Monday, August 20, 2012

Operation Write Home and CAS-ual Fridays challenge cards

This week's Operation Write Home Stars and Stamps sketch challenge was a fairly easy one because I'd already colored the stamps during our Mt. Rainier trip.

Here's the sketch.  And for those not familiar with working from sketches, the heart merely stands for any embellishment.

Here's my first card. Since we were actually in the 90s (!!!) up here in the Pacific Northwest, I was really thinking forward toward fall!  
The double cardstock DCWV, the paper is BoBunny, the sentiment, which I stamped with Stampin' Up's Early Espresso and colored with my Copic markers, is from Stampendous, and the leaf embellishment, which isn't as glaringly glossy as the camera makes it look (that center is a silvery gold metallic), is from stash.  This is card #72, in Tartan Magnolia's 100 cards in 100 days challenge.  

Then I flipped the sketch  on its side.  
The cardstock is DCWV, the paper is BoBunny and from stash; the stamp, which I colored with my Copics. is from Stampabilities; and the paper leaf embellishment is from stash.  I colored the glow background more raggedy than usual because Snoopy's very informal, especially in this situation.  :)   Card 100.73

This week's CAS-ual Friday challenge was something seen either on or by the sea.  Which was a bit of a dilemma, since the coast is one of my favorite places, so I have a LOT of stamps that I could've used. I decided to go with this one, because it doesn't need designer papers and lots of embellishments. 
The blue cardstock and ink are both Stampin' Up's Midnight Muse, the stamp, which I picked up at Stacy's Scrap Shack in Lincoln City, Oregon a few months ago, is from Impression Obsession, and I embossed the background cardstock with my Cuttlebug Swiss dots. Card 100.74

The above cards are for OWH; then I made two personal ones. This first one is for the artist who not only creates such beautiful covers for my Oregon coast Shelter Bay books, but also sends me the watercolor paintings when my publisher returns them to him.  And he refuses to let me pay!  How generous is that?
The cardstock is Midnight Muse and the paper is from Echo Park;  I stamped the now retired Stampin' Up stamp with Color Box Moody Blues, and  I can't remember who makes the sentiment. Note to acrylic stamp makers: you might want to put your company name on the backsheet so those of us who lose the packaging can pass it on.  Card 100.75 (and 3/4 of the way to my goal!)

This card had me really nervous because I made it as a request from a friend to make for a family member, an Army Colonel, who recently earned his Master's Degree from the War College.  Not only did I want to acknowledge his service and accomplishment, I also wanted to make a card my friend would be proud to send.
The cardstock is Bazzill Admiral Blue, the paper's from BoBunny, and the sentiment, which is an Andrew Jackson quote, is a sticker from stash.  Here's the inside: 
The liner is a deep ivory that was in my cardstock scrap stash. I embellished the outer three borders with my Martha Steward card folder, stamped the My Favorite Things sentiment in Memento Nautical Blue, and the paper brads are from Candi.  Card 100.76

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Trip to Mt. Rainier and OWH and CAS-ual Fridays challenge cards

Last week Sweetie and I got away for a few days at Mt. Rainier.  Although the mountain hovers over our neighborhood, it's always special to actually get up on it.
On our May, June, and July trips to the Oregon coast, where my Shelter Bay books are set, we passed this sign many times:
 This trip we received a slightly different warning:

We were fortunate to find Muir cabin, set on two isolated acres of land in an old growth forest.  Although it's only two miles from the National Park entrance, except for a day trip up on the mountain, we didn't see another single person the entire time we were staying there.  
You can see more photos from the link above, but this one below is the view from the master bedroom bed.  (The other bedroom looks out into the forest.)  
And this is what you see when you first walk out of the bedroom in the morning.  It was so relaxing, we could feel everyday life and stress just melting away from the moment we arrived. And although we took board games and cards to make up for a lack of TV reception, we didn't even open them.  We just talked, and cooked, and read, and I got some coloring done.  
Which brings me to this week's cards:  

The first one,was for the CAS-ual Friday blog, which called for a Clean and Simple square card. 
 The base cardstock is DCWV, the paper is from graphic45, and the stamp, which I colored with my Copics, is from Penny Black.  It's also card #67 in Tartan Magnolia's 100 cards in 100 days challenge.  

This card is for Operation Write Home's Sunday Stars and Stamps sketch challenge.  You can see the sketch design by clicking on the link.  
The paper's from BoBunny and Fancy Pants design, the cardstock is DCWV, and the stamp, again colored with Copics, is from Stampabilities.  Card 100.68

I've been putting off coloring this sleeping bear, because the fur was puzzling me, but the magic of the forest and music of the creek tumbling over mossy rocks gave a boost to my mojo, so I finally tried it and am pleased with how it turned out.  The stamp is from Stampabilities, the paper's from BoBunny, and I colored it with my Copics.  The sentiment is from Hero Arts OWH collection.  Card 100.69
The minute I saw this darling Penny Black stamp I HAD to have it.  But what really makes it work for me is the fun sentiment, from Mark's Finest Papers.  The cardstock is DCWV, the paper's from Basic Grey and graphic45, and I used three paper Candi brads.  Card 100.70
Another darling fluffy kitty Penny Black stamp, which I had to have the minute I saw it.  The cardstock is DCWV (I am so determined to use those stacks up!), the paper's from graphic45, and the sentiment is Penny Black. It's also card 100.71
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sample cards I made for Operation Write Home's Midweek Throwdown

I'm so honored to have been invited to make sample children's birthday cards for this Operation Write Home's Midweek Throwdown challenge!  OWH is a fabulous organization of card makers who make blank-inside cards for deployed troops to send back home to family, friends, and loved ones. Also, we make cards of appreciation for men and women serving overseas.  While I enjoy making all types of cards and participating in various challenges,  I find myself more drawn to focusing on kids for three very personal reasons. 

Although I know we've all thought about parents having to leave their children to go to war (who hasn't  teared up watching those reunions on the news or YouTube?), the first time it really hit home was when a publisher sent me on an Authors at Sea cruise where readers got to hang out with their favorite writers on a seven day cruise along the "Mexican Riviera."  Stories were shared, games were played, tourist sites visited, way too much food eaten, and a grand time was had by all.

Afterwards, while I was waiting at my gate at LAX to return home, a stuffed purple Barney fell out of a pack worn by a soldier standing next to me.  I bent down, picked it up, and stuffed it back in.  But her pack was so loaded, it fell out again. And again.  As we tried to keep Barney where he belonged, she told me that she was returning from Iraq on leave and was anxious to see her eighteen-month-old baby girl, who was living with her mom and had started walking while she'd been away from home.  If that wasn't enough to tug heartstrings, while sharing photos of her darling daughter in ruffly pink dresses, she told me that her husband, who'd been home on leave, had just returned to Afghanistan.  Rather than spend that precious time together, they'd opted to stagger their leaves so their daughter would have the most days with a parent.  

The next occasion was when we were assigned a female solider through the Soldiers' Angels program.  The deal is you "adopt" a military man or woman who might not have family support -- for various reasons, including the cost of sending care packages -- during their deployment.  (Btw, as I write this, they have 184 soldiers who may never get any mail on their waiting list.)  We sent weekly letters and monthly packages.  Over the years we "adopted" soldiers, a sailor, an airman, and a Marine, but this was our first single mom, so I started making cards for her to send home to her young son. 

Then I became friends with a soldier whose blog from Iraq I stumbled across while researching my High Risk romantic military thrillers.  She and her husband had chosen to be deployed together in Iraq while her two daughters (one still a baby) stayed with her mom. Jessica Scott has, since joining the Army right out of high school, risen to company commander, and, while still in the military, has not only written for the New York Times, but has become a published author for Bantam books.  She's also a lovely person and the type of smart, wicked crazy overachiever our country is fortunate to have on our side.  

So, whenever I make cards for kids, these women and their children are always in my mind.  And heart.
The cardstock for this card is from DCWV, the darling monster paper is from Doddlebug, the polka dots from EP, and the stamp, which I colored with my Copics, and sentiment are from Hero Arts.  The brads are from stash and I added the googly eyes for a fun finishing touch.  This is card #62 in Tartan Magnolia's 100 cards in 100 days challenge.
Peanuts are my favorite go-to stamps, because they can often be age and gender neutral.  This one was definitely made with a child in mind. The paper is from stock I got in a birthday paper pack years ago.  I think from Paper Wishes.  I colored the Stampabilities stamp and sentiment to match the colors, and because I didn't have the right color brads, I punched out fake brads with a paper punch and reversed the order of the colors from the balloons. Card 100.63
This metallic paper, which I chose because the circles echoed the circles on the bi-plane's wings, is from stash scraps, the stamp is from Stampabilities, and the sentiment is from Inky Antics.   I stamped one of the clouds, but since the name of the company isn't on the acrylic stamp folder, I can't remember where I got it. I drew the other two freehand, one to cover up a little drop of red Copic ink that got onto the sky.  As I've always said, mistakes are merely embellishment opportunities.  :)   I also double-stacked the clouds to give a bit more dimension.  Card 100.64
This fish and bowl are from a BasicGrey card kit, the cardstock is from DCWV's bright pack,  the paper is from BoBunny, and I printed the sentiment on my computer.  Again, I cut three tiny circles with a paper punch to fit in the open spaces on the fish scale paper.  Card 100.65
And last, but definitely not least, this set of papers, stickers, and sentiments from We R Memory Keepers, is one of my favorites because it's bright,  cheery and reminds me of fun days spent in Mexico City years ago. Card 100.66  (And now at the 2/3 point in the challenge!)

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Maeve Binchy, painting, and this week's cards

The sad news of the week was that the fantabulous Maeve Binchy, who was one of the reasons I became a writer, passed on.  One of the highlights of my career was having A Woman's Heart, the first in my Irish trilogy, in a display with one of her novels in the duty free shop at the Shannon, Ireland, airport several years ago.  I read in USA Today that she'd recently turned in what will be her final (weep) book, and you can bet I'll pre-ordering it. On Lavender Lane appeared on the NYT bestseller list with Minding Frankie, her previous novel, in January, and the idea of appearing on the same page in the New York Times with such a beloved literary giant was truly mindboggling.  She will be dearly missed.

 I've spent most of the past week climbing up and down ladders, painting our breakfast nook Benjamin Moore's Lip Gloss coral, which is as yummy as it sounds.  I've moved on to the foyer and great room, which are in Wythe Blue, a midtone sea blue/green that was Benjamin Moore's 2012 color of the year and after getting it up on two walls, I can see why. It's beyond gorgeous and when I'm done, I'll share photos. Painting, I've found, is great for story plotting, since doing tedious work for hours on end allows my mind to wander. 

Now. . . on to the cards!

This first card was for Cas-ual Friday's challenge to use navy, aqua, and lime on a clean and simple card.  (Which I just realized, oops, closed at noon today.  But here it is anyway.)
I don't know if you can see them, but I embossed dots on the 140# white paper from Mark's Finest Papers with my Cuttlebug.  The navy cardstock is Bazzill Admiralty; the lime is from DCVW.  The image, which I stamped with Memento Nautical Blue and colored with Copics, is from Hero Arts, and I printed the sentiment out on my computer.  This is card #57 in Tartan Magnolia's 100 cards in 100 days challenge. 

Sticking to CAS, this card for the CASology challenge #4, using a bird as an inspiration, took the most trial and error because, although this is one of my go-to stamps, I usually use red and white polka dot paper as a base.  At first I tried embossing the front with hearts, which were large enough to totally overwhelm poor Woodstock.  Then I tried my Cuttlebug Swiss Dots, which is my fave folder, but they, too, seemed to take the focus from him.  As did putting a red border all the way around the edge.

So, here's the final card and although I'm not one to use embellishments overly much, I'll have to admit that my fingers were just itching to fill up some of that white space  toward the top with some red Candi paper brads.  Which I resisted. Barely. 
The image, which I colored with Copics, is from Stampabilities and the sentiment, inked in Ancient Page Cardinal, is from Magenta. The border was cut from Mark's Finest Paper's yummy Cherry Slush.  Card 100.58

Next I moved on to using pretty papers, which I'll freely admit being totally addicted to. This first card was for Operation Write Home's Stars and Stamps sketch challenge #131, which you can see here.  Since Sandy told us they were short on Missing You cards, I decided to go with that theme. 
I used black DCWV cardstock and the paper's from the always wonderful BoBunny.  The sentiment, which I stamped with Versafine Vintage Sepia, is from Hero Arts OWH collection.  Since mistakes are always embellishment opportunities, when I accidentally stamped the sentiment too high, I used a bit of the striped paper to underline it.  ;)  Card 100.59

Also, for OWH, the Midweek Throwdown challenge was for an Any Hero card. These aren't the usual blank inside cards for troops to send back home, but a note written directly to a soldier, sailor, Marine, airman, or member of the Coast Guard.  Oozak's challenge this month is a fall colored card, and since so many people's favorite season is fall, and most of our heroes are deployed in places where they won't get to experience it in person, I combined the two challenges in this card:
I triple matted with Stampin' Up's Early Espresso and a pumpkin colored DCWV cardstock; the paper is BoBunny; the image, which I stamped on DCWV linen cardstock with Stampin' Up's Early Espresso is from Inkadinkado; and the sentiment, also stamped with Early Espresso, is another from Hero Arts OWH collection.  Card 100.60 

And finally, this card is for SpeedyTV's Sketch with a Twist challenge #5, which I (YAY!) won last week, as you can see from my snazzy new badge in the left-hand column. 
Although I used Mark's Finest papers for several of my cards this week, this particular cardstock and sparkly paper are from DCWV and the stamp, which I colored with Copics, is from Stampendous.  I also found a little raised pink embellishment which I used for the button and the pink and white twine is from stash.  I was so excited to find this stamp with lots of different texting words because I tend to make more cards for kids than adults, and tween/teen cards are always more challenging. This is especially fun because a quick change in color and paper, and it becomes a card for a boy. For those who don't read  "text" it says Happy Birthday To You! Card 100.61

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