Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Thoughts

This is certainly going to be a very different Christmas this year for the family and myself.  How do you celebrate a holiday like this without someone so very special to you?  Do you say "Bah Humbug!" or become a "grinch"?  I still think it's best to take each day at a time. Do what I feel I need to do. Never forget how that special person would react or enjoy the moment.

The house is decorated, outside and in.  Cookies were baked, but this year without someone coming in and sneaking samples.  It's amazing how something that would make me crazy is missed so much.  Many cards have arrived again but this year they were not  sent.  I find it difficult to find the right sentiment to send this year.  After much back and forth, we will gather here at home today.  It will not be a full house this year - Kevin, Ali and girls, Amy, Joe and kids, Matthew, Andrea and I will spend the day with each other.  It will be day when we must all come together and maybe cry and probably laugh and mostly remember a very special man and the meaning of this season - LOVE.

Let it be Christmas everywhere!  Peace to all this Christmas and Love!
(Take the time to listen to this song by Alan Jackson - simple, sweet and meaningful.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Season in Chicago

The holiday season has been a busy one for me this year.  My family has made sure that I am not alone much and having fun. It began with a day with the two little ones having Santa and Mrs. Claus visit them at home.  It was a wonderful moment to share with them.

A couple of weeks ago we took a trip into the city to make a visit to the annual Chriskindalmarket that is held every year in Daley Plaza in Chicago.  After a frigid couple of days the crowds came out in droves to enjoy the city.  Next year hopefully we will go again at a time a little less crowded.  There's nothing like the German potato pancakes or a cup of hot mulled wine!  After tackling the crowds we wandered over to State Street to stop by to see the big tree in the Walnut Room.  It sure was big and glitzy, but it's not the same since Marshall Field's was sold to Macy's.

Another outing took me to the Mercury Theater to see a performance of the musical "The Christmas Schooner".  What a wonderful story, both bittersweet and heartwarming, to inspire the Christmas spirit.  The performance was even more meaningful with having someone you happen to personally know as a cast member.

Wednesday night I was part of a group that again traveled into the city once more.  This trip took us to the Music Box Theater to see "It's a Wonderful Life" on the "big screen".  You would really have to be a "Scrooge" not to enjoy this experience.  Seeing the movie in this setting was truly amazing.  The audience got into it in a big way.  Every time Mr. Potter appeared on the screen everyone would "hiss".  When Mary and George get married, rice is thrown. When little Tommy is dressing his dad's head with tinsel, you could find someone placing tinsel on heads.  The story is just so sweet and never gets old and is so meaningful.

The holidays will surely be different and difficult this year, but I feel there is someone special watching and seeing that we are continuing with celebrating the season like we usually do.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Good Things Come In Small Packages

Been busy with many different things lately.  My family has been keeping me on the go and occupied.  I'm having a difficult time keeping my schedule in order.
This past Saturday I shared a very enjoyable experience with our two youngest grandchildren.  Santa & Mrs. Claus made a special visit to their house to see them and a few other friends.  Mrs. Claus read two stories for us with the help of Tess.  We sang some Christmas songs before each child got to talk with Santa.  The looks on their faces was truly priceless.  The innocence of children is just so sweet to see.

Last week I spent two days baking some Christmas cookies.  Because of recent situations and schedules, we had to forgo the "baking marathon" we had been doing the past few years.  Hopefully we will return to enjoy the craziness of that next year.
The baking brought me to the reason for this post today.  As I have said in the past - I love Sizzix stuff. To give a sample of my baking to friends, I wanted something handmade to pack them in. Using a recent purchased die, Bigz™ Box #3, I will be making my own gift boxes.  This box holds one and a half dozen cookies.  
I lined the box with a decorative tissue paper that had the edges cut with pinking scissors.  After filling with the cookies, mittens (Original Mittens-38-0240) hold close the tissue.

A wide, gold mesh ribbon was cut to fit around the box and secured with double-faced tape.  A small scraps of light green burlap was brushed with Tim Holtz Forest Moss Distress Stain before die cutting with Holly & Berries #2.  The holly leaves were then glued on a medium size oval die-cut (Ovals #3).  Berries were die cut from a scrap of red painted metal, then glued to the center of the leaves.  A small scrap of glossy cardstock was embossed, using the verse from the Winter Set by Rachael Bright.  The raised lettering was carefully wiped over with Ranger Ice Stickles, using my finger, then put in place using a glue dot.
What a sweet way to give a very "sweet" and completely handmade gift this season.

Back to the Big Shot!

PS - Happy Birthday to my brother Jim today!  Also all the other December birthdays in the family - Bill, Rachel, Amy M., Mary Kate, Rosalia, Alexandra, Colleen, Mary & myself. 

NOTE:  Please check out the "Sock Monkey" challenge on the Designer Craft Connection Blog Hop.  Start with this link and hop on through the others to seeing some creative "monkeying around".  There is another give away this month.  So many clever ideas again from the group that participated this month.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Special Day

Madeline & Michael Arendt Bridal Party 11/21/70
A bittersweet day - so many things going through my head today.  I want to celebrate this day that is most meaningful to me - Our Anniversary!  Forty-one years ago today Mike and I took vows to love one another ... "in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, till death we do part".  It also happens to be the date of when I had to say my final good-bye to him that morning before he was placed to rest ... just one month ago.

There had been many tears shed this past week and have a feeling there may be several more days ahead that will be the same. I'm trying to find ways to cope with the sadness, the loneliness, but mostly the loss of his physical presence.  I find when I look through photos and see Mike's smile or the looks that only I can read on his face, it brings a smile to my own face, and I get a sense of him and all the wonderful things he possessed.
Everything I see, touch, watch, hear or think seems to all relate back to Mike or to our life together.  I had hoped that we would have had the chance to make more memories together but we must be satisfied with those we have from all our years together.  (Mike and I met in 1965, while we were in high school. - he a Senior at St. Patrick's and myself a Junior at Alvernia.) Others have not been as fortunate as us, so I will be grateful for our time.
Just love those "crossed-eyes"
I have wanted to write a post about this special day, even though Mike had to leave us,  and wanted to make it meaningful yet not sad.

Listening to songs that speak of what we shared are difficult. So many songs spoke my mix of feelings, but I wanted to try to be uplifting and smile about all our years together.  So Sweetheart, with every heartbeat,  this one is for you.

I miss spending this special day with you, leaving those cards for each other, and having a "dinner date".  I know that when I need you ... and I will - there you'll be!

Always & Forever

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's Coming!

It's that time again!  Everywhere I look I'm seeing lights, greenery, red & green and lots of sparkly stuff.  I know we just finished with the spooky stuff and we are all preparing to get stuffed next week.  It always seems that the Christmas holiday is so very far away but it then it is here and gone again before we even realize.

I want to enjoy the season no matter how crazy and hectic it seems to always get.  The big basket of holiday magazines came out yesterday.  I keep a very large basket with old issues of Country Living, Living and various others at hand to browse through.  Picked up one old one this morning and already found three ideas.

There are several holiday magazine available already.  I want to share a few that I have either looked at already or purchased.  For ideas for your house take a look at Holiday with Matthew Mead.  Always one with so many details and ideas for festive decorating.

For anyone wanting handmade ideas, there are two that are worth the purchase.  Stitch Craft Create is a new one and I like it.

Cloth Paper Scissors Gifts is another worthy purchase.

For wonderful ideas for edible gifts take a peek at Better Homes & Gardens Food Gifts.

It's OK to start getting in the holiday spirit.  Pull out those holiday movies and music and start with one a night.  No need to go crazy with decorations, gifts or entertaining.  The season is about giving and you give in any way you choose or can.  Make a gift for someone you know is alone, take a plate of cookies (homemade or bought) to a neighbor who has no family around.  Giving in big or little ways are what make the season bright.
Don't be a humbug!

ADDED NOTE:  The Designer Craft Connection is doing another blog hop starting today.  I was not able to take part in this one because of timing but please take some time to click on the "blinkie" at the top right of this post and take a peek at a neat product and of course, creative ideas!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Easy Banner Decoration

This banner was made a couple of months ago but I never was able to share the idea with readers.  So much had been going on here for months that has kept me from writing and sharing posts.  I had committed to designs for a "challenge" from Westcott® Cutting Tools and a "hop" with Sizzix Fresh Vintage dies, by Eileen Hull, the past two posts.

Life happens and it took a very serious and difficult turn for me a few weeks ago.  I will try to address this situation in a few weeks.  I hope that sharing thoughts and emotions will be helpful in some manner.

BUT ... here we are into the second week of November and the "crazy season" is almost upon us!

I will quickly share an idea, were once again I turned to my Sizzix dies, to make a simple holiday banner for the mantle.  All materials used were scraps of burlap, felt, papers and fabrics that have been around for some time.

I cut the burlap into rectangles and fringed three of the edges.  Brown felt leaves were die-cut from scraps, with Original Leaf #1, Large.  A green leaf was cut from a fabric backed paper using Tim Holtz Alterations Tattered Leaves die.  Sizzilits "Twang" alphabet dies were used to spell out "AUTUMN WELCOME" from two colored papers.

Use glue of choice to layer the letters, shadowing them slightly, onto the green leaf.  Apply them to the brown felt leaf, then place each completed set onto the burlap rectangle.

Rub the edges of the burlap with Distress Stains of your color choice.  Once the stain is dry, I simply brushed on some Opal glitter glue around the edges for some sparkle. I found some glue-on acorns to add for extra embellishment.

Cut a length of jute cording to length needed.  Turn over the top edge of the burlap pieces about 1/2" and clip to hold with tiny wooden clothes pins.  Tear pieces of fabric into strips and tie on to cording in between the burlap banners.

Easy and simple but attractive holiday decoration ... easy enough that my 10 year old granddaughter, cut everything out herself to make a similar one for her house.  I'm thankful for quick projects!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sizzix Fresh Vintage Blog Hop - Flower 3D Wrapped

Welcome to another day, another die, featuring Eileen Hull's Fresh Vintage dies from Sizzix. Today's selection of Eileen Hull's Fresh Vintage Dies is Sizzix Bigz Die - Flower, 3D Wrapped.   When I received this die, I immediately had an idea of how I wanted to use it.  Sometimes you never know if your idea will pan out in the way you would like.  I like the experiment of trying and it came out pretty cool.  It is being used as a new autumn decoration in our house.
The die-cut pieces make the perfect little shade for miniature lights.   I chose to use both of the sizes for the shades, but use two different papers and two different colors.  The type of papers used were parchment paper, used for baking, and orange glassine paper. The two-tone shades on the lights looked fine, but I needed to take it a step further and add some leaves.  So what better leaves to add but those cut from Eileen's Fresh Vintage Leaves die. The leaves were cut from dark green velvet paper and fabric that was fused together with an iron fusible.  (I used Steam a Seam.)  The velvet paper leaves were embossed with a Sizzix Textured Impressions Embossing Folder.

To attach the flower shades to the lights, I began with the larger flower shape.  Use small pieces of red line tape to form the flower shape. (NOTE: I overlapped the ends by one scallop.)  Complete all before adding the smaller shape. Attach the smaller shape the same way as the larger, except, overlap the ends over two scallops.  I cut the flower cap out of green vellum, any lightweight paper can be used.  Clip the shape so it can be placed around the top.  Slightly overlap the cut edges and glue with Beacon Zip Dry glue. To add the leaves, I slipped the stems of the leaves through the wires and glued the stem to the back of the leaf with Beacon Fabric Tac glue.  Alternate the groups of the leaf die-cuts between the lights.  Hang the strand up for display or wrap the strand around a post or find another interesting area to display the light strand.
I was also sent some fun products from Epiphany Crafts. I was not familiar with these until receiving them. Some fun embellishments can be made with these products. The products I used along with Eileen's dies were the round shape tool, the scallop circle tool, the corresponding epoxy shapes, felt flowers and vintage  settings embellishments.
I combined Eileen's flower die, the Epiphany Crafts tools, one of Karen Burniston's dies and older Sizzix alphabet dies to create this three-dimensional table decoration.

To see all the other creations for the "Wrapped Flower" die, all you need to do is click forward or backward on the "Fresh Vintage" button that is located to the right of this post at the top of the right column.
You can see the previous creations by others with more of Eileen's new line by going to her blog to check them out in case you missed them. Also, go visit Oh My Crafts blog and please leave a comment for a chance to win this die.

EXTRA! EXTRA!  Visit today only (10/13/2011) and receive 25% off all Eileen Hull dies.  Promo Code is:SZEH25.  This offer excludes "Outlet" items and cannot be combined with other discounts. Check out this link to read about Eileen and the dies.

Monday, October 3, 2011

October's Designer Craft Connection Blog Hop - PINK

This month's blog hop is being officially sponsored by Westcott Brand® Cutting Tools.  As part of "breast cancer awareness" month, we received an assortment of pink Westcott cutting tools. VELCRO® Brand Fasteners and The Duck Brand® also supported this challenge by providing materials.
I love a challenge and love working with interesting materials, so what follows are ideas I came up with using all these wonderful products.  This was the first time that I have used Westcott® products and have to say they proved to be great to use for cutting.  Working with the very sticky duct tape was made extremely easy using the Westcott® Non-Stick scissors that were provided.  No sticky residue was left on the blades, unlike other brands that I have used in the past.

To see all the other ideas from many other designer participants, click forward or backward on the blue "Designer Craft Connection Blog Hop" button at the right of this post and hop through many, many creations.

Pink Tiger Stripe Bag

I realize I could have used only the Duck Tape to make this bag, but being someone who likes to recreate usable items from something I have available, here's my take!
This canvas bag was covered with the pink tiger stripe, Duck Brand® Patterned Duct Tape Roll.  Each strip of tape was butted along the edge. The tape also continues to the inside about half way down.  The handles were also covered with the tape.  A length of VELCRO® Brand Sticky Back™Fastener was cut with Westcott Brand® Titanium Bonded Non Stick Scissors, then applied along one side of the bag.  Small squares were cut to stick  just below the handles on both sides of the bag.  Lengths of 3/8" black with white ribbon was glued over the tape seam on the handles with Beacon Dazzle Tac Glue. Additional ribbon was glued near the top edge and bottom edge of the bag.  A pink metallic 3/8" ribbon was glued around the inside of the bag for a finished look.  Flower shapes were cut from black and pink felt by National Nonwoven.  The flower pieces were stitched together with a button center.  A corresponding small square of black VELCRO® was attached to the back of each flower and placed onto the bag for embellishments.

Kids On The Go

For this project I again used something reusable for part of this idea.  Cut a piece of thick, clear vinyl to the size of a placemat (17" x 12").  Place a strip of the "Hello Kitty" Limited Edition Duck Brand® Duct Tape along each edge of the vinyl piece.  I began with one of the longer edges, placing the tape about one inch onto the vinyl. Turn the placemat over and place another strip of the tape along the edge.  Line up the tape carefully to match the edges to the strip on the opposite side.  Repeat this on the other long edge and again for the two shorter sides.  Cut two pieces of clear vinyl: one measures 4" x 8", second measures 4" x 10".  Line the two vinyl pieces up, with sides and bottom matching. NOTE: the two extra inches on the back piece will form a flap for the closure.  Cut a 4" piece of VELCRO® pink plant ties.  Place the VELCRO® strip 2" down from the top front edge.  NOTE: a small rolled piece of duct tape was placed under the VELCRO strip to hold it in place. Tape one side edge together with the duct tape, start at top with a straight cut. Trim any access tape at the bottom away. Repeat for the second side.  Repeat with a shorter strip of tape for the bottom. Cover the inside of the flap with a piece of duct tape, trim.  Cut another piece of VELCRO® pink plant tie about 6" long.  Form another rolled piece of tape to hold it in place along the inner edge of the flap. NOTE: the extra inch of plant tie on each side will be held down by the top piece of duct tape.  Cover the outside of the flap with another piece of duct tape. Cut a 3" piece of the white VELCRO® Sticky Back Hoop & Loop Fastener and place onto the back top edge of the silverware holder.  Place and stick the holder at the top of the placemat near the center of the mat.  NOTE: trim tape  and cut the sticky back VELCRO® using the the Westcott Brand® Titanium Bonded Non Stick Scissors.  For the scalloped edge on the mat I used a Sizzix border die and cut a pattern from heavy paper to match the sides of the mat.  Using a fine point marker, I traced the scallop edge onto the tape then cut the pattern using the non-stick scissors by Westcott®.  For a placemat closure, cut a length of the pink plant tie long enough to wrap around the mat twice.  To hold the tie in place to the mat, I punched two smalls holes into the tape and laced ribbon through the holes and a decorative button and tied a bow.  Finished the end by sewing another smaller button near the end.

To carry along drinks, eats or treats while on the go with little kids, I reused a insulated lunch bag.  The closures on the bag were removed and the blue surface of the bag was covered with the Hello Kitty duct tape.  To give the bag a finished look, white mini rick-rack was glued around the edges.  Two small red bows were added to the front corners.  A large red button was sewn on and a loop of black cord elastic form a new closure for the bag.

Art & Craft Stuff

What can you make with "Pink" duct tape, to support breast cancer awareness,  a large piece of quilting vinyl, and the shipping box the tapes were mailed in?  I thought why not recycle the sturdy box that the tape was shipped in and make something useful for my grandkids to use when they visit.
After measuring the size of strips I would need to cover the box, I cut them one at a time with the Westcott® Non-stick scissors and covered the box.  NOTE: I opened the box to make it easier to cover with the tape.  I folded the flaps from the cover inside and taped them down.  I began the strips at the top of the box (not adding tape to the front flap). Each additional strip overlapped the previous one just slightly.  Once covered with the tape, cut a slot in the front top flap using Westcott® Hobby Knife and punch two holes into the inside front of the lower box.  Cut a length of ribbon for a handle.  Feed the ends of the ribbon through the holes and knot inside.  For closing the box, push the ribbon through the slot.  Add a strip of VELCRO® Sticky Back Fastener in white along the front flaps of the box for a closure.  NOTE:  Pieces of VELCRO® can be added to the inside top of the cover in desired to hold some supplies.  Add any type of embellishment to finish off the box.  For this project I used packaged foam letters and other designs.
For the table mat, cut a piece of clear vinyl, 30" x 18".  NOTE: Any size is fine.  Strips of the pink duct tape are placed on the two shorter sides first.  Cut the strips about two inches longer then needed (access can be trimmed away).  Lay the tape onto the edge covering the vinyl about one inch.  Turn the mat over and carefully bring the tape over the edge and press in place.  Repeat the process of covering the two longer edges with the duct tape.  Cut a length of VELCRO® pink plant ties to wrap around the rolled mat for storage.

Precious Gold 

To make this frame for a photo of my precious little granddaughter, I used four 5" x 7" photo mats that I saved from other frames.  Use a glue stick to hold the mats together before covering with the new gold Duck Brand® Duct Tape.  Cut a back for the frame from foamcore board, 1/2" larger on both sides then the mats ( 7 1/2" x 5 1/2"). Cover the mats with the duct tape, starting with the 7" sides.  Cut the strips of tape about 2" longer (9").  Cut at the corners and bring tape around the center opening and outside edge  to cover the edges.  Press the extra tape onto the back of the mat.  Repeat with the shorter sides.  Cover the foamcore board back with the duct tape.  Start the tape at the center of the back piece that will be the inside of the frame.  (The photo will cover the area where the tape will meet.)
To hold the pieces together, cut three lengths of VELCRO® Sticky Back Fastener.  One will be 5", one 6 1/2".  Use the  Westcott® Non-Stick Scissors to cut the VELCRO® strips in half.  Apply the 5" piece to one side of the frame only (the other 5" side will become the opening to insert the photo).  Apply the two longer pieces to the mat.  Once applied to the back side of the mat piece, remove the backing plastic and position the frame onto the foamcore piece.  Form a stand from a scrap of matboard, cover it with the duct tape,  cut a piece of VELCRO® to hold the stand onto the frame.

To make the flowers and the leaves, I added taped two pieces of the gold tape together.  I made several strips.  I made patterns of flowers and leaves using my Sizzix dies.  Trace the patterns onto the duct tape and cut the shapes out using the Westcott® Non-Stick Scissors.  Use Ranger® Alcohol Inks to color the flowers and leaves.  Sew on a button for the flower centers.  Cut small strips of VELCRO to place on the back of the flower/leaf clusters, then place on the frame.

I must say this challenge was fun.  I want to thank Marisa Pawelko for organizing this challenge and giving me the opportunity to work with great products.
Actual prize assortment may vary slightly
There is a product giveaway from Westcott®Brands, view the above photo.  To be eligible to win you must comment on the Designer Craft Connection Blog Hop at before November 1st.  Westcott will choose and then annouce the giveaway winner on November 1, 2011.  Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address.  Also take time to check out Westcott's Facebook page for an additional chance to win.

Westcott has teamed up with Charity for an online auction.  Designer items  made for this hop will be auctioned and the funds raised will go for breast cancer awareness.  Please go to the online auction link: "Charity Wings" here:   
The auction will be ongoing through the month of October.  Go to the link above and read about the auction and see the items available to make bid.

Link to:
Westcott® Brands on Facebook  -
Velcro ® Brand on Facebook -
Duck Brand® Tape on Facebook -

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fresh Ideas Coming Your Way

This new post is announcing another "blog hop" that is coming very soon.  Thanks to Eileen Hull, a very creative "girlfriend", who has added more wonderful designs in her line of Sizzix dies, this will again be possible.  This is really a very fun way to showcase the great products from Sizzix.
I can honestly say that the investment that I made several years ago, when I purchased my first little red Sizzix machine, was the best one I ever made.  Of course I graduated to the "Big Shot" and hope to add the "Big Shot Pro" to my workspace. 

In most of my creative work I have in some way incorporated the use of my Sizzix products in my work.  In my work area I have a cabinet dedicated to Sizzix dies and accessories and have the machines out and ready for work.  From the "Original" dies to all the newest, speciality and "Designer" dies available, they are used over and over and over.

Whether I'm working with fabrics, paper, felt, metal or other interesting medium, I love the way these tools work
Hope you will take the time to browse through all the wonderful blogs by a creative group during this latest "hop".  Eileen's new line is called "Fresh Vintage".  Check them out on the Sizzix website to see them, along with other wonderful dies that can be used in so many creative ways.  You can count on getting many ideas by taking some time to check out these blogs in the next several weeks.  

I thank Eileen for inviting me to share in this wonderfully, fun and creative opportunity!

Just a couple of my favorite ideas from previous hops:

Friday, September 16, 2011


"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace, as I have seen in one autumnal face."
-John Donne

September first to me ushers in Autumn.  This is the season I enjoy the most. Because of family health issue the Summer season came and went for me.  Honestly with the extreme weather we had this year, just like much of the country, I missed much of the hot temps, and that is OK with me.

There is a change in the air the past few days and signs that seasons are changing.  I spent a little time today bringing out some of the seasonal decorations.  I think a banner needs to be created for the fireplace mantle.  What material should I use? What should it say?  I'll share the finished project as soon as it's complete.

I came across a wonderful magazine a few weeks back while making a quick stop at the store. I'm always looking for new magazines to browse through. This is a new one to me but enjoyed all the wonderful ideas throughout the publication. The photography is wonderful and filled with decorating ideas for many styles. Autumn Cottage is one of those magazines that I will place where all can share and enjoy flipping through.

Some other favorites that will remain on the coffee table for constant viewing during the season:

 Country Sampler - love reading how others decorate with the country style and seeing so many interesting country designs.

Midwest Living - especially at this time of the year, this magazine shares many ideas for areas around us.

Martha Stewart Halloween (Special Edition) - always filled with many ideas that I can learn from and share with family.

Flea Market Style Fall/Winter 2011 -  a must have for anyone who loves to hunt for "junk".

Check them out!