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Runs with Scissors

September 17, 2016

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Hello, again. Has anyone else noticed how quickly September is marching into October? Finally and at last it is reasonable to expect the temperature and humidity numbers to dip here in Alabama. It is the time of year that our over worked air conditioning unit can take a well deserved break. Even the attic fan is running less and less.

Here in the Penny Black studio the windows are open, the curtains are dancing in the autumn breezes and there is apple cider simmering on the stove. (Thank you to whoever thought of that). The studio is an amazing place to be any time of the year, but when it is decorated in the colors of autumn it’s even better.

While Mr. RWS is at home power washing our sidewalks and driveway, I’ve been happily busy using the stamps and dies from the Magic of the Season and Autumn Splendor releases.

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My apologies to anyone with a spider phobia. Once this idea entered my head, there was nothing to do but make a batch of spiders and add them to my Happy Haunting card, which I stamped using the Spooky Fun transparent set. I applied black enamel to each of the eight-legged little darlings. The background was created using Distress inks and a blending tool. I will have to think a while before deciding who “deserves” this card.

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I stamped and embossed the evergreen tree from the Woodland Beauty transparent set several times using various shades of green ink. I created the sky using an ombre ink pad which gave me several shades of orange. I would be happy to spend time in this Chapel in the woods, made more dimensional by offsetting two diecuts slightly.

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Nothing says Christmas card as clearly as red and green. It’s even better if the card includes a poinsettia and holly. I was happy to notice that the poinsettia stamp from the Red Sparkle stamp included a bow tying the stems together. This was a perfect opportunity to use the Bow Set die and add a dimensional red bow. Jill Foster demonstrated the technique of blocking off part of a sentiment with tape and using two different ink colors, which I used for this card.

Whatever happened to common sense and what has my insurance company done with theirs?

 I am going to write about this calmly and maturely, but please forgive me if I forget and turn into a ranting and raving lunatic!

Recently I received a large envelope from the company that provides our Homeowner’s insurance. Thank goodness I sat down to open the mail that day because I would have collapsed into a heap had I been standing!

It was a copy of our policy and the bill for the premium. I looked at the amount due at the bottom of the Declarations page. Where for the past 11 years there used to be a three digit number and some pennies, there was now a number with a comma and some pennies.

When I could breathe again, I took myself to my desk and racked my brain trying to calculate by what percentage the premium had increased.   Something to do with “is over of”. Finally I asked Mr. RWS, the math whiz, who calculated it for me. Actually, my body was trembling too badly to be able to use the calculator. The answer to the percentage riddle was 78%. Yes dear friends, our premium had increased by a whopping 78%.

Once I recovered the power of speech, I called Customer Service, fully expecting the voice on the other end of the line to say, “My goodness! That can’t be right. We would not do that to our customers. Let me find someone who can recalculate your premium for you.”

Dear Reader, that is NOT what happened. Mr. Customer Service proceeded to educate me on how they realized their old method of calculating premiums for the state of Alabama was not accurate and they now have a new method. They also had spent time analyzing future risk in our state. All Alabama residents received a rate increase, he said.

Now I began to panic. What did my insurance company know about “future risk” in Alabama? Was it the apocalypse? Melting glaciers crossing the Mason-Dixon line? Have they finally realized we deal with tornadoes? Tornadoes are nothing new down here, that should not be a surprise to anyone in the insurance business.

When I pointed out my premiums were increased by 78% and his reasons did not seem enough to justify such an increase, he was not impressed. I mentioned to him if all their customers in Alabama received such a hefty increase, people would be canceling left and right. He still was not impressed.

I very maturely asked to speak to his supervisor or someone who had the power to make changes or solve problems. He agreed to transfer me, but assured me nothing would change. Talk about quelling hope!

And he was right. Mr. Supervisor was no help at all.

I waited until the next day when my blood pressure had come down and called several other insurance companies for rate quotes. Dear Reader, this is not a short and simple process, but I persevered and received three quotes, each at least several hundred dollars lower than my insurance company was charging.

Next step: a letter to the Vice President of Customer Service (thank you, Google). I wrote a very pleasant letter assuring Ms. VP that we were the same lovely people that we had always been for the past 11 years in this home. We had not moved the house or removed the brick walls and replaced them with sticks or cardboard. The fire hydrant was still located across the street and we had new batteries in all the smoke alarms. I even assured her we have a fire extinguisher and alarm system, same as always. Our dog has never bitten anyone (nor has my husband). I asked for a review of this premium and for her company to share with me what factors influenced the increase. (I had been assured by the customer service rep that those factors are proprietary information and could not be revealed).

A week later I received a call from Ms. VP’s colleague whose job it is to handle complaints. She also began with the company speech which I now had heard several times. She did offer me the option of increasing our deductibles (substantially) which I chose to decline.

And then she said it: “Have you noticed we increased your hurricane coverage?”

What? Did she say “hurricane”? Yes, she did. I made her repeat it and then checked my declaration page and there it was … hurricane coverage lumped in with the premium for Property Protection, along with Dwelling and Other Structures and Personal Property, etc. And wasn’t I pleased to have this extra coverage?

Well, I told her, it might be a blessing if I wasn’t located just 100 miles south of Nashville and a six hour drive from the Gulf coast. And a hurricane would have difficulty crossing the mountains that surround us and dipping down into the “bowl” we live in. I couldn’t swear, but I was pretty sure our part of the state had never experienced a hurricane.

She did not miss a beat. Not even when I asked her to break down how much of my premium was for that hurricane coverage. “No way to tell”, she said. Well, I said, somewhere someone has the work sheet that was used to recalculate my premium and that would surely tell us how much of an influence that hurricane coverage was.

Dear Reader, I stayed sweet (like they do in the South) and I even commiserated with her when she told me her auto insurance rate went up when her husband had an accident. I had to point out to her that my home did not have an accident and I did not need or want hurricane coverage.

It worked. Our phone call ended with her promising to have an actual human recalculate our premium and share with me the factors that caused the huge increase.

I am not 100% certain, but I am thinking the hurricane coverage is to blame: especially since my conversations took place while Hurricane Hermine was threatening Alabama, Georgia and Florida. I may be breathing a sigh of relief prematurely but I will let you know how this story ends.

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Don’t forget the convenience and beauty of Penny Black’s Stickeroos. This is the Berry Delight sticker just mounted on cardstock, trimmed and then applied to a card base. I did add sparkle to the leaves, berries and white trim on the pine cone; another detail that makes the card special. Christmas cards are the best opportunity to add bling and trim.

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And here is my watercolored version using the Cones and Berries slapstick stamp. I painted directly on the stamp and used my MISTI so that I could be sure to stamp any area more than once that did not stamp clearly the first time. I added a sentiment and a little blue bird, just to have more detail and topped it all off with a snowflake and pearl.

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I am still going strong with ideas for Snowy, but this is only number four out of the seventeen weeks from start to finish of this project. It isn’t time to panic yet. This time Snowy is delighted to be standing in front of the beautiful background made with the No Two Are Alike die. I may run out of ideas before I complete the challenge I set for myself, but I can’t imagine ever becoming tired of this adorable snowman.

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And here he is … the little guy who is in charge of making every day sunny, every event more fun and every trial and tribulation a little less difficult to handle. We have all heard it before: why can’t we all be more like our dogs? No worries for tomorrow, no regrets from yesterday and full of unconditional love. I do believe pets are part of our world in order to teach us what they are born already knowing.

Oh, my. I have gone on so long about my insurance woes that I have overstayed my Penny Black welcome. Just know that I am happy you stopped by and I will be visiting the Penny Circle Flickr Gallery to enjoy your work with Penny Black products. Oh, yes, I have stowed the scissors and didn’t once mention to Ms. Customer Service that I sometimes run with them.

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Fun Fridays: Simply Elegant

September 16, 2016

Over the next couple of months, several of our Fun Fridays will have a clean and simple twist as we feature the elegant stamping of Patti Kehl.

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This week we’re sharing Patti’s clean and simple style while also featuring non-traditional Christmas colors. One look at this beautifully colored poinsettia from our transparent set, 30-374 Winter Joy, has us ready to think pink!

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And speaking of pink… Patti’s trendy watercolor background looks amazing with our Creative Die snowflakes, 51-268 A Blizzard.

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And finally, you just can’t go wrong with a little turquoise and a pop of red. Don’t you love the way Patti has embellished her Creative Die sentiment with a hanging snowflake?

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What are your stamping and die cutting plans for your holiday cards? Traditional colors, pops of pink, “edgy” card designs, brushstroke beauties… We’d love to see YOUR Penny Black projects in our Penny Circle Flickr Gallery and/or posted to our Facebook page.

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TGIF! Don’t forget…

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“Like” our page on Facebook for exclusive inspiration by Birgit Edblom!

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VIDEO: Poinsettia Cheer

September 15, 2016

Don’t miss the new creation on our Simplicity Site today… click HERE to check it out!

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And now scroll down for more inspiration with Cathy.

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Get ready, here come our designers with their tips, techniques, and tutorials featuring our newest releases Magic of the Season and Autumn Wishes. This week we are “getting edgy” with Cathy Andronicou.

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What gives Cathy’s next card a fanciful edge? Our delicate Creative Die, 51-249 Winter Garland!

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Watch directly on YouTube HERE.

Are you stamping along with Cathy this week? She makes it easy with photos of her creative process to accompany her videos.

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Download complete supplies and instructions HERE.

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51-249 Winter Garland
30-381 Festive Cheer
30-377 Birds and Blooms
40-489 Elaborate
15-003 Coral Reef and 06-002 Spring Meadow Mix and Match Cardstock

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VIDEO: Jingle All the Way

September 14, 2016

Get ready, here come our designers with their tips, techniques, and tutorials featuring our newest releases Magic of the Season and Autumn Wishes. This week we are “getting edgy” with Cathy Andronicou.

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Do you hear the distant sound of jingle bells? You just might after you see what Cathy has created with our transparent set, 30-375 Merry Jingle.

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Today’s unique “edge” features this regal reindeer. So fun!

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Watch directly on YouTube HERE.

Take a closer look at Cathy’s process…

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Download complete supplies and instructions HERE.

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30-375 Merry Jingle
51-257 Jingle All the Way
30-382 Yuletide Wishes
80-012 Wintertime Designer Paper Pad

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VIDEO: Edgy Fun with Cathy

September 13, 2016

Don’t miss the new creation on our Simplicity Site today… click HERE to check it out!

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And now scroll down for more Top Three fun!

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Get ready, here come our designers with their tips, techniques, and tutorials featuring our newest releases Magic of the Season and Autumn Wishes. This week we are “getting edgy” with Cathy Andronicou.

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As we kick off our week of “edgy” cards with Cathy, we head into the forest with our feathered friends. Cathy created this unique card featuring our transparent set, 30-377 Birds and Blooms, and our Creative Die, 51-265 Woodland Scene.

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Watch directly on YouTube HERE

Here’s a closer look at Cathy’s creative process.

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Download complete supplies and instructions HERE.

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30-377 Birds and Blooms
51-041 Friends Frame
51-265 Woodland Scene
30-086 Let It Snow
30-192 Yuletide Greetings (discontinued item)
80-013 Holiday Trimmings Designer Paper Pad

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A Peek, A Video, A Giveaway, and MORE!

September 12, 2016

Wow! Today is a busy day here on the blog. To begin, we have fabulous cards from Birgit Edblom, along with complete supplies and instructions, as she shares two unique techniques for stamping with our brushstroke stamps: 40-495 Cones & Berries and 40-492 Berry Kissed.

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Download complete supplies and instructions HERE.

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Download complete supplies and instructions HERE.

Special thanks to Birgit for sharing your stamping secrets!

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Next, we have a fun video from Jill featuring our Slapstick/Cling stamp, 40-485 Poinsettia Wreath, and our Creative Die sentiment, 51-255 Winter Cheer.

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Watch directly on YouTube HERE.

And since we here at Penny Black and the kind folks at Shimmerz Paints are getting into the holiday spirit, how about a giveaway?

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Here’s how to enter for a chance to win the featured set of Ho, Ho, Holiday Inklingz and a Penny Black Slapstick/Cling stamp:

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And last, but certainly not least, we leave you with a peek at the AMAZING creativity that is yet to come this week…

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alexandra’s Sunday scrapbooking – Partial Stamping

September 11, 2016
 Hello dear Friends! Welcome to another edition of scrapbooking with Penny Black inc. products. Today, I’d like to share a TUTORIAL for partial stamping. To make the cards I’ve used slapstick/Cling Verdure #40-475, the Creative die Stitched Edges #51-136 and for the sentiments: Heartfelt #30-286You&Me #30-285. I hope you’ll join me over @ art scrap & more. Thank You!