September 30, 2010

Frankie and His Mummy

     Get it?!  His mummy!  But seriously, aren't these just the cutest little things ever?!  Unfortunately, I can't take 100% creative credit for these little critters.  I was inspired by Angie's Easter Nugget & KitKat box video tutorial over at Chic' n Scratch (love her blog!!). 
     Angie used her own box but I chose to use the Matchbox Bigz XL die (pg 208, $42.95) that's been collecting dust in my stamping studio.  Not sure why I don't use these more often, they are so quick and easy to put together.  From start to finish, including cutting, I'd say that both boxes took me less than 20 minutes to make.  Now, if I liked all the kids (and their parents) in our condo complex I might consider making these as trick-or-treat favors for Halloween...  nah.  I'll make a bunch up for the teachers at my school instead.  Teachers love a little surprise in their mailbox every now and then!
     The mummy box was incredibly easy to put together.  I wrapped 3/8" twill tape around the Very Vanilla matchbox and secured it with sticky strip.  The eyes were made using the 1' and 3/4" circle punches.
     Frankie was also just as easy (although I did have a hard time drawing his mouth on exactly as I wanted it.... silly OCD).  Same size circle punches for the eyes and his hair was cut free hand with paper snips.
     I filled each box with 5 mini candy bars (were you expecting something other than chocolate from me?!).  Four Hershey nuggets would also fit nicely in the box. 

Paper: Old Olive, Very Vanilla, Basic Black, Crumb Cake
Ink: Black Stampin' Write marker
Tools & Accessories: Big Shot, Matchbox Bigz XL die, 3/4" & 1" circle punches, 3/8" twill tape

September 27, 2010

Two Tags Treat Box

     Many  moons ago I promised I'd show you another project using the Two Tags Bigz Die. (pg 206, $21.95).  After much procrastinating I finally found my way into my stamping studio and made these adorable little treat boxes!  I must give credit where credit is due: I did not design these boxes.  I watched Dawn Olchefske's video tutorial and used that as my starting point. 
     For those of you who have difficulty viewing videos online or just don't want to watch Dawn make a box, I'll give you a brief outline:

1. Using the Big Shot and Two Tags die, cut out 2 tags
2.  Fold on score line and adhere together with sticky strip so they form a U
3. Cut a 2 3/4" x 6 3/4" piece of coordinating card stock and score at 2" (short side) and 1/2" (long side)
4. Using scissors, cut up to the 1/2" score line and fold on all score lines (it should fold up into an odd shaped box)
5. Adhere to tags and embellish.  My handle is 1/2" wide and attached to the box with brads.

     I have a ton of retired DSP and I thought this would be the perfect project to try to use up some of it.  The first box uses Sage Shadow (retired...what a bummer, I loved that color!) and Wintergreen DSP (you may be able to find some in the Clearance Rack over at  The Old Olive box uses the long since retired Ski Slope DSP. 
     The brads were "dyed" to match using craft ink and clear embossing powder.  I've found that when I emboss brads white it's best not to use white embossing powder.  For some reason, it's too thick and doesn't melt as easily as the clear powder.
     The Old Olive treat box will be filled with chocolates (what else?!) and a stamp and given to the hostess at my next workshop.  The Sage Shadow box will also be filled with chocolate but given away as a door prize at that same workshop.
     I've had several customers ask me where I purchased the cellophane bags I use for candy and card supplies at my workshops.  Why, Stampin' Up, of course!!  On page 170 you'll find 3 different sizes of bags.  I've found the small 3x5" bags are great for little chocolates and incentive stamps (like those in the photo) and the large 6x8" bags are perfect for holding card supplies for each project at a workshop. 

Paper: Sage Shadow (retired), Handsome Hunter (retired), Old Olive, Ski Slope & Wintergreen DSP (retired)
Ink: White & Always Artichoke craft ink
Tools & Accessories: Big Shot, Two Tags Bigz die, circle brads (retired), 5/8" grosgrain ribbon

September 25, 2010

Wicked Simple Halloween Card

Hello!  I'm almost positive that today's card was inspired by a card I once saw on SCS.  Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the inspiration card and therefore cannot give credit to the original artist.  But then again, maybe I just had a stoke of creativity and it was your truly that designed the card!  Nah.
    Anyhoo, this is a wicked simple card that took me less than 10 minutes to make (and you have to say wicked with a Boston accent - that's how we say it in New England!).  Although Halloween is my most favorite holiday of all (yes, I like it even more than Christmas!), I'm not one to send out Halloween cards.  But when I saw the spider web embossing folder in the Holiday Mini I just had to order it.  And then I saw Heather Summers' Spooky Aviary Card and I just had to order the Dark & Dreary set (although she used Graveyard Gala on her card). 
     I stamped the main image a second time using Cajun Craze.  I then used the 1/2" circle punch to punch out the "31" and glued it to the original black image.

Stamps: Dark & Dreary
Ink: Black StazOn, Cajun Craze
Paper: Basic Black, Whisper White, Rich Razzleberry
Tools & Accessories: Big Shot, Spider Web embossing folder, 1/2" circle punch

September 23, 2010

Fall Is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

at least, I think it is!  Autumn is by far my most favorite time of the year and it officially begins today!  Living in New England we have the opportunity to fully experience the 4 seasons and I think fall is the prettiest.  While I am by no means a "leaf peeper" I do like to see the leaves change colors.  Can't you just see these mountains covered in a blanket of gold, orange and brown leaves?  And there's just something about the days getting shorter, the temperatures getting cooler and that fall-ish smell in the air that I enjoy.   
     One of our favorite things to do in the fall is to visit Carter Hill Orchard.  You can pick your own blueberries, apples and pumpkins or pick up some of their deeee-licious homemade pies and cookies in the bakery.  If Aaron and I are up for the challenge we'll ride our bikes UPHILL the 3+ miles from our house to the orchard to enjoy not only the apple picking but also the scenery.  On a clear day you can see several mountains in the Presidential chain, including Mt. Washington.
    Carter Hill is also one of the NH Audubon Society's Raptor Observatories.  During September and October, thousands of raptors are counted as they pass over Carter Hill.  Volunteers from the Audubon Society collect scientific data on raptor migration in New England and use Carter Hill as an environmental "classroom" for visitors.  It is free to anyone who visits the orchard and binoculars for viewing the birds are even provided to visitors up on the observation tower!
   Last September my dad and I rode our bikes to the orchard and were lucky enough to see a NH Audubon Society volunteer with a rehabilitated hawk.  I am a self-proclaimed animal lover so seeing a wild bird this close was a pretty cool experience for me. 
    This is my dad and his "signature pose" on the deck of the observatory tower.  The sign he's standing next to identifies each of the mountains you can see from the tower.

September 19, 2010

My Digital Studio: Introduction

     Mark Jessen, a Stampin' Up! trainer, demonstrates how to get started using Stampin Up's premiere digital crafting software studio, My Digital Studio. Learn some basic tips for installing My Digital Studio and creating a photo album using Stampin' Up's designer templates.
     My Digital Studio (pg 181, $79.95) is an easy-to-use software program that lets you use Stampin' Up's exclusive artwork and colors to create an assortment of printed and mulitmedia projects.  Print your project at home or use our professional print service for high-quality color coordination.  Download fresh new artwork for your software with digital downloads that SU periodically updates. 

September 14, 2010

Little Treats

     Hello!  It was inevitable but my first day of school was August 30th.  Bummer.  It was such a wonderful summer that I was hoping it could continue for a bit longer.  But alas, I must once again become a productive member of the working class and make money so I can afford to pay for my stamping addiction. 
     This year, two of my favorite co-workers are returning to the school in different positions: one went from kindergarten to a 6th grade teacher (what a change!) and the second co-worker went from a 4th grade teacher to administration.  Remembering how nervous I was on my first day in a new position, I decided to make a little "good luck" gift for each of them.  What a better way to say good luck than with chocolate!  I'm beginning to think chocolate has some type of magical healing powers because it seems to make everything better.  I'm nervous about my first day of work: have some chocolate.  I can't find the CD with ALL of our wedding photos: have some chocolate (true story).  I'm bored: have some chocolate.  See what I mean?
     The mini milk cartons are super easy to make and I think they may be my new favorite die.  I can just see these as little favors at a Halloween or Christmas party filled with little sweet treats!  When assembling the carton it's important to keep in mind what you'll be filling them with.  My cartons needed to be sturdy to hold the M&M's (the cartons hold one snack size bag of M&M's perfectly - minus one or two candy pieces for sampling purposes!) so I used Terrifically Tacky Tape to adhere the sides.  If I was going to fill them with something a little lighter I could have used regular double stick tape.
    On the carton with the button I also added a strip of T.T. tape to the top of the carton to seal it.  The carton with the Old Olive library clip is held closed with the clip itself (no extra adhesive needed).  I used several glue dots to adhere the button to the carton.  
    I absolutely love the "TO OPEN" sentiments in the Got Treats stamp set, I think they're adorable and give the mini carton more of an authentic feel.

Stamps: Got Treats
Paper: Certainly Celery, Old Olive
Ink: Old Olive
Tools & Accessories: Big Shot, Mini Milk Carton Bigz L die, mini library clip (Old Olive, retired), designer button, 5/8" grosgrain ribbon, Stampin' dimensionals

September 11, 2010

Headline: Runner Takes 2nd Place!

     I ran solo today in the Concord-Merrimack SPCA 5th Annual Over the River/Through the Woods Run For the Animals 5K Road Race (whew, that's a mouthful!).  After running the St. Charles Children's Home 5K last weekend with almost 1000 runners I was a little surprised, or rather a little saddened to see only 50 runners today.  I was hoping for a big turn-out since all proceeds benefit the local shelter. 
     My overall time was 26:17, a full minute 5 seconds slower than the Nun Run last week.  But I'm not complaining, I'm actually very happy with my time!  It was an unusual course in that we actually ran over a river and through the woods, a very "cross country" style run. And surprisingly, there were several spots where it was impossible to pass the runner in front of you, like the narrow walkway on the bridge and on the wooded trail.  Unfortunately, this allowed you to be only as fast as the slowest runner in front of you.  Another spot noticed I was slowing down was in the woods.  You had to really watch where your feet were landing when running on the trail.  It was complete with exposed tree roots, branches and slippery muddy patches - the perfect recipe for rolling your ankle. 
     Out of 50 runners I came in 21st place and placed 2nd in my age group, earning me another medal!  My name was even called during the awards ceremony!  Yes, I know it's not an Olympic medal.  But you'll have to keep in mind that for someone who was never an athlete as a child and never earned a medal or trophy for athleticism, this is quite an accomplishment. 
      I'm so excited about my little medal that I haven't even taken it off yet - well, except when I hopped in the shower after the race.  I like the way it looks on me so much that I'm thinking I may just make this a permanent fashion accessory... Whadda ya think?!

Sketch Challenge 294, Take Two!

     Hello!  I had so much fun participating in Sketch Challenge 294 over at Split Coast Stampers that I thought I'd try it again!  For this card I dug out some retired DSP that I've been hanging on to for years.  While Stampin' Up! does offer DSP in So Saffron they no longer offer it in the patterns that I have.  I think I've been holding on to the paper for so long because I know once I use them up they're gone for good :(
     The card base is 5 1/4"x5 1/4" and fits in the medium square envelope.  It's hard to tell from the photo but the first layer of More Mustard was embossed with the swirl from the Backgrounds #1 Texturz Plates set.  These plates give a very faint embossed look - for a more prominent look spritz the card stock with water before running through the Big Shot.
     I should also mention that this is a very heavy card.  The extra layers and ribbon give it some bulk and I'm sure that it would require extra postage to mail.

Stamps: Great Friend, Thank You Kindly, Vintage Vogue
Ink: Old Olive, StazOn Black, More Mustard
Paper: Very Vanilla, So Saffron (CS and DSP), More Mustard
Tools & Accessories: Brads, crystals (non SU), dimensionals, black 5/8" grosgrain ribbon. Big Shot, Backgrounds #1 Texturz Plates

September 8, 2010

Jolly Holiday Sketch Challenge

     Hello!  Today's card was inspired by Sketch Challenge 294 over at Split Coast Stampers.  If you've ever lost your stamping mojo I highly recommend trying a sketch challenge.  I've done a few and I absolutely love them!  The challenges change every Wednesday but you're free to look back at past sketches and complete those - there's no time limit or deadline.
   I was dying to use the new Jolly Holiday DSP (pg. 174, $9.95) and I thought this would be the perfect time to open the package.  The colors are gorgeous and the designs are very much my style and easy to work with (polka dots and stripes).  The card base is 5 1/4" x 5 1/4" and will fit in the medium square envelopes.  Because the base is so large it was impossible to use the Perfect Polka Dots embossing folder on the first Old Olive layer, which was my original plan.  Instead, I used the Backgrounds #1 Texturz Plates, leaving the impression not quite as prominant as I had hoped for. 
    If you're thinking to yourself, "Hmmm, did she really use black in her Christmas card?" you're right, I did.  Originally, I was going to use Chocolate Chip as a background color rather than the Basic Black but when I put it all together it just didn't look right.
     I've recently started to decorate the inside of my cards.  Although this takes far less time than the card front I think it adds a classy touch to the finished product. 

Stamps: Delightful Decorations, Occasional Quotes (hostess)
Paper: Very Vanilla, Old Olive, Cherry Cobbler, Basic Black, Jolly Holiday DSP
Ink: Old Olive, Cherry Cobbler, StazOn Black
Tools & Accessories: Backgrounds #1, Big Shot, ornament punch, 5/8" grosgrain ribbon, dimensionals

September 7, 2010

Help An Injured Marine...

I try to keep my blog upbeat and somewhat entertaining but I wanted to share this info that was forwarded to me by a family member.   If you have a chance, please send a card (homemade or store bought) to this young man.  It is because of the brave that we live in the land of the free

Dear Marines & Marine Friends:
We have a young Marine, Cpl Shane Hathaway, who underwent surgery yesterday, 30 August 2010. He was shot 4 times. His family has said he would love to receive cards and letters to cheer him up. So lets do it.
Send to:

Cpl Shane Hathaway, USMC
Surgical Unit 5th Floor
National Naval Medical Center
8901 Rockville Pike
Bethesda MD 20889-5600

September 6, 2010

Running With the Nuns

I'm not one to brag but I have to toot my own horn for a few minutes - I set a new personal best for running a 5K today!  Toot toooot!  This morning my family participated for our third time in the annual St. Charles Children's Home 5K road race at the Pease Tradeport.  My mother and husband walked while my father and I ran. 
     If you're not from NH chances are you probably haven't heard of the "Running Nuns".  St. Charles Children's Home in Rochester, NH is staffed by the Daughters of Mary Mother of Healing Love and accepts children who have been removed from their family by court order and are under the protection of the Division of Welfare. The grief and anger flowing from a troubled past tends to erupt in disruptive and sometimes violent behavior in these children.
     In the spring of 1996, the sisters had a “family meeting” with the children to talk with them about healthy ways to release anger and negative emotions. The children came up with many ideas to vent anger in healthy ways. Soon Rose—one of the most aggressive girls—was going for daily hikes on a nearby trail with Sister Maximilian. By the end of the summer these daily hikes turned into daily runs. Meanwhile, the boys became jealous when they heard that Rose could run more than a mile without becoming tired. Since then, the sisters and children run four miles a day and participate in local 5k road races during the year.  And yes, the sisters run in full habit - no matter what the temperature!    
     Back in August I ran the Cigna/Eliot 5K in Manchester and came in at 26:05 - a personal best at that time.  Knowing the St. Charles course (I've run this race before) and having such wonderful weather (temps in the 70's), I knew I could do better than 26 minutes - and I did!  My official time was 25:12 and I finished 7th in my age group (and first in my family)!  I even earned a personal record medal!  Woohoo!  But keep in mind that this is not my normal running pace and for the entire 25 minutes I was going I thought for sure the people around me were going to stop and ask if I was ok... I don't think I've ever breathed (or more accurately, wheezed) so hard in my life!  Had there been an EMT with an oxygen mask nearby I'm sure I would have been all over it...
     While there was no big presentation ceremony and medals were given out on the honor system, it was still a fabulous feeling know that last Labor Day I wasn't in any shape to run - I walked the entire course.  In just 365 days I've managed to trim 20+ minutes off my worst previous race time and a whopping 30lbs off my body. 
     Although fall is just around the corner my running season isn't over just yet.  On the 11th I'll be participating in the Concord-Merrimack SPCA Run for the Animals 5K (an organization very near and dear to my heart).  While I would like to break 25:12 for this race, I'll be happy to just to keep it under 25:30.  And if I'm feeling very ambitious I may run in the Wild Rover Halfway to St. Patrick's Day 5K in Manchester the following day on September 12th.  Check back next weekend to see how I did! 

September 5, 2010

'Tis a Gift To Be Simple

     Hello!  For today's card I wanted something simple.  Really simple.  I love the new hostess set Apple Blossoms and I've seen some really beautiful cards over at Split Coast Stampers using this set so I decided to break it out and give it a try.
     I think the hardest part of this card was choosing the the color scheme.  But with the help of the new Color Coach (pg 165, $14.95) I decided to go with Rose Red, So Saffron and Old Olive.  This card took less than 10 minutes to make.

Stamps: Apple Blossoms (hostess)
Paper: Basic Gray, Whisper White
Ink: Rose Red, Old Olive, So Saffron
Tools & Accessories:  5/8" Old Olive grosgrain ribbon, Brights Designer Buttons, hemp twine, dimensionals

September 4, 2010

New Items in the Clearance Rack!

     If you've never visited the Clearance Rack section on Stampin' Up's website now would be a great time to do so!  The purpose of the Clearance Rack is to clear out the inventory of surplus items that have been retired. Many of these retired items will be offered at a substantially reduced price.  Just remember, Clearance Rack items are only available while supplies last and all sales of Clearance Rack items are final. No returns or exchanges will be accepted, except in the case of defective product.  To check out what's available this week, simply head over to Stampin Up, click on a link in the "Shop Now" section and choose Clearance Rack (second from the top and the left).  Happy shopping!

September 2, 2010

Catalog Inspired Card

     Hello!  Today's card was inspired by a card on page 201 of the 2010-11 Idea Book & Catalog.  I don't own the Itty Bitty Shapes Punch Pack (pg 201) so I decided to use the Big Shot and my Buttons #5 Sizzlits Die (pg 210).   My original plan for this card was to make each button several layers thick so they popped off the card a bit.  To do this I would run card stock through the BS 3 times for each button then glue them together.  After several minutes of cutting buttons with the Big Shot, I realized that would take an awfully long time.  If I planned on having 18 buttons on my card that would mean that I would have to run card stock through my Big Shot 57 times.  Ummmm, no.  So each button was left as one layer.  It did take me a while to get the buttons lined up just so (that would be my OCD kicking in!) on the card front and although this is a simple card it is a time intensive one to make.  Maybe that's why I haven't given it away yet!
To make this card more of my own I changed the colors and used a different sentiment from the same stamp set.  I also added a Pretty In Pink button to the top row.

Stamps:  Thank You Kindly
Paper: Whisper White, Sage Shadow (retired), Chocolate Chip, Brocade Blue (retired)
Ink: Chocolate Chip
Tools & Accessories: Big Shot, Buttons #5 Sizzlits die, Subtles Designer Series buttons, hemp twine

September 1, 2010

Look Mom! I'm Eating Pot Roast!

     That's right, I am actually eating and enjoying pot roast!  As my mother will tell you, at no point in my life have I ever been a fan of pot roast.  Not sure why, I just never liked it.  My husband, Aaron, and I made a trip to my parents house a few weekends ago and were greeted by the wonderful smell of a roast in the crock pot (I will admit that pot roast does smell deee-licious when cooking).  Knowing that I'm not a fan of the dish and convinced that he could show me the errors of my taste buds, Aaron decided to try his hand at cooking a roast. 
     So on his next day off, Aaron slaved all day over a hot stove in sweltering heat (our second heat wave of the summer) and made dinner.  Hesitant to try it at first, I sampled a spoonful from the pot on the stove and was pleasantly surprised!  The potatoes and carrots were melt in your mouth tender and the roast was cut into perfect Joanna-size pieces (that's another story).  It was so good that we had leftovers the next day!
     I should mention that Aaron is definitely the cook of the family.  I'm really good at cooking chicken nuggets & fries, toast and an occasional pasta dish.  Baking is more my thing.  We pretty much have an unspoken agreement: he cooks dinner and I take care of dessert. 

P.S.  Two days after the roast Aaron made lasagna - from scratch!