Saturday, November 27, 2010

NOT a Christmas Card

Nope. Not a Christmas card. This is a Christmas PRESENT. And there's nothing particularly Christmas-y about it, is there?

These are going to my father-in-law, who lives out west. The Bold and Free set by Mark's Finest Papers gave the perfect image for him. The feather is stamped in Memento dark brown and the pen is a Zig writer in dark brown. I accented the envelopes with the little feather in the set. The whole sheebang will go into a clear card box from Papertrey.

This set of single-panel notecards was made the old-fashioned way...I drew the lines using a template as I show in this tutorial HERE. It's a super-easy way to make a fast and extremely economical gift. I'm about to get jiggy with making a bunch of these for Christmas. It's so easy to vary the stamp image to customize the set for any loved one!

Friday, November 26, 2010

OLW30 Challenge, Part 3

Here's part 3 of my OLW30 entries. Seriously, I am lovin' this challenge and it's really putting a dent in my need for Christmas cards, LOL!

Here's the inspiration card from Vigo's website that I used. Actually there are several cards with this gray/white with a touch of red color scheme that really appealed to me.

Of course, I had to make sure there was plenty of white on my versions. This card and the third combine Through the Trees and Silent Night, both sets from Papertrey Ink. I rounded the corners with scallop scissors.

This card mimics the shape of the original inspiration piece. The sentiment is from Signature Christmas, which, for some tragic reason, I had forgotten about in the last few months. It's an awesome set that I used on most of my Christmas cards last year. I added the extra bird on this one to bring together the two sides of the card.

This third card uses a visual triangle of red (which another gray with red card on the inspiration page had).

This color scheme is so pretty and incredibly flexible. I'm going to experiment further with it. It just looks so clean, and even my darling husband, who pretty much ignores what I do with paper, said he really likes all three of these. Cool, eh?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another Swirl Christmas Card

I'm too full of turkey and mashed potatoes to do the post I'd planned about inspiration, so instead I'm going to share this pretty shimmery reindeer card that uses one of my favorite inks: Brilliance Pearlescent Beige.

The reindeer is from Hero Arts and the sentiment from Papertrey. The sentiment is stamped in VersaColor bark. The nontraditional colors are really striking and, in my opinion, make this super-simple card something special.

Happy Friday, everyone. How many of you are going shopping? I'm staying home and starting to decorate for Christmas!

OLW30 Challenge, Part 2

If you are reading this in email, you may have two posts. The first OLW30 post should be below!

Here's the second card from Vigo Cards that inspired me for the OLW30:

My version of this card shows how far from the inspiration "look" you can go in a challenge. When I take on an inspiration challenge, I try to find some main idea (layout, colors, concept, embellishment, shape, theme, an image) and then run with it. In this case, the concept of a four-letter word with letters replaced with images was what appealled most to me. So I ran with it.

I like words, type, and playing with letters. My original intention was to copy this card fairly closely, since the PTI Stocking Prints set has pretty stockings for the L. But then I ran into trouble finding an appropriate image for the V. Nothing I had seemed to work. I realized that I'd need to use letters for the V and E, which I thought would look pretty weird.

This meant I could use an ornament for the O, and just stick to letters for the L, V, and E. Also, I no longer had any reason to stick with LOVE. HOPE would work as well.

Suddenly, I knew who I would send this Christmas card to: a friend who has been battling colon cancer since spring.

Changes I made include shrinking the word size, using only two colors, and changing the word. My version gives much more white space and a more serene, peaceful feel to it, very appropriate for my friend and her family.

I still have at least one card left to share for OLW30.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Thursday, and to everyone in the United States, Happy Thanksgiving!

stamps: Hero Arts (alphabet), Papertrey Ink (ornament)
paper: PTI white
ink: memento cottage ivy, SU real red
accessories: none

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

OLW30 Challenge, Part 1

This is today's second post. I just couldn't wait to share my first few cards from the OLW30 Challenge. Jennifer is hosting this week, and she challenged us to get inspired by THIS SITE.

At first, I thought, "This is going to be tough!" And then I made six cards inspired by three different ones from the website in about 40 minutes. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?!?!?!?!

Anyway, the first card that inspired me was this one:

Now I didn't know Jennifer's challenge ahead of time, and I've actually been working on a tutorial to help people find inspiration from a variety of places rather than simply copying cards. This is a great place to start, so I'll share my thought process here.

As I quickly scanned the cards on the link, I noticed the style is largely loose and whimsically artsy...definitely not LateBlossom. This is NOT A PROBLEM. In fact, it was rather exciting to think of transforming these fab cards into something that looked like me.

The card above stood out on a first pass through the page because I really liked the combination of outline and block stamps. I thought, hmmm, I have some outline and block stamps, don't I? Sure, I do. And they are almost all from Papertrey Ink. When I started flipping through my stamp index, I was blown away by how many PTI sets have an outline and shadow image. VERY convenient, eh?

First up, the umbrella set, which I have hardly ever used (wish there were smaller umbrellas to balance all the giant ones) and thus can never remember the name of. I stamped sentiment first and arranged the black outline images around it, making sure they formed a triangle. Then, I followed those with bahama blue block umbrellas. For some reason that completely baffles me, the images are feathery around the edges. But then, I looked back at the looseness of the inspiration piece and didn't feel so bad about it.

Next, we flex to coffee cups from Warm Happiness. Ahhh, coffee. As you can see, I followed the same idea as the umbrella card, but I did only put the steam curls over the block cups. It was looking busy enough.

Finally, a Christmas card using PTI's Merry and Bright. These trees are smaller than the umbrellas and cups, so I had to add more. Since three trees tops were showing, I put rhinestones on them to reinforce the basic design.

If you haven't done so already, click over to Jennifer's blog and get the details on the challenge. I'll be posting at least two more cards for it tomorrow!

stamps: Papertrey Ink
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: a bit of bling

Hero Arts Swirl Christmas

Hero Arts consistently puts out stamps that make me very happy. I mean, could this set be any more appropriate for clean-and-simple stamping? I think not.

Given yesterday's tutorial on the rule of thirds, let me point out that the sentiment is in the upper left sweet spot and the tree is mostly inside the far right third of the card. That little bit of scooting of the image to the right of the imaginary line gives the card a bit of interest (bending rules can be quite useful) and allows the tree to go off the bottom and sides of the card, giving it a more grounded look. If I had placed the tree directly on that imaginary line, the right corner of the tree would have been unattractively crowded against the edge of the card. This way, it looks very deliberately placed.

The card needed a little something something, so I added half pearl ornaments to the tree.

I hope everyone in the US is getting ready for a very happy Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. Blessings to you all, and many, many thanks for your continued support of my little blog.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Design Tutorial on Rectangle Cards

In my first semester teaching Freshman Composition, I had a student bring a graded paper to me and ask, "Why did you add the commas there?" My mind was a total blank. I knew with absolute certainty that the commas belonged, but I'd forgotten why. I recovered nicely by saying, "Let's look that up in your handbook so you'll be able to find the answer yourself next time." Smooth, eh?

That night, I read the entire handbook to refresh my memory about the rules. And I've never again forgotten the rule about commas around nonrestrictive modifiers.

So when several people asked me how I'd come up with the sizes of the rectangles on this card, my first thought was that I'd just used the Force. I didn't think about them. I just made them.

But then, as I considered the question within the context of all I've studied about design in the past eight years, I realized that I've just internalized the rules enough that I don't consciously think about them. But they are there, nevertheless, working away for me every time I sit in my craft room.

I love rules. Especially this one because it's the heart of pretty much every card I make in one way or another.

The Rule of Thirds

This is what happens when I free-hand something, so now you know why I rubber-stamp whenever possible. But this crudely drawn chart shows the rule for card design perfectly...because it's not precise. It's a rough guestimate of thirds, and that is all you need. Seriously. These lines are the guides for most designs and they are very flexible. You can remove lines at will to create zones of white space and of stamping, as I did on this card, or you can use the top left or bottom right intersections of the lines (the sweet spots) for your focal point placement, or you can add borders along a line to anchor matted images on a card.

Here's a sketch of the actual card, including the precise measurements of the rectangles. The card is a standard 5.5" x 4.25" card.

As you can see, the blocks are arranged to take advantage of the rule of thirds...not exactly precisely, but close enough for government work.

I started with the left-hand block by stamping the grass onto a scrap of cardstock and then cutting it down to about 2/3 the height of the card. Then I trimmed it a bit more and made it narrow. Then I stamped the smallest block and cut it out so it was about 1/3 the height of the grass block and wide enough to go across the card nicely...about twice as wide as the grass block. Finally, I did the same to the bigger block, but this time I did actually measure and do the math so it would fill the space available properly.

I do all my measuring and cutting with a craft knife and 6" square quilting ruler. The ruler is see-through, so I can place it directly over things and see exactly where I need to cut.

The spacing of the blocks is's all got to be even or it'll look really unbalanced. The spacing between the rectangles themselves must be the same, and then the margins around the edge of the card must also be the same. To do this, I placed the rectangles on the card and fiddled with them until it all looked even. Then, I stamped the sentiment BEFORE popping up the rectangles because honestly, sometimes those dimensionals really get in the way of stamping.

Now, here's where I get a tiny bit obsessive. With all the blocks placed properly, I carefully remove one, apply SU dimensionals at top and bottom, then place it where it belongs WITH TWEEZERS. Then, I repeat until all blocks are stuck.

I hope this explains the process in a way that encourages you to loosen up and play with the rule of thirds in your own designs. It's important to realize that this layout "I" came up with isn't at all original to me. Let's face it. There's only so much you can do with a 5.5 x 4.25 canvas. Plus, this rule of thirds is tried and true and has been around for eons. I'll bet the ancient Greeks used it for designing their temples.

Now, the new card for today trades rectangles for squares, lines them up along the top horizontal line of thirds, and uses my new Martha Stewart bow punch.

Dang, that Papertrey Silent Night set is more than worth the $24 I paid for it!

stamps: Papertrey Ink, Silent Night
ink: SU cherry cobbler, always artichoke
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: Martha Stewart bow punch, square punch, dimensionals, dark red rhinestones

More Rectangles and a Before and After

So, a LOT of you really liked the Fun with Rectangles post, so I thought I'd start this week off with a couple of different takes on those happy floral birthday cards. Let's start with a festive flourish for Christmas. This card uses Papertrey Ink's Silent Night set.

Design Discussion: I made sure the flourishes didn't "match up" across the rectangles on this one. At first, they did, and it looked, well, boring. Static. Flat. Well, the stamping still looks flat, but there's enough movement to the flourishes that it doesn't matter. Having them not match up keeps a very simple card interesting. Go figure.

Now, this next card is the BEFORE version. My thinking here was to turn the original layout and make the rectangles uneven and asymmetrical...because I have an old and discontinued set from Hero Arts (Woodland Leaves and Grasses) and thought it would make a great guy birthday card. Problem was, I thought that the yellow-gold of the ink for the grass was a lot more yellow than the reddish-orange of the leaves in the upper right panel. Instead, they came out wayyyy too close to each other to allow for a green panel on bottom. The colors are just off.


So if fixed it.


Now all the colors are in the orange-red family and harmony is once again restored. Not bad for a guy card, eh?

Merry Christmas
stamps: Papertrey Silent Night
paper: PTI white
ink: Memento
accessories: dimensionals

Happy Birthday
stamps: Hero Arts
paper: PTI vintage cream
ink: various Ancient Page and Memento
accessories: dimensionals

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Can't Think Straight

What a day. We got up early, drove to the Columbus Zoo, walked around all day, drove home, met sitter, left for dinner, got stuck in horrendous traffic, ate at the bar of a nice restaurant because there were no tables for three hours, saw Harry Potter, and drove home, and now, at 11:46 on Saturday night, I can't think straight.

But I wanted to give you a card for Sunday. So here you are. I can't say a single intelligent thing about it except that I like it. A lot. And that's not very intelligent.


Have a lovely Sunday. I think we're having pajama day at our house. Devotionals in front of the fireplace at 10:00. Or maybe 11:00. Whenever I start thinking straight again.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Fun with Rectangles

I've been thinking a lot lately about my favorite design tricks, and my conclusion from all this thinking is that using shapes (squares, rectangles, or circles) as key design elements makes me very happy. You can arrange them in tidy grids or rows, you can get whimsically asymmetrical with them, you can pop or not pop them, or you can use one all by its lonesome for big impact.

So, when I decided I needed some birthday cards, I pulled out SU's Stem Silhouettes and Garden Silhouettes and played around with putting the images on shapes.. These two cards are what happened.


Same thing, different colors:

The rectangles are 2 1/8" x 1 1/2" and are, of course, popped up on dimensionals. I stamped each image in a light color first, then overstamped (but off-set) again with a darker shade of the same color. Really, you could just use a dark ink, stamp once, huff on the stamp, then stamp it again. But I had the ink colors so I used them. I stamped the sentiment justified right in gray because black looked wayyyyy too stark and dark. All inks are Memento.

I thoroughly enjoy experimenting and playing around and trying out new things, new products, new styles. But this crisp, clean, colorfully white look is more me than any other.

Up tomorrow, a Christmas card with circles...oh how I love my punches!

stamps: SU Stem Silhouettes, Garden Silhouettes, PTI Birthday Basics
ink: Memento
paper: PTI white
accessories: dimensionals

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

OLW29 Classic Beauties Inspiration

A quick note because someone asked: the set I used for the bookmarks is Papertrey Ink's All Booked Up.

This week's OLW Challenge is to get inspired by last Sunday's post of Sunday Sweets on the Cake Wrecks blog. For those who've never visited Cake Wrecks, it's a blog of professionally made cake disasters...except on Sundays, when they show photos of gorgeously designed cakes. Last Sunday Sweets, titled Classic Beauties, struck me as a perfect OLW challenge.

The real challenge here is to keep to one layer. White or clear embossing on colored cardstock, pressure embossing, and using punched borders as masks to ink one layer are just three ways to get the look of some of these cakes without adding layers. Surely you can think of others!

I made two cards using two different cakes as inspiration. The first, which is 3" x 5.5", has white embossing of First Fruits, a set by Papertrey Ink, on SU's Marina Mist paper.

The second card uses PTI's Spring Moss cardstock and Friends 'til the End stamp set. The turquoise ink is VersaMagic. I colored the center of the flower with a white gel pen and embossed the first part of the sentiment in white.

OLW29 Rules

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single piece of cardstock folded in half.

2. Make a one-layer card inspired by a cake from the Classic Beauties post on Cake Wrecks. Keep embellishments to a minimum and do not add layers!

3. Upload your card somewhere online and link to it using the OLW29 InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity.

4. The most important rule of all: HAVE FUN!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shady Tree Holly Jolly Christmas Cards

Blogger is back at it. I scheduled this post and yesterday's correctly (triple-checked!) and they didn't post. Sorry about this, folks!

I have a bunch of premade cards (6.25" x 4.5") that have languished in my stash for a while. I decided to try using some of them for one-layer, completely FLAT cards using Shady Tree Studio's Holly Jolly set, which is so very pretty...and quite easy to color with colored pencils.

The first card was sort of for the CAS challenge at SCS last week, to use pink, blue, kraft, and green on a card. The berries are pink rather than red, something I would only have done for a challenge but it sure was fun to get wacky and violate nature's colors, LOL! I did add pink Stickles to the berries, just because. I guess I should upload this card to the CAS challenge gallery. I've fallen woefully behind on those challenges.

The next two cards use the same classic layout with images that are roughly the same size. Here's what I don't like about pre-made can't make the fold on the short edge. I'd much prefer that these two be folded at the top.

Why? I have no idea. I'm just weird.

This last card is a little more "original" in placement of the border. I actually trimmed about 0.5" off the left side of this card to make it more balanced because I couldn't extend the border just a little with stamping. It needed to cover 2/3 of the width of the card, and it fell just a bit short. If something doesn't quite balance, don't be afraid to trim your card to make it balance. This is actually my favorite of the four cards. Something about that border just hanging there in all that white space speaks to me of trust and faith.

I told you I was weird.

BTW, I know many of you don't follow my Questioning my Intelligence blog, but if you're interested, I wrote an essay a few weeks ago titled Craving White Space in a Carnival World. Since you like the cards here, you might like that essay, too.

stamps: Shady Tree Studio
ink: Palette dark chocolate (first card), noir (the rest of them)
paper: pre-made cards from Marco's Paper
accessories: Prisma Colored Pencils, Stickles (only on the first card, though)

Monday, November 15, 2010


Edited to add...PTI = Papertrey Ink. The set used on these bookmarks is PTI's All Booked Up. Sorry that wasn't clear.

When I first sat down to make bookmarks, I pulled out a bunch of patterned paper, including PTI's polka dot pad and some girly Basic Grey. And I started punching and cutting and matching and trimming and hemming and hawwing.

Basically, I ruined a bunch of perfectly good paper.

I walked away from my desk in disgust...twice. I think it was Einstein who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

When I returned to sanity, this is what I made:

Hello! That's more like it. These look like they belong on Simplicity. Why? These have white white space, super simple colors that pop, off-the-edge stamping, rule of thirds, simple ribbon treatment, understated finishing touch with scalloped scissors to round the corners, and NO PATTERNED PAPER!

Generally speaking, patterned paper is just not me. I wish it were. But it's just not. And when I abandoned it, good things happened. Well, I think they're good. This doesn't mean I should never work with patterned paper again, of course. It just means that as soon as I realize things aren't coming together with it, I should flex to what I do best, which is basically taking nothing and making it look good.

Well, that is the goal, anyway.

A variation on the above bookmarks came to me as I was looking at the gingham ribbon scraps in my scrap ribbon jar. All these little pieces looked great, and the ribbon, though wide, is quite thin and unbulky. Is unbulky a word? Whatever. The point is, these will be easy to tuck into Christmas cards.

I used the sentiment "Life is fast." I love this sentiment and have a number of friends and family who completely agree with it.

The final set of bookmarks varied the treatment of the gingham ribbon and wackily covered some of the white space. The sentiment on these says, "This is where I fell asleep." That's perfect for my mother and one of my uncles!

How-To Tips: The ribbon treatments are very simple and use some SU punches I've neglected. The first set uses the two-hole punch, which gives pretty small holes, so I used thinner ribbon. Thread both ends from front to back through each hole, then thread the ends back to the front through opposite holes. Trim the ends as shown. The second set of bookmarks uses the slit punch and a very simple knot. All the corners were rounded with scalloped scissors. The third set is pretty self-explanatory. The punched circle is adhered with a glue dot and pretty flat. Bookmarks are a perfect project for getting rid of off-cuts of cardstock and ribbon scraps. The first two sets are 5.5" tall and 1.75" wide. The third set is 4" tall and 1.75" wide.

Design Discussion: As a bibliophile, I am very picky about bookmarks. Bulky, bumpy, lumpy bookmarks can damage books. I've seen some pictured in magazines and online that have gemstones or brads or bows on the part of the bookmark that goes inside the book.

"The horror! The horror!"

Okay, so I'm a bit melodramatic about it, quoting Kurtz and all, but seriously, real book lovers don't want lumps and bumps on their bookmarks.

Happy Monday, y'all.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

OLW28 FIVE Colors?!?!?

Even if you're a mono- or dichromatic stamper who thinks it's living on the edge to use *gasp* three colors on a card, it's still fun to cut loose and play with lots of colors every now and then. And you can keep the overall look CAS by sticking to one theme in your color choices: warm, cool, bright, pastel. As long as the mind has a way to organize the different colors cleanly, the visual effect is also clean. Also, that clean and simple feeling can be preserved by using repetition of images while varying the color.

The OLW28 Challenge is to use five colors on your card. What got me started on this card was the combo of Brilliance Pearlescent Olive and Pearlescent Poppy inks (the top two ornaments on the final card). The two looked so nice together, so I looked for other warmish colors in my Brilliance ink collection and settled on Coffee Bean, Pearlescent Beige, and Pearlescent Ivy. Instead of using black as my neutral, I used Palette Dark Chocolate because all the ornaments were such warm colors and black would have looked too stark.

The "strings" were drawn with a Sakura Stardust Clear pen, and the shimmer really brings out the pearlescence of the Brilliance ink.

Thanks for the awesome challenge, Jennifer!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Brilliance, Palette
paper: PTI white
accessories: Sakura Stardust pen, ruler

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Are You Sick of Christmas Yet?

I sure hope not, because ohmygosh, I'm nowhere NEAR done with my Christmas cards. This is farthest behind I've been on holiday cards in five years. I'm feeling particularly drawn to designing one-layer cards to solve this scheduling snafu, and I'm finding a lot of the Shady Tree Studio stamps I've gotten recently are useful for this.

Consider this small bough stamp from Naturally Imagined. I repeatedly stamped it three times (starting with the center one) and then stamped a random Merry Christmas stamp from my collection in real red (Stampabilities, perhaps?). The boughs are colored with SU markers...I shaded them with two different greens and rather like how it turned out.

I'd tell you which greens if I could remember, but I only think I used green galore and garden green. Don't take my word for it, though. I'm very unreliable right now, having spent many hours Friday working at an elementary school book fair dealing with children who can't count money or make up their minds whether to buy the Star Wars Jedi School paperback, The World's 101 Grossest Things, or a $5 plastic pointer. Oh, and let's not forget about the kids who bring in ziploc baggies with $24.56 in pennies, nickles, and dimes. Or the kids who have no money at all.

Those break my heart. We had a few boxes of free books for them to pick from. No one went away unhappy. 

But I digress. Back to today's card.

Using two different sizes of red bling made me giddy. Bling has that effect on me. Does it have that effect on you, too?

Late Thursday night, I whipped out a bunch of one-layer Christmas cards with the new Shady Tree set called Holly Jolly. I'll show those next week. I'm also going to try to pull together some CASification make-overs, and show some bookmarks I made with PTI's All Booked Up. There's a lesson in those bookmarks about not being stupid that I'll share as well, because, you know, confession is good for the soul.

Now I've built up your expectations and will dash them horribly with how mundane my stupidity is. I'm sorry. In advance. Please forgive me and have a lovely weekend.

Friday, November 12, 2010

OLW27 First Give-Away Winner

The random number generator spit out #19, which is Robyn! Congratulations! Please send me your email address and preferred company for your $15 gift certificate (PTI, Stampin'Treasures, Mark's Finest, or some other that accepts US$). My email is susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Goodness


I received my Stampin'Treasures order in record time (ordered Tuesday, got it Thursday!). I took a picture of all the Hero Arts goodness I got. Oh how I can't wait to play with these!

In the meantime, I'm going to share a card I found and can't remember posting before (maybe I have and simply can't remember...wouldn't be the first time I forgot something). But it's so pretty and simple and made with a Hero Arts sentiment, so it seemed fitting to post it along with the picture above.

Happy Monday, Everyone!

Here's a reminder about OLW27. The give-away ends at midnight tomorrow night, so get your cards posted in time!!!

Tomorrow kicks off the new release of the Mark's Finest Papers November stamp sets. There are six of them this month...a nice mix of holiday and other sets. I'm looking forward to the hop and hope you enjoy all the stuff I made for it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tragedy in StampLand!

Woe is me!!!!! I got an email today from Stampin'Treasures, an online company I've loyally purchased from for six years. The company is closing!!! SO sad!

This news, falling the same morning I was mourning the failure (again) of the school levy in our district, was quite a blow. The only way to comfort myself was to immediately place an order. They are having a sale right now, 25% off everything you order, taken at the checkout. I mainly buy Hero Arts from them, but they carry other lines, including Memory Box, Lockhart, and others. As the stock draws down, they'll increase the discount. I went ahead and ordered what I wanted so I wouldn't miss out, but I imagine there will be some awesome bargains toward the end.

I want to publicly thank Diane Larson, the owner of Stampin'Treasures, for her excellent service to the stamping community. Diane, we will miss you!

One-Layer Wednesday 27: Christmas Kindness and a Give-Away

This week's OLW was inspired by an email Jennifer and I received from Rhonda Schmidkunz. Here's the first paragraph of Rhonda's email:

"Thank you to both of you for continuing the one layer card challenge. I don't participate in the challenges (mostly cuz I'm too computer illiterate to figure out how to post pictures), but I have been dependent for awhile on the challenge results. You see, I head up a group of gals that make cards for the ND State Penitentiary inmates to send to their families and friends. Recently one of the deputy wardens put the kabosh on layered cards. The problem with that is that it threw myself and the rest of our cardmakers into a tailspin as layered cards are pretty much all we knew how to do. I found Susan's site and we have been so excited with the ideas, examples and knowledge that one layer cards CAN be made. Susan, you have been one of the key ingredients to keeping our group going (even if you didn't realize it)."

After re-reading that, I need a minute to collect myself. *sniff, sniff*

Sorry, but it's a huge warm fuzzy knowing that your little ol' challenge is helping fellow stampers do some good in the world. All of you who have posted cards to the OLW are inspiring Rhonda's group. How totally cool is that? She and her stamping friends are showing kindness and positive encouragement to people who may not have had much of either in their lives.

And you know I'm all about kindness and encouragement.


This week's OLW is to make one-layer holiday cards (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa) that meet the requirements for the North Dakota State Penitentiary, as outlined below. While it isn't a requirement of the challenge, if you want, you are invited to send your OLW27 cards to Rhonda's group, who will send them on to the prison.

To show some kindness and encouragement in this warm and fuzzy challenge, I'm doing two give-aways!

1. A random entry from the InLinkz posts this week will win a $15 gift certificate to either Mark's Finest Papers, Shady Tree Studio, Stampin'Treasures, or Papertrey. The deadline for this drawing will be Tuesday, November 9, at midnight.

2. A random entry from the cards actually sent to Rhonda will win a $20 gift certificate to any one of the four companies listed above. Send your cards to Rhonda Schmidkunz, 518 14th Street NW, Minot, ND 58703. To be entered in the give-away, you must send your cards so Rhonda receives your cards by November 30, 2010.

The cards you send to Rhonda will go to the North Dakota State Penitentiary in Bismarck, North Dakota. It is a 600+ men's prison for 18 year olds on up, with many in their 30s and 40s. The majority of them have wives, children, parents. A few of them only get a visit once a year from family so cards are a nice way to keep in touch. Even those who get more visits enjoy sharing a holiday card with their family. With 600+ guys, any Christmas cards we can send would be very much appreciated!

OLW27 Rules

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single piece of paper folded in half. No other layers allowed!

2. Make a December Holiday card that meets the North Dakota State Penitentiary rules for cards, as follows:
  • No metal (brads, wire, etc.)
  • No gemstones or pearls
  • Limited glitter
  • Flock, ribbon, embossing, and punched shapes are okay

3. Upload your card somewhere online and link to it using the InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity.

4. The most important rule of all is to HAVE FUN!

[photo removed by author]
stamps: Mark's Finest Papers Bells on Bobtail (Nov. Release)
ink: Versacolor
paper: white (PTI)
accessories: ribbon (Mark's Finest Papers)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Three Things

1. Thanks so much for all your kind comments about my son Jack's progress last week. Y'all are so sweet!

2. Several of you commented that you liked the clean look of Simplicity, with no blinkies, wallpaper, or music. Blogs are a very personal representation of an individual's vision, and I'm so grateful there are so many different, individual looks out there. Everyone is bound to find something that's appealing to them in the world of stamping blogs! Simplicity's minimalism is extremely deliberate, so thank you for noticing.

3. Edie3 asked how I decide color choices. There are lots of things I think of when it comes to color: mood, energy, appropriateness to theme of the card, etc. For instance, every time I make a red and white Christmas card with the word Peace on it, I wonder if red is a color of peace. I actually fret over it. Happy cards usually get happy colors (brights), sympathy/thinking of you cards get soft colors, thank you cards can be anything. Also, I get color inspiration from all over the place (nature, Target, magazines...especially the ads and covers, etc.) and enjoy playing with unexpected colors (such as my pink Christmas card). Mostly, I keep cards either monochromatic (multiple shades of a single color) paired with a neutral or two colors and a neutral. More colors than that, and I start getting hives. Although...doing rainbow cards (six different brads in a row, for instance) is fun. Hope that answers your question, edie3!