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Warm Winter Wishes ~ Pop 'n Cuts & Copics

01 Owl Closed
My friend Kelly Booth, who I blame entirely for the fortune I have spent on Copic Markers in the last few weeks, seems to think that she can make it all up to me by sending me an awesome Pop 'n Cuts Christmas Card and an adorable Art Impressions Whoots Beanie Owl stamp.

And she is correct!

For this card I wanted to see if I could combine my new love of Copic-colored stamped images with my addiction to patterned paper without the items over-competing. I chose this cute tree paper from Echo Park and cut the Label Pop 'n Cuts from it. I also put a scrap of purple cardstock over just the label portion of the die and cut a second label. I used a craft knife to cut away the interior of that second label, leaving me just a purple frame that I glittered and glued over the pop-up to frame it and provide contrast from the background.

02 Owl Open
I colored the owl with Copics as follows: Body: C1, C3, C5 and C7 plus I think I added just a little bit of a light blue, like BG10, Hat: BV000, BV01, BV08, Beak & Claws: YR04, YR18, and Twig: E11, E27, E29

03 Owl Closeup
I used pop-dots to add him to the front of the pop-up. After seeing Shelly's magnificent New Years Card, I warned her that I would be copying her wire twists pronto! And I did!

For the snowflakes at the end of the wire twists, I used a Hero Arts Stamps+Framelits set and added a few ECD glitter dots to each one.

04 Owl Interior
The "Let it Snow" stamp is a 1997 Stampendous stamp that I'm fairly sure is retired. I stamped it in black over a portion of patterned paper that included a snowflake. I then cut around the snowflake with a craft knife and then, because apparently I love fussy cutting, I matted it in purple!

I always complete my card interiors first and then try to create a simple "lead in" for the front of the card. My philosophy is that with pop-up cards, the interior is where the magic is, and it is also the way the card will most likely be displayed. I make relatively simple card fronts so as not to double my work.

However, I spent a little extra time on this card front because I wanted to create a background using a metal snowflake charm. I started by coating the charm with Pearl paint:

06 Brayer HowTo1

Next, I rolled a clean brayer over the charm. It picked up the paint and kept the texture.

07 Brayer HowTo2

I rolled the brayer over my cardstock a few times. The paint transfers one pretty good image and then maybe one or two more faint ones before drying on the brayer. No need to clean it, simply repeat the process with the snowflake in another section of the brayer. Continue this process a few times until you get a background you like. Once the background is complete, then pop the head off the brayer and clean it in the sink with soap and water.

08 Brayer HowTo3

Once the paint dried on the metal charm, I sanded off the top to reveal some coppery veins and added a glitter dot. The rest of the card front is a Bigz Fancy Frame piece with the interior cut away with a craft knife just like for the card interior. The "Warm Winter Wishes" stamp is an older Stampin' Up! stamp.

05 Owl Front Details

In other news, the kids are into their second day of finals. Karl got to come home early today because he exempted his English final. Emma is at her Biology final. They really liked the triple clue we did on Sunday, so I've decided to do another triple tomorrow. Hiding clues and blogging every third day is much more manageable!

I listened to a lot of Christmas music while making this card and I am starting to feel (gasp) less "stressed-about-all-the-stuff-on-my-list" and more "fa-la-la-la-la!"

If I was a true friend I would send the card to Kelly, and I will . . . .after CHA! Ha!

Happy Holidays!

00 Winter Owl PNC Card

Christmas Clues 2012: Days 14, 15 & 16 - it's a triple!

I think it's fair to say that I'm not doing nearly as good or timely a job with these clues this year. It's been a busy month.

Friday was a devastating day for our country and I found myself unable to do much more than cry over the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school. We've talked it over as a family and the kids are coping, but it's hard to make sense of the incomprehensible.

By Sunday we were ready to start the clue hunt again, but I was three days behind. I came up with an idea. I told the kids we would catch up all three clues, so they should start with #14.

35 Clue14 36 Read14
KARL: Where are there a lot of boxes?

EMMA: The garage!

They went out to the garage, where my boxhoarding had reared its ugly head again.

ME: I'm impressed that you're willing to look through that giant mound of boxes, but I don't think I want to document it with a photo for my blog. Too embarrassing!

KARL: Is the money out here?

ME: Nope.

Side note - this morning I took my trusty box cutter to the garage and broke down the entire stack and hauled it to the curb just as the recycling truck rolled up. The boxes are gone! (Well, for now)

Back to the clue hunt.

EMMA: Where else are there boxes?

KARL: In the coat closet there are a few. We haven't played with chalks in years, though, so it would have to be a really old box.

ME: Hmmm, so YOU haven't played with chalks in years, huh?

EMMA: No, we haven't.

ME: Right. YOU haven't played with chalks. YOU!

EMMA: (lightbulb moment) Come on, Karl - it's in Mom's office.

37 Boxes
It actually didn't take them long to locate the box labeled CHALKS. 

EMMA: Here it is.

ME: Wait! Open it there on the corner where the mess isn't visible in the background. Slide a little to your left . . . OK, there.

38 Find14
They did not find any money in the box.

They found Clue #15! Bwaa haa haa! They were surprised.

39 Clue15

KARL: Do we have any bird cages in the house?

EMMA: There's the cage in my room that has Hedwig in it.

They ran upstairs to Emma's room.

40 Look15
No luck.

EMMA: But this is the only bird cage.

ME: Well, what does "abode" mean?

KARL: Home. Or house. 

EMMA: Didn't you make Mom a bird house in wood shop, Karl?

They tore downstairs to my office. The birdhouse is up on top of the cabinets, so I spared them getting a stepladder by announcing that it wasn't there.

EMMA: Hey - don't we have little birdhouse ornaments on the tree?

41 Find15
They succesfully located the final clue #16:

42 Clue16
I really felt like this was a gimme, so I was very surprised when they flopped onto the couch, stumped.

What's most interesting about this photo is that, tech-savvy as we are, somehow we still need three remotes to control all the options for our TV!

43 Ponder16
ME: What is the clue referring to?

KARL: A solar eclipse.

ME: A solar what?

EMMA: eclipse.

ME: What's that you say?


EMMA: (sitting up suddenly) Karl, Mom's digital cutter is called an eclips!

44 Find16
They thought it was pretty cool to find all the money for three day's worth of clues in one spot. I did take a victory shot but it was blurry, so you'll just have to use your imagination.

Emma is once again donating all of her money to charity and decided tonight to give what she's earned so far to Project for Awesome 

I'll leave you with this little tidbit from dinner tonight. 

EMMA: Are you playing Words with Friends again, Mom?

ME: Yes. Aurgh! Jennifer just beat me. I guess I'm not the second-best in the world. Shocker!

JOHN: How about instead of "Words with Friends" you play "Dinner with Family"?

KARL: The graphics are awesome but the story line is horrible.

Christmas Clues 2012: Days 12 & 13 - it's a double!

You know how sometimes a week just slams into you? This was one of those weeks. Any week that finds me driving into the city three days in a row . . . that's a busy one!

26 City
Tuesday's jaunt into the city was to ride along to a Doctor's appointment for John just in case he reacted to a procedure that would require a driver. No reaction. No need for me to tag along, although it's always entertaining to spend an afternoon with John. 

ME: (yelling at driver on highway who won't let me merge) Let me in! Why are you speeding up?! Don't you see I have my turn signal on? (muttering) You can go straight to hell.

JOHN: I think your turn signal is the problem. You're not supposed to warn them that you're coming over. (pause) Did you just damn that guy to hell?

ME: (grinning) I was mad. You know, I can see how people who have to drive in this stuff every day develop road rage.

JOHN: You think?! You've been in it for 10 minutes and you're already sending people to eternal damnation. Good thing that's not in your purview.

ME: Well yes, because it is not in my purview I can use a phrase like "go to hell" more loosely. Obviously I would take much greater care if . . . (almost cut off by signal-less lane changer) OH NO YOU DID NOT JUST DO THAT!!

Speaking of John, we went back down to the city on Wednesday to help him clean out his office. Well, technically it's a cubicle now. Since his company was acquired last spring they've been making a ton of changes trying to merge the two companies. They just moved people from offices into cubies last week. John didn't mind, since he was leaving and would need to pack up his office anyway. 

Today is his final day of work. Eleven years he's been there, but the merge hasn't been an easy one. A lot of people have left for better opportunities and John is no exception. He will start a new job next week and we are all excited for him. 

27 John Office
ME: What on earth are you wearing?

JOHN: It's my Work Cardigan. I keep it here for when it gets chilly.

ME: Do you also have a pair of slippers?

JOHN: Yeah, yeah, join the club. Lots of people call me Mr. Rogers, or an old man, but their lips are blue while they're mocking.

EMMA: Dad, I have a word to describe your office . . . crushing monotony!

JOHN: Ha! Not a fan, huh?

EMMA: Why is everything the same color? It's all beige. As far as the eye can see.

She has a point. I had the same reaction the first time I saw it, and was shocked to hear that they had won some awards for office decor. 

After packing up John's office we headed over to BBVA Compass Stadium to see the US Women's Soccer team take on China. John was excited to see one of the Fox Soccer announcers that he watches all the time on TV.

28 Fox Soccer
It was an awesome game! Our seats were at one end of the field, so we could watch Hope Solo warming up and had a pretty good view of the game overall.

29 Hope Solo

30 US Women

I'll include this next photo even though it's blurry. I didn't bring my SLR camera because I wasn't sure if I would be allowed to bring it in. I saw plenty of people with cameras, though, so it would have been fine. Still, it was much more fun to watch the game than to take photos. However, I did pull out my iPhone to take a picture of a corner kick at our end of the field and managed to capture (just trust me) Carly Lloyd's header for another US goal. 

31 Lloyd Goal
The final score was US 4, China 0. We felt a little bad for China, but it was exciting to see all those US goals. 

We got home very late and of course there was no time for clues, so I told the kids we'd do a double on Thursday. 

  22 Clue12 23 Read12

EMMA: What could this be?

KARL: Maybe it's a lunch bag. We only use those on school days.

EMMA: But what about the "wearing your fruit" part?

KARL: Because if you didn't have a lunch bag you'd have to carry everything.

EMMA: What does that have to do with a suit?

KARL: Because suits don't have pockets!

EMMA: Yes, they do!

KARL: No, I'm pretty sure they don't. Well anyway, it's worth a try. Let's go check the lunch bags.

And check he did! I can see that Karl is learning to be more diligent in his search methods. He pulled out the whole stack and checked every one!

24 Look12
Next they started discussing the fruit angle. 

KARL: Well in my lunch I have applesauce . . .

EMMA: And in my lunch I have craisins . . .

KARL: Maybe it's a sandwich bag! 

EMMA: But you don't put applesauce in a sandwich bag, Karl, just the craisins.

ME: But sometimes you have Mandarin Oranges, Emma.

Karl checked the oranges.

ME: So let's say that Karl gets applesauce and you get oranges . . .

EMMA: We'll need a plastic spoon!

25 Find12

25 Victory12
They had agreed that Karl would read the Day 12 Clue and Emma would handle Day 13.

32 Clue13
33 Read13
Now I should preface this by saying that I wrote this clue after the installation earlier in the day of our new superfast DSL. I upgraded to the highest plan offered by our phone company and it required a technician doing some work to the lines outside and doing some work inside as well. He installed a fancy new router with CAT5 lines and before he left he had me test out the speed. Lightning fast! Awesome.

We had been sufferening maddening dropouts on our previous plan. YouTube videos were taking hours to upload and if one of the dropouts occured in the middle - restart the upload. Too frustrating!

However, in the time between writing this clue and the kids opening it, the internet slowed down to a snail's pace and if all three of us were online at once, nobody could do anything! So now I have to have the technician back today to fix it.

Thusly, this clue was a bit of a dud.

And of course Emma figured it out right away.

KARL: What's that word that starts with D? It's smudged away from the wax.

EMMA: Dropouts. It says dropouts. "a thing of the past" - OH! It's the new internet router, Karl.

They ran to my office faster than I could chase them.

ME: (panting) Hey! Put that money back and find it again, I wasn't ready with the camera.

EMMA: And will you explain on your blog that this photo was staged?

ME: As you wish.

34 Find13

ME: Karl, I'm surprised you didn't notice the very professional wax seals on both these clues!

KARL: I did see that, but I really only feel the need to comment when something is done poorly.

Yeah, we know!

I didn't even mention the other big time suck of this week. Yesterday, while driving the kids to school, my van started making a "this-doesn't-sound-good" noise. (It's a technical term) We had purchased an extended warranty for the van and, as luck would have it, that warranty is good for two more months! Although the van was drivable, the warranty people wanted to tow it, just to avoid any further damage. 

This wouldn't have been a big deal at all, other than the slight complication that we had forgotten to pick John's truck up from the Park 'n Ride lot when returning from the game Wednesday night.

Our plan was for me to simply give John a ride to the bus Thursday morning.

Except my van broke down.

And we found ourselves trapped, sans vehicle.

Since the internet technician was still at the house, John rode with the tow truck driver to the dealership and picked up a rental car. I then had to drive him downtown to his office because he couldn't catch a bus that late.

I may or may not have taken a return route via Texas Art Supply to check out their Copic Marker selection. I may (or may not) have picked up the grays required to attempt to duplicate Kelly's awesome snowman hat shading. I may (or may) have a slight Copics addiction.

Emma arrived home from school first, walking right past the rental car and into the house.

EMMA: Hi Mom.

ME: Hi Em. How was school?

EMMA: Good! I got a 94 on my Biology quiz!

ME: Awesome! 

A few minutes later Karl walked in.

KARL: Is someone visiting?

ME: No. Why?

KARL: There's a strange car in the driveway.

ME: I wondered if either of you would notice! It's a rental. The van's in the shop. Emma didn't even notice!

EMMA: I did too notice! I just thought Ms. Gretchen was over or something.

Gretchen doesn't drive a white car and the van was missing, so I'm not sure that really counts as true detecting, but Emma did solve the #13 clue very quickly, so I give her a pass.

As for trips to the city - not today! WHOOT!

Merry Copics-for-Christmas to me!

I resisted for a VERY long time, but it was getting a Thank-you Card in the mail from Kelly that put me over the edge.

Obviously I needed to discover what this whole Copic Marker craze was all about. 

I'd used them in a couple of workshops and admired the beautiful things people colored with them, but told myself that I didn't need another addiction and certainly not a spendy one.

I was wrong.

Pop-ups, shmop-ups - I just want to color stuff! Ha ha - just kidding.

I want to do both!

Owl Christmas Closed

Owl Christmas Open

Now I know I have a lot to learn about shading, but I watched one of Kelly's videos and paid attention when both Kelly and Debra told me I had to use colors that were in the same family. Plus, I spent years coloring my stamped images with pencils, so the properties of choosing light spots is pretty similar.

Overall I am very pleased with my first creation! Plus, the colors are so striking that the rest of the card can really be very minimal. Everything I tried to add to this card's interior just seemed to detract. 

Also, I didn't actually write down which exact combination of colors I used on these, but it's not like a have a huge collection, so the browns on the owl are E11/13 and E27/29, the blues are in the BG02 to BG18 vicinity, and the greens are YG's - mid range, like 06-17ish. I used the Memento Tuxedo Black ink as instructed by my mentors and some thick rough watercolor paper I found in my stash (round ornaments and owl) and Stampin' Up! white for the pointy ornaments. The ornaments were just to practice and play with different papers, but then I liked them so well that I had to make a quick card. 

You may think, because of the sentiment, that I made this card for John. Au contraire! I was thinking of my Copics! Ha ha.

Whoops! Forgot to put the Elizabeth Craft Designs glitter stickers on my supply list, below.

Owl Christmas Card

Christmas Clues 2012: Day 11 - WORDS! What are they good for?

Apologies for not having this up last night. Yesterday ended up being jam-packed with shuttling people around. But now the house is quiet, the coffee's hot, and I can properly type up yesterday's clue.

If you recall, we are doing the clues after school since Emma is still playing catch-up. They have finals next week, so she's going to tutorials before school and after school each day and it's much too chaotic to cram in a clue during our limited morning time.

However, after I've made the coffee and packed the lunches, I will sometimes have a few minutes to catch up on my Words with Friends games. I do this at the breakfast table on my iPad. Emma was eating cereal.

ME: Danday!

This was said like Seinfeld says "Newman!" with a fist shake and everything.

EMMA: Huh?

ME: It's Danday. She always beats me at Words with Friends.

EMMA: Well maybe now you know what it feels like when other people play against you at games.

ME: True, I do normally win against everyone else.

She has a point. Nobody will play Boggle with me.

But here's the thing. I'm not a Boggle prodigy. I am good at Boggle from years of practice as a teenager. My Aunt Linda and cousin Jackie loved the game as much as I did. Aunt Linda's dining room would be eerily silent for 3 minutes while we each feverishly created our word lists, then break into an explosion of sound when someone called "time", lists were compared, groans were heard when good words overlapped and had to be crossed, and congratulations granted (and sometimes "prove it!" challenges) when someone found a really big unique word. Points were totaled, the lid put on the shaker, and then the insanely loud process of shaking and settling the dice commenced. You weren't supposed to cheat and peer through the frosted dome while the dice were being settled, but I suspect that we all did, a time or two. 

ME: (quoting The Princess Bride) It's not easy being the biggest and the strongest. I don't even exercise!

EMMA: I'm sure there are plenty of people who can beat you - they just don't play Words with Friends.

ME: No, I'm pretty sure it's the first thing - where I'm the best in the world. Well, other than Danday, that is. I'm number 2.

EMMA: Mom, there are billions of people on the planet.

ME: Exactly. And someone has to be the best at Words with Friends. You're proving my point. I mean, someone's luggage has to come out first on the baggage carousel and that is NEVER me, so obviously MY thing is being better than billions of people (minus Danday) at Words with Friends.

EMMA: (eye roll) Riiiight!

I'm not a Words prodigy either. One of my computers, maybe a decade ago, came pre-loaded with Scrabble where you could play against the computer. I *am* a procrastination prodigy, so of course I learned lots of clever plays from the computer. Things you can do with "Q" when you don't have a "U" - things like that. I had no idea at the time that I was actually training for a not-yet-developed app called Words with Friends.

I don't use any sort of Words cheats, although *some* of my Friends *cough*Gary*cough* play some highly suspicious words that they cannot seem to define when challenged in the chat box. No worries - I still try to win. Maybe I learn a new word in the process. It's like having the benefit of the cheat apps without paying for them! (So there!)

Speaking of words (the segues!) I was particularly proud of my poetry in yesterday's clue:

17 Clue11
18 Read11
KARL: What is WITH these sloppy seals?!

OK, so I bought the cool wax seal kit at the start of these clues 5 years ago, son. The wax things are down to nubs and the wicks won't light. I have to light the whole glob on fire and in this case, the clue itself was momentarily ablaze. I will go in search of a candle for today's clue before I burn the house down, 'mmkay?

I love the irony of this next picture, in which they had no idea what they were looking for, despite the hiding spot being right in front of them.

19 Ponder11
KARL: I guess it could be some sort of decoration? What provides comfort?

EMMA: Yeah, but you don't hold the decorations. This has to be something you hold.

KARL: Shares a birthday with Jesus . . . 

EMMA: Wait! Karl, which one of the dogs has her birthday on Christmas Day?

KARL: It's Katie. Lucy's birthday is in October.

20 Find11
EMMA: How could the money be attached to her?

KARL: It's twist-tied to the collar. I got it.

ME: Well done! Your detecting skills are improving. Sit in the chair there and I'll get your victory shot. You ready? Ready, Emma? I'm going to take the picture now. Ready?

21 Success11

John asked to see the clue.

JOHN: Shouldn't it be "she"?

ME: Only if I wanted to make it totally obvious! Might as well just put the money inside the envelope!

JOHN: I guess . . . but calling the dog an "it"?

ME: "this thing" was too many syllables.

Christmas Clues 2012: Day 10 - Making spirits bright! (only not!)

12 Clue10

Emma went back to school today! She's on three prescriptions, but no more fever. Still, to catch up she'll need to attend tutorials before and after school for most of the week, so there was no time for a clue this morning. In fact, I'm sure I'll be posting in the evening this whole week.

Knowing that I had all day to get the money hidden and clue prepared I naturally waited until both kids were home from school and Karl was dangerously nearby.

There are plenty of jingle bells around the house right now - a wreath on the dining room table, a few ornaments on the tree, and, if they were at all observant, this tree:

13 BellTree
I was crouched down putting the money in the jingle bell when Karl appeared in the hall. As luck would have it, I am not always good about putting things away. I had done some cleaning earlier and the cleaning spray was within arm's reach so I quickly grabbed it and squirted the table to "explain" my presence.

ME: Gosh! I cleaned this room today but already there's more dog hair.

KARL: (disinterested and obviously not listening) Where does it come from?

ME: The dogs. It comes from the dogs.

KARL: (turns corner into the kitchen) Uh huh.

I have no idea why I thought he would clue-in and notice me crouching by the table. Earlier I was mopping the dining room floor and listening to some festive holiday tunage. I started singing "Oh the weather outside is frightful . . ." and Karl just abruptly got up and walked out of the room!

ME: Where are you going?

KARL: I'm pretty sure you're about to do something embarrassing, like maybe dancing with that mop, and I don't want to witness it.

ME: As if! I am MOPPING, quite seriously, thank you very much!


He returned, sat down, put his headphones in, and stared at the screen.

One time at school they were doing some testing with Karl and his powers of observation. One guy was engaging Karl in a conversation while the other sat at the table quietly. He then removed his shoe, tapped it on the table, placed it on his ear, tossed it in the air, etc., and Karl never noticed.

COUNSELOR: Karl, did you see Mr. Johnson doing anything odd while we were talking?

KARL: Who's Mr. Johnson?

MR. JOHNSON: I'm Mr. Johnson. We met 10 minutes ago.


So you can imagine that there was never much chance that Karl would notice me dancing with the mop. 

There were Rockettes kicks, Elvis moves, everything I could think to get his attention, and he never looked up.

I finally just gave up on the housework, because if the only fringe benefit is 10 minutes without dog hair and nothing more tangible, like groans, eye rolls and "MOM!" from a kid, well then . . . why bother? Heh.

14 Read10
Emma was slightly annoyed that he always removes the seal. He compromised and let her read the clue first.

As usual, they didn't properly decipher the first two lines. They assumed it meant snow, or maybe decorations, and tore around looking at all the decorations.

ME: Hey! Have you learned nothing? Read the first two lines again - to what do they refer?

KARL: (reads) Jingle Bells?

EMMA: Well we don't have jingle bells in this house. Except for that tree over there.

She picked it up and gave a cursory look and put it back.

Next they checked the jingle bell wreath in the dining room. No luck.

ME: You have actually been blazing hot to the money already.

The returned to the original jingle bell tree and looked a little closer.

15 Look

16 Success
After they finished the clue I reminded Emma that it was time for her cough medicine. She is an absolute wimp when it comes to foul-tasting liquid medicines. She was very put-out by them prescribing a liquid and attempted to tell me that she was *cough* no longer *cough* in need *cough* of the medicine *cough* because *cough* her cough *cough* was all *cough* better.

ME: Come on! You're a tough girl. It's one teaspoon of a foul liquid - slurp it down and chase it with juice.

EMMA: It is sooo disgusting, though! The worst thing ever!

ME: Not the worst thing ever. What about the stuff they have to eat on Survivor? 

EMMA: That would taste better.

ME: So you're saying you'd rather eat some exotic bug than that cough medicine?

EMMA: No, I'm saying the bug would TASTE BETTER, not that I would actually eat it.


Christmas Clues 2012: Day 9 - be kind, please rewind!

KARL: Wow. This is a very sloppy wax seal.

Thanks, son. Critical much? He was right, though, I was trying to use up the last of the red wax and nearly burnt my fingers. 

KARL: I can't even read this. The wax seeped inside.

OK, OK, we get that it's not my finest seal.

EMMA: Let me see that. (grabs) The word is "etiquette" Karl.

07 Read9
06 Clue9
They read the clue and were very stumped. They sat on the barstools trying to think of things that were older than they were. I decided to remind them of their reference materials.

ME: You can use Google.

They looked at each other, momentarily wondering what they would Google.

KARL: Let's go look up "Be kind"

08 Google9
KARL: Hmmm. Nothing really looks right. There's a movie called "Be kind rewind" but I'm sure that's not it.

EMMA: They used to put that on tapes. (pause) Hey! TAPES!

KARL: Where are you going?

EMMA: Let's check the VHS tapes upstairs!

The went up to the guest room, where we have an old TV with integrated VCR and a bunch of old Disney movies on VHS. They looked through one drawer of tapes and then went to the second.

KARL: Do you think she would have put it inside one of these cases?

EMMA: Let's check.

Emma was messily checking cases and putting them back.

KARL: No, make an orderly stack of the ones we have checked!

09 VHS9

It looked like the device required to play these tapes was way off their radar, so I figured I'd better do a little steering.

ME: What's that for, Emma?

EMMA: (glancing down at the case in her hand, puzzled) It holds a movie, Mom.

ME: No, I didn't mean the case itself. What's in it?

EMMA: A tape?

ME: What do you do with it?

EMMA: You play it in the VHS . . . oh!

Yes, my daughter had forgotten what a VCR was even called! Sheesh.

10 FindVCR9
She found the money.

11 Money9
After posing for their victory shot Emma said "I wish the VHS still worked."

First of all, my dear daughter, it is called a VCR!

Secondly . . . WHAT?! It doesn't work? The only reason we have that relic in the guest room is in case someone wants to watch an old movie. If it doesn't work then it's time to treat the guests to a flat screen and the wonders of HD!

ME: Make sure you guys pick up all the movies and tidy up in here.

KARL: (flopping down on the bed) Emma, I'll be Management and you be Labor!

Christmas Clues 2012: Better "8" than never! The countdown begins!

I fought December and December won! I realized on November 30th that I was supposed to start the Countdown Clues with my kids *gulp* the next morning!!

Had we decorated?


Was I teaching all day the next day?


We decided to decorate on Sunday and start the clues on Monday. The kids were pretty agreeable. At age 14 they do attempt to be aloof teenagers as much as possible, but I didn't totally believe the nonchalance.

And then Emma got sick. She made it to school just 1.5 days this week and has been very miserable. It just didn't work out with Karl going to school each day while Emma was still in bed, etc. We finally agreed that we were going to call the whole week a wash and start the clues on Saturday.

I simply moved the clue that I had written for Day 3 to Day 8. I got John to send Karl upstairs to fetch something while I quickly hid the money. Then I called to the kids that the Countdown was starting.

They came running! Like, fast! I believe I even heard some squeals and "The CLUES!" as they came barreling down the stairs.

The magic lives on!

01 Clue1
Now I had warned them that I would be very sparing with the "gimmes" this year. Emma has become quite the fan of Sherlock, Elementary and Poirot - I figured her detective skills must be properly tested.

02 Read
We rearranged the furniture in our family room this year and lost our Christmas tree spot so we went for something a little unorthodox and tried the tree in the foyer. It is viewable from my office, the street, the dining room and the family room. Plus, Emma was able to add the new star to the top by simply walking up the stairs! Not sure if future years will find it here, but for this year - we like!

For those of you who did not follow last year's clues, I should mention that it's a tradition that I started with my kids about 5 years ago. In Colorado I hid trinkets - little Dollar Store toys - and each kid got their own rhyming clue, always sealed with a wax seal and tucked into the little Countdown Calendar. However, when we moved to Texas we switched to money and a single clue that they work on as a team. Each day they are playing for $2 each, half of which is required to go to charity. Last year Emma gave all of her money to charity. Karl gave half. This year seems to be shaping up similarly!

Another thing that is shaping up similarly is the way they read the clue and then speed into action without properly digesting the entire clue. I don't put in stray stuff, yo! It's all important.

KARL: ...or into flames it just might burst . . . the fireplace!

They quickly went to the fireplace and checked all the stockings.

  03 Fireplace

Another little decorating note - one of our stocking hangers came out of storage broken. The little hook at the bottom was gone. Thanks to Pinterest, I simply grabbed a curtain rod and used just two stocking holders to suspend the rod with all four stockings on it!  

After striking out at the fireplace, they discussed other places with heat and Karl checked the oven:

04 Oven
Yes, he's wearing shorts, because it's over 80 degrees here, and yes, his pocket is most sloppily untucked. He also didn't heed my request to only search places with uncluttered backdrops. The nerve!

I suggested that they needed to read the clue much more carefully and figure out what the numbers meant. They even recruited John to help them but he wasn't much help. He just looked at me and shook his head and mouthed "I have no idea!"

EMMA: The first is the 8th. OK, so today is the 8th and we're doing our first clue . . .

KARL: The second is twice the first, so that means the 16th.

They checked those doors on the Countdown Calendar.

ME: Oh! That's just a coincidence about it being the 8th of December. This clue was written for earlier in the week. The date has nothing to do with it.

They were really stumped.

JOHN: Well it's somewhere hot - we know that.

Before they took off checking stoves, microwaves and hot water taps, I figured I'd better give them all a clue.

ME: The alphabet is involved.

It took a few minutes, but then it dawned on Karl.

KARL: Emma, what's the 8th letter of the alphabet? A - B - C . . .(continues) . . it's H.

EMMA: OK, and the 16th is (uses her fingers and counts out the letters) . . . P.

KARL: So "H" and "P"

EMMA: Karl! It's the hp! 

They ran to the dining room.

KARL: But how could she hide it there? I was on the computer all day!

Truer words never spoken!

Also true - the hp could heat the house. It runs hot - always has. In fact, I'm fairly certain that heat is what ruined two previous hp's. Somehow Karl keeps it running, though, and could probably grill a cheese sandwich on it to boot!

05 hp
So today was not their finest detecting, but there's always tomorrow!

The Countdown to Christmas continues . . .

Pop[up] Spotted: These girls are on FIRE!


Do you see spots? Me too!!!

First up, a new source of inspiration, thanks to Shelly Hickox, who sent me the link to Stacy's blog. Stacy Cook has an absolute knack for finding inspiration in a piece and then "making it her own" with a lot of clever new ideas. She loved Shelly's door card, so she made her own, but added the twist of the door being aligned over a Pop 'n Cuts circle label in the closed position, so that when the whole card is opened, Santa pops up and the entire room is revealed. There are a ton of fun details in this card - you won't want to miss it!

Tracy Evans is a genius! Her ability to craft a scene by combining dies and stamping, is truly spectacular. you just get lost in her creations. I am particularly struck by how she stamped the greeting stamp from the tag onto the snowflake that is suspended on the Pop 'n Cuts Label die. Even though the greeting was too big for the snowflake, it essentially turned that greeting into a texture stamp. Although I've done all-over script stamps like this, I've never thought to use a specific greeting in this way, so that some of the words are legible and descriptive, and I will definitely be giving it a try! Click on the photo to visit her blog. The front of this card cannot be missed!

Caroline "Caz" Counsell is the Pop 'n Cuts Poinsettia whisperer! She posted this wonderful example of how to use the Poinsettia year-round by changing up the colors and styling so it becomes a generic flower. Notice the clever way she cut slits around the flower to define the petals, and the Paula Pascual butterfly die (exclusive to Europe, grrr) looks fabulous flying above the flower.

If Caz is the Poinsettia Whisperer then Karen Hudson is definitely the Accordion Album Whisperer! (These U.K. girls are tearing it up, yo!) There are several examples on her blog of the clever ways she's used the Accordion Album and companion Frame & Label Bracket dies, so you'll want to follow the link and then click forward and backwards to see the other posts using these dies. If you're lucky enough to live near Karen, you can take her classes! (Is there a bus from Houston to Kent?)

This next spot doesn't technically use any of my dies, but I just have to give a shout-out to my dear friend Gretchen (who will likely see this on her new iPad, which I think has replaced me in the BFF department) for another stunning December Daily album. I personally witnessed Gretchen planning for this project months ago, deciding on the album, papers, theme. She pre-cut all her numbers on the eclips and was very prepared for December, unlike her humanBFF (to distinguish from her electronicBFF) who simply let December sneak up on her and kick her in the hiney. The link I've provided is to her category of December Daily, so you'll be able to bookmark and follow it throughout the month. 

I have been so floored by Kelly Booth's cards that I've done two things. #1 I've asked Kelly to create a few cards for me with my brand new dies being released at Winter CHA. I'm very excited to see what she comes up with and I will have her creations with me at the show, and #2 I purchased my first Copic markers! Between Kelly and my friend Debra, I intend to become very versed in them. 

Not exactly sure why *I* get a Thank-You card when it should be me thanking Kelly for rocking my dies, but I'm not sending it back! This little beauty is on display in my office. Kelly used the Thanks Pop 'n Cuts Insert, the companion Thanks Sizzlits Set, and the Heart & Wing Movers & Shapers set on this card.

I also have to show this Kelly creation, which gives me the giggles! You have to click over and see what's behind the Door die. Kelly also used the Flagpole, Lantern & Sign Sizzlits strip.

Kelly also posted a happy whimsical Anniversary Card for her hubby. Here's what you do - you bookmark Kelly's blog and just check it every day. 

Now I am not going to say that I saved the best for last, because I love everything that everyone creates and we all have our gifts and talents, but DANG! Shelly Hickox got an unfair share of gifts and talents, yo! This star book is an absolute masterpiece. Each individual card is perfection and then she combines five cards into one magical album. Make sure you click and head over to see the video and, if you're there in time, to enter the giveaway to win two of my dies. (Coincidentally, the same two dies that Kelly used in her funny door card above) Shelly has what appears to be a complete collection of Tim Holtz dies (ha!) and has used the Pop 'n Cuts circle label to animate them. Remember that my dies can be used to animate all of your other dies, and stamps, etc. Think of them as foundation garments for your individual collections!

One last thing - do not be shy! I would love to say that I scour the internet daily looking for your creations using my products, but I am very deadline driven and I'm usually down to the wire on something. If you're thinking "it would be cool to have my project spotted!" then send me a link! Tag me on Facebook or Twitter - wave your hands in the air like you just don't care! And then forgive me if it isn't right away because (aforementioned) I'm probably hours away from a deadline. (eep!)

Pop-up 2Torial: Doublewide Pop 'n Cuts


Today I'm blogging over at the Sizzix blog with a video tutorial for a fun folding technique to double the width of your Pop 'n Cuts inserts. The video also includes a technique for cutting the Ornate Plate die twice from shrink plastic, linking the two plates together using the leaves, and then using the shrunken version as a wreath "O" in the word Noel.

The card in the video is this one. Check out the Sizzix blog to see more photos and a full supply list

05 Noel Card PNC

You can also use this fun folding technique on the four "stand-up" Pop 'n Cuts inserts (Star, Ribbon Tree, Frame, Poinsettia). Here is an example of the Ribbon Tree doubled. (More photos are on the Sizzix blog)

Doublewide Ribbon Tree

Here are the Sizzix supplies used in the two cards. For a complete supply list (you know what I'm going to say) visit the Sizzix blog!

Pssst, here's a little idea - In the case of the stand-up Pop 'n Cuts inserts, you can use two folds and TRIPLE the item, but you'll lose your negative space. Still, if you had a large card (like on a layout or mini-album) a triple star might look really cool! 

Have you been noticing all my Pop[up] Spotted posts? Wouldn't you like to be included in the next one? Send me your links to projects that use any of my dies, albums or templates - don't be shy! Oh, and they don't have to be pop-up projects - any project that incorporates any Karen Burniston product is fair game to be spotted!

Looking for more video tutorials? You have a couple of choices. The easiest is to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you'll get a notification whenever one is uploaded. From YouTube you can always find the link to the blog post so you can see the photos and supply list. Another option is to click on the category of "Pop-up 2Torials" in this blog's sidebar. That will filter all the blog posts to show you just the ones that have video tutorials. (Here's a bookmark link: Karen Burniston Pop-up 2Torials)

I also take requests! Leave me a comment below and tell me what you'd like to see next. Need some ideas for a particular die? Got a theme that has you stumped? Bring it on!

Happy Holidays! (also, don't forget to visit the, wait for it, Sizzix blog!)