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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Ken Oliver Tree of Life Cards

I just realised that I made these cards a few months ago now and totally forgot to post about them! I saw this Ken Oliver Tree of Life Die and Stamp Set on the cover of Simply Cards & Papercraft Issue 160 back in February and loved it.

At the time I couldn't find it in the UK so I ordered it from Amazon via a USA supplier and waited patiently for it to arrive.

When it did I couldn't wait to get started, I stamped the first image on to white card stock and coloured it in with my Zig Real Color Brush Markers and added a little sparkle with Spectrum Noir Sparkle Pen and finished the centre of the flowers off with some Nuvo Drops.

The beauty of the die set is it not only cuts the fine detail of the tree, it also cuts the shaped background panel, and its really easy to line up so you cut it accurately. I folded a piece of white card and used the die to create a card blank by over shooting the fold of the card with the die. See this step by step Papercraft Inspirations video on How to Die Cut A Shaped Aperture Card if you're unsure how to do it.

Once I'd cut the card blank I used Mowed Lawn and Broken China Distress inks to colour the background and added the tree to the base with small foam pads.
I decided to experiment with a different medium on black card stock, my inner would be Goth seems to favour black card to white when making cards, in everyday life I tend to go for black, purple, dark blues and browns, my 'invisible' colours.

I made another shaped card blank to attach the finished tree to using black card and coloured that with a layer of Broken China Oxide Ink which gave the card base a look of a black board which I loved.

This time instead of stamping in black ink, I elected to stamp in Versamark ink and heat emboss the image with some WOW Rich Gold embossing powder. I then coloured the tree with some Metallic Gel Sticks which are primarily aimed at children and are a little cheaper than a set of Metallic Gelatos.

Both products are made by Faber Castell and I have both sets but when using the metallics, I actually prefer the kids Gel Sticks because they seem to have more pigment in them and thus give a richer, more vibrant colour. If you're on a budget, the Gel Sticks also offer better value for money in that although they are about £1 more than the Gelatos, you get 6 Gel Sticks, the same colours as the Gelatos, plus a gold and silver gel stick.

Once I finished the darker tree of life card, I added a gold and black sentiment using the Avery Elle Hugs Elle-Ments dies, in my head there was a reference to tree hugging but it didn't translate as well on the card lol! I love this stamp and die set so much, I've been working on some seasonal versions.

If I could change the set in anyway I would have left off the flowers and added more leaves. Whilst the flowers are pretty it would have been nice to colour just leaves for an autumn tree of life.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Playing With Oxide Inks

Greetings lovely blog land people, I've been playing a lot with my Distress Oxide inks lately, I love how they blend together and with the release of 12 new colours and the promise of 12 more colours come October - please have Squeezed Lemonade amongst them - crafting playtime is a lot of fun.

I've also finally got the hang of creating droplets of water to help lift the colour, no expensive gadget, and to my delight I discovered that the failed attempts prior to now were down to spray bottles not right for the job and not down to my being useless. I bought 3 spray bottle misters - the kind that gardeners use - from my local supermarket, the trigger on them is much better than small pump bottles and they are perfect for the job, a short little squeeze makes big droplets, a full squeeze and we get a light mist.


I've been having a lot of fun creating panels to turn in to cards with the oxide inks that I have and adding water drops and splashes, and I'm loving the results. The top creation isn't a card but a panel that I'm going to frame for my wall. I fell in love with the Visible Image 'Curious Cats' stamp set when I saw it and had to acquire it, not sure the 3 bands of colour works well, but I'll experiment with this set for sure.

The set arrived on Friday morning and I had to play, my first attempt at using the set is a tad basic compared to some of the creations I've seen for this stamp, but not bad for 30 minutes work. I have a lot of ideas for using the set. There are a lot of other Visible Image stamps I'd like to add to my collection in the future as well. The stamps are fabulous quality and stamp like a dream.

Another oxide ink play card creation this week was a card for my nephews 16th birthday, how the years have flown, hard to believe that it was 16 years ago that I moved to Derby but it is and this year will mark 15 years of being married, it doesn't feel that long though! Mind you it doesn't feel like 16 years since my nephew was born. I can post the card now as his birthday has been and gone and I'm so glad that he loved it.

I started by heating embossing in white some of the "We Love Music" stamps that came free with issue 31 of Creative Stamping on to water colour card, I then used rainbow shades of distress oxide inks to create a rainbow effect on the card, spritzed with water and blotted off and allowed the card to dry. I heat embossed the 16 and Happy Birthday sentiment in WOW gold embossing powder using stamps from the "Timeless Moments" set that came with issue 44 of Creative Stamping.

The headphones die is by Fuzzy Lemon and I cut it twice in red and black card and paper pieced the image and used a silver Sharpie to colour the inside of the ear cones once I'd attached the headphones to the card. I decided to add a banner on the same black card I made the base card out of and finished the card off with a few star gems from my stash.

I've been playing with the oxide inks a lot recently, I love the creamy look they give and the texture that looks like chalk with shades of velvet but it isn't either. I don't know if its a new thing syndrome, but I'm finding that I'm reaching for the oxide inks more than the standard distress inks, although I do think that original distress ink colours are a lot more vibrant.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Newton's Nook - Autumn Newton

It's no secret that I'm a crazy cat lady, nor that I acquire cat themed stamps and dies when ever I get the opportunity, so when a set comes along that pairs cats with Autumn, my favourite season, I just can't resist. I bought the new Newton's Nook "Autumn Newton" set from Seven Hills Crafts on Thursday evening and they arrived yesterday morning.

So after a lovely day out with my hubby walking around the grounds of an old, but still working water powered flour mill at Caudwells Crafts & Cafe in Rowsley, and eating a lovely lunch there, followed by a trip to my favourite book store (Brierlow Bar Bookstore) which now has a cafe that sells lovely food and gorgeous cake. I came home and whilst Simon works on his Dr Who K9 project, I stamped and coloured the images and cut them out.

Today I selected the backing papers and put the cards together, the first card I assembled used a backing paper that was a free download with Quick Cards Made Easy a couple of years ago, I'd been wanting to use it for a while but the right project didn't come along.

When I stamped the image and started colouring it in I knew that I wanted to use that paper as a background, funny how my mind stores paper images waiting for the right project lol! I added the image to a white card circle die cut from my Tonic Sew Pretty "Have a Beautiful Day" die set, the pierced circle and scalloped edge dies are becoming my most used dies this year I think. It's very versatile and I used it as a base for so many different kinds of cards from get well soon to birthday and even Christmas cards, and I can see it being used a lot for a long time to come. I know we don't get blue leaves naturally in autumn, but I wanted to bring in the blues on the backing paper so chose to colour some of the leaf pile blue. The sentiment I heat embossed with WOW Rich Gold embossing powder.

I coloured the next image but wasn't really happy with my shading, its a work in progress and I will get there eventually, trying to believe that you get better with practice, but I admit to getting frustrated. I decided to use one of the free papers I got from a free download from the amazingly talented Harper Finch, she has an Etsy shop and also generously gives free downloads.

The pumpkin backing paper on this card is from Harper's "Spookable" collection. I decided to simply layer this all together with a piece of white card that I die cut with one of my My Favorite Things Stitched Scallop Basic Edges Die-namics, the sentiment was again done with the same WOW embossing powder. All of the sentiments on these three cards are from the Autumn Newton Stamp set and you get an extra one that says "Fall Breeze, Autumn Leaves".

The final card I decided to make a card blank using Kraft Card, the backing paper is from another Harper Finch collection called "Woodland Tea Party" and is available via her website.

Again I used one of the dies from the MFT Stitched Scallop Basic Edges Die-namics collection and the same WOW embossing powder. I coloured all the images with my Zig Real Color Brush Pens and on some of the images I used some Sparkle pen to add some shimmer and shine.

I have a couple of other Newton's Nook sets that I haven't used yet, so I'll be playing with them over the next few weeks. I'm going to stamp the images and try colouring with my Ink Tense pencils and some with Gelatos, some images I'll stamp and heat emboss as well. 

I'm really pleased with the way all three cards turned out, even if I feel like my colouring isn't right, I have a couple of other cat stamp sets to play with as well over the next few days, including a new Avery Elle Halloween cat set and I'll add a post to the blog when I've finished playing, that's all for now, I hope life is treating you well. Stop by again soon :)

Friday, 18 August 2017

Diet Progress - 18th August 2017


I may have already mentioned that I'm back on the weight loss train again, if not so far then I am now, I thought I'd add a weigh in post more for myself to look back at the week and progress or not and jig myself along when I flounder. So today marks the start of tracking a new regime that started on the 4th August 2017.

Where I weighed in at 17 stone exactly, my ultimate goal is to reach between 9st - 10st (dependant on when I feel like I've lost enough). That said, seeing the end goal of 7-8 stones in front of me, it seems such a long way off, so I'm breaking it down in to smaller goals of 1st until I've collected them all lol!

I've told Mr FitBit App that my initial goal is 14st which is 3st with 4 or 5 left to go, as I get closer to the goal I will up it until I get to my final destination. I have a long history of dieting and I always fail, lack of dedication, willpower, motivation... I know not why, but this time I really want to succeed. So I'm trying a new approach and Friday morning is the day I've elected to weigh myself to see how well I've done, or not as the case may be.

The logic is that I weigh myself before any weekend indulgences, my new regime is a reverse of the 5/2 diet, the 5:2 diet is 5 days of eating whatever you like and 2 days of eating just 500 calories a day! My version I stick rigidly to 1,750 calories Monday through to Friday, then I have a diet day off on Saturday where I can eat whatever I like, then Sunday I count the calories and don't exceed a maintenance days allowance of 2,223 calories and then I get back to 1,750 on Monday and rinse and repeat.

I got week one under my belt with a 4lb loss which I was really pleased about, I'd like to say that this week has been smooth sailing but there was some family drama, and a tragedy this week and I confess to pigging out on kit-kats!!! I tried to 'fix' the error by adding them to my food diary as breakfast the next day and skipped said breakfast to make up for it, bad I know, but at least I tried to compensate. There was also a cheese and pickle wrap incident as well, which I felt bad about, so Wednesday turned in to a maintenance calorie day but I got back to it Thursday and I'm still on it, old me would have took the slip as a sign and not got back on the diet train at all.

I've racked up 47,833 steps since Monday out of the 49,000 that I'm scheduled to do this week, my Fitbit week runs Monday to Sunday so I still have Saturday and Sunday to increase my steps further, I'm currently scheduled to do 7,000 steps a day, I've upped them over the past few weeks when I started 2 weeks ago I was doing 6,000 a week, I've done extra during this week to help move the weight.

After the wobble midweek I was very nervous about getting on the scales this morning but when I did I was relieved to discover that I'd lost 1¾lb despite my messed up moments. As I'm aiming for 1lb a week, any more is a bonus, and this weeks loss puts me at a 5¾lb over 2 weeks, almost half a stone 😊 I'm hoping to have lost another 4lb or more before I go on my holidays next month, and then when I get back continue with the new regime until I get to the end.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Sometimes Size Really Does Matter...

Cute little pop up box isn't it? This is one of my 'bargain' China dies that turns out to not be that much of a bargain, insomuch as the die itself isn't the same size as the true Lawn Fawn die. So when I thought I was getting a bargain at £2.70 and saving myself around £25.00, I wasn't. Not if I want to make actual Lawn Fawn Scalloped Box Card Pop Up to add my Lawn Fawn stamps to, so that everything is to scale.

It's a shame really as the die cuts really well and all the bits are included but sadly the width of the box is supposed to be 3½ inches it's only 2½ inches. It's usable if you want to make a small pop up and the dies that come with it will be useful like the hello die and the small hearts and stars, even the little banner dies will be useful but size wise its not big enough. Hubby took pity on me and treated me to the full size one so I  can proceed with my Xmas card pop up ideas and I've chalked it up to experience, at least I was only £2.70 out of pocket.

I had the same problem with the Lawn Fawn Fancy Box set, this one is supposed to be 3½ inches by 2¼ inches but in actual fact its 3 inches by 2 inches, it makes a cute little treat box but it isn't big enough to fit a gift card in. Its about the size of 2 match boxes side by side to give you an idea, just a fraction too small to take a gift card 3⅜ inches by 2⅛

This time the size wasn't as big a problem because I'd bought the die set to hold sweets and small gifts like jewellery which will fit comfortably and the word sentiments 'Thanks' and 'Yay' and the label dies will be very useful, so worth the £3.80 paid for this one, but if you are expecting to get the full size die you'd be disappointed.  The quality of both dies is really good for the price, its just a shame that the scale is wrong, but for the price I guess it would be daft to expect it to be the same.

I also picked up a Lawn Fawn Leafy Tree Backdrop: Portrait and also Landscape for less that £3 each, again a big saving and whilst the die is the same quality as the Lawn Fawn one and even the right size and has all the right additional bits (stitched hill or tree background and leaves), it cuts to put the tree on the right hand side of the die cut, whereas the Lawn Fawn cuts with the tree on the left, unless all the card examples I've seen are turning the die cut about.

Again though its something I can live with, the Landscape clone version of the die is the same, the tree is on the opposite side of the original. I have tried die cutting and flipping the cut image over, but sadly the back is dull and the edges look as crisp. It's something to be mindful of though and I'm wondering what will happen with the other dies I've ordered will look like, will they be reversed as well? The Lawn Fawn 'Little Town Border' die certainly appears to be, again its not the end of the world, but its worth noting that the images are reversed? It's probably how they manage to get away with looking so much like the real deal dies?