Thursday, July 9, 2020

Mama Elephant Me & My Robot

Happy Thursday!  I really loved this robot set when it first came out from Mama Elephant, it's such a fun and unique concept and perfect for masculine/boy cards.  When I saw that this was part of ME's summer sale, I snatched it right up, and inked it up as soon as it came in the mail.

I colored both of the big robots and a few of the smaller images, and then set about creating a couple of cards.

The robot for this first card was colored with the Copic Cool Gray familiy.  I used C0, C1, C2, C3, C5, C7, and a very little bit of C9.  He was colored symmetrically, so both sides matched.  

I wanted a very bold background, so I pulled out an older stencil, The Crafter's Workshop Spiral Staircase.  I started by inking a panel with Altenew Misty Morning ink.  The stencil was then added and inked with Dark Night.

I cut a strip of subtle gridded paper the edges of which were inked, stamped the sentiment (also from the set) on it, and adhered it to my stenciled panel.

The stamped images were then adhered with foam tape over top.

This second card is a little more subtle.

This robot was colored with Warm Grays: W0, W1, W2, W3, W5, W7, and W9, and instead of the symmetrical coloring I did on the first robot, I colored him i a more patchwork fashion.

I chose a couple more neutral/masculine patterned papers, stamping the sentiment directly onto the background, and then adhered my stamped/colored piece.

These robots were really fun to color, and I have a feeling they will get a lot of use on boy birthday cards here.

Hope your week is going well!

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Greetery Simple Things

Today I've got a couple of cards to share using The Greetery's Simple Things set.

I love eucalyptus, and this is such a well done set.

For my first card, I used the large leafy curved branch.  It was stamped and die cut twice.  I used Altenew inks, Moon Rock for the stem, and Limestone and Misty Morning for the leaves.

I wasn't quite sure how I was going to arrange the branches, but I liked how they fit together to create a frame.  Now I just needed something to go inside the frame.

I decided that the larger bird from The Greetery's Robin and Wren set would be perfect.  He was stamped with Limestone, Silver Stone, Misty Morning, and Cloudy Sky.  The beak and legs were done in Moon Rock and the eye in Lava Rock.

I finished the card off with a sentiment from my old Dala Horse set for Neat & Tangled which was stamped on one of the Skinny Strips dies in Lava Rock ink.

I thought about popping the bird up, but I was worried his feet might get snagged on something, so I decided to keep everything nice and flat.

My second card uses the two eucalyptus stems.

These were stamped with Moon Rock, Mountain Mist, and Cloudy Sky.

I used two of the large stems, and one small stem.  One of the large stems was trimmed down.  You could see where a couple of the leaves that were trimmed off met up with the stem.  I added a little dot of Moon Rock ink to the center of the stem using an embossing tool and a dot ink so that it looks like a continuous stem.  I also used a white gel pen to color over the bits of the leaf.

I wanted a little bit of texture, so I used my sewing machine to sew across the bottom of the card and stems (also covering up where I did my stem repair) varying the stitch a bit for interest.

The sentiment, from the set, was stamped in Lava Rock.

This is such a pretty set, and I love how easy they were to stamp.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

June 2020 in Books

This month's list is pretty long, but almost half of the books are kids books.  I had a couple pretty dense/heavy books this month, so it was good to break it up with some of the books Ellie has been hounding me to read. Some really good books this month too.  I ended on a really high note too, I think the last three are my favorites this month.  Read on for all the details:

Beyond the Bright Sea - Lauren Wolk - juvenile historical fiction - five stars - Ellie got this one for Christmas this year from my SIL, and has been after me to read it ever since.  It's the story of Crow, a 12 year old girl who was discovered adrift in a canoe by a hermit living in the Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts.  She was raised by him, and they're a family now, but she's always wondered where she came from.  One evening she sees a fire on an island far away and again starts to question her whereabouts.  This sets her on a path to discover her background and discover what family really means.  A sweet and sad story.  Definitely worth the read, looking forward to reading more from this author.

Hunting the Truth: Memoirs of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld - Beate Klarsfeld - memoir - four stars - This was a really interesting, and dense, book about the life of Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, she a German, and he a French Jew whose father died in Auschwitz.  They met and married, and their life's work has been ensuring that former Nazis do not positions of power in government.  They have been tireless and effective, affecting the election and re-election of such individuals.  They also worked to have Nazis tried, even in absentia, gaining convictions for Kurt Lischka, Alois Brunner, Klaus Barbie, and others.  They were the target of assassination attempts as a result.  Another immense project that Serge spearheaded was a book listing the names of more than 80,000 Jews deported from France to concentration camps or killed in France.  The book listed their nationalities as well as which train they were taken on.  It was a massive undertaking, but has been hugely valuable for those seeking information about their family members.  The impact of the couple's work is staggering.  This book was not a quick read, and I didn't always agree with their tactics ,but they have accomplished so much, and it is definitely worth reading.

Clara's War - Clara Kramer - memoir - five stars - The story of Clara, a 15 year old Polish Jew, and her family, along with several others, who survived WWII living in a hand-dug cellar.  The memoir is based on the diary she kept all throughout her time in the cellar.  It's a bit like Anne Frank, but without all the internal monologue, just the plot.  If your kid has had to read Anne Frank and couldn't get past that, this might be a good alternative.  It's pretty impressive that they were able to keep so many alive in the cellar.  A remarkable survival story.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #1) - Jessica Townsend - juvenile fiction - five stars - I got this one for Ellie last year when we went on vacation and she LOVED it.  She read it over and over last year and had been on my case to read it too, and I finally had the chance since I was running out of library books . Loved it.  Morrigan is cursed - she was born on Eventide, which means that at midnight on her 11th birthday she is supposed to die.  But, there's something special about Morrigan, and before she can be killed, she is spirited away to a city called Nevermoor by Jupiter North, who presents her as his candidate for the Wundrous Society.  In order to join the society, Morrigan must pass three trials.  I really loved this whole story, the characters, Nevermoor itself, which is kind of like Willy Wonka's factory on crack, it was fun and clever, and just a great read.  Highly recommend.

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #2) - Jessica Townsend - juvenile fiction - five stars - Of course this is a series (the third book comes out in October and clearly we pre-ordered a copy), and I thought this book was just as good as the first (although Ellie says the first book is better).  In this edition, Morrigan and her cohort begin their training, unfortunately, because of Morrigan's talents, she doesn't get to take any good classes.  Meanwhile, Jupiter is gone more and more, and she is generally frustrated.  In addition, weird things are happening around Nevermoor and people are disappearing.  Some think this is Morrigan's fault, so she has to figure out what is happening and try and stop it.  Like I said, I think this one was just as good as the first book, and I'm really looking forward to reading the next in the series.

The Great Flowing River: A Memoir of China, from Manchuria to Taiwan - Chi Pang-Yuan - memoir - three stars - This was a big disappointment for me.  This book should have been fascinating, but it was so boring.  I did learn things, but it was a real slog.  The first part was the most interesting to me, about how childhood and how her family had to flee when the Japanese invaded, they continually moved inland as the Japanese advanced, and how at each stop her father worked to set up schools and find shelter for the students as they moved.  There were definitely good bits and nuggets, but there was also a lot of name dropping, and if you're not familiar with those people, those names man nothing to you.  I also found her description of Taipei/Taiwan really interesting.  I've been to Taipei a couple times to visit relatives (when I was young), and even then it was a huge city, all tall buildings and so cramped, so her descriptions of all one story Japanese style houses, and a very low density were fascinating to me. I  actually chatted with my mom about it as she moved to Taipei for school in middle school (from Indonesia), in the mid 50s, and she verified those impressions.  Disappointing.

Nothing to See Here - Kevin Wilson - fiction - four stars - This is a good book, but the whole premise is so weird that I had a hard time getting fully on board with the book even while I was enjoying it because it's just so weird, if that makes any sense.  Lillian, who is living in her mother's attic, is contacted by her old roommate Madison (who is now married to a Senator who is being considered for Secretary of State, and has a LOT of money) to be a nanny/governess for her step-children whose mother just died.  Once Lillian arrives she learns that there is something different about the kids - they burst into flame when upset.  This doesn't hurt them at all, but causes a fair amount of damage all around hem.  I liked the characters and the story, and how Lillian and the kids bonded, but again, the whole spontaneous combustion element was just weird, and I feel like I might have liked it just as much if there was something more normal wrong with the kids.  Still a good and quick read.

The Doldrums (The Doldrums #1) - Nicholas Gannon - juvenile fiction - four stars - Both girls read this one and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would read it too.  It's the story of Archer Helmsley, who is completely under the thumb of his mother, and who wishes he could be like his famous adventuring grandparents who were lost on a glacier and presumed dead.  Archer believes they are still alive and decides he needs to find them.  He's helped along by his two best friends.  I liked this story, but I felt it was a little weak and dragged on a bit. But it's quirky and different and I loved the illustrations.  There's a sequel, which I'm hoping to get done next month.  Didn't necessarily love it, but definitely liked it.

The Blackbird Girls - Anne Blankman - juvenile historical fiction - five stars - I borrowed this book for Ellie, but read it too and we both loved it.  It's the story of Valentina and Oksana, two girls who live in Pripyat, Ukraine, whose fathers both work at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.  The girls are not friends at the beginning of the story but circumstances throw them together and they become best friends by the end.  The book also weaves in the story of Valentina's grandmother during WWII.  I thought the descriptions of the initial reaction to the disaster were fascinating, and also loved how the girls relationship developed.  The book deals with difficult issues of race/anti-Semitism/Holocaust as well as child abuse, but not in a way that's appropriate for tween readers.  Highly recommend.

The Mountains Sing - Phan Nguyễn - historical fiction - five stars - I devoured this book, it's the story of a Vietnamese family and their survival from pre-WWII to post Vietnam.  The story focuses on Huong and her grandmother.  At the beginning of the book, Huong and her grandmother are trying to survive in Hanoi during the Vietnam war. Her parents and uncle have all gone to fight in the war, and they flee Hanoi to go to the countryside.  When they return, Hanoi is shell, their home is gone, and they need to rebuild.  Her grandmother, a teacher, quits her job because he doesn't want to teach propaganda, and becomes a black market trader, and they rebuild as they wait for family members to return.  During this time, Huong's grandmother relates her story, how her family was once prosperous, how they survived famine, and land reform, fleeing to Hanoi, and the sacrifices she had to make to escape.  The book was heartbreaking, while I was familiar with the Vietnam War, I learned much more about the history of Vietnam, how the people were oppressed by the French, then the Japanese, then the Communists, and how families were broken up between north and south, fighting one another, much like the Civil War.  A must read.

The Night Watchman - Louise Erdrich - historical fiction - five stars - Another great read to finish off the month.  In 1953, a bill is introduced into Congress that proposes the 'emancipation' of the Native Americans.  The U.S. government would essentially fully abandon their treaties with the Native Americans, disbanding tribes, selling off their land, and resettling them into cities.  The announcement called for ultimate termination of all tribes, but immediate termination of five, including the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa.  The book follows Thomas Wazhashk, a night watchman who is also a Chippewa council member as he learns about the bill, works to understand it, and then builds up support against it.  Ultimately he and a delegation go to Washington to take testify in a hearing about the bill which does not get signed.  The book also tells the stories of several other Turtle Mountain Chippewa, in particular Pixie Paranteau, who works in the jewel bearing plant.  This was such a deep, rich story.  I love how it really fleshed out the characters, in a way reminding me of Fredrick Backman.  Another must read.

I just started Africaville, and then I'm not quite sure what I'll read next.  Our library reopened this month, but only for hold pick-ups.  Those aren't coming in that quickly, so who knows what I'll get next.  I also have a few more books from the girls that I need to read, so there'll probably be a fair amount of their recommendations sprinkled in.  Would love to know what you guys have been reading and loving!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

C9 Cool Treats Bundle

Hi everyone!  I've got a couple cards to share today using the Concord and 9th Cool Treats bundle (which is actually on sale right now).  These cards ended up being VERY different.

For the first card, I used the turnabout, stamping it with Altenew inks: Turquoise, Starlight, Coral Berry, and Ruby Red.

I thought the background would be perfect for a fourth of July card, but I could find a basic fourth sentiment, so I went with this US map sentient from an older Simon Says Stamp set called Brave.  The sentiment was inked with the four colors using my MISTI.

I cut a couple banners from blue and white cardstock to break up the background a little bit and then fussy cut the sentiment piece and popped it up over top.

It's a little busier than I usually go with cards, but I think it works.

Probably as a reaction to how busy the last card was, I went super simple with this next card which uses some of the dies from the coordinating die set.

I cut three sets of sno-cone tops and sno-cone cones.

The tops were colored with Copics.  I started by coloring the entire piece with my lightest Copic color, and instead of smooth shading, I added the coloring in a pixelated fashion, just adding dots to the piece.  In case you're wondering here are the colors I used:  red - R22, R24, R29, R39; blue - B21, B23, B34, B37, B39; green - G02, G03, G09, G17, G29.  That's a lot of colors, I know.  I actually started with just three, but I wasn't getting a big enough contrast, so I added darker shades as I went along.  That's the best way to do it with this technique I think, I used colors light to dark when I did my's much easier to add darker colors as needed rather than to start off too dark.

For the cones themselves, I added a bit of shading to them using C1, C2, and C3, and then stamped the strips using one of the extra texture stamps in the turnabout set.  They were stamped with Ruby Red, Starlight, and Just Green.

I arranged them on my panel, and then stamped the sentient, also from the turnabout set, in Versafine.

See you back here tomorrow for June's reading recap post!

Friday, June 26, 2020

SSS Send Happiness Schnauzer

Happy Friday!  I've got a couple cards to share today using the adorable Lil Critters Schnauzer die from new Simon Says Stamp Send Happiness release.

Is he not the cutest?  He's also only $4.99!  I had a great time coloring him and putting these cards together!

For this first card, I started by die cutting the dog from some Cement Gray cardstock.  He was then colored with Copics.  I used the Warm Gray family - W0, W1, W2, W3, and W5.  The nose and eyes were colored with W9 so I got a really dark color, but it was still the tone of the rest of the puppy.  I also used a white gel pen to add accents to the eyes and nose.

I was a litter nervous about coloring him because he doesn't have lines, so I was kind of winging it, but I pulled up some images of schnauzers on my ipad, and it was easier than I thought it would be.

For the background, I used the Geo Leaves stencil, inking it first with Altenew Misty Morning ink, and then with Altenew Nimbus ink after shifting the paper down just a bit.

I added a strip of woodgrain patterned paper for the 'floor' and a sentiment from the Healing Hugs set.  

For this second card, I die cut the dog from white cardstock, and colored him with my Cool Grays, using C0, C1, C2, C3, C5, and C7.  The eyes and nose were colored with C9, and I again added accents with a white gel pen.

I added a bit of black inking to the bottom of a white panel for ground like, and then added a die cut sentiment using two of the words in the Oh Hello There die.  Each of the words was cut three times and adhered together and then to the card.

I also rounded the corners of my panel and chose a bright blue patterned paper for the mat - the pattern reminded me of something this little guy might wear in the winter.

Thanks for visiting!  Be sure to head over to Simon to check out the rest of the new release!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Greetery Print Shop

I picked up the Print Shop stamp/stencil set and dies from The Greetery during their birthday sale.  I'd been eyeing these goodies for a while, and just couldn't pass them up any longer.

There are definitely a bunch of different steps involved in creating this floral background, but it's not onerous, and it's so much fun.  I loved seeing the background come to life!

I started by picking out three sets of color pairs for the main stenciled flowers, and then I created three different backgrounds assembly line style, pulling out additional colors as needed (all inks used are Altenew). 

For this first card, the large flowers were stenciled using Misty Morning and Nimbus.

The leaves were stamped in Moss, and the small yellow flowers were stenciled with Butternut.  The purple flowers are Grape Agate, and I used Evergreen for the foliage accents.  The accents on the dark blue of the flower are Dark Night, and I used Jet Black for the centers of the flowers.

To finish off the card, I trimmed the panel down slightly, and stamped a sentiment from Papertrey's Choose Joy set onto a banner die from MFT which was popped up over a slightly larger yellow banner.

For this next card, I used Butternut and Pumpkin Pie for the large flowers.

The greens were stamped with Olive, and the stenciled flowers were done in Crimson.  The small flower clusters were stamped with Frosty Pink, and I used Moss for the greenery accents.  For the accents on the large flowers, I used Sicilian Amber and Jet Black.  I felt like the light pink flowers needed a bit of pop to help them stand out, so I used my YR12 Copic marker to add little centers to each of them.

After trimming down the panel, I added the sentiment using the Skinny Upper Alpha Dies from The Stamp Market.  Each of the letters was cut three times from black cardstock, adhered in a stack and then directly to my panel.  

I cut two Skinny Strips Dies banners, one from white and one from light yellow cardstock.  The sentiment was stamped on the white one (I masked off the 'you' at the beginning of the sentiment), and then adhered slightly offset to the yellow one.  These were then popped up over the YOU.

This last card I was a little on the fence about.  The flowers were created using Frosty Pink and Coral Berry.

The greens were stamped in Forest Garden, and I used Misty Morning for the small stenciled flowers.  The small floral cluster was stamped with Butternut, and the greenery accents were done with Evergreen.  The accents on the large flowers were stamped with Crimson and Sicilian Amber.  Just as in the last card, I added some emphasis to the small floral cluster using a Copic marker (Y18).

To finish this one, I first cut three layers of the Scalloped Frame die from The Stamp Market.  Those were layered together and adhered to my panel.  Then I added a die cut sentiment (from the same die set), which was cut in gold mirrorboard cardstock.

I felt like the card still needed a little something, so I stamped a few of the elements, the Print Shop set includes standalone stamps so you can create the individual elements in the background.  I stamped a couple of the large flowers and one of the flower clusters and die cut them.  These were then popped up over the frame to add dimension.

This one I can't quite decide if I like, or if I need to tweak the design some.  Would love to know which is your favorite.

I'm looking forward to doing some more stamping with the individual elements - I love that those are included, it really expands the possibilities for this set!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Altenew Pieced Arabesque Medallion

Hey everyone!  I've got a couple cards to share today using my all-time favorite Altenew background, the Arabesque Medallion.

My job involves a lot of meetings.  In normal times, I always have some paper with me, and I doodle to stay focused/alert.  Now that I'm working from home, there are a lot more 'doodling' type options available, so the other day, I decided to do some fussy cutting.  

I stamped the medallion on several pieces of patterned paper.  Most of the pieces were almost solid or had very subtle patterns (this is a great way to put a dent in your patterned paper stash).  

I used an ivory toned paper as my base, and then started fussy cutting.

This was a a challenging pattern to fussy cut because some of the pieces were very narrow or had very tight turns, but I think the results look beautiful.  

I thought long and hard about creating just one card with the medallion centered on it, but I love being able to get two cards from one effort, especially when it is a more time consuming technique, so I went ahead and cut the medallion in half to use on two cards.

For this first card, I mounted the medallion half over a piece of very dark gray cardstock.  The sentiment is from an old My Monthly Hero kit and was embossed in gold.  I also added a very thin strip of gold mirror cardstock, and then adhered it to a kraft card base.

The second half of the medallion had a larger portion of the patterned paper base on that end, so it filled up the entire card front, although I did trim it down just a bit so I had a border at the top and bottom of my panel.

The sentiment is from an old Papertrey Ink set.  

Normally I would have used some foam tape to pop these up a little, but I decided to keep them flat for easier mailing.  The piecing does add some texture and a bit of visual dimension.

This was fun, and I have my eye on a couple other backgrounds that I'm thinking it would be fun to piece, so stay tuned!

If you'd like to see a couple other ways I've used this stamp set, check out this post, and this post.  

Thanks for stopping by, hope you are having a great week!