Friday, August 29, 2014

I Never Met a Cupcake...

I combined several challenges for today's card: Color My Heart: Lagoon, Sorbet, and Flaxen; CAS(E) this Sketch #90; and Heart2Heart: Inspired by Food.

The stamps are from a retired CTMH set called A Chocolate Affair.  I stamped the cupcake in Versamark and then used chalk to color.  Remember chalk?  I hardly pull it out any more, but it was perfect to color this little cupcake.  The sentiment actually reads, "I never met a CHOCOLATE I didn't like," so I stamped the top line in white and the bottom line in black. see that cool marbling effect.  Here's how I did that.  I set the lid of my Momento Tuxedo Black ink pad right on top of my card.  And it wasn't on purpose.  What's a girl to do but add a whole bunch more and pretend it was the plan all along?  I even added a touch of black sponging around the edges of the top panel to increase deception.

Background paper is CTMH Chalk It Up, Baker's Twine and colored chalk is Stampin' Up!, Q-tips for applying chalk from Johnson 'n Johnson. :)

Time for crit group.  Depending on what they think of my synopsis for "Valley of Shadows" I may need to make consolation cupcakes later today.

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writer's World Wednesdays-Breaking Bad

I'm in big trouble.

For my new novel, "Valley of Shadows," I requested a book written by a woman who spent time in The Old Capitol Prison at the same time my heroine finds herself there.  My library didn't have it, so the librarian sent a request out through the inter-library loan system. The book sent was published in 1867.  This is not a reprinted's the original.  Neither the librarian nor I can believe the college let it out of their hands, even if it did come in a protective box with a warning to be careful handling it.

I broke it.

I was about a quarter of the way through the book, craning my neck to read one side then the other so I didn't open the fragile binding too far, when the cover fell off.  I was hanging by a thread when it came to me, but that thread broke.

I feel terrible, and I don't know what to do about it.  It's not like I can glue the thing back together or offer to get it re-bound. 


I guess I'll just write a note and say, "I'm sorry, I handled it as gently as possible while reading, and if there's anything I can do to make reparations, here's my contact info..."

I 'fessed up to my husband.  He said, "That's why you can't have nice things, dear."

Until next time,

Friday, August 22, 2014

Good Times with Color My Heart

This week at Color My Heart, we are challenging you to use two colors which have stood the test of time: Olive and Smokey Plum.

This was a pretty easy card to do.  I temporarily stuck down a circle and used my sponge daubers to swipe color.  I started on my circle and swiped outward to achieve the streaked look.  I started with Olive and left room for the Smokey Plum next.

I used Spray Pens with water and re-inkers but didn't spray.  Instead, I took the nozzle off and tapped the end against my palm to splatter both colors.  After removing my circle mask, I carefully inked "good" in Smokey Plum, turned my stamp around and carefully inked "TIMES" in Olive, and (after giving my stamp a huff to refresh the ink) stamped inside my circle.

Of course, at the very last instant, my hand wiggled and my sentiment ended up off-kilter.  I had planned to add only one banner. Instead, I added the Smokey Plum banner at an angle that was even with my wonky sentiment, then added a second banner in Olive at an even wonkier angle.  It still bugs me, but my Design Team buddies assured me it almost looked like I planed it that way.  Love those ladies!!

All the stamping was done with the "Good Times" set that comes in the Artbooking Cricut collection.  The stripe on the Olive banner is the notebook paper stamp turned sideways.

I used the same basic layout as I did on this card.

With all the new, fun papers and colors in the CTMH Annual Inspirations catalog that came out at the beginning of the month, it's fun to sometimes be reminded to use those "tried and true" colors.

Until next time,

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bring Your Own Sunshine

This week's Heart2Heart challenge is: Inspired by a Book.  In an act of pure, shameless self-promotion, I am entering this card based off my novella, Waiting on a Promise, coming out in February.  It will be one of nine stories in The Homestead Brides Collection (pre-orders available).

As I was planning out my heroine's character, one saying kept playing through my mind.  I'd not heard it before CTMH came out with the promotional stamp set "You Are My Happy" last year, but it has inspired me to consciously think about how I can add "sunshine" to every day and every situation.  It's also very applicable to those of us in the military who must move to places we might not otherwise pick.

I cut the saying apart (making sure I added a few notches so I could fit it all back together again), inked it in Honey (which didn't show up well enough) then inked it in Pacifica and tried to do a shadow stamping thing (which didn't work very well because the Honey ink didn't show up well enough. **Sigh**)

Both the background panel and the banner were cut using Artbooking. I adjusted the panel to 5.25x4" manually, then adjusted the banner until it looked right in Cricut Design Space.  The banner ended up being .75x3.61".  I backed the banner with Buttercup paper because the "busy-ness" of the Confetti Wishes paper didn't look good with two colors showing through the open cuts to my eye.

Lots of stitching later, done!  Well...done after I pulled a gazillion threads through to the back and taped them down.  Before I send this card off, I'll be adding a panel to the inside to cover the stitching.  It really is a mess back there.

When the book comes out, you will see that I modified the saying in my dedication.  Okay...pure, shameless self-promotion over.  You may now go back to your regularly scheduled blog hopping.

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writer's World Wednesdays-Urgent Care Visit

For the past week I've been getting numbness in my hands and feet.  On Monday morning, I woke up with my left hand numb.  I've had that happen before when I was sleeping on it funny, but this time I woke lying on my back with my hand resting on my stomach.  I got up, shook it out, and got ready to head to the gym with my husband.  We were almost there when I said, "I think I need to go to the hospital.  I've got numbness down my left arm and it's not going away."  So we turned the car around and headed to Urgent Care. 

The nurse asked a few questions and then took me into an examination room.  The tingling wasn't going away, but I was a little less anxious since questions like, "Any shortness of breath?  Any tingling around your mouth?  Any feeling of heaviness in your chest?" were all answered, "No."  I was further reassured that I wasn't having a heart attack when my blood pressure came back normal.  However, my arm was still tingling.

When I told the doctor I'd had a bit of numbness in my feet as well, she ordered lab tests to rule out elevated electrolytes (heart) and blood sugar (diabetes).

Here's where the fun really started. 

I have deep, swervy, easily collapsible veins.  Whenever I have to do blood tests, I drink lots of water the day before and then about four cups prior to heading to the lab.  Still, the techs usually have a hard time getting a "juicy" vein even using the smallest needle available.  I told this to the first nurse who came to draw blood.  She caught a vein but couldn't thread the needle well enough to actually get blood.  She gave up and brought in "the big guns."  This guy was big alright, with his tattooed muscles and assurances he was "the best".  He gave up after two attempts.  The third guy came in and, seeing the normal spots for drawing blood already bandaged over, starts thumping on veins left and right.  Literally.  Left arm.  Right arm. (Makes a funny face.) Goes back to the left arm. Goes back to the right.  I said, "Since we've ruled out a heart attack, should I go home, drink lots of water, and come back tomorrow when I'm better hydrated?"  He went to check with the doctor.  "Nope, the doctor wants the blood drawn today.  I'm going to go get the 'big guns.'"

I'm thinking, he was already here and gave up.

Ten minutes later, in comes this petite woman who hunts left, hunts right, and then says, "This is going to hurt," and sticks a needle into my wrist.  She does manage to get four vials of blood drawn, though, so that's good.  However, she left the needle in my wrist.  On purpose.  Just in case the lab needed more blood or made a mistake or something.

I can't watch a TV show when someone's getting a needle stuck in them.  Blow them up, shoot them dead, drop them in burning acid, but don't stick a needle in them.  And now, here I sit with a needle stuck in my wrist for an hour waiting for the lab to finish their tests.

The good news is my electrolyte levels were fine and my blood sugar levels were awesome.  The doctor asked what I do.  I told her I'm an author.  The diagnosis?  I lean my arm against the edge of my desk when typing and I sit too long in one attitude. 

I feel so OFFICIAL!  I have an honest-to-goodness workplace injury. 

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Stretch Your Stamps 2, Day 9 & Writer's World Wednesday - Acknowledgements

I needed to make a card to thank another writer who helped critique my upcoming novella.  Vickie is an established author who just finished one book series and is starting on another.  In spite of her deadlines, she took time to read and edit my story.  Such an act of selflessness should be acknowledged.  I used the stamp and twist then add sharpie marker outlines method shown in Stretch Your Stamps 2, Day 9

I am in LOVE with this technique.  I've stopped using my glossy paper for several reasons, but this technique needs that slick surface to do the twisting.  I'll be using this idea over and over again because it gives a hand-painted look without the work.

All the stamps used in today's card are CTMH and every single one is retired.  On top of that, I cut several of the stamps apart to use them the way I wanted instead of the way they came.  The inks, also CTMH, are current except for Tulip.

Here's the supply list:
  • Stamps: Floral Happiness (flowers), Endless Friendship (leaves), Happiness Held (sentiment)
  • Ink: Hollyhock, Tulip, and Topiary
  • Markers: Copic YG61, Black Sharpie
I chose this sentiment because it perfectly reflects how I feel about those who have helped my in this writing journey.  My happiness is just the start.  It's when I share it by thanking those who have helped me and then following their lead by helping others that happiness blooms into its full beauty.  Thanks, Vickie, for making me a better writer and a better person through your example.

Until next time,

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stretch Your Stamps 2, Day 7

Sometimes I forget the sheer joy of stamping.  I get so caught up in die cuts, ribbons, patterned paper, and coloring that the power of a single stamp gets lost.  Today's lesson at Stretch Your Stamps 2 was about taking bold shapes and creating a whole card from them.

I used Doodle Signs from CTMH.   My original idea was to use the back side of the stamp to get a solid shape then stamp over top with the sketchy shape, but it just wasn't working.  My garbage can has some...hmmm...interesting panels of paper where I tried a little of this, a little of that, and mostly made a big mess.

I'm entering this in Color Throwdown.  I substituted CTMH ink colors in Lagoon, Whisper, and Holiday Red.  (FYI, both the stamp set and the Holiday Red ink are retired.) 

The "hello" die cuts were done with my Cricut.  I think it came with the free trial from purchasing an Explore.  All I know is I cut a ton of them which usually means I liked it, didn't want to pay for it, and cut out a bunch for use after the free trial period was over.  (Yeah...I'm cheap like that.  It's why you see me using stamps and supplies that retired eons ago.)  I colored one with Lagoon ink and layered a white one on top.  After affixing them to my card, I covered the white one with Liquid Glass to make it shine.

I used Copic markers to color white pearls.

After getting the whole thing done, the usual white on white panel mounting wasn't doing it for me, so I cut some Holiday Red cardstock to create a frame.

Well, I may be cheap, but when you end up with a fun, quick (if you don't count the trials) card, how can you blame me?

Until next time,

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Stretch Your Stamps, Day 1 (Again)

I've been playing in my craft room all day and made a couple of cards using the emboss resist technique we learned on Day 1 of the Stretch Your Stamps 2 class.

All stamps and supplies are CTMH.  The ones on the black base card are current, the ones on the Fall card are retired.

The fun thing I did to stretch my stamps on the top card was how I did my sentiment.  The "hi" stamp is actually a word bubble stamp.  By using it over the circle die cut, I gave it a whole different look.  The fun one on the bottom was creating my own background over which I stamped the words.  After embossing, I used the direct to paper technique to apply black ink and completely block the colored leaves underneath.  I thought about ironing off the embossing powder, but I used too dark a brown on my acorns and needed the shine to help read some of the smaller text.

It's been a fun crafting day, but now I'd better apply the lesson I learned from my first card of the day and do some clean up.

Until next time,

Stretch Your Stamps, Day 6

Although I have been watching the videos, I've not been keeping up with my Stretch Your Stamps 2 homework.  Since I had some time today, I combined several of the techniques for Day 6 on how to stretch outline stamps with this card.

Of the four ideas presented, I used the following three: no outline coloring, cropping a larger image onto a smaller workspace, and the layout from stamping on something other than paper.

I love how this card turned out...but how can you go wrong when shamelessly CASEing the amazing Debby Hughes?

The sunflower stamp is retired from CTMH as is the green patterned paper.  Actually, I stamped over top of patterned paper using a large background stamp from Stampin' Up! for one of the first days of class and hated it.  After cropping it down, it worked great as a background.  The torn notebook page and matching stamp for lines is CTMH from the Artiste Cricut collection.  I'm not sure where the die-cut sentiment is from.  I think I cut a bunch when I had the free trial period from my Cricut Explore.  If someone knows where it's from, please leave a comment and I'll add the information back in. 

I used Copic markers to color the flower, die cut sentiment (which is actually a dark green rather than black), and the small sequins.  Liquid Glass went over top of the sentiment and attached the sequins and Baker's Twine.

Tim Holtz distress stain in Peeled Paint watered down was flicked across the back panel.  I've noticed the Debby Hughes seems to add a touch of texture or color to all her backgrounds before she builds the rest of the card on top.  It's subtle--really subtle--so I'd not even noticed it before.  I got too much color on what I intended to be the bottom part of the background panel.  It took an embarrassing amount of time to realize I could simply turn the panel upside down and hide the bulk of the distress stain behind the three papers.

Now for my big tip.  I have learned a new technique that allows me to keep from messing up my Liquid Glass when I add it as an accent like I did over the sentiment.  If I clean up my desk and put all my stamps, embellishments, and ink pads away, it miraculously seems to be just enough time for the Liquid Glass to dry.  Amazing!!

Until next time,

Friday, August 8, 2014

Christmas Color

I will readily admit that some of the color combinations our fearless leader over at Color My Heart comes up with leave me scratching my head.  This was one of them.  Sorbet and Barn Red together, yes.  Sorbet and Pear, that works, too.  But Sorbet, Barn Red, and Pear?  I just wasn't feelin' it.  After trying to be clever and come up with something not Christmassy, I bowed to the inevitable pressure of a due date and came up with this:

The thing I like best about this card are the fake enamel dots because I made them myself.  I punched circles using two different sizes from Sorbet and Barn Red cardstock and, after affixing them to the card, covered them with Liquid Glass.  It gives you the same effect as the ones you buy pre-made, but you get to choose your own colors, sizes, and quantities.  LOVE that!

The tree was cut at 3.5" using the Artbooking cartridge.  I created the panel behind it by pulling a couple of retired Christmas sets, grabbing words and small images at random, and placing them on an acrylic block with no particular rhyme or reason other than switching up font sizes and layering in the images.  Without these particular sets, the same effect could be done by using multiple stamp sets (because who has just ONE Christmas set???) or even by creating words from different alphabets.  I stamped them in Pear and then used a Sponge Dauber to add a soft color wash over top.

I made the background for a different idea I had which, after an hour of fussing, just needed to be tossed.  It's the chicken wire background from Distressed Backgrounds.

Since I get to see what the rest of the Color My Heart Design Team comes up with before the new challenge goes live, I encourage you to go see their wonderful, non-Christmassy creations.  They will inspire you!

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Writer's World Wednesdays-Research

I told you before, I could get lost doing research.  It's my favorite part of being an historical writer, especially when there are so many varying viewpoints.  My next project, "Valley of Shadows," begins the day Lincoln was assassinated.  Suffice it to say, depending on the lens through which events are viewed, scholars disagree quite drastically about what led up to and who was involved in the plot to kidnap Lincoln which then morphed into an assassination.  I just finished "Dark Union" and am now reading "Assassins Accomplice."  On my shelf are "April 1865" and "The Day Lincoln was Shot."  I've already read "Killing Lincoln" and "My Thoughts be Bloody" which got my plot going.

The heroine of "Valley of Shadows" is the niece of John Wilkes Booth; the hero has been associated with Booth's older and more famous brother, Edwin.  I have to put my heroine in jail, but I'm not sure what prison for females looked like back then.  Thus, "Assassins Accomplice" about Mary Surratt, the only woman to be convicted of helping John Wilkes Booth kill Lincoln, and the first woman to be hanged in the United States for a crime.

Because my fictional characters bump up against such famous events, my notes on this story look like a grad student paper.  I'm keeping meticulous record of where I got certain details so I can write an Author Note which explains why I chose to include certain elements in my plot.  It's painstaking work for a project I'm not even sure will sell, but this is the writer's world--reading and writing about things we find interesting and hoping someone else finds it worth publishing.

If you'd like to read more about "Valley of Shadows" and see how long it's been percolating in my brain, here's another post for you.

There is a conference coming up in September.  I'd like to have this story done by then to see if some smaller publishing houses are interested in purchasing it.  The 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination is coming up this April and it would be nice to piggy-back on that publicity.  The reason I would need to sell to a smaller publishing house is because they have a shorter turn around between finished manuscript and publication.  If I can't get any of them interested, I just might decide to self-publish the story.  With my novella coming out in February, I'd like readers to have at least one more option of something to read from me if they like Karl and Marta's story.

Until next time,

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Stretch Your Stamps, Day 2

I combined a couple techniques from Stretch Your Stamps 2, Day 2 for this card.  I used the ombre effect and coloring in images.

The background stamp is retired CTMH Leafy Print, the sentiment is retired Stampin' Up!, and the butterfly was cut at 1.5" using CTMH Cricut Artiste cartridge.

I used a combination of distress inks and dye inks to get my background.  I started with Tim Holtz Wild Honey (bottom to top) and Spun Sugar (top down) Distress ink.  To deepen the color, I added CTMH Cotton Candy over top of the Wild Honey at the bottom working more up the left side of the card than the right.  Then I colored the flowers with CTMH Cotton Candy and Tulip (flowers) and Tim Holtz Peeled Paint (leaves) using a paintbrush.  When finished, I spritzed the whole thing with a fine layer of pearlized mist (Pearl Create A Shade paint mixed with water in a mini-mister). I find that using a base of Distress ink allows me to get the same water reaction even if I put dye inks over top.

I bought the ribbon at Hobby Lobby on one of those 50% off days.  I had no idea how I was going to use it, but it worked perfectly with the colors on this card.

Such a fun day of classes.  Looking forward to tomorrow.

Until next time,

Monday, August 4, 2014

Stretch your Stamps, Day 1

Yay!  So excited for the new Stretch Your Stamps, 2 class.  I'm also excited for my friend, Carla Laureano, whose debut novel, Five Days in Skye, won the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Fiction at the recent Romance Writers of America convention.  I wanted to send her a card to celebrate.

The background is a long-ago retired CTMH stamp called Chinese Tulip. My plan was to emboss in clear, watercolor, then iron away the embossing powder.  Then I looked at the stamp again and thought, "Why not emboss in black to match the way the image appears?"  So I did.

Now, I must be honest and tell you that I did this on watercolor paper and could not get a solid background image, so I went over it with a black Copic marker at the end.  If I wanted to make a bunch of these, I would invest in the Tim Holtz watercolor paper that has both a smooth and rough side (and use the smooth, of course).

The sentiment is also a retired CTMH stamp embossed in black on vellum and then wrapped around my 4x5.5" colored panel and secured with tape.  I mounted the top panel on foam mounting tape to add a little dimension (which is also why it looks like the left side of the car has more of an edge than the right, but they're even...honest, they are!)

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Until next time,

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Future Belongs...

Today we are welcoming the spouses of our new battalion commander and command sergeant major.  Although it's always difficult to say goodbye to those we have come to love, the Army life does allow us to meet and grow to love new people.  I made a couple cards, one I showed you previously and kept in my stash, and this new one.

I used CTMH Ariana paper and the Art Philosophy Cricut Cartridge on top of a card base with the Vineyard Berry background paper that has been sitting in my stash for so long it's embarrassing.  The Vineyard Berry paper was cut with deckle edge scissors and I hand-drew the gold border with a gel pen. I mixed some Create A Shade pearl paint with water and spritzed it over the top of everything plus added a few other touches of straight paint to some of the splatters to give them a little more oomph.

The sentiment reads, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. ~Eleanor Roosevelt"

I don't do a lot with these roses because I mail most of my cards.  Since I will be hand-delivering this one, I went all out with flower, gems, and pearls.  Liquid Glass is my friend!!

Time to get ready for the party!

Until next time,