Gather Memories Layout for SCT

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Spring 2017 issue of Scrapbook & Cards Today magazine is now available to view and download (for free, I might add!) on the website! Here is one of the pages I made for this awesome publication:
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DESCRIPTION: My task was to create a spring layout featuring stitching! I then went a step further and filled in the stitched elements with watercoloring which really makes the colors of thread pop!
JOURNALING SAYS: We had such a fun afternoon walking around the beautiful flower-filled hill-top city of Assisi in Italy. Pausing for a rest from the sun in the shade of a lovely church. So blessed!
HOW TO: Draw the "Dear Lizzy Floral Card" design onto white cardstock using a pencil and the poke a hole every 1/4" around the design. Backstitch through the shapes using lots of different colors of thread. I tried to match colors with the Gather collection by Maggie Holmes for Crate Paper. Once all of the stitching was finished I mixed watercolors to match and filled in all the shapes. I created a cluster of embellishments for a photo mat on the bottom right corner and printed my journaling right on the photo.
SUPPLIES: Cardstock, adhesive: American Crafts; Die cuts, stickers: Gather by Maggie Holmes / Crate Paper; Floral cut file: Dear Lizzy; Die cut machine: Silhouette Cameo 3; Thread: DMC; Font: Remington Noiseless; Watercolors: Loew Cornell
PROCSS VIDEO: Watch how this layout was made from start-to-finish:

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I've also got a 2-page spread I'd love for you to check out in the current issue of SCT:
Be back soon with more scrappy goodness!

Mdina, Malta

Sunday, March 26, 2017

After a fun morning walking around Valletta we then spent the afternoon exploring the ancient hilltop walled city of Mdina.
Luckily for the kiddos there was a playground right by the parking lot. I know I say this every time, but I need to compile all of the pictures of them on playgrounds from around Europe!
The citadel of Mdina was fortified from as long ago as 1000 BC when the Phoenicians built a protective wall around their settlement which was called Malet. When they Romans came they expanded this city and renamed it Melita. The town was once again renamed in the 9th century when the Arabs arrived and called it "Mdina" from the Arabic word medina meaning "walled city." Side note: we don't watch Game of Thrones, but there was a walking tour going on pointing out the sites where scenes were filmed around here.
In medieval times, Mdina was the favored residence of the Maltese aristocracy, but when the Knights of St. John arrived in Malta the city sank into the background since the knights were largely a sea-based force and moved the capital to Valletta.
Today, with it's massive walls and peaceful, shady streets, Mdina is a world away from the hubbub of modern Malta.
Colorful doors and intricate knockers.
St. Paul's Cathedral is built on the site of the villa of Publius, the Roman governor who welcomed St. Paul to the island in 60AD.
The original Norman church that once stood here was destroyed in an earthquake and this beautiful Baroque replacement was completed in 1702. Jane's "smile" smile on the left and her "normal" smile on the right :)

The nickname of Mdina is "The Silent City" and it suits this peaceful, tranquil place.
We loved poking around the atmospheric back alleys.
There are some exquisite architectural details hidden throughout the city.
Plus, the city's location perched on the hill top offers sumptuous views over Valletta and out to sea.
Jane and Chris taking it all in.
I love the pops of red. Even the car matched. :)
Outside the walled town is the recently rejuvenated Mdina Ditch Garden.
Check out how many flippin' pinecones are in this tree!
The sunken area around the city walls was an important part of the city's ancient defenses. In recent years, however, the walls were overgrown with ivy and vegetation and the ditch was filled with citrus trees. 
In 2015 the ditch was cleaned out and the restored bastions now gleam splendidly. 
The kids having fun protecting the city with a couple of the cannons.
Looking back at Mdina.
Clips of our time in Mdina. It was very windy :)
Our family in Mdina, Malta on Saturday March 11th 2017:
The next day we went all around southeast Malta!

Valletta, Malta

Saturday, March 25, 2017

We had planned a trip to Malta back in the fall but it didn't work out with our various schedules so we pushed it back to March. The long wait was absolutely worth it!

We drove back down to the Munich airport where we had just driven home from three days earlier from our trip to Birmingham.
Our gate was in a quiet, seemingly abandoned part of the airport we never knew existed.
The Air Malta people were super nice and let the kids check out the cockpit of the plane and chat with the pilots. First time I've ever been in the cockpit of the plane we've flown! So. Many. Buttons! Freaks me out.
Flying over the Swiss Alps for the 2nd to last time (the last time was on the way back - always so beautiful!).

After about an hour and a half we spotted the Maltese Islands in their entirety!
Malta's location in the middle of the Mediterranean has made it an alluring and much fought over prize throughout history. As a result, it has layers and layers of cultural influences throughout the island.
Chris' dad always says that if you look up and see blue skies and palm trees then life is good. I agree! As soon as we stepped off the plane we felt the warmth and sunshine lift our souls!
We've never seen an "M" for Malta plate on the mainland of Europe!
For the first time we splurged on an airbnb - I just wanted a nice and relaxing place with a view and found an amazing location across from Valletta. Usually we are dirt cheap and find the most inexpensive places we can - we figure we can tough it out for only a night or two. But I didn't want to tough it out this time!
Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, unbeatable views from every window, high ceilings, open floor plan, probably more square footage than our current home, induction stove, quiet, 16th floor with an easy and large elevator (so rare in Europe!), clean, new, updated... I could go on and on! I highly recommend staying at this place. Plus, on our last night, we got to see bats flying around on the balcony! Maybe some people would find that freaky but we LOVED it.
Chris surveying the view over Sliema from our apartment balcony.

The view off the back balcony towards Valletta. 
Manoel Island in the Marsamxett Harbor.
The Mediterranean Sea.
The pool wasn't open for the season yet so it sat there below us as one big blue tease. The kids were heartbroken as we'd been promising pool time :( Gotta read those fine print details in airbnb listings!
After checking in with our host and getting settled we headed out to The Point shopping center built into this cool old colonnade. 
Looking up amidst the urban sprawl.
Our second legit mall in as many weekends? Crazy! We found a grocery store and stocked up on some provisions, explored around this area, then turned in for the evening watching the beautiful sunset out the windows. 
The next morning we hopped in the car for the short drive over to Valletta proper. 
Blue skies and palm trees once again!
We found a parking garage just outside the city gates and passed by the Monument to Christ the King on our way to the old town.
In recent years the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano has revamped various aspects of old town Valletta, including the city gate. The new gate echoes the dimensions of the original 1633 entrance and completely did away with the 1960s gate. Piano's architecture is stark and modern with a gate framed by a pair of 25m high metal blades.
The new bridge gives visitors the chance to admire the old moat and fortifications of the city.
Piano's breathtaking new parliament building is immediately after his gateway and was completed in 2014. The design includes two massive structures of stone that almost look suspended in air and have machine cut openings to lighten their appearance.

Just beyond the parliament is the Royal Opera House. Built in the 1860s, it was destroyed by a German air raid during WWII in 1942. The gutted shell of the once imperious building was left as a reminder of war and now acts as the framework for the Renzo Piano designed open-air performance space. Unique!
Neat three dimensional sculpture on the Pjazza de Valette. 
Architectural details.

Sweet Jane in front of the fountain on Pjazza Kastilja. 
A statue of the town's founder and namesake, Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette. | The Maltese flag waving in the wind.

Such a pretty city with amazing vibes.
Spray painted Jesus. | The Palazzo Castellania which houses Valletta's law courts.

The British ruled Malta for 150 years from 1814 to 1964 and traces of that heritage are still found. Since cars were invented during that time period, the Maltese also drive on the left side of the road and use British outlets. But the currency is Euros. A wee bit of an identity crisis, no? :) :) :)

Our cute kiddos. If you look behind them on the right side you can see an example of the Maltese Balcony, or gallarija (the green windows sticking out). First seen on the Grand Master's palace in the late 17th century, these enclosed balconies became very popular and are a unique aspect of the island's architecture.

Up close and personal view of the gallarija.
A pleasant square near the cathedral in the center of town. Charming!
St. John's Co-Cathedral, Malta's most impressive church, was built between 1573 and 1578 and served as the communal worship spot for the Knights of St. John who ruled the island for hundreds of years.
The rather severe exterior of the building hides an exuberant Maltese baroque interior that is incredible.

The floor is a colorful patchwork mosaic of marble tomb slabs of many prominent knights of the order.

Two gorgeous Caravaggios are found in the Oratory, but alas, pictures weren't allowed.

Roads sloping down to the harbor from the center of town.
Garden. | A Maltese Cross in an iron railing.

We peeked into the courtyard of the Grand Master's Palace that was once the residence of the head of the knight's order. After Malta's independence in 1964, this building was home of the country's parliament until it was moved into the spiffy new building in 2015.
Knobs and knockers.
Our last stop in the city was at the Upper Barrakka Gardens to "ooh" and "aah" at the views of the Grand Harbor.

My guys.
The Newport area of the Grand Harbor.
Pretty building with some classic Maltese balconies.
Republic Street at high tide.
One great aspect of where we were staying was that it had gorgeous views across Marsamxett Harbor to Valletta. So, after exploring the town itself (and our next stop of Mdina) we walked down to the harbor front in Sliema.
It was a gorgeous evening and we enjoyed watching the waves in the harbor and admiring the view of the capital city.
Love locks with my love.
Cute kiddos. They're built in besties.
6 minute video of some highlights of getting to Malta and walking around Valletta:
Our family in Valletta, Malta on Saturday March 11th 2017:

I HIGHLY recommend a trip to Malta! I only wish we had had 1 more full day to explore the island of Gozo, even though and very very sadly, the Azure Window collapsed literally three days before our visit!
Paige Taylor Evans © // Quinn Creatives DESIGN