Yeasty Mosaic at Disney's California Adventure

Yeasty Mosaic at Disney's California Adventure
Yeasty Mosaic at Disney's California Adventure

Friday, December 19, 2014

Super Easy Last Minute Vintage Christmas Cards

Still looking for the perfect card for someone? Try this easy tip. Take a vintage post card or greeting card and frame it a couple of times to give it a little more punch. Glue the framed piece onto a ready-made greeting card, sign and send! (You can also use current Christmas postcards or pictures you have clipped from a Christmas card.)

Because these postcards above had interesting scentiments written on the back and the date (1926), I used removable tape to attach them to the Christmas card stock. That way, they can be removed and used again for another project.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Here are some samples of cards I made for Halloween to send to friends. Easy to do with the new Brother Scan n Cut machine which kicked out all of the Jack O Lanterns and their details. Finishing off with some leftover embellishments I had from years back, the cards were done in no time.

A good lesson that everything doesn't have to be a Big Deal! Even if we always think so.

Happy Halloween! Have a safe and fun holiday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Broken Things: Fix or Buy New?

My clothes dryer is not drying. It only has one simple task to perform and it is falling short. The other day I had to take two wet loads of clothes over to my son's place to dry.

Today I looked at washer/dryer sets online to begin the process of researching new ones to buy. Can you say overwhelming? So many choices, with so many features, and price tags to match.

So I called my trusty dryer repairman and he is on his way over to check out my machine. He was here a few months ago for essentially the same problem, so I am a little less hopeful that he can fix it for good this time. But it's worth a try even though both appliances have worked hard for more than 25 years.

I guess I consider this all part of the "recycling" rage these days. It fits in with that old slogan I love: Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Seven Strategies for Sale Shopping Success

A woman's creativity often shows in the way she dresses. But sometimes, we could all use a little help with choices. Nancy Nix-Rice, a wardrobe consultant extraordinaire, offers the following helpful hints before you hit the sales.

Steven Strategies for Sale Shopping Success
By Nancy Nix-Rice, Wardrobe Consultant

Before you head out into "Extra 30% off Already Reduced Prices" and "Door-buster Specials Before Noon," review these Seven Strategies for Sale Shopping Success.

No. 1 - Inventory your closet (and drawers and laundry basket). Do favorite items need to be replaced or supplemented? If you wear your navy pants all the time, for example, a navy skirt could make additional outfits with all the same tops. And consider stockpiling new navy pants for when the current ones wear out.

No. 2 - List NEEDS in writing. Lists are empowering  -- not limiting -- if you organize in 3 categories:
      A - Basics that need replacing soon--especially bottoms in your Key Neutrals.    
      B - Missing mixers--identify these by specific description or by end use. ("red turtleneck" OR "top for gray tweed suit"). Think about how one item might fill several of your wardrobe gaps.
     C - Awkward occasions--remember times that you have said, "I have nothing to wear" for a big presentation at evening at the symphony...

Clearance selections are hit-and-miss; be prepared to go home empty-handed rather than buy things you don’t need just for the fleeting thrill of the bargain.

No. 3 - Shop UP a notch. Smarter shopping allows you to move up the quality ladder without busting the budget. If you're used to shopping at discount stores, try  Macy's. If department stores are your usual, check out Saks or Neimans. A higher price-point can be a big leap of faith, so don't miss this chance to get used to better quality at bargain prices.

No. 4 - Be retail savvy. Shop at off-peak hours; avoid weekends if possible. Department stores often activate new Saturday markdowns in the computer system on Friday afternoon before the office staff goes home. Check mail/email/online for extra-discount coupons. Why pay more than you have to? Take along items you need to match; it's far less trouble that returning a poor choice later.

No. 5 - Instantly identify your best bets on massive -- and often messy -- clearance racks by scanning for color first. Don't even glance at an item that's not one of your best colors. And if you're not absolutely certain about what colors you should be wearing, put a professional color consultation at the top of your shopping list.  NOTHING goes further toward building a truly great wardrobe, I guarantee it.

No. 6 - Be smart about sizes. Dropping those extra vacation pounds may give you a little more wiggle room but it's not likely to take you down a whole size. A "bargain" you can't fit into is just wasted dollars (don’t ask how I know this) and squeezing into it will make you look and feel fat. Just say NO.

No. 7 - Do an at-home fashion show with your bargains to confirm that new additions work with things you already own. Double-check for any needed alterations. Correcting sleeve or hem length or changing boring buttons can make the difference between passable and panache. And keep tags and receipts so you can retract any irrational purchases. 

With a bit of preparation and persistence you may score some valuable wardrobe additions without busting the budget.

For over 25 years Nancy Nix-Rice has been transforming women’s lives by transforming the contents of their closets. She is the author of the just released book and DVD, Looking Good…Every Day: Style Solutions for Real Women at  Written for consumers, the book has also been selected as the textbook for training new stylists and image consultants at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City.

In addition to her private client work, Nix-Rice presents workshops on appearance and wardrobe for corporations, professional associations, and women’s conferences across the country.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Honoring the Monarch Butterfly

Completed card honoring Monarch butterfly

I keep reading about how the numbers of Monarch butterflies are dwindling. It would be a huge loss to not have this summer visitor around anymore.

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania featured this  lovely creature on the cover of its latest magazine for members. I hated to waste the beautiful artwork so I decided to turn the photos into a card.

I punched circles out of the cover photos and then played with them for awhile to see how they would look as a semi collage. The first layout didn't work at all (see photo below) but the second one did (above).

Original collage for card; not used
I used the punched circles for the background and then found a graphic drawing of a butterfly on the Internet. I printed it out, colored it in with an orange Sharpie and Tombo markers and then added some bling at the end. (I also edged the butterfly with black ink).

It all sits nicely on a piece of green-striped corrugated paper that I found sitting in my paper stash.

This seemed like a fitting project to honor the Monarch, a favorite butterfly for so many of us.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Gelli Printing with Young Friends

Rubbing paint off Gelli Plate onto paper

Anyone who has tried gelli printing with the new gelli plates from Gelli Arts has fallen in love with the technique. The ability (for even those who don't feel very artistic) to make monoprints that are layered and painterly is addicting.

So to spread the love I got together with my good friend's  two creative granddaughters who love art. We laid out the brand new gelli plate, new tubes of colorful paint, new brayers (small rollers for spreading paint) and lots of paper and paper towels on one of their first days off for summer vacation.

It turned out to be a really special day. I felt like I was at summer camp. The girls, ages 7 and 4, took to the painting right away, and then ran away with it. I was so impressed with the color choices they made, having originally thought that they would stick with the pastel paints. I'm not sure why I thought that, but they soon started getting out the neon and the black paints and doing awesome things with them.

What a great way to spend a morning!

Here are some samples of their work:

Making sure the paper is covered with paint from plate underneath

Spreading the paint with a brayer

Pulling a print from the Gelli Plate 

A neon butterfly

A psychedelic print from the Gelli Plate

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's Time to Preserve Old Photographs

Sugar Bowl Confectionery, Butler PA, 1940s

It's scary to think of what is becoming of our old family photos. Too many of them sit in boxes in basements or -- god forbid! -- attics, crumbling away, taking our pasts with them.

Make it a priority if you can to have older family members tell the histories of your photos and identify who is pictured. And commit to saving your photos now with the help of information from these web sites on how to preserve your irreplaceable family photos:

If there is one particular photo you would like to share with the world, visit here  It may be hard to choose just one, but at least you will have done that.

Friday, May 2, 2014

No Gift Bag? No Problem! Upcycle Containers

If you are out of gift bags and desperate to find some way to wrap a gift, look no further than your kitchen counter. All of those plastic boxes which contain tomatoes, fruits, and other yummy goods, can be easily upcycled into cute gift boxes.

These two plastic boxes once held tomatoes and blueberries, two items that are always on my grocery list. This guarantees that I will have some empty containers sitting around waiting to be re-purposed.

With a little brightly-colored paper, some ribbon and a doodad or two, I was able to transform these boxes in a matter of minutes to hold small gifts.

The bigger box features an Eiffel Tower embellishment. This is actually the top of a pad of paper that had a magnet attached to it which I kept on my refrigerator until the paper ran out. The piece was just too pretty to throw away.

The smaller box is decorated with owl paper, always a popular item, and lined at the bottom with a slip of paper I removed from a fancy envelope I received with a birthday card.

Both boxes are filled with shredded paper and the large one with a gift book of bird bookmarks; the smaller one with candy.

There's no end to the ways you can decorate these containers. I already have a large collection of empty containers waiting for that special touch which will give them a new purpose as they are upcycled.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Easy Easter Baskets from Recycled Grape Bags

Recycling Rioblanco grape bags easily into Easter Baskets.

I love grapes. I think I could live on them if I had to. The problem was that I had a hard time tossing the plastic bags holding the grapes which have a zipper closure at the top and room to hold other goodies.

With a few small steps, I discovered that these bags could be recycled into perfect Easter baskets.

All I did was stamp a bunny graphic onto some old tags I had lying around. I punched a hole into the front cover of the bag (only through the one layer of plastic) and threaded through some colorful yarn and tied it in a knot to secure the tag. The lucky recipient's name can then be printed on the back of the tag.

I filled the bags with Easter grass and plan to pick up some sweet treats at my next grocery run to place in the bags.

I think I will be looking for other uses for these pretty bags. They could easily hold a plastic bag filled with small plants for a spring gift. Or be filled with small pieces of cheese and crackers for a hostess gift accompanying a bottle of wine. Since they already have lovely pictures of grapes on them, this is a no brainer!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Finding Treasures at a Reuse Center

With the emphasis in our society these days to Reduce! Recycle! Reuse!, cool places like the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse are popping up all over.

Housed in the same building as Construction Junction, which promotes conservation through the reuse of building materials, the Reuse Center is a somewhat organized place full of trash or treasure, depending on your viewpoint.

For me, I fall somewhere in the middle. I love to find some simple treasure that I can carry home and turn into something else. But because I really don't need another thing in my home, I am careful (at least some of the time) to only pick up items I think I may be able to use.

But it is so much fun to go through everything in the store, looking for that one special item which will catch my eye. On my last trip I found a few small things that I brought home (see photo above). Their value may not jump out of the photo at you, but it's possible they will become some awesome new thing. If and when they do, I will try to remember to photograph them and show you the transformation.

Check back.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pin Some Glamour to Your Coat

I made this pin out of a piece of .99 clearance craft item. All I had to do was glue (with strong glue) a pin back on it and attach to my winter coat.

Voila! It was so easy to do and I have gotten a lot of compliments on it. Reminds me of how back in the day  women always had pins attached to their coats. It's a trick that can add color, whimsy or elegance to your outfit.

The pin (which didn't photograph well for some reason!) is colorful enough that people think it's a spring accessory. If  that's all it takes to bring on spring, I say Yea!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine Cards Easier than ever to Make

As I mentioned in the last post, I had decided to use my Gelli plate prints on some Valentine's Day cards I wanted to make.

As you can see, the results turned out pretty well. It was such a snap to take the Gelli prints which I had printed on old holiday cardstock, cut them to size to fit the card sets I had bought and add a focal point heart and some stamping. I then embossed the stamp ink so that the cards would have some shine.

Very easy. And I wanted to mention that I used my new Brother Scan n Cut to cut  out the hearts from cardstock and thick embossed paper.

Tools like the Gelli plate and the scanner make doing these craft projects much easier, and really, more fun.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Gelli Prints May Confuse the Viewer

Wondering what this is? Words of description may be escaping you right now. Words such as red, odd, stripey, messy, a creative bomb, masterpiece?

That last word might be one you would pick if you are a lover of Gelli Prints like I am, and apparently lots of people on the internet.

A Gelli plate is a gellatin monoprinting plate. A Gelli print is a print that is "pulled" from the actual Gelli plate which has been covered with paint and textures and then relayered and relayered until the artist is satisfied. You can work on the same print for as long as you like until you are happy with the results.

I hope to use this print and more like it in similar colors to provide the background for some Valentine's cards I plan to make. The Gelli Plate can make even the most beginning artist feel pretty darn creative. Check back!

Here is more information on Gelli Prints:

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Nothing Like a New Box of Crayons

When we were young and getting ready for a new school year, the absolute best thing to have was a box of 64 Crayola crayons (with an actual sharpener embedded in the box.) Way cool.

I went to look in my office drawer for such a box to show you and found that I actually had a 96 crayon box hidden away from an old project. I didn't even remember that.

Not 64, but 96 Crayola crayons
I checked further on the internet and it seems that Crayola now sells a  box of 120 crayons (twice as many as when I was young) which is probably too many, but I wouldn't turn the box down.

I was talking with a friend about creating art and I thought about  how inspiring any size new box of crayons could be to someone who is looking for a creative project to begin or work on again.

So my suggestion is to go out and buy a box of crayons -- any number of crayons will do -- and start a project with them. Draw and color in an art journal, print out some mandala patterns to color or make some greeting cards for Valentine's Day. Doesn't matter what you do just that you do something. And don't be intimidated by all of those perfectly sharpened, untouched tips on the crayons. Go ahead and use them.

So many artists on the web talk about not trying to be perfect in everything, to strive for progress not perfection.

I think that is a good lesson for all of us.


About Me

I am the creator of the web's premiere Baby Boomer site: Boom This: A Generational Thing!(