Friday 28 February 2014

Ikea Expedit discontinued?

Looks like Ikea's Expedit units soon will be extinct. (Insert cries from many Crafty Storers.)
Fear not, they are not stupid at IKEA. It is not only Crafty Storers that love the Expedit. They know it is one of their cult lines so they are bringing out a refreshed version, the Kallax, pictured bellow.

To me it looks pretty much the same to the old Expedit bellow:

Advantages, the thinner outside edges makes the whole unit slightly smaller all together, but maintain the essential inner cubes sizing, which is the essential thing for 12 x 12 papers and Vinyl records (yes their collectors are more worried than us crafters!)

Disadvantages, actually more questions than disadvantages. Will there be a 5 x 5 cube option? What colours will be available? 

UPDATE August 2015: Looks like all the options of the Expedit are more or less still available in Kallax, plus some more. Well done Ikea! (Not always gets it right for us Craft Storagers, but this time they have!)

This is what Ikea says:

IKEA has updated and improved the EXPEDIT shelving unit with a sleek, new design that is more durable (with a more scratch-resistant surface), more child-friendly (with rounded corners), and still fits all existing storage baskets and boxes. With this new design, IKEA is giving EXPEDIT a new name: KALLAX. KALLAX will be available to consumers in the U.S. starting this April.

So, IKEA when will be available in Europe and the rest of the world?

To see the full range of Kallax click on the appropriate country
(Just listed the countries that visit my blog):

UK | USA | D | ES | FR | CA 

Tuesday 25 February 2014

A Banner with intricate Flowers

Last year I was invited to participate in the Scrapmaniatics exhibition of scrap banners that took place during their event last summer.

Of course I had to use some of my dies for Sizzix, and the chosen ones were from the Fresh Moments collection that was released Spring last year.

Although my die collections for Sizzix have been Limited Editions, the good news is that the Intricate Flowers are now part of the core range from Sizzix, which means that this set is going to be available all year long!

I also used the Sizzix Framelits Circle Wrapper and the Instant Frames (using the negative left by die cutting two dies one inside the other).

As the base of the banner I used thick chipboard with layers of PaperArtsy's Grunge Paste through stencils or masks. Then layers of Fresco Paint and a little Treasure Gold. Love that stuff!
I learnt from Leandra and Lin Brown how important is layering both the paints and the patterns. It actually found it easier than I thought, I just followed their suggestions.

Friday 21 February 2014

Chocolate Quente XL!

Estoy super contenta de anunciar que voy a ser una de las profes en la nueva edición de Chocolate Quente XL en Porto este Abril, al lado de Teresa CollinsPatrícia Villas-Boas! Jeff de Graphic45! Que ilusión!

Estuve en la edición de 2012 y la verdad es que fue uno de los mejores eventos en los que he dado clases.  Mi clase sera impartida en español/ingles/chapurreo de portugués!

I can announce now that I will be teaching at Chocolate Quente XL event in Porto (Portugal) this coming April. I am so excited! 

Excited to be going again to Chocolate Quente XL! One of the best events I have ever taught at, it is organised by the multi talented superwoman that is Patrícia Villas-BoasTeresa Collins is going to be one of the teachers as is Patrícia Villas-Boas and Jeff de Graphic45! Can't wait!

Wednesday 19 February 2014

The Stitches 2014 Report - picture heavy post!

Stitches is the UK Craft & Hobby Trade show that takes place once a year in February at the NEC, Birmingham. I have been going to the event since 2004, so it was my 10th year anniversary at Stitches! The first two years I went as craft shop staff with the buyers for the shop. Then in 2006 I started demonstrating for Kars, a dutch distributor of many craft brands. Five years later, in 2011, I demonstrated for Sizzix and did so until last year. 

So after 8 years of working hard demonstrating at the event, I was delighted to be able to walk the show as a freelance. It was fantastic to see everyone and being able to chat and see everything without a rush. Loved it!

Of course, my first stop was Sizzix. They always have the most impressive booth at Stitches. There was a sweets chart beautifully decorated.

Each area was gorgeous and there were quite a few.

The whole stand was full of inspiration thanks to the hard work of the people above this minus me! Pete Hughes, Debi and Angela.

Among the collections, you could find quilting and the new range by Nel Whatmore.

There were quite a few samples done with the Big Shot Starter kit, the dies that I designed.

Including this beautiful one by none other than the super star that is Finnabair/Anna Davroska.

Spaeaking of Anna... She was there at the Stampbox stand demonstrating her signature line for Prima.

A few more talented people, Andy Skinner and Leonie Pujol, who was over the moon with her award from Crafts Beautiful as she was voted Favourite Demonstrator/Presenter in Crafts, and I must add, very well deserved as well. 

Naturally, PaperArtsy was on my DO NOT MISS booth. I just love their stuff. Jo Firth Young and Lin Brown (one of my long time craft crushes!) both have release a new collection that includes superb quality rubber stamps, stencils and limited edition Fresco acrylic paints.

I was lucky enough to sneak in on one of Leandra's - PaperArtsys - classes. Such a lovely project.

It's always nice to see the magazine people, including the publishers of Cardmaking & Papercraft which is the magazine I contribute to monthly.

Wow embossing powders had lovely displays, made lovingly by my mate Marion Emberson and Tania Ahmed.

Nikky Hall was there demonstrating for Premium Art Brands doing fab things with Pan Pastels, Maimeri paste and doses of fun.

One of my favourite stands was The Hobby House. I loved their metal embellishments, spools and pearl embellishments. I cant wait to get my hands on some of them.

 Other interesting stands were Craft Emotions - who distribute Sizzix so carry some of my die designs -, 3D printing and Tonic because their scissors are awesome.

And of course, Personal Impressions for who manufacture and distribute my clear stamps as well as distribute Sizzix. More importantly, the lovely Lindsay Mason was there demonstrating and I caught this quick snap of two of my best and closest friends in the industry, Lindsay and Julie Hickey.

And of course a bit of fun with friends never hurt anyone!

Although I am tired - not as much as when I demonstrated at the event - I cant wait for next year!

Friday 14 February 2014

Valentine's card using the Sizzix Big Shot Starter kit

So, this is this week's third posting, but don't get use to it! For someone who is not too keen on this day, I surely give it a lot of attention.

I thought I would share the card I made for my husband for this years Valentine's Day.
I was inspired by the frame with the scalloped hearts that I shared the other day.

I used this time the Sizzix Big Shot Starter kit die cutting the largest Heart from the Bigz die and the Framelit. As patterned papers I used Carte Postale from Basic Grey. And instead of red, I coloured the inner heart green as it is my husbands favourite colour.

Simple, muted colours that I hope Omar will like!
Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Valentine's Day Home Decor

Yesterday I shared a card and a little box done using just one set of Framelits dies - Sizzix Framelits Die Set 4PK - Hearts, Scallop #2. As I explained yesterday,  I made these projects a couple of years ago for an article for Sizzix. It was a featured called One Die many ways, which sometimes is very challenging. However, this one turned up one of my all time favourite projects.

As the base paper I used an old book pages. As they are very fragile and I intended to spray them, I sprayed Craft Mount to a piece of off white smooth card covered in the old book pages, then repeat the same on the back, die cut and then spray. This extra step will make the hearts last the spraying and the hanging

Walking back from the doctors I found this branch on the sidewalk and thought that will come in handy one day. Indeed it was for this project. I used a silver thin thread to attach them together. To colour the dies I used Dylusions sprays. Here I used Postbox Red, Lemon Zest, Fresh Lime, Squeezed Orange.

This was my favourite project from the set. Using the largest die, one medium one and the smallest, die cut them all out of book pages and coloured only the smallest. I folded them and glue them to each other on the spine. The pearl is one of the Tim Holtz Baubles. The paper is Basic Grey.

I hope you like them.
Happy Valentine's Day for friday!

Tuesday 11 February 2014

Valentine's Day - hit or miss

I have never been keen on Valentine's Day. In Spain there was no victorian tradition, it is a rather tacky commercial event. But once I overlooked my preconceptions about Valentine's Day, I am quite happy to received flowers or chocolates!

Using just one set of Framelits dies - Sizzix Framelits Die Set 4PK - Hearts, Scallop #2 - I made these projects a couple of years ago for an article for Sizzix. It was a featured called One Die many ways, which sometimes is very challenging. However, this one was one of my all time favourite projects.

A fairly simple card, using the largest and the smallest heart die. To colour the dies I used Dylusions sprays, which are one of my favourites as I just love the colours, so bright and they work really well mixing them up.

With hearts you can always make 3D roses. I added some gold shimmer spray.

Monday 3 February 2014

Why I have been able to loose weight

Earlier today I shared a little of my weight loss journey about why it happened. Now I am sharing the five reasons on what I have done it and why I have succeeded. (From more determinant to least.)

1. Accountability 
I am a deadline person. Give me a deadline and I will deliver, give me all the time in the world and I will never do it. This is why having monitoring appointments with the specialist has made my weight loss possible. He is like this funny grumpy old respectable teacher that you both love and fear and that you do not want to disappoint. He gave the orders to maintain a food diary in which to write everything that I ate, which I did. It made certain decisions on whether to eat something or not much more simple.
I know that without this one single reason I would have not lost a single gram. Because I was well aware all the other reasons bellow  before I step inside his room. 
2. Affinity with the diet guidelines
This may not seem that important, but for me it was. You see if you are going to be dieting long term - to me anything more than a week feels like longterm dieting! - you need to feel that you are going to be able to eat/do things that you really enjoy even if they are in moderation and/or small portions.  
If someone had told me you can't eat any type of bread or starchy carbs at all, as well as not being able to eat any chocolate, cheese, seafood (high cholesterol!)... until you reach your target, I would have not been able to do it. I needed a well balanced diet that allowed me to look forward when I would be able to indulge. All with good measure and 
The diet guidelines were simple enough: a low fat 1000 calories a day: 

  • 4 small servings of starchy carbs - of varying sizes depending on their calories/sugar content, ideally wholegrain; 

  • 3 pieces of fruit; 

  • two weight restricted protein servings; 

  • as much vegetables as I wanted. 

  • Cheat foods one portion every 15 days of one of the following: chocolate, cheese, prawns or other shell seafood or avocado. (I hate avocado so no worries there!, but choosing between the other three was hard.)
I always have loved raw carrots and salads, so I always have bags of carrot batons and salad ready in the bridge. I kept the cooking as simple as possible, thinking about ways of cooking things may work for some but for me makes me want more the stuff I cant have. Simple and quick works for me, the less time dedicated to food, the less it is important.
The same with exercise. I hate gyms, I hate swimming, I hate running and walking. What I like is dancing. So Zumba looked like a good idea. And it was, I love it. I was lucky that I found a local instructor - Leean Lok - who not only is very good at it but also is a lovely encouraging woman. Even more lucky was to have a friend - the lovely Sarah Mcgrath - who also wanted to do it and together it was so much easier those first few weeks of Zumba.  Thank you Sarah!
The point is that I felt I could follow the rules because they seemed to fit me and that helped enormously. I am not saying that the diet I follow will  suit you or anyone else for that matter. It suits me and that is why I succeeded. My recommendation is to find a weight loss program that you like the idea of, that it sounds like you will be able to do it long term. Chances are you are going to succeed too.
3. Trust in the guidelines
We live in a day and age when the media is constantly giving us mixed information about which is the best/fastest/most healthiest way to loose weight. I am a perfectionist by all accounts, if I am going to spend my money I want the best for my buck. If I am going to diet, I really want to make sure it is a proven program and that I am going to actually loose weight healthily
Having a professor of endocrinology - recommended by a friend of ours - as my specialist, made me trust his guidelines. My husband laughs about it - "Did you have to go to the best endocrinologist in London to tell you you need to loose weight to actually do something about it?"
The truth is that no, I did not needed him to tell me that I needed to do it, but I needed him to tell how in detail. I trusted his opinion above all other information given by the media or friends (Sorry!). No matter what people told me ("Your body is going to go into starvation mode", "It's an old fashioned system", "Avoid all sugar rather than fat"...) I focused on what the specialist had told me. 
I found this app called myfitnesspal which has been a great help in order to track calories, sugar, fat... I have it installed on my phone, ipad and computer (website) and with is is easier to maintain the focus.
For the first 4 weeks I did not have scales at home. I did not want them. I thought they may have been depressing. Once I knew at one of my check ins that I was loosing weight, I bought myself one and weighted myself first thing every morning. Some days are good and some days are depressing. But the thing is week by week the weight came off and the focus and perseverance in the guidelines continued. 
 4. Health
That is the reason why I first went to the specialist. I wanted to get better. The fact that he was quite insistent on the fact that weight loss would help me get there meant that loosing fat brought me closer to health. 
After months of dieting, I feel slightly better, unfortunately I don't feel that much better. Though, I do hope that with time and close monitoring of all my issues I will get much stronger and feel better.
5. Apperance
Yes, the old one. The reason that everyone uses to advertise weight loss programs and the one that most people start dieting: to look good. Funnily I think is the least important reason that made me loose weight. If it had been, I would have never let it get this bad before I started. I was not blind nor delusional. 
As I said before, women are rarely happy with their weight and how they look. I am happier about that now than I was four months ago, but I am not completely happy. Of course.  
However, starting to get compliments from friends and family and it helps your moral, focus and perseverance. So, to see the appearance improving is also very helpful and should not be tossed aside as just vanity. 

Anyway, these are the reason why I believe I succeeded. It was not because I have a strong will - because I don't - for me it was down to Accountability, Affinity, Trust, Health and Appearance.

A quite personal post: my weight loss journey so far

13 kilos, just over 2 stone.

Like many women, I have a struggle with my weight. Actually, I should say like 99% of the women in the western world, as no one ever seems to be happy with theirs even when it is pretty perfect. 
I remember feeling fat since my preteens even though I was rather skinny until I turned 20, but with my height ( I am just over 5 ft tall! Tiny!) and my bone structure (proportionally big) I was never happy.
Since my early twenties I started to put weight, not too much and gradually. Then when I hit 28 I started to put a lot of weight very fast. I knew that, I wasn't blind or oblivious to the fact, but I also did not care much. I have never been someone with a strong will power, I knew I needed to loose weight but could not actually make myself do it. I hate exercise and I love my fatty and unhealthy food, and tasty food has always made me happy.

At the end of 2011 I started to feel unwell, getting extremely tired, with excruciating joint pains... and my weight kept piling on. My GP diagnosed me with some mild hormonal issues and sent me on my merry way, but all my health issues kept worsening, so much so that I started to question if I could do my full time job at the time at Sizzix. Finally, in late 2012 I felt had to leave the full time dream job at Sizzix because I personally felt my body was letting me down. It was probably the hardest decision I had to take professionally as I loved working for the European division of Sizzix, from my my boss, to my wonderful colleagues - specially Pete Hughes - to the products... It really was a dream job for me. But I needed to get better and not being a good multitasker, I knew I wanted to concentrate in getting better.

And that was what 2013 was all about. It took me over a year and a half to get my GP to refer me to the specialist, an endocrinologist. But I am so glad I persisted on my quest because a couple of visits and tests after, the endocrinologist had diagnosed me with some strong deficiencies and further mild hormonal imbalances that have no serious consequences but that can be monitored and helped a bit. The main way to help them is to loose weight.

At the end of September 2012, the specialist gave a simple system to diet, exercise rules (minimum 2 hrs of cardio a week), and periodic check ups in which my weight and blood levels would be checked.

The weight started to come off. And today I have reached my initial weight loss goal which looked so far away and impossible to reach when I started this journey.

13 kilos, just over 2 stone.

Later I am going to post about the five reasons why I think I have succeeded in reaching my weight loss target.

My friends and family think I should be very proud of myself, and in a way, I am. But it has been very hard, and still is, and it will be always hard to make those healthy choices I will have to make everyday.

13 kilos, just over 2 stone.

Ps. I am still part of the Sizzix team on a freelance basis, I love the company and people so very much and they have been awesome to me. And I am happy to say that there are more projects with them in the pipeline! I just couldn't do it full time and they were very understanding and supporting.

Saturday 1 February 2014

Adhesives 101

Some people in the craft industry know of my obsessive love for adhesives, which is surprising for some and understanding for others. Last count, I had over eighty different types of adhesives in my studio. In many of my posts in this or other blogs I made references on what it will be the best glue for the project, but I rarely elaborate on why or on which are my favourite brands and why.

Well, today I decided to put that right and start posting in 2014 going through one of the most important elements of papercrafting in my opinion: my favourite adhesives.

(Click on the images for direct link to either manufacturers sites or shops that stock it)

The first thing we need to discuss is Hold and Bond:
  • Grab - or instant hold - refers to the ability of the glue to grab the items and it is graded by fastness, how quickly the glue attaches the items together. Basically, short term.

  • Bond is how strong and durable the attachment is going to be. Basically, long term.
Some adhesives have a strong  grab but long term - could be days, months or years - will become unattached due to a lack of bond.

Most of the following products have no-brand alternatives, while they may be cheaper they will also be less consistent in their quality. But I don't recommend that, would you like the recipient of your card to have to assemble the elements of it upon arrival? I dont, that is why I like to use the better quality adhesives.


They are mess free, easy to use, offer instant grab, but not strong bond even the strongest of tapes will always be bellow the wet glues in long term bond. However, for paper crafting 90% of the time they are strong enough and that fast grab action means makes everything much easier.

Stix2 Foam Pads. We all use foam pads, but like in almost everything else, there are qualities. I don't use any other foam pads, these are the best - I know I have tried 99.99% of the rest. Stix2 are super quality and they come in all sorts of sizes and thicknesses. I have a little post beside my front door saying that the bell does not ring, it is hold by a Stix2 pad, it has been there for over 3 years.

Tape pen. Instead of double sided tape, I use tape pens which are much dater to use and create less mess (backing). Easy to store, easy to use, perfect to attach ribbon to card! I use primarily the Stix2 ones, but I also use other brands.
Stix2 Glue Dots. Again I have used many brands, and seem to like the Stix2 the best, specially the smaller ones which from other manufacturers don't seem to work, but from Stix2 always do. I go for the value box.

Stix2 Double Sided Fingerlift Tape, in a variety of widths. It is the most economical of all types and hence many people choice. I like the fingerlift one because makes the whole removal of backing so much easier. 

Stix2 Ultra Clear Tape - in several widths. The strongest double sided tape ever! Heat resistant ideal for embossing. High tack, instant, clear adhesive. There are a multitude of uses and I try to keep a variety of widths in my studio. 
Stix2 Double Sided A4 Adhesive Sheets. Perfect for die cutting and many other things including guilding, glitters... They are clear so there are a lot of technique that work really well with acetate.

3M Scotch Removable Tape. I have been using this tape since 2003. I always make sure I have one extra. It is the only low tack tape that I trust to secure dies in place when I die cut, the only one that has never rip my paper but at the same time maintained temporarily the item in place.


Many crafters have a difficult relationship with wet glues, I certainly did for many years. It is challenging working with paper and a wet medium. Wrinkles, bubbles, spills... But use the right wet glue, right applicator and right amount - less is more - and the bond you will get with wet glue will be the best and will remained glued the longest, which is very important when spending time and effort making projects!

Cosmic Shimmer Acrylic Glue. I have been a late convert to this glue, but since I bought it about a year ago, I haven't used any other wet white glue for papercrafting. It dries clear, grabs really quickly and has a very strong bond for a multitude of materials. I use one of the fine tips on the bottle (dont even bother to decant the glue) and works wonders. Remember less is more when it comes to wet glues.

Collall Glue Gel Kit - with Syringe and Dispensing Key. I use it to add height to elements which would not be glued using a foam pad. I prefer this brand to the other well known one because I find that the grabbing power is faster and dries more clear.

Ranger  Studio MultiMedium and Glue and Seal in matte. They are slightly different but I use them both for collage and sealing. They are something I don't use everyday, but that I like to have at hand as they are very good for mixed media projects. (Check Shari Carrol's explanation of mediums, Mod Podge here.)

Tear Mender. A fantastic instant fabric and leather adhesive. Water-proof, permanent, quick drying and flexible. The only drawback is the fact that smells pretty rotten.


Cold Melt Glue Gun. So useful for Home Decor and attaching difficult materials that require instant bonding. I prefer cold melt for a variety of reasons, non the least because being myself a clumsy person I rather not burn myself. The trade off is slightly less strong hold but the difference is minimal for the type of projects I do.

Craft Mount Spray Adhesive. The strongest, more reliable spray adhesive I have tried. It comes in two sizes, although the larger one is better value I tend to buy the smaller 200ml size, easier to handle and still lasts a long time. I use it to attach material to card, paper to thicker card, mountboard... specially hen I have to die cut those combinations afterwards.

For archival projects I will use Photo Mount - which is more expensive - and for resticking cutting machine mats I use the Re Mount (Green) which is repositionable.

Heat'n Bond - Lite or Ultra. I am no sewing expert but I love the effect of material on my papercraft and Home Decor projects, and the one products that makes it much easy is this one. Unlike most fabric fusibles, these are solid sheets of heat reactive glue, perfect to die cut with minimal shredding (like one or two) as well as to join two fabrics together. I use mostly the Ultra one (Red) as I rarely sew, but when I intend to I use the Lite version (Purple). It also comes in different sizes, by the metre and packs, so it is easy to buy a tester.

Well done if you have reach this point. Remember, there is no perfect glue, just a variety that will work well for you and your project. These are just my favourites.

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