Charley Harper Coloring Cards

harper-birdsIf you’re looking for a gift for a creative type or anyone who likes to color, I’d like to suggest Charley Harper Birds Color Cards. I bought this pack at a park gift shop earlier this year, and I love them.

They cards come in a metal tin, and I’ll buy just about anything that comes in a metal tin. The paper is very nice quality and the printing is nice and bold. I like, too, that it comes with photos of the original bird images.

harper-birds-2

I use my trusty colored pencils for coloring, but they come with a pack of crayons, too. I find that I use them when I want to put in a bit more effort than a regular greeting card, maybe for someone who is sick or feeling blue. There’s even a place on the back of the card for your signature!

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Spring Paper Crafts

Chrissy egg2

We had out-of-town visitors this weekend, including two sweet little girls ages six and two. So, of course, I had to plan a craft project. I looked around Pinterest for a while and came upon a craft I remembered fondly from my school days—the old opening egg with a chick inside. Perfect!

I went to Target to supplement my stash of supplies. I picked up a pair of safety scissors, the paper fasteners (they had them in silver and gold!), and some springtime stickers.

Abby, the six-year-old, is a born crafter. She jumped right in. Like any good six-year-old, she included her last name on her egg, so I ham-fistedly covered that up.

Abby egg edit

Marin, the two-year-old, made one, too, with the help of her mom and dad. She kept telling them to add “art,” much of which she then covered with stickers. But you can’t beat the upside-down chick placement.

Marin egg

Abby and I just kept at it once our first eggs were done. Abby made another one that she mounted on a piece of paper. The egg top still moves, though. She knows what she’s doing.

Abby egg2

And she made this pocket and glued it to a background. She used a hole punch to make the frame and then added paper behind some of the dots. Crafty!

Abby pocket

I asked Abby what else would come from an egg, and she immediately answered, “Dinosaur!” So I asked Greg to draw the dinosaur of his choice for my next egg.

Chrissy eggI borrowed Abby’s hole-punch technique on the bottom half of the egg.

I love sharing crafts with other people, and these two girls were great fun to make stuff with!

MarinAbby

Neutral Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope neutralThe coloring hasn’t stopped! Here’s one of my latest palettes. I tried some more neutral colors, and I really like the way it turned out.

I think BB-8 likes it, too!

Kaleidoscope BB8

Coloring Kaleidoscopes

Coloring_yellowblue

I’m obsessed with coloring. I just can’t get enough of it. Any idle time in the evening is spent coloring. Wind-down time at night is spent coloring. Weekends? Coloring. I even thought about taking a coloring break during the work day but decided that was a much too slippery slope to go down.

I first blogged about coloring back in February 2012. After a few months, my interest waned, and I put away the colored pencils for a few years. Then this whole adult coloring craze got me thinking about coloring again, and I picked up my old coloring books a few months ago.

What really kicked my coloring into gear, though, was a gift Greg gave me for Christmas: Kaleidoscope Designs by Martha Day Zschock.

Coloring book

Since my other coloring books are color-by-number, I wasn’t sure if I’d find coloring my own designs as relaxing. And I’m not sure if it is as relaxing, but coloring these kaleidoscopes is a ton more fun. What I’m really enjoying is coming up with color palettes for each piece.

My process is to pick a color and use it in three spots in a design. Then I pick another color and use it in three spots. I keep going like that, without a real plan of what color I’ll pick next. Here’s my sequence for a recent design.

*Note: I tend to color in places where the light isn’t very good. And often at the end of the day when my eyes are tired. Plus I’m usually really excited to lay down the color and move on to the next one. All this is to say the coloring itself isn’t that great. Be kind.

Coloring 1

Coloring 2

Coloring 3

Coloring 4

On this one, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with a light purple or a darker one next, so I tried them both before going with the darker color.Coloring 5

Then I went back and used the lighter purple.

Coloring 6

The finished piece (with a different camera in different light).

Coloring 7

As you can see, I’m a bit of a kaleidoscope coloring minimalist. Coloring the whole thing doesn’t seem fun to me. I like my white space.

Coloring_greenpurple

For this one, I challenged myself to use more contrasting colors (my other contrast challenge piece is the one at the very beginning of this post). I intended to start with an orange, but I accidentally picked up blush instead. So the piece went in an unusual (for me) direction right from the start.

Coloring_brownblue

And here’s my latest work-in-progress. My challenge for this one was to use colors I don’t normally use. I’m not sure what color I’ll try next—I guess I’ll see tonight!

Coloring_wip

If you haven’t picked up a coloring book recently, I highly recommend you give it a try. You just might have hours of fun in store!

Wisconsin Fun 2015

Hartman Creek

October is a beautiful time of the year to go home to Wisconsin, and last week, I did just that. The main purpose of the trip was to spend some time with three friends from high school. We met in Appleton on Saturday, went to the farmer’s market, the Trout Museum, had a tasty lunch, got some cupcakes, and did a little shopping at the mall. It was a lovely time.

I have photos of none of that. But I did take a few shots of some of the other fun I had while I was up there.

On Sunday, Jenny and the kids came to Mom and Dad’s to visit. It was a warm day, so while I was waiting for them to arrive, I got out the sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk chalk

My design looked even better with the addition of a cute girl.

Sidewalk chalk 2

Mom and Dad were feeling under the weather, so Jenny, the kids, and I decided to check out the changes that have been made at South Park. They’ve really fixed it up nice, with new shelters and a great playground area. We spent some time on the fishing pier, too.

Shadow Lake

Back at Mom and Dad’s, we did a little painting and dyeing using some dark sunflower seeds Jenny had gotten. The seeds looked black, but when they got wet, they were actually purple. Jenny soaked them in water, and I used the color as a wash behind my doodle.

Sunflower wash

Mom was feeling a little better on Monday, so we took a walk at my favorite park, Hartman Creek State Park. The hike around Hartman Lake (aka Turtle Lake) was windy, but pretty.

Hartman beach

On Monday night, Mom didn’t want to spread her cold germs around at the quilt guild meeting, so we stayed home and did some improv sewing. Mom gathered up a pile of scraps, set up two sewing machines and an iron, and we just sewed.

Improv with Mom

Mom made an improv cross block.

Mom improv

I started making an improv Log Cabin to get loosened up.

Log cabin improv

Then I decided to make a piece that said “Mom fabric” to me. Her scrap pile has more reds and blacks than mine ever will.

Mom fabric improv

Finally, I wrapped up my session with the beginnings of an improv Halloween wall hanging. I’ll cut out a silhouette of something spooky and put it in the middle.

Halloween improv

Next week, I’ll share the last big event of the weekend: gifting my Sawtooth Star quilt to someone very special.

 

Birthday Fun

Not only is June Dairy Month, but it is also birthday month, at least at our house. This year we kicked off the festivities by celebrating the 70th birthday of Greg’s mom, Susan. We invited Susan and Warren over to our house for a bit of a party, featuring wine, cupcakes and crafts.preparty

If you think that sounds remarkably similar to the birthday party we threw for our three-year-old goddaughter, you would be correct. Except that this one had wine.

hard at work My party hat idea was quite ambitious. First I poked holes into the hat for form the words HBD Susan. Then I sewed embroidery floss through the holes.

embroidery hatUntil it became obvious that was going to take a ridiculously long time to finish. Abort!

flowerhatSo I quickly fussy cut some flowers and went for a floral explosion instead.

The birthday girl had fun playing with the scrapbooking toys. In case you can’t tell, that butterfly is 3D, thanks to a foam adhesive square.

susanhatWarren did some fussy cutting, too, in this tribute to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, which happened to take place on Susan’s 10th birthday. Fun fact: The Queen isn’t a very good pen pal. Susan sent her a letter about that momentous day, and she hasn’t heard a word back in 60 years. Hmph.

warrenhatSince one of the things we do when we get together with Warren and Susan is play the game Rack-O, Greg made this Rack-O Champion hat for the winner of each round to wear. Susan wore it twice that day!

rackohatThis shot cuts off the top, but the embroidery floss is coming out of the tip of the hat, like a fez.

Two days after that, it was time to celebrate my birthday. It was more of a low-key affair, with donuts in the morning, lunch with a friend, and dinner and ice cream out. But I did receive this wonderful fat quarter medley from my mom.

birthdayfabric Does she know me, or what?

Sewing-wise, I have been working away on the quilt-as-you-go charity quilt. More on that soon (or whenever I get some more thread)!

Child’s Birthday Craft

All hatsThis past weekend, Greg and I had the pleasure of hosting a birthday party for a 3-year-old! Mistress Abigail, our sweet goddaughter, and her parents, Chris and Annie, made the trek down from central Ohio just in time for Abby’s birthday.

The party wasn’t large—just the five of us and some cupcakes. But I did want to make it a little more of a party than that. And when there’s no room for Duck-Duck-Goose, the next best thing is a craft project!

The party hats we had bought were very plain, so I thought decorating them would be a nice little project.

Craft supplies

I pulled out some of my scrapbooking supplies, trying to base my choices around what a 3-year-old girl would like. Sparkly pink letter stickers? Matte pink letter stickers? Pink ribbon? Check, check, check. Plus a few things for grown-ups, too.

Abby is a crafter in the making, to be sure. She was watching what everyone was doing and coming up with her own designs.

Abby watching Greg

Her first hat was a lovely pink number with a spot of orange.

Pink hat

But she branched out for hat number 2, with a little yellow to spice things up.

Abby yellow hat

All of us got in on the fun, too. Greg, doubling the fun with two hats.

Greg hats

Chris working hard with those letter stickers.

Chris working

Here’s Chris’s hat (dad rulz) on the left (I like the fez look to it), and Annie’s on the right (Abby is 3).

Chris and Annie hats

And my hat, on which I really wanted to use pink glitter stickers, but I couldn’t decide what to write. “Rock on!”

My hat

I was happy to see how much the birthday girl got into it. And how much all the adults did, too.

Abby and Annie

Special Day with Emma Rose

The very first Special Day was probably 9 or 10 years ago. My oldest nephew, Jacob, was 4 or 5, and I decided to take him out for a day—just the two of us, doing whatever he wanted. I don’t actually remember what we did on that first Special Day, but over the years we’ve gone to movies, to the Newport Aquarium, to Kentucky Horse Park. And as Jacob’s sister and brother and cousin got older, they got to go on their own Special Days, one for their birthday and sometimes one for Christmas, too. The only criteria: the kid has be able to handle him/herself in the bathroom. And they had to pick someplace to eat other than McDonald’s.

When it’s my niece Emma’s Special Day, I can usually count on something girly or crafty being on our agenda. Back in 2007, our Special Day was a trip to Disney Princesses on Ice. And how can one not get dressed up for an afternoon at Disney Princesses on Ice?

My husband, merely my boyfriend at the time, was our chauffeur. Emma and I sat in the back of the car as he drove us, drinking sparkling cider and feeling very fancy.

As she has gotten older, our Special Days have included sleepovers and bigger projects. In 2010, Emma and I took on our first sewing project together: a stuffed owl.

This past weekend, Emma and I celebrated her upcoming 11th birthday with a Special Day sleepover with a new agenda: prepare and serve a lunch for her family to earn points for a Girl Scout badge. On the menu: apple lettuce salad, spaghetti and meatballs and peppermint fudge—all made from scratch.

After I picked Emma up, we went to my house to look through recipe books, then we made up our list of ingredients and headed to the grocery store. We decided to make the fudge that night, so we wouldn’t need to worry about it the next day. Emma’s latest favorite color is blue, and she made the peppermint stripe in the fudge the prettiest shade of blue using food coloring.

The next morning, we dove into making the meal. Emma has been a great help to her mom in the kitchen, so she was already a very good chopper.

We rolled the meatballs (a task I doubt either of us will be doing again soon), made the sauce, assembled the salad, and somewhere in there had time to create a scavenger hunt for her family (the goal: finding the seating chart) and get in a little coloring, too.

It was a great, creative weekend—creative in the cooking sense, which I hadn’t been in a while—with a pretty awesome girl.

A Mini Paper Kick

Back before my all-consuming obsession with fabric, paper was my game. I scrapbooked, made cards, and bought lots and lots of paper. Recently, though, I’ve been having an urge to hit the paper again, but I couldn’t quite get inspired to actually do it. Until this weekend, that is.

This weekend, I became the lucky recipient of a raffle prize package from Webster’s Pages, manufacturer of fabulous scrapbook papers and embellishments. Earlier this summer I entered the raffle, organized by Charity Wings, to benefit A Place to Bark, a no kill foster and adoption rescue for pets. The founder of A Place to Bark, Bernie Berlin, is a mixed media artist whom I’d worked with in the past. Not only were all the proceeds from the raffle going to the animal rescue, all the prizes were coming from the craft industry. It doesn’t get more win/win than that.

After the raffle took place, I checked the list of winner and saw that a “Christine D.” had won the prize from Webster’s Pages! Yay! Except I really tried not to get my hopes up because I know at least one other “Christine D.” who travels in the same crafty circles. Heck, there could be three or four of us.

So this weekend, when the FedEx man (a.k.a. “The Present Man”) stopped by, I learned I really was “Christine D.”!

The box The Present Man brought was full of wonderful goodies from Webster’s Pages’ new Park Drive and Once Upon a Halloween lines. There were ribbons!

Resin cameos!

Velvet story markers!

And lots of paper and alphabet stickers! All sorts of seriously cool stuff. So, really, how could I not be inspired?

Tuesday afternoon I dipped my toes back in the paper waters, and I made these cards especially for three paper friends who have endured my fabric obsession long enough. Almost everything I used came from the Park Drive line—I love the color palette! The reduced motifs in the 6 x 6 Paperpad Collection and Calendar & Journaling Cards are perfect for card-making. And I still have all my 12 x 12 sheets to play with the next time I scrapbook.

I generally use only layered papers and the occasional journaling sticker on my cards, so I’m excited to incorporate some of the resin and ribbon embellishments in my creations. And the exciting thing is, I haven’t even touched the Once Upon a Halloween goodies yet! I feel some Halloween cards coming on…

Thank you to Webster’s Page for this awesome prize and to Charity Wings for organizing the benefit! It feels good to be paper inspired again.

Handmade Family Bingo Game

It was back in March, coming home from our first amazing vacation of the year, when we got the idea for what to give Greg’s parents for their 50th wedding anniversary. On that vacation, we were visiting his parents, Warren and Susan, on Grand Cayman, and we got into the habit of playing a round of Ocean Bingo whenever we had some down time. That game featured hand-drawn pictures of sea creatures and weather phenomena to teach children about the ocean.

On a plane somewhere between Grand Cayman and Cincinnati, Greg and I were joking about our many games of Ocean Bingo, and I suggested he make a family bingo game. Nock Family Bingo. A brilliant idea was born.

Of course, it was left to Greg, the artist in our family of two, to make the game all it ended up being. He brainstormed ideas for each of the 50 pictures used in the game, getting a bit of help from his sisters and me. And then he set out to drawing.

There was a lot of drawing. And coloring. He included each member of the family. That’s me in the second row, and Greg is the fourth picture in the fourth row (when you draw the bingo set, you get to draw yourself however you like). He included family jokes, vacation memories, the blanket with the magical healing powers, the dog they had for 6 weeks, and things from his parents’ courtship and from his parents’ lives outside the family, too.

Once the drawings were complete, Greg scanned the images and brought them into Adobe Illustrator. He found a bingo board randomizing program on the internet (who knew!) to make up 10 boards. And he created files of the individual pictures to make into cards to be used by the bingo caller.

He saved the files as pdfs and printed them on cover-weight paper at Kinko’s (although I think we’re supposed to call it FedEx Office now). He found the bingo markers on Amazon. And we even found a perfect-sized metal box to hold the 8.5 x 11-inch boards, the cards, and the bingo markers at The Container Store.

On the first night of the Alaskan cruise, Greg presented the bingo game to his parents.

It was a pretty huge hit.

And so on this vacation, whenever we had some down time, we played a round of Nock Family Bingo.

It was great to see the grandkids, and even Greg’s sisters, learn new things about his parents. And it was so fun to see these jokes and characters from the past become real in the eyes of the grandkids. I heard Greg’s mom laugh more than once at the kids hoping the card for the old music teacher or the long-gone dog would get called. With Nock Family Bingo the stories have become part of the next generation.