Thursday, December 29, 2016

Enrichment Day

The last day of school before our winter break is usually a single session day, meaning we have a day with just enough hours to give us credit for a full day without it actually being a full day.  On this day our middle school does a special event - an Enrichment Day.  Teachers are asked to sign up to teach enrichment classes instead of the regular curriculum classes.  These are meant to be both informative and fun.  I was lucky my principal gave me release time to be able to teach a zentangle class again this year.

These are the tiles our 11 students completed.  In the second part of the class, which is held after I return to my school to prepare for dismissal, the students also completed some ornaments which I had left for them.  They were a very good and focused group and got some very good results.

The teacher who is responsible for creating and organizing this day always prepares a little welcome treat for the presenters.  

This is my example of the 3-D tangled ornaments.  They are made from regular copy paper.  The pattern is available here at Hattifant (scroll down for the free pattern or purchase preprinted patterns). You decorate the three strips, score the curved lines, cut out the strips, weave them together (I used tape to hold the rings together - you won't see it), and push in the scored areas.  The link also has a video for construction.  I printed out the blank page and encouraged the students to use their own tangles to decorate them.  Unfortunately, I did not see the finished projects as I had to return to work, but I'm told they did a great job.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Swan in the Fog on Boxing Day

Some people celebrate Boxing Day the day after Christmas.  From what I gather the day is associated with fox hunts, leftovers, collecting for charities and more.  We (meaning our family) don't celebrate Boxing Day as such, but we do go in search of pretty leftovers.  

Usually this means visiting some of the stores that we either did or did not get to before Christmas and check out what is now on clearance. We also purchase our calendars that day as they are usually 50% off.  The choices may be limited, but we always find something suitable.  

We were very surprised that there were not a lot of people out and about the morning after Christmas. Usually the places we go are much busier, but the fact that there were no crowds was definitely a plus.  One of our favorite places was a big disappointment, but the others were not.  And then, we also learned that there are stores that are normally not open on Mondays and weren't that day so we couldn't check them out.  We shopped locally at home early in the morning and then headed to the condo to check things out in that area. 

All in all, it was a very relaxing and productive day even though the weather was a bit dreary.  The swans were enjoying the afternoon in the fog though.  Capturing them in the fog was a little difficult but I was determined to get at least one picture.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Christmas Elf Strikes Again in 2016

I know I don't have to, but each year I try to make something small for the staff at my school to sneak into their mailboxes.  Since there are about 60 in our building, it is sometimes a conundrum trying to come up with something that won't take long and also that won't be that expensive.  

While I've been rearranging my craft space I've come across many things that I had been saving for future projects and as luck would have it, I found a passel of keys that I had asked for when our school changes all the classroom door locks several years ago.  I got this idea from Crafts by Amanda.

I started by having my elf helper-in-residence spray paint them white for me.

Then I took some Posca Pen markers and put faces on them.

I purchased the pompoms (with a coupon) and grabbed a bag of t-shirt scraps cutting them into little scarves.

The pompoms became earmuffs.  Amanda used bits of pipe cleaners for the band part of the earmuffs. I mistakenly picked up a package of sparkly white pipe cleaners which didn't stand out enough against the white snowman and since the opening in my keys was large, it already kind of looked like the connector so I let it go at that.  (I'm thinking now that I could have used a paint marker to make it a darker color, but then again, that would have taken more time and effort.)

Lastly, I raided my ribbon supply and gave them hangers. 

The Christmas elf also likes to send a little something to the secretaries and clerks in the district.  And again, cleaning the craft space made me realize that I have way too much paper hoarded, so I looked for a quick paper project.  

I raided my Christmas paper box and cut several sheets of paper into 2 1/2" squares.  I also cut 1 1/4" squares from red card stock.  I needed 18 of these, but they went quickly.

Each 2 1/2" square was folder first diagonally, turned over and then folded in quarters on the opposite side.  I glued 5 of these folded squares together on the square sides.  I added a length of ribbon to the opened end of each outside corner and then covered the ribbon and that square with the red cardstock.

The only thing that I purchased for these was the beads and they were on a 70% off sale this month.  I slid a glass bead down the length of folded ribbon to the top of the square and then put a knot in the top of the ribbon so the bead would not slide off.

Here they are all folded up.  I wrote Merry Christmas on the red squares.

I slide these each into an individual envelope labeled as follows:

Slide bead up and stop at knot
Bring two red ends around to kiss
Slide bead down and stop at top
Now you are a star at this!

(I tested the directions on HWNSNBP and he got it so I knew they would.)

When you follow the directions you get a paper star ornament.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Wishing you peace, love, and happiness this Christmas and always!

Ryan sitting atop his new toy chest grandpa made for him.  My input - the monogram. The rest was all grandpa - a work of love.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Card Trio

Still have a couple more cards to get done.  On this one I tried the trees my blogging buddy Lauren recently did a tutorial on.  She shows how to turn a tree into a forest using the negative and positive from her die cut tree.  My tree die is on a plate with a bunch of other stuff making it pretty impossible to get a good negative "stencil".  So I just went with using her painting technique on the trees.  They came out pretty good, but probably could have used another darker shade of green.  I fell in love with these animal stickers and just had to give them a little tree in the forest to decorate.

I don't know why, but I suspect it's the color of the background, but this card just did not photograph well. The card base is Early Espresso - a dark brown.  And the panel the tree is on is Cool Carribean which looks more like turquoise in the picture.  The snowflakes on the tree are white with silver embossed snowflakes and I sponged the edges of each one to give them more pop. The tree and branches are embossed in brown EP.  And the sentiment is die cut from silver paper.   Believe me, this is so much prettier IRL - so much so I would like to keep one for myself.   

This last card is based on a card I saw on Pinterest by Rambling Rose Studio.  I changed it up by using what I had left of that white and gold woodgrain paper I had (made 3 of these).  I used three of the swirl dies in matte gold, Brown Sugar, and shiny metallic gold paper.  My card base is Chocolate Chip and the ribbon is brown grosgrain with white snowflakes held together in the middle with some Tim Holtz jingle bell brads.  I didn't put a sentiment on the outside.  Again, the picture doesn't do it justice.

So at this point I figure I'm still in need of 6 cards.  I have 3 or 4 in progress which is good, but I had hoped to be done by now.  Of course, I never would be this far along if it weren't for the Jingle Belle Challenge blog which keeps me moving on Christmas cards all year long.  

The tree is up and little by little the decorations are appearing.  I lost 4 days to a sinus infection last week, including the weekend, so I'm not as far along as I hoped to be.  

Good news is the first batch of marshmallows are done!   Gotta find some red hots to make my cinnamon marshmallows.  The store that I usually get them at doesn't carry them anymore.  I had just about enough left to make a half batch tonight.  We'll keep looking.

Friday, December 9, 2016


I could go back to the Jingle Belles October challenge of using a "creature" to give a reason for making this card, however, the reason I made this card was because I found these cool papers during one of my organizing sessions and I had to figure something to do with them.  The stripey paper reminded me of handmade wool blankets you might find in Peru and how serendipitous that I had a new, unused llama stamp.  I thought that llama with the light necklace might want to decorate some stripey trees.  

Yeah, this card is out there, I know.  And I actually made TWO.  Now to figure out who's going to get them?

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.