Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Splash of Neon

I had yet to play with Stampin' Up's Six Sided Sampler, which was completely sad since I've been pinning awesome cards made with this stamp set for quite a while now. I decided it was time to break out the new set and participate in some challenges. 

The sketch is compliments of Retro Sketch #74 (same as the sketch I used for this sympathy card.)

The color palette is courtesy of The Play Date Cafe Challenge #192. This required the participants to create something using only white, black, and a splash of neon/bright yellow. I was intrigued. 

I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring at CASE Study Challenge #151 since it was a neon challenge as well. 

Here's the final product. Clean, simple, and graphic. My kind of card. 

Thanks for stopping!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Thinking of You

It isn't very often that I make sympathy cards. I prefer to anticipate happier times when I make cards, but unfortunately sometimes the best time for a card is a time of tragedy. My sister Lindsay asked if I had anything sympathy cards lying around of if I could whip one up. Her friend Amy's father just passed away from a long battle with cancer. I told her I was on the job. 

When I started using the sketch from Retro Sketches Challenge #74 

and the color palette from Dynamic Duos Challenge #63

I certainly didn't think I was making a sympathy card. However, the simple layout and fresh green colors are hopeful, but not over the top. It's bright, but not loud. 

I hope that the sentiments of family and friends comfort Amy and her family during this difficult time. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

On the Hunt for More Challenges

I was on the hunt the other day for some more challenge websites. I love CAS-ual Fridays and Pals Paper Arts, but when I am prepping for a new year of stamp classes, I find that these challenge websites revive my otherwise empty idea pot. 

While I was scouring the internet, I came across the website CAS(E) this Sketch! It's pretty cool. I like cards that are clean and simple and these layouts looked like they provided that type of opportunity. Not only that but Challenge #38 this week reminded me of a melted crayon MIY (make it yourself) project I have seen all over Pinterest. This was all the prompting I needed. 

This first card I made used a variety of blue shades from Stampin' Up: Island Indigo, Soft Sky, Pool Party, and Night of Navy. I used the Gorgeous Grunge set and actually made the card look like the melted crayon art. The sentiment is from PTI and it's called Think Big Favorites #1. Add a little rhinestone for bling and done. Quick and easy. I love this card, but I also feel like it looked too much like the examples given on the challenge website. 

So I decided to try again. This time I was back in the Christmas spirit and I took a color combo right from Stampin' Up's Holiday catalog: Real Red and Coastal Cabana. This time I decided to turn the sketch sideways for a different look. I used A Banner Christmas set for the chevron stamp and Sweet Essentials for the sentiment. Again I added some bling and another quick and easy card was complete. 

For a cool and quick sketch website, check out CAS(E) this Sketch!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Christmas in July

I'm not sure what got me in the Christmas spirit this week while making my card for the Pals Paper Arts sketch challenge #165 and Always Playing with Paper's Merry Monday July Challenge of Anything Goes Christmas, but I'm thinking it was a new Stampin' Up stamp set called A Banner Christmas and a bit of new designer paper. 

I love Christmas. All the decorating and baking, but unfortunately we live in Wisconsin and winter lasts for like 7 months. At least that is what it feels like. It's a gloomy day and a bit of Christmas in July is just what the meteorologist called for. 

I was able to use a piece of Winter Frost Designer Paper to use for my background and a piece of Silver cardstock for the flag on the right side. I used the Oh, Hello chevron oval for a bit of pattern layering. A few buttons and a pop of color with the baker's twine make you want to get into the spirit, even in July. 

My favorite part of the card is definitely the silver embossed "Joy" sentiment from the new A Banner Christmas set (new in the Holiday catalog.) I love how the silver just pops, but also fits into the frostyness of the card.  

If Christmas looked this good, I wouldn't mind celebrating in July. 

Update: This card was a PPA Pick this week. Thank you for all your views and visits. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Paige's Ladybug Birthday Party

Today we are going to a ladybug birthday party for our friend, Paige's, 1st birthday party. Paige is only 5 weeks younger than Owen and we think they will be great friends. 

Here was their first photo together. Owen was about a month and a half old and Paige was only about two weeks old at this point. 

This picture was taken last weekend. 

It is amazing to see them both walking and running around. 

We made this ladybug card for Paige. I like this card because it is whimsical and sweet. I'm not a big fan of any types of bugs (even ladybugs), but ones made out of paper aren't so bad. We hope she likes it too. Happy 1st Birthday!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Hello 30

Summer is the time for celebrating. Fortunately we have lots of birthdays to celebrate around here. It is always nice to have a couple birthday cards handy in case you need one. CAS-ual Fridays has just the challenge for me this week...it's called Count Me In and it required us to use numbers on our card. 

I actually wanted to make a card like this for my sister's 30th birthday, but I made a different card instead (see Birthday Weekend post.) Watercolors are all the rage right now, but I don't have any. I decided to make a faux watercolor using markers and negative space. 

I printed the numbers 3 and 0 in ChatterBox font at like 125. I cut them out and temporarily attached them to my card. I used the fat end of a Stampin' Up marker and made broad strokes over the numbers. When I was finished, I took the numbers off and walah...a faux watercolor. At least I think so! 

I know a lot of people in their 20's are scared to turn 30. Apparently it means you are getting old. I quite like being 30 so I say "Hello, 30!"

Recommended Read: The Testing

I am an avid reader. I've loved books for as long as I can remember. As a 7th grade English and World Geography teacher, I am always on the hunt for new books to put in my classroom library or read aloud to my students. You would be surprised how much teenagers enjoy being read to. 

We usually read The Giver by Lois Lowry sometime at the beginning of the school year. This is an original Utopian/Dystopian novel. I have also been in love with Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix (part of the Shadow Children series) for a long time. Another dystopian novel. Another favorite book of mine is The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, a dystopian novel. This year I finished reading Divergent by Veronica Roth and began reading the sequel Insurgent. These are also dystopian novels. 

Do you see a theme? Dystopian novels are so hot right now with The Hunger Games series gaining popularity in books and film right now. Ender's Game and Divergent are also creating films. I love this tragic world novel where everything is supposed to work perfectly, but doesn't. I also, almost never, read adult literature. Young adult lit is quick and keeps me in touch with what my students do and can read. 

To my surprise, I was walking around Sam's Club picking up supplies for Owen's birthday party when I came across a hardcover book called The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau. First of all, I'm all about getting hardcover books cheap. Second, it claimed that if I loved The Hunger Games I would devour this book...and I did!

So I'm doing my first recommended read post for this book. I'm setting it up kind of like Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and I think I am going to have my 7th graders do this in their reading notebooks this year as well. 
Title: The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2013
Genre/Format: Science Fiction/Dystopia
Summary: The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a wasteland. An elite group, several students chosen from each colony, will be able to have a chance to get a college education and help rebuild the planet if they can pass The Testing. 
Cia Vale has waited her whole life to be chosen as a Testing candidate. She is proud, but can feel her brother's disappointment in not becoming a Testing candidate himself. Before Cia leaves, possibly to never see her family again, her father’s explains his "memories" of The Testing and offers a word of advice to his daughter, "Trust No One."
She believes that she can trust childhood friend, Tomas, but is he really who he seems? Can she really trust anyone?

What I Think: I love how the author takes something we all take for granted, a higher education, and turns it into a competition for the best and brightest. Cia seems like a tough cookie who is resourceful and has a good head on her shoulders, but we are also able to see a vulnerable side to her as well. I like that she is a strong female character and reminds me of Katniss from Hunger Games. She is constantly questioning the Commonwealth and that curiosity helps her have an edge in the book. 
I was surprised to find that the Testing is not what it appears at first, or rather, is not what most people believe it is. It is interesting to hear the rationale of the Commonwealth on students who don't pass individual tests. Why would you want to continue to sacrifice so many citizens who can be of service to rebuilding the planet?
Snatch of Text: "My father said to trust no one. But looking back into Tomas's serious gray eyes, I decide to ignore that advice this one time. If it is a mistake, it is my mistake. The consequences will be mine to live with. 
'There's a camera hidden in the skimmer. I spotted two more in the cabin.'
'Are you sure?'
I nod. 
A lock of hair falls over his forehead as he looks toward the skimmer. 'I don't understand. Why would someone be watching us now?'
'Because,' I say. 'The Testing has already begun.'" (pg.58) 
Reason for Selecting this Snatch of Text: I believe this is the moment where Cia makes a life changing decision. She deliberately goes against the advice that her father gives her and trusts Tomas. She realizes that this is her decision and she will need to deal with the consequences of that choice. I believe this is where we see both sides of the character. She is strong-willed and willing to make her own choices and deal with the repercussions  but she is also compassionate and sensitive. She feels a desire to help others, but also to rely on someone and be connected. I believe this piece of text provides a bit of foreshadowing for the rest of the novel. 
Rating: 4 stars

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thinking of You Birdie (PPA164 Sketch Challenge)

I am on such a high right now after being selected as one of the picks (mine is the third one from the top) by the Paper Pal Arts staff. I decided to try my hand at another challenge. This week they gave a sketch to model. A pretty simple one too. 

I decided it was time to play with some new Designer Series Paper called Sweater Weather (from the upcoming Holiday Stampin' Up catalog) and a stamp set I have yet to crack open called For the Birds. I decided to turn my card so it was horizontal for a different look. Once I had all the pieces in place, I felt like it was missing something. This is when I punched some small holes all around the edge of the large scallop and lace some twine within them. 

I like the final look and may even try my hand at (dare I say) a Christmas card. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Polka Dot Crazy

So I've been playing along with the CAS-ual Friday's challenges and this week is no different. I held off a couple days before doing my card, because I had no idea what to do with polka dots

I found a cool color combo on the website Song of my Heart Stampers which included Pool Party, Crumb Cake, So Saffron, and Garden Green (color swatch on the far right.)

I have to be honest. I quite liked my card with the Pool Party card base and large polka dot designer paper, but after that I think things went downhill. I actually think it is super ugly now. It just doesn't seem like me at all. I might need to try again. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Birthday Weekend...Another One Joins the 30 Club!

Today is a super special day. My little sister turns 30! Let me just tell you a couple things I absolutely love about my sister. How about a top 10 list...

10. She makes me laugh all the time. We have stupid jokes and stories and I love every one of them!
9. She is a great mom and aunt. 
8. She is super thrifty (especially at the grocery store.)
7. She would do anything to help someone. She's super caring and compassionate. 
6. She always comes to my rescue when I need her (moth in the bathroom or decorations for a party)
5. She is resourceful and full of knowledge. I can always ask her questions and she is there with an answer.
4. She is an amazing cook. Thanks for always letting me eat over! :)
3. She is crafty and has a lot of great ideas. 
2. She is a great listener (when you need to vent, or just want to chat.)
1. She is the best sister and best friend I could ever ask for!

Here is the birthday card I made for her. I was really excited about this one. I like how simple, but beautiful this card is. 

My hubby, Nick, had his birthday yesterday so we always celebrate together. It was too darn hot and I was too darn lazy to make a cake for them so I resorted to a DQ cake. Nothing wrong with a little ice cream cake on a hot day. 

Here is the birthday card I made for Nick. 

Happy Birthday to two of the most important and special people in my life. I love you both!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Owen's 1 Year Old Mustache Bash

(Warning: Post is long and has lots of pictures)

Earlier this month we celebrated little man's 1st birthday. I spent a lot of time making decorations and planning. Of course, what you envision in your head never ends up happening for real. I became a big ball of stress and worry over a 1 year old birthday party. In the end, it was a wonderful day with family and friends. 

The idea for Owen's birthday theme came from where else... Pinterest. I saw a few wonderful boy themed parties with mustaches... and so I started pinning. I became a little bit obsessed and my hubby thought I was a little crazy for even needing a theme for a 1 year old party. 

My color palette started with a piece of fabric. I used that to create the invitations on Photoshop and to purchase other fabric and decorations items. I also used Photoshop to create some of the other signs for the party. 

I cut and sewed the bunting (all fabric from JoAnn's). I created tissue paper poofs (Sprtiz tissue paper from Target) and my sister made the yarn balls. Apparently those weren't as easy to make as Pinterest says they are. 

Ever since Owen was born, I started creating a Shutterfly book for him. Each page has a picture from each month and a little blurb about what he was doing during that time (another Pinterest idea.) I thought it might be a nice way to remember all the little milestones of the first year. I loved the pictures from each month so much that I found a way to display them at his party. On Pinterest (do you see a theme here?) I found that you could make your own large chalkboard by purchasing a oil drip pan from Walmart and painting it with Chalkboard paint. This is what I used to display the pictures. 

Nick made pulled pork and brisket. We also had potato salad, taco dip, fruit, veggies, calico beans, and lots of dessert. I made three kinds of cupcakes: Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese frosting, Chocolate with Nutella frosting, and Honey cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting. I made the little cupcake toppers and bought the plastic mustache toppers from Hobby Lobby. I tried making his smash cake too, but it epically failed the morning of his party. We made a quick detour to the Walmart bakery and Lindsay did some fancy fixing with a pink and blue cake. I don't think Owen could tell the difference. 

Our guests were made up of family and close friends. We only invited friends who spend time with us as a family and actually know Owen. There were quite a few people there and even a couple of my former students decided to stop by and crash. Here are a couple of Owen's guests...

His cousin Austin

Mom and Dad's Guy Friends

Mom and Dad's Girl Friends and Owen's Friends Eli and Paige

Aunt Larissa and Uncle Mike

His cousin Sawyer

Mom and Owen

Uncle Sammy and Aunt Larissa


Dad, Owen & Mama

Dad's Family

Student Party Crashers

Aunt Lindsay and cousin Colton

One of my absolute favorite pictures is when Owen started taking his first bites of cake. He loves anything that is sweet. 

 Silly little Owen. We know he won't remember it, but we hope that all the people there will be able to tell him how much fun his first birthday celebration was.

 I think I might need to start thinking about and planning next year's party.