Monday, July 30, 2007

Whew, what a weekend

The kids and I had a great time with our moms' retreat last weekend. Ben really enjoyed seeing our friends and did better playing with them this year than he ever has. The first night after dinner I was so proud when he told everyone as we were leaving, "See you tomorrow!" Sarah charmed the pants off everyone and wanted to be everybody's friend. She seemed to like playing with the youngest baby, Amy, who is 9 months to Sarah's nearly 15.

One of my favorite moments happened on Friday when we tried to go blueberry picking. We were just hanging out and playing at the playground but didn't realize they closed the picking at 4 and we missed it. At one point our friends Abby and Ethan took both of Sarah's hands and started walking with her - it was adorable. They did want to go a little faster than little Sarah was able. But it was just so cute. We tried to go blueberry picking again on Saturday but it rained a lot that day and so we stayed indoors a lot. We managed to get in about 15 minutes of swimming at the hotel pool in between storms. Ben didn't want to go in the water beyond his knees, but I took Sarah in and she really seemed to love it. I think it made a difference that the water was heated.

I had done two stamping projects for two friends that were part of the retreat. One was a gift for a Christmas in July swap. Our friend Karen is hoping to adopt a baby from Taiwan, so I made her a picture frame with that dream of hers in mind. She really loved it, and I just felt honored to make it for her. The idea was featured in the most recent issue of Paper Crafts magazine.

The other project was a card for a friend's sister who is newly pregnant and horribly, awfully sick. My friend chose the printed paper and asked for "Tuscan" colors. It was a color scheme I'd never used but I really enjoyed doing it. The card went through several iterations, but this is how it ended up.

I've been trying desperately to keep up with the challenges on SCS this weekend. It has been pretty overwhelming with so many ideas coming at me. There is no way I'll be able to make all 36 extra cards. I think they are giving everyone a couple weeks to finish the special challenges if they want, so I'll see how much I can get done. I'm quite tired from the weekend and not feeling so well, so I'll just post my favorite cards that I've made this weekend. Sorry for not having more to say about them right now!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

We're very very busy and we have a lot to do

It's a crazy week at our house. I have been frantically trying to finish a book before the Friday deadline (almost there, whew), I am getting ready to cohost a mini retreat with some friends this weekend, and I have a couple projects I really need to get done this week. But I couldn't resist doing a little stamping today - the SCS Dirty Dozen Fan Club birthday celebration got under way this morning, with the first four challenges of 36 that will come over the next week. I don't know how much I will get to play, but it's a very fun thing to contemplate!

The card I made was for the toile inspiration challenge. I thought my new Carte Postale set would be perfect. The ink and cardstock are Stampin' Up! not quite navy. I stamped the background first on a white card, then cut the navy panel and mounted the stamped images (cut out with a square punch) with foam dots. I tied the ribbon on next, letting the images overlap slightly. Then I stamped the sentiment on a white scrap. The corners are punched out with a 1/2" circle punch. I inked the sentiment panel's edges and mounted with tape so that it would go under the ribbon. Voila! This was really fun to make and I think I will want to try it in other colors.

The kids are great, and keeping me busy as well. Sarah has become a constant imitator of all of us. Any noise or word or action, she will try to do it. She likes helping put away toys, and she even tries to put Tinker Toys together! She is really trying to say a lot of words. She's been working on "strawberry" and can say "meow" and "bow wow" if you ask her what a kitty/doggy says. Ben is... still 3 1/2. We are hanging in there but he's really in a tough phase. I've finally figured out that giving him choices ("Do you want Mommy to put you to bed or Daddy?") and being silly will usually break his bad tantrum cycles. How did it take me this long to figure it out?

I do have a couple cute Ben stories to share, to show that it's not all bad. He has taken to calling me honey - but only when he's correcting me. Like I said something about his Tinker Toy sticks, and he said, "Those are ropes, honey." (I don't know why they're ropes...) I was telling Todd about this and then he said that Ben had called a cashier at Wal-Mart honey. He didn't believe he'd actually heard that at the time, but after I told him my story he realized he'd been right! And here is some encouraging news. I have long been afraid that my sweet boy would never be interested in doing anything for himself - don't get me started on potty training - and we've also struggled with him eating any kind of food with sauce or seasoning, or foods mixed together (he doesn't eat pizza! gasp!). Today at lunch we were having rosemary chicken and rice pilaf that I picked up at the grocery store, and not only did he eat the chicken, he ate it with a fork some of the time! and he used a spoon for the rice! I was beyond excited. And tonight he ate a bit of rather spicy pork, which had been stir-fried with other stuff and so had sauce on it, and he used the fork and spoon again. Progress always makes me feel better. Now about that potty training... sigh.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

You never know what will make a good background

I got up this morning to find an interesting challenge at SCS - to make a card inspired by a menorah, and I chose this one. First I cut the aqua card, and stamped the scrolls in brown. I liked the gold as an accent idea so I overstamped the brown with gold metallic ink. Next I wanted an aqua panel in a lighter shade for the center, but I didn't have anything that would work, so I thought of doing a saran wrap background. But whine, the saran wrap was all the way downstairs, and I wanted to finish before the kids woke up, so I looked around my office to see what I had that might work and saw... a swim diaper! Hm, interesting texture possibilities there. It actually worked really well because I could stick my hand right down in and depending how I crumpled it or pressed certain fingers down, I got a different result. I think it turned out pretty cool! I added a bit of gold over the aqua here and there. Then stamped the pink flowers, brown bird and sentiment, tied on a pink bow, and voila! ETA: If you're linking here from SCS, you might notice I've fixed the bow and added a bit more gold to the stippled background. But I didn't bother redoing it over there. :)

Technical details:
Carte Postale stamps by Stampin' Up!
Bazzill cardstock
Ink: Vivid! coffee bean, Colorbox dusty plum and gold metallic, Ranger Adirondack Lights aqua
Pink organdy ribbon from JoAnn's

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fun with the kids

I had to come back and write about the kids because after lunch they were just really being cute and funny. I already mentioned that Sarah is a climber. We have several kid-sized chairs in the house, and today she was obsessed with one particular chair (see photo). She looked so proud of herself when she got up in it and sat down. Then I noticed she was trying to rock, since some of our other kid chairs are actually rockers - but not this one! She really tried hard. It was so cute. Then Ben had to get in on the action, but Sarah didn't really want to share any chairs with her big brother!

We came upstairs and Ben was doing some stamping, which I let him do with a few stamps and one color of ink at a time, with total supervision of course! You know I'm too much of a control freak to just let him at it. Anyway, when he was done he said he wanted to play a CD, and he knows how to work all the CD players in the house. Next thing I knew he was playing New York Voices and dancing like mad. He loved it! We all were dancing and of course I was singing and we had a blast. It always warms my heart when I see Ben and Sarah interested in any sort of music.

The lure of a new hobby

Why is it that it's so hard to stay motivated to do the work I'm being paid to do, when I would much rather make cards all day? Maybe it's that I stayed up too late last night listing the kids' old clothes on eBay and I'm really tired, or that it's raining, or that the book I'm editing is boooooorrrrrring. I'm really having a hard time sticking at my work today, for whatever reason, so here I am.

I did make a card early this morning, since I still woke up with the chickens. The curse of being a morning person. Maybe the lack of sleep explains why I think the card is kind of blah. Here's the link to the card on my SCS gallery, but I'm not excited enough about it to write about it here! I do appreciate the nice comments I've gotten so I guess some people do like it.

Instead I'm going to post this card I actually made a few days ago, and just put the finishing touch on. This is for Tracy's Happy Place July sketch challenge, which was to make a masculine card with this layout. I used a brown card (precut from Target) and layered green cardstock panels stamped with four different leaves in moss ink. The center is a tan panel that I stippled with saran wrap crumpled and dabbed in brown ink (thanks to another SCS poster - I can't find who you are now, sorry!) and then stamped the sentiment. All the panels are edged in brown. The ribbon is stapled with a copper staple, which I just purchased yesterday. I didn't picture myself using the staples ever, but for this card it needed a little something, but not a bow or a knot so that it wouldn't be too feminine. Todd said the staple looks "weird." But what does he know? :)

Technical details:
Bazzill cardstock
Making Memories ribbon and staple
Vivid! coffee bean ink
Colorbox dark moss ink
Hero Arts sentiment stamp and Poetic Print leaf stamps

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Taking a day off for stamping

Today's challenge at SCS was to use these Stampin' Up! colors: not quite navy (which I have), mellow moss (love it but don't own it), bordering blue (nope) and almost artichoke (not that one either). I really liked the combination so I headed out to see what I could find that was close. The patterned paper in the background caught my eye and ended up being my inspiration.

First I stamped the flowers in navy and colored in with light blue pencil. Then to make the leaves, I stamped the same flowers in bamboo and colored in with green pencil. Some flowers I overstamped with palm leaf ink and colored in more darkly. I cut out all the stamps and arranged as shown, cutting leaves apart as necessary. The sentiment was stamped with not quite navy. All panels are edged with not quite navy and cut with a corner punch. I tied an organdy ribbon through the navy panel before mounting to the paper.
Technical details:
Stamps by Stampin' Up!: Delight in Life (flower) and A Greeting for All Reasons
Bazzill cardstock except for not quite navy by Stampin' Up!
Stampin' Up! ink: not quite navy
Palm leaf ink: Ancient Page
Bamboo ink: VersaColor
Damask paper by K&Company
Ribbon by Making Memories
Corner punch by Marvy

Monday, July 16, 2007

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my first blog post! I decided to give this a try as a place to keep everyone informed of kid news, happenings in my music career, and my adventures in my newest obsession--stamping handmade cards. I can't promise daily updates, but I will do my best to stay current. Check here for photos, anecdotes, and news from our crazy household!

The kids are great. Ben's teachers at school are trying to encourage him to play with other kids, which isn't something he's usually interested in. I hope they can make some progress there. Sarah is getting better at walking and is also showing a strong interest in climbing - and climbing into things. She is constantly finding new little spots to squeeze herself into, as in the photo you see here!

Today being Monday, it was voice lesson day, and my latest project is a Handel coloratura aria called "Tornami a vagheggiar" from the opera Alcina. I didn't realize when I chose this that it's a traditional soprano show piece that requires lots of added high notes and coloratura on the da capo. You know that being showy is not my strong suit so this will be a stretch for me! But it's fun to sing and good for me to push the envelope. I'm also working on the Bach cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, another chance to really challenge myself. I think I need to if I'm going to keep moving forward.

No time for stamping today as I'm busy with a freelance editing project. You can view my most recent cards here:

I've been spending a lot of time on this wonderful site, which offers challenges for making cards every day of the week. I've been making at least one card on most days. My goal is to figure out a way I might be able to sell a few cards here and there to help support my hobby. I'm open to suggestions and ideas!

I'd better get back to work. Thanks for reading and hope to see you again soon!