Friday, May 29, 2009

Oh Where Oh Where...

has my desire to create gone? Oh where, oh where can it be? I'm not sure why, but I can't seem to summon anything creative from my brain. I tried this afternoon while Michael was sleeping off the anesthesia from his oral surgery, but I don't like what I came up with, so you're not gonna see it.

You see, there's some pressure that comes with having a blog. I feel the need to post regularly, and that means I need to create something regularly. When that doesn't happen, I feel as though I'm disappointing you, my readers. I would be disappointed if I were you, since I subscribe to about 20 blogs and look forward daily to clicking on my Google Reader link to see what everyone's posted.

This round of creative block started last week. I was minding my own business, happily perusing House Beautiful magazine while at the hair salon. I came across some cool pictures and jotted down the color combinations I liked. Trouble is, I want to make something using those colors, and it's just not happening!

Today should've been such a great day for crafting. I was housebound, due to aforementioned boy's need for a nursemaid. That meant I had time abundant. Perhaps I didn't try hard enough, but I'm easily dissuaded (and discouraged?).

I think part of it has to do with the fact that I don't like the process of trial and error. I've long held that I'm not an artist for this very reason. I have an aversion to messes of all kinds, even creative ones. I like things to work out the first time. Life just isn't that way, is it?

So, now you know why there haven't been many posts here recently. There's a Stamp-A-Stack coming up in a few weeks, though, so something'll have to give. For now, I'm going to try not to think about it too much. Just thought you should know.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Behold! Baja Button Birthday Blessing

A good friend of mine is having a milestone birthday in about a week. She'll enter a new decade of life...the 30s! I wanted her card to just be simple and sweet, just like she is. Some may call her "plain Jane", but I think she's a classic, elegant woman who doesn't fit society's mold...and doesn't care one bit!

I chose my favorite color scheme of this year--Kraft, Whisper White, and Baja Breeze. The BB button is corduroy and only available in the Occasions Mini Catalog through the end of June, and I threaded it with linen thread that SU! sells. Yes, Sandra, it was a bit of a trick to tie that little bow, but isn't it sweet? I think it sets off the card's sentiment quite nicely.

Here's the whole card! The birthday wish is from Full of Life, an all sentiments set I've really enjoyed. The DSP is from A Walk in the Park, a special offering of 6-12"x12" patterns featured in the Occasions Mini as well. (Click here to download a PDF version!)

BREAKING NEWS...June will be the last month when stamps, accessories, and DSP from the Spring-Summer Idea Book and Catalog and the Occasions Mini Catalog will be available. To "sweeten the pot" this last month, SU! is offering a great deal for those who host in-home classes or catalog shows.

For orders from classes or catalog shows or individuals that total $250-399 in merchandise, the hostess will receive $20 extra in Hostess Dollars. This means that instead of having between $25 and $40 to spend on whatever you've had your eye on, you'll have either $45 or $60 at your disposal! If the orders total $400 or more, the hostess will receive and extra $40 in Hostess Dollars.

This is in addition to the FREE Hostess stamp set(s) you'll receive. It's really a sweet deal, and I want to help you take advantage of it!

Consider how easy it would be to host an online catalog show. Simply choose a specific period of time when you tell your friends and family that they can view the online catalogs and tell you what they want. You collect the orders, pass them along to me, and you get the bonus bucks!

For my local readers, you know you've been wanting to get your hands on some stamps, and hosting an afternoon or evening of stamping at your house is really quite easy. Take a few minutes to put together a list of friends you have been meaning to get together with and invite them to join you for a relaxing evening away from kids, chauffeuring, and meal making! I'll do all the prep, and we'll all have fun.

June's just around the corner, but the month is wide open for this opportunity. Seize the day, stamping friends! Contact me via email through my profile, or leave a comment and we'll connect. This offer's too good to pass up!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

They are Finished!

I know I have been rather inconsistent in my blog posts the past few weeks, but I have a good reason. I've been working on a project for Amazima Ministries International, and I just put it in the mail this afternoon!

AMI is an organization that feeds, educates, and loves children in Uganda. On July 17 there is going to be a fundraising dinner in Brentwood, TN, and I volunteered to make the invitations. The organizers wanted large invites for the table sponsors and I suggested that these folks have business card-sized reminders they could give to those they invite to be guests at their table.

The invitation is a 4" x 6" base of Basic Black. The Whisper White layer was stamped with a Papertrey Ink border from Simply Stationery that I colored with Real Red, Only Orange, Summer Sun, Garden Green, and Brilliant Blue. The details of the event are printed on vellum and adhered with glue dots. The organization's logo was printed and placed in the middle of the WW layer underneath the vellum.

The reminder cards are a smaller abbreviated version of the large invite, measuring 2" x 3.5", and have all the same elements. There were 225 of these to color, cut, and layer!

I'm so pleased to have had the opportunity to be involved with Amazima in this way. Our family will be road tripping next month to be at the dinner...anyone interested in making a caravan?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What Should I Do with This?

SCS offers a plethora of challenges to help spark card crafters' creativity. There's a color challenge, a layout challenge, and a technique lover's challenge, to name a few.

This week's TLC221 features a card design called a Tri-Shutter Card. Bonnie at Craftiblog posted her version of a card created by Jan Webb of the SunnySide of Crafting. Debi forwarded a link to Lynn, who hosts the TLC challenge, and somehow I stumbled across it! Follow all that? Isn't that great?! I love the internet, and I just LOVE it when people are generous with their ideas for the greater good. So I'm "paying it forward" by sharing this cool card with you.

This is much more simple than it looks, which is why I like it. It has a WOW! factor without being a pain to make. I'm not going to try to recreate either tutorial; just follow the links. I used Bonnie's.

It starts with a 5.5" x 12" sheet of card stock, and I chose the copper paper from Taste of Textiles. (This isn't quite as marvelous as the long-retired shimmery copper SU! used to sell, but it's better than not having any at all!) I used retired Autumn Vine DSP because it coordinates so well with the copper. Another thing I really like about this card is that it will mail in a traditional A2 envelope.

The problem I have is this: now that I have it done this far, I'm trying to figure out what to do with it. I'm thinking it might make a cool Father's Day card, but a little stuck when it comes to embellishments. I think I'll check out the TLC221 gallery for inspiration. I'm looking for a really good quote to put in the center panel. I welcome any suggestions.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You Know You're a Hoosier When...

I was listening to NPR this morning on my way home from taking Michael to school, and there was a story about the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For those of you not from the Midwest, the Indy 500, the premiere auto racing event, is this Sunday, so the age of the 2.5 mile oval is significant.

To enhance the story, the reporter incorporated clips from famous moments in the track's history with his facts. I heard the announcer say, "The first lady ever to qualify at Indianapolis..." and then the story segued right into another sound bite! I shouted at the reporter, "Tell me who it was! Don't leave me hanging like this!"

I picked up the phone to call my dad, who I knew would know the answer. As I was dialing, however, my Hoosier heritage kicked in, and a name came floating forth from my mental filing cabinet. Before I would speak it aloud, though, I wanted to confirm it with dad. You see, my father was the one who instilled the love for the race in his girls.

He went to Butler University in Indianapolis, and during his years as a student, he served as an usher at the race. Yes, he helped race fans to their seats. So, although he never was a slave to sports television, he followed the weeks leading up to the race each year to see who would qualify and what the fastest times would be, and we always listened to the race on the radio after church while we ate lunch.

Well, dad wasn't home and had left home without his cell phone. So I googled it and found out that the name that had popped into my head was correct: Janet Guthrie was the first woman ever to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, and this is a picture of the race car she drove. That was 1977, and Danica Patrick owes a lot to this pioneer and Lyn St. James, the first woman Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award winner. Danica's starting in 10th position this year, and there are 2 other women in the qualifying field of 33 cars. Helio Castroneves claimed the pole position.

I know this has nothing to do with stamping, but now you know a little more about me, and a little more about auto racing. Oh to be back home again in Indiana this weekend...NASCAR's just not the same.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Super Quick, No Stamping Cards

Very rarely do I post a card that has no stamping, but I'm doing so today to highlight a very cool set of products called Simply Scrappin' Kits. While SU! has a great line of rubber stamps and accessories for the card maker, many may not know that it also has a fantastic line of kits for the scrapbooking enthusiast. It dawned on me the other day that these kits would also make great cards for those who are pressed for time or who want to create their own cards, but don't know which stamp set to choose.

This card is from the Sunshine Garden Simply Scrappin' Kit. There is a HUGE amount of stuff in this kit for just $20! You get:

8-12"x12" sheets of card stock in 4 colors,
6 sheets of 12"x12" double-sided, coordinating DSP, and
6 sheets of stickers and borders

(If you want to sneak away for a few minutes to check out the link and see all the stuff, I'll wait.)

It's amazing how many cards you can get from this one kit! If you made 3"x6" cards, you could get 32! That's incredible value for the price. I encourage you to check out this line of materials and see which one strikes your fancy.

One last thing...when I made this card, I designed it to follow a horizontal orientation. As I was putting together the materials for Saturday's Stamp-A-Stack, though, I realized that the card looked good oriented vertically too! Which orientation do you like? Just curious...Happy Monday!

Friday, May 15, 2009

What Do Windows and Sheets Have in Common?

Well, not much in the card world, except that they're not really windows but they do come in sheets? Confused? So am I. I never was good at being clever, so let me just cut to the chase.

SU! has a new product called Clearly Thanks Printed Window Sheets. They are 8.5"x11" sheets of acetate with designs printed on them in white. These can be quartered to create 4 card fronts for quick, easy cards. Today's post highlights two of the four designs. These are available as part of the current Occasions Mini Catalog, and I don't know if they'll be carried after the catalog sales period ends next month. So, if you like these, either shop online by clicking on the shop 24/7 button in the upper right corner of my blog, or go directly to the link provided and choose me, Jenn Nahrstadt, as your demonstrator and have them delivered to your door!

This card highlights why the set of sheets (there are 2 sheets to a pack for $5.95) is called Clearly Thanks. What a quick way to get a thank you card made and mailed! This one starts with a base of Baja Breeze and has a mat of striped Kraft from the Taste of Textiles paper pack. It's 10 sheets of 12"x12" square heavyweight patterned and textured card stock. The butterfly is from Great Friend, another Occasions Mini offering. The button is from a package of a variety of sizes of corduroy buttons in Baja Breeze. These too are an Occasions Mini offering. Can you tell there's a lot of great stuff in this catalog? The ribbon is 5/8" BB striped ribbon. The button is actually a brad, so I attached it through the acetate and the Kraft layer, then mounted the whole thing with Stampin' Dimensionals.

Here's another card using the Clearly Thanks Window Sheets. This image of dandelions so speaks "summer", and I embellished these with small BB corduroy brad buttons. I used the butterfly again, as well as the sentiment and label image from Great Friend, since these cards are two for this month's Stamp-A-Stack tomorrow.

There's still plenty of time to order from the Occasions Mini. You can even host a class at your house or mine or some neutral (i.e. no one has to clean!) location and see other products from this fabulous catalog. Leave me a comment if you're interested in setting something up!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Time with Mom (and Dad)

Happy Mother's Day to all my readers! In honor of this special day, I thought I'd share with you a picture of my mom and me, as well as a few pictures from our time with my dad at Callaway Gardens on Friday.

Callaway Gardens is in Pine Mountain, GA, about 70 miles south of Atlanta. It is over 100 years old, and is an amazing place of beauty. There are 31,000 acres to explore, and we had 3 hours. Needless to say, we only skimmed the highlights! I'm going to let the pictures speak the thousand words I'd like to say. Consider these my Mother's Day Bouquet to you.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Easy Peasy Flowers...Hypoallergenic Too!

WOW! They say that April flowers bring May flowers, and that is true. We've been BLESSED with tons of rain this spring after 2 years of drought, and Lake Lanier is at 1064.69 ft, almost back to 1071--full pool. All the rain has created an out of control pollen and mold conditions though! Even though the rain washes the pollen out of the air (and off our cars), the increased humidity makes the mold bloom. So, I decided that a hypoallergenic flower would be most welcome today.

This is a 10-minute card. I punched out 3 scallop circles from Apricot Appeal and 3-3/4" circles from retired DSP (Afternoon Tea). The ribbon positioning and bow creating took the longest time. I really like this wider Old Olive grosgrain though. I am trying to do flatter embellishments because the post office charges extra for cards that are thicker than 1/4". They also have to be hand cancelled, and busy women like me don't always have time to go in the PO to do this! The base is 2.75" x 11" Chocolate Chip, and the sentiment is from a retired Hostess set called Live Like You Mean It.

By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, this card design was inspired by two fellow stampers, Laurie Froehlich and Patty Bennett. Thanks, gals!

Now for a few housekeeping items:

1) My parents arrive from IN in a few hours, so my stamping time will shrink dramatically for the next week. We have some special events to go to (piano recital and jazz band concert), and I'm planning a day trip for us tomorrow. So, there may not be cards to see, but probably family faces will be posted for posterity.

2) Just so you don't think I'm compulsively neat, here's a picture of my desk that I snapped just before photographing today's card. I'm a bit tired this afternoon, and, frankly, I just don't care!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Coloring..."Inside the Lines" Person or Not?

I find coloring soothing. Focusing on creating a pattern with a palette of hues is a nice way to while away some time. The only problem on Monday was that I didn't have a lot of time. I needed to create a birthday card for my 12-years-old-today nephew Drew and get the card in the mail.

I don't have many stamp sets that are good for kids' cards, let alone one that would work well for a 'tween boy. I had to improvise, because I wasn't going to be caught dead in the card aisle at Kroger. I know you're tired of hearing about it, but I have to share that this color combination came from a shirt my husband purchased for himself! I used Baja Breeze and Tangerine Tango reinkers and a blender pen after stamping the Geometrics background stamp with Chocolate Chip.

The ribbon was an afterthought, and I think I should've left well enough alone. What's done is done, though, and Drew will only look at it for a few seconds anyway. Please look past the fact at the sentiment is slightly crooked. Did I mention I was pressed for time? I had to cut my losses and get it done.

Yes, I know I should've planned ahead more. This month there is a profusion of birthdays in the family--my little sister turns 40 on the 17th; my sister-in-law turns 38 on the 18th; and my brother-in-law turns 45 on the 21st. And, lest we FORGET, Mother's Day is Sunday! Do I have any of the birthday cards made yet? NOPE! I thrive on's a throwback to my days as a journalist. At least you know that means you'll have lots to look at in the coming weeks...some of you will enjoy watching me squirm, I know.

So, are you a planner or a procrastinator? An "inside the lines" or "outside the lines" colorer?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Inspired to a pair of SOCKS!

Two weeks ago at work, my fellow partner and friend Lizza showed me her socks. She wanted me to know that she'd purchased the entire six-pack at Target just for that pair. She really liked the color combination of gray, yellow, and pink. I was not a fan, but that color combo came to mind when I was making her going away card.

I used my Simply Stationery set from Papertrey Ink again, and went after a pattern I had seen on PTI founder Nichole Heady's blog. (You have to scroll down a bit until you see the teal teapot to see what inspired me.) The pattern came together rather easily after I worked it out on grid paper to get the spacing correct. The Basic Gray circles were alternated with Pretty in Pink circles, and the design that fits in the space created between the orbs is stamped with Summer Sun. You can double click on the photo to see it closeup. The base is Basic Gray and the patterned piece is mounted on PiP and tied with Gray Taffeta ribbon. The sentiment is from Heard from the Heart. I'll have another card to post sometime soon that will show my first attempt at this pattern. It's addictive.

Coincidentally (or not), when I was in Austin a few weeks after seeing Nichole's post (but before seeing Lizza's socks), I saw this architectural feature while Lydia was showing me the area surrounding the capitol. I asked her if she'd circle the block so I could photograph it. She didn't flinch; fellow bloggers understand the need for proper art for our readers.

I know I've said this a few times recently, but inspiration really is everywhere. Be on the lookout for it, and put it to good use as you create for those you care about. Lizza was tickled that I'd remembered and those you craft for will notice that you took the time to infuse your work with something special to them.

BTW: Thanks for sharing about your great friends. I've loved reading your tributes. If you don't know what I'm talking about and want to get in on it, check out yesterday's post.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Celebrating Great Friends

I'm sure that someone's name came to mind when you read my blog post title today. I'd love for you to share with me who that person is and what he or she means to you. My great friend is my husband, Bob. For me, it's always awkward to try to articulate what someone means to me and why. Part of the reason is because when I share what is special about him, I end up describing what he does for me. Is someone a great friend because of what he or she does to make me feel good, or are there innate qualities of that person that come out in our interactions? Perhaps I'm getting too deep.

All that said, here's why Bob is a great friend. He's steady...he almost always thinks the best of me, even when (and especially when) I'm not seeing myself clearly. He's constantly cheering me on, encouraging me in my work, my stamping and my musical pursuits. He's also funny. I need to laugh, and he makes me do that, or at least smile, every day.

Before you become concerned about my card color choices, let me provide a disclaimer: this card is not for Bob! The reason I told you about Bob's great relational qualities, however, is because the stamp set used here is called Great Friend. It's in the current Occasions Mini Catalog, which means it's available through the end of June. One of the things that convinced me to purchase this set was the mix of images and sentiments this set has. The butterfly is beautiful, and the leaf stamp coordinates so perfectly with it, but what really sold me were the other stamps.

Who wouldn't want to receive a card that says, "You're a friend who makes good times great."? That label stamp will nicely frame that sentiment, and the "for you" phrase coupled with the label stamp also makes this set useful for creating small gift tags for Mother's Day, Teacher Appreciation Week, and graduation presents. Sets that serve multiple functions are fantastic, aren't they?

A few quick words about the card: it's on Cameo Coral, and it's a skinny, long note card created by cutting a 2.75" strip of 8.5"x11" and scoring it at 5.5". The DSP is also from the Occasions Mini and is called A Walk in the Park. It coordinates CC, Baja Breeze, Kiwi Kiss, So Saffron, and Basic Gray. I would never have thought to add that last one, but it really works. The ribbon is KK striped. I didn't use the Great Friend sentiment with this card because it was part of a mini SAS I did 2 weeks ago, and I was using it on another card.

Really, do take a few minutes and share with me about your great friend. Then, take a few minutes and do something to communicate your appreciation for that person. A phone call, a flower, some cookies, a CARD. These people need to be acknowledged, and there's no time like the present.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fridays are Always Beautiful...

but THIS Friday is even more so because of this gorgeous card! I cannot take complete credit for this work of art. I had help.

While I was in Austin a few weeks ago, I was exposed to Lydia's Big Shot. I was at convention last year when it was announced that SU! would begin selling this machine. The place exploded in screams, and I had to lean over to ask Lydia what the big deal was. I had no idea what a Big Shot was. I know; this confirms what you've been thinking all along. I am so culturally unaware that I must live under a rock. More proof of this? I hadn't watched a second of American Idol before last week. How did I function in society?

Since I don't want you to have to let on that you don't know what one is, a Big Shot is a tabletop die cutting machine manufactured by Sizzix. (Follow this link to view a brief tutorial.)

Anyway, Lydia snatched one up immediately, while I still have not made the purchase. So, it was one of her goals for my time in town to convert me to a BS enthusiast.

While I am not completely converted, being able to work with the embossing folder Manhattan Flowers Textured Impressions Die to create this card made me take a large step closer toward a decision. You see, dry embossing is one of the techniques that got me hooked on card making almost 15 years ago. I LOVE that look.

The way this works is simple: cut a piece of card stock to fit the heavy-duty plastic hinged folder that has the impression molded into it. A hand crank pulls the folder through a roller press, producing this raised image. This one is designed to fit a 4.25"x5.5" card front perfectly! I used some retired copper metallic card stock for this project, and I was so pleased with the result.

I paired the image with Sage Shadow card stock and trimmed around the flowers so that they would pop even more on the card. Then I traced the top line of the flowers onto the base of my card and cut that part off the front. The little sentiment is from Great Friend, a stamp set that's in the current Occasions Mini Catalog. I heat embossed it with copper embossing powder, and mounted it the copper card stock. It is adhered to the interior of the card, although it will show when the card is removed the envelope.

This is a stunner in real life! While I may not be a convert yet, I'm beginning to consider the possibility that I may want one of these little machines. I'll keep you posted...