Nov 24, 2015

Just Dandy Studio: Christmas Gift Tags

Just Dandy Studio has some adorable preprinted gift tags, including some great ones for Christmas.  I gussied up this tag a bit, using some other Just Dandy products linked below, but the original tag is pretty awesome as is.

And then I used the tag on this package.

The tiny pom pom trim is adorable.  Made the little flower by following these Martha Stewart directions.   And the doiley makes ribbon unnecessary. Love that!

By the way, this is my last post as a member of Just Dandy Studio's Creative Team as my term is up.  Thanks, Melissa, for including me.  You are a treasure.  
MOOD = Pretty darn cute

Nov 23, 2015

Festive Mr. Fox

Love this little fox.  Downloaded the image, and a few more, at Pink Petticoat.  Love her designs.  I'm sorry that she will not be adding new ones, but the current ones are on sale at great prices.  For example, this fox and three others with sentiments and without, are all available for a total of a 1 pound sterling (less than $2 US dollars).  Instant gratification.

Colored the dude with Copics and added some gold stickles.  So cute.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Well, it would have to be festive, wouldn't it?

Nov 22, 2015

Stamping Destroyed My Life: Chapter 8

Note: To start this story from the beginning, read the Press Release and follow the links at the end end of every chapter. And thanks for reading!

Chapter 8:  "You are something else."

My first thought after I hung up the phone with Kitty was "I am amazing."  My second one was "What will I wear?"

So I cancelled plans to take out Susan Raihala for her birthday lunch.  Susan was a bit obsessed with her "clean up stamping" method, or whatever she called it. Despite this rather scary obsession, I liked her, and we were becoming friends.  I could almost see the fireflies dancing, but I wasn't going there right away.  I had to focus on my business; who knows, maybe she would work for me some day.

So I went shopping. I wanted something professional, but not intimidating, and with just a touch of artistic flair.  Plus, you can never ever go wrong with Dolce & Gabbana, right?

When I got back with this number, I decided to call Gina.  I couldn't help it.  I was bursting.

"Hey, Gina, guess what?!!!!"

"Who's calling please?"

"Oh, sorry, I'm just so excited that I'm beyond beyond.  It's M."

"What's up, M?"

"Gina, guess who called me?"

Gina didn't seem in the mood to guess.

"M, I'm kind of in the middle.  What's up?"

"I'm sorry, Gina.  But Kitty Richman called me!!!!"

"Whose Kitty Richman?"

"You know, Catherine Richman from GDWS?  She told me to call her Kitty."

"What? Wait a minute.  Let me turn off the stove.  I'll be right back."

When she got back on the phone, she said,

"Ok, talk. I've got to hear this.  How does she even know who you are?"

"Didn't I tell you? I wrote to her and Jackson and asked for 5 thousand in cash when I become a top 3 demo.  I don't want a cat. I have fur phobia."

Gina responded, "Fur phobia?  What?  I cannot believe you did that.  What did Catherine say?"

"Gina, she was so nice.  SO nice.  She said she totally understood about the cat issue.  Kitty loves cats, but understands that I can't have one under the circumstances.  She said that GDWS would be delighted to give me 5 thousand instead of a cat when I become a top 3 demo, but not to tell anyone at this time. So Gina, mouth shut ok?"

Gina stuttered.  "Sure, I guess.  But..."

"Sure, I guess but" wasn't good enough.  My entire future was at stake.  I was beginning to regret confiding in Gina.

"Listen Gina, on very rare occasions, I talk too much.  I shouldn't have said anything to you about this, but if it wasn't for you I wouldn't be in stamping and about to launch my career.  Plus, you are almost a lawyer.  I thought I could trust you."

"Hold on, M," Gina began.  "Of course you can trust me. I won't tell anyone else.  Plus, you should know right off the bat that it's a tradition in stamping not to gossip."

File that.

"Ok, Gina.  Thanks, I appreciate that.  But the 5K isn't even the best part!"

"Really? What else did Catherine say?"

"I'm going to GDWS next week!!!!!  Kitty said that GDWS was blown away by my $11,000 workshop.  They see something in me.  The marketing department wants to meet with me to brainstorm workshop and marketing ideas.  And I'm having lunch with Jackson and Kitty! Nothing like this has ever happened to me."

Gina said, "Wow, I just can't get over all of this.  I don't know where to begin."

"I know. Thank goodness I took photos of the ice sculpture."

"Yes.  The ice sculpture.  I have never heard of anything like this in all my years of being a demo.  I have to give it to you, M.  You are something else."

I already knew that, so I ignored that, and instead said, "I haven't been away by myself since Buffy was born.  I don't know what's more exciting, going to GDWS, or just going alone. John is going to be blown away."

"M, you know, you are going to make a name for yourself. I can feel it.  And I want to be first to say it, and wish you the best.  You deserve it."

Well, maybe Gina did have some business smarts after all.  I couldn't help but wonder why she had to ruin it all by going to law school.  I wondered if she'd consider working for me instead.  But I wasn't ready for that.

"Thanks, Gina.  You're a peach.  When I'm up there, I promise I'll mention to Kitty and Jackson how much of an influence you've been on me.  Well, I have to go.  I want to make John a special meal tonight."

And I did.  I made one of his favorites, Lasagne Bolognese al Forno.

I know I've said this before -- John was fabulous, and I would have died for my kids, but I had lost my way. And the quilting thing didn't help.  I never told John this, but I wasn't happy wasting all that money either.  I felt like a failure. GDWS was the answer to the prayer I didn't even know I was praying.

I waited until we were halfway through dinner and John and the kids had finished yammering.

"Listen up guys.  I have a MAJOR announcement.  MAJOR.  You are not going to believe this."

That got their attention.

Buffy said, "Bought more embossing powder?"

Got to love teenage girls.

"No, nothing like that.  Here is what happened.  I wrote to Get Down about an issue and I got a call today from one of the owners.  They invited me to go to their headquarters in Vermont next week to meet with them to discuss my marketing ideas.  And I'm going in their private jet and staying in a Bed and Breakfast for one night, and it isn't going to cost us a penny."

John broke out into a huge smile, got up, and gave me a huge hug and kiss.

"M, that's amazing!  I am so proud of you. When are you going?"

"Next Wednesday.  I have a 2 pm flight.  I'm only staying one night.  I'll be back Thursday afternoon around 4."

Buffy interrupted, "Mom, Wednesday afternoon is the kick off for the "Funds for More Testing" fundraiser at school.  You promised you'd be there!"

ARGH.  There was nothing our family felt more passionate about than increasing the number of standardized tests the kids were taking.

"Now wait a minute." John said.  "Buffy, Mom IS going to Vermont.  I'll take the afternoon off on Wednesday and go to the fundraiser in her place."

I burst out crying.  This really was one of the best days of my life.  I looked at John, and through my tears, told him, "You will not regret this.  You are the best husband in the world."

Garrett looked relieved.  He wasn't used to seeing me cry.  But then he said, "Hey, Mom, is that why you bought that new dress today?"

John looked up, with just the slightest hint of concern on his oh-so-cute brow.  I had to nip that in the bud.

So I told him, "Yes, but it was on sale and worth every dime.  Sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and, as I've said a thousand times, we aren't buying greeting cards anymore.  Now, let's clean up this mess.  Kitty from Get Down asked me to do something, and I have to get to work."

Next:  Chapter 9 (in January 2016!)

Nov 17, 2015

See That?

See that little tree?  Love it.  From Concord & 9th's Shine Brighter set.

See that sentiment?  Love that too.  From the Merry and Bright set by Essentials by Ellen by Julie

See those snowflake dies?  Part of the Take a Bough Die set from Concord & 9th.

Oh, and see those teeny silver sequins?  Both Corcord & 9th and Stampin Up carry them.  They come on a string and add a little shine without bulk.


Just Dandy Studio: Happy Cards

Just Dandy Studio has the colors and products to share happiness with others.  These cards have already gone out in the mail.  We need more happy, cheerful messages, don't we?'

Added some IrRESISTible Pico Embellisher, Clear (like Ranger's Glossy Accents, only the bottle does not clog) to some of the hearts.

Also wanted to mention that Melissa has Christmas items in her shop and provides a free printable every Friday.  Here are a few samples of the Christmas items. 

My favorite are the tags, available as a digital printable that is only $5.00, or printed tags for $7.00 

I also love these 5 x 7 prints, available as digital or hardcopy prints.  Frame a few and instant Christmas decor!  Here are a couple of the many that are available:

MOOD WHEN DONE = Happy and appreciative of a hobby that can share cheerful messages

  • Just Dandy Studio Happy Blooms and Happy Hearts wrapping papers
  • Just Dandy Studio Honeydew twine 
  • Memento Tuxedo ink
  • Clear and Simple Stamps heart die
  • Pretty Pink Posh sequins
  • Irresistible Embellisher (link above)
  • Sentiment stamps from The Ton and Simon Says Stamp
  • Base cards from A Muse Studio (white interior makes me happy)
  • Curve border die (source unknown) and WRMK corner chomper
  • White card stock (adhered wrapping paper to the white card stock before trimming)
  • Embroidery floss
  • Papertrey stitching die
  • Envelopes from Paper Source

Nov 16, 2015

An Interview With Concord & 9th

As soon as I saw an add for Concord & 9th on Splitcoaststampers, I had a hunch that this new paper crafting company would make a big splash.  The products, and the samples made with these products, are fabulous.  I was intrigued.  Plus, I'm fascinated by folks who take risks -- and starting a small business is a big risk. So, I asked the owners of Concord & 9th if they would agree to an interview, and I'm glad they did.  I think you'll agree.


Question:  Who are the folks behind Concord & 9th?  What are your graphic design, paper crafting and/or marketing backgrounds?


Angie: a single-mom to a beautiful 21 year old! It’s been just the two of us until about two years ago when we added Millie & Max, two morkie puppies, into our lives. I was never a dog (or animal) person, but it’s ridiculous how much I love them (and spoil them). I have been a paper crafter as long as I can remember! I think I won my first scrapbook page contest a few decades ago. It was punch art. I had punched probably hundreds of little flowers and glued them on to my page showcasing my cute Grandma. It may have been that day that I thought I might actually be good at the craft. I remember embossing over the stove too, not with some fancy heat tool. Wow! I am dating myself, I know. 

But, since then it was my passion to do something that I loved. I’ve only had 6 jobs in my life, 12 years with my last corporate job, which was in the crafting industry, but this new one of co-owning Concord & 9th is by far my favorite! In the 12 years I spent in corporate crafting, I spent the last 9 years or so teaching the art of stamping & paper crafting and 2 years leading a team of paper crafters. Dreamy, right?!? Yes! This is also where my path crossed with Greg! Our personalities clicked & we often had the same ideas. But it was time to take it to the next level which led us both to Concord & 9th.

Greg: Married to my my wife Allyson for 12 years, and dad to our 11 year old daughter and 4 year old son. I’ve always had a passion for creativity and creative people. I studied industrial design (product design), business management and Chinese in college, which naturally led to a career in product development. I’ve worked for two larger corporations in the craft and hobby industry, but have always been intrigued and impressed with the smaller companies industry. I couldn’t be happier with this new venture working with Angie. It is hard work, but I can already see it paying off!  

Question:  Starting a small business is a challenge.  What risks did you have to take and where did you get the courage to take them? 

Answer:  Starting a new, small business IS a challenge, but one we were both willing, excited and a bit nervous to take on (Angie more so than Greg!). We knew we worked well together in the past. We knew we both loved the crafting industry. We knew we both had the drive and determination. We knew we had the product development and crafting backgrounds. We knew we both shared the same dream of running a small business- so, why not jump in with both feet? It was a nerve-wracking leap leaving good-paying, secure jobs with many benefits, but without risk there is no reward, right?

Question:  What has surprised you (unanticipated roadblocks or things that were easier than you expected) since you began Concord & 9th?

Answer:  Oh, where do we start? There is SO much to learn when you venture out into the land of entrepreneurship! It’s more than just having great ideas! We literally learned new things day by day, even hour by hour at times.  We read books, talked to other small business owners about their experiences, educated ourselves on legal matters, setup the studio space, worked on finding manufacturers and suppliers for products, then we finally got into the fun part of designing our first product release!

We set a lofty goal of releasing our first launch in mid-July. Keep in mind, this was only 6 weeks after leaving our corporate jobs. Things took a bit longer than expected (as they usually do!) but we were able to hit a new, realistic date of August 9, 2015, which was about 3 weeks after our initial launch goal. We knew we wanted to release new products each month, and figured the 9th is a great tie-in to our name. We hope that when the 9th of each month rolls around, a little bell will chime in crafters’ minds to remember to look at Concord & 9th’s new release!

The biggest challenge (besides the long hours at times!) is getting your brand/name out there. Social media is a HUGE help. However, it only works if people know we exist! We dove in head first and started asking crafters to use our products, share their creations with others and mention us when they used them. Then there are others (like you Joan!) that discovered us via one of our marketing attempts, and have been so great to share all on your own! We are so honored to be doing this interview, and love your idea of sharing different companies once a month! The crafty community has been SO kind and welcoming! It’s worth all the ups & downs that come with a start-up!

Question:  Paper crafting seems in transition -- some companies are closing and new ones are popping up all the time.  What qualities does a paper craft/stamp company need to succeed in this environent?

Answer:  Creativity has existed since the beginning of time, so we don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon! However, as with any industry, it evolves and you have to be aware of how it is evolving. So much of the paper crafting community is connected online, so that’s where we need to be. 

Another key to success is differentiating ourselves. While we didn’t invent the stamp and die, we are constantly looking for ways to innovate within the details. It would be easy to follow along with what others are doing, but then you don’t stand out. We are trying to stay true to who we are, and we are confident it’s going to be successful.

Question:  What does Concord & 9th offer to consumers that we cannot get elsewhere? 

This goes back to the question above. We know we need to stay true to the look & feel we love, and want to offer. We want our products to make sense to those that use it. When you send a handmade card, the sentiment should be meaningful. The imagery should work well together and be versatile and offer different techniques too. We ask ourselves with each and every product if we have come up with at least 5-6 different things you can create. We want people to get their money’s worth and to work for more than one occasion.

Our Take a Bough dies from our October 9th release help illustrate our creative process. We wanted to offer a paper crafting product for the holidays that would work well for home decor, 3D gifts and on cards. Many ideas were thrown around, along with a hefty amount of research. The end result was our Take a Bough die set. 

Trust us when we say the end result isn’t where it started. We thought through many things like “how many times will it need to be run through the Big Shot?”, “how can we maximize the die and still make it cost effective?”, “what else can it build besides a tree?”. We LOVE the outcome of the tree, and that it can also make snowflakes, mistletoe, wreaths for fall, winter and Christmas. We also LOVE how well-received it has been. We’ve received great feedback on its innovation, which is EXACTLY what we were going for!

Also from our October release, the Tree Ring stamp (hand-drawn by Greg!) makes
for a beautiful, rustic-yet-chic background detail. We hadn’t seen a stamp with that type of imagery and it’s been a hit! 

Our 3 mm sequin strands have also been performing well. There are a lot of sequins in the market, but we couldn’t find ones small enough for the look we were going for, so we developed some that are half the size of what you will normally find on the market. So cute, and perfect for paper crafters!

Now for November! Let’s Chat is a coffee/tea/cocoa set from an overhead view.

You get a saucer & a mug, but many ways of crafting up different designs. You have a creamy heart swirl just like the latte you might order in your favorite coffee shop, marshmallows in your cocoa, a spoonful of sugar for your tea. The large sentiments all fit inside the mug or also look great on their own. The little sentiments fit great on tiny tags like the ones you can find in our Bags & Tags die set. We even thought through the size of the mug so that it works with our Lots of Blots stamp set. We love being able to coordinate back to other products we carry which gives you yet another reason to pull previous purchases back out of their storage containers ... more for your money!  

Shine Brighter is a stamp set & die inspired by all the light bulb DIY projects that are trending right now.

If you have not seen this trend, just search DIY light bulb crafts on Pinterest! Wow! Our stamp set was designed to cover many occasions like Christmas, birthday, graduation, and even well wishes! You can create a vase with a beautiful flower, a terrarium with succulents, a snow globe, hot air balloon, lantern - oh, and even a regular light bulb with a fun filament! The size of the light bulb was also considered so that it also works as a tag from our Bags & Tags die set.

Question:  What are your future plans?  Do you anticipate shipping outside the USA?  New products?  Kits?

Answer:  We actually just offered shipping outside of the USA to Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia & New Zealand! This was a few months in the making (another ‘new’ thing to learn) but so happy we are now able to ship to more places. We have had many requests, so we’re glad we can offer that now.

We are always on the lookout for innovative ideas for future releases! We would love to offer kits, and may be able to do that in the future. We LOVE the ease of kits for crafters! When we have the opportunity to grow our team to more than just the two of us, it is certainly something we want to explore.

We also hope to start a design team soon! We feel a design team could really help bring out the versatility in our designs. Ultimately, our goal would also be to partner with up-and-coming designers. We help them, they help us. It ties back to how our name Concord & 9th: Where Creativity Meets came about. We are passionate about our ideas intersecting with other creative and artistic people!

We are always open to ideas & suggestions too! Is there something you wish was in the market place? Feel free to share it with us - maybe we can work together on the next ‘big thing’?!? 

 *Just a quick THANK YOU to you Joan! You were one of our initial supporters & we couldn’t be more grateful! Again, we are so honored you asked to interview us! Your questions were great, which led to lengthy replies (sorry about that), but it was almost therapeutic to answer them. It reminded us how far we’ve come in just a few short months and inspired us for what the future holds!


Thanks so much to Angie and Greg for taking the time to answer my questions!

Nov 15, 2015

Stamping Destroyed My Life: Chapter 7

Note:  to start the story from the beginning, read the Press Release and then follow the links at the end of every chapter.  And thanks for reading!

Chapter 7:  The Spending part is OVER

November 1, 2001
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Richman,

Hello!  Hope everything is great up in beautiful Vermont.  You'll be thrilled to know that I recently signed up to become a demonstrator with Get Down With Stampin and have set a goal to become the top demonstrator for GDWS within a year.  My motto is "Making Fun with 'M'e"!  (Get it?)

source unknown
I love your products.  I love workshops.  I love embossing!  And your cat sets are so cute!  Catherine is one talented lady.

The thing is, though, I am not a huge cat fan.  To be honest, they scare the bewanga out of me.  My most recent therapist thinks that cats remind me of the Mink Coat Incident.  I almost died one Thanksgiving, when, after a sip of what I thought was cider, I climbed into a dresser drawer to nap and wrapped myself in my Great Aunt Winnie's mink jacket.  My stupid brother didn't see me and closed the drawer and walked away.  If Great Uncle Walter hadn't heard my fur muffled screams as the dresser fell over, I wouldn't be writing to you today.  Every time I see a cat, or think of good old Winnie and Walter, I have Fur Flashbacks.

Given my FF disability, I'm writing to ask that GDWS give me cash instead of a cat when I become a TOP THREE demo.  I believe that a $5000 award would be appropriate.

Please get back to me as soon as possible as I am on fire. I have 3 workshops scheduled and I've only had my starter kit for 2 weeks.

Very sincerely yours,


ps.  my first workshop as a hostess was over $11K!!!!!


November 5, 2001

Dear M:

Thank you for your inquiry and welcome to the GDWS family.  Your letter to Mr. Richman has been referred to our Demonstrator Relations Department. That Department will respond to you as soon as possible.

We congratulate you on joining our team and wish you much success.


Amanda Amanda
Vice President


While I waited for a response from Demo Relations, I practiced what Gina had taught me about stamping and worked my business, calling and writing folks.  If you think you can just sign up, stamp, and sell like a crazy lady, you are wrong. You have to know what you are doing.

Gina had come by with another new demo, Susan Raihala, and taught both of us how to stamp ("no twisting!!!!").  Even though she turned out to be a bit of a disappointment in the friendship department, Gina was a stamping pro.  She gave us all sorts of tips, like preheating the heat gun so the paper doesn't warp when embossing, and unplugging the gun the second I stop using it.  She also had lots of advice on properly cutting paper and she emphasized the importance of putting everything away as soon as I finished a project.

File that.

Gina's a peach.  Not the greatest business woman, so I'm not sure what kind of lawyer she's going to be, but a really nice person.  We could have been such good friends.  I loved the little get together with Susan and Gina.  It's fun spending time with other women and making little crafty things.  We even made these tiny little boxes that hold one Hershey Kiss.  A sure seller!

There was a little bit of an issue when it was time to organize all my supplies.  Susan kept insisting that I organize my paper and inks in alphabetical order, but I stood my ground and organized them according to the rainbow.  Not sure why she cared so much, because Susan was adament that she would never use any colored card stock or embossing powders.  She insisted on using only three things -- white paper, stamps, and ink.  "Maybe I'll use bling some day, but no guarantees."  I felt kind of sorry for her, but hey, all other demos were now my competition and if little Miss White Card Stock thought she could sell stuff without using embossing powder, good luck sister.

Gina mentioned that I might want to get craft furniture for the room, but that might push John over the edge.

Speaking of John, I felt guilty about not mentioning the demo thing and finally got around to telling him.

One night at dinner, over his favorite Chicken Wellington in Puff Pastry, I said,

"Guess what?  I got a job!!"

Garrett looked at Buffy and they both looked confused.

John responded, "Really?  What's this all about?"

"Well, you know how I have all this stamping stuff?  I love it.  I love stamping so much.  But it is kind of pricey and I want to earn some money.  So, I became a demonstrator for the company."

Buffy looked up, stopped twirling her hair, and asked,

"What's a demonstrator?"

"I'm like an Avon lady except instead of selling lipsticks, I sell stamps and paper and things like that.   I already have 3 workshops scheduled.  I am so excited!"

"What's an Avon lady?"

John smiled and looked at the kids.  "Believe it or not, there was a time when women knocked on doors to sell make up to other women."

Oh dear, John was going to talk about "how things were before the internet" and the kids were going to zone out.  So I said,

"Well I'm not knocking on any doors, but I will be selling.  Not make up, but craft supplies."

"What's craft supplies?"  Garrett asked.  "Pipe cleaners?"

source:  template in a box
"Not exactly pipe cleaners," I said.  "It's paper and rubber stamps and ink and stuff to make greeting cards and other fun things.  Here's an example."

I handed each of them a little box with a Hershey kiss."

Buffy said,

"You're actually going to try and sell this stuff?  PLEASE don't hit up any of my friends' moms.  This is so lame."

Garrett, on the other hand, grabbed the box, tore it open and popped the kiss in his mouth.

"Mom, this is so cool!"

John interrupted. 

"Buffy, stop that talk.  This isn't lame.  Your mom loves this stuff.  I guess it's cute."

Before I could respond, John turned to me and said,

"Well, this is news.  M, what's going on?"

"John, kids, I have a plan.  I am going to make real money selling these products, and it isn't going to cost a dime.  I mean I already bought what I need and from now on it will be all profit.  Plus, I'm making ALL our Christmas and birthday cards and party invites, and goodie bags for Garrett's birthday.  Trust me, this is going to be fun and profitable!  Remember the workshop I had?"

Before I could finish, John said,

"Oh yes, I haven't forgotten about it."

"Well, I told you then that I had a plan.  And the plan is to sell Get Down with Stampin.  I know I'll be good at it.  I won't have a lot of workshops here at the house.  I already have 3 ladies signed up to host workshops at their houses.  They have to supply the food and ice sculptures.  All I have to do is show up and demonstrate the products and I'll get a percentage of whatever I sell!  This stuff sells itself!  Plus if I meet my goal, I'll get a $5000 bonus.  Can you believe it?"

The kids looked bored, and John said,

"Well, it sounds interesting, doesn't it kids?  M, let's talk about it after dinner.  Hey, Garrett, Mom tells me you won first prize at the Science Fair.  That is fantastic!"


After dinner, while John was helping me with the dishes, he asked me what it cost to become a demo. 

"The starter kit was a thousand dollars."  There I said it.  We were married. We were a team.  I'm wasn't going to act like a kid and hide things.

"M, I love you. I really do.  But we are NOT going to repeat the quilting thing.  You spent a fortune on fancy machines and materials and stuff and made exactly zero quilts.  Now it is stamping.  Enough."

"John, I get it.  I do and I agree with you.  The quilting was an expensive mistake.  But stamping is different.  There was no future in quilting.  I know in my bones that stamping is the new ceramics.  It is going to take this country by storm.  Yes, it costs money to get started, but I'm not going to be a customer anymore.  The spending part is OVER.  Why buy the milk when the cow is free?"

John shook his head and sighed.

"M, you've never sold anything.  You've never stamped anything.  What makes you think you can make money at this thing?"

"Well, John, "this thing" as you put it, is fun.  It is fun to make cards.  It's creative and relaxing at the same time. And, it is even more fun to make them with friends.  I've already met tons of new people stamping.  My first workshop sold over 11 thousand dollars, and Gina made most of the profits off that.  I want to make the profits.  I swear if you show someone embossing, she'll take out her check book and start writing.  There must be crack in that stuff.  One sniff and you're hooked."

And then I added the kicker. I whispered so the kids wouldn't hear. 

"John, seriously.  Most people don't know this, but Barbara Bush stamps.  And if the mother of the President of the United States of America stamps, I bet Laura does too.  And if they stamp, they'll need a demo.  File that!"

John said nothing.  He put down the dish towel, walked over to our kitchen table, and sat down.  Clearly he was impressed.  I joined him and handed him the box with the kiss.

"Ok, John. I'll make a deal with you. Give me six months and I'll make back all the money I have already put into this. And if I don't, I'll quit.  And during that six months I will not spend a dime on stamping."

John responded,

"I want to know exactly how much you've spent so far."

Ugh. You know, I loved walking down the aisle.  I kicked the wedding dress.  But sometimes marriage is one big pain.

"Well, I already told you.  The starter kit was $1000. The rest had nothing to do with becoming a demo so I'm only counting the $1000."

"M, you had a caterer and an ice sculpture.  Who buys an ice sculpture to sell Hershey kiss boxes?  How much did that cost?  How much exactly did that workshop cost?"

"John..."  I didn't know what to say.  Scratch that, I knew exactly what I could say.  The workshop cost $8,613.87, not counting the kilt, cashmere sweater, and Ferragamo flats.  But really, the workshop had nothing to do with becoming a demo and then there's the whole amortization thing and tax benefits and the amount I made in hostess benefits.

I hadn't quite figured out those things yet, but they had to mean something.  It would just confuse the situation to give him the actual amount and I didn't want to mislead him.  So I decided to just give him the real cost of the workshop minus the amount I was going to save by not having to buy greeting cards, plus a little something for the tax thing.

"Ok, it was a lot.  I know I went overboard.  I spent $885 on the workshop. But..."

"Stop.  Just stop."

John sounded annoyed.  There was a whole lot of "working hard" plus "quilting" plus "ice sculpture" plus "college costs." 

I interrupted. 

"I'm not Garrett.  I'm beginning to resent this."

John stopped and thought.  Then he said,

"You want a little business?  Fine.  If you are going to do this, then set up a separate checking account for your business.  No expenditures from our other accounts.  None. You spend only what you make."

A little business?  A little business selling embossing powder to Laura Bush?  I actually felt sorry for John. Some people cannot see the future.

"Oh John.  I'm so glad you understand.  That is a great idea!  You'll see that this is different.  Quilting is so 1990s.  Stamping is the future."


While I waited to hear from Demonstrator Relations, I practiced my stamping and my embossing and made a note to get a new fire extinguisher.  I also worked on my Business Plan.

M's Plan to Become a Top 5 the Top Demo

Goal:  To be the top demonstrator in GDWS
Time to Achieve:  9 6 months
Money needed to achieve: nothing additional


1.  Call everyone who attended my workshop and ask if they need help learning to stamp.  Offer to teach for free.  Hold classes at night when teachers have nothing else to do.   Everyone brings her own supplies!

2.  Have lunch with ladies I met at Francie's workshop.  Call Francie?  Set up NYC branch?

3.  First month, get 10 people to hold workshops and get 5 to sign up as demonstrators.

4.  Figure out this internet thing.  Garrett can explain.  Is there anything on the internet about stamping?

5.  Invite Barbara Bush to a workshop.  Laura?!

6.  Make and mail 50 cards.

7.  Investigate getting free local cable TV show. 

8.  Order extra heat guns and embossing powder to give away as prizes.


I was still working on my plan when the phone rang.


"Hello.  This is Catherine Richman from Get Down With Stampin.  I'd like to speak to M, please."

Next:  Chapter 8:  "You are something else."

Nov 12, 2015

'Tis The Time To Get Serious

Sentiment from Essentials by Ellen by Julie 'Tis the Season

November 12th -- time to make the Christmas cards.  I'd like to finish card making by very early December so I can enjoy addressing and mailing and not turn it into a chore.

This is an easy card to mass produce and is easy to mail. Win.

Trim paper into a triangle, add a sentiment strip and some twine. May make a few more of these using different papers.  Paper from Stampin Up.



Nov 10, 2015

Just Dandy Studio: Texture on a Card

Looking for ways to add texture to a card?   Twine is a great way to add texture while keeping the card easy to mail.  I also used some wood paper to balance the bright heart. 

Wrapped a card stock square with twine in a variety of warm colors.  It was easy to place behind the die cut card stocks.   The sequins added a bit more color and were kind of fun!

  • Just Dandy Studio twine in various colors (this twine is very soft and the colors are fabulous!)
  • White and yellow card stocks
  • Typed sentiment
  • Pretty Pink Posh sequins
  • Wood paper (Ellen Hutson)
  • Clear and Simple Stamps heart dies
  • Dimensional foam tape


And in unrelated news, Here are a list of all of the winners from the CASEing Kelly Blog Hop!
Thanks so much for helping us show Kelly some appreciation and love.  All of the winners are being contacted via email.
• the Winter 2015 card kit from Create a Smile Stamps #3 Maaike Uijthoven(from Jen Lotfield’s blog) 
• $25 gift certificate from Simon Says Stamp #38 Arianna Barbara (from Shelly’s blog) 
• $25 gift certificate from the Ink Road #10 Henriette (from Brandi’s blog)
• a Police Woman digi stamp from Lia Stampz #83 Angela Restad (from Ardyth’s blog) 
• $25 gift certificate from a2z Scrapbooking #24 Charlene (from Dee’s blog) 
• a crafty goodie bag from a2z Scrapbooking #19 Leslee (from Amy’s blog) 
• a crafty goodie bag from Hero Arts #37 Liz Gessner McAlliston (from LauraJane’s blog) 
• a $25 gift certificate to any online craft store (winner’s choice) from DJ Kard Creations #56 Cat Craig (from Kristie Goulet’s blog) 
• a $25 gift certificate from Altenew #53 Vinita Jain (from the A2Z Scrapbooking blog)
• a stamp set from Dee’s Art Impressions #53 Jeanne (from Char’s blog)   

Nov 9, 2015

'Tis the Season....Times Five

Had so much fun making these cute cards.

Die cut watercolor paper into circles and stamped this adorable car and tree with the cutie sentiment.  Here are some close ups of the cars -- the Pico Embellisher is like Ranger Glossy Accents but comes in a bottle with a built in metal tip -- NO CLOGGING.  It's on the wheels, bumpers, and headlights.

And, because my first car was a dark blue VW Bug --

MOOD WHEN DONE =  Quite Pleased

Nov 8, 2015

Stamping Destroyed My Life: Chapter 6

Stamping Destroyed My Life.  Chapter 6:  Piece O'Cake

Press Release Announcing the Publication of Stamping Destroyed My Life
Stamping Destroyed My Life: The Prologue
Chapter One:  "It's Kind of Magical"
Chapter Two:  A Match Made in Heaven
Chapter Three: "Just do it."
Chapter Four:  Salsa and Chips 
Chapter Five:  "I have a plan."

Gina and I sat in John's home office, relaxing after the Best Workshop Ever.   Everything was working out so well -- except for the fireflies and law school and all that.  But really, I had a plan and it was on fire.

Gina was now my biggest fan and was more than happy to sit on my cozy wing chair, sip my Chardonnay, eat leftover crab beignets, and talk to me. An $11K+ workshop will do that.

"Ask me anything," Gina said.

And so I said, "What's up with the cats?  Why does GDWS give away cats to its top demos?  Is that legal?"

Gina laughed.  "Of course it's legal.  They don't actually put a cat in a box and send it by UPS along with ink pads and eyelets.  Rather, the very top demos get the exclusive right to own a cat selected by GDWS."

And I'm thinking:  Not sure I can sell to crazy people, but I can try.

"Why would anyone want a cat selected by GDWS?"

"Well," Gina explained, "Why do folks want hand stamped sneakers?  Glittered eyeglasses?  Not everyone can have them.  Exclusivity always sells."

File that.

Gina continued,  "You have to know the backstory about Get Down to understand. Jackson Richman and his wife Catherine started the company about ten years ago. Jackson's parents were both veterinarians and he grew up surrounded by animals. Jackson got his MBA and went to work in the finance department of Scramway, where he learned the ins and outs of multi-level marketing."

"What's multi-level marketing?" I asked.

"Well, GDWS is an example.  It's a way to run a very profitable home based business without investing a lot of your own money, while at the same time getting the support of a big corporate office.  You sign up to represent the company and sell its products and also recruit others to do the same. For example, as a demo, I earn a certain percentage of everything I sell, but I also earn a small percentage of what my downline sells and what their downline sells -- down to 14 levels.  I don't have to design stamps, manufacturer them, or create a catalogue.  It's all done for me."

This is going to be a piece o' cake, I thought.

"Can you make a lot of money being a demo?," I asked.

Gina put down her Chardonnay, and said "M, the products sell themselves. Put them in the same room with the right women and bingo, sales."

Exactly what I thought, but I wondered what she meant by the "right women."

"Do you have a lot of stampy friends?"  I so hoped the answer was yes.  I wanted to make some money of my own.  But, I could also imagine lunch time card making over gossip, ribbon and cardstock.

"Yes, I do.  Some of my downline and customers have become my closest friends.  We've even vacationed with a few of them and their husbands."

I almost fainted.

"That's so nice."

"Now can we get back to the cats?"

Gina laughed a bit.

"Don't worry, I'm getting to it.  When Jackson was working at Scramway, he met Catherine at a fundraising thing in Rustic View, their Vermont town.  One thing led to another, and Jackson and Catherine got married.  They lived on a gorgeous farm, entertained lavishly, and people noticed them.  They quickly became the "it" couple in Rustic View and then all of Vermont.

Catherine dabbled in drawing and, one year, as a lark, illustrated her own
Christmas cards.  Her pen and ink drawings became quite popular in their circle of friends.  Her Christmas card of a cat riding a horse and chasing skunks was such a huge hit that everyone encouraged Catherine to sell her cards.  Catherine knew that selling hand made cards was a sure fire way to make a great deal of money, but by then she and Jackson had married and had begun discussing going into business together.

I interrupted, "You mean I could sell my cards?  I hadn't though of that."  Holy gadawba, this just keeps getting better and better...

Gina responded, "Absolutely.  In fact, originals of Catherines's first cards now sell on Ebay for over $5000.  Catherine even trademarked her "Merry Catskunk" greeting.

"Oh," I exclaimed.  "So that's where that greeting comes from!"

Gina reached for another crab beignet.  How that tiny frame could handle so much food amazed me.

"So, as I was saying, Jackson was growing restless at Scramway.  He wanted his own business and could see the potential of multi-level marketing.  After a lot of research, he and Catherine started Get Down With Stampin.  It was a way to combine his business and her artistic skills.

The business got off to a slow start, but the first catalogue included a Catherine the Cat at Christmas stamp set. It sold like crazy. They got offers from big stamp companies like Heroic Deeds for Catherine to illustrate cat stamps for them. They declined, but kept at the business, traveling around the country, doing workshops.  Eventually, they held a workshop at the Bush place in Kennebunkport, and that was the turning point.  The company is now quite successful."

"Wow," I exclaimed, "Barbara Bush stamps?  I had no idea."

"M, I didn't say a thing about Barbara Bush.  You'd be surprised who stamps," Gina whispered, making it clear that she really couldn't say much else about it.

Hmm, I thought, the Bushes!  My fingers started tingling.

She continued, "Since then, every catty has a kitty. There's Catherine the Cat painting, taking out an appendix, skeet shooting, driving a minivan, surfing, filling out an order for GDWS, etc.  There was even a Catherine the Cat Becomes a Demo set. And, in a bow to Jackson's parents, GDWS donates 1% of its corporate profits to the Catherine the Cat Foundation, which makes high end clothing for homeless cats. Its motto is "Dressed to Wander."

This is genius, I thought.  Every cat lover I know spends thousands on her cat.

I said, "That is interesting.  But how to demos get a cat?"

Gina explained, "The top 3 demos in sales every year get a certificate entitling them to receive a cat in a shelter in the demo's home community. Catherine hand selects the particular cat.  The cat comes with all its shots and its ears pierced, because the demos also get gold earrings with the GDWS logo on them for the cat to wear.  Isn't that fabulous?  Everyone who sells kitties out of the catty craves a Catherine the Cat."

Gina paused to sample the lemon pomegranate lasagna, and I asked,

"So here's the thing.  What if the demo doesn't want the cat?  Can you get cash instead?"

Gina turned quickly towards me, her black hair whipping around her face, and almost shouted. "Are you kidding?  No one has ever declined a Catherine the Cat.  It would be shocking!  I cannot imagine the scandal."

"Oh sorry, I didn't mean to suggest anything bad."

Gina calmed down and asked, "Why, are you thinking of becoming a demo?"

"Well, yes I am!

"Oh, that is fabulous.  You have all the makings to become a fantastic demo," Gina said.

You can file that, Gina.

"Thanks.  But, I was wondering about something else.  Gina, you're going to law school, right?  And you said you'd be resigning then?"

Gina put down her lasagna and turned to me.  She said, "Yes, I am planning on resigning in a year."

"Well, what happens to your customers?  And your downline?"

"The downline stays without anyone to guide them.  They are called "orphan kitties" and are really kind of sad.  But once your business is solid, you don't really need an upline.  It's like anything else, the strong survive; the weak fade away.  And my customers will find other demos."

Hmm, I thought.  Time to negotiate.  Let's see how smart this wanna be lawyer is.

"What if I give you $50 for every downline, and $25 for every customer you have?  You stay a demo in name only and I work the business and keep the profits.  GDWS doesn't need to know a thing and we both win."

I poured Gina another glass of wine.

"No," she said, "That wouldn't be right.  I live by my reputation.  When all is said and done, you can be the greatest stamper in the world and make a ton of money, but if you aren't running an honest business, you have nothing.  I cannot do that."

Bingo!  I knew she'd be tripped up by "rules."  Anyone who frets over a melting logo clearly has no business sense.

So I said, "Oh, of course.  I'm sorry.  I didn't think of that.  I wouldn't dream of suggesting anything dishonest.  Silly me!"

I got up and stood by the window, appearing to think.  I twirled around, the pleats in my kilt fanning out.

"Gina," I told her, "You are so good at this and I really want to succeed and become a top demo.  I think you can see by this workshop that I am serious.  If I become a demo under you now, would you be willing to give my name to your customers when you quit a year from now?  I mean, if it's legal to do so, of course."

Gina looked away, brushed some crumbs off her cashmere twin set and said, "Absolutely."

So we had a deal.  My plan was working!!!

Gina explained that there were two levels of demoship -- the basic "Calico Cat" where you could only buy for yourself. You got a discount for personal purchases and it cost $195 to sign up.  You had to agree to buy at least $200 a month to stay a demo.  Or, you could go for "Siamese Cat," which entitled you to sell to others. The cost was $995, but it would give me everything I needed to succeed and I only had to sell $300 per month.  There was a bunch of blah blah blah thrown in, but I find details tedious.

"I assume you want to be a Siamese,"  Gina purred.

Just call me M the Siamese Cat.

After I signed endless paperwork (including a promise not to call any of my cats "Catherine"), and I slapped down my credit card, I asked Gina, "Hey, there's one more thing.  Can you teach me to stamp?"

"Sure, how about I come over after your starter kit comes and do a mini class just for you?"

"Awesome.  It's a plan, Gina!"

Gina left and I went upstairs.  John was still awake.  He had that serious look on his face, but didn't look angry.

"How did it go tonight?," he asked, somewhat nervously.

"Fabulous.  Oh, John, it was AHHMAZING.  I sold over $11 thousand dollars of stamps and did not buy anything for myself.  None, zada, zip."

The stamps in the starter kit were not part of the workshop, so why confuse the issue with the difference between a workshop and becoming a demo?  Once John saw the money rolling in, it really wouldn't matter.

"Oh good," John said.  "I guess you made your money back then.  Good."  He sighed, "I was a little worried when I saw the caterer."

"John, darling.  I promise. You have nothing to worry about."

Next: Chapter 7

Nov 5, 2015

Waltzingmouse Love, Christmas Style

Stampers have thousands of Christmas sets from which to choose and more go on the market every day.  Unfortunately, I love just about every style!  Vintage, goofy, modern, I want them all.  Well, almost all.  Not big on Santa on a surfboard....

But when push comes to shove wallet wise, I often choose Waltzingmouse. Claire creates classic Christmas sets that can be used year after year.  And I do.

This card combines two of her sets, 'Tis the Season and Big Blooms -Poinsettias.

Masked watercolor paper and stamped the poinsettias with watercolor paint. Gold embossed that gorgeous sentiment.  Added some gold Kuretake Gansai Tanbi paint in the centers of the flowers and flicked more of the paint over the card.  Adhered the panel to an A2 card.

Easy and easy to mail!