Christmas · Cricut

How I became a Cricut Fanatic

For several years now, I have been crafting with a machine called a Cricut. The Cricut–hint: it’s pronounced KREH-CUT, not CRY-CUT–is an amazing cutting machine that you use to cut paper, vinyl, vellum and even leather and thin metals!

 My first Cricut was an Expression 2, which was the “latest and greatest” model when I bought it in 2012.  I had heard of Cricut, but never considered purchasing one until I was asked to create several memorial tributes for my relatives.  After easily making banners and photo montages and receiving positive feedback about my creations, I easily fell in love!

Cricut Expression 2 (E2)
Back in 2012, Cricut machines were based on cartridges that contained a set of images and/or fonts, which you used to choose and cut with the machine. There are/were literally hundreds of cartridges available!  So, of course, I set about expanding my own image collection by buying cartridges.  As I was “amassing” my own image library in cartridges, I realized there was so much to learn about these very creative machines.

Before long, I found out Cricut had developed free software that allowed you to connect your laptop to your Cricut machine and “link” all of my cartridges in one place, called the Cricut Craft Room (or CCR, for short).  Transitioning to CCR was what really hooked me on my Cricut.

As an avid Facebook user, I tried to find a community of like minded crafters online, but was met with a bit of craft snobbery instead of a welcomed greeting from other Cricut users. It was then that I decided I would build a community that would welcome any Cricut user, regardless of experience level, to learn, share and grow in their knowledge of using their Cricut.  The group, which can be found on Facebook under “Cricut Newbies and Pros“, started off small, but had a dedicated base of members.

In early 2014, Cricut launched their newest machine called the Cricut Explore, which had its own free software called Design Space (DS).  Since I was totally pleased with my Expression 2, I didn’t immediately jump on the Explore bandwagon.  After all, I had spent countless hours learning all the “ins and outs” of my E2 and the CCR software.  I figured out how to manipulate the software to do things and, to be honest, starting from scratch didn’t enthrall me.  Instead, I waited it out, trying to figure out if I could justify another “non essential” purchase.  What could the Explore do for me that I couldn’t do with my trusty Expression?  Was cutting and crafting with the Explore that much better than the Expression, as I had been hearing?

By the time Black Friday 2014 rolled around, I decided I might buy an Explore if the price was right, but I was convinced I couldn’t part with my E2 even if I did get the new machine.  When the right deal popped up, I drew my breath and made the purchase.  Side note: if you didn’t know already, I am a single mother and a homeowner with a limited income, so spending money on a new machine was a big gamble for me!

Cricut Explore Air
My new Explore arrived in record time, but I was too busy crafting with my E2 to stop and learn a whole new way.  After all, it was Christmas and I had dozens of cards, teacher gifts and ornaments to make!  So there it sit…in its lovely box…waiting for my attention.

Master Owen’s Oliver
It wasn’t until my beloved, rescued corgi, Oliver, became extremely sick, that I considered unveiling my new Explore.  I know that sounds sort of weird, but in addition to being a lifelong crafter, I am a devoted, dyed-in-the-wool corgi lover and a proud member of Corgi Nation, a large group of people from around the world that are linked by their love of the derpy, adorable dogs with short little legs, no tails (though some have tails!) and personalities bigger than their bodies.

Ollie, whom I saved from certain euthanization in 2012, was a beloved member of Corgi Nation.  Oliver gave MO, my son, his moniker: “Master Owen”; before Ollie came around, MO was simply Owen and sometimes O. When Ollie got sick I wanted the best for him, which didn’t come cheap. Remember: single mom+limited income+sick dog=HUGE problem!  My friends of Corgi Nation (CN), helped with expenses, but I wanted to contribute, too.  With a little help from a new friend and Cricut teacher, Cara Miller, I figured out how to make my first unique project: glittery Corgi Christmas ornaments, which I sold to my online friends to help pay for Ollie’s medical expenses.  Sadly though, we lost Oliver at the beginning of December.  He went to the Rainbow Bridge on December 1, 2014, when he was unable to fight off a severe infection and pneumonia.  It was a tremendous loss.

One year later and I am happy to say I am officially hooked on my Cricut Explore.  Our  Facebook group has grown so much we had to create a spin off group to handle the increased traffic!

If you’d like to join us on this creative adventure or are just interested in what the Cricut Explore can do, please join one of our two groups on Facebook:

For the original “Cricut Newbies and Pros” group:

The newest group “Cricut Newbies and Pros for Explore Owners”:







My Little Fat Corgi

I’m a big fan of corgis.

You know?  Those short dogs. The ones that look like midget dogs?  The ones that the Queen has?

Right!! Those dogs!

Yes, that’s as tall as they are going to get.  Yes, it’s completely normal.

Yes, sometimes they have tails and sometimes they don’t.  The ones with the tails are called Cardigans and the ones without are called Pembroke.  Most of the tail-less ones are born that way, but sometimes they have nubs.  And it doesn’t make any difference to me if they have a tail or not!

I love corgis of all kinds, colors, tail or no tail. I adore anything corgi related.  I tweet “corgi alerts”. I search Target for corgi ornaments.  I own corgi socks, and pillows, and shirts and even an umbrella.  I even have make corgi bumper stickers.

Corgis are a “thing” on the internet these days.

Of course, they should be.

If you haven’t ever known one, I know you are probably saying I’m just being a breed snob or something, but I am really not.

To coin a phrase: “Once you go corgi, you never go back!”  Well.  It’s the truth.  I’m just pointing it out.

It’s so important to me that you know, too, that I was into corgis before they were an “internet sensation”.  I’ve been living with corgis since before the millennium.

So, ya, a long time.

But for those of you that are sort of new to the breed, please don’t call my corgi “fat”!

It’s like openly calling a person’s child fat, which I’m sure you don’t do. Right?

I know some people can’t help themselves.  I know some mean it in a loving way, like my neighbor did.  Some people even prefer their corgis fat.

But it really hurts my feelings when I’m walking my weight-challenged corgi, Odie, and someone points out how HUGE he is.  Or maybe they compare him to my corgi puppy, Ted E. Bear, who is gorgeous and sleek and perfectly shaped. Or they see how he really does waddle like a penguin.

It hurts my feelings, because some people don’t know Odie’s story.

They don’t know how Odie couldn’t even walk up stairs when he first arrived.  Or how hard it has been trying to get him to take a walk with me.

Most don’t know Odie was dropped off here severely overweight for “just a few months”.  But then the few months became 9 months.  Then a year.  Then maybe not until 2016.  So…basically abandoned.

Until I couldn’t watch him struggle anymore and asked my friends from Corgi Nation for help. Together with Faith Bark, Corgi Nation came through for me as they do for hundreds of other corgis.  Through Faith Bark’s “Bandit’s Band-aid” program, many friends of Corgi Nation contributed so I could have Odie get medical attention.

Yes, those are really groups.  Corgi Nation–or CN, for short–is as big and weird and fun and sometimes even a little coarse as the beloved Red Sox Nation.  Dare I say it?  Maybe even stronger?

We corgi lovers are a varied but vast team of people that live across the nation and around the world.

We send hundreds of Christmas cards to each other each year…with our corgis pictures on them, of course!

Yes, Corgi Nation is probably responsible for keeping the USPS afloat these past five years or so.

And, yes, I am being completely serious!

Except for my friends in Corgi Nation and a few select other “real life people” (hate that…having to separate my friends into online or “real life” status) most people don’t know a few other key details.

They don’t know that, only a few months after Odie came to visit, I lost my sweetest friend, Ollie, a corgi (of course).  A rescued corgi, too, with medical issues.  Oliver…my “dandy” with the glamour coat.  The corgi that gave Master Owen his official “Master” status.

Then–only four months later in March of this year–I lost my girl, Beatrice.  Yes, of course, she was a corgi, too.

Bea was also a rescue.  She was so sassy we had to give her the title of “The Queen Bea”, which she embodied until the day she died. Complications from an infection, which she got because she had diabetes.  Diabetes that took her sight and made me give her insulin for several years.

Yes, The Queen Bea was mostly blind in the end and, yes, fat.  But she was so sassy and royal, it hardly bothered me when people would say so.  She wore her fatness like the crown she was born to wear.

Anyway…I digress.

I’m not sure why it hurts so much when folks call Odie “fat”.

Maybe it’s because I’ve had too many losses the past couple of years. Maybe I feel bad for him. Maybe I wonder how anyone would ever abandon a corgi…ever.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve been working so hard with him.

You know, he is making progress.  Today he lifted his leg to pee on a hydrant.  Today he walked a little further.

Maybe folks don’t see it.  Maybe they just see a waddling, short dog and think it’s funny.

I don’t.

I see a dog that had the rug pulled out from under him and is still trying to work on his problems anyway.

I see a dog who gets up every day–even if he is sore and super hungry and tired of eating green beans with his quarter cup of kibble–and tries to be better.  Tries not to eat the puppy’s leftovers.  Looks at me with adoring eyes, because he knows I understand.

Maybe, just maybe, I see myself in my little, fat corgi…