Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oh Baby....It's Another Challenge!

   I mentioned yesterday that my friend Mona from Cupcake's Creations is a part of a new challenge called 'Just Us Girls'...she is this week's host...and here is my offering!


The challenge this week was to add a 3-D flower to a project.
I have been wanting to play around with crepe paper flowers for the past couple of weeks and this was a great opportunity to do so.  I had a 3-tiered flower ready, but not in the colors I needed to complete this baby card, so will have to share that with you another time.

I love the retro vibe that crepe paper adorned with glitter provides.  I used patterned papers from Prima's Nursery Rhyme Collection and did a little distressing.  To make the glittering really simple, I used Stickles in silver, on both the flower and the sentiment frame.  Of course, the frame was made using Spellbinders Labels die cuts and a sentiment from Phrase Cafe.  The pastel pearls finish it off.

Speaking of challenges, did you get the new color combo for this week's Play Date Cafe Challenge?  If not, get on over and see what's next...and while you are there, I hope you will congratulate our Spotlight entry and Fab 4 winners.  All of our participants did a fabulous job last week...and now, it's YOUR turn!

The Play Date Cafe Challenge #2

What a great week it was to see the very first Play Date Cafe Challenge come and go!  I hope that you will play along with the design team for this week's challenge, which is being  
hosted by Sarah over on the PDCC blog.

This is my offering for challenge #2.

I used a fabulous set of stamps from The Tracey Coates Collection of 'Aspects of Design' for The Stamp Man
My friend Jill Tuck owns this wonderfully popular store in North Yorkshire, which is in one of the most lovely areas of the UK.

I used chalks to color in the image and added touches of sparkle with silver Stickles and pewter rhinestones.

Of course, I had to add a touch of vintage lace along with the Brocade EF from Cuttlebug for texture.
The patterned paper is from My Mind's Eye 
'SpidersWeb' Collection.

I hope you will stop over at The Play Date Cafe and play along.
We are having a whole lotta fun and
we would love to have you!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

BOO! Catchin' Up With You!

I was trying to think of all the things that I have done over the past couple of weeks that I haven't talked about.
I've been extremely busy organizing The Play Date Cafe Blog
and my attention has been divided.

So let's catch up, shall we?!

 There have been a lot of fun things going on in blog land, especially this month.  The weekend of October 17th-18th, I participated in 'The Hauntingly Magical Celebration' sponsored by A Fanciful Twist.  This was a blog hop-style party to end all parties!  I visited over 300 blogs and met so many creative people.  Yes, I truly did visit each blog and yes, it really did take me two days, but it was terrific.  One of the bonuses when you participate in these hops is that many hosts have giveaways just for stopping by and leaving a comment.  I was notified not once, but twice this week that I would be receiving gifts.  So when those arrive, I will be sure to share them with you.  I was also contacted by Michelle from Faerie Dust Dreams.  She mentioned that I was officially her 100th follower, so she is sending something as well.
WOW!  What a week!

 What else?  OH!  My friend Mona from Cupcake's Creations was recently asked to participate on the DT for the new Just Us Girls (JUGS) Challenge.  I am doing my best to get a project submitted to show my support and I hope you will make a visit as well.  Mona is actually this week's host so perfect timing!  When I was over at Mona's blog earlier today, I left my comment and as on many of our blogs, I had to type in the 'verification code' before my comment was complete.  Well, look what my code was:

How fun was it to find a security code 
that actually had some meaning?!

Well...I think it's time for me to get ready for tomorrow's  
Play Date Cafe Challenge.  Are you ready to play this week?  I hope so.  The designers and I have had so much fun preparing projects to jump start your creative juices.  Our first challenge had entries from all over the globe and we couldn't be happier.

 Beginning at midnight EST, you will see not only the new challenge for the coming week but also
and our 
Good luck to all!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Play Date Cafe Challenge...Join Our Network!

Visit Play Date Cafe

Tonight brings the deadline for the very first Play Date Cafe you STILL HAVE TIME to enter. The design team have been overwhelmed by the response, not only in entries, but also in encouraging comments that have been left on each of our blogs.

We would love to have you take the next step in your support. First of all, if you have yet to visit the new home of The Play Date Cafe, click here and get on over. While you are there, we would love if you would become a public follower to show your support. From there, we hope you will consider being a part of The Play Date Cafe Social Network. This is a new Ning Group that was set up to archive the design team's entries to each challenge as well as a place where you can make friends and archive your own photos. This is also a great public gallery to use if you do not have a blog of your own.

Get those challenge entries in and watch for the next challenge this Thursday. Our UK designer, Sarah Anderson will be your host. I hope you will make a visit to her blog and check out this post on her creative process for these challenges....very informative!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Constant State of Excitment..Another Announcement!

I believe Sarah summed it up best over on The Play Date Cafe Blog...and here's what she said...

"I seem to be in a constant state of excitement!"

I am so happy to announce that I have been asked to be a part of the Artistic Stamper Creative Team.
The unique aspect of this appointment is that Jennie, Hels and most of the gang are all located in an area just east of me called The United Kingdom!  I am so excited to be working with the English marketplace and am looking forward to meeting these ladies in early 2010, as Paul and I make a much needed visit to see his mum.

The Artistic Stamper offers an outstanding range of unmounted rubber stamps and the latest products to enhance all of your mixed media art.  Each team that I am a part of has their own unique style, and The Artistic Stamper caters to those who love collage, texture, altered art and more.

Jennie is famous all over Great Britain for her  
Grungepaper Roses
Rumor has it if you click here, she will teach you how to make them.  She is an instructor and demonstrator and can be found traveling to some of the biggest rubber stamp shows in the country.

I hope you will make a cyber-journey over to The Artistic Stamper blog and say hello.  Jennie and Hels are looking forward to your visit and will gladly welcome you!

The Play Date Cafe Challenge...

Because of the overwhelming response we are already having to our brand new Play Date Cafe Challenge, I have decided to give The Challenge it very own's the details...

You can head on over the new Play Date Cafe Challenge Blog by clicking this link.  Sign on to follow along and when you are ready, Mr. Linky is there for you.  The rules to the challenge are posted on the sidebar AND in the post.  You will find everything in the post is duplicated and transferred.

If you prefer to play your first challenge directly from
The Open Window, just click here for the challenge.

It was my intention to wait until our next challenge to do this, but the response has been such that I felt it was best to do it immediately.  Also...there will be less confusion as I continue my regular daily posts and features.

SO...if you have ANY QUESTIONS, please feel free to email me at
In the meantime....I will see you at THE PLAY DATE CAFE!

So Happy for You! So Happy.....

 I am so excited to tell you that my dear friend Sarah, who is a design team member for our very own Play Date Cafe Challenge, is now officially a brand, new DT for
The Stamp Attic in the U.K.
 Here's the announcement:

"Today we gained a new DT member, Sarah Anderson. I have known Sarah for quite a long time now. She is a teacher from near Manchester and is a sucker for mixed media and texture. Her work is just wonderful so I was very pleased when she agreed to join The Stamp Attic team.  
Welcome aboard Sarah.
She belongs to Julie's Open Window Play Date Cafe Design Team. Each challenge is a selection of colours etc to use to produce a piece of artwork. For more information just visit The Open Window and Julie will explain all and you can all join in too. All are welcome."


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Welcome to The Play Date Cafe Challenge #1 it is! The Play Date Cafe's very first Challenge! Are you as excited as we are?
Each week, someone from our design team will be your host. What does that mean? It means the color choices and the inspiration behind those colors are chosen personally by that week's host. You never know what story may come with that inspiration,
so be ready for anything.

You may be asking yourself 'what makes this color challenge different?' My answer to you is play along and see what you think. I believe you will find that the color inspirations will be unique, our designers will offer you a variety of projects to draw ideas from and the challenges will be loosely interpreted. Of course, one question remains...WILL THERE BE PRIZES?
YOU BET! We are currently looking for additional sponsors for the challenge, so if you know of a company looking to do so, please let me know. More on that later!
Let's get to the challenge.

Your host for this week is 'yours truly'. Thought I would give the DT a week to get their feet wet. My inspiration from the photo above is pretty obvious. We are certainly in that time of year when we prepare not only for Halloween, but for fall decorating in general.
I hope you will take a good look at the inspiration photo to see just where my color choices came from.
See the 'moon shadow' behind the tree?
What about the few leaves left on that tree?

Here's what we hope you will take from each challenge....are these colors open to interpretation? Yes use your creative juices. Our colors are close suggestions. We are not using specific card stock color names nor brands for our challenges, so you can really break out of the box and have some fun. What we do ask is that the colors that are in the challenge BE your focal can use additional colors,
but let the challenge colors be the focus.

The first project to inspire you is from me...the rest are from a very talented group of women who are so excited to be a part of The Play Date Cafe Design Team. I hope that you will not only draw ideas from them, but visit their blogs and get to know them!

Each week, one winner will be chosen to win the prize of the week and a badge to display on their blog that says 'I won at The Play Date Cafe'. At the end of a month, we will determine a guest designer from our winners to join us the following month. We will also award honorable mentions.

The prize for this week is $25 worth of stamping and scrapping supplies from a variety of companies. So please follow these rules carefully to enter:

You are welcome to combine challenges, but we do ask that they be used for the first time here and that OUR colors are the focus of the card. Just link the card from your blog to Mr. Linky below...JUST THE LINK FOR THAT CARD OR POST...not your entire blog. Any links with the entire blog will be removed from the entries. If you use an online gallery, you may link the same way and please use the code PDCC01 in that gallery.
If you are not a part of a gallery, we invite you to be a part of The Play Date Cafe Social Network and upload your photos there with a link back.
Deadline for prizes is 12:00pm EST Tuesdays...winner will be announced Thursday at the next challenge.
Have fun!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Down on the Farm With Artful INKables

This week's post for Artful INKables was a fun project to do. This card was inspired by the brand new AI rubber stamp set 'Down on the Farm'. This 11-piece set has a little something for many occasions. So I hope you will 'giddy on up' to Arful INKables and order this set for yourself! For more inspiring projects, visit the AI blog.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blog Candy Sneak Peek...Play Date Cafe Opening Soon!

I'm tellin' ya...I can feel it in the air...
and so can the design team!
We are SO excited that The Play Date Cafe
is about ready to open!
If you haven't already, PLEASE circle the date on your calendar...THIS THURSDAY, OCT 22nd is the date for the very first Play Date Cafe Color Challenge.

My fabulous design team has been busy working on so many things. Their color inspirations for the week they are hosting, their projects for the first challenge AND a fabulous surprise for ONE LUCKY WINNER!

Sarah, Alison, Sandi and I wanted to offer something VERY special for those who have been willing to help promote the brand, new challenges. The Blog Candy Giveaway will include a special, personally designed gift from each designer. So one lucky winner will receive FOUR ONE~OF~A~KIND gifts AND stamping goodies! WOW!

Let's take a peek shall we ....

The photo above is a glimpse of what
has designed JUST FOR YOU!
If you missed our visit with Alison,
you can get to know more by clicking here.
Let's's definitely dimensional...I see lots of texture with ribbons, brads & flowers and OH!
A ring at the top...hmmm

So how can you win this and ALL the other blog candy that goes with it? Here's all you need to do.
Just copy the badge at the top of this post or small one from my sidebar...
'I Play at The Play Date Cafe'
and paste it to your blog sidebar and link it back to THIS BLOG. Then, just come back and leave a comment to let me know. That's it!

Of course, we want to encourage to play along with us AND share the news with your friends and fellow challenge-players. We promise you it's going to be a 'different kind of challenge' as we go along, so plan to be there from the beginning!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Etsy Sale...BIG SAVINGS!

Hey everyone....I am ready to add a new selection of cards to my Etsy shop, but I need to clear out some of the cards that were placed in the past few months. So to you, my dear followers, I am offering 30% off all of the remaining items in my Etsy shop.
You can take advantage of this great sale
through Friday, Oct. 23rd!

All you have to do is head on over, see which of my one-of-a-kind creations you would like, then make the purchase. Once I have received notification that you have made your purchase, I will calculate your discount and send you an adjusted invoice. That's all there is to it!

I have a number of cards that have been entered in challenges and have been features on my blog. They are one-of-a-kind, so head on over and take a look.

I will see you tomorrow with a great new project and the first 'hint' of the blog candy up for grabs. For those details, just click here. Until then............

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Hauntingly, Magical Celebration Begins...

Are you ready for a magical celebration?

If you aren't ready for Halloween just quite yet,
this party will get you there in no time!
I am so glad to be participating in the Halloween Party being sponsored by
A Fanciful Twist.

After you read through my posts, I hope you will 'hop on your broom and fly over' to A Fanciful Twist where the party actually begins...a complete list of participants awaits you there and if I were you, I would plan on getting a nice cup of whatever 'brew' is your favorite and settle in to
enjoy the party.

These fun projects are from a Halloween series I have been working on using a number of the wonderful clip art pieces I recently received from
Kris Dickinson
at A Nostalgic Halloween.
My Mind's Eye Spider's Web and Bo-Bunny Gift of Love pattered papers and die cuts really make these pictures come to life, don't they?! The stamps used are from Studio G. I did feel it necessary to give each of our witches a little bling with a small rhinestone on their hats. As miss kitty oversees the coven, they may be a bit jealous of her rhinestone collar.

I really hope you enjoyed your visit to The Open Window.

For my regular followers, pop on over to The Play Date Cafe Designer Sandi's blog...she did a terrific interview with yours truly for her Friday Morning Clutch and I would love for you say hello! Check out her other interviews from past weeks while you're there.
It's a great way to get to know other creative bloggers.

Beginning Monday...I will be giving some little 'hints' as to the contents of our BLOG CANDY GIVEAWAY. There is still time for you to get in on it. Just grab the 'I Play at The Play Date Cafe' button over on the right, place it on your blog with a link to my blog and leave me a comment to let me know. I hope those who do will plan to play along with us as our challenges begins Thursday, October 22nd...go on...get yours now!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Getting To Know You...Part 4

This is the final designer feature for The Play Date Cafe Challenge. You have been so kind throughout the week to stop by and leave your encouragement as we prepare to bring you, what I think, will be something 'just a little different' from your average color challenge,
so a BIG THANKS TO ALL OF YOU. it's my turn. I am not sure what to share that you haven't already seen or heard, but one dear follower said that she 'couldn't wait to see my feature to see what kinds of things I create' made me smile at first because I wondered WHO she thought was making all these things on MY blog, but then it gave me the idea to go back through my own archives for some of my own favorite projects, just as I did with the other designers.
So here we go!

I live in the very same town that I was born in, nearly 50 years ago. It's not as if I never tried to leave, I mean, I have spent time in the southern Wisconsin, the Chicago suburbs and even spent a stretch of time in the North of England, but like a boomerang, I found myself
right back in Rockford!

The truth of the matter is, it's tough to leave family.

The creative people in my life have been my mom and grandma. while I was growing up, I remember my mom selling from home, different clothing lines like BeeLine Fashions and Fashion Wagon...remember those? She was fantastic at it and always looked for creative ways to get the sales in. I believe to this day, that between her techniques and my dad's business ethic, I became one of the few people you will hear say 'I LOVE RETAIL!' Then there was my grandma...the self-taught seamstress who could sew ANYTHING! Each year for Christmas, I would receive handmade Barbie clothes, trunks full! She would sew me clothes for school and reupholster furniture...
all learned just by doing it.

As we all got older, I did end up being a retailer. First I was a bookseller for many years. I worked for a variety of chain bookstores as well as publishers. Marketing was my first love throughout, so wanting my own business came naturally. While working on that plan, I assisted my mom and grandma whenever I could as they worked together, grandma the sewer, mom the embellisher and I the organizer of any craft show we could find. They sold everything from Renuzit dolls to American Girl Doll Clothes.

As you know, I did finally open that store, which I am very proud to say was the largest rubber stamp/paper arts store in our state. Mom and grandma returned the love by being there with Paul and I to pitch in and do whatever they could...pricing labels, stocking shelves, you name it!

Grandma passed away on mother's day a few years ago, which felt so appropriate a day. Each of us moms and grandmas...she taught my mom and I how to do these two things among many: how to be a mom and grandma and how to love creating!

So that's a little about where I come from when it comes to this blog. It's a bit longer than the other designer's stories, but you know how that goes! I could have shared about my life now, but you get that everyday. Maybe one day, I will share all those little oddities about me that you would be surprised to my silly pencil collection and my love of piggy banks. But for now, I hope you connected in some way to not only my story, but to the other designers as well. Our hearts are totally in this new challenge
and we cannot wait until next Thursday!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What A Stash & Julie Ranae's Thursday Night Favs!...scroll down for AI Blog Hop

What an absolutely busy week this has been here at The Open Window. I don't know if you could 'sense' the activity, but I am here to tell you that between my new design team features, the AI blog hop and even MORE news that will be coming in the next day or so,
it's been crazy busy.
But I wouldn't have it any other way!

So what are these photos about? A couple of days ago I received the other half of my birthday gift from dear Sarah in the UK and each of these photos show those lovely surprises. Above is a stash of wonderful bits and embellishments. Those long 'wooden-looking' strips you to see at the right are 'Cracker Snaps' that I asked Sarah to look for. I want to make and teach how to make authentic-style British 'Christmas Crackers' this season. Although we have a fair amount of Peel-Offs to choose from here in the US, it does not compare to the UK and Sarah knows I love them!

This lovely stamp set above came as a surprise gift from Jill Tuck at The Stampman in Yorkshire. When I had my store, I was the only US distributor of 'Aspects of Design' when Jill first released her line. Aren't they stunning?!
Can't wait to use them.

Now...this was just the best surprise of all! When I unwrapped this little package, I did a happy dance. This Pandora-style bracelet came from one of my favorite department stores in England, John Lewis'. Look at that clasp...seriously! The theme is handbags, which couldn't be more appropriate! I think on my last trip to see Paul's mum, I brought home 3 new purses and a fab coin purse,
so this bracelet is just the perfect fit!

Thank you for indulging me as I share those wonderful gifts. I know as creative people, it's fun to see the 'stamp stash' of others. As Sarah and I trade stashes all the time, you will undoubtedly see more. Get to know Sarah even more in the next post down. She was today's feature designer for The Play Date Cafe Challenge!

On to my newest favorites....I have two for you tonight that I have been dying to share, but the past couple of weeks have just not allowed me to get the proper time to do so. So let's go!

Have you been to A Vintage Chic? go,
but make sure you come back.
Julie is your host of this lovely, lovely blog. The projects that are featured here are photographed so well and the snapshots of the California landscape where she resides is absolutely stunning.
When you do stop by, make sure you tell her hello from me.

My next new favorite...I am not even sure how to describe it other than to use the word 'darling'. Do people still use that to describe the sweet things of life. Alice's Little Wonderland is a precious blog that makes you just take a breath and relax. Her designs are sweet and her dialogue is descriptive. This is one of those blogs that just makes me smile, and I think you will smile, too.

I hope you have a chance to visit these special places.
Stop by tomorrow because we are finishing our design team feature as I share a little more about myself,
as the final designer.
I promise I will share things that you
still don't know about me.

Getting To Know You...Part 3....Artful INKables Blog Hop Next Post Down

Again, I can't say enough about the response I have had to the upcoming Play Date Cafe Challenges that will be starting ONE WEEK FROM TODAY! The response has been wonderful. The first challenge colors have been distributed to the designers and 'word on the street is...' they are excited as all get out to share the first color combo with YOU!
Speaking of which, it is time to introduce our next designer.

For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, Sarah may not be a stranger to you. She lives in the North of England and the way we met was quite us, anyway. If you are interested, you can read that story dated June 21, 2009 (for some odd reason, I can't link to it). Sarah has been published in a number of UK crafting magazines including a cover article of which I am the proud owner of an autographed copy.
I will let her fill you in on the rest.

Sarah writes: I grew up in a very creative household with a Mum who was always making things. We were popular at parties as we always took a homemade soft toy as a gift (LOL) and some of those friends still have them as treasured possessions to this day! I am very proud to have my Mum as one of my number one fans now. I studied art at secondary school and for a year at college (I had to choose between Maths and Art and chose Maths as you can always pick up Art in adult life!)

But...I then discovered rubber stamping on a trip to the states at age fifteen. I was fascinated, but it took a number of years for it to come over to the UK so it could become a favourite hobby. I describe myself as a frustrated machine embroiderist as I'd love to do textiles at college, but in actual fact, I enjoy the speed in which you can achieve texture in your work
with paper, paint and a bit of heat.

I met my handsome husband on the way to school at age sixteen and we are very happily married with three children aged 12, 13 and 14. By day I'm a teacher in a special school, a job I adore as it's so rewarding, and I'm challenged to teach creatively every day.

When my own children were younger and I taught part-time and was able to write for Crafts Beautiful magazine, one of Britain's leading magazines. I've had work published in Somerset Studio as well as Stampers Sampler. I've taught workshops at the Stampman in Yorkshire, and continue to teach workshops and demonstrate at HSNW for Paddy's Stamping Place.

Well...THAT's my Sarah!
Hope you feel like you know her just a little bit better.
Tomorrow...I will finish off the designer series
with a little of yours truly,
as I am designer #4.

BLOG CANDY GIVEAWAY...Just a reminder! If you haven't grabbed your Play Date Cafe button yet, there is still plenty of time. You will find it to your right, the one that says 'I Play at the Play Date Cafe'. Copy and paste it to your sidebar, leave me a comment and let me know...that's it. The 'candy' is a surprise, but I promise, YOU WILL LOVE IT! Even more importantly, we hope you are planning to play along when the challenges start and PLEASE...share the news with your friends. Deadline for the blog candy is Wednesday, October 21st.

Back later with Julie Ranae's Thursday Night Favs! FINALLY!

It's Artful INKables Blog Hop Time Again!

Did you stop by here after visiting the AI blog? If not, make sure you start from the beginning at Artful INKables
then proceed from there.
That way, you won't miss any of the great projects.
Today, the AI Design Team is featuring the

For this project, I used the very sweet, all occasion set called 'A Bird's Song'.
Eight great stamps make up this set...a beautiful addition
for your stamp collection.
I am not typically one who does a lot of 'coloring',
but this set makes it SO EASY!

Each blog on the hop will feature one of the new sets and an
opportunity to win BOTH!
Just stop by EACH blog on the hop,
leave a comment and cross your fingers!
That's all there is to it!

I'm so glad you stopped by! I hope while you're here, you will considering becoming a regular follower of The Open Window. We are getting ready to kick off our new Play Date Challenges and we'd love for you to play along...and you can enter for blog candy....HERE!
In the meantime....I will be back a little later today
with a feature on Sarah, another of our fab designers for
The Play Date Cafe Challenge
, so make sure you stop back in a bit!

Your next stop on the hop is Holly's blog...
tell her Hi from The Open Window!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dots and Diamonds...It's an Artful INKables Christmas

It's that time weekly post for Artful INKables.
This set from AI has so many sweet images, but I must say that I love these little gift packages. They can definitely be used for any occasion.

Some of the little 'extras' on this project include using patterned paper from FooFaLa to raise the package 'off the page', sweet little pearls as bow centers and the fun button woven with dotted ribbon. The diamond pattern background was stamped as a repeat pattern using a Studio G $1 stamp. I try to not use other brands when I feature AI, but it just matched the project TOO well!

I hope you will join us at midnight as the Artful INKables blog hop begins! For me, that is in just a few hours. At that time, you will get to see the newest AI rubber stamp sets and have a chance to win both sets as they are unveiled one-by-one by each of my talented design team-mates.