Thursday, March 15, 2012

Treasury Thursday

Dear Friends,
Welcome to Treasury Thursday!
I had so much fun creating my last Etsy Treasury that I thought I might start a new feature on this blog. This week's treasury is called "The Birds are Back in Town," a tribute to one of my favorite animals.

Have you seen any robins yet? I have not. I did hear a strange and new song being sung in my neighborhood on Monday. However, identifying bird songs is not my strong suit. I should get one of those books that have buttons you can push and little recordings built in!

Another sign of spring: the crocuses are back! A few have popped up in my front yard.

Happy Spring! Get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!

See you again soon!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Busy busy busy...

Dear Friends,

I hear this little voice from childhood in my head, a cartoon character who is saying, "Busy busy busy!" I cannot for the life of me recall who it is (though I suspect somebody from "Frosty the Snowman.")

Anyway, that's been me, this past month. It started with my participation in A Month of Letters (or lettermo), a challenge to send at least 24 pieces of snail mail during February. Well, I did it! Whew! I sent mail to friends, relatives and total strangers. Sometimes I enclosed a little piece of art. Sometimes the recipient wrote back, which was a nice surprise. I have to admit, it was getting tough toward the end. But I did it!

I also got called to serve my fellow community members. Yeah, you guessed it--jury duty! After three days of sitting and reading "The Flight of Gemma Hardy" by Margot Livesey (which I highly recommend), I was sent home. This is the third time I've been called, and the third time I didn't make it to a jury. And they say third time's the charm? Hmmm...

I've also been busy with my web page design class at our local community college, and with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's 30 Days in Your Journal class (you'll find a link at right). This is something else I highly recommend. I've taken several journaling classes, some online and some "live." Some were great, and others were "meh."

Julie's class is really wonderful! I think the most important thing I'm taking away from it is this: You don't have to do a whole journal page or spread in one sitting. You can just prep a page, or rubber stamp something on it and scrawl a few lines, or glue something down. It doesn't matter--it is your journal and it's a no-guilt process. Even if you don't get to journal everyday, hey, it's OK! Julie has a sense of humor and she's not afraid to use it, and her attitude toward mistakes is terrific. I'm not even sure I'd call them mistakes at this point, since just about anything can be fixed.

Here are some of my pages from her class:

For this page, I used stencils, rubber stamps, watercolor, water soluble crayons, some Glaze pens, some old drafting tape from a newspaper, and Faber-Castell markers. That's my dad's mom and her mom on the right, taken around World War I, I think.
Very basic and quick page done with watercolor wash and splatters of color. I stenciled and rubber-stamped the numbers for the dates.
I stamped the big circles using that very versatile art tool, a toilet paper roll! The rubons are from 7 Gypsies (love their rubons!). The picture of the boat was left over from a graphic design project I did in the fall--I just colored it in with pencils. I wrote under the postcard to keep my message private. The postcard features work by Kevin P. Snow and Betsy Havira.
I love that girl from Paper Whimsy. She has turquoise eyes! Watercolor, washi paper, stenciling, water-soluble crayons, rubber stamping and gesso. 

I'm considering taking a class from Judy Wise, and toying with the idea of 21 Secrets. Do you have a favorite artist who is teaching an online class? Feel free to share with me! I am always looking for new classes!

Next time I write, I will have some news for you. Good news, at last! In the meantime, I hope you remembered to turn your clocks forward, and don't forget to look forward to spring!

All the best,

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Send Me a Postcard, Drop Me a Line

Dear Friends,

Do you love getting snail mail? I certainly do! And I love sending it too, and anticipating the surprise on the recipient's face when he/she receives a totally unexpected piece of mail that isn't a bill or junk mail.

That's why I've signed up for A Month of Letters, a project begun by Mary Robinette Kowal. I used to be quite the snail-mailer, back in the early 1980s. I had several British pen pals, and got at least a letter a day at times. I miss those days.

Sure, I love Facebook, and getting e-mails. Sometimes there's a definite need for a quick response to a question and only e-mail will do.

But I also love getting real letters. And I adore collecting old postcards, some of which served much as e-mails or phone calls do today.

Postcards weren't just of the "wish you were here" variety. They were used to make arrangements for upcoming visits, to let a loved one know about one's health, or simply to inquire about a friend's life.

I've been collecting postcards all my life. One of the most interesting ones I have reads: "Dear Papa, Mama is feeling fine and looks better. We are going to Mag Smith's to-day. Had a big cave on Chestnut Street Sunday. No. 16 school went down and the German preacher's house and a number of others. Bertha."  

The card was mailed from Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Mr. Dan Barth, Bay City, Michigan, and is (sadly) undated. I've always wanted to look up the old Scranton papers and see if there's a record of a school falling into what must have been a mine cave-in.

I've also created my very first Etsy Treasury, which features all sorts of goodies for letter-, card-, or postcard-writing. I hope you enjoy looking at it as much as I've enjoyed creating it. to stop myself from buying some of those lovely items...

If you're feeling like stretching your writing muscles, sign up for A Month of Letters. And feel free to send me a postcard, drop me a line...anytime!

Stay well, stay warm!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Everybody's Doing It

Making New Year's Resolutions, that is!

Dear Friends, First, let me wish you a very Happy New Year! I hope 2012 brings dreams come true, hopes realized and wishes granted!

That famous philosopher, Anonymous, once said, "A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other."  I know I have made many resolutions in the past, and let those very resolutions slip away quietly into the night.

But I went ahead and made some this year anyway. I have not taken a single walk yet (my excuse is it's too cold and dreary) so I suppose I'm breaking them already. The thought is what counts, however, and I am sharing my journal pages for January 1, 2012 with you.

Edited. Ahem.

1. Be more self-reliant. Care less about what people are doing and saying about their lives on Facebook. A friend recently reminded me, "Facebook is not reality."   I need to use my time to create art and enrich my own life instead of watching what others are doing.

2. Cultivate a sense of community. I've never been a "joiner," but maybe it's time to look around and see who else is out there. I also have wanted to start a mixed-media art group in my area, but I've been dragging my feet about it. It's been hard to find a good meeting place that will allow for a possible mess, have running water nearby and not charge a large rental fee.
3. Walk, or at least get out of the house everyday. *see above

4. Count your blessings.

5. Control your temper. 'Nuff said.

6. Strive to accept people for who they are. This could be a tough one. I need to remember that people are not here to live up to my expectations. After all, I have always craved acceptance and love--doesn't everyone?

7. Make one piece of art per week for your Etsy shop, or shops. I have joined a special group on Etsy just for that purpose and goal.

8. Write good blog posts. Use your blog to practice writing skills.

9.  Find a job you like. This may be easier said than done. I have been trying for a long time to find a job (even one I may NOT like). We all know that while the economy may be improving, it's still slow going.

10. Take more classes and practice your graphic design skills.

11. Clean up the house. Recycle on a regular basis. OK, I know I joked about hating housework back in July. It's a dirty job, but somebody's gotta do it. 

12. Cook every now and then. Soup, maybe? We'll see about this one...I'm rather out of practice and can't remember how to slice an onion. Luckily, they make these great frozen packets of vegetables, with onions already sliced up inside!

Here is the spread in its entirety. I created it using Twinkling H2Os, Tattered Angels Glimmer Mist, chalk ink sponged through a plastic doily, washi tape, Ranger's Ice Stickles, angels from Jolee's, and some cardboard doily cut-outs I found on sale at Joann's. 

Well, here's to 2012, and to new beginnings!

What are your resolutions for the New Year?

Stay well, and stay warm,