Friday, August 31, 2018

August 2018 in Books

A lot of books this month, but kind of mediocre. There weren't a ton of must reads, but certainly some good books a couple that I really enjoyed. Here's the lowdown:

The Coincidence Makers
- by Yoav Blum - fiction - three stars - So a really interesting premise in which there is a group of people who arrange events to bring people together, to effect an important historical event, creation, invention, etc. It was kind of interesting, but just didn't come together for me. I just didn't connect with the characters, and at the end of the day I didn't like the idea that there's this strange shadowing group of people controlled by who knows who that are essentially runnig the world.
The Astonishing Color of After - by Emily X.R. Pan - young adult - four stars - Leigh (half Asian, half white) loses her mother who was clinically depressed to suicide. Sh believes that her mother has turned into a bird and is trying to tell her something. This leads her to Taiwan to meet her estranged grandparents as well as work through feelings for her best friend who is becoming something more than that as well as her father. There is some of the fantastic and supernatural that I both enjoyed but left me puzzling a bit. Definitely worth the read.

The Saturday Night Supper Club (Supper Club #1) - Carla Laureano - fiction - four stars - Kind of a fluffy book, but an easy read. It reminded me a lot of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. The main character is a female chef who is a partner in her restaurant. Following a social media snafu, she's forced out by her partners. The guy who inadvertently caused the incident tries to make it up to her, they become romantically involved, etc. I liked the characters and it was a cute albeit mostly predictable story, although I'm not necessarily compelled to read additional books in the series.

Stalin's Meteorologist: One Man's Untold Story of Love, Life and Death - by Olivier Rolin - biography - three stars - The author comes across the story of Alexey Wangenheim a meteorologist honored by Stalin and then a year later exiled to the gulag where he eventually dies. Of course his family isn't told until years later, when he is officially rehabilitated. The author does a lot of research and is able to use letters and documentation to put the pieces together. It's good detective work, but this is another one where it's a great story, but so boring to read. 

The Atomic City Girls - by Janet Beard - historical fiction - four stars - About a girl who works at Oak Ridge Tennessee on the Manhattan Project during WWII. What I really loved about this one is how much I learned. I didn't realize that the whole city was basically built just for the project, the amount of secrecy, the jobs that the women/girls did, life in the town, the fact that it only took three days for most of those folks to get clearances. Just really interesting information. The story itself was so-so. It followed several individuals and their experiences. I wasn't really crazy with some of the decisions the characters made, one of them, the jerky conflicted scientist who I think they are hoping you feel sorry for at the end of the day is just a jerk. That part of it fell a bit flat for me, but again, there was so much information told in a really interesting way, definitely worth the read.

Samantha Spinner and the Super Secret Plans (Samantha Spinner #1) - by Russell Ginns - juvenile fiction - five stars - The only non-adult book I read this month, and it was a really cute one. I've been trying to find good chapter books for Carina. She is into action/adventure and graphic novels. This is about a girl whose uncle disappears/dies. Everyone else thinks he's dead, but she's convinced he is alive. He leaves a boatload of money for her older sister, gives the Yankees baseball team to her younger brother, and leaves her an umbrella. She's a bit peeved about this before she realizes it's actually a map and a clue. Adventure ensues. It's a really cute and clever book and there's little interesting clues that kids won't get, but adults will. For example, her uncle has a habit of giving rare items to her younger brother who promptly loses them. A stamp with an upside down airplane, rare baseball cards, etc. Adults will pick up those cues and have a chuckle while most kids will just keep reading. Loved it and Carina enjoyed it too.

Palace of Treason (Red Sparrow Trilogy, #2) - by Jason Matthews - fiction - five stars - The sequel to Red Sparrow, I think I actually liked this one better. I feel like there was a lot of set up, needed explanations regarding spycraft, etc. In this book that groundwork has all been laid and it's straight to the action. Katerina continues to work as a double agent in Russia while Nate cultivates a new source and they plan a complicated plan to prevent the Iranians from creating a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, the U.S. needs to unmask a mole before Katerina's cover is blown, and she must protect herself from her jealous lunatic superior. Really good, and I have the series conclusion in my pile of TBR books already.

The President's Hat - by Antoine Laurain - fiction - five stars - This is the second book I've read by Laurain (the first being The Red Notebook - also five stars), and I knew I wanted to read more.  Like the previous book, this is on the shorter side and just a sweet story. A man picks up President Mitterand's hat and good things start happening to him, through a series of circumstances it passes through a number of hands bringing luck and changing the trajectory of those who have it. I loved it as well as how it was wrapped up in the end. Laurain has several more books that I will definitely be reading.

Summer Hours at the Robbers Library - by Sue Halpern - fiction - three stars - I almost stopped reading this after the first chapter, and frankly I was halfway through the book before I actually started really becoming interested or caring about any of the characters. It's the story of a struggling library in a struggling town and the people it brings together. At the end of the day the story just wasn't that compelling because most of the characters just aren't that likable. You feel bad for them, but you don't necessarily like them.  It finally came together and by the last third of the book I wanted to know what happened, but you really should have to wait that long.

What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home - by Mark Mazower - biography - three stars - The author traces his family's history. They were Jews who left Russia prior to WWII.  Mazower's grandfather was a Bundist (I've never heard of this group), but they were a leftist Jewish political group in Russia, they opposed the Tsar, but did not well align with the Bolsheviks either.  It was a bit of an education into the different political factions operating in Russia, and Mazower obviously did his homework using old letters from his grandparents/parents and locating and interviewing witnesses, but at the end of the day this was a really boring book and it shouldn't have been.  These folks had very interesting lives, it was educational, but not very interesting - took me a while to finish this one.

Hoping that September is a better reading month, and so far so good. I'm currently reading the autobiography of Rachel Jeffs (one of Warren Jeff's daughters who left the FLDS chruch), Untangled, The House Girl, White Chrysanthemum, and The Kremlin's Candidate (last in the Red Sparrow series). How about you guys.  Any must reads?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Super Simple with The Stamp Market

It's so nice when cards come together quickly and easily.  I really love how well thought out The Stamp Market products are, and how they enable you to create with ease.

This card features the Bloom With Hope 3x4 set which is actually being discontinued, so you can pick it up for just $4 right now.

I started by spraying a panel of white cardstock with Fresh Lime and then Dirty Martini Dylusions Ink Spray.  This was done holding the spray about a foot and a half away from the corner of the panel and spraying almost perpendicular to the paper.  

Once I was happy with the coverage, and the panel was dry, I simply stamped the flower and sentiment with Versafine.  I did this using my MISTI so I was able to do a double inking to get a really crisp, dark image.

A thin strip of black cardstock grounds the flower and finishes things off.

This is another of those designs that would be very easy to mass produce.  You could easily make a set and could mix things up by altering the colors of spray you used.  

Thanks for visiting!  I'll be back tomorrow with this month's reading recap!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Altenew / Alexandra Renke Mash-up

I've been dying to use some of my newest purchases and combined several them on today's card.

I started by cutting Altenew's Doodled Dots Cover Die from  light gray cardstock.  I wanted a tone on tone look, so I also cut a card base from the same gray cardstock.  To add a little bit of interest, I added a panel of vellum between the base and the cover die.

That gorgeous floral die cut was cut from cream cardstock and lightly adhered to the card.  I added a strip of stitching for some extra texture and to create a subtle defining line for the sentiment.

Altenew's Simply Hello die was then cut from Limeade Ice cardstock three times and adhered together.  I then placed it on the card weaving the floral piece between the ls for some extra interest and dimension.

Finally, for another bit of texture, I randomly added some small cream sequins in a few of the dots.

This was such a fun card to create, I really love the mix of textures and elements.

Thanks for visiting!

*Affiliate links in text to Altenew and below to Ellen Hutson

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Rubeena's Crafting Anniversary Blog Hop

Hi everyone! Today I'm helping to celebrate my friend Rubeena's crafty anniversary.  This is a two-day hop with more than 70 guests and over $1,000 in sponsored prizes. You should have arrived here from Laurel Beard's blog.

Not only are we celebrating four years since Rubeena first discovered cardmaking but also crafting in general. This industry is made up of wonderful individuals who are creative, inspirational, kind, and incredibly supportive!

In celebration of this anniversary, there are several amazing sponsors. Winners will be randomly selected from comments left on all the blogs and announced by Wednesday, September 5 on this page: Winners will have up to 2 weeks to contact Rubeena at to claim their prize.  Here's a list of all the prizes to be won:

Studio Katia - $50 gift card
Hello Bluebird - $50 gift card
Altenew - $50 Gift card
Pinkfresh Studio - $30 gift card
Gina K. Designs - $50 gift card
Clearly Besotted - £25 gift card
Simon Says Stamp - $25 gift card
Spellbinders Card Kit ($55 value).
Jennifer McGuire - $50 Simon Says Stamp gift card
Winnie & Walter, LLC - $40 gift card
Mama Elephant - $25 gift card
Hero Arts - $25 gift card
Nichol Spohr LLC - Custom-sewn rainbow pencil case filled with brand new Spellbinders dies
Danielle Flynn - $25 Simon Says Stamp gift card
Picket Fence Studios - four $25 gift cards
Ellen Hutson - two $25 gift cards
Pretty Pink Posh - two $30 gift cards
The Stamp Market - July 2018 Release (estimated $100 value)
Indigojade Art Shop - $50 gift card to Art Prints & Gifts Shop
Flora & Fauna - a 4x6 stamp set
Waffle Flower - $25 gift card
Power Poppy - $50 gift card

And here is the card I created for today's hop (I'll try and keep this short and sweet since there is a lot to see on this hop!):

My card features the Have Courage stamp set from Neat & Tangled. I cut a panel of watercolor paper and heat embossed the gingko leaves with clear embossing powder.

The panel was then watercolored using Kuretake Gansai watercolors.  I actually used very minimal colors here - two shades of blue and one shade of green, but I did paint this in layers going over the piece a number of times to get the level of vibrancy and color I was looking for.

The sentiment is also from the Have Courage set and the panel was popped up over some chartreuse cardstock for some dimension.

OK, your next stop is Leanne West, and I've got the full hop list below in case you get turned around.  Happy hopping!

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

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Peony Cool Vibes

Hey everyone!  Today I'm sharing a card using the gorgeous Peony Cool Vibes Stamp and Die set from Spellbinders.

These flowers are gorgeous and so detailed, and I love that they come with this very simple but modern feeling sentiment.  It's a great combination.

I started by stamping a cluster of flowers to frame my sentiment.  I did stamp a couple of masks on post it notes to use in achieving this look.

While I wanted to color with Copics, my brain was tired, and I didn't want to have to think about shading.  Luckily these flowers are perfect for simple coloring since they have all those detailed lines.  So, I picked three shades of each of the color families, and just alternated as I colored - light, medium, dark.  Because of the detail in the flowers this isn't a super quick way to color, but it's very easy to do.

The sentiment was stamped in Versafine, clear embossed, and then die cut and popped up over the flowers.

I just love striking what a look this is, and again the juxtaposition of the detail in the flowers and the clean lines of the sentiment are just right.

That's all for me today.  Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Diamond Thank You

I shared this card a couple weeks ago where I used the Detailed Diamonds set from The Stamp Market to create the background.  There is a coordinating die set that I used for today's's only $5.99, so lots of bang for your buck  The dies come wired together, and while I'll eventually cut them apart, there are all sorts of fun things you can do when they are wired together.

For this card I cut the nested diamonds three times from three different colors of cardstock - blue, orange, and white.

Then I just played with them a bit mixing up the different layers.  This creates a design that still has the structure I think your eye wants, but it is a more dynamic/bold design.

The sentiment is from Altenew's Arabesque Medallion set, and I kept it very simple so as not to detract from the background.

This is a fun design because it can definitely be altered to suit different moods.  This is very bold and bright because of the colors used, but substitute in a soft gray and yellow and you'd get a vastly different look.  Similarly, if you used some gold mirror board and black, you could get a very elegant, deco look.  Lots and lots of possibilities!

Thanks so much for visiting, hope your week is going well!

*Affiliate Links Below

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Polar Bear Peace

It's just over three months until Christmas and I can count the number of Christmas cards I've created this year on one hand....that's not good odds for getting these done on time!

I was feeling like I need to make at least ONE card, so I pulled out some of my Ellen Hutson stamps.  I've used this background from the Wonky Backdrops set before for Christmas cards.  It just creates the perfect little backdrop for a quick and easy card.

Before I stamped the background though, I stamped the polar bear from the Arctic Pals set.  I also stamped him on a post it note and fussy cut him out to use as a mask.  This was placed over the polar bear and then I stamped the background.

Because I wanted the fade-in look for the background, I used a sponge dauber and stamped the background multiple times to get the transition I wanted.  I'm actually using one of the oldest inks in my collection - Outdoor Denim from Close to My Heart.  It's really my favorite navy color when I'm looking for a darker, cooler navy.

A little tip, the CTMH inks don't blend as well as some others that one uses for solid stamps, like Hero Arts or Altenew.  To get a smoother finish, I inked up the background with Fairy Dust ink from WPlus9 and that seemed to really smooth things out some.

The sentiment is from an older discontinued EH set - it actually says Peace Love Joy, but I masked off the other two sentiments.

I'm hoping this is just the first of MANY Christmas cards I'll have to share in the coming weeks. Keep your fingers crossed!

*Affiliate Links Below

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Spellbinders Rose By Another Name, Watercolored Two Ways

Today I'm showing off some of Stephanie Low's latest collection for Spellbinders, Inked Messages.  I am totally smitten with this rose image from the A Rose By Any Other Name set.  

For this first card I stamped the image with Versafine and then colored it with Spectrum Noir Aqua Watercolor Markers.  

The sentiment is from Neat & Tangled's No Words set. 

This is such a pretty image and really holds it's own.

My next card is kind of the opposite of the first.

I again stamped the rose with Versafine, but instead of coloring the flower, I watercolored around it creating a color blocked background.

The sentiment is from the True Love set, also in the Inked Messages collection.  The image itself has some dots in the rose, so I added some black splatter to mimic that and soften the background a bit.

So two very different cards using the same image and medium.  Would love to know which is your favorite!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Be True to Yourself - Pinkfresh Studio

I had a little time to just play the other day and pulled out some new Pinkfresh goodies.  I started by using the gorgeous Geo Floral cover plate with some patterned paper from the Escape the Ordinary collection.  I trimmed it down so it looks less like a cover plate and more of a kind of fragment or piece from a digital die cutting machine.  

I wanted something really subtle to go behind it and found an extra panel that I had misted with Distress Stain and the stencil used in this card.  

For the sentiment panel I used a bit of another piece of paper from the Escape the Ordinary collection and stamped it with the corner floral from the Always Flowers set as well as a sentiment from that set.  

I added a couple mats and then stitched them together and popped them up over the die cut panel.

A few clear sequins with Nuvo drops over top of them finished this one off.

That's all for me today.  Come back tomorrow, I have some fun Spellbinders projects to share.

*Affiliate Links Below

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Stash Busting with the Build A Tag dies

Hey everyone!  I've got a whole slew of tags to share today using the new Build A Tag dies

I got to thinking after I created this tag I shared last week, that this is a perfect set of dies for stash busting, so I set out to prove it.

I used one of my older paper collections (Amy Tangerine's Stitched collection for AC), cutting a 6" x 12" piece from eight different sheets.  Then I ran all the pieces from the Build A Tag set as well as the diamond die from the Gift Card Box Additions set through the die cut machine. 

Full disclosure I have extended cutting plates, so I could do this in one pass.  If you have standard sized plates you'll have to cut a piece off and run it through separately, but that is easy enough to do.

Here's a look at one of my cardstock sheets with all the pieces cut out.

Once I had all my pieces cut out, I basically lined up all the main tag pieces and then distributed the rest of them to each tag, mixing and matching the different patterns. 

I tried very hard to make this a quick set, not to over complicate things.  Normally if I was making just one tag, I'd probably add some stitching or embellishments, but here I limited myself to just adding a bit of foam tape for dimension.

All the sentiments are from the Thanks So Much stamp set.

There are so many different combinations and possibilities.  I'm planning to do this again, but with some old Christmas papers so I can knock out all the Christmas tags I need.

I hope this gives you some ideas and that you're able to make a dent in your pile of patterned papers too!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Winner Announcement

Hi friends!  Just popping in to announce some winners from last week's Neat & Tangled Birthday festivities.

Congratulations to:

@amykolling who wins the Gift Card Box die

Kim Heggins who wins the Thanks So Much stamp set

@mrsvrose who wins the Build A Tag die set.

Ladies, please shoot me an email with your mailing details and I'll get your goodies sent out!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

August Neat & Tangled Release - Just Your Basic Card

Hi everyone!  I've got one last project to share with you using this month's release.  Just your basic card using the Thanks So Much stamp set and Gift Card Box Additions die set.

This was a super quick and easy card and one you could easily mass produce.  I started by stamping and embossing one of the frame images from the Thanks So Much stamp set in gold on some cream cardstock, and then die cut it using the mat piece from the additions set.

I also stamped/embossed the diamond shape and the Bless Your Heart sentiment.  When I die cut that, I managed to not do a good job because I was rushing and didn't tack the die down and it shifted a bit.  So, I swiped my Versamark pad over the edges of the diamond shape and embosssed with gold to cover up my whoops.

I cut a mat for my frame piece from gold mirror board cardstock, and then used some foam adhesive to add a bit of dimension to the card and the layers.

Such an easy card, but I love the look of it!

Don't forget to stop by the Neat & Tangled blog to check out today's hop stops!

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Neat & Tangled August Release - Build A Tag

Hi all!  I'm back with another project featuring the August birthday release.  Today I"m sharing a tag using my new Build A Tag set.

This is a great basic tag set.  The tag itself measures 2 3/4" x 5" and comes with several additional dies - a rectangular mat, several circles, and a reinforcer for the top of the tag as well as for the hole.  If you're a tag person this is a great addition to your collection as a standalone die set.

Of course it also works perfectly with the rest of this month's releases.  For my tag I used the diamond and scored rectangle pieces from the Gift Card Box Additions die set, and a sentiment from the Thanks so Much set.

I am using an older Crate Paper 6x6 pad for most of the layers, although the rectangular scored piece and the circle reinforcer were cut with cream cardstock.

I also added some stitching to the diamond piece and then teased the edges up a little for some extra dimension.

I love all the layering possibilities with this set.  You could mass product a bunch of tags by just running various patterned pieces through your die cut machine and then matching them up together in different combinations - a great way to use up some scraps!

Also, just a heads up.  The Gift Card Box was so popular it sold out on Monday.  We put a rush on a new order, but they won't be here until the week of the 20th.  You can still order it on reserve, but your order won't ship until it arrives.  Alternatively, many of your know I'm an affiliate with Ellen Hutson.  Their order of goodies just arrived in the store, so you order through them while supplies last and get it in your hot little hands very quickly - EH shipping rocks! 

Don't forget to stop by the Neat & Tangled blog - remember there are some BIG prizes up for grabs and WOW, if you haven't been hopping along this week you've missed out on some seriously amazing projects!