Friday, May 17, 2019

Neat & Tangled May Release Recap and Winners

Happy Friday!  The May release is now available in the Neat & Tangled store.  Here's a look back at my projects for this week:

I also have a couple of winners to announce.  Congratulations to:

lynda who wins the Quilted Background
@pixlnauts from IG who wins the Foliage Frame set

I loved working with this months products, it was a great way to end my time with Neat & Tangled.  Thank you all for your sweet comment this week.  Have a great weekend, and if there's anything from the release you need, it's available now in the N&T store!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Neat & Tangled May Release & Giveaways - Day 4

It's the last day of release reveals at Neat & Tangled and today we're showing off my new Foliage Frame set.  I love all my designs, but I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this one.  

It's always nice to have sets in your collection that allow you to create lovely elegant looks quickly and easily.  This one fits that bill.  There is a die set that coordinates with the set with an opening that you can cut in the center as well as coordinating dies for the individual leaf images, but I wanted to create some simple one layer cards today.

For this first card I cut watercolored a panel of watercolor paper using a single shade of of blue and instead of an ombre wash that continues across the whole panel, I created essentially two washes that faded towards the center of the panel.

Once that was dry, I heat embossed the background using Hero Arts Sand embossing powder which adds both some texture and sparkle.

I used my MISTI to stamp the sentiment so that I could stamp ifirst n color, and then directly over top again with Versamark so the sentiment could be clear embossed.

I have been plotting this second card since I designed this set.  I started by stamping the background with white pigment ink on kraft paper.

Then using Altenew inks, I stamped the individual branches on top of the white pigment ink.  I wasn't looking to be particularly precise here.  I love the look of colored ink over pigment on kraft.  When you don't stamp exactly it actually gives you some extra dimension and gives it a more rustic/vintage feel.

Once I was done with the leaves, I added some berries in red, just randomly stamping them about the panel, and finished off with the sentiment in the center.

You definitely want to stop by the Neat & Tangled blog to check out what the rest of the team has created, there are such pretty samples today!  While you're there leave a comment to be entered to win a set.

I have a set to give away too.  To be entered, just leave me a comment.  There are extra chances to win on my Instagram account too (@mprantner).  I'll be back tomorrow with a recap and winners!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Neat & Tangled May Release and Giveaways - Day 3

Hey everyone!  Welcome back for Day 3 of the N&T May release.  Today we're showing off my newest background - Quilted Background.

When I think of quilts I tend to think of them as homespun and rustic, and this background can definitely do that, but it's also got a wonderful graphic punch that is perfect for bold, modern backgrounds.  

This first card was so easy.  I chose four shades in the same Copic family (BG000, BG02, BG05, BG07), and colored the diagonal stripes in each block of my quilt.  No shading, just straight coloring.

I trimmed out a 4x5 block section, and popped it up over a plain white panel that I had stamped the sentiment (from Typed Sentiments) on at the very bottom.  

Really easy, but a great impact.

This next card was a little more complicated.  I stamped the background on some watercolor paper and clear embossed.  Then I used watercolors to fill in the different spaces.  There are endless designs and patterns you can create just by mixing up the colors.  I was going for a light bright feel here.

Once that was done I cut the panel down some.  I started with a square, but then decided I liked it tilted as a diamond.  This required trimming off the left and right ends, and then as I continued to play with it, I decided to trim off the top and bottom tips also, to fall in line with the edge of my mat.

That panel was popped up with foam tape, and I added a sentiment strip/mat (also from the Typed Sentiments set).

This wasn't quite what I had planned when I started creating this card, but I really like the soft architectural feel.

OK, that's all I have to share today, but I know the rest of the team has some great inspiration for you over on the N&T blog.  You can also enter to win this background stamp there.

I also have a background to give away.  To be entered, leave a comment.  There are extra chances to win on my Instagram (@mprantner) too!  See you back here tomorrow for the last day of reveals!

Simon Says Stamp Celebrate You Release

Hey everyone!  The Celebrate You release just went live over at Simon Says Stamp.  If you're looking for some new birthday products there are some really good ones in there as well as some Father's Day and Fourth of July items.  There are some great basics too.  The very kind folks at Simon sent me the I Love You die to work with.

I started by painted an ombre wash on a panel of watercolor cardstock.  Once that was dry, I added that gorgeous tree using the Fluttering By stencil and some gold embossing paste.  Gold embossing paste takes a while to dry, so I applied it before work, and by the time I came home, it was fully dry.

The panel was trimmed down and then adhered to a black mat.

Then I die cut the sentiment and shadow piece adhering them together and them to the card itself.

Although there was a lot of time required for drying, this was a really simple card to put together.

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Neat & Tangled May Release and Giveaways - Day 2

Ready for Day 2 of the Neat & Tangled May release?  Today we're featuring a new mini from Elena called G.O.A.T.

Since the GOAT acronym is most often used in relation to sports, I wanted to make a more masculine/graphic card.

I'm sneaking my new background that you'll see tomorrow, cutting out a frame for my goat and coloring it with Copics with shading towards the center of the colored section to add some dimension.

That cute little goat was also colored with Copics and die cut, and the sentiment was stamped directly on the card base.

The frame was then popped up with foam tape to add some dimension.

Be sure to head over to the N&T blog to check out the full set and see what the rest of the team created.  You can also leave a comment there to be entered to win this set.

I'll see you back here tomorrow for Day 3 and some more looks at the Quilted Background.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Neat & Tangled May Release Day 1 and Giveaways - and a Big Change

Hi all!  It's time for the May Neat & Tangled Release.  I've got a couple of items in this release that I can't wait to share with you, but today we're showing off a new set from Elena called Barnyard Buddies.

There are lots of different animals in the set that you can mix and match.  I picked a cute little trio for today's card and colored them with Copics.  The sentiment is from the Typed Sentiments set which I altered just slightly to remove the 'i'.  They do look like they are missing someone, don't they?

Then I added a few different patterned paper mats and that's was it.

You'll want to head over to the Neat & Tangled blog to see the whole reveal and enter to win this set there.

OK, I mentioned a big change right?  This really is a big one.  In fact, for me, if this year had a theme, it would be change.  There are some really exciting changes coming down the pike for Neat & Tangled that you'll start learning about soon  At the same time, I've been weathering some pretty big changes at work/home, both in terms of assignments as well as hours.  Based on all the changes happening (could I use the word change anymore in this post?!), this will be my last release/month designing for Neat & Tangled.

This was not an easy decision to come by.  I have been working with Danielle/Neat & Tangled for the last six years, as a designer, illustrator, and design team coordinator.  It's been a huge part of my life.  I am so grateful to Danielle for giving me the opportunity to dip my toes into the world of design, and for producing those designs month after month and year after year.

What comes next?  Well, honestly I'm not really sure.  I'll still be creating and sharing here on my blog - I have a very large pile of unused products that I'm looking forward to working with, and my scrapbooking has been severely neglected the last few years.  I've continued to design/illustrate, and am looking for the right fit for me going forward.  While these changes make me a little sad (because in general I am not a fan of change), I'm excited for Danielle and Neat & Tangled, and also to see what comes next for me.

Alright, enough of the sappy stuff.  This is only Day 1 of the release.  There's lots more to come, so I'll see you back here tomorrow for Day 2!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Concord and 9th Triple Step Hooray

I got this Triple Step Hooray set last year, and this week finally got around to inking it up.  I'm so glad that I did.

This set is PERFECT for mass production, and if you're someone like me who gets a little bored with mass production, this lets you change things up very easily.

I started by selecting my color combinations.  I used Altenew inks:  Silver Stone, Razzleberry, and Pure Graphite; Rouge, Crimson, and Dusk; Lemon Fresh, Bamboo, and Autumn Blaze; and Mountain Mist, Lagoon, and Galactic Stream.

Then I started stamping.  I started with the lightest colors, cleaning off each cleaning the stamp between each stamping and rotating through my color schemes.

Once the panels were complete, I also stamped the secondary sentiments, mixing those up as well, using the darkest shades from my color combinations.  Those were fussy cut and popped up on my stamped panels.

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm trying to make a dent in my patterned paper stash, so I opted for patterned paper backgrounds with a coordinating cardstock mat behind my stamped panel.

These came together so quickly, and it's so easy to change up the color schemes.  If you're looking for something to use to create quick and easy card sets, this is just the ticket. 

*Affiliate Links Below

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Life is About Taking Chances

Hi friends, I'm sharing this card over on the Neat & Tangled blog today.

Releases come fast and furious and sometimes it's nice to go back and work some older products.  Today I'm sharing a card created using the Life's A Game stamps and dies.  Back when these products came out I didn't really get to use all the dies, and I thought it was about time to do so.

I've also been feeling convicted about my copious amounts of unused patterned paper of late, so I decided to make this a patterned paper focused card.  I chose four patterns from the American Crafts Shimelle Collection 6x6 paper pad and cut the game tile dies twice from each of the patterns.  They were then arranged on another piece of subtle patterned paper.

Once those were all adhered, I die cut the LIFE letters and two game pieces from black cardstock and adhered those to the card, and then stamped the sentiments.

I really like how the use of patterned paper adds interest and texture to the card.  Thanks for visiting and hope your week is going well!

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

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Hello with Pinkfresh Studio

I've had this gorgeous Hello die from Pinkfresh Studio for a while now, and decided it really needed to get used.  Normally with dies like this, I'll do an inlay, and I'm definitely planning to do that at some point, but I was in a less fussy mood, and decided to do a bit of a twist on inlay.

I started by cutting a panel of the white and gold print from Pinkfresh's Escape the Ordinary 12 x 12 collection pack.  Then I die cut the hello from the panel, setting aside the actual die cut because I only wanted to use the negative space.  The leaf print was adhered to a plum/purple print from Pinkfresh's Indigo Hills 2 6 x 6 paper pad.  

The hello was then die cut from a piece of white cardstock and inlaid into the negative space in the gold print.  I also inlaid the letters so that the sentiment stood out more.  Note that when I inlaid the delicate die cut piece, I wasn't particularly careful about having it fully inlaid.  I left the edges without a ton of adhesive so some of the ends stand up a bit from the card creating some extra dimension.

For some additional dimension and texture, I added clear Nuvo drops in the centers of the flowers, and also used a clear Wink of Stella pen to add some sparkle to the letters in the sentiment.  It's hard to see in the photo, but adds just the right touch in person.

I trimmed the panel down just a touch height wise, so you can see just a sliver of the base beneath the panel, and popped the entire panel up with foam tape.

That's all for me today.  Hope you are having a great week.  It's finally warming up here, maybe too warm, it's supposed to be 87 today!

*Affiliate Links Below

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April 2019 in Books

March was not my favorite reading month.  There were a bunch of duds in there.  When that happens, I often go back to some favorite authors for solace.  Which is what I did this month and I was not disappointed.  There's also some great juvenile/YA reads this month - I think kids books tend to be more hit than miss for me.  All in all it was a really great month of reading.  Here's the rundown:

Little Broken Things - Nicole Baart - fiction - Quinn's sister Nora contacts her out of the blue asking her to meet.  At the meeting she asks Quinn to watch over a little girl and keep her safe, and then disappears.  As Quinn tries to unravel the mystery of the little girl her family's secrets are revealed.  This was a little predictable, but definitely held my attention and I liked how the story came together.

Night of Miracles (Arthur Truluv #2) - Elizabeth Berg - fiction - five stars - I was so excited when I saw this on the shelf at the library as I didn't realize that this had come out already.  It's a follow-up/companion to The Story of Arthur Truluv which I absolutely loved.  This book tells the story of Arthur's neighbor Lucille Howard whose in-house cooking school is flourishing, so she needs an assistant.  Enter Iris, who is running from her former life, and finds a new home in town.  Meanwhile, Lucille has new next door neighbors who need her as well.  Just as sweet and hopeful as the first book, I am very much hoping for more in this series!

The Shadows We Hide (Joe Talbert, #2) - Allen Eskens - mystery - five stars - I am a huge Eskens fan.  His books are so well put together and his characters so rich.  I love how this series of books are all tangentially related, but aren't necessarily a true series as the protagonist shifts from book to book.  This one focuses on Joe Talbert (who was also the focus of his first book, The Life We Bury) who has now graduated from college and is working as a journalist.  He is investigating the death of the father that he never met, who was apparently a wholly unlikeable individual, as well as additional family and secrets.

Coal River - Ellen Marie Wiseman - historical fiction - four stars - Wiseman is another of my favorite authors.  Her historical fiction novels are wonderful.  This one takes place in Pennsylvania and tackles issues of child labor and general exploitation in a coal mining town.  After the death of her parents, Emma Malloy returns to Coal River to be taken in by her aunt and uncle, who is the foreman of the mine.  She is expected to work in her aunt's home, and is appalled by the conditions she sees in the town, especially of the young 'breaker boys,' many of whom have lost limbs in the breaker.  She becomes involved in efforts to let the world know about the injustice in Coal River.  I really enjoyed the story, but I thought the ending was a little too pat which is why this got four stars.

Letters for Emily - Camron Wright - fiction - four stars - When Emily's grandfather dies, he leaves her a book of poems/stories.  She realizes that they are clues which when decoded reveal passwords that unlock letters on his computer.  The letters are words of wisdom that relate to not only his life, but also his hopes and dreams for her.  Her mother and father who are estranged work together with her aunt to uncover all the clues.  In doing so, relationships are repaired and the generational healing occurs also.  I really liked the book, although there were some things that I thought were extraneous that should have been edited out, and it kind of bothered me that the letters were for Emily, but the mom and dad kept solving them, but those were minor nits.

The Alice Network - Kate Quinn - Historical Fiction - five stars - Absolutely loved this one.  After WWII, Charlie St. Clair goes to France to look for her cousin Rose who disappeared during the war.  Her search leads her to Eve Gardiner a drunk who was part of a renowned spy network during WWI.  The two join forces to determine what became of Rose.  Just so good, this one makes me want to read more about these female run spy networks.  I need to read more from Quinn.

The Island of Sea Women - Lisa See - historical fiction - five stars - I love everything from Lisa See.  I was familiar with the Haenyeo (famale divers) of Jeju island after reading White Chrysanthemum last year, and enjoyed this book just as much as the other.  The story is told in a series of flashbacks, and is about two best friends, Mi-Ja and Young-Sook who became estranged following Young-Sook's marriage when they ended up on opposite sides during the Japanese occupation and later during the communist insurgency.  So well done, and so sad.

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1) - Elizabeth Wein - YA historical fiction - five stars - This was such a good book.  It tells the story of the friendship of Maddie and Julie, two pilots for the ATA (Air Transport Auxiliary) during WWII.  These were female pilots who couldn't fly combat missions, so they were essentially logistics pilots, moving completed planes to bases, taking planes that needed service elsewhere, etc.  Maddie and Julie both excel and end up participating in some clandestine missions, one of these ends in disaster when the plane crashes and Julie is caught.  The story is told in two parts, one in which Julie writes her confession and tells her story, the second narrated by Maddie which tells her side.  It is definitely surprising, and sad, and heartbreaking, but hopeful.  Highly recommended.

The Broken Girls - Simone St. James - mystery/detective - four stars - I picked this one up on a whim, it wasn't quite what I expected as it is a bit of a ghost story and I usually don't like those, but it was well done in terms of how it tied the 'real life' story in with the ghost story part.  Fiona Sheridan's sister was found murdered on the grounds of an old abandoned reform school for girls in 1994, and her boyfriend was convicted.  Twenty years later, Fiona is drawn back into the events of 1994 when she hears that someone has bought and is renovating the school.  The story jumps back and forth between present day and the 1950s when the school was in use, and you learn about a tight knit group of roommates, one of whom went missing.  It was really interesting to me how the story wove together and I thought it was quite well done and kept me reading to the end, and guessing too.

Circe - Madeline Miller - mythology - five stars - I have always been a huge fan of mythology, back to when I was in grade school, and this was a wonderful retelling of the story of Circe, who I always thought of as a minor figure in the story of Odysseus.  Miller traces Circe's origins, her family, and how she ended up on that island.  Really fantastic character development, explaining why she made the choices she did, how she came to be.  If you love mythology, I highly recommend this.

Adventures with Waffles - Maria Parr - juvenile fiction - five stars - I had recommended this one to Ellie last summer when we were on vacation.  She read it on her kindle, so I didn't read it then, but we were at the library the other day and saw it and she insisted I read it.  I'm so glad that I did.  The author is Norwegian, so it's translated into English, but it's just a sweet, fresh story about two best friends growing up in Norway who also happen to get into their fair share of trouble.  Their escapades made me laugh.  It was a light, airy, fun, read with an innocence that reminded me more of the books I read growing up than some of the more modern kids books.

Clock Dance - Anne Tyler - fiction - four stars - I read A Spool of Blue Thread from Tyler last year and really enjoyed it, so thought I would try another from her.  This one was good, but not as good as the other.  It follows the life of Willa Drake, you see snippets of her through the years as she progresses from child to adult, and how her choices affect her life.  The bulk of the story is present day when she receives a call that her son's ex-girlfriend has been shot and she needs to come watch her daughter.  It's a strange request since she is an ex and really didn't know the girlfriend, but she's compelled to go, and in doing so starts to make her own decisions and slowly establishes a new life of her own.  I found the situation a bit hard to believe, but I liked the transformation and how she developed.

Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks - historical fiction - four stars - This was a really interesting book.  I don't know that much about the plague, so it was quite fascinating.  Anna Frith is the main character, she is the widow of a miner with two small children when the plague comes to their small village.  She loses her sons, but survives, and works with her employers, the village priest and his wife to minister to the people of the town.  They eventually decide to go into quarantine for a year as a town, so that the effects of the plague will be contained.  It is in many ways a survivalist tale, and I learned a lot reading it.  I loved it right until the very end.  I was not a fan of how the story ended, it kind of lost me there, but definitely worth reading. 

The Night Diary - Veera Hiranandani - YA historical fiction - five stars - This one was so good, and again, it really gave me an education.  I never knew that India and Pakistan were formed when the British 'freed' India in 1947.  Hindus are to live in India and Muslims in Pakistan.  Nisha's family is Hindu, so they must leave their home and travel to the new India.  This turnover created much tension and there was a great deal of violence as well.  The trip is arduous and dangerous.  The entire story is told through Nisha's diary.  Highly recommend this one, I've passed it on to Ellie to read also.

Astrid the Unstoppable - Maria Parr - juvenile fiction - five stars - So I already raved a bit about Adventures with Waffles.  We picked this one up at the library at the same time that we borrowed the other and it was even better.  Just as sweet, and light, and funny!  Astrid is a combination of Ramona,  Pippi Longstocking, and Anne of Green Gables - high on good intentions and imagination, and low on results sometimes.  Astrid is the only child in her village and her best friend is an old man in his 70s name Gunnvald.  One day she spies other children in her village, and Gunnvald gets a letter that sends him into a funk.  Astrid has to reconcile her change in circumstances and does so admirably.  Such a good book.  I'm really hoping that someone out there is translating the rest of Parr's stories!

Rose Under Fire (Code Named Verity #2) - Elizabeth Wein - YA historical fiction - five stars - I loved Verity so much that I picked up the second book in the series.  I use the term series loosely because like the books from Eskens, they are only tangentially related.  Maddie from the first book plays a small part in the story as does Anna Engel, but the focus is Rose Justice, an ATA flyer from America.  She ends up being captured towards the end of the war, and is sent to Ravensbruck where she ends up being housed with the 'rabbits,' a group of Polish prisoners who were experimented on by doctors - cutting their legs open and inserting foreign material to see how they would heal, having parts of bone cut out, etc.  Wein likes to tell her stories through the characters writings, which is what occurs here as well.  I definitely plan to read the third book in this series.

My Wish List - Gregiore Delacourt - fiction - four stars - This is more of a novelette, translated from the French.  It's about Jocelyne, who lives a humdrum life, not anything she dreamed of growing up, just kind of plodding along.  But she is true, and honest, and faithful, and she cares for her husband and friends, and reaches and helps people through her small fabric shop for which she also has a blog.  One day, she wins the lottery, $18+ million.  She retrieves the check, but doesn't cash it.  She is afraid that if she does, her life will change, that the people around her will change and that she'll see their true colors.  So, she hides the check in an old shoe and dreams of what she might do if she cashes is, but of course she doesn't. More things happen, but I don't want to give the story away, but it is an interesting look and what money does to you. 

So many good books this month!  Currently I'm reading A Mango-Shaped Space, which is a kids book that Ellie demanded I read, and I'm enjoying it.  After that, I have The Song of Achilles - written by the same author as Circe - I loved that so much I needed another mythology fix, and then Song of the Captive Bird.  Would love to know what you have been reading this month, so please share!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Neat & Tangled April Release in Review / Winner

Happy Friday!  It's release day at Neat & Tangled.  The April release is now available in the store.  Here's a look back at my projects from this week:


I also have a winner to announce.

Congratulations to Maureen McDonough-Reiss (@mcdonoughreiss)!  Please shoot me an email and I will get the Receding Background sent out to you.

If there's something from the release that you need, it's available now in the store.  Have a great weekend!