Monthly Archives: October 2010


No black eyes necessary!

Punches are small devices that quickly cut shapes from paper. Punches are a great investment, as you can reuse them as long as they last. With care, they should last years.

Here are some of our Spark a Smile favorites. Upper left: Fiskars brand Squeeze punch. Upper right and lower right: EK Success brand. Lower right: Martha Stewart Crafts brand.

Here’s a quick demonstration of how to use the Martha Stewarts Crafts style punch. Place your paper in between the slot, squeeze, and your punch falls out! I didn’t demonstrate this here, but I usually flip the punch upside down so I can see what I’m punching out.

The Fiskars brand punches are a bit different. Instead of pushing a button, you squeeze the handles together to cut the shape. The benefit is that you can easily see exactly what you’re punching.

You’re welcome to try any of these punches at our next Spark a Smile party: Wednesday, November 10th, from 5-7 PM at Yang and Horsley Dentistry. 


There are many different ways to stick paper and embellishments to your cards.
At Spark a Smile, we most often use tape runners (far left – works like a White-Out runner, good for paper and light embellishments like buttons, ribbons, or rhinestones) and glue sticks (far right – good for paper).

But if you’re crafting on your own, you can use liquid glue (center – good for paper and embellishments, but takes time to dry), Glue Dots (not pictured – single sticky dots, mostly for heavier embellishments), or double-sided tape.

If you’re more comfortable with a different style of adhesive, please share your thoughts in the comments!

Organize your Scraps: Page Protector Style

There are several different ways to store your scraps, but this is my method.
I make cards away from home quite often, so I needed a space-saving way to store my scraps. Big sheets of paper (12×12 or 8.5×11) sheets get stored at home in hanging vertical file folders. This is my travel kit of scraps. I cut page protectors in half, and designated one for each color family (Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Green, Purple, Browns, Black/White) and I store them in a Rubbermaid box that I found at Walmart for $1.88! Teeny pieces go into snack-sized zip top bags in each page protector. 

How do you store your scraps? Please share your method in the comments!

An Interview with the Casa Grande Alliance

Today we’re proud to feature a local non-profit organization called the Casa Grande Alliance. Their office is located right next door to ours! We were honored when they invited us to share Spark a Smile with local community leaders, and thanks to their interest, we were able to share SAS with many more people. Thank you, CGA!

Here’s a bit more information about the CG Alliance, in an interview with their director, Mrs. Cindy Schaider.

What’s the CG Alliance all about?  

The mission of the CG Alliance is to create partnerships and work together to reduce substance abuse and violence among youth and adults.  In short: partnering for a safe and drug-free community.  Using best practices and research-based strategies, we work to make the environments where children and families live, play and work become both drug free and resilient to negative influences. We also believe strongly in the value of collaboration across communities, so we support the growth and development of other prevention projects and coalitions.  The role of our staff is to facilitate collaboration; provide community, youth and employer education on substance abuse and recovery; and serve as a resource and information center for anyone looking for treatment.  While we do not provide counseling, we can help those seeking recovery, and their families, navigate the sometimes complex treatment systems of care.

How long has the Alliance been in Casa Grande?

We started in 1989, and became ‘turbo charged’ in 2003 when we received a 10-year grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Drug Free Communities Support program.

Wow! That’s a great legacy you’ve created. What types of people do you interact with most (kids, teens, parents)?

We serve all community members.

Tell us about some of the Alliance’s most significant accomplishments. 

In 2006, methamphetamine use by 8th graders in Casa Grande was 6.8%, 325% higher than the state average for that age group.  Through community education to both youth and adults, as well as other community strategies like reducing access to the precursor chemicals needed to make meth, we have reduced meth use to zero percent among all teens. Underage drinking has also greatly reduced over the past ten years, and the culture of underage drinking has changed; there are fewer incidences of teen drunk driving and drunken desert parties with underage kids. 

What an amazing thing you’ve done for our community. Is there any way Spark a Smile can help the Alliance keep up their great efforts?  

We like to recognize our members who are featured in the newspaper, whether just tagged in a photo or who are featured in an article.  We would love to have Spark a Smile cards to send to these folks – we enclose a copy of the article or picture with a card that says congratulations.

You can find the Alliance online at:
Thank you so much for your time, Mrs. Schaider, and for all the great things that the CGA is doing to improve our community! 

Birthday Party Followup

We celebrated Spark a Smile’s first birthday with a card-making party on October 13, 2010. Here are a few highlights!

Miss Marlene made yummy carrot cake cupcakes with cute cupcake toppers (personalized a bit, but original design courtesy of the fun Write.Click.Scrapbook blog).

Miss Marlene also brought these adorable mini water bottles!! So tiny and cute.

We had our biggest turnout, ever! Thank you for coming to support Spark a Smile!! 
Monica brought some co-workers from Hospice Compassus, and they created greeting cards for their hospice caregivers in honor of National Hospice Month.  


My aunt and grandma (the face of Spark a Smile!) joined us.
Monica’s sweet little girl stopped by early to create a few cards! She LOVES making cards!!

Hope you’ll join us for all the fun either next Tuesday, October 19th from 5-7 PM (we’ll be creating matchbook mints for the American Cancer Society!), or Wednesday, November 10th, from 5-7 PM.

3 Easy Steps to Good Design

Here are three design tips that will help you create eye-catching cards!
1. Common Margins
    Margins are the space in between different items on your card. In the following example, see how there’s the same amount of space between each of the pieces of green and blue paper? That little boundary space helps tie everything together, even though the pieces aren’t touching.

2. Repetition
    Your brain naturally likes to find patterns, so using repeating elements can help create a visual balance. What can you repeat? Anything! Use blue in one area? Use it again in another. Use one heart? Use three or four more!

3. Contrast
    Remember that game called “Opposites”? The key to creating contrast is to use opposites. Pair big things with small things. Pair dark things with light things. Use a black marker on a pastel background to make the greeting stand out as much as possible.

Any questions? Post them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer!

(These very basic design tips are based on information learned in Cathy Zielske’s Design Your Life class at Big Picture Classes, and Before and After’s How to Design Cool Stuff.)

Spark a Smile: On the Road

Please mark your calendar! Spark a Smile’s going on the road!
Join us at Cartridge World on Friday, November 12th, from 5-8 PM! We’ll be crafting cards for the community.
Come enjoy free games, crafts, fun, food, and prizes! 

Inspirational Blogs

I LOVE to read blogs for a bit of free inspiration. Here’s a small part of my regular blog-reading list to inspire you!

Jennifer McGuire 
Mrs. McGuire really inspired the creation of Spark a Smile with her nationwide card drive called Cards for Kids

Papertrey Ink
This is a stamp/paper/ribbon/button manufacturing company that always has really cute card demonstrations

A Print a Day (APAD)
Cute daily freebies that you can print and use for cards or other paper projects

The Cuttlebug Spot
Advanced information on Spark a Smile’s most  “high-tech” gadget

The following ladies are primarily scrapbookers, but all are quite inspiring with both their design styles and philosophies on living a smile-filled life!
Ali Edwards
Stacy Julian
Angie Lucas
Becky Higgins
Cathy Zielske
Beth Proudfoot 
Wendy Smedley
Kelly Purkey
Susan Weinroth
Stephanie Howell
Elizabeth Dillow

What reminds you most of birthdays?

What reminds you most of Birthdays?
Cards? Cupcakes? Party Hats? Parents (creators of Birthdays)? Presents? Or maybe… parties?

Join us tonight for Spark a Smile’s first birthday party! 5-7 PM, at Yang and Horsley Dentistry on 325 E. Cottonwood Lane. We’ll have cards and cupcakes! Come celebrate with us!

Trash to Treasure: Saved from the Scrap Bin

Over the last year, we’ve recycled many items. Here are just some of the jewels that came from “junk”!
Marlene made several cards from ONE pink floral recycled card donated by Miss Verna H.

I used the Cuttlebug machine to cut the orange flower on this card from a piece of junk mail.

You know those fancy envelopes that have silver or gold foil lining inside of the flap? Marlene cut these letters by hand from the metallic pieces!

These apples are scraps of contact paper from when my mom relined her cabinet shelves. Yeah, you can pretty much use anything to make a card!

Vivian K LOVES to use scraps. She finds it challenging to create something from an item someone’s tossed away. She made this flower from trashed circle shapes.

This silk flower was on its way to the dumpster when I saved it, and Vivian K put it to good use! Much prettier here than in a landfill somewhere!

And finally, here are the snack-sized cards we made for the Seeds of Hope hot lunch program in August. With a little ingenuity and tricky trimming, we made 49 happy little cards!

(Disclaimer: If you ever become interested in making the transition from card-making to scrapbooking or paper crafts that need to last years down the road, I would recommend you research (google, wikipedia) the importance of “acid-free” items. While using random items is great for card-making, the longevity of scrapbooks can be compromised.)