Thursday, February 13, 2014

Quick Cutting a Monogram Valentine

sc monogram valentines

What kind of Valentine do you give a 20–something? As long as it contains money or food, I don’t think it matters that much.

Since my first inclination is to craft what I need, I used my new–found Adobe Illustrator skills and quickly designed monogrammed Valentines for my kids.

SC d heart

Part of the reason I want to improve my Illustrator skills is that I can open the files in Make the Cut software and then cut out my design on my electronic cutter.

sc d mtc

I find the whole process amazing. I once cut out a huge, intricate love knot for my parents using a scalpel. My index fingertip was numb for days.

sc j mtc

It literally took me minutes to design and cut out these two flat Valentines for my kids. I popped the cutouts from the background papers with foam dots. Don’t worry kids, money is attached.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Book Lover’s Dream with a Free Printable

The bargain book sale at the library is like Christmas to a wannabe librarian.

$3 for a paper grocery bag of books culled from the shelves of five branches along with donations from citizens… oh, yes. They try to keep the shelves organized by genre, but I make my best discoveries by combing every shelf.

(I already have the schedule for this year’s sales on my calendar.)


Digital calligraphy, printing, designing, faux painting, decorating. It’s the best $3 I’ve spent all year.

Inspired by the library–ness of it all, I saved a defunct checkout card pocket and recreated it using my new Adobe Illustrator skills. I also remade a checkout card from one of the many library books I currently have checked out.

I like to loan my books, but I like getting them back even better.

The pocket and card printables are pdfs. Click on the links to download.

LINKS: Library Cards printable and Library Cards Pocket printable.
Library Card Printable   Library Card Pocket Printable

For the library cards, print and cut.

For the library card envelope or pocket, print and cut out. Score all the dashed lines. Fold up the bottom dashed line and crease. Fold in the two side tabs on the dashed lines. Fold the whole bottom up on the middle dashed line. Don’t glue the tabs shut. Glue each tab to the body of the pocket.

Glue the pocket into your book to loan with acid free glue and start your own library.

Suzy Cucumber Library cards

What kind of books would you search for at a library book sale?



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Learning a New Skill: Illustrator

Suzy learned a new trick recently. I’ve been trying to teach her to sit up for nine and a half years. Last fall, she decided it was worth knowing how to do. I guess I switched to the right treats.

I’m sure you’ve heard the adage that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, but did you know it takes only 20 hours to learn a skill? My goal for January is to finally learn how to use Adobe Illustrator.

I began my study about two weeks ago with a free online Illustrator crash course. Even Art School Daughter learned a few tricks.

Illustrator Extrude Exercise    

I think I’ve finally gotten a rudimentary understanding of the pen tool. Here’s my first solo pen tool attempt.

My first freehand pen tool drawing.


So I’m up to the point where I tried to convert one of my own drawings into a vector drawing. Vector drawings are great if you need an image that can be enlarged without getting fuzzy.

Here’s my little raccoon. Her name is Pansy. Pansy needs to lay off of the pancakes, but she loves them so.


Pansy also needs a makeover. Look at all of those lines.


Time for some body work.


I added some sketchy lines and a few items for Pansy to clutch.


Look, no fuzziness when I resize!


I’m pleased with my progress so far. Everyday the controls seem less cryptic. I’m now working on the pattern for an antique quilt my husband’s grandmother owned. I had been trying to recreate the pattern in Illustrator for months without success because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Now, I do.

What is it you’ve always wanted to learn? It only takes 20 hours.



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How to make a travel journal 10 minutes before you have to leave

Quick travel journal

You’re leaving on a dream vacation in 10 minutes. Quick! Make a travel journal to record all the awesome stuff you’re going to do.

(I actually did this.)

Grab your scissors, hole punch, some thin ribbon or twine, a ruler, pencil, and paper cutter, and about ten to 12 sheets of sketch paper.


Cut the paper in half along the long edge.

Score and fold all the pages in half.

On one folded sheet, measure ½ in. in from the fold and 1½ in. from the top and bottom. Punch holes at these marks. This is the master sheet. Take the rest of the folded sheets, nest them into the master sheet, and repunch the holes. Don’t worry if everything isn’t precisely punched. Just get those holes in the paper.


Cut about 12 in. of ribbon or twine and feed the ends into both holes. Now feed the ends back up through the holes but crisscrossed.


Both the ribbon ends will be on the same side. Tie the ends.


Snip the ends short.


Done. Now grab a few markers, a pencil, and a glue stick and hit the road.


Fill with memories while you’re traveling. Can’t bring scissors with you? Tear out images from brochures and glue them in to the pages. You don’t have to haul all that paper home and try to remember what you did each day.


Write a few lines each day on your trip.


I actually did make a travel journal 10 minutes before we left for Maui last summer. I’ll probably do it again 10 minutes before we leave for this year’s adventure.