Thursday, February 27, 2014

An Ink Comparison

A few years back, when I transitioned from red rubber stamps to clear photopolymer stamps, I noticed that I was becoming increasingly frustrated with my inks. They just were not performing as well as I liked.

Then SU introduced their new firm foam ink formulation, and I thought that solved the problem. Initially, I loved the coverage. But then I quickly noticed that what you gained in coverage, you lost in crispness.

Last month, after much reviewing online, I decided to purchase a boatload of new Hero Arts ink pads. I opened five, used them for a weekend, and decided that these were really not the solution to my problem, either. I wanted to love them. I love the range of colors that Hero Arts inks provides (probably why I am not a fan of the Ranger Distress inks...the colors are just too muddy for me, and I'm not a fan of the dark moody palette). But again, I found the coverage was good, but the crispness was spotty. Another thing that reviewers of Hero Arts Shadow Inks will not tell you...they stain your photopolymer stamps pretty heavily.  I returned all of the unopened ink pads and was back to square one.

I really really wanted to try the ink pads from Papertrey ink. After all, the company sells photopolymer stamps, so maybe they know something that the rest of the crafty world doesn't, right?

PTI had their anniversary sale this month, and I decided it was time to purchase the ink pads. Only this time, I bought the mini cube ink pads. It was a small investment to make, and at $1.86 for each ink pad, it was worth it! (These regularly sell for $2 each, and I still need about four or five colors that were out of stock at the time to complete my collection.)

A new rainbow of colors to play with...what could be more fun?

I got to work sampling a few and comparing them with my old ink pads, and here is what I found:

I like them! I really really like them! You do have to work at it a bit to ensure full ink coverage, but when you do, you end up with very good results. Full ink coverage AND crispness to boot!

I think these may work for me for several reasons:

*The cubes are so easy to store! I have them in the pullout drawer of my work area, easily accessible.

*PTI sells refill ink as well, which will be important, especially for the little cubes.

*The inks match the excellent card stock from Papertrey Ink that I have come to love.

*The color palette is so fresh and pretty!

Here is a wonderful tip that I learned this month from the PTI web forum boards. Before inking up you clear photopolymer stamp, rub your thumb over it. The natural oils on your thumb will coat the stamp, and make the ink adhere much better. I found this tip worked like a charm!

Now the question remains: will I keep my old ink pads or sell them off in time? Hmm. I suppose that if they collect dust, then I will know that they have outlived their usefulness. I am planning my annual spring garage sale for April or May (weather permitting), and we shall see what makes it into the "sell" pile!

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


This morning, as I lay in bed with my eyes closed, I listened for sounds of the house stirring. All was quiet indoors. And then my ear became attuned to a sound outdoors, outside my bedroom window, a song I haven't heard this long winter.


The birds are singing!

The snow still swirled outside, even as the sun attempted to break through the clouds. It looked, for all intents and purposes, like another winter morning. And yet the birds are singing a different song.

"We have survived the long winter! Sing praise to the Lord! He has kept our nest intact, and He has given us a new song to sing! We will sing of His faithfulness and goodness, and we will sing of eternal spring He has placed in our hearts!"

Their song brought out the artist in me. Stamp sets and paper, inks and glitter, paints and sprays. A little bit of everything!

This is no ordinary day. This is a day for miracles!

Blessings on your day, cafe friends!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

WPlus9 Challenge: On Trend

This week's challenge at WPlus9: Create a card that features something trendy. Mint and coral color combo? Super trendy. Watercolor anything? Super trendy. Metallics? Super trendy. Enamel dots? Super trendy.

That about covers it!

{Today's Brew: wplus9 stamps and dies, encore metallic silver ink, card stock (SU), enamel dots (My Mind's Eye), corner rounder, Basic Grey background papers, SU inks}

Thanks for visiting the cafe!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Little Springtime Hello

Some gardeners try to force bulbs indoors to get a jumpstart on gardening.

I am forcing spring indoors by changing a little bit of the decor in our house.

I needed my fireplace mantel to cheer me up and remind me that spring will come, eventually.

Out with the snowmen, in with the birds and bunnies!

Sigh! Now that makes me happy! Especially when I look out the front windows to the driveway and all I can see is this:

It looks like we are building the Great Wall of China right down the center of our driveway. We have so much snow that we have nowhere left to put it!

The good news is that we're expecting a warm up today, and much of this will melt away.

As I shoveled the drieway the other morning after another snowstorm, I felt the sun shining and heard the birds singing and I was reminded of this little bit of hope: spring is coming! Winter is loosening its grasp, and all things will be made new.

Time for a happy hello!

{Today's Brew: Rosie Posie stamp set (PTI), hello die (PTI), card stock (SU), Crate Paper striped paper, inks (SU)}

I made an envelope to match this card. Maybe it will make a mail carrier smile when they deliver it to its recipient.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Little Room For Improvement

Good Monday Morning, cafe friends!

Today I thought I'd share with you a card that I made at my local stamp shop last week. Well, technically, I made it at the shop, but brought it home and improved upon it just a bit. Here it is:

Super cute, right?

Hero Arts makes a background stamp that gives the look and effect of chalkboard. Brilliant! All you have to do is ink it up with some white pigment ink, stamp it on dark paper, and voila! Chalkboard without the mess!

When I brought the card home, it looked a little plain. The only things on the chalkboard were the stamped leaves and sentiment and the paper heart. I don't know. It looked lonely to me. So to make it not so lonely, I cut out the corners in red using a die from wplus9 stamps (this is actually meant to be the roof of a teeny bird house from Folk Art Florals dies, but I thought the little scallops would make a cut corner detail). Okay, better! Then, I added the straight lines connecting the corners with my SU chalkboard marker. Ahh! Perfect! Everyone was happy, no one was lonely, one big happy family!

Thanks for visiting the cafe today! By the way, don't go to the post office today. Or the mail box. Or the bank. It's President's Day. Just stay indoors and hibernate where it's warm. Grab a latte, read a book, look at a spring flower catalog and think warm thoughts.

You're welcome. :)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Class Valentines

When it comes to big card projects, there are two things you should know about me.

1.) I don't like making multiples, and

2.) I will put it off to the last minute.

Hmmm, now I know where my boys get their tendency to procrastinte from!

So, of course, the night before Valentine's Day, I was scrambling to make 23 cards for Sam's fourth grade classroom.

Last year, we used images from Paper Smooches Teen Routine stamp set. Sam loved the game controller and ipod images. Well, this year, Sam picked another Paper Smooches stamp set for his Valentines. And here they are:

Our theme was punny breakfast! I found these old Martha Stewart note cards in my stash. Perfect for quick and easy stamping! I liked the red borders...they gave a touch of vintage valentine to these fun and graphic images.

Quick stampin and coloring! This calls for a toast!

Sam is a good egg, and he loves bacon. What boy doesn't love bacon?

This card was for his special buddies that watch Adventure Time. Apparently, Jake the Dog sings a song called "Bacon Pancakes".

Breakfast Valentines, made to order and served sunny side up.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines, Birthdays, and Lovingkindness

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today is a special day, not just because of this lovey Hallmark holiday (he he), but because it is my sister, Sue's birthday!

Happy Birthday, Susie! Love you!

Let me tell you a little about my sister. Sue does church. I don't mean that she goes to church. She does that, too. No, Sue does church. She has fully embraced a ministry serving her people, whom she refers to as her unhoused friends. Saturday mornings you will find her downtown, rain or shine or subzero temperatures, handing out food to her friends. And when she's not there, she's at the mission, loving on her people. And when she's not there, she's serving new moms and their babies at her day job at the hospital.

Sue is on fire for Jesus.

When she jumped into this ministry a few years back, she had no idea how much it would cost her. The answer? A lot. But she will probably tell you that she also had no idea how much it would give her in return.

I am a little jealous. I feel as though, for the first time in a LONG time, I want to get in the game. And yet God has me sitting on the benches.

"C'Mon, Coach! Put me in the game!" I want to shout.

Sometimes it is just plain hard to identify your ministry, to figure out where God is pointing for you to go.

I am going to church, but I am not doing church. Oh, we do fellowship and donuts and coffee. We do hymns and offerings and bible study. But we don't do church. We are not the hands and feet of Jesus. I want to find a church that will let me do this, that will challenge me every day to do this. I don't think I've found it yet.

This week, I've felt a little broken and bruised and battered. Just weary, plain and simple.

But in the midst of it all, God gave me a fresh word.

"Hesed", He whispered to me.


Because it's when I'm tired and just plain hungry for Him that He reminds me of His hesed, His lovingkindness to me.

I think God gave me this fresh word to share it with my sister, too. That is what I want for her this feel God's ever present and eternal hesed for her. And to continue to share that love with others.

Because Love never fails.

{Today's Brew: WPlus9 stamps and dies, PTI white card stock, SU ink and card stock}

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WPlus9 Step It Up Challenge

This week, WPlus9 is hosting a challenge to Step It Up and add dimension to your card making. I decided to give it a try with this card by:
1.) Using embossing folders to give texture
2.) Using distress sponging and spraying to add interest and depth
3.) Using burlap to give more texture
4.) Mixing elements like velvet ribbon and metal, soft and rough
5.) Adding die cuts with foam dimensionals

{Today's Brew: Fanciful Feathers stamps and dies (wplus9), PTI kraft card stock, SU ink and card stock, SU embossing folder, Mr. Huey mist, linen thread, copper dots}

Blessings, friends!

Monday, February 10, 2014


Happy Monday!

Today's card features this color combo:

Combined with this sketch:

To create this card:

This card makes me crazy happy. It's one layer, it's colorful, it's simple, and it works so well for all ages!

{Today's Brew: Think Big Favorites stamp (PTI), Background Basics Distressed Stripes stamp set (PTI), PTI card stock, inks (SU), enamel dots (My Mind's Eye)}

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My PTI Selfie

Okay, I must confess. I hate selfies. Especially if that self taking the selfie is me. I'm not a "taking photos of myself" gal. I'm more of a "taking photos of myself and wondering how that old woman photobombed my shot" kind of gal.

But PTI asked us to take a photo of ourselves holding up our birthday card creations, so here it is.

Not sure who this old woman is, but she keeps appearing in photos of me. ;)

Papertrey Ink is celebrating a birthday this month, and so am I! PTI is seven, and I am...not seven. I may be turning seven, plus or minus forty years, but hey! Who's counting!

Happy Birthday, Papertrey Ink! Thanks for seven years of creativity and inspiration!

Happy Birthday, Papertrey Ink!

This morning, PTI posted a challenge to make a birthday card in honor of the PTI birthday month celebration. I combined the sketch and color inspiration challenges for this card.

I used these colors:

And combined them with this sketch:

To make this card!

{Today's Brew: Wishing You stamp set (PTI), card stock (PTI), inks (SU), scallop edge die}

I am seriously thankful for PTI. A few years back, I was ready to give up paper crafting completely. And then I had a new idea. Why not sell off what I have (too much!) and invest in some new companies that appeal to me and spark my creativity. That is exactly what I did!

One of you dear readers ( I think it was you, Linda!) asked me a while back if I ever regretted selling off my old stamps. I can honestly say not one bit. I do not miss anything I ever sold off. There are way too many fresh companies out there that can better capture my new sense of style. I sold off BOATLOADS of wood mounted stamp sets that took up so much room. It was just so visually cluttering and creatively stifling for me. I can do much so more with so much less. I still pare down my stash every year, but I also refresh it very selectively with new products.

This year, I plan on purchasing PTI inks and a LOT more PTI card's simply the best! I may have to have a garage sale first, but it's on my to do list!

PTI Anniversary Card: Girl Talk

Hello, cafe friends! I'm serving up a hot latte inspiration in a travel mug today, so grab your favorite coffee cozy and get ready!

PTI offered some great downloads featuring color combos and sketches. I was inspired by this color palette:

And combined it with this sketch:

A little whip, a few sprinkles of cinnamon, and here is today's brew!

{Today's Brew: Heart to Heart Stamp set (PTI), Background Basics Gingham stamp (PTI), card stock (PTI), inks (SU), dies (PTI)}

I have a few PTI sets that haven't been getting enough use lately, so I'm trying to break them in. Seriously, how could this set not be in heavy rotation for me? Travel coffee cups...with cozies! I love it!

I confess, I stamped the sentiment with Distress Stain in walnut, and it got a little smudgy (still looking for the perfect inks!). Cue Charlie Brown's "AAAARGH!" The five year old temper tantrum "me" wanted to throw the whole thing out and start from scratch. Luckily, the more mature "me" made a rare appearance and said "Hey, that's no big deal. Just stamp those smudgy words over onto a different piece of card stock and make it look like you meant to do that all along!"

So I did. And it worked.

Maturity! Pass it on!  :)

This message was brought to you by a woman fueled by espresso.

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

PTI's Monthly Moments

Papertrey Ink is jumping in to the pocket scrapbooking market with a new line called Monthly Moments! Yea! They will even be carrying Simple Stories albums (my personal fave!). Today's challenge: Make a pocket card to fit in a 3 X 4 pocket. Done!

{Today's Brew: All Booked Up (PTI), Library Ledger (PTI), Beautiful Butterflies and die (PTI), PTI kraft and ivory card stock, SU ink and card stock, washi tape, brads}

I think this would be a fun card to include in a page about what books I'm reading that month.

I can't wait to see what products PTI will be releasing each month for this scrapbook series!

Thanks for looking, cafe friends!

PTI Anniversary Challenge!

It's February, and you know what that means...anniversary time at Papertrey Ink! PTI is celebrating their 7th anniversary with all sorts of great challenges and giveaways. I made a card for the challenge yesterday, and here it is!

{Today's Brew: Heart to Heart stamp set (PTI), Think Big Favorites (PTI), card stock (PTI), ink (SU), embossing folder (SU) }

We had some miraculous sun shine for two days in a row! Oh, how I needed that! Sure, we still have temps in the teens, but I can soak up the sun and dream of warmer days!

I used these colors as my inspiration:

And I used this sketch :

Put the two together, and voila!

Happy Sunshiny days, my friends!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

WPlus9 Inspired: Comfort Zone Challenge

Dawn is celebrating the WPlus9 Anniversary this month! She posed the question on her blog:

Where is your comfort zone? Your fall back style? Your signature look?

For me, that one's pretty easy. I'm A Little Bit Country! (sing it, Marie Osmond!)

Here's my take on this challenge:

{Today's Brew: Fresh Baked stamp set and dies (wplus9), PTI Kraft card stock, Simple Stories papers, SU ink and ribbon, wplus9 pinking square dies}

And speaking of vintage country, I've been surfing ebay this week, looking at a few of my new obsessions...vintage tole trays, Pennsylvania Dutch art, fraktur, and Pyrex/Corningware. Look at what I found!

Oh my goodness, this is so stinkin' cute! It made me think of the Fresh Baked stamp set right away! I feel a new collection obsession coming on!

Thanks for visiting the cafe today! (Tell me, what's your comfort zone?)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Case of the Februaries

I have a bad case of early onset Februaries today.

No sun in sight...for days on end.

Snow in the weather forecast...again.

Stuck indoors and getting a little stir crazy.

What to do?

I know. Check Google for odd facts like this:

Yep, as I suspected. I am Vitamin D deficient, and with good reason. Sun, where for art thou, sun?  And where is a Happy Lamp when I need one?

When nothing else will cure this condition, there's always the tele.

Brilliant! Feeling a little British now, so I think I'll make myself a cuppa.

A new tea recipe from my sister called London Fog. Mmm, so good! Thank you, sister Sue! This one hit the spot.

Still feeling a little British...perhaps it's the gloomy weather. I know, I will pick up my stitching.

Flowers from my favorite British Cross Stitcher magazine.

Can't concentrate now that I'm hopped up on caffeine.

Put down the stitching and go to the craft room.

Make a Valentine.

Washi and die cuts, hearts and glitter, enamel dots and banners. A frenetic example of how I'm feeling today.

Wash, rinse, repeat. Stuck in Bill Murray's Groundhog Day.

Will someone tell me when this Februaritis will go away?

No, not you, Groundhog. Put down your paw. I am not speaking to you. You are not my friend anymore.

Time to burrow under a blanket with a book and a mug of something warm.

{Today's Brew: White card stock (PTI), colored card stock (SU), heart die cuts (wplus9), love die cut (paper smooches), arrow die cut (SU), enamel dots (My Mind's Eye), washi tape}

Sunday, February 2, 2014

WPlus9 Monday Mood Board: A Card Cannibalized and a Card Simplified

Does this one look vaguely familiar?

So, I mentioned in the last post that I liked the elements of the card, but not the layout. I stared at that thing for a few days and then came up with a solution.

I cannibalized the card.

Yep, took it apart and put it back together again. Used a little of this, got rid of some of that, found something I liked much better. Because I know myself...if I don't like a card, I'll never send it. Ne-ver.

I ripped off the focal point from that last card, used a portion of that watercolored paper, and cut it into a banner. Stamped the I Love You on it in gold. I knew this would be the perfect spot for it on the card because, uhm, well, that's the spot where I tore a bit of the paper and needed to cover the boo boo. I learned a long time ago...there are no mistakes in stamping, only opportunities to layer. ha ha ha! The diecut letters in gold shimmer paper are just plain fun. Now I finally like this card!

Then I attempted this challenge with a fresh approach. Simplified!

I used the holiday stamp set Woodland Wreaths and stamped the elements in spring colors.

This one is so simple and sweet...I love it!

{Today's Brew: Woodland Wreaths (wplus9), soft stone card stock (PTI), heart border die (PTI), gold encore ink, SU inks, cord ribbon}

Sorry for the terrible lighting and photo quality today. I do not know HOW that groundhog could have possibly seen its shadow today. I do not live far from Punxsutawney, and there is no way they could have had any sunshine for a shadow to appear. Curse you, groundhog!

As a matter of fact, I have learned that Pittsburgh is probably the second cloudiest city in the US, with the least amount of days of sunlight...right after Seattle. It makes for terrible photo conditions! But I will add this...Pittsburghers take it in stride. They seem to provide their own sunshine.

Sunny wishes to you, cafe friends!