#Silhouette: Sketching Clipart & Turn Into Cut File

We have some guests coming into town for the weekend and I wanted to get a catch-all for the dresser. When I’m at someone’s house, it’s nice to have someplace to put my jewelry when I got to bed, especially if you’ve been out enjoying some delicious Charleston restaurants.

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I found this star dish at TJ Maxx for $1 on the clearance shelf and I thought it would be a perfect catch-all, until I walked by the guest room and saw that my husband filled it up with caramels, thinking it was a candy dish! My Silhouette Cameo (a tool I absolutely love) to the rescue…

  1. To start with, I measured the dish to decide what size I should make the design.
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  2. Next, I looked online to find some clipart I liked. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find JUST the design I’m looking for in the store, and for times like that, you can have the Silhouette software trace designs for you! I found the image I liked, right clicked it and chose Save Image As
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  3. Once I saved it to my computer, I opened the Silhouette software and clicked File > Open. Then, I navigated to the file I saved and opened it into a new project.
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  4. Once I opened the image, I resized it to match up with the size I wanted (think back to when I measured the dish).
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  5. Next, I want the Silhouette software to trace the image for me so that it will become a cuttable file. Click on the Trace menu button (upper right)- it looks like a blue butterfly image with a yellow frame on it.
  6. In the Trace Menu, click the Select Trace Area first, and draw a box around what you wish to trace.
  7. Once you’ve drawn the box, I chose the Trace option below and it traced my image. After you click trace, the image will be traced in red (see second image).
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  8. Once you’re satisfied with the size of the image, click the Cut Settings menu option (upper right).
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  9. I typically keep it on Standard and infrequently change it from cut.

  10. Next, I chose what material I was cutting my design from. In this case, I wanted to use a matte adhesive vinyl, so that I could stick it in the bottom of the dish I bought.

  11. TIP: Even if you have it on Vinyl already, click it again, because it will open up the Editing: Vinyl menu below, which tells you which level your blade needs to be on and lets you adjust speed & double cut (which can be useful for thicker things or older blades).
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  12. Finally, I got ready to send (don’t send it yet!) the cut job to my Cameo. I made sure my Cameo was plugged into my computer’s USB port. You can send it from the cut settings menu or from the Send to Silhouette button.
  13. Before I sent the job to my Cameo, I got the vinyl and the machine ready:
    1. First, I chose the vinyl I wanted to use (this is a great project for odd-sized scraps that I keep).  I put the vinyl on my cut mat (with the colored side up).
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    2. Next, I looked at the blade settings (step 9) and adjusted my blade to be on that numbered setting with the grey ratchet tool that comes with the blade (I made my Cameo cover with a pocket so I could keep it in there).  Then, I put the blade back in the holder and spun the lock to secure it in place.
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    3. Next, I loaded the cut mat with the vinyl situated on the top end of the mat.
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  14.  After loading the cut mat, I sent the cut job from my computer to the Cameo (step 9).
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  15.  After the job was finished (you’ll be able to see on the Silhouette’s display & on your computer), I unloaded the cut mat, but touching Unload on the display.
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  16. Often, you can peel away a large piece of unused vinyl (if it’s pretty large, I’ll keep it), but do so carefully- try not to disturb your cut design.
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  17. Next, I weeded the design with the hook tool. It’s very helpful when trying to get small parts of vinyl out without moving other parts,
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  18. After weeding the design, I cut a piece of Silhouette transfer paper large enough to cover the weeded design (TIP: If you run out of transfer paper, you can also use blue painter’s tape). I peeled it off the lining paper and lined it up to stick over the top of my design. Transfer paper is so important in easily and effectively moving your designs from the cut mat to your finished spot.
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  19. I stuck the transfer paper right over the design and rubbed it repeatedly to securely attach it to my design.

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  20. Next, I peeled the design off the cut mat so that it all stuck onto the transfer paper (be careful, the underside is the adhesive part that will stick it onto its final location).
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  21. I then trimmed the transfer paper so that it would easily fit inside my dish.

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  22. After lining the design up, I pressed it firmly into the bottom of the dish so that I would stick, then I carefully peeled up the transfer paper.
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  23. Finally, I put the finished dish in the guest room, ready to get used by our friends coming for the weekend!
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*The links above are Amazon affiliate links, which helps keep this blog going, if you’re interested in buying any of the items above, consider using the links. 

Goals: Watch Me Do Better.

I’ll own it, I have been a terrible blogger lately. I had visions of writing (& pre-writing) lots of blog posts this summer when I was off work, but I had the most wonderful visitors…my sister and her two lovely children. I got to spend about four weeks with them, which was the longest time I’d seen her in years (they’re 2 & 8 months, so I’d never spent that much time with them)!

We were able to do all sorts of great things- we went to Boston for a week and then spent two weeks at our house in Charleston. After that, we had some time in Pennsylvania, so that’s my bad (yet good) excuse for not writing.

However, I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf- I’m getting back on the blog train. I’m aiming for an every-other-week blog post…if I don’t do it, call me out. There’s nothing worse than getting called out, except not achieving my goals, and my goal is to write more. I’m very excited about the next blog post- it’s going to outline our trip to Iceland & England that we got home from on Sunday. It was pretty amazing. We saw some unbelievable things and had fantastic experiences. So look for that in the next few days.

Until then, enjoy my contrite face…

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Bathroom Cabinet Update

headerIt’s been wonderful being in the new house. We love Mount Pleasant, and are really glad with the move to South Carolina.  As with any move, however, there are some things that we didn’t love about the new house:

  1. The hideously filthy carpet on the second floor (it was terrible).
  2. The cabinets in the kitchen
  3. The cabinets in the bathrooms
  4. The appliances
  5. Paint colors on the second floor

We prioritized where our renovation budget was going to be spent. Highest on the priority list was the carpet on the second floor. I have pretty severe allergies, so having carpet in a large portion of the house isn’t really an option. After painting (some of the colors were rough, and it’s a pretty easy fix), and setting aside money to update the kitchen (more on that later), changing out the cabinets in both upstairs bathrooms wasn’t in the budget. While there wasn’t money to replace the honey-esque wooden cabinets, they were in great shape and painting them seemed like a good option.
1After doing little (seriously, we hardly looked into it) research, we chosecabinet enamel Valspar cabinet enamel. I really liked it in the store because it’s tintable (our color is Oxford White, which is what the house trim will be…eventually), and it claims to not have brushstrokes (spoiler: it’s true!).  It was economical too…FAR less than replacing cabinetry, countertops, and sinks!

 

To start with, I cleaned the cabinets and frames twice (with warm soapy water) and then wiped them down with just water. After cleaning them, I removed the drawers and cabinet fronts from the bathroom, removed the hardware, and then sanded them- 2
I wanted to make a hospitable environment for the paint to adhere to. When painting, I started by painting the detail portions (see photo) and edges with a brush and then going over all of it with a small, low-nap roller. This method worked really well.

Over the course of two days, I put three coats on. I let them dry thoroughly between coats. This is definitely the type of project that you want to take your time. I’m hoping that by allowing the individual coats to dry, the finish will be much more durable (and to date, it has). I followed the same steps for painting the frame/structure of the bathroom cabinets- the part still in the bathroom. I painted the drawer and cabinet fronts in a bedroom on the (hideous) carpet, which had still to be removed, so it wasn’t necessary to protect the carpet from paint.

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I used some of the wooden paint stir sticks to hold up the drawers, so that they wouldn’t be on the carpet to keep fibers and assorted grime off of the newly painted drawers. This method worked so well- I would definitely use those again.

Once I was certain the newly painted items were dry:  not just dry to the touch, not just tacky- you want these to be desert dry…it will help prevent nicks and scrapes when you’re reinstalling them. We had a little money still in the budget for new hardware. Blissfully, Anthropologie was having a sale and we found these wonderful pulls, which really pulled the whole look together.

I was very impressed with the quality of the Valspar cabinet enamel- it was thick, covered well, and I was surprised that one can of paint was able to do both of the bathrooms (and honestly still have some left over). I painted these in March and now it’s almost June- the cabinets still look great, and are still in awesome shape. I’ve banged the doors, run the vacuum into them, and they’re still looking fantastic. I’m so pleased with how inexpensive this update was and what a huge impact it has had on our bathrooms- they look so much better.9
Do you have a project you need to tackle at your house? Maybe some cabinets to paint? Like the Chasing This Dream Facebook page for a chance to win $15 at Lowe’s to get your project started. The winner will be chosen on Monday June 6th (giveaway sponsored by Valspar, opinions sponsored by me).

 

Shopping Fun for Littles

A couple of weeks ago we had my fantastic sister-in-law and her family in town (including her two littles). Her husband is super handy and is always kind enough to help us with projects that require two burly handymen. Since they were in town, we obviously ended up at Lowes getting ‘new house’ stuff. The kids (8 & 4) are so wonderful and were coming with us, albeit semi-reluctantly.
Lowes HuntMy sister & I put our heads together and came up with the Team Lowes Hunt, which is basically an Easter Egg hunt in Lowes. It worked like a charm at keeping my niece and nephew occupied (and out of trouble), while we were able to get stuff on our half of the list (while the husbands did the other part). A nice thing about the Team Lowes Hunt is that you can make a copy of it and customize the ‘finding’ list to reflect some of the things that you need to buy- so as you get your shopping done, you get to play a game with the kids.

The Team aspect was especially important for two reasons: 1) the 4 year old doesn’t read yet, so he needed some help and 2) you likely don’t want  your kids running all over the store unescorted- so doing it as a team was the winning combination of fun and sanity.

Before we left the house, we printed two copies of the lists (one for each) and brought 2 crayons for them to check things off with. Once we got to the store, we had a conversation about the rules (work together, take turns, be kind, stay with us, etc.). It probably took us 45 minutes to complete the list, but we got all of the things we needed and there was zero complaints, and zero requests for candy and other treats- so it seemed like a success.  You could try it with your littles the next time you head out!lowes hunt toilets

An Interesting Start: Bathroom Talk

wipes checkoutI had a relatively exciting weekend- I hosted a good friend’s bachelorette weekend at my new house in Charleston. I definitely enjoyed it, although I felt semi-guilty at the state the house is currently in. We did all of the typical bachelorette things I’m sure you’re thinking of, which is always fun. The weekend didn’t start all dancing and champagne though (okay, of course it started with champagne!). On Friday evening, a few guests (I had eight) had taken showers in the upstairs bathrooms. Upon entering the first floor bath, I noticed that the shower was full (to the top) of very questionable-looking water. Oh boy.

Upon further investigation, we realized that the toilets wouldn’t flush. The evening had gone from hanging in the screened porch to full-fledged plumbing nightmare. After a frantic call to a 24 hour plumber, we settled in to have another drink (we had to celebrate the bachelorette) to wait on him.

Once the plumber arrived (he was very nice), he did some investigating and eventually asked me to come see what he found. Apparently a root had grown through the main pipe out of our house, but what he really wanted me to see was the pile of wet ‘flushable’ wipes that had created a dam against the roots. The pipe would have needed to have been repaired down the road, but the wipes had gotten stuck (they don’t break down like toilet paper does) and caused the whole house to back up.

If you know me, you probably know I loved using wet wipes- my thoughts were if babies were getting them, why couldn’t I?  I liked them so much that I bought them from Costco. Since the packages said flushable, I assumed they were…flushable. Turns out they really aren’t.

There are two big issues with these wipes. The first one is at your house, they can easily clog up your pipes even if you don’t have roots in them. I read here about the times for toilet paper to break down in the toilet (~8 seconds), in the same test a wipe “didn’t so much as fray after half an hour”. That same article goes on to discuss what all of these wipes (and other things we flush) do to our wastewater treatment plants…it’s not pretty, the second reason why they aren’t so good. These wipes are a major cause of expense, downtime, and pollution for cities and towns all over the country (and the world).

I was shocked to learn that these wipes are meant to go in the garbage (yuck!), not in the toilet, and if that’s the case, why do they claim to be flushable? Is a sock flushable? What constitutes flushable…simply that it can indeed go down the toilet?

The plumber tried to sell me on the idea of no longer using them which was an easy decision to make. I had just ordered (and had my wonderful husband install) a bidet attachment for my toilet. Every time I had traveled to someplace with a bidet I enjoyed having it. Using toilet paper as a drying device as opposed to a cleaning one is a much more pleasant (and effective) experience. Ours came from Costco, but they seem to sell the same one on Amazon. It has adjustable water pressure and dual nozzles…even a mode for cleaning the nozzles.

bidetOnce it was on and in use, it was one of those things where I wished I had been using it my whole life. I feel better not dumping all of those synthetic fabric wipes into our wastewater system (and eventually landfill), and it’s a much cleaner operation to use the bidet. There is one limitation to the way this works. It’s very easy install and requires no electricity. However, if your toilet isn’t situated next to the bathroom sink, the bidet can only use ‘ambient water’, which is fancy talk for tap water. It can be a little cool, but nothing outrageous. If you have your toilet next to your sink, they have dual temperature models, you lucky duck.

Time To Get Moving!

moving mindfullyAs you probably know, we’re planning to move during the second week of March- to Mt. Pleasant. We found a great house that met all of our ‘must have’ and most of our ‘would be nice to have’ list. We started a list about a year ago to start getting together what was really important for us to have in a house- we used this Google Doc to organize all these details (to make your own copy, click File > Make a Copy). It ended up being a really great tool for us because it showed us (over the long term, rather than just one hurried evening) what we wanted, and since we have the mobile apps, if we thought of something we could open the file on our phones and add to it. Once we touched base with our wonderful realtor, Carlos to start looking, we were able to send him the file and he could see what was important to us.

Now that we’ve found a house and we’re under contract, I’m in the midst of one of my least favorite activities…moving. I never thought I would be moving twice within a span of 10 month, and while I’m not too happy about the process of moving, we knew this would happen, so many things never got unpacked. Sadly, we unpacked way more than I think we thought we would unpack for the rental, so now we get to pack it all back up again…yay! It will be nice to have all of our things unpacked (like stemware!), so I can definitely see the light at the end of the awful moving tunnel.

I try to be very purposeful about how we pack. Back in my silly days, I would throw a whole bunch of often unrelated items in a box and write a vague description on it, which was easy to do, but hard to unpack. I would be frantically looking for a specific item in the new house and be completely unable to find it…so frustrating! I’ve not learned to be as specific as I can on what’s in boxes and where they are headed. Starting with our move to Charleston, I made a label file for boxes, which has made a HUGE difference with moving organization (file is below for you).

FullSizeRender 3We had previously written contents and location on the box, which isn’t so bad if you’re using brand new boxes and write it in a tidy way. We weren’t always doing this- we have a bunch of previously-enjoyed boxes from Craigslist (because why not? I would rather reuse boxes than a) buy new ones and b) have those boxes going into the landfill), from Amazon packages, and other sources (including some new ones). We typically write with a black sharpie on our moving boxes, and the boxes are brown, so they start to blend together. I found that if I write on a white label and stick it on the box, it’s much easier for people (read: the movers) to locate the important information on the box- basically where does the box go and what’s in it.

As I add a room location on a label, I add it to this list. When we’re at the new house, I make a one-page sign (using this template or regular paper) for each of these rooms, attach it to the door (or trim) with blue painters’ tape so that as a box comes in, the carrier knows what to do with it. That greatly reduces the time I have to spend sorting things out, because when I get to the unpacking phase, I don’t have to relocate too many boxes, because they tend to be where they belong.

I’m excited to get the process finished and I hope these labels will help you with your next move. What tips have helped you achieve a more seamless move?

Doing Diapers

If you follow me on Facebook or Pinterest, you may have noticed that I have gotten into cloth diapers. Logically, you might assume that I have children.  I don’t, not yet at least.

The dream we’re chasing with our move from Virginia is one of focusing on our family. We made the concerted decision to move somewhere smaller (less traffic, less stress) so that we can adopt some babies and have a more family-centric life. After we move into our new house (details forthcoming, promise), we’re going to start our journey of connecting with an adoption agency and begin the process of becoming parents.

I’m prepared to wait a year or more to be blessed with our first child, but I can’t help but hope that it won’t be that long. I’m slowly getting things together that we’ll need, so that it won’t be a series of frantic, harried Amazon orders. I want to cloth diaper (the Mister is still being convinced) for a number of reasons (health, environment, finances). I was cloth diapered because I was allergic to disposables, and I wonder just how healthy it will be for me to be touching so many diapers (if they’re disposables). Part of getting things together has included me getting cloth diapers…and I’ve been getting them from lots of places- online, stores, other people, and most recently the Grovia warranty returns bag.

My (mostly) plan is to sew a lot of my own diapers. I can sew, I enjoy sewing, and (most excitingly) I’m going to have a sewing room at the new house (See? Details!).  But as I’ve only made two shells, I’m going to augment that with purchased diapers. Which led me to Grovia (and some other brands)…Grovia makes really nice diapers (they come in lots of different types). I follow them on Facebook as well as some of their discussion/support groups. Last week, I saw that they had their Warranty Return bags for sale on their website. The idea with these bags are that they have a good warranty on their products, so if the elastics relax too soon, or a snap breaks, they will replace it for you. But what to do with all of those returned diapers? Turns out they sell them to craftalicious people like me.

My Grovia Surprise bag arrived today (squeeee!), and as I had heard, of the 11 diapers in it, 11 had relaxed elastics. I would normally be pretty apprehensive about replacing elastics in a reusable cloth diaper- but after making diapers ‘from scratch’, opening up the leg casing and changing out the elastic doesn’t seem as daunting as it might. I’ll take some photos of when I do it and post my experience with bringing them back to life.

I’ll give them a little soak in bleach water for a bit prior to all of this to make sure they’re good to go. The nice thing about these is that they are covers or shells- rather than a diaper with the soaker inserts permanently attached, the absorbent parts snap out for washing and drying, which is less tough on the diapers- and lets them last longer.

I know many people are very anti-cloth diapering. Anytime I mention it, most people try to convince me that it won’t work…and maybe it won’t. But I definitely want to try it.

What thoughts, questions, or advice do you have about cloth diapering?