Posted in Books, Craft, mystery, Scrapbooking, Vacations, Writing

Masked to Death has left port

masked-to-death-cover-frontMasked to Death, the fifth book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series, is now out. I went on my first cruise at the end of 2010 and feel in love with this type of vacation. When part of the plot came to me, I started thinking about where to set the book and recalled that in book one, Cropped to Death, Ted mentioned that his mom worked on a cruise ship. My muse said, “Perfect.”, and the story developed from there.

Here’s a short description about Masked to Death:

A Caribbean cruise is the perfect setting for a Roget wedding, and Faith meeting Ted’s family. She also hopes the vacation gets their stalled romance moving, but it doesn’t take long for that dream to capsize. Ted’s daughter hates her. The ex-wife is adored. Odessa Roget is surly. And the banned father of a groom, John Roget, requests Faith’s assistance in bringing down a jewel theft ring masterminded by his ex-wife.

Having had a man she loved accuse her of a crime, Faith won’t let Odessa travel down the same path and agrees to help. Faith sets her course on uncovering the true criminals—which might be a groom’s best friend. The romantic week turns disastrous as a wedding is interrupted, suspicious deaths point to murders, and Ted’s daughter schemes to reunite her parents. Instead of diamonds being a girl’s best friend, Faith finds they’re cruising her toward Davy Jones’ Locker.

Over the next few weeks, you can find me (or Masked) visiting a few places in cyber world where I’ll be answering some questions, talking about creating a travel journal and a fictional cruise, and where some readers will let you  know a little bit more about Masked to Death. I hope you can stop by.

January 25 – Dru’s Book Musings – Guest Post, Vacation Time With Faith Hunter

January 27 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW, INTERVIEW

January 28 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST, Creating a Cruise 

January 29 – Brooke Blogs – INTERVIEW

January 30 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

January 31 – Girl with Book Lungs – REVIEW

February 1 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

February 2 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW, GUEST POST, Travel Journal

February 3 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

February 4 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST, Scrapbooking and Murder

February 5 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy Too! – Excerpt (shopping on a cruise) from Masked to Death

February 6 – Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

February 7 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

Posted in Books, Craft, Disney Layouts, Scrapbooking, Vacations

Autograph Books for Disney Trip

2015-06-05 10.35.08For our trip to Disney World (we’re doing 3 character meals), I made autograph books for the little ones. I usually buy them at the parks, but I wanted them to have one that was a little unique. I chose some chipboard covers that were similar in size to the autograph books sold at Disney. I had originally planned on using a larger size but figured they’d be bulky to carry, and maybe the characters had a harder time holding square shaped books as the ones I’ve seen were always rectangle.

After I settled on the size, I went to planning the design. I saw a lot of examples that I loved on Pinterest and pinned a few. I loved the designs where multiple colors and patterns of paper were used to decorate the front. I gave it a try at this and for some reason couldn’t get my papers…even though they were from the same line…to coordinate in the Disney style I wanted. I was starting to get frustrated then thought I’d use my collection of Disney washi tape.2015-06-05 11.24.33 I love Disney. I love washi tape. Why not used the beloved tape on the covers of the books? I love washi tape so much I even gave the product a starring roll in my novel Designed to Death.

The first book I made was going to be for a little boy and have his favorite character, Sully, on the front. I chose to use different tapes for the strips with the Disney word tape in the middle and at both ends. I wanted to make sure the inside of the back and front of the covers were decorated so added a die cut Boo and Mike to those pages. 2015-06-05 10.40.05The step that took the longest was cutting out the autograph pages as I wanted them to match the shape of the book.

I traced the cover on a heavy weight cardstock, folded it in half, then cut the pages out. Each book has 20 pages…enough pages for 40 signatures if each character uses a separate page. I used rings to hold the pages together because it would be easy to add more pages if needed. The pages looked a little2015-06-05 10.35.34 plain (and I couldn’t erase all the pencil marks off), so I inked the edges.

 

For the two girl books, I decided to go with alternating the tape designs and using the Disney word tape as the starting point by putting it in the middle of the book. For these books, I used Elsa and Anna as the cover character and then a word phrase and Olaf on the ‘inside’ back cover.2015-06-05 10.36.15 2015-06-05 10.40.10

 

Earlier I mentioned making the pages took the longest amount of time with this project and that’s because I have a box of die cuts. I find using the Cameo and Cricut relaxing so the days where I want to craft but not make scrapbook pages (and I’ll even do this at retreats), I cut out characters and phrases and put them in my box for later.2015-06-05 11.25.44 Sometimes, I’ll use them on pages or another project, and there have even been a few times I’ve let the little ones play with the ‘paper people’. Like me, they love Disney so prefer the Disney characters over the other ones in the box. It’s probably why my box is mainly filled with Disney themed die cuts…and the fact that last few times we’ve taken large family vacations they’ve been Disney related.

I can’t wait to get to Disney and our first character meal and give the little ones they’re autograph books. I kind of wish I made one for me.

2015-06-04 15.24.072015-06-05 10.38.51

Posted in Everyday Life, Vacations

Planning is Part of the Fun

2015-06-01 15.52.26In a little less than a week, we’ll be on our way to Disney World. Okay, Orlando actually as we’re not staying at a resort hotel and won’t be at Disney each day but to me we’re going to Disney. For me, it is one of the happiest places on Earth and where I find I can let go of all worries and anxieties and just be in the moment. This time will be even more magical as we’re bringing the little people…aka the Princess and Pirate Boy…aka the grandones…aka the grandchildren…with us. Now, my children never picked up the Disney fever and love from their mother, but my oldest daughter’s little ones sure have. I have got the 2-year-old saying “Going to Disney World” and the 5-year-old is beside herself with anticipation. We giggle about our trip and the plans every time she comes over. I don’t know who’s more excited about the Princess breakfast and meeting Anna and Elsa. Actually, I do. I am more excited about watching my Princess meet the Princesses she loves more than anything else. The anticipation and excitement are so great, I find it a hard time concentration when I find my mind wandering to those events and envisioning the smile on her face. Oh my…is it time yet?

Every vacation we go on, I like to learn about the area and plan out a few things we can do. Fortunately with Disney, there are tons of books, videos, and other sources available for me to get into the Disney and vacation mood. And sometimes a little bit too much because I have to ‘bargain/bribe’ myself into how much work I have to do before I click over to a Disney site or see if we can change the time on the FP+ experience or even switch the experience. My son decided he’d rather trade his Fastpass option from the Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid to Space Mountain, and from Meet the Disney Pals to go on Mission:SPACE along with his dad. Go figure.

I’m really looking forward to this trip that will be a mix of family time and also our group branching out at times to go and experience their favorite parts of the Disney World parks. The Passporter’s Disney World guide is my favorite (if I have to pick one) and I also really like the Hidden Magic of Walt Disney. The Hidden Magic gives tips of things to see and explore when you’re not in the mood for rides or just want to know some of the special ‘treats’ Disney built-in to the park which gives it the magical Disney touch.

Posted in Disney Layouts, Scrapbooking, Vacations

Disney Cruise Layouts

One of the first crafting projects I finished in 2015 was our Disney Cruise album. I had been working on the scrapbook(s) since the beginning of 2013. It took quite a few cropping sessions at home, and even more at some weekend scrapbooking retreats to complete the albums. And yes the ‘s’ and the end of scrapbooks was the biggest reason it took so long. Our one week Disney cruise resulted in hundreds of pictures and 3 full albums. 2015-03-08 19.31.17

I knew I needed two albums for all the layouts but was shocked when the scrapbook turned into a trilogy. I sorted the pictures into three separate sections: cruise activities, character and portrait pics, and then Castaway
Cay day.

cruise 2012 cartooniss
Animator’s Palate…draw your own cartoon character.

I wanted to add in our memorabilia throughout the scrapbooks and designed some pages taking that into account. On the We’re Cartoonists page, I added in the dinner rotation tickets that we’re given on the first day. On another page, I added a Fish Extender gift as a frame for the excursion tickets. (FE gifts are like Secret Santa gifts that a group of cruisers drop off at the cabins by placing in totes/bag/FE extenders that are hung on the fishes by the cabin doors. Cruisers sign up through FB or websites dedicated to Disney traveling.)

cruise 2012 costa excursion ticket cruise 2012 costa maya

One of my favorite parts of the cruise was the character pictures. Now, not everyone in the family found standing in line for the pictures was as fun as I did, so one night I decided to go ahead and get character pictures taken with just me. At first I felt a little weird without having anyone else in the family, but I got over my reservations and had fun. I figured there was no reason I shouldn’t take part in one of the events I enjoyed most…who knew when I’d get another chance. cruise 2012 toy story

The last day of the cruise was spent on Castaway Cay. One of favorite layouts was from pictures taken by a lovely woman on the same parasailing excursion as my teens. Only those parasailing were allowed on the boat so I was happy someone took photos for us with our underwater camera. cruise 2012 up For the Up layouts, I used embellishments (paper and dimensional sticker) to help create movement on the page.

Here are a couple of some of my other favorite layouts. For Animator’s Palate, I used some photo pockets to create additional space to display more pictures. (yes, we took a lot of food pictures)

cruise 2012 animator palate
cruise 2012 ap

cruise 2012 megan port

cruise 2012 mcc pg 1cruise 2012 mcc pg 2

Posted in Disney Layouts, Scrapbooking, Vacations

Incorporating FE Gifts Into Layouts

When we went on a Disney Cruise, we joined the FE group and received many awesome gifts. While some never made it off the ship (candy, snacks for movies, and Glo sticks), and others are being used (like my awesome scissor protector, photo frame, and chalk board), there were other gifts I wanted to save and display, but was afraid they’d get lost or ruined by having them out. I wanted a way to showcase and keep them protected.

For those who are wondering what is an FE (fish extender), it is a fabric bag with pockets…similar to a shoe or jewelry organizer…that is hung from the fish that is outside the door of the cabins on a Disney cruise ship. Christmas Themed FEThe fish is a large hook type decoration that is used to hold messages from the Disney crew members (like reminders for booked appointments). Fish Extenders can be handmade, re-purposed items like tote bags and organizers, or bought from seamstresses (usually can be found on Etsy or small business pages on Facebook). The gifts placed in the pockets range from handmade items, items unique to the state or country the participant is from, to treats to enjoy on the cruise.

The picture frame and the bookmark were also FE gifts. I don't usually use titles on portrait pages, but this bookmark worked as one. And, I was able to save it. Since the bookmark is laminated, I used photo corners to attach it to the page.
The picture frame and the bookmark were also FE gifts. I don’t usually use titles on portrait pages, but this bookmark worked as one. And, I was able to save it. Since the bookmark is laminated, I used photo corners to attach it to the page.

I’ve been working on our Disney Cruise album for a while and am now scrapbooking the professional photos we had taken on the cruise. Most of the pictures are self-explanatory, and also are 5×7 or 8×10 so I didn’t feel these layouts need a title and I use only one picture on a 12×12 scrapbook page. I realized these layouts were perfect for adding in our memorabilia, and that some of our FE gifts were perfect embellishments.

I store all of our memorabilia and FE gifts I wanted to save in a plastic box and bring it out when I’m scrapbooking. When working on a layout of one of my favorite pics…me and Captain Mickey…I knew it was the perfect page to also show off one of my favorite FE gifts, a lovely bracelet.

This  beautiful bracelet was one of our FE gifts. I was afraid it would get lost or broken if I wore it, so I included it as a border on the layout. I used Mickey brads to hold it onto the page.
This beautiful bracelet was one of our FE gifts. I was afraid it would get lost or broken if I wore it, so I included it as a border on the layout. I used Mickey brads to hold it onto the page.

I used the bracelet as a border on the bottom of the page, making sure to drape it to create some movement on the page as all the other elements were straight lines (frame, bookmark, and border around the page).

Me and Mickey

 

 

Here is my completed page of Captain Mickey and me along with some of our FE gifts. I used a simple style for the layout as I wanted to keep the focus on the picture and also the lovely gifts. 

Posted in Craft, Disney Layouts, Scrapbooking, Vacations

Meeting Jack Sparrow at Castaway Cay

Here is one of my favorite pages, and not just because of the Jack Sparrow lookalike standing by me–I mean by me and my husband. At the Heavenly Scrapbook Retreat, they were doing a challenge using a kit a Bo Bunny line. I usually steer clear of challenges as I intimidated by it.

When I went to put a ticket into a prize basket up front, I noticed there was one kit left for the challenge. The kit looked like it was more for Fourth of July pages, and as I was doing Disney Cruise felt it wouldn’t work for me even if I wanted to try. I returned to my table where my table mate –and new friend Cyndie– encouraged me to give it a go. See, I realized the colors of the kit would work with the Jack Sparrow page. Wouldn’t it be cool to use something not pirate for the pages, something a little out of the box. And wasn’t it even more out of the box for me to compete in a challenge. Since I write about scrapbooking and book two of my series (Designed to Death) deals with designs and contests, I should give it a try.

So I did. I am so happy I stepped out of my comfort zone. I’m usually a linear, simple scrapper. But as the challenge was to showcase the product, I arranged and rearranged some of the embellishments and paper on the page until I got just the look I wanted. I also discovered I do like layering on embellishments, I just never gave myself the opportunity to give it a try.

Here it is my challenge page: Running into Jack Sparrow at Castaway CayBorder layering

This last picture is a close up of the border I made. I used Kiwi Lane Design templates (love them) to make the three pieces of the border. Actually one of the “waves” was a discard piece from another layout I made using pieces from the challenge kit. I noticed it fit great on this layout. To create more dimension and some shadows,  I used pop dots to lift the piece of the second and third layer of the borders.

Posted in Scrapbooking, Vacations, West Virginia

Preparing for a Crop

Designed PS and crafts 008 I’m leaving tomorrow for a three-day scrapbooking retreat. All of these bags are filled with my scrapbooking supplies and tools for the event. One bag isn’t pictured, the pink duffel bag housing the Cricut Expression, as I was still using it at the time I took the pictures. Oh, and the bag with snacks and drinks is upstairs. Hmm…no wonder my family is wondering if I’m moving. My suitcase is still in my room.

I’ll admit I’m a little nervous about this trip, and also taking my Cricut out. It’s the first time it’s leaving the house. I didn’t have a proper bag for it so it’s never ventured outside. So tomorrow it will take its first trip and it’ll be a long one, a three hour drive. It’s been a while since I’ve gone to a weekend scrapbook retreat where I “left” home. I’ve been to a couple of local ones but this time I’m going to be spending a few nights at a hotel.  I’m looking forward to it but also nervous as I’m going alone. I’ve never attended a big scrapbooking event like this on my own. When I went years ago, I always went with a group so this is really outside the box for me.

And after seeing how long it takes for me to get ready (I’ve been packing since Saturday), it’s no wonder it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a weekend retreat away from home. At least with the close weekend crops, if I forgot something I could come back home and get it…or call and ask my husband to bring it. This time, whatever I forget I must do without. Kind of scary.

Now, I must go double-check my bags (and I think I’m going to do a little shuffling of items) then load the car. I’ll be working on a Disney Cruise album this weekend so it was a little easier to pack as I just grabbed everything Disney related…which I have a lot of. I’ll share some layouts next week. Off to… Designed PS and crafts 009

Posted in Craft, Scrapbooking, Vacations

Celebrating at Disney and on the Disney Cruise

Our Disney CruiseI’m loving crops again. I’ve been wanting to get this album done for two years now but never could “find the time”. I’d get a page done then put the project to the side while I got work and house related items done. I just couldn’t concentrate at home. My to-do list just kept calling to me. Life gets so busy. My days seem to fill up as soon as I start jotting down my to-do list and events we have planned. I noticed I was waiting to find a time … rather than making time … to enjoy my hobby. I’m fortunate that I have a large space to craft in so I have a ready-made space to spread out and that’s why I hadn’t really tried finding crops to attend.

Over the last few month, I’ve rediscovered how inspiring cropping with a group or even just one friend, can be. I’m glad I decided to allow cropping to once again also be a “group” activity rather than just a “solo” pursuit.

 

IMG_1935My Disney album (one of 3 more I have planned) is finished! It’s nice to have everything in a book that we can look at. What I loved most was reliving some of the experiences as I placed the pictures and then added some journaling. I also loved (and lost track of time) reading our Navigators (the newsletter Disney places on your bed of the activities for the next day). I wanted to keep the color scheme simple so I used black, white and red with a little blue and yellow added on occasion. I do like the “uniformed” look of the album but for our next cruise album, I’m going to mix it up a bit.

Scrapbook Pics for Blog 052That mouse

Posted in Craft, Scrapbooking, Vacations

Fish Extender Gifts

Okay, I know the first question my awesome readers are asking is what is a fish extender, followed by…and why does it need a gift? A fish extender is a term used in Disney Cruise circles referring to a pocket type bag (or a tote) hung from the fish beside the cabin door. The fish was designed for CM (cast members) to put notes in for guests regarding confirmation of classes and such. Guests turned those fishes into a way to hang ‘extenders’ from to have a little extra fun by doing secret pal gift exchange. It’s not quite so secret as members sign up before hand (usually arranged on a message board dedicated to Disney vacationing), and participators are given the cabin numbers of the other people joining in on the fun. Some people list their room on the gifts they buy/make and others just drop off the gift without letting others know who it is from.

The family (and I) will be going on a Disney Cruise in a few weeks and I decided we’ll be participating in the Fish Extender gifting extravaganza. And I do mean I decided.  I thought it would be so fun to get the little gifts, just an added enjoyment of the cruise, and everyone was willing to go along with me. It probably helped the only requirement from the other family members is to hang up the fish extender outside their door and one member of each cabin (we’re split into 3 rooms) help deliver the gifts. All the putting together of packages and making of items is being done by me, so they are all game. Who doesn’t like surprises and presents left outside their door.

I’ve been working on our gifts (between editing and writing a novel) and wanted a place to show them off. Now, I can’t do it on the FB page or on the message board, because someone on the cruise might also be on that group and they’ll see the gift ahead of time. I decided a good place to show off what I’ve been working on is here. There is something about crafting that makes it not finished until there has been a little oohing and aahing over it.