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!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shop Local Saturday

Today was Shop Local Saturday, a day dedicated to supporting our local small businesses. And by local small business, that does not include the big box store that was selling the flat screen TVs at midnight on Black Friday! Nope! I'm talking about the brick and mortar stores that our country was built upon.

I had a shopping partner who was happy to accompany me to the shops downtown for a little fun. With a grande peppermint mocha in one hand and a camera in the other, we set off for a shop hop in downtown Noblesville.

We always have fun at Logan's Antique Mall! This is where I pick up my car air fresheners from A Cheerful Giver candle company. Today's fragrance: Cozy Cabin!

Sometimes. window shopping is just as much fun as shopping in the stores. The Linden Tree had some lovely displays, and they sell a great assortment of candles from Trapp (Winter Air is the perfect mix of pine and snow!).

Sam loves to shop at The Wild, a small independently owned children's book store ( think Meg Ryan's Shop Around the Corner in You've Got Mail!). I picked up a great gift for my god daughter's birthday next month. We liked the sign posted at the register...a good reminder!

I am a terrible holiday shopper because I always find too many things for myself! Today was no exception! I had to have this cute hand-crafted hair band. Fun and funky!

Rosie's Place is one of our favorite restaurants. The owners are recent transplants from St. Louis, just like us. They've been in operation for over a year now, and business is booming every time I visit! Open for breakfast and lunch, with a bakery to tempt you as you leave. This wreath out front was so simple and stunning. Love those green apples!

Did you know that for every $100 spent in independently owned stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures. But if you spend that same $100 at a national chain, only $43 stays in the community. I love my local Target and Macy's and Barnes and Noble, but I also love my corner cafes and quaint shops and antique malls. I'm not a Black Friday mall shopper, but I do confess to doing a little online shopping this weekend. I guess that when it comes to spending, I like to share the love.

Love your local shops, friends! And when you stop in, tell them I sent you. :)

For more information on shopping local, visit the 350 project!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bonus! Red and Green Friday!

I was finished paper crafting for the day. FINISHED! And then I saw this lovely photo challenge on Nichole's blog at Papertrey ink, and I knew I had to play along!

And what's not to love! The red gingham, the red toile, the evergreen roping on the banister, the ice skates and snowflakes and wide red ribbon. Perfection!

The old me would have gotten all flowery, with lots of layers and ribbons and snowflakes and glitter. The new Clean and Simple me decided to interpret this style in a new way.

Some greenery and a pair of red birds (Little Bitty Bird), a strip of gingham (Background Basics), a twinkling star and a simple sentiment (Tag-Its #8).

Hope your black Friday was filled with red and green and joy!

Home Sweet Home for Thanksgiving

When the last of the boys returned home for the holiday, the house felt complete once again. Even our old lab, Maggie, had a grin from ear to ear!

It was a nice, quiet celebration at home, complete with fancy Spode turkey dishes and our favorite hand blown wine glasses (perfect even for the Kool Aid drinkers of the house!).

The applique pumpkin table runner has served its purpose for the entire season!

I love the look of the applique images from this Waltzingmouse Stamps set (Sewing Box Hugs). It gives the look of a blanket stitch applique without all the hassle of actually stitching something! (Am I the only person who has to look up "How to blanket stitch" every time? Where would I be without Youtube videos?)

This card was done with papers from We R Memory Keepers (Autumn Splendor). A little bit of cutting, a little bit of gluing, and a whole lot of homespun. Soft, muted colors, just like the tail end of Autumn.

The sun is shining and the sky is blue. Time to take a walk to work off some of that pumpkin pie! Blessings, Friends!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sentimental Background

Papertrey Ink posted a make It Monday challenge yesterday: Use your sentiment stamps to create a background for a card. Hmm. I liked this idea!

I used the stamp set "Silent Night" (PTI), a gift from Nancy(Phantom at SCS) and her random acts of kindness. Thank you, Nancy!

I decided to use shades of blue, and to pair a Christmas carol stamp with a bible verse stamp in a staggered fashion. Then, I used soft sky ink to stamp some stars and swirls, and I sponged the edges to soften them. A little seam binding and silver cord, a silver star, and a ONE LAYER CARD that turned out nice and simple. woo hoo!

When I make a Christmas card that has a generic "holiday" look to it, I always try to stamp an appropriate bible verse somewhere inside of the card. Dayspring does this with their cards, and I've always appreciated that. I like to remind myself and others of the reason for the season. This card needs no reminders. The reasons are all over the card front!

I'm still plugging away at Christmas cards, and I need to be getting my Thanksgiving cards in the mail TODAY! Thanksgiving is Thursday? In two days, you say? Yikes! Time to get to the mailbox before the postwoman!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Quick Gift Tag

Yesterday, I needed a quick gift tag for a pre-holiday present. Nothing too Christmas-y, just something festive. Papertrey Ink's new Christmas Poinsettia set to the rescue! The wonderful thing about poinsettias is that they come in so many, white, pink, and others. I thought this pink and green combo was bright and cheery!

I was in a bit of a hurry, so I hand cut the leaves rather than using a die cut. I added some red Stickles berries in the center for a touch of glitter.

I had a chance to play with the matching die cuts for this set. What fun! PTI sells some lovely felts in nice colors. I layered the flowers and added some red colonial knots to the center with a needle and some DMC floss. I thought this would make a nice addition to a holiday gift package.

I'm going to have a lot of fun with felt and my Big Kick in the future! I have a project that I'm working out on paper, combining die cut felt and needle art on a weaver's cloth background. I'm designing my own pattern, something to stitch in the winter months. For now, I'll continue to work on the holiday projects.

Chicken Cacciatore in the slow cooker, pumpkie pie for dessert. Joyful Sunday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Brick by Brick

When it comes to LEGO, my family gives this toy two thumbs up! My boys have loved LEGOs for a LONG time! Yes, Sam is just eight, so it is understandable. But Luke, who is 21, and John Ryan, who is 18, still love LEGO, too! My oldest sons have built with LEGOs for years, and yes, we've spent a lot of money on those little pieces of plastic over the years. But I truly feel that this creative outlet shaped my oldest sons and their future careers. (Luke is studying construction management and John Ryan is studying engineering). When I consider that John Ryan received a substantial scholarship to the top-ranked engineering institute in the country, then I guess that our investment has paid off!

Our local library recently sponsored a LEGO exhibit called "Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle". A local chiropractor in his forties built this amazingly detailed display. We were blown away!

Look what we spotted in the display! A Starbucks coffee cart! Now that's what I call an attention to detail!

The beach behind the hotel had dozens of palm trees and sunbathers on colorful beach towels!

What's a hotel without streets and parking lots?

Sam stared at this exhibit for over thirty minutes, and he wants to go see it again so that he can show his brothers. What fun!

Today's Splitcoast Challenge was to make a card inspired by pixels, those teeny little dots and squares that make up images. Pixels are a lot like LEGO bricks. You put enough together, and you can make something pretty amazing!

This paper from Basic Grey (Dasher) has a pixellated look, don't you think? All of those little snowy dots look like a pointillism painting by Seurat. (There I go, showing off my fancy Frenchiness again!)

I'm really loving the stamp set "Peace Be Still" from Heather Nichols over at PTI. Truthfully, I don't think there's anything at Pinefeather Press that I don't love! Remember the line from the movie Jerry Maguire when Rene Zellweger says "You had me at 'Hello'." Well, for a northern girl, Heather had me at 'Pine'. :)

Blessed Friday, friends!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dark Days Lifted

In recent years, I have come to acknowledge that I suffer from bouts of depression. More than likely, it is a side effect from my chronic Lyme disease. Whatever the cause, the dark days can come out of the blue, and it will take me some weeks before I am out of the pit.

I am not alone. As a matter of fact, you just have to read the Psalms of King David or the writings of Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon to see that I am in good company. Luther and Spurgeon are well known theologians who had great faith, but were also very candid with the fact that they were frequent sufferers of depression. At one time, Luther's wife, Kate, dressed in mourning clothes. When Luther asked her why she was donned in black, she answered that from Martin's deep sadness, she figured that God must have died. Luther was no slouch as a husband. He got the point.

When the dark days come upon me, it is not because of some flaw in my faith. I trust God, and I seek Him with all of my heart and pursue Him on a daily basis. The dark days actually find me clinging to Him more fervently than those happy sunshine days. In those days, I wrestle with God. And just like Jacob, who wrestled with God as well, He blesses me in the end.

At some point, there comes a time when I have to fully surrender to the work He is doing in me. As I learned from my recent Joyce Meyer bible study this week, there are things that will not change. Life won't change. The Devil uses the same tricks time and again, and he won't change. God, in his sovereignty, is unchangeable. The only thing that can change is me.

There really is no secret formula for change, though people will try to tell you that if you only do X,Y and Z, then your sadness will disappear and you'll be happy again. Join that class. Call that person. Take that vitamin. Drink that tea. Read that book. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. I can try everything external under the sun, but until there is an internal shift then there will be no change.

I felt the internal shift last week.

The job that I had come to dread had somehow become a little easier. I began to cheer myself on. I think I can! I think I can! Like the Little Engine that could, I persevered, and made it over a difficult hill.

I persevered at church and did not give up the practice of meeting together, just as the writer of Hebrews warned in chapter 10:25. Sunday worship, Sunday night women's bible study, Wednesday night family devotions night. And slowly, as I became more honest with my new church family, I've found greater acceptance and love than ever before.

No great changes. Just changes in me.

I still have a quiet life, a quiet job, I live in a quiet house and attend a quiet church. I deal with loneliness on a daily basis. There are days when this quietness is very foreign to me, and other days when I embrace it like a long lost friend.

This week, I am thankful that God has brought me out of the pit once again. It will be a quiet Thanksgiving and Christmas here at home this year. Just my husband, my boys, my old girl, Maggie, and our church home. It will be peaceful, and it will be plenty. I have everything I need.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Organization and Storage

In September, I had a "crise de craft" and decided to put away paper crafting and do away with all of that clutter. After a month of soul searching, I learned a few things. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy paper crafting. It was that I didn't enjoy the clutter and mess. I was bored with my twelve year supply of stamps and just not feeling creative anymore. That's when I realized that I could sell off my old stamps and use the money to purchase fresh new stamps and supplies.

One thing was certain. I could not go back to wood mounted stamps. I needed to go totally unmounted and I needed to be choosier about the stamps I purchased. Storage would be an issue. I wanted all of my supplies to be pared down and kept neatly in one craft studio. I have one armoire and a bookcase in my studio, and it had better be able to house it all, or it would have to go.

I decided to purchase a boatload of DVD cases from Amuse Studio, and I used these to store my new clear mount stamps. They fit very nicely on the shelf in my armoire. Nice and neat and easily accessible. I LOVE THEM!

Look at that! Thirty two stamp sets neatly housed in a space that measures about 8 inches by 15 inches. Amazing!

I have loved the stamps from Papertrey Ink for quite some time. However, I did not love their CD storage system. Those flimsy CD cases were always breaking, and it was so easy to lose a stamp in that space that was open near the spine. This is no longer an issue! Another wonderful feature of the DVD case is that you can store stamps on both sides of the open case, and when it is closed the two sides do not touch, so your stamps do not stick together. Yea!

The DVD cases have a wrapper around them that allows you to slip in a piece of card stock or a cover. I chose to slip in the sticker sheet that serves as an index label. This way, I can easily see what stamps are housed in this case.

My next project will be to use my DYMO label maker to put the name of each stamp set on the spine of the DVD case. That will be a piece of cake. I love my DYMO label maker!

I must confess...the rest of my studio is a bit messy today. But my stamps are looking neat as a pin, and that makes me happy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Heartfelt Christmas

Hello, and welcome back to the cafe! Did you know that we are now serving holiday favorites, like Peppermint Mocha Latte? Mmmm. Coffee and chocolate and peppermint...what could be better?

Today's holiday brew uses three sets from Papertrey Ink: Love Lives Here(Holidays), Background Basics Gingham and Background Basics Tintypes. Tintypes was a gift from fellow stamper Nancy (aka Phantom at SCS!) Thank you, again, Nancy! I love this set!

I had a little help from my Distress It sprays to give the lace and Tintype panel an antique look. These antiquing solutions are actually used for rug hooking, punch needle, and other projects. They are made by Hooked On Rugs, and I find myself reaching for them whenever I want to give something that instant aged quality.

These come in two colors, and they are both named after me: Slightly Distressed and Extremely Distressed, depending on the day. HA HA HA!

One more Christmas card finished, dozens more to go. How are you coming on your holiday card making?

I was at the post office today, mailing stamp sets to their new owners (don't forget to check out the A to Z list of stamps for sale!), and the clerk asked me if I needed any Christmas stamps.

"No, thank you, " I replied. "I'm going to continue to deny that I'll be needing them for a little while longer."

She laughed and said "Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week?"

No, I cannot! Guess I better get some Thanksgiving cards mailed ASAP!

Thanks for stopping by the cafe today!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Feeling Holly Jolly

I officially started my Christmas shopping yesterday. Let the holiday frenzy begin! I have a new holiday gift giving plan that I'm hoping to implement in our household. I'm calling it the Three Present Principle. Everyone will have three presents to open. Just three. I figure if three presents were good enough for baby Jesus, then that has to be plenty for my family, too. I'm not sure how my boys will feel about this plan. Something tells me that Sam will be taking a much bigger list to Santa!

Time to get busy on Christmas cards! Today's card started out with really clean and simple principles. One strip of patterned paper, and everything else stamped on a one layer card base. That worked out just fine until...I stamped the sentiment crooked. AAARGH! as Charlie Brown would say. So I covered up today's boo (that's been a theme this week, hasn't it?) with a little sentiment pennant.

I love buttons, and this Holiday Button Bits from PTI was a must-have item. The buttons do add a bit of extra bulk when mailing, though. Hmm. Maybe these button cards will go in boxes when it comes time to send holiday gifts home. I may even have to start crafting a few paper and felt "buttons" in place of these vintage buttons.

Do you use buttons on your cards? If so, how do you approach the mailing problems with bulkier cards? I sometimes use a small sheet of thin foam or bubble wrap for a little extra padding.

Have you started holiday shopping yet?