A Well Crafted Retirement

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

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Learn to Use Your Cricut Explore

This is the first of two classes taught at JoAnn for the Cricut Explore.  I thought it might be helpful to hear from the instructor about what you will learn in the class and what supplies you will need. 

Purpose of this class:

  • Learn how to set up and connect your Cricut machine.
  • Learn how to use the basic features of Design Space.
  • Learn how to make a multi-layered card.
  • Learn how to make a vinyl decal then cut and apply it to an item of your choice.


  • Your Cricut (along with the power supply and USB cord)
  • Your computer with its power cord (more on this below)
  • Your Cricut tools (the spatula, scoring stylus, scraper and weeder)
  • A Cricut pen (fine or medium point)
  • A Cricut mat
  • Two sheets of coordinating card stock at least one should be a solid color that your pen can write on. (never hurts to have an extra sheet or two)
  • Cricut vinyl
  • Cricut transfer tape (read your vinyl roll, some include the correct weight transfer tape)
  • An item to embellish with vinyl decal (many students embellish the top of their Cricut with this project)


I have noticed that students in class have experienced problems when they bring a computer that they don’t know how to use or for which they don’t have passwords.  I went to the Cricut web site and copied this information on what kind of computers and devices will work for Design Space.  It’s pretty frustrating to not be able to learn to use your Cricut because  of your computer.

Here are the operating system requirements to run Design Space:

Window® OS*

  • OS: Windows® 8 or later
  • CPU: Intel™ Core series or equivalent AMD® processor
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Browsers: Latest version of Mozilla® Firefox®, Google Chrome™, Microsoft Edge™
  • 50MB free disk space
  • Available USB port or Bluetooth® connection
  • Display: Minimum 1024px x 768px screen resolution

Mac® OS*

  • OS: Mac® OS X 10.12 or later
  • CPU 1.83 GHz
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Browsers: Latest version of Safari®, Mozilla® Firefox®, Google Chrome™
  • 50MB free disk space
  • Available USB port or Bluetooth® connection
  • Display: Minimum 1024px x 768px screen resolution

Mobile Devices

  • iOS 10 or later
  • iPad
    • ​iPad® 3 or later
    • iPad mini™ 2 or later
    • iPad Pro™
    • iPad Air® or later
  • ​iPhone
    • ​iPhone® 5 or later
  • ​iPod
    • ​iPod® Touch 6th generation or later

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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.













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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.



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.