Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Scrapbooking Article: Stretched Canvas Family Tree

Scrapbooking Article: Stretched Canvas Family Tree

Stretched Canvas Family Tree
Submitted by: Kels
Article Courtesy of Scrapjazz.com: by Andrea Steed

As a self-proclaimed "artist," I don't tend to buy pictures and paintings to hang on the walls of my home just because they match my decor. I like them to have a special meaning or be something I created myself. As I was contemplating what to put on the walls of my family room, I thought how nice it would be to have a visual representation of our family and genealogy. I thought I'd try making this stretched canvas family tree. It's a mixed media project that is easy to make and enjoy, even as you continue to add information to your family tree. Here's how it's made:




  1. Begin by priming the canvas with gesso. This will help the paint "stick" better to the canvas as you create your design. I chose to use a spray version of the gesso, but you can also buy a version that you apply with a paintbrush.

  2. Once the gesso primer has dried, you can apply the background colors of your design. Since my project is a family tree, I chose a green bottom and blue top to represent grass and sky. I wanted a more faded coloring for the background, so I used a little bit of water on my brush to water down the acrylic paint. The water helps create a wash effect, instead of an opaque solid background. I used a 1" brush and worked in long horizontal strokes. I also painted the sides of the canvas in the same pattern since they will be visible when hung on the wall.

  3. Next, it was time to design the tree trunk and branches. I used two pieces of brown 12" x 12" cardstock to create the halves of the tree. First, I drew one side on the back of one piece of the brown cardstock, making sure to leave plenty of space between the branches for the leaves and being sure to create enough branches to fit my full family tree. When I was happy with the design, I used a craft knife to follow my pencil marks and cut out the tree. To create the other half, I traced the first half onto the back of the other sheet of paper to make a mirror image and then cut it out as well.


  4. Next, I cut leaves using a QuicKutz die-cutting machine. I cut enough for each person in my family tree. Since this particular leaf design faces one way, I made sure to cut half with the top of the cardstock facing up and the other half with the cardstock facing down so that I would have both the original leaf image as well as its mirror image to use throughout the tree.

  5. To add depth and definition to the entire design, I used chalk to highlight and shadow the tree trunk and leaves. Let the chalk "set" a while (an hour or two) before moving on to the next step. This will help prevent smearing or removing chalk when you cover it with the glue.


  6. Using a foam brush and Mod Podge glue, adhere the tree trunk to the canvas. Be sure to coat the entire tree with the adhesive before placing it on the canvas to avoid bubbling. I found that starting at the bottom, applying glue directly to the canvas a little bit at a time as I pressed the tree trunk down worked best. Once the entire tree trunk is adhered, coat the top of the entire project with a layer of Mod Podge and let it dry.


  7. 5_23Once the glue is dry, lay the leaves out on the project as they will appear in the final product. Then, one at a time, put a layer of Mod Podge on the canvas underneath the leaf, lay down the leaf, and cover it with another layer of Mod Podge. Continue this process until all the leaves are adhered. Then, let the glue dry completely.

  8. Add a chipboard monogram to the center of the tree trunk to represent your family name. I used a self-adhesive chipboard sticker, but you could also use Mod Podge to adhere a die-cut or other alphabet embellishment.

  9. To represent my children, instead of leaves I decided to use pink and blue brads set at the base of the tree trunk. That way, I can add to the project at any time by simply cutting a small hole and inserting a brad.


  10. 7_10Finally, you can begin writing in your family members' names, birthdates and dates of death. I used a Sakura Pigma Micron 02 pen and wrote the names along the outer edges of each leaf and dates directly on the leaves.


The beauty of this project is that names and dates can continue to be added as I learn more about our family history and genealogy. But in the meantime, we can enjoy this art piece of family history on our living room wall.

Publish Post

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A little R&R

I know I'm not the greatest at writing but it's something I've always wanted to try.  Here's a little something.   

The day has finally arrived for Julia after five long months of waiting for Alex to come home.  She was so nervous she barely slept.  This is to be their first meeting.  Julia met him online on Christmas Day.  They exchanged pictures and neither one was disappointed.  She loves men in uniform, his is Army.  They talked online whenever they could between the missions he went on and her job.  They were even lucky enough to talk on the phone a few times.  She was so excited, she needed to do something to relax.  "I think I'll take a bath to relax me," Julia thought.  She fills the tub with hot water and Japanese Cherry Blossom bubble bath.  She lights the candles that surrounds the tub and put some country love songs on.  She slips out of her robe after testing the water with her foot.  She sinks into the bubbles and takes a deep breath and thinks, this will do the trick.  The phone rings startling her out of her relaxed state.  "Good morning, beautiful," Alex greets her.  "You startled me, Alex.  I was relaxing in the tub."  "Mmm," he responds, "I'll be there in one hour to pick you up."  "I can't wait," she responds, trying not to sound too excited.  She gets out of the tub, dries off and goes to her room to get dressed.  She slips on a black bra, black boy shorts, boot cut jeans, and a pink cami top.  She braids her long blonde hair and puts on her makeup.  Julia goes down to the kitchen and pours herself a glass of sweet tea.  She puts her sandals on, takes her tea outside and sits on the porch swing to wait for Alex.

Ten minutes later Alex pulls up in his pickup truck with his 4wheeler in the bed of it.  He whistles at her, "you're even more beautiful in person."  She blushes, "you're not bad looking yourself," and chuckles.  She gives him a big hug, "let me put the glass inside and then I'm ready to go."  She could sense that he was watching her walk towards the house so she turns around slightly and gives him a wink and a smile.  She returns a minute later, "I'm ready to go."  Alex is already waiting for her in the truck, she slides in next to him and places her hand on his leg.  He drives to the mountain, parks the truck and unloads the 4wheeler.  He asks Julia to get the backpack from the backseat.  She gets it, puts it on and gets on the 4wheeler behind Alex.  He looks back at her, "hold on tight."  She smiles and wraps her arms around his waist.  They take off up the mountain splashing through the mud, taking in the sites.  After about 30 minutes of riding, Alex turns off to the left and drives to a clearing.  A few yards away there is a small waterfall that dumps into a creek.  Alex climbs off the 4wheeler followed by Julia.  He takes the blanket off the rack and lays it out on the grass.  Julia unpacks the picnic: Italian subs, oil and vinegar, chips and sweet tea.  "I didn't get onions on the subs," Alex informs Julia.  "Good, I don't want onion breath," she replies.  They sit on the blanket, eat lunch, and listen to the sounds of nature.  After they finish eating, Alex leans close to Julia and gives her a soft kiss, "I've been waiting 5 months to kiss those lips." Julia kisses Alex again, "as have I."  Alex wanted to continue kissing her but decided to wait.  He knew she wants to to take things slow and he respects that.  "Let's continue our ride," Alex says as he gets back on the 4wheeler.  Julia ties the blanket and backpack to the rack and hops on behind Alex, "let's ride."  They continue on for three hours, stopping here and there to take pictures.  Finally they arrive back at the truck and Alex loads the 4wheeler into the bed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Herbs for Love and Opening the Heart

Herbs for Love and Opening the Heart

Herbs are not just for “healing”, they have been used as aphrodisiacs and in love potions since time began. Here are some ideas to help make your Valentine’s Day special (beyond Roses) with herbs that are easy to find.

Lavender – Lavender is associated with the heart chakra, is calming and soothing, and can heal emotional pain. The scent of lavender has been used to attract men for generations; a study done by a research foundation in Chicago found that the combined scent of lavender and pumpkin was the most arousing of all the scents to male subjects. In days of old, women would put lavender under their mattress to ensure passion in their marital bed.

Apples – Are associated with the goddess Venus, and therefore love. Apples increase sexual energy and enhance fertility. Share an apple with the one you love – cut one in half and enjoy together! Make an apple pie and pour love for your mate into the creation; carve a heart in the top crust for the vent and when cooled, enjoy together!

Cinnamon sticks – These stimulate and excite the passions of men. A cup of cinnamon tea with honey will warm and lift your spirits, dispel feelings of loneliness, and relieve (or prevent) gas and bloating. For sweet smelling breath – boil 2 cups of water and pour over 2 broken cinnamon sticks. Let steep for a few minutes and when cool, swish around in your mouth.

Rosemary – Represents love and faithfulness. Many cultures have used this herb as an aphrodisiac and to keep love strong. In days of yore, women carried Rosemary for their bridal bouquet in lieu of flowers!

Ginger – A spicy and “hot” herb. The root is warming to the body and promotes internal secretions, has been used to arouse a reluctant lover, and warm up a “cold” woman. How about a soothing foot bath with ginger tea as the soaking water?

Gardenia – The “happiness herb”. The flower will attract love in your life, and the fragrance is very calming to the heart.

Parsley – Has a long folk history of increasing the female libido, will sweeten your breath and help with digestion.

Anise (Pimpinella anisum) – Helps with digestion, relieves belching and/or bloating and sweetens the breath. Chew a few seeds after dinner, but beware: writers of old say that Anise “stirreth up bodily lust”!

Chocolate – Chocolate boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, relieving pain and boosting your mood. In a chocolate/sex study, urologists from Milan's San Raffaele hospital questioned 163 women about their consumption of chocolate and their sexual fulfillment. "Women who have a daily intake of chocolate showed higher levels of desire than women who did not have this habit," the study found. "Chocolate can have a positive physiological impact on a woman's sexuality."

Strawberry – The “perfect little red heart”. Part of the Rose family. In ancient Rome, strawberries symbolized the goddess Venus. Strawberries hold the energy of love, and when combined with chocolate, increase the energy of the person consuming them!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why can't I hibernate?

There are a lot of animals that do, so why can't I? 

I struggle through the winter with the blahs and I guess February is the worst.  I go through the motions at work Monday - Friday. Weekends are uneventful, somewhat cause of my location but most likely because I don't have the energy to do anything.  I do manage to do some of my crafts. I just started taking belly dance classes but bailed out last night. I just need to go to them, it's something I enjoy and want to do.  Is it spring time yet?  When spring does arrive I feel so alive: I drive with the windows down and music going on the radio. I dance around in my seat.  Music now just doesn't have the same impact. 

My dear sis*star gave me the bet words of wisdom: It is only temporary and we must have the yin and yang so we appreciate and not take things for granted.  I need to remember this and maybe it will help get me through.

Romantic Candy Dish

I'm going to try this! I think it's very cute!!!

Romantic Candy Dish

By Recycled Crafts Contributor, Anitra from the blog “Coffee Pot People”.

Valentine’s Day is nearly here, heralded by everything frou-frou and sweet. Let’s play on that and create a romantic candy dish!

You won’t need much to make one:

  • an old martini or wine goblet
  • sheet music (Old piano books are good for this.)
  • bits of ribbon and trim
  • a piece or two of old jewelry
  • a tiny silk flower or two
  • decoupage medium, or other glue that dries clear

Prepare the martini glass by cleaning it to remove any grease or fingerprints. Cut your sheet music into small pieces, looking for titles that strike a romantic note. (I found one that said ‘Prankish’, and another with the sub-title, ‘Not too fast, and even-tempered’.)

Use the decoupage medium or glue to layer the music all over the outside of the martini glass’ bowl, overlapping to cover it entirely. Don’t worry if you have pieces and corners extending over the edge, because…

When the music paper is dry, trim close to the edge.

Trim the upper and lower edges with pretty braid or ribbon. At the top of the stem, tie a bow with narrow ribbon, and glue a tiny flower or two to the knot.

Where the ends of your braid come together on the top edge, glue bits of old jewely to decorate.

Fill with candy, and enjoy!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Almost Heaven

Sometimes I need to remind myself why I love the country and this is one of them.  It definitely has it's ups and downs.  I have moved from the big city (well pretty close to it) almost six years ago to the sticks.  I don't think you can get any more country than the mountains of WV. The first year was the hardest, talk about culture shock! I used to live close to everything: malls, restaurants, movie theaters, etc.  I guess in some ways you can say I took it for granted.  I've always loved the country: the forests, the rivers and lakes, the thousands of stars but didn't really expect to end up in WV. My first two and a half years I spent a lot of my time fishing and camping and slowly fell in love with this little piece of heaven.  I loved the slower pace and virtually no traffic.  Then all of a sudden my life got turned upside down and I left one part of the state for another but I was happy to be able to stay. 

Once again I had a little bit of trouble adjusting not so much to the country life but to a different atmosphere.  I lucked out when I first moved to WV and landed a job within a week.  This time I was unemployed for six months.  I have no one to blame but myself for not securing a job before the move.  I learned to shoot bow and ended up buying to of them. I haven't fished as much as I would like, in fact, hardly at all.  In both towns I was/am practically in the middle of nowhere.  At times, it's the greatest thing but others it's a little bit boring, okay a lot boring.  The closest cities to me now are about an hour and a half away and those are not that big.  There is a place not too far from me where there are small waterfalls that I go to find solitude and meditate.  The falls remind me of why I love the country; the peace, serenity and beauty of it.

I call WV home and whenever I did go to my home state, NJ, I couldn't wait to return home to the country roads.  Now I'm at the crossroads of my life and I'm not sure where it will take me.  It's time to move on from this area but I'm not sure if I will stay here in WV or move to another state.  The decision is no longer just mine to make.  I'm sure I can find some beautiful country somewhere.