Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November in Books

Here's this month's book list.  A lot of juvenile fiction.  I needed to finish up Ellie's Battle Books (her school is having a trivia contest based on a particular set of books and I told Ellie I would read them all with her).  The battle is actually on Friday, and Ellie is one of her class representatives, so keep your fingers crossed that she does well!  Besides that, I will say that it's possible I read my favorite book of the year this month.  Which one?  Read on to find out....

The Little Paris Bookshop - by Nina George - fiction - 3 stars - Story about a guy who has a bookstore on a barge/boat in Paris.  He has a bit of a mid-life crisis after reading a letter from his significant other who left abruptly 20 years before and the journey that ensues.  I really wanted to like this book more, but in the end I have the same opinion of it as I do of Saving Private Ryan.  Has a good opinion and a good end, but I wish they had cut out some of the towns in the middle...they all kind of felt the same and it was a bit of a slog to get through the middle part.

Half a Chance - by Cynthia Lord - juvenile fiction - 4 stars - This was a recommendation from Ellie and a good one at that.  It's about Lucy who moves to a new home on a lake and becomes friends with a neighboring family.  It's a great story, but I really appreciate how it gives kids an understanding of Alzheimer's - what it looks like in the early stages, how it affects people as well as the family, and also touches on issues of honesty, and friendship.

Dimestore:  A Writer's Life - by Lee Smith - biography - 4 stars - There was a time in life where 90% of the books I read were biographies.  I'd just wander through the aisle and pick out books about people who looked interesting.  I'd never actually heard of this writer before, but now I'm going to have to try out her fiction and see if I like it.  It was a great peek into growing up in Appalachia, written as a series of essays/sketches.  I liked the kind of bite size chunks of story.

Silverwing - by Kenneth Oppel - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - This is another of Ellie's Battle Books and I really enjoyed this one.  It follows the journey of a bat who gets separated from his family during their annual migration, and in finding them again manages to save the day.  This is actually the first in a series, and we've got plans to finish up the series together as we both really liked this one.

As Close to Us As Breathing - by Elizabeth Poliner - fiction - 5 stars - Such a good book!  Follows the story of a family, kind of jumping between the past (the year that the protagonist's brother dies at the beach) and the present.  I really love how the story was woven together.  You know the whole time that the little brother will die, but the details don't come until pretty late in the book, and it is really more about the cascading effect of it on the members of the family.

How They Choked:  Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous - by Georgia Bragg - juvenile non-fiction - 3 stars - This is another of Ellie's Battle Books.  It's a series of 14 sketches of famous people and talks about character traits that led to their downfall, or that prevented them from being really successful.  The good thing is that it introduces them to people they might not necessarily know of or might have a skewed 'hero' view of, for example Isabella of Castile, Montezuma, Ferdinand Magellan, Vincent Van Gogh, Amelia Earhart.  The sketches are pretty short, but this is a kids book and there were some things that are just thrown in there, not explained, but that you might have to explain, for example syphilis gets mentioned in passing.  Thank goodness Ellie didn't come ask about anything like that!

Ordinary Grace - by William Kent Krueger - fiction - 5 stars - OK, this might be my favorite book of the year.  If you haven't read it, you need to.  I'm normally a pretty fast book reader, I'm all about plot and I don't care about character development, but this book actually made me want to read more slowly.  It's the story of a particular summer in the protagonist's life and a series of deaths that occur in the small town in which he lives.  It discusses grace and justice and forgiveness, seriously you need to read this one.

I, Q. Book 6, Alcatraz - by Roland Smith - juvenile fiction - 4 stars - The conclusion of the I, Q. series.  This was a little predictable in terms of who the bad guy is, and got into a little weirdness with the Knight's Templar, but still a good book and satisfying end to the series, and overall I give the series 5 stars.

Children of Monsters:  An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators - by Jay Nordlinger - non-fiction - 3 stars - I was kind of fascinated by the topic of this book - how do the kids of bad guys (Mussolini, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc.) turn out?  It was a good book for a quick sketch of the kids, but didn't get into their lives in depth, which is what I had been hoping for, so basically it was a mis-match of expectations.  It was still interesting, but left me wanting to know more.

Big Little Lies - by Liane Moriarty - fiction - 5 stars - Liane Moriarty hasn't written a bad book yet, at least not that I've read.  Her books are funny, fast paced, great plots, interesting characters, this was no exception.  I really enjoyed how it all came together, and she has a great way to taking characters with very difficult situations and plots such as death and abuse in this book and still creating a very funny book.

Redwall - by Brian Jacques - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - Another wonderful Battle Book.  The librarian at Ellie's school really did a great job picking them all out.  This is a story of the creatures of Redwall Abbey who are being attacked by a villain, it involves an unlikely hero, a quest, lots of battles, really well crafted, and I'm happy that it's a series too, so we'll definitely be reading more about these critters!

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend - by Katarina Bivald - fiction - 4 stars - I had heard really good things about this book, so was excited to read it.  I'll admit the first quarter of the book I was kind of skeptical, it was a slow start, but in the end a great book/story about a woman from Sweden who goes to visit her pen pal in a small town in the U.S. only to discover that she's died.  Her reaction, the town's peoples reaction and how it all comes together was done really well.  I didn't realize it when I borrowed it, but this was actually written in Swedish and translated into English.  And actually the first book for this month - Paris Bookshop - was translated into English from French.

The Map Trap - by Andrew Clements - juvenile fiction - 4 stars - A nice, quick, short read.  It's about a boy named Alton who is obsessed with maps, and he even draws them.  I loved the idea of the different types of maps he created and the different data he used.  It's a bit of a mystery and also talks about friendship.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Peace on Earth

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I've been coloring some Christmas images.  This is one of my all time favorite images, and today I'm casing one of my previous cards.

Really simple, he's stamped with Memento and colored with Copics.  I used my Journaling Alphas dies for the second part of the sentiment.  I ran the letters through my Xyron - I think it's the quickest and easiest way to apply little die cuts.

A couple patterned paper mats finished it off.  I'm really in crunch mode on the Christmas cards now, but the end is in sight!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Three Sales to Check Out

Hey everyone!  Once you're done with your breakfast of pie, I have three sales to share with you.

Neat & Tangled - this is a really good one, especially if you're shopping today.  If you've been eyeing something, might want to head over early because I know some of the Christmas release has already sold out.  

Ellen Hutson - There are sales all weekend, but today it's 20% off, and it will be 20% off again on Monday, but of course it's another one of those shop early for the best selection deals.

I already shopped, and took the opportunity to pick up these things that I've been wanted for a while:

This is my affiliate link if you are so inclined:

Craftsy - All classes are $17.99 and below.  My class is actually on sale for $13.99 which is the lowest it has ever been!  Affiliate link:

Happy shopping and hope you are enjoying your weekend!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanks with Concord and 9th

Here's another of those images that makes card making easy.

I stamped the image with Memento and then used the fill images with various inks instead of coloring proper.  But for some additional dimension/interest I went back in with some Copics to add just a bit of color to deepen parts of the images.

The sentiment was stamped with Versafine and then clear embossed.

To make it extra special, I added Wink of Stella accents to the images as well as some enamel dots to the flower centers.

Hope you are having a wonderful week!

*Affiliate Links Below

Monday, November 21, 2016

Merry & Bright Ornament

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is this week!  I still have a lot to do in the Christmas card department, but they are coming along, as is the Christmas shopping.  And I have everything I need for Thanksgiving dinner, except for the French Cut Green Beans.  Why are those so hard to find?  But I digress.

I got to play with this Twinkle Towns set recently.  It's one of those sets where you don't need much else, and you can kind of rachet a card up or down in terms of simplicity pretty easily.

I kept this one pretty simple,  It's basically one layer, although I did add some faux snow and glitter for some extra texture and sparkle.

I also stamped the branch with my MISTI so I was able to add some extra dimension with multiple shades of ink to the greens.

A very simple, quick Copic coloring was added to the ornament itself and the branch.

The sentiment is from Mama Elephant's Polar Pals set and was curved to fit one of the little banners from my Scalloped dies set.

Looking forward to a short work week and pie on Thursday!!!

*Affiliate Links Below

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Everyone Deserves a Friend Like You

Here's another card that I created last month when I got together with my crafty friends.  It's so nice when a card comes together quickly and easily and that's the case here.  I'm totally smitten with these Concord and 9th products!

I started by stamping the leaves with Gold Delicata ink.  The background shadow image (which is so cool BTW) was stamped with Antique Linen Distress ink - I just wanted something very subtle back there.

Then I just added some dark splatter for contrast.

Finally the sentiment was die cut, another Concord and 9th product, and the panel was popped up over some gold paper.

Hope that your week is going well!

*Affiliate Links Below

Monday, November 14, 2016

25 Days of Christmas Tags

Hey Everyone!

I'm excited to be participating in the 25 Days of Christmas Tags once again.

This is an event that Tracey McNeely hosts each year.  There are lots of prizes involved, so you definitely want to check out her blog and get all the details.

Today Neat & Tangled is being featured, and several DT members have prepared tags.

Mine showcases the Doily Tag die and the new Scandinavian Prints Christmas Dies.

I love how the doily die frames the central element.

I created a background for the focal point using some patterned papers as well as a bit of actual doily, adding some stitching for texture.

Then the trees were added, the center one is popped up for some extra dimension.

I cut one of the little banners from the Scalloped die set and used a sentiment from Winter Wishes.  The right pennant part was trimmed off and then it was popped up with some foam tape.

I really love creating tags and enjoy this feature from Tracey.  I haven't quite decided if I'll leave this one a tag, or add it as the focal point for a card, but really, it came together so quickly I'm thinking I might just make another so I can have both.

OK, be sure to head over to Tracey's blog to get all the details about how to play along with the challenge as well as enter to win some prizes.

Have a great Monday!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Neat & Tangled November Release Recap and Giveaway Winners

Hey everyone!

Thanks so much for all your sweet comments this week, they have been very much appreciated!

The November release is now available in the N&T store, but before you head over there, here's a recap of my projects for this week:

I also need to announce a few giveaway winners!

Heidi wins the Happier Than stamp set

Ginny Klima wins the Star Stencil

and Rebecca Yahrling wins Scandinavian Prints Christmas.

Congratulations ladies!  Please shoot me an email with your address and I'll get these sent right out!

If you didn't win, don't worry, I've got lots more new stuff coming in the new year.  But, if you need something from this release right away, head on over to the store.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Neat & Tangled November Release - Day 4 - Giveaways

Today is our final day of reveals and I'm showing off my new sentiment set, Happier Than.

This was such a fun set to put together!  These sentiments will work perfectly with existing images in your arsenal or all on their own.  And they are great for kids too.  My girls have gotten a chuckle out of them, they'd make great lunch box notes.

For this first card, I pulled out my Turkey Talk set.  Since he's celebrating, he got a party hat (which came from Big Top Birthday).  

I layered him over some fun fall papers and that was really all that needed to be done.

Now some of you might be thinking you don't have images to go with these sentiments.  These work great on their own too!  Because they are a nice hefty size, they can really carry a card.  I whipped up a quick set of cards here using a chalkboard effect, but they would make a wonderful simple set with an inked/masked background as well as a watercolor wash.

I've got one more product releasing this month, Journaling Numbers dies.  We had lots of requests for numbers to coordinate with Journaling Alphas and I was happy to oblige!  I'm a sucker for any kind of advent calendar, so I whipped up a few tags (I still need to complete the full set) using the May Your Days be ornament and Journaling Numbers.  These would also be so cute as tags on gifts using the Journaling Alpha dies for initials.

Super easy.  The ornaments were stamped with Versafine, die cut, and then quickly watercolored.  Then I just popped one of the numbers in the opening, added a hole punch and twine, and voila!

I'll be selecting some winners from commenters on my release week posts to receive some of my new products.  To be entered leave a comment.  For an extra chance, you can follow me on IG (@mprantner) and leave an extra comment with your IG name.

Be sure to head over to the Neat & Tangled blog for the full reveal and to check out what the rest of the team created and to enter to win a giveaway there as well.

I'd love to know which of the sentiments in this set is your favorite.  Come back tomorrow to see if you're a winner!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Neat & Tangled November Release Week - Day 3 - Giveaways

Hey everyone!  Welcome back for Day 3 of our November release!

Today we're revealing my newest coverplate and stencil.  I love that we're able to bring you both.  I'm a sucker for a good coverplate, but those can be pricey.  If you're on a budget, the stencil isn't quite the same, but won't break the bank.

I showed off the coverplate on Monday (with that embossed background), so today I thought I would take the stencil out for a spin.

Super quick and easy.  I used a blender to lightly apply ink (pigment ink would definitely work, but I am partial to dye ink - you will need to experiment, as some dye inks are very fast drying and might now work as well, I'm using WPlus9 dye ink), in and around the small stars.  Then I sprinkled some Liquid Platinum embossing powder over it and heat set.  

Since I didn't ink heavily it's not a very solid embossing, but I wanted more of a fade out, so this works really well.  I did go back with an embossing pen to add some extra emphasis/highlighting around the edges of the stars and then re-embossed.

For my focal point, I stamped, colored, and die cut the ornament from one of tomorrow's featured sets.  I love the size of this ornament and that the lines are so nice and thick it's super hard to color outside of the lines ;)  

OK, be sure to leave a comment, I'll be selecting some winners from commenters on my release week posts to receive some of my new products.  To be entered leave a comment.  For an extra chance, you can follow me on IG (@mprantner) and leave a comment with your IG name.

Be sure to head over to the Neat & Tangled blog to check out what the rest of the team created and to enter to win a giveaway there as well.

See you back here tomorrow for the last day of reveals.  I've got one more thing to share with you guys!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Neat & Tangled November Release Week - Day 2 - Giveaways

Hey everyone!  It's Day 2, and today I get to show off one of my new stamp/die sets.

I'm so excited about this one!  I know there are some big Scandinavian Prints fans out there, and this is just Scandinavian Prints with a Christmas twist.

There are so many ways to use these stamps.  Here's just a few:

The beauty of this set, especially for Christmas, is that it really lends itself to one layer cards, and just like Scandinavian Prints you can be a sloppy stamper like me, and it's OK, it's a very forgiving set.

So for my first card I showed off a few of the versions of trees, super quick and easy and I just added a bit of gold mirrorboard cardstock at the bottom of the panel to anchor it.

While trees are a big focus of the set, I also wanted to show off a couple of the other stamps.

You can very easily make evergreen branches/twiggy trees or berry branches like in these examples.

There is also a set of coordinating dies, although they can really be used as standalone dies.

In this last card, I wanted to show off how easy they are to use even without the stamps.

There really are so many possibilities for this set, and while I intended it for Christmas, it will work all winter too.  I hope you like it!!!

As usual, I'll be selecting some winners from commenters on my release week posts to receive some of my new products.  To be entered leave a comment.  For an extra chance, you can follow me on IG (@mprantner) and leave an extra comment with your IG name.

Be sure to head over to the Neat & Tangled blog to check out what the rest of the team created and to enter to win a giveaway there as well.

See you back here tomorrow for some more new goodies!