Friday, 26 August 2011

Happy Anniversary!

A few days ago we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and this is the card I made for my dear husband. I used naturals ivory card stock and stamped the heart (Stampin' Up!) in red chalk ink (Memories - Tomato Sauce), lightly sponged with brown chalk ink (Colorbox Fluid Chalk - Chestnut Roan) on one edge for depth. I tried out a few different reds but liked this one best. Can't decide whether the gratfiication of finding the perfect red outweighs the shame of having so many reds to choose from...... I heat set the heart in preparation for stamping the main image (Quietfire Designs) in black and heat embossing in black. I really, really love this image. The calligraphy is stunning and I like how the message is hidden. Next, I matted the image on black cardstock, and then popped it up on a naturals ivory card base. Decided it needed something else, so I used my ruler and .03 Micron pen to add the line to frame it on the inside. There are also Platinum stickles filling the hearts in the words "I love you". I can't usually pull off clean and simple, but I think I did it here! I can see doing versions of this card with all sorts of lovely Quietfire Designs quotations over a nice accent stamp......but not this morning! Have to get dressed, get the kids to camp, get to work, get to 5:00 when the weekend starts! Thanks for stopping by.

PS. Veggie update. I got an enormous cauliflower at the farmstand on Tues, seriously, it was bigger than a soccer ball. Anyway, googled grilling recipes and discovered that grilled cauliflower is unbelievably delicious. Kids weren't too keen, but grown ups scarfed it down with relish. (Actually with veggie box feta cheese sprinkled over! haha.) I couldn't recommend it enough. I normally love cauliflower, but this took it to new heights. Basically sliced off a few 1" slabs off the head, keeping the stem part too to hold all together. Rubbed with olive oil, sprinked with coarse salt and pepper and chopped oregano. Grilled till lovely brown (what makes it yummy). We sprinkled with feta as it was on hand, but wouldn't be essential.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Early efforts in art journalling

Hello! I'm home from a great holiday at Manitoulin Island. Before I left, I picked up a book on art journalling by Gwen Diehn called The Decorated Journal. It's a wonderful book and very inspiring. I particularly enjoyed the section on making maps, and thought that would be a good thing to include in the journal I'd brought on vacation in case I felt crafty/creative. I sketched a map of the route from our house to Manitoulin Island, a drive of about 9-10 hours (600 km), west from Ottawa to Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron. (Note, map for artistic outlet purposes only and not to be used for navigation, academic studies, land titles, etc.) After packing our car (a.k.a. The Blue Jellybean) to the gunwales (including DD2's bike!), we set off. This map captures the journey. Gwen Diehn talks about mapping as selection of what's important, and here I've put down what were important to me, mostly where we stopped driving and took in a bit of local scenery.

The first portion of the journey goes west along the Ottawa River, which forms the boundary between Ontario and Quebec. At Mattawa, the Ottawa River goes north, and the Trans Canada Highway continues west towards Lake Nipissing and North Bay, and then up towards Sudbury, which is a nickel mining town. There is an enormous nickel there (five cents), commemorating something or other (link to Wikipedia entry). We stop there for a play and a picnic on the way home, but my investigations of historical or informative plaques are always severely curtailed due to the long drive and necessity to keep stops short. (My weakness for such plaques goes unrequited, so absolutely no chance of nipping in to Brent Lake to see the meteorite crater and related plaque - 32 km off the highway....maybe one day.....). We did stop in Mattawa for a picnic lunch, and I happily read the plaque there describing the importance of the location to the fur trade when waterways were the main transportation routes. Mattawa also has some lovely heritage architecture and stunning views, nestled as it is in two valleys. Anyway, back to the page...

I sketched the map, using a road map for reference (perhaps should not admit this???), adding the key stopping points for us along the way, and our destination, Manitoulin Island, and some other things I felt like adding. I mainly added rest stops, like the Tim Horton's (a chain of coffee & doughnut shops that seem to appear in every sizeable town). My 5-year-old daughter couldn't tell them apart and kept getting confused about whether we were back to the one we'd stopped at before. Another was the Pembroke Irving (gas station chain known for its clean bathrooms) and this particular rest stop had maps inside where I showed the girls our journey. Another stopping point on my map is symbolic of the many lovely little provincial picnic/rest areas that appear all along the route and make great places for a picnic and a place to get the wiggles out. On my map, the road stops at Espanola, but in real life the Trans Canada continues westward out to Vancouver. The only land access to the Manitoulin is the swing bridge at Little Current, which is a former railroad bridge. I made a few mistakes on the map (in best Bones McCoy voice, "Damn it Jim, I'm a stamper, not a cartographer!"), and Lake Nipissing and the lakeshore are in the wrong place (L Nipissing is east of the French River ghost town). (Random aside: I have always had a fascination with this ghost town since I found it on the map. However, it is inaccessible by road, so I will need to take up adventure canoeing if I ever want to go there. Since I can't actually get there, I keep building it up in my mind into quite an elaborate location that I am missing. In real life, it's probably nothing like I imagine, if anything of the town even remains, so I will hold off on training to become a wilderness canoe expert for the time being to avoid disappointment. Still, I find the notation on the highway map tantalizing.... )

After sketching the map in pencil, I used my daughter's watercolours to paint it. This was a bit of an adventure and I added a bit too much here and there, learning (I hope!) a lesson about leaving well enough alone. (And learning that I should invest in some good watercolours.) Still, I was pleased with the result, and did actually learn something about the geography of the trip, from the fertile Ottawa Valley, up towards the Canadian Shield, then to Manitoulin Island, with its unique landscape and history. The swing bridge at Little Current was a challenge. I could see it in my mind's eye, but couldn't draw it from that. After reading Gwen Diehn's advice on drawing and the art of truly observing the subject, I dug up a photo of the swing bridge and realized that my mind's eye wasn't really very accurate at all. My rendition here is based on my observations and some artistici license, really just capturing the essence of the structure and the main lines. But it really does look like the real thing. Who knew! Before I get too carried away with my new-found drawing abilities, I cast my eye on my fleur-de-lis in Quebec and regain my humility..... Also, the island itself was impossible to draw accurately. Way too many wiggles and squiggles, and hubby said it should be bigger. I maintain that I wanted to convey the vastness of the lake..... In real life the island is closer to the mainland and there are hundreds of islands in the North Channel, as well as large islands on the east side of the island. And the Bruce Peninsula should probably appear on my map. But it's my map and I have never been to the Bruce Peninsula, so on my map, it appears in direct proportion to my experience.

I really enjoyed the observing and the sketching and watercolouring process here, and was quite pleased with the results of my initial efforts. Many thanks to Gwen Diehn and her wonderful, inspiring, and empowering book!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Baby card

Hello! How are you? I'm feeling a bit frazzled, back at work after a week-and-a-bit's vacation. We went to Newfoundland to visit relatives. More on that below, if you are interested.

About the card - I am going to a baby shower and needed a card. I started with this lovely black and white photo from a Darkroom Door Montage sheet (Hello Baby collection) and clipped it out, and tinted the sweater with pink distress ink in a couple of shades. Mounted it on grey linen, then popped up off another layer of grey linen when it turned out to be too small for the final card. The next piece down is white, embossed in the Cuttlebug, and sponged with pumice stone. Next down is dark grey, then the same grey linen, stamped with a scroll (Stampers Anonymous) in Lake Mist. Then the card base is Pirouette Pink, stamped with Linen (Stampin' Up!) in Spun Sugar, which didn't show up very well, but I thought another stamp would be too busy. The "sweet baby girl" is from SU's Everyday Flexible Phrases and didn't turn out well when I stamped it down, so I did it ransom-note style on gray linen and dotted some liquid pearls around it. Then everything was going on down in that corner and the light grey on the other side couldn't hold it, so more liquid pearls went up on the top corner. I also discovered I need pewter liquid pearls (is there such a thing?) and I don't have light pink either. How did that happen? Must remedy that. Had the perfect shade of embroidery floss and spent a happy half hour reviewing all my buttons to find the almost-perfect one. Ideally it should have been a four-holer to match the picture, but it's a two-holer, which is easier for tying bows anyway. I'm quite happy with this - pink and pretty but not too precious. Hope she likes it!

Re Newfoundland: Had a great time - saw whales, lots of scenic vistas, even splashed in the North Atlantic. The girls were the only ones brave enough to get completely wet, and they had to be hauled out of the waves when the bystanders got too cold to watch anymore.... We were at a wonderful sandy beach (rare, most beaches are rocky) and the waves were wonderful. Came home with some bakeapple jam and more bakeapples besides. The bakeapples were ripe so hubby and his folks spent three evenings on the mash picking them. I declined, as there were already more than enough opportunities to tramp around in the bog. I think those are delights best appreciated by someone who grew up doing it. CFAs (come from away) just can't quite savour the fly bites and wet feet properly. I am, however, quite happy to savour the bakeapple jam! Bakeapples are a berry that grows on the bog or mash as it's locally known, and you might know them as cloudberries. They are orange when ripe, and can be red and yellow. They smell heavenly and make delicious jam. I also came home with my husband's old Olivetti typewriter. There was a bit of grumbling about packing it (weighs close to 50 lb), but hubby came through for me. Now it's right in the thick of things, back to work, girls in daycamp, soccer, swimming, haircuts, meetings, all the normal stuff. Hard to imagine it was only a few days ago I was ankle deep in a cliff-top peat bog, I mean gazing out over the bay with the wind in my hair. Yes, you read that right, I did organize a family hike on the Cape English trail, which goes up over the clifftops at Cape English. The "path" doesn't go right to the edge of the cliff, but there are enough alarming views to cure me of any desire to go anywhere near a cliff any time soon. It was all perfectly safe and we were at least 100 feet away from the edge and the brink of certain death. And hubby assured me that he never heard of anyone vanishing in a sinkhole in a peat bog either. Well, that's enough rambling about our holiday - it was great, I highly recommend Newfoundland as a vacation destination, and ideally you should stay with someone who is a fantastic cook! Apropos of nothing, I would recommend flying Porter - liked everything about it and it was really fast. Our car rental was a Ford Fusion, and since I have been watching so much Top Gear, I now feel qualified to do an automobile review. Like all Fords, this one is built for a race of giants, and they try take your mind off the disappointing performance with lots of rumble and roar and a 3d-effect dashboard. The one good thing about it was the trunk, which was big enough to hold our Prius and a team of sled dogs. The girls didn't like it since, not belonging to a race of giants, they couldn't see out the back windows. Still, it got us around, which was the point in the end.

Must dash - rambled enough! If you made it this far, well done! You can add another 600 miles to your frequent blogger account.