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!