Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year From Zane and the Gang

Before I settled in for a quiet night in front of the TV, I brought my camera into the bedroom just in case the cats struck any cute poses. This is the first thing I saw - Zane with his paws crossed. I don't know if all cats do this or why, but it's one of the million or so things I love about them. I figured it rated a blog entry. So, from Zane Grey, Harley, Jazz, Cubby and me, Happy New Year, Everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Fruit Salad

I tried to get out of the house and do some last-of-the-year errands, but the snow started coming and I decided to make just a quick trip by bus. When I returned, I managed to make another Thank You card using 2 SCS challenges - the sketch and the color combo. The colors are supposed to be hunter green, burgundy and saffron, but I don't buy Stampin' Up cardstock or ink, so I matched as best I could. The stamp is another by Rubber Stampede, that I colored with regular and watercolor pencils. There's a bit of glitter gel pen, but it doesn't show up in the photo. I punched the leaves with a Fiskars punch. Simple!

Fruit Salad

With only two more card-making days to go this year, I'm up to 253. That isn't a record, but I didn't swap cards with anyone at Splitcoaststampers, so the number reflects more individual challenges and designs for my Etsy Shop. Of course, Christmas cards to send and sell accounted for almost half that total, and meant December was a pleasantly creative month.

These cards were made for Technique Lover's Challenge, posted every Monday at SCS. Both cards started with designer paper by K and Company folded into a "squash" shape (that was the challenge) and a Rubber stampede stamp. I used watercolor pencils and regular colored pencils and printed the sentiment on my PC. The pear card is tied closed with ribbon attached behind the image. The apple card is kept closed by a coated paperclip, decorated with a bit of ribbon.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Morning

Up early, I waited until the sun crept into position behind this giant fir tree. I was standing on my front steps to take this photo. This is same view from inside. I can't believe the pile of snow that has perched on these bushes through windy and melting days. It's a better gauge of our snowfall than that on the ground, since the latter has been shoveled and trod upon.

After taking these pictures, I headed out to a movie ("Seven Pounds" - excellent!), then home to change clothes, finish a couple cards, make a little altered tin (and upload it to my SCS gallery) and leave to pick up Mom. Our family gathering at Paul and Ann's included 9 adults, 16 children, a variety of tasty foods, the gift exchange, and musical entertainment by the young cousins. I played pool with TL (thanks, TL!). He did very well and I recalled spending my youth in a poolhall. Just joking! Mom used to be on a bowling league when my brothers and I were kids, and we learned how to play billiards while she was bowling. I claim no talent in that area, but I started to regain a feel for it after 2 games.

Time flew by - after bringing Mom home, it was almost 11:00 as I was driving into my neighborhood, and all of a sudden, the familiar jingle bells of Axel's "The Night Before Christmas" came on the radio. What a thrill! Although we had the "45" of it to listen to every year, and copies on tape, hearing it on the radio after many many years made me a little teary-eyed. I guess it just brings back wonderful memories of Christmases past when I was the child, Dad was still alive, and falling asleep on the way home from the Christmas Eve get-together was possibly the best part of the day.
I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas, however it was spent.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

It's officially Christmas, so before I go to bed, I thought I'd post a photo of my Christmas tree. It's artificial, but most people can't tell unless I point it out. The branches all have to be added individually, which means I'm able to build a tall skinny tree to fit my limited space. I decorated "light" this year, using only about 1/4 of my ornament collection, and even switched from all-color lights to blue and green. I don't know if a photo can capture the serenity of a darkened room with just a Christmas tree for light...but that's how it feels.
To all, a Good Night.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lane of Red Cedars

Last weekend when the temperatures were below zero, I intended to stay inside and work on various projects. Toward late afternoon, I discovered the cats were out of food and I hadn't shoveled the new snow from my driveway or started my car for two days. So, I decided to just walk a few blocks to a little convenience store. With 2 pairs of pants and socks, 2 sweaters, and my warmest gloves, I made it to the store and back in about an hour, including just a few minutes inside. There was a bit of wind, forcing me to pull my scarf up and fog up my glasses, but it was great to be outside in the crisp, fresh air. Along the way, I passed this street. It is one I drive by frequently, but it looked especially beautiful with the snow-covered cedar trees. It wasn't until today that I was able to drive back and snap this shot. We've had even more snow since that day, so the scene looks much the same.

Winter Apple

The apple stamp is from the same set as the pear on the previous card. This SCS challenge was to try the faux silk technique, which is basically just stamping on tissue paper (the type used in gift bags), crumpling it up, smoothing it out and sticking to a piece of cardstock. The "twist" was to stamp the same image on another color of cardstock to give it "pop". I used red c/s for the apple and green c/s for the leaf, cut each piece out and adhered to the back of the tissue image. I wanted the leaf color to match the paper a little better, so I lightly colored it with marker right on the tissue.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Pear

Ok, so it's not really a "winter"'s a pear card for the first day of winter. The layout is another Splitcoaststampers challenge. I started a new box of designer paper for the first layer - it seemed to complement the pear stamp image just right. The pear was stamped on watercolor-textured cardstock and colored with colored pencils and a bit of marker. I ended up cutting around the image because I was trying to use a corner punch on the rectangle and one corner punched crooked. That's what's known as a happy accident, because the second mat of white with pink behind the edge punches turned out better than my original idea! Other details: 4 small pieces of grosgrain ribbon, a metal embellishment, and silver glitter pen edged around the pear, that was raised up on pieces of thin cardboard rather than pop dots.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Newsletter

Merry Christmas, Everyone! It's my second yearly blog newsletter. If you read my blog from time to time, it's just a recap of many of the events I've already written about. Still, it's nice to take a break before the end of the year and reflect on the past 12 months. To keep it simple, I've left out photos, but if you click on the labels at the bottom of the post, you can see the photos already on my blog.

2008 was my second full year of working on my greeting card business, Clee'. Many pieces finally fell into place. Minneapolis went wireless, so I got connected. I bought and assembled all the storage cubes I needed for my studio, so my supplies are finally organized. More importantly, I discovered, a website for artists and craftspeople to sell their wares. It was a thrill to upload a card design to "my store" and wait for my first sale. That honor went to cousin Sara (thanks, S!), but I soon had several other sales, including 3 cards mailed directly to Minnesota recipients bought by a woman in Singapore! Ah, the power of the web. :) I also sold a needlepoint pin I had made 30 years ago! Once I thought about all the handmade things I had just waiting to be used and loved by someone else, it wasn't hard to list them for sale. The Etsy shop is still in the beginning stages, and my next step will be to do some marketing.

Mom, Craig and I vacationed in Hawaii (Maui) in April. There's a short video on the right side of the blog that shows one of the highlights of the trip. But there was no day that was not as wonderful as the day before. We rented a car and drove all over the island, from our base on the southwest side near the ocean, to the top of a volcano (Haleakala) and along the precarious, but breathtaking Hana Highway with its 54 bridges and 600 hairpin turns. The weather was perfect, even with the bit of rain we got the day we hiked in Iao Valley. We went to the best luau in all of Hawaii (according to many reviews), a cocktail cruise (during which we spotted the whale in the video), and a snorkeling cruise (Craig had more success than I, but Mom and I got to view some ocean life from the glass-bottomed boat). We had a week and Maui isn't that big, but we felt we could have stayed another week!

The hairpin turns of a Maui highway were nothing compared to the twists in our family life. Craig had quadruple bypass surgery in June and Mom broke her ankle in August (on her birthday!). So, summer included many trips to the hospital, a nursing home, doctor appointments and therapy. The good news is that they are both fully recovered and back to work (Craig) and bowling (Mom).

Summer was also time to celebrate several BIG birthdays - Mom turned 80 and Minnesota and Bloomington turned 150! We had a Hawaiian-themed family picnic at Minnehaha Falls for Mom's birthday. I found plates and tablecloths with tropical designs, and everyone wore their best Hawaiian shirts. For the Minnesota and Bloomington Sesquicentennials, I tried to visit as many historic places as possible, including Stevens House in Mpls, the re-dedication of the Bloomington Town Hall, and Dakota-Pond Mission Park. Our almost mild summer weather was conducive to playing hometown tourist.

It's been a beautiful Fall as well. And a busy one. For my birthday, I was treated to lunch at 3 Fish (thanks D&K and Mom), lunch at Olive Garden (thanks Mom), and a performance of "Wicked" at the State Theater (thanks AJ). I finished my Christmas cards just days ago, and happily completed another large card order (thanks Aunt C!!). As I write this, snow is falling and we are guaranteed a white Christmas. That may not put everyone in the holiday spirit, but it is always my wish-come-true. I don't even mind shoveling...and I've shoveled about 6 times already! :)

Whatever the weather and whatever you may be doing, I hope you are healthy and happy, enjoying the holidays and looking forward to the New Year. Happy 2009, Everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Movie Break

If you've come to my blog looking for the promised Christmas Newsletter, check back tonight or tomorrow. I've been in the house most of the week getting my cards done and waiting for warmer weather. I will take a little break today to see a movie (not sure which one yet), and then I'll be right back to post the newsletter. The wreath in the photo is a vintage heirloom Mom gave me. I remember it so well from my childhood and certainly didn't expect it to work after all these years, but it does! It's fun to see a "real" bulb when so many are now miniatures and LED.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Inspiration in Everyday Objects

Some people sing in the shower; I brainstorm. Two weeks ago, I noticed how nice the different colors of soap looked together. And all of a sudden, a design for my Christmas cards popped into my head. Since my trip to Hawaii in April, I'm still being inspired by all things ocean blue and sea green. My original design even had shell and starfish shapes, but I simplified it and I think it works. As I was storing these little vases to make way for Christmas ornaments, I realized they were very much like the soap colors.
I didn't start the cards right away. I couldn't decide between my "vision" or the next card in the "12 Days of Christmas" series I've been drawing on and off for the last 10 years. I know some of you look forward to seeing the next one, but when December arrives and I haven't even started the sketch, the pressure can really sap my creativity. I'll admit last year was an exception. I went from sketch to mailed cards in a few days. I finally decided to go ahead with the paper-cutting idea, partly because it represents the style of card I've been designing most of the year.
The finished card is made up of 2 punched-out trees, a punched deer, a punched star, and hand cut hill and large tree. The large tree is a blown-up copy of the small tree. I punched out a tree, put it on my copier and scaled it up to make a template. I'll admit my drawn cards would have been easier; after the drawing is done, it's just a copier project. But I'm happy with the result, and I've even thought of a 3-D project with the same design. (All the paper punches are by Martha Stewart.)
You can see some of the cardstock textures in this close-up. The star is pre-glittered cardstock. Let me know what you think!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thank Ewe

A simple little Thank You card made with 2 sizes of scalloped oval punches (Marvy Uchida), a "word balloon" punch (Fiskars), tiny flower punch (Martha Stewart), and pieces of other punches to form the eyes, ears and mouth. Background is photo paper from DCWV.

The Ornaments of a Home

Many cardmakers at Splitcoaststampers challenge themselves to make a few Christmas cards a week until they have enough for everyone on their list. I've been making my own Christmas cards for decades, but usually all the same style each year. Several years ago, I decided to do more drawing, so I started a series of colored-pencil illustrations of the "12 Days of Christmas" theme. I hope and wish and plan to make them by October or November, but that doesn't usually happen. Last year, I drew, printed, assembled and addressed all my cards in just a couple of days, and sent them out on Dec. 15th. It looks like that's what I'll be doing again this year.

In the meantime, here's an SCS Sketch Challenge card, using designer paper (probably DCWV), and cardstock, plus grosgrain ribbon and a Stampin' Up image stamped and embossed 3 times. The sentiment reads, "The ornaments of
home are the friends who frequent it". The sentiment is also an SU stamp that I bought at a garage sale. It's dated 1994, but I have no idea what set it's from, or the name of it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Our neighborhood lost yet another elm tree last week. This is one I just photographed in full color this year with my maple. It's been 10 years since the elm on my boulevard was cut down. I cried that day.
But I was more prepared for this one. The red ring was painted on its trunk months ago. Besides that, it's not "my" tree, although it's right next door.

It went quickly. The front-loader (first photo) was tied to the tree so it fell in the street as was planned. It felt like an earthquake when it fell! I went into the next room to check on the cats - they were sitting up wide-eyed, but pretty calm.

Baby Cabaret

I finally mailed this baby card to my cousin Lisa and family. They welcomed their 11th child, a boy, last month. The card was made for Virtual Stamp Night at SCS before the baby was born, so I waited to post the photo until now. I stamped the little jacket 11 times, colored it with markers, and punched it out with a scalloped circle punch. The 12th circle is a sentiment from Stampin' Up. The background is designer paper from my stash, and I added tiny beads at the inner intersections.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Beautiful Recycling

The week flew by as I was making 75 cards for a card order! I will reveal the card as soon as I know they have been mailed, in case the recipients read this blog. This card was made for two Splitcoaststampers challenges - the sketch and "limited supplies". We were to use only snowflakes as images and add shine or glitter, and only one word. The large snowflakes were punched out of a magazine ad (Home Depot, if you can believe!). I punched a few more snowflakes out of metallic cardstock and also used metallic c/s for the 3 blue panels and the mat for the sentiment. The snowflake patterned paper is by DCWV.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thankgiving Dinner

I guess I've been busy - I didn't really notice because I've been so busy! So, I'm playing catch-up with my blog posts. These are the pics of Thanksgiving dinner at David and Kim's. Mmmm, doesn't the food look good? Makes me want to eat the exact same meal all over again. That's their new kitchen counter. The dish on the upper right is my green bean casserole.
Nice table! Kim said the tablecloth was a recent purchase. The leaves are embroidered and appliqued, not just printed. I don't think we took a photo of ourselves!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

David and Kim had Mom and I over to their house for Thanksgiving dinner today. It was the first get-together (I think) in their new kitchen, and a great success! We didn't go overboard on the food for just the four of us, but we had all our favorites - turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry relish and pumpkin pie! We were treated to some of the wine they brought back from their vacation to Missouri (yes, Missouri) wine country, and saw the digital pics on TV. It was a nice relaxing day and we are certainly thankful for the health and well-being of everyone in the family - especially this year!
Before I left for their house this morning, I had a chance to post this little project for the Splitcoaststampers "Ways To Use It" challenge. The stamp is a tiny one I bought at a garage sale - it's a Stampin' Up stamp from 1994. I colored it with pencils and a little marker and glitter gel pen, punched it out and tied it to a "kitchen warming" gift for D & K.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Birthday Weekend

I try to keep Christmas from creeping into my calendar before Thanksgiving, but Bachman's was having their annual open house this weekend, and that included the arrival of Santa. He looked so authentic and traditional in his full outfit. I wasn't able to get a photo of him until he arrived at his "house" (inside the store) and he had already taken off his coat.
I split a photo in two to avoid the cardinal sin of photography: placing an object dead center in the frame. There was a lamp right in the middle of the original photo. Now, it's just two views of Santa's living room.

Children were posing on his lap for photos in between several performances of a short play put on by Santa and his elf - something about Rudolph's nose.

Today was lunch at The Olive Garden with the ladies in the family, and my friend AJ. I had the endless salad, and was then treated to chocolate cake brought out by the OG staff, singing. I guess I didn't know any places that still did that. AJ caught it all on her video camera. If I don't look too weird, I'll try to get her to post it here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Recycled Card

I haven't done any SCS color challenges before, because they're based on Stampin' Up cardstock and ink colors, and I have neither. But today, the red/black/kraft combo seemed simple enough, so I designed this card with a recycled bag. The image was all in white on a black bag, but I colored some of the lines with a red marker. I stamped the edges of the "kraft" paper with an SU stamp - the grapes from Watercolor Garden - and decoratively punched one corner. As I often do, I printed the sentiment on vellum on my PC, then added a thin strip of kraft paper like ribbon.

Two Birthdays

Last weekend, Mom, D&K and I ate at "3 Fish", a great restaurant near Lake Calhoun. We celebrated D's birthday on the 12th and my upcoming birthday on the 23rd. D got a few more pics than I did, including one of us blowing out our candles, but I had to show you the lovely presentations of my ahi tuna BLT (with orzo salad on the side) and our desserts. The one on the right is key lime pie and the one on the left is a chocolate cake in a thin cookie shell. We all shared the two pieces, but I think I would go back and order either one for myself - they were that scrumptious!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rockin' Cabaret

This weekend was another VSN - Virtual Stamp Night - at Splitcoaststampers, and I was able to get two cards made. I'll share the 2nd one at a later time because it was made with an occasion in mind. This card was inspired by the CD cover in the background (that was the challenge). I used drops of dyes swirled around with a paint brush on watercolor paper. After drying it with my heat gun, I stamped the notes on it, matted it on black and added the punched scalloped oval with ribbon. This took my 45 minutes - that is also part of the challenge.

I also changed my blog template again. I wasn't happy with how the text was aligning on the old one. As much as I don't like the design aspect of software, I would love to figure out how things were intended to work/look, because they sure don't work/look anything like simple/logical sometimes!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

City Turkey. Last month when Aunt C and I walked around Lk H, we detoured through the nearby neighborhood. This is what we saw! I don't know if this is a wild turkey or someone's pet. When we first spotted it, he (she?) was on the porch. This is one more reason I love my compact Canon. I carry it with me everywhere every day and have gotten some unexpected photos with it. If only I'd had it the day we saw a deer IN the lake! Of course, we don't need a picture to remember the experience, but I'd love to be able to show you what we saw: There was a strange shape bobbing along in the water towards shore, and at first we couldn't identify it. But as it came closer, we realized it was the head of a deer and she (no antlers) was swimming toward shore. When she got to the walled edge, she jumped out, ran across the boulevard and across the parkway, disappearing into the wooded area nearby. If there hadn't been a wet trail across the path, I think we would have thought we'd imagined the whole thing. I love urban living, with nature close by.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Studio Update. A few weeks ago, I added this curved display unit to my storage system, as well as the unit just to the top left of it. I was happy with the arrangement I had, but the 20 cubes were stacked 4 high, so I was missing a work surface. The additional units, plus the table-tops really make a difference! I no longer have to step into the next room to use my paper punches on the dining room table. Some punches need to be firmly pressed from above, and the stack of 2 units is just the right height. Also, all the little collectibles in the curved unit were taking up the only countertop space I had. This is much better!

Here's another use for a thread-spool rack. My Martha Stewart punches were all neatly arranged in a drawer until I bought one too many (sigh)! This is an upcycled (a word popular at idea I've used several times. I no longer store much thread, so I used some racks I already had and several broken ones found at JoAnn's for bargain prices. I put all the good pieces together to form one rack for decorative edged scissors, hand-held paper punches, and now, the MS punches. In the photo above, you can see the other upcycled idea - an old CD rack used for ribbon. I added fishing line across the bottom opening of each row of slots, so the ribbon can't roll out.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Buon Appetito. Here's an ATC (artist's trading card) I made a while back. I used a paper punch for the bottle, goblet and plate, and added a stamped and colored label to the bottle. The 'wine' is Crystal Effects over a small piece of rosy paper. The spaghetti is packing fibers embedded in sealing wax, for a 3-D effect. I think this would make a cute coupon for an Italian could be be added to the inside of a larger card.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations, Mr President (Elect)! The election was going to be historic no matter how it turned out, with either the first female Vice President or the first African American President. I'm very happy with the outcome. It's historic for me personally, as well. It's the first time the President will be younger than me! I've been voting since 1972 and this is only the third time I voted for the winner. I probably should have voted for Jimmy Carter, but it was only my second election and I had no idea who he was! Of, course, that's the way I felt about Obama for the longest time, but I eventually "saw the light". When I was waiting to vote yesterday, I was reading "The Secret Life of Bees" set in 1964, and a black woman was harrassed on her way to register to vote. We've come a long way since those days, with, hopefully, many more positive changes yet to come.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fiorello. Saturday night, Mom, D-and-K and I saw the musical "Fiorello" at the Bloomington Civic Theater. It was one we were not familiar with, but I thought it was quite good, and the first one based on a true story that we've seen. Fiorello LaGuardia was a three-term Mayor of New York City, a Senator and a WWI veteran. The music and dance numbers were very well done; there are some amazing singers at the Bloomington Theater.

Happy Election Day!
I walked the few blocks to my polling place this morning, and waited less than a half hour to vote - it was a breeze! The last few days have been amazingly warm for November. Yesterday the temp was mid 70s! I took one photo on my way back from grocery-shopping and the other today on my walk back from voting. I think these are both a variety of maple. I love my red maple tree, but it's already bare of leaves, while these still provide color late into Fall.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Happy Turkey Day - Designer Version

Happy November, Everyone!
It's already the third day of a new month, but I'm going to challenge myself to post something new every day AND list one NEW item for sale in my Etsy shop. I had just listed this "Happy Turkey Day" card yesterday and I received an email today that it had sold! That's my fastest sale yet. I've already re-listed it AND am finishing off a designer version in non-traditional turkey colors. Since this is my birthday month, everyone who leaves a comment on my blog will be eligible for a free card of your choice from my Etsy shop. I will put all the names into a drawing on Nov. 23 (that's my birthday), and one (or more?) lucky winners will receive the card of their choice.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Indian Elephant Cookie. C and I attended another preview party Saturday night, this one at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The exhibit was photographs and videos of India. There were light appetizers and this cookie to take as we left. C ate his, but I promised to take a photo before I ate mine. Since I had been sick early that day, it wasn't difficult to keep my promise; usually any treats in my car are gone before I get home! There was no art activity like those the Walker Art Center usually has, so this was my only souvenir (and my only photo because my memory card was full).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Tenth Fall. Wouldn't that be a great title for a book? My 10-year old maple tree is again glowing with color just as the other trees are dropping most of their leaves. It's amazing how fast it changed from green to red - maybe two days. Mom lost a large tree in her backyard and D&K replaced it with a "baby" version of this. It's a fast-growing maple that will be shading her yard in just a few years. Hers changed to red even this year.