Our Creative Corner - Christmas in July

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hello!  I'm here with another fun challenge from Our Creative Corner.  This week we are celebrating Christmas in July.  It's kind of an odd feeling making a Christmas card in the summer.  My photo looks a little silly since it's obviously summer in the background.  

I got to play with some new stamps on this card.  A friend lent me some of her stamp sets and I had a ball just playing around.  I love the modern feel of those circles.  
I didn't have green ribbon to match this card, so I took a piece of white grosgrain ribbon and colored it with a plain old crayola marker. I was surprised  how well it soaked up the color.

Head on over to Our Creative Corner and check out the rest of the design team's festive samples.  We would love you to play along this week!

{Happy Holidays}
Stamps: Shapes by Design, Signature Christmas (Papertrey Ink)
Card Stock: Kraft, Vintage Cream (Papertrey Ink)
Ink: Real Red, Old Olive (SU)
Accessories: Oval Nestabilities Die (Spellbinders), Red Rhinestones (Kaiser Craft), Grosgrain & Sheer Ribbon (Offray), Stampin' Sponge (SU), Foam Dimensionals
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Frugal Friday - Opportunity

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hello!  It's time for another Frugal Friday post.  This is most likely the final post in the series unless you all have any other topics you would like me to cover.  To review, we've already covered PAPER, INK, STAMPS, TOOLS, EMBELLISHMENTS, and ADHESIVE.  Of course, click here to learn more about Frugal Friday.

I wasn't sure on what category today's post would fall under, so I'm choosing to use Opportunity. I'll be talking about opportunities within design teams, selling your cards as well as advertising on your blog.  

Design Teams
If you are not familiar with the idea of design teams (DT for short), they are basically a team that a company puts together to promote their product. 

I can think of three types of teams.  Some online supply stores have design teams.  The DT creates cards and projects that showcase that store's product.  Usually a wide variety of products to use and you would simply link to the product in your blog post.  There might be more or less responsibilities and requirements that go with this.

Stamp companies often have design teams to showcase their brand of stamps.  Typically designers receive stamps ahead of time to create projects/cards for new releases to share on their blogs and get customers excited about the new stamps being released.    

The last type of design team that I am aware of are those that are created for challenge blogs.  There are a ton of challenges out there every single day.  Some are sketch challenges, some color challenges, some change from week to week.  Some of these challenge blogs have design teams that create samples for that weeks challenge.

Now, why would you want to be on a design team?  Well, there are many reasons.  The first reason that comes to mind is a discount or free supplies.  When your budget is tight, being on a design team can really be beneficial. You are sort of trading your skills and ability for a discount or free supplies.  It's a win/win situation in my book.  Being on a design team can also increase traffic to your blog.  Whether you just want to increase the amount of people that see your cards or if you are earning an income from your blog (I'll talk more about that later in this post), joining a design team is a great option.  

You can't just say you want to be on a design team.  Usually you have to apply.  Splitcoast Stampers is a great place to see what people/companies are looking for new members.  

I have been on all of these types of design teams and I just love the feeling of community and working together towards a common goal.  And I can't forget to mention that they are FUN!

Selling Your Cards/Projects
Here's where I need to take a dose of my own advice.  Selling your cards/projects is a great way to earn income.  I don't know if you are like me, but I have about 4 shoe boxes crammed full of cards.  Just think of all the new supplies and stamps I could buy if I sold some of those cards.  There are some great sites where you can sell your cards.  You may already be familiar with Etsy, where you can sell all kinds of handmade items, but a site that is new to me is eWillow.   This is an area where I haven't really ventured yet due to just not having the time.  When the kids get back in school, I'm definitely going to be selling my cards.  

Getting Published
Getting your cards published in a magazine is not only cool, but it's a way to get free stuff.  I do realize that it does take a lot of hard work and a lot of rejection to get one card published.  I usually submit about 40 cards per month and if I'm lucky, one will get published.  Nothing compares to the feeling of getting published.  I get excited every time.  Different magazines offer different perks to those whose cards are chosen.  You usually will get a free copy or two of the magazine along with some free supplies.  I love getting happy mail.  You just never know what they will be sending you.  

Advertising on Your Blog
I'm sure you have all noticed that I have advertising on my blog.  As soon as I noticed that people were actually visiting my blog, I decided to see if there was a way to earn an income from all my hard work.  The advertising company I chose to work with is Blogher.  It is an all female company whose advertisers are looking for a female audience. I thought it would be a good fit for my blog, and it was.  When I first started out, I was earning about $3 a month, if that.  As time went on and my blog readers increased, I can pretty much buy a new stamp set or two each month.  Since we are a single income family, we have a strict budget.  The money earned from my blog goes into buying new supplies to keep my cards new and fresh.   

I know there are many people that frown on this, but I'm okay with it (obviously).  I feel that blogging is hard work and supplies are not cheap.  If someone wants to pay me to do it, why would I turn it down?   

I would love to hear your opinions on this.  If you have any ideas for another Frugal Friday post, just leave me a comment.  I love hearing from you.  

I really enjoyed doing this series, but it is a lot of work.  I do love sharing my experiences with you!

PS.  My Mom will most likely be coming home from the hospital today.  She's been there a week.  She's been diagnosed with chronic pneumonia and anemia.  Today is my birthday, so her coming home is a wonderful present.  

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Paper Maniac Thursday - Friendship

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hello!  I'm so glad I finally got back in my studio after such a long break.  I didn't really have the desire to create today, but I knew it would be good for my soul, and it was.

This week on the Paper Maniac Blog the theme is friendship.  The sentiment on my card is from a set called "Thankful Flourishes" from Our Craft Lounge.  It says "Your kindness has touched my heart" which is perfect to send to one of your BFF's.

All of the paper on this card comes from a Little Yellow Bicycle tablet called "Sweet Love".  The patterned paper in the background looks like three strips of paper, but it's really one sheet.  The pink oval is the flip side of a sheet of patterned paper.  The heart was cut from a sheet of hearts.  

I used embroidery floss to stitch on my card.  I'm sure it would have looked fine without it, but I love doing it. There is something very calming about the repetition.

About my Mom, she's still in the hospital.  They are still trying to figure out what is wrong with her.  We are still waiting for test results.  I'll keep you all updated.  Thanks for the well wishes!

Thanks so much for stopping by today!

{Your kindness has touched my heart}
Stamps: Thankful Flourishes (Our Craft Lounge)
Card Stock: SS White (Papertrey Ink)
Patterned Paper: Sweet Love Tablet (Little Yellow Bicycle)
Ink: Fresh Snow (Papertrey Ink)
Accessories: Pink Rhinestone (Kaiser Craft), Floss (DMC), Foam Dimensionals, Oval Nestabilities (Spellbinders)
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Vacation Photos

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hey guys!  We went to Gatlinburg, TN (The Great Smoky Mountains) for a long weekend with the kids and some friends.  We had a great time, although my Mom was admitted to the hospital back at home the second day of our trip.  Things are finally starting to calm down again, and the prognosis is looking good.  Although I've have time to get crafty, the desire is just not there yet.  I know you guys understand.  So, I thought I would share some pictures from our trip.  We were there three days but I only took pictures one of those days for some reason.

We went with two other couples and their kids.  We stayed in a gorgeous cabin on top of a mountain.  Click here to see the cabin.  I would highly recommend it.   We even saw two bears this time!!!

We went hiking at Laurel Falls.  It was a paved trail so it was pretty kid friendly.

A little later that day we went to a sporting good store in town and the kids tried rock climbing.  It was fun to watch them try something new.

Hope you enjoyed the photos.  Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with some good news about my Mom's condition as well as a card.  Take care!

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OCC - Watermelon Color Challenge

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hey guys!  I'm here today to share my sample for this week's challenge at Our Creative Corner.  This week is a fun color challenge.  Think of watermelons and make a card using green, red, black and white.  I actually had some watermelon patterned paper in my stash and was so happy to be able to use it for this challenge.

See the black on my card?  That's actually stitching that I did with floss.  It started out as faux stitching with paper piercing and a white gel pen, put I didn't care for it so I covered it with real stitching using a needle and black floss.
Check out the rest of the Design Team samples at Our Creative Corner.  I love seeing the huge variety of card that all use the same four colors.  Then, make a card and upload it for everyone to see!!!

Have a great day!!!

{Thank you for being so thoughtful}
Stamps: Signature Greetings (Papertrey Ink)
Card Stock: SS White, Pure Poppy (Papertrey Ink)
Patterned Paper: Domestic Goddess (Graphic 45)
Ink: Garden Green (SU)
Accessories: Red Rhinestones (Kaiser Craft), Black Floss (DMC), Edge Distresser (Heidi Swapp)
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Frugal Friday - Adhesive

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hello!  It's Frugal Friday!!!  If you are new to Frugal Friday, click here for the first post introducing the series.  So far we've covered PAPER, INK, STAMPS, EMBELLISHMENTS and TOOLS.  Today we are talking about ADHESIVE.  This post will be a lot shorter than most Frugal Friday posts since I pretty much only use two kinds of adhesive.

Tape Runner
When I started making cards I thought that you had to buy the adhesive (Tombow) from Stampin' Up.  Then I figured out you could get it from places like Michaels.  In a pinch one day I tried some cheap snail adhesive from Wal-mart.  Guess what?  It was just as good and so much cheaper.  When I starting buying it regularly, the brand was called "Ad-tech".  I'm not sure what happened but the product looks the same but now packaged using the "Elmer's Glue" brand.  It was quite confusing, but it's the same product.  At my local Wal-mart the initial tape runner is $3.50 and the you can buy a pack of two refills for $2.50.  I always get the permanent kind, but there is also re-positional kind as well.  Here's what the package looks like, although my dispenser is blue.
Dimensional Adhesive 
When I started making cards I fell in love with Stampin' Up's foam dimensionals.  They work great but I always ran out at the worst times.  I didn't want to pay for shipping on something so inexpensive so I started experimenting with other options.  I bought a whole roll of "Scotch Mounting Tape".  It's about 1/8" thick and the roll is about 1/2" wide.  It is double sided like SU's dimensionals.  I can get a roll of 75 feet for $5.  You can cut the foam tape to any size you like, but that is also a drawback.  I don't mind cutting each piece since I am saving so much money.  I think I buy a roll about every 8 months or so.  

I also use Glue Dots and Tombow's Liquid Mono Aqua Glue.  These are both pretty cheap and  I last an extremely long time since I don't use them very often.

That's it folks!  Pretty short and sweet today.  I did receive a request to see my stamping space and that'll be coming up towards the end of August (I hope).  It's nothing special really, just lots of space to create.  

Thanks to much for joining me today.  Enjoy your weekend!!!

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Paper Maniac Thursday - Emboss Resist

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hello and welcome to another Paper Maniac Thursday!!!  This week the design team and I are trying out the technique Emboss Resist.  If you are not familiar with this technique there is a tutorial on SCS that is great.  But, I will explain how I made my card.

I started out with a light green piece of card stock, the same color as the sentiment panel.  I picked a leaf/flourish stamp from Thankful Flourishes by Our Craft Lounge and stamped it in a random pattern with Versamark ink.  I sprinkled clear embossing powder over the stamped images and then set them with my heat gun.  Then, I took a sponge and inked over the entire piece of card stock.  The embossing resists the ink.  It's magic, really!
You can see a bit of shimmer in the photo above.  That's the clear embossing.

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  Have a wonderful day!!!

{Your Kindness...}
Stamps: Thankful Flourishes (Our Craft Lounge)
Card Stock: Dark Chocolate, Spring Moss (Papertrey Ink)
Ink: Close to Cocoa (SU), VersaMark
Accessories: Stampin' Sponge (SU), Satin Ribbon (Offray), Pearls (Michaels)
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Hope your day is fabulous...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hi there!  My card today fulfills two challenges.  The colors come from the current challenge at Embellish Magazine.  I love how these colors go together.  The layout comes from today's sketch challenge at SCS. I took a different approach to the sketch.  Those hearts are supposed to be squares, but I was kind of in a hearts kind of mood.  The brown rectangle is embossed with the Birds and Swirls embossing folder and so is the orange heart.  I love how this makes the orange heart pop off the card a bit.  I sponged the edges of the kraft base with turquoise ink.  It's subtle, but it adds a nice finishing touch to the card.
Well, today is my last "live" post for the week.  I have posts scheduled for Paper Maniac Thursday, Frugal Friday, and for my Our Creative Corner post on Saturday.  We'll be in Gatlinburg, TN for a nice long weekend away with our kids and some old friends and what's sure to be some new friends too.  Take care!

Have a great day!!!

{Hope your day is fabulous}
Stamps: Signature Greetings (Papertrey Ink)
Card Stock: Kraft, Orange Zest (Papertrey Ink), Close to Cocoa (SU), Simply Blue-tiful (Clear & Simple Stamps)
Ink: Tempting Turquoise, Close to Cocoa (SU)
Accessories: Birds and Swirls Embossing Folder (Cuttlebug), Heart Punch (Paper Shapers), Brown Floss (DMC), Foam Dimensionals, Rhinestones (Kaiser Craft), Stampin' Sponge (SU)
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Thank You...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hello there!  Today I have a card that I created for the Clean & Simple Challenge at SCS.  It's a sketch challenge.  The patterned paper I used was originally blue and white.  I sponged the paper with pink ink so the now the patterned paper looks light pink and blue.
I created the flower using some circle punches and white tissue paper.  I crinkled the tissue paper and sponged the edges pink.  I didn't like the end result, so I cut some "petals" by snipping the tissue paper every 1/4" or so.  I think now it looks a little more realistic.

I've been really busy this week.  We are headed to "The Great Smokey Mountains" for a long weekend with the kiddos and friends.  So much to do!  I almost have all my blog posts scheduled for the rest of the week, so you really won't even miss me!  Take care and have a great day!!!

{Thank You}
Stamps: Thank You (Clear & Simple Stamps)
Card Stock: Chocolate Chip (SU), Raspberry Fizz (Papertrey Ink)
Patterned Paper: Tangerine Dream Mini Papers (Jenni Bowlin)
Ink: Chocolate Chip, Pixie Pink, Pink Passion (SU)
Accessories: Jumbo Brad (Making Memories), Circle Punches (SU), Green Ribbon (Offray), Stampin' Sponge (SU)
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With Sympathy...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hello!  I hope you all had a nice weekend.  Ours was full of parties, three of them!  I'm happy to get back in my daily routine today, though.  For today's card I used this week's CPS Sketch.  I really love their simple layouts.  The patterned paper I used is Origins by Basic Grey.  Those flowers are one of the busier patterns in the pack that I was having a hard time using.  I think dividing it into two pieces and adding the neutral brown on top really tones it down.  When I initially wrapped the ribbon around the card it disappeared into the floral paper so I added a layer of brown under the ribbon.
The butterflies were punched from some scraps from the Origins pack and then I added a pewter pearl to the centers.

I hope you all are having a great start to your week!

{With Sympathy}
Stamps: Communique Sentiments (Papertrey Ink)
Card Stock: Kraft (Papertrey Ink)
Patterned Paper: Origins (Basic Grey)
Ink: Vintage Cream (Papertrey Ink), Close to Cocoa (SU)
Accessories: Butterfly Trio Punch (Martha Stewart), Ribbon (Offray), Pewter Pearls (Kaiser Craft), Foam Dimensionals, Stampin' Sponge (SU)
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Frugal Friday - Tools

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hello!  It's Frugal Friday!!!  If you are new to Frugal Friday, click here for the first post introducing the series.  So far we've covered PAPER, INK, STAMPS, and EMBELLISHMENTS.  Today we are talking about TOOLS.  

Before we get started I wanted to share a comment I received regarding last week's embellishment post.  Frann shared:
"Dana, I love your Frugal Fridays. I have one suggestion regarding embellishments. I never buy paper flowers. I have many flower punches, which of course never get used up. I make my flowers from vellum, cardstock, printed papers and even from aluminum soda cans. It's easy to chalk, ink, layer and shape them--endless variety!"
Thanks so much Frann!  Great point.  I thought of this when I was writing the embellishment post but was thinking it might fit better with the TOOLS post.  So, we'll definitely be talking about that today.  By the way, I can't tell you how much I love getting comments!

Okay, let's talk about tools.  We all use tools to create our cards.  Whether its a pair of scissors or a fancy die cutting machine, tools can be dirt cheap to super expensive.  Today I'll share my "must-have" tools with you as well as a few items that I think are "good-to-have".  I've also bought a few items that I never use and I'll let you know about those too.  

My "Must-Have" Tools:

Paper Trimmer- I mentioned in an earlier post that I have a Tonic Paper Trimmer.  As paper trimmers go, this one is on the more expensive side BUT, I searched to find a good deal.  I think I ended up paying around $26 buying it online from JoAnn's using a 40% off coupon and received free shipping.  That was a good deal since the Fiskar's (or similar kind) one costs around $20 and you need to buy new blades every few months.  Since I make cards almost everyday this was a good investment.  The only drawback is that I still use my old Fiskar's paper trimmer to score my cards.  On a side note, to get the most out of my card stock, pretty much all of my cards are standard A2 (which is a piece of 5.5" x 8.5" card stock folded in half) or 4.25" square.  Using these two sizes you can get 2 cards out of one sheet of card stock.  Using the 4.25" size you will have a  strip of paper leftover to use to make embellishments.  
X-Acto Knife- This is one of those tools that I purchased and thought "How did I ever make cards without this?"  I mostly use the X-acto knife for applying rhinestones and pearls to cards.  I use the point to pick the jewel off the backing sheet and to then place it exactly where I want it.  I'm also a big fan of the pearls and rhinestones that come glued in a single line.  When I want to use those individually, I simply slice the glue with the knife and apply like normal.  As far as tools go, this one is dirt cheap.  I bought it for $2.50 at Wal-mart about a year ago and bought a pack of 5 refill blades about 3 months ago (about $2).  I've only had to replace the blade once, I don't even remember why, but I do know that card making was not involved! 

SU Mat Pack & Paper Piercer- If you are not familiar with the Mat Pack, it is pack of three 4" x 4" squares.  One is a paper piercing pad that protects your table when you are paper piercing, one is a template for creating perfectly spaced holes when you are paper piercing or positioning brads or eyelets, the last one is a hard mat to protect your table when you are hammering eyelets.  I very rarely use eyelets, so I don't have much use for the last one.  I will be honest with you.  The only reason I initially purchased the mat pack was because I wanted to be able to create faux stitching on my cards.   Now I use it all the time.  I use it a lot to space brads and rhinestones along with faux stitching.  I'm sure there are other piercing template out there, but I'm not aware of any by name.  But I do love the SU one. 

Fine/Micro Tip Scissors- This is another one of those "why in the world didn't I buy these sooner" kind of items.  I used general kitchen scissors for a while and then bought a pair of smaller, but not fine tip scissors.  Finally, this past Christmas I asked for a pair that had a fine tip.  Boy has that made all the difference cutting out images.  I'm no longer intimidated by cutting intricate shapes.  Don't ask me why I asked for these as a Christmas gift when they turned out to be only $7 (with a Michaels 40% off coupon).  
Stamp-A-Ma-Jig- This is a "must-have" item only if you use wood mounted or cling stamps.  A stamp-a-ma-jig is a tool that allows you to position a stamp exactly where you want it.  When I started out, I couldn't tell you how many cards I ruined because I put the sentiment stamp on last and crooked!  If you don't know how a stamp-a-ma-jig works, here is a great video from Kristina Werner.  
T-Square Ruler- When I finally broke down and bought a ruler (about $2) I found myself reaching for it all the time.  I use this in so many ways, trust me, you will too.

My "Good-to-Have" Tools:

Punches- You can absolutely make beautiful cards without using any punches, but they are a wonderful item to have.  I have made a few judgement errors when purchasing punches in the past.  I have a few punches that I have never used.  The ones I find that I use the most are of a heart, butterfly, snowflake, scallop edge, and circle.  I would not recommend buying any punches that are square since you can easily cut those on your paper trimmer.  I only have one flower punch, but those are great to have to make your own flower embellishments.  

Circle Cutting System- I have a Coluzzle, which I don't think is available any longer.  They have much nicer ones out now that cut from very small to very large circles in tiny increments.  This would replace any circle punch you have.  My Coluzzle works just fine (and it also cuts ovals) although the increments are not what I call tiny.  If I find a good deal on one of the newer circle cutting systems, I'm going to get one.
Die Cutting Machine & Dies-  I have a Cuttlebug and I love it.  I was able to get mine for around $40 and I contemplated buying it for quite some time.  I didn't use it a lot in the beginning, but when I discovered Spellbinder Nestabilities that all changed.  I love nestabilities dies, but they are quite expensive.  I only have three shapes.  However, they are a good investment since you can use them over and over for all eternity.  Stick with simple shapes that you know you will use often.  I really like the Cuttlebug, but any die cutting machine will do.  I'm also in love with embossing folders and thankfully those are relatively inexpensive.  I have been drooling over the Papertrey Ink flower dies.  Those would be great for making your own flower embellishments as well.  Those are definitely on my wish-list. 

On a side note, I have contemplated getting a Cricut or something similar.  I was finally able to use one in person not too long ago and feel that I wouldn't get enough use out of it to justify the cost, much less the cost of all those cartridges.  However, I am in love with what I've read and seen about the Silhouette.  If I ever get a personal cutting machine, that will be the one I get.  It is very expensive (like $300) so I'm not holding my breath.    


Well, I think I've rambled enough for one day!  I would love to hear what tools you think are a "must-have".  Also, we only have one or two more weeks of Frugal Friday posts and I would love some input on what other topics you would like to discuss.  As always, I love hearing from you!

Have a great weekend everyone!!!

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