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Tara on Terror

My friend and designer Tara Noel has put her mad (and deliciously morbid) skills to work with the Sizzix pop-up dies to make a series of Halloween cards! And until she caves to the massive pressure I've been exerting on her to start her own blog, I get to share her work on mine. Hmmm, maybe I should stop nagging her! Heh.

This first card uses the Pop-up All Seasons Tree in a very clever way - the foliage has been turned sideways and decorated as a ghost! Ooooooh!

Tara Ghost Tree Card

I also love the way Tara wove in additional die cut branches on the tree and embossed the base card with a Textured Impressions folder.

This next card uses the Pop-up Cake die, turned upside-down (use the Flower Pot Tutorial instructions available in the left sidebar to build the cake upside-down) and decorated as a cauldron.

Tara Cauldron Card

The green brew is very textural and I love the wire hanger atop the cauldron. The flourishes are Sizzix dies as well as the Textured Impression folder for the base paper. 

This next idea is shown two ways - turning the Pop-up Cake die into a witch hat. The first idea is to leave it unfolded and use it for a party favor or place card. The second is how it looks in a card.

Tara Witch Hat Favor

 Tara Witch Hat Card

Thanks Tara! You're a true artist and I'm honored that you use my dies. MWAH!

Video Tutorial: Bigz XL 3D Snowman Die

Today's video tutorial is on the Pop-up Snowman die.

I've split the footage into 7 segments because there is a ton of information to share. Feel free to skip the videos that you don't need. For example, the first one is entirely about pre-cutting your cardstock to get good yield. The second is how to use the die in a Big Shot machine.

If you're primarily interested in how to put the pieces together, you can watch videos #3-#6 in about 15 minutes. If you want to watch the entire tutorial, all 7 segments, it will take about 26 minutes.

VIDEO #1: Pre-Cutting the Cardstock

VIDEO #2: Die Cutting the Body Pieces

VIDEO #3: Snowman core and base

VIDEO #4: Finish the Snowman body

VIDEO #5: Embellish the Snowman

VIDEO #6: Adding the Snowman to a card

VIDEO #7: Decorated Cards

Video Tutorial: Bigz 3D Snowflake Die

OK, I'm trying out something new here: the amateur (emphasis on amateur) video tutorial for the pop-up dies.

Todays tutorial is for the new Bigz 3D Snowflake Die.

I've split the footage into five video segments and they're each somewhere between 2-4 minutes in length. You'll need about 15 minutes to watch the entire tutorial. (So grab some popcorn! It's a comedy!)

VIDEO #1: Die Cutting the Base

VIDEO #2: Attaching Snowflakes to the Base

VIDEO #3: Building 4-Flake Sculptures

VIDEO #4: Building Larger Sculptures

VIDEO #5: Decorated Samples

EDITED TO ADD DOWNLOAD LINKS: If the media players above don't open automatically, try downloading the segments and playing them on whatever media player you have.

Download Snowflake Tutorial 1

Download Snowflake Tutorial 2

Download Snowflake Tutorial 3

Download Snowflake Tutorial 4

Download Snowflake Tutorial 5

RKQOTD (Karl: Hey Dad, when was this song made? John: I think 1986 or so. Karl: How many CD's do you have from the 1900's? John: Over 200.)

Pop-up Flower Pot (with the cake die)

Yeesh! It was back in March that I posted my flower pot cake card, with big plans to make a tutorial on how to do it. And now, after a mere 8 months, I have! Better late than never, huh? Thanks to Janet Marks for lighting a fire under my butt, er, the back of my jeans.

You can download the tutorial from the sidebar at the left or here's a direct link: Download Flower Pot Tutorial

And since I needed to make a flower pot for the tutorial, and I also wanted to make a belated birthday card for my friend and demonstrator Holle, I did both! Here is Holle's birthday card:

(Click to make it bigger)SU Flower Pot Birthday Card

All supplies are Stampin' Up! with the exception of these items: matboard, elastic, corrugated cardboard, raffia, paper clips

Stampin' Up! demonstrators who are already on my mailing list: do nothing! You've already been added to my new service.

Stampin' Up! demonstrators who would like to join my mailing list for tips/tricks and teaching tutorials on the pop-up dies: use the blue button in this blog's sidebar to add yourself to the list.

Pop-up enthusiasts who are not Stampin' Up! demonstrators: subscribe to this blog's feed in the left sidebar to be notified when the blog is updated. Also, a new website is coming, so stay tuned!

Facebook users: I'd love to be your friend! Also check out the Sizzix FB fan site!

The snowman outside is . . . frightful!

What does the new Pop Up Snowman die make you think of? Why Halloween, of course! What? You were thinking something more traditional? The beauty of the snowman die is that he really only looks like a snowman if you decorate him as such. I designed him with two circles (I started to type "snowballs" instead of "circles" but that didn't sound right!) so he could easily be converted into other animals and characters. For example, his carrot nose looks just like a beak! (gobble, gobble)

But we're not talking Thanksgiving yet, we're talking Halloween! Fright night! Ghoulish fun. Mwaaa haaaa haaaaa! And in honor of our favorite crafting holiday, my friend and designer Bonnie Bruns and I challenged ourselves to dress the snowman up, all ready for trick-or-treating! In this first sample, Bonnie turned him into a pirate, complete with peg leg, eye patch and dreadlocks!

Bonnie Pirate Card 
Supply List: Pop-up Snowman die and matboard from Sizzix, Rusty Pickle papers and stickers, Jolee's pirate chest, ribbons, beads, rhinestones, twine and an earring hook

To make the pirate, Bonnie die cut the large snowman pieces out of both white and black cardstock and then combined those pieces to make a two-tone core. The outer snowman pieces were die cut in black. Once assembled, this gives the illusion of clothing. Notice her clever re-purposing of the pieces on the die for accessories - the button becomes an eye patch, the arms become a mouth, the eye circles are used as bandanna spots and the carrot nose is a hook-holder. Shiver me timbers, mateys, "aye" think that's pretty clever! (What? Too much? Not punny enough?)(See what I did there?)

Next, let's go to the movies! The snowman can become any character you can imagine with some creativity and accessorizing. Do you recognize Jack in this next sample?

Skeleton Halloween Card
Supply list: Pop-up Snowman die from Sizzix, Basic Grey papers, stickers and embellishments, cardstock, ribbon, white colored pencil and black pen.

Just like for the pirate, the core pieces were die cut in both white and black and combined to create a white head/black suit. The outer snowman pieces were cut in black and on all the black parts, I drew in stripes with a white colored pencil before assembling. Arms and legs are freehand cut from scraps of cardstock. The face is a combination of cardstock scraps and a Sharpie pen for the nostrils and stitch marks.

Let's look at one more sample. This is Bonnie's brainstorm and creation, but I contributed the witch. This is a 6x6 accordion-style mini-album made from 8 pieces of Little Sizzles matboard, bound with twine. How cute would this look on your mantle for Halloween? Add some photos of the kids in their costumes and you have a wonderful memory album for the spookiest of seasons!

Bonnie Halloween Accordion
Supply list: Pop-up Snowman die from Sizzix, Bo Bunny papers, twine, cardstock scraps, popsicle stick for broom handle, brads

Hopefully these ideas inspire you to turn the snowman into a variety of characters. He also makes a great snowman! Heh.

RKQOTD aka IRDUB (I really don't understand boys) (Karl on the phone: Hey Tyler, check your e-mail - I just sent you a picture of my butt! Me: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Did I just hear you say that you had taken a picture of your BUTT?! Karl: Well it's just the back of my jeans. Me:Oh. Hmmm. Well OK, I guess, but why on earth would you take a picture of the back of your jeans and send it to your friend? Karl: Because we thought it would be funny!)

Sizzix Scoreboard Dies Blog Hop - Box with Flap


Eileen Hull, the genius behind the new Scoreboard dies from Sizzix, has organized a Blog Hop to start today and I was honored to be asked to participate.

The die being featured today is the Box w/Flap. I was thrilled to find that the Pop-up Gift die will fit inside the box, so I altered the box by cutting away the side flaps and replacing them with paper flaps that wrap from the back. This converts the box into a card that opens. A gift card will fit (just barely) inside the box behind the pop-up gift.

Scoreboard Box with Flap Gift Card Holder

Sizzix products used: Scoreboard Box w/FlapPop-up GiftDots & Flowers Textured Impressions, Birthday Phrases Clear Stamps

Other products used: Mat Board - Crescent; Patterned paper - Bo Bunny; Magnet and Ribbon - Basic Grey; General craft items - cardstock, floss, jump ring, tag, rhinestones, button, rub-ons, ink

The Scoreboard dies are specifically designed to be used with mat board. Eileen is an accomplished matboard artist and has published books on the subject. With these dies, the matboard is precision-scored for folding - something you cannot accomplish with a regular die or even, unless you're extremely steady with your knife, by hand. I'm impressed with how professional the box looks using matboard and a Scoreboard die.

Are you inspired? Keep hopping! Every other Wednesday from now until January, one of the eight ScoreBoard dies will be featured. Today's projects have all been created using the Scoreboard Box w/Flap (item #656137). This box can hold a deck of cards, crayons, ATC's, and gift cards. What are your ideas for this box? Leave a comment and let us know! Please also visit each of the links below to see what innovative creations the other designers have produced!

Korie B.
Jenn Ellefson
Ann Butler
Eileen Hull

Thanks for hopping by! (See what I did there?)

Ladybirds and Headless Snowmen (oh my!)

I love my "forever friends" - the people in my life where it doesn't matter if we don't speak for a long time, we can just pick back up where we left off. Allison Strine is one such forever friend. I first met her about 8 years ago, when we were both doing a lot of scrapbooking work for the magazines. We were fellow 2002 Hall of Fame winners, as a matter of fact.

Nowadays Allison runs a successful art design studio and Etsy shop selling her whimsical and hilarious Ladybirds. I have Ladybirds all over my house - two framed prints, three pendants, a magnet that I was supposed to send to Pam but kept for myself, etc., etc. People always comment on them because the art is just so . . . happy!

I was THRILLED when Allison started offering collage sheets of her Ladybird art. They can be purchased in a high-quality print or even by digital download! Check out her collage sheets here.

I had such fun using "The Witch is In" collage sheet on this Halloween pop-up card. The pop-up pumpkin is actually a beheaded Snowman die. (Gruesomely fitting for Fright Night, eh?) I've added the instruction file for decapitating the snowman to the left sidebar or you can direct download it using the link in step 2 below.

(click to make it bigger)
Ladybird Halloween Card

Sizzix Dies Used: Pop-up Snowman, Movers & Shapers horizontal A2 card, 3 Circles window, Swirly, Candy

Other supplies: Collage Sheet: Allison Strine; Patterned Paper and Brad: Basic Grey; Orange Glitter Cardstock: Creative Imaginations; Glue for pop-up base: Zip Dry; Tape runner for everything else: Tombow; Ribbon: Creative Impressions; Cardstock: Worldwin Doublemates; 1.25" circle punch, googly eyes, cardstock scraps, transparency, elastic, eyelet, colored pencils, 2 small mini-brads, brown ink pad.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Arrange the three-circle window die all the way to the end of the Movers & Shapers magnetic area and die cut the card from two-tone cardstock (black/gray). Also die cut a strip of patterned paper for the inside of the card. Trim the patterned paper card into two slightly smaller pieces to fit inside the card with a thin gray border around them. Before adhering the patterned paper inside the card, first cover the three circle windows with scraps of clear transparency. Glue the patterned paper inside the card, lining up the circle cut-outs.
  2. Die cut the snowman body and base pieces from orange glitter cardstock. Use the HOW TO BEHEAD A SNOWMAN instruction file (found in the sidebar of or by direct download here: Download How to Behead the Snowman to convert the snowman into a single ball pop-up. Construct the ball pop-up and use Zip Dry to add the base piece to the bottom of the ball. Decorate the pumpkin with triangle eyes cut from scraps of black cardstock and colored with pencils to resemble candy corn. Also cut a stem from a scrap of green cardstock and ink the edges with brown ink. Die cut a Swirly from scraps of green cardstock and use a portion for a vine. Punch holes across the front sections of the pumpkin and string black ribbon through for a mouth. Tie knots in the ends of the ribbon to keep it in place.
  3. Cut out the Candy Corn Ladybird image and glue her to the pumpkin as shown. Use Zip Dry to attach the base of the pop-up in the fold of the card. Reinforce the connection with two small mini-brads in the diagonal folds.
  4. For the front of the card, cut out the following collage images: witch, both masks, black bat wings. If using a digital download copy of the collage sheet, use a "flip horizontal" command in a photo editing program or with a printer setting to print a mirror image copy of the collage sheet. Cut out the same two masks and bat wings from the mirror image copy. Mat the witch image in black cardstock and then in orange glitter cardstock and glue her to the front of the card, covering the brad prongs from step 3. Add the masks and bat wings around the windows. Add the decorative brad to the front of the card as shown, elevating it with a pop-dot. Make sure that the brad prongs are oriented vertically inside the card so they can be covered with the ribbon.
  5. Open the card and add a strip of ribbon to the left side, covering the brad prongs. Now add the mirror-image masks and bat wings to the inside of the windows. Punch three circles from the scraps of orange glitter cardstock and glue them to the right side of the card so they will be seen through the windows. Add cardstock-scrap faces and stems to the top and bottom circles, arranging the eyes so they will be behind the masks when the card is closed. Use scraps of Swirly for vines. Glue the cauldron image to the center circle and add two googly eyes. Add a strip of ribbon.
  6. Wrap a loop of black cord elastic around the front brad and pull it tight to the back of the card. Trap the ends with a large eyelet set through the card.
  7. Die cut candy corn from scraps of glitter orange cardstock, yellow and white cardstocks. Piece the candy corn together and glue them randomly to the card background. Add the "Her favorite color is candy corn." saying.
  8. The finished card can be mailed in a standard A2 envelope.

Happy Halloween!

14 years + 2 days

My wedding anniversary was two days ago but it's been a jam-packed couple of days, so I didn't get a chance to post.

Fourteen years (and two days) and he still keeps me laughing.

A couple of weeks ago we got our first cold snap. I was warm on the couch under my Snuggie (see this post for Snuggie history) but John seemed chilly. He asked if the pilot light on the fireplace was lit. It wasn't, but I jumped up and lit it, because really, you feel almost guilty for your warmth and happiness in a Snuggie when so much of the world (including your husband) is going without.

I love watching TV stretched out on the floor, pillow behind my head, in front of the fireplace. This was my first opportunity in several months, so I gleefully grabbed my pillow and started to get comfy when somehow (and don't ask me how because I don't know) I managed to brush the top of my bare toes against the glass on the fireplace.

There was a sizzle heard round the world.

OK, perhaps that was an exaggeration, but I did burn the top of a toe and it hurt like crazy, yo!

ME:  Owww! Oooooooh! Owwwwww! I burnt my foot! Owwwwww!

JOHN: Put some ice on it.

I'm not sure at what year of marriage the ship-of-fetching-ice-for-your-burnt-foot-wife sails, but apparently it has, indeed, sailed. I hobbled to the fridge, put some ice in a baggie, and hobbled back to the couch.

ME: Well at least it hurts. That's a good sign, right? Only first degree burns hurt.

JOHN: Actually, I think second degree burns hurt, too. Is it blistering?

ME: Let me look. (wince) Ouch. (wince) I can't tell. It's just all red and throbby. I'll keep icing it.

And then we settled in to watching our shows. I was, of course, fidgeting and adjusting my ice pack throughout the next hour. There was probably some light whimpering, too. Did I mention that it HURT?!

ME: (removing the ice pack) I just don't get it. It's been an hour with constant ice and this thing still hurts like crazy. I mean, what IS that?!

JOHN: (looking very concerned) Is it . . .

. . . wussiness?

Now in the sitcom-version of this story the Karen-character would have shot him a withering look, but the real-life Karen-character burst out laughing. Because he's funny, that's why!

The other night we had "search the fridge and eat whatever looks still edible" leftover night and John and Karl were splitting the remains of the tortilla soup. With apparently no regard for leeching plastic or proper microwave usage, John heated up the leftovers in a plastic container with the lid sealed tight. I knew nothing of this until I walked into the kitchen just as he removed the steaming hot container and proceeded to peel up the lid.

JOHN:  Owww! Oooooooh! Owwwwww! That steam is hot! (shaking hand in the air) Yow- hey! Why are you smiling?

ME: Oh, was I? Sorry. I was just thinking of what they call those steam burns. I think they're called . . . wussiness! (comic pause) BAZINGA!

JOHN: The "bazinga" was implied.

We actually celebrated our anniversary last Friday night, when Better than Ezra was playing up in Denver. We used to go see BTE in college, when they'd play at bars in New Orleans. In fact, standing in the audience, feeling like the only people older than me were the band members themselves, who, naturally, still look young and hip, I was transported back nearly 20 years, dancing and singing along at the Howlin' Wolf. And I actually can't remember a single time that I saw BTE play without John there. In general we have different tastes in music - I'm "Sirius Hits One" and he's "Lithium" - but we have BTE and Indigo Girls in common. We had "The Power of Two" play at our wedding.

We decided not to do presents this year, but I couldn't resist a gag gift. Karl and I went to Walgreens and picked John out a leopard-print Snuggie of his very own. Because I know how unmercifully his friends would tease him, I have elected (out of love) not to take any incriminating photos of the Snuggie in use, but let's just say . . . it was really cold last night (there's snow on the ground this morning) and there was quite a lot of good Thursday-night TV. Just sayin'!

Here's the card I made for him:

(click to make it bigger)Snuggie Anniversary Card

I guess I can still make him laugh, too!

John card blog

John snuggie

RKQOTD (Karl: Hey Mom - I heard about a study they did on dogs and pet owners to determine how many germs there are when a dog licks you. Apparently there are a lot more germs and bacteria on a human's skin than in a dog's mouth. Me: Oh really? Karl: Yeah, so the one that really ought to be scared is the dog!)

Stampin' Up project - Box full o' trees!

There is some sort of explosion box fever going around, methinks! I keep this little box of ideas above my computer. I scrawl little things I might want to try on scraps of paper and post-it notes and then shove them in the box. And then, naturally, I never ever look in the box, because I forget it's there.

But one of the little notes in the box was to make a box - an explosion box - and put a pop-up on each of the four folds so that they would all explode open together. Only I never tried it, because I forgot all about that idea.

And then Holle mentioned a cool explosion box project that Kirsteen made with the tree in the center, which made me think about my idea because I needed to make a SU! project to be a door prize at a charity crop on Saturday. But I knew that the trees were going to crash into each other when the box was closed unless I made a ginormous box, and really - who would want to win a giant explosion box as a door prize?

Good ideas don't die, though, they fester!

Because on Monday Bonnie and I went to the craft store and I saw a box with tapered sides, which got me thinking that if I made my explosion box with tapered sides, then the trees wouldn't have to fold as far into the box, which might just mean that I could get four of them in a reasonably-sized box.

It worked on the first try, yo! This box measures 6x6 at the bottom, 7.75x7.75 at the top, and is 6 inches tall. I made the box out of mat board so it would be sturdy and then covered it with patterned paper and cardstock.

(click to make it bigger)SU Four Trees in a Box 

All of the trees are made with half Old Olive and half Always Artichoke. I wanted a consistent color palette, (nothing too wild or crazy, since this is for a prize) so I chose to decorate them all with variations of white, silver, and a touch of red. A little mini light strand spans from tree to tree, making it look exactly like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree lot (minus the sad little tree, which I totally would have added if this weren't for someone else who may or may not share my weird sense of humor)

So that's my box. Thanks to Kirsteen who (unbeknownst to her) inspired me to dig that idea out of the box. And thanks for Bonnie for taking me to the craft store and (unbeknownst to her) solving my crashing trees conundrum.

And thanks to Mary because (unbeknownst to both of us) we were both working on explosion boxes simultaneously and that has to affect the cosmic mojo forces of the universe for the greater creative good, or something. I found out about Mary's project when she e-mailed me earlier tonight to ask the dimensions of the tree to see if it would fit in her box. You can see Mary's awesome project here.

So there ya go. Boxes are exploding left and right! Oh, and here's a visual to show just how tight those trees are crammed in there. I wouldn't go any smaller than a 6x6 base if you try this idea. You might even want to increase the taper and give them a wee bit more room!

Box no lid

RKQOTD (Karl: I was trying to explain to Gram on the phone how to do that thing with her computer but she kept getting confused. John: Oh yeah? You couldn't get her to understand what you were saying? Karl: Well I tried to keep it as simple as possible, but it was no use.)