Monday, December 24, 2012

The Jesus Gift - Our Christmas Tradition

I'd like to share a story about our Christmas tradition of the "Jesus Gift"; which first graced it's presence under our tree in 1992. 

It was getting close to Christmas and I was feeling extremely depressed the closer it came.  I had recently become a single Mom, and was having a hard time with the holiday festivities.  The church we were attending was having a sit-down dinner and I had decided not to go, as my heart was just not in it.  However, my mother kept encouraging me to go -- and finally I gave in. 

I can still remember how lovely the table looked.  As I sat down I noticed a simple package had been set at each place setting.  The packages were wrapped in white tissue paper & tied with green ribbon -- the tag attached contained the following poem:

This is a very special gift,
You can never see.
The reason it’s so special,
Is it’s just for you, from me.

Whenever you are lonely
Or even feeling blue,
You only have to hold this gift
And know I think of you.

You never can unwrap it,
Please leave the ribbon tied;
Just hold this box
Close to your heart,
It’s filled with love inside.
                                       - anon

The thought of that little package, at such a difficult time in my life, was a blessing to my soul -- and just what I needed.  I brought it home and placed it under our Christmas tree, as the first gift of Christmas.  And that was when I came up with the idea of the "Jesus Gift" -- Jesus gift of love to us being himself...the reason we celebrate Christmas. 

And so our tradition began -- Each year the first gift under the tree is the "Jesus Gift".  And it's also the first present taken out from under the tree Christmas morning.  One of our family will read the poem attached, then we'll each take turns holding the "gift" and say what our birthday gift will be to Jesus for the following year.  Instead of New Year's resolutions, we offer a gift to Jesus.  It might be the gift of volunteering more, or reading the bible in a year, or maybe even something more specific. 

This year I had to re-package ours as it was quite yellow with age, so I used one sheet of 12x12 white cardstock to wrap a small box.  With the leftover card I stamped an image on the front of the manger scene "O Holy Night", by Northwoods, and printed the poem for the inside.  The simple green ribbon is seam binding.

Every year I try to make a few of these gifts to share with others.  I like to share the story of the tradition of the "Jesus Gift" -- but how they choose to use this gift of love is up to them. 

I hope this story of our Christmas tradition will warm your heart, and give you a chance to invite Jesus into your Christmas celebration too.

Warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas! 
God Bless -- Lisa

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wintertime Paris Tag

Just sneaking in under the wire for Tim Holtz' 12 Tags of 2012, for November. I bet you didn't think I could do it.  lol.   I've been remembering back to the time we went with some of our Aussie friends to Paris for New Year's 2003.  We ended up at Versailles  while it was snowing and had such fun building a snowman!  I've got a picture around here somewhere...I'll have to dig it up sometime and add it to this post.  It was very surreal...building a snowman at Versailles -- such wonderful memories.

Anyway...on to my tag!  I used a variety of TH stamps from Shabby French, Winter Sketchbook, & Sketch stamp sets, then hand-wrote the sentiment, "Dreamin' of Wintertime in Paris."  I used some mini Christmas tree pearls to tie onto the tag, and added extra clear embossing on the edges & on the snowflakes, and some dusting of stickles as well.  The chandelier lights are tiny swarovski crystals.  My colors of choice were Broken China & Peeled Paint Distress Stains, and Chipped Sapphire distress ink. 

By the way...I didn't have a craft iron like Tim had in his post, so I turned my tag upside down on a piece of newsprint paper and used my heat gun to heat up the embossing powder while I used a brayer to flatten the tag onto the newprint.  It took a bit more time than ironing would've done, but it still worked!  Check out his post for all the details!

Finished it off with a gorgeous facet gem...and now...I think I'll call it a night.  =)

Keep Dreamin'!  Lisa

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Catching Up After Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving sign can be "plucked" out of the wings
 to find a message written on the back.

Hello friends -- Happy "belated" Thanksgiving!  You don't have to celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday to be thankful for family & friends all year round.  And I'm definitely thankful to my friendly readers; I love to read your comments & emails -- thank you for stopping by.  I sent out my Thanksgiving cards on time this year, most of them being fairly simple cards.  But I found this fun paper by Echo Park called Fall Fever Owl, and somehow ended up sketching this fun card. 

I started with pearlized tan cardstock & adhered the Fall Fever Owl CS to the front (the opposite side of the CS is the woodgrain print shown in the sign on the front of the card). I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it at first, but I was thinking I'd like to have owl eyes peering over the top -- and it just sort of evolved from there.

The eyes were cut out of black, white, & blue CS in 1 1/4", 1 1/2", & 1 3/4" respectively.  I set brown cardstock between the card layer and lightly sketched a head with ears & an egg-shaped body (initially thinking it wouldn't be seen except over the top of the card).  Then I cut wonky brown hearts out of scrap CS for the feathers, and sketched wings, feet, & a beak.  I used a distressing tool to scrape up the edges to give them some fluff, and an blending tool with walnut stain distress ink to ink the individual pieces.  These are all basic shapes, so I didn't overstress it. 

I adhered the owl to the inside of the card with a banner strip of four owls to represent the four of us in our family.  I needed a speech bubble with four points so I drew it onto ivory CS, cut it out and inked the edges.  The sentiment, Elegant Beginnings by Stampin' Up, was heat embossed with Charcoal embossing powder. 

QUICK & EASY TIP:  The feet sticking out of the bottom made the card difficult to stand.  So I used my Tim Holtz small easel Sizzix die to cut the easel for the back of the card from heavy cardstock.  I LOVE this die for projects like this that need a helping hand to stand up, but also need to be mailed, because the easel lies flat for going into an envelope!  Awesome!  This die also cuts chipboard for a thicker stand, if needed.

NOTE:  In hindsight, I wish I had made the easel from black cardstock instead of white for a more finished look, but I did use a black sharpie for the part that was showing through the feet (which is probably why you can't see the easel from the front).

Isn't it so cute peeking out of the envelope?!
Next on the list?  Christmas Cards...mostly done, thankfully.  But wish me luck getting them posted.  Blogger is not cooperating at all. 

If you're out shopping for Christmas, be's a jungle out there.  =)

Btw - I have disengaged the comment verification again,  Thankfully, it seemed to help alleviate the spam least for now.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Countdown Begins

I don't think there's an "official" day to begin the Countdown to Christmas, but I figured today was as good a day as any.  The little trick or treaters have gone to bed, and tomorrow will be here before ya know it.  But as for the moment I'm writing this post -- October 31st, 2012 -- the calendar stands at 54 days before Christmas...which will be 53 days in just a couple hours.  Time just seems to move fast that way.  =)

The tag I created is for Tim Holtz' 12 Tags of 2012.  Love the tutorial he has on his blog for this tag for blending the paint onto the collaged tag.  It looks like I have a lot going on, but this tag was relatively simple to put together (check out Tim's website HERE for step by step instructions).  I started with a manila #8 tag, which you can also cut using TH Tag & Bookplate die.  I glued on the Melange Tissue Wrap collage paper -- LOVE this paper...and used Red Pepper & Pool paint dabbers as shown in Tim's tutorial, and edged the tag with the Pebble paint dabber for a slight shadowing effect.  I used a blending tool to add a bit more color using Peacock Feathers & Festive Berries distress ink, before spraying Sunflower Sparkle perfect pearls mist over the tag. 

The pre-cut grungeboard was painted with Snow Cap paint dabber before adding my custom colored glitter.  The glitter recipe I used was:  1 Tbsp. Distress Rock Candy dry glitter, 5 drops Butterscotch, 2 drops Caramel, and 1 drop Latte alcohol inks.  I wanted close to a golden "cheer" effect -- and I like the way it seems to brighten up the tag.  I used the Snow Cap paint dabber to add bits of white "snow" color to the glittered pieces, and added a piece of snowflake tissue tape from the top of the tag...adding a bit more Snow Cap paint before stamping "countdown" in black archival ink.  I used an old Dymo tape gun to print "Christmas 2012" on some blue stared plastic tape I found at a thrift store a while back. 

For the ticket, I used a favorite technique of mine...Watercolor Embossed Stamping.  First I inked the ticket stamp, from TH Odds & Ends stamp set, with Peacock Feathers and stamped it off onto scrap paper, then with the remaining ink left on the stamp I spritzed it well with water & stamped it again onto white, lightweight cardstock -- holding it in place for about 20 seconds so the water seeps into the fibers of the paper.  It gives it an undefined watercolor look, and as it dries the water raises the areas the watercolor has touched giving it a faux embossed feel to the cardstock.  After the cardstock was dry I overstamped with black archival ink, sprayed it with Sunflower Sparkle, cut it out, and distressed the edges.  A piece of cobweb tissue tape was added to the corner, the date was circled in red ink, and the ticket was attached it to the tag with tiny attacher staples.  Finally, the tag was finished with white seam binding ribbon & TH Tinsel Twine.

Now I guess I better get this posted before my countdown tag changes numbers...again (yep, I initially had the wrong number of days glued down -- but realized it before it could do any damage).  Ha!
Thanks for stopping by.  Lisa

Monday, October 1, 2012

Well Worn, Well Loved

Just under the wire...again, for Tim Holtz' 12 Tags of 2012...for September!  It's been so busy this month, that I've not had time to blog, or even visit my favorite blogs.  October should be better, and a trip to Disney should help clear the "cobwebs" -- and since we're SO close to October, I thought this would be a good way to usher in October, and complete the month of September. 

If you haven't been playing along with Tim's tag challenge each month because you don't have a particular product, don't let the lack of supplies stop you.  Hopefully this tag will encourage you to use what you have, and just spend some time creating.  I didn't have the sticky back foil or the alcohol inks Tim used in his tutorial, so I used a few different items instead...

Not only are they yummy with tea,
but the empty bag came in handy too!
I used a piece of the bag for the foiled insides, and embossed it with the Haunted Halloween embossing folder.  I didn't have black alcohol ink so I used pitch black & sunshine yellow paint dabbers...mostly using the wipe on/wipe off technique.  The Ideaology heart adornment was inked with Wild Plum alcohol ink and strung on ball chain and attached with TH tiny attacher.  I just LOVE that pop of color from the alcohol ink. 

You really can't tell too much now, but the top and bottom of the tag was covered in Brushed Pewter distress stain before lightly going over it with the black paint.  Some cobweb tissue tape was added randomly and I used and old Dymo tape gun to add the phrase, "Well Worn, Well Loved".  

Because not everything old has to be scary...=)

By the way, Did you know I was picked as a random winner on Tim Holtz' blog for my July Tag?  How cool is that?!  I won a set of the seasonal Spring Distress inks, & some wood game pieces.  Mario was SO quick to get them sent to me too.  Pretty awesome -- Thanks guys!

Guess I better sign off so I can get this posted in time.  Thanks for stopping by!  Lisa

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

You Make Me Smile

 I can't believe the summer has moved into the school year...already.  And I just don't feel ready.  My youngest son is now a senior and before I know it, he will be moved out and into college dorms.  Where have the past 17 years gone? 

Today I'm sharing the tag I made for Tim Holtz' 12 Tags of 2012 -- for August (what's left of it).  I just used similar type products that I happened to have on hand.  And you can too...he shares his ideas for putting together a variety of techniques, and it's all in how you're inspired to create.  My creation is a reminder of our past visit to The Louvre, in Paris, France -- while we were stationed in England.  The actual Mona Lisa by daVinci is really much smaller than I had envisioned (30" x 21"), and is encased by photo resistant glass -- yet still quite amazing to see in person...if you're actually able to get close enough to gaze at it.  =)

My tag recipe includes:  TH Sketch stamps (frame), SU Classic Captions stamps (Mona Lisa & sentiment), TH Damask embossing folder, Clare Ultimo poetry dog tags (inked w/caramel alcohol ink & black paint dabber), TH Ribbon Roses (colored w/weathered wood, vintage photo & fired brick (distress stains) DS), Pool paint dabber, Zing black EP, black Archival ink, white seam binding colored with Broken China DS, and Distress Inks:  antique linen, tea dye, & vintage photo.  And finally...misted with Sunflower Sparkle perfect pearl mist (my favorite)!

Not a great photo, but you can see the reflection of the people waiting in line to see that famous smile. The picture is encased in a much larger glass -- which is what you are looking through. This was back in 2000, but shortly after that photo was taken they declared no more photography.  You can find quick facts on the Mona Lisa painting on Wikipedia.

Thanks for stopping by...
Don't forget to smile today!  Lisa

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Paradise Found

On a hot July summer day...such as today...I can just imagine the mist coming off of the waves, while relaxing in a hammock at the beach, and sipping on a tall refreshing lemonade!  It's been incredibly hot this summer with little to no rain to speak of (at least in my neck of the woods), so I was inspired to create this tag (and card) for Tim Holtz' 12 Tags of 2012 -- for July.

This month's challenge was all about using alcohol inks in a unique way -- check out Tim's amazing tag for July and his step-by-step instructions HERE

A variety of alcohol inks were used.  For the sand: caramel & latte; for the grassy bits: lettuce; for the sun & sunspots: butterscotch, & gold mixative (on the tag); for the waves: cloudy blue, & stream (on the card).  The pants/sandals were colored with cranberry, using an Adirondack fillable pen.

The white seam binding ribbon for the tag was colored with vintage photo & broken china Distress Stains.  The colors initially go on quite intense but as they blend with water, and dry, the colors lighten up quite a bit.

The stamp set is Paradise (of course), by CTMH.  And I think this just might be the first time I've used it.  But I love it!

You can see another tag I made using this same technique ---> HERE.  It's one of my popular posts found on my sidebar...and is themed more towards winter.

Here's a TIP for cleaning up when using alcohol inks.  First of all, use a craft sheet to protect your work surface.  Nothing sticks to it, and it cleans up beautifully with....Hand Sanitizer!  The hand sanitizer not only helps clean your hands, but add a little squirt to a wet wipe or towel and simply wipe off your craft mat!  Love this stuff!! 

And that's not all -- do you have one of those table that are made out of that hard durable plastic?  If you do, and you like to use dye inks, sprays, and watercolors, you just might find that your table is holding on to some of that color.  Simply add several squirts of hand sanitizer directly to the table and use a damp rag, or wet wipe to move it around and wipe up the mess.  My table still looks like new!  I use this method when I'm teaching classes as well -- a quick & easy way to clean up a lot of mess.

Well, that's it for today! Thanks for taking the time to stop by. 
Stay Cool!  Lisa

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Time to Stretch My Stamps

The past two weeks I've been taking an online class, "Stretch Your Stamps".  I love waking up every morning to new class content with includes PDFs & videos...and lots of inspiration.  This class is just finishing up, so the interactive portion of the class won't be available much longer -- but you can join in on the class anytime as an independent student and watch the videos, download the PDFs, read the forums, and look through the gallery whenever you choose to take the class.  Find out more about it HERE.  I took another of these classes, Creative Chemistry 101, earlier this year, and I think the classes are top notch!

The cards I was inspired to make for this class are shown below.  The stamps used for the cards are listed directly below the cards.

Using Background Stamps ...
Tim Holtz Wallpaper Stamp, Fiskars Fuse die cut,
and Anna Griffin/All Night Media sentiment stamp

Using Collage Stamps ...
Correspondence Collage by Hampton Art Stamps
Festive Alphabet by CTMH

Using Alphabet Stamps (notecards 2 ways, masked/unmasked) ...
Precious Alphabet by CTMH
Flower stamps by Melissa Frances
Using Sentiment Stamps ...
Life in Pictures by Ali Edwards (Technique Tuesday)
Poetry Nostalgiques by EK Success, The Attic Collection (Rebecca Sower designs

The greeting is on back of the "Happy Anniversary" frame,
which clips to the front of the card.

Using Floral Stamps ...
Calla Lily, PSX 2001
Greetings Script by CTMH

Using Label Stamps ...
Annotations by CTMH
Doodle Alphabet by CTMH

Using Outline Stamps ...

Doodles & Nature, by Claudine Hellmuth
(can you see the clear embossed raindrops & Perfect Pearls sun?)

Using Border Stamps ...
Stitched Ribbon, & Double Scalloped Ribbon by Hero Arts

Quote - anon.

Using Reverse Stamps ...
Tree I, II, III, & IV by Hero Arts
Inside sentiment:  To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose
under heaven.  Ecclesiates 3:1                 

The only cards I didn't get a chance to make were using graphic stamps & stamps w/coordinating dies.  I enjoyed this class immensely, and can't wait to take another one.  I always learn something new, and the creative inspiration of the instructors & guests....not to mention the huge galleries, are amazing.  A huge thank you goes out to Jennifer McGuire & Kristina Werner, and all the guest designers, for this wonderful class (click on their names to visit their awesome blogs)!

Have a Lovely Day!  Lisa

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Art Journaling From Partial Pages

I thought I'd share some Art Journal (AJ) pages I've been working on, showing them from the partial page to the completed page.  When I teach AJ classes I often use my own books as a "stomping" ground to show how a particular color looks, show a technique, or do a quick play-by-play.  What this means is that I come home with several pages of miscellaneous chaos.  However, I make sure my students see what I'm leaving with, and when I bring it back to the next month's's transformed in some way for the start of another AJ page, or even ... dare I say, completed!

I think it's a rather good way of showing that you can still make something out of, what seems to be, imperfections.  One of the things I love about teaching is that I can show an entire class the same technique, using the same stamps, etc., and not one of the Art Journals will look the same, yet they all have their own style of creative loveliness -- how much fun is that?!! 

Here are a few of my page progressions...completed pages (at least for now), directly beneath the partials I began with.
Partial - showing Dylusion sprays on a dry page (color intensity/saturation)

Painted hearts w/black marker, white Signo pen, & Archival black inked stamps
Background resembles the look of tie-dye

I really liked the look of the tie-dye background, and could've gone in many directions...but I like the simplicity of the page layout, at this stage.  

Playing with stencils, sprays, & ink (positive/negative imaging)
You can see the "tie-dye" page coming through on the right side.

A little Tim Holtz tissue collage, magazine cut-out, & black marker.
The stencils recede into the background with the boldness of the journaling and outline of the collage.

Partial - working with color: sprays, inks, & gesso

Background & Corner stamps, and black marker

Adding a gesso layout between the two pages helped bring the two colors together, as a temporary fix.  Adding the stamps & journaling makes it into a simple readable page layout. 

Partial - stencils, stamps, inks, gesso...randomness

Paint, gesso, Archival ink, distress ink, marker, stencils & stamps
Reverse imaging using the Claudine Hellmuth Nature bird stamp.

Many times I'll grab a random stamp for a technique -- the challenge later is finding a way to make it work into an AJ page.  If nothing else comes to mind, gesso covers a multitude of mishaps...but what fun is that?!

Think about all the possibilities for your other projects, scrapbook layouts, & cards -- you might even surprise yourself, what you can come up with. 

Have an Artful day!  Lisa

'Never say, "oops". Always say, "Ah, interesting"!'   ~ anon.

Friday, June 29, 2012

June Tag Challenge Photo Tinting

Well, it's the end of the month and I'm back again with my June Tag for Tim Holtz 12 Tags of 2012 (click the link for Tim's step-by-step instructions).  It would seem that I do better waiting until the last minute...and so it goes.  This month he has a video showcasing a technique for photo tinting.  Did you know that Distress Inks were formulated for use in tinting photos??  I didn't...and so I gave it a try, and I'm sold!  The photo of the girl & teddy bear is a free download on Tim's post -- and normally I like to venture off the path a bit, but I really liked the image and the design elements he used for his example, so I went with it. 

LoveLee Details:  I {slightly} matted my photo with a piece of brown paper gift bag with the phrasing, "Way Down East" showing slightly below.  The marbled background is white picket fence & peeled paint distress stain, with a variety of stamps from TH lost & found, mixed media, & curiosities sets stamped in black archival ink.  The photo tinting was achieved with victorian velvet (for the dress & bow), & gathered twigs (for the bear), finishing with antique linen & vintage photo.  I didn't have the nibs mentioned in the video, so I used Fantastixs by Tsukineko instead...they worked great.  To finish the photo, I over-stamped with a tiny journey word stamp with black soot distress ink. 

The ribbon was colored with peeled paint & weathered wood distress stains, and the rose trimmings with fired brick.  There's just a snippet of "script" tissue tape under the roses, and the film strip ribbon was stapled to the tag with my tiny attacher.  Finally, I adhered the word band "Capture Life's Moments" (painted with Making Memories "celery") to the tag with the ribbon. 

What a fun technique...if you haven't tried it before you might want to give it a try.  I think it would make for some fun framed photos.

TFSB, and have a lovely day!  Lisa

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Organizing Clear & Cling Foam Stamps

UPDATE 8-27-13:  Check out My Craft Closet for a video of my stamp storage updates.

I'm popping in today to share how I store my clear & cling stamps.  If you hadn't yet guessed, I love organization, love, love them! Recently, I was a winner (out of 1119 commenters) of blog candy from Becca's blog:  Amazing Paper Grace (APG).  Oooo, if you haven't visited her blog before, you will just love her style of elegant cards & projects. 

The blog candy she offered was provided by -- I received 20 clear "dvd type" cases and 20 magnetic sheets, for organizing Spellbinder dies & cling stamps.  The cases are crystal clear, the price point is fantastic, and their customer service & shipping is simply amazing -- I received them within a couple days of winning!  I know I was a winner, but check out the TapeOnline product links below to see what I'm talking about; and while you're there you can see what the reviews are saying as well. 

Clear Stamp Cases
Magnetic Sheets

I don't have a lot of Spellbinder dies (the ones I do have were bought after seeing some lovely projects created by Becca on APG), but for the few I have I added the magnet sheets to the cases to store those dies.  I wrote the die information on the case spine with my white Sakura Souffle pen, and taped the packing/"sandwich" info to the back of the case.  For my dies, I like having the package information handy as it helps to see what the die should look like when cut.  If you haven't yet seen an earlier post for organizing my other diecut packaging, you can view the "Packaged Die Organizer" HERE.

I do have loads of stamps -- especially the little clear stamps that get easily lost or misplaced once they leave their little protective sheet.  So I used the clear cases for quite a few of my clear stamps -- obviously I'll have to buy more (you haven't seen my collection of Christmas stamps yet -- lol).  I love how clearly the stamps show through.  The clear stamps adhere to the plastic case quite well, and on many of the stamps I left top plastic overlay so I could determine what the stamped image actually was; in the case of no visible image for the clear stamps I intend to stamp the image on a piece of clear transparency to include in the case.  And instead of keeping the paper packaging for the stamps (with the stamp company name/image names), I just wrote with a large sharpie on the spine of the cases.  Some of the stamps packaging fit perfectly into the cases, so I included them with the stamps.

Originally this bin held my CTMH stamps, but I've since moved them --
so I guesss I need to re-label this bin.  =)
I store my cling foam stamps in bins (they were part of rolling bin set but the frame & rollers broke) that I keep on an old bookshelf.   The cling foam stamps are a bit thicker, & the packaging larger, so I store those in pocket envelopes.  The refill pockets were originally made for Tim Holtz' Stamp Binder, but since I have so many of the cling mount stamps I find it easier to have the pockets in this bin as well, so I can leaf through them at a glance.

Since space is always at a premium, as often as we move, I have un-mounted some of my wood block stamps and put them on EZFoam to create a cling mounted rubber stamp.  However, I do still have some wooden stamps that I keep in a labeled drawers that I don't intend on un-mounting...yet.  

There's a lot you can do with these clear cases besides thin metal dies & stamps.  Check out another cool organization idea that Becca used them for:  Inky Nib organizer

Now I wonder...what would you use them for?  TFSB!  Lisa

Many, many thanks go out to Becca of Amazing Paper Grace, and Emily at -- I love my new organization goodies. You guys are absolutely lovely!