Dec 21, 2018

Last Post for 2018: Sending Love

I'm sending love and gratitude to all of you who continue to read my blog or otherwise connect with me on social media, or in real life! Stamping and writing continue to make me happy and you are part of that. Thank you.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope it is a peaceful one, full of love and good times. For those of you struggling with difficult times -- illness, loneliness, financial stresses, etc. I hope you are able to enjoy the holidays and have a better 2019. 

And to all, here's hoping 2019 is kind to you and your loved ones. 


This Hero Arts Color Layering Bouquet is darling, easy to layer, and versatile. Plus, that little bow! It's a keeper.  

-Impressions Obsessions gingham background (white embossed on gray cardstock).
-Inked up a scrap of white cardstock to make the Ruby Red paper lining the top and bottom. 
-Tonic Nuvo Crystal Glaze in the center of the flowers and clear sequins in the bouquet.
-Popped up bouquet layer with foam dots.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Happy! It's been an eventful year. I'm looking forward to spending time with family, baking, and crafting! 

Dec 12, 2018

Things I Like

If you are looking for ideas to buy a gift for someone (or for yourself), here are a few of my favorite things. No marketing here -- I paid full price for everything and get nothing if you buy. Links are suggested places to buy -- you may find lower prices elsewhere.

"Beauty" Stuff

Aquage Uplifting Foam -- My hair always needs "uplifting" -- it's very fine and flat. I blow it dry and it has body for 5 minutes (1 minute if I go outside). This is the only mousse that leaves my hair puffy all day long. Just be sure to dry your hair completely.

Dove Dermaseries Dry Skin Relief Face Wash -- Once I got old (HA), my skin got very dry and always had an uncomfortable tight feeling. The only thing I found that left my skin soft was Estee Lauder's Tender Creme Cleanser. It was expensive and my family would give it to me for Christmas and my birthday, but then Estee Lauder stopped selling it. I tried a LOT of skin cleansers since then, and finally found one that works. My skin is not tight! And I get it at the grocery store.

Dial Marula Oil Body Wash -- Same issue with the rest of my skin! This is great stuff, but I always make sure to let the water in the shower run an extra few seconds so that the floor is not slippery. Another grocery store find.


I'm reluctant to recommend books because our preferences vary so much, but here are a few just in case you are looking...

The House of God by Samuel Shen 

This classic, irreverent, novel does to medicine what MASH did to the military. Written by a real intern at a real hospital in Boston, it is both comic and tragic. If you want to know (and you may not) what it is really like to be a doctor in training or a patient at a big city hospital, read this and get ready to laugh (and cry).

When the author, who uses a pen name, finally revealed who he is, the academic medical community shunned him. However, as the years went by, it became a must read for all medical students.

The Chosen and The Promise, by Chaim Potok 

The first, The Chosen, is a coming of age novel about two boys growing up in New York City in a tight ultra orthodox Jewish community, and their struggles dealing with their respective fathers and the secular community. The Promise continues the story into their professional and personal lives. I fell in love with the two boys. I've read these books many times as the characters, plot, and information about the Hasidic Jewish community are fascinating. I think it's time to read them again.

Rosie's All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed Baking Book  My mom's theory on knitting was that, if she was going to take the time to knit something, she might as well use the best yarn she could find. That's my theory on baking. If I'm going to make cookies, cheesecake, etc. I want real butter, real everything.

Every recipe I've tried is fantastic. Two are standouts -- Cream Cheese Poundcake and Brownie Cheesecake. The latter is my family's favorite dessert. I've make it so many times I don't need to read the recipe anymore!


Azul  It's a board game using tiles. We love it and everyone we've played it with loves it as well. Easy to learn and play, hard to beat my son!

Simple Houseware Microfiber Cleaning Cloths  This is such a small thing, but I really like these so much. I use them every day for something -- including cleaning my stamps.

For stamp cleaning, I use water or rubbing alcohol. Inks will stain the cloths but the stains don't affect their use. BTW,  I've used rubbing alcohol (very cheap) for years to clean my stamps and all my stamps are fine. HINT: try cleaning your stamps the regular way and then clean them again with rubbing alcohol and see all the dirt on the cloth.

I also use them for dusting, washing kitchen counters, sinks, etc. I use them to dry the glass shower door and the tiles after a shower. I use them all day (I need to stop cleaning.)!  After I bought these, I cut my use of paper towels by about 75%. The towels are soft, cheap, and can be thrown in the washer and dryer.


Would love to know if you have anything you'd like to recommend! 

Dec 7, 2018

DC v. Dallas: Smackdown!

I lived in the DC area for over 40 years and have lived in Dallas for about 3 months. Seems like enough information to do a smackdown, right?


If you are the chatty type, and I am, Dallas wins. By a lot.

The first time I walked into a supermarket, the cashier turned around and started talking to me. I couldn't understand why she was talking to me. Our neighbors talk to us. My doctors chat about non medical stuff. The waitresses and hair dressers chat. I enjoy all the friendly strangers. Breaks up my otherwise quiet life.

On the other hand, if you like to be left alone, live in DC. There is mandatory silence on the subway. Eye contact is not a good thing. Everyone minds his or her own business as everyone is assumed to be a serial killer until proven otherwise. 


DC "wins" in a landslide. In the DC area, a red light is an invitation to plow faster through the intersection. If you are first in line at a traffic light, do not go into the intersection when the light turns green. You must wait for the intersection to clear (and that can take a while) or risk death.

In Dallas, people tend to stop at red lights. Yes, I've been cut off in Dallas by a couple of rude drivers, but nothing like I experienced in DC. Then again, I don't drive on the Dallas highways, so maybe I'm missing out on the crazy.


Speaking of cars, IMHO, DC wins. In DC people tend to drive smaller cars. Our 2003 Prius ($15 a month in gas) is a joke here. It can take forever just to back out of a space in a parking lot in Dallas because I'm surrounded by really big car/truck things!


I'm comparing Virginia to Texas now. Virginia wins.

Virginia's Division of Motor Vehicles has won awards for its efficiency. In Texas, you have to go to a different place to get your car registered, get a driver's license, pay property tax, get an inspection, etc. I still don't understand it as Mike took the lead.


Dallas wins. The residential areas we've seen are gorgeous. Lots of older homes with old trees laid out in easy to navigate grids. And they are conveniently located -- retail and commercial and medical spots are easy to get to. I'm impressed. And the suburban neighborhoods are very nice too -- many beautiful homes at reasonable price points in convenient locations.

Of course there are many beautiful neighborhoods in DC and the suburbs. But the DC area is so expensive and DC itself has a lot of "traffic circles" a/k/a death circles.  Even I, a tentative driver, am navigating Dallas.


Dallas wins. I've never seen so many houses decked out with so many beautiful lights. Seriously, get on a plane and drive down my street!

Dallas wins and by that I mean loses. And that's all I can say about that ... .


Dallas wins, but not by as much as I expected.

Real estate and rentals are cheaper. There is no state income tax in Texas. Restaurant meals are cheaper. And it looks like we are paying less for the repairs we are having done on our house than we would have paid in DC. 

On the other hand, car and property insurance is 3 times the cost with enormous deductibles. Utilities are high (I'm sitting in the dark as I write this!) Property taxes are also much higher.  And, sales tax in Texas is much higher than in Virginia. 


DC wins the museum category but Dallas wins in the Botanical Garden sweepstakes.   


Dallas wins. At least, that's what Mike says. (How would I know?)


Dallas wins. A couple of weeks ago our neighborhood exploded with color. This was a surprise as several people had warned me that Dallas' trees went from green to brown. Nope. I was thrilled.  


HA (Although we live about 5 minutes from the President George W. Bush library.)


Not sure. We live about 20 minutes from Love Field (Southwest Air) and that is so convenient. Plus, it is much easier to get in and out of Love compared to the airports in DC. However, I'm totally drugged up when I fly so I really can't compare the actual airports themselves...


High school and college football are huge in Dallas. So if you love that, Dallas wins. Both cities love their pro teams. We're not into any of it at the moment as our football team, the Giants, are horrible and we haven't made the transition to baseball yet. We enjoy baseball and expect to become Texas Rangers fans.


No one wins.

Winters are milder in Dallas and I love the prospect of no, or almost no, snow. I hear we get ice, but since we live in the city, it's significantly warmer than the north suburbs, so hopefully we'll escape that scourge. DC's a crap shoot in the winter -- the Northern VA suburbs can get significant snow. 

DC summers are hot and humid. Dallas' are much hotter and just as humid. I have no intention of going outside from May through September and apparently will pay a small fortune to run our AC!

Don't move to either place for the weather.


Dallas wins. There's over 30 minutes extra of daylight in Dallas in the middle of December. We LOVE that. Such an unexpected and welcome surprise.


DC wins the friends category, but Dallas wins the most important family category.

We are still adjusting and are a little homesick. Our friends and everything we know is in the DC area. It's harder to transition at our age than we expected, so it's going to take a while for Dallas to feel like home. 

However, we see our son every weekend, and see other family (Mike's brother and his family live here) often. 

So, Dallas wins.

Dec 2, 2018

Winter Still (7 Cards!)

Today I'm sharing 7 cards (4 Christmas and 3 Winter Holiday) all using the same stamp, Penny Black's Winter Still.  It's a beautiful cling image that can be used year round. Added a Christmas sentiment from Concord & 9th and a winter holiday sentiment from another Penny Black set to complete the cards.

Using the MISTI, or other stamp positioner, makes adding layers of ink pretty easy. I don't think I would use this type of stamp without one.

Here goes!

1. Stamped with a variety of green dye mini ink pads 
and red and purple Tombow markers.  One layer.

2.  Moved the image and the sentiment.  One layer.

3. Flipped the image and used different shades of green ink. 
Added a bit of gold ink to the leaves. Also one layer.

4. Added a little blue to the berries and brighter shades of 
green ink (and a touch of yellow) for the leaves. One layer.

5. I wanted cold colors for these winter themed cards (for my Jewish friends) and switched to watercolor paper.  Misted each layer of ink with water before stamping and then dried with a heat gun before layering again. Stamped the leaves with Distress Ink Stains (grays and blues for the leaves) and blue and pink markers for the berries. Sprayed with water and dried between layers.  Trimmed and added to an A2 card.

6. Watercolor paper, lots of water and heat between layters. Added more dark gray for contrast. The stamped moved (I was using a lot of water), so there is a faint extra layer of berries.

7. Finally, I used more ink here and less water. The leaves are bluer and the berries are quite pink.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Well, I made a big old mess making these but enjoyed every minute of it!  So, I made a total of 9 holiday cards this year and all calling it a success. Most of my cards are store bought. This week I'll turn my attention to other types of cards.  And maybe baking cookies...

Nov 28, 2018

Using a Large Image

Needed to take a break from making Christmas cards and chose a very large floral image from Penny Black, called Garden Gems, to make a thank you card.

The nice thing about these large images is that you can just rub some ink over them, use waterbased markers to produce a more realistic image, emboss and water color around them, or try other techniques. But my favorite thing about them is that Penny Black has done all the work --no masking or figuring out where the leaves go.

Used various shades of pink and orange inks and just lightly stamped portions of the image several times. The MISTI or other positioning tool makes this very easy.

Added a sentiment from Altenew and some black speckled paint. Before I added the paint, I covered up most of the card with scrap paper.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Good! The card is about to go in the mail. Then it is time to clean up this mess before I go back to making Christmas cards. Hope to have more to share soon.

Nov 18, 2018

Christmas 2018 -- First Card! and A Life Update

Here's my first Christmas card for 2018. Very grateful for the time, health, and opportunity to just sit and play. Last year I was recovering from surgery and the year before I was sick in Belgium, so it's been awhile since I had the pleasure of making a Christmas card. At least I think so -- I haven't gone back to check!

This uses Penny Black La Fleur Rouge stamp and a sentiment from W Plus 9 -- both have been around for a while. I stamped it multiple times with Tombow Watercolor Markers and misted with water. Then I stamped with Versamark and embossed in clear and watercolored around the image. The white edges around the stems and leaves are the places where the embossing powder melted. I like the look.

Here's a picture of the layers of watercolor and splatters. So much fun to make!

I took this picture in our bedroom. That blue wall is like the rest of the house -- textured plaster. I've yet to find the right light for photography in this house, but this will do for now.


LIFE UPDATE: The move to Dallas has been full of happiness and some tears. Both of us are very happy we made the move, and both are homesick. We like the city but we need time to adjust. 

The section of the city where we live -- East Dallas -- is full of lovely older homes and buildings. It's liveable and, particularly for me, easy to navigate. We are 20 minutes from Love Field (the airport from which President Kennedy flew back to DC after the assassination). We are about 5 minutes from the President George W. Bush library and will be going there soon. So, while it is different from what we are used to, Dallas is a good place.

Living near our son has been better than anticipated. He hasn't lived near us for more than a few months in over 10 years, so there is a lot of happiness on all sides. We have also spent a fair amount of time with Mike's brother and his family, who live nearby, and are looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with them.

All good!

There is a clinic that specializes in my heart condition nearby, which is fantastic, as most cardiologists do not have enough experience with the condition and can cause more harm than good. The clinic is a participating site for a clinical trial for a new drug and asked me if I wanted to participate. In a week or so I start the process to see if I can participate. Without clinical trials, we will not more forward so I am hopeful.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Today we are hosting a small get together for a few neighbors. And one of them is -- get this -- a stamper who reached out to me because she reads this blog and recognized my description of where we live. She is 3 blocks away!! We met for lunch and she is awesome. I AM SO EXCITED.

I hope to be back with more cards later this week. 

Nov 14, 2018

Oh, James

I scanned the intake sheet: James Kolacki (not his real name), 24, unemployed. Wants to appeal a denial of social security disability (SSD).  One of the other lawyers or paralegals in my legal aid office must have been on vacation or overloaded, as I rarely handled that type of case.  Ok, time to learn something new.

James had pale white skin, blond, almost white, hair, and pale blue eyes. Very thin, he looked about 18. His father, Mr. Kolacki, was with him. Mr. K was graying and looked older than his age (50). I soon learned why.

It is difficult to get SSD, and very difficult when you are young. Before the government will agree to pay, you must meet the definition of disability in the social security laws. The older we get, the easier it is to meet that test -- back problems, arthritis, cancer etc. all become much more common as we age. At 24, however, the odds were not in James' favor.

Before I could introduce myself, I noticed James reading my framed licenses and certificates quite closely. So, after I told them my name, I made a point of mentioning that I was "the attorney" assigned to James. Since I was 27 and a woman, it was often necessary for me to remind my clients that I was a "real" lawyer.  Sometimes I needed to remind myself as well.....

Right from the start, Mr. K took over the appointment and explained that James lived in supported housing, ran by a local non profit, for adults with developmental or serious mental health issues.  Mr. K handed me the paperwork denying SSD for his son, and said he wanted to appeal.

It's tricky when an adult comes in with a parent, child, or other adult who is answering all the questions. So I went out of my way to explain to James that I was his attorney, not his father's, and that I wanted to speak privately with James.  Mr. K got up to leave, but James immediately said it was ok for his father to stay.

Mr. K sat down and I looked at James and asked him why he thought he couldn't work. His father immediately answered for him. "James has schizophrenia** and cannot hold a job." He then handed me a one inch thick medical file.

I needed to hear from James, if for no other reason that James would need to testify and I had to assess his ability to do so. So I sat back and said to James, "Tell me about your life. I know your Dad can explain it but I want to hear it from you." And then I said to Mr. K, "If it's ok, I'd like you to sit back and just listen for a bit." Mr. K nodded.

Without looking at me, James said, "I live with my parents and I got fired from my job at Taco Bell."

"What reason did Taco Bell give you for firing you?"

"I got upset. I couldn't stay there at the cash register so I left in the middle of my shift and they fired me."

James looked a little agitated and kept staring at my certificates, so I decided to change the subject and ask something simple.

"Did you graduate from high school?"

I caught a look of immense sadness come over Mr. K's face. Before James could respond, Mr, K said: "Yes, James graduated 3rd in his class. And then he went to the University of Virginia for 2 years. When he was a junior at UVA, he had his first psychotic break and moved back home."

In the 3 years that I had been practicing as a legal aid lawyer, I had a lot of clients with serious mental health issues. Although they were a small portion of my practice, they took up a lot of my time. Sometimes their issues seemed comical, even though underneath they were deadly serious and tragic. Nevertheless, it seemed I connected with them better than with my "healthy" clients.

For example, Gail (not her real name) kept filing lawsuits against Picasso (his real name), even though Picasso was dead and Gail had no connection to Picasso. I had learned the hard way not to argue with Gail about those facts. Rather, I convinced Gail to stop filing suits against Picasso because Picasso wasn't in the US and the US courts didn't have jurisdiction over him.

I was representing Bill, (not his real name either) a cab driver, in a routine divorce. Things got interesting because Bill believed that Walter Mondale had beaten Ronald Reagan in the 1984 Presidential election. Bill wasn't claiming voter fraud -- rather, he was convinced that Mondale had won. Bill "saw" the victory celebration for Mondale on TV and drove up from Florida to Northern Virginia in anticipation of working for Mondale. While waiting to start work at the White House, Bill's wife sued him for divorce. On the day after Mondale's "Inauguration Day," Bill went to the White House to report for work. (The Secret Service called me because I was listed as his lawyer on the divorce papers Bill was carrying around.)

So, I had a little experience dealing with people suffering from schizophrenia and, tremendous sympathy. Schizophrenia is one of life's cruelties. I was powerless to address the schizophrenia -- all I could do was work around it and help my clients get what they deserved.

In any event, I understood why Mr. K was answering the questions for James and I was beginning to understand why Mr. K looked older than 50. But, before I could respond, James stood up and stated: "I don't want a woman lawyer. I want a man. I don't like being near women."

Mr. K explained, "James is afraid of women. He thinks they have powers to kill him. He couldn't handle working with or serving any women at Taco Bell and that is why he left in the middle of the shift. Please don't be offended. It's part of his illness."

We had a policy in our office that we would not respond to clients' prejudices -- if you didn't want the Jewish lawyer or the woman lawyer or the guy with red hair, you were out of luck. But James was different. This wasn't stupidity or prejudice; this was part of James' illness.

"Well, give me a moment. I want to talk to one of my colleagues."

But before I got to the door, James also stood up, walked over to my law school graduation certificate and, pointing at it, said, "Well, I see you went to a Catholic law school. I will take you as my lawyer because you are Catholic."

I decided not to share with James that I was not a practicing Catholic.

"Well, good. Let me look through the file your Dad brought."

I scanned the papers and silently fumed. James was clearly suffering from schizophrenia and had made multiple attempts at working, all of which failed. His permanent disability was documented by many psychiatrists. I knew that Social Security had denied James because the Reagan Administration had a policy of denying all SSD claims and forcing everyone to file an appeal. As a result, the appeals process was overwhelmed with claims. Even worse, many people didn't understand how to appeal and didn't go forward. This was especially cruel because SSD comes with eligibility for Medicare (after a waiting period). No SSD, and often no health care for the most vulnerable.

I explained this to James and his Dad but also told them that our office had a pretty good track record for winning at the hearing officer stage. In the event we lost, we could file in Federal Court.

The hearing officer was a kind man. He listened to my presentation, chatted with James for a few minutes, and took my binder of documents supporting James' claim. While he was reading the doctors' statements, James blurted out that if the hearing officer thought he should try and work, James would try again. It was heartbreaking. I saw the empathy in the hearing officer's eyes. After a moment, he put down the file, looked at me, and asked if the SSD checks should be made out directly to James or to Mr. K as his guardian. James agreed to let his father get the checks.

So James got SSD and the health insurance (Medicare) that goes with it. I was thrilled. It was a small victory against the disease and the system that tried to rob James of his chance at a decent life. I wasn't sure what the future held for James, but I imagined a relatively stable life, living near his family and doing as well as could be expected. Mr. K was hugely relieved and thanked me over and over. James looked away and didn't say anything.

I never saw James or Mr. K again. But about 10 years later, I noticed a short article in the Washington Post. Apparently James had moved to Staunton, Virginia and had been living in a boarding house. A fellow resident had shot and killed him. James was survived by Mr. and Mrs. K and 2 siblings. The police were investigating.

Oh, James, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. 

** James wasn't "a schizophrenic." Just like I'm not a heart disease and others are not cancer. James was a human with a disease.

Although research continues, treatments have not changed much since James died. You can find more information on schizophrenia here.

Oct 15, 2018

One Year Later, Part 2

A lot of events happened last year, and the other day I documented some of it on the blog. 

But what I didn't document were the really important moments, the moments we remember because of how they made us feel. Like stones rounded by the sea, I sometimes take out these moments and turn them around and around in my mind, taking comfort and joy in their memory:

When Mike was hospitalized a few weeks before my heart surgery, a friend said: "I'll go with you to Mayo."

When it was recommended that I have a recliner after surgery, as getting in and out of bed would be painful, a friend said: "I have a recliner. We'll bring it over and carry it up your flight of stairs."

When we were flying back home from Mayo, a friend said: "I've made extra dinner. I'll bring it over as soon as you get there."

When Mike was anxious to get back to work after being at Mayo with me for 2 weeks, a friend said: "I'll take you to the doctor," even though that meant a long drive in rush hour for her.

When the doorbell keeps ringing because so many friends have sent food or flowers or both.

When you get cards.  

When friends insist on dropping by for just 10 minutes and seeing them brightens your mood for days.

When the doc in the ER gets angry on your behalf because the Mayo docs screwed up something and she calls Mayo to complain. 

When that same doc says to you: "This embolism could have killed you. You're lucky your husband called an ambulance."

When your son turns to you and says: "We should live in the same area. Move to Dallas."

When your sister in law calls to say that her mom is having a biopsy, and my husband and his brother drop everything to be there.

When your mother in law takes a turn for the worse, and everyone -- children, in laws, grandchildren, flies across the country and is there in less than a day.

When the time comes to divide up property and my mother in law's children argue -- not to get more for themselves, but to make sure they don't take too much for themselves.

When you hear your nephew and niece performing at your mother in law's memorial service.

When your sister in law buys your favorite candy, twizzlers, and then eats them with you. 

When your mother in law says: "Thank you for being here."

When you wake up covered by biting bugs at your airbnb apartment and your husband says: "We are out of here. Leave the stuff covered with bugs on the bed. Now."

When you finally find a doctor who figures out what is wrong with your scar. And makes it stop hurting.

When you say goodbye to neighbors, knowing you may never see them again, and your heart tugs.

When your car check engine light comes on as soon as you enter Dallas, and a car guy you've never met fixes it and doesn't charge much.

When your realtor (Kathy Hewitt) is the BEST realtor ever and makes a difficult situation easier. 

When your sister in law in Dallas calls and says "come for dinner" and keeps calling with the same request.

When the people running the breakfast buffet at the hotel where you are staying greet you with a big smile every morning.

When every. single. person. you meet in Dallas is friendly (and many are from the DC area!).

When the Dallas waitress reorders all your food because there is a way to get the same food at less cost.

When a stamper friend contacts someone she knows in Dallas and her Dallas friend and I go to lunch.

When you get invited to attend your nephew's baby's church dedication.

When 3 of your new neighbors knock on the door and welcome you and give you their cell numbers.

When your son says: "I'm glad you moved here."

Oct 13, 2018

One Year Later

October 13th 
Super Freak Out
Heart Surgery at Mayo
A few complications
Feeling better every day
More complications
Get stronger
Mike retires
Spend week in Florida celebrating
Anticipate boring (good) year
Mike decides to take job in Phoenix
Freak out
Mike's mom get sick
Go house hunting in Phoenix
Spend weeks in Harlingen Texas
helping Mike's sister care for my MIL
Go to San Diego to be with MIL and SIL
Sadly, Mike's mom does not make it
Andy suggests we move to Dallas
Heartstrings tugged
Cancel Phoenix
Put house on market
Sell house
Freak out
Move to Dallas
Leave 2 Airbnb places due to "issues"
Freak out
Move to hotel
Breakfast buffet is (too) good
Spend lots of time with Andy and Mike's family in Dallas
Buy house in Dallas
Cancel Contract on House 1
Buy House 2
Cancel Contract on House 2
Freak out
Buy House 1 again
Freak out
Move into house
Love house
Meet nice neighbors
Have first dinner with Andy in new house last night
Anticipate boring year

** Pic of sunroom filling up with empty boxes

Oct 1, 2018

Life/House Update

We moved out of the hotel yesterday and into our new (to us) home. We only have two folding chairs and a mattress, but it's wonderful to finally be in our own place.  The rest of our stuff should get here by the end of the week.

In the meantime, I am enjoying getting to know our house. It was built in 1930 and full of character and charm and issues! We'll be working on this place forever...

I'm curious about the original owners and hope to figure out who they were. I look out the windows sometimes and imagine a family living here and can't help but wonder what the woman was thinking when she stood in the same spot or how many kids lived here.

One of the bathrooms is from 1930 -- only the sink and toilet, and some overhead lights, have been updated.  We suspect that it was the only bath when the house was built.  If it wasn't original to the house it would be gone! But, given that someone laid those frightful pink, almost purple, and green tiles 88 years ago, we will preserve it. On the other hand, I love those built in cabinets.

And here's a picture of what will be my craft room. (It's much smaller than this realtor picture makes it look!) It used to be what we think was the master bedroom for the house, but a previous owner turned it into a family room and added those built in cabinets.

 There's room for a couple of chairs and a TV, so Mike can join me sometimes while I craft. (If you look closely, you can see the original wood telephone stand in the hall and the wrap around sunporch outside the craft room window.)  I cannot wait to fill up those shelves with my supplies!

Here is the front of the house. Those windows on the left enclose a sunporch. It used to be an open porch, but the previous owner installed windows and screens and it is now one of my favorite spots in the house.

This house sat on the market for quite a few months. As a result, the price kept dropping, and, because it needs a fair amount of work, we were able to factor that into the final price. I am so grateful to be living here.

Nevertheless, it's been a somewhat difficult transition. I just miss what I still refer to as "home." We see our son and Mike's brother's family almost every weekend and then I'm happy, but 24 hours later I'm homesick and missing my home and friends. The good news is that I'm confident that, once our stuff gets here, and we can make this place a home, I'll be feeling much better.

I'll let you know when our my stamping stuff arrives!

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Happy (most of the time!)

Sep 8, 2018

Dallas: The First Week: Does Mike Want a Divorce?

Sunday: Drove in (Mike) at the end of the day and moved into Apartment #1. Don't remember much as I was taking Ativan to cope with everything (only when I travel).

Monday and Tuesday: Looked at houses. Bought a little food just to get by. Nightmares from my childhood.

Wednesday: Signed a contract to buy a house. I wanted this house; Mike another. Compromised by me winning this round.

Dreamt Mike wanted a divorce.

Thursday: Went grocery shopping and filled the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry with enough food and drink for a couple of weeks.

Dreamt Mike wanted a divorce.

Friday:  Woke up covered with bugs biting me (not Mike). Ran around like crazy, jumped in the shower, got dressed and packed, leaving behind anything that was anywhere near the bed. Packed up all our food and clothes and (Mike) hauled it to the car. Drove like a bat out of hell to Apt #2.

Lugged (Mike) all our stuff, including food (beer is heavy), and 4 suitcases up a flight of stairs to Apt #2. Unpacked everything (me). Cried at the scary apartment. dump we were living in. Felt guilty for not appreciating the apartment.

Went to lunch. Came back and packed up everything, including the frozen tater tots we bought to celebrate buying a house (cheap date), and drove like hell out of that really scary garage.

Went to hotel. Kept some stuff in trunk of car, but brought in all food and about 1/2 our stuff.

Dreamt Mike wanted a divorce.

Saturday:  it's only 1:00 -- give it time! 

MOOD WHEN DONE:  I want my life back.

Sep 6, 2018

Crossing That Off the List

Got to Dallas on Sunday.
Bought a house on Thursday.

(It's a house we've looked at online for the last 3 months).

Feeling very grateful.  Hope to be back to stamping sometime before November!!

Sep 4, 2018


Our house went to settlement on Friday and we immediately hit the road in our 2003 Prius. The only traffic we encountered on the Friday before Labor Day was (naturally) in DC.

We got to Dallas on Sunday and immediately had car trouble! Nevertheless, today we hit the road (courtesy of our realtor) to start house hunting. This should be interesting.

We are very much looking forward to settling into a new place. I seriously NEED my stamping supplies out and about and Mike needs everything in its place!

I'll keep you posted, but right now nothing but house hunting on the horizon! 

Aug 6, 2018

What's Going On

Figured I'd give a little update on what's going (and not going) on in my life:
  • We have a contract on the sale of our house and are scheduled to go to settlement at the end of August.
  • Bought a quart of milk and checked the expiration date. Realized that we will be in Texas by the time the milk expires. Teared up in the grocery store.
  • Going to many goodbye lunches and dinners. As I leave, I wonder if or when I'll see these friends again.
  • Realize once again how much I miss stamping. Without my craft supplies, I'm half lost. Mike agrees!
  • We spend a LOT of time looking online at houses in Dallas. There's a huge variety in both cost and style. Gorgeous options. Have a realtor lined up. This is fun.
  • Excited to be living near our son, and Mike's brother and his family. That's the prize I'm staring at.
  • With all this time on my hands, I thought I'd be reading and writing like crazy. Found that I cannot concentrate longer than a few pages and my mind is pretty much a blank when it comes to writing. 
And that's it!!  

Hope your summer is a good one. 

Jul 24, 2018

This Pillow

We all have habits -- we sit at the same spot at the table, grab the same spot to watch TV, etc.  This is my spot to watch TV, use my laptop, and read.

Sometimes, particularly in the late afternoon, I may have a tendency to doze in this spot. And when that happens, my head sometimes snaps back and bangs into the brick wall. Banging the back of your head into a brick wall is never a good idea, particularly if you take a blood thinner.

So today, after I was finished preparing dinner, I came back to the sofa and found this pillow sitting behind my spot. I asked Mike if he put it there.


"So I wouldn't bang my head if I fall asleep?"


When you're in your 60s, this pillow is love. 

Jul 3, 2018

Review: Fun Stampers Journey New Catalog

Disclaimer: I'm not a demonstrator (they call them coaches) for Fun Stampers Journey and I have no affiliation with the company but I need something to do so why not opine on this catalog?  

Our house is going on the market next week and, with all my prized stamping supplies packed up and in storage, I've got time on my hands. And one of the things I've been doing, other than constantly looking online at houses in Dallas, and turning off the TV, is keeping an eye on the stamping industry.

I saw a link to the new Fun Stampers Journey catalog (it went live on July 1) on Laura Williams' blog. Laura is not a coach for the company, but does design and concept work for it. Her blog is full of beauty.

So back to the catalog. Don't know about you but I love a stamping catalog just for the fun of paging through it. I remember getting the Stampin Up catalog and putting post it notes all over. It went everywhere with me -- car pool line, doctor's waiting room. I miss those days.

While I don't have the FSJ paper catalog (yet) I took some time to browse the online version. There's a lot to like!  Here are a few of my favorites:

BDay Wall  $14.95 p. 186  I love sentiment stamps that fill up an entire card front. The font in this one is fun, and I love how the sentiment bleeds just slightly off the page. Plus, the price is only $14.95 for a full size stamp. If I could only buy one thing in the FSJ catalogue, this would be it. In fact, I will buy it if we ever get to Dallas. 

Tropical Beauty  $14.95  p. 42 This beautiful image also fills up an entire card front at a great price. It requires no coloring and should make a gorgeous card. I think it would work particularly well for a sympathy card. On my list.

Thread Sketch $14.95 p. 115 This is a fun background. I love the idea of embossing it and watercoloring it with different colors. If you already have a set with wonky circles you could make your own background, but this is an fast and easy way to get a fun background.

Enchanted Cat   $18.95 p. 93  This fresh set also comes as a bundle with a set of dies and the price of the bundle is $39.50. (I waver on buying matching dies because they are so expensive and how many times will I use them?) So I'm not sure on the dies, but the stamps are on my definite list -- love that cat and the flowers and the sentiments. It's different from anything else I have. Those flowers would make a great background or one alone could carry a card.

Journey Glaze and Applicator Tips  $9.95 and $5.95  Ok, so I have a pet peeve. Glossy Accents and everything else similar I've tried clog and I end up throwing the bottles over the side of our 4th floor terrace. I finally stopped buying any shiny glazy thing. But it's a great product. So I'm willing to try this one -- at least Fun Stampers Journey tells you up front that your bottle may clog and here are some extra tips you can buy when that happens. Thank you for your honesty!

I'll let you know if this is worth it but I figure since I've already invested $10,000 in Glossy Tossy Accents and its progeny, what's another $20??


As I said at the beginning, I have no affiliation -- just helping to feed the beast! If you are interested in buying anything from FSJ, you'll need to find an FSJ coach (search on its website).

Jun 26, 2018

The Hanger Situation

Please stop reading, get up, and go look in each of your closets. What is your hanger situation? 


Don't worry, I have a plan.


1. Dry cleaners put clothes on hangers.

2. Brick and mortar stores leave the hangers on clothes and you walk out the store with them.

3. You watched HSN or some other TV show about 20 years ago and bought the Joy Mangano Huggable Hangers (now widely available in many places), and, since they are awesome, you bought dozens and dozens.

4. Your kid gave you a set of satin covered padded hangers because they were affordable and looked like something Mom would like. You said you loved them. So he did it again and again. And again.

5. You inherited someone else's hangers.

6. Hangers breed. It's a scientific fact that wire hangers + wood hangers = a very ugly hybrid hanger. If you doubt me, empty out a closet and leave only one wire and one wood hanger and leave them very close together. Turn off the light and shut the door. Wait 24 hours and there will be a new hybrid hanger that takes up more space than its parents. 


1. If you think you are smarter than I and didn't look at your closets when I told you to do at the beginning of this article, then I cannot help you. Close your laptop, log off my blog, and go live in your hanger hell. 

2. Ok, good. Now it's just those of us who get it. Breathe -- it gets better.

3. Take out all the hangers from your closets that do not have clothes on them. Put them** in a bag to toss, give away to someone who does not get it, or use the hangers for some "bless your heart" type of crafting.

Note: most recyling centers will not take hangers because they mess up their machines. My research indicates that hangers are an environmental nightmare. However, most dry cleaners are more than happy to take back wire hangers. Speaking of which ...

4. Remove all clothes from wire hangers because WIRE HANGERS ARE AN ABOMINATION. Luckily, there is historical precedent for this statement (watch the first minute or so; the rest is actually too sad to watch):

5. Take a moment to be glad Joan Crawford wasn't your mother.

6. Take the clothes that were on the wire hangers and put them on your bed and apologize for how you've treated them.

7. Select one type of hanger that you like for tops and dresses and one for pants. Get rid of all your other hangers. MATCHY/MATCHY is ESSENTIAL.

8. If you need to, buy new hangers that match the type you've selected and rehang your clothes on them. **Under Step 3, you many have thrown out some of your favorite hangers. Go back and get them. If you don't want to buy new hangers, then pack away the clothes that do not have proper hangers because that's the price you will pay for being stubborn.

9. You WILL hang your clothes in the same direction on the same type of hangers. You WILL put them on the closet rods in some logical order -- color, size, whatever.

10. You now have happy hangers. You are happy.

You're welcome.

Jun 23, 2018

Good and Decent

It's early in the morning of another scorching hot and humid day in Harlingen, Texas. I step outside onto the deck of my late mother in law's mobile home, seeking to escape the non-stop air conditioning, but even at 6 am the humidity is so thick that I run back inside.

Harlingen is tucked away in south Texas close to the Mexican border. It's a hard scrabble kind of town, with few pretty places, the obvious presence of the Border Patrol, and way too many fast food shops. It rarely rains, but it's got a real airport, is about 40 minutes to the Gulf, has a very low cost of living, warm winters, and a Cracker Barrel. Retirees from cold places in the US and Canada, as well as many transplants from Mexico, live there. It's the friendliest place I've ever visited.

I'm here because my in laws chose to move to a mobile home retirement park in Harlingen about 20 years ago. After my mother in law died last month, the family decided to hold a memorial service here, and use the time to clean out her house to get it ready for sale. A lifetime of books and CDs and clothes and crossword puzzles and cat figurines and movies and pictures were parceled out to family and charity and neighbors. It was an honor to be part of it.

In the middle of the time pressured chaotic cleaning, someone found all of my mother in law's belts and put them on the bed. I went over and separated them, looking at narrow belts and 2 inch wide leather belts and every other kind of belt. I couldn't remember my mother in law ever wearing a belt -- like many aging women she chose the comfort of elastic waist pants. These belts told of a different time, when I imagined her dancing with my father in law, her waist cinched in a wide belt, her skirt twirling with the music. Those days passed; my father in law died, and the belts eventually hung in her closet waiting for the moment when someone would take them away.

My mother in law told me once that she couldn't imagine living without my father in law. But she did, spending much of her 10 years as a widow volunteering at the local food bank and the VA medical clinic, playing cards and bingo, and going to dances at the mobile home park. Even without a belt, she always found someone happy to take her out for a spin on the dance floor.

Now her belts and almost everything else are gone. The house is empty. My sister in law is still asleep. It's just the two of us now. I sit here listening to nothing except the heavy hum of the air conditioner. My father in law's jokes and outlandish statements and my mother in law's no nonsense laughs and hugs are gone. The TV, which used to host the Sopranos, and eventually was set almost full time to the Game Show Network, is quiet. I miss my mother and father in law.

Couples, like my in laws, who stayed together through the best and worst of times, lift up all of us. We all know couples like my in laws -- the early black and white pictures of thin, dark- haired people leaning together, dressed in their finest, gradually turning to heavier frames wearing funny t-shirts, and then, graying hair and shrinking bodies, smiling from their twin recliners. These couples built a life on hard work and the knowledge that life owed them nothing. They were good and decent people who left behind good and decent children who, hopefully, will find themselves smiling from twin recliners some day.

Jun 7, 2018

The Sweetest Moment

Thanks for the comments on my earlier post. I love reading how our lives parallel. It's a good reminder of our shared humanity.

My son was 2 when my mom moved in with us. She was in her sixties and healthy. She watched our son while we both worked, did the grocery shopping, and generally was a huge help to us. As the years moved on, as my long time readers know, things shifted. My mom was no longer helping us; we were helping her. When I look back on those long hard days, I am grateful we decided to take care of my mom in our home as long as possible. But I also regret taking care of my mom in our home as long as possible.

It's taken me decades to figure out that our life decisions are rarely black or white. Almost everything we experience has an upside and a downside. Our moral compass and love compelled us to take care of my mom, but it came at a high cost. It affected our son, who witnessed one too many ambulance arrivals at our home. It affected my husband and our marriage and our family in a million ways -- finances, time, and stress.

For over 5 years we had very limited ability to travel away from our house for more than a few hours. That "always on duty" was exhausting. And if you were reading my blog, or were part of my real life, you heard all about it. While millions of families go through this care-taking, it doesn't feel that way when you are in the middle of it. It is a solitary experience and there are times when it is sweet and fabulous and times when it is awful and maddening.

But now we are in another phase -- we are the "older" family members. I'm now the age my mom was when she moved in with us. For years our son cautioned us that he could never do for us what we did for my mom. We 100% got it. We assured him that we would never want him to be in that position and made plans to ensure that he won't. But as my mother in law's health failed and death looked more and more certain, our son suggested we move down to Dallas so that we could all be together again. He said "I don't think I could do what you did for grandma, but I could give you a ride to the doctor if you needed it."

Dude, we're fine!

But, it was the sweetest moment. Our son had lived through watching how to care for his grandmother and now was there for his other grandmother. And at that moment his thoughts were to pull our family closer. For the first time I saw the upside of his being there when taking care of my mom was so hard. He learned, too, that it was both a blessing and a curse.

The reality is that my heart is getting a little worse. I'm basically fine, but am now dealing with some relatively mild congestive heart failure. Fluid builds up and makes it harder to breathe, particularly when walking up stairs. It's a common condition and I keep it under control by watching my sodium and through medication. But, it's progressive and we can't help but wonder about the future.

So, when the sweetest moment arrives, you seize it, not knowing for sure what's around the corner, but confident that seizing it is the right thing.

I'll keep you posted!

Jun 4, 2018


"Change is great. You go first."  (from Dilbert)

About 2 months ago we got the word that something was wrong with Mike's mother's health. We spent large chunks of April and May with her and other family. Sadly, she died towards the end of May.

We spent a lot of time with Mike's family and our son during this time and it reminded us how important family is. We have no family in the DC area and, at our son's suggestion, have decided to sell our home here and move to Dallas where he (and Mike's brother and his family) live. We will also be closer to family in California.

It's going to take some time to get our house on the market, sell it, and relocate. Needless to say, the realtors took one look at my stamping room and announced that all of it had to be packed up. I hope to make a few cards over the next day or two so I can post them over time, but basically things are going to be very quiet here on the blog.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy and freaking out...

May 21, 2018

Two Hellos!

Fell in love with the Stamp Market's Chunky Alphabet Set and the accompanying Outline Chunky Alphabet set.  I bought them from Ellen Hutson when they were on sale over Mother's Day. I had been waiting for a sale as these alphas are pricey.

Made two quick cards and just changed up the colors. The first card I purposely offset the solid stamp and used bright Distress Oxide inks. The second one uses soft inks from Altenew. 

I set up the design on the MISTI, stamped it on copy paper to make sure it was straight, and then stamped on white cardstock.


I've been traveling a lot this spring and am off to San Diego tomorrow for some family time. There will be more silence on the blog. I'm leaving Mike behind and asked him to stamp and post for me, but for some reason he's declined.

Disclosure:  I worked hard to pay for all this stuff!! HA

May 15, 2018

Stamping Again!

Continuing to keep it very simple -- I always start with the sentiment. Then I stamped a flower and a center with Mermaid Lagoon and Lemonade Distress Oxide inks onto Ellen Hutson White Linen cardstock. Everything's from Altenew's Floral Garden.

And the same card, with Picked Raspberry and Twisted Citron Distress Oxide inks:

MOOD WHEN DONE: Super happy to be back home and I love these bright colors. Hope to stamp and write more soon!

May 5, 2018


Thought I'd explain the blog silence to come.

I'm away from home helping out with Mike's mom, so there won't be any posts here for a few days or more (not sure).  And my monthly column with Right at Home will be delayed. 
Life happens, doesn't it?

Before I left, I did a "deep clean" of my craft room. So satisfying. Found just a few things that I have no memory of buying, didn't not find my missing scissors (they must have landed in my wastepaper basket at one point), and found one missing clear stamp. To a non stamper this is crazy stuff, but for us, this is big! 

Set aside a large pile of things to give away, so stay tuned for that.

I'm missing Mike, whose home guarding my supplies. Otherwise, I'm good. Hope to be back with cards and talk soon!

Apr 29, 2018

Hello Gorgeous

All of a sudden I've noticed, and fallen in love with, a ton of stamps from The Ton (HA). The first set that caught my eye is an older one, Marvelous Perfumes. Now I have a wish list that's way too long.

Paired one of the perfume bottles in the set with a classic floral set from Altenew, Adore You. Gold embossed and watercolored on some hot press watercolor paper. Hand cut the flowers and leaves and popped up some of them.

Used Hero Arts Indigo liquid watercolor for this card. I need to spend more time figuring out this product.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy! While the flowers need work, I love the color combo. This card is already in the hands of its recipient.

Apr 27, 2018

Visible Image + MISTI Blog Hop

Welcome to the Visible Image + MISTI Blog Hop. These two great companies joined forces this month and I'm thrilled to be part of the fun. Plus, there are prizes (details below)!

I'm sure that many, if not all of you, are familiar with the must-have MISTI from My Sweet Petunia.  It really was a stamping game-changer. I use it with almost every card.

But Visible Image stamps and stencils may be new to you (they were to me). They work really well with mixed media projects. Well, guess who doesn't do mixed media? So I adapted Visible Image products to my way of stamping. Once I got started, I fell in love with these unique designs and couldn't stop making cards ...

1. Mom

Stamped one of the flowers from Imperfection is Beauty in Versamark and embossed in white.  Added a sentiment from Essentials by Ellen. Colored with Distress stains, adhered to a yellow card, and added crystal Nuvo jewel drops. Very easy and fast, particularly since the MISTI helped me tuck that sentiment into just the right spot.

2. Vivid Sunset

Isn't this sentiment fantastic? It's from Your Vivid Colors.

Dropped some Adirondack dye reinkers onto watercolor paper that I had spritzed with water. After the paper dried, I thinned some gold acrylic paint with water and painted onto the card to add some depth to the design. Stamped the sentiment after the card dried and then added Gold Jewel drops and adhered to an A2 card.

3. Fibers Stencil Love

Cut typing paper to 4.25 x 5.5. Die cut heart. Placed the typing paper over an A2 white card and then placed the fun Fibres Stencil horizontally over the mask and sponged some gold, pink, and orange inks. Popped up a sentiment from Altenew and added gold Jewel Drops.

4. Be the Reason

Love this sentiment from Reason to Smile! Used the MISTI to stamp 3 circles in the center of a white linen A2 card and then stamped the sentiment in just the right spot. Again, super fast and easy, thanks to the MISTI.

5. Butterflies and the Fibres Stencil

Stamped the gorgeous butterflies from Own Kind of Beautiful with Distress Oxide inks and added a little water. After it dried, I ran the panel through my Big Shot with an embossing pad and impressed the Fibres Stencil pattern onto the panel. Stamped the sentiment and added some sequins. Finally, popped up the panel on an A2 card.

I had so much fun using these products -- proving (I think!) that you can use these gorgeous images in a variety of ways. Can't wait to see how the other stampers used them.


Two lucky commenters from the hop will win one of two prizes: a $50 shopping spree at My Sweet Petunia and a $50 shopping spree at Visible Image. In order to be eligible, you must comment no later than Monday, April 30th, at 11:59 PM central time. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, May 1st, on the Visible Image and My Sweet Petunia blogs

The Blog Hop

Here are the links to all the talented participants in today's hop. 

Joan Bardee  --> me!
My Sweet Petunia

Disclosure: I bought my MISTI eons ago (although My Sweet Petunia kindly sent me a smaller version). Visible Image provided all the stamps and the stencil to me for use in this hop. Thank you to both companies!

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Delighted to be part of this hop. I fell in love with these products. On the other hand, my craft room is a disaster. All this "quick" and "clean and simple" stamping left a mess of epic proportions in my craft room!