First, a momentary freak out. Ahem. HOLY CRAP I'M GOING TO BE IN FRANCE A MONTH FROM TODAY OH MY GOSH I HAVE SO MUCH STUFF TO DO AHHHHHHHHHHH.
And now we breathe in. And we breathe out. And we move on...
I like to think that I'm a polite individual, that mypleases and my thank you's are not only properly placed, but plentiful, perhaps bordering on annoying. Perhaps for American standards, I say please and thank you too much, but I may not say it enough for French standards. This article does a great job outlining basic French etiquette, from what you do in a business meeting, how you say "okay" with a body gesture, to how to sit at a table.
I've been told that I should make sure I have little trinkets in my baggage to be ready to give out on certain occasions, namely, when I've been invited to someone's house for dinner (someone who isn't my host family). I will stay with a family when I'm in Tours for two weeks, so I want to give them a little something when my stay with them is over. I plan on bringing some of my "vices" that I enjoy frequently because I live where I do, like Blue Diamond Almonds (I usually purchase the small cans), and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans (I'll get the small bags for easy gifts, and the boxes for big gifts). I will admit, I've NEVER been one to give out Thank You notes for anything, despite my mother begging me to keep tabs on who gave me what on my birthday, or graduations, but I'm about to change all that.
My boyfriend's sister Lauren has her own blog, and is a Stampin' Up demonstrator. The link goes straight to her Stampin' Up page on her blog, but feel free to check out all of her posts! Stampin' Up is a system that you can use to scrap book, make greeting cards, and a whole bunch of other things. My mom and I have bought some stamps, paper, and other products from Lauren in the past, but we had another really cool idea... Some of the stamps are made in other languages, including Spanish, German, and FRENCH! For the sake of politeness (and to go with those trinkets), I thought it would be a good idea for me to at least go to France with some basic Thank You and Happy Birthday cards with me, but the local Hallmark store sells cards in Spanish, but not in French. So we ordered a couple sets of stamps in French, some paper (in the Regals collection), some envelopes, and a couple ink pads. My idea is to put together a compact "kit" so that I can come across a situation while I'm in France, put together a card for it in a minute or two, and be ready for it. For right now, I have nothing to cut the Regal paper to make the actual cards with at the moment, so I have no actual cards put together. Those will come later. Here are some pictures of what I've put together so far...
Regals Collection Card Stock
Joyeux Anniversaire = Happy Birthday
Tendres Pensées = Tender Thoughts (Thinking of You)
Pour Le Meilleur = For The Best
Pardon Pour Le Retard = Sorry I'm/It's Late (Happy Belated)
À La Personne Qui Rend Les Autres Heureux = To The One Who Makes Everyone Else Happy
Merci = Thank You
Merci Par Milliers = Thank You Times a Thousand (Thanks A Lot)
Bon Anniversaire = Happy Birthday
All of the colored paper featured comes from the Regals collection. The two ink colors you see are Cherry Cobbler (red), and Night of Navy (blue). Both colors are also found in the card stock. Stamps seen can be found in the following collections: Signes du temps (FR), Quelques Lignes (FR), Sweet Summer (retired), So Happy for You (retired), and Always.
The circle and frame cut outs have the same stamped designs on both sides, but in red on one side, and in the blue on the other. That way, I can pull out a random card color, pull out the required stamp, flip it to decide if the red or the blue looks better, then affix it, and be ready to go. I'll place a blank frame cut out on the inside of the cards to write a message in before I leave for France so the cards will be as ready made but still "customizable" to the occasion as possible.
So why Stampin' Up instead of the stamps you can buy at your local craft store? Take my word for it, the selection is a lot larger (and they're always creating new stamps, then retiring old ones), and the stamps are better quality. I think it's more fun than buying stamps at a craft store too, knowing a Stampin' Up demonstrator is like knowing someone who sells tupperware, Mary Kay or Avon cosmetics, or something similar. You get invited to parties they have every once in a while, and you go home with a cool card or scrap book page that you made yourself that day. You never have to buy anything from them, but if I ever had an idea like this one, I knew I could call Lauren, and call I did! When I picked out the Signes du temps stamps (the ones with the pictures and the words, like Pardon pour le retard and the snail), she told me about the circle punch. She said that it would be the perfect size to use with those stamps since I wanted something "pre-made" that had the stamp on it already (by the time I got to France). Take a look at the pictures, those stamps DO fit in them just right. With the Quelques Lignes stamps, I had to get a little bit more creative and bring in stamps I had from other sets, but I made it work. That's the beauty of these stamps, you mix and match them to fit your needs.
I'm still expecting one more French stamp set that's currently on backorder, so expect either one more post on some finished cards, or an edit to this one soon. Let's hope the recipients of these cards are excited to get them as I am about making them! Thanks again for all your help, Lauren! Merci par millers et bon anniversaire aussi!
L'ennui est entré dans la monde par la paresse. -La Bruyère
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Edit: 01/08/12
I finally got a contraption to do some serious paper cutting so I could make some cards to show you! The other stamp set that was on back order came in, and I've done some work with it, but the stamps in in are very similar to the ones in the Quelques Lignes set, so I didn't feel like taking pictures of them. Here are some of the card cutouts that I've done with some embossing files. Mom and I have a Big Shot which is a multi-purpose machine that allows us to use die-cuts (I used one for this project), the embossing folders, and a few other tools that you can buy through Stampin' Up.
Elegant Bouquet textured impressions embossing folder -close up for detail
Top Note Bigz Die insert for message writing in complete card.
The Top Note die cut inserts make it easy to add something on the inside of the cards to write on, and it's pretty elegant. The embossing folders add a little something to the front of the cards, and if you take a look at the complete card, they leave just enough room for one of my pre-made stamped coins so I can quickly customize them depending on the situation. I'll make some more cards to finish out my kit, but I think I'll be well-armed for all sorts of situations when I go abroad soon. Even though these cards aren't quite as funny as some of the pre-made cards you might find in a store like Hallmark, there's something really cool about getting a handmade card from someone, isn't there?