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 (https://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.

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.

Crossroads

Italo Calvino said: The more enlightened our houses are, the more their walls ooze ghosts. Describe the ghosts that live in this house: Image credit: “love Don’t live here anymore…” – © 2009 Robb North – made available under Attribution 2.0 Generic

I’ve been overwhelmed lately and haven’t had the time or energy to create much of anything.  And I haven’t liked it one bit.  But I have a little time tonight and felt the urge to blog… but what to say, share, do?  So I pushed the “Inspire me” link on WordPress and the image and quote above came up.  Of course, they’re pretty perfect for where my life has taken me right about now.

I’ve been thinking so much about balance, lately.  As I’ve been working to build a new department at my agency, one that I think I would truly love to run, I’ve had to give up a lot of the time I’d been able to spend on my crafting.   Things had gotten pretty stagnant in my last position and I had been able to do it without a lot of thought or effort.  This was a new sensation for me, as I’d always been pretty consumed by work (working in a mental health field can easily be all-consuming).  Luckily, I was able to channel the extra time and energy I had into my crafting and I realized that I’d gotten to really love that part of myself.

The quote speaks to me of my own “enlightenment”, or my moving up in the social services world into a position I’ve  always thought I wanted.  But the “ghosts” that I’m afraid that I’m creating are the possible ghosts of my creative, family,  and spiritual lives.  I’m afraid about work consuming my life once again, as it’s done at so many points in the past.  There aren’t enough hours in the day to be able to do everything I want to do.  But I know there are things I need to do.  These are the things I’ve learned about myself in the past several months of having the creative time I’ve had:

– When I have the time to be creative, I feel alive.

– When I have the energy to participate actively in my faith community, I feel connected.

– When I feel alive and connected, I’m a great mother and wife.

So, what to do?

I’m so scared about being that little house in the picture with the sad title:  “love Don’t live here anymore”.   I’m scared about not being able to balance the pressures of work and life and still make time for the things that really feed my soul.  I’m scared that the career goal I’d always aspired to (moving up in the agency, having the chance to have a greater impact on the lives of a greater number of people) may end up being the thing that makes me into a person I don’t want to be.

How do you balance work and life and yourSELF?

International Day of Non-Violence

I learned from Amar Naik’s photo blog that today, October 2, is the International Day of Non-Violence (http://amarnaik.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/international-day-of-non-violence).  Commemorating the day that Mohandas Gandhi was born, it was first recognized by the United Nations in 2007.  This day, and what it represents, couldn’t come at a better time.  It seems that every time I turn on the news I hear of another homicide, terrorist attack or threat, or mass murder.  We’re struggling to create gun legislation that preserves a constitutional right to “bear arms” yet is balanced by the good sense and honest intent with which it was written.  Certainly, however, our forebearers could not have envisioned the kinds of weapons that are available on the streets these days and the senselessness with which they are used.  My own city has had 3 murders in the last 2 weeks, bringing our total to 15 this year.  We’ve already surpassed our total of 12 from last year and 2/3 of the people killed have been under 30.  Three of them were 19- not even old enough to legally drink.

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The city has reached out to local organizations and faith-communities to create Peace Flags as a sign of its dedication to teaching and striving for non-violence and they’re going to be hanging them along the parade route for our annual Thanksgiving weekend Balloon Parade.  The chorus that our boy sings in (and my mother co-founded) will be singing at the event and I look forward to it being an uplifting, powerful day.  Granted, it’s only a symbol, albeit an inspirational one, and there’s still so much work that needs to be done.

I was lucky enough to be able to work with my church’s Chapel Kids group (the alternative service for kids ages 7-12 at our church) to help create them.  The organization that’s sponsoring it supplied muslin rectangles and a rope to hang them from but allowed churches to decorate them with whatever materials and in whatever ways they wanted.  As inspiration, I found these beautiful prayer flags that Kate, from Ramblings from Utopia, made with her kids.  (http://www.ramblingsfromutopia.com/2012/05/wordlessful-wednesdays-prayer-flags.html)

We prayed on the topic and looked at some picture books about peace for inspirational images, and then the kids just had at it.  The week before, they had sketched ideas onto paper, the this Sunday I gave them Sharpies, fabric markers, and fabric to cut up and glue on (no one actually ended up using the fabric).  It was a really fun service (despite the mess) and the flags, and the hopeful message they represent, are beautiful.  Here are some of my favorites:

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If kids understand and value the concept so clearly and openly, why can’t our world leaders?  What are we doing wrong that has bred so much hatred, fear, and self-loathing among the members of our community that are so often party to this kind of violence, both as victims and as perpetrators?  Most important, when and how can we finally mend/heal/soothe the wounds and move forward into a civilization that truly values and is capable of non-violence?

Found poetry

I posted a couple days ago about getting a Gelli plate, which I’m totally thrilled with.   I used my art journal to try it out and made a couple really neat backgrounds, which I used tonight.  Here’s my post about making them:  https://craftymadre.com/2013/09/11/gelli-madness/.  This month, Stampotique Designer’s Challenge is challenging people to “Try a new technique” (http://stampotiquedesignerschallenge.blogspot.com/2013/09/sdc116-try-new-technique.html), so I did.

Not only was the gelli plate background new to me, but I also tried my hand at “Found Poetry“.   I first heard about it on this blog, http://slowdownsunday.org/2013/08/06/color-this-quote/, but have seen it a few times since and been really intrigued.  She kindly included this really great guide on how to write them, as well:  https://secure.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Books/Sample/18488chap1.pdf .  It’s basically taking words from an existing piece (a book, a newspaper article, a magazine cover, the bathroom wall) and rearranging them to make your own poem.

My first attempt at found poetry was on my new prayer journal, an idea I got from one of my favorite bloggers:  Molly Lolly Loo (http://mollylollyloo.blogspot.com/search/label/Art%20Journal).  I’ve been reading Jan Richardson’s “In the Sanctuary of Women” (http://www.sanctuaryofwomen.com/) in preparation for a retreat I’m attending that’s being led by her at the end of the month.  It’s such an inspiring book that I wanted a dedicated place to keep my thoughts as I’m reading.  So, I took a plain old Composition Book (thanks to the $1 back-to-school sale at Staples) and decoupaged some pictures from National Geographic on it as my “canvas”.  I used words from the catalogue of the retreat center to create “poems” on the front and back.  The whole process was really amazing.  Here’s what I ended up with:

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Well, I loved the process so much that I tried it again in my art journal on top of my gelli prints, this time with cut out words from “The Wisdom of the Hindus”.  (I created an altered book with it about a year ago but had several pages left over that I cut out to give myself more room for embellishments.)  Here are both pages in tonight’s gelli plate spread:

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I decorated them both with black Sharpie and White Pitt Pen after, and I really like them.  The sun was actually ANOTHER new technique.  I used my new brayer (gotta love 40% off at Michaels) to put yellow acrylic craft paint over a piece of scrapbook paper to kind of “alter” it.

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I cut out the sun and glued in on the middle of the page, pasting the cut-out word “grace” in the middle.  So simple yet so satisfying.

Have cornhole, will travel

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Okay, okay.  Before I start getting comments about the shocking nature of the title of this post, a “cornhole” is a beanbag toss.  Pure and simple.  I don’t know where it got that name.  (Maybe they used to use dried corn kernels to make the bean bags, but then they’d probably be called “corn bags”, wouldn’t they?)  Anyway, this cornhole set was build by my father-in-law for our Jill and Jill party.  It’s been making the rounds at various parties and family functions every since.  It was even used as a ruse to get my parents to their 50th Anniversary party (we have to use my dad’s truck to transport them).

The first photo was their original incarnation.  The theme of the party was the “Toes” song by the Zac Brown Band.  We even had PBR on tap.  It came from a couple days after we had first met.  My wife went to Country Fest and sent me a video of that song from the show.  It was one of the only country songs I even knew at the time.  In fact, in the on-line profile at the dating site where I met her, for musical tastes I wrote “anything but country”.  She loves country.  (I’ve actually recently been to my first Country Fest- and I survived it.)

(This cake has nothing to do with the cornhole theme of the post, but I had to share it.  It’s a cake that one of our bridesmaids had made for the Jill and Jill.)

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So, after the Jill and Jill the cornhole set sat in the basement for a while until I realized that it was such great entertainment for any party.  We dragged it out for our boy’s 8th birthday and I painted them sky blue.  I was going to put more a design on them, either an 8 or something Skylanders (the theme of the party) but I ran out of time.  (That’s probably okay, though, because he was much more interested in the bounce house we rented).

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Some friends have borrowed it on occasion, and we just used it again today for our church block party.  I spray painted the initials of the church on it:  “Trinity United Methodist Church“.  (As I was trying to mask the “M” with painters’ tape, I found myself wishing I was still a member of the United Church of Christ.)  I went with the sloppy look because the sign advertising the party has those block letters with the spray paint spilling over, too.  Image

Here’s the final version of their latest incarnation:

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And some good ol’ cornhole fun at the block party, with my wife, the referee:

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I ended up with a wicked sunburn, but had a great time.  Our boy got totally decked out in his balloon armor and I spent the rest of the afternoon holding everything so it wouldn’t pop while he played.

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I wonder how I’ll paint them next???

CAS(E) this Sketch! Challenge submission

I’ve been meaning to enter one of these sketch challenges for a while now but haven’t been able to get around to making something before the challenge deadline was up.  I love the idea of having a loose template for a card and then being able to use whatever materials or designs I want to make it my own.  It’s also a great way to try out other layout ideas that I never would have come up with myself.  So… I finally did make a card during the week of a challenge and am going to submit it.  Here’s the  challenge sketch and site:

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http://casethissketch.blogspot.com/2013/08/case-this-sketch-39.html

I liked how clean and simple it was (which, I found out, is what “CAS” stands for).  It seemed perfect for a sympathy card and I actually had to make one for my church’s Music Director, whose brother died last weekend.  Here’s my card:

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I found the photo of the great, old tree in National Geographic and though it had a similar line to the flower in the photo.  I also love the perspective and the person climbing up it… almost like someone climbing into Heaven.  I added a banner with some card stock that has a kind of pearlized color (it doesn’t show up well in the photo) and the faux stitching boarder with a silver Sharpie.  It’s about as “clean and simple” as I get.  I hope she likes it.

Vacation Bible Camp

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Wonder where I’ve been for the past week?  VBC!  It’s been a lot of fun but I’m SO GLAD IT’S OVER.  60 kids, 3 1/2 hours a day, and no air conditioning is really tiring.  Spending the rest of the day running around and trying to cram a summer’s worth of fun into 1 week with my own boy is EXHAUSTING!  For VBC, I led the Magnificent Missionaries, a group of 3 older kids (12 and 13 years old) who were responsible for presenting this year’s mission project.  This year, we chose the Society of St. Andrews, an amazing organization whose focus is on feeding people in the US who do not have enough food.  http://www.endhunger.org/  Part of what they do is glean potatoes and produce that would have otherwise been left to rot.  The farmers donate the left-over crops, volunteers glean, and they use donations to pay to ship the food to existing distribution centers (shelters, food kitchens and pantries, etc.).

We spent snack time with each age-group talking about the mission project; encouraging the kids to bring in money; and trying to keep them generally happy, healthy, and entertained.  My high-school assistant had actually gone on a mission trip to glean potatoes from a farm with SOSA 2 years ago and was able to share a lot about that experience.  I think it really motivated the kids to want to contribute.

One of my kids had a great lettering style and made posters with the “Hunger Facts” each day.  He did the “VBC” at the top of the post and here he is working on another poster:

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The grand total of what we raised was close to $250 (I didn’t count everything that came in tonight).  The curriculum provided by SOSA suggests trying to raise $60, so I think we did pretty darn well.  We learned that 6 cents will deliver 1 pound of gleaned potatoes to a hungry family.  $250 is a lot of potatoes!!

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There’s the “money-raised thermometer” that we colored in every day with, you guessed it, potato stamps.  The kids helped me make them in cute little hearts but then proceeded to use them to rub the paint around to form a solid fill.  I managed to sneak a pick from one of the littlest campers who didn’t quite get the “stamping in the lines” concept.

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I also resurrected my “treasure rocks” recipe and made 70 “rocks” with hidden coins to get our collection started on the first day.  Here’s my original post with the recipe:

https://craftymadre.com/2013/03/27/treasure-rocks-for-easter/

I was originally thinking I could call them “magic potatoes” but they turned out looking more like poop.  The kids had fun putting them in the vinegar and watching them fizz up, then reaching in and fishing around in the muck for the coins.  The littlest kids (a 3-4 year old group) really thought we were magicians (I hate to think how many of them might have gone home and tried to break open their own potatoes to find money).

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I ran out of time to do everything I wanted to do with them, so for the closing “family dinner”, I made little the table signs with some of the “Hunger Facts” we learned.  I used a potato stamp and some leaves I cut out from a left over index card I had painted with some greens, yellows, and crackle (practicing for another project I’ve been working on).

ImageAll-in-all, a good time was had by all.  My son’s favorite activity this year was “everything” (funny thing, that was his favorite thing last year, too).

Catching up on ICAD

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Here are another 3 ICADs for your enjoyment.  The one, above, is my favorite.  I used the “stitching” theme and the “sun” prompt and was completely inspired by that morning’s church service so I used a meditation from the bulletin for the quote.  In the background is a picture of my church (a beautiful cathedral next to a big park in our city) that’s usually on the front of the bulletin.  I sewed on the round scrap of t-shirt fabric for the center of my sun with a black bobbin and yellow thread (to get some more dimension in the stitching).  Then, I put some “rays” in with magazine bits.  It was so simple to make but I love the effect.

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This one is my second favorite of this bunch.  The text is from a great book, Switch on the Night, by Ray Bradbury.  In the background, I used security envelope patterns (for the “junk mail” theme) to make a kind of skyline (for the “city” theme).  I painted them with watercolors and then added a dark sky with some silver Sharpie stars and the “ice-cream moon”.

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My last one in this installment was a bit experiment that didn’t end so well.  I had a nice background, using a map, stamps, and pre-paid postage marks on envelopes (“map” and “mail” themes).  I white gessoed over them which kind of left it pretty blah (too much of the gesso, I think).  The big experiment was with a cellophane window from an envelope that I drew lines on with glue (thinking I could rub them off after painting) and then painted over it with a mixture I had made a while ago with acrylic paint and spices (another experiment).  The rubbing off the glue didn’t work so well, so I made some more lines (thinking the “map” theme) with my trusty Sharpie and then just slapped the quote on it.  Ironically, the quote is one of my favorites: the title of a book about mindfulness by Jon Kabot-Zinn.  Oh well.  Sometimes the journey is more interesting than the destination.

This is going to be the best part of today’s blog. I’ve found so many neat ICADs on other blogs that I can’t wait to share:

http://mollylollyloo.blogspot.com/2013/06/just-ride-elevator.html  – This one is one of my favorites.  The “ride the elevator” phrase spoke to me so much and I love the deep colors and textures.

http://iamrushmore.blogspot.com/2013/06/index-card-collages-made-with-swap.html  – I love this blog and her ICADs are so graphic and bold.  She’s done them in previous years so she has quite a collection going, too.

http://www.glimmerbug.com/icad-14-polka-dots-pugs/  – I like her style, as well.  Also bold and unique, with a great sense of humor.  And who doesn’t love a pug???