Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cut, Crop and Die

I am enjoying a lazy week at the lake, just sun, water, fresh air, and a few of my favorite past times to keep me entertained.

I grabbed a stack of books for beach reading, and I knew that "Cut, Crop and Die" by Joanna Campbell Slan would be the first on my list. I've been meaning to get to this one all summer. Joanna was so kind and generous to send me book number three ("Photo Snap Shot") to read and review, but I hadn't read book number two yet, and could not read them out of order (heaven forbid!).

I LOVE the Scrap-n-Craft mysteries featuring amateur detective Kiki Lowenstein! Kiki is such a fun character, and I know that all of you crafters would appreciate her zeal for the papercrafting industry. This is a fast-paced and fun read, a real page turner that you can't put down. Paper crafting, mystery, and a love triangle. What's not to love? Go to the book store and buy all three books. The crazy cast of characters continues in all three books, and you'll want to read the entire series in order, just like me.

Joanna has included more of my favorite St. Louis hot spots, like Missouri Botanical Gardens. (I have a cute photo of my teenage son, sitting on a park bench next to the statue of Henry Shaw, with his arm around him asking "Henry, how are you today?") Sometimes, I try to guess what "fictional" spot is based on a real location. Dick Blick's Art Supply in Ladue? Julie at the Ink Spot in Kirkwood? Hmmm...could it be?

The murderous villain in this novel was truly terrifying! Joanna, girlfriend, we need to talk...again!

Kiki's scrapbooking tips are interspersed throughout the chapters. I haven't made a paper bag scrapbook in quite a while, but now I think I'll have to make another one soon, thanks to Kiki!

For more info on this fun mystery series, you can visit Joanna's website and even sign up for her newsletter! Here's the link:


I'll be starting book number three this week! So tell me, what fun "beach books" are you reading this summer?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Star Spangled Summer

I'm working on a new stitching project this week. I picked up this pattern from Heart in Hand on clearance at my favorite shop, Always in Stitches. These days, I find that it's often cheaper to buy a kit on sale than it is to buy a pattern, floss, and cloth. This piece is stitched on 32 count Belfast Dirty Linen (thanks to my "cheater" glasses, I can do small work again!). Have you priced cloth lately? Yikes! This kit included the linen, pattern, and button, and I already owned all the Weeks Dye Works flosses that the pattern required.

There's a part of me that wants to skip Summer and its 95 degree temps and jump right ahead into my favorite season of Autumn. Instead, I'm trying to appreciate the season I am in and not rush through these lazy days.

My son, Luke, asked me the other day what my favorite seasons are, in ranking order. My list looks like this:

1.) Autumn
2.) Spring
3.) Winter

And coming in last place...
4.) Summer

The funny part is that Luke's list looked just like mine! I know some people who absolutely love this time of year. Public school teachers, for example! :) My sister, Jenny, and my good friend, Beth, just love summer and can't wait for it to come. On the other hand, I usually can't wait for it to go.

The season does have its merits. Here are the top five things I love about summer:

1.) School's out! No schedules!
2.) Flowers and gardening
3.) Fresh produce and farmers markets
4.) Not having to put a coat on to go outside
5.) Stitching on the front porch

And here are the top five things I strongly dislike about summer:

1.) School's out...no schedules. I know, this makes both lists! I think I like the freedom at the beginning of the summer, but get bored and in a funk at the lack of activity for the last half of summer.
2.) Mosquitoes, ticks, and Lyme disease.
3.) Living in the AC when it's so hot outside.
4.) Sweat
5.) Sandal season and constant pedicures

In my area, summer unofficially comes to an end on August 11th when the boys go back to school. I am trying to organize a neighborhood Bible study to coincide with the back-to-school season. I'm going to try the book "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World". I'm advertising at the neighborhood pool and I've included a tear sheet with my name/contact info. When my husband last checked, there had been some takers. I'm hopeful that I can organize a small group of women who are ready to dive into the word, like me.

Hope your summer's day is star-spangled, too!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Date Night

Last Friday, Ed and I enjoyed a fun date night at the Symphony on the Prairie. As you may recall, I had purchased tickets for Ed for Father's Day for this event. The Indy Symphony Orchestra was featuring Sci Fi Spectacular, with special guest, George Takei from Star Trek. We found a great spot under a grove of trees that had decent viewing for the event.

I had packed a gourmet picnic for the two of us...

Completed with dessert and themed napkins for just such an occasion...

I confess, I am a bit of a sci-fi nerd, which is very convenient when you consider that I live in the House of Testosterone. This event was such fun! There were costumed characters roaming through the crowds.

It was a perfect evening to just slip off your sandals and enjoy the music.

When the sun finally set, it was a good time to light the citronella candles.

The performance ended with stirring music from John Williams "Star Wars Episode One" score and fireworks filling the night sky! A perfect ending to a perfect summer's evening.

I love it when a good date night comes together! This was our first time at Symphony on the Prairie, but hopefully not our last. I'm sure that our sons would have enjoyed the evening, too, but what a blessing to spend time alone with my husband.

My dear sweet husband went through the Starbucks drive-thru this morning and brought me home a non-fat cinnamon dolce latte with whip. Isn't that love? Hope your Saturday is sweet, too!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mojo, On The Mend

Thank you to everyone who left kind comments on my blog post "MIA: My Mojo". You encouraged me more than words can say.

To Tami...thank you for your prayers!

To Nancy...you are right. I do enjoy stamping, and I'm slowly getting back to it.

To Debbie...thank you for letting me know that I'm not alone in my summer funks!

To Kathy T...honey, I know all about that pit! It's a struggle to get out and see the light of day! I'm re-reading Beth Moore's book "Looking Up (when life is looking down)", and it's helping.

To helloholley...is it time for school to start yet? lol! I, too, feel better when I have the structure and schedule back in my life. Thanks for posting about Operation Write Home! I will check them out, and I have prayed for you, too!

Today, I finally got messy and crafty after a long absence. I decided to do some cardstock bleaching. It seems to be a popular technique in the new SU catty, and I haven't attempted it for a while.

Warning: this is stinky and messy! I set out a lot of newspaper to protect my work area. I decided to fold several paper towels together, moisten them lightly, and then add bleach onto the paper towels. This stack of paper towels acts as the ink pad, if you will. You cannot always predict what color the cardstock will bleach to. It's a little like a science experiment. I decided that as long as I was making a mess, I'd do a lot of bleaching at once, just for future projects.

I made today's card for blog poster, Susan, who took it upon herself to organize a chick trip all the way out to Indy to visit me and cheer me up. Isn't that the sweetest thing? Oh, did I mention that Susan is my sister? :) Sue corralled my mom and sister, Jenny, and came out for a few days of fun last week. It was just the medicine that the doctor ordered!

Gina K had featured tent topper cards on Stamp TV this week. It's been a while since I made one, so I decided to give it another go.

{recipe: Baroque Motifs (SU), Rich Razzleberry cardstock and ink, Dusty Durango cardstock, pure luxury ivory cardstock, Making Memories houdstootch check paper, oval punches, scallop square punch, pearls, satin ribbon}

When you slide the ribbon off, it reveals the present inside. A delicious tea from Yogi brand called Tahitian Vanilla Hazelnut....so good! It also reveals the sentiment (from Gina K). Thank you, Sue, with all my heart!

Speaking of medicine that the doctor ordered...my doctor did order the medicine, literally. I'm back on a one month treatment of antibiotics, trying to kick my chronic Lyme disease back into remission. It has returned, once again, to plague my summer. It makes me wonder...which came first, the funk or the Lyme (aka the chicken or the egg)? I'm having good days (today is one!) and bad days (yesterday was another!). I'm confident that I'll be back to my happy crafty self one day soon.

There's a great tune they've been playing on K-Love this summer (do you have this station in your area? I love it!). The song is by Nicole C. Mullen, and it says "When I call on Jesus, all things are possible." I'm seeing the possibilities these days, and it's a good feeling.

Thanks for not giving up on the little cafe, everyone!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Conner Prairie

Last week, my family spent the day at Conner Prairie, an interactive historical museum located in Fishers, Indiana.

We visited the barn, where we fed some chicks...

said hello to the sheep...

and admired the handsome smile of this goat with a serious underbite issue!

Conner Prairie's latest exhibit highlights the history of flight, with rides on a tethered hot air balloon.

Sam enjoyed dressing up in the period clothing while pretending to fly in a hot air balloon.

He's such a ham!

I needed a card for my niece, Hannah, who will be having her graduation party this weekend. She's heading off to college at Ohio University next month. I decided that hot air balloons would be a nice image for this card.

{recipe: Everyday Button Bits (Papertrey Ink stamps), Versafine sepia ink, sage shadow and chocolate chip cardstock, Cosmo Cricket's Nutmeg papers, Spring mix vintage buttons (PTI), brown button from SU, lace from Webster's Pages}

Hope your days are filled with joy, too! Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Happy 17th, John!

Happy Birthday, John Ryan! Today was my Johnny's 17th birthday. He just returned from a camping trip with his Dad at Warren Dunes State Park along Lake Michigan (by the way, don't you love that T-shirt?). John has had a fun day, and what could be more fun than cupcakes?

Of course, I had to make a few of the cupcakes unfrosted for Sam. Weird, I know, but he gets that from his mother.

I made John a cupcake card just for this occasion! I had bought a totally cool new punch from EK Success that makes a cupcake liner and topper. It's one of the new cool punches that stores flat...awesome!

{recipe: Polka Dot BG and Sweet Little Sentiments (SU), baja breeze ink and cardstock, kiwi kiss cardstock, Basic Grey papers, EK Success punch, versafine onyx ink, circle punches, amuse twinkles}

Hope your day gives you reasons to celebrate...with a cherry on the top!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Birthday, America! 234 years of liberty. I pray that we never take that freedom for granted.

I've been working on a patriotic pillow cover since, hmm, sometime this spring. I told myself that I'd finish before Memorial Day. When Memorial Day came and went, I figured I could get it done by Flag Day. When Flag Day came and went, I promised myself I'd get it done before Independence Day. Did I mention that I've been in a funk lately?

Well, I did not finish before Independence Day, but I did finish ON Independence Day. Here it is:

Sorry this pillow cover is so belated, Mom! On to the next project.

Blessings on your Fourth Festivities!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

MIA: My Mojo

Something strange has happened to me in the last six weeks. I have lost my mojo. Mojo. You know, the inspiration and motivation and desire to be creative, explore and seize the day. Well, let's just say that the seize has taken a siesta.

Ever since coming home from my "mountain top" experience at the Beth Moore Living Proof Live event, I've kinda sunk into a funk. It's been a combination of factors:

*Mother-in-law came to visit for two weeks, and that's a lot of entertaining and housekeeping duty right there.

*I had wisdom tooth troubles, but luckily have avoided the need to get them pulled thus far.

*Church has left me uninspired and I'm not in any Bible studies right now.

*Work hours have been sporadic.

*Social life has been non-existent.

*Shuttling the kids to the pool and various activities just trying to keep them entertained.

*Missing family and friends and wishing I could see them more often.

It all adds up to an existential crisis. Even cardmaking, something that I enjoy doing, has left me flat. After all, I have piles of cards, so why make more? Who am I gonna send them to? Sell them? Who's going to buy them? Am I making cards just so that I can post them at galleries and wait for people to leave a comment on them? How shallow is that? If I'm not stamping, then what should I blog about? And really, should I be blogging at all? What does it produce?

In the end, I am bored and listless and want to shout to the Lord "Lord, what am I doing here?"

I could really use a friend or two or three.

My husband has taken a week of vacation, and I'm terrified that he's going to stay at home all day and we're going to look at each other and wonder what we should be doing.

Today, I decided to make a card or two. I didn't have a reason, and I have no recipients in mind. I guess I just made them for me. And who knows. Maybe I'll figure out what to do with these piles of cards that are accumulating in my craft room.

{recipe: Fruitful Harvest stamp set (Gina K), Basic Grey Urban Prairie papers, oval punch, designer label punch, brad, basic black cardstock, versafine onyx ink}

{recipe: Botanicals stamp set (Gina K), Pure Luxury white cardstock, basic black cardstock, Versafine onyx ink, Tim Holtz mask, Glimmer Mist pearl, Amuse ribbon, Amuse rhinestone twinkles}