Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's My SITS Day!


Woohoo, it's my SITS day! (I bet you couldn't read that in the weird post-title font, could you?)   I've been looking forward to being featured on SITS, and the day has come!  I'm so happy (and kind of nervous--like I'm having a party and didn't clean well enough!)  I'm a shy one, after all...

If this is your first time here, welcome! If you're a blogger, and you're not familiar with SITS, I recommend that you come on over and participate in the community.  I've met so many wonderful bloggers and have learned so much about blogging and social media there.

My blog is eclectic and hard to categorize (kind of like me!)  In a nutshell, I love to be creative, and that spreads to every area of life, doesn't it?  I like to make things, read things, photograph things, grow things, talk about things...you get the idea!  I tend to sprinkle pictures of my family and our baby, oops I mean our Yorkie, Sunny, into the blog too.  My About Me page  will give you a bit more detail, well, about me.

Some of my favorite posts and my readers' favorite posts are on my sidebar, and some of my craft tutorials and recipes are in the nav bar at the top, so please feel free to explore!

I'd love for you to follow me on Twitter, Bloglovin, Pinterest, GFC, and/or subscribe to my posts by email.

Thanks so much for visiting. Your comments really do make my day!

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Deb's Sleeves

That's me in the very shiny, teal dress in 1992.  I was the matron of honor at my sister's wedding.  My name isn't Deb.

Did you see Napoleon Dynamite?  Do you remember the scene where Napoleon tells Deb, "I like your sleeves. They're real big"?   Well, I can't look at this photo without those words running through my head.

I think my sister was a very pretty bride, big sleeves and all.  (And I still have that shiny, teal dress!)

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pointed Pen Calligraphy--Encouragement and Resources for Beginners

Hi all. Have you been staying warm?

(I just had to throw that snuggly picture of Sunny up there.)

Now on to the real reason for this post. I love calligraphy, but I have known quite a few people who have been intimidated by it.  A friend of mine took a class once but felt that she wasn't able to learn it.  It does take patience, but if you try it, please don't give up.  One day it will click, and then, with practice, you'll  be able to produce some hand lettering that will surprise you. Really!

I've done italic calligraphy for years, but recently, I've begun learning pointed pen calligraphy, specifically copperplate and variations of it.  It's a beautiful, flowing hand, and I'm excited to be making progress with it. It also has me working with dip pens a lot, because for pointed pen calligraphy, a dip pen is best, as the nib needs to be flexible, and fountain pen nibs really aren't (unless you want to pay big dollars for vintage ones!) Plus, you really can't get that nice, elegant line variation with a fountain pen.

By the way, calligraphy involves drawing individual strokes with a pen; it isn't really handwriting at all.  Your own handwriting is sort of irrelevant here, so don't worry if yours isn't the best.

Now, you just read above that you can't get good line variation (thicks and thins) with a fountain pen (which is true--the nibs aren't flexible enough), but I did use a fountain pen for the sample above. (Sometimes you just have to use whatever is convenient, and a fountain pen is more portable!)  But I will post some better samples for you in the future!

It's been a fun, creative process to learn pointed pen calligraphy.  I was surprised that my background in italic calligraphy shortened the learning curve.

Here are the books that I have been using. I highly recommend them:

Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy: A Step-by-Step Manual by Eleanor Winters

Modern Mark Making  by Lisa Engelbrecht
(If you click this banner and buy the books from Biggerbooks.com, I will get a small commission for your purchase.)
Free Shipping at BiggerBooks.com

I purchased my nibs and ink from Paper and Ink Arts and John Neal Bookseller--both are excellent online resources.

There are also really good video tutorials by Joe Vitolo at Iampeth.com, as well as free, printable guidelines there (that I print out on quality, bright white inkjet paper for practice.)

I hope you'll try pointed pen calligraphy. It's a beautiful way to add fun and elegance to your art projects and correspondence (yes, sometimes I do still correspond by real mail--remember this post?)

(As an update, we are still struggling with the home renovation issues, but we're making progress.  I haven't been here at the blog as often as I'd like, so I appreciate your visit today!)

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013-A Very Strange Year

Well, it's a new year--thank goodness!  As we're preparing to take down the Christmas decorations, I'm looking back and ahead at the same time.

 2013 had some wonderful highlights, including my son's college graduation. Plus, my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. 25 years!  (And, the Cardinals were in the World Series, which equals a fun October. If you're a baseball fan, you understand.)  I'm incredibly grateful for those sweet events.

To my immediate family, though,  2013 will always remain "the lost year."   What am I talking about? (No, I'm not referring to the loss of our 18 year old monarch--Lucy, our Siamese cat. Although that was sadness, and we are still grieving.)

Since I didn't really talk about this at my blog (my blog is one of my escapes from the trials of everyday life, so I share the positives mostly!), suffice it to say that home renovations, coupled with chemical sensitivities, can sometimes be nightmarish and expensive. And, while hotel living can be fun for the short term, it can very depressing to not be able to live in one's own house full-time.  And, tearing out newly installed, beautiful flooring and decorative additions can be, in a word, miserable. And having these events stretch out over a full year, well, you get the idea.

Couple all of that with the fact that some people, even very close people, simply don't understand such rare and bizarre circumstances, and so much of it gets misinterpreted and misunderstood.

Waah waah, right?  Life can be difficult, and our situation--as rough as it's been for us--is minor, compared with the trials others are suffering.

So, with eager anticipation, I'm looking at 2014 with high hopes and optimism. I've recently received a job offer that will fit with my schedule beautifully, and I have some other creative, income producing plans in  mind. It's exciting!

I'm one who believes that God uses these trials in our lives for good. (I've seen it happen many times in my life.) And, as I told my husband the other day, "Someday we'll look back on all of this and (maybe) laugh."

So, Happy New Year everyone!  I wish each one of you a joyful 2014.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Our Simple Photo Christmas Card

When my kids were little, I'd faithfully take their "Christmas card picture" every year, usually in front of our Christmas tree.  I was a stickler for details when it came to the clothes for those photos--new outfits, candy cane tights for my daughter, and with her dresses, the "bow shoes" of course. I'm not sure why I thought they always had to be bow shoes. I wasn't such a stickler for my son's shoes, apparently--(notice the sneakers in the second photo.) But then, he had no interest whatsoever in dressing up!  One year, we ended up at the mall for the shoot, amidst a zillion shoppers and the giant candy canes and fake snow. Fun pictures (but I need to find them and scan them. Yes, they were taken with film...)

Mine are the two matchers on the sides (cousin in the middle)
As my kids grew older and life became more busy, the Christmas photo sessions became less frequent, and our relatives and friends mentioned that they missed the Christmas picture that I used to incorporate into the card (and sometimes they missed getting a card at all!)  Plus, some of the older relatives don't have Facebook, so they haven't seen pictures of our "kids" in a while.

A few days ago,  I put this photo collage together in a few minutes on PicMonkey, and I'm really happy to be sending a photo card this year.  In hindsight, I'd have made this a 5x7 style, as I already have 5x7 photo paper.  (Both of my kids also think it needs to be redone to include a picture of my husband and me! The problem is finding a recent picture of the two of us together. We need to work on that...)

I really like PicMonkey. It's a free site that allows you to edit your photos with basically no learning curve. I especially appreciate how easy it is to make photo collages there. (I've made blog banners in the past with the collage feature.)  I often use PicMonkey for my photo editing too, instead of some of the photo editing programs I've actually paid for, because I like simple and fast. Plus it's fun.

PicMonkey gave me a free month of their Royale upgrade, in return for showing you my collage. I have used and loved PicMonkey for a while now, so I was happy to do it. Although PicMonkey is free, you can also upgrade to the Royale plan to get access to more features.  I recommend them highly and just recently become an affiliate.

I hope you enjoyed some of my old film memories!  (Photo sessions were a lot more complicated before digital--I never knew what I had gotten until I had the film developed.)

These munchkins are now 23 and 19 years old.

I'd love to hear about your holiday photo stories!

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Candle Display

The older I get, the more I enjoy simplicity.  And traditions.  Every Christmas season, we pull the decorations from their corner of the basement, and with very little variation, we deck the house.  There's something comforting about that for me.  Are you like that too?

So here's my simple, quick, way to display a Christmas candle. Place the candle in the center of a small plate or candle tray.  Arrange some small ornaments around it.  Done!  Simple, right?  But much more festive than the candle alone, I think.

Christmas time came in a hurry for us, and I'm a little behind on things.  How are you doing? 

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Quilted Christmas Ornament

This cute little ornament could very well be one of the simplest crafts I have ever done. I can't even remember when I made the one in the picture, but a crafty friend showed me how to do this many years ago.

Now, even though our Christmas tree is not really country inspired, this little quilted guy fits right in. Our tree is  always crazily eclectic (well, kind of like me!), and my favorite ornaments are the ones my kids made when they were little. I add red and white beaded garland and lots of candy canes to the tree, so there is a definite red and white theme going on every year that helps tie all of the ornament styles together-- the salt dough bride and groom from our first Christmas together, fingerprint ornament from my once kindergarten boy, baby's first Christmas ornaments, crystal icicles that were a gift from my friend, and on and on.

You will need:

A small styrofoam ball
Small fabric squares
Butter knife
Cord or ribbon
Tack or pin

Here's how to make a quilted ornament:

1.)  Cut fabric into small squares. I think mine were about 2 inches, but if you want more sections on
       the ornament cut them smaller, and for less sections, cut them larger.

2.)  Using a butter knife,  gently tuck the edges of the squares into the ball.  Continue tucking             
       squares into the ball, until it is covered.

3.)   Cut a few inches of coordinating cord or ribbon, form a loop, and tack it into the ornament to
        form the hanger.

That is literally all there is to it. Simple and sweet.

I can imagine some of these ornaments on a themed tree, with fabric chosen to match the theme-- vintage style fabrics, music pages, candy cane fabric, calico, etc.  For a gift, you could make one with fabrics that relate to the gift recipient's hobbies or style. 

This would be a fun activity to do with kids.  Have fun with it! 

Linking to:
You're Gonna Love it Tuesday
Made By You Monday
Inspire Me Monday
Handmade Tuesdays
Ladies Only Blog Share
Made in a Day
Pretty Wednesday
Well Crafted Wednesdays

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