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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