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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tea for Two


This is just a quickie today to share my lovely Mother's Day gift from my darling daughter which was a lovely English tea at a local tea room yesterday.  

We had to walk a couple of blocks to get there from where we parked as it was in an older section of nearby Plano, and we passed the original Plano High School (now the administrative building for the Plano School District) which had a historical marker in front (which my sweet baby stopped to read).  We love old buildings like this.

The day was warm with a cool breeze, just perfect for English tea which was served in three courses: tiny sandwiches, breads (including scones, Devonshire cream and strawberry jam, of course) and dessert, all miniature bits of sweet and savory goodness.  Now here's the catch - of course one plans on eating every bite because after all, it's TEA for gosh sakes with little bites of this and that.  So HOW did those Victorian women manage to have such "snacks" and still fit into their corsets?  This, of course, including copious cups of different teas, one type for each course, all served in and on lovely mixed and matched floral china.

HOW, I ask you, as we struggled to poke in one last bite of dessert.  HOW did they consume these foods and still have those ridiculous 19" waists?  I'll bet there was some serious unzippage going on after their guests left.  I know there was in my car on the way home.

As it was, we couldn't quite finish and had to take a couple of tidbits home with us.  Just a couple.  We gave it all we got.  As we pulled in the driveway we got to giggling and had to take one more picture.  Happy Mother's Day to me!


Along with the good (above) I have to share the bad and the ugly.

Whaaa...who me??

What was left of my handmade Mother's Day card.  The bows were the binding.

She spent hours on this card.

It WAS beautiful.
I cried, my daughter laughed, and she took all the pieces home to resurrect it into another card which I will share on another day.

Happy weekend!

Friday, May 16, 2014

StampNation Tutorial - Custom Ribbon!


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Today's tutorial features a product that I haven't played with nearly enough but that was featured to great extent at the 2nd Annual StampNation LIVE! retreat which I attended a couple of weeks ago (and which you can read about here) - that product is Gelatos!  Gelatos are a waxy, waterbased substance that has a myriad of design and coloring possibilities.  Its lipstick-type nature lends itself to grown up scribbling after which there are lots of blending possibilities, and the colors are rich and vibrant with lots of wow factor.  Today I'm using them in a softer way - coloring seam binding ribbon to coordinate exactly with any papers you choose.

I hope you'll join me to learn more about how to get the exact colors YOU want on your ribbons!

1)   Members go here.

2)  To learn more about StampNation, go here.

3)  Become a member right now, go here.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Queen of Ever'thang

Hello and Happy Mother's Day!

I hope you are all taking good care of yourselves today and being taken good care of whether you're a mother to children, pets, your plants, whatever.  It's YOUR day!

As is our custom, my daughter and I are spending the weekend at my mother's house (remember the wonderful English cottage garden?  You can see it here.) and are having a wonderful time.  We went "thrifting" and antiquing yesterday (jackpot!), and then last night we saw Johnny Rodriguez in concert.  This little town sure has some big names coming through.  Granted, he's from a different era (my generation as opposed to the NOW generation), but nevertheless, he's one of the biggies.

And now to the project at hand, the one I couldn't share any earlier because my mother reads my blog every day.  Sorry, Mom.  :)

What do you think?  It's the second time I've painted on a mixed media canvas (the first time was here), and I'm quite enjoying it.  It is my goal to paint roses in a decorative fashion (as opposed to a realistic fashion), and I'm starting to feel more comfortable doing so.  

There is a lot of symbolism on this piece, starting with the music notes I stamped onto the colored base layer (I used Neocolors this time).  They're ever so faint, but music is a big part of my mother's life.  Country music from the good old days, not that modern stuff that passes for "country" nowadays.  It plays all day in her house. 

Flowers are another biggie as evidenced by her fabulous garden.  She grows so many kinds of roses, both modern hybrid teas and fragrant antiques.  I have normally given her plants every year for Mother's Day - it was a big tradition for me while she was building her garden.  Roses, hostas, you name it, I probably gave it to her; however, she doesn't do the heavy, hard planting anymore and instead is directing her attentions towards her art, so this year will be the first without a live plant.  Instead, she gets the painted rose which will bloom forever.

 As a side note, I used to grow a very similar rose.  It was a modern hybrid tea and I don't remember the name, but here is a picture which looks exactly like it.  Alas, it was too finicky and no longer resides in my garden.

Two of the digital stamps are from Gecko Galz, and I honestly can't link directly to them because I think they were freebies that Leanne gave to us at the retreat (referenced here), but you could always contact Leanne through the Gecko Galz site (here) to see if she does have them for sale.  I LOVE these images, especially the woman's face, both of which are perfect for Mother's Day.  The "Mother" word has a crown on it because, as today's title states, my mother is the queen of everything.

I added a bit of blush and lipstick with Copics as my mother never EVER leaves the house without her makeup on.  I should be so dedicated.  And the wooden butterfly was painted with shimmer paints to match the rose.  Butterflies are thick as thieves in her gardens.

This soft, vintage image is part of a free collage set that you can obtain over at The Graphics Fairy.  It was designed by my friend Heather Hudson and is featured on her painted canvas blog post here.  It's perfect because my mother had two children, me and my sister.  

By the way, all images were printed onto tissue paper for that soft, see-through effect.  I love how you can see some of the background stamping through them. Card stock is just too thick and heavy for my purposes.

The words "my friend" were printed from my computer, also on tissue paper, and edged with Stickles.

When I had all of the painting done and the images decoupaged, I knew this piece needed something else, something 3-D, and definitely something dangly.  My mother almost never makes a piece of art that something isn't dangling from it somewhere.  So Mom, here are some danglies for you.  At first I thought I'd do a "necklace" but I didn't want to cover the lady's face with it, so then I played around with the vintage chain and it struck me - a charm bracelet!  The first charm is a frog because my mother used to collect frogs, but some years ago she said, "NO MORE FROGS."  Sorry Mom, just one more.  The flower charm of course symbolizes her extensive flower gardens.

Next come the scissors for the woman who sewed nearly all of my clothes as a child.  She also made some of the most fabulous quilts you've ever seen, many of which grace my home.

And of course a heart.  She puts at least one heart on every single project she makes, whether it's quilts, mosaics, paintings, etc.  I don't think I've ever seen her make something that didn't contain at least one heart, if not more.  Because of her, I ♥ hearts.

I made the centerpiece and in-between charms with my various pearls and beads.  The little key (another heart!) was silver but I colored it with a copper Copic marker.  I rarely use silver, and copper looked better.  My mother has always collected keys ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper.  And last but certainly not least, the flamingo.  Why?  Because a few years ago I said I was going to put a flamingo in my front yard for a little bit of tacky fun, and being who she is, my mother made me a huge one, mosaiced in pink and sporting a stylish ceramic bow on her neck.  You can visit Fanny the Flamingo here.  I am now known as "the house on the corner with the flamingo in the front yard."  I truly think this is the ONLY cool yard flamingo out there - nothing tacky about this one.

I will be entering this piece in the Gecko Galz challenge which is all about Mother's Day, and also in the Frilly and Funky challenge which is to use a single word as a focal point.  Hopefully this one qualifies!

So thank you for joining me today - it was long but, well, that's how I roll.  I'm chatty.  And I like lots of pictures.  Here's wishing all you moms out there the most wonderful day that's focused on YOU!  And for my own mother?

I you, Mom.

Happy Mother's Day!

P.S.  I was on a rose painting roll, and I had a tiny 1" wooden heart, so I painted it for my daughter.  It looked fine until I saw the close up photo.  Clearly I need to work on my vine painting.  I know she'll love it regardless.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mother's Day is fast approaching...

...but I'm ready this time.


I'd like to share with you a card that I made a short while ago.  I made it at the fabulous Gecko Galz retreat in mid-February (which you can read about here) and was saving it for the PERFECT occasion, which I think Mother's Day is.

I was the ONLY person who made a card at the retreat.  Talk about a newbie.  Everyone else was making fabulous albums out of the materials we were given, but my poor little pea brain just drew a complete blank, so I stuck to that which made me the most comfortable in such unfamiliar surroundings (craft retreat), a card.  At least I gussied up the heck out of it.

The image comes from Gecko Galz "Sleeping Beauty," and I edged it with glittery embossing powder along with this wonderful glammy sparkly yarn stuff that was included in our supply packets.  (Leanne, the founder of Gecko Galz, does not skimp on supplies and freebies with which to craft at her retreats.)

Also part of the supply packet (everyone chose a different theme) was the wonderful organza ribbon, this gorgeous blue rose, the jeweled piece, all of the papers and the metal flower thingie underneath the rose (which I touched with a bit of clear glitter).  There was so much but I couldn't quite include everything on this card.  I'll make an album next year. 

Here's a picture of the embellishements up close and personal.  As there was so much yummy, blingy goodness on this card, it was a wee bit too much for the blue base cardstock, so I cut the front off and attached it to a kraft layer that I cut just a tad larger than the standard A2 size, thereby turning a card into another card.  I used the leftover panel (formerly the back of the card) for the inside mat.

The sentiment was printed on my computer.  This is a saying that a lovely Brazilian neighbor used to tell my mother many, many years ago when my father was stationed in Rio de Janeiro.  I was seven years old, and this lady and her family lived above us in the apartment building, and on many evenings he, a concert pianist, would play beautiful tunes such as "Strangers in the NIght," "Moon River," etc. and she would sing.  Lydia (pronounced "Lee-ja") had a wonderful voice which would soar out their window over our ground floor courtyard, crooning us to sleep on many occasions.  (Do women "croon?"  This one did.)  Ahh, memories.  (Her husband also gave us piano lessons.)  

At any rate, this is sound advice to all women when we're tired and stressed.  Give the baby to the husband, put the dog outside, call out for dinner and go relax.  And be beautiful.

By the way, pardon what appear to be smudges on this layer - I had to photoshop out my message to my darling mother-in-law before posting, and I will be entering this into this month's Gecko Galz challenge, which is "Mother's Day."

Thank you so much for joining me, and I wish all mothers out there a wonderful, happy, and pampered Mother's Day.  

Relax, and be beautiful.


Gecko Galz - Mother's Day

Monday, May 5, 2014

StampNation LIVE!


On Friday we reached our destination - the Second Annual StampNation LIVE Crafting Retreat in Raleigh, North Carolina hosted by the founder of StampNation, Catherine Pooler.  

We had, in a word, a FABULOUS time.  Fine, it was three words, but suffice it to say I'm surprised I managed to take any pictures at all because there was so much going on.  There were demonstrations of new products and new techniques by the lovely and talented Design Team, there were door prizes, there were lots and lots of freebies by the sponsors, and of course there was the main reason for going - the fellowship with the other crafters, many of whom I met at last year's retreat and know online through our subscription to StampNation!  It was well worth the 2500 mile round trip, I promise.

So without further ado, the rest of today's post will consist of just a few of the many pictures I managed to fit in.  

My lovely traveling companion.  She didn't work on paper crafts, she brought her jewelry supplies and made things for our Etsy shop.

Kristie, teaching a new (to us) Gelatos technique.  Messy, but fun!

Maureen was working with several media including Distress Markers and Distress Paints.  Yes, the lady on the left (Elaine) was wearing her blingy mouse ears.  She had been to Disneyworld on her way to the retreat.  

This is Heather.  I don't remember what she was teaching as I somehow missed this class.  I do know there was lots of laughter in her corner of the room.  She's a hoot with a fabulous sense of humor.

Our lovely Catherine Pooler, who was also teaching some crafty fun with Gelatos and embossing paste.  Look at that smile - the woman can't take a bad picture!

This was the project that I made and gave away in the free raffle on Sunday.  It's a canvas on which I stamped, decoupaged printed tissue, colored with Neocolors, stenciled (with colored gesso and then sprinkled with glitter), and hand painted.  The rose was my very first painted rose for the public eye.  Up until now I had just been practicing on paper at home.

Sorry about the lack of clarity - my hotel room had awful lighting and this was as good as it got.  The "bubbles" are because I painted it on tissue that had been decoupaged to the canvas.  I always get bubbles when I use tissue for decoupage.

Let's just say the rose is "textured."  

A close up of the glittery stenciled area.

This was a little dangly that I made with some wire, a few of my daughter's beads, and a snippet of a paper doily which I had first inked, embossed in gold and applied glitter around the outer edge.  A coral pearl centered it.


And our annual ham-it-up picture with my good buddy Kimie from Virginia.  There were shenanigans before this picture was taken - this is our "ladylike" pose.  

Thank you so much for joining me on this week long vacation.  The trip back was uneventful except for the fact that we outran the tornadoes that hit the Mississippi/Alabama areas.  We drove through where Alabama was hit about 6 hours before the tornadoes started touching down, completely oblivious that storms were approaching.  Thank goodness for guardian angels.

Have a wonderful week - happy crafting!


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- Become a member right now, go here

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Biltmore continued


We continue our visit to the historic and grand Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.  I showed you a peek at the tulip garden yesterday and today we'll pop into the enormous greenhouse of several rooms including the wildly extravagant Orchid Room.  Now I've never known much about orchids, and the care and raising of them seemed like too much trouble to me, but WOW.  I never knew they came in so many colors and shapes!  It almost seems worth all the fussing about them.  (Click on the pictures to enlarge.)

But first a few more pictures outside...

Look at this color - I've never seen pansies quite so vivid and bright!

Another lovely tulip.

And still another.  These images are not photo shopped except for clarity and sharpness.  These are the true colors of the flowers.

So far only one peony was in bloom.  Peonies are yet another plant that do not fare very well in Texas heat, so this was a special treat for me.  I've always heard of the legendary fragrance of peony blossoms so I couldn't wait to bury my nose in this one.  Well, um, they don't ALL smell pretty.  This one was decidedly pungent. <ahem>  But the jam packed tissue thin dozens of blushing pink petals made up for her lack of sweetness.  

And here is the greenhouse, orchid house, jungle house, hot house with a potting shed that had me drooling.  This structure is the size of a small neighborhood and the glories within are a sight to behold.

The fragrance inside was divine.  Note the Easter lilies in the foreground.  There were other lilies as well and their perfume permeated the entire room. 

And now for my favorite room...

...the Orchid Room.  These greeted us the moment we walked through the door.  I nearly jumped when I saw them - they don't even look real.  Blue orchids?  Really?!?  And they are huge, too, about 4 inches in diameter.

Look at the patterns.  Wow.  

I find myself using that word a lot here.

These look like fairy bells or butterflies.  I couldn't get close enough for a good close up as I figured climbing up into their planter would be considered bad form.  But I thought about it.

How about this one?  My darling traveling companion was spooked by it - she said it looked as though it would eat meat.  I had to agree.  But its form is fantastic.

Another gorgeous specimen.  The pink veins look just veins.  

More pretties.  I just love the ones that look like clusters of butterflies. 

I bet this one's name is Leopardus Orchidus.  What a beauty.

If it hadn't been so hot and humid inside the room I'd have gotten even more pictures as there were so many varieties, but the heat chased me out eventually.  Still, I was left with the brief urge to take up orchid growing.  It was very brief.  I can't handle the heat and humidity that these babies require, not to mention all the extra fuss.  Plants in my queendom have to be tough on their own.

And so ends this portion of the trip.  Thank you so much for joining us.  Tomorrow we reach our destination, the second annual StampNation retreat!

Happy trails!