Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I've been tagged

Melanie has tagged me to tell you some random things about me. I'm pretty new to this whole blogging thing, so I'm sure it will be really easy to tell you 7 things about me that you don't already know.

1. I grew up in Kansas, and it's a really great place. Yes, parts (okay, most parts) of Kansas are pretty darned flat, but it's beautiful. I may be a bit biased because my grandfather was a wheat farmer, but I love the fields when the wheat is almost ready for harvest. Another thing I love is driving down the road and seeing a sign marking the location of the Chisholm Trail and being able to easily imagine what the land looked like when a horse was the best method of transportation.

2. I've been married for over 20 years. My husband and I met my first week of college, and were friends for four years. We finally figured out that we might be more than friends just a couple of months before I graduated. And here we are, being grown-ups with two kids. Strange how that happens.

3. I'm a chronic volunteer. I love to belong to organizations that suit my life and interests and am always happy to help out. This has led me to holding lots of volunteer positions with many groups. I've frequently been a newsletter editor, since I'm pretty computer savvy, not to mention always online. I'm currently the Copy Queen for my kids' school PTA. Yes, I took the job for the title. How often do you have the chance to land a royal title for your volunteer resume? The job sounds pretty fancy, huh? What it really means is that I stand in line for the copier a lot while getting to know every teacher and aide in the school. And since I enjoy hanging out and chatting with people, it suits me well.

4. I talk a lot. Really. I rarely will give a ten word answer if I can do it in a hundred. No idea why.

5. I love puzzles of all kinds. Jigsaw puzzles are great fun. I also love the kind with pieces of wood, metal rings, and string, where you have to take them apart and then put them back together even though something about it looks totally impossible. And I'm a sudoku junkie. I always have multiple sudoku books in progress - the harder the better.

6. I'm a little bit OCD about my hobbies. I tend to fall for a hobby head over heels, collecting every possible thing that you could ever want to use. If something comes in hundreds of colors, sign me up for at least one of each!

7. I like to imagine that I could be a minimalist, with a clean house with nice wide open rooms. Never gonna happen. See number 6 above for at least one reason. I am getting a lot better at letting stores STORE things for me. I mean, really, I live within five miles of every single store known to mankind (and multiples of some of them!) With the exception of some places that aren't open when I need something (grumble, grumble, why do I always want something from Hobby Lobby on Sunday?) there is not much reason for me to have every possible item in my possession at all times. I love shopping for organizing stuff, but for some reason, I never seem to get a lot more organized.

Hmm. I need to tag some more people. Let's see, how about:
Heather, Robyn, April, Teresa, and Elaine.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Successful kid crafts

I survived the lock in! We had our first-ever PTA lock in at my kids' elementary school tonight. I was in charge of crafts. I punched out hundreds and hundreds of scalloped circles from cheap patterned paper I bought ages ago. I bought lots of glue sticks (really cheap ones that were $2.99 a dozen at Hobby Lobby), and I used up most of my remaining retired Stampin' Up! copper cord for the hanging loops. We had 130 kids at the lock in. I think at least half of them made ornaments with me. Some of the kids really went crazy making several of them. They used up all of the supplies that I brought and had a blast. Several of the girls requested that I start a craft club. Hmm. Interesting idea.

Check out all of these great ornaments made by K-5th graders!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Very non-holiday birthday gift

Here's a nugget box and card that I made tonight for a sweet friend at my girls' school. She's the library aide, and we became friends when I volunteered at the school bookfair. She has two girls the same age as my girls, and we were finishing each other's sentences from the moment we met. We joke that we were separated at birth and call each other "sister", though we could not look more different. We get some fun looks from people who don't know why we think we're sisters.

This is the first time I've cut into the Cutie Pie designer paper. Isn't it cute? It's so easy to make a quick happy card with it! If you'd like lots of patterns for nugget boxes, check out my thread on Splitcoaststampers. There are tons of sizes to choose from, holding from two to thirty nuggets. This box holds sixteen, which is perfect for spelling "Happy Birthday" on the labels.

To answer Robyn's question - the labels are stamped with Bud Basics. I used the big flower outline (in bashful blue, purely pomegranate and so saffron) and the leaf outline (in celery). And of course, the letters are the Whimsical Alpha.

Stamps - It's Your Birthday (Stampin' Up!), Bud Basics (Stampin' Up!), Whimsical Lowercase Alphabet (Stampin' Up! retired), Wonderful Wishes (Verve Visual)
Paper - Cutie Pie, Purely Pomegranate, Whisper White, Certainly Celery, So Saffron
Ink - Purely Pomegranate, Certainly Celery, So Saffron, Bashful Blue, Night of Navy
Accessories - slit punch, 1 1/4" circle punch, 1 3/8" circle punch, scallop circle punch, dimensionals, sticky strip, pomegranate satin ribbon (all Stampin' Up!)
, Sakura gellyroll stardust pen, Avery mailing labels
I have to show you something really awesome! I've been wanting a great way to store all of my punches. I've seen and loved the curtain rods on the wall that a lot of people are using, but I'm fickle. I move my stuff around a lot. So I don't really want something mounted permanently to the wall. I was talking to Mike, my fabulous handyman neighbor, and asking if he could build me something to solve the problem. Well, he did me one better. He grabbed a few of my punches and stuck them right in the CD rack that I use for my stamps. What do you know! They fit perfectly - every single size from the little bitty ones right up to the Marvy Giga punches. And I have another CD rack just like this one in the garage (sometimes being a packrat pays off). Problem solved! We're moving my stamp room (yes, again!) soon, and I'll put the other CD rack into operation then.

Wanna see why I think Mike is so brilliant? Stop by my family web page and check out our remodeling from this summer!

My own personal sweat shop

Okay, the peppermint patty baskets are finished! Here's a picture of all seventy of them together. I did 30 with Dashing designer paper, and 40 with Wintergreen. The sentiment that you can see on the top mint is from Verve Visual's Seasonal Circles set. The other two mints (not pictured) feature two different snowflakes from Verve Visual's Winter Wonder set.

I don't really mind making a bunch of something fun like these baskets. It's really just a matter of setting up a little assembly line. The only thing that I'm tired of right now is the smell of peppermint patties! This took a little over five bags full. So here we are with a way to use five bucks worth of paper and other supplies to deliver twenty five dollars worth of candy!


Paper: For the 30 red/green boxes - Very Vanilla, Dashing, Old Olive, Real Red, River Rock (all Stampin' Up!). For the 40 blue/green boxes - White, Wintergreen, Sage Shadow, Soft Sky, Almost Artichoke (all Stampin' Up!)
Stamps: Seasonal Circles, Winter Wonder (all Verve Visual)
Accessories: scallop circle punch, 1 1/4" circle punch, 1 3/8" circle punch, 1/16" circle punch, silver brads, mini glue dots (all Stampin' Up!)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Works in progress and tired tools

I'm sure that you've seen these adorable little peppermint patty baskets by now. They're cute and fun to make. So of course I decided that they'd be fun to make for lots of the staff people at my kids' school. I have a habit of making a little something for everyone who works with my kids, has worked with my kids, who I've worked with through the PTA, who works in the office, and so on. So pretty much everyone. It's lots of fun to show up at the school the last week before the holidays and play the elf! I still have more to make - I think this is 30 so far. I should probably get closer to 70.

This Friday night, we're having the first ever "Lock In" at the kids' school. It was originally going to be an overnight event, but we scaled it back, and now it's just 6 to 10 p.m. I volunteered to be in charge of crafts. We're going to make the scallop punch ornaments like I showed on my Christmas tree a couple of days ago. They're quick to make and not messy. I'm pre-punching and scoring the scalloped circles, so all the kids will have to do is choose their pieces and glue it all together. I'll have them use inexpensive glue sticks. This is such a great project for using up all of that cheap patterned paper that I bought on sale before I got picky!

My poor, poor Marvy Giga Scalloped Circle punch! She is oh so very tired, and maybe even ready to be replaced. It's a bad sign when you have to whack the punch to unstick it after every single punch, right? And yes, I've tried the waxed paper, foil, and freezer tricks. I think the poor girl is just plumb worn out. I have punched out over 1000 circles already, and I really should do some more. The school has over 500 students, and we don't have a count yet of how many are coming on Friday. Surely it will be over 100, I think, even with us charging money for the lock in.

I will try my best to get a picture of the ornaments the kids make on Friday evening before they take them all home!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sisterhood 3 of the Blogging Stampers!

I've joined a group called Sisterhood 3 of the Blogging Stampers. It's a group of bloggers who offer comments and encouragement to each other - a nice thing in the ever-more-crowded world of blogging. So for the new sisters coming from that group, thanks for visiting!

I'm a techie by training, and an artist/crafter by choice. My degree is in mathematics, and I worked for a number of years in the math and computer fields. I left the corporate world twelve years ago, both because I was burned out and because I wanted to have more time to explore my creative side. I bought a lot of beads, took a lot of jewelry-making classes, and spent several seasons selling jewelry at art fairs. Tons of fun! After my first daughter was born, I found that tiny little beads and flying bits of wire didn't work very well with a baby in the house. So the jewelry went on the back burner.

Then I went on to rediscover a craft that I learned as a young girl - crochet. I was taught by my grandmother at around age eight. I became involved in a wonderful group called Heartmade Blessings. HMB's mission is to make afghans for people who are in need of comfort. This includes those who have lost a loved one or suffered some other kind of hardship. The group makes crochet squares and then sends them to members who assemble them into afghans made from squares by many different crocheters. The resulting afghans radiate warmth and goodwill to those who receive them. It's a fabulous group, and if you're a crocheter or know one, I highly recommend it.

Through my association with HMB, I also became a crochet pattern designer! We are always in need of fun square patterns, and several members design patterns for the group. You can see my crochet patterns on my family web page.

And of course, I'm now addicted to stamping as well. I'm a demonstrator for Stampin' Up! - mostly for my own purchases, though I do have a handful of friends who join me from time to time. I've begun selling some of the cards that I make, and with the recent changes in SU!'s angel policy, I hope to increase that.

On the personal side, I've been married for 21 years to a wonderful man, and I have two lovely daughters, ages seven and nine. I volunteer at the girls' school and also as the leader of their Girl Scout troop.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday card making in full swing

Here are a few of the holiday cards that I've made lately.

I absolutely love the Basic Grey Figgy Pudding paper. I've been trying to use bits of it here and there. This card layout was cased from a card that we made at Sharon and Milette's North Texas Shoebox Swap in October. I changed the colors and papers, but kept the cool fold.

Cardstock - White, Stampin' Up! Soft Sky, Basic Grey Figgy Pudding
Ink - Stampin' Up! Ruby Red
Stamps - Season of Joy
(Stampin' Up!)

Another one using Figgy Pudding. This card is way outside my normal color range, but I love the way it turned out.

Cardstock - White, Stampin' Up! Chocolate Chip and Ruby Red, Basic Grey Figgy Pudding
Ink - Stampin' Up! Basic Black, Versamark, Stampin' Up! markers - Chocolate Chip, Old Olive, Always Artichoke, Ruby Red
Stamps - Believe

Accessories - Detail Gold Embossing Powder (SU!), sponge, Stickles, dimensionals
Here's a new stamp set that I couldn't wait to try out. I love this big swirl! This is a set from Gel-a-tins called Spiral Symphony. The card is very simple, but I love the way it turned out.

Cardstock - Stampin' Up! Shimmery White
Ink - Stampin' Up! Blue Bayou and Purely Pomegranate
Stamps - Spiral Symphony (Gel-a-tins), Playful Christmas (Kitchen Sink Stamps)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Trimming the tree

I thought it would be fun to show you some of the Christmas tree ornaments that I've made.

This ornament was made from a kit by Basic Grey. Although I've made this type of ornament from scratch many times, the kit sure did make it snappy. The circles are die-cut and already have the triangle folds scored for you, so it's just a quick gluing exercise to complete the ornament. I highly recommend Mono Multi glue for the task. It only takes a tiny bit to do the job, and it dries quickly so that you don't have to spend lots of time holding pieces together.

Here's an even easier kit from Basic Grey. This is the new Figgy Pudding ornament kit. This one was totally not obvious to me from the pictures on the various web sites selling them, but these ornaments are made from a single piece of paper! It starts as a square, with the various patterns printed in a four-pointed star arrangement. It's pre-scored and folds up very simply. Just a bit of glue and it's done!

These two ornaments are made using the Marvy giga punches - circle and oval. I used the retired Holiday Thyme paper from Stampin' Up! I use ten punched shapes per ornament. I also strung some of the pearls and beads from the SU! Pretties kit on the cord. A simple double overhand knot in the end of the cord keeps the beads from sliding off. There are several tutorials available for these. I think that Emily Giovanni came up with these, as an adaptation of a pumpkin design by Stephanie. Amy gives some instructions here that are really easy to follow. I use Mono Multi for these ornaments, rather than the tape mentioned in Amy's tutorial.

This is a pinecone ornament. It's made from lots of 1" by 2" pieces of paper, a styrofoam ball, and about 150 straight pins. Some wide organdy ribbon tops it off. These are definitely a bit of work, but the wow factor is there. I highly recommend a thimble if you make these - the pins really kill your fingers after awhile! Check out this link on Amanda Sewell's blog for instructions.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mind reader in the house

Look up at my beautiful new banner! Isn't it the best? To those who know me, it's no secret that I'm a color freak. If something comes in hundreds of colors, I must have them all. And it's also no secret that my life and home are great examples of barely-contained chaos. On top of that, I'm trying to live a more peaceful life amidst all of this chaos and craftiness. So I presented Melissa Kulesa with the challenge of trying to fit all of that into a blog banner, having never met me in person. In fact, she never met me online until yesterday. What a fantastic job she did expressing who I am in color and in attitude! All of this in less than 24 hours. Wow! I highly recommend her if you're in need of a banner and watermarks for your site.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Peer pressure of the best kind

Okay, okay, I give in! Seems that all of the cool kids have blogs nowadays. So in an effort to become one myself, I'll join you all. Like many other stampers, I was completely knocked off my feet by this hobby. "Come over to my house and make some pretty coasters," said a friend. So I did. Very innocently, I might add. I made the pretty coasters, and loved them. So when asked the next month if I wanted to come over and make Christmas cards, I said yes, still innocent. That was the night - the night that the Stampin' Up! catalog went home with me. Uh oh. No more innocence.

I spent days with my nose in that catalog. List after list, scribbles everywhere, until I had a list that was ONLY $900 long. Eeek. Trouble. So I placed an order for about $150 worth of stuff. Had my own private party, I did. That happened to be during Sell-a-Bration, so I got an extra three free stamp sets. Whee! Now I was getting seriously hooked. So I asked my friend, who had now become my dealer, I mean demonstrator, to let me have a workshop real quick before Sell-a-Bration was over. It was a small party, but enough to get me another few free sets. Wow, it's really easy to get addicted to free stuff!

I very innocently put my new stamping supplies on the ONE shelf behind the closed doors of an old computer desk we have.

And then when I tried to order even more stuff, my dealer, I mean demonstrator, the lovely Milette, kindly counseled me to become a demonstrator myself. So I did.

Little did I know what that little stash of goodies would become...

This picture was taken during our kitchen remodeling this summer, so hopefully it's not a true depiction of my messy nature. But it's not that far off, either.

I'm in the midst of reorganizing my stamping supplies since the remodeling was completed, all of the kitchen stuff moved out of the craft room. We also sold the pool table that was acting as my craft table, and I've been left to see just how much stuff can fit on and under a pool table! I'm having to get very creative to fit it all back in the room. I'll share some more pictures of the craft room soon. It's starting to come together nicely. My dear hubby just returned from some Black Friday high-tech shopping with the parts to build me a new computer for the craft room. No more running up the stairs to print pictures from splitcoast and back down to the craft room to create. That will be a nice change.

Back soon to share some stamping pictures!