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.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

This one's for the boy...

Sometimes I think boys can be shorted when it comes to crafting because girl stuff is generally easier & (at least my eldest) girls tend to request things to be made much more frequently.  But you know even if they don't say so, boys like to have things 'just for them' too!

When we redid my son's awhile ago I in his desired robot theme I made him a canvas to match.

The entire canvas was covered with Shabby Shutters & Peeled Paint distress paint blended together with a barely wet paint brush.  Once that was dry I used Mowed Lawn & Forest Moss distress stain through gear stencils (cut from my Cameo) and for more depth I used Brushed Pewter distress paint with a dry sponge for a softer look & Broken China mixed into texture paste.  After those were dry I miked Spiced Marmalade into clear translucent texture paste & spread it through the dot fade stencil randomly. I believe it was Dina Wakley who said you could never have too many layers so as a last canvas layer I covered a numbers stamp with Brushed Pewter distress paint & rolled it in random places across the front.  While each canvas layer was drying I worked on the robots for the front; I cut them out of chipboard from a Cameo file, covered them with foil tape & colored them with alcohol inks.  Finally the title is cut out of grungepaper (JW Alphabet font on Cameo) , embossed with a gears folder & painted in Brushed Pewter.

As I wrote about last week I made my niece a doll carrier & once I finally bribed my son to wear so I could get pictures he didn't want to take it off (5 yr olds!).  So I promised to make him one of his own.  I struck gold & found out-of-production "How to Train Your Dragon" fabric at JoAnn's for $2/yd (after sale & coupon) so I bought all they had to make a beanbag cover (not done yet) and had plenty leftover for his own carrier.

Of course the first toy to get the privilege of being carried was his beloved Eeyore & he declared "now it's even easier to give him kisses!"

And at of course Stormfly "is bored & needs to go to Target with us!" - why I didn't think of this years ago when Erin was small & left her beloved friends all over the place, they can't get lost if attached!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Stitch Fix #7

With our signature high humidity & temperatures rising well over 90F before lunch I was really looking forward to some comfy summer clothes in my June fix.  Alas, it wasn't meant to be :-(  My usual stylist, Suzanne, was on vacation so another one stepped in to cover her clients.  And to be fair I think this guest stylist did the best she could, I imagine it's hard to come in cold & try to be educated guesses.  I was slightly annoyed that while I specifically request casual clothes for the beach & playground I was sent 2 dresses & a long necklace - that might fly for a single woman in the city but not a mom of 3!

I see where the stylist was going with this top, it's lightweight & has a open lace back (above the shoulders).  However it was extremely baggy & shapeless on my frame and near see-through.  Also I didn't care for the odd ribbed texture & the color washed out my Irish skin.

I know chambray button ups are supposed to be a summer staple & this fabric was divine (ultra soft!) but buttons & my chest haven't gotten along since adolescence :-/.  While the buttons did technically close they gaped in between each one while the bottom was big around my waist/ lower torso.  I loved the fabric & polka dot so much that I thought I could wear it open over a tank top but unfortunately that looked ridiculous too.

Initially I thought this lace dress had potential but it was heavy & lace felt like the cheap variety you'd find on children's clothes.  The length & overall fit of the bottom was decent but the top had a very odd fit & didn't give me any shape.  With my jean jacket on it looked 100x better but since that's thoroughly impractical for FL summer it went back.

When I pulled this dress out of the box I was initially excited because it felt really light & has a cute boat print.  But I could not figure out what to do with the side bow, if I left it loose then I might as well have been wearing a bag but if I cinched it in then the top billowed out making me appear bigger.  The final nail in the coffin though was the neckline, it came all the way to my neck & felt suffocating no matter how much I tried to pull it down.

I like to wear layering necklaces for nice events so I thought that I could at least salvage my $20 stylist's fee with this & worst case gift it to someone else....But no this felt & looked so cheap (@ $34!!!) that I'd feel like a grinch gifting it & never wear it myself!.  And granted I'm short but this was so long it nearly reached my waist - with an 8mth old & 5 yr old no freaking way!  Worst for me was that the inner layer is these thin links that would not lie flat & straight for anything driving my OCD brain up a wall so back it went.

So I'm still without much summer wear but like I said can't be too mad at someone new cold picking items, we have all gone shopping for ourselves & left with nothing so meh it happens.  I went ahead and moved up next fix though so here's hoping it'll be better.  Overall I still think Stitch Fix is an awesome service & worth the occasional miss so if you'd like try for yourself you can go through my referral link & I'll get a small credit, thank you!

Stitch Fix Part I
Stitch Fix Part II

Teacher Gifts

One of my favorite crafts to do is gifts for my kids' teachers!  I have so much respect for the teaching profession - in large because I know I couldn't do it! - education is truly a calling  & I love how the right teacher can make all the difference in a child's life.  This year was particularly special because it was Dillon's 1st year (PK) and Erin had an AMAZING teacher this year after an extremely frustrating last year.

Erin's teacher had a wilderness theme to her classroom with the slogan Children Actively Making Progress (C.A.M.P) and a moose named Maggie as the mascot.  So I made her a wooden "Welcome to C.A.M.P" sign with a moose sitting outside a tent & a card to match - unfortunately I didn't have time to take pictures so you'll just have to take my word that it was cute :-P.

For Dillon's teacher I made a plantar box with some metal pails that could be used for plants or school supplies.  All year I had the phrase "Bloom where you planted" running through my head because Erin had the same teacher but at a different school so while they didn't get the same PK experience it was still a good school career start.  It was even more appropriate because this teacher happens to love flowers and gardening as a hobby.

Again I wish I had time to get nicely staged pictures so you can see all the details!  My husband built the box out of basic poplar (can't see the embellished pails :-( ) and then I did several layers of white washing with dry brush streaks of Hickory Smoke,Vintage Photo & Walnut Stain distress paint.  In between each layer of paint I sanded some paint away & the edges/ corner so that in the end it looked like it was well-worn. I then stenciled wildflowers around the sides with Tarnished Brass & went over it with a wipe to make it look faded.  Finally I hand lettered the phrase on one side in acrylic paint before coating the whole piece in polyurethane for durability.  The pails I got from the dollar spot @ Target, painted chalkboard rectangles on each one, embellished each one with wildflowers (in chalk paint) & labeled them "Love" "Patience" "Time".  All in all this was one of those projects that seems so simple in your head but ends up taking WAY longer then you thought!  So thankfully she loved it lol, said it was going on her kitchen counter as a reminder to herself & her kids :-D.
** Entered to Simon Says Stamp Monday "Summer Garden" Challenge

Bonus:  The pails I made the teachers for Valentine's Day but didn't have a chance to share; both were the same with an embellished heart "You're a hoot!", a Starbucks gift card in holder & a bag of M & Ms :-)

Hope everyone has a great Saturday!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Stitch Fix Part II

So yesterday I hopefully garnered your interest in Stitch Fix and showed 2 of my new favorite dresses that I've purchased from this amazing service.  As a follow-on here are my warm-weather spring/ summer items I've so far purchased:

I'm constantly begging my stylist, Suzanne, for breathable fabrics because summer coastal weather is not for the faint of heart.  Even when it does magically dip below the nineties, it's still 85%+ humidity yuck!  This top is 100% cotton, linen thin & has an open crochet back (above the bra line) - thus it is amazingly cool & comfortable no matter what.  And look at that beautiful embroidery!!  The only negative is it is tighter across the chest then I prefer & I've found that to be common to this brand Skies are Blue.  But an XL probably would've been huge because it's plenty big on bottom & the arm holes are nearly too big on my L.

This top is one I had pinned because I was intrigued by the ombre coloring & split back.  Turns out this too is 100% cotton and oh so comfortable!  It is more flowy then I generally prefer & not the most flattering from the front but again when you live in this climate you've got to make style sacrifices for comfort! The split back is really fun (especially to husband ;-) ) but still modest for the playground lol!

This is another that I pinned because as you've probably guessed I'm a sucker for embroidery but wasn't sure of the color or if it would be too "professional blouse" & not enough "domestic engineer" ;-).  The peachy-coral color is far more pretty in person & surprisingly flattering to my Irish skin!  Also it fits as a loose large, again could possibly do a medium but not sure enough to risk exchanging.  While it does seem to be made to wear with a skirt & layer under a blazer, it works perfectly well with casual shorts too.  I didn't notice until after check-out that it's 100% Polyester so it doesn't breathe at all, every single time I wear it I end up sticky & sweaty.  So for summer at least I reserve it for when I know I'll be indoors ;-)

One thing I love about Stitch Fix is that it introduces new-to-you brands, for instance my new favorite Kut from the Kloth.  These are their Elliott Cargo Shorts, fit me perfectly & love quasi-neutral olive green!  I've read on several other blogs that Stitch Fix must have a magical sizing system for pants & shorts because they seem to find well fitting bottoms when they can't be found *anywhere* else.  I have a naturally athletic/ muscular build (albeit now post-kid paunch) so shorts & jeans always fit in the waist/pelvis but tight in the thigh or fit in the thigh & gap in the waistband.  But not these!- how does that happen?!  Magic I tell you! Usually cargo pockets are the worst thing muscular or otherwise big thighs and yet somehow it works here.  Oh & did I mention they are wonderfully amazing COTTON no spandex?!

These are also by Kut from the Kloth but in a different style; a lighter weight fabric here which you'd think would be even more comfortable but that also means they skim every bump too.  But they do still fit in the waist & thigh (despite being tighter then the Elliott style) & since it's a linen-type look a bit dressier then their rugged Elliott cousin.  I kept them for the overall comfort (& my desperate need for shorts) but they do fall prey to my biggest pet peeve in clothing - trouser closure a.k.a hook & bar.  Thanks to awesome genes I'm barely past 30 & already have arthritis so trying to manipulate that little interior button is a (literal) pain & I never get the hooks on the first try.  Also since I have the standard post kid-paunch these type of closure never lay completely flat which isn't the most flattering (such first world problems :-P lol).

Have you enjoyed seeing these spring/ summer picks?  Have I convinced you to give Stitch Fix a try for yourself?  If you do decided to give it a try, I'd be very appreciative if you'd use my referral link & I'll get a small credit to my account at no cost to you!  Thanks & have a great day :-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Stitch Fix Part I

Stitch Fix is an awesome company that takes the stress and drama out of clothes shopping. Their website probably does the best at explaining everything but basically you fill out a detailed style profile (also make a Pinterest board!), pay a $20 Stylist fee & they send you 5 items to try for 3 days after which you select which items to keep or send back.  The fee is automatically deducted from your total, if you keep all 5 get 25% off or ship it back for free.  If you'd like to try it for yourself, I'd appreciate you using my referral link & I'll get a small account credit (thank you!).

There are a lot of amazing bloggers who share their Fixes beautifully - I particularly like Erin @ Living in Yellow, Maria @ Crazy Together & Elif @ The Box Queen  - so I haven't even tried to compete with great set-ups like these.  Trust me you don't want to see my 8 yr olds attempts @ photgraphing me LOL! But Stitch Fix  provides such a wide range of styles that I figure might as well share what I receive & occassionally I might actually be wearing them ;-)

By and large the most common complaint against Stitch Fix I've read in blog-o-sphere is "it's not the cheapest way to fill a wardrobe".  If you're a devoted thrift store/ bargain shopper, they're prices might be above your comfort level.  You can set your price points ("cheaper the better", $50-100, $100-$150, $200+)  across all categories & they'll do their best to match them but all prices are MSRP and equivalent to what you'd find at the likes of J Crew.  If you purchase all 5 then you get 25% off everything which is a major perk (& pretty equivalent to standard sales).   And if you find the exact same item online for cheaper they'll match it.

Also ask yourself are you going for quality or quantity?  I've long since grown out of 'the $8 shirt "deal" that only lasts 2 months but you don't care because it was $8'! Also for me Target type clothing is notoriusly bad fitting and again don't last much more then a season.  And then there's the simple fact I.HATE.SHOPPING by that I mean it is my 7th circle of h***: bright lights, crowds of people, confusing layouts, inability to find sizes/colors, the small dressing rooms, intending to be helpful sales people commenting on your worst features...oh yeah then there's the 3 young kids I usually have with me - gives me a panic attack just thinking about it.  All of this is why this was my entire wardrobe 10+ yrs out of college & 3 kids later:

Do you see now why I love Stitch Fix?!

First I want to share my favorite item yet, I may or may not have literally squealed when I saw it in the box! Polka dots & soft comfy fabric? - oh yes please!

While they were down here, our parents watch the kids so we could see Captain America: Civil War & this made the perfect date night dress.  Our theater is always frigid so my denim jacket made the perfect complement to the dress.  Unfortunately this angle makes me look still pregnant but oh well :-P.  And oh let me show you the best part:

Yes an interesting & flattering back design that works with a standard bra! Can we say Hallelujah?!

My only real complaint about Stitch Fix is I seem to be right in the middle between a medium & large, since I prefer take "loose" over "form fit" I have my profile set to 12/ Large.  The above dress -while I LOVE it -is really loose fitting, probably could have exchanged it from a medium that would fit perfectly but you only get one exchange.  So if a medium had been too small I would've been stuck unable to wear (which would be awful!).  But now this next dress is also a large & a near perfect fit:

This one is a little on the short side & I generally prefer my skirts/ dresses to pull away rather then being (almost straight).  But the embroidery on the shoulders & bottom hem is GORGEOUS in person & the fabric is the perfectly weight for our humid coastal weather.  I really like how the sleeve/neckline helps to balance out my narrow shoulders & rather large chest.  Also until I received the polka dot dress this was my husband's favorite fix item ;-)

I'll share more of my keeper items in another post since this one is getting rather long ;-)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Crafting for kids

Way back in Feb I had one of these rare afternoons free of kids & responsibilities so I put it to use making everything I wanted to send to my niece this spring.  So starting with Valentine's Day I made her a card (that I forgot to photograpgh :-/)  and a doll carrier.  We had given her a Bitty Baby for Christmas & had intended a stroller for her birthday (in Jan) but they were sold out, so I figured she still "needed" something to carry her baby in!  

Of course the hardest part of this whole enterprise was convincing my son to model his cousin's carrier so I could photograph it -- but then he didn't want to take it off & insisted on his own (but that's for another time ;-) ).

In full disclosure: The method  & creation of making this carrier is from my own mind but I the idea for the overall style of it came from a blog I read many years ago.  I always try to credit another crafter's ideas but I can't find the orgin now so I'm sorry if you happen to read this - unlikely but ya know?

With Valentine's Day done, I went forward to St. Patrick's Day.  My eldest daughter picked out some shamrock bracelets & then I made her this card:

Cut out some custom shamrock stamps on my Cameo & inked them up with Forest Moss & Mowed Grass before stamping all over a piece of white cardstock.  It was looking a little plain so I sprayed it with some gold Heidi Swapp Color Shine.  Modify a Silhouette file to get "Irish Lassie" & cut it out in two different fonts on Cameo - I love that you can cut multiple fonts & shapes at the same time with this machine!  The "hello" is stamped (Hampton Art I think) & of course topped off with ivory & gold twine.

After St. Pat's is of course Easter!  Ever since I saw Tim Holtz's alcohol ink technique  I've been wanting to try it.  Alcohol ink on metal is old news but did you know it works on plastic too?!  I finally found plain white eggs at our brand new Hobby Lobby & decided our niece was the perfect recipient.  After I colored the eggs I filled each one with some small treats & my eldest made a cloth basket to hold them so she (my niece) could play egg hunt anytime!

While I had my alcohol inks out I used them to color a piece of glossy cardstock & spread glitter texture paste through a star stencil.  Then wrote out "Happy Anniversary" with a Perfect Medium pen & coated it with Heirloom Gold Perfect Pearls and fussy cut it out.  I needed something else to balance out the card & thought this present sitting in my scrap pile would work ;-).  Included this in the box to our niece for her parent's anniversary.

Now I've got to tell you that this much was done in Feb well before all these holidays & I had every intention of finishing & sending the package out in time .... but of course life gets in the way more often then we'd like to admit! So by the time I got back around to finishing it all off, my husband had gotten me one of SSS's monthly kits that had the cutest watercolor panel in it.  I decided it was serendipity & colored it in as my niece's Easter Card!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Creative Play

So I had some time to myself - such a rarity with 3 kids & a busy husband! - & had my new favorite medium, Distress Crayons, & one of my favorite stamp/die sets, Crazy Birds, out on my desk and decided to take May Flaum's advice to just play without pressure to make *something*.  And this was my end result...

I wanted to see how these crayons would work with embossing so I scribbled Vintage Photo, Walnut Stain & a little bit of Antique Linen on a piece of heavy white cardstock then used a broad waterbrush to blend them together.  I then inked up my woodgrain embossing folder (by Teresa Collins) with Potting Soil Archival Ink before putting the whole thing through.  I was hoping the Archival Ink would stick to the crayons creating additional depth - didn't really work but the final look is still neat I think.  I love how the browns marbled together to look real wood grain.

Then I wanted to play with blending the crayons some more so I set aside the "wood grain"  and stamped two of each bird in the set on a piece of watercolor paper & set to work.  I tested a different idea on each bird & ended up with 3 I liked (the third is featured on the "birthday wish" card in previous post).  For the blue bird I scribbled several colors of crayon my craft sheet & used a fine tip watercolor brush to pick up pigment to blend onto the stamped bird. I went in several times to create layers & shading.  For the purple bird I colored directly on the stamped bird & used my finger (dipped in water) to blend, I think this makes for a more 'rustic' end look since it's not as smooth & you can see the crayon strokes still but always fun to get a little messy :-P.  I finished both birds with Glossy Accent eyes.

At this point I decided all these parts would make a perfect card for my in-laws because FIL is a woodsman & MIL is a bird lover & they in the woods of rural OH ;-).  So mounted the birds on the woodgrain w/ foam adhesive & added the sentiment stamped on manila, then mounted the whole thing on blue cardstock & topped it off with a twine bow.

Have a great day & remember "the greatest casualty is being forgotten" :-)

** Entered into Simon Says Stamo Wednesday "Anything Goes" Challenge **

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A wish...

"A wish is a dream your heart makes"

This quote/song is one of my all-time favorites and came to my mind when I saw this week's Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge "Make A Wish".  Immediately the idea for a heart shaped dream catcher for my daughters' room came to my mind...but it's already Sunday & I only have a few child-free hours to get teacher gift(s) done so it'll have to be tabled for another time ;-).

Instead I'd like to share the Happy Birthday (wish) card I sent to my Grandma.

I finally got my hands on Tim Holtz's new Distress Crayons & *swoon*  I think I have a new favorite medium.  On this card I used Distress Crayons to color in my Crazy Bird & also for the edging.  I went for an ombre effect through stencil on the background (done with Distress Ink).  I wanted a little bit texture so spread colored texture paste through another stencil & finished off with a hand-lettered "Happy Birthday" musical score.

Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day & remembers those who have given all ;-)