Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Snarky and colorful nature

I can't believe today is the last day of April. I think part of my denial is that expectation would have the weather much nicer than it has been. The forecasters continue to try to pinpoint when precipitation will hit and how much. My prediction is much more accurate: The forecasters will be wrong!

I think Mother Nature is snarky, don't you? I'm not picking on her, I identify with her. Sometimes I do things just to prove someone wrong, usually when they are smug sure of themselves. I have an acquaintance who is becoming increasingly annoying with finishing other people's sentences. Since this takes place in a setting where I don't feel like confronting her, I usually overlook it but every once in a while I change what I was about to say when she interrupts. This is a hypothetical example of what I do when she gets to be too much:

Me:  I bought a new pink dress to wear to the event and did my hair
Her: (interrupting) held back with the silvery clips you like so much
Me: No, I dyed my hair with grape Kool Aid and looked fabulous

Don't you just love Dame Edna?
Mother Nature, when feeling snarky, hears the forecast and sends the opposite, just to prove expense equipment is no match for her power. Speaking of Mother Nature and her need to be right, who is old enough to remember the Chiffon margarine commercials?

The ads ran through most of the '70s, Chiffon was discontinued in the early 80's. 

I'm not fooling Mother Nature, but I am having fun depicting nature. I had another pair of classes last Saturday, one featuring Copic markers and a new technique, the other class was a combination of markers and Prismacolor pencils. Here is a tree top:

Same technique, same colors on a different tree top. The trunk was die cut, using Memory Box's "Grand Willow Tree"

The second class featured stamps from Penny Black's "Garden Friends" collection. They were scanned and enlarged before printing them to color. I didn't like the mouth on the bunny on the left so I didn't repeat that on the right. The only other difference between the two samples is that I didn't add a drop shadow to the images on the right.

I'm a sucker for ladybugs. Red ladybugs, not the invasive orange ones that aren't true ladybugs and are a problem in some areas.

Colorfully yours (and wishing for warmer, drier weather),
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Friday, April 18, 2014

Anniversary card

Good friends of ours are celebrating their 45th anniversary. Isn't it nice to hear of couples being together that long?

They have a good sense of humor so making them a card with these characters from Art Impressions won't be insulting. I had the idea of having Edna (stamp #1241) outside and Oscar (#1239) indoors for a number of reasons, one being that our friends have just returned to Michigan from Florida. Our "Edna" is happy to be outside in our current weather, but "Oscar" is likely to be huddling inside near a space heater, waiting for the temps to hit at least the upper 70s.  I used the stamp called Curtain Window (#4234) to make the window for them to see each other while being apart.

I stamped the characters and window images onto plain paper, scanned them, enlarged them slightly and printed them on paper that was suitable for coloring with Copic Markers. The paper I used was Bella's Best Paper by Stamping Bella.

I cut white cardstock in 8.5 x 5.25 pieces, scored them halfway, and glued them together to make 4 white pages. I cut a sheet of yellow cardstock to make the outside cover for the card.

I used a variety of Copic colors on the images, then fussy cut them and glued them in place. I played around with placement to figure out where the window would go so that his head could be seen while the pages with Edna were being viewed, and hers would be seen while looking at Oscar. I used a variety of adhesives, Xyron, a tape runner, and Sookwang tape, guessing at what would work best for each application.


The words were done by computer and cut with Stampin' Up punches. The scalloped oval punch is also from Stampin' Up.  The flowers were doodled, colored, cut and glued into place when I decided that blank spot needed something.


I wanted the front of the card to be simple. Before gluing the yellow cover in place, I used an edge punch to make the scalloped edge. The Happy Anniversary greeting was done on the computer and printed on a yellow and white background that doesn't show up well here. I used Spellbinders Nestabilities Labels Four (#S4-190) on a Sizzix Big Shot to create the medallion. After deciding the first view needed something, I outlined each layer with a fine tipped black liner pen. See the hiccup? It was too late to start all over. Darn it. Oh well. 


I haven't heard from the anniversary couple yet, but I'm pretty sure they are going to enjoy the card. I had a lot of fun making it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mother Nature, happy birthdays and Minions!

There is no 800 number to call Mother Nature and complain about the weather she delivers. Doesn't matter. If there was a compliant hot line it would be down due to overload anyway. The midwest already has snow on the ground and we're expecting an inch overnight. Is it coincidence that unwanted snow is due to appear on April 15th, the day so many hate because of the IRS?

Birthday happiness continued this weekend for my relatives. The young man who received the bottle of cash (see previous post) was thrilled with his gifts from everyone, including clothing. Not many boys at the age of 9 are happy with clothes, but this young man was. He was also happy to get a small yard (leaf) blower. Not a toy, a real one. And the gift that almost brought tears to his eyes was a Kindle Fire. After opening all of his guests, he proclaimed this year as his "Golden Birthday" because it was the best ever. Wasn't that sweet and also wonderful?

Lastly for today, do you know who Minions are? You do if you are a fan of Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2. I love the Minions. Make that I LOVE the Minions! Here they are as seen in the movies:


There are lots of them with many different personalities, all with one or two eyes behind some form of goggles. If you are a fan of them and follow Pinterest, you will have seen edible versions made of Twinkies and cookies, clay and paper renditions, and appropriate for this time of year, Minions made from eggs. Some use dyed hard boiled eggs, others use plastic eggs, which is what I did.

Many sites suggesting using black electrical tape for the goggle band. Cutting a piece thin but even wasn't easy so I used a Sharpie marker. I had a silver Sharpie that I used before the googly eyes were glued on with glue dots. I experimented on a green egg first to make sure the marker wouldn't smear. The purple egg was also an experiment. In Despicable Me 2, most of the Minions are turned into hairy purple beasts for a brief spell. A smooth purple egg just didn't work for this. That's ok. He can be a Minion with a skin condition. 

I goofed on the guy with the three eyes too. He isn't an official Minion. He is a Minion wannabee. Now if they would only work for me the way the movie Minions work for Gru, I'd be ecstatic. I'm pretty happy anyway because when my grandson saw them, this conversation followed:

Colton: "Hey! Where did you get these guys?"
Me: "I made them."
Colton: "You made them? Wow!" 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Birthday gifts

It has been a birthday-filled week in my extended family, and here is what has had me busy:

My sister-in-law loves alpacas and llamas. After making a giraffe fence sitter for her daughter last year (see that here) and then a giraffe and a lion for our grandson (here), my sis-in-law teasingly asked for an alpaca for her fence. As far as I know, there aren't any patterns for an alpaca fence sitter, so hubby and I made our own.

Unless you have a strong fondness for alpacas and llamas, you probably only have a vague image in your mind when someone mentions these animals. To make a caricature of an animal, you need a feature to focus on such as the giraffe's neck or the lion's mane. Figuring out how to create an alpaca on flat pieces of wood was a challenge.
Llamas and alpacas have teeth that grow continuously and need to be filed. I wasn't about to include them. They have shaggy or woolly coats that I could only hope to indicate by dabbing paint onto a white background with scrunched up plastic wrap. 
There wasn't much color in this project so I decided Al (he was known as Al Paca while here) needed to chew on a flower. I bought this stem of artificial whatever (gardening isn't my strong suit) and hubby dug out (routered?) a channel on the back side of the snout before it was glued and nailed in place. The hooves aren't anatomically correct but we'll claim artistic license on this. Hubby wanted to be certain they would hold on the wooden fence so we used the pattern  piece from the previous animals.

My sis-in-law and I are members of a knitting group that meet at a yarn store. We sit at a table, but beyond the table and behind a row of shelves is a seating area with leather furniture. I placed Al and a birthday card on one of the chairs for her to discover as we wandered around, looking at new yarn. Here is her reaction:
She is happy. Al is now in a loving home. Hubby and I are happy for both of them.

Tonight our clan will be together for a birthday dinner for one of my great-nephew's, a grandson of the llama lover.  The birthday boy will be getting cash from us, but I didn't want to just stick money in a card. Why not stick it in a bottle instead?

Based on something I saw on Pinterest, this is how I created his gift:

Remove the label from a bottle. Save it for a template or just take a quick measure for the new label you will make. There is likely to be some label and glue that won't come off easily. Don't worry about it. Wash a plastic bottle and set it upside down to dry. I did mine after cutting the flap in it but that shouldn't matter.  Crumple money that will go inside.
Here is the flap that I cut in the side of the bottle. I used a craft knife. I started with a kitchen knife but a craft knife is much easier. Whatever you use, be careful!
I knew I was only going to put money in this, but if you plan to put something larger inside, cut the flap to accommodate the largest thing you plan to put in the bottle but keep the cut within the label area so that you can cover it up. In other words, I would have made the U shape cut with taller uprights on the U going around the bottle if I was going to put a model car inside.

Here is the bottle with 5 one-dollar bills crumpled inside.
Sometimes thinking artsy-fartsy-let's-use-up supplies-on-hand gets me in a bit of trouble. A 12x12 sheet of scrapbook paper does not fit around a 2 liter bottle. I cut the strip 5" wide and taped an extension on. The pattern didn't line up. Oh well. Once I glued the letters on, I decided they didn't stand out enough so I outlined them with a pen. The paper is textured so that didn't go as smoothly as planned.
Here are views of the finished bottle with 25 singles inside
I taped the birthday label on using a tape that is new to me, called Sookwang. It is double sided, super sticky and permanent. I mean PERMANENT! There is no chance of repositioning it. Of course the label ends didn't match up perfectly. It was less noticeable at the top for some reason, probably due to the pattern. I stuck a green tag on the bottom with our names on it.

If you like this but worry that you aren't crafty, make it easy on yourself and use wrapping paper for the bottle label. Regular tape should be fine for holding the label in place. I taped the flap before adding the label cut it probably wasn't necessary.

If you don't have enough items to fill the bottle, use some shredded paper as filler. I am pretty sure the birthday boy is going to be amazed and wonder how I got the money inside the bottle. It would be more amazing if I had an item in there that couldn't possibly collapse to fit through the neck of the bottle. I'm thinking that the next adult birthday that requires a fun or amusing gift might get a bottle full of bottles: airplane size liquor bottles, Tums, aspirin, etc.

I hope you have fun with this idea!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Having fun!

After my last two posts, one might think I'm avoiding the news for peace of mind, but sometimes news can't be avoided. Crime has hit twice close to home. Short of unplugging completely and not talking to neighbors or fellow citizens of our community, there is no way to avoid these tragedies. This is not to say they should be ignored, but the constant dwelling on bad things is what concerns me. Someone close to me is worrying me with their near obsession of all things bad. I try to remind them that there is much good in the world that goes ignored, sometimes because it is simply nice and normal. Nice and normal doesn't make newscasts.

Until I am granted super powers that would enable me to disarm evil forces, fight for truth and justice, all while wearing a real cool outfit, I remain Super Gigi with the power to love fiercely and craft endlessly.

Super Papa didn't want his picture here so he was cropped out. Cropping is another power I currently possess.

A few things I've been working on need to remain under wraps until they are presented to their intended recipients. I can share one card that was made for a fellow knitter who is owned by two poodles. Yes, I said that right. They own her, not the other way around. 

Self striping yarn is something knitters often use to make socks that look like we've really worked hard when actually the way the yarn is dyed does the impressive part. Here is an example of what one brand of yarn looks like in the skein and how the socks work up. Both photos are from the Red Heart website.

My poodle loving knitting buddy doesn't knit socks. Her feet are never cold. This makes no sense to me but since I'm being non-judgmental, I overlook this.  She has used self striping yarn though.

My card to her depicts a poodle made of self striping yarn, worked in sections as a real pattern might do if you were to knit a poodle.

With two knitting projects going, working on a birthday gift and making cards for few more upcoming events, the mojo that was lost is now humming a happy tune.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pondering my wandering mind...

All is well in my part of the world so why have I felt vaguely unsettled for so long?

I was not sure what "finding your mojo" meant, but I think that is what I needed to do. I say this based on one definition that finding your mojo means finding (or rediscovering) the magic in what you do.

I was raised to be polite. Nothing wrong with that. Like many women my age, I struggled saying no to things that I didn't really want to do and felt that I need to explain myself if I did say no. Somewhere in my 40's I realized that men don't offer elaborate explanations. Heck, they don't explain the No at all unless asked by someone they think deserves an explanation.

Life perked along more easily for a decade or so with this new freedom. People close to you, the people that matter, won't judge you and those that will are likely to find fault with your performance when you say Yes anyway.

Yes, life was perking along happily and then blogging and Facebook happened to me. Most blogging and most of Facebook is fun for me. Like everything else in life, it is what YOU make of it. Unfortunately, I took some things to heart that were not directed specifically at me but they bothered me anyway.

It is fine with me if someone votes, worships, reads, name it...differently than me. What I don't like is when someone makes flat statements that my choices, beliefs, etc are wrong. Not just wrong in polite words but wrong as in morally corrupt, utterly stupid, or in a few cases, vulgarly worded epitaphs of what people who feel as I do should do to themselves. You get the picture.

Being raised to be polite and taught to be careful of what I put in print, I rarely (very rarely) responded to things that offend me online. I know how to SOB (scroll on by) from years on message forums. Why was this different? Because some of these people are close to me. Sometimes their remarks hurt. Sometimes I am embarrassed and fearful for them. It made me sad and agitated. I spent way too much time in mental conversations that would never take place for a variety of reasons, but gave me a chance to have my say. Did that make me feel any better? No.

I stepped away from a few blogs, hid a few people on Facebook and unfriended a few who were really toxic, and I watch less network news. There are some people who send me emails that I can't completely block, but I don't need to read the 15th forward of something that supposedly supports their stance yet a simple Snopes or similar check proves that there isn't a shred of truth in their "facts".

I can't say that I'm never agitated by people at times in my daily offline life, but it is easier to let things go that don't affect me personally now that I've let go of the online turmoil I was carrying around. You know the Southern phrase "bless your heart" and its meaning? Michigan isn't in the south, but I do live in southeast Michigan so I quietly think that phrase and move on.

More crafts, less crabbiness = a happy Knitty. Long live a peaceful, happy mojo!