A Well Crafted Retirement

"Retire from work, but not from life." -M.K. Soni

The card for this class

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Using and Uploading SVGs with Your Cricut Explore

In the course of working with crafters in the first two JoAnn Cricut classes, the subject of SVGs has come up every time.  So together with Laurie Carlson, the Education Coordinator at the Loveland store, we have developed a “Local Interest” Class!  Since this is a local offering you need to contact the Loveland store to sign up.

Purpose of this class:

  • Learn how to locate and purchase SVGs online.
  • Learn how to download SVGs.
  • Learn how to upload SVGs into Design Space.

I am primarily a paper crafter so I chose the set Summer Box Cards from my favorite designer, Mary, at svgcuts.com.

The full set of "Summer Box Cards"

The full set of “Summer Box Cards”

This set contains five different box cards that can be adapted for lots of occasions by the types of papers you choose and the sentiments you stamp or print on them.  It also has some “blank card bases”  that allow you to design custom box cards using any images you want.  The class project will be the “Party Box Card” from this set.

You can buy this set ahead of time and download it onto your computer at home.  Just be sure you know where the download is stored on your computer and that you bring that computer to class.  If you want to wait until class to make your purchase, be sure to bring your credit card with you.  I tried this a few weeks ago and it worked.

The methods for searching, downloading, and uploading are the same for any SVG.  Even if you’re not a paper crafter this card is fun and surprisingly easy to put together and is really impressive to receive.

The card for this class

The card for this class

Supply List:

Must Haves:

  • card stock (note: if you use scrapbook paper, it will not support the weight of the card)
  • glue (I recommend Scotch Quick-Drying Tacky Glue)
  • Cricut tools
  • cutting mat
  • pen that fits in your accessory clamp, not too thick a point, the writing is small
  • your Cricut
  • your computer

Fun to Use, but not Required:

  • baker’s twine
  • pop dots or foam squares
  • thin ribbon or small pre-made bows
  • ink pad for shading edges of cuts
  • embellishments




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Robot Birthday Card

I bought the Cicut Explore several weeks ago and I am experiencing a pretty steep learning curve with the Design Space software.  I think part of the problem lies in the fact that I never used The Craft Room with my Expression 2 so before I can learn some of the features of the new machine I first have to feel comfortable with the concept of designing on line.  Here is an easel card I made for our nephew.  I have attempted to create a template for the card base, but I am still having some trouble the placement of the score line.

Images:Robot Birthday Card

  • Robot from Wrap-It-Up
  • Cake from Stamping
  • Rectangle a notecard from Cricut Craft Room Basics
  • Cloud a notecard from Cricut Craft Room Basics
  • “Cake” Impact font

Cuttle Bug:

  • Darice Swirl Background
  • Darice Diagonal Stripe Background

Additional Supplies:

  • tape runner
  • craft glue
  • “Happy Birthday” stamp for inside of card
  • small piece of foam core to place under “Cake ?”

Here are two screen shots from my Design Space to help with the sizing of the cuts. The one of the card base is still a work in progress.

Elements of the card.

Elements of the card.


Easel Card base...in progress

Easel Card base…in progress


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“Thanks a Ton” Card

This week Clay needed a thank you card for the family of one of the students he tutors.  I like the elephant cut from Everyday Pop Up Cards so that’s what I got out.

Thanks a Ton CardCartridge Used:

  • Everyday Pop Up Cards

Cut Sizes in Inches:

  • Elephant @ 4.0
  • “Thanks a Ton” @ 4.0

Additional Supplies:

  • tape runner
  • craft glue
  • a corner rounding punch

I found a print with old time circus ads and ticket strips in The Great Rock Island Route paper stack by the Paper Studio.  I cut a 5 x 6.5 inch rectangle from the print.  I then cut a 4 x 5 rectangle in red and a 4.5 x 5.5 in gold.  I used the punch to round the corners of the gold paper.  The print had these cute little tickets  that I cut by hand to embellish the left hand edge.  Using some tan and a copper foil paper from my scraps I cut the elephant and attached it to the gold paper.

InsideI scored the gold paper 0.5 inches from the left edge so that it would open outward.  The phrase “Thanks a Ton” went on the inside of the card.  The tickets act as the hinges to open the card.

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Garden Gate Sign

Many years ago when we were visiting family in the Toronto area, I noticed many homes had named their properties and gardens. These names were displayed on neat signs posted on fences and garden gates.  When we got home I named our property Gladville Gardens with a wooden hand lettered sign.

Gladville GardensAfter 15 plus years of Chicago weather, last year I replaced the original sign with a new one.  This time I used adhesive backed vinyl, spray paint and my Cricut.  I liked the crisp edges of the lettering and the fresh white and green colors.  This spring a wooden planter box next to the other garden gate had clearly seen better days so I decided to replace it with a sign rather than another flower box.


  • Walnut Hollow Sign 8.25 x 18.5 inches
  • Self adhesive vinyl
  • Masking tape
  • Exacto knife
  • Old news papers
  • Sanding block


  • Rustoleum 2x Ultra Cover Satin Moss Green
  • Rustoleum 2x Ultra Cover Satin Straw Flower
  • Rustoeum 2x Ultra Cover Satin Blossom White
  • Folk Art  Autumn Leaves

Cricut Cartridges:

  • Cricut Alphabet
  • Walk in my Garden
  • Winter Wonderland

Cut Sizes in Inches:

  • “Time” @ 2.0 (Cricut Alphabet)
  • “began in a ” @ 1.5
  • “Garden” @ 2.75 (Winter Wonderland)
  • Cone flower @ 3.0 (Walk in my Garden)
  • Daisy 2 @ 3.0 and 1.75
  • Leaf 3 @ 1.o

I started by lightly sanding the rough spots on the wood and gave both sides two coats of white spray paint.  I waited two days before applying any vinyl to the sign to be sure the paint was very dry and the vinyl wouldn’t pull off any paint as I peeled it away.  I have the Expression 2 machine and I have had good luck cutting vinyl with the “kiss cut” setting.   The sharp hook that came with one of my tool kits works very well to remove the actual letters from the backing sheet.  I use regular masking tape to help transfer the vinyl.   Pressing it on the carpet to pick up some fibers prevents it from being too sticky.

Once the letters are in place the rest of the sign’s surface has to be covered.  For this I use masking tape or scrap vinyl.  An exact0  knife trims the vinyl from the routed edges so that the sign is “framed” in the same color as the letters.

With flowersFor the flowers I positioned the cut vinyl being careful not to to expose any lettering in the openings.  Again I used scrap vinyl and masking to cover the rest of the sign.  Since I do not want to spray paint the edges I tape newspaper to the edges of the wood and tuck it under to protect the green frame as I spray the yellow flowers. At this point I thought I should have some green leaves.  It would have been easier to have done them at the same time as the lettering since I wanted to use the same green.  To achieve the look that some of the leaves were behind the flowers, I had to carefully mask part of the yellow petals to avoid them being covered in green.  Again I taped,vinyl and tucked newspaper around the edges.


Rather than go to the Cricut layers to add details to the flowers and buy another can of spray paint to cover just a few square inches of sign I used my acrylic paints and brushes to add the final touches to the flowers.  In the past I had trouble using the vinyl as a stencil for the acrylic.  When I removed the vinyl it pulled some of the acrylic paint away. Now when we repair the fence behind the old flower box we can hang the new sign!

Gaden Gate Sign

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Card Gallery

I received my Cricut a year and a half ago and for my first project made the card suggested in the Walk in my Garden Cartridge.  I only started blogging three months ago.  Many of the cards I made I photographed but didn’t keep records of the cut sizes.  I do remember what cartridges I used for the main cuts.

Birthday Cards:



 Get Well Cards:

Special Occasions:

 Two Versions of One Design:

A Sympathy Card:

I hope to share more cards as I go along.














Wedding Stepping Stone


This past January a dear friend told us she was to be married this May.  I was excited for the both of them and flattered when they asked to use our back yard as the ceremony site.

Card frontBack in January we had no idea yet that were at the start of Chicago’s worst winter in the record books.  I sent them this card and settled down to wait for spring daffodils and tulips to come up.  When they came over to look at the yard three weeks before the wedding the ground was still frozen if you dug down 4 inches and there was still a patch of snow on the North side of the house!  But in true midwest fashion spring came on fast and we did see those flowers blooming on the big day.
I made this mosaic stepping stone to mark the spot on the lawn where the ceremony took place and they have it as a memento of the day.  I used the Cricut cartridge Straight from the Nest for the design.  I combined two designs to make the final drawing.  I made 6 similar stones for our garden
last spring and they survived the winter.

Finished stoneSupplies:

  • 12 x 12 beveled cement paver (Home Depot)
  • stained glass
  • sheet of glass wall tiles
  • Sanded grout with polymer
  • Clear 100% silicone adhesive (Liquid Nails)
  • Grout and tile sealer (TILELab)
  • Rubbing alcohol


  • Glass tile nipper
  • Glass cutting tool
  • Kitchen rubber spatula
  • Small cello sponge
  • Safety glasses
  • Vinyl or latex disposable gloves
  • Soft leather or rubber coated cotton gardening gloves
  • Small hammer or mallet

I start by cleaning my cement paver to remove dust and loose concrete.  I used scrap card stock and my Cricut to cut the designs and transferred them to the stone with a Sharpie.  A lot of my glass supply is left over from my Dad’s stained glass projects.  I discovered that the local stained glass supply store sold their scraps by the pound. I had to search through the boxes for the colors I wanted and it came in all sizes and random shapes.  When they closed the store late in the summer the prices were even lower and I stocked up on colors I liked.

I am no expert on cutting glass, in fact it scares me a little.  I duct tape all the edges and open inside flaps of a low sided shipping box and line it with several layers of newspaper.  I cut and nip the glass inside this box to avoid spreading slivers of glass.  The larger pieces I pad with even more paper in the box and strike with a hammer to break into smaller pieces.  Wear safety glasses and use rubber coated or leather gloves.  Take glass slivers very seriously.  A trip to the emergency room with an infected glass sliver is the hard way to lean this!

I start with the main parts of the design first and finish with the background.  It’s a lot like doing a puzzle except you cut the pieces to make them fit!  When I use the silicone glue I am careful not to leave thick build up in the spaces between the glass so there is room for the grout.  A wooden skewer is good for this.  A “frame” of square glass tiles makes a nice finish to the piece.

MistakeMost clear glass works fine on the stone, although the color can change.  I had a dark purple that looked black when glued to the stone.  I did learn from this project not to use clear glass over the dark black sharpie line.  I had to pry up a piece, remove the glue and sand away the black ink before replacing the piece.

Allow the adhesive to  dry before grouting. Rubbing alcohol works to remove the silicone from the surface of the glass.  The sand in the grout  seems to scrub away some of the excess but if the glue is too thick I clean first.  Follow the directions on the grout package.  I use a rubber spatula kept for this purpose only as a “float” because the work surface is too small for a tile float.  My last step is to put two coats of grout sealer on the stone to protect it from the weather.

Backyard Mosaic by Connie Sheerin is a helpful reference.