Planning for a New Bloom

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My flower beds have been a bit neglected lately.  I had beautiful beds with a cascade of flowers spring through fall.  I had added some shrubs that I thought would add some texture but they took over and I lost several of my most anticipated blooms in the ‘jungle’.  After seeing the overgrowth and lack of color I decided it was time to make a change!

I started by cutting WAY  back a Mock Orange in the flower bed.  It never flowered, at least not where I could appreciate the blooms, so every stem and branch that was woody was taken.  This opened up a large area in my garden allowing me to see exactly what shape the bed was in.  I lost a butterfly bush to the harsh winter and (I think) my husband’s application of the snow plow…  Add to that some Monarda that has gotten out of control and a Blue Indigo that wasn’t staked this spring (and I think really needs to be split) and I’ve got some work to do……

Lets start with the hole left by the Mock Orange….

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I have a Clematis growing on the trellis that has reddish flowers.  It has had a few, but the shrub blocked the sun, preventing it from blooming.  With any luck, I will get a few flowers from it still this summer but I need to get something in the back to fill in the hole left behind.  I have a lot of blues and purples in the garden blooming right now.  I also have some white Veronica that is just starting to bloom.  The question is:  Should I go for more white for a more subtle color combination or go for a bright yellow/orange, maybe even red for the biggest contrast?

Centranthus Ruber

Alluim Mount Everest

Gaura Whirling Butterflies

Echinacea Tiki Torch

I am leaning toward the Centranthus (Jupiter’s Beard or Red Valerian) because of the reddish/purple that echos the purple in the garden already.  I also think the form and foliage would look nice in contrast to the blue indigo it is up against.  Add to that the fragrance and the food source for birds and butterflies I think I’ve found a winner!

For the area where the butterfly bush was I need something I think that will be fairly low growing.2014-07-26 20.38.54

Not only do I need to fill in the hole where this shrub was, I need to find something that will nicely come up against the walkway without getting out of control.  I have bulbs that bloom in the spring, and sedum to give color in the fall, so I need summer color here.  Again, the choices will be the same….white, yellow and orange or red.  So let’s see what I am considering.

Anacyclus Garden Gnome

Dianthus Helen

Foamflower

The decision is such a difficult one when it comes to this area.  I adore the little daisies with the red accents.  The Dianthus is a fragrant wildlife supporting plant, and the foamflower has a delicate flair.  So why choose just one?  I think the daisies and the Dianthus will be the perfect addition to the front of my garden bed.

What do you think?  Have I missed a favorite boom of yours that would be perfect?  Let me know!

~Nikki

  

Where it All Began

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When I was in school I had a teacher tell me that I had very little talent for ‘art’.  She told me that if drawing was something I wanted to do I was probably better looking for drafting classes.  So, I listened to my teacher, continued on in school in drafting and moved on to map making.  All the while thinking I had no talent for art.

Fast forward several years, and after my husband and I were married he had a friend who’s wife sold things for scrapbooking.  Humph….  I thought.  I had seen the scrapbooks where newspaper clippings, a few photos, maybe a program from some school function were glued onto the newsprint pages of a cheap blank book.  I had no interest in ‘scrapbooking’, but I decided to go to the party she was holding.

I was introduced to Creative Memories and I found that scrapbooking is not just about keeping the  key dates and facts in order, it is about telling your story.  I really got into that part.

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The first scrapbook page I made, EVER!

 
As I continued to grow, I realized the simple approach of the Creative Memories style I was taught was a bit confining.  The ‘recipe’ of 5 – 6 pictures, 2 coordinating small papers to accent and a page of stickers to embellish got a little boring.

I began to use different backgrounds, colored and patterned paper, and more to not only get the important ‘facts’ of the story down, but also capture the feeling of the moment.

It was all downhill from there.  I realized I wasn’t limited to just stamps and inks, only embellishments from the scrapbook isle, this was MY scrapbook, and I could do what I wanted!!!  I began to use acrylic paints, hardware, sand and more and from the scrapbook I made the leap to art journal.  There was no going back from there!

Isaiah 49-16

What is your story?  How did you realize your talent, and how did your creativity grow as you explored the amazing world of ART?

I’d really like to hear all of your stories,

Nikki

  

Journal/Card Keeper Cover

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I’ve had a few days where I’ve been working on a project that I will be entering into a few contests.

The Craft Barn’s Quote & Lyrics Challenge for these two weeks are the words “imagination” and “logic”.  I choose a quote from Blaise Pascal as inspiration for this piece.

“Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice, and happiness, which are everything in this world.”

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This piece will be listed on Etsy, selling for $15.00.  The heavy chipboard covers can stand up to regular use.  The snap rings can be opened to add pages for a journal, or keep those special handmade cards close at hand.  Photo binders can be added making this an adorable mini album or brag book.  The options are endless for this beautiful handmade binder.

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The cover features resist stamped butterflies and other textured elements that are highlighted by the addition of gesso, inks, mica sprays (Lindy’s Stamp Gang Alpine Ice Rose, Green with Envy Green and Wake Me Up Before You Go Gold) and more.  The roses are hand made and dyed using the magicals “Kissin’ Kenickie Coral” from the Nantucket Pearls Sidekick Set, set off by the addition of brass embellishments and a lovely bow.

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I hope you enjoy this cover as much as I enjoyed creating it!

~Nikki

  

The Best (in my opinion) Craft Challenges Around

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Sometimes when you sit down at your desk or workspace that blank paper or project can seem so daunting.  There are so many ways you could start your project but finding the ONE direction to start in can be so hard!  That is where art challenges can be a great help.  They can give you some direction and inspiration to jump start your creativity.  Here are some of my favorites that I participate in from time to time.

The Craft Barn Quotes&Lyrics challenge

I have to thank my friend and reader Lynn for tuning me in to this challenge.  It has been a VERY thought provoking challenge to participate in.  Every 2 weeks they post 2 words.  The challenge is to find a quote or song lyrics that contain one or both of those words.  Because I am dificult  someone who likes to challenge myself, I find myself looking for little known or obscure quotes that lead the direction of my composition.  There is a prize selected at random for each challenge, click here to learn more!

envelope journal - Lindy's Sprays, Road less traveled_edited

Lindy’s Stamp Gang Color Challenge

I am a sucker for mica sprays.  Combine that with die cut pieces, textured backgrounds, interesting embossing powders and more – you have a world of happiness created just for me!  With the monthly color challenge from Lindy’s Stamp Gang (click for more info) you are given a picture with colors as a guideline for creating your composition.  You MUST use 2 of Lindy’s products in the composition, but beyond that you can use anything and everything that happens to land within reach.  This challenge also offers a prize for the winner.

The Mixed Media Monthly Challenge

These challenges are right up my alley!  I really enjoy using unexpected items in my work.  Like my junk mail landscape series, or the use of the water bottle on a scrapbook layout.  The rules for the challenges may change a little bit from month to month, but they are a fun place to look for inspiration.  Check out their challenges today!  Again, there is a prize for the winner of the monthly challenge.

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Three Muses

This blog does not provide any prizes for winning the challenge but you get a ton of exposure for your work, and you can see so many styles represented you can’t help but be encouraged to try something new!  Here you are given a theme, maybe a style to create a work of art.  I generally use these prompts as a place to start in my art journal.  I use my journal as a place to explore new techniques, try different color combinations and explore the world of art in general.  Why not join in on one of their challenges today!

 

  

A Custom Order

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Remember those siffer sweepers?  And the wet pads?

They are FANTASTIC when you are trying to get kids to engage in helping to clean the house.

The only draw back?  The cloths are expensive!  Especially when kids 1) think you can only clean 1 room with a pad (for instance – one for the small kitchen and one for the attached laundry room), and 2) when they don’t close the box and the wet pads dry out.  This makes them a VERY expensive way to get the kids working.  I KNEW there had to be a better (less expensive) way!

So I took it upon myself to create an absorbent, washable, reusable cover for my swiffer.  I broke out my cotton yarn and a crochet hook and got to work.  As a result, I came up with a pattern that has 4 variations.  (You can check out the listing on Etsy.)

Shown here are a simple cover that works well for quick clean ups, a textured cover that is wonderful for grabbing the elusive dog hair dust bunnies and other hard to capture fluffs that inhabit the hard to reach places under furniture and deep in corners.  Last but not least, my kid’s favorite, is the textured cover with a scrubby edge.  It works woderfully as a wet mop.  They just spray the floor with the cleaner of the moment (read as – what ever has been on sale that I mix up into a spray bottle for them) and mop away!  The scrubby edge works to get the sticky dried jam, syrup, or other ‘mystery drips’ off the floor.  The extra textured parts of the pad add to the absorbent quality allowing more dirt, grime and otherwise grossness to be soaked off the floor into the  cotton.  Once you are finished pull the cover off, toss into the wash and you are ready for tomorrow’s adventures in mystery spills, drips and carelessness that comes along with childhood.

Well, this listing has been up on Etsy for a while, (as well as the just listed set of 4 ready made swiffer covers) and I have had a few happy customers download the pattern, but out of the blue I got a message from a lady wanting  BULK ORDER!  She wanted 50 of the simple covers with a scrubby edge.  After some careful consideration and discussion with my husband I accepted the order and once again broke out my crochet hooks.  Here are the first 25 of the covers ALMOST ready to be shipped out.

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Now I just have to finish the last 25, and then hope my blistered fingers and stiff wrist can have  break for a bit!

Wish me luck,

Nikki

  
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