Saturday, March 31, 2018

March 2018 in Books

Sisters First:  Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life - by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush - Memoir - five stars - I can't imagine being a President's kid let alone a President's grandchild.  Jenna and Barbara take turns writing on different topics/events, and it's just such an interesting read.  To see a President from a different perspective, to hear what it was like growing up under the microscope, to hear about what they have done since that time, it was a fascinating read and I really enjoyed it.

Lion - by Saroo Brierley - Memoir - four stars - This book has been made into a movie, and it's on my list of movies to watch, but I figured I would read the book first.  Saroo is a poor child in India who accidentally gets on a train and is taken far, far, away from home.  He eventually finds his way to an orphanage where they attempt to find his family, but he has traveled so far and doesn't know where he lived before and so is adopted out of the country to a family in Australia.  He still has very vivid memories of home and family and much later, after college, he attempts to and does find his birth family.  Kind of an amazing story.  I rated it a four solely based on the writing style.  This guy is definitely not a writer so it was a bit stilted for me, there were questions I would have liked answered and some areas where I didn't think the detail was warranted, but overall a great story.

Beartown - by Fredrik Backman - fiction - five stars - Just a wow book.  This is the third book I've read by Backman and I feel like they are all so different.  About a town in Sweden that is dying.  There's not much to live for, except hockey.  It gives folks hope, and purpose, and to those associated with it stature.  From the very first page in the book you know something terrible is going to happen, and the book goes on to show how it came to be.  This book is hard, it deals with friendship, with consequences, with motives, with doing what is right, but also with grace and forgiveness and healing.  So worth the read.  This was my favorite from this month.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper - by Patrick Phaedra - fiction - four stars - I liked this one a lot.  It's about Arthur whose wife died a year ago.  While cleaning out her things he finds an old charm bracelet he's never seen.  It leads him to investigate where the charms came from and he finds out about the rich life his wife led before he married her.  It also reignites his desire to live, he connects with some neighbors and reconnects with his children.  An easy read and a sweet book.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - by Gail Honeyman - fiction - five stars - I had a hard time getting into this one, but in the end I really enjoyed it.  Eleanor has a very difficult past, you don't find out how difficult until the end of the book, but it has affected her mentally, socially, and physically.  She lives an awkward regimented life, but then meets the new IT guy at work, Raymond, and through that acquaintance many others.  Her eyes are opened to the possibilities in life, both for her and for what she can offer to others.  Sad, and funny, and hopeful.

Lenin, Hitler, and Me - by Boris J. Kochanowsky - Memoir - four stars - This is another one where the writing itself detracted a bit from the story, but another fascinating life.  Boris was born in Siberia (not the work camp/labor camp Siberia, but a large, bustling city in lower Siberia) where his parents were well off.  Following the revolution/war, his family's land/properties were seized and they fell on hard times.  Boris was able to escape through Manchuria/Asia and ended up in Germany where he went to school.  He because an expert in mining, but then needed to flee during WWII.  Eventually he was able to make his way to the US after first emigrating to South America.  Resourceful and positive when so much was going wrong, he defied the odds and was able to thrive in each circumstance he found himself in.

Turtles All the Way Down - by John Green - Young Adult - three stars - I was really disappointed by this one.  I just expected a lot more based on all the hype over this book.  It's about a girl named Aza who struggles with mental illness/depression/anxiety, it's difficult to tell exactly what it is, in addition to just being a teenager and dealing with all that kind of thing.  She's got a good friend, and she gets sucked into the mystery of the disappearance of an old friend's father who is wanted (there's a reward involved).  I enjoyed the story, the examination of friendship, but it dragged for me.  I was just not into how angsty it was in places and random diversions and endless discussion over Star Wars fan fiction (who knew there was such a thing?).  I found myself skimming long passages where it just got too teeny for me.

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories (Wonder #1.5, 1.6, 1.7) - by R.J. Palacio - juvenile fiction - five stars - I loved Wonder, and so I have been wanting to read this one for a while.  This is three more stories from different characters in the Wonder story.  What I really loved about the original book is the different perspectives that you had on the same events, and this is no different.  I was especially touched by Julian's story.  He's the 'bad guy' in the original book, and yeah, he definitely was not good, but I loved how you could see what drove him here, and how he got to where he was.  What I love about these stories is how it helps kids empathize and see different points of view, it's a great way to discuss difficult situations with kids and how your actions/reactions affect others.

Spy Camp (Spy School #2) - by Stuart Gibbs - Juvenile Fiction - four stars - This is the second book in the Spy School series.  Ellie and I read the first one when it was one of her Battle Books.  It's a cute premise - boy gets recruited to attend a school for aspiring spies.  In this book school is out, but not actually as all the recruits attend summer school which is actually Spy Camp.  Ben, the main character, is still being recruited by a terrorist organization called SPYDER and they come after him at camp.  He needs to elude SPYDER, rescue friends, and thwart a terrorist attack.  Fast and fun read and a great series for boys.

What did you read this month?  Anything to recommend?

Motion Crafts Winner

Hi all!  Hope you are enjoying your Saturday!

Popping in to announce the winner of my Motion Crafts Blog Hop post.

The lucky lady is Debra Rumpza!

Congratulations Debra!

Please shoot me an email with your address and I'll get this mailed out!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Quick and Cute Easter Card

I was fortunate enough to meet much of the Heffy Doodle team at Creativation this year.  Such fun ladies and they have some really cute images too!  I was gifted this cute Easter set and just had to ink it up before the actual date!

Of course I'm pressed for time these days, so I kept things very simple.  One layer (if you don't cound the patterned paper mats), and some very simple Copic coloring - it's convenient that the bunnies are white.  ;)

For the grass, I just used little dots, in a variety of greens to get the effect.  I feel like my green Copic family needs a bit of work, and this saves me the trouble of having to work too hard to find blending combinations.

I have loads to do before Easter.  I think tonight will be candy and cardigan shopping at Target....

*Affiliate Links Below

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hey everyone!  I'm sharing a card today I created using a panel I colored way back during one of Kathy Rac's challenges using my Faceted background stamp.  This was not the latest challenge, but either the one before that, or the one before get the idea, I've had the panel for a while.  Unfortunately I kept finding and unfinding it.  Some might think this has to do with the state of my craft room, but I prefer to call it 'magic'. 

Anyway, the panel magically reappeared, and I decided it was time to put it to use.

Since the background is the star, I didn't want to overwork the card, so I kept things pretty simple.

The panel was trimmed down, and then I added a simple sentiment (also from the Faceted set).  I added a few clear and gold sequins and a bit of gold thread to finish it off.

Short and sweet today.  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Motion Crafts Blog Hop

Hey everyone!  I'm really excited to be part of Motion Crafts' first ever blog hop today!  You should be arriving from Michelle Ferguson's blog.

We are showcasing the Motion Crafts Spring Release which features 3 New Animation Die Cut Sets, and 6 New Animation Stamp/Die Cut Combo Sets.

Double Slider (DC111)
Peek-A-Boo Slider (DC112)
Pull Slider (DC110)

Bee Happy (Coordinating Dies Included)
Critters (Coordinating Dies Included)
ABC Motion
Hello Friends (Coordinating Dies Included)
Springy (Coordinating Dies Included)

All of these new products can be found on their website:

Each participant in the blog hop has their own prize giveaway, so be sure to comment on each of their blog posts.  My prize is the Sunshine stamp set and the Pull Slider die!

And on the Motion Crafts Blog there are three $50 gift certificates up for grabs!

This is a pretty long hop so I'm going to try and keep my descriptions brief so you can keep moving.

My first card today features the Pull Slider die that is part of my giveaway and the Bee Happy stamp set.

I started by stamping the bee and flower on some cardstock and coloring them with Copics.  I also added some sponged clouds in the background.  Note, if you are using the black and white animation grids, you want to pick brighter colors that stand out a bit more.  I had originally sponged the clouds with a lighter ink, but went back and upped the intensity.  I could probably have gone even darker.

Once that was done, I followed the directions here to put together the pull slider.  It seems complicated when you see all the dies, but it was actually really easy to do.  The linked video does a great job stepping you through the process.

The sentiment is from the Fox and Friends set and the papers I used are from Amy Tan's Stitched 6x6 paper pad.

Here's a look at the animation in motion:

For my next card, I thought I would try something a little different for those who might be budget challenged and can't pick up the dies right away.

I created a little pocket for my animation piece.  I also wanted to kind of flip the animation so instead of black, I used white.  

Here's a look at the frame I made for the animation piece.  Nothing fancy, I just cut and opening with my paper trimmer and then scored and notched the edges so I could fold them under.

The stamped/white embossed animation piece then became the bottom of the pocket.  Those stars are from the Essentials set.

There's a great little die that cuts the animation grid itself.  This is a very detailed die, so you do need to use a metal shim and run it back and forth a couple times.  Also, since I wanted the piece to be a bit wider than the die itself, I simply cut it once, and then extended it by sliding the die down my piece of cardstock, lining up a few of the openings, and die-cutting it again.

Once that was done, I trimmed off the animation grid to the right size and added a tab on the end.  Some patterned paper mats and die cuts stars and sequins finished this off.  The sentiment is from an old Fourth of July set that I have.  The patterned papers are from Shimelle's Go Now Go 6x6 pad from American Crafts.

And here is what the animation looks like in motion:

OK, that's all for me.  Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered to win my prize.  I'll select/announce a winner on Saturday.  Your next stop is Jeanne Jachna, and I have the whole list below in case you get turned around.  Good luck and happy hopping!

Motion Crafts Blog
Laura Bassen
Vicki Papaioannou
Kreative Kymona
Svitlana Shayevich
Martine Rijnbeek
Kelly Griglione
Karen Heyshek
Taheerah Aticha
Tracey McNeely
Vicki Finger
Michele Ferguson
Miriam Prantner
Jeanne Jachna
Keren Baker
Tammy Nickel
Carolina Zarate Ponce

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Love This and Ink Sale

I've been having fun with some of my newer stamp sets.  I really love this Charmed set from Altenew.  It's a 4x6 set, so a little easier on your pocket book, and features this floral cluster that has all sorts of great possibilities.

For this card I first stamped in on some watercolor cardstock using Fairy Dust ink from WPlus9.  I wanted something very light that I could use as a guide.  I also knew that I would go back and stamp in black, so I left the stamp in place on my MISTI.

Using that faint stamped image, I added loose watercoloring using Dylusions Ink Sprays.  The sprays have such bold vibrant hues and watercolor beautifully.

Once the watercoloring was dry, I took my panel back to the MISTI and stamped with Versafine Black Onyx ink.

To add some texture and interest, I used a journaling pen to add details to the leaves.

For a really bold and graphic element, but to keep the panel nice and flat, penciled in a line and then colored the area to the left with a black Copic marker.  I masked off that colored portion of the card and then added gold splatter.  Finally, I added a sentiment, also from the Charmed set.

One last thing, just wanted to let you know that there's a 20% off sale on ink pads and reinkers happening at Ellen Hutson today through Sunday with code INKY18.  If you are trying to round up a collection or need to stock up, now's a great time!  This link will take you directly to the ink section.

Happy Thursday!

*Affiliate Links in post to Altenew and below to Ellen Hutson

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

And Dim Sum!

Our family loves Dim Sum, so when Mama Elephant came out with this set last year I knew I was going to have to get it.

I finally pulled the trigger earlier in the year and this week gave it a little attention.

These images are just so cute.  I actually have the dies, but I knew that i was going to be layering the images over top of one another and wanted a cleaner look, without the kind of white frame around the image that you get when you used the dies.  Plus, these images are really pretty easy for fussy cutting.

I am literally hiding this card from my daughters because they will run off with it otherwise.

And I need to schedule a time for us to go to Dim Sum!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Couple of Spellbinders Cards

*This post contains affiliate links

Happy Tuesday! 

Today I have a couple of cards featuring some dies that Speillbinders was kind enough to send me to play with.

First up, a card featuring the Weekend Grill Etched Dies.  This is a really cute set, and I thought it paired perfectly with some older papers from the Simple Stories Summer Vibes collection that have been languishing in my stash. 

For the background I paired a journaling card from the collection with a couple of the 6x6 papers.

Then I die cut the grill elements and utensils from white cardstock and colored them with Copics, and arranged them on the card.

Really easy and this definitely has me in the mood for summer!

My next card features the Fishing Trip Etched Dies, although actually I decided to focus on just the fish die from the set.

It was cut four times from gray cardstock and once from blue. 

To add a bit of emphasis to the gray pieces, I used a gray Copic and just traced along the bottom edge of the die cuts.  These were then adhered along the bottom of my patterned paper panel.

I turned the blue fish over so he's facing in the other direction and added a bit of blue inking to it to deepen the color a bit (it was originally turquoise).

I also added some stamped waves and a sentiment from Ellen Hutson's S'Whale set.

Two totally different looks, but both pretty quick and easy.  Which is your favorite?

Friday, March 9, 2018

Neat & Tangled March Release Recap, Giveaway Winners, and SALE

It's Friday and the Neat & Tangled release is now available in the store!

Here's a recap of my projects this week:

I really had so much fun working with this month's release, and the products mixed so well together!

OK, I have some winners to announce!

@smilecards44 from IG wins the No Words stamp set

Mary Holshouser wins the Squares and Chevrons Cover Plate

Congratulations!  Winners, please shoot me an email with your mailing address and I'll get these goodies sent out.

If you didn't win and need to do some shopping, head on over to the store.  AND there's a little incentive for you too.  We're having a Crazy for Critters sale!

All weekend, you get 20% off our critter themed stamp sets with code;  CRITTERCRAZY.  So if you've been eyeing something crittery now is a great time to pick those things up.  If you need a direct link to those critters, click here.

Thanks so much for all your comments this week and have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Neat & Tangled March Release & Giveaways - Day 4

It's the fourth and final day of our release reveals!  Everything will be available in the store tomorrow at 8 AM EST, but first I get to show off my newest cover plate!

Meet the Squares and Chevrons Cover Plate.  I love cover plates, but lots of times I wish they were cleaner - that they didn't have the ribbing that helps you know where the pieces go so that they would look fully inlaid.  Of course, that's not reasonable with complicated patterns, but I figured with a bold enough design it would be doable, and this is what I came up with.

For this first card, I cut the cover plate from two different woodgrained patterned papers.  I did adjust the papers so that the grain was horizontal on the darker, and vertical on the lighter.

Then I proceeded to alternate the papers for the inlay.

I love what a clean look you get with this cover plate.

The sentiments are from the new Hello Spring stamp/die sets.

For my next card, I cut the cover plate from white cardstock and layered it over a piece of dark woodgrain patterned paper.  The lighter chevron pieces were left over from the previous card and inlaid into the design. 

Originally I was going to use those center squares as frames, and had colored a third squirrel, but then decided I wanted to place the sentiment in the center.

The stamps are from the My Favorite Nut set and were colored with Warm Gray Copics.  The sentiment is from So Many Sentiments and the banner is from the Scalloped die set.

OK, be sure to head over to the Neat & Tangled blog to see what the rest of the team created and be entered to win today's featured products.  Half of the team is featuring another cute mini set from Elena, so you definitely want to check that out too.

Leave a comment here as well.  I will be selecting a couple winners from this week's comments to win my new release products.  For additional entries head over to my instagram (@mprantner) and follow the directions there.

I'll be back tomorrow with some winners!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Simon Says Stamp Best Days Release

Hi all!

There's a new release over at Simon Says Stamp with some really cute spring products.  I was lucky enough to receive this cute Picture Book Crocodile to play with.

He kind of cracks me up, and I love that his lower jaw is a separate piece so you can have his mouth open or closed.

The crocodile was cut from green cardstock.  I then colored the ridges on his back and his belly piece (both cut separately so you could just cut from a darker shade of cardstock) with green Copics for contrast.

I put him in some water using Neat & Tangled's Stitched Slopes dies and added some depth/interest by inking the top of the waves with Antique Linen Distress Oxide and the bottom with some Altenew Dusk ink.

Since I wanted the crocodile to sit a little flatter to the card, I die cut the bottom of the Crocodile within the back wave.  This allowed me to inlay the crocodile.

The sentiments are from Tim Holtz's Hipsters set and the speech bubbles are from Lawn Fawn.  I used both the stamp set and the coordinating die.  The red is the die, and then I fussy cut the stamped image so you can see the red behind.

Oh, and that gray mat is actually just a scrap piece I found in the scrap bin, but I thought the edge provided a great contrast and some extra texture so I went with it.

OK, be sure to head over to Simon to check out the new release!

Neat & Tangled March Release & Giveaways - Day 3

Hi all!  It is Day 3 of our March release and we are highlighting a new set from Elena called Friendly Florals.

I sometimes get fixated on a particular image, and in this case it was the little floral sprig that I used in one of yesterday's cards (inside the Ornate Frame).  I like that particular image so much, I decided to make it the focus of today's card.

I stamped, colored (using R11, R22, G40, and G43), and die cut the image eight times, and then arranged it into a wreath.

To add a little texture, and make sure none of the pieces moved, I adding some stitching.

The sentiment is from my So Many Sentiments set and was die cut using one of the banners from the Scalloped die set.

Once you get past the coloring, this one is super duper easy.

Be sure to head over to the Neat & Tangled blog where you can leave a comment to be entered to win this set.

Leave a comment here too, I'll be picking a couple lucky winners at the end of the week to win one of my new release products.

See you back here tomorrow for the final day of reveals!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Neat & Tangled March Release & Giveaways - Day 2

Ready for Day 2 of the March Neat & Tangled release?  Today we're showing off my new sentiment set, No Words.  Sympathy cards are always tough to make, and so is finding the right sentiment.  One of my crafty friends was complaining about the lack of good sympathy sets, so this was my attempt to fix that.

For this first card, I kept things pretty simple.  I layered together three pieces of patterned paper.  The sentiment was stamped on some white cardstock, and I added a couple mats using the same patterned papers previously used.  I also added a couple floral die cuts from the 1canoe2 Hazelwood collection.

Next,  I created a focal point using the Ornate Frames stamp set, and that flower, which is something you'll see tomorrow.   The frame was stamped using the Warm Gray inks from Altenew, and the floral was stamped with Fairy Dust ink from WPlus9 and then no line colored using Copics.

The sentiment set has a variety of sentiments that can be mixed and matched, and I stamped two of them on my panel, and then popped the frame up using foam adhesive.

For this last card, I cut a piece of watercolor cardstock, added a bit of blue wash in the lower left corner, and then stamped a few flowers using the Scandinavian Prints set.  The sentiments were stamped in a darker gray over top of those.  I added a bit of splatter, and the some 'bits' and stitching at the top.  The panel was then popped up at a bit of an angle over some patterned paper.

Sympathy cards are never easy to create, but hopefully I gave you a few ideas in today's post.

Head over to the Neat & Tangled blog as Danielle is giving away this set to a lucky commenter.  I'm also going to be giving a set away to someone this week.  All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment on any (or all) of this week's posts.  Head over to my instagram account (@mprantner) for additional chances to win.  I'll announce a winner on Friday.