February 29, 2020


In preparing for my February Stamp-In Workshop, since it was scheduled for February 10, I had created a Valentine-flavored project for my girls to make. However, the week prior to that, I ended up spending a night in the hospital. The experts at the hospital decided that I wouldn't be up to holding the workshop on the 10th, and advised me to push it back a week, until the 17th.

Well, the 17th is AFTER Valentine's Day, so I would look a little foolish having them do a Valentine. So, at the last minute, once I felt up to it, I needed to come up with another project to replace it. I was lucky that my muse was on the job that day, when I needed her so desperately. Because, between the two of us, we came up with a really good project. And ONE THAT USES UP SCRAPS! Yay.

The card uses leftover scraps of Designer Series Paper I had on hand. I created a card in all black and white so that whatever DSP the girls chose, it would work well with the rest of the card. They were given my box of DSP scraps and told to come up with their own combo, whether they were all the same, complementary colors, whatever they choose -- to make it their own. 

Notice the black dots surrounding the DSP circles? It is from a very old Paper Pumpkin kit. 

At this point, I'd like to talk a bit about the exclusive stamp sets that arrive in each and every Paper Pumpkin kit. Once you are finished with your kit, don't just forget about those awesome stamps!!

I have something of a system to ensure that I do get use out of the stamps that come with the Paper Pumpkin kits. 

The first thing I do is I stamp the images, one by one, onto white cardstock, always in a blue ink. I have one section in a binder that is for images and another for words and/or sentiments. 

I remove all the stamps from their little acetate carriers and stamp each one in its proper place. I draw a box around the set of stamps I'd just stamped so I know that they all belong to the same set. After replacing the stamps, I then slip it into plastic sleeves that I have in another set of binders. 

When I want something a little different, it is easy to leaf quickly through the pages in my binder that contain the pictures of the images or sentiments, depending on what I need. And, even though I've been a subscriber to Paper Pumpkin almost from the start (seven years next month!) and I have A LOT of the stamps, it takes little time to flip through the plastic pages to locate the stamp I need.

After I'd finished my sample card, I realized a little boo boo that forced me to warn the girls that, if they decide to use a design with hearts on it, to have it face the right side up on their card. Unless, of course, you want your hearts to be upside down. Oh well. I like it anyway.

I'd like to share the tutorial I had on hand for my girls when the Stamp-In finally arrived on the 17th.

Whisper White cardstock
Basic Black cardstock
Designer Series Paper selection

Black ink

Dotted Circles (Paper Pumpkin kit)
Everything Is Rosy (it is on the CLEARANCE RACK right now!)

Ornate Frames Dies (Item #150664)
Stylish Scroll Embossing Folder (Item #150665)
1 3/8" Circle Punch
Stampin' Dimensionals
Big Shot

Fold a 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" piece of Whisper White cardstock in half, creasing it well with a bone folder.

Run a 4" x 5 1/4" piece of Whisper White cardstock through the Big Shot inside the Stylish Scroll embossing folder. Adhere this to the card base.

Using the dotted circle stamp from Paper Pumpkin, stamp in black the circles onto a 2" x 5 1/4" strip of Whisper White cardstock, staggering the circles, making sure they nearly touch each other, but not quite. Fill in any white spaces along the edges with portions of more stamped circles.

From the scraps of Designer Series Papers, choose a combination of designs/colors so you have five -- either the same, similar or totally different. (PLEASE NOTE: If you choose a DSP with hearts on it, be sure to mount it on your card facing the correct direction. Experience is the best teacher.) Using the 1 3/8" Circle Punch, punch out five circles from your chosen DSP. In a pleasing manner, adhere the circles inside the stamped dotty circles. If any extend beyond the edge, trim them off flush with the edges.

Once finished adding the DSP circles, adhere this strip to a 2 1/4" x 5 1/4" piece of black cardstock.

Attach this strip to the embossed piece about 1/2" - 3/4" from the left embossed edge.

On a scrap of Whisper White cardstock, stamp the sentiment in black ink.

From black cardstock, use the appropriate die to cut out a frilly frame. Using the circle die that measures 1 3/4", cut out the sentiment. Adhere the sentiment to the frilly frame.

With a few Stampin' Dimensionals, add the sentiment to the card front.


February 25, 2020


I love gatefold cards -- making them and the looks of them. Somehow they are just a little more fun than the traditional card hinged on the left or the top. 

But they are horrendous to photograph! Especially if the photographer has only two hands. Which I do.

You see, without being held, they pop open. So it's impossible for me to capture what the card looks like completely closed. Unless, of course, I use adhesive on it to temporarily close it. Which I didn't.

My illustrator daughter, Emily Balsley, had a birthday coming up. Because she consistently produces such extraordinary work, I always take great pains with her birthday card, hoping to impress her with my work, for a change. I don't think this was one of my great successes for her. But I still like how it turned out -- as far as a birthday card goes.

To make a gatefold card that ends up being 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" to fit inside an A2 envelope, start with a 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" piece of cardstock. Using the Simply Scored (page 189 in the Annual Catalog), score at 2 1/8", flip it 180 degrees, and score at 2 1/8" again. When folded on the score lines, the two flaps should meet nicely in the middle.

Often when I make a gatefold card, I put something on each gatefold. For example, in this card, the focal point is on the tag adhered to the left gate, while the sentiment on the punched label is adhered to the right hand gate. When doing this, it is so important to be cognizant of where you are applying your adhesive. It can only be added to the side that will not move freely. So, pay close attention!

One other thing, I usually add panels to each gate, and, like in this card, they are almost always embossed pieces. 

The cute cupcake is a stamp from a past Sale-A-Bration set. At the time it was released, I loved the scribbly look of the cupcake parts. I still do. That's why I thought it would be cute for my card.

To give lots of variety, the cupcake is actually made up of several stamps: the cupcake paper and shadow, the cake part (which I, of course, made chocolate!), the swirly frosting, the sprinkles, and finally, the cute heart topper. 

Since the set is photopolymer, it is easy to line up the various components. 

The tag on which the cupcake is stamped is one of the dies from the Bonanza Buddies Bundle on page 34 of the current Mini Catalog. That tag is the best -- I will be grabbing that die many many times in the years to come.

The cute punch I used for the sentiment at the bottom of the card is the Label Me Fancy Punch on page 41 of the Mini Catalog. Another product I will be getting a lot of use out of!

We were fortunate enough to be able to spend a portion of her birthday with Emily and her family. 


February 22, 2020


Another of the really cool free items you can earn during Sale-A-Bration time is the Golden Honey Specialty Designer Series Paper, found on page 10 of the Sale-A-Bration brochure. To fully appreciate this paper, you really do need to view -- and touch! -- it in person. One side is a black and white design, while the flip sides all feature gold foiling. Par excellence!

For my January Stamp-In Workshop, I wanted to use a bit of one of these sheets in a projects for my girls to make. A few years ago, Stampin' Up! had a hexagon embossing folder in its line that works so well with the snippet of DSP that I chose for my card. 

The photos I took of this card are all fairly, well, not great. I took many photos, and these are the best I could do. I apologize. The card in person is quite exquisite and a diminutive 3 3/4" square in size. Although the photos imply that the neutral color used in the card is Whisper White, it is, in fact, Very Vanilla. 

The central circle on which the bee is embossed in a glittery gold embossing powder is actually raised from the DSP with Stampin' Dimensionals, although that is hard to decipher in the photos.

A closeup of the bee focal point:

Peeking out from underneath the black circle is a swatch 
of a Very Vanilla/Gold ribbon from a previous Sale-A-Bration. 
It ties everything together beautifully.

Read on to find out how to recreate a card similar to this.

Very Vanilla cardstock
Basic Black cardstock
Golden Honey Specialty Designer Series Paper (page 10, Sale-a-Bration Brochure)

Retired bee stamp, but there is a current bee stamp set that would work so well: Honey Bee on page 30 of the Mini Catalog. It also comes as a bundle!)

VersaMark ink

Big Shot
Stitched Shapes Dies (page 196, Annual Catalog)
Hexagon embossing folder
Embossing Buddy
Heat Tool
Gold Glitter embossing powder
Very Vanilla/Gold ribbon
Stampin' Dimensionals

Fold a piece of Very Vanilla cardstock that measures 3 3/4" x 7 1/2" in half, creasing it well with a bone folder

Run a 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" piece of Very Vanilla cardstock through the Big Shot inside the hexagon embossing folder. Adhere this embossed piece to the card base.

Use the largest of the oval dies from the Stitched Shapes dies to cut an oval from the honeycomb paper from the Golden Honey Specialty Designer Series Paper.

Rub the Embossing Buddy well over a 2" square of black cardstock. In VersaMark ink, stamp the honeybee image. At the Heat Station, add sparkling gold embossing powder to the stamped image, brushing off any stray powder particles. Heat to emboss.

With the circle die from the Stitched Shapes dies set that measures about 1 7/8", cut out the bee shape.

Cut a 3" length of the Very Vanilla/Gold ribbon. Fold it in half, trimming the ends to points, and add this to the back of the bee circle so the ends of the ribbon extend about 3/4" - 1" below the circle. 

With Stampin' Dimensionals, add the circle piece to the oval DSP.

Use Stampin' Dimensionals to add the finished piece to the card base.


February 18, 2020


Have you spent any time experimenting with the characteristics of vellum? A fascinating medium for paper crafting, it can be tricky and frustrating to work with.

A loooong time ago, I purchased a stash of colored vellum. I had it carefully tucked away, taking out a piece now and then to use on some project or another.

The other day I had something of a lightbulb moment, and decided to give it a try. 

I had this vellum in a plethora of colors and hues but chose a fairly neutral palette for my project. I knew in my head that I wanted to tear these pieces, stack them and use them in a card. But, I wasn't really certain how to proceed.

It took a little figuring with scrap paper that I was to start with one full size piece of vellum with no tearing. Please note the lightest color, the top layer. That is a full sheet measuring 5 1/4" x 4". My first tear came in the second piece from the top, the mustard-y color. It is the full length minus the small portion I tore off.

I continued down the card, tearing off a little more with each layer, until the final layer, which is only as tall as you see in the card.

The way the first mustard piece tore thrilled me. I was hoping for an atmospheric perspective look, as in this link., especially the large image on the right. However, after that first piece, the vellum didn't cooperate quite so nicely, and the tears were almost perfectly straight across. Nice and neat, but not quite the look I was hoping for. Maybe if I was creating paint chip samples?

But I do still like how the card turned out:

So, once I added this stack of torn vellum to my card base, I was able to see all the Glue Dots I'd used. I knew this was going to be a problem, but wasn't quite sure how I was going to alleviate the nasty situation. 

The Stitched Rectangles dies on page 196 of the Annual Catalog came to my rescue and saved the day!

I cut a piece of Very Vanilla cardstock to the size of the card front, 4 1/4" x 5 1/2". Then, using one of the larger rectangle dies, I die cut a neat frame -- and got beautiful stitching besides doing the trick!

I then adhered this beautiful frame right over the garish Glue Dots, and voila! 

To finish off the larger area at the bottom of the vellum layers, I die cut the word "laugh" from Very Vanilla cardstock, and added it.

This card is going to be used as an inspirational piece in my home, a reminder to try not to take life quite so seriously all the time. Laugh. Nature's best medicine.



February 15, 2020

#dailycreating SEPTEMBER 2019

Huh. I looked back and discovered that it's been six weeks since I shared a month of my drawings from #dailycreating. The last month I showed you was August, so now I will move ahead a month and give you a peek at what I'd been doing in September. 

I am part of Terry Runyan's Facebook group #dailycreating. As a member of this wonderful and supportive group, we are given a list of optional prompts a week at a time. The prompts are announced on Sundays for the following week, and I must admit I am always chomping at the bit to see what the new list of prompts has in store.

The daily prompts are completely optional. It is just a place to start from for the day's drawing. Because I am always stumped as to what to draw, I stick to the prompts faithfully.

I find it interesting to page through my sketchbook to look at one single month's drawings. Obviously I wasn't in a great drawing mood in September, because I found slim pickin's for drawings that I like enough to share with you. I only came up with nine (from 30 prompts!). Not great. 

Apparently it was quite a chicken month since three of the nine I chose are of chicken faces. At our county fair in late July I took 70-something photos of chickens' faces. They simply fascinate me. So, here you will see three of my chicken renderings.

As always, I will add the day's prompt above each of the drawings, as well as any further information I may have on the subject matter.

Here we go:



Pembroke Welsh Corgi


#thewitches (by Roald Dahl)
Angelica Huston as Grand High Witch, 1990


Bad planning on the page



I know I've mentioned it in previous posts, but some of you may be confused about a couple of my prompts. Terry has designated Wednesdays as Thing on Thing day. She usually draws a cat on someone's head. There is often an alternate prompt for Wednesday also. Since I had so many chicken photos, I announced to the group that, for awhile, I would be drawing chickens on Wednesday. 

Then we have #dogurday. In another cute turn of events, Terry calls Saturdays "Caturday". Since some of the group members are not fans of <adorable> cats, she also added the option of "Dogurday". Often there is also another prompt for Saturdays too. I almost always choose to draw a realistic portrait of a dog for #dogurday. 

So, there you have September 2019. Not a great showing I'm afraid. Sometimes the prompts don't really speak to me, and I found that this September was like that. Following the prompts though obligates me to, well, follow the prompt. So that often takes me way out of my comfort zone. For example, the day the prompt was Star Trek. Whoa. I won't bore you of my rendition of that prompt. 

The Small Print: Please recognize that these are my personal original drawings (often using a reference photo), and are not to be copied in any way, shape or form without my express permission. 

I am in the process of getting several of my drawings ready to be made into prints. If there are any in particular that you would like to see reproduced as a Giclee print, please let me know!

I'm off to draw #sports. Gulp.


February 11, 2020


My husband and I have two grandchildren: Stella, who turned 12 right after Christmas, and Enzo, who became a three-year-old on Sunday. 

Well, everyone knows how very special it is to turn THREE! I wanted Enzo's birthday card to be super cool for this momentous occasion.

When the Mini Catalog went live last month, and I discovered the Bonanza Buddies Bundle on pages 32-34, I knew I had found the perfect set for Enzo's upcoming birthday.

It did take me an entire afternoon -- with all the trials and errors -- to create his card, but I finally came up with:

The characters in this bundle -- there is also an adorable toucan -- 
are so friendly and just plain WONderful.

Combining the stamps and the dies gives you 
a plethora of ways you can put these guys together. 

When all is said and done, the lion is actually SIX pieces: 
his body, his mane, his head, the tip of his tail, his party hat, 
and the poof on top of the party hat. 
You will notice that I didn't stamp the hat first, 
but simply die cut it from some celebratory Designer Series Paper 
with the included die.

Mr. Koala has a few less pieces, just three of them. 
Once again, I just die cut the hat from more happy DSP.

The card doesn't have just too much dimension, 
just a few Stampin' Dimensionals here and there, 
and then, of course, the bit of ribbon.

The cute banners, as well as the stitched tag upon which the animals rest, 
are also dies in the bundle. 
That tag! I will be using it LOTS!

The inside of the card features stamped balloons, 
which were then die cut. Before I adhered the balloons, 
I stamped the strings for the balloons in Smoky Slate 
and plopped the cute sentiment right over the strings.

For the dots on the background of the tag, I stamped each one off first before stamping them on the tag. I had done a tag initially without first stamping them off, and they were so IN YOUR FACE that the cute characters were almost lost. Thus, the stamping off, which added a cute extra festiveness to the card without being overwhelming. By the way, the dots were actually the balloons that I stamped inside the card.

Knowing that the card was special and handmade, 
a friend lent a hand in helping Enzo remove the greeting 
from its envelope at his birthday party.

Unfortunately, the first thing the little darling did was try to peel off the animals. 
Not sure if he thought they were stickers or toys, 
but it was rescued quickly before any damage was actually done.

This last photo shows a happy Enzo and a little party friend "driving" 
a giant Green Bay Packers helmet.



February 8, 2020


As you all know, the Stampin' Up! community (that means YOU!) is smack dab in the middle of the fun annual promotion, Sale-A-Bration. During this time, whenever anyone places a minimum order of $50 before shipping and handling, you earn free goodies. 

One of the most awesome offerings this year is the cute stamp set, The Gang's All Meer, found on page 3 of the Sale-A-Bration brochure. I wouldn't be surprised if Stampin' Up! runs out of this adorable set before the end of the promotion.

The set includes a group of five meerkats all smiling at the camera. You can see the card I made for my January Stamp-In Workshop shows a group much larger than meer-ly five. 

To get this huge group of meerkats, you use masking. With this technique, it is so easy to get a very large group, simply by masking off some that you've already stamped and then stamping again.

I actually like the little guy who is trying so hard to be seen above the head of the kat in front of him. That's usually how it turns out when taking a big group photograph. 

Once the full group is stamped, it is easy to fussy cut around it, leaving a white border. By popping it up with Stampin' Dimensionals, it gives the card a bit of dimension and lifts the group away enough from the bulky ribbon.

For the inside of the card, I stamped the single meerkat that comes in the set and popped a party hat onto his head. The sentiment is from an old retired set. Do you like the funny little lizard in the bottom corner of the card? He is part of the set too!

Keep on reading and I will share with you a tutorial on how to re-create a card similar to this one.

Night of Navy cardstock
Whisper White cardstock
Night of Navy-based Designer Series Paper

The Gang's All Meer (page 3 of the Sale-A-Bration brochure)
Retired snetiments inside and out

Black ink

Two fussy cut masks of the original gang of five on Post It Notes
Night of Navy corduroy ribbon
Black rhinestones
Stampin' Dimensionals
Paper Snips

Fold a 4 1/4" x 11" piece of Whisper White cardstock in half, creasing it well with a bone folder.

To a 4" x 5 1/4" piece of Night of Navy cardstock, adhere a 2 3/4" 5" piece of Night of Navy based Designer Series Paper, leaving even margins at the sides and the top.

Stamp the sentiment in black onto a 1 1/4" x 5" piece of Whisper White cardstock.

Add this stamped piece to the remainder of the Night of Navy piece, leaving an even margin at the sides and the bottom.

Cut a 6" piece of the navy corduroy ribbon. Add adhesive to the back of it, center it over the seam between the two papers, and tape the ends of the ribbon to the back.

Adhere this completed piece to the card base.

The gang of meerkats will be done on a 3" x 5" piece of Whisper White cardstock.

Starting with the group image, stamp it once in the center near the bottom. Take one of the precut masks and cover the first stamped image. Stamp the gang again, but this time to the right and raised about 1/2". You are building your crowd.

Cover these first two groups with both of the precut masks. Stamp it again, this time to the left and raised about 1/4". Peel off the masks, and you should have a nice sized gang.

Stamp the single guy coming out of the hole at the bottom on the right.

Easy to do, cut around the entire gang, leaving a nice white edge.

With Stampin' Dimensionals, attach this piece to the card overlapping the ribbon as needed.

Add three black rhinestones to the sentiment piece.

If you choose, finish the inside of the card as in my sample or as desired.


February 5, 2020


I'm giving you fair warning. This post is perhaps a little over-posted? It is filled with lots of photos of the same card.

You see, my niece/goddaughter turned 22 on January 22. Her Golden Birthday. Since Marissa is a vivacious and sparkly person, I wanted her card for this momentous occasion to be equally vivacious and sparkly.

I had something of an idea in my head beyond the vivacity and sparkle. Nothing too concrete, however.

I wanted the end result to be as glitzy as possible. Obviously. So I dug through my paper stash -- and it is quite impressive -- to pick the best GOLD papers possible.

I'd wanted the overall appearance of the card (without the glitz, of course) to be that of those popular sign boards. With that in mind, I die cut with an old alphabet die set from Stampin' Up! all of the letters and then placed them centered on each of three separate panels.

The three panels, which actually are a brushed metallic gold, were then popped up with Dimensionals atop a very sparkly piece of glitter paper.

Once the basic card was finished -- heavens! it was not blingy enough! -- so I went about embellishing the heck out of the card.

I searched through my extensive stock of embellishments, including shiny gold paper and appropriate punches for this purpose.

In fact, the confetti pieces were punched with a Stampin' Up! punch using snippets from another Stampin' Up! project I had just finished, and dug out of the circular file. Erm. I mean the wastebasket.

It did take me an entire afternoon to plan and put this card together.

For the sentiment inside the card, I used an old Stampin' Up! greeting that I just happen to love to use inside birthday cards. I stamped it in VersaMark Ink onto a scrap of the same paper I'd used for the separate letters, then embossed it in gold. 

To punch out the sentiment, I did use a new punch, Label Me Fancy, found in the new Mini Catalog on page 41. This is a punch I can definitely see myself using quite frequently. It's such a perfect size. And, with the punch, you can also add a slit or hole for adding ribbon or baker's twine.

The real reason I ended up taking so many photos of the card is that I was never quite satisfied with how the bling on the card was captured. Never quite good enough. I hope that through an overdose of pictures, you can at least catch a glimpse of just how vivacious and sparkly this card truly is.

Happy Golden Birthday, Marissa!