Friday, January 31, 2014

Monday Mood Board 26: The Mother of All Cards

Hello, cafe friends!

Dawn at WPlus9 posted this photo at the WPlus9 design blog for the Monday Mood Board challenge. Aww, so sweet. My eye was instantly drawn to that sweet rosebud paper on the left. Then, I found myself staring at that golden hello with a pink watercolor wash in the background. I decided to stamp my own background paper this morning, using the stamp set Fresh Cut Florals. Here's what I came up with:

I stamped the flowers and leaves on soft stone card stock (PTI) using SU ink, then ran the whole thing through a woodgrain embossing folder (SU).

I attempted a little watercolor effect, using a clear block, an ink pad, an a mister (direct to paper method). Then, I carefully inked only the Mother sentiment from Happy Mother's Day (wplus9), using a gold ink pad and heat setting.

A little extra gold sparkle with the diecut hearts and ribbon. A little doily, a flower, and done. It has a sort of vinage feel for me, with the soft colors, the glitter, and the font. While I like the overall effect, I'm not one hundred percent happy with the layout. Oh well. I may play around with this and see what else I can come up with this weekend.

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This End Up: Saving The Pink Bathroom

One of the joys of living in an older home is all of the quirky character...laundry chutes, pocket doors, original tile. Consequently, one of the challenges of living in an older home is working with what you original tile that happens to be pink.

When we started, the boys' bathroom was a whole lot of pink and sweetness. Pink sinks, pink tiles, pink toilet, pink tub. And to carry on the theme, the previous owners had left behind their pink gingham shower curtain and pink gingham bath mats. The white walls and white frilly curtains added to the sweetness.

My boys did not appreciate the sweetness.

As you may have gathered from our yellow bathroom remodel, we are not the kind of owners that rip out something that functions perfectly. Namely, because we are cheap and we are paying exhorbitant amounts of money every semester for our son's private engineering college tuition.

But I digress.

The tiles and fixtures in this bathroom are in pristine condition...not a crack or chip to be seen.

The problem was all that pink in a boys' bathroom. How could we neutralize that pink? I decided that the solution was to add a new color. The always exciting, goes-with-everything taupe.

Okay, taupe may not be all that exciting, but it does have the power of having the perfect combination of acid to base. That was for the engineers out there. :)

If you are thinking of painting a room taupe, you better make sure to grab a LOT of samples from the paint department. Taupe can have so many different undertones. We found some to be too pink (which we were avoiding), some to be too grey, some to be too green or yellow. In the end, we picked a nice tone from Lowe's Historic Preservation colors...Cincinnatian Hotel Beige.


Thank you, Target, for your Threshold collection! If this shower curtain looks vaguely familiar, that's because I have the same shower curtain in our yellow a perfect yellow and gray combination. When I saw this shower curtain in shades of taupe with just a hint of coral pink, I knew that it would be the perfect thing to tie the taupe in with the pink bathroom.

I think that the taupe has accomplsihed its mission. It says "Sure, I'm a bathroom that happens to feature a lot of pink. But didn't you hear? Pink is the new neutral!"

This is a pretty big bathroom! Double sinks and big linen closet in the first room, separated by a pocket door leading to the shower and toilet.

Gone are the frilly curtains, replaced with a simple white.

I purchased new silver accessories for the bathroom to match the silver fixtures at the sink and the silver hardware on the cabinets. A rockin' dog for some whimsy, and the accessories were complete.

I love living with vintage items, but I try not to make my home a museum. There has to be a happy medium...a mixture of charming old with cool contemporary. I think that was accomplished here.

Now, when I walk past this bathroom, it makes me smile. Not in a "Ha! Ha! The boys have a pink bathroom!" sort of way. Now I smile because the room is soft and serene....and not so pink.

Another vintage bathroom saved from the demolition crew!

(Have you ever visited the website 'Save The Pink Bathrooms!' Yep, there are other folks just like me out there!)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Marking My Place

I've been keeping up with my seventy day prayer odyssey, using a Beth Moore prayer devotional. The other day, I realzied that I could use some bookmarks to mark my place in both my bible and in my devotional. I went in the craft room and just played around for a while.

For this one, I used the bookmark die from Papertrey Ink. I'm still playing with the Hero Arts ink pads, trying to get a feel for them. So I decided to use them here in a direct to paper method. Then I stamped on top of that with Lace Bouquet stamp (PTI) in Hero Arts cornflower ink. I found that this verse from PTI (Bountiful Blessings) fit perfectly!

Then I pulled out a few more PTI sets...All Booked Up and Stitches and Swirls. I used the new ink pads to do a little watercoloring, too.

Crafting, reading, cooking, eating, Netflix. How are you passing the time this winter?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Playing With Distress Stains

Had some fun playing with Distress Stains this week. I used them to give a wash of color in this watercolor effect.

{Today's Brew: Hero Arts flower stamp, PTI sentiment, PTI card stock, Distress Stains, twinkle, Liquid Pearls}

On a day when all is white, it's nice to have a little rainbow of color. I used the Liquid Pearls to dot the flower, then put a twinkle (colored black with a Sharpie) in the flower center.

Thanks for looking today!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Pears in a Bowl

I went to the local market this week, where I found these beautiful mixed pears in a bag. I had to bring them home, just because they were so pretty.

Sam, the resident artist, said "They look like a painting!"

I thought so, too.

Last night, I made the most amazing salad for dinner. Spinach salad with diced pear and strawberries in a honey balsamic dressing. Sooo good! Pears are in season now, so it's a great time to include them in meals. Here's my recipe:

Spinach Salad with Pears :

I bag baby spinach, chopped
8-10 strawberries, sliced
1 pear, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
1/4 cup sliced almonds

1/2 c. olive oil
2-4 T balsamic vinegar
2-4 T. red wine vinegar
3-4 T. honey

Whisk dressing. In a bowl, combine spinach, strawberries and pears. Add dressing and toss. Top with feta and sliced almonds and enjoy!

The pears in a bowl inspiured my pears in a salad, which inspired my pears on a card. Funny how that works!

I've been loving the Fruit Fusion stamps from Papertrey Ink for a long time, and I finally purchased them at a great price from the Buy/Sell forum at PTI. Do you  buy used stamps or crafting supplies? I think it's a great way to add to your collection without breaking the bank.

I used a "fruit salad" of papers from Crate Paper for this creation.

{Today's Brew: Fruit Fusion Pears and die from Papertrey Ink, PTI white card stock, SU inks, Crate Paper papers}

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cool Friend

Cold, cold, cold! It certainly feels like January outside this week! We've warmed up a bit here. Yesterday it was -6 when we woke up, but this morning it is 10 degrees. Heat wave!

I decided to use a really old stamp set from Hero Arts. The box says 2000. Back in those days, my husband worked in the formal wear industry, and I thought the penguins were appropriate. I've gotten rid of a LOT of old stamp sets over the years, but this little guy always makes the cut.

What can I say? He's cool!

{Today's Brew: Hero Arts stamp set, sentiment from Lawn Fawn, papers and snowflakes (Lawn Fawn), PTI card stock, amuse star twinkles}

Stay warm, cafe friends!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Year of Living Intentionally: January

My husband and I spent lots of hours on the road over the holidays, and it gave us plenty of time to talk. We talked about what we wanted to do in this fresh new year, and both of us had a common goal.

We wanted 2014 to be a year of living intentionally.

What exactly does living intentionally look like?

Well, here's what we thought it would look like.

We thought we'd be more intentional with our finances. We need to cut expenses and make plans for how we will finance the last year of our son's college tuition. We want to be better stewards of our resources and increase our giving.

We thought we'd be more intentional with our time. We want to set aside more time with our family and with each other. We will be celebrating our 25th anniversary this year, and we want to plan something special to mark the occasion.

We thought we'd be more intentional with our calendar. We want to do a better job of planning family vacations and special events. We don't want another December to roll around and realize that we haven't taken our kids anywhere.

These were the things we intended to do.

And then we found ourselves smack in the middle of January, and God threw us a curve ball. Suddenly, our thoughts are consumed, our heads are reeling, and our best intentions seem like folly.

How can we live intentionally, God, when life is out of our control?

And that is exactly when God taught me how to live intentionally.

"Remember 'In all things, prayer'? This might be a good time to get a little more intentional with your prayer life."

Oh, yeah.

Living intentionally does not mean that I am in control. It means that I surrender to the one who is in control. Martin Luther said it best when he taught that we need to get down on our knees and pray as if it all depends on God, and then get up and work as if it all depends on us.

I am beginning a seventy day prayer odyssey with the help of Beth Moore's devotional book "Whispers of Hope". Ten weeks of intentional prayer. More Jesus, less me.

A daily cup of grace. Intentional, nonfat, with whip, and a generous drizzle of prayer on top.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Tale of Two Ink Pads

I have been on the hunt for "the perfect ink pad" for quite some time now.  I want something that stamps with precision every time, no matter the make of stamp or the paper. Basically, I want what I have found with my Versafine Onyx ink, except in a big palette of colors. Yeah, it's a tall order.

I have been reading some good reviews on the Hero Arts shadow inks, and thought I'd give them a try.

I decided to compare the Hero Arts inks to the new formulation of Stampin' Up inks, using a big solid image stamp and similar colors for comparison.

The only inks from SU that I own in the new formula are the current In Colors.

Hmm, don't know why these insist on loading upside down this morning. I have a headache, so bear with me!

As you can see, there are a few spots on the flowers that stamped blotchy. I am using photopolymer stamps here, and I think SU is probably formulated to work best with rubber. I am not certain if I prefer the old SU inks or the new SU inks. The new inks provide a little better coverage, but you do get a little more feathering. You seem to lose some of the crispness.

Now for the Hero Arts ink pads.

What? Aagain with the upside downyness! My head hurts!

Hero Arts has soft shadow inks and midtone shadow inks in a wide variety of colors. They are so fresh and pretty. I think I prefer them to the color palette of Distress Inks, which just seem a little muddier.

So, if you hang like a bat upside down...heh can see that the new Hero Arts gave pretty full coverage. It stamps in a way that reminds me of chalk ink somehow.

In the end, I could not decide which one I liked better. So I called in an expert.

"Sam, which inks do you think did a better job?"

"I like this one better," said ten-year old Sam.

So there you have it. Sam prefers the Hero Arts inks.

I think I'll need to play with them a little longer before I am fully convinced.

Tell me, do you have a favorite ink?

I have tried Distress Inks, and like I said, I think it's the color palette that turns me off. They just seem dusty or muddy, probably best for a vintage type of project. Maybe they work best with techniques, and I'm just not a technique kinda gal. I do love Distress Stains, but I rarely if ever reach for my Distress Inks or markers.

I really want to pair down and choose just one style to woirk with, so it looks like I'll be culling the collection soon. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Something Fun For A Monday

Who's ready for something fun on a Monday?

{hand raised way up in the air!}

It felt like an exceptionally long weekend. My husband had taken a few days off (surprise!), so he decided to tackle a painting project (big reveal to come this week!). I find that it's best to stay out of his way when he is in full project mode.

So I hid in the craft room. 

I decided to get a little cleaning done in the craft room, which led to a little crafting in the craft room. Funny how that happens!

I made this card for a friend who retired recently. Lynn loves flamingos, so I think she'll get a kick out of this card.

{Today's Brew: Stamps (Lawn Fawn), card stock (PTI), embossing folder (SU) }

Monday blessings, cafe friends!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

This End Up: Taking Our Wood Panelled Midcentury Modern Family Room Back To Its Roots

Welcome to the cafe!

I realized this morning that I have not given a This End Up/House report in quite a while. So, today is the day for the family room reveal!

When we first toured the house last year, my husband walked into this room and said "Ugh, wood panelling."

To which I replied, ""Ooh, wood panelling!"

I really liked this room, and could see all sorts of possibilities. We moved our thirteen year-old overstuffed furniture in and made ourselves comfy. Or we tried to, at any rate. But the overstuffed furniture took up a lot of space and really did not offer enough seating for our family movie nights.

It was time to upgrade.

We offered the old furniture to a nephew, who made the drive all the way from Toledo, Ohio to Pittsburgh, just to lay claim to the sofas, chair and ottoman. Yeah, he was THAT desperate for furniture!

The old went out, and the new came in. Here is how the family room looks now.

We went furniture shopping with our room dimensions and a plan in mind. For starters, we knew that the purpose of this room was for movie viewing, so getting enough seating was priority. And in order to make that happen, we also knew that we needed furniture that was smaller scaled, with smaller arms and shorter depth.

We had a wonderful sales associate at Macy's. Mechita was so sweet, a dear Christian woman and a cancer survivor.  She made great recommendations, and we had a lot of laughs through the process.

We opted for a sofa with ottoman, two leather recliners, and an occasional chair. Comfortable seating for six! I am so glad we decided against a loveseat, as it impeded the flow into the room before.

I knew that I wanted a blue sofa. Like a great pair of blue jeans, I figured a blue sofa could go with just about anything. This sofa has a low profile, and has been compared to that favorite sofa at your Grandma's house.

I knew that we would probably fight over the awesome leather recliners, so I insisted on ordering two. We're so glad we did! My husband often uses this recliner as his work station. He can watch television with his briefcase nearby, while working on his ipad on his lapdesk. Now that's multitasking! The leather is a beautiful shade...a cross between a deep orange and cognac. It's soft, like butter!

There were a lot of masculine elements in the room, so I had to throw in a fun chair, just for whimsy. It fits me perfectly, and it's a great spot to read or stitch.

Of course, the real purpose of the room is for late night movie viewing, which is made even cozier with a roaring fire in the wood burning fireplace!

I found these pretty Smith and Hawken fireplace tools for half off after Christmas at Target! The color is perfect in this room, and my husband has been putting them to use all week.

Overall, we're so pleased with how the room has turned out. We still have a few projects in curtains, new lighting, and maybe some new artwork over the sofa. But for now, we are enjoying this room every day. This house does not have a basement, so we knew that our family room had to fill the void. And it does! It's a warm and welcoming spot for all of my boys (and my labrador) to gather over a bowl of popcorn and just relax.

We've put the "family" back into this family room!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Fast and Fresh Wreath

By mid January, I get a little hungry for flowers. It's silly, because I have a lot of weeks to wait before any flowers will dare to pop up out of the frozen earth. But still, a girl can let her mind wander to warm days and fragrant flowers, even in the middle of winter.

While I am dreaming of spring gardens, I'll just have to settle for paper gardens!

I made a fun, fast wreath on this card using Fresh Cut Florals from WPlus9 design. I LOVE X3 these stamps! So versatile! To make the wreath, I simple traced a circle lightly with pencil onto the Soft Stone card stock (PTI), then used it as my guide to stamp the flowers and leaves. I used the soft and sweet In Colors from Stampin' Up, then used two different colors of Liquid Pearls to add the centers to the flowers. I gently erased any leftover pencil marks, and voila!

Soft and sweet! An easy one-layer card!

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Stamping Community

When you move to a new town, it often takes a while to feel a sense of community. A lot of people will tell you that it takes a full year for a new town to feel like home. I can tell you that in some cases, five years can go by, and you will still feel like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

I am happy to report that this is not the case for Pittsburgh.

I have felt at home the minute we moved here. Yes, I love my house. And yes, the hills and rivers and city are impressive. But at the end of the day, it is all about the people. This city has some of the best people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.

For the first time in a LONG time, I finally have a stamping community again. I have Cindy to thank for this. Cindy has only been a Stampin' Up demonstrator for a little over a year (she was stampin long before that, though), and she is such a fantastic demonstrator and friend! And if this photo looks a little bit blurry, that's because Cindy is always on the go!

This weekend, Cindy hosted a Stamp Camp at Iris and Ivory's Tea Room. It was so much fun!

I had a lovely winter blend tea that went perfectly with Cindy's homemade snickerdoodle cookies! (I won't tell anyone that you bought the cookies at Walmart, Cindy! LOL). Of course, because she always goes above and beyond, she had the cookies in a perfectly-themed hand stamped presentation.

Lunch was amazing! Balushka, where have you been all my life? One thing I love about Pittsburgh is that it is a town with a rich ethnic history. Restaurants will serve side dishes of pierogies, potato pancakes, and cabbage. There's a lot of ethnic pride here, and it shows in their yummy food!

Cindy had display tables filled with all the new goodies from the Occasions mini and the Sale-a-Bration catalog. Wow, the items are so pretty in person! I have a long wish list now!

We made some really fun projects after lunch. I will try to show them this week, or you can just hop on over to Cindy's blog. She really is amazing! Her projects are beautiful, but they also make you look at them and say "Oh, I can do that!" Unless, of course, it's a project with score lines and complicated folds and math. Then we're all completely lost. Ha ha!

Here's a link:

Have you ever noticed how wonderful people are often surrounded by more wonerful people? That is definitely the case with Cindy. I have made so many friends from her stamp camps! Sisters Jan and Diane (love you, ladies!), Sandy, Mary, and so many more. Every one of them will tell me "You were so lucky to find Cindy. Isn't she wonderful?"

Yep, she is!

Yesterday, in the sermon at church, our pastor said "You'll never get the full grip of God's love for you until you live in community."

That is so true!

I now have a stamping community!

I'm feeling the love.