Adventures in Nail Stamping

So last year I started experimenting with nail wraps, which are essentially little stickers you add to your fingernails in place of nail polish. I tried several different options, including Jamberry, Espionage Cosmetics, Sally Hansen, Kiss, and Incoco.

Jamberry Painted Polka and Berry Blue

Sally Hansen Salon Effects in Crowd Surfer

Sally Hansen Salon Effects in Crowd Surfer

Espionage Cosmetics Nailed It in Patriotic

Espionage Cosmetics Nailed It in Patriotic

I had moderate to decent success.

  • I like many of the Jamberry patterns, but it takes me about an hour to do, and I sometimes have problems with the edges lifting, even after reading various tips online.
  • I really like the Espionage Cosmetics nerd manicures (e.g Sherlock-wallpaper-inspired Baker Street!) and love how fast they are to apply, but find that the tips start to wear for me after about a day.
  • I really like the Sally Hansen nail polish strips, and they're fast to apply too, but only like a couple of their patterns.

So I read online about nail stamping, and decided to give it a whirl. The concept is that you buy metal plates that are engraved with a design, apply nail polish to them, then use a rubber stamper to transfer the image from the plate to your nail. I like that once you invest in the plate, you can keep reusing it, in infinite nail polish color combinations, as opposed to continually re-buying one-use nail wraps. Of course, there is a bit of a learning curve, but there are plenty of tips, tutorials, and videos online to help. This video on "How NOT to Stamp" was helpful AND entertaining.

For my first foray, I didn't want to invest a lot, not knowing if I would even want to continue. So I bought a plate for $1.50 on Amazon. Guess you get what you pay for, because the engraving was barely deep enough to hold the polish, so that didn't work very well. But it gave me enough of an idea that I wanted to try again, so I read quite a few reviews, and chose a MoYou London plate and got to try it this weekend. 

I used Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in Navy Fleet as the base, and Konad nail stamping polish in Princess white for the stamp. Each stamp got progressively better as I got used to the process and landing the stamp correctly. The trickiest part, however, was the top coat. As you can see below, several nails smeared when I applied the top coat. Reading online, this is a fairly common issue. I went back out and got Seche Vite top coat, and redid a couple nails, and am more pleased with my results. I thought of this as a trial run and reminded myself I'm still in the experimentation phase, which helped.

MoYou nail stamping

I enjoyed these so much that I went ahead and bought two more MoYou London plates, including this geek one, which features Sherlock's wallpaper, so I can reuse it again and again!

Have you tried nail stamping? Had you even heard of it? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


How I Do Menu Planning & Grocery List Making


I recently posted on Facebook that I had planned my dinner menu through December 29th (about 3 weeks of dinners, at the time), and several friends asked me how I did it. So I thought I'd write up a blog post on the subject.

My menu planning starts with Google Calendar. Everyone in my family has their own calendar and we sync them all up, so I can see my husband's, my daughter's, and my own calendar all at the same time. At the beginning of the month I print out that month's calendar, with everyone's events listed.

Every Saturday I get up, have a little coffee and breakfast, then sit down with the calendar. I plan a week at a time, from Sunday to Saturday (though as I mentioned, earlier this month I just happened to be on a roll and planned for 3 weeks, to get us through the holidays). I look at the week ahead to see everyone's plans (and also verify nothing has changed since I printed it out by looking up the current calendar on my phone), to get an idea of when we will be home for dinner, how many people, and if we need to eat dinner quickly to get to some event or activity. 

For example, here's a typical week:

  • Sunday - plan something that may take a little longer to prepare, to take advantage of weekend availability, such as Cider Beef Stew, Beer Cheese SoupBaked Ravioli, or Sausage & Sweet Potatoes.
  • Monday - Band concert; my daughter has to be at school by 5:45, so I will make sure there is something she can fix for herself, like Easy Mac or PB&J, and plan something for just David and I (we've been enjoying Beef Lo Mein recently, and it makes exactly enough for two). 
  • Tuesday - David has to work late so I will plan for my daughter to eat something he doesn't particularly care for (such as mac & cheese or baked potatoes).
  • Wednesday - everybody home, so I plan something we all like, such as Sloppy Joes, Sausage & parmesan couscous, or spaghetti. 
  • Thursday - I'll be out at a Social Media Club Happy Hour, so I'll make sure there's something that's easy for David to fix for him and my daughter, such as what we call a "bag dinner", or something crockpot like Chicken Noodle Soup or Beef Barley Soup, so he just has to scoop and serve. 
  • Friday - always frozen cheese pizza on Fridays, a nice no-brainer to start the weekend
  • Saturday - another chance to spend a little more time in preparation, so maybe Chili

Once I have the week's menu, I'll make the grocery list. I use an amazing app called Our Groceries. Seriously. This app has changed my life. It makes making the list a breeze, as it remembers previous entries, so it's like a master list. I made a separate "list" for each aisle in my local grocery store, so I can whip through the store and not have to backtrack (not too much, anyway - I always forget something!)

To make the list, I go through each evening's dinner and make sure I have all the ingredients. If I don't, I add them to the grocery list. Then I'll make sure I add elements of lunches for the week (deli turkey, sandwich bread, fruit, something sweet). Then I'll inventory our soda selection, and add any that are low. Finally I'll ask my daughter and husband if there's anything they need, usually some drug store item like shampoo or shaving cream. Or my husband will tell me he's running low on hot cocoa that he puts in his coffee every morning, so I'll make sure I have all the ingredients to whip up another batch. (I use my grandmother's recipe for cocoa mix) Oh, and I'll also check our prescriptions and see if any are running low and need a refill (since we fill them at our grocery store).

Oh and I should also mention another menu planning resource - EMeals. I subscribed to the low-fat plan for probably 8 months, and was very pleased. While I didn't use every meal they suggested, it definitely gave me some solid ideas, and I got some great keeper recipes. Then after 8 months of weekly menus, I figured I probably had enough ideas to last me a while, so I unsubscribed. But I definitely recommend it - totally worth the $5 a month (if you sign up for 12 months). Be sure to check out all their sample menus for a taste!

OK I think that about sums it up. Let me know if you have any questions.

"Netflix for Crafters"

Just got this interesting press release - anyone given it a try? Interesting that they don't mention scrapbooking or paper-crafting specifically - wonder if they mean for it to go under "mixed media"?


Monthly Subscriptions Offer Over 100 Hours of High-Quality Video Taught by Renowned Instructors

NEW YORK, NY (June 20, 2013) – Interweave, an imprint of F+W Media, Inc., the nation’s number one craft media company, enriches crafters worldwide with the launch of a new website, An experience unlike any before, the subscription video website features over 100-hours of full-length, high-quality, fully-vetted instructional videos taught by renowned instructors including:

  • Leading Knit/Crochet Designer Kristin Omdahl 
  • Quilts, Inc. Chief Creative Officer and “Quilting Arts TV” host Pokey Bolton 
  • Foremost Mixed Media Artist and Best-Selling Author Pam Carriker 
  • Top Jewelry-Making Educator and “Beads, Baubles & Jewels” TV host Katie Hacker 
  • Editor in Chief of Step by Step Wire Jewelry, Denise Peck 
  • Master Weaver, Spinner, and Fiber Artist Judith MacKenzie connects artists with the best instructors in the craft world. “We know how valuable the hands-on learning experience is, and our engaged editors, devoted instructors, and passionate crafters are excited to offer deeper content in an online educational format,” says Chad Phelps, Chief Digital Officer of F+W Media. “We have selected leaders in their specialties—already on staff—to teach viewers how to create hand-made products and how to perfect their techniques.”

Full-monthly access to is less than the cost of a single course elsewhere. Access to the site is available through a tiered-subscription program, starting as low as $11.99 a month. The only requirement to membership is an Internet connection. Subscription options range from full site access to more specialized access to specific content.

Exclusive, new content is uploaded regularly. There are currently over 125 - and growing - commercial-free, full-length, original instructional video workshops, from beginning to advanced levels, across popular craft categories including sewing, crochet, quilting, knitting, beading, jewelry-making, mixed media, spinning, and weaving. All content can be viewed on Macs, PCs, iOS and Android devices at any time, and as often as one likes. is operated by F+W Media, Inc.—parent company of Interweave, publishers of hundreds of crafting DVDs, books and magazines such as Quilting Arts, Interweave Crochet, Interweave Knits, Knitscene, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, Piecework, Stitch, Cloth Paper Scissors, Spin-off, Knitting Traditions, and many more.

About Interweave

Interweave is one of the nation’s most respected arts and craft media entities, with businesses in magazine and book publishing, online media, television and video programming, directories, and events. Visit us online at

About F+W Media Inc.

F+W Media is a community-focused, content creator and marketer of products and services for enthusiasts. The Company offers a diversified and deep portfolio of books, ebooks, magazines, industry-leading events, more than 20 highly-curated ecommerce stores, extensive online educational programming, DVD and video instruction, television programs, and more. In the craft and sewing space, the Company’s leading brands include Interweave Press and The Martha Pullen Company. Visit us online at

Thoughts on Warrior Dash Kansas City

Warrior Dash after photos Warrior Dash Kansas City after photo

My husband (above, left) and his good friend ran the Kansas City Warrior Dash today. What a grueling event! And I hear it was hard for the race participants, too! :)

Some thoughts from today's race, in case you're looking for Warrior Dash tips:

  • Parking is $10 cash. You can buy food there - BBQ sandwiches, giant turkey legs, water, lemonade, beer. Water/lemonade is $2 a bottle. 

  • Shuttles leave the parking area every few minutes, so you shouldn't have to wait long. The ride took 15-20 min.

  • Hopefully you have at least one person coming to root you on - they will be handy for holding your stuff while you're dashing. I kept my husband's phone, ID, race tee & his Viking helmet in my backpack.

  • If you have cheerleaders/stuff-watchers coming, suggest they bring lawn chairs. There is no seating available - I sat in the hot itchy grass for about 45 min.

  • Also bring an umbrella - there is NO shade. Waiting in that sun was brutal. WEAR SUNSCREEN.

  • If you don't have a stuff-watcher, you can check stuff at one of the tables, but word was the line was about a 45 min wait.

  • The race is 3 miles long. My brother ran it in 54 minutes, my husband in 1h:18min.

  • After the race, there is a giant water truck with a fire hose that sprays people off in a crowd. It rinses most of your top half, but people still had pretty muddy legs & feet. 

  • Some people wore two layers of shirts, so they could pull the top muddy layer off and have reasonably dry clothes ready to go.

  • Bring stuff to protect your car seats on the ride home - like plastic trash bags & old towels.

  • You might also want to bring some wet wipes to wipe down with. Leave them in the car so you can clean up for the drive home. 

  • You also might bring a spare pair of shoes - the shoes you run in will be toast. There's even a charity table at the end where you can donate your shoes.

Good luck, Warriors!

Handmade Christmas: Fabric Gift Bags

Last year I experimented with wrapping Christmas presents in fabric, and while it wasn't a total failure, it wasn't a complete success.  I basically hemmed large squares of fabric with iron-on hemming tape, and tried to create closures with adhesive velcro dots, but they didn't stick so hot.  So I tried stitching the dots on, but hand sewing doesn't work so great with adhesive velcro.  The needle gets all gummy, and the seamstress gets grumpy.

So this year I have a couple of sewing classes under my belt, and am able to take advantage of the loan of my mother's sewing machine.  I "whipped up" some super cute fabric gift bags with which I am greatly pleased.  I say "whipped up" in air quotes because, while the actual bags do come together in about 30 minutes, the research and development phase took significantly longer. 

I scanned webpage after webpage, looking for simple and easy, but many seemed to be much more elaborate than I was looking for (or capable of).  Many were lined, and that was intimidating to me.  So I finally settled for sort of a half-lining, just enough to peek out the top when the bag is tied shut.  I also managed to square off the bottom so it sits slightly flatter.  The end result - 7 seams, some iron-pressing, and done.  I'm in love.

I just finished five small bags for my Knitting Group, none too soon as we are meeting at my house for the Christmas get-together the day after tomorrow!  :)

I hope to get together some sort of tutorial, because if they're easy enough for me to mass-produce, surely the tutorial would be worth sharing for other sewing newbies!

(Below) This is the complete set of bags for my knitting group, each bag different (though not necessarily by recipient personality, but rather fabric available in my stash!)


(Below) Closer view of a blue calico bag, with sort of a blue bandana lining, and white polka dot ribbon.


(below) closer view of another bag, red with small white polka dots, and a sweet holly lining.


(Below) This bag isn't for Knitting Group, but is a variation of the style.  I made it taller/longer, so it's the perfect size for a rolled-up tshirt!  I LOVE this fabric because it reminds of the chairs on UW-Madison's Union Terrace.  I hope to keep this bag "in the family".  ;)


(below) another tall/long tshirt-shaped bag.


Please feel free to share links to pictures of your own fabric gift bags, ideas for reusable gift wrapping, or links to tutorials on making your own bags, in the comments below.

Holiday Card How-To Ebook Giveaway

In the spirit of upcoming holidays, here's another giveaway!

Artella's Step-by-Step Vintage Holiday Cards Download a FREE copy of the Artella eBook, Artella's Step-by-Step Vintage Holiday Cards, an eBook featuring 10 beautiful handmade cards, complete with photos and descriptive "how-to" instructions, showcasing a variety of techniques such as rubber stamping, collage, and innovative paper and mixed media arts. Download your copy here!

FCC disclaimer: I have an affiliate relationship with Artella, wherein I earn a commission on every sale for Artella eProducts that I refer.

Real Women Gift Card Giveaway

Win a $25 Gift Card from Real Women Scrap - QUICKIE GIVEAWAY ENDS TOMORROW!

My friend, Tasra Dawson from Real Women Scrap, has opened up shop at a site called OpenSky. OpenSky is a new site that connects experts and the products they love, with others who have the same passions. From scrapbooking to sewing, beauty to books, gardening to grills, there is a little something for everyone. Tasra has put together a great holiday gift guide to get you started browsing the site.

Tasra is also offering a $25 Gift Card to one of my blog readers.  It could be YOU!  To enter to win, just browse the OpenSky shoppe, then hop back here to leave a comment below with which OpenSky product you'd most like to get this Christmas. I'll choose one winner Saturday evening and you'll have all day Saturday to shop!

Happy Holidays!

FCC disclaimer: Tasra is a friend of mine, and has also offered me my own gift card for posting this giveaway on my blog.

6 Crafty Things to be Thankful For

As mentioned in this post, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving this week in the United States, I present to you Crafty Things to be Thankful For.

  1. Chunky Knits are a Fashion Trend.  You can wear all your hand-made items with pride AND be in vogue! And all your holiday gifts are a slam dunk.  Sweet.

  2. Hand-cutting all your titles and embellishments is a thing of the past, thanks to (fairly) recent inventions of the Cricut, the Gypsy, Sizzix Big Shot, Cuttlebug, and this cool cutter for fabric, the AccuQuilt Go.

  3. Photobooks combine (digital) scrapbooking with gift-giving.  OK, perhaps the wordsmith-y-ist turn of phrase, but I am just loving putting together photobooks for gifts.  I've created several, and done them different ways, from digitally scrapbooking the pages from scratch in Photoshop Elements, to digitally embellishing the photos with overlays and wordart, to just uploading photos and slapping 'em in the pages.  Any way will produce slick professional results.  I've created mine at Shutterfly, but also plan to try my friend Kim Guymon's business at Photobooks ETC.

  4. The Internet provides endless resources for crafty learning and inspiration.  Any crafty thing you want to know more about, or find a pattern for, or survey a group of enthusiasts about, you can find it online.  And that's a very good thing (especially for night owls, who like to craft into the wee hours of the morning!)

  5. The Internet also fosters crafty connections.  We don't have to hang our heads in crafty-geek shame - at any hour of the day or night, there is someone available who can understand and applaud our love of a good yarn (whether superwash merino, or scrapbook journaling!).  In fact, the Internet provides ways of proclaiming one's craft-geekiness - loud and proud.

  6. Digital scrapbooking continues to grow as a hobby, and inspirational and educational resources abound.  I remember the days, just a few years ago, when there were only a few community websites dedicated to digital scrapbooking.  Now digital storefronts open weekly (if not daily), and user-friendly programs and tools are readily available.  Digi designers are abundantly generous with their freebies, and thanks to open source programs like GIMP, anyone with a computer can try their hand at preserving their memories digitally.  Photosharing sites like Shutterfly, Scrapblog, and ArtsCow allow people to create digital photo collages and have them professionally printed - even if you have no interest in "digital scrapbooking', per se.
And because it's getting to be said wee hours of morning, I'll stop here for now.  I'd love to hear your thoughts of what crafty things you're grateful for this year!  Please feel free (indeed, encouraged) to leave a comment below.

New Series: Things to Be Thankful For

I recently read a post by GeekDad at on 10 Geeky Things to Be Thankful For. I thought I would 'blog-lift' the idea, and put together my own list(s), but on a variety of topics, with the goal of a post on a different topic each day this week, in honor of Thanksgiving on Thursday (here in the US, anyway). 

Here are the topics I've chosen:

  1. Sunday: Scrapbooking/Crafty Goodness
  2. Monday: Geeky
  3. Tuesday: Kansas City
  4. Wednesday: mom
  5. Thursday: Family
  6. Friday: blogs/social media
  7. Saturday: books
Anyone care to join the challenge of creating a different topical gratitude list post every day this week? An ambitious goal for a holiday week, to be sure, but just the thing to get those blogging juices going!