Saturday, August 29, 2015

Our Beautiful World 8-29

How many steps does it take to make stairs?  Anything more than one step is considered stairs.  At least that's what I found on the internet.  So I think this should be stairs, though it's a step and a landing, in which case it would not be stairs.  Well, I wanted to find some pretty stairs this week for Our Beautiful World's prompt and it came down to this afternoon and, well, HWNSNBP told me I'd better "go for it" and take a picture of these stairs at the Manor House because we would be headed back home and this was my last chance.  

The Manor House is a house with all the rooms on the first floor being little shops.  Each room is maintained by a different vendor and they are all different.  There are antiques, candles, baby things, Vera Bradley, and other various gifties.  Today I purchased one of those armored wallets for myself.  But as you might be able to see by the scene on the porch they were having items on summer clearance both inside and out.  I usually manage to find at least one thing to buy when I'm there and today was no different.

Yesterday, we pulled up alongside a truck transporting these wooden forms.  I thought all those triangles looked very interesting and I was glad to be on the passenger side of our truck so I could snap a picture of it.  

The last of the pictures were taken this evening, probably within 45 minutes of each other.  The sun sets in the back of the condo and the moon rises over the bay.

I love how the moon leaves a pathway of light on the water visible even from across the street on our balcony.  We listened to "The Sounds of the 60's" tonight - the weekly Saturday night concert on the dock.  It's easy to sing along to the songs of that era.

Sunflowers to Sundown

I had recently added something to my bucket list for this summer - to visit a sunflower maze.  We found information on one earlier this month but you know, you have to wait for the flowers to be blooming.  Luckily, the Sussex County Sunflower Maze at Liberty Farm in Sandyston, NJ opened last weekend.  And this being my last Friday off for the summer, I coaxed HWNSNBP into scheduling a trip for first thing this morning.  

It started as somewhat of a cool day being in the high 50's this morning and only supposed to get into the high 70's, and we were going to be at a higher altitude which also held promise of cooler weather, but let me tell you, when the sun came out, it was hot walking around there.

The trip there took nearly an hour-and-a-half (a little longer than anticipated because we did get a little lost).  And we spent close to an hour walking through the maze, stopping to take pictures, many pictures.  

They had sheets with "field marks" for a little scavenger hunt, but we did not do that, we just leisurely strolled through trying to navigate the maze.

And there were places in the fields where the flowers were more intense than others, but they had explained that this was because of some deer and groundhog feasting, and also because they stagger the plantings so everything does not bloom at the same time and the maze can be enjoyed longer.

We had 5 cameras with us, if you count both of our cell phone cameras, but HWNSNBP took turns carrying them and the camera bag with me (and snapping a few of his own pictures on his phone too). 

"I will lift mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help!" - Psalm 121 ran through my head as we looked from the back of the field toward the mountain where all the sunflowers were facing.

The pathways were rocky in some places and in other places we were walking on freshly mowed greens.  I had to be very careful to pick up my feet so as not to trip on anything - the only thing that worried me. 

Two women, I think a mother and daughter were taking turns taking pictures of themselves with the baby that was with them and as we passed one of them noticed the smiley face in the sunflower below.  I thanked her for her "good catch" and promptly captured it too.  We didn't think to ask them to take a picture of us together, believe it or not.

The fields were humming too - with bees.  They were not interested in us at all - which was another good thing.  

There actually were several different sections of the maze and although we didn't enter each one at great length, we did step into them.

The flag was one of the "monuments" to look for on the scavenger hunt.  HWNSNBP thought that finding that meant that we had "conquered the maze".  

After the long drive home, we quickly packed up the truck and headed in the opposite direction.  I think we covered over 300 miles of New Jersey today.

And there was another stellar sunset this evening.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Photo Inspiration

My blogging friend Sabrina of My Miscellany took this picture on her recent holiday in Brittany with her husband.  It reminded me of a picture that I had taken a couple of months ago, but hers had many more boats and just spoke to me.  So yesterday afternoon I got out my little 3 x 5 art journal and my Derwent Inktense pencils and used her photo as inspiration for my little watercolor below.

As you can see, there are not as many boats in my picture,  and there are a few other things missing but I am happy with the way it came out.  

Here's the photo that I took back in June.  I just might have to try something with this one too.

Thank you Sabrina, not only for the inspiration but for allowing me to share your photo.  

Please do click on this link to see more of her wonderful photography.  I love when she let's us tag along on her holidays!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Thanks and Birthday, Vacancy and Vans

After our Merry Fishmas party I wanted to thank our guests for being there to share the day with us and since I had recently gotten this Impression Obsession Beach Wreath stamp in the mail, figured it would be perfect.  I stamped it in Memento Black on watercolor paper and used my Zig markers and aquapainter to color it.  The background is SU's Hardwood stamped off once and then on Whisper White.  I fussy cut the wreath and then just centered it on the "wood wall".  I didn't add a sentiment to the front but rather wrote my note on the inside.  I think this stamp would make a nice ornament for the Fishmas tree next summer.

And to celebrate my sister's birthday last weekend, I put this together using my SU floral EF and Essentials by Ellen dies, along with a Happy Birthday sentiment die and some little felt flowers from a past Mike's $1.50 bin.  The flowers are in shades of yellow and the leaves are Crumb Cake and Sahara Sand.  It looks a little dull in the picture but IRL it was much prettier and she loved it.

Our Beautiful World's theme for this week is VACANT.  This is our faculty room - vacant save for the vending machine (too heavy to move) while the floor was waxed in preparation for the new school year quickly approaching.  It will be filled with two refrigerators, three tables, about 12 chairs, a microwave on a cart, a desk with a phone, a watercooler and jugs of water, and recycling and garbage cans. All in that small room (which does extend only a little to the left of the magazine rack).

I think I've mentioned that the front of the school near the office is undergoing construction.  Well, after they jack-hammered away the concrete pad in front they filled the space with gravel and rebar and metal fencing in preparation for the pouring of the new pad.  They put up barriers to keep people out of there, but that didn't seem to stop some.  This van pulled up to the school - after the day custodian left and with just the secretary, myself, and the evening custodial supervisor there somewhere cleaning.  Watching through the window in the office we couldn't imagine what to expect out of this van with the window covered over in tape and plastic. We saw two guys get out of the van and open the back of it.  One grabbed a box out of it and then disappeared from view.  Well, the reason he disappeared was because he was tiptoeing across the blocked off area and just walked right into the school because apparently they have been forgetting to look this door at night.  We asked the guy what he was doing there and he just said that he was making a delivery.  That was a little suspect due to the condition of the vehicle.  We've never had a delivery like that before.  

And this van we spotted on the Garden State Parkway on our way to Cape May.  

Hope you have a wonderful weekend - I've got many pictures from last night's sunset that I have to go through - it was stellar!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Cape May in a Day and Back to Barnegat Bay

We took a ride to Cape May last weekend and after we were through strolling through our favorite haunts, we stopped at the Lobster House for a late lunch.  Grabbing a table by the railing (we were eating outside on the dock), we were, shall I say "joined" by this guy.  He flew down to the railing and then would get up enough courage to try to fly to the table.  Now, we hadn't yet gotten our meals but we did have drinks on our tray and the previous group had left one lone shrimp shell and two pats of butter on the table (the kind in the foil wrappers) and he definitely was eyeing something up.

Thinking it was the shrimp shell he wanted I flicked it off the table. Nope, that wasn't it.  He dove at the table again and HWNSNBP shooed him away.  And then a lady at the table next to us decided that she would share a french fry with him and tossed one onto the chair next to me.  He was quick to grab it, and I was quick to grimace at her for further inviting him to pester us, but he just hopped on back up to the railing when he was done as he hadn't yet scored his treasure.

As I pointed my cell phone camera at him he looked me in the eye and then suddenly dove toward the table once again, grabbed one of the golden pats of butter and flew off.  I quickly hid the remaining pat so he would be on his way and he was, thankfully, so we could eat our lunch without having to protect it from him.  Of course we would never feed the gull or any bird something like that, we just never thought that would be of interest to him or her.  And then, of course, the french fry lady wanted to know what it was that he took off the table and when we said the butter, her male counterpart added that he hoped that the bird found a roll somewhere to go with it.

The ship that was docked next to us had this beautiful bird painted on the side though we couldn't see the name of it.  

And, not to bore you with pictures of food, but I had a tuna melt and HWNSNBP had a crabcake sandwich (and helped me finish what I couldn't).

Later that evening, back at the condo in Barnegat, we met up with our Table 7 friends and all took a walk over to the dock to check out the weekly Saturday night concert just about at sunset.  And what a sunset it was!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dare To Get Dirty - Sketchy Thank You

It'll be a year next week that I had my back surgery.  Though I can't say that this past 12 months haven't been a challenge and I have some residual numbness in my foot, I do not have any pain.  Now and then there'll be a twinge down my leg but nothing like I was experiencing last summer.  I've lost weight and get more exercise than I've had in a very long time.  I feel good.  And I am grateful to a lot of people for helping me get to this point.

During one of my office visits I mentioned to my doctor that I wasn't looking for "Normal". "Normal is as elusive as a unicorn.  It doesn't exist."

Working on one of the challenges this week, I decided to illustrate the second part of my quote - "I'm Happy to Be a Zebra in a Party Hat!"

At the time of my visit my doctor said he liked that thought and would have to remember it - so I decided to make a card out of it

which will have that second line on the inside along with a note of how I'm doing and saying a simple thank you.  

(Because really, once your body goes through a trauma it never is the same, and we can't just dwell on what we can't do, but focus on how we can do things differently.)

Dare to Get Dirty - A Plethora of Challenges - Take 1

I love to visit Splitcoaststampers for ideas and to learn new techniques.  They are such a wonderful community of cardmakers, but also show their creativity in many other ways.  I belong to the Fan Club which, for a small yearly fee, allows me certain privileges.  One of them is to participate in the Dare To Get Dirty Challenges that they post in August.  

I partially participated last year, and wanted to give it a go again this year. Notice, I did not say I'd be doing all of them.  I realized after I initially wasn't able to start taking part until two days after it started that I wouldn't be able to accomplish that feat.  Still, I plan to make a dent in what I do do. (Yes, Rachel, if you're reading this, I said do do!)

There's one caveat to posting these cards - I can tell you who the challenge hostess was, but I cannot tell you what the challenge was.  That information is only privileged to Fan Club Members. (Cardmakers out there, if you don't belong, you're missing out on some wondrous card sharing.)

This was done for Lydia's challenge - DTGD15UnderstandblueA - (I know this may be gibberish to you, but anyone visiting here from Splitcoaststampers will know what those codes mean.

Those are Mike's seahorses fussy cut, and SU's Sea Street, By the Tide, and Cheesecloth.  The starfish are Memory Box dies and I've embellished with a few green and Bermuda Bay sequins.  

And this one is Dina's challenge - DTGD15DiniA

Stamps are Faith in Nature and Sheltering Tree.  I used the Pretty Print EF and my oval dies.  I know it's odd to see a black ribbon, but I wanted a neutral to coordinate with all the colors and liked this the best.  The base is Pear Pizzazz, with a layer of Strawberry Slush.  The pear is watercolored with Barely Banana, Strawberry Slush, and Pear Pizzazz inks.

Here's a close-up of Jan's - DTGD15JanTink 

The quilt squares are from an old SU set called Quilt Quips and the sentiment comes from Holiday Home.  The Celtic Square Die was a gift from Sabrina.  I also used the Handpicked framelets and my X-Cut Quilting EF.  The images were colored with SU markers.

And the whole card

So let me run off and try to get a couple more done!  Thanks for looking.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Jingle Belles - Catching Up - Inspiration Photo and Vintage

Having actually done some Fishmas baking recently it was serendipitous to have a Christmas cookie photo inspiration.  Although my Fishmas cookies were not decorated like those in the picture.  Maybe next time I'll try that if I can find a fish cookie cutter.  But I digress............. I took some of the colors of the photo inspiration and some of the shapes and there was a baking theme in there too that came through with my Tasha Tudor stamp (even though they've baked and are decorating a gingerbread house).  I have some lovely paper gifted to me by one of the Jingle Belles that had trees in just the right colors, and a MS border punch that contained gingerbread cookies.  Found one of those SU corduroy buttons and some thick baker's twine (hey, there's another tie in to the baking theme, ha!).

I think it needs a little message somewhere.... maybe in small type.... as yet to be determined.

But you can see the photo below - don't you just love those colors? (Secret - I'm actually planning on a lighter shade of that blue for the stamp cave if we ever get around to it! With red accents too!)

So now let me do a little catching up. I don't know why this didn't get posted last week. I came home from work last Monday juiced about the Try a New Technique challenge that I saw on Splitcoast posted by Sabrina - Cathedral Window Patchwork.  Her instructions were so spot on and the theme for the Jingle Belle challenge was vintage or retro.  I thought about how vintage quilts are and wanted to meld the two together.  Came home and managed to get the card done fairly quickly and even photographed it and set up this post and then Tuesday came, and then Wednesday came, and then Thursday I saw in my feed the post from Jingle Belles highlighting the cards of the challenge and was immediately deflated because I had obviously forgotten all about posting my card there and in the Splitcoast gallery.  Oh well - it's not the end of the world because I can still post it here.

I found this non-directional, small print paper, my punches (round and square), a new Sizzix die, and the poinsettia die and voila!  (Well, it really wasn't magical, but it didn't take that long either.)  

I don't know if you can see the gold pencil and shimmer paint highlights on the edges of the holly leaves and also on the corners of the folded circles that were a little ragged after folding.  And let me just say that if this were a real quilt that I was making I would have been a whole lot more careful about how I folded the circles so that the stripes on the back matched.  

Well let me mosey on over to the Jingle Belles to see what other wonderful creations the ladies have come up with this fortnight.  Click here to see for yourself.