Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Photo of the Week

Another photo from our trip to California in December! This one was taken by Alex on a trip to Target with her Auntie Emily (Joe's sister) and family. I love Holly's "I'm so bored with all your shanigans" look on her face! Of course, you can't help but laugh at Em's sideways pose. I hope the excitement of this photo brightens your week :)

New Jewelry from Etsy...I'm in love!

For some folks, Ebay or Craigslist are very dangerous but for me, nothing is more dangerous than Etsy! If you are a crafter on any level or you love handmade items, this is the place for you because everything on the site is either handmade or can be used to make handmade items. Besides paper, sterling silver jewelry is a weakness for me (big reason why I sell Silpada!) I love unusual, well-crafted, good quality sterling silver jewelry and the piece I received in the mail today certainly met those qualifications. The ring, called Silver Tempest, was designed by Alicia Istanbul of Istanbul Designs and is just lovely.
The ring is made of sterling silver oxidized wire and will go nicely with several of the oxidized pieces I have from Silpada. Some of the pieces on Alica's site are a bit pricier than others (this ring was only $38.00!) but the beauty of the craftsmanship is worth it.

I loved the packaging Alicia sent the ring in and she included a lovely thank you note and this pair of earrings for free! They're a bit small for me since I tend to like chunkier pieces but they're simple and classy. If you enjoy sterling silver jewelry, I highly recommend visiting Alicia's shop on Etsy and seeing what she has to offer. Happy shopping!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Gate Fold Card

I finally got out my new light tent and started playing with it...can you see the difference in my photos already? I have no clue what I'm doing with the tent or my new camera but I figure I'm staving off Alzheimer's by teaching myself how to use this stuff! Ha! This is a simple card I designed for the German ladies at my church using the gate fold. Felicia Escalante, one of the SU! demos in Ramstein, taught our demo group how to do this simple card fold but I never went back and played with the design. What an easy way to make cards!

Aren't these flowers perfect with the American Crafts designer paper? I picked up the felt flowers at Globus, a local store similar to Target. Germans have interesting and fun decorations for various holidays and these flowers were part of their current Easter/spring decorations available. I paid 1.99 euros for 30 flowers, which isn't a bad price. I used a pop-up glue dot to ensure that the flower is stuck to my card for good! Here's a basic how-to:

1. Cut cardstock 4" x 8"

2. Score the 8" length at 2" and 6" (the Scor-Pal makes this quick and easy)

3. Using your Scor-tool or bone folder, fold the card in at the two scores, making a folded 4" x 4" card.

4. Decorate and embellish!

Size Variations: 3"x6" card-Cut 6"x6" cardstock and score at 1 1/2" and 4 1/2"

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Scissor Charms

A few months ago I participated in a swap and discovered that just about everyone I craft with has the same scissors! Most of the folks I craft with are either SU! demos or purchase SU! products and so most of us own paper snips and/or craft and rubber scissors, which is fantastic until you put your scissors down on the table and don't know which ones are yours. My friend Tasha told me about a seller on Etsy who sold scissor charms so I thought I'd check it out.
This is the charm I found on Etsy. Unfortunately, I can't find the seller anymore but there are others on Etsy who also sell charms, some of them quite elaborate. (Note: I have since found the seller information. Visit CarrieMe on Etsy to order a personalized scissor charm for only $6.00)The seller I originally purchased through allowed me to select the colors and type of charm I wanted. I loved the fact that she made me a stamped cow charm using polyshrink!

I decided to try my hand at making my own, ordering beads, phone toggles, and charms from Fusion Beads, Joann, and Oriental Trading Company. This is one of my favorites, with a "good luck" kitty on it. I'm not one for luck but you've probably seen these cats on the counters of many Asian food restaurants or stores. There's a restaurant in Fresno, CA called Shanghai that has some of my favorite Chinese food and they have a golden cat sitting on the counter and the paw moves up and down mechanically. I took delight in harassing my mom one night while waiting for an order, repeatedly poking her in the arm and saying, "Mom, wave to the kitty!" It kind of stuck and we make jokes about it now. I even bought one for my mom from Chinatown in London. So if my mom is reading this, "Mom, wave to the kitty!" Ha!

Okay, so I love cows! I could resist making myself another cow charm, especially since I have so many pairs of scissors.

This is for my friend, Melissa. Melissa, if you're reading this, close your eyes and pretend you didn't see it! The original charm cost me $6.00 plus s/h and I'd say that $3.00 to $6.00 is a good estimate on cost for handmaking your own if you use good charms and are having to pay shipping for your supplies. You can obviously make them much simpler, with just one strand of beading. For those of you located in Germany, Listmann's, Hela, Toom Baumarkt, and Bastel Ecke (Landstuhl) are good places to check for beads and charms. Happy crafting!

The Winner is....

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers: 6
Timestamp: 2009-03-29 11:01:53 UTC

I assigned a number to each person who left a posting for me for the free Papertrey Ink stamps and then entered them into a Random Integer Generator to try and make the selection of the winner as fair as possible. And the winner is...............Nancy Williams! Congratulations to Nancy for being the winner and I thank everyone who played along and left me blog suggestions. I've already visited a few of them and been inspired. Everyone's crafting styles are so different and I tend to get a bit stagnant in my crafting so I appreciate seeing what other crafters are doing. I'll be posting some projects based on your suggestions in the coming weeks so be sure to stop back by!

Cracked Glass Technique

The cracked glass technique has been around for quite some time but is a technique that I never played around with much. While trolling around my list of blogs looking for ideas using the new SU! circle scissors I came across a beautiful card by Beate Johns using this technique and decided to give it another whirl. Beate's cards are always beautifully layered and detailed, using color combinations that challenge me to be more creative. Here's a simple how-to:

1. Stamp image on cardstock, doing any distressing or detailing before going on to the next step. (I distressed the cardstock edges, sponged the image with ink, and added the pierced holes)
2. Press your cardstock image onto a Versamark pad, thoroughly covering the paper.
3. Sprinkle UTEE or SU! Glassy Glaze over the cardstock, tapping off any excess.
4. Heat the image until the glaze is melted.
5. Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4
6. Place image in a plate in your freezer until well chilled.
7. Remove cardstock from freezer and bend paper, creating the crackling effect in the glaze.

You can see the cracked detailing a bit better here. You can also sponge over the image to work ink into the cracked glaze to give it a vintage look. My card isn't nearly as stunning as Beate's card but I'm still pretty proud of it! I hope this inspires you to try this technique.

Supplies: SU! Not Quite Navy, Shimmer White, and Baja Breeze cardstock, SU! Urban Garden Designer Series Paper, SU! Not Quite Navy and Baja Breeze Classic Ink, Versamark, SU! Scallop Edge, 3/4" circle, Boho Blossoms, small oval, and large oval punches, paper piercer, SU! Circle Scissors, SU! Glassy Glaze, K & Company adhesive pearls, cotton thread (Listmann's), sponge, Scor-Pal, heat embossing tool, and dimensionals

Monday, March 23, 2009

Valentine's Day Card

I'm starting to get caught up! This was one of the cards completed by my stamp club in January (okay, so it's two months overdue!) I originally case'd this from a stamper on Splitcoast and didn't keep track of the link for it. I really need to do a better job of that because I hate for crafters to not get credit for their work. :( Yet another Big Shot project, this card features the lovely scalloped envelope die and a monochromatic pink scheme. The SU! Love You Much bundle, which came with a punch, designer paper, and a stamp set, was a big hit with me this year, especially the punch. Most anyone who has seen my craft room knows about my passion for craft punches! I hope you enjoy the card and Happy Valentine's Day in March...ha!

Supplies: SU! Shimmer White, Pirouette Pink, and Regal Rose card stock, SU! Regal Rose Classic ink, SU! Love You Much stamp set, SU! heart, scallop, and 1 3/8" punches, 3/8" white satin ribbon, three-way glue pen, Dazzling Diamonds glitter, Michael's Dollar Spot pink sparkle gemstones, Big Shot Scallop Envelope die, and dimensionals

Free Papertrey Ink Stamps!

This is overdue as I promised to post this last week but better late than never! (I think this is my life mantra since everything I do always seems to be late!) Recently I put in an order for Papertrey Ink stamps and accidentally ordered two of the Out on a Limb Sentiments stamp set. Rather than go to all the trouble to return the set, I thought I'd do a drawing and give it away for free! Here's what you've gotta do to be entered in the drawing: respond to this posting with a link to your favorite crafting blog or online craft store and tell me why it's your favorite. It can't be something already listed on my blog...it has to be something new and exciting! Your name will be entered in the drawing and I'll have my hubby draw a name by Sunday. Can't wait to read your posts and who knows, maybe I'll offer more than one prize if the responses are REALLY good!

A Little Embellishment

I have an ongoing love affair with anything paper and journals are no exception. Journaling can be sporadic for me but I enjoy keeping a journal and writing random thoughts or keeping lists of things that I want to remember. For me, it's like spring cleaning for the mind! Alex also loves journaling and has quite the stash of binders and journals overflowing one of her drawers in her bedroom, filled with crazy stories and doodles. I bought this journal as a gift to have on hand but never seem to remember to give it to anyone! In the midst of my recent craft room/office purge, Alex zeroed in on the journal and begged to have it. I promised her the journal as long as she would let me add a little embellishment to it to personalize it just for her and this is the finished product. It took just a few minutes to complete (gotta love the Cricut!) and got to play with my new eyelet lace border punch in the process. Imagine the possibilities for inexpensive gifts you could have on hand for special occasions: a simple embellishment for a recipe book, journal, art book, prayer journal, and more. Most dollar stores carry cute notebooks that just need a bit of personal touch and you've created something special for someone you care about without breaking the bank.
I also think that for those of us who craft, we get carried away with trying to make really elaborate projects and sometimes don't craft because the projects we select are too time consuming. I'm not saying that you shouldn't do those types of projects because they are very rewarding: just don't deny yourself the satisfaction of simpler projects or you'll end up with craft supplies collecting dust! Happy crafting!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Photo of the Week

I'm discovering I have some favorites among our recent photos that would be worth sharing and this one fell into the "favorite" catagory. For those of you who don't know my background, Joe and I met in high school at the restaurant shown in the picture, later marrying at the ripe old ages of 18 and 19. Ah, the glory days of working in a fast food restaurant! Who knew that selling hamburgers could lead to true love :) We thought it would be fun to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary at the place that started it all (I can hear some of you laughing as you read this so be nice!) plus it was a cheap way to celebrate our anniversary and see everybody at the same time. Anyway, Joe's mom loves to take photos and I managed to capture this priceless look on Joe's face as she got up close and personal with her camera. What a hoot!

Chalkboard Technique

I finally bought a light tent! Why, you may ask? Look at how dark and fuzzy this photo is and you don't even need to ask. I'd really like to take some photography classes but in the meantime I can use a light tent to take clearer photos of my projects so that perhaps my blog will be a bit more professional looking.

This is a card I did for a workshop quite some time ago and apparently never posted. The Chalkboard Technique is very simple: stamp your image on cardstock using a thick pigment ink such as SU! Craft ink. For this card I used white Craft ink on a chocolate chip background. Using sponge daubers, dot desired color of chalk over the image so that the chalk adheres to the image but doesn't smear it. Lightly wipe a dry Swiffer pad over the chalked image to remove excess chalk and set the image. The photo just doesn't do the card justice as you can't see all the paper piercing and layering details clearly. If you want to see a similar example from the source that I CASE'd this card from, visit Beate Johns blog (the link is listed on the right of my blog page). Happy crafting!

Gifts for Marilyn and a few musings

It's March and I'm STILL working on uploading all my projects from December! Despite the madness of traveling from Germany to California and back (as you can attest from my previous blog post) we had a terrific time while we were home. As I mentioned previously, we hadn't been home in four-and-a-half years and while Joe has been back to the States for training, the kids and I haven't visited since 2004 so it was interesting to see how things have changed. Some things were the same (clam chowder in a sour dough bowl at Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey is still fabulous and did I mention See's candy?) but other things like the mass commercialism of strip malls that plague California are a sad sight to see, especially in light of the current state of our economy which is partially due to massive credit card debt. What's funny living overseas around so many Americans is the way some people talk about things in the States with a sort of hushed reverence, "Target, do you remember how wonderful Target is?" almost as though Target was a deity. Believe me, I spent my fair share of time (and money) in Target over the holidays and I loved every minute but it also made me realize how much I enjoy the opportunities I have living overseas. We were in Williams-Sonoma one night and I laughed to see some of the pricey "gourmet" food items available for inflated prices, as some of them are just regular items you can buy at any grocery store overseas. "Fleur de Sel" which is a specialty French sea salt, was $10.00 for a 2 oz. jar at a gourmet store and I purchased a 1 kilo bag at a German Weihnachtsmarkt for 5 euros! Anyway, there are times when it is difficult living so far from home but when I realize how many wonderful opportunities I have right where I live, it makes me long for the conveniences of home just a little less and appreciate things like living four hours away from the Eiffel Tower just a bit more.
Okay, musings are done! The goodies shown are gifts I gave to Marilyn, my dear friend whom I've known a short time but who has been such a blessing to me. Marilyn and her husband drove our family to Frankfurt at oh-dark-thirty to make our flight to California, watered all my plants while we were gone, and cooked us a lovely dinner/re-stocked my fridge when we came back from our trip, so the least I could do was make her a lovely gift as a thank you/Christmas gift. The top photo shows a small wrought iron rack I purchased at Nanu Nana, a quirky store in downtown Kaiserslautern that sells an interesting menage of decorator and gift items. I raided my hoard of Das Depot satin ribbon and loaded the top with lots of pretty bows and used last year's Stampin' Up! Christmas gift wrap to wrap a few craft supplies I picked up in California. I have a similar rack and love to use it for holding baked goods or silverware and napkins when I entertain.
The jar you see has a bit of a funny history. There's a village about 20 minutes from our house that hosts a good-sized flea market on the first Saturday of every month. I love going to this flea market because it's such a hodge-podge of traditional German wares like baskets, antiques, collectible toys, all thrown in with your typical flea market/swap meet type stuff for sale. Last November, Joe took me on a date to the Homburg flea market and I kept seeing these French canning jars which were about 50 euro cents a piece. I knew I could do something cool and crafty with them, so I started purchasing a few here and there. My sweet hubby ended up lugging around 30 glass canning jars for me, even going so far as to take a load all the way back to the car to empty some of the jars so I could buy more. The front of the jar has a pretty raised insignia with the name of the French company that makes them. I altered Marilyn's jar with velvet ribbon around the rim, and printed the tag on the computer. I had a few leftover scraps from the SU! Bella Rose Designer Paper pack that were perfect for the lid and behind the tag.

It's difficult to see in this photo but I added Cotton Candy Stickles to the flowers for some added bling and a pearl center to the main flower on the lid, with a few dimensionals to add some depth to the top. You have to be careful where the tag is placed on the jar so that it doesn't get damaged every time the jar is opened. The jar is stocked with Marilyn's favorite Toblerone so I knew the jar had to withstand alot of opening and closing...Ha! The gifts may not be the most expensive or exciting things she's ever received but giving the gift of something handmade is giving a little piece of yourself to someone else and that can be more precious than something more costly.
Thanks for reading my lengthy post and I hope this project inspires you to look around at thrift shops and dig in your cupboards for items you can revitalize with a few embellishments or a touch of paint to make into a special gift for someone.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tales of a Ten-Hour Layover

So I'm finally sorting through all my photos from our trip to California in December! Amazing, I know! It was our first time traveling home in four-and-a-half years and the grueling schedule of trying to get to California reminded me all over again why I DO NOT fly home every year. Let me give you a brief synopsis of our travels up to the time of this now infamous layover. We flew from Frankfurt to Chicago, having been up a total of 13 hours at that juncture. The layover time between our flight to Los Angeles from Chicago was not long enough for us to make it through customs and security AND to our next gate so we spent almost five hours in Chicago before taking the last flight out to L.A. Upon our arrival in L.A. at 11:20 p.m., United told us we had two options: get a hotel and come back at 6 a.m. to check in and go through security all over again or stay in the airport. We opted to stay in the airport and when we looked around us, the airport was completely deserted except two other folks from our flight who were sacked out at the gate. Exhausted, I plopped my stuff down in front of a row of chairs and passed out until 3 a.m. When I woke up, Joe and the kids were STILL awake and happily gaming on their various electronic devices. After using the little girls room, I began to document our adventures in LAX. The picture above is a happy picture of my little gerbils behind the gate counter at United. Come fly with us! (Don't you just love how happy Jordan looks?!)

Okay, I loaded the photos in the wrong order. This is at about 8 a.m. when I've put my make-up back on, breakfasted thoroughly (and expensively) at Starbucks, and am perusing my iTunes list.

The kids did alot of this while we were in the airport. There was hardly anyone in the airport while we were there so we helped ourselves to their electrical outlets to keep everyone fully charged and functional. Since United wouldn't pay to put us in a hotel, the least they could do was give us a little free electricity!

Ahhh, the lovely sunrise over Los Angeles!

This is where things were a little crazy! We spent about 45 minutes playing with my neck rest. There was a wild game of catch and keep away from Jordan, as well as an entire series of photos on what Jordan could do creatively with it. This is one of his more stylish poses.
Below, Joe is despairing over the fact that Starbucks is not open at 4:30 a.m.! When they did open later, we ended up spending almost $60 in the store on breakfast coffee/hot chocolate/food and a lovely mug to commemorate our special time in the airport.

It's a shame this photo didn't come out clearer because it's a hoot! After I woke up a bit, we discovered that the gate we were camped out at wasn't the gate we were leaving from so we decided to move. While walking through the airport towards the right gate, we realized that we pretty much had a run of the place and could do what we wanted. This is gonna sound crazy but I literally dropped my stuff in the hallway and rolled across the floor. For about two hours we just played in the hall. This is Joe's wild flight of fancy, playing "Super Joe!" Exhaustion made us extra giddy so we chased each other around, the kids took off their shoes and slid across the floors, and we probably entertained whomever was manning the security cameras that night. How many people can say they had the run of an international airport for ten hours?

I got down on the floor and took a photo of Jordan during one of his sliding moments.

The most insane aspect of this entire adventure was the fact that we could have driven home in four hours if we could have found a car rental place that was open! I have lots more photos from our adventure in LAX but thought I'd give you just a taste of our unique travels over the Christmas holiday. I'm so thankful that I have a family capable of seeing a bad situation and turning it into something memorable. Until next time!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Big Shot Projects Part Two

As promised, here is part two of my recent escapades using the Big Shot. (Gasp! I know you're all in shock that I've actually remembered to blog the second part. I'm getting better little by little) Here's the horrible part: I can't remember the blog where I found the inspiration for this project! Once I find it, I'll edit the blog to include the proper credit for this project but in the meantime I thank the currently nameless person who designed this adorable box.

Part two also utilizes the Top Note Bigz Die, with two dies cut for the lid and the base. The size is such that you can create four of the same template from one standard 8 1/2 x 11" sheet of cardstock=two lids/bases for two boxes.

Here is a side view of the box, where you can see the lid lifting up. The lid is attached, similar to that of a pizza box or those gift boxes of Lifesavers you can buy during the holidays. The design can be shifted so that the box is in the portrait position as well. The free Sale-A-Bration set "Yummy" stamps perfectly within the design of the cut piece. Another marketing ploy by SU! that sucked me in!

Here's the open view, with some custom made crinkle confetti and an owl keychain I purchased for one of my stamp clubbers who loves owls. This is a terrific box for a gift card, homemade bar of soap, jewelry, or any small item.
As soon as I get past my Alzheimer's moment and remember the site where I found this idea, I'll be sure I add it as it has great step-by-step instructions on how to make this box. I have an exciting stamp set giveaway this week so be sure to log in to my blog later this week for how to win the set. Tschuss!
Supplies: SU! Certainly Celery Classic Ink, SU! Certainly Celery, textured Bashful Blue, and Kraft cardstock, SU! Delicate Dots DSP (SAB), SU! Yummy stamp set (SAB), SU! So Saffron grosgrain ribbon (SAB), Sizzix Top Note Bigz die, Big Shot die cut machine, Scor-Pal, cotton twine (Listmann's-Germany), K&Company adhesive pearls (impressrubberstamps.com), Scor-tape,

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sale-A-Bration Big Shot Projects Part One

Sale-A-Bration is here again! For those of us addicted to Stampin' Up! products, Sale-A-Bration (SAB) is our favorite time of year as it gives us an opportunity to earn crafting freebies for every $50.00 spent. In today's economy, who doesn't love freebies?! My club projects this month have focused on the free products offered during SAB, as well as my favorite new tool: the Big Shot! My wonderful husband purchased the Big Shot for me as an anniversary gift.
I'm so spoiled!

Part one of the SAB Big Shot projects this month is the adorable Thanks A Bunch gift bag, inspired by Angi Kennedy Juda Click on her name and this will link you directly to a fantastic step-by-step video tutorial on how to complete this project. You'll also notice the unusual accordion flower located on the front of the bag. You can visit my Stampin' Up! website and download the SAB catalog to view instructions on making the flower. This bag is perfect for a luncheon or baby shower party favor!
Supplies: SU! Baroque Motifs and A Little Somethin' stamp sets, SU! Certainly Celery, Whisper White cardstock, SU! Bashful Blue and Certainly Celery Classic Ink, SU! Delicate Dots SAB Designer Paper, Big Shot Top Notz die, SU! scallop and large circle punches, SU! So Saffron SAB grosgrain ribbon, blender pen, Pop Up glue dots, adhesive, rhinestone flower, white lunch bag, natural wood confetti

Number of cows visiting my pasture...


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