It’s All You Need

Yesterday I made this altered playing card for Valentine’s Day. Save for a small token of the occasion, my husband and I never do much to celebrate, and I wanted this card to cut through all the commercialism and convey a simple message in a rather stark way. It’s a rare departure from my usual flowery style that I found quite refreshing!

all-you-need-is-love-altered-playing-cardThe starting point in decorating these cards is always the same: scuffing the surface lightly with fine sandpaper to remove the glossy plastic coating. Naturally, I chose the Queen of Hearts for this one! Then I rubbed in some acrylic paint in a gunmetal colour. Although you can’t see it in the photos, it has a subtle metallic sheen, like worn stainless steel, which represents not hardness, but rather the strength and resilience of heart we can all find in tough situations if we dig deep.

I made the heart using water-soluble marker on drawing paper, then flicked on drops of water (for the tears we sometimes shed in love). The rest of the card is aged using distress ink in Black Soot, but I left the heart pristine to represent the fact that, if we choose it, despite the occasional scar, we can remain young at heart.

The hand-stamped quote, layered on top of grey washi tape, is, of course, courtesy of John Lennon. Although I tend toward pessimism, I like to think that he was absolutely right.

A few bits of ephemera finish off this Valentine: a love letter, a butterfly symbolizing love taking flight, and a reminder to always cherish and take the utmost care of whatever love you have.

altered-playing-card-reverseFor other cards in my Wee Book of Whimsy playing card deck, see here and here.

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day!

Not Playing with a Full Deck!

altered-playing-cardsHere are two more pages from my altered playing card deck. (If you missed the first one, you can see it here.) Only 49 more to go! Can I get the full deck done by the end of the year – and will there be enough room for them all? I don’t know, but it’ll be fun to try!

paris-altered-playing-cardEach card contains something that resonates with me, whether it be the entire theme or one or two small details. I’m calling this particular one “Meet Me in Paris”, since visiting the City of Light has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.

Ah, Gay Paree! How many other noms de plume do you know for the city? The area was inhabited long ago by the Parisii, a Celtic tribe; when the Romans conquered in 52 BCE, they called their new settlement Lutetia Parisiorum – a name surviving to this day in numerous Parisian street and business names as Lutèce. By 400 CE, the town was known as Parisius, which eventually became Paris. It’s referred to as la Ville Lumière (The City of Light) as it served as the centre of the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th and 19th centuries and because it was one of the first European cities to install widespread gas street lamps. Paname, a slang word for Paris, evokes the hats favoured by Parisian men in the early 1900s – and the city’s role in the 1892 Panama Canal corruption scandal. A centuries-old attraction to and inspiration for artists has bestowed the nickname the City of Art. And, because Paris has a reputation for romance, it is also known, naturellement, as the City of Love.

french-altered-playing-cardI tried using watercolours on this card, but they curled the paper badly, and there was no appreciable effect. A small dab of undiluted acrylic paint, rubbed into the sanded surface with a finger, works much better to create an aged background. Here is the back of the card; the bee with wreath is an old French emblem.

altered-playing-card-sewingThe next card was fun to do, using a couple of free graphics printed on my computer, and bits and pieces from my craft supplies, including a button sewn on with embroidery floss.

I wanted to reinforce the two punched holes in each card, but I was unsatisfied with the white or clear reinforcement stickers available on the market. Happily, I found a neat little punch from Michaels that makes ¼” hole reinforcements, so I can easily create protectors out of any paper or light cardboard to match or contrast with my designs.

altered-playing-card-book-coversAnd here are the inside front and back covers, using the Joker cards and showing the 1” binder rings which will hold the collection together. I think I’m going to call it my Wee Book of Whimsy or some other such silly name.

Altered Playing Card

Exploring other ways of using collage and layering, this is my first attempt at making altered playing cards. I had an oversized 3.75” x 5.5” deck of cards that I’ve been wondering what to do with – how about a 52-page book, each “page” decorated in a different way?

The materials I used for this card were: 120 grit sandpaper, two shades of acrylic craft paint (Fawn and Avocado), paper towel, scrapbooking paper, glue stick, two shades of distress ink, washi tape, a page torn from an old paperback, and botanical stickers.

aged-playing-cardFirst, I lightly scuffed up both sides of the glossy plastic card with fine sandpaper. This creates a surface with “tooth” to give paint and other media something to adhere to. Then, to “age” the card, I used my finger to rub a thin layer of sepia-toned paint into both sides, removing the excess with a damp paper towel.

altered-playing-card-collageNext, I glued on a piece of torn scrapbooking paper with an old script pattern as the background. I decided to add some green paint in the upper left corner to tie in with the forest-y stickers I planned to use. Then more aging with Tim Holtz distress ink in “Vintage Photo” and “Walnut Stain”, applied directly to the paper from the ink pad and with my finger, especially along the torn paper line and the edges and corners of the card.

altered-playing-card-reverseI added green paint and distressing to the back of the card, too, for a mossy, time-worn patina.

altered-playing-card-forestThe next step was a strip of washi tape underneath a torn scrap of a book page. The tape creates a backdrop for the print and helps it “pop” from the similarly-coloured background. And finally, I love these translucent stickers which allow what’s underneath to show through.

mushroom-altered-playing-cardEt voilà — the first page of my altered playing card book is done! Well, almost — I’ll use a punch to add a couple of holes down the left side to accommodate the metal binder rings which will hold the book together.

It Was a Blue Letter

blue-junk-journalAnother Sunday, and time for a new junk journal spread. The last month or more has been challenging, as I continue to devote most of my energy to caring for a loved one in need. There was no Christmas for my family, and everything’s been somewhat of a blur. The good news is that the outcome will (eventually) be positive. The down side is that it’s easy to become exhausted and a bit blue when routine is disrupted and there’s little time for leisure or self care. This new journal is helping to keep me on course.

detail-blue-junk-journalPerhaps that’s why I chose “Blue” as the theme for today’s entry. Blue is also my favourite colour. There are so many beautiful shades: aquamarine (my birthstone), azure, cerulean, cobalt, cornflower, cyan, denim, indigo, midnight, navy, periwinkle, powder, robin’s egg, royal, sapphire, sky, teal, turquoise, ultramarine. There’s even an intriguing one called zaffre, a deep cobalt earth pigment used since the 16th century to colour and stain glass.

Whatever the shade, the colour blue is thought to help ease anxiety, slow the body’s metabolism and instill a sense of calm and peace. No wonder it’s the world’s most popular favourite colour! People who prefer blue are likely to be sensitive and reliable, seek harmony and always make an effort to think of others. Stability is very important for blue lovers.


Credit: Pantone

When the world seems to be going off the rails, we need as much soothing serenity as we can get. It’s not surprising that the Pantone Color Institute has chosen “Classic Blue” as its 2020 colour of the year.

Now to the journal: the spread’s background consists of lyrics from popular songs with “blue” in the title. How many can you recognize? I’ll give you one: the last verse of Joni Mitchell’s song, Blue, from her 1971 album of the same name. I love the poetic melancholy of these words:

Here is a shell for you
Inside you’ll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby
There is your song from me

junk-journal-blue-detailWishing you sapphire skies and denim dreams!

January Journal: Hot Tea Month

junk-journal-tea-monthDid you know that January is National Hot Tea Month in the U.S.? Why should they – a country of coffee drinkers – have all the fun? I hereby declare January to be international Hot Tea Month!

I’m celebrating my favourite beverage with a new junk journal spread. I feel like there’s a lot going on in this one (maybe too much) but I had fun snipping lots of little bits from old issues of a beloved magazine, Victoria – which is guaranteed to offer afternoon tea vignettes galore.

tea-junk-journalIn keeping with the tea theme, I also used some pinked cotton fabric with a feminine rosebud pattern for the title background, paper doilies, tea bag string tags and wrappers, an old postage stamp from India showing a field worker “plucking tea”, brewing instructions, and more.

junk-journal-teaI think my favourite element is the tea bag-shaped cardstock tag which I découpaged with floral scrapbook paper, stamping and ransom-note style letters. (I managed to avoid using my handwriting for the entire spread.) The other side has a Victorian teapot stamp on it, and I aged the whole thing with distress ink. I used the same ink on the tea wrapper pocket to reduce its shininess.

Are you a tea lover, or do you prefer a jolt of java to get you going? (My family, friends and co-workers all know that my mantra is Hocus pocus, I need tea to focus.) No matter what your favourite caffeine delivery system is, here are some statistics that might interest you:

  • The top three tea-drinking nations are Turkey (3.1 kg – that’s 6.9 lbs – per capita per year), Ireland (2.2 kg) and the United Kingdom (1.9 kg). Canada ranks 20th, at 0.5 kg per year.
  • Finland is the top coffee consumer, drinking 12 kg of joe per person per year. Canada ranks 10th (6.5 kg), the U.S. is 25th (4.2 kg), and the UK is 45th (1.7 kg).
  • China is the world’s top tea exporter; Brazil exports the most coffee.
  • Monaco has the most branches of Starbucks per capita, followed by the U.S. and Canada.
  • December 15 is International Tea Day, observed since 2005 in top tea-producing countries such as India and Sri Lanka to address the issues of living wages and fair prices for small tea producers.
  • October 1 is International Coffee Day, launched in Milan in 2015 by the International Coffee Organization.

Time to put away the scissors and glue, and go brew a cuppa!

Junk Journal Journey

junk-journal-contentsI’ve been toying with the idea of starting a junk journal for some time, but have been daunted by all those artful examples on Pinterest – and the fear of “messing it up”. (The notebook I chose for my journal has non-removable pages – and I hate my handwriting.) But with the start of a new year, I figured there was no better time to take the plunge.

What is a junk journal? Similar to scrapbooking, it’s the process of upcycling and repurposing found, usually printed, materials such as magazines, newspapers, old books, photos, ticket stubs and other ephemera into a journal. A junk journal is a mishmash of the “junk of life”, and can be anything you want it to be: a diary, memory book, travel log, gratitude journal, planner, record of one’s thoughts and inspirations, favourite quotes, etc. There’s no “right” way to do this, and one size definitely does not fit all. In short, your junk journal can be anything you want it to be!

junk-journal-colour-swatchesSince the idea of junk journaling is to reuse found objects or materials collected from your daily life, I’m determined not to lay out a lot of cash for this project. I did, however, make a couple of investments to get started – the most obvious being the journal itself. (I prefer the idea of filling a ready-made book rather than assembling my own.) I chose a Feela A5 (6” x 8”) Dotted Journal that came in a kit with a few other supplies such as pens, stickers, stencils and some washi tape. Its pages have a subtle grid of dots that are handy for lining up script or images, and they lie flat when open – important for creating those journal spreads. (Binder clips can help with this, too.)

january-junk-journalI suppose I had a head start on what to decorate my junk journal with, as I already have quite a collection of art materials, paper ephemera and postcard-writing supplies. Here is a short list of my stash:

scrapbooking papersstickerswashi tapeused postage stampsTim Holtz ephemera packspaper tags & labelsold magazines, books, catalogues & advertisingrubber stamps, archival & distress inkcotton fabric, lace, ribbon, embroidery floss, twinevarious types of gel pens, alcohol markers, fineliners, highlighters, watercolours & pencil crayonspaper scissors, glue, ruler

detail-junk-journalNot surprisingly, I decided on a vintage theme for my junk journal. These are the first few pages; I still want to decorate the blank end papers, and I have one more spread done that I’ll show you soon.

If you have a bullet, junk or art journal that you’d like to share, I’d love to see it!

Window into December: Black Creek Pioneer Village

christmas-at-black-creek-villageWe end the year of Wild Daffodil’s Windows photo challenge with a holiday bounty of images – most of them containing windows – from an excursion to Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto. My husband and I, who hadn’t visited since our school days, spent a leisurely weekday there when it was crowd-free and quiet. (We did encounter a couple of small and very well-behaved school classes.) The day was grey and damp, and a dusting of snow lingered from a recent storm, but inside the buildings, each demonstrating what mid-19th century rural life was like for families, tradespeople and farmers, fireplaces were stoked and lamps were lit, tables were laid for Christmas dinner, trees were decorated with handmade ornaments and gifts, and each door and window donned swags of evergreens and flowers from the gardens.

Black Creek Pioneer Village is an open-air heritage museum consisting of over forty authentic buildings, some original to the site, and others moved or rebuilt from elsewhere in the province. A massive collection of artifacts and period furnishings all accurately re-create Ontario village life in the early to mid-1800s, with the help of costumed history interpreters and craftspeople. Since we had the place virtually to ourselves, we enjoyed one-on-one talks with several of them, learning about tinsmithing, dressmaking and housekeeping, printing, weaving and more. Please join me as I take you ’round the village. Wild Daffodil … keep your eyes peeled! (Buildings’ original Ontario locations and dates of construction are given.)

black-creek-pioneer-villageThe first building you see when you walk through the gates is the workshop of the village tinsmith (1850, Woodbridge).

tinsmith-trade-signI have a thing for whimsical antique trade signs, and this one fits the bill nicely.

black-creek-tinsmithBeing somewhat of a magpie attracted to shiny things, I was really taken by the tinsmith’s handcrafted wares. This fellow gave us a demonstration of tin punching and explained why these storm lanterns are so effective. Oh, how I wanted to take one of them home!

punched-tin-starsMore of the craftsman’s work. Many items made onsite, including those lanterns, are available in the gift shop. The lantern wasn’t destined to be, but I did purchase a couple of small tin ornaments with a punched floral design – beautiful in their own right!

broommakers-workshopThe broom maker’s shop (1844, Sherwood) is located within a square log building which may have been the first school in Maple, Ontario.

black-creek-doctors-houseThis very knowledgeable interpreter taught us about the upper middle class life of a village doctor. His comfortably-furnished house (1830, Brampton) has a separate entrance for a two-room medical practice. In the waiting room, an 1866 notice shows that an office consultation (with or without medicine) cost fifty cents; house calls charged by the mile. Minor operations such as removal of tonsils or finger amputations cost from four to ten dollars. “Capital” operations such as cataracts, tumour removal or major amputations cost a whopping fifteen to fifty dollars!

doctors-house-kitchenI love the attention to detail such as the flowers and herbs hung to dry in the kitchen of the doctor’s house.

pioneer-christmas-feastA pineapple for Wild Daffodil! The doctor’s dining room is set for a sumptuous Christmas feast. Pineapples were rare and expensive to buy, so it was possible for the more well-to-do family to rent one for special occasions.

black-creek-village-cooperageThe rustic simplicity of the Taylor Cooperage (1850, Paris). A display inside offers barrel-making equipment including a steamer for bending wooden staves.

inking-the-printing-pressThe Black Creek Printing Office (1850, Kettleby) is fascinating. There are many fine examples of presses and typesetting equipment, plus reproductions of period broadsheets and advertisements, all printed on site. Here, the printer rolls ink on the press before stamping out a flyer for us.

black-creek-printing-officeWe even had a brain-taxing opportunity to try our hand at typesetting using a mirror as a cheat, since each letter block is backwards. Obviously, this beautiful example wasn’t typeset by us!

printing-office-deskI was drawn to this lovely window tableau in the print shop. You can just see the doctor’s house across the lane.

roblins-mill-black-creek-villageRoblin’s Mill began its life in Ameliasburg, Ontario in 1842 and operated as a gristmill until 1920. The five-storey building with its original timbers, flooring and machinery was dismantled and reassembled when Black Creek opened in 1960.

bootmakers-workshop-black-creekAnother delightful trade sign, at the doorway of Daniel Flynn’s Boot & Shoe Shop (1858, Toronto). The workshop is filled with leatherworking tools and wooden shoe lasts of all sizes and styles.

laskay-emporium-black-creekImagine coming to buy dressmaking cloth, buttons, thread and lace, dry goods and patent medicine, a handmade broom, blanket or basket, a leather powder horn or a hat, spices and other sundries at the Laskay Emporium and Post Office (1845, Laskay)!

black-creek-village-post-officeBeing an avid sender of postcards, I was naturally drawn to the post office and telegraph located inside the Emporium.

weavers-workshopThe weaver’s shop (1850, Kettleby) contains a functional Washington flat bed press, a Gordon press and a flying shuttle loom; mats and rugs made here are available to purchase. This young lady had her banjo with her and treated us to an impromptu folk song!

halfway-house-innA quiet corner in a guest room of the Half Way House Inn (1849, Scarborough). The Georgian style structure is typical of taverns common in southern Ontario prior to Canadian Confederation in 1867.

antique-lockAn old lock guards the gates of the Townline Cemetery, which opened in 1845 and saw its last interment in 1927. Daniel Stong (1791-1868) and his wife Elizabeth, who emigrated from Pennsylvania in 1816 and eventually built two houses, a church and school on this site, are buried here along with other pioneers.

clydesdales-black-creek-farmAn 1860s stable on the grounds of Burwick House (1844, Woodbridge) shelters farm animals such as these hard-working Clydesdales. These friendly beasts power the wagon rides offered to visitors at certain times of year. (Sadly, not while we were there.)

We saw many more buildings and took oodles more photographs, but alas I must conclude the tour here. I hope you enjoyed your visit to Black Creek Pioneer Village as much as we did!


The saddlery was originally built in North York in 1845.

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