Silhouette Cameo Basics for the Non-techy: Ungrouping (having one layer on the mat)

cameoI’ll admit that I planned on writing this blog post a little while ago, then chickened out because I wasn’t sure I wanted to admit how difficult I found using the Cameo. I had wanted the machine for so long and was so excited when I received it for Mother’s Day. After I made a home for it, I found a file I loved on the Silhouette store, opened it–then gaped at the monitor. All the components were on the screen and when I moved one piece, they all went together. I clicked on a lot of different options, but couldn’t find how to separate the image.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 20.17.57

I spent hours on a Friday night trying to figure it out and growing more frustrated. I Googled: splitting SVG image on Cameo, having one part of the file on the mat, using the Silhouette Cameo 101. Nothing. I finally decided to call it a night and try again in the morning. I hoped a good night’s sleep would make everything clearer…or at least bring back my patience. I wanted to love the machine…believed I would love it…but at that moment was wondering why I ever wanted it.

The next morning, I decided to start over and act like I just opened the box and set up the machine. I also told myself not to compare it to my Cricut Expressions. The reason I had always longed for, but was never “brave” enough to ask for the Cameo, was that I knew it took some computer skills. I can type on the computer. I think I’m actually pretty good at it. But, my computer is basically a typewriter that I get internet on and where I store digital pictures. As much as I love my technology (computer, Ipod, Kindles), I only know the basics on how to use them.

After a cup of coffee, I got to work. I went to a scrapbook message board and read through the threads about the Cameo. Since Amazon had the Cameo on sale for an awesome price (which is why we got it), I figured others had bought one as well. I was right! And there were some new Cameo users also trying to learn how to use the machine.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 20.18.41

I was so thrilled to learn that what I wanted to do was call “ungroup”. Once I learned the proper term, I was able to get down to some cutting business.  I discovered that to split the images, you click on the image and a box would surround all the pieces, then right-click and a list of functions popped up. Click on ungroup.

All the parts of the image will now have their own “boxes” around them when you click on the separate pieces. Now, the pieces can be moved off the cutting onto the gray area.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 20.19.22



Screenshot 2014-06-19 20.21.54

What I loved about the Cricut was the ease of using cartridges. All I had to do was push the proper labeled buttons and I’d get the different layers of an image onto the screen to cut. What I disliked about the Cricut was having to buy an entire cartridge when I only wanted a few of the images. Now, with the Cameo I’m able to purchase individual files rather than a collection of them, and hopefully one day I’ll learn how to make my own cut files. Until then, I’m enjoying the ones I get from the Silhouette store and also from PPBN Designs (my favorite place to buy files).

Here’s the first cut I made on my Cameo. I thought it needed a little extra so added the floss. Anything Goes Cut Party and stuff 010I hope this helps others who are non-techy and trying to figure out the Cameo. 



The Closing of a Scrapbooking Icon: Two Peas in a Bucket

two peas closingAfter fifteen years, Two Peas in a Bucket closed their online scrapbooking store and message boards yesterday. Two Peas had been the go-to scrapbook shopping and message board site. When doing a search on scrapbooking, it was the first site listed and now it’s gone … or going. The closing had a lot of people reeling as it came with no warning. That morning, the message boards were working but by afternoon were closed to posting. I first heard of the news when a well-known scrapbooker posted it on her Facebook page. I clicked on over to Two Peas and saw their message about the closing. A few hours later, I received the email notice.

I’ll admit that I was surprised by how hard the news hit me. I was saddened by it, and found that it brought my mood down. I had shopped there a few times, did some chatting on the boards, but mostly lurked. It was the inspiration for the message board that was in Designed to Death.DESIGNED TO DEATH front under 2mb

I do a lot of typing for my work, so I mainly read the boards and browsed the gallery, one of my favorite daily activities, to get some ideas for scraplifting. Two Peas had an amazing gallery of layouts and I’ll miss seeing it. A lot of people said it was the online galleries, like Two Peas, that brought about the demise of the majority of scrapbooking magazines.

With the closing of Two Peas, it’s another reminder of how fast things can change in an industry.  In the early 1990’s and beginning of the new millennium, scrapbooking was hot. Stores were opening up in cities all over the country. Scrapbooking conventions and retreats were everywhere, and new products and lines were introduced … it seemed … almost monthly. Shopping for scrapbooking goodies was almost as much fun as making the layouts. There were design teams and Hall of Fame spots that scrapbookers coveted to have their names listed on. Some scrapbookers started using the term life artists as a few the art community looked down on scrapbooking as a “mommy hobby”. There are a lot of talented designers in the scrapbooking area of crafts. But slowly, those opportunities faded away as magazines and stores closed.

For many years now, scrapbooking businesses have struggled during the downturn in the economy. Creative Memories, the biggest direct sale scrapbooking company, closed in August 2013. Like with Two Peas, it was something the scrapbooking community debated about happening, but never really thought it would. When household budgets are hit, one of the first areas to get cut are hobby purchases. This closing is another reminder of how things are still tough for a lot of people out there. Two Peas was considered a staple in the scrapbooking world, and to see it gone has shaken a lot of scrapbookers. Many wonder what will happen to our beloved hobby? 

I believe scrapbooking will still be around, maybe not as popular for a while … and maybe fewer options on cute paper and embellishments … but it will bounce back one day. There is an ebb and flow with most hobbies and scrapbooking seems to be on the down portion of the roller coaster ride. The hobby will adapt as people’s way of memory keeping changing. Like with the invention of ebooks, there were still readers who prefered print copies. I feel the same will happen with scrapbooking, there will be scrapbookers that prefer “paper” scrapbooking over digital. One will not cancel out the other. It will just change. Just like how letters and phone calls use to be the main method of communication, we now have email and texting.

As long as people still have stories they want to tell, and photographs to share, there will also be scrapbooking.

I will miss Two Peas. I started every morning by drinking a cup of coffee and browsing the boards. I hope the owners and employees of Two Peas in a Bucket are all setting off on a new life-enriching adventure. I will remember Two Peas fondly. two_peas_logo

Stockpiling Book Swag

EMBELLISHED front under 2mbWith Embellished to Death coming out September 23, I knew it was time to organize my book swag. Most of the items were in a holding area which happened to be the bed in my office that we use for guests. Not a good place to store items. And, the cat was getting kind of testy as she had claimed the bed as her sleeping spot and it was overtaken with goodies. There aren’t too many things worse than a testy cat…or at least mine. So, before she decided the best way to get rid of the stuff taking up her spot was destroying it, I decided to move it to a better place. I also didn’t want her to embellish the items with kitty fur. 

I logged onto one of my favorite swag shopping places…Two Chicks Design …and started browsing for some items. Then, I remembered I had a “few” items in a couple of different places so I went on a scavenger hunt to relocate all swag to my office before I shopped for more. 

It’s a good thing I did because I had more than I realized. A lot more. And the mound of goodies doesn’t even include ARCs (advance review copies of Embellished) that I’ll be receiving. There were t-shirts in my bedroom closet and a few “extra” totes in the office closet. If there is one thing scrapbookers love, or at least this scrapbooker, it’s cute bags. It’s probably my biggest hobby-shopping weakness … just a tiny bit under layout bling. I had also added some totes to the swag pile as I wanted to have some items that croppers and non-croppers would enjoy. FB Swag Pic

Looking at my stockpile, I’m going to have to conduct a lot of giveaways before the swag overtakes my office. It’s even starting to overpower my Disney collection. Poor Mickey is almost completely hidden by the book release goodies.

Now to figure out what I’ll be giving away first. And no, it won’t be Mickey. He stays as with the cat and princess pillows. There are some things I just can’t part with.

20130913_165940Embellished to Death takes my heroine out of her hometown for a weekend crop retreat and has her helping a different Roget.

When Faith Hunter agrees to help PI Bob Roget find an identity thief at a local scrapbook retreat, her friendly croppers’ weekend quickly morphs into a dangerous one. As croppers share their own memories, a killer collects them for her new identity, and doesn’t appreciate Faith in the picture.

Faith struggles to balance her professional, detecting and personal lives as threats and secrets keep her off-balance. Things turn deadly when a woman is killed and Faith is blackmailed. Truth and lies collide when Faith discovers croppers aren’t the only ones embellishing, and the results might end her life.


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Self-Rescue Princess Review: Maleficent

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

maleficentThis review is even more out of the norm as instead of a book, I’m going to talk about the villain/heroine Maleficent from the movie with the same title. I’ve never reviewed a heroine from a movie, or actually a movie, but this character has stuck with me since I saw the film yesterday. I’m going to do my best not to give out spoilers while explaining how the heroine in this movie had me leaving the theater with a lot to think about.

The story line does veer away from Disney’s animated movie Sleeping Beauty. For one, the main character/story to be told is Maleficent’s and not Aurora’s. And in Maleficent, we’re shown what drove her to become evil and curse the princess. Most of the time, evil character are just evil. In Maleficent, we see how a person’s character is shaped — and changed — by those around them and how they are treated.

I’ll admit I was apprehensive when I went to see the film and debated for weeks if I would go see it. I love all things Disney, and to even contemplate not seeing a Disney movie was strange. But, I had grown concerned about the trend of anti-heroes and  criminals being portrayed as “heroes” in fiction (whether movies, TV shows, or books). Criminals are elevated to hero-worship status and their actions are often excused and usually blamed on the people or circumstances they find themselves. There evilness is portrayed as something noble and admirable.

As I love Disney movies, I decided to put my bias of these type of stories aside and go see it before I judged. As weird as it sounds, I “trusted” Disney to use the villain/anti-hero in way where true evil wasn’t shown as “good”, justifiable, and the preferred way to become.

And I was right. Evil was shown as revenge. Hatred. Not something to be proud of. Not noble. Though we saw why the evil came to be. Evil at its essence was heartbreak and not an ultimate strength. But, there was still some hope. Evil wasn’t an either or state. Evil wasn’t all there was to a person, and all they would ever be.

Maleficent was changed by the circumstances that happened to her. I felt her pain, her rage, her hurt, and the deep betrayal. I wanted to weep for her, and also fight alongside her. Yet, when her anger turned into a bitterness that evolved into evil directing her life and actions, I found myself pulling away from Maleficent. I was torn. I wanted to root for her, but couldn’t condone other people being hurt in order for her to seek revenge. But, interestingly, when her evil was its darkest point, there was still hope in Maleficent. Something else beside pure evil. There was more to her. It shone through in her humor and some of her actions. I saw that she wanted more than even she herself thought she could be.

Maleficent is a self-rescue princess not because she was all good, pure, never made a mistake, or fought for the downtrodden, but because she struggled with herself — her need to live for one horrific moment in her life — and decided to grow from that moment than stay there. Maleficent reminded me that not only can circumstances make a person who they are, but so does how others treat them. Sometimes those actions change people from good to evil, but that doesn’t mean that is their destiny forever. 

The ending statement in the movie was perfect, summed it up brilliantly, but I don’t want to include it as it was one that touched me deeply, and I don’t want to take away that moment from another viewer.

This is the first movie I’ve ever wanted to go see again in a theater. And to think it was one I wanted to skip altogether.


SRP Heroine Interview: Jackie Reeves from Murder Most Foul

Please welcome Jackie to the Self-Rescue Princess.

murder most foul1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

When two dismembered torsos wash up on the banks of the local river in the small industrial town of Pleasant Valley, residents are horrified. Jackie Reeves, a registered nurse, believes the killer is a man from her past. She contacts the dangerously handsome FBI Agent Walker Harmon. An arrest is made, but Harmon and Jackie believe an innocent man is being railroaded by local cops. How far will these lover’s go to solve this heinous crime before anymore killings. Determined to find the truth, Agent Harmon and Jackie are forced to run a gauntlet of deep trouble and turmoil, which marks them for death.

2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

I knew the accused, Vernon James, was innocent, and I had to do something, before anymore killings.

3. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

No never! But sometimes you have to find the strength and courage to do the impossible.

4. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

My day job is being a RN for the local hospital. The least pleased about me butting into crime would be the town Sheriff, Jeff Brown. He pops up surprisingly at the strangest times. There is something about the man that is not on-the-level.  Sheriff Brown is furious with me for getting involved, and my co-workers were horrified and surprised when they discovered that I helped solve the county’s most horrific and only double homicide.

 5.  What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strengths are courage, that I did not know I possessed.  Determination, to see the true killer get caught, and happiness that I finished all my self-defense classes. They sure came in handle that evening in the hotel room. My weakness was falling in love while being an amateur sleuth.

 6. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

Being able to handle any situation that is thrown at you. Standing up to anyone or any situation when I feel it is right, and getting the job done.

 7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Listen with both your heart and mind. The two need one another to make the right choice, and each day is about making choices.

8. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

To look outside the box. To consider the least likely to be the one. To never let my guard down, which is what happened leading to my fight for survival that evening.

 9.  If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

The song, Eye of the Tiger. That song to me, represented will power, self-motivation, courage, and determination,

10. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

I am not sure at this time. I get a lot of excitement being an RN and wife to an Agent. If something comes along involving my husband, you better believe I will be right beside him.

“Murder Most Foul,” solving a double homicide is pure murder for F.B.I. Agent Walker Harmon. Available in EPub, HTML, PDF

 For Paperback:

 If you’d like to learn more about the author, JoAnne can be found at:




National Library Week

library weel 2014This week is National Library Week, and the theme is Lives Change @ Your Library. The American Library Association encourages everyone to share what the library means to you.

The library has always been one of my favorite places, and I know without a doubt, my life wouldn’t be what it is today without the library. Books have always been where I found hope, family, friends, and at times even salvation. The library wasn’t just a place where I could check out books and take them home, but a place where I knew I could find myself and grow.

One of my very first memories was going into the bookmobile when I lived in Tuscon, Arizona. I was four-years-old and amazed by all the books the bus had in it. Even better, I was able to check out two books and take them home. The book I loved most was about a ladybug who went, of all places, to the library. I can’t remember the name of the book or any other details. All I remember is the ladybug, her carrying books, the library she visited, and that I loved…capital L O V E, loved that book. I started reading at 4, and have loved doing so ever since.

Libraries are where I’ve expanded my reading interests. It’s easy to get comfortable even and stick with a preferred genre. I find using the library makes it easier for me to be more spontaneous with the worlds I experience. Sometimes when I go to the library, I’ll pick a row at random and walk down it. My goal is to check out one book from those shelves.

When I get bogged down with a large to-do list and have to take off reading time, I find I miss it. I miss it like a friend I haven’t been able to see for a while. I yearn to pick up a book. I feel an overwhelming desire to read. I need to go into a world that isn’t mine…real or fictional. It’s like a taking a small vacation (one that doesn’t cost much). I love going to new and different places, ones I might not get to otherwise.

But the best thing about reading is what I learn. The challenges, direct and indirect, that I’m faced with when seeing through another writer’s eyes. I experience worldviews that aren’t my own. I come away with a new perspective, or at a better understanding of the view not my own, one I wouldn’t have considered with just going on my own personal experiences and knowledge. It’s not just non-fiction where I learn and stretch myself, but also fiction. What I love most appreciate about libraries is the ability to step outside of myself and “become” someone else for a short while.  

Incoporating Your Style Into a Scraplift

Some scraplifting advice from Faith Hunter from the Scrap This Mystery series. 

How to Tweak a Scraplift to Fit Your Style DESIGNED boat image

When scraplifting a design, remember pages are to showcase your memories for you and your loved ones enjoyment, not to submit to contests or as a means to get on a design team.

Scraplifting helps croppers find a way out of the too familiar scenario of scrapbooker’s block. That frustrating place where you have stunning photos, galore of fantastic supplies, but no idea on how to use any of the awesomeness at your fingertips. Designers, and hobbyists who post their layouts, love to see how their designs
inspired others so feel free to share your pages on messages boards. Just remember to credit the scrapper who inspired you or at least mention the design is a scraplift.

1. Play with the elements of the design. Instead of placing all the embellishments, pattern paper, cardstock, and photos in the exact position as in the inspiration layout, move them around. Place the title at the bottom of the page. Line the strip of photos on the opposite side or place it horizontal instead of vertical. 

To duplicate the look of the torn photo, two photos are used.

To duplicate the look of the torn photo, two photos are used.


2. Add a twist. Instead of following the design down to the last brad, substitute a product you love for one the designer used. Add in an extra photo or a larger photo than on the inspiration page. Exchange the strips of pattern paper for cardstock. Washi tape instead of ribbon.

3. Don’t be afraid to eliminate. If your style is more minimalist, don’t think you have to keep embellishment clusters or use all the techniques showed on the page. Remove some of the clusters. Take out one or two of the techniques from the inspiration page. Strip the layout down to the basic design. Only use the parts that help you create a page pleasing to your eye.

4. Control the Chaos. If you like a linear style, and would love to incorporate some element from a less structured design, use the technique in a more “organized” method. Do your splatter in a line instead of free form. Make embellishment clusters with lines, squares, rectangles, and any other shapes that have strong lines.

5. Shop your stash. An inspiration layout is not a recipe that has to be followed. Use what you have on hand, product that caught your eye, instead of purchasing the exact products the designer used. Using the items you love will show your style. Do you have a preference for bold colors over pastels? Whimsical designs instead of geometric shapes? Let your layouts showcase your inner designer by using the scrapping goodies already filling your scrapbooking studio and cropping totes. (I can’t believe I’m sharing this one.) 

I separated one tag and created three elements for the page.

I separated one tag and created three elements for the page.

Partial Tag

The top portion of the tag was placed on the photo mat.







And remember every page you make is beautiful, a work of heart. Don’t worry about following trends, what is deemed hot by the scrapbooking Divas, and compare your page as lacking if it doesn’t look like the layouts published. Your love of scrapbooking makes them beautiful. Each and every one. Enjoy your hobby! No matter what Darlene says, it’s not a competition.

Here’s one of Christina’s scraplifts:

 princess gathering







And the inspiration for the scraplift:

malicious masquerade