Thursday, August 6, 2020

SSS Let's Connect Release - Detail Floral Ring

Hi all!  It's been pretty quiet around here.  My girls are gone for the week at their grandparents and while they're away we're reorganizing and purging, so I haven't had a ton of time to craft, but I've got a couple cards to share today featuring this new Detail Floral Ring die from Simon Says Stamp's new Let's Connect release.

The ring pierces tiny little holes in your die cut, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I was going to do some stitching.  I created two very different cards to share today.  

This first card is full on stitching.  I used three strands of floss for each of these cards, and for this one I planned my stitching to essentially color in the flowers and leaves with the stitching.  There is some really wonderful dimension in the finished piece.  I loved how clean and simple and bold the results were, so I kept the card simple as well.

The sentiment is from Altenew's Floral Shadow set and was stamped with Versafine.  The stitched piece was popped up with foam tape, and I added a thin green mat to finish things off.

This second card has a whole different feel.  I wanted to create a Christmas wreath with my die.  I used kraft cardstock and then colored the 'images' with colored pencils.  This time for my stitching, I stitched the outline of the images.  

To go with the rustic feel of the die cut/stitched piece, I cut a panel of rustic cream cardstock and added thin strips of kraft towards the top and bottom, machine stitching over them for some extra texture.

The sentiment is from Hello Bluebird's Away in a Manger set.  It was stamped with Versafine Smokey Gray, I like using this color when I want a warmer lighter sentiment.

I used an old piece of patterned paper from Basic Gray on the card base, and again popped the die cut piece up with foam tape.

Lots of great new products in this release, so be sure to head over to Simon to check it all out!

Friday, July 31, 2020

July 2020 in Books

Hi all!  Here's the reading recap for this month.  A lot of books this month, several are juvenile fiction, and in generally just an OK month with only a couple of standouts.  My favorites were Brown Girl Dreaming and A Long Petal of the Sea.  Here's the rundown:

Africaville - Jeffry Colvin - historical fiction - three stars - This book wasn't quite what I expected. I picked it up because it was described as a book about an African community outside of Halifax.  We actually honeymooned in Nova Scotia and we took the girls there on vacation a few years ago and just love the area.  I feel like the Africaville community piece was a minor player in the story.  It's a generational story, with Kath Ella the initial protaganist growing up in Africaville, but then leaving to go to Montreal for school.  She ends up getting pregnant by a boy who grew up there, but was from Alabama originally.  The book traces the lives of her son and grandson who eventually rediscovers his roots in Africaville, but even more so in Alabama.  In general the story seemed pretty scattered, and there were pieces in there that really didn't seem to move the story along.  I think the book jacket actually said that the author wrote it over many many years and it showed.  Just OK.

Brown Girl Dreaming - Jacqueline Woodson - memoir - five stars - I really loved this book.  It's the author's memoir, but written in verse, and although it's classified as a book for ages 10+, I thought it was as good a memoir as I've read for adults.  Through her poems/snippets she traces her history from Ohio where she was born, to South Carolina, where they moved after her mother left her father, to New York.  You can see her as she struggles with those changes and understanding what home and family mean as well as how she became a writer, and how she begins to understand the world around her and the struggle for civil rights.  A must read.

Oona Out of Order - Margarita Montimore - fiction - four stars - This was one of those books that was a disappointment for me.  I felt like there was all this buzz for it and was excited to read it, but ended up feeling let down.  For starters the premise of this one kind of seemed ripped off of The Time Traveler's Wife.  Yes, there are definitely differences, but still.  The premise is that Oona Lockhart for some reason time leaps each year at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.  The first time is the year she is 18, when she wakes up she's 50.  The only people who know are her mother and later on Kenzie, her assistant.  Each year that Oona leaves a note to herself to provide some context for the jump and give some helpful hints.  It was an OK story, but the problem is I just didn't like Oona that much.  There were some interesting twists, but overall I kept reading because I thought she would redeem herself eventually and I never really felt like she did.

A Bookshop in Berlin - Francoise Frenkel - memoir - four stars - This book is like a little time capsule.  It was published in 1945 and rediscovered and republished in almost sixty years later.  It's a first hand account of a Jewish woman's survival during WWII.  Francoise, from Poland, had opened a French bookstore in Berlin in 1921.  She does well there, but ends up having to flee to Paris in 1938, thankfully the French community helps her to flee Berlin, and provides some safety for her at the beginning of the war in Paris.  Eventually though, she has to hide, she does so with the help of many friends and acquaintances who help her as she moves from safe house to safe house as she waits to gain entry to Switzerland.  After numerous attempts, she is finally able to make it there.  It was a little bit dry, it was interesting to me how matter-of-factly this was written, almost devoid of emotion, but a really fascinating account of her experience.

Dear Evelyn - Kathy Page - historical fiction - three stars - This was was definitely a disappointment.  It's the story of Harry Miles and his wife Evelyn.  He is the sweetest man who meets the woman of his dreams, he adores her and does everything to make her happy.  Evelyn on the other hand, although she tries, is basically a control freak, and as Harry enables her to become more so, she gets worse and worse.  The woman is basically a horrible human being by the end of the book, and Harry remains the sweetest man.  This was probably only two and half stars for me, but I rounded up.

The Majesties - Tiffany Tsao - fiction - three stars - This seemed like it would be a really good book.  It hooked you in at the beginning, and I was especially intrigued because it's about a Chinese Indonesian family and my mom is Chinese and was born in Indonesia.  Anyway, the story is narrated by Gwendolyn, one of the daughters of a wealthy Indonesian family.  She's in a coma, but can hear what is going on around her and realizes that her sister Estella poisoned their entire family (about 300) at the birthday dinner of their grandfather, and she is the sole survivor.  She thinks back over the past to try and sort out how this event came to be.  For me, the story didn't live up to the premise of the book opening.  I never found the personalities particularly compelling or likable, just OK.

Belly Up (FunJungle, #1) - Stuart Gibbs - juvenile fiction - five stars - Our family loves Stuart Gibbs.  The girls and I have all read the entire Spy School series as well as many of this other books.  Ellie read the FunJungle series a while back and suggested it for Carina.  Carina loved it, and I figured I would read the books along with her this go round.  The series is about a boy named Teddy Fitzroy who lives at FunJungle, a Sea World style park/zoo (although no rides, just really glitzy/well done animal exhibits).  His parents both work for this zoo, his mother is a trainer while his father is a photographer.  In this book Henry the Hippo, he zoo's mascot dies.  Teddy suspects foul play and sets out to figure out who the killer is, putting himself in danger in the process.  He's helped along in his investigation by Summer McCracken, the daughter of the park's owner, JJ.  It's a great kids book, the characters are likable and funny, and the pacing is just right.

A Long Petal of the Sea - Isabel Allende - historical fiction - five stars - I really enjoy Allende's books, and this was another winner for me.  When Franco takes over Spain following the civil war, Victor Dalmau, an army medic/doctor, and Roser, the pregnant fiance of his brother who is killed in the war must flee.  They are able to secure a spot on the SS Winnipeg, a ship sponsored by poet Pablo Neruda, which takes them to Chile.  In order to do so, they must marry.  The book tells the story of how they survived the war as well as the aftermath when they had to flee and live in refugee camps, how they are welcomed into Chile and how that becomes their home.  And, how they are affected by the later political unrest in Chile.  I loved this one, I learned a lot about the history of both Spain and Chile, and I really loved the characters.  Highly recommend.

The Secrets We Kept - Lara Prescott - historical fiction - four stars - This was another of those highly touted books that I felt kind of let down by.  This is probably more of a three and a half that I rounded up.  The story itself is really quite interesting, about how the CIA smuggled Doctor Zhivago out of the Soviet Union and published and then smuggled it back in to help win the hearts and minds of the Soviets.  I loved the parts of how they got it out and how they used the World's Fair and other events as covers to distribute copies to Russians to take back behind the Iron Curtain.  Much of the tradecraft stuff was interesting too.  Where it fell down for me a little was how things tied together.  There were just a lot of pieces that were interesting, but didn't seem necessary to the story itself.  It either needed more connecting or more cutting, but it was somewhere in between. In many ways it almost felt like two different books to me, one about the CIA typing pool and those characters and how some were used for more operational tasks, and another about Boris Pasternak's mistress who went to the Gulag for him.  Although that part was interesting, I wasn't particularly fond of her, so maybe that's part of my issue with the book.  Anyway, it was an interesting read, but fell short of expectations.

The Love Story of Missy Carmichael - Beth Morrey - fiction - four stars - This is a sweet story of a lonely older lady, her husband is gone and she's estranged from her daughter, and her son and beloved grandson have moved to Australia.  She is feeling quite alone and down when she is befriended by two women in her neighborhood.  Her life starts to be a little brighter and then she's convinced by one to temporarily take in a dog, and her life is even brighter and wider.  She becomes part of a larger community and those interactions help her to reach out to her children and rebuild some bridges.  A sweet feel good read.  Not as good as Ove, Truluv, or the Lido, but still good.

Hotel on Shadow Lake - Daniela Tully - historical fiction - four stars - This story jumps between that of Martha Weisberg, in Germany during WWII, and her granddaughter Maya, many years later.  The story starts with Martha's, her twin brother Wolfgang.  Wolfgang has become fanatically involved with the Nazi party while Martha dislikes what she sees.  Many years later, Maya is shocked to learn that her grandmother's body has been found, twenty seven years after she disappeared while Maya was studying in the U.S.  In fact, her body was recovered very close to where Maya was.  Maya is driven to find out why she was there, was it to see Maya?  Overall, I enjoyed the book, although there were some things that just seemed not to fit, that didn't move the story along and should probably have been edited out, but still a pretty good if not somewhat predictable story.

Poached (FunJungle #2) - Stuart Gibbs - juvenile fiction - five stars - Book two of the FunJungle series.  In this book, Teddy is facing problems at home and at school.  At school he's being tormented by a bully and and at home (FunJungle), he's suspected of kidnapping the zoo's newest attraction, Kazoo the Koala.  Unfortunately there's evidence that he is the culprit, and he's working against the clock to prove his innocence before he is arrested.  Summer is away at boarding school, so can only help him a little, but he's got his parents helping this time.  Lots of new characters were introduced this time, who I'm guessing will pop up in future books.  We just got the third book in from the library too!

I had a ton of library hold books come in, so now I'm scrambling to get through them before they're due!  Right now I'm over halfway through The Splendid and the Vile which I am really enjoying, next up I'll either tackle American Dirt or the Glittering Hour, haven't quite decided which yet.  Please share what you've been reading!
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Thursday, July 30, 2020

MFT Call the Shots

A quick and easy card to share today.  This Birdie Brown Call the Shots set from My Favorite Things has been selling out QUICK, but I was able to grab it a couple weeks ago when it came back in stock.  One of my sisters is a Physician's Assistant, and the other is a doctor (I picked up the Doctor's Orders set that features a female doctor also), so I knew I needed to add this to my collection.

I stamped, colored, and fussy cut the nurse image.  Her scrubs were colored with BG10, BG11, BG13, and BG15, and I used C5, C7, and C9 for her hair.  For the skin I used E50, E53 and B91.  

I've really been trying to use up some of my patterned papers, and this geometric print from an old Fancy Pants 6x6 pad matched my nurse perfectly.  

I didn't want to cover up too much of it, so I just cut a strip of white cardstock and stamped the sentiment with Versafine.  To soften it up a bit, I added a bit of very soft inking with a blending brush and some black ink.

Short and sweet today, and looking forward to the weekend!

*Affiliate Links Below

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Altenew Bold Floral Drape

This weekend I had some time to play with one of my newest acquisitions, the Bold Floral Drape stamp set from Altenew.  I love this set!  It's so much fun to come up with different color combinations.  I was actually stamping with it when my girls were at loose ends, so they sat down with me and helped come up with the different color combinations.

I really wanted to experiment with the set, so I picked three different papers to stamp on:  white cardstock, kraft, and Spring Moss from Papertrey.

Lots of different photos and combinations, so I'll try and keep the blather to a minimum.  First up the prints stamped on white:

For this one I used Salty Ocean for the background, and then Chipped Sapphire, Candied Apple, and Antique Linen for the flowers.  

I rarely use a print for the whole font of the card, usually I cut a mat, but for the backgrounds stamped on white, I went with the full panel card front.  I added a simple strip of navy cardstock, and then the Waterbrush Hello die from Altenew cut in gold mirrorboard. 

For this one, I stamped the background with Wild Honey, and then used Candied Apple, Twisted Citron, and Abandoned Coral for the flowers.  I also added the two little stems with Versafine.

The sentiment is from Janes Doodles You Got This set.  It was stamped with Versafine and then clear embossed.

Next, the backgrounds stamped on kraft:

This one was stamped first with Chipped Sapphire for the background, and then the flowers were done with Spiced Marmalade, Candied Apple, and WPlus9 White Pigment ink.

The sentiment is from an older retired set and was embossed in white on a strip of kraft which was then popped up over my background.

For this one, I first stamped with Seedless Preserves on kraft, and used Peacock Feathers, Chipped Sapphire, and Spun Sugar for the flowers.

For a lot of the other cards, I stamped the flowers multiple times to get a really solid image (use of the MISTI was key to these backgrounds), but for this card, I liked the texture from just the one stamping.  The sentiment, from Ellen Hutson's Totally Random Sayings set and was embossed in white on a strip of navy cardstock.

Finally the backgrounds stamped on Spring Moss cardstock:

Here I stamped the background with Mowed Lawn and the flowers with Seedless Preserves, Picked Raspberry, and Lucky Clover.

For this card I used a black journaling pen to add some accents/doodles to the pattern, and then a sentiment from Altenew's Label Love set.  This was also stamped on Spring Moss cardstock, fussy cut and popped up.

For this last card I went very clean and simple and stamped only the background with Versafine.

I again used the Waterbrush Hello die .  I was die cut from a piece of red cardstock that was clear embossed several times and then popped up along with a black banner strip over the card.

That's all!  It really was such a fun set to get out and just play around with.  Would love to know which is your favorite.

*Affiliate Links in text to Altenew and below to Ellen Hutson