Monday, January 30, 2012

And they're off!

Shannon at Musings on Realities is currently hosting an international postcard swap!
For the swap, we each made ten postcards to send out into the world by February 20. 
Today's post is a gallery of the cards I sent to my swap partners.
I used the painted tags that I posted about earlier (created in response to Dina Wakley's Creative Jump Start idea), and then went a little crazy with additional rub-ons and stitching to complete each card.  Some included lace and ribbon, as well.
I went to the post office this morning to get them out, and now the cards are on their way to various U.S. states, as well as Scotland, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia.
And hopefully some beautiful mail art will be on its way to me very shortly!
It is so fun to know that the mail over the next month or so is likely to hold something much more exciting and beautiful than a bill or a Clipper magazine!
I sewed the fronts and backs of the postcards together with the sewing machine, rather than gluing them together as I usually do.  This meant that my less-than-tidy stitching lines showed up on the back.  I actually thought it added a pretty touch of color!
Many thanks to Shannon for organizing this fun swap!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Creative Kismet

Regina of Creative Kismet just held the most wonderful and generous sale at her Etsy shop in celebration of her birthday, and I couldn't resist doing a little shopping.

The word kismet means "fate" or "destiny," and understanding that makes me love the name of Regina's blog and Etsy store even more!

I chose a print that I plan to frame and hang in the kitchen near the sink:
I also chose a print that I plan to frame and hang either in my girls' bedroom or my own craft room:
Finally, I chose a necklace, whose charm is made from a Scrabble tile (love that!) embellished with one of Regina's beautiful creations:
My older daughter is constantly asking me about the image:  whose hands are those?  whose house is that?  why is the house holding flowers?  She is so curious about this beautiful piece of art!
Many thanks to Regina for sharing her creativity through her blog, and through the art available in her Etsy shop.

This Etsy shopping could definitely become a habit!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sometimes "Life" Comes Before Art

I've been a little quiet out here in Blogland.  I haven't been spending much time on art-making--not even pages in my art journal.  But my life and mind have been busy nonetheless.

I am reading my nature books, and spending a lot more energy noticing the beauty of the natural world...even in the midst of the barrenness of wintertime.

I have also started a new project with my daughters:  Each day, we read a Bible story from their Read and Learn Bible and do a craft or activity along with it.  I am not making the activities up from scratch; I have some great resources to draw from, including Cindy Jackson's Bible Activities, and Kathryn Nider Wolf's Bible Arts & Crafts. 

We had such a neat time with this today.  We tied together two little plastic bowls with yarn, and tucked in a napkin and a toy:  baby Moses in his river basket! 
I laid down blue painter's tape on the rug to create the Nile River, and the girls continued to act out the story long after I had put their Bible away. 
When else would you hear your little girls running around the family room, saying, "You're Jochabed, and I'm, let's go play in the Nile River in Egypt!"  That alone showed me they had learned a lot today.

Here, I asked them to show off the rainbows they made from paper plates (along with cotton ball clouds) the other day after we read about God's promise after the floods receded and Noah's Ark returned to dry land:
It is so gratifying to hear the girls ask for their Bible story and activity every day, and to talk about some aspect of the story over the course of the day.  It is a fun and natural way to build some Biblical literacy and help us to talk about our religious beliefs daily. 

How else have I spent my time that could possibly take me away from my "arting"?  My siblings-in-law have been here visiting from California, so we have spent time together at Longwood Garden and enjoying meals and visits together.  I've joined a health club, and had my first meeting with a personal trainer to feel less intimidated by all those fitness machines (though all I really want to do is run around the track a couple times a week).  I've gone to my Bible study, as well as a Girls' Night Out with some other moms.  I took Katy to an audiologist to determine if she has any hearing problems (which she doesn't; just learning to tune out her mom well before the teenage!). 

So that accounts for the past five days, which have been busy, fun, and interesting, but sadly "art-free."  I haven't been feeling guilty though, because it has been time so well-spent. 

I'm just now getting that "need to get back in the game" feeling, though, so I think I'll be headed toward my art supplies very soon.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nature Girl

Thank you so much to those of you who left sweet "blogoversary" comments on yesterday's post!

I know that bloggers are not *supposed* to care about how many comments they get or how many followers they have, but I'm sure I am not alone in feeling energized and uplifted by positive visitors and their willingness to share their thoughts with me!
Today I enjoyed the unprecedented pleasure of a day alone, in peace and quiet.

My husband took the girls to his aunt and uncle's house, to visit with his brother and sister who are in from out of town.  He graciously agreed to give me some "alone time," which added up to almost five hours!  I was almost giddy.

I made a quick stop at the craft store (because, of course, that's always the first thing I do with some free time), and managed to get out of there spending less than $9 (again, unprecedented!). 

Then I headed to the library to pursue my latest project...nature!
In reading Last Child in the Woods (mentioned in my last blog post), I was feeling terribly uninformed about natural science, so I hit the shelves and got several books from the children's section.  I find that when I want to start reading about a topic that feels unfamiliar, it is helpful to start at kid-level, and then work my way up to the more complicated texts aimed at adults.  There is a lot less pretension and complexity in the kid texts; I can tackle that in the grown-up books once I'm sure I'm really ready to pursue the topic!

I spent a long time in the afternoon reading through the books, happily discovering that I am not nearly as ignorant of the major facts of natural science as I had feared!  It helps to see all the information presented in one place, though, so I can think about fun and interesting things to share with my girls when we are out in nature together.  And, don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of new information for me to soak up, too!

Wanting to "put my money where my mouth is," as they say, before I hunkered down on the sofa to check out my new library books, I pulled on my snow boots and headed down the street on a little nature walk.
There is a little park with a playground down the road that I have taken the girls to only a couple of times.  In the summer, I make all kinds of excuses because of mosquitoes and mud and safety issues related to poor visibility from the road.  In the middle of winter, none of these things is an issue, so I headed down to the park to see if it might be a fun place for the girls to do some nature exploring outside of their own backyard.
Look at this place!  Can you believe that I've been missing out for six years!
Look at the enormous trees dwarfing the playground equipment.  Complete with a babbling brook, this little park is truly an oasis in the middle of suburbia.

I absolutely love the sound of running water, so when I heard the sound of the creek rushing past the rocks, I took a little video so I could share the sounds with you.  Sadly, I can't get it to upload to my blog, so I guess a little more research is in order!  You may be lucky, though:  You might have gotten dizzy!  I panned around a lot, so I could get the full effect of how this place sits right in the middle of a suburban residential area.  I now know to move the camera around a bit slower!  Maybe I will be able to figure out how to share videos in the future.

I will be making a return visit to this park soon, you can be sure!

I saw this little guy in a neighbor's yard during my walk:
Craft store, nature walk, reading, nap....and then two girls and a husband, happy to see me when they returned home...a very happy winter day!
If you haven't seen me around in the Comments section of your blog lately, and I usually show up there once in a while, it is because I am getting frozen out of a LOT of comment pages recently. 
Either the page freezes, and I have to restart my computer,
or I am taken off to a white page, and nothing ever appears. 
I am not ignoring you! 
I am continuing to read and enjoy all of my usual blogs,
but there are several that I haven't been allowed to comment on. 
I hope this will clear up SOON!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy Blogoversary to Me!

Yesterday marked my first blogoversary--one year that I have been faithfully maintaining this blog to track my adventures in creativity! 

Go ahead...go back and read that first post from January 20, 2011!

It took me three tries to get this blog going, and I am so happy that the third time was the charm.  As I've said many times, I have been so gratified to make online friendships with some of the most creative and generous people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. 

I have also found that the blog has helped to fuel my creativity.  Some people have commented on their blogs that they are dismayed to feel at times that they are creating simply to have something to post to their blogs.  I understand that feeling...I have felt it myself.  But the positive flip-side of that feeling is that sometimes, when I'm not so likely to spend a free moment in the studio, thinking about this blog gets me up there, gets me sorting through the project files, gets me digging into the magazine and blog inspiration.  And, at the end of the day, because I love creating, that makes me happy!
Over the last month, I've been reading some books with a common theme:  The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule, I Love Dirt! by Jennifer Ward, and Last Child in the Woods:  Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. 

I have never been an outdoorsy person, and have always been called a "houseplant" by my parents.  But it has become very important to me that my girls have opportunities to grow to love nature. 

I have been putting a lot of my creative energies into getting them outside, so they can observe and enjoy the wonders of nature.  It comes naturally to them; it is me who needs to make a concerted effort to get out there!  I always love it once I'm out there, loving the sun, the breeze, the snow, whatever it is I encounter.  It just takes a little extra effort to get me out there!  I feel like I'm getting just as much benefit from it as they are...a second childhood.

I am thinking that it would be fun to write an article or a book (or a section of a larger book) about spending outside time with your kids, geared especially for moms like me, for whom "outdoor time" does not come so easily or naturally!

This morning we woke up to find the earth covered in a fresh blanket of snow...beautiful!  The girls were literally jumping up and down to get into their snowsuits and get out to their snow saucers.  We went out in the freezing rain, and had an amazing morning of snow play:
The ground was slippery enough for the girls to slide down our little hill without even a push!
Saucer wipe-out in the bushes!
Michael does the hard work; I just scattered the "ice melt" around on the driveway.
You can tell by my sleepy eyes that it is only 8 am!  We got the morning off to a fast and furious start!
Thank you to those of you who have shared this last year of blogging with me, and to those of you who will spend this new year of blogging with me.  May we enjoy many days of creativity, inspiration, and nature in 2012!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

More Rolodex Collages

I'm back to the small "canvas" of Rolodex cards for my collages, and I feel like the whole process has finally "clicked" for me.
It's getting easier not to agonize over every little word and image choice.
It's getting easier not to worry about "too much" or "too little" on a card.
It's getting more and more fun to watch colors and images and themes fall together among the scraps on my table.
It's getting easier to "get over" the cards I don't end up liking as much.
And, as always, I value a project that lets me use all of the bits and scraps that I can't resist saving from catalogs and magazines.
I keep saying I'm *almost* ready to join in on the Rolodex swapping craze going on out there.
Now, I think I really am!
If you like to alter Rolodex cards, too, and would be interested in swapping, please send me an email at, and we can make arrangements!
Another place to swap is over at Artist April Cole's website for Rolodex card trading.
I see that Swap-bot has several groups set up for Rolodex card swapping, but I haven't quite figured out how to navigate the site to see if there is anything going on currently.  I found most of their old swaps by searching "Rolodex swap" in Yahoo.
A very inspiring place to visit to learn more about altering Rolodex cards is Patty van Dorin's web site.
If you click on "Scrapodex" in the left-hand column under "Categories" on Patty's page, you can see all the entries she has written about the Rolodex cards she has both created and received. 

Something I noticed about Patty's cards:  Rather than creating whole collages on each card, she truly does make it a showcase for pretty scraps.  A card might contain one pretty image or a few attractive scraps, quite often stitched.  There is great appeal in approaching the Rolodex project like that, instead of feeling any "requirement" that each card hold its own complete collage.  Just something to consider!

Happy Rolodex scrapping! 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Clothespin Confession

Is it weird that I like clothespins so much? 
(And it has nothing to do with laundry, I can assure you!)

Is it weird that I own clothespins in four different sizes?  (The very biggest--six inches--are missing from this photo, but can be seen above.)

Is it weird that I spend time with them, decorating them and making them look pretty?
Is it weird that I take photos of my clothespins to share with you?

Well, confessing my "weird" is my clothespin confession!

Now it's your turn:  What weird little object fascinates you?

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Nod to Organization

This week, Julie Balzer has been featuring blog posts about organizing art and crafting spaces.  She has shared her strategies, featured guest posters, and offered some questions and assignments to get the rest of us thinking about our own systems.

I shared a few of my organizational strategies when I blogged about my new craft room, dubbed Studio 791.

My latest "nod to organization" is a decorated box to use for storing my slowly but steadily growing collection of decorative tapes.
Did you see the awesome boxes Anthropologie was giving out during Christmas 2010?  Well, it only took me a year to finally do what I intended to do the moment I laid eyes on that box:  I made an artful playdate out of embellishing the heck out of it, with paints, rub-ons, image transfers, catalog images, postcards, and tapes.
I will be the first to admit that it turned out a bit "busy," but it's fun and colorful, and covered in interesting things to look at, so it makes an artful addition to my creative workspace.
And it offers me plenty of tape storage:
At least for now!

Here's hoping that your Friday the 13th didn't live up to the hype!  Have a blessed and creative weekend.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Friendship in the Mail

One of the greatest benefits since getting this blog underway at the beginning of last year has been the online friendships I have developed through swaps, challenges, online courses, and blog comments.  I have "met" some of the most creative and generous people I have ever had the pleasure to know! 

One of those creative and generous people is Karenann, a blogger and Rolodex card-alterer, who surprised me a few days with some friendship in the mail:
She always sends her correspondence in decorated airmail envelopes (love!), and this time she sent me these wonderful labels to use on my own correspondence, Rolodex cards, and art journal pages. 

I immediately made use of some of them to decorate an envelope of paper goodies that I am swapping with Orit in Israel, as part of La Wendula's January paper swap:

So many thanks to Karenann for this unexpected treat!

Another bit of friendship came in the mail from April Cole.  At the beginning of the month, she posted about an inspiring little project she was working on with a free downloadable bird graphic, some vellum quotations, and pretty striped paperclips.  She offered four of her creations in a giveaway to the first four people to comment.  I came in well after four comments, and she still sent me one of her treasures!
April always impresses me with her generosity and optimism!
Happy Thursday!