Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Play Date Cafe Challenge #10

I am so thankful when it comes to a blog 'makeover', you get to try and try and try until you fall in love with what you've done.  Now the problem with all that trying is it usually takes up an entire day of being at the computer, but I think it's just another form of creativity.  I love shabby chic and the romantic colors, so I hope you enjoy it while it never know when it might be changed again!
      So the sneak peek above is to whet your appetite for these luscious colors for this week's Play Date Cafe Challenge.  I LOVE THEM!  The inspiration comes by way of The UK this week, so get on over and see what the fabulous PDCC Design Team
put together to inspire you.

I didn't use nearly as much brown in fact, it's just the base of my card.  But I thought the other elements of this Valentine's card worked really well for the challenge.

The focal point is vintage sheet music from the 1940's.  Also vintage are the foils that were recycled from very old baby shower decorations.  Remember the tissue paper garlands that pulled out to spell 'Congratulations'?  I managed to purchase a number of these awhile back and loved die-cutting them for these hearts.
I used the Damask EF for the silver metallic layer and fabulous turquoise glitter on a chipboard letter.
The die cut tag is from 'Snowed In' by My Mind's Eye.

In an effort to stick with the goal of using more of my older paper collections, I will do my best to share those by name, when I can.  This card uses pretty pinks from Making Memories' 'Sabrina' Collection.
That's one down...many, MANY more to go!

This card is currently for sale in my Etsy Shop.

Go...have fun with this challenge!
Let's see if we can get a record 
number of players this week!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Shifting Gears...Babies & Valentines...

 I have been having so much fun playing with two different paper collections, so I thought I would share these with you.

The first is Graphic45...'Baby 2 Bride'.


I used 3 different pages from this collection.

The base is 'Sentimental Baby' that I ran through
'The Bug' using the Swiss Dot EF.  I love this page because it has the verses to 'Rock a Bye Baby'

The next layer is 'Unforgettable'.  This page has a variety of squares that can be used together or can be cut apart.  I used 6 squares together.

The final addition was the sweet tag from the 'Tags' page.  This page has the most beautiful tags to choose from.

I distressed the edges of two layers and embellished with satin pearls, trim and platinum Stickles.

Now for something completely different.....

This Valentine card features the beautiful 'Artsy Urban' collection from GCD Studios.

I love the texture of all the collections from this company.  These papers are no exception.  The linen finishes and embossed glittered roses are so beautiful!

I die cut the scalloped hearts from Spellbinders and layered them using dimensional tape.  I added Prima flowers and centered one with an 'Artsy Urban' crochet flower.

The sweet angels were taken from 'The Book of Friendship'.  I love these chunky books that can usually be found in the Bargain Book section of Barnes & Noble.  They make great clip art!

Of course,
I couldn't finish without some vintage lace, vibrant rhinestones and icicle Stickles.

So there you have it....two VERY DIFFERENT creations.

Before I go, I wanted to say thank you TO YOU!  I have loved getting to know so many of you through your visits to  
The Open Window.
I think 2010 will contain some very exciting months as we continue to communicate and share through this fabulous place.  My plans for New Year's Day is to play and create...I am making a deal with myself to use what I have.  Now, that doesn't mean that I won't be out there buying up the latest papers and stamps...that would be ridiculous! intentions are to try and use at least one thing I already have on hand in each of my projects and then share that with you.  So what do I have the MOST of that I need to use?  Paper...paper...PAPER!  Of course, many of us have things that we just don't want to part with...and I will hang on to those (and maybe share those along the way as well).  But I do need to start using more of my papers no matter how old they are.

So here is what I want to know from you?  What do you have the most of that you would be willing to try and use more of in the coming year's creativity?  I am sure we would ALL LOVE TO please leave me a comment....
Let's have fun with this!

Monday, December 28, 2009

An Award for us All!

My friend Jill, owner of The Stamp Man in The UK is hosting a fabulous blog hop this week.  She is giving away a wonderful array of goodies throughout the hop.  I spent a little time yesterday making my way around and enjoyed every minute of it.  I hope you will take a few minutes and hop along too.  I have always enjoyed playing with stamp images from Great Britain and I know you will too!  So make sure you check it out!

As for the award above...I love this idea.  Jill has encouraged each one of us to choose our favorite crafting project from this past year.  Once we do, we get to share this award.  I thought for mine, I would 'cheat' just a bit and share my favorite 'post' which happens to feature many of my favorite projects
that I have created in 2009.  
I happily share much of my crafting background as well.

Here's a sneak peek...

I hope you will enjoy the post and the projects.  Each of them have been featured on my blog in various posts.  You can read about them, and the inspiration behind many of them, by checking out the archives from September and October.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sharing a Lovely Christmas with You

I think this photo tells the story...a very tuckered out pussy cat after a very lovely Christmas Day!

As the Christmas holiday winds down, I thought I would take this opportunity to share some photos of the day with you.  I think it's one of the few days in the year that you can actually get family photos taken, don't you?  I thank you in advance for indulging me.

I managed to get 4 trees up total this year.  This is one of my little vintage ornament trees.  I love anything in miniature, especially Christmas ornaments, so this is one of my favorite trees.  I also have another with miniature Santas.  The tree in the background is a tree that I leave up all year and decorate with the seasons.
For Christmas, it's all done in greens, blues and golds
in a nature theme.

I used a bit of creativity for my table this year.  I used fun Christmas paper from Paper Studio for placemats.  With the candy cane napkins and acrylic plates, it was very festive.
With all the little ones at the table, paper and plastic
was the 'safest' way to go!
The glow from the mosaic candle centerpiece was so beautiful,
but I just couldn't capture that on my camera.

You may recognize these two little ones because
I speak of them often.
This is my daughter Mallory and her boys, Caleb and CJ.

This is my son Alex and his fiance, Jayme
with my grandson, Alex Jr.
The little one was so tired out but beforehand,
he was a bundle of energy as he
opened his presents and then helped his mommy and daddy too!

I absolutely LOVE this photo of all of them together.
I am so proud to have had a part in creating this lovely crew!

I don't share my own photos often, but I had to show you
the 3 loves of my life...

Before I close, I wanted to share a couple more photos...this is what we awoke to this morning.  After nearly 2 inches of freezing rain between Christmas eve and Christmas evening, this was a welcome sight.
Make sure you click on the photo to get the full effect!

The flakes were just lovely.
As of this posting, we accumulated over 5" of this lovely white stuff and tomorrow promises 3"-4" more.  Brrrrrr......

Last but not least, it was such a lovely coincidence today that I had planned to post this photo.  The sweet fuchsia elephant at the top left was a gift sent to me several years ago from the UK by my dear friend Sarah.  You know Sarah as one of our designers over at The Play Date Cafe and as the host of her own blog, The Art of Moodling.  If you have been following me for very long, you also know that Sarah and I have been friends for nearly 10 years.  The coincidence comes by way of a phone call I received today from dear SarahWe spoke for nearly 90 minutes, but the time sure flew by!  I love having a friend who, even though we don't speak by phone very often, we can just pick up where life has left off and never miss a beat.
I love putting that ornament on my tree each year.  Of course it reminds of me Sarah...but more importantly, it reminds me of a friendship that has flourished over the years.  Some would find the distance to be an excuse not to try...Sarah and I find the distance a reason to try harder to stay connected.
Funny thing is, we don't have to try all that hard..... 
love you, my friend....

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Dear Friends...

I am looking forward to a wonderful Christmas dinner with my husband Paul, my children Mallory and Alex and my sweet grandsons, CJ, Caleb and Alex jr.  My dad started a tradition in our home when I was very small.  Gifts would be opened in this order: oldest adults down to the youngest child.  He hoped that it would encourage the little ones as they grew older to learn patience.  I must say that as a youngster, patience was the last thing on my mind and my brother's.  But do you know, we both have carried on that tradition.  I think my dad would be so happy to know that.  But our reasons are very different.  We carry on that tradition in honor of him and the childhood memories that come with it.  We will also share the Christmas miracle that is the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, but that will be because it is our belief and where our faith for the coming days comes from.

The vintage photo above I share with you today to wish you a lovely Christmas day.  It symbolizes love and peace and the hope that we all have for new miracles each day.  Thank you for becoming my new friends and thank you for sharing life with me and my family.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.....Julie Ranae

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Very Happy Christmas Eve to You!

Well, you know it's been a few days since posting when
Google asks you to 'sign in'!

These photos are just a glimpse of what we woke up to this morning.  Actually, the ice storm started yesterday afternoon and by midnight, when I drove to pick up my husband from Barnes & Noble, it was absolutely treacherous.  My daughter Mallory, who works at one of the local hospitals, called me mid-morning to tell me that she lost power because of 2 snapped lines and had to be shuttled to work by hospital security.  The lovely 14" of snow that we got nearly 2 weeks ago is now a frozen tundra.

This bush is just outside our front door.  To be honest, all of the trees right now are absolutely beautiful.  But the weight of the ice is snapping branches all over the city.  There is another inch or so of this ice to come yet tonight, but I have heard that we should awake on Christmas morning to a lovely snowfall.
Here's praying that happens!

I'm sorry I have been a bit MIA over the past week or so.  The holidays are definitely a busy time for all and I know we will all be back online after our Christmas naps.  I have already begun working on some wonderful Valentine projects that I am anxious to share.

Before I go for today, I wanted to share 'Lucy's annual Christmas photo'....well, that's what I call it anyway.  It seems that every year, Lucy creates some sort of 'photo op'.  Usually it's near the tree or the gifts or even the fireplace.  I have plenty of those photos, but this year, as soon as I put this crinkly satin paper into this box, her radar went up.  I turned around to find her sitting inside 'just waiting for the camera flash'.
I am convinced that she knows EXACTLY what she is doing!

I look forward to sharing Christmas with you for a little while tomorrow...God bless......

Monday, December 21, 2009

Celebrate With Us!

to the CelticWoman herself, Sandi Kelly!

You know Sandi as one of our designers for  
The Play Date Cafe Challenge.
I have come to know Sandi as a friend and an encourager.
I wish you many happy returns of the day.....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Play Date Cafe Challenge #9

Cue music....'It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year'...
Can you hear it?
Maybe more importantly, can you SEE it?

I spent a little time out Christmas shopping with my mom today.  Each December, we choose one day to go out and use up those last minute coupons that entice each one of us in and then we follow it up with a nice lunch, usually at Granite City.  While at the mall, as a little bonus, I always make at least one stop at Barnes & Noble to get a glimpse of my very busy husband.  Busy seems like an understatement, and I must tell you that tomorrow is his final day off between now and Christmas.  So we are planning a bit of a 'veg' day and I am really looking forward to that.

I decided to play along with the girls on the design team for this week's Play Date Cafe ChallengeJulie Campbell is our design team host and has led the way with these gorgeous colors.
There were so many directions I thought about taking this, but decided to keep it on the simple side.

I placed a lovely clip art image behind a fabulous frame from Graphic45's 'Christmas Past' collection.  The photo doesn't quite bring out the brilliance of the royal blue and brilliant gold cardstock layers underneath, but they are definitely there.  Embellishments include a little ivory lace, gold cording, buttons and tulle flower from Making Memories.  The large flower center is one of the new brads from the Artsy Urban Collection by Melody Ross for GCD Studios.  Top it off with a little Stickles in gold and
Polar White Flower Soft.

I encourage you to make a little play time for yourself
and join us for the challenge.

Now that the holiday season is fully upon us, 
here is what I want to know....
What has been your favorite seasonal pleasure so it something you baked?  Is it your child's school program or your grandchild's church play?  How about the Santa at the mall or better yet, the little ones who are standing in line...little girls in satin dresses and little boys in sweaters and bow ties?
For me, it's each opportunity I have to drop a little something in The Salvation Army Red Kettle.
I hope you will leave a comment and share 
what makes you smile this holiday season.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Play Date Cafe Challenge #8 and yes, a little sadness...

Bet you didn't expect these colors this time of the year, did ya?!  Well, when you pop over to The Play Date Cafe and see what our Miss Alison has to say about her inspiration for this week's challenge, you may begin to look at Christmas colors
in a whole new way!
Some great surprises over there this week including our December Guest Designer, Mona Pendleton of Cupcake's Creations
So head on over and we really hope you will play along this week!

Well my friends, this is what 14 inches of snow looks like out of Julie's Open Window.  Not much but a vast wasteland of white.  As many of you know, if you have been following me since the fall, our wonderful city tore out all of our existing tree lines and shrubs to make way for the 'road to nowhere' (click here to really get emotionally attached).  Last year at this time, this would have been such a lovely scene with the church just in the background, but those days, as they say, are gone.  Sad....yes I am.  I have found myself feeling a number of emotions that I never thought I would attach to the scene in my own backyard. 
But there they were, rearing their heads all day long.

This is one scene that hasen't changed.  The tiny view which comes with 14" of snow from the front door of our condo.  The winds were whipping around over 30 mph last night and this morning,
so my poor holiday flag just gave up.
I have lived all my life, with the exception of a few months here and way over there, in Northern Illinois.  I always thought that I would be sad if I couldn't spend this time of year right here with the snow and yes, the cold.  But I have to say, after a day like today, I am seriously re-thinking that idea!

So here is what I want to know from you.....
What have you given up by moving from your roots that you never thought you would miss, but now you reeeaally do?   
Please leave me a comment
I know I am not the only one who has experienced these feelings of 'should we, shouldn't we' and your response just might be the medicine I need!

As my 4 year old grandson Caleb used to say...
'See you Umorrow!'  : )

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter in Illinois...Design Team Call Still On

Happy Monday to you all!
How was your weekend?  Did you manage to get some holiday shopping done?  I'm afraid I did not as I was busy getting batches of these snowflakes done for Etsy orders.  Aren't these winter white with silver and pearl just sweet?  I thought so too!  If you just don't have time to make little embellishments like this,
then pop over to my Etsy store.
They are great beyond the holiday season, too!

What we did manage to do is get some decorating done.  This is just a little peek at our main tree.  I usually have 4 or 5 up scattered about.  Some are table-top trees with themed collections, so once those are finished tomorrow, I would love to share them with you.  It should be the perfect Christmas decorating day as well.  From the weathermen of our 4 local channels to the experts as The Weather Channel, we are settling in for a  
 potential foot of snow
beginning early in the morning.  Perfect....aaaah.....

If you hadn't heard, The Open Window has announced a design team call for those who specialize in vintage/retro paper arts.  There are so many wonderful places to draw inspiration from for lovers of vintage and we have a new challenge blog that we want to include in that list.
To get all the details, click HERE!

Some of my favorite vintage-style blogs are:
Some of my favorite retro-style blogs are:
Visiting these blogs may help you to know if you have THE STYLE!

I just HAD to share this with you before I go.
I have yet to set this up during this season, but I found this photo from last Christmas as I was looking for something else and it just made me smile.  That's 15 year old Lucy.  I'm not quite sure if she felt left out or if she was on guard duty....either way, she was able to weave in and out without one of those pieces moving.  The reason that is so amazing is because she is not a slight kitty....
she weighs nearly 12 pounds!

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Play Date Cafe Challenge #7

It's that time once again!  The Play Date Cafe Design Team have a wonderful array of projects to inspire you to play.  This week, there is also an additional opportunity to win one of the actual projects featured in the what are you still doin' here? 
I give you permission to head on over now.

It's a busy time of the year and you may not have enough time to make the little things.
I added these fun snowflakes to my Etsy store today along with some matching borders.  You can get the snowflakes on their own or as a complete package, so if you need a little something extra, stop on over!

Back later....till then, enjoy the day!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lots of Fun to Share

It's been a really nice day here in Northern Illinois...55 degrees as I post this message.  But alas, it is not to last.  The temps are due to dip down into the 20's by tomorrow with yes, a bit of snow.
So I made this little card because of it's cheery colors.

I used a variety of fun things to get this one done.  I embossed the Basic Grey background using my new Cuttlebug Paisley EF which I got my friend Mona.  I made a matching paper flower with the Scalloped Nestibilities and finally, finished off the border with my Martha Stewart Loop punch.'s a lot of matchy-matchy...but I think it works!
At the end of this post I have some great news
for those who LOVE this border,
so make sure you keep reading.

So I was very excited to receive an email from my friend Heidi who runs the blog for GCD Studios.  If you have been reading my blog for very long, you KNOW I LOVE GCD STUDIOS!  Heidi wanted to let me know that one of my cards was featured on their blog as they were honoring past blog candy winners and fans, of which I am BOTH.  If you click HERE, you can read the post and
you will find my card.

Then today, the FedEx truck stopped by to deliver these 3 fabulous sets from GCD Studios!
Included in the box were some fabulous embellishment packages to go with the latest release of the 'Artsy Urban' Collection by Melody Ross.  So I am looking forward to working with these
FABU collections!

In case you though I had forgotten about the 'Autograph Sessions' with our artists and authors, I truly have not.  On the fact, I have been working to edit all the fabulous information that has been shared by these wonderful folks and am hoping to get a new Session up in just a few days.  To whet your appetite though, I can tell you that we have a couple of wonderful 'famous' stamp designers along with mixed media artists and workshop instructors and of course, our authors, whose books really tell the story.  Speaking of story, if you love art journaling, you are going to love our next guest, so make sure you stay tuned!

If you hadn't heard, The Open Window has announced a design team call for those who specialize in vintage/retro paper arts.  There are so many wonderful places to draw inspiration from for lovers of vintage and we have a new challenge blog that we want to include in that list.
To get more details, click HERE!
Some of my favorite vintage-style blogs are:
A Vintage Chic, Iralamija, Lilybean's Paperie
Some of my favorite retro-style blogs are:
Gauche Alchemy, Just Add Glitter & Stir, A Vintage Spirit and Chronically Vintage
Visiting these blogs may help you to know if you have THE STYLE!

Last but not least, I have heard from a number of you who are just not able to get your hands on one of my favorite punches, the Martha Stewart Loop punch.  So I thought I would go ahead and offer some of my favorite borders to you in my Etsy Store.

These are the borders I used in the card above and they are ready for you to add to your cards and scrapbook pages.  They are large enough to cut in half so you double what you already get AND many of these are double-sided papers, so you have more choices.
So click here or on my link at the top of my sidebar to see what choices are there.
I will do my best to add to the selection as quickly as I can.

Long post....long overdue!  Thanks for hanging in with me.
that greeting card at the top...
That's for YOU!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Calm & Serene...and a DESIGN TEAM CALL

Did you survive Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
I love Thanksgiving but I must say that I feel sorry
for those who have to be
to work at 3am for the feeding frenzy.
Wouldn't make for a very relaxing day.

So now that a new week has begun,
I thought I would share a project that has
a more peaceful and serene setting.
I think, at last count, there were 10 layers
to make this a very, dimensional greeting.
The die cuts are from My Mind's Eye
and the snowflakes are from Martha Stewart.

It has definitely been a busy time for me here at  
The Open Window.
My Etsy shop has been busy with special orders and so I am doing
my best to get it re-stocked with new things for the holidays.
I will be listing this card as soon as I can, so if you would like it, as it will not be duplicated,
then head on over and make your purchase.

DeSiGn TeAm CaLL......
There is always something new going on and
now we are looking for some new designers with a vintage edge.
Are you a vintage girl or guy?
If so, then we want to hear from you!
We are looking for designers who would like to participate
in a brand new challenge
beginning in January 2010 which  
focuses on a style reflecting pre-1975.
Call it it retro...are we calling YOU?!?

Here is all you need to do:
Send me an email with your name and blog link.
If you would like, you can send up to 3 JPEG files
of favorite projects
you have done which reflect your vintage-style.
Send a list of any online galleries you participate in
such as Splitcoast, Graphic45, The Play Date Cafe, etc.
and please let us know if you have been or are
currently on any other design teams.
We are asking a 6 month commitment to the team
contributing one project per week
with possible hosting once per month.
Deadline for design team submissions is Sunday, Dec 20th.
We welcome designers from all over the world!

See you tomorrow.....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Living in the Moment

Been thinking a lot this week about how quickly time passes.
I think I do that at this time every year because
time seems so specific
between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it's a very easy gauge.
It prompted me to pull out a couple of stamps from
The Artistic Stamper
and combine my thoughts into one card.

I did a little stamping and combined My Mind's Eye die cuts.
Everything was aged using Adirondack in Coffee.

This card is a gentle reminder to enjoy the moment.
So here is what I want to know...
What do you look forward to the most
at this time of the year?
Please leave me a comment...I love when you share.

For me, decorating in a creative way. 
I thought I would lend to the holiday spirit by
bringing new decoration to  
The Open Window and to The Play Date Cafe.
I hope to get my Christmas trees up on Monday.
At last count, I think I have 5.