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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Making The Time To Play

(Click on any photo to view a larger image.)

As I mentioned in my last post, I was under the weather and feeling really bad but started feeling a bit better once I made the effort to be a little creative. I decided to take some more of the same medicine and made another card and, by george, it worked again! There were a few scraps and things lying around on my craft table leftover from a recent OSA Crane Swap I entered. After staring at them for what seemed like an eternity, I ran with a simple idea and created this card. It's really very simple compared to the anniversary card I made last week. Strong, contrasting colors and simple clean lines are what this card is about.

The first thing that draws the eye is the ornate border element on the left, cut with Spellbinders Persian Accents die set. Some of the open spaces in the motif were accented with red card stock creating a bold color statement. The left edge of the design was also built up with the edge of the black card stock leftover from cutting the border design. I simply cut a very thin strip from this waste paper, matched its cut edge to the border motif and left a narrow space between them. A narrow strip of red card stock highlights the open spaces in the design as well as the narrow gap. The red accents in the rest of the design were created by punching red circles and red tear drops with a hand held punch and gluing them behind the openings. This was the fussiest part of creating this card yet it was the part I enjoyed most. The crane and verse stamps came from the Birds of the Orient 2014 clear stamp set from Mark's Finest Papers and Stamps.

To accomplish the text in different colors, I inked the stamp in Versafine Onyx Black ink, wiped off the ink from the word I wanted to highlight with a cotton swab, then colored the word with a Dee Gruenig brush marker and stamped. Please note: although the verse is seen in two parts on this card, it is actually one stamp. I masked out the part I didn't want to stamp, inked it up, removed the mask and stamped. In this way I was able to get double duty out of one stamp.

Guess I'll have to keep taking doses of creativity to stay healthy. I can do that. :)


Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Monday, April 7, 2014

Creating heals. Sorta...

(Click on any photo to view a larger image.)

So I've been sick for the last four days with what is either a very bad cold or a very mild flu. It isn't bad enough to keep me totally bedridden but it's annoying enough to leave me without much energy. I had to forgo my dance class today, something I really didn't want to do, which underscores the level to which I am sick. Next to nothing keeps me from a dance class. Thankfully I have been lucid enough at times to venture into my craft workshop and make up a couple of cards.

"Celebrate You" was created in honor of my sister and brother-in-law's 29th wedding anniversary. It was made in shades of white and iridescent ivory and accented with tiny bits of black and gold bling. Materials used were: Spellbinders Borderabilities A2 Curved Borders One die, Memory Box Vivienne Butterfly die (style #98265), Stampin' Up Elegant Lines Embossing Folder (retired), Celebrate You stamp by Stampin' Up (retired). Flowers, pearls and mini bling from my stash.

"Center Your Heart" was created for the Oriental Stamp Art (OSA) Yahoo Group's weekly layout challenge. The challenge for this week was to create a card similar to this one that also adhered to the basic rules for the weekly challenge, those being that the card must be Oriental in nature and must contain at least one stamped image. This was my best attempt. Actually it was my only attempt. I was lightheaded and fatigued as a result of my not-quite-the-flu symptoms but I liked the challenge so much that I muddled through until I finished it. I'm so glad I did. Creating a card, however simple, gives me a satisfying feeling of accomplishment. It goes a long way to combating the feelings of uselessness I get from spending a day slopping about in pajamas and generally feeling like...like...bleeechh!

Yeah, okay. It's time for me to crawl back into bed again.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Saturday, March 29, 2014

OSA Swaps and Challenges

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OSA Crane Swap 2014
OSA Layout Challenge #263
One of the challenges of working from home is the lack of interaction with other like-minded individuals from whom you can learn and draw inspiration, as well as share ideas, news and techniques. Years ago, in an effort to combat this artistic isolation, I became a member of Oriental Stamp Arts Yahoo Group, a wonderful of people who share a love of rubberstamping, card making and Oriental motifs. These people are wonderfully supportive and welcoming to everyone, no matter what their level of expertise, something I sorely needed when I was a newbie to the world of rubber stamping techniques. 

One of the great things about the group is the card swaps and layout challenges that are held on a weekly and monthly basis. This gives those of us who wish to participate the opportunity to practice our craft and share our work with others of our ilk. Recently I have tried to participate as much as I can in order to get my idle hands back into the rhythm of papercrafting and you can see those efforts in my previous posts here and here. Above are photos of my most recent cards. The green crane card was made for a swap in which I had to make four identical cards with a crane motif and send them to the swap hostess. In return I will receive crane cards from four other artists participating in the swap. In this manner we are able to physically exchange,or swap, our work. It's a great way to compare your work against that of others and see what techniques others use to create their cards.

The butterfly card was made for a weekly challenge in which we had to create a card that conformed to a layout selected by the challenge hostess. These challenges involve photographing our work and posting them on the OSA Yahoo group site for all to see and comment. No physical swapping of cards occurs. It never ceases to amaze me how many different interpretations people can come up with, some of which would never occur to me. It's a great way to learn new things.

I hope to participate in more swaps and challenges as time permits and I will post those images here. If you have any questions about the materials or techniques I used to create a card, please feel free to send me a message and I'll be happy to answer your questions. 

Until then, happy crafting. 

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Monday, March 3, 2014

Pinterest Ne'er Do Wells

Are you a "Person of Pinterest"? I definitely am. If you're unfamiliar with Pinterest, here is the Wikipedia definition of it:

Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that people use to collect ideas for their different projects and interests. People create and share collections (called “boards”) of visual bookmarks (called “Pins”) that they use to do things like plan trips and projects, organize events or save articles and recipes... Pinterest allows users to save images and categorize them on different boards. They can follow other users' boards if they have similar tastes. The most popular categories, as of March 2012, were home, arts and crafts, style/fashion, and food

I love having a place where I can place and categorize all those interesting links I find online and where I know I can go back to find them. It's also such a nice place to "hang out" and peruse what other people are "pinning" and perhaps share those pins also. Pinterest is one of my happy places.

Recently I received a message from Pinterest that gave me cause for concern. It warned me that suspicious activity appeared to be taking place on my account. It went on to say that as a safety precaution, the account was locked and I would have to re-establish a new password and a link was provided for my convenience. Inasmuch as I am suspicious of unsolicited links, I went directly to the Pinterest site to log in but was unable to. To make a long story short, it turns out that the email from Pinterest was legitimate and I did have to change my password. A few days to a week later I again received the "suspicious activity" email and was requested to change my password. An email to Pinterest after the first episode asking what type of activity occurred was never answered so I never really knew what they considered suspicious activity. That is, not until today.

While checking my boards, I noticed one that I had not created, one that had a link to some unknown site. Then when I was updating my profile, I noticed that some of my profile information had been changed, also linking to this unknown site. In all cases, I deleted it and replaced it with the correct information. Now I know what Pinterest referred to as "suspicious activity". Some miscreant had hacked my account and was using it to try and redirect people to another website.

Moral of the story: If you're a Person of Pinterest and receive an email claiming suspicious activity similar to the one I received, do the following:

  1. go directly to the Pinterest site (don't click on any links in emails), 
  2. change your password, 
  3. check your boards for any that you did not create. (I found  mine at the very end of my board list.)
  4. check your profile settings and check that all information is correct, particularly where it asks for your website address (if you have one). Copy then delete any incorrect information and replace it or leave it blank.
  5. Optional: send a message to Pinterest and provide the suspicious web address (that you copied before deleting). This step never occurred to me before deleting so I was unable to follow through with this one.
  6. Pin this post to one of your Pinterest Boards and let your People of Pinterest know about this. Wish someone would have done this for me.
Thanks for reading. Happy Pinning!


Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Saturday, March 1, 2014

OSA Weekly Challenge #261 - Sunburst

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This week's Oriental Stamp Art weekly challenge was to create a card using a sunburst or starburst pattern. I chose a pallette of cream, gold and black. I created the rays out of various papers in shades of cream and placed them on a gold paper with an embossed brocade pattern allowing the gold underneath to show between the rays. The coin pattern was stamped in clear Versamark watermarking ink and dusted with gold Pearl-Ex pigment powder to echo the look of the three Asian coins in the central motif. What I like about this pattern is that it can be used in either portrait or landscape orientation as I've shown here.


Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Monday, February 24, 2014

Trying To Get Back Into the Swing of Things

OSA Challenge #260
OSA Challenge #258
 I haven't been playing as much in my craft room as I prefer to and, frankly, I have missed it terribly. Life just kept getting in my way, focusing my attention on things other than my crafting. Recently I have been making a dedicated effort to making at least one card a week, just to keep my hands and mind moving. Sometimes, though, try as I might, I have a hard time coming up with an idea for a card and I end up wasting a whole lot of time futzing around and not coming up with anything. It was time to call in the reinforcements which, in this case, meant drawing on my network of fellow card makers at the Oriental Stamp Art (OSA) Yahoo Group that I haven't reached out to in years. There is a weekly layout challenge that gives you either a theme or an actual layout to use as inspiration in creating a card that is Oriental in nature and contains at least one stamped image. This is exactly what I needed, something to get my creative juices flowing and keep me focused on completing a project without having to come up with something totally new and original on my own.
OSA Challenge #259

Here you see my interpretations for the last three weekly challenges. I loved doing them and the regulars in the group welcomed me back with open arms and hearty compliments on my work. This is exactly the jump start I needed to keep my engine running. It felt so good to create something. Too good perhaps because life jumped up in my face again with more plans to divert my attention. This time it was flooding in my basement work room...three times in a week. Let's see how I can juggle this latest challenge and still find a bit of time to craft.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Throwback to the Holidays

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Gift for grandson #1
Gift for grandson #2
Dancing at our community association
holiday gathering























It's only the end of January, just one month after the December holiday festivities, but it feels as if they took place eons ago, having been buried under several feet of snow. During this frigid, unforgiving time, I want to look back to some of the benchmarks of my annual holiday traditions like coquito, bread pudding, wrapping presents and decorating the house. Here are a few snapshots of my holiday celebrations.

Bread pudding in the making
Coquito - traditional Puerto Rican
holiday drink
My Coast Guard daughter and her beau.
 All the decorations have been packed away and the good food  has been eaten. Now I can look forward to longer, warmer days and the promise of gardening come spring. Goodbye, holidays. Until next year.

Decorations dragged down from the attic.
Rocking the new scarf my
sister gave me.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Last Hurrah

The soft coolness of early fall has given way to the bitter chill of impending winter. Weather reports forecast temperatures dipping below the freezing mark and warned of possible overnight frost. That was the push I needed to evacuate my garden of the last of its crops and to finally see what was going on underground.

I had planted some sweet potatoes pieces that had sprouted in my cabinet because I left them in there too long and didn't eat them in time. Two years ago I had done the same thing with a piece a friend of mine was about to throw out. With my first attempt I was so excited and impatient to see the roots, I dug them up before they had fully matured. I didn't know I was supposed to allow the leaves to die back before harvesting them. This time I resolved to be patient and give the plants the time they needed to fully develop and I was rewarded with the roots you see above surrounded by the green tomatoes that were still growing on the vines. In all, I picked over three pounds of tomatoes and dug up nearly four pounds of sweet potatoes. The large one in the center of the photo weighed over a pound all by itself. Not bad for a vegetable garden that appeared to be nearly lifeless.

I haven't decided what to do with the roots yet. I'm toying with the idea of sweet potato pie, mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato fries or sweet potato chips. Then again I may do nothing, preferring to hand them over to my mother or sister to prepare for the Thanksgiving feast. It would be the first Thanksgiving that I am able to contribute something from the garden that everyone can partake of. I expect that several of the tomatoes will be ripe by then as well and I'll be able to make a salad for the holiday feast. Some that I had picked green a couple of weeks ago finally ripened to a beautiful red this week and went into my dinner salad so some of these greenies should be ready by the end of the month.

It's moments like this that make all the hard work of gardening worthwhile.


Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Harvest Time

This is the time of year my husband risks life and limb to harvest the apples in our tree. This is no small feat when you consider my tree, which I purchased believing it to be a dwarf variety, is over 25 feet high. We didn't harvest as many apples as we usually do but there were enough for me to make two apple pies and a couple quarts of fresh apple juice. This year I have a masticating juicer that I have been putting through its paces and it hasn't disappointed me yet. In addition to apples, I've juiced pineapples, carrots and pears. It is my intention to move as far away from processed foods as possible and the juicer is one step in that direction.


Another step towards healthier eating is my dehydrator. Dehydrating isn't something I know very much about but I decided to give it a go for the first time last week using some freshly picked basil. I learned a couple of things pretty fast. One: dehydrating takes a lot longer than you expect; two: dehydrating takes A LOT LONGER than you expect. Because I didn't have a dehydration guide, I had no idea how long it would take to dry my basil. Three batches later I can confidently say that it takes 18 hours...yes, that's right...18 hours to dry basil. This doesn't count the initial washing and drying of the wet leaves before placing them in the machine.

Speaking of that, there was no way I was going to be hand drying several hundred basil leaves by hand with paper towels so I decided to speed up the process by placing them on a sweater rack and putting the leaves in my clothes dryer on air dry (no heat). Worked like a charm. Word to the wise: basil is at its best when picked BEFORE they bloom. That's when the leaves contain the most oil and are the most aromatic. My first batch came from post-bloom plants and the results were not nearly as aromatic as my final batch which came from plants with no flowers on them. My son had suggested I try dehydrating bananas to make banana chips which I think is a great idea but I can only imagine how many days it will take to adequately dry a high moisture fruit like banana.

Hmmm, juicer, dehydrator, vacuum sealer (got that too!)...now if I could only find room for a pressure canner...

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Glorious, Glorious

A bee samples a golden marigold.
Petunias in their final curtain call.
Basil (foreground) and marigolds.
Glorious morning glories.
Today was a very gray day in Brooklyn, comfortably cool but gray. Although it didn't rain, the overhead clouds cast a sad pallor over everything. Luckily I have a cure for the gray day blues waiting right outside my front door. It brings a smile to my face and greets everyone who passes with brightness and joy. Of course I'm talking about my garden. Although autumn is leaving its mark on her, she fights back with beauty and bounty. Here, take a look. Isn't she pretty?
Hanging plants on my porch.
Snapdragons
Asters and Alyssum


Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva