Mar 21, 2018

Didn't See This Coming

Just when you think your life is on an even keel, life throws you a curveball.

You get through the finale of This is Us, survive heart surgery, endure a pulmonary embolism, accept that your retired husband is going to clear the kitchen counter 17 times a day (where's that spoon I just put down?), and then - BAM! - you learn the devastating news that Ranger discontinued its line of Distress Stains.** Of course, Ranger still sells Distress ink pads, paints, crayons, grit-paste (??), markers, glaze, sprays, sprayers, and cole slaw, etc., but no stains.

Do you know why they discontinued the stains?

Me either.

Despite this setback, I managed to use a tiny bit of my now to-be-hoarded Twisted Citron Distress Stain to make this card.

Embossed the beautiful image from Reverse Confetti's Something Wonderful onto white linen cardstock and then just ran that dauber over the image. No paintbrush, no water, no mess because of the STAIN THAT NO LONGER EXISTS.  5 seconds and done. But soon those days will be over.


Still in shock...

** The stains are still being sold in some places. Buy now or else.

Mar 20, 2018

Reverse Confetti & MISTI Hop

Welcome! If you are following this blog hop, you should have come from the talented Kelly Lunceford's blog here.  If you are new to my blog, I post easy-to-make cards and life stories. If you are not new, a thousand thanks for coming back!

I'm all Reverse Confetti lately, particularly since this post is part of a blog hop/collaboration between Reverse Confetti and MISTI and because Reverse Confetti keeps making stamps I love. 

I've made several cards using products from both companies, but I'm only posting 2 of them today. You can see the others here, here, here, and here


Two lucky commenters from the hop will win one of two prizes: a $60 shopping spree at My Sweet Petunia and a $60 shopping spree at Reverse Confetti. To be eligible, comment no later than Sunday, March 25, 11:59 pm central time. The winners will be announced on March 27th on the Reverse Confetti and My Sweet Petunia blogs.  (Hey, I just won a pretty big prize from a blogger, so go for it!) 

1. Stamping a Background

I'm terrible at putting together individual stamps to make a nice bouquet, so when I saw the gorgeous Banner in Bloom set I was all over it. 

Stamped a simple pattern with the cluster of flowers from Banner in Bloom** and colored with alcohol markers. And by "colored" I mean I stayed in the lines. (The beauty of small images is that that is pretty much all you have to do.) Using the MISTI meant that I could carefully place the image exactly where I wanted it and could restamp if the image didn't come out clean the first time.

When I was finished with the card, I sat back and said "I need more Reverse Confetti stamps," and promptly placed an order for the Tall Blooms stamp and die set** I used in the next card.

2. B&W With a Pop of Color

Painted watered down Mermaid Lagoon Distress Oxide ink onto a white linen card, using as little water as possible. 

Stamped the sentiment from Tall Blooms. Die cut and stamped this pretty sprig from that set using the MISTI. I die cut a few more and glued 4 dies cuts together, tied some twine around them, and adhered to the card. Fast, simple, easy to mail. 

Blog Hop

Cannot wait to see what this talented group has made.

Joan Bardee -->  me
Lydia Fiedler --> thank you for inviting me to the hop!

**Disclosure Reverse Confetti sent me the Banner in Bloom stamp and coordinating dies. I purchased at full price the Tall Blooms stamp and coordinating dies.

MOOD WHEN DONE: I stamped; therefore I am happy!!

Mar 19, 2018

Stencil Embossing

Put a Hero Arts Bold Floral stencil through my Big Shot with an embossing mat and dry embossed. Came out great, so -- of course -- now I want more $tencil$. 

Blended Distress Oxide inks onto the card (Wild Honey and Abandoned Coral). Using softer colors and a different sentiment and this could make a nice sympathy card.

Stamped a sweet sentiment from Reverse Confetti Posted Notes (which does not appear to be available any more), and added a few black Nuvo drops. Trimmed and popped up on a white card.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Been spending a lot of time crafting, which is always a good thing. My husband is running around organizing and decluttering our house but he's banned from my craft room so, so far, we remain married!

Mar 18, 2018

Used Math to Make This Card

People, I had to use MATH to make this card!! And if you know me, you'd know that is problematic! It's a miracle I got through learning long division without a calculator. Actually, in my last job I had to use math. I pretty much just had to multiply, add, divide, etc. using a calculator, and would still get it wrong. Darn decimal points. Good thing there were smart people around me.

Trimmed out the XOX from the Reverse Confetti Big Notes set. Yes, I cut a stamp. Then I cut 5 strips of cardstock to exactly 3.75" x just a tiny bit more than 1". Using the seriously incredible MISTI, stamped XOX 5 times in Versamark and embossed in white. I'm about 3 years late to the ombre trend, but I still like it.

Adhered to a piece of 3.75" x 5" cardstock and then popped up the panel on an A2 card.

And then I said to myself, "now who is worthy of this card?"

MOOD WHEN DONE: I'm stamping like a crazy woman and ignoring the piles of crap accumulating in my stamp room and the dirt in the rest of the house. In other words, things are great.

Mar 17, 2018

Green on Gray

I found a piece of pale gray textured paper in my stash (no memory of getting it!) and decided to pair it with dark green and white.

The Altenew Evergreen ink came out almost black when stamped on gray, but I love the look with the white Nuvo accents.  The leaf image and the sentiment are from The Stamp Market's Succulent stamp set. 

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Happy! I sent out a bunch of cards last Monday and over the course of the week I heard from the recipients. Such good feelings all around.

Mar 16, 2018

Totally Graphic

A friend of mine, a doctor, was explaining to me how hard doctoring is nowadays. She hates sitting in front of the her computer checking boxes and not looking at her patients. She hates arguing with insurance companies and hates being pressured to see more and more patients. She's tired.

She told me that she rarely gets a thank you card from a patient, but loves when she does.  So, I said to myself, hey cardmaker, how about making and sending a thank you card to your doc?

Whenever I'm sending a card to someone who isn't crafty, or doesn't already tolerate my crafty cards, I want something homemade, but not too crafty. I hope this makes sense.

So I did what I always do when I'm stuck, and stole an idea from someone else.

In this case, I stole this great card from Almost Makes Perfect.  I didn't want to just print it out, so I used Altenew's Invisible Alphabet Set to make my own. After I made the black and white one, I used various Distress Oxide inks to make a rainbow colored version.

If you want to create something like this, plan it out on a stamp positioner or block, and stamp a sample on scrap or copy paper to make sure you like where each letter is placed. Otherwise, super simple.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Fantastic. Having a good week and looking forward to a simple weekend. Hope yours rocks.

Mar 14, 2018

Hello There, Friend (and an Update)

Haven't been blogging much, so I thought I'd share this card and a little of what's going on in life.

I love this typographic Reverse Confetti set, Big Notes. This is a one layer card that took about 10 minutes.

1. Stamped in Versamark and embossed in white (preheating the heat gun for a good 20 seconds really does help eliminate warping).
2. Masked off the lines of the sentiment (using 3M Post-it Adhesive tape) and blended Distress Oxide inks (as shown in pic) over each line.
3. Turns out that the embellishments included in an Altenew card kit matched the ink colors perfectly, so I added a few enamel dots.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Delighted!

The past few weeks have been a bit of an adventure. After Mike retired we spent a week in Florida, soaking up some lovely warm sunny weather and eating out all week. When we returned, I noticed my heart rate started slowly going down. Over a period of 3 weeks, it dropped 20 points. Google convinced me I needed a pacemaker. Then I started getting really short of breath going up the stairs, my ankle got a little swollen, and I gained 6 pounds. My clothes were so tight. I chalked up the weight gain to vacation.

Finally, Mike suggested I notify my doc and I was surprised to learn that I had retained so much fluid it was affecting my heart and lungs. Could I be a bigger dope?  My mom went through congestive heart failure episodes dozens of times, and if you read my blog back then, you know that I was there in the ER with her every time. I just didn't put the pieces together for myself.

Taking a diuretic for a few days did the trick and I felt so much better. My heart rate went back to normal, I lost the 6 pounds and I could walk up the stairs with no issues. Yeah!

But, I was upset. There's a blood test (BNP) for heart failure and I knew that my numbers got progressively worse over the past year.  So I had a meltdown over the weekend, convinced I was really sick and thinking about how soon Mike was going to need to find a new wife. Because, you know, google makes me crazy.

I had another BNP test yesterday and was thrilled to learn that my numbers had improved dramatically! Turns out that the surgery improved the heart failure, but the trip to Florida and the 7 days of eating out just added too much sodium to my diet (restaurant food is crazy high in salt). 

So the drama is over (hopefully for a long time) and I'm swearing off google. 

For now. 

Mar 11, 2018

Anniversary Card

Neat & Tangled  Anniversary Card  Floral Wreath

This gorgeous stamp and die is from Neat & Tangled's Floral Heart. It's worth the $$ to get the coordinating die. Would love to see a Christmas wreath version of this set.

Colored with Altenew Alcohol Markers and some Wink of Stella (on the flowers).

The floral wreath is popped up on 5 layers and sits on Ranger white woodgrain paper. Happy to see that I could get a clean image for the sentiment on paper with that much texture.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  This was my anniversary card for Mike. I lucked out on that unseasonably warm and sunny day in March so many years ago. We were married in St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington DC -- a tiny wedding in a huge church, but so beautiful.

And now I'm off to get on the treadmill!

Mar 6, 2018


Someone I know could use a bit of happiness in the mailbox and these bright colors should help.

Masked off parts of some Neenah Solar White cardstock and blended in some Distress Oxide inks. They blend so easily! Ranger just came out with more colors and I am coveting them, but so far I am resisting. Stamped the sentiment from one of my favorite sets, Essentials by Ellen Up the Happy.  The card still needed something, so I added some pink and black dots. Trimmed the panel and popped up on an A2 card.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Well, happy!  Thanks so much for the comments on my last post. I tried to respond to each of them, but for some reason I wasn't able to respond to all of them. I'll try again later. 

Feb 28, 2018

Birthday Love

This card is for my husband. It was so hard to photograph that I took a closeup to try and show the gold. And embossing never gets old...

1. Drew a heart in pencil on watercolor paper. Thought about tracing a heart die but decided on a free form heart. Covered with an anti-static pouch.
2. Stamped a sentiment from the Stamp Market in Versafine Onyx.
3. Embossed with clear powder.
4. Painted the heart with water and let dry partially.
5. Painted with Warm Lipstick, Abandoned Coral, and Candy Apple Distress Oxide inks. I just rubbed the ink pads on an acrylic block and picked up with a damp brush.
6. Let dry and erased the penciled in heart.
7. Added Gold Acrylic paint from Target.
8. Added speckles from Nuvo Black Crystal drops, gold, and Warm Lipstick ink.
9. Felt like it needed something. Added washi tape, removed washi tape. Pondered and eventually left it alone.


As the years go by, I'm enjoying using fewer products on my cards. Pretty soon I'll be sending out just envelopes! I feel like I finally found my style. It may not be trendy, but I am enjoying trying out new things.

And on a personal note, my husband retired from the Federal government last week. Of course whenever anyone retires, people say nice things. The nicest thing I heard during his retirement party was that Mike is an honorable man, who always was fair and honest. So proud of him.

And on a more personal note, I learned a few weeks ago that my heart surgery was not 100% successful. Sigh. So in a burst of pity, I impulsively bought a Silhouette Cameo (I know that makes no sense!).

Since then, I've gone through anger and depression and have come out on the good side of gratitude. I'm still better than I was before surgery, and moving forward enjoying my life. I'm not letting this get me down. Now, I just have to learn to use the Cameo... .

Feb 23, 2018

Balloon Duo Stencil from Neat & Tangled

The Balloon Duo stencil from Neat & Tangled (paid full price/no affiliation) is a great little product. It's inexpensive ($6) and easy to use.
Miriam Pratner designed this set of stencils. She's got a great eye for design!

The trick to using these stencils is keep them straight (if you want your balloons to go in the same direction). Also, don't put the edge of the stencil, with a partial balloon, in the middle of a page (lesson learned...).

I stenciled the front of the card with Distress Oxide inks onto Neenah Solar White cardstock, stamped the greeting from a Mama Elephant Birthday Wishes set, and added some color coordinated sequins.


Feb 16, 2018


Another card with just paper, ink, and stamps -- my fave. The small butterfly is from The Stamp Market's Papillon set. The sentiment is from Waffle Flower Crafts Balloon Messages.

Stamped the sentiment first and then a burst of butterflies (all my butterflies face up because in my world they should...) in Memento Tuxedo ink onto white linen cardstock. Colored some of the butterflies with Altenew alcohol markers Blush and Rouge. I hope to do a review of these markers soon. (And "soon" can mean anytime within the next few weeks!).

Here's a close up.

Since the alcohol markers bleed through the linen cardstock, I adhered the panel to an A2 card.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Why does it still feel like Friday when I haven't worked in almost 3 years?  Regardless, it is an outstanding feeling! Have a great weekend!

Feb 15, 2018

Hero Arts 2018 Catalog Blog Hop and Giveaway

Welcome to the Hero Arts 2018 Catalog Blog Hop! I'm thrilled to be part of it.

The 2018 Catalog rocks. Check it out!  Details on the hop itself and the prizes are at the end of this post.


I chose to work with Abstract Skyline Bold Prints. Love it because it's modern and graphic and different from anything else I have. Sometimes I have to step away from the flower patch...

I paired it with sentiments from You Are Loved Messages. 100% of the profits of this messages set go towards fighting bullying. Got to love that.

1. Foggy Card

For the first card, I wanted to create something that looked soft and a little like fog as it went up to the sky.

Blended Distress Oxide inks onto the white embossed design and then trimmed the panel. Flicked some water and added a few raindrops. Hint: blending on Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper is a lot easier than anything else I've tried.

2. Acting Like an Artist

Then I wanted a colorful, modern, abstract look. Put a small dab of yellow and magenta gouache paints on a craft mat and "painted' the stamped image with the edge of an old parking pass (the hard plastic kind that hangs off your review mirror).

The first time I tried it, the gouache covered up too much of the black lines. Toss. (I could have restamped the image after applying the gouache if I had a MISTI big enough to do so.  So, I mixed a tiny bit of water it into the yellow gouache with the parking pass, and applied it to the card, and then added some magenta. As I pressed down with the parking pass across the image, the paint spread thin and the colors mixed.

I love how the color changed as I added the magenta and played around with the parking pass. Used linen cardstock as it is very white and holds up quite well to gouache as long as you don't add a lot of water.

3. We Are All One

I stamped the image on water color paper, painted with Distress Oxide inks, lifted off most of the paint with a paper towel, and trimmed to get a different skyline.


I also chose this set primarily because I "had" to have the giraffe!

1. Too Long -- Get It?

2. Awwwww

And, finally, a non traditional love card. Black "grass" is from the You Are Loved Messages set linked above. Yes, I know the giraffes appear to be walking on top of the grass. My giraffes are magical.

If you got this far, thanks!!!

GIVEAWAY! Hero Arts is giving away three $50 shopping sprees, drawn from comments left across all blogs in the hop. Please comment by Thursday, February 22nd at 11:59pm PT.  Hero Arts will announce the winner the following week. Good luck!

MOOD WHEN DONE = ***Grateful to Libby at Hero Arts for inviting me. I haven't done anything like this for awhile and it was fun.

Feb 12, 2018

Laurie and Ly: #theytoo

I saw a lot of battered women*** when I worked in legal aid. A lot. One was Laurie (not her real name) who showed up with green and blue and yellow bruises covering her freckled skin. But what I remember most was Laurie's eye -- I didn't think it was possible for an eye to look like that.

Laurie's husband had beat her up. The ER called the police and her husband was arrested. It was the city's job to prosecute her husband; my job was to explain this to Laurie and discuss her options (divorce, etc.). Laurie could leave him or stay with him. The courts and the police were not going to provide security for her. She'd be on her own regardless of her choice. There were no battered women's shelters then, so I advised Laurie that if she left, she should do so when her husband was not around, as leaving can enrage the abuser. I also told her that no one deserved to be beaten.

Laurie decided to press charges and to leave her husband. This was unusual. Many of the women I counseled returned to the men who had promised them love only to beat them, hoping and believing that they would change. And who knows the other reasons -- lack of options, fear, depression were all probably part of the mix. It's complicated.

So I was thrilled that Laurie was leaving and I told her I was proud of her. Laurie used the 13 hours that her husband was in jail before being released to pack and move out. Laurie worked as a waitress -- she had no savings, so she moved in with her sister.

Laurie's husband left the jail, got in his car, and went home. When he got home and saw Laurie was gone, he got his gun, drove to Laurie's sister's apartment, and shot Laurie. Two weeks later, Laurie died. They played Louis Armstrong singing What a Wonderful World at her funeral. I still cry when I hear that song.

I grew up fast after that. Every time I saw a woman who was being abused, I feared for her life. I never urged them to go back, or to leave, because I was afraid I'd say the wrong thing. I was no longer thrilled when they left. I just explained how the system worked and didn't work. I would handle their divorce if that is what they wanted, but I stayed neutral. I never thought I was responsible for Laurie's death, but I didn't want to put my finger on the scale again.


John (not his real name) was in the US army and, went to Viet Nam to fight in the war. John met Ly (also not her real name), in Saigon. They fell in love, married, and settled in Northern Virginia.

Fast forward a few years and John and Ly had 2 boys. John moved to Texas, leaving Ly and the boys behind. Ly came to see me because she wanted child support from John. Ly worked in an office but made so little that she qualified for legal aid.

There's a legal process now for dealing with child support across state lines, but back then it was much more difficult, and for many, impossible. We went to court in Virginia and got a court order giving Ly custody of the boys and requiring John to give Ly child support every month. All Ly had was a court order, but no actual child support.

I really liked Ly. She was tiny, but a firecracker. Ly told me fascinating stories about growing up in what was then called South Viet Nam. It was noisy and hot and crowded. Nevertheless, she wanted to go back and visit so that she could see her parents, but doubted that would happen. She loved living in the US ("This place is a dream. The streets are clean and there is so much food around here. No wonder everyone fat.")

In the meantime, Ly wasn't about to give up on getting child support. I contacted the legal aid office in the town in Texas where John was living but they declined to take the case. When I told Ly, she said: "How do I get my money?" I told Ly that the only way was to go to Texas and fight John in a Texas court. Ly left my office frustrated and angry. She had 2 small boys and no resources to fight John in Texas.

About 4 months later, Ly came back to see me. John had sent her plane tickets so that the boys could visit him over Christmas. The boys were 4 and 7 and she wanted them to see their father so Ly had sent them to Texas. Ly was back in my office because John refused to return the kids. Even though Ly already had a valid custody and child support order from Virginia, John went to court in Texas and got custody. (There are laws now that limit parents who live in different states from doing this).

Now Ly was really angry. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but he isn't keeping my kids." There was no history of abuse between this couple, so I didn't worry. Nevertheless, I urged caution. Ly responded: "What do you want me to do? Sit back and let John keep my boys? Not going to happen."

About two weeks later Ly was back in my office with her kids. She told me what had happened.

Ly got on a plane with her Virginia custody order and found John and the boys living in a fairly remote area. There were no neighbors around. Ly banged on the door. John came out and punched her in the face and went back into the house. Ly banged on the door again, screaming for the kids. John yelled for her to go away. Ly refused. John came back out with a gun and threatened her.

Ly got in her car and found the Sheriff's office. Ly had a bruise starting to show on her face and her Virginia court order. She demanded that that one of the deputies rescue her kids. Amazingly, two deputies drove Ly back to the trailer and extracted the kids, even though John showed them his Texas custody order. Within an hour, Ly and the boys drove to the airport and took the next flight back to Virginia. I don't think Ly ever understood how lucky she was to get out alive.

We went back to court in Virginia and Ly told her story. The judge loved it. He was impressed because women just don't get on planes and get sheriffs in Texas to get their kids, particularly when all they have is a Virginia court order. The Judge revoked John's visitation rights. John wasn't sending child support, but Ly decided not to pursue collection. ("I learned a saying in America. I quit while I'm ahead.")

I hadn't done very much for Ly, but at Christmas I found a box of gold earrings on my desk, 4 one hundred dollar bills, and a thank you card from Ly. Our office had a policy of not accepting gifts from our clients, and my clients certainly didn't have that kind of money. Ly refused to accept a return of the gifts, telling me it would dishonor her.

I don't know where Ly got the earrings or the money, but after discussing with my boss, we donated the money and the earrings to a silent auction for a nonprofit that was raising funds to create a battered women's shelter. It seemed a fitting place for these gifts. I went to the silent auction and saw a lot of lawyers, social workers, judges, doctors, and others raising funds for the cause. Everyone wanted this to happen and it did.

Laurie had no good choices. Ly didn't appear to have any choices, but she took action, and, luckily, got back her kids and survived to tell the story. I'm glad that, in some ways, things have changed since then. We have shelters, counselors, and a lot more awareness. But, sadly, there are still many, many Lauries and Lys. We still have work to do.


If you need help, or suspect that someone else does, please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you think your phone is being monitored please don't use your home or personal cell phone. I've included a link to the organization but if you think your computer use is being monitored, please do not click on the link. The link will tell you the following:

Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224. Users of web browser Microsoft Edge will be redirected to Google when clicking the “X” or “Escape” button.

*** I'm aware that some women batter and kill men, and that most men are even more reluctant to report it than women are. They need assistance as well, although their issues are often different.

I'm also aware that, particularly in the middle of custody and divorce proceedings, some people falsely accuse each other of all sorts of horrible things. That's not an excuse for ignoring the overwhelming majority of truthful complaints.

Feb 8, 2018

With You

I've had this beautiful Mondo Hydrangea set from Essentials by Ellen since it was released. I've used it so much that I had to wash it today to get back the stickiness. But I never posted anything with it until today. Finally, I made a card with it that I like.

This was stamped on Strathmore Bristol smooth paper (very white and very smooth) and colored with some Altenew alcohol markers.  Die cut and adhered the flower and then added a sentiment and some hearts from Hero Arts' You are Loved Messages.  Disclosure: I did not pay for either stamp set or the die (but love them both!).

I'm entering this in the February Ellen Hutson Mix It Up Challenge, which is to mix Hero Arts with Essentials by Ellen products.

MOOD WHEN DONE = It's a cold and sunny day -- perfect for staying indoors and stamping. And now I'm off to tackle the treadmill!

Jan 31, 2018

Party Animals

This couldn't be simpler. Paper, stamps, and ink -- my favorite kind of card. (Of course, there's also the paper trimmer, $cor Buddy, the MI$TI and the cloth to clean the stamps and the Storage for all of these and the room to put them in, but that's the hobby we love....)

All stamps from Studio Calico's Party Animals (no longer available but there are many similar sets out there). Distress Oxide inks: Candy Apple, Abandoned Coral, and Worn Lipstick. Altenew black ink (came with a kit and is great.)

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Now I want to party! Oh, and thanks so very much for all the wonderful comments on this blog. I read every single one and appreciate them so much.

Jan 29, 2018


I had a problem. Although she was 25, Mary, my client, couldn't read and didn't have a telephone, and I needed to tell her the date of her court hearing.

What Mary did have was a TV that she had rented. Unable to afford the $300 purchase price, Mary signed a contract in which she agreed to pay $12 a week to rent the TV. If she made all the payments over a 2 year period, Mary would own the TV.

In case you don't have a calculator handy, Mary had agreed to pay $1248 over 2 years for a TV worth $300. By signing the contract, Mary also agreed that if she got behind in her payments she would owe, you guessed it, $1248. Did Mary know what she had signed? No, but she wanted a TV and $12 a week sounded good.

Mary came to see me because, after making 47 payments, she had missed one $12 payment and the rental company filed suit against her for the full $1248. It's been over 30 years but I'm still angry about that contract.

In Virginia, the fact that Mary could not read the contract she signed was irrelevant because she was an adult and had the capacity to take care of her own affairs. However, I planned to argue that the terms of the contract were "unconscionable" -- basically the terms were so outrageous that they "shocked the conscious" and, as a matter of public policy, the court shouldn't enforce them. At legal aid we made that argument a lot, and most of the time we lost. But every once in a while a judge would agree with us, and I had a feeling this would be a winner.

Since Mary needed to be at the trial, I drove out to her house to let her know the court date. Mary lived in a small brick rambler. The white trim was peeling and the front porch was cracked, but it was on a bus line and had enough bedrooms for Mary and her 4 kids. In fact, it was right next door to the hospital and the social services agency. Mary used her monthly welfare check to pay the rent, utilities, diapers, and things like the TV contract. I parked on the street in front of the house and walked up the steps. It was a hot, sticky, day. I rang the bell and was relieved when the door opened. I couldn't wait to get into the air conditioning.

"Is your mother home?"

A young girl, about 4, had answered the door. She was wearing dirty pjs even though it was 2 in the afternoon. Something that looked like peanut butter was in her hair. At that point what appeared to be the oldest of Mary's 4 children, a 6 year old girl, came to the door and told me that Mary was not home.

"Are there any grown ups there?," I asked.
"No," said the 6 year old.

Quickly, the other 2 kids gathered by the screen door wriggling to stand where they could see me. I could see behind the children that the inside of the house was packed with piles of clothes and toys and food and junk. It was a huge mess and I could hear the TV blasting.

I was alarmed. Kids this young can't be home alone, even for a few minutes. I needed to do something to ensure that the kids were safe, but in order to do that I would have to leave the house and find a phone (no cell phones back then.) And who would I call? Mary was my client. Could I turn her in for child neglect? I thought about staying in the house until Mary came home, but this made me uncomfortable. I didn't have permission to enter her home and what if someone claimed that I harmed the kids? Nonetheless, I decided to go in and wait for Mary.

As I entered the house, I was engulfed by a wave of heat and by a stench so strong that I started to throw up. I immediately backed out of the house and back onto the front porch. Of course Mary didn't have air conditioning. Quickly, I remembered that social services was right across the side street. It would only take me a few minutes to report that the children were alone. Could I do that? Could I leave them alone? What if they left the house? Could I turn in my own client? Was that even permitted? My mind was spinning.

I froze, caught between my concern for the kids and, frankly, my concern that reporting her would make me lose my law license.*** But, I couldn't stand on the porch outside with 4 kids huddled on the inside staring at me, and I didn't want to throw up in their house.  So, I did something foolish. I left the children in the house, darted across the street, ran to the social services office, and reported that there were 4 children home alone next door. I gave my name and Mary's name. My intentions were good, but those kids could have died in a fire in the time it took me to go to social services.

I sat in my car outside the house watching the social services folks enter the home, and then went back to my office, full of conflicting emotions: guilt for leaving the kids, relief that the kids hadn't been injured while I was at social services, happy that I had reported the neglect, worry about all of them, and, finally, fear that Mary would file a complaint against me with the State bar for violating attorney/client confidentiality.

Mary still didn't know about her court date. A court judgment against her for $1248 would be devastating -- it could lead to the garnishment of her bank account and then eviction. That's how it worked when you were poor. You rent a TV and the next thing you know you and your kids are homeless.

I sent Mary a letter informing her of the court date for the TV hearing even though I knew she couldn't read it. Maybe she would share it with someone. I didn't hear from Mary, and was unable to get the hearing continued. We had the trial without her -- I got away with explaining that Mary was unavailable. Based on the terms of the contract itself, the Judge ruled in Mary's favor. Surprisingly, the Judge let her keep the TV and ruled that she didn't owe anymore money. Had the circumstances been different, I would have been celebrating a big win. But when I got back to my office I sent Mary another letter, this time informing her of the outcome.

I didn't hear from Mary and, as the months went by, I never heard anything about her filing a complaint against me. I thought about Mary and the kids and guilt tugged at me. I should have stayed at the house until she returned. I shouldn't have left the kids alone. And then, because we like to justify our actions, I'd think about how she had left the kids alone in a filthy house and at least I had done something. I wondered what happened when social services got involved. Eventually, though, the constant flood of new clients with their urgent problems shoved Mary and her kids to the back of my mind.

About 9 months later I noticed that Mary was scheduled to see me. I was prepared for her anger. Mary shocked me when she exclaimed in one big rush: "At first I was really angry with you. I wanted to sue you because you were my lawyer and reported me, but I knew I shouldn't have left my kids alone. After the kids were put in foster care, I did everything to get them back. The county helped me enroll in a reading program. I can read now! And I have a job working in the cafeteria at the hospital next door to my house and it comes with health insurance and the kids are back home. Losing the kids was bad, but it gave me the time to learn to read and to get a job."

I was stunned, as this was the last thing I expected. Before I could react, Mary handed me more legal papers and continued: "But now I have another problem. After I lost my welfare, but before I got a job, I couldn't keep up with the rent and my landlord is trying to evict me. I'm afraid I'll lose the kids again if I get evicted. Can you help me keep my house?"

Mary kept her house (and the TV still worked!). We worked out a payment plan with her landlord, made possible by the $700 that Salvation Army gave to the landlord towards Mary's back rent. (Salvation Army was one of the very few charities willing to give cash in situations like this.) Mary was lucky that she lived in a progressive, generally very well to do, county. In order to facilitate the return of the children, Mary was able to put her kids in county-subsidized day care (it was cheaper for the county to help Mary pay for day care than for the county to pay for foster care or welfare), so Mary kept her job.

I had a problem that day I went looking for a client who couldn't read and didn't have a phone. But Mary had bigger problems, and the kids had the biggest problems of all. I'm not entirely happy with the choice I made. I lucked out that day, and so did Mary, and so did the kids.

It's been over 30 years since I left legal aid. When I did, I left it all behind and rarely gave my clients a thought. I was overwhelmed by their problems and my inability to help many of them. My brain needed a break from that much sorrow and frustration.

But, as the years go by, I find myself thinking back to some of my clients, particularly the ones who achieved some measure of success. It was the nature of the job that I rarely saw or heard from them again. Whether a book, a movie, or real life, I crave a happy ending, and even though I know it may be foolish, I choose to believe that Mary and her kids left the worst of their problems behind them on that hot sunny day.

*** I never learned for sure if reporting my client under these circumstances was permissible under the Virginia Bar rules. However, I am fairly certain that it was permissible, given that the safety of others was at stake.

Jan 26, 2018


Reached waaaay back into the stamp collection for this WPlus9 Sweets and Treats cupcake set.

To freshen this up, I used some patterned paper from an Altenew New Day card kit and used coordinating Altenew alcohol markers to color the cupcake. Can you see the glitter around the white panel and on the cherry?  It's there -- Nuvo Crystal drops. The white layer is popped up for some dimension, because why not?

This sat in my house for less than an hour -- it's in the mail for a birthday. Bam!

MOOD WHEN DONE = Got my treadmill walks up to 28 minutes yesterday. I'm aiming for 35 and then I'll work on the speed. I'm slow as dirt at the moment!

Jan 24, 2018

Paper Hugs

Love this sentiment, although these photos make it hard to see. Here's a close up from the card below. 

It's from the Paper Hug set from The Stamp Market, which is only 5 bucks. I've had it for awhile and decided it was time to revisit. It has a coordinating set of heart dies, but since I already have a couple of several sets of heart dies, I decided I could do without them. Choices!!

The top card uses Wild Honey and Picked Raspberry Distress Oxide inks. If you look closely you'll notice that the front of the card is 2 triangles pieced together.

Distress Oxide Candy Apple and Picked Raspberry inks:

Peacock Feathers Distress Oxide ink.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Good! Hope you are too.

Jan 22, 2018

Keeping Those New Year's Resolutions?

Having trouble keeping those New Year's resolutions?

This may help.

*  *  *

I put down the newspaper and thought, "So that's how it works." I was 14 and wondering how girls got a boyfriend. Well, Ann Landers supplied the answer -- you start dating when you are 16. I missed the part about how she said that 16 was the minimum age to start dating and immediately concluded that my phone would ring on my 16th birthday and I'd start dating.

My 16th birthday came and went and, shockingly, the phone did not ring. I dated a little, but only with fix ups so I could go to the prom, etc. -- my friend's brother, a friend's boyfriend's friend. After high school, I dabbled with a little dating over the years, but not much.

Fast forward a couple of decades to January 1, 1988 -- and I woke up and decided it was time to stop waiting for the phone to ring. I was in my mid 30s and I wasn't thinking about marriage, but I did want to go out and have fun -- movies, dinners, concerts. So I made a New Year's resolution to date 5 different guys that year. I was working at the Department of Justice, where there were at least 4 times as many guys as women, so maybe something would happen.

By June nothing had happened. I started to wonder about my resolution. Maybe I needed to do something to make it happen?

I took a leap of faith, wrote a check for $100, and put an ad in the personals column in the Washingtonian Magazine (this was before online anything). To avoid paying for a post office box or giving out my address, I paid extra so that the magazine would collect the letters, and then send them to me.

My ad got published and I sat back and waited.

And waited.

Finally, about 3 weeks later, a large manilla envelope came in the mail stuffed with more than 100 letters. I dumped them onto the sofa and thought about reading them right away. Then I realized that these letters were too good to keep to myself, so I hosted a brunch at my house and invited about 6 other women. As we were eating bagels, we dove in and started reading them. Any possibilities were put on the coffee table and the rest tossed aside.

A large group of letters were from men who lived an hour or two outside the DC area. Toss.

One of my friends, a lawyer at legal aid, shrieked when she got to the end of one letter. "OMG, this guy is my client! I just handled his bankruptcy." She ripped it up without telling us his name.

Another friend sat back and said, "Wow, this is Elliot's best friend." Elliot was her husband. I felt like we were invading this guy's privacy. Then again dealing with strangers was a little scary...

And so we went until we had 7 letters on the coffee table.

I contacted each of them and went out with 3 of them.

The first was Ego Man, Elliot's best friend. He was a lawyer who worked for Congress. He told me that he was "smarter than anyone else" on the Hill. Hey, 1/5.

The second was The Grape Guy. He also worked in DC and would only meet me on the mall in DC. He grew grapes and brought me a huge bag of grapes -- as in a Hefty garbage bag size bag of grapes. Was I supposed to make wine? We ate our lunch on a park bench, which was fine. He invited me for a second date, but as we spoke it was clear that he only wanted to meet on that same bench. 2/5

The third guy was Mr. Fatal Attraction. We met at a local restaurant and liked each other and decided on a second date. After the second date, I invited him back to my house for coffee.

He interpreted the invitation differently. When I pushed him away, he said: "When you invited me in for coffee, you invited me to stay and don't try saying otherwise." He wasn't kidding and was still all over me.

Instinct took over. I looked him in the eye and said, "Have you seen Fatal Attraction?" Yes, he replied. "Well, I'm that woman in Fatal Attraction and if you don't leave this instance I will destroy your life and I'm not joking." He sat back and, luckily, got up and walked out.

What was I thinking??

It was September and I was 3/5. I needed 2 more dates. And then a coworker asked me out and promptly dumped me after one date. At first I was miffed but then I realized:

Only one more to go!!

It was November. My officemate, Carole, was getting married and invited me to her wedding. I was pretty new to the office and didn't know any of the other 10 or so office folks at the wedding. Carole looked beautiful in the candlelight. An older guest slipped on the floor and an ambulance was called. Other than that, I barely remember the wedding. A few days later one of the guys at the wedding, who worked in my office, called me -- would I like to have lunch?

I had no idea who he was, but I decided that lunch could be a date and I had a resolution to keep.

I went to lunch and it was just chatty. We talked about work but nothing personal. There was no hint of it being a date. I got back to the office and wondered  --  where I was going to find Date #5? Why is this so hard?? A few days later I bump into Mr. Lunch. I'm at the vending machine getting popcorn. He's leaving the gym. We said hello and that was that.

Tick tock. It's December and keeping this resolution has become a thing. I need to find #5.

A couple of weeks later, right before Christmas, Mr. Lunch called me again and asked me out for dinner. So that lunch was a date. I had met my New Year's resolution and didn't even know it!!

This dating thing was starting to look like fun...I wondered who #6 would be.

Turns out there was no #6. A little over a year later, Carole and her husband came to my and Mr. Lunch's wedding.

Sometimes keeping a resolution is a good thing...

Jan 17, 2018

Opening and Closing

The other day I visited a doctor's office for a routine check. The office is located in the hospital. As I turn the car into the hospital grounds, I quickly come to a halt. A long line of cars is clogging the entrance. After a few minutes, I make it up to the door of the building that also happens to be the spot for valet parking. Normally I would continue on to the parking garage, but it was bitter cold and gray, and I was running late, so I decide to splurge and let the valet park the car.

When I'm done with my appointment, I wrap my scarf around my head, go outside to the valet station and pay, and rush back inside to wait for the valet to bring my car. The waiting area has two sets of sliding doors, with a space of about 10 feet separating the sets of sliding doors. I assume that it was designed that way to limit the amount of cold or hot air that would blast into the waiting area. However, on this day, both sets of doors are opening and closing every few seconds. I am really cold, but I need to stand near the doors in order to see my car when it pulls up.

A dark-haired man, who appears to be in his 30s, is standing in the space between the doors, slouched up against the wall in one of the corners. He's wearing jeans and a jacket and looks like he wants to be anywhere else. Two little kids, a boy and a girl about 3 or 4, run back and forth in that same space, laughing and banging into the walls. Every time they run, they cause both sets of doors to open and close.

These kids are making me cold. I hate cold. I get cold in October and stay cold until April. Every October Mike and I plot moving to warm weather and every April we decide to stay in the DC area. I'm wearing gloves, a warm fuzzy scarf big enough to wrap around my head and neck, and a down coat. Even decked out in all those warm clothes, I'm cold. Plus I hate wearing the scarf over my head. I get bed head when I do. Whatever pouf I can get out of a blow dryer in the morning is immediately ruined by wearing a scarf. Oh to have thick curly hair!

I step back away from the glass doors, but then I can't see the driveway, so I have no choice but to stand closer to the doors. I feel the wind sweep in, and every time a door opens I get a little more annoyed. I want these kids to stop. I want their father to use his common sense and common courtesy and bring his kids inside. How can he just stand there, barely paying attention, while his kids run around letting all the cold air into the building? Doesn't he feel the cold?

I wonder if he and the kids visited the hospital to see his wife and new baby. Maybe that's why the kids are so wild -- a new baby can do that. But he doesn't look excited. He's not looking at his phone. He's looking down at nothing.

Finally, I see the young man look up as his car arrives and he calls to his kids. Thank goodness they are leaving.

Just then I see a thin, worn, frail, young woman wearing a dark green coat that hangs off her body, get up from the seats and slowly make her way past me and through the doors. I hadn't noticed her sitting behind me. She has a silk scarf wrapped around her head and dark skin around her eyes. I can tell that there is no hair under that scarf. I think she has cancer.

The woman joins the man and their kids and walks slowly to the car that is waiting by the curb. I watch as the valet rushes to open the door for her. The father puts the kids in carseats in the backseat, while the valet puts on the seatbelt for the woman. He seems to recognize the woman. After a minute, the father gets in the car and they drive away.

The sliding glass doors stay closed and I am warm again, but my heart isn't. The man wasn't visiting the hospital to see his new baby. He was there with his wife for something not good. Was the treatment just too hard or did they get devastating news? Or maybe both.

Eventually I get home and take off my coat and gloves and scarf. Sure enough, my hair looks wacky,  full of dry winter static. I go upstairs and run a wet comb though it just to settle it down and then blow it dry. I stop and look in the mirror and my mind wanders back. My heart is doing well and she may be dying. My life is opening and hers is closing.

I want to go back to that waiting room and smile at the man and his kids. I want to replace all my petty annoyances with respect and patience. I want her to have my hair and not a turban. I want to be grateful for thin static hair and not wish for thick curly hair. Just for a moment, I want to go back and trade places with her.

I can't do that, but simply being grateful for my good fortune doesn't seem enough. And, it's not enough to wail at the injustice. I'm not sure what is enough, or if there is an enough. But, I hope I have more patience the next time I see a man lost in thought as his kids bang against the wall, causing the doors to open and close, letting in all the cold air.

Jan 16, 2018

The Least Bad Recovery

I've heard that many, many people are talking about my surgery and asking:  "How is she doing?"

In short, I'm the least sick person you know. In fact, I have recovered better from heart surgery than any other patient ever.

I walk better than anyone.
I talk better than anyone.
I drive better than anyone.
I stamp better than anyone.
And I definitely eat better than anyone.

ps.  Unless there are any developments I'm hoping this is the last of the post surgery updates. I am looking forward to a boring year!

Jan 15, 2018

Birthday Cupcake

A soft card, stamped in Spun Sugar and Seedless Preserves Distress Inks, and watercolored with Prima Metallic Accents. It shimmers!

Here's a TERRIBLE PHOTO of the shimmer:

Stamps from Altenew Layered Cupcake stamped on Bristol paper, which is whiter than watercolor paper and can handle small amounts of water. I like it!

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Happy to add to my birthday card stash. I'm always behind!

Jan 13, 2018

A Papyrus Copy

I saw this box of cards by Papyrus awhile ago and fell in love with them -- the blocks of color are so fun.

So, I decided to make my own. I mean, why pay $16.95 for six cards when you can make one with $17,000 worth of supplies? Sentiment from an Altenew set that came with a kit. 

And, since I liked it, I made another with different colors. See, all those supplies come in handy! This would make a cute valentine.

Get it?  I love you to pieces, as in pieces of cardstock? Sorry... Cute saying from Right at Home's Tiny Sentiments


Jan 11, 2018


I've had this Altenew Bold Alphabet die for a while and am always looking for ways to justify the cost. Even buying it for 20% off, it was still pricey. But I think it's a keeper.

Colored Heavyweight Yupo paper with Jacquard Products Pinata Color Exciter pack (alcohol inks). The heavy Yupo paper is very different from the regular -- the regular is thin and "floppy." The heavy is quite stiff. I think it works well for die cuts.

Used regular, dirt cheap, Rubbing Alcohol to move the ink around. Works like a charm. It also cleans up all my stamps. Love that stuff.

Unfortunately, despite many takes, I was unable to take a photo that shows the light gray flower and leaves under the letters -- but it's there and looks great! In the light, the gold on the letters shines so brightly!

MOOD WHEN DONE = I'm good.