Wednesday, March 30, 2011

OLW47 Wishful Thinking

Today's card was inspired by the fact that it snowed here today. Really? Snow?

Sadly, yes.

Instead, I'm left longing for butterflies. Summer.

This week's OLW, hosted by Jennifer, is a sketch challenge, and what a challenge it is to keep it to one layer. I chose to go with a very old block stamp from Hero Arts (one of the first rubber stamps I ever bought!) and a butterfly from an alphabet set, also Hero Arts, that happens to coordinate. LOVE this shade of blue (Bahama from Memento). I jazzed the card up with little dots of Sakura Stardust pen in the middle of each butterfly, though I don't think it shows up well in the photo. It adds just the right amount of interest in real life!

This card isn't perfectly square because even with a stamp positioner I stamped it too far to the right and had to cut an eighth inch off the left side.

You wouldn't have known if I hadn't told you. But I did. Nobody's perfect.

So click on over to Jennifer's blog to play along with the OLW!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Memento Bahama
paper: white
accessories: Sakura Stardust pen in clear

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CC316 The Ocean Calls...

If you haven't seen the Winner posts, please click here and here to see if you won!

The color challenge at SCS this week is AWESOME! Marina mist, baja breeze, and certainly celery. Oh happy day!

Here's my card, which takes us under the sea with a sea turtle. I love sea turtles. And pearls. I love pearls.

Oh how I want to go to the beach. Living in a land-locked state stinks.

And yes, I used wavy decorative scissors to make my wavy edge. There's no school like the old school.

Happy Wednesday!

stamps: Mark's Finest Papers Tropical Vacation (sentiment), Flourished Sea Creatures
ink: marina mist, certainly celery, baja breeze
paper: marina mist, white
accessories: deco scissors, dimensionals, pearls

New Day 1 Winner

Since one of the selected winners for Day 1 never contacted me with her snail mail address, I drew another winner using Random Number Generator, and the lucky person is...

Janet a.k.a. swanlady21, who said...
I got to have my lovely sharp Victorinox knife!

Congratulations, Janet! Please send me your snail mail address at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com.

The Rest of the Little Things Winners!

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you who posted comments for the Little Things Blog Anniversary celebration! I enjoyed reading all the little things that make you happy in so many areas of life. I also want to thank the Sue in South Carolina (you know who you are!) who sent me a microfiber cloth of my very own. Big hugs, prayer buddy!

If you're lucky enough to be listed below, please send me your snail mail address at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com.

Day 4's winner of the glitter and glue pen is...

Charlotte, who said...
I will be copying the fine glitter trick -- sometimes my cards need a bit 'o bling. I use a lambswool duster to clean the cobwebs and dust from upper ledges and shelves and angles on high ceilings. Love that little thing. You can also immobilize a spider in it and transport it safely outside.

Day 5's winners of the Smooch are...

Christine - Cndn Stamper, who said...
Great cards. I haven't tried Smooch yet, I have so much that I didn't want to like anything new in case I need it multiple colours. Your ink enabling was bad enough! I used to happy with just my SU inks - no longer... Another story. My favourite piece of jewellery is a pair of small garnet earrings that my DH gave me even before we started dating. I should have known then. Anyways, they are on small hooks, like the old fashioned dinner sets with pewter wire coiled around them to look like flowers. They always make me feel loved.

Brenda R, who said...
I am always loosing earrings from the cheap to expensive ones, so I tend toward inexpensive ones that my niece makes from beads. I wear the "fish hook stoppers" and that doesn't guarantee I won't loose one. My favorite jewelry is a three diamond ring with white gold made by a CA designer in a very unique design that does not have the standard "prongs" to hold the diamonds. Sorry I don't have the exact words to describe it, but it is beautiful to me.

Day 6's winners of the metallic Prisma markers are

Susie, who said...
Casting Crowns - Jesus, Hold Me Now. I must look at your tutorial to see how you get the lines straight.

Cassie_lu said...
beautiful card and my tops has got to be any song by Toby Mac. Really not picky about which one of his as long as it's him singing :)

Finally, Day 7's winners of the scissors and dimensionals (which will not ship until I receive the dimensionals on my SU order) are...

stampjourney, who said...
Lovely card! I love using dimensionals--they just add that little perfect touch! Someone framed our wedding invitation with beautiful pressed flowers. It's on a shelf and I smile every time I look at it.

Nancy L., who said...
lots of pictures of my family :)

Congratulations, everyone!

Monday, March 28, 2011

What's with the Top Fold?

Someone asked why I make portrait-oriented cards with folds on the top rather than the side. Honestly, I hadn't really thought about it. No good reason, I guess, except that I find it easier to photograph them that way and they seem to stand up better for display.

Here's a portrait-oriented card with a top fold. See how nicely it stands for its picture?

Now, here's a landscape-oriented picture with a top fold. It also stands nicely.

As far as I know, there are no rules about folds. I certainly don't judge folds. In fact, you can fold any way you want and as long as you're not hurting anyone, it's okay in my book.

Orientation, on the other hand, does have certain design rules, but those pertain to balance and harmonious composition for each individual card. Neither orientation is right or wrong in and of itself; orientation is a case-by-case issue, as these two cards show.

And by the way, I don't judge orientation, either.

stamps: Shady Tree Studio Eastertide (a gift from STS's owner Nancy)
ink: Palette noir
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: colored pencils, dimensionals, scallop scissors

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Can You Bling a Dude Card?

I think so.

Happy Monday!

stamps: Hero Arts (fern), Papertrey Birthday Basics
ink: Memento Bamboo
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: ribbon, rhinestones

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Yellow and I

I have decided that I own entirely too much yellow cardstock. This makes me sad, and I'll tell you why.

It's all sitting there, in my Cropper Hopper vertical paper storage, doing nothing. Nothing. I bought full packs of barely banana, so saffron, summer sun, yo-yo yellow, and marigold morning. In 2006. I've actually used some of the summer sun and marigold morning on fall cards, but the my son would say, "they aren't my favorite." In fact, I pretty much despise barely banana and so saffron, which look almost indistinguishable to me and so very blah.

I'm going to attempt to use up some of these colors so I don't have to look at them anymore, and here's my start.

Do you have a color in overstock that you thought you liked but in retrospect wish you hadn't bought?

stamps: Hero Arts (flower), Papertrey (sentiment)
ink: SU summer sun
paper: white, barely banana, some shade of orange
accessories: orange rhinestones, dimensionals

Friday, March 25, 2011

Little Things: Day 7

What a week! Thanks so much to everyone who has played along and answered the questions. It's been so much fun reading all the comments! Over the next few days, winners of the second half of the week will be announced, so keep your eyes might be a winner!

Today has two LITTLE THINGS: scallop scissors and dimensionals. I know, I know. Scallop scissors are so old school, so boring, so out of style. But when you use them to round the corners of a raised panel and/or the card base, you get a very subtle yet oh-so-nice rounded edge that can make a huge difference on CAS cards.

By using little snips of SU dimensionals (the best I've ever used) to pop individual flowers and by using the scissors to snip the corners, this very CAS card is so much more finished-looking!

And yes, I did use Smooch in the centers of the flowers for a little flat bling. The branch and flowers are from PTI's Out on a Limb set, and the sentiment is from a limited edition Thank You set from Clear and Simple Stamps.

Today's give-away will go to two lucky winners. Each will get a pair of Fiskars scallop scissors and a package of SU dimensionals. Please note that I have ordered the dimensionals and will not mail these prizes out until my order comes in. To enter this drawing, please leave a comment on this blog post. Email entries will not be included in the drawing.

Scallop Scissors and Dimensionals Give-Away Question
Share a fun LITTLE THING that resides on a shelf in your home. It can be anything...a book, knick-knack, photo, game, CD, candle, food, towel, trophy, iPod dock, whatever. As I'm typing this, I noticed the Inukshuk that George and I brought home from our 20th anniversary trip to British Columbia. It's such a cute statue...even has a belly button!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Little Things: Day 6

Today's LITTLE THING is the metallic marker! That simple yet perfect device for putting down a line of opaque metallic finish that lifts an ordinary card into the realm of extraordinary beauty and elegance!

To make this card, I used the cross and sentiment from Everyday Blessings by Papertrey Ink in Memento Grape Jelly. The cross is accented with metallic half-beads, as is the sentiment. The cross panel is edged with a silver Prisma marker.

For those of you who are intimidated by this technique, I encourage you to check out the tutorial I posted a while back. It really is quite easy!

There will be two winners for today's give-away, and each will receive one PrismaColor Premier metallic marker (one silver, the other gold). Remember to enter, you must leave a comment answering today's question on this blog responses to the question will not be counted in the drawing.

Metallic Marker Give-Away Question
What LITTLE THING is tops in your playlist of favorite songs to make you happy? For me, it's the commercial-jingle-turned-pop-hit, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." Apple trees and honey bees and snow-white turtle doves. Indeed.

Day 2 and Day 3 Winners...and Some Questions Answered

The lucky winners of Stardust clear pens for Day 2 are

jennvonklein, who wrote: "I know it's Spring, when all I need is a light coat: no scarf, no hat, and no gloves! :)"

and cathystamps, who wrote: "I love the Gelly Roll pen too - I use it for discrete shimmer, especially when I don't have time to wait for my Stickles to dry. I know spring is just around the corner when I leave work at 6:00 and it's still light out!! JOY!"

The lucky winners of bling and pearls for Day 3 are

diana, who wrote: "Thanks for this advice "Use it. Freely and without regret." I need to start using my stash of supplies rather than unintentionally hoarding them. There will always be more pretty papers & supplies to replace anything I use up. My 'little thing' today is my favorite perfume. A little spritz gives me a lift every morning! That and a great cup of coffee! ;-)"

Catherine Bowers, who wrote: "Hands down, it's eyeliner! Gotta love how simple it is, but it gives a big boost. Thanks for all your thoughts and lessons on design, I've learned a lot."

and Ann, who wrote: "Your cards are always beautiful!!! I can get along without my electric toothbrush."

To all the lucky winners, please send me your snail mail address at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com.

swanlady21 asked if Smooch is like Liquid Pearls. Not really. It dries flat...not as thick as Liquid Pearls. Smooch is mainly an opaque ink with lots and lots of shimmer in it.

Sue asked about Smooch Spritz. I've not used it but I have used Tattered Angels spritzy stuff and got very frustrated with it. Other people seem to have great success with it, but I am not one of them. The plain Smooch, however, is very easy to use.

I'm loving reading all your responses to the questions! Some of them have been really touching and sweet, some hysterically funny. I realized I forgot to answer the questions about beauty products (Covergirl Outlast lipcolor) and cleaning (rubber gloves...although I think I seriously must get a microfiber cloth!). 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Little Things: Day 5

I'm so excited about today's LITTLE THING because it's relatively new to me: Smooch. And yes, as someone observed in Wednesday's comments, all the LITTLE THINGS so far have involved bling and/or shimmer. Tomorrow will be more of the same. Saturday will not involve bling or shimmer. I promise!

I heart Smooch.

First of all, it's a great flat substitute for bling. Smooch's applicator allows you to put little dots of opaque, iridescent ink wherever you want. Like this:

Okay, tiny dots on a tree need a close-up for better effect.

This card would be BORING without those shimmery turquoise dots. I stamped the tree (Hero Arts) and sentiment (Shady Tree Studio) in Memento gray on white Papertrey cardstock. Then, I dotted the Smooch on. Complete transformation!

Second, Smooch can be painted like a rather dense, almost opaque watercolor. Check it out.

To make this card, I clear-embossed the flower stem (SU's Kind Words, I think) on white cardstock. Then, I used a little water to paint the red Smooch over it. If you water it down more, you get a softer, more transluscent look that totally mimics Twinkling H2Os, but I really wanted this to be thicker and streaky...adding more interest to such a simple card. You'll have to take my word that the shimmer of this is STUNNING!

The give-away today is two bottles of Smooch (gold and silver) going to one lucky winner who comments here on this blog post answering today's question. Remember: Email comments will not count for the drawing.

Smooch Give-Away Question
What LITTLE THING in your jewelry box makes you feel like royalty? I don't typically wear jewelry (other than my wedding and engagement rings which are of course special), but I recently bought a delicate and understated cross necklace that makes me feel happy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Little Things: Day 4, and One-Layer Wednesday 46

Today, we're combining the One-Layer Wednesday and LITTLE THINGS week. First of all, let's do the LITTLE THINGS: glue pen and glitter!

Yes, I know we did Stickles, so tidy and straightforward, on Sunday, but today, I want to talk about glue pens. LOVE THEM! They are so easy to use to put just a little glue wherever you want it...and adding fine glitter is just perfectly lovely.


The sugar-coated sparkle is delightful! (Click on the photo to see it bigger.) I colored the image with PrismaColor pencils first, then added the glue to the eggs and drew glue lines on the daffodil. A light sprinkle of fine white glitter gives this instant sparkle that works beautifully with the shimmer of the sheer yellow ribbon.

Oh happy sigh!

This image comes from Shady Tree Studio's set Eastertide, which Nancy (the owner of Shady Tree Studio) sent me as a gift. This is just the first of many cards I'll make with this lovely set!

The give-away for today will be one jar of Hero Arts fine glitter and a Quickie Glue Pen. Only one winner today. So make sure you leave your comment answering today's question on the blog replies will not count for the drawing!

Glitter and Glue Pen Give-Away Question
What LITTLE THING could you not clean your house without?


The One-Layer Wednesday challenge is to use an egg or eggs on your one-layer card. How easy is this! If you're not the Easter basket type, use eggs in a nest...or an egg in a cup, an egg and a chicken, an egg-head cartoon, a good egg, whatever.

Rules for OLW46

1. A one-layer card is a single piece of cardstock folded in other layers.

2. Use an egg or eggs on the card. Be as creative with the theme as you wish. It's not limited to Easter cards.

3. Keep embellishments to a minimum.

4. Post your card on the Internet and link to it using the InLinkz button in the sidebar of Simplicity.

5. Most important rule of all: HAVE FUN!!!

Little Things Day 1 Winners

Our lucky winners of Stickles (three bottles each!) are

Regena Baine, who wrote: "I visit your site every night when I get home from work for inspiration or, sometimes, just a good giggle. My husband; he is my favorite thing in my kitchen. Whether we're cooking Kraft dinner or an elaborate meal for our friends, he's the bomb. He pours me my wine, he chops the veggies, he flips the meat and he loves making creme brule. He also oohs and aahs over every card I make and actually makes specific comments about the things he REALLY likes about it. I know; weird as a three dollar bill isnt' it? But I love him anyway. :-) Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement to mull over ideas."

Chris Simon, who wrote: "One of my favorite little kitchen things is the bamboo tongs from Pampered Chef. They allow me to grab things out of the toaster without burning my fingers or risking electrocution. Congrats on the blogavesary!"

Ladies, please contact me via email at susanraihala at woh dot rr dot com with your snail mail address!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Little Things: Day 3

First of all, WOW! I can't believe how many people are participating in the comments. I'm doing my best to read them all, but it's taking a while!

Second, I will announce the winners of the Day 1 giveway later on Tuesday.

Third, today's LITTLE THING is rhinestones and pearls! These are my go-to LITTLE THINGS for taking a ho-hum card and making it something extra special. It's just so incredibly easy! To place the self-adhesive bling, I use a craft knife to cut them off their adhesive strip (if needed), lift them off the backing sheet, and place them wherever I want them.

Bling comes in varying quality. Look for clear gemstones that aren't unstuck from their backing before you buy and pearls that are fairly evenly colored (some natural variation is fine). And like real wealth, DON'T HOARD IT. Use it. Freely and without regret. You'll always be able to find more.

My first card uses self-adhesive rhinestones I got for free from the now-closed StampinTreasures. I think they are from Memory Box. And for those of you who hate green galore and gable green, here's a card to show you how cheerful and pretty they can be! Now, aren't you sad StampinUp discontinued them?

The second card uses pink half-pearls. If you're a regular reader, you will recognize my use of the First Theory of Using Colored Cardstock on CAS Cards: light base, darker mat, monochromatic color scheme. It's going to take a long time for me to get sick of this. It just works so beautifully!

Three lucky readers will win three packs each of rhinestones and/or pearls! REMEMBER TO COMMENT ON THE BLOG, not via email. Email entries will not be considered for the drawing.

Rhinestones and Pearls Give-Away Question
What LITTLE THING from the cosmetic or beauty/grooming aisle makes you happy when you're getting pretty/handsome to face the day? Think of an item of make-up, favorite shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, hair brush, perfume, or similar LITTLE THING.

stamps: tree and branch (Hero Arts), sentiments (Papertrey)
paper: StampinUp gable green, green galore, pretty in pink, regal rose; PTI white
ink: Memento
accessories: rhinestones, pearls, dimensionals

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Little Things: Day 2

Important Note: Lots of people answered yesterday's questions via email rather than commenting directly on the blog. Email responses will NOT be entered in the drawing. If you read Simplicity in your email, you must click on the title of the post in the email and leave a comment on the blog to be entered to win. Feel free to leave an anonymous comment...just make sure you leave your name or screen name in the body of the comment.

Using Stickles Without Your Ink Bleeding: Several of you commented that you have trouble with Stickles making ink bleed. I think this happens when you use an ink that is water SU's classic ink. If the ink is water soluble, adding liquid glue over it will probably make it bleed. Using a water resistant or waterproof ink prevents this. I have used my Stickles over Memento, VersaColor, VersaMagic, Palette, Ancient Page, and Memories inks without the inks bleeding. Copics, Bics, Sharpies, and Memento Markers are all bleed-proof, so you can use Stickles over them without a problem. Hope that helps!

Today's LITTLE THING is the Sakura Stardust Clear gelly-roll pen. Oh, my golly gracious! What a handy little pen! An employee at Archiver's first introduced me to to them years ago, and I've not been without a couple in my stash ever since because you can do really cool--and FLAT--things with these pens with almost no effort at all.

For example, you can make fish scales shimmer:

This cute fishy is from Oceans of Joy, a clear set from Hero Arts. I colored it with Memento Markers (quick review of the markers: colors are darker than the matching pads and don't cover as well as Bic/Sharpie markers, but I still like them because the light colors are lighter than the Bic/Sharpies and they don't bleed through PTI white cardstock).

To color the fish, I used two shades of pink and London Fog gray; then I accented random bits of the fish with the clear Stardust pen. The shimmer below is exaggerated by the photo, but you get some idea of the shimmer a simple swipe with a pen can give. It takes a few minutes to dry, so be careful not to smear it!

I liked this so much I made a blue one, too!

Just adding this shimmer to an image can help turn an ordinary simple card into an extraordinary simple card. I find myself reaching for these most often on Christmas cards but really should use them more to accent flourishes (I could make curls of steam shimmer as they leave a coffee mug!), flowers, and all sorts of other images.

Today, there will be two winners picked at random. Each will receive a two-pack of the Sakura Stardust Clear pens. Just answer the following questions in the Comments section of this post. Entries will be closed 48 hours after this post. Please leave only one comment!

Stardust Pen Give-Away Question
What one LITTLE THING makes you realize that spring is finally going to arrive? For me, it's walking out my door early in the morning and hearing the robins singing in chorus.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Little Things, Day 1

Welcome to the Second Anniversary of Simplicity! Thank you all, each and every one, for making Simplicity the happy place it is. Your encouragement and support mean the world to me, and to thank you, I have a whole week of festivities planned, including...

wait for it...




That's right. SEVEN days of GIVE-AWAYS!!!!

This week's festivities were prompted by a reader who asked me to discuss design tips for taking an ordinary clean-and-simple card and making it look fabulous. The key to achieving that transformation is a LITTLE THING: the one small touch that pushes a design over that line without cluttering it up so it isn't clean and simple anymore.

So this week, we're celebrating my favorite LITTLE THINGS that make such a BIG difference.

Some are items I've used for years, and at least one is a newer product that's quickly becoming a favorite. Each day, I'll post cards that spotlight one of these LITTLE THINGS and give some away!


Each give-away will be open for 48 hours and then I'll draw a random commenter who answered the question for that post. Ya gotta answer the question for your entry to count! Please leave only one comment per post! Some days will have more than one winner...some of the items are fairly small, and it is more fun to give away multiples of those! If you win, you have 48 hours to send me your snail-mail address. If I don't receive it in that time, I'll select another commenter to receive the prize.

Let's get started, shall we!

Today's LITTLE THING is Stickles! Oh how I love this form of adding glitter to a card because it's just so easy. No mess, no trying to dump glitter back into a little container.

Today's card is an effort to continue working on Christmas cards all year long. It uses Papertrey's Framed set combined with Stocking Prints. The Deck the Halls sentiment fits perfectly in the frame opening, doesn't it? I used Memento inks and Baby Blue Stickles to accent the top of the stocking. The card is 4.25" square.

BTW, in the future, I'm going to do a quickie tutorial with photos on how to use the Framed set. The idea behind this set (and a similar one at Waltzingmouse) is really very cool, but I found it difficult in the extreme to get a good impression (this card took three tries) and finally figured out some tricks that do make this set easier to use.

Today's give-away will have two winners...each will win three bottles of Stickles!

STICKLES Give-Away Question
This week's questions all focus on (surprise!) LITTLE THINGS. For today, what is one LITTLE THING that makes a big difference in your kitchen? For me, it's a Pampered Chef apple slicer/corer. Golly, we use that handy thing all the time!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another Pinterest Card

Here's yet another of the cards I made inspired by Marta's Pinterest boards. I loved this kid's room, especially the colors, chairs, and carpet.

The striped table cloth was made with Papertrey's Faux Ribbon set, and the lamp is from Hero Arts. The sentiment comes from Papertrey's Paper Tray set. The colors are Memento inks.

And of course I blinged. Or blung. Did we decide which was correct? I'm all insecure since my matte/mat blunder.

Simplicity Tip: To align the lamps, which are wood-mounted rubber, I put a 6" quilt ruler across the top of the card and centered it so the number 3 was in the exact middle. Then I made a little mark where I wanted the central lamp base to go. Using a stamp postitioner, I stamped the central lamp. Then, it was easy enough to use the positioner to align the right and left lamps by eyeball. Of coures, I erased the pencil mark when I was done. Memento ink dries quickly...but don't rush the erasing. You'll get mad and say bad words when you ruin a finished card.

I Stand Corrected

For some reason, I thought matte and mat were interchangeable when referring to mats on cards. Fortunately, astute reader Mari questioned this, and my giant Random House dictionary proves me wrong. In the future, I shall refer to mats by their proper spelling, and use matte only when I mean a dull surface.

Thanks, Mari!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Geeking out with Colored Cardstock

Seeing the yummy, yummy colors of cardstock in the A Muse catalog made me feel really bad. I have a ton of cardstock already...more cardstock than a woman could use up in a decade of obsession.

Also, let me point out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the cardstock I've collected. I only have top-quality cardstock. Period. I learned years ago that cheap cardstock makes cheap-looking cards. I'm just falling victim to the powerful force of wanting something cool that I don't have. Don't judge me. You're guilty of it, too.

Anyway, I decided that if I really want to buy and use some of those fab new-to-me cardstocks in this lifetime, I need to start using the colored cardstock that I have. And of course, given my mental tendencies, I have to overthink it and try to come up with a system, a formula, a foreign policy of sorts for embracing a supply that, let's face it, I've neglected for years.

The result of this overthinking is Susan's First Theory of Using Colored Cardstock on CAS Cards.

I told you I was geeking out in the title of this post.

So, what's the CASest thing you can do with color? Monochromatic schemes, of course. So the First Theory states that the card base should be a light shade, the matte should be a darker shade of the same color, and the stamped panel should be white. The stamping should be simple, with a sentiment stamped in either dark brown or black, depending on what looks best with the color you choose.

Sort of like this.

 Bling optional.

Not really. Bling is necessary.

I made four of these in record time. Well, I made two with this sentiment and two with a Thank you sentiment because I just had to vary them somehow.

You'll be seeing more examples of the First Theory in the coming weeks. Because seriously, I'm geeking. I expect I'll also have to come up with a Second Theory eventually...because otherwise what's the point of having a first theory?

Happy Wednesday!

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: Memento
paper: Mark's Finest, Papertrey
accessories: dimensionals, rhinestone

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Papercrafts Color Inspiration Magazine and the A Muse Catalog--Edited

I picked up a copy of the Papercrafts Color Inspiration for Card Makers. It's fun, but all the combos (except the monochromatic section) include at least three but mostly four colors.

Can you see me breaking out in hives?

Here's the first card I made using one the color combinations from Color Inspiration.

Bravo burgundy, celery, and a pale purple. REALLY?!?! How does this work? How???

But it does.

It also helped me check this set off my Resolution list. I've now used every image in it. It's StampinUp's Kind Thoughts. I now only have three sets of StampinUp stamps with images I haven't used yet. Yippeeeee!!!

I paired Kind Thoughts' butterfly and medallion with a sentiment from Anna Griffin. The bling matches the bravo burgundy in real life, but it looks black on my screen. Hope your screen does better!

And now I'm shifting gears and sharing a few initial thoughts about the A Muse catalog....

1. I got my copy from the very kind and talented Krystie Lee. Thanks, Krystie Lee!

2. I adore well-thought-out, coordinated product lines. A Muse has it nailed. The colors are yummy, the stamps fun, and the accessories appealling. It's not at all overwhelming (a complaint I have with Papertrey's recent explosion of product) but the line seems nicely balanced and easy to grasp by my easily-overwhelmed mind.

3. I read somewhere on SCS that people thought it looked like SU's catalog. While there are certain layout similarities for the stamp sets and charts, the catalog is still distinctively A Muse. It's brighter and lighter looking than SU's catalog. The samples are fabulous, and my only complain is that there aren't more of them.

4. The prices for the stamp sets seem very reasonable to me. There are lots of sets under $10, and the highest-price set is $25.99. The sets are very useable...sentiments and images matched nicely. There is also a nice mix of outline and block images. I will definitely be purchasing some after I live with the catalog for a while.

5. I'm stiff-arming the papers and accessories for now (only because I have a yard-high stack of cardstock already collecting dust and jars full of ribbon and drawers full of embellishments...otherwise, I'd buy one or two of everything), but they are gorgeous. The ink, however, may be calling to me, at least in a few colors. Joan B did a review of the inks and pronounced them fabulous. I don't have enough ink. I'm convinced a stamper simply can't have too much ink. Too much paper, yes. But never too much ink.

6. There is one set that I highly recommend to any and all CAS stampers: Ovalicious. Four nice flat ovals that make perfect grounds for images. If you don't already have the A Muse ovals, BUY THAT SET. You will not regret it, and it's the best 7.99 you can spend. Seriously.

7. I'm tired and sick and have to go to bed. Nyquil is calling my name. But I'm going to dream about A Muse tonight. Such happy dreams....

Edited to Add: For those who haven't heard, A Muse has switched to a home-demo-based sales model, like StampinUp. To purchase the catalog, you need to contact a demo...both Krystie Lee and Joan B (links above) have signed up as demos, so you can contact them.

A Muse is also switching to cling-style clear-mounted rubber stamps (they used to sell wood mounted and clear stamps). I meant to mention that in the review, but got tired and forgot. Sorry about that! 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happy Inspiration

This card was inspired by Marta's Pinterest board picture here. The yellow and white made me so happy!

I used a large background from Hero Arts, masking the bottom of the card. The sentiment is also from Hero's Sending Smiles clear set. Then I blinged it up just for fun.

My husband liked this card, but he thought it had bugs on it. Happy bugs. I don't see bugs, but at least he liked it.


On a more serious note, I want to offer my prayers up for all affected by the earthquake off Japan. Between that and all the flooding and earthquake that affected New Zealand and Australia, it's been a bad time for that whole half of the world.  If any of you have specific prayer requests, please leave them in the comments.

stamps: Hero Arts
ink: summer sun (SU)
paper: PTI white
accessories: stitched ribbon, rhinestones, scor-tape

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Bunch of Words about Subscribing and Following Blogs, and Commenting

If you're an old hand at reading and commenting on blogs, please feel free to ignore this post. If, however, you are new to blogs or still struggling to understand the ins and outs of blog reading, you might find some helpful information here. This post is a response to several questions I've had from readers recently.

Subscribing to and Following Blogs

Here's what I know on the subject.

1. Email subscriptions: If a blog has a button on the sidebar for email subscription, you can sign up to receive the blog in your email inbox. Every time the blogger adds a post to the blog, you'll receive an email of it, though there is often a lag time before the email is generated. Emails of Simplicity, for instance, go out sometime around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time, regardless of what time I post them.

To sign up, type your email address in the box provided and follow instructions. You will be sent a verification email. This is to keep someone else from signing you up for blogs when you don't want them to. Unfortunately, spam filters on email programs sometimes filter these verification emails to a junk email folder, so make sure you verify your subscriptions!

Email subscribing is extremely convenient if you read a few blogs, but if you subscribe to LOTS of blogs, a blog reader site is much more convenient.

2. Blog Reader Accounts: Google Reader, a free blog reader, is my preferred method for subscribing to blogs. Because I read so many, it saves tons of time for me to see a list of all my subscriptions at a glance. Blogs with new content show in bold type, so I only have to click on those to read the content. If I want to comment, all I have to do is click on the post title and a new window opens with the blog post in it. To start a Google Reader account, click here and follow the prompts.

There are other readers out there in cyberspace, but I've never used them. If you have a favorite other than Google Reader, please share it in the comments!

3. Following in Google: Sadly, I can't answer questions about this one because I don't do it, though I did make it available to readers since so many people prefer it. Perhaps someone can comment about how this works? Pretty please?

Yoona asked if she would get the blog in email now that she's a follower, but I don't think so. Can anyone answer that for her?

4. Bookmarking: You can always simply bookmark blogs to your Favorites in Explorer or whatever web browser you use. This gets cumbersome and time-consuming if you read a lot of blogs, though, because you have no idea if the blog has new content when you click. Of course, I post almost every day (sometimes twice a day!) but most bloggers don't.


All bloggers love getting comments (well, nice comments, not troll comments!). Sometimes, readers get a little confused about commenting or are afraid to try. Here are some tips on commenting.

1. If you are on the actual website of a blog (not reading the feed in an email or reader), click on the comment button and follow the prompts to leave a comment. Don't be afraid to click the comment button multiple times if your comment doesn't "take" right away. There's some glitch in Blogger that causes this annoying thing to happen, but just keep clicking. A blogger would rather get a double-posted comment (we can easily fix that) than no comment at all.

A Note about Leaving an Email Address: PLEASE leave an email address when you comment, especially if you ask a question. Your email address will not show publicly but it will show on the comment email I receive. I prefer answering questions directly. It's faster for me if I have an email to reply to, and you don't have to hunt for my answer in the comments or hope I answer in the next blog post (I often forget about answering by the time I do the next post!).

If you comment under a Google account profile, I should get your email address automatically when your comment lands in my in-box. If you comment as Anonymous or leave off your email, there's no reply address on the comment email I receive, so I can't answer you directly. 

2. Subscribing via email allows you to comment in two ways. First, you can simply reply to the blog email. This is a private communication (well, as private as email allows!). This is nice because the blogger then has your email address and can reply to your questions directly. Second, you can click on the email's link to the blog post and comment publicly on the blog. For drawings and give-aways, you usually must comment directly on the blog to have your entry count.

This will be important the week of March 20th on Simplicity. *wink*

Email Comments versus Blog Comments

Email comments are nice for asking a blogger questions, simply because it's so easy for us to reply directly to you. When I get several of the same questions, I'll consider doing a public answer, but usually, email is the best way to handle questions.

Email is also a great way to share stuff with a blogger that isn't really appropriate for a public comment. (For instance, just yesterday, I got an emailed prayer request from a reader, and feel quite honored to have her think to ask me...but it doesn't relate to stamping at all.)

The strength of email commenting is also its weakness. It is private, which means other readers aren't benefitting from any insights you share.

Blog Comments are part of what we English majors call public discourse. Bloggers adore sparking public discourse. The idea that lots of people can share their ideas and insights in comments and help others is part of what drew me to blogging in the first place. There are several posts on Simplicity in which the comments are FAR more helpful than my blathering, and those are my favorite posts!

I hope this helps clarify some of your questions about subscribing and commenting. I also hope it increases your comfort with leaving comments and asking questions. Don't be shy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Alphabet Art--Edited

Note: This is my second post today!

Those of you who read my other blog know I am a word nerd. Since words are made up of letters, I am also rather fond of the alphabet. The last card I remember making that featured the alphabet was this one. I like today's 5" x 7" card even better.

The idea for this card came from a picture of a wall with a random alphabet collage on it. I thought the picture was on Marta's Pinterest boards, but now I can't find it. Whatever. I wouldn't have made this card without seeing that picture, wherever in cyberspace it is.
I'm just not that clever. So thanks to some clever decorator, I made this card.

Edited to add: Thanks to reader Malyn, I can now give the link to the inspiration photo. Thanks, Malyn!

First, I pulled out a bunch of aphabet stamp sets. Sadly, this represents less than a third of my total alphabet sets. I know, I know. I have a problem. I. Don't. Care. Because if I didn't have such an awesome selection, I couldn't have made this card. So there.

Second, I said a prayer and started stamping. I wanted to put a word in my alphabet collage, and art seemed appropriate. Color is the only defining element for the word: art is in Bahama blue (Memento), and the rest of the letters are black, dark brown, and tan, which I tried to arrange as randomly as possible while still holding true to alphabet order.

Finally, I added punctuation because there was a little awkwardness in my random placement. The punctuation filled in the holes, so to speak, and made the whole composition more balanced.

I love punctuation.

Yes, I was an English teacher. Why do you ask?


In other news, I just noticed that Simplicity has 499 followers. About a month ago, it passed 1,000 email subscribers. March 20th is my two-year blog anniversary.

Put these random facts together, and clearly we need to celebrate. Oh, yeah.

Just wait.

stamps: a bunch, mostly StampinUp and Hero Arts, with a few Papertrey thrown in for fun
ink: Memento Bahama blue, black, rich cocoa; SU close to cocoa
paper: PTI white
accessories: none

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

One-Layer Wednesday 44: Marta's Pinterest Inspires

First of all, this would normally be Jennifer's week for the challenge, but she's cooking up something special for next week and wanted to swap. So here I am, posting the OLW44 Challenge, which gives me even numbers now. What a relief. Those odd numbered weeks were really freaking me out.

Last week, I stumbled upon the website Pinterest via a blogger named Marta, whose blog Marta Writes is both smart and inspiring and resides in my Google Reader so I don't miss a post. She also has a number of inspiration boards posted at Pinterest, a website for "pinning" photos of really cool stuff on your very own virtual inspiration board.

Marta's boards will provide our inspiration challenge this week!

When you go to her boards, you'll find lots of photographic goodness to inspire your own One-Layer Wednesday Cards. If you start to feel overwhelmed by the goodness of it all, just focus on one board or photo. You really can't go wrong even picking at random! You'll find patterns, textures, color combinations, shapes...all sorts of cool ideas you can play with on a piece of folded cardstock.

I've already made about five cards using Marta's boards as jumping off points, but I'll just share this one today. It uses the color combo and headline layout on this picture, set in a lot of glorious white space. And please notice the slightly rounded corners.

Scallop scissors, I love you.

I also love my honey-bunny hubby, who will be getting this lovely in his lunch box tomorrow!

OLW44 Rules

1. A one-layer card is defined as a single layer of cardstock folded in half. No other layers of cardstock are allowed. Remember to keep embellishments to a minimum for a clean and simple look!

2. Find inspiration for your card on Marta's Pinterest Boards.

3. Post your card (and the link to the inspiration photo!) somewhere on the internet and then link to your card using the InLinkz button on the sidebar of Simplicity.

4. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

stamps: Hero Arts alphabet, StampinUp always
ink: StampinUp Tempting Turquoise, Real Red; Memento Rich Cocoa, Desert Sand
paper: Papertrey Ink white
accessories: scallop scissors

Happy Birthday, Reenee!!!

Today, I am honored to participate in a Clear and Simple Stamps Blog Hop celebrating owner Reenee's birthday. All this was planned by Nicki (the other owner of CSS) on the sly, and it's so exciting to be in on the surprise. I do love a surprise party!

The Birthday Hop has lots of cards by awesome designers! There are prizes! Please see the details below!

I guess that last sentence didn't need an exclamation point, but it looked lonely without one.

Anyway... Happy Birthday, Reenee!

My clean and simple card uses two Clear and Simple Stamps sets: Kind Deeds (the silhouette) and Banner of News (the banner and sentiment). I used Memento Grape Jelly to stamp the silhouette and banner, and Tuxedo Black for the sentiment. The banner is popped on dimensionals.

Blog Hop Details

You should have arrived here from Jen Tapler's blog, and from here, click over to visit Sarah Martina. The complete hop list is below if you need to start at the beginning. Make sure you go to the CSS's Facebook Page and/or their Blog (links below) and leave a birthday greeting for Reenee to qualify for a PRIZE.

Two surprise packages of CSS goodies made up of some of Reenee's favorite products! Each package will be valued at $50. In order to qualify for the prize, participants must leave a birthday wish for Reenee on the Facebook and/or Clear and Simple Stamps blogpost. They will pick {2} winners - one winner from FB and one winner from the CSS Blog.

For Tuesday, March 8th, 2011, only, you can use a 15% off coupon good for shopping at CSS. Just enter birthday15 in order to receive the discount. This coupon will not be valid with other offers and is good for one day only. I'm totally using this!

Clear and Simple Stamps
Kim Howard
Cristina Kowalczyk
Heather Pulvirenti Jen Tapler
Susan Raihala You Are Here
Sarah Martina
Dana Grothaus
Beth Matson
Tracy Schultz
Viola Mahr
Ryann Salamon
Simone Pursiful Sue Berker Eva Dobilas
Ayana Posadas
Maria Levine
Stephany Zerbe
Ashley Newell
Regina Mangum
Lori Tecler
Clear and Simple Stamps {FB}


Sunday, March 6, 2011

You Are Wonderful

Let's enjoy a bit of simple Papertrey goodness this morning. The set is Way to Go, Kiddo! I needed some more child-friendly stamps, and this set certainly meets that need, but the images and some of the sentiments also work well for anyone. In this case, the sentiment expresses how I feel about YOU, my very kind readers!

How-To Tip: This card is really self-explanatory, but I thought I'd mention Memento Dew Drop ink pads. I find myself reaching for them more and more these days, and for this card, they came in handy with inking the flower image. Because the pads are small and have a pointy end, it's easy to ink up a stamp like this in two colors...and then only stamp once. No worries with masking and lining the image up for a second impression.

stamps: Papertrey Ink (Way to Go, Kiddo!)
ink: Memento, SU close to cocoa
paper: SU pretty in pink, close to cocoa; Papertrey white
accessories: big rhinestones, dimensionals

Thursday, March 3, 2011

CASifying a Sketch Challenge

Here's the sketch challenge from SCS this week:

As soon as I saw this sketch, I thought of my Hero Arts long rectangle shadow stamp. What a perfect way to clean-and-simplify (or CASify) this sketch!

The key to this CASification is layering stamps rather than paper. The colors are analogous (side by side on the color wheel) and they are stacked from light to dark (apricot, pumpkin, rust). After finishing the stamping and adding the circle, something still seemed lacking.

When in doubt, BLING. I added the bling to the centers of the flowers on the branch and then balanced them with two on the apricot layer.


I could NEVER have done this without Roxie's awesome sketch challenge.

stamps: Hero Arts (sentiment and shadow), SU Garden Silhouettes
ink: SU apricot, pumpkin, rust
paper: Papertrey vintage cream
accessories: 1 3/8" circle punch, dimensionals, rhinestones

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One-Layer Wednesday 43: Shimmer, Not Glitter or Bling

This week's One-Layer Wednesday Challenge is to use SHIMMER, but NOT glitter or bling on your card. There are lots of ways to add shimmer: Sakura Stardust pens, Twinkling H2Os, pigment powders, Brilliance iridescent inks, eye shadow, shimmery cardstock, shimmery ribbon, and others I can't think of.

For my card, I used Twinkling H2Os to stamp the silhouette from Clear and Simple Stamps. First, I added water to the paint pot and got a nice, rich, thick paint mixed up. Then, using a bit of sponge, I dabbed the paint onto the stamp, and stamped it directly onto the paper. The result is a rich, shimmery color with a lovely unevenness (blotchy, but in a good way!).

Here's a close-up, but I'm not sure the shimmer comes through in the photo quite as well as in real life.

Now it's YOUR turn. Commit a little shimmer this week!

OLW43 Rules

1. One layer is defined as a single piece of cardstock folded in half. No other layers of cardstock are permitted.

2. Use shimmer on your card in some way. Do not use glitter or rhinestones.

3. Upload your card somewhere on the internet and link to it using the InLinkz button on the sidebar to the right.

4. Most important of all: HAVE FUN!

stamps: Clear and Simple Stamps (Kind Deeds)
ink: Memento black
paper: PTI white
accessories: Twinkling H20s