Valentine Cards 2015


My hands are stained pink tonight – magenta pink.  Why? Because of my love for hand-made Valentine’s and my daughter’s blossoming creative process.


it all started with her asking me, “Mommy, when is Valentine?”  I told her it was next weekend – 7 sleeps away and her reply was, “I need Valentine’s!”  I asked her what she wanted to have on her Valentine cards and she said, “A horse with rainbow mane and tail, clouds, and standing on a rainbow.”  Wow.  It is like I was looking at my childhood self.  I will be honest, I was kind of hoping to hear robot, frog, car, or robotic frogs in cars.  I wasn’t expecting this!  It was a few hours later I realized she was inspired by a card she received – I was slow to put the two and two together.

Anyway, I got to thinking.  I realized I had enough printmaking supplies to outfit her entire class in Valentine cards, and so decided to go with it.  I have made quite a few Valentine’s Day cards myself in the printmaking media.  Printmaking is one of the easier ways to make hand-made but mass-produced artworks, if you ask me.  All you need are linoleum blocks, a cutting tool, a brayer, and ink.  This Speedball Deluxe Block Printing Kit makes it so easy to get started on printmaking!


Here is the almost finished linoleum block.  I kept this block smaller, so from sketch to this point only took me about an hour.  The trick is to use a warm iron to soften the block – this makes for easier carving.

inkedThe next step is to make a test print, or an artist proof.  These AP prints are crucial for finding areas that were not cut in the desired way the first time around.


AP #1 shows a few areas to be improved upon.  Where is the eye?

Ap2Phew, looking better now (no pun intended).  After the AP, I always wash the linoleum block and pat it dry.  The leftover ink stains the block, making the correcting process that much easier. Oh, and it stains skin too, so be more mindful than I was during clean-up. However, this water-soluble ink cleans up easily in soap and water.


The finished (for now) print.  Greta and I will be collaborating even more on these prints tomorrow – I assumed she would add her own coloring to finish the rainbows.  I can’t wait to see how she makes these prints her own, and I am excited to show you my plans for the adult version.

Valentine’s Day 2014 – More BIG news!

Greta’s Valentine’s Day kicked off with a fun start at school.  She brought her crayons in to hand out to her friends.  She was so excited to have her first Valentine’s Day party – they made treat bags with stamps and traded Valentine’s.  Now my only challenge is to regulate the sugar consumption.

After an ultrasound appointment (yes, I know the sex of baby #2!), I was off to teach kindergarten students about making clay Olympic medals.  We used marker lids to create the rings of the Olympics.  They had so much fun, can’t wait to show you the end result after they are fired and decorated.  
Then, I had surprise flowers at work.  I didn’t open the card until I was home – hmmmm, who is Chandler?  Not sure.  Guess there is a twin to me somewhere out there who didn’t get her flowers from Chandler.  I called Hy-Vee, they were swamped, and said they’d look into it.  Meanwhile, the color and timing were a little eerie…

Greta and I made Valentine treats to surprise daddy when he got home.  Those are peanut butter M&M’s peeking out of those delicious oatmeal cookies.

One of Greta’s Valentine treats from the grandparents included small packs of sticky notes.  This girl and her sticky notes – she loves to creatively arrange them, write on them, and draw me pictures.  These are the mini modern artworks she made before dinner.  

Then, I moved on to tackling the job of sorting baby clothing while watching the Olympics.  These two large boxes and one large bag, contain most of the clothing that Greta has outgrown – newborn to 2T.  It is all being shipped off to Aunt Caroline who is expecting a girl.  So, Greta was right, we are having a boy!

Well, almost all of her clothing is going to Aunt Caroline.  Greta pulled a few of her favorites out to dress her doll.  

Recycled Crayons {2014 Valentine’s Day Cards}

Greta and I recently raided my crayon stash for all the small nubs that are just too difficult to use for big and small hands alike.  These turned out so well – my next move is to raid the crayons in my classroom and make new crayons for my students to use.  No sense in throwing out useful crayons when re-purposed crayons are this easily attained.

I started with a fairly large bag of crayon nubs.  Make sure they are peeled and cut down to small chunks, especially if you are working with a funky mold.  I used a silicone mold that was originally intended to be used for ice cubes or candies.

 I grouped my crayons by warm, cool, and neutral colors.  Greta was especially helpful with the sorting – we had great conversations about the colors and where they belonged.  I used everyday craft scissors to cut some of the longer crayons down.

Once the mold is loaded up with crayons, bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes at 325º.  I put my mold on a baking sheet to make the transfer of hot wax easier.  Allow the crayons to cool until completely hardened and set.  I put my hot crayons outside in this frigid Iowa weather and they were ready to be removed from the mold in no time.

Greta tested the finished crayons for me and was delighted – they were easy to hold, the O had a place for her finger, and best of all – she helped to make them.  

My last step was to create a simple Valentine for Greta to use at school.  I’ve been taking a class in the evenings on Adobe Illustrator – this was something I whipped up in the few minutes before class started last week.  I figured I would attach the crayons to the Valentine in a little bag.  If you want the PDF, check it out my Google Docs here.  The document is called valentine.PDF.

Happy Valentine’s Day + Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cake

It’s not too late to make this sweet treat for your Valentine.  It is fast, simple, and takes very minimal prep time.  

I spread out on the dining room table last night to make this cake for Eric, who actually requested a cake.  Usually if I start talking baking on a weeknight there is some eye rolling, because of course, there are other more important things I should be doing – lunch prep, coffee prep, walking the dog…

I mixed the cake up in a medium mixing bowl.  Normally for this recipe, you mix everything in the pan, but since I was using a layer of cherries on the bottom, a bowl was necessary. 

I made the same vegan cake I made for the Super Bowl last year, but added a twist with a layer of cherries on the bottom of the cake. 

Of course, I made the horrible mistake of reading the ingredients!  I think next time I will go with frozen or fresh cherries and a sprinkling of sugar and melted butter or margarine.  No more corn syrup and Red 40 for me. 
Grease a 9-inch cake pan with margarine and then pour the can of cherries on the bottom of the pan.  That Red 40 sure does look festive and Valentine-like though! 
Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Eric!  He got to enjoy his cake with an IPA. 

Here are the last of my Valentine Day cards for 2013.  I liked the ice skating design on this one.  I used pen and ink again to create the blue heart background and then sewed the image to the card.  My sewing line slipped a little on the ice.  :)

Eric and I always opt to stay home on Valentine’s Day, we are curmudgeons that way – it is just too busy in the restaurants, the wait staff is annoyed, and the “specials” are over priced.  We plan on staying in and making dinner tonight.  What are your plans?

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Cake


1-1/4 c. flour

1 c. sugar
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 c. warm water
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch cake pan.  Open can of cherries, pour into bottom and smooth out.  In a medium mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt with fork. Mix very well.
2. Mix water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar in a small bowl or glass mixing cup. Add all at once to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Use a spatula to scrape sides and bottoms to ensure adequate mixing.  Pour cake batter over the cherry mixture. 
3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or til knife comes out clean.


Handmade Valentine’s Cards

I’m back with more handmade Valentine’s card ideas.  This time, I mixed things up a bit and used pen and ink as the background to my old advertising book collage.  I love the classic car in this image.  
The Iowa collage is for an Iowa transplant friend here in Greensboro.  I saved a couple books from library discard on Iowa and have been using them for art projects.  The background on this card is made from rubber stamps. 

For this card, I went out on a limb.  I decided to take a more abstract approach.  This card is the practical card for teachers – tissue, bandages, paperclips, and paper.

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of the Valentine Day cards from 2013.  Enjoy your evening, y’all!

Hand Made Valentine’s Day Cards

Here are a few more examples from my 2013 Valentine’s Day cards.  For this card, I stamped the background with a rubber stamp before sewing paper shapes onto the surface.  At first the faded stamps bothered me, but upon finishing this card, it turned out ok. 

Here is another gem from the old advertising book.  The book is chock full of old advertisements that crack me up.  Who knows why this person is standing inside of a hay stack.

This card is made from layers of torn and cut papers from my old advertising books.  The repetitive red edges of the paper corners is my favorite part about this collage.  I used watered down glue to get a smoother surface quality.  I am never going back – brushing on watered down glue is the way to go.

2013 Valentine’s Day Cards

Valentine’s Day is nearing, my friends!  Here are a few from the collection of 2013 Valentine Day cards – more designs will be debuting throughout the week.  This year I decided to creative and take collage to a new level with the aid of my sewing machine.  I stuck with a few constants – selections from old books, red thread, recycled papers, and stamps.

Some cards were randomly created,  while others were made specifically for a certain person.  This one is for a friend here in NC.  The blue heart is the paper from the inside of the envelope that the SECU statements come in.  NC friends, you are welcome to bring these to me or send them my way.  I have plenty of other uses for these envelopes.

This one is covered in x and o stamps and overlaid with a selection from one of the books.  One of the old books I was cutting up is on advertising, so it has some different text and image selections.  This heart shape was a random find in an art drawer – something from Valentine’s in years past, I guess.

In this digital age, will you send or give a real Valentine card this year?  If you are interested in any of my handmade cards, I am always willing to sell them.  Send me a message, if interested.

Mommy’s Musings

There are plenty of good things going on around here this week.  I for one, am so glad it is already Wednesday.  It seems like this house cannot make it more than 2 days without some sort of illness.  Anyone else got this going on?  Onto the things going on around here this week…

More Valentine’s Day cards are rolling out this week.  This year I decided to combine my love of collage and sewing and go for the sewn paper technique.  I have been loving it – the quickness of stitching the paper allows for a faster pace than my typical glue or glue stick method.  More of these to come later on.

Lots of yard work going on due to the extra daylight.  I love coming home to the prospect of working outside, walking, or playing with Greta for an hour or two after work.  We found this little guy in the front garden bed.  He was moving pretty slowly though so we placed him near the house.  I don’t think he made it – I found a crumpled little snake on the sidewalk a couple days later.

Greta is a bookworm.  She loves to bring her books, blanket, and Winky (her stuffed pink lamb) into her tent and read.  Usually she demands that mom or dad climb in with her – the quarters are a little cramped then.  This little bed/tent is fantastic – it zips from the outside, has an inflatable air mattress, and is perfect for travel because it folds flat into a nice little disc.

Good breakfast’s galore.  We have had some tasty breakfasts lately.  This one was my most recent favorite – cinnamon raisin french toast with cottage cheese and apricot jam on the top.  You have to try this!

If you like Goodnight Moon, check out Goodnight iPad.  You won’t be disappointed!

Fried Egg Sandwich + Valentine’s Cards

Valentine’s Day is approaching – time to get your craft on and make it a holiday that is more meaningful than a store-bought card and a box of chocolates.  Here is an oldie but goodie from 2009.  Coming soon: Valentine’s Day 2013 cards!

Just for the record.  All time favorite dinner: fried egg on toasted bread, with mayo, tomato, and avocado.  I got this sandwich after watching Adam Sandler make it on Spanglish.  No joke.  A local Greensboro micro brew never hurts this meal, either.

This is all I can muster tonight – I am low on blog energy this week.  More to come soon, I promise.  There are big things brewing around here.

Happy almost Friday, y’all!

Valentine’s Day is Nearing…

This means only one thing: hand made cards coming soon.

I was going through my vast digital collection of photos this evening, while Eric is chaperoning a middle school dance, and found this old gem.  I have made Valentine’s Day cards as long as I can remember.  Some years I made collage cards, but most years I made linoleum block prints.  Some years I was ambitious and sent them out like Christmas cards.  Some years I only give them to those closest to me.  I have yet to decide on this year’s theme, media, and quantity.  I am fairly sure I made this dreaming cat card in college.  I no longer have any prints of it, just the linoleum block.  

Actually, scratch that, Valentine’s Day means two things: 

Dunkin Donuts heart donuts!  

Want to try making your own block print?  You will need a set of these.  More on block printing coming soon.