Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Challenge Happy - New Release is here!

Ok - Let's get right down to it.

I had to make some cards for Sweet Stamp Shop's new release (Wednesday Aug. 14th) and I was seriously lacking the needed mojo - so, you know I'm a challenge type of girl... so, that's what I did. I tried some new challenges and participated in some of my 'go to' favorites.

First up - I finally took some time to participate in the 'Timeless Twine' Sketch challenge ... and I tried the (new to me) 'Just Add Ink' Challenge

Timeless Twine

Just Add Ink
And, so this is what I came up with ...

I like how this one turned out - I really like how I made the flower out of one of the tree tops...

Fall Gratitude {new this month}

Next up, I participated in the ColourQ Challenge and paired it with the Clean & Simple Sketch -


Clean & Simple
So here's what I did...

I love the watercolor look and I used an older stamp set 'Today Was' - and I thought it made such a lovely sentiment on the card. Swoon! ---- BONUS, I'm even really diggin' the color scheme. It works! (I wouldn't typically use so many hues in one piece - but, it works!)

Fall Gratitude
Today Was

You know my love for Retro Sketches, right?! I think they always have GREAT samples from the design team... and it really gets my mojo flowin' :)

Retro Sketches

This might be my favorite card of the day... 

Giggle - this card just seemed to really flow well. I think the design ended up working nicely - and I like how I choose to lead the eye from corner to corner... I know, it's just a card... but, the artist in me thinks of those things! lol 


Triangle Style 

Alpha Tabs

I also took a moment to play with Fusion (and I think I'm going to do another card for this one - if I have some time!) 

Fusion Card Challenge
I am using a new stamp set - and I thought it was a cute idea to make a 'menu' out of it... and what's more important on a 'Thanksgiving' Menu than turkey?!?

Chalkboard Sign

Turkey Hotline

Finally, I noticed that the Simon Says Challenge this week was Triangles... and that was just too good to pass up (you'll see with the release tomorrow) and so I did a quick card with some watercolor and gold emboss. I didn't even think it needed a sentiment. Sometimes, no words are needed - don'tcha think?

Triangle Style

Thanks for stopping in on the blog this week -

Hugs and Happy Stamping!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Playing Along WIth CASE Study

You know how I love CASE Study challenge blog - I play along as much as I possibly can (and if I don't think of it on a wednesday - they're between challenges on that day)

Here is the inspiration card... 

This card is by Maile Belles

Here is my take on the card... 

  I love to use watercolor - (even if I'm not super duper at it) - I also love to clear emboss and then watercolor. It resists the color and it ends up with such a soft and sweet effect. I'm really attracted to keeping everything neutral except for a spot of color. POP it just works.

I used one of my favorite stamp sets 'Kiss Me' by Sweet Stamp Shop

Thanks for stopping in today - Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ribbon Carousel - May Release

Oh boy - it's been a while since I've been on here. Yuck. My poor blog has been completely neglected.... but, if there ever was a 'half year' resolution - I'm going to have one! Work on my blog!!

Anyway, I'm so happy that we're releasing some new stamp sets over at the Sweet Shop today! Hopefully you've made it here from either

1. Sweet Stamp Shop Blog


2. The Ribbon Carousel Blog

Well, we're having a pretty big celebration for the release today - and I'm so thrilled to show off the new stamp sets... Whew, they are SO cool!

Ready to see the new stuff?!

 Austen Obsessed 

 Weird Love 

Eye Love 

I made this card using the heart in the 'Eye Love' set and the 'Drops Background' from last month

I also used my glittering technique that you can see in this video.... I love this technique and find myself using it ALL THE TIME! 

Here is my card using that glitter technique -

 It ended up looking so nice with the glitter ribbon that I had. It's perfect for just about any occasion, dontcha think?! 

Thanks for stopping by today - I hope you take a moment and head over to the Ribbon Carousel Blog (if you didn't come from there) and if you'd like to see more great release stuff - you can come visit us at Sweet Stamp Shop.

Happy Stamping!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Seeking Perfection - Finding Acceptance

A bit of a weight loss update - if this is the first weight loss post you're reading you might want to go HERE and HERE first, for the whole story. 

I have been so inspired by my friends and family who have taken on the weight loss challenge and have been so successful! --- And, it's so rewarding to hear them mention that my little story spoke to them.

In the spirit of those people I've decided to jump into the deep end and post my first 'two piece' bathing suit photo. I was waiting for my body to be a little smaller - a little tighter - a little closer to 'perfect' - Yep, 'perfect' ....

Which brings me to the theme of my post today: Seeking Perfection - Finding Acceptance.

When I decided to lose weight - I originally was giddy over the thought of losing 20lbs... that would be awesome. Never mind the fact that I actually needed to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-90lbs - I didn't think that was possible.

Turns out - much to my personal surprise - it was possible. 

So, here I am closer to that big number and I find myself just as critical of my body as I was when I weighed my heaviest. Actually, I was probably happier with myself 20lbs ago... not because I thought I looked perfect - but, because I could still fantasize that perfect was POSSIBLE. Now, I'm really close to Nicole's body - and I'm having to come to terms that the 'perfect' I had envisioned just isn't possible.

I thought I would have a tight stomach and little legs - I never thought I would look down and see saggy skin and a couple rolls... I just allowed myself to fantasize that something almost 'impossible' was possible. Perfection.

That leaves me with - what?

Anger, regret, a promise to be a gym rat until I see the 'perfect' I was aiming for (eyes rolled) .... or....

A choice.

A choice to drown in all that's wrong - or to celebrate the accomplishment and ACCEPTING the body that comes with it.

So this new 'love your body' and 'celebrate your accomplishment' sounds like a really good plan.... then BAM

Enter swim suit shopping.

Here comes the trip to Mexico - and I've decided to go with a one piece because I'm just so darn uncomfortable in anything else. I tried on a couple two pieces - turned in the mirror, in horror, and thought - OMG. NO.

I found this amazing one piece that's crocheted and beautiful - (and expensive) - my parents bought it for me .... and I love it. (I actually might wear it everywhere because it's probably the nicest thing in my closet at the moment)

But, I had worked so hard - I wanted to put on that two piece and say, HA! I did it. I achieved my impossible. So, what did I need to do - I needed to accept. Accept that I'm not perfect and that these stretch marks and saggy skin isn't going anywhere (as much as I would like it to) ... it's here to stay.

So, while at Costco the other day with my Dad I saw some two piece bathing suits for CHEAP (love Costco). I bought a couple (just for kicks) ... came home, tried them on, showed my family... and came out of it thinking..... this is for ME. I don't care that I'm probably 20lbs too heavy.... (OR maybe I'm not)... It's just the satisfaction that I've come so far and darn it - I'm wearing it. AND, I'm posting a picture - not just because I said I would (in the first post) HERE. But, because, maybe it's an opportunity to inspire people and to show that maybe 'perfect' isn't possible.... but, 'pretty good' IS!

AND, somewhere along the way to 'pretty good' you'll realize that 'pretty good' is perfect enough.

It's a journey - and it's not over. I hope that if you take anything away from my posts - it's that - anything is possible. ONE. CHOICE. AT. A. TIME.

Ok - I know I have to show a 'before' if I'm showing an 'after' 


Who would have thought that this was possible ?!?

(excuse the self portrait - I'll have something more beach appropriate after vacation :) ... and hopefully I'll add a bit of a tan to the mix :) 

I hope that you know ... it's possible. 


Friday, March 1, 2013

Play Date Cafe Callenge

I got together with my good friend Danni for a little crafty break - and we had such a great time!

We decided to play along with the 'Play Date Cafe' challenge this week.

This weeks inspiration board was SO beautiful - but I learned quickly, I don't have a very large stash of peachy colored items... so, I kinda had to go rogue on this one. (and I guess go a bit more 'pink' than coral)

Here is my take on it...

I used my favorite Freckled Fawn wood chips... (LOVE THEM!) and I embossed the dial from 'Let's Chat'  - and water-colored over it. I love how it turned out.

We had so much fun trying to make the most of my coral stash - I love how different our cards turned out, but so great all around! 
Thanks for stopping in :) 


Sunday, February 17, 2013

70lbs of Bitter Sweet

I'm back with another weight loss update - If you'd like to start at 'the begginning' you'll wanna read THIS post first. 

Guess we should start again with some 'before' pictures. Excuse me as I wince at these. 

This was taken in Greece while we were traveling on our honeymoon - the below picture (in Rome) is my personal favorite (eyes rolled). 

Kinda wish I could go back and thank the random traveler taking this photo that they didn't get more of me in the frame. Yikes.


The first question I typically get asked from someone who notices my weight loss (or finds out about it) is - 'WOW, amazing - How'd ya do it?!' 

Totally fair question - and, probably the same question that I would have asked before all this. But, after losing 70lbs I've learned that's not really what people are wondering and it's not really the 'right' question. No, seriously... wanna weigh less - eat less. Simple as that. Yep, that's 'how' I did it. I ate less. But, wait - that wasn't what you wanted to know, was it? 

Nope. You wanted to know -

WHY did I lose weight... or more accurately (and far less socially appropriate) WHY did I eat myself into a place that I *had* to lose so much weight. 


Oh, man. That's a great question. Honestly, the answer is still something I'm navigating - and probably will for the rest of my life. I wasn't an obese child although, by the time I was in high school I was heavier than most of my girl classmates. Not obese - just 'curvy'. I wasn't tormented about my weight in school - at least not by anyone other than myself. Granted, I didn't have boyfriends or lots of friends even. But, I think I blame that more on the effects of my self esteem than a direct link to my weight. 

A change happened.

I left to college, 3 states away from home, and depression started to tap on my shoulder - and I answered it with food. So, the weight started to pile on. I felt so completely awful about myself, my weight, my failures - still thinking about that time creates a pretty big lump in my throat. One word that could sum up those two years is - Disappointment (and I mean that in the most inward way) 

Jacob, was literally my savior. He quit school - came to me - picked me up and carried me back home again. A broken and considerably fatter version of the girl who had left two years prior. 

I spent the next two years in recovery mode - figuring out how to climb out of the depression... I got engaged and in 2008 was happily married. (honeymoon pictures above) We moved away to the Bay Area (California) from San Diego and we made friends - really good friends. We grew up and learned. We cried and laughed - we started to become adults. I started to see out of the fog that my college years created. When we moved back to San Diego - I started my own business and I LOVED it. (I still do!) I started to feel like myself again. Except, I was carrying around the reminder of my past - by way of weight. 

There was no 'turning point' - nothing that stands out as the 'moment' I decided to make a change. I just remember seeing a quote - it read something like: 

Don't be afraid to be the best version of yourself.

That's what I was doing - I was afraid that if I took another leap (regarding *anything*) I would fail - A G A I N. But, what I was doing was not allowing myself the *possibility* of being the best version of myself. So, I made a change - 

And after 10 months this is what I did - 

Lost. 70. Pounds. 

(Here is a picture from today) 

It was incredibly hard, and not in the way your thinking. The eating part - was completely mindless. Seriously, after the first couple weeks - food was the *easy* part. It's pretty straight forward ... 

Eat less - Weigh less.

But, wait ---- if it's that easy ... why doesn't everyone do it? Or, why didn't I do it years ago??

Because - it's really not that simple. 

Food had a string attached straight from my stomach to my heart. It fed so much more than my body - it fed my emotions. So here's where it gets interesting - here's the stuff no one tells you about weight loss... it's not THE answer. Actually, not even close. 

You know what I mean --- you think to yourself, if I was only thin ... EVERYTHING would be better. Because, you work yourself into believing that your *weight* is your problem. 


Weight wasn't my problem - it was just a symptom - a side effect. Take away that - and then I had to actually start dealing with my real problems. My feelings of inadequacy - being a failure - low self esteem. 

I lost my weight and I took away my excuses. The excuse I used to not make friends - to resist chasing my dreams - to never go anywhere or put myself out there.

When I lost the excuse I had to start to deal with the *real* reasons I didn't make friends easily - didn't go after the jobs I really wanted - or be the *me* I fantasized about. I'm still working on dealing with the 'real' reasons - and most of them are about my paralyzing fear of being rejected - and criticized. (but, ironically enough I'm my own worst critic)

I had to learn how to step back and come to terms with who I was - and how amazing I am. (no really, I was really afraid to admit that I was amazing... do you know the kind of expectations you have for yourself when you admit that you're good looking, smart, funny, and AMAZING - typically I would insert a joke here because I'm so uncomfortable complementing and praising myself - but, I'm resisting.) So, now that I'm coming to terms with it - and I have these new expectations for myself ... I've also opened up myself to the possibility of failure. That's what I'm learning to cope with - that's the tough stuff.

I would like to tell you that I'm the same person I was a year ago - but, one quick glance at my life would tell a different tale. 

If possible, I'm the same - and completely different.

It's been so much harder than anything I expected - and I'm just so thankful that I have my husband with me for this journey. We have lots of counseling sessions with each other and we're the sounding board for all the crazy feelings that we never thought were coming. 

Yeah, weight loss success shocker - it's not all flowers and sunshine. It's a lot of crying and coping - it's a lot of side comments from uncomfortable friends/family (references about eating disorders - and 'you never eat') --- Which, not to go on a rant, but if you see me once in a blue moon and in the three hours that we're together I don't gorge on a cupcake or eat much in your company *doesn't* mean I don't eat. Come spend a couple days with me - and you'll see that this weight loss was hard fought with lots of fruit - veggies - and EATING. And, what's most disappointing is that those people cut themselves off from helping you cope - and they have NO idea.

More over - It's finding where you fit in. Because, you are different. 

It's coping with your loss - You've lost more than weight - 

You've lost that part of you that gives and gives and gives (without mutual reciprocation) because you don't believe that standing alone YOU have value enough. 

You've lost friends and confidants - because people don't know where they fit in now that you're not the fat one. Or, you make them feel self conscious --- or, heck I don't even know.

You've lost your best friend and most loved coping mechanism - food.

You've lost your favorite activity and probably what you and your significant other loved to do most. EAT. 

You've lost that part of you who didn't care about what they ate - and you know that is NEVER coming back. 

I'm realizing that part of my journey was (and still is) a mourning for all that I have lost. 

Then another part of my journey is the part where the phoenix rises from the ashes - the part where I emerge from the shadows as a beautiful, smart, confident, amazing WOMAN. 

The moment when 'I'm Every Woman' starts to play in my head as I walk down the steps rocking that size 6 dress from my Mom's closet (yep, that happened) - 

Or when I glance towards a reflection and don't realize that it's me looking back. 

Even when I go to grab a size small jacket confident I'm going to rip it in half - and I have room to spare

How about when we had our pictures taken and I loved how I looked in all of them - wait for it - I'm like, a knock out. No really. I think I might actually be - beautiful. 

Or when I catch my husband looking at me - in a way he hasn't looked at me in 10 years... my heart flutters. We're kids again - and I'm recommitted to keep this feeling for the. rest. of. my. life. 

When I get up - take a shower - do my hair - get dressed (with pretty underwear) - and I walk out the door feeling like I could take over the world. And, knowing I WILL. 

This journey has meant everything to me. All the tears - all the laughs - all the people who supported me - all those who told me that I would be fine after losing 50lbs (they're the fire to get me to 87 total pounds + !!) 

This is a reconfirmation that NOTHING is black and white. My life is completely, happily, amazingly --- lived in the gray. (perhaps even a little 50 shades style ... lol ok, too much info I know) What I mean, is that it's not perfect - but, I'm growing and learning. And, I'm going to do it as THE BEST POSSIBLE VERSION OF MYSELF.

There will be one more update - in 17lbs when I hit my goal. It might be in a couple months - or longer... but, when it happens. I'll come back with more of the WHY. 

Because you already know HOW. (and you know it) 

Now it's time to ask yourself - WHY.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Getting back into the swing

Dont'cha ever feel like you're one day away from being totally caught up - but, you never actually get caught up? lol - Man, story of my life! I feel like things have been especially busy lately - but, I think that the moment something is crossed off the 'list' something else is added. :) 

I missed the last couple CASE study challenges - so I was so happy to get back into it this week with this card as the inspiration piece. 

I love the use of the twine - the embossing - the rhinestone - and the block feeling of the card. You can see by my card that I really took those elements to heart when putting together my card. 

I have seen wreaths made with twine before - and I think paper. (because the wreaths always seemed fairly flat) I wanted mine to have more of a round wreath feel - so I grabbed the good ol' bathroom paper roll cut off a little piece and folded it so that it was more circular in nature - more 3-d wreath looking - then I just started wrapping it with Timeless Twine. I really like how it turned out --- 

I used the Holiday Sentiments set - from Sweet Stamp Shop 

I've been using this set a TON this holiday! Love it! 

Thanks for popping in!
See you again soon! 


Monday, November 12, 2012

Deck The Halls

Nicole here! 

Can you believe that Christmas is peeking around the corner? 

I'll tell you a little secret - I don't make hand made Christmas cards. 

Nope, every year my husband and I have been married (and the year we were engaged) I've sent out picture cards. It's been an awesome tradition and this year will make 6 picture cards - so I plan to have the first 6 framed. I hope to do this tradition year after year. 

AND, wanna know the best part - I'm not making 50+ Christmas cards by hand. Fact is, I'd hate it. I'd make 3 or 4 and then - it would seem like this huge chore - and the cards would get increasingly sloppy as I 'just wanted to be done' --- and it's just not how I want to spend my crafty Christmas time. Ya know? 

To be honest - it took me a lot of years to not have the 'home made' card guilt. I always worry that people think they didn't get something homemade from me because I don't love them. But, that's all in my own head - people are happy to get anything sent to them. Home made or not, it's the thought that counts! 

I still make a couple Christmas cards - but, I usually box them up for my grandma to send out - that way she get's the joy of getting my home made cards AND she gets to send them off to her friends. Best of both worlds - dontcha think? 

I used the inspirational challenge from 


The inspirational card this time was... 

Pretty yes? 

I decided to get working on the holiday stuff - and this is what I came up with

What's your Christmas card tradition? Do you feel the home made guilt? 

I say - deck those halls ... and craft what makes YOU feel good! The rest is gravy! 

Happy Holiday Season! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Reveal and Deal! Sweet Style

It's here! The last day of the peeks and the full reveal! 

You should be arriving here from 

If not, you'll wanna start at the beginning for a chance to win some SWEET goodies! 

I'm so pleased that we're adding 'Afternoon Delight' to the shop. So many of you have requested it and we're so happy to finally offer it to you! 

Ready to see what I created? 

It's filled with love - and of course, glimmer mist... I can't help it. I just LOVE 
misting EVERYTHING! - It's a real issue. (kinda like my glitter issue and just as messy!) 

Ok, so you're wanting to see the new sets - aren't you?! 

3x4 set 

4x6 set

4x6 set

Don't forget that we're having a sale - 25% off your total order! 


Head over to the shop and check out the new stuff - 

Thanks for dropping in all this week! We LOVED having you!

Happy Stamping! Happy Crafting! 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sweetest Release Day 2

(I'm posting this a little early b/c it's for a challenge - so if you're arriving here on 
Tuesday night - come back tomorrow for the actual hop!) 

November Release Day 2 

You should be arriving here from 

If not - you'll wanna start at the beginning - b/c some pretty sweet prizes are involved :) 

I got my inspiration for the card today from the new CAS(E) the Sketch blog

Here was their sketch for this week... 

Here is my take on the sketch! 

Thanks for dropping by today - Come back tomorrow for the last day of the hop AND we'll be revealing the 3 new stamps sets - as well as adding them to the shop! 

Hip Hip Hooray! 

See you tomorrow!