Thursday, 26 May 2016

Here Comes The Sun

I think its pretty safe to say that I'm becoming addicted to making easel cards, I think this is the 10th one that I've made, I made oval shapes and circle and I'm planning some rectangular and square easels, I'd also like to make some shaped like stars and hearts, but so far I haven't got dies big enough to make anything but tiny cards, I could uses a template I guess but I'm not that good at cutting very accurately.

This summer sunshine card is my card for the Stamping/Digi challenge for May that I was hosting over on the DoCrafts website, for my challenge I asked participants to make a project using a stamp or digi image that celebrated Summer Sunshine and used nice sunny, bright colours. When I set the challenge we had glorious sunshine, today as the challenge ends its cold and grey and threatening to rain, so its nice to be reminded of the sun. There was some lovely entries, I love hosting the challenges and seeing what others make from the prompts, the DoCrafters are a very creative lot, I've made lots of friends and discovered lots of new card making delights from their creative sharings, and my stash has grown a lot as well lol!

I've not been doing much crafting this past two weeks, which is why I haven't been blogging much, I've been working hard to do my daily steps and try to get a good weight loss, I want to be almost 1st 7lb lighter for my holidays in July so I have a lot of work to make that happen. It's happening slowly, week 3 now, my weigh in day is tomorrow, so I won't know until then how much (if anything) I've lost this week, my clothes are feeling loser though and my Resting Heart Rate is now down to 63 bpm, almost down 10 points. I'm sleeping better as well which is a huge bonus, I did note last night when I was crafting making the sunshine card that my RHR dropped to 59 bpm, the lowest I've ever seen it, proof that crafting relaxes me I think. :)

Back to my card, as I left it until the last minute I did a 'panic' make, I did buy the stamp set with the challenge in mind, when Cutting Edge Crafts has the Inkadinkado stamps in a sale earlier in May, I was originally going to use Brusho's to create a kind of tie die effect and make a hippy kind of card, but due to time it didn't happen. Instead I coloured a circle of card using ink dusters with Dandelion, Tangelo and Cantaloup Memento inks and then used Versamark ink to stamp several stamps from the 'Inkadinkado Stamping Gear Celestial' stamp set on to the circle. I don't have the gadget to guarantee accurate stamping and as the Versamark is clear, it wasn't easy to see what I stamped, so some of the suns 'rays' are a little off.

To make the easel card base and the layers I used sheets of 220gsm card in a golden yellow and bright orange from a 24 x 34cm Craft Sensations pad that I picked up from The Range for £2.99, the pads have 25 sheets and contain a great mix of colours in every colour in the rainbow. To cut the base I used the largest die from the Tonic Studios 483E Scalloped Circle Layering Die Set and used the next size down to cut out my topper panel and the orange base topper. The topper and orange piece was attached to a straight circle die from the Presscut Circle Nesting die set and glued to the front of the easel card.

I used gold Cosmic Shimmer Detail Embossing Powder in 'Bright Gold' for the sun and the sentiment, the sentiment came from a freebie set with a card mag last year, but I forget which one. I really will have to label them with mag and date and keep an index so I can find them! I finished the card off with small amber-orange gems from my stash, I think these were from The Works. I'm off now to get a 5,000 plus step walk in, then maybe later a little more crafting. I'm hoping that I'll have more crafting time this weekend as its a bank holiday? Whatever the weather and whatever you're doing I hope you have a fabulous weekend and thanks for stopping by :) Debs x

Friday, 13 May 2016

Happily Ever After Easel Card

Hello everyone out there in blog land, I hope your week has been good and the sun is shining on you? It's a tad duller here today but at least the rain has gone and we have patches of blue sky, I have a weekend of walking planned and some gardening and hopefully some crafting with a new Wild Rose stamp and die set I just got!

On the crafting from, it's official, I'm addicted to easels! As per my previous post about getting healthier and spending lots of spare time walking this last week, I haven't had much time to do any paper crafting.

That said I did make a few easel blanks and create this card with some new dies I got recently two I mentioned recently in another post,  they arrived on Tuesday morning and I used the Sue Wilson Special Occasion Happy Couple die and the Ornate Framed Happily Ever After die, to create this card. Coupled with the Spellbinders Elegant Ovals die set.

I kept the design very simple, I was originally supposed to be making some invites for someone but they changed their mind, but I'd already bought loads of linen card and purple mirror card, so I have stacks of it to try and use up. I think I'll use the majority of it making xmas cards teaming it with white and silver.

The oval easel I die cut from an A4 piece of card that I folded over and then used the largest die from my Tonic Studios Layering Mixed Oval Die Set, after that all I had to do was use the same die to cut 2 purple mirror panels, then cut two white shapes using the largest die from the Elegant Ovals set. I cut both the Sue Wilson dies out in the purple mirror card and another of the elegant ovals to form the stop for the easel. All I had to do then was glue it all together, I attached the stopper with some 3D foam pads and the card was complete. I did try adding some gems and flowers, but decided in the end that it looked okay as it was. I'm certainly going to make more of these for my charity box, although not in the same colours :)

Healthy Me, Mark... Ummm I've Lost Count

I haven't done as much crafting this week as I would have in previous weeks, that's because last Friday I decided to try and tackle my weight issues and get fitter and healthier. My sister-in-law and a few friends have been using a device called a FitBit and its been helping to motivate them by increasing activity. The gadget comes with an app that you can use to track calories by inputting everything you eat, you can track your activity, how much you drink, your resting heart rate - although not all models measure heart rate - and even how well (or not) you sleep.

So last Friday I invested in a Charge HR and the Aria scales that can be used with it to measure body fat, weight and your BMI, by the time we'd got back from Argos and I'd charged the Charge and set everything up it was gone 7pm so most of the day was over, but I still managed to clock up 4,233 steps. That doesn't sound like much but I estimate that on a very good day where I did cleaning and shopping, I would have managed about 2,000 - 3,000 at best. Only managing more if we went to visit a National Trust place, which wasn't happening that often lately I have to admit.

As you've probably guessed from the title of this post, dieting and cutting back isn't new to me, I've been on so many diets in my life that I've lost count of the number of times I've tried to lose weight, from wacky diets like the cabbage soup diet, to Slimming World regimes and a stint on the F-Plan in the 80's. On every diet I've done well, but as soon as I stopped - and stopped I always have - the weight piled back on with more besides. One thing that never occurred whilst losing weight was taking regular exercise, I'm a keep FAT kind of person and not a keep FIT kind of person. At least I was!

This little gadget may well have been the single most important buy of my life, yes even more than my Big Shot Plus! Since Friday I've clocked up 55,617 steps so far an average of 8,395 steps a day. I've pegged the washing out and changed the bed and a couple of other things since taking my daily step count to over 1,086 so far :) I've seen my my resting heart rate come down from 72bpm to 67bpm in just 1 week and my BMI has dropped by 43.7 to 43.2 not a huge difference but its a good step in the right direction.

I have a lot of weight to loose so I've decided to do it in 1 stone increments, and this morning I got on the scales to discover that I was 19% of the way to my first goal having lost almost 3lb this week. Baby steps but this time I'll get there! Never before have I combined diet with exercise and yes I know I'm not jogging or doing aerobic workouts, but what I'm doing still counts as exercise.

I'm getting extra steps up and down the stairs, for example I bring my breakfast upstairs in two stages now, I work at the PC writing so I generally eat breakfast whilst I catch up with emails or browse Facebook. I bring my coffee up first then go back downstairs for my cereal and fruit, empty bowls and mugs go back to the kitchen the same way, first the bowl, then the mug. I've moved the kettle and coffee etc to the bottom of the kitchen about 5 steps further from its original place, not much but to get to the kettle and back now I need to do 10 extra steps, that's for every coffee I make usually around 4 per day, that's 25,550 extra steps per year!

It's not easy, the photo of me at the start of this post shows me with a very red face halfway round a 2 mile walk, it will get easier! I guess I was hoping that I'd lose a little more weight this week, but its not going to happen over night, I just have to keep working at it, I've started with a goal of 5,000 steps a day, tomorrow I up them to 6,000 and will continue to up them until I reach 10,000 steps a day. I'm watching what I eat, having around 1,500 calories a day, so far I've eaten nothing that resembles diet food, I've enjoyed pasta with mozzarella cheese, green thai curry and even ice cream cones. I've just eaten smaller portions, and I'm now having breakfast, lunch and dinner, I used to skip breakfast or just grab a few biscuits or a banana.

It's very early days, but I'm hoping that the Fitbit will help me get there, as a gamer I'm finding it a challenge to beat my "high score" and try and do better each day. It's the game of life and I have to be better at looking after my health and body, fingers crossed it works, for now we're 1 week in and I'm almost 3lb thinner, I have a lower resting bpm and a lower BMI, baby steps in the right direction. This time I can do this and I will :)

Friday, 6 May 2016

First Ever Easel Card - White Swan

This card felt a little out of my comfort zone when I first decided to make it because I've never made an easel card before. I've seen some of the lovely easel cards created by some of the talented people on the DoCrafts forum and I wanted to have a go myself. Suffice to say I'm now hooked, it was a lot easier to make the easel than I thought it would be, and I can see many more of them in my cardmaking future. I plan to make other circle easel cards and also square, oval and rectangular easels.

The beautiful swan photo image on the card I printed off from a photo taken by my friend Marie, who takes stunning wildlife photos. When I saw this swan, I asked if I could use it to make a card, she said yes, it's taken me a while to find the right 'setting' for it, but here it is. I hope she likes it?!

I didn't want to detract too much from the image so I tried to keep the decoration simple and keep to using just white and silver elements from the card. I die cut the easel base from a 6" x 6" card base, then cut out 2 more circles in Centura Pearl Snow White with a hint of silver card. The frilly edge was cut with the largest die from the Tonic 'Regal Circle' die set, which was part of my prize when I became the Facebook Fan for Quick Cards magazine last year. This is the first time I've used the die and it won't be the last! The 22cm Tonic Trimmer and the comfort scissors that came with it have been in constant use since I got them, the die was in my box waiting for the right project to come along, I think this was it!

I digress... I glued the two die cuts in place next, one on the base circle and one on the top circle, then I matted the photo on to silver mirror card. The feather die came free with Simply Cards & Papercraft early in 2015, I used that to cut two feathers from the white Centura Pearl card.

For the sentiment, I stamped in Versamark and used Cosmic Shimmer Detail Embossing Powder in 'Silver Shine', the sentiment and frame around it are from the Just Rite 'Enjoy the Day Vintage Labels Four' stamp set. It was die cut with a die from the matching 'Vintage Labels Four' die set also by Just Rite. Both of the sets were bargain buys in the January sales last year, I've tried using them before but I always messed them up. Using Versamark they come out brilliantly every time, so it wasn't me, it was the ink, YAY!

Wanting to keep the design simple as I said, I decided to finish it off with just a few white pearls from my stash, in hindsight smaller ones would have been better but I only had these large ones in white. I've made a note to buy some more, some cream ones as well for future projects. I've just ordered the new Sue Wilson Special Occasion Happy Couple die and the Ornate Framed Happily Ever After die, I think both of these would look fab on easel cards. I have ideas for a lot of different easel cards bubbling in my head, woodland scenes, fairy scenes, festive scenes and lots more.

2016 really does seem to be a year of crafting advances for me, all my cards before were standard flat oblong or square cards, but this year so far I've started working with stepper cards (a post on these coming soon) and now easel cards. My stamping is also improving and so is my colouring. I can't believe I'm the same person who thought I wasn't crafty just over 18 months ago, the best part of the hobby though is the lovely friends I'm making and the calm creating brings, its help with my anxiety and helps me relax.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Bumble Bees and Butterflies Card

You can tell we've just had a bank holiday in the UK, the sun is shining again lol! I don't know about near you, but here in Derby we had grey skies and lots of rain over the weekend, so all the planned garden jobs didn't get done. Today its bright and sunny although not that warm, but warm enough to peg washing out and hope. It's looking like the weather is improving, according to the weather man by the end of the week the temperatures will be around 20°C! I'll believe that when I feel it lol!

As I couldn't do any gardening, I decided to spend some time at the craft desk and made a few cards for challenges I'm taking part in over on the Docrafts forum. The card in the photo was made for the Stamping & Digi Challenge (ending 3rd May 2016), the lady who set the challenge  with the subject "Butterflies & Bees" asked that we created "a project with a stamp or digi as it's focal point and include on it somewhere a butterfly or a bee or both (or multiples thereof)".

As I love butterflies and bees I thought this would be an easy challenge, turns out I ended up going blank until yesterday when I created the card in the photo above. I started by stamping 3 butterflies (although I winded up using just 2) in Versamark ink and heat embossing in 'Black' Cosmic Shimmer Fine Detail embossing powder on to white stamping card. The butterfly stamp I used came free with issue 9 of Crafters Inspiration. Once the heat embossing had dried, I coloured the butterflies in with sparkle pens Dark Orange 'Harvest Moon', Yellow 'Moonlight' and Caramel 'Biscuit', its hard to see the shimmer in the photo but its there.

Once the ink from the pens was dry, I fussy cut the butterflies out, my fussy cutting isn't brilliant so I used a black promarker pen to go around the edge of the butterfly to hide any white bits and the cut edge, this hides a multitude of sins and makes the fussy cut images pop. For the background I used a sheet of paper from a Studio Light 'Weathering Woodgrains' 6" x 6" pad, I picked up from Cutting Edge Crafts last week. I again used Versamark and this time 'Gold' Cosmic Shimmer Fine Detail embossing powder to emboss the largest stamp from the DoCrafts Creativity Essentials Stamp Collection A5 Clear Stamp Set 'Forest'.

The bumble bees are from the 'Flowers & Butterflies' stamp set by a French company called Artemio, I picked the set up on holiday last year. I stamped the bees in Black Onyx VersaFine ink and coloured the wings with clear sparkle pen and added some 'Moonlight' sparkle pen to the body of the bees, it helped to lift them off the paper a little I think. The sentiment is from the Santoro Willow 'Sentiments' set. I stamped it on to white stamping card with VersaFine ink and die cut the sentiment using the medium banner die from the Wplus9 banner die set. I inked round the edges of the banner with Vintage Photo distress ink, something was missing from the card though, I couldn't figure out what then it hit me, and all I added was some fine lines underneath the two words of the sentiment using a black fine line pen.

I attached the butterflies and banner to the front of the card with 3D foam pads et voila it was complete. The card has given me another idea using butterflies for a birthday project for a friend, and I still have a butterfly to use which has gone in my 'Maybe Someday' box for future use. I think I'll made a few more in a variety of colours, I think they'd look good heat embossed in white on vellum as well, but I've not been very successful so far at heat embossing on vellum!

Monday, 2 May 2016

Completely Enveloped!

I'm not sure when it happened, or how, but I appear to have transformed from a being a card maker in to a papercrafter! It started with my frustration at the fact that I can only find white and cream card blanks and envelopes at a reasonable price locally. That and the difficulty of finding patterned envelopes in the same size as my card blank, coupled with the fact that sometimes I make a topper and its just not the right size for the pre-bought card I wanted to put it on, so I abandon the project or put it on a smaller or larger card blank so I have an envelope that will fit.

I decided last week that I'd invest in a couple of pieces of kit that would mean in future I could make my own card blanks in any colour and any size I wanted, and in any card weight as well. I asked the lovely people on the Docrafts forum to recommend their favourite score board and I used their responses to do some research and I ordered a trimmer and scoreboard which I'm waiting to arrive. I decided also that it would be a good idea to have a go at making my own envelopes, so I treated myself at pay day to a We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board.

It arrived yesterday and I couldn't wait to get stuck in, so far I've made a few envelopes for A2 size cards, some for 5" x 5" cards and a couple of floral 6" x 6" envelopes. I've been using a variety of paper pads of 8" x 8" and 12" x 12" sizes I've picked up cheaply so far, I did make a few mistakes initially, I'm a get stuck in and don't read the instructions kind of girl, but I've figured it out now, easy when you know how and from this day forward I'll be able to make cards and envelopes to match, go me!

I just need to buy some lick n stick adhesive to add to the edge of the envelope for sealing in the card now and I've cracked it. Suffice to say I'm rather chuffed with my results, I can make any size from a 2" x 3.5" gift card size envelope right up to 6" x 8.5" envelope, which will cover most of the card sizes I make, I'm pretty confident that with a scoreboard I can make 8" x 8" size envelopes as well. If you can't get the hang of the paper sizes and where to score, American Crafts have produced a free to download Envelope Generator App for Android, I think there is a version for iPhone as well if you're so inclined. Using the app all you have to do is input the size of the card you need an envelope for and the app will tell you what size paper you need and which punch guide to use, isn't technology wonderful?!

I did a little further research today and discovered that using the envelope punch board you can also make paper bows and boxes to hold notelet cards in, as well as small envelope boxes for posting cards that have some dimension to them. I love the idea that I can do more than one thing with the punch board, and tomorrow I'll be having a play. I've found the punch board so useful already after just a day, that I'm seriously considering getting their box making punch board and a pillow box board, I already have their crop-a-dile tools on my wishlist for rounding corners on cards.

This weekend I also got round to playing with the box making die that came as part of the starter set for my Big Shot Plus. It makes a 6.5cm x 6.5cm lidded box, that can be used for making wedding favour boxes or small gifts to hang on the tree at Christmas. The box is the perfect size to put a votive candle, a couple of wax melts or half a dozen of your favourite herbal teas in to send to a friend :)

The set came with a floral die that cuts a floral panel in the box side or lid, some butterflies, hearts and a scalloped straight piece that you can decorate the inside of the box lid with, as well as some flower and leaf dies. I decided to use one of the tattered floral roses I made last weekend on the top of this box.

My box was die cut from an 1 x A4 sheet of Lavender Centura Pearl cardstock, although to me it looks dusky pink, hence using the pink flower to decorate the box. I closed the box with a small piece of pale pink organza ribbon, I'm going to have a go at making a fancier box this week using the other dies that came in the kit. The box in the video was made from card covered in pattern paper, it just occurred to me that I could use the same paper as the envelope to make a co-ordinating gift.