Thursday, June 29, 2017

Presents and ice cream

Here they are at last: the final two cards I made at the craft retreat way back in April. Whew! I really expected to have shared all of these much earlier, but I wasn't able to spend as much time blogging as I anticipated. But better late than never, right?

So to wrap everything up, here are a couple of fun birthday cards. As it turns out, both of these cards were also part of a color challenge I completed during the retreat. The retreat organizer selected three colors that I had to use (in ink and/or card stock), and I could add in whatever neutrals I chose. The first card has a more masculine color scheme, and the second is a bit more feminine.

Supplies (all Stampin' Up! unless otherwise noted):
Stamps: Build-a-Cake (Close to My Heart)
Paper: Whisper White, thick Whisper White card stock; Sea Glass, Peacock card stock (Close to My Heart)
Ink: Sea Glass, Peacock, Saffron (Close to My Heart)
Accessories: White crochet thread (DMC), Mono Multi liquid glue, Glue Dots, Dimensionals

As you might guess from the name of this stamp set, Build-a-Cake, these pieces were designed to build a fancy layer cake. But when I looked at them, I saw presents, so that's what I made. I stamped each image multiple times on white card stock using the three colors from the challenge (Sea Glass, Peacock, and Saffron) and hand-cut the images. I paper pieced a few of the images to create multi-colored presents and then glued them to a piece of Peacock card stock in three stacks. I mounted the panel on Sea Glass card stock and used Dimensionals to attach the entire piece to a thick Whisper White card base.

Since this color scheme had a more masculine feel, I didn't want to add a lot of fancy embellishments. (No sparkles! Sob!) So I tied some white crochet thread into three small bows and used Glue Dots to add a bow at the top of each stack. I had enough stamped images left over to make another card with this same design - I love when that happens!

Supplies (all Stampin' Up! unless otherwise noted):
Stamps: Sugar Rush - Scrapbooking, Cricut Artiste Collection Birthday, Curlicue Alphabet (all Close to My Heart)
Paper: Whisper White, Chocolate Chip card stock; Raspberry card stock (Close to My Heart)
Ink: Raspberry, Goldrush, Lemon (Close to My Heart); Chocolate Chip, Crumb Cake
Accessories: Liquid Glass (Close to My Heart), corner rounder, Layering Circles Framelits dies, Dimensionals

This color combo -- Raspberry, Goldrush, and Lemon -- had a more feminine feel to me. But rather than using the colors to make a girly floral card, I decided to make three fun ice cream cones with chocolate sprinkles. I stamped the images on Whisper White card stock and cut them out -- the cones by hand and the ice cream scoops with Framelits dies. (I was happy to discover that they were the perfect size for one of my Layering Circles dies.) I adhered the cones to a piece of Whisper White card stock, layered it on Raspberry card stock and adhered the panel to a Chocolate Chip card base with Dimensionals. I added a Chocolate Chip banner over the cones and covered the sprinkles with Liquid Glass to give them a little texture and shine.

To play off the ice cream images, I wanted to add a "sweet" sentiment inside the card, but the one included with the stamp set, "Life is sweet," wasn't exactly what I was looking for. So I created my own sentiment. First I inked just the word "sweet" from the sentiment stamp using Raspberry ink and stamped it slightly above the middle of a layer of Whisper White card stock. Then using a small alphabet, I stamped the words "Hope your day is" with Chocolate Chip ink. I think it turned out pretty well, but can you spot my little boo-boo? I accidentally stamped the letter s in "is" upside-down. Oops! I don't think it's too noticeable, though, since the word "sweet" is really the focal point of the greeting.

And that's the end of my craft retreat cards! Thanks so much for stopping by!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Floral papers in the spotlight

In my last post, I mentioned that I had two cards left to share from my spring craft retreat. Well, as it turns out I actually have four cards. So I'll share two today, and two in my next post, and then I'll be ready to move on to newer projects. Today's cards feature a couple of different layouts with floral patterned papers.

Supplies (all Stampin' Up! unless otherwise noted):
Stamps: Essential Messages (Hero Arts)
Paper: Berry Burst card stock, Pocket Blossom Stack (DCWV)
Ink: Berry Burst
Accessories: Delicate white doilies, burlap ribbon, clear Wink of Stella glitter brush pen, cup sequins - Baby assortment (Craft Medley), Tiny Attacher (Tim Holtz), Glue Dots, corner rounder

This is a very clean and simple layout, but I love the pattern on this paper and wanted it to be the focus of the card. I also love how well it matches Berry Burst, one of Stampin' Up!'s new In Colors -- probably my favorite so far -- so I used that as my card base. To add a bit of embellishment to the paper I wrapped a piece of burlap ribbon around the card front, tucked in a small piece of white doily and attached the ribbon to the card with two tiny staples. I also added three fuchsia sequins and, although it's difficult to see in the photo, painted Wink of Stella clear glitter on the dark pink flowers in the paper.

Supplies (all Stampin' Up! unless otherwise noted):
Stamps: Delicate Details
Paper: Basic Black, Calypso Coral, Very Vanilla Old Olive card stock; Pretty Petals Designer Series Paper (DSP) Stack
Ink: Calypso Coral, Old Olive
Accessories: Secret Garden Framelits dies, Shine & Sparkle sequins (Hazel and Ruby), Wink of Stella clear glitter brush pen, Itty Bitty Shapes punch pack, corner rounder, sponge, Mono Multi liquid glue

The Pretty Petals DSP Stack is another favorite of mine, and this layout, which I found in an idea book, gave me a chance to use several of the prints in the pack. I love the bold flower print with the smaller, monochromatic patterns. For the focal image, I die cut a couple of Calypso Coral flowers and a branch of Old Olive leaves and sponged the edges with ink to add some depth. I used two mini Very Vanilla scalloped circles for the flower center and painted Wink of Stella on the top circle. Three sequins and a strip of stamped lace finish off the card.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A bit of inspration

I know it's been a few weeks since I've shared any cards, but that's about to change. I still haven't posted all the cards I made at the craft retreat back in April (was it that long ago already?), so here are a couple of cards that feature inspirational quotes or sayings as the focal point.

Supplies (all Stampin' Up! unless otherwise noted):
Stamps: Book Club (Papertrey Ink)
Paper: Crumb Cake, So Saffron, Whisper White, thick Whisper White, Basic Black card stock
Ink: Memento Tuxedo Black
Accessories: Flower Fair, Layering Squares, Stitched Shapes Framelits dies; Liquid Glass (Close to My Heart); Itty Bitty Shapes punch pack; Dimensionals; Mono Multi liquid glue

This is a pretty straightforward card, so I'll just give you a couple of tips about the daisies. The die I used to cut the flowers has five petals, so I cut two of them for each flower and layered them together, offsetting the petals. I glued a So Saffron card stock circle to the center of each flower and coated it with Liquid Glass to make it shiny. I gently curved the petals up and attached the flowers to the card with Dimensionals.

Supplies (all Stampin' Up! unless otherwise noted):
Stamps: Plot Twist (Taylored Expressions), Geo-Graphic (Paper Smooches), Choose Joy (Papertrey Ink), Delicate Details
Paper: Soft Suede, Crumb Cake, Baja Breeze, Very Vanilla
Ink: Soft Suede, Crumb Cake, Baja Breeze
Accessories: Burlap ribbon, Tiny Attacher (Tim Holtz), corner rounder, sponge

I used stamps from four different companies on this card, which is something I don't do often. But I think it works well here. I used Soft Suede for the card base and layered on a piece of Crumb Cake card stock that was 1/4" smaller than the card base on three sides. I stamped background dots along the left side of the Crumb Cake card stock and sponged all the edges with Crumb Cake ink.

The pocket is Baja Breeze card stock with a lace image stamped across the top and faux stitching drawn along the other three sides. I also stamped a Soft Suede heart in the lower right corner. I sponged ink along all four edges of the pocket, but it still feels a little plain to me. I think I also should have stamped it with a texture-style background stamp, such as a linen or denim. What do you think?

Here is the tag that fits inside the pocket. I stamped the sentiment and sun accent on Very Vanilla card stock, trimmed the top corners at an angle and sponged the edges with Crumb Cake ink. Instead of adding a tassel, I took a small piece of burlap ribbon and stapled it to the top of the tag.

I could have attached the tag to the front of the card and used it as the focal point that way. But I really like the idea of having it be a separate piece. This way, the recipient could use the tag as a book mark, attach it to the fridge or tuck it in the corner of a mirror to have a frequent reminder of the encouraging message.

It might be fun to have a whole stack of pocket cards, without the tag inserts, made and ready to go. Then when I wanted to send one I could just stamp an appropriate message (or image) on the tag, place it in the pocket and write my message inside. I'll have to file that idea away for future stamping projects.

Alright, I think I have just a couple more retreat cards to share, which will be my next post. And then I'll start on more recent cards and projects. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 16, 2017

The beginning of the garden

We've had our garden all planted for about about a week and a half, and so far everything is progressing nicely. I'll do an update in a few weeks, but before I can do any updates, we have to have a starting point. And here's where our garden started:

Ugh. Dandelions, creeping charlie, and dead stuff from last year. And I think this is even after I had done a bit of "clean-up."

And here we are after lots of weeding and tilling. (Except for the back flower patch by the alley. We tackled that the day after this photo.) We decided this was good enough and laid down some black fabric-y weed barrier. Then we added all the cages and towers and got to planting.

Starting in the bottom left and going clockwise, we have rhubarb, cauliflower, cucumbers and Swiss chard, beans, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. And of course the strawberries in the corner.

Our chicken-wire fencing and stakes are looking a bit worse for wear. This is the third summer they've been in the garden, so they're a bit weathered and wobbly. We had originally planned to redo the fence this year, but we got such a late start that we didn't want to spend time messing with the fence. Once the garden is filled with vegetables, you won't even notice the fence, right?

Here is the cauliflower. We haven't tried growing cauliflower before, and from what we've read it can be a bit sensitive. This is cheddar cauliflower, so it will be orange instead of white. Side note: The rhubarb, to the right of the cauliflower, is huge. Some of the leaves have to be at least two feet wide.

Here are the cucumbers, which will grow up the trellis, and the Swiss chard growing below. In the background are the eggplant (by the upper left corner of the trellis) and then three tomatoes: San Marzano, Mr. Stripey (my sister found that plant at the farmer's market and had to get it) and then black plum.

And here we have our two bean towers. We planted a variety of different beans, so we should have lots of pretty flowers and, if the past is any indication, thousands of beans. Behind the bean towers and to the left are three peppers (tangerine dream, chocolate sweet pepper and lady bell). Near the center of the photo is the eggplant again.

This is a view from the back of the garden.

And here's the flower patch by the alley. In between the hostas we planted prairie blazing stars, and on either end we planted echinacea. We also planted sunflower seeds all along the fence. There are a few milkweed plants growing in this patch, too, although we had to pull out several that were covered with aphids.

There you have it! It was a lot of work, but now that everything is in the garden, I'm glad we did it. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Great Strawberry Expansion ... and our first harvest

Three years ago when we moved into our current house and first planted a garden, I really wanted to try planting strawberries. So we bought a pack of four small strawberries plants along with our garden veggies and planted them in a corner of our new garden. They didn't do well for a variety of reasons. A large neighborhood bunny population. A fence that didn't keep out said bunny population. A couple of good storms. And so on, and so forth.

The old strawberry pots, empty so far this year. That little area is being overrun
by the raspberry bush.
The next year, two years ago, I wasn't sure if we should try growing strawberries again. But then I remembered that we had two very large pots that were sitting unused in the yard, and I figured, why not? At least the pots would keep them off the ground and safe from the bunnies. So we moved the pots next to the garden and planted four more strawberry plants.

The plants did pretty well in the pots, although we didn't get many berries that year. They did produce off-shoots, or runners, that grew over the edge of the pots and planted themselves in the corner of the garden. "Hey, look at that," we said. "The strawberries are growing outside of the pots." We didn't think much more of it.

The "Mary Berry Patch." All of the plants with the rounded leaves are
strawberries. The raspberry bush is in the back along the fence. The taller
plant with long leaves in the lower left corner is milkweed, which we leave
for the monarch butterflies whenever possible.
Until the next spring, which was last year. The strawberries didn't come up again in the pots, which really didn't surprise us. We were surprised, though, that the strawberry plants reappeared in the garden. And not just in the little space where they'd planted themselves the year before. They'd spread and basically taken over the whole corner of the garden.

We affectionately dubbed that corner our "Mary Berry Patch" (fans of The British Baking Show will appreciate that). The plants did well in the garden, and we even got a few strawberries here and there.

 Fast forward to this spring when green things were finally starting to poke out of the  unfrozen ground. Lo and behold the strawberries have continued to grow along the outer edge to almost the
middle of the garden. The Great Strawberry Expansion.

Creeping Charlie and dandelions keep popping up in the middle of the
strawberries, and it's tricky to pull the weeds and not the berries.
Silly strawberries. They had runners trying to grow even farther along the edge of the garden, but we redirected them to head back the other direction since we do want to grow a few more things than just strawberries in the garden. We did consider digging up some of the strawberry plants from the end and moving them back to the corner, but honestly with all of the other weeding and planting to do, that was an extra chore that I didn't feel the need to tackle.

Our first garden harvest
The berries are certainly flourishing, though. We noticed early on that the plants were full of flowers. And then there were lots of baby strawberries, more than I remember seeing in previous years.

I waited (maybe not so patiently) until some of the berries were nice and red and finally picked these four -- our first harvest (before the rest of the garden was even planted). Truth be told, they probably could have used another day or maybe two to ripen, but I was afraid that if I waited too long, the squirrels or birds would find them first. And they have a terrible tendency to pick something, take one bite and then just leave the rest sitting on the ground. (I mean if you're going to take my food, have the courtesy to eat all of it. Or at least don't leave it right out in the open. Seriously.)

We've picked several more berries in the last few days, and we even have the rest of the garden planted. I'll be back soon with more garden photos -- and cards, too! Thanks for stopping by!