non-porous surfaces such as glass, metal, and ceramic, not for use in albums or with paper crafts. The ink has no effect on the stamp or block, other than discoloration. CTMH recommends cleaning your stamps with the My Spritz Cleaner as outlined above, immediately after use for best results. Although it is safe to use on your stamps, we do not recommend using StazOn cleaner (or any oil based cleaner) on My Acrylix blocks. Personally, I wouldn't use the cleaner on my stamps. I have a friend who used it all the time and now some of her stamps are quite gummy. Her blocks have clouds and now I know why. They may have changed the formula, since I found this information but why chance it when there is something that does work. I am NOT a StazOn fan. It isn't a good ink for someone with asthma. Also, I got some to try before it was available to the public, even when working with glass you have to use a fixative like Krylon or your images will wash off in the diswasher.
  • You can stamp with bleach using your My Acrylix. Just carefully clean your stamps immediately after use. TIP: When stamping with bleach, I like using gel bleach, Viva paper towels, and a glass dish. I fold the towel in quarters and put it on the plate, then pour on enough gel bleach to make a "bleach pad." I have found that this method gives me enough wetness that I don't have too much to splash bleach on myself and it gives me enough to create the images for which I am aiming.
Hope you found something useful here.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Latest News . . . Crop Chocolate June Challenge

I have submitted 4 things to magazines in the past and one to CTMH, 2 were picked up by Stampers Sampler and published. I think those are pretty good odds. It has always been my desire to participate in some of the challenges out there and submit some more entries.

There is a company that I have been buying from for some time now and I really like them: Crop Chocolate. The have great prices and excellent customer service. When they advertised for a Design Team, I saw the notice with just a few days before the deadline. I rushed to submit something (and will post my submissions later), but didn't make it. Unfortunately, I don't think they photographed well and I didn't take my time enough on the projects. Plus, our projects had to be 50% Crop Chocolate product and I really couldn't find enough of their products at the last minute to make myself happy.

So now I have organized my products all into one corner, bought some more, and surprise, surprise, they put out a call for a Focus Group. I had a few different options to go with, but the one I selected had to be a technique I never did before, and the project had to use patterned paper, buttons, and stamps. Again, it had to contain 50% CC (Crop Chocolate) product.

This was my entry and I was selected to be part of the group through the end of the year!!!

I think it is going to be fun as we already have our first challenge; and
you'll be seeing more artwork posted here.
I'm loving the challenges as they're making me think.
Those of you who know me--quit laughting. I know this could be a challenge in itself!

The Echo Park Theme kit focuses on "Mother," but I used it for my parent's wedding. What you can't see so well is on the lower right corner of the left page are two flags. These are stickers. They both had other words on them. On the top one, I just cut out some of the dotted paper, slightly smaller to leave a little border and turned it into a mini journaling box. On the next flag, I think it originally said "hello" and I covered it with a sticker that says "Missing you." I put really pretty carved buttons on each flag. On the next page, I used an actual journaling box for journaling.  Then there were 3 doily stickers onto which I put tiny, see-thru, pink buttons in the center of each.

The stamping is a thin blue scallop on the left page and next to that is a yellow border. Both were super easy to stamp and I was thrilled at how well the colors went with the layout.

My new techniuqe was that I used an Echo Park Mini Kit for the first time.

It's a different look for me, but I was pleased with the results.

Crop Chocolate Products Used:
Echo Park My Dearest Mini Theme Pack, it comes with patterned papers, journaling boxes, and
    stickers. It's a mother's day kit, but I used it for my mom and dad's wedding photos.)
Letters: Making Memories Paperrie Greenhouse Shimmier Alpha,
Inks: Tim Holtz Distress Mustard Seed & Tumbled Glass.

Other products Used:
CTMH Layout pattern from "Magic"
CTMH Colonial White cardstock
CTMH D1332 Boutique Borders Stamps,
Doily and Vintage Buttons sources unknown (Thanks Candice for the Doily!)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sonoma "Reflections" Mainframe Tied Up

Well, this is the photo that started it all! isn't it a beautiful layout? I would love to say I was the one who created this, but I didn't the design team at Close To My Heart did. I just replicated it from the Idea Book. I think it is a great layout to showcase my father's parents, people I never met, but I have heard were wonderful. I never heard a bad thing about them. But my faith tells me that when I get to heaven, they will be there too as they believe in Jesus so they'll be there waiting for me with my mom and dad. (For my beliefs on this matter, please see the notes below Products Used.)

Products Used

X7143B Sonoma Paper Pack
E1019 Bohemian Alphabet
C1467 Sweet Moments
Z1686 CTMH Cricut Art Philosophy Cartridge
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2100 Amethyst, Z2103 Bamboo, Z2111 Chocolate, Z2114 Cocoa, Z2137 Olive and Z2147 Smokey Plum
Z1612 Pin Clips
Z1316 CTMH Designer Ribbon Rounds Cocoa Collection
Z1326 Sparkles--Red, Pink, and Purple Assortment
Z1297 Edge Distresser
Z697 Sponge
Z534 Microtip Scissors
Z1471 CTMH Ruler
Z1151 3-D Foam Tape
1772 Glue Dots
9031 Reflections (Check my website for availabilty. These books are being discontinued and are only available while supplies last. They are FANTASTIC resources!)

Other Products

Discontinued CTMH Textured Cardstock: Bamboo
Stampin Up Designer Frames Textured Embossing Frame for my journaling box

Thank you Lord that this isn't all life offers; there is so much more through You, and much better too!

The following is what I believe and from the New Living Translation of the Bible.

John 3:16"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
17God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it."

1 Thessalonians 4:13"And now, dear brothers and sisters,
we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died
so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.
14For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again,
we also believe that when Jesus returns,
God will bring back with him the believers who have died."

15"We tell you this directly from the Lord:
We who are still living when the Lord returns
will not meet him ahead of those who have died.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout,
with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.
First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.
17Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth
will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
Then we will be with the Lord forever.
18So encourage each other with these words."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sonoma "Magic" Final Act (Again!)

Sorry I haven't been posting lately. I have been struggling with shoulder and elbow pain and had to rest. The elbow has definitely been tendonitis as I have felt that pain before. The shoulder, however, is a different story and after more pain inflicted by my doctor manipulating it, I see an orthopedic doctor at the end of the month. Hopefully a quick fix awaits me!

I was working on some layouts using "Victory" papers this weekend and realized how much the Magic book has become my "go-to" book! It really contains some nice layouts. Plus this Final Act has been used alot, just with the Sonoma layouts. Click on the "Sonoma" over in the right column and you will see the there are multiple variations. Then if you were to turn this page around and use different photo orientations--you have even more options for this single design. I hope those of you who enjoy our books as much as I do have been able to get your copy. For now, I'll better get back to Sonoma and another layout from Magic.

Products Used

X7143B Sonoma Paper Pack
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2111 Chocolate, Z2114 Cocoa, Z2147 Smokey Plum
Z1316 CTMH Designer Ribbon Rounds Cocoa Collection
Z1336 Cream Pearls
Z1635 Heirloom Assortment (The large dangling gemstone is from the is part of the Heirloom Asst.
            I love how it adds to the page. It attaches with jump rings and a brad.)
Z697 Sponge
Z534 Microtip Scissors
Z1471 CTMH Ruler
Z1151 3-D Foam Tape
1772 Glue Dots
9034 Magic (Check my website for availabilty. These books are being discontinued and are only available while supplies last. They are FANTASTIC resources!)

Other Products

Discontinued CTMH C1269 Fabric Finishes
Discontinued CTMH Textured Cardstock: Amethyst and Chocolate
XL Oval and Scalloped Punches

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sonoma "Magic" Enchantment

Our Stickease, cardstock stickers make layouts SUPER easy. There are two 6x12 sheets of stickers/set, I used one sheet to create this layout and added some ribbon and brads. On the back of the sticker carrier sheets are 2 photos of layouts, I just adjusted them to fit my photos, which included trimming a few of the Stickease so they would fit my spaces better. But the layouts are impressive, fast, and easy.

Products Used
X7143B Sonoma Paper Pack
X7143C Sonoma Stickease
X5905 Bright Green Shade Cardstock Pack
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2103 Bamboo, Z2114 Cocoa, Z2167 Creme Brulee,
Z697 Sponge
Z534 Microtip Scissors
Z1316 Designer Ribbon Rounds Cocoa Collection
Z1366 Brads--Metal Assortment
Z1471 CTMH Ruler
1772 Glue Dots
9034 Magic (Check my website for availabilty. These books are being discontinued and are only available while supplies last. They are FANTASTIC resources.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sonoma "Magic" Lovely Assistant

I'm back to posting. I had a wonderful day yesterday with Ray and Samantha at Sea World. We took a bunch of great pictures, capturing lots of memories. I have so many old photos to scrap that I've decided I'm going to scrap my new ones with Studio J and my two boxes of old photos traditionally. I was sick one day and couldn't be up and down or in my scrap room so I stayed in my chair covered with my blanket and opened the computer to Studio J. I created some great layouts that I'll post as soon as I finish posting my Sonoma series.

For my Sea World photos, I want to add some of the Sea World epoxy stickers that I think are by Creative Imaginations. I'll just leave room on my layouts for them and when they arrive, I will stick them on the layout.

For now, it's on to my heritage pages and the 100% tradtional world of Sonoma!

If you look at the right page, the lady in the lower left corner is my grandmother holding my father. The paper above the photo is another photo copy of the back of the photo. She listed her weight and my dad's weight on it, something I never would have done. Something much better in those days, they weren't as vain as we were. This is another page that is sort of out of the Idea Book. I changed it quite a bit, with the Martha Stewart punched borders, changing the cardstock from Colonial White to discontinued textured Amethyst, adding extra embellishments and the Tim Holtz key and watch pieces to fill in empty spaces. My friend Eilene added a watch hand to the clock in addition to the stamped hands and it mini brad. It really looked nice, like a 2nd hand. Everyone can adjust layouts to best fit their own photos.

Products Used
X7143B Sonoma Paper Pack
B1392 Key Moments My Acrylix
X5906 Dk Green Shades Cardstock Pack for Olive Cardstock
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2100 Amethyst, Z2103 Bamboo, Z2114 Cocoa, Z2137 Olive, Z2167 Creme Brulee
Z697 Sponge
Z534 Microtip Scissors
Z1360 Designer Brads
Z1367 Metal Bitty Brads
Z1471 CTMH Ruler
Z1151 3-D Foam Tape
1772 Glue Dots
Z341 Mini Glue Dots
9034 Magic (Check my website for availabilty. These books are being discontinued and are only available while supplies last. They are FANTASTIC resources

Scrap of unknown yellow cardstock for letters.
Sizzix letters. (Sorry, I honestly don't remember which ones I used.)
Discontinued Textured Amethyst Cardstock
Discontinued Chocolate Ribbon Rounds
Discontinued Prima Forever Flowers Fern Leaves (I would LOVE to have some more of these!) 
Martha Stewart Edge Punch
Tim Holtz Idea-Ology Sprocket Gears
Unknown source for black keys

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sonoma "Magic" Magic Act and "Reflections" Visual Textures

Cherish, Imagine, Magic, and Reflections are how-to books for Scrapbooking and Wishes and Originals are how-to books for Cardmaking, written by Jeanette R. Lynton the Founder & CEO of  Close To My Heart. They're my go-to guides. They're better than just sketches because they have the cutting dimensions, diagramsm and directions to put your layouts together.  They contain hundreds of patterns, ideas, mini-tutorials and beautiful photography. I am SO thankful that I bought all of them.

All of the layouts in each book, as is the case of this layout, can be mixed and matched. Each page, below, is from a different book. Plus the layouts are designed so that you can turn them in any direction and have a different look. I have already started on a new workshop and one of the layouts I'm using was created by another consultant. I didn't even recognize it until I pulled the book out and then I realized I had created it in the Sonoma workshop, she just turned it upside down.  I have Pagemaps and Sketches but I still keep going back to these becaue of all the detailed instructions.

As noted below, some are sold out, but you can still get those still available on my website, where shipping starts at just 4.95. After CTMH is finished selling them, check Some are available now there and at Michaels.

Products Used

X7143B Sonoma Paper Pack
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2114 Cocoa, Z2147 Smokey Plum
Z1316 CTMH Designer Ribbon Rounds Cocoa Collection
Z1336 Cream Pearls
Z1635 Heirloom Assortment (for flower in between the two buttons on the right page)
Z697 Sponge
Z534 Microtip Scissors
Z1471 CTMH Ruler
Z1151 3-D Foam Tape
1772 Glue Dots
9031 Reflections and 9034 Magic (Check my website for availabilty. These books are being discontinued and are only available while supplies last. They are FANTASTIC resources!)

Discontinued CTMH New England Ivy Textured Cardstock
Creative Memories Silver Pen
K and Co. Letter Stickers

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sonoma Magic "Out of the Hat

I LOVED finding these pictures. The car was actually my grandmothers! I went and bought the Tim Holtz Sizzix Jalopy die to use on this layout. I wound up getting the Movers & Shapers Jalopy, as well as the ATC embossing folder for another car my Dad has that looks just like this one. I was going to put a picture of his car on the left page and noticed his had spoke wheels and this one didn't; that's how I realized they weren't the same cars. A good way you can identify different eras in your photos when they all look to be the same--check the little details--haircuts, clothing, belts, shoes, jewelry, toys, or in this case wheels.

Right under the car I have a note that says, "Mother's grinning like an opossom in her new car, HAHA." It was on the back of the photo in my dad's handwriting and so nice to have. I make photocopies of the backs of photos like this at Staples and then sponge the white paper with Bamboo ink and/or Creme Brulee and Cocoa, Smokey Plum, or Amethyst on the edges. Then I will add them to my pages right beside their original photo. The sponging makes it so the bright white doesn't detract from the layout and I incorporate my ancestors' writings in my layout.

Products Used

X7143B Sonoma Paper Pack
X7143C Sonoma Stickease
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2100 Amethyst, Z2103 Bamboo, Z2114 Cocoa, Z2167 Creme Brulee, an Z2147 Smokey Plum,
Z697 Sponge
Z534 Microtip Scissors
Z1316 Designer Ribbon Rounds Cocoa Collection
Z1366 Brads--Metal Assortment
Z1471 CTMH Ruler
Z1151 3-D Foam Tape
1772 Glue Dots
9034 Magic (Check my website for availabilty. These books are being discontinued and are only available while supplies last. They are FANTASTIC resources!)

Additional Items:
Sizzix Tim Holtz Jalopy Die
Encore Copper Ink Pad
Crayola Metallic Copper colored Pencil (Their metallics are soft and contain a good amount of pigment.)
Stampin Up First Edition Special Designer Series Paper
Discontinued CTMH Pansy Purple Textured Cardstock
Discontinued CTMH Colonial White Textured Cardstock
The journaling sticker is actually two from an old CTMH Stickease pack. I save journaling stickers or blocks. For thiw layout, I cut 2 in half diagonally since I couldn't decide on which color to use and pushed the two halves together, making one block out of both colors.
Prima flowers

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sonoma "Reflections" Triple Play Tagline

When I make a layout, I rarely pick it out with pictures in mind. I usually do so because I like the paper and layout. I add my pictures afterwards, or pick pictures out after I have decided what to make and then figure out a way to make it work. I have wanted to create this layout from the first time I saw it when Reflections first arrived at my house. So, when I was getting to the end of my layouts and had lots of scraps left, but not many full sheets of paper, I decided, I was gong to make it. I never once considered the photos. I knew I had a lot of little pictures of my dad, but never dreamed that when I made 16 small squares I would have 16 small pictures of my dad. SURPRISE!!! I was so happy that the two worked together.

The Crop-A-Dial made this so much faster than the old way of pounding in eyelets with a hammer and the setting tool, quieter too. Just remember 3-C for standard eyelets. To punch your holes, it's real scientific. I eyeballed where I wanted my holes to be, drew a dot on my cardstock, grabbed 4 pieces stacked together, punched the hole, and then with my Crop-A-Dial still squeezed together, set the guide on the hole punching side so each other hole would be punched at the same depth. No more measureing. To set the eyelet, it's as easy as unlocking your front door. You need to put your key in the hole in your door to unlock your house. So with your Crop-A-Dial, you need to put the "stem" of the crop-a-dial or "KEY" in the hole of your eyelet, and the eyelet in the hole of your paper, before you squeeze and "unlock" the magic of the tool, by setting your eyelet. SIMPLE!

At the top of each piece of Close To My Heart's Background and Texture paper, are Zip Strips. One side of the Zip Strip contains identification information on the paper pack that the paper is from, such as colors used in that paper pack and the product name and number. The other side is useable with a printed border, alphabet, or words. When my layout was complete, it needed something else, I added the Zip Strips to the far left and right edges of each side and purple Sparkles to the Zip Strips.

Something else I have decided to do, thanks to my friend Candice is start using some of my old letter stickers. WOW were they a waste of money. I have gotten so used to using My Acrylix clear Stamps, Quickutz, Sizzix, and even Sandy's Accucut, that I just quit using the gazillion stickers I had bought over the years before these great machines and my clear stamps. This layout used five letters and I would have had to buy one alphabet just to get those 5 letters. Those days are over. PLUS with CTMH's My Acrylix and our blocks, they're super-simple to align. Our blocks have a laser cut line etched into the block. It is going to be hard using the stickers, but I'm determined to use some of the things I spent money on and get rid of them--creating more space in my craft room. We'll see how long that lasts! 

Products Used

X7143B Sonoma Paper Pack
C1465 Unscripted
Z1686 CTMH Cricut Art Philosophy Cartridge (For the little title tag on the right page.)
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2100 Amethyst, Z2114 Cocoa, Z2137 Olive and Z2147 Smokey Plum
Z1326 Sparkles--Red, Pink, and Purple Assortment
Z1360 Designer Brads
Z697 Sponge
Z534 Microtip Scissors
Z1471 CTMH Ruler
Z1151 3-D Foam Tape
1772 Glue Dots (sometimes old photos have a hard time sticking to a page and I use a Glue Dot to keep them down.)
9031 Reflections (Check my website for availabilty. These books are being discontinued and are only available while supplies last. They are FANTASTIC resources!)

Discontinued CTMH Embroidery Floss Green Assortment
Discontinued CTMH Eyelets
Crop-A-Dile (The ONLY way to set alot of eyelets!)
Assorted Cardstocks used on other layouts
K and Co stickers

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sonoma, Magic "Magic Act"

This was one of the last set of pages I made and I had run out of papers to use, I was truly using scraps, with my friends bringing their own pale lavendar/purle pages since I didn't have anymore.

On the left page I learned that my love for dogs is from my dad! We always had dogs when I was growing up. It is so neat to learn about me from old photos as well as about my father. The right page has photos of him, his dad, and his brothers.

Old pictures are small and what do you do to fill in empty spaces? First I added some fern leaf punchies from the EK Success Corner Adorner. Not enough. The dog paw brads wouldn't work on the right page. I stood in the my craft room and just looked around until I saw the box containing the Making Memories Antique Glitter Deco Brads. They're a Glittery Copper and along with some of the words from Close To My Heart Background and Texture Paper Zip Strips, they filled in blank spots on the right page nicely. I also added some tiny square, clear sparkles, that may not show up online to the leaf punchies.

Products Used
X7143B Sonoma Paper Pack
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2100 Amethyst, Z2147 Smokey Plum
Z697 Sponge
Z534 Microtip Scissors
Z1104 Clear Sparkles
Z1471 CTMH Ruler
Z1612 Pin Clips
1772 Glue Dots
9034 Magic (Check my website for availabilty. These books are being discontinued and are only available while supplies last. They are FANTASTIC resources!)

Additional Items:
Discontinued CTMH Amethyst Textured Cardstock
EK Success Corner Adorner--Fern Leaf
Making Memories paw print brad
Making Memories Antique Glitter Deco Brads
7 Gypsies D is for Dog Stickers
Bazzil cardstock (green)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sonoma Magic "Final Act"

One day, a Monica and Teresa were looking at a Sonoma layout on page 38 of the Autumn/Winter 2011, Close To My Heart Idea Book and a new Workshop idea was born! That's where I have been and why I haven't been posting for a while. I have been busy planning, creating, cutting, and organizing pages of a mega 15-page Sonoma Workshop. Now it is time to share the results with you. My friends still aren't finished, but boy do I have some nice pages and they will too when they're finished. We also had a blast visiting, sharing stories, and will when they come back to finish their pages. I know I want to do more.

I'm starting at the back of the ones I have finished and moving forward in hopes that when you open this, you can read from front to end. I hope you enjoy it!

This is my mother's parents. These papers were perfect for my historical photos and the layout was copied from page 41 of the Idea Book. I added the Journaling Box at the bottom, Prima leaves to my Heirloom Asst. flower, mini pearl accents, in addition to changing the font and paper a little bit. The layout is from the Magic Book and is the "Final Act" design. More layouts coming soon!

Products Used
X7143B Sonoma Paper Pack
B1392 Key Moments My Acrylix Stamp Set
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2114 Cocoa, Z2147 Smokey Plum
Z1316 Designer Ribbon Cocoa Collection
Z1336 Cream Pearls (I don't think you can see, but there are mini pearls in the big flower on the left and on the cameo frame.)
Z1635 Heirloom Assortment
Z697 Sponge
Z534 Microtip Scissors
Z1471 CTMH Ruler
Z1151 3-D Foam Tape
1772 Glue Dots
9034 Magic (Check my website for availabilty. These books are being discontinued and are only available while supplies last. They are FANTASTIC resources!)

Additional Items:
Discontinued CTMH Chocolate Textured Cardstock
Stampin Up Rich Razzleberry Cardstock and Marker
Stampin Up Designer Frames Textured Embossing Frame for my journaling box
Quickutz Marigold Classic Font

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Scrapbook and Papercrafting Kit of the Month Club and FREE Online Workshop Directions

The Workshop On The Go (WOTG) is our version of a Kit of the Month and includes other projects with FREE Online directions. Each month a group of ladies purchase a WOTG kit for $29.95 come to my house and make two layouts and at least a card. They leave with a new stamp set, embellishments, plenty of leftover papers and other products from their kits and a beautiful, detailed color brochure that can be used to make future layouts. When they get home, they can go online and create MORE projects following online instructions for bonus projects. Or pick other projects posted and follow them using their left over papers and instructions from another kit. The instructions and pictures are so great that you don't have to do them here, you can order it through me or go order online and you can select a different kit each month. In addition to containing a coordinating, exclusive C-sized stamp set that is valued at $13.95, the WOTG kits are hold extra value in that Close To My Heart offers a small discount on the these kits. Once the catalogs expire, so do the WOTG kits and the stamp sets are gone for good. If you like them, get the while they're available.

I like to give the ladies who come to my house surprises and try to sneak some in for my long-distance pals too! If you like surprises, I can order you a WOTG kit each month and mail it to you--you don't even have to tell me which one it is.  All you have to do is prepay for you kit and I will mail it off. Plus if you add just a little more to your order and bump it up to $50, you can also purchase the Stamp of the Month. for an additional $5. These stamps are always D-sized stamps, worth $17.95, and only available during their designated month.

Here is my version of one of the cards from Sonoma Workshop on the Go Brochure Bonus Project. Like the layout shown below, the kits are no longer available, but the Paper Packs are and you can still make the projects using different stamp sets. To access the Bonus Project directions, just go to my website, select the Work Shop On The Go button on the left, and then whichever book the project you are looking for is from. In this case, it was the Autumn/Winter 2011 Idea Book and then I would have selected Sonoma Bonus Project then you get all the project cutting diagrams and directions. There you have it--you stamp class online!

Products Used
X7143B Sonoma Paper Packet
Z1473 Kraft Die Cut Cards (6x6 with Envies)
D1475 Card Chatter--Birthday
Exclusive Inks: Z2137 Olive and Z2147 Smokey Plum
Z534 Micro-Tip Scissors
Z1114 Piercing Tool Kit
1772 Glue Dots
Z341 Mini Glue Dots
Z697 Sponge
Other: Old CTMH Green Buttons, Old CTMH photo clip, Lasting Impressions purple brad.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I LOVE these pictures. They bring back a wonderful Thanksgiving at we spent at my dear friend Karine's house with Samantha, Karine and her family. We all had a blast! Well, I'm not so sure about Ray and Ken. Ray painted and Ken got to listen to his 2 daughters and Samantha--lots of estrogen in the house!

I used the Sonoma Workshop On The Go kit, and wanted to use the CTMH layout provided, but it was for 3x4 photos. My photos are 4x6 and the one on the right is 5x7. I took two of our desk pads, layed out my photos, and "drew" my papers around them, following the official layout guide, with colored markers. I think it worked well. I changed the right page because I wanted to leave the space open for my workshop guests to add more photos or use the Tim Holtz sign die-cut journaling block if they wanted. Everyone opted for the journaling block. I was pleased with the results.

X7143B Sonoma Paper Pack
Exclusive Stamps came in the Sonoma Workshop On The Go From Fall/Winter Idea Book
     (WOTG packs are only available while Idea Books are live--get them while you can!)
Exclusive Inks Stamp Pads: Z2114 Cocoa     Z2137 Olive    Z2147 Smokey Plum
Z1487 Pewter Mini-MedleyAccents Collections
Z697 Sponge
Z1114 Piercing Tool Kit
Tim Holtz Sign Die
Stampin' Up Tasteful Trims Die (for scalloped Edge)
EK Success Corner Adorner Punch
Fancy Pants Paper scraps for jounaling

Monday, February 27, 2012

Beauty Review: Gel Nails Part 2--I Did it MYSELF!!!

Oh my gosh, this is TRULY a DIY project!!! Probably the hardest thing was:
  1. Saving and spending the money to get the products.
  2. Spending the money on nail stuff instead of stamping and scrapbooking stuff!
  3. Assembling every possible thing I could think that I would possibly need.
  4. Getting the courage to actually do it myself.
Again, I have to say Stephanie at Creative Nails in Wildomar is amazing and I would love to be able to have her do my nails and toes all the time, but reality is I can't afford it and with nails that are the pits, I opted for Red Carpet Manicure products, after consulting with the best--Hairdresser Robyne (bestest haircutter in the west, truly--contact me and I will tell you how to get in touch with her).

In the kit I bought from, there was a brochure with detailed instructions. The first thing I did was summarize these onto a 3x5 card so I could look quickly follow the 8 steps. I put a square around each product name and wrote it in capital letters so I would easily recognize what I was supposed to use at each step too.

There were mixed reviews on the accessories kit. I liked it. It includes a really inexpensive, plastic cuticle pusher and these tiny little self-adhesive buffing pads. They are so handy, that they make the kit worthwhile. You just stick one on the rubber end of the pusher and use it to sand the shine off the top of your nail. It is the perfect size and less damaging than what they use in the salons. Dummy me, this is step number 1 on my list and I skipped right over it. At least I figured it out before I applied any of the polishes.
Everything I read said you needed a lint-free wipe for a few of the steps. Neither where I bought my kit, nor Ulta--online or in their store, carries lint-free wipes. I looked at Target and Walmart too and no such luck. A few weeks ago I went to Ulta and found this package of "Basically U, 50 Tear Apart Sponges." The package reads, "for gentle, lint-free makeup removal." It is hypoallergenic and latex-free. Ray and I thought maybe the Purify would melt the sponges because it has acetone (or smells like it does) in it, but these worked fine. They were $4.95 or $4.99, just under $5. Problem solved.

I made Ray sit with me with his watch that has a second hand. I got the Pro Light in my kit and LOVE it too. I didn't need him sitting by me as the Pro Light has a timer; it turns off after 45 seconds. You just have to hit the push button on top to turn it back on; too easy. It isn't as powerful as the salon lights, but the even better thing is you only have to leave your hand in there for 30 seconds for base coat and 45 seconds each for top coat and polish. So less exposure to harmful elements if you're worried about the cancer producing elements.

I bought some extra orange sticks. I guess they're made out of orange wood as I don't know why they're called orange sticks. The enexpensive wooden sticks aren't even orange! I wanted plenty of them on hand for when I made a mess of getting polish all over my fingers. I kept one with the tiniest amount of cotton on the end for mistakes and also used it without the cotton, just soaking the stick in the Purify. I used to have a really pointy cuticle pusher and am going to have to find a good beauty supply to find another. Ulta didn't have one, nor did Sally when I looked there. I picked up one by Revlon and have a small one by Tweezerman. I want one that has a good point, is metal and hand sized. This is great for when you get too much polish in the cuticle.

Applying the SOAK-OFF gel product, at least the Red Carpet Manicure is better than polishing your nails normally as far as I am concerned. The polish stays wet the entire time. I am right handed and did my left hand one night. It sort of self-leveled itself. The polish is great consistency. It isn't thick and the brush isn't clumpy at all like it is in the salon. It almost creeps me out thinking about the salon brush and polish. Plus I smudged it a few times and you couldn't tell. By the time I went to go fix it, it had already evened itself out. When I did my left hand the next day. I actually was concentrating so hard, I folded my fingers up and that did mess a few up. I just had the base coat on. All I did was get the base coat back out and reapplied it on top of the ones I messed up. I didn't have trouble at all applying thin coats.

I made a huge mistake with my last salon set. I didn't soak or trim them off. I just chewed and pulled. This is so damaging to your nails and I made a mess of my own nails. In the picture below, you can see how short they are. I was going to try and let them grow out so I had some free edge. But couldn't wait any longer. I don't know if you can tell, but what started this adventure originally was my ring finger splitting so and it was doing that again. My nails just are too thin and break too much. Plus I don't have time to deal with them. I had to go ahead and do this without a free edge. In all directions you are told to seal your free edge. I couldn't do that because I only have a few that aren't right on the skin. So I will have to see how they do with out the sealing.

Another mistake I made, once you have everything on--I just did two coats of polish, with the final top coat and are ready, the final baking is 45 seconds. I was so worried that wouldn't work that I did it twice. But Ray and I both noticed that on one hand, under the light, all the nails were a solid whitish color, except one and it was streaked and not whitish. I figure I either forgot to put on the top coat or applied too thin of a coat. I just applied another top coat then and stuck it back in for 45 seconds.

So for my first time, with my nails too short, and not sealing all edges, I'm pleased with the results.
Red Carpet Manicure, Dream Come True

After almost two weeks, the only problem I have noticed is that I need to apply them a little thicker, but so far, they haven't lifted, peeled, or broken. Definitely a successuful venture!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Beauty Review: Gel Nails

So this isn't about Stamping or Avon, but I think it's something that be of use to someone else so I'm sharing! I am writing about Soak-Off, Gel Nails.

First off there are different types of gel manicures. This is a some of the information I have found on Soak-off Gel POLISHES. These are similar to regular polishes. You have a base coat, polish, and a base coat. There are no powders involved. But they are thicker. When applied they are pliable, your nails will bend and you can easily pick things up. Also, each time you go in for a manicure or to change the "polish," you soak the old off in an acetone product and start all over again. There are no fills. If you just want a color change, you can however, use regular polish over them and remove it with a polish remover that doesn't contain acetone. Your gel nails will be just as shiny underneath as they were before you put the regular polish on them.
Years ago, about 15-20, I had a great manicurist (Marianne A.) who did my nails by hand--no drills. When I had the drill the first time, I thought I was going to die--I hated it, it hurt! When Marianne got pregnant and quit doing nails because of the fumes and dust, I knew I had to figure out how to do them myself and I did. I got several compliments on my hand-done nails. They lasted well and looked great.
I gave up my nails because of asthma. Even the no-smell products, cause problems. Just because they took away the smell, the harmful chemicals are still there. I hated parting with the lasting polish and even, pretty nails. My nails don't grow on their own. They split, chip, and break. It doesn't matter what product I put on them, they don't grow by themselves.
Last year, I started having serious splitting problems on two nails, with them splitting down into "The Bleeding Zone." My friend Sue's nails always look natural and she told me about something new called Gel Nails. So on her recommendation, I went to Creative Nails in Wildomar CA and had them put on. I HIGHLY recommend Stephanie. She knows what she is doing. I have heard and read horror stories about them. One friend's pealed off from another local salon in less than a week (they were too thick). Stephanie is wonderful! I wish I could afford to go every two weeks and have the pretty reds put on or maybe even a purple.  I wouldn't think of doing them myself. But my finances just cannot afford the $30 + $5/tip so I pick a light neutral color and make them last as long as possible and watch closely, with the intent of eventually trying it myself. The set I have on now was put on, on December 27. While the growth is definitely showing, I just sand the back part down and could easily put regular polish on top of them. I have even sanded the length down and they're still not peeling or chipping. Stephanie is #1 at her job!

There are few different types of soak-off gel manicures out there:
In my quest to save money I consulted my Good friend, Hairdresser Robyne for advice, and have settled on a system by Red Carpet Manicure (RCM). It is supposed to be the first system marketed to home DIYers. This is Ulta's line and we have a store nearby.

Ulta slaps their label on some quality products. Their regular polish is supposed to be by OPI. I have been pleased with the colors I have bought in the past.  I've read that Ulta's RCM Gel products are the same as Harmony's Gelish which is the same brand available at Sally Beauty Supply that I've been having put on. I have only seen this one place so I don't know if that is true or not, but two of the colors are identical matches. If you click on their names in this sentence and look at Ulta's and Sally's Mini LED Curing Light--they're the same. Then if you do a little more searching, most of the RCM and Gelish Gel Polish colors are the same.
PRICING: When I started checking around, Ebay turned out to be about the most expensive! Sally's prices aren't so bad and if you decide to buy there, it is worth it to buy their discount card. Ulta has decent pricing, but didn't have a kit--they did have free shipping. has good prices on a Harmony Gelish kit, but then you need a light.I couldn't find the Harmony Gelish LED light on Amazon. Reading the reviews on UV lights, the inexpensive ones were extremely questionable: some work, some didn't; when you got a broken one, getting your money back was a hassle, and/or it was costly to return.

I tried a google search and found that carries the Red Carpet Manicure products and has a kit, complete with light and what looks like a pretty red polish too for $79.95.
Plus you get free shipping. I ordered today and they are out of stock, but their notice says it will ship in 1-2 weeks. I can wait for that price! That is not much more than two manicures. If you don't mind the little bitty curing light that is battery operated, they even have a kit for $59.95.
I notice this one has the same out of stock notice so maybe it is an item that is dropshipped from the manufacturer. In the meantime I know I need some lint free wipes and 99% isopropyl alcohol. This will give me an excuse to make a trip to my Ulta to get a light colored polish. I don't think I want my first try to be with a dark polish. Oh and in my reading, it looks like you have plenty of time to clean up mistakes--up until you do that last curing. That's nice to know.

One more thing that has bothered me--UV rays from the lamp and skin cancer. I go to the dermatologist once a year and have had 2 things cut off of my face and one off of my eyelid, several burnings. Poor Ray goes every 5 months now and always gets several burnings a few cuttings and has had 3 surgeries removing nonmelanoma basal cell carcinonima. (Praise God they were all caught and excavated for lack of a better word!) Here is a page with an index of different articles, but also one in particular about the lights. If interested, look for, "Do UV Nail Lamps Emit Unsafe Levels of Ultraviolet Light?"

I am sure if you were to do more searching, there is more information out there. This is just a starting point of what I have found. I will post a photo of my nails once my kit arrives and I get the time and courage to actually do my nails. Somehow I think I'll find that courage soon or Ray will find it for me! ;-)