A Sympathy Card

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One of my new supervisees’ grandfather is really ill and not expected to make it.  I made this card, thinking of her, but knowing that if he did make come-back I could keep it for another such occasion.  The theme at the Twist of Faith Cards challenge this month is “Harvest”, and that just seemed to fit really well sympathy card (http://twistoffaithcards.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/challenge-60-harvest.html).

I found the photo of cross-shaped grave markers in the tundra in an old National Geographic (my go-to magazine for beautiful images).  Even though the colors certainly don’t scream “harvest”, I was just really drawn to the picture.  I searched for “harvest” references in my Bible app, knowing that there would be one that was related to the end of life, and found the quote from Matthew 13:39 “The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.”  Even though the reference was to a much larger ending (a foreshadowing of Revelations, it seems), I think it works really well with the passing of an individual, especially one who has lived a long and rich life.

I wanted to get some color in the card, because my coworker’s grandfather has been ill for quite some time (both with dementia and with physical ailments), and in cases like this death can be somewhat of a blessing- both for the person who’s finally passing after years of suffering and her/his loved ones who have had to bare witness to that suffering.  Just like there is some beauty in autumn, with the colors of the leaves and the bounty of the harvest before the cold barrenness of the winter, there can be beauty in passing, surrounded by family and friends, after such suffering.

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Quick Tip Tuesday: Spice up your gift wrapping

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It is possible to be environmentally conscious and still present a well-wrapped gift that doesn’t get newsprint all over the fingers of the recipient (and the wrapper).  The best bet is to use upcycled paper bags or craft paper.  At the very least choose wrapping paper without the glossy coating so it can be recycled (as shown here).  Typical gift ribbons can also be replaced by real ribbon or, in this case, bias tape.  It gives the gift a much more polished look and can be reused by the recipient in a craft project or to wrap another gift (or stolen back by the giver to use again).

Also, you don’t have to wrap every part of the gift.  I made a nice little arrangement, with a couple wrapped gifts and the card, and some extra gifts (that would have been hard to wrap or taken a lot of extra paper.

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Of course, parents and grandparents always love things that are decorated or written on by their kids/grandkids.  For this one, I had our boy label the packages and then color on some warmed-up rocks with crayon (it makes a nice, melty effect).  The rocks served as the “bows”.

ImageAnd incorporating something unexpected in your wrapping, like the palm branch from a recent Palm Sunday, is really the icing on the cake.

Daily Prompt: Childlike

The writing prompt on the Daily Post @ WordPress yesterday was “Childlike” (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/daily-prompt-childlike/).  That seemed pretty perfect for how I spent my weekend… at NYC’s Comiccon.  It wasn’t exactly my idea (okay, my wife had to pretty much drag me), but it certainly did remind me that there’s still a bit of child left in every adult (or at least every adult I saw that day).

A lot of the people who are serious about “Cos Play” are actually really talented- you should see what they create.  They’ll walk around and pose for pictures and this is clearly their chance to shine.  I’m more of a hip-shot kind of a photographer than a pose-for-the-picture photographer, but here are some of the photos I got (I have no idea who more than half of these characters are:

IMG_8759These were my favorites, but the picture came out terrible.  They looked absolutely amazing (no idea what characters they are.)

IMG_8752No idea who this guy is, either, but holy-moly.  He was being led around on a leash (not sure if that’s part of the character, or just because he couldn’t see out of that thing).

IMG_8755My friend Diem, who we went with, and a Stormtrooper.  There must have been at least 100 Stormtroopers in the building at any given time, of all different shapes and sizes (and her husband took pictures of at least half of them).

IMG_8762The family that plays together, stays together.

IMG_8764Even cartoon characters need lunch, too.

IMG_8765My friend from work.  I knew she was going but we hadn’t planned to meet up.  It’s amazing that we happened to run into each other, amidst the 30-40,000 people there (the overall attendance for the 4 day event was 130,000).  And, yeah… she’s a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

My first postcard swap

I’m so excited!  I’m participating in Do What You Love’s Great Big Stitched Postcard Swap (http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/blog/2013/09/the-great-big-stitched-postcard-swap-is-back-design-course-giveaway/).  It’s my first “swap” of any kind and it’s so much fun.  I’m swapping a postcard (as the title suggests, it has to have some kind of stitching on it) with someone in New Zealand.  This is especially fun because my parents have vacationed in Australia and New Zealand a few times and I’ve heard so many stories/seen pictures that they brought back.  This makes it feel even more “close to home”.

So, here’s my card:

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I used a few pieces of scrapbook card stock paper as a stiffish background (knowing that it would be going a LONG way).  I cut the butterflies out of another piece of paper and glued them on then sewed over the top in a kind of a flight pattern.  I used butterflies because of the airmail connection (you know, because butterflies fly).  I can’t find the normal foot for my machine so I used the “N” foot and a stitch that’s made for elastic.  I actually kind of like the way it came out.  I used a metallic thread on top and a dark green in the bobbin- which made for a neat contrast.  The theme for this swap was “Celebrate!”, so I stamped on that word with the subtitle of “Fly Free” (to go with the butterflies).  I’m celebrating my first swap!

I taped a piece of white cardstock on the back to cover up the stitching and write my message and used washi tape around the edges to firm it up (and as a bit of a border).

I can’t wait to get MY card, and I’ll be sure to share it when I do.

Oh, and just for the heck of it, I’m entering my card into a few challenges:

Created With Love Challenges’ “Sewing- Real or Faux” challenge (http://createdwithlovechallenges.blogspot.com/2013/10/cwlc-62-sewing-real-or-faux.html).  I absolutely love sewing on paper and there are some great entries in this challenge.

Twist of Faith Cards’ “Things with Wings” challenge.  The butterfly is such a powerful symbol of inspiration (rebirth and resurrection) that I think this is perfect for their challenge.  (http://twistoffaithcards.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/challenge-59-things-with-wings.html)

Ooh-la-la Creations Challenges’ “Things with Wings” challenge (http://ooh-la-la-creationschallenges.blogspot.com/2013/10/things-with-wings-at-ooh-la-la.html)  I love all the birds and butterflies in this challenge, but my favorite is a winner from the last challenge, Marina, with a little girl with wings.  Her card is stunning.

It’s been a while… and a few cards

As promised, my new job has been somewhat overwhelming.  But the launch of our department is tomorrow, so hopefully all the hard work will pay off (or it will be a complete disaster, I’ll get fired, and I’ll have all the time in the world to craft and blog).  Today was a holiday for us, Columbus Day.  It’s actually one of my least favorite holidays, because of the tragedy of his story that we end up glorifying and celebrating, but who can knock a day off?  I ended up working about 3/4 of the day to get ready for tomorrow, but I spent the rest of my time off making some cards.  I needed that.

Here’s what I came up with, and the challenges that inspired them:

ImageI made this for Sketch N Scrap’s  http://sketchnscrap.blogspot.com/2013/10/card-sketch-11-special-prize-alert.html.  This has been one of my favorites, as having the sketch gives me a nice backbone to work off of.  I made it for my new church birthday card ministry.  I’ve sent cards out to about 4-5 people each month for the past couple months and it’s been really fun.  Now I have to go to my list and find some October birthdays that haven’t already passed.

The colors in this card came from The Paper Players’ color challenge this week (http://thepaperplayers.blogspot.com/2013/10/pp167-jaydees-color-challenge.html).  Jaydee chose Midnight Muse, Pool Party, and Whisper White.  I found perfect great paper for the background in a huge book of origami paper my wonderful wife bought me last weekend in NYC (I go to NY and one of the only things I got was actually from the Barnes & Noble that we hung out in to kill some time before our dinner reservation).  It had that perfect Pool Party color, so I popped it on the background (also, the sketch had a really neat polka-dotted background, so I thought this worked well).  I used a midnight blue stamp pad for the small letters on the stamps, the Sharpie-drawn partial frame, and the ribbon.  Funny thing about the frame is that was actually the side of my sewing tin that I traced.  It was the perfect shape for the sketch:

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The Whisper White is in the background of the background paper and the white Pitt Pen I used for the first letters of “Happy Birth Day”.  I love those little tags but they’re ordinarily so expensive that I’d never spring for them.  They were one of my finds at Resources for Rhode Island Educators (http://craftymadre.com/2013/08/25/heaven-im-in-heaven/).

I’m also entering this card in the Simon Says Stamp Blog Wednesday Challenge  (http://www.simonsaysstampblog.com/wednesdaychallenge/).  The challenge was to use Rubber or Clear Stamps.  I used my favorite set of clear cling stamps from Hero Arts for the small letters.

The second card I made this afternoon was inspired by the Paper Craft Star photo challenge  (http://papercraftstar.blogspot.ca/2013/10/challenge-165.html).  They post a photo to use a photo for inspiration, and the photos are always really neat.  I’ve checked out their challenges before, but never been able to think of anything that seemed to work.  This week’s photo was a great autumn massage storefront scene, complete with pumpkins and foliage.  People seem to be making a lot of Halloween cards, but, to tell you the truth, I’ve never really given a Halloween card.  I didn’t think of it as a “card” holiday.  So, instead, I made a birthday card using the colors.

ImageThe background was a page out of the aforementioned origami paper book.  The paper’s all square (for obvious reasons), so I used the piece I cut off to add a little accent (folding it to give it some dimension before taping it on and then adding some ribbon on top of that).  The folded paper is one of my favorite ways to add the ribbon look for gift wrapping (and might just be my Quick Tip Tuesday tip for tomorrow, if I can get around to posting about it.)  I used some awesome Tim Holtz cardboard letters I’ve had tucked away for just such a look and glued them on.  I really love this color scheme, and the challenge was the perfect way to show it off.  I’m also entering it in Tammy Scrapin’ Corner’s Fall Colors themed challenge:  http://www.tammyscrapincorner.com/2013/10/challenge-84-at-tammy-scrappin-corner.html and House of Gilli’s Anything Goes/Fall theme challenge:  http://houseofgilli.blogspot.com/2013/09/challenge-54-anything-goesfall.html.

Finally, I made a nautical themed card for the Simon Says Stamp Blog’s MONDAY CHALLENGE (I love that they have 2 challenges a week on two different blogs named for the days they’re posted- it’s always easy to know when they next one will be up).  (http://www.simonsaysstampblog.com/mondaychallenge/challenge-nautical/)

ImageThis was my least favorite card of the bunch, and I wasn’t really sure what to do with it.  The theme was “Nautical”, and it’s not something I’ve done much with.  But, I happened to have this ship stamp and the “Bon Voyage” in my collection, so I figured “What the heck?”.  I used a 3rd piece of origami paper (trust me, there were over 800 pages, so I have plenty left to actually use for origami).  I used my midnight blue stamp pad to color the edges a little and then stamped it up.  I finished it off with a square knot at the top.  I didn’t really make this for anyone in particular, but it can go in my card box for the next time I need a going away card in a rush.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Scratch pad

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ImageThe city I live in has a great, single-stream recycling program for residents, but does absolutely nothing for businesses.  It’s really frustrating.  My company, despite having adopted an Electronic Medical Record and going “paperless” a year ago, still seems to created a ton of paper that ends up being thrown away.  Everything with confidential information on it can be put in the shred bin and end up being recycled, but they’re a bit stingy about things that don’t, technically, need to be shredded (probably because they pay by the pound for that stuff).  So, I try to print front/back, bring home as much paper as I can to recycle, and find other things to do with the paper I have left.  One use for the blank sides of papers is making these little scratch pads.  I just cut or tear them up into quarters and use a binder clip to hold them together.  I take all my phone messages on these little pads and even use them instead of post-its when I can- just paperclipping the scrap page onto something that I’d normally stick a post-it on.

I even thought to decorate a binder clip to make things a little prettier.  I mod-podged on a piece of a lacy cloth napkin that I tea-dyed and then used silver marker paint on the left over black edges.  Little touches like this really add some fun to my workday and make me feel better about my own “footprint”.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Good Morning

IMG_8685For me, a good morning is a Sunday when I’m at church, drinking in the beauty of the music, the sanctuary, the words.  It renews me, refreshes me, and helps me pack up the week I just had and get ready for the week to come.  For me, that’s what Sabbath should be about.  Sometimes, though, the rest of the chaos and work I end up having to do on Sundays seems to get in the way.