a study in Calypso Coral and Gray

After so much Christmas work, I needed a color break! Enter a combination I have never used before--Calypso Coral and Gray.



christmas cards

For the past three weeks, I have been happily creating Christmas cards for an arts and crafts faire I attended as a vendor last Saturday. I made about 170 cards to sell...something I have never done before.
That, my friends, is a load of cards.
I have a difficult time with repetitious activities (read: I get bored easily), so I limited each design to no more than 12.

This was one of the Christmas designs, created for the sale, but also shared at TwoPeas for a challenge. I've often been asked if I always embellish the insides of my cards--and I don't have a solid answer. Sometimes I do, sometimes not.
I do think it's important to have a space inside that's appropriate for writing a personal message, so I do always enclose a white layer on the inside to make that easy to do, especially when the base card is a color that would make it difficult to write on and read.
Occasionally, I will carry a design element from the front to the inside, like you can see in the second photo. Nothing too fussy, just a basic image. In this case, a little repitition is a good thing and easy to accomplish. I prefer to keep all the dimensional embellishments on the front of the card for the most impact.
I deeply enjoy card-making, even after such an intense few weeks of productivity. One of my favorite ways to add a touch of dimension without adding much difficulty to the mailing process is the use of self-adhesived, foam "pop" dots under certain elements.  Two of the ornaments on the front of this card are attached with foam tape to give them just a little lift off the surface. I also used a thick embroidery thread to "hang them". I'm not so fond of levitating ornaments. An ornament should be hanging from something, don't ya think? :)
If you don't want the bulk of adding thread, like on the red card, you could easily use a white ink pen to draw the hangers.

Here's one more for the road...Christmas will be here before ya know it. For the blue card, I just used a pen and ruler to draw in the hangers.
All the supplies on these two cards are from Stampin' Up! The ornament shown on the red card is from the newest holiday catalog and it has a coordinating punch to make cutting out those ornaments a breeze. The stamp set is called Christmas Collectables.

Couting the days,


summer cards

I joined a Summer card swap over at Stamp Nation not too long ago and I was completely inspired by the color yellow!
Which doesn't happen often, because yellow and I don't often get along very well...but for now, we are seeing eye-to-eye.
I love yellow when it's paired with gray or black, or navy so that's what I did.
Stampin' Up! has a yummy little stamp set called Mixed Bunch that has this awesome flower in it and of course, a coordinating punch. Love that.

The little banner that says "friends forever" came in a set of several banners--Banner Greetings. I'm going to get many uses out of this one, for sure. It's a hostess set but I found it on eBay, because sometimes a stamping girl can't wait around.

Happy stamping!


lazy cardmaking

So, I have happened upon the most delicious way to make cards without really having to think too much. It's the peak of summer and my brain might be a little fried...I need a way to make a few cards that don't require much creative energy.

The answer?

Simple Stories 6x6 paper pads--specifically the Summer Fresh one. See what the Simple Stories designers did with Summer Fresh on their blog. Awesome stuff and totally inspiring! I have noticed lately that many card-makers have embraced this fast-n-fabulous way to make cards and I wanted to try my hand at it too. The magic of the Simple Stories paper pad is two-fold. First of course, the patterns are coordinated, so I don't have to spend time hunting through the paper stash to find papers that go together. Second, there are are coordinating sheets of items intended to be cut apart and used as embellishments included in the pad.

Here are two:

Clearly, these could be used in a variety of ways, for both cards and scrapbook pages.

I started with four cards...I'm betting it would not be difficult at all to get 25 cards out of one pad of paper.
I think this one (above) may be my favorite. (I used a kraft base and added a little bit of ruffled ribbon.)

I have never done a card with a vertical sentiment before, but I enjoyed the twist of this, and it goes well with just a narrow micro-check ribbon.


No stamping today...just some layering and a few minor embellishment choices. How's that for easy?

Happy lazy cardmaking.


colorful inspiration

So not too long ago, I joined -- the *only* website I have ever paid for content on (and probably the only one I ever will). Catherine Pooler is a super-fine Stampin' Up! demonstrator who produces a magnificent amount of crafty content every month and shares it on her website, The Stamp Nation. Her style is bold and I find her videos on par with Kristina Werner and Jennifer McGuire in terms of quality of instruction and professionalism. Speaking as one who *hates* the concept of paying for content, I do love that site. :)

Not too long ago Catherine offered up a fast and furious birthday card video that totally inspired me to go old school and stamp out a little ROYGBIV. (I can't link it up but I can tell you it was a clean and simple card with lots of wow!)

Nothing says happy like the colors of the rainbow, right. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. In Stampin' Up! inks, that translates to Real Red, Pumpkin Pie, Daffodil Delight, Lucky Limeaide, Pacific Point (sometimes second generation stamping), and Rich Razzleberry. (I also found that Summer Fun makes an awesome hit of yellow and is ever-so-slightly more appropriate for ROYGBIV.)

Second generation images used for the scoops on the ice cream cone...second gen is the second image that comes out lighter than the first.
The ice cream cone and scoops are from Sweet Scoops. I'm on a quest to see what else I can use that ice cream cone perhaps a vase or bowl, a light or something else entirely...stay tuned.

So, it turns out that there wasn't room for the Rich Razzleberry image on this card base...on second thought, I will use this trick for a larger card next time. I do enjoy this style of stamps that is now retired from Stampin' Up! -- putting several images in a line and sizing them perfectly for use on a card front. The line of party hats came straight out of a now retired set called *Party Hearty*. (The small "Happy Birthday" brackets are part of Pretty Petites, which coordinate with the mini-curly lable punch.)
ROYGBIV...lovin' it. Stampin' it.


big red flowers

I'm quite enamored with the big flower from Impress right now...I quite often find it relaxing to cut out flowers while watching television in the late evenings. I stamp out 20 or so flowers in all different colors and then go to town witht the super-fine tip makes a huge mess but it's very productive.
Happy Stamping!


Impressed by Impress...every time.

This is not a commercial. I am in no way being compensated to tell you (all three of you) that I think Impress Rubber Stamps are the best stamps on the market today. You've been warned.

Truly. They are.

This post is going to be all about Impress. For just one reason.

I. Love. Impress. Stamps.

If you've been stamping for a million years like me, then you remember the days when rubber stamps were *all* mounted on wood blocks. They were all special little works of art, mounted on a block of wood. You had to be wary of shallow-etched rubber stamps or stamps without proper padding as they were cheap and difficult to stamp with. No worries with Impress stamps--the etching is a mile deep and the padding rivals any bed I've ever slept on.

Impress Rubber Stamps are wood mounted. Gasp. (I know.) In the day when so many of the best companies are giving in to the allure of clear (photopolymer) stamps because they are less time consuming and less costly to manufacture and consumers love the ease-of-storage, Impress has continued on with *actual* red rubber images mounted on wood blocks with a luxurious layer padding. This customer is *so* insanely happy that they have.

Yes. You will pay a little more for these little creative goodies but oh, they are so worth it. I've been stamping for about a month with the popsicle and the flag thank you and the chevron egg and the piece of polka dot washi tape and this beautiful oversized flower and I haven't gotten an unusable impression yet.

On my crafty bucket list, is to take a flight out to Washington State and visit the brick and mortar stores--both of them--called Impress Rubber Stamps. I stalk follow them on Facebook for their beuatiful ideas and glimpses into the most beautiful stores in the world. Oh and you can be sure that when I go to Washington, I will do so on a weekend that includes classes by the oh-so-lovely Julie Ebersole.

Sharing the love...

Happy Summer friends...


goodie bag grumble

I detest goodie bags for children's parties.

I have the courage to say this because my friend Pam said it first in a comment on another post about parenting, so since she bore the burden of going first, I feel OK about going second. That's what friends are for, right.

Go to pinterest and search for goodie bags. Oh the fancy nancy stuff that will pop up. On second thought, take my word for it and spare yourself the guilt.

I'm not immune to the crafty love of creating a special treat...look at this adorableness right here...I've assembled a few goodie bags in my time...I'm kindof ashamed to say...but no more. I have learned.

First of all, it's generally not appreciated, unless there is gum involved. And you know that no good can come from young children chewing gum.
Second, it's an attempt to level the playing field--you brought me a gift, so I feel obligated to give you a gift in return so I do not feel indebted to you. Mind you, kids don't feel this way, parents do.
Third, it's impractical and contributes to the useless clutter. Do we really need a stretchy jet plane? How about some mod podged yo-yos? Or better yet, sew your own goodie bags with this pattern.

When one parent in your group goes to pinterest and finds an adorable idea for a goodie bag, creates it and distributes it amongst us, she spoils it for all the rest of us. Now we have to compete.

Just the other day my very own sister said "I was thinking about making goodie bags for Easter...I saw this idea on pinterest..." Mind you this woman is a single parent of a three year old, she's in college and she works. Pray tell how much sleep is she going to have to sacrifice in the name of crafting these goodie bags for her own and other three year olds? Really? Just say No.

Is the craftiness of the goodie bags the measure of a good party for three year olds?

I just don't think so.

Yes, I'm doing the goodie bag grumble.

The concept and importance of a goodie bag for a children's party has apparently been blown way out of proportion and it's time to rethink. Just say no. Mind you, it's going to take some time for this current crop of littles to be re-trained. We are going to have to be willing to say "today is Anna Claire's birthday and we are taking her a present. Today is not your birthday. You will not be getting a present. You will be having ice cream and cake with all your friends. That will be enough."

And that's going to have to be *enough*.

I ask you--be that parent who curbs the trend. Give yourself a pass on one more thing that you have to do out of some misguided sense of obligation because everyone else does it.

Say no.
Move on.
Be OK with it.

If you do this, I might send you a goodie bag. :)


the life of a fourth grader isnt always skittles and rainbows

Peer-pressured Parents. We all know that our school-aged children face the much-maligned, dreaded peer pressure often--probably more often than we want to admit. We go to great lengths to encourage them to be strong and confident in themselves and to do what they know to be right, even in the face of the big bad monster we call "peer pressure". But let's cut to the chase. Is that enough? Is what we are teaching with our spoken words being undermined by our own behavior?

It occurred to me yesterday that parents also face a great deal of peer pressure--from our fellow parents and, to a lesser degree, from other children, because we want our own children to be accepted. How do we respond, as parents, to what other parents put forth to us as normal and acceptable, even if we disagree?

How do you parent children in this world, while keeping your focus on the big eternal picture?

If, at 40, I sometimes feel the pressure of my peers in an uncomfortable way, how can I expect my sons to resist the pressure of their own peers? (Don't answer that.)

Lately, I've been learning some important lessons about parenting (I think. I hope). Grey is in the fourth grade this year and right out of the gate, declared that he hated Social Studies. This child enjoys school and for the most part, excels at his academic work so this immediate and complete disgust for all things Social Studies was a new experience for us.

"It's boring." he whined. When you are in the fourth grade, being subjected to something you've already deemed "boring" is akin to spending time in the great abyss, covered in tar and being stalked by predatory birds day and night.

(I have no idea where he gets such a flare for the dramatic.)

Bringing up the topic of Social Studies sent him into the doldrums.
He slumped when reading the book.
He fumbled around with his papers when studying notes.
The notes were written sloppily and as you might suspect, the first few grades were failures.

A few weeks into the semester, it was abundantly clear that desperate times were upon us and something drastic needed to be done.

We spoke at length about his attitude and I spoke privately with his teacher. "It's just not interesting." he lamented. "We just read out of the book and write stuff down." We had a very pointed conversation about having to do things that don't always "light your fire". I laid down the law.

I enlisted the help of a friend who also happens to be a teacher--she showed him some ways to associate what he needed to remember for the test with some visual reminder cues and I think it helped to hear from someone other than me that this was a doable task. His next test grade was 95!

Crisis averted. I thought we were done.

But no. The next two test grades were barely passing muster. It was clear, he wasn't putting any effort into studying and the mid-point of the semester was fast approaching.

He worked hard but it was clear he needed some additional inspiration. The deal was soon struck. If his grade for the semester ended up being an A, his reward would be a shopping trip to Toys R Us. (You should know that I detest Toys R Us and we never go there.) I was very clear on the terms of the deal. The grade *must* be an A.

It's going to be a fight because you had those very gutter-ball grades in the first few weeks. You'll have to work very, very diligently.

I was confident that an A was possible, but that it was certainly not going to be easy to come by. A little adversity is a good thing, especially for boys. It's a good teacher.

He did it. He invested himself. He did the work with a little more spark. He tried harder. He wrote neater. He asked for help and made plans for what to look for when he earned the shopping trip. When semester grades came out, he didn't rip into the envelope immediately. Instead he saved it until he got into the car in the afternoon. He handed it to me and I pulled it out of the envelope.

In our school, an A is a 93 and above.

There shall be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I'm pretty sure we were both more than a little heart-broken that day. Even though I detest Toys R Us, I love this boy and I knew (in depth) how much he had invested into his own success. He was deflated and broken. Real tears of disappointment dripped down his cheeks.

"But I worked so hard..." he said.

I know. Believe me. I know. I'm so proud of the diligent work you did. I'm proud that you didn't give up. You set yourself a goal and while you didn't make it precisely, you were only three points away. You pulled it from an F to a B. That's a pretty big accomplishment.

I tried to make him see but there was no consolation to be had.

I gave him some time.
He moped.
He hid in his closet.
He smirked.
He kicked things.
He did all the things that frustrated 9 year old boys do.
I gave him some space.

The following day he seemed in better spirits and he asked if the deal could be extended to cover next semester. I agreed.

And then I made the mistake of consulting a few friends about the situation. Some of them agreed with me, that the terms of the deal were clearly stated and there was no backup plan. The requirements for reward were not met, so no trip. Unfortunately, a few of them indicated that they would have given him the trip anyway because "what's three points?".

He had done his best.
He had worked hard.
He deserved the trip.

This gave me pause.

I hemed and hawed, as my father would say. I mulled. I felt pressured by some of my peers. I kinda wanted to be the cool mom who rewards hard work and diligence and poo poo'd the "tow the line mom". You see, it pains me deeply to see this boy hurt. It breaks my heart to see him disappointed. I love him like nobody's business. I really really like it when his life is happy and easy and fun and filled with great music, Skittles and rainbows.

But that's not how life is.

And it soon became clear that this was going to be one of those life lessons that stuck around for a while--for both of us.

In private, I wanted to be the easy parent.
I wanted to relieve his disappointment.
I wanted to bend the rules and give him a waiver.
I wanted to ignore all those underlying messages.
I wanted to cast aside the precedent I would be setting.
I wanted to say "you worked so hard--let's go shopping!"

But just in the moments of my wavering, real life--big and tall--stood up and announced it's presence with authority, and connected *all* the little dots for me.

I am not the parent who takes the easy road.
And there's a reason for that.

About a day after the report card came home, my husband got an email regarding his impending quarterly bonus paycheck. It seems that, despite his very diligent work and careful planning, he had missed getting the top tier bonus by a measly 13 points.

Guess what.
No one at his company called to say "we're sorry." No one considered how hard he had worked, how far he had driven, how neat his handwriting was on his reports...No one offered to spot him 13 points to bump him up to the top tier of a bonus structure because he's a good guy and the fourth most productive salesperson in his company and the youngest guy in the top 20.

Nor did he expect them to.

He lamented the loss of those extra dollars for about 3.57 seconds and then said "I'll get up and go to work tomorrow, just like always."

I couldn't help but laugh. I like it when life makes things real obvious and the lesson here could not have been stated more openly or more eloquently.

The following weekend, Grey and I took a few minutes over Sonic drinks to discuss what had gone down. He seemed to get it--to understand that there will be disappointments in life--some big, some small (that's the easy part) and that how we choose to deal with those disappointments is the very definition of who we are as people and children of God (that would be the more difficult part).

Yes, there is grace.

Grace extended the deal into the next semester.
Grace said "Joal gets a second level bonus".
Grace says "I love you no matter what and if I can help you to learn some of the difficult precepts of life when the price of not hitting the mark is relatively minor, I will choose that for you, even if it's unpopular and mildly uncomfortable for both of us."

The man you are becoming is worth that to me.



A very special hello if you are visiting from Tracie Claiborne's blog...Welcome. (Thanks Tracie, for sharing some of my cards on your blog. You are a gem!)

I have been especially insipred to create Valentine's Day cards this year that are built on a white base. There's something so crisp and enjoyable about white cards.

Most of the stamps and supplies I used weren't especially "Valentine's"--sometimes you can create a holiday feel just by using a certain color scheme or repurposing certain images together. All the stamps used in the above card are from long-retired Stampin' Up! sets and a heart of gems that has been hanging out in my stash for way too long (it's by Me and My Big Ideas). Foam tape behind the heart adds a tiny bit of dimension and allows the gem heart to be tucked in behind the larger element.

And finally, what could be a more sweet treat for a sweetheart than a cupcake topped with a conversation heart? And now, with Zero calories! :)
Happy Valentine's Day crafting!


Stamp Happy

Valentine's just around the corner!! Cardmakers everywhere love Valentine's Day! This is one of my first Valentines creations of the year...

It just might be the fastest card I have ever made! Five impressions total...the row of hearts is all one stamp (retired, Stampin' Up!) and the sentiment is from Hero Arts.

Red on white...classic, clean and very Valentine-y.

Keep on stampin'.


crisp winter birthday

I have more friends with birthdays in January than any other here's my January birthday card creation.

If you know your Stampin' Up! punches, you might notice that this snowflake stamp fits perfectly in the flower punch. (Eeeek.) Yes, that makes me so very happy!!

Happy Stampin'.