Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!

Wow, it's 2009! I can't believe it. Todd and I celebrated by going to see the Manhattan Rhythm Kings in concert (they were fantastic) and then we toasted in the new year with Nyquil and went to bed. LOL. How sad is that? Yes, we're sick again - it's the never-ending cold around here. But anyway...

Do you make New Year's resolutions? I don't always... it's so easy not to keep them, you know? I don't think I've ever followed through when I did make a resolution. But I'm going to try this year, and I have several.

1. Exercise! I don't know why this is so hard for me - I always feel better when I am working out regularly. I was doing pretty well until we traveled for three weeks last summer and then it all went downhill. So I am renewing my efforts and will reacquaint myself with my Wii Fit. My goal is to do something with it every day, with at least three days devoted to a longer workout.

2. Spend quality time with my kids. Lately I've been so busy that my kids have gotten the short shrift - in quantity and quality. I may not be able to increase the amount of time I spend with them, but I want the time I do spend with them to be better. I think we will all be happier!

3. Clean up my stamping space - and keep it that way. I'm excited that I'll have a club starting at the end of the month - but it'll be rough if I have to do a week's worth of cleaning for every meeting!

4. Try to raise my stamping profile by entering contests, submitting stuff for publications, and applying for design teams. I don't think I'm after fame and fortune (ha! on that last one, for sure) - it just seems like a good move to be making at this stage, and I think it'll be a fun way to challenge myself.

I'm putting these out here in the hope that it'll help keep me accountable - we'll see if it works! Feel free to share your resolutions, too. Happy 2009 - hope you and yours will be richly blessed this year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

OK, I lied

I said I wasn't going to try to go back and catch up on challenges, but for today I changed my mind. I kept thinking about the SCS inspiration challenge from Saturday - I haven't played one of Steph's challenges in such a long time! I was drawn to the Diva Pashmina - it must have been the name! I combined this challenge with Julee's Mojo Monday sketch challenge.

First I stamped the large flower from Bella Blossoms in always artichoke on very vanilla cardstock, then I stamped it again with regal rose and pink pirouette and cut out the flower and its center. I mounted the rose flower flat and the pink part of the flower with dimensionals. The background is from the pink pirouette patterned paper collection. I stamped the sentiment (also from Bella Blossoms) in artichoke directly on the background.

To finish the card I went a little crazy with my paper piercer - I don't think I've ever pierced a card this much! It started with just the rose panel behind the flower, but then the rest of the card looked bare so I added a bunch more piercing. The ribbon is vanilla taffeta ribbon, and I mounted the flower panel over top with more dimensionals.

I don't know about you but I am loving reaching for more springy colors - now if the weather would only hurry up and get there!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Double the challenge, double the fun

Well, I think I've given up on trying to catch up on all the challenges I missed. There just isn't time, especially when new ones pop up every day! I'll just see if I can keep up from here on out. Today I intended to do one card for Jen's sketch challenge and the Our Creative Corner challenge to use something clear. But I ended up doing two separate but similar cards.

This first card is for the OCC challenge. I found this cool Maya Road clear ribbon when I was out browsing today. So that was my starting point. I embossed a black cardstock panel with the Birds and Swirls Cuttlebug folder, then layered onto baja breeze cardstock. I stamped the hummingbird and leaves from Dream a Little and added a bit of piercing to the corners, then adhered a strip of the clear ribbon over top. The oval sentiment from Only Ovals was stamped twice, in baja breeze and basic black, then I punched the baja breeze oval and cut out the sentiment in black to adhere over top. I put both layers of the sentiment oval on dimensionals.

You can probably see where I was trying to go with Jen's sketch. The elements just didn't quite come together on the first card. I still had to fudge a little by putting the white taffeta ribbon behind the center panel, but I just couldn't cover up the hummingbird. Everything else is pretty much the same, except for the different pattern of paper piercing. Somehow I feel bad that even though the clear ribbon started the whole process for these cards, I like the second one better. What do you think?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone out there is having a wonderful Christmas! We'll be having a white Christmas and spending it with family - I can't think of anything better. I went to church last night and the candlelight service really put me in the holiday mood, as it always does.

And now for something completely different. Here's another challenge card that I've managed to complete this week. The colors are from an SCS color challenge from maybe three weeks ago? I couldn't play at the time but loved the combination of riding hood red, baja breeze and taken with teal. It's not one I would have thought of on my own and it's stunning. I made this card for the most recent challenge for Our Creative Corner: to make a lovey dovey card. I used the Always stamp set along with a sentiment from Verve Visual's Feeling Groovy set. These song-lyric sentiments are so fun and I thought this one was perfect for the challenge.

I first stamped the heart with riding hood red on whisper white cardstock. I cut it out and then layered onto riding hood red cardstock and cut out again. I made my own designer paper with the smaller stamps - to get the tiniest flowers I colored the image with a taken with teal marker since I didn't want to use the circle around the flower. I used one of the baja breeze patterned papers for the background - I liked letting some white show through in this card.

I struggled with the layout a bit - as I've said before, coming up with my own sketch is often a challenge for me. How did I do? I have to give a shout-out to my stepmom, Chris, for giving me her opinion, which was really helpful. She's a quilter and sewer and knows a thing or two about being crafty! I ended up using a large teal panel with a strip of riding hood red striped ribbon, then adding the stamped panel and the heart and sentiment mounted on dimensionals. The big challenge with this card was breaking up the white so that the different stamped elements would each stand out. I'd love to hear what you think!

OK, I'm off to get ready for the Christmas festivities. Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I am so far behind!

My goal of catching up on challenges is going to be hard to achieve! To celebrate the holidays, SCS is having an extra challenge each day as part of the Holiday Challenge Extravaganza. It's going to be impossible to do all of the challenges, but I had time to make a couple cards yesterday. Sorry that the photos aren't great - I'm experimenting a little since I don't currently have a perfect spot for photo taking.

This one is for the first HCE challenge. It was an inspiration challenge, so you know I had to play! I loved the brown and blue combination on one of the onesies. I'm pretty much done making Christmas cards, LOL, so I chose to use some of my new Verve Visual stamps instead. This is the Asian Flair set and I thought it would make a lovely masculine card with these colors. I stamped the three different images in chocolate chip and not quite navy, then I cut out the circles with Nestabilities and mounted with dimensionals. Underneath I added some chocolate chip patterned paper, layers in not quite navy, three vintage brads, and my recent favorite sentiment from Upsy Daisy.

My second card is for the most recent featured stamper challenge using Paula (paulatracy) and her lovely gallery. I picked this card although mine ended up quite a bit simpler because I wasn't looking at Paula's gorgeous creation while I was working on mine. I used one of the stamp sets from the new catalog - Dream a Little, which is one of the new level 3 hostess sets. I stamped the flower three times with chocolate chip, then colored with a blender pen and pink pirouette reinker. The sentiment is from Impression Obsession and was cut and layered with Nestabilities. I added some Bella Rose paper for the background and edged everything with chocolate chip ink for a little shabby chic touch.

It feels so great to be making cards again! If I don't make it back to post before Christmas, I hope everyone has a lovely holiday.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's been quite a week

I feel like I've been lost in never-never land for the past week and then some! Here's a quick rundown...

The big ice storm that hit New England on December 12 affected us, unfortunately. We lost power for basically three days and spent two nights in a hotel. Lots of others were without power longer than that - Ben's school didn't get electricity back until late Wednesday, so he missed three of his last four days before the holiday break. It was a real mess - so many trees down. I'd never seen anything like it.

Another side effect of the storm was that my Internet service was disrupted. I knew they were having trouble from the storm but when I still couldn't get online last night, I finally had to call and they couldn't fix it over the phone and will have to send someone out. I felt so cut off from the world without being able to get online at home - I made a few quick trips to the public library but it just wasn't the same!

I also caught a cold and I'm now on day #4 of not having a voice (or much of one) and coughing like crazy. It's so hard to be a good parent to little kids when you just can't talk to them.

The good news is, I managed to get all my Christmas custom orders completed (and there were a good number of them). Now I'm looking forward to the holidays, when I plan to enjoy family celebrations and catch up on some of the card challenges that I haven't been able to play in the last couple weeks! Oh, and send out my Christmas cards. Better late than never!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The state of things

Well, it's still crazy around here and seems to be getting worse. Sarah's babysitter has been sick all this week and I've lost a lot of valuable time to get everything done. So unfortunately I am going to have to suspend my challenges a couple weeks earlier than I'd planned. Sorry about that! I may not get back to post much before the holidays, so season's greetings to everyone and hope your holidays are wonderful!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

We lived to tell about it!

Today was a first at our house - a birthday party with a whole lot of other kids. This was the first year that Ben expressed interest in inviting kids from school. We went whole hog and invited the whole class (19 other kids) plus two from our neighborhood. In the end we had 9 kids come, and that was plenty, LOL. I think they had a good time.

We decided to do a mad science party. Having a science demo expert in the house helped a lot. Todd did a great job of holding the kids' attention, even in the face of a few little boys who were on the rowdy side. Thankfully, nothing got broken or damaged! Here is a sampling of the festivities for you.

Looking at Todd's dinosaur track he purchased a couple hours west of here

Showing the kids the fossilized dinosaur poop - always good for a laugh

Making ping-pong balls levitate with a vacuum cleaner

Filling beakers with "magic" colored water (the food coloring was placed in them ahead of time - they were totally fooled!)

Then adding dry ice to the beakers - the kids' favorite part!

Here is my cake effort for this year - after much indecision I went with a volcano cake. It's a regular cake mix baked in my Kitchen-Aid mixing bowl. It took more than an hour to bake, but it did finally get done. It might have looked better if I'd used two cake mixes. Anyway, before I frosted it I put a small vase down into the top of the "volcano" to be filled with hot water and dry ice. I only put the vase about halfway in and then filled in around with frosting to make more of a point to the mouth of the volcano. The lava is red and orange gel icing. I thought it turned out pretty well, and it really wasn't hard. The kids seemed to get a kick out of it - and it tasted good, too!

It's amazing how quiet 10 kids can be when you fill their mouths with cake and ice cream.

I just have to share one funny story related to the party. This actually happened on Friday when one of the class moms told me that her daughter couldn't come to the party. This particular girl was someone whom Ben really wanted to be there, so I was afraid he'd be awfully disappointed. He looked a little sad at first, then he grinned his Ben grin and said, "She won't know what she's missing!" That's a good attitude, my boy. I hope you can keep that outlook through your whole life!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Taking a breather

It's been totally crazy here. Tomorrow is Ben's birthday party - I'm sure more will be forthcoming about that - and I've been madly working on custom orders and my Etsy shop. And somehow in the midst of this I'm supposed to finish Christmas shopping and get the kids' photos taken and send out Christmas cards and pack for our holiday travel and... and... and...

I took a little break from the madness to make a card for a friend. I wanted it to be very sweet and girly, and this is what I came up with. The sketch is Jen's and it was super fun.

I started out with the patterned paper by KI Memories. That led me to an unusual color combination, perhaps - pink pirouette, pale plum, and close to cocoa. I used my ticket corner punch, which recently came out of hiding (i.e., I found it under the mountain of stuff on my craft table). The stamp is by Inkadinkado and is stamped in cocoa ink on pink cardstock.

I couldn't decide what to put for my big embellishment and finally decided on a flower. This one from the Basket & Blooms die is sooo nice. I really should use this die more often! I used the pale plum for the flower and then added a pink button from JoAnn's with some hemp twine. I added a strip of pink pirouette ribbon and popped up the flower and sentiment with glue dots.

What do you think? It's not exactly my usual style, is it? It was fun to step outside my fallbacks and try something different. I hope my friend loves it!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Inspiration Challenge #42: Pier 1 ornaments

I can't help myself - I know I turn to Pier 1 a lot for my inspiration pieces but this one just called to me. Maybe because it reminded me of the Fa La La collection by Making Memories that I picked up at Target over the weekend. I already did a flip album with it, which I hope I get time to show you soon, but for today I made a (gasp!) Christmas card. (Actually I cut enough paper to make six - Christmas is coming and I keep forgetting that I need cards...) Here is a link to all the Pier 1 ornament collections - if you see something else there that inspires you, go for it! I think this photo is so large that you can't see the whole thing on my blog, so be sure you check out the original.

For my card I cut the tan card base and olive layer (4 1/8" x 5 3/8") from Bazzill cardstock. I decided to use as much of the printed paper as possible and not to any further layers. I know, another shocker! The printed panels are 4" x 1 11/16". To finish off, I took a sentiment from the kit and added burgundy Stickles around the edge. Then, on very vanilla cardstock, I stamped the poinsettia from Christ Is Born in Marvy Matchables English red and for the leaves, stamped the image again with old olive and cut out two petals to adhere behind the flower. I dotted more Stickles on the berries and then adhered both sentiment and the poinsettia with dimensionals. I think that's going to do it!

This week's SCS keyword is DSIC42. Please come and play! I'm really getting into the holiday spirit and I hope you are too. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Neutral territory

I am so challenged deprived lately - I haven't done the SCS color challenge in a long time. Today I managed to fit it in, and it was perfect timing because I needed to make a masculine birthday card. The colors of basic black, sahara sand and very vanilla were just what I needed.

I started my card with the large pine tree from Lovely as a Tree, stamped in sahara sand on vanilla cardstock. I cut and embossed with long rectangle Nestabilities, then swiped the edges with black ink on a paper towel. I like the effect that has over the embossing. Then I layered onto black cardstock. I stamped the sentiment (from Upsy Daisy) in black and did all the same things.

The background uses the Weathered stamp in sahara sand on vanilla cardstock. Again I added black ink to the edges, then three black vintage brads. To finish I added one more black layer, a top-folded sahara sand card, and some dimensionals for the sentiment. Ta-da! I'm really liking this card and I might even try it with some different combinations of neutral colors and images.