Give a Hoot Hoot for Birthdays

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Witty Wednesday with Christi!

This is a cute card for the whole family to give someone special on their birthday!  It was super quick and easy to make!  The branch is cut out of grungeboard with the Tim Holtz Bird Branch die.  There is actually a bird on the branch, but I just trimmed the little guy off.  I then inked the branch with various brown colors of distress ink.  The owls are from the Create a Critter cricut cartridge.


Happy Birthday from OWL of us

The sentiment was the only “technical” thing I did.  But thanks to my Cricut Explore and the design space software, it was still very easy.  I used 3 different fonts (see list) and created a separate text box for each one.  After I got all of my text aligned how I wanted, I attached the text to the card.  (It is very important that you attach the text.)  Look through the picture tutorial for some visual guidance on writing text with the cricut explore and let me know if you have any questions.
• “Happy Birthday” – Curlz MT system font
• “OWL” – Wall Décor and More font
• “from…of us” – Baby Steps font


Open a separate text box for each different font or text size you use


When using the same font in multiple places, add spacing so everything will line up nicely


The software will recognize and use any fonts already on your computer


Select all of your text and the card (or whatever image you want to write on). Click “Attach.”

This card has been entered into the following blog challenges:
“For the Birds!” from Cute Card Thursday
“Things With Wings” from Try it on Tuesday
“Surprise Birthday Hop” from Merry Monday
“Celebrate” from Addicted to CAS
“Anything Goes” from That Craft Place

Categories: Cards & Tags, DIY, 'Cause You Can! | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

EC&M Christmas in July Blog Hop

Welcome to stop number 8 along the Exploring Cricut and More “Christmas in July” Blog Hop!  If you’re following along with us, you should have just arrived from Michelle N’s post. Make sure you visit everyone’s blog because several of my fellow designers are giving away free goodies.  And make sure you enter our challenge this week…there’s a prize for the winner!  All you gotta do is make a Christmas craft using at least one die cut and follow our blog.  Good luck and have fun!


Follow along with our blog hop!

Rae Ann
Michelle N.
Christi *You are here!*
Michelle S.

Alright, on to my card.  My favorite part about the holiday season is all of the Christmas music!  I can’t say I have a favorite song because I love them all.  But few say it better than “Joy to the World!”  It truly is a joyous thing to celebrate our Savior’s birth.  And even though it’s pushing 100 degrees here in El Paso, I was singing all sorts of Christmas songs during the making of this card.  While assembling the little baby Jesus I sang “Away in a Manger” and cutting out the Bethlehem star led to humming “Little Town of Bethlehem.”  Haha, I suppose in 6 months that won’t sound so silly.


Joy to the World, the Lord is come!

I actually used quite a few die cuts for this card.  The trees are stamped with Mountain Top Trees by Poppystamps and then cut out with the matching die.  Everything else was done with my cricut.  These are the cartridges used:
• baby in the manger – A Quilted Christmas
• Bethlehem star – Christmas digital set
• “Joy” – Winter Wonderland
• “World” – Nursery Rhymes font


Itty bitty baby Jesus

The label has a subtle shadow effect in the background that is really easy to create with the use of a marker spritzer.  I have one that my mom gave me from all of her Stampin’ Up stuff.  But Tim Holtz released one (find it here) recently as well.  All you do is insert any marker into it and squeeze the air “bulb” to get an airbrushed effect.  I die cut 2 Mini Snowflakes from the Sizzix movers and shapers set.  Then, while holding the snowflakes in place, I sprayed over the label with a blue marker.  I could have sprayed more, but I only wanted to soften the background some and not take away from the text.


Some subtle snowflake shadows

Okay blog hoppers…head on over to Liz’s site next to continue the hopping fun!

This card has been entered into the following blog challenges:
“Christmas in July” from Crafting for all Seasons
“Christmas in July” from Craftin Desert Divas
“It’s A Jolly Holiday” from Papertake
“Celebrate” from Addicted to CAS
“J is for…” from Simon Says Stamp
“Inspired by a song or movie” from The Squirrel and the Fox
“Face The Music And Dance” from Vintage Stamping
“For a Child” from Simply Create Too
“Anything Goes” from The Crafter’s Cafe

Categories: Cards & Tags, DIY, 'Cause You Can! | Tags: , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Singin’ in the Rain

I think this is the first time I have made a card exclusively based on a blog challenge.  Sure I’ve been inspired by some in the past.  But I suppose I was in a very literal mood when I saw the “Singin’ in the Rain” challenge by Less is More, because all I could picture was the movie.  Oh, but please don’t think I was lacking creativity…I just really like musicals!!

Reducing the number of layers seemed like a good place to start in embracing the clean and simple card style.  Therefore, the puddle and street lamp are inked directly onto the card.  I did this by adding distress ink with a blending tool through the negatives from my die cuts.  I also added some perfect pearls in pewter to the lamp to make it look more metallic.  All of my images were cut out by my cricut:
• vintage street lamp – Heritage
• puddle (or pond) – Create a Critter
• dapper gentleman – Suburbia
• open umbrella – Everyday Pop-up Cards


I’m singin’ in the rain. What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again!

Sometimes cost can be an issue when building up your craft supplies, unless of course you’re one of Trump’s many wives.  I LOVE the Tim Holtz distress inks, but also buying the distress markers isn’t in the financial cards right now.  But what about those times when I want to add a tidbit of color and a blending tool just isn’t accurate enough?  Here’s my secret and cheap work around…craft nibs!  This video shows Tim using them to tint a vintage photo.  Some mustard seed distress ink on a nib adds color inside the street lamp.  Then mark the center with an embossing pen and add a touch of gold powder.  Heat emboss to make the light glow.

I have a mason jar full of random sequins.  As luck would have it, I had some lovely blue hearts.  There were also some large blue circles, which I cut down to make the rain drops.  I applied glossy accents underneath to glue them down and again on top to give them a wet, dimensional look.


It’s easy to make a light and water drop look realistic

The umbrella also took some creative die cutting.  I wanted it to have a vintage wooden handle, so the first layer was cut out of EK Success adhesive backed wood sheets instead of paper.  I inked the wood with some brushed corduroy distress ink (using a blending tool) and the edges of the umbrella top with mustard seed distress ink (with a craft nib).


The iconic yellow umbrella

This card has been entered into the following blog challenges:
“Singin’ in the Rain!” from Less is More
“Cool Water” from Frilly and Funkie
“Splash” from Inkspirational
“For the Boys” from Brown Sugar
“Stencil It!” from Country View

Categories: Cards & Tags, DIY, 'Cause You Can! | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Happy Holly Holidays

It’s never too early to start making Christmas cards.  My local craft store, Stamp Act, is having a big Christmas in July sale.  I bought quite a bit!  Here are just 2 of the dies that I will be adding to my stash:

die_holly berries

Holly Berries by Penny Black


Small Blooming Poinsettia die by Poppystamps

I used a variety of glitter glues to accent the images.  On the reindeer, Dusty Concord and for the holly leaves I used Forest Moss and Bundled Sage distress stickles.


A leaping reindeer admist holly

To shape the flowers, I placed one layer at a time face down on a foam pad and gently creased each petal with a stylus.  Then flip it over and press down on the center to create a cup.  Repeat for each layer.  To assemble, place a tidbit of a wet glue (I like Tombow Mono Aqua Liquid Glue) in the “cup” of each layer and press them all together with a stylus.  The die includes a stamen layer, but I chose to use a button instead.


Close up of the poinsettias w/ a button center

This card has been entered into the following blog challenges:
Sketch #124 from Retro Sketches
“Ribbons and Buttons” from Merry Monday Christmas Challenge
“Christmas in July” from Crafting for All Seasons
“Christmas in July” from Craftin Desert Divas
“It’s A Jolly Holiday” from Papertake
“Anything Goes” from The Crafter’s Cafe
“Anything Goes” from That Craft Place

Categories: Cards & Tags, DIY, 'Cause You Can! | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Elegant Stationery for a Military Wife

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Witty Wednesday with Christi!

My husband’s US Army unit, 4-17 Infantry, was recently assigned a new battalion commander.  While the Soldiers received him with a grand marching formation, the spouses hosted a welcome party/shower for his wife.  We were all asked to bring gifts to help her “survive” her time in El Paso.  She was given lots of sunscreen because it’s always sunny, a kite for our insanely strong winds, and some locally made coffee beans.  For my gift, I wanted to give her a stationery set with the 4-17 unit crest on front.  And because I wanted it to look nicer than a boring printed image, I needed to convert the crest into a cut file.

The new Cricut Design Space software that was released with the Cricut Explore machine is pretty amazing!  It allows you to convert any digital image into a cut file.  I have noticed that clipart and .png images work the best because they have less detail and crisper lines.  Other pictures will work too, they may just require some patience.  Today’s tutorial will walk you through how to create your own cut files with this free online program.

Step 1:  To get started, open Cricut Design Space in your web browser.  Create a new project and click upload image.


Starting with a blank canvas

Step 2:  Choose basic upload.


With vector upload you can upload .svg or .dxf files

Step 3:  Click browse to add your image.  Simple images works best for clip art in my experience.  However, feel free to play around with each option.  If you end up not liking how your image looks with with the option you chose, it’s no big deal.  Just click the back button so you don’t have to start over.


I almost always use the “simple image” option

Step 4:  This is the only time consuming step.  Depending on how pixellated your image is, and how much of a perfectionist you are, this can be a very tedious process to clean up your image.  The idea here is the machine will cut out whatever is not transparent, but it does not recognize color.  So you isolate one color at a time by making the other colors transparent.  The select and delete function turns an entire section transparent.  To clean up pixellated edges,  zoom in and use the eraser.


Clean up your image

Step 5:  Save your cut file.  Repeat this process for each color to create different layers.

Does this inspire you to get a Cricut Explore?  Get them now while they are on sale!!

While my cricut cut out all of my images, I set to work on the background.  I stenciled it in 2 layers.  The first is done in tumbled glass distress ink.  Then, I offset the stencil and applied Viva Croco crackling paint with a palette knife.  I just love the look of this crackle paint, but it seemed to warp my cardstock.  Does anyone else have this issue?  And if so, what do you do to combat it?  As the paint dried, I assembled the crests.  Dry wall tape works perfectly to keep all those little bricks lined up as they are removed from the cutting mat, glue applied, and then adhered to the crest.  And for the final touch, it’s mounted with thick foam dots to make this card really pop.


A feminine touch on a military image

This card has been entered into the following blog challenges:
“Stencil It!” from Country View Challenges
“Your Favourite Colours” from Craft for the Craic
“Monochromatic from Pile it On!

Categories: Cards & Tags, DIY, 'Cause You Can! | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Coming Home to Sonora

Another exciting thing we did on our trip was visit my grandma.  She lives in a tiny little town called Sonora.  It was founded by gold-rush miners.  Today it serves as the last pit stop on your way to Yosemite National Park.  Because Sonora is all the way West in California, and for the past few years we’ve been stationed out East in Watertown, NY, we have not been able to visit her.  In fact, Matt had only met her once before at our wedding.  It was so special spending time with her, visiting Yosemite, and letting Matt see the place where my dad grew up and I spent a lot of my childhood, as well.

Although the only crops my grandma has ever grown were for personal use, her house is very reminiscent of a farm.  The property has fenced areas that neighbors rent for their horses, my dad raised goats and hogs when he was in the 4H, she always has 2+ dogs (currently 4), and she’s in the process of building a chicken coop to house a dozen hens.  Not to mention, it is a normal occurrence during breakfast to look out the kitchen window at the deer feeding.  As a cowgirl at heart, I feel right at home!


Looking forward to pictures of her chickens & eating those eggs

I knew I wanted to do a country themed card.  So when I saw this week’s challenge by Crafter’s Cafe was to quote a chick flick, my mind immediately jumped to Sweet Home Alabama.  One of my favorite lines from the movie is, “You can take the girl out of the honky tonk, but you can’t take the honky tonk out of the girl.”  (This is also a great song by Brooks & Dunn.)  My Cricut Explore cut out a tag from the Heritage cartridge and inked the quote in Baby Steps writing font.  The little girl chasing the chicken is from the Nursery Rhymes cricut cartridge.  And the chicken wire background is done by dabbing various distress inks through the Tim Holtz honeycomb layering stencil.


This is SO true

This card has been entered into the following blog challenges:
“Use a Line from your Favourite Flick” from The Crafters Cafe
“Strings and Things” from Incy Wincy Designs Challenge
“Tag, You’re It!” from Craft Hoarders Anonymous
“For The Birds” from Chocolate, Coffee & Cards
“Stencil It!” from Country View Challenges

Categories: Cards & Tags, DIY, 'Cause You Can! | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Tim Holtz July 2014 Tag

As part of our big trip this summer, Matt and I visited the Grand Canyon.  We took the Hermit’s Trail about 1.2 miles with a drop of 1,240 ft into the canyon.  It was a really good afternoon hike:  challenging but not too intense to prevent more exploring afterwards.  Here are just a few of the 133 pictures we took.


It is so incredible!!  If you haven’t seen this in person yet, go ASAP.


What an awesome shot of that pollinating bee! Click the image to see it close up.


Yikes! Do I really have to hike back up that?!!

The gorgeous colors of the canyon inspired me beyond measure!  So I decided to make it the subject of my July 2014 tag.  This month, Tim Holtz uses a variety of different techniques for his tag.  (Check his out here!)  He embosses plastic packaging to give the background a unique dimension.  I used the zebra print from the cuttlebug Animal Print embossing set.  I attached it to my background with 2 fascinator staples from EK Success.  I cut out 2 cacti in different sizes from the Southwest cricut cartridge.  They are embellished like Tim’s seahorse with clear crackle paint and distress stain.


A mini sized Grand Canyon

The background is colored in 3 stages.  1st: Smear distress paints on your craft sheet and mist with water.  Swipe tag through the paint.  Allow to fully dry…use a heat tool if you want.  2nd: Repeat previous step with distress stains.  3rd: Rub distress ink on the tag with a blending tool.  Spritz or flick water droplets on tag.  As it dries, I like to use a paper towel dab away some of the water droplets to really pull up the ink.


First, distress paint


Second, distress stain


Last, distress ink

And here are close-up shots of all the details.


Don’t you just love it when rosettes actually look like real roses.


Just look at how realistic this sand is!


Distress stains added to linen ribbon to match tag

P.S. Tim gives a way better tutorial than I ever could on how to create the sand.  Head over to his blog if you’d like to know how.

This tag has been entered into the following blog challenges:
“12 tags of 2014 – July” from Tim Holtz
“Tag, You’re It!” from Craft Hoarders Anonymous
“Strings and Things” from Incy Wincy Designs Challenge
“Let’s Be Clear” from
“Colours of Summer” from Try it on Tuesdays
“Summer Heat!” with a summer bloom from Frilly and Funkie

Categories: Cards & Tags, DIY, 'Cause You Can! | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Joyful Stenciling Card

Everyone get excited because this is my first post as part of the Exploring Cricut and More Design Team!!!  I am so honored to have been chosen to join their team and hope to grow through this experience and the knowledge of the other ladies!

Diane’s blog has us focus on die cuts from any machine, not just the cricut.  I chose to post this card for 2 reasons:  1st, I normally talk about the cricut, so why not talk about something new like the cuttlebug?!  And #2:  Matt & I are on vacation and this is the only die-cut card I had a picture of and haven’t posted yet.  “Necessity is the mother of all invention,” or something like that…haha.

This card is made with the Cuttlebug Embossing Plus Brocade Window folder.  Through normal use, embossing plus folders only cut and emboss.  However, they have a special hidden use, too!  On the backside is a plastic flap that, when lifted, becomes a stencil for the raised embossed edges.  They are super fun/easy to work with and give your project that extra little pop!  ProvoCraft has several different designs which you can find on their website.


Joyful Stenciling Card

What you do is place your paper inside of the folder and run it through any embossing machine (Cuttlebug, Big Shot, Vagabond, etc.).  Now before you remove the paper, lift that plastic flap and, using a dapper, ink as you would a stencil.  It’s that quick & easy.

I started with a plain white piece of cardstock.  I actually removed both pieces after die cutting them, so I could ink them separately.  The inside piece is colored with blue distress stains, stamped with a general script text, and finally spritzed with perfect pearls.  The outer edge was inked in layers starting with various pink distress stains.  Next, stencil with purple distress ink through the Tim Holtz Dot Fade layering stencil.  Lastly, I placed the outer edge back inside the folder to stencil in red.

The “JOY” sentiment is another die cut…that’s right, I’m starting off strong with a 2 for 1!  It can be found in the Tim Holtz Holiday Joy Framelits die set by Sizzix.  Framelits are fun because they eliminate fussy cutting!  You can stamp your image, and then cut it out perfectly using any embossing machine.


Mini DIY rosettes

Finally, I created these rosettes by inking regular computer paper with coordinating distress stains.  Once dry, cut about 1/8″-1/4″ wide strips of paper.  Hold one end with a slotted quilling tool, and slowly wrap and twist the paper around that end.  Once you get to the other end, fold it underneath the rosette to hide it.  Some people add glue as they go to keep it together.  However, I like to wait until the end and press the bottom side into a dap of hot glue.  This gives it extra strength.  Plus, if I don’t like the way it’s looking, I can unwind and start over.

I hope that you have enjoyed my 1st blog with EC&M.  I can’t wait until I’m home again and can start more craft projects for ya’ll!!  Here’s to a long and fruitful future together…CHEERS!!!

Categories: Cards & Tags, DIY, 'Cause You Can! | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tim Holtz June 2014 Tag

This month, Tim used layering stencils to create a watercolor effect.  He rubs the distress ink pad directly to the stencil, mists with water, and then places it on watercolor paper for this awesome look!  Visit his blog for a full picture tutorial.  Instead of waiting until the last minute like last month, I’m doing my Tim Holtz tag midway through the month.  That means I can enter my first challenge by Tim Holtz (aka my crafting hero!)…YAY!

As I stated above, you are supposed to apply the ink pads directly to the stencil.  Well, I must have turned off my brain because I started by applying the ink pads to my non-stick craft sheet and misting that with water.  I then dipped my stencil into the puddle to pick up the ink before transferring it to the paper.  Although this minor mis-step doesn’t make a huge difference, you can see in the picture below that there is definitely more ink transferred to the paper when all is done according to Tim’s instruction.  And although this may not be the Tim Holtz way, it’s not necessarily incorrect.  This variation could be used to create a more splattered or disjointed background.


The left paper was done with ink applied to the craft sheet.  Ink applied directly to stencil is on the right.

In the spirit of Father’s Day this month, I went with masculine colors on the Bubble stencil.  The same ink colors were used to colorize some crinkle ribbon.  Both the clock and time sentiment are from The Journey stamp set.  I stamped the umbrella man from Life’s Possibilities and cut him out by hand.  I inked his edges and stuck him on with 3D foam.  Finally, I added the clock hand and gears for the final touch.  Click on the image to see it with lots of detail.


My June 2014 Tag

This tag has been entered into the following blog challenges:
“12 Tags of 2014 – June” from Tim Holtz
“Stencil It” from
“Manly Men” from Catered Crop Recipe Swap
“Only Men Allowed” from Country View Challenges
“Men” from That Craft Place
“Crop It or Cut It” from The Corrosive Challenge Blog
“Use Something Metal” from The Squirrel and the Fox
“Fathers’ Day/Male” from Ooh La La Challenge Blog
“One for the Boys” from Try it on Tuesdays

Categories: Cards & Tags, DIY, 'Cause You Can! | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Sailor’s Birthday

July is a big month for birthdays in my family and we are about to go on a 2 week vacation.  So I thought I would get a head start now!  My father-in-law, Mark, retired from the Navy.  So Matt requested that I make a naval-themed birthday card for him.  He mostly worked on aircraft carriers through out his service.  I couldn’t find an actual naval ship in my cricut cartridges, but this cruise liner is fairly close…at least to an Army person.

All of the cuts were made with my Cricut Explore on the following cartridges:  ship-Heritage / label-Cricut Essentials waves-Destinations.  The sentiment is my own, but written by the Cricut Explore with the Baby Steps font.


Wishing for Peaceful Waters on your Birthday

To make the ocean waves more realistic, I used the “Clouds/Water” stamp from CC Rubber Stamps and VersaMark watermark ink.  Add clear embossing powder and heat.  Then blend Ranger distress inks in coordinating colors over each water section.  The emboss resists these water based inks and creates depth.  How’s that for faux water?!


Close-up of the foamy sea waters

And because one of the blog challenges requires the card to match the colors of my bedroom, here are a couple of pics of where I lay my head.


Our room is mostly neutrals (tan, brown, black) with a soft, pale green.


My dresser boasts the only blue in the bedroom with lovely flower vases and butterfly votives.

This card has been entered into the following blog challenges:
“The Colours in Your Bedroom!” from Less is More
“Designer’s Choice – Clean and Simple” from Inkspirational Challenges
“FAUX Techniques” from Incy Wincy Designs Challenge
“Embossing” from Chocolate, Coffee, and Cards Challenges

Categories: Cards & Tags | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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