Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Us


Hi friends!  It's been quiet here on the blog lately.  We've got a lot going on at home in terms of the kids school/sports schedules, so crafting time has been hard to find, but I managed to get a little bit of coloring done over the weekend.

This cute little pair, Rory & Noelle, is from Stacey Yakula's most recent Purple Onion Designs release.

They were stamped on Neenah Solar White with Gina K Black Amalgam ink, colored with Copics, and then fussy cut.

I added them to a journaling card from Studio Calico.  I really enjoy using journaling cards on my actual cards because it often saves me a bit of type in composing/laying out my card.  For this card, I added just a hint of inking to the journaling card using Tumbled Glass Distress Ink to create a ground line.


The sentiment is one of my favorites from the Typed Sentiments set I designed for Neat & Tangled.

I added a panel of white cardstock that I rounded the corners on, but it was a little too stark, so using the same ground line I created on the journaling card, I added some inking to the white panel.

Hope 2020 is treating you well!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Simon Says Stamp Hey Bestie Release


Hi everyone!  Hope that the new year is treating you well.  Today I have a couple cards to share using a stencil from the new Simon Says Stamp Hey Bestie release.

This Bursting Hearts stencil is big - 9" x 12"!  

It's got a great spray of hearts that spreads across the stencil which means that you can get very different looks using different parts of the stencil.

For this first card, I used the top portion of the stencil where the hearts kind of fade off into the distance.


I started by stamping the You Are cling background on a piece of watercolor cardstock with Smokey Gray Versafine ink.  Then I lightly inked the panel with Worn Lipstick Distress Ink.

The stencil was then placed over the panel, and heavily inked with Worn Lipstick and just a touch of Festive Berries.  I then spread Tonic Glimmer Paste over top for some sparkle and texture.

This sweet little girl and her new puppy from MFT were the perfect fit, matching the line of the hearts.  She was stamped with Gina K Amalgam ink and colored with Copics.


The sentiment is also from that set and was stamped on a strip of cardstock that I lightly softened with some very faint inking so that the contrast with the background was not so stark.

My next card uses a portion of the stencil closer to the bottom of the stencil.


I taped the stencil down, and then inked each of the hearts, masking as needed, in a roughly rainbow color progression.

Leaving the stencil in place, I then stamped the You Are background over the panel with Versafine Black Onyx ink.  


I finished things off with the Simon's I Love You Shadow die.  

I really love the versatility of this die, and because of the size it's also perfect for layouts and home decor items. 

Be sure to take a look at the rest of the new release, some really good stuff in there!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

December 2019 in Books


Happy New Year!  I've got my final book recap for 2019 to share today.  It's a bit of a smaller list this month as we had a lot going on with some work around the house (some doors put in in the sunroom, and new siding on the outside of the house) and Christmas in general, but some really good books this month as well as a couple real duds.  It's actually really hard to pick a favorite this month as most of the non-duds were all really excellent.  Here's what I read:

Nothing More Dangerous - Allen Eskens - fiction - five stars - I am a huge Eskens fan.  His books are all tangentially related, but aren't part of an overlying story arc.  This book is the story of Boady Sanden, who later becomes the professor of Joe Talbert in Eskens's first novel The Life We Bury.  Boady is in high school and struggling, his whole goal is to save enough money so he can leave town.  Then a new family moves in next door which changes his life, giving both him and his mother friends that they desperately need, while changing the dynamic of the small town.  Throw in the mysterious disappearance of Lida Poe, who worked at the local factory and might have embezzled money from the company, and you get a trademark Eskens book.  Just as good as the rest of his books, if you've never read any of these you need to.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive - Stephanie Land - memoir - five stars - This was a very readable and eye-opening book about a woman's struggle to provide for herself and her daughter.  Land comes from a family that also struggled to stay afloat, and seemed to have been on track to break out of that cycle and go to college when she became pregnant.  She decided to keep the child, but with little support from the abusive father, left with basically no resources.  From a shelter where she escaped to, she had to learn the system, figuring out how to obtain services and also find jobs and housing.  It was an education on how one has to function in order to get, and keep, government assistance.  Land's story is one of perseverance, hard work, and some luck.  It gives you an understanding of how very little margin there is for those who are on the margin, how just a couple unexpected bills can put you in a tailspin that will require years to recover from.  A must read.

Out of Darkness, Shining Light
 - Petina Gappah - historical fiction - two stars - This one was a slog for me.  I thought it would be really interesting, and was very disappointed.  It's about David Livingstone, kind of.  Livingstone was a Scottish explorer/missionary who was obsessed with finding the source of the Nile.  He traveled extensively in Africa searching for it and trying to convert those he came into contact with.  By all accounts he was not great at either of those things.  This book tells the story of his African companions who, after his death, carried his body and papers back to the coast so they could be sent back to England.  It's told from the perspective of two in the party and is really just so meandering.  You don't come away particularly caring for any of the characters in the books.  There were some interesting parts, but they just didn't outweigh the good.  Skip it.

Ellie and the Harpmaker - Hazel Prior - fiction - two stars - I thought his would be a fun, quick, light palette cleanser.  It was a quick read, but it was a throwaway book.  I didn't find any of the characters likable.  Ellie, the main character is just such a doormat and the whole premise of the book the scenarios, etc. were ridiculous.  There was a 'happy ending', but even that seemed contrived and forced.  Not a fan. 

The Dutch House - Ann Patchett - fiction - five stars - This one was so good!  Danny and Maeve grow up in an amazing house that defines their childhood.  Their mother leaves when Danny is just a child, so Maeve ends up doing much of his raising.  Their father eventually remarries a woman named Andrea who brings with her two small girls.  This blended family never quite clicks, and when Danny and Maeve's father suddenly dies, they find themselves banned from the home, and with nothing as the home and his father's very successful business were both put in Andrea and her father's names.  As Danny and Maeve grow, get jobs and families, the house remains this almost mythical element in their lives drawing them back over and over.  I loved this story, how the characters were developed, and how she tied the story up in the end.  So good.

The Giver of Stars
 - Jojo Moyes - historical fiction - five stars - I really loved this one.  It's the story of a group of women who form a branch of the Packhorse Library in Kentucky.  The Packhorse Library was an effort championed by Eleanor Roosevelt to bring books/reading to rural areas.  When the library is pitched to the citizens of Baileyville, they are not particularly interested and enthusiastic, but a few brave women sign up to be part of the library.  It's a wonderful story about the library itself, but even more about the women who volunteered to be part of it, and the friendships they developed as a result, especially during a time when society was very much male dominated.  Loved this one!

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation - Stuart Gibbs - juvenile fiction - five stars - Ellie and I are big Stuart Gibbs fans, so we were excited to see him coming out with a new series.  Charlie Thorne is a twelve year old genius who is currently coasting through college.  The CIA recruits her to help them locate a secret equation that Einstein developed which they have been searching for since his death.  They're not quite sure what this equation is for, except that it could mean either the salvation or destruction of the world.  Fast paced and clever, I really enjoyed the characters of Charlie and her half brother Dante (who is the one who recommended her to the CIA).  If you're a Gibbs fan you'll definitely enjoy this, and it's a good introduction to Gibbs for those who aren't.  We're excited that the second book in the series will be out this year!

I'm currently reading The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls as well as a biography on Wallis Simpson (which is something I've been kind of slogging through on the side for several weeks).  Next up are This Tender Land and The Confession Club both of which I am very excited to read.  Would love to hear what you guys have been reading!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Fa La La


Can you believe that Christmas is in just a week?!  I'm just about done mailing my Christmas cards, but I needed just a couple more, and I thought I would put some new goodies to use.

For my backgrounds, I used the Knit Wits stencil set from The Greetery.  This is a set of three stencils.  You can use them singly or together.  For each of these backgrounds I started with the stencil that has the knit marks over the entire stencil and inked with white pigment ink.  Then I used one of the stencils with the knit pattern and Altenew ink (Forest Glades for the green and Velvet for the red) to ink over top the white.



For the sentiment I used the Fa La La die from The Stamp Market.  It was cut twice, once from white cardstock, and once from red.  They were then adhered together, slightly offset from one another, and then I added a secondary sentiment from Hello Bluebird's Typed Christmas set.


For the green version, I couldn't find a green cardstock in the right shade, so I just swiped my inkpad over white cardstock and used that for die cutting as well as for the sentinent strip.


These were super quick and easy and would be perfect for mass production too.


 Hope you are all doing well, and enjoying the season!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Simon Says Stamp Love You More Release


There's a new release at Simon Says Stamp, lots of new products that are perfect for Valentine's Day.  

Today I'm showing off the new You Are background.  I love a text background.  I love both the typewriter font and the size of the font.

The background was stamped on white cardstock with Altenew Silver Stone ink. 


For the focal point of my card, I stamped and fussy cut a pair of cats from The Right Meow set, and colored them with Copics.

The sentiment is from Neat & Tangled's Typed Sentiments set which was stamped on one of the Skinny Strips dies after I colored it with Copics to match the cat's bow tie.  I also colored the little die cut heart.

Thanks for visiting, and be sure to head over to Simon to check out the rest of the release!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Spellbinders December Large Die of the Month


Hi everyone!  I'm a little late posting with this month's Spellbinders Large Die of the Month kit.  We have had some work going on at our house and the craft room has been out of commission.  Thank goodness it's all done, hopefully I'll be able to get things back in place soon, but in any case it's nice to get back to creating.

This month's kit is a good one.  There are three different layered border die sets.  What I especially like about the set is that while it created the layered borders, it also includes dies that cut the edge of the paper to match.


For this first card, I used that border edge three times, from a gold, navy, and cream cardstock to create a layered fancy edge.  Then I used the top layer of the coordinating border set, cutting it from both gold and navy cardstock. 


The gold piece was adhered to my panel, and then I inlaid just the center portion of the border with pieces from the navy die cut.  The entire panel was then popped up over my card base.

A simple sentiment finished things off.


Spellbinders now also has add ons for their kits.  My second card features the Kaleidescope Petal Dies, which consist of three intricate petal dies that layer to create a really gorgeous pattern.

For this card, I cut the petals twice from three different pieces of cardstock.  Then I adhere the layers together, mixing up the combinations so each of these petals is unique.


The finished petals were adhered to my card base to frame the sentiment.

Aren't those petals so striking?

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

November 2019 in Books


I'm a couple days late with my reading recap, but what a great month of reading.  There were so many good books this month!  Here's what I read:

The Russian Five: A Story of Espionage, Defection, Bribery and Courage - Keith Gave - non-fiction - five stars - It's no secret that I'm a big hockey fan, and I am also a big Detroit Red Wings fan (although my favorite team is the Washington Capitals).  This was a fascinating book for me, and even if you are not a huge hockey fan, this is just a great great story.  Gave tells about how the Detroit Red Wings turned the franchise around after it was purchased by the Ilitches, how they really went out on a limb and started drafting Russian players even though there was no guarantee that those individuals would be able to, or would want to play in the U.S.  He details how they were able to get said Russians to either defect or receive permission to leave to play in the U.S., and how Detroit assembled a hockey powerhouse.  Great, great book.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Riddle of Ages (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #4) - Trenton Lee Stewart - juvenile fiction - five stars - I can't tell you house excited I was to learn that there was another Mysterious Benedict Society book.  This is one of Ellie's and my favorites series, and this book did not disappoint.  The story picks up several years after the last book.  The kids are all a bit older, and starting to contemplate what to do next - college, careers, etc.  They are thrust into another adventure when the Ten Men are broken out of prison.  They need to determine what their plan is, and save Mr. Benedict.  It was so fun to become reacquainted with beloved characters, and there really is no drop off in the tone, tenor, or quality of writing from the previous books.  Loved it.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota - J. Ryan Stradal - fiction - five stars - I picked this one up on a whim, as it was on a couple of recommended lists from publishers, and I really loved it.  The story follows two sisters, Helen, who pursues a dream to become a brewer at the expense of her sister, and Edith, who follows her own dream, pursues a more conventional path to marriage and motherhood.  who struggles through financial hardship and emotional heartbreak.  I loved how the book made you like both the sisters, although Edith a little more, and how they, as well as Edith's grand daughter Diana, had such strong characters and voices.  I am not a fan of beer (I like my drinks sweet and fruity), but I loved the description of the brewing process and the emotional reaction Helen has to beer.  I loved this one so much I went to the library and got Stradal's first book to read (more on that below).

The Bootlace Magician (Circus Mirandus, #2) - Cassie Beasley - juvenile fiction - five stars - This is the sequel to Circus Mirandus which I read a while back.  I will say that I was a bit discombobulated for the first few chapters until I got reoriented because in the interim I had read The Night Circus, and while those books are vastly different, there are some strong commonalities particularly in terms of the way people experience the circus and how they come to the circus.  Once I got my bearings, I loved it.  In the story, Micah, now part of the circus family, is trying to find his place in it.  He is learning how to interact with the different groups and members, assuming some responsibilities, and trying to learn about his magical gift.  As the same time, he start to unravel a mystery/threat to the circus.  I loved how the story came together, and how Micah developed, and if I'm reading the ending right, I'm looking forward to another sequel!

To the Land of Long Lost Friends (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, #20) - Alexander McCall Smith - detective - four stars - I always enjoy these No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books because the characters have become so real to me.  In this book, Mwa Ramotswe tackles the difficulty of a childhood friend who asks her to look into her daughters' goings on.  It's a tricky situation which, of course, Mwa Ramotswe handles in just the right way.  Meanwhile, Charlie is dealing with the fact that he would love to marry Queenie-Queenie, but hasn't the means to pay a dowry much less support them both.  I especially loved how his situation turned out.  I've been rooting for Charlie a lot the last couple books, and I love seeing how he's grown up.

Cilka's Journey (The Tattooist of Auschwitz, #2) - Heather Morris - I loved The Tattooist of Aushwitz, and was very excited when I heard that Morris was writing another story based on Cilka,
Lale and Gita's friend who helped them through much of their time in Aushwitz.  After liberation, Cilka was considered a collaborator and sent to a gulag in Siberia for a 15 year sentence.  Because much less is known about Cilka, this books is a much looser depiction of her time, but she was eventually able to find work as a nurse at the work camp and was also able to secure an earlier release.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - Taylor Jenkins Reid - historical fiction - five stars - Earlier this year I read Daisy Jones and the Six and loved it so much I wanted to try something else from the author.  This was another really great read.  Screen legend Evelyn Hugo is auctioning off some of her signature outfits for charity, and has granted an exclusive interview to a magazine, but insists that she will only give the interview to Monique Grant, a very junior reporter.  When Monique shows up, Evelyn informs her that rather than write an article, she wants her to write her life's story, and she will have exclusive rights to it.  Evelyn proceeds to share her story, which is roughly divided up between husbands.  The book intersperses the interview sessions with 'clippings' from the newspapers/gossip magazines at the time which provides the reader with an interesting perspective of what was true and what wasn't, and how sometimes Hollywood used those magazines to spin the story they wanted told.  There are also pieces of Monique's life in there, and by the end of the story you understand why Evelyn chose Monique.  I really loved how this came together and the amazing character that Reid created in Evelyn Hugo.

The Pearl Thief - Elizabeth Wein - juvenile historical fiction - three stars - This is a prequel to Code Name Verity, which I loved.  The story is focused on Julie and her family and her life before Verity.  This was a huge disappointment for me.  I feel like it took SO LONG to get into the story, it was really meandering, and I just didn't like Julie like I did in Verity.  Meh.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest - J. Ryan Stradal - fiction - four stars - This is Stradal's first book which I went out and picked up after I finished Lager Queen.  This one wasn't as good as the first.  It took a lot longer to get into, but I did really like how it wove together in the end.  It's the story of Eva Thorvald and her journey to becoming am chef.  Each of the chapters talks about a specific dish and a specific person in Eva's story.  It's a story about tragedy, but also about succeeding despite the odds.  There's a wonderful resiliency about the characters and the story.  Definitely worth reading.

The Rosie Result (Don Tillman, #3) - Graeme Simsion - fiction - four stars - I have really enjoyed the Rosie series and the quirky characters.  This edition focuses on Don and Rosie's son Hudson.  They've moved back to Australia and Hudson is having difficulty adjusting to his new school, and they want to have him tested to see if he is on the spectrum.  While Don and Rosie aren't sure if he is or is not, they do not want to have him tested and labeled at this point.  And so, Don initiates the Hudson project to try and help Hudson fit in and become a more 'normal' boy.  I really loved how Don and Rosie dealt with the issue, trying to tackle it logically and how Don internally was ticking off things that were and were not indicators.  Meanwhile, I loved Hudson's view of the situation and how comfortable he became with the concept.  I'm hoping there will be more Rosie books in the future.

In Pieces - Sally Field - memoir - four stars - A very honest look at her life.  I thought this was very interesting, particularly given the current #MeToo movement.  It was really interesting to me how Field was typecast and how hard she had to work to get roles outside her Gidget/Flying Nun persona.  The vast majority of the book was focused on her early career and I do wish that it had delved more into her later roles/life.  If you like Hollywood memoirs this is a good one.

Super hard to pick a favorite this month, especially since I read several sequels with characters that I liked so much, so I'm going to punt and not name favorites.  I'm currently reading Maid, and have a couple other biographies waiting in the wings.  Would love to know what you've been reading!