Friday, March 30, 2012


Things at work have been a little nuts this month. It's hiring season and training season, so we've been very busy with new staff. I'm excited - they have a lot of energy and I know will be a great addition to the team. We're also a day away from opening a huge exhibit - Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition. It's an amazing exhibit and I really can't wait for guests to see it starting tomorrow. This week has been full of last minute preparations and training, etc so I have practically been living in the space for the past week. Getting home late, I haven't had the energy to spend much time at my table so I've focused on another project this week.

I have been making a quilt for a family friend. It's a t-shirt quilt, in honor of their daughter who passed away unexpectedly. I used her shirts to create a simple block quilt, and now am in the process of quilting it. I decided to quilt by hand; not only do I like the look of hand quilting, but I really wanted to put my love into it. She was such an amazing young woman who was taken far too soon and I have known her since the day she came home from the hospital. In moments like that it feels like there is so little you can do for the family, but if this little contribution helps even a little I am happy.

The quilt is pretty large...30 blocks that are 12" square (running 5 blocks across, 6 down). I'm leaving the center of the block plain and quilting around the perimeter with navy thread. I watched a lot of videos and did some reading on hand quilting before I began, but even so I'm pretty slow. I haven't quite found my groove to be able put more than one stitch at a time on my needle, but its getting there. I haven't poked myself with the needle yet anyway! :) I probably should use a thimble, but mine has gone missing and so far I really haven't needed it. (Watch, now I've jinxed myself!)

Jewel has been very "helpful" as I sit and a flash she will jump on my lap and settle in for a cuddle...she doesn't understand that this blanket isn't an invitation for her. :) How she hasn't landed on the needle mid-stitch yet I have no idea!

I'll be back in a couple days with a couple of new paper projects...they are there, in pieces on my desk, waiting for me to have a chance to sit down and finish them up. Maybe if I have a little time I'll even post again later today, but no promises this moment. Somewhere I still need to fit in time to vacuum! lol

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hubby's birthday at the Cadieux Cafe

I wanted to share a few photos from hubby's birthday. A big group of friends gathered together to celebrate at the Cadieux Cafe in Detroit. It's a family owned Belgian bar and is so much fun! A couple years ago it was even featured on The Travel Channels "Anthony Bordains No Reservations". By the way, if you're ever in the vicinity of, we have some really good restaurants in the area!

We started with dinner, including their specialty - steamed mussels! Oh my, these are aMAZing! Ours were served in a lemon flavored broth, but we also sampled friends garlic flavored bowl. You really can't go wrong either way.

I enjoyed a bottle of Frambois Lambic beer with my dinner. If you have never had Frambois, you don't know what you are missing. It's a sweet, raspberry flavored beer; dark red with a bright pink foam head. Delish, and perfect on a hot summer day. You can also find peach and cherry Lambic, but hands down my favorite is Frambois.

After we listened to some great music and stuffed ourselves fit to burst (and then packed the rest of the mussels to take home) we headed to the side room for the highlight of the evening - a couple hours of Feather Bowling. That's right, Feather Bowling.

It's like Bocci ball, curling, bowling all in one. At each end of the curved clay lanes is a pigeon feather, right in the ground. Then you take wooden "balls" which really look like stones used in Curling, and roll them down the lane. The goal is to get as many of your teams balls on or near the feather as possible. The other team does the same and you try to knock each others balls out of the way as you go.

They might not be asking me to join a league anytime soon, but I held my own enough to help our team stay undefeated for the night! :)

The Cadieux Cafe is the only place in America with a Feather Bowling league. It's really popular, so you have to reserve a lane weeks, even months ahead.

We had such a blast! I just wish it was closer to our house, so we could go more often! Happy birthday to my hubby! :)

By the way, sorry for the dark and blurry photos...I really need to get better at indoor pictures without a flash. Practise, practise, practise!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A visit to the art museum

Last week, my daughter was supposed to visit the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum with her preschool class. Unfortunately she woke up that morning vomiting. We spent the morning resting and then felt fine, but I thought it was best to keep her home, just in case. After all, it's a much shorter distance to a bathroom at home than in a museum! :) She was so disappointed though. I told her that if  she was well the next day we could go to a museum of her choosing. After a lot of thinking, she decided that we should go to the Detroit Institute of Arts. We don't get to go very often, but it has such an amazing collection. So on Friday, off we went!

She was in charge of the map and led the way through the museum.

Here are a few of Abby's favorites:

And a quick pause while she was exploring the gallery that holds the suits of armor. The archway behind her holds the Detroit Industry mural by Diego Rivera, which was preparing for a special event so we didn't go in this time.

And one of my favorite paintings. It's called Winter in Moonlight, by Ernst Kirchner, a German Expressionist painter. The art of the German Expressionists were considered to be degenerate by the Nazis and many were lost and destroyed.

Abby was fascinated by this piece, which was right by the elevator we were trying to use to get to the 3rd floor. Eventually we figured out that that particular elevator doesn't get to the third floor public spaces, only staff offices. Oops!

We both liked the wooden motorcycle:

And this piece was fun to talk to Abby about.

After we explored for a couple of hours, we headed home. We'll have to go back soon and explore some more. My mother helped to develop a strong love for museums in me as a child, which eventually led me to study Art History and Museum Studies and work in a museum. I don't expect Abby to follow my footsteps, but I hope that I can teach my children to love history and art and appreciate the beauty that can be found in museums and the world around them.

Some of my tips on visiting museums with children:

Let them be in charge of the map.
I think that one of the reasons kids develop an aversion to museums is that adults are always in charge of the visit. If we let them take the lead, it allows them to explore at their own pace and discover how amazing museums can be.

Ask questions.
What is happening in the picture/sculpture, etc? What is the story about? What colors/shapes did the artist use? Even if they are completely off the mark according to the label, does it really matter? With young children, I don't think it does. They have an incredible imagination - let them use it! Don't talk down to them, they hate that. And if you don't know something, don't make something up so you sound smarter than them. Take advantage of the labels and more importantly, the museum staff. They are there to help!

Listen to them.
There is a saying we we tell our museum staff. "You were born with 2 ears and 1 mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we speak". Listen to what your kids are saying and you will be amazed at what you hear. Kids are really smart!

Don't criticize.
Keep an open mind with kids. Don't make comments about what they know or don't know, what they like or don't like. Why is their opinion and insight less valid than yours?

Don't be afraid.
That may sound strange, but hear me out. Many adults are afraid of museums. They can be big, with grand architecture. People tend to be quiet in museums or speak in hushed tones about things like artist intentions, proportion, use of light, blah, blah, blah. It can feel intimidating if you don't "know anything about art". Remember that the point of a museum is to learn. Labels can help, but don't rely soley on them. Honestly, some are very badly written and are in a formal, academic format. Trust your own instincts. You aren't a bad person if you aren't blown away by the Monet on the wall. Find what you like and go with it! Don't panic if your child wants to see a piece of art up close. Lift them up, study it closer together. Then step back and look at it from a distance. Does it look different now? Don't be afraid to talk. Be respectful of the others in the museum and don't allow children to shout at the top of their lungs, but there is no need to hush them to a whisper.

I don't mean tag. But give them clues and have them find the art you are talking about it. Talk about color, imagine what kind of food might have been served on the plates, name the dog in the painting, etc. Have fun!

Go at their pace.
Don't expect to see everything at the museum. When you get your map, look over it together. Show them the different areas and talk about where to start. But remember, that most kids won't understand what 18th Century European Art means, and I think we can generally agree that a title like that sounds rather stuffy, right? Try to give examples of what they might find in the galleries. A good map will include a couple of images so you can show them what they might see, but don't worry if kids just want to start exploring without a plan.
Don't expect to spend all day in a museum. Kids will get overwhelmed, tired, and hungry. Don't plan a visit when they would normally be getting ready for a nap. When they are ready to go, don't force them to stay. That's when museums stop being fun, for everyone. I usually have a couple of hours before the kids are done. At that point they either need a break (step outside or have a snack in the restaurant) or we head home.

Be respectful.
A museum isn't a playground. It isn't your home. Remember that the collection in a museum is there because its important. It needs to be there for the next person to enjoy. If you can't take pictures, be an adult, respect the rules and don't try to sneak a picture. Set a good example and follow the rules at the museum - they are there to protect the collections so everyone can enjoy them. Teach your children to be respectful of the rules and the other patrons of the museum.

 Follow up.
If the museum allows photographs, great! Those will be great memories for the kids to look at later. Does the museum allow sketching? If it does, bring a little notebook and a pencil and let them draw what they see in the museum. You'll be amazed at what they draw and their skills at it. Don't bring pens, markers or crayons. Remember that one of the main purposes of a museum is as a steward of the collection. Pens, markers, and crayons can leave permanent marks. Not that your child will draw on the art itself, but marks could be left on the floors, benches or walls. Accidents can happen!
After your visit, look up art online. Many museums have created digital collections so you can view the art at home. Maybe your child fell in love with the Egyptian art at the museum. Look up other Egyptian art online, and talk about the culture, pharoahs, and other bits that will interest them. Art connects the dots in history - people, events, food, fashion, etc. Google Art Project is a great site to check out - it allows you to explore 17 museums from around the world in a Google Streetview type of format - very cool!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Prismacolor chart

Hi everyone!
Things have been a little crazy on the homefront and workfront lately so I haven't had a lot of spare time to work on cards. At night I've been doing a bit of quilting on a t-shirt quilt while I've been catching up on shows on the dvr. By the way, hubby and I have been faithfully watching "The Biggest Loser" this season. We've never watched it before, but Buddy, one of the contestants, is a family member! We've been cheering him on each week and it's amazing how much he has accomplished in the time he has been on the show. We're so proud of him - go Buddy!!!

Anyway, I wanted to share a little something that I have been working on. Nancy (a very sweet woman I've exchanged comments with via YouTube) sent me a couple of links to some Prismacolor-related sites and I've really enjoyed the info I've been finding there. One of the links sent me to a blank Prismacolor chart provided by Dana's Inspirations, which is just what I needed as I learn more about the pencils and shading, especially skin tones. I printed the chart out on Hammermill Digital Color Copy 80lb cardstock and went to work. Here is a picture of the coloring in progress:

I really love this chart already, because it's been challenging to guess at the shade when the pencils are in the box. It basically functions the same as a Copic color chart, but I took inspiration from Dana's example and colored it from light to dark so I could see how the color changes. Very helpful! If you would like to check out the color chart as well as the other great tips and ideas from Dana, go here. I have the 120-count box of pencils and the completed chart includes basically everything through the last set of colors on the bottom right corner. Those are the colors released in 2006, and there are a few that I may buy individually down the road. But for now, the set I have has been great for my needs.

Ok, I'm off to enjoy a bit of this ridiculously beautiful day. I can't believe that it's about 80 degrees in Michigan, in March! I'm not convinced that winter is gone for good, but for now I'm going to enjoy every bit of this weather while we have it! I hope the start of spring has been as lovely where you are, or that it's coming soon!

And thanks again Nancy, for sharing the links - they were a big help! :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beware the Ides of March... the saying goes.

Earlier this evening, southeast Michigan was hit by a pretty big storm, which produced some tornadoes. Tornadoes aren't uncommon here in Michigan, we all grow up having tornado drills in school, knowing which parts of our homes are safest, etc. But I think this storm caught attention because it's still a bit early in the year for tornadoes. Tornado season doesn't officially start until April. But today, we were reminded that Mother Nature follows her own schedule, her own rules. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, with such a mild winter, spring was bound to come early.

This little clip shows the damage that one neighborhood had in Dexter earlier this evening, which is a little more than 30 miles west of my town. I've heard that it was hit by an EF2 tornado, which typically had winds of 111-135 mph.

Right now, it sounds like there were no serious injuries or deaths due to the tornadoes, thank goodness! The worst part of the storm ended up heading south of my town, which was lucky for us, but there was some damage to other areas when the storm passed through. At least 6 other confirmed funnel clouds, some with touchdowns, as the storm headed through Monroe county to the southeast of us. We've ended up with a pretty long thunderstorm - in fact it's still thundering and lightning after 4 hours. But it could definitely have been worse.

My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the storm. I hope the damage is repaired as soon as possible. Be safe.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thinking of You card (Chickadees)

I traded my Copics for my Prismacolor pencils for this card. I started with a beautiful chickadee stamp from Sparkle & Sprinkle. I showed the various stamps, glitters and embossing powders that I purchased from them in this video. It was stamped with Memento Tuxedo Black ink on Naturals White cardstock from Stampin Up.

Once I got it colored I used a sketch from Splitcoast Stampers as the inspiration of my layout. The sentiment is also from Sparkle N Sprinkle, and I used a Nestibilities die to cut out the circle. Here's the finished project!


Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed the card! :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bun In The Oven card!

I haven't played with my Lawn Fawn sets in a while, but this set was calling my name today. It's called "Plus One" and is so cute! And no, I'm not expecting! But there will be a new baby cousin for my kids to play with this summer! How exciting!

So here we are:

And here is the inside of the card:

Copics used:
BG10, BG11, R81, R83, C1, E13, E15
After I colored the oven with my Copics, I added a layer of Glossy Accents to the front to mimic the glass door of a real oven. Unfortunately it doesn't really show up in this picture, but the effect is very cute in person. First I ran my base card through my BigShot for a dotted background. I then used a bit of plaid scrap from the Olivia 6x6 paper collection and a scrap of baby themed paper that's ages old. I think it's from Hot Off the Press. A button from my collection and a bit of bakers twine and the card was finished. I'm thinking about trimming a bit of the plaid off the front of the just seems a little bit out of proportion now that it's all put together. What do you think?
The card sketch is #354 from Splitcoast Stampers. Stop by and join the fun! :)

And here was my desk companion this morning...Jewel spent quite a while sitting under my desk lamp getting nice and toasty! :)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Kitties go to the vet

Jewel and Noodle had to go for checkup this week. Always a big to-do, since they do not like being in the car. But, we eventually got them tucked into their car carriers and into the car. The whole ride was filled with very pitiful meowing, which entertained the kids to no end! :)
Once we got into the exam room, Noodle came right out of her carrier and started to explore and made herself right at home.

Jewel, however, did not. She was so freaked out that the only way I was able to get her out of her carrier was to try tounceremoniously tip the carrier till she slid out. But somehow she clung to the sides so we finally got her out by taking the carrier apart! Then I put her on the exam table, and she tucked herself into her meatloaf pose and refused to budge from the scale. Poor Jewel!

They had their shots and were given a clean bill of health. Hurray! Then back into their carriers and a long meow-filled ride home! Thankfully I don't have cats that hold grudges for long, so after a few looks of disdain for the afternoons adventure, the lure of a lap and a warm blanket was too much to resist. :)