We got our infamous Christmas cards in the mail today! I can't wait to show you guys, but I have to wait until we send out all of our cards before I show the photo online because we like to keep our card photo under lock and key in order to surprise our family and friends. However, I wanted to tell you all about my card ordering process and show you some of my favorite designs.
We have ordered cards from a different place every year. I like to try out the different companies and maybe one day I can decide on who I like the best. Last year I fell in love with Minted's designs but we hadn't budgeted enough to order our cards from there. They are pretty expensive, but the designs and paper quality are top-notch. So I warned Sheldon last year that this year I wanted to order from Minted.
A rookie mistake I made the first year we did our chrismas card photo was that I didn't look at card designs before we took the photo. Our card photos are always really elaborate so if we don't make the photo fit the design we want to use it just won't look right or it will end up cropping an area we need in the photo. I had an idea of the photo we wanted to take and what we wanted it to say. There is fire involved in the photo so I wanted something that said warm wishes. My only slight complaint from using the Minted website is that the search function would work great if they named their designs by what they said on them (some are, some aren't). I pretty much had to just browse through all the designs to find what I wanted. This actually worked out for the better because I got to see all the cool designs Minted has for future cards.
These are some of my favorite designs: (click on the photo to go to the design page on Minted's website)
Something that I have found unique about Minted is that they have soo many options for the cards: Flat, folded, cropped (in various designs), different colored envelopes, pre-addressed, labels... seriously everyting. You'll pay for these options, but they actually have the options so you can get the exact card you are envisioning. Something else that I liked and even decided to use, some of the card designs have postcard options available, since you don't have to pay for envelopes these are cheaper. We decided to get these to give to people at work and friends we wouldn't probably mail cards to that way they don't get messed up by mailing just a postcard, but we could save a little money by getting 50 of each desing instead of 100 of the flat cards with envelopes.
As I said, we got our cards in the mail today and let me tell you, they were worth every penny! The paper is gloriously thick and the printing is flawless. We ordered silver envelopes and they are beautiful. I will make sure to post photos as soon as we send out all of the cards.
So funny story, the day after I ordered my cards I had an e-mail from a wonderful person at Minted who didn't know that I had ordered cards already and wanted to know if I would do a review of their designs in exchange for some free cards. Since I love their designs and had already ordered I said "yes, defintely." I rarely accept offers as you know. Since I was gifted some free holiday cards for this review I would like to order more of our cards to be able to send to my lovely readers. I did this last year and could only afford to send out ten or so. So this year, if you would like a card from us, please send your mailing address to my e-mail dana (at) craftyminx (dot) com. Please put christmas card address in the subject line. I will have to cut it off at 50 so if you want one e-mail me soon!
Make sure you check out all the dsigns on Minted if you are in the market for photo cards this year.
P.S. We're doing great! The house is coming along and I feel like I can start blogging again. It will be more librarian and bookish stuff until I get the craft studio put back together, but I miss you guys so I'll try to start blogging weekly to start back in the swing of things.
I've always loved Valentine's Day. Not because I was a girl who had plenty of Valentines but because I love pink and candy and hearts and cutesy stuff :) So here's a little view of my Valentine's Day.
While I make a big deal about all the pink and hearts Valentine's day is usually pretty mellow for us. We usually go out to a fancy dinner just because, but this year Sheldon is making me a special dinner. I don't know what he's making but I'm excited about it. I'm surprised he hasn't told me yet. He's really bad at keeping surprises. He got me (or should I say let me buy) my dream pink oxfords for my gift. I'm not the biggest fan of getting flowers/candy/stuffed animals so I'm very excited about these shoes! I got him some blu rays. It's all stuff we would have eventually bought anyway but can justify on the budget by putting it in the "gifts" category -- Sneaky.
I sent my nieces valentines so they could get mail. I'm trying really hard to make sure I mail them things because it's fun to get mail and I have to keep my "favorite aunt" title ;)
Oh and I made my office baked heart donuts just because. They were really yummy!
Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?
Sheldon got me a huge amount of glitter for Christmas so I've pretty much been glittering things since December. The dogs better watch out, they're probably getting some kind of glittered accessory soon. I wanted to make something fancy and pink to match my pink explosion outfit for valentine's day so I decided to sit down and make a crafty heart headband and of course, cover it in glitter.
These are really pretty self explanatory. You cut out felt, glue on some glitter, glue it all on to ribbon, and tie it around your head. So I'm really just going to go over how I made my hearts because those are the things that caused me grief.
You will need: Felt, scissors, glitter (the colors I used from Martha Stewart glitter are below), a high temp glue gun (this won't work with a low temp), a lot of glue sticks, ribbon, parchment paper (not pictured), and elastic (optional)
Why am I using hot glue? Because it's my favorite. I have a drawer full of "special" glues and I always throw them back in the drawer and grab my hot glue gun. You want a glue that is going to stay flexible after it dries for this since it needs to kind of curve to fit your head.
Cut some hearts out of your felt. I just kind of free handed mine, but you can draw some on paper and cut out templates if you want. In the top example I layered some together to make it look extra crafty. Make it your own by doing some embroidery or adding buttons. The sky is the limit here these would be awesome if they were made to look like conversation hearts with cute little messages. Ok, on to the glittering...
Make a parchment paper sandwich big enough to fit your heart and have a little space around it.
Use a lot of glue and get it as close to the edge as you can. Work really fast here, You don't want it drying before the next step. Cover it in more glitter than you'd think you would need.
Smoosh it down (yes that is a technical term). I even used a glue stick as a little rolling pin to flatten it all down evenly. Now let it cool completely! Otherwise, the glue could still stick to the parchment paper as you try to peel it off.
Peel it off the paper and cut off all the excess. Yes, you will get glitter all over the place... sorry about that. I didn't say this method was completely perfected!
See, the hot glue makes it nice and bendy and keeps all that pretty glitter trapped in the thick glue.
That's it, now glue everything down to ribbon with more hot glue. It can be a little tricky glueing already glittered hearts together so you may have to work with those a little more.
For the backs, I like a little give so I used a couple of different elastic options. You could always just tie the ribbon on if you don't want to sew anything. I also glued some onto a headband and it worked out as well. In fact, I kind of like these kind of headbands better than the around the head ones with my short hair.
the day I made these I wasn't feeling very photogenic so I snapped some iPhone photos tonight of me wearing these :)
Since one of my big birthday goals is weekly DIY posts and it is February I thought I would start off with some Valentine DIYs. If you're not into the lovey dovey holiday don't worry, you can change up these projects to go along with anything. I think this project in particular would look great with black glitter for anti-valentines.
You can really be as simple or elaborate with your supplies as you want. I used pre-made card banks from hobby lobby (but you can cut your own from card stock), Paper Glue, Glitter, double stick tape, scissors, paper trimmer, and a couple of border punches (these are a new obsession of mine and I keep buying them when they are 50% off or I have a coupon so you might see them in a few diys throughout the year). This isn't pictured, but blue painters tape could come in handy too, but it's not required.
You're going to use two cards for this project. Trim up the edges so they are aligned when you over lap one card on top of the other then on the top card cut off about half an inch. Punch the edge that you trimmed. Now when you put the two cards together you'll have this edge that we're going to glitter.
Tape off the edge if you want, then add the glue. I painted it on nice and thick. The thicker the glue, the better your glitter will stick. Cover the whole surface with glitter. Tap off the excess and peel off the tape while the glue is still wet. Let the glue dry. Make sure you do this a day before you really need to so everything can be completely dry before the next step.
Your glittered card will be wrinkled from the glue but don't worry! Iron the card (glitter side down) on a no-steam setting and it will crisp right up.
*My friend Reagan says "Chin-up buttercup" all the time so this is a little nod to her :).
Use your double stick tape to tape all the edges of the card together get as close to the edge as you can if you overlap you can always trim the tape off later. Trim up the edges when you're done if you need to and fill it in with your own heartfelt message.
Want more fun Valentine's day inspiration? Check out the tutorial page! Valentine's Day is apparently one of my favorite holidays to do tutorials for.
We had a really low key Christmas at my parent's house this year. It was nice not having to worry about a whole lot of family or holiday events. It was really nice getting to spend quality time with my mom and Sheldon really enjoyed getting to spend quality time with their cable watching bowl games. We did a lot of baking and cooking including making sinful cinnamon rolls and the family tradition of making homemade egg noodles (something my grandpa did for every family holiday meal).
My mom surprised me with a quilt that she finally finished making for me after 11 years.
This tag is on the back of it.
It is king sized and was hand quilted. It was pretty much the quilt that got her started with quilting and she's made many quilts since this one. I'm so happy that she finally finished my quilt. We're going to sleep with it tonight as my mom told me that I have to use it at least once for good luck. We'll use it a lot once we have a bigger bed.
I also got a Red Velvet First Date dress from my parents! I've wanted one of the plus size dresses from this line since they were released, but funds were never available when I thought about getting one, so I was very happy that my mom listened to my hints :)
I think it's a little short for work so it will have to be a going out dress, but I'm totally in love with it!
Sheldon spoiled me with new earrings, two vintage aprons for my collection, the 24 color set of Martha Stewart glitter and more fun totally Dana things. He knows me well.
I got Sheldon a humidor and some other very Sheldon things.
The dogs really enjoyed the antlers Santa Paws left in their stockings.
Dash has since decided that both of them are his and often tries to chew on them both at the same time, greedy bastard.
All I wanted was a picture of the two dogs sitting in front of the tree. Dewey would have absolutely nothing to do with this idea and Dash made it incredibly hard and decided to conveniently forget how to sit.
We haven't taken them off since Sunday, sadly.
As I said last week, our Christmas cards have turned into quite the ordeal over the years. The first year was really thrown together at the last minute. Sheldon had this idea to take a picture of us dressed up fancy in front of a fireplace with the dogs, I had an idea of us in ugly Christmas sweaters. We couldn't decide which to take so we took both and I photoshopped the Christmas sweater pic over the mantle like it was the previous year's photo. We don't have a fireplace so we went to a friends house who has one and he took our photo. It was pretty frantic and all done in like 10 minutes.
The next year, we had a plan in place early on, then Bella passed away and we decided we didn't want to do our photo without her. But at the last minute, I got the bug and made our costumes for a blog party I was a part of and then turned our dining room into a winter wonderland in one afternoon when Sheldon was away. Could you imagine coming home to this?
We added Bella's embroidered portrait to the tree so she could be in the photo with us. I'm still sad that we didn't get to have her in the photo with her little antlers on. It would have been sooo cute! The only thing photoshopped into this picture is the text "happy holidays". We opted to print these as photos really cheaply through bonusprint who at the time was the cheapest for getting 125 5x7s printed. I backed these cards with card stock and a message from us and Dewey's paw print.
I thought I'd share our process for any of you that might want to do the same thing next year.
We usually think of ideas for our card all year long. Sheldon is really great at coming up with the idea for the card and I'm really good at all the visual details and technical issues (basically putting his idea to life). This year we had a really awesome idea (The Grinch) and then we got Dash and couldn't really figure out how to fit him into our plan so Sheldon decided it would be fun for the photo to be of us opening presents on Christmas morning with him being disheveled and bummed to open the box with Dewey and me being excited to open the box with the new puppy.
Every year I try to find some kind of visual for me to get my creative juices flowing. This image conveyed what we wanted the first year. Last year was of course elf. This year I came across this photo on pinterest and knew it would be the visual inspiration for our photo this year.
The next thing I do is combine Sheldon's idea with the visual inspiration and start making a list of what we will need to pull off our photo. This year was actually really easy. We have a huge roll of kraft paper that we wrap all of our presents with and we had a bunch of chalk left over from our wedding (backdrop finished). I had two sets of sock monkey pajamas that we could wear to be cute and matchy and we had boxes from previous craft show props we could put the dogs in. We also set up a time-line.
We usually set one day to do all the set-up and photography. This year since the backdrop was so big, getting everything done in one day was a must because it covered the whole wall (door included) in our living room.We ended up having to do it all in an evening after work because our weekends were all crazy. In one night, we (me and my friend Meg) drew the backdrop. Then it took the three of us to hang it up.
It was probably 11 by the time all of that was finished. Then I set up the camera (with our remote) and lighting. This is when the fun happens. We had a lot of issues with the dogs this year and had to call in reinforcements (you can see the outtakes below). Levi came over and was able to keep the dog's attention enough for us to get enough photos. He would make a sound to get them to look at him then take the photo using the remote. He really was a lifesaver this year.
Edit, Design, and Print
I edited this photo pretty minimally. I smoothed out the background and lightened it up a bit. We usually just pop the photo into a pre-made photo card design. Last year we didn't but it was a lot of work making the backs for all of the cards. Picking a design is always hard for us. Sheldon doesn't like anything too girly and of course I always go for pink ;) The photo is always the most important part though is it's often difficult to find a pre-made layout that works with the photo. This year, I just happened to come across a perfect one! The colors matched and everything!! Next year, we're picking out the design we want before we take the photo so I can make sure the photo will fit the card.
Like I said, it is a process, but it's worth it in the end. We always have fun and end up with a great photo in the end. And I didn't say this before but Sheldon hates being photographed unless we're doing something silly so this is pretty much my only way to get photos of us together ;)
Ok, Ok, Here are the outtakes from the last two years. I lost the photos from the first year when our laptop got stolen :(
When I was growing up my mom used to go to ornament parties where everyone would bring ornaments and a dish (with recipe card) and at the end of the day you had like 20 ornaments and recipes to take home. I participated in a couple of these and have a really big stash of homemade ornaments. This year I decided I wanted to start the tradition of making my nieces an ornament every year. When my friend Amy shared this blog post with me I knew my nieces needed candy filled ornaments :) I found these really cute heart shaped glass ornaments at Michael's that were perfectly sized to go on the top of their Christmas Presents.
However, when I tried to make them using varnish like Little Gray Fox suggested, my ornament turned into this:
Not pretty! I think I didn't wait long enough for it to get tacky enough to add the sprinkles or I used the wrong kind of varnish. Oh well.
So I just filled the suckers up and added hot glue to the top so no little ones would try to pry out the sprinkles and put the caps back on. The ornaments were small enough that they weren't too heavy. I think I'll try the varnish thing again sometime, I have a dream of covering my white tree with candy type ornaments one day.
I have a huge collection of sprinkles to choose from so I ended up with this assortment of ornaments for the girls.
I had a couple of ornaments left and this huge container of yarn ends from my granny a day project (not sure why I'm keeping them, but I am) so I made a couple of yarn ornaments too.
Super easy, fairly inexpensive handmade ornaments! Now my wheels are turning for next year's ornaments.
Do you have a lot of handmade ornaments or do you tend to gravitate towards other types of ornaments. For me, the last two years have been all about the colored balls on a white tree, but next year I think I'll pull out the handmade ones again.