Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Studio 5: FOUR things you may not know about DIE-CUTTING machine & FREE Cut files!

*Studio 5 video will be posted tomorrow (Wed afternoon).

As usual, I had WAY too much prepared for my Studio 5 TV segment, really, there is only so much you can do with 6 minutes! 

So, I'm sharing it ALL here. 
Bear with me, but enjoy all my hard work...ahem, it really was more FUN than hard.   I'm going to scatter the projects throughout the post and include links to the CUT FILES next to each photo.  They are free for you to use and enjoy!

I decided to share this information because many of my students want to know if they should invest in a die-cutting machine OR if they should upgrade.  I also get a lot of questions about how to use them, so stay tuned, as I plan on doing some Facebook Live Tutorials about exactly that...soon, so please follow me there for updates!

I am primarily referencing Cricut in the post (Because that is what I use), but most of these points apply to all the other leading Die-cutting machine brands; Silhouette, Brother, Sizzix etc...


Find 'blank' home decor pieces (Hobby Lobby for these)
and add Chalk Vinyl for a custom Wedding ensemble.
DOWNLOAD Envelope Sign
DOWNLOAD Guestbook Sign
Number ONE thing.
SMARTER.


Everything is getting smarter, including die-cutting machines...this is how.

Wireless - the latest versions of popular brands, like Cricut, Silhouette, Sizzix and Brother all feature Bluetooth.

This may not seem like a big deal, but for me, wiht a computer, 2 printers and several die-cutting machines, it's nice not having a spider web of wires under food.  It also allows for die-cutting on the go (on a trip or at a friend's...which leads me to the next point.

Apps - Cricut now has an App for ipad and iphone with Android coming soon. I'm sure the other brands will follow suit, if not already.

Software - Significant improvement over the last few editions of software.  Learning curve for sure, but well worth the investment of time.


Number TWO thing.
BETTER.

I sewed a pillow!  Yippee!  Here's a tip, instead of buying a
pillow form, which are shockingly expensive, I bought
a ready made pillow on clearance andsave 70%
DOWNLOAD 1776 Laurel Wreath
Cricut new-generation machines (Explore version and forward) include CutSmart Technology.  Bottom line, the machine cuts like a dream.  Much, much better than the Expression.  Circles are now perfect!  Detailed shapes cut & release perfectly!

German Carbide Blades - These are a totally redesigned blade, using a specifically formulated tungsten carbide.  It resists wear & breakage.  Bottom line, blades are very sharp and will stay sharp longer.

Smart Set dial - This beauty take the guess work out of how deep to cut your material.  FOr the most part it work well, but I've had to make certain adjustments for cardstock.  What I LOVE about it though, is as soon as you dial up to thicker items, it automatically cuts twice.


My old Expression would have mutilated these detailed cuts.
DOWNLOAD Water/Lemonade
Quieter, working on faster.  Definitely quieter, which is very nice.   Little bit slower, but that is mainly with detailed cuts.  With the latest version you can choose fast cut for simpler shapes.

Number THREE thing.
SVG Cut Files.


SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics.  Think of it as a shape file, not a picture file.  Cricut came to this 'game' a bit late, but they have joined all other die-cutting brands in allowing crafters to use their own shapes, not just what the brand has to offer.

Cartridge vs. SVG file:  If you're like me, you have many cartridges.  The good news if they are compatible with the newest Cricut machines.  But the days of collecting cartridges are over and I'm pretty happy about it.  Instead of spending up to $60 on a cartridge that you may only use a few shapes, you can know purchase just the one shape you want in Cricut (or other brands) large library of shapes.

I used Black Glitter Vinyl and wow, it's shimmers!
I found the tutu and onesie at Hobby Lobby,
both for less than $10.  Cute Baby Gift!
DOWNLOAD Tutu Cute 
DOWNLOAD Sweet Dreams
You can subscribe for a specific amount of money to receive unlimited shapes during a period of time.

FREE cuts!  Cricut has a free cut of the week, be sure to get it!

FREE cuts!  The internet has loads of places that offer free SVG cut files.  That includes me and the files I created for the projects here.  I also include the cut files for each of my card making kits.

Number FOUR thing.
CREATIVITY.


Dollar Store mugs, perfect little Father's Day gift.
Your kids could make them!  All men LOVE the Lego Movie!
DOWNLOAD BatDad
DOWNLOAD Yoda Best Dad
New materials (besides paper) ...because of the improvements made to these new generation of die-cutting machine, you can cut more materials, BETTER. 
You can cut more than 60 materials including fabric, leather, felt, wood veneer, vinyl, etching glass etc...  It's not that you couldn't cut these things before, but because of all the improvements, it does it all MUCH better.

Practical - It's not just for scrapbooking/card making anymore.  A die-cutting machine opens up a whole world of practical ways to enhance your life.  If you have children, you NEED a die-cutting machine.  From chore charts to school projects you'll find fun ways to make the most of your machine.

Another fun Father's Day Gift.
Iron on Vinyl is addictive!
DOWNLOAD Grill Daddy
Creativity!  Think Home decor, Gifts, Celebrations, Invitations, holidays! 
I think of an idea, design it and cut it!  I'm pretty  much obsessed.

If you like what you see and you want to try your hand but feel a little lost, please visit me on my facebook page, where I will be doing some live videos tutorials and take you step by step from downloading my files to cutting!

Just have your machine ready to roll, some iron-on vinyl and see you soon!

P.S.  Money saving tip!  Do not buy the Cricut brand of vinyl.  It's great, but very expensive.  Cricut uses Oracal 631 brand of vinyl and you can get this for much less in other places.  In Utah, we have an awesome Vinyl store called the Vinyl Outlet at the Brickyard in Salt Lake City.


Oh my!  It's like a kid in a candy store, I wanted it ALL!  (Thanks Rhonda for the recommendation!).









Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Q's Creative Cards: Summer Sweets!

Ahhhh...summer.  Everything is just a little brighter.  More colorful.  More fun!

This class is all about the sweet things that taste even sweeter in the hot sun; a frosty jar of lemonade, a soft-serve ice cream (preferably dipped!), fresh fruit and Popsicle that make you feel like a kid again!

Four cards (3 of them are shaped) and a gift bag, all pre-cut and ready to assemble.  A slideshow is included to make it even easier!  

Die-cuts & printables are included as well.

Kits start shipping May 30th!  Please add shipping to have the kit mailed to you. Otherwise, I will bring the kit to classes, held here in Utah.

Summer Savings!  Since I won't have a new kit until after summer, add any of the additional kits on the sidebar to the right (or this one) for additional kit price and free shipping!)...keep crafting all summer long!

Summer Sweets Cards & Bag


Class Schedule for Summer Sweets

Wed., May 31st        West Valley Hires Big H              6 - 8 pm

Mon., June 5th         Sandy Hobby Lobby                   2 - 4 pm
Tues., 
June 6th         South Jordan Hobby Lobby        5:30 - 7:30 pm
Wed., 
June 7th         South Jordan Hobby Lobby        10am - noon
Thurs.,  
June 8th      American Fork Senior Center      6 - 8 pm
Friday, 
June 9th       Layton Hobby Lobby                  10am - noon
Friday, 
June 9th       Layton Hobby Lobby                  2 - 4pm
Friday, June 9th       Layton Hobby Lobby                  5:30 - 7:30 pm

What you'll need: 


Adhesives:  Roller-type adhesive for putting cards together.  

Regular Foam squares

THIN foam squares
1/2" foam roll and 1/8" foam strips.
Mini and 3/8" Glue dots and Scotch tape.


Tools & Supplies:
Scissors

Paper Piercer * micro hole punch
Large lid or small container to place small items from kit
Ball Tool Kit & thick foam mat (a thick mouse pad will work)

If you have any questions, please let me know.
...and would love if you posted these pictures to Pinterest! 

























































Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tips for making a trip to Paris affordable!

Is Paris on your bucket list?  Does it seem like a dream, an impossibility?  Then read on... I'm here to tell you ways to travel to Paris for less money than you think.

Travel is all about 2 things:  Money and Time.  Which do you have more of?

If you have lots of money and not a lot of time, then this article is probably not for you.  

Most of us will find ourselves somewhere in the middle.  We have money, but we're careful with it and want to get the most out of it.  

We have time, but it's even more precious and we don't want to waste it, especially while spending money!  

Here is MY list of money saving tips!

1.  Flights
This will most likely be your largest expense if you're flying from the US.  So, if you can save money here, you're doing GREAT!  I am by no means a flight expert and in fact, I save money here by using points that we accumulate on our credit cards. 

However, I have friends that have found very inexpensive flights to Europe (under $500, almost unheard of), so I know it's possible.

Length of Trip
My biggest tip is Flight-to-length-of-trip ratio.  If you spend $1200 on a flight and only stay 7 days, it works out to $170+ a day.  If you spend 2 weeks, it drops to $85, and 3 weeks to $57 a day.  That is pretty significant savings.  Of course, you're spending more time, which means more daily expense elsewhere, however, save up for the European trip of a lifetime and make it count!

Time of Year, time of week
Rent a bike at Versailles!  The Chateau is 'meh', but the
gardens are spectacular!
My second biggest tip is about what time of year and what time of the week you fly.  Summer is crazy busy in Europe.  It can be very hot, with little or no air conditioning (did it once, won't do it again!)  Spring and Fall are lovely times to visit and prices are generally lower for flights and lodging.  

Flights are typically less expensive when less people are flying, ie: Midweek and Sundays.

Here are some other great tips from the Girls Guide to Paris

2. Lodging

Your next largest expenditure is lodging...or is it?   We've spend more on food on some days that our lodging because of this tip...

My daughters in our 8th arrondissement apartment,
close to Eiffel Tower.
Vacation Apartment Rentals
Not only is this the least expensive way to lodge in Paris (yes, it can be even less expensive that a hostel), it's also the BEST way if you want to experience Paris like a local instead of a tourist. 

This only becomes cost effective when you travel as a group of four or even more.  We're rented apartments for less than $60 US a day per person.  Yes, you won't have a concierge booking your evening dinner.  No one will make your bed and leave a chocolate on your pillow, BUT you'll buy many bars of glorious European chocolate and still save money!  You'll also save with food, but more on that below.

Yup, that's me playing with the pigeons!
Let me just say that some of our best travel experiences have come from the apartments we rented.

Another factor to consider is location.  Paris is divided up into districts, called arrondissements in French.  They are numbered 1 through 20 and move in a spiral starting in the center of Paris, number 1, where the Louvre museum is and part of Ile de la Cite is. (This is an Island in center of Seine River, which bisects Paris).

I've stayed in the 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissement.  My favorite is the 6th, by the Luxembourg Gardens.  The farther out you stay, the less it costs, however, it's less convenient to what you want to see and will cost you more in transport costs.   The 5th and 6th are far enough away from the hype and crowds, yet close enough to get there quickly, plus has many areas I love to explore from gardens, markets and churches.

Here are some websites that offer them. 
·
  • ·         www.homeaway.com
  • ·         www.vrbo.com (now part of Homeaway)
  • ·         www.vacationinparis.com (pricier and nicer than normal)
  • ·         www.airbnb.com
  • ·         www.tripadvisor.com
  • ·         www.parisvacationapartment.com (Pricier and nicer than normal)
  • ·         www.parisperfect.com
  • ·         www.paristay.com (longer term)
Basilica du Sacre-Coeur & Montmartre,  Farther out (18 district), but a
fun place to explore.


















3. Food
Paris is a fantasy food destination!  Your third largest expense and the most fun!  And as mentioned above, it can be more or less than you wish.  It really depends on how important food is to you :)  We love a great dining experience, but we still manage to keep our food budget low with the following tips.

Breakfast in your apartment!
It does, after all, have a kitchen.  So it's a good idea to visit (it is actually ALWAYS a good idea to visit local grocers whenever you travel, it's such a great way to understand local people and culture.  Stock on a few basics (oh, even the basics in Paris are divine!), some fruit, cheese, meats and bread...did I say break, I meant "a hot, crusty baguette like only the French can make".

Boulangerie / Pâtisserie

Say what?  Both of these stores are bakeries, but Boulangeries specialize in bread and Pâtisseries in pastries.  However, they will often have the other item to some degree. 

That's a I'm eating a French Crepe kind of smile!
Picking up something to eat here must happen every day, kind of like you must eat a gelato in Italy every day.   Some things you just don't mess with.

Slept in, want to head out without making breakfast...just grab a fresh out of the oven croissant or Pain au Chocolat or one of the other delicacies they offer.  If not for breakfast, how about lunch?  It's never a bad time.

Markets / Street Food
There are plenty of outdoor markets in Paris and they are great way to experience the people and culture of this city, as well as a great opportunity to eat fresh produce and  artisanal food creations.

As well, there are always small vendors on streets (and even food trucks are becoming popular) ready to sell you a divine crepe, a baguette sandwich, a kebab, falafel and even tacos and burgers!

These are all great ways to grab lunch while spending very little.

Prix Fixe (Pronounced Pri fix)
This simply means a fixed price 3 course meal in a restaurant.  The same food would cost much more a la carte during the dinner hours.  By eating your main meal of the day at lunch and eating something lighter (see above) for dinner you could save considerably.  Prix Fixe meals usually run between 10 and 20 Euros (see money below).

Lots of stairs...making up for the pastries!
Water / Ice
Oh dear, where do I start.  As North Americans we cannot truly appreciate how lucky we are to have the water we have until we travel outside of our countries (US & Canada).  Our restaurants dispense water...like water!  Free, easy, endless.  Which for me, a water drinker...as in that is ALL I drink, it's heaven.

Tap water is not typically offered in European restaurants.  Neither is Ice.  You must ask for it and then don't be surprised to get the 'look'.  One of our favorite Ice stories is from a nice restaurant in Ronda, Spain.  It was brought out to us in a silver chalice with silver tongs.  There were about 7 cubes of ice.  Europeans do not consume water or ice like we do, therefore, it's just not that accessible.  Here's how to get around it.

Stay at an American style hotel.  Use their ice machine.  Hah!

Ask for tap water and ice.  They will give it to you, they just don't want to typically.  If you're not a water kind of person, then buy your drinks!

Bottled water on the other hand is incredibly expensive in Europe.  Every time I get a 25 cent bottle of water in Costco, I remember the 20 Euros + I would lay down every time all six of us needed a drink... I still remember buying water at Charles De Gaulle Airport right before we left to go home and thinking "NEVER AGAIN".

When you're walking all over Paris you'll want to carry bottled water.   Keep the bottle and refill when you're at your apartment or at the 800+ water fountains all over Paris!

Last couple of thoughts about dining in Paris.
Tipping is included in the price, however you could leave a few additional Euros as a nice gesture, but is not necessary.

Prepare to wait and have patience.  The dining experience in Paris (and in Europe in general) is a much more leisurely affair.  They are not in a hurry and do not expect you to be.  Plan on 2 hours at least!  This is one of the reasons we enjoy saving our main meal for the evening, even if it does cost more.  We have enjoyed a full day of Paris, we're tired, our feet are burning and sitting in a nice restaurant, chatting or planning our next day, while being served, is a great way to end a day.

Timing is also a bit different in Paris.  Lunches usually go from noon until 2:30pm.  Restaurants rarely serve dinner before 7pm.  Bistros and cafes will serve food day.


4. Transport
We took 4 of our children to Europe in 2008.  We rented a van and stayed outside of Paris.  We drove into Paris twice.  I still can't believe we did that, but we did.  We lucked out our first day and found parking near the Eiffel tower.  Our second day was not as easy.  We found a parking garage, drove down, only to discover it wasn't high enough for our van...backed out and kept looking.  It was an fun adventure but one I'm not willing to create again. :)  Stay in the city.  Take the Métro!


Métro
Fourteen lines, 380 stations and 131 miles of track, Paris Métro is Europe's second largest subway system and that is without including the RER, a commuter-rail network that is integrated with the Métro.

If you're not used to using a subway, it may seem daunting, but it is doable with some help from the internet (https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/articles/le-metro-de-paris), Metro app on your phone and asking friendly Parisians for help.

You can take a taxi, but it is very expensive.  Fares start at 7 Euros.  You can also take the bus, but the Metro is the way to go.  Buy tickets in packs (Carnet) of 10 to save even more money.

RER: (Regional Express Network) Train
Take the RER from the Airport or out to Versailles.  Despite being a bit grim, it will save you a lot of money.

Tip:  Hold on to your tickets for Metro or Train.  You'll need it to check out after you arrive at your destination.

Bikes
Paris has a bike sharing system (we even have this in Salt Lake City now) that is awesome!  It's called Vélib’.  20,000 bikes at 1800 stations.  It's a fun way to get around and only costs a few dollars a day.  http://en.velib.paris.fr/


Activities

A lot of what I love to do in Paris is FREE!
I love parks, Luxembourg is my favorite...easy to spend half a day strolling, exploring, eating, boule (a ball rolling game older Frenchmen love to play) watching and even napping!

https://www.discoverwalks.com/blog/what-to-do-in-luxembourg-gardens-in-paris/

I also love Tuileries Garden across the river from the D'Orsay Museum and next to the Louvre.   It houses one of my favorite smaller art museums, the Orangerie.  Also next to Place Concord, with beautiful views of Champs -Elysees, the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, oh my, just so many things to see and do around this area.  Or just park yourself on a bench by one of the many fountains and relax.

https://www.discoverwalks.com/thingstodo/paris/tuileries-garden/

Museums are free on the first weekend of the month, so that might be worth arranging if you're a museum fan.  Paris Museum Pass is a great deal, but only if you use it!

Churches are free and there are some truly stunning churches in Paris.  First and foremost, Notre Dame on Île de la Cite.  Breath taking!  The audio costs, but is well worth it.  To climb the towers also costs, but is a fun adventure just climbing the stairs!


Shopping
This may seem like the antithesis of saving money, but it's always nice to bring a memento home and if you shop correctly, it can be a culturally fascinating experience.

Marche de Puce (Flea Market)
Flea Markets
The most interesting place to shop is at Paris's famous flea markets.  Maches aux Puces is the largest and most famous, but there are several smaller ones around the city.  You can learn more about them here.

A Guide to Paris Flea Markets

https://www.bonappetour.com/blog/paris-flea-markets/

 

Grocery Store

The best place to buy chocolate is at a large grocery store.  We always take the Metro to it on our last day to stock up.

Friperies
Parisians love their thrift shops and so should we.  You'll save money and find treasures!  Many of these shops specialize in vintage clothes!
Visit this website to read more about them.
http://www.eurocheapo.com/blog/cheap-vintage-shopping-in-paris.html

Tip: Sales tax is always included in Paris.


Money, Internet & Mood
This may seem like the antithesis of saving money, but it's always nice to bring a memento home and if you shop correctly, it can be a culturally fascinating experience.

Exchange rate
When we took the kids in 2008, the exchange rate was a whopping 1.5!  It was dreadful.  Today we have a much more favorable exchange rate of 1.1.  Your money will go much farther...it's a great time to visit Paris or other European countries.

Credit cards
Europe only takes chip and pin credit cards.  We learned this hard way in 2012 when we tried to use our card to buy metro tickets from the kiosk.  We had to rely on our Canadian friends that whole trip.  By now, however, we should all have chipped cards.

It's always a good idea to bring a few cards though, in case they don't take one.  Visa and Mastercard are commonly used, American Express rarely, mostly in Hotels and restaurants.

Call your credit card company and let them know your travel plans.
Check your statements carefully after any kind of travel, this is often a time when fraud occurs.

Wifi
We all know that Wifi is free at Mcdonalds but you can access Paris's Hotspots.  They are only available during the day and have a 2 hour limit but then you can log in again after that.

Look for apartments that have free wifi.

Data plans have become more affordable.  Verizon international plan is $10 a day for 24 hour data and all other services you use, like phone and texting.  This could add up over the course of a few weeks, but if you use it strategically it's a good option.

Research
My little article is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are endless websites, articles, blog posts, travel forums that will keep you busy for days and days and days.  But I'm a big believer in being prepared.

I don't want to spend my precious vacation time learning or figuring things out.  My motto is "Be prepared & then prepare to be spontaneous!"

Keep a word doc handy to copy info to, organize it and save them as PDFs and save on your phone in a PDF reader.  This way you'll have information available without using data.

I won't share the gazillion links you could visit except for one two.
·         Rick Steves (great website and even greater travel books)
https://www.ricksteves.com/
·         David Lebovitz "Living the sweet life in Paris"
http://www.davidlebovitz.com


Language
It's always a good idea to pick up a few common phrases to the place you are travelling.  Bonjour! (Hello), Merci!  (Thank you).  S'il vous plait (please).  Bon soir (Good night). Etc...  A great little free app called Duolingo will help you learn in a few easy lessons.

Mood
I'm going to leave you with some movies and music to watch and listen to get you into the Paris mood.

Movies
Ahhhh, a list of our favorites.  We watch Midnight in Paris, then gaze into each other's eyes and say "let's go to Paris...right now".  We never do go right away, but we always manage to go eventually. :)



























Music

One of our favorite music groups; Pink Martini is a musical group that was formed in 1994 by pianist Thomas Lauderdale in Portland, Oregon. Describing itself as a "little orchestra," its music crosses genres such as classical, Latin, jazz and classic pop and encompasses languages from all over the world.  They have a spattering of French songs in their albums, but their latest release is called "Je Dis Oui!", which means "I say yes" in French...and I concur.  Say YES to French and say YES to Paris!

http://pinkmartini.com/


Friday, March 24, 2017

Q's Creative Cards: Garden Party!


Grab a friend and have a paper-crafting party!  These flowers are in full bloom and just waiting for you to plant them!

You'll need just a few supplies (see below) and my slideshow to create these darling cards.

It all comes with your pre-cut and ready to assemble kit, as well as all the printables and die-cuts files for future use.

You'll also learn how to make easy 3-D Bendi cards (you'll love having those die-cuts) and beautiful floral pocket cards.

Kits will ship and classes start April 3rd.  Please go back to add shipping if you want the kit mailed.  Don't add shipping if you're attending a class, I will bring kit to class.

Garden Party Cards

Wait!  Add beautiful Pretty Purses 3D kit and get free shipping for both! (just don't add shipping to either kit) Save $9.  While supplies last.  Kit only, no class.



3-D Pretty Purses


Class Schedule for Garden Party

Mon., April 3rd         Sandy Hobby Lobby                   2 - 4 pm
Tues., 
April 4th        South Jordan Hobby Lobby        5:30 - 7:30 pm
Wed., 
April 5th         South Jordan Hobby Lobby        10am - noon
Thurs.,  
April 6th      American Fork Senior Center      6 - 8 pm
Friday, 
April 7th       Layton Hobby Lobby                  10am - noon
Friday, 
April 7th       Layton Hobby Lobby                  2 - 4pm
Friday, April 7th       Layton Hobby Lobby                  5:30 - 7:30 pm
Wed., April 12th       West Valley Hires Big H              6 - 8 pm

What you'll need: 


Adhesives:  Roller-type adhesive for putting cards together.  

Regular Foam squares

THIN foam squares
1/2" foam roll and 1/8" foam strips.
Mini Glue dots and Scotch tape.


Tools & Supplies:
Scissors

Paper Piercer
Brushed Corduroy Distress Ink & Sponge

Silicon Mat for inking (I will have some to share)
Large lid or small container to place small items from kit

Ball Tool Kit & thick foam mat (a thick mouse pad will work)
Corner Rounder
Large serving Fork with 4 prongs (I will show how to use it to make small bows)


If you have any questions, please let me know.


Join me on my facebook page, Q's Creative Cards. I'll be doing live video showing this cards Saturday, March 25th at 10am.


...and would love if you posted these pictures to Pinterest!
 




















































































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