May 22, 2019


Letting the color do the work here! Rub a couple of ink pads (Distress Oxide Picked Raspberry and Wild Honey) on some paper, and walk away while it dries. Stamp a nice large sentiment (from the Stamp Market's Bloominous), and add a tiny one (from Mama Elephant) that makes sense. Sit back and declare it done.

MOOD WHEN DONE: While I was working on this, all I could think of was how, when we were in school, we would say "hey," and the nuns would say "hay's for horses." I'm not sure "hey" is a word but I've given up on the grammar wars.

Speaking of 8th grade, our teacher (a nun) assigned our seats based on our grade point average (can you imagine that now?). The student with the highest GPA sat in the 1st row, 1st seat. It wasn't me, and a million years later I'm still grumbling about it! Funny, the (very nice) girl who had the highest GPA is now a nun. Fixed?

May 21, 2019

What More Do You Want?

My mom made essentially the same food every week (macaroni, meatloaf, hamburgers, chicken, eggplant in the winter, and hot dogs). It's a miracle none of us had a heart attack. Once in while she'd surprise us with something different -- usually a Polish dish that she liked or maybe she'd buy a pizza. Cooking wasn't her thing (it's not mine either). She'd put dinner on the table and say: "What more do you want?," meaning this is fine, this is enough, quit complaining.

Lately, when I'm stamping and (finally) make a card I like, I find myself thinking "What more do you want?"

Actually, I have a list but the inner critic must be quashed... 

Balloons from a retired Essentials by Ellen stamp. Stamped by paining Zig markers onto the stamp and then watercoloring. Hand drew the dots and the bows and strings. Sentiment from Altenew. All old stuff!

MOOD WHEN DONE: I'm good....

May 17, 2019

All About The Foiled Fox + A Sale!

I've got this bright card over on The Foiled Fox blog today, with lots of chatter (duh) to go with it. I hope you check it out here.

And the good news is that there's a sale going on!

I was delighted when Shauna Todd, owner of The Foiled Fox, asked me to guest design and thought I'd use this chance to tell you a little bit about the shop (she didn't ask me to do so, I just want to share my enthusiasm). 

I'm a customer. Here's my experiences with the shop as a straight up full pay customer (disclosure: Shauna sent me The Stamp Market's Bloominous stamp and die set). 

  • shipped in a day
  • free shipping in the US with you spend more than $50 
  • candy (as in sugar!) in the package
  • anything liquid or fragile was wrapped in bubble wrap (which I reuse)
  • what more do you want?
Foiled Fox is a family business (love that). Shauna Todd is the owner and her daughters, son-in-law, and her husband work together. But that's not all. The cutest part is that even Shauna's 7 year old granddaughter Mackenzie (Mac) lends a hand along with Oliver/Ollie/Ollibear, their granddog.

Shauna shared with me that, after a 40 year career, she finally decided to work where her passion is. When I read that, I was struck with how hard it must be to open a small business. Paper crafting is full of major corporations, big companies, and mom and pop shops. It's competitive. It's so much more than ordering fun products -- it's taxes and insurance and competition and social media and design and computers and shipping and customer service and stuff I can't imagine. I'm so impressed with folks who know what they want and take the risks to make them happen. 

Foiled Fox searches out unique products, and since Shauna is passionate about calligraphy, it carries calligraphy supplies. It carries many of the companies we see every day, but also a few new-to-me companies, such as PaperArtsy and Paper Rose. And I'm thrilled that they carry a large line of Penny Black products.

Ok, this is starting to sound like an ad, and I am not a salesperson -- just enthusiastic about supporting good people running small businesses. 

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Happy! Have a wonderful weekend. 

May 15, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Heather Telford Day 3

Please check out my post on the Penny Black blog, where I finish up my learning from the talented Heather Telford.  Thanks. I hope to be back on blogging here soon!

May 11, 2019

Happy Mother's Day. ps. Are You Depressed?

Gayle Madden (not her real name) was 28 and in my legal aid office. According to the paperwork she handed me, she was planning on giving away her daughters, 5 and 3, to the state. I looked at Gayle and the first thought I had was how uncomfortable she looked. She sat stiffly in the chair, her face scarred with acne, twirling her brown hair. After years of working in legal aid, I had learned how to spot someone with a serious mental illness. Gayle looked medicated and ill.

Eventually the story came out. Gayle suffered, and I mean suffered, from schizophrenia. I'm not familiar with current treatment options, but 35 years ago there wasn't much available to help Gayle, other than debilitating drugs. Gayle heard voices at times, was frequently forgetful, fearful, and disorganized. She couldn't work and could barely take care of herself. She definitely couldn't continue to take care of her kids.

It's horrible to be alone and so sick that you have to give away your kids. It's even worse when you aren't alone and have to give away your kids. The children had a father -- Gayle's ex-husband -- but he didn't want custody of his kids. So he had already signed away his rights. (Normally, you can't just walk away from your parental responsibilities and I never really understood why the state let him get away with that, but it had and there we were.) Gayle also had a mother and 2 sisters who lived about 50 miles away. They "weren't interested" in the kids either.

I had become adept at tamping down my emotions at work. You learn quickly to develop a bit of a shell in order to get the job done -- there's a lot of sadness out there. Sometimes we'd joke about our clients -- not in a mean way, but as a way of coping. I suspect that paramedics, teachers, nurses, doctors, social workers, and others with similar jobs do the same thing. But occasionally, I'd be blindsided by the sadness or injustice of some circumstances. This was one of those times.

I explained to Gayle that the court would have to find her "unfit" and that, if she changed her mind and thought she could take care of her children in the future, she would have the burden of proving that she was no longer an unfit parent. If they were adopted, there would be no such opportunity. In other words, once the Judge signed the order, it was unlikely her children would ever live with her again. She would never know what happened to her girls. I also explained that she would lose her welfare checks when she no longer had the children. Without her welfare checks, she would lose her Medicaid. Medicaid paid for her drugs and those drugs kept her out the hospital. But, we would help her apply for disability and get back her Medicaid. Her disability check would be smaller and it might take a while to get it; she would need to cope with that too. After a bit, I was satisfied Gayle understood and had the capacity to make the decision, so there wasn't much else for me to do.

A few weeks later we went to court and, after a short presentation by the state and no objection by me, the Judge asked Gayle a few questions and then declared Gayle to be an "unfit" parent. At that point, Gayle stood up, and in a moment of exquisite, heartbreaking clarity, told the Judge that she didn't think it was fair to be called unfit. As Gayle put it, it would be unfit of her to keep her children. She was acting out of love and concern, not neglect. She asked the Judge to please "just say I have been a good mom."

The Judge sat there silent. I fumed. Gayle was making the hardest decision I'd ever seen someone make and the Judge was inexplicably making it worse. So I stood up and asked the Judge to please tell Gayle that he agreed that she was a good mom, acting out of love and concern, and to please explain that the "unfit" language was an unfortunate technicality. The Judge then said "These proceedings are over." Banging his big dumb gavel, he got up, and walked out.

There was no happy ending. Mr. Madden didn't appear at the last minute to save the kids from foster care; the judge showed no compassion. There were no magic pills for Gayle to take and get better and regain custody. The children didn't send me a letter 10 years later thanking me for helping their mother. Rather, the social worker and I walked Gayle back to the street and we both went back to work. Gayle moved several times, was in and out of the hospital, but got her disability checks and had her Medicaid restored. And then I lost track of her. I don't know what happened to her girls.

It's been over 35 years since I thought about Gayle, but she was on my mind this week. I've been struggling with anxiety and a bit of depression lately. I know both quite well, and I have lots of techniques (including stamping) for squashing them. However, this week they got out of control.

Depression and anxiety rob us of simple joys and distort the truth. I began to dread Mother's Day. I'm not a big fan of these holidays anyway, as many end up feeling left out or disappointed. This is the first one where I had no occasion to make a card or send a gift as my mother-in-law died last May. I'm still adjusting to living in Dallas and I found myself wandering around the house trying to figure out a way to return to Virginia. I can't seem to make a decision about a medical issue and endlessly weigh the options.

As the rains fell and the sky stayed dark, my mood sunk even further. I'd walk in the house, put down a bag of groceries and cry as I thought of problems just mounting. I couldn't sleep, tossing and turning and feeling hopeless. I'd go on social media and resent all the happiness I thought I saw. I started thinking of every sad thing that has ever happened or could happen, including Gayle.

Remembering Gayle and her sad story changed my mood. Rather than make me feel more depressed, as I thought about her enormous sacrifice, and her children's circumstances, I once again was gripped with overwhelming gratitude for my life and all its gifts. Once gratitude took hold, there was little room to stay depressed.*

The heart decision could wait, and without depression's shade, doesn't seem that big of a deal anymore. The house felt cozy in the rain and thunder. I applied for another volunteer job (so far my other attempts haven't worked out), and I am looking forward to seeing our son on Mother's Day -- I plan on beating him at several board games! This is the first Mother's Day that we will be together since he was in high school. This is why we moved here. I began to feel foolish. If Gayle, whose situation was immeasurably worse than mine in every single aspect, could cope, so could I.

Depression makes small issues seem overwhelming and big issues impossible. Anxiety just messes with everything. Don't let them trick you. Don't let a holiday trick you. Don't let social media trick you. If you are struggling, perhaps just taking the time to remember all the Gayles out there will help you in the same way that it helped me.

*A serious clinical depression needs a serious response, whether it's medication, therapy, or other treatments, or a combination of them. Reading this blog is not a serious response!

ps. to all celebrating -- have a happy mother's day!

May 8, 2019

More Learning Through Inspiration

I'm happy to be back on the Penny Black blog today continuing my study of Heather Telford. You can read about my adventures here.

Here's a snippet of one of my cards --

Hope you like it!

May 1, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Heather Telford (Day One)

Here's a snippet of a card I made while learning from the fabulous Heather Telford. My series on learning from Heather starts today on the Penny Black blog here. Would love if you checked it out! 

Apr 15, 2019

Paper Connection

Crafters can be so kind. I was so happy to receive some cards -- and flowers! -- from some crafty friends when I had my heart procedure a few weeks ago. I treasured those. Every day I'd look at the tulips and the cards and they made me feel connected and valued.

Receiving those gifts reminded me that I can do a much better job of reaching out to others in need of a paper connection (a/k/a a card). So, this card will go out to someone who needs a lift.

Used the non-butterfly stamps in a beautiful set by Penny Black called Butterfly Garden (gifted to me by PB).

I love this layout -- stamp the top and bottom edges and place a sentiment in the middle. Super easy.

Colored with Altenew alcohol markers, adhered some Pretty Pink Posh clear droplets and shaded the top and bottom edges with Frayed Leaf ink by Altenew. Looks like a one layer card, but the top layer is a separate piece adhered to an A2 card.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Awesome. My good friend visited last week and we went all Dallas tourist. Advice:  don't go to the boarding house where Lee Harvey Oswald was living. It is all out the creepiest place I've ever been. Still can't shake the feeling! Also: interesting that everyone referred to Oswald as the "alleged" assassin. Really?

I'm feeling great -- back to stamping, and occasionally cooking (my new least favorite chore) HA.

Apr 7, 2019

Springtime Birthday Wishes

I made this card a few weeks ago and thought the beginning of April would be a good time to share it. This was a snap to make -- trim the patterned paper, stamp the sentiment, color this Penny Black Together stamp with markers, stamp, redo to add shading, and add to an A2 card.  Love the combination of bright pink with the Modern Graphics black dotted paper -- wish I could buy that paper in bulk!

Supplies:  Penny Black Together; Penny Black Good Wishes sentiment set; Modern Graphics patterned paper designed by Julie Ebersole; Tombow Dual Brush Markers. (Penny Black let me pick out some stamps from its current Timeless collection and these are some of my favorites from that collection).

MOOD WHEN DONE: Hanging in there. I've pretty much recovered from the surgery to implant the defibrillator. I can start driving again in a few days and can start wearing clothes that have to go over my head to put on (it's the little things). Yeah!

However, to be honest, every heart thing leaves me a bit depressed. Not depressed as in I need a doctor, but just a little down. I guess it's that whole life/death thing and being away from so many friends. I'm keeping busy (seriously, this hobby saves me), which is always the best medicine. Plus gratitude for everything I have lifts my spirits. Just writing that sentence helps. Thanks for listening!

Apr 4, 2019

Using What I Learn

I'm having a lot of fun doing the Learning with Inspiration series and thought I would make a card that applies some of the lessons I've learned. (Several people assumed that the series was over -- it's not; I'm just taking a break from it.)

For this card I used some watercoloring tips I learned through studying Natasha Volkovskaya and Jill Foster. You can see my posts studying Natasha here and here (I can no longer find a good link to her blog but she remains very active on Instagram as Craft Away With Me.) You can find my posts studying Jill on the Penny Black blog here, here, and here.

  • Nathasha makes fantastic backgrounds and by studying hers I was able to see that she leaves a fair amount of white space. Jill makes sure there is a lot of variation from light to dark. 
  • I often use a flat brush for a background. A flat brush leaves a solid area of color. The color ends up being, well, flat! That can be a great choice, but I wanted to create something that mimicked water and sky and had some white space and variation in tone. 
  • So, I used the water brush you can see in the picture below. The small tip allowed me to get the variation in color I wanted.
  • Used dye reinkers for the paint, rather than watercolor paints. This is something Jill does a lot and it allows for more intense colors. The more water I added the lighter the color. I went over the butterflies, leaves, and flowers with reinker and very little water so that they did not get lost in the background.

Supplies:  Penny Black Butterfly Dance; Altenew Many Thanks; Adirondack Dye Reinkers (Sail Blue and Clover); Gina K cardstock; Canson cold press watercolor paper; Versamark; Wow Bright White Superfine Embossing Powder.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy! I'm posting cards made before my heart procedure, but I continue to improve and hope to be stamping soon. A good friend is visiting next week and I'm very happy about that!

BTW, this large cling stamp is from Penny Black and is one of several Penny Black stamps I bought recently. Add that to the ones Penny Black gave me and some I had, but never used, and you can expect to see a fair amount of Penny Black on this blog in the near future!

Apr 2, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration -- More Jill Foster

I've got 2 cards on the Penny Black blog today. It's my last post studying Jill Foster and I think you'll like it. At least I hope so!  Here's a couple of snippets of my cards.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  What a treat to be hosted by Penny Black. I learned a LOT from studying Jill. Such talent. Thank you so much!

Apr 1, 2019

Breaking News! Patent Pending!! Giveaway!


April 1, 2019


Dallas, Texas, April 1, 2019/Real News Corp. Dear Paperlicious today announced the issuance of a patent on its new line of Invisible Stamps and Dies known as "Really Clear Stamps™ and Really Clear Dies™."

"I got tired of cleaning and storing my stamps and dies. 
I'm thrilled that I can leave 
my Really Clear Stamps™ and Really Clear Dies™ anywhere in the house 
and my husband won't be able to see them." 

This new line of stamps and dies also addresses the increasing amount of blatant theft design in the industry. "Thieves here in the US and China, and elsewhere, steal the designs of hardworking stamp companies and sell them online and at craft shows." Some customers buy these stolen stamps and dies without knowing that they have been stolen, but most purchasers are fully aware that they are buying stolen property. In addition to being illegal and unethical, this practice threatens the existence of many small companies.

"The sellers and the customers who buy stolen property
are no better than the thief who breaks into your house and steals your wallet and possessions. 
The number of companies whose stamp and die designs have been stolen, and the number of customers who knowingly buy these stolen products, is ** appalling. 
I had to do something."

Patent No. 4.1.2019 covers a groundbreaking new process and material by which clear stamps are, finally, really clear. And, because, once we graduate from kindergarten, we are unable to use scissors, all Really Clear Stamps™ will come bundled with coordinating Really Clear Dies™. 

The patent also covers a mechanism by which purchases can see their Really Clear™ stamps and dies -- a clever new device that permits the crafter to place the stamps and dies on a special electronic InVisibility Plate™. The InVisibility Plate™ will allow the stamps and dies to be visible for 30 minutes (90 minutes during certain time change periods). "We recommend that stampers remember where they've placed their Really Clear Stamps™ and Really Clear Dies™ in order to be able to put them on the InVisibility Plate™.  Note: the InVisibility Plate™is currently visible.

"The InVisibility Plate™ is pure genius."

For more information, please leave a comment below. All commenters will be eligible for the opportunity to giveaway some of their $$ to Dear Paperlicious to defray the costs of making and distributing these products. Winners will be announced soon.

All products will be available exclusively at well known legitimate craft stores no later than April 1, 2020.

** "is appalling" or "are appalling"?

Mar 29, 2019

More Learning Through Inspiration and a Life Update

My latest Learning Through Inspiration, studying Jill Foster, is up on the Penny Black blog. You can find it on this post.  Would love if you checked it out!

Life Update

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may know that I got a cardiac defibrillator* implanted this week. It's a long story as to why I decided to go down this route again, but ultimately my doctors convinced me that it could prolong my life.

I decided that I could live with the anxiety of my heart stopping, or live with the anxiety of the ICD going off by mistake (that's happened to me with a prior ICD and it is horrible) or causing a life threatening infection. We all face hard choices and this was a hard one, but I'm glad I did it.

I am enormously grateful for the gift of life. All of us have a limited amount of time and the opportunity to possibly prolong my time is worth the pain and risk of getting and having an ICD.

I have limited use of my left arm for the next few weeks (there's a wire from the ICD near my left collar bone into my heart and I can't risk dislodging it until it heals). Plus, pain! I'll be up on the Penny Black blog next Tuesday with a prewritten post, but other than that, I'm not sure how long a break I'll take from stamping. Hopefully, not too long!

* An internal cardioverter defibrillator, known as an ICD, is placed in your body surgically. In the event you go into a fatal heart rhythm, it will shock your heart and usually terminate the fatal heart rhythm.

Mar 20, 2019

Winners of the RBG Birthday Blog Hop!

The following people won prizes!

Kelly Purkey set: Cornelia 
Kelly Purkey set: Glennis 

Hero Arts set: SmilynStef 
Hero Arts set: Helen Kolb 

Congratulations and please email me your full names and addresses. My email is  If I do not hear from you in the next few days I will have to track you down and I will leave a trail of glitter on your doorstep...

Mar 19, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Jill Foster (Day One)

My Learning Through Inspiration series continues today on the Penny Black blog. You can find my post here. Would love if you checked it out. Here's a snippet of the card I made inspired by the card artist Jill Foster.

I  had recently purchased a bunch of Penny Black stamps in anticipation of doing a series on the amazing Jill Foster when Jill reached out to me on behalf of Penny Black to do a series on its blog. Thanks so much to Jill and Penny Black for providing me with additional new products from its Timeless series.

I'll be back on the Penny Black blog two more times, but I'll be sharing a lot more Penny Black here.

If you are new to my blog, welcome. You can find more about this series here.

A New Series: Learning Through Inspiration
Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day One)
Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day Two)
Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day Three)
Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day One)
Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day Two)
Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day Three)
Learning Through Inspiration: Natasha Valkovskaya (Day One)
Learning Through Inspiration: Natasha Valkovskaya (Day Two)
Learning Through Inspiration: Jill Foster (Day One) on Penny Black blog

MOOD WHEN DONE: EEEK. I'm pretty excited. I love writing and I love stamping and the opportunity to write in my own voice on a company blog has been a goal of mine. And for it to be Penny Black is a super dream come true! I hope you enjoy the series.

Mar 15, 2019

Happy Birthday Justice Ginsburg

Today is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's 86th birthday and, along with a few friends, we are celebrating with a little blog hop and giveaway!

My reasons for wanting to participate in this blog hop are below. But before the chat -- the card and the hop!

Isn't this fun? The PERFECT set.

Used Kelly Purkey's Wonderful Women set, which Kelly kindly sent to me. (Honestly, I wasn't super familiar with Kelly's stamp designs but once I saw them, I now have another wish list! I think my favorite is Littles.)

Made the background with a stamp from Flora & Fauna's Texture Two (I cut the stamp to get the size I wanted) and stamped with Wild Honey, Picked Raspberry and Wilted Violet Distress Oxide inks.

Blog Hop and Giveaway

Here's a list of the other wonderful women participating in this Happy Birthday hop.

Joan Bardee (me)
Michele Ferguson 

Kelly Purkey and Hero Arts each donated 2 stamps sets for us to give away. Hero Arts donated Dare to Dream and Kelly Purkey donated 2 copies of Wonderful Women (link above). Thank you!  

Winners will be chosen from all the comments on the hop made through March 19th, 11:59ET.  Winners will be announced on this blog and Coni Longley's blog a few days later. 

Why Celebrate Justice Ginsburg's Birthday?

Of course I've known who Justice Ginsburg is since she was sworn in on the Supreme Court, and perhaps a little before then.

But I really never gave her much thought, and I didn't know anything about her -- until I saw On The Basis of Sex. I was stunned to find myself crying through the whole movie. The movie has some sad and difficult moments, and it has a David v Goliath theme, but it isn't what I would call a tear jerker.  

So why cry through the whole movie?

The concept of "equality" is a bit of a fiction. We are all born into vastly different circumstances -- some die from a lack of medical care shortly after birth; others live as princes. And throughout our lives, things happen that result in an uneven playing field. A job applicant with no way to get to the interview, a kid who has to take care of her siblings because her parents are addicted to drugs, a foster child, a child who gets cancer, a victim of a crime -- a million things happen over which we have no control.

Life is unfair and makes for an uneven playing field.

But the one thing that shouldn't stand in the way of opportunity, of jobs, or access to school, or a place to live -- is our law. We may not be able to fix all, or even most, of life's problems, our laws shouldn't make life harder.

Ruth Ginsburg argued that a law that prevented a man who was taking care of his sick mother from using from a tax break only because he was male should be struck down as discrimination on the basis of gender.

She won and that was huge. She leveled the playing field for men who wanted to stay home and take care of a sick parent.

That case, shown in the movie, reminded me of the battles that have been fought over the years by Justice Ginsburg and others like her to make sure our laws don't make our lives harder than they already are.

I didn't cry during the movie because I've faced sex discrimination in my life (I have, but I dealt with it). Rather, it reminded me of other, more difficult battles, that I overcame, but only with help from others. The movie's portrayal of one woman overcoming her own personal battles and fighting for others reminded me of those battles and those victories. Thus, the happy and wistful tears.

Most of us just take care of our own business every day. But people like Justice Ginsburg fight for others. We need those people. They do the heavy lifting for the rest of us.

Thank you, Justice Ginsburg and I hope you are having a wonderful birthday.


Edited to add:  Kelly Purkey has a freebie related to RGB in her newsletter today. You can find it here

Mar 13, 2019

Thinking About Sentiments

I love this sentiment from Right at Home's Grateful Heart. I used it along with Mondo Magnolia, designed by Julie Ebersole for Ellen Hutson, to make this quick card.

I'm very picky about sentiments. I have to believe them to use them -- which is why you will rarely see me using a sentiment that says something along the lines of "everything will be all right" or "all you need is love" when it is clear we need a lot more than love. I understand the kind intent behind sentiments like this, but there are many times when everything is not all right or we really need an antibiotic or a reinker. Reality!

I almost feel this way about this sentiment. Gratitude doesn't change everything. It doesn't cure cancer or heart disease or famine or the problem with airplanes falling out of the sky. But gratitude sure helps (a lot) to cope with bad things. The older I get the more I hang on to gratitude.

So I'm voting yes for "gratitude changes everything" even though it doesn't really. And yes, this is how my brain works -- as my mom once said to me "you think way too much about stuff that doesn't matter." 


Mar 11, 2019

Christmas Layered Poinsettias

Love the look of layered stamps, but I still find it hard to line up most floral images. That's why I love the Penny Black series of brushstroke stamps. If you use them with a stamp positioner, like the MISTI or Tim Holtz one, layering is a breeze.

To make this card, I followed the suggestions that Jill Foster makes in her videos on using these stamps -- use small ink cubes or dye markers and a stamp positioner.  For each set of flowers I colored the image with a lighter Tombow marker followed by the darker one on some parts of the flowers. Because the stamp stays in the positioner, you can add the darker layer effortlessly. I did the same for the leaves with 2 green markers. Used a gold pen to add some color to the center of the flowers.

I did not add any water, but misting the stamp while inked, or painting with a slightly wet brush, will give a more watercolored look. Both styles are gorgeous.

Supplies:  Penny Black Le Fleur Rouge (I've held on to this beauty for a while and will not be getting rid of it!); Penny Black Yuletide Wishes; Tombow Markers 803, 856, 249, and 133; Arches hot press watercolor paper; Versafine Onyx ink; gold pen.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Very happy! My minor hand surgery went fine and I only missed a couple of days of stamping.

Plus, I love this card and now I have ONE Christmas card done for 2019. Thanks to my friend Leslie Miller for inspiring me to get started early on Christmas.

Mar 5, 2019

Winner of Giveaway

I had my husband pick a number and he chose #3! So, Ginger Na is the winner of my box of supplies.  Ginger, please email me at and I'll get the box out to you.

Thanks everyone for playing. Loved reading your crafty wish lists! 

Mar 4, 2019

Using Older Products

Every six months or so I go through all my craft supplies and decide what to keep. This is the only way I feel comfortable with the hobby. I don't like things that I cannot find or a big mess. I do the same thing with my clothes and kitchen stuff. Inevitably, I find things that I forgot I had -- it's like shopping with no cost!

This weekend I found 2 dies -- this ornate frame (manufacturer unknown) from Altenew's New Day Card Kit, and this beautiful flower and leaves die from Penny Black -- and decided it was time to use them or giveaway. Using them won. Thank you to several folks who identified the die! It's a keeper.

I originally die cut a gold glitter frame and wanted to make a few layers to adhere together. I used an Altenew Chocolate Brown alcohol marker to color a white frame to put behind the glitter one (I didn't want white peeking out). The colored frame looked a little like wood and I decided to use it this way (I made 2 layers.)

Die cut the flowers and leave from the backside of some hotpress watercolor paper disaster. Added color with Zig Clean Color pens and a waterbrush. Then added Wink of Stella clear glitter pen over the flowers. Love that shine!

The sentiment is from an older Altenew Set -- Label Love.

Everything's popped up with foam tape, which brings the design some life.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Great. I'm almost done going through my stash and it's such a good feeling to see empty boxes and plastic sleeves and more space.

Later this week I'm having a very minor procedure on one of my hands, so I may be out of commission for a couple of days (milking it to avoid cooking!).

Mar 2, 2019

Gratitude Giveaway

Very grateful for all my readers and commenters. Decided it's time (again) to clean out and want to share with one of my readers. In order to keep the postage down, I've got to limit this to US addresses.

EDITED: Looks like I'm also adding a few other items!

Mar 1, 2019

Springtime Card

I die cut the beautiful, beautiful, beautiful Pinkfresh Studio Folklore cover plate 3 times with white cardstock and, using spray adhesive, glued them together and then adhered them to a white card. I then die cut again with Gina K Passionate Pink and Paper Source Mint cardstocks. Then I took my sweet time gluing all those pink and green pieces. The sentiment is from Altenew.

There are easier ways to use this beautiful cover plate and I'll use them soon. But in the meantime, this was fun. For reasons I can't figure out, some of the pink or green pieces would slide right into their slots and others had to be pushed in with a pick -- that left some marks on a few of the pieces but I'm hoping the recipient doesn't notice (or care!).

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Longing for spring! It's cold and gray again today in Dallas. Guarantee that in about 3 months I'll be whining about it being too hot. What is it about the weather that affects us so much??

Feb 27, 2019

Going Mondo!

One of the best things about doing the Learning Through Inspiration series is that it focused my attention on my current stash.**  So once again I found myself looking though my supplies. I wanted a big bold design and remembered this fantastic image by Julie Ebersole -- Mondo Magnolia.

Looks "simple" doesn't it? Stamp the image with a nice dark black ink (Versafine Onyx did the trick) and add a gold glitter paper die cut (from Flora & Fauna) sentiment. I love how it turned out! But lest you think it's "simple" -- this is the 6th card I made with this set. The first 5 are works in progress or in the trash! HA

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Happy with the card!

It's cool and gray today. We've had a lot of gray days this winter. When the sun comes out I look around and soak it in. Every bit of sun enjoyed yesterday helps with the gray days today. There's a lesson there!

** oh that doesn't mean I've stopped looking or buying (but not too much).

Feb 20, 2019

Altenew Alcohol Markers: A Review

Disclosure: I have no affiliation with Altenew and paid full price for the alcohol markers.

Source: Altenew Shop
Many years ago I bought some Copic markers and haven't had a great experience. Initially, some of the markers I bought were dry out of the box and I didn't realize it. I thought that was how they were and I could not understand the rave reviews and beautiful results I was seeing online. It took me about a year to figure out that a few of them, including the colorless one, were bone dry (no genius here).

After I reinked the dry ones, I eventually realized that the ones I had didn't match or blend well. I had made the mistake of thinking that if the numbers were near each other, they would be a perfect blend. Sandy Allnock, a supremely talented artist, has a wonderful hex chart available that shows which Copic colors work together. You can buy the chart already filled in or fill in a blank chart with your own markers. I realized when I filled in my chart that almost none of my colors were near each other. If I was going to use my Copics, I would need to buy a lot more of them.

Then Altenew came out with alcohol markers, and I decided to give them a try. I have what Altenew calls Sets A and B.

  • They come with two tips -- the brush tip that Copic markers have and a small bullet tip. The small bullet tip is more useful to me than the chisel tip that Copic markers have.
  • They come in sets designed to be used together. The markers are the same colors as their inks (although because they are alcohol based, not water based, not all of them are an exact match to their dye inks). I have many of the Altenew inks and love their colors.
  • Altenew has a free printable chart of its markers, so when it is time to use the markers, I just refer to the chart.
  • I love that Altenew has done the work for me. 
  • They are triangle shape and comfortable to hold and won't roll off the table.
  • The top and bottoms of the markers have the true color on them as well as the number.
  • Altenew also sells alcohol ink refills and refill brush tips. I refilled one marker and found it easy to do.
  • The refill bottles stand up and are easy to store.
  • I'm not an alcohol ink pro -- I don't need tons of colors, just ones that work together.
  • They are black and the color names are on small black labels and can be hard to see.
  • It is hard to pull off the tops. I'm hoping this gets easier as I use them. 
  • You can buy them singly or in sets. Some of the sets include duplicates of others. It can be confusing, so just be careful.
  • The packaging is beautiful, but a bit wasteful. For example, each refill bottle is shrink wrapped in plastic, which is excellent. However, the bottle comes in a lovely printed box and that box is also wrapped in plastic. Most people will throw out the box and of course, both plastic wrappers. Would love to see all companies pare down on wrapping as much as possible. 
Bottom Line:  Would I buy these again? YES. I love these markers and hope to purchase more colors. I use them along with my Copics but will not replace my Copics as they dry out.

Feb 19, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Natasha Valkovskaya (Day 2)

This is part of a series of improving my cardmaking by studying other designer's cards. You can find out more about this series here.

Today I'm focusing on a card by Natasha that I saw on her Instagram feed. It's another beauty!! Thank you again Natasha for permitting me to post your cards on my blog.



  • Everything
  • Natasha used an acrylic block to color the top part of the card and the flowers. This creates the light open feeling that I love.
  • Black + White + One bright color = A Winner
  • The flowers are placed in a way that move your eye around the sentiment. 

  • Still love the look created by using an acrylic block, but haven't quite mastered it. But I can mimic it by using the (no longer available) Ranger Distress Stains to color paper. It doesn't produce the same look, but I like it. Just lightly rub the dauber bottle across the paper. 
  • If I had to do it again, and I will, I'd stamp a flower off the edge. That would help with the "flow" of the images. Placing these images was difficult. I moved them around quite a bit.
  • Using the Modern Graphics dotted paper designed by Julie Ebersole adds to the interest of this card. I was surprised that this patterned paper could handle some Distress Stain. Love it!
  • I had been browsing floral sets, feeling like I had "none." Turns out I have more than none floral sets! 
My supplies: Altenew Bamboo Rose stamp set; Modern Graphics paper; Versafine Onyx ink; Mermaid Lagoon Ranger Distress Stain; detail scissors; foam tape.


I'll be taking a break from this Learning Through Inspiration series and will be posting other cards, but I'll be returning to it in a bit. Very gratified by the response to the series. I read every comment and am putting together a blog post just on the comments I've received here on the blog, as well as on Instagram, Facebook, and privately.


Feb 15, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Natasha Valkovskaya (Day 1)

This is part of a series on improving my cardmaking by studying other designers' cards. You can find more about the series here.

Today I'm beginning a few days focusing on the marvelously talented Natasha Valkovskaya. I found Natasha on Instagram, where she goes by the name of Craft Away With Me. That is also the name of her blog.

I selected Natasha because her cards have a fair amount of white space and I love how she adds painted backgrounds. I'm a huge fan of everything she makes. She does design work for Pinkfresh Studio, which is one of my favorite companies.


  • This is my favorite type of card -- paper, ink, and a stamp.
  • The watercoloring is gorgeous -- lots of variation and pairs perfectly with the script style font of the sentiment. Natasha explained in this post that she used an acrylic block to stamp the ink on the side of the card. Came out fantastic!
  • The gold speckles integrate the gold sentiment with the border of color.
  • LOVE the font and size of the sentiment. You can find that Pinkfresh Studio set here.
  • The simplicity of this card is very appealing. Painting a border, adding some speckles, and embossing a sentiment? No embellishments?  This is my kind of card; I can do this.

  • I cannot "do this."
  • Natasha's card is deceptively "simple." I tried Distress Oxide inks, Distress inks; watercolors; and 2 kinds of watercolor markers (there were other efforts that didn't make it into the picture.) I tried direct to paper, watercolor brushes, and an acrylic block. A lot of watercolor paper died in this effort.
  • The biggest lesson here is to know my strengths and weaknesses. As much as I would love to be able to make Natasha's card, it's not a skill I have, at least not today. Before I buy that sentiment set I better have another use in mind. 
  • I'm never going to make light and airy cards like Julie Ebersole, color or draw like Sandy Allnock, or create little beauties the same way Lisa Spangler does. Since hope is eternal, I've had to relearn this lesson several times. 
  • The best way to cope with my weaknesses is to work on them if is important to me, and/or focus on my strengths.  
  • I don't need to be able to make this particular card to enjoy stamping. There's plenty of other techniques and styles that I can do.
MOOD WHEN DONE:  The past few weeks of studying other people's cards has been a lot of fun. As frustrating as it was not to be able to recreate Natasha's card, it was a very good learning experience.

Feb 13, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day 3)

This post is part of a series on improving my cardmaking by studying other designers' cards. You can read more about it here.

Today I'm back learning more from Laura Bassen a/k/a The Rainbow Queen.


  • I focused on the card on the left (although that critter is pretty cute.) My favorite thing about this card is the combination of a rainbow color scheme with a lot of white.
  • There aren't any difficult techniques.
  • Every element is perfectly laid out -- it's crisp, clean, and perfectly straight.
  • Laura's rainbow starts and ends with the purple strips, but the other colors aren't repeated. And, it looks like the darkest purples are a bit smaller than the other colors. There's a lesson there on helping the eye focus on the tree by having the purples as bookends. At least I think so!

  • One of the best ways to learn through inspiration is to take the time to identify the underlying elements in a card that I like, and then take those elements and make a card with them. The elements I identified in this card were the rainbow and white combination. I could have chosen stripes and trees, rainbows and trees, color peeking out from a detail die, etc., but I wanted to focus on the rainbow colors with a lot of white.
  • Rather than try and copy the card, this time I decided to just let my thoughts go. 
  • I had been thinking about a gorgeous new gerbera daisy stamp by Julie Ebersole. What if I bought it and painted it rainbow style? That would have taken time and, like most stampers, I was in a hurry! What else did I have? I had Julie's beautiful Mondo Hydrangea stamp. 
  • Trying to be creative or original has been a huge waste of my time and supplies, as it actually ended up quashing my creativity. I'm not sure whether it was the fear of being accused of copying someone else's ideas or the feeling that it would be boring to get my ideas from another cardmaker. In any event, I'm done with those thoughts. 
  • Colored the image using a technique I learned from Yana Smakula and mentioned earlier -- stamp with a light ink that is alcohol friendly (I used a pale pink Memento), leave the stamp in your MISTI or other stamp positioner, color with alcohol markers, and then restamp with Versamark and emboss. 
  • If I had to do it over again, I'd choose a skinnier sentiment as this one covers up the central red flower more than I like. 
My supplies:  Essentials by Ellen Mondo Hydrangea stamp and die designed by Julie Ebersole; Altenew alcohol and Copic markers (two each for red, yellow, orange, green, and purple); Wow Bright White Superfine embossing powder; Essentials by Ellen white linen cardstock; foam tape; black cardstock; Simply White Crystal Glossy White Nuvo drops; Versamark. 

MOOD WHEN DONE: This was the most valuable of the lessons since I started this series. The process of how to use another card (or any design) as inspiration without copying it too much was a lightbulb moment for me. Whether you like this card or not, if you are looking to take your cards up a notch, try out this process. Would love to know if it is helpful for you.

I'll be back (next week) with cards inspired by another card maker who I found on Instagram. She's wonderful! 

And in completely unrelated news, I was rejected for the clinical trial of a drug to treat my heart condition. You have to meet certain criteria and my numbers on one test were off by a bit. So frustrating that I cried.

However, I have a good lead on a volunteer opportunity and hope that works out. I mean I just can't stamp all day, can I?

Feb 11, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Follow Through

This post is part of a series on improving my card making by studying other designers' cards. You can find more about it here.


As you can see, this post differs from my previous posts in this series. I'm not focusing on particular cards by Yana Smakula and Laura Bassen. Rather, I decided to make a card incorporating some of the lessons I'm learning (it's an ongoing process) by studying their cards. 

Yana often makes her own backgrounds and pops up a variety of sentiments on one card. Laura blends ink beautifully, often repeats an element for a background, and uses white on black sentiments. So I used those techniques/ideas to make this card. 

I colored 3 alcohol markers onto white cardstock. I could have blended inks or used watercolors, but I wanted to try the alcohol markers. Unfortunately, my lightest marker ran out of ink and the middle one was on the way to doing so. Therefore, I got more of a striped effect, rather than a blend, but there is no blending police on duty here today so I used the hearts anyway.

  • Not surprisingly, its harder to come up with my own design than to rely on someone else's. Design is a skill. Some have a natural eye; others don't and need to practice (and some of us apparently need to practice for years. HA). 
  • Next time I'll lay out all the hearts before I start adhering any of them. I could have spaced them better.
  • I'll make sure my markers are good and juicy before doing this again (need to buy some refills.)
  • I added the sequins after I put together the photo. The card was missing something in the lower right. I felt it needed another sentiment, but I added a few sequins instead. Again, I should have laid out all the hearts and all the sentiments first. Didn't I already learn this lesson 700 cards ago?
  • Whether relying heavily on someone else's design or making my own, stamping is still fun and relaxing. 
My supplies:

The heart die and the sentiments are from The Stamp Market (sentiment set was a free with purchase and I don't see it on the shop yet.); Altenew Alcohol Markers (Frosty Pink, Coral Berry, and Ruby Red); Essentials by Ellen white linen cardstock (it's very white and a favorite for card bases); black cardstock; Wow Bright White Superfine Embossing powder; foam tape.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Once again I am reminded of how fantastic it is to have a hobby I love. 

Feb 8, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day Two)

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


You can find Laura's blog post and video on making this beautiful card, and another one, on the Simon Says Stamp blog here

  • I wanted to try and recreate a card made by Laura so I needed a card that included products that I already had (or something similar). I have 2 sets of hexagon dies (don't ask) and I really wanted to use them. 
  • Making cards is about design + execution. I wanted to take design out of the equation and work just on execution. Could I make a geometric card that was as precise as Laura's? I have hexagon dies and some sentiment dies so I figured this would be a good card to try and recreate. 
  • Laura tucked that white on black sentiment strip right under the large script hello.
  • I liked the color combination. In her video, Laura discussed using colors that were new to her.  I'll get to those colors below.

  • Making a copy, or almost copy, of someone else's card helped me focus on techniques -- blending, placing those hexagons, etc. Very valuable experience!
  • If Laura did not make a video showing how she made her card, I'd charge her with fake card making! HA! Laura used Press'n Seal. She laid out the hexagons, covered them with the Press'n Seal, placed the pieces of foam tape on each hexagon, and then picked up all the hexagons at once. It worked like a charm. 
  • Since it looked so easy, I went out and bought some Press'n Seal. I laid out the hexagons, and as soon as I put the Press'n Seal over them, the hexagons flew all over. I guess it was some type of static cling effect. 
  • I laid out the hexagons again, and this time, no they did not leap up, but the hexagons did not stick to the wrap.
  • So I laid out the hexagons again, and put the Press'n Seal over them. But this time I rubbed the plastic wrap over each hexagon with the end of a paintbrush handle, sealing the wrap to the hexagons. This worked. However, I forgot to put the foam tape on each hexagon, so after I placed them on the card and lifted up the Press'n Seal, they flew all over. Again.
  • Clearly operator error -- I'm going to master Press'n Seal one of these days. However, I ended up hand placing each hexagon one by one, and was happy with the result.
  • Laura used a narrower sentiment. I love the one I used, but it looks a bit too wide for a portrait shaped card. The"hello" die Laura used looks better, and the placement of her sentiment below fits better. I'll be more careful next time to pick a sentiment die that is more proportional and an additional sentiment that fits a bit better. 
  • If I remake the card, I'd lower the "Many Thanks" sentiment just a bit.
  • Laura explained in her video that she purposely used a different color palette. While I don't have the Distress Oxide colors that she used, I tried a bunch of different green/blue combinations and they didn't work out as I don't have enough of a range of colors from light to dark. Even with the card I made, I wish I used colors with a bit more contrast. I'll keep that in mind the next time I blend a variety of colors on a piece of cardstock.
My supplies:

Little B hexagon dies; Distress Oxide inks (Picked Raspberry, Abandoned Coral, and Fossilized Amber); Essentials by Ellen Many Thanks die (appears to be retired); Altenew Many Thanks set (used part of a sentiment); white and black card stocks, foam tape; and Wow Bright White Superfine Embossing Powder.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy! I enjoyed making this card and pretty much like how it came out. It took forever to make because of the mistakes I made, and because I was interrupted by participating in the clinical trial of a drug that I mentioned before. Yesterday I learned that I may not be able to participate in the trial -- basically your heart has to meet certain criteria and mine is off by a few points on one test. Frustrating! I'll know for sure next week. 

Feb 4, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day One)

This is 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 introducing some lessons learned by studying Laura Bassen a/k/a Laurafadora. Thank you, Laura, for permitting me to post your gorgeous cards on my blog and for making such a great contribution to the stamping community.

Laura's work is instantly recognizable -- she's the queen of rainbow coloring, ink blending, precise geometrics, and cute critters. She designs for Simon Says Stamp, Pinkfresh Studio, Mama Elephant, and others. If I owned a stamp company, I'd hire her to design all the stamps and all the samples and then I'd sit back and count my money!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Laura for this blog. You can read that interview here. (It's been 3 years? Wow.) One of the things that impressed me when I was talking with Laura is her dedication to the craft. Laura is relaxed and funny in her videos, but card making is her job and she's not messing around. 


  • Color! Laura's colors are bright and beautiful. 
  • White on black sentiment. Laura uses this often, and helps those bright colors pop even more.
  • Laura's cards are perfectly constructed and spaced -- everything is in the right place and her embellishments do what they are supposed to -- add to the beauty and not distract.
  • Chose these particular cards to begin with because they did not involve tricky placement of geometric images (that's coming!).

  • Laura's cards look easy to make. They are not, and this isn't fawning. Seriously, this was the 5th card I made! I don't have a lot of colored cardstock, so I couldn't make a rainbow with cardstock and my watercolored attempt(s) didn't work out. 
  • Ink blending is hard to do well, but a cover plate hides the mess underneath.
  • Rainbow + white on black sentiment + sparkle is a winner. 
  • Details matter. I have one cover plate and it is exactly an A2 size. I die cut one layer and then die cut a second with fun foam. It was hard to line them up as the foam is flexible. I should have trimmed the edges of the die cut foam slightly before adhering the top layer. I ended up having to do it by hand and it's not perfect.
  • Using a T-Square ruler helps ensure that the sentiment is straight.  
  • However, using a ruler does not prevent stupid mistakes. I adhered the cover plate upside down (I wanted the red/orange/yellow on the top.) Slow down.
  • I want more cover plates! I want more colored cardstock! I want every thing Laura uses. However, there's a hard limit on what I will buy now, and it's fun to make do without -- sometimes.
My supplies:

Essentials by Ellen Bed of Roses Cover Plate; Distress Oxide Inks; Altenew Layered Cupcake (sentiment); White Linen cardstock from Ellen Hutson; black cardstock; Wow Bright White Superfine Embossing Powder; foam; foam tape; clear sequins. 

MOOD WHEN DONE:  I'm delighted with this card. It is fun to look at and was fun to make and give to a friend. 

I'll be back with more lessons from studying Laura, hopefully later this week. I have 4 medical appointments coming up this week, almost all related to the clinical trial in which I am participating. I am so grateful that I have this opportunity to try and find a drug to help people avoid the heart surgery I had, but going back and forth for these appointments is time consuming and messing with my crafting!