Midweek Throwdown: Free For All

It's time to get down and dirty for another midweek challenge.  Before we present the midweek challenge though let's take a look at all the participants’ cards from last weeks "Four Legged Friend" theme challenge. To see details about their cards or to visit their blogs… please click on their names in the original post.  Many thanks to all who played along this week!  All of your cards are PURR-FECT and you ladies WOOF!!!





Midweek Throwdown:  Free For All
This week we are going to get down and dirty and reverse things up a bit.  Instead of presenting you with a specific color, technique, stash or theme challenge we are going to have a free for all!  Yep, that's right... a FREE FOR ALL!  This week the challenge is to create a card using your favorite challenge hosted here on the Stars and Stamps blog so far!  Create any card using that challenge then leave a comment at the end of this post letting us all know what that challenge is and why you love it so much!

POLL:  Mister Linky or InLinkz
We want you to know that we are reading and listening to all of your comments and suggestions!  The most recurring comment seems to be not having enough time to complete the challenges in order to get your card in the SLIDE each week.  We recently came across another way for all of you to enter your cards in the challenges but need your feedback to know which you prefer!

At this time we are using Mister Linky to enter our cards in the challenges.  Each week before posting the new challenge we visit each blog and save your cards to a folder then we upload the cards to create a beautiful SLIDE that features all of your cards.  The downside to using Mister Linky is that we have to wait and add Mister Linky the day the challenge is posted.  Since Mister Linky only creates a link to your blog and doesn't show an image or icon we have to set an end date in order to create the SLIDE.

We've recently discovered another way for all of us to enter our cards in the challenges called InLinkz.  InLinkz creates an icon right on the blog featuring your card as well as creates a link to your blog.  One advantage to using InLinkz  is that we are able to create the InLinkz ahead of time as well as schedule the start and end dates.  With InLinkz your card will be featured on the blog as soon as you enter your project in the challenge meaning no more missing the deadline to get it in the SLIDE.



This is where we need your help!  At the end of this post you will see both Mister Linky and the InLinkz.  So that everyone has a chance to test the InLinkz,  please enter your project for this week's challenge using both Mister Linky and the InLinkz then let us know what you think.  To vote, simply leave a comment at the end of this post indicating either Mister Linky or InLinkz. 

When entering your project in the challenge please make sure to use the direct link or URL address to your post as always!  When you enter your project using the InLinkz you will also need to enter your email address and select the photo of the project you are entering.  Inlinkz will show you all the photos it finds on your blog then simply choose the one for your project.  One idea to make it easier to find your photo is to name your projects by date.

Thanks everyone for playing along in this week's challenge and for taking the time to give us some valuable feedback!  You are the best!!!

MISTER LINKY


INLINKZ

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Half and Half winners: drumroll please!

Please accept my personal apologies for being so late! I had been waiting for Kris' return from vacation so all the entries would count - and then got caught up in so much else! —Sandy

designer sunglasses
Our Half and Half challenge brought in 8,444 cards—wow on the turnout, everyone! Way to go!

Random.org picked numbers for the winners, and we matched up numbers with the cards donated.....so without further ado....congratulations to these 10 cardmakers!



  1. Cindy E, Los Gatos CA
  2. Denise W, Las Vegas NV
  3. Lori R, Springfield VA
  4. Stephanie G, New York NY
  5. Kathy P, White Lake MI
  6. Ruby G, Thornton CO
  7. Tammy F, North Judson IN
  8. Sandy C, Ft Wright KY
  9. Kelli L, Hanover MN
  10. Reta M, Fair Oaks Ranch TX
The prizes are all packed up in their flat rate envelopes — tons of stickers, ribbon, stamps, embellishments, and other goodies! With any luck they'll end up going postal tomorrow. Congratulations, ladies!!

(Okay monkey, you can stop drumming now!)

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Making A Light Box Using Cardstock

Have you wondered how to take gorgeous photos of your cards and projects? Well, wonder no more. Today we have a fun tutorial for you on how to make a light box using cardstock. The tutorial was prepared by Debra and may also be found on her blog, Creative Heart Designs.  Thank you, Debra, for sharing this wonderful tutorial with all of us!

How to make a Light Box using cardstock
I finally found a way to photograph my cards that I am happy with.  You probably have the supplies for making the backdrop in your card stock supply.

Here's how to make it.


Take 3 sheets of heavyweight white card stock (8-1/2" x 11") and lay them out as shown. Arrange the sheets with one 8-1/2" x 11" sheet on each side then turn your third piece (with the 11" side at the bottom) for the center...lining up at the top. Tape the three pieces together using clear tape. Score and fold the bottom of the two outer sheets (lining up your folds with the bottom of the 11" x 8-1/2" center piece). Fold in the side pieces and arrange in a box shape as shown below. For the bottom (floor) of your light studio, place a few pieces of card stock on the folded pieces to hold the box shape and your backdrop is done.


Next, add your light source (I highly recommend an Ott Lite) placed above and to the front to illuminate your card. Move it as necessary to lessen the shadows. If you don't have a light source, use your flash. Put the card in the light studio and take your photo (with or without flash).


A tripod isn't really necessary, but my husband thought I needed one, so I use it occasionally. All of the recent card photos on my blog, Creative Heart Designs, were taken this way...without flash.
 
 
Here is a close up of the beautiful Teacup Pansies card featured in Debra's Light Box.
 





Do you use a light box to take photos of your cards and projects?  Do you have tips or suggestions on ways to take better photos... i.e. a favorite light source, time of day to take your photos, etc.  After you take the photo, do you edit the photo in any photo editing software?  Please leave a comment at the end of this post to share your ideas!

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S&S Sketch Challenge #10

This week's sketch challenge is being hosted by Martha Bickford.  The sketch and beautiful sample card were created by the fabulous Ali Manning.  To see more of Ali's beautiful artwork, please visit her blog, Art Ali. Thank you, Ali, for sharing both the sketch and sample card!





To assist you with making the tags used on this weeks sketch, Martha has created a tag tutorial to show you a quick and easy way to make a tag template.

To make this quick and easy tag template first cut a 1 1/8" by 1 3/4" piece of cardstock.  Next, fold the piece of cardstock in half.  Using a ruler, trace a line along the top outside corner then cut it out using a pair of scissors.  Unfold the piece of cardstock and your tag template is complete.  To use your template simply place over a piece of cardstock or patterned paper and trace around the tag template then cut out the tag, embellish and attach to your card.

To further inspire you, Martha has created some gorgeous cards to show you some fun variations for making tags.  Here are Martha's sample cards, and you can see more of her work on her blog, Peachy Papercrafting.  Thank you, Martha, for the awesome tag template and beautiful sample cards!








 Here are the cards submitted during the first week:




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Featured Friday: A little something different

Oh what a thrill of a hopping week it's been around here! Coming down off the high of the bloghop has been a challenge....but the Facebook chatter is keeping the energy alive! Many thanks to all of you who blogged, all who hopped, and a special shout-out to our hero who made the fantastic MRE card! What a delightful surprise that was!!

This week's "Featured Cardmaker" is a feature on a bunch of our cardmakers! But first, a few housekeeping updates.... 

Bloggers
If you're unable to locate your blog candy winner, first try posting on Facebook - lots of bloggers have found their peeps there! You can also email us and we'll help as best we can---you'd be surprised how much we know about finding the OWH family online!
  1. Please change your links to the "longer" link - go to the blog following yours, and click on the title of the bloghop post. The url should switch to a much longer one; if you change to that one, then our hoppers can continue hopping indefinitely!
  2. THANK YOU for participating - mark your calendar for our Memorial Day Hop to come!
Hoppers keep hopping
  1. If you hopped over the weekend and are wondering if you won a prize, check our Facebook wall. Lots of bloggers are posting winners there!
  2. The prizes may be closed on most if not all blogs, but the creativity is there anyway! Feel free to continue leaving warm fuzzies....heck, you could even spend time on their other posts and leave more comments. We all love feedback!
  3. If the "next stop" link takes you to the top of a blog instead of the hop post, you might scroll down a little to find the March 20 post - or come back to the SandS Bloghop start post and use those links. Most of them are fixed by now.

Featured Cardmakers: Tutorials and challenges
Thanks to Kajikit who started us off with her "Taking up the Gauntlet" post - here's a list of the challenges and tutorials highlighted during the hop, in case you wanted to go back and look without having to hop through all 94 blogs (though every last one is well worth checking out again!). If we've missed your tutorial here, please email to let us know, and we'll add you:
Featured Heroes: photos posted during the hop

Featured Awards: The Craftys
And now for another little bit of fun...imagine what if there were an awards ceremony for crafters? Kind of like the Emmys or the Grammys, but maybe it would be dubbed The Craftys!! After this weekend let's just daydream a little. Who among our fantastic bloggers from the hop would you nominate for...
  • Best kleenex alert
  • Best tutorial
  • Best use of supplies
  • Most unique card
  • Springiest
  • Most likely to be CASEd
What other awards would you give out if you were on The Craftys Committee? Let's have a little fun with this!

*frog image by National Geographic

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Theme Challenge: Four Legged Friends

Hope you are ready for another Stars and Stamps mid-week challenge.  Before we present the mid-week challenge though let’s take a look at all the participants’ cards from last weeks stash challenge.  To see details about their cards or to visit their blogs… please click on their names in the original post. Many thanks to all who played along with us this week!




Theme Challenge: Four Legged Friends
To get you inspired and mix things up a bit, this week we have another theme challenge for you!  The challenge is to create a card using any four legged friend.  That's right, it may be a dog, cat, pony, bunny or if you tend to be more on the wild side... a lion, tiger, giraffe... well, you get the idea.  This week's theme challenge is hosted by Tammy.  While we were all having fun and very busy blog hopping this weekend she was busy as a beaver creating this adorable sample card to get us all inspired!  Thank you, Tammy, for the fun theme challenge and cute sample card!  To see more of Tammy's beautiful artwork, please visit her blog, My Craft Central, and show her your appreciation for this week's theme challenge. 

Here are the awesome cards made this week!



A note for those who join us for multiple challenges: Be sure to copy the FULL url for your blog post to copy into Mister Linky. It automatically seems to remember the last card you entered the last time you used Mister Linky, and will link to the post with that card instead! To view the FULL url click on the post title or select the post in your archive.

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Cardmaking 101: Adhesives

This is a re-post (with updates) of an adhesive review from Sandy's blog, 2007. 

Can you guess which adhesive is which, before scrolling down?

While it's tacky to be stuck to one definitive answer about the best adhesive for OWH cards, there are some basic truths to stick to. (Couldn't resist the puns!) Glue is important.

It doesn't do much good to create a beautiful card if it won't last through mailing to the shipper, over to a battlefield, and back home again. And our shippers do find that many cards don't even last making one leg of the journey—through domestic mail. The card hospital sees many cards with a lost googly eye, peeling off papers, or cards stuck to the back of the card on top of them.

Following is a review of a few of the many adhesives out there, and some notes about what we've seen in the cards arriving at OWH.

  1. Double stick tape. A little awkward to use, since it sticks to your fingers! It doesn't hold up all that well, but if it's fairly fresh (ie hasn't been in your craft drawer for months), it can work. Just be sure to really press papers down really really really well.
  2. Tape runners. There are a few brands of these. . . they're nice and thin, and they lay down a good sticky line of adhesive that's a perfect width for ribbons. A little more expensive than you might like if you go through a quantity of adhesive on a regular basis, but with a 40% off coupon, they're not too bad! Look online and you can find the refills fairly inexpensively.
  3. Foam squares. Great for dimensional elements! They're cut into squares already, and are simply peeled off to stick to the back of the piece you want to pop off the card.  Each package of the brand shown (available at Joanns among other places) comes with a sheet each of teensy and middle-sized squares. There's also doublestick dimensional on rolls; beware that some brands of that type are difficult to cut without getting stuck to your scissors!
  4. Aleene's tacky glue. It's good and tacky! Great for lumpy embellishments that don't stick to tapes—things like buttons, and ribbon that's too thin for tape runners. It comes in all sorts of types—clear, white, etc. Beware of any liquid adhesives, since they can warp and warble paper. (A good alternative, discovered by me after these photos were taken, is Glossy Accents or Diamond Glaze — they is completely clear, and has a lot of craft applications as well. Works great for googlie eyes, since it is so much clearer than other glues.)
  5. Glue sticks. The quality depends on the brand; almost all of the falling-apart cards we receive had been adhered with glue sticks, but we have no way to know what brand the cardmaker used. One use that is perfect for gluesticks is sticking text-weight paper into dark cards as a liner; the light paper is thin enough that the gluestick holds very well.
    We know that glue sticks are most affordable for some cardmakers; if gluesticks are your only choice, be very sure to use enough glue, and press it down really securely to be sure it stays put!
  6. ATG gun. Shown in the photo here next to a tape runner, for scale. It's by far the best purchase I have ever made in my years of crafting. It lays down a line of adhesive—somewhat repositionable if you remove the item quickly and before pressing it down. It  takes a little time to get used to the large gun, but once you get the hang of it, you will love it. I recently got one on eBay for $20, and the 36-yard tape rolls are incredibly cheap if you purchase them in enough quantity! Tapes come in 1/2 inch or 1/4 inch rolls. If you want to see what one "feels" like before purchasing, stop by your local frame shop and ask to see theirs.
  7. Rubber cement. Used on very rare occasions. I get the most use out of it when altering 3D items; it works great to cover curved surfaces and adhering around corners. There are two kinds: one you put only on one surface, and stick the other to it; the other, you paint both surfaces, let them dry, and they reallllly stick well. I didn't show it in the samples on black paper, because once it dries you really can't see it anyway. 
  8. Glue dots. A late addition (this tutorial was created a while ago, before I discovered the joy of glue dots!), these are a great adhesive for lumpy items.  They come in several sizes, many brands, and usually on rolls. Some are really thick, others thin, and all are VERY sticky. One caution: use a glue dot smaller than the item you're securing, or your card will become useless as it sticks to the back of a card in front of it! If you want an inexpensive option for gluedots, you can make your own—Seongsook posted a tutorial during our March 2010 bloghop!



So there you have it. The glues I choose! What other adhesives are out there that I missed? -Sandy

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S&S Sketch Challenge #9

This week's sketch is provided by Seongsook. To see more of her beautiful artwork, please visit her blog, Sea Garden. Thank you, Seongsook, for the fabulous sketch and sample cards!






Here are the cards made during the first week for this sketch...enjoy!




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Spring Break Bloghop: the hop starts here!

EDITED March 21: If you're hopping anytime from here on, you may run into links on blogs that go to the *top* of that blog. Which means that if the blogger added a new post since the hop, you might need to scroll down. The links on the bottom of this blog post are mostly linking directly to the blog post, where we're able to do so. Thanks, and happy hopping!

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the start of the hop!

This bloghop has been a while in the making, and we're so glad you're here! We have so many bloggers ready to show off their creativity and their love for our heroes. A few housekeeping details and then we can get started!

Hoppers:
  1. Each post should have a link to the next blog - look for a nice big link near the end of each post. Note that you *may* run into a broken link or two. Don't panic! Just come right back here and go to the list at the end of this post, and pick up where you left off. *You might scroll down the list to see any issues we've discovered in links—we'll update as the day goes on!
  2. Leave feedback! Be specific if you'd like - "nice card" is great, but "I love the way you use bling" is a lot more helpful to us as we learn what others appreciate about our work!
  3. Enter for candy! Some of the blogs are offering prizes, so read instructions to see what you need to do to qualify. The blogger will need to know how to reach you, so if you aren't a blogger, you may wish to write your email address in text ( name at server dot com ) so the robot spammers don't find your address but the blogger can locate you!
  4. Download freebies! There are some great free digistamps...save them safely somewhere!
  5. You may want to print out the list on this post, and make notes of which ones you want to go back and re-read, CASE, or follow tutorials. A piece of paper might do the trick too! 
  6. Have fun...invite your friends! Post a link on your FB page or Twitter, or on a message board!
Bloggers:
  1. Please doublecheck that your link goes to the right place. Lots of craziness over the last two days has confused a lot of us. The list on this post is the 'official' one, so hopefully it jives with the info you received!
  2. If you can, CHANGE your link to the long url for the next blog, rather than the short one, that would be very helpful. How? Go to the blog following yours, and click on the TITLE of the blog post. You'll see a longer url, and that's the one to change to. If we all do that, then we can hop anytime and find the specific blog posts and keep hopping along!
  3. If you notice others are getting a lot more comments than you are, check your settings. Sometimes people don't have an ID that will allow them to comment, so open your settings to "Anyone" for the day. (Note that those who are later in the hop list will get more comments as the day wears on.)
  4. Turn off music and scripts! Some folks are on dialup, and since we have so many blogs to see, let's turn off things that will slow our readers down today. Thanks!

A card share for you here is this little patriotic red white and blue card....it was a challenge to make a springy card that was also patriotic colors! (And no that wasn't part of the hop challenge, just a personal one!) The image is a Housemouse one.

This card is also an "AnyHero" card - meaning it contains a letter written inside for a hero. We love it when cardmakers include one or two of these - or more, of course! These can be handmade, storebought, or written on stationery or notebook paper...anything works, these are all about the sentiments inside.

As an added little bonus, here's a sketch made from this card design—it's a little backwards, usually the sketch comes first. But the way this week has gone, backwards is the way things are lately!


And now, without further ado,
click here or on the image below to get busy hopping!

The blog list:

  1. Stars and Stamps
  2. Karen, Feline Creative
  3. Dawn , The Chatty Stamper
  4. Lauri, Paperville
  5. Kathy, Pass It On
  6. Brenda, Rose Blossom Legacies
  7. Amy, Greetings!
  8. Louise, Trinity Paper Arts
  9. Joscie, OHScrap!
  10. Monica, Little Bit Of Life
  11. Sandy, A Colourful World
  12. Darsie, Crafting with Darsie
  13. Jeanine, Bucketlist Stamper
  14. Jann, She's Gone Stampin
  15. Melissa, Meljen's Designs
  16. Tara, Purple Princess
  17. Patti, The Erickson All-Stars
  18. Erica, Inked Up and Ready to Play
  19. Candace, Candid Candace
  20. Darlene, expressions by da
  21. Nora, Merry's Musings
  22. Heroes, Hero Blog
  23. Shelly, Create With Me
  24. Christine, Christine's Crafting Capers
  25. Joy, Dusty Penny designs by Joy
  26. Kate, Hello From Kate
  27. Dixie, What's Next?
  28. Alison, Stretch N' Bubbles
  29. Kimme, The Life of a Princess
  30. Seongsook, Sea Garden
  31. Anita, Cards & Coffee
  32. Debi, Card Making on a Budget
  33. Paula , Handmade By Paula
  34. Brittany, levelsoflight
  35. Erika, Bekah Jo's World
  36. Lee, Stamping With Grandmalee
  37. Caryl, Stamps and Stitches
  38. Susie, SA Scrappin Gal
  39. Shelly, life on altadena avenue
  40. Cathy, Monkeydreamz:Tales of a Paper Addict
  41. Stephanie, SR Cards
  42. Paula, The Paper Spa
  43. Donna, Donna Inks
  44. Kaere, Whispers and Wishes
  45. Denise, Stamping with Denise
  46. Kelli, KelliStamps4U...and U can 2!
  47. Rachel, Stamping by Rachel
  48. Vieve, PlaidPolkaDots
  49. Jillian, Welcome To Jillville!
  50. Tami, Dapple Designs
  51. Kelly, weekendstamper
  52. Julie, Handmade by Julie
  53. Kas, Art Loves Chaos
  54. Loni, Loni's Life
  55. Darlene, itsaninkinstampede
  56. Melissa, Delovely Scrapbooks
  57. Lori, Lori's Purple Giraffes
  58. Carolyn, P.M.S. etc...
  59. Tammy, My Craft Central
  60. Lora, Lora Stamps
  61. Lyneen, Dreaming of Castles
  62. Karen, Dreaming and Creating
  63. Nancy, Scrap Happens
  64. Karen, Creating With Kajikit
  65. Lainie, Scrappily Ever After
  66. Melissa, The Profound Brunette
  67. Fabre, Creating for a Cause
  68. Megan, Megan Bean
  69. Paula, Cut n Paste Memories
  70. Jan, Art Friendzy
  71. Corinna, My Scrapbook Life
  72. Brianne, Crazy, Beautiful Days
  73. Mary, Cr8ive ME
  74. Stephanie, SeaSteph's Creations
  75. Marcy, En Papillote Arts
  76. Marianne, Petunia's Paper Passion
  77. Windy, Card and Page
  78. Debb, Forget Me Knot Nonsense
  79. Cynthia, Cynzplace
  80. Sarah, Simply Scrapping, Simply Sarah
  81. Cheryl, Don'tworrybescrappi
  82. Caro, Scraps of Time
  83. Pat, PatQ cards
  84. Marci, More than Memories
  85. Bonnie Rose, A Life Unrehearsed
  86. JenMarie, Taylor~Made by JenMarie
  87. Maria , Ria Creations
  88. Holley, holley's hobbies
  89. Melissa, Just Dandy
  90. Collette, Heaven Sent For You
  91. Erika, Polley Crafts
  92. Betty, Simply Scrapping
  93. Homefront, Homefront Blog

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Featured Cardmaker: Louise F, Frazier Park CA

This week, get to know Louise! Her blog is Trinity Paper Arts, and is filled with even more of her beautiful creativity!

How long have you been stamping?
I have been stamping about 15 or 16 years, although I just returned from a 4-year hiatus when I did quilling (paper filigree) exclusively. A very good friend of mine, who was a Stampin Up Demonstrator at the time, invited me to a stamping party and I was hooked. I am not an artist who can draw, but through stamping and quilling, I can call on that “inner artist” who continually yearns to be released. There is a song called Mr. Tanner by Harry Chapin that says, “He did not know how well he sang, it just made him whole.” The same is true for me – I do not know how well I stamp, it just makes me whole.


Do you have a craft room or specific area where you stamp?
I have more of a “craft area”. My husband Chuck and I live with his 94 year-old mother to care for her needs. She is a lovely woman who crochets every day making afghan squares for a foundation called Warm Up America!. When my father-in-law passed away a couple of years ago, Chuck and I decided we needed to be in the same area as Mom so that she would not be alone all the time. So we moved our computers and my crafting supplies to the dining room. I have lots of light, a beautiful view of the mountains and my family with me, which makes up for any lack of space.


What are your favorite stamp products?
I returned to stamping last August and found there have been so many new innovations. There are many more wonderful – and improved – products to use, which makes it a very exciting craft. One of my favorite new tools is the wide variety of cutting and embossing dies that produce those perfect straight edges that I could never obtain before, not to mention the beautiful shapes and sizes. The embossing folders are great for backgrounds. My other favorite is Copic markers, which gives one the ability to easily add dimension to a project with the use of color. It has really been a learning experience for me, and there are so many tutorials on the web to explain easy to learn techniques. Then, of course, there is my addiction to paper and ribbon!


Do you have a favorite technique?
I think my favorite technique is always the one I am working on at the time. It can be anything that stirs my creativity so that I become a more centered person.

Are there colors you love to include on your cards?
I definitely have a strong leaning toward the jewel tones and the metallics. I like that which sparkles, but it must be a subtle embellishment! Every once in a while I get a strong urge to do a white card trimmed in pale pink. I wonder what that is all about.


How did you hear about Operation Write Home?
When I began stamping again, I found that if I had a specific use for the card I was creating, it came out nicer and gave me much more satisfaction to make. When I realized this, I wanted to find a worthy cause that could use my cards. One day, I was on the Split Coast Stampers website and someone mentioned OWH. After visiting the OWH website, I knew this was the place for me! Now when I post one of my OWH cards on another website, I try to always mention OWH because maybe, just maybe, there is someone who will see that card who is also looking for a home for her cards.


What motivates you to make cards for our heroes?
There are oh so many reasons – and I know I receive more than I give from making and sending the cards. I do feel sometimes that when a soldier is deployed, our cards might provide the “sticky glue” that holds the relationship together. I also could not imagine being away from my husband for any period of time – it would be so painful – and I have a vision of how excited and happy I would be for communication from him, especially in the form of a beautiful card that says “I love you” or “I miss you”.

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