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Last year over the summer, I did some illustrations in my Bible as I studied God’s attributes and names.  It was a really satisfying way to add some artistic creativity into my devotional time.  More than that, the attributes and names that I illustrated have really remained in my heart and mind because of the time that I spent meditating upon them as I worked.

This summer, I decided to do more “artful devotions,” and in the late spring, I came across Krystal Whitten’s “Letter the Gospel” challenge.  I bought myself a blank sketchbook and worked on a verses throughout the summer.

I’d like to share some of what I made here on the blog.  I studied each verse for a bit before I started working on the lettering.  During my studying, usually I would have an idea of how I wanted to present the verse on my page, and I penciled in lines with a ruler and added my lettering in pencil, too.  I used my three thicknesses of black Becky Higgins Project Life pens to ink the words.  (I’d really like to try a brush pen, but I haven’t purchased one yet!)

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P.S. All the verses are from the ESV

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On Tuesday morning of VBS week, I had no idea what I was going to do for myself for superhero night (we had the kids covered–see my summary post for VBS this year).  I almost gave up, but during breakfast, I had a flash of inspiration: I could make myself a superhero apron!  I served on the snacks team, so an apron was definitely appropriate– and since I love aprons anyway, the work I put into it wouldn’t go to waste!  I wear aprons all the time in the kitchen (you would think I would have more by now…).

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The kids and I hung out in the craft room almost all day!  I was sewing like a crazy woman, taking these final scraps of comic book print cotton and blue solid cotton to embellish the striped upholstery-weight apron base (thank you, S, for the upholstery fabric!).

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I used the basic shape of an apron I already own and love.  It was purchased for me by Husband at the beginning of my love affair with aprons, and I’d long ago traced it to make another one for a friend.  So I pulled out that pattern, lengthened it and left off the original bias ruffle.  Instead, I ruffled as many strips as I could eke out of my scraps of comic and blue cotton and went to town!

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I’ve determined over the years that pockets are an absolute necessity on my aprons.  I sometimes need to check out at the end of the day, whether it’s during dinner preparation or doing dishes, and I listen to podcasts with headphones to my phone.  You can be sure that these apron pockets securely hold that phone!

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In the above photo, you might notice that the top edge of the comic book ruffle at the hem of the apron is just finished by a serged overlock.  That is for two reasons: 1) I literally got this apron to a wearable state minutes before we needed to leave for the church!** and 2) I ran out of blue cotton.  I wanted to make a little binding strip to cover that edge (like at the top of the pockets and the top of the apron itself), but I have no more blue.  I’m just going to leave it the way it is.

**I was glad for many reasons that I finished the apron in time for Tuesday evening’s VBS– the next day, the contractors started demolition on our upstairs hall bathroom, and the plumbing replacement we did required a hole to be cut in my craft room ceiling first thing Thursday morning!

 

 

This little “costume” for my son was one of the most last-minute of the VBS theme costumes, but I think it’s my favorite!

Earlier in the week, Husband spent a lot of time getting Becker’s antennae just right; they are made from thin copper tubing and red plastic beads.

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We hadn’t gotten much further than that when Friday morning rolled around.   I was stumped.  I browsed Pinterest for “easy boy alien costume” and similar searches, but was coming up with almost nothing reasonable!  On top of that, I didn’t have much access to my craft room because our contractors were replacing plumbing and had to cut into my ceiling to do so.

Somehow, though, the Pinterest search sparked the idea of a robot costume, and one of the VBS directors had mentioned lots of eyes…  I ran downstairs to my craft supplies and gathered all sorts of bits and bobs and my glue gun.  I assembled my crazy concoction on the kitchen counter while my kids played nearby.

The robot panel is on a base of felt, and I combined felt scraps with textured craft foam to make the different pieces.  I used reflective cardboard for the dial and added beads and sequins from a stash of random bits to give the idea of buttons.  There are little sliders, too– and they actually slide!– fluorescent green pipe cleaners thread through the plastic pony beads.  And of course, since it’s an alien robot costume, there are lots and lots of googly eyes.

robot alien shirt for VBS!

robot alien shirt for VBS!

robot alien shirt for VBS!

I sized the base panel to cover the screen printing on one of B’s red T-shirts, and while I had a phone meeting that afternoon, I hand-basted it into place!  B was so excited about his robot shirt, and it made the work worthwhile!

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Well, another week of VBS is in the books!   We had a crazy-and-fun time again this year, and of course, I couldn’t resist coming up with headwear (and sometimes more…) for each of the nights’ themes.  You know that I love costumes of any kind!

We tried to color-coordinate the themes to the kids’ class colors (because of course, I need to make it more challenging!).  B was in the “Lil’ Red Rockets” preschool group, and V was in the “Galactic Green” kindergarten class.  Husband and I did a little bit of pre-planning and a tiny bit of advance work, but most of these were developed on the day itself…  I intended to do headbands for V and myself again (since they worked out so well last year), and my friend P gave the awesome suggestion of decorating a ball cap for B!  My headband for the week, upon which I based all of my crazy decorations, was actually a cover (made from THIS pattern–I’ve made countless headband covers over the years!) that I sewed from the hot pink bandana that we wore to designate ourselves as the snack team.  I also made a quick ruffly clip with more strips from the bandana to embellish the headband even further– I also used this clip to help stabilize and attach some of the pieces.

My friend J gave us a hand-me-down red hat that we used for B’s headwear.  It had a team logo on the front, but I used my VBS iron-on logo and turned it into a patch to go over it.  I ironed the logo onto some heavy-weight cotton, which I had interfaced with fuseable interfacing.  Then I satin-stitched a border around the logo and cut it out close to the outside edge of the stitching.  I hand-basted this “patch” onto the front of the hat, and I think it turned out really cute!

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Monday night was space night.  I really, really wanted us each to have a rocket launching over our heads…and these creations, made from cardboard toilet paper tubes covered in paper with tissue paper flames, turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected!  I managed to rig them up well enough, though!

rocket selfie!  VBS day 1 (space theme)

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Tuesday night was super hero night.  Husband and I brainstormed a few superheroes that had a signature color that coordinated with each of our kids’ group color.  We chose logos, and I used my Silhouette to die cut or print-and-cut those logos from cardstock.   In keeping with the bobbing-above-the-head tradition, I mounted them on wire and attached them to each kid’s head.  B’s was mounted on his hat, and V’s wrapped around her hair bun.  I’ll show you my superhero contribution in a future post…(I couldn’t think of any hot pink superheroes that had easily-recognizable logos, so I went with an apron!)

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Wednesday night was color night– each kid dressed in their VBS T-shirt (a plain colored shirt with the iron-on logo affixed to the front), and I broke out the hair mascara from a few Halloweens ago and went to town on their hair.  The kids LOVED having their hair colored!  Vivian also wore a little ruffly hair clip I made from fabric scraps, and I painted her fingernails with green polish!

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Vivian with Galactic Green hair

Thursday night was pajama night.  I liked the moon-and-stars idea that I’d done last year, so I just modified the attachments I’d made for V and myself.  For B, I cut out red stars from textured craft foam and made a white felt moon (a red moon felt a little too grim!).

pajama night for VBS!  I made moons and stars for us to wear on our heads

pajama night for VBS!  I made moons and stars for us to wear on our heads

Friday night was create-your-own alien night.  By the end of this crazy week, I thought I was clean out of ideas (we also had our upstairs hall bathroom remodel begin on Wednesday morning, and on Friday morning, they needed to cut into my craft room ceiling for some plumbing work…)  However, some ideas came together at the last minute!  I’m going to do a separate post about my son’s outfit, but I’ll show my cute aliens off here, too!  B was a red robot alien, and V was a green sparkly alien!  We combined an old Tinkerbell dress-up costume with a sequined jacket her sparkly alien costume, and I made antennae eyes with pompoms and green mesh, which we attached to her hair buns with wire.

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In the background this summer, behind and amongst all the other projects I’ve been working on, whether shared on the blog or not, I’ve been attempting to finish up my son’s photo-a-day baby album.  The last time I posted on my blog about this was when he was about seven months old!  You can see all the posts related to this album by clicking HERE.

I have to say, I’m proud of myself for how well I kept up with the daily documentation in this album.  By the time he turned one year old, I had a card written for almost every single day, and I had photos chosen, if not printed, for each of those days.  However, I wanted to do more with the album than that.  There were a lot of huge, big, and smaller events, celebrations, and moments that I wanted to highlight with extra inserts, and that’s what I’ve been working on this summer.

I thought that after the thrill of success with my China album in Finish-it-February, I would be able to hit the deadline of my son’s third birthday in late June, but this project is quite a bit bigger…

in progress: B's photo-a-day baby album

Throughout June and July, the two binders that compose this album project have been out on my craft island, surrounded by extra cards, embellishments, and notes.  I had some of my extra photos printed already, but the vast majority of these extra inserts needed to have photos chosen and their configurations planned.

I’ve been going through the album page by page, methodically noting where I need additional “stuff”.  You can see in the photo above that I’m making notes on tiny scraps of paper and slotting them into page protector spots, or even sketching out whole inserts and attaching them to one of the rings as a placeholder until I have the photos printed…and I even need to get my hands on some more page protectors.

I am about 3/4 of the way through the album with this process, and I have prepared over 100 4″x6″ prints so far– and many of them are a collage of more than one photo!  Once I’ve gone through the entire album, I will place my order with Persnickety Prints, and then I’ll go back through the album again to finish all of the pages.

The other bit thing I need to do to finish the album is to add title cards for each week (with the date) and in the case of most weeks, I also need to add a filler 3″x4″ card.

Maybe I’ll have it finished by my son’s fourth birthday!  Let’s hope!!

In lieu of a garden this year, we’re container-growing bean plants that my kids started in a library class.  When last we saw the plants on the blog, they were tiny but fast-growing!

I’ve been keeping a bit of a photo record of them over the past month or so…Believe me, this is nothing scientific– just a photo whenever I remember to take one 🙂 It’s fun to see how the plants have grown.

bean plants today!

June 6

the bean plants today

June 14

the bean plants today

June 16

the bean plants today

June 29

 

the bean plants today

…and we spied flowers on June 29, too!

The kids were SUPER delighted to harvest their first beans on July 9.  We got three– one green, one purple, and one yellow (a wax bean??).

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First harvest! Three beans on July 9

Every day when we come home and get out of the car, the kids now rush over to the bean pot, which is just outside the garage, to check to see if there are any new beans for harvest.

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Sometimes they are a little bit over-eager (we’ve lost a vine or two to vigorous and non-traditional harvest methods), but I love how excited they are to pick beans– and then eat them!  They’ve decided they like them best when they are cooked, so I will heat some water in a tiny frying pan to blanch the beans for the kids.

 

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This idea has been marinating in my brain for a while… I’ve had this red-rubber cling background stamp (Hero Arts “Chinese Thank You”) for years! (It is actually the only large background stamp that I own. ) I got it as a free gift with an order I made at Two Peas in a Bucket way back when I was in graduate school.  I’ve used it a few times, and it is quite beautiful.  I remember asking one of my Chinese friends to translate it for me– she told me that it says things like “Thank you from the heart,” “Thanks,” and expresses a feeling of being honored and of gratitude.

Recently, I wanted to make a really special thank-you card, and I thought it would be the perfect time to try the finger-blending technique again.  This time, my main inspirations were a rainbow snowflake card by Kalyn Kepner for Paper Smooches and this gorgeous and gigantic set of cards in a post by Jennifer McGuire.

I simply white heat-embossed my background onto white cardstock.  I’m so grateful to Husband for getting me a Mini MISTI for Christmas!  It definitely helped me make sure that I had a good impression with the embossing ink for the powder to cling well.

Then I got out my colored pigment inks and went to town, using just my index finger to add and blend the colors.  Yes, I certainly could have used blending tools, but I don’t have enough for all of my colors, and my finger easily cleans off with a baby wipe to be ready for the next color!

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I had a lot of fun making color combinations, and in the end I had four backgrounds.  I heat embossed my sentiment onto colored cardstock strips to pop up on the background with foam, and then I added some iridescent sequins for a bit of sparkle.

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I mounted each card front onto a white cardstock base, lining up one edge flush with the card’s edge, and leaving a white border around the other three sides.  I love, love, love how these turned out!