A New Place to Write…

Hi Folks! It’s been a little while since I’ve been on here. There have been several attempts at organizing this blog, as well as a few failed “blogging challenges” I’ve assigned to myself in order to encourage consistency. They have not worked, and I came to the conclusion that I just needed to start completely over in a new space. I’m working diligently on moving over some of my favorite posts, but it will be a slow process.

Why?

If you go read THIS POST you will understand my slowness completely!

So here it is…

http://thistledewmercantile.com/blog/

You can also get there by using this blog’s old domain name…

ThistleDewBlog.com

Just click on the “blog” icon once there!

IMPORTANT NOTE:
I am slowly moving the Art Journaling pages over
to the new blog… They are still here, but as I move each
post over, I’ll be deleting that specific post here so I don’t
get confused about which still need to be moved.

The Art Journaling blog posts will still be free, and I’m
trying to make them as “printable” as I can, but once 
everything is moved, I will also offer an eBook for a small 
fee, that can more easily be printed from your computer
or taken on sketching journeys on your mobile device. 

See ya on the new blog!

Kim🙂

Simple Food – Creativity Within Limits!

For years I’ve tried menu planning. My girls are awesome at it… They decide on their menu for the week, create a detailed shopping list, and actually cook the things they planned to cook. Me? Not so much. I’d plan the week’s menu, and plans would change… We’d get invited out to dinner, or have extra leftovers from the night before, or I was just plain too tired to execute the special meal I thought was a good idea for Tuesday night. I’d make a detailed shopping list and then leave it on the kitchen table when I went to the store. I’d buy lots of special fresh ingredients and watch them grow fuzzy in the fridge. So, I thought I’d think through this a bit more, and discovered…

…My cooking skills are a mix of bulk-buying, mega-cooking, comfort food,
doomsday prepper, dinner’s-in-the-freezer, and “wing it”…
…with an occasional burst of “we need to eat healthy!!!” added in.

How do you “meal plan” with that mix?

I might have found a way.

Several bloggers/writers/organization gurus that I’ve bumped into keep mentioning the “Day of the Week” meal planning method. Kind of like “Taco Tuesday,” but not limiting Tuesday to tacos only. I’ve been working on that concept for a while now, and so far, so good. The plan is to have a general idea of what meal to serve for each day of the week, to have the basic ingredients in the pantry or fridge, to have lots of simple and quick possibilities within the “plan,” and not be the end of the world if dinner plans change at the last minute. Not too much to ask, right?

Here’s what’s working so far…

Sunday Dinner
Chicken & Dumplings?
Ham with Macaroni & Cheese?
Pork Roast & Mashed Potatoes?

Monday: Breakfast for Dinner
…Which is near and dear to Hubby’s heart!

Tuesday: Pasta
This was the first “No Brainer Meal Plan Day” I implemented.
Spaghetti or Ravioli was my fallback dinner, though without a plan
I found myself falling back on it more than I would like to admit.
Pasta on Tuesday was actually a ploy to limit our spaghetti nights
to just once a week. Eventually, as dinner rolled around and I was
wondering what to fix, my brain would say “Hey, it’s Tuesday… Pasta!”

Wednesday: Church Dinner
Our church does something absolutely amazing…
They serve dinner almost every Wednesday night before Bible Study!
Yes, you read that correctly.
🙂

Thursday: Chicken
If you ask Hubby what he’d like for dinner, his answer will always,
without a doubt, be “chicken.” Any kind, any way, any recipe… It’s all good.

Friday: Out to Dinner/Pizza
Friday nights have been an “Out to Dinner Night” with my parents
since I was a kid. It doesn’t happen every Friday night, but usually
it’s a last minute “Hey, do you want to go to…” so I needed a flexible plan!
Pizza is the back-up plan! Homemade, Delivered, or Frozen.

Saturday: Crock Pot or Grill
Saturday dinners can be hands-on or carefree, depending on the
day! Sometimes Saturday is a “Company Night” for us, so maybe it’s
a crock pot full of chili or taco soup, or some chicken on the grill!

Creativity within limits… So far, so good!
dinner

P.S. Can anyone guess what that breakfast meat is?
You get extra points if you’re not from Delaware,
Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or New Jersey!

Simple Learning & Day #15… Books on a Theme

One of the favorite Christmas presents this year was a tiny bit “retro”…

FarmSounds

A brand new version of The Farmer Says…

Just like the ones Hubs and I had as kids…

…And our girls had as kids…

…Same animals, same farmer making the sounds.

The only difference is the size… It’s much smaller and
much easier for little hands to hold and operate.

And it created quite an interest in farm critters among the toddler crowd.

And when interest is at its peak, what better time to pull
together an impromptu Farm Theme Unit Study?

Not a “sit down and do school” sort of unit study, but a small
pile of toys and books that all follow the same theme.

FarmTheme

The barn and critters were an eBay find… Looking for more critters to fill out the barnyard!

And then we looked for books…

FarmBooks

Some of the board books were from our stash here at home, and a few are from the library. (Actually, we fell in love with a couple of the library books and went searching on Amazon for our own copies!) When I went digging through our books, I was surprised at how many focused on farm animal sounds! Little Blue Truck  and The Very Busy Spider were already popular reads around here, but it hadn’t crossed my mind that they were about farm animals.

One of my favorite new finds, is Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton. There’s even a fun “reading” of it on YouTube, which thrilled my Civil War dancing heart. (Dancing to it in a crazy sort of way also thrills the heart of a certain little man!)

The plan is to leave these toys and books out during the whole month of January, and play with them often. It’ll be neat to see how many animal sounds we learn, and which animals names we can recognize at the end of the month. So far we have “moo” and “baaa” down, as well as a very impressive monkey sound, thanks to Curious George. (Maybe next month we’ll move on to a Noah’s Ark theme? I don’t know very many farms that have monkeys.)

Simple Faith

 

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong.

Tonight, we big people sang this song with the little
people before they were snuggled off to dreamland.

And what a relief to know that in the big scheme of things,
we big people are counted among the little ones that belong to Him.

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For God so loved the world
that He gave His only Son,
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish
but have eternal life.
~ John 3:16 ~

Simple… and so very sweet.

One Simple Word

Simple.

My One Word for 2016.

Can’t get much easier than that, right?

I am really good at reinventing wheels. We’re talking some serious skills in that area. There are signs hanging in my home that say “Simplify Simplify Simplify” or something similar, in hopes that someday I’ll catch on. All I had to do to choose my One Word was look up…

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But I even thought a bit too hard about that. Should it be “Simplify?” Choosing the verb form seemed like adding something else to my “To Do” list. “Simplicity?” The noun sounded a bit too formal. Maybe something fun, like “Uncomplified?” Then it came to me.

K.I.S.S.

Keep It Simple, Sister.

So “Simple” it is.

There you have it…

2016… The year of just plain Simple.

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If it’s paper…

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If it’s paper… You can make a papercutting with it!

Pretty simple, huh?

If you thought the tools for the art of paper cutting were pretty basic,
the necessary materials are even easier to find!

You can probably find it right in your desk drawer!

Paper.

Any kind will work.

Two things to keep in mind:
1. Thickness
2. Purpose

Thickness of the paper you use matters… especially if you do multiple-folded papercuttings, like snowflakes perhaps, because as you fold the paper two, three, or more times, it is harder to cut through it neatly with scissors. Generally, the more folds you want to cut through, the thinner the paper you need.

Thickness goes hand-in-hand with Purpose… Snowflakes that will be pasted onto your window can be made from thinner paper than papercut ornaments that you will hang on your Christmas tree, which would need to be pretty sturdy to keep their shape. If your purpose is to paint on the papercutting or to add calligraphy, you need to choose a paper that will accept those mediums.

So I thought I’d give a list of paper resources below!

Paper Resources:

Copy Paper
24 lb. is a good standby paper…
There are lots of nice business papers available too!

Silhouette Paper
Black on one side, white on the other so you can draw or trace a design.

Graphite Transfer Paper
For tracing designs on Silhouette Paper

Origami Paper
For those who want thin, sturdy paper that will fold and cut easily

Scrapbooking Paper
The design possibilities are endless…
…Available at any good craft or hobby store!

Canson Mi-Tientes Paper
Nice and thick… Will accept watercolors, acrylics, and ink.

Parchment Paper
The best surface for calligraphy!

Chain-Laid Paper
Great Texture for historic papercuttings.
Will also accept paint and ink…
Stains well and looks like an antique piece.

Watercolor Paper
Accepts paint well… Smooth textures also accept ink well.
Get the lightest weight possible.
Watercolor paper does NOT fold well… it cracks!

Handmade Paper
Fun for collage work… Test it out if using paint or ink…
… Often doesn’t have “sizing” and watery medium will bleed.

Construction Paper
Great for kids who want to try out papercutting!

Coffee Filters
Perfect for folding into snowflakes!

But seriously…
…Before you go and buy lots of paper,

just pull some out of your drawer at home and 
try your hand at snipping paper!

Tools of the Trade

Paper cuttings can be created with very simple tools…

The basic tools are scissors, knives, and pins.

Here are my favorites…

MyTools

My fallback tools a vintage pair of Gingher scissors,
a rubber-coated Gordon craft knife with #11 X-Acto blades,
and an old-fashioned dressmaking pin.

Though sometimes I resort to a fancier hole-making method…

holes

This cool hole punch makes the teensiest holes…
…and they are uniform with no frayed edges!

Scissors are really a matter of preference…

Scissors

I have quite a collection!
(This just scratches the surface.)
😀
I like to have a variety for people to try
out when teaching papercutting classes.
(Sounds like a good excuse for owning 100 pairs of scissors, huh?)

If you’re looking for a pair of scissors, check out surgical scissors,
nail scissors, embroidery scissors, and craft scissors.
Find a pair that feels good in your hands and that fit your fingers well.

There are several types of craft knives too…

Knives

The metal ones are super inexpensive, but a little uncomfortable
if you do lots of knife cutting. I use the knife a LOT,
so the rubber coated handle is a must-have for me.

A cutting mat is also helpful to cushion your table from knife scratches.
Any brand, any size… Just large enough for your finished piece to lay on.

CutMat

I honestly think papercutting is one of the easiest crafts to gear up for.
You can usually begin with the scissors you have on hand,
and slowly search for the tools that work best for you.
For fun, you can peruse the cutting section of your local craft store…
punches, scissors, craft knives…
Lots of varieties to try out, and usually not too expensive!

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A little bit of paper cutting history…

Scherenschnitte, the Pennsylvania German form of papercutting, made its way to America in the late 1600’s. William Penn was an English Quaker that was offered a tract of land in the American colonies as payment for a debt that King Charles owed to Penn’s late father. This land was called “Penn’s Forest,” or Pennsylvania. You might have heard of it!😀

William Penn had two goals for his colony… The first was to be a safe harbor for those facing religious persecution in Europe. He himself had been jailed several times for his Quaker beliefs. Because of that, Penn offered land to the Amish, Mennonites, Lutherans, and many other Protestant groups. Penn’s second goal was that his colony would be successful, and for that to happen, he would also need skilled laborers, so he invited blacksmiths, papermakers, carpenters, and other tradesmen to come to Pennsylvania. These people not only brought their devout religious beliefs and their trades and skills, but also their customs and folk arts. One of these folk arts was Scherenschnitte.

Paper cuttings were used as decoration… The Pennsylvania German people lined their shelves with pretty paper cut edges, brightened their walls with paper cuts, and they used paper cut stencils to decorate cakes. They cut beautiful Valentines and marriage proposals. Paper cutting was combined with fraktur, a form of German penmanship, to create house blessings, wedding certificates, birth & baptismal records, and rewards of merit for good students. Because of their love for color, they often added color to their paper cuts.

HouseBlessing2

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Paper Cutting 101

I realized after I linked up the button for the Write 31 Days project
that “31 Days of Paper Cuts” just might be taken the wrong way.

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We’re going to be talking about the ART of paper cutting…
…not those miserable little cuts that come from a piece of paper!

😀

This month, we’re going to be exploring a traditional craft called “Scherenschnitte.” That big word is pronounced “Sharon-shnit” and it literally means “scissor snipping.” It’s a Pennsylvania German folk craft that has its roots in Europe… Mostly Switzerland and Germany. Paper cutting actually has roots in many countries around the world, countries like Israel… China… Poland and Mexico. There are quite a variety of styles and methods, and hopefully we’ll get a chance to take a look at some of them!

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So… Going to keep today’s post short, because this post is mostly a launching point for the series. All the 31 Days of Paper Cuts links and buttons will lead you here so you can easily find the post you’re looking for! I hope you enjoy the blog this month!

31 Days of Paper Cuts Intro

Paper Cutting 101 & Index of Posts

A Little Bit of Paper Cutting History

Tools of the Trade

Starting over… 31 Days of Paper Cuts

Did you ever have one of those projects that
you just folded up and stuck in a drawer?

I have a few.

There’s an afghan that my grandmother began and I was determined to finish. And those super cute 1980’s-style cross-stitched Christmas stockings for each member of the family. (They have their own families now.) There are numerous scrapbook albums. and there’s last year’s 31 Days of Reading Aloud project. There are probably quite a few more, but I’m just going to leave it at that.

I’m pretty much all about making a Fresh Start.

So here it is… Starting today…

31 Days of Paper Cuts!

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Stop by this month for an occasional look into my studio, a bit of history on the art of paper cutting and the various styles, tips about tools and techniques, new stuff in the shop, and some freebie patterns so you can try your hand at paper cutting! Starting tomorrow, if you click on the 31 Days of Paper Cuts button, it will take you to a list of all the posts!

Papercuts