24 February 2014

Cardmaking Monday: Painted Wood Veneer

Among the many things I collect in my studio, one of my favorite little things is wood veneer.  I regularly forget to use it, though.  I more often reach for enamel or sparkly bling instead because I just don't always want the brown on my cards.

So this week, I played with painting my wood veneer to see whether that seemed like a hassle or whether it made me happier to use the veneer.  Totally easy to do and it creates such a great different texture.  Loved it!

You may also notice that I had a week of butterflies... ;-)

 I used Adirondack paint daubers in white to cover the greeting.  It almost looks like a diecut in the pictures, but there is definitely more dimension in person.  The stamped butterfly and punched border are from Martha Stewart, and the papers are from my Studio Calico card kits, so I can't tell you who makes them.  (sorry about that!).  The veneer sentiment was also from one of my SC card kits, but from a while back.

This butterfly was so much fun to make!  A totally different concept as the focal point rather than as an added bit.  The butterfly is from My Minds Eye, and I have a bunch of them that I planned to use for one of my classes.  Now I am thinking I will keep them and make a series of butterfly cards!! 

I painted with Tim Holtz distress paints in Mowed Lawn, Iced Spruce and Tumbled China.  I pretty much just dabbed until I liked the effect.  These papers are from this month's SC card kit add on, as is the stamped sentiment.  The enamel dots are My Minds Eye and the border sticker is from Echo Park.

So my only problem now is that I am finding that I really enjoy too many of my supplies.  One of these weeks, I am sure I will find a dud!!  Until then...... Have a great week!

12 February 2014

Cardmaking Monday (whoops, Thursday!): Printed Chipboard

I have to admit that this week's cards were not an experiment.  I LOVE printed chipboard.  Love it, use it constantly and would have a hard time living with out in my cards.

This past week has been so busy with my sweetheart son's birthday celebrations that I haven't had the space to try a new technique or supply.    But I had a great time pulling out my newest collection from Pebbles and making some pretty things. 

I hope you you enjoy the long weekend commemorating some of our our great US Presidents!

11 February 2014

Healthy Mom, Happy Life: My Great Uncle Sleep

I have decided that sleep is like your weird Great Uncle who you only see once a year.  You KNOW you are supposed to love him and respect him and pay deference.  But at the end of the day, you really think you would be perfectly fine without him. 

Experts say sleep is critical to human beings' health and well being.  It makes us smarter, helps us lose weight, reduces our stress, gives us more energy...  And let's face it-- we are all just a bit nicer when we are well rested, and the world needs nicer.

My life has been a constant internal battle with my need for sleep versus other priorities.  I spent my most of my life convinced that sleep was for the weak.   I made no apologies for my all-nighters spent writing term papers or doing homework or staying up with the baby or working until 2am and returning to the office at 8am.  These were battle scars proving that I am living a full life, right?

In 2013, I began to recognize the truth of my need for sleep.  In October, I challenged myself to not just sleep more but to sleep differently.  Instead of staying up until all hours to write articles and emails, prep my classes, or make door decorations for my childrens' classes, I started going to bed earlier and getting up at 5:30am.  Until October, I only saw 5:30am if I had to catch a flight or had just not made it to bed the night before yet.  

And I fell in love.  With sleep.  With being rested.  With being sane and calm and clear.  I found out there is a reason we have that crazy uncle and that paying him his due deference would make my life so much better.

So this is what I have learned about me-- and maybe it's true for you too:

1.  I need at least 7 hours of sleep to function properly.  When I get less repeatedly, I believe that I am okay, but I am really not.  I become foggy, impatient, overwhelmed and fat.  Nothing good comes from less than 7 hours of sleep.

2.  I should not work at night.  I considered myself a night owl my whole life, and after 10pm, I still often get a sudden burst of energy.   I have learned that energy does not equate to competence or efficiency, though.  If you are like me, and you are constantly fighting against a too-long to do list, competence and efficiency are paramount to feeling good every day.

3.  I should not snooze my alarm.  This one took a while to figure out.  In my bleariness of early morning, I always am tempted to have 10 more minutes.  But what I have learned that it makes me MORE tired to snooze than to get up.  Getting out of bed takes about 2 minutes to get the groggy out.  Put in contacts and sneak out to my studio, turn on the lights and I am awake.  If I snooze the alarm, even after I wake up, my body is thinking it should still be sleeping.  It takes me a solid 10 or more minutes to get un-groggy and at least a half hour to stop being really angry at having to be awake at all.

4.  I need to play in the morning if at all possible.  This is also counter-intuitive.  I have always believed that you work before you play.  But in reality, playing in my art studio or doing some other fun, by myself activity, revs me up for my entire day.  Some people work out (and maybe that will be me someday!) or read or watch the morning news.  Making cards gets me in the mood to have an awesome day.  I am a better mom, a better wife and a smarter, more energized person if I begin my day with joyful activity.

So that's what I know. Are there any other rules that you abide by with sleep that help you live healthier and happier?

05 February 2014

February Art Challenge: Watercolor Painting

January's monthly art challenge was to use my stencils.  They were an easy start to the year, as they required very little stretch-- just some time to give to something I already pretty much knew how to do.

This month is different.  I am working with watercolors, and I have no idea what I am doing!!!!

I have loved watercolors since I had a Crayola set of 8 as a kid.  I was given a set of tubes of watercolor when I was in high school, but I never found time to use them.  I took a watercolor workshop this summer, so I had to purchase actual proper tubes of watercolor, good cotton paper, squirrel brushes, etc.  I made a significant investment based on my teacher's instructions, only to find that I didn't like the class (aka teacher) and didn't have a space in my studio to stretch out and test out my new toys.

So here is my first painting.  Not too bad for a first try from someone who doesn't know how to use watercolors or how to draw!!!  Reminded me of why I love the medium-- makes even the least of us look ok!

This month will be hard-- both in terms of the actual painting and the pre-painting work of creating space for this type of art.   I love the feel of watercolors and the fact that you can work quickly with them, but it seems to require much more planning than is my norm with art.  But that's what my monthly challenges are about-- to stretch and grow and figure out more about myself as an artist.  Wish me luck, and if you are a watercolor artist, please send me any tips so you don't have to look at awful work all month!!  :-)

03 February 2014

Cardmaking Monday-- Hand Stitching on Paper

Hello, everyone!

My apologies for disappearing last week.  Our household went down with illness, and I had to put on my mom superhero cape to try to take care of my little guys (while secretly wishing I could just go to sleep and feel better myself!)......

Back to cards... A few years ago, I taught a paper crafting class to elementary school children.  I made these die cut egg cards and got us some Sew Easy tools and all this embroidery floss so the kids could make decorate the eggs with different colored floss lines.  Apparently, unbeknownst to me, sewing is no longer part of the art preschool curriculum.  (Doesn't EVERYBODY sew some yarn on paper to make a little paper pillow??  Was that just my preschool?!)  Anyway, my kids had a very hard time doing it, the class was a disaster, and I ended up sewing about half of the kids' eggs for them. 

That was, as you can imagine, the last I have touched those Sew Easy needles and embroidery floss.

So embroidery floss and hand-stitching made its way onto my list of 52 cards this year.  Is it REALLY worth the time and effort??  Or should I donate those tools and make some room?  That was the question of the week.  :-)

I was absolutely certain I would want to throw in the towel on these things.  Too much time, not enough bang for your buck.  Too country for my tastes.

Until I made this very simple card and fell in love with it.

It definitely took more time to do this than to stitch with a sewing machine (or my personal favorite, which is to not stitch and make dashes to make it look like stitching!).  But holy cow does it have a big impact when I use it in my own way, in my own style.

I don't think its a tool I would use on a 12x12 layout, as it always is lost on me when other people do it.  But in small doses, when it can have a large visual impact, I absolutely love this.

So unfortunately for my shelves, they will have to keep another tool on hand because I have fallen in love-- FINALLY!!