Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 2017 in Books

My book list is a little lighter this month.  Not as much free time as I had over the holidays, but some great reads this month and quite a variety too.  As always I'm curious to know what you're reading, if you've read/liked any of these, or any of the other books from previous lists.  Hope this gives you some ideas!

Ladies' Night - by Mary Kay Andrews - Fiction - 5 stars - I enjoyed this like I enjoy all Mary Kay Andrews' books.  Great characters, funny, good plot.  The premise was also interesting since the heroine is a professional blogger, not that I'm a professional blogger, but it was fun to read about the things she considers in a post, photos, etc.  Anyway, she finds out that her husband is cheating on her and then proceeds to drive his sports car into their pool.  He manages her business and then proceeds to lock her out of her house, blog, etc.

X - by Sue Grafton - Detection - 5 stars - I've read this whole series, although the first several books were actually listened to via books on CD.  I really enjoy the character and how Grafton can weave together a variety of threads in the story as well as plots with threads that stretch back many years.  It's the same old same old here, but I happen to enjoy that same old.

Leviathan - by Scott Westerfeld - Juvenile Science Fiction - 4 stars - This is one of Ellie's Battle Books for the next competition that will take place in May.  It's a really interesting plot - a what-if scenario based on WWII, but the Allies, or Darwinians have experimented for many years creating half animal/half machine creatures that are used for weapons, aircraft, vehicles, etc.  Whereas the Axis powers have developed amazing machines they use for warfare and whatnot.  The book follows the son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand who must flee when his father and mother are assassinated.  I'm not a huge sci-fi fan, but I really enjoyed how this melded sci-fi and historical fiction.

Luck, Love & Lemon Pie - by Amy E. Reichert - Fiction - 3 stars - I saw this on the New bookshelf at the library and as I had really enjoyed her previous book (The Coincidence of Coconut Cake) brought it home.  It was just so so.  To me the plot and characters were just not as compelling or likable.  A bit of a disappointment.

The House by the Lake: One House, Five Families, and a Hundred Years of German History - by Thomas Harding - Non-fiction - 4 stars - A really interesting premise, it focuses on a weekend home just outside of Berlin built by a Jewish family and how it was passed from one family to another after they had to flee.  It was particularly interesting that the lake the house was on was on the line of the Berlin wall, so the house was in the East German zone, with the wall built just steps away from the edge of the lake.  This was a little bit dry and, for me, a little too much prelude about the land before the house was even built, but a really interesting read in the end.

The Rosie Effect - by Graeme Simsion - Fiction - 5 stars - I read the Rosie Project last year or the year before and really enjoyed it, so I was happy to see this sequel.  Rosie and Don are now living in NYC, and Rosie is pregnant.  This is not part of Don's plan, and his studied reaction to it are just as funny and amusing as in the original.

The Edge of Lost - by Kristina McMorris - Fiction - 5 stars - I loved this book.  It's a wonderful story about love, friendship, and family.  Shan Keagan is sailing for the U.S. from Dublin with his uncle.  When his uncle passes away on the ship, Shan thinks he'll be sent back, but the family of a boy he met on the boat agrees to pass him off as one of theirs and he enters the U.S. and in fact becomes part of their family.

Trail of Broken Wings - by Sejal Hadani - Fiction - 5 stars - This was a hard book to read.  It's about an Indian American family that has suffered through domestic violence.  The family has been fractured for a long time, but comes together when the father falls into a coma.  It shows how the domestic violence has affected each of the members, there's a great deal of bad/sad, but hope as well.

The Terrible Two Get Worse - by Mac Barnett and Jory John - Juvenile Fiction - 4 stars - The sequel to one of Ellie's Battle Books from the last battle.  Ellie really enjoyed it and wanted to read the next book.  This one wasn't as good as the first, but Ellie really enjoyed some of the pranks from this book.  A good read for kids.

Mariel of Redwall - by Brian Jacque - Juvenile Fiction - 4 stars - Redwall was another of Ellie's Battle books from last session.  This is the third Redwall book I've read (there are a ton of them), and I continue to enjoy them.  I'm guessing they all follow somewhat the same rubric, where there is some group putting the Abbey in danger, and the residents must protect themselves and thwart the attacks.  At the same time there is a hero/heroine and a quest.  It's a tried and true formula, and this is a series with clear heroes and villains suitable for upper elementary/middle school students.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Hello Lovely

Hey everyone!  I'm continuing my quest to leave no stamp unloved, and pulled out one of my newest acquisitions from Concord and 9th, this Hello Lovely stamp.

Happily, because the stamp is new, I can link up with the current Where Creativity Meets C9 challenge - Try Something New.

Anyway, I wanted to watercolor, and I was debating whether to use lines or no-line.  I decided to no-line, and to use my WPlus9 Fairy Dust ink pad for the 'non-lines' when I discovered that the Fairy Dust ink will actually pick up the color you watercolor, but a shade darker.  This provides a really cool look and makes you look like a much better watercolorer than you might be otherwise..  I will say that I was using my MISTI and did ink/stamp several times because the color is quite light and I wanted to be sure I saw all the lines, so this might have contributed to this effect.

I used Kuretake Gansai watercolors for the painting, and added a bunch of splatter at the end.  I tend to use not just black, but also colors that I used in the painting.  I think this warms up the card and gives it a more cohesive look.  Plus really, the more splatter the better, right?

Because of my little ink discovery, this came together so much faster than it would have otherwise.  I'm definitely going to use this technique again!

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Giggle More

I couldn't resist coloring another of Cynthia's girls.

I kept this super simple, relying on another Studio Calico journaling card to do most of my work.

I did want to add a little extra to the card, so I used a Wink of Stella pen to highlight a few of those dashes in the background.  It's hard to see in the photos, but adds some nice sparkle in real life.  I added a vellum mat to soften the transition to the patterned paper mat.

Normally I don't buy sentiment sets, but this one from Paper Smooches is one that I highly recommend.  The sentiments are unique and fun and I love Kim's handwriting.

Super quick today, hope that you guys are having a great week!

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

You're So Sweet

Last summer I ordered a couple of stamp sets from Love Cynthia.  I had planned to use them for thank you notes for Ellie's birthday party, but then the Lawn Fawn fairies set was so perfect for her Fairy Garden party I couldn't not use it, so these languished.

This week I decided enough was enough and pulled them out.  

One of my favorite things to use in putting together a card is a scrapbooking journaling card. Whenever Studio Calico has a sale on their Documenter kits I'll pick up a couple.  They really simplify card making, providing a natural anchor for your focal point.

I also pulled out some older embellishments, some acetate elements from Basic Grey's Spice Market collection, and some even older BG papers.

The stamped sentiment is from Ellen Hutson's Warm Fuzzies set.  

This card just makes me smile, hope it does the same for you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Stretching your Stencils

One of the techniques I teach in my Craftsy class involves selectively cutting out portions of stencils to create a totally different design.

I had some time this weekend to just play and I pulled out my Parquet stencil.

It's rotated 45 degrees, and then I traced and then used a cutting knife to remove these alternating triangle portions.  I love what a different look this is.

Since I wasn't really planning ahead, I ended up with a cut out area that wasn't quite symmetical.  If I had planned ahead, I would have made it symmetrical and used it on the horizontal, adding the sentiment in the center.  But, I was flying by the seat of my pants here, so.....

I knew I wanted to pop the panel up over some black cardstock, but I wanted some brightness, too, so I cut three 1" squares of colored cardstock to add behind the squares/diamonds.  I found the perfect patterned paper to accent the design from an old BG 6x6 pad.

A simple partial sentiment from Calathea was embossed on black to finish this off.

I love this technique because it allows you to take one thing and create something totally different.  Hope you're inspired to take a fresh look at your stencils!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Giddy Up!

As I'm endeavoring to spread the love to unloved stamp sets, I really needed to pull out the Rowdy Raccoons set from Mama Elephant.  It was gifted to me a while back and I just love the critters so much.  They are cute and they have attitude.

I opted for this guy.  He's stamped in Versafine and then painted with my Gansai watercolors.

Just in case you don't know, I'm not a fan of white space....I always feel like I should fill it with something....a wash, some splatter, sequins, etc.

But, I restrained myself and just let this little guy be the star of the show.  I'm hiding this from my girls because they are liable to run off with it otherwise.

Like this guys says, have a rootin' tootin' great day!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Now for something new

So yesterday I was using old things, today I'm turning my attention to something new and unloved.

I have a terrible habit of needing things, getting them, and not using them.  So over the weekend I picked out one of those new items (this thank you stamp from Studio Calico) and decided it was going to get a day in the sun.

Really simple.  I used a Cosmo Cricket watercolor tag, added some loose watercolors and then some gold and black splatter.

Then I finished it off with the sentiment stamp (I used my MISTI to make sure that I got a good inking) and also clear embossed the sentiment.

A quick and easy tag to add to my stash, and I used something new in the process!

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Mixing the old with the new and things you learn when you do so

Here's the thing.  I have SO MUCH OLD STUFF.  I mean, really old old stuff and it's kind of embarrassing.  After I stopped submitting for publication, I became much less concerned about having current papers/embellishments, so I mostly spend on stamps and dies and inks these days, which also means I tend to focus on those and not the old stuff.

This year I'm hoping to make a concerted effort to get that stuff out and use it more frequently.

(Full disclosure, I also have a lot of new stuff that I haven't used either....we'll talk about that another day.)

So lots and lots of oldies here, but interestingly enough my jumping off point was the two leaves.  They are from my new Calathea set.  They are the inner images associated with the leaf from this card.  But here I'm using them more like leaves for the flower, which is an old Webster's Pages embellishment.  The leaves were stamped on some patterned paper (also old) with rock and roll stamping for the first layer and then a sold dark color for the inner layer.  

The next piece I picked out was the journaling card, from an older Maggie Holmes collection.  Then came the little envelope (super old Studio Calico), with an acetate heart (even older Heidi Swapp) stapled in place with my Tim Holtz Tiny Attacher.

I wanted to dress up the journaling card a bit, so I added some old MME Luxe rub-ons.  The sentiment is from my Dala Horse set and was stamped with Versafine.  To make sure it didn't smudge, I heat set it and a fun surprise, the heat caused the rub-ons to bubble up a bit.  I loved the fun texture it added, so I went ahead and heated up the rest of the rub-ons.  

I added a few patterned paper mats and stitching to finish things off.  

So fun to get out the old stuff and put it to use!  I'm hoping to do this more often this year.  

That's all for me today.  Have a great start to your week!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Neat & Tangled January Release is live and winner

Hey everyone!  The January release is now live in the store!

Here's a recap on my release projects:

I also need to announce a winner for my Calathea set.  The lucky commenter was from Day 3, comment 42.....


Yay!  Shoot me an email and I'll get this sent out to you!

If you didn't win, don't worry, because with monthly releases there will be lots more opportunities to win this year!  Be sure to head on over to the store, I have a feeling those squirrels might not last long!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Neat & Tangled January Release Week Day 4 - Giveaway

Hey folks, today is the last reveal day for our January release.  Today we're showing off a mini set from Elena Roussakis called Floral Heart.

I've always been a little awed by people who can do no line coloring.  It's totally intimidating to me, but I thought with an image with little parts it might be easier.

I'm not sure if it's harder or easier, all I know is this no line coloring stuff is hard and it takes a really really long time!

I stamped the image with Antique Linen Distress Ink, and then colored with Copics, keeping the stamp itself close by for reference when I was coloring.  I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, although I have to say the OCD in me really doesn't like that you can still see some of the Antique Linen in the light areas.  If you're a no-line colorer, I'd love to know if there is a better ink for this.

The sentiment is also from this set and was stamped in Versafine, and I used an 01 Journaling Pen for the little branch parts.

Short and sweet today.  Remember, I'll be drawing a winner for my Calathea set from all the release week post comments, and will announce tomorrow morning.  Stop by the Neat & Tangled blog too as Danielle is giving away a set to a lucky someone.  See you tomorrow!

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