Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's THANK YOU CARDS Blog Hop

Welcome, Blog Hoppers! The CardMonkey is proud to participate in Crafty Card Gallery's New Year's Thank You Cards blog hop.

During this long weekend (ahhhhhh!), I will try to post as many thank you cards as I can make while hopping along with you. Check back as often as you'd like, as I'll add more cards/ideas. And don't forget to read on, as there will be several opportunities for blog candy added every day! Who doesn't love candy!?

Day 1, Card 1: "You made my day" flower, shown at top: For this card, I first computer-generated the circle-centered text "Thank you so much", and printed the sentiment on white cardstock. At the same time (and lower on the paper), I also printed the curved sentiment "You made my day." Both of the sentiments are easy to set in curves or circles using the Adobe Illustrator software.

I then cut a large white flower using the centerpoint feature on my favorite Cricut Cartridge, "Cake Basics". I inked the edges of the flower in a pretty blue-gray ink in my stash.

Silly sidenote: I got the "Cake Basics" cartridge in my Cricut Cake bundle in August. To be honest, I haven't yet used the pretty red Cricut Cake at all -- I don't have the time! -- but I use the cartridge alllllll the time. Good, basic shapes! Do you have Cricut Cake and have you tried it for anything other than cake decorating? Please let me know!

I cut a second flower in the accent color (blue-gray), bumping up the size by 1/4" to work as a shadow. I rubbed each flower with a stylus, on a foam pad, to soften the cardstock -- then curled the petals using a reverse tweezer. The flower leaves are fussy-cut from ribbon.

The brad was made using polka dot paper and my Imaginisce "I-Top" brad maker. Stitch-punching was done at the lower left and lower right corners of the card, using my sewing machine without thread. (Yes, I know I could just use a pin, too -- but this is easier when the machine's already up. The spacing is already figured out for you!)

OK, Blog Hoppers: Here is CANDY #1. Your "candy" is a set of a dozen handmade brads made by CardMonkey herself! The brads will be appropriate to use on your Valentine's Day cards, as well as your Easter/spring cards. To win:

1. Post a comment to this post. Indicate that you'd like to win Candy #1, and provide me with some e-mail way of contacting you when your name is randomly selected. For an extra chance to win Candy #1, become a follower here, OR let me know you already are a follower.

Scroll down and look for the KISS for MORE CANDY to win! It's the Grand 2010 CardMonkey giveaway!!

Update -- 10:30 a.m. - 12/31/10 -- Already, another card!!

Day 1, Card #2: This is a rather simple but elegant thank you card. On white cardstock, I created and repeated the sentiment using a computer-generated font and printer. Then, using some pink paper scraps cut to the same length/width, I highlighted the sentiments. Adorned each strip with a small rhinestone and for extra zing, affixed a cute Creative Charms flower. I rounded the corners and glued the whole piece onto a pre-made black card with a white interior. Yup ... it took about 10 minutes, tops. Simple and sweet!

More Blog Candy! For a comment mentioning Blog Candy #2, you can win a chance to receive an embellishment grab-bag. Guaranteed it will have some brads, stickers, rhinestones and pearls ... a little of this, a little of that. If you've already commented looking to win Blog Candy #1, go ahead and post again for Blog Candy #2 ... let me know what you think of Card #2 and that you'd also like to earn a chance at this Candy!

And yes, MENTION that you're a follower -- or become a new one -- for an additional chance to win the candy!

And ladies (and any gent followers) ... Here's the big news! For each card/candy you comment upon, you'll receive one entry into the CardMonkey Cricut Cozy giveaway at the end of the Blog Hop!! That's right -- a custom-made cozy cover just for you.

Day 1, Card #3
11:45 p.m.
Frame with Flowers

There's not much time left before the ball drops in Times Square, signaling the end of 2010 and the start of what I hope will be a fabulous year. It's 11:45 p.m. here on the East Coast, and I'm just getting around to making and posting another card for the Spectacular New Year's Thank You Cards Blog Hop.

And yes, there's MORE CANDY so don't forget to post a new comment if you'd like another entry to win this candy that comes along...

For Card #3, I cut a frame from a shimmer lavendar paper. Quite honestly, this cut was in my scrap box that I came across while cleaning my Craft Loft -- I think it was an off-cut, where I used the inside for something else along the way. On white cardstock, I printed the sentiment using a computer-generated free font (how pretty!).

To the side of the frame, I added a rose, a daisy and an amaranth. What's an amaranth, you ask? "An imaginary flower said never to fade." In other words, one I conjured up just because. The flowers were made using Punch A Bunch paper punches.

I colored the rose's petals using Copic markers and a blending marker; the yellow in the daisy is Flower Soft. Did you know that Flower Soft is made from ground-up PVC pipes?? There ya go!

Feeling the card still needed a little "more", I colored some pearls (using Copics) green and fixed them to the points of the frame. I think it's a pretty card, do you?

Candy #3 -- Here it is, I'm offering up some handmade flowers ... some like these, and some other kinds I've made too. There will be at least a dozen, maybe more ... definitely worth your while!

To win, post a comment about Card #3, and indicate you'd like to be entered in the drawing for Blog Candy #3. Don't worry if you've already entered for Blog Candy #1 or #2, you're still eligible for this Candy too.
And you'll get an automatic entry into the Grand Prize (Cozy Cover, below). If you become a follower or are already a follower, please say so in your comment for an extra entry! Whooo-eeee, don't worry, I'm keeping a spreadsheet for your entries!! Are we having fun yet!? I am!
Here's the news about the GRAND PRIZE, celebrating the end of 2010 and beginning of 2011!

Spectacular Update, Day 1 ...
Not a card, but a THANK YOU!

And a product of the CardMonkey Craft Loft:

Here it is, the infamous Custom Cricut Cozy that will be made for the GRAND PRIZE Blog Candy winner to say THANK YOU for visiting my site and offering encouragement.

This cozy, shown above at right, was finally made for GiGi, winner of my last Blog Hop candy. GiGi agreed to patiently wait until after Christmas even though I'm sure her Bug has gotten mighty cold up there in Wisconsin! She asked for a white with light blue accents, embroidered with The Cricut Bug and this is what I came up with. What do you think?

ALL blog hoppers who post any comment on the CardMonkey's Thank You cards will be entered into the Grand Prize drawing for a Custom Cricut Cozy in your own colors and wording. (Design by CardMonkey)

Comment once please on each card; each comment will get you an entry. You may comment on the Cozy Cover for another entry! If you are a follower or become a follower, please let me know in your post and you'll automatically get another entry. Drawings (for each of the candy, and the grand prize winner) will be at random, on Monday evening.

GiGi and Tracy (another winner from a previous candy offering), your Cozy Covers went out in today's mail. Apologies for the delays in getting to the mailbox. If it's not one thing (new day job), it's another (new granddaughter), another (snow!), another (Christmas!!), etc. Look for them soon!

Check back later this weekend, as I hope to add EVEN MORE candy and more cards along the hop. More chances to win, more prizes for the New Year, YAY!

OK, now hop on back to the New Year's THANK YOU CARDS Blog Hop. On your next stop, you'll be visiting Miss Adri's fabulous blog at Ma Cherie Creations. (Click the name to hop on over!)

If you get lost along the way, the entire list of hop sites is posted at the start, Crafty Cards Gallery. Thank you for joining us this weekend -- and be sure to stop back for additional chances to win more prizes from the CardMonkey!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Rating the Methods: Reconditioning Cricut Mats


Today, Faithful Readers, I am trying a new approach with a new toy. For Christmas, my Stepson Paul gave me (oh, and his Dad too!) a Sony "Bloggie" which is a very cute, very small high definition video camera. So if this post works and is something you might enjoy, I'll add an occasional video to my blog.

I decided to clean and rearrange my Craft Loft, and this included reconditioning all of my Cricut mats so they'll be as good as new going into the New Year. I've read up on it a bit, and methods vary.

Some people said to simply wipe them with baby wipes and they'll be as good as new. Others said, "hot soapy water and let dry." Others directed me to remove all of the old adhesive and apply new. And then I came up with my own ideas, too.

Well, I'm here to tell you that I've tried them all and show you the results on this video. To summarize and grade the results:

1. Off with the old, On with the new: Used Krylon spray Adhesive Remover. With elbow-grease/scrubbing: Grade D ... removed the adhesive AND all the ruler markings on the cut mat. With light application/wipe: Grade C. Bottom line: Not worth the investment ($9 or so) for the can of Adhesive Remover, or the time. And it STINKS.

2. Baby wipes: Completely ineffective, Grade F. Whoever thought of this idea must be using corrosive baby wipes. Mine were Huggies -- too soft for this purpose. Keep 'em on your baby's behind. Good news: sweet smelling, soft on hands.

3. Hot soapy water, hair dryer to dry: Grade B+ Removed the dirt and stuff hanging onto the mat but (good news, bad news) didn't really make the mat any stickier or "revive" it at all. Probably best for low-use mats.

4. Baking soda and hot water: Grade B. Again, removed dirt but was slightly more corrosive, and also removed some of the adhesive. But not enough of the adhesive to make it worth the while.

5. Goo-Gone: Grade A. Took two applications, and a gentle fingertip rub, but all the adhesive came off and left a clean surface ready to apply repositionable glue. Didn't damage the ruler markings. Some odor but not "give me a headache, use only in great ventilation" sort of chemical smell.

Recommendation: Goo-Gone. Then, once your mat is nice and clean, and free of old adhesive, I have applied Krylon Easy-Tack repositionable spray glue. Having tried this in several ways on my newly-cleaned mats, I will offer these tips:

1. Mask the edges of your mat, top/bottom and sides, before spraying your adhesive. You want the edges to be free of adhesive so as not to "gunk up" the rollers in your Cricut Expression or baby bug.

2. A light spray will do. Resist the urge to pile it on.

3. Lay the mats down and spray them while they are flat, so there are no drips or bubbles in your glue.

4. Prevent overspray -- that's the pesky adhesive that you'll get on your tabletop, counter, rug, equipment or clothes. Put newspaper down or spray outside (not in a stiff wind!).

5. Watch the weather when you're doing this. A low-humidity day helps the drying process.

6. Open a window ... this stuff requires adequate ventilation (chemicals) and it stinks!

7. Allow glue to dry thoroughly. The can's instructions say 3 hours. Believe them.

8. Keep your freshened mats fresh. Keep them away from your new sweater's lint, your cat's fur, your table where you're applying glitter, etc. Cover the mats up with their original acetate cover. Lay them flat or hang them from a hook or coat hangers (with pants clips) when not in use.

I hope this helps a bit!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Stockings

Ho-ho-ho, a quick post to let you know I'm still alive ... hanging in ... OK, drowning in responsibilities if you must know the truth.

Somebody should have reminded me that it is unwise to try to become a grandmother (and want to spend time gazing into the perfect little eyes of a newborn!), do anything at all for Christmas (e.g., shop, wrap, cards, decorate, bake), AND start a new full-time day job, AND be an elected official in my community who is struggling to get to a balanced budget by year-end....

... and craft and sleep ... and ... and ...

Well, anyway, enough whining about me. How's your life? Here is a relatively quick card I made where I cut the stockings out using a Cricut cartridge, embellished with ribbon and sliced paper ... velvet ribbon (yum, my favorite!) ... and a badge that was printed with the sentiment then cut with Cricut Cake Basics and machine stitched. I mounted the badge with foam dots for dimension. Oh, and added a punched border just because....

I hope you enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blog Candy Winner! Congratulations, GiGi!

Hearty congratulations to Gigi McKellips of Wisconsin who can now protect her Cricut when she is going "crazy in the craft room". She has won one of CardMonkey's handmade Cozy Cricut Covers, the candy offered to a random participant in last weekend's Christmas Cards and Gifts Blog Hop.

That's Gigi, above.

Gigi, I've enjoyed checking out your website. Check it out, CardMonkey fans, by clicking HERE to link to Gigi's website, or by clicking on her picture, above. I totally love Gigi's blog posts and ideas ... I will be lifting some soon, Gigi, so don't be surprised if you see my take on your idea, published here soon.

Meanwhile, Gigi, please contact me to let me know what color combo you'd like for your cover (base and trim), as well as what text you'd like embroidered upon it. You can reach me at cardmonkey at comcast dot net.

Here is one of my favorite cards I made this holiday season. Santa's carriage and reindeers, as well as the trees and moon were cut from Cricut cartridges. Can you get which one(s)? Try using to find the answers. I embellished it with mini stars; painted the snow beneath the trees using white and platinum Stickles. The trees are wrapped in super-fine gold filament.

Also, by popular request, I am posting a picture of my granddaughter Charlotte, my first grandbaby. Isn't she just perfect!?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Card and Gift Blog Hop

Hello Charming Blog Hoppers!

Thank you for participating in Jaime's fun Christmas Card and Gift Bloghop.

You likely arrived here from Meighen's scrappin3rdeeschik blogspot. If you'd rather start at the very beginning, jump to Jaime's site at

I'll be showing you a box gift and poem I created, just perfect for those little gifts you like to give teachers' aides, card partners, cookie swappers, etc. They're easy to make and not too expensive to do.

First, I cut the "crayon box" using Cricut's "Tags, Bags, Boxes and More" cartridge. Press the "black-out" feature otherwise you'll get holes in the upper part of each side of the box. Score and assemble the box.

I adapted and wrote a portion of the poem I used ... feel free to "lift" it without attribution. I created a layout for the poem and a bit of free Click Art (Santa) on cardstock and fussy-cut the Santa around the corner. I embellished Santa's snowflakes using Stickles, and adorned the whole lot with ribbon.

Inside, I stocked the "Santa Zest" with a package of hot chocolate mix, a little baggie with marshmallows and large chocolate chips, and a peppermint candy stick for stirring.

Here is the inside of the box:

Here's how the poem goes:

Did you ever wonder,

has it crossed your mind:

"How does Santa do his work

without falling far behind?"

He needs some special energy

with magic mixed in a pot.

A little snow, a lot of love

and chocolate hits the spot.

So here's a taste of Santa Zest

to sip when you're feeling tired.

Heat it up, put up your feet

and know you are admired!

BLOG CANDY for followers:

Win a custom-created cover for your Cricut Expression, like this one I created for Tracy, winner of my last blog candy prize:

You pick the color of the lettering and background fabric color, and specify whether you need a Cricut Expression or Baby Bug cover.

To be eligible to win:

1. Be (or become) a follower of this blog, at

2. Leave a comment to this post.

3. For an additional chance, add a comment to any of the "older posts" shown on this blog.

Warmest wishes for a wonderful holiday!

So now hop on over to Jennifer at

Crafty Card Gallery
by clicking this link just above.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hanukkah

To my dear friends who celebrate Hanukkah, may the blessings of the season bring you joy and peace.

This evening at sundown, this year's 8-day "Festival of Lights" begins. I made this pretty card last year, and it remains one of my favorite to express my greetings to my Jewish friends and neighbors.

To make it, I first Googled "map of the earth" images and saved the picture of the globe as a .pdf image on my computer. I then lined it up centered on my pre-cut card, and added a sentiment shown below. I printed my cards using my HP All-in-One inkjet printer.

Next, I marked the centerpoint of the globe and stuck the printed card onto my Cricut mat. Then, I lined up the printed card on my mat, loaded the mat into the Cricut, and moved my cutting blade to the centerpoint position.

I set my Cricut to "real dial size" for 2.5" (the size of the Earth here) as well as "Center Point". Using Cricut's "Joys of the Season" cartridge at the "card" feature, I cut the Star of David out -- first as a test directly over the pre-printed Earth. When I was satisfied with the position of the Star of David relative to the Earth (and yes, this took several tries), I then cut the face of my good cards by flipping the card over and using the "Repeat Last" feature on Cricut.

Using a soft beige cardstock, I multi-cut several of the word "peace" (also found on the "Joys of the Season" cartridge). I threaded the cut-out word through the front of the Star of David, gluing down the word at left and right.

I received many compliments on the beauty and simplicity of this handmade card.

In the beauty of the season and the hectic pace leading up to Christmas, take time to remember that many friends around the world are celebrating their holiday early this year. With respect and love, we can all work toward world peace and harmony. Happy Hanukkah!