Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell, 2010

Farewell, 2010. You are a great friend, and I can't believe you're leaving us already. You weren't long enough, but this card sure is.

Yes, it's a long card with LOTS of white space. But I wanted to see how this fabulous sentiment and little dragonfly would look huddled in one corner of a long card. The long ascender for the d creates a strong vertical border to the sentiment, and I wondered how it would look in a lot of horizontal white space.

I like it. It's bold and graphic and courageously empty. But I wish those adorable Hero Arts brown gemstones came one size smaller. That one is just a bit too big for that poor little dragonfly. Maybe he's a rapper dragonfly with a taste for big bling. Or Lady Gaga.

May your New Year's Eve celebrations be blingy and festive. Or, you could just celebrate like we do: go out on the 30th and eat Bang Bang Shrimp in relative peace, then on the 31st, stay home, watch a movie, go to bed at 10:00, wake up on New Year's morning, and say, "Happy New Year!" You don't have to worry so much about drunks on the road that way.

Except that last night we went home behind a drunk driving 15 miles below the speed limit who crossed the center line occasionally. At least he was in front of us where we could keep an eye on him.

Please be safe.

Oh, and have a happy New Year!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: VersaMagic
paper: PTI vintage cream
accessories: Hero Arts brown gemstone

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Growing Green in One Subtle Layer

This time of year, after the glitz and glitter of Christmas, tends to be subtle for me. I made a set of simple, one-layer cards using all the images in StampinUp's Growing Green set. Here are two of the cards:

My goal was to create a long, loose border on the left third of the card to echo the elongated ascender on the h of the sentiment, which is from Hero Arts. The idea is to offer, visually, tall thanks. I was totally hooked on Baja Breeze and River Rock as a combo...very soothing and peaceful. But I think this would look awesome in bright colors, too.

My resolution from two years ago to use every image stamp I own has been so much fun. I'm not quite done, but I am focusing more and more on new acquisitions...most of the old stuff has been used already. I've even started putting new stamps in a basket to hold them until I use them. It's so fun to dive into that basket, make a bunch of stuff, and then add the stamps to my collection. It feels much more responsible than my previous method of hiding new stuff in my stash.

Do you have any tricks you use to USE your stuff?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One Stamp, Two Ways, and a New OLW Challenge!

For the OLW Challenge, please visit Jennifer's blog HERE. (You can also click the link in the sidebar for OLW34.) By coincidence, my first card today meets the challenge to use just one image stamp and one sentiment on a one layer card.

The small chandelier stamp from Hero Arts is such an elegant shape and design, but it's not small. My cards yesterday and today are standard 5.5" x 4.25" size, and as you can see, that chandelier takes up a lot of space. Today, I want to show two different uses for a largish image like this one.

First, a totally flat, one-layer card. Yesterday's cards used ribbon and smaller sentiments, but to achieve balance with the larger image and just a sentiment, I looked for a sentiment that had nearly as much weight visually as the chandelier. To anchor the chandelier so it wasn't just floating around, I stamped it so the top runs off the card. The sentiment is an old PSX stamp, stamped in Memento London Fog.

While this looked simply elegant in real life, I want to add Stickles to my computer screen. Which would be bad for my screen, don't you think?

Well, the second card actually photographed better than it looks in real life, so I guess it all evens out in the end.

Here, I used the chandelier to make a background for a popped focal panel with a sentiment. The background is slightly asymmetrical (on purpose, to keep it interesting), and when I first added the sentiment panel, something looked wrong. The sentiment was nicely centered but looked too even against the background, so I added the half pearls to give a little more asymmetry to panel. I think it worked nicely, and the pearls, from Hero Arts, are a dead ringer for Memento New Sprout...the green I used.

Design Discussion: Random stamping on backgrounds is an art unto itself. If you stamp truly randomly, without thinking about what you're going to put over the background, you'll often end up with awkward gaps or crowding when you place your focal point over the background. For this background, I planned a visual triangle around the center, so you see most of three chandeliers, all slightly running off edges and all off-set from each other. Then, I stamped just a bit of the bottom of the chandelier in the big blank space at the top...not enough to register as a whole chandelier, but enough color to create three largish blank areas in a nicely asymmetrical triangle behind the sentiment panel. Also, there is no trapped white space, which I'll talk about in detail on another post. In short, trapped white space is an area of white space that can't get off the page and creates an unpleasant hole in your design.

On another note, if I'd had teardrop pearls rather than round ones, the green card would look EVEN BETTER. But alas, I don't have teardrop pearls and wonder if anyone makes them. With all the chandelier stamps out there right now, that would be a popular embellishment, I think. Plus, you could make flowers with the teardrops as the petals and leaves, rain drops of blue ones, and fun corner embellishments combining teardrops and round ones.

Oh, my gosh! Someone make teardrop pearls RIGHT NOW!!!!! I will buy them in every color. I promise!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Soft or Dramatic...What's Your Opinion?

Good morning!

I have a question for you for which there is no right's just a matter of taste and opinion, without moral or ethical significance.

Do you prefer soft cards or dramatic cards?

My butt is on the fence, but today, I'm definitely leaning toward soft, serene, peaceful cards. Perhaps my life is a little wacky and chaotic right now (in a good way, I keep telling myself), and I crave calm. Perhaps I've always found peace in soft colors and subtle images. Perhaps by February, after months of gray and white landscapes, I will once again gravitate toward bright, fun colors. But for now, this soft chandelier is making me very happy.

I used Memento London Fog and Angel Pink for the stamps, and a sheer ribbon with shimmer to hang the chandelier and anchor it in all that restful white space. I do wish I'd cut the ribbon more simply at an angle rather than notching it, but that's a quibble. The card makes me happy.

Today's more dramatic card changes the orientation from portrait to landscape and the white ribbon and gray sentiment for black. I remember watching a home decor show on HGTV years ago in which the designer explained adding a touch of black to light pastels helps keep them from being too blah. This is, I think, a universal design idea that works extraordinarily well on cards and scrapbook pages, too.

I cut the ribbon too short on this one (what was it with me and ribbon that day?), but otherwise, I like this. The sheer/satin ribbon isn't too heavy for the chandelier (as a solid satin or grosgrain might have been), and the black certainly kicks up the baby blue.

So, what is your preference: soft or dramatic? Why do you think you're drawn to one over the other? Or are you, like me, affected in your preference by whatever is going on in your life...your mood, level of caffeine, etc.?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Of Thank You Notes and Reorganization

Now that Christmas is over, it's time to think about thank you notes. Today, the boys and I will write a bunch of them. Some I've made over the last year are Christmas-themed, but those I've made in the last few weeks are not. Like this one, which uses a lamp from the Hero Arts Decorative Lamp set.

I can't remember exactly what green ink I used (maybe VersaMagic Tea Leaves...a dreamy green!), but the purply color is Boysenberry VersaColor, which is almost a dead ringer for SU's razzleberry. I wanted a table to ground the lamp but didn't want the bulk of a knot or bow added to what is already a double-dimensional card, so I wrapped SU dotted razzleberry ribbon flat around a popped panel. The lines of the grosgrain mimic the lines in the lamp shade, which is, of course, popped up. The card is 4.25" square, the sentiment is from PTI's anniversary set Round and Round, and the raised panel is 3" square.

Blithering about Reorganization...

I read Joan B's description of getting her supplies organized into her new Scrapbox on her blog here. This, combined with a revived confessional thread on SCS about people having too many supplies and a new thread by a woman who is putting herself on a stamp-supply spending freeze, and I felt uncontrollably motivated to reorganize my craft room. You see, my room's been looking cluttered lately, and my AR/OC self is feeling weighted down by that. I want to start the new year with a clean, tidy, organized room.

I spent about three hours yesterday going through stuff, condensing, and I'm not quite finished. You see, two years ago, when I resolved to use every image stamp I own (still ongoing and a very good resolution!), I also resolved not to buy any craft supplies I didn't really need. I focused my buying on replacing consummables I loved (self-adhesive gemstones, especially, and PTI white cardstock) and the occasional punch, as well as project-specific supplies. For stamps, I limited my spending to birthday and Christmas money, which, given the generosity of my family, has been more than sufficient.

As I used up some supplies, I didn't replace them. Ribbon, for instance. Two years ago, I used ribbon on virtually every card I made, so I bought it gleefully. (Unfortunately, now I don't use ribbon on cards nearly as often...though obviously judging from today's card, it's still a player.) Back then, I had 9 glass jars and two photo boxes full of ribbon. I mean FULL. Yesterday, without purging any ribbon at all, I eliminated the two photoboxes. The jars are still fairly full, but that's what I call progress.

My plan is to use up as much of my ribbon stash as possible and then start buying silk ribbon, which seems so much more sensible for cards as it results in flatter bows and knots. Unfortunately, until I use up most of what I have, I must resist the temptation.

I also have given away or donated a bunch of stuff in my quarterly purges. The result of all this fiscal responsibility was loose storage...drawers that were half-full and boxes that had just a few things left in them. Hence, the need to condense. Plus, the room had just become cluttered and messy, with random things stuffed in odd places.

It's already much improved, and I only have about an hour of work left. Obviously, any 12' x 10' room requiring over four hours to reorganize represents a serious mental illness. Okay, well, a mild one, at least. It also shows how incredibly blessed I am to have easy access to supplies and the means to purchase such a hoard without resorting to credit cards. It helps to have a husband with even more expensive hobbies so I need not feel guilty about all this stuff.

For two years, I've been heading in the right direction toward balancing possession and usefulness, and that's a resolution it seems I can stick to.

What are your crafting resolutions this year?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Before and After: The Evolution of a Valentine

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas!

I thought it would be fun to show how a few of my cards evolve and the thought process behind that evolution. So here's a before-and-after post on a simple Valentine.

To start, I pulled out this set from Hero Arts, which I bought for my birthday back in November. Doesn't it just scream VALENTINE?!?!?! Okay, not so much. But the simple little envelope struck me as the perfect image for a Valentine, especially when paired with a 3D heart, also from Hero Arts.

My first instinct is usually to go utterly minimalist with cards. I ask myself the following question: What is the LEAST I can do to communicate my message interestingly?

For this, I thought making a one-layer with just the envelope image and heart sticker would be perfect. I was boringly wrong.

Sure, this communicates the message (a love letter) but it isn't, shall we say, very interesting. I find it fascinating how unpredictable the outcome will be when I start a card so simply. Sometimes, at this point in a design, that wow factor is there, sometimes it isn't. This time, it isn't, and I couldn't tell you why if you held a heat gun to my head. I just know boring when I see it!

One solution to a boring CAS card is to pop something up. Adding just a touch of dimension may be all it needs to become visually interesting.

In this case, I also added a sentiment because all that uninterrupted white space around my love letter seemed rather blah and made it look like it was floating. I might have chosen to put the envelope on a red card base or even pink, but adding the one-line, red sentiment creates a bit of a visual triangle, with the sentiment as the base and heart at the peak. Visual triangles add stability and balance to a design, and here, the triangle keeps the envelope from floating around in white space. It also mirrors the upside down triangle of the envelope flap so nicely, doesn't it?

Another possible solution would have been to stamp wings behind the letter, and perhaps angle the envelope rather than make it straight. Again, that would create a visual triangle, but I've never been a huge fan of wings on inanimate objects, especially since the feminine products sprouted wings. Just my quirk. If you like wings, go for it. It might work. But I make no guarantees.

stamps: Hero Arts (envelope), StampinUp (sentiment, Three Little Words)
ink: Memento black, StampinUp real red
paper: PTI white
accessories: heart sticker (Hero Arts), dimensional

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peacock Make-Over

As most of you agreed, the ledge I put on THIS CARD to give the peacock something to stand on was kind of lame. Okay, really lame. So I remade the card, sans ledge. I like this MUCH better.

Not much else to say about this, so let's talk about the new Hero Arts catalog. Happy sigh. I'm loving it and have started a wish list that is sort of scary. It'll get whittled down over the next month, but oh my gosh it's so much fun!

Also, I ordered the catalog bundle (with the cling set called My Type) through Hero's website, but filled the order. They sent a $5 coupon for an order placed before the 30th, which is nice, and a pack of dark green rhinestones as a gift. Must say I'm impressed.

And no, they didn't pay me to say that.

I won't be posting again until after Christmas to focus on my boys and the furry fiend furry golden sunshine.

Christmas blessings to one and all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hero Arts and News about This Week's OLW Challenge

Let's start with the OLW first. Jennifer and I decided to skip the OLW this week, for obvious reasons, and Jennifer will resume the challenge next Wednesday. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Today's cards use a new stamp set I bought for my birthday from Hero Arts called Thoughtful Messages. I decided to use every image stamp in my birthday hoard before putting them away, and these are a very colorful part of that commitment. Oh how I love them!

How-To Tips: I stamped the flower on scrap paper three times and colored them with Bic and Sharpie markers. Then, I cut them out, popped them up on panels stamped with the sentiment. Add a spot of bling, black matte and colored card base, and there you have it!

These cards represent a style of cardmaking that is typical of Hero Arts, and one that helped get me hooked on cardmaking. Tuesday, I received my brand new Hero Arts catalog. I will carry it around like a security blanket for the next month or so before placing an order. Waiting to order keeps me from impulse purchasing and means that I end up really liking more of what I buy--not all, mind you, but I'm getting better at choosing wisely.

Do you have any tricks or rules you use to keep your purchases responsible?

Monday, December 20, 2010

CAS98 Apron Thanks

The CAS98 Challenge this week is Inspired by an Apron. The apron link is HERE.

My card focuses on the apron's colors and layering of the ruffles, which I created rather flat by using a Martha Stewart border punch. The button isn't particularly bulky, so overall I doubt this would require extra postage.

Design Discussion: I'm rather fond of a 3-3-1 combination to balance a card when using more than one color. There are three white elements, three baja breeze elements, and one river rock element. My AR/OC mind likes following the rule of odd numbers. I'm feeling a bit odd today.

But then, you already knew because I am odd every day. That's okay. I'm good with that.

Click right on over to the CAS challenge and have fun yourself! BTW, the apron is totally awesome as an apron!

On a completely different note, I received an email from the folks at Change of Address on Monday. They have an article about occasions for sending cards that has some cool thoughts. Then, I spent an enjoyable twenty minutes poking around through their older posts. Some of my favorites: "15 Houseplants Anyone Can Care For," "10 Teenage Pranks Involving Houses," and "10 Tips to Cure Your Stinky Home." I only need the first of those three (that you know), but I sure could have used some teenage prank ideas seven years ago when we lived in Rapid City and had the neighbors from aych eeee double toothpicks, but perhaps it was a good idea this blog wasn't around then. Some of the posts are quite informative, some silly. You can guess which I prefer. I do think, however, they need to have a "Top 40 Simple Stamping Blogs" post. And I wouldn't mind being on it.

stamps: Hero Arts Thoughtful Messages
ink: baja breeze
paper: baja breeze, river rock, PTI white
accessories: grosgrain ribbon, craft floss, button (SEI), Martha Stewart border punch, glue, tape

Sunday, December 19, 2010

You Don't HAVE to Color the Peacocks...

So, I was looking through Take Ten and saw some cards which used images stamped in black with accents of color by Glenda Giguere. The effect was striking, and I wanted to play with it myself. The Hero Arts peacocks set was perfect for trying the effect because it has outline images that are really pretty all by themselves, and with spots where coloring could add a little umph. So I made this:

Now, I'm not sure how I feel about the little ledge I have him standing on (good idea or not?), but I LOVE how the spots of Turquoise Stickles dress him up! It's uber sparkly in real life, though I'm not sure the picture does it justice.

Why not look for some outline images in your stash that you could stamp in black on white cardstock and then dress up this way...with a just a little glitter, bling, embellishments, or coloring? It's quick, easy, and has a fun graphic impact!

Many thanks to all who have wished me well after yesterday's rather whiny post. I'm still feeling icky, but my energy seems to be coming back. This, too, shall pass...hopefully in time for Christmas, which is looking to be white here in our corner of Ohio!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Flourished Peacock Just for You

The clear peacock set from Hero Arts made it into my last order, and here's the first card I made with it. The coloring is easy (done here with SU turquoise and green galore markers), And I love this sentiment.

A nasty cold is kicking my butt, so I just can't muster anything clever right now. I'm falling in love with Puffs Plus with Vicks. How sad is that?

I do want to thank those of you who have sent Christmas cards to the Hammetts. I've delivered several already and got another one today. Y'all are so kind to reach out to this family that's hurting for the holidays. Big hugs.

Also, big thanks to everyone who sent cards to the North Dakota State Penitentiary. I received a card from one of the inmates thanking all of us for adding some cheer to their holiday season.

Well, my nose feels like someone scrubbed it with sandpaper, I'm coughing and sneezing, and my throat hurts. But just thinking about how nice you all are is making me feel better. Today's card is for all of you...wishing you all things beautiful. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Finally...a Use for Washi Tape!

Okay, so I saw JulieHRR use washi tape on a card months ago and immediately bought a bunch of it because I have no self-control. Then, I tried making cards with it. The results were not pretty. After making one decent card with it, I put it aside, you know, for later.

Well, later finally came.

Washi tape, it turns out, makes an awesome table cloth. I cut the long piece with a craft knife, then cut two triangles for the corners. And there you have it. A table cloth.

The lamp shade and base were stamped on scraps and cut out. The base is glued directly onto the table and the lampshade popped for dimension.

I no longer regret that impulse purchase, but man is this one expensive card!

stamps: Hero Arts (lamp), Papertrey (sentiment)
ink: Ancient Page
paper: PTI white
accessories: washi tape, dimensionals

Thursday, December 16, 2010

One Last Christmas Card Blow-Out

One of the sets I ordered for my birthday in November was Papertrey's Holly Jolly. It seemed like a very appealling CAS set...and it IS!

First up, I used the bracket border punch (Fiskars) to edge the card. The curves and points of the brackets are not exactly like holly, but they are similar enough. The sentiment is from PTI's Signature Christmas. I popped one of the holly leaves (stamped with Always Artichoke) and used some of my big bling in dark red that matches the Cherry Cobbler of the sentiment.

Next, I used another sentiment from Signature Christmas and the tiny holly stamp from Holly Jolly. The corners of the popped panel were punched with an SU ticket punch.

Holly Jolly comes with two border stamps. Here's the "positive" stamp, stamped in Memento Cottage Ivy and accented with red Stickles. The sentiment comes with the set and is stamped in SU Real Red.

Finally, the "negative" border stamp. I used yet another sentiment from Signature Christmas and blinged just three tiny holly berries.

Hopefully, I'll now be able to move on to something OTHER than Christmas cards. Ooops, almost forgot to post the coffee bags I decorated to hold Russian Tea gifts this year.

I made 18 of these for teachers and neighbors. The punch is SU's bird and branch, done in Real Red and a random gray I had in my stash. These were matched up with the gray and red cards I made HERE. Not bad, eh?

I love Christmas and feel very Christmas-y right now, but I think I'll let loose a primal scream if I post another Christmas card before March. Maybe April. So good-bye for now, Christmas cards. I love ya, but I need a break.

Note About In-Linkz: Apparently, they changed the default settings or I screwed up something when I set up this collection. To fix the problem, I'd have to delete and recreate the collection, which means everyone who's already posted would have to re-link. I'll just make sure next time I enable the photos to show. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Easy Christmas Cards with A Wreath for All Seasons

Note: I'm not sure what's going on with the InLinkz button. The photos are not showing, just names. I've emailed InLinkz for an explanation, and hopefully we can get that fixed.

Part of my birthday order from Papertrey Ink included A Wreath for All Seasons. I thought it would make awesome one-layer Christmas cards, and I was right.

Instead of getting creative with layout or embellishments, I chose to play around with color, moving outside the traditional red and green to some other playful options for the first three cards, and putting a new spin on red for the fourth card.

First up, Green Galore and Tempting Turquoise. How happy and fun is this!?!?

And Marina Mist and Baja Breeze, for a much cooler and more peaceful feel.

And more of the gray and red I've used so much this season. Yes, I blinged this one up...because I could.

The final card, which uses the other holiday wreath in the set, has two shades of red: Real Red and Bravo Burgundy.

If you're in a rush to get some cards made, something like this can really come together quickly and easily...and by varying colors, it might not be quite so boring to mass-produce, either!

stamps: PTI A Wreath for All Seasons, Signature Christmas
ink: SU, except Memento London Fog
paper: PTI white
accessories: red rhinestones, scallop scissors to round the corners

OLW33 Home Decor

This week's One-Layer Wednesday Challenge is Home Decor! if  you have a stamp of furniture or other home decor elements (picture frames, vases, etc.) use it, or, if you don't have such a stamp, use an element of your actual home decor as inspiration (in that case please take a picture of the inspiration piece as well).

I got carried away with color variations (love those Memento inks!), but all four of these are basically the same card. I just can't pick a favorite, so I'm showing them all!

These cards all use the A Muse large oval for the table top, a Hero Arts lamp from the Decorative Lamp set, and a sentiment from Papertrey's Round and Round Anniversary set. Oh, and a single small rhinestone. Just because.

Inking the lamp with two colors was easy with the Memento Dew Drop ink pads. It's pretty easy to control the ink placement with those little darlings!

OLW33 Rules

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

2. If you have one, use a home decor stamp, such as a piece of furniture, vase, or light fixture. If you don't have such a stamp, go shopping (you have my permission!) OR use a piece of your own home decor to inspire your card. If you use an inspiration piece, please include a photo of it on your blog post. Remember to keep embellishments to a minimum.

3. Upload your card somewhere online and link to it using the OLW33 InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity.

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

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fun Gifts for Lots of Kids

Okay, what do you give all the little kids who hang with your kids, who live on your street, who are important to you but for whom you cannot or should not buy expensive gifts?

Candy, of course.

And you can make that candy festive and special by packaging it in fun ways. Here are two cool ideas for small packages of holiday candy for the kids in your life.

Idea #1: Tiny Stockings

These adorably small stockings came from Hobby Lobby and were on sale for cheap, cheap, cheap. But they are soft and fuzzy, red and white, and beyond cute.

Side Note: The white plastic basket is one of several I use to organize my projects in the craft room. They are also cheap, cheap, cheap at Target. If you're AR/OC, too, go get some. They're quite handy.

Idea #2: Small Paper Sacks

If you're feeling a little crafty (but not too much), here's an idea. I bought these white paper bags with a coupon at Michael's in the cake/candy section, I think. They are small...just tall enough to hold a standard candy cane. I stamped this PSX Merry Christmas on them, punched two holes in the tops and threaded ribbon through them.

These two tips are amazingly easy and quick. Just grab a few bags of holiday candy on your trip at the grocery, and in a few easy steps, you can hand out little pressies (as my family calls them) to all the little ones in your world.

In the comments, feel free to share your super-easy, inexpensive packaging tips for store-bought, wrapped candy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Give-Away Winner!

The winner is ELISE, who wrote,

Our family tradition is one passed down from my husband's family. One week-end in December we make 4 Swedish tea rings - one for Christmas morning, one to share with our former neighbors, one to freeze and save for hubby's birthday the week after Christmas, and one for him to take to school. Christmas morning we do stockings one a t a time and then have warm tea ring and scrambled eggs for breakfast followed by opening of presents.

Thanks so much to everyone who shared holiday traditions. There are so many wonderful ones listed, and if you haven't read them yet, please go HERE and check them out.
Elise, please send me an email at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com with your snail mail address!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Inspiration, Part 2

NOTE: I'll select a winner for Monday's give-away on Sunday, so get your comment in before midnight Saturday! The comments have been absolutely many ideas!

For part 1 of this series, please click here.

Since it's been a while since Part 1, here's the picture of the inspiration from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Christmas Ideas magazine:

Today, we're focusing on the polka dot wrapping paper. I reversed the colors (from white dots on green paper to green dots on white paper), and loved the fun results!

The sentiment is from Mark's Finest Papers' set Greetings of the Season. The dots are PTI's Polka Dot background set (the first one, since I don't have the second!). The floss is dark brown and matches the ink of the sentiment much better IRL than in the picture.

Next up, I wanted to play off the pine boughs of the tree, but all the pine bough stamps I own are too realistic...I wanted a stylized look like the poinsettias and reindeer on the mantle in the inspiration picture. Of course, I recently bought the Martha Stewart pine border punch on sale with some birthday money, and it was PERFECT for getting the natural appeal of the inspiration with a clean and simple style!

That sentiment is from Swirl Christmas, a Hero Arts set. Its rustic yet festive font struck just the right tone for the inspiration.

Finally, I used a single white poinsettia on kraft to capture the soft and natural atmosphere of the inspiration stocking...the fuzzy flower soft was perfect to soften the crisp white since I don't have felt for the flower.

I hope this has showed how you can focus your attention of little details of an inspiration and run with them on a card.

Up next week...emergency quick Christmas card and gift ideas for crafters in a time crunch! Also, some cards that have






Your're welcome. *wink*

Saturday, December 4, 2010

OLW Winners on Two Blogs!

Click on over to Jennifer's Blog to find out if you are one of the FIVE winners who won the OLW 30 give-away!

The OLW27 Give-Away is also finished and ready to give. Here's the email I received from Rhonda regarding final numbers:

Just another realllllllllly big thank you from myself, our group - The Folding Angels, and the guys at the ND State Penitentiary. They have been thrilled with the cards and just knowing that someone else cares. And the places the cards came from - AMAZING. Cards came from Malaysia, two batches from England, Australia and several different states. Cards were received from 24 gals for a total of 106 cards. It is true - many hands, much work accomplished.

How completely cool is that!

The winner of the $20 gift card is Jen T. (aka superjen) in Utah! Congratulations, Jen! I need to know your email address and what online company you would like your gift certificate for: Mark's Finest, Papertrey, or another of your choice! Please email me at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Inspiration, Part 1

First of all, thank you for your encouraging comments on my Random Thoughts post. Seriously, by midafternoon I was back to normal and stamping up a storm. I made 18 Christmas cards in 50 minutes. Of course, they were mass production of one of my gray and red one-layer cards, but still. I now have 100 cards ready to send. Another 20 or so, and I'm good to go.

Several people have said they have a hard time dealing with inspiration challenges because they just aren't sure what to do or where to start. Let's take a look at how non-stamping magazines can inspire cards. Here's the inspiration page from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Christmas Ideas magazine.

When there's so much on the page, it's best to focus on one small detail that stands out for you. In this case, the focus for today's card is the white poinsettia wreaths on the mantle:

Isn't that PERFECT for a punched wreath! This is a pretty literal interpretation, using a small flower punch (each poinsettia is made of two flowers layered with a gemstone in the center). The sentiment was white-embossed.

For the card, the original inspiration wreath has been taken completely out of context and given space to breathe. So simple, so clean, so EASY. And I never would have thought about this particular arrangement without seeing that poinsettia wreath on the mantle in the picture.

stamps: Anna Griffin
ink: SU white craft ink
paper: SU celery
accessories: white embossing powder, flower punch, glue pen, olive gemstones

Random Thoughts

Please scroll down if you missed the OLW31 post.

I've got a lot on my mind right now, mostly craft related, and it's just so frustrating to be one person and unable to DO IT ALL! Here are some of the things I'm thinking about:

1. The winter issue of Take Ten magazine. Oh. My. Gosh. Would you like me to list all the cards I flagged on my first reading of it? It would take a while! My usual complaint about this magazine is how un-clean and un-simple and un-fast so many of the cards in it are. This issue...well, it'd DA BOMB. Go buy it now. I'll wait for you.

2. Are you back? Good. Isn't that the best issue EVER? Anyway, I'm also thinking about Christmas cards, how mine are not finished, much less signed, addressed, stamped and ready to mail. Ordinarily, I get started on them the day after Thanksgiving while I'm avoiding the malls, but not so much this year. Sigh. I also haven't got a single gift I need to mail packaged yet...and some of them are not even made. WHINE, WHINE, WHINE.

2.5. Also, I have an obcene amount of new rubber and photopolymer right now, and I DON'T HAVE TIME to play with all of it. Feel sorry for me, please. 

3. I just ran into Lincoln's mom at the post office, where I mailed two RAKs and bought my Christmas stamps, so two tasks done. Yippy! Lincoln, if you remember, was a baby who died in May of a dreadfully aggressive leukemia. I had asked for prayers for him here and on my other blog. Lincoln's family is still grieving deeply for his loss, so I ask again for continued prayers for healing and comfort for this family who fought so hard to save their son's life.

This is their first Christmas without him and I thought it would be nice if they got more than the usual Christmas cards, just to let them know that people care. If you would like to send Lincoln's family a card, please email me at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com, and I'll send you my address. I'll take your cards to them as they come in.

4. It's December. How did that happen?

4.5. This means I have to organize the give-away for OLW29. Help me, Rhonda! Literally, Rhonda, please let me know how many people sent cards. Thanks so much!

5. Next week is the Mark's Finest Papers December release. How did that happen?

6. Why am I blogging when I should be stamping? Why? Why? WHY?

Goodbye for now. Hope you're not as panicked as I am.

OLW31, Back to the Beginning

This week's OLW challenge is to go back to your beginnings in rubber stamping. What technique or product really got you hooked? Was it background stamping, hardware, glitter, a particular stamp, a punch, a paper crimper, watercoloring, colored pencils, markers or something else? For me (and I imagine for lots of you), it was heat embossing. Watching embossing powder melt looked like magic to me and sent me into raptures.


[photo deleted by author]

Rules for OLW31

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

2. Make a one-layer card that uses a technique or product that got you hooked on stamping. Keep embellishments to a minimum and do not add layers! If what got you hooked was patterned paper, you may use a punched shape on your card, but no layers!

3. Upload your card somewhere online and link to it using the OLW31 InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity.

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

stamps: Mark's Finest Papers
ink: ColorBox pigment
paper: PTI white
accessories: ribbon (Mark's Finest Papers), hologram embossing powder, heat gun