Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Karber Challenge #49: Hobbies & Leisure Activities

A while back, Karber released a freebie image that I was excited to save since it was something I never would purchase on my own.  I'm all about cutesy images, which is why I have Karber's Millie and Leslie digi stamps.  This gave me an opportunity to work with something new.

I actually enjoyed making this card although I admit it was a bit difficult to color!  I'm all about thicker lines, haha, because I'm like a kid and sometimes have issues staying within the lines.

I added 2 strips of patterned paper to the back to keep more of the white on the card.  The image was printed rather large, so I didn't want anything else to draw attention away from it.  The sentiment is from Pink by Design's set called "Love Always."  Maybe I'll work with different digi images again in the future!

Ink It Pink: "... the school bell is ringing!" (PbD11)

The latest Ink It Pink challenge at Pink by Design is to use school supplies on a project.  I don't really have to buy school supplies anymore even though I'm a teacher because the few things I need are provided by the school, which means I don't have any here!  But despite not being a student myself for many years, I still have plenty of looseleaf!  I knew that I wanted to do something with the looseleaf instead of just using it as a background paper, so I used my new Fiskars heart punch.

I layered the hearts on primary color squares because they just remind me of school!  I also needed the hearts and the light blue lines to pop out more to be seen.  Of course, I had to use one of my top 5 favorite PBD stamp sets called "Our Kids," which I guess is very fitting for this challenge!

When toying with ideas on how to place it on the card, I had the idea to use the Martha Stewart stars border punch because that reminds me of school too!  I chose black so that it would be completely different than the blue, yellow, and red, but then I chose to add white embroiderly floss all over it because it reminded me of chalk on a chalkboard (thankfully, we use dry erase at my school because my hands would get all chalky every day!).

Now I'm curious to know what the next Ink It Pink challenge is going to be!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Wedding: Dreamlite Photography

A Review of Our Wedding Photographers: Dreamlite Photography (website / Facebook)

As I stated in my own personal vows, I was never quite ready to be a bride even though I was definitely ready to be a wife.  Though my high school years were filled with hours spent online looking at bouquets and favors and mentally making lists of the things I liked, when it came down to actually doing it 10 years later, I wasn't interested.  All of the items on my "I-really-want-to-have-these-things-for-my-wedding" became a short "I-only-NEED-3-things" list.  Those things included the following: (1) a simple dress that didn't require an entourage for me to do basic tasks, (2) a church and a reception venue that had natural lighting and no frou-frou qualities, and lastly (3) a duo of great photographers.  I just wanted to be married and not deal with all the intricacies of wedding planning for our day in May 2012.

I didn't know where to start when it came to the photography, so I posted on my Facebook wall and asked for suggestions.  We got links to photographers that had more of a "couture" and runway style and photographers that cost an arm, a leg, and quite possibly a few internal organs.  It wasn't until one of my church friends recommended Dreamlite that the search for this particular vendor was over in my mind.  I sent the link to my guy, Howard, and he agreed that they had the exact look and style we wanted.  We wanted pictures that captured the candid moments of our wedding as well as those posed shots that wouldn't look stiff and rigid.

Contacting Dreamlite was the next step, and it only confirmed that we had found our photographers.  From that email onward, Dreamlite became Jon and Howie for us.  It was no longer just a photography vendor but two guys that we soon grew to know more personally.  Their patience for us was astounding!  I initially contacted them in July of 2010, and we didn't officially sign any contracts until August of 2011!  During that year, we exchanged many emails about their photo packages and constantly changing dates.  We also asked them for recommendations about other vendors.  Jon and Howie were willing to answer any questions about wedding planning even if it had nothing to do with photography.  We really appreciated their honesty and genuine opinions about all the details of the industry.

A year after that initial email, we met with Jon and Howie at my local Panera.  I was grateful that they were willing to come in from New Jersey to Staten Island.  Howard and I showed up earlier than the meet time, and we sat in the car for a little bit because I was nervous!  I admit that I don't like meeting new people and dealing with new situations, but eventually, we went in and found that they were already there set up!  My first thought was a positive one because I too am a stickler for not just punctuality but being earlier than the designated time!  The meeting flowed as I asked them what I thought were silly questions.  Jon and Howie answered everything with such professionalism and humility that Howard and I felt relieved that they had wanted to meet with us.  We never felt pressured, and they were the ones that actually encouraged us to think more about whether they would fit into our wedding day and to look over the contract to ask them anything else.  At that point, we really didn't have many more questions since they had shown us sample albums and gone through the minutiae of the contract.

Before the wedding, we discussed via email the schedule for the day and any specific shots that we wanted.  They told us that if we came up with anything else, we should let them know.  I sent them a few strange requests (ex. I wanted pictures with the chairs at the venue because they were my favorite!) and a picture that we wanted to recreate.  They kept a list of everything as well as the photo on their phones so that I didn't have to worry about anything on the day of.  It was a relief having responsible people on our "team" for our wedding.

I thought that it'd be awkward having photographers take pictures of us all day long.  We didn't have a chance to go through our engagement session before the wedding because we were too busy, but it ended up not being an issue at all.  Jon was scheduled to be at my house in SI, and Howie went to Howard's house in Brooklyn.  My bridesmaids and I literally just went about our day getting ready as Jon took pictures of our hair and makeup along with some shots of my cousins making their breakfast and my eating it.  I really enjoyed seeing those pictures of everything we did.  Jon then went around and took pictures of details in my parents' house, including my mom's calendar with our wedding date on it and scattered wedding things we had around.  My mom was surprised that he was taking my shoes out on the balcony since the wood was rather worn and weathered, but Jon made it work!

During that hour or two of preparation, I had a few ideas pop into my head as well.  It was very easy to tell Jon what else I wanted, that I wanted pictures of my Build-A-Bear from Howard (yes, I am 27 with my own teddy bear) and I wanted him to capture my putting my vows together on cardstock since I'm interested in papercrafting.  I never felt any awkwardness even though I thought it'd be odd having people I didn't know very well in the house, but it just never crossed my mind.  Jon knew exactly how to handle all situations, and he was extremely polite and respectful to my parents who were just meeting him for the first time.  My parents warmed up to him very quickly as did my bridesmaids.  I was loving the way my morning was going!

Jon got some last few shots before heading to the church.  We had discussed earlier whether or not they'd be in the limo with us, but they preferred driving to and from the venues on their own.  It worked out better that way because they were there to get arrival shots.  It was also nice to have some moments in the limo with my parents and my 2 bridesmaids.  Jon and Howie also communicated with each other to make sure that Howard was in the church where he couldn't see me before the ceremony.  They literally made things easier on us and took charge of a lot of the things I would normally feel I had to handle myself.

The benefit of having two photographers working together is that not only did we have separate "getting ready" photos, we also got two different views during the ceremony.  One stayed at the front, and one stayed at the back when I was walking down the aisle so we didn't feel like anything was missing when we got our pictures.  They caught the sentimental moments, the glances and faces Howard and I made to each other, and even the funny ones, like when our best man handed us the wrong rings!  They really captured the moments, which was important especially since we didn't have an official videographer.

When the ceremony was over, we had to take group photos at the front of the sanctuary.  This was a little stressful for me because both of our families are rather large.  Plus, everyone and their grandmother had a camera, which meant we were standing there with the same people for longer than needed!  I was getting a little impatient because I wanted to get to our venue at Snug Harbor to take pictures with our bridal party.  If Jon and Howie felt any of the impatience that we were feeling, they didn't show it at all.  What was great was that they took a picture of the huge group taking pictures of us!  It definitely was a memory that we might not have wanted to have at the moment, but it's funny to see it now when the wedding is in the past!

Eventually we left the church and took the limo to the location of our reception.  We dropped off our belongings in the bridal suite and then headed out on the grounds to take photos.  Jon and Howie worked very well as a team, coming up with ideas for spots to take photos, testing the lighting, and doing all the technical stuff that I didn't understand at all.  I just really enjoyed the fact that I could trust them with the photos and not worry about anything.  After some great shots with our bridal party, Jon and Howie sent them back to eat during the cocktail hour so that Howard and I could have a more private session for just the two of us.  This was suggested to us by Dreamlite, and we couldn't have been happier about it!  We didn't really think much about it earlier, but if they hadn't encouraged us to set that time aside, we would've lost out on the majority of the pictures Howard and I really love!  They helped us out, giving us pointers in how to pose since before this point, Howard and I were all about those one-handed shots! We also told them during our Panera meeting that it was a little strange for us to be kissing in front of others, so they were very mindful of that fact.  It worked out extremely well that we didn't have an audience during our session!  It was just a lot more personal and private, which we really enjoyed!

When we returned for the reception, things moved very quickly.  I didn't see Jon and Howie as often since I was so consumed with everyone that was around, but in reality, they were everywhere because we got pictures of everything!  I wanted pictures of the food; they got it.  I wanted pictures of all my DIY touches; they got them.  The two-person team really works because one of them was always around to capture moments while the other could photograph details.  At one point, they asked for our rings and got some creative shots that Howard and I both love!

Howard and I had to go through the long process of taking pictures with every table.  It was a lot of "Oh, he just went to the bathroom" or "I don't know; she was just here," and I was wanting it all to be over with faster.  Howie followed us around without any problems, and I apologized numerous times for how long it was taking, but it didn't bother him at all.  I guess Jon and Howie have seen and experienced it all!  While we were dealing with those necessary but "boring" photos, Howie got a great shot of the table photo in the screen of someone's iPhone!  I liked how even in the more typical rounds of photographs, the two of them could still see other creative opportunities.

When the dancing finally picked up during the last hour, Jon and Howie caught so many of the hilarious moments.  They weren't afraid to literally get down on the floor to get the right shots.  Those were some of my favorites as well because everyone was just having fun, and they caught their laughter and enjoyment on camera.

At the end of reception, we said goodbye to our guests and were about to say goodbye to Jon and Howie.  Thankfully, they had kept in mind my request for photos with THE chair, so they set up a little area for a quick photo shoot.  I'm so glad that they remembered my list of must have photos so that it didn't have to cross my mind.  I was so relieved that the day was over, but I was also extremely glad that Dreamlite had made the day go by so smoothly!

What made the whole experience working with Dreamlite even better was that they posted teaser photos on their website the very next day!  Even though we got to see some pictures from our friends on Facebook, it was amazing to get a glimpse of what our professional photos would look like!  Then instead of having to wait months and months like I know others have had to do, we got our two wedding CDs within a month!  Would we recommend choosing Dreamlite?  You betcha!  Will we personally find a way to use them again?  Definitely!  Even though it's still way too early for this (we've been married for less than 3 months; I don't know why people are asking ...), Howard and I have already discussed how fun it'll be to get some family shots once we begin having kids.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ink It Pink: Get Your Punny On (PbD09)!

Since the Saturday celebration of Pink by Design's two-year anniversary, I've been crafting a lot more often. I decided to enter the Ink It Pink challenge for this week, which was to use one of the puns from PBD!  I decided to use two sets of PBD stamps called "Make It a Venti" and "Perk Up" on a simpler card.  As you can see from a few of my more recent cards, I'm trying to keep more white on the front.

I used paper piecing to get different patterns for the mugs.  I am loving paper piecing lately!  It makes it easier to put a card together since I still haven't mastered coloring with Copics (still don't have the right paper that won't bleed).  I went with a pink theme mainly because I have a lot of pink scraps!  I can imagine making a lot of the tall and short mugs with my scraps.  

I hope I can participate in the next challenge as well!  I think the challenge bug bit me once again!

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Bird Card for Two Real Birds!

I've been having fun keeping my cards clean and simple with a lot of white space.  Another thing I wanted to try doing was to place the elements on the card in a different spot.  I rarely only use the lower half, so that's what I wanted to do with this bird image from my new Recollections stamp set.  

The sentiment is from Pink by Design's "Spring Has Sprung" set.  I love how this bird kind of looks like a cute gumdrop, haha.  I wasn't sure what colors to use, so I actually took a look at Toucan Sam from Fruit Loops just to get an idea.  I didn't get into the purples and pinks, but it helped me decide on what colors to use for its beak.

When this card was put in my Facebook store, two of my regular customers purchased it, and that meant I had enough for the two chickens through World Vision!  The chickens will be given to a family that can then use it for nutrition and income due to the extra eggs and chickens!  I know it's not much, but it's a small way that I can use something I enjoy for the glory of God!  I want to spend my money on crafting things, but I know that I don't need anything more than I already have.  My only expense should be paper and adhesive when I need it.  Other than that, I just have to stop and think how buying one Cricut cartridge could provide food and the start of a small business venture for one needy family.

I hope to be able to donate money to get different animals as well!  Hmm, what's next on the list ...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cupcake Series #1

This past Monday, Howard and I went to run our errands, which included stops at the supermarkets.  It doesn't always include a stop at Michaels anymore, but I had a 50% competitor's coupon that I wanted to use on 12x12 Recollections cardstock (it's difficult when all the things you want to cut have green, and you don't have anymore green!).  Then I also got an email for $5 off $20 from the Michaels Loyalty program, so I figured it was the perfect time to go (I have never used any of my rewards before).  The Fiskars punches were also 50% off, so I had a general idea of what I was going to get.  When I brought my things up to the front, the $5 didn't come off because apparently the stuff that you used with the coupon doesn't count towards the $20. That didn't bother me that much since I had plans to get the paper anyway.  

So I went around and picked up some stamps that were being clearanced out.  That's the perfect stuff to get because you can't use any other coupons anyway!  I love the two sets that I got.  I had been eyeing the Recollections animal set ($2.99) for like, a year or whenever it first came out because of the bird, the zebra, and the chameleon!  So cute!  The cupcake stamp set ($1.50) was also something I picked up many times in the past as well but never purchased.  Cupcakes are perfect for anything ranging from "thinking of you" notes and birthday cards.    In my basket, I also had a Fiskars heart punch ($6.50 on sale) so I can have an easy punch to use for scraps and for a few card ideas I might like to try out.  To make up the rest of the money needed, I threw in a Versamark marker and a box of ATG tape (hopefully, my last box for a while since I'm participating in a tape share).

Anyway, I really liked the purchases I made especially with the $5 of "free stuff" (I see the tape as the free part since I normally always use 50% coupons on it).  Once I got back, I had some ideas swimming in my head.  I knew I wanted to paper piece the cupcake wrappers.  I chose some patterned paper scraps.

It was nice to do paper piecing to get some variety in cupcake wrappers instead of having to color it myself. Of course, the fussy cutting can take some time, but I like how it looks.

What's interesting is that Howard and I recently picked up cupcake wrappers so that we could make muffins.  We bought the plain ol' white ones because they were the cheapest, and I had a 20% coupon off of entire purchase at Michaels.  These would be so much prettier!  I struggled with the placement of the pieces of the card, but in the end, I decided to do 2 strips of the same patterned paper to bring it all together.  In my eyes, it worked out because I like CAS cards with all the white.  

I used a sentiment from Pink by Design's "Birthday, Birthday," which is a set of so many fonts of "Happy Birthday"!  I love it!  One to fit every type of card or space.  Since I got hooked on the white embossing, I had to do it again!  I think it works, don't you?

Took a while to get this done because I couldn't decide on what looked good, but I was happy with the final result.  Stay tuned for two other sets of cards using the other cupcake wrappers!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Cleaning Challenge (Um, PBD #14?)

After completing this past Saturday's 13 challenges for Pink by Design, the apartment was definitely messier than before I started!  With the time constraints, I ended up just piling all my materials behind me on my folding table so that I could move on to the next challenge once one was done.  After over 12 hours of crafting (minus the time to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner), I had crafting supplies everywhere!

This picture is a somewhat tidier version of what it looked like during the actual challenges because at least I pushed everything together.  I worked at the computer table that I share with Howard, so I had stuff like ink to the left of me and scraps and stamps under my monitor stand and my ATG to the right.  At some points, I even had materials in front of Howard!  The table behind me held scraps, my trimmer, MORE PBD stamps, and other odds and ends that I kept losing when I needed them.  I had a paper bag on the floor for scraps to recycle.  I also had my little pail of Copics and a few assorted Bics mixed in there as well.  Against the Expedit room divider, you can see my Cricut on the floor on the box.  I haven't yet set up its permanent residence.  On top of the DVDs on the top shelf, I put my Martha Stewart scoreboard as well as my box of buttons so that I'd have easy access to them as well.

Here's a close-up of the little table.  It's my intention to use this table to craft on directly as I did when I had it at my parents' house.  I bought it from IKEA cuz you know how much I love that place!.

My dear Howard was kind enough to take the photos of the cards for me so that I didn't have to spend time doing that.  I don't know how I would've been able to finish all of the cards and photograph as well!  They would've come out poorly!  We used the counter and the blue wall behind it.  I set up my Ott Lite there as well.  You can also see that as I took out paper stacks, I just plopped them down on one of our bar chairs since I didn't have time to put it away.  By the way, the chairs do not have their covers on them yet.  We're still in clean mode since finally got our washer/dryer recently, which means no more people in and out of our apartment!  I didn't want our actual covers to be put on them until it was just us.

The next night, I began tidying up by trimming my scraps to keep the pieces that are still usable.  There was one piece from my home decor project that I was going to toss, but Howard stopped me for a second.  I joked that I would hang it up, so I took a piece of tape and stuck it to my monitor as we watched the musical episode of Grey's Anatomy (the one episode that I made H watch that got him interested).  It's still on my monitor as we speak!  Haha, just kidding.

Was the mess worth it?  Definitely!  It got me into crafting mode!  I hope I take advantage of the rest of the summer break!  I mean, other than my wedding thank you cards (bridal shower thank you cards are almost done!), I have to get working on cards for the bake sale.  Pretty soon it'll be November!!!

Mini Cards Using Black Mats (and My Watermark!)

It's been a while since I really crafted, so it's been fun getting back into it.  I still have everything out since this past Saturday's Pink by Design marathon of challenges!  Howard and I did take pictures of the mess that was made, so I'll post those up soon.  I just wanted to show off some really simple mini cards that I made yesterday.

I know they're small, but the 3x3 cards are cute, in my opinion.  They're perfect for slipping into a bag or coat pocket as a surprise.  Plus, those strips are from the scraps that I accumulated when making the cards for my wedding favors.  I had accidentally purchased A1 envelopes last year, so I had to trim down the 8.5x11 cardstock.  I actually like the clean look of them.  I usually don't mat with black, but I think I'm going to have to do that more often!  The simplicity made it very easy since all I did was use 3 stamps from an Inkadinkado set called "Animal Hearts."

I was also hoping to make a bunch of mini cards to leave encouraging notes for my students, but I don't know that I'll have the time to do that.  I put this set (I have 5 sets in total) up in my Facebook store just for $2 with all proceeds going towards the chickens I have yet to get via World Vision! Determined to get the money sent before the new school year begins.

By the way, did you see my first ever watermark on the bottom right hand corner of the picture?  Howard designed it!  He was playing around with my logo for the past few days.  He split apart the logo he made for me into the roll and the heart.  I love it!