Unique… basically free Christmas gift

Keeping up with the Jones’ can be difficult, especially at Christmas time.  You don’t have to spend money to give a unique gift… and newsflash unique is not code word for ugly homemade gifts!

Chances are if you are reading this blog you are probably the creative one in your family.  Are you the one taking a million pictures at parties?  You can make anything look cute.  Did I get it right???  This gift idea is for you.

Look over the pictures you’ve taken this past year.  Pick out a bunch of your favorite pictures for each family you are gifting.  Burn those pictures on a CD.  Using a CD sleeve, cupcake wrappers and some twine, wrap it up!  It’s perfect gift for any occasion!  And if you do it right, didn’t cost you a dime.

Who wouldn’t love a CD of pictures of their family from the past year?

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Best gift ever.

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Debbie Miller bcuzuluvme Spotlight

We are so excited to to introduce you to this crazy talented lady Debbie Miller.  This girl covers it all from paper-crafting, mixed media art, to jewelry making.  Get to know her and her talents by reading more about her.

 I spent the afternoon with her at her studio and here’s how it went…

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1. What do you do to become inspired to create? Listen to music? Look at blogs? Read a magazine? Actually, I get a lot of my inspiration from the world around me, in simple things that you see every day. I’m fortunate too have some great trails near me, so I hike those to clear my head and get inspiration. Just changing my environment for a moment really inspires and gets the ideas flowing. Just getting out in the world, taking pictures, looking at something common differently. I love art gallery’s, recently, I visited Norton Simon Museum which inspired me to tap into my drawing and sketching that I had ignored for so long.

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2. We notice you use so many different tools when you create! What is your most favorite to work with?? I LOVE my soldering iron! I got into soldering a few years ago and can’t put it down. Being that I work in so many mediums, the tool inventory ranges from paper arts and mixed media to jewelry and beading. As mentioned earlier, I rediscovered my drawing and sketching and remembered I Love my smudgers. I could go on and on you know.I also use a lot of conventional garage tools in my work~hammer, hacksaw, files…ooo, Love my Dremel and my doming block. Oh man, I Love so many! For paper, I love my Quickutz and Sizzix, I’m kinda Old Skool that way.

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3. How did you get started creating these works of art? I’ve always been creative, but I’ve been evolving through the years. I used to be heavily into scrapbooking and even had my own store for 5 years, Scrapping Lounge. That experience opened up a whole new world to me and unlocked my creativity. Soon, I was looking for different ways to create with paper and developed my technique for decoupaging on vintage handbags and accessories. That all lead to jewelry making, beading, soldering, the list just goes on. Once that faucet was turned on, I didn’t want to ever turn it off! Now, the ideas just appear to me, being I’m always working on something, whether in my mind or actually in the studio; I’ll glance on something while I’m out and that will trigger a new idea or process to apply to an existing project I might be stuck on. I might be making dinner for my “Scrap Girls” at my crop and that will give me a
new insight on how to heat metals! You never know where the ideas and inspiration will come from.

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4. Name one crafty item you cannot live without. Paper trash. It’s the basis of my mixed media art and design ideas. One of my favorite sources of materials is looking to everyday items we discard all of the time. Having weathered the recession, I had to think of imaginative ways to create something out of nothing, which is true art. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, but knew there were materials all around me and ideas waiting to be born. In mixed media, this is key, creating out of nothing. Up cycling, recycling and re purposing all come into play. My mixed media books are loaded with common office products, cardboard, chipboard, bits of ephemera from many different sources. Turning something that is considered “trash” into a piece of art and seeing the look on my students faces when they realize this is such a rush!

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5. Name your designer or anybody that has most influenced your work. Well, there are so many, being I work in so many areas and I’m blessed with some very creative friends, let’s see…when it comes to jewelry and soldering I Love Kathy Menasco’s work of Kathy Jo Designs, her vintage inspired jewelry is Amazing and original. Irene Sanchez, owner of the Garden of Beaden in Upland taught me how to solder and I developed my love for beading through her and the Amazing artists that I’ve met through her group. Robin Dudley-Howes, Tara Wilson, Lisa Loria, Crystal Basica, Omazahara Ellis, Melanie Doerman, the list just goes on! When it comes to creating with paper~I go to my roots in scrapbooking that go back over 20 years and my creative evolution that have brought me to where I am today.

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6. What was the last song you downloaded on your IPOD? Or Your favorite radio station? I always listen to The Sound in my studio, it’s my jam. I have a great CD collection too. Everything from Big Bands to Lady Gaga, Rock to Jazz, you name it! One of my favs for years are The Red Elvis’~ Ukrainian Rockabilly~I discovered them at The Sawdust Festival years ago and have been a fan ever since!

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7. Any favorite TV shows? Being I don’t have cable, it limits my choices, but I’d have to say Modern Family (cracks the heck out of me!), Bones, The Voice. Also, love PBS shows, Doc Martin and William and Mary. Rick Steve’s Travel~his travel episodes came in handy when I ventured to Budapest Hungary, Germany, Slovakia and the Netherlands last year. Again, there’s inspiration everywhere!

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8. DO you have an Instagram? Blog? Pintrest? Facebook? Youtube Channel????? Yes, Yes, yes! Instagram, Pintrest, Etsy and FB all under Debbrajdesigns Bloghttp://debbrajdesigns.blogspot.com                          websitehttp://paradisekittenart.wix.com/debbra-j-designs.

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9. Any advice to someone who is interested in creating mixed media art? Open your mind and let the ideas come! There are no rules, so don’t put limits on yourself. We all are creative, just some of us haven’t had the opportunity to express it. When I had my store, I would hear so many customers say: “I’m just not creative” or “I’m not artistic”. Bah, get your hands dirty, tear paper, don’t measure, throw glitter on it~work with child like abandon and you will be amazed! It’s in there, you just have to let it out!

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10. FIll in the blank… I never leave the house without my…. iphone, because the camera is Awesome! I’m always snapping pictures of things that inspire me! Why do you think I’ve been posting all of those great sunrise and sunset pictures on FB lately? Live in the moment Gang! Also pockets, got to have pockets to put found treasures in. Remember child like abandon, this is part of it. (wow, that was a long blank I filled in)

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11. Your snack of choice… sweet or salty?? I bake from scratch a lot, trying to simplify my diet and be healthy, so I eat cookies occasionally that I bake or veggie chips that I’ve made. So I guess both, sweet and salty, I don’t discriminate.

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12. If you were granted one magical power what would it be? Of course, magic like Samantha’s on Bewitched is the Best power Ever! I think I’d go with that one, imagine all of the things you could do AND, you could have more hours in your day if you wanted~that’s it, Samantha’s witchery for me!

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13. Where can we purchase your items at? Etsy under my shop- Debbrajdesigns I have lots more on my websitehttp://paradisekittenart.wix.com/debbra-j-designs (can’t purchase direct from site, but can email me at: paradisekittenart@yahoo.com)

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14. Has this hobby of yours taught you anything new? Yes, it’s never too late to follow your bliss! Even if you have to work a 9-5 job that takes you away from what you really want to do, create! One day you will have the opportunity to do what you WANT and you will be that much more fulfilled. I worked in corporate America for over 25 years and I was always working on some project or another after hours. It was just in me to create. My art evolved through the years to what it is now. Every bump, failure, success, change, tweak, experience has led me here. Don’t ever quit or give up on yourself and your art, create. Even if you can only do it occasionally and have no space for a studio; you can work at your kitchen table after the kids are asleep and work on a project, no matter how small or seldom, create. Now, I’m able to turn this hobby into an actual business, create!

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15. If you weren’t creating each day what other activity would we find you doing? Costume design. Except for all of the measuring, I love coming up with costumes for events. Also, I’ve been told that I would be a great party planner. Either of those, had I started years ago, could have been my future. Of course, being a trick rider in the circus was my choice when I was a kid, but that’s a story for another day.

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16. Any interesting tidbits we should know about you? I was a Job’s Daughter when I was a teenager. I rode horses and showed and still ride to this day, though not as often. I have a sister who died from leukemia when I was 12, she was 9. I’m stubborn (must be my German heritage) but not unyielding. I have a warped sense of humor (doesn’t everyone?) I went to the Wendy Ward school of modeling because my mom made me. I sun bathed topless when I lived at home and burned my boobies. (that was dumb) I love to go camping and can’t ski. I can still roller skate and have danced on a table or two. I’m a big kid at times and refuse to grow up!

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Isn’t she just the coolest ever?  My goodness!  Keep up with her and all her shows, crops and art!!

Thanks Debbie for allowing us in your studio for the day and for sharing your talents with us all.  You are going to want to keep your eye on her!

My Favorite Things Party by Elevate Blog Conference & The Printed Palette

I have been counting the days until Friday, November 15th.  The Elevate Blog Conference & The Printed Palette My Favorite Things Party.   Basically you are to bring 5 of the exact same items (your favorite items ever) with a value between $5-$7. Now for the most interesting part, it said  “be creative in your selections and packaging“. Yikes!! I’ll be surrounded by super creative people what am I to do?

You all saw my post yesterday on what I brought.  The mason jars filled with a ton of my favorites!! If you didn’t get a chance to see check them out here.

The night started out with some mingling, crafting, and eating. SO many pictures to post but I just couldn’t bear to choose.  If you look up the hashtag #elevateconfftp on Instagram you can see the whole party.

After all that fun, the presentations of gifts began.

The first was from Dana and here gift had a great message.  We all never really stop and take the time to just take a picture of what is real.  WIth our phones and digital cameras we are obsessed with taking the perfect picture instead of taking a picture of the moment.  No retakes, just a real picture.  I loved the idea!!!  She gave us a disposable camera, and a list of treasured moments to capture.  Brilliant for that person that needs to stop and smell the roses.

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 Next, I was presented by Jen from Delightful Deets gift. I loved the simplicity of how she wrapped it!  It was a bag of her most favorite chocolate chips wrapped with a paper doily, and tulle with a gift card to her favorite store TARGET!  DUH!  That is everybody’s favorite store right??  This would be a super cute idea maybe instead of a Target gift card it could be to Williams Sonoma, or Trader Joe’s, or a cute bakery.

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Personal handmade gifts are some of my favorite gifts ever.  And you all know my obsession with kraft paper!!  When I received this bag of goodies from Jenilee from Squint Paperie I literally squealed with joy!!!  First off it was wrapped in a little brown paper bag, second she hand-lettered the phrase on the bag!  WOW!  Inside was more kraft goodies and a white pen.  I LOVE white pens!!!  So cute!  Personal stationery is a fantastic gift for anyone.

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I love the idea of wrapping up goodies in gable boxes.  Dress it up with some washi tape and add a handmade tassel and boom… instant success! Summer of Made by Munchie’s Mama put a bunch of goodies together in this adorable box.  I couldn’t help but to gravitate to the nail polish and nail decals!  How fitting considering I live in a house with three daughters!  Nail polish is a staple in out house.  What a great idea!  You could do this gift on a budget… think dollar tree nail items.  What gal doesn’t love goodies for her nails!

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I love how Darcie from Juneau Luxe used the gift wrap box from Sephora in her own way.  Lots of time I shop at places that I know will gift wrap or include packaging.  Darcie could have wrapped it like she was supposed to but instead she left the top opened and poofed out the tissue paper.  It was such a cute little twist to what could have looked like an ordinary gift box.  You don’t have to follow the rules of gift wrapping… do whatever is going o make it look super cute!  By the way she included the best hand and nail lotion from Sephora EVER!!! MFT#5 Collage

There was so many more great ideas out there!  Look up the #hashtag I mentioned to see them all.

Just when we though we were done for the night The Elevate ladies along with The Printed Palette gave us a bag full of swag…. FULL!  The Printed Palette had these gorgeous bags made for us especially for the event.

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One of the best parts of the night was being able to spend it with my friend Michelle Hill of Polka Dot Whimsy… and what was even better was we made so many new  friends!  YAY!!!!  Hope these $5 gift ideas inspired you to stay within your budget this year!  Now hurry go look at Instagram at all the other greatness from the night!!

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Meet Us… The Creative Force That Makes bcuzuluvme

You have been following this blog for sometime now and we thank you… but we feel very Phantom of the Opera cause you don’t really know who we are and what we look like!  We want to introduce ourselves so you can get to know us a little bit better.

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Find PJ here: Instagram  &  Pintrest

PJ here… I have been married to my husband  for almost 12 years and have 4 rapidly growing children — 3 girls ages 11,9 & 4 and a 7 year old boy!   Scrapbooking is my first love when it comes to crafting but I can do/make so much more than that! My kids pretty much keep me occupied ALL the time between school, homework and all of their extra curricular activities I am always on the go!  But I wouldn’t have it any other way!  Stay tuned for more crafty projects, ideas and get to know me and my other half Tina!

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Find Tina here: Instagram & Pintrest

This is my story… short story of course.  I have been with this guy ^^^ since high school.  We have three daughters, and a beagle.  My most favorite aspect of being creative is the creative people you meet!  I go to Disneyland weekly.  I visit Starbucks daily.  I think about my family every second of the day.  Their is so much more to know about me… but you’ll just have to keep checking in on the blog to find out all the details!

Now that you know what we look like.. if you see me at Disneyland say HI!!!!  If you see me at Starbucks I’ll treat you to a cup of coffee!!! Promise.

Pintrest Pinners Expo & Conference

This can easily turn into a 3 part blog post, I enjoyed myself that much.

This past Friday I had the pleasure of attending the first Pinners Conference & Expo in Utah.

I arrived a tad bit early because I wanted to ensure the extra goody bag they were handing out to the first 250 people.  I was second in line.  Mission accomplished.

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Your entrance fee included unlimited classes.  I had a field day picking mine.

First up was “Instagram Marketing” by Freshly Picked’s Susan Petersen

I learned some great Instagram marketing tips, new strategies, and most importantly had fun.

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Next up was a class on helping me make delicious fast and easy dinners.

Just Family Dinners by Six Sisters Camille & Stephanie

They are amazing!  6 super cute sisters that know how to cook.  Visit their website Six Sister Stuff and revamp your weekly menu.

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3rd class for the day I needed badly….

 “Makeups Common Do’s & Don’ts” by Maskcara’s Cara Brook

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Cara showed us how to highlight and contour, how to fix our eyebrows, the right foundation coverage, and my name was chosen as a make up model for guess what???  How to cover up dark circles!!!  I was like YES!!!!  I have those and need to learn how to cover it up!  Was a great class and I am looking forward to ordering some of her own make up line.

Next class was “From Pinterest to Home” by Kimberly Moore

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I learned so much from this class.  She broke it down into small steps that I can do over time.  I don’t need to worry about spending $1000 on every room.  She gave perfectly clear examples with pictures, and even gave us contacts to her favorite stores.  She was heaven-sent.  Loved her presentation.  Visit her blog for some visual eye candy.

My next class was “Color Magic Paper Crafting” by Heidi Swapp

Believe it or not I have not played with Color Shine until then!  I figured why not take the class from the master herself!!

One of my favorite parts of the expo was the fact that even if you didn’t registered for the class you could wait in the Stand by Line for a seat.  What a great idea that was.

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I saved the best class for the end of the day.  “Subway Art Ornaments” by Hazel and Ruby

They have these reuseable stencils that are just magical!  In this class we made ornaments.  In like 20 minutes.  Just awesome.

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Lindsay and I go way back in the crafting industry!  We have been friends since his SEI days, I even taught classes for him when he was with Cosmo Cricket.  He now has his own company he started with his friend Jayme.  They are genius and I cannot wait to see what else they have in store for us!  In true Lindsay fashion he sent me home with Hazel & Ruby stencils… so expect some magical projects.

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I loved the whole expo experience.  In between classes I walked the floor and I was impressed with the variety of vendors they had.  I cannot wait until the next one.. I will be first (or second) in line.  If you want to see everyone’s pictures on Instagram just look up the hashtag  #pinners.  We were all encouraged to use that hashtag.

Thanks Pinners Conference & Expo job well done!

How to take great Halloween Pictures

Some of the most treasured pictures of my kids are of them in their Halloween costumes.  Their is so much color not only in their costumes but during the fall season surroundings.

As parents we know our children’s’ limits and how long we have them in a good mood before total breakdown.  So we have to act fast.  Find a pumpkin patch with pumpkins… sounds odd but when they start to have rides and bounce houses forget it, basically you already lost them to the bouncy house!

Late afternoon early evening is prime time for the most gorgeous light ever!  Waiting for the right time of day will result in the perfect pictures.  No shadows, no squinting of the eyes, no washed out pictures. If you have the perfect light you will have no reason to use your flash… so turn it off.

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Find a good little spot and let them explore. You want those candid pictures.

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If you don’t have access to the perfect pumpkin patch, take you little one somewhere their costumes will stand out.

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Somewhere they can act out their character.

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Look for a cute store front set up.

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Your own house!!

If you want to have a little fun with your Halloween pictures visit a website called PicMonkey. I edit my own photos in Photoshop, but with a push of a button PicMonkey can be your best friend.

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Your best chance of getting a great group shot is seconds before you let them go trick or treating.  They will do anything to hurry and get going.  I always say ” The faster everyone smiles the faster we can go get candy!”  works like a charm!!

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Good luck this year capturing those smiles!

We have been to Expo and back…

Yes, that is right.   We have survived crops, shopping, working, friends, sales, make n’ takes, classes, and have lived to tell the tale.

As usual PJ finds the deals… she always manages to buy her albums at the Expo for the year (for practically nothing!).

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You do notice her other hand is holding shopping bags as well… more deals!

I was in the Mon Ami Gabby booth working.  I had a steady stream of readers, followers, and friends come through the booth for their selfies!!!!

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It was a great weekend, and I was so glad to run into everybody!  If their is an Expo in your city GO to it!!  You will be missing out if you don’t!

Vicky Johnston A Bcuzuluvme Spotlight

We are so excited to be highlighting Crafty Sensation Vicky Johnston.  We can’t wait for you to get to know her a little better.  Come tour her craft space with us and look at all her amazing projects.  It’s ok to be jealous… we were.

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What do you do to become inspired to create? Listen to music? Look at blogs? Read a magazine?  I truly am inspired by everything around me… I usually wake up and decide to try to make a project a day. Whether it’s a card or scrapbook page etc. I usually turn on my tv and begin to watch my shows that I either have recorded or regular morning shows. Then I look at my latest pictures and decide what colors I would like to use and then the idea comes to life. I also am barely starting to become obsessed with you tube so I watch all of my subscriptions regularly and try to work on a new card fold or a technique etc. It is super fun and inspiring in every way for me.

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We notice you are such a fashionista! What are some of your favorite designers? Favorite stores to shop at?  I have always loved fashion when I was younger I dreamed of becoming a designer and actually won best dressed for my highschool senior year. That was super cool!! I love love clothes and enjoy shopping everywhere. There isn’t a particular place that I enjoy best. I love to wear dresses the best. I am such a sucker for a gorgeous dress and will not stop thinking about it until I can go back and get it. LOL. My favorite designer would be BETSEY JOHNSON because i love her whimsical style and how colorful and fun it is. I hope to be an eccentric older woman with huge jewelry and tutu’s still crafting away. Just kidding but seriously!!

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You are a Stampin’ Up Demonstrator, tell us a little bit how you got started and why you picked this company?  I am a Stampin Up demonstrator and decided to become one because I love to make cards and stamp. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and I loved to color in such beautiful stamps. I also really wanted to go to convention in Utah. Let me tell you it was so worth everything!! I love this company so much the product is fabulous and I have met so many beautiful women who also enjoy stamping and I love meeting cool people and that’s what this company allows me to do.

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Name one craft tool you cannot live without.  The craft tool that I cannot live without would have to be my Cricut because I love to cut titles, borders, embellishments etc. I adore it in every way!!

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Name your favorite scrapbook company ….Honestly, I really do not have a favorite company. I lead with my heart and my artsy side which is just anything that catches my eye at the moment. Sometimes it’s completely opposite in style so I guess you can say its every company.

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What was the last song you downloaded on your IPOD?  I love music so much and the last song that I downloaded on my Ipod was The Long and Winding Road by the Beatles. But let me show you how I am everywhere because on that same day I downloaded Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball. I love old and new music so much!

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Any favorite TV shows?  I love tv so much right now. There was a time when nothing really interested me, but now, there are some amazing shows!! Scandal, Nashville, Homeland, Duck Dynasty, 19 kids and counting, Ray Donovan, The View, Wendy Williams, All of the Housewives shows, The Voice, X Factor, Sons of Anarchy and my favorite favorite…MAD MEN!!

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Do you have an Instagram? Blog? Pintrest? Facebook? Youtube Channel? How can we find you?   My instagram is VICKYJOHNSTON76. My blog is www.vickyscraftywordpress.com. I have two channels on You tube. One is Vicky’s Crafty where I take videos about all of my craft endeavors. Vickyville is my channel all on my family life etc. On facebook I can be found at Victoria Valenciana Johnston. I love social media!!

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Any advice to a newbie stamper?  My advice to a newbie stampie would be to call me and come to my totally rad classes because they are a lot of fun and informative. LOL Just have fun and get with a group of caring stampers who can share their awesome wisdom with you and their stamps.

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FIll in the blank… I never leave the house without ______________________.  I never leave the house without my makeup bag and a pair of flip flops in my purse when me feet hurt from wearing my heels.

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Your snack of choice… sweet or salty??  My favorite snack would have to be salty. Any chips and dip, popcorn, humus, pita chips, trail mix, cheese and crackers and most of all ROCKSTARS AND BLACK COFFEE AND COKE ZERO!

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IIf you were granted one magical power what would it be?  If I could have one magical power it would be to make everyone just nice. No one would ever be in a bad mood because I would be able to sprinkle happy dust on them and then their bad mood would just disappear. Also, I would be able to eat anything I want and be super skinny!! LOL Just kidding!

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Any interesting tidbits we should know about you? I just love to craft in every way because it makes my creative side of me so very happy. It is my therapy and you can always tell when I am going through something because I have a million projects done. LOL:) Seriously, I just love my family and feels so blessed to meet so many awesome people who share my crafty passion.

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Didn’t you just fall in love with her?  We love that she makes a point to journal on her scrapbook pages in her own writing!  That is such a special treat these days.  We also are so impressed how many pictures she puts on each layout…. so awesome.  You need to go watch her Youtube videos, you will feel like you are right there in her house with her.  Keep your eye out on this gal, she has impressed us with her stamping  and scrapbooking talents… not to mention I want to hire her to be my personal stylist!!!   Thank  you Vicky for allowing us in your crafty life.