Oct 19, 2014

Cutting it Up with my new Cricut Explore

It's been almost a year since I have written a new blog post.  I haven't really taken the time to talk about what's been happening in my life (I do post more often on Facebook, so close friends and family, know what I'm up to). 

The year has been good so far. My granddaughter was absolutely beautiful for her Senior Prom in April.  She graduated High School at the end of May, and is now attending a local Community College. She bought a used car, paid for with her own money!!  I am so proud of her.
My grandson, switched to a new school for his junior year, one that is more science and engineering based.  

My younger daughter came from Indianapolis for a week in June. Then I went to Indianapolis in August, to go with my daughter - to the NFL Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio. Andre Reed, a former wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, was inducted to the HOF.  And the Bills played the Giants in the annual HOF game.  We had a wonderful time. 

My sister came from Jacksonville to visit in August, and then I went to visit her for a few days.  Did some other stuff, but those are the highlights.

But this post is really about my newest toy - the new Cricut Explore cutting machine.

A few years ago, I bought my Florida daughter, a Cricut Expression, its a machine that is totally "Cartridge" based. She has quite a few cartridges and has completed several projects with it. My granddaughter also uses it often.  At the time I bought it for her, there was a software product out > Sure Cuts A Lot. With that software program, you were supposed to be able to Cut your own Images. That program along with another Make The Cut, were advertising that you could use a Cricut without needing Cartridges (you did need at least one cartridge, to get the machine to work properly, but you weren't cutting images from that cartridge, you were cutting your own clip art or designs and files like SVGs) 
She at that time bought the Sure Cuts A Lot software, but never could get it to work right. Eventually Sure Cuts a Lot and Make the Cut, were sued by Cricut, for infringing on their Intellectual Property or something along those lines. Both manufacturers agreed to take out that feature in their software and those programs will not work with any new Cricut Expressions. Note: Sure Cuts A Lot (SCAL) and Make The Cut (MTC) programs are still made and sold and they continue to work with other Cutting Machines on the market.

Well I like many others, wanted a simple machine to cut out our own stash. I have hundreds of images alone from pcCrafter collections, that I had bought from that site, before it closed down in 2012.  

And there were machines available on the market, The Silhouette SD, and the newer model Silhouette Cameo, The Klik-n-Kut, The Gazelle, etc. etc.  For what ever reason I always felt those machines to have more of a learning curve for me, and/or price tags, that I couldn't justify paying. There are lots of YouTube videos, and tutorials for those machines. Their cutting ability is excellent. Crafter's who mastered those machines, created some wonderful projects, and they could Cut out their own Clip Art images.

In March of this year (2014) I watched on HSN.com the launch of the newest Cricut > The Cricut Explore.  The machine seemed like an interesting development in Cricut's history of cutting machines. This machine would use an online site > The Cricut Design Space. On that website you would create your projects online, and cut from there on the Explore. You hook the Cricut Explore to your computer via a USB cord. 
There's a bunch of projects to choose from on the Design Space. And you can buy images, and you can utilize any Cartridges you may own. On the Cricut Explore there is a place to put your Cartridge, and the images on it are linked to the Cricut Design Space online, so that you can access them when needed for a project. (I don't have any Cartridges of my own, so haven't done anything with that feature)  
On HSN at that time they talked about the new Print and Cut option and how you would be able to upload your own images/clip art from your computer and Print them and then use the Explore machine to cut them.  But - that feature wouldn't be available until the Fall.

So I waited, and in early October the machine was back on HSN, and now the Print and Cut feature was available.  It was offered at a good price > and with extras, that I couldn't get on other sites that sell the Explore.  Plus I have until Jan 31, 2015 to return the machine.

I made a web page showing how I cut out some of my Clip Art stash using the machine. It was fairly painless to set up the machine. So far the only thing I have done with it - is cut out clip art. The cutting precision is amazing to this ole gal - I'd never be able to make the small cuts that some of these images require if you really want to cut out nooks and crannies.

Cricut Explore FAQs http://www.hallmarkscrapbook.com/cricut-explore-faqs/
(*note: these FAQs were written "before" the Print & Cut feature was made available - if you buy a machine now - this option should be available as it is for me and my Oct 2014 purchase of the Explore - and if you bought one earlier, you can update your machine to make this feature work)  

Here is a link to a review of the Cricut Explore, written by someone who seems to know her way around a Cutting machine or two or more > http://joyslife.com/cricut-explore-machine-review/  .  My own personal experience with the Explore is very new and limited. Please do your own research online, or ask crafty friends for advice before buying ANY expensive cutting machine.  Don't let your purchase of any cutting machine, become an expensive door stop.

You are welcome to visit my web page at > Cricut Explore ~ Print and Cut and see how I cut stuff out. The page has links to YouTube videos, and informational sites for the Cricut Explore. I've included links to sites that compare the Silhouette Cameo with the Explore. The Silhouette Cameo is popular and has a large following.  So if you are already a Silhouette owner, you most likely wouldn't be interested in the Explore.

That's my story and I'm stickin to it!

Jan 18, 2014

Activating the pcCrafter Deluxe Hugbug Browser & other pcc stuff ;)

First off...Happy New Year :)

I know I haven't been writing much on my blog lately, but tonight for some reason, I was going over some older posts. And on one where I talked about pccrafter closing down back in 2012 - I read some of the "comments" posted in 2013 (Sorry about not reading through my blogs comments more often - last yr was a really busy one for me). Most of the comments had to do with either gals who had lost everything and hadn't had their clip art collections backed up and those who now were unable to "activate" their Deluxe Hugbug Browser.

I can't help anyone who lost all of their clip art, but I did write a post last year, giving anyone the codes now needed for activation of the Browser
Please note: I have installed and activated the Deluxe Browser on computers running Windows 7 and Windows 8 with no problems.

And here is the >>  post << where I provided links to a spreadsheet or word document with a listing of pccrafter creatables, scrapables, and cardables and the artists that created them.

I also updated a March 2013 post about former pccrafter artists who continue to sell downloadable clip art collections online:  http://chocolateonthekeyboard.blogspot.com/2013/03/former-pccrafter-artists-still-selling.html  -

artists that previously had been selling on DAISIE : Shelly Comiskey, Carolee Jones & Marie Cole are NOT currently selling Clip art online.

Joy Hall who had been selling clip art sets on Aimee Asher, is  NOT currently selling Clip art.

If at some point I find information about any of these artists or other past pccrafter artists, that they have resumed selling their wonderful clip art collections, I will be sure to let my readers know.

Other than those updates and information, Life for *me* is good.

Wishing you all a peaceful, memorable year ahead.

Nov 7, 2013

Let's Go Fly a Kite...at the Beach

The last week of October I spent a wonderful relaxing week at a beach front rental in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. Staying with my daughters family & her husbands family. We gathered together to celebrate my son-in-law's fathers 80th birthday. 

Indian Rocks is about an hours drive south of where I live in FL.  My granddaughter shown here, had a fun time flying kites.    **Made this collage using Picasa
Posted by Picasa

Sep 11, 2013

Back in the lower 48 after 16 Amazing Days in Alaska

My daughter and I are in Indianapolis after a whirlwind 16 days in Alaska. We traveled by plane, car, bus, train, and boat.  Every sight was beautiful to behold. We had delicious food, wonderful accommodations, met some very nice folks, made some new friends...All in All the Trip exceeded any of our expectations.

Our travels took us from Anchorage, to Homer, then 2 nights in Denali, next 2 nights in Fairbanks which included a bus ride to step across the Arctic Circle, and see parts of the Yukon River. From Fairbanks we went to see Santa at North Pole Alaska. On to Tok, for an overnight. Next day we headed out to Valdez and stopped by the Wrangell St, Elias Forest for a short hike. Then as we drove into Valdez, the water falls and mountain views were spectacular as we approached the cite. Spent a night there, and headed back to Anchorage for an overnight and a visit to Girdwood where we took tram ride up to visit its view of 7 Glaciers. Then next day boarded a train to take us on to Seward for the Conference.

I was also happy to share in some of the experiences of my daughters - Zoo Veterinarian Technicians Conference that was held in Seward and hosted by the Alaska Sea Life Center.  One evening the conference had their "Ice-Breaker" event held via a Dinner at the Fox Island Lodge and a Boat Cruise out to the Island on Resurrection Bay. It rained and was windy for most of the ride, but we got to view lots of sea and wild life along the way.  The dinner was wonderful too, the guest speaker for the evening, was a Veterinarian who shared her story of working on the animals affected by the Valdez oil spill in 1989.

Then another event I was able to attend was a behind the scenes tour of the Alaska Sea Life Center, which was quite interesting. Then after the tour, Jen and I went into town for dinner on our own - Had Greek food in Alaska..which was actually very good ;) .  Then back to the Sea Life Center for an awesome dessert bar, drinks and silent auction. The speaker for that event was also excellent, and he talked about his experiences tagging  & studying whales, seals, etc. and his run-in with the KGB of Russia. 

On our last day in Alaska, we took a bus from Seward, which stopped at the Wildlife Center, but it was raining, so didn't stay long there, but saw some wildlife ;).  Then on to the Anchorage Zoo, there the Vet Tech who hosted the Conference, had a pizza & salad, with dessert lunch set up for us all. We toured the small Zoo, and had access to behind the scenes stuff and talks there too. It was then time to go back to the Inn that we had already stayed in twice before on our journey, to get one last dinner over looking the lake, and a wee bit of shut eye. We had to get up at 3am to make the 4:30 shuttle to airport and be on our 6am flight.  We both slept most of the 2 flights, and got into Indy on Tues at 6pm.

I am still going through the 100's of photos we each took. I used my 2 digital cameras, and my phone. Jen used her Kodak Digital and her newly purchased on the trip - a Nikon DSLR camera that she's still learning, but having lots of fun with.  We downloaded each of our photos to thumb drives and put them in separate "daily" folders.  Gonna be awhile, for me to fully appreciate, view, and then weed all of the pictures. Once I am home in Florida, I can begin the fun of creating some digital layouts.  

On Friday the 13th, we start out on another adventure. I will go to Buffalo with Jen, and she will attend a wedding on Sat. and then on Sun, she and a friend will take off on their motorcycles (which Jen will trail from Indy) to tour the 1000 Island area of New York. I will stay behind in Buffalo, rent a car and visit Friends and my old neighborhood, the Cemetery,  and soak up the joy of "home" for a week.  

Here are some random Alaska photos that were easily accessible on my mini computer to post on the Blog:

These were taken in Denali, Alaska where we took shuttle bus ride up to one of the visitor centers, hiked along a river the next day, and took some photos around town, and from our hotel - The Grand Denali Lodge which was perched high up on a cliff...awesome views every where we looked and went.  I have uploaded "my limit" for this blog post - at least that's what Google has told me for today.  We'll see if I can upload more another day. I'm exhausted from finding pics and deciding on what to upload. Nighty night from Indianapolis where its hot and muggy this evening. 


We took a tour bus ride (all day) driving from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle - where we stood under a sign marking the line of the "Arctic Circle" and had our pictures taken (that photo is on another drive with my daughters photos) These are pictures taken along the drive, and at stops we made on the way. The first "potty" break was in Joy, Alaska - where they had several outhouses - oh joy ;) . We also saw the Yukon River, the Alaska Pipeline, Finger Mountain, walked in the soggy tundra, watched some interesting and informative videos on the bus as well. Learned a lot about the building of the pipeline and life in small villages in Alaska.

Went to see Santa in North Pole Alaska, and from there drove to Tok

This group of photos were taken in Tok and then via our ride to Valdez, where we hiked for a bit in the Wrangell St. Elias National Park & Preserve (the largest National Park in the United States)

 the following were taken on our drive into Valdez

Drove from Anchorage to Girdwood (45 minute drive) along Turn Again Arm - near Cook Islet (Captain Cook sailed up into this area, and told his crew to "turn again" ) in these waters we saw Beluga Whales, and seals, and hearty wind surfers. We took a tram ride up from the Alyeska Resort to Seven Glaciers hiking and ski area.

this group of photos are from our train ride - Anchorage to Seward

 this group of photos were taken in downtown Seward and on our hike up to view Exit Glacier

these photos were taken while on the Boat Cruise (Jen braved the elements to get take some photos on deck - I stayed inside, nice and warm) -  we went out on Resurrection Bay, saw Eagles, Otters, Seals, and more. Then had dinner at the Fox Island Lodge where the guest speaker for the group, told us of her experiences with the animals affected by the Valdez oil spill in 1989.  

this group was taken at the Sea Life Center in Seward, and includes the wonderful dessert bar that was set out for the Zoo Vet Tech Conference attendees.

photos taken of our hotel in Seward, the Windsong Lodge (the conference, Jennifer attended was held here as well), where Jen got us a room with a deck that looked out over mountains and the Resurrection River. And we went up to Exit Glacier and took photos of the glacier. It was the closest we got to any of the many glaciers we saw and photographed in Alaska.

These were taken in Seward area

 This is a rainbow over the mountains as we rode the bus to zoo, the rest of the photos were taken at the Anchorage Zoo.