Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More Cards

These are more cards that I recently made. The one with the bird and the flourish is actually from the stamp camp we went to last week. I had not realized until recently that I had not uploaded the image. The fun technique on this one was a faux watercolor technique. You ink up the stamp like usual using a juuicy pad. Then you lightly mist the stamp part. It took a bit of practice to not have it get too wet. The result is sort of moteled. We used the same technique on the card with the purple flowers in the other entry.
The vase and flower card is for a friend whose mother died from cancer. I actually made two as another friend's father died. I used The Angel Company stamps with a very light ink for a nice touch in the background. The flowers were cut with my cricut using the A Walk in My Garden cartridge. The papers are from Autumn Leaves. It is from a free paper pack that I got at a special Archiver's Scrapbooking event recely. I am not thrilled with how it came out, but it will due. Making sympathy cards was hard for me. The sombre colors are not part of my usual pallette.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Mail Art Fun from Teena

I had a really fun mail day on Saturday when I received my item from Teena. She and I are both taking part in a swap organized through 5x7art.blogspot.com. She clearly either looked at my blog or she and I like the same kind of thing.

The picture I have posted here does not do her work justice. I think my scanner is having a small fit. It is much prettier in real life. Teena took a lovely piece of watercolor paper and topped it with purple batik fabric, just the kind of thing you would find in my stash. This has a photo that seems to be mounted on paper on it, stitched on with a fun, decorative sewing maching stitch. The picture is emblellished with irridescent glitter here and there. The woman ont he porch as been enhanced as well. Thi can be hung from the pink ribbon at the top, which does not show up very well in the picture. There is also a nice metal and acrylic sticker, "Le gardin." I am thrilled with what she sent me. It will find a nice home in my craftroom or my classroom.

If you would like to see more of what people received, check out the link I provided above. I think she may even be doing another round some time soon.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Early Spring Stamp Camp at Gerri's House


Last night Ellie and I had a blast at Stamp Camp. A friend of mine, Gerri, is a Stampin' Up demonstrator. She has these camps about 4 times a year. They are so much fun! She has stations set up with everything you need to make the card. A lovely sample is also set up at each station. In addition to the stamping there are good things to eat and wonderful animals to pet. Her siamese, Charlotte, is such a love. The pictures here with a card and matching envelope are the ones I did. The ones with two cards in a frame are done by Ellie.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Anniversary of Meeting My Husband

December 31, 1987 - My 21st Birthday and the night we got engaged.
Wednesday, February 21, was the anniversary of meeting my husband. We met on a blind date in 1983. In many ways it is one of my favorite dates. It was a turning point in my life, though I could not have known it at that time.
I had been a very outgoing student who was ultra-involved in school. It was the spring of my senior year and I had just broken up with the creep of a boyfriend I had that had the nerve to stand me up on Valentine's day. My husband was the tall, quiet guy behind the camera at a rival school. Though we seemed unlikely at the time, we make a great pair.
As I said, we met on a blind date. We had the day off from school. My friend and I were going to the top of a local mountain to fly kites. Since we were going in her convertible I did not do my usual, elaborate routine of getting ready. Instead, I wore plain grey sweats and tied my hair up. This was such a contrast to who I had been then. I usually worn dresses or skirts, often with a petticoat underneath it. I had high heeled cowboy boots with a delicate, lacy cut brass tip on the end of each boot toe. I matched everything I worn, my clothes, my hair adornment, my make-up and my nail polish. When I got in the car she informed me that Shawn was going along with us. Then, as we pulled up to his house, she informed me that I was to have a date, too. "Fine" I thought, still feeling a bit grumpy about the recent lack of romance. I would humor them. I didn't really care that I looked a bit like a slob. I was not in the market for romance. I was going to be boy free for a while. When we entered Shawn's house I saw a tall, thin blonde guy helping Shawn's mother with something. My attitude changed. The date was fun. I was twitterpated. He was so different from so many of the guys I had dated. He was quiet, shy, thoughtful. So many guys who I dated had an over inflated idea of their worth. As we were dropping the boys off he kissed the top of my hand and said he hoped to see me again. That was it, I was hooked that quickly. It took him a few days to get the guts up to call me. I had thought he was not interested. We continued to date. We were engaged to marry on my 21st birthday and married a few years later. We were both in college and would lose our scholarships if we married before we graduated. It was hard to have a multi-year engagement, but worth it. We even spent a year apart, writing letters (no email then - and actually I am thankful for that. I love the letters I have.) I am thankful for the day I met him. My husband is a person of integrity, honest and passion. Over they years we have both changed dramatically. I am no longer a high maintenance girl. I am more natural. I traded my high heeled cowboy boots for Birkenstocks and my petticoats with skirts for gauze skirts. My husband went from quiet and shy to intense and outgoing. Thankfully, we have been able to grow together, instead of apart. How lucky can a girl be?!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Love in the Mail - From Natalie

I am a little late in sharing this love through the mail, but I wanted it to have its own post. This is the package the kids and I received from my dear friend Natalie last Wednesday, Valentine's day. She is always to good at finding fun stuff. You can kind of see the two of us in the frame there. She is one of those naturally beautiful people, inside and out. I am honored that I have such a friend as her. She and her family recently went to Petaluma and visited the Mrs. Grossman's Sticker factory. My family had been this past summer. I quickly used up the wonderful blank cards and the nice bling I had purchased at the store, so it was fun that she sent me a fresh supply. She also send us enough chocolate turtles for each of us. THey are from Enstrom's Chocolates. I had forgotten how good quality chocolate could be. I was tempted to not give the kids their share, but in the end I did. Ethan loves the ornament full of lavendar - his favorite sent. The sparklers are fun, too. We are looking forward to finding a good night to use them. It was a creative inclusion. I also love the little string of paper lanterns with hearts on them. THat kind of thing is so me. She also included a card and a quilt design. These were in a nice, colored folder. SHe and I share a love of office supplies. Also included were Valentine paperwares. I have safely stored those for next year. It was so much fun to get this in the mail. I had totally not expected it.

Now, on to planning an Easter goodies box for her...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Quilt WIP

Now that I have the correct darning foot I am having a lot of fun quilting. I am aiming to quilt the Indian Summer wallhanging that I pieced recently (you can see it in a pervious post). I did not want to practice on that, so I practiced on this and am very pleased with how it is going. This is one of many tops that I made during a year long color theory class I took about two years ago.
The pattern for this come from Sandi Cummings's book, QUILT AROUND THE BLOCK. The book is a lot of fun.
Part of what makes this quilt cool to me is that I hand-dyed much of the fabric. It is really gratifying to see how it looks with other fabrics. The colors are very pure. I did mix in commercially created quilt fabrics as well. It was one of the ways that I was breaking out of my habits , pushing the creative envelope, if you will.
I like the blue and yellow quilting on the back nearly as much as I like the front. I tried to take a close up of it to share it with you, but it did not work well enough to post.
I am presently home sick - what a way to spend the holiday weekend!Feeling like your throat is on fire and that someone attached weights to every part of your body without telling you - uuhhgg, cough,cough! However, I will now commence adding the binding. It is quiet work that I can do in bed.
I am already thinking about which top will be my next practice piece. How many lap quilts can a family have, I wonder.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Winston ( 1987-2/16/2007) & Chesterfield (1988 -)
Our beloved Winston has pasted away. While it was expected, due to extreme old age and illness, it was still very sad for our family. He was with us for almost 20 years.

We got Winston in the spring of 1988. He came from a local animal shelter where he had been born. Winston was an important member of our family. He was the first vestage of my adult life beyond college. He was a real lover. People who thought they didn't like cats considered changing their minds after they held him.
Winston gave me something to love, to nurture and take care of. When it took a long time us a long time to become pregnant, Winston helped fill the void I felt. He and Chesterfield were our "children" for us for a while. When each of our children arrived, Winston welcomed them and helped keep a watch for them. He knew they were part of our family, too.
Winston was a caring and thankful kitty. He would make a point of greeting you even if he had to wake up to do it. He was also very careful to be an equal opportunity pet, making sure everyone, family or not, got a chance at some lovin', if they wanted it. His wonderful purr could be heard across the room.
We have been amazed at how long we had him. He has been less than well since the late summer. We began to check that he still had a quality of life each day. We expected to wake up or come home from work/school and find him gone. We had worried that he would die during the big storms, or that the end would be awful and tramatic. Thankfully, it was none of those things. The kids and I had enjoyed going to a baking class and a Make & Take at Archivers earlier in the day. When we came home, it was clear that Winston had been waiting for us, hanging on, just barely. We got to sit with him for an hour or so while he slipped away. By that time he had mostly lost muscle control. He managed a few weak meows and looks of love. Then, being warmed by our love and ourselves, he left us. He leaves behind special memories and a place in my heart that cannot be filled by another. We now have to find a way to help Chesterfield understand why her best friend is not there to snuggle with her.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fun Mail from Peg and Jake

It was a lot of fun to get mail this week since we got a great box of stuff from Peg and Jake. Jake made very sweet alpha blocks for Ellie. He selected wonderful paper, distressed the paper and the letters, as well as embellishing them with eyelash yarn and a brad. Ellie says she is not sure what her favorite part is, but it might be the flower on the "i."
My part of the box featured fun stuff like a delicately decorated bottle filled with chocolate and embellished with a heart charm - it is a definate keeper. Then there is the post-it note pad with a cover. I have a silly love of office supplies, so this was just the ticket. I also appreciate the small art journal that Peg made. Her craftsmanship on it is wonderful! There were also a whole bunch of unmounted rubber stamps from "The Angel Company." I had seen some of them used on Peg's blog and really wanted them. I can't wait to mount them up and get playing.
It is so much fun to get non-bill, non-junk mail. It makes Ellie and I smile the entire night through.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

I got a wonderful surprise for Valentine's day - a new tea pot and a huge bunch of flowers. Now, this is a bit unusual around our house, so this was extra, totally unexpected fun. My husband says that was mostly my son's idea. When Ethan and I would go to Whole Foods, as we have done a lot lately, I admired the tea pot display. I have a wonderful tea pot collection. We would take about which one I liked best. And now I have it. I love the shape of it and the fact that it has its own strainer. Then there is the bunch of flowers. How wonderful! At first I tried to put them in one vase - too many - so they became three displays. Now I will have flowers all over my home. I also received some cards and a gift from Peg. I am going to detail those in my post tomorrow so that they do not have to share the stage today.
I hope you have a wonderful, sweet day!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pecan Oatmeal Snack Mix Recipe

Last week a friend at work had a very simple snack mix that many of us loved. I thought you might enjoy it, too. I had hoped to include a picture, but my family ate it quickly enough that I did not get a photo. You could take that as a testiment to its snacking goodness:

Pecan Oatmeal Snack Mix

8 cups Cereal (I used Quaker Oatmeal Brown Sugar Squares - 1 box, other cereals could work)
3 cups Pecans (whole, or pieces, I roasted the ones I purchased before using them)
1/2 cup Light Corn Syrup ( I used Karo Syrup)
1/2 Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla (Mexican Vanilla is best, if you can get it, but regular is fine, too)
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

Combine the nuts and cereal in a very large bowl. Microwave the syrup, brown sugar and butter on high for about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Stir and return to microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir in the vanilla and baking soda. Pour this over the cereal and mix to coat. I used two spatuals so that I did not get burned. Spread this mixture on one or two cake pans or cookie sheets. (No need to grease the pan!) Bake for about 1 hour at 250 degrees and immediately scrape onto wax paper or cold cookie sheets. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes, then break the pieces apart, if needed. (I was able to use a spatula and break the pieces apart right after it came out of the oven.)

I hope you enjoy this!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Melody Johnson - Inspiration Found

The Ark by Melody Johnson

Lavender Blue by Melody Johnson
Like most everyone in Blogland, I like to check out the links writers offer in their sidebar. That is how I found Melody Johnson's amazing blog, Fibermainia http://fibermania.blogspot.com/. I found it through the Crazy for Fiber blog, which I enjoy as well. Fibermainia is a wonderful gift to me. It is inspiration and a source for finding a creative hero. I want my own work to be something like this. Of course mine would look different, but I love her sense of color, balance and tone. I appreciate how the design is fluid. I love how she continues some of her design elements with her quilting. I am amazed at how she combines hand and machine quilting. I had been considering the same, but was not sure it would look good together. I worried that the hand quilting would look sloppy next to the machine quilting. Reading her blog gives me courage. If you go to her blog you will find close ups of the quilting, details how she does it. She is also gracious. When asked about "her book," she replies that it is on her blog and it is free. I still wish I could at least get a picture book of her quilts. Another amazing thing about her art is that she appears to create one a day, or nearly every day. Her calendar has her in Denver three times in the next several months. I am hoping to be able to attend one or more of those sessions. Thanks for the creative inspiration, Melody!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Party Report

Our Valentine's Day Card Making Party on Wednesday was a hit. Nearly everyone was able to come. We had a potluck dinner and an evening of making cards.

Ellie and I set up three tables and we made card kits for all. The card kits were housed in gift bags that we adorned with pink and red curling ribbon as well as a heart with the receipent's names on it. Inside we placed four sets of blank cards with their envelopes, ten sheets of decorative paper (each one different, of course), a variety of cut paper shapes, candy and a fun color-changing pencil.

Two tables were the card making centers. I have a love of small bowls which we put to good use. Each table had a variety of embellishments. There were bowls of buttons of several colors and sizes, there were several sets of prima flower combinations. Others help heart shaped seqines or tiny paper cut outs. Still others held adhesive - a double sided tape dispenser, glue sticks, glue dots and stickly sided foam shapes. Then there were scissors of all kinds - straight edge and a bunch of decorative edge sorts. Finally there were many sets of markers.

All of the younger crowd were porlific and completed their cards with time to spare playing sardines. (One person hides. The others look and hide when they find the person. It can be quite funn, so many people stuffed into a closet!) We women folk were a bit more varied. Laura cut herself off at four, even though I offered her more. The others made two or three. I think everyone had a blast.

The food was wonderful, too. We had salad, pizza, chips, dips, Shirley Temple drinks and a special dessert. Janet made this decadent concotion - three layers of meraigne, each topped with crushed raspberries and whipped cream. It was heavenly!

At the end Ethan was gracious and decided to share a few of his truffles. He loves those truffles, so it was hard to share. His spirit was lifted when he saw that others loved them as well.

And in the spirit of the holiday, one of my friends gave me flowers. I make a deal of celebrating this holiday with my girlfriends because it is an important time to show them that I love them. One of my single friends turned me on to this idea. She always used to feel bad when Valentine's day rolled around since she did not have a beau. She decided that she would show her love for others. Being a person who was part of that, I thought it was wonderful and have continued the tradition ever since. In this age of short relationships and divorce, we can all use a little extra love. Don't you agree?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Corners of My Home - Crafty Shelf Unit

Our card making party was a hit. I will write more about it once I can download the photos. My husband took the card reader to work and we simply need to remember to bring it back home.

This is a really fun shelf that is in a small hallway in my home. It is at a spot where there are three doorways and a set of stairs. Once upon a time, when I got to stay home with my kids, I worked one day a week at a small scrapbooking store. It was WONDERFUL! As the big stores started to come into town, our store struggled and finally closed. As a result, I ended up with two of these shelving units. This one houses my small stuff, paper punches, thread, glitter, curling ribbon and the like.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

And this is how a party begins...

I thought you might like to see some more of the quilts on the walls in my home. They look a bit funny because they are hung high up on a wall and I am a bit short. Technically these are not actually quilts as there are only two layers, not three. They are backed with pinwale corduroy. I did not put in any batting. Looking back, I wish I had. They would hang nicer. That was before I began to get a grip on how to actually quilt.

On Sunday, as Ellie and I were making cards, she mentions that it is much more fun doing it together. I agreed, of course. :) Then she mentioned that she was sorry more of her friends did not have the opportunity to make cards like we do, and that is where a party began. It started innocent enough with thinking about having three friends over to make cards. Then, there is the issue of food. We decided to make it a simple potluck. Next, the moms thought it sounded fun - and it would be more fun for me, too, so the moms were invited. Before we knew it, we were creating a party. Ethan has graciously agreed to let us offer some of his truffles. We also got fun paperwares and gift bags. The gift bags are little kits. Each holds four blank cards with envelopes, 10 sheets of decorative papers, some ribbon, a color changing pencil and a few decorations. It will be a fun party indeed. I'll post pictures of the event soon.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Indian Summer Quilt WIP2

This is an update on the quilt that I am making for my bedroom wall. I really love how it is turning out. It is called Indian Summer. It is made of good quality quilt fabric. Last time I posted it someone mentioned that it looked like silk - I wish it was! This would be stunning done in raw silk!

I am currently hand quilting the leaf shapes. The darning foot for my machine was broken (It turned out that I was using the wrong kind!:( and it broke while working on another quilt) and the shop where I usually get stuff/ help for my machine was closed for a while due to illness. I fipantly thought I could just go to another store, but no, it was not so easy. I became paniced! Three shops later and still no darning foot - DARN!! How long would my usual shop be closed? (They are very old, after all - and had never been closed like that in all of the 22 years I have been going there!) And I could not wait to get to the quilting part, so I persisted. Last night I was thrilled to walk into a different shop and find the correct foot and it was only $5.49! What a happy girl that made me. I promptly took it home and practiced on another piece. I was AMAZED at what a difference it made. Quilting with the other one was like trying to get my kids to clean their rooms - a struggle at best, or maybe even a battle. I was so thrilled that I quilted away, getting 1/4 of a lap quilt done in an amazing amount of time. The right part is quite a joy! My war at the sewing machine became a pleasant dance. Anyhow, I digress. I am now in the throws of trying to decide how to quilt the one shown here. I have a few ideas for the leaf like sections. The innner border is a bit more challenging. Any suggestions?

Here are a few tips, in the event that you are quilting:

1. Spray starch should be one of your best friends.

I use it before I cut the shapes.

I use it after I sew blocks, but be for I square them up.

I apply it each time I am joining groups of blocks. By the time I get a quilt top, that baby is stiff, which reduces puckers when I quilt it.

I recently learned that many good quilters also starch the backing - which makes sense.

It should be noted, however, that you apply it to the back of the fabric, not the front, or it can look like you have bad dandriff.

Okay, maybe that is enough of a tip for the day.
On another note, one of my favorite blog entries for today is over at the Rag and Bone Bindery. They have a wonderful review of the booth they had at a show recently. If you love books, paper, fonts, etc., you'll love their blog!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunday with my Son

Ethan and I had most of the day together. Larr was off rock climbing in a gym. Ellie was out trying to track animals in the snow before the top layer melted. Then she got to go to lunch with her friend. That left the boy and I. We had a blast.
I had purchased this book, The Art of Chocolate earlier. I had intended that it be a Valentine's day present, but I could not resist. I wanted him to have it. We promptly went to Whole Foods, a top of the line organic grocery store, and pickup up some wonderful ingredients. We purchased three different types of Elray Chocolates (Milk, Dark and White), lovely pecans and fancy gel candies.
Then the cooking commenced. We began with the eggroll recipe that was posted athttp://rosylittlethings.typepad.com/posie_gets_cozy/ on January 29, 2007. We were intrigued. In Colorado you usually have the choice of veggie or chicken eggrolls. This recipe calls for smoked pork and shrimp. We loved it. It was hard for us to set up the food shot here without taking any bites - it all smelled so good. Too bad you are not here to share them with us. As you can see, we have plenty!
Next came truffles. We made several kinds. We made dark chocolate with cuppacinno. double dark chocolate, milk chocolate, milk chocolate with roasted pecans and milk chocolate with white chocolate coating. WIth so much to do, we did not get it all done. We will share photos of the finished project soon. I think they will make lovely tokens of love and friendship for a few special local folks.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Meeting a Hero and Unlocking the Keys to the Kingdom

On Friday Ellie and I attended the regional literacy teacher's conference, CCIRA. Ellie enjoyed it more than I had expected her to. She went along because she wanted to meet James Howe. He is one of her heroes. Ellie says that Bunnicula is the reason she made the leap from reading pictures books to wanting to tackle chapter books. He was one of the main speakers at the conference. We went to my various sessions, checked out the vendor hall and went to the luncheon. We were a little worried that our plans would fall through as we only got her lunch ticket five minutes before it started.

James Howe was funny, thought-provoking and wonderful. He told us that Bunnicula was really written by his late wife and himself after a late night B-rated Dracula flick. It was a great time for them. It made me sad to think about how he must miss her. He spoke so fondly of her. He confessed that he is Howie, the silly puppy. James had been the younger brother who could never remember the punchline of a joke fast enough. In the summer time he and his brothers would tell their mother so many jokes that she would eventually have to shoo them out to play once her sides hurt from laughting so much. Ellie and I will reread the books, keeping our eyes anew with this information.

After lunch he was signing books. He was so gracious with Ellie. He signed two of her books, told her a story, drew a picture in one book and allowed us to take his photo. Ellie has begun to write her own story, saying she wants to be just like him.

We also enjoyed the stories of Ridley Pearson. He has written many books. The one you might recognize is the recent Peter and the Startcatchers. He wrote it with Dave Barry. We were even more taken by his story, The Kingdom Keepers. It is a mystery story that takes place in the underground and behind the scene world of Disneyworld. Disney has asked him to write the book and allowed him nearly unlimited access for five days. He got to go inside the underground tunnels where goods are transported and people are put in costume. He got to ride the attractions with the lights on and the music off. We simply can't wait to read the book.

He was also great to Ellie and I. He signed our books, answered our questions and told us stories.
One of the greatest things about writing this blog is that it causes me to reflect on what my children and I have done. It helps me see the patterns in our lives that I did not take time to notice before. It helps me to remember how blessed our lives are.
How cool is it to get to meet and visit with one of your heroes?!