The Perfect Word For You…

Oh, Children! The tales I could tell (but my therapist assures me doing so would only scare the average reader/viewer and expose myself to some embarrassing litigation). The short and sweet version is that I’ve been MIA for much longer than my liking. Ideally, I would love to maintain this blog with new content every three to four days minimum. I actually wish I could commit to daily content, but I know that would only lead to guilt the very first time I missed a deadline.

So for a bit, I lost my way. Not so much that I didn’t craft. Oh, no…I continued to make projects and explore ideas while I was gone. I just never had the heart or the “oomph” to get them photographed and uploaded. One could say that was extreme laziness on my part (and I can’t defend myself), but I think I attribute it to a weather phenomenon where Fall refused to arrive (until only recently). It made me moody and restless. I was so over Summer (like in June). Nonetheless, I’m going to try and be a more hospitable and accommodating host henceforth.

Today’s project is one that I sort of “forced” myself into. If you’ve followed this blog for sometime–or even flip through some of the most recent projects I’ve posted–it becomes fairly evident that I love color. In general, I am not a pastel person. I like bold, deep, intense colors and tones. I love intricate and dense patterns and designs. (I’m fairly certain this has do with my being a Leo–as we seem to have some foolhardy notion that we were royalty in another life–and in my case, presently.)

So, now and again, I like to challenge myself to something in a softer palette. I was of the mind frame that I wanted to explore some subtle colors like ecru, eggshell, and linen to see what I could come up with. So I grabbed my Copic Sketch markers and rummaged around in my Papertrey Ink goodies and came up with this little number.

Using an image from Papertrey Ink’s “Year of Flowers” series–in the case the gladiolus (the flower for August)–I stamped the image on some white cardstock and cut around the image. I tried to limit my color selections to muted colors, with the obvious exception of the leaves and stems. I think what makes this combination work particularly well is the background mat paper. I used several dyes and inks to create a water-stained look using sponges and water. It took some experimenting to prevent the paper from becoming to saturated with liquid and creating dimpling and curling. Patience helps–and allowing drying time between color applications.




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Winner–Giveaway #16: Pack Your Bags

I’ll be the first to admit, I think this was definitely the most challenging puzzle giveaway I’ve had to date. That’s not to say it was impossible to solve–and many of you made great progress. But, choosing a winner was super simple as there was only one entry that managed to get all of the correct answers! So who’s the very savvy girl? Hmmm…before I get to that, let’s take a look at the answers.

01. I am museum which holds the world famous painting ‘Las Meninas’ among its collection, as well as the largest collection of Spanish paintings in the World. Where am I?
Madrid, Spain

02. I’m located on the North Island and known as the City of Sails. Where am I?
Auckland, New Zealand

03. I was designed by Daniel Hudson Burnham and became an icon in my city. Some say I am also responsible for the phrase “23 Skidoo”. Where am I?
New York City, USA

04. I’m located on the Burrard Peninsula and contain the landmark Robson Square. Where am I?
Vancouver (British Columbia), Canada

05. Unscramble me: LARVA ACE SAUCE ZEN. Where am I?
Caracas, Venezuela

06. I was established as a trading town by King Gustav I of Sweden and originally named Hellssingeforss. My official languages are Finnish and Swedish. Where am I?
Helsinki, Finland

07. I am a fictional French speaking Belgian detective appearing in 33 novels. My creator and Guiness Book of World Records title holder was born here. Where am I?
Torquay (Devon), England

08. I am a symbol of eternal love and a mausoleum. I am also the World’s finest example of Mughal architecture. Where am I?
Agra, India (the building in question is the Taj Mahal)

09. Unscramble me: OBSIDIAN ALIEN. Where am I?
Bali, Indonesia

10. I am the capital city of this country that shares borders with the Atlantic Ocean, Angola and Botswana. Where am I?
Windhoek, Namibia

Thank you to all of those who took the time and effort to play along. As always, I really enjoy coming up with ways to torture entertain you. Be on the lookout for Giveaway #17 shortly.

So, who is the Mistress of Maps? The winner of a brand new Cricut “Pack Your Bags” cartridge, a selection of Imaginisce “Scooter’s Vacation” paraphernalia, a LaBlanche “Dogwood” silicone stamp, and some secret surprises is….Ms. Kristie Maynard. Congratulations on your mastery of geography Kristie! If you would please forward your contact information, I will get your prize package on its way to you. Again, thanks to all who participated.

It’s The Little Things…

I have a confession–which will not be all that surprising to those of you who love paper crafting as much as I do. There’s something uniquely satisfying and fulfilling in getting all the “small” details in project just right. Beyond the self-satisfaction you get from producing and giving a handmade project to a family member or friend, let’s be honest: many times the recipient will not realize or truly appreciate the amount of work and thought you put into said project. That’s not to say they don’t appreciate or enjoy it–it’s simply that they don’t understand the time consuming and minute details (and heaps of creativity and love) that went into their gift.

That’s where the real satisfaction and pay-off comes in: the knowing and joy we get from all the the little things that go into a project. It is this intrinsic value in our work and ideas that no one can ever really understand or share in that feeds our creativity and fires our giving souls. I may produce a card that took hours of planning and detail work–and no one may ever quite “get it”. But, I do. I always take pictures of all my projects, so that when they are gone to their new homes, I still have a way to celebrate and remember that particular work. Every now and again, I love to flip through my pictures and look at what I’ve done and how far I’ve come. New ideas, new techniques, new accomplishments…they simply fuel my desire to do something even better and more unique. I really urge you to keep a record of your works–whether they be digital files, printed photos or written journal entries. Every so often, remind yourself of your work–good and not-so-successful–to feed your fire of creativity and stoke new ambition and drive.

The reason I touched on all of this today, is that I was extremely happy with one of my latest projects. It’s full of small details that perhaps only I will ever truly appreciate. The card literally represents hours of work–a project I returned to over the course of several days. It was a truly fulfilling creative moment for me. I only hope that whomever ends up with it, will enjoy it half as much as I did putting it together.

This project started with a piece of 4″ x 5″ kraft cardstock from Papertrey Ink. I used a VersaMark watermark stamp pad and a rubber stamp from Samantha Walker’s “Butterfly Garden” (Unity Stamp Co.) set to stamp the corner floral and butterfly image. I used some American Crafts Zing! embossing powder in Bronze and my heat tool to raise the image. After my image was completely set, I wasn’t sure where to go next with this project. One thing that “bothered” me a bit, was the stark contrast with the embossed image and the kraft background. After setting it aside for a while, I returned to it and made a few changes. I used my Stampin’ Up! ticket corner punch to take the corners off. I then used some Tsukineko Memento ink in Rich Cocoa and a sponge dauber to darken the edges of the kraft cardstock. Finally, I used some Ranger Perfect Pearls Mist in Perfect Pearl to soften the effect. I sprayed the entire cardstock with a heavy coat and waited a few seconds. Then I used a paper towel and came back over the embossed image to remove the excess spray. The mist worked perfectly to soften the image–not detracting from the embossing, but filling in the starkness of the kraft background.

This was a very feminine feeling card from the get go–and I decided to go for maximum effect in that sense. I mounted the craft cardstock embossed piece on a card base made of Papertrey Ink’s Pinefeather cardstock. I used a piece of chipboard and covered it with more Pinefeather cardstock to create the base of the cameo piece. The actual plastic cameo is one the remarkable pieces done by Webster’s Pages. (If you have not checked out their fabulous embellishments, please do so. One of my personal favorites are these cameo pieces featuring ballerinas, birds, horses, butterflies, and highly sculpted female profiles.) Once I had created the base for the cameo to sit on, I knew I wanted to do pearls. Figuring out the sizes and exactly how to lay them out was a trick in itself. I ended up using Moss Green flatback pearls from Queen & Co. in three different sizes to create the frame and hand apply them one at a time.

Feeling the need to counterbalance the weight of the heavy pearl frame, I decided to use various sizes of blackened crystals from Basic Grey to highlight the centers of each of the floral elements in my embossed corner piece. The sentiment was created using Stampin’ Up!’s modern label punch and “Fabulous Phrases” stamp set. The inside watercolored journaling block is from KaiserCraft.

There’s just something about this one that makes me very happy and very creatively fulfilled.

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RANDOMONIUM:

–Don’t forget there are only nine more days to enter Giveaway #16. (See sidebar link for all the details.)
–Is anyone loving AMC’s “The Killing” as much as I am? I am in love with this show’s creative beauty and brilliant acting.
–I cannot stop listening to Adele’s brilliant “21”. It’s my pick for Album of The Year thus far.

Adored Bee…

There are certain symbols or icons that hold a place near and dear to my heart. There might be a story attached to them–other times it may just be their beauty or artistic value. Among some of my favorite things are keys, hearts, eggs, crowns, finials, maltese crosses, and bees. They make me feel. They make me smile. They compel me to study their intricacies and they inspire my crafting.

Bees are such majestic creatures. They challenge the laws of aerodynamics. Their colonies ape human society. They work fastidiously to pollinate and produce sweet, golden honey. They simply fascinate me.

Today’s card project combines two of my favorite things–bees and crowns. The rubber stamp image is part of gorgeous set entitled “All Worth It” produced by Unity Stamp Co. and designed by the talented Melody Ross. I decided to use it in conjunction with a heat embossing process.

The base cardstock is Early Espresso from Stampin’ Up! The card mat is a 4″ x 5″ piece of Kraft cardstock from Papertrey Ink. Using a Versamark pad, I stamped the image several times (in multiple directions) on the plain kraft cardstock. Next, I used my heat tool and some American Crafts’ Zing! opaque embossing powder in Blush to raise the images. After the images had set, I used a sponge dauber and some Ranger Archival Ink in Sepia to pounce over the entire design. I used a tissue to wipe away the excess ink from the embossed images.

To create the small sentiment tag, I used a stamp and die set from Papertrey Ink called “Tiny Tags”. The cardstock and ribbon for the sentiment tag are also from Papertrey Ink’s Fine Linen palette. I’m not sure that the photographs capture how well the combination of linen, brown, and blush actually work together–but they are a stunning combination.

For the inside of the card, I used a journaling block from Pink Paislee’s ‘365 Degree’ collection and a bit more of the Fine Linen 1/2″ Luxe Satin ribbon.



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In other odds & ends:

–FedEx just left a package on my doorstep: two new Cricut Imagine cartridges–Buccaneer and All Wrapped Up.
–I’m expecting another package later today with my newest Cricut cartridges: Damask Décor, Elegant Edges, Everyday Pop-Up Cards, Baby Steps, and Kate’s ABCs. (*insert the sound of my bank account whining*)
–Earlier this week, I received my new Cuttlebug (V2 aka Version 2.0). I have to say the redesign is a beauty aesthetically and practically. I love the new curved lines, the more compact platforms, and the hide-away handle. I wasn’t sure I really “needed” the update–but I’m really glad I did go for it.
–Look for Giveaway #16 to arrive by the weekend. Among other things, you’ll have a chance to win a new Cricut “Pack Your Bags” cartridge.

Live Fast And Stay Pretty…

Like the previous project I posted, this card features artwork from the Cricut ‘Groovy Times’ cartridge. There’s something about the late ’70’s that creates a deep fondness in my heart. I was definitely a disco teen and the music, the fashion and the times played out against my formative years. My high school years took me from the Disco Era to the delight of New Wave and Brit Pop. Those were the days! It’s so amazing how so many songs are attached to specific memories…and they remain with you forever. *sigh*

Fashion is a passion and I fell in love with this image. I used my Cricut Imagine and the Cricut Colors & Patterns cartridge called ‘Audrey’ to design my vision in green. It’s cut at four inches and the blue damask pattern is from ‘Audrey’. The other colors were created using Stampin’ Up! RGB codes. The cardstock used is from Papertrey Ink–Pinefeather, Fine Linen and Simply Chartreuse. The mat was embossed using my Cuttlebug and the ‘Polka Dots’ Cuttlebug folder. The corner sentiment was created using a Papertrey Ink steel die and a stamp from Close To My Heart. (The inside image is also a CTMH stamp.) The ribbon is Stampin’ Up grosgrain. The jeweled flowers are from Prima Marketing and the inside crystals are from Heidi Swapp.







Mushroomland

The mushroom has always been a motif that makes me happy. Maybe it’s a childhood memory–walking in the forest and seeing wild mushrooms and imagining that tiny elves lived inside–or the geometrical structure that appeals to the math geek in me…but, for whatever reason, I love mushrooms. (I’ll avoid discussing my Super Mario addiction for the time being…)

Today’s card project features artwork and cuts from the Cricut Imagine art cartridge titled “Nursery Tails”. (Before I go on, I suppose I need to make a confession. Yes, another one. My addictive personality has been discussed numerous times on this blog. My Cricut cartridge count now stands at 214 [and doesn’t include the new batch of Hello Thursday releases–though I’ve already ordered two of those.] When I finally caved and purchased my Cricut Imagine, I secretly hoped that I would not find it necessary to have all the Imagine cartridges. I told myself, the color and pattern cartridges would not be must-have purchases. {By now, you should see where this is heading.} Well, so much for low hopes. I currently have 21 Imagine art and colors/patterns cartridges…and want all three of the newly announced titles.)

Now the reason for this rather long confession: What am I doing with a cartridge called “Nursery Tails”? I have no children. I’m fairly certain any eggs I may have had are long scrambled (yes, this was a joke). At 45, I don’t see children in my future (much less that rascally Prince Charming)…so….why? Well, I had to have it. But, I’m telling you, the artwork and designs on this cartridge are so beyond cute and ahhh-inducing. I give “Nursery Tails” a hearty two-snaps and a shake of a gay man’s bruised existential eggs. Okay, now I’m done. I promise. To the cave, er….card.

The base cardstock for this project (and one of my go-to colors) is Papertrey Ink’s Simply Chartreuse. The card mat was cut at 4″ x 5″ from K & Co.’s “Greenhouse” paper stack. I mounted the mat on another piece of the same-sized Simply Chartreuse cardstock for added thickness as I knew I would be doing some hand-stitching on this card. I used We R Memory Keepers Sew Easy tool to punch the stitch lines in my matstack. Echoing the predominant greens and browns of the papers used, I chose to use some Papertrey Ink Baker’s Twine in Chocolate (instead of floss) to do my stitching. I like the baker’s twine as it is thicker and more rustic and makes the stitching show up more.

I used my Cricut Imagine and “Nursery Tails” to print and cut my layered artwork at 4″. The mushroom head and the butterfly wings were double cut for layering with Stampin’ Dimensionals. I also used the Dimensionals to adhere my mat stack on the card front as that keeps the back stitch work from “lumping” up the cardstock. It also, I think, carries on the three-dimensional effect of the overall card. Lastly, I used a sponge dauber and some Memento Rich Cocoa ink to add a border of color around the outside edges of my card. I was really happy with the way this one turned out. It featured so many details that I didn’t feel it necessary to add a greeting or sentiment to the card.



Giveaway #15: Freshly Picked

Once again, it was a year without snow in my part of the desert. Though, I have to say there have been many a morning where the temperature has dipped low enough to put a major chill in the air. I realize many of you have been frozen under layers of snow for more days than you care to recall. In that spirit, I thought the next giveaway should remind us that Spring is somewhere on the horizon. The cycle will start anew and gardens will be begging for new seed and tender love and care.

So to get us in that mindset, I am giving away a brand new Cricut cartridge, “Freshly Picked”, that celebrates new harvests and life’s never ending cycle. Along with the cartridge, the winner will receive a set of hand-picked embellishments and goodies to help inspire your creativity.

Now, as many of you know, most giveaways on my weblog involve nothing more than answering a random question and a bit of luck. A few giveaways ago, I tried a little word scramble contest and it really seemed to go over very well. Not only did more people participate, but I think the challenge was fun. So, I’m going to do it again. The theme for this contest is “Herbs & Spices” as a nod to “Freshly Picked”.

Below, you’ll find a list of the names of ten (10) herbs and/or spices that have been dropped off the produce shelves and are a bit worse for the wear. Each one has been scrambled up and it’s your job to help put things back in order. For instance, say you were given the following string of letters: be a flay. With a little re-arranging, “be a flay” becomes “bay leaf”.

The person with the most correct responses will be declared the winner. If more than one person solves them all, then the winner will be determined by a random draw of the names of all those who solved the puzzle. To submit your entry, send your list of answers via the e-mail link (“contact me”) on the sidebar by the contest deadline of Monday, February 7, 2011 at 12:00 a.m. MST. One entry per person please (and no sharing of answers, lol).

01. my sorer a
02. red navel
03. cedar iron
04. died well
05. karma clad comb
06. lamer songs
07. no rag rat
08. legal in
09. love me banner
10. orders his ah

*Super Bonus*
11. cheaper pinups