My blog is called "Creative Smiles" because my designs are the result of incorporating mistakes. With fumble fingers that drop whatever they are holding - repeatedly, it takes a lot of giggles, smiles and creative patience during my crafting process. xx

***UPDATE*** - With the 2020 Blogger format, is your Blogger blog loading very slowly? Mostly in the sidebar? If so, THIS INFORMATION may be helpful.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021


FOLLOW UP POST - As mentioned in my April 14, 2021, Blog Post, Google is doing away with the "Follow by Email" option for Blogger blogs.  

This means anyone using the FOLLOW BY EMAIL gadget on your Blogger Blog (or for those who use Feedburner), they will no longer automatically receive email notifications every time you publish a blog post. 

It also means that if YOU follow other people using Feedburner's FOLLOW BY EMAIL option on THEIR blogs, you will no longer receive email notifications when they publish their blogs.

I currently follow many of you via email notification, and am in the process of removing myself from your lists, and following you via different means. Regarding blogging friends who do not offer that option on their blogs, I have followed for years through the BlogLovin' option. I am in the process of transferring all my FOLLOW BY EMAIL buddies to two other options: Feedly and BlogLovin'.  And hope to determine which is preferential.




I found this webpage that offers a preview of the 6 best free email marketing services. Or click here:

Keep in mind, when it says you can send up to 300 or 500 emails per day, it means one email per address. So if you have 1,500 email followers, that means 1,500 emails per day.

Someone in my previous post mentioned Mail Chimp. They allow up to 2,000 subscribers (that equals 2,000 emails every time you publish). You are allowed up to 10,000 email notifications per month. So if you post 3 times per week, and have 150 subscribers, that would be 1,800 email notifications per month. If you have 300 subscribers, that would be 3,600 email notifications per month, well within the allotment. 



At BlogLovin' you may choose to receive email notifications Frequently, or Daily on a single digest post. Or you may visit the BlogLovin'site periodically, or obtain their app for tablets and phones and follow directly that way. As Connie Crafter pointed out in a comment on April 14, Google acquired BlogLovin' in 2018. This acquisition may be why the free Follow-by-Email option is being eliminated by Goggle on Blogger blogs. Because Google owns BlogLovin', we don't know what the future holds in store for us there. Still, it is a nice option. AND, if you "follow yourself" on Bloglovin, you have a very nice picture of every one of your posts going back years.

That being said, it appears that BlogLovin' has eliminated their convenient organization tool where blogs could be put into categories. They have a tag option which does not appear to have the same usefulness. This is a change in the last few years.

To use BlogLovin', create an account and get started by "searching" for the blogs you wish to follow.

  1. TIP: it is easiest to copy and paste the blog address into BlogLovin's search option.) 
  2. If you don't already have a BlogLovin' account, you may actually have followers without realizing it. 
  3. BEFORE creating your account, search for your own blog address and then CLAIM IT to create your account. 
  4. When you click on CLAIM IT, BlogLovin' will suggest you copy and paste an HTML code onto your Blogger Blog POST. This step is not always necessary. But I found that putting that HTML code into a side bar or the bottom bar of my blog was sufficient. Bloglovin' recognizes its own HTML code on your Blogger blog, for automatic updates. (look at the very bottom of my blog to see where I placed the HTML code unobtrusively) as an ADD A GADGET HTML. 



FEEDLY - is another platform, similar to BlogLovin', but it allows you to organize the blogs you wish to follow. To use Feedly, create a free account. As a new blogger in 2012, I used their platform, but discontinued later for other options. Now I find myself returning to them. Follow the steps below (thanks to Leslie Miller for helping me through the process). (if you are reading from my blog, click on the photos to enlarge)

1. On the left sidebar, click the PLUS symbol:

2.  Copy-and-Paste the blog address you want to follow:

3. Select the option under the word SOURCES (it highlights in grey shown below):

4.  A little pop up box appears. Select the FOLLOW button:

5. Another little pop up window appears so you can either select an existing NewsFeed Category, or create a new feed category. The free option only allows you three Categories:

6.  Add to your Category:

7. You are now AUTOMATICALLY following any blog or website that updates its feeds:

You can also change the "follow options" for each blog, or each category, to suit your needs. 


Hopefully, one of these options will assist you in determining what is best for you in the way of following your favorite bloggers.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Help? Email Subscription Services?

Hi, Blogging Friends. Google is making a huge change to those of us who have a FOLLOW BY EMAIL option via blogger gadgets. They are DISCONTINUING the option in a few months. Here is the letter I received: 

FeedBurner has been a part of Google for almost 14 years, and we're making several upcoming changes to support the product's next chapter. Here’s what you can expect to change and what you can do now to ensure you’re prepared.

Starting in July, we are transitioning FeedBurner onto a more stable, modern infrastructure. This will keep the product up and running for all users, but it also means that we will be turning down most non-core feed management features, including email subscriptions, at that time.

For those who use FeedBurner email subscriptions, we recommend downloading your email subscribers so that you can migrate to a new email subscription service.

For many users, no action is required. All existing feeds will continue to serve uninterrupted, and you can continue to create new accounts and burn new feeds. Core feed management functionality will continue to be supported, such as the ability to change the URL, source feed, title, and podcast metadata of your feed, along with basic analytics.

My questions are: 

Do you use an email subscription service presently?

If so how much is it and do you like it?

Thank you!

Monday, April 05, 2021

Lilacs celebrating new Inspiration Station Challenge!

 Yippee! It's time for a new Inspiration Station Challenge! Because my fumble fingers have not been cooperative, I am playing with more of the Nitwit digital products I've purchased... these cards are made with Lilac Blossoms Digital Set. Having been an avid rubber stamper for 30 years, it feels like I'm cheating by using such great digital sets.

The inspiration board this time: PSST! Remember! It's entirely YOUR take as to what inspires you - it could be emotional, thematic, color, texture. What inspires you today?

Parts of these are digitally layered, and other parts are traditionally put together.

First, the composition was digitally arranged to my liking. Certain components were copy-and-pasted separately, so they could be fussy cut and popped up for dimension. That way, a "map" will show me exactly where to pop up the individual pieces:

Buttons were actually sewn in place on top of the digital button. 

The dark green button has been heat embossed with matching EP:

Distressed edges are heat embossed with a powder that contains fine mica:

I like the little purple dots in the card base:

A pale green Copic Marker was used on the Mother-of-Pearl button to give it a bit of a green tint. Because Copics are transparent, the Mother-of-Pearl still shows through the coloring:

Hope you will drop by and play in the Inspiration Station Challenge

Products Used:

Dies: SB Grand Scallop Squares and SB Scallop Squares (small border)

Digitals by Nitwit Designs Lilac Blossoms Digital Set.

I'm playing in the following fun challenge:

Incy Wincy Designs Challenges (thru April 18) Borders and/or Bright colors 4/19

Spring Time Hugs,

Monday, March 15, 2021

Puppy Celebrating new Inspiration Station Challenge!

 Hi! Did you know there is a brand new challenge on the block? 

It's called Inspiration Station. Although there is an inspiration board, the interpretation is quite broad, so I invite you to take a look and see what you think!


The inspiration board:
(I am inspired by the colors, cuteness factor, and the celebration of life!)

Using elements from Nitwit Digital Paper Collection "Enchanting" and Turquoise and White Cardstock, Bugaboo Birthday Puppy is celebrating in style. The edges are distressed with loose copper glitter, and loose clear glitter. Such cuteness!

Please check out the new challenge, and see what motivates you in your creation. Is it the colors? The shapes? The textures? The subject matter? Or something else entirely. 

Products: Bugaboo Birthday Puppy Set, glitters, inks, Nitwit Digital Paper Collection "Enchanting", Turquoise and White Cardstock.

Challenges I'd like to play in please:

  1. Two Crafty Critter Crazies #48 AG critters! 4/1
  2. World Wide Open DT Challenge #3 AG DT 4/15
  3. Always Fun Challenges #205 Spring 3/22
  4. Inkspirational Challenges #234 Photo Inkspiration 3/20 sep post

Stamping Hugs,

Sunday, March 14, 2021

3-D Embossing Folder and Freebies

 Hello, dear Blogging Friends!

These cards are dedicated to my cherished friend CLARA, who passed away unexpectedly last month. 

I was recently inspired by a brand new blogger Shandy at MERMAIDS AND PAPER HEARTS, and blogging friends Leslie Miller and Connie Griffin, in making the following cards. Shandy inspired me via our conversation about colors and flowers, Leslie via Stencil Embossing (even though mine is with embossing folders instead), and Connie because she is always sharing techniques with us. So I've used VIRGINAL PRODUCTS from my stash! 

Having been hidden away in my stash for years, my Crafters Companion Ornate Lace 3D embossing folder finally felt paper!

After dry embossing, VIRGINAL Encore pigment ink was applied. Each card involves different Encore ink colors:

first, dry emboss:

Then smoosh with pad and/or fingers:

In this case, Encore Ultimate Metallic Teal was rubbed on the raised areas, and then coated with a clear detail embossing powder that contained microfine glitter. The Spellbinders Bitty Blossoms were rolled in the same cardstock as the 3D folder, however, distress ink and platinum pearlescent paints were applied for visual interest. The Silver leaves are from upcycled can lid of Whey Protein Powder LOL. If you're on my blog, click on the photo to enlarge to better see the details:

Whole card:

Black cardstock, VIRGINAL Encore Ultimate Metallic Gold was rubbed on the most raised areas. In the lesser raised areas, I finger rubbed Encore Ultimate Metallic Pink in order to provide a tiny bit of visual dimension. The roses were colored in the same fashion:


This bold blue background was fun and messy! On cardstock made for acrylics, I smooshed various acrylic paints up and down. With a very light brushing of wet glue, I then added tiny bits of blue and silver glitters into some areas. When the finished background was dry embossed, it looked pretty just as it was, but after adding VIRGINAL Encore Ultimate Metallic Silver to the top of the raised areas, it really brought out the glitz! 


There are two coats of clear detail embossing powder on top of the silver ink. Her Virginal Inkiness was so wet, that it took two coats. I learned that highly metallic pigment inks retain their metallic qualities when used with CLEAR embossing powder, because the metallic components IN the ink rise to the surface of the clear embossing powder.

The next card uses the same aqua paper, but with VIRGINAL Encore Ultimate Metallic Silver applied to the top of the raised areas. This card was also "distressed" with the silver ink. How different it looks in comparison to the card using the Teal ink!

This card front was dredged with clear embossing powder, heat set, and then dredged again with clear detail EP mixed with microfine glitter. It's my favorite! Which is your favorite?

Lastly, is the card inspired by and made for Shandy. She likes the color turquoise (reminds her of mermaids) and she likes layered flowers. It was distressed and embossed with clear detail EP:

Thanks for stopping by! It was fun playing with goodies from my stash!

Products: Dies: Cottage Cutz Greenery 4x4, SU Modern Label Punch, TH Garden Greens, SB Carnations, SB Bitty Blossoms, Stamps: Hero Arts CL342 sentiment Inks: INKS & Mediums: assorted pearlescent acrylic paints, assorted pearlescent watercolors, assorted Encore Metallic inks, assorted distress and VFC inks, assorted embossing powders, Cardstock: acrylic paint paper, lavender, deep blue, pale blue, aqua, black, EMBOSSING FOLDER: Crafters Companion Ornate Lace 3D

Challenges I'd like to play in please:

  1. Just Us Girls Challenge #575 Trend Week Use An Embossing Folder 5/19 sep post
  2. Simply Create Too Challenge #168 Wet or Dry Embossing (I dry embossed the background, applied ink to the the dry embossed areas, then embossing powder and heat set. The sentiments are also heat embossed. 4/2
  3. Frilly and Funky (March 6) Something Vintage 3/17 sep post
  4. The Corrosive Challenge #3 Anything Goes 4/2
  5. A Bit More Time to Craft #135 AG 4/1
  6. A Perfect Time to Craft #3 AG 4/1
  7. Stamping Sensations Challenge (March) Monochromatic 4/5 (each card is monochromatic)

FREEBIE SENTIMENTS - my gift to you

My gift to you - Arrangements of the same sentiment for use on the inside or outside of your projects. Please do not sell the Sentiments. Use on any of your projects, including projects involving any design teams you might be on. Different shapes of sentiments work well for landscape or portrait shape cards.

Click on the image to bring it to full size. Because of the changes Google Made with Blogger in June 2020, your image will appear to be solid black. Don’t panic. Right click and do a SAVE. Once it is saved on your hard drive, you can open it and it will have a transparent background. I create PNGs instead of JPGs so they can be placed anywhere on a scene or project, and so backgrounds can be made using them. Please let me know if you have any problems. I hope they serve you well!


Sympathy Verse:

Stamping hugs,

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Turner Syndrome Awareness - my blog hop winners

  Hello, my friends!

The Turner Syndrome Awareness Blog Hop and Challenge is now closed, and winners have been announced on Lori's TSA blog on March 13.

I am offering two prizes - each valued at $22.00 from Beccy Muir's Store.
The pretty Fantail Goldfish clear stamp set
her lovely Cherry Blossom clear stamp set

and my winners are...
Christine of "With A Grateful Heart"

If you will please email me (just click on my profile in the sidebar - the new window will have email options on the side) and I will mail your stamp set!

Thank you to everyone who participated, and to my faithful followers.

stamping hugs,

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Navy, Denim, and Pink - What's Old is New - Mistake-Proof Techniques

Greetings! My wish is that you enjoy many small surprises to brighten your day!
Today, I'd like to share some easy-peasy cards. I love this technique because it is MISTAKE PROOF.

First, I perused the craft room and brought out THREE, (count 'em) THREE, virginal stamps, all three purchased sometime between 2000 and 2005. Some of the inks were unused as well. These are 5x7 cards.


ink colors can set the mood:
First came the background, where Hero Arts 113317 Large Delicate Woven Fabrics image was randomly stamped with 2 blue DIsNext I smooshed and/or distressed in pink inks - some with a pale pink distress, and others with brilliant VFC Charming ink. 
They both give a different look: one more vibrant, the other more vintage.
Finally, foliage image by Stampa Rosa J67-139 Alesa Baker Designs was stamped in VFC Medieval Blue. With a Quickie Glue Pen, areas in the background were "painted" so pale pink glitter could be added for extra dazzle and sparkle.

Stamp, die cut, distress the focal image (sorry for the poor photo):

The vibrant inks make a more contemporary feel. The flowers have also been glittered, and so has the background of each card:


The Spun Sugar pale ink made a more vintage appearance:

This technique enlivens cards that focus on a sentiment:

and it's fun to use on the coordinating envelopes as well:

Thanks for popping by!

Products Used:
  • Stamps: Stampa Rosa J67-139 Alesa Baker Designs, Hero Arts 113317 Large Delicate Woven Fabrics, Stampin' Up! Early Spring, 
  • Dies: Spellbinders 5x7 Modern Stationary, MS Doily Lace Trim punch
  • Inks: VersaFine Clair Charming, Versafine Clair Medieval Blue, Distress Spun Sugar, Distress Chipped Sapphire, Distress Faded Jeans
  • Other: White Detail embossing powder, Navy and White cardstock, pale pink glitter, clear glitter, navy blue glitter, Sakura Glue Pen

Challenges I would like to play in please:

  1. Retro Rubber Challenge #153 Tic Tac Toe (bottom row of challenge board). 3/12 (3 virginal stamps 15-20 years old)
  2. Try it On Tuesday (Mar 2) Say It With Flowers  (Classic and timeless joy and love) 3/16
  3. Penny's Paper-Crafty Challenge #491 Anything Goes 3/15
  4. Double D Challenges (Mar 3) Book Covers inspired by the top right cover with Navy and Pink. 3/15
  5. A Bit More Time to Craft #135 AG 3/15
  6. NEW NEW NEW Inspiration Station #1 Inspiration Board (Blue & White) 3/15

Stamping Hugs,