Thursday, April 30, 2020

Nature's Birds and More

We've had one good day on each of the last two weekends and we got out in the car.  Our destination was a garden center as they are allowed to be open during this quarantine.  The first day we went we didn't stop at the center because it looked too crowded and at that time they hadn't required masks.  The second time we did stop with our masks and we were able to pick up some shrubs that we needed to replace in the yard.

Both times, on the way back home, we came back along the river.  And I had my camera with me just in case.  The first day I caught a glimpse of some kayakers on the river and HWNSNBP was okay with stopping so I could try to get some pictures of them.  They were very colorful.

But when I first got out of the car I hadn't seen all the herons that were down the embankment by the river.  There must have been 10 to 12 of them and most of them took off to other places along the river away from me.    And then I looked up.

And across to the other side. 

Another passerby.

Closer yet.

The second weekend we stopped around the same spot and got another treat.  This one reminds me of a choir director - all together now.

And this one in front of that tree with all the tree fungus growing on it.

Caught another one flying off.

We chased a sunset one night.  HWNSNBP came in the house from his workshop in the garage and said "you might want to take a look at the sky".  It's a hit and miss when he says that, but that night it was a hit and I coaxed him into driving the car in the direction the sun was setting.  

The first one from the left turn out of our driveway onto the road.  

 And out on the highway which had fewer cards at a few minutes to 8 than I've seen on the road after midnight on New Year's Eve.  Weird.

Some deer in the backyard.  Invasive creatures for us but I thought they looked pretty in this scene.

Mr. Blue at the suet cake.  

Mrs. Blue getting her turn.  We're waiting for the eggs to hatch any minute now.  

A little succulent nursery dish.  

An unusual visitor today - a rose-breasted grosbeak.  I've only ever seen one once before.  It took me a while to realize that this wasn't just one of the black, white, and red woodpeckers.  I ran for my camera in the other room and though he was still on the branch, he wouldn't turn around for me to get a picture of his beautiful rose breast before flying off.  I read on a local FB page this afternoon that a lot of other town residents were reporting seeing these birds at their feeders today too.  Could be they were making a stopover in Branchburg migrating home.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Thank You's and Art Attempts

When my sister passed away last month we were gifted with food, mass cards, and other remembrances and these are some of the thank you cards that I quickly put together.  

While looking for something else in my craft stash I came across a package of water soluble wax pastels and gave them a try late one night laying the colors down first and then blending with an aquapainter. 

I sent away for a black sketch pad to try to work with the moonlight gel pens on.  This was done while on several phone calls - a different color for each call.  I'll continue to add to it until the page is full.  

I saw a post from Ann Martin of All Things Paper posted a link to a tutorial on her FaceBook page that I wanted to give a try.  The materials were something I knew I had - circle punches and an old book (in this case a student dictionary) and some mini clothespins.  Oh, and paper glue.

And here is the result.  I think it might need a partner.  

These days I sit at my dining room table surrounded by much "stuff" including a laptop (mine), a chromebook (work), and my cell phone on it's new stand that HWNSNBP was generous to use his time making for me since I left my little metal one at work.  There's my daylight floor lamp over my left shoulder and Kirby in his cage behind my aching right shoulder.  And then there's the art supplies.  Zentangle pens, markers, pencils, colored pencils, stacked sketchbooks, a new box of Arteza paints to try, my olfa cutting mat for sewing or puzzles, occasionally my camera, and other various bits and bobs.  At my feet are canvas bags full of more choice items - one for paints of all kinds, another for markers of all kinds.  There's a set of wax pastels and a set of oil pastels on one of the empty chairs along with some tissue paper for another project.  Behind me is an east facing window where all, or most of our orchids are on the sideboard.  I can look across the room right into the kitchen where HWNSNBP works at the kitchen island.  This has been my quarantine space for most of the time.  It's a mess, but it's a comfortable mess.  It gets straightened up every couple of days, but no chance of company coming so theirs not much urgency in tidiness.  

I venture up into the stamp cave every now and then after my "working hours" when I need to get something, or make a card or two.  We have a birthday coming up on Sunday - a 1st birthday - and Mother's Day is right around the corner.  There's also Teacher Appreciation Week - which deserves some acknowledgement - I know the teachers have been working their butts off at home, most of them balancing family and students.  

There are a couple of jigsaw puzzles still waiting to be done and some various piles of clothing scattered about as well as items found during "cleaning out spurts" that need to find homes (and some of them need to runaway from home).  I get fully dressed up 2-3 times a week.  And by that I mean pants that button and zipper and socks with real shoes.  Otherwise, it's lounging clothes and sweatshirts and sandals.  

I posted a picture of this on FB and a local friend said she could use one.  I actually had asked HWNSNBP to make one for her before I saw a post from her the next morning that she scored some Lysol spray at Costco and had extra if anyone needed at cost.  I messaged her thinking they were probably all spoken for but said I would be leaving a stand in her mailbox.  She said she still had a can and we could trade.  The Lysol cost a lot more than the stand did - it was pennies of scrap wood and 15 mins of his time at most - so I think we made out in the long run.  It was nice to barter.  Cleaning products have been hit and miss here lately.  

Friday, April 24, 2020

Spring Beauty

It's another rainy day here.  Who would have figured that April in New Jersey would be colder than February.  And just when we're itching to get outside.  Thought I'd share some of what's been blooming in the yard.

And the full pink moon of April.

Our sunset view from Branchburg.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Happy Earth Day - 50 Years

Today we celebrate Earth Day 50 years after it was begun back in 1970.  I remember I was in high school and we had a group of students that got together to clean up a local brook. The water was cold and we certainly got dirty but we pulled a mound of garbage out of that brook that day.  It was a start.  Things started slowly with people getting used to reducing, reusing, and recycling, but we've surely adapted and are making a difference with all the items that we can recycle these days.

These cards were sent to some family and friends to remind them to celebrate today.  We all need little celebrations right now, don't we? 

I've got a recycling project in the works that needs a little more time.  Hope you have a beautiful day today enjoying your surroundings.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Jingle Belles - Peace on Earth Day

 It's time to recycle.  It's time to reuse.  The Jingle Belles run this particular challenge every year and I have to say that it's one of my favorite ones.  Probably because there's a little bit of pack rat in me.  Shiny or not, I find there are things that are just too interesting to throw away.  They deserve to be reborn into something new.  My card below is made with 11 elements.  Eight of them are recycled. So, that's roughly 75% recycled.  And, as I've always mentioned when trying to photograph metallics, it's much prettier IRL.  (Even HWNSNBP was impressed.) Oh, and it's probably the largest card I've made in a long time.  A little bigger than your standard 5 x 7.

So here's what I used:

The left is the seal from a jar of Nutella - the dear die cut.  The right is the base for a small bakery tart  - the base for the two larger elements.

This ribbon/string is from a package of glow sticks provided to be able to hang them around the neck.  

These white circles are the foam inserts from the lids of some fruit in a jar - the backing on the deer die.  

And getting ready for a new treatment are some empty tea bags.  

I quickly pressed them and then took some metallic watercolors and started painting them with all the different shades of gold (3) and a little of the pearl white.

I added a round die cut to one gold foil disk and wrapped the string around the second one.  You can see the metallic watercolor a little better close up. 

There's an artist that I follow - both her blog and on Instagram - Kim Henkel, Letting in the Light Blog and KimHenkelCreations on Instagram - who sparked my interest several years ago about using the paper from used tea bags. Here is a post from her blog about tea bags (click here).  I started saving used tea bags when I was home recuperating from my back surgery back in 2014 - so that stack of bags that I have has been hanging around for a pretty long while.  (I also saved the used tea to put into the compost.)  So you see there was an intended purpose for saving those things even if it took 6 years to come to fruition.  I like the way the metallics look on the paper so I'm going to try some different colors.  

I did say that this was my favorite challenge and I have one more idea to try to put into place, so I'm going to head off to the stamp cave and try to get some creative time in today away from the computer.  I'll be back later to visit all the creations in this recycling challenge.  But if you have the time to go now, here is the link.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Quarantangling - It Helps

I have any number of things to keep me occupied but for now, this is what is most calming.  Unless otherwise noted, the daily class is with Mind and Tangle.

Saturday, April 4 
Narwhal, Static

Sunday, April 5
Arco, Ginili

Monday, April 6
Antique, 96X, Knightsbridge

Tuesday, April 7
Bunzo, Fescu, XLNT

Also Tuesday, April 7 with Annie Taylor
Joki, Ruutz, Fricle

Wednesday, April 8
Paradox 8 pt. Star with Pilar Pulido

Wednesday, April 9
Onamato, Jonqual, Tatu

Thursday, April 9
Fescu, AIHSD

Friday, April 10
Hidden Words with Annie Taylor
Scena, Abeka, Abundy, Fescu, Tipple
We were to pick a word pertinent to the time we're in.  Can you see my word?

A different workshop with Pilar Pulido setting up fragments in this grid to use as a game.  You would roll a die with the numbers designated to match the rows and columns to choose the tangle or fragment on a tile.  It's the size of a credit card.  (And my word for the tangle above was HOME)

Friday, April 10
Well, Heartangle

Another workshop with Erix702000_CZT using his tangle NUBIA and Bordertangle Valentangle, and Cruffle.  We were to color the side bands with the colors of the flag of our country.  

Saturday, April 11
Cee-A-Mosa, Viaduct, Crete

Sunday, April 12
Bosch, Garlic Cloves

People are going to ask what you did while quarantined.  Or maybe they won't.  We may be asking ourselves that question thinking that we should be accomplishing something meaningful like tackling a home improvement project.  But what I've read is that we shouldn't feel that we have to achieve certain goals.  It's okay if our closets are still not cleaned out or our basements organized.  For some people that will be what they do accomplish because that's what will get them through this.  For others, like myself, it's a mixture of small accomplishments and mindfulness in the form of art.  That would encompass a lot. Card making, tangling, practicing my Kalimba, sewing masks, trying new art supplies that were waiting to be used, all of that that I've always said is my therapy.  Oh, I've done small organizing updates like cleaning out a couple kitchen drawers, cleaning off the counters and island (to some extent), going through old clothing in the laundry room, organizing some of my fabric stash (necessary after searching for mask material), and such.  

HWNSNBP is still working from home as am I although I'm basically monitoring e-mails now.  So it's hard to dive into the bigger projects.  But we're both keeping busy enough to keep our minds otherwise occupied.  (He's finished a raised bed planter and is almost done with an end table for our daughter.)  I've started a 3rd jigsaw puzzle and I'm trying to finish reading a book that I started a while ago.  We're actually planning our meals because we want to keep the grocery store visits to a minimum.  We're ordering out lunch and dinner at least once each week to support our local businesses.  We're staying in touch with our kids and grandkids through social media and calling family members who don't have that (and there are those in our family that don't have smart phones or computers).  We have check-ins with friends and co-workers.  And we're getting to work in the yard when the weather is nice.  

I'll admit this has been frustrating and a very big challenge.  It's been scary and sad and I know if you're reading this, you've had those feelings also.  This is more than a bad dream.  This is a life changing event.   Call it what you will but we are all in it together.  Stay well.