Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ah, Spring!

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Unidentified flower in my garden.
I don't know what it is but I like it.
King Alfred Daffodils. These bulbs have been
blooming and propagating for over 20 years.
After a long and very cruel winter, spring has finally arrived with all its glory. The mulch has been pulled back from the gardens revealing all the new green growth that was stirring underneath. In my garden the crocuses and daffodils have been having a party. Daylilies, hostas, black-eyed Susans, sedum and more are beginning to poke through the ground. There is a very healthy crop of cilantro and even some lettuce that survived the winter under my hoop house. Along with the beauties come the beasts and I've been ripping up weeds all over the place but that is to be expected. But some of my plants, like my 15 year old strawberries, did not survive. It is yet to be determined what else may have fallen victim to winter's icy blast.

Orange Daylilies preparing for
their turn on the garden stage.
Still have lots more work to do. These pots
await their turn for spring prep.
I tend to want to grow everything I see and invariably will end up with so many plants that I don't know what to do with them all at the end of the season. This year I think I'll be taking a more measured approach. I'm going to concentrate on those plants and seeds that I already have on hand and limit getting new ones. I am also going to limit what edibles I grow to those that I can easily preserve and consume during the off-season.  I have been blessed with a dehydrator and a stand-alone freezer which allow me to preserve my own food for future use. One of my greatest joys is cooking with the herbs and vegetables that I grew and dehydrated during the summer and fall. There's nothing like crumbling fragrant cilantro or basil into the food as it's cooking or making an omelet with my own veggies.

The growing season is here and I'm ready. Bring it on!!

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Time Marches On

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Alyssa with her brother and cousin.
Nothing reminds you of the relentless march of time like watching children grow up. You remember the tiny baby, the boisterous toddler, the grade schooler. But somewhere along the way something mysterious happens to these little people, something that we adults apparently miss or overlook until it suddenly hits us square in the face...they grow up. I don't just mean they become taller or more filled out. I mean they aren't children anymore, they are young adults. There is something about the celebrations that mark these milestone moments in a young person's life that makes the rest of us wonder where the time went as we gaze upon this freshly minted young adult in wonder and awe.

This past weekend I attended the Sweet 16 birthday celebration of my husband's beautiful great niece, Alyssa. I am amazed to think of her as a great niece. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that her father is in his 30's now. I met him when he was in grade school and his younger brother had just been born. In my mind's eye I still see them romping around, playing with my own children yet they are both grown men with families of their own. Cliche as it may be, time truly does fly.

Back of purse card
Front of purse card.
I could not let this auspicious occasion pass without creating a special card for this special young lady. The theme of her party was loosely based on Alice in Wonderland. The invited guests wore black and white and the Guest of Honor wore red since for this evening she was the Queen of Hearts. Using a template created by Penny Wessenauer, I made a purse card in Alyssa's favorite color, red, and also incorporated the black, white and hearts motif that marked her celebration. Using my KNK Zing Air cutter, I created the greeting on the flap of the purse by placing a glue pen in my pen tool holder. I wrote out the greeting in glue, cut around greeting with the standard blade tool, then dipped it in fine black glitter to reveal the text. The incredible precision of this machine made doing this a breeze. All the other elements of the card were already on hand in my RTU (Ready To Use) stash. I didn't think to take a photo of the card from an angle so you could see how it stands up like a purse. Inside the card were greetings and good wishes written by my family and me for Alyssa and, of course, a purse isn't really a purse unless there's some money in it . I used two small magnets for the closure and a narrow black satin ribbon as the purse strap.

No doubt there will be more family events in the not too distant future. More celebrations, more milestones, more cards. I'll be there, taking pictures and sharing my creations with you. I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Surprise and The Reveal.

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Commemorative banner
My sister and brother-in-law celebrated their 30th anniversary on April 4th and we weren't going to let this benchmark occasion go by without all due recognition and celebration. When my nephew approached saying that he wanted to do something for his folks but had no idea where to start, my mother and I jumped on it. Surprise and subterfuge are my calling cards.

Keeping a surprise from my sister is no easy task and it required constant monitoring of my nephews actions to make sure neither of them did or said anything to give it away. This covert operation was stewing for over two weeks and I'm happy to say it was a complete success. Neither my sister nor her husband was the wiser and we caught them totally off guard in their own home!

Supersized envelope front
Photo star decorations
Needless to say I was busy creating gifts and decorations for the event that kept me up until the wee hours for more nights than I care to admit but it was all worth it.
Here you see some of the goodies I conjured out of paper for my favorite couple. A three foot banner featuring a photo of the couple on their wedding day spanned the doorway between the living and dining rooms. A cascade of gold and silver stars frames the banner on either side.

The "award" poster measures about 12" x 17".  It was the first piece I made and established the decorative theme of the party in precious metal tones of silver and gold, a golden yellow color and a star motif. It wasn't until I had completed the poster that I realized I had nothing suitable in which to present it so I had to create an envelope to fit. Fortunately I had sufficient quantities of this beautiful, large format silver paper to create a custom envelope complete with faux postage and a faux cancellation stamp. The back of the envelope sports three heart cut outs and two elastic closures. I also made star decorations featuring photos of the couple over the past 30 years on one side and the details of the celebration on the other. These photo decorations were casually placed all around the room and were given as favors for the guest to take home. There was also a heart shaped favor basket with a heart studded gold and silver bow filled with little pillow boxes containing chocolate truffles. The pillow boxes had custom belly bands that touted the couple and the occasion that was being celebrated.

Pillow box favors
Heart shaped favor basket & bow
For their greeting card I made one that emulated an arched window with a trellis and a window box filled with greenery and a climbing flowering vine. A close look at the window reveals tiered molding set against a brown background embossed to look like brick work. The leaves hanging over the edge of the window box reveals the tiniest of leaf vein details. Paper spike plants, one of my sister's favorites, line the inside of the window box while the tiniest of yellow blossoms with orange pearl centers dot the climbing vine. A few rhinestone flowers and a glittery butterfly (my trademark symbol) complete the vignette.

Window box greeting card
The event was a big success. My sister and her husband were completely surprised, their sons were pleased as punch to have been able to pull it off without anyone suspecting and the rest of us were just happy to be there in each other's company celebrating our family.

In addition, I learned a great deal about the capabilities of my new cutting machine and was able to come up with designs that I had never attempted before. Every project brings me a step closer to my ultimate goal of architectural paper sculpture. If I've learned nothing else, I have learned that if I can dream it, I can do it.

Onward and upward.

Ballo ergo sum
- Gitana, the Creative Diva