Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January is Just Plain Two-Faced

January means my birthday (yes, it IS about the presents actually), new seed catalogs, sunny days, turquoise snowmen decor and a bit more sunlight each day.

It also means the IRS is looming along with storm clouds, black ice, still-short days, and post-holiday letdown. Oh, and let's not forget Norovirus and lots of jolly headaches.

January:  I love it and I hate it.

If I had my druthers, I'd hibernate.  God knows I ate enough to live on my fat reserves for a month or two.

I fight against the dark days with a plethora of crafts--if I'm not sewing, then I'm crocheting, painting or embroidering. Which I'd love to show you but that nasty thing called My Job means there's not enough daylight to take decent photos.  (Whine, whine, whine.)

Maybe you enjoy putting away Christmas and having a sparsely decorated haven, but I miss the color and excitement.  (I'm shallow that way.)

Eventually the snowmen, snowladies and snowflakes, no matter how turquoise and sparkly, weren't cutting it and I broke out the Valentine goodies a week early just to save myself from January self-medication (Wine, wine, wine--or in my case, sparkling pear juice in a goblet.  Yes, I live on the edge.)

Anyway, it's not quite February yet but I'm enjoying my crocheted, glass, fabric or painted wood hearts along with little old valentines, pretty candles, red vases, and silver-framed family photos.  Especially the family photos.

And pink silk tulips since there's not a sign of springtime outside.  Said tulips which are behaving themselves nicely now that I've super-glued three blossoms onto their stems so they can't pop off when I shower the dust off them.  I had thought of gorilla-glueing them but felt that might be overkill. 

If the Loc-Tite works, I'm going to do the same to the stray fir branches belonging to my mantel garland.  (End of January is a great time to plan ahead for Christmas.)  I've finished so many holiday projects recently that I feel like I'm eleven months ahead instead of one month behind.  Sadly, it feels very very wrong to even think about posting about Christmas projects in January.  Or February.  Or any month except December.

So I'm plotting some Valentine/craft posts that might see the light of day.

Or not.

It depends on the Photo gods.  I might be pouting over the fact that my family didn't get my subtle hints about wanting a new camera, but hey there's an anniversary coming up  need some good daylight so I can flaunt a new chalkboard or two, some very Pinteresting yoyo-and-button hearts and a project created by upcycling some roadkill and an old mattress.

I know it sounds like a tease, but actually really I'm sort of cheerleading myself into cranking out some creativity and posting. 

Bring Joy,

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Guideposts -- Week95

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.  

~Friedrich Nietzsche

Bring joy,

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tricks for Using Word

I use Word all the time, but I cruised past useful functions for years that I couldn't live without now.

When I was writing my about making my U-Pick Sign, I thought maybe I should point out some of my favorites that you might not know about. Of course, I realize I might just be technologically clueless and you totally know all about this stuff, but at worst you'd just yawn and move on to another blog.

What I was missing all those years was that little "x" icon in the lower right corner.    So type something profound in Word ("Go, Niners!"  "Bob Marley Rules" "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)
Highlight it and then click that little "x" and a whole new world opens up.  It's really little but the arrow is pointing at it.

Click--Oh look!
Effects like Emboss and Engrave and Outline and Shadow.  I use Outline for my sign-making--why waste printer ink when all you want is the outline anyway?  Outline and Shadow made my U-Pick sign lemon-squeezy easy.  Even though lemons weren't listed.

And did you know you can make your font any size, not just the options provided like 28, 36, 48, 72?  Try typing something wild like adding a 1 in front of the 72.  172 pts., please.  Hit Enter and...
Cool, huh?

The other incredibly useful feature for signs is the Character Spacing which is the other tab that appears when you click the little "x".  The default spacing is fine for most applications but it's helpful to spread your letters out to fill your horizontal space.  'Cause sometimes you have the perfect font size in height but it's waaaay too squishy side to side. 
So click on Expanded from the Spacing menu, then click the little up and down arrows to gradually get the right size.

I pumped this one up by 10 points.
It's a fairly subtle change.  But it makes signs easier to paint when all your letters aren't crowding up.  Just sayin'. 

Have fun with it.

Bring joy,

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Signs...Almost Instant Gratification

I love fonts and typography, so it's no surprise that I love to paint signs.

The simplest, easiest one ever is my "U-Pick" sign.

 I went with a rustic, primitive look (at least for me).

I had a pallet I scrounged off the curb on garbage day so I simply sawed four equal-length boards off. Equal is a term used loosely here.  Truthfully, I just eyeballed it, reasoning that U-Pick farmers have better things to worry about than quarter inch measurements. Like squash beetles. Or tomato worms.

I decided what fruits and vegetables I wanted to "advertise", and started auditioning fonts. Us font addicts know how important that is. You can have a font that seems perfect until you realize that your words look crappy in it.  Maybe the spacing is off or the curve of the S bugs you. So type out your chosen words and play with various fonts.  I knew I wanted a drop shadow on my sign, so I chose a simple font without a serif.

Good thing that Word has simple fonts because I usually download fancy ones like Jane Austen or Brock Script or Goofball.   One of which might feature in my fancy, picky, perfect cottage sign.
I had a bit of my fab unused apple-green paint that I'd mixed up from a previous project so I just slapped it onto the rough pallet wood, not worrying about complete coverage. Good thing too since I had just. barely. enough.

I printed out my words as Outline in Word including the Shadow option, cut them up, and traced them onto my painted boards. I know lots of DIYers use pencil or chalk to transfer, but I prefer my trusty carbon paper from era of typewriters.

I'm lazy,
I have it,
and it works for me.

I traced and painted just the actual letters onto the boards and then used the Shadow version as my painting guide.  Perfect was not my aim, this go 'round.  White and gray provided enough contrast--just like an actual U-Pick sign that needs to be readable while cruising down a country road.  I love the extra pop that the shadow gave this project.

I didn't distress it --the roughness of the pallet wood provided a rustic texture and I figured the elements would contribute over time especially since I didn't put any finish over the latex and craft paint.

What would I change?  I definitely should have scaled "U-Pick" to a font size that takes up most of the vertical space.  It's marginally larger than the other words, but not enough to tell.  And I'm still working on the links between the boards--I need a better way to attach the chain than staples or bent nails.

It reminds me of good times spent up a ladder stuffing my mouth with tree-ripened fruit in the good ol' days and it brought good luck to the garden last summer--we harvested bumper crops of golden razzies, Blue Lake bush beans, Sugar Snap peas, and Early Elbertas which may be the best peaches of all time.  In the depths of cold dark weather, it's good to remember a bit of summer!

Bring joy,

Party On...

Monday, January 07, 2013

My Guideposts -- Week94

True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, 
the zest of creating things new. 
 ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 Bring joy,

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

My 2013 Inspiration

Bring Joy.

It's a phrase that has been popping up in front of my eyeballs on reader boards, holiday gift wrap and Christmas newsletters.  When the Universe chooses to send me messages, I know enough to listen!

I love the fact that each time I saw "bring joy" (or a variation thereof) it resonated so strongly with me.  I feel like it chose me rather than vice versa.

Bring.      Joy. 

Two separate words.  It's the "bring" that inspires and challenges me.  I have plenty of internal delight in my life and I need to externalize it.

My brain is already whirling with ways to fulfill it: extra-clean surfaces to delight my poor long-suffering husband who lives with my enthusiastically creative messes, small birthday treats for friends near and far, spreading random acts of kindness in unexpected places, fluffing my home and my workplace to provide a nourishing environment, disciplining my inner life to match the outer.  Or should that be making my outer jive with my inner?    So many possibilities!

So I'm on a mission for Twenty-Thirteen.  What a challenge to live up to!  Wish me luck.

Bring joy,
The Lettered Cottage