Shabby Miss Jenn

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Life Lessons

It is ok to be a 5-year-old in WalMart and want everything you see.

It is not ok to throw a fit when you're told (reminded actually, as we told you before entering) that you're not getting anything, that mom and dad are just looking at tv stands before we go out to dinner.

It is appropriate for mom and dad to decide that you are not going out to dinner, that because your behavior is continuing to be unacceptable, instead you and mom are going home for pb&j sandwiches while dad and your brother go out to dinner.

It is appropriate for you to lose privileges, such as Playstation and Leapster, in response to your continued poor behavior.

It is not ok for you to run to the back of the van and try the old "I'll only come out if you give me my games back". Tthat meant you lost them for the remainder of the week, instead of just the next 24 hours.

It is not ok to have to be carried, kicking me for all you're worth, into the house. (I don't know if it's ok or not, but I had to suppress every instinct I had to not burst into uncontrollable laughter - for some reason this struck me as unimaginably funny.)

It is ok for you to slowly begin calming down. I appreciate that you apologized to me without having to be prompted. And no, your apology is not getting any privileges back.

Sometimes parenting sucks.

It would be very ok for dad to bring me back a very large ice cream when he and brother return. I could use that tonight.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sneak Peek - Paper Trunk

Each month, Magazine has a column named Showroom. A sponsoring company provides the ScrapStreet Pit Crew with the product(s) they want to feature. September's sponsor is Paper Trunk. They sent us the Maybe Baby, Socialite and Wrangler lines to play with. Here's a sneak peek of what you'll find in the Showroom column in September's edition, which goes live on September 1.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Bit of Silliness

I made up a bunch of cards today for the Cards for Heros drive that ScrapStreet is conducting.

One of the paper lines I was working with is by Cosmo Cricket, and the name of the line is Mr. Campy. Sort of an earth-toned, camping/outdoorsy line of papers and embellishments. First I used one of my favorite Stampin' Up! stamp sets, Best of Cluck. The "just chicken in" stamp makes me smile every time I see it. I colored the chickens using Copic markers in shades that worked with the papers.

Then I moved on to using rubons, chipboard, and stickers that are designed to coordinate with the Mr. Campy papers. There are many kind of silly phrases, like "I love you s'more" that I used. I even did one card that says "you light up my life" above a (lit) flashlight. Go ahead, groan with me!

Lastly, I had a few Christmas images that I had stamped in black on kraft paper. So I used them to create these simple cards.

Off to get the mom taxi running - it's time to pick Matthew up from school.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Carpooling and the Bird Quilt

This year, with Jeremy getting out at noon and Matthew at 3pm, I have three trips to school every day. It takes 20 minutes each way, except in the morning, when it takes 35-40 minutes to get there during rush hour.

Until today. Today I and another mom who lives about 5 minutes from our house begin carpooling for the afternoon pick-ups. She has the double afternoon pick-up like I do. So, one of us will do the noon run and the other will do the 3pm run. We'll switch every week or so. I am very excited about this, from a time perspective and because of the rising costs of gas.

I thought I'd show you my second applique quilt today. (I know, beat me up, but I don't have a picture of the first quilt I made with applique.) It's named "Birds Outside My Window".

This one was a present for my brother Bill, who loves birds and spent many hours of his childhood trying to catch them. I drafted the patterns from a Dover coloring book, simplifying as necessary to get the look I wanted. The birds are cardinals, chickadees, grackles, and blue jays, all frequent visitors in eastern MA where we grew up. The blocks are placed in the attic windows set.

There is hand and fusible applique and a very tiny amount of free-motion machine embroidery to make the buds on the branches on which the grackles are perched. The bird's egg fabric in the outer border was found in the Portland, Oregon area. (I traveled nearly 100% in a former job, and often had time to stop in local quilt shops.) I had just started working on the quilt and when I found that fabric I almost levitated - I knew it would be perfect for this piece.

I am one of those fortunate crafters whose family truly appreciates handcrafted items. They use and/or display them. I feel so blessed to have this kind of acceptance and appreciation for my work!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Boys and Trees...

are inseparable! Mine love to play in the woods behind our house, and trees are endlessly fascinating playthings for them. Dead, alive - it's all good.

But Nana has the most amazing pine tree in her front yard, and the branches radiate from the trunk at perfect spacing for climbing. And so, for the first few days we were in MA for our vacation, if they were outside we knew we'd find them up the tree. I did this layout today so they'd remember the fun they had.

Journaling: The boys are more than a bit obsessed with the climbing tree in front of Nana's house. No, not the one in the main picture, but it's the same height as the climbing tree (of which a branch can be seen on the left), so you can get an idea of how large it is. The boys were allowed to climb about to the height of the second floor window. (And yes, I did worry about the broken arms, but let them do it anyway.) If they were outside, they were in the tree. Picking the bark off it, creating "rooms" to hang out in, they looked like little clothed squirrels.

And here are a few more pictures of them in the tree. They both loved posing and having their picture taken while in it, so you know I took full advantage of it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

First Day of School!

And the boys are so excited! The were each the teacher's helper today (one benefit of having B as the first letter of your last name) and are excited to go back to school tomorrow. The little monkeys were quite unwilling to give me a "nice" picture this morning, and much preferred to be total goofballs. But I did get this one semi-decent one of their smug little smiling faces!

Since today was Jeremy's first day of Kindergarten, I made him a decorated Kindergarten box, filled with goodies like new crayons, pencils, a glue stick, tissues, etc. He was delighted with his new gift. (Matthew and my niece Tori got them too, when they started K, and my nephew Dylan will get one next year.)

And what did I do with my morning of freedom? I had 2 hours to myself. (They have early release all week and won't start on the normal schedule until next week.) I did some laundry and made 10 cards for the Cards for Heroes drive. I love these cute little chickadees from the Every Day Button Bits stamp set from Paper Trey Ink. I just added buttons and some paper and they are good to go!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Both boys have become obsessed with Legos. They love looking at the Lego catalog as much as they love to create with the Legos. (I'm guessing Santa will have a Lego-heavy wish list from the boys this year.)

Jeremy has decided that he wants to get the Lego Deathstar set. It has 3,800 pieces and is "only" $400. Yes, that's right, four hundred dollars! So he's told us he's saving up for it. (Note to self: Congratulate self and husband for teaching the boys to save up for special items they want to buy instead of just asking mom and dad to shell out for it.)

But, at $4 per week allowance money, it's going to take a long, long time to save that much money. So this morning he became an entrepeneur. He created his own Lego set, and asked me if I'd like to buy it from him for only $10. When I declined, he checked to see if Dad would buy it. Another no. About 5 minutes later, he returned to me with a reduced-price offer: $2 for the set. I love so much about his spirit and creativity! Now if he'd only apply it to cleaning his room...

So, any takers on a 4-piece and one character Lego set for the bargain price of $2?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cape Cod, the Book

Well, the soon-to-be book. I have begun making layouts from the pictures from the Cape. I'm beginning to think of a bound book of them, that I can give to my mom, sister, and brother as a memoir of the trip. (All pictures can be clicked on to pull up a large version.)

This one is of Ryan (the hubby) showing Jeremy (ds#2) a hermit crab; I love the sandy hand!

Credits can be found here.

You've seen this picture before, of the kids watching the sun set. It's one of my favorite pics of the trip, and this layout may just become one of my favorite layouts of the trip.

Credits can be found here.

And last, but not least... Really not least, because I envision this becoming the cover of the book! A few pictures that I think captured the trip. My favorite is the one of my mom - you can just see how happy she was to have all her kids and grandkids together. It was taken the first night were were at the Cape.

Credits can be found here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Tidal Pool Critters

While at the Cape, we stayed in Brewster, MA. The Brewster Flats are pretty amazing. According to Wikipedia, "The Brewster Flats are tidal flats on on Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts, particularly near the town of Brewster, and are a unique environment. They are the widest expanse of tidal flats in North America, rivaled in the western hemisphere only by a similar expanse in Brazil."

At low tide, you could walk straight out from the beach for at least a mile. There were all sorts of critters out there for the boys to find. Some critters were alive, and some of the critters were dead. The dead ones contributed a nice little stink during low tide, though that attracted all sorts of sea birds. Easy meal, I guess.

It was a nice walk out. Some bare sand, some shallow (mid-calf at it's deepest) water, and a few sandbars with little tidal rivers beside them. The boys loved seeing and learning about the sea life. Here are a few of the animals we saw:

Green crab

Hermit crab

Sand dollar (I'd never seen a living one before!)

Jellyfish (picture courtesy of my friend Babs who joined us for a day)We also saw huge horseshoe crabs, sea snails, small shrimp, small fish who got trapped in the tidal pools (and then chased by the boys), clams, sea gulls (of course), sandpipers, and a variety of other shore birds. There were tons of shells, but mostly oysters, mussels, clams, and razor clams.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cards for Heroes Mini Blog Hop

I am participating in a mini blog hop with other talented crafters in honor of the Cards for Heros program. This amazing organization has sent over 170,000 cards to our military men and women in service to our country.

In the scrapping community, there are lots of military wives and military kids. I've learned so much about what they and their military spouses/parents go through to provide our protection and freedom. I am truly honored and humbled by their efforts. I love that CFH provides comfort to both the servicemen and -women overseas by giving them cards to send to their families, and also comfort to the families waiting back home when they receive that card.

I made this card using some scrap paper, a stamp, some ink, and a slide mount. To dress up the slide mount, I doodled a few holly leaves and berries with a Martha Stewart Crafts opaque pen, then put in the details with an American Crafts slick writer.

If you get a chance today, make a small Christmas card and send it in to CFH so that a solider can let his/her family know how much they mean to them from so far away. If you want, you can participate in our CFH Card Drive at too, and not only get the chance to win some great prizes but truly make Christmas special for the "waiting families" at home. The deadline for getting Christmas Cards to CFH is November 1st and right around the corner! Make sure you get those holiday cards in soon!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wowsers! Check Out This Prize Opportunity!

Karen Russell, a military wife herself, has recently stepped back from teaching scrapbooking classes and designing scrapbooking products to focus on teaching photography classes full time. She has offered this AMAZING prize to one lucky winner in today’s challenge at ScrapStreet's Cards For Heroes contest:

a seat in her next photography class!!!!!

If you have not read anything about this class or seen the amazing photos that come OUT of this class, you need to check it out here: Snapshots of a Good Life.

So head on over to Karen’s blog and get involved in the challenge!!!! You will have from now until Sunday, August 16th at midnight to submit your cards!!! You may upload your creations to the CFH Gallery here.

Round Robin Quilts

I belong to a quilting group called Cyberbee, and have for over 10 years now. Up until this year, we met quarterly. We've just changed our schedule to meet 6 times a year, at roughly 2-month intervals.

We routinely do challenges and exchanges together. Several years ago, eight of us decided to do a round robin exchange. For those of you who haven't heard the term, a round robin is a progressive quilt top. The group decides on the rules; in this case, the borders were to be triangles, curves, squares, 2" wide border (could be anything), applique (on a new border), embellishment (of any of the previous sections), and "anything goes".

Each member makes a center square, and puts together a package containing a note describing their likes and dislikes, perhaps the colors they do (or do not) want in the quilt, even the fabric, (all or some) to be used in the quilt, a preferred size, and often a disposable camera so pictures can be taken at each step. They then pass that package to the next person "in line", who adds the border in the agreed-upon style. It then gets passed to the next person, and so on and so on. The quilt top belongs to the member who made the center block.

Our group additionally decided that we wouldn't get to see the tops in progress - we actually kicked the member out of the meeting room while their top was brought out and ooohed and aahed over by the group, progress was discussed, and often opinions were sought on where to go next with the project. After 14 months, all the tops were done and we had the big reveal. This was 2 years ago, and the tops are in various stages of completion, from still contemplating how to quilt them, to partially done, to finished.

Lots of lessons were learned with this project. How difficult it is to put the first border on the center block - it can do so much to define the rest of the project. Embellishment and applique were a breeze for some gals, and for others of us, a real struggle. ( I personally had a really hard time with embellishment - just like I do on scrapbook pages.) We each tried to make our borders be in context and in scale with the rest of the quilt. Adding the final border was almost as hard as adding the first border! Another thing we learned is that the tops took on a life of their own. They "spoke" to each of us as we worked on them.

And they are spectacular and I want to share them with you today, even though we got them back in 2007. There were a lot of speechless moments and not a few tears shed as we saw our quilt tops for the first time.

This first one is Michelle's: she wanted to use peacock colors and had an actual, 3-foot long peacock feather in her package as inspiration for us. The appliqued peacock, and the use of actual peacock feathers as embellishment on each of the blocks in the wide border put this quilt over the top.

This one is Mary's - her center block was a spectacular applique. We all decided it looked like Mexican tiles and went with that theme. She originally wanted a wall-sized quilt that she could hang in her kitchen. This one really had it's own agenda though, and became a bed-sized top.

This is Holly's. In addition to being an incredible quilter, Holly is a beautiful singer. She was inspired by a brooch to make the her center block, which was a musical heart. She wanted to stick with a black/white/red/pinkish color scheme.

This is Jeanne's flower cabin. She and her husband have been building a log cabin home in the mountains for her retirement. It will fit in beautifully there!

Jenny's Elvis quilt - this might just have been everyone's favorite quilt to work on. It certainly was a ton of fun! What you can't see in this daylight picture is the LED flashing lights that go around the pale yellow colored edge of the jukebox! It really looks amazing.

Alice wanted somthing fun and funky, and I think this fit the bill. Many of us were calling it the Carribbean quilt when we were done with it because it reminded us of fun at the beach.

This is Tess' reproduction quilt. She provided all of the reproduction fabrics to be used in it, along with the stunning Mariner's Compass center block. Her mom passed away while the project was on-going and Tess decided to drop out. But we decided to do her borders for her until she was ready to get back to it. I can't remember who did the applique border, but what we found out at the reveal - through her tears - was that Tess' mom really liked eagles. It made a special quilt mean that much more to Tess.

And last but not least is my quilt, which I call Pomegranate Star. I spent weeks just staring at it after I got it, stunned by how wonderful it is. It's now quilted and hangs in my living room. I see it each time I use the stairs.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sewing Room Organization

I really, really like being organized. While my office/craft room turns into a creative mess during a big project, between projects I generally put everything back where it lives. My fabrics and papers are organized by color and type. I have a fabric-covered peg board to the right of my sewing machine - it holds scissors, templates, rulers, and a variety of other often-used items within arm's reach while i'm working. I have a variety of storage devices that I love.

Several years ago I saw an idea in a magazine (probably a quilting magazine) to keep track of your sewing machine needles that are used, but not yet at the point of needing to be discarded. They marked each section of a tomato-style puncushion with a needle size, and when you switched needles you just placed your used needle into the appropriate section. I gave it a try, but the marker I used bled into the tomato fabric and was quickly illegible.

I've been enjoying working with wool lately and have made a needlecase or two. And I realized that would work for my machine needles as well, but I wanted them on the wall next to the machine for ease of access. So, a little wool, a little batting and scrap fabric, a few grommets, and about an hour's time produced this little needle keeper. And now that I've purchased some of Superior's titanium needles, which last ages and ages, it will certainly get a lot of use.

The North Carolina Quilt Symposium show was hosted here in Raleigh by the Capital Quilter's Guild in May. I had a fine time talking with Vicki, the owner of Annie's Keepsakes, a wool shop based in Rockwell, NC. Her wool goods were beautiful, especially the bamboo wool - it was as soft as silk! But I really fell in love with her pincushions. Yes, I know, pincushion patterns are a dime a dozen lately. But what sets Vicki's patterns apart (IMHO) is her method of display that makes them more of a sculpture. She uses a variety of easily found items (spools, wooden wheels, metal coils) that both display the pincushion and are an integral part of the sculpture. I wanted many, but ended up buying and making the one that I thought looked like a coneflower. It has leaves that hold my seam ripper and small scissors. The flower petals can be up (like they are in this picture) or down. In this case, the base is a piece of bamboo.

A local theater is offering "free" movies on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. (I put free in quotes because while the tickets are free, by the time I buy the drinks and popcorn I will be out $20.) This morning is "The Bee Movie". The boys are quite excited to see it. Although, Matthew might just be more excited about having the popcorn. That child dearly loves his popcorn.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Funnies 1

As I mentioned a few posts ago, one night at the Cape we went to see the sun set. The kids got there, talked about how orange the sun was, and proceeded to play on the jetty and pretty much ignore the beautiful skies.

After we'd been there about 15 minutes, Jeremy turned to us, somewhat irritated, and said "when are we going to see the sunset?" Mom and I couldn't stop laughing for a while, but finally did get to explain it to him.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Stepping Out of the Box

I do not consider myself to be an "art quilter" or an "artist", but when I received some new toys a few weeks ago (silk and canvas that are ready to run through a printer), I decided to marry together my digital scrapbooking, regular scrapbooking, and quilting skills to create this mixed-media piece. It's way outside of my normal box, but it was such fun that I think I'm going to alter my normal box so I do more of it.

Several digital papers were used as the background for the digital alphabet. I printed these on silk, then quilted them onto batting (no backing) using various variegated threads. I then outlined each rectangle with chenille fibers.

I painted a 16x20 inch artist's canvas with acrylic and alcohol ink, then layered it with squares of digital papers that were printed, punched, and inked. I added a few gems for a bit more sparkle.

The large square is a mini-quilt, of sorts. It was made by printing another digital paper, framed with two digital frames stacked on top of each other, onto sticky-backed canvas. (I had to fool my printer a bit, but it worked!) I adhered the canvas to batting and quilted it using the motifs in the digital paper: longitude and latitude lines, the postmark in the upper right corner (now hidden), the leaf image, and the flower.

The frames were accentuated with a variety of fun fibers. I used photo hangers to string it onto shimmery ribbon, which is stapled to the artist's canvas frame (16x20 inches). I felt it still needed something in the bottom left corner, so i used letter stamps and some Staz-on ink to put some of my creative goals onto it. The spot above the word "layouts" still looks a little bare to me, and I think I'm going to add a thread-painted dragonfly I created in Susan Brittingham's embellishment class through Quilt University.

This piece lives in my office where I can see it while i'm working at the sewing machine or the computer. If you're interested in a complete list of materials, you can find it here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cards for Heroes

Do you make cards? If so, please join in the Cards for Heroes drive and contest that's starting at Scrapstreet today! There will be three weeks of challenges (with prizes) and other prizes at the end for various categories, like most cards made.

Cards for Heroes provides hand-made cards to our servicemen and -women who are serving overseas, as well as free delivery of the cards back to the states. They can keep in touch with their friends and family back home. You can learn more about the Cards For Heroes organization here.

Here are a few that I've been making:

Please join us for this worthy cause!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The More Things Change...

the more they stay the same. And that is a good thing when you're speaking of Cape Cod. I was so afraid that when I got there, after a 20+ year absence, that the Cape would be overdeveloped and ugly, like Myrtle Beach and so many of the Florida beaches. But development has been heavily restricted. The Cape is still mostly cottages, and very quaint looking. There are extensive bike trails all over it. And walking and biking are still the most common methods of transportation for anything local. I'm going to share a few highlights of the trip here...

I was fortunate to be there during the peak of the hydrangea season - the colors run mostly blues and purples there. Here is a typical Cape cottage with it's colorful front garden and weathered shingles. I got to see this, and many others like it, every day while walking to the beach.

My mom rented a cottage in Brewster, MA for 2 weeks. At it's craziest, 11 of us were there. My mom, me, my kids and hubby, my sister and her two kids and hubby, my brother and his friend. The beach was a short walk from the house, about 1/4 mile or so. Boats were anchored everywhere. I really liked this "old-fashioned" wooden one - it was just so classic looking.

The boys had a ball goofing off with each other and their cousins. Matthew lost his other front tooth, and really enjoyed his new "gap", and learning that he can, indeed, still whistle!

We went on a whale watch out of Provincetown (P-town), at the very tip of the Cape. We got lucky and got to see Finback whales, Humpback whales, and Minke whales. This Humpback looked like he (she?) was skipping across the water as he breached 4 times. It was called a "chin breach" and they think the purpose is to knock the barnacles off their chins. (The barnacle cluster is pretty large, the diamond-shaped section of grey at the top of the black part under his chin.)

And we made it once to see the sunset. I know, how can you see the sun set over the water on the East coast? Well, out on the Cape, you can look back west toward Boston and so you do get a beautiful sunset over the water! I don't normally do posed photos, but had to make the boys and their cousin Tori hold hands on the jetty while they looked at the sunset. Love how they are silhouetted against it!

The humidity reminded me why air conditioning is a very good thing.

One night Mom and I weren't paying attention to the street names and got turned around - but it was a happy thing because we found an Emack and Bolio's ice cream shop and all had a special treat. (Extra special if you're like me and don't get the "high test" ice cream anymore.)

The Brewster Flats will get a post all their own - truly an amazing sight (and stink, LOL).

More later. In the meantime, I'm off to continue unpacking and doing laundry and figuring out what else needs doing around the house. And to keep removing the cat from my lap, she's a little desperate for company!