Sunday, February 16, 2020

Technique Tuesday Friendly February

Hey everyone!

I'm here today helping Technique Tuesday celebrate Friendly February.  From now through February 20th, you can get 25% off all items in the Friendship & Inspiration category in the Technique Tuesday store using code TTFriend.  AND, as a bonus, any orders over $25 ship free in the U.S.

I'm sharing a couple cards created using the A Little Prickly Stamp Set and Dies.

These are basically the same card/layout, but created using very different techniques.

For my first card, I wanted to go back to a technique that I used to do a lot, and haven't in a while - paper piecing.

I placed my stamps in my MISTI, and then stamped a whole bunch of times using a bunch of different patterned papers - mostly greens for the cacti, but also that yellow for the base, and some other colors for the planters/flower.  This is a perfect technique for using up your patterned paper scraps.

Once the stamping was done, I fussy cut the different elements.  The emphasis was on the fussy as some of the pieces were very thin, but I think it's well worth the effort.

Once the pieces were cut, I went around the edges with a black foam tipped marker so that I couldn't seen any of the white core of the patterned paper.  This is definitely not required, but I think it gives the images a more polished/finished look.

Then it was a matter or adhering the pieces to my base patterned piece.  I used a Quickie Glue Pen for this step.

Originally I was going to just adhere that second piece of background paper for the ground line directly under the pots, but then I realized that because there was a bit of a curve to the bottom of the pots, it would look funny.  Instead, I trimmed that piece down so that it fell slightly above the bottom of the pot, stamped it with my MISTI (the cactic were all still in place), fussy cut the bottoms of the pots, and then adhered it to my background piece.

The sentiment was stamped directly onto that bottom piece, and I colored in the larger letters with a Copic marker.

For my second, card, I stamped a white panel of Neenah cardstock with my images (remember, they were all still in my MISTI).

Then I used the coordinating dies to partially die cut them, so just the bottoms were still attached, and used my paper trimmer to cut off the excess part of the panel.

I stamped the sentiment, and then the images and large letters were colored with Copics.

I normally don't use super bright/loud prints, but I thought that this print from an old BasicGrey collection was perfect for the images since the white in the panel provides a place for your eye to rest.

That's all for me today.  Would love to know which version of these is your favorite.

Be sure to stop by the Technique Tuesday blog to check out what the other designers created as well as peruse the Friendship & Inspiration section to see what's on sale.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Floral Background from The Stamp Market

I have a thing for background stamps.  I just love them, I think that they are so versatile and there are so many things that you can do with them.  Today I'm sharing a card using the Floral Background Stamp from The Stamp Market.

I wanted to create a soft, watercolored look with the background.  I started by stamping the background with Fairy Dust Ink from WPlus9 just to get a bit of a base layer.

Then I used sponge daubers to apply color to the background using Altenew inks.  All stamping was done using my MISTI.  I started by working on the leaves, using Sweet Leaf ink.  Then I moved onto the flowers, using Dusk ink. 

Then I went back, adding first Desert Night ink towards the centers of my flowers, and then later Andromeda.  I also added some Frayed Leaf to the leaves to add dimension.

This process involved multiple inkings/daubings until I was happy with the results.  I also went back at the end, and stamped another layer of Fairy Dust Ink over the whole image.  Doing this I think helps to soften and blend some of the color together.

The sentiments are from the Have Courage set that I designed for Neat & Tangled.  I stamped with Versafine and then embossed with Frosted Crystal Antiquities embossing powder from Ranger.  I love using that powder with Versafine because it gives it a bit of texture and emphasis, but without the shiny finish.  The courage was stamped on a piece of scrap, fussy cut and popped up for some extra emphasis and dimension.

This is such a beautiful stamp and I love how easy it is to create the look of patterned paper with it.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Fun with Dies

Sometimes it's just fun to pull out a product with no real plan in mind.  Today I'm sharing a few cards created using this older die set from Papertrey Ink (I actually can't even remember what it's called).  I had been wanting it for a while, and picked it up second hand (who knows how long ago), and then promptly lost it in the morass we call my craft room.

It was recently unearthed, and I figured I should use them before I lose them again....

This is one of those dies that is right up my alley because there are so many interesting combinations and ways to put the pieces together.  I love the clean, modern, graphic look that it yields.

I selected five different shades of color from yellow to dark orange (Lemon Drop and Persimmon from MFT and Summer Sunrise, Orange Zest, and Terracotta Tile from PTI), and die cut 2-3 of each color.

This die ended up being a little different than I though, the ends don't cut fully, so I had to snip off the pieces at each end, but no big deal.

Then, I just played with them for a bit, assembling them in different combinations and shapes.

Once I settled on my three combinations, I adhered them to white card bases, and then added some simple sentiments from sets that I previously designed for Neat & Tangled (So Many Sentiments and Typed Sentiments).

For this one, I use two sets of the dies, varying the order of the colors.  I used the sentiment strip to hide where the two sets of dies came together.

For this next card, I started by placing the angled end of the largest strip/curve right in the corner of my panel, and then placed the remaining pieces, trimming the die cut pieces where they went over the edge of the panel.

I also die cut two pieces of black cardstock, to get the pieces for the centers of the curves.  

Finally, the simplest of the cards.

I thought this sentiment fit perfectly with the simple upturned curve.

This was such a fun and relaxing way to spend an evening!  Which do you like best?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Mama Elephant Rowdy Raccoons

Sometimes you just want to make an easy cute card because you don't have a ton of time, but you need to create.  I seem to find myself in that position a lot these days.  Sometimes I give into my bad angel who tells me to just veg in front of the TV, but the other night I was bound and determined to make something before bed.

I pulled out this older set from Mama Elephant called Rowdy Raccoons.  I just love the images in the set, they are adorable, and I often use them for boy cards.

This time I chose a great encouraging sentiment from the set.

I colored the raccoon with my cool grays, added a bit of ground line, the sentiment, and the thinnest mat, and voila.

Super quick and easy!

Hope you're maintaining that balance!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

January 2020 in Books

Hi all, here with my monthly reading recap.  Overall a really good month of books with a nice mix of fiction and non-fiction, history and biography.  Favorites this month were This Tender Land and The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, closely followed by The Shadow King.  Here are all the details:

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls - Anissa Gray - fiction - four stars - The story of a family rocked by a scandal.  Althea and Proctor are arrested for embezzlement/fraud, and their family is rocked to the core.  How did they get there?  What about their past affected their choices.  And what about their two daughters?  With whom should they live.  Althea's sisters struggle with the charges and the verdict and have to themselves deal with their pasts as well as their presents.  It was a really good story with complex characters and I enjoyed it.  I will say that I was pretty annoyed in general by Althea, she was my least favorite character.  Definitely worth the read though.

Wallis in Love: The Untold Life of the Duchess of Windsor, the Woman Who Changed the Monarchy- Andrew Morton - biography - two stars - Ugh, this one was such a drag.  I kept thinking it would get better.  I've always been kind of fascinating by the story of Edward abdicating, and I thought it would be a great read and a true life love story.  Basically these Wallis and Edward were two totally unlikeable and irredeemable individuals.  There was nothing to like about Wallis, and it's ironic that by the end of her life she didn't even care for or really like Edward.  And he was so weak and ineffective.  I was struck by an opinion at the beginning of the book that Wallis Simpson should in some ways be honored in Trafalgar Square because by causing Edward, an outspoken Nazi sympathizer, to abdicate, she actually saved the country and the free world.  Don't bother with this one.

The Confession Club (Mason, #3) - Elizabeth Berg - fiction - four stars - This is the third in Berg's series that started with The Story of Arthur Truluv.  It's about a group of ladies who meet each week to confess to one another.  The confessions range from silly to serious.  During the course of the story, Iris Winters and Maddy Harris (characters from previous books) are invited to join, and the group helps them work through the relationship issues they are dealing with.  It's another cute and sweet story.  Not as good as the previous two books, but still very enjoyable.

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service - Gary Sinise - autobiography - five stars - I've always admired Gary Sinise, he's a great advocate for the military, and so when I saw this book at the library, I was excited to hear more about him and his life.  It details his younger wilder years and how acting really saved him from the path he was going down and gave him focus and purpose.  It also talks about how/why the military and veterans are so important to him.  It was really inspiring to me to see how he has used his celebrity and connections to make a difference for our military as well as for communities around the world.  His question of "Can I do more?" is a challenge for us all.

This Tender Land - William Kent Krueger - historical fiction - five stars - Krueger's book Ordinary Grace was my very favorite book a couple years ago, so I was really excited to see that he came out with another standalone book.  He's written a ton, but most are part of a detective series, and I'm always wary of committing myself to a huge series, plus while I like a good detective novel from time to time, I like them in moderation.  Anyway, this was another fantastic book.  It's a bit of a play on Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn story.  Four orphans run away from the home in which they lived - a school where Native American children were forcibly removed to to learn.  They travel down the Mississippi in a canoe, trying to find an aunt.  They are on a true odyssey in which each of them grows into their own person and where they confront their pasts.  Such a good book.

A Double Life - Flynn Berry - fiction - three stars - This one was a disappointment.  It's loosely based on the life of Lord Luxon, a British aristocrat who was believed to have killed his children's nanny and attempted to kill his wife.  He escaped from England and disappeared.  Over time there were many sightings of him, but he was never found.  In this story, the main character is the man's daughter, Claire.  Following her father's disappearance, her mother moved her and her brother away, they changed their names, forsook the family money, and live ordinary lives.  However, the whereabouts of her father are always a mystery.  When there is once again a sighting, it raises all the old feelings, and Claire decides she needs to know once and for all what became of her father.  She is eventually able to find him and confront him.  I just never connected with Claire, who was frustratingly weak and annoying, and I thought the end was just not believable, almost like the author just didn't know how to end the book.  I would pass on this one.

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell - Robert Dugoni - fiction - five stars - This was another great one.  It's about Sam Hill, born with ocular albinism, a condition where you have red eyes.  This of course leads to social ostracism/bullying as he grows up, but he is blessed with amazing parents who support him and advocate for him and grow him into a kind and generous human being.  He is also blessed to have two really wonderful friends who help him through those growing up years.  The story is balanced between past and present when a bully from Sam's past shows up.  I thought the first part of the book (the longer part) was the best, just what Sam had to overcome and the faith and support that his parents provided was inspiring.  The present day/second part of the book was not as strong, especially the very end, it seemed a little rushed and some of the loose ends were wrapped up in a too pat way it felt like, but still so worth the read.

When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People - Jeannie Gaffigan - memoir - five stars - Jeannie is the wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan.  Jeannie is also Jim's collaborative partner, she directed his show, and also writes much of his material.  They have five kids, and several years ago, after ignoring many of the signs because she was busy with business of living and raising kids, and working, she went to the doctor and after an MRI was told that she had a tumor the size and shape of a pear in her head.  The book tells about her diagnosis, surgery, and recovery.  Despite the difficulty, there was lots of humor and just down to earth-ness in her writing which I really enjoyed.  And, of course, it's a good news story which was great to read.  I have a very good friend who is dealing with cancer right now and it was encouraging to read a book with a good outcome.

Recursion - Blake Crouch - fiction - five stars - I don't read a lot of science fiction, in fact the last science fiction book I read might have been Crouch's Dark Matter which was also excellent.  This book tells the story of a brilliant scientist, Helena, who invents and time traveling machine/chair.  Unfortunately, there are people who want to use the chair for their own purposes.  The chair is one storyline, the other is about the emergence of people with False Memory Syndrome (FMS) where people all of sudden have a full set of memories from a previous life.  Barry, a New York City cop who starts to investigate FMS.  These two storylines eventually collide and become one.  I was hooked by this and read it in a day.  My only criticism is that it kind of got into this loop at the end which reminded me a lot of Dark Matter.  But, if I hadn't read that book I wouldn't have that criticism.  Highly recommend.

The Shadow King - Maaza Mengiste - historical fiction - five stars - Another must read.  It's the story of the Ethiopian resistance fighters who fought against Italy when they invaded in the run up to WWII.  So well done, with great character development.  Characters that were very flawed, but still likable.  This is part of history that I really had no knowledge of, and it made me curious and want to know more about the conflict.  Any book that makes me do internet searches to learn more is a good book.  Really loved this one.

I'm currently reading The Escape Artists, an account of POW British pilots in Germany during WWI who escaped from their camps, and I have All the Lives We Ever Lived on tap next.  Would love to know what you have been reading and if there's anything I need to add to my list.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Altenew Arabesque Medallion

I've really been trying to keep my crafty spending to a minimum in the new year as we're saving up for a big vacation this summer.  So, in addition to using things I've gotten but not inked up yet, I"m also trying to revisit some old favorites, enter Altenew's Arabesque Medallion set.

I really love this image.  It's large and bold, but not overly complicated, so it lends itself to lots of different techniques, but today I decided to simply color it.

I stamped the image on an A2 sized piece of Neenah Solar White cardstock that had not yet been folded, and colored it with Copics.  Then I decided that I could get two cards for the price of one, so I cut the panel right down the center of the image.

For this first card, I simply trimmed the half down to 5 1/2" x 4", added a sentiment from Neat & Tangled's Have Courage stamp set, and then popped the panel up over a dark gray card base.

For my second card, I fussy cut the second half of the medallion, and after adding a sentiment to my panel, from Papertrey's Choose Joy set, adhered the medallion with foam tape.

I added a wine colored mat to finish things off.

This is such a great image, and it was fun to get it out again.  I also love that I was able to get two cards out of the main image.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

WPlus9 Ironworks Background Two Ways

Hi friends!  I picked up this Ironworks Background die from WPlus9 a while ago and thought it was time I gave it a whirl.

Today I'm showing off two very different ways to use it.  First, a card with no stamping!

I have had this 1canoe2 Twilight pad for a while as well as some of the ephemera from the collection.  I picked two prints from the pad, diecutting the navy print and then layering it over the white and gray polka pattern.

I used several ephemera pieces from the collection to finish things off, including the large gold foil sentiment, and I added some stitching on the pieces for some extra texture/dimension.

The secondary sentiment was created using my typewriter (I'm thinking I definitely need a new ribbon).  Both that piece and the large sentiment were popped up with foam tape.

Next, a much bolder look at the die.  When you turn the die so that the focal point is closer to the bottom of the card, the die reminds me a bit of a stage curtain.

For this technique, I cut the die once from black cardstock and once from red.  The black piece was set aside.  The red I left intact on my cutting plate, and then used Copics to add some shading to the individual pieces.  

Then I added adhesive to my card base, adhered the black die cut/webbing piece, and inlaid the red pieces.

I finished the card off with a bold sentiment from an old Ali Edwards stamp set which was heat embossed in gold.

I really like how different these cards turned out.  Would love to know which is your favorite.

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

One for the Books

I colored a couple more of my Purple Onion Designs images this week.  I've had these for a while, but am only now getting around to inking them up.

These are Zoey and Mia from Stacey Yacula's Once Upon A Time release.

Once I had them stamped and colored, I decided that this journaling card and stamp set from Feed Your Craft's Mark Your Place Kit, which was released a couple years ago, were the perfect complement for my images.

I wanted the bookcase to be a bit more muted, so I inked it with Versafine and stamped it on a scrap piece of cardstock first, so this was second generation stamping.

The sentiment was made up from two of the sentiments from the set, stamped in first generation.

I added a patterned paper background and a black mat, and then adhered my little critters, popping up the bunny for some extra dimension.

That's all for today.  Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Hi friends!  It's been quiet here on the blog lately.  We've got a lot going on at home in terms of the kids school/sports schedules, so crafting time has been hard to find, but I managed to get a little bit of coloring done over the weekend.

This cute little pair, Rory & Noelle, is from Stacey Yakula's most recent Purple Onion Designs release.

They were stamped on Neenah Solar White with Gina K Black Amalgam ink, colored with Copics, and then fussy cut.

I added them to a journaling card from Studio Calico.  I really enjoy using journaling cards on my actual cards because it often saves me a bit of type in composing/laying out my card.  For this card, I added just a hint of inking to the journaling card using Tumbled Glass Distress Ink to create a ground line.

The sentiment is one of my favorites from the Typed Sentiments set I designed for Neat & Tangled.

I added a panel of white cardstock that I rounded the corners on, but it was a little too stark, so using the same ground line I created on the journaling card, I added some inking to the white panel.

Hope 2020 is treating you well!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Simon Says Stamp Hey Bestie Release

Hi everyone!  Hope that the new year is treating you well.  Today I have a couple cards to share using a stencil from the new Simon Says Stamp Hey Bestie release.

This Bursting Hearts stencil is big - 9" x 12"!  

It's got a great spray of hearts that spreads across the stencil which means that you can get very different looks using different parts of the stencil.

For this first card, I used the top portion of the stencil where the hearts kind of fade off into the distance.

I started by stamping the You Are cling background on a piece of watercolor cardstock with Smokey Gray Versafine ink.  Then I lightly inked the panel with Worn Lipstick Distress Ink.

The stencil was then placed over the panel, and heavily inked with Worn Lipstick and just a touch of Festive Berries.  I then spread Tonic Glimmer Paste over top for some sparkle and texture.

This sweet little girl and her new puppy from MFT were the perfect fit, matching the line of the hearts.  She was stamped with Gina K Amalgam ink and colored with Copics.

The sentiment is also from that set and was stamped on a strip of cardstock that I lightly softened with some very faint inking so that the contrast with the background was not so stark.

My next card uses a portion of the stencil closer to the bottom of the stencil.

I taped the stencil down, and then inked each of the hearts, masking as needed, in a roughly rainbow color progression.

Leaving the stencil in place, I then stamped the You Are background over the panel with Versafine Black Onyx ink.  

I finished things off with the Simon's I Love You Shadow die.  

I really love the versatility of this die, and because of the size it's also perfect for layouts and home decor items. 

Be sure to take a look at the rest of the new release, some really good stuff in there!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

December 2019 in Books

Happy New Year!  I've got my final book recap for 2019 to share today.  It's a bit of a smaller list this month as we had a lot going on with some work around the house (some doors put in in the sunroom, and new siding on the outside of the house) and Christmas in general, but some really good books this month as well as a couple real duds.  It's actually really hard to pick a favorite this month as most of the non-duds were all really excellent.  Here's what I read:

Nothing More Dangerous - Allen Eskens - fiction - five stars - I am a huge Eskens fan.  His books are all tangentially related, but aren't part of an overlying story arc.  This book is the story of Boady Sanden, who later becomes the professor of Joe Talbert in Eskens's first novel The Life We Bury.  Boady is in high school and struggling, his whole goal is to save enough money so he can leave town.  Then a new family moves in next door which changes his life, giving both him and his mother friends that they desperately need, while changing the dynamic of the small town.  Throw in the mysterious disappearance of Lida Poe, who worked at the local factory and might have embezzled money from the company, and you get a trademark Eskens book.  Just as good as the rest of his books, if you've never read any of these you need to.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive - Stephanie Land - memoir - five stars - This was a very readable and eye-opening book about a woman's struggle to provide for herself and her daughter.  Land comes from a family that also struggled to stay afloat, and seemed to have been on track to break out of that cycle and go to college when she became pregnant.  She decided to keep the child, but with little support from the abusive father, left with basically no resources.  From a shelter where she escaped to, she had to learn the system, figuring out how to obtain services and also find jobs and housing.  It was an education on how one has to function in order to get, and keep, government assistance.  Land's story is one of perseverance, hard work, and some luck.  It gives you an understanding of how very little margin there is for those who are on the margin, how just a couple unexpected bills can put you in a tailspin that will require years to recover from.  A must read.

Out of Darkness, Shining Light
 - Petina Gappah - historical fiction - two stars - This one was a slog for me.  I thought it would be really interesting, and was very disappointed.  It's about David Livingstone, kind of.  Livingstone was a Scottish explorer/missionary who was obsessed with finding the source of the Nile.  He traveled extensively in Africa searching for it and trying to convert those he came into contact with.  By all accounts he was not great at either of those things.  This book tells the story of his African companions who, after his death, carried his body and papers back to the coast so they could be sent back to England.  It's told from the perspective of two in the party and is really just so meandering.  You don't come away particularly caring for any of the characters in the books.  There were some interesting parts, but they just didn't outweigh the good.  Skip it.

Ellie and the Harpmaker - Hazel Prior - fiction - two stars - I thought his would be a fun, quick, light palette cleanser.  It was a quick read, but it was a throwaway book.  I didn't find any of the characters likable.  Ellie, the main character is just such a doormat and the whole premise of the book the scenarios, etc. were ridiculous.  There was a 'happy ending', but even that seemed contrived and forced.  Not a fan. 

The Dutch House - Ann Patchett - fiction - five stars - This one was so good!  Danny and Maeve grow up in an amazing house that defines their childhood.  Their mother leaves when Danny is just a child, so Maeve ends up doing much of his raising.  Their father eventually remarries a woman named Andrea who brings with her two small girls.  This blended family never quite clicks, and when Danny and Maeve's father suddenly dies, they find themselves banned from the home, and with nothing as the home and his father's very successful business were both put in Andrea and her father's names.  As Danny and Maeve grow, get jobs and families, the house remains this almost mythical element in their lives drawing them back over and over.  I loved this story, how the characters were developed, and how she tied the story up in the end.  So good.

The Giver of Stars
 - Jojo Moyes - historical fiction - five stars - I really loved this one.  It's the story of a group of women who form a branch of the Packhorse Library in Kentucky.  The Packhorse Library was an effort championed by Eleanor Roosevelt to bring books/reading to rural areas.  When the library is pitched to the citizens of Baileyville, they are not particularly interested and enthusiastic, but a few brave women sign up to be part of the library.  It's a wonderful story about the library itself, but even more about the women who volunteered to be part of it, and the friendships they developed as a result, especially during a time when society was very much male dominated.  Loved this one!

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation - Stuart Gibbs - juvenile fiction - five stars - Ellie and I are big Stuart Gibbs fans, so we were excited to see him coming out with a new series.  Charlie Thorne is a twelve year old genius who is currently coasting through college.  The CIA recruits her to help them locate a secret equation that Einstein developed which they have been searching for since his death.  They're not quite sure what this equation is for, except that it could mean either the salvation or destruction of the world.  Fast paced and clever, I really enjoyed the characters of Charlie and her half brother Dante (who is the one who recommended her to the CIA).  If you're a Gibbs fan you'll definitely enjoy this, and it's a good introduction to Gibbs for those who aren't.  We're excited that the second book in the series will be out this year!

I'm currently reading The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls as well as a biography on Wallis Simpson (which is something I've been kind of slogging through on the side for several weeks).  Next up are This Tender Land and The Confession Club both of which I am very excited to read.  Would love to hear what you guys have been reading!