Sunday, November 25, 2012

Turning 50!

It's here! My special day!  
November 25, 2012
I can hardly believe it!  But it is true!
I have reached the half-century milestone!!

Here are some thoughts about this point in my life.  Nothing too deep, just some thoughts!

I remember when I used to think “50” was old.  

I think it was just last week!! LOL!!

So now I am here!  

However, I still feel so young!  

And I feel like I have sooooooo much left to do in life!  

My kids don’t require the constant one-on-one attention I used to give them.  But they like it when I give them my attention, and I love being with them!  My husband and I are very independent.  But we both love spending time together doing even mundane things like watching TV or shopping for household needs.  I find that I seem to have lots of “me-time” now, and I do love that as well.  I spend  a lot of that “me-time” crafting, mostly making gifts for others.  

I truly love living my life! 

I would not mind having a job that took me around the world teaching people how to craft, and then when not travelling, being home creating the stuff!  But I already have such a fulfilling job at church, that crafting on the side is just what I choose to do with some of my "me-time." 

I did use to dream about one day, opening my own brick and mortar shop.  I guess a part of me still dreams that dream.  But it's not as realistic as the possibility of travelling around the world teaching craft classes.  In fact, the travelling part of my dream sort of came through the weekend of Nov. 1st to Nov. 3rd, 2012.  That was the weekend I traveled to Stamford, CT, to help the Creating Keepsakes team, teach for their University.  They had people pay $295 a piece to attend many classes in which they created mini-albums and layouts and tried a variety of new techniques. 

I arrived at 11 am on Thursday, 11/01/12, and was asked to help with one of the “a la carte” classes that afternoon.  I enjoyed helping Nicole Harper teach her very complex Summer Fresh album, using Simple Stories Summer 2012 kit.  That was from 11 am till about 12:30.  We had lunch, then from 3 pm till just about 6 pm, I helped with the group album experience — all the stars were there for that, including Vicki Boutin, Mou Saha  (Creating Keepsakes Dream Team member), Megan Hoeppner  (Creating Keepsakes Creative Editor), Nicole Harper  (Creating Keepsakes Dream Team member), Angie Magnuson  (Unity Stamp Co. teacher), Annette Hardy  (Creating Keepsakes teacher), and Jen Gallacher  (Echo Park teacher).  The ladies all made another super cute mini-album that required a lot of different techniques using paper folding, cutting, and some stamping.  It was held in a huge room with all 150 participants there at one time.  All of us were walking around helping the ladies do their books, while one of the “superstars” each took turns giving directions for several pages.

After that session was done, I was told that I was free to go enjoy my evening.  So I went to the mall across from the hotel and walked around a bit looking at the stores, then got my meal and ate there, while reading my newest CK magazine.  I was exhausted from the early morning commute there, which took about 3.5 hours, and then being on my feet all afternoon.  I then went back to my room and was prepared for a night of cropping (I was making a small mini-album using the Prima Notebook paper line) but I was too tired to sit and work on it.  I climbed into bed, and fell asleep almost immediately.  It was a KING size bed, with SIX pillows.  I loved it!!!

For the rest of the weekend, I was teamed up with one of my favorite scrappers, Mou Saha.  I assisted her as she taught 7 mixed media classes between Friday and Saturday, to 150 participants with all levels of expertise.  It was a wonderful experience.  
 And I appreciated getting to meet so many “superstars” and being behind the scenes with them. 

Back to me at 50:  I still love working with my kiddos in church.  They bring such joy to me and make my heart sing.  I also love the days when I can feel the creative juices flowing all through me and my art.  And crafting gives me an outlet and allows me to get total fulfillment when I “make pretty stuff.”  It allows me to shine my light in ways that others can appreciate.  And of course, I love spending time with my husband, kids, extended family, and my dear friends!  

Overall, at 50, I am blessed to have a lot of life and energy and such an amazing and loving family and group of friends. 

A few have told me that I am now on the downhill side of life.  Still a lot of scenery here, but definitely coasting down, rather than chugging uphill.  

I believe that’s actually not a bad thing. 

Many years ago, my family and I drove up the Mount Washington in New Hampshire.  I can't remember how high that mountain was, but I remember it was a tough drive up in the middle of summer.  The road was narrow and very curvy and there were no guardrails, and it was terribly difficult on the car and on us emotionally.  When we got to the summit, it was foggy and cold, almost snowing up there!  We welcomed the short respite, but were rather frazzled to enjoy the victory much.  And frankly, we just wanted to get back to ground level.  There wasn't must to do up there!  The ride back down was much easier and as we got closer to the valley, leaves started appearing on the trees again and the road seemed to widen and we all collectively breathed so much deeper!  

Now at 50, I can relate to that journey.  Maybe the "hard" part of my life is over and I can just further enjoy this part of my life's journey!!  It hasn't been that hard really. So I should just coast from now on, right?  

I think will look at the coming days with that perspective! 
Why not, right? 
Why not look at life on the bright side and enjoy it? 
I will, to its fullest. 

Because, after all, at the end of my days, I want to look back and see that I lived a full life!!!  I just pray that I have a whole LOT of days left because I have so much that I want to live!!!  And I know that with my faith, I can face what comes in the next 50 years.  I am so blessed and will always give glory to God for all He's given me!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

From This to That!

Do you ever get so excited about a project that you jump right into it and then have "crafters regret?"  I just did this week!

I found a wonderful tutorial from an amazing artist, that showed how to make a cute, little mini album, posted by Paula at!  It is made using sticky back canvas! I absolutely fell in love with it and decided to try my hand at it with a few modifications!

First of all, though I love her blue colors, I will be making this album for me, to document my 50th year of life starting on Sunday November 25th, and so I HAD to make it using my favorite color:  ORANGE!!!

Modification #2:  I do not (yet) own the Sizzix Tim Holtz Alterations pocket die, so I had to use another one that I do own, and that one makes library cards, so I decided that I would use them as folders.

Modification #3:  I wanted to make enough folders for all 12 months of my new year of life!  I love pockets and I wanted a place to put all my ephemera until I could write about it or collage it!  Paula used 5 inserts and sewed them into her canvas covers.

With the 12 pockets I intended to make for my book, I quickly discovered that Paula's mini was too mini for me.  So I decided to make mine totally different!!!  I made my covers 4 1/4 by 5 1/2 inches so I could cut my 8 1/2 by 11 sticky back right down the middle on the 11 inch side. I now had two 4 1/4 X 11 inch pieces and I cut those in half ending up with a total of four 4 1/4 by 5 1/2 pieces of canvas.

Modification #4:  I took out my stains, of which I only have four, and not in the colors that Paula used, and my Dylusions inks and proceeded to squirt my craft mat, following Paula's instructions.  Well that left a lot of white on my canvas, maybe because I didn't squirt enough stain or ink.  I decided to just spray the canvas directly and found that my bright orange/yellows/ and reds were perfect for me, and forget the blue!

I made a cute little bookplate and added some teal ribbon and some eyelets for my cover and look how cute it turned out:

The bookplate is a Teresa Collins one that I inked with blue alcohol ink and gold patina acrylic paint, and it turned out the perfect shade of teal!  The inside reads "Everyday Moments" and is a piece of cardboard packaging that I cut off of the buttons enclosed in my newest Teresa Collins Everyday Moments kit.  I sewed around the canvas as Paula instructs in her tutorial.  I loved, loved, loved how it turned out!!!!!

Until the following morning!!!

That was when I inserted my papers and calendars and discovered that the front and back covers were too floppy!  The canvas is too thin to support all that I planned to put inside, and since I made my binding with holes for the binding rings, instead of sewing the pages into the book like Paula did, it just was not going to work for me at all!!!!  I did not want to sew my book because it would severely limit me if I'd ever want to add more pages throughout the year!  And I plan to live a full life, so I am SURE there will be a lot of pages added throughout the year.  My pages combined so far are already one half in thick!!!  I haven't even started writing on them yet, or adding my photos or other embellishments!!!!

Therefore, for a whole day after completing the book, I had Crafters Regret!!!!

I hate that!!!!   I knew I could not live with it!!!!

On the second day, I awoke with a brainstorm!!!!

Why not start the covers over again, this time, with book boards that would give my book some more sturdiness.  It would take a lot of work to re-do the covers, plus use more ink and sticky back canvas (which I can't find in Newark--I got mine pack of 5 sheets on my last trip to The Queen's Ink in Savage, MD in October).

But I decided it had to be done!!!

This is the end result of my new cover, which I officially finished this morning at 1 am!!!!

I am thrilled with it!!!

I took me about 8 hours to complete, but I love it it so much more!

Step-by-step guide of how I totally revamped my original piece and created my new Everyday Moments Journal:

1)  I started by finding two book boards, which were very sturdy.  These are thicker than regular cardstock.  Don't know where I got these.  I think they came as packaging with something I ordered a long time ago.  Thank God I am a hoarder!!!  And I knew just where I had these, just waiting for the perfect project.  They measure 4 1/2 X 6 1/2, so they are actually a little bigger than my original covers.  I like this size much better because now I will be able to use tons of pages from my 6X6 pads of patterned papers, and just cut them down to 4 1/2 X 6.  If I wanted to put a standard pic on the page, I now can easily since most standard prints are 4X6.

2)  I placed each of the covers on a 8 1/2 X 5 1/2 piece of sticky back canvas and wrapped the extra canvas around the book covers.

3)  I before I finished the wrapping, I remembered to round the corners using the 1/4 side of my Corner Chomper.  That tool cut through my heavy-duty card board like butter!!!  So did the Crop-A-Dile I used to punch out my binder ring holes!  I wanted the hole punched out before adhering the cover in case the canvas was going to be hard to get through with the Crop-A-Dile.  It worked fine that way! Here is what the book covers look like before making the hole for the rings:

Here is what the covers look like after the holes were made:

4)  Now comes the fun part:  I wanted to ink my canvas with the same vibrant colors as on the first project, with the addition of teal.  I knew that if I used the blue, it would blend just right with the oranges and yellows. I also wanted a bright fushia, but that ended up blending also and it just made another shade of orange.  That ultimately was fine with me, because orange is the happiest color on earth!!!!

5)  At this point in the evening, it was about 10:30 pm, and I frankly got so messy with paint on my hands, that I didn't want to touch my camera.  My sink is upstairs so I decided to apply all my paints before heading up to wash my palettes, brushes, stencils and hands.

Here are two pics of the front and back covers of my new journal.

6)  I used a variety of acrylic paints on top of my Crafters Workshop stencils (chicken wire and bird cage).  The brick stencil is a Wendi Vecchi one that I just love.  The stars stencil is from Dyan Reavely.  I put the paint on very thick with some coarse texture multi medium, so that it would give the cover not only texture, but also a more 3-D effect.  It worked perfectly.  After everything was dry, I went back and outlined the cover with my Scarlet Lime black pen from Christy Tomlinson.  I will do the back too, but by the time I finished, I was very sleepy!  It was almost 1 am!

7)  Here is a view of some of my pages.  I worked on cutting these and assembling them while the covers dried (every time I inked or used a stencil with paint, the covers had to dry before I could continue with the next layer of stenciling or painting).

This page has an opening at the top and the tab that has the flower and the word DREAM, is only adhered on the right and bottom edge, so it also serves as a pocket.  I have already journaled about my big Creating Keepsakes University Teaching Assistant job earlier this month, but I wanted to keep that journaling private, so I will print out the two page document and fold it and insert it into this orange DREAM pocket.  I will attach the ephemera from my trip, to the front of the page.

The page below is really cute, from the My Mind's Eye Miss Caroline collection.  There is a saying at the bottom that reads, "start each day with a smile."  The lady in green is cut from a Crate Paper paper of various tags.

Here are some more pages I completed using paper lines from those listed above as well as Basic Grey, Websters pages, and Teresa Collins Everyday Moments.

Here is one of the blank calendar pages from Heidi Swapp--I bought a kit from her for yet another project ( a memory display stand) and she had the calendar pages as a free download.  They are gorgeous.  Here's the link to her blog:  I used a Stampendous Calendar set to stamp the months on all 12 sheets.  And, obviously, I have yet to complete this page with the days of the weeks and my details!

I have greatly enjoyed sharing this guide with you and hope that you get inspired to Shine Your Light in your own projects and then come share them with me!

I am off to Shine my Light through a new project for our family's Thanksgiving feast in 2 days.  I hope to share that soon!

Till then, blessings galore to you and your family!  May God's abundance flow to you and may you always remember to give thanks to the Giver of good things!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankfulness in Color!

The weekend of November 1, 2012 through November 3, 2012 will be cherished forever:  this was the weekend I decided to give of my time, expenses, and expertise to volunteer as a Teaching Assistant at Creating Keepsakes University in Stamford, CT.  It was held just days after a freak Hurricane hit the East Coast, and though the storm caused no harm to my home, it sure did a lot of damage to many folks in NJ and NY.  On Thursday morning, as I left my house for the 3-4 hour drive to my teaching gig, I passed numerous long lines of cars, trying to get gas at every rest stop from Elizabeth, NJ all the way up to the NY state border.  It didn't even occur to me that I might not be able to get gas for myself upon my return trip.  (I am happy to report that I ultimately made the entire trip on one tank of gas!)

There are numerous different things that I gathered from that weekend, many of which include expressions of thanksgiving!!!  I will save that for a later blog because right now, I want to focus on one direct outcome from that weekend:

On the heels of that Teaching Assistant gig with Creating Keepsakes, I decided to keep the creative juices flowing the following weekend, by inviting my BFF to come "art" with me.  What began as a "come-over-for-a-couple-of-hours-of-arting" day, quickly turned into a 12-hour crafting marathon!  I’m used to this kind of mad-crafting event, but Robin is not, so I thank God that she pushed through and managed to finish her canvas that very day. I wanted her to walk away with a finished work of art and she did!

We each started with a blank canvas, a 12X12 flat board.  I like those for experimenting on techniques and just having some creative fun.  I have yet to find the best way to display them when all is set and done, but that’s also a topic for another day…..maybe! 
This was only the second time that I presented the topic of “mixed media” to Robin, so she graciously accepted my invitation, with only a small amount of trepidation.  The first time, a few months ago, she created a canvas piece that she just didn't like at all and she dreaded the thought of being frustrated in that way again!  Now, please know that she is an outstanding scrapbooker!  In fact, she is the one that introduced me to the creative possibilities of memory keeping.  But her style is very different from mine.  I classify her as a as classic scrapbooker, who enjoys her layouts presented in a formal, simple, clean and symmetrical format.  She favors the pastel pallet, and her stories always convey a crisp, concise message on every page.  

My style has emerged over the years into shabby chic, incorporating many sorts of media (acrylics, modeling paste, gelatos, big brush pens, watercolors, inks, stains, canvas, burlap, twine, stencils and masks, and of course, assorted papers—just to name a few).  So mixed media art is a natural venue for me.  I find that I now apply mixed media principles to all my scrapbooking, card making, and home d├ęcor. 

For our marathon crafting day, I gave a blank canvas to Robin, along with the assignment to “make something pretty.”   Blank canvases can be daunting, even for the most experienced artist!  So I find it useful to always start with a sketch.  Here’s the sketch I came up with for Robin.  It was quickly drawn on a scratch piece of paper in about 30 seconds. 

I envisioned a very elegant piece for her, with the use of doilies and light pastels paints and inks and a variety of vintage-themed embellishments.  Much to her delight, this mixed media arting extravaganza turned out exactly that way for Robin.  Here is her masterpiece:

At the start of the marathon, I had visions of a whimsical piece for myself, in warm colors, that would have stars and a Shine theme.  But the more I started playing with my art mediums, I quickly discovered that Robin's sketch was exactly what I wanted to create also!  My style is much more informal, and my color pallet is bold colors, so I knew that even though we would both be creating art using the same sketch, both pieces would turn out very different!

I began my project by taking Robin's old canvas and covering it with white embossed paper.  I love the texture that the paper adds to the flat canvas, especially since I placed it on top of previously textured canvas.  
You can see here the painted canvas in the process of being covered. 

And here is my newly covered canvas, all white!  This is usually unheard of, in my world!  But I wanted to start with a white background to showcase the conversion to bright color that I knew would happen! 

And happen, it did!!!

I began by adding some acrylic paints to the background in yellows and orange.  I also added splashes of blue and green gelatos and made some of the colors run, by squirting water on them.  Gelatos are so fun to play with!  I feel like a little kid, coloring with my set of crayons!  

The rest of the day was spent adding doilies in various paper patterns, bird cage die cuts out of burlap, bird out of canvas, and paper flowers using various dies.  My life's  motto is Shine Your Light (taken from Matthew 5:16 - shine your light before men, that they may see your good works and praise your Father in heaven) and so I placed that on the label at the top.  

I outlined the letters using my Faber Castell pitt pen.

Since I have so much to be thankful for, I had to include a Teresa Collins journaling tag that reads "Live with Gratitude."  I do . . . . every single day!   

One last photo to show a close up of some of my hand made flowers and the beautiful lace that I placed around my paper doily.  I also added a hand made pocket with a tag.  The fibers at the top of the tag are made using twined that I tinted with brown Distress Stain.  

Interestingly, the white doily is made out of a coffee filter that I embossed and then cut out using a Fiskars round doily punch.  I love that thing!  

Robin and I made our paper doilies by cutting a 6 inch circle out of patterned paper, and then putting the circle in the Fiskars punch--it makes 4 inch and 6 inch doilies--my favorite sizes!

This was a very fun day for me, filled with lots of episodes of "happy hands" and lots of chit chatting about life and such with my BFF!  I look forward to the next time we get to spend the day arting!  

Thanks for joining me today and I hope you also let Your Light Shine in all you do today!