Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Sylvia's Simple Shots

This is the steam from a heating system rising above a building across the back alley.

Back to very cold days.  We have had warmer temperatures with no sun, rain, freezing rain, and now back to -22C.  This has created crazy driving conditions - school bus cancellations, folks not getting to work, and mostly chaos.  I have been staying home.

I cancelled a visit to a sewing center to test out a walking foot for my vintage Bernina 830 record.  I hope to get there by the end of the week.

I finished this book on the weekend.  The Brushstroke Legacy by Lauraine Snelling is a story of painting which crossed several generations.  The main characters Ragni Clauson is the modern day women working for an advertising agency with the pressures that come with it. Nilda Torkalson lived in the 1900s in the family cabin and she is Ragni's great-grandmother.  

Ragni goes to the family cabin with her 15 year old niece Erika to assess the required repairs and ensure the minimum is done to save the building. They will camp on the property for the first while till the cabin can be camped in. 

The neighbour Paul Heidelborg has been keeping an eye on the place and was the one to advise the cabin needed attention.

The girls get back to nature, clear the tall grass, fix some windows and the roof to ensure it is critter proof, remove the rust from the cast iron stove in the cabin.  During the process both reconnect with painting and discover some rosemaling painted in the cabin by Nilda.  

Rosemaling is of Norwegian origin.  Nilda came to the cabin as a housekeeper and cook for Mr. Joseph Petersen who ran a farm in North Dakota.  She takes her young daughter across the country by train to assume this new employment.  She living in a very rural area and in a rustic cabin which is so different from the grand house in New York which was her previous employ.  Assessing the meagre food stores in the cabin puts her in a state of concern.  Mr. Petersen and his hired hand have been living in the cabin and working the farm - being bachelors doing their own cooking and housecleaning.  Needless to say improvements are necessary.  

Mr Petersen has asked for a supplies list for a trip to town.  She faces her fears and makes a good list for staples, laundry supplies, and pencils and paper.  She will at least be able to drawing until she gets paid and can buy paints. 

Another story with story female characters who grow, find their way and eventually thrive.  Loved the book and would recommend it. 

In order to make my own gluten free baking I followed my sister advise to make my own oat flour.  Take some whole large oats. Place in a blender and chop/grind until it is a fine texture.

We have found this flour can replace wheat flour.  My Mom has been eating gluten free for her cancer and couple of us have adopted it to some degree.  This is also my Mom's vintage blender which still works great. 
I made muffins from Mom's recipe.  They were great.  You can use any gluten free flour - 1 to 1, almond, quinoa, buckwheat or corn.   She eats them with cream cheese so it is a snack she can still have at the lodge as she has a small fridge.  We need to bake them for her.  I will make some more before my next visit.

I have been working on a sewing project.  This is an Art Portofolio Carry Bag for my art work. 

You can check out the details here.

The Flickr Macro Monday challenge this week was to take a shot as close as possible with the camera equipment we had.  The limit is normally 3" but we should get much closer.   There were several tiny objects to use as subject matter.  We needed to include the measuring as well in the photo. You can check out my photostream (SMDPics)

I am sharing with  Mersad who hosts Through My Lens #321 .

Monday, January 17, 2022

Art Portfolio Carry Bag

As I de-clutter I am finding pieces of art so I decided that I needed a place for those to be stored all in one place. I decided a bag to hold a mat board sandwich would work. I have a piece of mat board 32"W x 25"T.  After checking the pieces of leftover fabric stash, I had a navy piece that would work with the mat board.  When we emptied Mom and Dad's apartment a piece of batik fabric that was made by my brother in art school was returned to me so I decided that would be appropriate for this project.  I chose a couple of other colors to complement the bag.

I needed sturdy material for the handles so I chose polyester twill tape in an warm white color.  They will run the full height of the bag to distribute the weight.

I wanted a flap over the top because I did not have a zipper long enough to close the top.  By adding a piece of teal which matched the batik that worked well.

I added the piece then worked out the flap and where the bottom would be.  The bottom was just a folded edge and I thought it needed to be reinforced so I sewed a narrow strip of the navy along the bottom. I also sewed box corners to allow for the depth of my mat board sandwich.

The mat board sandwich will be 2 pieces of similar sized mat board stuck together at the bottom with duct tape. 

I will leave about an inch of tape between the 2 to allow the sandwich to grow.

It is quite big but I thought I would maximize the use of the fabric and board I had.  Maybe I am destined to do a large art piece.  The sunrise piece is quite large.

The batik piece on the front serves as a pocket.  You can see a pad of drawing paper peeking out of it in this picture.

It is quite large and should fit any type of paper pad I need should I eventually take to a class.

A button on the pocket keeps its contents in place. A twill tape loop slips over the large purple button.
All the stress point have been reinforced.

Now I needed to keep the top closed and I decided that I would use a couple of pieces of velcro 3 inches wide near the handles.  The pieces were sewn on to the front and the closing top flap.

Now, I had stitching  showing on my flap so I placed a strip of batik fabric across the flap to look pretty and cover the stitching.

Next,  I needed a visual reminder as to where the velcro was and a grabbing point to pull on the flap.  

I added 2 short loops of the same twill tape I used for the handles.

I think this bag will work well to store my art pieces and allow me to find them when I am needing one of them.

I need another piece of mat board before I can assemble my sandwich.

Happy with this project. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Christmas Card Challenge - Watercolor - January


I made these three watercolor cards for my Christmas Card Challenge - Watercolor for January.  I chose 140lb cold press watercolor paper.  I cut a piece of paper and taped to a piece of glass.  I drew my images by hand then painted them.  I traced the images with a black permanent marker after they were dry.  I them spattered them with watercolor.  I trimmed the images and I had cut it too short so on some of them you can see the line from the tape.  Live and learn.

The first is a candle and I used a gradient wash from blue to purple on the body of the candle. I added holly leaves and berries then added some different foliage. I added yellow, orange and red to the flame.  I left the foliage not touched by the black marker. I added a background to the bottom and the top.

The  middle is just a Bethlehem Star.  I tried to add spatter with bleach thinking it would remove the color but it did not.  Maybe I should have added yellow. 

The angel is a design I create years ago for a custom ornament.  A background was added to this one also with a spatter of blue.  I think I made the bow too small.  Still happy with it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

2021 Christmas Cards Received

 I cleaned up the Christmas cards I received in 2021 today.  I gave away about 50 and received 16.  I am grateful to those who sent cards and newsletters. There were 3 handmade in the bunch so that is a bonus.  The red tablecloth and plac emats have been put away for another year.

Sylvia's Simple Shots

At the end of the day full of errands I found this sky at the park.

I was out because it was the first day of reasonable temperatures -10C in 10 days of -30C or colder temps.  I have been hibernating for sure.

There was a band of heavy cloud above this brilliant band of gorgeous color right at the horizon and the sun shone through!

It's been a time of very few outside photos but we are going to have a week of decent temps so I will head out every day. 

The COVID numbers are ridiculously high so one has to be careful all the time.

The wall Christmas tree is put away and I was wondering what I was going to hang in this new space.

I have decided to hang my gold geometric wreath.  It works well and the size is just right.  I have hung a mercury glass ball in the center for now.  I was going to put a bow above it but did not have any ribbon that would work.  I'll take another look later.  Certainly not doing anything other than essential shopping right now.

The shelf was another challenge because it is very shallow.  Fortunately, I had not culled all my small photo frames.   I found these 3 black frames that work well.  I went through my photo collection and found 3 that worked in them. The center is a water drop on a single piece of grass, The left is a silhouette shot of weeds against sky and the right is dew drops on a spider web.  The 2 far end pieces are just what I had on hand.  I will work of something different for there.

I inherited this enameled cast iron pot from my Mom.  We called this the "bean pot" as she made home baked beans in this pot and it has made it to many a potluck meal.

During my visit to my aunt's before Christmas she showed me how to make vegetable lentil soup.  Very easy.

With my doctor recommending my reducing my sodium intake I will be making my own soup from now on.  This pot is just the ticket.  Thanks Mom.

The World that we Knew by Alice Hoffman is a story about a Jewish woman in Berlin, German during the second World War.  Hanni Kohn is a widow with a 12 year old daughter who has to do what she must to save her and ensure her survival. She decides to consult a renowned rabbi, but it’s his daughter, Ettie, who offers hope of salvation when she creates a mystical Jewish creature, a rare and unusual golem, who is sworn to protect Lea. Once Ava is brought to life, she and Lea and Ettie become eternally entwined, their paths fated to cross, their fortunes linked.

Ava and Lea travel to France and end up living at a convent where Jewish children under 12 are housed.  Ava becomes the kitchen worker. Ettie is working for the French resistance and saved many children by walking them to the Belgian border. A love story, a warrior story and full of brave women.

It was a very touching story and I would highly recommend this book!

The theme for Flickr Macro Mondays was "corner".  Of course, the options are endless but what will make an engaging image.

Above are 3 of the images I took for the challenge. Left an crystal block, a post in note block and a magnetic frame. You can check out my Flickr Photostream (SMDPics) to see the image I submitted.

I am sharing with Angie who hosts Mosaic Monday #163 and Mersad who hosts Through My Lens #320 

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

2022 Christmas Card Challenge - Watercolor

I have decided that I so enjoyed making the few watercolors Christmas cards I made in 2021 that I will concentrate on watercolor for my 2022 ones.  Of course, the medium allows for simple to complex compositions. My drawing skills are not great but there are tons of videos available on every skill level that I will manage to produce ones I am happy with.

Dig out the Crayola Box, the watercolor pencils, the watercolor pans, or the professional grade, whatever you have and put it onto paper.  I would recommend good paper though, a 140 lb paper would be great. Use watercolor however you choose and add whatever other elements you are led to use. If you are following feel free to mix and match as you feel inspired.

The only goal is to get our Christmas cards made by December 1st.

If you are inspired to make Christmas Cards, please leave a comment below with a link to your cards.  I look forward to sharing this creative journey with you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Sylvia's Simple Shots

It's cold and windy.  The wind blew overnight and created a few winter landscapes aka snow banks.

We are at -27C feels like -36C wit the windchill. 

I confess, I took this photo from inside.

I did go out last week to mail stuff that needed to be postmarked in 2021.  I had 2 pairs of fleece sweat pants; a long sleeved shirt, my blue fleece jacket and my winter jacket; a tuque and my parka hood; 2 pair of gloves, and my winter boots.  I had 5 blocks to walk to the post office, I stood in line for a few minutes then 5 blocks back.

On the weekend it warmed up to -12C so I did my big grocery shopping and put the gas in the vehicle.  On Sunday I had a visit with my aunt as we were headed back in the deep freeze.  It was nice to have a couple of hours with my humans.

While visiting my aunt she mentioned that she was liquidating some of her ornaments as she has downsized to a 4 foot tree from a 7 footer. 

I was allowed to choose a few.  These are the ones I chose because of course I have a much smaller tree myself these days.  They are all glass and old. The pink round one is 2 inches in diameter and the bells are a bit smaller.  The bells actually have clangers and tinkles when rung.  I think these would be classed as Shiny Brights which were ornaments imported from Germany in the early 30's.  The left one is not silvered on the inside which I understand from my research was discontinued during WWII which sometimes helps to determine the age of an ornament.  You can check out more information on Shiny Brights on Wikipedia.

I finished this book last night.  A Turn in the Road by Debbie Macomber.   A story of a road trip with Bethanne, Annie her daugther and Ruth her ex-mother in law.  They travel from Seattle to Florida for Ruth's 50th Class reunion.  Bethanne has been divorced for 6 years when her husband walked out on her and their 2 kids.  She had to reinvent herself after being his partner in life and his biggest supporter in his realty business.  Having hosted many events in support of his business she turns to setting up a Parties business and has done very well.  She has several stores which she runs with the help of her daughter and a business manager.
On the trip the itinerary changes as each woman puts in her dibs for where to stop along the way.  Ruth wants to stop and look up a woman who was a neighbour and friend when she was first married. The girls pitch in at the restaurant during their visit.  The next stop is to visit a beautiful lake which some customers had mentioned at the restaurant.  The rental car breaks down and help arrives on motorcycles - the bikers from the restaurant. Bethanne takes a ride back to town with Max on his bike to get help.  He had caught her eye the day before when she was waiting tables. All three women have their love stories develop.   Ruth was meeting an old flame from high school at the reunion.  Bethanne's ex-husband now divorced again makes a play to reunite and Annie meets several young men along the trip.  
I found the struggle between these three women to get along as they wrestled with their own insecurities about life and men challenging.  I guess that is what it's like.   It was just okay for me.

I decided to purchase some essential oils sometime in December.  They were a bit pricey. My favorite essential oil bottle was getting low and I was not going to the biggest craft sale to purchase more.  My wax melts as well were needing refreshing and I was not going out into a crowd to find a Scentsy rep. 

I found a health food store with the scents I wanted.  Pine Needle for the Christmas Tree and Grapefruit and Bergamot to replace my near empty bottle.  I use it on my doll diffuser mentioned here.  I put a drop on each morning as I do my exercise.

I thought I would just use beeswax to make wax melts.  I melted some and added my grapefruit and bergamot oils and let it solidify.  

When I researched a bit more I discovered that I need to add coconut oil so it will melt in the warmer.   So I will have to wait till it warms up next week and purchase some.

This one will have to be remelted and adjusted.

I used a silicone mold to form it and it should be the right size to fill my warmer's bowl.

This project is on hold for the time being.  I did have some Scentsy pieces left so I still have time to make this project work.

I received this felt tree oil diffuser from my sister for Christmas.

It will get the pine needle scent next year.   I think I had a bit of a reaction to it this year so I will leave that for the time being.

Love the light color and stitching on this cutie.

It will go into the box with the decorations and come out next year.  Maybe next December the world will have righted itself.

The theme for Flickr Macro Mondays this week was "cotton".   Mom and Dad are now settled in their new residences. Mom at the lodge and Dad at ExtendiCare. Fortunately, only across the parking lot from each other.  During the sorting out of this from Mom & Dad's move I brought home an apron my Mom embroidered about 60 years ago.

It features these beautiful cabbage roses, so I used that for my image on Macro Mondays.  You can check out my Flickr Photostream at SMDPics

I am sharing with Angie who hosts Mosaic Monday # 162 and Mersad who hosts Through My Lens #319

Have a great week.  It good to be back. 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Christmas Thank You Cards


I used some of the cards I had made for the project for Mom & Dad's neighbours in early December.  I really appreciate the gifts and experiences I got for Christmas.  I got to make tourtieres (meat pies) with my Aunt, dryer balls and reusable produce bags from my sister and a blue baking dish which matches my dishes and a big wooden cutting board.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Sylvia Simple Shots

Mom's move to the lodge has gone well.  There are a few loose ends to finish and our parents will be settled for the next phase of their lives. 

The move took place and freezing temperatures.  We have been into this deep freeze for a week now.

I have been hibernating because it is just so cold.

Books have been very helpful.

They are predicting a warm up for the first two day of 2022 then back into cold temperatures.

I have to go out tomorrow then I have appointments next week so I will have to force myself out there.

Not liking it!

I spent a day with my aunt a couple of weeks before Christmas.   We make Tourtieres which are French Canadian meat pies.

We made 19 small pies.  We stuck to 5 inchers since neither of us are hosting any get togethers any time soon.    We also made some with just top crusts to cut down on carbs and calories.  It was a really nice day.

I had bought a silicone handle for my cast iron frypan.   It was too large and a bit thin to as effective as it needed to be.

My sister came to my house so we could head to Mom & Dad's early the next day.  She offered to help to improve the performance of the silicone handle.  That required some cutting and wrapping.  I chose to use 100% cotton thread to stitch up the wrapper.  A few strategically placed holes through the handle to secure the wrap.   

It was very helpful to have 2 sets of hands for this project.

Super happy with the result!  Thanks.

The Saskatchewan Saga by Ruth Glover was a great read.  I borrowed them from my sister so i was able to return them to her during our visit.

Set in the late 1800s, the stories introduce Scottish and English emigrants who bravely journey to the wild Canadian frontier.  British Women's Emigration Society offered women freedom and independence working as domestics in the wilds of Canada.

It is based on a fictional place called Bliss Saskatchewan near Prince Albert.  Cold winters in the boonies of Saskatchewan had me empathizing with the ladies based on the temperatures outside. 

All the women's stories eventually come together from different directions and we get to know them all.  It was a very good series.

I can always count on Nicholas Sparks for a good romance.  In the case of Safe Haven the story revolves around Katie who moves to Southport North Carolina.  She finds cottage down a gravel driveway, a job at a local restaurant and a friend in Jo her neighbour.

She is on the run, fleeing domestic violence at the hands of her cop husband, Kevin.  She has managed to evade him this time. 

She has to walk to her job and to buy groceries so she shops at the local country store.  It is owned by Alex, who took it over from his father in law.  He is widowed and raising a son on his own.

Katie meets Alex at the country store and her neighbor Jo vouches for him as a good guy.

Over several months, they get to know each other, trust each other, then fall in love.  

There are a few twists and turns but another wonderful story.

It turns out this is the last book in the 3 books series.

In the final episode in The Christmas Box collection, David and MaryAnne Parkin find a mysterious letter at the base of their child Andrea's grave that eventually returns joy to their marriage, which had been strained in the nineteen years since her death.

This story features family secrets, abandonment issues, friendship and doing the right thing.  Sometimes you have to go away to come back and so Mary Anne takes a trip to see her brother with no intentions of coming back.

She does return when a friend passes and the letter brings about healing.

I will keep an eye out for the other books in the series.

I chose to show both covers because it shows both women in the center of this story.

As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, laying the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean.

North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.

It is set in a world mostly covered by water.  It is quite mystical and other worldly.   It is very interesting how their lives come together.   I really enjoyed the circus who travel in coracles - which were one person boats used thousands of years ago.  A nice change of pace.

I'm always up for a Christmas story.  A Mrs. Miracle Christmas by Debbie Macomber was a good one.

Jake Finlay is the manager of the toy department and he has made a large toy purchase on a hunch that it will be "the toy" this Christmas.  He father is skeptical.

Another quick moving romance involving Holly who is taken custody of her nephew as her brother is posted to Afghanistan.
Holly's chance meeting with Jake at a coffee shop leads to more encounters sometimes helped along with Emily Merckle who has been hired as seasonal help at the Finlay Department store, the toy department no less.  .

This romance evolves over the 2 weeks before Christmas where love blossoms, healed relationship between the Finlay father and son, Holly's boss sees the merits of the spirit of Christmas,  and Emily fades away with her work done.

A shot for Flickr Macro Mondays which was to choose 2 themes from 2021 and shoot on photo with both themes.

I chose Five and Game Board Pieces and composed this shot of Trivial Pursuit pie pieces with a nice bokeh background.

I bought the game secondhand and it turns out there are pieces missing.  I only have 4 full pies.  The 2 boxes of trivia are there.  

I think I will work this into a board game shot for a future project.

Stay warm, be safe.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Gift - Table Runner Trivet

A table runner trivet is a quilted piece one can place in the center of a table or other serving area to protect the surface from hot dishes.  It replaces the use of several trivets and looks pretty.  Upon doing some on-line research I found a place that recommended layers of terry cloth as good insulation.

I wanted to make this runner reversible so I took my fabric to my sisters a while back and we checked out her collection of fabric and found several pieces that would compliment the fabrics I had chosen.  In the end, I rejected some of the ones I had selected so that both side would work together.

I had just purchased the printed sunshine yellow piece of fabric.

The solid fabric was a left over from a quilt I made a couple of years ago.  The color name I would use is Soft Suede which is a green brown color.  

The cork fabric and the circle fabric came from my sister.  I have now swapped her some from my stash.  

All the fabric is 100% cotton.  

The layers involved are
  • cotton quilted layer
  • terry towel fabric
  • 100% cotton quilted batting piece
  • terry towel fabric
  • cotton quilted layer

I chose to put the quilted piece in the center of the trivet, the terry cloth goes the full width of the runner.

The front and back pretty quilted layers were stitched to the terry cloth layers.  The front and back are different designs and therefore quilted differently.  I needed to come up with a way to hold the quilted piece to the center of the runner. 

The final measurements of the piece is 14x40 inches and the center is 12 x 37.5 inches. 

The seam in the yellow is the one which goes through all the layers and holds the center batting piece in place. Each side had a yellow in this space.  The sunshine yellow piece on the cork side and a more lemony yellow on the circle side.  Allowed me to have yellow thread in the top and bobbin of the machine.

It would have been really nice to have my walking foot fo rthis project but the order is still on hold awaiting a shipment from over seas.

I decided based on my fabric to make the warm sunshine yellow side in a ladder pattern.  I cut strips of varying heights and 10 inches wide.  The Soft Suede, the cork fabric, some solid burgundy make up the pattern on this side.  

The other side features the circle fabric and this piece was larger and I did not want to cut it up into smaller pieces.  It was also getting late in the day and I wanted to get the project finished. I added some teal from my scrap stash which worked out well. 

I wanted Soft Suede to be on the edges of both side so they would make it the same color no matter which side was showing.

I stitched all the way around with the good sides together leaving an opening then turned the trivet runner inside out.  I top stitched very close to the edge where there was only the terry towel layers.  

The last seam was the one in the yellow that holds it all together.

I hope my niece likes it and it comes in handy for serving from the kitchen island or the middle of her dining room table. 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Peace on Earth 2021

Wishing all my blog friends 

a very Merry Christmas, Peace on Earth, 

or Happy Holidays 

however you celebrate!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Bespoke Shelf Art

I wanted a piece of Christmas art for the shelf above my wall tree.

It's snowy and cold outside so not too interested in heading outside and shop.

I use the frame with the JOY word in the previous photo.  I cut a piece of paper to fit inside the frame (8x16 inches) approximately. 

I printed a few words with fonts that I liked and adjusted the size to suit the composition.

I traced the words onto the white paper then painted them with black acrylic paint. 

I added the holly in the corner for a bit of color. It was a quick solution for this year.  I really like it!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Wall Christmas Tree - 2021

My Wall Christmas Tree is up!

Thanks to my niece who came to visit this weekend for the help to installing the photo shelf at the top which holds the ring to hang the tree from.

I sprayed the star at the top with Brilliant Gold paint.  Very happy with that!

I was surprised to see that I had liquidated all the large ornaments last year so only the small mostly clear glass ornaments remained.  It seems it was quite clear to me that this idea of a wall tree was going to materialize! It did just as I imagined it.

The Nativity has been set up on the old truck next to the tree. A soft light on the right lights the scene and the tree area for nice shadows.

I have put my JOY alphabet photo letter art on top of the shelf for now.  I did some searching on the web and did not really find anything I liked. I will create a bespoke one for later this year or next.  I am loving the tree!

Friday, December 10, 2021

Card Exchange - October 2021

I made a couple of large cards for my October card exchange.  Since they are late and it Christmas time I chose to make them with a Christmas theme.  Love making Christmas cards at any time.

I chose turquoise alcohol ink background paper in 4x6 and cut ornaments with the Sizzix Bigz Die - Ornaments #4. One of each design.

I cut the hangers from copper metallic paper and glued them on top.

I added copper metallic thread.

I embossed a layer of white with a Cuttlebug folder from the Winter Bundle.  I wrapped the thread to the back and adhered the snowflake layer to the front of the Tempting Turquoise card.

The ornament was adhered with 3D foam tape.

I added a Stampin Up Modern Label greeting which was offset with a punchie from the same paper as the ornament.

On this one I added the copper star and mounted the turquoise one in the left hand corner.

These are large A7 5x7 cards.

These are on their way to my card exchange partners.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Card Exchange - Nov 2021

I am getting caught up on my exchange cards.

These are late for November.

I used the Sizzix Bigz Die -Assembly Snowman by Tim Holtz and cut all the pieces for this snowman.  The hat and eyes from black, the nose from orange, the hat band and scarf from red velvet paper, the arms from textured brown cardstock and the snowballs from white card stock.

I embossed the falling snow background with the Sizzix - Tim Holtz - Alterations Collection - Christmas - Texture Fades - Snowfall and Speckles in blue card stock.

I adhered the snowman with quick dry adhesive then mounted him on the card with 3D foam tape.  I added a prism snowflake attached with bling Zot and a SU Artisan Label greeting in the bottom right hand corner.