Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hail to the Flag it's the Fourth of July!

I’ve found that most folks are unaware that we have a 4th of July in England – we just don’t celebrate…… My hubby and I live outside city limits so we celebrate with fireworks at home and have a great time. We have a tall flagpole in our front yard, so this year my husband is planning to fly the Stars & Stripes at the top and the Union Jack (the British flag) at half mast. I’m not really sure how I feel about that, but I'm a good sport and have offered to have a tea party on the front lawn complete with scones and jam butties. It should certainly amuse the neighbours………. the flag part, not sure about the tea party – way too hot. Can you imagine sending out an invitation to a tea party on July 4th.... I should sign it "Paul Revere". In case you’re wondering, I still drink hot tea in hot weather, it’s amazingly refreshing apart from the fact that I wouldn’t know how to start my day without a morning cuppa.

I have a real hankering to go to the beach again this summer and dip my toes in the ocean. Not likely though at this point. Maybe after I get back from CHA. I love the beach. It brings back many fond childhood memories of sand castles, sea shells and sailing.

There were always donkeys on the beach where we used to go and Punch & Judy puppet shows. The donkeys are still there, but I’m not sure about Punch & Judy; maybe they were censored for being too violent……

In the meantime I'll have to be content with the grandkids' slip'n slide and sand box. There are lots of sandy beach areas at the lakes around here, but lake water just doesn't do it for me. Not sure about the gulf water either at this point. So sad that it takes a tragedy to make us realize how much we depend on our environment and the things we take for granted.

Have a fun and fantastic Fourth!!

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Do Not Disturb

My grandson peered into the nest yesterday and asked me when the eggs were going to turn into birds. I had to tell him I didn't know. I hope they do - otherwise Nana's credibility will be shot. I googled the subject, but nothing definitive came up, especially since I don't know what kind of birds mommy and daddy are. So, now it's just a question of time and patience. I'll let ya know what happens.

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Do Not Disturb Day 4

Still no twittering from the Christmas Cactus. Mommy bird is definitely a lot more patient than I am. I glance surreptitiously at the plant as I walk by once or twice a day to see if there's been any action yet, but still nothing to report.

In the meantime I'm working on my kits for the Christmas Crafts workshop at the CHA Supershow in Chicago. What! You haven't heard about it! This is a consumer show that follows the annual trade show. Lots of vendors, make it/take its, an all day crop and 2 days of workshops. Check it out by clicking on the banner above. You can see samples of my projects on my website at Click on them to make them bigger. (The photos not the projects..LOL). I'll provide all the supplies you'll need, plus everyone in class will receive an early Christmas present - a Little Yellow Bicycle bag with lots of donated product for you to scrap & craft with. You won't be disappointed! This is definitely not "for the birds".

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Do Not Disturb - 3

I was getting a little worried today that something had happened to "mommy bird". I walk by the plant a couple of times a day and she usually pops out and flies away. I try not to scare her, but I have to let the dog out and water the other plants. No fly bys during the day, but she was definitely there tonight. She blends in so well with the nest and the plant, the only way I can tell she's there, is when I can't see the eggs 'cos she's sitting on them. How long does it take for an egg to hatch I wonder.......

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Do Not Disturb - 2

Well there are still only 4 eggs, so I don't have to worry about re-naming them "the Jackson Five". "Mommy" is being very diligent about keeping them warm, even in 100˚ weather. I wonder how long it will be before they start to hatch. I'm also wondering what kind of birds they are... ideas anybody?

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Do Not Disturb!

When my mother-in-law moved from her home to an independent living facility, I inherited her cherished Christmas cactus which she has had for a really, really long time. Needless to say, I'm a bit paranoid that it might die while in my care - which would definitely not be a good thing - so I check on it every day. I keep it outside on the patio in a corner by the bathroom door, to shield it from the winds and bring it inside in when it gets below freezing.

About 2 weeks ago I noticed there was a lot of dead grass and stuff on top of the soil, under the leaves/fronds or whatever they are. I carefully cleaned it out thinking the wind had whipped up dead grass and it had stuck in the the plant. About a week later there was another big bunch of dead grass and I cleaned it out again.......hmmm. A couple of days later a little of the grass was back, but this time I noticed it surrounded a dark hole and there - in the middle - was an egg! Lightbulb time.

After that, I check on the plant each morning and lo' and behold, a couple of days later there were 2 eggs, then 3, and this morning when I looked, there were 4!!!!

So yes, I plan on doing a "nest check" each morning. We've had nests around the house before, but this one will be so easy to photograph. I hope they all hatch. I've named them already, of course - John, Paul, George and Ringo - birds love beatles, right....... Hopefully she won't lay another egg tonight!

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Designs - Making them Your Own

There was a discussion last week at the Paper Clipping Roundtable about project design and design teams. It reminded me of how I scrapbook and some of the basic things about scrapbooking that I, personally find important. First let me tell you a story about my first tole painting class in 1986. I paid for the class then purchased all the supplies the instructor had listed. A wood surface, brushes, paints, sandpaper, etc. The project was a certain piece of wood, which I didn't like so I substituted it with something else, with a similar surface area. The designs were in traditional Bavarian colors of red, blue, yellow, green and white. My (if it got finished) project would go in the kitchen and these colors didn't work with my color scheme at all, so again, I substituted with colors that worked for me. Ta da! Now I was ready to go to class. I learned how to prepare a wood surface, how to base coat, create an even border around the edge of my wood piece, how to make strokes with the different types of brushes, blend colors and how to seal wood so it would last forever. Now THAT was why I took the class. It was my first and last. From there I practiced what I had been taught and loved every minute. The instructor was actually teaching how to create this specific project, but I was learning all the tips and techniques to go out and create my own projects. And this is what I try to show when I create any kind of a project whether it's for a book, magazine, or the TV show. You may have noticed that I always include the following, or similar statement at the end of my project instructions:
"When choosing papers for your layout/project, look for colors and styles that complement your photograph and personal style.

There's a saying - "give a man a fish and he'll have a meal for one evening; teach a man to fish and he can eat for the rest of his life." I'm paraphrasing, but you get my drift. This is the principle I apply to all kinds of crafts, including scrapbooking. Here are the basics which are important to me about scrapbook page layouts and any other projects featuring photos:

1. It's all about the photograph!
Lime green may be the hottest, trendiest color on the market, but, to be honest, I don't care. I always pick colors that will enhance my photograph.

The techniques featured here were using a photo mat as a frame and coloring the mat by pressing square stamp pads (in 3 complementary colors) around the sides.

2. The photograph is the focal point.
There are some wonderful, wonderful paper designs available for scrapbooking and I admit, I've bought my fair share. Some of them would look great as wallpaper - in fact I think some of them were wallpaper in a past life, but I digress. I use most of these beautiful papers for journal covers, home dec items, or pieces of them to accent a scrapbook page, but they are rarely used as background paper - I don't want anything to detract from my photo. It's like buying a new dress. When you walk into a room, you would like people to say, "doesn't she look wonderful" and not "look at that beautiful dress".

3. Other people's pages are not mine.
Other people's scrapbook pages are very inspirational and many of them works of art. I love looking at them and appreciate the talented designers who create them. Bear in mind that many of them are created by Design Team members solely to showcase a manufacturer's product, but they are "eye candy" for the soul. I just love the projects that Julie Fei Fan Balzer and Tim Holtz create. They are both very "artsy" designers and my favourite magazine is Somerset, which is full of "artsy" projects. I could never in a million years come up with some of the projects seen there - I'm a simple soul, but they do inspire me. Let's put it this way, I can really, really like other people's projects without wanting to do something like that myself. So, when all said and done, take inspiration from many different sources. Cut out ideas and layouts that you like and keep them in a scrapbook for reference, but remember that your page is all about your photo. You will eventually develop a style of your own that is timeless, which in turn will give your albums the cohesiveness they truly deserve. Let the pages tell your story as you tell theirs.

Here is one of my favorite layouts I created for a magazine using a friend's photograph of her granddaughter. The subject of the magazine article was "Spirelli" which is my favorite technique. It's nothing more than creating embellishments with a form of string art, so the layout was to illustrate how Spirelli embellishments can be used on a page.

4. Mat your photograph.
I almost always mat my photographs with a solid color of cardstock. I feel it helps them to stand out against any kind of background.

5. Keep it Simple. You'll have much more fun!

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Everything's Coming Up Roses....and Weeds..Oh No!

I love flowers....... they just don't grow very well here. It gets really hot for one thing so it's very discouraging. Having a flower garden must be genetic. My grandfather grew prize winning roses and my mum loved to spend time in the garden. Every time she planted something she admonished it to "grow with love". I'm not quite so diplomatic. I tell my plants to grow, or else! Sometimes they surprise me and become a joy to behold, for a few days anyway.

I approach gardening with a mixture of fear and trepidation. This is Texas and there are things that lurk in the undergrowth just waiting for an unsuspecting hand to invade their territory. We didn't have things like snakes and brown recluse spiders where I grew up. I literally quake at the thought of discovering either one as I pull weeds from the flower beds, so, I stomp around quite a bit, wear long sleeves and long pants the bottoms of which I tuck into the top of my socks. You never know where a sneaky little spider might end up without the appropriate precautions.

I love to take photos, so a lot of them are of flowers in my garden, wild flowers, everywhere and anywhere. Many of them are still in iPhoto, but I also print a lot of them onto ink jet transparency sheets to use when I make a card. The language of flowers is international and sending a card with a flower on it is a wonderful way to say "Thank You", "Hello", "Get Better Soon", "Congratulations" or "I Love You", etc. You get the picture. The photos can be used just as they are, or sentiments can be easily added in Photoshop, or Word. My biggest challenge is weeding out the best ones..... I love them all, good or bad.

I usually attach the transparency to the front of a card with brads, but I've also used adhesive ink jet transparency sheets and attached the photos to glass. They also look great printed on vellum. Enjoy!

Yours truly,
Julie :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Great American Scrapbook Convention

I missed this convention last year and, since it was 100˚ this weekend, I almost didn't go this year. Sure glad I did! It was exciting to see lots of people on the show floor. Scrapbooking, stamping and crafting in general are alive and well! A great variety of classes, crops and lots of vendor booths with demos and Make It Take Its (MITI) continue to make this show one of the best. And, of course, who wouldn't want to come to Arlington, Texas in 100˚ weather, especially when the convention center is next to the Ballpark in Arlington, Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor. This would definitely qualify for a family weekend getaway with lots to do for dad and the kids while mom shops and crops!

One of the most popular classes was the Michaels class taught by celebrity spokesperson, Jo Pearson, host of "Where Creativity Happens". As I mentioned earlier this year in my report about CHA trends, canvas is definitely "hot" (and not just because it was 100+˚ outside.....). Jo provided each person with a 12" x 12" canvas surface to work on and everyone walked out with a very "cool" altered canvas piece, using paper, glue and a plethora of embellishments.

Altered canvas is a great example of mixed media crafts. You can put anything on it - paint, paper, glue, jewels, charms - everything but the kitchen sink, and I'm sure someone will try that at some point.

Tim Holtz and Darcie were demonstrating on the show floor at the Art Gone Wild booth. Not only can Darcie's artwork be found on rubber stamps, she also has a line of CDs so you download the artwork then print it onto Shrink Art sheets to create the most adorable embellishments.

Tim was demonstrating a wide variety of rubber stamping techniques. What can I say except that I never cease to be amazed at his creativity.

"Everything's coming up roses" and every other flower imaginable. Made from paper, fabric, crochet techniques and whatever else, some booths were a veritable flower garden. This selection was created with Spellbinders dies and coordinating stamps from Heartfelt Creations . The simpler flowers were created by layering graduated sizes of circles. These were paper, but would also look great in a variety of fabrics - organza for example - yummy......

Creek Bank Creations had lots to offer its customers and I just loved this project at....... OMG, I am SO sorry, I do not remember who had this project, but the shadow box is from 7 Gypsies.

Quick Quotes is another company that always inspires creativity. They have a great variety of surfaces to craft with including lots of canvas and great embellishments. See below.

I saw luscious velvet paper at SEI and glitter was everywhere. Stamping Station had adhesive rub ons in letters, words and lots of shapes. You simply transfer these onto your surface, remove the top/carrier sheet then sprinkle with glitter. Rub the glitter into the adhesive, tap off the excess and you now have a perfectly glittered shape.

Sandy Rayburn's booth, Crafty Secrets, was full of eye candy. It's not just the vintage product that she carries that makes it so special, but the projects that she and her designer come up with. I just love this artsy, vintage, shabby chic look - and it's so easy - as long as you have the right product to work with.

And how about a ribbon smoothie to end the day...... creative packaging at its best!

Visiting scrapbook/craft shows and conventions is a great source of inspiration. It's also a great way to meet new friends, learn something new and get information on local stores. There's usually an admission fee, but it's well worth it! Enjoy!

Yours truly,
Julie :)