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

Friday, October 01, 2021

Happy Holidays with Jan's Digi Stamps

I am excited to share that Jan's Digi Stamps Challenge will resume on November 1! To get ready, how about reacquainting yourself with the Challenge Rules and become inspired by seeing the newest work of her design team!

Jan is one of those easy-going spirits who enjoys sharing her memories through a vintage, yet contemporary, style. Not only are her PNGs (and JPGs) easy to use individually, they are fun when making a scene, involving several images.

Today's share is a fast-and-easy Christmas card, using a single element from Jan's new "Santa's Jalopy" set which is currently 25% off. 

Still not able to hold a pen for long, I opted for the pre-colored image, and made a slight shadow with colored pencils and gamsol.

It felt great using glitter again!

Hoping you will visit her shop today!

Using one of the little "now drifts" in the set, I placed it behind the pole for some extra dimension.

Products Used:

Stamps: Jan's Digi Stamps "Santa's Jalopy", Jan's Digi Stamps "Reindeer" (sentiment), Dies: Anna Griffin Slimline Concentric AG-1239H, Pierced Shape, MS Snowflake Punch, Other: Clear Glitter, Cloud Blue Prismacolor pencil.

Facebook - Shopping - Pinterest - Challenges

I would like to play in the following Challenges, please:

  1. World Wide Open DT Challenge #9 "AG DT" 10/15
  2. Classic Design Challenge #10 "AG" 11/1
  3. Love to Craft Challenges #63 AG (11-10 sep post)
  4. AI Art Impressions Challenge #313 Slim Line Cards (toward bottom of post) 10/15
  5. Pammie's Inky Pinkies #2139 10/5
  6. Sweet Stampin Challenge (Sept 25) Christmas in September 10/9 (sep post)
  7. Merry Little Christmas Challenges #39 Anything Christmas 10/30 (sep post)
  8. The Holly and the Ivy Challenges #102 Anything Christmas 10/10 (sep post)

Stamping Hugs,

Monday, September 13, 2021

Perhaps they are not stars (and freebies)

Waving "hello" to you all, my dear friends! 


Today's card is for a sweet friend whose husband passed away a few months ago. Instead of saying "sympathy", I'm using a different salutation. This card was months in the making.

I had an idea for masking to try, but I probably went about it illogically, doing things the hard way (giggle).

First, I created masks. The "negative" mask was used for inking. The larger positive mask was used for stamping. The card is 5x7, so I cut the negative mask to fit a 5x7 panel, and centered the die cut:

After inking the background, my VIRGINAL SU Francais background script was inked, face up, and the panel was pressed atop. Several VIRGINAL stamps were used in making the custom background paper. Then the VIRGINAL Penny Black Sunflower stamp was inked with VFC Shady Lane, and colored with Zig watercolor markers:

Here is the masked panel, and a three layer frame (for dimension):

The white card stock is also virginal, SU Sparkle White. Can you see the sparkle show through the colors:

The sentiment was heat embossed, and some grass was added:


Products Used: Stamps: Penny Black Hello Sunshine Flowers 3874K, Stampin' Up En Francais background script, SU Elegant Cheer sentiment, SU Petite Patterns background, Impression Obsession C2041 Sm Flourish Four (background), IO B2010 Sm Paisley Two (background), Dies: IO Grass DIE038-J, SB Labels Four & Grand Labels Four, Inks: DI Forest Moss, Shabby Shutters, Sq Lemonade, Scattered Straw, Tea Die, Versafine Clair Shady Lane, OTHER: Freebie Digital images, Clear Detail EP, Zig Watercolor Markers (I do not recommend), Paper: SU Sparkle White, Mossy Meadow, Celery

Challenges I would like to play in, please:

  1. Cut it Up Challenges #234 Fall is in the Air 09/22 (sep post)
  2. NBUS #30 (most of the stamps have never been used before) 10/1
  3. Creative Inspirations Challenge (Sept 2) Fabulous Fall or Happy Halloween 11/1
  4. Paper Funday Challenges #33 AG with optional twist Autumn/Fall 10/2
  5. Crafty Gals Corner #223 Hello Fall 10/3
  6. Crafting Happiness #113 AG 9/20
  7. Pammie's Inky Pinkies #2137 AG 9/20
  8. Dies R Us #176 AG dies they carry (SB & IO) 9/15 (sep post)
  9. Penny Black Friends Saturday Challenge (Sept) AG or Flowers 9/30
  10. Tic Tac Toe Challenge #130 (bottom row) 9/16 (sep post)

My gift to you - Sentiments 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.

Click on the image to bring it to full size. Because of the changes Google Made with Blogger in 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!


The first sentiment can be used for wedding, friendship, thank you, sympathy - it's pretty versatile!

ON A PERSONAL NOTE (please don't let this happen to you or a loved one):

I have been severely ill the past several months, relegated to the bed and wheelchair. Some different tests were finally run, with results showing some inflammatory factors higher than my doctor ever remembers seeing. So far, they have determined I have an autoimmune disease called PMR Polymyalgia Rheumatica. The good news is that it is treatable and normally takes 12-18 months to go into remission. Unfortunately, I am having extreme reactions to the medication. Those reactions are disabling in themselves, but I have no choice. I'm grateful for some badly-needed pain relief. It is important for all of us who already have certain diseases/conditions to not allow ourselves to be "pigeon-holed" into thinking "oh, this is probably just such-and-such". Looking back, we believe this has probably been a gradual issue for me for nearly 3 years or so, but we blamed it on my other diseases - so be aware of that for yourselves and your loved ones, to keep an open mind that it could be something different happening, even when the symptoms are similar to what you already deal with, and regardless of what doctors may say.

Leaving you with hugs and friendship,

Monday, September 06, 2021

Horsing Around in Nature - Inspiration Station Challenge

With a big smile, waving "Hello" to everyone! I hope you are doing well. 

It's time for a new challenge at:

Inspiration Station

This wonderful OLD Horse Image was stomping the shelves, begging to be used. It's at least 20 years old and never before used! This Magenta wood mount stamp is 4.25" by 5.5" so I placed it rubber side up, inked it thoroughly, and applied the card stock gently on top, rubbing it thoroughly with my fingers to create a complete image. Magenta's wood blocks are unusually thick, and I've found this is the best way to achieve a great inking the first time around.

The current inspiration board is:

I immediately accepted Mother Nature's invitation to ESCAPE into herself, and all that she has to offer. The path to embracing Nature (and all Creation) is to love all  her creatures and wilderness offerings. 

What does the photo inspire YOU to do?

After stamping with rich Acorn VFC ink, these horses were heat embossed with clear detail EP. Assorted DI inks (listed below) colored the image, with a few highlights done in watercolor pencils.

The edges were "distressed" with Versafine ink and heat set with a pretty, semi-transparent sage-mica powder. Up close, the edges are quite iridescent. 

Today's cameras are great, in that they capture the smallest of details, but they are also unforgiving because they can see colors, shades and intensities that our human eyes don't see in real life.

Copper Mirror CS was used in the frame with a strip of green vellum behind.

Thanks for popping by today!

Products: Stamps: Magenta 13116S horses, Hero Arts CL342 Just a Note, Papers: Pine, Green Vellum, Copper Mirror, River Rock, White, Inks: Distress in Old Paper, Rustic Wilderness, Crushed Olive, Stormy sky; Sentiment in Pinecone Brown VFC, Edges in Versamark for Sage Mica EP; image in Acorn Brown VersaFine Clair for detail clear EP; Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils; Memento Desert Sand Ink, Dies: SB Grand Labels Twenty-Three, IO Small Grass 178C

Challenges I would like to play in please!

  1. 2 Crafty Critter Crazies #54 AG with Animals 09/25 (sep post)
  2. NBUS #30 Anything never before used 10/1 (RW)

  3. World Wide Open DT Challenge #8 AG DT 09/15 (sep post)

  4. Pammie's Inky Pinkies #2135 AG 09/13 (sep post)

  5. Simon Says Stamp It (9/6) Must ink stamp 9/13 (sep post)


Stamping hugs,

Monday, August 02, 2021

Color Yourself Happy with a freebie

 Greetings, Friends! Hoping you are doing well and keeping COVID-SAFE. I'm so grateful for your on-line friendship. 

Today we have a new Challenge happening at:

Inspiration Station

NOT just "another" inspiration board. 

It's entirely YOUR take as to what inspires you - 
it could be emotional, thematic, color, texture. 
What ignites your imagination today?

My thoughts went to Connie Griffin, with her daily coloring samples, and to my friends who do such beautiful shading and coloring in their art projects. I also liked that there were lots of colors, just like my coloring efforts below.

Crafter Extraordinaire Shandy gifted me with a fun Zen-style coloring booklet. 

Finished projects are intended to be mailed as postcards. In this instance, my Copic Markers bled through the cardstock, so I used it for card making.

Colored postcard is 5.5" x 7.5":

Then I cut the image in half:

A little embellishment with white gel pen and VersaFine Clair ink around the edges and framed with a 2 sided MS border punch, helped bring it to life. The sentiment is white embossing powder on turquoise vellum:

More white gel pens along the top and bottom:

Here is a plain white punched border:

Please join us this challenge with whatever inspires you!

Products:  Color Yourself Happy Coloring booklet of 5x7 post cards - Copic Markers - Distress Inks - VersaFine Clair inks - brads - White Gel Pen - Martha Stewart Geometric Frame border punch - Hero Arts CL342 sentiments, White detail embossing powder.

Challenges I would like to play in please:  

  1. World Wide Open DT Challenge Blog #7 (July 15) AG DT 8/15 (sep post)
  2. Sisterhood of Snarky Stampers #190 C is for Colorful (sep post) 8/6
  3. Inkspirational #244 Spots and Dots (inside images and on borders) 8/6 (sep post)
  4. Cards 4 Galz #152 Dies and/or Punches ( Martha Stewart Geometric Frame border punch) 8/11
  5. Aud Sentiments Challenges #280 AG plus a sentiment 8/8 (sep post)
  6. Here is a Place to Start #8 What's your style? (I am a long time user of colored pencils and vivacious colors. I especially enjoy mixing them with alcohol inks and dye-base inks) 9/6
  7. My Time to Craft #462 No Pattern Papers 8/6

My Gift to You

Please do not sell the Sentiments, but please Use on any of your projects, including projects involving any design teams you might be on.

Click on the image to bring it to full size. Because of the changes Google made, 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 it serves you well!


thanks for visiting today!

Friday, July 30, 2021

It's All About the Cupcakes! (and freebie)

Eek! Welcome, my friends!

House Mouse and Friends has an Anything Goes with Option of Food or Beverage challenge happening.  I'm playing with this cute image called Cupcake Belly. All three stamps were virginal, affectionately called NBUS (Never Before Used Schtuff).

SB Grand Large Labels, SW Ornate Pierced Design were used to make the frame:

Because I use both, a friend asked what the difference is between PrismaColor colored pencils and Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 Color Pencils. I love both, and use both with Gamsol. The PrismaColor brand has a level of waxiness even after blended. The Caran d'Ache Luminance Pencils glide on very "creamy-dreamy" and do not have waxy-shiny finish. The Caran require a light touch (good for feeble hands), and blend more readily. That's my experience, anyway!

thanks for popping by today!

Products Used: Three Never Before Used Stamps - HMCP13 Cupcake Belly, freebie sentiment below; Colored with Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 Color Pencils and Gamsol and distress inks, Impression Obsession CAD Screen (on frame), Penny Black Sprinkles & Shine "Have your cake",  INKS: Memento Tuxedo Black, VersaFine Clair Cheerful, Scattered Straw, Salvaged Patina, Wild Honey, Antique Linen & Abandoned Coral Distress Inks, Paper: Lime Green, Melon, White, DIES: SB Grand Large Labels, SW Ornate Pierced Design, MS Swirling Lace PAP, Other: Copper Cosmic Embossing Powder, Party Hats, Yellow Glitter

My Gift to You:

A 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.

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!


Playing in the following awesome challenges!
  1. House-Mouse and Friends Monday Challenges #345 AG HM option: Food and Beverage 8/2 (sep post)
  2. Never Before Used Schtuff #28 - never used the 3 stamps on this project 8/1
  3. Paper Funday Challenges #31 - AG Summer Fun 8/1
  4. My Time to Craft #464 No Patterned Papers 8/5
  5. Color Throwdown #653 Color Challenge (sep post 8/2)

stamping hugs,

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A Little Sadness


I hope it is appropriate to share this sadness with you all. You are my blogging friends, so here goes...

Missy, our very sweet, unique kitty, has been a dear member of our home for 7 years. We adopted her at age 2 after a severe trauma. She only weighed 5.25 pounds at age 2! Responsive and interactive, Missy was more like a dog than a kitty. She was an indoor/outdoor critter who knocked on the door periodically throughout the day to come in, and hang out, then returning to her awesome barn and yard full of wildlife and birds. 

She came running to us when we called her, just like a dog. If I was outdoors, she always kept me company while I worked in the garden. 

She enjoyed keeping Jack company as he did chores around the house:

Her favorite treats were freeze-dried salmon bits, which I hid around the house for her to "hunt" to give her something interesting to do indoors.

Helping me craft:

Missy would carry on conversations, and had quite a large kitty vocabulary, as well as understanding a large human vocabulary. She used to play games with us, and often invited our German Shepherd to play as well. She had a fun, playful, show-off, intelligent personality with a "look at what I can do" mentality, taunting us from rafters in the barn/workshop, or the roof, or climbing trees.

We had to keep the seats down on the toilets because:

Just outside my craft studio, Missy had a huge "feed bucket" of water containing a solar powered water fountain. We dubbed that fountain "Missy's Friend" because she used to be at that water feature 30 minutes at a time, playing in the water and drinking from the fountain. 

Missy used to come settle in for the evening around 6PM with us to watch TV and a late night snack before we turn in. She would ask me to put her out between 1-2am because she detested her litter box. 

There is so much more to share about this delightful fur child... but she succumbed to a traumatic brain injury she sustained last summer. The feline PTSD had worsened, but she suffered a few seizures, and I imagine those were strokes. Our kindly vet tried everything, but ultimately, she was euthanized. It was the only humane thing left we could do to alleviate her suffering. 

We found it difficult to overcome our feelings of denial and do the right thing. She was so young, and healthy other than the brain trauma. 

Thank you for allowing me to share a little about Missy. You all are the absolute kindest of friends!


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Playing in CAS mix-up with alcohol ink and vellum

 Greetings, friends! I've always wanted to play in the CAS MIXUP Challenge Blog, but shy away from CAS cards because I just have trouble making them. So I took the time to make a card specifically using their displayed techniques. It's a great challenge because new technique tutorials are shared with links to an assortment of ways to play along. 

AND the design team shares absolutely fantastic samples!

This time the technique is alcohol inks on vellum. My AIs are a good 15-20 years old. I learned the hard way that even solvent products which have been carefully stored, may not have THAT long a self life! Still, where there is a will, there is a way.

CAS MIXUP Challenge Blog suggested Video Tutorials:

Alcohol Inks on Vellum using straws (Emelie Hessler - 6:34)
Alcohol Markers on Vellum (Melanie Muenchinger - 12:19)
Copic Coloring on Vellum (Jessica Frost-Ballas - 5:27)

To make my wonky frame out of glossy cardstock, I used two dies from Sue Wilson's Pierced Noble collection:

Then I used AIs (listed below) on PRINTED VELLUM (see the tiny white flowers showing through the alcohol inks?)

The die cut and frame are both from glossy white cardstock for a polished look. I hope this is considered CAS. It certainly is for me! (giggle)

The "Resting Butterfly" die is years old, but never used. So glad to play with it!

Products Used: Ranger AI: Sail Boat Blue, Citrus, Stream, Wild Plum, and Blender Solution - Dies: Die-namites "Resting Butterfly", Sue Wilson Noble Dies (Double Pierced Squares A & B - Stamps: Beccy's Place Cherry Blossom sentiment stamped with Warm Breeze VersaFine Clair with Clear EP - Paper: White Glossy Chromecoat, Pale off turquoise, Vellum

Challenges I would like to play in please:

  1. CAS Mix-Up Challenge (July) Alcohol Ink on Vellum 8/1 (sep post)
  2. Crafting Happiness #105 AG 7/26
  3. Pammie's Pinky Pinkies #2129 AG 7/26
  4. Paper Funday Challenges #31 AG 8/4
  5. NBUS #28 AG with virginal product (Die-namites "Resting Butterfly") 8/1
  6. Dies R Us Challenge #173 AG w/dies DRU sells (Die-namites "Resting Butterfly", Sue Wilson Noble Dies (Double Pierced Squares A & B) 8/1 (sep posts)

Stamping Hugs,