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IMPORTANT NOTICE!

With the coming drawdown, OWH will be in need of fewer cards in the future – that includes upcoming holidays. PLEASE READ THIS PAGE before proceeding to make cards, organize events, etc – it’s really really really really important. Did I say really important? :)

READ ME FIRST

Another box of your beautiful cards

Posted by on Oct 30, 2014 in Hero Blog, Note from Afghanistan | 0 comments

Hey sandy I got another box of your beautiful cards a few weeks ago and wanted to say thank you. They have been a big hit. I apologize for not being able to get this thank you out earlier, we’ve been swamped with work at the end of our time here and life has been hectic. We really appreciate all you do. I hope everything is going well and thank you so much again.

Sincerest Regards,

Staff Sergeant S.S.

Sketch Challenge #241

Posted by on Oct 25, 2014 in Sketch Challenge, Stars and Stamps | 3 comments

Good afternoon, peeps! It’s Sandy here, mea culpa in hand.  I wasn’t ahead in gathering sketches….so I’m sliding in here for Marlene to post a sketch for this week. Whoops!

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Since I’m here, I thought I’d chat a little, too. You may or may not know how our sketches come about…there are two ways:

  1. We have a team of folks who keep an eye on YOUR challenge cards submitted in our InLinkz. They nominate their favorite card designs that look like they’d make great sketches, and I pick from those to reverse-engineer sketches for everyone to follow. So do some amazing work and link it up!
  2. Sometimes I see a card that arrives in a box for our heroes, and pick that as a card to turn into a sketch!

Today’s sample card is one of #2…I just loved the way the three layers work together with the nice circle focal element on top; that could be an image, a sentiment, or even a layered tag! The extra details Mary Ellen added on hers are ones you can sure CASE as well – ribbon, layered embellishing, that little bit of piercing. Cool!

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REMINDER:

The end of October is sneaking up on us – and we need your help meeting this month’s ODBD challenge. Link up a winter snow card – and get it sent in to OWH! We’ve finished packing all the holiday cards, and would love to have wintry ones to use for the late-requestors in case their cards don’t make it in time for Christmas.

I hope you’ll get inspired by this card like I was….it’d make a sweet Valentine for a guy with these great masculine papers, wouldn’t it?


Featured Friday Card Maker Gail H., Murrieta, CA 

Posted by on Oct 24, 2014 in Featured Friday Cardmaker, Stars and Stamps | 24 comments

Hey y’all!!!  Hope everyone had just a GRAND week and are ready for an even better Friday.  I had an absolutely wonderful time with my brother this past weekend.  I don’t get to see him very much as he lives in a different state.  Sam came to visit family and since I live “on the way” to other family members, I got him coming and going.  Woohoo!!! We spend last Friday in Dahlonega wandering around that beautiful mountain town on the eve of the big Gold Rush festival.  I treated him to a bison burger, which he thoroughly enjoyed and Sam let me try some of his onion rings—which were great!  On the return trip Sam decided he wanted to make a card.  He played with all the cool tools on Friday—I taught him how to dry emboss, heat emboss, use punches and dies—oh my word—I forgot how exacting and inquisitive my dear brother is, he was enthralled with heat embossing!!!! On the return trip Sam decided he wanted to make a card, oh wow…..I had to let go of my OCD tendencies, throw graphic design principles out the window and just let him make a card the way he wanted —and dadgum it—the card turned out GREAT and of all things–I forgot to take a picture!!!!  ACCKKKK!!!!!  Sam did a great job blending/painting the fall leaves using a Dove blender and Kaleidacolor ink pad. (I was like “wow” at how well the leaves turned out!) However I was chastised because I didn’t have any plaid paper, SHM, that matched his design. Story of a card maker’s life, not enough paper. It was nice to share my passion with someone who is truly interested in the process, and really, we had a great time making that card!

As always y’all are great at leaving OWH love for the FFCM’s each week—it means so much—thank you!  As Gail doesn’t have a blog, please leave a comment in the section below.  Gail cards—are cheerful!! and colorful!!! and fun!!!!  Love the “You Color My World” card—love that image and sentiment; the ship card is really cool as I like how she blended the background behind the boat; the kid’s birthday card—too cute and the….well that’s enough of me telling you what I like and noticed—and believe me there’s much MORE for y’all to notice (like her to die for closet) and discover about Gail and her cards.  So sit back, relax and get comfy as we read all about Gail in her own words…..

How long have you been stamping/card making?

About 8 years ago I went to a Stampin’ Up party at work and thought all I needed to begin making cards would be a few stamp sets, some card stock, designer paper and maybe a few embellishments.  Well, you all know what happened next and that this was just the beginning of my addiction to stamping!  Thankfully, my BFF, Barbara, decided to become a SU demonstrator and she was happy to help me add to my “stamping stash” and I, being a good friend, was happy to support her new venture.

Do you have a craft room or specific area where you stamp/craft?

I’ve enjoyed many crafts through the years: tole painting, sewing, quilting, needlework and stamping just to name a few.  I’ve always had a room designated for my hobbies until we moved into a 2-bedroom home last year, so I now share “my craft space” with our guests.  The previous owner was a quilter and the large closet came complete with built-in shelving making it the perfect storage place for my fabric and stamping supplies.  Believe it or not, I’m constantly rearranging my closet to make it more “user friendly” and trying to find better storage solutions.  I discovered that using my sewing cabinet table for stamping and staring at a blank wall was not helping my creativity, so I purchased a 4′ table and put it under the window.  Hopefully, the pretty view down our street with the mountains in the background will be just what is needed to encourage spending more time making cards.

What are your favorite stamp/craft products?

Hummm … guess my favorite stamps come from Stampin’ Up, My Favorite Things, Close to My Heart, or any other cute stamp from a craft store where I can use a coupon!  I love paper and embellishments: brads, enamel dots, ribbon, Washi tape and buttons!  Love, love my Big Shot as no card base is complete without some kind of embossing.  My new favorite product is going to be Copic markers.  Although I was introduced to them in 2009 at a card class in Portland, I never knew how to use them, so they have been sitting on a shelf.  When I heard about the Online Card Class – Copic Markers for Card Makers I immediately signed up!  The teachers are awesome (especially our Sandy) and the videos help this “visual learner” feel more comfortable taking the Copics off that shelf and practicing with them.

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Do you have a favorite  technique?

I don’t really have a favorite technique I just love to stamp!  I do enjoy adding layers to each card and then popping the stamped image with some “Precious” foam adhesive.  Whenever I get together with my friend, Barb, she always has some new, fun technique to show me that adds to my skills as a card maker like embossing, water colors or making backgrounds with masking tape.

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 Have any particular OWH sketches or tutorials served as  inspiration for your cards? 

OWH sketches are definitely on my “go to” list when I’m stumped for a layout design to go with the stamp I have chosen.  I often look through the Splitcoast Stampers galleries, MFT sketches, Pinterest, and the OWH website (especially love Airborne Wife’s Stamping Spot and Kristie M.) … there are so many talented card makers out there and they are my inspiration.

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 Do you prefer digis or stamps?

I prefer stamps because I don’t know how to use digi’s and I love stamping my own images.

Do you have a  favorite theme?

Holiday themed cards are fun to create, especially fall, and are a nice diversion from the many birthday, love, miss you, etc. cards I make for family, friends and OWH.

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 Are there colors you love to include on  your cards?

My personal favorite color is blue, however, I choose colors for my cards depending on the stamped image, patterned paper or theme of the card I am designing.

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 How did you hear about Operation Write  Home?

That’s easy … when I moved to Vancouver, WA in 2008 I was hopeful of making new friends who also loved to craft.  As fate would have it, I met a lady in a Silver Sneakers gym class who was also a card maker and Esther invited me to join a CTMH card making group.  When she and her friend, Ellen, started making cards for OWH I was most anxious to join and loved being a part of this group of wonderful ladies for 3+ years.  During that time a few of us were able to help Sandy pack boxes for our heroes and always looked forward to her making a trip to Vancouver for a day of card making with our group.  Although I have moved back to California and haven’t found an OWH group here, I continue to enjoy submitting cards on my own.  I recently noticed that we have a Veteran’s Club here in our community … maybe they will be interested in sending words of encouragement if I provide some Any Hero cards.

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 What motivates you to make cards for our  heroes?

Many of you have family or friends who have served in the military and ours is no exception.  Our son, Kyle, joined the Marine Corps. in 1999 and we are proud that he still serves as a reservist today.  I remember how important those handwritten letters and cards were to us when he was on active duty; I even used to run home on my lunch hour to see if there was mail from him!  I can only imagine how special it is for a family to receive one of the beautiful OWH cards from their hero, especially the children getting “snail mail” from mommy or daddy.  Being a part of this wonderful organization and getting to do what I love makes me fell that, in some small way, I am acknowledging our military families and the sacrifices they make every day to ensure our freedoms!

Mid-Month Throwdown: Winter Birthday

Posted by on Oct 18, 2014 in Midweek Throwdown Challenge, Stars and Stamps | 5 comments

WOW, can you believe it’s the middle of October already?! That means it’s time for a NEW Mid-Month Throwdown. Here in Texas our temps went from 90s one day to 60s the next. As they say here in Texas, if you don’t like the weather, just wait another day! I hope you are all getting to experience the cool, crisp air that comes with Fall. It’s my favorite time of year. But, as you know, at Operation Write Home we are always ahead of the calendar so that our cards can make it overseas and back again. So, this month’s challenge is to make a WINTER BIRTHDAY CARD. Twenty-one people participated in last month’s challenge and did a fabulous job of making general-themed cards with Fall colors. Let’s see what you can do with winter-themed birthday cards – they can be for adults or kids!

JUST A NOTE: TODAY is the last day for OWH to receive Christmas cards, so if you haven’t sent them yet, DON’T! :-) But never fear, you can still put them to good use. We will accept AnyHero Christmas cards until November 30. So, write an encouraging note in those Christmas cards you didn’t send in on time and send them on through with your general winter-themed cards and early Valentine’s Day cards (December 31 deadline).

Our sample cardmaker this month is Ronni U. who blogs at Ronni’s Spot. Here’s what she has to say about her card:

This Happy Brrrrr-thday card is a shaker card. The frame is backed with acetate from a clear stamp set, then I cut strips of “precious” tape lengthwise and loaded up the frame with Stampendous Shaved Ice. I used an embossed backing for the frame and printed out the sentiment from my computer. A few silver cardstock snowflakes and a strand of silver thread complete the card. Let’s not forget the ever-versatile Stampin’ Up! owl punch!

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Here’s a little about Ronni in her own words:

I am 60 years old, and have been crafting in one way or another for most of those years. I discovered card making three years ago, and the addiction to paper, stamps, and accessories has taken over my space and budget! I discovered OWH through a web search after watching Michele Obama on Oprah. The message she had was that everybody could help our service men and women in their own ways, by doing something we love doing. I took that message and found Operation Write Home, a growing patriotism, and I found my art. I love making cards, experimenting with media and techniques, and knowing I may be helping a family or a friend stay connected. But the best part of being involved with OWH is the people! I have made wonderful friends and connections.

GET YOUR CARD MAKING SUPPLIES OUT AND LET’S SEE WHAT KINDS OF WINTER BIRTHDAY CARDS YOU CREATE – SHOW US YOUR STUFF!

Featured Friday Card Maker Diane W., Stoneham, MA

Posted by on Oct 17, 2014 in Featured Friday Cardmaker, Stars and Stamps | 31 comments

Hey y’all—brrr Fall came early to north GA this year—I’m sittin’ here in flannel pjs drinking coffee as I gather this interview together.  Okay, so all the windows are open, and the ceiling fans are still on—low speed, but it really is cool with temps in the  60’s and blankets at night.  This is such a busy time of year, as everyone and their brother is out looking at the changing leaves, corn mazes and pumpkin farms are on the list to see and do, mountain towns are hosting fall festivals, Oktoberfest is a month long party in Helen…just all sorts of things to see and do and go!!!  Go out and ENJOY!!!

 Each week I am so touched by the comments left for our FFCMs.  I am so happy that y’all not only take the time to comment, but also really look at the cards.  I love it when y’all try to figure out how a particular card was made, when y’all mention a new fave layout, color combo, and especially when someone says—oh how cool I’m CASEing this one and that one and oh and this one too!!!  Please leave a little bit of OWH love for Diane in the section below or here on her blog

This my fave part of the interview—when I get to tease y’all about the cards. O.W.H—the coloring is phenomenal, paper piecing is exact, cards are neat not sloppy and I don’t have any faves—I love them ALL and could stare at these forever.  Yes, I know I’m not gushing over these cards, I’m really just out of words, yes, speechless!!–mainly because it’s an O.W.H thing—you know Oh Wow Honey—just go look—no-wait, read about Diane in her own words, then go look at her cards!!! You too will be saying Oh Wow Honey…..

How long have you been stamping/card making?

I started scrapbooking over 17 years ago and somewhere along the line, card-making took over!  While I still scrapbook, making cards is my #1 hobby!

Do you have a craft room or specific area where you stamp/craft?

My dining room has been taken over with all of my supplies and is used more for creating than eating!  I really do not like moving but my next move will include a dedicated room for crafting- a really, really big room!

What are your favorite stamp/craft products?

This is so hard- my favorite stamps change often but I keep coming back to My Favorite Things, Paper Smooches, Mama Elephant, and Hero Arts. I love to try newer stamp companies and I really love Sugar Pea Designs.  Bazzill Card Shoppe Marshmallow is my go- to paper for card bases and I cannot live without my ATG and copics!  I used to be a colored pencil gal but an evil, enabling friend convinced me to try copics and I was hooked…and suddenly poor….they are not cheap! It took me a while to get all the colors I NEEDED…. OK, a few months seemed like a while but I did not buy the all at once so it seemed like I was constantly getting packages in the mail containing wonderful makers! Thank goodness for Rusty at Oozak! And while I do not use it enough, I still adore my Cricut Expression.  I am waiting for the new CTMH cartridge to arrive at my doorstep!

Do you have a favorite  technique?

I like to try different techniques but I love to color and to paper piece. I try to use distress inks and watercolors but I just cannot get the comfort level I do with copics.

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Have any particular OWH sketches or tutorials served as  inspiration for your cards? 

 I try to make at least one card for every sketch. I like using sketches as a starting point; challenges in general get me to think outside my creative zone. I loved seeing the new sketch from Marlene every Sunday but I am adapting to the new schedule!

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Do you prefer digis or stamps?

I prefer stamps BUT- I purchase Mo Manning digi stamps- her artwork is fabulous and I can usually see someone I know in her creations! I also love Amy Young digi stamps from when she created for CC Designs. I do have a few files with other digi artists but I have a pretty large collection of stamps so my digital stamps are often neglected.

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Do you have a  favorite theme?

I find ‘thinking of you’ the easiest to create- it is such a broad category but cards for guys are the hardest for me so I really try to get better at it.  I think almost 1/2 of my cards could  be for the guys.

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Are there colors you love to include on  your cards?

This is another area where I am fickle- I love yellow and gray, red and black, peach and soft gray but I try to vary my colors and be fair to every single piece of paper and every copic marker! Like children-how can we pick just one to be our favorite? (and for the record, I was by far my father’s favorite child no matter what my 3 siblings think!)

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 How did you hear about Operation Write  Home?

I used to create cards and send them to a few different groups I found on message boards. I sent my first package when OWH was Cards for Heroes in 2009.  Fabre- the East coast shipper- sent me a lovely thank you and acknowledgement that she received and liked my cards! That sold me- nobody else had ever acknowledged that my cards arrived! I liked that I knew my cards were going to get to the troops! It was a fun to meet Fabre and get together to make cards-we live about 50 minutes (and yes- she is the evil one who made me by copics- and she was enticed by Sandy…so it is all Sandy’s fault!). OWH is the perfect fit for me…I love seeing the cards others create, I love seeing the replies for our military,  I love to watch Sandy color and I love the support and kindness the card makers show for each other!

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What motivates you to make cards for our  heroes?

My grandfather and father both served in the navy as did 2 uncles but that was before I was born. My niece’s boyfriend just started at West Point so I make cards for him to send to her at college. I admire and respect anyone who is willing to sacrifice so much for all of us!  I met William 6+ years ago;  a Master Sgt in the Army National Guard. He spent 2010 in Afghanistan -his 3rd and final deployment (he retired-yahoo!). I had already been making cards for the troops and knew they provided an important connection with home but when it was a person I love away  from home,  it became so much more personal and real for me.  I continue to make cards for someone else’s loved one to send home- and I will continue to make cards for OWH until they are no longer needed!

Updates

Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Cardmaker tips, Stars and Stamps, Tutorial | 1 comment

Hello everyone,

I remembered that some folks only subscribe to our blog, and not our enews…so you may have missed the sad news this past weekend: I had to say goodbye to Ciara a week ago today.

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Thank you to all who are leaving condolences only on the YouTube video (I’m asking that people do that rather than in a place where they’ll come to my email; it’s tough keeping on task with work, and with all comments in one place on YouTube, I can read them when I’m more able to do so later. The loss is just really raw right now. Ciara was my right-hand girl…and the house is very very quiet without her.

Click HERE to go directly to YouTube to watch and comment, or just watch it below.

Holiday Cards

News #2 is that we do have a smallish shortfall on holiday cards. Tuesday a bumper crop did arrive – I was expecting Friday and Saturday last week to be that kind of mail days, and they barely had any holiday cards in them. But hopefully this week we’ll be checking off our list and getting all the boxes done. If you can send in five Christmas cards right away, please do so – or if you’re one who stashed 50 Christmas cards for us “just in case”, now’s the time….our holiday deadline is now Oct 18th.

Tutorial with new OWH stamps and dies

I created a video for The ClassRoom over at Ellen Hutson LLC using the new OWH stamps and dies from Hero Arts – check that out over HERE. And if you’d like a chance to win a bunch of the goodies I used in the video, click HERE.

 

I’m out of town as of today, and the volunteers who are housesitting for me will bring in and process mail. (Huge thanks to them!) I’ll be spending a few days back east with good friends, hopefully laughing, crying, and just being girls together. I’m hoping to come back restored…nothing like the love of good friends to straighten the world out, right?

Thanks for being so understanding during this rough time, and keeping email down to a dull roar; between holiday shipping and personal things, it’s a challenge to keep up, but life will get back to its normal crazy pace in a few weeks.

Sandy

 

Complete strangers back home

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in AnyHero Letters, Hero Blog, Note from Afghanistan, Note from Soldier | 1 comment

Hi, Sandy!

I am a medic in the Army and I have just received a care package from Operation Write Home and card from you was inside. First, let me say, thank you, thank you very much. I hope people from home, like yourself, know how much it means to a military service member to receive a care package, letter or card from complete strangers back home. It is the main reason why I continue to reenlist to stay in the military and it is my favorite thing about deploying. It truly is a wonderful feeling knowing that there is that much support back home. Again, thank you!

SGT A.S.

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Nothing like a hand written note on a beautiful card

Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 in Hero Blog, Note from Afghanistan | 0 comments

I’ve been meaning to write you. I cannot thank you enough for the cards you and Ciara sent us. They have been such a hit! We have been putting them to good use, and a bunch have already made it back to the states. We really are so appreciative.

quote70With so many holidays coming up this fall / winter, I know it will be great to be able to stay in touch by sending notes and greetings to our families. Emails are great, but there is just nothing like a hand written note on a beautiful card!

Thanks again,

-J. E., Kandahar, Afghanistan

The beautiful cards and the messages

Posted by on Oct 11, 2014 in Hero Blog, Notes from Families | 3 comments

I just wanted to say thank you for all you do for our deployed soldiers and their families. I am a spouse of a deployed soldier and your cards truly are a blessing to us. My daughters and I are very fortunate to be able to speak with their father and see him on a regular basis over webcam but we always look forward to his cards in the mail. We have already received so many from him. Though he is really great about keeping in contact with us and emailing, I am not sure we would be getting cards in the mail if it weren’t for your Operation. My children and I love the beautiful cards and the messages my husband writes to us. I know the soldiers are very appreciative of what this operation does but I wanted you to know how appreciative the families are as well. Thank you again!
L.H.
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