Friday, March 31, 2017

March 2017 in Books

The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt - nonfiction - 5 stars - This book had me hooked right from the beginning.  It's kind of a fascinating look at how outside influences shape a person.  It follows the life of Theo Decker whose mother is killed in an act of terrorism.  He survives, but makes a decision that affects his life to come.  He's taken in by a friend's family, then his estranged father, then a benefactor, his choice in friends radically shapes his life.  He struggles with good and bad, right and wrong.  Sometimes I sympathized with him, often I didn't, but I was really drawn into this book.  It's very long, but I think worth it.

The Land of Silver Apples - Nancy Farmer - juvenile fiction- 5 stars - The sequel to one of Ellie's Battle Books from last semester (Sea of Trolls), this follows Jack on another adventure as he goes to rescue his sister Lucy from the Lady in the Lake.  I really love how Farmer blends Nordic and British mythology in this series.

Mattimeo - Brian Jacques - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - Another of the Redwall books.  I especially enjoyed this one since it has many of the same characters as the original Redwall book, but the focus is on Matthias' son Mattimeo.  It was lovely to revisit some much loved characters.

The Islands of the Blessed - Nancy Farmer - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - The final book in the Sea of Trolls trilogy, and just as good as the other two.  It's a great conclusion to the series, although somewhat bittersweet.  Jack and Thorgill are still young, I would love to learn more about what happens to them later in life, I feel like there is so much more that could be written about these characters.  

Salamandastron - Brian Jacques - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - Another Redwall book, this one more focused on the badgers at Salamandastron, although certainly Redwall figures in as well.  This is another series I'd recommend for boys in the 5-6th grade range.

Lowji Discovers America - Candace Fleming - juvenile fiction - 5 stars - One of Ellie's Battle Books.  It's the story of an Indian boy whose parents emigrate to the U.S. and how he adjusts and makes friends.  I loved what a positive attitude he had, if you have a kid who is often more glass half empty than half full, this is a really great perspective.

All the Answers - Kate Messner - juvenile fiction - 4 stars - Another of Ellie's Battle Books.  It was a cute story about a girl who finds a pencil that answers her questions.  She uses it to help with some school work, but also ends up finding out the answers to some more difficult questions.  There are good lessons here about self-control, how much knowledge is too much, friendship, etc.  

Dark Matter - Blake Crouch - science fiction - 5 stars - This was a recommendation from Stephanie Howell, whose blog I follow.  I don't read a ton of science fiction, but this was a really cool story.  Totally engrossing, and it really makes your mind think differently.  I read it in a day.  So good.

The Magnolia Story - Chip and Joanna Gaines - biography - 5 stars - My MIL gave this to me as an early birthday present when she and my FIL came up to watch the kids while I was on travel.  We love their show and their personalities, so it was fun to read about how they met and grew their business.  It was funny because when I unwrapped the book, Carina immediately shouted "Chip and Jo!" and Ellie has since co-opted the book and is reading through it herself.

Truly Madly Guilty - Liane Moriarty - fiction - 4 stars - I always enjoy Liane Moriarty's books.  They come together so expertly.  The story here centers around an accident at a barbecue where a little girl almost drowns and how it affects each of the individuals at the barbecue.  I gave it four stars because it really took me a while to get into it, but by about halfway through the book I was hooked.  I really love how she ties up all the loose ends and brings the story to a satisfying conclusion.

Once We Were Sisters:  A Memoir - Sheila Kohler - biography - 3 stars - I've decided that maybe I don't like memoirs.  Written by a woman who lost her sister to a car accident she believes was a calculated homicide by her abusive husband.  The life of this woman is quite fascinating, but the format of the book, hopping back and forth in time, little snippets here, and there, to me is not as effective as a chronological version of events.  

The Rent Collector - Camron Wright - fiction - 5 stars - About a woman, Sang Ly, who lives in a dump in Cambodia. She learns that the rent collector, Sopeap Sin, who is not a nice person, can read and convinces her to teach her to read.  As Sang Ly learns to read and her mind grows from the study of literature, she and Sopeap develop a friendship and Sang Ly learns how it is that Sopeap came to live in the dump in the first place.  Last month I read Wright's book, The Orphan Keeper, and this one was just as good.  It was an amazing story of loss, sacrifice, redemption, and hope.

What's next?  Well I'm currently reading We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter, and on my bedside table are The Nazi Officer's Wife, Swiimming Across, and the next Redwall book.  What are you reading?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Craftsy Class Giveaway

So Facebook reminded me (yesterday) that my Craftsy class, Fresh Eyes on Your Cardmaking Supplies, has been out for a full year now.

Creating/filming that class has been one of the highlights of my crafty 'career', and to celebrate I thought it would be fun to give away a spot in class.

To enter to win, just leave me a comment.

You can win some extra entries by:
1) Following me here on the blog
2) Sharing this giveaway on Facebook
3) Following me on IG (@mprantner)
4) Sharing the giveaway on IG (you can just repost my IG post about the giveaway)

Leave another comment for each extra entry.

I'll choose a winner next Monday, good luck!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hugs and Happy Thoughts

I had to go out of town for work last week, and when I do I always take a little something to work on.  This time, before I left I stamped some of the leaves from my all time favorite Altenew stamp set, Beautiful Day on a card panel, and brought along my stitching supplies.

I stamped just the outline images and the highlights (using Evergreen and Forest Glades ink).  The outline images aren't a full outline, there's some variation, and I thought they would be perfect for stitching.  Note this is the same leaf image that is repeated throughout, but the stitching is a little different from image to image, which makes it that much more unique and special.

I used two strands of DMC floss for this.

When I got home, I trimmed the panel down, added a sentiment (also from the Beautiful Day set), rounded the corner for a bit of extra interest, and mounted it to my card base with foam tape.

Thanks so much for stopping by, hope your week is going well!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Blog Name Hero Hop

Hey guys, I've got a card over on the Neat & Tangled blog as part of the A Blog Named Hero Fifth Anniversary Celebration Hop.  There are all sorts of great hop prizes, so head on over there to see the full up card.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sketchy Medallion

I pulled our my Flower Medallion Builder set over the weekend to play.  This is one of those sets that is just fun to experiment with.  After creating a pattern, I thought it would be fun to add some doodling.  It adds a graphic punch and gives your images a totally different look.  This is also a great technique for when you did a not so great job stamping.  My stamping was actually not that bad here, but when you have images that might not have stamped well, doodling really masks/hides that.

Anyway, after adding the doodling, which I really did quickly and without much care, I trimmed down my panel and fussy cut a bit along the bottom to create some interest.

This was mounted over some black cardstock which gives a great visual impact, and then I embossed the sentiment on he black.

I added a black enamel accent to the center of the panel and that was that.  Really easy.  Have you ever tried doodling on your cards?  I highly recommend it!

*Affiliate Links Below

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Million Thanks

I recently picked up this set from The Ton.  I have a soft spot for peonies, and I have more than a few peony sets.  I'm not like the crazy cat and coffee stamp people, but I definitely have my fair share of peonies.

Anyway, I was in the mood to watercolor, and chose the no-line version.  This was harder to color (and took longer) than I anticipated.  It turned out OK, but I think next time I'll watercolor with embossing or try Copics.

The flowers are so pretty that I decided to keep the rest of the card very simple.  A sentiment from the same set and mat.  

Thanks for stopping by!

*Affiliate Links Below

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Love You the Mostest

This might be a new record.  I ordered some new stamps and I used them within two weeks of purchasing them.  This almost never happens, but really, this llama is just so cute and I needed to stamp him!

The nice thing about llamas is that some of them are white, so there is very minimal coloring if you go with a white llama.  In this case I really just added a bit of shadow and that was it.

For the background panel I watercolored using Dylusion Ink Sprays.  Using the Ink Sprays is a really quick and easy way to watercolor a background and the colors are so rich and vibrant.

The sentiment is from my favorite PS sentiment set, Uplifters.

That's all for me today!  Hope your week is going well!

*Affiliate Links Below

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Using up the Stash, almost no stamping

I'm back with another card that explores the depths of my crafty over abundance.

Sometimes making these cards makes me sad, like today's card.  It features a piece of ephemera from October Afternoon, oh how I miss OA, I really loved their designs.

This piece is from the Farmer's Market collection (I'm pretty sure), and it's probably not an image I'd use on a layout, but I really love the vintage look and feel, and I think it stands on it's own pretty well.
I did add a stamped sentiment (from my Maple Leaves Journaling Card set for Neat & Tangled).  Rather than using a regular mat to frame it, I'm using another stash item, a library card pocket from Studio Calico.  I like the extra texture the stitching on the pocket added.  I did insert a second mat into the pocket to set off the top of the ephemera piece and to highlight that the pocket has an angle to it.

The woodgrain patterned paper is from a MME 6x6 pad.

Super quick and easy.  When was the last time you delved into the depths of your stash?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Love You to the Core

Today I'm pulling out another of those products I just HAD to have and then ignored for a year.

This time it's this paper layering die from Hero Arts.

This is such a cool product line, it's one of those things I wish I had come up with.

I kept this pretty simple.  After running the die through my Big Shot, I added some very soft/light inking with a sponge dauber and Distress Inks.

Then I colored the pineapple parts using Copics (I used three shades of Copics for each of the sections).  To prevent myself from coloring outside the lines, or the die cut parts as it were, I used a scrap piece of paper that I slid behind the part I was coloring at the time.

The sentiment is from a pineapple themed set from Ellen Hutson.

I mounted the die cut piece on some black cardstock, but before doing so I popped up and kind of curled the die cut pieces with my fingers.

This is such a cool die, and you get such great dimension.  I'm so glad I finally put it to use!

*Affiliate Links Below

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Boss

I colored this cute little girl from Avery Elle (illustrated by my buddy JJ Bolton).  She is so cute, isn't she?  I love her expression!

I pulled out my Studio Calico journaling cards to find a good backdrop for her and as soon as I saw this one I was sold, perfect, right?

I chose a simple black and white print (I did ink the edges just to give it a bit more definition), added a colored mat to set the journaling card apart a bit and then put it all together.

This one makes me smile every time I look at it.  I can think of at least a half a dozen people who it's perfect for....apparently I know a lot of bosses.  ;)

Have a great day!  We're keeping our fingers crossed for a snow day and some sledding....