Friday, July 5, 2024

June 2024 in Books

I'm late (again) with my last month's reading recap, but I can blame it on vacation this time.  Overall a pretty good month of reading although there were a couple of duds in the mix. 

The Last Murder at the End of the World - Stuart Turton - fiction - five stars - Turton's books always have interesting premises and twists that you aren't expecting.  This book takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where the last vestiges of humanity, three scientists and 120 some villagers, live on an island with a protective shield around the fog that has destroyed the world.  A murder is about to occur, and the books takes the reader through the timeline before and after the murder.  Told from a number of different view points, this one keeps you on your toes with a number of twists and turns that are not at all expected.  Great read.

The Paris Novel - Ruth Reichl - fiction - four stars - I'm a huge fan of Reichl and have read all her books.  If you have never read Garlic and Sapphires it should be at the top of your TBR list.  This book isn't as good as her others, but still a fun and easy read.  Stella has always lived a very prescribed, frugal, likef.  When her mother, who she is not at all close to, dies and leaves her a small amount of funds with instructions to go to Paris.  She's reluctant to go, but does at the urging of her boss.  In Paris she continues her frugal, predictable ways until she sees a beautiful dress in a store window.  This leads to a day of adventures in Paris which sets her off in a whole different trajectory.  She learns about herself, her mother, and her history.  Not as good as her prior books, but still a fun read.

Goddess of the River - Vaishnavi Patel - fiction - four stars - I really enjoyed Patel's previous book Kaikeyi.  This one was good, but not as successful as that one.  I don't know a lot about Hindu mythology, but I think that part of the flaw of the book is that Ganga the heroine, is involved in so much of the mythology and stories that it's hard to boil the book down to focus on her.  Or perhaps that Patel wanted to include too many ancillary story lines in the book.  It just seemed less focused than her previous books and the other story lines seemed to slow the main plot.  Still, I am a big fan of mythology and I loved hearing some of those stories from other cultures that I'm not familiar with.

Last House - Jessica Shattuck - fiction - three stars - Closer to two and a half stars, rounded up.  I thought this book was going to be good, but it was a disappointment.  It's about the Taylor family.  It starts early on when Nick Taylor and his wife are just getting started, building career and home.  Nick works for American Oil and is recruited in that endeavor to assist the CIA, although specifics are not provided it's implied that he provides some amount of assistance.  His wife Bet worked as a codebreaker during the war and is now a stay at home mom.  This was one storyline which I felt should have been explored more.  She had this interesting backstory and then kind of faded out of the book.  The second part of the book is about their kids Katherine and Harry.  Katherine become an anti-war, anti-establishment activist and her brother is somewhat adrift, only really feeling at home at Last House, a summer home that Nick bought long ago.  This story really never quite got off the ground and then really fizzled once it got to the second half focused on the kids.  Meh.

Lucky - Jane Smiley - fiction - two stars - This one was a clunker.  It's the story of Jodie Rattler, a musician was only somewhat successful, but who had an uncle who invested well for her, so she really hasn't had to worry about work, etc.  It covers Jodie's life, growing up and through later life.  There is not really an arc to this story, it's kind of a straight line, and a lot of it isn't that interesting.  The one part that was compelling to me was reading about Jodie and her family as they dealt with aging and death, first of her grandparents and then her mother.  If I had the chance to do it again, I would have skipped this one.

The One and Only Family (The One and Only Ivan, #4) - Katherine Applegate - juvenile fiction - four stars - This is the final book in the series.  In this book Ivan and Kinyani are expecting.  Ivan has to work through his feelings prior to the arrival of his kids as well as after.  He struggles with the fact that his kids will never be free as well as how to protect them.  This one wasn't as good as the rest of the books, but still a good ending to the series.

Neighbors and Other Stories - Diane Oliver - short stories - five stars - Oliver was an author in the 60s before passing away at the age of 22.  Her short stories have been 'rediscovered' and have now been released.  They deal with racism and prejudice and are thought provoking and even disturbing.  Excellent read.

Summers at the Saint - Marky Kay Andrews - fiction - five stars - Traci Eddings runs the St. Cecilia hotel which is sruggling to regain it's footing following the death of her husband and COVID.  She's recruited a group of young employees to help with its resurgence, including her niece Parrish.  When tragedy strikes, and someone is killed, Traci needs to find the culprit as well as determine why that individual was targeted.  As usual, Andrews' does a great job developing her characters.  Her books are a quick, fun reads.

Peace Like a River - Leif Enger - fiction - five stars - I really loved this book.  Reuben Land's family has a modest life, but they are a strong and united family.  His father is deeply devout and lives out his faith in all things.  And then Reuben's brother Davy is arrested for kiling two bullies who had been threatening their family.  On the night before his sentencing, Davy escapes.  Reuben and his family set out to try and find him while trailed by an FBI agent trying to find Davy as well.  Enger did an amazing job fleshing out the characters in this book and illustrating the conflicts facing Reuben.  I loved the themes of family, sacrifice, and faith.  Will definitely be reading more from this author!

Favorite this month was Peace Like a River and least favorite, clearly, was Lucky.  I'm currently reading Shelterwood which is good so far, but definitely on the sad side.  Would love to know what you guys have been reading!

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

SSS Sunny Vibes, Sunshine Stencils

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp.


Hi all!  Today I'm sharing a couple cards created using the new Sunshine stencils from Simon's Sunny Vibes release.

There are three stencils and a few masks in this set which create a fun sunrise/sunset landscape, but I thought I would show you can stretch those stencils a bit.

For my first card, I inked up the portion of the sun rays that doesn't include the sun.  I used Canary and Cheeky for one set of rays and Dandelion and Peachy for the other.  This essentially creates a fun patterned paper for my card.


I wanted to create kind of a modern summer/beach card.  I stamped two of the umbrellas from the Beachy Keen set, coloring them with my B01, B02, and B04 Copics.  Once my coloring was done, I placed the stamped images back into my stamping platform (I hadn't removed the stamp yet) and stamped again with Versa Clair black ink to get a really bold black.  The umbrellas were then fussy cut, adhered to my panel, and trimmed down.

The sentiment is also from the Beachy Keen set and was stamped directly onto my stenciled background.  I added a mat and that was all the card needed.

Next up I thought it would be fun to use the rays to create a focal point, taking advantage of the fact that the sun is essentially masked off in the two ray stencils.  The stencils were placed on one half of my card, with the sun side at the center of the card.  I then inked the rays using Dandelion and  Peachy for one set of rays, and Cheeky and Guava for the other.  

Once that was done, I turned the stencils around to ink the other half of the card, creating an empty circle in the center of my panel.The very center darker orange rays didn't quite connect, so I used a bit of masking tape to mask off that area, inking it to 'connect' the two parts of the design.


The center was a bit stark, so using the remaining ink on my yellow blending brush, I added a bit of color to the center of the circle.

The sentiments, from the Spring in My Step set, were then stamped with Versa Clair black ink.

This one was so easy to create, it would be a great design for mass production and you can easily mix up the colors for different looks.

That's all for me today, thanks for visiting!

Saturday, June 22, 2024

SSS Sunny Vibes Blog Hop

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp.


Happy Saturday!  I'm hopping with Simon today celebrating the new Sunny Vibes release.  You should be arriving here from Keisha Charles' blog.  There are lots of prizes to be had on the hop.  Simon is giving away a $25 store credit to one commenter on every stop along the hop.  In addition, with any purchase of $50 or more, you can get the above stamp/die set for free using code HELLO.

OK, let's get on to the projects.  Today I'm featuring the new Tin Roof background stamp.  I've created a couple cards using a very simple inking technique that gives a grid based background a quilted look.


For this frst card, I stamped the background on a light peach piece of cardstock using Allspice ink.  I then used a scrap piece of cardstock as a mask, placing it along the diagonal and added some Paprika ink using a small blending brush.  This step was completed all along the panel.  I then turned the panel and repeaed the procedure in the other direction.  By doing this you are essentially inking two adjoining sides of each of the squares.  The trick is to not over ink and focus the inking right along the pattern line. 

To add some sparkle and interest, I adhered some flat sequins in the corners of each of the squares using the Candy Hearts mix.  I think this gives it almost an upholstered look.


The Fancy Thanks die was cut from Matte Champagne cardstock and I swiped Allspice ink over white cardstock for the shadow piece.  These were adhered together and then popped up with fam tape.

Next I thought I would create a Christmas card.  This time I started with a panel of white cardstock, stamped with Grass ink, and then added the inking using Lime ink.


For my sentiment, I pulled out the Joyful die.  The shadow piece was die cut from white cardstock and a scrap of green cardstock that I had.  I then took the white piece and die cut the sentiment itself from the center of it adhering the remaining outlined piece to the green shadow piece.

I then cut the sentiment itself from red cardstock, and inlaid the j, y, f, and l.  The o and u from the previous die cutting were inked with Lime and then inlaid as well.  The finished piece was then popped up with foam tape.


I added a secondary sentiment from the Joyful Greetings set which was white embossed and also popped up with foam tape.

That's all from me, but there is so much more to see.  Your next stop is Heather Ruwe's blog, and I have the full hop list below if you need it.  Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered to with the $25 from my blog.  Winners will be announced on the Simon blog next week.  Happy Hopping!

Thursday, June 20, 2024

SSS Sunny Vibes Release

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp.


Time for a new release from Simon Says Stamp!  Sunny Vibes is now available in the store, and as the name suggests, this release is all about summer.

Today I'm showing off the Small Sand Dollar die which I've paired with some older summer-themed products from Simon.

I started by cutting a few of the Sand Dollars from cream cardstock and then lightly inked the edges with Latte ink.

For my background, I pulled out the Surf and Sand stencil.  This is a really fun stencil that has essentially an open top and bottom and then some solid squiggly portions in the middle that have a bit of space between them which create the shoreline.

I used Latte ink for the sand and Morning for the water.  I started by inking the bottom of the panel up from the corners to the shoreline.  Then I inked the top starting from the shoreline area and fading up.

After the initial inking, I repositioned the stencil, turning it slightly, and inked with both colors in the shoreline area.  This was done twice to create a bit more interest and movement to the shoreline area.


The sentiment, from the Beachy Keen set, was stamped with Versa Clair black ink, and the completed panel was adhered to my card base.

Finally, the three Sand Dollar dies were adhered to the card with the middle one popped using foam tape.

Be sure to head over to Simon to check out the full release.  I'll see you back here Saturday for a fun blog hop!

Thursday, June 13, 2024

First Christmas Card of the Year

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp.


It's June 13th, and I have made my first Christmas card of the year!  Hopefully these posts will become semi-regular in this secondish half of the year so the end of the year isn't too stressful.

I had so much fun playing with an inky panel for the card I shared on Tuesday, that I pulled another from my stack for a Christmas card.

I thought it would be fun to use a non-traditional color.

This was really a very quick card to create.  I used Distress Snowfall Grit Paste which I added a little squirt of Picket Fence Distress Paint to, spread that through the Stylized Mandala stencil and then set the panel aside to dry.

The Large Joy die (one of my go to Christmas sentiment dies) shadow piece was cut from a dark purple cardstock, while the sentiment itself was cut from a light pink cardstock.  I wanted to add some texture to the sentiment to mimic the background, so I spread some Grit Paste over it as well as the secondary sentiment strip from the From Me Christmas Sentiment Strips set.


Once all my Grit Paste had dried, the stenciled panel was adhered to my card base, and the sentiment to the shadow piece.  

The sentiment was adhered directly to my stenciled panel with liquid adhesive, and I popped up a secondary sentiment strip with foam tape.

Not my usual Christmas card, but I'm pretty happy with the result!

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

SSS Lucky You Wreath

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp.


Today I have a fun inky card to share featuring some older items.  

I always have a stash of inky Distress ink/oxide/mica stain panels on hand as I make them in batches.  For today's card I pulled one of those out, spread Gold Hero Paste through the Clover Leaf stencil, and then set it aside to dry.

The Lucky You sentiment was cut once from Gold Matte cardstock and once from a navy blue cardstock.  These wer adhered together to give the sentiment a little more depth, but the dark underlayer also makes it pop a bit more.


The secondary sentiment, from the Lucky You stamp set, was gold embossed on a strip of that navy cardstock.

Once the stenciled panel was dry, the sentiment was adhered with liquid adhesive and the secondary sentiment with foam tape.

Overall this is a pretty CAS card, but that inky background really gives it so much more interest and depth.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

SSS Tiled + Stacked Blocks

 *This post contains affiliate links to Simon Says Stamp.


I love it when old and new play perfectly with one another.

Today I'm pairing my Tiled stencils with an older sentiment set, XL Stacked Greetings.

Because of the geometric/grid nature of the tiled design, the stacked greetings fit perfectly in the center.

Even better, a small adjustment to your inking technique allows for some pretty impactful one layer cards.

There are four stencils in the Tiled set, and I wanted to mix color families here rather than go totally monochromatic.  The easiest way to do this is to choose colors that fall next to each other on the color wheel so that the color blending does get too muddy.  For the warm toned card I used Sunbeam, Peachy, Pucker, and Watermelon.  For the cool toned card I went with Dublin, Tropic, Royal and Ocean.


I used my grip mat from Waffle Flower Crafts when stenciling, and the trick to these cards is to fade out in the center of your panel so that the finished pattern doesn't compete with the sentiment.  

Once my stenciling was complete, I simply placed the panel in my stamping platform, centered the sentiment, and stamped with Versa Clair black ink.

These were so easy to create and they are nice and flat for mailing.


You can use this fade out technique with any stencil set, but I think using a geometric based pattern creates such an impact.