Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Teddy bear sort of paper doll

Vacation time is almost here and road trips may be in the cards.  Bet you didn’t know that felt sticks to itself, did you?  Why not make a travel felt doll to entertain your favorite little girl on long car rides? This project is super quick to make and uses very little supplies.  You can change Miss Bear’s clothing by simply pressing onto the doll. This portable play set uses an inexpensive pocket folder for storing extra clothing. Don’t fret; little boy projects are in the works!

Print out the pattern on a full size 8 ½” x 11” pieces of paper. 

You will need:

Felt in various colors

Inexpensive pocket folder

Extras such as, lace, ribbon, buttons, whatever you have on hand

Two googly eyes and one tiny pompom for nose (you can substitute a small circle of black felt instead of a pompom)

Black dimensional fabric paint

Tacky glue

1.     Glue felt onto the front and back of the folder.

2.     Trace the pattern onto the correct colors of felt and cut out. (see photo) Cut the main bear body from a piece of tan felt. Cut the belly, ear, and muzzle pieces out of light tan.  Center the main body piece on the front of the folder that you have already covered with felt.  Attach with tacky glue.  Glue on the ears, muzzle and belly pieces.  Glue the googly eyes and nose as shown (See photo) Draw the mouth shape with the fabric paint and let dry completely

3.     Cut out the clothing pieces and decorate with embellishments as shown.

4.     Store the clothing in the pockets.  Clothing sticks to the felt bear without tabs.

5.     Why not use the patterns to make lots of clothes in different felt colors.

Party games?

As the crow flies?

As the crow flies is an adage that usually refers to the most direct route.  Modern airlines used to get you to your destination as the crow flies.  Unfortunately with cutbacks and cost saving efforts, this is no longer true.  The crow is flying a bit crooked these days.

My son, who just finished Tech School in Texas, decided he wanted to come home for a week visit before he goes to his duty base.  He booked a flight.  I live in Virginia, not 40 miles from the Nation’s capital, and he was coming from Texas. 

His flight went like this…fly to Dallas, wait and switch planes, fly to Miami, wait some more, get on another plane and finally fly to D.C.    Total travel time, close to nine hours.  Now, lets visualize a U.S. map.  We start out directly across from our destination, but find its better go down that map as far as we can only to turn around and go up the map.

It gets better.  When researching flight to his new base in N. D. I learn that I must first go to Atlanta, and then go to Minneapolis, and from that point, travel to N. D.

What’s next, going to Europe via the Arctic Circle?

Personally I think I have figured out how they come up with these itineraries.  The Airline executives all get together and have a martini lunch.  After about six cocktails, they decide to map out the routes for upcoming flights.  They attach a map on the wall, and blindfold the CEO.  He has a big pushpin and he’s twirled around three times and directed towards the map.  They all have fun and pretty soon they have all their flights mapped out. 

This technique may be familiar to you as the child’s game of pin the tail on the donkey or in country jargon, “going around your elbow to get to your ass”.

(Honestly now, I didn’t curse, look it up-- an ass is just a donkey)

p.s.  The pastel above was painted a few years ago when my son was around 11 years old.  He is now a handsome 19 year old airman first class.  :-)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Canine conniption?

Puhhhhleeeese can I come?

Have you ever experienced a conniption fit?  Do you even know what conniption means?  A simple trip to the dictionary explains that a conniption is a real word that describes a fit of rage or hysterics. This hysterical outburst  often results after learning of something unpleasant. And here I just thought it was some sort of made up word to underline the behavior of someone who is on the edge.

Conniption…what a cool word don’t you think?  Oh conniption, I know you well.

“Mom I think I may just drop out of school and join the circus.”


“Hey dad, sorry about the dent, a I swerved so I wouldn’t hit the old lady.”


“But mom, all the kids are getting tattoos.”


“Yes the dog ate my report card, right after she ate my homework.”


“No, Fido,  you have to stay here, you can’t come with me to work.”


Just a note that I will posting articles that I have previously worked on since my 19 year old son is visiting for a week before he goes to his new AFB....far, far away :-(

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Things about myself, Crystal clearly stated

Cut Paper Arabian Horse ACEO

Having recently received pats on the back from some of my blogging buddies I am encouraged, as payment, to disclose some information about myself.  Well, here it comes, are you ready?

As far as lives go, there is always rain, but quite often sunshine follows.

It rained the day my child was born and in a week she was gone.

The sun shone a year later when a Mary (my daughter) arrived.

The rain poured down on a young widow with one child.

The sun came out when I met a prince in a grief support group.  My little family grew by five. 

The stormy fear of flying squashed my dreams of travel.

The sunny strength of the man I married helped me to overcome this fear.

No amount of rain could stop the allergies aggravated by the touch of a beautiful horse…but

The sun shines bright as I paint their free-spirited joy...with a brush and a touch of Zyrtec

My life is a thunderstorm of foibles and mistakes.

The sun gave way to a rainbow turned upside down into a great big smile. Humor, they say and the ability to laugh at oneself is a gift we give to ourselves. 

A deluge blocked the words that begged to appear.

The Sun came out and illuminated a blog, yes a blog, and allowed me the freedom to release those words and forge friendships.

If you read between the lines and the metaphors then you know me a little better.
Thank you all for being my friends.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I think that shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree, for Mr. Toasts Creative Tuesday

"The Grandfather" ACEO

When my husband and I first got married and started looking for a house I had but one request.  There had to be trees. Nothing would do but big, large, shady trees that would cool the house in the hot Virginia summers. They would be a haven for the colorful birds that I enjoyed feeding. You see, I’ve always loved trees, the bigger, and more knotted the better.
They say that wrinkles on the human face are a sign of great wisdom.  Thanks, but I’ll pass on that.  Trees are an entirely different story.  Give me the ones that have the wrinkles and the great age. I’ll take the ones that have seen many things and witnessed many momentous events. They’ve a story to tell and I am listening.  Are you?
The theme for Mr. Toasts Creative Tuesdays this week is “Trees.” Please enjoy my entry an ACEO called “The Grandfather.”  Check out all the other super creative artwork at:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thank you, thank you

Well, today I would like to thank  Daniella and Maddy for bestowing me with a blogging award.  So thank you twice...thank you, thank you, dear friends.

To find just a few bloggers to give this award to, would be next to impossible.  I love all your blogs, I love all my followers, and blogging friends.  If I could, I would give them an award every day...the Crystal Clear Award, but since there is no such award and therefore no button for this award I will just have to say it---and you know who are....you are the bestest!

7 things about myself?  Well lets just say I'm working on it.  Soon, very soon Crystal will be a little clearer.

Have a great (what's left of it) weekend everybody

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My obsession with travel and dirt

ACEO, Bahamas

Yes, you read it right.  I used to have an obsession with dirt.  It isn’t as odd as it sounds…so let me explain.

When I was little I wanted to travel.  Anywhere that was at least a state away from my own was where I longed to be.  I sent away to pretty much all fifty Chambers of Commerce and in return I received colorful travel brochures.  I put them in a box and stashed it under my bed. Occasionally I would take them out and scan the pages making a mental list of those places that I just had to see.

My parents had other ideas, and four kids who sometimes made travel to anywhere further than the corner grocery store rather difficult.  They tried, though.  Once a year or so they would pile us kids in the back seat of the family station wagon.  They’d listen to us quibble and fight over who touched whom, and which one of us got the window seat.  Occasionally my dad would threaten to stop the car.  He never did.

Eventually without the aid of a DVD player, video games or cell phones we managed to reach our destination, which were sometimes several states away.  That is when I started collecting dirt. 

Whenever we would cross a state line, I made dad stop the car and I would fill up an empty pill bottle with dirt.  My intention was to create a map of the United States and in each state section add it’s actual dirt, thereby creating a genuine topographical map. 

As I grew older I amassed quite a collection (in my eyes anyway) of perhaps 15 states, but I was far from completing my goal.  I grew up and life, as it sometimes has a tendency to do, got in the way.  Marriage, family and kids became the biggest priority.

Sadly, I gave up collecting dirt and I just tossed the empty pill and aspirin bottles into the trash instead of my room.

Today, innocently smuggling dirt from various states, is generally frowned upon when traveling by air. Times are different now.  Can you imagine trying to take a pill bottle full of dirt through TSA?  I can see me trying to explain that right now:

“But its just dirt.” I innocently explain.

“Follow me maam.”  He answers.

So to conclude, although I have visited many, many states…and countries since that long ago little girl dreamed of travel and collecting dirt, I now just keep the dirt in my mental map.  Once in a while, when no one is looking, I visit the storage area of my basement and take out those old, battered, bottles, open the caps, and remember.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Paint Party Friday all day...and night

My beautiful Irises are almost finished blooming.  The inspiration from their colorful hues, however, remains. Vincent Van Gogh painted many an iris from his native Holland and in his honor for Paint Party Friday; I offer my version of the many hued flowers.  One is titled Day-ly Iris and the other; yup you guessed it…Night-ly Iris.  Sorry for the poor quality of the photos, I'm not the best of photographers.

I never tire of painting the ruffles and ridges of these flowers, and the variations, well they are just amazing!

Glad things are working the way they are supposed to work today.  Don’t think I could deal with another week of issues.  A new router arrived, blogger decided to behave, and the sun is shining so all is right with the world.   I just feel like doing nothing, but I will be late opening the store….Could it be, that I am getting distracted?   You betcha!

Visit all the wonderful art to be discovered at Paint Party Friday.   Thanks to Kristen and Eva…they are the best!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Where do you go when you can’t get UNDER the weather?

ACEO...bet they are happy!

Ok, this post is not about being sick, unless of course I am referring to the constant rain we have had for the past week.  Yeah, I am sick of that.  The rain we have been receiving without end has stranded motorists, flooded roads and sent the nearby Rappahannock River over its banks.

The term under the weather actually refers to seasickness (when ancient sailors would go below deck to get out of the weather when not feeling well) and if it doesn’t stop raining soon being at sea might not be too far a stretch.

I know all the cute little phrases about may flowers and liquid sunshine since my husband, the perennial optimist, keeps coming up with new ones.

As for me I will be content to just get “under the weather,” meaning my basement studio and paint, flowers and trees and sunshiny days.  For now, that may be the only place where the sun will shine.

If it doesn’t stop soon, well, I’m almost ready to lead a mutiny and maybe…c’mon you knew it was coming… walk the plank.  

Rappahannock river...pastel

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Through a child's eyes

"misunderstood" 5 x7 acrylic

What is a weed, and how exactly does a plant earn that oh so undesirable designation?  I guess weeds are hardier, but does that make them weedier?  They are more prolific and drought resistant, could that be it?  Maybe it is because we don’t actually plant weeds and they just sort of appear. 

Did you know that dandelions are edible?  People have eaten the young leaves, made wine out of it, and drank it as a tea for centuries.  Personally I’ve never tried to eat dandelions but its nice to know that there is something out there that is easily identifiable and edible, just in case.

Children look at things in much more simplistic ways.  Dandelions to their young eyes are pretty and yellow and no one yells at you if you pick them.

If you’ve ever received a bouquet of flowers from a loved one your usual response is a kiss and a smile.  On the other hand what would you do if you receive a bouquet of dandelions with a few buttercups thrown in for good measure?  You’d kiss that child and smile, that is what you would do.  And then you would get down your nicest vase and put it in a place of honor.   Maybe, children in their innocence are much wiser than we give them credit for.

As Shakespeare so eloquently noted…a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Have you ever seen a baby dove?

Well, up until a few days ago neither had I. I see adult doves all the time since they are regulars at my backyard birdfeeder. 

One day last week I was walking in the yard watering plants and two doves flew up startling me and causing me to drop my watering can.  I looked a bit closer and what do you know but on the ground beside my rosemary bush was an itty-bitty baby dove.  Now I am no ornithologist but through the powers of deduction (the parent birds) I knew without a doubt it was a baby dove.

What to do?  Well, I couldn’t leave it on the ground so one of the stray cats in the neighborhood gets him so I figured I would pick him up and place him in the crook of a tree.  He stayed there just fine and in the evening I went to check on him and what do you know--the mother bird was sitting in the crook right along with him.  His wings were fairly developed, and I really thought he could fly if he put his mind to it. 

I watched itty-bitty dove and parents for two days and on the third day they were gone.  Do you think I saved him?  I like to think so.

I also want to say that after the bad week I had with computers and such I almost felt like just chucking it all and never logging onto a computer again.  The sun came out though, only figuratively since it is still raining around here, and I found that I won…me…who never wins anything won two different drawings from two of my blogging buddies!!!  And to think I was going to withdraw from ever posting anything again.  I was ready to close down CRYSTAL CLEAR forever.  Thanks to all who comment and to all my blogging friends. 

Special thanks to Wanda at brushstrokesfromtheheart.blogspot.com and Carrie at caramiabella-art.blogspot.com  for making my day!  Be sure to visit these wonderful artists.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

The eyes have it.

"Soul story" ACEO

I think my favorite thing to paint has got to be eyes.  They say that eyes are the windows to the soul.  If you doubt this, then all you have to do is gaze into the eyes of a horse.  This gentle beast has eyes that are as deep as a canyon. 

Each one, like a fingerprint is as different as night is from day.  So I will never tire of painting the essence of a horse’s soul.  I offer today the following ACEO study of a horse’s eye entitled “Soul story.” 

These past few days have caused me to feel as if I emit some sort of field that causes electronic equipment to malfunction.  First my router goes bad and my Internet service goes in and out at will.  A new router is on route (lol) and will arrive soon and I will be able to continue to use my computer.   The station I normally listen to while painting has disappeared and no matter how I rearrange the receiver, I can only pick up a station that plays a song about moving to the left over and over again.  And now I have developed hiccups. 

To make matters worse blogger itself has a meltdown.  I discover that even my post on Wednesday has disappeared.  Frustration!  Well, tomorrow is another hopefully brighter day… Happy weekend everyone!  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dad’s mini first aid kit--Easy Father's Day craft for kids

So the kids want to make something special for dad this father’s day.  He’s got enough mugs and T-shirts, so how about making something that dad can use around the house.  I found this mini-first aid kit in the travel section of a discount department store for only 99 cents.  It had everything needed for a minor mishap in the garage or workshop.  For just a few pennies more kids can easily personalize it for Dad’s day.

You will need:

Mini first aid kit  (mine was 3” x 4”)

Pieces of brown embossed felt

Precut felt or foam letters

Tacky Glue

Scissors, pencil

1.     Measure the top of the box and cut out a piece of felt to fit.  Trim if necessary.  It looks nice if there is a tiny margin around the edges.

2.     Spread a generous amount of glue onto the top of the box and attach the piece of felt.

3.     Glue the letters of your choice on top.  Here is where you can get creative.  If your letters are small enough and don’t interfere with the box closing you can even attach letters along the sides.

Hint:  If you have teeny, tiny band-aids lying around that are always too small to use for anything, they look cool glued to the top of the box.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Creative Tuesdays and The Color Purple, Irises

Purple Iris 8 x10 acrylic on board

I don’t grow too many flowers but I do have a lot of Irises.  They are just so cool!  Most people when they think of an Iris don’t realize that they come in lots and lots of different colors. The word Iris is from the Greek and means, rainbow.  And that description is just so fitting. I mean there are hundreds of Iris colors. In my garden the colors take turns appearing from one year to the next.  It is always like opening a present when they bloom.

Purple Iris is symbolic of wisdom and compliments.  Blue Iris symbolizes faith and hope.  Yellow Iris symbolizes passion while white Iris symbolizes purity.  I could on and on since there are many, many Iris colors but I think I will just enjoy the colors and leave it at that.

And now for Creative Tuesdays at Mr. Toasts…well the theme is purple and what better describes that oh so regal color than the purple Iris.  Be sure to check out all the other entries in this week’s theme!  

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother’s Day

My mother passed away close to 10 years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her, wish I could talk to her, and wish that I had said the things that were in my heart while she was still here.  I know she knew that I loved her, but telling someone daily is something that everyone should do, and they should do it often. 

I found these old sketches.  They are not the best but I post them in honor of Mother’s day.  The gradually darkening of the sketches represents the division of years. In these photos I can see the differences in the generations.  They depict my grandmother my mother, and me all around the age of 27.

Whenever I meet someone who knew my mother when she was young, they often tell me that I look just like her. We were polar opposites in personality, but when I hear of my resemblance I am glad that apples didn’t fall too far from the tree.

Now, go tell your mother you love her! 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Greeks love a paint party Friday!

It is a little known fact that Greeks, although they can do a lot of things very well, telling time is not one of them. I’m really not being insulting here; it’s simply a fact.  They can tell time, they just don’t. 

Don’t believe me?  Ask a Greek to meet you for dinner at 6.  You will get there at six and you will wait. The Greek will show up at 7. This phenomenon is what, in my family, is always referred to as  “Greek Time.”  I know plenty of Greeks, so I am pretty sure it is not limited to my immediate family. Even Greek travel guides suggest if you receive an invitation to a Greek home that you should arrive 30 minutes late. Don’t worry, you won’t be late!  Don’t look now but you are on Greek Time.

Lighthouse in Crete, pastel

 Being of Greek descent, you would think that I would share this common behavior.  I guess I must have skipped that gene because I am usually on time; quite often I’m a bit early.  Unfortunately, I was the odd man out in the family because every one of my siblings lives and breathes, “Greek Time.”

Maybe it’s just because when Greeks get together they talk, they tell stories, they forget about the time.  Besides, no Greek is ever in a hurry.  You get there when you get there.  Greek thinking can be summed up in two words…Siga siga… literally translated as slowly, slowly, roughly translated as, well, pretty much Greek time.

Not too much creating done this week...but hey cut me a break, I'm on Greek time.

Wanna join the party?  Click on the link...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dagnabbit #3

It’s time for another edition of Crystal’s New American Captcha dictionary.

For those who are uninitiated…Captcha is the term used to describe the nonsensical words you must type before you are able to comment on blogs or even visit some sites.  In case you are wondering about my title let me enlighten you.  The title is my nod to the good old Elmer Fudd cartoons.  Elmer wanted to say “Dang rabbit,” (or even worse) and he avoided profanity by transposing the letters.  While typing captcha, some of us may need to avoid profanity, especially when we type it incorrectly.  Good old Elmer may have been the true inventor of captcha.

What follows are some real captcha words that I have received in recent days…. enjoy:

Admenchu  (ad-men-chu) n.  A mustache that sometimes extends into a tiny beard on an advertising executive.

Pilyrm – (pilly-room) n.  A slang name for a pharmacy.

Glecroo – (glee-crew) n.  Another name for a group of gleeks or those who are obsessed with the television program “Glee.”

Dishimet – (dish-I-met)  n. a machine (or human) that washes dishes.

Psyno – (si-no)  v. The answer to something we would rather not do.

Hirlogy – n. (hurl-ogy) Referring to the science of studying the effects of riding a roller coaster on the human digestive system.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A girl and her blankie, a bedtime story

Once upon a time there lived a girl by the name of Crystal.  Crystal was a very independent, assertive and outgoing little girl. Crystal wasn’t afraid of anything, and the reason for that was her cozy pink blankie, that she carried around with her everywhere she went.

Crystal would go to the beach and holding her blankie she would stand on the benches and tell the story of “The Three bears, acting out every part.  Everyone loved the stories and would clap and ask for more.

Her mother told her, “No Crystal, leave your blanket at home.”

Crystal didn’t listen.

Her brothers said, “Only babies carry blankies’” 

Crystal didn’t listen to them either.

Then her Aunt came to visit and saw Crystal’s pink blanket that had seen much better days.

She took her blanket while she was sleeping and put it in the trash!

Oh no, Crystal was horrified.  What would she do without her blankie?

Her Aunt crocheted her a pink doll that sort of looked like a blanket.  Crystal cried, and then she dried her tears with the crocheted doll. .  Crystal didn’t want it and just tossed it in the corner. The doll was no blankie.

Crystal went to the beach.  At first she was afraid, but then she stood on the benches and told her stories to her eager audience.  She discovered she didn’t need the blankie or the doll after all.   Crystal was still Crystal.

The end.

Ok, I know this is a goofy little story, but it is a true one nonetheless.  I admit it I used to be a Linus.  This is a photo of the actual crocheted doll my Aunty made.  It is in a frame now, and serves to remind me that all I need is my own desire to do something and I can.  And nope, I never played with it! 

Blankie substitute, I don't think so!

Have a great day!  J
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