Jul 22, 2019

Sympathy



I was very fortunate to be able to purchase one of the de-stashing boxes that the amazing Laura Bassen had for sale a few weeks ago. For just the cost of shipping ($15), Laura packed the box with dozens of stamp sets, dies, and stencils.

I made this card with two of the items in the box -- Altenew's Cherished Memories (the sentiment) and Build A Flower - Carnation. I usually buy sympathy cards, but I decided to make a few to have on hand. I prefer keeping them as simple as possible and this fits the bill.

Colored with a few Copic markers and added some black dots as it seemed a bit empty. Now I need to buy some clear plastic protectors for my cards as too many of them are ending up damaged.

MOOD WHEN DONE: I'm good. Hope you have a great week!


Jul 19, 2019

All About Color (and Life!)


Had so much fun coloring this card! It's all Copic, including the yellow background. This is a very large image -- you need a large stamp positioner to use it, and even with that it's not easy to ink up. But 3 or 4 presses with Memento Tuxedo ink did the trick. A few gold gems finished off the card.  



Supplies: Altenew Sketchy Florals; Penny Black Leaf Stitched Frame Die; Copics; gold gems; foam tape.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy. This was a fun, and surprisingly easy card to make.

It's been awhile since I posted and it occurred to me the other day that I'm just coming out of some post surgery funk. I think two procedures within a month just knocked me out, both physically and emotionally. I am so happy to have that behind me. Most of the time I forget I have a defibrillator inside my heart -- and that's a good thing. But, man, I think it took a toll, as evidenced by my more than one melt down.  Grateful to have a loving and patient husband.

We went away for a few days this week and returned yesterday, and I think a different location helped. I came back energized to get moving. I took about 2/3 of my stamps (!!) and put them in a box in a closet in my craft room. They aren't going anywhere, but having less cluttering up my eyesight is refreshing. And then today I sat down and made a couple of cards, including this one.

Next week I'm being interviewed for a volunteer position and I'm pretty excited about it. I've looked into a few since we got to Dallas and none of them were a good fit. Then all the medical stuff messed up my plans. So, if it works out, I'll let you know what it's all about.

Thanks for still being here and reading this blog!

Jul 18, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Peet Roeven (on Penny Black Blog)





Returning from a short vacation today and have limited internet, so here's a quick link to my post on the Penny Black blog.    This is one of the two cards I made inspired by Peet Roeven.

Can I just say that Peet Roeven is amazing and if you unfamiliar with her cards, then are you even a stamper??

HA.

Hope to be back with more cards and talk soon! 

Jul 1, 2019

Positivity


I love this sentiment so much -- it's from Voices in My Head by Julie Ebersole at Essentials by Ellen. Know a few folks (I mean pretty much everyone, right?) who could use some positive thoughts.

Decided that this My Favorite Things stencil would work great with the sentiment. Placed the stencil over watercolor paper and masked each section one at a time. Rubbed Distress Oxide inks onto an acrylic block, spritzed with water, and then picked up the paint and watercolored each section over the stencil.

Made a second card, using essentially the same technique, except I used a blender
brush to color in with the same Distress Oxide inks onto Neenah Solar White cardstock.




MOOD WHEN DONE:  I'm good. Like the cards and really enjoyed making them and that's what this hobby is all about, right?



Jun 27, 2019

Alcohol Marker Background


Decided it was time for some bright fun colors. The blue panel and pink flowers are one panel -- stamped, masked, and colored with Copic and Altenew alcohol markers, including the blue background.

Supplies:  Altenew Smile More  and Beautiful Day. Assorted markers, sequins, etc. White splatters from white gouache, water, and a paint brush.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  This. was. fun. I have no idea what I'm doing with alcohol markers, but I like the result and I hope the recipient does!


Jun 24, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Kate Shudrova (Day 2)

This post is a part of a series on improving my card making by studying other designers' cards. If you're unfamiliar with this series, you can learn more about it here

Today I'm continuing my study of the super talented Kate Shudrova. By the way, Kate's has been posting a bunch of new cards on her Instagram feed. You don't have to join IG to see them. Check them out here


KATE'S CARD





WHAT I LIKE ABOUT KATE'S CARD

  • Using a kraft card base with the popped-up burst of flowers is a fantastic combination.
  • Placing the sentiment in the lower corner is unexpected and it works. I wouldn't have thought of that.
  • Adding white to a kraft card always brightens up the kraft.
  • See the stitching on the left of the card? It's another unexpected detail that adds visual interest without detracting from the clean and "simple" look. I also like how Kate only stitched over edge of the floral arrangement but kept the rest of the arrangement popped up.
  • It's gorgeous!! 
MY CARD



WHAT I LEARNED
  • Haven't used a kraft card base in awhile and I think I'll use them more often. It's a nice change from white.
  • Love the placement of the sentiment. Kate's works a bit better because her main image is larger and almost points to the sentiment. But I like mine too. I'll use this layout again.
  • My focal image is smaller than Kate's and when I placed the hydrangea against the kraft panel it looked a little lost. It needed something to tie it to the sentiment. So I added some white gouache paint speckles and I think that worked well. 
  • Kate's card has a beautiful selection of reds and blues. I decided to mimic that by varying the colors of the petals. It's not a particularly "realistic" rendering of a hydrangea, but this is me, and I'm not Hallmark!
  • Keep reading....
Supplies for my card:  Essentials by Ellen by Julie Ebersole Mondo Hydrangea stamp and die (an all time favorite); sentiment from Abstract Builder by Pinkfresh Studios; and Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Well, this was quite the process. I started out studying this gorgeous card that Kate recently posted: 


Everything about this card speaks to me -- the shine, the one layer, no embellishments. You could walk into an upscale boutique and find this. 

Despite numerous attempts, using different sentiments, papers, watercolors, metallic paints, and ink pads, I just couldn't make anything that I would send to anyone or share online. A lot of paper died in the effort. 

I learned that to make a card like this, you need the perfect sentiment, the ability to paint in just the right spot, and the right combination of paper and metallic paints. Kudos to Kate, but it will be awhile before I'll try this again!

EDITED TO ADD:  Breaking news on Kate's card. Turns out she used foil to add that gorgeous shine. Kate told me that she used a digital brush or image, printed out on a laser printer, and then foiled. Genius.



Jun 20, 2019

Positive Mental Vibes


I just love the set Voices in My Head by Julie Ebersole! I also love Pinkfresh Studio's Abstract Builder. As soon as they came, I started fooling around with both of them and ended up with this quick card. Used a small splatter type stamp to frame the sentiment in two colors and added the heart embellishment.

Busy day, so I'll cut this short.

MOOD WHEN DONE:  No complaints, except for the heat. Yikes! BTW, I need a Voices in My Head by Julie Ebersole, Volume II!!

Jun 18, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Kate Shudrova (Day One)


Learning Through Inspiration is back! This is a series on improving my card making by studying other designers' cards. If you're unfamiliar with this series, you can learn more about it here.

* * *

Today I'm introducing some lessons learned by studying Ekaterina a/k/a Katherine (Kate) Shudrova, who blogs at Little Things. It's the perfect name for her blog as every one of her cards is a little piece of design happiness. Kate is also on Instagram as Thingiewingie, and on Flickr.

Kate lives in Russia. Lately, I find that some of my favorite new-to-me designers are from outside the US, particularly in Russia and the countries nearby. There's a style to their work -- light and airy -- that I love.

Kate is not new to me -- I've been a huge fan of Kate's work for a long time, and am always thrilled when she posts a card -- which isn't as often as I would like! If you check out her cards, you'll see that they are "clean and simple," but often have an unusual layout or an interesting use of dies. She adds fun details, and the result is fun and fresh. I love everything she makes! 

KATE'S CARD


WHAT I LIKE ABOUT KATE'S CARD

  • The layout -- I never think to cut a layer on angles. It adds a lot of interest without a lot of bulk. 
  • The sewing on the top and bottom white layer is the perfect touch. Again, as her blog is titled, it's those little things that Kate does that I love so much.
  • Solid flowers -- Kate uses a lot of solid images and it's a refreshing break from all the coloring I've been seeing and been doing.
  • White and kraft is a great combination. 
  • Except for the sewing, this card is reproducible. I can do this! 
MY CARD


WHAT I LEARNED

  • I pretty much set out to copy Kate's card. Along the way, I made a few changes, some were intentional and some were not. Take a moment to look at both cards. Can you spot the changes?
  • I learned that these changes make a difference. In general, everything Kate did added to the softness of her card, while mine ended up bolder.
  • The color and placement of my flowers differ. Kate used blue and yellow and I substituted a pink/coral combination for the blue. Kate's colors are a bit softer and that's a personal preference. Either one works.
  • But notice where Kate placed her yellow flower. It's slightly higher than the blue flower. When I stamped my card, I didn't notice that and placed the flowers on the same plane. Kate's is a bit more interesting -- the eye moves around the card more easily.
  • Kate added a few light splatters on her card and I opted not to do so. I just didn't want to risk messing up the card, and I don't think it made a big difference -- although the light splatters add to the softer look of Kate's card.
  • Kate chose a finer sentiment, which is consistent with her paler colors -- mine is bolder and goes better with my color palette. 
  • Kate added some fun sewing with loose threads on the top and bottom of the white panel. I don't sew. While I prefer her cleaner look, this is another style preference. It's neater and easier to mail and just plain fun. 
  • Finally, look at the bottom of Kate's white panel. The lower left corner does not extend all the way down the length of the kraft cardbase. Mine does. I think this does make a difference -- Kate's card looks more balanced. 
  • It's amazing what you notice when you really study a card. Go ahead and look at a card you like, close your laptop or phone, and make a copy. See what you notice about the first card after you are done! It's a great exercise.
My supplies: Altenew A Beautiful Day. Sentiment is from Concord & 9th.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy! I so appreciate Kate's willingness to let me post her card. I'll be back with a couple of more posts focusing on Kate's fantastic cards. 

It's so great to be back stamping. I'm feeling 100% and am thrilled to say that! 

Jun 13, 2019

Timeless



Recently bought Timeless Tulips from Mama Elephant. (Part of my pre surgery binge!) It's an older set, but I've had my eye on it for a long time. It's, well, timeless! No regrets on this purchase.

Decided to keep my first card with this stamp simple -- stamp on watercolor paper, emboss in white, and add some watercolor. Then I added the little heart and the sentiment, trimmed, and adhered with foam tape on slate cardstock.


MOOD WHEN DONE: I'm sitting here feeling particularly grateful for every single good thing. I hope you all have enough good in your life to feel grateful!

Spent a couple of hours yesterday sending cards to some folks who need a lift. I find that sending all this paper, rather than let it clog my craft room, is a wonderful lift for me! If you want a card, feel free to email me at imakeitalk@gmail.com and I'll put you on my list! 

Jun 7, 2019

Flora & Fauna Thank You


Went on a crafty shopping spree before my recent surgery (it's the new hidden cost of health care!), and wow, I have a lot of new-to-me things in the house. So, when I needed a thank you card, of course I reached for a set that I've had for a long time because nothing I bought sang to me.

I have limited ability to shop smart.  I take a long time to decide what to get, often filling up shopping carts at multiple stores (sorry), and then very carefully pressing spend. And I still make mistakes! Some of the stamps I bought are much larger (or much smaller) than my brain processed. Or they don't seem as versatile as I first thought. Or, I try them and am not happy with the results.

--->  Minor life issue, but I would love to hear how you wade through the onslaught of new products. It's not just that there are so many products, but I miss being able to eyeball the products in a brick and mortar store. 

In any event, for this card, I masked off a space for a watercolored background and then stamped images and a sentiment from Flora & Fauna's Graphic Flowers set (which appears to be retired) on watercolor paper.  No coloring required with this technique.

And then I was done.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Good! All quiet over here. Recovery is going well...

Jun 5, 2019

Where I Chat About Math on The Foiled Fox Blog...


I made a couple of cards a few weeks ago and, yeah, they are on The Foiled Fox blog today.


I talk about the differences in these cards, how math and design intersect, and generally overthink both cards ... would love if you checked out my post.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy!


May 30, 2019

For Better or for Worse

I'd been awake for 2 hours and no breakfast. I took a shower, but the movement of my arm caused a great deal of pain. It's not going away. I'm dying.

I call out: "Can you please get me some breakfast?"

He comes in the room right away.

"Oh yes, what do you want?"
"Rice Crispies and a banana."

He brings me a bowl of Rice Crispies with milk, and a banana, unpeeled. He knows I can't use my left arm without searing pain. Will the banana strip itself?

"I can't peel the banana. Can you peel it, and slice it, and put it in the cereal?"

He takes it all away and a few minutes later brings me a bowl of Rice Crispies and skim milk, with a sliced banana in the cereal. 

After he walks away, I notice that the spoon isn't the right size. It's a large spoon, not a teaspoon. Who eats cereal with a jumbo spoon?

I call out: "Can you please get me a teaspoon? I can't eat cereal with a large spoon."

He brings me the teaspoon, but doesn't stay long enough to take away the large spoon. It's like he's running away from me. Am I supposed to eat the cereal with a huge spoon sitting there alongside the banana?

I call out: "Can you take away this spoon?"

He comes back and takes away the spoon.

I eat my cereal. It tastes good.

I get up, slowly. My laptop is in the way. I've got an empty bowl in my right hand and my laptop in my left. Searing pain hits my left shoulder area. I shouldn't be carrying this laptop, but I don't want to sit there with a laptop on my lap, and an empty cereal bowl sitting on my lap.

I finish getting up, and the remote control bangs to the wood floor. My phone follows. The blanket is in the way. I move slowly, trying to avoid tripping on the blanket and briefly wonder if my phone is broken.

I walk the one step to the bed and put my laptop on the bed. I carry the empty cereal bowl and spoon to the kitchen, place it on the counter, and walk back. I pick up the unbroken phone and the remote control and get back in the recliner. The pain is excruciating.

He comes back in.

"Do you want your laptop?"

"Yes."

As he hands me my laptop, he says "I'm making veggie chili tonight. Do you want cornbread or biscuits with it?"

We have a freezer full of food. Why is he cooking something else? What I really want is macaroni and cheese with a side of mashed potatoes. Any maybe some bacon sprinkled on top of all of it. I don't want healthy. For a brief moment I just want to be alone. It's not my job to figure out what we will be eating tonight. Just leave me alone.

"We have a freezer full of food. Why make anything else?"

"I want something healthy. We haven't been eating all that great lately."

So now it's my fault. It's my fault that I have a genetic heart disease. It's my fault that the coil in my heart moved and I had to have another surgery to fix the defibrillator -- the device that scares the hell out of me. It's my fault that you asked for hot dogs and tater tots, with a chaser of potato chips, the night before the surgery. It's my fault that you have no idea that cornbread or biscuits are not healthy. They are going to kill you anyway, so you might as well have real chili with real meat with real fat that will clog your real arteries.

I decide to take the high road: "You are doing all the work. Whomever cooks gets to decide what to cook."

"But figuring out what to eat is the hardest part."

Welcome to my world, buddy. I have to figure out what we eat every day. Now it's your turn. Deal with it. I'd been home from the hospital less than 2 hours when I got a bill from the hospital. And the bill is wrong. Despite my pain, I sent off a message to billing and explained why it was wrong. This morning the hospital wrote back. I was right. The bill is gone. There's $48.35 that I earned while in pain and fear. I'm handling everything. You can handle the life changing issue of biscuits or cornbread. And while I'm at it, no one eats chili with biscuits. That's just wrong.

As he leaves to go the grocery store, I call out: "Can you bring me back a frappuccino? With whipped cream?"

"Ok."

I can hear it in the "OK." I know what you are thinking. I need whipped cream like I need a heart attack. I don't care. I don't have clogged arteries and even if I did, I just don't care. Not today. I'll care tomorrow. Or the day after. Or Monday. Monday is a great day to start caring. I want what I want. I deserve whipped cream this morning.

"Thanks!"

He walks away. I love him so much.

****

I woke up around 4. I noticed she'd been awake on and off all night. She'd pick up her phone for a second to check the time and, even though she slept in the recliner, the light bothered me. I couldn't get back to sleep. I'm tired and the sun isn't up.

I want to go for a run this morning, before the guy shows up to work on our insulation issues, but I put off the run. I know she'll need me around to help, and I want to go to the grocery store soon. She filled up the freezer with food prior to the surgery, but the stress of another surgery had both of us eating poorly. I need some healthy food. And so does she.

Hmm. She's taking a shower. She must be feeling better. I'm so relieved. I hate seeing her in pain. I'm so worried that she's going to die on me and then.. . Forget it. I can't go there.

Finally finished upgrading our wi-fi so she can watch Netflix. She can't do much else, so this is the one thing I can do to really help.

I hear her calling out. I get up quickly to see what she wants.

"I'm hungry. I want breakfast. Please."

She has politics on. I can't be in the room when she does that. She knows it drives me crazy. But it's on and I don't say anything.

"What do you want?"

She sits there silent for a moment. Then: "Rice Crispies. And can I have a banana too?"

"Ok"

I bring her a bowl of Rice Crispies, with skim milk and a banana. Exactly like she said.

"Can you peel the banana?"

"Ok, do you want it on the side or in the cereal?"

"In the cereal. You know, I have a banana in my cereal all the time now. Remember, I said I really liked a banana with Rice Crispies, so I stopped buying Cheerios and started eating Rice Crispies with a sliced banana in the bowl? I mean I've been eating that every morning for the past 2 weeks? Didn't you notice?"

Must have missed that breaking news. I think it was drowned out by the sound of politics...

I take it all away and a few minutes later bring her a bowl of Rice Crispies and skim milk, with a sliced banana in the bowl.

After I walk away, I hear: "Can you please get me a teaspoon? I can't eat cereal with a large spoon."

I bring her a teaspoon. What do you do with the large one if you don't eat cereal with it? I eat my non fat yogurt with raisins with it all the time. Now that's a good breakfast. I think cereal is junk.

She calls out: "Can you take away this spoon?"

I walk back and take away the spoon. The large spoon. The spoon for which there is no obvious purpose in life.

I come back in.

"Do you want your laptop?"

"Yes."

I want to help. As I hand her the laptop, I say: "I'm making veggie chili tonight. Do you want cornbread or biscuits with it?"

"We have a freezer full of food. Why make something else?"

I'm not having lasagna or any of the other stuff in the freezer. I want something that isn't going to kill me. Or her. For a brief moment I just want to be alone. I want to go for a run, by myself. I want to go to Starbucks, sip a hot black coffee, and read my book. Alone. I don't want Netflix. I want music. I don't want to give her those pills or make dinner or slice a banana or get the small spoon or be here for the insulation guy. I want to get in my car and just keep on driving.

So I say, "We've had a lot of heavy food lately. I want something healthy. It would be good for both of us."

As soon as I say it, I know it was the wrong thing to say.

She tells me to figure it out myself, but as I leave, she calls out: "Can I have a frappuccino? With whipped cream?"

"Ok."

"Thanks, Mikey. I love you."

"I love you too."

I love her so much.

****

MOOD WHEN DONE: Grateful for the best husband in the world. I'll be back in a couple of weeks (maybe sooner?) with stamping!! 

May 22, 2019

Hey


Letting the color do the work here! Rub a couple of ink pads (Distress Oxide Picked Raspberry and Wild Honey) on some paper, and walk away while it dries. Stamp a nice large sentiment (from the Stamp Market's Bloominous), and add a tiny one (from Mama Elephant) that makes sense. Sit back and declare it done.

MOOD WHEN DONE: While I was working on this, all I could think of was how, when we were in school, we would say "hey," and the nuns would say "hay's for horses." I'm not sure "hey" is a word but I've given up on the grammar wars.

Speaking of 8th grade, our teacher (a nun) assigned our seats based on our grade point average (can you imagine that now?). The student with the highest GPA sat in the 1st row, 1st seat. It wasn't me, and a million years later I'm still grumbling about it! Funny, the (very nice) girl who had the highest GPA is now a nun. Fixed?

May 21, 2019

What More Do You Want?


My mom made essentially the same food every week (macaroni, meatloaf, hamburgers, chicken, eggplant in the winter, and hot dogs). It's a miracle none of us had a heart attack. Once in while she'd surprise us with something different -- usually a Polish dish that she liked or maybe she'd buy a pizza. Cooking wasn't her thing (it's not mine either). She'd put dinner on the table and say: "What more do you want?," meaning this is fine, this is enough, quit complaining.

Lately, when I'm stamping and (finally) make a card I like, I find myself thinking "What more do you want?"

Actually, I have a list but the inner critic must be quashed... 

Balloons from a retired Essentials by Ellen stamp. Stamped by paining Zig markers onto the stamp and then watercoloring. Hand drew the dots and the bows and strings. Sentiment from Altenew. All old stuff!

MOOD WHEN DONE: I'm good....



May 17, 2019

All About The Foiled Fox + A Sale!

I've got this bright card over on The Foiled Fox blog today, with lots of chatter (duh) to go with it. I hope you check it out here.



And the good news is that there's a sale going on!



I was delighted when Shauna Todd, owner of The Foiled Fox, asked me to guest design and thought I'd use this chance to tell you a little bit about the shop (she didn't ask me to do so, I just want to share my enthusiasm). 

I'm a customer. Here's my experiences with the shop as a straight up full pay customer (disclosure: Shauna sent me The Stamp Market's Bloominous stamp and die set). 

  • shipped in a day
  • free shipping in the US with you spend more than $50 
  • candy (as in sugar!) in the package
  • anything liquid or fragile was wrapped in bubble wrap (which I reuse)
  • what more do you want?
Foiled Fox is a family business (love that). Shauna Todd is the owner and her daughters, son-in-law, and her husband work together. But that's not all. The cutest part is that even Shauna's 7 year old granddaughter Mackenzie (Mac) lends a hand along with Oliver/Ollie/Ollibear, their granddog.

Shauna shared with me that, after a 40 year career, she finally decided to work where her passion is. When I read that, I was struck with how hard it must be to open a small business. Paper crafting is full of major corporations, big companies, and mom and pop shops. It's competitive. It's so much more than ordering fun products -- it's taxes and insurance and competition and social media and design and computers and shipping and customer service and stuff I can't imagine. I'm so impressed with folks who know what they want and take the risks to make them happen. 

Foiled Fox searches out unique products, and since Shauna is passionate about calligraphy, it carries calligraphy supplies. It carries many of the companies we see every day, but also a few new-to-me companies, such as PaperArtsy and Paper Rose. And I'm thrilled that they carry a large line of Penny Black products.

Ok, this is starting to sound like an ad, and I am not a salesperson -- just enthusiastic about supporting good people running small businesses. 

MOOD WHEN DONE:  Happy! Have a wonderful weekend. 






May 15, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Heather Telford Day 3


Please check out my post on the Penny Black blog, where I finish up my learning from the talented Heather Telford.  Thanks. I hope to be back on blogging here soon!

May 11, 2019

Happy Mother's Day. ps. Are You Depressed?


Gayle Madden (not her real name) was 28 and in my legal aid office. According to the paperwork she handed me, she was planning on giving away her daughters, 5 and 3, to the state. I looked at Gayle and the first thought I had was how uncomfortable she looked. She sat stiffly in the chair, her face scarred with acne, twirling her brown hair. After years of working in legal aid, I had learned how to spot someone with a serious mental illness. Gayle looked medicated and ill.

Eventually the story came out. Gayle suffered, and I mean suffered, from schizophrenia. I'm not familiar with current treatment options, but 35 years ago there wasn't much available to help Gayle, other than debilitating drugs. Gayle heard voices at times, was frequently forgetful, fearful, and disorganized. She couldn't work and could barely take care of herself. She definitely couldn't continue to take care of her kids.

It's horrible to be alone and so sick that you have to give away your kids. It's even worse when you aren't alone and have to give away your kids. The children had a father -- Gayle's ex-husband -- but he didn't want custody of his kids. So he had already signed away his rights. (Normally, you can't just walk away from your parental responsibilities and I never really understood why the state let him get away with that, but it had and there we were.) Gayle also had a mother and 2 sisters who lived about 50 miles away. They "weren't interested" in the kids either.

I had become adept at tamping down my emotions at work. You learn quickly to develop a bit of a shell in order to get the job done -- there's a lot of sadness out there. Sometimes we'd joke about our clients -- not in a mean way, but as a way of coping. I suspect that paramedics, teachers, nurses, doctors, social workers, and others with similar jobs do the same thing. But occasionally, I'd be blindsided by the sadness or injustice of some circumstances. This was one of those times.

I explained to Gayle that the court would have to find her "unfit" and that, if she changed her mind and thought she could take care of her children in the future, she would have the burden of proving that she was no longer an unfit parent. If they were adopted, there would be no such opportunity. In other words, once the Judge signed the order, it was unlikely her children would ever live with her again. She would never know what happened to her girls. I also explained that she would lose her welfare checks when she no longer had the children. Without her welfare checks, she would lose her Medicaid. Medicaid paid for her drugs and those drugs kept her out the hospital. But, we would help her apply for disability and get back her Medicaid. Her disability check would be smaller and it might take a while to get it; she would need to cope with that too. After a bit, I was satisfied Gayle understood and had the capacity to make the decision, so there wasn't much else for me to do.

A few weeks later we went to court and, after a short presentation by the state and no objection by me, the Judge asked Gayle a few questions and then declared Gayle to be an "unfit" parent. At that point, Gayle stood up, and in a moment of exquisite, heartbreaking clarity, told the Judge that she didn't think it was fair to be called unfit. As Gayle put it, it would be unfit of her to keep her children. She was acting out of love and concern, not neglect. She asked the Judge to please "just say I have been a good mom."

The Judge sat there silent. I fumed. Gayle was making the hardest decision I'd ever seen someone make and the Judge was inexplicably making it worse. So I stood up and asked the Judge to please tell Gayle that he agreed that she was a good mom, acting out of love and concern, and to please explain that the "unfit" language was an unfortunate technicality. The Judge then said "These proceedings are over." Banging his big dumb gavel, he got up, and walked out.

There was no happy ending. Mr. Madden didn't appear at the last minute to save the kids from foster care; the judge showed no compassion. There were no magic pills for Gayle to take and get better and regain custody. The children didn't send me a letter 10 years later thanking me for helping their mother. Rather, the social worker and I walked Gayle back to the street and we both went back to work. Gayle moved several times, was in and out of the hospital, but got her disability checks and had her Medicaid restored. And then I lost track of her. I don't know what happened to her girls.

It's been over 35 years since I thought about Gayle, but she was on my mind this week. I've been struggling with anxiety and a bit of depression lately. I know both quite well, and I have lots of techniques (including stamping) for squashing them. However, this week they got out of control.

Depression and anxiety rob us of simple joys and distort the truth. I began to dread Mother's Day. I'm not a big fan of these holidays anyway, as many end up feeling left out or disappointed. This is the first one where I had no occasion to make a card or send a gift as my mother-in-law died last May. I'm still adjusting to living in Dallas and I found myself wandering around the house trying to figure out a way to return to Virginia. I can't seem to make a decision about a medical issue and endlessly weigh the options.

As the rains fell and the sky stayed dark, my mood sunk even further. I'd walk in the house, put down a bag of groceries and cry as I thought of problems just mounting. I couldn't sleep, tossing and turning and feeling hopeless. I'd go on social media and resent all the happiness I thought I saw. I started thinking of every sad thing that has ever happened or could happen, including Gayle.

Remembering Gayle and her sad story changed my mood. Rather than make me feel more depressed, as I thought about her enormous sacrifice, and her children's circumstances, I once again was gripped with overwhelming gratitude for my life and all its gifts. Once gratitude took hold, there was little room to stay depressed.*

The heart decision could wait, and without depression's shade, doesn't seem that big of a deal anymore. The house felt cozy in the rain and thunder. I applied for another volunteer job (so far my other attempts haven't worked out), and I am looking forward to seeing our son on Mother's Day -- I plan on beating him at several board games! This is the first Mother's Day that we will be together since he was in high school. This is why we moved here. I began to feel foolish. If Gayle, whose situation was immeasurably worse than mine in every single aspect, could cope, so could I.

Depression makes small issues seem overwhelming and big issues impossible. Anxiety just messes with everything. Don't let them trick you. Don't let a holiday trick you. Don't let social media trick you. If you are struggling, perhaps just taking the time to remember all the Gayles out there will help you in the same way that it helped me.

*A serious clinical depression needs a serious response, whether it's medication, therapy, or other treatments, or a combination of them. Reading this blog is not a serious response!

ps. to all celebrating -- have a happy mother's day!

May 8, 2019

More Learning Through Inspiration

I'm happy to be back on the Penny Black blog today continuing my study of Heather Telford. You can read about my adventures here.

Here's a snippet of one of my cards --


Hope you like it!


May 1, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Heather Telford (Day One)


Here's a snippet of a card I made while learning from the fabulous Heather Telford. My series on learning from Heather starts today on the Penny Black blog here. Would love if you checked it out! 

Apr 15, 2019

Paper Connection



Crafters can be so kind. I was so happy to receive some cards -- and flowers! -- from some crafty friends when I had my heart procedure a few weeks ago. I treasured those. Every day I'd look at the tulips and the cards and they made me feel connected and valued.

Receiving those gifts reminded me that I can do a much better job of reaching out to others in need of a paper connection (a/k/a a card). So, this card will go out to someone who needs a lift.


Used the non-butterfly stamps in a beautiful set by Penny Black called Butterfly Garden (gifted to me by PB).

I love this layout -- stamp the top and bottom edges and place a sentiment in the middle. Super easy.

Colored with Altenew alcohol markers, adhered some Pretty Pink Posh clear droplets and shaded the top and bottom edges with Frayed Leaf ink by Altenew. Looks like a one layer card, but the top layer is a separate piece adhered to an A2 card.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Awesome. My good friend visited last week and we went all Dallas tourist. Advice:  don't go to the boarding house where Lee Harvey Oswald was living. It is all out the creepiest place I've ever been. Still can't shake the feeling! Also: interesting that everyone referred to Oswald as the "alleged" assassin. Really?

I'm feeling great -- back to stamping, and occasionally cooking (my new least favorite chore) HA.


Apr 7, 2019

Springtime Birthday Wishes


I made this card a few weeks ago and thought the beginning of April would be a good time to share it. This was a snap to make -- trim the patterned paper, stamp the sentiment, color this Penny Black Together stamp with markers, stamp, redo to add shading, and add to an A2 card.  Love the combination of bright pink with the Modern Graphics black dotted paper -- wish I could buy that paper in bulk!




Supplies:  Penny Black Together; Penny Black Good Wishes sentiment set; Modern Graphics patterned paper designed by Julie Ebersole; Tombow Dual Brush Markers. (Penny Black let me pick out some stamps from its current Timeless collection and these are some of my favorites from that collection).

MOOD WHEN DONE: Hanging in there. I've pretty much recovered from the surgery to implant the defibrillator. I can start driving again in a few days and can start wearing clothes that have to go over my head to put on (it's the little things). Yeah!

However, to be honest, every heart thing leaves me a bit depressed. Not depressed as in I need a doctor, but just a little down. I guess it's that whole life/death thing and being away from so many friends. I'm keeping busy (seriously, this hobby saves me), which is always the best medicine. Plus gratitude for everything I have lifts my spirits. Just writing that sentence helps. Thanks for listening!

Apr 4, 2019

Using What I Learn


I'm having a lot of fun doing the Learning with Inspiration series and thought I would make a card that applies some of the lessons I've learned. (Several people assumed that the series was over -- it's not; I'm just taking a break from it.)

For this card I used some watercoloring tips I learned through studying Natasha Volkovskaya and Jill Foster. You can see my posts studying Natasha here and here (I can no longer find a good link to her blog but she remains very active on Instagram as Craft Away With Me.) You can find my posts studying Jill on the Penny Black blog here, here, and here.

  • Nathasha makes fantastic backgrounds and by studying hers I was able to see that she leaves a fair amount of white space. Jill makes sure there is a lot of variation from light to dark. 
  • I often use a flat brush for a background. A flat brush leaves a solid area of color. The color ends up being, well, flat! That can be a great choice, but I wanted to create something that mimicked water and sky and had some white space and variation in tone. 
  • So, I used the water brush you can see in the picture below. The small tip allowed me to get the variation in color I wanted.
  • Used dye reinkers for the paint, rather than watercolor paints. This is something Jill does a lot and it allows for more intense colors. The more water I added the lighter the color. I went over the butterflies, leaves, and flowers with reinker and very little water so that they did not get lost in the background.





Supplies:  Penny Black Butterfly Dance; Altenew Many Thanks; Adirondack Dye Reinkers (Sail Blue and Clover); Gina K cardstock; Canson cold press watercolor paper; Versamark; Wow Bright White Superfine Embossing Powder.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Happy! I'm posting cards made before my heart procedure, but I continue to improve and hope to be stamping soon. A good friend is visiting next week and I'm very happy about that!

BTW, this large cling stamp is from Penny Black and is one of several Penny Black stamps I bought recently. Add that to the ones Penny Black gave me and some I had, but never used, and you can expect to see a fair amount of Penny Black on this blog in the near future!

Apr 2, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration -- More Jill Foster

I've got 2 cards on the Penny Black blog today. It's my last post studying Jill Foster and I think you'll like it. At least I hope so!  Here's a couple of snippets of my cards.



MOOD WHEN DONE:  What a treat to be hosted by Penny Black. I learned a LOT from studying Jill. Such talent. Thank you so much!


Apr 1, 2019

Breaking News! Patent Pending!! Giveaway!







PRESS RELEASE

April 1, 2019

DEAR PAPERLICIOUS LLC OBTAINS PATENT ON INVISIBLE STAMPS AND DIES


Dallas, Texas, April 1, 2019/Real News Corp. Dear Paperlicious today announced the issuance of a patent on its new line of Invisible Stamps and Dies known as "Really Clear Stamps™ and Really Clear Dies™."

"I got tired of cleaning and storing my stamps and dies. 
I'm thrilled that I can leave 
my Really Clear Stamps™ and Really Clear Dies™ anywhere in the house 
and my husband won't be able to see them." 

This new line of stamps and dies also addresses the increasing amount of blatant theft design in the industry. "Thieves here in the US and China, and elsewhere, steal the designs of hardworking stamp companies and sell them online and at craft shows." Some customers buy these stolen stamps and dies without knowing that they have been stolen, but most purchasers are fully aware that they are buying stolen property. In addition to being illegal and unethical, this practice threatens the existence of many small companies.

"The sellers and the customers who buy stolen property
are no better than the thief who breaks into your house and steals your wallet and possessions. 
The number of companies whose stamp and die designs have been stolen, and the number of customers who knowingly buy these stolen products, is ** appalling. 
I had to do something."

Patent No. 4.1.2019 covers a groundbreaking new process and material by which clear stamps are, finally, really clear. And, because, once we graduate from kindergarten, we are unable to use scissors, all Really Clear Stamps™ will come bundled with coordinating Really Clear Dies™. 

The patent also covers a mechanism by which purchases can see their Really Clear™ stamps and dies -- a clever new device that permits the crafter to place the stamps and dies on a special electronic InVisibility Plate™. The InVisibility Plate™ will allow the stamps and dies to be visible for 30 minutes (90 minutes during certain time change periods). "We recommend that stampers remember where they've placed their Really Clear Stamps™ and Really Clear Dies™ in order to be able to put them on the InVisibility Plate™.  Note: the InVisibility Plate™is currently visible.

"The InVisibility Plate™ is pure genius."

For more information, please leave a comment below. All commenters will be eligible for the opportunity to giveaway some of their $$ to Dear Paperlicious to defray the costs of making and distributing these products. Winners will be announced soon.

All products will be available exclusively at well known legitimate craft stores no later than April 1, 2020.


** "is appalling" or "are appalling"?

Mar 29, 2019

More Learning Through Inspiration and a Life Update



My latest Learning Through Inspiration, studying Jill Foster, is up on the Penny Black blog. You can find it on this post.  Would love if you checked it out!

Life Update

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may know that I got a cardiac defibrillator* implanted this week. It's a long story as to why I decided to go down this route again, but ultimately my doctors convinced me that it could prolong my life.

I decided that I could live with the anxiety of my heart stopping, or live with the anxiety of the ICD going off by mistake (that's happened to me with a prior ICD and it is horrible) or causing a life threatening infection. We all face hard choices and this was a hard one, but I'm glad I did it.

I am enormously grateful for the gift of life. All of us have a limited amount of time and the opportunity to possibly prolong my time is worth the pain and risk of getting and having an ICD.

I have limited use of my left arm for the next few weeks (there's a wire from the ICD near my left collar bone into my heart and I can't risk dislodging it until it heals). Plus, pain! I'll be up on the Penny Black blog next Tuesday with a prewritten post, but other than that, I'm not sure how long a break I'll take from stamping. Hopefully, not too long!


* An internal cardioverter defibrillator, known as an ICD, is placed in your body surgically. In the event you go into a fatal heart rhythm, it will shock your heart and usually terminate the fatal heart rhythm.

Mar 20, 2019

Winners of the RBG Birthday Blog Hop!

The following people won prizes!


Kelly Purkey set: Cornelia 
Kelly Purkey set: Glennis 

Hero Arts set: SmilynStef 
Hero Arts set: Helen Kolb 

Congratulations and please email me your full names and addresses. My email is imakeitalk@gmail.com.  If I do not hear from you in the next few days I will have to track you down and I will leave a trail of glitter on your doorstep...

Mar 19, 2019

Learning Through Inspiration: Jill Foster (Day One)

My Learning Through Inspiration series continues today on the Penny Black blog. You can find my post here. Would love if you checked it out. Here's a snippet of the card I made inspired by the card artist Jill Foster.



I  had recently purchased a bunch of Penny Black stamps in anticipation of doing a series on the amazing Jill Foster when Jill reached out to me on behalf of Penny Black to do a series on its blog. Thanks so much to Jill and Penny Black for providing me with additional new products from its Timeless series.

I'll be back on the Penny Black blog two more times, but I'll be sharing a lot more Penny Black here.

If you are new to my blog, welcome. You can find more about this series here.

A New Series: Learning Through Inspiration
Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day One)
Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day Two)
Learning Through Inspiration: Yana Smakula (Day Three)
Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day One)
Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day Two)
Learning Through Inspiration: Laura Bassen (Day Three)
Learning Through Inspiration: Natasha Valkovskaya (Day One)
Learning Through Inspiration: Natasha Valkovskaya (Day Two)
Learning Through Inspiration: Jill Foster (Day One) on Penny Black blog

MOOD WHEN DONE: EEEK. I'm pretty excited. I love writing and I love stamping and the opportunity to write in my own voice on a company blog has been a goal of mine. And for it to be Penny Black is a super dream come true! I hope you enjoy the series.


Mar 15, 2019

Happy Birthday Justice Ginsburg

Today is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's 86th birthday and, along with a few friends, we are celebrating with a little blog hop and giveaway!

My reasons for wanting to participate in this blog hop are below. But before the chat -- the card and the hop!


Isn't this fun? The PERFECT set.

Used Kelly Purkey's Wonderful Women set, which Kelly kindly sent to me. (Honestly, I wasn't super familiar with Kelly's stamp designs but once I saw them, I now have another wish list! I think my favorite is Littles.)

Made the background with a stamp from Flora & Fauna's Texture Two (I cut the stamp to get the size I wanted) and stamped with Wild Honey, Picked Raspberry and Wilted Violet Distress Oxide inks.

Blog Hop and Giveaway

Here's a list of the other wonderful women participating in this Happy Birthday hop.

Joan Bardee (me)
Michele Ferguson 

Kelly Purkey and Hero Arts each donated 2 stamps sets for us to give away. Hero Arts donated Dare to Dream and Kelly Purkey donated 2 copies of Wonderful Women (link above). Thank you!  

Winners will be chosen from all the comments on the hop made through March 19th, 11:59ET.  Winners will be announced on this blog and Coni Longley's blog a few days later. 

Why Celebrate Justice Ginsburg's Birthday?

Of course I've known who Justice Ginsburg is since she was sworn in on the Supreme Court, and perhaps a little before then.

But I really never gave her much thought, and I didn't know anything about her -- until I saw On The Basis of Sex. I was stunned to find myself crying through the whole movie. The movie has some sad and difficult moments, and it has a David v Goliath theme, but it isn't what I would call a tear jerker.  

So why cry through the whole movie?

The concept of "equality" is a bit of a fiction. We are all born into vastly different circumstances -- some die from a lack of medical care shortly after birth; others live as princes. And throughout our lives, things happen that result in an uneven playing field. A job applicant with no way to get to the interview, a kid who has to take care of her siblings because her parents are addicted to drugs, a foster child, a child who gets cancer, a victim of a crime -- a million things happen over which we have no control.

Life is unfair and makes for an uneven playing field.

But the one thing that shouldn't stand in the way of opportunity, of jobs, or access to school, or a place to live -- is our law. We may not be able to fix all, or even most, of life's problems, our laws shouldn't make life harder.

Ruth Ginsburg argued that a law that prevented a man who was taking care of his sick mother from using from a tax break only because he was male should be struck down as discrimination on the basis of gender.

She won and that was huge. She leveled the playing field for men who wanted to stay home and take care of a sick parent.

That case, shown in the movie, reminded me of the battles that have been fought over the years by Justice Ginsburg and others like her to make sure our laws don't make our lives harder than they already are.

I didn't cry during the movie because I've faced sex discrimination in my life (I have, but I dealt with it). Rather, it reminded me of other, more difficult battles, that I overcame, but only with help from others. The movie's portrayal of one woman overcoming her own personal battles and fighting for others reminded me of those battles and those victories. Thus, the happy and wistful tears.

Most of us just take care of our own business every day. But people like Justice Ginsburg fight for others. We need those people. They do the heavy lifting for the rest of us.

Thank you, Justice Ginsburg and I hope you are having a wonderful birthday.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Grateful

Edited to add:  Kelly Purkey has a freebie related to RGB in her newsletter today. You can find it here


Mar 13, 2019

Thinking About Sentiments


I love this sentiment from Right at Home's Grateful Heart. I used it along with Mondo Magnolia, designed by Julie Ebersole for Ellen Hutson, to make this quick card.

I'm very picky about sentiments. I have to believe them to use them -- which is why you will rarely see me using a sentiment that says something along the lines of "everything will be all right" or "all you need is love" when it is clear we need a lot more than love. I understand the kind intent behind sentiments like this, but there are many times when everything is not all right or we really need an antibiotic or a reinker. Reality!

I almost feel this way about this sentiment. Gratitude doesn't change everything. It doesn't cure cancer or heart disease or famine or the problem with airplanes falling out of the sky. But gratitude sure helps (a lot) to cope with bad things. The older I get the more I hang on to gratitude.

So I'm voting yes for "gratitude changes everything" even though it doesn't really. And yes, this is how my brain works -- as my mom once said to me "you think way too much about stuff that doesn't matter." 

MOOD WHEN DONE = Grateful

Mar 11, 2019

Christmas Layered Poinsettias




Love the look of layered stamps, but I still find it hard to line up most floral images. That's why I love the Penny Black series of brushstroke stamps. If you use them with a stamp positioner, like the MISTI or Tim Holtz one, layering is a breeze.

To make this card, I followed the suggestions that Jill Foster makes in her videos on using these stamps -- use small ink cubes or dye markers and a stamp positioner.  For each set of flowers I colored the image with a lighter Tombow marker followed by the darker one on some parts of the flowers. Because the stamp stays in the positioner, you can add the darker layer effortlessly. I did the same for the leaves with 2 green markers. Used a gold pen to add some color to the center of the flowers.

I did not add any water, but misting the stamp while inked, or painting with a slightly wet brush, will give a more watercolored look. Both styles are gorgeous.



Supplies:  Penny Black Le Fleur Rouge (I've held on to this beauty for a while and will not be getting rid of it!); Penny Black Yuletide Wishes; Tombow Markers 803, 856, 249, and 133; Arches hot press watercolor paper; Versafine Onyx ink; gold pen.

MOOD WHEN DONE: Very happy! My minor hand surgery went fine and I only missed a couple of days of stamping.

Plus, I love this card and now I have ONE Christmas card done for 2019. Thanks to my friend Leslie Miller for inspiring me to get started early on Christmas.