Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Moon Festival

Since marrying into a Chinese family, I’ve learned much about Chinese culture and holiday traditions.  Each September we celebrate the Moon Festival.  It’s also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival or Lunar Festival.  It’s a time for families to get together, look at the full moon, and eat moon cakes.  My husband and I eat the moon cakes (actually we started eating them a couple of weeks ago! hehe) then we’ll go out and look at the moon.  I’ve read that some folks tell stories of Chinese mythology regarding the moon, but that’s not something my husband seems to do.  Basically it’s a time for family which reminds me a little of Thanksgiving. 

As far as the moon cakes are concerned, I think they are an acquired taste.  This is the first year I’ve really enjoyed them.  In the past I remember gagging at the preserved egg yolk in the middle.  Well, actually I found an assortment this year that didn’t have the egg and that made me much happier.  lol

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I found an assortment of mini-cakes this year that were made in California.  (Most of the moon cakes are imported from China.)  They came in this pretty box and with a matching gift bag. 

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Moon cakes aren’t very sweet, but they are rich and very heavy.  This assortment contained some with the traditional lotus paste, while others had red bean paste, nuts and pineapple, or dates.  I think I like the minis because of the variety.  Plus, as mentioned before, none of these had an egg yolk inside.  And, from my perspective, that’s a good thing. 

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I love how pretty they are.  I imagine that’s why they are expensive because it’s harder to mass produce.  Oh… and yes, I think they are kind of expensive.  I think this box was $16 and each cake was only about the size of a 1/2 dollar coin.  My husband and I have been cutting each in half and sharing them.  Today we’ll eat the last one (I have no idea what flavor it will be!) and then we’ll wait till next September to have some more. 

Enjoy the day!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Coffee & Card Crafting

What do you get when you mix coffee, sweet treats, and cardmaking?  A bunch of silly & happy women!  I thought I’d share some of the photos I took last week of my customers showing off some coffee-themed card creations. 

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Margo with the card that holds a gift card. 

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Phyllis with a cute “perk up” card.

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Peggy made a coffee-themed stationery kit.

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Margaret’s card could be hot chocolate or coffee.  Plus, did you notice that even our coffee cups were covered in Stampin’ Up designer paper?  Fun, huh? 

Till next time, Happy Stampin’! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Signs of Fall

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In addition to the leaves changing, with fall we also have children returning to school and apples filling trees.  This apple card was one we made at my recent card buffet.  I love the simplicity and the fall colors.  It was set to retire from the buffet, but several of the ladies asked that it return, so I’m offering it again in October.   

And speaking of apples, I recently learned to make apple butter.  My friend, Robin, gave me a bunch of apples and I thought I’d try something new.  I love how it turned out.  We’ve eaten so much of it that I think I need to make another batch.  Here I am using my mandolin to slice the apples.  I put them into the crockpot overnight and then the next day my husband helped with the canning.  Neither of us had canned before so it was fun to learn the new skill together.   

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Card Buffet

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I held my first Card Buffet on Tuesday night and I think it went well.  It was a little different than my normal Stamp-a-Stack in that the participants were able to select the cards (from 12 available varieties) they wanted to make.  They could make as many as they wanted!  I’ll be doing the buffet again on Tuesday, October 9th at 6PM.  If you’re local, I’d love to have you join us! 

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This was one of the cards we made.  This one will now be “retired” from the buffet circuit and will be replaced by a new selection next month.  That’s the great thing about the buffet.  Some of the cards retire, while others return the following month.  I think that takes away the stress of feeling like you have to make ALL the cards in one night. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More Swaps

I thought I’d share some more swaps I received from Convention.  Most cards had a name, but some didn’t.  If it’s your card, let me know and I’ll give you credit. 

The Ronald McDonald House charity set was a popular choice:

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I love the Pleasant Poppies stamp & evidently I’m not alone:

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These demonstrators shared some great ways to use scrap paper:

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Till next time- Happy Stampin’!

PS- Thanks to all who attended the Card Buffet tonight.  The next one is scheduled for Tuesday, October 9th at 6PM.  I hope you’ll come again!  The other blog I spoke about (with the dog photos) is http://houseofzhong.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stippled Blossoms

I bought this stamp set after returning home from the Stampin’ Up Convention because Carrie Cudney showed a card made with it that I just loved.  Well, I didn’t take a picture of the card she did and I couldn’t even remember what it looked like.  I decided to just make one that was different.  I also wanted to participate in the Color Me Beautiful challenge (http://colormebeautifulchallenge.blogspot.com/) again this week. 

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I used artichoke and vanilla cardstock and added some of the Natural Composition dsp.  I used the colors of the challenge (except for the More Mustard.) 

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I used edgelits to get the unique mat shape.  I used the Adorning Accents edgelit to get the curved end and then cut out a lacy design with the Finishing Touches edgelit.  Since it was straight, I clipped it so that I could make it curve and applied it to the back.  I stamped the flower with a 2nd generation Calypso Coral and the leaves with Always Artichoke.  On a separate sheet of paper I stamped the flower image with Calypso Coral and then did the outline in Raspberry Ripple.  I popped it up and a made it a little offset for interest.    I’m happy with the way it all turned out. 

Happy Stampin! 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cats & Dogs

I love animals.  As many of you know, we have a dog and I really, really, really want to add a cat to the family.  I also love the Animal Talk stamp set (pg 35 in the 2012-2013 catalog.)  I created 2 quick cards using the new cotton ribbon & paper from the Festival of Prints DSP in the holiday catalog.  (Funny how that “holiday” paper looks so nice with my pet stamps.)  

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Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lifestyle Crafts Genius Platform–My Review

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I am a Stampin’ Up demonstrator.  I love Stampin’ Up products.  Does this mean I ONLY use Stampin’ Up products?  Maybe that’s the case for some demonstrators, but I am a crafter and I look for products that meet my needs.  Sometimes those products are not offered by Stampin’ Up.  Anyway, I buy other brands of products in addition to Stampin’ Up ones.  What follows is a long, wall-of-text, if you will, review of a new product that is not from Stampin’ Up.   
Several months ago I heard about a new product coming to the market.  It was a magnetic die cutting platform that would work in all major brands of die cut machines.  See, I had a problem with my Framelits & Edgelits moving around on my other platform.  I resorted to using tape, which just seemed like a hassle.  I read about this new product that would hold onto my metal dies and seemingly improve my crafting experience.  I ordered the product in May and have waited patiently for it’s arrival which was delayed several times.  Finally it came yesterday.  Woo Hoo! 
Before I continue this review, I need to admit to another non-Stampin’ Up item in my craftroom.  I have a Cuttlebug.  Yes, I know I sell the BigShot.  I like the BigShot, but I already had the Cuttlebug, so it seemed wasteful to buy another die cutting machine, especially when the Cuttlebug works so well.  On the Lifestyle Crafts site it says it works with all major brands of die cutting machines.  Cuttlebug is also specifically listed.  Well when my new magnetic plates arrived yesteday I found that I was literally having to cram them into the machine.  To say it’s a tight fit would be an understatement.  I did get the plates through the machine and successfully cut some paper, but I had to use force to get the plates out.  They won’t roll all the way thru like the Cuttlebug plates.  I decided my product was defective and contacted Lifestyle Crafts.  After all, this system costs $50 and I wanted it to work.  Today I heard back from the company.  It seems that their product only works with the NEW Cuttlebug.  It’s very disappointing and it would have been awesome if they had mentioned this previously.  Granted the picture of the Cuttlebug on their box is the new version, they give the impression that their system will work with all products and it won’t. 
Also, let me discuss the other good and bad points of the product.  First off, I thought the platform would be a magnet.  I knew it was “magnetic” and I assumed that would be the entire plate.  I was kind of surprised when I removed it from the box and found small magnets placed on the back of the platform every inch or so.  The back looks sort of like a honeycomb and the magnets are inserted up into the holes.  Frankly the appearance doesn’t matter to me, but I did notice that having the magnets spaced every inch isn’t quite the same as having a sheet of magnet across the platform.  For example, I thought this would be a great opportunity to create a frame.  I put one framelit inside another one and found it not as easy as I had thought.  In the past, I’d tape them into place to create a frame.  On this platform the metal dies move.  They pull in the direction of the closest magnet.  I’d put the center framelit in place and it would shift so it was touching the larger one.  It was really aggravating.  I found I could eventually get it to work, but it took moving the dies all over the platform to find just the right spot to keep the dies at a good distance from each other.  All the while I’m thinking using the tape was faster and easier. 
Then there are the A & B plates.  They aren’t hard plastic like the Big Shot or Cuttlebug plates.  They are a little spongy, more like a self-healing mat.  I think this is where this system shined.  I ran my fancy Finishing Touches Edgelit thru and it worked wonders.  All those little pieces popped out without me resorting to using a piercing tool.  I wanted to try it with the doily die, but there was another problem.  The $50 Genius system comes with only 1 A & 1B mat.  I’d need an extra one to cut sizzlits and that’s sold separately.  I doubt I’ll be purchasing an extra mat, so I will never know if my doily would cut out with ease. 
Overall I think this product has more negative points than positives and I won’t be recommending it to my friends.  Actually I feel bad I recommended it before.  I got everyone so excited about this new miracle product, which isn’t at all what I expected.  Sad smile  Sometimes if something sounds too good to be true, it is.

**June 2013 Update:
Stampin' Up has added a new Big Shot Magnetic Platform ($40) to their 2013-2014 catalog.  I was excited to see this after the problems I experienced with the Genius system.  I will say that I have not yet seen the product in person.  One of the problems I had with the Genius was that it wasn't a full magnetic sheet and that caused my framelits to "jump" around, rather than staying in place as expected.  According to Stampin' Up Demonstrator Services, the new Big Shot platform has 18 magnets.  Does that mean it will work much like the Genius?  That makes me hesitant to buy.  I hope to get to try it out at a demonstrator event in the next couple of months.  Once I can make a recommendation, I'll post it here.

September 2013 UPDATE:  I ordered the new Big Shot Magnetic Platform.  This is my video review comparing it to the Lifestyle Crafts Genius.  I am pleased with the Sizzix product and I'm very happy I purchased it.  At this point I feel comfortable giving it my 2 Thumbs Up!  It's important to note that the Big Shot platform will not fit into either of the Cuttlebug models I own.  The Lifestyle Crafts Genius will fit into my newer Cuttlebug and the Big Shot, but will not fit into the older Cuttlebug.   
   

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Color Me Beautiful Color Challenge

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Paper crafting challenges are new to me, but there’s a first time for everything!  I used all of the colors in the challenge.  Wow..that’s a lot of colors!  I did a very non-traditional fall card with the French Foliage stamp set.  I stamped an assortment of leaves onto Naturals White cardstock.  I found the Limeade to be a little too much for the other colors, so I stamped into the limeade, stamped off on scratch paper, and then rolled the edges into the Basic Gray to soften the green.

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Have a blog and want to participate?  You can find the challenge at http://colormebeautifulchallenge.blogspot.com/ 

Happy Stampin’ 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Free Ribbon Promo

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This month you’ll get free ribbon with every $40 spent (order $40, get 1 roll, spend $80, get 2 rolls, and so on.)  This is a card showcasing one way you can use that free ribbon.  The colors remind me of fall, but they would also work well for masculine cards.  I love the Midnight Muse color of the ribbon, don’t you?  I think it’s my favorite of all the new in-colors.     

Happy Stampin!  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Free Ribbon!

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It’s September and that means it’s time for “Back to School” for the kids.  This year, there’s some fun for adults too because Stampin’ Up is offering a “Back to Spool” promotion.  Starting today, Stampin’ Up is offering a free roll of 2012-2014 In Color Ribbon with every $40 order.  That means the more you buy, the more ribbon you can earn for free.  You can chose from 5 awesome colors.  I love free stuff, don’t you? 

Also, to make this promotion even more fun, the company produced a silly video of a suggestion for using all the free ribbon you’ll be getting.  Hmm.. I think I saw a blender at a garage sale this morning.  Maybe I should go back and buy it? 

Enjoy-

How will you use your free ribbon?