Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DIY Ocean-Themed Notebooks

We had new floors installed in the upstairs rooms of our house.  This meant that I had to clear everything out of my studio and trust me ,  there was a whole lot of everything!  What a perfect time to get rid of things that really don't work with my style,  and all things I bought of the "everyone else is using this and thinks it's the best thing ever" variety,  but have never used.    I went through all the drawers, all the boxes, all the bottles of glue, mediums, and paint and guess what?  It turns out that I am :


One of my more startling discoveries was the drawer full  overflowing with journals and notebooks. Big ones, small ones, folding ones, fold-out ones -you name it, I most likely have it.   I may need a 12-step program: "Hello, my name is Deborah and I have a journal obsession.  It has been zero days since I added to my stash of 67 journals".   67?  67?  OK, so many are thrifted or yard sale finds but clearly this is out of hand.

I rediscovered these journals I bought from Pick Your Plum.  I'm in a kraft paper phase and the handles just sealed the deal.


(This is actually the back, since I again forgot to take a "before" shot!)

I knew what I wanted for these - something simple that wouldn't cover all that kraft paper goodness, with beachy-colors and stamping.




I swiped on gesso and then some paint - some with acrylics, some watercolors.  This sea star was one of those $1.00 stamps from Michael's, embossed with white powder to make the image sharper on the texture from the gesso.



Two colors of embossing powders and some scraps from my stash of paper scraps.


More of those inexpensive ocean stamps.


Couldn't resist at least one birdie.



The notebook came with kraft paper covered pens.  I painted them with Distress Inks to coordinate with the covers.



It's a bit of a pain to pry the cover off the bottle of stain, but not a big deal.  Then just dip and paint.  


The kraft paper takes up the stain unevenly, giving the pens a nice marbled look.

I've done a major clean-out of my supplies (one full 33 gallon trash bag to the Salvation Army, making the day for some lucky crafters) .  My goal is to  focus future purchases on things I really love and know I will use.  But then there is this:



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

3rd Annual Turning Coins Into Art Supplies

Time to turn in the year's accumulation of coins.  I consider this my "mad money",  ear-marked for art supplies.  It's not like I don't buy plenty of stuff throughout the year, but cashing in my coins has turned into an annual birthday - month event.  It feels more celebratory than just whipping out the plastic.



I could sort all these coins into those little paper tubes, but I don't.   Coin Star is so much easier, plus there is the added fun of dumping the coins into the slot and watching the total add up.



Amazing - over one thousand coins and nearly one hundred dollars - sweet!

I always spend my mad-money at Absolutely Everything In Topsfield,  Massachusetts.  Honestly, they do have absolutely everything in the store.   I go with a list and they always have what I want and  lots of things I didn't even know I wanted.   Don't  get me wrong; I am a regular at Michael's and Joanne's , but we all know they can't carry every brand and product for paper arts since for some reason they also have other non- artsy departments to stock!   (We don't have any independent art stores nearby or I'd be shopping there as well).

So here is my haul:


I'm anxious to try the Dylusions Sprays .  Notice the new Distress Stain spray on the top right .  I know some people have tried dumping the stain into a mister to make the spray.    I popped the top off one and painted with the stain- don't believe what you read that it's impossible to get the top off!  But I did want to try the spray and it came with two free stains, so how could I pass up such a deal?   I'm hoping to use the Tim Holtz elastics as journal closures- stay tuned.


I love the Time Holtz architecture-style designs.  These little ones are just the right size for tags.  Don't you just love the TH dots stencil?


I've never used sticky back canvas and am excited to give it a try.

I stumbled onto this wall in the AE classroom - beautiful artwork by some of the talented artists who've taught classes there:


A close-up of this gorgeous piece by the talented Fnnabair:


But wait; there's more - I signed up for a class at AE - The Artful Lettering Book Tour with Joanne Sharpe!  Holy guacamole!  I've drooled over her book, The Art of Whimsical Lettering.   Of course, I'm intimidated since I'm not sure I have any talent in lettering, whimsical or otherwise, but I'm hoping to learn some techniques to buff up my printing.   Whoopeee!


*** HaPpY BirThDaY to me***

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bag Lady




Don't you just love bedraggled plastic shopping bags caught in trees?



Or having a cart overflowing with the things - usually with one or two items per bag?

The statistics on the use of plastic shopping bags are staggering:

Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide.
That's over one million plastic bags used per minute.
planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/plastic-bag-facts.html

According to the Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World report.
Some 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags—including large trash bags, thick shopping bags,
and thin grocery bags—were produced globally in 2002.
Roughly 80 percent of those bags were used in North America and Western Europe.
Every year, Americans reportedly throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags.

www.worldwatch.org/node/5565

The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year...
NRDC www.nrdc.org/media/2008/080109.asp

Americans use and dispose of 100 billion plastic shopping bags each year
and at least 12 million barrels of oil are used per year in the
manufacture of those plastic grocery bags.

The Wall Street Journal

Less than 5 percent of plastic grocery bags are recycled in the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.

There is now six times more plastic debris in parts of the North Pacific Ocean
than zooplankton.
www.acfnewsource.org/environment/plastic_plankton.html


I kicked the plastic bag habit a few years ago.  I'd much rather have two or three full bags than twenty partially filled plastic ones.  Not sure why clerks think the dang things can only hold two items, but seems to be a universal packing strategy.

It takes a while to get used to a change in habits, but before long using your own bags just becomes part of shopping.   I keep several bags in the car and a few by the kitchen door and rarely get caught without a shopping bag.  

I think it helps to have nice bags that you like to use.  You know, the whole "add a little beauty wherever you can" approach.   Here are some of my favorites:


My Trader Joe's collection.


Honestly, I've had the purple bag for at least thirty years.  It came from the now-defunct Bumble Bee company that used to do home parties. We've used it as a beach bag,and to haul stuff for college moves as well as a grocery bag.   Love the colors of the Hannaford one.


This one's a thrift store find.  A woman stopped me in Trader Joe's to tell me that a friend had brought a bag like this home from Ireland.   So my bag has some world travel creed.


OK, I've been known to splurge on a bag that calls my name.  Postage stapes, cancellations - of course I had to have this one.  Check out the double handles - one set for shoulder-carrying, the other for hands only.


Plus there is a sweet little inside pocket.

Luckily there are lots of low-cost options for bags ; most grocery stores carry them and sometimes you can snag one with panache at a thrift store.  

See, being a Bag Lady can be a good thing. 

  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Give Me Coffee and No One Gets Hurt (Updated)


OK, I know there are real problems in this world.  Serious problems - wars, disease, poverty and such.    But when you're a coffee addict and your supply is compromised, this presents a serious, all-consuming local problem.  I wasn't really out of coffee, just out of my fancy-schmancy Nespresso coffee.

This is our marvelous coffee maker,  a gift from Texas Daughter.   Our morning coffee took a serious step up!   



And some of the espresso pods:





All was well for a bit over a year, then Mr. Nespresso started acting out.,  deciding that about two tablespoons of water per cup was enough.   I tried unsuccessfully to  reset it  on my own,  so I called Nespresso Customer Service.

Wow, do these people  take customer service seriously.  First the rep walked me through several attempts to reset my machine.  When that didn't work, she arranged to have me send my machine in for service - extending the warranty that had run out a few days earlier so there was no cost for repairs.

Get this - she even asked if I wanted them to send out a loaner machine  (no charge) while mine was being repaired!  A loaner ?  Free?  And free shipping back when I got my own one back?   Really, this  was too much!

A few days after our call I received a box with a pre-paid postage label and packed up my BFF and sent it off.   Five days later I got my machine back, cured of its timing problem.   

Now this is what I've been missing:



This is straight espresso, no milk, just a thick layer of crema on top of dark espresso goodness.

But there's more - there is a magic milk frother!   




Add milk, push the button, and a few seconds later the frother is full of thick foamed milk.




Now I have my coffee that's as beautiful as it is delicious.



And best of all, sometimes The Captain brings a cup of this goodness to me in bed!


Delicious coffee, thick frothed milk and phenomenal customer service - what more could you ask for?   Well, how about George Clooney?





Disclaimer:  Unlike Mr. Clooney, I am not a paid spokesperson for Nespresso.  

UPDATE:  I found a local kitchen store that is a collection site for used Nespresso pods and ships them out for recycling.  YIPPEE - feel slightly less guilty about single-use pods.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

DIY Fall Raffia Wreath




Disclaimer:  I am NOT ready for fall.   I am NOT ready to say goodbye to summer.   Clearly I am bucking the trend to jump ahead on the changing the seasons thing as this is what I saw last week at Michael's:


Christmas decorations?   In September?  I think not.

But with Pinterest on all-fall, all the time and the weather turning noticeably more like fall and less like summer, it may be time to start fall decorating.

I saw this  raffia wreath all over Pinterest and loved it - no orange, no leaves, no pumpkins, just a riot of ecru raffia- perfect.   And easy.

Supplies:

Straw wreath form .  I used the 12 inch size.  Be sure to leave the plastic on, since that's what holds the wreath together!


Bag of raffia from Michael's.  This bag was just enough for my wreath.   I added a little dark raffia I had in my stash for a bit of color.


Floral pins - or you could use u-pins.

This is a wing-it project - no measuring, no precise anything.   Grab several strands of raffia  and loop together , sort of like making a bow.   I made my loops about 7 inches long - I didn't measure as I was doing it, but just eyeballed it.    Don't worry about straggling pieces, short pieces in the grab- it'll all work out.  The raffia strands are roughly 2 1/2 feet long and I usually used 5-7 strands, depending on how wide they were.  Again, I didn't count each grab - just eyeball it so each section will be roughly the same size.



Now slightly twist the loop in the middle and pin to the wreath with one of the floral pins.   You will be alternating the direction of each raffia loop.  Start with the first one horizontal on the wreath.


Make another loop, this time pinning that one close to the first and vertically.   (Sorry for the bad lighting!)


Keep adding loops in alternate directions until the wreath is full.   


And it will be very full!   Now the fun part - pull, twist and play with the raffia until it looks right and there aren't any gaps showing.  I cut some of the loops open and left others as is.





I added a twisted wire loop for hanging .  You could use a burlap ribbon , but I didn't want to crush down any of the exuberance!



I love my wreath.  It says fall, but in a cheery, subtle, "let's not go crazy just yet" way.

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