Saturday, June 19, 2010

It's Garden Tour Time Again

It's that time again, the time when we share the beauty of our gardens with the public. Recently we were honored to be a part of the Newburyport Horticultural Society's first ever water garden tour. Although it was very early in the season (for us -- we are used to tours closer to the end of the month!), we were ready, and we even treated our visitors to a truly Victorian tea.

The next tour is the Country Gardens Water Garden Tour, the largest tour of it's kind in the region.  You can learn more about this fabulous tour at the Country Gardens web site. This year, our garden will be open to the public for viewing on Saturday, June 26th. If you can spare the time, bring a book and curl up in any of the little sitting areas we have and just enjoy beauty, the birds, the waterfall, the fountains, and the gorgeous blue and black dragonflies that have been flying around all week.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Rest in Peace, Dudley....

Our very difficult winter - illness, flooding from the severe winter storms, downed trees - is finally behind us but the sad news continues.

At 6:43 AM, our beautiful German Shepherd, Mister Dudley, passed away at the age of 12 years and 5 months after a long struggle with inflammatory bowel disease, perianal fistulas, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, pancreatic failure, and degenerative myelopathy.

His playful antics and perfect imitations of fire and ambulance sirens will be deeply missed.

This picture was taken two weeks ago. He was the fabulous big brother to Emily, Toughie, Katie, and Elizabeth.

The bottom two pictures were taken in December, when Katie was 3 months old. Dudley showed such patience with her!

We're going to miss you, Big Guy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Congratulations Jake!

Our son, Jacob, recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst with a Bachelor's degree in Communications and Political Science (double majors). Jake was named a Student Leader by the faculty of the Communications Department and the chair of the department and one of the other professors took the time to tell us how much they enjoyed having Jake as part of their program. They were genuine and effusive in their praise and we were so proud that they think so highly of him! 

We surprised Jake with a graduation party. When asked how he wanted to celebrate, he wavered about a party and then asked if we would take his small list of closest family and friends to a restaurant. We knew that deep down, he would love a party so we agreed to take everyone to a restaurant that happens to be across the street from the Newburyport Masonic Hall. Surprise, waiting inside the Masonic Hall were more than forty friends and family who turned out to totally surprise Jake and wish him well.

Jake will be attending Massachusetts School of Law in the fall.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Artist Trading Cards -- Tip of the Week - Recycle!

Today I am introducing a new weekly column that will appear each Monday and feature helpful hints and design ideas for creating unusual and eye-stopping Artist Trading Cards. Click on the individual pictures for a much larger view.

I fell in love with these miniature works of art about a year ago and have posted about them in the past. For the basics of ATC's, you can read more in my archives here and here. For inspiration, you can also check out my ATC album in my gallery at Splitcoast Stampers.

One of the most important aspects of creating a truly fabulous art card is to start with a sturdy foundation or base. A double layer of watercolor paper or very heavy card stock makes an excellent foundation, but watercolor paper is not inexpensive and I don't always have the color I want to use in the heaviest grade of card stock. I also hate to cut a full sheet of card stock for a couple of panels for art cards, and using thinner card stock might require three or four layers to achieve a substantial, sturdy base for a card.

If you reuse, recycle, and repurpose the way we do, you have wonderful alternatives to expensive card stock or watercolor paper in your recycle bin. I use the cardboard backings from packaging materials, thin cereal boxes, jello boxes, the cardboard that lines packages of pantyhose, and even used cardboard flat rate mailing envelopes as a middle layer. With such a substantial base, you can adhere even the thinnest card stock or patterned paper to either side for a very sturdy yet economical foundation for your artwork.

At 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches, Artist Trading Cards are a perfect canvas for designs utilizing your smallest scraps. I save even small pieces of card stock, patterned paper and vellum. Sometimes only a few inches are needed to add a lacy border or to paper piece a portion of a design. I store my smallest scraps in a shallow drawer sorted by size. It's my first place to rummage when I am designing a new card.

I also save pieces of punched lace that are left over from larger projects and I'll often go ahead and punch an extra strip when I'm making punched lace and set it aside to use later on a greeting card or ATC. A strip of punched lace along the side of the card or across the bottom, layered under a strip of ribbon, can set an otherwise bland piece of ribbon off or turn a plain background into an eye catcher. I also save some of the punched out shapes that remain when you punch lace.... these miniature fleur de lis, hearts, flowers, and tiny scrolls are often a perfect embellishment for these very small design canvasses.

My "regular" scrap bin - where I store larger scraps.... anything larger than 3 or 4 inches square - is my next "go to" place for paper for ATC's. My scrap bin has hanging files where I store larger scraps sorted by color. When I make greeting cards, I will often cut the extra card stock into ATC sized panels so I have a rainbow stash on hand. They fit nicely in a plastic fruit or vegetable box, the kind that strawberries are sold in.

Here are a few ATC's that I made entirely from my scraps for a recent swap using recycled cardboard panels between layers of coordinating card stock and patterned paper.

Come back next week for some helpful hints about finishing touches - techniques for giving your card a beautiful finished edge and where to find the "perfect color" for your background.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Where has the time gone?

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly two months since I last posted. Where has the time gone? In the past two months, we've said a sad good-bye to some close friends and family members who died too soon, well, too soon for me anyway. Finally, though, I am back at work, crafting and designing.

Here is one of my recent projects.... a page from a set of several pages with the same style and colors that I made for an album for a friend whose daughter recently got married.

I used coordinating papers from My Minds Eye's Asparagus Collection, ribbed ivory card stock, and medium brown and brick red card stock. I pleated the paper to form the outside and bottom borders.

When making an album for someone else, I have always been stymied by the problem of how to make it so they can easily add pictures to mats and frames. I solved that with this set by creating the frame on folded card stock.

I made triple layered frames that I embellished with grungeboard flourishes inked with red ink and then dry brushed and edged with gold acrylic paint. Charms dangle from each side adding an ornate, Victorian touch.

I also added glass gems and other charms. The round glass gems are new embellishment that I'm currently carrying in my Etsy store. Think dew drops but on a much larger scale. They add a punch of vibrant color to a scrap book page.

The frame lifts up so a photograph can be secured underneath, and I added mounting squares to the underside so she can adhere the frame to the base once she has inserted her pictures.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Announcing my ETSY GRAND OPENING!!!

Do you love those gorgeous old stamps made by PSX (The Personal Stamp Exchange Company), Delafield, and the other companies that are not in business any longer? I love stamps that have a lot of detail, elegant scripted lettering, and especially vintage themes. Unfortunately, most of the designs I favor are from companies that either are either no longer in business or the design I want is long retired. So what's a stamper to do? There is now a place where you can find the lucious botanicals from PST and discontinued but still gorgeous images from the last twenty years - my new store, The Seaside Rose Cottage, at ETSY.

These stamps are all wood mounted and many have never been used. And right now, shipping in the US and Canada is that four letter "F" word -- FREE.

Here are some of this week's new listings! Click on the image to be taken to the store listing.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Chanukah!

Happy Chanukah and Seasons Greetings to all. Chanukah, Hanukkah, or however you want to spell it is one of my favorite holidays because of the history and symbolism associated with it.

As a Jew, I have my given name and my Jewish name. My Jewish name, one of my middle names, is Yehudit, Hebrew for Judith, and in my case, named for Judith of Maccabee, the real heroine of the story of Chanukah.

The story of Chanukah is not well documented in the Talmudic literature and is documented sporadically and relatively perfunctorily in historical writings, so here is the Cecile B. DeMille version and the real story of what happened way back when.

The story begins in the Second Temple Period at about 200 BCE. When Judea was originally invaded by the Greeks, King Antiochus the Great guaranteed the Jews religious freedom and the right to worship in the Temple of Jerusalem. Although they weren’t thrilled to be living under the rule of conquering warriors, they lived and worshipped in peace until 175 BCE when Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the son of Antiochus the Great invaded Judea.

Antiochus took the city by force and at great cost in Jewish lives. He enslaved the Jews and outlawed Judaism. Anyone found observing the Sabbath or Jewish rituals was put to death. He plundered the city, took over the temple, looted the treasury and defiled the religious artifacts, and eventually erected a statue of Zeus in it and ordered the Jews to begin worshiping Greek Gods or be out to death. When he ordered pigs to be sacrificed on the temple alter, the Jews revolted.

The Maccabees led the revolt but the small, rather bedraggled group of Jewish freedom fighters was up against a much larger, well-armed and highly trained army. Still, they were able to hold their own and the conflict dragged on, costing much money and lives of invading soldiers. Annoyed by the hassle and the expense caused by this band of ragamuffins,, Epiphanes ordered one of his five star generals, Holofernes, to gather a massive army and end the insurgency once and for all.

Holofernes was regarded as one of the premiere military strategists of his time and with an army of 100,000, the rough and tumble Jewish boys didn’t stand much of a chance. This is where Judith comes in.

For all of his military acumen, Holofernes did have his weaknesses. He had quite an eye for the ladies and his roving eye eventually wandered to my namesake, Judith. He was so impressed by her beauty (I think I look just like her) that he ordered his soldiers to snatch her and bring her to his tent for dinner and …uhhhh….. dessert.

Now Judith was a gal who knew how to think on her feet. She plied the good general with lots of salty cheese (some say she actually made him quiche, something akin to my signature recipe) and encouraged him to wash it down with lots of sweet Jewish wine. In a word, she got him so drunk he passed out, and while he was snoring away, dreaming of doing the wild thing, she yanked his sword from its scabbard and cut his head cleanly off. Judith was definitely my kind of woman.

The upshot was that without their military leader, the Greek army couldn’t get out of their own way and the Maccabees, adept at guerrilla warfare, a military technique unheard of in those days, soundly routed them and sent them packing.

Once the Jews regained control of the Temple of Jerusalem they wanted to clean the filth and rededicate it. To do this, they needed spiritually pure olive oil, oil that had not been defiled by the Greeks. All they could find was one small vial, enough to light the candles for at most, just one day. It would take at least a week for more ritually pure olive oil to be produced but anxious to reclaim the Temple and rededicate it, they lit the temple menorah and this is where the miracle of Chanukah occurred. The vial produced enough oil to keep the menorah lit for eight days, until more oil was available. Hence, we celebrate Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, for eight days to honor the eight days that the candles in the Temple menorah remained lit following the Jews successful revolt against the enslaving Greeks.

Although it occurs in December, usually in close proximity to Christmas, Chanukah is not the Jewish "equivalent" of Christmas, nor is it a significant gift giving occasion. Each night, we light candles, one the first night, two the next, and an additional candle each night until the eighth night when all the candles are lit. The mitzvah, or commandment, is to kindle the lights in front of a window or open door so the light can spread to the darkest corners of the world.

We also celebrate with traditional foods frind in olive oil. We serve latkes (potato pancakes) fried in olive oil, sufganyot, fried donuts, especially filled with jelly, and lots of sweets, chocolate candy gelt (chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil) being the favorite of children.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Special Birthday Celebration

During Kate's Birthday Celebration week at I {heart} Papers last month, she challenged us to make a "special" birthday card. Coincidentally, Lynn Mercurio shared the technique for making easel cards in her weekly Try a New Technique Monday challenge at Splitcoast Stampers.

My best friend Marsha's mom, who has been my kids' and my own Grandma Berman for the thirty years that Marsha and I have been friends, will be celebrating her 99th birthday next week. Can you think of anything more "special"? This was the perfect opportunity to make a wonderful card for "Grandma B". I can share it here because even though she has always kept up with the times and still has plenty of spunk, computers are something she has never had any interest in so I don't envision her surfing the net and finding it! Whew! By the way, this picture of Marsha and her mom sitting in our garden was taken in early spring.

Easel cards are fun cards that open to form their own "stands", revealing a greeting or other decorative elements. I stamped and embossed the birthday greeting on the card base and embellished it with an ombre rose flower that holds the lower edge of the card when the card is open and on display.

I modified the dimensions to make a 6 inch square card with some wonderful fall themed paper from My Mind's Eye's "Fall in Love" glitter stack. I used the large grapevine wreath from Stampington and embossed it in brown on brown and embellished it with a wired ribbon bow, Prima flowers finished with Kaiser half pearls, one of Kate's ombre rose flowers, a vintage button, and some punched leaves that have been inked and lightly distressed. The stop on the easel base is another of the ombre rose flowers.

The glittery flowers are part of the original paper design but the darker image in the center of the wreath is a a tone on tone embossed spray of butterflies and leaves.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Halloween Fancy

I have received some wonderful vintage Halloween images from Dover Publications through their weekly free image samples. Here are a couple of wonderful cards I've made this week to send Halloween greetings to friends. Click on the images for larger views.

The top image is mounted on a scrap of paper that has a brick print background. I stamped spider webs in the corners and then embellished it with Martha Stewart's "Glow in the Dark" glitter.

The lower image has panels of paper from the Twilight Collection (Memory Box). Both have some of that to-die-for silk ribbon from I {heart} Papers.