Busy Days Creative Planner – Review and Comparisons

For the past fifteen years I have used a daily planner or diary to organize my life and thoughts.  I have had a few different systems over the years and have been using an A4 Filofax for the past 3 years.  I decided to try something new – a Busy Days Planner from Box Clever Press.  I rather fancied combining planning with a bit of creativity, after admiring some of the amazing planners on blogs and Pinterest.

I purchased my planner from Amazon.  There was a choice of just the planner or with stickers and washi tape, or with a hole punch too.  I decided I only needed the basic planner.  I chose the above design from the 3 or 4 on offer. 

The planner has heavyweight (140gsm) pages – ideal if you want to use pens in your journal.  They are bound together with plastic rings, and can be easily removed or replaced.  This system is compatible with the popular Happy Planners by My & My Big Ideas as well as other similar planners.   It is also the same size as other popular planners being a very chunky 7.75” x 9.75”. 

Each month features a sturdy divider with a colourful protruding tag.  There are pages for each month where you can note down your plans for the month, your goals and, at the end, what you achieved during the month.  I rather like this feature and hope it will help me stay on track with my projects.

At the back of the planner there is a double sided pocket for storing bits and pieces.  Inside this are two sheets of colourful stickers that you can use to decorate your planner.  These are very nice indeed.

The planner also includes pretty calendars for 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. 

The planner has 16 months worth of pages in it.  It starts with September 2017 (very convenient!) and runs through to the end of December 2018.  You can easily remove any months you don’t require.

There are both month-to-a-view and week-to-a-view spreads for each month.  The weekly spreads have each day divided into three horizontal boxes.  Ideal if you like to do morning, afternoon or evening, or want to split up work, home and school, for example.

I will be doing some posts on planner use, creating planner accessories and getting more from your planner in the future.

The following are links to the Busy Days Planner on Amazon.co.uk.  If you purchase from these links, I will get a small payment from Amazon for sending customers their way.

Link to Box Clever Busy Days Planner Website.

 

 

 

Sparkling Crochet by Mitsuki Hoshi – Craft Book Review

Title – Sparkling Crochet
Author – Mitsuki Hoshi
Publisher – Harper Designs
ISBN – 978-0-06-234859-3

I couldn’t resist this book when I saw it.  Such cute amigurumi!  It is about 9 inches tall and 7 inches wide and has 72 pages.

The book includes patterns for 16 cute little crocheted animals and 3 little accessories.

Beautiful Pictures

The first half of the book is full page, colour photos of each of the animals.   The examples have been knitted with sparkly yarn, but of course could be knitted with more usual yarns too. Specific yarn choices are not given.

Colour Instructions

There then follows a photo tutorial on how to make one of the animals, Earnest the Shiba Dog.  This shows you what you need and step by step photo instructions of how to crochet the dog.  The photos are close up and nice and clear.  The other animals are based on similar principles so this section serves as a good tutorial for all the other designs too.

Crochet Charts

Next are the crochet charts themselves.  There is not a written crochet pattern, instead the book uses the Japanese style diagrams for each part.  Some crocheters may not be familiar with these, but with a little practice would hopefully find them easy to use.  Start with a small component to get the idea of how the charts work.

 

Crochet Chart Symbols

Finally there is a short section that shows the symbol for each type of crochet stitch with a step-by-step series of diagrams to show how to make this stitch.  Whilst a total beginner may not find this enough to learn to crochet, it is a clear, helpful guide for those with a little experience already.

Summary

Whilst this is a small book, the patterns are very adorable and lend themselves to experimenting and creating your own additional variations.  The instructions are clear and would suit a new crocheter.  One could easily create the animals on different scales by using thicker/thinner yarn and different hooks – a bit of experimentation would of course be needed.

A cute and fun book with really attractive designs that are difficult to resist.

This link leads to the item on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase it from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

Craft Llama – a New Crafting Community Website

Launching today (1st Septemeber 2017) is the new crafting community website, CraftLlama.com.

I was looking for a safe, friendly, fun crafting community to join and my son suggested “why not make your own?”

Seven months, many sleepless nights and grey hairs later – I have!

Craft Llama is totally free for everyone. If you join before 1st November you will get Charter Member status with a special badge on your profile page.

Craft Llama is for everyone who likes to craft. All crafts, all ages, all nationalities, everyone!

 

 

Tim Holtz Stamping Platform by Tonic – Craft Product Review

 What is the Tim Holtz Stamping Platform

The platform is made of very sturdy plastic and metal.  The base is very flat with rulers along two sides – these are in both inches and centimetres. The other two sides are flat so you can easily put large pieces of paper inside. The lid has a gridon it – this is molded on and will not be rubbed off.  It comes with two very strong flat magnets.  The overall feeling is that this is a very strong product that will last through many years of use.

  Using The Tim Holtz Stamping Platform

Using the platform is very easy.  You just remove the lid and turn it so that the right side is upright – one for clear stamps, one for rubber ones.  The options are very clearly marked and turning the lid around is quick and easy.  Magnetic hinges make sure it goes back in quickly and accurately.

You then place your paper or card on the base and lay your stamps on top, wherever you want them to be.  Close the lid and the stamps transfer to the lid.

Then ink up and close the lid again – simple as that.

And you have your stamped images.  If any didn’t stamp quite perfectly you can reink that area and close the lid again – very easy to get perfect stamped images every time.

Uses For the Tim Holtz Stamping Platform

The Tim Holtz stamping platform can help with multiple everyday stamping situations/issues.

1 – When stamping very large stamps it is easy to have part of the image not stamp properly.  Even with a clear stamp it is very difficult to stamp over the top to correct the error.  The THSP allows you to restamp in exactly the same location, again and again, until the image is perfect.  You can also do this to get a darker impression.

2 – The THSP is ideal for use with the new layered stamps from companies such as Alte New.  These require each layer to be lined up neatly with the layer below – something that can be quite tricky when stamping with traditional acrylic blocks.  With the THSP you can line the layer stamp up precisely on the layer below ready to print.

3 – The THSP really comes into its own when stamping multiple projects.  If, for example, you wanted to make a set of thank you cards, all the same, you can easily position each stamp and then stamp it on all the cards in succession, knowing they will all be in exactly the same location.  Very convenient.

4 – The very large surface of the THSP means you can lay out a large group of stamps and stamp them together.  This is handy for designing backgrounds and scenes as you can position the stamps and move them around without having to stamp anything first.

5 – If you shake or have poor hand control then the THSP makes it much easier to get the perfect stamp every time.  You can take your time positioning your stamps just where then want them then pick them up and stamp them without fear of misalignment or double-stamping.  This is also a handy feature for stamping onto acetate and other slippery surfaces.

6 – You can create corners and borders with the THSP.  Cut a square (or rectangle) of card and place it in the corner of the THSP.  Stamp and rotate the card to add all corners or border edges.  You could create all sorts of kaleidoscopic effects this way too.

7 – Many people are using the THSP as a general purpose work surface too.  The base is very flat and the included magnets are handy for holding work in place when colouring and other crafting.

Summary

I am very pleased I invested in this product.  I had seen a LOT of videos and reviews of the various stamping platforms currently available and felt that this particular one offered the best value for money.  Now I own it, I feel I was right.  It is very sturdy, easy to use and does its job very well.  It was also a very reasonable price compared to some of the other devices out there.

What Am I Up To?

I have been very busy lately creating a new website.  It is craft related and I will be launching it very soon.

The website will be called www.CraftLlama.com – before you rush off to have a look, it currently has a “maintenance mode” sign up so I can construct away without confusing anyone.

CraftLlamaHeaderSmaller

This blog (yes, the one you are reading right now) is built using the WordPress platform.  I have to confess that sometimes WordPress and I have little arguments.  And sometimes WordPress appears to win them.  But overall I love it because it is so flexible, powerful and convenient – which is why the Tin Teddy Blog uses it!

My new site is also using WordPress, but is far more complex than a blog.  I have had to learn a lot of new skills to complete it, including a crash course in both HTML and CSS code.

So what is this mysterious new Craft Llama site, I hear you say?

Well, the more observant amongst you will have noticed that the banner above includes the words “The crafting community”, so that should give you quite a large clue.

I am hoping it will be something very big and very special – made by a crafter, for crafters.

Stay tuned – Tin Teddy Blog followers will be getting special invitations to see it before everyone else – with various perks to this included.

Debi

Create and Craft Membership – Halfprice (technically free) until 26th April 2017

CreateandCraftHalfPriceThe Create and Craft tv shopping channel are having their 14th birthday celebrations.

As well as free postage and packaging, they are offering the chance to join their popular craft club for just £10 – half the usual £20.  Technically this means it is free to join as you will be given £10 credit on your Create and Craft after joining – £10 to spend on any of their many products.

Membership also brings:

  • significant discounts on the usual prices
  • a regular, full colour, glossy magazine
  • the chance to buy special items at low members’ prices
  • free gifts (you just pay postage)
  • a VIP club badge
  • perks at the big shows they host, such as VIP guest lounges
  • downloadable monthly newsletter
  • exclusive competitions

Here is a link to their website and details of the offer:  Create and Craft Half-Price Membership

Mothers’ Day Card Featuring Lawn Fawn Mom & Me Stamps and Inking

I puchased the adorable “Mom & Me” stamp set from Lawn Fawn ages ago, specifically to make my mum’s Mothers’ Day card this year.  Sadly the set does not include “mum”, only the American “mom” – it seems odd they didn’t just include the alternative for everyone who is not in the USA.  Still, not a problem.StampCritters

I stamped the owls and the tree trunk in Rich Cocoa Memento Ink.  I then stamped some of the blades of grass and fir trees in Cottage Ivy Memento ink – I wasn’t sure if I would want to use them or not though.

I coloured the stamped images with Copic and Promarker alcohol pens.

CutOutClouds

I cut two cloud shapes from scrap paper.  This cloud is from the XCut Build-a-Scene set “All Aboard”.

CutCircleTemplates

The I cut out a circle stencil from more scrap paper.  I used a die from the Nesting Circles set by PresscutPlaceMasks

I fixed a 5″ x 7″ white card blank down to my craft mat with low-tack tape, then used more tape to hold the circle mask over it.  I folded a wee bit of the low-tack tape up behind the clouds to hold them in place too.AddBlueInk

Next I used more low-tack tape to mask off the bottom third or so of the circle aperture.  I use an Ink Duster Ink Blending Brush from Inkylicious to gently apply Salty Ocean Distress Ink.  I was careful to always start on the tape or the mask and to brush on to the card blank below.  I tried to keep the colour very soft and applied more towards the bottom than the top.ThenAddGreenInk

Then I swapped over and masked off the top of the circle with scrap paper and began applying Mowed Lawn Distress Ink to the bottom of the aperture.  Again I started each stroke on the mask and brushed in.  I added more ink at the bottom than the top as I hoped this would give the finished circle a bit more of a 3d effect.FinishedInking

Here is the end result once I removed the masks and the low-tack tape.AddSentiment

I added one of the sentiments from the stamp set using the Rich Cocoa Memento ink.

FinishedCard

And then I assembled some of the stamped images on the front of the card.  The owls are on a foam pad for a bit more dimension.  I then added some Glossy Accents over the heart shape on the tree stump.

Owl-Inside

I add the other two owls and a sentiment to the inside for a cute touch.

These links leads to items on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase something from these links then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

12″ Tonic Super Trimmer Review – Tonic Paper Cutter Board

For a while I have been wanting a decent paper trimmer for use in my craft room.  I have a portable one, but I wanted something more “solid”.  When my mum got a Tonic Super Trimmer last summer, I was rather envious of some of its features.  But I am envious no longer as mum bought me my very own one for my birthday! 8

The trimmer has a large base plate and is suitable for paper and card that has one dimension less than 12″.  It comes in a simple “blister pack” with instructions for how to replace the blades and how to use the trimmer.  There are two blades includes -a  cutting one and a scoring one.

Tonic-Cutter-4

The paper or card is held beneath the clear, central ruler.  This has measurements in both cms and inches and the ends are “turned up” which makes it very easy to flip open and closed.

Tonic-Cutter-1

The board is marked in both centimetres and inches throughout.  The rulers are repeated around the board to ensure it is always easy to be accurate.  This is one of the strongest features of this cutting board.   There are also lines marked out at 4 1/4″ and 5 1/2″.  These are the standard dimensions of greetings cards in America, though not in most other countries.  However, many non-USA crafters do use American products and standards, or you can just ignore the marks!  It is just as easy to use the board for International standards too (A5 and A6 sized cards).

Tonic-Cutter-6

The rulers have extensions that swing out from behind the board and click into place to make the board effectively wider.  There are two of these swing arms, and this enables the board to be used either way up.

Tonic-Cutter-2

A scoring bladed head is included.  The “blade” is smooth to the tough and ideal for creasing lines in projects.

Tonic-Cutter-5

The included cutting blade is permanently mounted in a plastic holder.  This is very easy to slip into and out of the central ruler.  A great feature of the blade holder is the two little pointy “wings” that stick out of the sides.  These allow you to line up the blade with the ruler and cut very precise lines in the middle of your card – ie not cutting to the edge.  This makes cutting mounts and frames a doddle and is one of the things that really swung me to this particular model of paper trimmer.

Tonic-Cutter-3

The paper trimmer is very well made.  It feels sturdy (though it is lightweight) and all the markings are deeply engraved so unlikely to wear off easily.  I have been using it a lot and am very impressed with how easy it is to get quick, very accurate cuts.  I have used it on paper from very thin copier tissue paper right up to 340gsm board.

7

I am very happy with the Tonic Super Trimmer and would recommend it to anyone looking for a sturdy, easy to use paper and card trimmer.  I love the features that help ensure accuracy (even for someone who is like me!).  A very well thought out and well made piece of crafting equipment.

This link leads to the item on Amazon.co.uk. If you purchase something from this link then I would get a small commission from Amazon for sending custom their way.

Dozens of Fantastic Free Course Books From Open University now on Amazon

Just a quickie to tell you about the amazing totally free course books that the Open University have added to Amazon.

They are issued in conjunction with the free courses available on the OU’s website (or at Future Learn).

The books cover many different subjects and provide a short but detailed overview of the subject.  They vary in length from 20 or so pages up to about 128.

Of particular interest to craft sellers might be: