Friday, May 24, 2013

A Day In The "Windy" City

Oh the excitement and fun of visiting the city!  Being born and raised in Chicago, I have had several opportunities to experience the many features the city has to offer visitors and citizens throughout the years.  We have the "lake front", as it is known here, with miles to explore from up north to the south, with beaches, parks, boat harbors and many activities that will keep anyone busy.  The museums, aquarium, and planetarium  are always worth a trip for visitors or residents.  The "Magnificent Mile" not only with all the wonderful places shop, but the many things to observe like the people, the buildings and the history.  Of course this is only a little smidgin of this amazing area.  You only need to walk a block from one point and you find another interesting area to explore.  It's an amazing city and I'm so glad to have grown up here.

Yesterday found me at the Art Institute with my friend Rebekah Meier.  After the train ride into the city we hopped into a taxi to take us eight blocks east to Michigan Avenue.  IF, the weather would have been better we would have walked it, hustling and rushing along like everyone else walks in the Windy City.  The morning was drizzly, a bit chilly and yes, windy.  I wanted to hop on a city bus and let Rebekah experience her very first ride on one, but we missed it and didn't want to wait.

It's been several years since my last visit to the Art Institute, as well as Rebekah's.  There have been big changes or I should say additions to this attraction.  After speaking with one of the receptionist at the front desk, we decided to start our visit there having lunch at the "Terzo Piano" restaurant in the new modern wing of the building.  What an enjoyable time.  It's a good size, open room with windows all around to view the institute campus and some of the city's skyline.  Sleek lines everywhere within fit this modern addition to this famous facade.

The lunch was excellent.  The menu is a modern Italian cuisine and chef, Tony Mantuano's philosophy is to use ingredients from local farms and farmers' markets and artisan producers who practice in a sustainable agriculture.  Reading through the choices we both chose to have a pasta dish that included handmade fettuccine that was so yellow from the eggs used. Mixed within the dish were tender, baby fiddlehead ferns, chiffonade of ramps, several cubes of pancetta in a very light, almost invisible sauce, then topped with a sunny side egg.  Delish!!!!  We glanced at the dessert menu and went for it.  Again, interesting and amazing choices.  Rebekah had what was called, Chocolate financier, with porter reduction, coffee ice cream and caramelized bananas.  My choice was Ricotta fritters with orange salad and chrysanthemum honey.  We didn't leave a speck on any of the dishes.

So after that we headed to the new modern wing with three levels to explore.  The Art Institute has been home to so many very famous art pieces.  Works by Picasso, Chagall, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Van Gogh, Matisse, Pollard, Woods, Toulouse-Letrac, Manet, Giacometti, Calder, Klee, Mondrian, Moore, Seurat, Dali, just to name a few.

You will find architectural pieces, folk art, furniture, early art from centuries ago.  Art is all around in every form and medium and it's worth a visit.  The new building now even holds the original trading room from the Chicago Stock Exchange.

To see and admire this vast collection of "art" was inspiring.  To see them and realize the time when they were created, and the passion and thoughts, each artist must have had to create and express themselves at that moment of time is thought provoking.  (At least for me.)

We took in most of the collections within the Art Institute and our legs were tired from the walking, but it was well worth it.  When in Chicago - make a visit.  Another wonderful aspect of visiting this place is it's location.  It's just next door to Millennium Park and the Pritzker Pavilion to enjoy.

So then it was time to flag down a taxi and head back to the train station for the trip back to the "burbs".
There's nothing like a taxi ride during "rush hour" in Chicago!

Next trip's plans are to the Peninsula Hotel for afternoon tea, overlooking the "Mag Mile" and somehow get that bus ride in the city!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Designer Craft Connection May - Wishes

Let's first say my biggest wish that I always have is to have "time".  I just can't figure out where the time each day goes and why I can't seem to organize my time better!

ANYWAY ... With the month of May bringing warmer weather (finally) and blooms everywhere, plus the special Sunday that we celebrate Mother's day, my project was to create something that would be appropriate for this time.

Here I created two different stick pins using Sizzix flowers dies.  The sunflower was made using one of the new thinlits™sets by Susan Tierney Cockburn.  The lavendar roses used the Sizzix Flowers, 3-D die and fabric paper.

The little green bud vase was recycled and repurposed from and old Clinique make-up bottle.  After washing it out and sanding the print off the bottle, it was painted in a mottled effect with a few layers of Tim Holtz Distress Paint and Ranger Adirondack Acrylic Paint.  The top of the bottle was covered with a small piece of woven ribbon.  Tie on a tiny Sizzlit Crescent tag with your wish.

The bud vase can be used to hold handmade flowers or any little bloom picked from your Spring garden.

So now I will send "WISHES" to all for sunshine, flowers and good things!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Blog Hop with Unity Stamps by Ann Butler

It was a surprise and a pleasure to be asked to participate in this Blog Hop.  Ann Butler is a very talented designer who works within the creative arts industry.  I met Ann several years ago in Minneapolis, at a conference for creative designers, that we were both attending for the very first time.  We have remained in contact through the years.  The desire to create, that we both share, as helped to keep us in touch.  I have met so many lovely, creative people and it's always a delight to help promote them and their endeavors.

Unity Stamp Company just launched Ann's new stamps on Thursday, May 2nd. For this "hop" Ann sent stamps from her new line called "Faux Quilting".  As you move through this hop from one designer to another, you will see the wonderful ideas each came up with.  These type of hops are always fun to participate in, not only for the chance to use some new items, but to see the clever, beautiful ideas from everyone.

There is an offer from Unity Stamps to save 50% when ordering any stamps from Ann's line, from May 2 through Monday, May 6th, till midnight CST. When ordering, use the coupon code Unity 5.

So now onto my piece using Ann's Faux Quilting stamps!

What to do with these stamps was a difficult choice.  Since I do sew, quilt and do paper crafts, the choice was not easy.  In the end I decided to "quilt" a design from paper to cover a frame.  This same technique could be used to cover almost any object.   Watercolor paper was used for the quilting pieces.
I chose 6 colors from Ranger's Adirondack Acrylic Paint line (these are paints that have a slight metallic look).  Once the paper was dry, each of the six stamp designs were stamped onto the watercolor papers, using Ranger Archival Ink in Sepia.  Each of the stamped sheets were heated slightly with a heat tool to made sure the ink was dry.

The stamped designs were then cut into the 1" squares.  Each of the squares were than cut diagonally to  made two pieces for piecing the quilt patterns.  NOTE: Each of the sets I received did have a diagonal stamp for each design that could have been used.  I chose to just cut my squares.)

***The frame was purchased at a craft store.  Sand the frame.  Wipe away any sanding dust.  A base coat of was given to the entire frame with a creamy white color.  When dry, a coat of Martha Stewart white Pearl Paint was applied.

Once a desired pattern of pieces is achieved, glue the pieces into place on the frame.  Any clear drying clue can be used.  I used Glossy Accents by Ranger to hold the pieces in place.  Finish the frame with tiny white rick-rack and buttons.  Insert photo ... and enjoy!