Stars and Stamps


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? :)


Black Friday? Red Friday!

Posted by on Nov 28, 2014 in Fundraisers, Stars and Stamps | 0 comments

Hey I’m at the airport, and feeling the shopping love (thanks, DCA, for free internet!)….and decided to get in the Red Friday spirit and set up a coupon code in our little store too! Use coupon code redfriday to get $5 off one of our Flat Rate Envelope Stamp Grab Bags! Lots of random awesome stamps are included (sample pictured below)! Code good til Monday. :)


Red Friday Bloghop!

Posted by on Nov 28, 2014 in Bloghops/Events, Stars and Stamps | 91 comments

OWH Red Friday Bloghop

Welcome to the Operation Write Home Red Friday Bloghop! We’re turning “Black Friday” into “Red Friday” by supporting our nation’s heroes with love from home!

If you’re new to our project: Operation Write Home sends blank handmade cards to service members deployed overseas. We’ve sent nearly 3 million cards! That’s a lot of letters and love heading home to those who are keeping the home fires burning. Please be sure to check these links for information about participating:

Welcome Page | Guidelines | Needed themes and Deadlines
Order a stamp for the back of your cards
Where to send cards | Make a donation | Write a letter to a hero

Why a bloghop now, during the holidays?

Right now, from November through February or so, are the slowest months for OWH while everyone takes a break for family times and celebrations! OWH has over 100 units on our list, even with the drawdown – and we need to keep on shipping beautiful cards overseas.

New to OWH and want to help? 

  1. Do you have a handful of awesome cards in your stash? Send in any quantity – even 6 cards will mean 6 heroes can write home to their loved ones! We know it’s holiday season…so we’re not expecting crafters to forego celebrations–just to send in a few cards you may already have done.
  2. And of course we hope you’ll be inspired to make a few more too! Need inspiration? Check out our Hero Blog letters!
  3. Shop in our OWH store! Use coupon code redfriday to get $5 off our Flat Rate Envelope fundraiser!
  4. Write a letter (not a Christmassy one since those are due Dec 1) – read more HERE.
  5. Shop at Amazon Smile to benefit OWH!
  6. Share this bloghop with your friends! Share this link on Facebook or Twitter, and when you add your link at the end of this post, invite your own blog readers or Flickr followers to come check out OWH too!

A card!

This card was made using two of the Hero Arts Fundraiser stamps – Missing You has those cute critters peeking out, with only their backgrounds colored very simply in one color; and Year Round Sentiments contains a perfect collection of the best OWH sentiments, one of which is embossed here with white embossing powder! (It’s a go-to set for lots of our OWHers! Plus it benefits our heroes since part of the proceeds are donated to OWH!)

Operation Write Home Red Friday Hop1The clear embossing of the hearts from the Year Round Sentiments set really makes something special out of what otherwise would be plain black and red cardstock…the stars in that stamp set would be wonderful here too. The filmstrip punch by EK Success makes this card an easy one to put together….just punch the border out of white as well, and stamp and color on those rectangles with Copic or Tombow markers.

Operation Write Home Red Friday Hop2


What’s a bloghop without prizes? Our fantastic sponsors are sharing some motivation …. go follow the hop, make lots of comments by Friday night Dec 5 at 11:59pm eastern time, then come back here and share a link to your own card inspired by this hop! (Submit new mojo only!) Winners will be announced next Saturday.

Please feel free to visit our sponsors – and let them know we sent ya!

Winners will be drawn from blog commenters:
Simon Says Stamp  – $25 Gift Certificate
Art Impressions – $30 Gift Certificate
WPlus9 — $25 Gift Certificate
Paper Smooches – $25 Gift Certificate

Winners will be drawn from linked-up cards:
Ellen Hutson LLC – $25 Gift Certificate
Lawn Fawn – $25 Gift Certificate
Mama Elephant — $25 Gift Certificate


The Bloghop List

Without further ado….get out there and visit some blogs! 

  1. Operation Write Home, Stars and Stamps
  2. Nichole Magouirk, Blogged by Nichol Magouirk
  3. Dixie Cochran, What’s Next?
  4. Jennifer McGuire, Jennifer McGuire Ink
  5. Paula Spagnuolo, Handmade by Paula
  6. Sharon Harnist, The CLASSroom
  7. Seongsook Duncan, Seongsook’s Creations
  8. Kathy Racoosin, The Daily Marker
  9. Kristie Marcotte, The Best Things in Life are Pink
  10. Laura Bassen, Doublestick Heaven
  11. Julie Ebersole, Paper Trufflez
  12. Sandy  Allnock, I Can’t Stop Embellishing


Share a card YOU make based on what you’re inspired by in this bloghop! CASE a card, or use some supplies you’ve been reminded of because of a card you saw…whatever gets your mojo going! Then go visit your fellow participants and leave them some love too!

Editorial: Small Business Saturday

Posted by on Nov 27, 2014 in Stars and Stamps | 9 comments

smallbizAs we’re all relaxing after our big turkey dinners, and many are delving into the sale ads (and some are already out shopping!), I thought I’d share something about another of my favorite upcoming holidays: I LOVE Small Business Saturday!

Small Business Saturday is a campaign to help our local businesses – not just in the crafting industry, of course – to get a little traction in this shopping season. Big box stores can deep-discount so much more than a local shop, and they can be overlooked in the Black Friday frenzy. Saturday is an opportunity for us all to go visit those indy stores in our towns and make sure they stay alive in this competitive market!

The papercraft industry is one that relies on those small Mom & Pop shops…while they’re becoming fewer and farther between than they once were, they’re the lifeblood of crafting! I talked with a store owner once who had to close her shop; she said if each of her customers on the email list had spent $10 a month there, she’d still be open. $10? We can do that.

As big box stores have become more available to us all, they’ve killed off the independent shops in town after town, leaving less selection for everyone. They all sell the same items, the same brands, and if their buyers don’t notice or desire to carry some of the brands we know and love, we’ll never see them in those stores. They limit what we have access to – so we NEED the indy stores!

Chain stores have also trained us to only shop with coupons. I know I’m probably an anomaly in this world of sales and discounts, but I don’t like using coupons. Big box stores force manufacturers to sell at really low prices because they buy so much — that’s the only reason they can afford to offer 40-50% coupons. The small businesses that have to compete can’t do that; they’d go under if they had to sell an item at or below the price they bought it for. There’s something in me that loves to go to an indy store and just buy an item or two willy nilly – at full retail.

I did that just the other day while on my trip – I did all my Christmas shopping at local small businesses around my Mom’s town. Yay for being done early! Everything is wrapped and under her tree, and I saved myself shipping it all by getting it done. Some of the shops I visited had sales already, but many did not…I picked up books, clothing, jewelry, and other items that would never be seen in a chain store. And I think they’ll be treasured!

I did crafty shopping too… at Queens Ink, I picked up more of THESE stamps to add to my collection, along with some new colors in THESE markers. I came home from Angela’s Happy Stamper with THIS awesome stamp set that I can’t wait to color, THIS one that’ll be fun for a background technique I’ve been wanting to try, as well as THIS very cool pen that I can’t wait to test out. And a bunch more stuff.

But did I need any of that crafty stuff? No. I paid full price. On principle.

As Black Friday takes over tomorrow, please go visit any of your local scrap or stamp stores, and consider buying at least one item. If you neeeeed to do big box stores Friday, save a little of that shopping budget for Small Business Saturday. Maybe add up what you saved on Friday’s sales and spend half of it at small businesses. If you don’t have an LSS – go shop at other local shops, and show them some love.

Even more radical? Make it a monthly outing all year long!

-Sandy Allnock

9 Thanksgiving dinner tips for the crafter

Posted by on Nov 26, 2014 in Cardmaker tips, Stars and Stamps | 13 comments

With a big cooking holiday nipping at our heels, we thought it might be helpful to share some tips for our readers to use these mad crafting skills and tools in the kitchen too.

  1. Giant googlie eyes on your cooked turkey? That’d be genius and make the kids smile.
  2. No skewers? Truss that bird with some 2mm bakers twine.
  3. An embossing heat gun is not strong enough to cook a turkey – just saying.
  4. Test boiling potatoes by stabbing with a [clean!] piercer.
  5. Entertain waiting guests by placing simple supplies out for making AnyHero cards.
  6. Use your brayer for the piecrust. It’ll take longer but work on your braying muscles.
  7. Rolls not browned enough? A bit of E09 in a Copic airbrush might just do the trick. (Nasty tasting, but they’d be gorgeous.)
  8. Short on trivets? Band together piles of scrap paper to protect your table from hot dishes.
  9. If you’ve ordered in a cooked dinner, sprinkle some flour on your face and clothing, and be sure to wash the stamping ink off your fingers. Let ‘em think you slaved in the kitchen all day, not the craft room!

Add your silly (or serious!)  tips in the comments section!

OWHtv Week 167

Posted by on Nov 23, 2014 in OWHtv, Stars and Stamps | 0 comments

Hello everyone! And welcome to the end of the last weekend before the holiday rush takes over all our lives! For some of you it may already be underway as you’re planning for the big Thanksgiving celebration on Thursday….can’t wait for turkey and dressing!

This past week’s OWHtv episodes….on Tuesday we saw Santa turn into a character from Duck Dynasty (LOL!)….and on Thursday, some stickers with Inktense Pencils! Enjoy catching up on them – and by popular request, I’m trying to keep up on sharing links if you need to go get stuff. Or to put it on your wishlist!

——— S U P P L I E S ———

•  Tis the Season by Julie Ebersole
Christmas Scribbles by Julie Ebersole 
Hero Arts Pigment Ink Pad, Unicorn White 
Hero Arts Shadow Ink, Mid-Tone Cornflower 
Hero Arts Shadow Ink, Mid-Tone Red Royal 
Hero Arts Shadow Ink, Mid-Tone Field Greens
Hero Arts Clear Stamps, Year Round Sentiments 
Hero Arts ClearDesign, Operation Write Home, Dude
VersaFine Ink Pad, Onyx Black 
Pewter Metallic Decor 
Red Metallic Decor
Sleigh Bells Ring 6×6 

——— S U P P L I E S ———

Elizabeth Craft Designs Peel Off Stickers, Birds, Black
Derwent 72 INKTENSE PENCILS  <—this is my dream set! Linking to all the sizes here too.
Tim Holtz Distress Watercolor Cardstock 
Glossy Accents
Mini Glossy Accents


Mark your calendars…the hop will start this coming Friday at 6am EST….you can check it out on your phone while waiting in line to shop, or come and see everything when you get home. Prize winners will be picked a week later, so you have plenty of time!

OWH Red Friday Bloghop

Sketch Challenge 243

Posted by on Nov 22, 2014 in Sketch Challenge, Stars and Stamps | 6 comments

“Good morning peeps!”

This is Sandy here today bringing you your sketch in my best Marlene impersonation….did you guess it was me? Marlene’s been busy with life stuff, so I’m hopping in with this week’s sketch for you. Lots of yummy layers to play with – or simplify it by removing one or two!


This sketch was inspired by this card sent in by Laurie….it doesn’t look like so many layers when some are white, right? Love how white on white can create the illusion of a CAS card even if it has all those delicious layers. And Laurie’s has such lovely texture as well!

Now it’s time to get your card created and linked up….let’s see what everyone does with this sweet sketch!

Featured Friday Card Maker Tara B., Long Beach, CA

Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in Featured Friday Cardmaker, Stars and Stamps | 21 comments

Helloo and happy Friday to all!!!!!  WOOHOO the holidays are almost upon us and it’s sooo exciting!!!  I took one of those highly scientific polls which roam around Facebook something like “Which holiday are you?”—even the title sounds scientific—(laughing) and not surprising I am Thanksgiving!!!  Forget all the reasons as to why, but I just like the season, like giving thanks and the history of the holiday.  Not really a big turkey fan, but love that stuffing, brown gravy and mashed potatoes and yes—I really do like the green bean casserole!  My mom use to make this dish/casserole with rutabagas, turnips, celery and butter and other stuff.  I tried to get recipe once but it was enough for 50 (Mom was a caterer) and she couldn’t cut it down to family size—Mom just didn’t cook that way.  Me—I’m little miss follow the recipe to the “T” kinda cook.

Thanks again for leaving such great comments for our FFCM last week, it means so much to our nominees and quite frankly I like reading the comments to see what y’all pick up on that I’ve missed.  Tara has a blog so you may leave comments on it as you read about her and look at her closet or leave comments in the section below.  Tara’s cards are great, bright, cheerful, embracing a hint of shabby chic mixed with clean and simple.  The tri-colored heart card—love it!!! want to make one—oh and that’s a great example of a general love card; love how she “targeted” the heart U card; perk me up makes me rethink distressed DP and the cow—oh my granny, love the cow!!!  Y’all know what’s coming next—sit back, relax and get comfy as we learn about Tara in her own words….

 How long have you been stamping/card making?

I have been making cards for over 30 years. I started in high school just drawing and coloring hand made cards. I grew up in a small town in Washington state that was 70 miles from the nearest large town so craft store visits were few and far between. One of the first techniques I picked up on one of those rare visits was embossing. I used to heat the powder over my toaster oven since they did not have heat guns yet. About 17 years ago, I attended a stamp party with my sister. Oh my goodness, it was like the clouds parted and the angels were singing ” Aaahhhh” . I found a demonstrator that would deliver stamps directly TO ME! I have been stamping ever since and was a demonstrator for a stamp company for five years. Now I can’t be limited to one company and purchase from a variety and stamp whatever tickles my fancy.

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

I have a walk in closet that I have turned into my crafting closet. ( you can see it on my blog) I am not a big clothes person, but I have to create. I pulled out all the hanging bars and shelves, painted it a soothing color of blue and had a closet company install new shelves and a work surface. I put up pictures of my family, an inspiration board and love working away in my little closet. I am constantly working on perfecting storage for my crafting items and it is constantly in flux. It is definitely a happy place for me. And, best of all – it has a door:) I can close it to hide a mess or just get away for a bit.

What are your favorite stamp/craft products?

My favorite product is paper, paper and more paper. I love all the lovely designs and have to keep myself from buying too much since I don’t have a lot of space in my craft closet. I really like the 6×6 pads since they contain coordinating paper and have the right amount of it. I love grabbing a sketch, a 6×6 pad and stamps for quick cards.

Tara B6

Do you have a favorite  technique?

Coloring – I have loved it since I was little. I love to color with all sorts of mediums – Copics, water colors, inks, colored pencils etc. It is so relaxing to sit with a cup of tea and color in an image.

Tara B3

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

I am a follower on Facebook and I see so many designs and featured cards that inspire me. I really seem to gravitate to the masculine themed cards since they are always such a challenge for me.

I absolutely love the technique videos on OWHtv. – I can’t wait to try the texture paste and stencil technique.

Tara B4

 Do you prefer digis or stamps?

I prefer stamps but I use both. If I have an idea and can’t find the right stamp, I will create something digitally especially for larger holiday projects.

Do you have a  favorite theme?

I used to love romantic, distressed and very fussy but now have definitely changed to clean and simple. Not only do I like more white space, I also like brighter, clean colors.

Tara B1

Are there colors you love to include on  your cards?

I love bold crisp colors especially blues and greens. I think my favorite combination is aqua and red. When making a card for a friend, I will try and use his/her favorite color or something that reminds me of that person. 

Tara B2

How did you hear about Operation Write  Home?

I saw OWH on another bloggers website in 2010 and had my first OWH party. I invited all my stamping friends to my home, had some lunch and we stamped away the afternoon creating side by side. Our group is getting smaller every year, but we still enjoy making cards for our heroes.

Tara B5

What motivates you to make cards for our  heroes?

My father and brother-in-law are veterans and we are quite a patriotic family. I understand the sacrifice that not only the heroes make, but their families as well. I love the fact that these cards are made for our soldiers to give to their loved ones at home. I may be providing  just bits of paper, ribbon and glue, but I have hopes that they not only offer comfort to the families of our heroes, but the heroes have a sense of peace and connection when they send a card to those they leave at home.

OWHtv Week 166

Posted by on Nov 16, 2014 in OWHtv, Stars and Stamps | 2 comments

Hello, friends! I hope you had a great Veteran’s Day week…how did you celebrate? Did you go to any events or shake a hero’s hand?

OWH sponsored a luncheon for veterans on Tuesday, and the first video shows the gifts made for those who came…they loved them as always! It’s such a treat to see their faces when they receive a heartfelt thank you. Thursday’s video is an Americana Snowman…it’s as if Whipper Snapper Designs came up with a patriotic ball of ice just for our heroes! On Casual Friday, a quick thank you for all the lovely sympathy cards…it’s great knowing so many talented crafters during times like this.

I’ll be taking off for a little travel and family time, leaving later this week and returning after Thanksgiving; please be patient with receipts, I’ll get caught up as quickly as I’m able when I return. Thanks!

Veterans Day Ornaments:

——— S U P P L I E S ———

• Hero Arts Fancy Die THANK YOU  ——
• Sizzix Framelits Circles  ——
• Sizzix Big Shot  ——
• Quickstik Precision Pickup and Placement Tool  ——
• May Arts 1-1/2-Inch Wide Ribbon, Navy Silk  ——
• EK Success Medium STAR Punch  ——
• Tombow Mono Multi Liquid Glue  ——
• EK Success HEART & STAR Punch  ——

Americana Snowman Card:

——— S U P P L I E S ———

• Americana Snowman  ——
• Copic Sketch Marker B000  ——
• Copic Sketch Marker B00  ——
• Copic Sketch Marker B24  ——
• Copic Sketch MARKER B26  ——
• Copic Sketch Marker R14  ——
• Copic Sketch MARKER C5   ——
• Copic Sketch MARKER C3  ——
• Copic Sketch Marker C1  ——
• Copic Sketch Marker YR04  ——
• Copic Sketch Marker E39  ——

Dog cards…and a thank you!


Mid-Month Throwdown: Winter Love You

Posted by on Nov 15, 2014 in Midweek Throwdown Challenge, Stars and Stamps | 9 comments

Welcome to November’s Mid-Month Throwdown Challenge. On the calendar, Halloween is behind us and we’re closing in on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but here at Operation Write Home, we don’t follow the traditional calendar with our card creations. Our cards have a long way to travel and have to make it overseas and back again in time for particular holidays, so even though it’s November, we’re asking you to work on WINTER LOVE CARDS.

Our Valentine’s Day cards deadline is December 31, but as our troops draw down, we’re unsure of how many specific holiday cards we will actually need. So please, make mostly general-themed LOVE CARDS that can be used at any time of year. And don’t forget, if you still have unused Christmas cards, you can turn them into AnyHero Christmas cards simply by writing an uplifting message inside for our troops. That deadline is November 30 so don’t delay – get them mailed soon!

Our sample card maker this month is Kathryn B. who blogs at Kathryn’s Cards. And here is her perfectly Winter Love Card:


And a little about Kathryn in her own words:

I make cards for OWH in honor of the veterans in my family, in particular my grandfather and his five brothers who all served. Grampy sent letters home to his parents and even recorded himself on a few records while stationed overseas. While modern technology has made it a bit easier for our heroes to get a message home, many heroes still prefer to write a card and I’m pleased to give backby putting my hobby to good use.


Featured Friday Card Maker: Frances B., Sharpsburg, GA

Posted by on Nov 14, 2014 in Featured Friday Cardmaker, Stars and Stamps | 23 comments

Helloooo card makers and Happy Friday to YOU!!!!  North GA had SNOW at Halloween—what in the world???? I have a feeling this does not bode well for a mild winter.  Personally I do not want another snow episode involving me, the car, the driveway if y’all remember that harrowing post from January. Didn’t this week get off to a great start with the Marine’s 239th birthday on Monday, Veteran’s Day on Tuesday—makes you just proud to an American!!  Some housekeeping tidbits—as OWH in now in the “Winter/Valentine” season, please pay attention to the shipping deadline—this means the box arrives at Sandy’s door on or prior to December 31st for these cards.  The difference between a “valentine” card and a “general love” card—is the sentiment i.e. the word valentine—if that word is on the card it’s a valentine.  If the card says “I love you”—that’s general love card.  If y’all have watched the November 2014 Sit Rep video you’ll remember general love cards are the big need as those can be used year round and can be sorta valentiney by use of colors and appropriate embellishments.  Other needs are birthday, thank you, missing you and then thinking of you.  Any questions, go here and watch the 6 minute video as you ohhh and ahhhh over the cards Sandy is sorting.

Y’all were great leaving comments a couple of weeks ago for our FFCM and I’m certain this week will follow suit when y’all flip over Frances’ cards.  As she doesn’t have a blog please leave a little OWH love in the comment section below.  The flutterby card is great—notice how the busy DP is toned down by the image—great job!  I really like the sunset card—not only how the sun’s rays were made, but also the inside of the card; the black and white thinking of you—classic; the vibrancy of the…..well enough of me talkin’ about the cards!  Time for y’all to grab a cuppa, prop your feet and take a gander at Frances’ cards and learn a little about this prolific crafter.  Here’s Frances in her own words……

I consider myself a “transplanted Texan”, spending most of my growing up years in South Texas.  I have been living in the Atlanta, GA area for almost 40 years. Sharpsburg is a suburb south of the Atlanta airport. I love down “south”; not as much bad traffic. I have been married for almost 44 years, and have two grown daughters; and 3 grandchildren, 1 girl & 2 boys.  And I’m thankful we all are within 20 minutes of each other, and see each other quite frequently. We go to dinner, shop, and take vacations together. We are a “tight” family.

How long have you been stamping/card making?

I started out making a  scrapbook for my granddaughter for her 4th birthday that we spent at Disneyworld. Got hooked on paper crafting and continued making scrapbooks for her and the two boys when they came along.  Somehow, I would see cards online and tried my hand at that. So, that was about 5-6 years ago. I really love making the cards most of all. But I still scrapbook all the milestones in my grandkids lives, so far 35 books between the three of them.

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

Yes, I have a guest room that has become the “scrap room”.  It is a bit small, but it has a huge closet so I can hide most of my “stuff” in there. Would love to move it all downstairs to the basement but hubby doesn’t see the need to finish the basement, maybe some day.


What are your favorite stamp/craft products?

Right now I have become a big fan of Gina K Designs products. Love her stamps and cardstock. I also have a Cricut machine. The first one was given to me by my husband, boy he didn’t know what he started! And I have recently purchased the Cricut Expression.


Do you have a favorite  technique?

Favorite? No not really. I get inspiration/ideas from a lot of blogs and Pinterest.


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

I have used several of the sketches, and I really like that the measurements are on the sketches. It saves time and experimentation trying to figure out what will fit where. But I guess my real favorite is the pinwheel card. I have used that a lot…when I’m stumped that’s my go to layout. 

Do you prefer digis or stamps?

I do the stamps. I have never tried the digis, it seems a bit too much technology for me.

 Do you have a  favorite theme?

No particular theme…just whatever I may see online or have a particular need. For OWH I make mostly thinking of you, miss you etc.


 Are there colors you love to include on  your cards?

I use a lot of the teal/turquoise & brown/black colors. They just look so pretty and crisp together.


 How did you hear about Operation Write  Home?

I really don’t remember. Probably off some blog, but I’m so glad I did. I have only been sending in cards for about a year  and hope that once a lot of the military personnel come home after the present wars, there can be somewhere else Sandy can find to send these cards. We all love making them!


What motivates you to make cards for our  heroes?

First, wanting to give back to the heroes of our military. My father was a military career man, and was in Europe during WW II. So I have a soft spot for those who serve. My son-in-law was in the Army and served in Iraq…that was before he was my son-in-law. So my heartfelt thanks and admiration go to all that serve all over the world!