Saturday, June 26, 2010

AB Group - June Challenge

This month's challenge for the Altered Book yahoo group was, well, a challenge for me: the idea was to use only white to create a spread. I thought about it all month long, but had a hard time coming up with an idea. But it's almost the end of June, and I really wanted to make myself do it -- so I just started working on it today. I didn't have a plan at all. I flipped through some old Victoria magazines looking for some inspiration, and while I found many lovely white things, I decided I didn't want to do a spread of just a bunch of magazine cut-outs. My eye caught a stash of white tissue paper, so I started with my old paint and tissue paper routine that I've done a few times now (the same process I used to create the background for my altered journal). The top coat I used was a "metallic pearl oyster" which I quite liked, and the way I'd torn the paper reminded me of a butterfly -- and that was the inspiration I needed! (And of course I thought of you, Susie-Q C. ;) Using vellum, gel pens, pipe cleaners (the authentic ones that actually say "pipe cleaners" on the package! ;) and beads, I created this butterfly and found a perfect quote to accompany it:

I would like the butterfly to have been more "wowish" -- but that just wasn't happening with my brain power. Any thoughts on how to embellish it more with just white?

While I was creating, DS3 created his own challenges by designing and creating a "crapbook" (his word -- not mine ;) and wrapping a bunny in a tissue:

(Oh -- he also painted a picture for daddy, but I forgot to photograph that!)

Are there any creative challenges with which you've been presented and you didn't know where to start? What did you do to get the creative juices flowing?

What do your children do while you take time to be creative?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Altered Journal

The second project in The Artistic Mother is to personalize a poetry journal cover by making a collage incorporating an old photo of yourself. I don't have any old photos of myself on hand, but I have an adorable one of my mother when she was about two. So, I decided that my mother would be my inspiration for my collage.

My husband gave me this journal back in 2000. It has two entries, dated January 20, 2001 and February 17, 2001. Clearly, I haven't been very diligent in writing in it. But I do like it because it asks for specific responses to things like, "Today I am grateful for," "Prayers answered," and "Goals, ideas, etc." It also has a full page section for "Reflections/Notes" which I plan to use for fostering my creative thoughts and perhaps writing some poetry (since that's what the project was to be about). So, I decided I would make my book a prayer and poetry journal.

I turned to my stash of background papers that I created at the beginning of the book's workshop and chose this one:

And then I built my collage around this picture . . .


(How adorable is that face -- and those little shoes?!?!?)

And this more contemporary photo, which I edited to match the sepia tones of the old photo:

I also wanted to use this scripture because of its significance in my life, including the heritage of a mother who loves God and the image of taking refuge in the shelter of God's wings:

Psalm 61

1Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.
2From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
3For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
4I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
5For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.
6Thou wilt prolong the king's life: and his years as many generations.
7He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.
8So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.

As you can tell from the photocopy of my bible that I incorporated into my collage (below), most of the above highlighted verses are underlined in my bible.

After lots of futzing with papers and fabrics and embellishments, this is the collage I created (you can click on the pic to see it better):

You might recognize my pastel lady in the shadow of His wings from my "Sing for Joy" post peeking through the shimmery cut-out (left over from some family wedding decorations!) -- and you'll probably recognize the colourful words as Magnetic Poetry. The verse at the bottom is my goal for the content of my journal.
Anyway, here's the final product:

The photos mess with the sheen and colour of things a bit. (Did you notice that the stones look like they're different colours in the two photos?!?!? They're actually more like the second pic. And you can't see the shimmer on some of the papers.)

Anyway, while the collage is a bit "busier" than I had originally envisioned, I'm quite pleased with the results! I can't wait to get working on the tote bag that is supposed to be used to carry it :)

Are there any personal family photos that have inspired you to create something? What about words, poems, songs, or verses that have challenged you to respond to them in some visual or tactile way?

P.S. I'm linking this post to . . .

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bliss by Blessing Others

One of the things our family tries to do is little acts of kindness to bless people.  DD8, being a little social butterfly, makes friends all over the neighbourhood, and recently she took a liking to a particular grandma who would often take her grandson to the park at the same time as we were there. That lady informed us that she was moving -- and it happened to be onto our street. So, we knew that we had an opportunity to give her a little baked blessing.

Here are the littles creating a coconut topped oatmeal cake:

And here is the package we delivered to our new neighbour:

What are some little ways that you find to bless people with a bit of your creative energy? How do you find a bit of bliss by bringing joy to others?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Porch Prettiness

Every summer, I find joy in creating a little sanctuary on our front porch with odds and ends from around the house, and lots of containers of flowers and greenery. This is the view from the street:

Here is dear old St. Francis, who has suffered much in our garden; he has been beheaded and mended with Gorilla Glue, and now I notice that the poor little bird he holds has also lost its head. But they're nice little greeters at the foot of our stairs.

This is the view as you ascend the stairs. Container gardens seem to be my thing; no weeds, a bit of water each night, and we're good to go! Our in-ground gardens, on the other hand, are a mess!

A close-up of the box you pass on the way to the door, which I showed you before in this post:

If you turn left at the top of the steps, you see our make-do seating area, which leaves something to be desired in the decor department, but is fabulously functional. We just need to find a suitable little table or an ottoman, as we tend to want to put our feet up when we're sitting here. Prince Caspian, whom you also met in the post I linked to above, claims the purple chair as his throne while he and I water the plants in the evening, but he will also force his large limbs to fit into the smaller tub chair if the other is claimed:

And here we have our little herb garden. We have yet to make good use of the herbs, though I did use several sprigs of mint to decorate dessert tonight :)

So there you see a little bit of loveliness that delights me morning and evening -- and many an afternoon, too!

Do you have a favourite little sanctuary that you've created in or around your home? What have you done, or what COULD you do to create a tranquil spot for you and your family to enjoy a few quiet moments? I'm always interested in hearing new ideas, so please do share in the comments below, and link to any pictures you might have posted :)

Before I go, DD8 wanted me to take a picture of her pretty toes that we painted together last night. She was standing on the porch, so they fit with the title of this post ;)

And I just thought I'd share with you the little bouquet of wild flowers DD8 and DS3 collected for me while we were on our "Morning Glories Walk" yesterday:

Such variety of colour and texture! Even weeds were created to delight us! ;)

I linked this post to Funky Junk Interiors blog party.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Halle's Hobbies: Day dreaming and a giveaway#links

Check out this great give-away of art supplies! I'm hoping I might win -- but I'll also be happy if YOUR name is drawn! Let me know if it is! :) Halle's Hobbies: Day dreaming and a giveaway#links

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Altered Book, Etc.

The gift has been given, so now I can show you the Father's Day gift I've been working on for a while now. I know it's the children that should be expressing their gratitude to Dad -- but my DH is such an awesome Dad that I always want to give him an inkling of how much his fatherhood means to me, too.

I had each child dictate their answers to the following statement starters:
I love my dad because . . .
From my dad I've learned . . .
With my dad I like to . . .
Then I made tags to go on each person's page:

I was not the only one who tried to get creative with a gift for the dad of our family; here is the Lego sign DS11 designed and created:

Pretty neat, eh? DD12 suggested he could make and sell them because people would buy them. How sweet is that? (It's music to my ears to hear such encouraging words!)

What are some special ways you've found to creatively celebrate that special dad in your family?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Rising To A Dinner Challenge

My sweet and inspirational RT friend, Missy, recently issued a dinner challenge that, for some strange reason, I couldn't pass up. She and her family were horrified by the Martha Stewart meal plan that involved this cauliflower and pasta recipe, so she offered this cookbook to the first person who made the dish and sent pictures of children actually eating the concoction. Personally, I didn't think it sounded half bad, and I suspected DD8 might actually be quite keen on it.

I was right :)

When DD8 saw the recipe on the counter, she gasped and said, "Are you going to make that?" When I answered in the affirmative, she said, "Oh, I can't wait!" When I took it out of the oven, she was there to exclaim, "Oh, Mom -- that looks soooo good! I can't wait to try it!" She served herself before I'd even had a chance to sit down and I had to make her wait so I could get the camera. Here's what it looked like fresh from the oven (the recipe didn't say to put it in the oven -- but I had to warm it up because I'd made it in advance):

And here's the proof that she really did eat it:

(BTW -- there were supposed to be other vegetables for colour on the plate -- but they boiled dry and when I set the pot on the glass cutting board, it exploded into a million shards!!!!! So, we skipped the colourful veggies!)

And this was the verdict:

She actually had several helpings!

DS3 was also anxious to try it:

And this was his response:

In fact, it's the only thing on his plate he actually finished!

Even DS11 liked it -- and he doesn't like vegetables! DD12 wasn't keen, and DH and I both thought it was rather dry and bland. I don't think I'd ever make it again -- at least not according to the recipe. I would have a wider variety of roasted vegetables (which I love!) and skip the bread crumbs. (Oh -- I used Ancient Grains crusts instead of the white sandwhich bread the recipe called for. But I just think the bread crumbs were unnecessary.)

Anyway -- the little challenge inspired me to get back at being a little more creative with meals. Lately, I've just been doing the last-minute-slap-it-on-the-table thing, and that's just not -- well -- very creative! I'd like family meal time to be memorable and enjoyable, and I think that takes a little more planning than I've been doing recently.

Do you have any favourite ways of making family meal time creative and special? Please share your ideas! I need some new ones!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Homemade Fun

I think I take homemade play dough for granted because I've made it for longer than I've had children. But as I made a batch today, it struck me that it is a creative endeavour in which my children and I engage often enough to make it worth blogging about. After all, someone out there might just have the urge to make some once they see how easy it is.

You'll need:
1 cup white flour
1/4 cup salt
2 Tbsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
food colouring (2 or more tsp.)
1 Tbsp oil
Essential oil of your choice or a favourite spice (optional)

So, we made a double batch, starting with these ingredients:

First, mix the flour, cream of tartar, and salt together in a pot. Mix the water and oil together and add it to the dry ingredients in the pot. You can add your food colouring now -- unless you're wanting to split the batch and make more than one colour. Once everything is mixed, you'll have a nice, smooth mixture.

Now start cooking it over medium heat. It will start to form lumps, like this:

Then the lumps will get bigger, and it will get harder to stir. When you have a glob like this, you're pretty much done the "cooking" part:

Plop your goopy ball on the counter (I always use a cutting board lest the food colouring stain the counter top):

Then, pick your colours. Because we made a double batch, we picked two colours. We also like to add some essential oils or spices to make the dough smell nice. Today, DD8 wanted to use lavender -- a family favourite.

Dent the dough and put several drops of food colouring and essential oil in the dent.

Then mix-a, mix-a, mix-a by kneading the dough throroughly:

You'll end up with lovely balls of dough like this:

Pull out a bin of cookie cutters and toys like this:

And you're good to go for hours of frugal fun!

Do you have any favourite recipes for homemade fun? What are some creative activities that you take for granted and don't even think about them being "creative"? I'll bet you're more creative than you realize!

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