Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New week, new vendor...new GIVEAWAY!

Good morning CraftyStealers!

Those shipments from new vendors keep arriving at CraftySteals! If you like bright colors and fun graphics, you are going to LOVE who we've got in store for you later this week.

We are super excited to welcome Bella BLVD! Founded in 2008 by a graphic designer, Bella BLVD makes some fabulous patterned papers, cardstock stickers, cotton flowers, clear stamps (they've partnered with Unity) and other paper-crafty goodies. Check out their studio blog to see their papers in action. (I cannot get over how cute their stuff is!)

Bella BLVD sent us a little something to give away to you. Yep, we've got the giveaway bug lately, don't we? Take a look at these Bella goodies we have up for grabs:

Bella Goodies (Bundle #1)

Bella Goodies (Bundle #2) 

Oh, and I'm sure you guessed this already, but since there are two bundles of Bella goodies to give away (each with a retail value of $65), that means there will be TWO winners! All you have to do for the chance to win on of these fabulous bundles, is leave us a comment telling us what your favorite Bella product is (past or present).  If you need, you can take a look at Bella BLVD's website first before leaving your comment on the blog.  We'll randomly pick and announce our two lucky winners on Friday! 

Good luck and have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday School: Organize Your Punches!

Good morning CraftyStealers!

As some of you may remember, I posted about starting my own little Mission Organization in my craftroom/office and started with my scraps.  That day, another CraftyStealer, Susan, commented that she put her punches in a hanging shoe organizer.  I thought it was a fabulous idea, but I didn't think the hubs would be a big fan of those punches banging on the door when he opened it. So I continued to look around online and in magazines, and over and over again I saw people organizing their punches on the wall.  I thought it was kind of genius. I've always had mine here:
In a drawer, all jumbled up (well, that is unless I took one into another room and threw it in a different drawer). I kind of like the idea of having my tools and goodies out in the open.  After all, "out of sight, out of mind", right? If I have them right in front of me, I might use them, or at the very least not forget that I have one and then go out and get a duplicate, just to find the original a few weeks later (okay, it was months later - I'm sure everyone NEEDS two snowflake punches).

When I was looking through scraprooms and organizational sites, I saw punches on the wall on shelves, on picture ledges, and my personal favorite -- on towel racks.  Yep, you heard me right.  Towel racks. 

So last weekend, I talked my mom into going to IKEA with me and the kids, and I picked up these beauties. (These are from the BYGEL system in the kitchen area).
Now, if you don't have an IKEA near you, don't fret.  The important thing, is a towel rack that sticks out of the wall far enough for your punches to sit on, but not so far that they would fall through.  This towel rack comes out 1 5/8" from the wall.  I'm sure your local home or hardware store has something that fits the bill.  I went to IKEA because it's about 10 minutes from my mom's house - and she was willing to hang out with my kids while I concentrated on the mecca that is IKEA.

It literally took me 5 minutes to hang them - just don't forget to make sure they are level.  They fit perfectly behind my door.  (A bonus is that my husband can't complain about my "stuff" being all over the the office AND since my desk is right next to the door, I can still see them perfectly)
What about you? Where are all of you keeping all of your punches (and anyone want to admit how many they have? You can tell us, you are among friends ;))
Don't forget to suggest us to your friends as we continue our journey to 20,000 Facebook fans!

Have a great Sunday and happy crafting!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Feature You Friday: Waterfall Card by Vickie

Good morning CraftyStealers!

This morning, we have a beautiful card from fellow CraftyStealer Vickie, to get those creative juices flowing in time for the weekend.

A little bit about Vickie:

"I am a single Grandmother with 6 Grandsons.  I have been scrapbooking for about 15 years now and had a retail and online scrapbook store called “Victoria’s Keepsakes” about 9 years ago.  I just recently retired so almost all my time is spent scrapbooking, card making, and anything else scrapbook or paper craft related.  I have really gotten hooked on card making recently and learning all the new techniques. I have a BFF that shares the same passion and joy I share in creating as well as shopping. We are attempting out first Craft Show in April so we have been really busy getting things made for that. She has a lake house near Lake Texoma that we go to as often as we can and scrapbook the weekend or week away.
I also love anytime I can get great buys on scrapbook items and Crafty Steals has lots of those. I loved the My Mind’s Eye paper pack from the Ohh La La collection.  In fact I liked it so much and it was such a “steal”, I bought a set for me, my best friend and my daughter-in-law."
And a little bit about the card, made with her CraftySteal, My Mind's Eye Ohh La La paper...

"The cards I created from this set used a new technique I found called the “waterfall” technique where when a ribbon is pulled, the card opens up to reveal several ovals with sentiments."
Love the waterfall technique! If you'd like to see some more of Vickie's work, you can visit her at her blog, Victoria's Keepsakes or "like" her Facebook page Victorias-Keepsakes  She's also selling her fabulous creations on eBay! (She's doesn't have any items currently on eBay, as she's getting ready for a craft show in April, so if you are in the DFW area, you might be able to score one in person).

Thanks, Vickie, for sharing with us!

All of you other CraftyStealers, don't forget to send in your paper-craft project pictures to blog@craftysteals.com.  You (and your blog, charitable cause or business if you have one) could be featured on a future Friday.

We are also so excited to say that CraftySteals is getting close to 20,000 fans on Facebook.  We have fabulous prizes in store for you when we get there - so please help us spread the word and suggest us to all of your friends!  Let's see how fast we can get to 20,000!
 Have a great weekend and happy crafting!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sweet Martha Stewart punches and a special guest!

Good morning Crafty Stealers!

Every once in a while, we love to be able to feature the some fresh ideas for you and to be able to showcase the creations of some great designers (well, beyond me and Stephanie!). Today, we'd like to welcome our Special Guest Designer, Carol Sheetz, to the Crafty Steals blog. You may recognize her name from her stint as a guest designer last fall. Now, before I show you Carol's handiwork, let's get to know her a little better! Here's what she wanted to say:
I'm Carol Sheetz, I live Illinois, and I am a very enthusiastic paper crafter! I have a very supportive and handsome husband and two amazing and beautiful teenage daughters! We also have an adorable Australian Shepard who is appropriately named Princess! I love to create, and I just love everything about paper crafting! I love the tactile aspect of the thick cardstock, the pretty patterned papers, the brads, the ribbons, the inks, the stamps, the embellishments, the tools . . . oh my! I just love it all! My enthusiasm for paper crafting grows greater every day! One of these days, I'm going to figure out how to make a career out of what I love to do! When you come right down to it, I'm passionate about preserving my family’s memories, and the fact that I enjoy doing it is just icing on the cake! I love to share my creations on my blog: Crazy for Crafting! I want to thank Stephanie for asking me to be a guest designer at Crafty Steals! I'm thrilled and honored!
Carol took today's steals - adorable Martha Stewart cupcake and border punches - and came up with this "sweet" card!
Would you not LOVE opening up your mailbox to find that? Thanks so much, Carol for such an adorable card! I'm sure there will be some scraplifting going on after everyone gets their punches in the mail. :)

For those of you who haven't yet tried out a Martha Stewart punch, this is a great chance to pick one up! They are by far my favorite punch (and I own quite a few punches!) They are easy to use and make a crisp, clean cut. Plus, they are always the cutest designs out there! The cupcake punch has so many possibilities for layout and cards! Valentine's Day, birthdays or an ode to your favorite cupcake joint (any Austinites out there love Hey, Cupcake? YUM!) The border punch is so simple and elegant, it would be a great tool to use on any paper project (you could even make that lunchbox love note for your kids fancy in a flash!).

Go get them before they're gone!

Thanks again, Carol! I hope everyone has a fabulous day! Happy crafting!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We have an i-rock winner!

Good morning CraftyStealers!

Can I just say WOW! Almost 400 comments on the blog, not to mention all of the FB posts.  Thank you all so much for your comments - there were some good ideas (and I laughed a little too - I'd love to see that bling-ed out toothbrush one of you mentioned :) ).

Thanks to random.org, we have our winner:

Cindy said... This is wonderful! I would use it on my soon to be 5 year old daughter's scrapbook pages and probably on some of her clothes too! She loves bling!! Thanks for the chance!! :)

Congratulations, Cindy! Please send Stephanie an email with your information and she will send out your Imaginisce i-rock and all of that fabulous bling. I hope your little girl is ready to shine!

Thanks again to all of you who entered. Be sure to head over to CraftySteals.com - the April idea books are in and there is one for every crafter - Scrapbook Trends, Cards, Simply Handmade, Embellish, Bead Trends and of course the Cricut Magazine. All available for a steal - so hurry, because they are going fast!

Have a great day and happy crafting!

Monday, March 21, 2011

You can only IMAGINE the awesomeness of our new vendor (GIVEAWAY ALERT!)

Good morning CraftyStealers!

We are super excited to introduce another new vendor today at CraftySteals.com!

Imaginisce, is the maker of some insanely adorable papers and very cool tools.  Here are a couple of fun facts about Imaginisce:
* The unusual name is a combo of "Imagine" and "Reminisce" - kind of perfect for a company that makes scrappy supplies. 
* The founder of Imagnisce is...color blind!

Well, you don't need to see color for one of their newer products - just be able to recognize the bling, baby! The product I'm talking about of course, is the i-rock tool.  It is used to heat set rhinstones and studs to paper, fabric and so much more.  It's great to add finishing touches to a layout, altered project or even your child's pink converse shoes (my daughter's favorite thing I've blinged so far!).

Today, we are giving one of you, the chance to win this fabulous i-rock bundle so you can blind everyone around you with your bling!  It has the i-rock tool, and a TON of rhinestones, stencils, flowers, and metallic studs.

All you need to do, is post a comment on our blog, letting us know what you would use your new bling on - I know you'll be creative!  We'll randomly choose a winner on Wednesday morning. 

After entering, be sure to head over to CraftySteals.com and check out today's Imaginisce steal.  We think you'll be "Enchanted" by it!

Good luck!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday School: Quilling, Anyone?

Good morning CraftyStealers!

Today, we are going to have a mini-lesson in quilling.  Quilling (also known as paper filigree) is done by rolling and then manipulating and gluing thin strips of paper, to make various shapes and intricate designs.  Quilling has been around for ages.  Literally.  According to Wikipedia, monks and nuns quilled designs on religious books during the Renaissance. Then, during the 18th century, it became popular with the "ladies." 

Until recently, I had seen quilled art and cards, but didn't know the name for it, nor did it interest me enough to find out more.  Then I started seeing some designs that I really liked, beyond the normal roses in a basket I was used to seeing. Animals, landscapes, fringed flowers, and there is even a blog out there by a woman, Sarah Yakawonis who does amazing quilled art of human anatomy. After seeing that it was an art form that had unlimited potential for creative license, I decided to give it a shot.  I was surprised to find it easier than I had thought (and also a good way to use up long paper strips).

This morning, I am going to show you how to make a quilled fringed flower.

Here are the basics tools you will need:

- a quilling tool: this is basically a stick with a little metal rod on the end that has a slit in it (open to one end so you can slide your circles off easily).  I purchased this one for a few dollars at the craft store.  I've also read that you can make one with a long eyed needle, or even just use tweezers.
- Paper Strips: You can buy special quilling papers that are the pre-cut to average thickness.  You can also you use your own papers (they need to be a medium weight to easily bend) cut carefully using a ruler or straight edge cutter.  When using your own paper, run it over the edge of a table or counter to break down the fibers a bit and make it easier to bend.

- Craft Glue: you'll just need a glue that dries clear.  I use Martha Stewart craft glue.

First, take your paper (this strip was 3/4" wide and 12" long) and cut "fringe" in it, cutting very close, but not all the way, to the edge.

Now insert one end into the quilling tool and spin the tool, keeping the paper wound tight.  When the entire length is wound, slide it off the end, keeping it tightly wound.

Attach the end with craft glue.
Push the fringe outwards with your finger.  You can add a small button, bead or bling to the center with glue.

To make the stem and leaves, you will need three 6" long strips, 1/4" wide.  Make another circle using the quilling tool, but make it a bit looser. After sliding it off of the tool, attach the end to the circle with craft glue.  Now pinch one end to a point, to make a teardrop shape. Repeat with the another 6" strip.

Now take the remaining strip and curl one end slightly with the quilling tool.  Draw the design you'd like your stem to follow on your paper in glue.  Now glue down the teardrop "leaves" you made.  Attach the head of the flower with more craft glue.  Here is my finished product, a card for my friend who just had a new baby girl.

Like I said, the possibilities with quilling are endless - your imagination is the limit! Give it a try, you just might find that it's a technique that makes perfect addition to your paper crafting hobby!

Happy crafting, and have a great Sunday!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Feature You Friday!

Good Morning CraftyStealers!

We are continuing to feature your great work on Fridays at CraftySteals! Today, we have a fun layout from Tina Walker.

Before we see it, here's what Tina had to say about herself:
"I am a working mom.  I have been crafty since I was a little girl (I have my g'ma to thank for that) and have been 'into' scrapbooking for about 15 years now.  I still have my first scrapbook and WOW, how have things changed, but I wouldn't re-do it or change it for anything.  I love how scrapbooking has embraced all types of mediums, styles, and techniques.  Anything goes, and that is perfect for me.  :)

I work the typical 9-5 job, but scrapbooking and photography are my passions.  I MUST do both in order to keep my sanity.  There is nothing better than coming home after a demanding day 'on the job' and getting 'lost' in a layout.  I thrive on imperfection, the messier the better. (even though this layout is simple and fairly neat).  I like to throw a little of this and little of that on every page and stitching is a must for me. In addition to scrapbooking, I also love photography.  Again, imperfection is what I strive for, the slightly out of focus or the slighty askew line of a photo.  Macro photography is also a favorite.

I LOVE Crafty Steals - it makes this 'art' more enjoyable when you can do it and not spend a fortune.  One of my favorite purchases was the Crate Paper - Season, Lillian, and Cottage collection.  There are so many fun projects to make with this paper.  I look forward to the future steals.  :)

Here is Tina's layout using one of those CraftySteals she loves, the Crate Paper "Season" collection:

Thanks for sharing with us, Tina! Please go visit Tina's blog, adogslife-thirteen.blogspot.com.  She says it is a "work-in-progress", but I really enjoyed looking through all of her fab layouts - some great inspiration there!

Have a wonderful Friday everyone.  Please keep sending in your creations, layouts, altered items, cards and whatever cool things you'd like to share on CraftySteals.com.  We'd love to help promote your talents as well as help get the word out about your blogs or businesses if you have one.  (But you don't have to blog or sell to get a creation featured!)  Just send a photo in to blog@craftysteals.com. And if you like to sew, knit, crochet or work with fabric or yarn, send in those projects to blog@stitchsteals.com

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A little Spring Break crafting

Good morning CraftyStealers!

My kids are on Spring Break this week.  Days One and Two went well, but Day Three was rough.  Very rough.  There were lots of arguments, lots of tattling (my three-year-old is a stickler about the rules), and lots of whining.  Throw in a broken refrigerator and a 6-year-old who thought it would be a good idea to see if he could "blow" a nickel out of his mouth (and ended up swallowing it), and I was one frazzled mom at the end of the night. 

So after the kiddos were sleeping, I gathered up some supplies, a piece of yummy Italian cream pound cake (courtesy of my broken freezer), and headed up to finish some projects that have been sitting on my desk and forget about my day! (I don't know why, but making things with your hands is such a great way to de-stress!!)

A few weeks ago, Stephanie told me she had gotten some canvas frames from EK Success, and of course I went over to the CraftySteals office and "stole" some from her.  I have been making efforts to make my kids' rooms a little more "grown up", and I thought I could make some fun frames for finishing touches.

For my daughter, I painted the canvas frames a light purple, then stamped some swirls on with white pigment ink.  I made a border punch flower, and then punched out smaller flowers. Then, because she loves sparkles, I blinged it up with some i-rock gems. (Here's a little hint - If you like to bling things, keep your eyes peeled next week for a great way to add bling to your projects!).

For my son, I painted the canvas white with a thick acrylic, for texture.  Then I made the banner with a triangle punch, added some of my favorite AC Thickers, and "strung" it across the top using some hemp string. I used some pinking shears to make some "grass" for the bottom and added stickers and rub-ons to finish off the sports theme. (All stickers, paper, Thickers and rub-ons were from the AC Junior Collection steal).

After everything was done, I was relaxed enough to hit the hay, and when the kids woke up today, they were thrilled with their new frames! I hope it's a sign of a better day to come!

Have a great day, and if Spring Break is visiting your house, I hope you are enjoying it (and getting your craft on too!)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday School: Organize that Stash!

Good morning CraftyStealers! It's Sunday School time again!

I don't know about all of you, but I'm on a constant mission to get my "stuff" organized.  With the tulips and daffodils starting to bloom around here, it's time to start my spring cleaning.  And this Spring, I'm focusing on our office/craft room.  The room was originally my son's nursery, and then later, my daughter's (it's on the same level as my bedroom).  About a year ago, we moved her upstairs and moved our office into this room.

Now, I have seen pictures of gorgeous craftrooms online, but since I have to share the space with my husband, I had to make some compromises. (He wouldn't go for the white furniture!).  So we purchased shelving, and desks, and I stuffed them full of my craft and art supplies that I pulled from the backs of cosets where they had previously been living.  I promised myself that I was going to organize my stash and be able to utilize the space to get more crafting done!! 

Yet here I am a year later, with no real organizational system in place, stuff jumbled together in drawers and cabinets (which makes it very difficult to get ANYTHING done.  Plus, for some reason my stuff seems to be multiplying in the shelves when I turn my back! (I blame CraftySteals). 

Here's what it looks like today. Now, I'm giving the real life version here - boxes and junk and all.  (I will admit to cleaning off the desktop though!). 
So this week starts my own personal Mission Organization, and along the way, I'm going to show you how I'm progressing and give you some tips on taming your treasures too. 

Today, I'm starting small, with my paper scraps.  (I'll tackle the actual paper later!).  I'm a person who saves scraps of all sizes.  I used to throw them in a drawer.  A drawer, (at least in my experience) is NOT a good method for storing the scraps to help me find them and actually USE them later.

Sometimes the answer is so simple.  And I didn't have to pay a penny for it.

I took a 12X12 album that I already had laying around (I don't use post-bound albums anymore, but have a few empty ones from years ago). 
I put in sheet protectors and a piece of 12X12 white paper in each one. The paper acts as a divider so I can get two scrap "pockets" from each protector.
Then I took my stack o' scraps and sorted them.  Now the way you sort is very personal, but I chose to do it by color and also by theme if that fit better.
Then I made tabs (I made these on the Silhouette), laminated them, and attached them to the page protectors.
Put the scraps in the pockets and label them accordingly!

Now I have handy scrap storage that can easily be changed if I need another color or paper theme added (I used a dry erase marker to label so changing the tabs is easy).  It takes up almost no space and you can see what scraps you have so much more easily than if they were jumbled all together in a box or drawer.

What about you? Anyone else working on organzing? Any other fabulous ideas to store scraps? Or do they go directly into the recycle bin...  

Have a great Sunday!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Its Feature You Friday!

Good morning, CraftyStealers!

This morning, we have a layout from CraftyStealer Sarah.  She hails from Australia and here is what she has to say about herself:
I am a 27 year old Mummy.  I have one daughter- Madeline, she is 18 months old and a lovely partner- Dwight . I also work casually as a Radiographer- doing mainly CT scans and xrays.  I started scrapping 6 years ago. I took a beginner, intermediate and advanced course at a local scrapbooking shop. Initially I put together an album for my mum and her new fiance. I collated all their love letters, photos and journalled all about their love story.  After that, I scrapped for special occasions for friends and family. I had a hiatus of a couple of years and just last year I attended a couple of classes at a local shop after which my mojo returned. And I now have gotten into the online scrapping world! 
Mostly now I love to just scrapbook pages, but I do the occasional card or off the page project. On my layouts, I love using layering, making handmade embellishments, distressing, using fabric, different textures and paint effects . At the moment my favourite products are my Silhouette SD machine (which my partner purhcased at a bargain price on CraftySteals.com!) and any Sassafras Lass products (which I get on Crafty Steals)
Scrapbooking means so much to me. I love the feeling of starting with a photo or few, picking some papers and seeing where I end up. I love the journalling side of things and the thought of making beautiful albums that will be cherished for years to come - I'm a bit of a sentimental softie : ).
Here is one of Sarah's layouts, featuring 4 Crafty Steals: Sassafrass Lass Indie Girl, My Mind's Eye Abbey Road "Whirlybird", My Mind's Eye Ooh La La and Sassafrass Lass Glitter Alphabet bundle.  (Psst...the MME Abbey Road "Whirlybird" and Sassafrass Lass "Indie Girl" steals are up on the CraftySteals.com Past Steals page!)

Thanks again, Sarah, for sharing your talents with us! If you'd like to see more of Sarah's work, check out her blog at http://www.scrapbookhabit.com/.
Don't forget, if you'd like to be featured on a future Feature You Friday, send in a picture of a favorite project to blog@craftysteals.com.  If you sew, knit or play with fabric, send in those project photos to blog@stitchsteals.com for a chance to be featured on our sister site, StitchSteals.com.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And the winners are....

Good morning CraftyStealers!

Thank you all so much for entering our WRMK giveaway. We are glad you are as excited about their products as we are!

Our first winner, and winner of the WRMK Scrapbook Pad and $5 CraftySteals.com gift certificate, is:

Elsie said...
Oh, I am dying to try the Corner Chomper! I sooo need one of those in my collection of tools.
March 8, 2011 9:32 AM

Our second winner, and winner of the $10 CraftySteals.com gift certificate, is:

Minmin said...
love the sew easy product. it is still sold out here ...thanks for the give away!
March 8, 2011 10:45 AM

Congratulations ladies. Please send Stephanie an email, and she'll get those prizes out to you!

Thanks again for all of your comments. I don't have a Crop-A-Dile or a Sew Easy, but I feel the urge to go get one of each with all of your glowing reviews!

Happy crafting!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let's welcome We R Memory Keepers to CraftySteals! (GIVEAWAY ALERT!)

Good morning CraftyStealers!

When Stephanie went to CHA in January, she brought home some great new relationships with some pretty incredible new vendors.  Last week, boxes from those new vendors started to roll in.  The first one that we are so excited to share with you is We R Memory Keepers.

For a little history lesson on WRMK, I'll take you back 90 years.  That's right! We R Memory Keepers began 90 years ago, as a bookbinding business built by William R. Hiller and his two sons.  In fact, their company was one of the first to make a book specifically designed to keep memories (and not be *just* a photo album).   They have fantastic, quality products, like albums, page protectors (I have a great project coming up using their versatile page protectors), tools (Crop-A-Dile, anyone?), embellishments, and papers.  An added bonus? WRMK products are manufactured in USA.

We R Memory Keepers sent this special gift for a lucky CraftySteals customer:

We R Memory Keepers Tiffany's Scrapbook Pad
More than just paper, this stack of inspiration includes die-cuts and stickers in one awesome pad. A medley of robust, enticing designs await your interpretation and artistic touch. With more than 500 fabulous pieces, the crafting possibilities are practically limitless.

What You Get
12 designer papers with glitter (4 designs, 3 sheets each)
36 designer papers (12 designs, 3 sheets each)
Sheet of die-cut shapes with glitter
Alphabet sticker sheet
Alphabet chipboard sheet with glitter

We R Memory Keepers Tiffany's Scrapbook Pad Features
Over 500 pieces!
Die-cut pieces easily pull apart for use
Directions for two cool layouts get you crafting right away
Standard 12" x 12" sheets

And because we love our CraftyStealers so much, we decided to up the ante and add a $5 CraftySteals gift certificate to this prize.

PLUS, we'll also be giving away an additional $10 CraftySteals gift certificate to another lucky CraftyStealer.

So to recap:

*one lucky winner will get the WRMK's Tiffany's Scrapbook Pad
  AND a $5 CraftySteals Gift Certificate

*one lucky winner will get a $10 CraftySteals Gift Certificate

All you have to do to win one of these great prizes is to leave a comment below, telling us what your favorite We R Memory Keepers product is (or if you don't have one, take a look at their webpage and tell us one you'd love to TRY!). 

We will randomly choose two winners on Thursday morning.

Don't forget to check out today's We R Memory Keepers CraftySteal!

Happy crafting, and good luck!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday School: Tips from a Pro

Good Morning Crafty Stealers!

 How many of you have a nice big camera, fully loaded, yet still can't seem to get that great shot of your child? That was (is?) me, to a T.  A few years ago, I thought if I had a better camera, then gosh darnit, my pictures would be so much better.  So after convincing my husband to get me a DSLR for our anniversary/Christmas/New Baby and every holiday that year present, I was a little bummed that most of my pictures still stunk. 

After getting to know some professional photographers, I now know, it's not the camera, but the person behind it who makes all the difference! Point-and-shoot,  DSLR or iPhone, if you don't know how to take a photo, chances are, your photo isn't going to look like those dreamy pictures in a Gap ad.  They'll look like they always have, except taken with a more expensive camera.

This Sunday, we are trying to help solve that problem.  We welcome our friend, professional photographer, Courtney Miller of Courtney Leigh Photography.  She is a natural-light newborn, children and family photographer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  And believe me when I say her pictures are AMAZING.  Below, Courtney has shared some tips to getting a great portrait of your child. 
1. Get on Their Level

    • I've noticed a lot of adults have the habit of taking pictures of children while standing at their full adult height. The resultant image is a looking-down-at-child-from-an-adult-perspective. Next time you're snapping pictures, try getting down on the CHILD'S level. Getting eye-to-eye with your child lets you have a little glimpse into the world they see and frames the story in a child's point of view.  The added benefit of an awesome glute workout is just an extra bonus...which you can thank me for later!   
2. Avoid Distracting Elements
    • This one is hard to catch while shooting, but if you keep it in mind,  you can start getting in the habit of looking for distracting elements in your composition. Things like say, trees growing out of your toddler's head, a stray sippy cup on a side table, or an entire parking lot looming in the background. Just turning the camera a quarter of an inch, or tossing an offending item out of the screen, will save you loads of distress when those downloaded files show up on your computer screen.
3.  Keep shooting!!!        
    • You're not going to get that winning image if you never take your camera out of the bag. Trust me, I'm as guilty of this as anyone! But, just having that camera ready, even if it's just the camera on your iPhone, will assure that you never miss those spontaneous moments that you treasure about your child. It's all about documenting your family's story. It doesn't always have to be perfection, just take the picture.  Ten years from now, you'll all be glad you did!
Here are a few of Courtney's amazing photos:

Thanks, Courtney, for sharing your expertise with all of us!  I know my pictures will never look like yours, but at least maybe it won't look like my three-year-old was behind the lens!

Be sure to visit CourtneyLeighPhotography.com or "like" Facebook at Courtney Leigh Photography to check out more of her incredible photography!

I hope the sun is out so you can get out those cameras!  Have a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, March 4, 2011

It's Feature You Friday - come see some inspiration!

Our innaugural Feature You Friday is here! We've gotten some incredible projects so far, thanks for sending them in!

The first to catch our eye, was the work of CraftyStealer Lynn Darda, and here's what she had to say about herself:
"I began card-making about 20 years ago.  I remember the very first stamp set I bought to make party invitations.  I was hooked!  Now I make all my own cards and teach workshops on card-making locally.  The transition to scrapbooking came quite easily as I just love to "play" with the paper!  I usually include some stamping in all my cards and layouts.  When Crafty Steals offers Unity Stamps I find it hard to resist, like the "with sympathy" set that I used for this card set.  It has thoughtful sentiments and  beautiful images that can be used for other cards as well.  I also love it when Crafty Steals offers idea books, like  SCRAPBOOK TRENDS and CARDS magazines.  In 2007, I became a MemoryWorks consultant, so I have another great source for creative goodies.  I started my own creative blog, From My Bungalow, almost a year ago.  The best part of all these crafty endeavors has been meeting new people, and spending time with old friends, who share the passion for papercrafting."
Here are Lynn's gorgeous cards using the "With Sympathy" set from Unity Stamps that she got from CraftySteals.   The paper is Basic Grey's Marjolaine (I LOVE those blues!).

Thanks again for sharing your talents with us, Lynn! 

Don't forget to check out her blog, From My Bungalow, and congratulate her for being a Memory Works blog guest designer for the month of March.

Have a wonderful Friday CraftyStealers! Keep sending in your paper crafty work to blog@craftysteals.com and your stitchy work to blog@stitchsteals.com for consideration for future Feature You Fridays.  We are LOVING what we've seen so far!