A Well Crafted Retirement

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


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.



Speedy Recovery Card

An old friend of ours is doing in-house rehab after a long illness.  So I’m sending him this card.  He grew up in the 50’s and loves classic cars so I thought this would suit him. The front of the card

Cartridge Used:

  • Give a Hoot
  • Nifty Fifties
  • Every Day Pop Up Cards
  • Plantin Schoolbook

Cut Sizes in Inches:

  • Gas Pump @ 3.0 (Nifty Fifties)
  • Car 1 @ 2.0 ( Nifty Fifties)
  • SpeedyRecovery @ 1.5 (Every Day Pop Up Cards)
  • Border page 46 @ 1.25 ( Give a Hoot)
The inside of the card.

The inside of the card.

Cuttle Bug:

  • Darice Simple Border

Additional Supplies:

  • tape runner
  • craft glue
  • a black Sharpie pen
  • a silver gel pen
  • a corner rounding punch

I used a paper cutter to cut the card at 6.5 x 10 from Cloud9Design double sided card stock.  The other papers I found in my scrap box to coordinate with the blue, green and cream stripes.  The dark blue rectangle  is 2.5 x 4 with the corners rounded.  The light blue horizontal stripe is 1 x 6.5 and embossed with the Cuttlebug to give the checkerboard design.  The copper stripe is .25 x 6.5.

When I cut the gas pump I found the tiny letters and silver details were to small to handle.  I used the very fine point of the Sharpie pen for the word “gas” and the silver gel pen for the hose details.  The green border I thought had a nice 1950’s vibe, but it was either too tall or not long enough.  The cut at 1.25 worked when I made two and covered the seam with the gas pump.

I cut the phrase in the dark blue and its shadow in the striped paper with the stripes running horizontally to mimic the lettering.  For the convertible I use red, light blue and white with the black bottom layer.  I cut the pop-up strip .25 x 5.5 and folded it at the 1 in., 1.5 in., 1 in., 1.5in. and .5 marks.  The method is the same as I used in the Baby Shower Card.  With all the pieces ready and the envelope cut from cream paper I assembled the card.


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Spring Bell Jars

Over the last few months I’ve found two nice sized bell jars.  I’ve seen a lot of beautiful centerpieces using them on Pinterest so I decided  to put three together for a spring grouping on my dining room table.

Spring Bell JarsI had several small spring items from other years that I gathered up.  I purchased a bag of preserved moss and a small wire candle wreath from JoAnn.  As I looked for items I payed attention to repeating colors.  The yellow bird in the nest, the yellow buds on the candle wreath and the yellow eggs help tie the three piece in a sense of relationship to each other.  The same is true with the pinks and greens.


  • Bell jars
  • Plates to set them on
  • Preserved moss
  • Spring items that will fit in the jars
  • scissors
  • sticky tack


I used clear glass plates from the dollar store as the bases for my bell jars.  I pulled the preserved moss apart and arranged it on my first plate.  I centered the bird’s nest with its’ bird and small flowers on the moss.  To keep it level I added more moss under the low spots on the bottom of the nest.  I had a few pussy willow tips that I cut to fit under the jar.  These I was able to stick into the nest without additional support because the nest worked a little like a flower frog and the sides of the jar keep them upright.  To keep the jar from slipping around on the plate I used a small piece of sticky tack along the rim in a few places.

For the second jar I again started with a bed of moss.  I used a small wooden birdhouse from my Stand Up Birds project and the candle wreath.  I bent the branches of the wreath upwards to fill in the space at the top of the jar but was careful not to cover the opening of the bird house.  Again a little sticky tack along the rim and I was done.

The third jar is egg shaped.  I bought it years ago and have used it for various things but what could be better than eggs!  My daughter Beth and I made paint-  and wax-decorated blown eggs many years ago.  I put a little moss on the bottom of the jar and arranged the eggs inside.  Done.


I think I like these jars because they spotlight small items that otherwise can go unnoticed.  The whole project took less than an hour including the time spent locating the various items that I used.


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Door Sign

Katie mentioned that when she took her Christmas wreath down their apartment door looked pretty dull.  I’ve had a few ideas for a craft project for her but when I ran across the pieces of a lightweight picture frame this week I deceided on a door sign.

Door SignHer apartment is neutral colored with dark wood trim and wood floors.  For a punch of color she has two bright turquoise area rugs and has added aqua accents.  So that determined my color choices.  I used Coordinations canvas texture and DCWV Blue Stained Glass.


  • Hoot ‘n’ Holler
  • Wrap it Up
  • Cricut Alphabet

Cut Sizes in Inches:

  • Owl Family @ 2.5 (Hoot ‘n; Holler)
  • Castle @ 3.75 (Wrap it Up)
  • R Place @ 2.0 (Crcut Alphabet)
  • Katie nd Dustin @ 1.5 ( Cricut Alphabet)

Cuttlebug Folders:

  • Cane Back Chair
  • Swiss Dots
  • Woodgrain

Additional Supplies:

  • a tape runer
  • craft glue like Aleene’s sMax Tacky Adhesive

The size I needed for the frame was 12 x 15.  I started with a full sheet of the 12 x 12 patterned paper.  I cut a 3.75 inch strip of the darker aqua and overlapped it on top of the print and used a glue runner to hold it n place.  To hide the seam  I found a pearly aqua paper in my scraps, cut it at 1 inch and embossed it with the Cane Back Chair border folder.  The brown  is a 9 inch square and the light aqua square is 8 inches.

I used the shadow feature with both sizes of letters.  To add more texture I embossed the brown letters with the Woodgrain folder.  The paper I used for the shadow on their names is a foil I found in a stack.  I discovered that if I used white glue to attach the letters to the shadow it came apart after drying!  So I did it again with Aleene’s.

The first layer of the castle is embossed with the Swiss Dots folder and the top layer I cut twice, once in the pearl and once in the foil and used the pearl for the front and the foil for the flag and tower tops.  The owl cut is for a family but since there are only the two of them I snipped the small owl off the branch.

Every thing went together with the glue runner.  This was a pretty simple project.  I think it will brighten up their door and hallway.


Stand Up Birds

Pinterest is full of spring projects right now.  I really like the scenes inside bell jars and I am going to put a few together for Easter and beyond.  While looking for elements to use I found three small wooden birdhouses from JoAnn’s that I’ve had for a while.

BirdhousesInstead of painting these, I decided to use small print scrapbook paper and modge podge to give them an wallpaper look. They were a little tricky to do, but I was pleased with the results.  When I was done I remembered a project I’d seen that used bent paperclips as feet for birds.  Rather than hand cut the shapes I decided to adapt the project for the Cricut.  The paper is from a K&Company stack, Susan Winget’s Best of Paper Pad.  I had plenty of scrap for this project.

Cartridge Used:

  • Create a Critter 2

Cut Size In Inches:

  • Mom chick @ 3.5
  • Finished birdsIcon page 44 @ 3.5
  • Bird page 59 @ 3.5

Additional Supplies:

  • a tape runner
  • small binder clips
  • craft glue like Aleene’s Max Tacky Adhesive
  • standard sized paper clips

For all three birds I cut the base layer in a spring green.  Since these little birds will be seen from both sides I cut two of each layer one facing right and the other facing left.  For each different chick I chose one of the papers I had used on the roof of a bird house for the second layer and a coordinating solid for the third layer.  Since the birds would stand on paper clip legs I trimmed the paper legs off the green layers.  I then assembled each right and left facing bird.

To bend the paper clips I set them on the table top and held the big loop down with my thumb as I pulled the small loop upwards.  I straightened that loop out, but try as I might I couldn’t get the last little bit of kink to come out.  That made them difficult to work with.  So I used the wire cutters from my jewelry tools to snip right below the kink.  A little bit of tape runner held the paper clip feet in place on the back of the birds until I could use a big dab of adhesive over that.  I spread glue over the rest of the bird, attached the back and used the mini binder clips to hold everything together.  I adjusted the feet so the birds stood up and left them to dry for several hours before removing the clips.

I learned something from this project.  That third bird didn’t look right.  I was so focused on having one bird for each of the roof papers that I didn’t stop to consider the scale of the print.  The floral print was too big and too busy for the size of the cut.



Freshly Picked Birthday Card

Our friend in Oklahoma has a birthday next week so I’m doing a birthday card.  Nancy likes blue so that color’s in the card.  I know Freshly Picked is an older cartridge but I just bought it last week and was anxious to try it out.

Freshly Picked Birthday.Sometimes I pick the paper to go with my design. But this time I picked the paper first and let it influence the design.  I knew when I went to my stacks that I wanted the colors blue and green and an outdoor theme to the print.  I found a small bird print with a reverse side of yellow green in a heidi grace stack called Tweet Dreams.

Cartridges Used:

  • Freshly Picked
  • Straight from the Nest
  • Give a Hoot
  • Plantin School Book

Cut Sizes in Inches:

  • Gazebo @ 3.5 (Freshly Picked)
  • Bird 1 @ 1.5 (Straight from the Nest)
  • Bird 2 @ 1.5 (Straight from the Nest)
  • Tree 4 @ 4.0 (Give a Hoot)

Cuttlebug Folder:

  • Happy Birthday

Additional Supplies:

  • Versa Magic chalk ink pad in Oasis Green
  • Darcie Self-Stick Gem in yellow
  • a tape runner
  • craft glue like Aleene’s Max Tacky Adhesive

I cut the card to measure 6.25 x 10 from the print paper being careful to watch which way the print went.  I didn’t want the birds to being flying sidewise when the card was folded.  Again using the paper cutter I cut the blue at 4 x 4.5 and the green reverse print at 3.5 x 4.  I embossed the print with the Happy Birthday cuttlebug folder.  This time I left the paper in the folder and patted the raised surface with the ink pad.  That seemed to give a more even color with less ink hitting the low parts of the embossing than when I take the paper out first.

The bottom layer of gazebo is cut from a deep red and the shift layer from the reverse green print.  The tiny leaves and vines I cut from that same yellow green reverse print.  For the flowers and shadow I used the blue.  At this point I stopped and put the gazebo together because I was afraid of losing some of the tiny pieces!  I used the same red and blue for the the birds.  When I put them together I turned one of each size around and shifted the angle of the top layer wing to make them look slightly distinct.

For the topmost layer of the trees I choose a bright truer green to pop against the yellow green background of the inside.  I cut the Happy Birthday phrase in the blue.  With the paper cutter I cut a scrap of the print 4.25 x .25. to make the gazebo a pop-up element. I wanted the two little birds to be perched in the trees of the inside, so I removed their feet.  I did the same for one of the larger birds so that he looks like he is flying while the other is standing on the ground.  The method of making the gazebo pop-up is the same that I used in the Baby Shower Card.

I cut the envelope in a cream paper, assembled all the completed elements and fastened everything down.  I added the gems for the eyes on the cover’s birds and used a marker to dot the eyes of the interior birds.


Art Nouveau Card

I just bought the Art Nouveau cartridge and was anxious to try it out.  So many of  my cards are made with cartridges like Create a Critter, that I wanted something a little more elegant.  Art Nouveau seemed like a good choice.

2I went online and did a little research on the Art Nouveau Movement and in particular the wallpaper and textile designs.  Then I searched my paper stacks and found a bright print from Anna Griffin’s Carmen Collection.  Several of the wallpaper designs reminded me of the Cuttlebug folder Modern Wallpaper, so that’s that what I selected for added texture.  The colors in the print dictated the solid papers I used.

Cricut Cartridges Used:

  • Art Nouveau
  • Phrases
  • Plantin School Book

Cut Sizes in Inches:

  • Headshot 1 @ 3.o (Art Nouveau)
  • Phrase @ 3.o (Phrases)
  • Envelope @ fit to page (Plantin School Book)

Cuttlebug Folder:

  • Modern Wallpaper

Additional Supplies:

  • Versa Magic chalk ink pad in Oasis Green
  • Darice Self-Stick Gem in bright pink
  • a tape runner
  • craft glue like Aleene’s Max Tacky Adhesive

I used my paper cutter to make the card and rectangles.  The card in cream measures 6.5 x 10, the green is 6 x 4.5, the print is 5 x 3.5 and the cream strip is 5 x 1.  I rounded the corners on the green and print rectangles.  Next I embossed the green with the cuttlebug folder.  The folder was slightly too short for the rectangle but by turning the paper 180 degrees and carefully aligning the raised parts in the folder I was able to get the entire rectangle embossed.  Next time I will try to avoid using too large a rectangle.  I embossed the cream strip with the border folder.  So that the embossing would stand out on the strip I lightly patted the green ink pad on the top of the embossing.  I did this later on the embossing for the envelope flap.

Headshot 1The instructions on the Art Nouveau cartridge recommend that you not use a smaller cut size than 3 inches.  Even at 3 inches I found that I really needed a sharp blade and a good mat.  I used a copper foil scrap for the background cut, a medium brown for the hair, cream for the face and dark brown for the blackout.  To bring out the pink in the print the flower in the hair uses two shades of pink.  At 3 inches the earrings and the women’s lips are really tiny.  I was glad for a good pair of tweezers to handle them.  To finished it off I used a stick-on gem for the center of the flower.  It looked a little plain without something there.

Assembly was easy using a glue runner.  I picked the phrase “feel better soon” from the Phrases cartridge, but I think this card would be good for a thank you note or birthday.  I cut the phrase in green and used Aleene’s to attach it to the inside of the card.  The envelop in cream was cut from Plantin School Book.  I embossed the flap to match the card and patted the raised  surface with the green ink pad.