Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Let's Talk Tools

Hey everybody! Did you miss me? Heehee. My sister-in-law is still visiting so I haven't been able to get into my craft room/spare bedroom but I thought we could could still chat about crafty things. So let's talk tools!

I've been asked about the basic tools of cardmaking, and after much deliberation, I was finally able to whittle my list down to my top 5 essential tools that I absolutely could not craft without. So here they are.

#1. Self-healing Cutting Mat

At Christmastime last year, when I was making my famous wishlist of supplies for my husband, having decided to venture into the world of papercrafting, this was at the tippy top of my list. There are a number of self-healing cutting mats on the market and I think they pretty much all do the same thing, so brand doesn't really matter. I chose this one from Martha Stewart Crafts for myself, because it came in a three pack at around the same price for a single and he could use a coupon at Michaels for it. Also, my office is kind of a vintage ice blue and taupey gray, so it matches. ;o)

#2. Paper Trimmer

Newbie or would-be card makers, save yourself the hassle and the uneven cuts you'd get with scissors and get yourself a paper trimmer. There's just no comparison if you want your cards to look professional. My first paper trimmer was a Fiskars, that was on clearance super cheap -- I now know why. It was discontinued, and the blades can no longer be found! About a month ago, realizing that my blade was dull and knowing that I would have to invest in another, I started researching. And researching, and researching. Because that's how I am. I don't like to waste my hard-earned, heavily budgeted cash on something that isn't going to work well. I finally settled on this one from Fiskars (also highly recommended by Jennifer McGuire, among others) and I could not be more pleased with it. It's sturdy, lightweight, and makes a perfectly straight cut every time. I love that I can line up the guide wire so I know exactly where I am cutting. I also love that I could get it at my local A.C. Moore with a 50% off coupon! Came to a whopping total of $15. Worth every penny and then some.

#3. Paper snips (small scissors)

Nothing cuts out fine detail like a good pair of small scissors. I personally love these black-and-yellow striped pair from Cutterbee. I use them on pretty much every card, and they still seem to be as sharp as when I got them for Christmas. They're comfortable, they cut through adhesive like a dream and never get gummed up. They also come with a snug-fitting safety cover, which is great if you've got little kids around like I do.

I later invested in the pink handled pair (which will get gummed up with adhesive) to use as ribbon scissors. But since I'm sticking to the top 5 tools, we'll leave those out for now.

#4. Craft knife/X-acto knife

Let's face it. Sometimes you need to cut in a place where your trimmer and paper scissors can't go. A window, on the front of your card, for example. For this you will need a craft knife. I prefer one with a retractable blade because I have small children and also because I have an intense fear of super-sharp objects. Again, there are a number of these on the market, all of which basically do the same thing. I've heard good things about Tim Holtz's, but I have this one from Cutterbee and it works just fine. And it matches my office. ;o)

#5 Tape-runner adhesive

If you want a quick, clean, and easy way to adhere your paper and embellishments to your card surface, tape-runner adhesive is a wonder to behold. It's like the sticky part of tape without the actual "tape." Lol. I've tried a few different ones before latching on to this one, which I absolutely love. It's Tombow Mono's Dot Runner adhesive. It's the turquoise one, not the blue (regular permanant) or the green (removable). What's different about this one is that the glue is distributed in little dots, which only go where the paper or surface goes. With the regular blue adhesive, it comes in a solid strip, and if you run over the edge by accident (easy to do) the glue runs over the edge too, and you have to fold it back or worry about it sticking all over your mat. The body of the tools are all interchangable, so I actually just kept my original blue body (half of the tool) and snapped the turquoise dot refill half in. Since I won't go back to the blue, I don't have to worry about getting them mixed up.

I also have the green for times when you need removable, but we'll save that for another post as well.

So there you have it -- my top five essential tools list. It was really hard to limit it to just five, believe me. If I had space for just one more, that would of course be a bone folder. That will definitely be on the top of my next 5 essentials list.

I hope you all are having a wonderful week! Looking forward to coming back with a card in the near future!

Friday, July 23, 2010

In My Heart And Thoughts

Hey everyone! I can't believe that Friday is finally here! I go to work at five, and then head straight to the airport after. Tina's plane arrives around 10:30 tonight! I'm really excited to see her, but there's still a lot left to do to get ready for her. My husband is taking off the second half of his workday, so he can run to Sam's and pick up croissants (which I know she likes) for breakfast tomorrow morning. I want to cut some flowers and put a little vase in her room, clear off my desk -- yet again -- from the card I made late last night. Vaccuum. Freshen the sheets. Little things like that.

Anyway, I heard yesterday that a friend is having a few minor health problems, so I wanted to make a card to cheer her up. Think this little guy will do the trick?

I picked up this stamp set by Penny Black yesterday evening at the one and only local scrapbooking store in our area (aside from the chains). I'd gone there to pick up one stamp I ordered, and came home with this set as well. It's called "Hugs" and it's got lots of really sweet images.

I colored the little hedgehog with Copics: E51, E31, and E33, C-1, and C-3, R20, G20, G21, G24, R24, R27, and YR04, B02, B04, BG10, and Y15. I gave him some grass, then dotted it with dandelions with the tip of my Y15.

The sentiment is also from the same set. I stamped it in StazOn (my Memento Tuxedo Black is drying out) and mounted both sentiment and image on some blue Georgia Pacific cardstock.

I chose some red dotty paper from My Mind's Eye and punched the bottom with my Fiskar's threading water punch. I layered some green vine paper from the same collection underneath for a little color contrast. All this was adheared to white Bazzill cardstock.

Isn't this ribbon great? It's from one of the dollar bins at Michaels. The company listed is Studio 18. Don't think I've ever heard of them before. Anyway, I tied that in a bow at the top, then added my elements. I popped off the image with dimentional adhesive, and the right side of the sentiment as well. The left side I adhered with regular Tombow Mono dot roller to keep it the same height as the image.

I hope you enjoyed my card for today! Talk to you girls again soon!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Welcome Little One - The Stampingbug Color Challenge

Hey everyone! How are you this fine Wednesday morning? I'm still scrambling to get everything ready for Tina's visit, but I haven't quite hit panic mode -- yet. That will come tomorrow. Lol. I always seem to get the most done when it's just before a deadline. I wonder why that is?

Anyway, I took a break last night to make a card for a friend who just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. I saw this free digi from Pollycraft, he's called Cuthbert with Balloons, and thought he'd make a darling welcome baby image.

I started by coloring him with Copics. I used B31, B33, B25, and B27, G20, G21, and G24, and BG10, and BG13. R20 for his cheeks and ears. I chose these colors to coincide with a color challenge over at The Stampingbug blog. Instantly, when I saw them, I thought they'd be great for a baby boy card, which I just so happened to need at the moment. Perfect!

I cut Cuthbert out and backed him directly onto some cloud paper from American Crafts. Then I chose a sentiment from Studio G and stamped it next to him using my favorite -- Colorbox Fluid Chalk ink in Chestnut Roan. I wanted to keep this card relatively flat, since it will be going in the mail, but it needed some dimention so I popped off the clouds onto a great plaid from Little Yellow Bicycle that I'd trimmed down for my card front. Rather than cut some grass from paper, I decided to try out this ruffle-and-staple technique with ribbon. I used the same Pure Color celedon grosgrain ribbon from my froggie card on Monday.

I adhered the finished piece to some chocolate colored Bazzill cardstock, then added a few buttons from my great-grandma's stash with embroidery thread and mini glue dots. I think it turned out pretty cute, don't you?

Thank you all so much for stopping by! Your sweet comments mean so much to me, so thank you. Have a wonderful day!

To take part in The Stamping Bug challenge, go to:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Froggie For You

Hello everyone! It's a brand-new start to a brand-new week. I hope it brings good things for all of us! On Friday, it will bring me my sister-in-law Tina from Germany. I can't wait! I'm so excited to see her.

I've been working on getting her room ready all weekend, that is, when I wasn't working working. And I thought it would be nice to leave her a little card of welcome on the table with a few trial sized shampoos and lotions. I got inspired by this adorable little digi stamp freebie from Pollycraft. He just makes me smile. :o)

I colored him in with Copics G20, G21, G24, and YG03, blending as usual, then went back over with the very tip of my markers to give him that spotted reptilian look. ;o) His shirt I colored with B04 and B02, and YR04 and Y38. The flower pot was a mixture of E00, E31, E33, and E50, and the flowers were colored with R20, R22, and R24, with Y15 for the centers. I used the same greens for the grass and leaves as I did for the frog, minus the G20.

I matted him with bright blue Georgia Pacific cardstock, and then green polkadot paper from My Mind's Eye. I chose sky blue cardstock from Bazzill as my base, and a gorgeous stripey pattern from Basic Grey. I LOVE that paper. It's from their Marrakesh line, and I have got to pick up some more of that. It'd be great for all kinds of masculine cards.

For my last step, I wrapped some Pure Color grosgrain ribbon around the card, securing it to the front with red tacky tape. I did it just a tiny bit loose because I knew I wanted to tie the buttons on and it would need a little wiggle room to make the gathers. I mounted Mr. Froggie over top of the ribbon seams with dimentional adhesive, then tied on two brown buttons with embroidery thread. I looped them down through two of the button holes, wrapped the thread around the back of the ribbon, then brought the ends back up through the remaining two button holes and tied them off. For the one on the right, I also strung on the sentiment, which was part of a free stamp set that came with Cardmaking & Papercrafting magazine a few issues back. I just stamped it out and paper pieced a hole and threaded it through before I tied the knot.

And that's it! I hope you enjoyed my little card today! Check out the Pollycraft blog when you get a chance. She does a freebie every Friday!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Life Is Beautiful

Happy Thursday, everyone! How are you all doing today? I haven't had much time for getting crafty this week, though I have been spending a lot of time in my office. My office is actually our spare bedroom, which we also put my lovely rolltop writing desk in so that I would have a quiet (relatively) space to spin my stories. When I started papercrafting early this year, I had to do it on the floor, because I didn't want to ruin my beautiful desk. Then about a month or so ago, my husband found a good deal on a table that matched my desk (all from Sam's) so we put that in there as well. So it's my office/craft room/spare bedroom. As I'm sure you can imagine, papercrafting tends to grow and migrate like a vine, quickly eating up any free space it's given. Trouble is, my sister-in-law is coming to visit from Germany next weekend, and she needs a place to sleep! So I've been busy cleaning, purging (papers, not supplies, my writer's group leader likes to give out a LOT of handouts), organizing, and sprucing all week.

Today, however, I was wandering around the house picking up as I dialed my brother-in-law's number in Germany to wish him a happy birthday, and when he answered I sat down on the nearest chair, which happened to be at my papercrafting table. As we talked, I picked up a punch and started punching some shapes and before I knew it I was assembling a little flower. He passed me on to my sister-in-law (his wife, not the one who is coming) and by the time I hung up I had pretty much completed a card! It was kinda nice to just create something off-the-cuff like that, without really planning anything out. Here it is:

As I said, I started with a flower punch by E.K. Success, and punched out five layers (only used 4) from some patterned paper by K&Company -- their bridal mat pack, which was the only paper pad on my table. I curled the petals with my thumb, then paper-pierced a hole in the center and put a brad through to hold it together. I smushed down a yellow button in the center with a glue dot.

I chose another green lacy pattern from the pad, and used a piece of leftover pink print (DCWV - The Sweet Stack) from the birthday card I made last week. It had bright pink glitter all around the edges, but I didn't think that it really went with the shabby chic style of the flower, so I cut my piece to cover the card (white Bazzill) from the middle. I cut a smaller square from the green lacey paper and rounded the top corners with my new We R Memory Keepers corner chomper (Yay! It just arrived last weekend), then added some adhesive ribbon from K.I. Memories.

I first wrote "Happy Birthday" across the bottom, but I didn't like the way it looked, so I cut yet another piece of patterned paper from that pad and stamped "Life Is Beautiful" and a little flower flourish from Studio G in Colorbox Fluid Chalk ink in Chestnut Roan.

Then I attached the flower over the ribbon with glue dots, and popped that green piece off with dimentional adhesive. For a finishing touch, I drew a small dot line all around the green paper to tie in those polkadots and break up the pink background a little. And lastly, I rounded the bottom corners with the Corner Chomper (yay, again!).

Well, I hope you enjoyed my card for today! It's not something that's typically my style, but I can think of a few people who might enjoy it, so I'll be sending it (or more likely, hand-delivering with that bulky flower) to one of them in the near future. Have a great night!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Swinging By To Say "Hi"

Hey everyone! How are you today? I'm feeling a little down, myself, so I thought it would be the perfect day to share this cheery card I made over the weekend. This card will be going to a special little girl named Grace, who lost her twin sister Ellie to cancer earlier this month. You may remember that I blogged about Grace and Ellie's story a few posts ago. Jennifer McGuire is graciously hosting a Cards For Kids drive for Grace, and she asked for light, cheerful cards that will bring smiles. This was my first attempt.

I started with some white Bazzill cardstock which I folded into a standard sized card. I covered the entire front with a bold floral print from My Mind's Eye that I never thought I'd use -- too flashy and colorful for my taste. But by layering that under a monochromatic green vine pattern from the same pad, I thought it gave just enough liveliness without being completely overbearing.

I darkened the vines with Copic marker G21 (lime green) and added some grass to the bottom, accenting it with a brown Zig marker. I cut out one of the vines and popped it off with dimentional adhesive. Then I added two sweet, little, googly-eyed, cardstock monkeys from K&Company, which I picked up in a kit of half monkeys and half other creatures (including a fox, panda, bear, cat, bees, and a robot among others) for $3 at Walmart. There were about 24 in total -- a good bang for your buck. Wrote out a sentiment and mounted it on some dark coral cardstock.

Well, I'm off to work! I hope you all have a great evening. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sleepy Knitty Kitty

Happy Friday, everyone! Are you ready for the weekend? As usual, I have to work tonight, but my dad and step-mom have invited the boys for a sleepover so hubby is going to pick me up after work and we might go to a late movie or something. He's been wanting to see the A-Team.

Before I head out, I wanted to share one last knitting themed card from the set I made for my friend. I thought this one turned out super cute.

The stamp is called "sleeping kitty" from Stampendous, and I just couldn't resist this little guy. I colored him with Copics to resemble a kitty from my childhood, the infamous Orange Peel Hawkeye Superkitty. Now that was a cat! I blew up an extra of the image I used in yesterday's post and cut out the ball of yarn and added that under his paw.

To assemble the card, I started with some cream Bazzill cardstock, and covered it almost completely with this great sketched flower patterned paper from American crafts. I used the blue flipside for some matting, and a sheet from K&Comany's Citronella 4x6 stack directly under the kitty. Love that lemony yellow! And what kitty doesn't love to sleep in the sun? I attached this with dimentionals.

I used another little strip of each of those to mat my sentiment, which I wrote by hand with a black Pilot pen, "eat, sleep, knit" to continue the theme that my friend had requested, and adhered that directly to the card.

For the final touch, I cut two tiny slits in the fold of the card and threaded through some cheapie $.50 pale turquoise ribbon from A.C. Moore. I forget the brand. I tied those in little bows and stuck a mini glue dot behind the knots to hold them in place.

I hope you like it! Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Nothing Warms The Heart Like A...

Hello, girls! How are you tonight? I thought I'd share another card in the knitting-themed set I made for a friend. The image is another vintage children's coloring page which I turned my Copics loose on, the sentiment one I typed up myself on my computer and printed out. What do you think?

There are things about this card that I love, and things that I don't so much. I couldn't seem to get the image sized the way I wanted, so it ended up taking up most of the card front. I colored the image with Copics, as I said, too many to remember so late at night. ;o) The background I filled in with R20, then added a dot pattern to resemble wallpaper.

I folded some pink Bazzill cardstock for my base, then added more paper from the K&Company designer mat pack I mentioned in yesterday's post. It needed some embellishment, so I chose two prima flowers and added buttons from my great-grandmother's collection, threaded with some white embroidery string. I cut up some velvety green rickrack to make stems and leaves, attaching it to the card with Tombow Mono Multi Glue.

It's not bad, I guess, but it seems a little off-balance. Hmm. Oh well. She was happy with it.

Changing the subject completely, have you guys seen the new releases over at Lawn Fawn? I LOVE their stamps. Adorable, adorable, adorable. I don't have any yet, but they're on the very top of my wishlist! I especially love the Just My Type, Partly Cloudy, and Sew Lovely sets. And their Critters in the Sea and Critters in the 'Burbs sets would be absolutely perfect for Cards For Kids. Plus, they carry Colorbox Fluid Chalk ink, which is my favorite ink, and it's getting harder and harder to find. If you haven't already, go check them out. And keep your credit card handy -- it won't take more than a minute of "window shopping" before you fall in love. Trust me! Just go to or follow the link in my sidebar to see for yourself. The link actually goes to their blog, but you can hop over to their store from there. The originator, Kelly, seems as sweet as can be, and has a lot of really great video tutorials posted on cardmaking and such.

And speaking of favorite products, I'm going to be doing a favorite product post next week, so be sure to come back around for it and weigh in on some of your favorites too!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Let's Knit Together

Hey everybody! How are you all doing on this sweltering Wednesday afternoon? Keeping cool, I hope. Our house only has air conditioning in the downstairs bedroom and livingroom, so the boys and I have been escaping the heat by staying in these two rooms, playing checkers and watching youtube craft tutorials -- not a bad way to spend the day, if you ask me!

I did want to share a new card with you though. This is one of a series I made for a friend in my writer's group who also belongs to a knitting group. I saw this image and knew it'd be perfect for her to give to one of her knitting buddies.

The image is actually a vintage children's coloring page that I found online and printed out, then colored with Copics. I chose this sheet of patterened cardstock from K&Company's designer mat pad -- this was actually their wedding collection, but I thought the color scheme went really well with the vintage look of this little girl. I trimmed my paper to a little smaller than my Bazzill sky blue cardfront, as I wanted that blue to show around the edges. I just love that shade and it gives a nice pop of color without interfereing with the soft palette on the rest of the card.

I used the B side, that green and cream stripe, to accent my image, then popped it up with dimentional adhesive to make it stand out. Before attatching it to the card, I added some polkadot ribbon from American Crafts to tie in that lovely blue shade from the edges. Since I didn't have a sentiment to match, I just typed up "Let's knit together" on my computer and printed it out on cardstock. I matted that with the same green and cream stripe, and adhered that straight to the card.

For a final touch of sweetness, I added a green patterned flower from Hero Arts, and paired it with a soft blue bloom that was from a set I found in the dollar bins at Target. I threaded some white embossing thread through one of my great-grandmother's buttons and smushed it in the center with a glue dot.

I think it turned out pretty cute! Well, that's it from me today. Off to see if I can rustle up some squirt guns and launch a surprise attack on the little beasties. ;o) Have a wonderful night!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

German Fruit Tart

You didn't think I was going to entitle a post, "Eat Cake" and then not follow up with some cake, did ya? This is a German Fruit Tart, well, I don't know if it's technically "German" but they were very common when we lived in Germany near my husband's parents. German cakes are a wonder, I tell you. Nothing like the plain jane birthday cakes and frosting that are typical here. German cakes have creams and puddings and layers of real whipping cream, rum, sour cherries, and just about everything imaginable. At our wedding in Germany we had 50 different cakes! It's typical to start out the reception with Kaffetrinken, which is kind of like the Brittish tea, but with coffee. Then later is the dinner, followed by the big wedding cake (we had a handmade ice cream cake created my a Master Patisserie Chef -- I didn't want to compete with the earlier cakes -- in layers of flavors including chocolate, raspberry, kiwi, pomegranate, and vanilla all covered in marzipan. YUMMM!), and, as if that weren't enough, around midnight we brought out fruits and cheeses and of course, more wine. Weddings in Germany are definitely an ALL DAY affair.

But I've gotten sidetracked. Would you like a peek at the cake I made?

Unlike our wedding cakes, this one didn't take much time at all. There aren't many German cakes I can replicate here in the States because the ingredients aren't readily available, but our local Wegmans just happens to carry the "boden" or cake-portion of this dessert in their bakery aisle. It's the exact same cake boden (floor) that's available in Germany, right down to the packaging. I think one of the reasons this kind of cake is so popular in Germany is that the boden can be purchased pre-made, which saves all those desperate housewives a little time, especially since they typically make 2-3 cakes every weekend for Sunday Kaffetrinken.

Now, the main attraction of this cake is obviously the fruit, but if you put the fruit directly on the boden, it will get all soggy -- not good. German housefraus sprinke a layer of sahnestieff (what they put in whipping cream to make it extra stiff) over the boden -- this helps. Since I had none, I did something else I'd seen there, which is make up some vanilla pudding, let it firm up, then cover the boden with a thin layer.

All that's left to do then is to arrange your fruit, any sort you choose, in a circular pattern around the cake. I used strawberries, mandarins, kiwis, raspberries and blueberries. It ended up looking like this...

You could substitute any fruit you like. My mother-in-law also does a version of this for her strawberry shortcake. Simply omit the pudding, cover with strawberries, and add whipping cream over the top. There's lots of options here. I hope you'll try it out! Enjoy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Eat Cake

It's finally Friday! And not only that, but it's a holiday weekend as well. Do you all have big plans for the 4th? I unfortunately have to work tomorrow evening and all afternoon and evening Sunday, but we have a couple hours free tomorrow morning, so we're taking the kids to the zoo and having a picnic lunch at the playground. Should be fun!

Speaking of fun, a girl from my writer's group requested 5 handmade birthday cards from me (yay! A sale!) so I got to have some fun getting crafty today. This is the first of the five, and I think this had to be the easiest card I've ever made! I used a total of five supplies, not including adhesive. Simple and elegant is the look I was going for, and I think I got that, so I'm happy.

I started out by flipping through my 12x12 Sweet Stack paper pack by DCWV. This was the first patterned cardstock pad I bought back at the beginning of the year when I first started papercrafting and I really haven't used a whole lot of it yet. Am I the only person out there with a tendency to "collect" pretty supplies? I have to break myself of this habit right quick. The whole reason for making cards is to bring joy to others by giving them away. Hoarding it to myself doesn't do anybody any good. See how I lecture myself? Lol. I hope it works!

Anyway, I came to this gorgeous pink page full of subtle patterns and swirls, and this great, elegant cake image in the bottom right corner, and it was love. I'm not sure if you can tell from the pics, but the whole thing is glittered up, the cake layers, the swirls, the curly-cue trim... All over. I folded some pink Bazzill cardstock for my base, and trimmed the patterned paper to just slightly smaller than the card face for a little color contrast. I stamped the sentiment from Studio G in Colorbox Chalk ink in Chestnut Roan, then added a little glitter with a glue pen. Oops! I forgot about the glitter and glue pen. So technically I used seven supplies. I tied on some pink polkadot shimmery ribbon from Dashes, Dots, & Checks, then cut out my cake image and popped it off with dimentionals.

So maybe it wasn't exactly simple in the area of using fewer-than-usual supplies, but rather how quickly it came together and became the card I invisioned from the get-go. Usually my cards are more trial and error. I'm thinking about starting a little sketchbook though to help me plan then out a little better. Is that what you do? Or do you just pull together a bunch of coordinating supplies and see what results? I'm curious to know.


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