Thank You (Seeds for Your Garden) card

A simple (and overdue) thank-you card using American Crafts, Glitz, and Stampin’ Up products.

Sometimes life gets ahead of me and I get behind on doing the seemingly easy, necessary things in life. One thing I’m really bad about is sending thank-you cards. 

It’s not that I’m not grateful or that I don’t think of the sender every time I see or use their gift…I just fail to tell them how much it means to me. I often feel at a loss for words or inadequate when trying to compose all the feels onto a tiny 5-inch card. I could blame my parents (though I won’t), as I never had to write thank-you notes for gifts received. (Maybe because of that, receiving them just isn’t that important to me personally. As long as I know they got my gift, I’m good.) I’ve finally conceded that I’m wholly out of practice and singularly bad at composing them – and 100 percent a procrastinator. I’d rather the words magically flew onto the card and into the mailbox without my fumbling assistance, while I hope they pass muster. Not to mention that writing them out now kills my fibromyalgic hands. A card and a half, give or take a half, and I’m done in with hand cramps. I love the gift; I love the sender; I hate the card that follows. 

Well, like other things in life, thank-you notes are apparently necessary and extremely important to (hmm, how do I say this?)…to people who aren’t me. For this particular thank-you note, I’m about two months behind. I’ve known what front piece I was going to use for at least that long, but it was a matter of finding or taking the time to do up a card. (Now that I’m a cardmaker, I feel REALLY funny about sending a store-bought card even if I’m short on time or behind on putting one in the mail, as if I’m secretly saying that I don’t care near enough about them to take the time to handmake a card. Therefore the calendar stretches out before I get the required cards made. Sigh.) 

I’ve been having a pretty busy year. I’ve flown a handful of times, once out of the country, been to board meetings twice, made a half-country trek by car once and not-as-long other car trips at least twice, said goodbye to a dear uncle, crammed in editing projects, and continued to take and finish custom card orders through it all. It’s starting to feel as if I can’t stay home long enough to get ahead on anything. Enter the now-very-behind thank-you note, which I had to make and send for the reasons above. I’m just about out of brain cells at this point. 

I knew how I wanted to make the card once upon a time. I laid it all out in a heap on my desk, to signify to myself that THIS was how it was going to go. And somewhere along the line other projects joined it and other work also had to get done, and the long and short of it is that by the time I finally had to shake myself out of the procrastination coma and send the blooming thing, I had only a semblance of an idea of what I was supposed to be doing with it. Plus I couldn’t find the burlap piece. Hubs decided to join me in the craft room that night, and we watched a movie on my not-so-used TV while I fiddled with the card, trying to come up with some new design.

The card is pretty simple, or at least it looks it. I grabbed a leftover base from my stash of unused Basic Gray baby-invitation bases, hoping I won’t regret that decision when I work on her baby album next year; I liked how the darkness of the outline of the flowered piece matched. And then I just rearranged card pieces in front of me until something made sense. I think I actually meant to do something else with it, but the sizing on the striped paper was perfect as it was and rather distracted me, so I ended up completely forgetting that I meant to go the other direction. I tried a number of compilations, but in the end, this is what made sense to my boxy self. 


The striped paper is from Stampin’ Up. I needed to have some sort of color separation and size difference between the flowered piece (which is from American Crafts, 320490) and the stripes, so I ended up using a yellow remnant from Glitz Design that mostly matches the yellow in the flowers. I had a better color match but didn’t like the pattern or size nearly as well. I added “bling” in the form of something akin to Stampin’ Up’s Candy Dots; these yellow and green dots are from SU’s “Little Moments” Project Life Accessory Pack. It always amazes me how colors across completely different designers can still match. Or maybe it’s more amazing that I actually manage to pull them all together on a card. 

At this point I decided the card was too simple or plain. I have this fight regularly with myself. One side of my brain says it’s fine/nice/great/perfect the way it is and shouts at me to leave it alone, and the other side of my brain hesitates and weighs things and just isn’t convinced, thinking it’s not quite right yet – more tinkering needs to be done. The latter won that day. I have a bottle here of SU’s Dazzling Details glitter glue in an iridescent whitish color, and I’m not sure I’ve ever used it much. This became evident when the glitter glue came out in nonspreadable clumps instead of a smooth flow. I did my best at smooshing them out onto the flower centers while I mumbled that I should throw the bottle away, but I persisted. It was better than trying to find a similar color in my Stickles from Ranger. 

I finished the centers, leaned back in my chair, put my feet up, and watched some more of the movie before going on to create the inside of the card. And right after I flipped open the card and got glitter on my fingers, I remembered that the glitter glue on the flowers would still be wet. (I like to take an entire day to dry them, if I can.) So I muttered some more, closed the card, got out the bottle of glitter glue from where I’d put it away, and proceeded to redo the flower centers. 

Eventually the inside did get finished. I’m just now realizing that I forgot to take a picture of it – the urge to mail the card was finally the foremost thing in my mind, apparently – but it was just a white piece to write on and a couple of leftover strips of paper as bottom borders. And, as usual, I didn’t have enough room to write all the heartfelt thoughts battling in my head for the 5-inch piece of paper. Sigh. At least this one is finally done and gone. I’m relieved that I no longer have to remember to do it. Until next time, that is. 

…I really need to get better at this thank-you-note thing. Too bad practice comes with writing them. 😛

Masculine movers thank-you card 5

One more in this series. Thanks for working through them with me.

I used “Brushed Gold” (retired) cardstock from Stampin’ Up as a base for this one. I have a partial pack of 8.5 x 11 cardstock and cut one sheet down to an A2 size before scoring it in half with my scoring board (wonderful invention, and so much easier than trying to fold it in half without creasing it where you don’t want to, which was the way I used to do it). I’m not really a “gold” person, but I do like this cardstock and wish it was still current. It has a beautiful shimmer in the light and isn’t too gold for me.

The same double-sided Martha Stewart brown/blue-and-pink-flowered patterned paper came into play for the matted layer, as on “Cards 2 and 3,” detailed here. I still hated covering up those beautiful flowers. I might just have to make a new card with it as penance. 🙂 On top of that solid brown, I put another section of the DCWV key paper – finally going back to the moving idea. It has a deliberate “stained” or distressed kind of look around the edges of the 12×12 sheet. This particular piece was from a corner, so that’s why it looks the way it does. I could have added ink on the border of the other “key” pieces to get the same idea (or the right-hand edge of this piece – which I just now realized), but I didn’t think it was all that necessary at the time. You can see in the close-up of the picture that the browns aren’t an exact match, but I’m reminding myself that people don’t usually look that closely – or hold it to their face. No one will know, right? 😉

When I remember to do it, I wait until I have most of my pieces ready or a solid idea of what I want to do before I start gluing layers together, so I can do things like wrapping this ribbon around part of the paper. Wrapping it is better than cutting it off, which will cause it to fray (and then get too short despite your initial measuring). Trust me on this. 🙂 I mean, yes, you can cut it with pinking shears, but you won’t always want that particular look. And you can use Fray-Check or another glue, as I used to, but then the ribbon will darken or even harden where the liquid was applied. And that’s not very pretty. So for me, wrapping works…when I plan ahead or stop to think about how to put everything together. The ribbon in this particular case is a retired 5/8″ Gold Satin ribbon from Stampin’ Up, and the flattish buttons are SU Gold Metallic Buttons (also retired – notice a theme yet?).

I thought about using another fancy die for the sentiment block, but time was growing short and I wondered whether the curves of the die might conflict with the shapes of the keys. When I found this scrap of Naturals Ivory (Stampin’ Up, retired) that was already cut down, that settled the debate. (This is one reason why I keep scraps with their pads.) This cardstock has little random flecks of color in it in keeping with that “natural” look.

I decided not to use the gold embossing powder on this card. It was late, T was sleeping, and my heat gun, since it’s almost twenty years old, is not the quietest. I hear the newer versions are much better with that – but mine works just fine, so I’m not going to invest in another one until it dies. Probably. So for this sentiment I just used my Soft Suede ink pad (Stampin’ Up, current). Stamps are also SU and from the “One Big Meaning” (current) and “So Very Much” (SAB, retired) sets.

The last step – and the one I find the most fun – was finding embellishments to pretty up the front of the card. This is actually when I found and placed the buttons, but the sentiment needed something too. Most company’s adhesive jewels and “dots” are rather raised, which sometimes requires a thin piece of cardboard in the envelope with the card so they don’t burrow through the envelope. I was trying to avoid that, but my best options were still problematic in that area, so I thought about photo corners or turning it into some kind of frame. I could have rooted through my photo corners tray, but as it was late and I needed to get the order packaged up, I chose the faster route of going to my die wall where I knew I had this tiny corner die. I have to cut it individually, four times, but sometimes it’s still the best choice. The size was perfect, so I cut it out of a metallic gold sheet of cardstock from a DCWV Metallics Stack. That pad is just beautiful, with many shades of metallic colors. Now that I’ve broken it open and used a bit of it, I may go back to it more often. (I’ve been trying to curb my “hoarding” urge; there’s always new stuff to buy as trends and preferred colors in the industry change. Not that I really need to buy much…but telling myself that does help me work through the fact that I should use up my stash. 🙂 )

So that’s it for this card and my five-note thank-you set. Which one was your favorite? This one might be mine, as it was both easy yet somewhat detailed. Thanks for reading! Feel free to “follow” me for more card ideas and tips in future posts.

Trying Something New

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting new results.”

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” —Winston Churchill

“Change before you have to.” —Jack Welch

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” —Alan Watts

*****************

These quotes are some of the kinds of thoughts tumbling in my head recently. I have a good life here in quaint old Amish Country, with family and friends who love me; I work from home (“no, in pajamas,” my conscience tells me); and I have two cats who follow me around the house just to be near me. I’m not wealthy, but I’m not poor. I have plenty. But I also have dreams…dreams I want to turn into plans…plans I want to turn into my own success story, even if the only way success is seen is by looking over my shoulder to where I’ve been.

One of my dreams is to make this passion, this excitement I feel about the crafting I do for fun, into a THING, a thing that works, a thing that goes somewhere. A thing that makes other people smile or brightens a bad day. That makes ME smile when I’m having a bad day. That maybe even makes some money at some point. Really, a thing that says I’m not crazy to consider a new kind of “job” because I’m theoretically good at this too. (I’m a book editor. My love of details is the only thing in common here.) I was once told I’m not very creative—too “boxy,” apparently. I beg to differ. I will shout my differing from the rooftop.

Well, what kind of dreams could I—a mostly introverted book nerd who now prefers to stay at home (until I’m traveling the world) and occasionally contemplates the real possibility of having social anxiety (regardless of how many hours my Facebook is active)—dream about the crafting world? You make a birthday card and send it and the recipient loves it, or you do a scrapbook or two for the kids and grandkids to look at years later, right? Or you join the rest of America in having bigger appetites than budgets and create the coolest craft room in town with fun grownup toys like die-cutting machines. My online crafty friends would love that…. Isn’t that it? Hmm. No. Well, yes, to a degree, but…no.

Even if it does sound rather peacockish (and it really isn’t that), I’m going to take the scary step of admitting my dreams out loud: I want to create something amazing. I want to be recognized for my creativity or my designing or simply that I made something beautiful and inspired someone else to do the same, helping them find their creativity. I want to be published in a crafting magazine or somewhere besides my own photos on Facebook. I want to join a design team, given product and trusted that I will do something cool with it. I want to have as many followers on my “My Craftiness” Pinterest board of personal projects as I do on my “Great [insert long name here involving crafts]” board of things other people have made. (The thought of joining a design team for a company both terrifies and thrills me, for the record. One dream at a time, however.) And I’ve dreamed about making my playtime-slash-therapy in my craft room a business instead—getting paid to play, as it were, instead of how it is now: working to play. I’ve been debating about becoming a Stampin’ Up demonstrator for months (my poor, long-suffering, would-be upline Amy… See her awesome blog here, by the way, and be inspired already!). But it always seems like life is too busy to really go for it. I have too many other things I want to do or have to do or feel compelled to do. *sigh* Truthfully, I’m tired of this hamster wheel.

So here’s the thing. Tonight I’m feeling like that old dog who needs to learn a new trick, a dog that has been in the cycle of insanity for far, far too long. I’m not looking for perfection (sorry, Winston), but I do admit to the tendency of dreading that word “change.” And I despise the active process of it even more. But if I want my dreams to go somewhere, I have to do or be something I’m not currently doing or being; Winston kindly says I have to improve. Sadly, there are ever so many ways I could improve….

The point is, if I want my life to be different, I have to start making it that way. The alternative is not something I want to live with any longer. I’m not getting any younger. I want to enjoy my job again. I’m tired of waiting for life to continue going along as I’d hoped it would (because it’s been a “relatively” awful decade, to be honest—despite the pun), so the time to change is now. Feel free to call this my midlife crisis. (Can I have a Harley too?) Wait… Squirrel! Sorry…regrouping… “Until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change, there will be no change.” Dwight Mason, lead pastor of NewPointe Community Church—my pastor—said that a few months back. He’s absolutely right, and I haven’t forgotten it.

Here’s my thinking (see, I’m a planner): to have any kind of following or sales or be part of any publication, I’ll need a blog. My Pinterest pins already have no “home,” even if they are being repinned. (This is not necessarily a good thing.) If I go the sales route, I’ll need to learn a whole new business AND blogging, along with several other kinds of social media, all at once. Along with keeping up with the Etsy shop I started a couple of years ago when I thought I’d see just how cold my toes would get once I dipped them into the water. And all those to-dos I’m deliberately not thinking about…oy. It already feels overwhelming. So Jack and Alan might approve, for as little or as much as we may agree on whatever else: I’m changing before I have to. I’m, shall we say, plunging into change and joining the dance of social media. (Hopefully it won’t be too chilly!) I’m late to the game, but maybe it will all make sense eventually.

Here’s your hearty welcome to my new blog: ConstantlyCreating.Me (yes, “dot” me, or the long version, constantlycreatingme.wordpress.com without a dot). It will be mainly about crafty stuff I “constantly” create in my happy little pink room. I do all kinds of crafts, so I’ll show my current projects, projects I need to return to, custom orders, my process of creating things, tips and tricks, crafty videos, new things I’m learning (quilling and iris folding fit in there)…and perhaps, occasionally, things I find inspiring or even how I’m juggling it all. And probably cat pictures—they do so love paper. But one beast at a time. (Watch out, Instagram. You’re next. After I figure out how to make a watermark.)

I’m trying something new. A card. A blog. A shop. Me. George Eliot said, “It is never too late to be who you might have been.” It’s time. Let’s do this.

Connie

Sites referenced:

My Pinterest boards: www.pinterest.com/conniet1492

My Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/shop/thelittlewhatnotshop

Find me on Instagram as annegirl77 (posts to come)

Amy Koenders’s blog: www.stampwithamyk.com

NewPointe Community Church: https://newpointe.org