Traveling Centerpieces

I was put in charge of the centerpieces for my sister’s June wedding. She wanted everything super simple, so I designed a two-sided card, made from photos of her travels around the world.

For each table, she selected two photos from her trip to that location.

I took each one, made it into a 5×7, pulled it into Microsoft Word and added the location and the year she visited and then printed them out.

Together, we cut a sheet of black cardstock and then adhered a photo to each side.

Some were horizontal and some where vertical … we didn’t care which was which as long as both photos on that table went in the same direction.

Once complete, we tucked each one into a strong photo clip and placed it in the center of the table.

We surrounded each one with blue lights, keeping the centerpieces elegant, but simplistic.

This is one a guest took of their table, with the coordinating placecard.

There is only one continent my sister has not visited …

She is going here, along with her new husband, in December for their honeymoon. I “borrowed” these photos off of some online travel sites and we put them in the trunk that held the card box, to show the guests what their generous gifts were going to pay for …

My sister and her husband loved the centerpieces, as did the guests. She told me later that a few took them home as souvenirs from the big day.

Just goes to show you, art doesn’t have to be time consuming to be beautiful!

From Boyne Highlands

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Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs, MI is one of my favorite places to visit.

It’s a ski lodge and features some of the best golf courses in the state, but I go to work — and relax. The place is truly magical. Less than four hours from my house, I feel like I am in another country every time I visit. The buildings have a Tudor vibe and are covered in ivy. Inside, the decor is quite Scottish — which I absolutely love. There are rustic log tables in the lobby, vintage Scottish posters in the halls, and lamps with antlers in many of the rooms. The hotel has a tower, although I still haven’t gotten my Rapunzel photo from it, with beautiful stone, spiral staircases. The bar has amazingly comfortable chairs to relax in and the carpet is red tartan. The rooms have robes to borrow and the hot tub and heated swimming pool are open the entire time we’re there. Every employee — from the front desk to the cleaning staff to the security staff — is polite and happy and they will go out of their way to do whatever you need. In the fall, you can ride the ski lift to look at the colors — more on that to come later. There are many other amenities to enjoy, but we never have the time to enjoy them.

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I love this place. I feel like a fairy princess living in the castle with a beautiful room I get to call my own for 3-4 days, twice a year. Honestly, I never have to make my bed or my own coffee and wine is available by the glass or bottle. What more could a girl ask for?

candyscraps_boyneThis year, we got to go three times, since they added an additional Girls Just Wanna Crop weekend, the weekend following the traditional fall one. For me, these two October weekends were monumental.

candyscraps_boyne3On a professional level, I developed a new business plan limiting my products to Mosaic Moments, Elizabeth Craft Designs and my unique page and card kits. My husband built me some new displays to showcase my new lines and Boyne was the first time I got to try them out. I also worked out a deal with another vendor while I was there (you’ll see more about this later). And, I taught Mosaic Moments, in the form of a two-page layout, for the first time to a group of 15. The class sold out quickly, I had to turn many away and I was very nervous … but the ladies loved it. (Of course, I forgot to take any photos the entire first weekend)

candyscraps_boyne4As usual, I did free make and takes to show new techniques throughout the weekend. Here’s a card one cropper made after learning to use Elizabeth Craft Designs glitter and peel-off stickers.

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And a pair of sweaters my new Canadian friends made with the Elizabeth Craft Designs Sweater Die.

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Another created this amazing page with Mosaic Moments … the empty spot will be filled with a photo, once it is reprinted. It suffered a slip of the knife …candyscraps_boyne5

And, in the last few minutes of the second weekend, Sandy Wilkinson and Tami Migda came to show me these amazing pages they made … They liked them so much, they bought frames from another vendor and framed them! (Naturally, they were the only ones I managed to remember to take a photo of and get their name … you would never know I was a journalist for decades.)

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I did not get a photo of a winning layout … one customer bought one of the Mosaic Moments dies from me and then created a two-page layout. During the crop, they have a contest and her layout was voted the winner! I had nothing to do with it, other than showing her how to use the die, but I felt pretty darn proud!

On a personal level, the second weekend at Boyne was also monumental. I drove there by myself — the longest drive I’ve ever done alone. And, on the way home, I drove with a custom-designed rack on the back of the car to hold all of my products. It wasn’t a big deal, but it was something I had never done before, so it made me feel pretty good.

For the first time in my life, I got out of the hot tub and pool without feeling self-conscious. This was a huge moment for me in my personal growth. I was so calm going from one to the other — even with others around and all of the hotel rooms looking onto the area — that I didn’t even notice I wasn’t uncomfortable until the third time I did it. I guess I’m finally learning to accept myself for who I am — well, and losing 75 pounds doesn’t hurt either.

Finally, I actually rode the ski lift to see the fall colors. I was scared to death — especially before we figured out there was a bar we could pull down in front of us. I held onto that bar with white knuckles, but I didn’t have a panic attack and I did manage to take pictures. (I have yet to download them, but I’m hoping the stabilizer on the lens combated the shaking in my hands.) From someone who a few months ago couldn’t climb up a step ladder, this was a HUGE deal! Thanks to the guys operating the lift for slowing down and even stopping it so I could get on and off.

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So now I’m back down below the 45th parallel and getting special orders ordered and shipped, restocking my inventory and getting ready for my next crop … I have lots of samples I made for Boyne to share … stay tuned!

Mom’s Garden

momgarden_candy_spiegelMy mother has a beautiful garden, with her house in the middle of it!

 

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Really, she has dozens of gardens around her house, garage and sheds.

 

 

momgarden_candy_spiegel3Her garden has been featured on a local charity garden tour fund-raiser twice.

 

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Many of the gardens are separated with fencing, sheds, tall grass and other items. And many of them have themes … there is an outdoor room, a water garden, multiple fairy gardens and a miniature golf garden (built for the grandkids). My favorite garden is a hidden garden. Once you find it, you see it is filled with pink flamingos made from all sorts of materials.

momgarden_candy_spiegel2 During the summer, I took some evening pictures of her garden. Of course, I had forgotten to wipe my memory card clean, so I didn’t get very many pictures, but I did get a few …

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I’m sure these photos will find their way onto a scrapbook page or card at some point …

Enhanced Lighting

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Last week, as the sun was setting, the outdoors took on an orange hue. It was beautiful. Everything seemed to become sharper, brighter and more beautiful. I, of course, grabbed my camera and took these amazing photographs of my flowers, my mother-in-law’s garden and the trees …

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I love how lacy and transparent the petals on this one are.

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You can see the orange hue in the air in this one …

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The light reflecting off of these trees made the bark look orange … so beautiful!

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Facing Your Fears

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My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I’ve only been a couple of times, but it always feels like we are entering a different country — especially since you have to stop at a toll booth on the U.P. side of the Mackinac Bridge.

 

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I am still working on developing my photos (yes, they are digital, but I run them through a program to adjust color, crop, straighten, etc.). I took more than 100 photos on my iPhone and another 996 on my camera, so it is taking longer than I would like. Fortunately, there are some duplicates and a few that didn’t turn out that I am deleting!

IMG_1373Our plan was to photograph lighthouses, waterfall and wildlife. It turns out I have way more wildlife in my backyard than is in the U.P. But we did hike to quite a few falls and saw several lighthouses.

This is Seul Choix Point Lighthouse. It is located on the northern shores of Lake Michigan, 60 miles west of Mackinac Bridge. The name is French for “only choice,” since this harbor is the only option to get out of a storm in the area.

IMG_1352The lighthouse was once the center of a thriving fishing community, with supplies for residents coming in from the lighthouse docks. The community is now gone, but the lighthouse grounds are wonderfully maintained with all of the original buildings.

The light tower, still operating although it is now automated, is 78 feet tall and was built in 1895. The Victorian details on it are unique and magnificent and you can see for quite a distance from the top. However, it takes climbing 80 tiny, open iron steps and a ladder to get to the top. When I heard that, I declined a visit to the tower, but the guide quickly talked me into it. And there began my terrifying journey up.

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First of all, I wasn’t sure I was fit enough to make it up 90 stairs. However, since I recently lost 50 pounds through diet and exercise, I decided to give it a try. Physically, the climb was not difficult at all. But mentally was a whole different animal.

I am afraid of heights. Well, more like terrified of heights. I can’t be near the edge of a balcony, more than two steps up on a ladder or handle a shopping mall escalator. Heck, I cannot even walk up a staircase in a house if it doesn’t have a rail. And if I get stuck going up, I cannot get down without help. Needless to say, going up 90 stairs was terrifying. Several times I had to stop, refocus and push myself to get to the top. By the time I got there, my heart was pounding out of my throat, I was trembling and I was nearly hyperventilating. I had a paranormal experience on the way up, but that didn’t even hit me until I was safely back on the ground.

But, I did it — well, all except the top three ladder rungs. I just couldn’t do that. But I did get up high enough to see out the window.

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This was, quite honestly, one of the hardest things I have ever done. But, the rewards of having accomplished this are so incredible. By the end of the trip, I was climbing steep hills and getting closer to the edge of the cliffs than I ever have before — without any trace of nervousness or even realizing that I would normally be afraid at that point. No, I don’t think my fear of heights has been conquered, but I feel like I am more in control of it.

Back to crafting!

 

Through My Window

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I may live in a crowded lake subdivision, but my studio sits in front of a large picture window that overlooks a few empty lots and a small wooded patch. My in-laws allow us to garden a large portion of the area. The rest they have landscaped with numerous flowerbeds and large trees.

I will admit, I have the best view in the neighborhood! It may not be of the lake, but it is filled with songbirds, butterflies, squirrels, rabbits, hummingbirds and other wild creatures. Although I do not spend hours staring out of the window, I do look out it often enough to catch amazing moments in time.

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Take this spring day a few weeks ago … I looked up as a pair of deer wandered out of the woods and into the “park,” as my in-laws sometimes call it.

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We have noticed tracks in the garden and my mother-in-law’s tulips and lilies are often tasty treats for the deer, but we rarely ever see them — especially in the middle of the day. I quickly took a photo with my cell phone so I would have proof this happened, but I knew it would be a bad picture, since they were so far away. I wanted my real camera, which was in another room, but I was afraid to move.

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I watched for a few minutes and the deer seemed in no hurry to leave. I asked them if they would wait while I grabbed a camera. Naturally, they didn’t answer me, but they did wait for me to get my camera and change the lens and take numerous pictures before something spooked them and they ran back into the woods. These are my favorites …

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There is nothing more exciting than being able to observe wild animals in nature.

And, I am pretty impressed with my camera’s ability to take pictures through less-than-spotless windows!

 

Through my window

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It’s been a rough few weeks … I have been sick and they are still trying to determine to cause of the pain. Needless to say, there has been absolutely no crafting going on here lately.

However, I did find enough energy to photograph the birds through my window today. My husband refilled the feeders yesterday after another snowstorm. Apparently they were happy to pose while enjoying the new treats!

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Their faces are just priceless!

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Hopefully things will get better soon … the projects are stacking up and I owe videos, classes and projects to some of the companies I work with!