Monday, May 26, 2014

garden gifts

Longfellow said, "The spring came suddenly, bursting upon the world as a child bursts into a room, with a laugh and a shout, and hands full of flowers."  it certainly feels like Spring is having a good laugh at our expense--the month of May has had some strange weather in different parts of the country.  even if this usually-gentle season is having a bit of an identity crisis, we can hopefully still enjoy that handful of flowers.

{this was my most recent post for Crate Paper.  i'm a teensy bit proud of it so i'm sharing it here, in it's entirety, as well.}

a delightful box of Open Road products arrived on my doorstep last month.  i carefully looked through each piece, visions of future projects and plans running through my head.  my brain nearly cartwheeled when i came upon the delicate floral pattern of the "Peach Springs" paper.  there was an infinite number of things i wanted to do with it...make beautiful cards, create feminine gift tags, frame a piece of it as the backdrop for a bulletin board...the ideas went on.

when the May assignments came out and "Pretty Things: Spring" was on the list, i happily began to plan a project around that theme.  the paper is certainly a pretty spring thing and inspired a beautiful garden gift set (okay, 5 of them).  this paper has awakened the hoarder in me and i hated to use it because i just want to keep it forever.  instead, i sacrificed an entire sheet of it for this project.

i was also very much inspired my grandmother, who spent many hours during the spring and summer months tending to her beloved garden.  i wanted each piece of the gift(s) to evoke the feeling of a garden party, or at the very least, a lovely present for an avid gardener.  if she were still alive, i’d happily send one of these sets off to her.

the floral nature of the paper further inspired me to use these little seeding pots i found recently.  when i bought them, i thought they'd be handy to use in a future craft project.

i filled each pot with different succulents that i took from our garden.  you may have noticed how trendy these hearty plants are becoming, especially the hens-and-chickens (the beautiful rosette-looking ones).  i remember those growing out of a big terra cotta pot in my grandmother's garden.  they have an almost minty hue and fit right in with my colors--peach, mint, and gold.

to decorate the pots, i hot-glued crochet trim to the outside, then wound some shimmery gold twine around that a few times.  i tied on a tag made from various Crate papers, a swatch of lace, and a resin flower from the first Maggie Holmes line.  a tiny paper flag threaded in the twine announces these pretty plants.

i ended up making several "things-on-sticks" for my collection.  i painted toothpicks and bamboo skewers gold, and then adhered several different elements to them to make decorative picks.  a few well-known garden verses printed from the computer served as tiny messages.  "Bloom where you are planted", "How does your garden grow?” and "The earth laughs in flowers".  they are small and sweet, just like my little pots.  the main paper focal point is the larger flag, made to coordinate with the tag on the outside of the cup.  "Peach Springs" was the highlight of the entire collaboration so i wanted to include it wherever possible, but without overwhelming things.  each of the large flags follows the same design, but has slight differences.

the succulents in the seeding pot should be removed and planted in a more permanent home like terra cotta earthenware or the garden.  i included some flower seeds in this gift that can be started in the little pots after the succulents have been moved.  now is the time when all sorts of flower and herb seeds can be found at local stores.  sometimes, the packets they come in are pretty enough to be given as-is, however, when it comes to the color scheme for my projects, i’m a bit of a stickler!  i also wanted the excuse to use more pretty Crate papers and decorate the package in accordance with the rest of the gift set.

using a template, i made coin envelopes from coordinating papers.  {from Open Road:  "Peach Springs" (of course!), "Road Map" (aqua stripe side), "Big Sky" (white brick side); from Flea Market:  gold doily specialty vellum paper}

if you don't have a template or die for the envelope, try browsing Pinterest for templates.   it is also easy enough to take apart an existing envelope (soaking it in water helps), trace onto paper, trim, and fold.

i then emptied a packet of seeds into a smaller glassine envelope, sealed it with colorful tape, and tucked it into my handmade coin envelope.  it may feel redundant to use 2 envelopes for the seed packaging, but my thought was that my recipient could reuse the decorative envelope that way.

i folded a white paper doily around the package, tied on some more gold shimmer twine, and added a tag and a butterfly pick.   the butterfly punches have tiny gardening terms pasted onto them, like “blossom”, “thrive”, and “grow”.  again, it was important to me to keep each element of the gift similar, but not replicate it exactly.

the gift sets exhibit a pretty, vintage-style, shabby chic quality to them, all anchored with the "Peach Springs" paper.  it’s incredibly feminine and dainty--am i gushing about it too much?!  i apologize if that's the case, but i love that, aside from the frames, pots, and plants, this entire project was made with just paper and a handful of trims.  i also like that this project, completed with mostly Open Road supplies, has a totally different feel to it than the majority of the Open Road line.  At a glance, OR is travel-oriented with a definite retro pop culture style.  that is nothing like what i’ve done here!

as a designer/crafter, it's often my intention to create "pretty things."  with a venture such as this, which has many different parts to it and a theme, it's difficult not to get carried away.  i just wanted to make more and more and more...and when it was finished, i had 5 sets, including a couple of items that didn't even make it to the photo session.  i had to remind myself that sometimes "less is more."

as I mentioned earlier, i had many thoughts of my grandmother while working on this.  the dainty flower pattern of "Peach Springs" reminds me of the wallpaper that was in the bedroom where i slept at her house.  she loved flowers and i have so many memories of playing outside while she worked in her garden.  The New Garden Encyclopedia featured in the photos belonged to her, and she and her mother made some of the crochet trims used.  i was clearly feeling nostalgic last week when i made this.

i found the colorful resin frames at Michael's for just $2 each.  i’ve had them for a couple of months, waiting for the just the right idea to come along.  i’m glad i held onto them, as the colors and vintage style could not have been more fitting than this!

each flower packet has a different kind of seed in it.  using letters from the Highway chipboard alphas, i made tags to identify each type of seed.  while i don't have a photo of it, i also included pertinent information about cultivating the flowers, which i copied from the back of the original seed packets.

whether it feels like it or not, spring has officially been upon us for 6 weeks...if you haven't gotten a chance to appreciate time in your garden yet, i do hope you will get there soon.  until then, i assure you that placing a piece of “Peach Springs” paper close by will make you feel happy!

Monday, May 19, 2014

i love you, mom

Happy belated Mother's Day!  did everyone have a nice day?  our shopping trip last Saturday was a success and Sunday was nice, too.  my mom passed away about 6 months ago so this was my first Mother's Day without her, but i got through it okay.  i'm kind of glad it's over, though, honestly.  we received some not-so-good news late last week, too, which didn't help.  we don't have a lot of information right now so i'll wait to say more when i know more...but i wouldn't mind a few thoughts and prayers for my family if you've got them :)

it was somewhat strange, and a little sad, to be making Mother's Day cards this year.  my mom is always my first thought on this day and even though she isn't with us anymore, she was still very much on my mind when i was making these cards.  i do have other "moms" in my life, luckily, so these cards will still find a nice home.

this card was made from Crate Paper's Styleboard and i used Oh, Darling on the first one.  each card features bold floral pieces and sweet sentiments.  as i said, my mom still inspires me and she loved to spend time in her garden, especially at this time of year.

last week, my dad sent me a photo of some tulips that were blooming in her garden.  i know he hasn't really felt like getting outside much or taking care of her flowers.  i think it's too difficult for him to do at this point, since the garden is such a tremendous reminder of her.  other years, in the spring, he would be out there helping her, and i think that's why he really can't do it now.  but he sent me a picture of her lovely flowers and i told him that she made them happen...wherever she is, she's alive in her garden.  and i think that's true.

on another note, it's been a difficult few days in my hometown of Penn Yan, NY.  on the night of May 13th, they were hit with a tremendous storm that caused flash flooding and severe damage to many homes, roads, and businesses.  the awful thing is that so many people lost a lot.  the good thing is that no one was hurt.  the wonderful thing is that it's a small town and a tight knit community.  people have been tirelessly working to help their neighbors dig out from the mud and clean up their homes.  people are going door-to-door delivering food, water, and cleaning supplies to those who have been affected.  when i look at pictures of the damage, it's surreal and sad to think it's the same beautiful place where i grew up because it looks so different.  but i am incredibly proud to come from a place where everyone pulls together to help each other after a time like this.  it is a truly wonderful thing to see in the midst of such devastation.

here is a link to photos of the doesn't seem possible that this picturesque little town is the setting for this disaster...but again, we cannot be thankful enough that no one was seriously hurt. 

take care of yourselves, folks, and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

mother + daughter cards

sometimes, when i'm working on a big project, there will be smaller offshoots from that--usually in the form of some cards or tags.  there is a lot of creativity that goes into the bigger concept, and a lot of "testing"--i.e., layering different pieces to see what works well, and what has the same aesthetic.  often, i will put elements together and while i like the outcome, they're just not right for that particular body of work.  so i snap a quick photo of them and gently set them aside to complete once the larger venture is done.  my cards today are offshoots of my confetti project.  the Oh, Darling chipboard was a late arrival and i didn't have it until the day before i finished the confetti cards.  since i already had most of those pieces completed, and had used mainly OD ephemera and stickers, i decided not to add any of the chipboard.  but, the pieces were so attractive that i wanted to make something with them right away.  so, in the midst of my messy, confetti-laden work area, i took 30 minutes and fashioned these two cards. 

again, i was drawn to the bold and bright colors.  the chipboard itself is so detailed that you can use just a few pieces of it to make an entire card.  i love the saturated, water-colored shades of pink in the flower, the pop of yellow in the little girl's pinafore, and the gray frame to anchor the brighter hues.  i layered a stack of white paper doilies on top of a gold foil doily on both cards to achieve subtle hints of the metallic.

i see this as sort of a mother-daughter set.  perhaps i'd give Nemy the card with the girl on it, while the other card would be a nice Mother's Day sentiment for my mother-in-law.

peach and gold has been a popular trend lately and there are bits of peach in several of the recent Crate collections (Styleboard, Oh, Darling, and the new Open Road).  i snagged the little ribbon bow from the OD garland and the gold glitter letters are from an American Crafts Dear Lizzy collection.  for a little something extra, i stitched around the entire card with peach thread.

do you have any big plans this weekend?  doing anything special to celebrate your mother or the other lovely moms in your life (sisters, daughters, bff's) or, ahem, YOU?!  we're going shopping on Saturday with my in-laws and then quite possibly taking it very easy on Sunday--and that's just fine with me :)