Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Smashing Good Time

Are you making a list and checking it twice? A list of what, you ask? A list of new year's resolutions, of course!

One of my new resolutions for 2012 is to expand my creativity in new ways. When I saw this new product from K and Company, I knew that it was just the sort of thing to help me with this resolution.

What is a SMASH book? Well, it's like scrapbooking used to be when you were a kid, before all of the rules about archival this and memory keeping that. Just a book to inspire you, like a Pinterest that you can hold in your hands. Tape it, glue it, jot it, scribble it, smash it in and have some fun. No rules, just right...for me!

There are lots of fun accessories to make it easy, and all of them are super affordable. The SMASH books come in different colors and themes, and each one has a handy SMASH stick attached. One end of the stick is a glue stick for adhering fun things like movie tickets or magazine clippings, the other end is a black fine point pen for adding a few thoughts or quotes.

I can't wait to start playing with my new pink SMASH book! So many possibilities!

Check out the smash stories link on the right for more info, and make sure to watch the fun youtube video that explains it all!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Few More Leftovers

Thank you, Nichole and the Papertrey Ink team! I was one of the lucky winners for the December Blog Hop Leftover Challenge! What a wonderful surprise! Now I get to pick out a free stamp set from PTI. That will be the tough many choices!

I had another "leftover", and decided to make another thank you card with it tonight. This chipboard star came with the other pair of flannel pajamas. How cute is that? Of course, I had to repurpose it.

This is clean and simple card making at its best. A big focal point (chipboard diecut star), a dynamic color combo (soft stone/smoky shadow card stock from PTI), a trendy strip of chevron patterned paper (Crate Paper Random collection), a sentiment ( Faux Ribbon from PTI), and a little bling and ribbon (Amuse Art Studio).

Thanks for stopping by for a few more leftovers. Now if someone would just eat the rest of the Christmas cookies for me (the ones that keep calling my name) I'd be so happy!

I more leftovers! Tomorrow I'm serving up something new and yummy, so stop back!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Leftovers Challenge

Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day! I'm not exactly certain what one celebrates on boxing day, but here in our house, we celebrate the removal of the holiday gift boxes and leftover bits of ribbons and wrapping paper. This also coincides with the feast of Christmas leftovers...frosted cutout cookies, noodles, potatoes, homemade cheesy biscuits. Mmm, so good. So bad for my diet, though. I've got to get rid of these leftovers!

Today's Papertrey Ink challenge? Use up those leftovers! Leftover wrapping papers, ribbons, tags, whatever is waiting to be repurposed after Christmas. For today's card, I used this adorable diecut chipboard reindeer that was tied with ribbon to my new flannel pajamas.

I've been dying to use my new Background Basics Woodgrain stamp set from PTI. I paired it with Faux Ribbon (PTI) stamps and sentiment for a clean and simple style. This card has the Nordic look that was so popular this holiday season on everything from sweaters and blankets to gift wrap and greeting cards.

It's never too soon to get started on those after-Christmas thank you cards! I have a lot to be thankful for...a wonderful weekend spent at home with family. Such a blessing. Hope your holidays are blessed as well!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Last Minute Christmas Crafting

Merry Christmas Eve, friends! The cookies were baked, the presents wrapped...but wait. Did I remember to get gift tags for those packages? Nope!

This afternoon, between frosting cookies and baking goodies, I whipped up a few gift tags using some simple strips of card stock, a little bit of fancy paper, and a few punches.

Easy peasy! And with a little creativity and some handy dandy glue dots, I even made a few bows for some of those packages.

And here's a little tip for all of you after Christmas bargain shoppers. When looking for gift wrap, always go for the solid colors. Red wrapping paper can be used for Christmas, Valentine's Day, Birthdays, just about any occasion. I wrapped all of my gifts in solid red wrapping paper this year. It will look so pretty when Santa puts them under the tree tonight.

God Bless Us All, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Patriotic Christmas

I am so proud of myself! I finished another stitching project last night! woo hoo! This project took me more than two years to complete. No, not because it was that complicated, just because I was that slow. I had finished the stitching portion over a year ago, but never got around to turning this into an ornament.

I found this red plaid fabric in my stash. Now I must add here that I am not a frequent buyer of fabric. Some of these items have been in my stash for over a dozen years. One of the bundles of fabrics had a tag from Lolly's Fabrics in Shipshewana, Indiana. I know for a fact that I purchased that when I still lived in Michigan, before the first Lolly's fabric was burned in a fire and rebuilt, that's how old this fabric is! But that's the wonderful thing about a lot of craft items. If you hold onto them long enough, you'll eventually find a use for them!

I used a little fiberfill stuffing to give this some form, added a rose red grosgrain ribbon (Stampin Up) for hanging, and hand-stitched it all together. Not bad!

This pattern is from one of Sandra Sullivan's Homespun Elegance designs. My Sam said it looked more like Independence Day than Christmas, but that's what I love about it. It's a design that works all year long! Father Christmas/Uncle Sam holding a flag, with just a teeny little snowman to tell you this is a winter image.

I like to make my designs with loops that are long enough to turn them into doorknob hangers, if so desired. As a former preschool teacher, I have a TON of ornaments from students, and I'd probably need five trees to display them all. But a doorknob hanger can be used to dress up any door for the holidays. You can add it to a wreath, fancy up a flat fronted basket, or even display it from a coat rack hook, as I have done here.

I have now cleaned up my work-in-progress stitching mess for the holidays. Whew! I forgot how much fun it is to stitch in the evenings. It has such a meditative, calming effect for me. I have a brightly colored Lizzie Kate Snowman pattern that I think I'll work on next.

Four days until Christmas! Are you making any gifts this year?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Handmade Holidays

I love to give handmade gifts for the holidays. Holiday nut breads, cookies, candies and mixes are all wonderful gifts from the kitchen. And when time allows, I like to get back to handcrafted needle art projects.

This punch needle mitten was nearly three years in the making! I would start it, forget it, put it away for the next year, and repeat the cycle all over again. I have a hard time finishing things this year, for some reason. But yesterday, I was determined to get this one done for Shirley Ann, who loves snowmen.

I found this pretty piece of flannel in my fabric stash. I traced the finished punch needle mitten and cut out two pieces of flannel. I attached the punch needle to one side, stitched it all together
and inverted it. Then I turned the cuff, added a strip of fringed flannel, and finished the top cuff.

A warm winter mitten to warm the heart!

I had to finish this project by hand because my very old sewing machine was not cooperating. I think it's time to buy a new model, something smallish and cheap that I can use for paper crafting, too. Any suggestions?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Stamped, Addressed, and Ready To Go!

Last night, I watched a Hallmark holiday movie and put the finishing touches on the Christmas cards. I got out the address book and stamps and went to work. Today, I have twenty cards to take to the post office, and no two are alike.

I liked the look of my cards this year, and more importantly, I had fun making them. Take this card, for example. Adorable sheep and sentiment (classic Amuse Art Stamps) paired with a little bling and glitter. I liked this color palette of cool blues, warm reds, and white for the holidays. It appeared on a few of my cards.

I still need to get about five or ten cards created and mailed. So many nieces and nephews moved into new houses, and it seems I never got the new addresses. That's okay...they might end up receiving Epiphany cards instead!

I hope to find the time to do some baking and crafting this week. That is, in between the house cleaning and preparations for my mom-in-law's visit, retrieving the last of the college boys, and putting the finishing touches on holiday gifting.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Angel Tree Ministries

Every year, my family tries to help some of our favorite charities over the holiday season. In years past, we have given to Heifer International, Operation Christmas Child, Habitat for Humanity, and others. This year, we are once again working with Prison Fellowship to bring Christmas to a child whose parent is incarcerated.

Haily is a sixteen year old girl who will not be spending Christmas with her mother. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard this must be for the girl and her siblings. Haily requested the gift of jewelry. This weekend, I took the place of Haily's mom and went shopping in her stead. We'll be praying for Haily, her siblings, their caretaker, and her mother this holiday season.

In honor of Angel Tree Ministries, I made an angel card today! I thought this angel from Love Lives Here: Holidays (PTI) was beautiful! I chose muted tones of soft earthy browns and pale mossy greens to compliment the papers. This stash of papers from Cosmo Cricket's Wonderland Collection is so old, but I keep pulling it out and using a little more year after year! That's one of the nice things about holiday papers...they last forever!

I added a sentiment from Peace Be Still (PTI). It just seemed to match the feeling of the card...a joyous Christmas.

Joyeux Noel, mes amis!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Birthday Bike

I am so happy that Hero Arts has paired with Sizzix to make some awesome new stamp set/die/embossing folder combos! As someone who was very slow to hop aboard that die cutting train, I am making up for lost time by adding to my collection. Hero Arts makes so many wonderful images for clean and simple stamping. I loved this set! Three different sizes of bike stamps, a few sentiments, and a nice triangle stamp and die to make those very popular pennant/ banner images that I'm seeing everywhere.

For this card, I decided to use some background papers paired with die cut images. The papers are from We R Memory Keepers. This was a super easy card to make. It looks a lot more complicated and detailed because of the papers.

But what if I were to use the stamps to make a One Layer Wonder card? Could I still make it fun and interesting? Of course!

I stamped some gingham grass (PTI) onto rustic white card stock, stamped the bike in Versafine Onyx, and then sponged on some blue clouds. Look ma, no layers!

Today is my biker husband's birthday! Tell me, which card should I give him?

I always say a prayer for two sets of parents on this day. I pray for the birth parents who gave my husband the gift of life, and I pray for the adopting parents who gave him a home. It's a wonderful story of sacrificial love during the holiday season.

Eight days until Christmas! Are you prepared? Yeah, me neither! Happy Saturday, friends!

Friday, December 16, 2011

In The Holiday Spirit

Merry Christmas, friends! Maggie here! My pet, Mary Rose, is taking a break from blogging today. She thought you might like to hear about my morning instead.

It started the way most mornings do. I stretched in my cozy orthopedic bed while my pet rubbed my belly. I find this to be an ideal way to start the day. Then we go downstairs and out on the deck to feed the birds. This job earns me a biscuit! I love my pet!

Then things took an exciting turn. My pet went to the Christmas tree and pulled out a present. I love presents! Grandma always gives me wonderful things, like pretzels and steak and yummy treats she has to hide under the dinner table. Grandma sent a present just for me! I love grandmas! And even though this present was all wrapped up, I could still hear jingling bells. I was so excited! Finally, a new noisy toy just for me to chew and love and destroy!

What could it be? A stuffed raccoon? A duck? A squirrel? Nope. Antlers. Reindeer antlers, to be precise. And would my pet let me chew them? Nope. I had to wear them instead. Oh, the indignity of it all! But I do love my pet, and these are the things we do for love.

I love you, Grandma! But next time, could you send a squirrel instead?

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Little Plain, A Little Fancy

Happy Birthday, Madison! My great niece and goddaughter, Madi, turns nine today! And of course, her present is not quite in the mail...yet! But I'm promising myself that I'll make one more trip to the post office tomorrow.

I decided to use the sketch challenge at My Favorite Things stamps for this card. And let's face it, this sketch was anything but clean and simple! So I let myself go a little crazy with the patterned papers from Crate Paper's Random line today. I wanted a card that looked fun a feminine, and this one fits the bill!

Inside, I decided to add a little clean and simple stamping. All stamps from MFT Pure Innocence line.

And here is the present that Sam helped me find for Madison's birthday. Doodle Diary, an art journal for girls. Doesn't this look like fun? I think I want one for myself! Sam found these books at the Wild, our favorite local children's book store. My eight year old,Sam, really really really wants the boy's version of this journal (and that's how I know that Madi will like this gift, too!).

A little plain, a little fancy, and a lot of fun!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Bird For Christmas

Last week, my nephew and godson, Joey, sent us an early Christmas present...some handcrafted goodies from his mom! My sister, Jenny, is a fabric artist (not my words! Those words were used to describe her in the local newspaper last week!) and crafter extraordinaire. She repurposes things like old wool sweaters, denim jeans, and tin cans and turns them into something new.

Isn't this owl fun? He even has his own perch.

These hand poured soy candles smell so good, and they look darn cute, too. Jenny's items were featured in a holiday gift giving guide published in the Toledo City Paper, a weekly newspaper that I used to write for about a dozen years ago. You can see more at her blog. Just click on the link at the right "Old Maid New". Will she take orders and ship? Of course! And tell her I sent you! If you are a hot beverage drinker like me, then you must have one of her coffee beanies! Trust me, you will be the envy of the coffee shop when you pull out one of those beauties!Need a gift for the person who has everything? How about a coffee beanie and a Starbucks gift card!

My sister takes traditional items and turns them into something new. Today, I took a non-traditional Christmas image (folksy bird from Unity Stamp Co.), colored it with traditional red and green (prisma markers), added a holiday sentiment (PTI), and voila! A Christmas card!

Today's weather is gloomy and grey, but this fun and funky bird has brightened my day.

Order a nice warm holiday drink and savor the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the season!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Under The Tree

My Mom is the sweetest thing! She decided to send me a big box of gifts to open every day until Christmas. Isn't that thoughtful? Each present is individually wrapped, and I get to open one every morning. Yesterday I opened chocolate biscotti. Yum! This morning I opened a big package of much needed dish towels. Thanks, Mom! You're the best!

Can you believe that I am a crafter, and I have never gotten around to making a Christmas tree skirt? So every year, I pick something new to go under the tree. One year, I might use a plaid wool blanket, another year it might be a lace tablecloth. This year, we've decided to use my husband's patchwork quilt, a gift from his grandmother many years ago. I think it looks just adorable!

I am sticking firm to my three-present theory for our family for Christmas! I'm nearly done with the shopping, all the presents are wrapped. It's a nice feeling! We've had years with piles of presents under the tree. But as our boys get older, this just seems to make more sense. And as a working mom, this plan is a lot less stressful! No need to make a dozen trips to Target and the mall. Just three presents. No gold, frankincense or myrrh, but we will remember our greatest gift of a savior this Christmas!

This card fit perfectly with today's Clean and Simple challenge! I used some torn papers from Basic Grey (Fruitcake) to make the snowy hills for this camel (classic amuse art stamps). The sentiment and star stamp are from PTI Silent Night. And boy, do I love that simple little line art star! Add a twinkling star to the center, and it's perfection!

This card makes me so happy! Clean and simple, but still fun and interesting. I love it when a plan comes together!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Program 2011

So, how was your weekend? We had a fabulous festive time!

On Friday night, we decorated the tree and watched classic Christmas cartoons like "The Year Without A Santa Claus" and "Santa Claus is Coming To Town". On Saturday, we went driving through the neighborhoods that had gone all out with their holiday decorations. WOW! Trans Siberian Orchestra and synchronized light displays seem to go hand in hand!

This morning, we continued with one of my favorite traditions...the Sunday School Christmas Program!

Samuel did a great job this year with his first speaking part. He portrayed Father Abraham. And as a family, we all agreed that Sam put the Ham in Abraham!

I just love seeing those little ones in costumes, reciting their lines so earnestly and singing their hearts out. Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere! Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born!

Today's card features a little bit of old mixed with a little bit of new. The old? Basic Grey's Fruitcake papers paired with this wonderful image and sentiment from classic Amuse art studio stamps. The new? Snowflake dies from My Favorite Things made with the ultra yummy white card stock from Papertrey Ink.

A little bit of bling, fitting for a king!

Blessings on your Sunday, friends!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

His Unspeakable Gift

Last week, I was on the telephone with my sister, Jenny. We were discussing the spiritual thoughts that we'd been meditating on that week. Yeah, I know, that might sound strange for some people. But I come from a family that frequently has deep theological discussions around cups of coffee at the kitchen table. Discussions like "What do you think Dietrich Bonhoeffer meant by cheap grace?" and "How does that relate to the third article of Luther's catechism?" No, my father was not a pastor. Just a godly man with a godly wife who tried their best to raise a godly family. I guess you could say we're just Bible-loving freaks.

My sister has been pondering the words of John 3:16. Not just that God so loved the world, but that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. I bet there's a great Hebrew translation with lots of meaning there.

For me, I love the moments of perfect symmetry that are interspersed between the old and new testaments. Our brokenness came in a garden, with a man and a woman surrounded by animals to witness. And our redemption came in a stable, with a man and a woman surrounded by animals to witness. I love this thought, that somehow God has an important place for animals in the creation and redemption stories. It is a mystery, and someday the Lord will explain it to me.

This card perfectly sums up these thoughts. The sheep in the fields who saw the angels proclaim the Good News! God SO loved!

I LOVE this image from Unity stamp company! I paired it with the sentiment from Papertrey Ink. A clean and simple card proclaiming the Good News. Now that's what Christmas cards are all about!

Monday, December 5, 2011

We Now Interrupt...

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled Christmas card making to bring you...

...a birthday card!

December is a hectic month in our house. We not only celebrate Jesus' birthday, but we also celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday on the sixth and my husband's birthday on the seventeenth! Yep, twice the presents and twice the cleverness in just one month.

I received a lot of new dies from MFT Stamps this week! I couldn't resist their Black Friday sales, and thought it would be a great time to stock up on new dies for my favorite new crafting tool, the die cutting machine. I've used several different dies here: the bird is from the Homespun Bird House dies, and I paired it with the branch and leaves. The leaves are sweetly embossed in the process, making them look extra cute. I added a die and sentiment from PTI, a little twine, and a little faux stitching for fun.

My husband will have the chance to hand deliver this tomorrow when he makes the three and a half hour trip to take his mother out for a birthday dinner. Awww, isn't he a sweetie?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Traditional Red and Green

I made a few more cards for Christmas, using sketch challenges at Splitcoast Stampers to inspire me. I decided to use the red and green color palette. Artists will tell you that there's a good reason why these two colors pair well together. Red and green are opposites on the color wheel, and opposites do indeed attract!

For this fun and festive card, I used a Hero Arts stamp set with matching Sizzix dies. This card followed the sketch for Monday's Clean and Simple challenge. And I kept it so simple that I even resisted the urge to color in that snowman!

I made this card for today's sketch challenge. I had pulled out some October afternoon papers for crafting, and these were sitting on my desk. Non-traditional patterns, perhaps (from OA's Modern Homemaker), but still festive nonetheless! I paired two stamp sets from Papertrey Ink: Love Lives Here and Love Lives Here Holidays.

For some reason, I had to have all new Christmas stamps this year. In the past, I refused to spend a lot of money on Christmas stamps because they have such a limited time frame in which to use them. I would purchase winter stamps and nature stamps, but rarely a Christmas stamp. Well, not this year! When I decided to purge my stash of old stamps, I picked up quite a collection of new holiday stamps. Sure, it was a splurge. But if I was able to craft with some of those old stamps for a dozen years, I think this year's fresh supply should keep me crafting for many holidays to come!

Today, I splurged on my first Gingerbread Latte of the season. Mmm, it was so good! Be good to yourself today, friends!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Three More For Christmas

I checked my Christmas card box to see how the total was coming along. Ten. Yep, ten cards. December is two days away, and I only have ten cards made! Time to double down!

Today's color challenge at Splitcoast was interesting: kraft, white and pear. It's a very subtle/nontraditional Christmas palette.

For starters, I made this card featuring products from Papertrey Ink. I used the Damask Snowflake die, and paired it with stamps from Rustic Snowflakes. (Ink, tag and ribbon from SU, a little twinkle thanks to Stickles.)

The next card is super clean and simple. There's something very serene about this card that just makes me sigh contentedly. Stamp from Hero Arts, twinkle star from Amuse, Stickle snowy hill for a little wintry touch.

Finally, I made a little square card using this sweet image from Hero Arts. So soft and sweet, the words replete, of peace on earth, good will to men.

Three snowy cards for a snowy day. Make sure you warm yourself with a nice peppermint cocoa treat. Thanks for stopping by the cafe today!