Friday, October 8, 2010

The new park in the neighborhood

I pushed my husband to join our neighborhood district parks committee a number of years ago.  It's a citizens' group that makes decisions on how the money allotted to parkland in the neighborhoods will be spent with final town approval.  Brian suggested I do it  myself, but I reminded him that my ability to compromise was somewhat lacking.  (He agreed a little too quickly now that I think about it.)  He, on the other hand, has an exceptional ability to work with a group on something.  Perhaps 27 years of putting up with me has helped with that. 

The Stony Creek Parks Committee has been working on developing a large piece of land into a combined nature/play area for a few years.  It's not quite finished , but I do need to brag about the incredible park area this small group of volunteers managed to get in despite some neighbors who worked hard to block it. I wish my house bordered this area!  We are just a short walk away, though.

The park is right in the midst of suburbia, but you barely get a glimpse of the houses in the area. There are what seems like miles of looped, stone dust trails.  A lot of people are already using them for walking, jogging, and biking.

This is my lovely husband Brian and another parks committee member, Paul Bylenok, on the trails this past weekend.

 Several beautiful bridges go over streams and wetlands.
Benches are from recycled materials.

Water, webs, and all kinds of growing things are there to fascinate kids and adults.  I cannot wait for the frogs to appear next year!  Our area is filled with them.  I have a penchant for taking pictures of frogs, toads, lizards, turtles and snakes.  They are much more cooperative than mammals.

The Town of Clifton Park employees involved and, especially, the Stony Creek Parks Committee members should  be very proud of what they have accomplished.  Thank you!

Update:  I forgot to mention the Cleveland Brothers Landscaping Company from Corinth, New York that did the ground work in the park.  How could I forget them!  They not only did a terrific job, but were also always pleasant to and tolerant of those of us who just could not wait to walk through the trails. They get a well deserved thanks as well.

Art Journal Class #1 of 21

I mentioned in a previous blog that I had signed up for 21 Secrets which are lessons in art journaling.   The last time I tried an art journal was in a literature class a few years back.  The highest grade possible was a B unless you did art in your journal about the assigned books.  I knew nothing about how one did art journals and have zero natural artistic ability.  I HATED it.  I struggled to think up simple things that I could draw.  My focus was on the journal activity rather than the books.  Now, from Hanna and these other artists that are sharing their methods, I find that I could have been having a wonderful time.

I did Hanna's class first since I found out about the classes through her blog. The lessons can be done in any order.  The main focus for this one was the use of tissue paper.  You can do some amazing stuff with it such as running it through your printer--easily.  Here are my first two attempts.
It began with an idea that has been coming out in my writing journal and conversations lately--balance.  We hear that one needs to find balance, but that's not really true.  You don't find it, and then you're done.  It is a never-ending task to keep a balance between paid work, relationships, house work, outside chores, creative time, personal interests, and on and on.  That brought the phrase, "everything lies in the balance" to mind.

However, that  phrase can have completely different meanings in different contexts. It is hard to see the Carmen Miranda-ish head (does anyone else remember Carmen Miranda?) in this picture, but it is definitely an unusual take on it.  Shown without the accompanying story, it is  open to some wild  interpretations.  The quote, "To err is human, to forgive, canine, a take on the original making forgiveness divine,  is supposed to accompany the snarling wolf.    Again, context plays a key role that we too often fail to take into consideration.

The second page represents balance within.  Mixed in with what is real in our lives are a tumult of ideas of what might be.  That is a picture of Hedy Lamarr--she's even before my time!--that I copied on tissue paper.  Bust magazine had a great article on her.  It turns out that the uber-famous, sexy actress was also uber-bright and inventive.    

These are the ideas that come of writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing every day. I read a book recently that suggested this kind of writing each morning and a walk every day to expand our creativity.  Those were the only things I liked about the book, but each has turned out to be priceless advice.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Xyron Magic Sticker Machine

When got the Xyron sticker maker free at the Maker Faire,  I thought I'd use it, but didn't think it would be used all that often.  I've used it three times in less than a week on things I never imagined when I got it.

First, I was doing the  frog pattern from a previous post.  I hate it when I can't remember where the pattern came from..  You cut it out, file the pattern pieces away, and wonder where you got it from months or years later.  Yes, I could write on it, but the Lil Blue Boo blog owner who created the pieces had printed out her information on the page containing the pattern.  I'm cutting the pattern anyway--why not just cut out the info, run it through the new sticker maker, and slap it on the pattern!  So take one Xyron machine and the cut outs, and I will know where the pattern came from in order to give credit whenever I use it.

A day later I wanted a address label.  Why get out the label paper, load the printer, etc. when I can just type it out on a bit of paper--scrap paper at that--and run it through the sticker maker!

Today, I wanted to post a note on the dryer reminding my houseful of young people that they could and should CLEAN OUT THE LINT FILTER ON THE DRYER.  I wanted something more than the usual post-it.  I think this is going to have to be up for a while.  Amazingly enough, I'm finding that people in their late teens and twenties are more forgetful than preschoolers.  So, in any case, yeah, I used the Xyron.  Scribble a note on the back of a piece of scrap paper, run it through the little machine,
 and you have this.  
The sticky stuff works great.
I thought the information about clothes drying faster might capture their attention.  I find this crew of housemates are often drying something they need to wear NOW.

I love this little machine.  It's cute, takes up little space, and makes me think creatively.  I've just started my 21 Secrets Art Journal Lessons.  In the midst of the first one, I'm thinking, "I can use my Xyron to do some of this!"  I've check out the price of adhesive refills.  They are exceptionally reasonable and come in permanent and repositional strengths.  In fact, the machines are really inexpensive as well.  I'm really going to have to let the Xyron people know how much I appreciate their gift.  Their new slogan should be, "Xyron, not just for scrap-booking."

Lil Blue Boo's Blog

The frog pattern I used in my last post came from  Lil Blue Boo's blog.  It's a great little frog and so easy to do.  This creative and giving lady is now having a giveaway for a doll's dress pattern.  If you've got little people in the family, these dresses look like they will be quick and fun for dolls and also something that could be tweaked to fit other sizes and creatures.  Creatures sometimes need dresses, too.  I know this from my sock creature challenge.  Charlotte the Harlot comes to mind right now.

Check out the Lil Blue Boo blog.  This talented lady has an online pattern shop, too.  I do love shopping online--no checkout lines, delivered to your door, mailbox, or, in this case, email account, shopping at all hours in whatever grungy clothing you happen to be in at the moment...Life is good.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Use Your Crap Challenge

I have a closet (okay two) full of crafty crap and half the time, I can't remember what project I bought the stuff for in the first place.  I also spend way too much time downloading ideas and not enough seeing them through. Consequently, when I saw the Shannon Makes Stuff blog challenge to stop buying and start using up crafty crap I knew I really needed to join.    I didn't get a lot done this week but something is better than nothing, right?

So my first goal is to use up some of the flannel fabric.  Here is the "Frog in the Pond."

The little guy has a fly on his tongue.

The basic frog design is  from Lil Blue Boo's blog.  A big thanks to the Lil Blue Boo designer.  It was really easy to sew up.  Lil Blue Boo's is a bean bag, but I decided to go with stuffing on this one.  I didn't do her crown this time, although I really want to try that on the next one.  The blanket doesn't have batting, just two layers of flannel.  It's about receiving blanket size.

Another big thanks to Shannon for inspiring me to stop buying and get doing.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Pretty Poppy blog is giving away of beautiful necklace!

Stop by The Pretty Poppy to have a chance (or two or three or four) to win this lovely necklace!
 They have another one that says, "Keep Calm, Carry On."  I think most of us need that message.  How nice to have such an attractive reminder.

A special hi to Elke in Florida!  Hope you're having a great day. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The New York Maker Faire

I made it to the Maker Faire!  My husband was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a lot more "Steve Jobs" than "Martha Stewart" stuff there.  There was truly an abundance of robotics, auduino and computer controlled things, ways to recycle all kinds of stuff, and opportunities for hand-on activities.  I'm not sure why there were half hour classes on lock picking from the TOOOL people or why men seemed drawn to that one like flies to a picnic.

I stopped at the Martha Stewart craft booth since they so nicely gifted me with a ticket.
You can see a wing of the giant two-sided butterfly activity set up at their booth just poking out from my bag.  You cut it out, put a dowel through, and tie some ribbon on.  Nothing shabby here.  The paper was thick, shiny, and  vividly colored.  Martha's group was also demonstrating the Cricut for cake decorating.  My lovely husband managed to get a cupcake from them.

The Craftzine booth was giving away Xyron Magic Sticker Maker Machines. Is this not the cutest thing?  I can't wait to try it out.  I'm lucky to get  my photos into albums, but I can see using this instead of writing.  I'll be able to type out blurbs in colorful fonts and not have to worry about mistakes..   

Xyron 0301-05-00 Magic Sticker Maker
Here is a conglomeration of things I picked up throughout the day.  I have a ton of websites I want to visit, a very bright red t-shirt, and Martha's butterfly.  I had never heard of Bust Magazine before, but they were giving away several issues.  It's a great magazine despite what I think is a strange name.  I didn't pick it up at first.  Bust?  As in measurement or sculpture?? But-- Helen Mirren is on the cover?  Turns out it covers many things with well-written articles.  Thanks to Bust for some on-the-way-home reading material.
People watching was fun, too.  Some were in costume, some were not.

I am amazed by this woman's hair!  My head hurts just looking at it.  Maybe it's not as heavy as I think it is.

While there were many booths we liked, here are a couple of our favorites.

I still haven't had the patience to solve a Rubic's cube and this thing did it in 13 seconds.

On the recycling side, you've got to go to  There were so many fun recycling ideas on their table!  Even their cards were recycled cardboard with the information stamped on it.  You have to love people who walk the walk!  Last one--I promise!  Who doesn't need this book?
Brian went as a favor to me, but now says he'd like to go again.  Thanks to the Craft blog for getting us started on this venture with a free ticket.