Saturday, August 27, 2011

And the Winner Is...

So while I'm sitting here, in between loads of laundry and cleaning house and waiting for a hurricane to come, I decided it was time to announce a winner.

Seriously... I wanted ALL of you to win my 500th post giveaway! You were all so sweet and kind to comment so favorably on my art and the formal dissing of my Inner Critic. I really wish I could give everyone a gift... but since that isn't feasible, I put all the names on slips of paper...

folded tightly three times and mixed thoroughly.

Then with eyes closed

 ... reached out and chose a slip...

Only what I thought was one slip turned out to be two! So congratulations to Sian of From High in the Sky and Karen of Random Reflections - you are my winners! Now I need to gather my inspiration...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to My Birthday

Remember here and here and here when I introduced you to my best girls as a prelude to telling you all about my birthday trip???  And here where I gave you a sneak peek at my weekend, at the same time I was absorbing the news of my soon-to-be-unemployed husband?  Then life just happened and somehow I never came back to the birthday get-away.  Here today to rectify all that!

I had created a cute little mini travel album before I left for the weekend, via instructions from Ali Edwards' Scrapbook on the Road class (self-paced, immediate download).

 Album closed - I made a three hinged cover.  Used patterned duct tape for my book binding. Not perfect, but I'm embracing imperfection, so it's all good!
opened with front flap still closed.  All the pages are bound together with the bind-it-all and then the back page was firmly glued to the inside of the cover.  It was my first time using the bind-it-all and I made a LOT of mistakes. The pages don't turn well, but the keepsake is still just as precious!

Our destination was beautiful Cape May, NJ.  And it was the only vacation I got this year!

My best girls had set me up with a pin proclaiming my upcoming 50th birthday, a tiara, and a timer.  Turns out every time the timer went off, I was given a gift.  This went on all weekend.  Guess how many gifts I received???  yep, FIFTY!

We started with lunch locally at The Perk.  And of course, they had the staff sing Happy Birthday to me.

Then we hit the road. And the gifting continued throughout the road trip there - nearly 3 hours!

saw these beautiful irises on the second morning after a very early stroll on the beach.

on the left, the pin I wore all weekend.  On the right, our group at breakfast on Day 2.

Me on left.  If you look really closely, you can see the tiara.  My sister Deanna on the right.

Krystal on the left, Rachel on the right.

 The gifts throughout the weekend were each preceded by a note, photo, or small scrappy layout from the giver, telling me something she loved about me.  These all went into a 2-up photo album as received, so that at the end of the weekend, I had a precious album telling me 50 things my friends loved about me!

Deanna's notes were all mini layouts (her first attempts at digi scrapping were fantastic!) and her gifts were charms for my Pandora bracelet - each representing what she loved about me.

Rachel's notes were all photographs with text added and the gifts were fun, quirky, silly things, ranging from chocolate chip cookies to an electric outlet, meant to represent in some way the specific memory her photo described.

Krystal's notes were notes - handwritten little love notes - each accompanied with a gift that ranged from a 3 ring binder full of scrapbook sketches to a camera strap to cute colored binder clips.

When you combine all of their contributions together, the album is one of the most beautiful, meaningful, and treasured gifts I have ever received.

In my little travel album, I jotted notes each day about what we did and how things went. I had created the album with pockets ready to hold my journaling!

Being sung to at dinner. I blush well.

Day Two was crammed with touristy things - a spa massage, visiting the lighthouse, shopping, and some time on the beach.  We finished it all off with pizza and pool (billiards) back at the bed and breakfast.  Maybe someday Krystal will get me those pool photos!

The pockets were also perfect for the memorabilia I picked up along the way.  And knowing that I was creating this quick little album made me more conscious about grabbing the brochures!

Day Three was basically breakfast and heading home. One Crazy, Quick, Exhausting, but truly memorable weekend with my best girls.

Big Idea Festival - Free

When you have some "free" time, don't forget to enter my 500th post giveaway here!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Another She Art Canvas

Made this one for my mother's birthday.  Now that she's seen it, I can post here!

 That's a real bird feather peeking out of her hat! Found in the front yard and sprayed with purple mist.

I had two inspiration pieces that I used in creating this one.  My inspiration for the tree can be found here with many thanks to Junelle, and my inspiration for the dress can be found here with many thanks to Eniko since I completely lifted the jacket design from her! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Big Idea Festival - Nest

Saturday's word for the Big Idea Festival was "nest."  At first the word left me stone-cold stumped - totally devoid of any creative inspiration.  But I really wanted to just go with it.  And when I let go, and leaned into my discomfort with the word, the inspiration came:

My inspiration for the tree came from here. The page is a mixture of watercolors and acrylics and highlights and shadowing with Pitt Artist Pens.

The inspiration is totally appropriate and timely.  As I was creating this page, Sarah was busily packing for college.  Today she left.

I'm really happy for her because I know how badly she wanted to go - how ready she was to fly the nest - and I totally understand and empathize. She is so ready to be an adult and to take the world by storm. And I'm sure some sharp recruiter will snap her up before graduation.  Any employer would be lucky to have her.  But I miss her already.

Today marked phase two of a three-phase return to "normal."  Phase one occurred a week ago when Jay returned to work.  Phase two was today.  Phase three occurs one week from now, when Rachel and Becca return to school.  Today was the hard part. A week from now the heavens will open and choirs of angels will sing and I'll be doing a happy dance the likes of which you have never seen (and probably you'll be grateful for that!).

Don't forget to sign up for my giveaway here!

Friday, August 19, 2011

My 500th Post - Meet My Inner Critic

I've been blogging since October 2, 2008 - nearly 3 years. But I haven't always been a prolific blogger - and definitely not an every day without fail blogger.

But here I am today, nearly three years later, publishing my 500th post.  And if you are someone who likes to do the math, you'll quickly figure out that 500 posts over just shy of three years comes out to just about one post for every two days. And wow! That surprised me. I didn't expect it to be that high.

So how can I mark my 500th post?  What can I do to make this one special? Honestly, I wasn't coming up with anything exciting. Nothing seemed good enough. I tossed aside ideas about polls. And lists of 500 things. And then I realized... my Inner Critic was being loud and obnoxious and I just needed to hush her up. So for my 500th post I'm introducing you to my Inner Critic. And then, just to spite her, I'm doing a fabulous giveaway.  So keep reading!

I've been aware of my Inner Critic for a long, long time. I think most of us are. But I never really took the time to get to KNOW her until recently. I've been reading a book called Journal Spilling by Diana Trout (I did not realize until I was reading the book, she actually lives about 45 minutes from me.)  In her book, Diana introduces her Inner Critic - a short skinny geek with ugly bug glasses who wears his pants too short and his tie too tight. He's a very cartoonish fellow named Stewie. The lesson Diana offers is that when you get to really know your Inner Critic, you take away his/her power.

My Inner Critic is nothing like Diana's.  First off, she's decidedly female. She is 5'6" (the exact height I always want to be but never reached) and physically fit and toned. She wears the classic never-goes-out-of-style clothing and always looks polished and put together. She never leaves the house without makeup on. She never looks frumpy.

We share an affinity for good food, but she is satisfied with a bite or two whereas I am a certified card-carrying member of the clean plate club.

She is the kind of woman who keeps an immaculate home, makes a living, is a supportive spouse and loving mother, yet still finds time for creative pursuits, and does it all with flair and makes it look easy.  You know... the kind of woman you love to hate?

And because this is all natural to her, she expects it to be natural to me as well.  She scoffs at my awkwardness and discomfort in social situations. She reacts with total scorn at my sticky kitchen floors and cluttered counters. In fact, she is really quite judgmental.  Nothing I do is ever good enough for her. You see, we also share a complete lack of tolerance for incompetence and laziness... and she considers me to be both.  (if you've ever watched the show The Gilmore Girls, she's eerily similar to the character Emily Gilmore as played by Kelly Bishop - see what I mean?)

Honestly, her whole "Martha Stewart" persona and "holier than thou" attitude are quite annoying. In fact, as I've thought more about her, I realized there is nothing AUTHENTIC about her whatsoever. She's just a construct of societal expectations and consumerism. The perfect middle-aged woman of 2011. A total phony. And she's doing her best to peddle her wares on me.  Thing is, I've decided I'm not buying it anymore. It is time to tell my Inner Critic to stuff a sock in it and kick her to the curb!

My no make-up, yoga pants and tee look is far more authentic. My messy home speaks of the real life and real activities happening here. The fact that I am too busy to clean obsessively - I guess that is a good thing!

To celebrate my 500th post AND the occasion of me finally telling my Inner Critic to shut the hell up, I'm offering a give-away!  One lucky blog reader will receive a mixed media canvas art from me (on a canvas panel which can be framed or used as is) designed specifically for the winner.  My Inner Critic is yapping away that nobody would really want my "art," it isn't good enough, the winner will surely be disappointed, blah, blah, blah.  I've firmly clapped my hands over my ears and am singing "la, la, la, la, la, I can't hear you!" at the top of my lungs.  I'm taking the chance and I'm going to do this!

If you would like to participate, please leave a comment telling me your happy color(s), any favorite quote or saying you have, or any other hints that might provide me with inspiration for your piece!  I will choose a winner on Friday, August 26th from all the entries received by then.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Big Idea Festival - Give

Today's word was "Give".

My layout is totally digital.

background paper and winged clock from ScrapbookGraphics "Impressions of Time" collab kit. The hand was sourced here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Big Idea Festival - Less

Wednesday's word, "Less", sparks a real chord with me.

A couple of years ago I started the process of decluttering. My closet and my dresser have been thoroughly cleared of anything unnecessary or unused. It makes it so much easier to dress in the morning!  Although you might not know it to look at my scrap space, I sold and gave away more "stuff" than you could begin to imagine. And I honestly haven't missed much of it (the only things I miss are the formerly totally unused stencils and stamps that I got rid of before I embarked upon mixed media).  Owning "less" is truly a blessing. The less stuff you have, the less stuff you have to clean up and around.  Less clutter = more calm.  Less stuff = more time to play.  Less definitely IS More!

In keeping with the "less is more" idea, I kept this layout very simple. A splash of watercolor, inked edges, a single embellishment.

Big Idea Festival - Wonder

The word of the day prompted not one, but two layouts today! Plus I created an intro page for my mini album:

BPC supplied a download for the title square - the rest of it was simply inspired!

Page 1 with today's word "Wonder" - totally digital.  Life is miracle and magic - oh yeah baby!

Page #2 - hybrid. I printed the template on matte photo paper.  I hand wrote the quote. Used inks, misted with water and blown with a straw for the color splash and filled in with chalk inks at the bottom.  Butterfly was stamped first in red chalk ink and then in black Staz-On.

I was attempting to honor the quote by painting and playing a little today!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Creative Color - A Canvas

In the Creative Color class, Christy took us through a variety of sources for color inspiration.  I used the "Where Women Create" book for my first piece.

For my second piece, I went back to Christy's Day One Color Inspiration piece... a page from Somerset Life magazine.  I was honestly so taken by smitten with this color inspiration that I HAD to own it! So I went out shopping and found a copy at Joanne's Fabrics.  $15 later I was home with this gorgeous magazine and I just loved the ideas and inspiration there!  This is the color inspiration page:

I love the aqua, teal, kiwi color scheme with the splashes of lavender and coral.  This color scheme is not one I decorate with and other than the aqua/teal portion, not colors I dress in either.  In fact, for the most part I don't care for lavender at all!  But somehow this inspiration was just calling my name.

I was also drawn to the crazy quilting effect of the way the author of this page placed all her pieces and knew I wanted to incorporate that look/feel into my piece.

Here is my color scheme chart with the paint colors I chose (I actually had to purchase the first three because I didn't have any of those colors in my stash) and the bits of paper and a snippet of ribbon I pulled from my scrap stash. Not only did I not have any lavender in my paint stash, I didn't have a single bit of it in my paper or ribbons either!

And you can see from the tiny little sketch at the bottom my rough plan for mimicking the crazy quilt layout of elements in the inspiration page.

This planner page was one of the things Christy introduced us to in class. And I LOVE it! I could do an entire Art Journal of nothing but the Inspiration and Planning pages ... because finding the inspiration and then pulling from what you have to match it really is addicting!

My finished piece - a 6x12" canvas.  I still consider myself a novice when it comes to mixed media, but I was SO HAPPY with the way this came out.  Not my colors at all.  I swear it doesn't match any room in my home decor wise. And yet I love it enough that I really want to figure out a place to hang it! I surprised myself with this one.

 detail shots - top center.  The purple paper on the left with the printed butterfly is actually a bit of gift wrap. I traced over the larger one with Pitt Artist Pen (brown) and paint (coral) - the butterfly was orange on the wrapping paper.
Center right - the quote. Love it.
Bottom right - Prima flowers with paint highlights and button centers.  Prima flowers have long been one of my "go to" embellishments and they definitely worked on this piece.

Sorry I have droned on forever about this little work of art. I just really enjoyed the process and wanted to share!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Idea Festival - Share

Big Picture Classes Big Idea Festival starts today! This is a freebie - with twelve days of twelve ideas from twelve of Big Picture's teachers!  You can still sign up here.  Did I mention it is free???  And even if right now isn't a good time for you to participate, the links will always remain in your BPC account, so you can go back at any time to partake of the inspiration.

So, the word for today was "Share."  It is a word I like ... a LOT.  The world is just a better place when people Share, right?

Here is my layout using the share template provided by Amy Tan:

I decided to keep it really simple and just added a quote that really speaks to me.  The quote reads:  "Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared."  Buddha.  

If the inspiration from the Big Idea Festival keeps me going in this direction, I just may be creating a 6x6 album of my favorite quotes!  Which totally goes with the Festival theme - "Words to Live By".  

What is your favorite quote???

Friday, August 12, 2011

Me in My Moleskin & the Scoop

This class was a gift from my blog friend, Kai.  I got started with it immediately upon receiving it and have finished a couple of pages.  It has been slow going since then, but I'm LOVING it! Many thanks to Kai!

I managed to follow the directions fairly closely for the cover.  I had fun making the faux coffee stain with a real mug (since I don't drink coffee or tea I never use mugs!).

But that was about as far as I could get with following the directions.  I can never leave well enough alone...

My photo is bigger than specified, there is no frame around it, I created my own title and used the doilies that were meant for a page somewhere much further back in the book!

I also went through the page prompts and rearranged the entire order.  So after the first few pages, the order of my book will look nothing like the original.  But hey, that's me.  Always making it "my own."

I skipped the doodle version of my "dream" home and used a photo of my actual abode. It is a modest size 3 bedroom colonial, but honestly I no longer yearn for a McMansion with a master bedroom suite and jacuzzi tub like I used to. This home is plenty big enough for me to keep clean as it is!

I'll be sharing more pages as I finish them.  It may be slow going, but I'm really enjoying this little autobiography!

The Scoop:

Did you say you wanted details?  Here goes.  

After two plus emotion-laden roller-coaster months of unemployment, things started happening fast and furious for the hubs.  He ended up being offered not one, not two, but FIVE positions.  It was easy to eliminate the ShopRite stock boy position at $10/hr. He had been applying for stuff like that just to bring in something over and above unemployment in case it went on for awhile. And it was easy to eliminate the six month contract position in Princeton NJ (long commute and not permanent).  

It was a lot harder to eliminate the startup company with tons of future potential.  But the salary would have been ½ what he used to make and absolutely NO benefits.  The offer for #5  isn’t confirmed yet, but we know it is coming.  That one is “contract to perm” so a bit of a gamble. And he lost interest after the third interview.  

He has formally accepted a full-time permanent position with this company. Salary and benefits. He starts on Monday. The salary is a 1/3 decrease from what he used to earn, but apparently what the market is offering these days.  It’s further from home than his last job, but thankfully mostly highway driving.  It still means money will be tight, especially with one in college and two more headed that route in another year.  We are just so grateful that he is employed again!

Call for your discards...

Are you purging your craft room?  Do you have "stuff" you need to unload?  Now that I'm playing with mixed media (and LOVING every minute of it!!!) I would like to have a little more to play with.  I'm specifically looking for rub-ons (especially borders, but any will do), stamps, stencils, mists, ink pads in colors other than black and brown, and any kind of Tim Holtz "stuff" (leftovers from your projects???).  If you have stuff you'd love to unload and are looking for a loving home for it, please consider me! :)  Thanks!!  


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ten AWESOME Things

1. Reading all of my blog friends Ten on the Tenth posts.

2.  My beautiful kitchen after a thorough cleaning by yours truly:
3.  When the heat wave finally breaks and it is cool enough outside to open the windows and enjoy the summer breeze.

4.  Getting happy mail from a blog friend:
Thanks Melissa!

5.  The summer symphony of cicadas and crickets. Really love that sound!

6.  The happy rush when the receipt from Kohls says you saved $248.96 and the amount you spent is LESS than the amount you saved!
Gotta love those 30% off coupons!

7.  Getting a phone call from my favorite sister. She always makes me laugh.

8.  The anticipation of being able to play with all these lovely new acrylic paints - and knowing that they were purchased on sale for a mere 3/$1.00 at AC Moore!

9.  Celebrating twenty-six years of marriage with the man I love:

10. Knowing that as of next Monday that man rejoins the ranks of the gainfully employed! (But that is a story for another post...)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Creative Color - Art Journal Page

The Creative Color class over at Scarlet Lime has had us looking everywhere for color and design inspiration. On Day 1, we were looking at books and magazines and as soon as the concept was introduced, I knew what I just HAD to use as creative inspiration!

Because I had already decided to use this page:

This is from the book "Where Women Create."  As the last recipient of this first round offering from Sian's Pass the Book, I felt a need to make good use of the inspiration - and several of the contributors in this book had spaces that were basically "white". Although this room is a bit cluttered for my taste, I found the white, cream, beige space with splashes of copper and peach (I also picked up some of the tan from the baskets) to be very calming and wanted to try it on an Art Journal page. I also loved the vintage feel with all the lace and sewing notions.

This is the page I created using the color inspiration.  And  to be totally honest, I found creating with the total lack of color to be quite difficult frustrating challenging! Definitely out of my comfort zone.

I'm not 100% in love with the finished product, but there are bits and pieces of it that I really do like:

The background here is actually very old paper from my stash, not real lace. And copper Stickles.
Prima Flowers and a ribbon rose.

Monday, August 1, 2011

One Little Word Blog Hop - August Edition

Hello and Welcome to the One Little Word Blog Hop! If you came here from Monica's blog, welcome! You made it to the right place.  Grab a drink and stay awhile! I love visitors!

If you are a regular reader, you already know the drill! ;) The entire hop goes live at 8:00 a.m. Pacific (11:00 my time) so if you are early, just check back later to catch everyone!

My one little word for 2011 is "happy". I am focusing this year on what it means to be happy, what makes me happy, how mindful I can be about choosing happiness. Happiness has been a bit elusive for me the last two months. I do find it here and there, and staying mindful makes it more likely to notice when I am finding it. And I'm still working on it!  I keep hoping every day to be able to report that Jay has found a job, but so far there has been a lot of promise and nothing concrete. It is quite a roller coaster, but we are hanging on for the ride.

Here's my One Little Word Album page for July:
I really enjoyed the August prompt - finding the music that makes me happy and feeds my soul.  After gathering songs and lyrics, when I sat down to create the page, I decided to go monochromatic (not the "happy" colors you'll find throughout my OLW album) and allow the lyrics to speak for themselves.

Mixed media and my own handwriting make up the bulk of the page.

Here's a close up view of two of the cards.

Thanks for stopping by! Your next stop on the blog hop is Jamie's blog  and here is the entire list just in case you get lost: 

Monica B
Cheri  <----- YOU ARE HERE
Jamie  <----- NEXT STOP ON THE HOP
Monica B1