Butcher print painted sign

I do not usually get in to the painted sign projects, but I needed a bit of kitchen decor and thought I would make one.
You may be asking…. “Well, why doesn’t she paint signs?”

Well, I know I can do it and my hubby has a shop full of woodworking tools. But, honestly, it takes too long for me…. I like to slap a vinyl decal on something & call it good. That is what works for me.

I found the images I wanted to try and at the time I downloaded them, they were FREE printables. The freebie has expired but you can still find the printable for sale here at The Mountain View Cottage’s blog.
I do want to note that these files are for personal use only and using them to sell items you make is illegal. The designer has provided the free printable files for personal use only and I ask that you keep that in mind when using. You can find out more information on Personal Use vs Commercial Use licenses on Cutting For Business‘ blog, which is a great resource.

Now on to how I did it.
First, I pulled the printable file in to the Silhouette Studio program. It was a PDF file and in order to open that file type you need to have the Designer Edition Upgrade or higher of the Studio program. When I opened the PDF, I chose the option to import “As an image”.

Next, was to trace my images. Since these were black printable files, they traced really nicely. I am using Silhouette Studio v4.1.201 and chose the Trace Panel on the right side of the Studio.

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Then you choose “Select Trace Area” and draw a rectangle around your object. Your object will then turn yellow and you want it to be as solid yellow where ever you want it to trace.  For some objects, you may need to play with the settings in the Trace Panel to get the highest level possible for a good trace. I then clicked on the Trace option at the bottom of the Trace Panel.

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There are 3 Trace options at the bottom and the one I use the most is the top trace button that has the inner & outer butterfly shape. It will trace around the areas that have yellow on them, inside and outside of the object.

Once I had all of my objects traced, I then click on them to Select and use the Fill Color Panel to fill them all with color. This helps to visualize your design and makes it easier to move them around the software. I then measured my board and decided how big I wanted to make the design.


I decide to give it a go cutting my vinyl without a mat. This is one of the perks of using a Silhouette machine, you do not have to use a mat if you are cutting a material that has a backing attached, such as adhesive vinyl or HTV.
One thing to note when you are cutting without a mat is that you cannot cut as wide as you can with a mat. If you look at my photo above you can make out my red cut border around the edge of the white area, this is the software telling me it will not cut outside of that range.
If you have a piece of 12″ vinyl, then it will take about 1/2″ of cutting area off of each side. You will also notice that it starts the cutting area on the edge of the vinyl on the left where the arrow is, this means it will start cutting almost immediately on your vinyl if that is where your image is. This differs from using a mat because the machine has to account for the edges around the grid area on the mat.
So it makes a big difference if you tell the software you are cutting with or without a mat. You will also notice the Cut border on the right side of the design ends about an inch before my page size ends. This is the software telling me that it will stop cutting before it reaches the end of my material because the machine needs the space to grip the material & keep it in the machine.

Now, I will tell you that I highly recommend using a mat when you can for several reasons. The mat provides support for your material and gives it a solid surface to use when cutting. It also helps to hold your vinyl in place and there is less of a chance that it will move around and ruin your cut. However, the Silhouette does give you the ability to cut without a mat and it is a great feature, especially if you are cutting a lot of decals at once or one long decal. This ability to cut up to 10′ long sets it apart from other cutting machines.

On my Cameo 3, I needed to move my right roller in to the left just a bit to grip the vinyl. To do this, you unlock your roller and move it and then make sure to lock it back in place. The lock on the roller is very hard to see and is right next to the white roller, you twist to lock it back in. If you do not, then your vinyl will slide all over the place.
You then line your vinyl up with the blue line & arrows on the left side and press load.
After it cut, I then weeded out the parts of my design that would be my stencil and applied transfer paper.


I painted my board with Black Chalkboard paint from my stash and let it dry a full 24 hours…. again, this is why I say I don’t paint boards often….. time involved.. watching paint dry.
While it dried, I gathered my supplies and worked on other projects.


I then applied my stencil using the hinged method, so I could get it as straight as I possibly could and not have it shift during application since it was so large.


After I applied my stencil, it occurred to me that using black vinyl as a stencil on a black board was probably not the best idea. But, you go with it at this point.
I then added a border of painters tape around the edges of my vinyl and board, so I would not accidentally paint an area I didn’t want to.


I then sponged on my DecoArt Chalky Finish white paint. And let it dry for a couple hours. I had read a lot of posts that said to peel your stencil off while it was still wet, so I just kept coming back to check on it. You don’t want to do it while it’s too wet or it will smear and if you wait too long, then the vinyl could peel up more paint than you want.


Now, after removing my big piece of stencil, came the task of weeding out all the little pieces inside of each animal……


After I finished weeding out the inner pieces of vinyl, I let the entire piece dry for a good 48 hours. Once dry, I took a white piece of chalk and turned it sideways and “seasoned” the entire board to make it look more realistic.


And here is my finished kitchen decor board… well, almost finished. It still needs a frame, which will require more time.


The supplies I used for this project are:

Silhouette Studio Designer Edition software
Cameo 3 cutting machine
Oracal vinyl
Transfer paper
a board from my husband’s woodshop
Craftsmart Black chalkboard paint from craft store
DecoArt White Americana Decor Chalky Finish in white from craft store
White Chalk

I am happy with how this sign turned out for my kitchen. The end result was exactly what I wanted, but it was no simple, quick project.

While I know that painting wood signs is not my preferred method…… I still encourage you to try a project out at least once.
I may not paint a new sign every week, but I may have a few more in my future.


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**This post may contain affiliate links. What that means is that I may receive compensation if you purchase through the links I have provided. The price you pay for the product or service is not higher but I may get compensated for sharing.

Sparkly Unicorn

September happens to be my Mom’s birthday month and I wanted to make her a special card.

I found this Unicorn Hug Gift Card holder from the Silhouette Design store that I had acquired at some time and I thought it would be perfect. I had purchased a couple pairs of earrings from Mags Bonham at our TJC Curio Intensive Retreat last weekend and thought I could slip them inside the gift card pocket.


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I created this card using the following supplies:
Unicorn Hug Gift Card Holder by Jennifer Rush from the Silhouette Design Store
CTMH Cardstock – White & Pixie
CTMH Pink Glitter Cardstock – retired (but they have other new colors)
CTMH Dual Action Glue Pen Z553
CTMH Stamp sets: Birthday Sparkles (B1537) and Happy Heart (A1192)
CTMH Bitty Sparkles Z1263
CTMH Archival Black Ink, Bashful Ink, Raspberry Ink, Blossom Ink
CTMH Clear Shimmer Brush Z3293
**All CTMH products can be found on my website HERE

This was a very simple card to cut & put together. You can read more of the instructions on how to put it together on the designer, Jennifer Rush’s blog HERE.

This is definitely a card that I could create again!


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For more information on Terri Johnson Creates (TJC) events, be sure to sign up for notifications from her website HERE.


Happy September!

Whew! What a month, it has been a busy one. Still trying to find that balance between creating crafty projects and getting them up on the blog and then you throw a Curio conference (more on that later) in there… time just gets away….. and I’m back….
I have my monthly card kit ready to order and want to put it up here before something else grabs my attention.

I created this using the Falling for You Paper pack and the Falling for You Cardmaking stamp set.

Falling For You collage

It has gotten cooler here and seems like Fall is upon us, so this was a fun set to put together.

There are 2 options to order this kit – with or without the Thin Cuts:
– $30 includes the stamp set only
– $44 includes the Stamp set & Thin Cut bundle
**Thin cuts can only be purchased in the bundle & not sold alone.


Please let me know by September 20th if you would like to order this kit.
Card Club members will receive their kits automatically, no need to order again. Please let me know if you would like more information on becoming a Card Club Member!!!

When you receive my monthly card kit, you get:
– Instructions to create 4 different card designs featuring Close to My Heart product
– Supplies to create 1 each of the 4 designs
– Supply list to re-create each design
– Stamp set (and thin cuts by choice) used to create monthly kit
– Flat rate priority shipping
Invoices will be sent to your email from
*CTMH consultants are welcome to purchase the monthly card kit instructions as well. Cost is $10.00 and a digital copy of the instructions will be emailed to you, no physical product will be sent.

I hope you have a chance to get crafty sometime this weekend.

Please let me know by September 20th if you would like to order a card kit!


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Love this No Worries paper

Just popping in to show you a card I created using several of the current products.

I am in love with this No Worries paper and feel a bit like hoarding it since it retires at the end of August. Who else is hoarding it?

It always seems like the beach/vacation paper packs are the most popular.


To create this card I used:
CTMH No Worries Paper Pack
CTMH No Worries Cardmaking Thin Cuts
CTMH Shells & Stars stamp set
CTMH Thank You stamp set
CTMH Burlap Ribbon
CTMH Archival Black ink
CTMH Desert Sand card stock
CTMH Desert Sand ink
CTMH Colonial White card base & envelope

No Worries card collage

The No Worries paper pack & card making stamp set & thin cuts bundle both expire on August 31st, so grab it them now for all your beach photos!


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Silhouette vs Cricut

That is the question and here is my answer…..

I see and hear this asked all the time and it’s been on my to do list to give you my recommendation.

Now please realize that this post is all my own opinion, no one has paid me to do it and I don’t get anything as reimbursement for this post. I am speaking only as a cutting machine user for many years. There are many, many posts out there comparing the two machines and you can read until your eyes cross, but only you can make the choice on which one is for you. I have many friends who are Cricut users and I have many other friends who are die-hard Silhouette users, like me.

Did you catch those few little words…. I have many friends who are from both sides. No matter what machine you use, you can still be friends. I promise!

Some people have a better time with a certain machine than others. All I can tell you is from my own experience.

So a bit of background on me, the owner behind Silhouette Secrets+. I purchased my very first machine many, many moons ago. It was the original Cricut machine, or commonly called the baby Cricut. It can cut 6″x 12″ and was perfect for a new beginner scrapbooker as myself. I thought it was great that I wouldn’t have to purchase letter stickers anymore for my layouts. I actually used this machine so much that I burned it up… literally, it started smoking & shorted out – it had a good life though & was well used. I then purchased a Cricut Create machine and had also purchased the Design Studio (the original Design Studio – an offline, on your computer software program), which I became very proficient at using and could do a lot in…. however, I felt the software was very limited and was frustrated that it just wouldn’t do as I wanted. I still kept on with it, because I am just that way. If I needed a bigger machine, I would borrow a friends and just kept plugging away with my cartridges.

The friend I borrowed the Expression from had once told me that I should really check out this new machine called a Silhouette and she could see me doing great things with it. I looked it up & at that time just couldn’t afford spending that much on my hobby as a Stay at Home mom. (ever wish you could go back and choose another path – I would have bought a Silhouette machine sooner – lol and she wouldn’t be able to tell me I told you so)

Now fast-forward a few years, we’ve moved to California, I’ve purchased my own Cricut Expression and I win a Silhouette Portrait in a digital scrapbooking contest. Let me tell you, I was over the moon. I fell in love at first use. And I immediately told my husband that this small Portrait wasn’t enough, I needed the bigger Cameo machine. And I did, I turned around and bought it, it was a must have.

That was 5 years ago. There was hardly a bit of information out there on how to use it, how to do this or that in the program. If it was out there, I found it & studied it. I played, I learned, I created…. I played more, I learned more and I created more….. I still love it.

Now, there is lots & lots of information on how to use your machine & how to make projects with your machine… Sometimes I feel there is too much, but that’s a post for another day.

Now we’ve moved to Virginia and I’ve had the opportunity to add several things to my resume. I’ve been able to attend a hands on retreat with Terri Johnson & was able to attend to the first ever TJC Licensing event. I felt that since I was now teaching people how to use their machines, as a Terri Johnson Licensed Instructor, that I should also be able to speak a bit on the other machine out there…. so I purchased a Cricut Air. And let me tell you, for months I regretted it…. actually being honest… I still do. It was money I could have spent on supplies to create with….. but, I’m here to tell you why I think that.

So here are my Pros and Cons on the Cricut Explore Air.



  • the Bluetooth connected quickly, very quickly – I learned the hard way that my computer was not equipped with a Bluetooth, so I did have to purchase a Dongle to get it to connect.
  • it is much quieter when it’s cutting
  • the purchased cut file I used worked beautifully
  • Close to My Heart has Exclusive Cricut cartridges and they are AMAZING! Over 700 images on one cartridge. Now that is a great value!!!


  • the cut file I used was 12 pages and it had no color designations by paper, so I had to eyeball it and get my papers in order to cut them
  • the software to design & create your own designs is more difficult, it’s not just like other basic programs that you can use shortcuts and copy & paste, etc.
  • it is only accessible online – did you get that? You have to have a high speed internet connection at all times to use the program. That means if you are at a retreat & the wifi is slow…. you won’t be able to use your Cricut machine. Hope you packed other stuff 🙂
  • It will use up your data – something to keep in mind if you are limited to a certain amount of data each month, especially with the latest release of the DS3 software, it uses even more data than before
  • they are doing away with physical cartridges, so you will have to access everything online through their software
  • you can only save your designs to the Cricut program and if they are lost, they could be gone forever
  • the Cricut freebies are only good for a limited time, then you have to purchase the file to use it – many don’t realize this until they try to cut something a week after it was a freebie
  • I found it odd that after you’ve loaded the paper & clicked Go in the software, you then have to push Go on the machine itself…. I mean, really what is the point of the Bluetooth connection if you have to be within arms reach to get the machine to start cutting by pushing the button?

and now the Pros and Cons to the Silhouette machines:



  • I can save my designs where ever I want them – my external hard drive is my safe place… but the point is… it’s my design, I can save it outside of the program – always remember to back up your files to an outside source as well
  • there is a weekly freebie from the Silhouette store & I get to keep it in my Silhouette library forever, it’s FREE and it’s mine – they don’t take it away or make me pay for it – once I’ve downloaded it, it’s mine
  • the software is very much like other software programs – Ctrl + C is copy & Ctrl +v is paste, hold down the Alt button and move an image and it copies it…. so many of the same software things I’m used to are the same in this program
  • I can create my own designs within the program and they are mine.
  • I can work OFFLINE – this is a BIG one for me. I can work anywhere I want that has electricity. If I plan to not have any internet access, I can plan ahead and download any designs that I might think I want. Or I can just work with what I have in my library, my external hard drive, or anything I can create. I love not being tied to the internet access because we all know that it can be unpredictable.
  • You can upgrade your software to unlock additional features within the program – while some would disagree with me that it’s a pro, this is how I think of it. The Basic software is free to download for anyone. It is designed so you can cut any design within the Silhouette Design store easily. However, if you want to use an outside file such as an .svg file type, you would need to upgrade the software to allow it to open it. Much like an upgrade in a vehicle…. for it to do fancier stuff, you need to pay a fee for that.
  • I only need to be connected to the internet if I want to download a design. I can work completely offline if I’d like to.


  • it is louder than the Cricut – but it’s a machine, it’s moving & working – I’m ok with that
  • the Bluetooth is still unreliable – I just find it’s much more efficient to plug it into my computer. While the idea of the Bluetooth is a nice feature, I can work around that.

So you are probably asking me “Why do you still have the Cricut? If you don’t like it, why keep it?”

Well there are a couple reasons:

  1. I tried to resell it. I couldn’t sell it for anything close to what I had invested in it. I didn’t even have one person interested.
  2. I am a Close to My Heart consultant as well as a TJC Silhouette Instructor – remember me saying you can have friends on both sides – well, I love the fact that CTMH has Cricut cuts that match the stamp sets… I don’t like to fussy cut around images and this is great. Their Cricut exclusive cartridges have over 700 images on them and I use those when I create with my Close to My Heart products and in my monthly card kits. (shhh don’t tell anyone…. I use my Silhouette too)
  3. What is 1 more cutting machine? I’m sure I don’t win the prize but I know you might ask or be curious….. I own…..
    – an original Cricut (in craft heaven), a Cricut Create, an Expression, an Explore Air, a Silhouette Cameo 1, a Silhouette Cameo 3 and just recently (still in the box) a Silhouette Curio. So is 6 cutting machines too many? I guess that is up for each person to decide. Each one does serve a purpose and have some life left in them… I have 3 kids and someday I’ll let them use my older Cricuts when they have a project they need complete themselves.

Now, remember when I said I have Cricut friends and I have Silhouette friends….
well we can all still be crafty friends!!!
Tell me – which one are you? Team Cricut or Team Silhouette?

Whether you are Team Cricut or Team Silhouette, I encourage you to get that machine out and play with it. Create with it, cut with it, make projects with it. Learn one thing and then move on to the next. If you don’t like it, maybe you need to switch sides. You are investing in a machine & it should work for you. Have fun with your machine!!!

Again, please remember this is my own personal views on the machine as an owner & crafter for many years. I am sure that I didn’t mention several pros & cons of the machines & I’m sure that I will think of something as soon as I click on publish. If you think of one, just comment below – I would love to hear your thoughts.

I hope this post helps anyone who is wondering about the differences in the machines. Like I said before, each person is different and will have their reasons why they like a machine. If it works for you & you are using it, that is what matters.

Now, go enjoy your machine!

Get Crafty!

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**Want to find out more on Terri Johnson retreats, Licensing events or find a Licensed Instructor near you, check out her blog HERE!
**Want to find out more on the CTMH Exclusive Cricut Cartridges with over 700 images on them – click HERE!

NEW! New Annual Inspirations

Are you using the CTMH Annual Inspirations to the fullest potential?
Instead of just a catalog it is an Inspiration book as well & features lots of great ideas & artwork.

Each time I look through the book, I see something new & a new idea I want to try. You can view the new catalog HERE and see what great ideas you keep turning back to.

The We Are Makers stamp set on pg 66 of the Annual Inspirations book has been my favorite and I was able to sit down & play with it this past weekend.



We Are Makers D1732 $17.95

Not only do we have a whole new book loaded with fun exciting products, but we also have a new Stamp of the Month. The set this month is called School Year.

With any $50 purchase you can add this stamp set to your order for only $5.


As I look at this beautiful artwork done by CTMH, it reminds me that I should get working on books for my 3 kids with layouts for school like this one.
I switched to digital scrapbooking several years ago due to space, but I still love to work with paper & I could reasonably have 3 scrapbook albums with a double page layout for each school year for my children. It would still allow me to play with paper & create physical layouts and having a single book for each of them is do-able.
Why did I just tell you that? Well, down the road you can ask me how that’s coming and hopefully I will be able to say I’m caught up.

What is your new favorite product from the new Annual Inspirations catalog?

I hope you enjoy looking through it as much as I do!
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Quick gifts

I love being able to whip up a quick gift to send to a friend.

I had a towel in my stash & it seemed to be whispering my name. So I went shopping in the Silhouette Design store to find a cut file I liked.

After a measurement error & my 2nd scrap of black HTV, I ended up with a nice, simple gift I could throw in my care package.

Yes, even seasoned Silhouette users make mistakes. And do you know, often times you learn more from making a mistake than not. At least in my experience, I remember things better the next time when I’ve made a mistake or had to research how to do something. Does that mean I won’t make the same mistake again? No! But I may laugh at myself more the next time!

How do you learn to use the machine? You play, you practice, you research, you create!

I love learning what new technique or new project I can do with my Silhouette Cameo.


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Prickly Pear Blog Hop

Welcome to our Prickly Pear Blog Hop!


We will be showcasing items from our Prickly Pear Paper Pack with various projects created by talented Close to my Heart consultants. If you are visiting from Diana’s blog then you are on the right track, if not please start at the CTMH Blog Challenge and Support Group Blog Hop Guidelines beginning with our hostess Carol.

The Prickly Pear paper pack was so fun to work with. This is such a bright, fun, and versatile kit that you should not feel limited to only using desert & cactus photos or cards. Along with the Prickly Pear papers, I used the Scripty Thank You stamp set that coordinates with the Thin Cuts – Basic Ovals available from Close to My Heart.



Check out these bright colors HERE!
Prickly Pear collage

These cards were part of my monthly card kit for August and you can find out more information HERE.


This is your final stop on this month’s Prickly Pear blog hop. If you did not start at the beginning, please hop to Carol’s blog next and start at the beginning.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing all the fabulous ideas from these talented Close to My Heart consultants!

July is jam packed with specials including Stampganza (Buy 2 stamp sets get the 3rd FREE), Word Puzzle stamp sets, popular retired sets making a comeback & Stamp of the Month set – Storybook Alphabet – Find out all the great specials on this post HERE!

You can find all these amazing products and more on my website HERE!

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August card kit by EllyMae

This months featured paper pack is Prickly Pear and I chose to use it to make Thank You cards. I used the Scripty Thank You stamp from the current Seasonal Expression 2 catalog and it coordinates perfectly with the Thin Cut Basic Ovals set.


When I first saw this paper pack at the release of the Seasonal catalog, I did not know what I would do with it. You see cacti and more cacti and think desert and sand only…. but it has bright colors and was so easy to work with.

Prickly Pear collage

When you receive my monthly card kit, you get:

  • Instructions to create 4 different card designs featuring current Close to My Heart product
  • Pre-cut supplies to create 1 each of the 4 designs
  • a supply list to re-create each design
  • the featured stamp set used to create the monthly kit (retail value of $6.95-$13.95)
  • Flat rate priority shipping

Invoices will be sent to your email from

*CTMH consultants are welcome to purchase the monthly card kit instructions as well. The cost is $10.00 and a digital copy of the instructions will be emailed to you along with a release to use with your business. No physical product will be sent.

There are two ways to get this monthly card kit:

  1. Each month you can contact me at to order the kit that has been created by the 20th of the month.
  2. You can join in the group of Card club members that sign up for a 6 month commitment and get extra benefits along the way.

Are you interested in being a Card Club Member? What do you get?

Card club members commit to a 6 month term and get more benefits for their commitment.

Members will automatically be sent the card kit I have created each month for the 6 month term. No more missing a Facebook post or email with the monthly announcement.

What you get as a member:

  • Monthly card kit will be a base price of $30* or less each month.
  • Your kit will include a CTMH stamp set (typical retail value of $9.95-$13.95)**
    You can choose to have the Thin Cuts bundle (if available) included with your kit for the cost of the bundle – see below.
  • Supplies to make 1 each of the 4 card designs created by EllyMae
  • Instructions to duplicate the card designs
  • Priority flat rate shipping
  • Special goodies will be given out to club members during the term
  • (ex. Free sequins, sparkles, extra goodies, small stamps, etc.)
  • At the end of the 6 months, those that fulfill the term will receive a free gift from me
  • (1) FREE Annual catalog included in your card kit (new catalogs come out August 2017)
  • (1) FREE of each Seasonal or Holiday Expression that is released during your term

    Each month I feature a new paper pack & stamp set to use in my monthly kits.

    Please let me know if you would like to order this month’s card kit at

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*Monthly kits are priced at $30 or below depending on the stamp set used in the kit.

**Some stamp sets have coordinating Thin Cuts available, but they are only available as a bundle and cannot be ordered separately. If this stamp set is used, each person has the option to order the Thin Cuts to be included with your kit. The monthly kit cost is only increased to include the cost of the Thin Cuts.

July specials from CTMH

July is an awesome month from Close to My Heart, with many specials going on.

The Annual catalog is retiring at the end of July and if you have your eye on products in the current annual catalog, you better grab them now. It’s a great month to grab stamp sets as the special for July is Stampaganza and that means it’s Buy 2 stamp sets and get a 3rd for FREE*.

In addition to Stampganza, they have brought back several of the most popular stamp sets that were previously retired. These are also included in the Buy 2 get the 3rd for FREE*.

And…. if that wasn’t enough, they also brought back this month are the very popular Word puzzle sets. Which are also included in the Stampganza Buy 2 get the 3rd for FREE*.

And there is more, they also have the Stamp of the month that you can add for only $5 when you order reaches $50. This month it is called Storybook Alphabet.

What a great month of July!

Grab these specials now as they will all expire on July 31st on my website HERE.

*Free stamp set is off the lowest priced stamp set in your cart.

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