Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 2017 in Books

Hi everyone!  Here's the rundown of what I read this month.  Much more balance between the serious and not so serious.  On deck for next mont is a lot more juvenile lit.  Ellie just celebrated her birthday yesterday and has a whole new stack of books which I'l be expected to read (along with a bunch that she had already assigned).  Right now I'm finishing up Salt Houses which is SO good and I also just finally picked up Hillbilly Elegy which I'm way overdue for.  What are you reading?

Wonder - R.J. Palacio - Juvenile Fiction - five stars - This has been on my list to read for a while, and with the movie coming out I really thought I needed to get it read. Ellie and I both read and loved this one. It's about a boy named Auggie who was born with a serious facial deformity. The story is told from a variety of perspectives of those surrounding him. I really like how you get to see a little more about each of the different narrators and the particular struggles they face, it's a great book to use as a jumping off point when discussing bullying.

Chupacabra (Marty and Grace #3)
- Roland Smith - Juvenile Fiction - five stars - The third book in this series, Grace has been kidnapped by her Grandfather and is working on the inside at figuring out what he is up, at the same time Marty is trying to rescue her. We really love this series and really everything we've read from Roland Smith.

Oliver and the Sea Monkeys - Philip Reeve - Juvenile Fiction - Three Stars - One of Ellie's current battle books. This one was kind of meh for me. I think this one is geared towards the younger readers, to me it's kind of like a Captain Underpants style book for holder readers a little more meat/plot, but still pretty corny and kitschy.

Deep Dish
- Mary Kay Andrews - Fiction - four stars - One of the books I took on vacation with me, Mary Kay Andrews is always a great vacation read. This one is the story of Gina Foxton who is competing with Tate Moody for a show on the Cooking Channel. To win they are participating in a head to head competition (also a cooking show). The thing I love about Mary Kay Andrews books are that her characters are so likable and they make you laugh. This is another fun and easy read.

The Illusion of Separateness
- Simon Van Booy - Historical Fiction - four stars - A really quick read, this is told as a series of vignettes, from WWII through the present day that follow several characters that whose stories intersect. It was a little more fragmented for my liking, but I did find the overall story compelling.

The Lake House
- Kate Morton - Fiction - five stars - I really love Kate Morton books. They follow a certain formula, someone from present day is drawn into a mystery from years ago, and the story bounces between the present and prior time period. There is generally a twist that sometimes you see and sometimes you don't see coming. This was one of my favorites. Sometimes her books start a bit slowly, but I was drawn in immediately and there were several things that ended up being a surprise to me.

The Last Anniversary
- Liane Moriary - Fiction - five stars - Liane is another of my favorite authors.  Her books tend to have some amount of unbelievability in the story lines, but it adds to the humor and the characters are just so likable that you kind of don't care.  In this story, Sophie inherits the home of the aunt of an ex boyfriend (now happily married).  She becomes involved in the zaniness of his family as well as an ongoing mystery.

The Girl on the Cliff
- Lucinda Riley - Fiction - four stars - This is another of those books where someone from present-day becomes involved in a mystery from the past.  In this case, Grania Ryan comes home to Ireland after a miscarriage and is trying to sort out her life when she becomes involved with local noble family, which her family shares a past with.  I enjoyed the overall plot, but the book used an unnecessary literary device (where the narrator interjects commentary occasionally) which was kind of annoying.  I also thought some of the plot lines were pretty see-through/soap opera-ey, i.e. this baby is not really your baby.

The Sound of Gravel - Ruth Wariner - Autobiography - five stars - The autobiography of a woman raised in a breakaway polygamous Mormon sect in Mexico.  It was sad and scary and slightly fascinating.  The woman and her family regularly traveled back to the U.S. to get welfare disbursements and also lived for periods of time with family who were not practicing.  It tells about the struggles, but also the bonds between her and her siblings and how they were able to escape that life.

Mutation (Marty and Grace #4)
- Roland Smith - Juvenile Fiction - five stars - The final book in this series and just as good as the rest of them.  The book ties up all the loose ends, adds a bit of origin story and was a satisfactory end to it all.  As I've mentioned before, if you're looking for good reading for tweens, particularly boys, Roland Smith's books are great.  It's all action/adventure, not a lot of drama/angst.  Highly recommend.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness - Arundhati Roy - Fiction - three stars - I really thought I was going to like this book, but I didn't.  It was kind of boring and a slog, mostly because I just never really identified with or liked any of the characters.  The one thing I will say is that I did learn a lot about the ongoing conflict in Kashmir, which I guess I never really knew existed until now.  

Monday, August 28, 2017

Celebrate Getting Through It

Hey everyone!  I'm sharing this card over on the Neat & Tangled blog today.

As you guys know, I've been having all sorts of fun with my new Open Box die.  Today I thought I would showcase another way to use/close it.

To assemble the box die, I use micro or mini dots.  If I keep the box open, I'll attach the little tabs on the outside of the box since they are kind of hidden, like  this:

If I am going to have the box closed, like in this card, I want a neater look on the outside, so I adhere the little flaps on the inside of the box.

In a previous card I tied the box closed, but tying perfect bows can be tricky, especially when it's a little box.

So for this card, I closed the box the easy way, kind of like when you're packing real boxes, by overlapping the flaps and tucking one side of the last flap under the first flap.

It's super easy and quick!

I wanted to make a more masculine card, and I thought about tucking some money in there like Heather Hoffman did on this card, but I ended up using a bit of flair that I had in my stash from BossyJoscie instead.

The sentiments are form the Celebrate stamp set.

Really simple, but a fun way to send some encouragement.  Thanks for visiting!

*Affiliate Links to Neat & Tangled store in text and to Ellen Hutson below

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Corgis on Stilts

As soon as I saw the Pawsome set from Waffle Flower Crafts, I knew I was going to have to make this card.

The sentiments are from my Happier Than set for Neat & Tangled.

I stamped the sentiments and corgis on watercolor paper with Versafine and then painted them with my Kuretake Gansai watercolors.

Then I needed some stilts.  I sketched some in with a journaling pen and then watercolored them.  Originally they were a bit sketchier, but the lines in the sentiment and stamped images are pretty bold and it didn't look balanced, so I went back in and thickened them up a bit.

I added a few patterned paper mats, a bit of washi and staples for interest and that was that.

Thanks for stopping by!

*Affiliate Links Below

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Altenew Cube Builder Stencil Two Ways

It's Wednesday, halfway through the week!  Today I'm sharing two cards featuring Altenew's Cube Builder stencil.  This is one of those products that made me think "why didn't I think of that?"  It's such a genius design, and you guys know I love everything geometric.

I was so anxious to use this stencil it really did not sit long (unusual for me!).  I inked up two backgrounds, one in cool blue/teal colors and the other in warm yellow/orange.  I also used two different methods of inking.  The blue/teal was done with my usual method (Tim Holtz inking tool and distress ink), the yellow/orange was done with Clarity Stencil Brushes.

I actually created these panels the other day when I was hanging out with my crafty friends JJ and Tessa,  Tessa brought her brushes so I could try them.  They are really high quality, I was surprised at how big and heavy they were.  They took some getting used to, when I first tried them the hairs on the brush kept slipping under the stencil.  You get a softer less crisp look with these.  I think the main benefit would be if you want a really soft background sometimes that's harder to achieve with the blending tools, and also you're less likely to get those hard edges that you sometimes get with blending tools that you have to work like the dickens to then blend out.  I liked them, but they are not on the top of my wishlist just because they are a little more expensive and for the most part I can use my blending tools to achieve a similar look.

For this first card I kept things clean and simple, just trimmed the stenciled panel down, added a mat and then the sentiment which was created using Altenew's Bold Alphabet die set (incidentally I love these alpha dies, they are not cheap, but between these and my Journaling Alpha dies for Neat & Tangled, I might be set on alphabet dies), and their Label Love set.  To add a little more interest I popped those items up.

For the second card, to mix things up a bit, I trimmed the inked panel down to get an interesting shape, and then adhered it over a darker cardstock panel to give it a nice pop.

Same M.O. as the first card with the Bold Alphabet dies and Label Love set, but I thought the black was too much a contrast, so I used white for the dies and stamped the label with Lagoon ink.

What do you think?  Which do you like best?  I seriously can't recommend this stencil enough it's SO MUCH FUN!  You're definitely going to see more of it!

*Affiliate Links Below

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Thank You for Altenew Challenge

I have been dying to use my new (meaning I've had it for at least six months and haven't used it yet) Floral Drape stencil from Altenew and when I saw this month's Inspiration Challenge figured it was the perfect time.

For this card I traced a portion on the stencil onto some watercolor paper with a pencil, and then painted it with watercolors.  Then I used a Versamark pen to add some accents which were embossed in gold.

My original plan had been just to use watercolors, but I didn't get the intensity I wanted, so I ended up going back in with my Prismacolor pencils to pump up the volume so to speak.  I really love the combination of watercoloring and pencil coloring.

The sentiment is from the Floral Shadow stamp set.  Normally I don't emboss on embossing, but I actually started this card over at my friend JJ's house.  This is her Judikins gold embossing powder, it's a little thinner and lighter and has a bit of texture to it.  For the sentiment I used regular Ranger gold, which is a bit darker, so I thought the contrast would be OK.  I also used my MISTI and embossed twice to give it a puffier look.  Finally, to make sure it stood out enough, I added a bit of gray pencil around it to give it that pop.

To finish the card off, I added a bit of AC glitter paper and popped the panel up over it.

*Affiliate Links Below:

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Blooming Box

I'm back with another card featuring my new Open Box Die.

This time I chose to fill the box with flowers from the Bloom set.

The flowers were colored with Copics and placed in the box with varying layers of foam adhesive to get a more dimensional look.

That big bold sentiment is also from the Bloom set.

Short and sweet today!

*Affiliate links in text to Neat & Tangled store, below to Ellen Hutson.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

CAS Open Box Christmas Card

Hey everyone!  Today I thought I would share a quick and easy, interactive, Christmas card featuring my new Open Box die.

The box was cut from kraft paper and then assembled.  Unlike the cards I created in this post, for this card, I adhered the box putting those little triangular flaps on the inside of the box since I knew the flaps would be closed.

The box was adhered directly to my white panel and I tied it closed with some twine.

As you can see the box flaps don't completely come together when closed, there's a little sliver of space between the flaps, but it still works as a closed box.

When you open the box, here's what you see inside, a bunch of those cute little coordinating images from Beary Merry that I colored with Copics.  So fun, right?

The sentiment is from Elfs and Their Shelf.

That's all for me today, hope your week is going well!

Breaking news - just wanted to let you guys know that there's a pretty good sale going on over at Ellen Hutson right now.  A bunch of items are 50% off (no code required, just put them in your cart and the discount will show).  One of my favorite EH dies (silver linings) is included along with a bunch of other Essentials by Ellen products as well as a lot of Concord and 9th and other goodies, definitely worth a look!  Affiliate link:

*Affiliate link is text to Neat & Tangled store, below to Ellen Hutson.