Sunday, December 31, 2017

Vacation Week Project(s)

Thank you notes - working in a school office the holidays are full of little unexpected gifts like cookies, candy, etc.  I think it's important to thank those that take the time to remember us.  

I had a few after Christmas purchases and one of them was a couple more rolls of the birch bark wrapping paper from Pier One on sale.  (I may even use it to wrap some gifts next year!) It makes a quick and pretty (I think) background on cards.


Along with some punched circles in different sizes, colors, and one even stamped, I used some wooden snowflakes and when I ran out of those, some punched snowflakes.




HWNSNBP loves this cake and I didn't have time before Christmas to make it but managed to get it done the day after and we've been enjoying it all week.  (Cranberry Cornmeal Cake by Giada DeLaurentis)


This is the mess that's my work space right now.  I'll be doing some major clean up work come the new year.


And I promised a look at the ornaments that I finished for the staff at school.  I couldn't find my gold cording so I had to resort to fishing line.  They seemed to like them.  


Oh, and in this picture you can see the bookshelf that I stuck in the dining room area that's chock filled with journals and crafting books - that's going to be replaced by a new closed cabinet to match the hutch on the left once we can get to the Amish place to order it.  Our Christmas present to ourselves.  




Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Scribble Picnic - CHRISTMASTIME

We're sharing CHRISTMASTIME at the picnic this week.  In some ways I prepare for Christmas all year.  This would mainly be with the cards that I create using the prompts from the Jingle Belles.  This really helps me avoid that December crush getting them ready and I totally enjoy being able to have a variety of cards.  Sometimes, as in this year, I don't get as many done as I need and wind up mass-producing the balance with a simple, yet still pretty card.  The agreement I have with HWNSNBP is that I make the cards and he signs, stuffs, and mails them.  I have a stack of post-it notes with the names of the recipients on that I stick on the cards because I'm not totally comfortable with him picking out who gets what.  


I've cut back on my baking drastically since the kids have grown up and moved out.  In place of the baking I make homemade marshmallows - plain white vanilla and pink cinnamon.  I was in a little bit of a panic early this month as I couldn't find the Red Hots that I use to flavor the cinnamon ones.  But I happened to mention this to my hairdresser and a few hours after my last haircut, she called me to say that she found them while shopping after work.  So I sent my elf, er HWNSNBP out to get them the very next morning and this last weekend the marshmallowing began.


Aren't these the cutest clips helping to keep the parchment paper in place.


I highly recommend using a stand mixer when making these because the hot liquid has to be beaten until if forms pretty stiff peaks which usually takes more than 10 minutes and would probably overheat a handheld mixer.


This step is the most time-consuming.....cutting and dusting all the edges with the rice flour/confectioner's sugar mixture.  


You can flavor the basic mix with your favorite hard candy flavor.  


And I'm going right down to the last minute with this next project.... my Christmas Elf project that I do for my staff at school.  I was going to avoid this this year, however, I got this last minute idea that I thought I could whip up.  I used my Color Burst powders to decorate some sheets of watercolor paper, then used a die to cut out the circles.


I stamped the word PEACE on each one with VersaMark ink and embossed in white EP.  I toyed with the idea of adding a dove to the sky, but I decided aganst it.  Tomorrow I'll puch holes in each one and add some gold cording to make them into an ornament.  


They're simple and inexpensive enough to do for the whole staff, and if I'd counted right, I would have had them done tonight, but I was one sheet short so I'll be "painting" again as soon as I get home from work tomorrow.  That means I'll have to be up early on Friday to sneak into the office before the teachers arrive, place them in the mailboxes and then come back home to properly get ready for work.  I think I'm being sneaky but most people know these little Christmas Elf gifts are from me.  I'll post the finished product tomorrow.  

But right now I'll be headed over to Dotty Hill to see what the other Picnickers are working on this CHRISTMASTIME.  You can check it out here.  

We have next week off, but we'll be back the first week in January.  


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Scribble Picnic - DREIDEL/SPINNING TOP/TEETOTUM

Our Scribble Picnic theme for this week coincides with the beginning of Hanukkah and we could choose DREIDEL or SPINNING TOP or TEETOTUM.  I went with spinning top as most of my painting and drawing paraphernalia is temporarily stashed away.  

Without going into much detail, my mother-in-law passed away at the age of 93 - her quality of life had been failing these last few years and she is at peace now.  So along with getting ready for the holidays, and having her memorial service with family gathering afterwards, I wasn't ready to pull everything out again yet so I went with what was readily available - some origami paper.

I folded the three separate units.


Inserted Unit 2 into Unit 1.


And then Unit 3 into that.


And (hopefully you can see) this is it spinning.


We had our first snow of the season this weekend, the same day that we had the service, and then on Sunday I received notification that one of the teachers in our school district passed away unexpectedly.  His wife also works in the the district so it has touched all of us and left a very foggy atmosphere.  This little spinning top did brighten things up a bit.

I'll be visiting with the Picnickers soon to see what they've brought this week.  You can too if you click here.  And should you wish to join in next week the theme is CHRISTMASTIME.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Scribble Picnic - FINLAND/SCANDINAVIA


I have a penchant for things Scandinavian.  There's a mixture of nature and geometry that really appeals to me.  Not to mention the patterns and contrasts of color.  

In thinking about what I was going to do for this theme I did some research into things Finnish and Scandinavian.  For instance, I love to go to IKEA.  I love their Christmas decorations that are often themed with gnomes and foxes, straw, and stars, white and red color combinations.  BUT, IKEA is based in the Netherlands which isn't part of Scandinavia.  So, I think my love of what I think is Scandinavian encompasses a lot more. 

That said, I think I'm just in love with the folk art of that area of the world.  During my "research" I found a display of little white houses and folk art trees that I was coveting.  There was one tree that captured it all for me.  It was in white but I did mine in black.  This was an exercise in drawing a mirror image trying to get both sides to look symmetrical.  


And this is a very quickly sketched and cut out (with the wrong scissors) snowflake that I was fooling around with this past weekend.  Against the red paper I thought it fit in with the theme.  I might give this another try in the near future with my detail scissors.  


It's off to the picnic now to see what other FINNISH/SCANDINAVIAN goodies everyone else brought this week.  You can take a look too by clicking here.  And again, should you wish to join in next week the theme is DREIDEL/SPINNING TOP/TEETOTUM,

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Jingle Belles - Baby It's Gold (or Silver) Outside

Anyone else do any "Black Friday"/"Small Business Saturday" shopping?  There were some pretty good deals on art supplies if you were an early shopper.  Luckily Rachel was up and out early enough on Friday morning to do an errand for me and grab a set of 72 Prismacolor Pencils with a complimentary set of 12 watercolor pencils for.........$20.00 at ACMoore.  That's a savings of over $100. 

I was out-and-about shopping with a friend on Saturday doing some "Small Business" shopping and we decided to stop in at ACMoore to check if they had any more of those sets that were on sale (it was advertised as a 2-day sale or while supplies lasted).  Needless to say, there were no pencils left. But I did have a coupon for 50% off any item not on sale.  It seems almost sad to say that the only thing in my basket not on sale was a piece of scrapbook paper.  This black paper with silver embossed music on it.  I thought it would make an elegant addition to a Christmas card and since this week's Jingle Belles challenge was to use metallics I was able to use it right away. 


I took the picture against a red sheet of origami paper and now I'm regretting not having put this on a red card base.  Maybe I'll cut the front off and just do that!


You know how tricky it is to get pictures of shiny paper so you'll have to take my word for it that this is much prettier IRL.

Okay, not sure I'll be getting another card done for this challenge, so in case I don't I want to thank Lauren and Steph for another wonderful year of Jingle Belles challenges.  I am so much better off doing these all year long and not waiting until December and I have them to thank for it!!! Merry Christmas ladies!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Scribble Picnic - GENEROUS

Now that we're turning the corner on November and Thanksgiving, it's time to look forward towards Christmas.  Our Scribble Picnic theme for this week is GENEROUS and very apropos for this time of year.  While we did take advantage of good sales this weekend with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, we really do like to cap it off with Giving Tuesday.  We choose a cause  or two that we LOVE, give GENEROUSLY, and feel a sense of GOODNESS.  

I found this quote by Thomas S. Monson that incorporates all of that.  I'm a bit out of practice with my hand lettering skills, but I'm pretty happy with it.   And I loosely used what I remembered from a tutorial at The Postman's Knock for my watercolor decorations. 



We (I) picked a class at Donor's Choose that needed help funding a project and we helped out the birds at The Raptor Trust with our donations this Tuesday as a start to spreading the Spirit of Christmas.  I really do enjoy the giving much more than the receiving.

So now I'll head over to the Picnic and be GENEROUS with my comments.  Won't you join me by clicking here.  And should you like to join in next week, the theme is FINLAND/SCANDINAVIA.  Won't that be fun!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Always Looking UP - Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.  I thought I'd share some sky pics from this week.  A reminder to always look up and be thankful.

A morning full of purple, pink, and orange.  


I officially became a madwoman where sunsets are concerned this week.  I was watching the news and the weatherman showed a picture of the most beautiful orange sunset as it was happening in NYC.  I knew we're just a bit west of NYC so we should be seeing something similar and, sure enough, when I looked outside there was an orange glow in the west.  

I grabbed the camera and the car keys, ran out of the house pulling the door locked, threw the keys at HWNSNBP (who was working outside at the time) and told him "get in the car and drive - you're taking me to that sunset".  

The first few pictures are through the car window as we drove.



And then we came to a place with a pretty much unobstructed view where we could pull over and I could get out and start shooting.  


As it does during sunset, the sky began to darken but it was still pretty dramatic.  


That was the second time that day that I had him drive me to take sky pictures.  When I was driving home from work I looked up and there was a cross in the sky with a cloud that looked like a heart in the middle of it.  Our street is tree-lined so although I could see it through the clouds, there was no clear shot.  


As he was outside as I pulled up, I asked him to take me around the corner to where I could get a clearer shot.  You can see that the cross was starting to degrade by that time and the heart was barely visible, but I thought I'd share the pictures nonetheless.  


There are a lot of things that I'm thankful for - family, friends, the roof over my head and all that, but I'm also thankful for the beauty all around me.  Even though it's not always right in front of my face, it's there.  I just have to remember sometimes to just look up.



Sunday, November 19, 2017

Swans on the Bay

I had to share the pictures that I got of the swans at the bay beach at the end of October.  I went there looking for the sunset, hoping to get a better view from the boardwalk there.  The clouds were not cooperative and I almost walked away....... and then I noticed them...... well, actually my attention went to a car full of  people that pulled up and caused me to look in their direction.  There on the beach were the swans peacefully milling about.  I watched as two of the younger children in the group from the car walked out towards them.  Some of the swans took to the water.  Others just walked a little further away.  


I couldn't believe how beautiful it looked with it's wings poised as if in a balletic position.



As they joined each other again back on the beach they went through a series of head motions.






Two of the people from the car were teenagers and they were dressed in formal attire.  There was a woman with them, I'm assuming one of their mothers.  Apparently they had come to the boardwalk hoping to get some pictures with the sunset as the backdrop.  It was their homecoming dance that evening.  The woman approached me and I thought she might want me to take some pictures of them, but instead she asked if I knew how to pin on a boutonniere.  They had been struggling with it and weren't having any luck.  I gladly took the flower and pin and pinned it on him.  


They thanked me and I looked over towards the swans who had entered the water together again...................


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Scribble Picnic - GIFT WRAP

Our Scribble Picnic theme for this week is GIFT WRAP.  What came to mind was the song from The Sound of Music "My Favorite Things".  I love brown paper packages tied up with string myself.  So that's what I drew...... over, and over, and over.  So basically, my sheet of graph paper can now be used as a sheet, albeit small, of gift wrap.  


(Oh, and look at that.  Of course the close-up shot I choose to use is missing a bow! What are the odds?)


Lot's of packages...... simply gift-wrapped and tied up with string.

Time to check out what the other Picnickers have brought to the picnic this week.  Click here.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Scribble Picnic - COOKIES


You know what's always good to bring to a Picnic?  COOKIES!  An easy, handheld dessert.  And aren't we at the right time of year to start thinking about COOKIES for the holidays.  I spend way too much time online looking at all kinds of things, but I've also picked up some good recipes along the way whether from blogs, Pinterest, Facebook, or websites.  I've even tried some of them.  

When I saw a picture of these Molasses cookies on Facebook I knew that's what I wanted to draw for this week's theme.  I also knew that I wanted to give them a try because they were described as being soft, moist and chewy - three things I look for in a molasses cookie.  So I added the ingredients I did not have to the shopping list for HWNSNBP to pick up.


I should have paid more attention to the recipe than I did because I did not realize that it called for 5 cups of flour.  Oh goodness I thought as I started measuring out things.  This is going to make a ton of cookies.  By the time I had followed the directions and added everything together the batter was right up to the top of the biggest mixing bowl that I have.  I was far past the point of realizing that I should have used the stand mixer as the beaters on my hand mixer were completely submerged up to the mixer itself.  And to top it all off, the butter, which I thought was softened enough apparently wasn't and there were little lumps of butter throughout.  

The oven was warming so I put the bowl on top of the stacked cookie sheets on the stovetop hoping that the butter blobs would melt a little more without cooking the batter in the bowl.  Well, that worked but then the batter was so warm it was too runny to "roll into balls" as the recipe stated.  So I put it all in the refrigerator to cool off and harden up a little.  An hour later, it was cool enough but the batter was way too sticky and soft to roll into balls so I spooned it out onto the parchment paper-covered cookie sheets and baked them.  

Now, if I showed you what the recipe photo looked like, you would see that those cookies were definitely rolled in sugar and were crispy on the outside but crackled with moist insides showing.  Mine were not!  They looked like sandwich cookies you would see made into whoopie pies.  Which makes me think that the recipe did not go with that picture.  

They tasted okay, were soft, but not moist and chewy. They were cakey which is not at all what I was craving.  So after the first two dozen were baked I put the batter back in the fridge and when the cookies were cool, I bagged them up to take to work today.  (You know if you leave food in the faculty room it will disappear like magic!)  The consensus was that they would make good molasses whoopie pies with some cream cheese filling so you know what I'll be doing with that leftover batter this weekend.  

If you want that recipe you can click here.  But I'd rather share my recipe for Ginger Spice Cookies which I am going to make tomorrow.

Ginger Spice Cookies

1 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
small bowl of sugar

Mix flour, sugar, salt, soda and spices in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in shortening.  Stir in molasses and egg.  Chill the dough for a little in the fridge.  

Shape into 1 inch balls, roll in sugar.  Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350ยบ for 10 minutes. Do not over bake or they'll be hard and crisp instead of soft and chewy.  Let cookies cool on rack.

Makes approximately 6 dozen.

Now I'm really craving these cookies, but I want to see what COOKIES all the other Picnickers have brought.  Click here to join me.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Jingle Belles - Not A Creature Was Stirring

Well, I bet you can guess what this challenge is all about.  I have several stamp (sets) that have creatures that I haven't used yet and I had such good intentions of using at least one more of them before tomorrow - let's just see about that.  In any case, this bear, the holly and sentiment is from a Hampton Arts set I picked up last year for myself after buying one for a gift for a friend.  I can't remember if it was a trip to the Target Dollar Spot that encouraged me to do it or not.  You see, they had some pretty nifty washy tape in this black and red combo and another in a black, red, and gray combo which I thought would be perfect to use on Christmas cards.  There's another bear stamp in the set that's Buffalo checked, but I thought this one would stand out more. 


I had a little baking mishap tonight which put me off schedule, but if I hurry home after my dentist appointment tomorrow (the second in two days [consultations - ugh] I might just get that second one in under the wire.  

If I don't, I know I'm going to enjoy checking out the gallery over at the Jingle Belles.  I took a preliminary look and there's a ton of "creatures" lurking about.  

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Sticky Little Trick

I was making a card recently that had a bunch of tiny die cuts that I wanted arranged in a certain way.  So I did what I normally do and laid them out on the front of the card until I liked the way they were arranged.  In the past, I've taken a quick picture with my phone to use as a guide for when I'm ready to glue, but this time I remembered a trick I had seen someone use that involved Press and Seal.

This is the layout that I was aiming for.


Once I had the pieces where I wanted them I took a piece of Press and Seal and covered the whole face of the card, rubbing it slightly to make sure all those die cuts would stick.  


Then I carefully pealed the Press and Seal away from the card and turned it over to reveal the back side of all those die cuts that hadn't moved.  At this point, I added glue to those pieces.  (I use Tombow liquid glue in the bottle.)  


I was able to turn the sheet back over and place it back onto the card front.  I burnished the area where the dies were to get them glued down and then carefully removed the Press and Seal.  (Note:  the darkest pumpkin was not glued down because I wanted it to stand out a bit so I added a dimensional to it and added it at the end.)


This took a lot less time than following the picture and gluing down each element separately and I achieved the layout I was aiming for.  The only thing I would change would be not gluing down the ends of the foliage, but I still like the way this turned out.   And, the Press and Seal is reusable as long as you don't get glue on it.  I was so happy I remembered to try it that I just had to share.

Weekend Wonders

This was the last Saturday in October.  With the sun rising nearer to my rising time and with the positioning of it at this time of the year I was compelled to walk across the street to the dock to capture it both with my phone and my Canon.  








Later that day we took a ride further south to Great Bay Boulevard in Tuckerton and snuck through the little path to the shoreline there to do a little exploring and rock collecting.  


We stopped several times on the road back to watch the birds.




That evening there was a drive-in movie across the street in the lot at the public dock.  They were showing "Hocus Pocus" and I figured since he would be watching college football I could enjoy the movie.  The way the blow-up screen was situated didn't make it possible for me to see from the condo, so HWNSNBP took the car over early and parked it there one hour before the movie was supposed to start.  He was not alone - he had to park in the second row by then, but that was great.  

I walked over at around show time and made myself comfortable in the car.  It was a little bit windy and the screen was blowing around a bit but that settled down.  It was a little too cool though to keep the windows open but they made an announcement to turn your car radio to a certain channel to hear the audio portion.  Which I did.  The wrong way apparently, because after enjoying the movie I could not start the car.  I had totally drained the battery!

It was 9:30 and my husband turns in early but I could see through our front door that he was still up and made the dreaded call to tell him that I couldn't get the car started.  Needless to say, this was not the most pleasant end to a day that was, up to that point, very enjoyable.  He was tired and not happy and I won't go into the nitty-gritty but thank goodness we have AAA.   The car did start on Sunday morning but we kept it running at every stop we made on the way home except for the short visit we made to our son's house figuring he could help us if it didn't start again, but it did.