My Favorite Things – New Stampin’ Up! Catalog

The new 2016-2017 Stampin’ Up! catalog has been out for about a month now and I’ve been through it a few times, turning down corners and circling my favorite items.  My wish list has a couple dozen items on it at the moment — it’s actually shorter than normal, but I’m trying to be good.  I keep a running list in an Excel spreadsheet so whenever I’m ready to place a new order I know right away what I’d like as well as what supplies I’m running low on.  It also helps me keep track of how much any given order might cost so I can optimize any Stampin’ Rewards I might be able to earn (they begin when you spend over $150 on any given order), as well as my overall spending on my crafting.  Good for budgeting purposes and at tax time.

Some of my favorites from the current catalog include:

Floral Boutique Designer Series Paper

Floral Boutique Designer Series Paper (image c. Stampin' Up!)

Floral Boutique Designer Series Paper (image c. Stampin’ Up!)

Floral Boutique Washi Tape

Floral Boutique Washi Tape (image c. Stampin' Up!)

Floral Boutique Washi Tape (image c. Stampin’ Up!)

I absolutely LOVE Stampin’ Up!’s color Night of Navy and the Floral Boutique product suite highlights this beautiful color so this was an immediate choice for my wish list.  Needless to say, I’ll also be buying more Night of Navy cardstock as well to accompany my new creations.

Serene Scenery Designer Series Paper

Stampin’ Up! has done it once again with creating a Designer Series Paper stack with photographic quality images that are incredibly realistic — so realistic in fact that I hate to cover them up with anything else, including a sentiment!  Images this time include sun-sparkled wheat fields, seashores, and leaves.  The reverse faces of the pages are complementary contemporary designs – equally versatile for all sort of paper crafting.

New 2016-2017 In-Color – Dapper Denim

Dapper Denim Card Stock (image c. Stampin' Up!)

Dapper Denim Card Stock (image c. Stampin’ Up!)

In keeping with my love of blue, one of Stampin’ Up!’s new “In Colors” for 2016-2017 has really caught my eye – Dapper Denim.  It usually takes me a little bit of time to warm up to the new In Colors when they first come out.  I don’t even have any of the 2015-2016 In Colors.  But this blue will definitely be making it’s way into my collection soon.

Vertical Greetings Stamp Set

Vertical Greeting Stamp Set (image c. Stampin' Up!)

Vertical Greeting Stamp Set (image c. Stampin’ Up!)

I love things that are different and this stamp set (available both in wood and clear mount) fits the bill.   It’s also great for when you have a tight space and a traditional horizontal greeting just won’t fit.  The font caught my eye as well – clean and crisp and easy to read.  This stamp set is definitely going to be on my next order.

Joyful Nativity Photopolymer Stamp Set

Joyful Nativity Photopolymer Stamp Set (image c. Stampin' Up!)

Joyful Nativity Photopolymer Stamp Set (image c. Stampin’ Up!)

Sometimes a stamp set has just one stamp that speaks volumes to you — for me and Joyful Nativity it’s the giant “JOY”.  I like the other silhouettes in the set and the longer sentiment as something to stamp inside Christmas cards, but that “JOY” could be used for so many things – a new baby card, a celebration card of any kind, or a pick-me-up card of some sort.  Yup, this set is definitely on the “to order” list as well.

Me = Grateful

Me = Grateful Stamp Set (image c. Stampin' Up!)

Me = Grateful Stamp Set (image c. Stampin’ Up!)

Similarly, there are a couple sentiments in the Me = Grateful stamp set that aren’t seen in a typical “thank you” collection.   This set is appropriate for creating cards that you can send for more serious thank yous (“thank you for seeing me through some dark days”) as well as on a more lighthearted note (You = Awesome; Me = Grateful).  But it lets you get more of a message across in what’s stamped.  Sometimes people have trouble writing thank you notes because they don’t know what to day – this set gives you a little help with that.


To view the entire Stampin’ Up! product line, you can visit my demonstrator website.

I’d love to hear what some of your favorite new Stampin’ Up! products are.

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Filed under Card Making, Christmas Cards, Stampin' Up!, Thank You Cards

Hello from O-H-I-O!

Certain Smiles' Creative Space, Bowling Green, Ohio

Certain Smiles’ Creative Space, Bowling Green, Ohio

Has it really been almost 9 months since I’ve posted here?  Much has happened.  Most importantly, I’m no longer writing this from the comfort of my cozy den in Somers, New York,  but from my sun-filled office / craft space in my new apartment in Bowling Green, Ohio.  I have more than enough space for both an office and craft room here – and absolutely love my new town – so different from where I was.

Fall 2015 was busy with preparations for a couple of craft fairs.   Once again I discovered that it is the “cute” / stocking stuffer items that sell the best, while my cards and other creative endeavors linger on the table and tended to be overlooked.

So I satisfied my need to create cards by donating bunches of them to a local retirement / rehabilitation facility where they could be sold at the gift shop and any profits used to benefit resident activities.  My coworkers were also subjected to card packs for Christmas gifts.  One coworker was so impressed he purchased a dozen more sets to give away at a spring gathering of long-time friends.  Nothing like a request to make 150 cards to make me happy and get those creative ideas flowing.

I did that last project, however, under a bit of a time crunch.  In late December I had traveled to Bowling Green for a job interview and by mid-January I had accepted to position.  I was to start March 1st so between the end of January and mid-February I was completing my card order between periods of packing.  There is nothing like having to pack up all your craft supplies to make you realize exactly how many of them you really have……  And yet I can still somehow convince myself that if I just buy this or that stamp set it will be “the one” to make all the difference in whether or not someone buys my cards.  Delusional? Yes.  Happy?  Yes.  Overstocked?  Definitely!!

I’ve already found a charity here to make some cards for and I’m back to stocking my Etsy store, so I certainly will have plenty of variety to offer.  And I have friends and family back in New York to send cards too and new coworkers to share my card-making passion with as well.

Life is good!

Thomas enjoying his new home in Ohio

Thomas enjoying his new home in Ohio



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Tips for New Card Makers

Eleven card designs using just one 12x12 sheet of pattern paper. Image (c) Stampin' Up!

Eleven card designs using just one 12×12 sheet of pattern paper. Image (c) Stampin’ Up!

For the first time in a long time, I really enjoyed card making this past weekend.  I took my time, relaxed, and am pleased with the results.  Over the course of two days, I made 22 cards – using just 2 sheets of 12×12 Stampin’ Up! Designer Series Paper, in addition to 6 sheets of Stampin’ Up! Whisper White 8-1/2 x 11 card stock and about 14 sheets of various other colors of Stampin’ Up! card stock (also 8-1/2 x 11).   Now that may seem like a lot of paper for 22 cards, but 11 of them are needed for the card bases, which means I used 7 sheets (plus the Designer Series Paper) for card covers, frames, etc.  More about that later.

There were several things that felt different about the weekend’s card making.  First, my goal wasn’t to make cards to sell or to give or send to family or friends.  Instead, I was making these cards to give to the residents of two local nursing homes.  I decided a few week ago that I needed another outlet for my cards – a charitable one.  So I contacted the activities departments of the nursing homes (having read online that nursing homes often accept handmade cards for their residents to use) and was very happy when my offers were met with great enthusiasm.  Second, I found a great sketch on Pinterest for the eleven card designs and was determined that for once I was going to stick to a sketch.  I was pleasantly surprised at how useful it was and at the results.  Third, I was patient and forgiving of myself – something that it’s often hard for this Aries girl to do.  But rather than Ram-like rushing through things, I took my time and enjoyed the process.

Along the way, I kept in mind my comments from my last post — about having accumulated too much stamping “stuff” too quickly.  Not only did slowing down allow me the time to think more about which tools and products – among all the ones that I have – did I want to use, it also gave me time to think about what I’d do differently if I were to start all over, and what advice I’d give to those just starting out in this great hobby.  Here are some of them:

Tip #1:  Set a budget and stick to it.   Do whatever works for you.  Let yourself spend $20 a week, each and every week.  Or put $10 in an envelope each week and then every month go spend your $40.  Whatever works, but figure out how much you are going to let yourself spend on this hobby and work within those means.  It took me a while to do that, but now I have it down to a science.   I keep a spreadsheet with my “wish list” on it.   Every couple of months when I put in a new Stampin’ Up! order, I know exactly how much I’m allowing myself to spend so I pull up my wish list (which is an ever-evolving document) and tweak my order to come within a dollar or two or my spending limit.

Tip #2: Be realistic about your budget.  Yes, this does somewhat contradict Tip #1, but if you want to be a card maker, there will be some initial start-up costs, and some on-going ones as well, that you need to be able to invest in.  For example, you’ll need a paper trimmer and a good pair of craft paper scissors to start out.  And don’t forget storage containers / systems of some sort.  Maybe you already own some things that can be repurposed, but you may need to buy some new ones.  Paper and other supplies will need to be stored somewhere.  In terms of on-going costs, your adhesives will probably be the items you most frequently need to replace.  I buy mine in bulk on-line; I’ve found that to be the most cost-effective option.  But it’s still an expense you need to take into consideration and allow funds for.

Tip #3: Speaking of adhesives….make sure your adhesive runner isn’t permanent the moment you stick it down — find one that is temporarily removable and then becomes permanent.   Nothing ruins a card quicker than putting something down crooked and not being able to quickly peel it back up again to readjust it.

Tip #4: Always keep a spare cutting blade for your paper trimmer.  Crisp cut lines vs. ragged, dull cut lines can really affect the quality of a finished card.

Tip #5 Watch out for the copyright mark on patterned paper.  There’s nothing like finishing your masterpiece only to realize that someone’s copyright is standing front and center.   Been there, done that.  Either cut off that edge of the paper, or strategically cover it.

Tip #6 Measure twice, cut once.  This is particularly true if you are working with patterned paper that has a design that goes in only one direction.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve been rushing and cut patterned paper for a horizontal card in the vertical direction – or vice versa – and then the dimensions are all wrong – and paper is wasted.  Well, not quite; I end up doing some sort of work around, but it never feels as nice as it would have if I’d just been paying more attention to begin with.

Tip #7 Don’t be afraid to admit you made a mistake.  It happens.  At least when I make cards it does.  I think I’ve come up with a GREAT idea, but then I step back, look at it and think, yeah, that’s just a little too loud, or too “out there” for anyone but me to like (or even me to like).  So I pull apart the pieces, salvage what I can of the card stock I used, and start over.

Tip #8 Find a Brand and Stick with it.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on my blog, I’m an independent demonstrator with Stampin’ Up!     I started card making with their products and have stuck with them because of the high quality – and the wonderful coordination of product lines and colors.  I’ve tried getting random paper stacks from the brick and mortar retailers, but find it difficult to use them because it’s so hard to match colors.  Sticking with just Stampin’ Up! paper means I can buy a package of their designer series paper and it will coordinate with five or six of their solid color card stocks that I already have.   This year they’ve started selling solid color card stock assortments to match the designer series paper.  It’s a great, economical way to stock up on the coordinating colors.

Tip #9 Copy and Share Everything (CASE).  CASE is a very familiar acronym in the paper-crafting world.  There are so many talented card makers and they share their gift with others through blogs, on Pinterest, and with videos demonstrating how they achieved that perfect design.  Set up your own Pinterest page and save those card designs you like and would like to copy either directly or use as inspiration for your own design.  But remember, it doesn’t take much to make a design your own — turn the design 90 degrees; add a frame of coordinating colored card stock around every piece of patterned paper (this simple technique really boosts the look of a card); when a sketch shows a solid line, remember it can be a ribbon, card stock, a row of buttons or punched flowers – anything you choose to represent a “line”, etc., etc.  So keep a separate Pinterest board just of sketches, here’s mine and stretch and challenge yourself often.

Tip #10 Don’t Save Every Scrap, But Organize the Ones You Do.  The tag line for Best Friends Animal Society, one of the country’s largest animal rescue organizations which runs an animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah (I hope to visit someday), is “Save Them All”.  So true for homeless pets.  Not so true for paper scraps.  Too many and too small ones can be a burden if you feel you “have” to use them.  Then the scraps are forcing your design and it is not a good thing.  True, I’ve seen some beautiful cards that take advantage of scraps, but not all the 1×1 inch ones I seem to accumulate!  So be judicial and throw out anything that is really too small to do anything with.  And sort the other pieces in some logical manner so you’ll know you’ll be able to find them to use again.  I sort mine into plastic bags by color group.  So when I need to find a scrap of a particular shade of green, I go to the green bag.  I’ve seen other demonstrators who have more sophisticated storage systems do the same thing except with file folders by specific color name.


I hope you’ve found these tips useful.  I’ll add more in another post as I think of them.  I’ve included below the sketch I used this past weekend and a few close ups of some of the cards I created.


Sketch for Making Eleven Cards from One 12 x 12 sheet of patterned paper

Sketch for Making Eleven Cards from One 12 x 12 sheet of patterned paper; from Sylvie Drauer Images (c) Stampin’ Up!

Cards by Certain Smiles Images (c) Stampin' Up!

Cards by Certain Smiles Images (c) Stampin’ Up!

Cards by Certain Smiles Images (c) Stampin' Up!

Cards by Certain Smiles Images (c) Stampin’ Up!

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Filed under Card Designs, Card Making, Card Sketches

Still Stamping the Blues

Any one who knows me or has seen my desk at work or craft space at home knows that neatness is not my greatest attribute.  Nor am I one to quickly straighten up after working on a project.  So, needless to say, after my venture with Hanukkah cards two weeks ago, my craft table is still full of blue card stock of every design and hue that I own.  The only difference is that last weekend I shifted gears and put away my one set of Hanukkah stamps and pulled out my many and varied Christmas stamps.  I’ve got penguins, snowflakes, snowmen, the three wise men, the shepherds watching their flock, holiday ornaments, Christmas trees, pine branches, reindeer, etc.

You name it, I probably have a stamp for it.  Except Santa Claus.  I’m not sure why.  Well, that’s not true.  I do know.  I just don’t like the way the holly, jolly fellow has been commercialized.  Instead, I tend towards the more traditional symbols and sayings of the season and prefer to use them for my Christmas cards.  Here are a few that I came up with last weekend:

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Three Wise Men by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Three Wise Men by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin’ Up!

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Shepherds in the Field by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Shepherds in the Field by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin’ Up!

Handmade Snowman and Snowflake Card by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Snowman and Snowflake Card by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin’ Up!

OK, the last one is more whimsical than traditional.  I like making those kinds of cards too.   As I said, I’m still in blue mode.  I’ll break out the reds and greens in a few weeks.  I’m excited for that, but also dreading it.  You see, I’ve come to realize I made a rookie mistake when I started card making – I bought WAY too much in terms of papers, stamps, ribbons, buttons, punches, etc.  I kept thinking “oh, just think what I could make with that” whenever I saw a new stamp set or new paper design that caught my eye…. And I still think that!  But when I sit down to make cards I’m overwhelmed with the options in front of me – which set do I want to use? Which color combination? Which patterned paper?  It doesn’t help that I keep every little scrap of paper so I’m sometimes stuck trying to create a design around mismatched odds and ends!  No wonder I feel exasperated and frustrated rather than exhilarated and fulfilled.

But the good news is that I think I’ve learned my lesson.  And I’ll share some tips in my next post.

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Filed under About Me, Card Making, Christmas Cards

Hanukkah Hubris

It is early August and my craft table is awash in a sea of blue and white card stock.  No, I’m not scrapbooking about a recent vacation at the beach.   What I am doing is working on this year’s crop of Hanukkah cards.  Although Hanukkah is still 4 months away, I want to get them up on my Etsy store now so shoppers will have a chance to see them before the actual holiday.

Blue is one of my favorite colors, so I am enjoying this project.  But as someone who does not celebrate Hanukkah, I am challenged to know whether or not the end results are anything those who do celebrate the holiday would want to share with others.    I guess only time will tell.  As I search online for suggested sayings for Hanukkah cards I find it interesting that many sayings sound suspiciously like the generic phrases that might go into Christmas cards, including: “good tidings at Hanukkah.”  Seriously?

These others seem much more thematically appropriate:

  • Wishing for the festival of lights to shine down on you and your family
  • Happy Hanukkah from all of us to your beautiful family.  May these eight days of celebration bring peace and joy to your household
  • May the Menorah candles shine bright in your life.  Remember the miracle they represent. Best wishes.
  • May this Hanukkah fill your home with faith, light, freedom and love.
  • May your home grow brighter, your faith grow stronger, and your hearts be warm with each candle you light.

Perhaps this is why on the second page of my search results there was a link to a blog post about whether Hanukkah cards were simply the further corruption of that minor holiday into something it’s not: a card-worthy end of the year holiday – i.e. Christmas as well as the New Year (as opposed to the Jewish New Year which occurs in the fall).

Am I assisting in this co-oping process by adding my own cards to the mix?  Probably, but if so, I am hardly the first – commercial card makers, major retailers and advertisers have been at it long before me — and I doubt I will be the last.  But as I ponder the issue it does put a damper on my Hanukkah card making enthusiasm and I wonder if it’s even worth it.

Just as I wonder any time I put a card up on my Etsy site — if I’m ever going to make a difference with them.  I’d like to think, major or minor holiday, birthday or just because, there is always a reason to send a card to someone.  Just to let them know they are on your mind.  There are few things better (at least to me) than to open the mailbox at the end of the day and find amongst all the catalogs and advertising flyers an envelope with familiar handwriting on it – from a friend or a family member and to discover it’s a card or letter from them.  [Of course as I write this I realize I don’t necessarily practice what I preach and am rather negligent in my own reaching out, except for the two most important people in my life.  The others I connect to by e-mail or phone, if that.]

When I first started making cards, I had grand plans; I was going to change the world with my cards; people were going to use them to write things of great import and with great impact on those who received them.  Um….yeah, right.  I’ve often heard that the way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans.   He obviously has not agreed that this is my grand purpose in life.   I wonder what is.


Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) Stampin’ Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles.  Images (c) by Stampin' Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) by Stampin’ Up!

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Filed under About Me, Card Making, Card Sayings, Hanukkah Cards

Mother’s Day Card Messages

If your mom is as special as mine is, you’ll no doubt want to let her know that when you send her this year’s Mother’s Day card.  But how do you sum up all her wonderful qualities and let her know how important she is to you in just a few written lines?  Well, first off, I hope Mother’s Day isn’t the only day of the year you tell her how you feel about her!  If not, then you won’t be trying to fit a year’s worth of sentiment into one card.   Still, it’s nice to be able to find just the right thing to say that perfectly sums up your relationship and that’s often hard to come up with on your own.

I’m not foolish enough to think I could come up with such concise and pithy statements on my own.  There are just too many types of mothers and too many types of mothering relationships out there to even begin to cover them all myself.  Luckily, others have tackled this important subject and here are three sites I found with some excellent choices to use in Mother’s Day cards:

Hallmark Mother’s Day Messages

Flower Shop Network Mother’s Day Messages

Blake Flannery Mother’s Day Messages

Happy writing!

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Filed under Card Making, Card Sayings, Mother's Day Cards

Scrapbooking with Snapfish and Digital Photographs

Marguerite and Charles Sauer

Marguerite and Charles Sauer

Oh dear…..It’s been over 2 months since I’ve posted here.  Not good.  Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way – not of card making, but of my trying to come up with good blog content.  Actually, I’ve been rather busy making cards and really enjoying it.  Last weekend I sent out over 60 cards total, divided between my eight cousins on my Dad’s side and my brother and sister-in-law.  There is a great pleasure from making cards with no pressure of “will they sell”, “will someone reading my blog like them”, “will someone repin them”, “will someone taking a class like them”, etc.   Instead they were gifts and as I made them I simply enjoyed the creative process.  I hope the recipients of the cards liked them as well.

I was writing to all my cousins because I was sending out a small book with photographs of our grandparents and parents.  Originally, I was going to make scrapbooks with photo pages and actual photos — even had multiple prints made of each of the photographs.  And then it dawned on me — duh! Why re-create the same wheel 9 times when I could just do a digital photobook!  So much faster.

So I went to Snapfish — my go to site for all things digitally photographic — and started plugging away.  I had scanned the original images at 300 dpi as .TIFs, but .JPEGs were plenty large enough for the 8 1/2 x 11 size books I ended up ordering.  It also made uploading the photographs to Snapfish quicker.  I had done my touch up work on the photographs in Photoshop before uploading them to Snapfish, although the Snapfish photobook software does include a modest ability to increase and decrease brightness and make other minor adjustments to the photos.  Alas, despite numerous read-throughs and revisions, a couple of typos did slip through.  Word of advice: when doing a digital project like this,  have someone else proofread it for you; after a while  you get too close to it and won’t see your own errors.    I wasn’t able to perhaps embellish the digital scrapbook as much as I might have liked if I had been doing it with actual photographs, photo pages, patterned scrapbook paper and the whole nine yards, but for the project I was creating, there was a template that fit my needs very well and I ended up with a very handsome finished product.  And this method was certainly quicker and easier given that I had multiple copies to have printed.

The feedback I’ve gotten so far on the books has been very positive.  Unfortunately, it usually isn’t possible — or realistic — to keep all the trinkets, photographs, clippings, cards, and other “stuff” that make up a life.  So, I selected a representative sample of photographs that documented the life of my grandparents as they made their life’s  work as missionaries in Korea, and of my dad and his two older brothers in family photos through the years as they grew up.   I’m hoping the books will be passed down by my cousins to their own children to keep the family history alive.  If that happens with just one of the books I sent out last week, I will have been successful.


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Filed under About Me, Digital Photography, Digital Scrapbooking, Scrapbooking

Masculine Card Designs

Thank You Card created by Certain Smiles. Images c. Stampin' Up!

Thank You Card created by Certain Smiles. Images c. Stampin’ Up!

A card making group I belong to had a challenge this month — give away two of your cards at random.  Easy enough, right?  Well, maybe not.  I decided that one of the mine would go to a contractor I’ve worked with in the past.  He was coming over to give me an estimate for some additional work on my condo.  I thought it would be nice to make a couple thank you cards for him to have on hand for clients or coworkers.

But when I sat down to design the cards, I found myself a little stumped.  These were different than most cards I make.  There were for a guy to possibly give to another guy.  That seemed to eliminated probably 90% of my card stock, punches and stamps!  OK, maybe I exaggerate slightly, but it definitely made me rethink my usual “go to” designs.

According to the Greeting Card Association, women purchase 80% of all greeting cards, and spend more time selecting the ones they do purchase than men do.  So it wouldn’t surprise me if similar numbers (or more) of women than men make cards and so logically the designs on those products are naturally geared towards a female audience.  Butterflies, flowers and bright colors seem to dominate the design landscape.  No wonder men stay away.

So what makes a “man’s card” and how does one make one?  The card at the top of this page is what I ended up giving to my contractor.   It was pure coincidence that Mary Fish, a spectacular Stampin’ Up! demonstrator whose blog I follow daily, posted today about masculine cards.  One of her tips for these designs is to keep it simple, but don’t be afraid to add a splash of color – pretty much the path I took when I added the medium blue accent to set off the browns.

How else can you add that extra “something” when ribbons, buttons, and (gasp) glitter are off the table?  First, try bold, not bright colors.  Pastels, though pretty, aren’t going to cut it.  Go with strong colors — red, blue, orange.  Second, find boldly patterned papers to add some interest.  In its 2015 Occasions catalog, Stampin’ Up! recognized the “man niche” with its Adventure Bound Designer Series Paper stack.  These designs, with some plaids as well as some photographic images of bricks, trees, logs and stones, give a wide variety to let your imagination soar while still coordinating with several of Stampin’ Up!’s card stocks.

Homemade "Designer Series Paper" using Stampin' Up!'s Gorgeous Grunge Stamp Set

Homemade “Designer Series Paper” using Stampin’ Up!’s Gorgeous Grunge Stamp Set

Or, make your own patterned paper.  This “Designer Series Paper” made with Stampin’ Up!’s Gorgeous Grunge stamp set, and several Stampin’ Up! inks — Cherry Cobbler, Chocolate Chip, Sahara Sand, Not Quite Navy (retired), and Pumpkin Pie on a piece of Whisper White card stock. I just randomly stamped, starting with the thin parallel line stamp, followed by the thick slanted line stamp, and finishing with the random spots stamp in two different colors.

As noted, I used Gorgeous Grunge for my paper, but Stampin’ Up! sells many sets that can be used to make your own paper.  These include, but are not limited to:

Stampin’ Up! Hand Carved background stamp (available in wood and clear mount)

Stampin’ Up! Hardwood background stamp (available in wood and clear mount)

Stampin’ Up! Positively Chevron background stamp (available in wood and clear mount)

Stampin’ Up! Work of Art Stamp Set (available in wood and clear mount)

Stampin’ Up! Geometrical Stamp Set (available in wood and clear mount)

Stampin’ Up! Eye-Catching Ikat Photopolymer Stamp Set

Here are two of the cards that I created with my paper:

Birthday Card Created by Certain Smiles, Images c. Stampin' Up!

Birthday Card Created by Certain Smiles, Images c. Stampin’ Up!

Thank You Card Created by Certain Smiles. Images c. Stampin' Up!

Thank You Card Created by Certain Smiles. Images c. Stampin’ Up!

You’ll see I also used some textured embossing in the birthday card for some added interest as well.

So remember, when creating a card for a guy, a good rule of thumb is to keep it simple, but add a splash of color or a striking design element.  Just be sure to leave the glitter at home.

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Some Thoughts on Valentine’s Day Cards

Oops!  I realized this morning as I walked through the drug store – and passed the blazing red Valentine card display – that this was a golden opportunity to post to my blog — and I’d almost totally forgotten about it!  Not like this isn’t one of the biggest card holidays of the year – with, according to the Greeting Card Association, 145 million “units” purchased annually.

But what to write about it? Suggestions for what to write in your card? Maybe some other time, when I haven’t forgotten the occasion and have more time to prepare — like next January…. In the meantime, there are loads of other sites out there that do that.  Just check Google.

No, that’s been done before.  So here are some random thoughts on Valentine’s, for what they are worth.

1.  Apparently the origins of St. Valentine’s Day are not well known and there are conflicting facts and theories about it.  But regardless of its origins, it is generally agreed that by the Middle Ages, February had become a month of romance and Valentine greetings were being exchanged.   Interestingly, according to, by the 1900s, printed cards became popular, in part, because they were “an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged.”  Now, on Twitter and Facebook, people just bare all!  I wish they’d just do it privately in a card….

2.  I think at some point the card, candy and jewelry industries hijacked Valentine’s Day.  I remember the few years after my dad passed away loathing commercials around Christmas time — no matter what product they were selling, they all promoting the themes of family and togetherness.  Intellectually, I knew the people in them were just actors, had no relationship to each other, and the snow was fake, but emotionally, they tugged at my heart – for the opportunities never to come and for the reality that never existed.  It’s the same way with Valentine’s Day.  Watch TV from mid-January through mid-February and you’re bombarded with reminders that she’ll love you forever for getting her that sparkly, pretty this or that to put on her ears, finger, wrist, or neck.  And that if you’re a woman who doesn’t have a guy to buy you that bling, well, suck it up sweetie, because everyone else but you has someone who will (or so society / Hollywood / advertising would lead you to believe).    If you want to read an incredible blog post by a very insightful and intelligent young woman along the lines of this subject, check out my niece’s blog, Within the Ivory Palace.

3.  Try as they might, Hallmark doesn’t always say it best.  I’ll admit it; I’m one of the lucky ones.  After many, many years of not having anyone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with, I am now blessed to have found a “special someone”.  I’ve already made a card for him.  He hates glitter, so it’s nothing too frilly, but I think it’s something he’ll like.   But when I was at the store I thought, well maybe I’ll just take a look and see if there is something here that I should get as well, something that just hits the nail on the head when it comes to describing our relationship.  Well, I stood there for at least 10 minutes picking up card after card (yes, even the ones with glitter).  Some had multiple paragraphs, about love and relationships, shared history, shared memories, not saying I love you enough, wishing to spend more time together, and more.  The whole gamut of emotions regarding romantic relationships printed up just waiting for a signature…. yet none of them fit.  Oh sure, some fit in part.  I’d think, yeah, that’s perfect, but then the next line would be totally not us.  I even walked away and then returned, thinking maybe I’d missed something.  But no, I hadn’t.   What I write in my card to him probably won’t be as flowery – or as long – it may simply be “Happy Valentine’s Day”.  I probably said more in the “Thank You” card I sent him card a few weeks ago where I thanked him for bringing out the best in me.   But whatever I say, it will be better than letting Hallmark do it for me.

4.  Some of the best Valentine’s I’ve ever received have been (a) unexpected, (b) from friends, and (c) from my cats.  Yes, my cats.  You see, Valentine’s Day is for celebrating love – of all sorts.  Not just the mushy romantic stuff forced down our throats by people trying to sell stuff because it’s one of their biggest revenue generators of the year (see point 2 above).  A card from a friend letting them know how much you value their friendship or a card to your parents or kids is just as important.  And yes, my mom does help out the cats with their cards to me — and because she captures their personalities so perfectly with what “they” write and has such a fun sense of humor about it, they are some of my most treasured cards from her/them.

So, as usual, my suggestion is to write from the heart.  Sure, go online and get some ideas as to what to say, but don’t let Hallmark or anyone else do all the talking for you.  And don’t let anyone tell you whether or not you can celebrate Valentine’s Day based on your relationship status.  Everyone has someone in their life (I hope!) worth celebrating a relationship with — a friend, coworker, sibling, parent, or romantic partner.  Even if you don’t do it in writing, or otherwise formally acknowledge it on Valentine’s Day, at least say a little prayer of thanks for that blessing in your life.

Everyone deserves a Valentine's Day card like this one.  Image c. Stampin' Up!

Everyone deserves a Valentine’s Day card like this one. Image c. Stampin’ Up!


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Filed under About Me, Card Sayings, Valentine's Day Cards

Color Choices in Card Making

Lotus Blossom in Melon Mambo (image c. Stampin' Up!)

Lotus Blossom in Melon Mambo (Image c. Stampin’ Up!)

A couple of weeks ago, I spent the afternoon making cards (as I do most weekend afternoons). I was working with a colorful group of Stampin’ Up!’s designer series papers and their coordinating solid colored card stocks (mostly Melon Mambo) but was getting tired of making thank you, birthday, and thinking of you cards, more appropriate to the colors I was using. So my mind started to wander to the new Lotus Blossom stamp set I’d received during this year’s Sale-a-Bration promotion. I decided to try it out using Melon Mambo ink.   The results were spectacular, as you can see.

But the question now was, what type of card should I make to go along with it?   My answer? A sympathy card! The message inside reads “May you find comfort in God’s word and in the knowledge that others care and sympathize with you.”

Sympathy Card in Pinks with Lotus Blossom (images c. Stampin' Up!)

Sympathy Card in Pinks with Lotus Blossom (images c. Stampin’ Up!)

Apology Card in pinks (images c. Stampin' Up!)

Apology Card in pinks (images c. Stampin’ Up!)

I used the same patterned paper, stamp set and light pink card stock base to make a general “apology” card (there is no sentiment stamped on the inside so it can be used for any occasion where “I’m sorry” needs to be said).

As I think I’ve written here before, I love bright colors.  But as I step back now after a few weeks, I must admit I’ve begun to question that decision. Seriously.  Pink for a sympathy card?!?!?!  What was I thinking?

Obviously, I wasn’t.  While I can’t quite bring myself to dislike these cards (I just love the colors) I know in my heart that the colors clash with the sentiments they convey.  And as much as my head tries to rationalize it (even as I write this I continue to try to justify the color choices…..), I know I went a little too far with my creative license on these.

Just as per Ecclesiastes 3:1, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven, to every occasion there are fitting card designs and less fitting ones.  Not that an occasional non-traditional look isn’t good.  It can be great in fact, but more me, at least, I think I’m going to stick with the traditional from here on out.  In fact I spent this morning working on sympathy cards that can be used at work.  They are all done in browns, ivories, greens, and rich purples.  They look much more appropriate, don’t you think?


Sympathy Cards by Certain Smiles, images c. Stampin’ Up!


Sympathy Cards by Certain Smiles, images c. Stampin’ Up!

Sympathy Cards by Certain Smiles, images c. Stampin' Up!

Sympathy Cards by Certain Smiles, images c. Stampin’ Up!

I could go on about the “psychology of color” (and there are plenty of websites out there on the subject), but I think, for now at least, I’ll just stick with my gut instincts….and avoid pink for sympathy cards in the future!!


Filed under Card Designs, Colors, Sympathy Cards