Tuesday, February 7, 2017

True love is fresh brewed ;-)

My husband & I will not be able to celebrate Valentine's Day this year so we had our own celebrtion this past weekend.  I bought some of his favorite coffee & quickly dressed up the bag to present to him. Die cut a couple of hearts on my Cameo & covered the smaller one in Festive Berries, Candied Apple & Seedless Preserve Distress Crayons, then applied a baby wipe through the latticework stencil for a subtle shadow effect.  Then applied Black Soot Distress Ink through the Valentine stencil & Picket Fence Distress Crayon through Clockwork stencil ...this makes such a neat textural effect without waiting for texture paste to dry!  For the title I used the sketch function of my cameo & then carefully traced over it (& filled in) with a white Signo pen.  Finally the roses may not be the most masculine accent ever but the Simon exclusive die was begging to be used & fit in with the title so there ha!  I separated the pieces & watercolered the outline with Champagne Gold Gansai Tambi & the interior with Red Gold mixed with Festive Berries Distress Crayon.

For the card I used the leftover watercolor from the roses & applied them through the Clockwork stencil on watercolor paper & then die cut the cup (Fresh Brewed by Tim Holtz) out of it.  The rest of piece I die-cut from a clean piece of watercolor paper & then colored.  The center stamp is from Happy Mail by Lawn Fawn :-)  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

New toys

Usually I hate that my birthday follows closely after Christmas because it ends up being an afterthought in my most peoples' minds (even my parents!) but this year I really can't complain because between the two I received lots of awesome new crafty/ art goodies.  With the craziness of the holidays & "100 Days of School" celebrations over I'm finally finding time to play with them all.

My dear husband made an order through Simon Says Stamp for my birthday & this "Magical Birthday" stamp set was included as a bonus, how awesome is that?!  Now first I have to share with you that he intended to give me Otterly Love You stamp & die set(s) by My Favorite Things because otters are one of my favorite animals; so ever since we were dating he tries to find new & different otter themed products for me (sweet correct? ;-) ) -- BUT he didn't realize stamps & dies are sold separately so he only bought the dies LOL!  Oh well, it's the the thought the counts is it not?!  I'll get the stamps eventually but until then....as soon as I saw this bonus Magical Birthday set I knew it would make an adorable birthday card for our niece.  She's turning 4 in February and what little girl doesn't love unicorns, rainbows & glitter?! The rainbow is colored with Fired Brick, Carved Pumpkin, Pine Needles & Faded Jeans distress markers at the top then used a water brush to fade the color down as it ends at the stars; the cloud is watercolored with Gansai Tambi White Gold mixed with Picket Fence Distress Crayon.  For the unicorn I wanted a mottled effect so I mixed Spun Sugar & Picket Fence Distress Crayons with Gansai Tambi White Gold watercolor .  The hooves & horn are done with gold gelato crayon & Gansai Tambi Champagne Gold, The mane & tail are watercolored with Spun Sugar, Victorian Velvert & Faded Lilac Distress Crayons.  The text is Black Soot Archival Ink & the stars are Starlite Silver Silver Brillance ink.  Finally mounted the panel on a piece of Authentique paper (from Jan Card kit) & then onto a pink card base.  On the inside I embossed "filled with sunshine & rainbows) & a cupcake also from this mini bonus set.

Of course with being blessed with all these amazing new goodies I had Thank you cards to make!  So I used many of them & made mini shaker cards (4 Bar) with the SSS Jan card kit, SSS Birch tree die , Lawn Fawn Happy Mail .  I also stamped matching wood envelopes for them but failed to photograph those, sorry!

Crafty Goals

'Resolution' comes from the word 'Resoulute' which Merrim-Webster defines as: "a firm adherence to whatever one holds allegiance" or Google defines as "admirably purposeful, determined, unwavering" -- And this folks is why I don't like 'New Year Resolutions' because a few things always hold true: 1) They are inanely nebulous & open ended without any clear way to achieve e.g. "I will drink this caffeine" "I will finally get in shape" "I will finish more projects" 2) They seem to be more about proving yourself to others then helping yourself & 3) They take either exceptional self-control that most do not possess or make you neurotic as you constantly remind yourself "I can't do 'x' or I must do 'y' ".

Alternatively 'Goal' defined by Merrim-Webster "something you are trying to do or achieve" or Google as "the object of a person's aim or effort; a desired result" is much simpler to wrap one's head around and to actually achieve.  Maybe it's just the former athlete in me but I like to set new goals constantly as I achieve old ones; not just at the new year. Most of the goals I set for myself are clear-cut & self-explanatory "Finish reading & compiling notes on  Michael S Gazzinga's "Human" before switching tracks to the applications of discrete mathematics on cognitive science" [ yes that was a real one, already achieved & yes I really am that much of a geek :-P].  But every year I set a more long-term, resolution-like, nebulous, goal like this year "to be more free form in my creative endeavors" or as many artists I admire say to "just play & see what happens".  I know that I will not likely achieve this goal within a year [or possibly my lifetime given how structured/ perfectionist I am lol!] but that's ok it's a goal not a resolution.  I don't have to commit to being 'free form creative' every time I sit down to make something, I will still want projects to go & look a certain way and that's ok too.  As long as I give myself time to play 'loose & fancy free' and I make some strides towards being like the styles I admire then I've achieved something.

So in the past months I set out a few times to just put ink/ paint/ stencils/ paper/ stamps etc to paper & see what happens and most...well...isn't much to speak of...I find incredibly difficult to find that line between "art in the chaos" and good heavens this looks like my 15mth old did it!  Thus most of it has either ended up in the scrap bin or file 13 but at least I tried :-P.  But last week I finally came up with a background (that I turned into a card) and a card in 'free play' that I like the result of enough to keep and pass on (to my mom & grandma in this case). 

First here is the background I created with the full "You Matter" stamp from Simon Says Stamp on watercolor paper & then cut down to make a card front.  I started with the bloom stamp set (by Tim Holtz) in Black Soot Archival Ink and then masked it off before stamping 'You Matter' in Hickory Smoke, Black Soot & Pumice Stone Distress Ink sprayed with water.  Leaving the mask in place I sprayed Carved Pumpkin, Pickled Raspberry & Seedless Preserves Distress Stain & then more water. Heat set to dry, applied silver Texture Luxe through the Latticework stencil & then left to air dry.  The full 6 x 6 panel looked lopsided with the textured stencil at either corner but I like the effect of the white flower set in the colorful background so I cut it down to A-2 size & (I think) the corners balance out much nicer. 

** Entered at Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge "Spread Your Wings" 

Another day I die-cut chipboard using the "Tea Time" dies by Sizzix and tried different mediums on them.  This one is the simplest of all but reminded me of Alice in Wonderland (one of my mom's favorites) so I made it into a wonky Wonderland inspired card for her.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Let it Snow..

This summer, on a particularly hot day, I was wondering Target & found half pint canning jars & thought they'd make perfect snow globes!  So I made some for my kids' teachers as Christmas gifts:

I hand painted a mountain scene along the three smooth sides & covered the "Ball" logo with this adorable reindeer from Simon Says Stamp "Merry & Bright" set.  Filled it with a Hot Chocolate Cupcake (seriously amazing!) & top it all off with some pretty silver ribbon :-).

Because these were rather time intensive I only did 4 for their main teachers & did gift bags for the other 12 teachers/ support staff.  On these tags I used a snowman from Lawn Fawn's "Snow Much Fun" set

And like I said the above cupcakes are A-M-A-Z-I-N-G ...quite possibly one of the best (baked) things I've ever made.  I was shocked that I couldn't find an existing recipe for hot chocolate cupcakes - at least not like I was thinking of, there are plenty of ones for all shades of chocolate & several using hot chocolate mix but none that would actually taste like a cup of hot chocolate. So starting with my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe (by Brown Eyed Baker) I started experimenting to find the correct balance of chocolate, creaminess & marshmallow & I think I found it ;-).  I'll have to go back & do proper weight measurements but in the meantime:

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes w/ Marshamllow Frosting
For the cake:
1/2 C Coffee [I used Starbucks Christmas Blend]
3 oz Semi-Sweet Choc, chopped fine [I used Scharffen-Berger]
1/2 C Canola Oil
2 Eggs
1 C Buttermilk 
1 t Vanilla
1 3/4 C AP Flour
3/4 C Cocoa [I use Ghiradelli]
1 3/4 Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 t Baking Soda
1 t Baking Powder
1/2 t Salt

For the ganache:
16 oz Andes Mints chopped
1 C Heavy Cream

For Frosting:
1/2 C unsalted butter (softened)
1 t Vanilla
1 C Marshmallow Fluff
3 T Heavy Cream
2 C powdered Sugar (sifted)
1/4 t Salt

1. Place chopped choc in a small bowl, pour coffee over & leave it for the moment
2. In bowl of stand mixer (w/ paddle attachment) mix the oil, eggs, buttermilk & vanilla on low-medium speed
3. Sift flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder & salt onto a piece of parchment paper (or flexible cutting board). Slowly pour into oil mixture @ a low speed.
4. Give the choc-coffee mixture a quick whisk & add to batter.  Turn up to medium speed until fully incorporated.
5. Fill cupcake pans 3/4 full & bake in 350F for 18-20 mins until a toothpick comes out clean
6. Heat 1 C heavy cream in small pan on the stove until it just starts to scald; pour over chopped Andes mints & let set for ~1 min before whisking to smooth consistency & store in refrigerator to cool.
7. Whip butter in stand mixer (w/ whisk attachment) until light & creamy then add in marshmallow fluff & vanilla.
8. Once smooth add in 2 T heavy cream followed by the powdered sugar.  If it's too thick then add in last T heavy cream.
9. Once cupcakes are cool, scoop out the middle, pip in ganache, top w/ frosting & a sprinking of candy canes. YUM!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tone on tone stamping

Inspired by another crafter's use of tone on tone stamping I created a fun summery card to send a friend of mine:
From top to bottom I blended Pickled Raspberry, Spiced Marmalade & Dried Marigold Distress Ink onto cold-press watercolor paper & then lightly spritz it with water to create droplets.  Then randomly stamped tiny butterflies (by Hero Arts) in the same colors across the full panel.  The trellis I cut from an Alterations die, colored with Brushed Pewter Distress Stain & Hickory Smoke Distress Crayon.  Scribbled Pickled Raspberry & Spiced Marmalade Distress Crayons on my craft sheet, spritzed with water & picked it up with splatter brush for a little texture.  Layered on a simple banner edged in Hickory Smoke before mounting the entire panel on a A2 grey cardstock base, finished it off with an orange twine bow.

**Entered in Simon Says Stamp Wednesday "Things with Wings" Challenge** 

Fix #8 & 9

I have to say that I feel a bit sorry for my Stitch Fix stylist, Suzanne, because she has a hard job in these long, hot summer months because I hate summer clothes.  They always seem to be either too loose & flowing or are skimpy & nearly skin tight - and don't get me started on shorts, if I could live in jeans & leggings year round I would!  But alas, it is not only over 90F (w/ humidity to match!) daily but I also overheat very easily so I have to embrace the summer styles.  Thus my request has been the same all summer: Colorful, fun clothes fit to run around the playground, pool deck, yacht club etc made of breathable, natural fabrics - and overall I think she's been nailing it.

Fix #9 - Style wise I think this was the best one yet even though I only kept one item, If money was no object I probably would've kept it all but we had several expenses pop up just before it arrived so I had to be picky :-P

- Urban Expressions Ivy Foldover Crossbody $48
I was excited when I first saw this thinking it was exactly what I asked for: smallish, crossbody strap, foldover flap kinda mimics a messenger & the love this color brown.  But the gold chain is a little off putting & it's not quite big enough to carry my bare necessities.  I could just fit my current book, wallet, phone & keys in but then it wouldn't close - and that's besides the other things we women think we need :-P.

While it wouldn't work as an everyday bag for me it was really cute, the perfect size for my frame & I loved the "vegan leather" so you get the look of leather without the upkeep or fear of getting wet (plus $48 is not a bad price either).  So then I thought I'd keep it as a "date/ nicer outing" bag when I wouldn't use carry everything but Mr. Kill joy my darling husband remind me that those occasions are...umm...pretty much never.  Back it had to go :-(

- Skies Are Blue Imperio Crochet Back Top $44
I have a love-hate relationship with Skies Are Blue brand, every single design of theirs that has been sent my way I have loved but I swear the designers have no bust at all because even large is usually tight.  (For reference I almost always wear a medium at Loft/ J Crew/ WHBM/ Target).  Unfortunately this top fits that mold perfectly, 100% breathable Rayon, pattern is cute & the back crochet detailing even more so but it barely fit over bust while fitting perfectly below (around torso).  I had to (gently) pull it over strapless bra but then afraid any wrong move would pop stitches.  Easily went over with a minimizer but then got an odd bunching at top that couldn't be smooth out (plus then bra straps taking away from the cute back!).  Husband thought it was cute enough to request an exchange for XL but I thought it would be huge around middle & besides I have never worn anything in my life an XL and not about to start now (yeah, yeah, yeah it's "just a number" not a determination of value; fit is more important then size; etc I know it all but ya know pride is pride)

- RD Style Arisbeth Crochet Trim Cotton Top $54
True to it's name this one is 100% cotton so blessedly light & breathable and it just might be the perfect white, summer shirt.  Initially I thought it was actually a little big but then decided that the looseness was just enough to prevent sticking everywhere.  I have already worn this with both shorts & a jean skirt - very cute either way - and can easily see it transitioning to fall with a jean or leather jacket or maybe even a sweater.  And with the $20 styling credit, $34 is a great price for something this versatile!

- Kut from the Kloth Corynne Boyfriend Short $68
I love that Suzanne stays on the lookout for button closures for me & also thought these would be a fun color.  I agree that the color is fun but I don't have a ton to pair with them, in a perfect world I would've kept them & bought more shirts to wear with them :-P.  But unfortunately at the time $68 was just too much to spend on a limited use item - even a perfectly fitting, amazingly comfortable item *sigh* adulting is no fun :/

-Papermoon Sarani Ribbon Detail Top $44
A year ago I would've completely walked past this top without even a look because stripes just were not my thing.  Somehow I thought they'd never work on my short, athletic frame but Stitch Fix is slowly turning me into a stripes lover. Pulling it out of the box I thought that the shoulder color blocking & ribbon detail would make me look boxy but it doesn't at all. Probably due to the 60/40 Poly/Rayon blend it has enough flow & swing to mimic a knit swing tank but is much lighter.  However the armholes (on large) were HUGE & the length was almost tunic-like on me.  I tried requesting a medium but it wasn't in stock so oh well.

Fix #8
- Seychelles Nifty Woven Flat $90
First the smell of this leather alone was almost enough to make me buy them & I could tell immediately that they were great quality & quite likely well worth the $90 price tag.  But they didn't fit well at all, too long in length & too narrow across the toe box.  Also while I appreciate the silver metallic color with jute rope detail as a versatile summer look that can go with a dress as easily as shorts & tee; I couldn't get past the overall style.  My aunts in their 60's & 70's wear shoes like this & just barely into my 30's I'm not ready to go down that road yet.

- THML Zaviera Spilt Neck Top $58

This is why I love Stitch Fix they send me things that not only had I never considered but never seen as well.  I loved the different-ness of this pattern & I know the tassels/ pom poms are on trend so why not give it a go.  But the fit was very odd, and I honestly I'm not even sure I had it adjusted correctly.  I pulled the strings until the top hem was just below my collarbone & the grey middle section was around my middle (under bust)  and the bottom hem hit at hip length - like this it was very voluminous and didn't seem to flatter at all.  The tassels would have never lasted around my kids so it would've been reserved as a special occasion shirt anyways so back it went. (100% Rayon by the way)

- Skies Are Blue Godfrey Crochet Detail Top $54
One of the seemingly few Skies Are Blue shirts that fit nicely all around!  This too is 100% Rayon (minus detailing) which makes it extraordinarily light & comfortable.  I was sold on the back pretty much immediately but I was completely sure about yellow *&* blue embroidery on an already busy (but pretty) background it just seemed like too much.  But the husband & kids talked me into & glad they did since it's become one of my absolute favorites! -Skies Are Blue Palvin Crochet Detail Top $54 

This has a really pretty but understated print & the red detailing makes it perfect for any patriotic event & in 100% Rayon you would stay nice & cool.  But while it seemed to fit across the front, the buttons pulled & gaped on the back - perhaps if the buttons had been on front & opened one or two it would've worked out better.  Again frustrating that like everything else with this brand, it fit perfectly across the bottom! -Kut From The Kloth Lonnie Distressed Boyfriend Short $68 
Kut From the Kloth & particularly this "Boyfriend" style fit well on me but I can't stand this distressing trend it should've been left in the 90's were it belonged because it just looks sloppy.  Also I thought the black was too dark for me & would be really hot in the sun so back they went. 
My last two fixes all wrapped up, with 2 shirts added to my minuscule wardrobe :-P.  If you'd like to try Stitch Fix for yourself, I'd appreciate you clicking my link & I'll get a small credit thank you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Father's Day

When it comes to making cards for men, it can seem like all you do is repeat the same style & theme constantly.  This is particularly true for my woodsmen father-in-law, I think nearly every card &/or gift in 10 years has been wood or tool themed.  I was desperate to do something new when my husband reminded me that his family sailed a lot when he was a kid and those outings formed the man (& sailor) he is today.  Then I was scrolling through my Cameo (.svg) files for something else & came across "You are my Anchor" design by Carta Bella so it seemed fitting to become the focus of this years father's day card.  I printed out the design on canvas before cutting it out on my cameo.  For the background I painted waves on a lt blue background & spread translucent texture paste through a dot fade stencil to create a sea look.  Then I used some (Carta Bella) paper scraps I had on my desk to make triangles & sewed them into a circle.

**Entered @ Simon Says Stamp Wednesday "For A Guy" Challenge

My husband's card I left up to my (elder) children's design; my elder daughter wanted blue & hearts & my son wanted metallic gears. So for the background I embossed Silhouette Gold Foil in a Tim Holtz gear folder & then aged it with Archival Ink.  The central heart is made of metal gears painted in picket fence & embossed with Rusty Hinge Distress Powder.  The sentiment photographed darker then it really it is - simply stamped on manila scraps (that was colored with London Blue Dylusions & Vintage Photo Distress Stain).

Making Father's Day cards led me to thinking about my late maternal Grandpa & consequentially my Grandma.  And of course one doesn't really ever need a reason to send a card, so I thought a little surprise mail would make her day.  The background is embossed in a Craftwell herringbone folder & lightly splattered with Antique Gold Distress Paint.  The cute hot air balloon is from Simon Says Stamp "Darling Friends" collection, colored with Cracked Pistachio/ Abandoned Coral/ Faded Jeans/ Vintage Photo/ Hickory Smoke Distress Markers then covered in a thin layer of Stickles & mounted on an Action Wobble Spring.