Time to Stamp

 

I’ve been dying to stamp.  A new catalog was unveiled in January, but I didn’t order anything till March, which shows amazing restraint on my part (even if I have to say so myself!).  Most of the stuff I ordered is still in the box, which is absolutely shameful, but it’s the way things generally go when it comes to stamping.  There just is not enough time in a day.  Or should I say . . . I just don’t place stamping near enough to the top of my priority list (I recently did an inservice in which I emphasized how we are not victims of our environments – we have lives full of CHOICES – and we have to take responsibility for our choices and stop casting blame. . . . sigh).

Anyway, as mentioned in an earlier post, our church sends care packages to the kids of our church who are away at school (highschool or college) to let them know we’re thinking about them and care for them.  I invariably stamp cards for these packages (we generally send about 18 packages).  Here is the card I made for the March packages.

I send the card through my printer before I cut and embellish the front.  I generally include a Bible Verse and a message to the kids.  People who don’t donate package "stuff" sometimes donate money to put in the cards.  I think this might be one of the kids’ favorite part of the packages!

I wanted to stamp a memorable card for my daughter’s 13th birthday.  I worked on it some, but didn’t end up giving her any card (I’ll tell you about our celebration in a different post, if I get to it).  But I had fun playing and learning.  One new product that was introduced at SU convention last year was the "Big Shot" which is a sizzix product.  We have a very cool "pop-up" card helper (actually several, but I have only played with one).  It’s a cake die-cut.  Here are my attempts at a card.

 

When the card closes, the cake collapses, like this . . .

 

I ran out of time to do another card.  I din’t end up giving her this card because I got annoyed by the fact that the candles didn’t hide (I put 13 candles on the cake).  There are several things I could have done to make this card work, and I haven’t discarded it, I just haven’t gotten to it yet.  Here is what happened:

(this is the view from the back)

 

We did other birthday stamping, but I forgot to take pictures.  The girls (my daughter and her friend) made "name frames" where they stamped and embellished their names to put in a frame.  I’ll have to find an example to show.  They had lots of fun and they did a great job!

Another new product we got that I LOVE is a cuttle-bug-like folder that matches one of my favorite stamp sets.  I gave the card to a friend without taking a photo of it – but I’ll be making more because they are SIMPLE and quick – which is the best kind of stamping!  I love that I have the opportunity to create as an outlet.  I will make more time in my weeks for stamping – it helps me maintain balance and is an opportunity to share too.

 

Basket Fun

 

Once a year a women’s group at our church gets together for an exchange of sorts.  Everyone brings a basket and 12 items (preferably home-made, but not necessarily so).  We put all our items out, then go through and pick 12 miscellaneous items to put in our baskets.  Basket liners and bows are provided for decorating the baskets.  Then we get to take our basket and give it to whomever we please.  I love this idea – because there might be people who could use a little bit of cheer, and they might not ordinarily be in a specifically identified group of people (homeless, needy, poor, etc.) 

This year the organization of the event was a bit sketchy because our fearless leader was transferred out of state (or her husband was, and she followed).  But there were enough of us interested that we pulled it together sort of at the last minute.

Here are the things my daughter and I made:

 

 

You might remember this biscotti recipe from here.  I just cut the pieces a bit smaller for this event.

 

 

 

 

The English Toffee Cookies come together very easily too.   Here’s the recipe:

1 cup Butter                   2 cup Flour

1 cup Sugar                   1/2 cup chopped Nuts

1 egg (separated)          1 tsp Vanilla

Cream butter & sugar together.  Beat in egg yolk and vanilla.  Add flour.  Spread thinly over a cookie sheet (14 x 17") to 1/8" thick.  Spread egg white evently over mixture.  Sprinkle with nuts and press lightly.  Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes (until slightly brown).  But while hot into diamond (or desired) shape.

 

We have a friend who has had a rough week – too much going on at work and the death of a close family friend.  She was not around to get the announcment about the baskets but I knew she’d probably enjoy participating, so at the last minute I decided to pull something together for her to take as well. I have boxes FULL of card-makings.  These are cut and colated pieces for stamped cards that I usually offer at classes.  But I always over-prepare in case extra people show up.  After the class is over, these little card makings just sit around and rot.  So I dug out a bunch of them and created them in a hurry.  Enough so we could have three cards per basket (12 items x 3 cards each = 36 cards).  They weren’t all the same.  It was just a hodge-podge of stuff, but they came together well.  Here are the cards I found/made:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They were originally designed for total non-stampers to create, so they are the simplest stamping ever. . . but that’s what makes them quick, right?  We had varying numbers of each card, so the 3 packs were quite varied.

 

 

 

 

 

Putting the baskets together didn’t take very much time at all.  Here is the basket I ended up with.

 

 

My daughter’s basket was dropped off even before we got home.  She wanted to give hers to her teacher.  I’m not sure which neighbor we’ll give mine to.  We’ll probably take it to the corner neighbor (don’t think you’ve seen their house in a picture yet).  If they’re not home, we’ll take it to a down-the-street neighbor who lives alone (we won’t leave the basket on the doorstep of the first neighbors because we never know when they’ll be in – and they have a PACK of dogs who would tear it up before anyone could see it).  It would be fun to have a whole bunch of baskets to hand out.  Maybe next year, right!?

Stamping Days

 

Seems like I’m a stamping fool these days.  Not that I have more time or anything – just a higher need for stamped stuff around holidays, I suppose.  And I’ve signed up for some stamping – just so I’d have an excuse to do something I love, and in some cases get paid for it.  I’ll share a few of my recent projects:

 

October was Pastor Appreciation month.  We generally do something for the entire family.  This year we got the kids each a gift card.  Here is the card I made to hold the gift card.

This is just a little card – can’t remember the exact dimensions, but something like 3" wide and 4" tall.  It’s made from a single strip of cardstock, so when you open it, it looks like this:

I totally copied this idea from Amy.  She’s got way more time on her stamping hands than I do on mine – so it’s a fair trade :-)   The card (or money, in this case) slides in a little slot created with a word-window punch, and the bit of folded up card is kept in place with brads.  Very convenient.

Of course, the pastor has 5 kids, so this is what I ended up with:

That was a midnight project.  Luckily they didn’t take too much thought or time.  The fronts of them are decorated with Designer Series paper and ribbon – only one little stamped image.  And another on the inside.  As an afterthought.

 

Another project that had to be mass-produced was a batch of cards for Prince Farming and his brother to send to people who send them referrals.  I also copied this one – but not as shamefully.  I don’t remember where the original idea came from, but I think I changed it enough to call it mostly mine.  Nothing I stamp is ever my own original idea though.  Just for the record.

Here’s the card front:

The inside goes like this:

I printed the cards on my printer – except for that little "thank you" – it’s totally and completely hand stamped.  Thank you very much.

And of course, the pile shot:

I used another set of Designer Series paper for the card fronts.  And the fold-down part is punched with a spiral punch – to make it look like it was torn out of a notebook.  Sort of.  The window for the "thank you" was punched with small and large oval punches.  And the little tab thing on the white card was punched with the "round tab" punch.  Lots of punching, a bit of gluing.  And voila.  Done.  I had a friend help me with most of the process – stamping is always better with friends.  Thanks Rhylma!

 

The next project is not stamped.  Not at all.  And it went together in like 5 minutes flat.  The original idea was shown at St*mpin’Up! Convention in July.  Then my friend Louise posted a copy on her blog.  And so I jumped on the band wagon and made one too.  Very fun.  And seasonal.

Excuse the flash on the glass-  couldn’t figure out how to get a decent picture without the camera and ceiling reflecting in the glass – the flash was a better alternative.  This was created with a shadow box, miscellaneous fall findings (fake) and a vinyl "rub-on" otherwise known as "Decor Elements" created for Home-Decor purposes.  Way fun.  Now I need to create something similar for the other seasons so I can create a corner just for seasonal decor.  Fun.

 

My next stamping will show the cards we’re making at my "stamp-a-stack" next Monday evening. (For the record, when I last blogged about this event, I thought it was coming up imminently – as in tomorrow night.  Part way through the week I realized that I had an extra week to work with.  There is absolutely NOTHING like the gift of time – it’s a wonderful thing.)  And of course I need to design and stamp our Christmas Cards for the year.  AND I’ve signed up for the "Very Vintage Christmas Swap" over at Foxgloves, Fabric, and Folly.  So there’ll definitely be some stamping happening there.  I’m excited about that opportunity.

 

Here’s wishing a happy week to everyone.  Thanks for stopping by.

 

Stamping Fool

 

Actually, this is what I WANT to be – a stamping fool.  Nothing to do but stamp.  Wouldn’t life be grand?  My stamp room would be all orderly and neat.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  All adequately stocked and readily available.  And I could just create.  And create.  And create. 

The flaw in that little scenario is that the ability to create, like the ability to keep blogging, requires inspiration.  (and time).  Inspiration comes in the form of "life."  And if your life is stamping, the inspiration would no doubt dwindle.  At least it would for me.  So for now, I can just dream about a stamping life.  And in the crazy rush of the rest of my life, I can take some time to do some stamping.  It’s like a little oasis of therapy.  I LOVE it.

My friend Amber came to visit me last week.  It’s so much fun to stamp with fellow-stampers.  And Amber can inspire me (there are others who can too – they just don’t come over and visit. . . . Louise, Amy, . . . . etc.)  I have a list of stamping that I actually need to accomplish.  I got a great start on that when Amber was here.

I forgot to point out the stamping that occurred in preparation for the barn party.  Did you notice?  I stamped some invitations.  You can check that out here.  And then of course because I had so much help with that event, I stamped some thank you cards.  My newest toy tool is the "Big Shot"  It is a die-cutting machine.  One day I’ll do an entry on the "tools of stamping".  I actually need to do a little confession here.  Or two.  I purchased this "Big Shot" at convention in July.  And I’ve watched tutorials on how to use it.  But Amber had to come and do a little demonstration to get me going.  That, and inspiration, and time.  Okay.  That’s my first confession.  My next confession is worser.  I am using a non-St*mpinUp product with my Big Shot.  Ummm.  And I really like it.  It’s a C*ttlebug folder that embosses designs onto otherwise regular paper.  It used to really annoy me when I saw other people who claimed to be loyal company followers using these embossing folders.  And now I’ve gone and crossed over to their side.  I still have pangs of guilt over it, but that’s just until I see how fabulously cool it all goes together.  In my dream I imagine my company collaborating with their company and creating the ultimate – complimentary embossing folders.  That would be amazing.  But until then, I’ll just have to cheat a little (but do we HAVE to use that word?!!)

So here’s the thank you card I created.  It’s my first embossing folder creation:

 

My next project was to create invitations to Prince Farming’s Office Christmas party.  It’s a fairly formal affair, no kids and fully catered.  Over the years the invitations have varied in stamping-ness.  You’ll notice that this invitation has absolutely NO ink or stamped image.  It is a complete departure for me, but i loved the process.  I used a different embossing folder and the Big Shot with die-cut thingys for the bird (wings on both sides, thank you) and the word "peace"  I pre-printed the inside invite stuff to make it all "official" like.  Whatever.

 

While in the stamp room I just got on a roll.  Amber left.  But there was still inspiration left in me.  So I got a new "victim" who is perfectly enthusiastic.  Together, we created these little gifts – again, not a stamp in sight – for the kids in our church who are away at school (academy and college).

You can’t just make one.  You have to make a FLOCK of them (we have about 17 kids away from home).  Aren’t they cute?

 

Our church puts together packages to send to these kids – potluck style.  Everyone brings whatever they think of and we put it all in shoeboxes and wrap them up and address them.  Those kids have to know we love them!  It’s tradition to have a stamped card in there too.  Some people donate money to put in the card.  I had to rush through this job because of. . . life.  So these were done right before we put the packages together.

Here is the whole batch. . .

 

Next on my list. . . 50 cards for business referrals (for Prince Farming & his brother), and Christmas cards.  Haven’t done those in a few years (don’t act so shocked).  And a few gifts.  And the endless quest to a clear and organized stamp room.

Gasp!! A Card

 

Stop it – I told you I was going to post some stamping.  Here’s a card I made for Prince Farming for our Anniversary – way back when I started blogging (okay,  not THAT far back – it was July of this year). 

This card is a departure from the norm because a) it’s fairly plain and simple, b) there’s no paper involved and c) there’s only one layer and NO ribbon.  I also don’t normally use metal hinges to create the spine of a card. It is within acceptable norms, because a) I used stamps and ink;  b) There is one layer;  c) it is embellished (hardware); and d) it is embossed (a process through which color crystals, adhered to a surface with embossing ink, are heated / melted, giving a "raised" impression of the stamped image).

This card was copied "verbatim" (as far as my memory serves) from a card I saw demonstrated by Brent Steele on the Stampin’Up! Bermuda cruise (April ’08).  So it also meets my normal criteria because it is "cased" (copied and shared) as are all of my creative endeavors. 

Cutting the sheet metal was a bit of a stretch because I was trying to keep it a surprise for Prince Farming, and I couldn’t find the right tool (it was way down in the shed – HE knew where it was, but I couldn’t find it in any of the tool boxes here at the house).  I ended up heating it up (with my heat-gun) and then trying to snip through it with something he brought home from the hospital (why they need industrial-looking snips, I’m not sure.  They definitely WEREN’T suited to what I was cutting, but they did work).  Then I had to file the edges so no fingers got sliced.   And I used a "Crop-a-dile" to make the holes for the hinges/brads and to make the "shot marks" through the road sign (that’s what signs look like around here – why do people shoot signs?).  I also distressed it with my little pliers – just for effect (and to copy Brent’s card).

I think this card was a good choice for my first real "card" share because I’m feeling rather manly with all the farm work I’ve been doing for the past week.  Hay is almost done (just needs to be hauled to the barn).  My life is going to settle down a bit now that it’s done.  Besides, my kids are leaving for Outdoor School for a week.  My plan is to dig out my stamp room.  If that happens, I’ll show you before/after shots next week. 

Happy Stamping Sunday!

Wanna Stamp

 Attending Stampin’Up! convention is always a great time for me.  I love to see people I haven’t seen in a while, and reconnect with ones (in person) that I generally speak to (or interact with in some way) during the year.  I also love to see the new stamps and accessories.  They lend themselves to a huge "blank slate" of Imagine what I can do with that!  Actually, who am I kidding.  It actually lends itself to Wow – I can’t wait to see what people come up with using that so I can copy them.  But anyway – it is fresh.  And fun.  And I always leave wishing I could stamp more.  And because stamping was a bit of a business for me, there’s always that possibility of putting the whole machine in gear and letting it work for me.  I’ve managed to studiously avoid that for several years now – and it’s proving hard to get back into it.  At convention 2007 I decided I was going to spend more time stamping.  Just for fun.  And when I got to convention 2008, I realized that stamping just hadn’t happened (other than 1 set of wedding invitations, 1 set of anniversary announcements, 1 set of baby announcements, and 2 sets of cards for gifts).  It’s not okay for a stamper to be able to make a list like that.  a) there’s very little creativity in that (lots of repetitive stamping) and b) when you can remember everything you’ve stamped, you haven’t stamped enough.  Not to mention the square footage in our house dedicated to stamping is completely being wasted under a pile of boxes.

With my new blog thing, Amy decided I could have a stamping page.  So simple.  It’s a no-brainer.  You blog.  You stamp.  You put the two together.  So here I am, letting you know, that in the very near future, I will, I might, I would like to, I have decided to, I think I’ll add a page to the blog dedicated to the enjoyment of stamping – mine and yours.  This will require an overhaul of some space.  But I’ll start small.  And my commitment is to fly-lady my stamp room.  Whatever it takes.

In the mean time, my farmchik life continues.  This week is corn week.  You’ll LOVE that post.  Thursday has been slated "corn day" for our family.  Last year I missed corn day because of stamp convention.  This year they kindly waited for my return by NOT picking the corn from the field.  Prince Farming’s dad said we could have the garden corn – it was planted later than the field, so it will be ready later.  Drat.

Home Office

Stampin’Up! is an amazing company.  The vision, mission, and implementation of their ideas is totally inspiring.  While at convention, demonstrators had the opportunity to visit the home office.  This is a fairly new building that includes the corporate office and distribution center.  Walking in to the building is breath-taking.  Shelly has brought the outside in with the atrium garden and water feature.

This is taken from the top floor, looking down three stories.  The natural light is gorgeous, and the sound of running water is relaxing.  I would love to work in this building.  It seems like everyone who works here totally loves it.

Stampin’Up! really made us feel welcome by decorating with the convention theme banners – not only at the convention center and at the home office, but also through-out Salt Lake City (outside on the electrical poles and columns etc. around the Salt Palace).

Of course anywhere you have something stamping-related with a group of Stampin’Up! demonstrators, there will be a line.  Here we go again. . . this time waiting to get in to the Legacy Museum.

The Legacy Museum is an area where there are pictures and flash-backs from years past in Stampin’Up! life.  It’s amazing to see the difference between old Stampin’Up! catalogs and the current ones.  The art work and ideas have developed and become trend-setting (vs. trend-following).  There are amazing stamped art and home-decor ideas in the museum as well.  Each time I’ve visited the museum there have been different ideas that have been updated.  They can come and practice decorating in my home any time.  I’ll have to post some pictures of the home-decor ideas in another post.

This is one of the Demonstrator Services cubicles.  We got to walk through the call center to get a feel for the work environment.  I’m amazed at the positive attitude that Stampin’Up! staff consistently exhibits.  I know that working in the home office is a great opportunity – and people who work there totally know how blessed they are (based on what they say and how they interact with the demonstrators.) 

We got a birds-eye glimpse of the distribution center.  This is a state-of-the-art facility that is totally mechanized.  One of the things we learned at convention is that compared to 10 years ago, Stampin’Up! ships 100,000 more orders per day (during peak Sale-A-Bration promotion) with 40 fewer staff.  That’s just amazing!  The work environment in here is also great.  There is natural light (sky-lights) and music piped in.  It is amazing to see the whole thing work. Order accuracy is incredible, because after an order is entered (by a demonstrator), the system knows exactly how much that order will weigh, so when the order is completely picked the box will go over a scale to check for accuracy. 

 

Convention – the Experience

People attend convention for all sorts of reasons.  Motivation, Training, Rewards & recognition, New ideas, Networking, Swapping, Screaming, well – really all sorts of reasons.  Here are a few pictures to give you a small glimpse of the convention experience.

  SWAPPING – some crazy people spend many hours (it seems mostly midnight hours) stamping multiples of cards – like hundreds of them.  Then they lug them (or truck them) to convention and spend hours hauling them around the venue and swapping – that way they can go home with hundreds of different ideas in exchange for their one or two ideas.  It’s a great way to build a sample library.  Swaps make people need stamp sets they might never have even noticed before.  Accessories, color combinations, and other creative ideas are shared through swapping as well.

LINES (aka queues) I think I mentioned lines before.  Mostly the lines don’t move very quickly, which works in favor of swappers, because then they get to "do their thing."  Sometimes the swapping is what makes the lines take longer than what they really need to.  But it’s all part of the convention (or stamping) experience.  While people are swapping, they meet new friends and find old friends, and put names with faces they’ve only "met" on the computer in online stamp groups.  It’s a great way to "stop and smell the roses."

Sometimes all the stuff you get at convention along with the different swaps you get become a bit unwieldy.  So you have to find a little corner to reorganize and consolidate.  This is one of my room-mates (Valerie) who had a few too many bags and decided to take a little breather to make it all work together.

But after you reorganize and consolidate everything, the bags get so bloody heavy that some significant intervention is needed.  Luckily the convention planners anticipate this dilemma, so they contract with some very special people to do this:

This is another of my room mates (and a part of my Stampin’Up! team), Amber.  I wanted to take a picture of her face, but she was drooling, and I didn’t want to embarrass her (oops!!).  The only problem with this little service, is that their follow-up is lousy.  No one prevents the need for future massages by carrying the absolute BRICK of a bag that caused the severe back-ache to begin with.

Of course, after all this swapping, and standing in lines, and reorganizing, and it’s time to sit down. . . with old friends and new. There are tons of restaurants within walking distance of the Salt Palace that are really great.   Here we are at Macaroni Grill. 

From left to right:  Bonnie Towles (my friend and travel-mate from Jellico), Me, Sue (brilliant stamper who is the future-winner of "Artisan’s Award" and her friend Caroline; Valerie (my room-mate) and Amy (room-mate and bag with a bag); then Amanda (up-beat, glass is always full creative chick) and her two team-mates (can’t remember their names – way cool though. . . one owns/runs a sports bar in the Tampa area – something to do with "cop shop" or the likes)

Bags. And Bags.

 Salt Lake City – HERE I AM!! (will insert picture later).  It’s HOT but not as humid as home.  There are 5,600 crazy people registered to be at this convention, at least 75% of them were at the Salt Palace, standing in line before 8:30am.  They are INSANE (I can say that, because I was there to see them standing in line). 

The attraction?  Getting the new (and can I add totally cool, amazing, and stylish) convention bag (shoulder bag – not the normal backpack) with the . . . .<<<drum roll>>>> new Stampin’Up! Idea Book & Catalog.  Not to mention the three new stamp sets (one awesome, one good, and one okay). 

That was ONE line.  THEN there were people in another line to buy STUFF (these people know how to market: Supply/demand – limited edition – can only purchase these here and now etc).  In the past "Momento Mall" has run out of some supplies, which makes those things even more desireable to everyone else (actually – more desireable to the people who got to buy them too).  Last year (I think) they ran out of . . . don’t know what they were . . . maybe rings with ribbon samples on them? . . . And I didn’t get any.  I’ll bet there are 60 bazilion of those rings lying in people’s stamp rooms collecting dust.  They’re totally useless now because all that ribbon is probably retired already.  And so it goes, year after year.  But this year they have a very practical (and cute, organizational <<read "essential">>) project tote with pockets for cards, scissors, ink pads, and every other conceivable supply you’ll need for a stamping project.  And it’s CUTE.  And PRACTICAL.  And everyone NEEDS one.  NOW.  Those twenty old junky bags from previous conventions, leadership events, and manager’s retreats are totally useless and impractical.  Don’t you agree that everyone NEEDS one of these?

It comes with a very cute camera bag – of course my camera won’t fit in there – but Prince Farming’s probably will.  Or maybe I"ll need a new camera?  Oh – the possibilities. . .

Of course I couldn’t buy just ONE because what would happen if they RUN OUT??!?!?!? Oh, NO!!!

That’s because I’m such a good friend (read "sucker").  See, Louise will definitely need one.  As will Amber.  And we don’t want them to be disappointed now, do we?

Not sure what it is about girls and bags.  As if a convention bag and a tote aren’t enough, the prize for being in the top 100 consultants in the company ("Founder’s Circle") is. . . <<<<drum roll again>>>>……

A VERY desireable and amazingly incredible PINK LEATHER BAG.  And my client patient friend techno-geek resource person Amy was the proud (and emotional) recipient of one of these very limited edition specimens.  CONGRATULATIONS AMY! 

So the Bag got a bag.  yadda yadda yadda.  Unfortunately, along with the bag, she gets an all-expenses trip for a week to a spa in Utah somewhere.  And since she HATES to be touched (no touchy) – I’ll have to take her place.  Someone’s got to do it.  And she owes me for her amazing success.  She couldn’t have done it without me.  It’s my wisdom, coaching, persuasive cheerleading that has talked her off the ledge on multiple occassions to get her that stupid bag.  So the trip is MINE I tell you.  SHE OWES ME. (We’ll just forget about that minor detail of her taking me on two Stampin’ cruises in the past.  I don’t remember Mexico OR Bermuda.)

I’ll let you know how that turns out.  In the mean time, Amy wins as most stylish bag lady.

Stamping Week

In honor of my upcoming trip to Stampin’Up! convention in Salt Lake City, I’ve decided to do some stamping posts.  This is what my blog was originally intended for (according to Amy).  Whatever.  I just don’t have time to stamp like she does.  She apparently has NO LIFE.

Here are a couple of thiings I have prepared for convention.  First, I made books with some new Designer Series paper (Bella Rose).  I attached the paper to chip board for the covers.

I personalized most of the books with my friends’ names (the front one is a spare one). This will be a book where they can record their convention experience in terms of goals for the new year (Stampin’Up year starts in August).  Inside the books I used the new "In Colors" to make section dividers for different goal categories.

If I have time, I’ll stamp some cards to trade (swap).  In my stash of cards, I have several of these which I’ll give to members in my team (maybe – if I get them written in.  Could I be a bigger loser?)

I love these little die-cut cards.  Very cute.  And fresh.  And easy.

I’ll report from Salt Lake.  If I can make it.  There is SO MUCH to do before I even can think about leaving.

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