Monday, December 30, 2013

~See You Soon, Valentine's Day~

It doesn't take long for me to move on after the Christmas decorations are tucked away for another year.

Bring on the hearts.

Bring on the love.

Bring on the red, pink, glitter, and mushy sentiments.

Bring.  It.




The valentines I've received over the past few years through swaps have really begun to add up, oh yes.

And I'm not done yet.

Somewhere in my crafty nook are the materials that are going to come together for this year's swappy exchanges.

First, I need to get in the mood.  Up go the valentines:




That's better.

See you soon, Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, Merry Mommy

Good morning, and Merry Christmas!

Just a quick check-in to let you have a peek at one of the gifts I made this year.

It's a copy of one of my favorite photographs of my mother.


That's right, that adorable little girl is my mom!  The picture was taken on a couch inside the log cabin that my grandparents built.  The photo was featured on their own holiday card years ago, but I was inspired to reprint it, add some festive touches, and then frame and solder it to make ornaments for me, my mother, and my sister.

When I was a child, my mother "made" Christmas for us, baking, decorating, playing music, taking us to see the lights and mall displays, having us decorate cookies, teaching us about gift-giving, and of course, making sure we saw The Nutcracker.  Those traditions continue today in our own homes, along with a few more that my husband and I hope our children will carry into the future as they grow and build families of their own.

Thank you, Mom.

Merry Christmas, Merry Mommy.

*****

~Merry Christmas~


Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me

Today I'm 44 years old, and there are American social issues at the forefront of my mind thanks to the luck of the draw, an unfortunate glance at what passes for "news," and the reactions of my friends and family.  They're a gift at this point in my life however, because they help me articulate what defines me to myself.  It's good to get one's bearings before heading off again for another of Life's adventures in the classroom, in my craft room, or off into the wild, blue yonder.  Don't worry, I'm aware of the gray zone in the big picture (surprisingly it's NOT my hair), and that is this: none of you has to agree with me.  So, after forty-four trips around the sun, here's what I believe and what I know to be true ~for myself~:



This big blue marble houses diverse forms of life in diverse climates and settings.  Humanity has the capability and right to choose the best or most appealing parts of it, adapt when necessary or desired, and to allow neighbors to do the same.  Despite our potential, we're still greedy, skittish, insecure and therefore overcompensating creatures on the whole, often assuring ourselves that the decisions we make for our families are obviously the decisions that should be made by everyone else for theirs.  If our lead isn't followed, we feel entitled to do everything in our power to convince, encourage, "guide," bribe, threaten, force, or exterminate those who don't want to drink our kool-aid, because apparently ignoring them is just too difficult a task for us despite the fact that we regularly ignore the needs of the young, the elderly, the sick, the wounded, and the poor.  We have hypocritical natures. Thankfully, many of us recognize it, and want to do better and do right by ourselves and others.

The rules that my husband and I have chosen for our American home in Oz and within our family unit may or may not match some of yours.  You don't have to take off your shoes if you visit (snow boots are another story) but you DO have to call ahead instead of just dropping by.  We're not offended if you pray for, bless, or wish us well in our endeavors, because we care deeply about you as well, reciprocating in our way.  We own and use guns, but will not have them accessible to you or put them into your hands.  I bake a LOT of cookies, but will not force you to eat them.  We encourage "please," "thank you," and other publicly recognized forms of manners.  We will correct our childrens behavior immediately, but discreetly.  We believe in social graces but avoid snobbishness.  We curse, but keep it to a minimum when sharing space with others.  We try not to marinate ourselves in cologne or perfume, because what smells good to us could be stink-on-stink to you.   We change the channel on the radio and t.v., avoid questionable-to-us web sites and links, and do not purchase or request forms of media that we find distasteful or dangerous.  Because we believe that diversity is the rule and not the exception in this life, we choose to focus on similarities instead of differences in those with whom we work and choose to share our lives.  The number and kinds of similarities determine whether you're family, friends, friends who are family, colleagues, or acquaintances.  We believe that once our children leave our house and create a new home for themselves, they have the right to establish their own rules, even if those rules don't match our own.  We forgive, but we don't forget.

If you were to ask me about social advocacy, at forty-four I'd now reply that I believe we should be kind and clear in shared spaces, and should not behave in ways that make it difficult to be so.  What a gift it would be if people would rant, rave, tell dirty jokes, curse, and argue with their mother-in-law from the confines of their own vehicle or home, with the windows and doors closed.  Same thing goes for music.  I won't blast the 1812 Overture, or Christmas music in July whilst driving down the street, so please stop inflicting your favorite artist upon my ears and migraine-prone head.  Want to be with like-minded people?  Let's find them, and experience a sense of belonging from which we can draw strength and reassurance. But as our citizens have the freedom of speech and expression, it's not unreasonable to entertain the thought that we might not want to have to listen to or be visually barraged by them constantly.  Society is ever-evolving in rarely simple ways (hell, even the Amish have their own mafia now), and we can't always close our eyes, change the channel, or relocate our lives to a new state, country or continent.    Rally at your church, cheer your team at the stadium, sell your wares or grow your hobbies at any well-marked venue, or even assemble on your compound and I promise not to gate-crash at places I'm not welcome nor interested in, but please don't walk up to my vehicle on the street, or drive onto my property because you believe you're entitled to sell me something or spread the word that you've chosen for yourself.  At forty-four years of age, I do not wish to be recruited by anyone for anything.  If I have questions or an interest, I'll do research, ask questions, and not just invite myself into your space.  In my opinion, we'd all enjoy more peace if the rest of humanity reciprocated.



I'm thankful to still be hopeful after forty-four years.  Happy birthday to me.  Keep the cake.

It's time for some tiramisu cookies.






Sunday, November 17, 2013

Charming

I should have known that once I began playing with holiday papers, glass and solder, I wouldn't want to stop:


Black and white "inchies" (1 X 1 inches), $10.    1 X 3 tree, $15.


1 X 3 mini trees, $15.


Orange (yes, ORANGE), pink, and gold swirl trees... 1 X 3, $15 each, 2 X 2, $13.


2 X 2 bright pink tree charms, $13, 1.5 X 1.5 pastel pink and silver tree, $12, 1 X 3 charms, $15.


Inchie Santa charm and Jolly charm, $10 each.


Visit my Etsy shop for more details!

*****

It's the most... wonderful time... of the year.

~Michaele~

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bat Ornament Tutorial

It's almost Halloween, and as in years past, I participated in Sarah's  Halloween Swap.  Having an abundance of paper, tinsel, ribbon, and some fun paper punches, I entertained the thought of going a little batty with my offering.


Here's what I used:


Holiday tinsel?  You bet!


I glued a length of black and white grosgrain ribbon to the back of some brown and black printed cardstock to make a loop and some tails.  Adding more glue, I coiled the tinsel into a loop and smooshed it on top of the ribbon, making sure to press the tinsel flat with the palm of my hand.


Here's what it looks like:


... and on the flip side:


Time to add a colorful backing!  I used the same large floral punch on polka-dotted Halloween paper, added a generous amount of hot glue, and smooshie-smoosh-smooshed again:


Smooshing flattens the fluffy tinsel, spreading it out fairly evenly, but you might still want to even up the edges with scissors:




I cut strips from an old book page with pinking shears:


... and layered them over the brown and black print cardstock:


I added a glittery silver circle...


... and then layered on a spice colored medallion and a black bat!


I like the finishing touch of cutting dovetails into the ribbon:


Finally, I added a hook for hanging:


I've already searched through my stash of Christmas paper and have found some cute prints that would work well with this medallion style of ornament.  No rush of course, but another version to look forward to making!

*****

Thank you to all of the other swap participants, and special thanks to Sarah for hosting this fun event!  I LOVE all of the treasures you created, especially since they arrived right as I was diagnosed with pneumonia.  Talk about a spooktacular pick-me-up:











Sunday, September 15, 2013

Playing Dominoes: A Tutorial

... or, more accurately, Playing WITH Dominoes: A Tutorial


Several years ago, Sheila taught me how to alter dominoes by Mod Podging a pre-printed image onto to one side, then soldering around the edge and adding a jump ring to create a pendant.  It was the first time I had used Mod Podge or a soldering wand, and I loved each and every step.  Thanks again Sheila!

Over the next few months I added a soldering wand, adhesives, and even old dominoes to the crafty nook, but didn't use them.  Busy with buntings, adopted ancestors, ornament swaps, classroom anchor charts and crafts to compliment learning centers, the dominoes sat in a large glass bowl waiting p-a-t-i-e-n-t-l-y.

Setting my glamour girl up next to an altered art journal, there they were.  Remembering that I had scrap paper and itty bitty letter stickers still out on my work table, I thought I'd see what I could come up with.  Who knows, Halloween domino brooches could be fun!



I measured a domino, leaving the outer edge as a frame, and determined how big my paper could be.  Cutting out some rectangles from black patterned scrapbook paper, I then had to decide what I wanted to layer on top.  One decorative paper had orange and black vintage looking owls printed on it, so I carefully cut some of them out, thinking they'd make nice Halloween characters.  The polka dotted paper needed some color, so out came the paints:


The mini-stickers were bought at Target for fifty cents last month, and they were perfect for spelling out "Hoo," "Boo" and "Haunt" to accompany the scrappy fun.

Once the collage paper pieces were done, I made sure a domino's back was clean and dry.  Then I painted a thin layer of Mod Podge onto it, making sure to coat the surface evenly:


Applying the scrapbook paper into the glue, I pressed it against the domino firmly, working air bubbles out around the edges:




I painted another layer of Mod Podge over the top of each image to seal it to the domino (the owl photo didn't turn out, so here's a photo of my "BOO" domino).

The surfaces of the dominoes will stay tacky/sticky for a while until the Mod Podge dries, so I left the backs of most of the dominos alone, except for one that will have "Trick" on one side and "Treat" on the other, and a sassier yet-still-cute domino with "You don't know" and "Jack" with a smiling jack-o-lantern on alternating sides.


See the Mod Podge?  It's pretty much watered down white glue, but don't worry, it dries clear.


The ghosts were actually in ribbon/garland form, and slightly puffy, so they required extra smooshing and layers of Mod Podge to seal them.  Cardstock is also thicker and needs extra attention when sealing the edges.  I love that glitter paper and accents don't lose their sparkle after being coated!

My favorites are the owls:


What Halloween goodies are you working on?

*****
~Michaele~

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Who Doesn't Love a Makeover?

She's looking a bit... dated.


Let's freshen her up with some accessories, accessories, accessories:


Some color and sparkle never hurt anyone.


Though going glam does take a bit of experimentation, to which my table can attest.

*****

I'm excited to be participating in Sarah Johner's Halloween Ornament Swap again this year, and finished up my offering earlier this afternoon.

No peeking yet, but here's a photo of the gift envelopes and tags.  The full reveal will take place in October, once I receive my box of Halloween goodies and decorate for what has become one of my favorite holidays.


Layering cardstock with a little bit of lace was a quick and easy way to make Halloween tags for not only the swap, but for treat bags and gifts too.  Something tells me these will be a pretty touch when they're added to gifts of cookies and snacks next month!

~Michaele~

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Adopted Ancestors: There's Always NEXT Summer

At the start of summer I ~vowed~ to work on altered art utilizing some of the images of adopted ancestors I've collected over the years.

I scanned the photos, hung several up for display, and considered myself committed.  I had a-l-l summer.

I then spent much of my time back in my classroom, pulling out, sorting through and organizing eighteen years' worth of teaching materials and supplies.  It was a daunting but necessary task.

I'm still reaping the benefits of having invested the time getting everything right where it should be.  I haven't (knock wood) had to spend hours after school or over the weekend finding and prepping materials for my students.  W-o-r-t-h it.

But I didn't work with adopted ancestors in the crafty nook, not once.

Needing a little redemption and finding inspiration as I noticed October sneaking up, I thought I'd work on these ladies:


Slightly stern in appearance... perhaps it's the starch in their blouses.  They would make lovely witches... brujas, "witches, crones."  Oh yes.

I scanned and lightened the photograph, and decided on Elphaba-inspired-green:


Hats, bats, glitter and pennants.  It's fun to color, cut, glue, write, and collage.  So much fun, that I really should do it more often.

There's always next summer.