Thursday, February 28, 2013

Rare Disease Day 2013

Hi everyone! I just wanted to stop in and let you know that today is Rare Disease Day!  This is a special day for me both in my work AND my personal life. 

As you know, Charlie has Cystic Fibrosis, which qualifies as a rare (or orphan) disease.  As you can see above, it doesn't get him down :P  Luckily, CF is a rare disease that is pretty well researched, easy to diagnose, and has made great strides in the past few years (including increasing life expectancy and new, better medications). 

Thanks to these things Charlie is thriving and we are very happy about that! While CF does not have a cure, it is still manageable to a point using medications and aggressive treatment options.  There are many diseases out there that affect people who aren't so lucky.

SN: My husband Robb Cyr took these photographs, and for some reason I never remembered to share them here until now.  They are back from October, Charlie was Max for Halloween :)  These are probably my 2 favorite pictures of Charlie EVER!

The company I work for produces a drug for the rare diseases PNH and aHUS, while having other drugs in the pipeline for other types of rare diseases.  My company specializes in ultra rare diseases for which there are no cures/treatments.  Before this drug (which happens to be the most expensive drug on the market) patients with PNH and aHUS had very limited options, and this drug has worked wonders for many of them - allowing them to return to school, work, etc.  Pretty cool!  So today at work we are having a Rare Disease Day presentation with patients that are actually taking our drug.  It should be very interesting, and just one more reason I can identify with all rare disease parents/patients around the world. 

In other news I have 5 layotus I am dying to share with you but I just can't seem to take a decent picture of them myself!  Robb has been SUPER busy lately but I'm hoping to beg and plead enough tonight to get some quick photos from him :)  Hopefully I can share them soon!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ch Ch Ch Changes

Hi everyone!  First off, if you won my magazine giveaway I haven't gotten to the post office yet!  Sorry :(  I got a few publications so I figure I'll make just one trip to the post office instead of two, but it might take me a couple more days to get my publication items packaged and ready to go.  But I haven't forgot.  It'll happen!

In other news, my last day of work was on Friday.  It was so bittersweet!  I was sick of my company, the high cost of insurance, the low pay, the lack of overtime pay despite overtime hours, the unmanageable deadlines, and the impossibility to move up.  Oh and the hour long commute.  And 10 hour Saturdays.  ETC.  However, despite these annoying things I also liked a lot too.  I liked that I was in charge of systems that depended on organization.  I liked that I was good at my job and performing laboratory assays.  I loved the people I worked with.  I liked the flexbility, joking around, and happy hours.

However, starting in September, between the bills piling up (to the point where we actually had negative money in our bank account), having to quit Design Teams because I was working so many hours, missing weekends with my family, missing my father in laws funeral, and the stress I decided it was time to start looking hard for another job.  And I got one! yippee!  And Robb's been working more side photography jobs so that's been nice too.  Anyways, I start my new job on Tuesday.  I'm still a Quality Control Scientist (technically an Analyst I suppose), but this job is actually a step down from what I was doing previously.  But that's okay.  The pay is better, the insurance is better, and the commute is actually 10 minutes shorter.  So I can live with that.

I'm so very bummed to be leaving my friends and colleagues at my last job, and kind of dreading this new job.  I'm thrilled to have it, and I'm very curious to see what the future holds- don't get me wrong!  However having to dress up to work again? Wear makeup again?  Make all new friends?  No carpooling? Starting out as the new person again?  Doing bitch work until I prove myself?  UGH!  Gonna be a lot of changes, but I'm sure they'll be for the better.  Who cares though, really? If our bills are getting paid and we can save up enough money to open our pool this summer (unlike last year lol), than it's worth it right?

Anyways, between the news that I'd be leaving and the stress of trying to rapid fire all my remaining work into a couple weeks (and going out with my colleagues while I still could!) I put the Atkins on a back burner. Robb is doing GREAT though, he's down something like 25lbs and he looks fantastic!  I'm going to start again soon as well :)  So I'll keep you posted once I start kicking some weight loss ass too :)

Well I have some layouts to share but I don't like the pictures I took so you'll have to wait another few days until I can strong arm Robb into taking some decent ones for me :)  Hope everything is well with you guys!  Any changes on your horizon?


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Our Kissing Booth and Storm Nemo

Hi everyone! I'm here to share some pictures of our adorable kissing booth, as promised :)  I think these pictures came out darling! I made the kissing booth out of a piece of card board, paint, and a sharpie.  I decorated it using pieces of Noel Mignon's Charm School kit.  We used some ribbon to hang it off some photo rod thing Robb already owned and we took the pictures in our dining room.  Hope you love the pictures as much as I do :)

 awww! couldn't you see that in an advertisement for GAP or something? I just love it!

 Check out that swagger! lol

Kissing booths are the lead cause of cooties.  fact.

Waiting for customers (this was SO much work to get him to actually stand BEHIND the booth lol)

 enamored by the big bright lights hanging out in our dining room :)

awwww kisses for daddy!

This bucket was far more exciting than that kissing booth I spent two hours making (at least according to Charlie lol). I mean, how many cars can you stuff inside a kissing booth? none! but you can put like 20 in that bucket..... haha

In other news, CT got totally slammed by a stupid blizzard.  We got about 30" overnight Friday here in Norwich but some of the rest of the state got way more.  SO glad that I wasn't part of the 36" crowd! however my work WAS (since i work an hour away), so I had Friday and Monday off work.  It was super fun to spend time with Charlie and the hubs but I was kinda going stir crazy so happy to be back at work lol.  Here's some photos:

Charlie's such a little helper, he saw his daddy shoveling so he wanted to as well! He kept asking "shovel snow? shovel snow?" for days lol.  I pretty much stayed on the porch freezing my tush off and hating the snow and winter and blizzards and being outside. lol. Did you get stuck in the snow too??

Be back in a few days with more updates :)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Top Ten Tips for Getting Published

Hi everyone!! I thought I'd do a little blog post today about some tips I use for getting published.  I'm by no means on the top of the heap when it comes to getting published, but I have been lucky enough to have lots of publications in the past year (including Scrapbook and Cards Today, Create (all sorts), Cricut Mag, Cricut Create, Scrapbook Trends, CARDS, Scrapbooks ETC and Creating Keepsakes) so perhaps I have a wee bit of insight.  Anyways, when I first started submitting to publications I always wondered what they were looking for, etc etc, so I thought this might be a useful post for some people.

1. Get Organized

One of the ways I stay on top of publications is that the beginning of every month I make a list of calls.  Typically I'll include any open calls for Scrapbook Trends, CARDS, Create, Scrapbook and Cards Today and Creating Keepsakes, I'll list the deadlines for each and then any specific calls they have that I might be interested in.  I also used to use this list for DT commitments, I'm not on any design teams at the moment (by choice) so I don't need to worry about that.  Before each deadline I'll start submitting anything that might be applicable; this means I usually spam them completely with submissions but ya never know! Sometimes what you think they want is different than what they'll actually choose so I run the gamut.

There are other different magazines out there you can try submitting to.  I submit to only these ones because A. they make it easy B. they give you either product (SCT or Northridge publishing) or cash (CK) C. They're actual magazines and I can buy them in the store and feel famous (ha) and D. No stupid "no one in the world can ever have laid eyes on this layout or we will refuse to publish it" rules.

2. New Techniques

Try a new technique to really make your layout stand out.  This can be a homemade flower instead of a purchased embellishment or some fun idea you've seen on a blog/in a magazine lately.  Try and do something that will make you get noticed but still be in line with your personal style.  Here's an example of a layout that was chosen for Creating Keepsakes that uses a fun spray mist/masking/sewing technique over patterned paper strips.  I'm not usually much of a mist-er but this was fun to go outside of my comfort zone and I loved the end result.

2. Use multiple photos

Lots of people only scrap with one photo, and sometimes if I have a truly exceptional photo than I just leave it at that, but *usually* publications like to see multiple photo layouts (especially two pagers).  I've had plenty of one photo layouts published too, but I have much better luck with multiple photos.  Here's an example of a rare two pager that was published in Scrapbook and Cards Today.

3. Use trendy/new product

This one makes sense when you keep in mind that publications are usually published 6 months AFTER they choose your layout. So if you use a brand new scrapbooking line in a layout and it's published 6 months later, it won't be old hat.  That being said, I've had layouts published with old product as well, but it's more rare.  I can't even show an example because of course all my published layouts using new product aren't out yet so I can't share them ;)


I see this all the time-- crappy photos of your layout combined with crappy photos IN your layout.  You want your layout to look your best, so you need to take the time to take a decent photo of it.  Make sure it's not blurry and make sure the colors are accurate.  Try propping it up in front of a window to get some natural light on it and you will be able to get a decent photo with a camera phone.  Or ask your photographer husband to shoot it.  But be prepared to schedule it 1 week in advance, do a LOT of begging, and having to repay the favor somehow lol.

It's also important to USE good photos in your layout.  These don't have to be professionally done but a photo with good lighting, composition, or subject matter can make all the difference sometimes.  This layout was done with a camera phone picture I randomly took one day, but some quick edits and printing it out large made it totally work with this layout.

5. Use that sewing machine

This one tends to apply more to cards in my experience but I think sewing on any paper project adds a really awesome amount of detail and dimension.  It looks well thought out and put together when you add sewing IMHO.  Especially something small like a card, a bit of sewing really can make a difference.

Here's a card that was published in CARDS that only uses some sewing and a stamp. Simple and easy but really cool too. I use a super cheap Brother sewing machine I got from Amazon for under $100, cheap and I've had it for years.

6. Rule of Three

I'm sure you've heard of this design principle before.  You want your embellishments to form a visual triangle to guide the looker's eyes around the layout.  Here's an example from a layout that was published in Scrapbook Trends (also notice the stitching, good photograph, and unique use of paper strips that I think also helped this layout get chosen). The visual triangle goes from the red W on the bottom left, up to the red button, and back down to the red ampersand.  I also used a strip of red at the top to tie it all together.

7. Tell a good story

Many of my layouts have been chosen (I believe) because they tell an interesting story.  Here's a layout that was published in Scrapbook Trends that tells the story of my husband and I's bench.  Yes we have a bench. Well we did...(thanks a lot Hurricane Sandy) haha. Anyways, the picture draws your attention (cause why would someone scrapbook a bench?) and it beckons you to read the journaling, which is a nice little love story.

SN: If you handwrite your journaling make sure it doesn't look sloppy.  It can be still be artistic looking handwriting while not looking like an epileptic dog wrote it.  And make sure it is straight!  This might just be a pet peeve of mine but I see so many layouts that I would just love if the damn title or journaling or photograph had just been straight.  That being said, I see plenty of layouts with crooked elements in magazines (and sometimes I'm guilty too.  and it freaking drives me nuts every time I have to look at those layouts).

8. Use Sketches

Get your inspiration from anywhere (Two Peas in a Bucket, Pinterest, Manufacturer Blogs, etc) but I personally find sketches to be insanely helpful.  They give me a starting point and something to work from, and it helps me find a way to organize all my crafty ideas into one cohesive layout.

This layout below is my FIRST ever publication! It was published in Creating Keepsakes and I used a Becky Fleck sketch to get me started (also note: the interesting story, multiple photos, visual triangle and [at the time] fresh product)

SN: Be flexible with editors! The CK editors requested a minor edit to this layout (moving the C in CF up a bit so it fit into that little white circle and was easier to read).  I made the change quickly, emailed them an updated photo, and got the OK for publication.  Don't take that stuff personally, just be prompt and helpful :)

9. Get Creative

This can be anything!  Here are some ideas that have worked with me in the past

  •  Make something besides a card or layout. In particular, I love to make wreaths and have had good luck getting them published but you could also try wall hangings, decorating boxes, Christmas ornaments, gift wrap, banners, the list goes on and on.  The more creative the better
  • Incorporate your child's artwork into your project
  •  Try doing different things to make your layouts look more interesting; like using both color and black and white pictures, using different size pictures, using different types of alphas for your title, writing your journaling in a unique area, or using your leftover packaging as embellishments.

Here's a mini album I made that uses both black and white and colored photographs that was published in Create: Mini Albums.  Also note that I made my own flowers from washi tape and I also made mini photo albums that fit inside the album: this helped me stand out. (PS OMFG look how cute baby Charlie was, awwwwww)

10.  Keep Trying!

I submitted for at least 6 months before getting anything chosen.  And there are plenty of months now where I submit and don't get anything chosen (cough like last month cough cough).  Keep at it! and keep submitting the same layout to different calls if you know it's good.  Here's an example: I made this layout for a Mother's Day scrapbooking call at Scrapbook Trends. I absolutely loved it and was just SURE it would make the cut.  Well it didn't. and not the month after that. and not the month after that. and no other publications wanted it.  I was getting so frustrated because I loved it so much.  Well one day Creating Keepsakes emailed asking for a few layouts for publication for their Babies and Toddler issue.  One of them had already been chosen for publication by another magazine so I sent them a few other applicable layouts instead to see if they'd be interested.  Low and behold, they chose this one (finally!).  

I don't know why it took so long to get chosen but I knew it would eventually; plus it's received like 2000 pins on Pinterest so I knew people liked it and I just had to keep at it.

Of course I have still have plenty of favorite layouts that have never been chosen.  And most of the time I still can't figure out why ( of course sometime's I'll look at a layout 6 months later and be like "oh this wasn't as good as I thought").  And most of the time it's just because there's so much GREAT work out there.  Sometimes I'll see Amy Heller, Christine Middlecamp, Paige Evans, or Heidi Sonboul's layouts and be like "geee, well of course they didn't pick anything of mine, look at THAT shit!".  So you just gotta let it roll off your back.  Altho I will say it drives me bonkers to see the same scrapbooker picked up like 6 times in one issue of a magazine, every month (except for Cassandra Cyr's 4 layouts in the March/April issue of Creating Keepsakes.  that doesn't count. hehehe).  I mean c'mon.  Anyways, I digress.  Here are a couple of my favorite layouts that never got picked for anything *sniff sniff*. Ah well!

Of course the point of scrapbooking isn't publications! It's certainly a fun perk and helps keep me motivated to scrap when I'm feeling low on inspiration, but the point is to document your life in a beautiful way.  And that's what I like to think I do, published or not :)

Well folks, those are my top 10 tips!  Hopefully they'll work for you, they've worked out pretty well for me in the past! Of course that being said: i don't know everything and I'm not some big time famous scrapbooker so I could be completely wrong.  Any questions? Any additional tips?  I'd love to hear what you have to say too!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Winner Winners! And Updates

Hi everyone! Sorry this is a few days late, how obnoxiousssssss.  I never should have said I'd pull winners on Friday lol, but anyways here are the winners for my magazine giveaways.  I'll probably get them in the mail sometime in the next week or so.

Northridge Publishing Prize Pack

ScubaScrapperBrandi said

"Oh wow! This a a very generous giveaway! I would love to win prize 1 (only because I have been a multiple-year subscriber to 3 of the 5 mags in prize 2). I have been a follower of your amazingly inspiring blog for a while now. You are so talented!!! By the way, I have been enjoying your recipes (haven't tried any yet, but will let you know when I do)."

CK/Scrapbooks Etc/Scrapbook and Cards Today Prize Pack

Jessica said

"Wow what a GREAT collection of mags for this giveaway! I can only image the inspiration I can gain for these! Thanks so much for the chance to win one :) Happy Hump Day! Jessic" 

Yay! So if you won email me at with your mailing address.   In other news, my husband and I will be bringing Charlie to see Yo Gabba Gabba live this coming Saturday! I'm sooooo excited! When I first went to look at tickets it looked like it would be too expensive but then I got found a Groupon for 52% off! So I was able to snag some and now I can't wait, Charlie digs his Yo Gabba ;) We have the Yo Gabba Gabba Live DVD and he literally starts crying when it's over lol.

Speaking of Charlie, I figure I'll do a little Charlie CF update today.

Charlie was found to be Pseudomonas positive this past September.  (Charlie has Cystic Fibrosis, you can see posts about this HERE or HERE).  This was a huge bummer for us, Pseudomonas is a pretty nasty bacteria for CF patients and it's notoriously hard to get rid of it.  Usually many CF patients will start culturing this in their teens, but since Charlie is only 2 we were pretty unhappy about it.  So when Charlie was first diagnosed with Pseudomonas we got a call from the Director of the CF Center we attend (that's how you know it's a big deal lol) and we started him immediately on an inhaled antibiotic called TOBI and also Zithromycin, which helps weaken the Pseudomonas bacteria to the TOBI.  This added an extra 30 minutes to each breathing treatment (totaling 2 hours per day now) and then his medication total added up to about 10 different types of medication per DAY (administered like 16 times per day).  Bummer.

So we did the TOBI  for 2 months and then stopped it and did another throat culture.  This treatment regimen gets rid of Psuedomonas in appx 75% of the patients that try it and we were so upset to learn that it did not work for Charlie.  So now Charlie will be on TOBI cycles and the zithromycin for the forseeable future to help prevent it from growing out of control (one month on and one month off to prevent resistance).  Wicked bummer.  Plus the TOBI is nasty nasty stuff- it irritates me just sitting next to Charlie so imagine how much it bothers him, poor little dude.  It makes him cough and gives him nosebleeds, but he's usually a trooper about it (60/40 lol). 

Aside from that Charlie is kicking ass though.  His weight is doing well (surprising considering he only eats hot dogs lately lol) and he is as boisterous as ever.  His grandparents got him a racecar bed for Christmas which he adores.  He's pretty much transitioned over to it (and before you start thinking I'm a horrible parent I put outlet covers on that outlet before he started sleeping in the bed lol) and its gone quite smoothly.

Oh except for that time we accidentally left out the baby powder and then put him down for a nap, lol :o

We also did a fun little photo shoot this Saturday; I made a kissing booth from cardboard and Robb took some photos of Charlie behind it on white seamless.  He looked so handsome :) I'm going to share photo's once my husband edits them but here's a sneak peak at the kissing booth I made.  I used Noel Mignon's kit "Charm School" to make the sign and the heart garland (Charlie helped punch the hearts too!)

BTW I'm on Instagram (most of these pictures have been shared there already), if you care to follow you can find me under GlueMeetsPaper :) 

Alrighty, that's all folks! Long update for today eh?