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0 In Blythe's Stamping Business/ Blythe's Studio/ Classes & Events

My 21st Year With Stampin’ Up! Is the Year to Grow My Business

This has been a growing year for me and my stamping business.  It’s also my 21st year with Stampin’ Up! so I’ve finally come of age.  🙂  I guess I’d say that it all started with the revamping of my stamping studio, aka, My Country Loft or, for short, my loft last July/August.  It’s situated over our garage and was originally a craft studio for the wife of the builder of our cabin/home.  When we purchased, the room became the ‘boys dorm room’ where son and guests would play their guitars and make noise that went right down the driveway and out into the forest, not into the house.  Son went to college, got married, we moved into the cabin on a permanent basis and I claimed the space.  The sign came from a local hardware store that, sadly, went out of business.  The Country Loft was their gift area, including a small selection of rubber stamps.  Of course I purchased some of them before I went to the Stampin’ Up! side.

My Country Loft - summer flowers

My Country Loft – summer flowers

About that time I also started the revamping of my StampingWithBlythe blog.  I loved my old one but it was time for a refresher.  I went from this logo:

My Blog Banner Logo, created in 2014

My Blog Banner Logo, created in 2014. I loved the delicateness and the fact that it showed the trees that surround our home and community.

to this one:

Blog header showcasing my 21st year with Stampin' Up!

This blog header showcases my 21st year with Stampin’ Up!, the British phone box–I collect them and identify with them–the tree boughs represent the National Forest we live in and then the simple introduction of who I am and how to contact me.  My daughter-in-law Khrishna, created it for me after several failed prototypes by her and by me.  When I saw this one, I swooned.  It may not show stamps and inks but it shows ME.

 

You saw my stamp room makeover yesterday and can check out some of the beginning of the real agony of it here.  The refreshed room has really made it easily for me to accommodate my monthly classes and occasional small retreat groups for down line and crazy Christmas card marathon stampers.

I’ll still be attending Stampin’ Up! events because (1) I believe in them, (2) I learn a lot while there, (3) I get to see stamping friends from here and there, (4) the display boards are such inspiration and (5) this year I’ll be seeing it from the stage as a presenter.  I guess longevity does have its paybacks!  🙂

I’ve been a member of John Sanpietro’s Business Stampers Coaching Group for a big number of years and through that group I’ve utilized the skills of my lovely, smart and sassy personal coach Brenda who has given me lots of inspiration and ideas.  And support.

And just recently I have joined a new website group dedicated to providing content strategy for stamping businesses called Stampology.  The link is on my sidebar.  Disclaimer:  the owner of Stampology is my daughter-in-law Khris who has built two fabulous blogs for me as well as offered me lots of content support over the years.  We’re always jabbering over ideas.  She definitely has credentials to back her up.

In June I launched a new event called a Card Buffet.  During each month’s 3 hour Buffet,  participants create a total of 8 cards.  They select their cards from the online Buffet presentation of eight cards in any assortment to equal that magic number of eight.  The intention of the Buffet is create cards for your next month’s needs (rather than buying them in a store whose cards are very likely not made in the good old USA).  Hand stamped is always better!  Participants can choose the greeting of their choice for each card.  The Buffet assortment is ready for viewing by the 10th of each month with selections made no later than one week before the class which is held on the last Tuesday of the month.  Click on Blythe’s Buffet in the right hand box at the top of this blog to see August’s class selections.

Stretching my skills, I’m offering PDF Tutorials of my monthly classes, our monthly library gatherings and my monthly Card Buffet, with or without card stock and embellishments.  I still have a little work to do on the technical aspects of getting my tutorials into ‘your’ email box but I’m smoothing it out a bit more each month.

Growing my downline (creative interested stampers who want to be a part of the Stampin’ Up! family) is always on my radar.  My goal is to offer the opportunity of becoming a demonstrator to everyone I chat with about ‘doing what I do by owning their own stamping business’ whether in a class, on the phone or in the grocery store!  If they’re not interested I invite them to a class so they can experience the lovely therapy of stamping and creating.  I’m not the real forward type so I don’t always ‘push my wares’ but I try.  My team remains small and some are long-distance but we do have fun and each member knows I’m always just a phone call away when they have a question or concern.

I think I’m honestly always working on growing my business, improving what I offer while still being ME.  I totally enjoy/love what I do and I want my customers to always know that I’m here and available to answer their questions.

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0 In Blythe's Stamping Business/ Miscellaneous

Coming Up With New Creative Ideas…..How? Where?

Sometimes the creative process of stamping can be a hurdle.  But…..that’s why I always have my Annual Catalog by my fingertips.  It used to be called our Idea Book & Catalog and I still definitely look at it as an idea book.  I also “force myself” to use a new stamp set or accessory almost as soon as it comes to my door.  It’s sort of like breaking the ice.  While the sample shown in the catalog with the set might not always be my favorite I can usually find a way to tweak it to be more like ‘me’.

Another place to find stimulation when you’re stuck in a creative slump is to check out Pinterest.  Be sure to set your timer for an appropriate length of time–like fifteen minutes–and enter Stampin Up plus either your stamp set or event or holiday and have a look around.  It’s easy to get lost there so be strict about moving away after you’ve got a few ideas.  Ask me how I know??!

Pinterest - search method

Pinterest – search

 

I also belong to a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator group called SUDSOL.  Simply Unique Demonstrators Sharing On Line.  If I’m stuck on a project, need someone to critique a sample I’m working on, or just need an idea I check in to the Sudsol Gallery.  Most often what I find there hasn’t been all over the web so I can surprise my class participants when I present the card or 3-d item in a class.

Occasionally I like to follow a blog hop that has a holiday or birthday or color or stamp set theme.  It’s fun to see what ideas people come up with.  Sometimes I’ll see a great color combination or usage of a new embossing folder.  And it sets my mind to mental creating.

How do I find a blog hop?  When I see more than one card from the same demonstrator on Pinterest for example, I’ll sign up to receive notifications of their blog posts.  Then once in a while I’ll get word that they’re participating in a blog hop.  I check out their card and then click on the next person and the next and so it goes.  Some ideas I like and some just aren’t my style so I move on.  It’s a fun way to quickly see a bunch of styles and ideas geared around a single theme.

I keep a small drawer full of scrap paper and I use it when I’m making up a new card with various layers of card stock.  Sometimes it’s hard to get just the right dimensions and I don’t mind making mistakes on scrap paper.  It’s a lot less expensive than trial and error with my card stock, Designer Series Paper and ribbons.  I also use this scrap paper for making ‘masks’ to add dimension to a card.

Here’s a quick example of using a mask:

Say you want to put a forest behind a bear.  That’s a little absurd but graphic.  Stamp the bear on a piece of card stock or……scrap paper to get an idea what it will look like.  Stamp another bear on a piece of scrap paper or a sticky note and cut it out.  Lay it on top of the first bear you stamped.  Stamp the forest image right over the bear and the mask.  Remove the mask and ……… walaa!

Preparing to mask the bear image

Preparing to mask the bear image: Stamp once on your card stock and a second time on a sticky note.

 

Lay the cut out mask over the card stock stamped bear

Lay the cut out mask over the card stock stamped bear.

 

Remove the mask and the bear is sitting happily in front of the forest.

Remove the mask and the bear is sitting happily in front of the forest.  Those ‘extra’ trees at stamped onto the mask which you have removed.

 

There are times when I’m working on creating that new masterpiece (!) when I have to just step away and maybe put all of my stamp pads away, or my Big Shot and dies or embossing folders, and just clean off my work space.  And then maybe I’ll make myself a snack or a cup of coffee, do a bit of a walk about and finally come back and look at my not-quite-a-masterpiece.  That ‘time out’ usually helps me see the ‘wrong color’ or ‘wrong whatever’ and I can complete what has become my pleasing masterpiece of the day.

I’m a morning person so I love going out to my stamp room early and either start a new project or card or finish up what I didn’t finish the day before.  I also sometimes go to bed thinking about a certain stamp set or event.  Sometimes I wake up with a brilliant idea.  And sometimes I don’t.

Last July/August I totally gutted and revamped my stamping space and that gave my creativity a refreshing boost.  When I finished with the renovation of fresh paint, a desk, and a new worktable everything had a place of it’s own, a place it could be put a-w-a-y.  Working in this clean space is very inspiring for me.  And then I clutter it up again!

 

Old Stampin' Studio

Stampin’ Studio ready for an overhaul

 

Stampin' Studio empty and ready for revamp

My Country Loft Stampin’ Studio empty and ready for revamp

 

Ready to go, clean and refreshed stampin' studio

Ready to go, clean and refreshed stampin’ studio — overlorded by Fred!

 

One final place (probably not the real last place) that I get creative inspiration is at Stampin’ Up!’s conventions and events.  There are always boards of samples, booths showing new products and how to use them, along with creative ideas, and demonstrations by Stampin’ Up! employees or Stampin’ Up! demonstrators themselves.  I’ll be one of those demonstrators in November at the Local OnStage convention in Phoenix.  (Yes, I’m a tad nervous but very excited.)

Inspiration board at OnStage in April show casing the new Sweet Sugarplum 2016-2018 In Color

Inspiration board at OnStage in April in Salt Lake City showcasing the new Sweet Sugarplum 2016-2018 In Color

 

All this said, there are so many places to look for creative inspiration.  Heck you can find color inspiration on a cereal box or a hand cream advertisement.  Keep looking.

 

 

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0 In Stamp Sets

Last Chance to Get the Thoughtful Branches Stamp Set & Bundle

As promised at the beginning of August, the awesome Thoughtful Branches stamp set, Beautiful Branches thinlits and bundle will be g-o-n-e after August 31st or when supplies are exhausted, which ever arrives first.  You really don’t want to miss out on this delightful and most versatile set.

Thoughtful Branches

 

Here are some of the cards I’ve made with the stamps and thinlits:

Thoughtful Branches Hydrangea

Thoughtful Branches Hydrangea

 

Thoughtful Branches forest at sunset

Thoughtful Branches forest at sunset

 

Thoughtful Branches in winter

Thoughtful Branches in winter

 

Thoughtful Branches in winter

Thoughtful Branches oh-so-cute hedgehog

 

These cards are from my August class.  I have a PDF available with pictures and cutting instructions here and another with card stock included here.  Argh–I’ll have to re-set these up this afternoon when I get home from local defensible space inspections.  I’m a volunteer but I take my responsibility seriously.  For now, enjoy the photos.

In the meantime, don’t miss out on this beautiful, oh-so-versatile stamp set, thinlits or bundle!  It’s definitely one of my favorites.

 

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0 In Blythe's Stamping Business/ Miscellaneous/ Stampin' Up! Events

Why Did I Join Stampin’ Up! ?

In a town far, far, away (ok, 150 miles) from where I live today I was invited to cross my street and attend a ‘creative workshop’.  I don’t know if Stampin’ Up! was mentioned and I wouldn’t have known what Stampin’ Up! was if it had been.  I’d never heard of it.  I’d been to many craft fairs and purchased lots (as in L-O-T-S) of stamps, most of which I had no idea what to do with.  They were cute.  In fact I still have a very select collection of some of those very random stamps.

Blythe's random 'other' stamps

Each of these stamps has a spot in my stamping history, most funny, a few sweet and thoughtful.

 

My problem was coordination.  How does one create a card with these gems shown above???  I didn’t have a clue how to use those stamps together to make something I’d share with or send to someone.  I asked Stacey, our leader (who was working at Michaels which is where my neighbor met her), if she could help me use my stamps.  “Of course” said she.  And then she proceeded to show Stampin’ Up! products — in sets — and how they worked together.  I. Was. Hooked.  I signed up the next day.  And I’ve never looked back.

, 1996-97 SU! Annual Catalog

This is one of my VERY early Stampin’ Up! goodies from the 1996-97 Annual Catalog

 

, 1996-97 SU! Annual Catalog

Clownin’ Around Birthday

 

Most of my boatload of random stamps have gone bye bye over the years.  I signed up in April 1996 and in July ’96 I attended my first Stampin’ Up! convention — in Las Vegas.  Conventions were themed in those days and our group (uplines and sidelines) all dressed in some sort of costume.  And that included Stampin’ Up!’s ‘head honchos’ who at that time were Shelli Gardner and her sister LaVonne Crosby.  I can’t find the photo I have with them from 1996 but when I do, I’ll definitely share it!

Since that first convention I haven’t missed one and have built great friendships with fellow stampers as well as Stampin’ Up! employees.  Now some of my best stamping friends are from all across the US and Canada as well as Europe and the South Pacific.  And I look forward to seeing them at Stampin’ Up! events.

As a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator there are some wonderful perks, such as earning THE annual cruise.  I’ll admit it.  I’ve never earned THE cruise.  But…..never say never.   I’m still a demo and am still working toward that goal.

I did, however, earn the opportunity to attend what was called Leadership (for business oriented demonstrators who have achieved a certain total in sales as well as a certain number of downline members).  Now, under a new convention format, since Stampin’ Up! has gone international in a big way, our Conventions are called On Stage and are held semi-annually, on a rotating basis in either North America, Europe or the South Pacific.  Leadership is called Centre Stage and is held one of the evenings during the 3-day On Stage event.  You might remember that I went to Brussels, Belgium in November 2015, to attend the very first On Stage Live event!  Wow!  I roomed with an American gal I’d never met (hi Terri) who lives in the Netherlands.  I could go on and on about seeing the friends from UK (hi Bekka and Nicki and Lynne and Michelle, and more) and Germany (hi Jeanette and Nadine) whom I’d met in Salt Lake City the year before at the final annual traditional yearly Convention.  Old home party is what it was.  Plus I met new friends (hi Diana from the Netherlands!)

Brussels, On Stage Live, November 2015

Brussels, On Stage Live, November 2015

 

Jeanette from Northern Germany

Jeanette from Northern Germany, On Stage Live, Brussels

 

BK out the window

Hello!  This was taken at the last Salt Lake City annual Convention.

 

Laurie, Blythe, Greg Cottrell

Laurie (from Canada) made sure I put the Stampin’ Up! ink in my hair, a tradition I started about five years ago.

 

Blythe with Betty Kincannon in Anchorage, August 11, 2014

Blythe with Betty Kincannon, fellow demonstrator,  in Anchorage, August 11, 2014.  She and her husband Ron gave us a grand tour of the area the first day we arrived in Anchorage.  I met Betty through Stampin’ Up! of course!

 

I love stamping with my local friends and ‘students’ monthly at our Little Library in the Woods here in Mi Wuk Village as well as conducting classes in my stampin’ studio over our garage.  To see each person unleash their own creativity and achieve success with their project is heartwarming.  I also host an annual private stamp-your-Christmas-card-brains-out event the first weekend in December.  The attendees come up to the mountains from the San Francisco Bay Area without children or husbands and enjoy stamping space, a warm bed and food/snack/adult beverage service.

The Christmas Card Crew

The Christmas Card Crew: L > R: Moi, Linda (with Fred in her arms), daughter Andrea, friends Jen and Christy.  They aren’t as innocent as they look!  :)

 

The Library Gang

The Library Gang: Sue, Roberta, Susan, Cindy, Jeanne and Pat

 

Bottom line:  after 20+ years I love Stampin’ Up! just as I did when I first signed up as a demonstrator in 1996.  I’ve met new friends, have a wonderful small business locally and online; through Stampin’ Up! events I learn new ways to use rubber stamps and accessories; I get to travel when I choose to and get to see new catalogs and purchase from them a month before non-demonstrators.  That allows me to be prepared for when the catalog does go ‘live’.

Finally, I was able to pay for half of the new carpeting installed in all but one room of our home a few months ago — much needed in our 35+ year old house.

So now you know why I joined Stampin’ Up!.  In 1996.  It’s great therapy and great fun and oh-so-rewarding.

Selfie with Patti Scanlan -- the crowd!

My friend Patti, from Montana, and I took a selfie of the crowd behind us (or in front of us?) while taking our 20-year walk across the infamous stage.  This photo just happened to catch the 20-year honorees screen shot as it was taken.

 

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0 In 2016 Holiday Catalog/ Catalogs/ Christmas/ Halloween

How I Spent My Weekend

This past weekend, Thursday evening through Monday afternoon, was a planned stamping fest with my sister Janet who lives about 200 miles north of me.  We pooled our pre-order items from the upcoming Holiday Catalog (ask me if you need one) and made as many samples as we could.  As Stampin’ Up! demonstrators we’ve been able to pre-order from this new catalog throughout the month of August.

Here’s what Janet accomplished:

Janet's weekend creativity

Some of her stamping was items she brought with her to share with me, some was items from my card buffets and library classes that I shared with her and the remainder was items we created  together.

I’ll be sharing bits and pieces of these projects over the next few weeks.

Also creating with us part of the time was my granddaughter, Nora, who’s 9 years old.  She had some fun with a Paper Pumpkin kit:

Miss Nora and her Paper Pumpkin kit

She’s a great and patient stamper.

Between surprise child care (they were great!), not cooking (thanks Russ), watching crews cut down 150 foot pines in front of our house, and trying to hibernate in my stampin’ studio, I did get a bunch of stamping done as well.  Mine was mostly slow R & D, research and development.

Sweet Home (140936) and Home Sweet Home Thinlits Dies (140279)

My fun Halloween Haunted House.  There are even two bats flying around inside.

 

I’ll be sharing the rest of my research in the next few days.  I’m also going to be sharing some of the other side of my stamping life……how I got into stamping and what I do to keep myself inspired after 20+ years.  Stay tuned.

As I said earlier in this post, if you need a 2016 Holiday Catalog, send me an email, Blythe@StampingWithBlythe.com and I’ll be glad to send you one.  There are lots of fun and creative products inside.

PS.  Fred, our cat, was as helpful to Janet as he often is to me!

Fred the un-shy people cat 'helping' Janet stamp

 

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0 In Tips

A Little Tip about the Die Brush

I have a fun little tip I’d like to share with you. It’s simple but efficient.

Die Brush, 140603

Die Brush, 140603

If you use the Die Brush and Foam pad to release those pesky little pieces from your thinlits try this: get out an empty Paper Pumpkin Box Is similar sized box or box bottom (10″ x 6-1/2″ or so).  Place the foam pad in the box and then roll away to remove the little piece.  You can shake them off into the box rather then having them fall onto your work place.

Die Brush, 140603, in a Paper Pumpkin box

Die Brush, 140603, in a Paper Pumpkin box.  You’re getting a sneak peak of part of a set of gift tag thinlits from the Holiday Catalog to be released on September 1st.

 

Die Brush, 140603, in a Paper Pumpkin box

 

Die Brush, 140603, in a Paper Pumpkin box

Lots of little bits that are released from the thinlits.

 

It’s a pretty neat way to be neat and tidy when working with thinlits that have lots of little pieces.  And that’s today’s little tip!

0 In All Occasion/ Big Shot/ Cards

Swirly Bird “Stained Glass” Step by Step Directions

Way back in June I shared this post showing a “stained glass window” created using the Swirly Scribbles Thinlits.  I talked about how to put it together but never showed a step by step.  So….today, here it is.

#8 Swirly Bird Stained Glass

Swirly Bird Stained Glass card using the 2016-2018 In Colors.

You’ll need:

Using each color of card stock, cut out one of the long swirly shapes for a total of six shapes.  I’m going to call them “waves” from now on.

scraps of 2016-2018 in colors stampin up

Scraps of 2016-2018 Stampin’ Up! In Colors plus Basic Black

 

'wave' die cut pieces

‘Wave’ die cut pieces and scraps — you’ll need to cut some of the pieces that didn’t pop out of the die when cut.

 

Die Brush, 140603

Die Brush, 140603 – great for removing smail pieces and little ‘hairs’ from die cut pieces

 

Multipurpose Glue on wave piece

Multipurpose Glue on wave piece – place on card front and then trim excess from top and bottom

 

Save all the pieces

Save all the pieces and pick out the very specific pieces that fit into each space.

 

Multipurpose glue in open spaces

Place very small dots of Multipurpose Glue in open spaces; then set in properly pre-fitted pieces.  Trim ends.

 

Trim all ends and add your greeting

Trim all ends and add your greeting.

 

Creating this stained glass card is quite a bit like putting a puzzle together and all of the pieces have their very own place to rest.  This is a fun and powerful card.  You can see the adaptation of this card, in rainbow hues, that I sent to the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida in June as a small sign of support for that community.  About a month later I received a very nice ‘thank you for your support’ card which just warmed my heart.  Sending and receiving hand stamped cards is powerful.  Go ahead and make someone’s day.

 

 

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0 In Class Kit To Go/ Stamp Sets/ Tools

August’s Stampin’ Class in My Country Loft is Featuring the Thoughtful Branches Bundle

Tomorrow’s monthly class will be featuring the awesome and oh-so-veratile Thoughtful Branches Stamp Set and Beautiful Branches Thinlits Dies.  It’s amazing what can be done with these products!

Thoughtful Branches stamp set

Beautiful Branches Thinlits 143538

Here’s a little sneak peak at the four cards we’ll be making:

Blythe's Thoughtful Branches August card class

 

Isn’t it amazing the extreme differences that can be created from one 23 stamp stamp set?!  There’s even an animal in there.  I’ll have a PDF available tomorrow after the class.  Details then.

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0 In Uncategorized

August’s Card Buffet is Finally Ready for Your Viewing and Selection

Five and one-half hours ‘early’ (or 2 days late) my August Card Buffet is ready to be viewed and for your selections of eight cards to be hand-stamped on August 30th in My Country Loft here in Mi Wuk Village.  Registration will close on August 23rd.

Click on the large greenish box above (titled Blythe’s Card Buffet) or just click here to be taken to the card selections.

I look forward to seeing those who can attend on the 30th of August!

 

0 In Announcements

August’s Stamp Buffet

I just updated the green block (upper right under the banner) with a bit of info on August’s Card Buffet.  Basically it says the cards will be posted by midnight Friday, August 12th.  Please have patience and I’m sorry to be late but somehow there haven’t been enough hours in the last ten days or so.  Reality.

Busy woman!

Has this ever been you?  Add stamps, ink, card stock and embellishments to the image!

 

 

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0 In 2016 Holiday Catalog/ Big Shot/ Christmas/ Stamp Sets/ Tools

Sneak Peak into the Holiday Catalog – Greetings From Santa

Personally, I think it’s hold onto your seat because the Holiday Catalog that goes live September 1st is awesome.  I’m working on some projects for a small, local craft fair (called Chief Fuller Day) on September 4th and will be sharing some of them during the next few weeks.

Just so you know how crazy I am, I’m also working as a Volunteer in Prevention, aka VIP (ha ha) inspecting properties in our mountain community for defensible space around their homes.  The program is under the leadership of Cal Fire, the state of California’s fire department.  Long story but well worth the 4 hrs/day pounding the pavement.

Then I’m chairman of the awesome annual Spaghetti Dinner fund raiser at our local Fire Department on September 3rd.  No pressure.

In the meantime, I stamp.  I think I’ve shared this shirt before:

I make stuff...(cause I get sad if I don't)

I make stuff…(cause I get sad if I don’t)

 

That’s my motto because truly, if I go several days without stamping I do get a bit ‘off balance’.

Now to today’s quick and pretty easy project.

Greetings from Santa, available September 1, 2016

Greetings from Santa, available September 1, 2016

 

Supplies:  Real Red and Whisper White card stocks, Big Shot, Detailed Santa Thinlits dies* and the Greetings from Santa stamp set*.     *Both will be found in the new Holiday Catalog.

Once I had my card stock out and cut to size, and my Big Shot set up and ready to go, the card took ten minutes to make!

Big Shot & Detailed Santa Thinlits Dies

Die cut the card stock, attach to card front with Multipurpose Liquid Glue, stamp the greeting and you’re done!  Wham!  Bam!  Woohoo–done!

Greetings from Santa, available September 1, 2016

 

If you’re wondering how I have this stamp set and dies — plus a few others! — that’s a perk of being a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator.  We get to pre-purchase a month before a new catalog is released so we can prepare samples and plan classes using the new products.  Oh-what-fun!  If you’ve ever entertained the thought of becoming a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator yourself, give me a call or send me an email and we can talk.  I love what I do and have loved it for over 20 years now!  You can also find some information here.

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