How to Break a Creative Block

2017 Pals Blog Hop. Join us as we share our themed creations every month.

Welcome to the Pals Blog Hop for February 2017. We are thankful you stopped by to take a look at our 2017 Blog Hop monthly themes.

This month we are CASE’ing a project shown in a current Stampin’ Up! catalog. After all, with the Annual, Occasions and Sale-a-Bration catalogs available right now, there is much inspiration from which to choose. We hope you enjoy our creations.

You may just be starting the Blog Hop or may have come from the previous link from the Line-up on the Pals Blog Hop listing shown below.  The full lineup will help you move along from blog to blog so you may see all the projects.

Break a Creative Block

Spent too much time surfing Pinterest? Yah, me too. I find that the more I look, the less inspired I am to make my own original creations. But, you gotta start somewhere! So, break that creative block by CASE-ing a project – either in part or wholly. What’s CASE-ing? CASE means Copy And Share Everything. Creative types often work best by seeking out inspiration. That’s why Pinterest is so popular! So, whether you create the card exactly as you saw it, or you are inspired by it somehow, don’t be afraid to share your work! Just remember to share where you got the inspiration from in the first place.

Today’s CASE

Today, I chose to go for the full-on COPY for my CASE of a Stampin’ Up! project. You can find my card on page 49 of the Annual Catalog. All I did was swap out the colors for cardstock that I have a LOT of. (Mostly because I accidentally ordered multiples of the Affectionately Yours Cardstock Pack… whoops!)

This really is a super lovely, and super easy card to put together, and the stamp set – Flourishing Phrases – is a versatile set that should have a home in every stamper’s collection.

I opted for a Sympathy card as I had a request from a friend to make some up for her. But, I could have easily gone for the Thank You (pictured in the catalog), congratulations, hello or “just a note”.

Let’s Create, Simply!

If you want to create cards like the ones I share, there is a simple way to do it. All you have to remember is “Let’s Create, Simply!”. Remembering that phrase will help you recall three key points of design: Layout, Color, Style. Don’t overthink it and use these three steps to make great cards every time. Click on the tabs below for today’s tips and Pin-worthy graphics! (Hint: If you’re on a mobile device, you can save images by pressing and holding on the picture and selecting “Share Image”. You should get a whole bunch of options depending on what apps you have installed on your device.)

Get more card layouts like this one over at my blog! Stampin' Up! | pmretreat - crafttips | cards | sketchStart your project by finding a great layout. Here’s a sketch of today’s design. See how simple it is when you break it down into its parts? Save this sketch to a Pinterest board and use it any time you need design inspiration.

Featured Element: Whitespace!

When you break it down, this card is S-I-M-P-L-E, SIMPLE! That means that we have a LOT of whitespace. What to do? You have three choices, really. Fill it with a pattern – DSP. Fill it with a texture – an embossing folder. Or, fill it with some stamping. That’s what this CASE did – using the large flourish stamp, it gets stamped at an angle at the top and bottom, and then there’s some coloring with a Blender Pen.

Get more color combos like this one over at my blog! pmretreat | crafttips | cards | color combos | Stampin' Up!Color doesn’t have to be cosmic! Inspiration is all around, and you can hardly go wrong with any of Stampin’ Up!’s colors. Here’s the primary colors used on today’s creation. You can save this to a Pinterest board to use any time you’re looking for project inspiration.

Featured Coordination: Paper Packs

Stampin’ Up! always comes up with great color combos! Not only do they list those colors with the DSP packs ( and on the DSP packs), they also have coordinating Cardstock Assortments. That makes it even easier to get the right colors from the start. Today I used the assortment pack that coordinates with the Affectionately Yours DSP. Though, I didn’t use any of that DSP, I already knew that those colors would work perfectly together! Thanks SU!

Styling is where it’s easy to go overboard. So, take a deep breath and focus on one key technique to add some flair to your project.

Featured Style: Subtle Elegance

For some reason, sympathy cards seem like they shouldn’t be overdone. Not a lot of sparkle, or bling. Many times they’re monochromatic, and very understated. But, if done right, a little bit of shimmer adds just the right touch. I hope you can see it in today’s example. The Clear Wink of Stella is THE perfect way to add subtle shimmer to any project. Today, they’re on some of the leaves and buds. Then, just to finish off the flower embellishments, I put a medium-sized Metallic Enamel Shape in each center.

Kick-start Your Creativity

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Wrap-up & Chat

If you’ve never heard of CASE-ing before, now you have a new “technique” to add to your creative toolbox. Inspiration is all around, and there’s nothing wrong with recreating what you see. They say “imitation is the highest form of flattery”…. Use my ideas above to help kick-start your creativity for today – and share your results!


Because creatives crave inspiration! By sharing your work, not only will you get better, and craft more often, but you’ll be helping inspire others too. Creativity is a team sport, so get out there and share.

Here’s how you can share with me:

  1. Leave a COMMENT below!
  2. Post a project inspired by today’s post on my Facebook page OR
  3. Post it Pinterest and use the hashtag #PMRInspired2017 OR
  4. Post it to Instagram and use the hashtag #PMRInspired2017

When I find your creations, I’ll comment and I’ll share them right here!

Here’s how you can share with others:

  1. Use those big ‘ol SHARE buttons below and post today’s creative inspiration for others to find
  2. Pin any of my images to your Pinterest boards. I’ve left some great descriptions so you can just pin and go.
  3. If you’re on a mobile device, you can share images by pressing and holding on the picture and selecting “Share Image”. You should get a whole bunch of options depending on what apps you have installed on your device.

Time to Hop Along!

To continue with the hop, please refer to the Blog Hop Line-up below. We hope to see you on next month’s Pals Blog Hop!

Blog Hop Line-up:

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Share and Inspire Someone Today!

Sending Sympathy for PPA 302

#CANCERSUCKS – This week, I had to send a sympathy card to my sister-in-law. She lost her sister to a short, but intense battle with cancer. I’m not very close with my SIL, but I knew I had to send something to let her know that I care and I share in her loss.

As for the card itself, I find that I don’t often keep sympathy cards on hand. It’s just not something I think about, but, when I need one, it’s always needed right away. So, I’ll definitely be taking some more of my Timeless Elegance DSP and making some more of these to have on hand. This was a pretty easy design – partially because of the sketch I had to use for PPA this week. It’s a sketch by me, but as you know, we create these sketches months in advance, so, who new what it would be when it grew up to be a card design. I’m grateful to my past self for creating this sketch – it helped me pull this one together in no time.

By Nicole Watt for Pals Paper Arts (PPA302): Rose Wonder, Timeless Elegance DSP; For more details, click through to my blog! #StampinUp #PMRetreat #floral #sympathy

By Nicole Watt for Pals Paper Arts (PPA302): Rose Wonder, Timeless Elegance DSP; For more details, click through to my blog! #StampinUp #PMRetreat #floral #sympathy

Maven’s Mastery Tips

Keep to Neutrals for Extra Polish

Picking a color palette for a sympathy card usually starts with one word in mind – muted. When was the last time you went to the Brights family for a sympathy card? Yah – I know…. never. So, off to Subtles and Neutrals. No problem. Though, I didn’t want it to be too “plain jane”, so I thought to add some gold. Just a touch though! Check out my color palette and Pin it to use for your next design!

Interpreting a Sketch

I’m always telling you – sketches are just a springboard to help your creativity. Today’s design was no different for me. Do you see all the elements? They’re there! I especially love the watercolor wash that comes across the bottom to create the long rectangular element. I fiddled with vellum, but it wasn’t turning out right, so why not do some colored wash over the black and vanilla DSP? Don’t be afraid to experiment. If it doesn’t work out, set it aside (or pitch it in the trash) and try something else!

Square Card, Rectangle Envelope

It costs extra to mail a square letter/card here in the US. So, I use a rectangle (A2) envelope. My trick to keep the card from sliding around? I add a piece of Tear Tape to the inside of the envelope on one side to make the opening fit the card better. You don’t have to do that, but I like how it keeps the card in place.

A neutral palette perfect for sympathy cards; For more details, click through to my blog! #StampinUp #PMRetreat #ColorCoordinator

I LOVE Hearing From You!

Let’s chat about today’s project! I welcome your questions and comments!

Comment Here

Calling All Creatives!

It’s your turn to play along with the Pals! What will you design using this week’s inspiration? You can post to a blog, sites like SplitCoast Stampers, or even Pinterest, then link back to the challenge!

Share and Inspire Someone Today!

Subtle Sympathy for PPA257

This week’s Pals Paper Arts challenge is our second sketch challenge for the month. I’ve put together an interesting design for Team 2 and for you! Let’s take a look:

Pals Paper Arts 257 - play with us today! (

Remember, a sketch can be just a guideline, so try to envision how you can interpret the three elements in a design of your own. Take a look at my design and see if you can find all of the elements!

By Nicole Watt for Pals Paper Arts (PPA257); An Open Heart, Gorgeous Grunge, Neutrals DSP Pack; For more details, click through to my blog! #PMRetreat #stampinup #sympathy

Maven’s Mastery Tips

Start with a Theme. There’s a lot of different ways that I approach creating a card. Sometimes I know that I want to use a certain stamp set. Other times I know I want to make a certain type of card. Today, I knew I needed to expand my sympathy cards, so that was going to be the basis for my design.

Close Your Eyes and envision what you might use to interpret the sketch elements. Do you see washi tape or a more geometric stamp or a strip of DSP for the rectangular angled piece? Maybe you see something more abstract like the olive branch, or a swath of ribbon (maybe some frayed burlap?).

Hint at Depth with Subtle Color. This would be a pretty boring design if it was all Sahara Sand and Tip Top Taupe. But by using my Blender Pens I was able to add some touches of color throughout the elements to make them come to life!


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Sending Sympathy for PPA249

Welcome to Friday-eve, and a new Pals Paper Arts challenge! This week, we have a new sketch, designed by me. As usual, it was a total surprise, and a fun coincidence when I pulled up the sketch. I prepare the sketches for a 6-month period all at once, and I usually don’t look at them again until the week before the actual challenge. Surprise!

Pals Paper Arts 249 - play with us today! (

Well, wasn’t I happy when I saw this square design. I knew right away that I was going to use the retiring Label Card Thinlit Die. But, I would need to be creative to turn it into a square…

By Nicole Watt for Pals Paper Arts (PPA249); Petite Pairs, Label Card Thinlit, Artisan Embellishment Kit, Something Borrowed DSP; For more details, click through to my blog! @PMRetreat #stampinup #sympathy

Maven’s Mastery Tips

Resize your Flip Card: How did I make this card a square? When I used the die, I inserted the paper so the left side of the cardstock stuck out ON TOP of the die. That way, it wouldn’t get cut. Then, once the card was cut, I folded it to figure out how much extra I needed to add to the end to make the card square. A simple cut, and I was 5 3/4 x 5 3/4!

Flip the Flip: Ever thought about putting the frame at the bottom? True to today’s sketch, I did! How? after you cut the card with the die, just turn it over and fold at the score lines appropriately!

Add a Mat: How did I get such a perfect mat? I pre-cut a sheet of DSP and adhered it to the cardstock base BEFORE cutting with the die. That way, once cut, everything was perfectly in place! After cutting, you may need to add more adhesive (I use the Tombow Multi Adhesive) behind the frame element.

Avoid those annoying cuts: Do you get those tiny cuts or impressions from your bottom cutting plate? Put a piece of wax paper, or typing/printer paper underneath your cardstock or DSP to reduce the number of cuts that show through.

pmr_swatch_divider Get ’em before they’re gone! The Stampin’ Up! Retirement Party is in full swing! I used a lot of retiring products on today’s card – use the listing below to add them to your card and place an order today! Who knows, they might be GONE by tomorrow!

Please note that Petite Pairs is NOT retiring like we previously thought – so put ’em back on the shelf – we have them for another year!

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CASE This – Butterfly Thinlits

Welcome to the weekend! If you’re anything like me, there’s times where creativity is hard to come by. That’s when I turn to the Internet, and usually, Pinterest! Today, I’m sharing a project that I CASE’d. I loved the basic concept, but I made it my own.

Here’s the Pin:

Here’s my CASE:

By Nicole Watt; Butterfly Thinlits, Petite Pairs. Butterfly Thinlits are back in stock! Click through for details! @PMRetreat #stampinup #sympathy

Maven’s Mastery Tips

Modify your CASE: Sometimes you just want to copy a card exactly, but most times, I find that I’m just looking for ideas. A good layout, an interesting way to use a product, a great color combo… In this case, I liked the way the butterfly was used, and the unique detail at the bottom. From there, I made changes…

Double your Ribbon: Our new Jute Ribbon is a luscious 1 1/4″ wide. Here, I cut it down the middle to make a thinner statement, I used one of the individual threads to tie on the Something Borrowed embellishment.

Just Add Vellum: A bit of vellum with the sentiment is just perfect for a delicate touch. I use my heat gun on the low setting to help the ink dry.


They’re BACK! Are you in love with our Butterfly Framelits? They’re back in stock, so you can get them at 15% off when you bundle them with the Butterfly Basics Stamp Set! They’ll only be available in our Occasions Catalog for a little while longer, so get ’em before they fly away!

Remember, you can take advantage of two special offers through April 30:

  1. Get the Butterflies Thinlits at a 15 percent discount–just $21.20!
  2. Buy any of the Butterflies Thinlits Bundles at a 15 percent discount and choose one of three FREE Sale-A-Bration items (only available while supplies last)!
  • Best Year Ever Designer Series Paper (item 138633)
  • Best Year Ever Accessory Pack (item 138634)
  • Irresistibly Yours Specialty Designer Series Paper (item 138635)

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