Monthly Archives: December 2015

Decorating Ideas for Battery Powered Candles

LED Water Lights
LED Water Lights
My part-time employer Schnarr’s Hardware sells a variety of battery powered candles. Some are even designed to be displayed in water. I enjoy using these lights for a variety of decorative effects. If you are doing any holiday entertaining or just want to brighten your home during the gloomy winter months flameless candles are both safe and fun!

Read my posts on the Schnarr’s blog for ideas for displaying flameless votive candles and submersible water lights.

New Year Card for 2016

Here are the results of what has become an annual ritual for me – designing a card to celebrate the New Year!

New Year Card for 2016
New Year Card for 2016

This year there are three versions of the card – see my Pinterest board for a peek at the other two variations.

Making these designs was kind of an involved process. The first thing I did was go through some monoprints I did back in the 1990s that I thought would make good backgrounds. These prints were “rejects” that I didn’t think were interesting enough on their own but I thought might be good as part of a collage some time in the future. Next I used some archival dye-based ink (Ancient Page and ColorBox Archival) to stencil designs on top of the background pieces. I chose this ink because it was translucent and I wanted the backgrounds to show through a little. Most of the stencils I used on the backgrounds were from a series that I cut out back in September consisting of designs inspired by a mid-century modern building I saw on a trip last summer.

I drew a set of retro ornament shapes and cut them out of more monoprint scraps, and stenciled on them with some commercial stencils of geometric design. I thought they complemented the mid-century modern look quite well. I don’t know many more times I can go back to the well of inspiration that is retro ornaments – I have yet to get tired of them!

The next step was to scan the background pieces into the computer and work on them a bit with Photoshop. I altered the colors a little bit on some of these to make them better backgrounds for the ornaments. The real life pieces will be used later in some art projects. I got some more use out of the backgrounds by making them into header images for Google+, Facebook and Etsy – I like to change those seasonally and without the seasonal references I won’t have to change these headers for awhile!

Monoprint leftovers with stenciling on top and a little bit of computer enhancement and collaging.
Monoprint leftovers with stenciling on top and a little bit of computer enhancement and collaging.

Next I scanned in the ornament pieces separately and used various Photoshop tools to trim around them and enhance the color a bit to make the stand out better against the backgrounds. I added a drop shadow and a grunge border and exported each composition as a JPEG to import into Illustrator. The card text and further details were done in Illustrator with the addition of the yellow texture imported from Photoshop. The texture was created with a technique I wrote about in my article Analog to Digital: Waste Paper From Stamping Projects Can Enhance Photoshop Art.

The next step is to get these printed and mail them out ASAP!

Christmas Journaling and Icebreaking Activity Cards

The front sides of some of the Christmas journaling cards.
The front sides of some of the Christmas journaling cards.

A few weeks ago I listened to a great podcast by the Scrap Gals in which guest Amy Sorensen discussed prompts for journaling about the holidays. Some of the prompts were in the form of questions and they reminded me of the activities my Mom used to like to do at Christmas parties. I was inspired to make some cards with prompt questions to use on our Christmas Day gathering and perhaps to later use as prompts if I ever decided to make Christmas journal or scrapbook. If you celebrate a different holiday you can adjust the questions and decorations to suit.

If you want to make cards like these here is what you will need:

Cardstock (plain will do since it will be covered on both sides with decorative paper)
Lined paper or journaling spots (journaling spots are small decorative pieces of paper or cardstock that are usually lined and are designed to be incorporated into a scrapbook or journal layout and written upon)
Decorative paper in holiday colors – a good opportunity to use up scraps!
Paper cutting system of choice
Glue sticks
Bone folder
Clean scrap paper
Marker or writing tool of choice
Holiday stickers
Decorative scissors
Rubber stamping ink
Small word rubber stamps
Corner rounder
Chipboard (optional)

1. My first step in this project was to decide on the size of the cards. I had a quantity of journaling spots that would work so I let those determine the size. If you want to fit your cards into a pocket page let that determine the size of your cards.

2. Cut pieces of cardstock to the size you determined.

3. Using a glue stick, glue the journaling spots or lined paper to the cardstock pieces. After gluing place a clean piece of scrap paper over each card and rub with bone folder to get a nice tight seal on the glue.

4. Glue decorative paper in holiday colors to the backs of cards and burnish. Make as simple as elaborate as you want and embellish with holiday stickers if you want to.

The back sides of the Christmas journaling cards.
The back sides of some of the Christmas journaling cards.

5. Trim the cards.

6. Cut a selection of light colored scrap papers into strips with decorative scissors. Stamp them with small words that fit the theme. I chose the words celebrate, Fiesta!, party, living, culture, spirit, living, holiday, joy and truth from four different word sets from my Carolyn’s Stamp Store collection. Set these aside to make sure the ink dries thoroughly.

7. Write prompt questions on the front of each card. For ideas I searched online for “Christmas journaling prompts” and used some of the questions I found plus I made up a few of my own. Feel free to use these or your own choices.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

Is there a new holiday tradition that you would like to start?

If money was no object, what would you give to each person in your family?

What was your favorite Christmas outfit?

Are there any traditions that we’ve let go that you’d like to bring back?

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

What is your favorite holiday food?

What does the “Holiday Spirit” mean to you?

What is one of your favorite Christmas gifts?

How did you find out there was no Santa?

What are you most grateful for this season?

What are your favorite decorations?

What is your favorite holiday song?

What is your favorite Christmas book?

What is your favorite Christmas movie?

What is your fantasy Christmas dinner menu?

What is your most spiritual holiday experience?

What gift did you most enjoy giving?

What do you normally do the day after Christmas?

8. Once you’ve written on all the cards, you’ll have an idea how much room is left for embellishments. Glue on your strips of stamped paper and add other embellishments of your choice such as stickers, rub-ons, and anything else you have that you’d like to use.

9. Round off the corners with the corner rounder if you want to.

10. If you like you can make a matching box for the cards out of chipboard and decorate it accordingly.

I spent Christmas Day with my Dad, my brother and my boyfriend. This was my first Christmas with my boyfriend Ray, and while he had met my Dad and brother before I thought that if we asked each other the questions on the cards it would be a good way to get to know each other better and also be a good conversation starter. I think it worked well, I learned a lot I didn’t know and we had a great conversation. Thanks to Dad, Larry and Ray for being open minded enough to tolerate the experiment! I gave Dad a set – they make a good host/hostess gift!

These cards could be a great prompt for other holiday activities such as a daily anticipatory activity for December or a family journal or album. Use your imagination and have fun!

I’ll have one extra set of 15 cards for sale at the studio shortly, so if you want dibs on it please contact me.

Studio:art Grand Opening Saturday December 19, 2015

Studio:art co-op grand opening

Studio:art Grand Opening this Saturday!

New artists co-op and retail store in Maplewood!

I’ve joined a new artists co-op in Maplewood Missouri and I am excited to invite you to our grand opening! It takes place Saturday, December 19 from 10am – 6pm. The address is 740 Manchester Road, Maplewood, MO 63143.

Local art and crafts (including some of mine) will be for sale, plus refreshments and a chance to win a $50 store gift card! It’s not necessary to RSVP, but if you’re a Facebook user you can RSVP at the event page or invite any of your friends that might be interested.

If you can’t make it on Saturday, the store retail hours are:
MON: Closed
TUE: Closed
WED: Noon-8PM
FRI: Noon-8PM

I hope to see you there!

Fit and Healthy on Route 66 – Rogers Parkway to Memorial Park

This article was originally published on June 30, 2012 and has been retrieved via the Wayback Machine.

Trailhead for Rogers Parkway, Brentwood, Missouri

If you’re traveling on the Manchester alignment of Route 66 through St. Louis County and are in the mood for a short, easy bike ride or a walk for you or a canine companion, try the Rogers Parkway in Brentwood, Missouri. Brentwood is a small city but has a lot of little parks, most with water, some with restrooms. You’ll pass through several during the route I’m about to describe. You won’t see anything spectacular, but you’ll enjoy charming older suburban neighborhoods with large trees and pleasant shade. The trail is pet-friendly with plastic bag dispensers for waste and a water fountain with a basin at dog’s height. If you don’t know the area well you’ll want to download and print out this map to take with you.

If you’re traveling west on Manchester, start looking for the trailhead shortly after you cross over Hanley Road. The trailhead will be on the right, in between American Locksmiths and Brentwood Place Apartments. You’ll find an asphalt trail heading north that takes you to Broughton Park. Follow the trail until you reach Swim Club Road, where you’ll cross over to the other side of the street.

Intersection of Trails

Continue until you get to an intersection of asphalt trails. Turn right, and you’ll pass some handball, tennis, and volleyball courts. This is Hanley Park. You’ll see some signs along the way suggesting different fitness exercises that you can do if you like. The trail splits in two, and the more interesting route is to the right. You’ll cross a creek and follow along it for awhile on the Lee Wynn Trail until you get to Oak Tree Park. If you feel like doing some hill climbing, you can continue past the park and up a ridge to explore the streets a bit. If you’re not in the mood for climbing a hill, head back the way you came until you get past Hanley Park and back to the intersection. You can turn left here and get back on the Rogers Parkway, or you can turn right and continue for a short distance into Memorial Park. If  you’re hungry or thirsty, there is usually a snack stand set up here. If you care to head toward the huge American flag toward the northeast, you’ll come across a large shopping center that has a Trader Joe’s and a Target, both places where you can pick up some items for a picnic lunch. (If you turn right at the huge flag and continue for a few blocks, you’ll see some light rail tracks – turn left and there is the Brentwood I-64 Metrolink station if you want to explore more of the St. Louis area – bring your bike on board). If you don’t want anything from the shopping center, I recommend turning around in Memorial Park and heading back the way you came at this point – you’re roughly 2/3 of the way through the entire route if you’ve taken no detours.

If you’re on foot, you’re probably satisfied with the length of your excursion, but if you want a little more, you’ll notice some dirt trails on the right as you head back. Explore the small wooded area if you like.

If you’re on a bike, you might want to extend your ride considerably. If so, I recommend looking for Eulalie Ave. (this is the spot where you crossed the road previously upon reaching Swim Club Road) on the way back. It’s a little confusing because if you look left, the road is called Dorothy and if you look right, the sign is missing. Nevertheless, take a right turn and you’ll come to an intersection with Brentwood Blvd. Use the light and cross Brentwood Blvd. here with care – it’s very busy and the drivers are not necessarily attentive to cyclists or pedestrians.

Once you’ve crossed Brentwood Blvd., continue west on what is now Litzinger Rd. Look for four Lustron houses on your left. Continue for several blocks on Litzinger until you get to Tilles Park, a large park in the city of Ladue with a nice trail, more fitness stations, water, restrooms and more. There is a small lake with a shelter if you’ve brought a picnic lunch. Go around the park as many times as you like, then head back to Brentwood Blvd. on Litzinger and cross back over. Make a right when you reach Rogers Parkway and you’ll be back to the trailhead shortly.

Fit and Healthy on Route 66 – Castlewood State Park

Castlewood State Park in St. Louis County, Missouri
View from bluff at Castlewood State Park in two different seasons

Castlewood State Park is located along the Meramec River in the southwest portion of St. Louis County between the Manchester and I-44 alignments of Route 66. Parts of the park lay on either side of the Meramec River. The part that lies north of the Meramec River is accessible by car south of the Manchester alignment of Route 66 and includes one of the most scenic views in all of St. Louis County. The photos above were taken from the River Scene Trail.

In the days before air conditioning, one way people used to cope with the heat was by visiting swimming beaches at the numerous rivers in the region. Caves were popular too. Route 66 fans will recognize the names of the fun places “Times Beach”, “Sylvan Beach”, Meramec Caverns”, “Stonydell” and Joplin’s “Lakeside Park”. Fort Bellefontaine County Park was formerly such a destination – the area that is now Castlewood State Park was another.

According to the book “Walks & Rambles in and around St. Louis” by Robert Rubright, the heyday of Castlewood as a resort was from 1915-1950. The swimming beach was washed away by the river in 1945. Some other amenities such as clubhouses, nightclubs and taverns persisted a bit longer. The state of Missouri converted the land to a park in 1979. Signs at the park indicate that while swimming in the Meramec River is not forbidden, it’s not encouraged either and is something to undertake at one’s own risk. Drownings do occur here so be careful.

The River Scene trail is so nice that I have explored very few other areas of the park despite many visits. I need to correct that oversight! There is a steep climb to the top of the bluff but after that the trail is not too difficult because it is mostly flat or downhill. You will have to watch your footing because the trail is rocky in spots and it’s possible to trip on tree roots. Sturdy hiking boots and a walking stick are helpful for safety and comfort. There are multiple scenic overlooks, historic ruins from the resort days and a well-traveled railroad corridor to see along the way. Rail fans will normally get a chance to see a train or two while hiking here and a portion of the trail even goes under the railroad bed in a cool tunnel.

Map of Castlewood State Park in St. Louis County, Missouri

As you can see from this map, the portion of the park that is South of the Meramec River is accessible only by hiking, biking or by horseback. You can take a trail to Castlewood from either West Tyson County Park or Lone Elk County Park.

It’s not shown on this map how it connects but if you take the Stinging Nettle Loop at the base of the bluff, you can follow that trail westward to a portion of the Meramec Greenway, Sherman Beach County Park and the Al Foster Trail which begins in Glencoe. You can also take a side trip on the Rock Hollow Trail, also known as the “Zombie Road”. The Stinging Nettle Loop is great for mountain bikers like me who are pretty much at the beginner level. There are some hills but they are not too high and if you fall you’ll probably land on dirt most of the time. I took a minor fall and didn’t get hurt. More challenging trails that I have not worked up to trying on a bike yet are in the area if you’re up for it. If you are getting the impression that you can spend days or weeks here exploring all the trails that connect near here you are probably right! Bring maps because it can get confusing!

Castlewood State Park official web site

My photos of Castlewood State Park and the nearby Wildlife Rescue Center