Saturday, February 28, 2015

Bertie Botts Any Color Embossing

So I'm really making progress in the final throes of this four month long remodel. Really, I am.

You know how when you move there's that terrible end stage where there's just a bunch of small, mismatched JUNK that you have to fling into one big box, scrawl a cuss word on the box with a Sharpie and move on? That's sort of the stage I'm at. But I plan on polishing off the remainder this weekend and having one last "everything's a dollar" sale and moving on.

I've enjoyed the victories a lot.

One of the things giving me a raging case of the SQUEEs is an embossing powder and glitter solution invented by Jennifer McGuire, queen of enablers.

Before this solution, I had a tower of wobbly Ziploc containers that always fell over, one fall resulting in Splotchyglittergate, which is still too horrific to tell. Some of my friends remember the day I got "the call" at a Stampin' Up! event that Splotchy was COVERED FROM HEAD TO TOE IN GLITTER. COVERED.


This solution fixes ALL of that, and my cats can now remain glitter-free.

It also saves a TON of space. Check this out.Seriously - the leaning tower of glitter has now been immortalized forever.

I'm in love. Those little containers stack securely, no wobbles, have spoons clipped to the lids and are labeled on both sides.

Here's what I got:

Sistema Klip-It Containers - I like the small ones, but they come in other sizes. I have a Dazzling Diamonds issue, so I might have to get at least one of the larger ones at some point.
 Ice Cream Taster Spoons - SO fun:

 3M Clips for the lids:

And I just got this label machine because I HATE my handheld DYMO labeler - it's awful. This one is greatness - it has a tape saving setting, has a ton of very cool fonts and fun frames. I love it:

Check out how I transformed my card catalog with it. I crowdsourced the label color on Facebook, and I tried every color that everyone suggested. I thought I was going to go with Crumb Cake, but then my friend Tandra suggested black. And oh my was it perfect with the turquoise.

Okay - and this isn't embossing, but someone on Splitcoast discovered that our designer paper stacks fit PERFECTLY in the blank cling stamp cases! ZOMG. Now they are all labeled and stacked neatly on a shelf. No more loose scraps falling out every time I pick up one of these! You can actually fit two stacks per case. Probably four in the wood mount cases.

Okay, so back to embossing.

I realized that there's one MORE thing the MISTI can do that I could never do before - allow me to have embossed images in EVERY COLOR of ink that I own.


Check out this video and see! Click here if you don't see a video player below.

And here's the finished card! The stamps I used are: Lovely Amazing You and Draw the Line. The inks are Melon Mambo, Smoky Slate and Basic Black.

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Cool eh?

Now go forth and emboss!


Friday, February 27, 2015

The Newest Workout Craze SWEEPING the Nation (Or my House)

I realized that without even knowing it, I'm sitting on a GOLDMINE with an unintentional workout plan.

I'll start at the beginning.

I hate water.

Regular water, I mean. Like the stuff that comes out of the tap or (shudder) plastic bottles. I am not really sure why I hate it, but my sister hates it too, so I'm going to throw a poker chip on the "it's genetic" square.

It just completely grosses me out.

Maybe it's because I drank boiling hot hose water when it was 8,000 degrees in the summer when I was little.

Maybe it's because most of my life, "water" has come in the form of "tea," which is just fine by me.

Maybe it's because in Texas, you go NOWHERE without a huge iced beverage in your hand (or you'll die before you get down the driveway), and so my water intake came mostly from ice, which I love.

Or maybe it's a gene.

Whatever the reason, I loathe it, and I now drink my water only bubbled. I've always loved club soda, and for years, I've had probably 6-8 cans of LaCroix per day.

This is how I stumbled upon my genius workout plan.

Every day, at some point, I wander away from my office, with my LaCroix in my hand, like a good Texan, and I see something shiny and put the can down. If the shiny thing is a book, then it's in the bookcase. If the shiny thing is is my card catalog, maybe it's on top of my card catalog. If I'm turning the radio on, maybe it's by the radio. THEN, I spend the next ten minutes wandering around like a thirsty zombie, trying to figure out where I left the danged can. Sometimes I give up and get another one and then find it later. Either way, think how many steps you can get in just searching for your beverage! I think it's a million dollar idea.

While I wait for my million dollars, I am creating things. Today, I'm bringing you two cards and a video inspired by the GENIUS that is Maureen Wong - MISTI expert - for adding selective details back to a no-line coloring image. I REALLY had fun doing this. I LOVE no-line coloring, but I used to be endlessly frustrated by trying to add facial details back to images with just a pen - my people and animals always looked like serial killers and never looked as good as the original facial details of the stamp image. You'll see what I mean. Enjoy.

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 This image is from the Sale-A-Bration Set, A Happy Thing. (free with $50 purchase), and the paper is from Adventure Bound.
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 This card is for today's Mix-Ability challenge on Splitcoast (Keyword MIX109). Click here to play along (no time limit). The stamp set (Lean on Me) is retired, but the greeting is from Lovely, Amazing You, which is available now!

Enjoy the video - if you don't see a player below, here's the direct link.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sew Crates

So my sister, who is five years older than me, taught me how to read when I was three. I think I was like a toy, and it was fun for her to teach me things like that. But I got an early start with language, thanks to her, and became a voracious reader.

As a consequence, I tended to read whatever she was reading, which meant that I *might* have read some things that weren't age-appropriate, since I was reading them at the same time she was when she was five grades ahead of me.

A few examples include: The Stand (which is still his best I think - he went off the rails in the 90s, IMHO and is starting to come back), Flowers in the Attic and... (one that we sing the movie theme to pretty much every time we see each other)....

Here's the song in case you want the same earworm I have every time I think of this book - it's still my favorite Michael Jackson song:

Only Michael Jackson could make a rat sound that awesome. When you listen to him sang it now, it almost seems autobiographical.

Anyway, when she taught me to read, it wasn't on the classics - it was on Lucky My Lucky Little Puppy, and Harold and the Purple Crayon and whatnot, and so by the time I read Ben in my tender youth, I had never heard the pronunciation of "Socrates" in real life. So when I encountered that character in the book, my pronunciation of it in my head was "Sew Crates." I think I said it out loud at dinner once and my entire family dissolved into hysterical laughter. 

Well this happened to me again just yesterday as I was creating a video for today's project. 
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I was using this month's Paper Pumpkin kit to create an ikat design, and - well, I'll just let you watch the video. Click here if you don't see a video player below.  And again sorry for the video quality - I'll be back in my setup soon.

Yeah - not at all how it sounded in my head!! Oh well. Live and learn. Darn you, Steve Jobs!!

Okay so as you saw in that video I have a SUPER exciting idea for you, courtesy of my downline Jen. I have  really not enjoyed using baby wipes on my stamps, for the reasons I explain in the video. So she came up with an idea that I had to try to DIY. 

I normally hate research - but I actually did a LOT of research before I put all these things together - read reviews, etc. and I'm glad I did because I'm LOVING this. So watch the video and the links for what I used are below it.

ZOUNDS - it's amazing!!!

Here are the things I used - click the pictures or the name of the product:

1. Oxo Perfect Pull Wipes Dispenser

2.  Medline disposable washcloths

3. Stampin' Mist Stamp Cleaner:
4. Quilting Guides for the MISTI (What I use as a positioner)

Sew their yew gaugh.

Things don't always sound like they look :)

I hope that tip is useful for you!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

If I Could Find The Person Who Invented Button Hoarding!

I am slowly moving the last few things back into my studio.

I'm at that stage that you get to when you're moving - where nothing really fits into a category you've defined and you just want to throw everything away.

So I'm coming across things like fracking extra buttons.

Who IS the person that decided that a) extra buttons should be included with clothing and b) convinced us all to save them??

I have 80 squillion packages of extra buttons that I have NOT ONCE sewn onto a piece of clothing. I just shove them into drawers, put them with my crafty stuff thinking I'll craft with them, and then find them 12 years later and wish I could pinch that person's head off!

If I could go back in time and talk to myself I'd tell myself never to save one single button and to pay myself a quarter every time I snipped a little package off some new clothes and tossed it in the trash - I'd be a billionaire!!

Now in order to take a break from my Cinderella drudgery in the button mines, I've been playing around with my MISTI

True confession time - I still am not really friends with photopolymer stamps. Stop yelling - I know most people love them, and we can all still be friends. I own many of them. But they are more of an acquaintance than a BFF. My BFF is rubber. I don't know if it's just a feel thing or what. But stop judging me. I can feel your little scowls.

But rubber just couldn't do some of the fun things you could do with photopolymer in terms of alignment - until the MISTI.

The Stamp-a-Ma-Jig works great for wood mounted stamps - but it doesn't work as well with cling stamps - it just doesn't fit those acrylic blocks quite right - for me, anyway. They just don't get seated into the handle as well.

So, truth be told, I have been neglecting some of my favorite multi-step stamps that I only have in cling. Like Stippled Blossoms, for example.

But hallelujah - thanks to my MISTI that neglect ended yesterday.

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The key to stamping with stamps you can't see through was just to have a transparent sheet I could tape down and use as a positioning sheet.

I found these quilting guides thanks to someone on Splitcoast that are PERFECT - I just cut them down to the correct size and now I have great guide I can use over and over.

This was such a revelation for me but I found it hard to explain, so I made you a little video. And sorry about the quality of the video - I'm not back in my regular shooting setup yet, so I'm having to make do with what I have. I hope this makes sense!

SO much fun and so much possibility now! PS - the tape is here.

A lot of people are considering unmounting all their wood stamps after seeing what this thing can do. I haven't gone that crazy yet, but it's very exciting to find new life in stamps you already have.

Unlike extra buttons.

Those are not exciting at all.

PS - meeting with the retreat center this week so get ready for info!


Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Great Stamping Controversies of Modern Times

I love reading about stamping controversies.

Every year, there's a stamp set or two that generates a kerfuffle and it's great entertainment.

There was Tardis-gate, when the whole world was up in arms that some of us colored the phone box in the Feeling Sentimental stamp set BLUE - horrors - so that we could make Dr. Who cards. There were lengthy pronouncements about how police boxes and call boxes were DIFFERENT and NOT INTERCHANGEABLE. God forbid a stamper ask a viewer for a little creative license - IT'S NOT ALLOWED. STAMPING IS SCIENCE, NOT ART. (Apparently.)

There's snowflake-gate too - nearly every year, when some cheeky artist takes liberty with a snowflake and ONLY GIVES IT FIVE SIDES! Institutions around the world immediately collapse, and all human knowledge is sucked into a black hole created by cards with five or eight sided snowflakes. Cards with these heretical approximations of real snowflakes are burned upon receipt, and their ashes are sprinkled with holy water, to keep their evil spirits from returning.

For some reason, the hordes of legless butterflies don't seem to generate the same amount of ire. Nor do animals in clothes, pigs that stand up, or stars which look nothing like actual stars. What about floating baby heads? Spiders with long eyelashes? Those, apparently are all kosher.

We are very selective in our application of scientific details to stamped images. Stampers are quirky like that.

I observe no rules in my art, so I watch these scandals emerge with great amusement. Maybe I'll take some time this week to make a blue callbox card with five sided snowflakes twinkling around it. I'll refer you to my post on dogma for a refresher on irreverence.

What will the next stamping controversy be, I wonder? Or maybe you know of some I haven't heard of yet - if so, feel free to share!

I've been obsessing over my MISTI still. This thing has so many tricks. The trick that sold me on the thing in the first place was the ability to correct mis-inking errors. I was actually using it on this card to align the flowers from Painted Petals with the "smile" from So You, when I realized that because I was stamping on watercolor paper, the ink was blotchy on the first stamping.

All I had to do was re-ink and stamp again a few times to get smooth coverage. Since the stamp and paper are always in the exact same place, it's just flat out awesome.

Now to get the sentiment aligned in the first place, I just put my ruler inside the MISTI to give me a straight edge to line "smile" up on.

Then after stamping that a few times until the ink was perfect, I arranged the flower stamps around the sentiment where I wanted them, picked them up with the lid and then stamped them in white and embossed them. I used Daffodil Delight, Tempting Turquoise, Baked Brown Sugar and Lucky Limeade reinkers to watercolor the background. Then I used a little glue and some microbeads for the centers.

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I've been binge watching Cutthroat Kitchen this weekend, trying to empty out my DVR. It just struck me that this show is GREAT at breaking down cooking dogma for a group of people who are notorious for being somewhat dogmatic - chefs.

When someone has to make a turkey dinner with no turkey, or create a vegetarian version of French Onion soup, they have to leave their notions of some of the most basic foods behind and just get crackin' for the scant time they have to cook in.

So don't let that little wonky snowflake get in your way. What if all the other snowflakes made fun of him because he was different? Wouldn't you feel terrible for rejecting him because he's missing a leg? Just make something pretty with your special, special snowflake!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

If Only I'd Thought Of "Misremembering" in 1976

Like most people, I vividly remember the times when I was little and got in BIG trouble.

A few that come to mind are the following:

  • My friend David and I ate 100% of the beautiful vegetables grown by a neighbor one fine summer day. Said neighbor's innocent notion of a fenceless yard was dashed that day, as was a summer's worth of work as his delicious squash, tomatoes and cucumbers disappeared down our gullets. What was so strange about this crime is that it's not like we were exactly clamoring for vegetables when we were TOLD to eat them - inside, clean, and cooked. I guess that goes to show you that a good backyard garden can win anyone over.
  • My friend David and I (see a pattern yet?) threw handfuls of mud at the pristine white garage door and brick of the neighbor whose house was between ours. How dare someone occupy that space?? We got more grounded than we'd ever been grounded before.
  • My friend David and I (seriously - if you don't get it by now you might have some sort of problem you need to get checked out) threw "bom boms" (the little stinky nut-like things that grow on Tallow trees) at cars, landed some real whoppers onto the windshield of a passing car, causing the car to stop and disgorge an extremely angry man who chased us into the house where we pretended we'd been coloring for HOURS. We were great actors.
  • My friend David and I (are you kidding me? Please re-read them all) decided that the ONE DAY it would be smart to walk home from elementary school through the storm sewer subterranean wonderland was DURING A THUNDERSTORM. Seriously - that is how little dead kids end up becoming national news - that was DEFINITELY not our finest hour.  Luckily we were saved in time for a serious arse whooping. 
If only I had known in the 70s what I know now. See in the 70s, if you told your mother, or anyone else that you did not do something you had clearly done, that was called LYING. It usually increased the intensity of the punishment. It certainly never REDUCED the punishment.

Now, I'm learning, what used to be called LYING is now called "misremembering". I've seen this used by many politicians, and of course now, Brian Williams, who is seen here reporting from the Jurassic period.

If only I'd been able to misremember some of my crimes instead of confessing! I might have been able to play hide-and-seek instead of languishing, grounded in my room listening to Kasey Kasem over the sounds of free children playing outside.

If only my sister had had the benefit of misrememberment about taking off the side of our Suburban with a Sonic tray! (Actually, now that I think of it, she is still misremembering that incident to this day.)

I thought misremembering was what happens when I lose my keys! Just TODAY I misremembered where my mailbox key is. I remembered that it was in my car, but I was MISremembering that, because it actually is NOT in my car.

Sometimes, I misremember people's names - I'm terrible with names. But I'm not LYING about their name when I call them Julie instead of Queen Elizabeth, I am just misremembering that the broad with the crown and all the jewels is, in fact, Elizabeth, even if she looks like a Julie.

I do not approve of the other use of the word misremembering, because it's mistalking and mismeaning. There is lying, and there is forgetting (that's actually disremembering), and there is embellishing - and those are all perfectly good words that we already have. So I would like everyone to go back to using those. Thanks a bunch.

Now - I did NOT misremember how much fun it is to do my backyard coloring on these glorious spring days here in the great Republic. No bugs, perfect light, 80 degrees, birds singing. It's glorious.

So I headed out back last night to enjoy the light and the sound and the warm and brought my Polychromos with me. The image I colored is Sweetbriar Rose. I stamped it in Crumb Cake on Crumb Cake and then just had fun - just four pencils, one of which is called Magenta Hell - what the heck? Doesn't look like hell to me! :) I decided to leave the background just sort of neutral so the flowers popped. The coloring probably took half an hour. I'm a slow colorer. But man do I enjoy every second.

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Hopefully as the days lengthen in the coming weeks, I won't misremember how to color.

OH - and I almost forgot - I made an AWESOME meal this week! I had been searching for a good orange chicken recipe for a while, and with my mods, this is DEFINITELY it - I could eat this every day!


  • 1 cup jasmine rice or long-grain white rice
  • 2 C. Chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel (This is the peel of one decent sized navel orange)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for rice
  • Large pinch of dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • Salt
  • Oil
  • Cornstarch
  • Flour
  • 1 C. frozen green peas
  • Green onions, sliced thinly
  • Sesame seeds


Toast rice in oil until fragrant. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in peas. Cover to keep warm; set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk juice, soy sauce, and 1 TBS cornstarch in medium bowl until cornstarch dissolves. Mix in orange peel.

Heat oil in large wok or skillet over high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and toss in a Ziploc bag with cornstarch and flour (or just cornstarch for gluten free) until coated. Add to pan and fry, turning, until chicken is just cooked through and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove chicken - working in batches and keep warm on a cookie sheet in the oven at about 170. When all the chicken is cooked, clean out skillet, add chicken and sauce, and Toss until sauce thickens and comes to boil. Add sesame seeds and green onions and crushed red pepper. Serve on rice with sweet chili sauce. (or see notes)


Okay - this was amazing but it needs sweetness. We added my sweet chili sauce to just our servings and that was perfect, but I think that it needs honey or sweet chili in the sauce. I’d say try it with ⅓ C. honey whisked into the sauce. If I try it next time and it works I’ll update this.

Completely modified from this recipe.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Feline Compass and Other Mysteries of the Universe

It's very odd to live with wild animals in your house. Strange, furry things with tails and whatnot.

One of the strangest things about sharing a space with felines is - wait - everything is strange. So maybe I should start this by saying TODAY'S strangest thing is... the feline compass.

There seems to be some weird magnet in the heads of cats that requires them to be oriented in a certain position in relation to humans at all times. Sort of like true cat north.

For example - Maddie has to be hugged for at least an hour each day. But she can only be hugged ONE WAY - curled around my neck on my left side only. If I try to put her on my right shoulder she runs away mad.

Splotchy likes to sleep with his ginormous behind firmly planted on my left collarbone and his paws underneath the covers on my chest. He WILL not orient himself on my right side.

When he rides around on The Other's shoulders, he will ONLY approach on the left and end up with his butt on the left shoulder and his head on the right shoulder.

Is there some evolutionary reason that the left side is more desirable? Is it hotter because our heart is over there? Or do they sense that it's our non-dominant side and so they feel less vulnerable there? Do the cats of left-handed people prefer the right hand side of their human?

I'd love to hear your theories, however crazy they may be.

At Leadership, we learned some fun little tips - one of which was that the fun little epoxies in the Occasions Mini exactly fit the hearts on the Happy Heart embossing folder!

So at my class on Saturday, we embossed a piece of Whisper White, flipped it over so we were working on the flat side, colored one of the hearts with a Pink Pirouette Blendabilities Marker, and then stuck the epoxy on it. CUTE.

The greeting is from Snuggles & Smooches and the washi tape is the Stacked With Love set.

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Speaking of Stacked with Love washi tape,  I gave myself a manicure with it! SO fun. Just cut the shapes and then top it with a clear coat.

Fun, eh?

The two different widths make it easy for you to find the right size for each of your fingers.

So now it's time to say goodbye to the weekend and get back into work mode. I will spend the evening with my to do list and two cats, both on my left.

I hope you had a great weekend!


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Quirky, But Approachable

In Florida, we had dinner at a very fun restaurant which had a cheese board appetizer on the menu.

If I could only pick category of food to have for the rest of my life, it would be dairy. Milk, cheese, yogurt, sour cream - I love all of it. Well, except Swiss cheese, which I can only describe as a taste that reminds me of the smell of West Texas. If you've ever driven through West Texas, you know what I'm talking about. You'd never put that smell in your mouth, I can assure you.

I'm actually not even sure Swiss cheese is really cheese, because if you can get past the hideous smell and taste, you discover that the texture is rubbery - like a superball! So let's just exclude that abomination from the dairy category, and I welcome the rest as my one true chosen food group.

So we ordered the cheese board. It had some beautiful cheeses on it all with unusual toppings. The one we liked the most was a VonTrapp Oma cheese from Vermont, which, praise the Lord, I found at Whole Foods! It was topped with (reserve your skepticism) something called "olive caramel", which was incredible. Black olives in a jammy sauce that appears from the recipes I found to be very simple.

So when the cheese dude brings the board to the table, he describes each of the cheeses. Sometimes, in restaurants when this is happening, you sort of tune out and avoid eye contact - or I do, anyway. It's sort of awkward - I read the menu and I ordered it - it just seems weird to have some poor waiter memorize it and rattle it off to you when all you want to do is eat cheese and talk to your companions.

But this cheese dude obviously shared this feeling, and he inserted some hilariously weird language into his spiel - we almost didn't notice at first, until he finished describing the Oma cheese as "quirky, but approachable."

I thought we were going to die from the giggles after he left.

I do love my cheese to be approachable. And unapproachable cheese (like Swiss) is a real tragedy in my book.

Now I refer to all my cheese as quirky, but approachable. Sort of like me, really.

Today was a red letter day for sure. I got my MISTI stamp positioning tool, and after Maddie Bat got done sitting on the box, I got to play with it.

Now you might be asking "What is a MISTI?"

Well I first heard about this tool in this thread on Splitcoast, where I like to get all my breaking craft tool news.

However, I subscribed to the thread, but like an idiot, I didn't think I NEEDED this thing. I read the posts and the tips but didn't truly understand the wonder of the thing until +Libby Hickson came to Texas for a holiday visit. I went up to stamp and play with her and the Texana Designs crew while she was here and someone had one. It took exactly 45 seconds for me to NNNNEEEEEEEDDDDDDD one. Unfortunately, by that time, the secret was out, and this genius inventor was scrambling to find a manufacturer and fill backorders, so I had a little wait. Turns out the timing was perfect though because I was gearing up for Leadership and didn't have time to play.

Today, I shooed away the critter, opened the box, and joyfully stamped 24 customer thank you cards for February orders - all PRECISELY lined up and completely identical. That's right - with Lotus Blossom.

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Color Combo - Crumb Cake (solid image), Baked Brown Sugar (middle image), Early Espresso (teeny detailed image. 
Stem is Baked Brown Sugar and Early Espresso.

The hinged lid lets you stamp in EXACTLY the same place every time, which is perfect for an image like this. What I do is put the cardstock into the corner of the MISTI and put the stamp face down on my cardstock. I pick it up with the lid of the MISTI and then it's in exactly the right place. When you've stamped all of one layer of the flower, position the card back in the corner, and then lay the second stamp face down on your first stamped layer - do this right now with your Lotus Blossom set and you'll see what I mean - stamp the solid image, and then put the middle image, stamping surface down on top of it - you can line it up COMPLETELY precisely. Then imagine closing the lid on it to pick it up and shazam - you can stamp it 1,000 times in a row in exactly the right place. It's a complete miracle. It does for cling & clear stamps what the Stamp-a-ma-jig does for wood stamps.

Here's a video explaining it better than I can:

As you all know - I'm old school - I love wood mounted stamps.

But THIS is making me all giddy about all my cling & photopolymer stamps - oh, the places I'll go!

And I love this entrepreneurial young lady creating the American dream in her living room. Just makes me happy to support a person who makes something wonderful in our country.

Do YOU want one of those beautiful Lotus Blossom cards I made perfectly in a jiffy?

All you have to do is place an order this month :). Lotus Blossom is a free Sale-a-Bration set.

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