Monday, August 25, 2014
Who can resist a pretty button? I know I sure can't and if you're like me the latest challenge #14 at Gloria Stengel's Craft Hoarder's Anonymous challenge blog—Button it up!—is perfect for you. As Gloria so rightly reminds us, "Crafters of every stripe are button hoarders. Buttons are pretty, inexpensive, and extremely versatile. If you are a card maker, quilter, layout artist, or anything in between, you probably have a button hoard. Buttons come in many sizes, styles, shapes, and colors, plus they are easy to store...usually in cute containers. Pull out those bins of buttons and use some of them for your challenge project!"
For this, my second guest design spot for August, I used vintage buttons from my own hoard, plus some button paper. And since who uses buttons most—a seamstress—I used this vintage image (also from my hoard) as the topper. The sentiment is from docrafts Papermania Urban Stamp Mixed Buttons set. In keeping with the sewing theme, I stitched around the edges.
Dig around in that button hoard of yours and come join the fun at Craft Hoarders Anonymous. There's a great prize up for grabs, too! You've got 'til August 31st to play along.
Paper—The Paper Studio Yarn & Thread Emporium, cardstock
Topper— vintage seamstress image from my collection
Stamps—docrafts Papermania Urban Stamp - Mixed Buttons (PMA 907190)
Dies/punch—Die-namics photo corners, tag punch
Embellishments—vintage buttons, ribbon, twine
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Here is another one of my docrafts trial projects I designed for Creative magazine (see the first one here), using docrafts Papermania Home To Nest A4 Ultimate Die-cut & Paper Pack. This time it's a Father's Day card.
I love these Bare Basics canvas shapes; you can use them in so many different ways.
Banner Birdhouse Father's Day Card – Instructions
1. Cut a kraft paper rectangle 12.2 x 17.3cms. Cut the garden images paper 11.7 x 16.8cms. Center on the kraft paper and glue. Glue to the 5 x 7" card blank face. Cut a band of kraft paper 12.2 x 3.5cms. Cut a green paper band 11.7 x 3cms, center on the kraft band and glue. Cut a die-cut bird border of 11.7cms, center and glue on the green band. Glue this band 4.5cms from the card's bottom edge.
2. Cut a kraft rectangle 8.6 x 12cms. Center and glue the decoupage base. Build the decoupage birdhouse image with 3D foam tape and squares, center and glue 2cms from the card's bottom edge.
3. Glue the Father's Day sentiment to kraft paper and cut a small 2mm border. Glue in the bottom right corner of the decoupage image.
4. Use a large eye needle to thread baker's twine through the eyelets of the three canvas shapes. Tie knots in the twine at the ends, cut off excess. Make two small double bows. Glue the banner to the top part of the card. Glue the bows to the banner.
Use a large eye needle to run the baker's twine through your eyelets.
Shopping List (all docrafts)
Home To Nest A4 Ultimate Die-cut & Paper Pack (PMA 169051)
5 x 7" Cards/Envelopes Gate-Fold White (PMA 150403)
5 x 7" Cards/Envelopes White (PMA 150400)
8 x 8" Kraftstax Paper (PMA 160600)
Jute Ribbon 5M (PMA 174501)
Canvas Shapes With Eyelet Small Large Flags (PMA 174408)
Spots & Stripes Brights Baker's Twine (PMA 171203)
3D Foam Tape 9mm wide (STI 7201)
3D Foam Squares (STI 4000)
Friday, August 15, 2014
I was pleased as punch when my docrafts website gallery caught the eye of the folks at Creative magazine a while back. They asked if I'd like to do a magazine tryout and of course I said yes. They sent me the Papermania Home To Nest A4 Ultimate Die-cut & Paper Pack (PMA169051) to craft with. I made three cards and an album. They liked my work and as I mentioned in a recent post I have a card in the August issue.
I didn't want to post these trial projects without approval, but I asked and have been given the okay to do so. Since each project included written instructions and top tips, I thought I'd share those with you as well.
1. Cut a green paper square 12.2 x 12.2cms. Cut a birdhouse paper square 11.7 x 11.7cms, center on the green square and glue.
2. Adhere a band of green striped craft tape near the bottom of the square, layer a band of red spots tape over the green. Trim excess. Center paper on 5" square card blank and glue.
3. Add green and red craft tapes to the very end of the New Home sentiment tag. Punch a small hole in the end of the tag. Build the decoupage birdhouse image with 3D foam squares and slip the sentiment tag onto the top layer of the left birdhouse, securing it with a little glue. Measure 3.5cms from card's bottom edge, center decoupage image on the card and glue.
4. Glue bird and egg circle die-cuts to the craft tape band with 3D foam squares.
For greater 3D effect hang your tag from a piece of the layered 3D decoupage image.
Craft tape is a quick, easy to adhere, alternative to ribbon.
Shopping List (all docrafts)
Home To Nest A4 Ultimate Die-cut & Paper Pack (PMA 169051)
Just To Say
5 x 5" Cards/Envelopes Blank (PMA 150623)
Spots & Stripes Festive Patterned Craft Tape (PMA 462302)
3D Foam Squares (STI 4000)
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Vitré was the last stop on our recent Brittany trip before heading home. Like Rennes, it is a town filled with half timbered houses and medieval imagery, but the highlight of our visit was its château. This château's origins date back to before 1000. Its current form dates back to the late 1400's early 1500's (like every château in France it's seen numerous home improvement projects). The château now serves as the mairie for Vitré (town hall). Part of the château is available for viewing and we decided to take the tour.
We can across this little room in a high corner of the tower and thought...what the heck?! Then we saw the sign.
It's a medieval toilet. Kind of gives new meaning to the expression "Bombs away!" now doesn't it?
Monday, August 11, 2014
I'm so fortunate to be guest designing again for Gloria Stengel's Craft Hoarders Anonymous Challenge Blog in August. This challenge #13 is Let's cycle...up-cycle that is!
"Being frugal and going green is what it's all about," Gloria says. "Show us how you can up-cycle something using 'junk' from your hoard. Most craft hoarders also hoard boxes, tins, packaging, and bits of this and that. Our mantra is, 'I can MAKE something with that!' Now is your chance! Up-cycle!"
My altered art piece, Postmodern Dream Catcher, is made with an empty ribbon spool. I aged the metal tag to give it a copper patina and used a vintage look font for Dream. The pink feathers I found at my favorite outlet shop. The docrafts Madame Payraud butterflies have a 3D effect. This baby is chock full of goodies, a lady bug, a watch piece, a small perfume bottle, thread spools, butterflies—everything you need to dream.
Ribbon spools are great to upcycle. They make excellent photo frames, refrigerator magnets, altered art pieces, even bird houses. Your only limit is your imagination.
You've got 'til August 17th to play along and one lucky participant will win this prize offered by Gloria.
Base—empty wide ribbon spool
Paper—docrafts Papermania Madame Payraud 6" x 6" paper pack (PMA 160164) and label stickers (PMA 157219), Toga Baroque paper pack
Embellishments—Artemio metal tag aged with copper patina, Jolee's Boutique watch, Papermania bare basics wooden bobbins (PMA 174603) and Madame Payraud 3D butterflies (PMA 157222), pink thread, pink wings, lady bug, vintage bottle
Font—1942 Report font
Miscellaneous—wall hanger, jewelry eye pin
Saturday, August 9, 2014
The restaurant and hotel have been there since 1888 and its omelettes are still made the same way, double beaten in a copper bowl and cooked over an open fire. The above is the kitchen area you see straight away when you walk in.
I don't think I'd want this job in a heat wave, would you?
The restaurant walls are lined with autographs and photos of all the famous people who have eaten there. It's important to reserve and ask for a table in the downstairs dining room (much prettier than upstairs).
And here's the omelette. Its consistency is really more like a souffle than an omelette. It's very light and fluffy (nothing—NOTHING—like IHOP, trust me on this one). There are all types of omelettes to choose from and a very nice set price menu with three plates—entrée, main plate and dessert. It is NOT inexpensive, depending on what type of omelette you choose (my husband had lobster) and your wine, you can figure well over €100 for two people. The food, wine and service were excellent and I enjoyed the meal. So yes, it's expensive, but in my opinion, yes, it's worth it. Frankly, it's the thing I enjoyed most visiting there.
Friday, August 8, 2014
I've been wanting to see the Mont St. Michel for a long, long time, but since it's well over an 8 hour drive from our home it's not so easy to get to. I've lived in France almost fourteen years now and I decided this summer, by golly, we were going. Everyone says you shouldn't go in July or August, France's prime vacation season, but the package we got was surprisingly the least expensive in July (like a third of the price), so I thought, "What the heck, let's go anyway!". And you know what? All those people who said DON'T go in July or August, well...they were right.
The Mont St. Michel is on an island in Normandy and is one of the most visited and photographed sites in France. It's been occupied since ancient times and the abbey at the top dates from the 8th century. The Mont used to be a true island at high tide, but through the centuries the area around it has silted up. The French government is investing heavily to return it to its true island state and has been busy constructing changes to its access. Everyone is obliged to leave their cars at a specific parking area 2.5 km away. You can then take a shuttle to arrive closer to the Mont (you'll still have about a two block walk after that) or you can use the new pedestrian bridge my husband and I chose (in the picture above) that just opened the day before we visited.
Having seen the Mont so many times in photos, and dreaming of seeing it myself for so long, seeing its majestic presence in the distance as we approached was awesome. It was the same feeling I had when I saw the Tour Eiffel for the first time, or St. Mark's Square in Venice. I just kept saying to my husband, "Wow! Can you believe it? Wow!". He'd been there before so he wasn't quite as impressed as I was. And then, the closer we got, I saw...construction. A crane's arm I can probably photoshop away, but scaffolding? Phfff, I was a tad disappointed. Since they were still working on the area around it, everyone had to enter and exit by a single wooden walkway about the width of a sidewalk. It was not a pleasant wait and the line was long.
When we finally got inside, this is what awaited us. There are supposedly almost 3 million visitors a year to the Mont St. Michel and it sure seemed to me like a third of them were there on the same day we were. It was almost impossible to move freely in the tiny crowded streets.
This is what the area around Mont St. Michel looks like at low tide. The little specks there are people walking on the sand. You have to be careful though, the sand can be dangerous if you don't know where you're going.
The line to enter and tour the abbey at the top was hours long so we decided not to see it. Only about 25 people (including monks) actually live on the Mont. It was hard to appreciate the Mont's history and beauty with tacky tourist shops everywhere. It probably would have been much better in the Fall when it's not so crowded. Still, I can say I've seen it now and it was worth the visit.
We did take the opportunity to dine at the famous Mere Poulard restaurant while there, which was a very enjoyable experience indeed, more on that later.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
A friend asked for a sympathy card and needed it in a rush. I decided to use these docrafts Papermania Just to Say...Sympathy Die-Cut Toppers. Since the center image is small I increased my mat size to take up more visual space on the card front. I just happened to have the perfect coordinating butterfly embellishment. I was able to plan and implement this card in under thirty minutes, which is quick for me.
Topper—Papermania Just to Say Sympathy/Thinking of You Die-Cut Toppers (PMA 157176)
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
St. Malo, a beautiful walled city on France's northwestern Brittany coast, wins 'Favorite Place Visited' this trip, even more so than the Mount Saint Michel (more on that another day). It's a real city, with shops and restaurants and a beach to catch some rays (not just a tourist trap). The city's modern origins date back to the 6th century, but it's best known for its pirate connections. In the 17th and 18th centuries French corsairs (a type of state sponsored pirate) made their home here, controlling shipping on the channel, and exploring further afield (as far as the Americas). In August 1944 the historic center of St. Malo was almost completely destroyed by a fire that followed allied bombing, but it has been authentically, lovingly restored. The photo above is the land side view as you approach the city.
That's a reproduction corsair ship there to the right. We thought €6 a piece was a tad expensive to tour it, we just admired it from a distance.
This is the main entrance to the city.
Inside restaurants and shops line the walls; you won't be starved for choice. I read that St. Malo has one of the highest concentrations of restaurants in Europe, whether that's true or not I can't say, but there were indeed quite a few.
There was some nice shopping to be done (not just touristy tack).
You can work off your lunch with a wall walk.
And if eating, shopping and culture are not your thing there's always the beach.
Stay tuned for the Mount St. Michel!
Sunday, August 3, 2014
I'm sharing a bit more with you today from our recent trip to Brittany—this time it's what to eat. Crêpes and cider are specialties of Brittany. Almost every good size French town has at least one crêperie, but it seems to me in Brittany there is one on every block. And even though I've eaten crêpes many a time before I can honestly say the very best crêpes I have ever eaten in my life were on this visit. This is the crêperie we chose in Rennes, the Crêperie Ste. Anne.
If you're having crêpes you just have to drink cider (cidre in French and another Brittany specialty). This cider is delicious and comes in two types—brut or doux. Brut is not sweet, doux is. Cider in France does contain alcohol and is sparkling not flat. It will be served to you in a bottle or a pitcher like this one and it is drunk in these types of mugs.
Here's a 'before' crêpe shot.
And here's the after, right before I dig in. Notice the different fold on the crêpe and also that it is darker in color. This crêpe is made with buckwheat flour (sarrasin in French) and is a dinner crêpe. You might see it on the menu as a galette. It is not sweet, it is savory. Common fillings are ham, eggs, potatoes, mushrooms, cheese, spinach, even seafood. Dessert crêpes are made with wheat flour, are lighter in color and are sweet. Popular fillings are chocolate, bananas, apples, Nutella and the like.
Bretagne has all sorts of cakes and pastries to temp you (Brittany is also known for its butter). This tempting corner shop is in St. Malo (more on that another day).
I bought from this shop another specialty, the sinfully delicious cake called Kouign Amann. WARNING—these things are addictive and are pure butter. Consume at your own risk.