Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Who doesn't LOVE a sale?

Today it was almost 90 degrees. The weatherman just said that we should expect snow tomorrow. By the sound of the wind outside, something sinister is blowing in. It has taken me nearly 10 years of Utah living to get used to the abrupt changes to the weather. The local LDS Church holds two big annual conferences every year in Salt Lake City. For our out-of-town friends, you can pretty much count on wet, cold weather the first weekend of April and October! While you might want to stay home because of the weather...there are some great deals to be found in the Salt Lake area because of the event (some might even say holiday!).

1. Our favorite ladies at the Church History Museum store run a big sale two times a year. Everything in the store is 20% off! And yes, they have a nice variety of Stories by Me products right now. The deal is even sweeter because they don't charge sales tax! The sale runs tomorrow, Wednesday, September 30 to Tuesday, October 6. If they run out of any of our products, just ask them to call us and we'll make a special run to get them back in stock. Did I mention how much we LOVE this store?!!

2. We hope that if you live near a Deseret Book...(and you're a lady) that you've had a chance to experience Ladies Night Out. These events are hosted at every Deseret Book store the Saturday night of Conference weekend. According to the Deseret Book website...most regularly priced items will be discounted 20%. I know that I've always found plenty of things to spend my money on, and for a couple of magical hours, it was ALL on sale! We are still trying to get our products in ALL the Deseret Book stores (we hope to share exciting news soon!), but for now, look for our products in the Mormon Handicraft section. We shipped orders to all the stores so we know they have plenty of inventory to get them through the weekend!

As for us, we hope to finish filling our TOFW (Time Out For Women) orders by the weekend. You'll find us with our feet up, relaxed and enjoying a little family time. Who knows, maybe we'll get enough snow to head out for the first snowball fight of the season!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fabric Frame Winner...and pictures from TOFW

Louisa... you are the happy winner of our Fabric Frame contest! We'll connect with you directly to see where to send the frame.

Thanks to everyone who shared their comments and a special thanks to EVERYONE who sent happy thoughts as we shared our passion for preserving family stories at Time Out For Women. What an AMAZING event!! Have you heard of it? We hadn't, but give a huge thanks to Marissa in Pleasanton, CA for getting us connected. There were nearly two thousand women at each of the events that we attended. Imagine, two thousand girlfriends with nothing on their agenda but to sit back, relax, and be uplifted through inspirational talk and music. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Here's a few pictures of the Logan event. They don't capture the positive energy that was there, but it will at least let you sneak a peek of a wonderful weekend. Give serious consideration to putting yourself in Time Out!

And last, but not not least...how cool is it to travel more than an hour from home just to run into good friends from the neighborhood? I LOVE how our paths always cross in the most unique ways.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fabric Frame Instructions and GIVEAWAY!

You have patiently waited... it's time to roll up your sleeves and create your very own fabric frame.

First you'll want to gather:
Unfinished Wood Frame (our rim measures about three inches across)
Fabric (enough to completely cover the frame)
Black Paint (spray paint or brush on)
Decoupage Glue (we recommend Mod Podge - Matte finish)
Wide Foam Brush
Sanding Block
Distress Ink
Distress Chalk

Step 1:
Paint all the edges of the frame. We find that spray paint works great, especially when you're painting several frames at the same time. Over-spray typically doesn't affect your final project since you're covering the frame with fabric. Just be careful if you're using a light-colored fabric. Let the paint dry.

Cut your piece of fabric to be slightly larger than the frame.

Step 2:
Use the wide foam brush to apply an even coat of decoupage glue to the front of the frame. Be sure that the coverage is equally applied to all areas of the frame. The trick here is to not use too much glue, though not enough will cause the fabric to lift.

You'll need to work quickly since the glue will start to dry. Once all the glue is applied, pick up the cut piece of fabric and place it over the frame. We typically start in one corner and move in a clockwise position to make sure that fabric properly covers the entire frame. Try not to reposition the fabric more than is necessary. Smooth the fabric into place rubbing out any air bubbles that might appear. Rub your finger along the edges of the frame to ensure proper adherence.

HINT~ Be sure to lay your frame in front of you in its upright hanging position. This will allow you to properly place the fabric.

Step 3:
Let the glue completely dry. Use a razor to cut off the excess fabric around the outer edge of the fabric. It will cut easily if you hold the excess fabric taut while running the razor blade against the wood frame. Cut out the center in a similar fashion. Start in one corner by feeling the edge of the frame with your finger and creating a small incision with the blade. Once the hole is large enough, you'll be able to hold the fabric tight while continuing to cut away the excess fabric.

Step 4:
Sand all the edges of the frame. We like to use a sanding block (it saves the hands). Just wrap a piece of sand paper around the block and your sanding block will last longer. It is helpful to place the frame over a sink or between two tables especially when sanding the center of the frame. Always sand away from the fabric. If you're sanding the outer edge, start with your sanding block on the edge of the fabric. Slide it towards the back of the frame. Don't sand side to side. You'll notice little stray fibers sticking out; keep sanding! The inner corners can be a bit tricky. You might want to use just the sanding block (without any paper) to clean up the inside corners.

Step 5:
Distress the edges. We like to apply a vintage look to everything we make. Our favorite distress ink color for this project is Vintage Photo. You might want to experiment with different colors based on your personal preference and fabric choices. This pad wont fit into the inside corners of the frame. Use a cat-eye (like our favorite Chestnut Roan fluid chalk by Colorbox) to darken the corners.

Hint ~ A Q-tip works great for getting color into the corners of the frame. Rub a little ink color or paint on to the Q-tip and dab on the frame.

Step 6:
All that's left is to apply a a couple coats of decoupage glue and you're ready to enjoy your efforts. Make sure that you let the ink dry before adding glue to the top of the project. If ink streaks into the middle of the frame you can typically pull the brush back to the edge and remove it. As you apply the glue, the distress ink will darken the fabric; this gives instant age to your project and makes the frame look like it's been around for years!

I think I mentioned that I already found a perfect spot for my new frame. Of course, now I want to paint my walls a new shade of teal. Considering that I never finished the paint job that I started two years ago (maybe it was three) I doubt I'll attempt this room!

Now for the important stuff...
Who wants to win one of these beautiful frames? I bought enough fabric to make the winner their own frame. They can pick either size (we offer sizes with a 12x12 and 8x8 opening). Just add a comment (including the size of the frame that you want) to this post and we'll pick a winner late Wednesday night and post the winner's name on Thursday.

Best of luck to you!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Coming Soon!

Yes, I know that I promised several of you the instructions for making our fabric frames. I thought I'd have time to get this posted before taking off for my Time Out for Women event. Once again, my 'to do' list was much longer than my available time to accomplish said tasks. I was able to get my hands on a few yards of the fantastic teal/brown fabric that was voted most favorite at Swiss Days. I whipped up another frame using this darling fabric. (This one is going to look PERFECT in my kitchen!) The pictures are all taken. Now I have to decide between the clearing the cobwebs in the 'ol brain long enough to write up the process, or catching 4-5 hours of sleep before the kids need their mother to shoo them out the door for school. Sorry guys, bed won!

I pinkie-swear that I will share every last detail (of how to make this frame --of course!) before the weekend is over!

And, because I hate to break a promise, I'm going to make it up to one lucky reader. How about the chance to win your own vintage frame in matching fabric? The winner can choose between our 12x12 or 8x8 size. I personally think our Old Clock Memory Calendar looks like it was made for this fabric!

Check back on Sunday...or Monday to learn how to make your own frame. Be sure to leave a comment if you want the chance to win. We'll pick a winner on Wednesday.

Oh, and please think happy thoughts for Suni and I. It's going to be a BUSY weekend!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Letter Blocks

Our new Letter Blocks were a huge hit at Swiss Days. If you made it into our booth you might have noticed our LOVE and BOO blocks on display. What's great about this project is how easy it is to make. You'll have a finished project in no time!

  • Decide what word you want to display.
  • Pick coordinating papers that complement the word.
  • Locate pictures to go with the theme and you're ON YOUR WAY to making your own fun set of blocks.
Here's what you need to make your own set...

For you to Gather:
3, 4 or 6 blocks (depending on word). Our blocks measure approximately 3.5 inches.
3 coordinating scrapbook papers to match theme (more to cover top and bottoms of block)
Decoupage Glue - We like ModPodge's Matte Glue
Printer -black ink works best for printing letters
Foam Brush
Sanding Block (Not really needed, but it goes a long way to saving your hands during the sanding process!)
Distress Ink or Chalk
Finishing Spray
9, 12 or 18 pictures formatted to fit your blocks. The Photo Wizard will help you format your pictures to fit our blocks perfectly!

Step 1:
Determine the theme that you want to display. Our Letter Blocks .pdf provides letters for the following words...
Pick coordinating paper to match your word choice (i.e. fall colors for BOO, red's and green's for JOY, etc.). 12x12 scrapbook paper works great. Just trim the paper to 8.5 x 11 before feeding it through your printer. Save any extra scraps for covering the top and bottom of the blocks. Print the Letter Blocks .pdf on your selected papers. Cut out each square using the trim markings. (Trim depends on the block size that you're using. Project formatted to Stories by Me blocks.)

Step 2:
Prepare your pictures. You have two options here. Either print each picture to be at least as large as your blocks. Use the edge of the block to trace around each picture and cut away the excess. Or, you can use the Photo Wizard to get your picture to the exact size that is needed for this project. Need help using the Photo Wizard. See our demo. Still need help? We're only a mouse click away. Just email us at www.mythoughts@storiesbyme.com. Cut each picture to size.

Be sure to print your pictures using a LASER printer! Ink jet colors tend to smear when they get wet!!

Step 3: The cut ends of the wood absorb more glue than the grained ends. Before beginning this step, apply a thin layer of glue of glue to the ends with the rougher (cut) surfaces. Let glue dry.

Apply a thin layer of glue to the first side of one block. Place picture over glue and press in to place. Remove any air bubbles. While the glue is drying, repeat the process for other blocks. Check for overhanging paper edges. It is important to WAIT for the glue to dry before attempting to remove any excess paper. Add picture's 2 and 3 following same procedure. Once all of the picture are in place, add one letter square to each block. Complete this step by adding a decorative top and bottom paper square to each block. Don't worry about matching sides. A random look is great!

Step 4:
Once the glue is dry, carefully sand the edges of each block. Add a distress look by rubbing ink or chalk along the sides of each square to darken the exposed wood and remove any white paper edge.

Protect your project with several light coats of decoupage glue or matte Acrylic spray.

That's all that's to it! Remember, you CAN'T ruin this project. Fix any mistakes by simply sanding down the offending side and adding another layer.

Sit back, enjoy your handiwork and start telling the stories that accompany each picture!

Copyright 2009 Stories by Me

Monday, September 7, 2009

Memory Tree Frame & Family Button Box How To's

We're still trying to plant our feet after an amazing weekend at Swiss Days. We are madly filling orders, replenishing inventory and preparing for several other events in the coming weeks. On Friday, we'll be at Touchpoint's annual event for Women Entrepreneurs. Next Friday and Saturday will find us at Time Out for Women. Suni will be in Pleasanton, CA enjoying gorgeous weather, family and friends and an amazing lineup of music and speakers. Lauri is heading to Logan, UT where there is an equally amazing list of activities and topics of discussion. While our main focus will be sharing our passion for preserving life's many stories we are confident that this 'Time Out' will be beneficial for body and soul, and we will come home both relaxed and invigorated!

September also starts our fall class schedule. We're excited to get out and about. You inspire us with your many ideas and stories and we can't wait to share our new projects with you.

We promised to share instructions on some of our projects displayed in our Swiss Days booth. We're working on getting pictures of the vintage fabric frame and new ornament projects posted. Here's the links to the Memory Tree frame and Family Button box instructions that were previously posted.

Click here for easy-to-follow instructions for making the Memory Tree Frame!

Click here for easy-to-follow instructions for making the Family Button Box!

As always, let us know if you have any questions!!

And the Winner Is....

We are excited to announce the winner of our Family Tree 3-Dimensional Tree Giveaway! Thanks to ALL the people who made their way to our Swiss Days booth and showed their support and excitement for our products. You made the hard work leading up to this event well worth it!

TRACY LASSCHE will receive the box filled with everything needed to create her own fabulous tree. Watch for an email Tracy so we can get your kit on its way to you!

For those who ordered their own tree kit; start gathering pictures! Your kits will arrive in the next couple of weeks. Check back as we'll share how we made our ornaments later this week. Right now we're enjoying a few minutes of well-deserved R&R with our families!!