Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New changes, new ways of thinking.

I hope you enjoyed last week’s summer Mason jar project.   I will be posting at least once a week on a Tuesday with either a SVG cut out that you can cut on your Cricut Explore, a review of some sort of crafting tool or crafting line, a tip or a project that you can either make yourself, or purchase on my Etsy shop, which is a finished project or a pattern to build from.  It may not happen all at once, but these are my plans at the moment.  Please make a comment on anything that you have tried, liked, hated (be gentle, but I won’t bite J if you think it is the worst project you ever seen), or think I should try.  I am relearning.   I have lots of habits to break, such as consistency of blog posts (taking a lesson from being away for so long).  I have learned a lot from a couple of classes and reading articles on the etiquette of social media.  So I am taking it slowly, and building back my momentum, by first posting once a week, and writing a schedule.
Soon, Blogger will be going away from me slowly, and this blog will be going to a mostly WordPress platform.  I keep saying this, but the true of the matter is I am scared, and I am scared on so many levels right now.  I am scared that in the mist of this move, Google will decide that my blog is no longer good enough for them, and they take it down.  I am scared that while I trying to re-build this blog (and I have 4 others that I have been typing in more than this one), some random hacker(s) will come to steal the very content that I have been writing on this platform since 2009.  But you know what?  I am not worried, because I know someone who is bigger than the universe, and who will protect my integrity, and knows that I will produce good works, and that is God.  I am going to stop right there, because I know I have just offended someone, but I do not care.  This blog was founded on my belief system, and I love doing what I am doing, and believing in who I believe in, because I am a survivor, and I am not going to give up, as the old Destiny’s Child song rings out.
Sorry, I went a little off-topic.
I have been playing with my Cricut Explore, especially the Design Studio, and learned that I can share what I create.  Last week was a preview of what I can do.   This week, it is shipping labels.   We all need them, at least I do.  This one is a little fancy, but Postal ready.   If you are having problems opening this or last week’s file, please let me know.
This is file is formatted for US addresses.

·        Mailing label

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sign Up for the Cricut Newsletter and Enter to Win a Cricut Explore™!

Caution:  Affiliate Links ahead...

Have you ever thought to yourself, "Man, if only I didn't have to cut up all this paper/vinyl/vellum/cardstock/chipboard/aluminum/leather/felt/acetate/fabric by hand! What I wouldn't do for a Cricut Explore™!" Here's what you do! Sign up below to receive the Cricut Newsletter by August 19th, and you'll be automatically entered into a drawing to win a Cricut Explore™! Use your email or login with Facebook and you will automatically sign up for the Cricut newsletter and be entered to win the giveaway.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Summer share-time: Mason Jar Cutout

It’s August, and it is almost time for going back to school, getting to know your teachers….that sort of thing.   Well, just because there are lot to do during the day, that does not mean you can be lazy at night.  I am talking about putting down the electronics, go outside (especially if you live in the country or out in the suburbs), grab a mason jar, and fill it full of fireflies.
Of course, before attempting these things, the following has to be done:
·         Dinner
·         Homework
·         And of course, get ready for bed.
Moms (and a few helpful fathers) can use this free for personal use Mason jar cutout, if they have a Cricut Explore to cut out a sign, so that each child can know whose batch of fireflies is whose. 
Not into fireflies?   No problem.  You can use this cutout to make a layout, labels, or even a mini book. The possibilities are endless.
·         Mason Jar cutout

Monday, May 26, 2014

Did you know...Cricut Free Images/Project

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Free Images and Featured Projects at Cricut
Sometimes all we need to get the creative juices flowing is a little inspiration, and at Cricut they have just the thing. Each week Cricut posts free images of the week that you can download and use to create hundreds of new projects—from iron-ons for fabric to vinyl stickers for furniture—each one paired with an exciting project that you can make. In addition to the image, they also feature projects from their online community, both easy and moderate in complexity, everything for all levels of DIYers. All of these cutout designs can be made with the Cricut Explore™, a design-and-cut system for making amazing, affordable DIY craft projects. It’s the easiest way to turn an idea into a finished project right in your own home. Check out Cricut to jumpstart your own cutout art.

Here are the free image and featured projects for this week...



Sunday, May 25, 2014

Want to try something new? Register for a mini class.

Try a Free Mini Class at Craftsy
**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Are you looking to take your crafting to the next level, or perhaps branch out and learn a new skill, but aren't sure where to get started? Check out the Craftsy Free Classes, mini classes that allow you to sample everything from food classes (Who couldn't use Complete Knife Skills with Brendan McDermott?), to quilting (How fun would A New Look at Longarm Quilting with Mandy Leins - FREE! be?), to photography (Seriously, Learn How To Take Professional Family Portraits with Craftsy for FREE! could only help us all.) and more! Just register for your Craftsy account and get started!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Making your first project from your new Cricut Explore…

Last month (yes it has been that long, sorry), I talked about taking the machine out of the box.  I have been delayed for a couple of reasons.  1) Life got a little crazy, and 2) I was learning the new machine, which is a little different than what I was used to.  Today, let’s make our first project.
One of the first things you may want to do, is to clear some space on your hard drive for some SVGs if you do not want to grab images from your cartridges all the time (if you are a previous cricut owner).  I will be speaking from the point of view of a person who has never owned a Cricut machine at all.
When you first log into Design Space, you will see this window:

 On the upper left hand corner, click on the green log-in button, and a pop-up screen like this will show up (I am assuming you have already signed up for an account before you get to this point.) If you have another Cricut machine, the information you gave when you first started using Cricut Classroom software (if you decided to hook your machine to the computer), has already transferred that information when you registered Cricut Explore.
Type in your user name and password and click the green button on the lower right-hand side of the screen.  You are now ready to start your first project, and the login screen will disappear and you will be back to the first screen.

Hit the blue square to make a project from a blank canvas, or make a project from the pictured windows below the blue square.
Let’s tackle a ready to make project first.
One thing to say about these projects is there are project for every aspect of your life:  cards, jewelry, flowers, home d├ęcor, and decorating your electronic equipment to name a few.  I am going to pick a card.  I am going to be working on an explosion card.



When you first get to the project sheet it will look like this:
Every project sheet will have the name of the project, how difficult it is, and how long it will take you to complete it from start to finish.
The description describes the project, which includes what size the project is supposed to be when you finish it.  Please note, these are all the suggested size, you are welcome to change the project.  More in detail later.
On the right hand side, you will find the materials or ingredients needed to make this project, as well as the instruction.  Oh, I almost forgot the important part of the project, the template, (or images).  It will be listed below the project and what image you will need to cut out.  What I like about this is also tells you how much it will cost to download the image.  In this case, it is free.  If you get the subscription, most of your images are free with your subscription (which is optional).  More on that later as well.   On the right lower part are three things, the price, customize, and Make It Now.  The customize button allows you to determine what size, shape or saying you want.  Make It Now means there are no changes, and you are ready for the cutting mat.   I am going to customize it…
So, at this point, it does not matter if you are going to customize it or now, because now you are on a screen which looks like a cutting mat.  It is your virtual mat, and if you have seen this on Cricut Classroom or on another die-cutting machine program such as a Silhouette, this is where you do all your work from start to finish cut, and it looks like this.  As you see here, the background is white, with tool bars on the top and to the left.   I will explain the screen in further detail in the next post, but for right now, I want to point you towards the editing portion of the screen.   You will also determine how big or small you want you project.  Canvas Properties shows you how big you project will be in width and length, what type of fold to expect, and the size of the card.  Layers shows you the different layers of the card, and what layer you want to cut, write, or score.  Also in the layers feature, you can group and ungroup a project, work on what needs changed, and then attach it to cut, write, and score all on one mat.  I am also going to into this in more detail when I get to make your own project.  I was just introducing you to the canvas.

Next time, I will show you the finer details of cutting out an already created project.  Oh, you will also find out what a powerful little green button can do to a machine, otherwise known as the little go button.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

How to unpack and get going with your new Cricut…

photo by Gizmag.com
I got a new toy.  Actually it is a helper toy, as that is how I want to look at my new Cricut Explore.   Over the past few weeks, I have explained how I got talked into (for those of you still banning ProvoCraft-snookered) buying this machine, on FlexPay through HSN (Home Shopping Network for those of you not in The States or Canada).  Next, I explained that my newest electronic baby was in the house.   Well now, it is out of the box (after a week of stalling), and I will explain to you how to prep your machine for use.
Yes, you heard me right, prep my machine.   According to ProvoCraft (PC going forward), you should be able to just plug in and go, right?  Not if you have a stubborn system like mine---computer system that is.   Let me explain a little bit about my computer system.
I purchased my computer system in an emergency in 2008.  The reason for the emergency, my last computer crashed without warning.  It was a Dell Dimension system.  Loved it to pieces.   I was not much for being a techie at that time    Anyway, I was working on something, and the computer would not act right, so I turned it off.  Turned it back on moments later, and I got a checkerboard pattern on my screen… not good.
I had something important, and I needed a computer fast.  There was no damage to the hard drive, so the tech was able to transfer everything to this current system.  So now, 7 years later, I need a new system, and so far, so good.
So, what does the computer has to do with the Cricut?  If you have been watching the development of the cricut machines over the years, all machines up to the new one has software that if you choose to, can allow your Cricut machine to cut with or without the computer.  They depend on the cartridges, which cost at least 4 credit card payments, unless you catch them on a sale.  After all, that is why most people who have the machines, love them.  With the new one, it is totally internet dependent.  You cannot work this machine without the use of the computer and internet.  Trust me, I have tried it already.  If you are scare of the computer, I suggest that you stick with the Expressions, Expressions 2, and Mini machine if you do not want to be totally computer dependent.
Well, if you bought into the HSN deal, and you have not registered your little baby, let me guide you the next step:
Once you thank the nice UPS person for bringing your box (yes, mine was nice…after all, this thing weights a ton), it is going to come in the ugly, box, that takes a blowtorch to get into it (do not try this, a nice box cutter or your craft knife will do).   Turn the box over and gently shake your machine out of the box.  Oh look…another box, and this one comes with a handle!!!!  Do not panic, the first box is for UPS (Fed-ex, or whoever does the shipping in your area) to ship your precious machine to your home.  Open the second box, which does not need a box cutter for it, and you will see your shipping label.   This is your return label, in case want to return the machine back to its home (or where the sun don’t shine…Etc…).  The machine is a keeper J
Next, you will find a plastic tray with a set of instructions that says, “Start Here.”  Next to it is a big 12 x 12 folder.   Start here contains the instructions for setting up your machine and the other contains your papers and a mat.  I will get to that in a moment.  Lift that tray out of the box and you will find the star of the show…your machine in a grey bag.  In case you want to show off your newest find, you have something to carry it in.  A first for PC.  Take it out and set it on a flat surface.  Under the machine, you will find a small box.  This contains the USB cable to connect your computer, an electrical cord to plug up your machine (white) and your pen.  Start by plugging your machine up and once you plug it in, turn it on.  I like to do that, in case something go damaged in the shipping.  If anything is wrong (like it won’t turn on), you can call PC, and pack that puppy up and they will ship you a new one. 
Plug in the USB plug.  Now this is tricky if you are not used to plugging up these things.  After all, most electronic devices do come with them.  There is a short stubby end.  Plug that end to the machine itself.  On the other end is a sort of fat, flat metal plug.  Plug that into the computer.  My computer has four USB ports in the front.  One is used my wireless mouse, one for network cable/WIFI, another for my Expressions 2 to connect to Cricut Classroom (more on that software later…), and the last one is for the Explore.
Once plugged, go to www.cricut.com/design to get the software.  One thing to note, this is not software that sits on your hard drive, so no space will be taken up, except to hold your SVG designs.   For that, I suggest you get a free cloud to hold it all.  I am not going to get techie on you, but a cloud software is the latest thing out there.  It is just a big hard drive and like any hard drive, you are given so many gigabytes to store any of your projects, documents, and such.   If you never had an account with PC before, you will be asked to create one.  I have one, so it was a matter of transferring a copy of my information to the new software.   Turn on your machine, and the software will detect it.   If you have taken HSN’s deal to use 2500 images for the next three months, free, it will detect that too.  After the setup, you are finished.   Time to enjoy your machine.

If this your first time in the world of Cricut, I have a review of one the other machines.  You can view it here.   You can also find all sorts of reviews by just search for Cricut.  The machines have been around since 2005 or so.  So I hope that has been educational as well as entertaining.  I thought I was banning it because of the Imagine boo-boo, but nothing can tear me away from this thing called The Cricut Explore Die Cutting Machine.