Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sympathy in Saffron

Sympathy cards are so hard to make. It doesn't matter if I am very close to the one who is grieving or simply an acquaintance, it just hurts my heart knowing that I'm making a card because someone has experienced a loss.
However, having recently been the recipient of many Sympathy cards, I know how important they are to make and send. Each time I opened an envelope, I felt the love, care and compassion inside spill out and wash over me. It was like getting hugs from all those friends as they whispered in my ear that they hurt for me and were praying for me. What a blessing to know by virtue of a simple card that I was loved.

Last week, I got word that one of my Stampin' Fools group - Pam - had lost her Mother. I wanted to create something lovely for her to let her know that I cared so I sat down and made this card:

If you read my blog yesterday, it is a similar card to the ones I created for my Mom and I to send out as Thank You's to our friends, but actually this card came first.

I used the beautiful new Fabulous Florets stamp set from the Summer Mini and stamped the main image with So Saffron onto Very Vanilla cardstock. The greeting is stamped with Perfect Plum ink and comes from the Thoughts and Prayers stamp set. I sponged the edges after punching it out with the Large Oval Punch. It's adhered to a piece of Perfect Plum punched out with the Scalloped Oval Punch. It's popped up on Stampin' Dimensionals for emphasis.

I used the Color Spritzer Tool to add a subtle background of Perfect Plum mist and lastly, tied a piece of Very Vanilla Seam Binding around the front. The last little touch is a vintage safety pin from the Vintage Trinkets pack.

Here is the inside view:

Very simple stamping that echoes the card front.

If you were one of the many who mailed me a card from the heart, I thank you from the bottom of mine. You will never know how much it truly meant to me to receive your love and care in the mailbox each day. As card makers, I know we wonder sometimes if our efforts and artwork are really appreciated by the recipient. I can tell you from my perspective, it's one of the greatest gifts you can give because it's a piece of yourself and a gift of your time, our most precious commodity.

Love and hugs to you today!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Clean and Simple - Thank You Cards

This past weekend, I finally sat down and created Thank You cards for Mom and I to send out. We are so blessed. There was such an outpouring of friends and family who stepped in to take care of our needs when Dad died last month, we were amazed at how much people gave of themselves just to take care of us.

Being a stamper, I was for sure NOT going to send out store-bought cards. No way! It just took me a little while before I was able to face this task. I'm not sure what etiquette says is the proper time frame to send out Thank Yous in our situation, but if we are late, I hope folks understand.

Anyway, here is the card I designed. I kept it to one-layer(ish) so it would mail easily.

If you are a regular guest here, you know I mostly like the CAS (clean and simple) style, so this card really came easily to me. I used the wonderful new stamp set Fabulous Florets from the Summer Mini catalog and stamped all the images with Marina Mist. My Dad's favorite color was blue, so it seemed fitting.
The stemmed flower has a single Pearl adhered to it's center and I used my So Saffron marker and the Color Spritzer tool to add a little background to the Very Vanilla cardstock. I used the greeting from the Because I Care stamp set and punched it out with the Large Oval Punch, sponging the edges with So Saffron.

Here is a look at the inside:

I used a greeting from a LONG retired stamp set, I think it's called God Bless, but I'm not sure now. Just a simple flower image in the corner and on the envelope and I was all done. Clean and Simple. I like it!

Where ever you are today, I hope you have the chance to be a blessing to someone. I know that even with all we have been through lately, God has given me several opportunities to be a blessing to someone else. It always lifts my spirits to be able to put a smile on someone else's face and I pray everyday that God will use me that way.

Have a beautiful day!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sew Suite Birthday

Happy Monday Stampers!

Just a quick post for you today - this is one of the cards that my Stampin' Fools made at our party the end of April. They loved it since they did I decided to go ahead and show it to you now even if the Sew Suite series of products are no longer available. I'm sure many of you still have them laying around so I hope you'll feel free to case this idea and use up your supplies! I loved it so much I even made a version of it for my Mom as her Mother's Day card!

Here's the card front: (the turquoise in the DSP is hidden by the card stand)

I used the Pattern Pieces stamp for the top half. It's stamped in Early Espresso ink on Very Vanilla cardstock. I covered the bottom of the card front with the Sweet Stitches DSP. The card base is Peach Parfait cardstock.
The ribbon is the 5/8" Daffodil Delight Grosgrain and I stamped the Tape Measure image from the Sew Suite stamp set using Black Staz-On ink.
The mannequin image was stamped twice, once on the Very Vanilla cardstock, once again on more of the DSP, then it was trimmed out for a bit of paper piecing. Such a fun technique! It's layered on Tempting Turquoise cardstock and then I added the Sweet Stitches Melon Mambo Button with some Linen Thread tied through it. That's all popped up on Stampin' Dimensionals and then the greeting was added using the Teeny Tiny Wishes stamp set.

Here's a glimpse of the inside of the card:

I used the Curvy Verses stamp set and accented it with the little pincushion stamp in Melon Mambo to match the envelope.

So, there you go! You'll have to let me know what you think, ok? :)

I've also been getting a lot of questions about the card stand(s) that I use. The one pictured here is one that I purchased at the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market - Antiques Garage in NYC last month. The same place that I purchased my new (vintage) table for my studio! It's an antique flower frog and I believe you can find them at online auction sites as well. I also have a round green one that my BFF Tiffany Bauer gave me in January. I LOVE it too!

I've always loved antiques and since Shelli challenged us at Leadership in January to remember to do something to "fill our buckets", I've started visiting antiques stores again from time to time, just because I love it so much. I don't always buy something, but I just love peeking and poking around these beautiful, vintage things that have a history all their own. Oh, if only they could talk to us, what stories they would tell! I wish I knew all the stories that my new table has to share. What joys and challenges were shared around it through the years? Birthdays celebrated, holidays shared, babies fed? Our lives are full of richness and beauty - all in the seemingly mundane daily tread. I hope you take time to savor those moments in between the "major" events of our lives. That is where the real story lies, the real truth of our lives and it's the beauty that you will remember long after the moments are gone.

Stamped blessings,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Best Things....

come in small packages!

At least that's what I've always been told! :)
Do you have a small package headed your way for Mother's Day? I'm not sure if I do, but wouldn't it be awesome if we all did?!! LOL!

My project today is one that I created early in April so it uses the Four Frames Stamp Set and the Paisley Prints DSP - even though you can't get them right now, they will be back in the New Catalog on July 1st.

Here is a photo of the outside of the project:

I started with the Bitty Box Die for the Big Shot and made my box with Pear Pizazz cardstock. Next, before folding it, I ran it through the Big Shot again with the Perfect Polka Dots embossing folder to cute it up a little more!

The top is decorated with a label from the Four Frames stamp set stamped in Pear Pizazz ink. I punched it out with the Decorative Label punch and sponged it with a bit of Crumb Cake ink. I popped it up on Stampin' Dimensionals and then added the double bow made with Marina Mist 5/8" Grosgrain Ribbon. I then tied one of the Vintage Mini Tags around it and added the punched greeting from the You're a Gem stamp set with another dimensional. The little pearl was just the perfect accent.

Now, wanna see what's inside?
It's really cool!!

Here you go:

Ok, this may not be the most original idea in the world, but don't you think the packaging just MAKES it?!!

I made the earrings from the Adornments flowers that were in the Occasions Mini Catalog - I KNOW you have some of those left over! It was easy to simply use hot glue to adhere earring backs purchased from the craft store.

The card they are on is made with the little mini envelope on the Bitty Box Die. I cut it out then adhered a small square of the DSP to the "front" of the envelope. Using my Mat Pack and the guide piece, I punched two holes with my Paper Piercer for the earrings to go through.

The card folds up nicely with the earrings in place, I think I had to trim off just a small edge of one of the flaps so it wouldn't interfere with the earring posts. What's really cool is that when the box is opened, the earring card pops up and stands in place nicely for display.

This project made me giddy when I created it. I hated that I didn't get to share it with my clients last month as planned, but hopefully you will enjoy it and can recreate your own.
I do have PLENTY of the Adornments so maybe I'll make up a bunch and offer them for sale, what do you think? I've never done that before, do you think anyone would buy them?

Anyway, thanks for stopping by today - I hope you loved the project as much as I loved making and sharing it with you!

Stamped blessings,

A Little Help from My "Fools"!

Good morning Stampers!
This post is a bit wordy, but it's a wonderful story and I hope you'll read through and experience it with me again.
It's a cool, but beautiful day here in Virginia - the sun is shining and I've enjoyed a nice walk with Mark and the fuzzy babies this morning. Yes, each day is getting better and I'm feeling brighter. More able to function and get on with things. That is my praise to the Lord today!

I'm also thankful for a very special group of ladies - self described as the "Stampin' Fools". These gals comprise one of my party groups and meet here in the studio once a month to stamp, laugh, eat, laugh, cause trouble and laugh some more. I LOVE these ladies so much! Very special people and I don't think they are at all foolish!

The week of my Dad's funeral was their normal stamping week and I insisted that they come over as usual. A bit selfish on my part - I 'needed' something normal, something to focus on besides my grief and I knew their presence in my home would bring me up like nothing else.
So, knowing that I had to prepare projects for them and a gift for Laura, the hostess, I went into the studio to get started. Problem was, I just couldn't. I sat and stared at my table and just couldn't even think.
Well, about the time I was ready to give up and call them to cancel, my phone rang. It was Georgia Giguere, one of my dear friends on this year's Advisory Board. She was calling to check on me and I'm convinced that God whispered in her ear that I needed a friend just then. I poured out my heart to her and we talked, cried and prayed. She blessed me so much that day and gave me what I needed to simply get on with it. And bless her soul - she even sent me an idea for a project that I turned into the gift for Laura, my hostess.

Here's my finished one:
It's a Mini-Scrapbook Album all folded up in a neat little square! I think the original idea came from the very talented Kim Assaly from Canada, but Georgia was kind enough to send me the directions.
The 'belly-band' slips off to reveal pages that fold in on itself.
Here it is all opened up:

With the left side folded in:

then the right side folded in:

I kept it pretty simple but I did do some sponging on the cardstock and the Designer Paper.
The supplies - Stamp set, designer paper were from the Sneak Peek last month for items coming out in the new Catalog in July. The Four Frames stamp set and Paisley Petals designer paper.
I did wheel across the front with the Friendly Words Jumbo Wheel and the "friend" word is from the You're a Gem stamp set that was in the Occasions Mini.

Well, Laura loved her gift - and that made me so happy! (And you know what? Laura even showed up early that night and brought dinner for my family. How awesome is that?!)

Here are the Stampin' Fools in action in the studio. I'll show you the projects they made later on, ok?
L to R: Debbie, Laura, Betty and April

April again at the end of the table.
Speaking of table - you are getting to see the table that made me do the happy dance on a New York City street! But that's a story for another day!

Here are Pat and Pam. They've been friends for over 30 years!
I just got word yesterday that Pam's Mother died on Monday so if you would include her in your prayers, that would be wonderful! My heart goes out to her.

So, once again, God knew exactly what I needed and sent it just when I needed it most! The relationships I've been blessed with through this simple hobby of stamping are some of the most beautiful ones I have. It's amazing how just a little paper, ink and glitter can bring people together like nothing else. I hope you have been blessed by it too. If not, come join us sometime. Find a local demonstrator or just get together with friends and create from the heart. Laugh together, cry together, just be together.

Love and stamped blessings,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Stamping friends, take a look at this picture.
All of these came in a package in the mail for me today.

What do you see? Cards? Creativity? Cuteness?
Yes, all that and more.

Would you like to know what I see?

I see Kindness, Love, Compassion, Giving, Caring and Beauty.

Stamping friends, I did not make these cards - they are all the cards from a swap that I'd signed up for to highlight the Summer Mini Catalog items.

When my Dad died, I had to drop from both of my swap groups. As you can imagine, I couldn't even think about stamping with all that was going on with my family. Subsequently, I have no samples to show my clients. But that was the last thing on my mind just two weeks ago.

So today, I went out to check the mail and there was a Priority Box in there. From my dear friend Diana Gibbs. She was the host of one of the two swaps I had to drop from and to my utter amazement and surprise, she contacted all the swappers in this group and asked them if she could send me their card anyway.
And they agreed - each and every one of these beautiful ladies. And now look - I have samples! I'm having a hard time writing this post because I am crying from the kindness of these ladies. It may not seem like much to some, but this gift means the world to me. These ladies, most of them strangers to me, mean the world to me today. And once again, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

May God bless each and every one of you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finding Normal

Does anyone know where I can find 'normal'? I seem to have misplaced it in the overwhelming whirlwind of life these past few weeks. Not that my family's version of 'normal' has ever been anything similar to the dictionary definition, but Wow!, when life comes at you, it really barrels in there doesn't it?

Many of you are aware of the circumstances of my life over the past month - the diagnosis of terminal cancer for my Dad and his subsequent death 19 days later - and I truly have no words deep enough to express my gratitude for all the love, encouragement and support you've shown me and my family during this most difficult of times.
You have mailed me cards - some from precious friends and some from new friends that I've never had the joy of meeting face to face. You have sent me e-cards that have helped boost my spirits, you have visited, brought food - lots of food and dessert!, you sent flowers and chocolate, you came to the visitation and Dad's Memorial Service. You've called me, texted me, e-mailed me and let me cry out to you in my heartache and let me share my stories and memories because you knew it would help me heal. Most of all you have prayed for me and for my family and you have stood in the gap for us, interceding on our behalf to the King of Kings who I know has held us close through these days.

I hope you know how very important what you did was for me, for us. If I could reach through this screen right now, I'd give each of you a big hug and tell you face to face how much you mean to me. Please know my heart and accept my sincerest gratitude for yours.

I suspect the days ahead to be different, challenging, interesting. It's still a struggle for me to be in the studio - I find it hard to be creative when my heart is hurting. But I'm trying. Trying to find a new normal. One where I carry my Dad in my heart and not walk with him holding my hand. I feel his presence daily. See him in my daughter, hear him in my head. I draw from his wisdom and remember the lessons his life taught me and pray that I will live a legacy worthy of the beauty of his life.

So, today I will go into the studio and pull out some paper, some ink, perhaps some glitter; and I will create. Not a masterpiece, not by any means, but a simple expression of the love in my heart for my Dad, my family, my friends (you). I am simply grateful and I thank God for you every day.

I do have a card to share with you today - it's one I created last year - yes, I've been holding out on you apparently. :) It's one that I created for my involvement in a special SU! event last July and thought it would be appropriate to share today.
It's "For You".
Wonderful, special, beautiful you!

Thank you friends and God bless you!