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" pear...it'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 Etsy.com, 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

Timberrrrrrrr!

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!