Birdhouse Cards

Trio of Birdhouse Cards

I finally had the urge to do some crafting about a week ago.  My brother was still in the hospital at the time, but his condition had improved and there seemed to be some space in my head for something besides anxiety. Rem and I got a cute card in the mail from a friend and the printed design showed a birdhouse. It sparked my interest.

I put together some craft supplies in a bag to take to the hospital: some printed paper, scissors, card stock, adhesive, washi tape, a few colored pens and some rubber stamps.  A large cardboard mailer served as a small table.  It was a little slow going but I was able to assemble two Birdhouse Cards.

Purple Birdhouse Card

The commercial card had a collage-like look to it and I wanted to keep that look, so I included pages from an old dictionary, sheet music and other ephemera.

Paper & other supplies

I was really pleased how the cards came out so I made a few more at home.  For the first few cards I stamped the bird on a scrap of white paper and colored it in a realistic color scheme.  I like it better stamped onto decorative paper.  The bird cut from printed paper is more whimsical and better suited to the whole card design.

Pink Patterned Birdhouse

On one of the first cards I carefully cut a circle of paper for the hole on the front of the birdhouse but on later cards I used a large punch and actually punched a hole.  I put a small piece of paper in a different color and pattern behind the hole.

Turquoise Birdhouse

A small scrap of paper rolled up tight and adhered right outside the hole forms a perch for the bird.  Use foam dots to put the bird on the birdhouse.  Stamp the bird a second time so you can cut out a separate wing and put that on with a glue dot.  Use a felt pen for drawing on the legs.

Birdhouse scraps

To build your own Birdhouse Card, gather some different colored decorated papers and old pages from sheet music, textbooks or other printed material.  I adhere the old paper onto card stock if it seems fragile and likely to tear easily. If you don’t have a bird rubber stamp, you may find a suitable one to cut out from a greeting card or calendar you’ve saved, or look online for a bird you can print out.

The piece for the main birdhouse depends on the size of our finished card.  A standard card size is 4.25 x 5.5 inches. This is a half-sheet of 8.5 x 11 inch card stock, folded in half.  For this size card, measure a 3 inch by 3.25 inch piece, with the shorter measurement as the width of the house.  Mark the center of the card and put a little dot with a pencil at the top center and halfway down the piece on either side.

Measurements on house

In this example, I show where the center is, but you don’t want to mark it with a pen!  On either side at the bottom, put a dot 1/4 inch from the edge and draw a light pencil line up to the midway point.  Cut this off of each side.

Now make a light pencil line from midway to the dot at the center of the top one each side.  Cut off both of these pieces to form the roof line of your birdhouse.  Use a large hole punch to punch a hole a little below the center.  My punch is 1.25 inches.

House Shape

Your birdhouse shape should look like this.

Cut strips of different paper (see examples), cutting some with scalloped or wavy edge scissors if you have them.  Layer three along the bottom for the base of the birdhouse and two layers to form the roof.  When you adhere the birdhouse on your card, don’t forget a small piece of contrasting paper behind the punched out hole.

Cut out flowers from ephemera or stamp and cut out flower designs.

Paper flowers

I used some of the cute flowers from a sale package I got at Once Around.

Adhere the birdhouse to a card and add a bird and some flowers.  This bird is tucked inside the house.

Pink Polka Dot Birdhouse

It feels really nice to be crafting again.  It was fun making the little Easter Birds Nests with Rem too.

It was also great to spend time with family members at my sister’s house today.  Beau was there too.  It was much better than sitting in a hospital room or waiting room.

Thank you for stopping by.

 

 

 

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Easter Birds Nests

Plate of Birds Nests

Rem and I made these cute little nests last night.  I wanted to do a sweet treat for Easter and I wanted it to be easy.  I didn’t have the time or energy for these (real egg shells, dyed and filled with candy).

I found many different recipes for nests.  You have the nest material (variations include slivered almonds, shredded wheat cereal, coconut or these crispy chow mein noodles) and the sticky stuff to glue it together (melted white chocolate or butterscotch chips, melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, or this marshmallow mixture) and of course the eggs inside the nest.  I chose malted milk eggs but jelly beans would be great too.

Ingredients

The recipe that caught my eye, from FOLK magazine, used marshmallows and butter, much like Rice Krispy Treats, but added some peanut butter.  That sounded like a good combo.

Most recipes give the amounts in measuring cups.  In this case, when I followed the recipe the first time I ended up with partial bags of marshmallows and chow mein noodles, things I’m not likely to use up in another recipe very quickly.  I decided to try adapting the recipe slightly to just use whole bags of these items.

Rem did some research for the project and found most bags of marshmallows are 10 oz. but Safeway brand mini marshmallows have 10.5 oz. in a bag. Similarly, the chow mein noodles by Safeway are in a 6 oz. bag and the La Choy brand chow mein noodles are in a 5 oz. can, so for a recipe like this, I think you can get the slightly larger or slightly smaller size package and make it work.

Easter Birds Nests

Yield: About 18 Nests

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

3 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

1  (10 or 10.5 oz. ) bag mini or regular marshmallows

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 bags or cans (5 or 6 oz. each) crispy chow mein noodles

nonstick spray

Tools:

muffin tins

ice cream scoop (optional)

Directions:

Put the butter, peanut butter and marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds.  Stir mixture then microwave as needed in short bursts of about 20 seconds each, stirring after each time, until the mixture is smooth and combined.

Getting Close

Add vanilla and stir until combined.

Stir in chow mein noodles.

Sticky and Crunchy

Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray.  Spray hands with nonstick spray.

Portion chow mein mixture into muffin tin, grabbing a loose ball of noodles, a little larger than a golf ball and dropping it into each space in the muffin tin.  You may need to spritz your fingers with more nonstick spray.  The mixture is very sticky.

Spray the back of the ice cream scoop or soup spoon with nonstick spray and press the mixture into the muffin cup to form nests.

Shaping Nests

I think the nests look best when they are somewhat irregular and not too perfect.

Nest

If you don’t have muffin tins (or don’t have enough for your mixture) you can shape the nests on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Nests formed on baking sheet

Pressing Scoop on Mixture

It’s ok if you hear some crunching of noodles.  You want to find that place where you have a nest shape that isn’t too compact and neat, but not so loose and free-form that it will fall apart.

Set the nests into the refrigerator to set.  Once they’re firm, add the candy eggs.

Chow Mein Nest

three little eggs

Store them in a cookie tin with some wax paper so they don’t stick together.  Or put them in individual cellophane bags.

A Trio of Nests

If I was hosting a sit-down Easter Brunch or dinner, I would add names on little tags and slide them on the ribbons with these cute, edible nests for place tags.

IMG_0120

Happy, Hoppy Easter to you.  Thanks for the visit.

 

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Cards with Friends

Blue Butterflies

In January I got together with some friends from grade school and made Valentine’s.  We had such a great time together that we’ve made it into a regular event, calling it “Craft & Flash.”  Our last get-together was about a month ago.  Ladies: we need to schedule our next gathering.

Washi Tape

I was making a stack of birthday cards and recycling old greeting cards, maps and calendars in the process, inspired by crafting while on vacation.

Pink Butterfly card

I’d saved a pretty card with rows of different colored butterflies on a glittery green background.  I’ve had it for a few years and recycled it into new cards.

An old calendar from Paper Source provided artwork for a bird card.  I love the artwork on my wall all year long – they’re beautiful calendars and beautiful resources for crafting cards.

Blue Jay

Carefully cutting out the Blue Jay and adding a little glitter plus stamping a greeting on the inside and the card was done.

My friend Shook gave me some pretty place cards she’d bought and never used. I’m delighted to be the recipient when someone gives me something they think I might use in my crafting.  The cards add a nice detail when stamped with a message and glued inside the card.

Placecard recycle

For this one I used a scrap of the glittery green birthday card and some washi tape.  Another benefit of crafting with friends is expanded your supplies.  Everyone was generous and happy to share their goodies.

We had a variety of projects happening around the table. Creativity was flowing and I enjoyed seeing projects old and new.

Embroidery

Bees

Besides the production of birthday cards, an Art Journal was being expanded, tags and beautiful wrappings were being created for a series of birthday gifts, jewelry was being crafted and chocolate was being consumed.

Chocolate

All the best crafting events include chocolate.

As usual, the table was in creative chaos.

Craft Table

Or was that just my mess?

Glitter was spilled.

Glitter and glue pen

I got to try this ballpoint glue pen from Martha Stewart.  I will pick a few up next time I’m at Michael’s.  It is very fine, great for glitter and other detail work.  Like Dianne Dots.

The last time I was at Craft Gym at Once Around in Mill Valley, my  friend Margaret gave me the gift of a little shopping spree. Amongst the goodies I came home with was a package of cute paper embellishments. This butterfly is from that package.

Butterfly with Glitter

More glitter and an adhesive jewel, a few stamped flowers and paper from both an old textbook and an old bus schedule complete this card.

I’ve made a few of these cards with an old map and a bicycle stamp, but for this one I got a bicycle cutout from another of the Craft and Flash ladies.  I spent awhile coloring it. I love this card!

Bicycle Map Balloons

We crafted and chatted and laughed and ate.  It was lovely.

The dogs were happy sitting in the sunshine.

Dogs in the sun

Phoenicia made delicious chili, another great dish without a recipe.  If I recall correctly, it had beef, pork and sausage, and it was full of different veggies.  Write it down, Phoenicia!

Craft and Flash Chili

One last card I did that afternoon was from a 5-minute collage I’d made. A little extra embellishment and another card done.

Purple Collage Card

Sitting and chatting with my friends while crafting is the best therapy in the world for me.

It has been a very tough month since then with my brother spending more time in the hospital then out.  He was in ICU but is back in the regular ward and we expect him to be discharged in the next few days.  He has started dialysis and faces a host of challenges. The support and love we have all shared and received has helped make a really difficult situation survivable.

At first, spending long, anxious hours with other family members at the the hospital, I was too worried and upset to focus on anything more than mindless games on the computer.  Long days and nights of interrupted sleep meant I missed getting to the gym and I didn’t have the energy or inspiration to craft.

With some improvement in his condition, I’m returning to some of the things that have been on hold.  A trip to the library and new reading material I’m finally able to absorb.  I was able to spend time cooking together with Rem who has been a rock, taking good care of me.  And yes, pulling out the craft supplies and crafting.  I’m finishing up some cute cards and will share them soon.

Thank you for being here.

 

 

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Weekly Walk

Rodeo Beach

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my sister Kathleen and I take a walk together every Saturday.  I bring my mom’s dog Molly along and Kathleen has her dog, Ruby.  Since Ruby is almost 15 years old we have been going more slowly and Kathleen has a “pup pack” to carry Ruby when she tires out.

The weather was clear and fairly warm, and Kathleen suggested a beach walk.  This is actually a hike that starts by Rodeo Beach in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and loops up into the hills overlooking the beach.

Overlooking Rodeo Beach

With our brother so ill, the last month has been very stressful.  I’m spending a lot of time at the hospital and this was a lovely respite.

Poppies

I’ve always found salt air to be very restorative.  The views and the wildflowers were beautiful.

Poppies and sour grass

California Golden Poppies and what I always knew as sour grass, but I think is more properly called Yellow Woodsorrel, cover the hillside.

As we walked up the trail, we saw a group of people taking part in a Search and Rescue exercise.

Search and Rescue Exercise

The woman in the blue hard hat on the lower left was rapeling down a cliff.  We learned she was to playing the part of the victim who would be “rescued.”

This is the view looking down from the rocks she was climbing.

little cove

I don’t think I would be a very good volunteer for this exercise!  This team was going to climb down after her and carry her back up in the basket.

Search and Resuce training

We continued up the trail towards Battery Townsley, a World War II concrete gun emplacement, overlooking the San Francisco Bay.  You can see the edge of the battery just above this rocky hillside.

Rocky hillside and Battery

I thought of Beau because he is a real WWII geek.  He would say he is a “military historian” but it’s all the same to me.  In fact, I wrote part of this post while at the hospital and asked Beau about Battery Townsley.  He started rattling off facts and figures about the size of the guns, the fact that they were only shot in practice, that it was a casemate (I had to look it up: a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired), that volunteers were working to restore the battery to it’s 1940′s condition, etc.

Here’s the view looking towards the beach.  The hills in the background are in San Francisco.

View down towards beach

You can see the Search and Rescue exercise was still going on.

View of Search and Rescue truck

We saw Morning Glories, Blue Eyed Grass and Silver Bush Lupine.

Morning Glory

Blue Eyed Grass

Silver Bush Lupine

Ruby got slower and slower as we went up the hill, so Kathleen let her ride until we headed back downhill.  Molly was full of energy and enjoyed every minute of the walk.

Ruby and Molly

As we followed the loop around, we caught a glimpse of one of the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge.

GG Bridge Tower

Lacy white Cow Parsnip was surrounded by Horsetail Ferns.

Cow Parsnip and Horsetail Fern

The combination of exercise, conversation, salt air, beautiful views and wildflowers all worked together to nourish me and help me feel in better shape to face the days and weeks ahead.  I know I need to take care of myself and this was one way to do that.

butterfly

Thank you for your visit.

 

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You Just Don’t Know

California Poppies

You just don’t know who might be suffering around you. You can’t always tell at a glance or even at hello.

Your colleague may be coping with an aging parent,  your neighbor could have just lost his job and the checker at the grocery store may not be able to keep up the payments on her home.

Until about three years ago, when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, my life had been relatively smooth sailing.  I’ve had to cope with illness and injury in loved ones, and I navigated the sad waters of a failed marriage. But compared to the burdens some people have, I’ve gotten off pretty easy.

More Poppies

Sadly, my younger brother, Beau, is critically ill and over the last month has spent more days in the hospital than not. In the last  week his already tenuous condition has turned even worse and the family has been circling around.

My mom said, when you don’t know what to do, you just show up.  She thought it was from Anne Lamott so I looked it up:

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.

And it is hard work.  Just being there is tough, seeing the suffering, feeling hopeless, but trying to hold on to shreds of hope in the data from the medical staff or in the actions of a caring, skilled lab tech.  Showing up isn’t defined as being right there either.  Showing up means taking care of a load of laundry because the washer broke.  Or getting the dogs outside or baking some cookies or making a pot of spaghetti.

When I’m at work, I can stay busy for a few hours in the morning.  Distracting myself with email and phone messages and other tasks works for awhile, but I lose my focus and get antsy.  At night (it is currently 3:19 AM) when I can’t turn off my brain, and in the hospital waiting room, mindless games on the laptop, iPad or Kindle are sometimes the best I can manage.

Poppy Close Up

I guess I’m just trying to remind myself that all around me, even if I’m not aware of it, many of us are coping with some quiet heartache.

The best I can offer as a response is to suggest we all try and find love and compassion for those whose paths cross ours.  We should try and treat ourselves and each other tenderly; with empathy, respect and patience.

Update: A friend shared on Facebook that her husband had a friend tell him “When in doubt, choose the loving thing to do.” Exactly.

I’m grateful for the love, support and prayers offered on behalf of my brother, his family and friends.

Thank you.

 

 

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Spring Wreath

Spring Wreath

Once again I’ve been doing some curating and reorganizing of my craft supplies.  Things that made it through previous clean-ups but have remained untouched since, needed to be pulled from drawers and redistributed.  Stuff that I “might use someday” needed to make room for the stuff I’m using now!

I haven’t completed the project, but I did give away a bin of stuff I wasn’t using to a friend who volunteers doing art projects with kids. Little-used stamp sets went to friends who are grade school teachers who will use them in their classrooms.  It feels great to give things to someone who will use and enjoy them.

I’m constantly acquiring supplies.  Either I go to paper or art supply stores, or a craft class and pick up some of this and some of that for the project we’re doing in class or I’m working on something specific and need just the right (fill in the blank: fabric, glitter, paint, etc.).  Once the project is over, I’m left with pom poms or pipe cleaners or the end of a pack of paper in a color or design I don’t really like.

However, cleaning and re-organizing aren’t the same as crafting.  I needed to set aside that job and make something!

I unearthed colorful cotton and felt fabric left over from a fun Christmas project.   I created a bunch of flowers out of felt.  I made a template and used chalk to trace the shape onto different colors of felt.  This was very similar to making the Felt Shamrock Garland I just made for St. Patrick’s Day.

Pink Flower

I used some small pieces of felt to make flower centers.    Some green felt made leaves and stems, and buttons finished off each flower  I stuck the pieces together with Aileen’s tacky glue, a Tombow adhesive tape runner, and sticky glue dots.  The Tombow proved to be more frustrating than helpful.

Buttons

My original plan was to hang this on the door like the St. Patrick’s Day garland.  But shamrocks made out of felt look the same on either side and the flowers didn’t. So, borrowing another idea from another recent holiday door decor project, I bent a wire coat hanger into a circle, then used strips of printed green cotton fabric to wrap the flower garland onto the wire hanger!

Green Fabric with buttons

I knotted the fabric at the top of the coat hanger, right under the hook then wrapped a few times around the wire before wrapping on either side of the flower garland.  In between each flower, I would wrap the wire.  When I got to the end of a fabric strip, I would just tie a knot to attach the next strip.

Knotted fabric on back

This is the back of the wreath and you can see the knot is hidden by the flowers.

I made this in steps over a few evenings and didn’t spend that much time on it.  I wanted something cheerful on the door and this was a fun little project.

Thank you for stopping by.

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Happy Spring!

Plum Blossoms

I pulled myself away from my desk to walk around the campus and enjoy the first day of spring.

My office

Iris

Little purple flower

Pink Flowers

Rooftop Meadow

This meadow of wildflowers in on the roof garden of the Fine Art building.

Blue flowers

Strawberry Plant

Our building has a roof garden too but it isn’t doing as well.  There are some flowers but less color and greenery.

Bee in Rosemary Blossom

A huge patch of rosemary is in bloom and it’s buzzing with bees.

Pink Toesies & Green Grass

I’m very grateful it is warm enough to be wearing sandals.

Pearls

I tried to think “Spring” when I got dressed this morning: pale pink embellished sweater, aqua print top, freshwater pearls.

It was hard getting back to work, so I decided to give you a little tour of the inside of my office.

Perpetual Calendar

Calendar #1 is on my desk. A gift from my friend, Nicole, I think of her every morning when I change the day and date.

Paper Source Calendar

Calendar #2 is on the wall behind me.  It is from Paper Source and has wonderful artwork plus templates on the back of each month to recycle it into folders, cards and gift boxes when you finish using as a calendar.

Bird Tile Art

My friend Shook gave me this picture.  It goes beautifully with the perpetual calendar.  I love the color scheme, the bird and the collage-like layers.

The bulletin board

Special notes and cards from special people around me.  A feather that reminds me of my dad.

View out my window

One more peek at the view (looking out to the “orbit court”) before getting back to work.

Thank you for your visit.

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