Sunday, June 28, 2009

Weekend update

Great American Scrapbook Convention — Chantilly, VA — card collection is going great from what we're hearing. Check out the articles in the Examiner here and here!

SummerHaven has begun! Go look at the fantastic challenges — and play along! Event continues online for 2 weeks, but you'll want to play every day.

National Cardsigning is in full swing! Check here for a Swarovski location near you and take your friends and family with you to write a short thank you note to a deployed hero. Help us make the goal of 30,000 letters!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mailroom Monday party: over 150,000 cards!

Our 150,000th card went out last week!!! Thank you cardmakers, thank you donors, thank you heroes!!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Way to go—challenge update!

25+2 Challenge:

625 AnyHero cards and letters
5681 cards for heroes to write home on!!!
This challenge continues all summer long...our target for cards to write home on this summer is 18,000...will we make it?


Hero Arts Challenge:

664 cards
These are all due to our shippers by June 30th; use the packing slip on their website if you want to join in this one (they have amazing prizes!).

How is everyone doing on other personal challenges? For those who took on Lisa's Blogger challenge—a card for each comment on your blog during the hop—how are you faring? Check in on the Discussion board and let's cheer each other onward!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cardsignings across the USA!!


Swarovski Crystals is partnering with CFH for the next couple weeks to get 30,000 cards signed! They're gorgeous cards with a little crystal bling added to them . . . and about 150 cards are at each of their store locations til July 4th to be signed by customers. (Some of the stores have a sweet deal offering a free tshirt with purchase, check and see if yours does!) The signing is free—so please take your friends and family with you. Email them about it too! Click on the image above or --- here ---to search for a store location near you!

Fellow bloggers, please feel free to post on your blogs too—let's get the word out to lots of folks! Post a link to the boutique locator, so your readers can find a store near them.

EDITED TO ADD: Here's a direct link to the jpg above if you'd rather use that.
http://cardsforheroes.org/storage/post-images/swarovski.jpg

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bits and pieces

Some random things for you today!

First, we're starting up our Featured Cardmaker Blog again...we took a hiatus while we prepped for, managed, and recovered from the bloghop, but hopefully are back on track for a weekly-ish feature. This week we've added Karen from Dearborn, go check her out here!


We also added a few pictures to the Kids gallery....one pair is this sweet set of AnyHero cards colored and signed by little Abby, how sweet are they! We also get lots of drawings from kids, pictures printed out and colored, and lots of schools and scouts have used this pdf to print out pages for the kids to color!

The other thing we've added is a picture of Colin — Jennifer McGuire's little guy! This is what she posted on the Hero Club Blog in case you missed it:
I have another little something I would like to share. Remember me saying we did a card drive for Cards for Heroes back in September? Well, I received an amazing gift from one of the heroes who received a bunch of our cards. Back in September, I told you about Capt William McGray (the husband of the fabulous crafter, Kimber McGray). He is the Commander of the 38th MP Company out of Danville, IN, and returned in February from a 12-month deployment in Iraq. (To see some wonderful photos of his homecoming, click HERE.) We sent William a huge load of cards for his troops, and he brought home this for us as a thank you…

Apparently little Colin is insanely proud of HIS flag! :)

Coming soon....a count so far on the 25+2 and Hero Arts challenges (click here to check them out!); we added a TX and RI event to our calendar (let us know if you're having one!) ... and we're also working on a new Cardmaking Tips Blog post or two — if you have ideas to share or questions you want us to answer, let us know!

Featured Cardmaker: Karen McA, Dearborn MI

We've taken a little break from our features, but they're back! This time meet Karen—who just had one of her cards printed in Cardmaker Magazine! Check out the butterfly card by clicking--> here <--and scrolling down! You can click on any image here to see it larger, and visit the card gallery to see a few more of hers too.






About Karen:
I live in Dearborn, Michigan with my husband. A couple days a week I am an accountant. The rest of the time I am a crafter sewer quilter gardener. I have been an avid crafter since I was a child. I did a lot of decoupage, paper toll, and candle making. Then I added embroidery and sewing as a teen. I picked up crochet and have enjoyed it for years now. Garment sewing is another of my favorite activities. I love quilting too, although I only do small pieces now. And, I spend lots of quality time in my garden communing with nature.

How long have you been making cards?
I began making cards on the computer about ten years ago. I found that the computer cards were nicer than purchased cards and it saved me a trip to the store. My friends and family seemed to like the cards too. I started making a few “handmade” cards in 2005/2006, but I really got into “handmade” cards when my best friend moved out of the state to South Carolina in 2008. Missing her translated into making cards for her. I think she received about one card a week, but she found the cards uplifting which helped her through a rough time too. That is what started the ball rolling. Now it’s: “Any excuse to make a card”. My “sewing” room is slowly morphing into a “card making” room.

How long have you been making them for our heroes?
I have been making cards for our heroes for about a year. I read about CFH in “Cardmaker” magazine and was hooked.

What’s your favorite kind of card to make?
I usually make cards person specific for my family and friends. For instance, my mother likes bunnies. Butterflies seem to appear a lot. I like making miss you/love you cards for CFH.

Do you have a special technique you love to use?
I like to combine decorative paper and stamps. My background in quilting helps me to combine lots of different colors and patterns. I also like the results from using a larger stamp with kaleidoscope inks. And, lately I have been stamping motifs that I cut out and adhere with dimensional sticky squares. Water coloring is beautiful way of adding color to stamps and I use this technique frequently.

The birthday card above is Karen's AnyHero birthday card—signed for a hero by she and her hubby!



Are there colors, style, or product that draw you?
One of my favorite styles is a collagey busy kind of thing. I like to use decoupage motifs with stamps and decorative paper. I also like lots of dimension in my cards. Large, beautiful art stamps draw me in. I look at all my stamps as little pieces of art.

What motivates you to make cards for heroes?

I have always been a supporter of veteran’s causes. CFH is a way for me to show our military people that they are appreciated and how grateful I am for their service. I have really enjoyed making cards for heroes and sharing a little of myself with other people. I hope that those who receive the cards can feel the good wishes that I build into each card.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Stamphaven!

A number of our cardmakers know about Stamphaven...do you?

StampHaven is a message board and gallery that supports CFH - we even have our own discussion section there! The site isn't associated with any manufacturer or retailer, so stamps/cards/discussions including any companies can be had. (Note: it's not to be a place for companies to come advertise - but a place for stampers to share! Be sure to read the TOU.)

Stamphaven's going to host a two-week-long stamping event called SummerHaven.... including challenges and classes hosted by members of the site! It should be lots of fun and filled with inspiration.

CFH is hosting a challenge during the event - Christmas in July! Cards eligible will be posted in the gallery there between June 27 and July 12, winner will be chosen July 12th...and if you get the cards mailed to a CFH shipper by the 12th, you'll get a double entry!

To participate you'll need to sign up (free)...and if you want to host a challenge yourself, join up and become an active member right away. The more the merrier!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

AnyHero - one specific hero

We've received this request a bunch of times over the last month or two for birthday cards for this hero, and just received confirmation that cards are still needed for him; the organization Thank a Soldier blogged about him so we know the info is still good, even if it's past his birthday! Go to their blog to read the full article.


Sgt Daniel Thornhill, wounded in Afghanistan 2 years ago by a suicide bomb, lost both legs, is paralyzed from the waist down and has severe burns. He rehabs at Fisher House in Ft Sam Houston, Texas. Send him a note to Thank him and wish him well.

Sgt Daniel Thornhill
Ft Sam Houston
Fisher House
3623 George C. Beach Rd
Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234


From an article about him:


SAN ANTONIO -- A suicide bomber nearly killed Sgt. Daniel Thornhill in Afghanistan a year ago. His body may be broken but his spirit this Memorial Day is not. He says he's proud to be an American now more than ever.

The bomber took his legs, paralyzed him from the waist down, and severely burned his arms and hands -- but he did not take Sgt. Thornhill's will to live.

Sgt. Thornhill says, “They can possibly take my life but they can't take what I stand for or what I believe in... and that's one thing that hasn't faltered or hasn't wavered.”

Since he's been home, he’s received dozens of letters and cards of support from well-wishers all over the nation. He says that, along with supportive family members, helped him get through some of the darkest days of his life.

“I wouldn't wish what's happened on my worst enemy but it was given to me for a reason and once I figure out that reason, I will make sure I let everyone know,” Sgt. Thornhill vows.

Post a comment here if you send him a card - post it on your blog with a link to this post so others will do it too! Leave a link to your card here so we can all see too; let's see how many we can get from CFH peeps!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Post-Bloghop Report

We know everyone's interested in the impact that the bloghop had on CFH....it's hard to quantify in many cases, since we get packages in the mail that don't tell us if they heard about us from the hop or from another source. But here's a collection of a few of the highlights we know about so far....

Hit count: Our site hits went WAY up that weekend of course! Typically our visitor count was pretty low, but this little chart shows you just how much excitement we had here on Memorial day weekend. Note that YOU can help us raise our profile by blogging about CFH and linking to our homepage, sending emails to your friends and family—as well as the companies you buy your supplies from! The more attention the site gets, the more cards our heroes get!

155 blogs posted about CFH! Comment counts on each ranged from 50-200+!!! Thank you bloggers and hoppers—we know just how much fun everyone had leaving comments and receiving the love. We also heard from a few of our non-crafting folks who visited: "Your people are SO NICE! Not one mean political comment, what's up with these folks?" See, being nice is NOTICED! :)

LOTS of companies and major bloggers got on board! From Hero Arts (who is running a huge challenge right now, have you seen the prize list??) to Cathy Zielske, Jennifer McGuire, Rusty Pickle, Simon Says, Ali Edwards....the list goes ON! (we better stop now or we'll surely forget someone!?!) Feel free to leave comments on YOUR favorite bloggers' posts to either thank them for what they did for our heroes—or to invite them to see what we're all doing!

325 people opted in for our new email list (click here if you haven't signed up yet—even if you've gotten CFH emails, we need you to re-up to get into the new email database, thanks!)

Crazy numbers of happy emails! So many we lost count. Tons of people who had never heard of us and couldn't wait to participate; people moved to ears by the blog posts;

Many military people hopped too! A lot of them can't leave comments (combo of time factor and unable to share their email because of OPSEC — Operational Security). But they visited and were touched by the patriotism and support shown by everyone!

Cards from "known" new folks from the bloghop so far: 313 cards and it could be more! We added 111 people to our database that weekend from emails they wrote, and we know there are lots of folks out there who will be mailing cards in. (We note "bloghop" when we have a first-timer we either know we didn't "see" til the hop or if they mention the event in their note). If you're a new cardmaker, feel free to write on the packing slip that you came from the hop - we'd love to know how many people are learning about us because of it!

25+2 challenge — so far: 517 AnyHero letters, and 4663 cards! (That's in addition to those not doing the challenge combo!)

These next charts aren't nearly as 'pretty' as the ones we get from the website software, but they are kind of interesting anyway. Note that June numbers look low but they'll be rising as people finish the cards they committed to last month and as our shippers pack up and ship the cards piling up on their dining room tables!




This chart on the left shows the ups and downs of cards coming in and going out - and you can see how many come in for Christmastime! So now you know why we are happy to get your Christmas cards at other times of year, too—since we stamp the backs of each card with the url, we have a little more spare time in the window outside of September through November :) We're busy sorters during that season!



This chart on the right shows the flow of our expenses (shipping & administrative) along with donations. Generally we've kept up with our costs on average, and are working on saving up the IRS fee we'll be paying to file for our official status very soon. THANK YOU ALL for your amazing generosity that keeps us going!!

As we find more info to share about how many cards are generated because of the hop, we'll report back — the end of the summer will probably be the best time for assessment of the hop's success, because by then those who were inspired in May will have had time to make and mail in their cards!

Tutorial 3: Custom embellishing, coloring tips

**Many of you may have seen Karen's tutorial during the Bloghop, but since not everyone had the chance, we're re-sharing, along with some more commentary from Karen! Her original post is here.**

Karen's stamping/coloring tips:
  • Give the original stamped image a bit of time to dry. Sometimes the black outline will bleed and, for me, one major reason is I rush into coloring instead of giving the original stamp a chance to dry completely.
  • Most of the time, I use watercolor paper when I color, however, other card stock will work, just give it time to dry completely.
  • I use Prismacolor Markers and really am new to coloring. So, my tips there are limited but the few things I have learned for basic coloring is keep a "wet edge" and you will achieve a more smooth, consistent level of color. To do this, color in small circles and work out from a small area. Don't color all the way down a length of an image as this can cause kind of "rows" of color. I fill in a complete area and then take the same marker and color again anywhere there is a line from the stamped image. This second layer of color adds depth and shading.
  • My biggest tip is have fun and just experiment! I will often take scrap card stock and stamp an image and color with no intent of it ever seeing the front of a card. I do this just to experiment with the markers and see what works and what does not.

Custom brads:
I wanted to have a red, white and blue brad but only had some of those ordinary gold office supply on hand. So I first painted the tops of three gold brads with white acrylic paint. Once those were dry, I coated one in red pigment ink and then dipped into clear embossing powder. I repeated this process two/three times until the "intensity" of the red was what I wanted. I did the same with another of the brads except used blue pigment ink.

Custom acrylic embellishments:
I also wanted an acrylic star for behind the brads. Those can be costly so I just purchase transparency sheets (like they use on overhead projectors) and punch them out. I {{love}} doing this because designs are limitless with all the punches there are. I even will occasionally run it through my Cricut for more options of lettering and shapes.

And without futher ado, Karen's video!




Thanks Karen for sharing how you made this adorable card!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Card deadlines 2009

 We've posted our deadlines on the homepage for easy access, but here they are for you as well if you're getting our Homefront Blog via RSS feed! If you're planning cardmaking parties later this year, these deadlines may help you decide what kind of cards to make—and remember, general cards (birthday, thinking of you, hello, love, miss you) are good any time of year!

Back to school: Aug 1
Halloween: Sept 20
Thanksgiving: Oct 5
Christmas: Nov 1
All other cards: anytime!

Note these are postmark dates these dates allow the Post Office some time to get the cards to our shippers, and our shippers time to get them processed and packed up. (We've had some people Express Mail packages at the end—please email the shipper to see if that's necessary before paying all that extra money!)

If you're wondering why our deadlines are so far ahead of holidays: typical mail times are about 2 weeks. And then we allow a week to distribute/write cards and 2 weeks to mail back home. Shipping times vary depending on location (some remote places in Afghanistan can be 8 weeks!) so if you send your cards in nice and early for a holiday, it allows us to get cards out to those remote places in plenty of time!

Monday, June 1, 2009

CFH Email List

We're assembling a "fresh" email list, so anyone who wants to receive our emails (about every 6+ weeks or so) needs to fill out the short form here. We still maintain our old database with everyone in it, but will only send a 'global' email like that once or twice a year with major news. So even if you've already been receiving our emails, you may well wish to be on our more regular list:



Some people have had trouble with the form; please note that the box to the LEFT of the "country" is the ZIP CODE box; city and state go above that. If you still can't get it to work, email info@cardsforheroes.org and we'll try to help!