Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

The last day of 2009--wow! I still remember the "Happy New Year!" celebration my daughter's kindergarten class had to welcome in 2000, and it feels like it was just last week! What they did for their celebration was so cute, and it worked for absolutely everyone! Us room moms scrounged up enough 12-inch squares of bubble wrap so each student had one, and when the kids finished counting down and yelled, "Happy New Year!" everyone stomped on their bubble wrap. Fun, safe, easy cleanup! Told you it worked for everyone!

Okay, so how does this relate to stamping? At first I didn't really think it did--I was just taking a trip down Memory Lane. I wasn't into stamping (gasp!) back when we popped all those bubbles. But, then I began to think about it. Being that I was first introduced to Stampin' Up! in April of 2000, the new year marks the beginning of my second decade with inky fingers and glittery cheeks! Ten years! Talk about a ton of stamp sets, a truckload of cardstock, and a whole new world of wonderful friends! It's been a great time!

Speaking of great, working with my new toys from the Occasions Mini Catalog and Sale-A-Bration brochure sure fits that category! I've been having a hard time getting the Christmas stamps back in their appropriate places because the new silky satin ribbons--in perfect colors for Valentines, new punches and stamp sets that can be gotten for FREE keep calling me! I'm not using them for Valentines just yet, but for birthday card designs as I get ready for my 5th Annual Birthday Bonanza stamp camp that is coming up on January 15th and 16th. The card I have to show you today is one that I put together for a demonstrator swap I was in, but I like it enough that it will be one of the four designs we do at stamp camp.

The card uses the "Happy Moments" stamp set from the Sale-A-Bration catalog, and the new "Perfect Polka Dots" Textured Impressions Folder for the Big Shot from the Occasions Mini. I paper-pieced the gift boxes, augmenting the design just a bit.

If you'd like to join me for this stamp camp, so you"ll have a good supply of birthday cards with matching envelopes on hand for the upcoming year, email me to reserve a spot.

Hope you enjoy your New Year celebration!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yep! I'm Still Alive!!

Wow! It's been more than two months since I've posted! Unbelieveable! I'm surprised I even remember how to navigate this site!

Now, it's not like I've just been twiddling my thumbs this whole time. It's just that after having carpal tunnel surgery on both hands, one in October and one in November, I've had to prioritize activities, and things involving typing had to be put very close to the bottom of the list. I could only manage 2-3 lines before it felt like I had run a marathon. Typing one-handed got real old, real quick!

I still managed to keep my obligations to my stamp clubs, there are a fair amount of holiday decorations around my house, and "caramel season," the period from the end of September until Christmas Day, went off without a hitch despite all the concerns from my family. Don't ask about my Christmas cards--I'm afraid that might be one area I'm just going to have to let go this year.

Huh? What's that?? You're not familiar with the part of the holiday time called "caramel season?" That's where a particular pot in my house never gets to see its spot in the cupboard because it's always working on yet another batch of the homemade caramel that we give as gifts this time of year. My kids are in high school, yet a few of their favorite elementary school teachers still see a package of caramels this time of year--and I'd probably hear about it if we neglected them! Of course, favorite current teachers receive some as do my husband's office staff, my stamp club members, friends, neighbors and family members. In all I packaged up about 80 gifts. And somewhere along the line, I decided that I just wouldn't be happy if I didn't present all those caramels in those cute "Santa buckets" that were all over Splitcoast in November. Yep, I made 80 of those buggers! And I'd do it again too--because they're just so darned cute. I love the dotted-ribbon suspenders.

This is just a portion of the "army," as my son called them, of Santas we had here.
Each holds about 3/4 lb. of wrapped caramels in a cellophane bag. I can wrap caramels in my sleep, and by the end of the "season," I could almost assemble "Santas" that way too. My husband felt he had done his part for the "cause" because he helped empty beverage cans so I could use the tabs for the belt buckles. Thanks, Honey.

Besides holiday gifts, I've also been working on swaps that use sets and accessories from the upcoming new Occasions and Sale-A-Bration Mini Catalogs.

This one uses sets from the Occasions Mini, "Butterfly Accent," "Fine Flourish," and the Jumbo wheel, "Very Vintage." The wheel is a great one for turning regular cardstock into "faux" Designer Paper. I ran the wheel in different directions for each color so the pattern was a little more varied. Additional supplies include the "Sincere Salutations" stamp set, the scallop square Big Shot die, Very Vanilla taffetta ribbon, Dazzling Diamonds glitter and 2-Way Glue, along with Rose Red, Regal Rose, Very Vanilla, Basic Black and Vellum cardstock.

I've got 3 more swap designs that I'll share in the days to follow. See you then!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sepia Technique

Okay, so I'm already chomping at the bit. I've been "grounded" for about 4 days now, and my brain is starting to go into over-drive! All this sitting on the couch with my arm iced and elevated is starting to get old. So I'll spend a little time here, typing in the classic "hunt-and-peck" style, with just my left hand. My right hand has to be up in the air, ala the “teacher, teacher, pick me, pick me” look lest it start swelling to the size of a balloon!

I’ve been typing “automatically” for so many years, eyes always on the screen, that I have no flippin’ idea where the letters are!! So I slowly hunt and peck, thankful for those few words that are spelled with only left-hand letters. I usually look up to my Word program “screaming” red at all the errors I’ve made! The good news is that everything with the surgery went well and I haven't needed a pain med for almost 48 hours. That probably explains a lot regarding my success at being a couch-potato over the weekend!!

Anyway, that's enough of that--let's talk a little stamping. Sepia is the technique my stamp clubs worked with this month. It's kind of a neat way to give line-art images an antique look, and is an alternative to coloring.

To do this, stamp a line image in Basic Brown ink on Kraft cardstock. Basic Brown is waterproof (Really!) so the image won't smear when colored on. Then use Very Vanilla Craft Ink and Chocolate Chip Classic ink to paint on highlights with an Aquapainter. Sponge the edges of the cardstock with Choclate Chip ink. I even sponged over the image a bit to increase that "antique-y" look.

Other details about this card--

It uses the "Gifts of the Earth" stamp set that is in the Holiday Mini Catalog, and a bit of the "Autumn Traditions" Designer Series Paper. (When I say "a bit" I mean it! I originally designed this card for a swap where I needed 20 copies. In order to have enough Designer Paper, I only used what would show--so each of those pieces is only 3/4" X 2"! A little more putzing because you're cutting and gluing 2 pieces instead of one, but the savings is worth it to me!) The card base is wheeled with the jumbo "Texture" wheel, and the accents on the sides of the sepia image are made with the "Modern Label" punch and Vintage brads.

Well, I suppose it's time to see what other mischief I can get into instead of sitting on the couch. Thanks for stopping in!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Two More Christmas Projects

I have two more of the projects from Stamp Camp last week to show you today. I mentioned that it seems like the same product always shows up in more than one camp project, and these projects prove that! Don't do it on purpose, it just turns outs that way. Really!

This decorated matchbox is perfect for a piece of jewelry, or a sweet treat, or like we did, to fill with gift tags all ready for that last-minute wrapping session. The box is constructed using the Big Shot Matchbox die, the Movers & Shapers Die (backing piece for "holly jolly" piece), the "Christmas Punch" hostess stamp set, "Sassy Sparkles" jumbo wheel, Curly Label and Boho Blossoms punches, and of course, the red Polka-dot Grosgrain Ribbon. The width and design of the ribbon makes it just perfect for EVERYTHING! (I'm such a ribbon addict! Can you guess what product is going to show up in the next project??) The tags use the "Merry" Embosslit and the Jumbo Snowflake punch and silver elastic cord.

The "Merry & Bright" Rub-ons (and of course, the Polka-dot Grosgrain Ribbon!!!) make quick work of putting this treat container together. To easily apply the rub-on to the surface of the container, we held a large stamp block inside the container so there was a firm surface to work on. The rub-ons come with a popsicle stick to use to transfer the images, but when I did my sample, the spring-type clothes pin that I usually use when heat embossing was right there on my desk and made quick work of transfering!

The ribbon is tied just once onto the handle, but the width of it makes a nice bow. Love it!

My posts in the next couple weeks may not be as "long-winded" as usual, as I'll be typing one-handed for awhile. I leave in a couple hours for my carpal tunnel surgery. Wish me luck! If you have any "survival tips," PLEASE pass them along!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another Shimmer Paint Project

In life, things seem to come in three's, but at my stamp camps, two's are more the norm. Invariably, supplies I decide to use for camp just happen to pop up in more than one station. In addition to the red Polka-dot ribbon, the Crop-A-Dile and Big Shot, my pots of Shimmer Paint got multiple uses last weekend.

This gift item project, an altered tin with 5 chipboard snowflakes, simply used the Platinum Shimmer Paint straight out of the pot! I had considered adding glitter or Irridescent Ice Embossing Powder after painting the snowflakes, but the shimmer of the paint was so nice all by itself, anything more was unnecessary.

The paint glides on so easily, and it's amazing how far it goes! I worried about running out, but we were able to do 40 of these snowflakes with less than half a pot of paint! We used some little disposable "lip brushes" that I got at a beauty supply store to apply the paint so it was easy to get to all the edges and there was not the waste there might have been had we used sponge brushes.

The tins we altered were found on the clearance rack at an office supply store. They were full of rather ugly binder clips, but the back of the tins were magnetic, and the covers fit nicely. I KNEW I'd be able to find something to do with them, especially since they were on clearance for a steal! Of course, they stayed in my cabinet for oh, maybe 2 years. . . . I have a habit of finding something cool, buying a ton, and then hoarding it! The snowflakes were also a part of that stash of hoarded items. It was fun to put them into use.

The Ballet Blue paper that the snowflake is punched from and that covers the side of the tin is from the "Pawsitively Prints" Designer Series Paper that is in the Holiday Mini Catalog (p. 36). I love the colors and variety of prints in the pack! (I see some more hoarding in my future!!!) The paper is attached to the base of the tin with Sticky Strip, as is the 1/4" White Grosgrain ribbon that covers the edge of the cover of the tin. The snowflake (punched with the new Jumbo Snowflake punch) is glued onto a circle of Shimmery White cardstock. We cut the "arms" off of a Rhinestone brad with wire snips and attached it to the center of the snowflake with a Mini Glue Dot, and then attached the circle to the cover with more Mini Glue Dots. Another circle of Shimmery White was stamped with "to:" and "from:" and then added to the inside of the cover.

Once the snowflakes were dry, silver cord was added for hanging, and voila! A neat little gift item all ready for December!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gift card holder

My house was a flurry of activity this weekend! (We had real snow flurries outside too, but I don't want to think about that! Nope! Back to the fun stuff!) Paper and ribbon and brads of many colors were scattered everywhere, and not just in my craft room where that is the usual state! My kitchen and dining room turned into Santa's workshop a little early as busy stamp campers crafted items that could be used for holiday gift giving.

Unlike "usual" stamp camps, this one had a couple of stations where stampers had many choices of the colors and embellishments they used. I forget how much space we need to do that! But it's always fun to see what ideas everyone comes up with. The coaster calendars that I showed you Monday looked great, all "dressed" in their "Pawsitively Prints" or "Razzleberry Lemonade" Designer Series Papers, and stampers could make as many gift tags as they cared to to fill a decorated matchbox they made.

One of the other projects for this weekend's camp was a gift card holder that featured the "Dasher" stamp and sparkle spray made from the Shimmer Paint that is in the Holiday Mini Catalog.

This gift card holder uses a piece of cardstock 4-1/4" X 11" that is scored at 3", 5-1/2" and 8". It's a great design because it's so easy to decorate, no matter what the occasion. Before folding the cardstock on the score lines, we rolled the "Sweet Swirls" wheel on both sides. After folding, placing the card on the counter so it looks like an "M" helps to tell you where to place the 3 pieces of Sticky Strip.

Peel off the red liner and adhere the center of the gift card holder. Then grab the Word Window and 3/4" circle punch to make the slot for the gift card to rest in.

The Word Window is punch twice along the fold, and then a "thumb tab" is created with the circle punch. As you can see, somewhere along the way this particular holder was spritzed with sparkle spray made from 1 ounce of 70% Isopropyl alcohol and about 12 drops of Shimmer Paint mixed in a re-purposed Stampin' Mist spray bottle. It's so easy and gives the card a spectacular sparkle. Just make sure to shake the bottle often to keep the mixture well blended.

To add the ribbon tie, we put 3 Mini Glue Dots across the middle front and placed the ribbon over them, leaving about 6 inches to the right. The rest of the ribbon just wraps around the gift card holder; no need to adhere (unless you really want to.)

The "Dasher" image was stamped in Versamark, embossed with white powder, and layered onto Bashful Blue and Whisper White before being added to the front of the card with Mini Glue Dots.

Come back tomorrow to see what else we did at camp!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Join Me for Stamp Camp!

I still have a few spots left for Stamp Camp next weekend, and I'd love it if you'd join me! Even though the "Gettin' A Jump On Christmas!" title might not appeal while we're still enjoying fall, the projects we'll be doing won't all scream "Christmas," and it's ALWAYS fun to spend some time creating! The little gifts and gift packaging items will surely come in handy a couple months from now too!

One of the five projects for the camp is this handy little calendar. You'll actually be making two of them and you can personalize them, choosing the colors and embellishments you like. You'll have the option of replacing the punched flowers with a "2010" piece, making the project less "girl-y." There's a magnetic strip on the back so the calendar can be hung on a file cabinet or refrigerator. It would also look nice displayed on a little easel.

Let me know if you'd like me to add you to my stamp camp list! Happy Monday!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You Love Them at the Mall!

And now there's one at Stampin' Up! What the heck am I talking about?? The Clearance Rack, of course! Just launched today, when you go to the SU online store, there's a link for the Clearance Rack. To take a look, go to my website, click "shop now" on the upper right, and on the next page that comes up, there's a list on the left that includes the link you will need.
Check out it out! There are fantastic deals on surplus Stampin' Up! products, including Designer Series Paper, ribbon, rub-ons, even some tins that you can alter for gift packaging and the like. Like the mall, when this stuff is gone, it's gone, so order it online so you're not disappointed!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Look what I saw when I opened my blinds!

If you're on my customer mailing list, you may have thought I was jumping the gun when you opened your email this morning to find information about holiday stamp camps. But hey, if you saw what I saw outside my window earlier today, maybe you'd understand!!
All right, it's not really snow, but just the leftovers from one heck of a hail storm we had last night. Even after 12 hours there were still ice pellets in my yard! My 17 year-old son was just a little concerned about what might be happening to his vehicle that was getting pelted by this stuff: "I've got insurance for this, right?" he choked out while we all stared out the front door. (Well, no, honey, being that you're driving an 11 year-old minivan with 150,000 miles on it, we don't have it insured to the hilt--but we didn't mention that last night, and the van was none the worse for wear this morning.)

Actually, I almost forgot that it had hailed last night, so I was pretty surprised to see this as I opened the blinds this morning, so no, the holiday stamp camp announcement was not inspired by the weather but by the fact that I finally scheduled myself for much-needed carpal tunnel surgery. I'm squeezing the October (9th or 10th) camp in beforehand, and will have much of the prep for the November (13th or 14th) camp done early, just in case the recovery estimate I've been given is off some. More than ever, Melissa will be my "right-hand gal" so I don't have to go through too much stamping withdrawal.

I'll post a sneak peek or two of camp projects in the next week or so, but for today, I wanted to share a card that was inspired by the project that's been keeping me busy for the last couple weeks, namely getting my kitchen floor replaced. No, no, I didn't replace it myself, but as with most home-improvement projects, there's always that domino effect, requiring moving, painting, cleaning or replacing of almost every item even remotely related to the affected room, taking WAY longer than ever expected. Haven't had a ton of time to "play" lately so I decided I NEEDED to create one more "domino" and link stamping to the floor project somehow.

I made this card for Steve, my wonderful tile guy. I used retired "Outlaw" Designer Paper to "recreate" the tile design I now have in my kitchen and laundry room. The floor is a combination of 12-inch and 6-inch tiles, so I used 1-inch and half-inch squares of paper for the card.

The colors in the DSP are Really Rust, Chocolate Chip, and maybe Creamy Caramel or Close to Cocoa, some of the same colors in my tile, so I thought this paper was a good choice. Have to admit the colors didn't photograph very true. My punched out "thank you" looks more like Pumpkin Pie than Really Rust, but I like that I'll be able to send a note on a very appropriate card (that looks much better in real life.)

This is what the floor looks like:

Again, the colors are off--my cabinets look like cherry or something, instead of oak, and the tiles are shades of caramel. Guess I need to add a photography class, or at least a good sit-down with my camera manual, to the to-do list!

Enjoy these last days of September!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Getting Ready for Stamp Camp. . .

I'm having new tile installed in my kitchen and laundry room this week (FINALLY!) and so I've sort of had to stick close to home for much of each day. One of the advantages of this is that, without operating laundry or kitchen appliances to compete for my time (shucky darn!), I'm actually getting to the things I need to do for this coming weekend's "Fall Splendor" stamp camp before the very last second!

Don't want to ruin all the surprises, but I thought I'd share one of the projects that we'll be doing.

This cute little "nugget" box is an idea that crossed my desk in the past couple weeks. I think this is such a clever use of the "Pumpkin Patch" stamp set that is in the Holiday Mini Catalog. With the exception of the black circle behind the pumpkin, (Oh, and the Word Window punch out--because I oops'd the stamping that I did directly on the DSP!), the box is made entirely from the "Cast-A-Spell" Designer Series Paper. I love that 16 of these boxes can be made from just one-third package of paper. (Wish I could tell you who originally created this neat project, but all I have is a blog address that doesn't work. Please let me know if you know anything so I can give due credit.)

The cover of the box is actually a "sleeve" that slides over the box bottom. For the cover, cut a piece of the striped paper to 3” X 5” and score it on the long edge at ¾”, 2¼”, 3”, and 4½”. For the bottom, cut a piece of the black print to 2-15/16” X 4-7/16”, and score at ¾” on all four sides. Strips of the orange and green prints get cut to 1-1/8” X 3” for covering nuggets. (This size box holds 3 nuggets, but if you increase the first measurement for both the sleeve and the bottom one inch for each nugget you'd like to add to the box, you can easily increase the length/capacity of the box. I've seen nugget boxes that hold 10, although I think I'd make sure to use cardstock for the box bottom to better support the weight. Great way to make favors for parties!)

I'd love to have you come join us for stamp camp! There are still spots available on Saturday afternoon--just let me know! Come "review" the new tile!

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Home Improvement Projects are REALLY Doomed Now!!

I'm still trying to finish up a few projects that I started while my family was in Australia last month. I have a feeling it's going to take even a little longer to finish those up now, as the UPS man showed up today with my copy of "My Digital Studio," a new scrapbooking tool that is in the Holiday Mini Catalog.

I'm pleased to report that getting started with the program is quite easy! I was able to play just a little last night and got two pages done lickity-split! There are pages in the program that are already designed and you can just "drag and drop" your digital pictures into them, or you can do your own thing. Stampin' Up!'s colors, stamps, embellishments and Designer Series Paper are all loaded in there. It's pretty cool!!

I wanted to see how the "do your own thing" worked so I chose all my own pieces for the first page I did. My scrapping style tends to be very simple because I want the pictures and journaling to be the "stars." These outdoor pictures were so pretty, I didn't want to load the page with a bunch of extra stuff. I played with ribbon and brads, and even added some "stamped" leaves whose color I changed from the standard black to Garden Green. I eventually removed the stamps because they seemed to make the page too busy. (I know, some of you will say that this page seems unfinished. . .) I love how the ribbon and brads look pretty real. With this great tool I may get our Arizona/Utah trip from last summer scrapped yet! There's an option where I can send my finished album to a printer and get a printed, bound book if I want to.

For my second try, I just plunked a few pictures into a ready-made page. Even though the pages are in there and ready to go, they are customizable too. This page that I chose to use showed a spot for just one picture, but I was able to add more and resized them too. I did the same with the journaling box, and shifted the position of a flower or two.

(Now that I'm looking at the page again, I see that the pictures could use some mats. I'll just tweak that the next time I play with the program. Everything I create gets saved and can be edited whenever it needs to be.)

I'm really going to like using this and I think you will too! I've loaded it onto my laptop so that I can take it to workshops and show you how it works. I also plan on having a get-together at my house later this month or early in October to demonstrate how it works. "MDS" can also be used to make cards, calendars and other projects too. Additional "stamps" and embellishments will be available to keep the program current with the Idea Book & Catalog.

House projects, I hope you can hang on a little longer!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Would Ya Update Your Blog, Already!!"

"What's going on with your blog?" "Have you stopped doing your blog?" "Would you update your blog, already!!"

Yes, I've been hearing about my long absence from posting. Why does it seem I have to write one of these "apology" posts about once every 6 weeks?!! Probably because I still haven't figured out how to squeeze 30 hours of projects into the 18 waking hours of each day! Of course it would be better if I could learn to pace myself, delegate or call 1-800-Handyman, but no, that probably won't happen. I'm too stubborn, haven't outgrown that toddler trait of " I do it!!" or some darn thing. Guess you'll just have to take me as I am!

What I have to share today are some of the samples I generated in August in preparation for meeting with a bride-to-be about making wedding invitations. Whenever I talk to someone who is interested in stamping wedding invitations, I collect a little information about the wedding theme and colors, pull out some stamps that may work and then just start trying this and that, until I have a pile of samples that we can use to design exactly what the bride wants.

In the case of this wedding, my information included "Mediterranean" colors and big flowers. My interpretation of those colors included many of the new In Colors so I happily pulled those and three "big flower" stamp sets: "Fifth Avenue Floral," "Kind and Caring Thoughts" (a hostess set) and "Wedding Sweet" (and the coordinating wheel "Sweet Swirls") and set to work.

I try to provide variety in the size and styles of samples I do, since everyone likes different things, and because the size and style is closely tied to the cost of the project.

This first sample is sized to fit in a business-sized envelope and is stamped using the baby-wipe technique. The nice size of the "flower-y swirl" stamp in the "Wedding Sweet" set makes quick work of stamping the cards that get printed on the computer. I used Melon Mambo, Crushed Curry and Bermuda Bay reinkers to make my own stamp pad with a couple of baby wipes, and then after stamping, layered the piece onto Bermuda Bay and Basic Black card stock.

This sample is sized for an A6 envelope and uses Bermuda Bay and Naturals Ivory cardstock. The Bermuda Bay piece is rolled with Bermuda Bay ink. The Naturals Ivory piece features Bermuda "stamped off" leaf images from the "Kind and Caring Thoughts" hostess set. A piece of Very Vanilla Taffeta Ribbon graces the center.

Although it's hard to tell, this version uses Shimmery White cardstock, which always adds a classy touch. To further that theme, I added two narrow strips of the Groom Specialty Paper, a new addition to the catalog this year. It has glossy "embossed" swirls that coordinate so well with the "Wedding Sweet" stamps. This invitation measures 8-1/2" X 5-1/2", a good size if you need more space for your information. It could also work as a wedding program.

A 6" X 6" square version that also uses the Groom Specialty Paper, but traded the Shimmery White for Whisper White cardstock--

Lotsa flowers, a little Groom paper and the happy couple's names peeking out--

I gave it a shot without the Groom paper (and a different stamp), but personally like the little punch of "formal" the black paper adds--

This sample uses vellum cardstock to make a tri-fold wrap for the invitation information. The Bermuda Bay "belly band" is actually the white "Bride Specialty Paper" that has been colored with Bermuda Bay ink and a dauber, a cool way to get the design in any color you desire.

I stamped the inside card with a single image (baby wipe technique), but had a piece of cardstock stamped with an alternate design, just to show an option.

After showing these ideas, and a few others that I had in my files to the bride, we separated them into the yays and nays, tried this and that, chose the stamp set, switched the colors, added the information elements that were needed for this particular wedding, and came up with this A6-sized prototype:
It uses Whisper White cardstock, the Fifth Avenue Floral stamp set, and Real Red, Summer Sun and Lovely Lilac ink. The monogram stamps in the center of the card were just those I had in my retired collection and aren't quite right, but you get the idea.
Inside the invitation a flap folds up to make a pocket to hold the response postcard (that will be made using Summer Sun cardstock) as well as cards giving information on out-of-town guest accommodations, the reception and where the couple is registered.
The whole process is quite fun, and it's rather exciting knowing that the invitations are personalized down to the last detail. If you have a special event invitation you'd like me to help with, just let me know! My services are provided free of charge when you purchase all of your supplies for the invitations from me.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What sort of place has NO Wi-Fi??? Man!!

So, as the last Tuesday of July got closer, I kept compiling a list of things I could do to keep myself occupied for the whole day, so the day would go faster. (Yeah, I know, I'm usually wishing that time would stand still, but not on days like yesterday.) My husband needed to have yet another "tweak" to help alleviate his obstructive sleep apnea, and yesterday was "Tweak Day."

We've done this, oh, I don't know, three, maybe four times already, so I know the routine all too well. We walk into the Day Surgery area of the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, with plans to leave somewhere in the middle of the afternoon. Afterall, this is just "day surgery," right? Uh-huh. In the past, "day" has always turned into something more extensive so I now just clear my schedule for the week and create that list I talked about earlier.

Before I go on any further, I'm happy to report that procedures went more according to plan than during previous visits and we actually made it home before Tuesday turned into Wednesday. The patient seemed to have a good night and is becoming demanding, so we're pretty sure he'll live. He has a shoebox full of pain meds and a "prescription" for LeDuc's frozen custard shakes for the next week, since solid food and throat surgery aren't really a good combo, so he'll be fine.

But now, on to MY problem!! :-) One of the things that I thought I could do during all that time I had to just sit on my butt was update my blog. I loaded the pictures I wanted to share before we left for the hospital and thought I could pass some time clicking away on the keys of my laptop, and that would've worked great IF there had been even one spot on the whole hospital campus where I could've picked up an internet connection!! What reasonably-populated place on earth doesn't have wi-fi in this day and age?? I couldn't believe it! Yes, I had swaps that needed finishing and a book to read, but a little internet diversion would've added some nice variety to the ol' stand-bys. Oh well. . .

What I had to show you were the two projects that everyone did at my New Catalog Open House last Friday. The first one uses the new Ronald McDonald House benefit set called "Very Thankful." This little turtle is my favorite of the 4 stamps in the set:

The card pairs the new stamp set with new Designer Paper from the "Tall Tales" pack and the new jumbo wheel called, "Texture." The So Saffron card base is wheeled with "Texture" in So Saffron ink, and the turtle and his wagon are colored with Watercolor Crayons and a Blender Pen (and now that I look at the picture, it looks as though I need to go back and give him a little color boost!) Seems like I've been pulling out all the wider ribbon these days, but the 1/4" Grosgrain Ribbon (in Chocolate Chip) seemed to more appropriately fit the scale of the image.

The second of the Open House projects uses the new "Circle Circus" and "Teeny Tiny Wishes" stamp sets, yummy new In-Color paper and ribbon, and the "I'm gonna be using it constantly" Modern Label punch.
The card base is Melon Mambo, and the images were stamped in Melon Mambo, Bermuda Bay and Crushed Curry. It's not visible in the picture, but glitter was added to the stamped images, in the center of the Melon images, on some of the smaller Bermuda Bay circles, and on the larger Crushed Curry dots. It added just the right amount of sparkle to this cheery card. The sentiment was stamped in Bermuda Bay ink, punched out with the Word Window punch, layered onto a Melon Mambo Modern Label punch-out, and adhered to the Bermuda Bay polka dot ribbon with Mini Glue Dots.

Time to go check on the patient again, and do all the stuff around here that "didn't just take care of itself" while I was gone yesterday. (Why IS that???) Talk to you later!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

But I'm not OLD enough to have a 15 year old. . .

Or at least that's what my head is telling me! The rest of me, well, it's out there telling the world that I'm "18, with 31 years of experience," so yeah, I guess I AM old enough to have a 15 year old. Yikes! Why does it feel like she was just born last week? (Well, at least sometimes!)

So anyway, Tuesday was Melissa's big day, and as with most teens, their wishlists always seem to challenge the budget. She wanted some cool furniture and decor items for her room, and since they'd arrived weeks ago, there weren't going to be many ribbons or scraps of paper from birthday gifts flying around.

Because of this, I wanted to make her a memorable card to mark the occasion. I figured my newly-acquired Big Shot pop-up cake die would help me do that, and so I spent part of an afternoon creating. Of course, with this type of card, the outside always seems to be pretty ho-hum, because naturally, most of the efforts get concentrated on the cool pop-up stuff inside.

This is what the front of the card looked like. . .
I used the new Razzleberry Lemonade Designer Paper, new In Color inks, the scallop edge punch, and a couple other Big Shot dies on the front. You can also see a couple of little jewelry boxes that I adorned with more Designer Paper and those awesome In Color Polka-Dot grosgrain ribbons (because even if a girl has already gotten what she wanted for her birthday, there still needs to be a little somethin' to open on THE day, right?)

And when Melissa opened the card, this is what she saw. . .

I added a Bermuda Bay "plate" to the card before building the cake, used strips of the Razzleberry Lemonade for the sides of the cake, and of course, added 15 glittered candles all around the cake. (I love how the die cuts those!)

Then it came time to decide what the cake topper would be. As I stood in front of the shelves that store my stamps, almost as if it were divine intervention, the logo stamp that demonstrators received 5+ years ago to commemorate SU's 15th anniversary jumped out at me from the very back of the closet! How perfect!! And when will I have the chance to use it again??? I quickly stamped two of the images in Bermuda Bay, trimmed off the part at the top that said "Stampin' Up!" and I was set! Needless to say, I was thrilled, because usually those are the things that I think of doing 3 days after the occasion.

I "smuggled" the card and 2 little boxes into the restaurant Melissa had chosen for her birthday dinner and gave them to her after we had placed our order. I heard "appropriate" ooohs and aaahs from the whole table when she opened the card, and I saw a look on Melissa's face as if to say, "Oh, I'm KEEPING this card." For the record, I was given special permission to photograph her card so I could show you--and if I play my cards right, she may even let me display it at Open House tomorrow. Maybe. . .

Speaking of Open House, gotta run and go work on some treats to serve tomorrow. Goodies just make a stamping get-together all the more festive! Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Birthdays, Open House, swaps. . . and, oh yeah, MORE technology snafus. . .

I know it sounds like a broken record, but man, where do these weeks go??? What have I done in the more-than-a-week since I've been here???

The days all seem to blend together, BUT I'm happy to report that in the past few days I've experienced what will hopefully be my last computer change-over for at least a couple years AND I've finally found ALL the tabletops in my craft room--a very rare occurance!! I think my old brain has finally figured out yet another new photo editing program and ALL my little rubber stamp friends are back in their repective boxes! What a great feeling!! Of course, the calm, everything-in-its-place, peacefulness lasted about 5 minutes because, as usual, I have a long list of projects that need to be completed.

Both my mom and my daughter have birthdays in July, my New Catalog Open House is in two days, and I've signed up to do a few new-catalog swaps. So, not long after the wastebaskets got emptied, I was back making a mess! What fun, especially since I was using a lot of the new toys the UPS man has delivered in the past couple of weeks!

For my mom's birthday, I pulled the notes I had for making a "tri-shutter" card out of my "neat ideas to try" folder, decided to get my new "For All You Do" stamp set inky, took a deep breath, and got busy. Why is it we humans resist trying new stuff so much??? As usual, this different card design wasn't all that difficult, but it had been in that folder for a bit because I thought it was going to take too long or some darn thing. Once I got going, I had a great time putting it all together, and it really didn't take too long (if you subtract the time I spent admiring it!!!)

This is what the card looks like just "out of the envelope. . ."

And when opened, it looks like this. . .

It starts out as a piece of cardstock cut to 12" X 5-1/2" and then scored at 2", 4", 8" and 10". Next, two slits need to be made "connecting" the 2" score to the 10" score. The slits are 1-1/2" from the "top" and "bottom" of the card. This can be done using a craft knife, a cutting mat and a ruler, but I made super-quick work of this by using my Fiskars paper cutter with the orange blade. That cutter has always been my favorite whenever I have to cut something in the center of a piece of paper. It's easy to place the cardstock 1-1/2" into the cutter, and then "drop" the blade right on the point where the 2" score line starts. Pull all the way down until you get to the 10" score line, and then repeat for the other side. Got that?
Explaining the folding "ins and outs" could get even hairier than that explanation I just wrote up there, so I figured a top-view picture might be easier. . .
Once you have all the folding going in the right directions (which really, truly doesn't take that long once you pull that 12 X 12 piece of cardstock out the drawer!) the only thing left to do is to decorate it the way you want to.

There are lots of gorgeous samples out there on SCS and other places, most using two coordinating patterns of Designer Paper to decorate each of the areas. I didn't have any paper that worked in the color scheme I wanted, so I just stamped what I needed. I made myself a "template" of that "T" piece that is on either end of the card so that I can just trace it when I make another of these cards. I really think that the "T" pieces are necessary to help stabilize the card, since part of the "T" covers that middle score, but I've seen cards that didn't use it that seem to work too.

Some of the cards I looked at used 3D embellishments like flowers from the Pretties kit, Hodgepodge Hardware or other little charms. Since I was including a couple of gift cards in the design of my card, I didn't use anything but glitter and a little vellum for embellishing because I didn't want to add any more bulk.

The center section of the card is just the right size for a gift card pocket. After I cut the cardstock to fit the center section--but before gluing it in place-- I put the gift cards under it and used my bone folder to "score" around the sides and bottom of the gift cards so that they fit in the pocket more easily. I also used a circle punch to create the "thumb tab" or whatever it's called. I stamped the butterfly from the " For All You Do" set twice on the pocket, and then used the dotted stamp from that set and the "kissing" technique to stamp on vellum for the pop-up wings. I ended up cutting the vellum wings apart and adhering them separately because they looked less fake that way.

I was pretty pleased with the results, and with the fact that the card didn't take 3 weeks like my brain seemed convinced it would!! The card even arrived at my mom's ON her birthday!! Extra bonus!! (Hope you enjoyed your birthday, Mom--and that you don't mind that I'm sharing your card. Love you bunches!!)

Another project that had the potential of taking 3 weeks was the design of one of several swaps I need to get out in the next couple weeks. For this one I knew I wanted to use the new "Service & Sacrafice" stamp set and the coordinating jumbo wheel, "Hero." I was so excited to see that the new catalog had some very nice choices for making cards for our service men and women and their families.

The red, white and blue color scheme was a no-brainer, but now for the "3 week" part! What to do, what to do. . .? (This is also the part that renders my tabletops invisible in a hurry!) I stamped the little star and flag stamps from the set on some twill tape, some ribbon, and futzed around with punches like I always do, but wasn't happy until it hit me that the "baby wipe" technique would be perfect for the Hero wheel.

With this technique you are essentially creating your own custom stamp pad with reinkers and wipes. Just add the colors you want to a couple thicknesses of baby wipe, until you have what you need. Since I was using the jumbo wheel, I had to make my "stamp pad" rather large, but it's not always necessary. I rolled my images on glossy cardstock, and I had to clean my wheel after each of the 20 strips I needed to keep the colors true, but that might not always be necessary either, depending on your desired result.

After stamping the sentiment on glossy cardstock and punching it out with the Wide Oval Punch, I punched 2 more Wide Ovals from Brilliant Blue cardstock and adhered them to the back of the sentiment, layered that over Real Red 5/8" grosgrain ribbon and added gold brads. The Brilliant Blue cardstock at the top of the cards is stamped with little stars with Brilliant Blue ink. A simple design, but overall, I achieved the respectful look I was going for--and it didn't take 3 weeks!

Have some Open House prep to finish today--and it's raining, so hopefully it'll be easy to focus on staying indoors and getting to work! If you're in my area on Friday, hope you stop in! Hope to be back soon to share the birthday card I made for Melissa.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I just have to share this. . .

When I first started this blog, my intention was to reach customers who I might only see once or twice a year. Life is so busy and schedules sometimes just don't coincide, so I wanted a way to share little tips or ideas that could referenced anytime. I really didn't think about the possibility that people that I don't know would read it--but I've found that they do!! A truly unexpected-but-wonderful "side effect" of all my chattering here is that I hear from people that I've never met in person, and they sometimes share projects inspired by something I posted.

Lorree Bosworth sent me pictures of a fantastic pop-up card she made using the accordian-fold and window plastic strips method that I posted a couple of weeks ago after I showed my stamp clubs that technique. Just wait until you see it! Here's the front. . .

Now get ready, because it's just about the cutest thing I've ever seen . . .

She covered the accordian-fold with scallop circle punch bushes, created a woodland backdrop with stamped images from the "Season of Friendship" set, and colored the bear and raccoon (from the "Under the Stars" set) using watercolor pencils, an odorless mineral spirts product called Sansodor and paper blending stumps. (Of course, being the great enablers that all of us stampers are, I had to head right out and pick up those last two items so I could give it a try too! I'm going to need to play with it a little more before I get as good as Lorree.)

A big thanks to Lorree for letting me share her work here. I absolutely love it, don't you?

One other little thing to share today. . .

Seems that even if I'm not actually stamping, I'm still using stuff from my craft room for the other things I have to do around here. Was hanging a mirror last week, and I needed to mark EXACTLY where my screw had to start. What's better at poking a precise hole that a paper piercing tool? Now that they're available individually in the Stampin' Up! catalog (p. 191--yippee!) I have several of them, so I've designated the oldest one for such non-crafting purposes.

Another odd job on the list last week was finding a better way to hang the bell that the puppy uses to tell us she wants to go out. I wanted something that would sort of blend in with the woodwork. The new Dusty Durango 1/2" Polka-Dot Grosgrain Ribbon to the rescue!!!

It's kind of neat that these fun In Color ribbons only have the dots printed on one side--it's like two ribbons in one. I cut a few inches, folded the dots to the inside, and made quick work of the job! I LOVE stamping!

Hope you have a great day!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Okay, so this isn't stamping-related, or is it?

I promised awhile back to return and explain why I all of a sudden have a puppy to walk. (Adding yet one more thing that keeps me out of my craft room! And it's a stretch, but that's how I figure this post MAY be stamping-related.)

Somewhere in the middle of May, during a supper conversation, my son asked if we could take care of his orchestra teacher's puppy sometime during the summer while she was away. We haven't had a dog for several years, and I often hear about how everyone wants to get another dog, so I said that would be fine.

From what I could gather from my "who needs to pay attention to details?" son, it sounded like this puppy was going to visit at least a few houses during her "vacation." I thought that sounded a little strange, but after hearing that kids were clamoring to sign up for this opportunity, I didn't think much more about it because I thought our chances of actually seeing the puppy were pretty slim.

Fast forward to June, and news of the puppy arrangement surfaces again. The puppy is staying home and someone is going to stay at the teacher's house to take care of it. Okay, I have to admit, I might have been a little let down at hearing that news because I did think it might be fun to have a dog in the house again. Then, a couple of days into summer vacation, my son has a message on his phone: Could we still take the puppy? The house-sitter backed out.

Thinking back, I said "yes" without asking any questions at all! I had no information on how long the puppy would be here or how this was all going to work! But I said yes, and before we knew it, the laundry room was overwhelmed with puppy paraphernalia, and we were all sitting on the kitchen floor playing with Sydney.

She's an Australian Cattle Dog, about 3 1/2 months old now, and will be staying with us until the middle of August. I had never heard of this breed before, but interestingly enough, one of the four or so "parts" of the breed is Dalmatian and the dog we had was a Dalmatian. Sometimes the likeness to our dog is incredible, we find ourselves calling her "Maggie" instead of "Sydney!" She's as sweet as can be and remarkably good at staying in our yard. She still has her exasperating puppy moments, but then redeems herself by doing cute stuff, like this:

No, she wasn't in a parade, but it sure looks like it, huh? Crazy puppy!

Got a box of new goodies from the new catalog yesterday, in preparation for my New Catalog Open House on July 24th (11AM - 7 PM) and for the swaps I've signed up to participate in. Like always, it was just like Christmas slicing the tape on the box! Lots of fun, new stuff! Hope you can join me at the Open House later this month to see for yourself!

What, time for another walk? Here we go! Have a great day!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Lazy Days of Summer???

Ah, yes, it's been another crazy week or two around here. When does the "vacation" portion of the summer start??? But I can't really complain, because some of the hectic pace around here involved some stamping events, and that's always the fun kind of busy!

Last Friday night was the "Last Chance for Summer Fun" party (AKA the retirement party). We all laughed and stamped and ate, and laughed some more! The running joke was that we all needed some sort of intervention for this "addiction" of ours, but agreed that that wouldn't be happening anytime soon!

The annual retirement party is one of the two "mystery hostess" events that I hold during the year where the hostess benefits get raffled off at the end of the evening. We had a first in the history of the mystery parties I've given: EVERY SINGLE PERSON who attended the party won either a hostess stamp set or $30 in free product! How cool is that??? After the party, I asked Melissa, the "official ticket picker," if she had somehow worked it so that everyone won something, but she swears up and down on a stack of new catalogs that it's just the way it worked out! Very cool!

Anyway, so I mentioned that we did get around to stamping during this event. Would you like to see what we did? Read on!

The first project used the now-retired "Wonderful You" stamp set and coordinating "Stems & Silhouettes" jumbo wheel, and Pretty in Pink, Certainly Celery and Very Vanilla cardstock. The flower image was stamped on a scrap of vanilla cardstock with Basic Brown ink and colored in with a few strokes of a Regal Rose watercolor crayon and an Aquapainter. After cutting the flower out and adding it to the card with a Mini Glue Dot, another Mini Glue Dot was added to the center of the flower and covered with Micro Beads, just to give it a little shine and texture. Although this stamp set and wheel are now retired, you could easily substitute another set and create this same basic card. That's the great thing about stamping--it's so flexible!

This next project uses a background technique that was new to everyone. Called "Chalked Grid," it involves using daubers to add chalk circles (about the size of half dollars) to white cardstock. Then the white eraser that comes with the "Pastels" (chalk) set is used, along with a ruler, to remove lines of the chalk. To make the sample shown below I moved the the ruler about a half inch each time, but the grid squares could be larger or smaller, perhaps depending on the scale of your card.

The focal point of the card used the now-retired "Say It With Scallops" Ronald McDonald House Benefit stamp set. ($2 from each set sold throughout the year went to the RMH. The new set for this year is "Very Thankful," a nice selection of 4 thank-you stamps. Mine is coming on Monday! Yippee!!) The center image was stamped with Bashful Blue ink, layered onto a "Scallop Square" punchout, and dressed up a bit with a "Three for You" punched flower and a brad. An easy but cute card to send anytime!

Another stamping event that I held last week was an "Inter-Generational Tea" that a local church sponsored after one of the services last Sunday. About 35 people came for a little refreshment and stamping time. About a third of the stampers were children, and probably an equal number were grandmas! It was a delightful time as experienced stampers and those who had never touched a rubber stamp before came together for fellowship and a little crafting.

We did three different cards. Because of the diversity of the group, the projects were purposely kept simple. This first card is going to look remarkably familiar! I substituted Designer Paper for the chalked technique, and even eliminated the Scallop Square punchout, to make this project quick and simple for everyone.

Because almost everyone loves to color, I always try to include a project that provides that opportunity. This card uses the "A Flower for All Seasons" stamp set for its focal point. The stampers were able to choose which of the four stamps they would use on their card, and after stamping the image with Staz On ink, they used a blender pen and the chalks to add their color. (This card has a Whisper White card base, which I realize now is a little hard to see in the scan, but I have a puppy begging for a little outside time, so I'll just leave it for now--the scan, not the puppy! Puppy, you ask? When did we get a puppy? I'll have to explain that later. TOLD you it's been busy around here!)

(One more thing about this card--I had some experienced stampers in the crowd too, and was happy that even though we were doing simple stuff, I was able to show them a trick or two! They liked "my" foolproof way of adding ribbon to the card--add some double-stick adhesive to the back of the stamped piece. Wrap a 4" piece of ribbon around the front and catch it on the adhesive on the back. Tie another 4" piece of ribbon onto the first piece and trim the ends. Voila! Perfect "bow.")

For this third project (quickly because I really do need to take Sydney for a "w."), I broke out some of the luscious Melon Mambo cardstock and ribbon that is part of the new collection of In Colors for 2009-2010. Because we had so many stampers, I had them use one of two different butterfly stamps from the "Garden Whimsey" stamp set. They were able to choose from the boxes of greeting stamps I brought so that they could make a card for an occasion they had coming up. We added 2-Way Glue and Dazzling Diamonds glitter to the white butterfly spots for a sparkly extra.

So, gotta scoot for today, but I want to remind you about the upcoming New Catalog Open House I'm holding on Friday, July 24th, from 11 AM to 7 PM. I'll have lots of things from our new catalog out on display, door prizes, and as always, a couple projects for you to stamp with some of the new stuff. Free shipping and tax on any orders placed that day (either in-person or via email.) Let me know if you are coming and it'll earn you an extra door prize slip!
Have a great Fourth of July holiday!
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