Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Freshly Made Sketches: Thank You Kind Doer

It's time for a new sketch at Freshly Made Sketches!!

I first saw this sketch when I was heading to a crafting date with a friend whom I think has absolutely everything in the Stampin' Up catalog.  I always head right to her new stash and I got to play with stuff from the new Occasions Catalog and the Sale-a-bration specials!

Hello Kind Doer iPiccy WM

The butterfly die is gorgeous - definitely on my personal list.  I love the soft colors on the paper - it and the ribbon are sale-a-bration items.  I realized the gray in the dp was Sahara Sand which I haven't used in quite some time and I really don't know why.  I am in love with gray backgrounds and routinely pull out Simon Says Stamps Fog cardstock - but Sahara Sand is a nice color that takes on gray tones or taupe tones depending on what you need.  I didn't finish this card until I came home because it was crying out for stitching around the edge and I needed my MFT Blueprints die to do that.

Now for my latest sob story.  Back in December, I dropped my good camera and spent the month working with a cheap and very old compact camera.  Luckily, my good camera is now fixed and operational.  Then a week ago, our main family computer blew up.  There was a little luck involved because the morning that it blew up, we had just upgraded the ancient, glacially-slow hard-drive on a second computer to a Chromebox.  It's a wonderful option - it takes the place of the computer box - it's not a hard-drive, it just lets you access the internet.  It's small, it's quiet (no fans needed for cooling), it never gets slower because there's no software on it, and it never gets a virus.  It works for virtually everything I do.  That's a good thing because I have this little parenting problem in that we've been "threatening" our oldest son for the last year that when the good computer blew, we would buy a decent replacement but if he wanted to seriously upgrade things like the video card for his video gaming needs, he should save his money in advance. Guess who hasn't saved?  If I didn't have this good Chromebox replacement, he'd be out of luck, but as it is, I think I can wait until he saves.  There's one minor exception - and that's why you care about any of this....

Without a hard drive I cannot load Photoshop Elements which is my go-to software for editing my card photos.  Major trauma.  I didn't think I could find anything as good as PE - but I have and it's FREE!! Friends recommended Gimp and PhotoPad which could be great options, but still require that the software be downloaded.  So I kept hunting and found Pixlr and iPiccy - both function completely online.  The first card is Pixlr and the second is iPiccy.  Sadly, I can't compare these to Photoshop since I no longer have Photoshop, but I think you can see that each of these is clear and has great dimension - I'm happy with both. And did I mention that they were FREE??!!

Thank You Kind DoerHello Kind Doer iPiccy WM

Pixlr literally looks and acts like Photoshop Elements.  It has the same buttons down the left side.  The expert settings are across the top.  If you are a PE user, it's a very easy transition.  iPiccy is a much cleaner, fresher and more modern tool.  It has all of my favorite adjustments that I used in Photoshop Elements and in many ways they are easier to use.  The biggest downside is the Undo function which undoes the entire session in a tool (feel free to ask me more about this if you are looking at iPiccy) and you can't add a watermark if you truly don't have a hard-drive (you can if you do) - but I just popped into another photo editing software (Picmonkey) which has a very easy process for adding watermarks.

I'm not sure why I am so surprised by all of this.  I'm fairly tech-savvy.  Most of my documents and spreadsheets are now Google Docs because I can access them from my computer, iPad, iPhone or work computers - so I'm aware that expensive software is not always necessary.  Our family calendar is online so we can all add our events and figure out where we all are.  I store photos on Flickr.   But I still truly thought that I was getting a big advantage with Photoshop Elements.  Apparently I can live without that too!

It doesn't seem that I can link Stampin' Up Sale-a-bration items.  I used the Best Year Ever Designer Series Paper and the ribbon from the Accessory pack.  Also...I have linked one of the MFT Fishtail dies for my banners. There are actually two sets which coordinate and I never know whether I am using a die from the original or from the Layers set.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ten Birthday Candles for my Niece!!

My oldest niece turns 10 tomorrow!!  Given that I have teenage boys, it is so fun to buy girly presents and make cards with pink.  This year is a little different since my niece has crossed over into caring about clothes and other "grown-up" girl stuff - so all of my cute little girl stamps won't work anymore.  I decided lots of candles and lots of happy's would be appropriate.  It's definitely not a card that I would make for my teenage boys!

Ten Birthday Candles

All pink seemed a bit too much so I was excited when I saw the current colors at the color throwdown.

My brother and his family live only about a half an hour away so I get many chances to visit.  In the next few weeks, I'm sure we'll have a big birthday party (with pink decorations).  My other niece turns 7 mid-February so we often celebrate with one big party.  It's always interesting to visit.  One time, my 15-year old (13 at the time) came down the stairs with a pink tutu over his shorts and he was wearing a crown and a fairly abashed look on his face.  Apparently he had agreed to being a play with the girls not knowing it meant an embarrassing costume.  For Christmas, the girls' big gift was a karaoke machine.  That was a very loud visit!  But I've also gotten to see Irish Dance recitals, piano recitals, pee-wee soccer games and I even stood in as grandma at grandparent's day (sadly, I'm of an age that I could have been grandma)  - it's so much fun to have them nearby!


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Valentine Grumplings for Teenage Boys

Making valentines for teenage sons is almost impossible.  They'd be happy with a single stamped heart on a card.  Who am I kidding?  They just want the box of chocolates.  But back in December (before I'd even been asked to be on the design team), Taylored Expressions was doing their release for Valentine's Day and I got totally excited over the Valentine Grumplings.  Doesn't this sentiment just scream "teenage boy"!??

Drive Me Nuts

You drive me nuts!  They do drive me nuts!  It's perfect!!

Check out his face.  Usually I see that face staring at back at me - totally annoyed.

Drive Me Nuts Close-Up

I have two teenage sons - 15 and 19.  I got this card done and realized that I had gotten a little carried away. I wanted to use the heart die and then I got the bright idea to make it a hole - like in a tree - do you see it?? Then I decided I wanted to use the woodgrain paper and the patterned paper.  I'm personally thrilled with it, but I think my sons will think it's too much.  So this card will go to youngest son and I did a more CAS card using a different critter and a different grumpling for my oldest son.

Love You Bearly

I love him "bear-ly" - on many days, that's even more perfect!!  This guy has an even grumpier face. 

Love You Bearly Close

I used the current sketch at CAS(E) this Sketch.  I loved the idea of this grumpy bear on a big hill.

I'm thinking I'm going to use these same stamps every single Valentine's Day.  Do you think they'll notice?


Thursday, January 22, 2015

HB2U Balloons

I have just learned that wordpress decided I was spam!!
Of course, they didn't tell me so I've been happily leaving comments,
and if you are a wordpress blog, they sit in your spam folder for awhile
and then disappear.  All is fixed for me now - so if you don't think
you've heard from me in awhile - I've been trying!

I made a birthday card for design team friend and I had to mail it to Canada.  I mailed it ten days ago so I am hoping it is safe to show today!

I like making cards for other cardmakers.  Within my own crafting limits, I try to honor their style. This particular card is for the wonderful Marisa Ritzen from Rosemary Reflections.  (Her birthday was yesterday - I forgot to post!)  Marisa is the queen at using patterned paper.  She uses a variety of patterns and multiple layers, but it never looks over-the-top.  Her work is absolutely lovely.

I am not great at patterned paper - but I thought that I could surely add some as strips and as balloons!!  I picked a paper pad that had more muted colors (Marisa seems to lean toward muted and natural) and I added one bold black and white pattern (she's good at that too!)

HB2U Balloon FB

Happy Birthday Marisa!!


I couldn't find the 6x6 paper pad that I used at any of my favorite online stores - it's We R Memory Keepers Chalkboard.  I did find and link some 12x12s that could do the job.