December 25, 2013

Mappy Christmas - II

Got one more Christmas gift project cranked out from the ever-abundant atlas. This time a special request from mom for a map flower like this one I had made for myself a while back:
This is on a 20x30 canvas with petals cut from the atlas with no regard for location...
only concentrating on colors and shapes within each petal.

To start the custom gift for my parents, I bought a two-pack of smaller 16x20 canvases from Hobby Lobby during their 50% off that came to $4 for two or $2 for one. I used three coats of acrylic on the canvas: first burnt umber, then ebony, then a final coat with burnt umber. 

Went to the trusty atlas and chose the map pages for Wisconsin and Florida 
for their custom flower.

Starting with the center or "eye" of the flower, I punched out a 1-1/4" circle 
from the map showing their location...
and then started laying out the petals which I had cut free-hand from the map pages, taking care to highlight the more visually pleasing parts of the map and, at the same time, including cities and areas of significance to them. In an effort to keep the design balanced, I kept an eye on the "movement" of the patterns and colors within the layout as well.
I continued to work outward, using smaller petals the toward center and building to larger at the outer edges. I could see immediately that because of my focus to use maps strictly for Florida and Wisconsin, the colors weren't as vibrant as in the original map flower, which used map pages showing topography and oceans.

Nonetheless, I continued with my "personal meaning" approach to the flower rather than going for a more colorful flower.
Using ModPodge, I again worked from the center out gluing the pieces down, doing my best to keep my layout intact as I went along. If you haven't used ModPodge before, let me just tell you it's a joy to work with as it's very forgiving. No matter how you slop it on, it dries with a nice, clear finish.

In the end, as hard as I tried to keep my original layout intact, I lost a bit of the shape of it during the gluing process (why didn't I just look at the photo I had taken of the unglued layout? arrggghh), but I think mom was generally happy with her personalized map flower canvas.

Merry Christmas world!

December 23, 2013

A Frosted Day

This is what it looked like across the lake, outside our window this morning:
A pretty frosty and snowy start for the day, so it seemed like a fitting backdrop for frosting the cookies Maia and I baked up last week:

We started with Grandma Hallmann's recipe, which she baked every year and we kids loved.
Grandma's White Cream Cookie Recipe
Written in her own hand...mine never seem to taste quite the same as hers.

                           Mix                                              Chill                                          Roll and cut

"It's good, Gigi!"
"Yes, and even better that you're baking and tasting cookies from a recipe that your
great-great grandmother used as far back as 85 years ago!"

After they were all baked, they went into the freezer...where they stayed until today.

I tried this Sugar Cookie Icing recipe from

1 Cup Confectioner's Sugar
2 tsp. Milk
2 tsp. Corn Syrup
1/4 tsp. Almond Extract

I liked the consistency of the frosting but not the flavor of the Almond Extract (it seemed to overpower the cookies) so I substituted Vanilla Extract in the next batch. It was perfect. The corn syrup gives a nice glossy finish too!

I hastily decorated some with additional frosting and sprinkles but then thought to leave some just with the "base coat" so anyone so inclined to do so can finish decorating them at my just-now-thought-up Cookie Decorating Contest during the Christmas Eve family get-together tomorrow!


Why should I be the only one who gets to have all the fun?

December 22, 2013

Mappy Christmas!

The beautifully illustrated atlas I scored free-for-the-taking at our recycling center just keeps on giving. First, it gave me lots of map envelopes which make nice stocking stuffers.

And now, it provides the foundation for a lovely and meaningful stitched map gift to mark the journey of my traveling parents. 

To begin, and to my good fortune, I found and selected a page from the atlas showing the eastern half of the United States that includes their home state, Wisconsin, and their destination state, Florida!
Next, I traced in red pencil the route they take, then punched holes along the route using my needle to guide my stitching. I used two strands each of two colors of embroidery thread (total of four strands) and began to stitch along the traced line with a simple backstitch. 

I wanted to include a sentiment on the map and, at the same time, provide a "key" so I added a stitched "Home is where the heart is." Sometimes I just don't know when to leave well-enough alone.
Accckkkk! Did I just ruin this whole project? No...where there's a will, there's a way...

On a random atlas page, I  PRINTED my intended text and added an embroidered heart.

I then "erased" the bad, bad stitching with Elmer's glue...

And adhered the "bandaid" label (which I trimmed with a pinking shears) to cover the boo-boo and was left with this good-enough-for-me fix.

I hope mom and dad think of us when they look at this map in Florida while Jack Frost is nipping at our noses in Wisconsin!

PS: Notice the ribbon and bow... also made from atlas page scraps! (it really just never ends!)

December 4, 2013

Merry "Cork"mas Tree!

While browsing around on Pinterest today I came across this pin and tutorial for a wine cork Christmas tree from the Vintage News Junkie blog. Since it seemed easy and fast - not to mention the fact that my wine corks are piling up - I decided to jump on it. A couple notes: I did like using the red-stained sides of the corks (particularly since only one of my corks had a design on the end of it to add interest) to hint of ornaments or lights and I also chose to set the "trunk" back a wee bit to mimic a real tree. 
So I grabbed some corks, fired up the glue gun...
did a bit of sorting and planning...

and within 5 minutes, I had diminished the cork stash and wound up with
a fast, free and rustic-y looking little Christmas decoration. 
Like, like and like!