Friday, 30 August 2013

It's okay, you can tell your friends!

That's right, it's almost time for another Blog Hop!  Excited?  I sure am.

Less than two weeks from now we'll be having another fantastic Watercooler Blog Hop, this time featuring creations just for the holidays.  You really won't want to miss it.

Go ahead.  Tell your friends.  September 12th is coming soon!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Surprise! Surprise! Specials from Stampin' Up!

Guess what!  For those of you who haven't yet bought the Papillon Potpourri stamp set and its matching Punch, the Bitty Butterfly, you're in luck.  Waiting has paid off for you because Stampin' Up! is offering them as a bundle right now and until the 30th of September.  Yes, that's right!  Until the end of September you can buy the two for a very satisfying 15% off.  Don't you love saving money---especially when you wanted to buy the products anyway?

So what are you getting?  You will receive the beautiful Papillon Potpourri stamp set

And you will also receive the cute Bitty Butterfly punch
Of course you will have the option of getting the bundle with either clear or would-mount stamps.  The prices for each are:

Bundle ItemPage in Catalogue DescriptionRetail Price15% Savings PriceAmount Saved!
Butterfly Bundle (Clear-Mount)
Papillion Potpourri Clear-Mount Stamp Set
Bitty Butterfly Punch
$39.90 $33.92 $5.98
Butterfly Bundle (Wood-Mount)
Papillion Potpourri Wood-Mount Stamp Set
Bitty Butterfly Punch
$44.90 $38.17 $6.73 

I had to let you know about this as soon as I found out.  Butterflies are such fun to use on cards and when you can get both the stamp set and matching punch for a great price, magic happens.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

August Open House Projects---Introducing the holidays!

Two down!  That's right, I've finished with two of my three Open House days and I'm still alive to talk about it.  And they were so much fun!

Friday's Open House was the hardest because I was still getting ready and even prepping the make-n-takes right until the last moment.  If Shera-Lee hadn't gotten up on her white steed and ridden to my rescue wearing her silver armour, who knows if the Open House would even have gotten off the ground.  But she did and the rest is history.  Daughters are such wonderful creatures, but none quite so wonderful as my own Shera-Lee.

The only downer to Friday's Open House was that I was constantly looking out the window.  What was I looking for?  My small order from Stampin' Up! which included the just-introduced Envelope Punch Board as well as two of the brand new Single Stamps and the Circle Flip Card Thinlit had been scheduled for Thursday delivery.  This was Friday and I had hoped to at least show a couple of samples made with those brand new items and even by the end of the make-n-takes the UPS truck still hadn't shown up.  Fretting is a mild way to describe my state of mind.

Just as I was about to give up completely and was resigned to a Monday delivery, the doorbell rang and my parcel arrived.   The attendees of my Open House were just finishing their orders and I was able to rip open the box and show off my goodies.  As a treat, I cut out a Flip Card for each of them so that they could play with it at home.

I gave you a little sneak peek of what we did as make-n-takes and promised a how-to post.  Well, here comes number one.

The first project was the Christmas card.  The new products from the Holiday Catalogue showcased in the card were the Silver Foil paper, "Merry" from the Expressions Thinlits Dies, paper from the Winter Frost Specialty Designer Series Paper, the Silver Metallic Encore ink pad, a snowflake using the Festive Flurry Bundle, and the Pretty Print Textured Impressions Embossing Folder.  I love it when you can put a whole bunch of new products into one creation!

The card is easy enough.  We start with a base of 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" Naturals White cardstock, scored down the centre to make a 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" card.  Next we have a 4" x 5 1/4" piece of Midnight Muse which we put through the Big Shot using the Pretty Print embossing folder.  There are two strips measuring 1 3/4" x 5 1/4" one of which is Whisper White and the other is the starburst pattern from the Winter Frost Designer Paper.  We take the strip of Whisper White and centre the Delicate Designs embossing folder on it and run it through the Big Shot.  Then we cut the edges which were not embossed using the new Rotary Addition on the Stampin' Trimmer with the small Scallop Cutting Blade installed.   I love the pretty border that the blade gives the embossed strip!

Before assembling, you can either gently sponge a bit of silver across the embossed Midnight Muse to bring out the pretty print texture or just leave it.  Either way it looks wonderful.  After adhering the Midnight Muse to the base, I adhered the Designer Paper approximately 1/2" from the bottom edge and then centred the embossed Whisper White on that.

The next step was to show off the wonderful Magnetic Platform.  We stamped a small piece of Midnight Muse using a snowflake stamp from the Festive Flurry stamp set and the Silver Encore ink pad.  Love the way the silver just pops against the deep blue cardstock!  Then we took the matching Festive Flurry framelit and cut that stamped snowflake out effortlessly.  The framelit didn't move at all.  Using the same framelit, we each also cut another snowflake from the Silver Glimmer paper.

The snowflakes were each mounted on dimensionals at the top right corner.  First the Glimmer snowflake was mounted on dimensionals and then the stamped one, also on dimensionals but turned slightly to show off the snowflake underneath.  In the centre of the stamped snowflake, we adhered a large rhinestone.

The card already looked pretty but we still needed to use the Expressions thinlit die.  That one went through the Big Shot on a strip of the Silver Foil paper.  It was easy to get the "Merry" out using the piercing tool.  We ran some Two-Way Glue along the letters and it adhered perfectly to the embossed Whisper White strip.

It took me longer to type the instructions than it did for us to make the card.  It looks absolutely gorgeous, doesn't it?  And yet it really wasn't much work.  Everyone loved it during the Friday Open House as well as my Saturday Open House.

Tomorrow I'll post the instructions for our cute Hallowe'en make-n-take box.

The Neverending Story (of a room trying to find its identity)

Did you come here to find out if I managed to get my room organized enough to hold my Open House?  It took some doing, but, yes, I managed enough.  It isn't as organized as I would like and a few things flew off my radar during the last frantic efforts to get finished.  I will find them when I get back to the final phases of the room re-hab.

The new layout made me very happy.  It definitely made a difference.  With my desk at the top of the room, against the window wall, there is finally room on both sides of the table for people to be sitting and creating.  Until now I've had to snug my long table against my desk in order to have walking and sitting room along the one side.  So that's a giant step in the right direction. 

Long table going along centre of room.

The shelving full of stamp sets and below that the organizing unit
Shera-Lee and Adam gave me.  Beside that, the two Ikea towers.
And beside those you can just see the file cabinets for my paper.

The super drawer unit from Costco which is so well-built that
it houses all my punches and dies.  I'll have to post a picture
later in the organization showing the contents of the drawers.

So the room really did look okay.  Not perfect or even approaching perfect, but at least a work-in-progress that allows me to have people come in and stamp comfortably.

Then I also had the new products set up in other rooms.  I would have loved a really professional looking set-up, but it's early times yet.  I've only been doing this for 20 months now, after all.  Give me a chance.

Products from the Holiday Catalogue and new 
catalogue-free products such as the photopolymer
 stamp sets and the Undefined.

And a few of the samples along with more new products and the catalogues.

I also managed to create the two make-n-takes for the Open Houses.  Yes, that was really going down to the wire.  A very dear friend sent me a cartoon that epitomizes my creative habits.  I really do have to share it with you.  Hope you enjoy Calvin and Hobbs as much as I do.
Yes, last minute panic saved the day---again!  Thanks to my daughter, Shera-Lee, for the prepping of all the cut materials for those make-n-takes.  It freed up some time for me to get the last bit of clean-up done.  Hmmm---could she be the Hobbs to my Calvin?  No, I'm just overtired, right.

I'm going to give you a sneak peek at the make-n-takes. 

 I'll post larger photos as well as the usual how-to in my next blog post.  But at least this gives you an idea of what my fevered brain finally came up with in its last minute panic.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Neverending Story (of a room organization without a plan)

August 21st - Weary Wednesday

I don't know about you, but I used to make plans.

Whenever we would move into another house or if I planned to change around one of my rooms, I would haul out my graph paper, draw out the room(s) to scale, measure out all the pieces of furniture that would go into the room(s) to scale, and then arrange my room(s) on paper.  It was anal, yes.  But it did not result in a broken back or a broken spirit.  Is my back truly broken?  Probably not, although there are muscles and ligaments in it that are insisting they will never function normally again.  Is my spirit broken?  Ask me after I have another cup of coffee.

This time I'm taking it straight from the bag...

Yeah, that hit the spot.  No, this room has not yet broken my spirit.  I finished my coffee and moved everything around again.  When I didn't like the way things "felt" the way I had moved the furniture around and I knew it was disorienting, I realized it wouldn't work.  Let me just say this:  I am really, really getting tired of moving extremely heavy pieces of furniture back and forth around my room.  I'd rather be creating.

This is what I began with early this morning.
Note how each side is "stuffed" into the corner.  This is the layout I woke up to.

And after feeling totally disoriented typing on my laptop and looking around the room, I knew I wouldn't be able to live with this layout.  If I had stuck to my former graph paper ways, this would never have happened.

So, after some very strong coffee and a whole lot of ugly language and some screaming muscles, I wound up with this layout.
Note how the table and the desk are both up against the window wall.
Sad to say, the two towers from Ikea are back to being side-by-side
 which is what I began with yesterday.

Okay, after taking this layout for a spin I can honestly say it doesn't make me feel claustrophobic or disoriented.  So I can begin the chore of clearing up.

August 22nd - Clean-Up Thursday

As I was beginning this ordeal, someone told me "Small bites, Heidi, small bites."  If I could have done this over the course of a few weeks it would have been easier.  Sad to say, I could have started earlier, but my natural-born procrastination got in the way and, of course, I'm working to beat a deadline now.  Why a deadline?  Well, Friday, Saturday and Monday will be my Open Houses.  Three of them?  You know what summer is like--it's hard when dates don't work so this way I can accommodate more people on days that they can make it to my house.  In theory, this is a great idea.  With the upheaval in my Craft Room where all the Open House "magic" happens, I am definitely becoming a tad stressed out.  

Bottom line:  this is the way the layout will remain because I have to begin getting ready.  There are samples to make, make-n-takes to prepare, and countless little things left to do.

As I move into the afternoon, this is what the room looks like.  

Clutter, yes.  But I have managed to give myself more room on each side of the room by having the brown table and my desk at the end of the room, by the window.  Today's job is to tidy up, move the table that you can just see a piece of into the centre of the room, and get prepared for my first Open House.  Tomorrow is going to come quickly.  Luckily no-one will arrive before 5:00 p.m.

Stay tuned for pictures of the finished result.

P.S. Hurrah for cork floors.  All this moving around of furniture and not a mark to show for it.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Neverending Story (of my continuing re-organization)

Optimism:  to expect the most favourable outcome.
Reality:  the way life actually happens.

I optimistically expected that I would get my room re-organized in one long, back-breaking day.  Then reality reared its ugly head, snorted at my expectations, and I had to accept the fact that, unless I was going to add another 24 or more hours to an already long day, my room would be done when it was done.

Well, day one seemed neverending.  I achieved a lot of mess, a back that insists it's broken, and had the opportunity to clean under areas that haven't seen the light of day for a while.  So far this re-organization isn't much fun.

This is the way my room looked when I had a skinny path around the table, with everything pulled towards the door, so that I could somehow manage to move one table (not seen) over to the other wall and move the long desk that was on that wall over to the empty spot you see in the corner of the room.  That hadn't been in the original plan but I didn't like the way the two towers worked beside each other with the brown table in the corner and so a new plan was born.  I should have known that an exhausted brain couldn't make perfect plans, but my optimism assured me that the new layout would be perfect.

This is the way my room looks at the start of Day 2 (which I am truly hoping and praying is the last full day I'll have to devote to this job).

Yes, I managed to get the long, skinny desk into the corner as planned.  I like the towers placed where they are.  You can't see it with all the excess "stuff" on it, but the brown table is over in the other corner across from the desk.  As I look around the room I am at a loss as to how I suddenly wound up with so many piles and no work surfaces.  That's a puzzle I'm hoping to solve today.

Stay tuned for the next episode of the "Organization from Hell".

Monday, 19 August 2013

The Neverending Story (of Organization)

Never, never, never ending!  That's what it's like when you're trying to get organized.  Little by little I'm discovering what works and what I have to replace.  Yes, replace!  Some storage solutions that worked when I was just playing around with my crafting simply are not working now that I have other people come into my space and I have rapidly increased the volume of products with which I work.  And if there is one top thing that I have learned since I began as an Independent Demonstrator for Stampin' Up!, it's that a lack of organization really cuts into my crafting time.  In other words I'm sick and tired of hunting for things!

So I bought another drawer-tower from Ikea.  The first one did wonders for my peace of mind.  You see it replaced one of those plastic-rainbow-drawers-in-a-rickety-metal-tower monsters.  Why monster?  Well, put a couple of heavy items in a drawer and it comes off its slide.  I grew very, very tired of fumbling around, battling with the skewed drawers in order to reach something I needed immediately.  I don't think it's healthy to build up so much rage against an inanimate object, even if I'm certain it was manufactured by demons.

The tower of drawers from Ikea is such a delight.  As soon as I filled the nine drawers, I knew I had to get a second one in order to finish my organization of all those little items that build up and take up room everywhere.  Today I finished assembling it and now the big job begins:  moving everything in my room in order to put it into its new home.  There are a number of items that will be making their way out of the room permanently as well.  Some furniture shifting---you get the drill.  It's going to be a long, tedious, oh-my-back-is-breaking type of day.  The gold ring for which I'm reaching is an organized room.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Shakespeare did "scary" well.

Remember when the witches on MacBeth chanted:

                                         Eye of newt, toe of frog,
                                                wool of bat, tongue of dog...
                                         For a charm of powerful trouble
                                                like a hell-broth
                                         Boil and bubble.

Only Shakespeare could write an incantation so powerful that it remains the focus of endless discussions by scholars around the world.  And now it is part of the Stampin' Up! lineup of stamps for Hallowe'en.  Changing only two of the words, hell-broth, to Witch's Brew, Stampin' Up! embellished the incantation with symbols, skulls and bats to provide a wonderful border to the famous words.

I love the stamp set.  I also love those little pillow boxes as you've surely gathered from my posts.  Well, how about combining two things that I love for a truly amazing Hallowe'en gift box?

Using the printed sheet from the Witch's Brew Designer Paper, I cut the pillow box and assembled it.  I love mixing deep purple and green together for Hallowe'en.  This incantation, especially, seemed to cry out for the colours because you can just about imagine the green froth on top of a deep purple liquid.  I stamped the incantation on Wild Wasabi using black ink and cut it out using the matching framelit from my Apothecary Accents collection.  Then I mounted that on a piece of Elegant Eggplant which I had cut with one of my Oval Framelits.

To finish the little box off, I added the Hallowe'en tag from the brand new Tags 4 You stamp set, using the co-ordinating punch to cut it out.  I love the way the black ink "pops" on the Pumpkin Pie paper, don't you?

 This whole project only took me about twenty minutes from beginning to end.  Wouldn't it make a wonderful Hallowe'en gift for the teacher?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


I love the look of orchids.  One of my favourite orchids is the Phalaenopsis, more commonly known as the Moth Orchid.  They say it's the easiest to grow but you wouldn't have known that with the first couple that I had.  I was so worried about their well-being that I loved them to death.

I almost gave up then but there is a stubborn streak in me that refused.  So I bought another one and my daughter gave me one and this time I went to Chapter's and found a good, simple book on orchids.  The title attracted me:  Easy Orchids: The Fail-safe Guide to Growing Orchids Indoors by Liz Johnson.  "Fail-safe" sounded perfect although I did pause for a moment or two at the "Indoors".  Up here in the middle of Alberta where we're lucky if we get five months that don't have frost overnight (or, worse still, temperatures all the way down to minus 40) I wondered whether anyone could ever have tried growing an orchid anywhere but indoors.

One of the first things I read was that most people kill their orchids by over-watering.  Another no-no was putting an orchid right in a window where the direct sun could scorch the leaves.  I was getting a very strong feeling that these "orchid sins" had probably been suffered by my own poor departed plants.

Well, I read, I followed instructions, I bought another couple of orchids, I read more.  Strangely enough all my orchids were surviving.  And not only were they surviving, they were having babies, or as the Hawaiians would say "keikis".  And those keikis, once they developed sufficient air-roots were put into their own pots and they, in turn, survived.  To make a long story much shorter, I am now up to 18 orchids with 4 more keikis on their way.

That's a lot of orchids!  I'm going to have to begin to find good homes for a few because I'm running out of ideal spots for them.  There are, after all, only so many spots in a house where one can provide good but indirect light without drafts.  I don't have that large a house.

You see I don't only have orchids in my home.  I have a lot of other plants, as well.  I counted one day as I was watering them all (a chore that takes more and more time as my plant population grows) and discovered that I have a total of 53 plants.  That discovery came as quite a shock to me.  Until I knew the actual number, I hadn't really admitted to myself that I had an unusual number of plants.

But they're all so pretty, aren't they?  The colours are amazing.  And they're re-blooming for me, too, which simply delights me.

I have a long, built-in shelf in my craft room that holds more than half my orchids.  Seeing them as I'm creating frequently leads me to colour choices I might not otherwise have tried.

And so I suppose I can call them my inspiration.  Bottom line, however, they simply bring me pleasure now that I've finally figured out how not to kill them with too much care.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Doing it your way! (I've just done it my way.)

Have you ever been frustrated that you can't find the stamp that you've imagined in your head?  You know what I mean.  You're making a project.  You have a specific look and design in mind.  Everything is falling into place.  And then you hit a snag.  That's right!  You can't find the stamp that says exactly what you want---or that has exactly the image you know would be perfect.  Well, that doesn't have to be a problem any longer.  You can actually buy a kit and make that stamp yourself.  Whoa!  That doesn't work for you because you have ten thumbs and are simply not an artist?  What about all those great cards, scrapbook pages and projects you've made?  Of course you can do it.  And if you can't draw it, the internet offers all sorts of designs free of charge.

So you've heard all this before in this blog post, right?  Yes, I've told you about the kit and refill already but that was before I had a chance to play with it myself.  To recap, this is what the kit looks like once you open it:

First of all, I love those carving tools!  They fit into your hand so nicely that it feels very comfortable carving into the rubber.  At first I have to admit it is a bit daunting to have blank rubber in front of you while you're holding a carving tool.  The rubber is so perfect---not a mark on it.  I was very hesitant in putting that first mark on it.  But once I did, it began feeling quite natural and good to be carving into it.  

Did I use one of the designs that are provided?  No, I had my own little cartoon and then free-handed the script.  It's quite obvious that I'm a novice when you look at the results, but I still had fun doing it and my next stamp will be much better.  Yes, I'm already thinking in terms of "next" instead of, "well, done that and I'm over it".  Actually, I'm quite excited about doing another stamp.  Oh my goodness!  Is this going to become as addictive as buying stamps has been?

Now that I've gone through the agony of carving the stamp, I should show you what I made, right?  Always taking the more difficult route, I carved my first stamp to fit into one of the brand new Chalk Talk framelits.  Yeah, I know, why not make it harder for myself, right?

Anyway, the little guy's name is Mugsy.  He's a throwback to a mascot I designed for my high school library when I belonged to the Library Club.  I just had to resurrect him.  I used Chocolate Chip for my stamping ink, Chocolate Chip for my base cardstock, and added some Sahara Sand for his face and Blushing Bride for his ears.  His eyes are Summer Starfruit as  is the embossed cardstock behind the image.  It's a bit crude, but I love it.

It's just a little 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" card, but I love it!  Now---don't you want to make a stamp?