Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tis the Season!!

Happy New Year! I can't believe we are already here, but I'm very happy to be participating in one of my favorite blog hops of the year, so I'm glad you're here!

I thought I'd do a little crafty review of this year - so much has happened in our industry this year that's worth noting - I thought - why let the news channels have all the fun - we have a lot to celebrate in the stamping world!

  • Jennifer McGuire's Share Handmade Kindness Campaign - This really is why we all stamp, and I love her for doing this - this really is what she is about - and it's a force for good in the crafty world.  
  • The year of watercolor - this was the year we went all crazy for Zig Clean Color Markers, Koi travel sets, Gansai Tambi Japanese watercolor and a million other H2O inspired mediums - like my beloved Brusho. I love this because watercolor is one of the most economical coloring mediums around, and the imperfect look is one of the things I love the most. If you haven't seen Dawn Woleslagle's watercolor - prepare to be in awe.
  • The MISTI - technically this came out in 2014 - but it really took hold this year and became more widely available - I didn't get mine until this year, and it's changed my stamping life, for sure. Now that the MISTI Mini is available (pre-order) - I can tell you that I love the mini even more than the original - smaller footprint, good companion to the full sized MISTI when I have a multi-part project to set up.
  • Periscope - I love the little crafty community on Periscope and the positive environment it is for crafters to spontaneously interact with each other, ask questions, and get to know each other in a more casual setting.
  • They're baaacccckkkkk - a few oldies but goodies came roaring back this year: Shaker cards & sequins, string art & embroidery, gold and silver everything, and yes, coloring books (see below).I'm still holding out hope for that big stash of eyelets we all have. Don't pretend you don't have some.
  • Punch board mania - the world gave us ALLLLL the punchboards - envelope, gift box, gift bag. I like that there seems to be a refocus on economical tools that help us use what we have in a new way.
  • Coloring books - I LOVE this trend - it's sort of mainstreaming what we do on cards, and it's so fun. A few of my favorites include The Secret Garden - Artist Edition. This one is printed on thick cardstock, only on one side, and they can be pulled out for framing. I love this one from The Casual Artist - it has some Zentangle, which I love, but also whimsical and fanciful designs that just speak to me. For some bizarre reason, it's also available on Kindle, which cracks me up and makes me worry about people at the same time. 
  • Bright, beautiful new Distress Ink Colors - in my opinion the Color of the Year for 2015 was Blueprint Sketch. Don't even THINK about arguing with me about this - it is the unquestionable truth. 
  • The Curvy Keepsake Box Die - this has got to be one of the best dies ever made. People have done the most creative things with this die - look at this Pinterest board and look at these little animals

I could go on - but it was a great crafty year. In addition to all this, I bet you had some great connections with crafty friends - online or in person, as did I.  Can't wait to see what 2016 brings.

One of the things I know it's bringing is the new Occasions Mini catalog - and it's full of squee-worthy wonder. I've been sitting on this card for a while and I'm so happy to be able to finally post it, because I really had fun making it.

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Built for Free Using: My Stampin Blog

In addition to the supplies above, I used these Koi watercolors to paint the couple. I did a little video for you too - you can watch that here if you don't see the player below.

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Now for the good stuff.

The purpose of this blog hope is simply to thank you - our stamping community for stopping by our blogs throughout the year. Every visit and every comment means so much to us - we love every interaction with each of you.

So thank you. I appreciate you so much.

Here are my thank you gifts, which three people can win by following the instructions below. You may comment until January 5th.

Second, I'm giving away TWO mystery boxes - these are large Flat Rate Boxes STUFFED with goodies. These will include assortments of stamps, ribbon, dies - all sorts of treasures! Each box will contain more than $50 worth of crafty goodness!

Here's what you have to do to win:

Comment on this post with ANY one of the following:

  1. Tell me something you'd like to learn in 2016 - anything - not necessarily craft related
  2. Tell me the name of your crafty BFF
  3. A crafty tip of some sort - anything that makes your crafting easier
  4. Tell me about your pets
  5. Share a favorite recipe
  6. Share a New Year's Resolution
  7. Share a wish for the year
Be sure and include your email address in your comment so that I can contact you if you win.  

Thank you again for just being here - and I wish you the best for your new year.

Please go through this list of amazing people participating - all of them have presents for you.

Lawn Fawn

Scrapbook Cards & Today Magazine

Scrapbook Adhesives by 3L

Reverse Confetti

Technique Tuesday

CAS-ual Friday Stamps

Verve Stamps

Donna Salazar

Richard Garay


Stamp Simply Ribbon Store

Inchie Arts

Avocado Arts

OHscrap (Bossy Joscie)

Rubermoon Stamps

Latina Crafter

A Jillian Vance Design


Your Everyday Stamps

Latisha Yoast

AJ Otto

Kimberly Crawford

Julia Stainton

Laurie Willison

Teri Anderson

Jennifer Gallacher

Vera Yates

Wanda Guess

Nichol Magouirk

Kelly Klapstein

Anabelle O’Malley

Kim Watson

Chari Moss

Laura Bassen

>>>>> Lydia Fiedler - you are here! <<<<<

Lisa Adametz

Alice Wertz

Daniela Dobson

Jenn Shurkus

Lori Craig

Amy Tsuruta

Lisa Henke

Margie Higuchi

Lee Murphy

Lori Tecler

Dina Kowal

Loretta Lock

Darsie Bruno

Marcie Sharp

Veronica Zalis

Barbara Anders

Maria Levine

Dana Joy

Melody Rupple

Keri Sereika

Asia King

Jennifer Ingle

Yvonne Van de Grijp

Beth Pingry

Erica Houghton

Mary-Ann Maldonado

Piali Biswas

Ashley Newell

Nicole Maki

Julee Tilman

Leigh Penner

Christina Griffiths

Lindsay Amrhein

Laura Williams

Debbie Seyer

Christine Emberson

Kerry Urbatch

Linda Lucas

Tosha Leyendekker

Giovana Smith

Bunny Vance

Stacey Schafer

Lee Ann Barrett

Ruby Naz

Julie Dinn

Jill Hawkins

Christiana Reulling

Jodi Collins

Gracie Chavez

Michelle Woerner

Tania Willis

Karisse Schilling

Lori McAree

Ashley Harris

Emily Leiphart

Heidi Blankenship

Coralynn Murray

Tenia Nelson

Pretty Philosophie

Jillian Vance

Misti Oblander

Ceal Pritchett

Thank you so much for coming, and I sincerely wish you the happiest New Year ever!


Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Unsaid

I didn't get to say goodbye to my friend Leslie, who passed away unexpectedly on Christmas Day.

Leslie is the wonderful, kind stamping friend who adopted Bobra. If you don't know that story, stop reading now and read this post before you go on so you know the kind of person I'm talking about.

Leslie is the friend who was almost always the first person to comment on every one of my blog posts.

She's the friend who was at the center of our little Twitter community that started more than 8 years ago. She was the most faithful tweeter of the group, and always hopped on to tell us good morning before she headed out for work. We had the greatest conversations in this group - funny, thought-provoking, and full of art and wonder (and a little complaining about work and award shows too).

We were early Twitter adopters, and so we lived through some things that modern Twitter users don't have any experience with. The crazy spammy robot accounts that we were reporting hundreds of times a day - and even that was a bonding experience and grew our community when people popped in to say "me too!"

There used to be all these outages too and also a tweet limit, at which point you'd go into timeout for a while. We called it Twitter jail. Leslie and I worked together as beta testers for Tweetdeck - which was our favorite Twitter dashboard by far - it made this sweet little birdie tweet when there was a new tweet from a friend, and it provoked a Pavlovian response in all of us - it was a joyful thing to know that one of our circle had something to say. It is such an interesting group of people.

We became very acquainted with each other's routines. So acquainted, in fact, that one time when Leslie got really sick when she lived in Maryland that we all actually found a way to notify people near her so they could check on her.

We grieved with her over the loss of her sweet cat Koshka. We loved her pictures from the farmer's market where she sold her cards - gorgeous veggies, all the dogs that came by - just such a great slice of her life that she shared. People who dismiss social media as trivial haven't had the joy of those real connections we all made that made our friends seem not quite so far away.

 We set up tweet-ups, where our little circle of friends started to meet each other. We joked that the only way any of us would believe that any of the others were "real" was if someone we'd met in real life had met that person. So my friend Mary Dawn, Angelique and Leslie had all met. My friend Bunny had met Leslie, as had our friend Patti Backer. I had met my friend Patsy in Florida, but none of the others had, so only the people I'd really met could count her as real, and so on.

Leslie and I talked about how once the two of us finally met - after a 7 year friendship - then the entire circle would have a first level connection to all of the others. It was just meant to be.

And I'm so incredibly grateful that it finally happened last year. Leslie had moved from Maryland (with Bobra in tow) to Dayton to care for her father after she retired, and became part of an incredible group of crafty friends in Cincinnati who get together a few times a year just to stamp, and laugh, cry, eat things that are bad for us, and do all those things that we stampers all do. She was kind enough to include me last year. When I saw her at the airport - it honestly was like we had known each other in person the entire time. We already knew so much about each other, and we fell in together like people who saw each other every day. We went to her house for a visit with Bobra, during which I cried, of course. PS - it's hard to take a selfie with a cat.

That is the most special little kitty in the world, and our friendship had even more meaning because of our connection to that crazy cat.

She absolutely hated having her photo taken, but at this special event, every now and then we could convince her we needed a private selfie just for our memories.  I'd never have published this before, but I think she'd let me now.

Leslie, me, Jennifer bringing in boxes of stamps.
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There was no one who loved a random act of kindness more than Leslie. Even in the days before her death, we were plotting a few together. And she never wanted to be thanked for any of the millions of generous, kind things she did for people. She just wanted people to be comfortable and happy.

Everything she did, she did with an incredibly charming mix of humor, snark and kindness.

She was a challenge addict, and was an incredible host of many of our Splitcoast challenges, and a participant in many more.

When I saw her again in April for a crafty get together, she described (with joy) some of the things she had done for people who played in her sketch challenges. She was SUCH an encouraging person to new stampers, or cardmakers who lacked confidence in their skills. If you needed a boost, Leslie was your girl. Also, if you needed a really smart-assed and hilarious card, she was also your girl.

In the days before she died, we talked about normal, everyday things.

The things you talk about if you don't know that just around the corner, suddenly, there's a place where you won't be able to tell her the other things.

Like that you were so glad you were friends. That your life was infinitely better because she was in it. How you were so grateful to her for all the nice things she'd done for you, and especially for all the great people she'd brought into your life. How the fact that she took Bobra was one of the things I treasured most in my life, and how it made me happy every time she posted a photo of him. How I loved the way she talked about her sons, and how the way she busted into a big smile every time she mentioned them made me want to cry. How amazed I was when she taught me how to store the blending foam under the Distress Ink minis. How I loved how sweet she was if I needed to borrow something from her. How worried I was about her the weekend she was sick and stopped tweeting. How I'd be happy to do anything she needed me to do, any time, any where if she'd just asked. How completely broken hearted I'd be if I woke up one day and she was gone.

You know. Those things.


Friday, December 25, 2015

All Is Calm, All Is Bright

Merry Christmas!!

I hope you have a great holiday week. I always take the week after Christmas off - it's a quieter week than the week leading up to Christmas, and there's no pressure to do any sort of holiday tasks. We can just enjoy the weather, the decorations and of course, the fruitcake and leftovers.

Christmas really snuck up on me this year. It feels like yesterday that I was posting my annual Christmas card breakdown on my blog for 2014! But I guess it was really 364 yesterdays.

So here goes for this year's Christmas card. This year was a record setter for me - I made and sent 200 cards this year - my highest ever. And I can say - it was also the easiest year, because I have the MISTI. Multiples are soooo easy with the MISTI.

But before we get to the process, let's talk stamps and envelopes.

I was THRILLED to see USPS' Peanuts stamps this year. They are so, so, sweet. I'm so used to traditional Christmas postage, and always love their elegant designs, but I thought the Peanuts stamps were just what we all needed this year. I snapped them up in November. Thank you USPS!

Also, I grabbed a big stack of DSP out of my Scrapbox and made some envelopes with the envelope punch board just for fun. That punch board is the best $20 I've ever spent. I didn't grab Christmas paper either - I didn't care that they didn't match my card - I just thought a little splash of color would be fun.

Here is a stack of 180 of some finished cards. I always stack them in tens like this so I can see what I have left to do very quickly. (I was sad at this point because we were watching Longmire and realized we only have three episodes left. We are saving them. )

Here's the way I had the background stamp set up in my MISTI for the stamping. I got it to work so that I could easily line up the stamp with the edge of the top panel at an angle - this made for really fast stamping while watching holiday movies and our favorite shows in early December. 

And now that it's Christmas Day, I can reveal the finished card.  I used Post-It Masking tape to create my tree - from the top corner of the top panel to the center of the card. Then I sponged just the edge with Tempting Turquoise ink to create my tree. After I did that for all the fronts, then it was easy as pie to pop them all in the MISTI and stamp the Dots for Days in Real Red ink.

I actually designed this card 100% based on the sentiment I used from Wonderland. I specifically wanted a calm, and bright card, so the soothing white space and the beautiful aqua/red combo I thought fit that bill perfectly.

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I was excited when my friend Jennifer (superjen on Splitcoast) said this was her favorite of all my Christmas cards. I think it might be mine too. But I think I say that every year, so you shouldn't listen to me.

Now let's talk about getting them in the mail. I decided instead of making a video of the card this year, I'd make a video for you showing you how I manage my Christmas list throughout the year, so when the time comes it takes literally two minutes for me to print all my labels for my cards and know that my list is 100% up to date and current.

I think this is something that people spend a lot of time on, and I know a lot of people have manual, offline lists they manage - and that's no way to live, people! So I hope you enjoy this little tip.

I greatly enjoy the process of making these every year, and consider them a fun, handmade gift to people near and far.

I hope your Christmas is calm and bright. I appreciate everyone who has come here to my blog in 2015 - my customers, class students and all my stampy friends. You are my tribe.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

One Tape To Rule Them All

I've found my preciousssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss....

I'm so excited to have found a masking tape that WORKS with watercolor.

I've tried it all. Painter's tape. Frisket tape, you name it. They all leaked, especially with my more abstract watercolor where I like to put down a good amount of water in shapes and then let the colors run.

Painter's tape I found to be the worst, along with "artist's tape" I bought at art supply stores. It has ridges and texture that lend themselves to inviting under-tape leaks.

But THIS TAPE - Frog Tape (Delicate Surface) - is perfect for that clean, sharp, edge. I'm in love.

Dina used it in her watercolor ornament tutorial and I was intrigued. But I never take anyone's word for anything - I have a scientist's heart - so I bought some and tried it. It's amazing.  PLUS - they make it in SHAPES, like chevrons - SQUEE! Check that out here.

Here are my test studies on the worthiness of the tape. The watercolor I used is Koi, the brushes are Silver Brushes and the sentiment is from So You (retired).

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And here's my video tutorial.

And I wanted to share what might be my last recipe share of 2015. If you came to my Customer Appreciation Christmas party, you already know how amazing Mandola's caponata is. We ate buckets of this at the party and it was simply amazing. AND it's garlic-free, which is unusual for Italian recipes, so if you are garlic-averse, you'll love it even more. It's one of those things you cannot stop eating, so if you're having a holiday party - this is a great recipe people will rave about.

Mandola’s Caponata

½ C Olive Oil
1 medium Eggplant, skin on, cut into ½” dice
2 C Celery, cut to ¼” dice
1 large onion, cut to ¼” dice
2 TBS tomato paste
2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
⅓ C red wine vinegar
1.5 tsp sugar
1 C water
kosher salt, black pepper to taste
¼ C pitted halved kalamata olives
¼ C pitted halved green olives
1 TBS capers
2 TBS roasted pine nuts
1 C chopped fresh Italian parley
2 TBS chopped fresh oregano

  • Heat olive oil on high in a large pan until it sizzles - about 3 minutes
  • Reduce the heat to medium, add eggplant, and leave on one side to cook for 4 minutes. Stir, and cook another 4 minutes until it’s very tender. Remove the eggplant, and set aside.
  • Add celery and onion to the same pan and add more oil if necessary. Saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Return the eggplant to the pan with the celery and onion.
  • Add tomato paste, vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and add the olives, capers, pine nuts and parsley. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  • Bring to room temperature and serve with sliced rustic bread.
And remember - eat eggplant during the day - or if you have an extreme nicotine sensitivity like I do (eggplant is a tobacco cousin and you can read about that here) - you'll be awake for days and ruin your holidays :).

Or if you need to study for an exam - eat a large bowl of this at 10 PM.

Hope your week is going swimmingly.


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