Thursday, September 27, 2012

Happy Haunting!

Oh, sigh .... I have been working on this card for a while and planned to submit it to the "A Homespun Affair" September color challenge ... but apparently I missed the deadline (which I still can't find, I must be a dolt).  

So I'll post the card anyway, for you to enjoy.

Here are the colors that were to be used in this month's challenge (orchid, mint and granite):

And here is my card:

I really like how it turned out. I used a Wee Stamps digi-image that I paper-pieced and colored using my Copic markers. I matted the image on granite cardstock by Recollections, and stamped a sentiment from Making Memories.  The background paper is by Graphic 45.

Happy Haunting!

DeFiaNtLy DiFfeReNt & CreAtiVeLy Yours,

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Scraps to Treasures Blog Hop 9/16/12 - Bookmarks!

Welcome to the Scraps To Treasures teams' September Bookmark Swap hop.   If you arrived here from Paula's Precious Pages’ blog, you are in the right place. If you just happened to “open the book” to my chapter (blog), please start at Chapter 1 which is Paula’s blog today.

This month, our group of frugally fantastic crafters have made bookmarks for each other. We are excited to share this fun idea with all of our readers. If you want to try this and do not have a large group of friends to do a swap like this, you can swap with just 2 or 3 people.

Here are the bookmarks I made to share with yesterday's team members: 

To make these, I took an "underwater" theme file I already had used and saved from the Silhouette online store, and I repurposed it into bookmarks.  I cut the book marks from scraps I had in my scrap bin, in aqua, lilac and yellow-green.  

For the white stock on the bottom, I used a piece of Gina K Pure Luxury White cardstock on which I practiced my Copic Air Brush System (ABS) techniques.  I'm still learning the best way to use the ABS from Copic but I'll tell you this -- the raggedy paper underneath your test sheets can sure be used as a lovely patterned paper!  

Where there were off-cuts (like the swirl at the middle of the file, I saved those to embellish the cut in the opposite color.  Again, off-cuts of the little circles were used to sprinkle over the bookmarks before I laminated them.  Stickles were used to highlight some of the upper holes.  I cut up a piece of ribbon I received in a swap for the bookmarks as well.  These bookmarks were laminated to make them last for several years. 

Blog Candy: 

Our wonderful sponsor for this hop is My Creative Time!  To be eligible to win the special prize that Emma has in store for us, you must comment on each of the Bookmark Blog Hop's participants, on both Saturday and Sunday. 

I also have some blog candy:  If you are a follower of my blog and leave a comment that answers the Candy Question, you will earn a chance to win a copy of this bookmark, as well as some goodies from my prize stash. The Challenge Question is: "What is your favorite book that you've read recently?"   In your comments, please leave a way for me to contact you if you're the lucky winner!

 Moving On:
Thanks so much for skimming through our “book” the next chapter in this story can be found at Liz's very fun blog at  In case you're like me and want to read ahead or re-read, here are the lists of chapters from both yesterday and today:

Book One, Saturday September 15

Chapter 1 Jessi ~
Chapter 2 Lucy ~
Chapter 3 Jearise ~
Chapter 4 Pam ~
Chapter 5 Tahi ~
Chapter 6 Robin S. ~
Chapter 7 (to be announced)

Book Two, Sunday September 16

Chapter 1 Paula ~
Chapter 2 Ellen ~
Chapter 3 Liz ~
Chapter 4 Lissa Marie ~
Chapter 5 Monica ~
Chapter 6 Cicily ~
Chapter 7 Camille ~

Thank you for visiting! Our Scraps to Treasures Team will be back next month with another fun, frugal paper craft!

Thanks for skimming through our “books”, be sure to check back next month to see what we have to share!

DeFiaNtLy DiFfeReNt & CreAtiVeLy Yours,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cooking up cards from The Card Kitchen, part II

(Continued from yesterday!)

Now, weren't those cards (#1-4) adorable?  I can tell you that I made all 8 of these cards in about two hours.

That's right -- that's about one every 15 minutes. Wouldn't a card kit be perfect to take to a crop?

Here are cards #5-8 that I made using Jillibean Soup's "The Card Kitchen," a cardmaking kit from one of the best scrapbooking companies around:

Made by CardMonkey using "The Card Kitchen" Sept 2012 kit;
I stamped the inside with "You're Unfroggetable!"

Made by CardMonkey using "The Card Kitchen" Sept 2012 kit;
the chalkboard clip I had in the kit was lime green ... it was
easily changed to a complimenting red by "painting" with my
red Copic marker.  Because I wanted it to lay flatter, I removed the clip.

Made by CardMonkey using "The Card Kitchen" Sept 2012 kit;
I felt this looked a bit better on a white card background, so I changed that;
I also added my own button because I like it!

Made by CardMonkey using "The Card Kitchen" Sept 2012 kit;
imagine this vellum envelope (supplied) with a gift card!
the only change I made was that I added blue Candi from my stash,
and I used the "official" Candi mounting squares. I love this embellishment!

Again, these cards were all made with "The Card Kitchen" September 2012, following the recipes provided in very detailed (excellent!) instructions.  I save these instructions month-after-month, to use again as sketch templates for other cards/papers -- yes, they're that good! 

For me, the real advantage to using a kit that provides full sheets of paper for you to cut, along with full sheets of stickers and perhaps stamps to re-use is that you can easily make another 6 to 8 cards from the leftover ingredients. And by subscribing, you can often use some papers and embellishments left over from last month with this month -- they're all coordinated!

Most of the papers included in The Card Kitchen kit are made the Jillibean Soup line, which I have found are vibrant, top quality printing, and with wonderful designs. However, Jill and Kimber don't hesitate to use complementing papers too ... for instance, this month's kit also included paper from Bella Boulevard, another great line of paper.  The embellishments are often Jillibean Soup-branded, but again, can include ribbons, buttons, trim, stickers, etc. that are from other top manufacturers. This gives you a chance to try out these brands to see which you might enjoy. 

The Card Kitchen kits are reliably sent in the first week of each month to their subscribers, after you make payment (via credit card or PayPal) of the monthly invoice -- easy-peasy!  

To subscribe to The Card Kitchen, visit this website for answers to your FAQ's and for more information:

Disclaimer: I purchase my monthly subscription to The Card Kitchen, and have not been compensated in any way to provide this endorsement. My opinions are my own. I made these cards closely following the detailed designs of TCK, and do not represent these designs to be my own.

Later this week, I'll show you another type of card kit -- one by Shanna Vineyard at "Art Made With Heart".  Shanna's monthly kit provides all of the ingredients for 5 cards, pre-cut and ready for your glue!  Stay tuned!

DeFiaNtLy DiFfeReNt & CreAtiVeLy Yours,

Monday, September 10, 2012

Using Card Kits to Make Your Cards

Have you ever watched a cooking show on television, where expertly prepared meals are made in the course of a half-hour or hour, and wished that you could do something similar with your cardmaking?  

You know ... take the thinking out of the equation, leave the shopping for ingredients to someone else, and the chopping and dicing would be done for you, and all you had to do was saute, stir, and serve?

The same concept is available, in the form of monthly card kits.  I am a subscriber of two such services. Each is different in the way the ingredients are provided, and both produce nice finished cards.

This week, I'm going to introduce you to the two cardmaking kits I receive monthly, and I will show you the finished cards.  I'll share pros and cons, as well as some research I've done on the other kits that are available. 

Please note: I am not affiliated in any way with either of these card kit companies, and I pay for my subscription. I've received no compensation for these endorsements, and my opinions are only my own. 

First up, let me reveal my favorite card kit company: The Card Kitchen, by Jillibean Soup.  

Here is the promotional picture of what the kit a subscriber received in September:

This is a fantastic assortment of goodies! Just in case you're still curious as to the value, let me show you my view of the Card Kitchen goodies as they arrived:

Packed nicely in a reusable corrugated pizza-sized box, the kit arrives in a branded cello-envelope that includes 8 full sheets of 12x12" paper (That's usually. One month, I received a very nice, full 6x6" paper pack as well as other 12x12" papers to match.) ... along with full sheets of stickers ... a bag of hand-picked ribbons, buttons, Candi, and other embellishments ... and this month, a sheet of clear stamps.  There are full color instructions, with complete instructions on sizes of paper to cut, measurements as to where embellishments are placed, etc.  

Each kit includes 8 pre-made (cut/scored) cards and envelopes in a variety of colors to match the project papers. The paper and embellishments provided will make far more than the minimum 8 cards -- and is thus, quite a good value, at $22.99/month (+ $5.25 shipping) for subscribers.  For subscribers, there is guaranteed availability; a limited number of extra kits are sold ($2.00 surcharge above the kit cost) after the subscribers' orders are filled.  

Let's take a look at HALF of this month's cards that I made using the kit's supplies and instructions. (I'll show the other half tomorrow .. stop back!)  ... Sometimes I change my cards up a little ... it's part of the adventure.  

Made by CardMonkey, as designed by Card Kitchen

Made by CardMonkey, as designed by Card Kitchen;
I added the S-M-I-L-E letters to the pennant, and the twine bow.

Made by CardMonkey, as designed by Card Kitchen;
I extended the green and red pennants a bit.

Made by CardMonkey, as designed by Card Kitchen;
I put Stickles dots at the tip of each pennant, and
changed up the buttons a little with my own supply.

DeFiaNtLy DiFfeReNt & CreAtiVeLy Yours,

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I Love Being A Grandma Blog Hop - 9/9/12 (Grandparents' Day)

I jumped right on board with Lynne's "I Being a Grandma" Blog Hop because, simply put, there's not much I love more than being with my granddaughter, Charlotte! (I had to put it that way, in case my daughter or husband reads this post and gets jealous -- but truthfully, nothing brings me more joy at all ... she's top on my list ... than my granddaughter, Charlotte.)

I joined the ranks of the blissfully happy grandma's on December 6, 2010. Charlotte Grace was a pretty baby, made more beautiful with time and the ever-evolving charming personality. My heart swells when she calls my name ("Giiiiiii" to Charlotte) and runs to me, extending her arms for me to pick her up.

9/7/12 - Feeding the fish at Gii's pond.
Charlotte and her parents Emily and Josh live less than a mile from me, so I am privileged to babysit the Little Charmer often. (She'll be here this morning while Daddy works and Mommy gets some shut-eye after working a night shift as a pediatric nurse.)  

She was over for a usual-Friday night dinner (love them!). I didn't have her favorite foods in-house, so I quickly dashed out to the store and bought her a smorgasbord of stuff she likes: including berries (with a little dash of whipped cream "fooshie" as "dip"), grapes and bananas. 

When I presented her sectioned plate of cut-up fruit, her eyes widened and she let out a joyous and unexpected, "Oh WOW!"  Her spirit and joy are contagious!

It was then that I came up with this digital layout to feature in today's blog hop. Gosh, with all the great digital tools and digital pictures, cell phone pics, etc., it's so easy these days to document e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g!!!  

For this layout, I used my new favorite (free!) picture editing program called PicMonkeyThe program allows you to first crop/edit your photos as I did with Charlotte's mush-face photos (making them each in a square format). Then, once the edited photos are saved, upload them into PicMonkey's collage-making tool to add the frame, text, and comic thinking box.  It's easy!  You can do it! 

OK, I do know that there are a few more grandchildren in the world and blog-land (though none is more adorable than my Charlotte!), so I'm going to move you along on the Blog Hop to see how boastful other grandmas can be.  

Your next stop is: GRANDMA ANITA!

In case you get lost along the way, or want to see what other grandma's are posting, here's the other grandma's who have joined this hop:
  1. Lynne ~
  2. Kimberly ~
  3. Lisa ~
  4. Laura-
  5. Claire -
  6. Ellen -
  7. Anita ~   
 Thanks for indulging me in a little show-off!

DeFiaNtLy DiFfeReNt & CreAtiVeLy Yours,

Saturday, September 8, 2012

HAPPY Blogaversary, Beckie - Blog Hop

Just about a year ago, a dear and a little whacky (aren't we all??!) woman named Beckie started following my CardMonkey blog, and I shared her blog button on my sidebar as a way to get her started.  

How time flies when we're having a good time!  Beckie's blog continues to be a favorite.  She is celebrating her blogaversary today with a HAPPY Blog Hop, and I'm happy to be part of it!

So here's the card that I made for Beckie ... effervescent and joyous, and a little bit whacky:

To make the card, I started with a fun font (called "Bubol") that I found on My Fonts.  I set it and drew the broken line, using Adobe Illustrator as my computer program, and printed the black-and-white text/line on Gina K Pure Luxury 130# paper. I chose that paper because I knew I wanted to color the font using Copic markers directly on the paper (without a mat) and knew that this paper did not bleed through with the Copics.  Some dots and swirls are off-cuts (what I call "gadribbles") from when I cut bookmarks that you'll see next weekend; other dots are simple dabs with complementing marker colors. I was happy when I made this, happy to use my markers, happy to use gadribbles before they hit the trash can!

Beckie has some blog candy from her grand prize sponsor, 3 Girl Jam.  To be eligible, be sure to comment on all of the line-up's blog posts for today ... there aren't too many in this Hop, so that should be easy-peasy. The prize is a $20 gift certificate to 3 Girl Jam, home of some fabulous crinkled ribbon that I love so much!

Here is the line-up for your comments:

Ellen ~
Lisa ~  

I hope you have a happy kinda day!
And Happy Blogaversary, Beckie!!
DeFiaNtLy DiFfeReNt & CreAtiVeLy Yours,

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Autumn Wedding Card

I love it when my daughter, Emily, comes over to craft with me as she did today.  She made an adorable card for a friend's wedding shower, and we worked together on coming up with ideas for the friend's wedding card.  

Taking her idea and manipulating a bit after she had to leave to take a nap (she works overnight at a pediatric nurse at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia -- I am so proud!!), this is what I came up with:

The file is a mum frame from Silhouette America, cut on my Cameo.  The Mr. & Mrs. is a separate file.  I added in the colors to the mum petals by cutting more flowers in different colors. I elevated the multiple cuts using Scrap Dots Glue from Helmar. Have you used that glue yet?  It creates a 3-D effect, like foam dots, only with glue.  Neat!  It was my first time using that glue.

I hope  you're having a good day!

DeFiaNtLy DiFfeReNt & CreAtiVeLy Yours,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Copic 4-1-1: Paper Recommendation and information

Hey, it's Wednesday already! How did that happen?

My weeks have been rolling together as I tackle therapy on my left foot. Since so many have asked, I'll give a brief update on that a bit later.  (See below, silly. Why put the boring stuff up top here?)

While hobbled, I've been enjoying time learning more about coloring stamps and digi-images with alcohol-based markers.  I took the classes last month (thank you, Copic instructors Lori Craig and Colleen Schaan), and advanced to become an Intermediate Certified Copic Designer.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share with you some of what I've learned both in the classroom and in the Paper Jungle, not only about coloring with Copics but also about alcohol markers in general -- with comparisons, lessons learned, and more.  

So let's jump right in. I invested pretty heavily in Copic markers, which many consider to be the top of the line in art markers for several industries including the one I care about most: crafting. But along the way, I also learned that what you use your markers on can make or break your quality coloring. 

Today, I'm going to let you in on what I learned about PAPER and our markers.

Like most beginning cardmakers/crafters, I started out using whatever cardstock was readily available and most inexpensive. As long as it looked good, I was sure it would work well with my stamped images and digital art print-outs from my inkjet printer.  I used this cardstock from Staples:

Honestly, as long as I was content to simply color my images and I was satisfied with the result, this Staples Card Stock was good enough. Here are some of my cards made using colored images on this cardstock:

Since studying cardstocks and using markers with a now-trained eye, I can see that not all cardstock is the same.  Take a look -- a discerning eye -- toward even the color tone of "white" paper:

For this picture (above), I lined up the various brands of "white" cardstock and photographed it in daylight. While I'm a bit under-exposed in this digital picture, I think you can see the differences in "color" of white, ranging from creamy to bright, as well as paper that has yellow, gray, or blue undertones.

What the naked eye sees in paper selection is actually the quality of light given off by a sheet of paper to describe its hue (tint), saturation (strength), and value (darkness or lightness).  

A whiter paper reflects equal amounts of red, green and blue light (the visual spectrum). Though a balanced sheet of white paper usually has a slightly yellowish cast, most people will perceive paper with a slightly blueish tint to be whiter.  Color of your white paper boils down to personal preference, and what you think looks best under your colored image.

I also learned to consider the weight and "hand" of the cardstock. When a cardstock is sold, you can tell the density of the paper by looking for the weight listed on the cardstock label, as above with the Staples paper, "110 pounds" (or 110#).  This figure is the standard weights and measures ("avoirdupois system" used in the U.S. and universally).  In the U.S., 1 lb. = 16 ounces, or 453.592 grams. 

The density or weight of the paper is determined by measuring the weight of 500 sheets of the basis ream of that paper. A basis ream uses the uncut standard size of that type of paper -- with card (or "cover") stock, that's typically 20"x26".  So the higher the number (e.g., 110#), the thicker or denser the paper.

Consider, too, the smoothness of the paper when choosing one on which to print or stamp and color your images. Textured or grainy papers create "valleys" that are not conducive to smooth stamping or coloring. Choose a paper that has the smoothest surface for the best result.   

A smooth, ultrawhite cardstock will make it so much easier to blend your alcohol-based markers, like Copics.  Also, if you choose a paper that is exceptionally dense (110# - 140#), there is minimal bleed-through of your ink from the marker.  This means you can color directly on the card surface. If there is bleed through on lighter papers, you should plan to affix your art onto your card, perhaps with a mat or designer paper in between the art and your card.

So all this said, there are many specialty cardstocks recommended for use with alcohol markers. I tested 11 brands varying in weight. Here are my top five picks for using with Copic markers, ranging from my favorite of the five (at left) to my fifth most-favorite (at right).  I included the prices I paid for each of the papers -- you may be able to find them on sale or cheaper (though I'm a pretty good shopper!!):

This is a scanned image of all five colored images taken together on the same scan-bed, to try to give a fair comparison (no camera setting variations) to all five. 

Each of the Gorjuss stamped images was applied with Tsusineko Memento Black Tuxedo ink, and colored using the same Copic markers, on the same day, by me, using the same techniques and marker colors. I think you can see how well the paper stock soaked in the ink and allowed for blending. In my opinion, the Brilliant White 130# cardstock performed the best and gives the nicest finished image.  I purchased this cardstock from 

In a future article, I will be discussing ink choices and your stamped or digi-printed images.  But let me leave you with this:  While every other paper handled the Versafine Black Onyx ink I like to use for detailed images, I was shocked to see how much bleeding or lift of the black ink pad image occurred with Gina K Pure Luxury paper. (See at right.) The girl's arms blackened when coloring, and the pink of the dress seemed to lay on but not blend with the primary or later applications of marker.  More on this another time...

OK, as promised, here's my left foot update: 

I spent 3 weeks in a total contact cast and another 3 in a soft and removable (only to shower and for therapy)but 24/7 cast -- no walking, no standing, no weight bearing ... followed by therapy to try to restore feeling to my foot. Medication (Cymbalta) helped, but what followed was excruciating pain. What?!  That shouldn't happen. OK, time for more opinions. X-rays revealed nothing broken, but showed continuing swelling in the bone marrow -- a sign of significant bone bruising. A recommended physical therapy evaluation revealed that in healing, the tendons entrapped 3 nerve groups, and that explains the pain.  I've ramped up PT (which I have dubbed "Pain and Torture"), and it seems to be working.  Crossing fingers ... and soon, toes.

Thanks for stopping by!

DeFiaNtLy DiFfeReNt & CreAtiVeLy Yours,