October 30, 2014

Tutorial: DIY Display Riser

My last three craft shows of the year are rapidly approaching. This was my first year of throwing my hat into the craft show ring. Since starting in April, my booth display has been in constant evolution. I created my final display piece just in time for the holidays - a display riser for my cards.

Before, I had the cards laid out on the table. I learned very quickly that in order to draw customers into your booth you have to let your products be easily visible. To do that, I needed a display that gave my cards height. Solution? A display riser!

I decided to try my hand at constructing one myself so I could make it to suit my needs. Mostly, I wanted a riser that would hold my cards securely because you never know how the wind will treat you if you're selling outside. To combat that issue, I added elastic around three of my display's steps.

Here's how I made my display riser:

2 pieces of large foam core board
Hot glue gun & glue sticks
Box cutter
Tape measure
Elastic {optional}
Kraft paper wrap {optional}

Step One. Create your riser sides. I measured 5 inches over and then 5 inches up, marking my stairs. Do this until you reach your desired height.

Step Two. Using your box cutter, cut out your sides. I used one sheet of my foam core board for the sides and used the second to create my stairs.

Step Three. Measure out your stairs every 5 inches on the second piece of foam core board and cut. 
Step Four. Let's assemble your risers. {If you'd like to wrap your riser like I did, now is when you'll want to wrap each piece individually.} Stand your side panels up using something to prop each up. Line your stairs up with your sides and glue to secure the stair to the side. Do this with each flat stair. 

Step Five. If you'd like to add the elastic as a securing mechanism, glue it tautly on your remaining stairs. Now, glue the vertical stairs onto your riser. 

There you have it! A DIY card display riser. For further instruction, I loosely followed this tutorial for reference.

Happy crafting!

October 23, 2014

How I Got A Silhouette Cameo for $162 Less Than Retail

PaperLark Studio has its Christmas present already - a Silhouette Cameo! I've been eyeballing this cutting machine for my business since last Christmas. After I spent two solid days slicing and dicing 200 program fans by hand for a wedding order last June, there was no doubt I needed to add a cutter of some sort to my equipment to save my thumbs from carpal tunnel.

With a retail price tag of $299 for just the Cameo, I knew it would be a pretty sizable purchase in order to get everything I needed for it. When you own your own business, a penny saved really is a penny earned {like seriously!}. Unfortunately, my usual go-to money saving tactic of using a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby or Michaels wouldn't work for this. These coupons don't apply to Silhouette cutting machines.

When I know that I'll be making dropping a good bit of money on a purchase, I price watch. By price watching, I'll know a good deal when I see one. Another good thing to do? Research the Black Friday price for the item. It has been my experience that this is usually when the company will offer the best, rock bottom price.

After I researched a little and price watched for a few months, I knew that the average low price for a Silhouette was $269 and usually came with a free bundle pack.

Now then, I'd like to introduce you to Google Shopping if you haven't yet formally met this time-saving tool. By searching for Silhouette Cameo, it will pull up every price from every place online that sells this sucker. In addition to saving you time from checking multiple sites, it'll also allow you to see where it is being sold at the lowest price.

I would check the price of the Silhouette on Google Shopping every couple of weeks. After a few months of routinely checking, Overstock.com had dropped its price to $229 with a pretty impressive bundle package.

Lastly, to knock a few extra dollars off my price, I checked Retail Me Not {which I love} for any applicable coupon code. There I found a code for 10% off + Free Shipping on any order over $50. With the coupon code, it brought my total to $209.99!

Here's a break down of what all I got and the numbers:

I can't hardly wait to bust out my Silhouette and get to cutting. I foresee invitations of all different shapes in PaperLark's future and maybe some gift tags! Knowing how much money I saved, makes me that much more excited about it.

Happy shopping!

October 21, 2014

Project Life: Preparing for A Week in the Life + FREE Printable

After successfully tackling a December Daily album last year, I've decided to try to join in with Ali Edwards and tackle a "Week in the Life" project.  {To learn more about the "Week in the Life" project, click here.} This documentary project seeks to capture a true snapshot about the details of your day-to-day life.

Clearly, I don't document every single day in my Project Life albums. While the albums tend to record exciting events like going to my first Falcons game or my sister winning the homecoming crown, "Week in the Life" will help give my album a true sense of what our daily life looks like at the moment.

As I learned by tackling my December Daily album last year, planning ahead is the key to success. I plan on sticking these pages in my regular, yearly album. While Ali's project calls for a separate album, I don't think it's necessary. After all, I'm doing this to add more depth to my current album. I plan on distinguishing these pages from the rest by using a different core kit and making a title page in my yearly album.

I've also created some free printables to accompany my "Week in the Life" project. I created these to specifically capture some key pieces of our daily life that I'd like to remember. The printable includes:

- HIS Interview 3x4 Card
- HER Interview 3x4 Card
- On the Menu 3x4 Card
- Home Stats 3x4 Card
- Recipe 4x6 Card

The printable is a PDF. In order to ensure your cards will print to the correct size, select Preview>Size to Fit>Fill Entire Paper. 

Like Ali's project this year, I will be documenting my "Week in the Life" from Monday, October 27th to Sunday, November 2nd. Below, I've laid out my day-by-day plan. You'll also find a collection of resources to help complete the project at the bottom.

  • Day One - October 27th (Focus on Daily Routine)
    • One - Two Pictures
    • Record my day hour-to-hour
      • Will use the Daily Sheets in Resources
  • Day Two - October 28th (Personalities/Likes/Dislikes)
    • One picture per person in our household
      • Accompany picture with Interview Insert from Printable
  • Day Three - October 29th (Food and Weather)
    • One - Two Pictures
    • Our menu for the week using Printable
    • Our local weather for the week
    • Insert favorite recipes using Printable
  • Day Four - October 30th (At Home)
    • Two - Three Pictures
    • House Stat Card using Printable
  • Day Five - October 31st (Halloween)
    • Two - Three Pictures
    • Snapshots of Halloween Decor
    • Picture of how we spent the holiday
  • Day Six - November 1st (Pets)
    • One picture of each pet
      • Accompany with pet bio for each
  • Day Seven - November 2nd (Out and About) 
    • Stores we frequent
    • What we buy
      • Insert grocery receipt from the week
    • How we get there
Week in the Life Planning Daily Sheets - Free printable to help record your day-to-day activities
How to Save $$$ on Project Life - Tips on how to tackle this project on a tight budget
Week in the Life: What to Document - Infographic with ideas of what to document
Project Life: Keeping Your Sanity - Free planning pages + ideas of what to document

Happy crafting!

October 10, 2014

How Great Is Our God

If you follow me on social media (especially on my personal account), then you already know this week has been caulked full of emotion and stress.

Monday night, we almost lost my step-father-in-law. He has been battling congestive heart failure close to four years now. To make a long story short, he had surgery Monday morning to replace his LVAD heart pump for the third time in the last three years.

To fully grasp the awesomeness of this story, the doctors had only given him a ~20 percent chance of making it off the operating table when they had put in the two previous pumps. By the pure grace of God, he made it through both times relatively unscathed. By God's power, he had overcome the odds twice.

We knew he would be facing the same risks with this replacement surgery, but the doctor was confident. The doctor was more worried about complication during his recovery. After six or seven hours, the doctor emerged from the operating room to let us know that he had done wonderfully through the surgery and there were no complications. However, the doctor did mention he was still bleeding some, but once that was under control we could see him.

A couple hours later, one of the nurses told us he was still bleeding and they were having a hard time getting it under control. We began to get a little nervous, but kept praying.

Around 7:30 p.m., three nurses came running out of the ICU and basically told my mother-in-law he was bleeding so profusely they didn't know if he was going to make it and we needed to come say our goodbyes in case he didn't. They had used every ounce of blood in the hospital and had called in more from the American Red Cross. They had pumped him full of medicine to help the blood clot in hopes it would stop the bleeding, but nothing was working.

A team of nurses continued to work on him all night long doing everything in their power to recycle the blood and stabilize him. All we could do was wait and pray. We watched as the worker from the Red Cross ran through the waiting room with a cooler of blood in his hand. A couple hours after that, we saw another worker with another cooler run by.

At one point, his hemoglobin dropped dangerously low. The next day the nurse told us that your hemoglobin shouldn't drop below 15 - his dropped to 4 which isn't even life sustaining. At that point, if he did make it, our next concern would be brain damage from the lack of oxygen to his brain.

Having spent the last four years in and out of the cardiac unit, our family knows what a Code Blue is. In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the intercom called a Code Blue to his ICU room. He was in cardiac arrest.

By the grace of God, they got him back and continued their work trying to stop the bleeding. No sooner had we all settled back into the waiting room, that terrible intercom called another Code Blue to his room. He had coded twice in an hour and half. He was bleeding so much that the gauze used to soak up the blood was compressing against his heart causing it to stop.

After bringing him back once more, the nurses placed a brace between his heart and the gauze to stop the compressing. He was fighting. God was fighting too. By God's miracle, he made it until the doctor arrived to do an exploratory surgery in a last ditch effort to stop the bleeding.

After about three hours, the doctor found it. One of the arteries in his chest, fragile from the rigor of the disease, had burst. He was able to close it and the bleeding stopped.

We would find out the next morning that we wiped out the hospital and the Georgia Blood Bank of palates and his blood type. The hospital had to cancel surgeries the next day because there were no palates left. The nurses had used it all trying to keep him alive.

The last count we heard was 86 pints of blood. Eighty six. 

He still wasn't out of the woods yet. He was still under heavy sedation so we didn't know if there was brain damage. As they stopped sedation and took him off of life support, we prayed and hoped he would give a response - a tiny move of his hand or a grimace of pain. Something.

Seven grueling hours later, he wrinkled his brow when the nurses moved him. I don't think our family has ever rejoiced so much over a wrinkled brow. He kept slowly progressing in his responses throughout the day by moving his head and arms. When my sister-in-law was at his bedside and told him she loved him, he moved his mouth as if trying to tell her he loved her too. Of course, she promptly broken down in tears and proceeded to fuss at him for scaring the living crap out of all of us.

He still has a long road to go, but he's continuing to head in the right direction every day. Our hope is that this heart pump will make him strong enough to live a long life and possibly even to a heart transplant. He has been through so much and beaten so many odds.

After witnessing first hand what has taken place over the last week, there is a God. He is my God and He is powerful beyond measure. My faith in the true, living God is affirmed more and more every day. He is worthy to be praised.

Lastly, I wanted to personally thank each one of you who prayed and sent your love to us. I believe in the power of prayer and know you helped keep my step-father-in-law here with us for a little more time. My heart is so humbled and so appreciative of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

The thought to write this post has been on my heart for much of the week. When requesting prayers, I didn't divulge into too much detail about why the prayer was needed or what all was going on. Now, I believe our story can serve as a testimony as to how powerful and great our God is. Even though it pales in comparison to how your prayers have blessed us this week, I hope this testimony blesses you in some small way.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

With love always,

October 8, 2014

Holiday 2014 Collection: Hand Lettered Christmas Cards

Happy October!

September was a complete blur for me. I spent the majority of the month hibernating in my office creating, designing, printing and sewing way on my Holiday 2014 Collection. There was card stock, fabric, straight pins, print outs and twine flying everywhere.

Thankfully, the storm has settled and with October finally here, I can share my collection with you! I thought over the next week, I would personally introduce you to all of my new products, give some insight into the story behind them and how they were made.

That said, meet my trio of hand lettered Christmas cards:
For my Holiday 2014 Collection, I wanted to introduce something new that was completely different from anything else I'd done before. After mastering some newly learned Photoshop skills, I tried my hand (pun intended) at lettering some Christmas cards.

I listened to Christmas music while designing my holiday collection so naturally I pulled some lyrics from two of my favorite yule-tide songs: "My Favorite Things" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."

Out of all the cards, I think this one is my personal favorite. It was the most time consuming of all three taking about three hours to complete all the while humming the song in my head. Even the photos in the listing in the shop, don't do it justice I think. 

In fact, I love it so much I will be offering it as an art print exclusively at upcoming craft shows. However, I will be hosting a flash sale for these on my social media closer to Christmas so those of you outside of Georgia can snag one of your own. 

That said, be sure you stalk me on everything below so you don't miss a thing!


Judge me all you want for this one, but I absolutely love Glee's version of this Christmas song! It's one of those that gets stuck in my head. When something gets stuck in your head, you might as well put it on paper, right?

The simplicity of this card is what I like the most about it. I would stick a family picture in it with a piece of pretty washi tape and mail these suckers out as Christmas cards to everyone. 

This card has already been catching some eyes in the Etsy world too. Eleven minutes after it went up live in my shop, it was featured in an Etsy treasury. {Check that out here}

Oh, the funniest for last, right? The idea for this silly card actually came from my husband. He does his own version of what I lovingly refer to as "man twerking." He usually does it to make me laugh and it gets me every single time. 

Halfway through designing my 2014 line, I was stressin' out bad. He walked into my office, did a little man twerking to cheer me up and the saying for this card popped in my head. Who doesn't love a little pop culture humor mixed with a Christmas classic?!

Maybe one day, he'll let me post a video of his man twerk skills. It really is that awesome.

After the concept for the cards was decided, I took a pen and doodled until my heart was content. Papers with half-drawn designs were littered all over my office floor most of last month. After I was completely satisfied with my drawing, I scanned it into the computer, did a little Photoshop magic and printed them into the cards.

Any of these cards may be purchased as singles or in packs of five. {Check out my full card selection here} If you do want to send them out as Christmas cards to your whole family, I do offer large order/wholesale pricing. Just hit me up on Etsy and I'll give you a quote!

I am definitely planning on doing more hand lettered cards in the future. They're a labor of love, but they allow me to take my creativity outside of the computer.

Which is your favorite?


October 1, 2014

Out of the Archives: BOO Wreath For Under $6

Happy October! With Halloween a mere 30 days out and lots of you looking for easy (and inexpensive) ideas, I thought I'd dig this wreath tutorial out of the archive graveyard. It was my most popular post for the month of October last year. Who doesn't love a festive way to decorate your front door for under $6?! Enjoy! - Miranda

{NOTE: This post has been slightly altered and edited for the purposes of updating it. To see the original post, you can find it here.}

I created a Halloween wreath for the front door for a grand total of $5.58 (and that's including tax ya'll). It is officially September so it is socially acceptable to start decorating for Halloween, right?!

Please ignore my arm reflecting in the glass of the door...
Being the craft supply hoarder that I am, I had most of the items for this project on hand like the paint and ribbon. All I had to buy were the letters which I got from Hobby Lobby for $1.74 each. 

Ready to try your hand at it? Here's what you need:
  • Letters
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Orange acrylic paint
  • Orange ribbon
  • Q-tips
  • Paper plate
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
Step One. Paint all three of your letters black and let dry. It only took one coat for me to cover the letters completely.

Step Two. Once dry, squirt your orange paint on a paper plate and using your Q-tip, paint free-handed polka dots on your letters. Again, let the dots dry.

I promise that's not yellow paint...
Step Three. Once the letters are completely dry, tie them together using your orange ribbon. I was worried about the ribbon wiggling lose because I just tied it into a bow so I hot glued the back of the ribbon to the back of the letter.

Step Four. Secure the top ribbon that'll go on your wreath hanger with some hot glue. Once the hot glue has had time to dry and set, place that sucker on your front door.

I can't wait to get some pumpkins and some more mums to really bring my Halloween/fall front porch to life. Until then, Tibbolt, our garden gnome, will have to suffice. 

Happy creating!

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