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.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Couple of School Projects

The trees in front of my school put on quite a show in the fall.  It's like a rainbow of colors.  The yellow, orange, red and purple trees.  The evergreen shrubs and of course the blue ski on a clear day. All the colors in the rainbow.  

HWNSNBP and I had our hands in a couple of projects around the school this fall.  He built this bench from some plans I found on the internet (in fact he's built 3 already), and I whipped up this ghost made from a tomato cage, some bubble wrap, a couple of white pillow cases, and sunglasses. We snuck over to the school under cover of darkness on Halloween morning and placed this little vignette just outside the office window (just to the left of the entryway pictured above) so the kids would see it when they arrived at school.  

Around the back was another project.  We have these raised beds for planting that a boy scout working on his community service project put in several years ago.  Over the past few years they have gone unused.  I mentioned to the GATE teacher earlier in the school year that we should do something with them, like have a scarecrow building contests between the grades.  She thought that sounded pretty cool and along with our new guidance counselor they turned it into a project based on the lessons they were having during Red Ribbon Week.  The theme for Red Ribbon Week was YOLO - you only live once - and they talked about how you need to make healthy choices and stay away from drugs to make something out of your life.  The classes were challenged to make a scarecrow in the form of something they could aspire to be if they made the right choices.  

Each homeroom was provided with a scarecrow form/cross that I volunteered HWNSNBP to put together.  You should have seen the faces when I carried the prototype into school.  It looked like a wooden crucifix.  Our PTO gave each glass some of their "party" money to put towards the components of the scarecrows.  The classes brainstormed their ideas and they then brought in the clothing that they were going to use.  On Halloween, the homeroom moms helped the kids assemble their scarecrows as part of their party time.  

The next day they were taken outside and displayed in the raised beds.
(One of the things below is not like the others.)

Again I volunteered HWNSNBP to dig the holes.  It turned out to be a little more complicated than just digging a hole.  He dug the holes and in each hole he buried a length of pvc pipe that the scarecrow stake just barely fit into so that they would be very stable.  On the day that we went over to the school to do that part it began raining and we tried to get it all done, but we were soaking wet and he could no longer hold onto the post hole digger, so we had to go back the next night to finish the last two holes.  

Below you can see how they all looked.  Creepy and cool at the same time I think.  And on the fence to the left, those pieces of paper were the write-ups that the classes did explaining what walk of life their scarecrow was from and how they came up with that.  The district administrators, our office staff, and the township officials were asked to vote on the best from grade 4 and the best from grade 5.  The winning scarecrows are going to be moved to the Municipal Building and displayed for the rest of the month.  

Getting a little closer to the left..............

........... and to the right.   

The GATE teacher and our guidance counselor had the leadership council students make thank you notes for HWNSNBP.  He was quite tickled to read them all.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Trying a Technique and a Few Fall Cards

Have you ever heard of Serendipity Squares?  I vaguely remembered learning about this technique quite a few years ago when I was just starting out stamping.  Cleaning out and organizing things in the craft room takes a lot of time especially when I keep coming up with things that either I've been meaning to do or things that I've been meaning to use.  I just recently cleaned out some sample books that I had from years ago and while I was going through them came across the sample from a class we did where one of the featured techniques was Serendipity Squares.  So, having all of the necessary materials readily at hand, I wanted to revisit it.

I took some scraps of dsp and cardstock that were on the table and leaving the largest piece intact, tore the others up and glued them randomly to the  base piece.

Then I picked out some stamps that I could randomly stamp over the paper in VersaMark ink and then embossed with black embossing powder.  

I took that piece and cut it up into 1" squares.  I rearranged them on the table until I found an arrangement that I liked.  

Those pieces were then glued to a solid color piece.

And that piece was then added to another solid panel and then a card base.  You might not be able to see it too well, but the orange panel and the kraft base were stamped with plain VersaMark using the same stamps that I used on the squares.

I did add the thick baker's twine before I glued everything together.  

I really like how it turned out and wound up using it as a birthday card for a coworker.  

I also found a couple of these pumpkins that I had colored but had not assembled into cards yet and added them to some similar bases.  These are going to go out for Thanksgiving wishes.

To this one I added a little strip of cork and a few button leaves threaded with twine.

This last card was from the scrap box.  The oval had the inking on it already, I just added the stamped feather and gave that some gold highlights.  The centers of the flowers were rolled cardstock coils I found in the scrap box.  I dabbed some gold Wink of Stella on the edges of them and also gave some more sparkle to the tips of the black flowers.  

I should have gotten these out for Halloween, but will be glad to use them for Thanksgiving coming up in the next few weeks.  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Inktober (picture heavy)

I don't know where I first saw it, but as I read a little about it, I decided I would try Inktober for the month of October.  As I understood it, the goal is to do a drawing each day of the month in ink.  So then I had to personally define what I was using as ink and I decided that ball point pens, gel pens, and markers all contained ink and those were the tools that I would predominantly use. Pencil was used only for shading - nothing was sketched first in pencil (which explains the fuzzy chin on the sketch below).  And let me apologize first thing for the poor photos.  I mainly took these to post on Instagram not thinking to save them to a folder first before deleting so I retook them, but in very poor light.  I'll know better in the future.

I did start on October 1st with the first thing that I saw - this picture of my grandson which I sketched in ballpoint pen on a sheet of notepad.  Since I was planning to go forth for the month I found an index card notepad on a ring to use and just added in this first one.  There were a few days I skipped and a few days with just some doodling and a couple I should have just left out.  




A few of these are begging for more color, or something more.  But there are a couple that I am more than happy with.  So all in all it was a good experiment and if I remember I think I might like to do it again next October.