Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sad Bluebird News

When we came home last weekend we were surprised to see that there were 2 eggs in the box.  Not having seen the blues for a couple of days before we left we thought they might have abandoned the nest.  My theory was that they were frightened to return to the yard because HWNSNBP inadvertently left the Have-a-Heart trap out overnight and instead of capturing the pesky groundhog, he captured a raccoon.  Only thing was, he forgot to check the trap in the morning also and didn't see the raccoon until late afternoon at which time he carefully set the raccoon free.  I think the birds were aware of the predator being there.  There wasn't much happening at the feeder either until I asked him to remove the trap altogether.  So perhaps the blues were just being wary.  In any case....  on Monday there was another egg.  And Tuesday, when I came home from work Mrs. Blue was sitting on the eggs.  We thought that was a bit premature, but sometimes they only lay 3 so we didn't think anything of it.  Not until it dawned on us Wednesday that she hadn't moved.  She hadn't changed position.  Mr. Blue was seen to look in on her now and then.  But she didn't seem to even stir in his presence.  So HWNSNBP walked up to the garden and tapped on the box.  No movement.  He climbed the ladder and looked in and she did not move.  She was dead.  No sign of attack.  We think that she may have had trouble laying an egg that 4th day - become egg-bound - and sadly it killed her.  There were three eggs under her and one was partially collapsed which also could mean that she wasn't producing enough calcium.  We'll never know.

HWNSNBP removed the whole nest with her intact.  I took the two eggs that weren't broken.  You can see how small they are compared with a dime.  We did call the Raptor Trust to see if they would take the eggs but they do not incubate eggs there and said that at this point they were probably not viable.  So sad.  

Returning today we see that the wrens are attempting to claim the box.  Now that battle begins!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Scribble Picnic - TREE

Phew!  It was quite a busy day here on the blog.  I don't think I've ever had a four post day before, but when holidays and celebrations collide with challenges.... oh well.  This is the last for today.

The Scribble Picnic theme this week is TREE.  I took a picture of part of the yard the other day to capture some of my favorite trees.  The dogwood in the right foreground.  The ailing pin oak to the left with the heart.  Further up the hill are my favorites - American redbuds with their springtime magenta blossoms that will yield to beautiful heart-shaped leaves.

I knew I wanted to feature a redbud, but I struggled with how and procrastinated to the point of getting this done last minute.  My lightbulb moment came as I was packing up to come home from work today and was folding up a gift bag and tissue paper from a gift the staff gave me today - navy blue tissue and a magenta bag.  I thought about punching out the blossoms for the tree from the bag but did I really want to have to glue them all down one-by-one?  No.  So I took my tissue paper, found some more in a lighter shade of blue, tore it up and then used some mod podge to make the background.  After I dried it with my heat gun I drew the trunk and branches of the tree with Posca pens.  The blossoms were done with those pens also, just a little more painstakingly.  

I'm only sorry that I didn't use more of the darker paper in the background because I like the way the blossoms pop off it.  

Trees have been a recurrent theme in my life.  Most recently when our group of friends turned 60 all around the same time.  In comparing our lives to the life cycle of a tree, depending on who you ask among us, some would say they are summer to fall.  Others are definitely clinging to those last autumn leaves, while at least one says they are definitely leafless at this point.

This is already a long post, but I thought I'd include a passage that I had written back in 2009 - a very contemplative year for me - called I Felt Like a Tree Today.  

I felt like a tree today.

As I was driving home I noticed, already in mid-August the trees were losing their leaves. Some more than others. If you looked closely you could also see that a lot of them were beginning to show signs of changing color. This hasn’t been a particularly warm summer here, though we’ve had a fair share of rain and at present we are in a bit of a heat wave. I suppose all these things factor into the early leaf drop and the color change.

It’s a metamorphosis. Not what you think of when you think butterflies but a metamorphosis nonetheless. 

These great trees stand up to a lot of variables. The cold, the heat, the wet, the dry, the calm, the wind; much like we do ourselves. And some of them weather the changes better than others. Surely, a lot of that has to do with location. Their surroundings have a big role to play in their survival.

This is when I began feeling like a tree. I thought of how I started out as a seed, then, with the right care, managed to become a seedling. How I had to have been nurtured and protected in that stage by my parents in order to become a sapling, growing taller and stronger by the day. 
There came a time then, when as a tree does, I began to produce seeds and some of them were able to take root. Thus carrying on the species.

I thought about how trees have to adapt to their surroundings. Haven’t I had to do the same? I’ve been uprooted and transplanted a few times.

I thought about how they have to withstand the changes in temperature and what the excesses do. How that puts stress on them. Is this not how I feel now about temperatures? As I get older the change in temperature seems to affect me more.

I thought about how they have to be flexible in the wind. Haven’t I had to show flexibility with my life choices?

I thought about the seasonal changes that they go through and how Mother Nature has taken her toll on them. When I look in the mirror I see this myself. Not just the outward change in hair color, or additional creases here and there. But the internal changes too. 

I, like a tree, have set down a long taproot where I am. I’ve swayed in the wind and rain. I’ve weathered extremes of temperature and fought disease. I’ve produced seedlings of my own. And, I’ve stood among other great trees. Many who have sheltered me and made it easier to withstand the forces of nature. 

Yes, I felt like a tree today.

So now I need to get this posted and visit the other Picnickers - it should be a forest of beautiful trees to look at.  Please take a stroll through yourself by clicking here.  

Jingle Belles - Recycling II

So I promised another card for the Jingle Belles prompt for Earth Day.  This card is very "Laureny" with all the doilies - she's a great inspiration.  On the blue card base is a panel that is a piece of recycled wrapping from a recent birthday gift.  I love the colors.  Great for any time of the year, but I loved them for Christmas too.  The tag was on the gift that my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson gave me for Christmas.  I was torn whether to reuse this or not, but if I still want to keep it I'll make this HWNSNBP's card. 

A few years back, maybe longer than 10 actually, our form Librarian at school gave me a stack of paper doilies that she inherited from her mother.  I was at least 4" high.  And every now and then I stumble across them.  I say that because I'm still reorganizing things and coming to the conclusion that that will never really happen.

The snowflake sequins, green sequins, and the snowflake button (minus the shank), were in the bottom of my catch-all container on my work space.  They have now found a home.  

Here's a little close-up of the tag so you can see all the sparkle it has.  

So now I must run to get my Scribble Picnic project done to post that tonight.  But when I'm done there I'll definitely be heading back to the Jingle Belles blog to check out all the other Earth Day lovelies.  Click here to join me why dontcha!

Happy Administrative Professionals Day

I made these little tealight boxes for the ladies that work in my district.  We rely on each other throughout the year for knowledge and support.  The little tag included with each one reads:

Don't feel bad
if people remember you
only when they
need you.
Feel privileged that
you are like a 
that comes on in 
their minds when
there is darkness.
We light the way 
for each other.

First Birthday

Earlier this month our grandson turned 1.  His mom and dad planned a party for him for this past weekend.  The invitations were so cute and they had a star theme going so I made him this interactive card with stars.  It's a spinner card.  When you tilt it, the star spins around the center circle.  Of course, he's too little to actually be able to play with it.  But it was fun to make and I think mom and dad had a little fun with it too!

All those cameras pointed at him, he didn't quite know what to do.  He didn't cry when we all sang, in fact he was so good the whole time we were all there. They had given him birthday cake on his real birthday and he actually did cry then, so he didn't have any at the party.  He had his own little snack.

It was a pretty long afternoon for him, but he was a trooper.  We thought he might fall asleep in the high chair after he ate, but he pushed through it. 

Grandpa and I gave him this tractor which he was more into pushing at this point.  His daddy had a tractor that was a bit bigger than this with pedals when he was a little boy and he loved it.  We actually bought this one at least a year before we had any grands in the hope that someday we would. It's just his size now.

"Look everyone!  No hands!"

With grandpa.

Our daughter-in-law's birthday was also this weekend and here is the card I made for her.  I tried in vain to get the colors right on the screen.  The card base is actually Bermuda Bay - more of a greenish blue and not so turquoise.  And the greens are much prettier IRL.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Jingle Belles - Peace on EARTH Day

This is one of my favorite Jingle Belle prompts.  I get to recycle some of the things that I have saved from Christmases past and also from previous projects.  This card has some of both. 

The wreath was not a wreath to begin with.  It was a string of wire with red and green beads on it that was used to wrap up a package.  I just wound it around my fingers to make a wreath out of it, using the beadless ends of the wire to hold it together.  The bow is some elastic cording that was also on a package.  The wreath sits on a piece of gold embossed cherry cobbler paper that was left over from a card I made a few years ago.  And the green card base was also a leftover.  

The beads are so much prettier IRL, trust me.  I shall try to be back before next Wednesday with another EARTH Day card.  Goodness knows I have a lot of stuff I can recycle.  

Want to see what's in the Jingle Belles gallery so far?  Click here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Scribble Picnic - LADDER

Strictly sketching it this week for me.  Just couldn't fit in time to color.  I took some vacation days to coincide with our school spring break, but with Easter also coming and with some other projects I've been working on this month, I was glad just to get the sketch done.   

I took my inspiration straight from our garden.  We keep a small folding ladder up there to be able to monitor the bluebird  box.  It took a little bit of a tragedy to learn not to leave it close to the box.  If we can climb up the ladder, so can a wiley raccoon.  So we make sure to  put the ladder far enough away from the box when we're done.  The round cylinder on the pole is a baffle to keep them from climbing up the pole to the box.  

You see below a bluebird fledgling who made it out of the box back in July 2010 and landed on the ladder where it stayed for quite awhile before gathering enough courage to attempt to fly away.  This just might be the Mr. or Mrs. Blue than now inhabit the box coming home where it all started.

I'm heading over to check out all the other LADDERs from the Picnickers.  You can join me by clicking here.  And should you want to join in, next week's theme is TREE,

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Thanks for Helping Me Grow Tags and Cards

Our grandson will be changing "classes" at daycare soon - he's growing so fast.  My daughter-in-law Michelle asked me to make some cards and tags to go along with a little gift she is giving his caregivers.  She wanted the theme to be "thank you for helping me grow".  

I knew I had plenty of flowery things to work with, but I didn't have a stamp that said exactly that.  So I took a quick look through Etsy and found these little charms at Findings For Less.  I think they look pretty good and she loved them.

The daisies are a Susan's Garden die and a little labor intensive, but I don't mind doing that kind of work.  I gave them to her with a choice of green or white ribbon to use to tie them on.  

Michelle is adding these to a special gift she is having her cousin Sara make.  Sara is a pyrographer and you can see some of her work here.  

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Scribble Picnic - Rabbit (With Spring Flowers on the Side)

Goodness, that title almost seems like a menu entry, but don't worry I won't be serving any rabbit this Easter. I do hope that the "hot" weather we're having doesn't toast the flowers too soon though.

This Scribble Picnic RABBIT might be a chocolate bunny camouflaged to hide amongst the spring flowers so as not to get eaten.  Inspired by a ceramic bunny in blue and white that I used to have, I chose to use different flowers and colors.

I was half tempted to use the cracked glass technique on this to make it look like a well-worn ceramic piece and had it been done smaller, and I could have used it on a card I probably would have, but to keep in the sketch pad it didn't seem prudent to use all that embossing powder.  

Both HWNSNBP and I are amazed at the amount of flowers that have bloomed in this garden this spring. We have not planted anything new here in a long while so it appears that the plants are happy and are spreading their happiness throughout.  Besides the crocuses and daffodils which are bulbs, we have scilla and chionodoxa springing up in the oddest places.  I know those were originally corms when they were planted, but we're thinking that they also will self seed if they are in the right conditions.

We even have some pansy and Johnny-jump-up volunteers on the pathway.

Today I noticed that the Confederate violets are blooming along with the spring beauty.   

And I spied a few yellow wood violets although they're getting fewer and harder to find.

The bluebirds are regulars to the suet feeder these days.  They wait patiently for their turn while the other birds feed.  They happily grab up what might have fallen to the ground.

And I'm happy to report that the nest cam does indeed show a nest in the making.  There was a lot of wing waving and in-an-out-check-it-out by both the Mr. and Mrs. But you can never be certain that they're going to nest there until they get that nest built.  By the way, HWNSNBP has decided to name them Phil and Cora.  Extra points if you know who Phil and Cora were.  I'll be posting updates on the nesting progress throughout the spring and early summer.  Hopefully we'll get a couple of clutches again this year.

Okay, enough about the flowers and birds, it's back to RABBITS and time to mosey on over to Dotty Hill to check out what's down, or up from the rabbit hole!  Click here to join me as I visit all the Scribble Picnickers this week.  And should you care to join in next Wednesday, the theme is LADDER.

Jingle Belles - Getting Sketchy

Our Jingle Belle Stephanie has given us a sketch to work with this time on the Jingle Belles blog.  

I had a couple of ideas for this but nothing was working on paper.  I thought I wanted to use this Unity tree stamp with snowflakes, but all the snowflakes that I had were too big.  And then when HWNSNBP and I were doing some errands on Monday - I had birthday coupons to several places that were about to expire, Michael's being one of them - I happened down the clearance aisle and found these snowflake stickers. (They were a steal and I have enough left to make another card!) Just the snowflakes are stickers, I added them to the silver foil discs. But my tree was so big I had to turn the sketch around.

I opted for some Concord Crush paper as my background and edged the panel with silver EP.  The tree, by the way, is also embossed with silver EP.  This is a very clean sketch and I like how this looks, but HWNSNBP thinks it needs a sentiment somewhere.  Will he get his way or not?  Time will tell.  

Please join me whilst I grab a cup of Chai Latte and make my way back over to see what all the other Jingle Belles have come up with this time.  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

LegacyPop/All Things Paper

I follow the blog All Things Paper by paper artist Ann Martin from Delaware.  Ann regularly features other paper artistry on her blog other than her own and this past January she introduced the new venture called LegacyPop by Robert Sabuda and Chuck Fischer who have combined "their artistry with laser technology to create amazing architectural pop-ups".  As an introduction to their new partnership they held a giveaway via Ann's blog and I was one of the winners.  

At the time they were still in the production stages but at the end of March I received my package and was totally blown away.  

You will see here the gliclee print of Highclere Castle featured in the PBS Series Downtown Abbey and the card which features a beautiful laser-cut front.  

I haven't done justice to the beautiful paper that this is created with.  The gold paper has a shimmer to it.  This highly detailed card front is absolutely gorgeous.

And when you open it up, it is even more amazing holding the pop up rendition of the building as well as a write up and more drawings related to the subject.  

The second building - yes there were two - is Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.  The gliclee prints are a wonder in themselves and very frameable.

This blue paper has a shimmer to it also and makes it look so rich.

Not only can you purchase a pop up of a famous building of your choice, you can also have a custom design made of your favorite building.

Thank you LegacyPop.  Your artistry is amazing.  And thank you Ann Martin for sponsoring this giveaway.  Please click on their links above for further information.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Sharing Their Creativity

Last Friday was my birthday and I have to share what was in a package I received from my blogging friend Sabrina about a week before that.  Sabrina lives in Ireland and we connected through the Teapot Challenges that I used to do several years ago.  She is a cardmaker, papercrafter, needleworker, photographer, expert cook, musician, birdwatcher, and as you can see, lover of many of the things that I too love.  I always feel transported away to new and interesting places, get ideas for the use of new techniques she uses, and am urged to try some new recipes when I visit her blog.  

I am so lucky that she shares her creativity with me.  She made this beautiful framed piece with that wonderful quote about shells.  And those shells.............

She has a wonderful technique of making shells from paper.  Don't they look real!

And along with that beautiful framed piece were a few other lovely things and this beautiful handmade card.  

This actually kind of reminds me of the little fishing village known as Viking Village at the north end of Long Beach Island in Barnegat Light.  There's a row of little buildings that housed the fisherman that settle there that have now been turned into little shops.  

Sabrina also added one of her shells to this handmade envelope.  

Thank you Sabrina!  Thank you for sharing your talents with me!