Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not even close

Well, today is the last day of November and the end of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2011. So did I get to the goal of finishing a 50,000-word novel in a month? Not even close. My total word count was 11,018. Ha.

I started out on the right foot, but then life got in the way, and there were things that had to take priority over my novel. And once I realized that there was no way I was going to write 50,000 words, I pretty much lost the motivation to keep going. A lame excuse, I know, but it is what it is.

The good news is that I did write a few thousand words more than the last time I tried NaNoWriMo. At that rate, maybe I'll succeed in another ten or fifteen tries!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quick and easy Christmas cards

I have one more Christmas card design to share with you today:

Supplies (all Stampin' Up!® unless otherwise noted):
Stamps: Word Play
Paper: WinterSong - My Wooly Scarf and Flurry Kisses patterned papers (s.e.i.); Bazzill White, Maraschino and Horizon textured card stock (Bazzill); Shimmer White card stock
Ink: Cherry Cobbler, Baja Breeze
Accessories: Punches: Large oval, Decorative Label, Scallop Circle, 1-3/8" circle, 1/2" circle; Cherry Cobbler Baker's Twine; Accents & Elements - Little Felt Flurries; Dimensionals

These cards started with a page-layout kit I received at a stamping/scrapbooking store. I don't do a ton of scrapbooking, so when I get kits like this one I'm more likely to use them to make cards. This kit included five sheets of coordinating paper: two different double-sided patterned papers as well as textured blue, red and white card stock. I love the shimmer and sparkle in the patterned papers, so I wanted to create a simple Christmas card that really allowed those papers to stand out.

I made six cards with this design -- two of each color card base -- and they all have the same basic layout. A couple of them have snowflakes in the center, and the others have the greeting "tidings of comfort and joy." For the cards with the greeting, I punched a 1/2" circle out of the striped paper and glued it in the center of the ornament.

These cards originally had completely different focal points. I had used a set of rub-on greetings to create the focal point on each card, but the rub-ons didn't adhere to the textured card stock very well (which is odd, because I've used them on materials that had more texture without any problems), and they started rubbing off. So after I thought I was done (and after I'd gotten over my annoyance), I had to go back and redo the focal point on the cards. But it all worked out for the best, because I think liked the revised cards even better than the originals!

Except for the trouble with the rub-ons, these cards were quick and easy to make. And at this time of year, that's always a good thing. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

All creatures great and small

I finally finished my Christmas cards yesterday. Woo hoo! I made a total of sixty-five cards this year, which should be just about right. Now I get a break for a week or two, and then it's time to start addressing envelopes. (I still do all of my addressing and signing cards by hand because I actually like the feel of writing and I think it's more personal.)

I've always loved holiday cards that include animals, so two of the card designs I made yesterday focused on animals.

Supplies (all Stampin' Up!®):
Stamps: Zoo Review, Curly Cute
Card stock: Pool Party, Whisper White, Basic Black
Ink: Jet Black StazOn, Pumpkin Pie, Basic Gray
Accessories: Aquapainter, Snow Burst embossing folder, 1/8" Basic Black taffeta ribbon, 1-3/4" circle punch, Dazzling Details, Basic Rhinestones, Dimensionals

This is my favorite Christmas card design from this year (and I think it was subconsciously inspired by an adorable bookmark I received from the World Wildlife Fund). For the main part of the card, I embossed a 4" x 5-1/4" piece of Pool Party card stock with the Snow Burst embossing folder and layered it on a Basic Black card base. I cut pieces of white card stock freehand to make the snowdrifts, stamped the greeting and added Dazzling Details for a little sparkle.

For the penguin, I stamped the image on white card stock and used an Aquapainter brush and ink pads to fill in his beak, feet and wings. I used the 1-3/4" circle punch to punch out the penguin, and then I trimmed around the image, leaving the circular edge on the bottom intact. I used Dimensionals to adhere the penguin to a circle of Pool Party card stock and also to adhere the entire piece onto the card. When placing the penguin image on the card, I tried to match up the snow line on the stamped image with the edge of the snowdrifts, so the penguin is in a slightly different place on each card I made of this design.

For the last couple of details, I tied a piece of black ribbon around the top of the card (to balance out the black greeting on the bottom) and added a few randomly placed rhinestones to the embossed snowflakes on the background. This card just makes me smile!

Supplies (all Stampin' Up!):
Stamps: Zoo Review, Peaceful Season
Card stock: Crumb Cake, Whisper White
Ink: Jet Black StazOn, Always Artichoke, Crumb Cake, More Mustard, Soft Suede, Pumpkin Pie, Basic Gray, Not Quite Navy
Accessories: Circle punches: 3/4", 1-1/4", 1-3/8", 1-3/4"; Framed Tulips embossing folder; Aquapainter

This is a fairly simple card; it doesn't have any layers or (as I realized when I was done making it) any embellishments. But I think the simplicity works well with the message and feel of this card.

To start I stamped the greeting and dove on opposite corners of a Crumb Cake card base. Then I embossed the card with the Framed Tulips embossing folder. When I stamped the images, I tried to leave a little space on the sides to account for the embossing. Parts of the images still ended up getting embossed, but it doesn't really affect the card.

I stamped the animal images on white card stock, colored them with an Aquapainter brush and ink pads and punched them out with different sizes of circle punches. (I used all five of the animal stamps in the Zoo Review set, but they wouldn't all fit on the card. So the cards I made with this design have different combinations of animals.) I stamped the Earth image in Always Artichoke, filled it in with an Aquapainter and Not Quite Navy ink and punched it out with the 3/4" circle punch. I played with the arrangement of the circles until I liked the layout and then glued them down (the Earth image is adhered with a Dimensional).

Honestly, this card didn't turn out how I imaged. It was yet another case of something being lost in translation between my head and my hands. But I'm still pretty happy with the end product.

Now with my cards made, I just need to do my Christmas shopping, gift-making, wrapping, decorating, maybe some baking ... I'd better get busy! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful thoughts

Happy Thanksgiving!

Although I don't always remember it, I am thankful for many things in my life. Big things like family, a job, food and my home. And little things like books, fleece blankets, beautiful flowers and lots of crafting supplies. And today I'm also thankful for what looks like will be a beautiful warm (for November) and sunny day.

I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday filled with many things for which to be thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rudolph pennant card

I am slowly but surely finishing my Christmas cards. With a little luck, inspiration and a couple of days off work, maybe I'll meet my goal this weekend. Here is one of the cards I made last Saturday:

Supplies (all Stampin' Up!® unless otherwise noted):
Stamps: Lots of Thoughts
Paper: River Rock card stock, Close to Cocoa card stock, Real Red card stock, Basic Black card stock, Brights Collection Patterns DSP Stack
Ink: Old Olive
Accessories: Doodlecharms Cricut cartridge (Provo Craft), Perfect Pennants die, 1/8" circle punch, 1/2" circle punch, Dotted Scallop Ribbon Border punch, Itty Bitty Shapes punch pack, Real Red satin ribbon, Christmas Red Stickles (Ranger), Dimensionals

I cut out the reindeer (3 1/2") with my Cricut and the Doodlecharms cartridge. His nose is a 1/2" circle covered with Christmas Red Stickles glitter glue (Rudolph's gotta have a little sparkle, right?), and his eyes are 1/8" circles.

To embellish the pennant, I punched a strip of Real Red card stock with the Dotted Scallop Ribbon Border punch. Then I cut the strip in half lengthwise and adhered the pieces behind the long sides of the pennant so just a bit of the scallop detail is visible. For an embellishment at the bottom of the pennant, I punched two small scallop circles (from the Itty Bitty Shapes punch pack). I crumpled one of the circles so it curled up, glued it on the second scallop circle, adhered them to the pennant and then added a drop of Stickles in the center. Rudolph's ready to spread some holiday cheer!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Couldn't put it down

I love to read, and truthfully I enjoy most of the books I read. But I haven't read a book I couldn't put down in a while. Then last weekend I started reading The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The series takes place in the future in what was once North America. There are twelve districts in the country of Panem, and every year each district has two send two children (or tributes) between the ages of 12 and 18 -- one girl and one boy -- to the Capitol to participate in the Hunger Games. The tributes essentially are required to fight to the death, and the last survivor is the victor.

I'd had the first novel (The Hunger Games) on my Kindle since January, but I was never sure if I was in the right mood to read it. Finally I just decided to dive in, and I wish I had read them sooner! I kept trying to sneak in a few pages or even sentences whenever I could. I even tried reading while I walked to work, but sadly it's just too dark at 6:30 in the morning. (I did, however, read while walking home from work.)

Well, when I finished the first book Wednesday morning, I wanted to start the second one, Chasing Fire, right away. (My sister has all three books on her Kindle, and she said she would loan me the second and third books.) But I had a project to finish for work and a few other things that needed to get done, and I knew that if I started reading the next book I would be distracted and not get my work done. So I said I had to wait.

And wait I did. For about three days. By yesterday afternoon I gave into temptation and started reading the second book. I read on and off during the afternoon and evening and then straight from about 11:00 last night until 5:30 this morning. Seriously. I had droopy eyelids and was the losing the ability to even hold onto my Kindle by the time I was done, but I finished reading the second book.

OK, with two done, I decided I was going to wait until Thanksgiving break to read the third book. I managed to finish a few chores today (and, surprisingly, keep my eyes open) before I gave in again and started reading the third book, Mockingjay. I know I won't be able to read the whole book tonight -- pesky work and all -- but if I pace myself then I'll get to enjoy it longer, right?

Now I'm really excited to see The Hunger Games movie, which is being released next March. (That sounds so far away!) Maybe I'll even read the books again before then. If you haven't read them yet, I would definitely recommend it. They are young adult books, so the reading isn't difficult. But they are very thought provoking, and you will find yourself becoming totally absorbed in the characters and rooting on the heroes.

Have a great week!

Friday, November 18, 2011

'Boo' pennant banner card

For a little change of pace from all the Christmas cards, I thought I'd share a Halloween card today. I didn't post this card earlier because it was one I had made for a contest in Stampin' Success®, a magazine for Stampin' Up!® demonstrators, and I wanted to wait and see if I won the contest. No such luck this time, so I'll share it with you now:

Supplies (all Stampin' Up!):
Stamps: Pennant Parade, Medallion, Bingo Card
Card stock: Peach Parfait, Concord Crush, Lucky Limeade, Whisper White
Ink: Concord Crush
Accessories: Frost White shimmer paint, Old Olive 1/8" taffeta ribbon, In Color 2010 - 2012 glimmer brads, silver mini brads, basic pearls, Petite Pennants Builder punch, Scallop Edge Border punch, 1/16" circle punch, paper-piercing tool, mat pack, Dimensionals, Sticky Strip, Multipurpose Liquid Glue

The theme for the contest was to create a project using any of the current In Colors, and I really like this combination: Peach Parfait, Concord Crush and Lucky Limeade. (I made this card a week or two before Halloween, so I'm sure that influenced my color choices.) I decided to make this card 3" x 6" so it was long enough to accommodate five triangles on the banner.

I love the shimmer on this card, and it was pretty easy to create. For the background, I used a sponge dauber to apply shimmer paint to the Medallion background stamp and then stamped the image on the card base. For the shine on the banner, I punched the triangles out of Lucky Limeade card stock and then applied the shimmer paint all over the triangles and adhered them to the scalloped triangles. The glimmer brads add an extra bit of bling.

The letters on the banner are from the word "bingo" on the Bingo Card background stamp. I stamped the image twice on white card stock and cut out the letters I needed for my card. I'd wanted to try something like this since I bought the Bingo Card stamp; unfortunately, there aren't too many things you can spell with the letters in the word "bingo."

Here's a peek at the inside of the card, too:
Supplies (all Stampin' Up!):
Stamps: Spooky Bingo Bits, Grateful Greetings
Card stock: Whisper White
Ink: Concord Crush, Peach Parfait, Lucky Limeade markers
Accessories: Frost White shimmer paint, sponge daubers 

I think that with a different color combination this could be a fun layout for a Christmas card, too. Maybe with the word "joy" on the banner. I might just have to try that ... Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shaker cards

I don't make them very often, but I think shaker cards are so much fun to make and to receive, especially at Christmas. "Snowy" scenes with glitter or beads work perfectly as shaker cards. This weekend I made a couple of different shaker card designs.

I made one card of the design on the left (it didn't turn out quite the way I imagined, and I wasn't sure I liked it enough to make more) and six of the card on the right. For both cards I used silver glass glitter as the "snow," which worked well. It's a bit heavier than regular glitter, so it doesn't stick to the plastic quite as much. The white card stock layers were pre-cut to 4" x 5-1/4" -- perfect for layering on an A2 card -- and they already had a hole cut to fit perfectly over the shakers.

Here are individual pictures of the cards and supply information:

Supplies (all Stampin' Up!® unless otherwise noted):
Stamps: Snow Much Fun, Northern Hearts
Ink: Jet Black StazOn® pad, Crumb Cake pad, Cherry Cobbler marker, Baja Breeze marker, Pumpkin Pie marker, Basic Black marker
Card stock: Crumb Cake, Whisper White, white overlay (The Paper Cut)
Accessories: Shaker pouch (Impression Obsession), silver glass glitter, Baja Breeze seam binding ribbon, white baker's twine, mini jingle bells

I wanted a bright white color for the snowman, so I paper pieced him and the snowballs and used markers to color the rest of the image directly on the Crumb Cake card stock. I stamped snowflakes on the overlay and tied Baja Breeze seam binding ribbon around it. I strung the mini jingle bells on a piece of baker's twine and then tied the twine in a bow around the knot in the ribbon.

Supplies (all Stampin' Up! unless otherwise noted):
Stamps:Cute Converse
Ink: Not Quite Navy
Card stock: Not Quite Navy, Garden Green, Wild Wasabi, Chocolate Chip, Whisper White, white overlay (The Paper Cut)
Accessories: Shaker pouch (Impression Obsession), silver glass glitter, white baker's twine, mini jingle bells, Heart to Heart punch, small oval punch, 1/16" hole punch, snowflake embossing folder (Sizzix), Dazzling Details

For each tree, I used three punched hearts layered together for the branches and added a thin strip of Chocolate Chip card stock for the trunk. I can't take credit for the idea of making trees with the heart shapes, but this is the first time I've tried it. (I think they look pretty cute!) It's hard to see in this picture, but I tore the edge off two pieces of white card stock and glued them at the base of the trees to look like snow. I also added a light touch of Dazzling Details glitter glue to the trees and snow to add a little sparkle.

I embossed the overlay with a snowflake embossing folder, wrapped it with baker's twine and added a tag, mini jingle bell and bow. I stamped the "merry little christmas" greeting on the tags for three of the cards; on the other tags, I stamped "jingle all the way." I think this is one of my favorite Christmas card designs so far this year!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Snowy night, Christmas lights

First off, I want to say a big thank you to all of our veterans and active-duty service members. Your sacrifices, strength and courage protect our country and our freedom. Happy Veteran's Day!

Now, I have two more Christmas card designs to share from my crafting day last Saturday. The first is a quiet, snowy Christmas night:

Supplies (all Stampin' Up!®, unless otherwise noted):
Stamps: Pennant Parade, Many Merry Messages
Card stock: Whisper White, Night of Navy, Early Espresso
Ink: Old Olive
Accessories: Pennant Builder punch, basic rhinestones, snowflake embossing folder (Sizzix), Stampin' Dimensionals®

I made six cards of this design, and when I made the first one, I didn't emboss the navy background with the snowflakes. It didn't look bad, but it was just a bit too plain. I wanted something subtle in the background, so I thought the embossed snowflakes would be the perfect touch. For the bottom of the card, I ripped a piece of white card stock to resemble snow. I added a rhinestone to the middle tree for just a touch of sparkle.

For the last card I made a festive string of Christmas lights:

Supplies (all Stampin' Up!):
Stamps: Warmest Regards
Card stock: Whisper White, Basic Black, Wisteria Wonder, Cherry Cobbler, Island Indigo, So Saffron, Old Olive
Ink: Jet Black StazOn pad®
Accessories: Stocking Accents die, Basic Black 1/8" taffeta ribbon, Crystal Effects, Stampin' Dimensionals, Glue Dots®

I only made one card with this design because A) I wasn't exactly sure how I wanted to put it together, B) the Crystal Effects required some drying time, and C) I didn't want to die cut Christmas lights forever. I made two die cuts for each light: one in black and one in a color. I trimmed the end off the colored lights and glued each one to a black light. Then I coated the colored part of each light with Crystal Effects for a nice shine.

Once the lights were dry, I used Glue Dots to attach them to a piece of ribbon. I originally attached the lights so they were all facing the same direction (i.e., if you held the ribbon from end to end, all the lights faced down), but once I started arranging the lights on the card, I had to pull a couple of them off the ribbon and flip them around. I used Dimensionals to attach the lights to the card, letting the ribbon bunch up and twist a bit. (I suppose if I wanted it to look really authentic, I should have put a few knots in the ribbon!)

Quick writing update: My novel for NaNoWriMo has been coming along very slowly. So far I've written 10,720 words. On the positive side, that's more than I wrote the last time I tried NaNoWriMo. The negative is that in order to reach the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel in a month, I should be around 25,000 words by Nov. 15, which is just four days away. I have a feeling that's not going to happen. But I'm going to try to keep writing at least a little bit every day, and maybe I'll surprise myself.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Roly poly snowman

I love to make snowmen cards for Christmas. They always make me smile, and I have yet to see a snowman stamp that isn't cute. This little guy is no exception:

Supplies (all Stampin' Up!®, unless otherwise noted):
Stamps: Roly Poly Winter Joy (Unity Stamp Co.), Merry
Paper: Baja Breeze, Whisper White, Riding Hood Red, Country Living Holiday Collection Stampin' Kit
Ink: Jet Black StazOn® pad; markers: Baja Breeze, Riding Hood Red, Old Olive, Chocolate Chip, Pumpkin Pie
Accessories: Frost White shimmer paint, sponge daubers, 2-1/2" circle punch, Tasteful Trim die, basic rhinestones, Dimensionals

To make the background for this card, I used a sponge dauber to apply Frost White shimmer paint directly to the snowflake stamp and then stamped it on the card stock. (I re-applied the shimmer paint each time I stamped the image.) I haven't had my shimmer paint for very long, but I love stamping with it. It dries quickly, doesn't smear and creates a subtle, sparkly image -- perfect for backgrounds. It's a little hard to see in the picture, but I also used a sponge dauber to apply some shimmer paint to the focal image under the snowman.

I made six cards with this design during my crafting day last weekend. That's probably about my max for a card like this because all the coloring and re-applying the shimmer paint on the stamp was a little time-consuming. One time-saver, however, was my Tasteful Trim die. I used Riding Hood Red card stock with the die to cut several different trim styles -- rick-rack, single scallop and double scallop -- at one time. Then I used the different trims on the other cards I made with this design.

Even though I'm really not ready for snow, this happy, roly poly snowman makes the thought a bit more bearable.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stocking trio

As I promised yesterday, here are the details for one of the Christmas card designs I made during my crafting time on Saturday:

Supplies (all Stampin' Up!®):
Paper: Very Vanilla card stock, Old Olive card stock, Chocolate Chip card stock, red glimmer paper, Christmas Jingle Simply Scrappin' Kit
Accessories: Snow Burst embossing folder, Stocking Builder punch, Real Red 1/8" taffeta ribbon, Dimensionals

(Note: I have seen any number of cute Christmas cards over the past weeks made with these stockings and the Snow Burst embossing folder, so I had a lot of inspiration. I can't necessarily say this is a completely original idea, but it was original to me while I was making it.)

For the background I embossed a 4-1/2" x 3-1/4" piece of Very Vanilla card stock with the Snow Burst embossing folder. I matted that with a 4-3/4" x 3-1/2" piece of Old Olive card stock and adhered the pieces to the middle of a Chocolate Chip card base.

I used the Stocking Builder punch to make three stockings from the striped pattern paper in the Christmas Jingle Simply Scrappin Kit. (For this card I tried to line up the punch so that the stripes were in the same place on each stocking. For the other cards I made with this layout, I decided that wasn't really important.) I punched the top, toe and heel pieces out of red glimmer paper, glued them together and added a little hanger with Real Red 1/8" taffeta ribbon. I attached them to the piece of embossed Very Vanilla card stock with Dimensionals, and that's it! A pretty quick, but really cute Christmas card.

I'll be sharing the rest of my cards in the coming days. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Crafting day results

As of today there are forty-nine days until Christmas, and I am woefully unprepared. My cards are nowhere near finished, never mind having any gift-making started. Thankfully yesterday I had a crafting day scheduled. My mom, aunt and I joined a group of ladies who get together once a month at Saint John Vianney church/school in South St. Paul. We arrived with all of our supplies a little after 9 a.m. and worked all day (with a few breaks for lunch and snacks) until about 7 p.m. I managed to make nineteen Christmas cards (six each of three designs and one random one), which brings my grand total of completed Christmas cards up to about twenty-three. Here are the cards that I made; I'll post individual pictures and supply info later this week.

I had a good time and a fairly productive day. But it is difficult to decide what to bring and then get everything packed up. I over-packed a little (brought way too much card stock for one thing), but it's really hard to know what you might "need" while you're stamping. Next time I might try to have some card designs done ahead of time and just bring the supplies for those cards. I think next weekend I'll be having a craft day with my friend Lisa. Maybe I can get another bunch of cards done then. At the rate I'm going, I don't think I'll have time to make and send Thanksgiving cards this year ...

I'm also still plugging away at my novel for NaNoWriMo. I'm up to just over 7,500 words, which is behind where I should be (about 10,000 by the end of today). But I think if I can write an average of a thousand words each day this month -- which I am currently ahead of -- I'll be happy. I obviously wouldn't get to the goal of 50,000 words, but that's okay. It's a bit overwhelming to think about getting done everything that I need to do, so I'm trying not to add too much pressure about finishing my novel. But maybe I'll find a "zone" and surprise myself.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The first thousand words

November 1. Know what that means? Time to start my novel for National Novel Writing Month. I figured out that in order to finish a 50,000-word novel in thirty days, I'll have to write an average of about 1,667 words per day. Some days that seems completely manageable. But then other days I can barely imagine writing a hundred words.