Pumpkin Painting… dos and don’ts

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It’s pumpkin time!  That means pumpkin seeds, pumpkin lattes, and pumpkin decorations.  My wife’s alma mater, Bay Path College, held the 3rd Annual Carpe Diem Dash to benefit their scholarship fund.  A good friend of hers is the president of the Alumni Association, so we chipped in to help out (manning the water stations, not running).  I was also able to help with the decorations by painting pumpkins.

We went to the awesome farm that supplied the veggies for our wedding, Gooseberry Farms (http://www.farmfresh.org/food/farm.php?farm=1997), and they gave us an amazing deal on tons of pumpkins, gourds, hay, and a crazy-looking hubbard squash (grey food- who knew?).  I took some of the biggest ones and used Sharpies and acrylic craft paint to decorate them with “Carpe Diem” (the college’s motto- long before “Dead Poet’s Society“) and this year’s theme: “Be Bold”.

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The Sharpies and craft paint weren’t necessarily the best choices.  The Sharpies colored well but have such narrow strokes that I couldn’t do much other than write with them.  The black craft paint was great- it went on smoothly, stayed where I put it, and covered really well.  The pink was another story.  It went on really light (not opaque like the black) but when I tried to do a second coat, even after letting it dry, it wiped off the first coat in some places.  I had to go over it a few times, and even then I didn’t get the really “bold” color I was hoping for.  I think there are other things that would have worked better to decorate them.  Paint markers, maybe?

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I still think they made for great decorations, especially the way our friend arranged them.  I like that crazy hubbard squash the best.  But the real best part… they came home with us and are now decorating our front steps.

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My WordPress Family Award nominations

So, I’ve checked out some other blogs who have this nomination/award, and as far as I can tell the “rules” are pretty simple for this one:

1) Thank the person who nominated you (done).

2)  Let people know who it was (here is her nomination post and wonderful blog: http://shutupandcreatesomething.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/versatile-blogger-wordpress-family-awards/)

3)  And pass the nomination along to 10 other WordPress blogs.  For folks that are nominated, feel free to grab the badge from my side-bar (or anywhere else you find it) if you want to post it or pass along the nominations to some of your favorite bloggers (that’s what it’s all about, after all, “spreading the love”).  So, here’s my list (in order of most to least recent of when I first happened upon them):

http://hippiehauswife.com/–  I love, love, love her recent post of a redo of an armoire-kind-of-think (but with drawers) for her girl.  It looks fabulous.  And I also love that she’s coming around on the whole distressing thing- recent converts always make the coolest stuff.

http://serialwoman.wordpress.com/– She hasn’t posted in a while, but I found her blog recently and have been loving it.  I hope she comes back!

http://linhaiwen.wordpress.com/– “Cardboard Robots!” (need I say more?)

http://kerrybest.com/– She does really neat stuff with beads and polymer clay and isn’t afraid to try new stuff out.

http://knotsewnormal.wordpress.com– Knitting, cute kids, and pie… what could be better?

http://margobreen.wordpress.com– I love reading this woman’s stories.  So much I can relate to and so fun to read.

http://creativelycurious.wordpress.com– She has a couple blogs that I’ve found recently and love.  This first one is frugal, creative ideas and the other one is all about adorable little polymer clay charms: http://charminglittletrinkets.wordpress.com/  (a 2 for 1 nomination!)

http://friendsandfaux.wordpress.com/– She’s restarting a faux postage stamp mail art project that sounds super cool!!

and, last but not least,  http://theinboxjaunt.com/– Her posts about quilting make it look so easy but she does amazing stuff (that is clearly not easy at all!)

So… there you have it.  I hope you enjoy checking out some of these blogs and I’ve had a wonderful time spreading the love.

Oh, and here’s another photo I took:

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(The Washington Monument, under construction, behind cherry blossoms.)

My next group of “nominations”- sharing the love

The next award *Wisher* nominated me for was the Versatile Blogger Award.  I actually found the web site where this seemed to originate and it’s a really cool blog that is kind of like a clearinghouse for all the Versatile Blogger Award winners.  Funnily enough, the blog is called “Versatile Blogger Award”.  There’s such a great variety of blogs reposted here, it’s fun to explore.  Here it is:

http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com

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And here are the “rules” for the award:

“If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.”

So… Thanks again, *Wisher*!!  Here’s the “nomination” post on her awesome blog, so you can check it out yourself:  http://prettylittlethingsinabox.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/award-time-part-3/

Here, then, are my nominations.  15 seems like a lot, but there are so many amazing blogs to choose from.  I’m going to split it up between blogs I discovered recently and those I follow regularly (in no particular order):

1) http://bluebirdslivinginthemeadow.wordpress.com/ – I recently discovered this one.  I love the photo collages she’s been making to illustrate her posts.  She has a nice combination of really organic looking paper crafts and nature photography.

2) http://joyfulploys.wordpress.com/ – This is one I follow regularly.  I love her art journals and it was fun to play along with her in the Index Card a Day Challenge.

3) http://ximenaxarau.wordpress.com – This is a new blog that I’m so glad I happened upon.  Ximena is an amazing artist and there’s a great variety to the work she’s posted so far.

4) http://cardcrazed.wordpress.com – Another one I recently discovered.  She makes really neat cards and has just ventured into the worlds of art journaling and mixed media.  A woman after my own heart (the expanding her horizons part).

5) http://girlunwinding.wordpress.com/ – Dawn is definitely a blogger I follow regularly.  She’s been so incredibly encouraging and inspirational, a lot of things I’ve tried recently have been the direct result of her (mandalas and making my own stamps, for example).

6) http://bitze.wordpress.com/ – Patty is another huge inspiration (and I think the way I found Dawn, above).  Her art journal pages are amazing and I love the stories about her adventures- crafting and otherwise.

7) http://createdbylisa.blogspot.com/ – A scrapbooker I recently discovered through the Sketch -n- Scrap Challenge page.  She’s really gotten me fired up on finally doing my wedding scrapbook (a year later).

8) http://shutupandcreatesomething.wordpress.com/ – She posts her art journaling and poetry.  She has a great, irreverent sense of humor (as her blog title suggests) and is also really talented.

9) http://tracywoodsford.blogspot.com/ – My last art journaler nominee, Tracy also makes some amazing spreads.  She has a nice combination of whimsy and beauty in her work.

10) http://spikescreativeside.wordpress.com/ – Spike is a card-maker that rocks my world.  She is hilarious and has inspired me to start working on my winter holiday cards this summer (so I don’t have to scramble to make them all in December).

11) http://pushingtherightbuttons.blogspot.co.uk/ – Jenny makes really neat cards with all kinds of cool materials (as suggested in the “buttons” part of her blog name).  I also love her moto: “A place where creativity banishes negativity.”  We could all use a reminder like that.

12) http://thesimpleupcycler.com/ – A new blog that has some great ideas for relatively simple upcycling and repurposing.

13) http://lorrinbaker.wordpress.com/ – Lorrin is my amazingly talented brother and I’m pretty sure he’s not going to pass this nomination on to anyone, but I can’t help but include him.  I actually joined WordPress years ago just so I could follow his photo blog, before I had any desire whatsoever to start my own blog.

14) http://sullimaybe.wordpress.com/ – Linda is a friend of mine (in real life) and kind of inspired me to get into blogging.  Her blog is so much fun- she posts about neat, random things that are “news to (her)” (and usually news to me).

15) http://oatmealmusing.blogspot.com/ – And, last but not least, another friend of mine from the “real world”.  Jane is an amazing poet and former English teacher (who’s probably not going to be happy that I started that previous sentence with “And”).

The last step of this award’s nomination process (which has been harder than I thought) is to tell the person who nominated me 7 things about myself.  So here they are, *Wisher* (and anyone else who has read this far):

1) I am independently licensed as a mental health counselor but I don’t do therapy.  I’m currently working with the human services company I work for on designing a centralized clinical intake and assessment team.

2) The hardest jobs I’ve had have all been as a teacher (1 1/2 years in elementary school and 2 years in middle school theater).  Summer vacations nowhere near make up for how hard (good) teachers work the rest of the year.

3) I think my boy is the funniest, cutest, most unique kid in the whole world (not that I’m biased).

4) I think my wife is the most supportive, beautiful, and loving woman in the world (again, despite any potential bias).  She’s an amazing cook who I keep encouraging to create her own blog to share her talents.

5) I was arrested for civil disobedience in college and spent a night in jail.

6) I’m a United Methodist, working hard with my church to help our congregation become “Reconciling” and fully include gays and lesbians in all aspects of church life.  Working on the denomination as a whole will be the next step.

7) I really think blogging has helped me keep my sanity when life gets a little too crazy, prod me toward the creativeness that I’ve always loved and valued in myself, and made me a better mom and wife in general.

So… that’s it.  Thanks again, *Wisher*, for the nomination.  I think I’m going to take a break from handing these out and get back to crafting for a while.  (But, I won’t give up on them… look forward to more nominations in the near future.)

And here’s a picture of a design I made in the sand on the beach, just for fun.

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(Sand art on a beach in Provincetown.)

My first (7) blogger award nominations

*Wisher* from Pretty Little Things in a Box just nominated me for, not one, but 7 awards.  Thanks *Wisher*!  That’s a lot of love!!

I’ve seen nominations like these before and always coveted them.  They seem to be kind of like a chain letter, in that you get one and then have to pass it around to a certain number of other people.  But it’s a cool kind of chain letter, because it connects bloggers who might not otherwise find each other in this huge blog world.

Rather than just send out all 7 awards to the same people, I’m going to break them up again and try to send them out one at a time to get the most “bang for my buck”.  You know, to spread the love around.

So, here’s the first one: The Liebster Award.

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This awesome blogger did all the work for me on investigating the origins of the blog (and she has a fun blog that I might never have found if I hadn’t been doing this search):

http://sopphey.onimpression.com/2012/05/liebster-blog-award-origins.html

Here’s what she said about it:

“Liebster rules:

1. Thank the one who nominated you by linking back.
2. Nominate five blogs with less than 200 followers.
3.  Let the nominees know by leaving a comment at their sites.
4.  Add the award image to your site.

*Note: There is no general committee that awards this award. It’s just a recognition from one blogger to another for how awesome they are. Kind of like a really big Internet hug!”

So… here goes:

Thanks, *Wisher*!!  Here’s her post with my nomination.  Be sure to check out her blog.   http://prettylittlethingsinabox.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/award-time-part-3/

My nominations (This is the hard part- choosing among the hundreds of blogs that I’ve come to know and love.  The “less than 200 followers” rule narrows it down, so here are they are- in no particular order):

http://ontheupcycle.wordpress.com/ – I love this blog.  She upcycles all kinds of random things and makes them pretty.

http://manychacha.wordpress.com/ – Michelle writes about her adventures, crafting, cooking, and her kiddos.  What could be better?

http://defineyourjoy.com/ – I’ve loved seeing Natasha’s participation in Daisy Yellow’s ICAD Challenge for the past couple months.  And her daughter played along too.

http://lovelinest.org/ – She’s a homeschooling mom that has a craft space that’s to die for.  I love her art journal pages.

http://apartment-wife.com/ – Jennifer blogs about spreading love around one of my favorite cities: Minneapolis.  She sounds like, quite possibly, the nicest women in the city.

So, there you have it!  I hope all these lovely ladies choose to spread the love.

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

ImageHere are my next 4 ICAD projects.  They actually all sprung from the first one, which was built around the proverb:  “Bloom where you are planted”.  I was looking through my magazine word and image collection to do a collage, knowing that I’m not great at drawing and wanted flowers (for obvious reasons).  I couldn’t find the words, so I got out my Geli-stix pens (with this week’s theme being “ink”).  I don’t know why I still have those pens because I’ve never liked them.  They only work intermittently, so I have to go over and over the lines and it wasn’t the look I was going for here.  Oh well.  I tried drawing some flowers on it, but didn’t like those much either.  I can’t throw anything away (hence, the pens) so I decided to experiment.  I screwed open the pen and used an Xacto knife to cut the cylinder that holds the ink.  I tapped, and blew, and flicked the ink all over my little card.  It was so fun.  So I opened up a couple more pens.  Then, I took a couple other cards and blotted up the extra ink, giving me backgrounds for 3 more cards!  And these are my final products:

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Of course, the last one is the the original card.  (Remember, I can’t throw anything away.)  I went over the original lettering with a silver and a black sharpie.  I guess my little card did bloom, after all.

The best part of the story is that I posted another card on Daisy Yellow’s ICAD Facebook page, saying that I really didn’t like those Geli-stix.  Another person in the group suggested that I gift them to her, because she would use them.  As I was going through my aforementioned magazine word collection looking for the first quote (that I ended up doing a lot of word-by-word and letter-by-letter) I found the quote from the Bhagavad Gita… a perfect way to use one of my inky backgrounds.

This whole exercise was certainly an “adventure of the mind”.  I love how things work out sometimes when I open myself up to whatever the Universe might bring me.  THAT’S the source of all creativity, I think.