Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Meal Planning

I struggle with planning meals for our family. 

It's not always a bad thing but I know that doing so might just make things go a bit smoother and give me less of a headache trying to decide what to have for dinner each day!  It will also help me to pull things out of the freezer on time.  That's not to say I'm not a good cook.  Over the last few years I've learned to whip up lots of great creations from the food we have in the fridge which means I'm buying fresh food at the best price and enjoying it!  I rarely follow recipes.

So why the change?  Well, having two little ones means the day doesn't always go as planned.  I can't step into the kitchen and get dinner going when I'm needed elsewhere.  Additionally, my husband is entering his busy season at work which means daddy won't be home early ever to help out during that time.  It will just be one less thing to.  So because of all that, I've created a simple meal planner to have handy. 
And I'm posting it here in case you are interested in using it too.  The download has two PDF file, one of which is editable so if you want to, you can keep it on your computer and type directly into the form.  And if you have any meal suggestions, just let me know. ;)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

New Items in Shop

Just wanted to post a little update to share some of the new items I've placed in my Etsy shop!

I have two new home decor items available.  The first is for all those Packer fans our there!  It's a tribute to the Pack in the form of subway art and is available as at 16x20 inch download of high-quality ready for printing!  It would look perfect on canvas and makes a great gift for that hard to shop for person on your list.
This item is available for instant download and is available in 4 color variations.  Pictured is the green and gold.  I also have white lettering on both green and gold backgrounds, as well as one print that is available in the throwback colors.  Of course, custom coloring is always an option - just contact me.

Also new is a set of three prints perfect for a children's bathroom.  Again, also subway art. 

The bathtime print is formatted at 8x10 inches and the two others are formatted at 5x7 inches making this a great trio to hang together, but they also work great separately.

Finally, I have one additional commercial use item available.  It's a digital chalkboard background sized at 16x20 inches making it perfect for those larger projects.

I hope you'll swing by my shop to check out these and all the other items I have for sale.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crafting for Christmas

Did I just type "Christmas?"  I did, I know, right?  It's not even Halloween but the store shelves are lined with Christmas goods and have been for weeks.  And the Christmas scrapbook collections are also hitting the shelves and providing inspiration for fun holiday projects.  I've got a few handmade gifts I want to create for this year and I know how time flies so I am starting early.  When I saw the new Heidi Swapp Believe collection I knew I wanted to use it.  Since I'm always giving away my handmade albums I figured it would be a great time to make one for my family to keep.  I saw the memory file kit for the Believe collection and snagged it up so I could get my Christmas craft on.

The kit comes with two large memory file folders and two small in different front/back designs.  Also included are rub-on embellishments file tab stickers and one foto stack.  I also purchased the coordinating sticker pack, 6x6 inch pad and the ephemera pack.  I highly recommend the ephemera pack as it is filled with an additional 94 pieces of goodness that will get your creativity flowing.  Before I move on I have to admit, I actually purchased three of the memory file kits so I could make two more to give away.  I know, it's a problem I have but I love a good handmade present!

I've tried doing December Daily in the past and made it pretty far but I know I won't be able to keep up this year with my two littles on the move so I set out to create the foundation of an album that would help me document the fun our family has in preparation for Christmas Day.  Our kids are little so we are still forming traditions but I knew there would be certain things we would do such as decorate, celebrate St. Nick's, and a visit to Santa.  The rest of the album I left pretty general and will continue to fill up and embellish but it's a great step forward to have the foundation completed - or I may never get it done!

I decided to cut apart the two large memory files and one of the small ones to make my album pages.  I used my cinch and .75" white wire binding to put it all together.  Here is a look at how it came together.  Sorry the pictures are not so great, it was a rush to get them!
I kept the cover fairly simple with a cluster of fun embellishments and noted the year in the bottom right. The paper stack has one design that is a bunch of journal cards, at the 6x6 size they are mini journal cards and worked perfectly as embellishment throughout the book.  For the first inside pages, I trimmed the top of a paper and glued down the bottom and both sides to make a pocket.  A few more trimmed pattern papers with a tab punch out on each tucked neatly behind providing additional space for photos or journaling.

 Watching how the kids react to Santa year after year is pretty fun so I made sure to leave plenty of space in this mini file to document the visit!  Yeah those are my post its telling me what I have in mind to put there.  It is only October so I just might forget before I complete the album!
 Here is the foto stack that comes with it. I decided to leave it together and just added a few embellishments.  You could rip it apart to use as little pockets or as photo mats throughout your album.

 On the last page I had fun decorating the second mini file with the countdown stars from the ephemera pack.  I know I won't keep up with pictures each day but I thought it would be fun to have a little journal to jot down some of the things we do.

And there it is, ready for our holiday fun!  I'm looking forward to completing this album and having it to look back on.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

DIY Coffee/Espresso/Latte Mugs!

For a while now I've been interested in trying a project with vinyl.  Trying to decide what has always been tough and it's never moved to the tops of the list.  But then, inspiration hit!  So now I have completed my very first project with vinyl using my Silhouette and I'm pretty happy with the results.

For our tenth wedding anniversary, my husband and I had thought we'd be talking a trip somewhere enjoying sun and calm, but really our little ones weren't ready for us to have an extended time away.  So instead, embracing the life we have, we treated ourselves to an espresso machine.  It's been wonderful and we still enjoy it several months later!  Espresso, lungo, cappuccino, and lattes all at the touch of a button.  For a tired person in the morning, it really doesn't get better than this.  My husband ordered some great espresso and latte mugs from Crate & Barrel for us to use.  They are plain white, which I do like but I sort of also saw a Silhouette vinyl project waiting to happen.  So today, I thought, why not make that happen.  Here is the end result:

I thought it would be fun to drink an espresso while putting a mustache on!  And then I couldn't resist some great word art for the latte cups.  It was really fun designing the items to print but the whole process was a bit more work than I thought it would be.  However, I have to mention that I probably should have picked a much simpler project to start with.  But then, I wouldn't be me.

Once I had the designs ready to print in the Silhouette software I went about loading the vinyl.  You're told you don't need a cutting mat and that you can just load the roll but I really couldn't get that to work despite looking for many tips and tricks online.  I ended up cutting a strip of vinyl and using my cutting mat. 

After it's all cut, you have to strip away the excess vinyl and "weed" out the little parts.  This is where I went a bit crazy since I had picked a fairly intricate design but overall it wasn't that bad.  You definitely need all those little tools Silhouette recommends though!

Then I adhered the transfer paper and went about getting the designs onto the mugs.  So I knew I'd have to deal with the curvature of the mugs; however, I didn't think it would be as hard.  The transfer paper actually seemed to work against me a bit during this process as it is a heavy paper and as you bend it, it creases.  The first design I did wasn't so hot.  After removing the transfer paper, I lifted a few items up to fix them. Working slowly and creasing the transfer paper in between design elements, I was able to have more success with the second mug.  That all being said, in the end, I wasn't too impressed with how the vinyl stuck to the mugs!  I hope it holds up well!  I do hand wash these, so I hope that adds to the longevity. 

All in all, I'm glad I gave it a try.  I don't think the project took that long but I was chasing toddlers in the middle of it so it felt like it took forever!  I love the word art I created for the latte mugs and could easily see it as a print as well.  I'm sharing it with you for free for your PERSONAL USE ONLY.  You can grab it here.

Now, what next?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Just in time for football! Go Badgers!

I am excited to share some new wall art in my Etsy shop!  A tribute to my alma mater the Wisconsin Badgers - I bring you subway art Badger style.  The print is complete with phrases, places, and other notable items that are familiar to Badger fans.

I have two versions of this work in my shop.  You can grab the cardinal red & white version you see here as an instant download OR you can have the background changed to the color of your choice.  The file is delivered as a 16 x 20 inch JPEG and is high-quality and print ready.  There is a 1.5 inch border making it perfect for gallery wrapped canvas - which is exactly how mine will be printed.  The background and text are lightly distressed to provide a vintage feel.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Nautical First Birthday

Well, it happened.  The little man turned one.  It's hard to believe that first year of life has already been accomplished.  So much change in so little time - now that is certainly something to celebrate.  For me, I enjoy being able to create some crafty items to spruce up the big party but with two little ones running (or toddling around) time is limited.  So even more fun, is seeing how everything I'd created over the span of many (maybe six) weeks came together.  No one thing was incredibly time consuming, just hard to find any time!  And everything was cheap and easy!  So I'm excited to share how our little Owen's nautical first birthday came together.

I wanted to take some cute photos of the little guy on his special day and thought I should make a prop for that.   If you have kids, then you have cardboard!  I grabbed a large piece and cut out a big number one.  I used some red acrylic paint and then a star stamp using mod podge that I sprinkled with blue glitter.  Fast, easy, and pretty cute.  Now, to just get that baby to hold it just right for the camera. ;)
And now, on to the party.  First, a few things to be said on the theme of nautical.  It's pretty general.  That can take you many different ways but that's what I loved about it - I could toss in whatever I could make work.  I choose to stay with very traditional colors - Red, Blue, and Lt. Blue.  This helped me to not only find supplies easily but anything that had to do with the 4th of July also seemed to work in well!
I have found that keeping things simple is often the easiest way to set the stage for your party.  Not pictured, but I did make a welcome sign for our door that was similar to the high chair banner pictured here.  It let everyone know that the party was happening in our back yard.  That way we didn't have to keep running to the door to welcome guests as they arrived.  The door sign and high chair banner were designed in Illustrator along with the fun ship wheels.  I then placed them as .PNG files in my Silhouette software to print and cut.  If you've not used .PNG files in the software before, it's super easy! I describe how to do that in this post here.

For my older son, I made him a special shirt to wear at his parties so I wanted to do the same here, but I also wanted him to feel included on his little bro's special day so I made two shirts this time.  The birthday boy, Owen, had a little sailboat and older brother got "Captain in training"...but if you have a two year old, you know they pretty much take charge of most situations! :)  I used the Avery iron on transfer paper and my home printer. 

I do love to digital scrapbook as well so I figured why not show off some of the pages I had of Owen's first year!  I purchased this Recollections stand to fit my 12x12 pages in.  There were some from his hospital birth and NICU stay, as well as monthly update pages.  I noticed several people checking them out and I think it was a fun way to show just how much he changed over that first year.

And finally, I do love a great birthday banner!  I wanted the decor to be more modern than cutesy so I decided to design some papers with newsprint background and stripes and stars that looked painted and stamped on.  I used some sailor's rope to string the whole thing up.  I had some on hand from a past crafting project but you can pick some up at your local hardware store.  Generally, they can just cut you the length you need.


The children attending were 4 years and under so I wanted to do something fun for favors but nothing with a bunch of little toys in it.  So I picked up some colorful sand buckets at Michael's on the cheap.  I then designed a name label for each child which I printed onto the Silhouette clear sticker paper.  After cutting with my Silhouette, I put them on the bucket.  I did this same thing for some colorful water bottles I found as well.  Also included was a sailor hat. I had found a dozen of them on Amazon and did a little fabric stencil of anchors and sailboats.  They didn't turn out the greatest but they were still pretty darn cute.  Finally, we had a squirt gun for each kiddo - and that led to a lot of fun for them outside!  Lastly, I used one bucket to put a Thank You treat of salt water taffy for each guest to take when they left for home.
I like to keep the food pretty simple so I too can have fun at the party, but that doesn't mean that you can't set it up to look festive!  I found red and blue tablecloths, paper plates and napkins at my local Michael's store.  With the sales and coupons they have, you can find this stuff fairly cheap.  They tend to only have bold colors but that worked fine for this party!  To incorporate my theme, I knotted some sailor rope around the utensils and put some golffish in a fish bowl.  We used a 4th of July table cloth for the beverage table.
A few things I've learned over the years with parties has been that I can fit way more food and make the buffet look extra fancy just by adding some height!  I use boxes or anything really under the table cloth to make places for the serving trays.  It looks nice, let's you fit more in, and makes it easier for your guests to reach for things.  It was also great to put out the lemonade, iced tea, water, and mixers in a way that guests could help themselves.  There's always a lot going on at kiddos parties so it was great to know everyone could refresh their drinks as they wanted to.  I also used the Silhouette to cut out some confetti in the shape of ship wheels and anchors.  It was easy but tedious to pick up off the sticky mat - definitely needed those tools!
The cake was made locally by Delicately Delicious.  I love how it turned out and it tasted great too!  I used the number one I had made as decoration and also set the main cake off with some fish net.

And it wouldn't be a good birthday post if I didn't include a picture of our cutie enjoying his cake!  He really took charge of it, both hands in, and enjoyed it.  And no, we didn't let him finish the whole thing!  I think he would have exploded!
All in all, it was a really fun day!  Everyone had fun, ate well, and the birthday boy enjoyed!  I had so much fun pulling this together for him too!  Happy First Birthday Owen!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fly Away With Me Album

As much as I love digital every so often I get the itch to make an an album you can touch and feel!  It's always fun to merge digital into the tangible such as here and here; and now I've done it again and it was so much fun!  I really enjoyed how my Fly Away With Me papers and elements turned out and thought they would be a fun set to use to make an album for my mom of the kiddos.  You can find them in my Etsy shop too!  This time, I was also excited to use my new Silhouette Cameo machine!  I've got several pictures in this post but now realize that I did not take a picture of the cute cover!  Oh well, I'll have to steal it from my mom sometime and update this post with it.  However, I do have plenty of fun features to show you that you can incorporate into your own handmade scrapbooks!

First, a little note about printing.  This photo is just to illustrate that when printing your digital files, it really does matter if you select the correct type of media you are printing on.  That helps your printer use the correct color profile and give you the best possible match to what you see on your screen.  Now if your monitor is not calibrated correctly, that is a whole other issue!

 I started by planning the entire book in Photoshop.  I chose the dimensions I would use and shapes for the covers and pages.  I then clipped papers from my Fly Away With Me paper collection to create the pages.  Some I left blank, but others I added stamps or embellishments to for dimension.  I saved all of the covers and pages as .PNG files so I could use them with my Silhouette. 

Next,  I looked through my photos to see what and how many I wanted to include and my goodness did I get a ton of them in!  I printed them in varying sizes - mostly 3x3 inches, 4x4 inches, and 4x6 inches. 

Finally, I decided to make some unique pages for which I would need to create some cutting files to use with my Silhouette.  I determined the measurements for those and created them, saving them to .PNG files as well.

And now it was time to open the files in my Silhouette software to print and cut!!  Oh, the planning is the hardest part but this next step is so cool!  It's so fun to see everything starting to take shape!  After taking care of all the items I had ready to go from Photoshop, I also opened the Fly Away With Me Elements (and a few various others created by myself and other designers) and dragged those .PNG files into my Silhouette document.  In order to create a cutting path in the software, I use the trace feature and under Trace Settings I uncheck all the boxes except for Threshhold and move the slider there up to 100%.  Then I often select "Trace Outer Edge" as this will cut all the way around your shape.  However, if there is a shape that you some of the inside cut out you need to select "Trace."  For example, in the picture below, I have the word "Cherish" (from Heidi Swapp) and wanted to the white part cut out of the loops from the "H" so I selected "Trace" to do so.
With all my pictures, pages, and embellishments cut and ready to go, it was time to put this thing together.  I used chipboard from a cereal box and spray adhesive to adhere the paper to the front and back covers so that it was nice and sturdy.  For the interior pages I used Epson Premium Presentation Paper Matte and adhered the alternating pages together.  This paper has a pretty good weight when you use it this way.  Once I had the pages organized but before embellishing, I used The Cinch to bind it together nicely.  The reason I say BEFORE embellishing is that inevitably, something always goes wrong when punching holes for me so if I have to redo a page, then there isn't a ton of wasted work and materials.  Also, it helps you put your embellishments in an area of the page that won't interfere with turning the book.  Now, here are a few of the details I'd like to share with you.

I created these stacked photo mats so I could put many pictures on one page.  These shapes I created and cut them with my Silhouette.  I used Heidi Swapp's No Limits Paper pack below.  The newsprint had a nice contrast to the papers.  You can put pictures on both sides and it was a fun way to group things together.

 Then I made these cute little divided pages.  They were tricky to bind but, in the end, it is fun to flip the half pages back and forth.  I did have to insert the pictures (front and back) before binding them.  Again, I cut these shapes onto The No Limits paper.  I added some fun tabs and embellishments here and there to spruce them up!

 Since the album was for the entire year, I had to have a special page documenting our sweet new addition.  The onesie cut shapes were from Deana Rutter and the cut words were from Karla Dudley.
 Just have to point out one "love" about the Silhouette again - look at that tiny kite string, cut perfectly! You really do need some of the tools to get that out and onto your page but it is awesome to have something so delicate and precise.
 We had a bunch of cute Christmas photos and I had thought to do a separate album but then I decided why not just put it all together.  So I made this envelope-type page and included these tabbed photo files with journaling that I cut onto red and green cardstock - tis the season right?

 I was able to fit four of these folded files on each side, each containing two 4x6 inch photos.

 And ta da! That's it.  I hope you found it inspirational and are getting ready to make your own album! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

When one door closes...

Well, I have to admit that I'm pretty sad to see Design House Digital close shop.  I have been at that site as a scrapper for a long time and was very excited to join on as a designer last December.  Alas, the shop owner has decided to close the virtual doors and I must determine the course of Little Birdie Digital Designs.

So what's next?  I don't want to stop designing but right now just isn't the right time for me to join another digital scrapbooking site.  I've got a lot of commitments at home with our two little ones and I'm just not the type to pull an all nighter!  So, in the mean time, I'm working on uploading many of my existing kits (but not all) to my new store on Etsy!  You can find it here.  At this moment everything in my store is available via instant download, so please, stop by and check it out.  Bookmark it and come back later too!

As for future plans, well, I've long wanted to do a few other types of design work so while I still will put together a scrapbooking kit here and there, you will also see my shop start to fill up with wall art, home decor, DIY printable projects, invitations, party printables, and who knows what!  I'm quite excited about being able to put everything together in one place.  I mean, I get excited thinking about downloading some party printables and then later scrapbooking about it with coordinating items, don't you? 

Well, I hope you will check back often to see what I'm up to. 


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summertime! (And a special freebie)

Hi everyone!

Yes, summertime is finally here and so I've made a kit to celebrate it!  You can grab the papers, elements and the add on flair pack for 30% off today only at Design House Digital.
Perfect for all those fun summer memories!

 Plus I have a sale weekend coming up!  June 22nd and June 23rd my entire store will be 25% off so it's a great time to grab any items you have on your shopping list.

I will also have a special offer available.  You can grab these Summertime Journal cards FOR FREE during my sale weekend!  But don't forget because they will go back to full price once the weekend is over.
Additionally, one item in my shop will be available for only $1.  So take a look and see what will help inspire you to create a digital layout or any digi craft project.

And now a few layouts featuring Summertime:

LO by Heather Steed

I'm also excited to be releasing two template packs.  Sometimes when I'm stuck or just want to get a layout going fast, I reach for a template.  They are such a great starting or finishing point.  I love that you can follow the template exactly and make a knock-out layout fast but that you can also add onto it to make it your own.  You can flip and rotate them, add extra embellishments, add an extra photo or remove one, add or remove the journaling, and on and on I could go!  It's a great way to scrapbook when you just need a little inspiration.  In both of these template packs you will find layers to add your papers and elements to.  They also include layer shadow styles which you can use or turn off to create your own.  I give a few suggestions on what types of elements you may want to add but really it's all up to you.  For example, I you will see a layer called "Anchoring Element" and that simply means put something here that will hold it all together.  That could be a button, brad, staple, flower, ribbon, etc.  Anything that "anchors" the other layers into place and helps create some focus on your layout.  Well, enough about that, here they are:
 The Circle It Templates feature layouts that focus on using circles to draw your eye to the photos and create movement around the page. 

The Line It Up Templates use linear layouts with a little something extra to add some interest to your pages.  I hope you will find both fun to use and they are also 30% off today only!
And in case you missed it, I have a new and exclusive freebie on my Facebook page for my fans.

Hope you have some digi-fun!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Facebook Freebie for Fans!

It's been on the to-do list for quite some time but I'm happy to say that it is finally here!  I have a Facebook freebie for Little Birdie Fans.  "Like" Little Birdie Digital Designs on Facebook and get a set of three digital scrapbooking templates that are exclusive to Facebook Fans.  These templates are a little sampler of some new releases I have coming up in the next few weeks and you can have them now, for FREE!  Click HERE

Saturday, June 1, 2013

DIY Alphabet Book (or Flashcards) for baby (or Toddler)

I had a lot of fun making my latest project and now you can too!  Every Tuesday at Design House Digital we are releasing fun, easy, printable projects!  Translation - fun, easy, quick project for you to make that doesn't require a lot of fancy software or tools.  How great is that?  Look for my new kit coming this Tuesday, June 4th!

I really enjoy flipping through picture books with my kiddos and teaching them objects.  It's fun to see my toddler point out things to my baby and say what they are too!  So I decided to make a little alphabet book that would be filled with things from our home, our life.  And you can do the same too!

This do-it-yourself kit contains all that you need - a PDF printable with alphabet letters, a PDF printable with a front and back cover, instructions, ideas, and extra letters in JPEG format so you can customize your book or flashcards further.  In short, you take picture of the objects in your home for each letter and then assemble them into a little book.  It also works great if you want to make some flashcards instead. 

This is also a great project to do with older siblings.  I had a fun time working with my toddler to find objects around our house (and people and pets too!) to photograph for the book.  The kit includes a listing of items for each letter to help you along.  Once I had my pictures, I opted to do a little photo editing and include the name of the object directly on the photo but you don't have to be that fancy at all.  No naming is required but you can always just use a sharpie or other permanent ink pen to write out the words as well if you wish.  For this project I decided to use a spray adhesive to mount the pictures onto the back of the alphabet cards.  It just seemed like a great way to ensure the corners were stuck down and it was pretty darn fast too.

I'm really excited about how the book turned out!  It's so cute to see my toddler in lots of the pages too and baby loves his older brother!  I opted to bind my book using some extra wire I had from a different project using my Cinch, but you can simply punch a hole (or several) and use binder rings to keep it together.  Either way will be easy for baby to turn pages and look at letters and objects.

And best yet, this cute project won't take up too much time!  It took me about an hour working with a toddler to take the pictures, editing aside it took only a few minutes to download them from the camera and send them to be printed.  I spent 20 minutes printing the PDFs and cutting them to size.  Another 20 minutes to paste them back to back and another 10 to use my binding machine.  All in all, this is a cute project to get done in under two hours.