Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Forever on Thanksgiving Day . . . . .

the heart will find the pathway home." (Wilbur D. Nesbit)

My husband Lee and I were lucky enough to be able to travel from Utah to my childhood home in Abilene, Kansas this Thanksgiving to spend some special time with my mother and my sister and her family.

Lee and I generally make two driving trips a year to Kansas to visit with my family, but we normally don't make our road trips this late in the year, because the weather and road conditions are pretty unpredictable. And typically, air travel is too expensive for us to manage on a regular basis.

But this year, we were lucky enough to be able to pick up some "frequent flyer" miles sufficient to arrange a flying trip back home to see my family over the Thanksgiving holiday.

So here we are, for the first time in over 20 years, celebrating Thanksgiving with my family, and in the town where I grew up. It has, indeed, been a special visit . . . . .

We've been able to spend some quality time with my mother, who just turned 87 years old in October.

And we've enjoyed visiting with our delightful "almost 16" year old nephew . . . . .We'll even be here for his upcoming birthday celebration, which happens to be a few days after Thanksgiving!

My sister and brother-in-law were the gracious hosts for today's Thanksgiving dinner. (I dubbed my sister the "Turkey Queen", since she was the resident chef-in-charge of the cooking of the 20 pound bird that was served for dinner! )
AND, she's also the "master baker", and as such, responsible for the homemade pumpkin pie!

Our niece, who loves to cook, was in charge of turkey basting, as well as the mashed potatoes and preparation of the all-important GRAVY!

Here's hubby Lee, eagerly anticipating our dinnner, as he enjoyed a cup of coffee.

(But, I would be remiss if I didn't give him credit for preparing the most wonderful sausage-cornbread dressing to accompany our dinner! )

As for me (NOT pictured), I was dubbed the "Jello Queen" for this year's Thanksgiving dinner.

I prepared (with some celery and apple chopping help from my dear hubby) a really GREAT cranberry jello salad! (If you'd like the recipe, feel free to contact me . . . . teehee!)

All in all, a great dinner (and a great time) was had by all.

So for me, today, Wilbur Nesbit's sweet and wise words do indeed resonate. . . . . . And, I hope they do for you, as well.. . . . .

"Forever on Thanksgiving Day, the heart will find the pathway home."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I think that I shall never see . . . .

a poem lovely as a tree.

I've been working on Christmas cards again today. . . .and for some reason, my creative energy led me toward TREES.

Today is not the first time that this subject (trees) has dominated my creative efforts. After all, I LOVE trees! I can't imagine a view (either near OR distant) without trees.

So now, after a day of crafting with trees in mind, I thought I would dedicate my Blog post to . . . . . . . yes, you guessed it . . .TREES.

I'm a bit short of words myself at the moment (yes, I KNOW . . .that's hard to believe!)

Given that, let me respectfully post the words of the American poet Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918), from a poem that many of you will recoginize . . . . . .

"I think that I shall never see . . . . . a poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed

Against the sweet earth's flowing breast.

A tree that may in summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair.

Upon whose bosom snow has lain,

Who intimately lives with rain

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree. "

Well, as for me. . . .
I'm afraid that I can't compose a wonderful timeless poem, like Joyce Kilmer.

NOR can I create REAL trees . . . .

But, at the very least, I guess what I CAN do is:

LOVE Trees, and . . . . . BE INSPIRED by Trees.

(Some of these card photos posted are new, some older . . . .I guess my card creations have been inspired by trees for quite some time now!)


Thursday, November 20, 2008

What do PENGUINS and ELVES Have in Common?

Hmmmm.......FUNNY FEET, I think!

And, of course you wonder . . . Why in the world would that question even occur to me? . . . . . Well, I suppose because I've been spending a LOT of time the past couple of days LOOKING at penguins and elves (stickers, that is!)

This week I've been trying to get some serious (well, not THAT kind of serious!.....actually WHIMSICAL might be a better word) cardmaking done. I wanted to make sure I have some "inventory" up on Etsy before hubby Lee and I leave for Kansas early next week to spend Thanksgiving with my family.

Being a SLOW cardmaker, I've never been very good at getting a bunch of cards done at once . . . . . AND if the truth be known, I get really bored making more than one card of the same design.

But, since I was wanting to enhance the Christmas card selection in my Etsy Shop quickly, I decided that rather than to concentrate on my usual time-intensive style of cardmaking (e.g., paper piecing), I'd try something a little different and use some commercially purchased stickers.

I don't often use commercial stickers on my cards, but every now and then during my MANY trips to my local scrapbooking and craft stores, I find some commercial stickers that are SO cute, I can't resist buying them. I have a number of stickers like that, which had become almost a permanent part of my vast collection of papers and embellishments.

Nevertheless, THIS week I decided to put some of my stickers to use. . . . .and what I selected were .....You guessed it, PENGUINS and ELVES!

I guess I'm a pushover for whimsical characters, and these little guys just seemed to fit right into my Christmas Holiday theme of cardmaking. So, I'm just going to post some photos of the fruits of my cardmaking "labors" these past couple of days . . . . .

WELL, I suppose that PENGUINS and ELVES have a bit more in common that funny feet . . . . .After all, they both are pretty darn CUTE, aren't they?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Little Gift Tag that Could . . . . .

Once upon a time, in a land faraway, a little Gift Tag was born. Made from beautiful shimmery copper colored cardstock, and with a large bright glittery star on his face, this fresh new Gift Tag (We'll call him Little Tag) was SO happy to be! And he very much wanted to be able to “make a difference” in the world by adding a special touch to someone’s special gift on Christmas!

And so it was, that Little Tag was packaged up with several other Gift Tags, and they all took the long and rather arduous journey to America. At the end of their journey across the ocean, (around October) Little Tag and his other Gift Tag companions found themselves traveling even farther by land. Finally, they reached their destination.

Tired, but happy to be done traveling for a while, Little Tag and his fellow Gift Tags contentedly settled in to a lovely Christmas Holiday display inside a Novelty and Gift Shop. Nestled among other special holiday package adornments and Christmas decorations, Little Tag was anxiously looking forward to finding his way to that very special package for a very special someone at Christmastime and being able to brighten their holiday!

But, alas, although many people came through the store and glanced Little Tag''s way ( some even picked up the package he was in to get a closer look at him), no one purchased him and his fellow Gift Tags.

Christmas came and went. . . . and fewer and fewer people seemed to notice Little Tag and his companion Gift Tags. Little Tag was SO sad that he had not been able to personally brighten someone's holiday. And he wondered, “What ever will become of me?”

Soon after Christmas, Little Tag and the other Holiday gift tags, decorations and embellishments remaining in the store were jostled around a bit by the store personnel, their price tags adjusted, and then they were rearranged into an AFTER CHRISTMAS SALE display. And once again, it seemed like there was renewed activity with lots more people coming into the store and some even taking notice of Little Tag!

Then ONE DAY . . . . .A lady with long blonde hair came into the store, and walked right up to the After Christmas Sale Display. She seemed to take IMMEDIATE notice of Little Tag and the other Gift Tags. Not only did she pick up Little Tag's package and looked at him very carefully, but she actually took the package and several other Gift Tags and embellishments to the counter, bought them, and took them all home!

Little Tag was SO excited! FINALLY, he would have a chance to make a difference and add beauty and cheer to someone's life. He didn't know when or exactly how, but he was confident that it would happen.

Once home, the lady with the blonde hair carefully placed Little Tag in a comfy drawer alongside many other unique and beautiful Christmas and Holiday themed papers, tags and embellishments.

Time passed . . . . . . .

Although content and comfy in his little drawer, nestled among all the other beautiful Christmas and Holiday tags and embellishments, Little Tag wondered when the lady with the blonde hair would find a special task for him.

Then one day, toward the end of the next November, the lady opened Little Tag's drawer and pulled out the package with him and his fellow Gift Tags inside. And before he knew it, she had opened the package and taken Little Tag out! His time to make his contribution to the world had come.

Soon, Little Tag was lying out on the lady’s craft table, alongside some of the most beautiful papers he had ever seen! There was a heavyweight shimmery copper toned cardstock (wow, it looked like a near perfect match for the cardstock HE was made of!) . . . .with an equally beautiful shimmery cream color on the other side. And there was some beautiful textured Bazzill cardstock with a subtle sheen to it.

Little Tag also saw a wonderfully elegant looking envelope with a matching coppery outside and creamy inside color. There were gold tone metal brads shaped just like the glittery star on his face! And last but not least, he saw shiny gold tone metallic cord and fuzzy red fibers. What did this lady have in mind for him?

He watched (as much as he could from where he was lying on the table) and waited . . . .

Slowly but surely, the lady went to work amidst all her gathered supplies and embellishments . . . cutting and trimming the cardstock, folding and layering, punching holes and setting brads, and gluing, gluing, gluing! She was making a card!

First she folded a piece of the copper and cream cardstock into a card shape, and then decoratively edged the lower edge of the front flap with special scissors.

She cut out a text block, with the words, “Joy to the World”, chalk shaded the edges in a creamy color, and then mounted it to alternating layers of coppertone cardstock and creamy textured Bazzill. She added two shiny star-shaped brads to the text block before adhering it to the front of the card.

Then the lady tied dual lengths of goldtone coppertone cord and red eyelash fiber along the top of the card . . . “Hmmm, looking pretty nice so far,” Little Tag thought.

And then she cut out a rectangle of plain white acid-free cardstock, rounded the edges, and chalk shaded it also with a creamy yellow color. She glued the piece of white cardstock to the inside bottom of the card to provide room for a handwritten personal note.

And once again, Little Tag got a glimpse out of the corner of his eye, of the wonderfully elegant envelope in shades of copper and cream, that clearly was designed to fit this card-in-the-making like a glove!

Yikes! Bettter be paying attention!! Before he knew it . . Little Tag himself was now being glued to front of the card, and his tiny metallic string being tied to the cord/fiber along the top of the card.

“Wow! I’m no longer just a Gift Tag. . . .I’m a Christmas Holiday CARD, and very SPECIAL one at that!” Little Tag thought happily to himself.

As he finally began to relax from all the excitement, Little Tag allowed himself to enjoy the feel of the rich and smooth cardstock on his back, and noticed how perfectly the matching envelope fit his new card shape when the lady tried it on him.

“Life is good,” Little Tag thought to himself, knowing that the lady had helped him achieve his goal to make a difference in the world. Now all he had to do was wait . . . .he knew he would soon be able to help make someone’s Christmas Holiday even more special.

Little Tag now knew for sure that he was The Little Gift Tag that Could . . . . .become a Card.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Today . . .It's All About WHIMSY!

Now that I'm getting into the "Christmas Cardmaking Spirit", I'm trying to challenge myself to make at least one card a day. . . .

I know that may not sound like a very ambitious goal to some of you seasoned cardmakers out there, but given how SLOW I am with my cardmaking, and the fact that I'm usually flitting from one project to another here around the house, one card a day is sometimes about all I can manage.

Today's card is all about WHIMSY, and features a sweet little handcut and paper pieced reindeer. I developed the pattern for this deer a couple of years ago, starting with a purchased embossing template and then making a few modifications to the design and adding my own facial features and pen detailing.

As I was looking through my supply of Christmas and Holiday themed papers and embellishments yesterday, I found this little reindeer that I'd almost finished from last year, so I decided to make him/her into a card once again for this year. I just finished the card today.

I've done several handmade cards using this little reindeer, but each one, of course, ends up being slightly different, depending on the particular combination of cardstocks I use, and how I decide to further embellish the deer.

For this rendition, I used a lovely Christmas-themed patterned paper, with the words "Just Believe" printed in various fonts in red, blue, and white, on a shadowy moss-green background. Pulling from the colors in the patterned paper, I used my favorite textured Bazzill cardstock in white and a pale shade of blue.

To add some uniqueness to this particular reindeer, I threaded two tiny red star-shaped buttons through very narrow gauge goldtone wire, hand twisted it into several spirals, and attached it to the reindeer's antlers.

Outside text is computer generated and printed in red on plain white acid-free cardstock.

And for a little more pizazz, I embellished the card with several small round gone tone brads.

This is a 5" X 7" card, and like all my cards, fully lined with an additional layer of plain white lightweight acid-free cardstock, so there's plenty of room for the giver to write their own personal note.

I guess I tend to favor this size card (rather than the smaller "invitation" size card), because I do so much paper piecing and this size allows me more room to fit my designs.

I hope to be featuring a few more of my new card designs in my Blog posts over the next few days . . . .and hope I won't be boring you to tears with these blog entries! My life right now is a little boring, and I really don't have much more to post about except my cardmaking.

But come a week from tomorrow, Lee and I will be enroute to the United States "heartland" (Kansas), to spend some time with my mother and sister over Thanksgiving. So, I'm hoping to be able to post some travel pics around that time and share some photos from the homeland of my youth!

Until we meet again . . . . .may you find and embrace Whimsy wherever you can.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My FIRST CHRISTMAS CARD for the season!

Well, I'm afraid I'm a bit late, compared to many of my cardmaking colleagues, in getting my FIRST Christmas card of the season done, but at any rate, here it is!

The evolution of this card is a case, for me, where the patterned paper provided the inspiration for the card design.

When I saw this lovely paper in Roberts Crafts last week, it practically "yelled" out to me, "Oh pleeeezzzeee.....Make me into a Christmas card!"

With the pale blue background and the feathery-like snow covered trees and falling snow design, this patterned paper seemed a perfect start for a handmade Christmas/Holiday-themed card.

So I snatched up several 12" X 12" sheets (you can never have enough scrapbook paper, you know!) and set about finding a shade of blue textured Bazzill that would coordinate with it. I knew that I would be using white Bazzill too, but I always have some of that on hand.

What I had initially hoped to do was to develop a paper-pieced tree design to match the trees in the paper, but alas, that wasn't to be!

I tried time and time again to come up with something that looked like the feathery upswept branched trees in the paper, but hours later, after countless discarded attempts at a pattern, I decided that the design was a bit TOO complex for a paper piecing, at least for me! (Not to mention that none of my most loyal card buyers would want to pay what I'd be asking for a handcut, paper pieced tree design with a hundred or so pieces!)

So, I settled on the idea of making a simpler paper pieced tree design, cut from white textured Bazzill. Even THAT took me some time, given the fact that I'm really NOT an artist, and drawing is an effort for me!

But, I'm nothing, if not perseverant, so I did manage to come up with a reasonable pattern that (I think) looks like a snow-covered tree and at least coordinates with the underlying patterned paper.

The final paper pieced tree consists of two pieces and I have outlined the edges of each with crystal "Stickles" to add some pizazz to the simple design. I glued the tree to the underlying paper with strategically placed glue dots, allowing the edges of the tree to curl up a bit for a slightly 3-D effect.

For the outside message on this card, I used my color printer to print out "Merry Christmas" in blue on plain white cardstock, then chalk shaded the edges in light blue.

I mounted the text block first on a layer of the newly purchased blue Bazzill, and then on a layer of white Bazzill, which I also edged with crystal Stickles.

SO, here is yet another story of how one of my cards came to be. And now that this one, my first Christmas/Holiday card this year, is done, I think I'm finally beginning to feel a hint of the Christmas Cardmaking Spirit!

Until we meet again . . . . . .I wish you gentle times, just like falling snow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

POLL Results are IN! . . .What Style/s of Handmade Christmas/Holiday Cards Do You Prefer?

For a couple of weeks, I had a POLL up on my Blog, entitled: "What Style/s of Handmade Christmas/Holiday Cards Do You Prefer?" And late last evening, this poll officially ended, so the final POLL RESULTS are IN!

The poll was structured in such a way that respondents could mark as many of the 13 multiple choice options as they wanted. There were a total of 40 people who responded to my POLL (Thank you one and all!).

I'm pleased to summarize the results here, ranked by number of votes (thus, by presumed popularity):

1. SIMPLE AND ELEGANT received the most "votes". Of the 40 respondents, 45% (18) marked this as one of their preferred styles.

2. WHIMSICAL was a fairly close second, with 15 (37%) of the 40 respondents selecting this style.

3. VINTAGE Style received the third highest number of votes (9 of 40 voters, or 22%).

From that point on, the preferred styles of handmade Christmas/Holiday cards ranked as follows:

4. RELIGIOUS and NATURE THEMED were tied, with 8 of 40 voters, or 20%, voting for each of these styles.

5. JUST PLAIN FUNNY was next, with 7 of 40 voters (17%) selecting this style.

6. ANIMAL OR PET THEMED ranked 6th, selected by 15% of the voters (6 of 40).

7. PAPER PIECED FIGURES or DESIGNS received 5 votes, with 12% of the 40 voters selecting this style of handmade card.

8. FANCY AND ELEGANT, COLLAGE, and RUBBER STAMPED IMAGES card styles each received 4 votes (with 10% of the total 40 voters selecting each of these styles).

9. INSPIRATIONAL card style received 3 votes (7% of voters).

10. OTHER (unspecified) handmade card style received 1 vote (2% of the total voters).

SO, there you have it!

I'm pleased with the level of participation in this, my very first Blog POLL, and I want to thank all of you who took the time to cast your vote and share your preferences!

From my own perspective as a designer of handmade cards, I intend to make good use of the information gleaned from this poll.

And I hope that all of you who read this . . . . .whether you be card makers or fellow card and art lovers, will also find these POLL RESULTS interesting!

Until we meet again . . . . .I think I'm going to be busy designing some new Christmas/Holiday cards!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Practice Makes Perfect! (or DOES it??)

Shortly after I got up this morning, I decided that today was THE DAY I was going to try my hand at making a custom envelope for one of my odd-sized handmade cards.

So, I pulled out the envelope pattern that I'd developed on graph paper a while back, designed to fit a 5" X 5" square card.

I have two handmade cards this size, and since I haven't been able to find envelopes to fit them, I thought I'd make my own.

Little did I know what an ambitious project this would end up being, for ME at least!

I quickly realized that the envelope pattern I had developed would not fit on a standard 8.5" X 11" sheet of paper, so I would have to use one of my more expensive 12" X 12" sheets of paper.

I went through my stash of patterned papers and found a pattern and color that I thought would coordinate with the handmade card/s for which I was creating an envelope.

Then I laid the graph paper pattern on the white (back) side of the patterned paper, drew around it, and hand cut the envelope shape out.

I actually had to cut out the envelope shape twice (wasting an entire sheet of 12" X 12" paper!), since I made the mistake the first time around, of trying to fold the envelope freehand, and ended up with a totally misshapen envelope that didn't fit the card!

So, with the second envelope cutout, I laid the card inside to use as a template for making the card folds.

Then, I carefully made the folds, gently at first, so as not to make creases until I was pretty sure there was a proper fit.

Of course, it seems like NOTHING turns out perfectly the first (or second, or ??? time), much to my perfectionistic dismay!

And I ended up with some extra bulk at the outer corners of the envelope flap. Luckily I was able to carefully trim some of the excess layers of folded paper away with my tiny little detail scissors!

Here is the back side of the completed envelope, glued together with tiny scrapbook adhesive squares.

And here is the outside of the flap.

You wouldn't know (I hope!) that I also covered up some folding "mistakes" along the top of the flap with the narrow strip of coordinating patterned paper.. . . . .I wasn't about to sacrifice this envelope after all this work!

And here's the completed card, that began this frenzy of crafting activity today!

The card is approximately 5" X 5" square . . . I'm sure it didn't start out being that size, and I can't exactly remember how it kept getting smaller and smaller. . . .but one of my mottos is "waste not, want not". So I was determined to make this little card a work of art!

Some of you who have been following my Blog for a while, might just recognize this paper pieced tulip from one of my posts a while back. When Lee and I were in Sedona on vacation several months ago, I spent my quiet time during the evenings making paper pieced tulips. Now, I'm FINALLY getting around to developing them into some card projects!

I've added some Stickles to this tulip for a little sparkle, and handcut a stem and leaves from textured green Bazzill cardstock.

The card is fully lined with a layer of lightweight white cardstock, and I'm hoping that someone will find it perfect for a spur-of-the-moment note or other occasion.

So here I am today . . . having just spent literally HOURS working on a handmade envelope to fit an odd sized card that I can't even quite recall how it came to be.

But, I guess it was worth it. After all, I still have at least one more card that needs a custom envelope, and Practice Makes Perfect! (or DOES it?)

What do YOU think?

Until we meet again . . . . . . may you find all your creative endeavors to be worthwhile.