Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cabin Fever Without a Fever - What's Blooming?

So I started off December being sick.  Turned out, after trying to push through it for almost five days, that it's a sinus infection.  Hopefully the antibiotics that I'm on will kill it in 10 days and the rest of the month will be more enjoyable.  

There's nothing like being home from work and feeling too under the weather to do anything.  Or nearly anything.  I could have used those days in so many ways, but my body would just not let me keep going.  So, after being inside the house for 3 days, I took a walk around to capture what is blooming inside.

Several different Christmas cacti in yellow, white, dark pink, and a lighter pink.   I don't know why I continue to call them Christmas cactus because they never seem to be blooming at Christmas.  Always more around Thanksgiving, and that white one is supposed to be an Easter cactus.  Oh well, it's nice to have them all blooming now anyway.

I made this fairy garden out of some succulents that were on a succulent wreath I bought.  All the other succulents on that wreath died, but this particular kind was still thriving so I planted it in a shallow ceramic bowl and added some "fairy" items to it.  The succulents actually are overtaking the fairies at this point I think.  

I have a beautiful cyclamen plant that is fairly new and hope to keep it blooming as long as the last one I got.  Someone gave me a miniature cyclamen at the end of the school year in June and it's only now on it's last flowers unless it manages to bounce back.  

We have several different varieties of Oxalis or what might be called shamrock plants. This one has pink flowers and green and white leaves.

This one has white flowers and green leaves.

And this one has pink flowers with purple leaves.  

One orchid is presently blooming but there are shoots on 5 other plants (that might or might not be ready for Christmas blooming). 

And there are several plants that we brought in from being outdoors this summer.  A begonia, a streptocarpus, and a geranium.  

HWNSNBP has several amaryllis bulbs started, but we never seem to get the timing right on those no matter when we get them going.  And of course, his Black Friday bargain of pointsettias (I limited him to two for home and two for work) that he gets for 99 cents a piece on Black Friday.

These blooming plants are accompanied by other potted succulents and green plants.  And we did manage to get the Christmas tree up on Saturday with the lights, but the ornaments are still waiting.  I prefer to put them on during daylight and there's not much workable daylight during the week before and after work, so it will have to wait until this weekend.  This tree is getting very old though.  I swear we had as many "needles" on the floor after putting it up as we used to have with a real tree. But I really can't see going back to real at this point.  

So I hope you enjoyed the trip through the indoor garden.  It's nice to have blooming plants in the house and will be even nicer with snow on the ground in the winter when they really can be appreciated.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Wrapping Up November

I bought this preprinted coloring calendar to use at school this year.  So far, for the few months that we've been in school, this has been the farthest I've gotten with the actual coloring.  And this was only because I had almost forgotten to do my online safe-schools training courses that were supposed to be done by December 1.  Let's see if the December calendar comes any closer to being done!
I was very touched to received a Spotlight Award this month. This is something new that our district has started this year.  The recipients are nominated by parents, students, or colleagues.  Two of my fellow office co-workers from other schools and I were nominated by a parent from out district for always being so helpful.  We try!

And as we ushered out November, my painting buddies and I had dinner and painted another Christmas canvas.  As you can see (that's me on the far right), I clearly failed the background because you cannot see my hills in the foreground.  So, I will be doctoring this one up a bit.  First, I did already have in mind to add battery operated fairy lights to the pine bough by punching holes through the canvas.  And instead of painting my bows on the tops of the ornaments, I planned on adding real bows.  So...........what to do with that lower right-hand corner.  I'm thinking possibly a partial rooftop??????  A holly bush??????  Part of a snowman's hat???????  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jingling Along for a White Christmas

With Thanksgiving in the past now, and December not more than a few days off, one comes to the realization that this is the last Jingle Belles challenge for 2016.  And it's a photo inspiration challenge.

Pretty, pretty, pretty!

And you know what caught my eye?  The eyes on the tree.  What is hiding there?  

Snowy Owls!

I love snowy owls.  I've had the opportunity to see them in captivity at the Raptor Trust and the Philadelphia Zoo, but it's been on my bucket list to see them in real life - in the wild.  The last few winters there have been reports of snowy owl sightings at Island Beach State Park and Long Beach Island here in New Jersey and I've seen pictures posted on Facebook from locals there.  But ideally, I would love to see one in person.  Maybe in 2017.

From a visit to the Raptor Trust in 2012

From a visit to the Raptor Trust in 2012

It just so happens that the day this challenge was posted HWNSNBP brought me what he called a "Friday present".  (This totally was out of the blue - never had a Friday present before or since.)

We have accumulated a nice collection of white owls over the last several years.  Some are ornaments for the tree.  Truth be told, I like all birds, but at Christmas lately, these are my favorite.

So of course you know I had to try a tree full of owls.  I have a set of two tree dies that I thought I could use by dissecting them into layers to make the tree taller so I could use owls that were not too small to cut out and were proportional to the tree.  I'm showing the close-up first, because try as I might I could not get a good picture of this card and all it's sparkle.  

I had these little owl stickers in pastel shades that I thought about using, but wanted to stay true to the inspiration, so I traced a few of them onto white cardstock and added the details in silver and black before fussy cutting them out.  It wasn't really that tedious.  I eliminated all the feet and the ear tufts because snowy owls don't have ear tufts.  

Another reason I chose not to use the stickers (and I tried) was because they did not stick too well to the glitter paper, which brings me to another observation.  I did not realize that glitter paper has a nap to it.  The die that I used has both trees on it and they are facing in opposite directions and since I cut them up to stack them, you can see the difference in the paper ever so slightly.

Okay, maybe not there so much as here, where the trees are side-by-side.

Okay .............take my word for it, there is a difference.  (Who cropped that picture, Zorro?)

I was on a little bit of a roll and actually put two cards together for this challenge and as I'm usually challenged by time (even more so during the holidays), I'm putting it in this post, but I don't think I can link up more than one card from a post, so here is where it is.

The trees in the background and the rabbit (also a part of that die) are cut from the wood sheets that I found a couple of weeks ago.  It was a challenge for this particular die to get a good cut on that thickness.  I had to do a lot of snipping and cutting to fully release the trees.  But as luck would have it, not one branch broke off.

So why don't you join me in visiting the Jingle Belles to see how the others were inspired by this photo?  Click here.

Oh, and I saw that the inspiration for Our Beautiful World this week is ~White~ so I'd like to add a photo from this post to that blog also.  You have to go take a look at the pictures of "white" from around the world.  Go ahead - get inspired!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Giving thanks today for the blessings of home, family and friends.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Jingle Belles One More Time

A Recent Conversation 

HWNSNBP:  Do we have enough Christmas cards made?
(yes, he said we)
ME:  I don't know, I haven't counted them, but we probably don't.
(yes, I said we with emphasis)
HWNSNBP:  You know it's getting close to December.
(I ignore that because I might say something I might regret.)

Last Night

HWNSNBP:  What are you working on?
ME:  Christmas cards.
HWNSNBP:  Are we going to have enough yet?  You know it's almost December.
(I lifted my head and gave him the look, and he backed out of the room with...)
HWNSNBP:  Okay, I'll leave you alone.  I'm not checking up on you.  
(no, I haven't harmed him.......yet)

If you read my last two Jingle Belles posts you'll know that I promised to make a card with a new stamp.  Well, I was having so much fun coloring this image that I made three.  The stamp is from Lil Inkers and I saw it used on The Daily Marker blog.  Kathy was using it for placecards, and I might do that too, but I knew that I had to have that stamp so I quickly placed my order with Lil Inkers and got it in plenty of time for this challenge to use flowers on our cards.  Of course, the bird was the big selling point for me, but the whole design really spoke to me.  

I colored them with color pencils and I did two bluebirds and a European robin.  There's another sentiment you can chose "Deck the Halls" and I'm saving that for another time.  BTW - my daughter treated me to a MISTI last Christmas and while I've used it before, but with this card, lining up the sentiments on the ribbon was so much quicker.  

I used a poinsettia embossing folder for the back panel and added a length of polka dotted ribbon (another cleaning find) behind the image that I fussy cut around.  It still needed something so I used a Sizzix die to die cut the spray of greenery for the background.  

Here's some close-ups, but the colors are really more vibrant like the first picture in the post.

Okay, now I really have to get going over to the Jingle Belles blog to get this posted and to visit the other lovely creations from this challenge.  Won't you join me by clicking here.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Jingle Belles Floral Christmas II

I've spent the better part of the last four days sorting and purging.  When we emptied out the room I was using as my craft space we put everything into the other spare bedroom (the room that used to be our daughter's).  Of course when the major work in the craft room was done all the stuff had to be moved back in.  Problem was and continues to be that I have too much stuff.  And I've tried explaining to my husband that I just didn't want to grab the stuff and just put it anywhere in the new space.  If I were to organize things now would be the time.  

Why am I starting with this... well because I promised to come back with another card for this challenge, but I said I would be using a new stamp.  Instead, I used some things that I had that I had forgotten about. The chevron panel was in a pack of papers long forgotten.  The ribbon with the poinsettias was in the scrap ribbon bag.  The wooden piece on the bottom was among some others that I found tucked in a box.  Don't tell anyone but this one was broken in the middle and I glued it back together and then used some tea stain ink to stain the wood.  Covering it with one of those poinsettia stickers and you'd never know it was repaired.  Lastly the deer and wreath were cut from a wood sheet that I found during the purging process.  It worked well with the dies.  

It's stained with the same tea stain ink that I used on the other piece but in the picture it might appear to be gold.  I used one dimensional on the head of the deer and let the antlers go "free" as the wood was naturally curving and it gave it much more dimension.

So on the spur of the moment, as I was cleaning out that other room, I told HWNSNBP that we really should paint it while we were doing such a deep clean and he went along with it.  This meant a trip to Home Depot for paint.  Being so spur of the moment I really had no idea what color I was looking for.  And I should add that color choices are never quick with me.  The room is currently painted two colors (my daughter's teenage choice) - light green and lavendar, which sound okay and look okay for a teenage room, but since we no longer have a teenager I wanted something more subtle.  I tend to go for the blues, so while HWNSNBP was looking for something else at HD I went to the paint section to take a look.  I picked out a color and he grabbed the sample from me and went over to the counter to ask for a sample.  I handed him another card with samples of the finishes that the paint can come in and pointed to the one that I wanted.  He promptly told the clerk we wanted the matte finish only he did not pronounce it matte as in mat, but rather mattay as in latte, whereby I swatted him with the card and corrected him which the guys behind the counter thought was pretty funny and jokingly warned me that they had seen me "beating up" my husband.  And no, he was not joking around with that pronunciation.  We've been through this before, just not in the store.  We got our sample and headed home never checking the color swatch on the top of the jar they put there for you to know what's inside.  Only later, when we had been home for a while did I notice that the color swatch on the top of the jar was a mustard yellow, very definitely not blue.  Being colorblind, HWNSNBP never even noticed when he put the sample on the walls.  Nothing is ever easy is it!

But speaking of blue...........little blue eyes and his mom came to visit for a spell on Saturday.  I could just drown in those pools of blue.

So let me finish this up and encourage you to visit the Jingle Belles to see all the other lovely floral Christmas cards.  And maybe, just maybe, since my haircut appointment for tomorrow was cancelled, I might get to using that new stamp I promised I'd try.  Here's the link to the Jingle Belles.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Jingle Belles - Mele Kalikimaka

If you knew that was Hawaiian for Merry Christmas bonus points for you!  But what's that got to do with this challenge?  Well, you know in Hawaii, summer or winter, there are flowers.  And lot's of us like to bring flowers into the house at the holidays.  So the JB's asked us to make cards with flowers. 

I am guilty of reading, or I should say not reading their post thoroughly.  I saw the word "traditional" and assumed that that meant they wanted traditional Christmas flowers and traditional Christmas colors. Well you know what happens when you assume - you spend 2 nights working on a card with the wrong criteria in mind.  

I am somewhat happy with the way this turned out.  Shortly after I skimmed their post I found myself in AC Moore shopping for something outside the stamping realm and I happened upon the flower stickers like the one on the card.  The AC Moore in Manahawkin is an outlet store now which means that everything in the store is at least 40% off (and they say they get new inventory all the time).  So after I found what I was originally looking for, I didn't mind a quick turn about the store and of course, some things jumped into my basket screaming "Buy me!  I'm 40% off!"  These stickers screamed very loud.  They whispered in my ear that they would be perfect for the JB challenge this week and a lightbulb went off in my head (or maybe it was a flash of sanity after hearing voices). But anyway...........I pictured the background stamp that I had at home with the poinsettia's on it and thought I could pair them up with that.  

Of course when I took another look at the background stamp I was stymied as to how I would stamp it.  I wanted the flowers red and the leaves green and not necessarily all outlined in black or gold. There was another flash of light (and not from the eye with the recently diagnosed retina problem thankfully) and I remembered that I had some green embossing powder that might just work.  And I think it did work after I got the value that I wanted in the watercoloring.  

I hadn't used my Colorburst powders in a while so I decided to take them out.  Two shade of red and two shade of green. I started with the lighter shades and attempted to add some highlights with the darker ones but the green embossing on the leaves was getting lost in the light green watercolor.  So I went back with the darker red over the flowers several more times to try to get them closer to the sticker.  And I did several more coats of the darker green which made the embossing more visible.

The centers were quickly done with some lemon powder and then I used a VersaMark pen on the edges to be able to add the gold highlights to that red flocked paper.  I even ran my gold WOS pen around the very edge of the stamped panel.  

The last touch was adding the gold twine under the sticker.  

So now that I've reread the challenge I am definitely going to put another card together using a stamp that came in the mail today.  It was such a depressing day, but getting new toys in the mail has helped.

Why don't you click here to see all the other wonderful floral creations.