Tuesday, January 31, 2012

five scrappy shares . . .

here is the first of four jbs cha layouts i have to share.  this is the first one i made.  i was dying to use the new perforated stamp paper.  it blows me away with the options for creativity.  i told jenni i'd need a whole ream and i meant it.  seriously, this is going to be a staple for me like kraft cardstock and avery tags.  and then to find out it comes in kraft too. swoon.

the idea in my mind worked out exactly the way i imaged it.  i seriously heard the scrappy hallelujah chorus playing.  i'll definitely be doing a tutorila on this technique soon.  i'll keep you posted!
here are a few more new addtions to the jbs line: tags, hodgepodge stickerse, chipboard buttons and tabs

if you're curious about what cha is or know what cha is wish you could be there, i highly recommend you check out shimelle's blog.  she has a lovely tour of jenni's booth as well as several others with more coming on a daily basis.
don't forget to come chat with us tonight!  we'll be talking about this month's mini-album kit (designed by yours truly), cha product on our wish lists, and shenanigans will surely ensue.  and did i mention we're giving away a mini-album kit as a door prize?

also, you're running out of time to get in on the drawing for a $25 gift certificate from jbs mercantile.  all you have to do is load a layout containing jbs product or one using a jbs mercantile kit to our new gallery.  we're choosing a winner, tomorrow, 2/1, at midnight cst!

and!  jbs is digital once more!  you can find our digital product at jessica sprague.com.  new releases coming weekly!

menu plan 5: tortilla soup

i made my tortilla soup as my dish of the week.  i snagged this pic off the old blog as i was too busy reading to bother photographing the soup i was eating while i was reading.  but yay me for having a menu plan for five weeks straight now, right?  this is unprecidented!  no cute phone photo of the refrigerator menu either, but trust me, it's there.  g will vouch for me on that one.  i've blogged about this recipe a few times.  you can read the quickie version here and my fresh frozen cilantro trick here.  and since these posts, i've taken to adding thin sliced baby carrots to the chicken boil segment and my sister always adds avocado to the toppings options. 

this week:
saturday: tortilla soup
sunday: leftovers
monday: salmon, red lobster baked potatoes, salad
tuesday: i forget, but it's on the fridge
wednesday: beef tips with the leftover grape tomatoes (a doris hybrid - i'll let you know how it goes)
thursday: soup, sandwiches, and salad
friday: open

btw, i'm proud to report that no cucumbers have rotted in my fridge so far this year.  another 2012 miracle.  fingers crossed that the head of iceburg lettuce gets consumed before decomposition sets in as well.

quality literature: catching fire and mockingjay

these consumed me.  i blazed through them in a couple days.  and this is why i don't read much anymore.  i tend to check out from reality when i check in to a good book.  at my current stage in life, this isn't really a good thing.  always too much on the to do list.  oh the irony that one of the reasons my blog has been neglected is because of one of my monthly blogging goals.  la.  maybe this goal should have been a summer project.  oh well.  too late now.  i already started eragon and there are four of those . . .

the other reason my blog has been neglected is cha.  the big craft and hobby association show.  more on that soon!

oh! and many thanks for all the lovely book comments so far.  i have a great admiration for fellow readers.  hope to return some comments soon, but as you can well imagine, my inbox is in a sad state of affairs as well.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

menu plan 4: homemade pizza

i told you i'm no gourmet.  here we go.  "homemade" pizza.  prefab crust a la mama mary.  sauce a la prego (ground beef added and lookie there we're having spaghetti tomorrow. coincidence? i think not.).  i don't like veggie pizza out in public as it tends to have onion and pepper on it.  i like that stuff in mexican dishes, but not on my pizza.  this pizza is loaded with veggies though and i love it.  artichoke hearts, black olives, mushrooms, and tomato slices.  mmm.  and yes!  i'm using the fresh mushrooms and tomatoes from last week's shishkabobs.  waste not want not.  (well, i do still want based on the twitter convo going on tonight, but that's another story).  mexican blend shredded cheese.  i do like mexican cheese on my italian pizza apparently.  again.  mmmmmmm.

so now my burning question for you.  what the heck am i going to do with the rest of the grape tomatoes?  i've used them twice now.  i'm sure you're screaming "salad!" especially after glancing at this week's menu plan below.  problem is i don't like raw tomatoes.  i've tried.  can't train my tongue to enjoy that.  but i do love them cooked.  suggestions???

Saturday, January 21, 2012

couch to 5K: january edition

i have a couple more 2012 "aims" that i need to log on the blog this month.  today i crossed off the first of hopefully twelve 5Ks i'll "run" in 2012.  i put "run" in quotes as i took my little sweet potato with me on this first one.  it's not my intent to include g in my 5Ks, but this one was at the zoo and i could hardly go to the zoo without him. 
plus as i've been stuck on week two of the "couch to 5K" program for two weeks now, i could use an excuse for my slow pace.  it took us an hour and ten minutes to finish.  wheee.  we were greatly distracted by the flamingos among other things.  slow yes, but i think the important thing to note here is that i took my sorry tail out of the house and DID something.  go me!

we are also very excited to report that the dinosaurs are coming!  dinotrek is set to open on march 16th.  you can bet we plan to be there just as soon as we get back from spring break in florida.  :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

jbs mercantile gazette: january

have you read the latest issue of the jbs mercantile gazette?  i have a two-pager article and a page in progress article based on my pinterest layout in there.  and there's lots more good stuff besides.  you can download it for free HERE on the jbs inspiration blog.

Monday, January 16, 2012

art journal

i really didn't intend for this spread to turn into "ode de cat" but there it is.  the journaling on the left is about g watching four episodes of cats 101 on demand and having a serious discussion with me about the merits of the various cat breeds and which he should have when he grows up.  it was really quite sweet.  the alien eyes in the top left came about when i tried to sketch chichi while she was sitting in my lap.  bad idea.  on the right side is a funny story.  have you seen jenni's new line, "magpie?"  i was over there the other day and found an old picture book out that had the dog and a CAT so i was fussing at her for not including any kitties in the new line.  turns out that wasn't the book she got the artwork from, so i had to let her off the hook.  the next day she had the vintage pic on the right with the post-it note taped up on the wall.  so funny.  but i think i like the old photos in the art journal look.  i remember seeing it once in a somerset studio and liking it quite a bit.  need to go through jenni's old photos and buy a few.  maybe they'll inspire me.

i was very uninspired for quite a while on these pages.  i had slapped those music pages down and for some reason that scheme totally threw me off.  i just couldn't think around it for the longest.  then the cat drawing fiasco bogged me down.  nothing happening.  finally, i was checking out robin marie's blog the other day and noticed she was taking a free art journaling course through strathmore.  i signed up and have watched the first two videos in the series.  i gotta tell you.  i have art inhibitions.  yes i do.  but it has given me the urge to play with backgrounds.  i'm anxious to give it a whirl this week.  and between that and the old pics i was able to slog through finally.  i think it turned out rather fun in the end.  hopefully the next page will be easier.

the rest is technical information for anyone interested in what i've done on this one.

the circles were misted using an industrial sized toilet paper roll as the stencil.  i alternated studio calico piglet and maya road orange.  i also overlayed studio calico white over each.  i then loosely drew the circles around them with american crafts precision pen in .03.  the green you see is a wash made from a bit of jenni bowlin for ranger stick candy and seed packet acrylic paint mixed with water.  the doodled vine is the same pen plus some jenni bowlin for ranger chicken feed acrylic paint.  i also used some of gabriel's colored pencils here and there in the journaling.  i journal with an american crafts .01 precision pen.

the frame here is brushed on with a foam brush and the same green paint wash from the left.  i then used the end of a paint brush dipped in jenni bowlin for ranger chicken feed paint to make the dots.  each is doodled with my .01 precision pen.  the circles on the right were created by first misting the piglet over some jbs doily flowers used as masks.  i then swirled a wash of jenni bowlin for ranger lemon drops and chicken feed mixed with water in a circle over each doily flower.  the centers are a dot of jenni bowlin for ranger chili powder using the end of a paint brush.  then again with the hand drawn circles.  i'm very much liking the circle effect and want use that on a scrapbook page soon.

quality literature: the hunger games

one of my aims for 2012 is to read at least one piece of "quality literature" each month.  i use this term loosely.  quality meaning non-trn (code for trashy romance novels).  i consumed quality literature from age 7-33, from my first chapter book to the gman coming into my life.  i guess that boy sucked the quality right out of me (in a good way).  he's a little more self-sufficient now and i'd like to get back to my reading roots.  i'm really at a total loss as to where to begin though.  i snagged "the hunger games" from a co-worker because i knew i'd like it.  it totally lived up to the hype.  i started it last night and was up till 3:00am finishing it.  had a bit of a headache this morning, but it's all good.  do you perchance have any book suggestions for me?  i've only read a handful of what's come out in the last 8 years.  below is a peek at my reading preferences.  suggest away!

i like:
  • modern classics - to kill a mockingbird, steinbeck, a prayer for owen meany
  • southern lit - daisy faye and the miracle man, the secret life of bees
  • cultural stories - memoirs of a geisha, amy tan, life in the time of cholera
  • biographies - the last lion, the last lion alone
  • fantasy fiction - tolkien, the shannara series, harry potter
  • young adult - the giver, catherine called birdie, the house on mango street
i don't like:
  • mysteries - sometimes i do, like in cold blood and james patterson
  • super wordy - tom clancy
  • horror - okay i kinda like these but they scare me so i don't read them
  • science fiction - elves yes, robots no

Sunday, January 15, 2012

g's bookshelf: hatching magic

delightful baby dragon illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.  i would say on average this was probably written for the 10-14 year old girl.  there were several spots i had to explain to g and toward the end i glossed over some things to get done.  for my tastes, it was a little too descriptive at times.  g enjoyed the central story line enough to want to get the sequel.  there are some definite quirky amusing scenes.

g says, "it was maybe a little bit scary in parts and exciting when the egg hatched.  i liked the book because it has imaginary creatures in it."

menu plan 3: shishkabobs

epic fail on the photography.  i just couldn't think of a plate that it would look nice on and i was starving since we didn't get our act together and head to the grocery till 1:00 which means we didn't eat lunch till 3:00.  how about ice cream cones for dinner?  sounds like a plan to me!  but back to the shishkabobs.  the photo might not be the best, but these were awesome!  i used the leftover tequila lime marinade from last week's fiesta lime chicken (trying to think this whole menu plan thing through and actually use stuff before it goes south).  skewered the marinated beef along with grape tomatoes, vidalia onions, pineapple, and mushrooms.  it was delicious.  the only slight issue was the onions were still a little crunchy and i don't particularly care for crunchy onions.  any suggestions for getting those done at the same time as the rest?

another tip.  instead of butter try fresh lime and sea salt on corn-on-the-cob.  i picked up that trick in honduras.  it tastes practically the same but none of the calories. 

this week's menu plan.  i was disappointed to spend over $100 again on groceries this week.  i even got back to the coupon scene and saved $25.  oh well.  maybe it's because g and i are trying to take our lunch to school too.  better luck next week.

Friday, January 13, 2012

craft: crocheted fish valentine pattern

you might think i'm odd.  i think i'm odd.  but i woke up fresh from dreamland at 4:00am one morning last week with the idea for this little fish in the heart pocket lodged firmly in my mind.  i know.  dreaming about crochet.  odd.  and maybe i need to get a life.  but hey.  at least it's better than the freaktastic night scares i had in november.

i tried to write down a pattern as i went.  i hope it works for you.  i apoligize in advance if it doesn't.  i'm not a professional crocheter and the skills i do have are very rusty.

4 ply cotton in red, yellow, green, and navy.
size D crochet hook
2 vintage buttons
black embroidery floss and needle

heart (red): 
rw 1: ch 4, skip 1, sc in next 3 loops, ch 1, turn.  rw2: sc in 1st, 2 sc in next, sc in next, ch 1, turn.  rw3: sc in 1st, 2 sc in next 2, sc in next, ch 1, turn.  rw 4: sc in each across, ch 1, turn.  rw 5: sc in 1st, 2 sc in next, sc in next 2, 2 sc in next, sc in next, ch 1, turn.  rw 6: sc in each across, ch 1, turn.  rw 7: sc in 1st, 2 sc in next, sc in next 4, 2 sc in next, sc in next, ch 1, turn.  rw 8: sc in each across, ch 1, turn.  rw 9: sc in 1st 2, 2 sc in next, sc in next 4, 2 sc in next, sc in next 2, ch 1, turn.  rw 10: sc in each across, ch 1, turn.  rw 11: sc in next 6, ch 1, turn.  rw 12: red (to reduce i put a loop in first 2 stitches before pulling the sc all the way through), sc in next 4, ch 1, turn.  rw 13: red, sc in next 3, ch 1, turn.  rw 14: red, red, sl st, tie off.  rws 15-18: (starting at opposite side - ie the side without a hump) slip stich to attach, ch 1, repeat rows 11-14.

front pocket (red): 
rws 1-3: repeat rows 1-3 above.  rw 4: sc in 1st, 2 sc in next, sc in next 2, 2 sc in next, sc in next, ch 1, turn.  rw 5: sc in 1st, 2 sc in next, sc in next 4, 2 sc in next, sc in next, ch 1, turn.  rw 6: sc in 1st, 2 sc in next, sc in next 6, 2 sc in next, sc in next, ch 1, turn.  rw 7: sc in 1st, 2 sc in next, sc in next 8, 2 sc in next, sc in next, ch 1, turn.  rw 8: sc in each across, sl st, tie off.

assembling the pocket (yellow):
step 1: sl st to attach, ch 1, sc in each stitch across, sl st, tie off.  step 2: hold pocket onto heart.  starting at bottom heart point, sc all the way around the heart to create border.  you will need to put 2 sc in the 4 stitches at the top of each hump and in the 2 corner stitches of the bottom point.

fish (green and navy):
rw 1 (green): ch 5, join to form ring, 8 sc around, sl st to join, ch 2.  rw 2: sc in 1, 2 sc in next, continue around, sl st to join, ch 2.  rw 3: sc in each around, sl st to join, ch 2.  rw 4: red, sc in next 4, red, sc in next 4, sl st to join, tie off.  rw 5 (navy): sl st to attach, ch 2, sc in each stitch around (only using inner loop), sl st to join, ch 2.  rw 6: sc in each stitch around, sl st to join, ch 2.  rw 7: red, sc in next 3, red, sc in next 3, sl st to join, ch 2.  rw 8: red, sc in next 2, red, sc in next 2, sl st to join, ch 2.  rw 9: red, sc, red, sc, sl st to join.  tail: ch 3 (there should be four stitches left. hold end together and go through 2 sets of loops on each of the next stitches), 3 dc in same st, sl st in next, ch 3, 3 dc in same st, sl st, tie off.  fins (green): sl st to attach on side, ch 3, 4 dc in same st, sl st, tie off.  repeat on other side.  eyes: stitch on button eyes with black embroidery floss.

i think he must be a blow fish.  see how he puffs out when you squeeze him.  ha.  now i have the urge to create a bee and a frog.  i'll keep you posted.  :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

nature journal: bamboo

here we are walking the greenway.  do you see us there amidst the bamboo?  i'm sure it's quite obvious why little boys have an innate affinity for bamboo.  hello fishing poles.  you know g was introduced to the wonders of this delightful plant by his papa at a very early age.  now believe it or not, we have a very pressing question about this bamboo.  is it indigenous to tennessee?  we associate it so much with kung foo panda that i'm not sure if this is a native species or an import from asia.  time for a little google action . . .
river cane
arundinaria gigantea
the only bamboo species native to tennessee

bamboo is indeed native to tennessee.  in fact, bamboo is a "true grass" and was once part of the extensive grasslands that covered much of north america.  bamboo is also a perennial evergreen and here i thought it was still sporting the green because of the mild winter we've been having this year (fingers crossed for a snowbird sighting tonight).

another interesting bamboo tidbit - it's one of the fastest growing plants on earth.  one species has been documented growing 39.4 inches in 24 hours.  woah.  the gman and i were actually aware of this fact thanks to our mythbusters viewing.  bamboo used as a torture device during world war II - plausible.

for more information:

and now we come full circle.  boy and his bamboo.  he snatched this piece to accompany him on his three mile journey along the greenway.  it was the black pearl.  it was a ninjago sword.  and finally it was a magic treehouse for a rescued worm.  an active imagination is a very good thing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

ten on the tenth!

every month i wanted to do shimelle's ten on the tenth, but i think i never managed.  i was so excited to see this morning that she's doing it again this year.  hooray!  i am determined to get involved even though i'm already up an hour past my bedtime.  oh well.  i guess tomorrow won't be the day i give up coke.

so.  ten on the tenth is just that.  post any ten things on the tenth of the month.  then shimelle has links so you can see what other collections of ten that fun people have come up with.  i like it.  i'm doing it.  here goes.

as i mentioned earlier this month, i'm on a mission to mars.  or rather, i've got some new year's aims to keep me motivated this year and i'm blogging them to keep me accountable.  how serendipitous to count them this afternoon and find that there are exactly ten.  i haven't posted all ten yet, but they're coming.

7. hikes
8. 5ks
9. mini-albums
10. quality literature

not even mid-month yet and i'm past midway through with getting started.  i'm off and running this year!

oh! and the picture.  g and a couple of his little friends on the last playdate of christmas vacation.  he was pretending to be a camel and made a bridle and bit out of a straw and string.  fun times always.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

b&w stories: papa and the gator circa 1948

another project i hope to accomplish week by week this year is to get the stories written down for our family's old black and white photos.  i'll be starting with my dad's as i scanned those all in sometime last year.  we called him tonight to chitchat and get the story behind this one.  it's always been one of my favorites and even more so now since g and i have gotten addicted to watching swamp people.

papa and the gator circa 1948

it was the summer of '48.  papa was 17.  in the fall he'd begin his last year of high school.  he'd just moved from his dad's place in indiana to his mom's place in florida.  he'd visited florida most summers growing up, but had finally decided to stay.  hunting was good up north, but he found that the sea called to him.  papa had begun fishing with a boy who was to become his lifelong best friend.  a saltwater bayou in st. petersburg had recently been damned to create lake maggiore and the two boys had been given permission to clear out some trapped mullet in this newly formed lake.  enter the stub-tailed 11 1/2 foot gator.  the one that would have been a 12 foot gator if it hadn't had its tail bit off in its early days.  papa was afraid the gator would get caught in their mullet nets so he set out to catch it.  he put a pound of beef on a big hook and chain on the end of 50 feet of 1/2 inch rope.  the next morning the gator was on the hook.  his friend took the gator out with one shot of his 22.  papa skinned it.  papa said, "he shot it, but i instigated the whole thing."

i asked him how he knew how to skin a gator and he told me he'd skinned his first turtle when he was 10.  his dad wasn't around.  he'd caught it and they needed to eat it for dinner, so he skinned it and his mom fried it up.  he said, "i'd always done it.  coons, possums, muskrats, turtles, deer . . . the gator wasn't any different.  they're all animals."  the one photo brings to mind so many memories for him.  once while stationed in korea during the korean conflict, he was pulled off the front line to skin a musk deer that an officer had killed.  he recalled the musk deer had tusks like a wild hog.    when i was a child some friends called him up to come over and skin 3 sambar deer that had been shot when they swam to the mainland from st. vincent's island.  he said those deer were practically the size of horses.

the most recent memory from this photo is of that best friend from high school.  the one he shot the gator with.  he passed away a few years ago.  just last year my dad found out that he'd kept this picture with him in his wallet.  he carried the memory close and always present for close to 60 years.  sometimes words are inadequate.

menu plan 2: fiesta lime chicken

shockingly, i am enjoying this project more than i ever thought i would.  at least right now.  this week's photo op is "applebee's fiesta lime chicken."  i only found one version of it on every link i opened.  i guess it is THE version.  i'm sure it's wonderful, but honestly, i don't have the time, inclination, or financial means to deal with 20 ingredient recipes.  i modified.  and it was still wonderful.  two thumbs way up on this one.  i made the following changes to the recipe:

1. the first 8 ingredients made the marinade.  i substituted kroger's tequila lime 30 minute marinade.
2. i then baked my pound of nicely marinated skinless boneless chicken breasts at 400 for 30 minutes.
3. coat with white sauce and sprinkle with a bit of colby jack shredded cheese and bake till cheese melts.
4. serve on a bed of crushed tortilla chips with fresh lime to squeeze over and a side of mexican rice.

The "white sauce" in step two is a mix of the following ingredients with my changes in parenthesis:
  • 1/4 cup real mayonnaise (1/8 cup)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (1/8 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons salsa (omitted)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon cajun blackening (sprinkle of pepper)
  • 1/4 teaspoon parsley flakes (sprinkle)
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (substituted a dash of mustard)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dill weed (omitted)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin (sprinkled)
i really was going to add the hot sauce, but somebody had used the last.  i found some taco sauce on my hot sauce search, but it had a "best if used by september 2011" marking, so i was hesitant.  mustard was the next zestiest thing, so mustard it was.

the chicken was pretty darn awesome.  will definitely be adding this one to the frequent rotation.  the only thing i'll change is my choice of a rice side.  i used uncle ben's sun-dried tomato florentine.  the lime and sun-dried tomatoes were in competition with each other.  i think the rice would be great with fish, but not the fiesta lime chicken.  next time i'll look for a more middle of the road mexican rice.

here's the plan for the rest of the week.  homemade pizza per g's request.  mostly easy stuff since we have cub scout meetings two nights this week.  and i've taken to posting the menu on the fridge so my little pork chop doesn't have to keep asking me what's for dinner.  :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

gearing up for valentine's day . . .

i have a couple sweet projects up on the jbs inspiration blog today!  these tasty teacher treats and a layout with the new fiskars punches.  :)

donkey kong . . .

i tried to get back in the scrappy groove last night so i don't have such a dismal showing in donkey kong this month.  these two layouts bring my current total to 4.  but i have a two pager in progress, 5 valentines almost completed, and high hopes of tackling the mini.  i have till sundown on the 10th.  think i'll make it?  it's a fun little challenge group.  come chat with us if you get the chance.

this layout makes me laugh.  i thought the colors in the main kit were so pretty with these photos.  but the girliness.  well.  then i had a stroke of inspiration with the title and totally made it work for me.  those boys deserve it too.  the nephew on the left actually pulled his underwear out of his butt in the photo after this one.  he did it on purpose because he knew i was taking the picture.  the nephew in the middle won't make a pleasant expression in a photo ever.  ever.  ask his mother and sister.  glad i'm raising my little guy right.  oh wait.  there is that quirk he has about wearing his boxers out in public for all the world to see.  hmmm.  let's move on to a real girly layout, shall we?

my sweet niece.  isn't she adorable?  for the background here i marked off those white squares with masking tape and misted with studio calico piglet.  i then laid the crafter's workshop mask down and misted with maya road hydrangea.  finally i lifted the stencil off and dribbled a little jbs chicken feed for good measure before peeling off the masking tape.

the photo mats are strips of paper adhere to a piece of background cardstock for a quilted look.  i then stitched some trim from the artisan add-on around the edges.  it totally made me giggle when i realized that pink and white trim is the elastic stuff around the legs of little girl underwear.  underwear textiles in scrapbooking.  what will they think of next?  and i think i'll stop now before i feel another urge to throw unmentionables into the conversation.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

nature journal: venus flytrap

my father is a walking field guide of north america.  his knowledge of the great outdoors always amazed me as a child.  he knew something about everything green and growing and beautiful.  it amazes me still.  and he acquired this knowledge from life.experiences.  he only ever uses the computer to read my blog.  i think he's used google once and that was with my sister's assistance.  he just knows things.  his knowledge is true too.  why once i mentioned to a friend of mine who happened to be a doctoral student in environmental sciences at duke university that crawdads lived in little holes in our front yard in florida.  he informed me this couldn't be because crayfish have gills.  i, of course, pursued the matter in the duke university library.  i couldn't deal with the thought that my dad might be wrong.  he wasn't.  i found pictures there of exactly what my father knew.

sometimes i think g thinks i must know everything.  he asks me questions all the time.  then he spouts my words as fact to all who will listen.  it's humbling.  it bothers me that i tell him "i don't know" way too often on our walks.  my boy craves knowledge about living things.  it's in his blood.  i've decided that once a week this year i'm going to use my google powers and find him some answers.  we'll be compiling a little nature journal right here on the blog.  i hope you enjoy our "walks" and what we learn from them as much as we do.

venus flytrap
dionaea muscipula
native only to boggy areas in north and south carolina

the closing mechanism - they have tiny hairs called triggers inside the traps.  when these are touched the leaves snap shut.  they don't close all the way immediately as they want to give smaller less meaty bugs the chance to escape.  they also can't handle bugs that are too bug.  with the right sized bug the trap snaps shut to create an airtight seal.  then the flytrap will begin to secrete digestive juices to break down the bug innerds and its very own sanitizer to keep the bug fresh and clean while it's being eaten.  scientists are not quite certain how the plant moves.  the theory is that the plant produces a bit of an electrical current that causes an internal fluid pressure system to start working.  it's nice that there are still some mysteries in life, isn't it?

caring for the venus flytrap:
  • they need to live in terrariums so their air is nice and moist.  we need to put ours back in the plastic container it came in until we can get a terrarium for it.
  • water them with untreated water.  we are giving ours a couple tablespoons of fishtank water each day.
  • they grow in a combination of sand and sphagnum moss and should be transplanted every few years.
  • aunt theresa said she had one as a kid and gave it hamburger meat.  this is a big no no and explains why our trap never closed around the meat.  only bugs please!  and if the bugs are deadish you should wiggle them around a bit to trigger the closing mechanism.
  • they like to be warm and sunny, but watch carefully for wilting!
  • the little plants eat about two houseflies or tiny slugs per month.
  • they are somewhat dormant from thanksgiving to valentine's day and need less bugs and sun during this time.
for more information:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

the year of the dragon . . .

i started the couch to 5K today. i am the epitome of january in 2012. i read today on alissa fast's blog that it's the year of the dragon. perhaps this is why i have a fire under my butt and g is wanting to buy eragon.

Monday, January 2, 2012

art journal

behold. my art journal. i'm kinda excited about it. i yearningly watched julie's art journal every day posts all year long in 2011. i even attempted to start one of my own back in february. it didn't take. i felt like i was making a mini-album. you know i really like mini-albums. but a mini-album is not an art journal. i lost interest after a week. i pushed through for another week. then i quit in a huff. depression. bah.

i discovered karen's blog sometime after that. i loved watching her foray's into art journaling. and sketching. i've watched the project life excitement escalating this fall. i had absolutely no interest in that until i read lisa's post about her approach. hmmm. maybe. maybe no. but it got me wanting to record more moments in time. then i found this old ledger at vintagefest. i held it for almost an hour. debating. would i really use it. i wanted to. i finally couldn't say no. it called to me. "take me hoooooooooooome," it said.

not wanting to waste a big ticket investment i was determined to get to work on it immediately. ali's one little word concept seemed like a good idea for the cover. i shall be focusing on joy this year. at least until i find i need to focus on something else. i really like shimelle's thoughts on that . . . "And although the specific project is a word for the year, don't forget that life isn't really ruled by a calendar. I think it's okay to roll with the punches and change things when they need to change. I often focus on a guiding principle for a season or two and then move on when the energy to work on another part of life seems to be calling me. "

my old ki memories felt letters jumped onto the page. i merrily sewed them down. i really thought i should add more. but then i told myself. nope. joy. that is all.

and here we begin my art journaling journey anew. i'm still not sure what i'm doing or where i'm going. but i think that is the point (or one of the many points) of an art journal. i've started a pinboard of art journaling ideas. with that i've noticed that i like light airy pages. i don't lean toward collage or heavily colored backgrounds. i like sketching. i want to dabble in watercolors i think. eventually. right now i'm just working with what i have. the bank account's on a post christmas diet. aren't we all?

the rest of this post will be a play by play of each section. you may want to stop reading now if you're not interested in that sort of thing. but for those of you who like me often wonder, "how did she do that?" well. here it is . . .

here i was trying to replicate jenni's stamping on this layout. i used stick candy paint first with the cabbage flower foam stamp. then malted milk with the same stamp. it didn't come out like jenni's. when i showed jenni this page she told me what you need to do is use the malted milk paint and foam stamp first and then use the cabbage flower clear stamp with stick candy ink. aha!

the background stencil is from crafter's workshop. now i know i need to do stencils a little darker if i'm going to be writing over them. the title is hand done. i painted it in with seed packet and then a little translucent glitter sprinkle. the white bits are gessoed. i didn't like the writing in there so i covered it up. the flowers are cut from very old heidi swapp paper. i also gessoed them to make them a little softer. the words on the side are just printed on copy paper, inked with malted milk, then trimmed out and stuck on.

i drew a pair of my old college dancing shoes. the background is painted with gesso. then with a little soap powder ink mixed with water (top) and spice tin ink mixed with water (bottom). the shoes are painted with studio calico barnwood ink mixed with water. i also brushed a little of this over the blues to dirty them.

here's my first full spread. nothing daily here. i deliberately started on a thursday. and while i'm dating each section with tiny numbers, i'm not making a big deal out of the date. daily makes me manic. not a good thing.

i am liking blocking sections quite a bit. and putting washi tape down the seam seems to be my thing. also, it is surprisingly easy to find spots to sew on the pages even though they're stuck in the book. oh! and another thing. since these are thin ledger pages, i am skipping a page each time so i don't have to worry about bleed throughs or working around sewing from the previous page. i will then attach the two subsequent finished pages for continuous visual appeal. :)

i tried to draw a real feather. it was very difficult to draw a real feather. at least the one i chose. it was very much curved and fluffy in places. i used a regular pencil. then some soap powder ink with water. then went back in with a .01 precision pen. the stencil is a jbs mercantile kit exclusive (those will go on individual sale mid-month). i think the ink is chicken feed with the stencil and then some lemon drops without stencil. i used a .05 precision pen for the quote and colored in the loops with some of g's colored pencils.

the quote says, "plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn't stop to enjoy it." - william feather

i really worked hard on this feather and liked it a lot. i sketched it from an image off my feather pinboard. same process as the previous feather. the alpha stamps are from american crafts. sorry the name of the font eludes me at the moment. i used cough syrup ink. the misty mess is maya road hydrangea and studio calico piglet.

the crafter's workshop stamp again, this time repeated four times. .05 precision pen for the title. all journaling is .01 precision. the pen you choose is VERY important for journaling. try out a bunch and find out what your hand likes. stencil is outlined with the .o1 in the title area. several of g's colored pencils reappear again. the interior letter spots are colored with a sharpie.

in love with my bee drawing. she is the cutest. i almost said he, but you know bees are all sisters. i got her off my bee pinboard. also in love with the tiny october afternoon alpha stamps. can you believe i've had those for a couple years now and hadn't used them? and oops! can't remember the name of these either. but they will be in my art journaling kit for sure. the bee is all pencil and colored pencil. the stamping is in fountain pen. jbs exclusive stencil again with lemon drops.

that's it! hope to have a second installment of ye olde art journal next week!