Friday, July 31, 2009


I don't know when school starts in your neck of the woods, but here in the Indy suburbs school starts August 11th. Can you believe it?! Summer vacation ends a full five weeks before summer ends on the calendar. When you have school-aged children in the house, the back-to-school season can become pricey. Not only do you have to buy school supplies (and these days, the schools have you buying everything but the toner for their printers and the toilet paper for the bathrooms!), but you also have to add in school lunches, school photos, PTO/PTA membership fees, sports fees...the list goes on and on!

This year, we'll have the added expense of sending a son off to his first year in college. Let me tell you, it feels like you're setting them up for their first house! Refrigerator, microwave, bedding, chairs, lamps, rugs, food, medicine cabinet, cleaning supplies, office supplies.

My husband and I are trying to find new ways to cut costs and keep our daily expenses low. We're going to cut our landline phone service (we all have cell phones now), we're cutting back to basic channels for our satellite, doing away with satellite radio, and trying to find creative ways to cut back on other expenses.

One way I'm trying to save money is just by keeping track of the money I spend on a daily basis. I have a budgeted amount, and I'm trying really hard to stick to it. I found these cute little mini composition books at Target. They measure about 3 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches. I figure it's the perfect size to keep in my purse.

{recipe: Rockabilly papers, curly label punch, small oval punch, flower punch}

Olay Offer!

ne way that I've found to save money is by switching to a lot of over the counter cosmetics and skin care systems. I switched to Olay products when my husband was unemployed in 2007, and my skin has never looked better. I tried Mary Kay, Clinique, and lots of pricey products, and still had breakouts. Now, my skin is clear and I'm spending a fraction of the cost.

Right now, if you visit the Olay website, you can download a $20 rebate form. When you spend $50 in Olay products, you get a $20 debit card sent in the mail. I tried a similar offer last spring, and received my $15 debit card in the mail. I used it to purchase the Cosmo Cricket Early Bird paper kit, as a matter of fact!

More info here:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Good Times

I had such a nice day with my good friend, Beth, this week. It was so good to see her again! I can hardly believe that it's been an entire year since we last saw each other. Maybe it doesn't feel like a year because we talk to each other every week. Whatever the case, it's been too long, and we're vowing to see each other more often in the future.

I made Beth this card so perfectly hits this highlights of our time together. Good food, good coffee, and good times spent with a friend. It's just so wonderful to spend an entire day with a girlfriend, just being yourself and sharing thoughts and laughter. I don't have enough of this in my life right now. It is a treasure.

{recipe: Cosmo Cricket Early Bird stickers, Bazzill textured cardstock, chocolate chip cardstock and felt flowers. kiwi kiss cardstock, old olive felt flowers, red brads}

Beth is such a generous friend...she's always gifting me with fabulous things! This time, she brought me some great patterns and a rainbow of weaver's cloth and linen for needle art projects. Isn't she sweet?

I can't believe that I brought my camera and never managed to get a photo of the two of us together! I realized this as we were leaving the parking lot of our favorite restaurant...Cracker Barrel! I managed to take a quick photo as a fun memory. We just love that restaurant! You can order breakfast all day, the coffee keeps coming, and there's shopping to boot! We spent hours here, just eating, talking, stitching, and laughing. Our waitress was very sweet...she just kept the coffee coming and let us do our thing.

I hope your days are filled with fun and friends this week!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vintage Thank You

I'm working on some thank you notes for my son's graduation gifts. Yes, we're a bit behind on this job, and we're well past the six-week etiquette rule. But I figure that the "better-late-than-never" rule will supercede that.

Luke liked this card a lot, but when he opened it, he said "There's just one problem. There are no words on the inside."

"Yes, Luke. That will be your job. Putting words on the inside."

I got the idea for this card from some note cards I saw at a Barnes and Noble the other day. When I looked at the price on the box, I said "Sheesh! I can do that at home!"

I was very slow to warm up to the Rockabilly papers from SU. I think it was the skulls on some of the sheets of paper that dissuaded me from buying it. But I kinda liked the reverse sides, and of course, all the cherries. I picked it up when it was on sale, and I've found plenty of uses for it. This glossy striped black paper is very classic...much better than skulls!

{recipe: (All products from Stampin' Up) Puns From the Past, Teeny Tiny Wishes, Frames with A Flourish, kraft cardstock, Rockabilly DSP, black ink, curly label punch}

I am having a much-anticipated girls day today! My dear friend, Beth, is visiting her family in Ohio, so we're meeting at a small town that's halfway for both of us to do some shopping, eating, and talking. Of course, there will be coffee! It's been a year since we've been together, and we're both looking forward to it!

Hope your day is blessed!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Using What I Have

When a new Stampin' Up catalog comes out, I flip through pages and make mental lists of what new products I'd love to have. And then, a few days later, reality sets in, and I start to knock things off my list.

Let's face it. We're living in uncertain times, and there are not that many of us who have a large disposable income. If you're like me, you weigh all your purchases now, trying to gauge what is a value, what is a need, and what is just a want. Do I really need another farm set if I have two already? Do I need new papers when I have piles of pretty papers that are still waiting to be used? Now that I've added needle art to my crafting, I also have to watch that I'm not exceeding my craft dollar budget!

Just last week, I took my sons to Target for some back-to-school and off to university shopping. We picked up some great buys, like $6 blue jeans. We also had to purchase items like dorm bedding for a Twin XL bed. After a whopper of a Target bill, I came home and wondered "Hmm. What can I sell off to compensate for the cost?" I listed Luke's old Woolrich bedding set that was no longer being used on Craigslist. By the next day, we had paid for Luke's new bedding with the sale.

Today's card was inspired by the card on the front of the new SU catalog that features the new stamp "Medallion". I liked the look, and decided that I could make something similar with the stamps and papers that I already own.

{recipe: Baroque, Label Classics, Country Blessings, Itty Bitty Backgrounds, Baroque Motifs, natural ivory cardstock, kiwi kiss ink and cardstock, riding hood red ink and cardstock, Bella Rose papers, black ink, large and small oval punches, circle punch,pearls}

So tell me...what ways have you found to curb your crafting budget?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Shades of Green

The forests of Michigan's Upper Peninsula are simply stunning. Porcupine Mountains contains acres and acres of old growth forests. Just imagine...some of the hemlocks were alive when the pilgrims stepped off the Mayflower!

I am always amazed at the variety of plant life in the forest...moss, lichen, plant, fern, bush, tree, and each one with a unique shade of green. I wish I were an artist that could capture them in a sketchbook. Did you know that Beatrix Potter, the famed children's author and illustrator, was a botanist? I think it explains her ability to capture the natural world so well.

For today's card, I used various shades of green to capture the feel of the forest. The leaves are not stamps, but part of the new jumbo wheel called Bright Blessings. I always forget to use my wheels, and so many of them have great sentiments and images.

{recipe: Bright Blessings Wheel, Teeny Tiny Wishes, Weathered stamp, old olive ink/cardstock, marker, sage shadow cardstock/marker, certainly celery cardstock/marker, celery ribbon, felt flower and brad (all from Stampin' Up}

The next time you are at the library or video store, check out the movie "Miss Potter", starring Renee Zelwegger and Ewan MacGregor. It's just a delightful movie to watch on a rainy day, and it may even inspire you to pick up a skecthbook and break out the watercolors.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Red Rockers

I popped in to Always In Stitches last week and picked up the latest copy of the Country Register. I just love this newspaper! Not only does it advertise local shops in your region, but it also features recipes, patterns, and lots of pretty artwork. This month, the cover features vintage red metal rockers, just like the rockers on my front porch! I love the art of Shelly Reeves pretty!

I was inspired to make a metal rocker card. I used the layout from last week's Splitcoast Stampers sketch challenge, and paired the image with my favorite Cosmo Cricket Early Bird papers. I added a flower ribbon slide from the Stylized Silver Hodgepodge Hardware. This week, SU is offering the Vanilla Hodgepodge hardware for more than $10 off. Hmmm, I may have to place an order before the week is over!

{recipe: Lockhart stamps, sage shadow cardstock, Cosmo Cricket Early Bird papers, red grosgrain ribbon, silver HPH, versafine onyx ink, prismacolor pencils w/ gamsol}

Monday, July 20, 2009

Crayola 64

When I began stamping more than ten years ago, I used to become so frustrated when I would see a project and know that I couldn't make it because I did not have the right ink or cardstock colors. I think it was the major reason why I became a Stampin' Up demonstrator...I had to have those ink pads!

When I picked up my needle art hobby again last fall, I found that a lot had changed in the ten years since I'd been crafting. Sure, DMC floss was still used, but now there were so many other beautiful flosses to choose from. I began collecting a lot of Weeks Overdye flosses because they are so beautiful in their color variegations. I went to the website for Weeks Overdye and printed out copies of their color offerings. I tucked the sheets into my purse, and whenever I went to a new needle art shop, I would check my sheets to see what colors I had, what colors I didn't have, and what colors I really needed for patterns. As you can see, I've collected quite a few now from shops in Indiana, Michigan, even Wisconsin!

I guess there will always be a part of me that is that little girl at the beginning of the school year who has to have the brand new box of Crayola 64 crayons!

This is the latest project that I began this weekend. It is an autumnal pillow pattern from the Country Spirits Collection (Homespun Elegance) called Simply Autumn. It may seem too soon to be working on fall projects, but crafters always like to stay one season ahead.

This project has been such a fun change of pace for me. Recently, I've been working on linen, which can be very intricate work. But this pattern uses 10 count "Country Mocha" Vintage Tula from Norden crafts, and it is stitched using four plies of floss. It really gives it a more substantial, chunky primitive quality...just right for a pillow!

Thanks for stopping by the cafe today!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Herb Garden

My garden has been doing very well this season. In the last two weeks, we've been harvesting peas, green beans, cherry tomatoes, banana peppers, and cucumbers. The herbs have been growing beautifully. This week, I made a potato salad from a new recipe that used new potatoes, green beans, and red peppers, with fresh parsley and dill. It is so nice to go to the garden and pick what you need for dinner.

Today's card uses one of my favorite stamp sets from the new catalog, Herb Expressions. I did not own any herb stamps, and so felt compelled to order this one. I love the 6 X 6 paper packs that Stampin Up offers as a hostess special. I use those papers so often, and today was no exception...sometimes, a card just calls for a subtle tone on tone paper.

{recipe: Herb Expression (SU), certainly celery and almost amethyst cardstock and inks, almost amethyst paper, black ink, certainly celery ribbon and button}

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Coffee Surprise

Look what arrived in my mailbox yesterday! My sister, Tina, made me this beautiful coffee-themed quilted table runner. She said that when she found the fabric, she knew she had to make me something with it...isn't that sweet? She is so talented! Of course, it's much too beautiful to sit on my table...just the thought of kool-aid spills and ketchup mishaps makes me shudder! No, I'll be hanging this lovely creation on a wall for all to see.

Every square in the center of the quilted stars has a different coffee image. I loved this square with the coffee cups stacked together, and decided to use it as the inspiration for my thank-you card.

I decided to use the stamps from Gina K Designs called My Cuppa Joe, and I paired the images with my favorite Early Bird papers from Cosmo Cricket. I stamped the coffee cups directly onto patterned paper, cut them out, and stacked them on top of each other.

{recipe: My Cuppa Joe (Gina K Designs), Early Bird papers (Cosmo Cricket), Blue Bayou cardstock, Bazzil textured polka cardstock, Versafine onyx ink, scallop edge punch, scallop scissors, Blue Bayou stitched ribbon}

Thank you, Tina! I was feeling cruddy and low yesterday, and your gift really perked (pun intended) up my spirits!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Friendly Pillow

Hello, friends! I have not been a big crafter this week, but I thought I'd post one of my finished cross-stitch projects today. This kit is from Trail Creek Farm, and it included the pillow, pattern, buttons, and charm. I had finished the pattern a few weeks back, but I just got around to completing the project today.

I haven't been inspired to start any new projects. I'm just too tired and loopy-headed to concentrate for any length of time. But I think I may pop over to my favorite shop, Always in Stitches, for a little inspiration.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Summer Reading

Do you have a summer reading list? My pile is becoming HUGE! And these are only the nonfiction books. I have a list of fiction I'm hoping to find at the library this summer, too! Here are just a couple of books I'm currently working on:

Growing In Prayer/Women of Faith Series: This small paperback is the book that we're using in my summer bible study right now. It's perfect for homework, just read and discuss and spark conversation. We meet at various locations around town once a week, and I always come away refreshed.

The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James: I'm reading this book in preparation for some bible study/book discussion time with my mom and sisters. It's a thought-provoking book that looks at the stories of Ruth and Naomi in a different light. Some thoughts I agree with, others not so much. But it should be good for conversation.

The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay: My sister, Jenny, recommended this book (along with The Gospel of Ruth) after her bible study group read it. It's a very interesting book written by church planters who are trying to put an Acts model into mission. It talks about how to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven and incarnational living.

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv: The subtitle is "Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder." Basically, it talks about how our society needs to unplug our children and get them back outdoors. Here's a sad quote from a fourth grader in the book: I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are." Enough said!

I'm waiting patiently for the newest releases from some of my favorite authors, Alice Hoffman and Barbara Kingsolver. Does anyone have good fiction recommendations for me?

On a side note, the plant featured in the photo is called a plectranthus. It is an annual, and this variety is called "Cerveza 'n lime" (yes, that's beer for those of you who habla espanol!). When you brush it with your hand, it smells just like limes!

Happy Saturday!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pickup Truck

I needed another "guy" card today, and thought I'd use this new image from my trip to Gina K's shop. This comes from the set "The Journey" by Asela Hopkins, which features lovely hand-drawn images like this one. The stamped image was so pretty that I decided not to color it at all, but leave it plain for more black-white-red impact.

{recipe: Gina K stamp, sentiment from SU, basic gray cardstock, riding hood red cardstock, Bazzill Textured polka cardstock in black, brushed silver cardstock, versafine onyx ink, stylized silver brads, modern label punch}

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Rubber

Today, I'm showcasing some of my new rubber stamps from Gina K. These are cling-mounted rubber. They come in a sheet, and you trim the individual images. Then, you place them on the file folder, where they will stick quite nicely. I trimmed and taped the image sheet to the opposite side of the file (and yes, that's a new coffee set for the cafe!).

The file folders fit into a clear plastic case, and each case will hold four folders, which equates to at least four stamp sets, as you can see here:

I used one of the new sets to make a belated birthday card for my nephew, Joey. Here it is:

I thought the inside was just as cute as the outside, so here it is:

I bought a fresh bag of marshmallows today. Hmmm....maybe we'll have s'mores this weekend if the weather cooperates. Want a new s'more recipe? Try this idea: use roasted marshmallows between two fudge stripe cookies. It will melt the chocolate on the underside of the cookies, and it does away with the need for chocolate bars and graham crackers. I found this idea in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook. Super easy and fun!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

Yesterday was my middle son, John Ryan's sixteenth birthday. 16! Where does the time go? He's growing to be such a sweet young man...six feet tall, with a long and lanky body that reminds me of a young Clint Eastwood. I don't like to stand next to him in church when I'm wearing flats because he makes me feel so short!

{recipe: Teeny Tiny Wishes (SU), Antique Cracking (SU), Autumn Days (SU), Frames with a Flourish (SU), vanilla card stock, basic gray ink and card stock, crushed curry ink and card stock, modern label punch, word window punch, the tearing edge, stylized silver brads}

John is my woods-loving nature boy, so I made him this card and used his favorite birch trees as inspiration.

Here's a photo of a birch from one of our hikes on vacation last week:

And here's another awesome nature photo. John found this unusual fungus growing on a fallen tree trunk. The color was so vivid, and we loved the slimy slugs that covered it.

I know that I promised cards with the Gina K. line, and I will deliver on that promise soon. My energy levels are not where I wish they would be, and it seems that for every hour of action, I need an hour of rest just to recuperate. I hope to get more cards posted soon.

Blessings on your day!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Gina K

The highlight of my trip up north was definitely meeting Gina of Gina K Designs. What a sweetheart! Gina is just as nice in person as she is on Splitcoast Stampers. As a matter of fact, I had mentioned on Splitcoast that I planned on stopping in to her store. Gina told me she'd be open between 9am and Noon, so I made it a point to make Gina my last stop on our way out of Madison.

As I was shopping and we were talking, Gina confessed to me that she had not planned on opening the store that day. But she told her husband, Tom, "We have to open today. One of the gals from Splitcoast is stopping by!" Isn't that the sweetest thing? She opened the store just for me...I feel so special!

Gina's store has very limited hours, as 90 percent of her business is done online. Her store serves as the hub for all of their shipping. And from the amount that she's shipping every day, it sounds as if business is doing well. It's such a blessing to see nice, genuine people successful at what they love.

Gina introduced me to her line of deeply etched rubber stamps. I had never used cling-mounted stamps before, and she showed me how to trim them, mount them and store them. Gina is right...they feel very much like a wood-mounted rubber stamp when you stamp with them. Where as clear stamps have a definite learning curve when it comes to the pressure applied, the cling-mounted rubber stamps felt very comfortable and easy to use. And the benefit? You can store four stamp sets in the space that would be taken up by one wood-mounted stamp set in its case.

Tomorrow, I'll show you the stamps I purchased, and the awesome storage system, too. I've also made some cute cards with stamp sets from Gina's newest release. Stop back!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day! I hope your family is celebrating 233 years of freedom today. In our neighborhood, families participate in a parade that begins at the end of our cul-de-sac. The local fire department leads the way, and all the children follow behind. Sam and Ed pedaled their tandem bike, and Sam was thrilled to receive a popsicle and candy at the clubhouse, where the parade ended.

Yesterday morning, on our way out of Madison, I was able to pop over to Sitcher's Crossing, a lovely shop featuring fabric, quilting, and needleart patterns and supplies. I was thrilled to finally find a patriotic project for the summer! This pattern by Mill Hill is part of their Buttons and beads series. The kit contains needles, floss, beads, button, paper canvas, and pattern. I can't wait to try cross-stitch on a paper canvas. I've been working on linen for the last few weeks, so this should be a nice change of pace.

I thought I'd share some thoughts on this Independence Day that I read this morning. I hope they touch you just as they touch me. This was written by Glenn Beck as part of his morning email.

Hello America,

Here it is, another Fourth of July. Traditionally, this is a day to gather with friends, maybe fire up the barbeque and play with kids until the sun sets and the fireworks start. But in thinking back on the meaning behind this day, we must never forget that our nation was baptized in the blaze of a very different kind of "fireworks." Yes, this is a day of rest and relaxation, as well it should be, but this year…I'd like to ask you a favor. At some point during the day, I hope you'll take time to think and reflect on what it is we're truly celebrating on the 4th of July -- our Independence Day. Of course the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4th, 1776 but it's so much more than that. On this day, 233 short years ago, a small group of men dedicated themselves to a higher purpose, an ideal they believed in so greatly, they signed their name to its expression and in doing so put their very lives at risk.

Never has a simple act of signing one's name carried such weight, such a profound commitment. By signing the Declaration of Independence, 56 men stood in direct defiance of the British government. They became marked men, and willingly so. As I was doing some research on the significance of July 4th, I came across some interesting facts about these men. Today as we all enjoy the freedom our forefathers guaranteed us, join me in honoring the extraordinary sacrifice of 56 extraordinary Americans.

Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence:

Five were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes burned to the ground. Two lost sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, and two more had sons captured. Nine fought and died in the Revolutionary War.

If you ever feel like your lone voice can never be heard, that the political system isn't set up for "regular" Americans to change the course of history, remember: The signers were flesh and blood, mortal men with a divinely-inspired aim.

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, eleven were merchants, and nine were farmers and large plantation owners. They were well educated, smart enough to know that by signing the Declaration of Independence, they were signing their own death warrants. They did it anyway, and God bless them for it.

As we enjoy our liberty on this 4th of July, or any day of any month, we must never take that liberty for granted. Too many have given too much. In the words of the Signers themselves, "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

Their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor -- I think that's a price paid worth a few minutes of reflection, don't you? But let's not be solemn in that reflection. I say rejoice and share this information with your friends and family, especially your kids. The Signers asked for nothing in return for their pledge, but I say that we show our thanks with a pledge of our own: To remember, to be grateful, and to carry on in their spirit. America is the greatest country this world has ever and will ever know, and it will stay that way so long as "we the people" remember that just like in 1776.

It's US that surrounds them, and we'll never back down.

Happy Independence Day, and God bless America.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I'm finally able to tell you all what I've been doing on my vacation. As the above needlework says so appropriately, I've been itching, stitching, and...otherwise complaining about the bad weather. (What? Did you think I was going to say something else?) Itching, because my Lyme Disease has reactivated, and I developed four new spots on my drive to the U.P. Stitching, because while my family hiked in the old growth forests of Michigan, I stayed behind and worked on a new stitching project. And no, it doesn't really spell spells stitching. But I couldn't resist the irony. Complaining, because the weather was terrible during out entire trip. In the U.P., it rained every day, mostly all day, and the high temperatures were about 55 each day. Yes, 55! It is so cold there that the peonies were still tight balls and had not yet bloomed...just to give you perspective, the peonies bloom at the beginning of May where I live, so the UP is two months behind the usual growing season. I think they're praying for some global warming there...they might actually get to eat some fresh produce and grow a tomato! I spent a lot of rainy days playing Go Fish, Scrabble, and War with my boys in an overly cozy 400 sq. ft cottage.

This was the view from the cottage...the crashing waves of Lake Superior. Even though the weather was not ideal, I still managed to bundle up in the few warm clothes I packed and take a walk on the beach every day. Maggie, the black lab, loved running into the cold water and walking on the shore chasing away the seagulls. Ed and the boys went hiking in the Porcupine Mountains every day, despite the bad weather. After waking up to another gray rainy morning, we decided to leave for home a day early. We're staying in Madison, Wisconsin tonight, and should make it home tomorrow.

Before we leave town in the morning, I have one must-see destination. Gina K Designs has a store just outside of Madison! I plan on popping in to say hello to Gina and browse through her new releases and cool products. I didn't even know that Gina had a store (I thought she was internet only!) until I browsed through the telephone book in our hotel room last Saturday and discovered a listing for the store. woo hoo! I'll make sure to bring my camera and post some photos here soon.

It looks like Madison also has some stitching shops. you think I could convince Ed to bring me to one or two before we go home? I may be pressing my luck. I'm nearly finished with my latest cross-stitch project, and I'll post it when it's completed.