Friday, December 13, 2019

Simon Says Stamp Love You More Release


There's a new release at Simon Says Stamp, lots of new products that are perfect for Valentine's Day.  

Today I'm showing off the new You Are background.  I love a text background.  I love both the typewriter font and the size of the font.

The background was stamped on white cardstock with Altenew Silver Stone ink. 


For the focal point of my card, I stamped and fussy cut a pair of cats from The Right Meow set, and colored them with Copics.

The sentiment is from Neat & Tangled's Typed Sentiments set which was stamped on one of the Skinny Strips dies after I colored it with Copics to match the cat's bow tie.  I also colored the little die cut heart.

Thanks for visiting, and be sure to head over to Simon to check out the rest of the release!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Spellbinders December Large Die of the Month


Hi everyone!  I'm a little late posting with this month's Spellbinders Large Die of the Month kit.  We have had some work going on at our house and the craft room has been out of commission.  Thank goodness it's all done, hopefully I'll be able to get things back in place soon, but in any case it's nice to get back to creating.

This month's kit is a good one.  There are three different layered border die sets.  What I especially like about the set is that while it created the layered borders, it also includes dies that cut the edge of the paper to match.


For this first card, I used that border edge three times, from a gold, navy, and cream cardstock to create a layered fancy edge.  Then I used the top layer of the coordinating border set, cutting it from both gold and navy cardstock. 


The gold piece was adhered to my panel, and then I inlaid just the center portion of the border with pieces from the navy die cut.  The entire panel was then popped up over my card base.

A simple sentiment finished things off.


Spellbinders now also has add ons for their kits.  My second card features the Kaleidescope Petal Dies, which consist of three intricate petal dies that layer to create a really gorgeous pattern.

For this card, I cut the petals twice from three different pieces of cardstock.  Then I adhere the layers together, mixing up the combinations so each of these petals is unique.


The finished petals were adhered to my card base to frame the sentiment.

Aren't those petals so striking?

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

November 2019 in Books


I'm a couple days late with my reading recap, but what a great month of reading.  There were so many good books this month!  Here's what I read:

The Russian Five: A Story of Espionage, Defection, Bribery and Courage - Keith Gave - non-fiction - five stars - It's no secret that I'm a big hockey fan, and I am also a big Detroit Red Wings fan (although my favorite team is the Washington Capitals).  This was a fascinating book for me, and even if you are not a huge hockey fan, this is just a great great story.  Gave tells about how the Detroit Red Wings turned the franchise around after it was purchased by the Ilitches, how they really went out on a limb and started drafting Russian players even though there was no guarantee that those individuals would be able to, or would want to play in the U.S.  He details how they were able to get said Russians to either defect or receive permission to leave to play in the U.S., and how Detroit assembled a hockey powerhouse.  Great, great book.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #4) - Trenton Lee Stewart - juvenile fiction - five stars - I can't tell you house excited I was to learn that there was another Mysterious Benedict Society book.  This is one of Ellie's and my favorites series, and this book did not disappoint.  The story picks up several years after the last book.  The kids are all a bit older, and starting to contemplate what to do next - college, careers, etc.  They are thrust into another adventure when the Ten Men are broken out of prison.  They need to determine what their plan is, and save Mr. Benedict.  It was so fun to become reacquainted with beloved characters, and there really is no drop off in the tone, tenor, or quality of writing from the previous books.  Loved it.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota - J. Ryan Stradal - fiction - five stars - I picked this one up on a whim, as it was on a couple of recommended lists from publishers, and I really loved it.  The story follows two sisters, Helen, who pursues a dream to become a brewer at the expense of her sister, and Edith, who follows her own dream, pursues a more conventional path to marriage and motherhood.  who struggles through financial hardship and emotional heartbreak.  I loved how the book made you like both the sisters, although Edith a little more, and how they, as well as Edith's grand daughter Diana, had such strong characters and voices.  I am not a fan of beer (I like my drinks sweet and fruity), but I loved the description of the brewing process and the emotional reaction Helen has to beer.  I loved this one so much I went to the library and got Stradal's first book to read (more on that below).

The Bootlace Magician (Circus Mirandus, #2) - Cassie Beasley - juvenile fiction - five stars - This is the sequel to Circus Mirandus which I read a while back.  I will say that I was a bit discombobulated for the first few chapters until I got reoriented because in the interim I had read The Night Circus, and while those books are vastly different, there are some strong commonalities particularly in terms of the way people experience the circus and how they come to the circus.  Once I got my bearings, I loved it.  In the story, Micah, now part of the circus family, is trying to find his place in it.  He is learning how to interact with the different groups and members, assuming some responsibilities, and trying to learn about his magical gift.  As the same time, he start to unravel a mystery/threat to the circus.  I loved how the story came together, and how Micah developed, and if I'm reading the ending right, I'm looking forward to another sequel!

To the Land of Long Lost Friends (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #20) - Alexander McCall Smith - detective - four stars - I always enjoy these No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books because the characters have become so real to me.  In this book, Mwa Ramotswe tackles the difficulty of a childhood friend who asks her to look into her daughters' goings on.  It's a tricky situation which, of course, Mwa Ramotswe handles in just the right way.  Meanwhile, Charlie is dealing with the fact that he would love to marry Queenie-Queenie, but hasn't the means to pay a dowry much less support them both.  I especially loved how his situation turned out.  I've been rooting for Charlie a lot the last couple books, and I love seeing how he's grown up.

Cilka's Journey (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #2) - Heather Morris - I loved The Tattooist of Aushwitz, and was very excited when I heard that Morris was writing another story based on Cilka,
Lale and Gita's friend who helped them through much of their time in Aushwitz.  After liberation, Cilka was considered a collaborator and sent to a gulag in Siberia for a 15 year sentence.  Because much less is known about Cilka, this books is a much looser depiction of her time, but she was eventually able to find work as a nurse at the work camp and was also able to secure an earlier release.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Taylor Jenkins Reid - historical fiction - five stars - Earlier this year I read Daisy Jones and the Six and loved it so much I wanted to try something else from the author.  This was another really great read.  Screen legend Evelyn Hugo is auctioning off some of her signature outfits for charity, and has granted an exclusive interview to a magazine, but insists that she will only give the interview to Monique Grant, a very junior reporter.  When Monique shows up, Evelyn informs her that rather than write an article, she wants her to write her life's story, and she will have exclusive rights to it.  Evelyn proceeds to share her story, which is roughly divided up between husbands.  The book intersperses the interview sessions with 'clippings' from the newspapers/gossip magazines at the time which provides the reader with an interesting perspective of what was true and what wasn't, and how sometimes Hollywood used those magazines to spin the story they wanted told.  There are also pieces of Monique's life in there, and by the end of the story you understand why Evelyn chose Monique.  I really loved how this came together and the amazing character that Reid created in Evelyn Hugo.

The Pearl Thief - Elizabeth Wein - juvenile historical fiction - three stars - This is a prequel to Code Name Verity, which I loved.  The story is focused on Julie and her family and her life before Verity.  This was a huge disappointment for me.  I feel like it took SO LONG to get into the story, it was really meandering, and I just didn't like Julie like I did in Verity.  Meh.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest - J. Ryan Stradal - fiction - four stars - This is Stradal's first book which I went out and picked up after I finished Lager Queen.  This one wasn't as good as the first.  It took a lot longer to get into, but I did really like how it wove together in the end.  It's the story of Eva Thorvald and her journey to becoming am chef.  Each of the chapters talks about a specific dish and a specific person in Eva's story.  It's a story about tragedy, but also about succeeding despite the odds.  There's a wonderful resiliency about the characters and the story.  Definitely worth reading.

The Rosie Result (Don Tillman, #3) - Graeme Simsion - fiction - four stars - I have really enjoyed the Rosie series and the quirky characters.  This edition focuses on Don and Rosie's son Hudson.  They've moved back to Australia and Hudson is having difficulty adjusting to his new school, and they want to have him tested to see if he is on the spectrum.  While Don and Rosie aren't sure if he is or is not, they do not want to have him tested and labeled at this point.  And so, Don initiates the Hudson project to try and help Hudson fit in and become a more 'normal' boy.  I really loved how Don and Rosie dealt with the issue, trying to tackle it logically and how Don internally was ticking off things that were and were not indicators.  Meanwhile, I loved Hudson's view of the situation and how comfortable he became with the concept.  I'm hoping there will be more Rosie books in the future.

In Pieces - Sally Field - memoir - four stars - A very honest look at her life.  I thought this was very interesting, particularly given the current #MeToo movement.  It was really interesting to me how Field was typecast and how hard she had to work to get roles outside her Gidget/Flying Nun persona.  The vast majority of the book was focused on her early career and I do wish that it had delved more into her later roles/life.  If you like Hollywood memoirs this is a good one.

Super hard to pick a favorite this month, especially since I read several sequels with characters that I liked so much, so I'm going to punt and not name favorites.  I'm currently reading Maid, and have a couple other biographies waiting in the wings.  Would love to know what you've been reading!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Simon Says Stamp Die-Cember Release


Hi everyone!  Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  I can't believe we're already in December! 

Today I'm showing off a card using one of the new dies in Simon Says Stamps' Die-Cember release.  This Shimmer Oval Die cuts a really love intricate pattern within an oval and also adds some stitched lines to the opening on the negative cut which gives it a really nice finished look.

I wanted a simple, rustic look for my card, so I started by cutting the oval from some white cardstock.  Because this is such an intricate die, it works best with a metal shim, but since I wanted all the pieces to stay intact for this layer, I simply cut it without a shim.

The design was then colored with Copics.

I then cut the die from some Primitive Cream cardstock (this time with a shim), and adhered it on top of the colored piece.  Because I knew that I was planning to do this, I could be a little lazier/sloppier with my coloring.

The negative cut was trimmed to 4" x 5 1/2", and then adhered to my card base.  The die cut oval was adhered directly to the card base as well.  Normally I would pop this piece up, but since this is going out in the mail, I wanted to try and keep it as flat as possible.


Because I wanted the focus to be on the die and didn't want to cover it up too much, I opted for some really simple skinny Thickers as well as a secondary sentiment (from the Neat & Tangled Art Deco set) stamped on one of Neat & Tangled's Skinny Strips dies which was popped up with foam tape.

Be sure to head over to Simon to check out the full release.  There are some really great things in there!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Simple Stenciled Backgrounds for Your Stamped Images


Hi all!  I'm sharing a set of cards today featuring your basic stencils and stencil paste on kraft.  I had a bunch of images that I've colored over the last week or so as part of Kathy Racoosin's 30 Day Coloring Challenge and wanted to put them to use on some Christmas cards.

I love the look of white stamping and embossing on kraft, and basic embossing paste creates essentially the same effect, with some wonderful texture too.

I started out by creating my stenciled backgrounds using Dreamweaver white embossing paste over Papertrey Ink Kraft cardstock.  When I"m creating backgrounds I'll cut my panels to a full A2 size, 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" even though I rarely use them that size.  Often when you stencil a panel the edges aren't quite as crisp as you might want them, so this gives me the opportunity to trim them down to get that nice finished edge

The embossing paste may warp the cardstock a little, so to make sure that the panel was good and stuck to my card base, I used liquid adhesive, the kind you have to kind of pump and the blue liquid comes out, and placed a book over top while it was drying.

I used both stencils that have more 'white' space where there's more paste showing as well as stencils where the design leaves more kraft showing.  For this first card, I'm using my Star stencil for Neat & Tangled.  


The image is from a retired Neat & Tangled set called Little Baby Jesus, and the sentiment is from Altenew's Peach on Earth set.  Both the die cut image and sentiment strip are popped up with foam tape for a bit of dimension.


The next card features my Radiating Star stencil for Neat & Tangled.  When I created the background for this one I didn't realize there was a bit of red ink/spray left on the stencil form the last use, so there's a bit of a rose glow to the background.  I decided I liked the look, but that's why you don't see a more pure white in the background.


The image is from another retired N&T mini called Angel Wing as is the sentiment.


I needed a slightly larger sentiment strip because of the size of the sentiment, but it looked a little too white, so I added a bit of Copic shading around the edges to soften the look.

Next I created a panel using my Fa La La stencil, also from N&T.   


This snowman couple from Paper Smooches' Cool Dudes set was perfect for the background as was the sentiment from Hello Bluebird.


Finally, I used the Tim Holtz Pines Layering Stencil to create this last background, pairing it with one of my very favorite Christmas/Winter Images, the Merry Kisses set from N&T.


The sentiment is from Hello Bluebird, and I used one of the banners from the Scalloped Dies set from N&T.


These backgrounds are quick and easy to create and are the perfect backdrop for your colored images.  I really love how the balance but don't overshadow the images.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Mama Elephant Cool Penguins


I had created a couple cards using the penguins from Mama Elephant's Cool Penguins set last year.  At the time I had stamped/cut out several penguins, but hadn't used them all.  I found my 'leftovers' the other day.

After coloring them with Copics, I added a very slight ground line with some inking, and then arranged them to create a scene, adhering them to my panel.


The sentiment is from Concord and 9th's O Christmas Tree set.

I finished things off with some patterned paper from a very very old AC 6x6 paper pad.  I need to go scavenge around the craft room and see if I can find anymore leftovers!

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

POD Merry Christmas Hockey Critters


I was so excited when I saw the latest Pine Cone Trail release from Stacey Yakula for Purple Onion Designs (POD).  As you might know, we are a big hockey family, we all play some form of the sport including our girls who both play ice hockey.

These little critters playing hockey were must haves for me.

I have several stamps from POD, but I admit I don't use them as often as I should because they are unmounted rubber, and in the past I have used my tape runner to adhere them to my clear blocks which works just fine, but then I have to clean the blocks off to remove the adhesive.

Enter a new product!  POD is now selling large solid clear stamps, not for stamping, but to act as a mount.  There are two sizes available, I picked up the 4" x 6" stamp.


The rubber stamps just stick right to the clear stamp.  You can either mount the clear stamp to a block, or use a MISTI with the foam mat removed.

It makes stamping with these images so easy, I'm excited because I'm quite sure I'll be using my POD images more now.

So back to the card, the critters (Storm and Iclyn) were stamped with Gina K Black Amalgam ink, colored with Copics, and then fussy cut.


The Frozen Pond Background was also stamped with Gina K and colored with Copics.  I added a sentiment from Simon Says Stamp's Holiday Greetings 1 set, and the critters were adhered to the panel. 

Thanks for visiting!