Monday, November 24, 2014

Raining diamonds

Today brought 72 degree temps, a strong breeze, bright sunshine and a crisp blue sky. As I stood drinking my coffee looking out the open screen door I was drawn to the patterns last night's rain left on the patio. It looked like mother nature had rained diamonds.... The contrast of shadow of the stair railing against the water pattern was just...pretty.
     It's hard to believe we are expecting significant snow in less than 48 hours. In the valley though, it could end up being nothing, which is just as well. We'll see.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Best Gift Evah...

The kids in my family are getting older and it gets increasingly more challenging to select gifts that you know they'll like. Everyone is also spread out across several states and ease of packing and mailing often wins in the end. I subscribe to the K.I.S.S. method of the holiday season because it keeps me sane. Enter...the King. Cash. Would you like plastic or paper? (One of my nieces told me some time ago after receiving a Visa Gift Card; "Best gift EVAH!") Score.

I've done a number of things to present the gift cards or cash I gave in the past. Usually they just get placed in a card or bag with a small trinket, or just in a bag alone, then mailed or hand delivered, and that's that. Sometimes I actually do shop if I have a specific request. The last time I asked one of them for a gift suggestion via text, I was told 'I' Score.

Yes it would be easier to just go to Walmart, grab a money holder card, get the cash back at the register and be done... (yep, 'easier', Walmart during the holiday season, uh huh, anyway..) But that wouldn't give me an excuse to stay in my jammies, crazy socks, oversized hoodie, drink coffee , put the dogs to work, and singing along to iTunes Radio all day.
The dogs are helping me today. 

Besides...we all got into this paper crafting hobby to save money, right? ;-) Greeting cards are expensive!!!! my quest to be more crafty and creative this year I decided to embark on a clever way to present 'the best gift ever'. the interest of bringing the season of thanks into this Christmas focused post...I am thankful for......Google. The internet is meant for people like me. I really try NOT to be clever on my own. Very dangerous. Add wine and it can get downright messy. It's much easier to just copy (with credit!) someone else's cleverness. Google gave me several options, one of which I kept displayed on my MacBook Air for reference when I had time to put it together. It was from a blog post from 2009 (the credit for the cleverness) so I sure didn't want to have to dig for it again later. Sometimes that Google can be a teeny weeny bit inconsistent. 

Today I got ready to start the project since we are doing "Thanks-mas" with my side of the family, who are separated by I don't know, 12? hours, next week. I have a to do list a mile long so I wanted to get this done and have some peaceful creative time today. 

Since I'm over 40 now and according to the eye doc (who is maybe 17) I will need bifocals next time (uh, whatever!), I wanted to get that blog post onto my 21.5" iMac screen so I could see it across the room. Did you know that if you bring safari up on your iMac, things you've found on your other devices running safari magically show up? WHA???? How does it do THAT???? 

It's past lunch time, so here's the finished products. Happy pre-Thanksgiving grocery shopping. You know you WILL forget something right? No sense getting upset about it. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

More fun with CAS(E) this Sketch Blog

When I saw my email today from CAS(E) this Sketch Blog I immediately thought of this patterned paper pack I both the small and large 12x12. It's called Simple Elegance, by The Paper Studio. I originally bought it because it matches so much of my house decor that I knew sometime I'd want to come up with a wall hanging of some kind.

Anyway....the sketch was a bit scary...because you know, it looks like a lot of ..... Geometry.
I can do Algebra problems as long as my driveway, but I don't DO Geometry, which is why the sides overlap instead of come out cut just right from the corner of a paper, like one of those ruler that look like an L. There is a pattern to the overlap so I call it....a design element. ;-)

For the sentiment, I had the embossing tinsel out from another project I attempted that ended up in the round file, so I embossed that sentiment so it would pop off the black background.

I can say this was super fun and quick once I simplified the process.


We had a beautiful weather week, until today. Cloudy, 15-20 or so degrees colder than yesterday...just gray. For some reason labrador who is very convincing when she has to pee/is hungry we were up an hour earlier than normal despite the darkness of the mornings. Consequently I got some things finished around the house early (go figure). My early rising this morning gave me some time to play with another sketch challenge from Freshly Made Sketches Blog, while the dog snores at my feet. Thanks Halle.

This little guy arrived on my doorstep last month when I rejoined The Stamps of Life Monthly Stamp Club and I've been looking forward to using it ever since. Snowman2Build reminds me of the old Stampin' Up 'Frosty', which was always a fun winter set.

I've had some mica flake glitter for years, never used until today. Perfect for that snowman-y look. You may think I'm ready for the white stuff. I'm not. Here's the sketch....head over to the blog linked to see how many others interpret this sketch. Very fun!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday Crafty Time

Wednesdays are our weekday 'rest day' from our four evenings per week at CrossFit.

While I love the gym time with my husband and daughter, I enjoy not rushing around on Wednesdays and planning my day/evening around the 4-6 pm block..which ends up extending way beyond that by the time showers, dinners, etc get going. I generally keep the errands to a minimum and lately I'm trying to commit to spending time on Wednesdays (and other days!) doing some creative things, reading, and just being at home. Home is my favorite place to be. In PJs. All day.

Today I worked (way too long) on a Sketch from CAS(E) this sketch blog. I say 'way too long' because I thought I'd never get it 'right'. The sketch is pretty clean and seemed pretty easy...hmmm...

I knew I wanted to use the Chrysanthemum stamp I had from The Stamps of Life, mums2stamp. The card was to go in the mail to my grandma today, who is recovering from an injury. Yikes! A deadline!

I tried to combine with a color combo challenge from another site and I just couldn't get it together without adding some green so I bagged that plan. Once I stamped the mums, they called to be cut out using some nestibilities dies I had on hand.

Well, I haven't done much paper craft stuff in several years and that process required doing some research on how to run the dies and stamped images through the die cutting machine...oye! I managed to NOT break the plates to the machine AND get the images cut pretty quickly with the help of 'Google'. I now understand why this Nestibilities Dies thing becomes a sickness among paper crafters.

I chose the pattern paper early on as 'the one'...but pushed it aside and tried at least 10 others when I was trying to make the color combo work without green...and brought it right back once I added the stems to the mums. I just can't do the free floating flower thing. It just seems incomplete. So there it is...and it got in the mail at least an hour ahead of the mail truck.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Vintage Christmas

Through one of the other blogs I follow I was introduced to The Paper Players.

This week's challenge was to use something vintage on a card. I don't have a lot to choose from when it comes to Christmas vintage...and I wanted to keep making Christmas cards so my time had purpose! I came across this nutcracker tag punch out from Graphic 45 in my stash.

Nutcrackers are so traditionally Christmas....I added some paper from The Paper Studio Old World Winter stack and this went together so quickly! Keeping with my goal of clean and simple design for Christmas cards, I had three of the images on the sheet so I actually knocked out three cards at that!

Time to start the Christmas Cards.

Good afternoon. While I love Thanksgiving, I'm pretty happy to have my Thanksgiving cards ready to go so I can enjoy the month and the holiday.  I made a few Fall cards this year but I also went back through my stash from previous years and used some of those.

I tried so hard to decide to use some old Christmas cards I made in previous years this year as well so not to waste them, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I really like making Christmas cards. So if any of my non-crafty or time crunched friends would like my old hand made Christmas cards (maybe a couple dozen?), just let me know. We can work something out.

I know it's early, but the earlier I start on these, the more fun I have, and the less stress there is involved. I pulled out all my Winter and Holiday themed stamp sets, papers, embellishments, etc and I made my Christmas inspiration basket to put on my table to make it easier to see what I have on hand.

When it comes to Christmas cards, I usually go for simple and clean. I've made cards to sell in the past and these types of designs that lend themselves to mass production are often the most cost effective.

I love sketch challenges, because they allow for some creative interpretation and helps things often go together quickly.  This one from Freshly Made Sketches (#161) is the newest. I plan to do several sketch challenges in coming weeks to build my Christmas card selection to send out this year (or sell if anyone asks). If I don't get enough one of a kind designs, I'll go back later and mass produce some that went together pretty quickly. This is one of them.

Stamp Set: Lace Snowflakes, Stampin' Up.
Cardstock: Off white, red, silver
Papers: Fair Isle Christmas, Deja Vus
Miscellaneous: Silver heat embossing powder, silver cord

Monday, November 3, 2014

Early sunrise

Who was thankful for today's early sunrise to start the Monday? The hubby texted me when he got to work and said: "Beautiful drive, only good thing about DST (ending)."

I even got up early. Uh huh. It will take me a week or so to battle that sleep/wake monster.

I'm not much of a morning person so I personally would rather have a little more daylight in the evenings, but either way, around here the sunrises and sunsets are a spectacular event.

Have a glorious day!~

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Falling back, looking forward

Staircase: Handley Regional Library, Winchester VA
    Falling back...the time change.

     This early Fall event signals the start of our family's dread of dwindling daylight and all the mood and motivation that dwindles with the sunlight. We live near the eastern edge of the Eastern Time Zone so as I started this post at 430pm telling the dog 'it's not time to eat yet', it IS looking a lot like the dinner hour instead of afternoon...and it will only get worse the closer we get to the Winter Solstice.
     At any rate the flipping of the calendar to November always triggers in me a sort of reflection upon the year and thinking forward to the new year.
     In past years, around this time I usually get caught up on the annual scrapbook, start thinking about what goals I set at the beginning of the year, what I still have to accomplish or table for the next year, and begin really thinking about holiday plans.
     Let's take a little inventory of where I stand on some of those things and where I want to go....because some of these things will come up in my posts in the coming year as the goal of this site is a forum for creativity through writing, photographs, and artsy crafty productions.

  • Annual scrapbook: Yes, I'm one of 'those' people. I try not to let my pictures reside in the deep recesses of a hard drive for infinity. That being said, I take a very low stress approach to it. I use it as more of a storytelling and writing avenue and a reason to get all those pictures off digital media rather than a terribly creative one. Plus I suffer from CRS (Can't Remember, uhhh, Squat) and memory keeping and writing helps me preserve the thoughts in my head that leave as quickly as they arrive. (Thank you Day One App for iEverything) As much as I love paint, canvas, paper, stamps, ink and glitter for the purpose of cards or cutesy fun things, I actually hate scrapbooking in the traditional sense. I could never understand why people used all that stuff for one tiny picture on a huge 12x12 page. I tried it, and I was pretty decent at it, but I always knew it just wasn't me. 

     After being 'caught up' for all but two years in the mid 2000s, this year I bagged the family scrapbook way back in Week 2. I decided it just wasn't in the cards this year despite the easy to manage method I use (Becky Higgins Project Life with lots of inspiration from Cathy Zielske) I did, however make sure to keep my proven photo organization intact on the computer. If you want to see a photo from June 2014, I can get you one in about 10 seconds.
     My personal opinion on the scrapbooking thing is that it is very valuable in telling the stories of your life, especially the day to day things that at the time may seem mundane but when you go back later on are the most treasured bits and pieces. Plus, nowadays we all seem to have a camera in our hands. The stories behind them need preserved for the future. I have released the idea of our 2014 book being in the shelf. In future years its absence will be a void, but that tells a story as well. The 2015 book's opening pages will likely explain why to the future reader. My focus needed to be elsewhere this year.

  • Resolutions Goals for the year. I stopped making resolutions several years ago. Who keeps them? Really? Several years ago I was going through a refocusing of my life and ran across a blog post on Ali Edwards  website, who I follow still. She selected a word of the year, and called it One Little Word. I was inspired at the approach because she really has a way of embracing a word each year and making it hers, then seeing how that word shapes her year.      So in late 2008 going into 2009, I decided this was how I was going to set goals and approach things going into the new year. I chose the following that year and in subsequent years: Simplify, Focus, Discover, Leap, Build, and this year Trust. You can check out last year's One Little Word post to get the idea. It really is kind of fun. 
      The single best thing about choosing a word these last few years, for me, has been each word becomes a mantra for the year at the beginning, then toward the end it is a pretty accurate reflection on the year. Even though I didn't scrapbook my year I do recall times when the word (as well as previous years' words) found me in my every day life this past year. I often bring the word to mind when trying to make a decision or deal with a situation. Trust this year has meant trust the processes in my life, trust the people in my life, trust myself, trust God's plan for me, among other things.
      This is the time of year where I start looking for next year's word to find me, and it always does. I'm sure this will be the subject of a later blog post.

  • Holiday projects There's something about this time of year where even the least crafty of us tend to get a little creative. I've always thought it's a lack of outdoor activity thing bringing us indoors after active summers and a perhaps a throwback to our childhoods of making things in school to give as gifts to our families. Who doesn't love a paper chain hanging on the tree? 
     This fall I'm taking part in the 'thankful' movement and doing Cathy Zielske's 30 Days of Thankful project. It is a pretty simple documentation with photo(s) project of what many people post on social media throughout November. I may share a few things from the album here in more detail in coming weeks, but lots of what I photograph and journal is private family stuff, and the internet is a pretty public thing, so I'm guarded that way. (I'm trying here Dad, to do what you told me, and not waste my love of the written word, we'll see how it evolves. ;-)
     I may do December Daily along with Ali Edwards, but I've yet to determine a format that isn't too overwhelming and I want to focus on some hands on paper crafting with cards and things this year so we'll see what happens. These mini digital projects help me with my ongoing goal of learning more about Photoshop and doing most of my scrapbooking with digital templates, then either printing the final product in a book or printing the pages and dropping them in an album. I also want to get my habit back around to regular life documentation because I WILL be doing an annual album again in 2015. Just like anything else, if you have a routine and a habit, you'll be more likely to stick with it.
     I'm doing the Project Life  method again as the backbone of the album because it just works for me. If you are curious about scrapbooking but just don't know how to get going, check it out. I do digital pages, then keep the little pieces of life's ephemera and put it all in one album per year. But if all you want to do is print your photos and write a little something about them, it really is just that simple with the products available. Oh yah, and there's an app for that too which is a game changer for lots of people. No computer required. Just your iPhone or iPad, upload to a printing service or photo book, and you're done. (coming soon to droid)
     I spent some time today assembling folders on my computer with digital elements I plan to use, most of them from Cathy Zielske. I took last year's title page, which never got printed, and adapted it for 2015. I taped a few visual representations of the elements I chose to use this year to my computer screen so I can easily decide from week to week what to use in the albums. I have so many more options in my collection, but after the derailing of last year, I realize it's best to just keep it super simple. I realize that my super simple may be more complex than your super simple. I encourage you to find your own 'simple'. lol.
     So that's where I have been today, and where I'm heading. Thanks for coming along on the journey. it time for bed yet?