Sunday, 30 December 2012

A sneak peek...

You’ll have to forgive me if I keep posting Christmas projects for a while – I was so busy making before Christmas that I didn’t have time to post them all.

But here’s one that looks backwards to Christmas while looking forward to next year. I don’t think this was intended as a Christmas stamp but I thought it would be perfect... until I realised it wasn’t a postbox but a phone box. Never mind, by the time the penny had dropped, I’d already coloured half a dozen of them in!

I sent this card to all my club members in December, as well as to everyone else who placed an order... and some friends and relatives, too. I did end up regretting it being such a high-maintenance card!

I began by stamping the phone box in Basic Gray and colouring it in using blender pens and reinkers. The top card shown here isn’t my best effort... I did get better at it the more I did! I stamped the greeting in Cherry Cobbler and then used the splodge stamp from French Foliage to stamp the snow in Whisper White craft ink.

Beneath the phone box I put a smear of  Dazzling Details and then I sprayed the whole lot using Champagne Mist Shimmer spray. You can’t see it here but they really do sparkle!

Where’s the stamp from? Well you’ll just have to wait and see. Suffice to say that you can’t put a price on it... I think you know where I’m coming from!

Stamps: Feeling Sentimental, Greetings of the Season, French Foliage
Cardstock: Cherry Cobbler, Sahara Sand (some were Crumb Cake)
Ink: Cherry Cobbler, Basic Gray, Whisper White
Accessories: Dazzling Details, Blender Pens, Champagne Mist Shimmer Paint

All products by Stampin’ Up!®

Saturday, 29 December 2012

A snowy cat for Caturday

Oops, I think that's the first time I've not posted between Caturdays but I'm sure you'll forgive me as it's Christmas! This is Shearer, who was staying at the cat shelter for a while but has now returned home. He's VERY fluffy, as you can see! He'd make a great Christmas card if he was pictured in the snow. Let's hope we get some snow soon.

Will be back soon(ish) with some crafty projects as, hard as it may be to believe, I HAVE been crafting a little in the past week!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Pre-Christmas Caturday

So, were you banking on the world ending yesterday? If so, it looks like you're going to have to rush out and do your Christmas shopping now after all. Go on, hurry!

It's beginning to look a LOT like Christmas here... I have most of the presents wrapped, festive food stored in all the coldest places of the house (fridge and freezer both full!) and, a sure sign that the Christmas season has well and truly begun, the double issue of the Radio Times starts today. Looking forward to kicking things off with the Strictly final tonight!

I still have a couple of presents to make... yes MAKE, but panic ye not as they are baking projects so absolutely must be left to the last minute. Ingredients are purchased though so we are good to go.

This manoeuvre involved Stella marching up the daughter
for a head rub
That's the "concentrating face" as daughter
balances camera in one hand and cat
on shoulder. Stella looks happy though!
Meanwhile it is, of course, Caturday, and daughter has surprisingly given me permission to post these pictures of her and Stella, a temporary resident at the shelter. As you can see, they formed quite a special bond!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Black butterfly box frame

Finally I have all my Christmas cards in the post – well, all except one because I can’t find the lady’s address! Grrr... I know it will turn up when it’s too late. Well it already is too late but you know what I mean.

In case you think I’ve been doing nothing, here’s some proof of activity; another box frame. I won’t bore you with them all as I’ve made quite a few, but I wanted to show you another style.  I did this one in the style of those beautiful but creepy butterfly display cases which always make me wonder “if you love butterflies so much why have you killed so many of them?” You’ll be pleased to know that no butterflies were harmed in the making of this frame. Also, with the use of grid paper, it’s not that difficult to get the butterflies in straight lines.

Instead of scoring them in the traditional manner, I rested each one on a piercing mat and pressed in the centre with my bone folder – this both scored them and made the edges rise up.

You can just see on the lower butterflies that they are slightly sparkly. I did this using a mix of Champagne Mist Shimmer Paint and isopropyl alcohol, spritzed onto black cardstock. It looks especially fabulous on black.

The butterfly on the middle row is punched from Silver Glimmer Paper for extra sparkle. Down the centre I have stuck some rhinestones, which I coloured black with a Sharpie. These are a little precarious on the Glimmer Paper as the glitter makes them hard to stick, so a little extra adhesive was in order.

For the name, yes I treated myself to the alphabet dies and I don’t regret it for one moment as they are fabulous! They are the real deal – Bigz dies which will cut through chipboard – so I stuck the Designer Series Paper to that useful cardstock backing you get in DSP packs before running it through. To avoid clogging up the die with adhesive, I used Big Shot Adhesive Sheets.

Cardstock: Basic Black, Whisper White, Brushed Silver
Paper: Brights DSP Stack, Silver Glimmer Paper
Accessories: Typeset Alphabet Bigz dies, Elegant Butterfly punch, Champagne Mist Shimmer Paint, Basic Rhinestones

All products by Stampin’ Up!®

Monday, 17 December 2012

Polar Party with a touch of sparkle

If I go missing over the next few days it’s because of computer trouble. I’m having a lot of bother with my mouse – at least, I hope it’s the mouse! – so have ordered a new one. Basically, nothing is happening as it should – I click and it double-clicks, I try to click and drag and completely random things happen. Very frustrating. Hopefully it will all end when the new mouse arrives. If not, glurk – really don’t need another major expense just before Christmas, on top of the broken fridge-freezer, and possible roof repairs!

Anyway, enough of the broken items in our house as I could go on... here’s what could end up being one of the Christmas cards I’m making this year – once I get time to assemble them, that is! All the components are sitting in a box awaiting adhesive. This evening perhaps?
Stamps: Polar Party, Mixed Medley
Cardstock: Pool Party, Lucky Limeade, Cherry Cobbler, Silver Glimmer Paper, Whisper White
Ink: Basic Gray, Lucky Limeade, Cherry Cobbler, Pool Party
Accessories: ¾” circle punch, 1” circle punch,  1 ¼” scallop circle punch, Snowflake Die, Chevron Embossing Folder, Blender Pens, Smooch Spritz– Vanilla Shimmer

All products by Stampin’ Up!®

Other: White felt

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Caturday - Max

Meet Max, the extra fluffy feline belonging to my friend Amanda. She claims he has aggression issues but I didn't notice this at all when I stroked him at length last weekend. Amanda says he was just showing off for the visitor. Amanda has her own blog which she'd love you to visit - please click here.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Christmas jelly beans with tree tag

Here are some more Christmas goodies I rustled up on Tuesday – this time for my Virtual Hostess Club members. I like to include a little something with every VHC order and thought it was time for something festive!

These are heavily inspired (ok, copied!) by the swaps my friend Alison made for Convention. She cut out a tree from her cards to make a cool aperture and then used the tree to make tags. How economical of her! This time I just made the tags but I’ve followed her principle for another project I may get round to showing you if I can ever get some half-decent pictures!

For this project, I filled those cute little cello bags (SUCH a bargain – only £2.25 for 50!!!) with strawberry jelly beans (TK Maxx) and tied the top with various natural ribbons... I actually finished off three rolls making these. Not because I used so much ribbon, but because I was at the end of so many.

Now the tag. The tree is cut out of Coredinations cardstock, embossed using the Square Lattice folder, and sanded. It’s mounted onto a scalloped circle and a larger circle to create the tag. I stuck a piece of Whisper White cardstock onto the DSP so that it can be written on. Didn’t write on them though – thought my club members could reuse them if I left them blank!

The final touch is a little glittery flower from Red Glimmer Paper, topped with a pearl. Cute.

Cardstock: Early Espresso Coredinations, Cherry Cobbler
Paper: Candlelight Christmas, Glimmer Paper – Red
Accessories: Holiday Framelits, Itty Bitty Punches, Basic Pearls, 2 3/8” scallop circle punch, 2 ½” circle punch, Cherry Cobbler Baker’s Twine, Crumb Cake Seam Binding Ribbon

All products by Stampin’ Up!®

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Butterflies box frame

To those who doubted that I could make my Christmas presents, here’s some evidence that I’ve actually started at last! Ok, so it’s only one but every project has to start somewhere. This is an Ikea frame (they’re on offer at the moment so I bought loads!) a sheet of the backing from some DSP (because I have 12x12 Whisper White on order but was impatient to get started) and a shedload of butterflies. Nothing more, nothing less. Hard to photograph though – see if you can spot the unfortunate reflection of a dart board!

Supplies: Box frame, White cardstock, Big Shot, Beautiful Wings Embosslits, Beautiful Butterflies Bigz Die, various Brights and Subtles cardstock scraps (no I’m NOT listing them all!)

Monday, 10 December 2012

Betsy's Blossom

I’ve shown you lots of cards using the lovely bird from Betsy’s Blossoms, so I thought it was time for one with an actual blossom. So here’s a bright and colourful card for a grey December day.

Stamps: Betsy’s Blossoms, Itty Bitty Banners
Cardstock: Baja Breeze, Rich Razzleberry, Whisper White
Paper: Floral District
Ink: Tangerine Tango, Rich Razzleberry
Accessories: Bitty Banners Framelits Dies, Brights Buttons, Whisper White Baker’s Twine

All products by Stampin’ Up!®

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Caturday - Sasha

Today's Caturday pin-up is Sasha, who belongs to Alison H, one of my downlines. Sasha is a rescue cat and is dressed up in her Christmas finery! Alison says she loves to sit your knee and be stroked, but just can't keep her claws to herself as she pads in ecstasy. In warmer weather, apparently she loves to lie in the sunshine, pretending to be roadkill!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Holiday Ornaments - simple and stepped-up

Look familiar? Yes, it’s a variation on this card, which I’ve been using at the Make & Take at some of my pre-Christmas workshops. I changed it up a little to use the Ornament Keepsakes bundle and Candlelight Christmas Designer Series Paper, to tie in with last month’s offer. However, I stuck with Gumball Green as one of the colours because I want as many people as possible to buy the new-style ink pads before they buy as it really is a different stamping technique. They’re absolutely brilliant for coverage, you just need to be aware to tap lightly... or you’ll get covered in ink!

Stamps: Ornament Keepsakes, Greetings of the Season
Cardstock: Real Red, Gumball Green, Whisper White
Paper: Candlelight Christmas
Ink: Real Red, Gumball Green
Accessories: Holiday Ornaments framelits dies, white Baker’s Twine, 2 ½” circle punch, dotted scallop ribbon border punch

And here’s a stepped-up version I prepared earlier. A stepped-up card has a few more products on it and takes a little more time. It’s not necessarily one you’d want to mass-produce.

You can just see a hint of pale GREEN glimmer paper between the two layers of the bauble. This is a technique we learned at Convention, and I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on here. But if you take some silver glimmer paper, you can COLOUR it using markers (in an emergency, as I’m sure it’s not good for the brush tip) or using ink refills. I used markers for this one but achieved slightly darker results using a few (ok about 40) drops of reinker in one of our new little spritzer bottles (p179) half-filled with isopropyl alcohol (aka rubbing alcohol or IPA).

So, taking my ropy photography into account, which one do you prefer?

Stamps: Ornament Keepsakes, Greetings of the Season
Cardstock: Cherry Cobbler, Gumball Green, Whisper White
Paper: Candlelight Christmas, Silver Glimmer Paper
Ink: Cherry Cobbler, Gumball Green, Gumball Green marker
Accessories: Holiday Ornaments framelits dies, Cherry Cobbler Baker’s Twine, 2 ½” circle punch, dotted scallop ribbon border punch, 1” circle punch, paper piercing tool, Festive piercing mat

All products by Stampin' Up!®

Monday, 3 December 2012

Stampin' Up!® paper trimmer now available

Well the title says it all but in case you need it spelling out: the new Stampin' Up!® paper trimmer is now available in Europe. The Stampin' Up!® elves have been working hard on this fab new product, to ensure that it meets customer and demonstrator recommendations. In particular, they have paid attention to all those little niggles we had about the old one we used to carry. So, with this in mind, the new trimmer features:
  • Metric and imperial measurements!
  • Cutting and scoring blades - dark for cutting, light for scoring
  • Specially-designed handles and cutting track so that blades won't wobble: cutting and scoring lines will be straight
  • Extra long track with extra space at the top and bottom so you can cut 12x12 cardstock without having to remove the extra blade
  • Insertion point at the bottom of the track so blades can easily be removed
  • Extended 15.9cm (6 1/4") base so you can cut most of your projects without the extender arm
  • Extender arm extends cutting area to 14"
  • Storage section underneath for storing bone folders, spare blades etc - with clear cover so you can see what's in it
  • Non-slip feet so the trimmer won't wobble
  • Measurements won't wear off!
The trimmer costs £25.95, so why not ask for one for Christmas? Drop me a line if you'd like to order one please! 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Jaffa cake goes large

It's birthday weekend in the Read household as daughter turns - gasp - 16! Makes me feel old, it does. For her cake she requested an extra large Jaffa Cake, so I paid a visit to - a site dedicated to showing you how to make extra large versions of your favourite snacks. Yes, really!

I baked the cake in a frying pan (handle removed) and set double-strength jelly in a smaller frying pan, although a plate would have been more appropriate. The finished product was not too bad I thought, although we could have done with shallower cake and jelly. It was VERY rich - most of it is heading to school tomorrow to entertain her friends. Oh, and it's REALLY hard to get candles into thick chocolate!

By the way, if you're visiting this blog from a country where they don't sell Jaffa Cakes, I feel for you, I really do.

On a (slightly) related note, it's also very difficult to find those little cheese savouries from parties in days gone by. These were also requested for the birthday tea and I wandered up and down the aisle in Sainsbury's for ages, struggling to see past racks and racks of "posh" crisps. I'm quite a fan of hand-baked Cheddar and caramelised shallot (cheese and onion to you and me) but daughter reckons you can't trust crisps "unless the bag is shiny" and insisted on "those little cheesy things that look like cat food". I found them eventually, as you can see!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

A very late in the day Caturday

Sorry, only just sat down! Apologies to all those Caturday-only visitors (hello, Auntie Audrey!).

This photo is very rare indeed. This is Mr Winky and his sister, Cobweb, sharing a chair because one of them (I forget which) wanted to sit there and the other one was in the way. You can see how pleased Cobweb is about this.

And to think that when we visited them at the cat shelter all those years ago, we were told that "they love each other, we couldn't possibly split them up".

Friday, 30 November 2012

Christmas tree from paper scraps

This is the second project we made at our team training at the weekend. It was inspired by a demonstration at Convention by Charlotte Harding, from the European head office.  It’s a brilliant way to use those tiny bits of DSP that you’ve been hoarding – just punch triangles from them using the Petite Pennants Builder Punch – you don’t even need whole triangles for all but the top one! Mix packs of DSP and go wild with the colours – go on, I dare you!

Stamps: Greetings of the Season
Cardstock: Lucky Limeade, Island Indigo
Paper: Festival of Prints DSP stack
Ink: Early Espresso (looks like Artichoke in this pic though)
Accessories: Petite Pennants Builder Punch, Merry Minis punch pack, Woodgrain embossing folder, basic rhinetones

All products by Stampin’ Up!®

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Slim cello bag favour

This fab little project was one of the Make & Takes at my team meeting at the weekend. This M&T was provided by my very first downline, Alison Richardson, who also celebrated her fifth anniversary with Stampin’ Up!® recently!

She used the fab little cello bags (which are now definitely on my next order!) which we filled with Skittles and then created a very speedy tag using the Mixed Medley hostess stamp set. You’ll be seeing a lot more these, I’m sure!

Stamps: Mixed Medley (hostess)
Cardstock: Whisper White
Ink: Primrose Petals, Gumball Green
Accessories: ¾” circle punch, 1 ¼” scallop circle punch, baker’s twine, those narrow cello bags, sorry don’t have time to find the size, got to go to work!

All products by Stampin’ Up!®

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Stampin' Up! Convention - want to have this much fun? If so, sign up as a demo today!

Do YOU want to have this much fun? All you have to do is sign up as a Stampin' Up!® demonstrator and you, too, could be enjoying Convention in 2013! Take a look at this year's official highlights video... extra points if you can spot me!

When you've watched, why not join the fun by signing up? All you have to do is click here to join my friendly team. It will only cost you £99 and you'll start saving money straight away! Do it before the end of November and you'll also earn:

1. FREE Designer Series Paper every month for SIX months!
2. A gift of a brand new stamp set from me!

What have you got to lose?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Festival of Prints chocolate box

Anne Honsel's swap
Cute little box received as a Convention swap from German demonstrator Anne Honsel – easy to recreate, yes? You’d think, wouldn’t you? But no, I must have been having a mental block because I had to have at least four goes before I finally got the measurements right... and this was AFTER taking it apart and measuring it! 

The good news is that the original is back together and now at last I know what I’m doing.

This box was made from Festival of Prints paper stack, you know, the little one that everyone loves so much! The measurements are really easy in metric but I wanted to adapt it to inches because I don’t have the metric plate for my Simply Scored.

Boxes for my team

Once I had my Simply Scored set up – I marked two of the markers with a permanent pen so I’d know which measurements were which – I was flying and made a whole batch of these for my team training event yesterday. The finished box just fit one Ferrero Rocher chocolate, so these are perfect for table favours or little gifts at work. Sometimes I make projects like these for work instead of cards – no writing required (they’re obviously from me!) and I don’t have to worry about missing anyone out.

I like the sanded Core-dinations hearts best!
Metric instructions

  1. Take a sheet of DSP from the Festival of Prints stack and cut down to 15cm long
  2. Score along the long edge at 2cm and 9cm
  3. Turn 90º and score at 3cm, 7cm, 10cm and 14cm.
  4. Fold and cut away the smallest piece.
  5. Cut up along the short scorelines. If desired, you can cut narrow triangles from these to shape them slightly.
  6. Keep one piece as the top flap, the one next to the side flap
  7. Cut away all the other sections from this edge piece (shaded areas in diagram). Round the corners on the remaining flap
  8. Now assemble 
Imperial instructions

  1. Take a sheet of DSP from the Festival of Prints stack
  2. Score along the long edge at ¾” and 3½”
  3. Turn 90º and score at 1¼” -  2 7/8”  -  4 1/8"  -  5 ¾”
  4. As above 

The “bow” is made from Cherry Cobbler tulle – about an inch of it, turned sideways and then pinched in the middle with some linen thread or baker’s twine wrapped around it a few times and knotted. It’s attached with a Glue Dot®. Anne’s original had really cute magnets as a closure but I don’t have those so simply attached the scallop circle at the bottom only and then tucked the top flap behind it to secure. It worked!

Stamps: Mixed Medley (hostess)
Cardstock: Very Vanilla, Coredinations cardstock - Early Espresso
Paper: Festival of Prints, Cherry Cobbler Glimmer Paper
Ink: Crumb Cake, Cherry Cobbler
Accessories: Little heart punch, ¾” circle punch, small scallop circle punch, linen thread, baker’s twine, Cherry Cobbler tulle, Glue Dots®, corner rounder

All products by Stampin’ Up!®

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Caturday - and it's black cat time again

Who's this? Well it's a black cat and it's in our garden ... but it doesn't have the finely-chiselled good looks of Mr Winky so calm down, Emma from Wales!

This is a visiting cat we call Tutheran ("t'other 'un" in Derbyshire means "the other one") and he's very shy with humans (this was taken zoomed in and through glass) and unfortunately quite aggressive with our cats. We thought he was a stray as he was looking a bit manky and we were going to try to capture him - but he's looking a lot better groomed lately so perhaps he was just going through a rough patch.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Masculine sympathy card

Continuing my theme of adapting Convention swaps, I made this card earlier this week. I received some sad news affecting a former colleague and wanted to make him a card. Two challenges faced me: a sympathy card, which I never find easy, and a card for a man, which I know many of us struggle with.

Hopefully I hit the right note with this adaptation of a swap by Sharon Sim – who herself has made two versions of the same card and shows them on her blog, here.

I used French Foliage, one of my favourite sets which I really should use more often, and kept to the same color combo, but with a darker mat as I thought it was more manly and more sombre. No bling, of course!

I seem to be hearing a lot of sad news lately, so if anyone has any happy news they’d like to share, I’d love to hear it! Please leave me a comment to cheer me up!

Stamps: French Foliage, So Sorry
Cardstock: Crumb Cake, Island Indigo, Very Vanilla
Ink: Crumb Cake, Island Indigo

All products by Stampin' Up!® 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Celebrating five years with SU!

Congratulations to me!

Today is a very special day – do you know what it is?

It’s my Stampin’ Up!® anniversary! I can hardly believe that I joined SU five years ago today – the past five years have flown by and now I can’t imagine life without Stampin’ Up!®

Stampin’ Up!® is also celebrating five years in Europe – yes, I joined in the first week... becoming an “early adopter” for the first time in my life. I had been waiting for that moment for so long that I didn’t give it a second thought. It was only once my Starter Kit had arrived that I realised I was too scared to hold any workshops (see item 3, below).

Five things I’ve done in the past five years:

  1. Made loads of crafting friends
  2. Experienced the excitement of Stampin’ Up! events, including training sessions, leadership events and three Conventions
  3. Overcome what I thought was an insurmountable fear of public speaking
  4. Vastly increased my stamping stash (oops)
  5. Made so many crafty U-turns that I feel dizzy! 
Oh no, five isn’t enough, here are five more! I’ve also...

  1. Promoted several times
  2. Stayed in swanky hotels
  3. Been on the Eurostar for the first time
  4. Flown (almost) alone for the first time
  5. Walked across the stage at Convention! 
There will be more excitement to come for sure as I continue to spread the word about SU and help others to unlock their creativity and to increase their own circles of crafty friends.

Meanwhile, if you’re a long-term SU fan, you’ll probably remember the early days of SU in Europe and appreciate just how far we’ve come. Here are a couple of facts and figures from Convention, showing our amazing growth!

Catalogue size
2007-08 Idea Book & Catalogue = 96 pages
2012-13 Annual Catalogue = 204 pages!

We had a pretty small range of stamps, very few ribbons and, imagine it... no Big Shot, Simply Scored, clear-mount stamps, no individual reinkers, and, brace yourself... no Cherry Cobbler!

Now, of course, we pretty much have it all – did you know that we now offer 1,463 products in our two current catalogues?

Convention attendance
First Convention, Frankfurt 2009 = 135 demonstrators
Fourth Convention, Mainz 2012 = 829 demonstrators!

Word spreads you see. Convention is an unforgettable experience and, once word gets out, people join SU just so that they can come along. And then they get so fired up with enthusiasm so that they stay!

In Europe, there are now 3,360 demonstrators... an increase of 51% on last year! Which is pretty amazing... and only set to get even better. Austria currently has 42 demonstrators and the Netherlands has  63... just watch those figures grow!

The card I've shown was made by my friend Kelly - let's pretend she made it to congratulate me on my fifth anniversary! 

Stamps: Make a Cake, Itty Bitty Banners
Cardstock: Whisper White
Ink: Midnight Muse, Primrose Petals
Accessories: Bitty Banner Framelits, Rhinestones

All products by Stampin' Up!®

Monday, 19 November 2012

Inspired by a Convention swap

I received loads of beautiful swaps at Convention, which I haven’t got round to photographing yet because I never seem to be here in daylight. I find blogging at this time of year very frustrating... will have to dig out my daylight lamp again, although even that doesn’t produce best results. But anyway, enough griping, I have decided this year to make better use of my swaps. Normally I just add them to my displays but this year I’m going to use some of them as starting points for new designs... or even just CASE them if I have the correct supplies!
The inspiration: A Convention swap

These little cards (forgive the photo, you know the problems) were made to include in a recent party order. It was a VERY successful party, so I needed a LOT of cards. For my thank you cards for orders, I make half-sized cards, starting with a piece of A4 cut into quarters.

My starting point was this anonymous swap I received at Convention. (Edited to add: Turns out it was by Val Moody.) And, as we were all given this stamp set at Convention, I could make it myself! Well, I had some help from my friend Kelly, who was given free rein to choose colours... as long as I had enough to hand. Between us we made about 30 cards in a couple of hours!

Stamps: Summer Silhouettes, Sweet Essentials
Cardstock: So Saffron, Very Vanilla, Raspberry Ripple
Ink: Pool Party, Early Espresso, Raspberry Ripple
Accessories: Big Shot, Butterfly Embosslits

All products by Stampin’ Up!®

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Caturday... and a new app for your iPhone!

Meet Tak, one of the Cretan cats currently residing at the shelter. I don't know him that well but daughter assures me he is a lovely, friendly fellow!

Stampin' Up!® news... there's a brand new iPhone/iPad app available in iTunes. It's called Simply Sent and it allows you to design simple cards and share them with your friends via Facebook etc. I don't have the facilities to try it own so please download it (it's FREE) and let me know how you get on!

Gotta dash, got visitors this weekend and have loads to do before they arrive!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Get extra free products when you join in November

Today I’d like to remind you of the most fabulous sign-up offer we’ve ever had. But first...

  1. Do you want to see sneak peeks of all the new goodies Stampin’ Up!® has to offer?
  2. Do you want a discount on all your craft products?
  3. Do you want to be part of a friendly, supportive team? 
I could go on (and frequently do) but am trying to keep it short. So, if you answered “yes” to ANY of those questions, it’s time you got in touch to find out more about being a demonstrator. But please hurry, as November will be over before you know it – and you’ll have missed a fantastic deal!

So, what is this deal?

In short, join this month and you can order FREE Designer Series Paper every month for SIX MONTHS.

There’s more... if you join my team this November, I will also give you an additional brand new stamp set as a special welcome gift!

Why not ask for your Starter Kit as a Christmas present? It’s a gift that could change your life.

Don’t want to do workshops? You don’t have to. Honestly. Just drop me a line and I’ll explain how you can do it YOUR way. You are also welcome to come to my next team meeting to meet women who are happily doing it THEIR way.

Already convinced? Click here and you could be a demonstrator by tomorrow!

Meanwhile, take a look at these little notepads and pens I decorated using the Brights DSP stack. They were gifts for my Virtual Hostess Club members last month.

Stamps: Mixed Medley (hostess)
Cardstock: Whisper White, various Brights
Paper: Brights DSP Stack
Ink: Basic Black, various Brights
Accessories: Scallop Edge Punch, 3/4" circle punch, 1 1/4" scallop circle punch

All craft supplies by Stampin' Up!®

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Peace at Christmas

I have to say I’m really disappointed in my new camera. I thought it was user error but I’ve had chance to explore its features now and it doesn’t perform anywhere near as well as my old camera, which has fewer megapixels. I wonder if they’ll take it back?

Here is an attempt to photograph the Make & Take from a workshop I did a couple of weeks before Convention.

Stamps: Scentsational Season Bundle, Greetings of the Season
Cardstock: Cherry Cobbler, Gumball Green, Whisper White
Paper: Snow Festival DSP, Red Glimmer Paper
Ink: Cherry Cobbler, Gumball Green
Accessories: 2 ½” circle punch, dotted scallop ribbon border punch

All products by Stampin’ Up!®

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Caturday ... and Convention part 2

It’s Caturday... and part 2 of my Convention report.

Today’s Caturday pin-up is poor cross-eyed Lucky. There is another cat which apparently is a mirror-image of Lucky, called Charm, but I’m not sure I believe this as I have never seen him. In fact, I think I’ve only ever seen Lucky peeping out from behind the Wendy House but daughter spends more time there than me so managed to capture him on camera when he ventured into the living room. Yes, the shelter has a living room, with settees and a TV!

Now onto Convention, part 2...

Award Night is always inspirational, as you get to see demonstrators who have achieved amazing things. For instance, the top German seller had made over 77,000€ in sales! Imagine typing all those order numbers in to reach that height!

But the evening began with SU’s chief financial officer Scott Nielsen and his wife dancing, Strictly-style on stage, which was a big surprise and very entertaining.

Next year I and at least one of my team will be on that stage, if only for reaching our five-year anniversary with SU! So why not sign up and join us to watch us squirm!

There was a party atmosphere to the whole evening, as SU is celebrating five years in Europe this month. Hard to believe I’ve been a demonstrator for five years! What did I do with my time before SU?

So there was cake (although not big enough for all 850 of us!) and party gifts of a gold and silver pen and a bouncy globe ball to inspire us all to aim for the Grand Vacation in 2014, which will be a luxury cruise!

Following the ceremony, hands hurting from so much applauding, there was an After Party, with a live band and a buffet. This was described as finger food but actually it was much more than that. What was nice about this event was that the venue made it possible to be all things to all people. There was a small area for dancing in front of the band yet around the corner there were tables and chairs for those who wanted to take it easier. And of course, the display boards were still up so we could take even more photos of the samples.

That's us!

We did try to have our picture taken in our finery in front of the special chalkboard-style display, but they are very dark. Another tip for Convention: don’t take a brand new camera until you’ve worked out how to use it!

There was also a photo booth for demonstrator use which was a bit of a laugh. We ALL tried to cram in to get our picture taken but, sadly – and somewhat inevitably – we ended up with one blank screen and one of the back of my head! What we didn’t realise was that we were being filmed while we were in there – luckily we didn’t end up on the Convention highlights video like some folk did!

Convention slippers!

Fancy shoes were causing our feet to hurt so we switched to our Convention slippers and headed back to Alison R and Donna’s SUITE (did I mention they had a suite?) with our bottles of wine (no alcohol is served at Convention) and started working our way through all the nibbles we’d packed, so that we could make room in our suitcases for all our Memento Mall goodies and free stamp sets!

Back to bed to attempt to get some sleep before the second day of Convention. Ann set her alarm for 7am so we’d have time to get ready for doors opening at 8.30am.

Only she hadn’t set it so our morning began with a knock at the door (which I ignored because surely it couldn’t be our door, it was still the middle of the night), followed by another knock at the door which caused a panic scrambling for specs. Ann is deaf and had removed her hearing aid so was still out for the count. Next thing I know there’s a man entering the room! Eeek – another tip for Convention: put the bolt across your hotel door!  I’m afraid I shouted at him when he switched the “big light” on, partly because of the liberty, partly because I was scantily clad and partly because Ann was still in bed. Anyway it was only room service; our rooms hadn’t included breakfast but we found room service to be excellent value, delivering far more than requested and keeping us going throughout the day.

This is two Danish pastries at 2,70€ each, plus 2,50€ delivery!
Picture posted for Angela T's benefits as I know she expects
a food image on a Convention report!
Day 2 featured more demonstrations and business talk – and, of course, more prizes and giveaways. I forgot to mention the giveaways! We were promised all-attendee giveaways if attendance reached certain targets... which of course it did! So, in all, we were given THREE stamp sets on top of one ones for the Make & Takes. We received Papaya Collage, Summer Silhouettes and another one which I don’t think is released yet so I’d better not mention it!

I have to mention the brave demonstrator presenters here. There were three – one representing each country. Ooh, I wonder if that means there will be five next year, when Austria and Holland join us?

The UK’s Becki Ritson showed us some fabulous tips for using fabric – which were perfect for someone so useless with a needle as me. Cécile Ortiz, from France, showed us stunning techniques with flower stamps, creating dimension and depth. She doesn’t speak English; she a translator with her, but Cécile’s  facial expressions said it all anyway and had us in stitches.

Representing Germany was Cynthia Jacoby-Deventer, who was hilarious. She is an opera singer apparently and very at home on the stage, but got a little flustered demonstrating and even resorted to flinging pieces of cardstock around. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at a demonstration. Well, maybe at the last two Conventions!

At lunchtime we headed back to Memento Mall to discover that we’d probably left it a little late. But I did stock up on a few gifts for the people back home who help me in my SU business – and, lucky me, I managed to get to Chris from Demo Support’s till again! (I know he stalks all our blogs so I’d better be nice to him, LOL!)

Over lunch we managed to shift the last of the swaps. Another Convention tip: Don’t make too many swaps, or you’ll never get rid of them as other people will have run out.

Then it was a useful presentation on recruiting, which had the effect of inspiring some of my reluctant recruiters to take action. I’m looking forward to congratulating them on their promotions soon!

The final session saw more demonstrations and motivational speaking and, most importantly of all, sneak peeks of new products and Sale-A-Bration stamp sets! Whoohoo! It’s coming soon and you’re going to love it!

Patsy takes a break from falling over

Then it was all over, so we collapsed on the sofas in the hotel foyer before perking ourselves up with coffee and chocolate so that we could head into town for one last look. Found a lovely chocolate shop and lots of lovely Christmas decorations, grabbed a slice of pizza and returned to the hotel to wait for our taxi back to Frankfurt airport.

Excitement levels were building again in the back of the taxi – I’m sure this is why our driver, a pretty dour-looking chap, handed round sweets to shut us up!

At the airport we went our separate ways to do any last-minute shopping – there’s a fantastic little supermarket at Frankfurt airport so I could stock up on chocolate for the kids. Well, for me really.

In the departure lounge we realised that, once again, the plane would be filled with demonstrators. I somehow was seated away from the rest of my team but found another friendly demo to chat to on the way home – and we could see the Bonfire Night fireworks the window as we came into land at Birmingham.

Meanwhile, in the back of the plane, the rest of my team – and several other demonstrators – were enjoying free Champagne. I don’t need to spell out that this extra treat went to lucky Alison R and Donna... you know, they of the SUITE, the PRIZES and now the FREE Champagne! Not bitter, promise.

Taxi driver Steve picked us up at the airport but the adventures didn’t end there, as a lady stopped us to point out that Ann had her husband’s suitcase, which was identical in all but contents. So it was back to baggage collection for a quick swap!

And home we went, giggly and excitedly planning our trip to Manchester next year!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Convention report, part 1

It’s a long one!

Hard to believe that this time last week I was busy swapping with demonstrators from France, Germany and all over the UK! It’s a frenetic part of Convention but a great way to meet other demonstrators, practise your shaky French and German (often getting the wrong language because their name tag is hidden by their swaps box!) and get some fabulous ideas.

Jacqui's gorgeous "Convention Kit" containing tissues,
snacks and other essentials
But let’s start at the beginning with a hasty gift exchange outside my house (because really I couldn’t fit all those bags in my suitcase!) and an excited taxi ride from my house to Birmingham Airport, where we met up with Val, another demonstrator who didn’t want to travel alone.  As it turned out, nobody was alone for long on that plane, as it was packed with demonstrators!

Bit of a shout out here for Lufthansa. I’m hardly a seasoned traveller but I was assured that a free newspaper, sandwiches and drinks is not the norm.

Along the way we picked up another demonstrator, Rachel, who was in need of a taxi to the Hilton. We had a spare seat in ours so that was easily solved!

Donna's beautiful needle case with
 detachable flower brooch
We had a bit of drama at the hotel check-in desk, as they tried to offer us double rooms. Well, we’re friends but we’re not THAT friendly, so we insisted on the twin rooms that we’d actually booked.  Ann and I were very happy with our room... until we visited Alison R and Donna... in their SUITE! Fancy coffee machine, dressing room and free slippers! Sheesh.  Apparently Alison H and Jacqui C had a bigger room than ours, too – but we didn't bother visiting. We’d seen enough.

My beautiful Silver 2 pen set and journal
There wasn’t much time for envy or bitterness though as it was almost time for the evening activities. If you’re considering Convention next year (and why wouldn’t you?), I will warn you that there is very little down time. This is why we all come home exhausted and incapable of updating our blogs! This year, Thursday activities were introduced which, for me, meant a lovely reception, where I could meet up with other demonstrators who have reached the title of Silver 2 and above. Far more intimate than the main Convention events, it was chance for a quick chat with SU’s co-founder and CEO Shelli Gardner, who was happily cuddling a beautiful German baby (“babes in arms” are allowed at Convention. We had canapés, business talk and were all thanked for our hard work with the gift of a beautiful journal and Mark Twain pen set. Oh! And of course we were given our Convention bags and stamp sets, too!
The Convention bag!

You get a LOT of presents at Convention. On you check in, everyone receives the much talked-about Convention bag... and I have to say, opinion is usually divided on this subject! This year’s was a trendy chevron-patterned fabric shoulder bag in, I still maintain, Summer Starfruit. It is pretty cool but I’m not sure yet if I will get much use out of it. Last year’s was the bag that bucked the trend – EVERYBODY loved it as it was black and practical with lots of pockets. But the great thing about the bags is that they are so very different every year.

Inside your bag are your stamp sets – and we always get told in advance what they will be, so that we don’t need to order them in advance. This year we received Affection Collection from the Autumn/Winter catalogue and Daydream Medallions. There’s also your Make & Take pack, which uses your free stamp sets, a special Convention pen, your programme for the weekend, lanyard, name badge, Convention badge on this year’s theme of I Am... and any reward badges you have earned. None for me this year but next year I’ll get my 5-year award so it’s back onto that stage... eek!

Meanwhile, the rest of the team seemed to be causing havoc in the Make & Take room, which is where I found them after the Silver 2 reception. Not sure how much wine had been consumed before they went to the M&T room but one of them was already mixing up her words and managed to stamp one of her M&Ts upside-down! Later events, involving tripping into a lift and getting stuck in a revolving door means she will forever be known as Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous!

I can’t function on just canapés so we all headed into the hotel restaurant for a meal. We picked up another couple of demonstrators on the way, Joanne Friend and her downline Sharon, who joined in May to get a free Convention ticket.

Then it was off to bed to prepare for the next day’s activities, when Convention started properly!

Check-in queues were a lot smaller this year, as so many had checked in the night before. And Memento Mall was remarkably quiet, too. This is where we get to buy exclusive SU items, including tote bags, pens, magnets, card display trees, lipbalm... can’t remember what else. Oh yes, I bought some rather fab cookie press stamps featuring the SU logo and various stamping-related messages. Cool! Everything is limited to one of each item per person until everyone has had a chance to get around, which is very fair I think.

And the tills are operated by SU staff, so it was lovely to see Chris from Demo Support there. I think his queue was the longest!

The first General Session began at 11.30am, and it was opened with a bang as the huge screens showed the SU office lip dub video of this year's song, I Am...

You'll see in the video that SU staff run onto the Convention stage at the end - well that happened for us, too, only with a mixture of American and European staff! It was a great way to start Convention. 

Next on stage was Shelli Gardner – who was also greeted with rapturous applause and a standing ovation. As always, she was overcome by emotion at the sight of us all cheering for her, which is very touching, if a little bemusing to us stiff upper-lipped Brits! The sessions are nearly always a mixture of business talk and product demonstrations – sometimes with current products and sometimes with sneak peeks, which is exciting!

After lunch (a packed lunch is provided), we split into groups according to country and attended a great class by two UK demonstrators, Sally Jo Houghton and Elizabeth Shannon. Their theme was I Am Having Fun... and we ALL had fun in that class, which was a hoot!

The rest of the day was spent with more demonstrations, business talk and prizes! Yes, prizes, too! During the weekend, two of our group won Prize Patrol gifts – Donna and Alison R. Yes, the ones who were staying in a SUITE (not bitter!).

Then it was time to disperse and prepare for the Awards Night party. There was a bit of time so we headed into town to take a look at Mainz. We didn’t make it into the older part of town but found a nice coffee shop where I had a lovely apple and nut cake and the most gorgeous hot chocolate. Unlike many of my companions, I bit the bullet and asked for it in German – remarkably, I was understood.

I’m going to have to leave it there for a while as the day is slipping away from me and I have to pack for a Stampin’ Up!® party tonight. Don’t want to forget anything (again)!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A handbag?

Oops, getting behind again. But I bet you’d like to hear about Convention wouldn’t you? 

Sorry, that will have to wait until tomorrow as I’ve just realised how late it is and I have to go to work.

Meanwhile, here’s one little Convention project I forgot to show you. First an explanation: when members of my team promote to Bronze 2 they receive a keyring with a glass bead. They receive another bead for each promotion, so that they have the opportunity to fill their keyrings up gradually.

Some of my team, however, prefer to remain as hobby demonstrators so don’t go through the promotions. (That’s the great thing about Stampin’ Up!®  – you really can do it YOUR way.)  So everybody gets something for their keyring for every SU event they attend, too. Training events earn them a bead but Convention is special – last year I sourced some cool Eiffel Tower charms for our Paris excursion but that raised the stakes... what to find for Germany? After much Googling, I discovered that the eagle is the official bird of Germany so I finally found (ebay of course!) some golden eagle charms. Which I foolishly forgot to photograph and I don’t have time to take a pic of mine right now.

To hold them, I made these cute little handbags using the Apothecary Accents framelits dies. I scored twice near the centre, then snipped off one end – a bit of folding and there you have it. The handles are made with circle punches. They’re very simple as I was seriously running out of time!

Apologies if you’ve seen these before – have been through the blog but can’t find them... BUT I do remember typing all this out before!

Stamps: Fruit & Flowers
Cardstock: Pacific Point, Midnight Muse
Ink: Pacific Point
Accessories: Apothecary Accents framelits, 1 ¾” circle punch, 1 1/4” circl punch (probably – can’t remember!), glimmer brads

All products by Stampin’ Up!®

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Storytime swaps

I still have lots of Convention news for you but not until things have calmed down a little and I've recovered from all the excitement.

These were some simple card swaps I made at the last minute and, like all last-minute projects, they turned out to be my favourites. I’m sure it helps that I absolutely love this stamp set and my new Chevron Folder. They were pretty economical to make, too – which has to be a factor when making swap projects. Each scallop circle of DSP was cut in half and poked behind the embossed panel so that just a few scallops showed.

These images are really easy to colour – I used Watercolour Wonder™ crayons (my favourite colouring medium) and blender pens. Just a scribble here and there, then blend with the pens using a circular motion and they’re done.

I’ll post the colour combinations, then the general recipe...

Cat: Midnight Muse, Tangerine Tango, Tempting Turquoise
Dog: Soft Suede, Old Olive, Real Red
Duck: Night of Navy, Daffodil Delight, Old Olive

Stamps: Storybook Friends
Cardstock: Crumb Cake, Whisper White, then see above
Paper: Designer Series Paper Stack - Brights
Ink: Black StazOn
Accessories: 2½” circle punch,  2 3/8” Scallop Circle Punch, Corner Rounder, Itty Bitty Shapes Punches, Adorning Accents Edgelits dies, Chevron Embossing Folder,  Watercolor Wonder Crayons – Brights, Blender Pens, Basic Pearls

All products by Stampin' Up!®

Sunday, 4 November 2012

November offers for everyone!

I’m back from Convention and exhausted but buzzing. I have this year’s Convention song, “I Am” going through my head on continuous loop and can’t wait to get chance to look through my gorgeous swaps, sit down and try some of the fabulous techniques I saw demonstrated and use my FIVE new FREE stamp sets. Not to mention write in my new journal with the elegant new pens I received at the special reception for demonstrators who have promoted to Silver 2 and above.

I cannot explain how incredible it is to get together with sooooo many (850 this year) demonstrators from Great Britain, France and Germany and share the Convention experience. It’s great, too, to meet Stampin’ Up!® “celebrities”, including co-founder Shelli Gardner and the UK demonstrators’ favourite: Chris from Demo Support.  It’s also wonderful to get away with my team and have fun. You do learn some interesting things about people... but perhaps I’ve said too much, LOL!

I’ll have more to report when I have more time (and energy!) but now there are more important things to tell you. Being away on the 1st meant I missed all the start-of-month updates on the SU website and wow, what a month it is! This month we have offers for everyone!

... get a FREE Festive piercing pack (RRP £7.25) when they purchase either the Ornament Keepsakes Bundle along with the Candelight Christmas Designer Series Paper, OR the Ornament Keepsakes stamp set and the Candlelight Christmas DSP. That’s our Christmas gift to you!

... who hold a party reaching sales of £325 or higher can add a set of 10 ink pads worth £44.50 to their hostess benefits! Choose from Subtles, Regals or Brights and, of course, they will be the new firm foam style. How fab is that?

New demonstrators
... who join in November will have the opportunity to order FREE Designer Series Paper for six months! My October recruit tells me that this even applies to the DSP Stacks, which is an unexpected treat!

So, which offer do you want to take up? Join my team (click the link, go on, I dare you, LOL!) and you could take advantage of all three and get a discount and commission, too!

The small print

This is my personal blog and my sole responsibility as an Independent Stampin' Up!® demonstrator. All images are © Stampin' Up!® All content including photographs, projects and text are © Helen Read, unless otherwise stated. Please feel free to copy my ideas for your personal use and inspiration - if you are a SU demonstrator you may use these ideas for your events but please give credit where it is due. Please do not use my ideas for monetary gain, competitions or publication. The images on this blog - including blog buttons - should not be copied and used elsewhere on the internet or on CDs.