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FINAL Sizzix Karen Burniston Designer Challenge - Anything Goes!

My final Sizzix Karen Burniston Designer Challenge is on the Sizzix blog today. For the challenge, I issued an Anything Goes theme - the designers could choose any Karen Burniston die to make a project of any theme, any style. The only catch was that I wanted them each to use a different Pop 'n Cuts insert or pop-up die, so the last challenge would showcase as many of my dies as possible. As it turns out, between all of the projects there are 35 different Karen Burniston dies used. How cool is that?!

Wow! They hit it out of the park! You'll definitely want to head over to the Sizzix Blog to see all their projects with links to their blog posts.

There is also a new project from me. This is the card I made for Gretchen's birthday last week. Gretchen loves coffee, the color green, Kraft colored cardstock, Alan Rickman, Adam Levine, and books, books and more books. I was able to work three of those passions into this card. (Alan Rickman was represented in her card from a few years ago, actually. See it here, in between the sock monkey and Jack Skellington: A snowman for any season)


The technique for Gretchen's birthday card is how to easily create windows in the front of Pop 'n Cuts cards that will perfectly line up with the pop-up in the closed position. This is a great way to let an image or greeting pull double-duty as both an exterior and interior decoration. You'll be able to use this technique on any of the inserts that work in a horizontal orientation. (See a list of those inserts on the Sizzix Blog Post)

Watch this video to learn how I made Gretchen's card using the Window technique:


Here are some additional photos, followed by some shopping links for the products used.








Now even though this is the final SIZZIX Designer Challenge, it is certainly not the end of the Karen Burniston Designer Challenges! We will pick back up again in February showcasing my brand new dies for Elizabeth Craft Designs. You'll see ideas from your favorite designers as well as some new designers, so definitely stay tuned for that. 

How do you stay tuned? I asked Gretchen to send me the code for a great summary of my accounts that she has posted on her blog. Thanks, G! You can also find these links in the left sidebar of this blog.

Connect with Karen Burniston


You can also join my mailing list for one e-mail a month (at most! I missed November!) summarizing all the latest Karen Burniston news, from teaching, videos, blog posts, sneak peeks, Designer Challenges, etc. Click here to join: 

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Gretchen and I went to lunch yesterday to celebrate her birthday. She liked her card and the glass bead I gave her for her new Pandora bracelet. She told me her tee-shirt was a birthday present from herself! How cool is she? (Answer - very!!!)


I'll leave you with some shopping links for the Coffee Birthday Card: 

2013 Countdown to Christmas - Day 4!


Let me just give everyone a moment to properly respect the skill it took to rhyme the word "eucalpytus". 

Thank you, thank you. No, no, enough applause. Thank you.

For this clue I wanted to test whether the kids had ever noticed the wreath hanging on the wall directly opposite the toilet in the downstairs powder room. I had a suspicion that they would be clueless. (pun intended)


The money, as you see, is in plain sight. So much so that when Emma came home from school and headed toward the powder room I stopped her and sent her upstairs on an errand. 

EMMA: Let me just go to the bathroom first.

ME: You have a bathroom upstairs.

Yes, I did that. But the magic must be maintained!

It wouldn't have mattered, as it turns out, but I'm getting ahead of myself.


I almost didn't include the photo of them reading the clue. Do I really need 25 similar photos of them reading clues? But as I looked at it, I could see the thickness of Karl's glasses, and the sparkly saxophone necklace I gave Emma last week "just because". In the future we might marvel at when glasses had to be that thick for nearly-blind nearsighted kids like Karl, and Emma might remember that necklace fondly. I decided to include the photo.

After Karl read the clue out loud Emma looked up toward the landing.

EMMA: I bet it's that fake plant upstairs!

Up the stairs they went. They did not find it there, nor in the fake plant in the guest room.


They wandered around the house a little, looking for plants. I had expected them to Google an image of  eucalyptus but I guess they were content to just check every plant in the house.

At least they knew that eucalyptus was a plant.

Karl checked the laundry room, which made Emma laugh because she knew there weren't any plants in there. I reminded them of the clue's mentioning seeing it every day, so perhaps they should concentrate on areas of the house that they were in every day.

They looped through the dining room and were heading back toward the kitchen when Karl paused at the powder room. I sprang into action to get over there with my camera, but they turned out the light and started leaving.

EMMA: Wait! Mom rushed over here with her camera, Karl. It's got to be in here!


The powder room is tiny, as you can tell. They examined everything except the wall behind Emma, where the wreath is hung.

They switched places (did I mention the room is tiny?) so Karl could examine the same three walls as Emma.

They started to leave the room.

ME: Oh come ON!

That's when they finally thought to close the door and look at the wall behind it.



EMMA: Wow! Did you fold these dollars into little elephants?

ME: I did.

EMMA: Awesome!

Uh oh! I better not have started a new tradition. If they expect origami dollars every day I'll never get anything else done!



I learned how to fold the elephants here: Origami Elephant




I mentioned to Karl that I wasn't going to be able to fold the dollars into origami animals every day and he said "I guess you like folding stuff because you're a paper crafter, huh? We'll probably have some family night of napkin folding or something. Any excuse to fold stuff."


And YES!

I'll leave you with a conversation from this morning.

KARL: I had the strangest dream last night. Emma had an iPad but it got crushed by an anvil. We had to call in some repairmen, who looked like Russian Mafia. So they kidnapped me and took the iPad!

ME: Well . . . the iPad was crushed by an anvil, so it was useless.

KARL: (dismissively) Yeah. Anyway, I had to have an elaborate escape plan with a chase scene and I was driving underage and the steering wheel was on the U.K. side!

JOHN: Ah, the classic "iPad crushed by anvil/chased by Russian Mafia" dream - very common.

Here's a somewhat crummy photo of Emma from last night's Holiday Concert. I was too far away.



Tune in tomorrow for Clue #5!

2013 Countdown to Christmas - Day 3!

Emma suggested making the Clues an after-school activity rather than a morning activity so things wouldn't be rushed. We all agreed. Here is today's clue:





Now I knew that they would not be at all stumped by this clue. They know where the dog brushes are kept - in the junk drawer in the kitchen.

And sure enough, to the kitchen they went.



Karl seemed shocked that when he opened the drawer, the money wasn't just sitting on top like an Easter egg. (Please! They're FIFTEEN!)

KARL: It's not here. I guess we have to dig for it.

He spotted the baggie of Box Tops with some money inside.

KARL: Here it is. Oh wait - it's only one dollar!



EMMA: Oh! We need to look at the clue again. It says a brush for dogs . . . (grabs dog brush), a brush for lint . . .(grabs lint brush)

KARL: Wait - isn't one "a deck of cards"?

He opened the cards and found the second dollar. 




Please note that in the photo above, Emma is actually holding the spool of thread in her hand, rewinding the thread and paying no attention to the tightly rolled dollar that is sticking out the end.

EMMA: We need to look for random tools.

ME: What's in your hand?

EMMA: A spool of thread, but there's no dollar.

KARL:(glancing over) It's right here! (pulls dollar from the end of the spool)

EMMA: (sheepishly) Oh.



They started taking everything out of the drawer looking for the final dollar. Karl started opening something excitedly.

EMMA: Karl, that's not in the clue. It's gum.

KARL: I know! There's one piece left!

EMMA: Aww. Split it with m-

Karl shoved the whole piece in his mouth. (Spirit! So much Christmas spirit!)



Notice the kitchen island filling up with items from the junk drawer. They found an old iPod and some other treasures and finally, at the bottom of the drawer, a binder clip with the final dollar.

Now here's where the Christmas miracle happened.

Brace yourselves.

EMMA: OK, Karl, let's clean this up. Put the big items back first.



I just stood there in shock!

Now granted, it wasn't the most orderly put-back. Emma took on more of a management role while Karl was the labor. He got everything in and then realized he hadn't added the screwdriver or candle lighter. He shoved them on top and forced the drawer closed.

And then, as you might guess, the screwdriver blocked the drawer from opening.

ME: Hey! This drawer opened before you got here.

KARL: Uh oh.

ME: (pressing fingers into the drawer to lower the screwdriver) I got it! (surveying the drawer) Have some pride, man. You put the biggest items on the bottom and then pile the other junk on top! (demonstrating)

KARL: Well it's not all junk. We use some of that stuff regularly. You should move those items to the "Somewhat Important Stuff Drawer."

EMMA: Karl, we don't have a Somewhat Important Stuff Drawer. 

long pause

EMMA: Do we?

KARL: No, we don't.

It was a fun clue! I forgot to take a victory shot, though.

In other news, Emma's Band Holiday Concert and Dinner is tonight. Emma plays the Sax during marching season, but she's actually an Oboe player. This will be her first performance with the oboe this year and the first one since the loss of Mrs. Lawrence. Emma has taken private lessons from Mrs. Lawrence since we moved to Texas. Sue was a lovely lady, quite talented (we always bought her handmade reeds) and the only local oboe tutor. Most oboists in the area took private lessons from her and many of her students played at her memorial service in November. She will be greatly missed.

Tune in tomorrow for a photo of Emma's concert and the hunt for Clue #4!

2013 Countdown to Christmas - Day 2!


 Google is an acceptable reference material during December and Emma's iPhone is surgically attached to her (or at least it seems to be) so I figured this clue would be a good one for them. They would have no idea who Blondie was and would have to do some online research.

To make sure the clue was accurate, I actually looked up the schedule for Galveston.


EMMA: "Blondie sang that this was high, but she was holding on. At precisely 5:10 pm tonight it will be high in Galvestun, Galvest-on" . . . not sure how to say that so it actually rhymes.

Sheesh! Tough crowd! 

Now would be the fun part, where the phone would come out so they could figure out the cl-

KARL: It's either the sun or the tide.

Oh! The kid is smart!

EMMA: OK . . . it might be the tide . . .

KARL: But that makes no sense - are we supposed to get to Galveston by 5:10 pm?

EMMA: I know! This makes absolutely no sense!

KARL: Wait a minute! It's Tide. You know . . . laundry detergent.

They rushed to the laundry room.

EMMA: Whoa. Dude. That's impressive - I would have NEVER figured that out!

ME: Can you find the money again? I wasn't ready with the camera.

KARL: Sure, let me look "natural".


 Oh yes, that was really "natural". He's a funny kid.



On their way to put the money in the envelopes -

EMMA: You know this money is for charity, right Karl?

KARL: Wait - ALL of it? I thought I only had to donate half!

Ah, the Christmas spirit!

2013 Countdown to Christmas - Day 1!

It's here! December has arrived and the kids are perfectly healthy, a year older and wiser, and ready to tackle this year's clues.

The clues are a Christmas tradition I started when the kids were old enough to read and decipher my rhymes. I *think* we're in the 7th year, if memory serves correctly. You can read last year's dismal hunt (we fought a lot of sickness last year and never finished the hunt. Karl got the full blown flu - emergency room etc.) here: Countdown to Christmas 2012. The previous year I didn't think to add "Countdown" as a category on my blog, and I'm frankly too lazy (at least right now) to go back through all 25 posts to add the tags, so if you want to read that hunt, you'll just have to start at Day #1 and scroll through: Countdown to Christmas 2011 Day 1.


How does the Countdown work?

Each day I put a small envelope, sealed with a wax seal, into the little Countdown house. The kids work as a team to solve the clue and find the money, which is $2 a day, per kid. They must donate at least half their Countdown money to charity and I will match that amount on Christmas Day, so they have the potential to earn as much as $100 for their charity if they donate it all. Emma has donated all of her money to charity the last two years and Karl has donated slightly more than half. We'll see how the spirit strikes him this year!

Today's clue:


Karl read the clue out load and Emma immediately sprung into action. 

EMMA: Karl, it has something to do with coffee.

Off to the kitchen they went. 


 KARL: They always "holler" when they're out of sugar. Let's look in the sugar bowl.

It wasn't there. They also checked throughout the coffeemaker. Karl was basically dismantling it.

EMMA: She wouldn't put it IN the coffeemaker, Karl!

JOHN & KARL: Yeah, she probably would!

(They know me well!)

Karl also checked the fridge.

KARL: A ha! The milk is gone!

JOHN (mid pour): Oh, sorry - I was making myself a bowl of cereal.

Finally they decided to properly read the clue.

KARL: What's another word for "dollars"?

EMMA: "Bucks", "Bills", "Ones", "Money"?

ME: And what "twinkles"?

EMMA: Sugar.

JOHN: Actually . . .

KARL: Don't help us, Dad!

For some reason Emma persisted a while in thinking that sugar twinkles. You know, like the song . . . Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Sugar!

Finally Karl figured out that the first two lines referred to Starbucks and they spent a couple of seconds being impressed. Not sure if they were more impressed with me for the clue or with themselves for solving it.

They decided to check all the pods in the carousel. Karl was putting them on the counter and Emma was shaking them.

KARL: No, Emma, put them face down - she probably taped the money underneath.

EMMA: Hey - this one has a hole in it.

KARL: Let me see that!



They figured out that one of the pods had been used, washed out and stuffed with money. (Can you tell which one in the picture below?)



The "Starbucks" was meant to bring them to the carousel, but the actual stuffed pod was one of John's Half-Caf's. There is a healthy competition for this variety at our local Kroger. They are often out of stock and whenever we see them in stock we buy up four or five boxes. 



All in all a great start to the clues. Tune in tomorrow for Clue #2!

Happy December!