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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Whimsical Wednesday Challenge: Layer It!

Happy Wednesday, sweet friends! :o)

Today kicks off a sparkly stream of whimsical fun! This week's Whimsical Wednesday challenge is to use layers on a winter or Christmas-themed project. Aren't layers such fun? Whether only a couple or overflowing with them, they are always marvelous. For my project, I made an easel card to carry a message of peace in a backdrop of winter's simple beauty. :o)

Each part consists of three base layers: A sparkling Elegant Edges scallop, a Spellbinders Picot Edge Circle, and an embossed circle (to look like gently falling snowflakes). It had been far too long since I've played with ribbon, so I layered the top with a big flower made from burgundy velvet ribbon. I centered it with a Tim Holtz fanciful button. Partially for fanciness and partially for the snowball-look, I went nutty with my pearls! I added one to every scallop and made a little flourish for the flower. You can never go wrong with them, right? :o) 

The bottom holds a gorgeous swirl-embossed dove and olive branch, which is a Cuttlebug combo die that cuts and embosses that I won from my sweet friend Pam. The swirls are sparklified and I used an itty bitty pearl for the eye, which you can only see if you enlarge the photograph. I added a layer of tiny pearls to coordinate with the theme and to make the branch look snowy... heavenly peace can be reached in the midst of a storm, after all. :o) I cut out the Peace from Cindy Loo, which I think is my first time ever cutting out a word! I slightly rounded it and sponged it with the same ink as the picot circles, but with a lighter hand. (And let me just say that this ink was NOT the color I anticipated. I thought it was a super deep burgundy.. not an almost pinky burgundy. That made me feel matte, as opposed to sparkly.)

Here is the tutorial I followed for the flower... once I stopped staring at her gorgeous ribbon supply! :o)

I hope you'll play along with us by linking up your Christmas or winter layered project to the Whimsical Wednesday challenge post! I would love to see your creations. Our fabulous sponsor this week is our very own Nanne, who is generously donating a prize pack filled with gorgeous Webster Pages scrapping supplies. Thank you, Nanne! :o)

A few reminders:
 * The Add Texture challenge is still open, where one random winner of the challenge will win all four of Stephanie's stamps sets from her release! Amazing prize. :o) It closes at noon on Friday.
 * The Whimsical Designs Stamp Release Sneak Peek days are tomorrow and Friday at 7am. So much excitement!
 * The Stamp Release Blog Hop is FRIDAY at 7pm! Isn't this badge adorable?
I love these stamps, my friends. They are a pleasure to create with and I am ecstatic to share my projects with you beginning tomorrow. I am certain you will love Stephanie's stamps, too. :o)

Be sure to flutter on over to the rest of the Design Team's blogs to see their fabulous creations! Thank you for visiting me today! You make me happy. :o)

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Cindy Loo, Elegant Edges
 * Cuttlebug embossing folders: Dove duo, Swiss Dots
 * Spellbinders Nestabilities: Picot Edge Circles
 * Paper: Core'dinations, DCWV
 * Ribbon: Celebrate It (from Michael's)
 * Button: Tim Holtz Fanciful Buttons
 * Pearls: Recollections
 * Miscellaneous: Stickles


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Whimsical Designs Reminders!

Hello, my sweet friends! How I miss blogging... but I've been hidden away with my crafty supplies every moment possible, creating fun projects for the celebrations this week!

Excitement is fluttering around this Whimsical Designs Stamp Release week! Our Sneak Peeks are Thursday and Friday mornings, bright and early at 7am. Friday night at 7pm is our celebratory Blog Hop! My crafty friends, I am positively thrilled for these events! :o) Inspiration and prizes will abound... and a whole lot of love as we share in this incredible journey with Stephanie. :o) I hope to see you there!

Have a sparkly happy day, my friends! (And eat some chocolate!) I'll be back tomorrow with my weekly Whimsical Wednesday project! :o) Keep smiling!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Whimsical Wednesday Challenge: Add Texture! (And exciting news!)

Happy Wednesday, my sweet friends! :o)

I have incredible news to share with you! Stephanie's new stamps are coming out so soon that we are having a celebration NEXT WEEK! The Whimsical Designs sneak peeks will be on Thursday (December 1st) and Friday (December 2nd) at 7:00am EST. The stamp reveal Blog Hop will be on Friday, December 2nd at 7:00pm EST. One random winner who enters this week's challenge will win all four stamp sets in Stephanie's very first release! How exciting! Want to see a sneak peek photo? I thought you might...
This week's challenge will not be two weeks long, but rather will be remain open until Friday, December 2nd at 12:00pm EST. The random winner of all four stamp sets will be announced during the stamp release blog hop that night. My sweet friends, I have seen all of these sets. You know how much I already love them, as I've been bursting at the seams to use them. I have even held off on two special cards I've been longing to make because two of her stamps will be perfect. Once I saw them, I knew I had to wait. I truly love these, as her beautiful heart shines through them. I know you will love them, too! I am honored to be a part of this journey with her. :o)

And now onto the challenge! This week's Whimsical Wednesday challenge is Add Texture! Create any card or project, in any theme, with texture incorporated into it. Like so many, I love this quality in handmade cards. There are so many ways to add texture, from a small accent to a primary focal point.

I decided to embrace the textural element in all its glory. In a recent newsletter from the scrappy store I visit, there was a basic white card with one element: a simple rosette Christmas tree. I fell in love and knew I would quickly be doing my own take on it. With my mom in mind, I designed with a Victorian theme and fancied things up to suit her taste. My textural elements: oodles of half-rosettes, flowy ribbon, a dollop of pearls, and a little embossing.
This wall hanging will soon be given to my mom, who loves greens, Victorian, and vintage. She loves to add festive decor, but doesn't always have a ton of space... or smaller scale items that she can nestle in those tinier areas of wall space that yearn for something. I chose pretty vintage-y green papers for the rosettes, using my Martha Stewart Doily Lace punch once again to make them fancy, and inked them in brown so the layers would stand out a bit. She absolutely adores long ribbon, so I topped the tree with a big bow and then added some extra to cascade down the sides. And if she could, she would totally top her tree with pearls to complete the shape. So I did that for her here. :o) I love the look of a rosette tree and will surely make another one this season. I may cinch in the tops of each layer to give it more of a shape between layers like the newsletter did... we'll see! I like both looks. As far as adhering these to the paper, Zip Dry Paper Glue was my best friend. I expected to be attacked by the pretty rosettes once I let go, but they stayed put! Miraculous product.

I used cream and vintage purple for the green tree's background because it is such a lovely combination, though I don't think I've ever used it. The Recollections "The Ballet" stack I received as a gift provided all of the patterned papers, including the sparkly snowflake divider. Even if it didn't contain ballet images, this would be my new favorite. I think I need a second stack already. ;)

I certainly couldn't give my mom a Christmas tree with no present... so I selected one of my favorite digi stamps from Cindy's Scraptastic Designs! The cute little puppy bursting out of the present is appropriately titled Sweet Gift. Isn't he adorable? I colored him with Copics and sparklified his Santa hat, the box ribbon, and ornaments with four shades of Stickles. (Ha! I'm not addicted... really.) I wrapped gold ribbon around the corners to make the wall hanging look like a present in and of itself, too. :o) At first I wasn't sure about using brighter colors for my stamp (given the rest of the design), but then I realized it's a great way to represent how animals brighten our days. :o) He's a pop of Christmas cheer!

I would love for you to play along with us this week by linking up your textural cards/projects at the home of the Whimsical Wednesday Challenge: Whimsical Designs. (You'll also find information on this week's prize on the challenge post!) I am excited to see your creations. And guess what? We are nearing Stephanie's stamp release... one week closer! I am eager to create with her wonderful stamps and am sure you will love them, too. :o)

Be sure to skip on over to the rest of the Design Team's blogs to see their wonderful projects! Thank you so much for visiting me today... you make my heart ultra sparkly. Have a whimsically beautiful day! :o)

Challenges entered:
 * Winter Wonderland~ Awwww, what a cutie! (Hehe! LOVE this theme!)
 * Lollipop Crafts~ Anything Goes!

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridge: Elegant Edges
 * Cuttlebug embossing folder: Swiss Dots
 * Paper: Bo Bunny (green mat), Papertrey Ink, Recollections
 * Stamp: Sweet Gift from Cindy's Scraptastic Designs
 * Copics: E31, E33, E57 (puppy); R22, R24, R27 (bow); YG11, YG13, YG17 (box); G28 (pine needles); Y11 (ornaments)
 * Punch: Martha Stewart Doily Lace
 * Pearls: Recollections
 * Ribbon: stash
 * Stickles: Christmas Red, Diamond, Gold, Stardust


Monday, November 21, 2011

Scraptastic Monday Challenge: Folds!

Happy Monday, my sweet friends! :o)

Today is another fabulous Scraptastic Monday at Cindy's Scraptastic Designs! The requirements this week are to create any fold card you like, but not a shape card or an A2 single fold... and it also must include ribbon and a cut from a die, Cricut, or a punch. Remember, while we'd love for you to use a wonderful image from Cindy, it is NOT a requirement. You don't even need to use any digital stamp at all, if you so choose. Simply follow the theme in whatever manner you desire! I hope you'll play along. :o)

At first I was a wee bit of a scaredy cat because I decided to challenge myself with something new! :o) Using Cindy's precious Sweet Snowman Love digi stamp, I created my first Swinging Z-Fold card:

Partially open:
Fully open, with the middle panel viewable where I'll be writing my message:
Lastly, a closer picture of Cindy's adorable stamp that I colored with Copics:
Despite being more of an adventure than I planned, this card was such a joy to make. The swinging element is way more fun than it probably should be... I may need to give this card early just so I stop playing with it. ;) It's a lovely fancy fold technique that I think will be enjoyed by the recipient. :o) Here is the link to the tutorial I (basically) followed: Swinging Z-Fold Card.

Not only did Cindy's sweet image inspire a Christmas winter wonderland, but I also was able to use more birthday goodies! For the snowy sweethearts, I cut out their wintry neighborhood backdrop with my new Spellbinders Picot Edge Circles. The design works so well with a snowflake theme. I strategically selected which part of the Basic Grey paper to cut out... see the tree behind their sweet hands? If you look carefully at the base of the trunk, you'll discover the lovey dovey couple carved a heart to signify their love (using a Martha Stewart pen... they're resourceful). The tree is wrapped in Christmas lights (I adore this paper), just like their love that shines brightly as it stems forth from their heartfelt foundation. I sparklified lots of this scene, from the snowy pile surrounding them (how long have they been standing there holding hands?!) to dollops of sparkle in the sky, her hat and ruffly trims, scarf fringe, and oodles of other little extras. Her coat is colored with new Copics my boyfriend gave me for my birthday... a few gorgeous rose pinks! Love. Not detected well in the picture are the blue and purple rhinestone buttons on the snow peeps. :o)

When opened, more seasonal delight awaits. The deep green Noel ornament stamp is heat embossed with Alexandrite embossing powder. (I am so grateful for my heat embosser! Amazing gift.) I used two of the nested Picot Edge Circles for the ornament's base, the larger one trimmed in clear rhinestones and the smaller one trimmed in Christmas green sponged ink. I used my new jumbo sponge dauber and I love it! Such a small detail, but one I've longed to be able to do. Try as I may with the ink pads themselves, I was never able to make it look nice. Now with my trusty dauber, I had to resist from sponging my entire house! ;)

The center panel is sponged in Christmas red, with pretty corners from a Fiskars punch and a tiny snowflake embellishment. A smattering of sparkles can be found throughout all three sections, because this IS a sparkling season! Clear rhinestones center the Cricut snowflakes and accent the corners, then I added red and green sparkles to some of the flakes on the SEI paper. To finish it off, I used my sheer glitter ribbon for a puffy bow. :o)

I hope you'll play along with us this week by linking up your fold cards to the challenge home of Scraptastic Mondays: Cindy's Scraptastic Designs. I am excited to see your creations! :o) Hop on over to the challenge post to see the rest of the Design Team's projects and visit their fantastic blogs. This is truly an incredible group. :o)

Thank you for visiting me today! I hope your Thanksgiving week is off to a delicious and crafty start. (And for those outside of the US... eat extra dessert this week, just because.) :o)

Challenges entered (I am so thankful to be participating in them again!):
 * CES~ Snowflakes
 * Crafty Catz~ Snowflakes
 * Frosted Designs~ Die Cuts!
 * Just Some Lines~ Tic Tac Toe (How fun is this? I used embossing/ribbon/die cut)
 * Little Scrap Pieces~ Holiday
 * Paper Sundaes~ Beautiful Bows

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridge: Gypsy Wanderings
 * Spellbinders Nestabilities: Picot Edge Circles
 * Paper: Basic Grey, Core'dinations, Papertrey Ink, SEI
 * Digital stamp: Sweet Snowman Love, by Cindy's Scraptastic Designs
 * Copics: R81, R83, R85 (snowwoman's coat, hat accent); V12, V15, V17 (snowwoman's scarf, hat, mittens); B00, B02, B04, Y11, Y13, Y15 (snowman's scarf); Y11, Y13, Y17, R24, C3, C5 (snowman's hat); R20, R22, R24 (candy cane); YR01, YR12 (noses)
 * Noel ornament stamp: Inkadinkado
 * Ribbon: Casa Collection Special Occasion (JoAnn's)
 * Miscellaneous: Fiskars corner punch, iRock (clear rhinestones), Recollections green and red rhinestones, Stampendous Alexandrite embossing powder, Stickles, Studio G green and red ink


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Monochromatic Winter and Sweet Saturday!

Happy Saturday, my sweet friends! :o) I hope you had a wonderful week!

It is tradition for my family to have our Christmas lights officially turn on after dinner on Thanksgiving, which means instead of crafting I've been stringing lights. How Thanksgiving is mere days away is baffling! While I don't have a paper craft to share with my treat today, I do have another facet of creativity. With winter fast approaching, I am excited to test my photography 'skills.' (I use that term loosely.) During my first (and only) winter picture session, I had all sorts of troubles while learning my DSLR... snowy photographs are challenging. Throughout my initial adventure, I discovered that I LOVE monochromatic winter pictures. The mood is simply gorgeous. So I'm sharing a few of my favorites leading up to the first snowfall of the year, which probably isn't all that far away. Pretty soon I'll be able to gauge how much I've learned since, which should be interesting. Hopefully I won't cry in disappointment. (Kidding!) Most likely to see any fluffy snow detail, you'll need to click and enlarge these.

Probably my absolute favorite... I love how the fluffy snow is so delicately covering the Christmas lights.
Looking up into a snowy pine tree, with one tiny pinecone still nestled within the needles.
A snowy path to a neighbor's house.
And now it's time for Sweet Saturday! :o) With the cooler weather, it's nice to curl up with a seasonal treat. Or as was the case yesterday, come in from a blustery day and take a dessert break from climbing ladders and pleading with lights to stay lit during the testing phase. Before dashing outside to begin, I made this tasty Autumn dish. A repertoire staple, executed in a new (to me) way... and it uses apple cider, which I adore. Skillet Apple Crisp!
This was completely gone within hours... and for good reason. The apples are tender without being mushy, the sauce is super thick and delicious, and the streusel topping provides a perfect crunch. I, and my loved ones, couldn't have been happier with this. Perfectly Autumn. Making it in a cast iron skillet made me feel fancy for some reason, even when it felt like my wrist might snap from the weight. (A cast iron skillet is not necessary for this recipe.) I love this and will certainly be making it again soon! If you give it a whirl, I hope you love it, too. :o)
Thank you for frolicking to my happy little blog today. I wish you all a beautiful weekend! :o)

Recipe Notes:
 * If your skillet is not oven-safe, prepare the recipe through step 4 and then transfer the filling to a 9x13-inch baking dish. Top the filling as directed and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

 * If you can't find Golden Delicious apples, any sweet, crisp apple such as Honeycrisp or Braeburn can be used. Do not use Granny Smith apples in this recipe.

 * Old-fashioned rolled oats are preferred, but you can substitute quick-cooking notes if that is all you have available.

Skillet Apple Crisp
Yield: 6-8 servings

For the topping:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup pecans, chopped fine (optional)
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
3 pounds Golden Delicious apples (approximately 7 medium), peeled, cored, halved, and cut into ½-inch-thick wedges
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 450º F.

Make the topping: Combine the flour, pecans, oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the butter until the mixture is thoroughly moistened and crumbly. Set aside while preparing the filling.

Make the filling: Toss the apples, granulated sugar, and cinnamon together in a large bowl; set aside. Bring the apple cider to a simmer in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Cook until reduced to ½ cup, about 5 minutes. Transfer the reduced apple cider to a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Stir in the lemon juice and set aside.

Heat the butter in the now-empty skillet over medium heat. When the foaming subsides, add the apple mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples begin to soften and become translucent, 12-14 minutes. (Do not fully cook the apples.) Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir in the apple cider mixture until the apples are coated.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit, breaking up any large chunks. Place the skillet on a baking sheet and bake until the fruit is tender and the topping is a deep golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack until warm, at least 15 minutes, and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Source: Brown Eyed Baker


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Feel the Love Christmas Card

Happy Wednesday, sweet friends! I hope your week is going fabulously. :o)

As many of you know, the I Feel the Love Project held by the marvelous Madison of Funky Cards has become important to me. Each month she selects a particular person, family, or organization in need of some extra love and blessings. In turn, we all make cards to spread a little sunshine to the highlighted recipient. What an incredible opportunity to serve others by the simple means of our heart and our hobby. This month (and into early December), Madison is collecting Christmas cards for the children at Pediatric Oncology Unit at Kaiser Hospital (and their families). With these sweet children spending Christmas in the hospital battling disease, the least we can do is surround them with heartfelt homemade cards. Not only so, but this collection is extra special because it is a tribute to a very special girl, Korrine Croghan, who served as an inspiration and a true hero to many. She still is today, three years after her passing at 14 years old. Her parents will be personally delivering our cards to the children.

This card began with the sentiment. Recently my boyfriend and I were talking and he told me that he loved me dearly. My Christmas-loving heart instantly countered with a 'dearly' pun...

"I love you reindeerly."
Ha! We were both so amused. I totally one-upped him with my reindeer love. I don't know where that came from in my heart, but it tickled me pink and I knew I would be creating a Christmas card surrounding it. What I didn't know at the time was that it would be for such a beautiful purpose. I filled this card with as much love and festive cheer as possible. I wanted it to be textural for little person fingers to explore. The pop-dotted Create a Critter reindeer and die-cut Santa are riding along a flurry of embossed snowflakes. I used gorgeous Peppermint Stick Trendy Twine for extra fun and added two coats of Glossy Accents to the Christmas lights for a shiny dimensional finish.

You might notice a good amount of sparkle here... I had to sparklify as much as possible, particularly for this occasion. All of the lights are covered in various shades of Stickles beneath the Glossy Accents. I have no sleigh since I have no Christmas Cricut cartridges (which is so very sad), so I printed and cut out a clip-art one and covered it in Christmas Red and Silver Stickles. The snowflake-embossed center, light strand, and sentiment are Core Couture paper for the pretty silvery flecks. (I wanted my light strand snow-covered instead of a stark green or black.) And of course sweet little Rudolph has a sparkly nose and scarf... and his eyes are twinkling with love, thanks to Stardust. The four hearts are covered with my Copic Spica clear glitter pen for a sparkle that's less in-your-face.

Ready for the sappiness? You knew it was coming, especially since this is for I Feel the Love. The strand of snowy Christmas lights is anchored by three shimmery hearts because despite the fierce circumstances, they are secure in love. Just like those sweet kids who will be receiving our cards. Let's engulf them as a reminder. That's why Santa is holding a heart instead of a present in his right hand. He is delivering an abundance of love via this teeny tiny card. As previously mentioned, Santa and Rudolph are pop-dotted... it makes me feel 3 millimeters closer to the child. And there is a reason I have Christmas lights randomly hanging in the sky. I had to include them not only because everyone loves Christmas lights, but also due to my sentiment. Being told you're loved makes a heart sparkle brighter the tallest, chubbiest Christmas tree. I don't technically know the one who will receive this card... but I love them. I love them dearly. I love them reindeerly.

Challenge entered:
 * My Creative Time Throwback Thursday~ Kid Friendly cartridge for any KID friendly card or project! :o)

Thank you for twirling on by! You make me sparkly. Have a beautiful day, my friends. :o)

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridge: Create a Critter
 * Cuttlebug embossing folder: Snowflakes from Winter Wonderland pack
 * Paper: Basic Grey, Core'dinations, DCWV
 * Sentiment: Computer generated from my sparkly heart
 * Twine: Peppermint Stick Trendy Twine
 * Santa die-cut: stash
 * Miscellaneous: Copic Spica glitter pen, Glossy Accents, Stickles


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Merry Christmas Card!

Happy Saturday, my dear friends! I hope you're having a beautiful weekend. :o)

Wanna know a secret? My birthday was on Thursday. It was a lovely day, bursting with blessings of all types. :o) My boyfriend took the day off so he could be with me, which was the best part! He showed up in the morning with huge balloons and a Starbucks in hand. :o) Guess what else? He spoiled me silly with crafty goodness. To show my appreciation and excitement, I made a simple, elegant Christmas card using some of my new treasures before he had to leave. (I really wish we lived in the same city.) One thing he bought me is something I've wanted for quite some time... a heat embosser! I wasted no time in putting this tool to use. (I am in love with the magic.)

"Merry Christmas"
Everything except the ribbon are birthday presents! The embossed images are from two Christmas stamp sets. When looking through my new stash, I knew I was going to make an embossed golden angel with a sparkly music note background. (It doesn't much show, but there is a lot of beautiful sparkle all along the paper.) She is singing praises unto the Lord. :o) The paper I stamped on is from the same stack, with the same light Victorian scroll background design as the musical paper. I matted both with gold cardstock, added a few of my new pearls (first time ever! Woo!), and incorporated a splash of Christmas red with the ribbon. (Speaking of which... as it appears, I did in fact get in a battle with my bow. I need to work on that.)

While I do love the simple beauty of a golden Christmas, what made me most happy is that my boyfriend loves it. :o) And I hope you do, too! The lack of a Sweet Saturday is a bummer, but I needed to rest my back the last few days. No baking allowed. I just may need to post two recipes next week to make up for it! :o)

Thank you for visiting me today, friends! I wish you all a sparkly Saturday. :o)

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridge: Elegant Edges
 * Paper: Recollections
 * Stamps: Inkadinkado Christmas (angel), Recollections Christmas (sentiment and additional snowflake)
 * Embossing powder: Stampendous Pearlustre Champagne
 * Pearls: Recollections
 * Ribbon: stash


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Whimsical Wednesday Challenge: Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Whimsical Wednesday, my crafty friends! :o)

The Whimsical Wednesday challenge this week is Happy Turkey Day! Create any type of project that has a Thanksgiving theme. The holiday season is upon us. :o)

I chose to make a card for a loved one. Let me tell you, the journey of this project was nutty. When I sat down Monday to make it, I had a plan drawn up for a silly scene surrounding a pie-eating Create a Critter turkey. One tiny change led to another and I could only laugh at this final product. The exact opposite of my original plan! Fun turkey will be soon... this week I felt the urge to use a stamp that my sweetheart bought me a couple months ago. :o)

"Thanksgiving Blessings From My Heart To Yours"
(Using a paper backdrop that's the exact same as my card background was less than brilliant. My apologies.) As you all know by now, the baking I do for others is all about the love factor. Baking up a plate of cookies to share during the Thanksgiving prep is a special blessing for us, very much in tune with the sentimental aspect to all holidays. So my card is to celebrate those tiny blessings. Big or small, every gift, gesture, or hug comes straight from my overly sappy heart.

It's unfortunate I was photography-challenged when snapping this picture. It's quite cute in person, with little tiny details that don't really show up in this small, unclear image. This sweet baking Willow from Elisabeth Bell has a Stardust-coated bow, belt, and heart accents on her pants.. because she's sparkling with holiday cheer. The best way to bake is wearing fuzzy slippers, so I snipped up some tiny pom poms and adhered them to her orange slippers with Glossy Accents. I'd love this stamp to pieces anyway, but I especially love it because the moment my boyfriend saw it, He said, "They made that for you!" Cue more sap.

I made a pretty rosette for her to rest upon, using my favorite Martha Stewart Doily Lace punch to give it an elegant edge. I centered it with a harvest-yellow flower. The pinecone background has a bit of sparkle to it, reminiscent of a wintry frosty pinecone trail. I love shape cards of all kinds, so I used one of my favorite circles from Elegant Edges. Plus, it makes me think of a pie with a pretty edge... which is perfect for the holidays. :o) I used harvesty Copics for Willow's apron and clothing to keep in tune with Thanksgiving. Have you ever used a wrong color unknowingly, and sat there frustrated wondering why in the world nothing was blending as it should? Yep, me too. I grabbed the wrong brown and discovered it after the image was completed. There was no time for a re-do. And if you're wondering why my sentiment and cute twine bow aren't on top instead of the bottom... I am, too. I sought solace in a gingerbread cookie.

I hope you'll play along with us this week by linking up your Thanksgiving projects at the Whimsical Wednesday weekly challenge post. I am anxious to see your festive creations! You can read up on this week's prize at the challenge home, too. :o) We are one week closer to Stephanie's stamp release! I'm more excited than I could possibly express. (And you will be, too!) :o)

Be sure to frolic on over to the rest of the Design Team's projects to see their marvelous projects! Thank you for visiting me. I appreciate you all very much and wish you a beautiful day! :o)

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridge: Elegant Edges
 * Spellbinders Nestabilities: Labels Four
 * Paper: Bo Bunny, DCWV, Papertrey Ink, SEI
 * Stamp: Willow with Cookies, by Elisabeth Bell
 * Coloring medium: Copics
 * Sentiment: Computer generated
 * Punch: Martha Stewart Doily Lace
 * Twine: Trendy Twine
 * Miscellaneous: Stickles


Monday, November 7, 2011

Scraptastic Monday Challenge: Thanksgiving Gift Box or Bag! (And Blog Candy Winner!)

Happy Monday, my sweet friends! I hope your weekend was crafty and beautiful. :o)

Today's post is packed with fun! Not only is it the very first challenge for Cindy's Scraptastic Designs, but after my project you'll find my blog candy winner from the blog hop AND a delicious treat! Whew! :o)

Challenge #1 is to decorate a Thanksgiving-themed gift bag or box, which must include a tag, stitching, and a button. It is NOT a requirement to use one of Cindy's images or any digital stamp to play along with us. Simply follow the theme by any means you desire. The more who join us, the merrier! :o)

For my project, I leapt at the chance to use the Sweet Tooth Boxes cartridge again! One of my favorite gifts to give for the holidays is baked goods. There's something innately special about that, don't you think? So I made a treat box for my sweet boyfriend. :o)

A couple close-ups before I show you the rest of the box! First, Cindy's digi stamp, Thanksgiving Friend:
Another new personal favorite of mine from Cindy's designs, Horn of Plenty:
There's a teeny tiny story going on here (I'll tell you in a sec), which made this extra fun. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this was the perfect chance to remind my sweetheart that I'm thankful for him. So I typed up a sentiment that was fitting for us and this particular project. 
He will feel honored being mentioned in the same breath as cookies! ;) I used beautiful quilted paper for all of the mats on this box for some added texture. The brown base is from Cloud 9, which I used for this because the design makes me think of chocolate or gingerbread snowflakes. (There really should be such a thing.) The box top is an ivory fall leaves design, reminiscent of a gently frosted landscape. :o) Just like Thanksgiving! The Chocolate Truffle Trendy Twine is one of my all-time favorites... in fact, I'll re-order it before I get dangerously close to running out. I love the two shades of brown with the white! :o) The Dark Chocolate swiss dots ribbon is my favorite from Papertrey Ink. (Funny how both favorites have 'chocolate' in their actual product name! A treat for the eyes.)

And now, the story. See this fabulous image of Cindy's? It's the gingerbread girl from the tag set Sweet Gingerbread Tags. I cut her out and nestled her within a snowflake tag. It's trimmed in Stardust, but the flash washed it out (the clouds came!):
This sweet gingerbread girl has broken INTO the treat box. She tried to cover her tracks by faux stitching around the snowflake window and scallop trim. I wrote "Cookie" on the tag surrounding her, which I love because her little arms make it look like she's pointing into the box where the treats reside. (What she left of them, anyway.) :o) Maybe the Liquid Pearls I used for the icing on her cute little body made her feel all powerful. I can't really blame her, though... a girl needs her cookies. ;)

*** Before I share a special treat, I want to announce the winner of my blog candy! ***
Thank you VERY much for participating this weekend and helping us celebrate the grand opening of Cindy's store! It was such fun! The winner of the My Craft Spot gift certificate is #11: KELL! Congratulations!!! Thank you for hopping along with us! Contact me through the email address listed on the Contact Me page and we'll set up your prize! Woohoo! :o) You have two weeks to claim your prize! (Monday, November 21st.)

A couple of weeks ago when I saw the challenge for today, I already knew I wouldn't be posting my Sweet Saturday feature the weekend prior due to blog hops. I asked Cindy if I could include the corresponding recipe for this project since it's a part of it. She is so sweet that she loved the idea! (How amazing is she?! Thank you, Cindy!) Therefore, here's a peek at the delicious treat I made to go in the box, along with the recipe. :o)
Gingerbread snowflakes! They DO exist! I love gingerbread treats and this is my very favorite recipe for gingerbread cookies. It was a favorite of my boyfriend's last year, so I was eager to make it again when November rolled around. No huge commentary on it because the focus today is Cindy's Design Team, but just know that these are delicious! Soft, chewy, thick, and bursting with seasonal spice. (Note: I will be attempting actual cookie decorating later this month! Royal icing, even. We'll see how it goes! Until then I will continue to make willy nilly designs and top it with Cake Sparkles.)

I hope you'll join us this week by linking up your Thanksgiving gift boxes or bags at the home of Scraptastic Mondays: Cindy's Scraptastic Designs. I would love to see your take on the challenge! :o) Be sure to dance on over to the rest of the Design Team's blogs to see their incredible projects. This is a wonderful team and I am honored to be a part of it. :o)

Thank you for visiting me today! Blessings and cookies for everyone! :o) (P.S. I'm still using my Sweet Saturday label, despite it being Monday. Shhh, don't tell.)

Gingerbread Cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
1 large egg

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the molasses and egg until combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Cover the bowl and chill the dough for at least one hour in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place the cookie shapes onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely. Decorate as desired.

Source: Annie's Eats

Key Recipe Components (for treat box):
 * Cricut cartridge: Gypsy Wanderings (for snowflake window), Sweet Tooth Boxes
 * Spellbinders Nestabilities: Labels Four
 * Paper: Cloud 9, Papertrey Ink, stash
 * Stamps: Horn of Plenty, Sweet Gingerbread Tags, Thanksgiving Friend (all from Cindy's Scraptastic Designs
 * Coloring medium: Copics
 * Ribbon: Papertrey Ink
 * Twine: Trendy Twine
 * Button: My Mind's Eye Tres Jolie
 * Miscellaneous: iRock, Stickles


Saturday, November 5, 2011

PCW Thankful Hearts Blog Hop!

*** If you're looking for the Scraptastic Designs Blog Hop, please click HERE or scroll to the post below this one! ***

Welcome to Paper Crafting World's Thankful Hearts Blog Hop! If you arrived here from Mindy's blog, you are on the right track! If you just stopped by to visit, hop on over to Cooking With Cricut to start at the beginning! You won't want to miss a single one of my sweet Design Team sisters' projects! :o)

Our Thankful Hearts Blog Hop is centered around this beautiful harvest time, with an overture of Thankfulness: an attitude of gratitude. What came to my mind upon reflection of this theme is our incredible military and their families. Their sacrifices, consequences unknown, is something to remain mindful of... as painful as it can be. They battle overseas, then often return home to raging wars in the battlefield of their mind. I am so thankful for their presence, their commitment, their love for a greater purpose. With that in mind, I created an Any Hero card for a military member, delivered by the fantastic organization Operation Write Home.
Despite the announced homecoming of some of our soldiers from deployment, there are still soldiers stationed in so many areas around the world. Fighting and battling, every single day. One thing Operation Write Home does is include Any Hero cards in their shipments, which are given to a soldier who receives little or no mail from back home. Can you imagine his or her weary eyes lighting up upon receiving even the simplest card from someone who genuinely cares? That unknown face was my inspiration for this project. I wanted to deliver a reminder to let their light shine all over the world, in the midst of their war zone. One tiny spark of light defeats the darkness. I want them to know that during this time of Thanksgiving (and beyond), they are in my heart and prayers.

The multiple nested layers of Spellbinders? Those are the layers of love I packed into this simple card. All that love has made the candlelight form a golden, harvesty heart. I used Liquid Pearls for wax and carved out the patriotic eagle from a sheet of patterned paper. After saying a prayer for the unknown recipient, I thought again about how truly thankful I am for our military. I wish I could somehow pack a real hug into the envelope. Wouldn't that be fabulous?

Perfectly in theme with this event, there is a freebie at every blog along the hop, courtesy of the ever-generous Melin! How lovely is that? Seven fantastic presents for visiting us this weekend! Ready to see the free file for visiting me on this hop? :o)

Isn't he precious?! I love this sweetheart bear and am eager to color and create with him. :o) The button code is valid until the end of the weekend, so if you're visiting after Sunday night you'll want to use this direct link for access: Bear in Sweater Digital Stamp.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the shopping cart is temporarily down due to unexpected maintenance. We are so sorry for the inconvenience! Please come back tomorrow to grab all of the wonderful freebies. :o)

Your next stop is the fantastic Christel, who has a masterpiece waiting for you! Thank you for playing along with us today! Have a blessed and beautiful rest of the weekend. :o)


Friday, November 4, 2011

Scraptastic Designs Blog Hop!

Welcome to the Scraptastic Designs Blog Hop! I am truly honored to take part in this event as we celebrate the store opening of Cindy's Scraptastic Designs! Not only is she a sweetheart, but she is so incredibly talented. :o)

If you just stopped by to say hi, please head on over to Cindy's blog to start at the beginning of the hop! You don't want to miss a stop as we showcase some of her adorable digi stamps. If you arrived here from Gigi (The Cricut Bug), you are on the right track! :o)

For my project, I wanted to showcase a few different stamps. I've been in the Christmas spirit (as always), so I made a festive creation. It begins with a little house, decorated for the big day. :o)
I used shimmery snowflake paper for the base to make it feel as though it's snowing. Embossed sparkly white cardstock for the roof further creates the sense of a snowy Christmas. The window is decorated in Christmas lights via small rhinestones, with the festive glow of an interior Christmas tree sparkling through this house of love. This surely helped guide Santa and his reindeer. I wonder what possibly could be inside the house after Santa's visit...

An ultra decked-out tree sits outside the house as well, brightly sparkling in Christmas cheer. The door is embossed with a plaid folder to somewhat mimic a carved wood design, while the frame is embossed with tiny dots for added texture. This entire base is the store from the Sweet Tooth Boxes cartridge, slightly altered to become a house. I cut off the bottom because Santa didn't leave cupcakes or treats as the Cricut cut is intended. Let's take a peek inside, shall we? Instead of sweets, Santa's gift is...

... a festive display for Christmas and winter memories!
My house is actually an explosion box! How fun was this?! I used the basic explosion box tutorial from Amy at Love To Crop, adjusting the dimensions to make it a few inches larger in total. Helping to showcase holiday pictures, journaling, or memorabilia (Nutcracker ticket stub, for example) are Cindy's sweet digi stamps! I colored them with my Copics and bedazzled them in their festive best. Now, a few close-ups to properly show Cindy's beautiful images (one of which is hidden from the main picture):

Sweet Gingerbread Tags:
How cute are these tags?! I used Liquid Pearls to make it look like actual icing on their adorable little bodies. The holly, berries, and cheeks of the sweet girl are sparkly and I tied the two tags together with gorgeous Trendy Twine.

The light green photo mats are embossed with an ornament folder, which I've been so anxious to use! I have a feeling my mom (the future recipient) will leave a few mats empty for a while just to enjoy the pretty papers and embossing. The center is simply decorated with a snowflake embossed mat and a flower made from a coffee filter and Candy Apple Red Glimmer Mist. (I'm still in love with those!)

Sweet Angels Set:
I love the gorgeous shape of these! The boy is nestled on the middle layer, only seen when the mats are flipped to look at the interior treasures. To create a sparkly sky background, I colored it with blue Copics and then coated it in Stardust Stickles. I cut out pieces of sparkling white cardstock and embossed it to add some texture to the lovely ornament design. To coordinate with the silvery photo mats, I used silver Stickles for accents and hung the ornament on heavyweight silver thread. (I forgot the actual word.)

The girl angel is colored the same, though the non-Copic parts are changed to match her home. I cut out some pretty filigree paper to make the design match the Christmas paper mat. On this one, I used gold accents and gold thread... and then went crazy (again) with my iRock and added a smattering of crystal and light green rhinestones to the mat for an explosion of Christmas sparkle.

Lastly, the Gingerbread Cutie!
She's in her Christmas best! Sparkly shoes, a rhinestone belt, and Trendy Twine hair bows make her live up to her name. I try not to play favorites... but I am SO in love with this stamp! This demonstrates the beauty in Cindy's images because the stamps are so enjoyable to color and sparklify. For this square I used white ric-rac ribbon because it reminded me of icing zig zags on many gingerbread peeps.

I had so much fun making this explosion box, so a big thank you to Cindy for providing such wonderful inspiration. I'll be giving this to my mom on Thanksgiving so she can enjoy it early and fill it up as the holiday season progresses. :o)

Cindy is generously offering a grand prize to one random winner! If you stop at every blog participating in this hop and leave a comment for each designer, you will be eligible to win three digital stamps and a set of 12 Prisma Colored Pencils. :o)

I'm joining in the fun and offering some blog candy! One random winner will receive a gift certificate to My Craft Spot, one of my favorite crafty stores. :o) To be eligible, simply leave me a comment on this post. :o) I will select and announce the winner on Monday!

The first Scraptastic Monday challenge is on Monday, November 7th, at 10:00am EST. If you've never tried digis, no worries! Using one is NOT a requirement to play along with us each week! :o)

Your next stop is the marvelous Star (Star's Paper Passion)! Thank you for playing along with us as we celebrate the opening of Cindy's Scraptastic Designs! Have a blessed and sparkly weekend, my sweet friends!

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Elegant Edges, Sweet Tooth Boxes
 * Cuttlebug embossing folders: Plaid and Snow from Winter Wonderland set, Swiss Dots
 * Stamps: Gingerbread Cutie, Sweet Angels Set, Sweet Gingerbread Tags (all from Cindy's Scraptastic Designs)
 * Paper: Core'dinations, Heidi Grace, Papertrey Ink, SEI
 * Spellbinders Shapeabilities: Fanciful Holiday (reindeer and Christmas trees)
 * Twine: Trendy Twine, purchased at My Craft Spot
 * Ribbon: Hobby Lobby
 * Miscellaneous: Glimmer Mist, iRock, Liquid Pearls, Stickles


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Whimsical Wednesday Challenge: Anything Goes!

Happy Wednesday, my dear crafty friends! Two cards in two days... color me sparkly! :o)

Today is a VERY special Whimsical Wednesday! New adventures are beginning and I am honored to tell you that Stephanie has asked me to stay on for another term! I am ecstatic. She is coming out with a new stamp line, so stay tuned here and at her Whimsical Designs home for the release week date! It will be coming VERY soon. :o) I am blessed to have the opportunity to showcase her stamps as a member of her Design Team... and let me tell you, you are going to love them! I am eager to begin creating with them. :o)

Additionally, Stephanie has posted a Design Team call. :o) There are some permanent Design Team positions and Guest Designer positions open. Visit Whimsical Designs for the details. :o)

And now, let's get crafty! The challenge this week is Anything Goes! Whatever strikes your fancy, we'd love to see it! :o) This card I'm about to share with you is a record, my friends. I literally had two hours to craft. TWO. That's an insanely small window for me to come up with a plan and execute it. There was fear, I tell you. I even said I couldn't do it! But then... my heart said, "JUST DO IT!" Make like Nike! You know what's funny? This is the quickest and simplest card I've ever made, yet it still portrays the message that was on my heart. Card-making is a beautiful thing!

"Love Heals"

I had to take this picture in the dark (which was funny), but hopefully most of the sparkling details still shine through. (The entire main base is sparkly.) Despite the time crunch, I had a message to share. One of the primary reasons I bought the Wall Decor and More cartridge is because of this dancer. I've longed to use her, but was a bit apprehensive. Many of you know portions of my dance status. Suddenly, I just *needed* to use this beloved dancer. But with such a short time frame, I freaked myself out wondering how I could do it justice. I mean, this is DANCE. The first thing that came to me is that love heals. From there, I knew nothing else mattered. Whatever was with it was icing on the cake. The sentiment and dancer were there, and that was enough to propel me onward.

Love is healing my body... and I hope to return to the stage or studio where a powerful performance can inexplicably bring healing love to someone in the audience, whatever it is that they need. Emotional or spiritual healing... all art forms innately possess power if you're driven by a heavenly force. And as is stated, love never fails. :o) Our sweet dancer here has released a trail of sparkling rhinestones as she gives her heart to her audience, whether it's an audience of One or a full house. Her sparkling love has burst into this red and green filigree design, accented with rhinestones, to carry out the (sparkly embossed) message that love heals. The filigree design from Storybook is actually cut in half because I made it far too large, which proceeded to somewhat make it appear as a magical Christmas butterfly. That aspect was unintentional, brought to my attention by my boyfriend when I showed him my completed card. So perfect! My explosion of love just so happened to morph a bit into a butterfly! I am tickled sparkly pink.

The lacy card design is from Elegant Edges and I embossed the sparkly Core Couture cardstock with my favorite snowflake folder. She's dancing in a winter wonderland, her body steady and secure upon the red ribbon dusted with 'snow.' But you guys know me... that's not merely flowy red ribbon. It represents the healing power of red love, flowing to us and then through us. While I love the crisp red against the pristine white regardless of theme, this is Christmassy for a purpose. My hope is that the day we celebrate the ultimate gift, I will be able to dance as a gift to and from the Lord. This is my third year saying something of that nature. Maybe this is my year. :o) See how the dancer's arabesque has extended beyond the lacy border? She's breaking through barriers. :o)

I did not intend to make this post long, so forgive me. It all went into the making of this card, so I wanted to share. :o)

I hope you'll play along with us this week and link up your Anything Goes project at the NEW challenge home of Whimsical Wednesday's: Whimsical Designs. I would love to see your creations! Our fabulous sponsor this week is my fellow Design Team member Nanne of Nanne's Creations. She is donating a marvelous variety of Webster Pages scrapping supplies to one random winner who participates. Thank you, Nanne! :o)

Be sure to dance on over to Stephanie's blog to see the rest of the Design Team's projects! Thank you for visiting me today. If you persevered through this entire post, you deserve a cupcake. :o) (Or even if you didn't... because I like to share cupcakes.)

One final thing... it's almost FRIDAY! It's nearly time to celebrate the opening of Cindy's Scraptastic Designs with our kick-off blog hop! Hope to see you there, my friends. :o)

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Elegant Edges, Gypsy Wanderings, Storybook, Wall Decor and More
 * Cuttlebug embossing folders: Swiss Dots, Winter Wonderland pack
 * Paper: Core'dinations, DCWV
 * Spellbinders Nestabilities: Labels Four
 * Sentiment: Computer generated
 * Ribbon: Hobby Lobby
 * Miscellaneous: iRock, Stickles (on sentiment embossing)


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PCW Terrific Tuesday Challenge: Harvest Time!

Happy Tuesday once again, my sweet friends! I hope your November is off to a beautiful start. :o)

It's my first Terrific Tuesday Challenge as a Paper Crafting World designer! I am honored. The theme this week is Harvest Time, with the option of creating any type of project. For even further inspiration, Melin has provided three optional sketches if you so choose to use them. :o)

The creative process can be interesting. I will be honest and say this began in a frazzled panic. This is one of my favorite themes, yet I was drawing blanks and everything felt wrong and forced. I tried to simplify (don't laugh... I AM trying to explore that side of me!), which ended up making things harder. I stepped back, cast aside what I was doing, and started fresh. I thought about what harvest means to me and from there, I finally had a card path that was clearer than mud. Victory!

"Harvest Blessings"

When I think of harvest, the most poignant meaning is a harvest of spiritual blessings. What stands out is not the blessing of fruits, vegetables, and grains... but rather sowing seeds of love, faith, hope, and joy to reap a harvest of blessings for others and for myself. To spend time planting tiny seeds whenever possible, whether the recipient realizes it or not... being a blessing above all else to be a representation of heaven. Every moment is an opportunity to sow the most important seeds of all... and in due time, all will be gathering a harvest of blessings. :o) Truly glorious.

My attempt to craftily capture this is focused upon this wonderful PCW birdcage and flowers digital stamp that I colored with Copics and trimmed in gold sparkles. Given the season, when I saw this I immediately thought pumpkin... so I colored it shades of orange and filled it with the heart-shaped seeds of love, faith, hope, and joy. I coated the seeds with Stardust to make them sparkle with the Lord's radiance. Extra love abounds when on this beautiful path, evidenced by the pretty plaid hearts that are ready to burst forth from the cage. The tiny seeds, properly nourished, have blossomed to overflowing, portrayed by the cascading flowers. I colored a few of them with Copics and also added a couple of Primas. Naturally all are anchored with a sparkle. The focal element is surrounded in a circle of sparkles because love is sparkly, after all. I used rhinestones of deep amber and a golden orange, then used one of my yellow Copics to color a few clear stones to get a third harvesty color in the mix. (Which was oddly entertaining.)

My card needed a sunflower, but without any on my carts I had to improvise. I layered two sizes of Prima daisies, cut out a circle of brown felt for the fuzzy center, and dotted it with gold Stickles. I used my favorite Martha Stewart border punch and some gorgeous Prairie Bird Boutique crinkle ribbon, so I was having all sorts of fun once I relaxed about the whole project. I love how embossing looks on chocolate browns, so that was actually the first thing I did to set the stage for a happy harvest of blessings. :o)

Be sure to skip on over to the PCW challenge post to check out the fabulous creations by the rest of the Design Team! I hope you'll link up with us this week, too! I'd love to see what you create for this beautiful harvest time. :o) Thank you for dancing on by to see me! Have a sparkly day. :o)

Key Recipe Components:
 * Cricut cartridges: Elegant Edges
 * Cuttlebug embossing folder: Victoria
 * Paper: Bo Bunny, stash
 * Spellbinders Nestabilities: Labels Four
 * Stamp: Paper Crafting World~ Birdcage and Flowers
 * Copics: YR01, YR12 ('pumpkin' birdcage); YG11, YG13, YG17 (vines); Y13, Y15, V, 12, V15, V17 (flowers)
 * Ribbon: Prairie Bird Boutique
 * Flowers: Prima
 * Border Punch: Martha Stewart Doily Lace
 * Miscellaneous: Brenda Walton rhinestones, Stickles

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