Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Blooming Box

I'm back with another card featuring my new Open Box Die.

This time I chose to fill the box with flowers from the Bloom set.

The flowers were colored with Copics and placed in the box with varying layers of foam adhesive to get a more dimensional look.

That big bold sentiment is also from the Bloom set.

Short and sweet today!

*Affiliate links in text to Neat & Tangled store, below to Ellen Hutson.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

CAS Open Box Christmas Card

Hey everyone!  Today I thought I would share a quick and easy, interactive, Christmas card featuring my new Open Box die.

The box was cut from kraft paper and then assembled.  Unlike the cards I created in this post, for this card, I adhered the box putting those little triangular flaps on the inside of the box since I knew the flaps would be closed.

The box was adhered directly to my white panel and I tied it closed with some twine.

As you can see the box flaps don't completely come together when closed, there's a little sliver of space between the flaps, but it still works as a closed box.

When you open the box, here's what you see inside, a bunch of those cute little coordinating images from Beary Merry that I colored with Copics.  So fun, right?

The sentiment is from Elfs and Their Shelf.

That's all for me today, hope your week is going well!

Breaking news - just wanted to let you guys know that there's a pretty good sale going on over at Ellen Hutson right now.  A bunch of items are 50% off (no code required, just put them in your cart and the discount will show).  One of my favorite EH dies (silver linings) is included along with a bunch of other Essentials by Ellen products as well as a lot of Concord and 9th and other goodies, definitely worth a look!  Affiliate link:

*Affiliate link is text to Neat & Tangled store, below to Ellen Hutson.

Friday, August 11, 2017

N&T Birthday Gift Card winner

Happy Friday!  I'm just popping in quickly to announce the winner of the $15 store credit for the Neat & Tangled store.

According to, the winner was chosen from Instagram and is @sparkliie

Congrats!  Please shoot me an email with your address and I'll send you your code!

And if you didn't win, no worries, the September release is right around the corner!  Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Essentials by Ellen August Release

Today I'm sharing some projects created using Ellen Hutson's latest stamp/die release.  This was such a fun release to work with, and I had a great time creating these projects.

My focus was the Rustic Botanicals stamps and dies.  As soon as I saw the set, I knew I wanted to do some stitching.

For this first card, I used stitching to accent the lines in the stamps.  So, just simple stitched accents on the leaves and the flower itself.  For this look you must stitch before you die cut, it's much too hard to stitch a die cut piece because it's so delicate and flimsy.  Because of that, you need to take care to stitch in such a way where you're not crossing the line where the die will cut because you don't want to cut your thread.  Because these images were pretty compact and self contained, this was easy to do.

Once the stitching was done, I die cut the pieces and then it was time to assemble the card.  I loved the folk art look of the florals and stems, and thought a black background would really make them pop.  Note I did change the orientation of the stem for the flower in the middle for some variation.

The sentiment is from the Lovely set.  I popped it up and added a strip of red cardstock underneath for an accent.

I was still in the mood to stitch, so I stamped up another flower and went to town.  For this one I went with a more embroidered/crewel look.  This can be pretty tricky to achieve.  The petals were pretty easy, but the flower itself gave me fits.  Still, I really like how it turned out.

The sentiment is from the newly released Plant Ladies Say set, and I thought it was just right for the image.

I got my stitch itch out of my system on that last card, and went for something completely different on this next card.

I really love this leaf image from the Rustic Botanicals set.  Before I stamped those though, I added a little bit of gold watercolor on the watercolor panel.  Then the image was stamped three times with Versamark and heat set.  Next, I went in with a Versamark pen and randomly wrote over some of the lines in the leaves and embossed in gold.

The sentiment is from that Lovely sentiment set again (love that set!).

Finally I added a few droplets from Pretty Pink Posh adhering them with mini glue dots.

I really enjoyed working with these sets, and there are so many more ideas percolating for those flowers!  Hope you will swing over to the Ellen Hutson blog as they are showcasing cards from some other designers as well and I know you'll be inspired!

*Affiliate Links Below

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Neat & Tangled Birthday Release - Balloon Duo Stencil

Hey everyone!  Today I'm showing off my other new product in this month's Neat & Tangled birthday release, the Balloon Duo stencil.

This product was inspired by two of my most frequently pinned cards from this post.

That card was stamped, but I know not everyone is comfortable random stamping in layers, so I wanted to provide a way for folks to recreate the look more easily.

For this first card, I went with some yellows and oranges, moving my way up the panel from light to dark.

The sentiments are from the new Hooray mini set that is part of the birthday release.

I also wanted to try covering a whole panel and to go with a rainbow look, here's how it turned out:

On this one I paired the smaller sentiment from the Hooray set with the previously released Celebrate dies.

I love how easy it is to create with these.  If you took part in the birthday hop yesterday (and I hope you did because there are some big prizes up for grabs - it's going on all week so you have plenty of time to hop) there were some great samples where there was more white space between the balloons which is another great look.

That's all for me today, hope you enjoyed this look at the Balloon Duo stencils.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Neat & Tangled Birthday Release - Open Box - Giveaway

Hey everyone!  It's release week over at Neat & Tangled, and because it's our birthday month we're doing things a little differently.

Instead of our normal daily reveal, all the products are being revealed on the blog today AND they are available to purchase in the store!  But you definitely still want to swing by the blog each day as there is a big birthday blog hop happening all week with new stops each day featuring.

I'm not part of the official hop, but I have some new products releasing this month which I'll be showing off today and tomorrow.

Today I'm featuring my new Open Box die.  

Fun story, this die was inspired by this card by Rubeena Ianigro who was inspired by the original box die.  I loved that card and have been wanting to create an open box for a while.  

The box is 1/4" deep, so definitely dimensional, but not insanely so.  When cutting it I wouldn't use your heaviest weight cardstock, I use Papertrey Ink cardstock or heavy patterned paper and the folds work really well.  To secure it, I just used some mini glue dots on the little flaps.

So first up, a baby card.  Wouldn't this card be perfect tucked into a box with a baby gift?  

The bear is from Lumberjack Love and colored with Copics, and the sentiment is from Itty Bitty Welcoming Committee.  I added a bit of tissue paper in the box and popped the bear with two layers of foam tape.

Next, a card for a crafty friend.  This time I cut the box from some Studio Calico cardstock, then added craft glue inside and dumped some sequins over top.  I let the box sit overnight so the glue could dry and set.

After adhering the box, I added some additional sequins on the flaps and around the box.  The sentiment is from Fairy Dust.

I'll be back tomorrow to show off my other new product.  For now, though, I have a giveaway!  

I have a $15 credit to the Neat & Tangled store for a lucky someone.  To enter to win, be a follower and leave a comment.  There are additional chances to win over on my instagram page (@mprantner).   I'll announce a winner on Friday.

And don't forget, the release is live in the store now (affiliate link).  See you tomorrow!

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 2017 in Books

Lots of books this month and interestingly no juvenile fiction.  We were on vacation, so I did a lot of reading then, and I actually do have a couple of books from Ellie queued up, so you'll see some more of that next month.  Overall my favorites were the Guernsey Society and Whistling Past the Graveyard, but I've got the full rundown for you below.

Girl Waits with Gun - Amy Stewart - detective - four stars - I have mixed feelings about this book.  It had been on my to read list for a while.  I liked the story (which turns out to be based on real events) about a woman (in 1914) who is drawn into a mystery after confronting an unscrupulous factory owner who runs into her carriage with his car.  I thought the characters were good, but the writing style wasn't my favorite.  I'm not sure why, I just thought the prose itself was kind of choppy and not smooth.  This is actually a series, so I'm thinking I'll give it another chance as I did like the story itself.

Whistling Past the Graveyard - Susan Crandall - fiction - five stars - I can't recommend this one enough.  I loved it.  The story of a girl who runs away from her grandmother to go to her mother in Nashville.  Along the way she meets a black woman traveling with a white baby.  This is the era of segregation and she learns a lot about what it means to be black during the journey as well as what a family is.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - fiction - five stars - This was such a good book.  It's set just after the end of WWII, and Juliet Ashton, a writer, is looking for a subject for her next book.  She begins a correspondence with a man from Guernsey, which then grows to include many of the people in the town eventually causing her to go there.  Guernsey was occupied during the War and the book discusses the occupation, POWs brought to work there, as well as some beloved islanders who were sent to camps during the war.  The book is funny, sad, happy, and just so good.  Unfortunately the author became very ill as she was finishing the book up, and passed away but not before her she asked her niece Annie Barrows (who wrote the Ivy and Bean books) to help her finish it.  This is her only novel, which is a shame because it's so good, and I would have loved to have read more from her.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter - Kim Edwards - fiction - three stars - This was kind of a miss for me  The story was interesting enough, a doctor ends up having to deliver his twins during a snowstorm.  One is born with Down's Syndrome and he gives her to the assisting nurse to take to a home and tells his wife that the baby died.  The nurse is unable to leave her and takes her and raises her on her own.  The story deals with the aftermath - how it affected the doctor, his wife, and their remaining child.  Aside from the nurse, I ended the book just not really liking any of the characters.  

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn - fiction - five stars - The story of a man whose wife disappears, and all signs point to him murdering her, but it turns out she's framing him (sorry if that is a bit of a spoiler, but since there is a movie out based on the book I figured most folks know the general plot).  It's kind of a fascinating look at some very messed up people, but it was interesting to see how she went about doing it and the ending was just kind of mind blowing and left me shaking my head because these people are just messed up.

The Boy Who Runs: The Odyssey of Julius Achon - Julius Achon - autobiography - five stars - The story of a runner from Uganda.  He was taken by soldiers in the LRA for a brief period as a child, but was able to escape and return to his family.  After that, he decided he wanted to do better, and set a goal of becoming an Olympic runner.  He did run in several international races and was recruited to attend George Mason University in Virginia where he set records and won a championship.  After many years of running in road races in order to send his winnings home to his family in Uganda, he ended up working for the Nike organization where he met a man who helped him set up a charity to help those in Uganda.  What I really love about this story is that his heart for his country and family was constant, while he could have stayed in the U.S. working to raise funds here, he is living and working in Uganda and making a huge difference.   

A Matter of Inches: How I Survived in the Crease and Beyond - Clint Malarchuk - autobiography - four stars - So I used to read a ton of hockey books (our family likes hockey), and this is one of the books I picked up for Andrew for Christmas this past year.  Malarchuk was a goalie for our team (the Washington Capitals) for a while, and the incident in which his throat was slashed by an opponent's skate in a freak incident during a game in Buffalo is pretty well known.  This book is pretty comprehensive dealing with childhood as well as career after his playing days were over.  The main theme is depression.  Malarchuk suffered from it as a child, as a player, and later as a coach, and how he was able to deal with it throughout life.  He's very candid, he talks about relapses, arrests, alcohol, rehab, etc. which I appreciated.  

The Life We Bury - Allen Eskens - fiction - five stars - Another great book.  About a boy in college, Joe Talbert, taking a writing course.  He needs to outline and write parts of a biography.  Since he doesn't have much family, he decides to go to a local nursing home and see if there is someone there he can interview.  He is introduced to a convicted murdered who has been released to the nursing home because he is dying of cancer.  As Joe talks with him and meets his friend Virgil, he begins to question whether he actually was the killer.  Really well written, and you don't want to put it down.  I'm definitely planning to read more from this author. 

The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan-American Highway - Teresa Bruce - memoir - four stars - I enjoy reading about the crazy things that other people do, because I'm just not that crazy.  When Bruce was a kid, her brother was killed in a tragic accident.  Her father's response was to take the family on a car trip (with a camper) down the Pan-American highway.  To be honest, I didn't know that such a thing existed, but it runs down the eastern edge of Central/South America.  You drive through a lot of countries where there are a lot of problems/violence/crime, there are severe elevation changes and extreme weather conditions.  Eventually their truck/camper broke down and they sold it and flew out of there.  Now years later, Bruce is recreating the journey and attempting to see if she can locate the camper.  Conditions are not that much better in some countries than they were previously, for example, they avoid Columbia altogether, and she and her husband deal with illness, theft, riots, etc.  But along the way she is able to reconnect with people who helped her family during their original trip as well as meet new 'angels'.  Just a very interesting read about a part of the world I don't know much about.

Did You Ever Have a Family - Bill Clegg - fiction - four stars - The story of a June Reid, whose daughter, fiance, ex-husband, and boyfriend are killed in a tragic accident the evening before her daughter's wedding.  She leaves everything behind and starts driving, ending up on the west coast after finding a journal from her daughter referencing a small motel there.  Told from different points of view of individuals affected by the disaster and who meet June on her journey.  Very much about loss and coping and healing.  It was at times a bit slow for me, and I thought some things came together a little too neatly, but overall very good.

Leaving Berlin - Joseph Kanon- fiction - four stars - The story of a German Jew who left/was deported from the U.S. because he wasn't willing to testify in the McCarthy hearings.  He makes a deal with the CIA to spy in East Germany in order to be able to return where he has a young son.  He is quickly mixed into society in East Germany, being recruited by both the Russians and East Germans to spy on those around him.  It seems like, and maybe it actually was, the wild west in terms of espionage.  The writing wasn't my favorite style, it took me a while to get acclimated to what was going on, and the level of backstabbing and intrigue seemed a little over the top.  I could have probably used a few less double agents, but a decent story.