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Are you organised for Christmas - no boo-ing!

Oh my gosh! did I have a lovely time making these cards yesterday! (yes I did). It was raining drizzle fashion in the morning and then the sun came out - so I had to go outside and abandon card making for the sunshine and some blackberry picking activity. Then it got colder and I was back indoors finishing the cards off.
All of the cards I made were using the 'Bells are Ringing' bundle from the new Stampin' Up seasonal catalogue. I posted some catalogues out this monday to current customers but if you didn't get one and would like one just contact me. This bundle is one of the cheapest stamp set + dies bundles in the catalogue and so I decided it was a good one to choose.
You can see it meets my criteria for a stamp set - i.e. it has images, background stamping capability and sentiments all in one stamp set. I also thought I could use it for Christmas, weddings and christenings, so it will fulfil more than once purpose. I can make my Christmas cards, tags and also some Christmas decorations using it because the dies are so pretty and would look great just cut in gold or silver foil and hung with some thread on the tree or adorning a wreath. But first the cards!!
 This picture is me having issues with my magnetic plate. I was trying to cut a few different things in one sweep (or roll through) and I got magnetic plate wiggle! This is when the die jumps slightly to meet a magnet on the other side!! Any how I am getting distracted. My usual way to tackle a new stamp set and dies is to stamp and cut every image a few times in some chosen theme colours. I gather the inks, card etc in my chosen colour - this time it is gold and red and cream as I am country cottage now rather then seaside so the golds are looking good (even though I prefer silver and white - withdrawal symptoms already).
 So here is a picture of some of the prep work stamping out some images. This set has some stamps that colour in the images for you - such as the detail on the bell - I opted to add the red bit top and bottom and then stamp the middle of the bell separately in gold ink and jump it up onto dimensionals to give the card some depth. You can see the gold bits stamped on the top left of the photo. Then I used the ink pad and just stamped it down on some card. I have to say it had a rather pleasing effect which I then put to good use as a background square on some of the cards. I also used it as background paper for the jingle bells and the circles for the 'donger'!

 Take care though as when you stamp your image in brown or black ink on the top of the gold background - you pick up some of the ink and it can have the most displeasing effect on your ink pad- see photo above!

 This is the effect as a background. These ink pads are new and are in the new Seasonal catalogue and are on page 16 and called 'Delicata' metallic ink. They have a lovely shimmer to them and work the best on light coloured card. Below is a photo of some backgrounds I created using the ink - I used the gold ink but it is also available in silver and copper. I stamped the mistletoe spring randomly to create a background,  just the ink pad itself straight down and I also had an experiment stamping over some laser cut paper which looks rather chic- ey shabby.
 After cutting out lots of die cuts I was left with some cute little stars - in amongst the pieces of cast off are some little stars and you can see below I picked them out with my Take your pick tool, very handy as it has a putty end that just grabs them for you. Don't waste these bits they make great accents particularly in glitter card and foil card and save you a fortune on buying rhinestones! (p.s. ignore the writing on my grid paper I had been copying a knitted mini stocking pattern from a u-tube video - it is NOT some crazy line dancing schematic!)
 The thing you must know about the Delicata ink is, that it is water based and you need to give it a little bit of drying time - or you will have gold fingers (although this is preferable to blackberrying fingers which came later in the day)
 The photo below shows all of the bits ready to be creative with - at this stage I feel as if I have made myself a kit and I can just move the bits around on a card until I feel a happy vibe. Note this is a nice relaxing stage so get a drink - mine is homemade lemonade as the sun had started to come out and I abandoned the card making for Christmas to make the most of the fading British summer!
 Then on my return I put together the following projects: Here is a tag - which looks rather dapper anchored around a bottle of red wine and could make a nice present at Christmas time, if it lasts that long. I used the gold ink pad to create the stripe across the tag and then layered it with some of the die cuts. Note, this set gives and gives, the little curly glitter gold bit at the top of the tag is a piece that falls out of one of the bell die cuts !
 Here is the tag again - along with another one of a school bell (this could make a nice teacher Christmas card) artistically photographed on top of the holly bush in my garden in the evening sun. There are a few shadows in the photo but I thought it shows off the glittering of the ink and the glitter and foiled card quite well.
 I used 'real red' ink and 'early expresso' (dark brown) instead of black on very vanilla card. The tags are done with the tag topper punch and the ribbon is from around 3 years ago stampin up as I liked it so much I bought a stash.
 The card below I had a lot of fun with - it also has an image right at the start of this blog post. The 'jingle' bells looked just like they were smiling to me when I stamped them and so I added some wiggle eyes. These were from my stash but note that Stampin' Up does have some wiggle eyes on page 57 of the Seasonal catalogue to go with some of the halloween stamps.
 This red base card was stamped with a gold ink pad rectangle in the middle (i.e. just turn the ink pad upside-down and press it onto the card. I centred mine by eye. Then I added the bells, that I had stamped onto the gold inked card. I added some bakers twine bows and stuck them on to the front with stampin dimensionals (sticky foam pads)
 Above is another similar card. This one I used the back ground card that I stamped with the mistletoe image in gold ink. I added some ribbon, which is in my stash that actually came wrapped around a pair of pyjamas I bought. Do you salvage ribbon from clothes and wrapping?? The bells just hang from some twine which came from stampin up ribbon called 'flax ribbon' but I have torn the flax pieces into small strands. I used a glue dot to fasten the middle of the bow to the card.
 Apologies for photography with the shadows. The bell card above I made using the gold ink pad background, a die cut from red glitter card and a stamped bell with the middle section raised on foam pads and the 'dong' on foam pads also (mini foam pads) I tucked in a couple of sprigs of mistletoe and dotted with those little stars I rescued from the outfall of the jingle bell dies.
 The above card I went with a plain cream background with sentiment stamped straight on the corner with red ink. I used two of the bells and the bow - who needs ribbon? there is a bow image in this set! I coloured the bow in with real red pen. Then I used a few of the springs of misletoe ....
 And then a few more....
 And then a few more...
 And maybe just a few more!!
 Until I was happy with the end result and above is a picture of the card, once again on my holly bush outside. I love this holly I found it when I was weeding it was struggling for some light and now it is thriving. It it very pretty as it is variegated. Note another little accent on the card in red glitter from the bell dies.
I have put a couple of photos below of my walk and blackberrying - I am loving living in the country!
Below is the front of my house which I have not really ever looked at because I always go around the backdoor! It is on the road (country lane really) I have a little post box on the gate.
 This is the view at the top of the road - shame its not video you would hear me puffing a bit from the walk up - very hilly! What a view eh! The house is hidden but its just by that tree that is sticking up on the right.
 All the blackberry bushes are along both sides of the road and they are laden at the moment. I even found three raspberries! Below is my haul!
 3lb of blackberries. Simon wasted no time last night mashing them ready to make some wine. I saw this cute bee asleep on top of the blackberry - he just looked up for me to take his photo!! Can you see him? (He is on the bottom right blackberry-zoom in you can see his face)

Blackberrying is such fun, it outweighs the risk assessment! (always the auditor!) The risks of being stung by nettles, bees, horseflies and prickled by blackberry thorns, of tripping on lengths of blackberry roots and falling down a hidden ditch in a bid to just reach that lovely shiny fat blackberry! All of which were achieved on this particular foray up the lane and were nursed in a nice hot bath last night and some germolene cream. 
It does feel very strange doing Christmas when it is so obviously nearly Autumn - I might have to do some autumn stuff next time I venture into the craft room! However it is good to get some cards up and running so you can check out what is on offer in the new seasonal catalogue and I can stash some cards for the busy season!
I can't wait to go blackberrying again (this time for jam) my jam making supplies are in the post!
I hope the sun is out where ever you are,  it looks like we may have a lovely weekend coming along so enjoy the beginning of Autumn!
JoP x