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Jennifer Schaerer

Pssssst.

I’ve got news. Big news.

Guess what? It’s NEW YEAR’S EVE!

You…you mean…you already knew that?

Seriously?

I guess the communication glitches that come with our current phase of Mercury in retrograde are playing out as expected. Pardon me? What’s that you say? Ohhhhhhh…I see. You’re not quite sure what Mercury in retrograde is all about. I’ll take a stab at explaining it as simply as I can, but I’m no expert. I just pay attention to these phases because I fancy myself an astrology enthusiast, and I’ve been doing natal charts for quite a few years now as a hobby.

In a nutshell, Mercury’s retrograde is a 6-week astrological phase that crops up about every 3 months and wreaks havoc in areas of communication and transportation, as well as commerce and education. You’ll feel the pinch of the retrograde period if you do things like sign agreements, make major purchases, travel, have deep conversations or switch internet service while in its grip.

If you’re familiar with Mercury retrograde periods, then you may be dreading the next several weeks. After all, it’s a time when normally functioning devices (televisions, computers, phones) and transit options (cars, buses, trains, airplanes) cause an extra headache or two.

But you may be missing a fantastic opportunity if you pull the covers over your head until late in January when it’s all over. I’ve found that it’s a great time to take advantage of “re” activities like reviewing, revitalizing, rejuvenating, renewing and revealing – everything from projects around the house to relationships from long ago. Retreat into your resolve and get things done that you’ve left for another day.

My big activity for this retrograde period is to revisit all the half-finished paper projects in my craft area and get them done – with a different perspective than I had when I set them aside in frustration months ago.

You could also take the time to review your stash and purge what isn’t working for you anymore (donate the overage – a school, church, shelter or retirement home would love to have the supplies!). Do the same with all those cards you’ve made and haven’t used, and share with Operation Write Home.

While you’re sorting all those cards and other projects, take a minute and see if your style reveals itself to you. Are you fun and cute? Vintage? Classy and elegant? Or maybe a little bit shabby chic? Resolve to be true to your paper crafting style in the coming year and see where it takes you!

If you’ve read this far, you deserve some sort of reward for indulging my retrograde rhetoric. Raise your hand in the comments by midnight (MST) on Sunday, Jan. 3 if you’d be interested in seeing what your natal report has to say about your personality and style – I’ll pick 5 of you randomly and do your reports just for fun!

Happy New Year!

Renew, recharge, review and – above all else – rejoice in the new year!

Wishing you all the best in 2010,
Jennifer

P.S. Speaking of reviewing, please take the time to give us your feedback in our 2010 reader survey HERE. We sure do appreciate and value your opinions!

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Betsy Veldman

Well, for the most part, the holiday craziness is behind us. The tree is bare, the gifts have been opened and the goodies have been eaten. Now it’s time to pause and take a moment to say thanks. 

When I was a kid, my mom would make us take some time during Christmas vacation to write out thank you notes for the gifts we had received. Somewhere along the line, that tradition has disappeared. So this year I decided to resurrect it. I think it’s important that my children learn to be grateful for the things they receive, and what better way to show it than to take a few minutes to write a little note! 

I decided to make it easy and send out some postcards. Postcards are nice because they are easy to mail, they don’t need envelopes and you’ll save on postage. You could very easily create your own from some cardstock and stamps. If you’re going to make your own, be sure to check on size requirements. I found this on the USPS site:

Postcards stamps are: $0.28

Size limits:

  • Minimum: 3-1/2 inches high by 5 inches long by 0.007 inch thick
  • Maximum: 6 inches long by 4-1/4 inches high
  • Additional postage required for larger postcards

Or you could make it really easy on yourself and do what I did. Visit http://www.premiumpostcard.com. It’s a service connected with the USPS where you can upload your own photo, add your message and select your addresses. You can customize each postcard for its recipient. And when you’re finished they will mail them for you! How easy is that? 

With this idea in mind, I snapped a few quick pics of my kids while we were taking our family Christmas card photo. The inspiration for the photo came from my good friend Becky Oehlers and her altered art photo in this post. I did a super simple version of the card by going completely digital and adding the little gifts digitally, instead of with a stamp. I love the way they turned out and hope they will bring a smile to the recipient, as well as show our gratitude! 

I’d love to hear your ideas for showing gratitude after the holidays and if you have any traditions similar to this. I’d love to hear about them! 

Betsy Veldman,
Paper Crafts Go-to Gal

Holly Mills

2010 is right around the corner and while I typically don’t make resolutions, I do have a personal goal to try several new things every year. 2009 held many changes for me – the least being changing jobs. To a paper crafting company, nonetheless. I figured since I was on such a roll, I should continue down the slippery path of crafting and give it a try myself. 

Thanks to the guidance of my co-workers (Holla!), I have developed a healthy starter crafting kit. I figure there’s no time like the present to squeeze in one last experiment…er…I mean experience before the clock hits twelve. 

I recently spent a morning making my first handmade card. (Angel choir chimes in.) It took me a long time to get going because I kept getting distracted with all my new crafting tools. It sort of felt like a second Christmas! I developed quite the pile of supplies on my kitchen counter and my cat let curiosity get the best of him, so he came to check out the fanfare.

Wink: Woman, what is this dye-cutting, thicker-sticking, card-cutting, brad-pushing, glue-smearing on my countertop?

Me: I thought I would try making a card. You know, see what the fuss is about.

Wink: The fuss is the mess I’m about to make by lying all over your paper scraps and kicking supplies around. I’m hoping a few cat hairs will add to the charm, if not the validity of this first-ever card making event.

I used Beatriz Jennings’ Silver Snow Card from Holiday Cards & More, Volume 3 as my inspiration. 

Silver Snow Card by Beatriz Jennings

Silver Snow Card by Beatriz Jennings

While my creation doesn’t do hers justice, I figure we’ve all got to start somewhere, right?

Whimsical Snow Card by Holly Mills

By the way, Card Creations: Start to Finish, Volume 2 goes on sale today! It was my first project when I started working at Paper Crafts. When I showed my desk copy to my folks, they acted a bit surprised and impressed. When I inquired more about their reaction, my dad said,“Wow, you actually have proof of a job. I thought you just colored all day.” So run out tomorrow and buy the latest Paper Crafts coloring book!

Keep smiling,
Holly

P.S. Stay tuned for our fun Card Creations: Start to Finish Week (Jan. 11-15) on this blog and Moxie Fab World!

P.P.S. Speaking of Moxie Fab World, Cath is counting down to 2010 by showing you a sampling of all her moxie fab posts from 2009. Hop on over to weigh in on your favorites and possibly win a prize!

P. Kelly Smith

Welcome to Magazine Monday! I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas and Santa brought you a few new paper crafting goodies. I’ve been home in Texas less than a week and I’m already catching myself saying, “y’all” and “code”. If some of you are scratching your heads on that last one, it’s how we Texans say “cold”. 

And since it has been so “code” here, I’ve really enjoyed spending time indoors and catching up with all my friends and family. One of my favorite things to do on Christmas Eve is watch the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life. I tend to buy it every year, but always find myself giving it away as a birthday or Christmas present. Just like the story I shared on Friday, I think it has a great, timeless message. And even though I have all the lines memorized, I love watching it as I wrap last-minute presents or work on my holiday cards. Yes, my cards almost never arrive before Christmas. Who has time for that?! They usually arrive sometime between Christmas and New Year’s. And I’m okay with that. 

This year I decided to send out a photo card of my little dog Lexus. Photo cards are so easy to mass produce and if you feel like spicing them up with some embellishments, you can add a little or a lot! I started by Photoshopping this cute thought bubble on my photo: 

I then ordered 40 duplicates for all my cards. When I picked up my photos, I noticed that the tops of the thought bubbles had all been cut off! Looks like I forgot to check the dimensions before I hit submit! Since I had just spent $10 on photo processing, I was going to make these work if it killed me. Since necessity is the mother of invention, I pulled out my favorite American Crafts ribbon and made a border around the photo. Ta-da! Problem fixed! 

Since Lexus had such a pained expression on her face, I knew I could be creative with my inside sentiment. So this is what my dear pup wished for: 

Sadly, Santa did not bring her a new mom for Christmas. But he did bring her a gorgeous faux pearl necklace. So we’re definitely working on the dignity thing! 

Happy Monday!
Kelly 

P.S. There’s still time to upload your Christmas cards to our December Gallery Challenge! Three lucky winners will walk away with a free subscription (or special issue of their choice) and the opportunity to be spotlighted on this blog on Monday, Jan. 4! Click HERE to upload your cards today! The deadline is TONIGHT at midnight

P.P.S. It’s time to announce the winners to Susan’s Home for the Holidays post, Kim Hughes’ The Magic of Coloring post and my Christmas Orange post! 

Susan’s winner: 

Alyssa M. (Dec. 22, 8:56 a.m.) 

Kim’s winner: 

Vicki B. (Dec. 26, 10:35 a.m.) 

My winner: 

Beth (Dec. 25, 8:31 p.m.) 

Congrats, winners! I’ll be contacting you next Monday, Jan. 4 to discuss your prizes and get your mailing addresses. Thanks to all who left comments!

P. Kelly Smith

Welcome to Freebie Friday on this very merry day! I hope all of you are tucked inside your warm, cozy homes and are surrounded by those that mean the most to you.

I was bragging on Facebook the other night that I was loving the 64*F weather in Texas. I left very chilly temperatures in Utah, so it was so-o-o nice to immediately shed my heavy winter jacket upon landing in the Lone Star State. I enjoyed a whole day of spring-like weather and then last night a cold front blew in and we actually have snow…on Christmas Day!

Even though my Christmas cards have yet to go out, I’d like to share a beautiful story with you today. I used to include it with my holiday cards because I simply love its message of it’s better to give than receive. When our designer Holly showed this wreath picture in her A Few of My Favorite {Holiday} Things blog post, it instantly reminded me of this story, and I knew that I wanted to share it with all of our readers.

Photo courtesy of Country Living

The Christmas Orange

I’d like to tell you a story my grandmother told me when I was six or seven years old. We had gone to her home for Thanksgiving dinner and the drive was rather a long one. I had filled the time with making a list of all the things that I wanted for Christmas that year.

Later that evening after I was ready for bed, I showed the list to my grandmother. After she read it, she said, “My goodness, that really is a long list!” Then she picked me up and set me on her lap in the big rocking chair and told me this story:

“Once there was a little girl who came to live in an orphanage in Denmark.” (Now my grandmother was from Denmark, so this story might even be true.) “As Christmas time grew near, all of the other children began telling the little girl about the beautiful Christmas tree that would appear in the huge downstairs hall on Christmas morning. After their usual, very plain breakfast, each child would be given their one and only Christmas gift: small, single orange.”

At this point I looked up at my grandmother in disbelief, but she assured me that was all each child would receive for Christmas.

“Now the headmaster of the orphanage was very stern and he thought Christmas to be a bother. So on Christmas Eve, when he caught the little girl creeping down the stairs to catch a peek at the much-heard-of Christmas tree, he sharply declared that the little girl would not receive her Christmas orange because she had been so curious as to disobey the rules. The little girl ran back to her room broken-hearted and crying at her terrible fate.”

“The next morning as the other children were going down to breakfast, the little girl stayed in her bed. She couldn’t stand the thought of seeing the others receive their gift when there would be none for her.”

“Later, as the children came back upstairs, the little girl was surprised to be handed a napkin. As she carefully opened it, there to her disbelief was an orange all peeled and sectioned.”

“How could this be?” she asked.

“It was then that she found how each child had taken one section from their orange and given it to her so that she, too, would have a Christmas orange.”

How I loved this story! I would ask my grandmother to tell it to me over and over as I grew up. Every Christmas, as I pull a big, juicy orange from my stocking, I think of this story. What an example of the true meaning of Christmas those orphan children displayed that Christmas morning. How I wish the world, as a whole would display that same kind of concern for others, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year. ~Author unknown

Doesn’t that story just warm your heart? Santa heard there was some very good paper crafters out there and literally left a whole sack full of fun product at my desk! Leave a comment telling me the best thing you’ve ever received in your Christmas stocking. One lucky winner will take home this entire Christmas-themed collection from Me & My Big Ideas! All comments must be received by midnight (MDT) on Sunday, Dec. 27.

One lucky winner will take home this ENTIRE prize package!

Have a very Merry Christmas!
Kelly

P.S. This little elf was so busy yesterday, she forgot to wish Paper Crafts Go-to Gal Teri Anderson a happy birthday! Teri, you know I love you, girl! Hope your day was extra special!

P.P.S. There’s still time to upload your Christmas cards to our December Gallery Challenge! Three lucky winners will walk away with a free subscription (or special issue of their choice) and the opportunity to be spotlighted on this blog on Monday, Jan. 4! Click HERE to upload your cards today! The deadline is Monday, Dec. 28!

Brandy Jesperson

Can you believe it’s finally here? All the planning and preparing has led to this delightful day when kids watch the weather report to make sure Santa will arrive safe and sound, and households across the world gather to unwrap gifts and enjoy one another’s company.  

In my family, we open one gift on Christmas Eve: a holiday book. We read the book before bed and fall fast asleep with visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads! The rest of the gifts are opened Christmas Day. 

That being said, I know lots of people unwrap their gifts on Christmas Eve (this is when Susan’s Opel’s family has their big holiday extravaganza). So what about you? When do you unwrap your gifts? 

Even though the majority of my gift giving occurs on Christmas Day, I still manage to work in a few excuses when it comes to ripping open that pretty paper. For instance, we had a Paper Crafts team party at Jennifer’s festive home last week. We each drew a name and purchased a gift especially for our person. We had a yummy lunch, laughed and exchanged gifts. In addition to celebrating the season, we also gave Cath a mini birthday party and were forced to bid Melinda a fond farewell as her internship came to a close. 

Here are a few pictures from our soirée: 

Paper Crafts Team Gift Exchange, 2009

Whether you’re unwrapping your gifts this evening or tomorrow morn, please know that all of us at Paper Crafts hope you have a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year! 

Love,
Brandy

Kim Hughes

Winter break is such a wonderful time to sit down and create art with your adorable children.

Coloring books and crayons are a low-cost bundle of fun, and I’d like to show you a couple of ways to use them to their utmost potential.  

Even if you don’t have school-aged children/grandchildren, you can still enjoy this timeless craft and share your little works of art with your loved ones. Color and embrace your inner child! 

You can cut out images from your coloring book pages and use them as accents. Many times words are included and can be used as a sentiment.  

This is a wonderful, quick gift idea. Mat your page and create a door hanger for a child’s room. Or create a “welcome sign” for someone’s front door. 

Here’s some coloring book tips: 

  • It’s best to use clear glue when adhering coloring book pages to your project (I used Ranger’s Glossy Accents). You need to be careful that the adhesive doesn’t show through since the paper is so delicately thin.
  • When cutting out images from coloring book pages, be careful and take your time. Most scissors will glide through the paper with so much ease that you could easily ruin your image. It’s like cutting tissue paper, so cut with caution.
  • There are many free coloring pages available on the web. Just do a simple search for “free coloring book pages” and you can print them out as many times as you wish. You can also print them onto patterned paper and paper piece.
  • You can scan a coloring book page and print it so that it won’t have the other image on the opposite side. Plus, you can print onto a heavy weight paper for easier cutting.
  • Frame your child’s art and give it as a gift.
  • Coloring Pages from Crayola is where you will find fun activities, as well as coloring pages that you can enjoy with your kids.
  • Use a light box and trace the image for a hand-drawn look.
  • Print a bunch of coloring book images, bind the pages together and give them as a gift along with some crayons and markers.

Here’s some ideas of what you can do to jazz up your coloring book images: 

  • use paint, colored pencils, markers or crayons
  • add glitter
  • stamp a pattern on them and then cut them out
  • pop them up to add dimension
  • apply ribbon stiffener to the paper and make barrettes or magnets
  • add brads to the center of paper flowers

Enjoy the magic of coloring with your kids. I’m sure that it will be a rewarding experience for all of you! 

Happy Holidays! 

Kim Hughes,
Paper Crafts Go-to Gal 

P.S. As my gift to you, I’d like to give away three of my Holiday Cards & More, Volume 4 designs to one lucky winner! Leave a comment telling me your favorite color in the crayon box. All comments must be received by midnight (MDT) on Saturday, Dec. 26.  

One lucky winner will take home all three of these cards!

Susan R. Opel

At this very minute, I am in my home state of Michigan for Christmas, and I’m seriously giddy! There’s nothing like being surrounded by family and friends, you know?

Today I am getting together with my college roommate and suitemates for a little reunion. The four of us had some hilarious and fun times at Concordia College, Ann Arbor, MI, in the early 90’s jamming out to EMF and Vanilla Ice. Now 18 years later, it’ll be exciting to share our experiences since then.

Tomorrow, I’ll be gathering with all sorts of old friends from my alma mater, Valley Lutheran High School for a night of karaoke and reminiscing. We’re all a little older and grayer (underneath the hair color), but we still know how to rock!

And the rest of this week and into the weekend I’ll be basking in the Christmas joy with my sweet family. My brother Kurt and his family spent the last two Christmases in Istanbul, Turkey, so I’m awfully thrilled to spend time with my cute nephews (and my brother and sister-in-law, too, of course!). My brother Paul is coming from upstate New York, and my sister will arrive from Utah on Thursday. My adorable parents will have a houseful! We’ll spend time celebrating our Lord’s birth at one of my favorite places on the planet, St. John Lutheran Church.

Yes, spending time with family and reconnecting with friends is one of my all-time favorite parts of the Christmas season. One way that we can stay connected all throughout the year is to send handmade cards. That personal touch makes all the difference in saying, “You mean the world to me!”

I recently created this sparkly thank you card using the brand new L Letterpress from Lifestyle Crafts, and I think I just might send it to a fabulous friend in 2010 just to say thanks for being so awesome.

This year I’m particularly thankful for Facebook! Both my college and high school reunions came about because of our contacts there. And did you know that you can be connected to Paper Crafts magazine through our Facebook Fan Page? Become a fan and join in the rollicking good time!

So now I want to know, who are you looking forward to seeing during this festive time of year? Leave me a comment by Friday, December 25th at midnight MST, and you can win this stash of goodies to create your own cards for someone special. We’ll announce the winner on Monday, December 28th!

Festive goodies courtesy of TaDa Creative Studios and American Crafts.

Wishing you a Christmas filled with family and friends,
Susan

Sarie Smith

Christmas week is finally here! Are you excited? Are you ready? I’m one of those people who shops all year long to find the perfect gifts. For me the joy of Christmas is in watching the people I love be excited upon opening my gift. However, I married to my true opposite. He doesn’t like to shop for himself, let alone go figure out what someone else would like, so he procrastinates Christmas shopping until this week.

If you are like me, then you’re probably just counting down the hours until your dad or brother or child has that special how-did-you-know-I wanted-this smile spread across their face!

If you are like my husband, then you’re probably wishing you had a few more days to figure out your shopping list and then time to go out and find it all. So, I poked my head around the office to see what people were giving this year to give you some inspiration. 

  • For the book nerd: A bestseller book from this year and a personal bookmark. 
  • For the cowboy in your life: An awesome belt buckle.
  • For the little princess: A purse filled with goodies.
  • For the movie junkie: A movie basket with movies, treats, popcorn and drinks.
  • For the neighbors: Cookie cutters with sugar cookie mix.
  • For the one who has everything: A donation in their name to their favorite charity.
  • For the one who lives in the snow: A scarf and mittens, possibly tied up with some hot cocoa.
  • For the sporty boy: Any ball: football, basketball, soccer ball, etc. 
  • For the woman you appreciate: Jewelry – a nice necklace goes a long way.
  • For the moved-out child: A nice serving dish for special occasions.  
  • For the stockings: Batteries, postal stamps, gum, popcorn balls and nail polish.

Of course, all presents should be accompanied by a handmade card to show how much you care, but I’m sure you’re already all over that. If you have all of your shopping done and are feeling creative, try making cards that match the gift and the season. I just love Dawn McVey’s festive card from Holiday Cards &  More, Volume 4!

Wishes for Your Christmas Card by Dawn McVey

I wish you a wonderful week with family and friends. Merry Christmas and good luck!

Your Paper Crafts Intern,
Sarie Smith

P.S. And let’s not forget the perfect gift for the paper crafter in your life…Subscribe or renew your subscription to Paper Crafts at our special low rate and we’ll give a one-year gift subscription to a friend absolutely FREE! That’s two subscriptions for the price of one! This special holiday offer won’t last long…so click on over today! Offer valid in the U.S. only.

P.P.S. It’s time to announce the three winners from Kelly’s “Sweet” Holiday Memories post!

1. shyone (Dec. 18, 11:31 a.m.)
2. conniemelancon (Dec. 18, 7:59 p.m.)
3. Donna VW (Dec. 18, 6:47 a.m.)

Congrats, ladies! You’ve each won a fun holiday collection from Bo Bunny! Kelly will be contacting you shortly to get your mailing addresses. Thanks to all who shared their favorite holiday sweets!

P. Kelly Smith

Welcome to Freebie Friday! Can you believe Christmas is only a week away? Yikes! My shopping list is still a mile long, but I’m slowly making a dent in it. For my immediate family, I try to buy five or six small gifts. Most of them are practical in nature, but I always try to throw in one sentimental one. Something that really pulls at the old heartstrings. 

In addition to tangible gifts, I love giving away holiday treats. Nothing says Christmas like homemade fudge,  peppermint bark or some gooey, flaky pastry. My mother makes the most amazing Candy Cane Coffee Cake. Perhaps you’ve seen or tasted one. You essentially braid fruit-filled pieces of dough into the shape of a candy cane. Here’s an actual image from my mom’s 30-year-old Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook

Candy Cane Coffee Cake

Looks delicious, right? My mom’s been giving these cakes away as neighbor gifts for as long as I can remember. The best part…they keep for several days, so you can nibble away at them piece by piece and not feel like you’re overdoing it. Because let’s face it, even though my mom would sometimes make 10 at a time, there would always be one or two that didn’t quite pass inspection, and therefore never left our kitchen. Waste not, want not! 

I just happen to have three paper collections from Bo Bunny that remind me of the hearth and home. I’d love to hear your favorite holiday treat/sweet/snack. Feel free to even share a recipe! Leave a comment and I’ll pick three winners to each take home one of these fun collections. All comments must be received by midnight (MDT) on Sunday, Dec. 20. 

Three lucky people will take home one of these Bo Bunny collections!

Happy Friday!
Kelly 

P.S. If you haven’t read Maren’s I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas post, it’s full of inspiring (and sinful!) ideas. 

P.P.S. It’s time to announce the five winners from Jennifer’s Happy Christmastine’s Day post! 

1. Rachel S (Dec. 15, 8:48 a.m.)
2. Barbara Staradumsky (Dec. 15, 8:17 a.m.)
3. Victoria S (Dec. 15, 8:25 p.m.)
4. Laura J (Dec. 15, 4:09 p.m.)
5. dahlhousedesigns (Dec. 16, 5:15 a.m.) 

Congrats, winners! You’ve each won a copy of our new January/February issue! I’ll be contacting you shortly to get your mailing addresses. Thanks to all who left comments!