Jun 24, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Kate Shudrova (Day 2)

This post is a part of a series on improving my card making by studying other designers' cards. If you're unfamiliar with this series, you can learn more about it here

Today I'm continuing my study of the super talented Kate Shudrova. By the way, Kate's has been posting a bunch of new cards on her Instagram feed. You don't have to join IG to see them. Check them out here



  • Using a kraft card base with the popped-up burst of flowers is a fantastic combination.
  • Placing the sentiment in the lower corner is unexpected and it works. I wouldn't have thought of that.
  • Adding white to a kraft card always brightens up the kraft.
  • See the stitching on the left of the card? It's another unexpected detail that adds visual interest without detracting from the clean and "simple" look. I also like how Kate only stitched over edge of the floral arrangement but kept the rest of the arrangement popped up.
  • It's gorgeous!! 

  • Haven't used a kraft card base in awhile and I think I'll use them more often. It's a nice change from white.
  • Love the placement of the sentiment. Kate's works a bit better because her main image is larger and almost points to the sentiment. But I like mine too. I'll use this layout again.
  • My focal image is smaller than Kate's and when I placed the hydrangea against the kraft panel it looked a little lost. It needed something to tie it to the sentiment. So I added some white gouache paint speckles and I think that worked well. 
  • Kate's card has a beautiful selection of reds and blues. I decided to mimic that by varying the colors of the petals. It's not a particularly "realistic" rendering of a hydrangea, but this is me, and I'm not Hallmark!
  • Keep reading....
Supplies for my card:  Essentials by Ellen by Julie Ebersole Mondo Hydrangea stamp and die (an all time favorite); sentiment from Abstract Builder by Pinkfresh Studios; and Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Well, this was quite the process. I started out studying this gorgeous card that Kate recently posted: 

Everything about this card speaks to me -- the shine, the one layer, no embellishments. You could walk into an upscale boutique and find this. 

Despite numerous attempts, using different sentiments, papers, watercolors, metallic paints, and ink pads, I just couldn't make anything that I would send to anyone or share online. A lot of paper died in the effort. 

I learned that to make a card like this, you need the perfect sentiment, the ability to paint in just the right spot, and the right combination of paper and metallic paints. Kudos to Kate, but it will be awhile before I'll try this again!

EDITED TO ADD:  Breaking news on Kate's card. Turns out she used foil to add that gorgeous shine. Kate told me that she used a digital brush or image, printed out on a laser printer, and then foiled. Genius.

Jun 20, 2019

Positive Mental Vibes

I just love the set Voices in My Head by Julie Ebersole! I also love Pinkfresh Studio's Abstract Builder. As soon as they came, I started fooling around with both of them and ended up with this quick card. Used a small splatter type stamp to frame the sentiment in two colors and added the heart embellishment.

Busy day, so I'll cut this short.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  No complaints, except for the heat. Yikes! BTW, I need a Voices in My Head by Julie Ebersole, Volume II!!

Jun 18, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Kate Shudrova (Day One)

Learning Through Inspiration is back! This is a series on improving my card making by studying other designers' cards. If you're unfamiliar with this series, you can learn more about it here.

* * *

Today I'm introducing some lessons learned by studying Ekaterina a/k/a Katherine (Kate) Shudrova, who blogs at Little Things. It's the perfect name for her blog as every one of her cards is a little piece of design happiness. Kate is also on Instagram as Thingiewingie, and on Flickr.

Kate lives in Russia. Lately, I find that some of my favorite new-to-me designers are from outside the US, particularly in Russia and the countries nearby. There's a style to their work -- light and airy -- that I love.

Kate is not new to me -- I've been a huge fan of Kate's work for a long time, and am always thrilled when she posts a card -- which isn't as often as I would like! If you check out her cards, you'll see that they are "clean and simple," but often have an unusual layout or an interesting use of dies. She adds fun details, and the result is fun and fresh. I love everything she makes! 



  • The layout -- I never think to cut a layer on angles. It adds a lot of interest without a lot of bulk. 
  • The sewing on the top and bottom white layer is the perfect touch. Again, as her blog is titled, it's those little things that Kate does that I love so much.
  • Solid flowers -- Kate uses a lot of solid images and it's a refreshing break from all the coloring I've been seeing and been doing.
  • White and kraft is a great combination. 
  • Except for the sewing, this card is reproducible. I can do this! 


  • I pretty much set out to copy Kate's card. Along the way, I made a few changes, some were intentional and some were not. Take a moment to look at both cards. Can you spot the changes?
  • I learned that these changes make a difference. In general, everything Kate did added to the softness of her card, while mine ended up bolder.
  • The color and placement of my flowers differ. Kate used blue and yellow and I substituted a pink/coral combination for the blue. Kate's colors are a bit softer and that's a personal preference. Either one works.
  • But notice where Kate placed her yellow flower. It's slightly higher than the blue flower. When I stamped my card, I didn't notice that and placed the flowers on the same plane. Kate's is a bit more interesting -- the eye moves around the card more easily.
  • Kate added a few light splatters on her card and I opted not to do so. I just didn't want to risk messing up the card, and I don't think it made a big difference -- although the light splatters add to the softer look of Kate's card.
  • Kate chose a finer sentiment, which is consistent with her paler colors -- mine is bolder and goes better with my color palette. 
  • Kate added some fun sewing with loose threads on the top and bottom of the white panel. I don't sew. While I prefer her cleaner look, this is another style preference. It's neater and easier to mail and just plain fun. 
  • Finally, look at the bottom of Kate's white panel. The lower left corner does not extend all the way down the length of the kraft cardbase. Mine does. I think this does make a difference -- Kate's card looks more balanced. 
  • It's amazing what you notice when you really study a card. Go ahead and look at a card you like, close your laptop or phone, and make a copy. See what you notice about the first card after you are done! It's a great exercise.
My supplies: Altenew A Beautiful Day. Sentiment is from Concord & 9th.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy! I so appreciate Kate's willingness to let me post her card. I'll be back with a couple of more posts focusing on Kate's fantastic cards. 

It's so great to be back stamping. I'm feeling 100% and am thrilled to say that! 

Jun 13, 2019


Recently bought Timeless Tulips from Mama Elephant. (Part of my pre surgery binge!) It's an older set, but I've had my eye on it for a long time. It's, well, timeless! No regrets on this purchase.

Decided to keep my first card with this stamp simple -- stamp on watercolor paper, emboss in white, and add some watercolor. Then I added the little heart and the sentiment, trimmed, and adhered with foam tape on slate cardstock.

MOOD WHEN DONE: I'm sitting here feeling particularly grateful for every single good thing. I hope you all have enough good in your life to feel grateful!

Spent a couple of hours yesterday sending cards to some folks who need a lift. I find that sending all this paper, rather than let it clog my craft room, is a wonderful lift for me! If you want a card, feel free to email me at imakeitalk@gmail.com and I'll put you on my list! 

Jun 7, 2019

Flora & Fauna Thank You

Went on a crafty shopping spree before my recent surgery (it's the new hidden cost of health care!), and wow, I have a lot of new-to-me things in the house. So, when I needed a thank you card, of course I reached for a set that I've had for a long time because nothing I bought sang to me.

I have limited ability to shop smart.  I take a long time to decide what to get, often filling up shopping carts at multiple stores (sorry), and then very carefully pressing spend. And I still make mistakes! Some of the stamps I bought are much larger (or much smaller) than my brain processed. Or they don't seem as versatile as I first thought. Or, I try them and am not happy with the results.

--->  Minor life issue, but I would love to hear how you wade through the onslaught of new products. It's not just that there are so many products, but I miss being able to eyeball the products in a brick and mortar store. 

In any event, for this card, I masked off a space for a watercolored background and then stamped images and a sentiment from Flora & Fauna's Graphic Flowers set (which appears to be retired) on watercolor paper.  No coloring required with this technique.

And then I was done.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Good! All quiet over here. Recovery is going well...

Jun 5, 2019

Where I Chat About Math on The Foiled Fox Blog...

I made a couple of cards a few weeks ago and, yeah, they are on The Foiled Fox blog today.

I talk about the differences in these cards, how math and design intersect, and generally overthink both cards ... would love if you checked out my post.


May 30, 2019

For Better or for Worse

I'd been awake for 2 hours and no breakfast. I took a shower, but the movement of my arm caused a great deal of pain. It's not going away. I'm dying.

I call out: "Can you please get me some breakfast?"

He comes in the room right away.

"Oh yes, what do you want?"
"Rice Crispies and a banana."

He brings me a bowl of Rice Crispies with milk, and a banana, unpeeled. He knows I can't use my left arm without searing pain. Will the banana strip itself?

"I can't peel the banana. Can you peel it, and slice it, and put it in the cereal?"

He takes it all away and a few minutes later brings me a bowl of Rice Crispies and skim milk, with a sliced banana in the cereal. 

After he walks away, I notice that the spoon isn't the right size. It's a large spoon, not a teaspoon. Who eats cereal with a jumbo spoon?

I call out: "Can you please get me a teaspoon? I can't eat cereal with a large spoon."

He brings me the teaspoon, but doesn't stay long enough to take away the large spoon. It's like he's running away from me. Am I supposed to eat the cereal with a huge spoon sitting there alongside the banana?

I call out: "Can you take away this spoon?"

He comes back and takes away the spoon.

I eat my cereal. It tastes good.

I get up, slowly. My laptop is in the way. I've got an empty bowl in my right hand and my laptop in my left. Searing pain hits my left shoulder area. I shouldn't be carrying this laptop, but I don't want to sit there with a laptop on my lap, and an empty cereal bowl sitting on my lap.

I finish getting up, and the remote control bangs to the wood floor. My phone follows. The blanket is in the way. I move slowly, trying to avoid tripping on the blanket and briefly wonder if my phone is broken.

I walk the one step to the bed and put my laptop on the bed. I carry the empty cereal bowl and spoon to the kitchen, place it on the counter, and walk back. I pick up the unbroken phone and the remote control and get back in the recliner. The pain is excruciating.

He comes back in.

"Do you want your laptop?"


As he hands me my laptop, he says "I'm making veggie chili tonight. Do you want cornbread or biscuits with it?"

We have a freezer full of food. Why is he cooking something else? What I really want is macaroni and cheese with a side of mashed potatoes. Any maybe some bacon sprinkled on top of all of it. I don't want healthy. For a brief moment I just want to be alone. It's not my job to figure out what we will be eating tonight. Just leave me alone.

"We have a freezer full of food. Why make anything else?"

"I want something healthy. We haven't been eating all that great lately."

So now it's my fault. It's my fault that I have a genetic heart disease. It's my fault that the coil in my heart moved and I had to have another surgery to fix the defibrillator -- the device that scares the hell out of me. It's my fault that you asked for hot dogs and tater tots, with a chaser of potato chips, the night before the surgery. It's my fault that you have no idea that cornbread or biscuits are not healthy. They are going to kill you anyway, so you might as well have real chili with real meat with real fat that will clog your real arteries.

I decide to take the high road: "You are doing all the work. Whomever cooks gets to decide what to cook."

"But figuring out what to eat is the hardest part."

Welcome to my world, buddy. I have to figure out what we eat every day. Now it's your turn. Deal with it. I'd been home from the hospital less than 2 hours when I got a bill from the hospital. And the bill is wrong. Despite my pain, I sent off a message to billing and explained why it was wrong. This morning the hospital wrote back. I was right. The bill is gone. There's $48.35 that I earned while in pain and fear. I'm handling everything. You can handle the life changing issue of biscuits or cornbread. And while I'm at it, no one eats chili with biscuits. That's just wrong.

As he leaves to go the grocery store, I call out: "Can you bring me back a frappuccino? With whipped cream?"


I can hear it in the "OK." I know what you are thinking. I need whipped cream like I need a heart attack. I don't care. I don't have clogged arteries and even if I did, I just don't care. Not today. I'll care tomorrow. Or the day after. Or Monday. Monday is a great day to start caring. I want what I want. I deserve whipped cream this morning.


He walks away. I love him so much.


I woke up around 4. I noticed she'd been awake on and off all night. She'd pick up her phone for a second to check the time and, even though she slept in the recliner, the light bothered me. I couldn't get back to sleep. I'm tired and the sun isn't up.

I want to go for a run this morning, before the guy shows up to work on our insulation issues, but I put off the run. I know she'll need me around to help, and I want to go to the grocery store soon. She filled up the freezer with food prior to the surgery, but the stress of another surgery had both of us eating poorly. I need some healthy food. And so does she.

Hmm. She's taking a shower. She must be feeling better. I'm so relieved. I hate seeing her in pain. I'm so worried that she's going to die on me and then.. . Forget it. I can't go there.

Finally finished upgrading our wi-fi so she can watch Netflix. She can't do much else, so this is the one thing I can do to really help.

I hear her calling out. I get up quickly to see what she wants.

"I'm hungry. I want breakfast. Please."

She has politics on. I can't be in the room when she does that. She knows it drives me crazy. But it's on and I don't say anything.

"What do you want?"

She sits there silent for a moment. Then: "Rice Crispies. And can I have a banana too?"


I bring her a bowl of Rice Crispies, with skim milk and a banana. Exactly like she said.

"Can you peel the banana?"

"Ok, do you want it on the side or in the cereal?"

"In the cereal. You know, I have a banana in my cereal all the time now. Remember, I said I really liked a banana with Rice Crispies, so I stopped buying Cheerios and started eating Rice Crispies with a sliced banana in the bowl? I mean I've been eating that every morning for the past 2 weeks? Didn't you notice?"

Must have missed that breaking news. I think it was drowned out by the sound of politics...

I take it all away and a few minutes later bring her a bowl of Rice Crispies and skim milk, with a sliced banana in the bowl.

After I walk away, I hear: "Can you please get me a teaspoon? I can't eat cereal with a large spoon."

I bring her a teaspoon. What do you do with the large one if you don't eat cereal with it? I eat my non fat yogurt with raisins with it all the time. Now that's a good breakfast. I think cereal is junk.

She calls out: "Can you take away this spoon?"

I walk back and take away the spoon. The large spoon. The spoon for which there is no obvious purpose in life.

I come back in.

"Do you want your laptop?"


I want to help. As I hand her the laptop, I say: "I'm making veggie chili tonight. Do you want cornbread or biscuits with it?"

"We have a freezer full of food. Why make something else?"

I'm not having lasagna or any of the other stuff in the freezer. I want something that isn't going to kill me. Or her. For a brief moment I just want to be alone. I want to go for a run, by myself. I want to go to Starbucks, sip a hot black coffee, and read my book. Alone. I don't want Netflix. I want music. I don't want to give her those pills or make dinner or slice a banana or get the small spoon or be here for the insulation guy. I want to get in my car and just keep on driving.

So I say, "We've had a lot of heavy food lately. I want something healthy. It would be good for both of us."

As soon as I say it, I know it was the wrong thing to say.

She tells me to figure it out myself, but as I leave, she calls out: "Can I have a frappuccino? With whipped cream?"


"Thanks, Mikey. I love you."

"I love you too."

I love her so much.


MOOD WHEN DONE: Grateful for the best husband in the world. I'll be back in a couple of weeks (maybe sooner?) with stamping!!