Signs of Spring

While it feels like August around here, spring was just a few weeks ago. Fortunately, my crazy life has finally calmed down enough for me to share all of the things I have been making and this page showing the signs of spring is one of my favorites.

The pictures were taken at different times over the corse of a few weeks and several of them were those rare opportunities you get to witness a special moment in time. The squirrel, for example, posed for me for several minutes so I could get a series of pictures.

The baby ducks hopped out of their nest and dipped their feet in the water for the first time … I haven’t seen them since, but I’m sure they’ve moved on to another lake.

The little bird behind the fence worked for several minutes to steal that feather from the chicken’s run. It took a few attempts to get it positioned just right in his beak before he could fly off with it for his nest.

And the robin, one of the first I saw this spring, let me get closer than I ever have to take his picture.

I used Mosaic Moments dies and grid paper to create the layout. I love the mixture of close-up photos with those farther away. And I love how the 1-inch square floral photos wrap around the ducks.

I made a video to show you how to make this page.

This page was sponsored by Mosaic Moments.

Back from Boyne Highlands

I’m back from Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs, Michigan. It is one of my favorite events of the year and is by far the largest … there were 389 women this time! I’m there to work, not crop, but I’ve made dozens of friends and I love spending time with them. The rest of the time I was shopping from my favorite vendors (my purchases are still in their bag), having my traditional Thursday night dinner at the bar (grilled whitefish and sweet potato fries, all made gluten free), and teaching others to use Elizabeth Craft Designs and Mosaic Moments products. It’s tiring, but wonderful and it always goes way too fast.

Last fall, one of my customers-turned-friends asked me to make a page kit showing some of the resort. I used Mosaic Moments Grid paper and dies to create the layout and sold every one — including my sample. Fortunately I have the photo so I can make another for myself!

Matt has taken over many of the make-and-take duties during the event — especially since I had so many classes this time. While demonstrating how to use a transfer sheet to use the leftover stickers, he came up with a few new techniques. (Well, either he did or customers did … I never did get the answer, but I came back to this)

And this …

And this …

and this! I was quite impressed.

Another customer worked up an idea with Silk Microfine Glitter that I helped her implement. I thought I took a photo, but I must not have. I will be making a tutorial to show you how she did it soon — it’s that fantastic.

This time, I taught classes for Bayview Scrappers, a new store in Traverse City, Michigan, in addition to teaching my own. One of the classes I taught was on using rubber stamps from Art Impressions to create watercolor art. I was so impressed that even I could watercolor that I came home with several sets of stamps. Stay tuned for more!

I also taught a Mosaic Moments class and worked one-on-one with others showing them how easy this system is. It amazes me when ladies learn and then come back and show me their first page … yes, this is her first page! I love the mix of detail and distant photos and how she mixed in family pics with scenery. This one is going in a frame on the wall in her family’s cottage … she plans to do one each year. What a wonderful idea!

This is another first-time page, believe it or not. Although you can’t see it very well in the photo, she used different depths of dimensional foam adhesive on different squares in the photo. The effect was amazing!

I will admit to helping her decide between lavender and navy grid paper and showing her how to use the Mosaic Moments At-a-Glance-Guide to make sure she didn’t cut the sun, but otherwise, it is all her! An amazing idea I plan to steal and a truly beautiful page.

Each year, there is a layout contest as part of the fun. Ladies submit their favorite works and the other croppers vote on them. I was pretty proud to see three Mosaic Moments pages registered for the contest. And, even more proud to hear the winner of the contest was one of them! She did photos of her trip to Ireland.

We also gave away an Ott-Lite and a box of stamps, inks and card bases. Of course, I forgot to take photos of the winners with their prizes. Going to have to change that for next year!

The ladies totally spoiled us while we were there. They came with hugs for us both (I even heard one of them calling Matt, “honey”) and tons of gifts. My friend from Marquette brought me these dish cloths with the UP knitted right in. I’m not sure how she knew blue was my favorite color. She also brought me jam and Matt the Yooper version of biscotti. yumm

A mother and daughter from Northern Michigan brought Matt and I each a birdhouse filled with candy eggs. And they brought me a “Take-and-Make.” They gave me a great tip for using my tweezers to thread the ribbon and quietly fixed my bag when I did it wrong. lol. I love these ladies!

My friend from Ohio who keeps me laughing until I cry, gave me a copy of this beautiful picture she took last fall at the resort. I told her I was going to put it on my fridge and wanted to show her this proof that I did!

And, my wonderful friends from Canada brought me this adorable chicken to welcome everyone to my house. I love it and I love them!

These ladies make this trip so wonderful for me. I come back with new ideas and techniques and lots of inspiration and I think I actually learn more than I teach. It is such a wonderfully uplifting event. I cannot wait until fall when I see them all again.

Through the Port Hole

This is one of those pages that starts out simply, but ends up amazing. Or at least I think so!

It showcases two places … Whitefish Point State Docks, which features a barn and fishing boats on the shores of Lake Superior; and Whitefish Point Light Station, where the Edmund Fitzgerald went down in 1975. We didn’t have time to do much exploring the day we were there, but we did take a quick peek at the light and the beach. And, I was fortunate enough to see a ship passing in the distance.

One of the reasons I love the Mosaic Moments system so much is that you can use it to enhance your photos. Many times those photos that aren’t good enough to scrapbook, become perfect when cutting just the right way.

In this case, my photo of the ship was a bit hazy because it was so far away. By using the Three Circles Die as a frame, I turned the less-than-steller photo into the focal point.

I created a video to show you to do it …

(I receive compensation for making videos for Mosaic Moments.)

My First Bike (in 39 years)

I know you’ve seen plenty of photos of me with my bike, but I had to do one more …

For a little background info … At 44, I decided I was going to be bedridden if I didn’t get moving. My biggest hurdle was that it hurt to walk. After less than a mile, my right leg tenses up, the muscles contract, my foot goes numb and I lose control of it. It is extremely painful and the pain continues for hours after I stop walking. The first time it happened, more than 20 years ago, I pushed through the pain and actually fell and twisted my ankle. Since then, it has progressively gotten worse.

I didn’t go to a doctor because I didn’t want to hear, “lose weight and it will be fine.” Nor did I want to be one of those people who has an “excuse” for everything they cannot (or don’t want) to do.

So, I was looking for things I could do that wouldn’t hurt my leg and I thought bike riding might be good. Problem is, I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was 18 and I weighed so much that I was afraid it would be impossible. So, I set myself a goal. I decided that if I lost 50 pounds, I would try it.

That day came on Memorial Day in 2016. While my family hung out on the back deck of my mother-in-law’s house, I quietly slipped away and took her bike for a ride. I’m sure if anyone saw me, they were laughing hysterically at how wobbly I was, but after a few times of nearly hitting the curb before remembering that I had breaks, I figured it out. It’s amazing how the body can remember to do something again after so many years of not doing it!

My husband and I realized that this could be something fun to do together, so we each bought bikes. I selected a cruiser that allowed me to sit upright and put both feet firmly on the ground while sitting on the seat.

These photos were taken on our first official ride on a bike path — at a park in Linden, MI. They are some of the most important photos I have ever taken … Yes, they mark an important spot in my journey to losing weight and feeling great, but they mean so much more to me.

They were just quick snapshots my husband took with my phone, but they are the first pictures I looked at in many, many years where I thought, “I look good!” For the past few decades, whenever I saw my pictures, I always cringed because I was so much heavier than the person I saw in the mirror. I hated my photos. I still took them and scrapbooked them because they were important to me, but they made me depressed — often to the point of tears — every time I saw them. But when I saw these, I just kept looking at my thighs and thinking, “Wow! I look really good!”

It took me several weeks to share my feelings with my husband (and nearly a year to share with the world), but after that, it became a “thing.” Whenever we were riding and I was getting tired or thinking the hill was too hard to climb, I would look at my thighs and remember how good they looked in this photo and how much better they would look if I kept this up and it would push me further. My husband picked up on it and he would remind me to look at my thighs whenever the going got too hard. It was all the motivation I needed.

Yes, these two little pictures are responsible for me losing an additional 30 pounds and going from riding a mile to riding 13 miles in just one summer.

Such special photos need special treatment, so I went a little artsy on this page. I used papers from Authentique, a resin bike from Melissa Frances (accented with a bit of Distress Paint) and the Circle Tiles and Tab Die Set from Mosaic Moments to complete my page.

I made a video to show you how fun it can be to create embellishments with the Circle Tiles using different patterned papers. Check it out.

(I am compensated to create videos for Mosaic Moments).

By the way, I have talked to my doctor about my leg. After several tests, she thinks it is a mineral and amino-acid deficiency. I’ve been taking both for the past year. It’s not perfect yet, but I can walk faster and harder and when the pain does hit, it hurts less and it quits almost immediately after resting. Bike riding doesn’t hurt it one bit. And those are things I can live with.

Happy trails!

One Die, Two Looks

This page, which features photos I took while on a ski lift at Boyne Highlands last fall, features the Triple Diamond Die from Mosaic Moments. I used it to give the eye a break from the busy photographs, while framing the feature photo.

While I love the simplicity of this die, it can also be used to create more complex patterns, like I did below.

Here, I used the same die to create the look of a quilt. Although it looks complex, it really only takes a few sheets of patterned paper (use double-sided to save more time), a single die and a few runs through a die-cutting machine to create it.

I made a video for Mosaic Moments (I am compensated for creating videos for them) to show you how easy it is.

I’m Still Standing

Yes, I’m still here … I’ve been incredibly busy with crops and work and teaching, and well, there are just not enough hours in the day!

Of course, I have still been doing some scrapbooking, mostly Mosaic style, and making videos. And, that means I am way behind in my blog posts! So, I’ll try to get you caught back up …

For starters, this is a page I did featuring the Smile for the Camera die from Mosaic Moments. The die is a lot of fun because it comes with several different pieces you can put in the camera “lens.” I used the “smile” die on this page, but then I also used the heart as an accent. I should tell you, this is also a limited-edition die, so I’m not sure how much longer I can order them. I believe I have one in stock at the moment … just saying!

This page was to celebrate some of the new adventures I have discovered on my pink bike. Sadly, I traded the bike in for a new model yesterday … I LOVED that bike, so it hurt to let it go, but I have a new teal bike with 21 gears that can ride on pavement and dirt and will handle the hills much better. It’s not as stylish as my pink bike was, but it has reflective paint, so it will be safer, and that is always a good thing!

Cutting Tips

Some of you may have noticed that Mosaic Moments dies leave a little bit of a mark on your photos.

That’s normal. It’s how the die-cutting machine works. It’s on all of my pictures, but I don’t think anyone notices. However, some scrappers do see it and it bothers them.

If you have the We R Memory Keepers Evolution Advanced machine, you can dial down the pressure and you will not get the marks.

But, if you’re like me and you have a Sizzix Big Shot or Vagabond and you love your machine and do not want to buy another, you have to deal with the marks.

Fortunately, I recently had a customer who came up with a solution. And, I made a video to show you how to avoid that mark with the crease pad. You can watch how to do it, here: https://youtu.be/wQV4mhVmfhk

And, if you have any other questions, feel free to ask away!

 

West Coast (Michigan) Classes

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I’ve been neglecting my blog … I apologize for that. March is one of my busiest times of year (just behind October). Getting ready for all of the classes and crops means February is also very busy and I can’t seem to keep up with my blog …

One of the reasons I have been behind is a new venture in Muskegon, Michigan.

I’ve teamed up with Bayview Scrappers (a new papercrafting store opening in Traverse City this month!!!) to bring classes to one of the best west Michigan crops — Krop Around the Klock March 10-11. Bayview has rented a classroom at the Holiday Inn in Muskegon and we will be offering classes all day Friday and Saturday.

The classes (and shopping) are open to the general public, so if you want to sign up, just drop me a line, or stop by and say, “hi.” There is a limit of 12 per class, so be sure to contact me for prices, supply lists and reservations.

Of course, I am still behind, so I can only show you a few of the classes, but here they are …

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This one features products from Pink Fresh Studio. I’ll show you a technique to get perfectly stamped images, and a couple ideas for using washi tape. As an added bonus, you get an entire package of Pink Fresh paper to make additional pages!

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Next up is a pair of layouts from Echo Park. Except for the photo mats, these pages were made entirely with the products from one mini kit, which sells for less than $7! I’ll show you how easy it is to work with these kits and Bayview Scrappers will have a variety of them for sale.

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Of course, I will also be teaching Mosaic Moments with this two-page layout featuring summer strawberries and picnic baskets. I’ll show you how to cut by hand and with the dies.

img_3644Card makers will enjoy this class which uses Elizabeth Craft Designs stickers and glitter, along with alcohol ink markers. We’ll also learn the transfer technique so you can put a little bit inside …

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I am also teaching a shaker card class using a new ocean die from Memory Box (I am so into fish right now!), but I don’t have the sample finished yet. However, this technique will show you how you can make a shaker card with any die or punch … no special kits or products needed.

Lori, from Bayview Scrappers, will also be teaching card classes and some of the other vendors will be offering classes as well — some of which are free!

Since I will be teaching much of the weekend, Matt will be on hand to do demos and make and takes with you at the Candy Scraps booth. Never in my wildest dreams did I think he would be a crafter, but when left with nothing to do but play with my “toys,” his creative side has come out and he is quite good. He’s also good at diagnosing problems with machines, cutting tools, cars and even GPS systems during crops. (It’s amazing the things that can wrong …) So if you have a question, don’t be afraid to ask him.

I hope you get the chance to stop by, take some classes and explore all of the wonderful new products that will be available! Happy cropping!

The Ghostly Lighthouse

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I am so excited to share this layout with you. The story it tells is one of the most important things to have happened to me in a long time.

It is of the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Lake Michigan. It is haunted and you can read of my experience with the ghost in the lighthouse. It was my first encounter with a ghost and had me shaken up for quite a bit, but that is just the sidebar to this story.

The real reason this will always be my favorite lighthouse is because it is here that I learned you can accomplish anything. It is here that I first pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of. And it is here that I conquered my fear of heights.

lighthouse-left-by-candy-spiegelA year ago, I was too afraid to climb up on the counter to clean the cabinets. And I was too fat and out of shape to walk up more than one flight of stairs — and I had to take a break halfway up in order to do that. Last June, after I lost 60 pounds and started walking, my husband took me to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to camp, hike and photograph nature and lighthouses. We stopped at this one, located at the tip of a peninsula far from anything but water. It was our first visit and, although eager to explore, we had to set up camp that evening, so we didn’t want to linger.

The lighthouse keepers were nice enough to let us take a shortened tour of the lighthouse and they told us we really needed to go all the way up to the top. At first I was eager, but then I learned it was 96 stairs to the top — and we were already up a flight of stairs from the ground. At first, I let my fears take over and I declined. I knew I couldn’t handle the climb, mentally or physically. But the tour guide kept on me until I gave in. I figured I could go up as far as my legs and fear of heights would let me go and then I would come back down.

lighthouse-right-by-candy-spiegelMy legs handled the steps with ease, but it didn’t take long for my fears to set in. About halfway up, something in me snapped. I suddenly had this urge to push forward. With my husband behind me assuring me I was OK and protecting me from falling backward (the main reason I was afraid of heights), I kept going. My heart was pounding so loudly, I was sure everyone could hear it. I was gasping for air and holding on to that railing for dear life. In full-blown panic attack mode, I climbed step after step after step, winding around and around the lighthouse as I continued my upward journey. I kept telling myself I could do it … chanting over and over in my head. My whole body was shaking and I was nearly in tears, but I made it to the top of that lighthouse and peered outside. I was practically paralyzed with fear and I had to go down the first few steps on my butt, but I did it.

That moment changed my life. Since that day, I have been up and down ladders, escalators and glass-sided elevators with ease. The fear of heights has been conquered.

But, more importantly, there is this new fire in me. I am no longer afraid to try anything new. I’m not afraid of failing. And I know, if I set my mind to it, I can do anything. It’s like I have finally given myself permission to “live” for the first time. And it is all thanks to that haunted lighthouse.

Yes, I did have a paranormal experience during this journey … you can read all about it, here … click on the photos to make them bigger.

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This story was written soon after the experience … before I felt the continued benefits of climbing all of those steps. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t think of that journey to the top of that lighthouse. I always say a little thank you to that guide for encouraging me to climb. Had it not been for him, I might not have learned to ice fish, ride a bike, shoot a gun, hike through the woods, kayak, swim in public or do any of the other things I have learned to do since that day at the Seul Choix Point Lighthouse. And I certainly wouldn’t be thinking of learning to rock climb or taking escalators just to prove to myself they no longer scare me!

Thank you.

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Baby Blue Jays

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Have you ever had one of those magical times in nature where you just happen to witness something spectacular? This was one of those times.

I was sitting on my back deck, enjoying a cup of coffee and watching my chickens play (a favorite pastime of mine). I had filled the bird feeders and given the chickens a little treat and then just sat back and relaxed. I was enjoying the cacophony of sounds from various feathered friends, but the blue jays were definitely the loudest. And then they came. Young jays flew onto my swing, the bird feeder, the shed and into and out of the nearby trees. I’m not sure how many I saw that day, but from the photos, it looked like at least two. They posed for photo after photo (this is about 1/4 of the ones I took) in between calling to friends or mom. Then, they would fly off and another would appear. They didn’t seem at all threatened by the chickens or the crazy lady on the porch. For about 20 minutes they posed and gathered sunflower seeds, while I photographed and studied them. It was incredible.

I, of course, used Mosaic Moments Grid Paper on this page. I find it is the perfect way to scrapbook when you have so many photos you want to use. The different size squares and rectangles allowed me to emphasize the important portions of each photo.

I also used layering dies to make the photo mats on this one. And, I even made a video to show you how I did it!