Saturday, December 31, 2011

"Why couldn't it be 'follow the butterflies'?"

On these gray midwest winter days, some butterflies are desperately needed, just because.

And give yourself ten points if you read the title of this post in your head in Ron Weasley's voice.

The move is going well, but everything's taking longer than anticipated. My craft room hasn't been touched yet, but I hope to get it over to the new house on Monday. Internet won't be up and running at the new house until Wednesday afternoon...gack! Needless to say, my normal posting schedule will be resumed as soon as possible, but not as soon as I would like. Thank you for your patience!

Happy New Year, everyone!

stamps: Papertrey Modern Basics, Paper Tray
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: none

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thinking of You

Are you sick of Modern Basics yet? Or have you decided that you need this set because ohmygosh the possibilities!!!!!


No time for chit-chat today. If you want to know what's obsessing my brain, click over to my other blog HERE. Have a great day!

stamps: Papertrey Modern Basics, SU Sincere Salutations
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey
accessories: none

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Birthday Card Set with Modern Basics

I hope you all had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas holiday. We did. And today, we dive into moving. As I wrote last week, posting may be spotty as we may not have internet at the new house right away. Plus, well, we have a lot to do. Things should be back to normal on the blog by the middle of next week at the latest. Thank you for your patience!

As I promised last week, here are more cards using the most basic CAS layout imaginable. I love that Modern Basics from Papertrey provides so many variations on this centered-up layout, and I think just maybe these are my favorites with this layout so far.

All three cards use Memento inks. I love how the darker colors of the last card create a completely different feel from the two pastel versions.

How-To Tips: To get the flower perfectly centered, I measured using a quilting ruler and put a tiny pencil dot in the center. Then, using a gridded acrylic block, I stamped the petal four times around the dot and finally covered the dot with self-adhesive bling.
stamps: Papertrey Modern Basics
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: self-adhesive rhinestones

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to You!

Merry Christmas a few days early! I hope that whatever holiday you celebrate this season, you are blessed with peace, love, and joy!

I will be taking a break from blogging over the weekend for obvious reasons. In addition, next week is a very big week for our family. We are supposed to close on the new house Wednesday, but we will begin moving on Tuesday. There will be a most unfortunate delay in getting cable/internet service at our new house, so postings will be iffy.

Blessings to you all, and many thanks for your support of Simplicity!

stamps: Papertrey Modern Basics, Framed
ink: Memento bamboo, SU real red
paper: PTI white
accessories: red nail heads

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Favorite Layout for Modern Basics

I have decided that my favorite layout with Modern Basics is a fun, central image with LOTS of white space around it in a landscape orientation.

See? There are a million different variations that can be made with this ultimate clean-and-simple layout and Modern Basics, and I'll share more variations next week.

I want to take this chance to thank all of you who have sent me Christmas cards. They are so heartwarming and beautiful! Also, thank you, Audrie, for the incredible package of SU goodies you sent. Oh what fun I will have in my new craft room with them!

Speaking of the new craft room...thank you all for your input. You came up with things I hadn't considered and gave me much food for thought. At this point, I've pretty much decided to use the basement bedroom as my craft room. Guests will take one of the kids' bedrooms, and the kids will sleep in the basement. When we have house-guests, they are almost always people who either 1) put us up in their kids' bedrooms when we visit them or 2) are family and don't care where they sleep when they visit. We only have guests a couple times a year anyway (this past year, we only had one guest for two nights!), and it seems silly to me to dedicate a wonderful space to such limited use.

The main problem with the sliding door area is that when the boys have friends over, we want them to have the basement as a play area, but they won't like mom being in the same space. Plus, I rarely stamp when the family is at home until they are asleep, so as concerned as I am about being isolated from family, it's not really a huge problem.

We may or may not put the extra bed in the craft room. Still not decided. We may end up putting the bed in the tiny finished room (and put our kids down there when we have guests) and the futon furniture in the craft room, which I think would be a good compromise.

The main point George made is that whatever we decide, we can always change it down the road as we see fit. Whatever happens, I'm grateful for all your insights into the dilemma!

We had the final walk-through of the house last night. It's amazing, and we are giddy with excitement!

Note: I had only had one cup of coffee when I composed this post. Since then, I found that 1) I didn't put a title on it, 2) I used their incorrectly, 3) I got Audrie's name wrong (what the heck?!?!), and 4) who knows what else I'm missing or got wrong. My apologies. Please don't email me if you find something. I don't want to know.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Something Off? Try a Little Tweak

When I first tried this card idea with Modern Basics, I wasn't really satisfied. The result seemed a little, I don't know, clunky? Awkward? Inelegant? Sturdy?

So I rotated the flower a quarter turn. HELLO, indeed!

Sometimes, what's wrong with a clean-and-simple design isn't much. It's just that there is no place to hide from the tiniest design flaw. Tweaking, rather than full-scale revising, is needed. Look through your recent cards and see if one you're dissatisfied with simply needs a little tweak to be stellar!

On another note, the OLW73 challenge cards ARE stellar, despite the fact that it's an odd numbered challenge. At least there was an even number of participants...what a relief! I will make time in the next few days to comment on all the entries. Thank you all for playing, and look for OLW74 in the new year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Papercrafts Sketch Meets Modern Basics

My new issue of Papercrafts Magazine arrived  last week, and I just had to try this layout with Modern Basics. So fun to step out and try something a bit different!

Well, just a bit.

To make my colored strips, I masked half the small leaf border stamp to ink it up, then staggered the image as shown to get the look of the sketch. The sentiment is from Papertrey's Simple Little Things (the anniversary set from their first year, I think). LOVE those sentiments!

stamps: Papertrey Modern Basics, Simple Little Things
ink: Memento
paper: PTI
accessories: Corner Chomper, dimensionals

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm in Love

Maile Belles has captivated me with her style ever since I stumbled across her blog forever ago. When she started designing for Papertrey, I knew my money and I would be parting frequently, and when she released Modern Basics, the set called to just the moment I'd decided to trim my purchasing and resist new stuff while using old stuff.

Darn it all. Darn it all to heck.

When my fabulous SIL gave me a gift card to Papertrey for my birthday, Modern Basics was the first thing in my shopping cart.

And oh how I love it.

Because you can do things like this with it:

One day, I'm going to mask and ink this in two colors and draw crossbars with a ruler so the two strands look like a double helix. And give the card to my chemist aunt. But considering how much is going on in my life right now (so many good and blessed things!), I figured it was best to stick to one color. A double helix will result in mistakes and wasted paper, and I don't have the energy to face that with maturity and without bad words. But one day....

To make this, I used the open petal turned sideways, and stamped it repeatedly across the card, starting in the middle and working my way to the sides. I was amazed at how easy it was to line up with the gridded acrylic block, but the joints were not completely perfect, so they begged for bling. I stamped the Thanks before adding bling, though. I learned the hard way once that bigger bling can interfere with your stamp. So stamp first, bling last.

Y'all are going to get sick of this set in the coming week. I'm on fire with it. But I'm in love and beg your forgiveness for my enthusiasm. You might as well just go buy the set now if you haven't already.

You know you want it.

stamps: Modern Basics (Papertrey)
ink: Memento
paper: Papertrey
accessories: rhinestones

Saturday, December 17, 2011

White on White Peace

My mantra for today:

Forecast calls for snowflakes flurrying around, but in my head, they are butterflies flitting over spring grass. All that white makes sense, now, doesn't it?

Peace. Love. Joy.

To you.

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Garden
ink: Memento
paper: PTI white
accessories: rhinestones, dimensionals

Friday, December 16, 2011

Three Scoops of Cold

I'm sitting at my computer freezing. Not sure why I'm so cold. Oh, wait. Yes, it's because my husband set the thermostat to 64 degrees F. That does explain the purple fingernails.

Here's a card to make you feel cold, although I used nice, warm colors to brighten it up.

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you're warmer than I am.

stamps: Papertrey
ink: Memento
paper: PTI
accessories: dimensionals

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thinking of You...Graphically Enhanced

The new Papertrey set Background Basics: Circles is a fabulous set to use when you really want to highlight a sentiment. You can use it to frame or bracket the sentiment in interesting, even playful ways. Like this:

The sentiment is from Botanical Silhouettes. It has a very strong horizontal component to it, so I decided to use the border stamp to emphasize the vertical. That looked a bit plain, so I blinged it up with some large rhinestones that have languished unused for far too long. Don't they look happy to be out of the package?

Since the you is in blue, the recipient is emphasized here. The line of circles creates a visual triangle of the blue, which forces your eye to the sweet spot of the card.

How easy? How clean and simple? How do you like it?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One-Layer Wednesday 73: Ohmmmmm

First, let me warn you that I don't like odd numbers. I've always thought this was a dirty little secret until the lady at the fish counter at Kroger said, "Let's try four catfish fillets. I don't like odd numbers."


So when Jennifer joined me in offering the OLWs, I gave her the odd numbers because, well, they don't bother her. Or if they do, she's never felt compelled to share that with me. This week, however, she needed me to do the challenge. She's my friend, so I'll take the odd bullet for her.

But I get 74, too.

And 74 won't come until mid-January. The holidays and my move are going to necessitate a break.

Without further silliness, let's get to OLW73. *insert delicate shudder here*

This week, we could all use some peace. The rush and hustle of December and the pre-Christmas rush can take over and drive us crazy, so I thought it would be helpful to take a break and meditate on peace, tranquility, harmony...ohm, if you will.

Make a one-layer card that says peace to you.

This reminds me of my first time watching cable in California in 1988. I was young and Methodist and from the chicken-fried-steak-and-gravy South, and the television came on to a local Sacramento channel featuring a woman chanting and clanging together brass bowls. She seemed at peace, but I found the brass clangs grating on my nerves and changed the channel.

Guess this means peace is in the eyes and ears of the beholder. So have fun expressing your personal idea of peace.

For me, the PTI set Peaceful Garden (which just came to live with me...yippeeee!) says peace. And here's my peaceful card.

OLW73 Rules

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

2. Make a card that says peace in some way...something relaxing, tranquil, harmonious. Keep embellishments to a minimum.

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

4. The most important rule of all: HAVE FUN! But make it peaceful fun this time. ;-)

stamps: Papertrey Peaceful Garden
ink: Memento new sprout and rich cocoa
paper: PTI white
accessories: pearls

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bunches of Thanks!

Wow. Thanks to all of you who commented on my crafting space post! Y'all are so sweet to take time to help me out with that earth-shatteringly important problem, and your suggestions have me thinking in some very constructive directions. I find it very interesting how there's no real consensus with the choices...which confirms for me that there really isn't a "bad" choice...which makes the choosing so much harder! Will keep you updated on the situation as it develops.

Another huge shout out to Regina B. Regina decided to help me out with my Christmas card shortage and sent me a mailing envelope full of her beautiful stamped creations. Oh, my gosh! They are so very lovely, and I'm going to photograph them and post them before I send them out. Thank you, Regina. Your kindness has saved a bunch of people from store-bought cards!

My third thanks is to Papertrey Ink for making such fun stamps. I've been playing with my latest order and having so much fun NOT making Christmas cards. My sister wants a bunch of multi-purpose cards for her Christmas present, so most of the cards I'll be showing for the next few weeks will go to her.

Up first are two cards made with the same stamp sets and layout, both of which show the problems with lining up border stamps like those in PTI's Background Basics: Circles set. The stamp I used has three rows of small, open circles. For this design, a single image of the stamp is just too thin to balance nicely on the card, so I tried lining it up and stamping twice.

On the first card, the two images were stamped a little too close together, so there's an unattractive line down the center.

The second card shows what happens when the second image is just the tiniest bit little crooked.

I loved the idea of the two cards above...coloring random dots in a monochromatic scheme gives the cards so much movement and graphic whimsy. But the difficulty getting a smooth seam between the two images got frustrating, so I changed stamps and went with a single border image of larger circles. The larger circles are cleaner, less busy, and infinitely easier to stamp.

Then, I decided to see if aligning a different stamp from the set would be easier. This stamp is much easier to work with than the rows of small circles, and the spectrum shades of blue look so fresh and fun!

This whole stamp set simple screams graphic design, and tomorrow's card continues using it in that way. But I want to put my creative cap on and play around with these as elements in scenes. Circles...bubbles...underwater elements...stones...ground...strips used to make flowers...punched elements...hmmm. Lots of possibilities.

Dude Congratulations

Before I share my card for today, let me thank you all for your comments so far on my crafting space post. Those comments make for fascinating reading! Y'all have given me lots of food for thought, and slowly, I'm achieving some clarity of vision for my craft space. If you haven't added your two cents to that post yet, please do. I just love having so many girlfriends give me advice!

Now for today's card, which is destined for my husband's nephew. Matt was graduated Saturday from an intensive, 18-month diesel mechanics school, and we are so very proud of him! Making a card for a not-quite-20-year-old man is tough, so I opted for a simple, natural feel. Kraft card stock, a fern stamp, and congratulations were all it took to create a card I think Matt will appreciate:

The fern growing up out of the corner of the card toward all that empty space seems a good visual metaphor for starting out in a new career, don't you think?

And here are a few things to think about regarding careers. There's a shocking shortage of skilled labor in this country, with over 200,000 thousand jobs unfilled because no one is qualified to do them. While young adults are protesting the lack of jobs and the burden of massive college loans, and while college presidents are including advice about accepting entry-level jobs at graduation ceremonies (oh, the horror!), Matt has smartly pursued studies that will yield him a tidy paycheck. His plan is to save as much as possible over the next five years so he can buy a house.

His momma did her job well, don't you think?

stamps: Papertrey Masculine Motifs
ink: Memento
paper: PTI kraft
accessories: none

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Contemplating my New Craft Space

There are times when OCD really stinks. For instance, let's say, just for the sake of argument, that you're about to move into a really cool new house and have several options for your craft space. Those options, if you have OCD, will drive you nuts as your mind runs around in circles trying to figure out the perfect solution before you move when, really, you just need to commit to one already and then change it if it doesn't work out.

It's not like you're getting married to a space and will have to petition the pope to annul the marriage if you decided you're not compatible.


So, I need to pick a space for my crafting in our new finished basement and thought I'd ask for your insights. Please note that I'm fully aware of how blessed I am to have this OCD dilemma. I'm not whining in a "woe is me" way...just trying to figure out where to start carving my creative space in the new house!

Option 1
Here's the space for the basement walk-out, where the boy is.

I love this smallish, well-lit space for crafting. On the up side, that sliding glass door is eight feet tall and faces east, so the natural ambient light coming in even in the late afternoon is spectacular. I could use both side walls for tables and storage units, and it would be a VERY convenient space for how I work. It's handy to the sink in the wet bar, too. Plus, as the children and hubby use the basement, we'll all be sharing one big recreation space. I won't be secluded and feel like I'm being anti-social while crafting. That recreational advantage was a big part of our motive for buying this house in the first place.

On the down side, that's the basement exit and the first thing you see when you walk down the stairs to the basement. Do I really want my workspace to be the first thing anyone sees when they walk downstairs? Also, that early morning direct light could fade my card stock and damage my rubber stamps, unless I put titanium window film on them, as well as light-filtering curtains (both of which will likely happen whether I use the space as a craft space or not).

Other than using it as a craft space, I have no idea what we would do with this area. It's big enough that I want to do something with it but awkward with the pass-through to the outside.

Option 2
The basement bedroom (about 12' x 14') has a lovely window on the south side of the house, which means lots of natural light in this space as well. On the up side, I'd have privacy, and no one would see the nuttiness of my creativity without entering the room itself.

On the down side, I'd be isolated in my own little corner of the house.The room is pretty big to be a dedicated craft space and might not be that efficient to organize. George wants us to put a bed in that room, which will eat up floor space and doesn't really appeal to me much.

Alternatively, we could put the bed and a small side table in the bonus room in the basement. The bonus room is 8.5' x 9.5' and is essentially a closet: no window, one outlet, bare bulb, but finished. We could give guests one of the kids' rooms upstairs and put the kids in the closet downstairs. That would give me the whole bedroom, but like I said, it's pretty big for the craft space of a woman who professes to be "simple."

Option 3
We could turn the basement bedroom into a formal guest bedroom and use the bonus room as my craft room. On the up side, the size of the bonus room is perfect...cozy, and very workable and efficient. (There's a full bathroom between the basement bedroom and bonus room, by the way.) It would be easy enough to add a better light fixture to the room and a few electrical outlets. A second Ott light for my desk and an Ott floor lamp might take care of the lighting issues. 

On the down side, no natural light. That's really the only insurmountable problem with the space, and even that has its positive side with no fading of paper or damage to rubber.

How do those of you who don't have natural light in your space feel?

If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

Thanks in advance for sharing your opinions.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Going Blingless

Yesterday's cards made me so happy, but I realized that my bling stash is shockingly low, and if I wanted to make more copies of that card, they'd have to go blingless.

Whatever is a girl to do?!?!?

Well, I thought about Papertrey's Out on a Limb set, which contains a small three-berry cluster stamp, pulled it out, and gave it a try. While the results are not quite as pleasing as the bling (how would blingless ever be better than blinged?), I must admit to making ten of these in record time, smiling all the while!

Pear Tart and Ladybug Memento Inks

Cottage Ivy and Rhubarb Memento Inks

And now I'm finished showing you Christmas cards I have made for at least three months. Cross my heart.

Have a lovely weekend. We're going furniture shopping, washing the dog, and taking our Christmas picture (hopefully!).

Friday, December 9, 2011

My New Favorite Christmas Card

Here are my new favorite Christmas cards this year. Oh. My. Goodness.

These use Papertrey Ink's Silent Night set (for the verse) and Turning a New Leaf (for the vine). The bling, of course, makes me even happier with the layout, adding interest and shine to really dress the cards up!

I have one more post of Christmas cards, and then, I'm done making holiday cards. Several boxes of store-bought cards will meet my quota, and I'm totally okay with that. I'm looking forward to making some general cards for my sister's Christmas present.

On a personal note, we've decided to take  your advice (I think Susie mentioned it first, but can't find the comment now!) and snap our Christmas picture at the new house this weekend (it's supposed to be sunny) and let our Christmas letter double as a change-of-address notification. We'll don our Santa hats and take Daisy, too. Will share when it's done!

A Great Give-Away at The Simple Things

The Simple Things is a blog by Carly Robertson, whose clean and simple style stands out in the magazines as huge inspiration to me. She's offering a really cool--and really big--give-away. The deadline is Saturday night, so click on over and enter if you wish!!! I did!!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Inpsired by Paula Whittaker: Evolution of a Layout

After my previous failed attempt at CASification, I decided to try again, and this time, the results aren't hideous, although the original card is clean and simple enough that there's not much to CASify. Here's the fab inspiration card made by Paula Whittaker and published in the winter issue of Take Ten magazine:

The Stampington & Co. stamps are not exactly my style, but the layout absolutely intrigued me. I decided to see what sort of look I could get with Hero Arts stamps and white card stock. Not bad.

5" x 5"

The white card's photo actually looks better than the real-life weird is that? Since my first attempt actually looks a little washed out and colorless, I wondered if putting the same pieces on colored card stock would look better. It does.

5" x 5"

Today's cards demonstrate a truth of card design that took me far too many years to figure out. If at first you don't succeed, one of two things is happening:

1. You're headed down a fruitless path and would do well to abandon hope and start over again.

2. You need to do some problem-solving and have confidence that you will get there in the end.

In my early years of stamping, I thought quitting was evidence of failure. Now, I recognize that, at times, quitting is just common sense and a natural part of learning. It's far better to try something new and then realize it's not working for you than not to try anything new at all.

But knowing when to quit takes experience. Earlier in the week, when I made the card that no one will see, I finished it and realized that, indeed, I was headed down a fruitless path. The next night, I let Paula's card inspire me, and I got there in the end.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When Failure Wins, and My Latest PTI Order

After picking up the latest issue of Take Ten at my local Barnes and Noble (where they know me by name, by the way), I decided to take a break from my self-imposed 2-cards-per-set Christmas challenge and do a CASification (clean-and-simplification) of a published card.

I like getting out of my comfort zone every now and adds zest to life, you know. So I found a great card that used elements I never would use on my own and made my CAS version of it, which was hideous beyond belief.

Seriously, folks.


I don't know who made my card because it wasn't me and if I posted it here, at least a few of you would email me about how totally disappointed you were that I would post such an un-Lateblossom card.

And I would agree with you.

Since I had my Rubber Stampede cardinal stamp out already, I flexed back to my Christmas card challenge and made not two but three cards that are DEFINITELY BY LATEBLOSSOM.

And all was right in my world.

Cherry cobbler isn't exactly a cardinal red, but I took creative license. It definitely wasn't because the cherry cobbler pad was out on my desk and I was too lazy to open a drawer and pull out real red. No, I'm not lazy like that. *stares at ceiling, whistling*

Simple cards need something vaguely unexpected but oh-so-right to keep them from being boring, and using a non-cardinal red certainly qualifies. Above, I used the Martha Stewart lattice border punch to create a lace-like border. That punch hints at pretty garden fencing, or perhaps a gazebo, for the landscape of our cardinal on a pine branch.

Works for me.

Y'all know how I feel about distressing. I'm a firstborn pleaser who doesn't want to distress anyone or anything, but occasionally, accidents happen. This stamped panel got roughed up by a pair of dull scissors (okay, not by accident), but by pairing it with wrapped fuzzy twine, the distressing makes sense and enhances the unity of the simple design.

Finally, I went uber-simple, because it was getting late and I was tired. Not sure I like this one as much as the other two, though. The cardinal is looking at the sentiment, which is a nice design touch, but he and the sentiment are just hanging in space, which generally isn't such good design. It needs something...maybe bling. But it's flat, easy to mail, and festive, nevertheless.

And now for an awkward segue to another topic...

Get ready for it. My sister-in-law gave me a $100 gift certificate to Papertrey Ink for my birthday.

*squeals of rapture!!!*

Have I mentioned lately how wonderful my sister-in-law is? No? Well, she is. Spectacularly wonderful.

Here's what I ordered yesterday:

Background Basics Circles
Candy Cane Christmas
Sweet As Can Be
Peaceful Garden
Modern Basics 
Oh, yeah. I'm happy.
I'll be happier when the box arrives. What fun times we'll have with such goodness!

Holly Jolly Joy

Papertrey's little set Holly Jolly is such a fun one...just $15 and very versatile!

First up, a one-layer card that makes me so very happy with all that cream-colored white space.

For the above card, I used the holly jolly sentiment from the holly set, but it looked a bit too small and lonely with the great big holly and bling, so I pulled out Sign Language (also from Papertrey), masked the Merry on the Merry Christmas sentiment, and stamped just Christmas below the first sentiment. That balanced the reds on the card nicely. I could make more of this one and use up some of my massive stash of large red bling!

How is it that I always end up with lots of left-over large bling and never enough small bling? It's a mystery.

Next, I just love how SU's ticket corner punch works so well with a holly theme.

The berries on this card were accented with red Smooch, which looked much better than my attempt to use Stickles. The berries are just too small for Stickles, and the results looked...globby. The Smooch definitely looks better in this instance, and the shimmer it adds (not clear in the photo) is so pretty in real life!

I hope to be able to comment on all the OLW cards today. From the thumbnails, I can tell y'all had fun with this rather tough challenge!

Finally, how are you coming with your Christmas cards? I'm behind. Way behind. I need a whole day of uninterrupted crafting and some serious production of multiples if I'm to finish and get mine mailed before New Year's Day, LOL! I'm seriously contemplating buying a few boxes of cards and calling it good for this very strange year. What are your feelings on the subject of store-bought cards in a pinch?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Peaceful Poinsettias, Punched

Today's cards were made with Papertrey Ink's Peaceful Poinsettias, which is one of their most brilliant Christmas sets (at least in my opinion!). I'm loving the combo of SU's real red and cherry cobbler, so I stamped a bunch of the poinsettias on a piece of scrap PTI card stock, punched them out with circle punches, and then played around with them. Here are the results!

Random, bouncy poinsettias have lots of fun energry and movement...but keeping them touching and in a line prevents them from looking chaotic. To make this card, I placed all the circles first, rearranging until I felt they were fairly balanced and then gluing or popping on dimensionals one at a time.

And now for an AR-OC version, much more graphic and peaceful. The two shades of red kick the design up a notch without disturbing the static, graphic appeal.

I imagine many of you will have a clear favorite between these two, but I couldn't pick a favorite to save my life.

Okay, well, maybe to save my life, but stamping isn't really a life or death hobby.

Thank goodness for that.

On a personal note, if you're interested in the update on our new house and move, you can read about it on my other blog HERE.

We Have a Winner!

The winner of our pearls give-away is Valerie, who wrote:

Both are fabulous but the pearls win for me:)

Val x

Congratulations, Val, and thanks so much for reading Simplicity. Send me your snail-mail address, and I'll send you a package of pearls!

And now a brief word for ALL of you who read Simplicity. You have no idea what your kindness in comments and emails means to me. It always seems when I am feeling down or frustrated or overwhelmed or just in a random funk, someone leaves a comment or sends me an email that touches me, encourages me, keeps me going. Some of you even reach out in other wonderful ways, too, and share something of yourselves with me so that we can become friends. What an incredible blessing! Thank you. Thank you, all!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Swirly Snowflakes

The winner of this week's little give-away will be announced on Monday.

This Christmas card challenge has been fun, although I seriously need to pick up the pace. I've already received three cards (one from a fellow crafter...thanks, Sue C.!), and I vaguely recall having a contest that involved my sending some uber-simple cards to some of you readers. At the rate I'm going, you might get them in 2012. Or 2013. But I promise, you WILL get them.

Today's cards are from Snow Swirled and use the snowflakes from that set. I intended to make just two cards, but after I finished them, I craved something cleaner and simpler, and so I added the third. I like them all. Purple on Christmas cards isn't so radical (especially on snowflake cards) but it is different and interesting.

Besides, all these cards gave me an excuse to use my neglected purple bling, which is a good thing.

Random with a Ribbon Ground

Pure Random

Pure Simplicity

Personal Story: The middle card reminds me of a ski trip to Sun Valley. I am a terrible skier...I do mean terrible. (In fact, I resolved after my last ski trip to McCall, Idaho, on New Year's Day 1999, I would never ski again.) That day at Sun Valley, great puffy flakes were falling onto several feet of beautiful puffy powder. I was on a blue slope--where I had no business whatsoever being, seeing as green slopes kicked my butt--when I crashed spectacularly. Imagine a cartoon crash...limbs flailing, one ski flying yards away from me, a scream piercing the peace of the snowy afternoon. That was me.

After becoming completely airborn, I landed, conveniently enough, on my back in the puffy powder and sank into it so that foot-high walls of snow surrounded me. I lay there assessing the situation. Nothing hurt inordinantly, and I could still feel everything, including my right leg, ski still attached, twisted oddly but not painfully. I figured I hadn't broken my neck or back.

Once I assured myself that nothing terrible had happened, I lay there, watching the big, puffy flakes fall onto my goggles. It was so peaceful, and I was still warm from my exertions. I appreciated the beauty and tranquility of the situation for several minutes before it occurred to me that if I didn't move, someone might ski right over me because no way would they see me lying there with one ski God only knew where, the other flat on the ground, and my entire body under the surface of the snow. I sat up, found my ski, went to the lodge, ordered a hot chocolate, and thanked God I was still alive.

Lying there in the snow, with nothing in my sight but peaceful sky and gentle puffy flakes falling on my face....that's what the second card means to me.

On another note, as I've worked on this self-imposed Christmas Card Challenge, it occurred to me that it would be a great resource for future Christmases, so I'm going back and labeling all these posts with Christmas Card Challenge 2011. You'll be able to find them all quite easily in the future using the labels on the sidebar.

Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Swirly Sort of Tree

Today's cards use the SU set Snow Swirled, which not only has a pretty, swirly, flourish-y Christmas tree but some lovely snowflakes that I will use on tomorrow's cards. Yep, this set is so versatile, I will make four cards from it instead of two!

First up, a clean and simple one-layer card in my favorite winter color scheme.

Memento London Fog and Rhubarb, with silver satin ribbon and lots of dark red bling added for fun, make a pretty, pretty card!

Next, a card that transforms the tree into a swirly, flourishy border that doesn't look like a tree at all.

To make the border, I masked the edges with large post-its, then used a stamp positioner to get stamp the tree repeatedly to fill the space.

The gold accents come from a Prisma metallic marker and gold lame Smooch. This is also a one-layer card, though if you had some pretty designer paper, you could edge it with a metallic marker and use that for the same layout.

My first instinct was to put the sentiment in the sweet spot (one-third of the way up from the bottom of the card), but when I laid the uninked stamp (from a Hero Arts clear set) on the card, it looked weird in the sweet spot. When I moved it to center, it looked so much better. That's one advantage of clear can "test" them on your layout and move them around until you get a pleasing placement.

Please remember to make sure the stamp is totally clean before laying it on your card. Just sayin'.

Regarding Yesterday's PSX Tree Stamp...Kay asked if I added something to the third card to make it look like the tree was dusted with snow. No. That's just the way the stamp looks. Beautiful, no?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

PSX Evergreen Tree, Three Ways

To whomever asked about the chair in my craft room, I can't find any marks on it to help you, but I bought it at either Office Max or Office Depot years ago for not a lot of money. Most office supply stores stock office chairs, and you should be able to find something comparable very easily. My apologies for losing your email and taking so long to get back to you!

To everyone else, several of you commented that I must have a lot of Christmas stamps. You're darn tootin'. Today's featured stamp is a very old one from the long-out-of-business PSX. I love this large evergreen tree and had so much fun last night doing not two but THREE variations with it.

Actually, there was a fourth variation, but it was ugly.

To quote Pioneer Woman, I'm just keepin' it real.

Anyway, here are my three good cards with PSX's large evergree stamp.

This first one is LOTS prettier in real life but suffers from my meager photography skills. Vellum trimmed with a silver metallic marker overlays the tree, which is stamped on PTI white card stock with SU Garden Green and Chocolate Chip ink. The sentiment (from Papertrey's A Wreath for All Seasons set) is stamped on the vellum in Memento Rhubarb ink.

This soft and subtle card uses Memories Soft Leaf ink for the trees and Memories Hunter Green for the sentiment (which is from Papertrey's Signature Christmas). The vellum in the first two cards is attached with little pieces of ScorTape.

Finally, I stamped the tree off the edge of the card and drew a box using a Sharpie pen and cardboard template I made years ago for this purpose. If you make this design yourself, remember to wait to stamp the sentiment until you draw the box. That way, you can center the sentiment much more easily.

I had so much fun making these cards! It's good to be back in my craft room, even if I do have to keep it unnaturally clean between creative sessions and can't quite find everything I want.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One-Layer Wednesday 72: Variations on a Sentiment

This is today's second post. Please scroll down to see the first.

This week's OLW expands on my strategy for making lots of Christmas cards fast without mass producing. There are three requirements in addition to the use of a single layer of card stock:

1) use ONLY a sentiment stamp on your other stamps or embellishments allowed!

2) use a NON-STANDARD size for your card

3) make at least two cards using the same stamp that vary something (color, type of ink, technique, placement of the stamp, size of card)

NOTE: There are no limits to the theme for this challenge, so if you've finished your holiday cards, consider making thank-you cards (you know you're going to need them!) or whatever theme you find most useful.

I got a little carried away with this and love the results, especially because they make me cease regretting the purchase of this stamp from Hero Arts. It's beautiful, but too big for a standard size card. Giving it the extra space to breathe makes a huge difference.

All four of my cards are 4.25" x 7" and will fit into standard 5" x 7" envelopes.

StampinUp Cherry Cobbler

Brilliance Pearlescent Ivy

Ranger Gold Tinsel Embossing Powder

Fuzzy for a Reason: Red Doodlebug Flock and Essential Glue Pad
Some of you may find this challenge particularly difficult because a single sentiment looks so excruciatingly clean and simple. Look for really interesting sentiments in your stash, and then think how you could make it even more interesting with colors, placement, shape of card. If you must, consider embossing lines to frame your sentiment, masking and sponging, using resist techniques, etc. Just don't use any other stamps or embellishments.

If this kills you, remember you can always photograph the unembellished version for the challenge, then add whatever embellishment you feel necessary. ;-)
OLW72 Rules

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

2. Use only one sentiment on a non-standard card size (or shape), and create at least two variations of the card. NO OTHER STAMPS OR EMBELLISHMENTS ALLOWED!

3. Upload your creations somewhere online and link back to them using the InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity.

4. HAVE FUN!!!

StampinUp Tree Trimmings



And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

I spent almost two hours last night making three cards with StampinUp's Tree Trimmings, one of which is unfit for public consumption. The problem is, I've already made perfect-for-me cards with this pretty set in years past, and I wanted to do something completely different...which is never, ever a good idea when you're tired.

Yesterday's cards showed how color alone can create different looks. Today, I use a technique and punches on one card to get a distinctly different feel.

The first card uses emboss resist and Twinkling H20s...a golden jade color. I couldn't find my watercolor paper in my "staged" craft room, and used PTI white card stock instead.

Here's a close-up that gives an idea of the sparkly shimmer of the Twinkling H20s.

The second card is more "me," with no technique at all and a tiny little bit of bling and plenty of white space.

Two cards, two very different looks. If you're playing along with me on my challenge to make variations on sets to meet my quota of Christmas cards, keep in mind you can use those techniques whose supplies have been languishing in your stash. What a fun way to mix things up and keep them interesting!