Saturday, October 31, 2009

Peaceful Poinsettia Greenery

At first, I didn't like the branch of greenery that comes with Peaceful Poinsettia. It doesn't look like poinsettia leaves, and I didn't think it would be very pretty. I almost didn't use it, which would have been tragically stupid because it's a perfectly lovely image. So much for first impressions!

I am not sure about the threading water punch on this card, though. I think the MS lattice border, which I used so effectively here, would have been nicer. But it's not bad as is, and threading water does add excellent interest to CAS cards.

Rambling about Photos: I did dink with the color in Picasa a bit on this card and hope this doesn't look as blue as some of the cards I've posted lately. I tried shooting some pics yesterday (mostly overcast, but some sun got through!) and had some trouble with white looking blue again. I wonder if the sun has shifted enough that I need to change which window I shoot at, or if I need to add my Ott light to the sunlight to brighten things up a bit. Wish I had a south-facing window, but there's not a single window on the south side of my house. I'll keep fiddling.

stamps: PTI Peaceful Poinsettia, Signature Christmas
ink: SU garden green, Palette noir
paper: SU garden green, PTI white
accessories: threading water punch, red satin ribbon, dimensionals

Friday, October 30, 2009

Soothing Birthday Card

My family has a lot of October and November birthdays, and most are for women. For this card, I wanted to make a positive yet soothing birthday card for a relative who's going through a stupendously rough time.

I toyed with the idea of adding more chocolate to the area of the stars, but the blush blossom really is very relaxing, don't you think? Increasing the contrast with more chocolate or even some close to cocoa would have upped the energy of the card. As it is, the cinnamon VersaColor ink I used on the stars is slightly darker than the blush blossom, which gives a bit of dimension. The gemstones are perfectly understated as well. The chocolate sentiment does draw attention to the message, which is small and not overwhelming.

When you're making a card for someone specific, do you try to do something you think they would like/need/appreciate, or do you follow your Muse? My Muse likes this layout a lot, but she says this card is a tad boring in color. I'm ignoring her because my heart says it's the best for the recipient. Plenty of my cards aren't for someone specific--I've sent over 600 to the troops this year--so my Muse gets to do what she wants a lot.

Sometimes, it's all about the recipient. I hope this card gives her a hug. She needs as many as she can get.

Grady Update: For those who are interested, Grady is doing very well. He just needs to be able to regulate his body temperature, and he can go home! He's eating, sleeping, breathing, and fussing just like he ought to do. I got to hear him squeak on the phone! Babies make so many fun noises...and some not so fun, LOL! My sister is also recovering well. Thanks to all of you for the good wishes and prayers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Learning by Copying CAS Cards

Both of today's cards were directly inspired by CAS cards in magazines. All I really changed were colors and themes. Sometimes, I see cards that I totally WISH I'd thought of and just have to make my own! Here are two of them.

First, I basically copied the card above by Jen Del Muro that was published in an issue of Stamp It! Cards earlier this year. Jen is an incredibly versatile stamper who is as at home making a twelve-layer confection of a card as she is making a very CAS card.

Jen's card was a mother's day card in kiwi kiss, white, and black. Mine is a birthday card in blush blossom, white, and chocolate chip. What I loved about Jen's design is how she created a three-part rectangular base for the scalloped circle. (I wish I'd noticed how she runs her rectangle all the way to the edge of the card because it really looks nicer that way!)

She accented the thin white rectangle with the row of circles (she used brads, I used half-pearls). The scallops are repeated at the end of the base, tying the circle and rectangle neatly together. Scalloped BRILLIANCE!!!!

My second card was inspired by the totally awesome Tracy Durcan. She published this Merry Mittens card in Holiday Cards and More, Vol. 2, in 2007.

Her square card uses a scalloped circle stamp as a base for brown mittens with a little pink ribbon knot.

Obviously, I kept her exact layout and close to the same color scheme, just changing the theme and images. I don't have a scalloped circle stamp, so I created a mask with the SU scallop punch and sponged blush blossom ink onto the card. Since the idea of a ribbon on ice cream is icky, I popped my image up and added a bit of brown stickles for the sprinkles on the ice cream to add dimension and a bit of sparkle.

It's a lot of fun--and very stress-free--to make cards that are not "original." I believe we learn a lot from copying designs so directly. It allows us to get inside the designer's head and understand in a very tactile way how the design works. If we do this enough, we internalize those lessons and don't have to think so hard when we do sit down to make "original" work.

At least, that's what I think.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Celebrate the Season in Red and White

Oh. My. Gosh.

I have no idea where this came from. Last week, I just sat down and made it. Don't you love the way the border punch echoes the pointy poinsettias on top? Yeah, I did that on purpose.

It makes me happy. Oh. So. Happy.

I hope it makes you happy, too.

stamps: Peaceful Poinsettia, Take a Bough
ink: real red, Palette noir
paper: real red, PTI white
accessories: ribbon, button, floss, dimensionals, lattice border punch

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CAS38 Brads or Eyelets--Corrected

When I first saw this challenge, I realized that I haven't used many brads lately, so this was fun! I have hundreds of brads in my stash: big brads, little brads, round brads, square brads, matte brads, shiny brads, rhinestone brads, multicolored get the picture.

I chose to make a black and white Christmas card using the small snowflake from The Snowflake Spot set from StampinUp. The sentiment is from PTI's Silent Night. I punched out the snowflakes with a 1" circle punch, stuck a rhinestone brad in the center of each, and attached them over the sentiment with dimensionals. The ink was Palette Noir, and the paper is, of course, PTI white.

Simplicity Tip: Several people have asked me lately how I get such precise placement of items on my cards. Sometimes, I will place a clear ruler down on the card to get placement precise, especially if I'm working on a single line of items. Usually, however, I eye-ball it, but there are a few things I do to help get the eyeballing right. (I think I just made up the word eyeballing, but it sounds kinda dirty, doesn't it? Or is it just the gutter-minded English major in me sneaking out?)

Anywho, back to lining stuff up. First, I work on a giant green quilting/cutting mat that has a one-inch grid marked on it. I center up the card on the grid and place all the elements for the card where I want them using the grid for reference, adjusting as needed until each element is where it needs to be.

Then, I remove ONE element, put a dimensional or glue on it, and using TWEEZERS, place it back where it belongs. Because everything else is still in place, it's easier to get placement of each piece right. Tweezers allow me to work with small objects very precisely without messing up the other, laid-down elements on the card. Then I attach each other piece until everything is stuck on, and I'm done.

I hope this helps. It's much easier to do than to describe!

Edited to correct size of punch!

Monday, October 26, 2009

CAS-ification of a Card by Suzanne Czosek

Yesterday's CAS-ification was all about stripping multiple embellishments off highly embellished card while still preserving the layout. Today's inspiration piece is by Suzanne Czosek and was published in Crafts 'n Things, December 2009. Suzanne's lovely card isn't "over the top" at all, so CAS-ifying it was pretty straightforward. Today's make-over is more about style.

My card is smaller, a 4.25" square. I substituted a white card base and a linen-like Chatterbox patterened paper on top, which allowed me to easily eliminate the tag/sentiment and move the sentiment to the bottom right corner...necessary to balance my simplified version. I also switched the border punch from the pretty lace punch she used to a simple dotted wave.

The result is a totally different look. Where Suzanne's card is warm and cozy and shabby chic, my make-over is crisp and bright and graphic.

So just because you look through a magazine and don't see anything that's your "style," remember that you can still get huge inspiration from other styles when you look for a solid base of good design and start substituting product and colors you love.

stamps: PTI Signature Christmas
ink: Versacolor
paper: PTI white, Chatterbox
accessories: edge punch, ribbon

Sunday, October 25, 2009

CAS-ification of a Card by Sharon Laakkonen

Here's a card by Sharon Laakkonen published in the July/August issue of Papercrafts Magazine.

Wow, there is a LOT going on here with texture, pattern, bling, shape, and dimension. Note how she fixed the top of the panel to the card base but popped the bottom. That is so cool and I'm going to try that on a later card. Also, see how she tucked some flowers UNDER the panel. So clever!

The basic layout of Sharon's card is really neat, and I thought it would translate well to CAS. Besides, I wanted to make a different sort of baby card for little Grady. Here's what I came up with.

I love this color combo for a baby's fresh and cheerful and happy! All the white really makes the bold bright colors pop without hurting my eyes.

Hmmm. Seeing the card in a photo, however, I think I need another flower on the bottom right corner for balance. Originally, I had only two in the upper corner, but added a third because it looked...odd. The flowers, I think, are just a tad small for all that white space. Now the balance is a bit off, but not bad. I'll add another before dropping it in the mail.

To give the dots an orange background, I traced the curves onto a piece of only orange cardstock and cut slightly inside the line. I glued that cut piece to the back of the white panel, and voila! Orange dots.

stamps: PTI
ink: only orange, Palette noir
paper: PTI white, only orange
accessories: brads, Prima flowers, border punch, dimensionals, rick-rack

Saturday, October 24, 2009

PTI Set Winners

The number generator spit out #44 and #1, so the winners are

Natasha, who said,

Woops, I forgot to post which stamp set I prefer.(though I really love ALL stamps). Year-round puns would go great on my cards. Thank you! I am inspired by your simplicity!!

and Lauralee, who said,

Absolutely!! I have two kreate-envelopes both the same size. I was pretty sure I had one when I saw it demo'ed but now I realize that I have two!!

Natasha will receive Year-Round Puns and Lauralee will receive Pond Life Sentiments! Ladies, please email me your addresses so I can send out your sets!

First Two Holiday Reader Kits

As I said in this post, I'm making kits for Christmas gifts this year. Here is one for my uncle Herb. For once, I genuinely enjoyed doing a dude project, using semi-Christmas-y images of pine cones and boughs from Fantastic Foliage, an old StampinUp set that I will never let go. First, let's see the card, which has an insert (undecorated so I can write a personal message) to hold a Barnes & Noble gift card.

The slits for the card were made with an SU punch, and I glued the vintage cream piece inside the card after punching and rounding the corners. The only reason why I rounded the corners was that the corners of the gift card will be rounded.

Obviously, for the main border, I randomly stamped the images in avocado and close to cocoa, off-stamping to create a bit of depth, and going over the finished pieces with the SU bitty background (is that the name?) stamp with creamy caramel. Then I inked the edges in creamy caramel using a sponge. I continued this technique for two toppers and two bookmarks.

I added the sentiment in chocolate chip after I made these because I felt that they really needed a focal point with all that randomness. Hence, the different placement on the two bookmarks since a dark pinecone blocked the choice spot on one of them. The snack mix is a commercial Tex Mex mix I bought at Kroger. Herb likes hot and spicy food, and it's fun to munch while reading.

My aunt Sylvia loves all things Celtic, so I made her kit with a Celtic theme. Her card includes edging with a gold pen, gold-embossed sentiment, and the same insert as Herb's card for a gift card.

Her kit is a bit more diverse, because I included a drink (Russian Tea mix in individual servings) and Avery-address-label-wrapped Hershey's Nuggets. (Herb's favorite drink is beer, which won't fit in any of the bags I have, so he will have to supply it himself, LOL!)

Notice her bookmarks. I stamped Sylvia's name in a stylized way that evokes the odd letter arrangements in the Book of Kells. The toppers are very simple, with a single stamped image cut out and glued flat onto the toppers.

It bothers me that the Avery labels are white and the toppers are vintage cream, so here's a...

Simplicity Tip: If you're planning a kit using wrapped nuggets, remember to use white as your neutral.

Here's my Russian Tea recipe, from the Kitchen of my friend Claire Leivestad.

2 cups sugar
1 tsp cloves
2+ tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups instant tea (no sugar or lemon)
2 cups Tang
1 1/4 cups powdered lemonade

Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Mix about 4 tsp in a cup of hot water. Enjoy!

Note: I make mine with decaf tea so people can enjoy it anytime.

Supplies for Pine Set
stamps: SU Fantastic Foliage, background; PTI sentiments
ink: artichoke, creamy caramel, close to cocoa, chocolate chip
paper: artichoke, chocolate chip, PTI vintage cream
accessories: sponge, staples, cello bags, pre-made tassles

Supplies for Celtic Set
stamps: unknown
ink: VersaColor burgundy and evergreen; Colorbox gold pigment ink
paper: bravo burgundy, vintage cream
accessories: gold embossing powder, staples, gold pen, pre-made tassles, cello bags, small zip bags (for the tea)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sleigh Bells Ring: Lateblossom Goes a Bit Rustic

I was poking around in my photo files and found this one that I made for CAS26 Stitching and forgot to post. It's a very straight-forward card with faux stitching (Hero Arts) and an awesome button with a divet in the center so the ribbon knot doesn't add bulk at all.

It's a bit rustic (and dark) for my usual style, but I like the warmth it conveys despite the snowy scene.

For a new picture of Grady and an update on his progress, please visit today's post on my other blog, Questioning my Intelligence.

stamps: SU Sleigh Bells Ring, Hero Arts faux stitch
ink: PTI vintage cream, SU bravo burgundy
cardstock: bravo burgundy, very vanilla, PTI kraft
accessories: button, dimensionals

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Make Your Own Happiness

I was feeling particularly minimalist when I made this card with just two stamps from Hero Arts. It's totally flat, not an embellishment to be seen, not even a half bead or pearl or rhinestone. The card is standard, PTI white base and I didn't even round the corners. There's absolutely nothing "special" about it. So why do I love it so much?

Three reasons. One: it's simple and clean. (Bet you did NOT see that coming!) Two: the branch flows across the card to the sentiment gracefully. Three: the sentiment makes me smile because I truly believe that doing what you love is the greatest source of happiness. Happiness ought to be a verb.

I challenge you to make your own happiness today. Then, share that happiness with someone else. Because happiness is like love: the more you give it away, the more you have.

And speaking of giving away, don't forget to enter the PTI set give-away here. The deadline is Friday at 9:00 PM EDST.

BABY UPDATE: Little Grady is doing well, though occasionally the doctors have to give him a little extra oxygen. Tomorrow, I'll have more photos up on my Questioning blog (see sidebar for link). My sister is also doing well and wanted me to tell you all how appreciative she is of your prayers and good wishes. She feels a peace about the whole experience that isn't normal for her...she'd usually be freaking out! She credits everyone's prayers for her unusual calm. Thank you.

A Couple of Give-Aways!

My friend Sue from South Carolina sent me a couple of small PTI sets to give away. Seems she bought more than she needed. The sets are:

1. Year-Round Puns

2. Pond Life Sentiments

All you have to do to win one of these is to tell me whether you've ever bought something craft-related that you already had (I have, but not recently!) and which of the two sets you would prefer. Two winners will be drawn at random.

Drawings will end Friday, October 23, 2009, at 9:00 pm EDST. Only one entry per person, please.

A Few Autumn Cards

Must. Take. Break. From. Christmas.

Ahhhh. Pumpkin. Rust. Chocolate. Mustard. I'd forgotten what you looked like.

Simplicity Tip: When you are overlapping a cardstock border with ribbon as I did above, DO NOT put tape on the back of the ribbon on the front of the card. Unsightly bulges result. Tape it firmly inside the card. No one cares if ribbon wraps to the inside. NO ONE!

If I tell myself that often enough, maybe I will start to believe it.

All I have to say about the second card is this: sometimes, you gotta pop a card for all it's worth and just add extra postage. I popped this one and have no regrets.

stamps: Fall Elegance, First Fruits
ink: PTI vintage white, SU pumpkin pie, VersaMagic brown, pumpkin
paper: SU pumpkin pie, more mustard, really rust, PTI vintage cream
accessories: rhinestones, ribbon, dimensionals, Fiskars threaded water punch, corner rounder

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Baby Grady ***edited***

Welcome to the world, Grady!

Edited to Add: Thanks so much, everyone! Your stories of happy outcomes for preemies are so inspiring and uplifting. And Kay, I'm a sucker for baby tootsies, too. I can't wait to see him and play with his piggies myself!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Circles on My Cards Make Me Happyyyyy...

They're as good as sunshine on my shoulders.

Here are two more of my cards using PTI's Peaceful Poinsettia using the smaller poinsettia images. I really enjoy cards with circles lined up on them. It's such a clean way of presenting images, don't you think? Especially when those images have lots of pointy petals for contrast.

First up is the gable green card base. I used to hate gable green, but, as with so many colors I have hated, I got over it. I used the outline poinsettias because the solid poinsettias overpowered the lighter green base.

Here's the red base version. I used the solid poinsettias because the green is so light in comparison to the red.

Which do you like best?

I prefer the gable green base because the red base seems overpowering for the green poinsettias to my eye, despite the fact they're solid images. The pint of red, gallon of green works better than pint of green, gallon of red. I have no idea just seems that way to me. If you feel differently, please share in the comments. Curious minds want to know.

Plus who ever heard of lime-green poinsettias? That just ain't right. (Say the previous sentence out loud with a slow, drawling Southern accent. Isn't that fun?!? Just like egregious punctuation!!!) Actually, when I planned this card, I was thinking that white poinsettias often seem to have a tinge of green, but the lime is too, too green.

Baby Update: Many, many thanks to all who have sent good wishes and prayers for my sister and her baby. There simply aren't words to express the depth of my gratitude. Little Grady was having some trouble breathing late yesterday, but the doctors were doing something to help that. I just hate not being there to know details! Since my mom didn't call me late last night after her hospital visit, I'm assuming he's doing better. These tiny babies are so fragile and helpless in so many ways, but in other ways they are incredibly strong. Be strong, Grady!

Prayer Request Update

Grady is in the NICU and breathing with just a nasal canula of forced air, which is wonderful. He weighs 4lb, 11oz and measures 16.5 inches. Lisa is doing well, and she says he is beautiful.

The doctors expect Grady to spent 2-4 weeks in NICU before going home.

Many, many thanks for all the prayers and good wishes. I will keep you posted with any new news as it comes my way.

Please continue to lift them up!

Prayer Request

This is an urgent prayer request for my sister Lisa and her baby Grady. They are on the way to the hospital right now to have a C-section at just 33.5 weeks. Her amniotic fluid is too low and the baby's environment has deteriorated, so they have to take him now. Lisa did have the steroid injections last week to mature his lungs more quickly "just in case" and "in case" has happened.

Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers this week as Lisa recovers and as little Grady gets an unexpectedly early start in life. I will keep you all posted.

Thanks in advance for your prayers!

Peaceful Poinsettia, Take One

I played around with Papertrey's Peaceful Poinsettia for the first time last week and made a bunch of cards with it.

Does anyone else buy a set on impulse, and then stare at it for weeks wondering, "Well, now what? Why the heck did I buy this set?" Then, do you work with it and realize, "Wow, I am so smart to have bought this"? That's what happened with me and this set. Temporary buyer's remorse, followed by great joy.

Here's the first card, and my first with Copic coloring on it.

That's right, I used COPICS! Yes, yes, I hear you shouting: "OH MY GOSH SHE SAID SHE WOULD NEVER BUY THEM!!!! SHE LIED!"

No, I didn't lie. I won these three as blog candy, and it would be morally wrong not to use them. I could probably have blended a bit better in places, but oh well, I'm hopelessly lazy. I got it good enough for government work and quit.

Government work isn't so bad, is it?

I'll say that the Copics do work better than the Sharpies and Bic Mark-Its for blending, perhaps because that is what they are made to do. So for those of you who have more patience than I do, Copics might actually be worth the money. But DH has informed me that he would kill me if I spent hundreds of dollars on markers.

Given our fiscal priorities at this time, it'd be justifiable homicide. I'd do the same to him if he spent $1,000 on handlebars for his triathlon bike. Fair is fair.

Anywho, I really, really like this card. A lot. I stamped the large outline poinsettia on scrap PTI white in palette noir and colored it with the Copics using the "I don't know what I'm doing but I'll keep adding color until it looks okay" method, which was remarkably successful, all things considered.

Then I cut it out, which was easier after I started using a craft knife rather than scissors. Next, I tried stamping a sentiment on the twill, which is a rather stiff nylon that lays nicely and cuts cleanly but does NOT take ink well. After trying three different inks, I gave up and went sentiment-less.

The half-beads in the center of the poinsettia are totally fab and fit perfectly in the circles of the image. Yeah!

The poinsettia is popped with dimensionals.

Do you like it? Do you have your own feelings about Copics? Care to share them in the comments, please? I'm dying to hear if I'm the only person strong enough to resist these beauties. 'Cause I am resisting, and it isn't even hard.

stamps: PTI Peaceful Poinsettia
ink: Palette noir
cardstock: PTI white
accessories: green twill, dimensionals, small gold half-beads (Hobby Lobby)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

An Unusual Christmas Card

This card is a joke...literally. Can you figure it out?

Look at the letters. There are 25. Which one is missing?

There's NO __! Say it out loud. Can you hear the joke? Scroll down....












The idea for this card comes from old-fashioned printers' holiday cards. Printers set type to print alphabet sample sheets without the L and sent the sheets to other printers for Christmas. Several years ago at the Maryland Renaissance festival, I purchased a framed No L alphabet that was printed on a replica of the Guttenburg Press.

BTW, it was fascinating to see the craftsman, in period costume, print a sheet on the press. We are so spoiled with ink jet printers and laser printers and copy machines. Printing used to be hard work!

Writer/editor geeks like myself love all things typographical, so this card is destined for a writer/editor friend of mine who will TOTALLY get the joke and love it just like I do.

If you want to try your own No L alphabet, consider using your computer to design it and printing it off. As a general rule, I don't print things for my cards (a personal hang-up I don't expect anyone else to share), but it would be a great way to eliminate the tedious stamping required. Or just go find cool alphabet stickers like I did.

About the card: It's 5 x 7 to accommodate the large size of the alphabet square. The colors are old olive and pomegranite, which perfectly match the funky K & Company stickers. I had a selection of colors for most of the letters, so I tried to arrange the colors somewhat randomly. This is fun, but I'm going to try stamping instead to get all the same color and see how that works. Stamping all 25 letters might be a pain, though. I'll let you know!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: SU purely pomegranite
paper: PTI white, SU pomegranite and old olive
accessories: letter stickers (K & Co), ribbon, dimensionals

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ode to Holly

In keeping with Thursday's post of CAS scrumptiousness, here's an Ode to Holly. It's not quite as dramatic as the Ode to Mistletoe, but oh my golly it's jolly, don't you think?

stamps: PTI Signature Christmas
ink: real red
paper: PTI white, Hobby Lobby green textured
accessories: holly punch, red rhinestones

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Craft Room, Part 2

Since I can't possibly follow yesterday's delicious CASness with anything close to that perfect, today we're looking at my work area. This way, when you see my Ode to Holly card, you won't think, "Awwww, poor thing! She's really lost her touch." Instead, you will think, "Thank god she's posting a card!"

I'm a strategic blogger that way.

As you might suspect, I have a lot of ink, all of which is stored in Sterilite drawers in two towers on either side of my very large plastic folding table. Here's the left tower.

I store my frequently used supplies (glues and tapes, scrap paper, cut card bases, post-its and masks) here. The bottom drawer is a place to put projects when I get stuck. I put them away and will go back to them later and either throw them away, recycle them, or finish them.

Memories and Ancient Page inks are stored in the middle three drawers. These inks are sort of weird but I bought a bunch of them very early in my stamping career, before I knew better, and virtually all of them are still juicy seven years later, so I can't complain. They are archival, waterproof dye inks, which makes them perfect for stamping on scrapbook pages. But I CANNOT watercolor with them...the whole waterproof thing gets in the way for me. They also don't work with clear stamps very well.

The right tower is totally dedicated to inks. Stacked on top are Colorbox pigment inks (barely visible). The next three drawers are VersaColor, VersaMagic, Brilliance, and Colorbox chalk inks. These are all great inks for stamping with clear stamps, and all but the Colorbox chalk inks are archival and thus safe for scrapping. I have a lot of these in small pads (dew drops, cubes, cat eyes) which are great for rocking and rolling.

The next five drawers down are StampinUp inks. I have most of the 48 colors, some neutrals and in colors, and a pad of craft white. SU classic ink isn't archival or waterproof, but it is great for watercoloring and coordinating with the SU paper. The bottom drawer holds black and chocolate inks (Palette, StazOn, VersaColor, Memento), spectrum pads, and odd-ball inks that don't belong anyplace else.

I counted once. I have close to three hundred pads, large and small. I'm not going to think about that fact. Ever.

The rest of my workspace looks like this:

The shelf has my ribbon jars (which lately haven't seen much use but will come around again, I assure you). I don't wrap my ribbon around clothespins or anything. I just wrap it neatly around my fingers and shove it in. It's never tangled (I do clean them out a couple times a year), I can see what I have at a glance, and it looks so pretty, doesn't it?

The two photo boxes behind the ribbon hold narrow satin rolls, sheer rolls, and miscellaneous "specialty" ribbon, as well as needles for sewing buttons and book binding and such.

I stack my quilting rulers on the left, along with a little index of all my inks and punches. The yellow, orange, and green flower pots hold pens, small tools, and scissors. Aren't they the cutest! Those colors will cheer me up this winter for sure, and the pots were only 50 cents a piece on sale at Hobby Lobby. I couldn't NOT buy them.

The white tray holds my acrylic blocks and Making Memories magnetic stamp handles. Those MM magnetic stamps seemed like such a good idea at the time, but in truth, they are a pain in my tookus. Don't buy them unless you are really, really patient. I really should move those off my desk. Haven't used them in a couple of years.

The baby wipe tote holds a damp washcloth for cleaning stamps, and under it is my Ultra clean stamp cleaning pad for stubborn stains.

That sounds like a laundry detergent commercial.

The small stack of six drawers on the right holds archival pens for scrapbooking, such as Zig writers and Micron pens, sorted by color. Of course, my SU markers are on top of that, along side a flower pot that holds...drum roll please...deco scissors. Yes, I've kept them and am not afraid to use them!

Please feel free to ask questions about anything you see in these pictures that I've not covered or that you want to see more closely. I've been stamping for close to eight years now, and that's a lot of time to collect and develop quirky ways to do things. Next time we visit my craft room, I show you what all's under the desk. Woohoo! Bet you can't wait!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Punch Drunk

As I looked through the last four years of Holiday Cards magazines, I realized that I hadn't used many punches this year. So I pulled out my fun fern punch and got jiggy with it.

Let's call this card Ode to Mistletoe.

Happy sigh.

Let's call this card Ode to Boughs and Berries. Just because we can.

Another happy sigh.

Be still, my heart! Look at all that glorious white space. Revel in the cleanness of these two cards, the crispness, the simplicity, the dimension, the bling, the Signature Christmas sentiments that I love so much!!!!!!!!!

Punch drunk. That's what I am. Care to join me?

Simplicity Tip: Add dimension to punched shapes by gluing only the center of the punched shape down, then use a butter knife or other flat, dull tool to lift the edges. I used a photo removing tool from Creative Memories. It's sort of a spatula for removing photos from nasty magnetic albums. But a butter knife would work just as well.

stamps: PTI Signature Christmas
ink: Palette noir
paper: PTI white; two shades of green textured from HL
accessories: fern punch, glue pen, rhinestones, half pearls

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

FTL63 A Blue Christmas and a Glitter Winner

Please note on your calendar that LateBlossom used FIVE layers on one card. Will wonders never cease?

Using the Clean and Simple Blog's FTL63 again. The snowflakes are rock-and-rolled with VersaColor cyan and royal blue. I chose to put large rhinestones on only the three big snowflakes to form a visual triangle. Hopefully, this sort of stabilizes the busyness of those bold, two-toned flakes.

I punched a flake to put next to the sentiment, as per the sketch, but it just cluttered the card up in a way the button didn't on the middle card in this post.

Wow, that was an awkward sentence. Sorry. Hopefully the card's dazzling beauty makes up for it. *wink*

The winner of the glitter is Megan NZ, number 19 of 40! She wrote,

I like the middle one to me it looks like designer paper but more importantly a big cozy quilt to snuggle under on a cold night.

Congratulations, Megan! Please send me your snail mail address so I can send out your glitter!

She was definitely in the minority in favoring Card #2. Card #3 was the winner by a landslide, which goes to show that most of you come here for true CAS cards. Speaking of which...I have a few uber-CAS cards to share tomorrow, so stay tuned!

stamps: PTI Snowflake Serenade, Silent Night
ink: VersaColor
cardstock: PTI white; SU brilliant blue
accessories: dimensionals, rhinestones

Scor-Tape and Glitter, Oh My!

I won a roll of Scor-Tape in some candy from Susie's blog last summer (Thanks, Susie!) and finally pulled it out to play. OH. MY. GOSH. It's easier to work with than I thought it would be (much easier than the "red" tape), and it holds glitter beautifully.

To edge the stamped panel, I cut a piece of tape slightly larger than a long side of the panel. This way, I could handle the ends of the piece but not compromise the stickiness. I placed the first piece down and then cut both ends flush with the paper. Then I lined up one edge of the second piece of tape with the previously stuck-down piece, cut off the extra at the end, and continued this all the way around until the last piece. Of course, I couldn't overlap the pieces, so I used a sharp craft knife to carefully slice the last piece flush with the first piece.

Hope this makes sense. It's harder to describe it than to do it, LOL!

At one point, my tape didn't go down quite right, and because I hadn't firmly pressed it down yet, I was able to pull it up and move it to the right alignment. You can't do that with red tape.

Then I peeled the backing off, sprinkled on white glitter, smoothed it down with my finger, and shook off the excess.

The star was punched and glued down, then I used a glue pen to apply the glitter to it.

I wanted to add a sentiment but couldn't figure where to put it. After a bit of thought, I decided we don't need no stinkin' sentiment. The bling says it all.

And that's all I have to say about that.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: garden green
paper: PTI white
accessories: Scor-Tape, glitter (Doodlebug)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Christmas Gift Giving Inspiration

This magazine is a genius. Well, more properly, Nichole LaRue is a genius. 101 Hip, Handmade Gifts was a special issue of Creating Keepsakes magazine a while back, and it's brilliant.

Basically, LaRue takes the idea of a kit/bucket of related items, all prettily presented in coordinating individual packaging. I've used this idea several times for birthday gifts, but this year, it's the basis of my Christmas gift giving to extended family and friends whom I want to acknowledge with something extra special yet inexpensive. All my craft supplies ought to be good for something.

It doesn't look like back issues of the magazine are available at CK's website (you might find some on the bay), but you can see the downloads here for ideas. I've never used a downloaded image before and am not starting now, but inspiration is inspiration, people. I'll take it from wherever I can!

Over the next few months, I'll be posting my Christmas gift kits. As you already know if you've been reading Simplicity for a while, I generally loathe mass production so there will be lots of different ideas and variations on a theme, and I hope you find something you can put to good use for this holiday season or include in your plan for next year!

A few kits I'm considering include:

Christmas decorations/tags/checklists (definitely doing some of these)

Reader kit (bookmarks, book plates, tea, gift card holder, post-it flags)

Coffee/cocoa party kit (individual servings and accessories, shortbread)

S'mores in winter kit (all ingredients with instructions for making them in the microwave...great kid idea)

Holiday Treat Box (holiday candy and other eatables, individually packaged--esp. for G's grandmother in assisted living)

Writer kit (blank books made with BIA, pencils, sharpener, etc.)

I'm making the kits that have to be mailed small enough to fit into a small Priority Mail Box. Since all of our family and most of our friends are far away, our postage budget at the holidays can get outrageous. Keeping the kits small should allow me to keep postal spending reasonable.

Part of Simplicity is keeping things organized. On the one hand, making all these personalized kits may seem crazy. But with good organization and planning, this undertaking will be manageable.

We'll see if I'm so optimistic by the first week of December.

If you have any ideas for kits, feel free to share them in the comments on this post. What a wonderful resource the comments will be if everyone throws in their $0.02!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quilter's Sampler Samples and a Give Away

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law have birthdays this month. MIL quilts, and SIL likes quilts, so I pulled out PTI's Quilter's Sampler set to make some cards.

I started with Old Rose and Khaki VersaColor inks, and added a bit of SU's Close to Cocoa as needed. I like the soft colors after all the rich fall colors I've been using lately. The cardstock is from PTI (not sure the name of the pink, though).

I made this one first and wasn't sure about the popping. Quilts, after all, aren't popped. The stitch stamp is from PTI's Faux Ribbon set, and the sentiment is from Birthday Basics. And see, it's a 3x3 grid, not 2x2, so I'm keepin' my promise. (Insert maniacal laugh!)

I like this one better. It's the recent Fall To Layout from the totally rockin' Clean and Simple Blog. Aligning all the quilt blocks was a pain, and you can see a few places that I bobbled. But the overall effect is pleasing to me, and I like the flatness of the quilt panel with the popping of the sentiment and the dimension of the button. This is a layout I will definitely use again.

Finally, a really clean and simple card and, of course, my favorite of the three. To make placement easier, I stamped the quilt blocks on scrap paper and punched them out with the coordinating 3/4" square punch. Then I could align them quite easily using a clear quilting ruler. Once the squares were glued down flat, I stamped the sentiment (another from PTI Birthday Basics).

Now for the give-away. I've got a selection of loose glitter and a few little miscellaneous goodies from my last purge ready to send out. All you have to do for a chance to win is tell me which of the three quilter cards you like best and why. Yes, I'm shamelessly fishing for compliments, but I'm feeling hormonally insecure at the moment. I'm sure you understand.

Comments will close on Tuesday, October 13, 2009, at 9:47 pm EDST. Only one entry per person, please. Winner will be selected at random using an online random number generator.

Postscript I will have another give-away of a couple of small PTI sets courtesy of my friend Sue in South Carolina. Look for it toward the end of the week!

A Totally Different Love

Yesterday's love was retro 70s; today's is, well, I don't know what to call it. Colorful? Dotty? Weird? I'm just not sure about this one (which is, I swear, the last 2x2 grid I'll throw at you for at least a month, cross my heart).

The large dot stamp is from Hero Arts, one part of a quatro set that I don't think I've ever used before. The same set has a wonderful small dot square that is fab and very, very useful, but the larger dots make me purse my lips. Not sure why. The letters are stickers to get max coverage over the teal ink especially. I wish I had a cleaner, crisper font to use here, as these letters don't quite fit the crispness of the dots.

I am NOT going sticker shopping. Just say, "NO," Susan. Just say, "No." Be strong.

Tomorrow's cards will go in a different direction...still squares, oddly enough, but totally different feel from these more mod designs. Intrigued? Hope so!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

All You Need Is Love...

Taking Donelda's inspiration another step here. This simple one-layer card uses some 70's colors (burnt orange and an avocado-y green) and a mod stamp set from Hero Arts. The sentiment is from PTI's Mixed Messages set.

This Hero Arts set has me baffled. I've tried to use it several times and this is honestly my favorite card with them yet. They seemed like such a great idea when I bought them....

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Inspired by Donelda Again

Donelda (wiggydl at SCS) has a wonderful CAS style that often inspires me, most recently with this card.

I found these squares of Basic Gray Christmas paper in my punch scrap container. The sentiment is by Hero Arts and is perfectly sized to balance the busyness of the patterns.

Then I decided to try plain ol' cardstock with this layout to make a masculine get well card. It's definitely on the plain side, but those colors together really do say "dude" to me.

This sentiment, also by Hero Arts, is so useful. What sentiment do you use with very elderly or chronically sick people? "Get Well Soon" seems sort of falsely hopeful and bossy, like they have a choice in the matter and you're totally over them being sick. "Take good care" seems warmer and more huggy, like saying "do the best you can." Of course, "Thinking of You" is always appropriate for the recipient, but sometimes I get bored with it.

Do you have a favorite sentiment for cards in these cases? Please share!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One-Hole Knot Tutorial by LeAnne

Several people have asked about the stay-put ribbon I used on my pesky Monogram Card #2. Here's the scoop. The advantages to the stay-put, one-hole knot ribbons are:

1) they stay put and don't move around as you move cards in and out of envelopes, and

2) they are flatter than regular ribbon knots, which makes them easier to mail.

The only disadvantage: if you decide you don't want a ribbon on your card after all, you're just out of luck. There's a HOLE needed in the one-hole knot technique. Once you punch a hole, it's there forever. You have to be COMMITTED to the ribbon.

Or you can accept that it's just paper and if you screw it up, the world won't come to an end. It can help to say this out loud to yourself. I do.

I learned this knot technique from LeAnne Pugliese's blog HERE. Her tutorial is wonderful (as is the rest of her blog). This technique is pretty slick, and once you've done it a time or two, it's easy.

Happy knotting!

I'm not obsessive. I'm not obsessive. I'm not obsessive....

Nope. Nu-uh. Never.

So, like, you know, last night I couldn't sleep because SOMEONE commented on this card and said, like, wow, you could so TOTALLY use different colors and get, you know, TOTALLY different looks. Her comment planted a seed in my brain that, you know, TOTALLY grew into a clinging vine of obsession insomnia until I had made, like, 6 cards and sorted scraps for two more and could finally, like, you know, go to SLEEP!

You know, I TOTALLY had three mochas for breakfast to bring out my inner Valley Girl. I'm like TOTALLY not going to sleep tonight either.

And no, I am not obsessed. Shame on you for even, you know, THINKING it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Inspiration Everywhere

So, this card came after doing several cards a la Donelda's here (will show those soon) AND seeing a scrapbook layout in the latest Creating Keepsakes Magazine that used squares with alternating rounded corners to make stylized leaves on a fall layout. I decided my colors and the close arrangement of the squares looked more like a flower than leaves, so I added the half-bead to bring the whole thing together. The sentiment is from PTI's First Fruits.

Oh. My. Gosh. Simple and pretty and clean. I just love it when ideas from multiple sources form a harmonious new beauty. It fills me with gratitude.

Have a grateful day!

stamps: PTI First Fruits
ink: SU chocolate chip
paper: PTI vintage cream, SU really rust and pumpkin pie
accessories: square punch (1.25"), corner rounder, large half bead