Sunday, December 27, 2009


Well, E surprised me this year for Christmas by getting me a Cricut Expression! He was originally turned off by it because it wasn't able to cut shapes and fonts that were not on a Cricut cartridge. However, he found a program that allows the Cricut to cut TrueType fonts, Illustrator files, and other custom graphics, so he got over that initial misgiving. When I was at the SBO retreat back in November, there were 12 ladies there and 5 Cricuts!

It's very easy to use, I got it working right out of the box. I'll have to experiment a bit with cutting depths and pressure, etc., and I definitely need to get the deep cut blade to cut chipboard.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ready for Holidays (in Hand)

I've prepped my album for the Holidays in Hand class that Jessica Sprague ran over the last two weeks. I printed my daily prompts on regular paper and stacked them up on an altered mini clipboard that was hanging around my stash. I don't plan on keeping these prompt sheets after the project is done, so I'm not concerned about the quality of the paper or if I scribble all over them.

I'm using an old Bazzill 6" x 12" album that I won back at CKU Boston in 2006, and never figured out what to use it for. I've pre-cut all of my layout base papers to 6x12, and I'm using plain cardstock and sheets from a My Mind's Eye stack that I bought at Michael's. I printed out the number text that Jessica provided and mounted them onto strips of green cardstock so I can just snip them to length when I'm ready.

Because I'm not using a square album, I can't really use the templates that Jessica provided, so I'm working on my own template. It will be simple so that I can put the pages together fast. I will likely use office tags as my journaling spots and handwrite my notes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holidays in Hand

Okay, so I'm a little behind on this, but I intend to see it through, so here I am! :) I'm taking Jessica Sprague's Holidays in Hand class, which guides you through the process of creating an album during the month of December. You get all the prep done ahead of time, then spend a bit of time each day during December building each page.

One of the exercises is to state your holiday values. These are the things that mean the most to you and your family during the December holidays. We celebrate Christmas, so obviously our values focus on that holiday.

Our major values are family gathering, food, music, traditions, and decorations.

Some actions I'd like to take during the holiday season include:
  • We'll make Christmas cookies together with the kids
  • We'll teach at least 5 Christmas songs to the kids
  • I'll take pictures while we decorate the house for Christmas
  • I'll commit to 20 minutes of journaling/creating/photo-taking/scrapbooking each day during December.
My next step is to print out the daily prompts for December. I'm printing them on regular paper, and I'll probably mount them on cardstock and link them up with binder rings. I haven't decided exactly how I'll display them, maybe an easel style.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't Forget Your Teachers!

Only two more months until Christmas! Are you making any handmade gifts for anyone on your list this year? Handmade items make great gifts for teachers, particularly if you create items that teachers can use in the classroom. Here's a few of my resources and articles for handmade and semi-handmade gifts that teachers will love:

Teacher Gift Ideas

Ideas for Handmade Christmas Gifts
My altered notepad holders and other gifts at

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dress it Up

I'm adding some embellishment packs to my Etsy store. I had put these packages together for the craft fair I worked at this past spring. These packs are great because I hate buying a whole package of chipboard or embellishments when I only want one or two of something. I put up chipboard packs today, and I have small and large embellishment packs by color that I'll be putting up later.

Check out my Etsy store HERE!

Edit: fixed the link. I didn't realize I pasted a Lowe's page in there instead!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oh it feels so good... be creating again. I finished a layout last night, and I'm currently working on altering a binder album that will hold my Travel layouts. I'm going to an altered book workshop on Monday that my friend Christine is hosting, and I've got ideas percolating in my head. My creative juices have been dormant for a while, so this is a great feeling. Here's a Halloween card I did for the Examiner Scrap Challenge; a simple yet cute card using scrap papers.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Boston Scrap Challenge!

Hey all you Boston/New England ladies! I'm starting a new weekly feature at to provide you with a weekly scrap challenge. Anything goes for these challenges, I could ask you to scrap a certain theme, a certain product, a certain technique, or something completely crazy. So check out Boston Scrap Challenge #1 posted today, and check back every Friday (or even better, subscribe to my Examiner feed) for new challenges.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Writing for

I wasn't going to post this until I've had a bit more experience with writing there, but I've had a few people ask me about writing for, and how they can apply. is an online news and information portal that has local editions, depending on where you're located. There are individual city editions, and some cities have neighborhood editions to provide a micro-local take on their subject. Each Examiner covers a certain topic in a certain area. I'm the Boston Scrapbooking Examiner, but there are other Scrapbooking Examiners in other cities, as well as a national Scrapbooking Examiner. Examiners report on news items that are of interest to their topic, and provide resources that readers could use. Readers can subscribe to an Examiner's feed to get email updates when new entries are posted.

Writers earn money based on page views, ad revenues, subscribers, and other factors. The exact formula is not made known, but my rough return so far has been about 9 cents for every 10 page views. It's not making me rich yet, but it can build up, and I know other Examiners who are doing quite well.

So, how do you get involved with Examiner? Go to the Examiner web site, and scroll down to where it says "Now Recruiting in (Your Town)". Click on the link for available topics, and search through to find what you need. Scrapbooking is part of Home and Living, if you're interested in that topic. If you're not seeing your local towns, go back to the top of the page and select your edition. When you find what you're looking for, click on the SELECT link next to the topic to apply.

When you apply, there's a spot at the end of the application that allows you to enter the name of an Examiner who referred you. I'd love it if you added my name (Susan Kristoff)/Examiner number (24560), but there's no requirement to do so. I do get a referral fee of $50 if you list me as a referral and you are hired as an Examiner, so yes, there's something in it for me.

If you have any other questions, let me know!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where's my gadget gals at?

Two new releases this week:

Xyron Creatopia
- Kind of a silly name if you ask me, but this is like the Swiss Army knife of the scrap world, seriously.
Cricut Gypsy - Holds all of your Cricut cartridge data and is a portable design studio.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spreading the Good Scrap News...

Awesome fun scrappy news, I've just been hired as the Boston Scrapbook Examiner at! Examiner is a website that provides a local focus on a wide variety of topics, and has Examiners all over the country that create content.

So, I'll be sharing information on local stores, crops, conventions and events, as well as letting my readers know about new product releases, tips and techniques, and links to all sorts of resources.

There's not much there yet, but please visit the Boston Scrapbook Examiner page and subscribe to my feed if you want to be notified when I post new information.

If you're in the New England area, and you have something you'd like to promote, like a store, an event, or a service related to scrapbooking, please contact me and I'll post about it on Examiner!

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Cricut Gypsy

I don't own a Cricut, so this device would be totally useless to me, but the gadget gal in me likes the concept. A portable device that stores all of your Cricut cartridges, and allows you to lay out your cutting plans on the screen so you can best conserve your paper.

Check out my summary article at Suite101: What is the Cricut Gypsy?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Etsy Fun!

I've started an Etsy store to sell some of my paper crafts. I'm starting by adding some of the items I was selling at the craft fair this past spring, but I'll add other items along the way. Check it out!

Cygnus Artworks at Etsy

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I've been writing articles at Suite101 for a couple of years now, and while I generally focus on Engineering topics, I do write some crafting articles when I need a change of pace. Here are the links to my craft-related articles. Most are how-tos and easy projects!

How to Create a Decorative Canvas
Choosing a Paper Trimmer
Altered and Decorated Frames
Altered Notepad Holder
Creating an Altered Clipboard
Handmade Teacher Gifts (This has been one of my most popular articles!)
Altering Chipboard with Paper
5 Essential Cutting Tools
10 Essential Scrapbooking Tools (Great for someone just starting to scrap!)
Chipboard 101
Custom Envelopes for Gift Cards
Recycling Holiday Cards

Thursday, September 10, 2009

You want what???

I was going through my blog stats for one of my blogs, and over the last month, I've had six different searches (coming from different locations, countries) for "engineer christmas cards" or some close variation.

Christmas cards with an engineering theme?

Hrm. I like a challenge....

Thursday, September 03, 2009


I made these two little canvases, and they were so much fun! I'm going to find some more in different sizes, I want to make a few for my kitchen.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Taking Stock

I have been sorting out layouts that are in my existing albums, basically taking some layouts out of the kids' albums and creating some new themed albums: Celebrate, Travel, and Family. I think that all of my layouts have homes in an album now. I do have ideas for future albums, such as making a School album, or a separate Family album for extended family as opposed to immediate family, but this is good for now. I have a ton of school-related stuff to scrap for both kids this summer.

I've been planning a bunch of activities for me and the kids this summer, trying to work in educational aspects with each so we can learn about new things. For example, I'm thinking of taking the kids to Concord to where the Revolution started so we can talk about America's founding and birthday around July 4th. Also a trip to the Worcester Art Museum and then do some painting, etc. I am thinking of making a simple journal/scrapbook for Perrin to put photos and his notes, maybe a 6x6 spread per week.

I need to take more pictures anyways, I've hardly taken pictures at all this year. I took some at Perrin's party last weekend but I haven't even looked at them yet. I need to go through my pics and get a whole pile of them printed. I think that's been one reason I haven't done much scrapbooking, I haven't had any photos to scrap.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fun Fair Results

We had the Fun Fair at P's school this past weekend, and I had my craft table set up. Mind you this is the first time I've ever done a fair, so I really had no idea what I was doing. I basically broke even, which considering my thoughts afterward, really wasn't that bad.

I realized I hadn't really considered my audience. While there were plenty of moms who looked at my stuff, the fair was mostly for elementary school kids, and if I did this specific fair again, I'd want to have more items that appealed to kids in that age group. Also, I definitely need more cards, including a better assortment of birthday cards.

I am thinking about doing another fair in May. It's a larger fair, and just for crafters. _E might make some wood items for me to sell too. I'm thinking I might alter some birdhouses and make some more canvases. In the meantime, I think I'm going to add some of my stuff to my Etsy store (I have nothing there yet, which is why I never mentioned it). I took a couple of pics at the fair this weekend, see them below.

And I actually started back in on my scrap space reorg last night. In the last few days before the fair I made a huge mess of my space as I finished things up. So, I cleaned off my scrap table last night, and sorted out some of my stuff. I need to make a run to Ikea sometime to get some drawer sets for my shelves for embellishments and other things.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Creative endeavors have been delayed a bit.....we've had some issues with ice on our roof and DH and my FIL have been out scraping snow and ice off our roof. One of these methods involves hanging out our skylights in our attic, so all my craft stuff had to be moved so they could set the ladder up under the skylights. So, things are on hold.

I've been brainstorming items to make for my craft table at the fair. I've made four more of those notepad holders, and I have the coasters to make a few more. I've found a few pre-made albums that I made at conventions or classes that I never used. I think next I'm going to make some cards. I have a bunch of ideas in mind, so if I can make six or so of each, I'll have a good batch. Some of the SBO sistas suggested that pre-made pages sell well. I have a whole bunch of pages that I made while teaching classes that I never added photos or titles to, so I think I'll embellish them up a bit. So far, all I've spent is the $15 for the table, so I'm in good shape.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Featured Article at Helium

An article I wrote was featured on the front page of, an information portal. Oddly enough it was the lower ranked of the two in the category, go figure? It's a beginner's article, but go read it anyways, LOL!

Getting Started with Scrapbooking

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bad Blogger.

Nothing to report. Nothing new. Although my scrap table is mostly cleared off, and I've picked out some ribbon to make some cute coaster notepad holders (instructions HERE if you want to make your own).

Friday, January 16, 2009

Side Project - Craft Fair

Well, I found out the other day that P's school is having a Fun Fair in March, and they are renting tables for vendors. So, I got the bright idea of using up as much stuff in my stash as I can, and selling it at a table at the fair. E thinks it's a good idea, and the gals at SBO gave me some good advice and ideas for products that I hadn't thought of. So, I need to clean off my scrap table, and actually scrap and organize at the same time. *cringe* I could really use the extra $$, and I have so much extra paper and embellishments and alterables and albums that I could really put to good use, rather than just taking up space in my stash. may see some more crafty creations here too if I can get my act together. :) I have to pay for the table now, so that will get me moving!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sorting, sorting, sorting

I haven't updated in a couple days, because I'm not doing anything too exciting. Right now I'm sorting through all of my scrap materials and putting like things together. I took a box and put all of the cards I've made, card blanks and envelopes in there. Any other cards I come across will go in there. Another box for ribbon, and so on. So like I said, not too exciting.

According to the book, you shouldn't even think about buying any new containers until you've sorted and purged, so you can see how much storage space you really need. Makes sense, but still hasn't stopped me from perusing the Ikea web site. I like their stuff because it's simple and cheap. So, later on after I've done my sorting and purging, I'll be making a road trip to our nearest Ikea (1+ hour drive, unfortunately).

I have been coming across a lot of scrap projects I've never photographed or scanned, so maybe I'll share those here occasionally so there's at least some interesting content once in a while.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Organizing Acrylic Stamps

My friend Nicole at SBO was asking about ways to store acrylic stamps in a method that's efficient yet accessible. I totally LOVE my storage method for my acrylic and unmounted rubber stamps, and it's probably one of my best organizational items in my scrap area. I do not honestly know where I found the idea, I did not come up with this idea myself.

I use a 3-ring binder, 8.5x11 transparencies, and page protectors that hold 8.5x11 sheets. I can then flip through the binder to find the stamps I need, and this method also allows me to store Technique Tuesday stamps that are already stored on their own full sized sheet.

I start with a blank transparency and the sheet of acrylic stamps that I want to transfer. I adhere the printed plastic piece that the stamps are adhered to in their package to one side of the transparency, then cling the matching stamps to the opposite side of the transparency, matching it up with the image on the printed plastic piece. The pic below shows the "stamp" side of a transparency, so everything looks reversed.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Rearranging Furniture

I made a slight change to my scrap space furniture, and I'm really happy with the results. See photo below. I moved the second bookcase next to the first bookcase (scroll down a few posts to see the original setup), and I like how much more "homogeneous" it looks. I have some ideas for storage elements to go into the shelves that will make everything even more consistent looking.

My thoughts for "zones" is to have materials in the left bookcase, tools, albums, photos, books, and such in the right bookcase, and display of items across the top of the bookcases, and across the wall in front of my desk.

A side note, see that little table to the right of my craft table? That's the kid craft table, and while it's covered with my junk for now, it will be just for the kids later. I also have a trash can that will go between the two tables.

Next step will be to start sorting through my stuff. I've been starting to put like things together to simplify that process. While I sort, I'll purge out things that I really don't need. My sister has volunteered to take any unwanted materials off my hands for her own crafting needs.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Break in the Action

I took a break in my organizing activities to scrap a couple of thank you notes that I needed to send out. Thought I'd share those today instead of my philisophical ramblings about my lack of organizational prowess.

Cards are made completely from scraps. No sheets of 12x12 paper were harmed during the construction process. I don't know most of the manufacturers, though the ribbon in both cards is Strano (Strano = yummy). I had a couple of scraps that were just about the right width for the card.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Part 2 - Strategize!

After analyzing what I like and don't like about my space, and all of my therapeutic postings below, it's now time to strategize what I need.

A. Define Your Zones

I figured out that my scrap space has six zones:

1. Work space - My crafting table. This is where I'd sit and work.
2. Material storage - Where I keep all of my papers, embellishments, etc. Pretty much consumable stuff.
3. Tool storage - Where I keep all of my cutting tools, stamps, inks, and other non-consumable stuff. Also includes idea books and mags that I want to keep.
4. Project storage - Where I keep projects that are in process. I am the type of person that works on more than one thing at a time, and I want a logical way to store things that I'm working on so I'm not pushing piles around on my table.
5. Project display - I do have several things I'd like to display in my space, such as cards, altered items, ATCs, and other things.
6. Computer space - This is only sort of related to my crafting space, but includes my printer and CraftRobo, which I REALLY want to start using more. Also storing CDs with fonts and digi elements.

The goal is to have each of these zones be discrete areas, such as one bookshelf for material storage, one for tools, etc.

My next steps are to map out my space, and rearrange furniture to get a general configuration that I'm happy with. I'll take pics at that point.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Analyze - Continued

Here's the rest of the "Analyze" phase of my scrap space reorg. Parts 1 and 2 were posted last week, scroll down to read those.

3. What items are essential to you?

Is this a trick question? I think I need everything. :) There's no one category of items I know I can toss, or there's no one area of stuff I'm really missing. I'll evaluate what I need and don't need on a case by case basis when I sort and purge later.

4. Why do you want to get organized?

-So I have a place to be creative.
-So I have a home for all of my supplies and tools, and it's easy to get things and put things away.
-S0 I eliminate all of the crap I'm never going to use.
-So I have an attractive workspace that I look forward to working in.
-So I have space to work efficiently.
-So I finish projects and am able to share them.

5. What's holding you back?

This is that deep philosophical question, right? Something I need a therapist to help me with? Basically, I am overwhelmed with the clutter, and the task of sorting, purging, organizing and just coping with it. I have issues with large projects: I see the clutter and I just avoid the situation. I haven't scrapped layouts in months (outside of the SBO retreat) because I have no space to lay out the project. I hardly even take pictures, and I want to keep recording the memories that my family is making.

I know that this process is already helping me attack the situation, and I am far less anxious about it than I have been before. Next up? Planning the general layout of my space, and maybe moving furniture around a bit to see how I like the looks of things.

P.S. I have to offer my apologies to Ms. Morgenstern, the author of the book I'm using as a guide for my organization process. (Organizing from the Inside Out) I have misspelled her name several different ways in every single post, and her first name is Julie, not Julia! I've gone back and corrected her name. I'm really picky about name spelling myself, and I feel bad when I get someone's name wrong. Not that she's reading my blog or anything, but I feel better knowing I've got it right.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Analyze - Part 2: What's not Working

Oh, where to begin....

My biggest beef is that so many of my things in my craft space do not have a home, or have a home that is not adequate. Here are a few of my specific peeves:

1. Chipboard - Currently, most of my chipboard supply is in an overflowing shoebox. I hate trying to go through it. The shoebox does not include my Fancy Pants Big Board chipboard, which I keep with my 12x12 paper because it's that big, or my grungeboard, which wouldn't fit into the overflowing shoebox anyways. The grungeboard moves around depending on whether I need whatever it's currently sitting on top of.

2. Inks - I have several different kinds of inks, and they are scattered in three or four places. I have a drawer in one of my little drawer sets that is supposed to be for ink, but I keep my acrylic blocks in there too, along with some well-intentioned organizing bins that really don't fit anything. I also have ink pads sitting on my scrap table, in my scrap tote, and all my Ranger distress inks and accessory stuff is in another shoebox on the other side of the room.

3. Larger embellishments - These are also scattered all over the place. Some are in drawers, others in shoe boxes, no real system at all.

4. ATCs - I have a whole bunch of artist trading cards that I've made myself or received in swaps and they're all in a box that doesn't see the light of day. I'd love to find a way to display these somehow.

5. Projects in Process - One of the things I've been doing as I start going through my stuff is making a list of unfinished projects. So far, and I've only hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of organizing, I have twelve unfinished projects. They are everywhere. I think eventually I will go through and divide them into "projects I'm really going to finish" and "projects I'll never finish, so I'll recycle what I can from the project".

6. Photos - I have NO problem with 4x6 photos. I have a big Cropper Hopper photo box with individual boxes inside sorted by year. It's all the rest of the photos I have problems with. We have a TON of 8x10s from our trip to Hawaii, a whole bunch of panoramic photos (remember that funky camera that shot three different widths of photos? We had one pre-digital), school photos, and other stuff. Not sure what the heck I'm going to do there yet. Then there's negatives and those little film canisters and contact sheets from said funky camera.

7. Cutting Tools - This is really a case of a drawer that is just not big enough for all of my tools. So, other tools get left on the table or in my crop tote.

8. Foam Stamps - Currently in shoe boxes, but boy do these take up a lot of space. Alphabets are each stored in a ziplock bag. Need a better solution so I know what I have and they are more accessible.

I think I could go on and on with this. But these are the things that stand out the most.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Analyze - Part 1: What Works?

I took a look over my existing scrap and craft space and tried to make a list of the things that DO work for me. I've been focusing so much on what doesn't work, and stressing over not being able to find things, that it was nice to think about what I actually do like about my space.

1. Setting - I love the space where my scrap table is. The skylight gives me some great natural light. I also have an old recycled table from my husband's aunt and uncle that I just love. It's the perfect size for the work I do there.

2. 12x12 paper storage - I use vertical Cropper Hopper paper holders for my 12x12 paper. Cardstock is easy, it's sorted by color in its own holder. Patterned paper is a little different, and I'm not as satisfied with my system. Older paper I have in one holder sorted by color. These are mostly papers I bought before I even knew anything about specific manufacturers, etc. The other holder I have newer papers sorted by manufacturer. I keep large scraps with the whole sheets of paper.

3. Scrap paper storage - I have an accordion file labeled by color where I store all of my paper scraps. I define a scrap as at least 12 square inches, anything smaller I toss, generally. The only problem is that I don't use my scraps as much as I should.

4. Pens and frequent tools - I have an altered metal beverage container on my desk where I store pens, pencils, files, and other tools. It definitely works, but could use some purging.

5. Acrylic stamps - All of my stamps are clung to transparencies, slipped into page protectors, and stored in a 3-ring binder. The one I have is quite full, I either need a second binder or a larger binder. The only problem I have with this system is that I don't have a good storage location for the binder.

6. Ribbon storage - All of my ribbon (other than full spools) is wrapped onto cardstock pieces and filed in a wooden box that I think is part of a drawer organization system. I need to start a second box, because I have too many whole spools of ribbon to fit in the box I have. Ribbon scraps go into a glass vase. I don't have a good location for the vase.

Well, those are the things about my system that work. Tomorrow, my complaints about the things that don't work!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year! And so it Begins...

As I start my scrap space re-org and search for my missing mojo, I thought I'd share where I'm starting from. My scrap space is along one wall in our finished attic. It's a beautiful spot, and I love that there is a skylight right above my work table.

This is my main scrap area. The table is my workspace, and the bookshelf to the left is for storage. I had a matching bookshelf to the right of the table (you can see the edge of it off to the right), but we had to move it because we put a floor vent in so that our attic can be heated finally! So, I will not be able to move the bookshelf back into it's original position, which is fine.

To the left of the bookshelf shown in the previous picture is my desk with computer and such. Because my scrap table has become overrun with junk, I started scrapbooking on my desk, and now it's overrun. Part of my organization will include converting my desk back into a desk and using it for my business office space, although that is a secondary objective.

I'll be providing more pics and more details about the things that actually work in my space, and things I want to change, and I'll be sharing my planning approach as I go along. I am trying to take this one small step at a time, so that I don't get overwhelmed and procrastinate and abandon the project altogether, because I really REALLY want to get this space into a state that really gets my creativity flowing.

One rule I'm setting for myself: I am NOT starting any new projects while I reorganize, unless it's something small like a card for an occasion that I can get done in one sitting without disrupting my organization process. I'll be keeping a notebook of project ideas, and also collecting all of the unfinished projects I have (and I know I have several) as I go.

This is a lot to say, and enough for now. I need to actually get in there and start planning. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm using a book by Julie Morgenstern as my guide so I do this right. One of the first things she recommends when you're looking at a space is to figure out what parts of your system are actually working for you, rather than starting by focusing on what doesn't work. I'm going to spend today assessing what I actually do like about my space, and I'll post about that tomorrow.