Finding Inspiration | Guest Post by Allison Kreft

Allison Kreft | Amy Tangerine blogThere are lots of little things that I do to help keep the creative juices flowing. I thought I would share them with you. 1. Create a "To Do List". This helps to keep me on track with projects that need to get done. 2. Create another "To Do Wish List". I often have more ideas than I have time to do them. This is a running list of ideas to use when I actually get some downtime. 3. Have some books & magazines around that inspire you. It's nice to take a break from the computer and just flip through the pages. 4. Use your phone to keep a photo journal of things that spark an idea. I used to put post-it notes in books or dog ear pages in books for future reference. The snapshots are much easier to reference, plus you always have them with you. 5. Pinterest & Instagram. I dare you to not find something that inspires you on there. 6. Print your photos. Having them printed and in your hands can be enough to jumpstart a project. 7. See what's new and have supplies you love! There's nothing better than having a product you just can't wait to try out and use! 8. Make sure your supplies are easy to get to (and organized if possible). That way you don't have to spend time searching for what you need once you feel inspired. 9. Just start working on it. I find that once I start something, even though I don't have a vision of the final outcome the creative juices start flowing. 10. This is a new one for me. Since I now have 2 kids, It's been challenging to find time for new projects. Now that my oldest is 2, she always wants to do what I am doing. I decided to use this to my advantage. We sew (she has a play sewing machine), stamp, paint and scrapbook together. It's fun to see her mimicking my every move, and I can actually get stuff done!

I'd love to hear if you have anything else to add to the list:)

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Allison Kreft Abad is a designer, photography lover, crafter and mother of 2 girls. She was the creative director & designer behind Hambly Screen Prints until they closed in 2012. Allison moved on to release two collections with Echo Park Papers called "Everyday Eclectic" and "Today's Story" for Photo Freedom. Currently she has four collections with Webster's Pages including the newly released "Recorded" and "It's Christmas".

Old + New | Guest Post by Kelly Purkey

As I take a mini maternity leave after having my baby boy on September 18th, I have a series of talented friends/guest posters who agreed to fill in here throughout part of this month. I will try to pop in with random posts here and there, but we are just trying to squeeze out every bit of goodness of family time right now. Enjoy!

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Kelly Purkey | Anchor card I love combining old product that I've been saving with new product that I'm super excited about - it's the best of both worlds, right? For this card I put together a piece of my Hambly transparency that I've been hoarding these like crazy - they're still one of my favorite products - with a new Kelly Purkey Anchor wafer thin die.Kelly Purkey | Anchor card The cool thing about using the dies with a die cutting machine is that they work well with so many materials, especially something that is just a little thicker like the transparencies. You can manually crank it through a couple times to make sure you're getting the cuts all the way through.Kelly Purkey | Anchor cardI used my Kelly Purkey anchor die for the front of the card and attached it with Glossy Accents so you can't see the adhesive. The sentiment comes from my Kelly Purkey Come Sail Away stamp set for a super easy and simple card. Dies and transparencies, what a perfect pair!

Kelly also has an awesome new November card kit featuring our Cut & Paste line!

Kelly Purkey is a graphic designer who has recently launched her own line of paper crafting products at SimonSaysStamp.com. Her products strive to help you create projects that are bright and trendsetting with top notch designs. She resides Chicago, IL although you most likely to find her living out of her suitcase on another travel adventure.

Follow Kelly here: Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Photography Tips | Guest Post by Ann-Marie Morris

Hi there! My name is Ann-Marie Morris and I am so happy to be guest posting here today on Amy's blog. As someone who eats / sleeps / breathes visual inspiration (thank goodness for Instagram!), photography is the one source of creative expression that I use on a daily - sometimes hourly! - basis. Here are a few of my top photography tips that I've learned over the years:Photo Tips by Ann-Marie Morris via Amy TanAvoid the flash at all costs. Whether you're taking pictures of people or a landscape or still life, no artificial lighting will ever flatter your subjects quite as well as natural light. Even if the sun is setting, put the camera on a steady surface and turn on the self-timer! You have up to ten seconds to run back in the shot and allow the camera to work it's magic. But if you do need to use the flash, just remember that it only extends so far. For example, don't plan on taking distant landscape photos at night, because it will only illuminate about 10 feet in front of you and everything else will still be dark.Photo Tips by Ann-Marie Morris via Amy TanSquare up your shots. Of all the things I learned from my college photo classes, this little trick has always stuck with me. If there are horizontal or vertical lines in your photos, try to line them up in your shot. For example, let's say you're standing in front of a wall. Since the wall has one very distinct horizontal line, use your viewfinder to make the camera parallel to the wall. The photo above is a prime example of squaring up. See how the horizon line is parallel to the top and bottom of the photo? That's what you want to aim for. It takes practice and quite honestly, I often use Photoshop to correct my shots when I'm editing.Photo Tips by Ann-Marie Morris via Amy TanFollow people around. As awesome as posed photos can be, there's no substitute for capturing someone in their natural state. For the photo above, I quietly followed Amy around her house as she tended to baby Jack's needs. When I got home and went through all the photos I took that day, I let out an audible gasp when I came across this particular image. It was exactly what I was hoping to capture!Photo Tips by Ann-Marie Morris via Amy TanUse the self-timer. It doesn't matter if you're sightseeing amongst a huge crowd or if you're simply at home by yourself, the self-timer function on digital cameras is always a great option. You can program it to take several photos consecutively or you can just do one at a time. Another fun thing about the self-timer? It's perfect for jumping shots! For the photo above, I placed my camera on a low wall across the street and turned on the self-timer so that I could get a photo of me with all of my bridesmaids. It was such a simple act, but it helped to create one of my most treasured images.Photo Tips by Ann-Marie Morris via Amy TanZoom in, zoom out. Blogging has taught me so much about creating a well-rounded story through various angles and perspectives. Even if the photos I take will never be published, I've trained myself to pay attention to both the large and small details of the subject matter. The very first thing I do is scope out the setting in the broadest terms possible: landscapes, large groups, distance shots, etc. Once I have that in my memory card, I focus on the small details: tablescapes, the petals on a flower, a cropped shot of my pencil cup, etc. Then, when I sit down to start editing, I have all the photos I need to tell the complete story.Photo Tips by Ann-Marie Morris via Amy TanPlay with the different settings on the dial. Figuring out what setting to use depending on many variables (subject, distance, lighting, etc) can really make or break a photo. For example, if you want to get a close-up detail shot, use the flower icon setting. If you want to get a wide-angle landscape shot, use the mountain icon setting. If you don't want to think too much about it, use the Auto or P setting.Photo Tips by Ann-Marie Morris via Amy TanExperiment! The beauty of digital cameras is that you can take unlimited photos and figure out what works without worrying about running out of film. Play around with different shots, angles, and camera settings and find what works best for you!

Ann-Marie is a freelance designer, crafter, and photographer living in Pasadena with her fiance John. When she's not working on DIY projects for her upcoming wedding or thrifting for new pieces for her home, it's a safe bet that she is on the hunt for her next great creative adventure. Always with a camera in hand.

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A Day in the Life of Paige | Guest Post by Paige Evans

As I take a mini maternity leave after having my baby boy on September 18th, I have a series of talented friends/guest posters who agreed to fill in here throughout part of this month. I will try to pop in with random posts here and there, but we are just trying to squeeze out every bit of goodness of family time right now. Enjoy!

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There are 24 hours in the day and I'm usually awake for 17 of those hours. I feel like from sunrise (usually before!) to sunset (usually after!) I'm go-go-go all day long. With two kids that keep me on my toes (Fox - age 3, Jane - age 1), a half time job working for Northridge Publishing, the American Crafts blog hostess/design team coordinator, a Garden Girl for twopeasinabucket.com, the occasional client work for Amy Tan herself :), and an etsy shop business on the side, every day I wonder how I'm going to get everything done that's on my plate. I decided to photo document and see where my time goes and exactly how/when I accomplish everything. Let's begin!

5:30am - my morning begins with a daily date with Jillian Michaels. I fell off the exercise/eat healthy bandwagon when we moved to Germany and quickly gained everything back that I had worked so hard to shred, and then some. So I'm back at it with a vengeance!7:00am - after showering and getting ready for the day the kids wake up and I get them breakfast. Chris is out the door at 7:10am. After breakfast (some concoction of cereal, eggs, pop tarts, anything quick & easy), we play play play! I find that my kids are much happier if I fill their "bucket of needs" in the morning. If I try to get my own things done in the morning, they will whine and cry and have more tantrums. So I try to play with them for a couple of hours in the morning doing various activities like coloring, going on a walk (weather permitting), reading books, playing with toys, etc. 9:00am - Jane takes a nap for about an hour and a half in the morning. During that time I try to get some work done while Fox is still playing. A lot can be accomplished in an hour and a half! 11:00am - lunchtime. Cooking is my least favorite thing to do so don't expect anything fancy shmancy! I can cook any kind of pasta and microwave any kind of frozen food to perfection :) 11:15am - while the kids are still eating lunch I try to get a few things done like house or project repairs, unloading the dishes, vacuuming, mopping, etc. 11:30am - clean the messes my kids make. A place for everything, and everything in it's place :) 12:00am - I pop in a movie for the kids for an hour while I fold laundry and do other household chores. 1:00pm - nap time for both kids! This is Fox's room. Jane's room. 1:10pm - time to get down to business. I work on various tasks for the day for a few hours while the kids nap. I'm so happy that they sleep at the same time! It wasn't always like this, it took about 9 months to get them on the same sleeping schedule so back then I used to stay up later to get everything done. I edit documents, send out emails, scrapbook my assignments, fulfill etsy shop orders, blog for American Crafts, film my Garden Girl videos, and more. 4:00pm - the kids wake up and we play in the basement where all their toys are. 4:35pm - Chris gets home from work and takes over while I go out and run errands. 4:45pm - first stop is the post office since mail isn't delivered here on the Army base. 5:00pm - grocery shopping at the Commissary. 5:30pm - home! 5:30pm - Chris makes dinner (he's the best!) and I put away the groceries and watch the kiddos.6:00pm - Chris takes the kids outside while I clean up dinner and get some more work done.6:30pm - bath time!7:00pm - for the rest of the night I get everything else done that I didn't get to and then have fun blogging, checking Facebook, PinterestInstagram, Feedly, 2Peas message boards, and all the other various sorts of social media I'm involved in. It helps that my computer is in the center of where we spend the most time so if I get an urgent email or a few spare seconds I can hop on and hop off in a jiffy. Likewise all my scrapbooking materials are right in the living room so I can work on layouts here-and-there throughout the day. 10:00pm - bedtime at last! If I'm not too tired I'll read a few pages of a book. I'm currently reading Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card. It's a real page turner! So there you have it! 24 hours in my typical week-day life! It's full and fun :)

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Custom Embroidered Muslin Bag | Guest Post by Cathy Vee

As I take a mini maternity leave after having my baby boy on September 18th, I have a series of talented friends/guest posters who agreed to fill in here throughout part of this month. I will try to pop in with random posts here and there, but we are just trying to squeeze out every bit of goodness of family time right now. Enjoy!

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Hi Everyone! Cathy here from Inside The Crafter's Studio! If you are an Amy Tangerine Embroidery Fan, then this is the project for you! I love muslin bags, who doesn't? They come in great sizes and are the perfect material for daily use. Some people stamp on them, and some like to leave them plain. Today, I am going to show you how I spruced them up with my "Capture" kit.Cathy Vee | via Amy TangerineI decided to use my own embroidery floss and the ones that came with the kit. You can purchase embroidery floss from any craft store. I decided to use 2 different designs on one bag since I like to overlap the two.Cathy Vee | via Amy TangerineI chose to keep the heart in the word "LOVE" a different color because it stood out more than if it were all one solid color. These 2 are my ultimate favorite and my go-to when I do layout projects. Something about the simple lettering of "LOVE" and the clouds/sun just makes me FEEL happy.Cathy Vee | via Amy TangerinePacked with love, this bag made the perfect goodie bag for a pen pal!Cathy Vee | via Amy TangerineThanks so much for reading, and thank you Amy for allowing me to guest post today!