Sunday, January 31, 2016

Photo Finish

HWNSNBP asked me what I was doing as he watched me trying to take a selfie.  I really don't like pictures of myself but the final prompt for this month is SELF.  It has been a fun month of prompts in Clare's Photo Challenge and a good way to start off the year creatively.  

Wrapping up with a couple of other projects that I finished this past week......

This sliver of wood was part of a shim that the construction works discarded when they were building our garage this fall.  I picked it up on a whim thinking a lighthouse would look good on it, but it took me a while to actually sit down and do it.  I sketched the Barnegat Lighthouse in pencil and then used watercolors to paint it.  Not sure that was the best medium to use, but it was just a whim.  I think I'll tack it up in the garage somewhere.

And attempting to straighten up my work table I came across some pieces of projects that never came to pass.  This label swing card needed some work.  I had the white label ready and found some flowers that had been stamped in the matching color.  Then I took a new embossing folder and embossed the leaves on the right panel.  I used a stamp from Summer Silhouettes to add the leaves on the left panel.  

The variegated effect was quite accidental.  The stamp didn't quite make a full impression so I took a marker of the same color to fill in the leaves that needed it.  It was the spray just above my finger in the photo above that needed it.  But I liked the way that the leaves took on different intensities with the addition of the color, so I colored over some of the other leaves randomly on the panel.  How do you think it came out?  

I need a couple of birthday cards for the beginning of February so I've got a bit of a start with this one.  I've also got a bigger project going for my daughter-in-law's baby shower which I'll share later on.  And then there's Valentine's Day too.  February looks to be a busy month!

Thanks to Clare for her wonderful January photo prompts and the jump-start to 2016!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Photo Challenge/INSPIRATION

Sometimes I think that I have too much inspiration around me which becomes overwhelming.  But I do get inspiration from many sources.  This picture shows a color inspiration.  Red and white items I've either bought or saved/salvaged from the trash.  It's not that I'm cheap because I can be inspired to start a project knowing that I'm going to need to buy some kind of special tool, or invest in more of something than I'll actually need if I really want to do it.  But I have to admit that I do get a lot of inspiration from the dollar store, the Dollar Spot at Target, and the now $1.50 bins at Michael's. Somehow I don't mind if I've plunked down a couple of bucks at those places if I don't actually let the inspiration evolve to fruition.  

These things pictured are a prime example.  The chevron paper bag, the gingham fabric bag, and the spool of red and white striped grosgrain ribbon are all from the Target Dollar Spot.  The bag of white paper shreds, the white and red ribbon bow, and the red snowflake ribbon are salvaged from Christmas gift packaging.  The most expensive thing you see here is the spool of red and white baker's twine that was still a bargain at 60% off at the Crate and Barrel after-Christmas clearance.

Using red and white as my inspiration I can turn these items into, maybe, a birthday, Valentine's Day, or Christmas project.  They could be the basis for a red and white themed card challenge.  I might add some buttons or sequins, or even pick one thing of another color to showcase with these colors as the background.  

Color and pictures, sounds and words, smells and tastes, and textures are representative of our five senses and all very inspiring.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Photo Challenge/NEON

Every time I see a box of highlighters and their NEON colors I am taken back to the 60's, and then again to the 80's. 
In the 60's, when I was very young, neon colors and black lights were all the rage.  One of the special effects that we had at our dance recitals were costumes with neon colors that glowed in the dark when they turned the stage lights down and the black lights on.  It was very "psychedelic". 
My uncle, who was more like an older brother to my siblings and I being only 9 years older than me, got married in the late 60's and the dresses that the girls in the wedding party wore were long, neon green with 1" white polka dots, short-sleeved, button down the front, and white Peter Pan collars.  With white babies breath crowns for our hair. Fashionable for the time.
Then in the 80's, when my daughter was slightly younger than I was during the 60's there was a resurgence of these colors in the fashion world. 
They say that history repeats itself.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Jingle Belles - Oh Christmas Tree Again/Photo Challenge - Trees

Talk about squeaking it in!  I ran home from work (well, not really, I drove) and I quickly ran upstairs (well, not really, I had a little snack first), and then I got busy putting this together from the pieces that I had pulled out last night.  The colorburst background was a failed experiment for Rachel's birthday card last week, but luckily, I seldom throw anything away (much to my family's chagrin most of the time, though we're not buried in paper yet!).  

The trees are a Kottage Kutz die and the swirly snow is from Memory Box.  The thing that took so long was tracing around the glitter-paper swirls and then fussy-cutting to have the white snow beneath the curls.  

Yes, it does look warped in the picture from the background paper not being flattened out enough, but I'll put it between some book pages and it should settle down enough by next December to look perfect.

I took a close-up of the trees and snow hoping to show the sparkle, but not sure I achieved that.  

Oh, and I added some white pearl paint (can't think of the darn name of it at the moment, so if you really want to know, leave me a comment and I'll back to you on that), to the tops of the branches of the trees.  

The one thing that I did not do after our epic snow storm this weekend was take pictures of the trees full of snow, however, I think that most of it blew off before daylight anyway because it was pretty darn windy.  At least that's what I'm telling myself right now for a missed opportunity for today's photo challenge prompt of TREES.  

Okay, check out the rest of the "Christmas Tree Forest" at the Jingle Belles blog, why dontcha!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Jingle Belles - Oh Christmas Tree

You might have guessed that this prompt needs a Christmas tree.  I have an assortment of trees on the background paper and a very special shaker sticker tree.  The Crate Paper sticker was a gift as was the MME background paper.  I'm pretty sure the card base is SU's Pear Pizzazz and the sequins are SU's Bermuda Bay.  

The twig wreath die was a Christmas gift also (this is why I like websites with wish lists that you can share) and I took it out of it's packaging to use it and promptly misplaced the package somewhere on my shambles of a craft table.  So I can't give the deets on it right now. I gave up looking for it until I get some daylight.  Those little sparkly berries are also part of that die though.

The sentiment comes from the Snowflake Card Thinlit die set.  And I found a piece of dark red ribbon to add under the tree.  

I promised myself that I would get two cards done for each challenge so I have to light a fire under myself when I get home from work tomorrow to meet the deadline.  In the meantime, you can catch all the other beautiful trees here at the Jingle Belles blog.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

Photo Challenge/Sky

I know there's not much sky visible but the sun looked so pretty setting through the trees and casting it's light on the snow as to illuminate the lantern with it's glow.

Happy Birthday Chickadee!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Photo Challenge/Photo and Quote

A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky - unbidden - and seems like a thing of wonder.  Susan Orlean

Blue jays in the blizzard.  Locally 27.5 inches were recorded.  It was hard to get a precise measurement here with the winds.  HWNSNBP stuck the yardstick into the snow accumulating on top of the picnic table outside the back of the house, but once the winds picked up, the snow became more drift-like.  He and our neighbor were out several times during the day to use the snowblower on the driveways.  The snow stopped early last night and they were able to take one more pass this morning and then got the shoveling done.  They're not youngsters anymore so I worry that they'll overdo it (as do my children who were texting throughout the day cautioning their father to take it easy).  The streets are barely passable today so school has already been cancelled for tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Photo Challenge/Snack + Getting Ready for a Blizzard

Driving to work this morning the roads were already patterned with the brine solution they lay down before a snow or ice event and we are certainly expecting a snow event.  A blizzard warning has been issued for the state of New Jersey and lucky us, we lie in the band with the highest accumulation projection.  They're saying 20" or more.  Those forecasted amounts are bound to change hour-by-hour through the night and all day tomorrow.  As I'm typing there's a good inch out there already.  

Brined Road
Friday's at work are also called "Fat Friday".  Two or three staff members sign up for 2 Fridays each year to bring in breakfast/brunch to share with all the others who have signed up.  Technically, if you're not signed up, you do not partake, but since the food is left in the faculty room, it is an honor system, and I really don't think anyone minds that much if a non-participant grabs a cookie or bite of something.  

Bagels are a favorite choice.  These are fresh bagels, not the frozen kind.  Today I opted for a sesame with cream cheese.  I passed on the breakfast egg casserole and the chips and salsa, and some of the other sweets.  Instead I added fruit, an oatmeal cookie and a half of a brownie.  (I know...... I should have left out the cookie and brownie, but they were calling my name!)  Just so you know, for lunch I had my regular breakfast which is a large portion of raspberries and blackberries and a cheese stick, so I didn't feel guilty about my choices this morning.

Fat Friday Breakfast/Snack
And I thought, when I got home from work, that I should take note of what's blooming in the house right now as we await being snowed-in this weekend.

Miniature African Violet



Begonias and Geranium




The only thing with fragrance is the paperwhites and they are lingering longer than they usually do.  I kind of get tired of the poinsettias by now, but I can't bring myself to tossing them out when they still are blooming.  My yellow Christmas cactus had one bud on it but for whatever reason, it dried up before it flowered which was a little disappointing.  And two of my other orchids have buds on them and will bloom shortly.  

I have all the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies ready for baking tomorrow even though it's not an official school snow day being a Saturday.  I have some new flavored chips that I am going to give a go with and after I try a cookie from each batch, I will pack up the rest to take to school for the staff on Monday. (Secretly, I'm hoping for at least a delayed opening on Monday, if not a snow day, but that would mean a heck of a lot of snow had fallen!)

And I definitely want to fit some creativity in this weekend other than baking.  Keeping my fingers crossed!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Photo Challenge Combo - Favorite Photo of Me, Old, Childhood Memory

Actually I'm sharing a childhood memory with a favorite old photo of me...... and my sister.

That's me on the left and my sister Andrea.  I was the oldest in the family (the oldest of 5, 3 girls and 2 boys).  Andrea was born 11 months and 20 days after me.  She was early and I was huge. I wanted to take dancing lessons and even though it was a bit of a financial stretch for my parents, they made it possible.  Of course, my sister wanted to do everything that I did which is why you see two ducks here.  Karen, my other sister was too young for lessons at the time.  But she joined us the next year.

Yes, we were ducks.  And the song we did our tap routine to at the end-of-year recital was called "A Wiggle and a Waddle and a Quack, Quack, Quack".  

Our hour-long lesson consisted of 1/2 hour of ballet and 1/2 hour of tap.  I loved those lessons.  My mother would sit on the benches that lined the dance studio along with the other mothers with their notebooks writing down the names of the steps so we could practice at home.  

The barre was on the back wall and the front wall was full-length mirrors.  Above the mirrors were framed pictures of our teacher Miss Anne in her younger days.  She had danced on Broadway with James Cagney at one point in her career.  

I took dancing lessons until I was 16 and probably would have continued if our teacher hadn't retired at that time due to a health issue we found out later was breast cancer.  My parents struggled with the expense for all those years but somehow always came up with the money for the lessons and for the recital costumes.  I'm very grateful for the sacrifices they made.

Someday I may share a story about dancing for the soldiers at Fort Dix, but for now I will "shuffle off to buffalo".

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Photo Challenge/Reaching Up

Coming home after meeting friends for dinner this evening I realized that I had missed yesterday's prompt - REACHING UP.  Then a bit of inspiration struck as I sat at the train crossing down the block from our house watching those gates reaching back up after the 7:00 train had passed.

We live roughly a quarter of a mile from the North Branch Train Station, which is really just a train stop now as the station itself was lost in a fire many years ago before we even moved here.  Still, it is a stop on the Raritan Valley commuter line that goes into NYC.  We've never taken the train to NY from here only because the trains don't run back out here past a certain hour of the night, so we usually leave from a station farther up the line.  

I've lived near "the tracks" all my life.  As a child we were half a block away - almost a stone's throw if you had a very good arm.  We were brought up to respect the imminent danger of playing on or near the tracks, still, there were times we laid pennies on the rails as trains approached and after they passed we would search for the flattened pieces of copper.  Sometimes we were lucky and found them, often times not.  And I seem to remember being told, in that way that grown-ups tell you things to scare you away from doing dangerous things, that laying pennies on the tracks could cause the train to derail and fall over on you.  Was it true?  I don't know, but it was always in the back of my mind.  Didn't really stop us though.  Wish I could find one of those pennies to show you.

The noise of the trains never kept me from sleeping.  Sometimes in the summer, with the windows open, a longgggggggggg freight train would pass by slowlyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.  The clacking on the tracks was musical, and if the conditions were just right, you might just be able to hear the clanging of the bell at the crossing which was eight blocks away, or the screeching of the train stopping to deposit it's freight at the JM Plant (Johns-Manville, when it was located in Manville, NJ).  And as those trains unloaded, you could hear the motor rumbling, the cars would roll forward, the screech of the brakes, and then the boom as the cars were knocked together as the train stopped again, and again, and again, until it was unloaded and ready to move on.  There was a double track there, so sometimes other trains did pass going in the opposite direction, whooshing by.

When HWNSNBP and I got married we found an apartment in a two-story house on the other side of town right across the road from the other rail line that went through town, though by that time, that line was not used very often.

And then we moved to Branchburg where we're actually the furthest from the tracks that I've been. It's not as easy to hear the clacking of the trains, or the clanging of the bell but when I do it doesn't bother me.  The commuter trains move much faster than the freight trains and here they do share the same rails, just not at the same time.  Meaning they go through here so fast sometimes you don't even realize there's a train.

As I sat at the crossing this evening, I wasn't sure whether the approaching train would be stopping or not, and wished that I had pulled out my phone (camera) sooner because being the first at the crossing I had a bird's-eye view of the train approaching and the green, red and white lights were so pretty. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

January Sympathy

Our family circle grew a little smaller recently, but this card is for one of our PTO mom's who recently lost her mother to complications from MS.  I have had the pleasure to work with this lady for the past year and a half.  She has a tremendous amount of knowledge and energy when it comes to planning school activities and I was so sad to hear that her mom passed away.

I used some new dies and a monochromatic color scheme for this with just a touch of color with the green.  

Photo Challenge Catch-Up/Out and About, On the Screen, and Unusual

 ..... and you might consider all of them to be a little bit of a stretch.

Starting with OUT and ABOUT.  This was Friday's prompt, but other than work that day, there was no other out and about for me.  So I waited until Saturday when I knew we would be out and about. Trying to fit a lot into one day which included grocery shopping and delivery of food to my mother-in-law, traveling to the condo, dropping off our belongings, up to our son's to help with a house project, and then back to the condo for the evening.  Lunch consisted of a sandwich picked up at Wegman's while we were doing the shopping.  Beef on Kimmelwick.  Forgot the napkins and a drink, but managed to go without both for a bit until we could make a pit stop.  I'm sure that the scenery would have been a much more interesting picture had it not been such a dismal day.

And this is a stretch for ON the SCREEN as I'm not 100% sure that this would be considered a screen, but on the way back to the condo we had to stop at a $Tree for something and this marquee screen captured my attention.  Just what a Cuiken Burger is I have no idea!  This was outside a Burger King restaurant and I'm fairly certain this is for their new chicken burger, but, yeah, no, this did not make sense even if they were trying to make the U an H, chicken would still be spelled wrong.

This morning we went over to LBI and the inlet in the hopes of maybe seeing some harlequin ducks, but there were no ducks in the inlet and it was bitterly cold. So we hopped into the truck and took the road along the water towards Viking Village hoping to maybe catch some kind of waterfowl.  There were some ducks pretty close to the road so HWNSNBP stopped the truck and I stepped out to take some pictures.  Does this look like an UNUSUAL duck to you? 

If you look close enough, and looking at the resized picture below I'm sure you can see that there's actually more than one duck there.  There are three.  They were peacefully swimming near the edge of the water and started pedalling away quickly as I approached.  But when I snapped the picture, the noise of the camera sent them airborne.  (And, thankfully, I had the presence of mind to click again to catch them mid-air and not blurry.)

They must still be jumpy from duck hunting season. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Photo Challenge/Books

I really wanted to take a picture in our school library today but I never got down there.  So instead I captured a stack of some of my papercrafting books.  I'd forgotten about some of them.  I think I need to spend some time leafing through the pages this month. Maybe I'll find some new inspiration from something old.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Photo Challenges/Keepsake(s) and Favorite(s)

Once I thought about it, I couldn't just pick one thing to highlight for today's prompt of KEEPSAKE. Going through my jewelry box, looking for the necklace that belonged to my paternal grandmother who passed away when I was only 1-yr.-old, I touched upon some other keepsakes.  So I thought I'd share those that mean a lot to me.

On the left is the black pearl that my son and daughter-in-law gave me when they returned from their honeymoon in Tahiti and Bora Bora. It was the trip of a lifetime for them. On the right is that necklace I mentioned above.  My grandmother gave it to my mother and my mother, in turn, gave it to me. I wanted to wear it for my wedding but the freshwater pearls were too delicate and unstable. We tried to have it repaired but the jeweler said it wasn't possible. But it remains a treasure to me. 

My mother took me to another jeweler and bought me the diamond chip earrings  in platinum which I did wear on my wedding day.  The cameo's are earrings that my father picked out as a Christmas present.  They were given to me and similar pairs were given to my two sisters for Christmas, two days after my father passed away.  

I share my birthday month with my maternal grandmother (and my sister and husband).  The large-stone ring in the center was my grandmother's.  The stone is very scratched because she wore it so often.  Again, something the jeweler said was irreparable years ago, but I might take it to another one in the future.  The ring to the right was a gift from my grandparents - also my birthstone - and I wore that all throughout high school.  The ring on the left was given to me by HWNSNBP before I left for college.  I presently wear this ring instead of my engagement ring which I had cut off 7 years ago just before my hysterectomy.  The jeweler, in this case, has my diamond and we've been putting off getting it reset.  Something that needs to be done soon.

And these bracelets, the newest among my keepsakes, were given to me by my daughter.  One for Mothers Day and the other for Christmas.

There were other pieces to choose from that also had fond memories attached but these are my FAVORITEs.

If you haven't checked out Clare's January Photo Challenge prompts or her blog, please do.  And Our Beautiful World's prompt for this week is FAVORITE.  I'm curious to see favorite's from around the world.  

Jingle Belles Old and New Card 2

This is definitely one of those cards that looks much better in person.  I was trying to get that dove to look a bit like stained glass using all the colors in the watercolored background that I had sitting on my craft table.  I think maybe the dark pink is a little too intense.  And the PEACE shows up much better in natural light.  Oh well, I kept my goal alive to get two cards done for each challenge.

Speaking of challenges............ darn, I missed the link up by 30 seconds.  Oh well, you can see the rest of the cards here at the Jingle Belles blog.  And oh, my old is the Memory Box PEACE die, the watercolored background and a few retired SU colors (including the card base of Summer Sun), and my new is the dove stamp.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Photo Challenge/Black and White

I think you can interpret this prompt two ways - take a picture of something that is black and white or take a black and white picture.

So I took a picture of part of this month's tangles in my calendar book which I do in black marker on white paper.  These are Contacted, Marnie, and Hua left to right.  

This is the same picture but edited with the Noir filter which I think makes the black and white a little sharper.   

And then there's this - remnants of this afternoon's brief snow shower on my black coat again with the Noir filter which made my black coat appear more truer to it's actual color than the color picture did believe it or not.  

This was a good lesson.  I should try more of those filters in the future. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Photo Challenge/Rust and Guilty Pleasure

These old horseshoes seem to be turning up in our yard the last couple of years.  The real RUST-encrusted one we're pretty sure was a misplaced shoe from an old horseshoe game of ours found near the pit.  The other one, though not as rusty, was found in the front yard, near the road not too long ago, but there haven't been any horses in the area in a long time so we think it was unearthed by Mother Nature from some long ago era.  Both of them are propped up (with the opening facing upward so the good luck doesn't fall out) alongside a tree just outside our backdoor now.

And today's prompt of GUILTY PLEASURE was an easy one.  I love, love, love these butterscotch caramels and HWNSNBP not only gave me two bags of butterscotch, he got me two bags of Celtic sea salt caramels too.  He said he went to the candy store with the intention of only getting the sea salt ones because the last time he was there they told him that they would not be ordering the butterscotch anymore.  But lo and behold they seemed to be waiting for him to come in, and they remembered who he was and were a little taken aback when he came to the register with only the sea salt packages.  They told him that they had ordered them especially for him (me) and he had to explain that he didn't know that they were there.  So of course he bought some and I am happy that they had them and that he did!  These should last until my birthday.

This May Be Too Late BUT.............

If you follow this blog via Google Friend Connect and you do not have a Google account you may not get to see this blog through Friend Connect after tomorrow.

Just know that it's not my doing please.  I haven't dropped any followers but Google may drop you which makes me sad.

You can go to Bloglovin' and type in Paper Vernissage to follow me through there if you like.

Sorry for the late notification.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Photo Challenges/Calm, Ordinary, and Makes Me Smile

Last Sunday HWNSNBP (He Whose Name Shall Not Be Published) and I took a ride to the Raptor Trust to see the birds there.  They've recently rescued an eagle that was shot in the leg and although we knew that that bird was still in the bird hospital there, we thought it would be nice to take a stroll through and see who was outdoors.  All the birds in the cages were quite CALM, I think mostly because it was pretty cold that day.  We could see remnants of various rodents that had been fed to them in their cages so maybe they were just full and resting like humans do sometimes after a filling meal.  In any case, the cages are lined with netting so taking pictures of the birds is not a clear shot.

And the treat was finding an owl that was not captive but hanging out in a tree nearby.

These eagles are not the recently rescued one.

One of the workers there had this hawk out of it's enclosure so we got a pretty good look at it.

The relative CALM of the captive birds was quite the opposite in the yard this morning with our ORDINARY bird visitors.

I think this is a juvenile male cardinal below as it is not brilliant red, but also not quite the coloration of the female.  I was surprised to see him there as they usually only come around very early and very late in the day.  He was cleaning up under the feeder.

And as I was taking pictures of the birds I noticed that HWNSNBP had stuck this little garden marker into the trunk of the tree which did MAKE ME SMILE.

Our Beautiful World was looking for CALM pictures this week and Clare has a daily challenge for January that's been pretty fun - why not check them out with me.