Thursday, September 12, 2019

More Birthday Cards!

I was in the mood to create some more birthday cards after inking up that MFT set from my last post, so I pulled out another new MFT set that I had picked up, Stacey Yacula's Sending Sweet Celebration Wishes.

I love Stacey's work and have some of her designs for Purple Onion Designs, but truthfully they don't get inked up much because they are rubber and I like clear better, so I was so excited to see MFT pick up some of her designs in clear stamps.

Anyway, I wanted to go with kind of an vintage picture book feel, so I stamped a few of the images on some watercolor paper with Versafine Smokey Gray ink.  I then die cut the images using one of the ovals from the Stitched Mini Scallop Oval STAX Die-namics, also from MFT.

The images were then painted using my Kuretake Gansai watercolors.

I experimented a bit with some mats, patterned paper and cardstock as well as twine for an accent but in the end decided that I like the simple look best.

The ovals were adhered to a kraft base, and then I added a sentiment banner using sentiments from the same stamp set and a banner die from the Neat & Tangled Scalloped set which was then popped up with foam tape.

Three more birthday cards for my stash!  I kind of want to make some more, but I think I need to do some focusing on Christmas....

Thanks for visiting!

*Affiliate links in text to Neat & Tangled and below to Ellen Hutson

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Happy Birth-Yay!

Hi all!  My sister, who peruses my card stash when she comes into town and selects her favorites to take home with her, was bemoaning my lack of birthday cards the last time she was here.  So, I thought I should reinvigorate my birthday stamp stash and picked up a couple cute sets from MFT including this one from Birdie Brown.

Nothing crazy here, just straight stamping and Copic coloring.  

I used GinaK Black Amalgam ink - it's my favorite ink to use with Copics.

Aren't these critters so cute?  I think my favorites are the toucans.

I'm hoping to get some more birthday cards done soon - with this set and the other one I picked up.  Stay tuned!

*Affiliate Links Below

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

August 2019 in Books

I'm a little late with my book recap this month.  It's been a crazy weekend here!  Ellie turned 12 on Friday, we had a birthday party for her on Saturday and then one for Carina on Sunday (her actual birthday isn't for a couple weeks yet), and school starts today!  So needless to say, a lot of extra running around and prep.  Anyway, a slightly shorter list this month.  Some really good ones and a few disappointments in the bunch.  Here's the rundown:

The Flight Portfolio - Julie Orringer - historical fiction - three stars - You know how I said last month that I thought I needed to lay off the historical fiction, particularly WWII stuff?  Well sometimes you are just foiled by when the holds come into the library.  This one had been on my list for a while and if finally showed up.  I was well and truly disappointed.  It was SO LONG.  Now, I have nothing against long books, I read a lot of them, but this one was long for no reason.  It reminded me of some of the movies I've seen recently where someone needed to really leave some of the footage on the floor in the editing room.  There was just so much that really didn't contribute to the story itself, not the least of which is the fictional relationship between the main character, Varian Fry, and his friend/lover.  It could have been so much tighter and more effective because Fry's story is fascinating and well worth telling, but seemed to take a back seat in the book.  A frustrating read, but I did learn about Fry's operation, and pointed me in the direction of some more non-fiction books to read.

Madame Fourcade's Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France's Largest Spy Network Against Hitler - Lynne Olson - non-fiction - five stars - I really enjoyed this one.  While I'm a big fatigued when it comes to WWII historical fiction, I still love learning about it, and this was a very detailed and in-depth look at the work of Marie-Madeline Fourcade whose Alliance network lasted from 1941 through the end of the war.  It's pretty amazing that she was able to keep it together for so long, and that she survived when so many did not.  She was captured multiple times and after the war worked to determine the fate of those in her network.  Definitely worth a read.

We Hope for Better Things - Erin Bartels - fiction - four stars - The story of journalist Elizabeth Balsam who loses her job after a failed expose on a local politician.  She heads to the rural home of a great-aunt to lick her wounds as well as investigate the request of a stranger that she return a camera and photographs to said great-aunt.  As she gets to know her great-aunt and her story, she also examines herself, what brought her to that place, and unravels the story behind the photographs and camera.  This was a bit predictable, but an enjoyable story.

Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back - Jackie Speier - memoir - four stars - This was a book that I plucked off the new bookshelf because it looked interesting.  While I knew about the Jonestown massacre, I really knew nothing about Speier, who was part of Congressman Leo Ryan's delegation, and who barely survived.  I really enjoyed learning about her, her childhood, how she got involved in politics, and how she continued her involvement after Ryan's death eventually being elected to years later to the same seat in Congress that he held.

White Like Her: My Family's Story of Race and Racial Passing - Gail Lukasik - non-fiction - three stars - This books was another disappointment for me.  Lukasik, a mystery writer, began researching her mother's background after her death.  She appeared on Genealogy Roadshow as part of her quest to find out more.  She learned that her mother, who had an African American background left Louisiana when she married her father to pass as white.  There were parts of this book that were so interesting and then parts that were not at all.  Those parts were very heavily focused on her genealogy research, but were quite in depth and for someone who just wanted to know the story of her family, it was a bit too much.  If you are a genealogy buff, you'd likely find those parts fascinating, but for me they were a bit of a drag.

The Wanderers (The West Country Trilogy, #2) - Tim Pears - historical fiction - five stars.  I read the first book in this trilogy, The Horseman, last month and loved it.  That one had a very deliberate pace which you really had to kind of adjust to when reading, but was a great story, and by the end I was totally sold on the story and characters.  This book moved much more quickly it seemed, although maybe I was prepared for it, but it follows Leo's journey as he leaves home and tries to find his way in the world.  He meets all sorts of different people, some good, some bad, but also continues to grow his knowledge and skills.  Really enjoyed this one, even more than the first.

Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune - Roselle Lim - fiction - three stars - This one was another let down.  I love books about restaurants/cooking, but this one fell flat for me.  Natalie's estranged/reclusive mother dies and she returns home to settle affairs and bury her mother, and becomes enmeshed in her dying street in Chinatown.  She decides to stay and try to reopen her grandmother's restaurant to save the street.  This was just predictable, there were some weird plot twists that I just didn't care for, and the characters were only so so.  If I had to do it again, I'd skip this one, just not a lot of substance there.

The Spies of Shilling Lane - Jennifer Ryan - historical fiction - four stars - I really liked this one.  It's another that had been on my hold list for a while, and I was not that enthusiastic about it given my recent WWII historical fiction reads, but I really enjoyed this one.  It was more of a light and fluffy historical fiction book if that's a thing.  It didn't get into anything really deep and heavy, but was more of a mystery that took place over the span of a week, at the most two.  It's about Mrs. Braithwaite, a woman who's hit middle age, her husband divorced her, and she goes to London to talk with her daughter to whom she needs to reveal a long held secret.  The problem is, when she gets there, her daughter is missing.  She enlists the help of her daughter's landlord, and they embark on a series of adventures and misadventures searching for her daughter.  In the course of the book, Mrs. Braithwaite rebuilds her relationship with her daughter, and also comes to understand herself better.  Quick moving and entertaining.

Favorites this month were Madame Fourcade and The Wanderers.  I'm currently reading the final book in Tim Pears' West Country Trilogy, and after that I have Evvie Drake Starts Over as well as a couple non-fiction books.  I found that the non-fiction were drawing my interest a bit more this month, so I moved a few of those up on my TBR list.  As always, please share what you're reading!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Simon Says Stamp Stamptember Blog Party

Hi friends!  I'm participating in a blog party celebrating Simon Says Stamp's Stamptember event/kickoff today.

What's a blog party?  Well unlike a blog hop where you go all the way through and comment to win prizes, there are no prizes, but there are party favors.  In this case some fun codes that you might want to take advantage of in the Simon store.  I've got a code to share that you'll see at the end of my post.  There are a ton of people participating in today's blog party, so I'm going to keep my remarks to a minimum.  ;)

My card today features the new Healing Hugs set.

I started by stamping the floral frame image on some Neenah White cardstock with Gina K Whisper Amalgam Ink.

The image was then no-line colored using Copics.

Once that was done, the sentiment (from the same set) was stamped with Versafine.

There is a coordinating die set for this stamp set, but I don't have it, and it was pretty easy to fussy cut around the image.

Originally I was going to make this a square card, but in playing around with the mats, I decided that I liked it in an A2 size better.  I went with an 'uneven' matted look in the background, and popped the stamped piece up with foam tape.

Now how about that special code I promised you?  Here it is:

Thanks so much for stopping by, be sure to stop by the Simon blog to see who else is participating in the party and to get some more inspiration!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Spellbinders September Large Die of the Month

Hi all!  I'm popping in to share a card using the just released September Large Die of the Month kit from Spellbinders.

As always, there are so many different dies in the set.  The largest is the big mushroom I'm featuring here, but there are also some smaller mushrooms, a gnome, etc.

I love the detail on this big mushroom and thought it made the perfect shelter for my little squirrel.  There are several pieces to the mushroom cap itself, there's a die that cuts the main cap, and then another that cuts the holes/speckles, and then another for the underside of the mushroom. There's also a thin piece that defines the break between the cap and underside, but for my card I left that off. 

I wanted to get an inlaid look for the mushroom, so I started by cutting the cap itself, then I cut another, but also die cut the speckles on that one (that piece just cuts out the little holes and not around it).  Then I placed the piece with the detailed underside onto the second cap (with the speckles) and die cut.

These pieces were all die cut from white cardstock, and I added color using simple inking.  Once I had all the pieces for my mushroom cap colored/inked, I adhered it together.  Then I took the die for the top of the mushroom stem, placed it on the finished mushroom cap, and die cut.  This created a negative space where the cap nests.  I did the same thing with the bottom of the stem, so the entire mushroom is one layer that is pieced together.  You can get see a close up of that below:

After my mushroom was done, I die cut the squirrel and acorn adding inking to them, and also inked up a panel with some greens.  From that, I used my scissors to cut a simple gently sloping ground line, and also used some of the excess to die cut the grass pieces.

For the background, I cut an extra mushroom cap and then used some post its to mask off the center of the card.  Then I stamped the rain with a light gray ink.

Then it was time to assemble the card.  The sentiment is from My Favorite Things.  As a finishing touch, I used a black liner to color in the squirrels eye, and then added a drop of glossy accents over top.

Thanks for visiting!  Be sure to stop by Spellbinders to see more samples using this new kit and to check out the rest of this month's offerings.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Variations on a Theme, Another Card Set

It's funny because I almost never make card sets, but in the last couple months I've made several, and I'm really enjoying the process.

It's fun to be able eto take out a new set and use multiple images at once.  Otherwise, I find that I'll use a new set, put it away, and not get back to it again for months or even years.

I also love when I find a product that can do double, or in this case, quadruple duty.  I'm talking about this Oh, Hello There die from Simon Says Stamp.  I love that it cuts the three words separately, so you can use different combinations of the words as I did with these cards.

The images are from Picket Fence Studio's Sweet Dear Friend set, and I used sentiments from Neat & Tangled, mostly from the So Many Sentiments set, but also one from the Lovely Lotus set.

I started by die cutting my sentiments and then playing with the placement on some panels of Neenah White cardstock.  I also had the stamp sets with me so I could figure out which girl/sentiments went best with each of the die cut sentiment combinations.

Once I had figured out the general layout of the cards, I stamped the girls using Gina K Black Amalgam Ink.

The girls were then colored with Copics.  I did use my normal three color, but I used a very light color for the base coat and very sparing touches of the darker colors to emphasize the light airy feel that the girls have.

Once my panels were colored, I adhered the die cuts and added the secondary sentiments.

I also added a colored mat for each of the panels.

I really love these little girl images, they have so much personality.

Thanks for visiting, hope your week is going well!  We're in the final push to back to school (we start next Tuesday), and we have birthday parties for both girls this weekend, so it's getting a little crazy around here!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Love Never Fails, Coloring Outside the Lines

I've been coloring outside the lines again.  Sometimes you want to color, but you don't want to have to think too hard about it.  

I recently purchased this Pretty Peonies background stamp from Simon Says Stamp.  It's such a lovely background, and there are so many different ways you can use it, but for it's first outing, I thought coloring the negative spaces would be a great way to really show off the flowers themselves and all the detail in them.

I've used this technique before after creating a random stamped background on this card.  That time I used just a single color, this time I thought I would try adding a little more depth by using two colors (R37 and R39), using the darker color around the edges of the images.  

I also used my C3 marker to lightly color over some of the detailed lines in the images to add just a little bit of emphasis and depth.

After spending all that time coloring the background, I didn't want to cover it up too much, so opted for a simple sentiment from an older Studio Calico set.

Hope your August is going well.  We're less than two weeks from the start of school, so it's starting to get a little crazy here!