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!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Card Strategy and A Muse and a Little Give-Away

As I stamped on Sunday, I realized that I needed a strategy for making over 100 Christmas cards quickly and without going insane. I decided to try to make at least two cards using each Christmas set or stamp I own...two cards that look very different. Also, I'm trying to keep them all one layer, though if a design requires layers, I'll add them.

Here are the first two cards I made using this strategy and A Muse's Snow Crystals set.

The first card uses a speckled blue-gray cardstock and Marina Mist (SU) ink. Three sizes of pearls are a serene and interesting accent for these beautiful stamps.

The second card uses a little masking and is reminiscent of nordic sweaters with its cream card base and Cherry Cobbler ink.

Which do you like best and why? Just for fun, I'll send a random commenter a package of pearls! Give-away deadline is Thursday at midnight, East Coast time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Felt Poinsettias and a Reminder

Today's cards came out of yesterday's delightful make-out session with product.

I'm sorry. Was that too much information?

The product was a package of Hero Arts Felt Poinsettias I bought in a moment of weakness and have hoarded for several years. You don't have any fabulous unused products like that lying around, do you? Of course not. You're more sensible than I.

These felt die cuts are extremely high-quality, unlike the premade paper poinsettias I made out with first and whose end results shall remain unviewed by anyone in cyberspace or the real world. The paper poinsettias were poor quality; they looked like some small critter had nibbled their edges so the cards looked nibbled, too. When I moved on to the felt poinsettias, I managed to use practically the whole package on just two cards, which felt very efficient. (Did I just make a bad pun?)

Even better, I don't feel the need to buy more simply because the results are so lumpy and hard to mail. But they sure are pretty!

Hero Arts Felt Poinsettias come in packages of three colors (burgundy, red, and white) with two shades of green for the leaves. I layered two flowers together to get a richer, more dimensional look: the burgundy on the bottom and the red on top. The white poinsettias, of course, just got layered together.

Break out some unused product and give it some love this week!

Simplicity Tip: You can get a very similar look without the bulk of felt using a daisy punch and two shades of red card stock, a shade of green card stock, and a brad. White and cream might look lovely, too! The end result will be less textured but will carry the exact same punch for design that the felt poinsettias do. Of course if you own a die cut machine and daisy dies, you can create your own. But I don't die; I punch.

A Reminder: 52 Weeks of Mail is going strong! I hope you're sticking to your resolution of sending more snail mail. This is week seven, and I know I've sent out far more than seven cards, despite all the craziness in my life. With Christmas coming, this challenge will be LOTS easier, don't you think?

stamps: Papertrey Ink Signature Greetings (faux handwritten sentiment) and Silent Night (verse)
paper: Papertrey white

ink: cherry cobbler (SU)
accessories: Hero Arts Felt Poinsettias, small antique gold brads, glue dots

Sunday, November 27, 2011

If You're Anything Like I Am...

you probably have a lot of specialty papers lying around unused, unloved, uncut. "Oh, that's too pretty to cut!"


Specialty papers are most often found in the art section of big box craft stores or in fine art supply stores. They generally come in very large sheets on tilted paper racks, although some scrapbook paper companies produce them in 12" x 12" sizes or smaller.

One thing I've learned since I started papercrafting is that specialty papers stick around a LOT longer than the latest Basic Gray collection. Art paper suppliers are less given to trends. You can buy the same velvet paper I bought ten years ago today at Hobby Lobby. Rice papers are always around, too.

So instead of hoarding specialty papers, use them to make pleated ornaments for the holidays!

It's hard to tell from my stellar photograph (not), but this is red velvet paper. In real life, it looks fabulous and feels even better. I scored it on the back to pleat so I didn't damage the pile of the velvet.

Green ornaments on trees don't show up well unless they are light green or very glittery/shiny. This is what I call rice paper (not sure it that's the real name, though). It has interesting, slightly shimmery fibers in it.

Finally, we have some silver faux-leather paper, which adds texture and shimmer to the ornament.

There are plenty of online tutorials on making these beauties, but here are a few additional tips to help you out.

1. Use a glue gun. It holds the best of any glue I tried.

2. Score the folds, then punch the edges (I used Fiskar's Threading Water edge punch), THEN fold the paper.

3. I used strips that were roughly 21"-22" long and 2" wide, which gave me lots of pleats. But this isn't a souffle recipe. Vary as needed for your own purposes.

4. The snowflake is a Martha Stewart punch, and the scalloped circle is from Marvy.

5. You could use these as gift tags, too, but definitely tell people they are ornaments. You don't want these beauties ending up in the trash. Instead, make a whole set for someone as a gift. That was my plan before the Great House Sale of 2011. Now, I'll cut myself some slack and just wait until next year.

That must be the sanest decision I've made in the past two months.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Gift-Wrap Philosophy: Part Two

As some of you may remember, I love the traditional colors of Christmas but sometimes feel the need to break out and try something different, something rad, something rebellious, something edgy.

Yeah, I'm such a bad girl.


One thing I love about my new Gift-Wrap Philosophy is just how flexible it is, allowing for lots of variety in styles and colors. For those of you who tolerate mass-production well and can't stand non-traditional colors for Christmas, today's post may not be of much value, but for those of you who, like me, would rather bleed from your eyeballs than mass-produce, well, here's a fun way to put some variety into your Christmas packaging!

Tropical fruit-slice snowflake stamps and sentiment from Hero Arts

Note how the sentiment makes excuses for the tropical colors. And the bling makes this so sparkly and pretty!

Retro colors of Brilliance inks and Hero Arts Stamps

I love aqua and orange and make at least one card with them every Christmas. The Brilliance inks are shimmery and I added a spot of Stickles in the center of each snowflake to kick it up a notch. This is a less expensive option than rhinestones, but remember if you're sending packages to the troops glitter allowed!

Stamp by PTI.

Memento's gray ink makes me swoon and fills me with joy. Paired with this shiny silver and shimmery white ribbon, it's a stunner. Who knew gray could be so fabulous! BTW, adding a bit of bling to the center of each snowflake would be even more fabulous.

Stamps by PTI. Orange baker's twine.

Using quintessential Christmas icons in totally fun colors keeps the theme clear while allowing for rebellious color choices.

Stamps by PTI. Glitter by Doodlebug.

Finally, blue isn't exactly a non-traditional color, but it is pretty. Very pretty!
And that's it for Christmas tags this year. I'm considering making angel cookies to give to neighbors this year, and if that happens, I'll share that packaging as well. Otherwise, it's time to get cracking on Christmas cards because oh holy sugar plums, I've only got about 30 and need 130.

It's time like this when Clean-and-Simple Design is sooooo my friend!

How many holiday cards have you made? How many do you need?

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Gift-Wrap Philosophy: Part One

Simplicity takes a lot of work. Stripping something down to its essentials, making the essentials look interesting and pretty, and getting a design's balance just right take time, patience, and perseverance.

Sometimes, however, the design gods hand you an idea so simple and quick that you wonder what the heck took you so long to figure it out.

After years of fretting over gift wrap, I've hit upon a minimalist philosophy so simple and so perfect that I'm sure I can't be the first to hit upon it.

The philosophy can best be summed up by the equation T + R + WP = FABULOUS, where T is a simple, colorful tag, R is coordinating ribbon, and WP is white paper.

Papertrey Mendhi Medallion, Hero Arts sentiment

The first sample is a tag I made months ago and shared already, but I combined it with a red ribbon edged in I bought to use years ago and never did.

Papertrey Holiday Treats

This tag shows how those nugget label stamps can be used as borders on small tags. For this tag, I'll write the name of the recipient on the front, rather than the back. In brown ink to match the gingerbread man!

Hero Arts

Rick-rack or other interesting trim can add interest to a super-simple tag.

Papertrey Holly Jolly

For someone special, add bling to the tag. Yes, it will end up in the trash, but seriously, it's Christmas. That green satin ribbon is so soft and rich-feeling, it just demanded a blinged-up tag.

Papertrey Sign Language

Tags can be any shape or size you want. Here, I took left-over strips of cardstock and turned them into long, narrow tags using simple images and bling. The white ribbon with its red stitching was the perfect accompaniment!

What are the advantages of this philosophy? Well, let's count them.

1. You only ever need to buy white wrapping paper, although if you want some variety, kraft wrapping paper will work well, too.

2. You can express your creativity through the tag, getting as fancy or as personalized as you want. Plus, you can use odd scraps of cardstock for your tags.

3. Christmas tags can double as ornaments, too!

4. You can use up that massive stash of ribbon you have sitting there, being hoarded. Or you can buy spools of ribbon when they are discounted and let the ribbon inspire your tags.

5. No more searching for baby wrapping paper or kid birthday wrap or Mother's Day wrap or graduation wrap at the last minute. All you have to do is make sure you have stamps for every occasion, which, let's face it, is HUGELY more fun.

6. If you keep a stash of white gift bags in assorted sizes and tissue paper (either white or assorted color packs as you prefer), the ribbons and tags work equally well for awkwardly-sized or hard-to-wrap gifts.

7. This style of gift wrap lends itself to additional embellishment if time and inclination allow. Adding pine-cones, jingle bells, sprigs of holly or picks of artificial fruit, foliage, berries, etc., to Christmas packages, party favors to birthday gifts, and such work well. But only if you want to embellish.

What are the disadvantages of this philosophy? Well, there's only one I can think of, and that's finding good white wrapping paper that is opaque enough. Perhaps one of you has a suggestion, but the the white at HL and M's can be seen through, so when necessary, I've started wrapping a strip of it around the gift box first, then wrapping the gift.

But I'd much rather have truly opaque white paper to wrap gifts.

What do you think of this Clean and Simple Gift-Wrap Philosophy?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving and a Super-Simple Christmas Tag Tutorial

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers. Today is one of my favorite days of the year and I wish the spirit of gratitude and appreciation for blessings we feel today would live as strongly all year long. I'm so grateful to each and every one of you who takes the time to read my maunderings and special thanks to those of you who comment, either here on the site or in emails. Y'all keep me going.

For today, I wanted to share a super-simple tutorial for making a large number of small tags quickly. As I say every year, our family likes to acknowledge all the many people who help with our children...the aides, therapists, special education teachers, regular teachers, and others. When you have a child with special needs, you cannot raise them alone...all these professionals make a HUGE difference in your child's life.

Grateful doesn't begin to cover it.

The sheer numbers of these special people in our lives are overwhelming at the holidays, especially this year when our personal lives are so chaotic with the house sale. In years past, I've made card sets for them, but this year, I knew that would not be do-able. The kids enjoy making these sugar plums every year, so I decided we'd just acknowledge each special person with a sugar plum this Christmas and then do something extra-special at the end of the year, when we will be moved and have more time.

Our sugar plums this year will have white candy coating; red, white, and green sprinkles; and white candy sticks (rather than craft sticks shown on the Family Fun website). Over the years, I discovered that tying curly ribbon or such around about a hundred sugar plums is BORING, so last year, I used red pipe cleaners cut to size with a single jingle bell threaded onto them. (Pictures of ours this year will be forthcoming....)

I've never attached tags to the sugar plums before. We've always just handed them out to the boys' friends and to neighbors. But for the teachers and therapists, I wanted to have a simple tag to attach to the pipe cleaner. The boys can put their names on the backs of the tags for a bit of personalization.

These stickers, found on sale at Michael's a few weeks ago, are the perfect adornment for my mass-produced tags. They even already have a little spot of bling! Y'all know I hardly ever use stickers or other prepared embellishments on my projects, but these seemed too cute to pass up.

I used my tag punch to make 24 tags out of Papertrey Ink's stamper's select white cardstock (nice and thick).

After afixing the stickers to each tag, I used a 1/8" hole punch and craft floss to finish the tags.

Here's the finished product. So easy, so cute, so FAST. The pipe cleaner can be threaded through the floss loops for easy assembly when the sugar plums are packaged.

The lesson of today's tutorial is that if you use the right products, mass production of simple tags can be incredibly easy and so fast that it hardly gets boring at all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

She's Back!

What a relief! The house is ready (mostly), the sign is up, and now we just have to wait for someone to buy it. We still have some work to do, but the urgency is past. That means crafting time!

Of course, it's hard to find anything in my craft room. It's "staged," which translates as rearranged for attractiveness and the appearance of spaciousness. It is not arranged for crafting convenience. See.

The room looks huge compared to its pre-staging arrangement, especially when the chair is lowered and pushed under the table. I took out my second table, so my paper trimmer is propped under the desk and my scor-pal is on the desk.

It looks fabulous, but because stuff got stuffed wherever I could stuff it, I'm having a hard time finding some, uh, stuff.

That's not getting in my way, though.

We'll start my return to Simplicity with photos of the mustard seed ornament.

The base is gold shimmer paper given to me by kind reader Lisa. That paper made about 50 ornaments, and I used assorted other colors of shimmer card stock for the remaining 50.

The star is from Silent Night and the sentiment is from Everyday Blessings, both by Papertrey Ink. The ink is Ancient Page Saffron, which ended up being a perfect match for the shimmer paper. The center of the star features a single mustard seed.

The back isn't fancy. I printed these on the computer. An easy tip for doing this in Word is to create a text box with a border. Put your text in, format and size the box to as needed, and copy it to fill the page. After you print, cut just inside the lines of the text box, and you've got the perfect size!

The finished size of my ornaments is 4.25" x 3".

I've not sent many cards in the past two weeks. Can't let all those Thanksgiving/Gratitude Challenge cards go to waste, so I'll be filling them out tomorrow and mailing them Friday. Better late than never.

In closing, I want to thank Janet R. and Nicole P. for sending me cards. The cards, emails, and comments y'all have sent my way these past two weeks have really helped me during the craziness. Thank you ALL, and have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Update and a Link

Good morning on this dreary Monday. Well, it's dreary where we are. Hopefully, you're seeing sunshine and rainbows today.

The end is in sight for prepping the house to sell, so I HOPE to be in my craft room on Wednesday to take pictures of the mustard seed ornaments and make something new.

Some of you have asked about Stephen Ministry, so I posted some explanation on my other blog HERE. If you have further questions, please ask them in the comments of that post, and I will answer to the best of my ability.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Many Thanks and Group Crafting

Many thanks to Sue C., Angela H., Karen C., and Linda E. for making my mail so much fun yesterday and today. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

I'm still alive but hanging on to my sanity by a thread. My house is finally starting to look close to showable (is that a word?), at least on the the two main floors. The basement is another matter entirely. My car broke on Monday (oy, vey!), and then I paid the staging company Tuesday, the drywall people and the appraiser today, and the inspector tomorrow. Fortunately, George's car's boo-boo is covered by insurance, and hopefully it will be fixed tomorrow because the rental company gave me a minivan and I don't like it. My car is at the airport because George left on Tuesday for New Jersey and left me alone in my cleaning frenzy, which probably is a good thing.

What else can I whine about?

Oh, yeah, the stock market tanked today.

Aren't y'all glad I'm not posting much during this time of traumatic obsession?

Seriously, though, I've actually done something crafty tonight. Our Stephen Ministry wanted to make Christmas ornaments to pass out to the congregation. It's all part of raising awareness of those who aren't happy during the holidays.

Aren't we a cheerful group?

Really, though, Stephen Ministry helps people who are in emotional pain (from loss of loved ones to loss of job to loss of marriage, whatever), and that pain can be made worse during the holidays when everyone expects people to be happy. Some people aren't feeling the joy, often for very good reasons. It's amazing how other people ignoring their pain makes it worse.

I'll give you an example. My friend Liz lost her mother to cancer last fall. Liz was out of work for weeks as her mother was in hospice and then after she died. When she returned to work, not one co-worker offered condolences or asked how she was doing. This hurt her so much and made her feel like no one cared about the pain she felt.

Truth is, most people just don't know what to say, so they say nothing.

Stephen Ministry wants to let people know that it's okay to talk to those who are in pain. Ask how they are doing. Listen to what they say. In all our joy of the season, it's important to acknowledge suffering and sadness, fear and pain. The story of Christ's birth is full of suffering and pain...Mary's unexpected pregnancy before marriage, the long journey to Bethlehem, sleeping in a stable, the flight from Herod.

Anyway, we're making mustard seed ornaments to remind those who aren't feeling the joy that God can take the tiniest bit of faith and turn it into a kingdom of hope. When we can't feel the joy, God can do it for us. We don't have to fake it or pretend. We just need to let His amazing grace do its work.

I designed some VERY simple ornaments that are more meaningful than craftily attractive (though they really aren't bad for something I whipped together in between spackling nail holes and steam cleaning carpet). I got the pieces together for us to assemble at our meeting, and here are the pictures of everyone working to get the ornaments made.

See. We really are a cheerful group!!!!

And yes, we drank coffee. That's how I'm still conscious at 10:42 this evening because my day began at 6:00 a.m. Tomorrow will, too. But getting crafty sure helped my mood. Getting crafty for a good cause was even better!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanks to Sarah and Vicki

Kind reader Sarah sent me a lovely Thanksgiving card and some sheets of sticky canvas that I will have so much fun playing with once I can get back into my craft room.

Thanks, Sarah, for thinking of me!

Vicki sent me a fab one-layer Christmas card just because I asked for it. Thanks, Vicki!!!

I'm so sad not to be stamping right now. But my house is coming together slowly but surely, the staging company comes tomorrow, and the for sale sign goes up on Saturday.

And speaking of cleaning (well, sort of), consider the truth of this poster I found on Pinterest:

And wow, I have a lot.

Be happy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Found a Photo...

that I haven't posted yet. No, I haven't had a chance to stamp, but my house is looking very bare and clean. We're having a staging company come next Tuesday to suggest ways to make our house more appealing to buyers. The marketing designer I spoke with today told me she was drooling as I described how I was de-personalizing our house. She can't wait to get in here to work her magic. We'll see if she feels the same way when she sees the four huge black laminate bookshelves and futon furniture in our library.

Maybe she's a miracle worker.

Anyway, today's card is the last I have on my hard-drive that hasn't been posted already, so hopefully I'll be able to get in the craft room soon. I sure love this one, though.

The strip of burlap is attached with Scor-Tape, and the little maple was the last left-over from my painting with Smooch experiment. LOVE how shimmery it is.

And now for a minute of seriousness. Thank you all for your support over the past week. The comments and emails have helped lift me up and encourage me and keep me from going crazy. We're putting the sign up on our house on the 19th, so it's going to be tight getting everything done...the cleaning, the painting, the fixing little problems. But it will get done. And I am, surprisingly, a long way from the mental breakdown I expected at this point. Because of you. So thank you. From the bottom of my heart.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Non-Crafty Post: Where Has My Mind Gone?

Nothing card related here yet. Sorry about that. I just posted this on my other blog, but thought I'd share it here, too.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry discovers Dumbledore's pensieve, a device that allows the headmaster to siphon off thoughts and look at them outside his brain. He tells Harry that it's useful when he has too many thoughts.

I want a pensieve.

My head is so crammed with thoughts that my memory circuits and gross motor coordination are suffering burnout. I remember, years ago, a virtual stranger telling me to be extra careful as I prepared our second house for sale. She said that stressed and busy people are so preoccupied with their thoughts they forget important things and get careless with their bodies. She recommended lists and staying centered in my body as I worked.

Before I started my Crazy Cleaning Witch frenzy on Monday, I reminded myself of this woman's sage advice and then promptly did the following:

1. I found the kids' Halloween cards in a box in the craft room. Forgot to give them on Halloween as planned.

2. I forgot an entire conversation about financials George claims we had. Suspect he had the conversation with his imaginary wife Bambi, who runs marathons, and has red hair without a lick of gray and large ta-tas. I hate her.

3. I forgot Jack had fed Daisy and thus committed the grievous mommy crime of entering a child's bedroom after he's supposed to be asleep. Remembered just as his eager and very awake face lit up that yes, he did indeed feed Daisy that afternoon.

4. I dropped a small bookshelf on my toe. No damage done, but as I had told myself "Don't drop this bookshelf on your toe" before I picked it up in the first place, I felt pretty stupid.

5. I have a bruise on my thigh. No idea where it came from.

6. I scraped a knuckle and cut a finger and didn't notice either until sticky blood caught my attention.

7. I decided to wait until Friday to move heavy stuff to the basement so George, who has Friday off, could help. Wait. That's actually sane and sensible.

This morning, George came downstairs and asked, "Do you remember telling me you sewed the button back on my brown pants?"

"Sure," I said.

He laughed. "Well, you didn't."

I clearly remember sewing that darn button on months ago. My brain is now telling me I've accomplished things I haven't in an effort to whittle the to do list down to something manageable, which is a clear indication that I need professional help. Pretty soon, when my house is ready to go on the market and I win my gold medal for "Best Staged House of 2011" Award, I'm going to find a psychiatrist and demand valium with a whiskey chaser and sleep for a week.

Maybe my mind will come back to me.

I think I'm going to need it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Papercrafty and Personal News

There's a reason I haven't photographed my tag for the OLW this week. Do you want to know that reason?

Of course you do.

Here it is:

We signed a bunch of paperwork today to start the process of making this lovely new ranch home with a finished walk-out basement ALL MINE! And yes, the large basement bedroom with a lovely, south-facing window will be my craft room. We might also put a bed in there, but it won't matter. There's plenty of room.

And yes, that tiny little figure on the front walk is I. How silver my hair looks in the sun! At least I look skinny from that distance.

I'll be posting more pictures of the house on my other blog later, but frankly, I'm not going to have a whole lot of time for blogging in the next week. We have to get our current home staged for sale and on the market ASAP, which means massive obsessive-compulsive cleaning and de-cluttering. I've already warned my family that I will transform into the Cleaning Witch tomorrow.

Anyone who wants to come help me clean is welcome.

I did get into my craft room this morning before going to the builder's office, and I made about a dozen tags, the first of which will be posted before OLW71 ends, as God is my witness.

But cranking out all these tags got me thinking. With all I have to do in the coming months, I need to keep my Christmas simple, right? Well, the tags are simple, and I decided to do a series of ideas and tips for Clean and Simple Gift Packaging!

Doesn't that sound perfectly wonderful!!!??!?!?

This series will air on this blog toward the end of November.

In the meantime, I'll do my best to make stuff, take pictures of the stuff, and get the stuff posted.

But the Cleaning Witch obsesses.

Oh, my. Does she obsess.

Please pray for me.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Inspired by Amber Damien

Amber Damien published a spread of cards in the fall issue of Take Ten...and here's a sample of her technique.

Cool, eh? Corrugated cardboard gives a card such wonderful texture. I love how Amber used squares in a grid (grids, YES!) and raffia. It had been my plan to stick more to her layout, but I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing (just keepin' it real) and punched squares out of the kraft card stock I'd crimped in my Fiskar's paper crimper instead of the Indian Summer paper I'd planned to use.

You know, it takes pretty phenomenal lack of situational awareness to put crimped card stock in a punch and not notice that something is wrong.

Since I had some punched leaves (wow, this maple leaf punch has gotten a huge workout lately!), I played around with them on the crimped squares. A 3 x 3 grid looked too busy, so as I moved just three squares around on a cream card, I thought the blessings sentiment might break up the predictability of the layout.


Version two pulls everything to the center rather than left justified. I honestly can't decide which layout I like best.

I hope you all are having a lovely weekend, full of fun, loved ones, and inky stamps!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Return of Smooch Painting

You might remember my cards from a while back that used Smooch just like a watercolor. If not, you can see them here.

Way back then (in September), I punched a bunch of leaves from the swatches of kiwi, pumpkin, and carrot Smooch-painted watercolor paper. Those leaves sat, unused, on my table until last weekend when the idea for this card popped to mind. Yes! I knew I'd think of something to do with them. Eventually.

4.25" square

Just goes to show if you sit on something pretty long enough, you'll figure out a pretty use for it at some random point in the future.

All it takes is a little faith and pixie dust.

Or, in this case, Smooch.

stamps: Papertrey Falling Leaves
ink: Memento tangelo
paper: Papertrey vintage cream, Arches watercolor block (90lb hot press)
accessories: Smooch, watercolor brush, dimensionals, Martha Stewart leaf punch

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Three Shades of Red

First of all, don't forget to click on over to Jennifer's blog and check out the OLW71 challenge! Tag, You're It! Too fun and so timely.

My card for today uses three shades of red, all from StampinUp: rose red, real red, cherry cobbler. The sentiment is in Memento rich cocoa.

This idea just popped into my head, and I rather like how it turned out.

It's so...I don't know...tidy.

Who you callin' obsessive compulsive?

stamps: PTI Falling Leaves (sentiment), Autumn Acorns (leaves)
ink: SU and Memento
paper: PTI vintage cream
accessories: corner rounder

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Inspired by Chelsea Edwards: Day 3, or Lessons in Stamping a Little Collage

Stamping a collage can be a little challenging. Getting the balance and colors right, and giving a sense of movement to the whole thing can be intimidating. But it's less so with a small 1 3/4" by 2 5/8" piece of card stock. If you ruin one or two or ten, you're not out much, so there's not much risk to playing around and trying to get it right.

My first effort was so-so (although the colors really do look more balanced in real life!). The red and dark brown elements form nice triangles that anchor the design. There are three elements of text, three fronds of leaves, five spots of light brown, one spot of green. The odd numbers work pretty well, but to my CAS-loving eye, there are just too many of them. Also, there are too many colors. The green is a bit too dark.

For better design, there needs to be either a third word or autumn and grace need to be closer together so they relate better because the triangle they make with the brown half pearls gets lost in the chaos of that green grunge splatter. Placing the collage in the dead center of the card makes the card look...odd.

As flawed as it is, I'm satisfied with it as a first effort and am not embarrassed to post it (you might feel differently, though!), but it's just too busy for my taste. So I tried again, this time with a Christmas theme. This one scores MUCH better!

The balance of color and design on the Christmas card works well. The strong focal point of the poinsettia grabs the eye, and the Grunge Me paint splatter stamp in very light green stays in the background where it belongs yet adds a fresh look to the bright red and green. The holly berries are accented with a red Sakura Stardust pen and match the red ink much better in real life, allowing the eye to move from the focal point to the sentiment to the border with ease.

Some tips for stamping mini collages:

1. It's a good idea to start with a strong focal point, then work from there. Put the focal point in a sweet spot. Draw imaginary lines to divide the piece into thirds; the two best sweet spots are the upper left and lower right intersections of the lines.

2. Use differently scaled shapes or images and vary the shapes. The Autumn card has too many elements that are roughly the same size and visual weight and a bit too much variety in the shapes. The Christmas card has repeat border of tiny holly and a nice, big poinsettia, and the round poinsettia works in contrast to the trinagles of holly and straight line of the sentiment. The grunge spatter relaxes the crisp images a bit.

3. The background needs to stay in the background with lighter colors as support.

4. Add a little extra something...bling, glitter pen accents, beads, buttons, ribbon, twine, etc.

5. Place the collage off-center as Chelsea did with her samples in Take Ten. This adds much more interest to the card and feels much more natural. Utilize either the sweet spots or the rule of thirds. On my Christmas card, the imaginary one-third horizontal line of the collage is lined up on the imaginary one-third horizontal line of the card base, leaving about twice as much white space below the collage than above...hope that makes sense!

Why not play around and see what sort of mini collage you can stamp!

stamps: Autumn (Grunge Me, First Fruits, Turning a New Leaf, Text Style, Beautiful Blessings); Christmas (Peaceful Poinsettia, Holly Jolly, Grunge Me)
inks: Memento
paper: Papertrey
accessories: half pearls, Stardust red pen, sponge, gold half bead, dimensionals