Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mike's Craft

I almost forgot - Mike started a tradition in 2007 with designing our holiday card. I think he does such an amazing job! Don't we have such a great looking family? :)
Happy Holidays (and that's all for 2008 - we can now enter into 2009)!



Monday, February 23, 2009

My Crafts for 2008 Holidays

I had a lot of fun with my holiday crafts this past year :0). For my main gift I ended up doing these cool 3D snowflakes. I had so many different ideas that I was throwing around but in the end I came back to these beauties. They're actually relatively easy to make but have such a pretty end result.

I first saw these last year at the papercutting conference that I went to. Then a friend of mine was making them for her craft, then Lauren (the girl I worked with) designed a snowflake program for work and had these as the craft. It was actually thanks to her because she taught me how to make them and inspired me to do more.

And if you would like to try and make one yourself, you can check out this website:
How to make a 3D Paper Snowflake
There are actually lots of websites and YouTube videos on how to make them - just search 3D snowflake. The only difference with the ones that I made were that I used hot glue instead of tape or staples. I found it worked better and looked nicer. Oh, and I sprayed them with glitter.

Then I also got into making ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). I've been hearing a lot about these and thought that they could be a fun and easy craft to do. I actually belong to a papercutting ATC group, although I had never attempted one before the ones I did for the holidays.

ATCs are miniature works of art created on 2 1/2 X 3 1/2 inch card stock. They are originals, small editions and most importantly, self-produced. Anybody can produce them. The idea is that you trade them with other people who produce cards, either at trading sessions, through the mail or wherever you meet another ATC trader.

The project was initiated in 1997 by Zurich artist M.Vanci Stirnemann, who created 1200 cards by hand as part of an exhibit. At the closing reception he invited others to create their own cards and trade with him. Since then several hundred people from all over the world have traded ATCs.

Artist Trading Cards are typically made on a base of card stock, however any base is acceptable. The art on the cards can be done in any media; pencil, pen, acrylic, oil, collage, textile arts, scratch board, digital art, calligraphy, beadwork, rubber stamps, pen and ink, colored pencil, airbrush, pastels, and many others - basically anything you would like to use.

Anyway, I tried to personalize them with things that represented the people that I was making them for. This picture is a collage of the ones that I did, but below is a slideshow that you can see them in more detail if you click on it.

I had a lot of fun with them and actually have more that aren't on here yet because I still need to send them out. But here is a call to all of you. If you received an ATC from me, I challenge you to make one for me. And it can be any style at all - it does not need to be a papercutting. The only rule is that it needs to be the 2 1/2 X 3 1/2 inch size. AND, if you have yet to receive one from me, feel free to send me one and I will send you one back! (and that really goes for ANYONE! - just send me a message through this blog!)

I also got to do a couple of special papercuttings. This one was for my cousin Tori. It (of course) way very late. It was actually for her graduation. She likes Snoopy a lot so I thought it would be fitting :)

I was also comissioned to do this one for our friend June. It was a gift for her husband as a graduation present. He got his Ph. D. from Penn State and did a lot of work with acoustics. I thought that it turned out really neat.

And this one was a first for me. A girl that worked with me over the summer comissioned me to make one for her mother. She collects pictures of Rainbow Falls at Watkins Glen State Park. So I took a picture of Rainbow Falls and turned it into this cutting. I was pretty freaked out while making it but really liked the way it turned out.

Here is the real picture that I used for the cutting below.

And one more fun craft - a Wordle! I was at a conference for invasive species and saw my first Wordle. Basically, you go to this website and type in a bunch of words. Then it shuffles them and makes them into pretty word clouds like this:

Here is the website for endless fun:

(But beware - sometimes not all words show up. This wordle that I did was for a gift tag for my mom's family celebration. I typed in all the names but for some reason Jim and Dan would not show up. Of course I didn't realize until I had already passed them out and felt really bad, but I eventually got it fixed. The only way I could make it work was to put the names with another name. So just beware that there are still some quirks with it.)

Holiday Crafts 2008

If you follow this blog at all, you should know by now that our family is very crafty and for holidays we try and stick to handmade things as a core to our gift giving. In particular, my mom's side of the family always exchanges a handmade gift each year to each family. I LOVE this tradition and it really gets me motivated to do lots of crafts over the holidays. But what is really fun is to see what everyone else comes up with. And this year, to say the least, had an awesome display of creativity for sure. Here are the goods:

My Aunt Nene and Uncle Jim made this great votive holder out of wood. They say it should go outside but I think it's so beautiful that it should not be thrown to the elements!

My Aunt Pat outdid herself as usual :) She monogrammed hand towels,

she sewed a hotplate, smell good pad,

She designed her gift bags,

AND embroidered this sweet little ornament. Wow! She's amazing!

She also gave me a sweatshirt to grow into with the baby :)

Now my Uncle Bob (Aunt Pat's husband) is no exception and is a talented woodworker.

Here is a beautiful ornament that he cut - I love his designs - I think we should collaborate someday!

My mom has actually entered into the role of "photographer" these days and has been making beautiful note cards with her photographs. So for the exchange we were all gifted with an amazing set of her wonderful pictures.

AND, once again, MY FATHER is no exception to the rule! That's right, my dad actually painted these beautiful ornaments. My parents had gone to China last year, so in honor of their trip (and a somewhat Chinese themed holiday celebration) he designed these ornaments.

And I think I'm going to screw it up, but one side says good fortune and the other side says prosperity (I'm about positive that's not right though, so once I am corrected I will update this post :) Sorry Dad!

My cousins JoAnne, Mike, Zach, Madison and Michael put together these really special gratitude beads. They are similar to a rosery but instead you go around and say something you are grateful for for each bead. I love the idea and am grateful to now have this beautiful reminder of all the things I appreciate in life!

My cousins Brian and Stacy built this beautiful picture frame with key hooks. It's got such a slick look to it, I love it!

From my cousins Kathy and Jeff, we recieved this cute, little snowflake pillow. It's actually very sparkly with beads - Very beautiful!

Jeannie sewed these cool autumn maple leaf bowls. I love them, especially since my favorite leaf is maple :)

Now Mike's family is also no exception - they too are brimming with VERY crafty people!

My mother-in-law knitted these adorable felted plant cozies! I think they are so cute!!

And Betsy knitted this great draft stopper. It has actually been doing an awesome job in our living room - thanks Betsy!

Betsy is also a very talented potter and had created these delicate little bowls for us. Perfect!

We also have a very kind friend who is another very talented sewer. Our friend Noreen sewed us a whole set of these beautiful placemats. Thank you Noreen!

Just a quick one on the holidays :)

I'll get caught up sooner or later! I really don't mean to drag the holidays out till the end of February, but there is just so much that I need to share. (I will cut it a little short though to spare you :). Our holidays were crazy and hectic but a lot of fun. We traveled....A LOT! First to State College the weekend before Christmas for my mom's family celebration. Then again to State College for Christmas, then to Wellsboro, then back to State College, back to Ithaca, and then back to State College again for one last celebration with my dad's side of the family. All this over about 2 weeks and still worked and crafted and got a stomach virus AND a sinus infection! It was wild, but really great to see so much family and spend quality time with everyone.

Here's the big clan! And we were actually missing 9!

The "Ladies Man," my nephew, Evan :) What is really crazy to imagine is that almost all of these gals were in our!

My darling sister-in-law & bro :)

Mike's sister Betsy was able to come back to Ithaca over one of those trips and stay with us for a few days. It was really great to have her, although it was sad because we had to work, and of course that was when I ended up getting sick the first time :(. But hopefully she'll be back soon for some good ol' baby fun!!

Betsy, Mike & Abner Al

Mom & Dad opening presents

Mike with a cool beer glass from Ryan and Sarah. They weren't able to make it up for the holidays. We definitely missed them though!

Mom checking the FONDUE!! That's right, Mike's family has a little bit of a tradition to have fondue Christmas eve.
And that is alright by me!!!

Thank goodness my stomach was pretty much back to normal for fondue night!

My parents about to open up their matching gifts. It was pretty funny, David, Jeannie and Mike and I got my mom a back massager and little did we know, she had gotten almost the exact same one for my dad. Pretty funny :)

And of course my favorite little guys, Evan and Conell. They had a pretty fun Christmas. One thing to remember, Evan came downstairs Christmas morning and saw all the presents and actually said that there were too many and we should send some back.....WHAT??? Where did he come from? And Conell was so cute too, he was so sleepy, it took Evan and I a good 5-10 minutes just to get him up to go downstairs. Needless to say he was a bit spaced out at first, but he eventually came around :)


Monday, February 16, 2009

A New Tradition

This year (or I guess I should say last) we decided to go and chop down our own Christmas tree. We've talked about doing it for years and that's actually how Mike's family always does it. But I had never experienced such a thing before. So we did our research and headed out into the country.

By very good luck, we stumbled across this fantastic tree farm. They send you out on tractor-pulled wagons and drop you off in the middle of a beautiful tree farm, equipped with your very own hand saw!

A view from the back of the wagon

Then you just hike around until you find the perfect tree and once you find it - chop it down!

Here is our beauty :) - it's PERRRFECT!

I couldn't believe how quick it was to cut down - it must have taken all of about 30 seconds! I guess sharp saws are a nice luxury.

When you get back to the main shop, they even give you hot chocolate! It was great - and we definitely agree that we will be turning this into a new tradition.

Here we are with our pretty tree!

OHHH - so sparkly :)

Southern Visitors

We had a nice visit earlier in December by our good Delaware friends, Dana and Bill. It was so great to see them. They were able to stay for a long weekend, so we got to see lots of fun sites and do lots of fun things.

Here is Mike actually playing the banjo (which he doesn't do nearly enough :)

Daner and Bill at the Boatyard.

So we went to this restaurant, The Boatyard Grill, just for some drinks and appetizers and stumbled upon a fun bet that was underway. We went there in the middle of the afternoon, so they were very slow. As we walked in, all the staff were just sitting around the bar and proceeded to tell us that we arrived at the most perfect time. They were going to bet one of the workers to jump into the Cayuga lake inlet for $100 - and we were welcomed to watch!

This was so crazy because of course it was a freezing day - like teens - and the water had been frozen over. It was pretty funny - and what do you know, I just happened to have my camera on me (I know - what a huge surprise!)

So as you can see, it was pretty funny. The people who put down money were actually a little upset because he didn't completely submerge himself, but I think he eventually got paid. Oh yeah, and to congratulate him on going through with it, they proceeded to lock him outside for a few minutes afterwards - ha!

Turkey Days

Thanksgiving brought lots of travel as usual. We headed to Wellsboro to celebrate with Mike's family and then continued on to State College to our second celebration with my family. It was great to see everyone and spend quality time.

Mike's Uncle Gerry even made it this year for Thanksgiving (back row, left). He lives in NM and doesn't usually make it up to PA for holidays.

Two little turkeys :)