Saturday, September 15, 2012

~ Nina B Designs September Blog Hop ~ Trim the Tree

Finally, a post for you... =)

After a much needed summer break, the NinaB Designs team is back to showcase some of Nina's designs for our monthly hop. For this month's hop, Nina challenged us to create something with gift-giving in mind using some lovely dies. Here is my project:


In case you were wondering what my project has to do with gift-giving, as specified earlier, this is my answer:

Nina, I promise you that all I saw was "let's highlight the new dies in this blog-hop" and then I went and made my project. But anyway this is not the first time I did not follow instructions, so I know from experience that you are very forgiving haha.

So everybody, let's PRETEND that this card has EVERYTHING to do with gift-giving!! Send it to someone special with a gift! Wrap up the gift and paste the card on the outside!! There. It now has much to do with gift-giving.

The Nina-designed goodies I used on this card are Penny Black "Lace Delight" (lace stamp and sentiment) and Spellbinders "Sweet Folk Art" dies (tree and mini-heart die-cuts).

The tree is quite an unconventional look, yes I know... but then, I like odd things and this looked oddly nice enough. Generally, I hate the "throw a pile of stuff in the air and glue it where it lands" look, but it kind of looks like that on this card (a bit)... well nevermind.

We, the WORLD-FAMOUS NINA B DESIGNS TEAM, are giving away 2 prize packages 
(I typed "2 price packages" and then realized it didn't work).

Prize Package #1 includes Spellbinders Ironworks Accents and Motifs:
Prize #2 includes The Craft's Meow's Vintage Rides and Retired Layers of Colors Dotted Dahlias and Dotted Peonies Stamp sets (the middle one looks like a must-have stamp set. That's a hint to Nina as I don't even have one myself):

Winners will be picked randomly from 2 of the designers' blogs:

Nina Brackett * Beate Johns * Beatriz Jennings 
* Clare Buswell * Heather Jensen * Jennie Harper 
* Julie Overby * Lea Lawson * Linda Lucas 
Viola Mahr <-- this is me obviously

Everybody is welcome to comment and eligible to win. Nina will announce the winners on  September 22 on her blog. Due to the number of prizes being given away on her blog, she asks that the winners email (via Contact tab) her with their info within 4 days (till September 26) in order to claim the  prize. This will help with organization and avoiding confusion. Thanks for understanding! Finally, please consider liking the following Facebook pages that are represented/affiliated on today's hop, so you don't miss the latest news and happenings:
Penny Black Inc.

I hope we'll inspire you all today! Happy hopping!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

~ Looking Back and Looking Forward ~

Welcome to my new --- errrr --- OLD blog!
I made the decision to switch from typepad to blogger, as the time I was investing in posts definitely did not compensate for the amount of money typepad has been draining from me (argh). Very soon, it will be two years since I started blogging, and with the account-renewal deadline looming ahead, I felt this was the time to make a change. So welcome to my blogspot.
Consider this post a round-up of all my typepad days and a look-forward to what blogger will bring!

It was fun to browse the archives as I transferred all the posts from typepad to blogger. There were some I squealed at (I used to be so creative! and clever! when did I go downhill?)... and some, I blinked at and hurriedly scrolled past. But whether nice or horrid, every project post has been transferred here. These are some of those that triggered ..err.. the good memories:

1. From this post

2. From this post

3. From this post
-- If you won't beat me for saying it, these mini albums are so cute I think I want to hug the screen.

4. From this post
-- I need to do this again!!! (this = make cards)

~ ETSY ~
I started my etsy shop a year and a half ago as a means of supporting myself through my pre-working days. Let me take this opportunity to encourage those who have an etsy store for sharing your handmade projects with others: Do it for the fun of it, and not because you have a desperate need for money! Etsy is not the best way to earn the most out of your projects, but it's the community of people on it that make selling handmade projects so much fun and minimizes effort on the part of the seller.
My etsy stats show that within the space of a year or so, 308 items sold and the shop made a profit of $3,883.20 ... divided by twelve calendar months, that is really not a lot -- about $323.60 a month. Well actually that WAS quite a bit for a sideline, have-fun job as a then 19 y/o. The etsy store was only a platform from which I made many friends and repeat customers, who then purchased directly from me (via PayPal, which removed the painful etsy fees). All the money went to my music lessons, and helped to pay for project supplies and typepad fees (which I really could have avoided by being on blogger from the start... grrr).
Now that I have moved on to a full-time job, the etsy store is no longer a necessity. Not to mention that I also don't have the time to make anything to stock the store with! :) So for now, there is a glaring white page at One day maybe I will fill it with fun stuff again.
I hope my etsy story will encourage you if you have your own shop...
Most of all, have fun with it!

Wow, I think this has to have been one of the most amazing things that have come about from blogging. It started out as an adventurous streak in me to do something good for the cause of crafters -- ha. After creating free designs for some of my blog-friends, some of them insisted that pre-designed blog banners would be a good item in the etsy store. I did a few of those, and eventually moved on to custom designs with more complex navigations, specialized backgrounds, etc. I have learned TONS from doing hours of research and studying html, but still have a long way to go. By NO means am I a web-designer. I am more a collage graphics kind of person, but let's hope the technical skills will improve as the years go by.
Due to my schedule, I am no longer taking in design requests, but I may set up a few ready made designs to go in my etsy store soon.
Here are some of my very favorite designs in place -- click on the links to see more of the gadgets and bits I created to match:

This is totally random and just for fun, but this has been the most-pinned-pin from my pinterest boards...

That's basically it for the round-up post today. That was fun... and tiring. I SO need to get some sleep now...

Thank you, thank you all of you for visiting my little spot on the internet. I wish to continue inspiring and creating. Be back soon with some crafty posts for you.

Much love to all,
~ Vi

P.S. I'm still kind of setting up house here, so the navigation bar links are errr...... mostly broken... (sorry). Also, my sidebar is kind of in a mess, but I'll try to get that settled in the next few days =)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Erin Cobb's Clean Color ~ a review

Erin Cobb is a great photographer who is not paying me to do this post; I'm doing a review on Clean Color because it changed my life in the last two weeks (kind of), and when I find a good thing, I like to share it! =)

If you are like me - shoot terrible photos, still clueless about how most of your DSLR works, want a great way to edit your photos without wasting too much time - then Clean Color is for you. Throughout this post, I will be sharing photos I've taken, before and after clean color.


See what I mean? this is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad photo.


Just tweaking it in Photoshop Elements using the Clean Color workflow makes it so much better. I actually feel kind of pleased about how it looks now... (at least the people look like ~people~ instead of blue-faced aliens).

Photos are from a cute triple-wedding photoshoot at the park three weeks ago --- I love these adorable people =)


Eeek, I can't even really believe that the final product looks that great. It says nothing of my skill though. Everything good about it comes from Clean Color.

Definitely, I would encourage you to learn to take great photos from the starting point - when the camera is in your hands. It makes the editing process much easier. That said, I am kind of too lazy to refine my technique and I don't have many opportunities to shoot real live subjects, so for now, I will stick with Erin Cobb's workflow and editing process!

Here are some images that will prove to you it works on photos of your projects too!
These are some altered art wall hangings I created for a customer about a year ago (if I remember correctly, these were taken with a point-and-shoot camera, so let's see how that turned out)...



Not incredibly classy, but coming from a point-and-shoot, I think it's okay.


A close-up of the ruffled tissue flower.
It's been so long since I made something like that. Sigh.


I got to know about Clean Color through another great photographer - Karen Russell. Recently she shared a $50 sale on Clean Color, and I just made the deadline by an hour or so! The $50 sale is no longer on, but even for the regular price, I'd say it's a great, great video tool that you probably won't regret investing in.

What's covered in the program:
    - color editing
    - light adjustment
    - underexposure and overexposure correction
    - skin tone
    - other great stuff I can't remember right now
and the one I loved best?    - image and web-sharpening

Web-sharpening makes the photos absolutely pop. At first I didn't savor the almost "crunchy" look it gave, but after twiddling with the opacity and erasing sections, the end product is SO MUCH BETTER than the original look, and in Erin's words, "makes you want to reach out and touch the subject."

What you will need before you get clean color will be your camera (to take pictures), and photoshop / photoshop elements (to process the photos). On your initial run through the video, you're going to think THAT IS GOING TO TAKE TOO MUCH TIME TO DO ON EVERY PHOTO! (which is exactly what I thought), but after three or four pictures, you'll be doing a virtual sprint on every image, and will actually LOVE the editing process!

One more. This one is really not good, but it survived.


The two custom cards were made long long ago for another special customer, and I don't think I ever got around to sharing it here. The blue one was styled after this one, but made for a man. Don't know what he thought of the ribbons and lace and pearls and crystals, though ;) ...


Just barely salvaged. The color could do with some help! I tried. =(

And now I will jump off my Clean Color soapbox and wish you the BEST if you decide to take the plunge.
I hope the old projects kind of made up for the lack of scrappy stuff here lately.....

Lastly, my grubby toes say goodnight to you all.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

to surrender a precious dream


Often it is the shortest lives that go the longest ways and reach out the farthest to the most people.

I didn't know Joshua Eddy till his earthly work was done. It was through the sharing of his life testimony that I got to read his writings and received an enormous blessing. The original thoughts he wrote on "to surrender a precious dream" can be found here.

Thank you, Josh, for leaving a legacy of truth and spiritual perceptivity in the 19 years you had on this side of eternity. I know I'll be surrendering my dreams to God in the sanctuary of my heart.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

~ What's been happening around here ~

I just can't decide if I deserve to have a blog or not. Why do I keep one when I never post?

I make cards sometimes.. (sometime being in the past).


I leave cute things on my desk so they can get all dusty and make me sneeze..
(thank you Melissa for this pretty little gift. It's been sitting on my workspace since the day it came in the mail!) :)


I make more cards, and when someone wants to take one, they are supposed to put a cookie in it's place as payment (but they never do).


I never pack my stamps away. When I need one in particular, I rumble through the entire pile 'til I find what I need...


I have so many random, odd bits of funny things on the shelf above my desk. What is a pot doing in a basket, and that scrap piece of lace tied around the middle?! (my brain needs re-wiring).


On a more jolly note, I am busy with working life, continued music lessons and practice, and designing projects.

I am feeling especially happy with how Karen's blog banner turned out, so let me share it with you.


Thanks so much for letting me work with you on your blog, Karen.

Hugs to you, my friends.
May your weekend be filled with good things like pizza and ice cream.

And no prizes for guessing when I will be back to regular posting... :)


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

~ Nina.B.Designs blog hop #3 ~ die-cutting non-paper products

* Due to technical issues my post did not go live on time as scheduled; I sincerely apologize! It is up now (obviously) =) *

Welcome to another NinaB Designs blog hop. The NBD team and I have something exciting for you today. The challenge was for us to make something that uses the NinaB Designs Spellbinders die cuts from non-paper products on ourprojects. Did you know that Spellbinders dies can cut all kinds of material? Kim Hupke, the Educational Director of Spellbinders Paper Arts did a video showing all types of products you can cut with the dies that you can find HERE. For my project today, I die cut corrugated cardboard with NinaB Designs' Home Sweet Home dies (heart die).


Something seriously weird is going on with these pictures but ignore them will you?
For the corrugated hearts, I dusted the edges with some white ink and added gargantuan pearls to the centers.


I wish I could say the leaves were cut with dies too, but sadly, they were not. Nina, will you design leaf dies next??! PLEASE!!!!! My thumbs would thank you.


The sentiment is from this lovely, lovely stamp set.

Flower is by Prima, and the patterned papers are some new ones I picked up at the local scrappy store this past week.

I added the border and freckle details with some fine-tipped markers. I find I'm starting to drift back to the paper-piecing, pen-and-ink, scissors-and-glue style that I started out with. Along the way I've dabbled in clean-and-simple, shabby-chic (rather heavily in this one, lol), and even more graphic art styles. But back I am to the way I started. It's where I feel truly comfortable, and I am happy with it. Here's to more explorations in the wild and wonderful world of paper crafting! :)

Here are the dies I used:

Here are the prizes to be won.

Winners will be picked randomly from 5 of the designers' blogs:

Everybody is welcome to comment and be eligible to win. Nina will announce the winners on May 22 right here on her blog. Due to the number of prizes being given away on Nina's blog and her dependence on her mom to do the shipping, we have to ask that the winners email (via Contact tab) her with their info within 4 days (till May 26) in order to claim the prize. This will help with organization and avoiding confusion. Thanks for understanding! Finally, please consider liking the following Facebook pages that are represented on today's hop, so you don't miss the latest news and happenings:

I hope we've inspired you all today! Happy hopping!

Monday, April 16, 2012

~ Nina.B.Designs Blog-Hop #2 ~ and a Challenge

Welcome to the NinaB Designs's 2nd blog hop! We had a great time last month and we just want to thank you for your enthusiasm and encouraging words. The NBD team has new projects to show you today featuring NinaB Designs Spellbinders™ Paper Arts (Home Sweet Home and Sewing Elements), The Craft's Meow Stamps, and Want2Scrap bling. We have added a new twist to our hop. Not only do we have tons of inspiration for you, but we also are joining in the Crafty Friends' challenge that you can participate in. And of course, there will be prizes up for grabs! You will find more info below.

For my project, I used Spellbinders™ Sewing Elements for the scissor die-cut, Want2Scrap Classy Corners rhinestone embellishments, and The Craft's Meow Sew Lovely stamp set.



I die-cut two of the cute little scissors: one in cream and one in kraft, then cut the kraft one in half and layered it over the cream piece. A little rhinestone embellishment finishes off the scissor joint.


The rhinestone swirl embellishment was originally part of a frame, but I cut it to fit, as the entire piece was a bit too heavy for the whole effect of the card. Also, I can save the rest of the frame for another card next time!


Sorry for the visual-details-overload...

THE CHALLENGE: If you choose to participate in the challenge, create a new project that uses two die cuts. They don't have to come from two different die cut sets. Then, link it to the Crafty Friends' challenge blog. One participant will win the Sewing Elements dies. You can enter as many as you want. THE RULES: Leave a comment on as many blog hop stops as possible. FOUR commenters left on the NinaB Designs team blogs will be picked to win prizes. One comment per blog please. This is open to our international friends. Here are the links to the NBD team:

THE PRIZES: There are several prizes to be won. One Crafty Friends' challenge blog participant will be randomly picked to get the Spellbinders' Sewing Elements dies

Four commenters left on the NinaB Designs team blogs will be picked to receive the following:

The Craft's Meow's Lovely Birds set
Finally, please consider liking the following Facebook pages that are represented on today's hop:

We hope you enjoy the projects we're sharing with you today and enter the Crafty Friends challenge as well!

Thank you for visiting.

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