Thursday, January 27, 2022

SSS, Suzy's Valentine Love Watercolor Prints

*This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp

A super quick and easy card today featuring one of the watercolor prints in the Suzy Plantamura's Valentine Love set.

These watercolor prints are so easy to use, and the watercolor paper is great quality, Tim Holtz.  

I really liked these layered hearts and thought it would be fun to apply simple watercolor washes to the hearts so you get deeper shades where they overlap.

You could definitely use different shades of color, but I opted to use the same color throughout.  

The panels are A2 sized, but I decided to fussy cut the hearts and pop them up for a little extra emphasis/drama.

The sentiment is from the XL Love Greetings set.  I stamped it with Versafine on white cardstock, but it looked a little too stark, so added a light wash the same color as my hearts, die cut it, and then popped it up over the hearts.

That's all for me today!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

SSS And Back Again Box Card

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp.

There's a really fun new suite of dies in the Simon Says Stamp And Back Again release that makes box cards.  Box cards fold down flat so that they can be mailed, but when you take the card out of the envelope, it transforms into a dimensional box.

Interactive cards are generally not my forte, but I wanted to try these dies out.  I wanted my card to make sense when you pull it out of the envelope, but also to carry the theme through to the 3D version of the card.

There are three sets of dies that were released.  The basic box which cuts the box itself as well as two different sized openings for the box; the Clouds set which cuts different cloud layers to help you create a skyscape inside your box, and the Hearts, which create different heart layers to use inside your box.  There are also several bundles in the store where you can get combinations of the dies.

For my card, I started by creating the basic box using the basic Card Box dies and some red patterned paper.  To create the box, you cut the basic die twice which creates two of the sides and has a tab that adheres to the second die cut to form the box.  I also used the smaller of the opening dies on one side of the box.  

I thought it would be fun to use the Piece of My Heart dies to tie the card together in both the flat and box format.  I die cut the left side of the heart from some light red paper and the right side twice from a darker red.

The left side was adhered directly to the frame of the opening for the box card, while one of the right side pieces was adhered to the inside of the right side of the box, so that it completes the heart when the card is flat.

Then, on the inside of the card, I die cut the scalloped frame from the Box Card Hearts set using a light pink grid print.  On either side of the frame there are flaps that you use to adhere the piece inside your box.  Once that was secure, I attached the second right half of the heart to the scalloped frame, so that when you look at the box head on, it lines up with the left side.

To the frame I also adhered one of the sentiments from the And Back Again Reverse Sentiment Strips as well as that cute little dog holding the heart from the Love Day set.  He was stamped with Gina K Black Amalgam Ink, colored with Copics, and die cut.

To tie the 3D version of the card together with the flat version, I stamped, colored, and die cut a second little dog.  This time I added the XOXO sentiment from the Love Day set in the heart he is holding, and adhered him to the corder of my box, so that he's right in the center of the card when it is folded flat.  Be sure that you only adhere the left side of the dog, so that he doesn't stick to the framed opening of the box when it is in 3D form (ask me how I know that). 

To finish things off on the 2D front, I stamped and die cut the Valentine's Day sentiment, also from the Love Day set, and popped it up on the left side of the flattened card.

Of course you don't have to try and coordinate the 2D/3D versions of your cards, it definitely introduces a little bit of complication into things, but I like that it gives a little hint of what to expect in 3D form.  

That's all for me today.  Hope you guys are having a good week, thanks for visiting!  

Friday, January 21, 2022

SSS And Back Again Blog Hop

*This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp

Happy Friday!  I'm thrilled to be part of Day 2 of the Simon Says Stamp And Back Again Blog Hop!  As you can see from the graphic above, to make things even more fun, there's a freebie available through this weekend with any purchase at Simon.  Just use the code GNOMIE at checkout.

In addition, Simon is giving away a $25 gift card at every stop along the hop, all you have to do is leave a comment!  

The hop starts at the Simon Says Stamp Blog, and you should have arrived here from Kulbir Kirkland's blog.  I'll put the entire hop list at the bottom of my post in case you get turned around, and I'll try and keep things short and sweet since it's a pretty lengthy hop.

I love that this release isn't all 'love' focused, my card features several of the new friendship themed products.

I started by creating a soft and subtle background for my card, stamping the Handlettered Friends Background on some soft gray cardstock with Altenew Silver Stone ink.

Then I stamped this sweet image from Kindred Spirits on Neenah Solar White cardstock with Gina K Black Amalgam Ink and colored it with Copics.  The image was then die cut using the coordinating dies.

Finally, I die cut a couple of banners, and stamped a sentiment from the Friend Greetings set with Versafine.

I popped both the banners and the girls up with foam tape for some dimension.

OK, your next stop on the hop is the amazing Yoonsun Hur, and the entire hop list is below:

Thursday, January 20, 2022

SSS And Back Again, Heart Mandala

*This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp

Today I'm featuring some more of my favorite items from the Simon Says Stamp And Back Again release, the Heart Mandala background and stencil set.

I love that these items work both on their own as well as together.  

For this first card, I used just the stamp.  It wanted a very subtle background, so I stamped it with Gina K Whisper Amalgam Ink.  The panel was trimmed down and adhered to a kraft mat.

Then I added a layered die cut, the Etched Evening Blossom die, which was cut four times from white cardstock and then layered together to create a dimensional piece.

Finally, I added a sentiment from the XL Love Greetings set.  It was stamped with SSS Latte ink, die cut with the coordinating die, and popped up with foam tape.  

I love the soft look of that background!

Next some very bold cards featuring the stamp and stencil combination.

I started by stamping the background with Versafine ink.

Then I pulled out the stencils.  The set comes with four stencils, one which stencils the detailed stamp design, and then three coordinating stencils that allow you to add color to the three layers/rings of the stamp/detail stencil.

For this card I just used those coordinating stencils.  Starting with the outer layer working in, I inked my stamped image using SSS Marine ink, SSS Sprout ink, and then Altenew Fresh Lemon ink.

Using my paper trimmer, I cut the design in half so that I could get two card for the price of one, and fussy cut around the outer layer of inking.

I created both a portrait and landscape version of the card.  For the landscape version, I embossed a sentiment from the XL Love Greetings set in gold at the bottom of a panel of black cardstock, and then popped the half mandala up with foam tape along the top border of my panel.

For the portrait oriented card, I again popped the half mandala up with foam tape over a panel of black cardstock, and then popped up over that a sentiment from the All About You set that was die cut with the coordinating dies.

I love the contrast between the first card and the last two.  It really shows the versatility of these products!

Come back tomorrow for more And Back Again fun! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

SSS And Back Again Release

*This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp.

Hey everyone!  It's been a minute!  Quiet on the blog front, but busy on the home/work/crafty front.  I'm glad to be back sharing some work here, and I've got lots more to share in the weeks to come using items from the latest Simon Says Stamp release, And Back Again.

Today's cards feature one of my favorite items from the new release, the Big XOXO die.  

I love how versatile this die is, it really works with whatever you have in your stash.

For my first card, I started by clear embossing the Chevron Pattern background on some white cardstock, and then I blended ink over top.  I used Simon Says Stamp Sweets and Taffy Pawsitively Saturated Ink as well as Altenew Fresh Lemon Ink.  Then I die cut the Big XOXO from a panel of white cardstock which was popped up over my background panel.

This would have been perfect as a shaker card, but I'm super lazy and didn't feel like making a shaker.

I added a sentiment from the Reverse Sassy Love Sentiment Strips to finish things off.

This next card can be created with whatever images you have on hand.  Again, that's one of the things I love about this die, it's sized to work well with a lot of the things you already have.  In this case, I pulled out a retired Paper Smooches set.  

I stamped the images, colored them with Copics, and then die cut them.

Then I die cut the Big XOXO from a panel of soft gray cardstock.  The panel, as well as the centers of the Os were popped up with foam tape.

I arranged my stamped images over the die cut, adhering them with foam tape.

To finish things off, I added a small sentiment from the Reverse Sassy Love Sentiment Strips which was also popped up with foam tape.

Super simple, clean and simple cards.  

There is much to love in this new release, so be sure to head over to Simon to check it all out.

I'll be back tomorrow with more inspiration!

Friday, December 31, 2021

December 2021 in Books

Hi all!  A respectable list of books this month, and I was able to throw a couple of the girls books in the mix too.  Here's the rundown:

China in One Village: The Story of One Town and the Changing World - Liang Hong - non-fiction - three stars - This was an interesting read, although rather dry.  The author returns to her home village to spend an extended time interviewing those there about the changing face of Chinese villages.  What I thought was really interesting about the result was how the villages are now the domain of the very old and the very young.  Young people leave the villages to go to cities to find work.  The older generation stays there, and when the young people have kids, they send them to the villages to live with their grandparents.  This has turned on its head the culture of the village.  Where once it was the husband's mother who held great power as her daughters-in-law came to stay in the home and work under her, now the grandparents have been superceded.  They are caring for their grandchildren, in part because they want to, but also in part because they fear if they don't, when they grow old, their children will not take care of them.  Kids have very little tie to their parents, so it will be interesting to see how this affects Chinese society in the future.  In addition, I thought it was interesting that education no longer seemed important to those in the villages.  Those who have gone on to school have had difficulty finding good jobs, essentially wasting money making years, many just want to skip the education and go straight to making money.  Interesting, but slow read.

The Vanderbeekers Make a Wish (The Vanderbeekers, #5) - Karina Yan Glaser - juvenile fiction - five stars - The Vanderbeekers are a favorite in our house, so I was excited to read this new book.  The Vanderbeekers are planning a surprise party for Papa's birthday, but he is unexpectedly called out of town when his best friend's father passes away.  Meanwhile, Mama's parents arrive unexpectedly for an extended stay, and let's say they aren't the most fun grandparents.  The kids are trying to find the perfect birthday gift for Papa which leads them on a journey to his past.  I really loved the characters from Papa's past that we were introduced to as well as the development of the relationship with the grandparents.  Another great Vanderbeeker story.

The World Played Chess - Robert Dugoni - historical fiction - five stars - This was easily my favorite book of the month.  I loved The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, and was excited to see another standalone book from Dugoni.  He's written a ton, but a lot of his books are series, and I'm not necessarily looking to get into a series.  This was such a good story.  There are three dueling narratives.  Vincent Bianco present day as he deals with his family growing and learning, Vincent past as he himself is growing up, leaving high school and learning about the real world, and William, who Vincent worked with just after high school.  Vincent receives a war diary in the mail which sets things in motion as he starts to recount the past.  The diary tells the story of William and what he went through in Vietnam before Vincent ever met him.  I really love how the three parts wove together to shed light on the things Vincent was dealing with in present day, and I also like that Dugoni doesn't leave us hanging, that he ties up the loose ends and that although we don't know all the answers, we have a good feeling of closure at the end.  Highly recommend.

The Joy and Light Bus Company (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency #22)
- Alexander McCall Smith - fiction - four stars - Mwa Ramotswe books are always fun to read.  It's like reconnecting with an old friend.  In this installment, Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni attends a business course.  He meets an old friend, and is drawn into a a business venture, a bus business.  He will have to mortgage his garage in order to get the money for the investment though.  This has Mwa Ramotswe feeling very uncertain.  Meanwhile, she takes a case to determine if the nurse of a man's ailing father has ulterior motives.  The man has updated his will to leave the nurse his home.  I always enjoy seeing how Mwa Ramotswe tackles a problem/case.  The one thing that bothered me a bit about this book was her intervention in Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni's business venture, but I can kind of see both sides of that.  Anyway, enjoyable as always.

The Sentence - Louise Erdich - fiction - three stars - This one was a disappointment, it's probably closer to 2 1/2 stars, bur I rounded up.  I really loved her previous book, The Night Watchman, so was excited for this one to come out, but it was just kind of weird to me.  There were just too many things going on I felt like, connections that were half there, or kind of there but not really fleshed out.  I feel like this book needed to incubate a bit more, like they kind of rushed it out.  The events take place during the pandemic, and it just seemed like it needed editing.  It's about a woman who works in a small bookstore in Minneapolis which is being haunted by a former client.  Meanwhile, her husband's daughter arrives for a visit with her newborn daughter, and just after that the pandemic is in full swing.  Just never quite got there for me.

The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches from Syria - Janine Di Giovanni - non-fiction - three stars - This book follows the travels of journalist Janine di Giovanni and she traveled in Syria in May 2012.  Di Giovanni is not new to war/genocide.  She covered the Serbian conflict extensively, and finds herself drawn into another similar situation.  She juxtaposes the start of the war, when people were still living in disbelief, having parties, shopping, etc. to those living in the midst of the conflict.  There are no answers to the issues at hand, just an accounting of life in a war zone, families trying to survive, etc.  It's a bit fragmented, I felt like there were parts where she delved a little too much into her feelings/emotions, but overall it was eye-opening.

Falling - T.J. Newman - fiction - four stars - This one is probably closer to 3 1/2 but rounded up.  It's about a flight in which the pilot's family has been taken hostage.  They want him to crash the plane into a to be named location, and also to release a canister of gas into the passenger area.  I will say that this was a book that kept my interest and was a fast read because of that.  I liked the characters in the book a lot, and the writing was good.  The reason that I ding it is really because of how implausible it seems.  From how this is carried out when it seems like the individuals involved are lone wolfs, to the scenarios on the plane.  If it was an action movie you would be entertained, but if you thought about it later you would agree that that didn't make a ton of sense and couldn't really happen.  But still very entertaining read.

Tumble & Blue
- Cassie Beasley - juvenile fiction - four stars - I was happy to see another book from Beasley, Circus Mirandus was one of Ellie's favorites a couple years ago.  This time Carina was the reader and she really enjoyed it, reading it twice before passing it on to me.  Tumble and Blue are two misfit kids who don't quite fit in.  They find themselves in Murky Branch, where their parents grew up, in an attempt to give them more 'normal' lives.  They find that their families are linked through an age old curse whereby some of the people in the family have 'gifts' and some have 'curses'.  Guess which kind of kids they are?  Anyway, the entity which doles out these gifts/curses is scheduled to do this again soon.  The result is that tons of Blue's family, the cursed kind, descend on Murky Branch hoping that they can reverse their fortunes.  This was another book where I liked the concept and I liked the characters, but I just found the storyline unfocused and convoluted.  Could have used some more editing, but still enjoyable.

God's Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian's Fight for Freedom - biography - five stars - I picked this one up from our church bookstore.  It was such a good read.  It tells the story of Bob Fu.  His dream was to leave the farmer's life, go to a good school, get a good job, and make a difference in his country as well as for his family.  Things rarely go as planned though.  Instead of getting into one of the better schools he got into the teacher's college.  There he became involved in politics, bring a group of his classmates to the Tiannamen Square protests.  He ended up having to leave to take someone to the hospital when things took a turn there, but he was still marked as a dissident.  He went through interrogation, was shunned by his classmates, etc.  During this difficult time, he came to Christ and his life was changed.  Later he became an  English teacher in the Communist University.  There he really began to live out his faith and share with others.  Again, he, and now his wife, were targeted.  They eventually had to flee the country.  They were granted asylum in the U.S. where he founded ChinaAid, an organization dedicated to helping those suffering from religious persecution in China.  He has helped numerous people escape the country, provided funding for legal representation for those still in the country, and also helped to spread the word within the country.  I loved this one.

As I mentioned, my favorite this month was The World Played Chess closely followed by God's Double Agent.  Would love to know what you are reading.  I'm currently in the middle of Cloud Cuckoo Land, and next up is The Back Channel.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

SSS To the Moon Release Birds, Take 3

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp

Hi all!  I've got one last bird card to share with you today using the dies from the Simon Says Stamp To the Moon release.  Today's card features the Layered Birdie die.

Just as in the last two cards, he was die cut from white cardstock and colored with Copics.  He actually has a second half wing that you can layer over his large wing for some extra dimension/texture, but I opted to just go with the single wing.  Still, I really like that there is that option.

My last two cards were a bit more wintry/serene.  I was trying to go with a warmer more spring like card when I colored this little guy.

For the background, I used one of the stencils from the Polka Hearts set, inking it lightly with Altenew Sea Breeze ink, then shifting it over and inking again.

I also added a bit of splatter, a bright blue and a gray for some extra texture, and then stamped a sentiment from the All About You set directly over the stenciling/splatter.

The little bird was popped up with foam tape to add some dimension.

OK, you've now seen all three of the bird dies in the To the Moon release.  I'd love to know which one is your favorite.