Thursday, November 30, 2017

November 2017 in Books

A really good month of reading for the most part with one big dud in the bunch.  Lots of books that made me think and some really sweet and wonderful stories as well.  Coming up next for me are a couple of Ellie's Battle Books (the next battle is Friday and this is the first time I haven't read them all in time), The Age of Miracles, and The Sun is Also a Star.  Would love to know what you've read this month!

The Bitter Side of Sweet - Tara Sullivan - juvenile fiction - five stars - About two boys in Africa who look to find work in another country, but are tricked into slavery on the Ivory Coast.  They have given up on going home when a young girl arrives at the camp and she inspires them to escape.  A really compelling look at modern day slavery and exploitation of kids in other parts of the world.  This is a juvenile fiction book and I would let Ellie (in 5th grade) read it. 

Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots  - Jessica Sofer - fiction - four stars - The story of Lorca, a girl who is having a hard time and whose mom wants to send her to boarding school, and Victoria a recent widow.  They are both searching and in doing so find one another through a shared love of cooking.  As they get to know one another, they being to feel they might be connected by more than just cooking.  I enjoyed the book, I thought some of it was kind of contrived and I am not a huge fan of teenage angst (very much not looking forward to the teenage years here), but overall I really enjoyed the story and how it was told.  Some really interesting twists and turns too.

Dear Pen Pal (The Mother-Daughter Book Club, #3) - Heather Vogel Frederick - juvenile fiction - four stars - Another installment of the series that Ellie and I have been reading.  In this book they girls are reading Daddy Long Legs and they have joined with a book club in Wyoming with whom the girls become pen pals.  Besides that, Jess is going to a boarding school, she misses her friends and hates her roommate, Cassidy's family is about to grow, and Megan's grandmother comes for an extended visit.  Just as enjoyable as the rest of the series.

The Life She Was Given - Ellen Marie Wiseman - fiction - four stars - I have read all of Wiseman's books and have always enjoyed them.  She's a great storyteller and here weaves the story of an albino girl who her parents hide her in the attic because she is different.  Eventually her mother sells her to the circus where she ends up thriving.  Years later a woman inherits her parents house and begins to unravel the story.  It was a really good read, but I just didn't like the ending/climax at all and felt a little let down at the end. 

The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey - fiction - five stars - The story of a couple who move to Alaska to escape when they are unable to have children.  They live reclusively until one evening, almost if by magic, they are visited by a child.  She is almost like a stray dog who comes and goes.  They build a relationship with her, but most folks don't believe she exists.  She becomes a big part of their lives and is almost a good luck charm who helps open their hearts to other friendships as well.  Sad and sweet and hopeful.  I really enjoyed this one.

The Luster of Lost Things - Sophie Chen Keller - fiction - five stars - Such a sweet story about a boy named Walter who has a hard time communicating due to a speech impediment, but a huge gift for finding things.  When his mother's bakery loses a special book that brings magic to the store, it's up to him to find it again.  In his journey he meets and helps a series of strangers and finds a way to bring life back to the store.

The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead - historical fiction - five stars - A great book!  It's the story of Cora a slave who runs away.  In this book the underground railroad is depicted as exactly that, a railroad under the ground.  It's kind of an interesting concept that blends historical fiction and fantasy.  Aside from the undergroundness of the railroad, it's a really compelling story describing her movements through the U.S., the attitude towards slavery in different states, the practice of slave catching, etc. 

The Best of Adam Sharp - Graeme Simsion - fiction - two stars - I had high hopes for this as I really liked his Rosie books, but I kind of hated this book.  It's basically about a guy on the cusp of a mid-life crisis and an email from his old girlfriend, the love of his life, the one that got away sends him over the edge.  Basically a bunch of messed up people.  Generally if I get to the end of a book and really don't like any of the characters it's a bad book, right?

Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build Yourself - Bob Pflugfelder - juvenile fiction - four stars - This is one of Ellie's Battle Books.  Nick and Tesla have been sent to California to stay with their slightly wacky inventor uncle while their parents are working overseas.  There are strange things happening in the neighborhood and they and some new friends work to get to the bottom of things.  It's a fun story, and a really easy read that will appeal to boys as well as girls.  There are actually directions for different experiments inside too which are pretty easily duplicated which your kids might also find really appealing.

To Be Where You Are - Jan Karon - fiction - five stars - My mother-in-law introduced me to the Mitford series many years ago, before kids, so at least a decade ago.  All the books are sweet and charming and I've a vested interest in the characters now.  The characters have also aged and many that have been with us for a long time have passed, or are getting to retirement age.  This book deals a lot with that next stage in life for some of the older characters, but lots of hope and new beginnings for the younger set.  For me, Mitford never disappoints and I love to see how the characters are doing.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

O Come Let Us Adore Him

Happy Wednesday!  I've got another Christmas card to share today.  This one features a new stamp set from Simon Says Stamp debuting today called Joy to the World.  

The set includes a whole host of nativity images, but I wanted to focus on baby Jesus.  I started by inking up my panel with a variety of inks.  I used some Distress and one of my dark blue Close to My Heart Inks since I couldn't find the dark blue Distress ink, which is not actually that surprising given the state of the craft room.  

The stable and manger images were stamped on Neenah Solar White and colored with Copics and then fussy cut.  I did use a craft knife to cut out the triangular openings in the stable.  

Both the star and sentiment were embossed. I used Egyptian Gold embossing powder for the star, I like how yellow it is and there are some great glittery sparkles in there as well.  I did emboss the star multiple times to give it a puffier look.

You definitely want to head over to the Simon Says Stamp blog to see more of this set!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Merry Christmas Reindeer

I recently received this Seasons Tweetings stamp set from A Muse Studio.  I thought I would ink it up for a quick and easy Christmas card.

I started by stamping the reindeer on some Primitive Cream cardstock.  I created a mask to place over top of it and then added the trees in two shades of light green ink.  

The sentiment was then stamped over top of the trees.  

The reindeer was colored with colored pencils.  I'm not 100% happy with him, I wish he was a little more shaded/less dark, but I think I just need some more practice with the pencils.

I also added some green accents to the trees to give them a little extra oomph.

I added a couple of mats to the panel and some stitching and then adhered the entire piece to an off white card base.

Thanks for stopping by and hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and a happy weekend of shopping!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday Sales

Hey everyone!  There are lots of great sales happening, and I just wanted to mention a couple that I am affiliated with

First of all Neat & Tangled, 30% off today, and then the percentages go down as you progress through the weekend.  For me, anything over 20% off is the perfect time to pick up those pricier dies that I am always coveting, but not wanting to pull the trigger on.

And Ellen Hutson, EH is offering 20% off all in stock items through Monday using code celebration17.

Here's a special hint for you:  be sure to check out the Hot Buys and Clearance section.  EH just added a ton of stuff there, and your sale percentage will be on top of the sale/clearance price.  In the Hot Buys section there are some great steals on items up to 50% off.  In clearance, it looks like they are discontinuing the whole Taylored Expressions range, including stamps, dies, felt, etc.  They are also discontinuing a whole bunch of Prima Marketing, think their watercolors, as well as Crafter's Companion Colourblend and Aquablend pencils. I linked a bunch of those items below from the clearance section as well as my favorite buys from the Hot Buys section.  You'll need to be quick as many of these items are down to single digits.  Also, if you need any Copics or refills, they are always 20% off at EH, so you'll get an additional 20% off this weekend. 

And finally, not craft related, but there's a fantastic sale at Woven Pear.  They make the cutest socks.  I'm kind of a Plain Jane when it comes to socks, but these are super cute, and I've taken to giving these as gifts.  They are perfect for stocking stuffers and they are running a buy one get a surprise pair free sale today.  I definitely encourage you to take a look!  This is my referral link.  It is supposed to give you 10% off, not positive it will work during this sale, but it's definitely worth a try:

Altenew:  There are all sorts of great discounts happening over at Altenew today, including some of the stamping kits and the Recollections scrapbook kit.

Hope you are able to get some names crossed off your Christmas lists!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ellen Hutson 11th Anniversary Blog Hop

Hi everyone!  I'm excited to be participating in Ellen Hutson's Anniversary blog hop today.  This is a week long blog hop, and we're right smack in the middle on Day 3 right now.  You should be arriving from Laurel Beard's blog, and the entire list is posted over at the Ellen Hutson CLASSroom blog.  Here is a bit about prizes too, because we all LOVE prizes, right:
  • EH is giving away two $100 gift codes to use in the store to two lucky, randomly selected winners! To enter share some comment love at each hop stop on each hop day throughout the week!
  • They are also giving away two $50 gift codes to use in the store to two lucky, randomly selected winners, leave a comment on any or all posts this week!
  • And there might be a few surprise prizes too! So make sure you are following Ellen on Facebook & Instagram!
  • Winners will be selected randomly from posts throughout the week and will be announced on the CLASSroom blog on Monday, November 27th (so enter until 11:59pm PST on Sunday).
Each of the designers was asked to create a card featuring their favorite Ellen Hutson set.  This was a tough choice for me, but I finally settled on Mondo Peony because Mondo + Peony = awesome.

I wanted to try something different for me, so I opted to stamp the peonies on black cardstock and emboss them in gold.  Although there are several flowers in the set, I just used the same one multiple times to create a top and bottom border/frame for my panel.

The flowers were then colored with Prismacolor pencils.  I first colored them in with white and then went back with the colors.  This is the first time I've tried coloring on dark cardstock, and I wanted to make sure the colors really popped, so I went with the white first.  Next time I'll try without and see if it's appreciably different.

The sentiment is from the Plant Ladies Say set and was embossed in gold multiple times to get a more puffy/dimensional look.

Your next stop is my buddy Elena Roussakis.

Happy hopping and for those in the US, have a great Thanksgiving!

*Affiliate Links Below

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Adventure is Calling

I was moving things around the craft room the other day (one of my favorite pastimes) and I came across this panel that I colored during Kathy Racoosin's last 30 Day Coloring Challenge.

I figured I ought to put it to good use.

I didn't want to cover it up after all that work, so I opted for a simple matted sentiment embossed with Liquid Platinum embossing powder.  Both the sentiment and background are from the Topography set.

I still have a couple colored background panels I need to do something with, but first, Christmas cards.....

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