Monday, December 16, 2013

DG Rockers

Despite not having posting any cards lately, I have been crafting every once in a while.  Since I've had the time, I've actually been taking custom orders, which are fun because they can be somewhat challenging.  However, they can sometimes be frustrating too because I feel as if I put extra pressure on myself to make sure the card is up to the standards of someone's request.  For the most part though, I end up pretty happy with the final products, and I hope that my customers are equally as pleased.

One of the orders I had to fill was for Darvin and Teresa from DG ROCKERS (Facebook, website).  I know Darvin and Teresa from my church.  In fact, I've known Darvin since we were both kids, so I think it's pretty amazing to think that years later, we could somewhat collaborate on a great cause as "adults"!  He runs a music school in Brooklyn, and he's focused not only on teaching different instruments but also providing a community for the youth.  I know that the kids who are there like stopping by even just to hang out and jam, and I really respect Darvin and Teresa for doing something that makes a difference in their lives.  For more information about what they do and what they offer, you can check out the links I posted above.

Recently they had a campaign on indiegogo, which is a funding platform.  They wanted to raise money to put together a CD of their original songs.  They asked me to make thank you cards so that they could send them to contributors.  I knew right off the bat that I would use the guitar cut from my Stamping Solutions Cricut cartridge because that's kind of the only guitar cut I had!  I actually think this was the first time I used this cartridge too, and looking at what's on it, I'm really excited to use it again for more simplistic cards.  I love when that happens, don't you?

I wasn't given many specifics with the card, and for DAYS I stressed about it because I didn't know what to do.  It's strange because when TOO many specifics are given or too few specifics are given, I get much too anxious about it when it should all be fun since it is crafting.  I spent some time on Pinterest to get card layout ideas, and I came across a card that split up the space with blocks of color and wanted to do the same.

Here is the completed card!  I used Pink by Design's "thanks" sentiment from "Big Thoughts."  I was happy with how it turned out because of the color choice as well.  I tend to always think in primary colors, so I asked Howard for some suggestions.  I showed him the Recollection paper that I had, and he pointed out that the colors in one pack worked well together, so I didn't have to try to mix and match between packs.

I sent the picture to them to see if they liked it.  Darvin then asked if I could incorporate their name on the front, so I actually had to redesign the entire card.  I was a bit disappointed that I had to rework what I thought was a great card because there was no way for me to add "DG ROCKERS" to the front because of the font of the sentiment.  After attempting to use alphabet stamps to messily spell it out, I had to accept the fact that this would require starting from scratch.

The resulting card is WAY better than the original, in my opinion!  This is the quick picture I snapped to send to them to get the okay before mass producing!

And WAHOO!  I got the okay to complete the order!  I decided to use all 5 colors from that same paper pack and cut out the guitars to layer on the card.  I wanted their business name to be a focal point, so I eliminated the "thanks" and welded the letters together.  I did use a larger sized card than the typical A2 size so that I could use two mats.  I'm ecstatic with the final result because the letters cut out so  perfectly.

Colorful yet clean.  I know it's slightly weird to be a fan of your own work, but I'm pretty confident standing behind this card!  I guess being challenged for round 2 really made me think more outside of the box of what I would typically do.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Smell Goods"

Because of my recent love of Bath & Body Works products, I've come across a bunch of posts and videos (okay, so it's not really coming across them when I looked for them) and the term "smell goods" came up to describe the items quite a few times.  It stuck in my head, and I'm now VERY into smell goods!  It really actually started when CVS had a great deal on Renuzit Cones.  I bought a bunch of them with coupons just so that we could use them in our bathroom.  They look really pretty on the shelf after you take off all the paper it's wrapped in, and it does provide a nice, light scent in the small space.  I didn't think scents could totally change the atmosphere.  I guess I was so used to the idea of strong and sometimes offensive scents because people I knew growing up used things like potpourri.  Let me tell you, these things are SO much better than potpourri.

On Cyber Monday, I placed a small order on the BBW website.  At a certain time of the day, they had online exclusive scents for only $5 each.  It took a while because they got pretty backed up, but I finally got my package in the mail yesterday!  The box was a little torn in some places, but I wasn't too concerned since I didn't order candles or anything that could have been broken.  But look at the design!  It's an awesome advertisement for their own company!

I ordered 2 Dancing Waters shower gels, 2 Rainkissed Leaves shower gels, and 1 Wild Honeysuckle shower gel.  I also chose to get a triple moisture body cream in Rainkissed Leaves as well.  Wild Honeysuckle was the only one I took a "risk" on because I had never smelled it before, but it got great reviews on the site and is considered a top rated scent.  They also provide the fragrance notes so I can see what I like and don't like to help me make my decisions.  I still wouldn't suggest doing this for options that they have in the store because it's much easier to just test out scents in person.  But thankfully, I didn't have an issue with this new one.  I can't pick up all the "notes," but it has a light, honey scent that would seem very refreshing in the shower.

The other two I knew I loved because I had picked up foaming soaps when these scents were still available in the stores years ago.  The only reason I had the opportunity to get them was because I had gotten lotions from students that I exchanged for soaps because I wasn't into their lotions yet.  Dancing Waters and Rainkissed Leaves are good because they're not girly scents, and I think that even Howard could use them if he wanted to.  I had read that Rainkissed Leaves is similar to the scent of some Disney World resorts (I've seen it linked to the Polynesian or Beach Club, so even though I didn't know that beforehand, I think it's pretty cool to have a little bit of WDW at home too).  I didn't use any of them yet though because I was still feeling girly last night and chose to stick with Paris Amour.  

I did test out the triple moisture body cream, and it is great!  I love just how smooth my hands get with the BBW lotions.  They seem to work better than Nivea does when it comes to dry skin (versus slightly damp skin after coming out of the shower), which is funny because I stocked up on a LOT of Nivea by paying next to nothing at CVS.  Don't worry though!  It ends up that a lot of my family members needed lotion too, so I recently gave a bottle to my brother and his wife and then we have two others ready to give to my in-laws and my sister-in-law and her husband.  I don't really know long-term which is the better one, but really at this point, all I can suggest to you is to stay moisturized with something whether you want it to be scent-free or not!  Haha.

As long as I continue to use these products, I don't feel bad about purchases.  I also know that I'm getting the best deals with sales and coupons, and the items really do last a long time!  Because I have the six 3-wick candles, I can rotate a scent each day, so I don't burn through one of them too quickly and feel that I need to buy more.  I love how cozy it makes the apartment feel, and it actually encourages me to clean, haha.  I know that's strange, but the calming scents are with me whether I'm washing dishes or doing laundry.  Don't worry; I don't leave the candles unattended.  With our small space, there really is no way to actually do that anyway!  

I still get excited every morning when I have to decide what candle to burn that day, and I get excited each night as I decide what shower gel and what lotion to use!  I am eager for the semi annual sale that starts after Christmas, but I won't be spending money out of pocket for that.  I had just about 5,000 credit card reward points expiring at the end of the year, so I exchanged it for a BBW gift card!

In the past, I only used reward points on craft purchases (it's how I got my Cricut and Cuttlebug machines), but now I've got a new interest.  I still craft, but it's just in an apartment that now has "smell goods"!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Would You Light My Candle?

There are a bunch of songs that Howard and I often sing in the midst of whatever household chore we're doing at the moment, and one of the songs that comes into rotation for me is "Light My Candle" from Rent.  Other than singing about candles, however, the only time I considered their usefulness was during blackouts.  We utilized a small-sized candle during Hurricane Sandy when we were without power for a good amount of time.  The flickering light was enough to help us see in our studio apartment at night, but once the electricity was restored, the candle never needed to be used again and was put away in the cabinet.  

Recently, there has been a drastic change in how I feel about candles!  One of my DIS friends, Alicia, posted a picture on Instagram after she went to Bath & Body Works and stocked up on her favorite scent called "Flannel."  It intrigued me because it just seemed like it'd be such a warm and cozy scent during these cold months.  

(Photo courtesy of Alicia, @leasha_burns)

When Howard and I went to the mall to return some items from my online orders, I asked if we could stop by the store so I could check out the scent.  We couldn't find it at first, so Howard asked a very nice employee.  He asked, "Do you have something called flannel?" and she said, "What is that?"  Haha, she was able to find the candles for us as you can see below.

There was no sale on the big 3-wick candles, so paying $20 was completely out of the question!  I also didn't have any coupons either.  Despite that, I still decided to purchase mini candles because they were 3 for $10.  It was so strange that I was willing to part with my money, but I had subbed for three days in a row that week, so I felt that it was okay for me to splurge!

The mini candles were perfect in that they gave me an option to choose different scents and to also see if I really would love burning them at home.  I chose Flannel, Mahogany Teakwood, and Sparkling Icicles.  I'm really not the right person to describe scents, but basically I really dislike sweet scents and am not that big of a fan of florals either.  Fruity would be okay depending on its strength.  These candles, however, are not sweet or floral.  The Flannel and Mahogany Teakwood actually smell like men's cologne or something like that.  They have deeper scents, which work perfectly for winter seasons and because I'm married and have a guy with me too!  I have read that Mahogany Teakwood smells like the A&F store, but I'm not a good judge of that because I've never been to one.  Well, scratch that ... I think I went in there once because my mom had to get a gift card.

At home, I immediately began using one of them.  I took this picture and now realize why one of them is tunneling badly!  I didn't let the top layer of wax melt completely before blowing it out, so it hardened unevenly and keeps burning that way now.  I took a paperclip and tried to even it out, but it does look a bit messy now.  I just don't want to waste any wax.  Oh well, that was my fault for not reading about it earlier!  I have had more success since then!    

A few days later, we were back in the mall area again to do some grocery shopping.  When we have the time and the energy, we like to stop by the mall to trade Vinylmation at the Disney Store.  We've gotten some really good ones by stopping by every once in a while!  It also happened to be the same day that they had Room Perfume on sale at Bath & Body Works!  I saw it on Instagram because one of the couponing girls I follow posted it.  Even though I have submitted my email address in the store and on the website, I'm still not getting emails!  At least there's still plenty of other ways to find out news like this via social media!

I figured it'd be nice to have room sprays for the times when lighting a candle isn't possible.  I want to be completely safe, of course, so if it's not in sight, I don't want to light it.  I did choose 2 of the room perfumes after testing a few out.  Mahogany Teakwood just had to come home with me because it's that good.  I also initially had a different scent in my hand for the second one, but then I saw they had a few Peach Bellini ones left in the corner of the shelf!  Howard and I both LOVE this one because peach stuff is so yummy!  This stuff is really strong and lasts, so the directions are completely right when they say just spray twice!  With our studio apartment, I only have to spray once!  This also seems like a nice thing to bring on vacation because sometimes rooms don't smell the greatest if the carpet is old.  I have a travel-sized Febreeze for that purpose, but this seems like it'd work too!  The only reason I wouldn't want to use it though is because of the people who stay in the room afterwards and any potential allergies.

You'd think my purchases at Bath & Body Works would end there, right?  I mean, how many updates have I posted about saving tons of money at CVS?  Well, sorry to disappoint, but with Black Friday coming up, I just had to get some more!  I was hoping the 3-wick candles would be on sale, and sure enough, Alicia let me know on Instagram that they were going to be 2 for $22!  I also screen shot this page on IG to reassure myself that I had a few days to get the candles in case I couldn't make it out on Black Friday.

I was anticipating the visit to the store, but I also looked online to see if I could get some good deals that way and not be hassled by driving to the mall and making my way through the crowds.  However, there was the cost of shipping and the fact that you could only use multiple coupons in the store, so it just didn't seem worth it to order online.  One of my other DIS friends, Dani, is a BBW fanatic too and took a picture of her HUGE haul for only $127!  That's some HUGE savings if you know the retail prices of the individual items.  I got a ton of advice from her in terms of what I should do to stack coupons and how I could maximize my savings.  It really did help SO much!

(Photo courtesy of Dani, @dmags)

I drove to the mall close to 2pm or so.  I can't remember the exactly time, but I know that many of the big Black Friday deals were over at 1pm.  I was hoping to avoid big crowds.  Thankfully, finding parking wasn't a problem, and though the mall was crowded, I didn't have any issues maneuvering outside of the stores.  Inside the stores was a different story, but I'm sure it was even worse just hours before!  There were a few people who were "rude" in that they just didn't seem very self-aware.  For example, a mom and daughter were smelling candles when I was there at the same time.  Instead of going around me, they just kept reaching across me because they were just so intent on smelling all of them on the shelves regardless of the fact that I was standing right there.  I backed away and let them go and moved back to my spot.

There were plenty of employees on the floor to help out with questions and suggestions.  I also realized afterwards that they need a lot of people to make sure people aren't shoplifting especially when the store is so crowded.  I liked having them around though because they had bags to fill with TONS of candles and to inform me of special prices.  I really appreciated the one who let me know of their deals even though I was solely there for candles.  She let me know about the special Buttercream Mint candle, which was a Limited Edition candle.  I knew I wouldn't be interested in it though, but like I said, I was grateful for her assistance because she also answered my question about coupons on my phone.  It made me feel more at ease with shopping there since I still felt out of my element in the store.

So what did I get?  This is what $129 worth of candles looks like!

I chose 6 of the 3-wick candles (I actually contemplated getting 9!).  The top row of candles is the same as my mini candles, which I loved so much that I knew I'd want them in the 3-wicks.  The bottom row are also scents that I knew Howard liked because we had tested them during one of the earlier trips.  Peach Bellini and Cranberry Pear Bellini are of course fruity, but the Black Tie one is another masculine scent.  Those 6 candles should have been $66 altogether with the 2 for $22 sale.

BUT utilizing coupons on top of the sales, I was actually able to pay only $36 for ALL of it!  The new cashier ringing up my purchase had an issue scanning my $10 off $30 coupons, so the seasoned cashier to her right told her to split it into two transactions instead.  Later on, I realized she was probably forgetting to press a button between coupons, but the way she did it worked out to my benefit anyway.  

Each transaction had 3 of the big candles and 1 mini candle.  I used a $10 off $30 coupon that I got from my previous purchases, a free mini candle with purchase coupon that she scanned from my phone, and a 20% off coupon that was also scanned from my phone.  I initially only had 1 mini candle (retails $4.50), but since she split it up, I asked her if I could go get another one and she was fine with it!  I used the same coupons on the second set.  For a moment, I was afraid it wouldn't go through again because the seasoned cashier said something quietly about how the 20% coupon wouldn't work but she said that my cashier could try it to see.  I knew that it would go through because of the previous transaction with the same exact items!  Each purchase was a little over $17, so I was SUPER happy.  The smart me might have gone back to get more to do it one more time since each big candle was about $6, but I figured if I'm really going to get stuck on candles, I might want some of the spring/summer scents that come out when it gets warmer out!

For the most part, I've been burning a candle EVERY SINGLE DAY I've been home since I purchased them.  They really are so delightful because our apartment doesn't really feel like OUR apartment.  You know how your house has a certain smell to it that you sometimes can't smell but others can?  Our place doesn't have that.  When we walk in the hallway, it can smell like whatever our neighbors are cooking.  Then when we walk into our actual apartment, it just doesn't smell very good based on whatever scents have drifted in (our door doesn't fit very tightly; even at night we see the light from the hall coming in from the sides and bottom of the door).  Having candles has made it so that there's a pleasant aroma!  What's amazing is that the big candles have such an awesome throw so that it really does fill the entire room!  Even after we've left for a few hours, we can return to have a faint smell in the air.  It makes it so much more inviting.

Clearly, I have gotten hooked into the Bath & Body Works world, and I'm not sorry about it!  I'll have to make sure I'm getting the BEST deals though, so the next time I purchase will be during the semi annual sale after Christmas!  I'm already SUPER excited!  I guess I can justify it by knowing that I save SO much at CVS, which gives me some spending money at BBW, right?  Right.