Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye, 2011.

It was a very good year. Lots of things happened that we prayed for, some things were gifts from God that we didn't even know we needed and some prayers were wisely denied by God. He certainly knows His stuff!

We will ring in the New Year with a jam session at the home of Dianna Ford, musician and singer extraordinaire, with a lot of our Bluegrass friends. Usually, Larry is booked for New Year's Eve, and we haven't been able to spend the time with friends as much as we would like. That will change this year, and we're really looking forward to it.

Reflecting on 2011, we had some ups:
I finally was published in one of my fave magazines, Cloth, Paper, Scissors and shipped off my book to the publisher;
and downs: Phil Cox, singer/songwriter/guitarists for Sorghum Hill was working in Nebraska, a far cry from Tennessee. He's home now, and Sorghum Hill and Andi Nash and the Ramblers will continue to entertain their fans, only a lot more often!

Here's wishing you a wonderful, creative, healthy 2012. I hope all your dreams come true!

Now, go hug someone you love.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Just a little more Christmas...

I am not ready for Christmas to end, even though I will begin removing the decorations today. I love the spirit of Christmas, the gathering of friends and families, the fun of selecting, wrapping and opening gifts and the soft glow of Christmas evening when it's all over. Even the hustle and bustle of last-minute shopping is different from any other time of the year. The Christmas spirit that pervades the atmosphere, especially around 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, an hour before all the stores close, is magical. You hear strangers wishing each other a Merry Christmas and everyone smiles at everyone and there is a peace in the air that can hardly be described. I just love it.

This particular December has been the best we have enjoyed in many years. There were parties every weekend, six in the last week alone, and lots of visiting with old friends, especially my BFFF (Best Family of Friends Forever), Linda, Ronnie, Charlotte, Debbie and Judy Gordon, whose home was the center of my teenage years. Linda was my best friend, and though we have not been as close in the last few years, I have always known that she would be my best friend forever. This Christmas was so special, spending time with this wonderful group of people.



All that being said, I have always loved A Christmas Carol and Scrooge's turn-of-heart at the end, even though I may have not gotten the quote exactly right. Larry and I have made a conscious effort in the last few years to be content with where we are in life, the gifts God has given us and not allowing petty grievances or the shortcomings of others to affect the way we see the world. I used the design element I created (It was created with the Duectica Lettering Arts Studio, and the illustrations and layout design were done in Adobe Illustrator, although I'm sure there are other layout programs you could use.) to make this little ornament which will hang on my tree for years to come as a reminder of the wonderful Christmas of 2011.

If you have followed my blog, you know what a love I have for fonts and typographical designs. The Duectica Lettering Arts Studio allows me to create custom lettering the easy way. The fonts all have a variety of styles within each font, so every word is unique.

Here's how I did it:


Christmas Design Element



1. Open Duetica Lettering Arts Studio and set the C using DT Mandolyn-2 BOO.

2. Create a new 12” x 6” file in Adobe Illustrator. Fill the background with a cream color, then edge the rectangle with a light tan.

3. Place the C and apply a gradient from light to dark green. Set the remainder of the word in dark green using DT Mandolyn-1-A00.

4. Using the Text on a Path tool and black fill, set I will keep along the curve of the top portion of the C using DT Piper-A00. Add the remainder of the quote along the bottom of Christmas.

5. Draw Holly and berries using the pen tool and place.


The piece is ready to be printed and used as a framed wall hanging, a scrapbook page or greeting card element, or a nice little Christmas ornament.


Ornament


Supplies

Printed Design Element

Mat board scrap

Christmas paper scrap

Versamark Clear Ink

Ultra Thick Embossing Enamel (UTEE), clear

Heat Tool

Viva Décor Paper Soft Color, Walnut

Round Sponge Dauber

12” ribbon, plus a 3" scrap

Cropadile or 3 /16” hole punch


Directions

1. Print Christmas element, reducing the size to 4” x 2”. Cut a piece of scrap mat board to the same size and adhere the printed piece to the mat board. Cut a piece of Christmas print paper to fit back and adhere.

2. Sponge edges front and back with Walnut Paper Soft Color.

3. Cover front with clear Versamark ink and emboss with clear UTEE. Repeat twice. Repeat again on the backside. This will help make the piece feel a lot more substantial as well as making it very shiny.

4. To create the hanger, punch two small holes with a Cropadile ¼” from the top and right and left sides. Thread ribbon front to back,knot and trim ends. Tie the 3" scrap to the ribbon on the left side and trim edges.

Now, go hug your sweetie!








NOTE: I received product form Duetica Lettering Arts Studio and Viva Décor, although I would have purchased them anyway. I love these products and would never promote their use if I didn't have absolute faith in their performance.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Blast from the Past

Do you remember the macaroni necklaces we all made at Vacation Bible School and summer camp? I sure do. We carefully colored all the little curved pieces and then strung them on a string. I would take mine home to my mother, who would wear it proudly to church the following Sunday.

Pasta as a decoration has come full circle. With all the fabulous, fun shapes available now, there's no limit to what you can create. That's why the Second Annual Holiday Noodle Party is hitting the 'net.

This little addition was not my creation, although I wish it had been. My cousin, the extremely talented Linda McCaskill, made these years ago, and I had a set of six. This is the only one remaining, and I have cared for it lovingly, storing it in a cotton-filled tin to protect the sweet little bow-tie pasta wings. Every year it has a place of honor at eye-level on my tree.

So here's to you, Linda! I love your work and I love you.

To see more pasta creations, see the list of links on Eileen Hull's blog.

The linky party starts today, Monday, December 12 and runs till Friday, December 16 at midnight. This event is open to all and extended in the spirit of fun and sharing the love of crafting during this holiday season. Here's how it works:

1. Post a blog on your site with a picture of your project and enter the URL of that post below from now until Thursday, December 15.
2. Enter as many projects as you would like.
3. It can be a project created by you, your child, or anyone.
4. The only requirement is it must contain a noodle of some kind :-)
5. Please vote for your favorite design on Friday, December 16.
6. The project that gets the most votes will receive a bag of goodies from our friends at Noodles & Company! Eileen will also be giving away one of her great Sizzix dies to a random commenter.
7. Post early so everyone has a chance to see your work.
8. Please share this with your social media friends and invite them to join in!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Do, do, do lookin' out my back door


There was a mention of a "wintery mix" in the forecast for this morning. Wintery Mix translation in the South: rain and maybe, just maybe, a little sleet. Imagine my surprise when I awoke to find close to 2" of snow on the ground. It was a perfect snow, however: Beautiful on the lawns, fields, trees and rooftops, but not a trace on the roads. That's my kind o'snow!

It had already started blowing off the trees and rooftops when I snapped this pic from my studio, although it was a nice wet snow with great packability.

Hubby had to go to the recording studio today, so I'm all alone, and you know what that means: I'm going to turn on my tiny space heater that keeps my tootsies warm, crank up the Christmas music, bake some yummy yeast bread and be highly creative today, even if I'm just doing a little artful re-arranging in my studio!

Here's a nice shot I made of Sam, the Wonder Lab as well. I think he's trying to figure out why I keep pointing this contraption at him and he's not getting any benefit (i.e., treats) from it.


Now, go hug someone you love. I think I'll hug Sam!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Steampunk, the Sock Monk

Caution: This is NOT a toy!

It's time for another Designer Crafts Connection Challenge, and this month, I am out of my comfort zone. I never had a sock monkey as a child, never created one for my child, and the only fact I knew about them is that they were made from Red Heel socks. However, I do love a challenge.

This challenge was conceived and sponsored by Ana Araujo of When Creativity Knocks. Ana has a new DVD, Sock Monkeys Go BanAnas, a wonderful instructional video which walks you right through the steps to create this icon of American crafting.


Our monkey kits included a pair of Original Rockford Red Heel socks, Ana's DVD, Rit® Brand Dye and a precious little sock monkey stamp from Judikins.


















Be sure to see all the sock monkeys by clicking on the Designer Craft Connections button at left to hop forward or backward.
You can enter to win your own Sock Monkey prize package valued at over $40!

Here's what one lucky reader will receive:

• Sock Monkeys Go BanAnas WCK VideoBook
• One (1) sewn Sock Monkey body ready to be stuffed
• One (1) pair FoxRiver: Oringal Rockford Red Heel Socks
• Button Eyes, needle, floss and stuffing

Go to the When Creativity Knocks website and in the Member Log In box click Create An Account. Then enter Sock Monkey as the entry code along with your info. Good luck!

Ana is also offering all blog hop readers $2 off the purchase of a Sock Monkeys Go BanAnas WCK VideoBook plus a free copy of the 2012 WCK Sock Monkeys Go BanAas eCalendar with purchase of the video! The coupon code is sockmonkeybloghop.

I have to confess that although I read and followed the construction instructions, that's where my salute to conventional creating ended. I have always traveled to the beat of a different drummer, and this time, I think it may have been Charlie Watts. That's the only explanation that I can come up with for this artistic departure.

Here's how I made Steampunk, the Sock Monk.

Basic Supplies
Sock Monkeys Go Bananas DVD
Original Rockford Red Heel socks, one pair
Quilt Batting and Fiberfill
Needle and Thread
Sewing Machine

Make your sock monkey according to the dvd instructions then customize using one of the patterns included in the dvd pack or using the following:

CAUTION:
I repeat. This is not a toy! It is made with metal parts that can cut, so it is only to be placed on a very high shelf and admired from a distance.

Customizing Supplies


Rit Dye, Purple, Evening Blue, Kelly Green
Atomizer Bottles, 3
Paper Towels
Recycled metal printing plates and/or copper sheeting. I used both.
Sizzix Big Shot
Assorted Texture Plates
Ranger Alcohol Inks, assorted colors
Metal ephemera (found objects,nuts, bolts, hinges, chain plus metal from the Tim Holtz Collection, Ranger)
Viva Décor Pearl Pen, Bronze
Canning jar lids, 4
Beacon 3-in-1 Adhesive

1. Mix Rit® Brand Dye in atomizer bottles, 2 parts dye, one part hot water. Spritz color all over monkey body, pat with paper towels to remove excess, then toss it in the dryer until dry to set the color. The dye doesn't show up well on my photos, but Steampunk, the Sock Monk is delightfully spattered with shades of blue, purple and green.
Note: Do not use this technique rather than the instructions on the dye bottle if this piece will be handled a lot or intended for a child's toy. This is another reason that the Steampunk, the Sock Monk prefers shelf sitting. He doesn't know if his colors will run if he gets wet, and he knows his creator did not follow Rit® Brand Dye directions!

2. Cut metal pieces and emboss with assorted Texture Plates and Big Shot. Add alcohol inks, allow to dry then sand with a sanding block or sandpaper.

At this point, I just winged all the parts until I was happy with them. The shoulder covers were from the edges of the metal printing plates and the thimble on the tail was a find in my sewing box when I was looking for a small zipper for his mouth. Since I couldn't find the zipper, I substituted gold bead chain, stitching in place in the corners and draping across the mouth.

The skirt (inspired by military uniforms in ancient Sparta) was a textured rectangle, cut 2" wider than the monkey waist. Slits (approx. 1 1/2" wide) were cut from the bottom to within 1" of the top. Score along the top of the slits and fold up. Wrap around the monkey and secure with adhesive. Add Viva Décor Bronze Pearl Pen accents as desired.
The only construction I planned was for the hat, and I actually changed the design mid-stream with a hint from my hubby (using canning jar lids for support).

Basic Directions:
1. For the hat brim, cut a metal circle approximately 5". Beginning in the center, cut "pie slices" to within 3/4" of the rim. Trim the slices to about 1/2' in length and fold up.

2. Stack four canning jar lids and glue them together, top to bottom. Place the metal circle under the lids and fold the pie slices up. Glue the slices around the inner edge of the bottom lid.

2. Cut a rectangle from a sheet of textured metal approximately 8" x 4" and adhere it around the outside of the lids. Trim the top so that there is a small dip in the middle front and back.

3. Cut a circle 3"4 inch larger in diameter than the top hat opening. Cut slits all around that are 3/8", fold them down, then place them inside the hat top. When you are happy with the fit, glue in place. Add Pearl Pen dots all around the top to help hide the seam and around the hat brim for interest.

Note: I didn't texturize the top of the hat, but looking back, it would have been a nice addition.

4. Add textured band.

I definitely had fun with this project and you still have time to create your own sock monkey for a favorite child (or for yourself) before Christmas.

Now go hug someone you love. I'll be hugging Steampunk, the Sock Monk, although not too tight!





I received product for all the manufacturers listed above.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Love Autumn!


I just walked outside and realized that this may be the perfect autumn day. There's a little nip in the air and a little breeze, but the sun is warm and everything is so full of color. We're expecting thunderstorms this week, so most of the color may be gone by the end of the week. That's why I love having my digital camera to record these moments without worrying about the number of photos I take or number of prints I need to store. Plus, there's that whole instant gratification thing.

I also love the new Fall Digital Scrapbook Kit from Duetica Lettering Arts Studio which is being unveiled this week. It has several papers and textures, plus ribbons, buttons and a really cute scarecrow. I used it to create this two-page layout documenting a recent trip we made to the wine country of Missouri.

Be sure click the Designer Crafts Connection button on the left to hop over the entire Designer Crafts Connection bloghop which features autumn-inspired projects, and be sure to go to Julie McGuffee's blog to get details on how you can win a Sizzix Sidekick with two sets of Sizzlets alphabet dies!

Here's how I made this two page layout:

Supplies
Duetica Lettering Arts Studio Software and new Fall Kit.
Adobe Photoshop

Directions

1. Set “Missouri” in a combination of Tin Whistle and Floot fonts, using the Duetica Lettering Arts Studio.

2. Set “Weekend” the same way.

3. Open a new 24” x 12” file in Photoshop. Place the Dark Brown file from the Duetica Lettering Arts Studio Fall Kit on both halves of the page. Use black with the airbrush set at 60% to place a border around each edge.

4. Place the Black jpg on both halves, then select and delete ½” all around and 1” down the middle. Use dark brown with the airbrush set at 60% to place a border around each edge.

Note: I created each individual photo as a separate file, complete with journaling and then placed them on the 24” x 12” layout.

For each photo file: Place the Orange jpeg from the kit in a new file. Place each photo on top of the Orange jpeg., add journaling, then crop the layout leaving a ¼” border on the top and sides and ¼” below the journaling. Reduce image size if necessary to fit layout.

5. Place the Paper Edge jpg in a new 12” file and rotate the canvas to make it vertical. Use the airbrush tool to add brown, black and orange tints to the file. Save the file, then place it in the original 24” x 12” layout.

6. Place the Black Ribbon 2 on the right side of the layout flush with the right edge. Copy and paste the same ribbon 2 file and add it to run across the left side of the layout. Crop it where it covers the paper edge file. Move the paper edge layer above the ribbon layer. Add Buttons jpg to the ribbon.

7. Drop in photos. Create drop shadows by drawing a box slightly smaller than each photo. Fill with black, then set the opacity at 35%. Do this for each photo.

8. Open “Missouri” file. Select each letter and change the color to a bright yellow-orange, then use dark brown with the opacity set at 50% to add a shadow along the bottom. Rotate the file 90° counter-clockwise and place it in the layout.

9. Open the “weekend” file, change the color to blue, rotate the file 90° counter-clockwise and place it in the layout.

10. Set the dates in the same yellow-orange as the Missouri file, rotate and place in the layout.

11. Place the scarecrow image from the Fall Kit. Add a new layer and airbrush a shadow in black. Set the layer opacity at 50%. Move the scarecrow layer above the shadow.

Here's a tip for you in using digital scrapbook kits: I created a file in InDesign (any layout program will work) and placed each element of the kit with it's file name into a new layout. I kept it open on the side of my computer screen while I created the layout in Photoshop. It made selecting the elements very easy. I saved it to the same folder I keep my kits in for easy reference later.

Go out and enjoy this day then come back in and create something with your autumn photos.

But first, go hug someone you love.








Notes: I am a member of the Duetica Lettering Arts Design Studio and received software from them.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Being Thankful


One of the things we overlook in this country is just how awesome we have it. We don't have religious persecution (except by the nut cases who are against any sort of religion and don't shut up until someone notices them), most of us are well-fed and we set up food and shelter for those who aren't, we can pursue our own dreams without being told what to do with our lives and can come and go as we please. This is a far cry from the people in our world who are under a dictators' thumb and have to scramble to find the least morsel of food; those who are afraid to speak for fear of death; women oppressed by a society that doesn't even recognize that they are of more value than being baby machines; and societies where girl-children are unwanted.

Good grief! How did I open my post with such depressing thoughts? Those of you who know me also know that the topics of the first paragraph are not something you normally hear out of my mouth.

That being said, I want to introduce you to a blog I found this morning through the Craft Gossip site, Positively Present.

I was casually toodling along, looking at beautiful handmade items when I came on the topic Gratitude, 30-Day Photo Challenge. We are doing a Bible study at Trinity Baptist following the book one thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp, which is a study in finding happiness in small gifts.

This website looked like something that might have the same theme, so I went there and WOW! There are so many great articles, from finding beauty in small things to de-stressing your life to paying it forward. It's one of the best sites I've seen in a while and I immediately subscribed to it so I wouldn't miss a thing.

Check it out. I think you'll like it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Halloween or Mardi Gras?

Welcome to another Sizzix Blog Hop, featuring the fabulous designs of Eileen Hull. This week's Scoreboard die is a vase with an enclosed bottom. You know I can't just make a vase. I have to have something over the top and I think this mask fits the occasion.

There are lots of other bloggers in this hop, so be sure to click on the Fresh Vintage Blog Hop button on the left to see some amazing creations.

I ran across this mask last week at Dollar Tree. It was originally deep red with gold glitter along the eyes and cheeks. A coat of Krylon Black Matte paint made it perfect for my project.

Here's how I made this:

Supplies


Sizzix ScoreBoards XL Die - Vase, 3-D (657125)

Sizzix Texture Plate

Chipboard

Viva Décor Inka Gold, Gold

Viva Décor Precious Metal Color, Silver

Viva Décor Glitter Liners, Red, Gold, Silver

Viva Décor Pearl pen, Ice White

Beaded Trim, 10"

Swarovski Crystal Beads and Pendant

Beading Wire

Sookwang Crafters' Double Side Tape

Red feathers

Face Mask (Dollar Tree)

Krylon Matte Black Spray Paint


Directions


1. First, I painted the mask with black paint and set it aside to dry.

2. I cut two vases from chipboard with the die added texture to one with the texture plate and painted both with Precious Metal Color. When the vase/crown was dry,I rubbed Gold Inka Gold on the raised surface of the top piece. (You can add it to the second piece as well if you plan to actually use this mask the way it was intended and not just as home decor.)

3. I added Glitter Liners randomly to accent the texture, then outlined the crown with Ice White Pearl Pen.

4. I strung the beads on beading wire, then attached it to the top of the crown and anchored it in the center with beading wire.

5. I adhered the crown to the mask with double-stick tape.

6. I attached the beaded trim to the back of the mask with double stick tape, then added the feathers. I reinforced to adhesive with strips of masking tape to make sure nothing moved.

7. The only thing left to do was to add the Glitter Liners and Pearl Pens to the mask itself.

Now I'm ready for a night on the town!

I saw so many other items in my mind besides a vase with this die. I'll be posting some more projects soon, so be sure to check back.








Note: I received product from Sizzix and Viva Décor.

Friday, September 30, 2011

It's Blog Hopping Time Again!



It's time for another Designer Crafts Connection Blog Hop and this one uses three of my favorite products: Westcott Brand ® Cutting Tools, Duck Brand® Duct Tape and Velcro® Brand Hook and Loop Fasteners.

Westcott is sponsoring a giveaway: To win a fantastic Deluxe Assortment of Westcott Cutting Tools, go to http://westcottbrand.blogspot.com/2011/10/designer-crafts-connection-charitable.html and leave a comment to win prior to November 1st (actual prize package may vary slghtly, US residents only please). You can also get an extra chance to win by leaving a comment about the hop on the Westcott Facebook Fan Page.

I once knew a photographer who said he could build anything if he had matboard, masking tape and an Xacto knife. Well, I'm here to tell you that by adding the products I received from these three companies, I could easily rule the universe. Seriously. Well, maybe not rule the universe, but I could certainly decorate it.

Don't forget to click on the Designer Crafts Connection button, left, to hop to blogs of some of crafting's best designers who used the same materials. It's fun to see the wonderful twists that are put on these products. Many of these projects will be auctioned off for Charity Wings, so be sure to check it out!

You can see the generous amount of treasure I received from these companies. I love the pink color scheme and could hardly wait to get started.

What made this whole project such a joy to produce? Those Westcott Brand® cutting tools, that's what!

Here are some facts about Westcott Scissors and trimmers:
• Westcott Brand® Scissors are the WORLD’S FAVORITE SCISSORS™ meaning Westcott sells more scissors than any other manufacturer in the world!
• Westcott Brand® Titanium Bonded Non Stick Scissors are the BEST Non Stick Scissors on the market that never get stuck and can easily cut through Sticky Back VELCRO®, Duck Tape and multiple layers of fabric and other materials!
• Titanium bonded blades are 3 times harder than stainless steel and never need sharpening!
• Westcott Brand® Cutting Tools have the best performance! The 3” scissors can even cut through 5 layers of fabric!
• Westcott Brand® Cutting Tools are ergonomic and come in several different color options!

The Westcott Brand® Craft Knife with Titanium Bonded Blade has a nice cushioned grip to keep your fingers from being calloused after a marathon cutting session (which is what I will have this week as I finish up my kit prep for my Houston gig).

Did I mention the Westcott Brand® pink self-healing cutting mat? Pretty to look at and such a work horse! Using it with the Westcott Brand® Craft Knife made the cuts feel like I was cutting butter.

I didn't use my pretty new Westcott Brand® 12” Titanium Bonded Trimmer on this project, but gave it a workout later, trimming 1/4" off some kit contents that I mistakenly cut too large.

The scissors holster, designed by Marisa Pawelko, is really a fun item to have. I am always losing my scissors, usually under a pile of papers, paints and brushes. I threaded it onto a piece of cording and hung it around my neck. Having that baby nearby has been a great time-saver.

I love the large Westcott Brand® Titanium Bonded Non-Stick Scissors, but my favorite pair? The tiny, tiny Westcott Brand® Titanium Bonded 3" Scissors, perfect for getting into little bitty places. I love to stamp, color, then trim to make dimensional embellishments, and these scissors are the best I have seen for that purpose. I love them!

On top of everything, the Westcott Brand® Titanium Bonded Non-Stick Scissors do not gunk up when you cut self-adhesive material. I'm sorry for that tacky term (pardon the pun, but tacky is the best term for that stuff that accumulates on the blades), but it's perfect for what I mean. Other scissors get adhesive that pretty much homesteads on the blades, not moving for anything unless I get out the cleaners that smell bad, turn my hands an ashy gray and make me hallucinate from the fumes. I have cut miles of self-adhesive materials in my 35 years of display design and, although some scissors claim to be non-stick, these are the first I've ever used that can truly own that statement.
My first project is a sweet little lunch tote, just the right size for a sandwich or salad, a piece of fruit and a bottle of water.

Here's how I made my lunch tote:


Supplies
Black Fun Foam, 12" X 18"
Pink Fun Foam, 2" X 8", and three 5" x 5" pieces for flower diecuts
Pink Duck Brand® Duct Tape Sheet
Black Duck Brand® Duct Tape Roll
The Duck Brand® Patterned Duct Tape Rolls, Pink and Black Zebra
VELCRO® Brand Sticky Back Hook and Loop Fasteners
Sizzix Bigz Bow Die (button diecuts)
Sizzix Tattered Florals Die (flower diecuts)
FoamTastic Adhesive


Directions

I started by cutting black Fun Foam into 5 pieces: two-7" x 8", two 4" X 8" and one 4" x 7". I cut diamond shapes from the pink Duck Tape sheet and adhered them on the tote's front and back foam pieces.

Hint: Begin at the center for the first diamond shape and you will wind up with the same amount of margin on each side. If you have an even number of diamonds, your center will be the top points equally spaced from the center. If you have an odd number, the top point will be at the center.

I added 3/8" pink stripes to the back and 3/4" buttons to the sides. All of the stripes and buttons were cut from The Duck Brand® Pink Duct Tape sheets.

Some of you may remember a long-ago post where I said I felt that adding buttons to your art is great, but don't disrespect your creation by just gluing them on. They need an anchor, something to tie them to the surface, so even though these buttons were just diecuts, I took a black Sharpie and drew the thread in place.

I glued all the pieces together using FoamTastic adhesive and used straight pins to hold the pieces in place until the adhesive dried. I then reinforced each seam inside and out with black Duck Brand® Duct Tape cut into 1" wide strips.

I cut the piece for the closure from hot pink Fun Foam, then realized that the color was off a little. I covered the closure strip in more The Duck Brand® Pink Duct Tape, then covered the 5" squares of pink Fun Foam with solid pink, solid black and Zebra pink and black and cut flowers with the Sizzix Tattered Florals die. I stacked the flowers using FoamTastic to adhere them together. I used VELCRO® Brand Sticky Back Hook and Loop Fasteners to attach the closure band to the front and back of the tote and placed a stacked flower, again adhered with Velcro in case I ever wanted to change out the flowers, on each end of the band.

The whole process, from computer design to finished project, took a little more than an hour. The hardest part was figuring the best size for the diamond shapes.

I'll be posting more projects made with these products this week, so check back often. Plus, there's another blog hop for Sizzix next week. I'll be using the new Vase ScoreBoard, designed by my buddy Eileen Hull, the Mat Board Queen. I can hardly wait to show you that project!










Note: I received product for this project from Westcott Brand® Cutting Tools, The Duck Brand® Duct Tape Sheets, VELCRO® Brand Sticky Back Hook and Loop Fasteners and Sizzix.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Better late than never...

I remembered to post that there was Sizzix Blog Hop beginning today, but I thought I was not supposed to post until next week. Boy, do I have egg on my face!

Anyway, the featured die this week is Eileen Hull's versatile Sizzix ScoreBoards XL Die - Album,one of my all-time favorite dies. This album has a cover, a pretty scalloped edge binding and a very nice nameplate. You need to make two cuts to get both covers, but this turned out to be my pushing the envelope idea.I am usually very frugal with my mat board scraps, but was in such a hurry today that I mistakenly cut the entire plate twice rather than the entire plate plus the back cover once more. The two binding edges were laying with one overlapping the other and -Bingo!- I realized I could make a wider width album just by inverting and adding the second binding.


I have been preparing class kits for some classes I will be teaching for Viva Décor at the Collins Group Fall Education and Trade Show in Houston in October, so Viva products have been on my mind a lot lately. I've been doing a lot of experimenting with Glitter Liners, Pearl Pens, Precious Metal Color and Paper Soft Color, and, since I received some fabulous stencils from Crafter's Workshop, I decided to combine the two to make an album to organize all my experimental scraps. I also dug into my treasures from the Craft Gossip Fork and Talk event in Little Rock. (Thanks again, ladies, for a wonderful event!)

Here's how I did it:

Supplies
Sizzix Little Sizzles - 6" x 13" Mat Board Pack, 6 Assorted Sheets
Eileen Hull's versatile Sizzix ScoreBoards XL Die - Album
• Big Shot
Crafter's Workshop Template, Mini Love Beads
Viva Décor Paper Soft Color, Light Carmine Red, Dark Sand,Violet and Cobalt Blue
• Viva Décor Pearl Pen, Ice White and Gold
• Viva Décor Precious Metal Color, Blue Azure and Silver
• Viva Décor Inka Gold, Gold
Deutica Lettering Arts Studio, Mandolyn Font
• Round Sponge Dauber (Viva Décor)
Allene's Original White Tacky Glue
• Brenda Walton Adhesive Borders, Flora & Fauna from K&Company
• Organdy ribbon scraps
• Violet Satin Ribbon, 1/8" Offray
• Cardstock, Blue, Violet and Pink, 12" x 4" folded to 6" x 4"
• Red Liner Tape

Directions:
1. Make two sets of die cuts using the Sizzix mat board pack.

2. Tape cover and binding pieces with easy-release double stick tape. Place the stencil over each item, add masking tape to secure it in place and swirl on the Paper Soft Color, blending the colors where they meet. Move the stencil as needed to cover the whole book. Remove the stencil and add Violet Paper Soft Color randomly.


3. Fold the scalloped edges in on each binding. With straight edges facing, lay one over the other and secure with Tacky Glue. Use clothes pins or binder clips to hold the binding in place while it dries.

4. Assemble the book, adhering one scalloped binding to the front cover and the other to the back cover

5. Tint Flora and Fauna swirls with Cobalt Blue Paper Soft Color. Apply one piece to the binding, overlapping on the front and back if necessary.
allowing the blue to show through in some areas. This creates a hammered metal effect.

6. Paint the nameplate with Blue Azure Precious Metal Color and set aside to dry. When dry, use your paint brush to tamp the Silver Precious Metal Color onto the Blue Azure,

7. Glue the book title in the nameplate and the " A few of my" tag above. Tint with Paper Soft Color if desired. Glue the swirl and nameplate to the front cover. Place a dot of Pearl Pen-Gold on each side of the nameplate for faux brads.

8. Dot the Ice White Pearl Pen along the swirl.

Note: After I finished this and it had dried for about 10 minutes, I decided the white was too harsh and ran over the dots with a little Inka Gold in Gold. I liked it so much that I hit some other highlights with it as well all over the book.

9. Using 1/8" ribbon, tie three-three page signatures into the book, turning the knots to the inside. Gather the 1/8" ribbon on the spine and tie together with organdy scraps.

Now, I can go back and gather up all those little scraps of experimental art and put them in my new book. I just hope I remember how I did them!

Now, go make something for someone you love.

FAQ about the Fresh Vintage Blog Hop:

How do I hop around to see ideas using the current featured die?
Every Tuesday and Thursday between September 27-November 3, 2011 there will be a new Sizzix Fresh Vintage die featured on 6-10 of the 75 participating designers' blogs. The navigation buttons for "Hop Back" and "Hop Forward" will allow you to easily hop around and see projects featuring whatever the current die is, since those buttons are programmed to navigate only to the blogs that are participating for that die. On the next Tuesday/Thursday, the buttons will automatically reprogram themselves to navigate to the blogs that are signed up for the next featured die.

What if I start at a designer's blog that isn't one of the 6-10 signed up for that die?
No problem! Simply hit either the "Hop Forward" or "Hop Back" button on the Fresh Vintage navigation widget from any blog's sidebar and you'll automatically advance to one of the participating blogs.

Can I go back and view the ideas for a previously featured die?
Of course! Go to the "Blog Hops" link at the top of the page. It will bring up all of the blog posts where you'll find direct links to each participating blog along with a thumbnail image of the project.

Where can I buy the Sizzix Fresh Vintage dies, by Eileen Hull?
You can visit Sizzix.com to find a local and online retailers for Sizzix products. Also be sure to visit Oh My Crafts, one of this blog hop's sponsors, (between the dates of September 27-November 3, 2011) and enter for a chance to win a Flower Layers #9 die!

The Blog Hop has ended and the navigation widget is no longer in the sidebar. How can I see the ideas?
Go to the "Blog Hops" link at the top of the page. It will bring up blog posts where you'll find direct links to each participating blog along with a thumbnail image of the project.





Note: I received product from Sizzix, Crafter's Workshop, Viva Décor and K & Company.

Another Sizzix Blog Hop!

Our good friends at Sizzix have organized a new Blog Hop to feature the Fresh Vintage Designs by Eileen Hull. Over the next six weeks, we'll be posting designs made with her mat board-cutting dies.
Have I mentioned how much I love these dies? I will have a post here next week with a tutorial, so be sure to check back.
In the meantime, be sure to click on the Fresh Vintage button on the left to hop to another blog in this great adventure!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Well, it's about time.....

"I'll report tomorrow."

Famous last words. I didn't report tomorrow, or the next day or the next. I have been frantically searching for my camera since Sept. 10, so I could post photos and report on the Fork and Talk event by Craft Gossip in Little Rock. It finally appeared this morning, hiding in the black hole that is my travel purse. I had only looked there about ten times, so black hole is the only possible explanation.

Melony Bradley and I left Memphis around 9 a.m. and headed west. It was a gorgeous day and with all our jibber-jabbering, the two-hour trip seemed like 15 minutes.

When we arrived in Little Rock, we were 30 minutes ahead of schedule. That's when we got out our Mapquest directions. Mistake. Big Mistake.

While we were trying to figure out where we were in regards to our exit, we saw the name of the street we were looking for on a big green interstate sign, congratulated ourselves on our savvy navigation and headed off on an adventure. That's what my DH and I call it when we get hopelessly lost. A Great Adventure. Second mistake. You know how there are streets in some cities that traverse the entire city? Well that was one of them and guess what: We were obviously at the wrong end of that street, although we didn't know it.

Not being men, we decided to ask for directions. We called Trio's,the restaurant where we were supposed to be, got very detailed directions and headed off, sure that we were almost there. Third mistake. We called the restaurant again, got a different person and a whole new set of directions. Fourth mistake. Suffice to say that we got directions from three more people, all the while seeing the entire city in our quest, including Razorback tailgate parties and lots of traffic jams. Finally, a very nice man said, "I'm heading that way. Follow me." We did, he pointed out the exit and we finally arrived, only an hour late.

The gracious folks at Craft Gossip welcomed us with open arms. We ordered our lunch and visited with the sweet ladies at our table, including Stacie Hooder, jewelry editor at Craft Gossip, who modeled our hat, which was a group design project. Each table was given a plain black top hat and we selected embellishments from the Craft Gossip editors' stash – beautiful ribbon, feathers, flowers and a wealth of other great embellies. We had 15 minutes to make our hats gorgeous, and I think everyone will agree that we all stood up to the challenge. Nothing like a group project to fuse friendships between women who don't know each other, have no idea what kind of talents each had individually and were reluctant to speak up if they thought they had a better idea for fear of stepping on someone's toes. I guess that comes from living graciously in the South. In spite of that, we came up with a great topper, with the theme Creativity Inspires Courage.

The four editors of Craft Gossip who live in the Little Rock area were perfect hostesses. They had a fun afternoon planned with great products and stimulating conversation.



The photo here is of a portion of the contents of the wonderful swag bags – yes, I said "bags" as in two huge bags – given by EK Success to each attendee. I am so overwhelmed with all the goodies and will be featuring many of these products on my blog in the coming weeks.

If you are not a member of Craft Gossip, go to www.craftgossip.com and check it out. I have seen so many great projects as a result of the research of this great team, everything from paintings to cupcakes to needle arts to techniques.

And if they bring a Fork and Talk session to your area, be sure to sign up! You'll be glad you did!

Now, go hug someone you love. Wish I could hug the folks at Craft Gossip right now!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Little Riock, here we come!

Melony Bradley and I are off on a road trip to the first ever Craft Gossip Bloggers' meet-up, where we'll meet four of the editors from Craft Gossip, have lunch at Trios and participate in a group project. I have no idea what to expect, but know that with this group, it will be fun.
I'll report tomorrow....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

It's that time again....

...Time for the Designer Crafts Connection Blog Hop, that is!
Our theme for September is Celebrations. If you have a celebration coming soon in your life, you can probably grab the perfect idea from this hop and make either copy it or atler it to make it your own. The design professionals on this blog hop are some of the best in the business. To see more, just press the Designer Crafts Connection button to the left and hop forward or backward to the next blog.
Be sure to go to Julie McGuffee's Blog to see how you can win A DVD set of the new TV show, Scrapbook Soup, Series 100.

! went to the Creating Keepsakes event in Nashville a few weeks ago and came home with much more than I left with...or needed, but the sight of beautiful papers and gorgeous embellishments gets me every time. It didn't help that I was with my enabler buddy Barbara Rankin. We are a disaster waiting to happen when we attend these events. If she doesn't find something unique that I must have, I find it and then she has to have it. After all, great minds think alike! Let's just say that the car rode a little lower to the ground on the way home.

As soon as I walked into the exhibit, I was immediately drawn to the Hot Off the Press paper booth. I walked in saying I was just looking. I had way too many papers already... and then I saw this Steampunk collection. That did it. I had to have it, even though I had no idea what I would do with it. Beautiful papers usually wind up in my stash of I-can't-use-this-because-I-may-never-see-it-again papers.

Celebrations always mark some sort of milestone: a birth, a birthday, a new job,a wedding, etc. I chose to use retiring as a celebration, which I have done twice, both times from the same company and same job. But that's another blog entry....

When I retired the first time, I looked back over my 25 years with the same company and could hardly believe I had been there that long. I wish I had kept a journal of my reflections at the time, because I can barely remember details of the things I thought I would never forget. This book is designed to be used by the retiree to jot down memories of the past (Reflections) and dreams for the future (Adventures).

Right now, school supplies are dirt cheap.I always use this time of year to stock up on index cards, post-it notes, crayons, pencils and notebooks, especially the old-fashioned composition book, which I snagged this week at WalMart for 40¢ each. Add some scrapbook paper, some embellishments and a little time and you have a great gift for less than $3.

Here's how I made it:

Supplies

Composition book
Steampunk Collection paper pack, four 12" x 12' sheets (Hot Off the Press)
Chipboard
Weathered Clock die (Tim Holtz Alterations, Sizzix)
Viva Décor Embossing Cream, Silver
Viva Décor Inka Gold, Cobalt Blue and Violet
Viva Décor swirl stamps
Duetica Lettering Arts Software
Embossing powders of your choice in metallic colors
Versamark Ink
Hampton Arts Graphic 45 Steampunk acrylic stamp set
Flouish stencil (Tattered Angels)
Heat Tool
Stazon Ink,Jet Black
Colorbox Chalk Ink, Chestnut Roan (Clearsnap)
Craft Knife
Tag
Walnut Ink
Beacon Zip Dry Adhesive
Large, long-shank brad
Sharpie, black, thin line
Circles from a 3/8" circle punch, Navy Blue and Silver


Directions

1. Cover book, front and back with papers from Steampunk collection.

2. Cut clock and hands from chipboard with die. Ink top and sides with black Stazon ink, then apply silver Embossing cream randomly, spreading with craft stick or palette knife. (Be sure to clean knife or stick immediately as the cream is quick drying.) Use heat tool to make cream set. Do not be alarmed if portions swell and move slightly. Cool, then apply more black Stazon randomly. Repeat on clock hands and brad head.

NOTE: When heating brad, be sure to grasp shank with a clothespin to avoid burning your fingers.

3. Glue clock to book front. Attach hands with brad.

4. Stain tag with walnut ink.When dry, lay stencil over center and rub on Cobalt Inka Gold. Apply Violet Inka Gold to edges, then apply Stazon ink to edges, Stamp swirls along bottom.Add enough twine to tag to loop to inside of book. Secure tag with glue, loop twine to inside book cover and secure with tape. Cover book inside covers with additional Steampunk papers.

5. Create labels using Duetica Lettering Arts Software and print onto cream cardstock.Trim labels and ink with Chestnut Roan ink. Attach both labels to tag.

6. Attach 3/8" Navy blue paper punches to left side of cover. Attach 3 silver punches to lower part of tag. Draw lines across each circle with Sharpie to simulate screw heads.

7. Stamp butterflies with Versamark, apply embossing powder and heat with heat tool.

NOTE: I originally used a gold embossing powder which I thought was bronze. (It was so old that the label had disappeared.) I didn't like the effect, so I heated each image again and applied a gray embossing powder. I had to do a lot of cleaning up of stray powder before I reheated it, but am much happier with the resulting color.

8. Edge book with Chestnut Roan ink as desired.These composition books are great for things that you don't want to tear out since they weren't made with torn pages in mind. The kids in my Sunday School class make these every year to write down their memory verses each week.

Now, hop to the next blog and don't forget to go to Julie McGuffee's blog to register for the prize!



Note: I received product from Clearsnap, Beacon Adhesives and Viva Décor for this project, although I would have purchased them anyway.I never promote anything that I don't believe in 100%.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Charity Auction on ebay

Back in July I created this piece for the Summer Craft and Hobby Association show using Westcott scissors and trimmers, Duck Brand X-Factor Duck Tape and Velcro fasteners. One thing that made it so easy for me was the new Duck Tape sheets (These are available at Target) which make covering a larger area pretty simple. The frame contains a quote about animals, and there is an additional removable frame on the band, which wraps around the larger piece. You can replace either image very quickly, and the larger opening holds an 8" x 10" photo. The smaller is approximately 3" x 4", although I can't imagine why you would want to replace the small photo. That is my pup Pete, The Speckle-butted Monster, who is now 13, one year older than the life expectancy for a Dalmation. Pete had a stroke last week that affected his gait and balance, but he is much better now and bouncing around with his buddy Sam, the Wonder Lab.


You can own this one-of-a-kind frame and make a difference in someone else's life as well. This item, as well as others using the same material, is being auctioned on ebay. The proceeds will benefit Scrapbook Royalty's Charity Wings program, which supports a variety of charities, including the National Kidney Foundation, natural disaster relief, Fathers' Day cards for our troops and the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure. Their work has raised more than $360,000 for charities in just a few short years. , Charity Wings, ebay is the founder and she is a fund-raising dynamo. I have never seen this woman when she didn't have a beautiful ear-to-ear smile as well as a twinkling tiara!

Please check out the Charity Wings auctions on ebay. There is sure to be something there that will appeal to you, and remember, these are one-of-a-kind pieces made by professional designers, which means you get a unique bargain and help someone else in the process.

Now, go to ebay, bid high and bid often, and then go hug your pets!









I received product from Westcott, Duck Brand Duck Tape and Velcro. As always, I would have purchased the materials anyway. I never promote anything I don't believe in.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Elegant but Easy!



Here is my entry for the Designer Crafts Connection August Blog Hop featuring one of my favorite techniques,embossing.

The card base is a Sizzix die, Card A2 with Decorative Edge, designed by Brenda Pinnick. I just love this die. It is perfect for cards, of course, but wouldn't this make a pretty banner?

Be sure to hop over to Julie McGuffee's blog and leave a comment on which technique you liked the best,
which one one are going to try and, which one was the most unique for a chance to win a set of punches( see my earlier post on this). They will be given away on August 15, so don't fool around and forget.

Here's how I made this:
Sizzix die and Big Shot (Card A2 with Decorative Edge designed by Brenda Pinnick)
Sizzix Big Shot
Cuttlebug embossing template and machine (www.provocraft.com)
Viva Décor Violet paper Soft Color (www.vivadecor.com)
Viva Décor Inka Gold, Old Silver
Cardstock, one sheet, Violet
Thick Mulberry paper, white 5" X 6"
Offray ribbon, 18"
Sponge Dauber
Stamp and white scrap for tag
ScorPal (www.scorepal.com)

1. Cut die twice with violet paper. Cut once with mulberry paper.
2. Fold one violet die cut to make card shape. Trim mulberry paper so that it is 1/2" smaller than the card front width. Score the width of the second piece of violet cardstock to 1" smaller than the card front. This piece should be trimmed along the original fold line and wrap to the back of the card when finished.
3. Sponge the edges of all pieces with Violet Paper Soft Color. Add Inka Gold to the edge of the base card cover so that the edge shows up against the card inside back.
4. Run the top piece of cardstock through the Cuttlebug with texture plate, then swirl Paper Soft Color across the raised area.
5. Glue Mulberry and textured violet cover together, offsetting the curved edges 1/2". Tie ribbon around the two pieces and tie in a bow. Glue the resulting piece to the card front, wrapping to the card back for approximately 1".
6. Add a tag and you're done.

I hope you like this card. It has been sitting on my worktable for a while now. I'm waiting for inspiration as to who should receive this little piece of Heaven. Maybe it's you!

Designer Crafts Connection Hop

Well, it's the first Monday of the month and that means it's time for another blog hop with a great group of designers.

Click on the button on the left of the screen to hop from blog to blog to see the amazing designs.

I will be posting a new project today as soon as my camera battery gets a full charge. I left it charging last night (I thought), but didn't have the battery pushed completely into the unit. Oh, the joys of technology!


Be sure to leave a comment on Julie McGuffee's blog for a chance to win a selection of punches. Just let Julie know:
• which technique you liked the best,
• which one you are going to try and
• which one was the most unique.

The winner will be announced on August 15th.

I hope you have a wonderful week and get lots of time to make art.

Now, go hug someone you love. I've already hugged my hubby this morning, so I think I will pay a visit to the backyard to hug Pete, the Speckle-butted Monster, and Sam, the Wonder Lab.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Morning at Windham Acres


I woke up at 6 a.m., which is rare for a retiree, but Larry was supposed to play golf at 7. His buddies called at 6 to cancel because of the storms. I couldn't go back to sleep, and now I'm glad I didn't.

I was making breakfast when I glanced out the kitchen window and saw this beautiful hawk sitting on our fence. There was a little bit of sun shining on his feathers when I first saw him that made him look like copper. By the time I got the camera and set it, the sun had gone back behind the clouds. I eased into my studio, which has sliding glass doors so I wouldn't have to shoot through a window screen. I barely got this shot when the mockingbird you can barely see at left of the hawk, attacked and chased him away. She must have had a nest nearby and was protecting her babies. The birdhouse on the left has three baby bluebirds, and mama bluebird was watching as well.

Our property goes back into the woods visible in the photo for about 250 yards. We usually mow the pasture area between the fence and the woods, but Larry decided to let it grow this year in hopes of attracting more wildlife. We have seen lots of deer at the wood's edge as well as quail. I could live without the raccoons and possum, which come for dinner with Pete and Sam on a regular basis, but that's part of country living.

My Morning Glories are finally blooming and are a beautiful blue/purple color. Sounds like another digital SB page to me!

Now, go hug someone you love!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My First Gardenia

I have loved Gardenias since I was a child. My Granny had a big Gardenia bush in her front yard, and my sister and would wait impatiently every summer for the waxy blooms to appear. I thought that bush was six feet tall, but know now that it was because I was less than four feet tall at the time.



The scent of Gardenias is a heavy, heady aroma, and just a tiny whiff transports me back to the '50s to 291 Oklahoma in South Memphis.

I have tried to grow Gardenias several times with no luck. I planted this bush last spring, watered patiently, watched incessantly, but no blooms.

This bush is planted just outside our fence in the side yard. I have always watered it from the backside of the fence, which is the reason I didn't even see the bud for this bloom. I was so happily surprised to discover it yesterday!

Of course I had to make a digital page about it for my Summer of 2011 book. Here's how I did it:

Supplies
photo
Duetica Lettering Arts Studio Software, Font: Mandolyn (www.duetica.com)
Adobe Photoshop CS5 (www.adobe.com)

Directions
1. Open your photo and a new document in Photoshop. Select your palette from your photo's colors and make a sample of each color in the blank document.
2. Open a new 12 X 12 document. This will be your layout file. Select one color and fill the background. Make this layer about 40 percent opacity.
3. Select a 11 3/4" x 11 3/4" square in a second layer. Fill with another color and make the opacity about 40 percent opacity.
4. Copy a square portion of your photo and paste it into a new 12" x 2" file. Keep pasting until you have a bar the width of your page. Flatten the image, select all and apply a watercolor effect. Copy and paste into your layout.
5. Place your photo into the layout and create a white border around it's edges.
6. Create Gardenia in the Duetica Lettering Arts Studio. Change the color to an off white. Copy and paste into you layout.

Note: If you want a custom color for the title, wait until you open it in Photoshop and apply a new color there.

7. In the Duetica Gardenia file, select all of the letters and change the color to a dull green. Make the opacity 35 percent, then copy and paste it into your layout to create the shadow.
8. Type My First, make it the same color as the gardenia type and tuck it into the space between the G and the D.
9. Draw a rectangle for your journaling block and fill with a color of your choice. Use the eraser tool set at 35 percent opacity to wipe out the edges of the block. Insert your journaling.
10. Finish by adding some white and green lines to border the entire layout.

That's it. I now have the first Gardenia I have ever grown all by myself recorded for the ages.

Now, go hug your Granny and be thankful for all she has taught you to appreciate. Wish I could hug mine!

Monday, July 4, 2011

God Bless America!

I am so thankful to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and to be a descendant of men who loved their country enough to risk their lives. My father, Jack Cofer, and his brothers, James, Mitchell, Frank and Earl, were all in the military. Earl, the youngest, paid the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam. He was a career soldier and loved the military life. They are all descendants of a Revolutionary War soldier.


Larry's Aunt Wille was also a soldier, packing parachutes at Ft. Oglethorp during WWII.

Today, I salute all the men and women who serve our country in the military. Many of them are far from home this Independence day, but you know they are thinking of the wonderful celebration we are having here in the USA.




Every time I see a man or woman in military clothing, I make sure to thank them for their service. It's not much, but their sacrifice makes my freedom possible, and I am eternally grateful.

Now, go hug a soldier!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Designer Crafts Connection

Although I'm not participating in this blog hop for July, be sure to hop forward or backward using the Designer Crafts Connection button at left. You can see some gorgeous creations by a really talented group of designers and register to win a great prize package.
Good Luck!

Presto, Pesto!


Several weeks ago, I started some Basil seeds indoors, thinking that they probably wouldn't germinate since they were packed for 2007. Boy, was I wrong! I had Basil running out my ears. I gave away a lot of it, but still have six pots on my deck, with four plants in each pot.

My problem was that I knew I could flavor vinegar with it and use it in salads, but I had waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much. My dear friend Jan Stone suggested I make pesto. I had never had pesto but searched the internet for a quick and easy recipe. This is the one I used:

Fresh Basil Pesto

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
• 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
• 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• Special equipment needed: A food processor

NOTE: I found another recipe that said to chop everything by hand to really be able to separate all the wonderful flavors .


1. Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

2. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.

Yield: Makes 1 cup.


Now, here's the recipe for the digital page layout:

Supplies
Duetica Lettering Arts Studio (Available at www.duetica.com)
Computer
Photo Program (I used Adobe Photoshop CS5)

1. Open your photo and size it so that it fills a little over 1/2 of your planned page layout.

2. Open a second file for your layout. Use the eyedropper tool to select colors for three layers and add them with a 1/4" margin all around. Make sure the top layer is a light color.

3. To mimic the pasta design, I added thin lines in a rusty brown color, which was selected from the photo. I started drawing lines individually and when I had about ten, I flattened the layer, selected the drawn lines plus the light background and pasted enough to fill to the other side of the page.

4. Flatten the layers again and select a new square with a 1/4" margin all around. Select inverse, then add a brown shadow all around, using the paintbrush tool and setting the opacity to 40 percent.

5. Place the photo in your layout. Create two surrounding layers, 1/4" apart.

6. Create the headline and subhead using Duetica Lettering Arts Studio's Tin Whistle font. Save it and create a png. file

7. Open the headline and subhead in Photoshop and change the color to match colors in your photo.

8. Copy the headline and paste it into a new file, making the opacity 50 percent. Save it as a png. file.

9. Place the 50 percent headline on your page with the bottom overlapping the photo a little. Place the full headline over this and move it about 1/4" up to make the shadow more pronounced. Place the subhead at the lower right of the page.

10. Draw a rectangle for your journaling and set the opacity at 35 percent. Draw another rectangle, about 1/4" smaller all around, and paint it the light color of the top background layer.

11. Set your journaling type and you're done.

Note: I have been told that the pesto can be made and frozen in ice cube trays, then packed in freezer bags.

Now, go make some pesto and enjoy it with someone you love, even if it's just you.

Have a safe and happy Independence Day and praise God that we live in a country that is free.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Good Morning, Sunshine!


This beautiful Day Lily greeted me Tuesday morning when I walked out the front door to water my plants. I immediately snapped a photo and headed to the computer. I posted it on Facebook, then decided that wasn't enough to do justice to this glorious bloom. It was begging for a digital scrapbook page of it's own, so I obliged.

Here's how I made my page:
Supplies
Duetica Lettering Arts Studio Software, Saxi Font (www.duetica.com)
Adobe Photoshop and InDesign Software (www.adobe.com)
Digital camera

1. Set headline type in DT Saxi font. Save as a png file.

2. Open a 12” X 12” layout in Photoshop and the file of your photo.

3. Select a 3” x 4” portion of your photo. Copy and paste repeatedly into the 12" x 12" layout to fill the layer. Flatten the entire image. Don’t worry if the edges are a little off.

4. Select the entire pattern portion of your layout. Go to Filters, emboss and adjust the pattern to your liking. Crop to a 10” x 10” image, centering the images, and save as a jpg.

5. Open a new 12 " x 12" file. Select colors from the photo for the first background layer (green), which will be 12 " x 12", and second layer (pink), which will be 11 1/2" x 11 1/2". On the pink layer, select the entire layer and add noise from the Filters palette to create texture.

6. Place the pattern layer on top of the pink layer. Create a new layer, fill with the same pink as the second layer and adjust to 30 percent. This will give your three layers a cohesive look. Place your photo into the layout and add a yellow/green border.

7. Open your headline and change the color of the type by using the magic wand to select the background and openings in the letters, then selecting Inverse and dropping in color with the paint bucket.

8. Place the file in your layout.

9. Add a journaling block by selecting the area on a new layer, then dropping in the color at about 55 percent.

10. Save all as a psd file to be able to alter layers later if desired, then save as a jpg.

10. Take the .jpg image into a layout program such as In Design or Pagemaker and add journaling using the Saxi font. (I always set my journaling in a layout program so that I can tinker with the font.)

I've been creating pages as the inspiration struck this summer and plan to put them all into a Summer of 2011 book. The images will be printed at 8" X 8" to fit my book and save ink.


Enjoy this glorious day and take photos of your Day Lilies. They won't last long but you'll be able to have summer memories all year long.

Now go hug someone you love (or some flower, but very gently)!








I received Duetica Lettering Arts Studio software. Please remember that I would never endorse a product that I didn't believe in.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is it Copying?

I ran across a great article by Rice Freeman-Zachary entitled You Already Know the Answer today that talks about what I have been thinking for a long time. The article is clear and concise and points out a lot of ideas that have come to be accepted as common practice.

When I first started writing this blog entry, I went off on a tangent about someone who was taking classes at one scrapbook store, then teaching the same class at another.I got a little heated up, so decided to delete all that and ask you to read this wonderful article.

I hope you're having a wonderful Friday, that you stay cool and have the best weekend ever!

Now, go hug someone you love.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Designer Craft Connection-June Edition


Welcome to another monthly edition of the Designer Craft Connection. If you click on the DC logo to the left, you can hop from blog to blog and see all the wonderful patriotic-themed projects from this talented group of designers. Be sure to check out Julie McGuffee's blog for info on registering to win the great prize that will be given away later this month, The Big Book of Scrapbook Pages and Cherish by Jeanette R. Lynton. You only have to leave a comment on Julie's blog telling her which project you liked best and why as well as which technique you liked the best.


Note: I have been experiencing some problems this morning with my links, so you may have to copy and paste the websites into your browser to get to them.


I come from a long line of patriots, dating back to the Revolutionary War. I love using red, white and blue in my work, but you will rarely see pure colors. I prefer the aged look of Navy blue, burgundy and cream colors, all mixed up with a lot of brown.

This tag came together in about 20 minutes, including setting the lettering with the Duetica Lettering Arts font. It took me longer to find my Distress Embossing Powders than it did to actually construct the tag.

Supplies
Big Shot and Sizzix Dies: Tim Holtz's Gadget Gears and Tag and Bookplates (www.sizzix.com)
Tim Holtz's Ranger Distress Inks, Fired Brick, Vintage Photo, Soot and Faded Jeans (www.ranger.com)
Tim Holtz's Ranger Distress Embossing Powders, Brushed Corduroy, Fired Brick and Faded Jeans(www.ranger.com)
Duetica Lettering Arts Studio Font,Floot (www.duetica.com)
Smooch Spritz, Cherry Ice and Navy Twinkle (www.clearsnap.com)
B-Line Swirl Stamp (www.blinedesigns.com)
Mat Board scrap
Rosie the Riveter Stamp from Artistic Outpost's Hero Set (www.artisticoutpost.com>)
Krylon Silver and Gold Leafing Pens (www.krylon.com)
Parchament Paper
Cream card stock scrap
Craft card stock scrap
Leather Cord
Beacons 3-in-1 Adhesive (www.beacon.com)
Paper cutter, craft knife

Directions
1. Cut tag and reinforcement from mat board using the Tag and Bookplates die and the gears from the Gadget Gears die.

2. On the large tag, spay Smooch Spritz randomly. Stamp swirl stamp with Faded Jeans Distress Ink. Ink the tag edges with Vintage Photo and Soot inks.

3. On cream paper, stamp the Rosie the Riveter collage stamp with Faded Jeans and trim closely. Lightly sponge Fired Brick and Faded Jeans all over the image and along the edges. Cut a scrap of Kraft Paper slightly larger than the Rosie stamp. Tear off the bottom edge. Ink the edges heavily with Faded Jeans, Fired Brick and Vintage Photo. Finish with a direct-to-paper swash along the edges of soot ink.

4. Adhere stamped art to right side of the tag.

5. Set sentiment with Duetica Lettering Arts Floot font. Change color to a deep burgundy and print on parchment paper. Tear parchment to make sentiment strip approximately 6" x 1". Sponge with Fired Brick, Faded Jeans and Vintage Photo and ink all edges with the same. Finish with a light sponging of black around the edges. Adhere to left side of tag, overlapping the image if necessary.

6. Gears: To create the look of rusty metal, ink each gear with Vintage Photo ink. Randomly sprinkle Fired Brick, Faded Jeans and Brushed Corduroy distress embossing powders over each gear, leaving some areas blank. Heat the powders until they are set, then brush away any loose particles remaining. Ink the gears randomly with Soot ink.
Adhere the gears to the tag, allowing some to hang off the edge. When dry, flip the tag over and trim off the excess gears with a craft knife.


Tip: Even though Distress Inks are dye inks, they remain damp a little longer than regular die inks, so you can use them for heat embossing.


7. Paint the reinforcement circle with gold and silver Krylon Leafing Pens in a random pattern. Allow to dry, then ink with Vintage Photo and Soot Distress Inks to age the piece. Adhere the reinforcement to the tag and tie a strip of leather through the hole.

This will become the cover art of my Independence Day/Freedom mini-album.

Try to stay cool today. The forecast for this week is nothing below 95° in the Memphis area. As my sweet granny used to say, "It's hotter than a July firecracker!"

Now go hug someone you love. I wish I could hug my granny!





Note: I received product from Sizzix, Clearsnap, Duetica, Beacon, Krylon and Artistic Outpost, although had I not received them, I would have purchased them. You can count on knowing that I only use products which I love and would never recommend a product just because I received it at no charge.
I learned the rusty technique on the gears from Shelley Hickox, who was kind enough to share it with our stamp club at our last meeting.

Friday, May 27, 2011

An Unexpected Visitor



Isn't it funny how things happen that you never expect? After much rattling of paper (Translation: destroying half of a parent sheet), I found this guy in my studio one morning. He was wedged between the wall and a file cabinet where I store large pieces of paper and mat board. I have no idea how he got in. He had to come through a door opening in my studio or else he managed to disguise himself and walk straight through the living, kitchen and dining room, then hop down two steps to get to his destination. I can't imagine that I left a sliding glass door open long enough for him to crawl in then hide. None the less, he managed it somehow.

I wish I had snapped a photo when I first found him, rather than in the flower bed that I placed him in at the front of our house. He was very big, probably 5-6" wide and 7-8" long. If I had placed him in the back yard, the dogs would have had a field day with their new "toy".

Here's how I made this digital scrapbook page.
Supplies:
Duetica Lettering Arts Studio Software Font: Saxi
Photoshop CS5
InDesign CS5
jpeg photo

I set the headline type with the Saxi font from Duetica. The spots behind the letters were also created with the same software. This system allows you to select, letter-by-letter, the font style. You can use one font with many variations or mix fonts to come up with unlimited headline type. I set the words and saved them to one file, then set the "dots" using the same font. You get both of these with the purchase of the Saxi font. You can change the font color right in the Duetica software before saving the file. I chose to wait until I took it into Photoshop because I wanted to pull my colors from the photo. If you are working in Microsoft word or another word program, you can place this file right in without taking it to a layout program, which is great for things like newsletter headlines or the important words in invitations, such as the names of the bride and groom.

1. I opened a 12" x 12" file in Photoshop, a smaller blank file and the turtle photo.

2. I set up a palette in the small file using five colors selected from the turtle photo.

3. Background paper: I selected a random shape from the turtle shell and copied and pasted it into my 12" x 12" file. After pasting about four more of the same pattern across the top, I flattened the file, selected the shell pattern and pasted it enough times to cover the whole page. I flattened it again and selected one horizontal piece from the center to paste along each side to cover any remaining white space. I selected a vertical pattern to cover the top and bottom as well. I created a new layer, set the opacity at 35% and filled it with the blue I selected from the photo.

4. I opened the dots file from Duetica and colored each dot with one of the color selections from the photo. I placed it on the background, enlarging it to fit and saved the file as a psd, maintaining the layers. I placed the "An Unexpected Visitor" words, enlarging the file to fit over the dots.

5. I added a green rectangle and placed the photo on it. I also drew two lines just below the headline and brought the type layer forward with the descender on the "p" on top of the line to give it some depth.

6. I created the text box in pale blue, then drew a couple of lines across the bottom of the box using a specialty brush from Photoshop.

7. At this point, I saved the entire file.

8. I opened InDesign, drew a beige block over the text box with a 45% drop shadow and added my text and subhead, both in the Saxi font.

9. I liked the clean look of the page, but as an after-thought added the circles across the bottom with drop shadows.

This page is going into my 8" X 8" Little Moments of Life book where I keep scrapbook pages about seemingly insignificant events that are just part of everyday life. Even though this file is a 12"x 12", I will print it as an 8" x 8", using less ink than a 12" x 12" page.